Venom (2018): Action / Sci-Fi

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A lot could be said about this film and the reviews surrounding it but I’m going to keep it short and to the point.

In the graphic novels, Eddie Brock is shady. Really shady. His moral compass takes a one-way ticket. It is all about him and his career as a reporter. Then, Venom comes along, they find each other, and together they develop the ultimate hatred for Spiderman. Over the years, between Venom and Spiderman, numerous timelines have been spawned. To cut the long story short, Eddie Brock/Venom is a supervillain.

Sony’s Venom starts by being murderous and then, due to a not shady Eddie Brock, he stops eating people’s heads and just damages (severely) whoever gets in his way. Here, Eddie Brock is an honest, everyday relatable guy who just tries to keep his head above water and turns Venom into an antihero.

Separate these two in your head and just get entertained. Tom Hardy does a great job, the VFX team nails it, the script has the right amount of character development, laugh, action, and the final outcome stands tall on its own. If I were to pick on something, that would be the fight between Riot and Venom where I was struggling to figure out who is hurting whom and how.

Just enjoy it!

Blindspotting (2018): Comedy / Crime / Drama

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You Raiders fan? Oakland’s city lifestyle? Wanna roam through its street and its everyday people? If the answer is ‘yes’, watch it! If the answer is ‘no’, still watch it!

Cinematically… Director Carlos López Estrada, editor Gabriel Fleming, and writers/producers/ actors Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs sat down and said: “Let’s cut the shit”! Literally and metaphorically. Not one shot is there for no reason. No line is there for no reason. No rap song sang is there for no reason. Anything that could be of no reason, has been cut!

And then there is real life… Films like “Blindspotting” are the reason to film. They remain true to their genres when in times of relentless crime, they become the reason to laugh and become the reason to cry. And they will remain the reason, as long as they remind us that be it black, white, brown, yellow or any other colour, all of us are trying to find our place in this world of labels; struggling with who we are, who we want to be, and who society drives us to be.

Monga (2010): Action / Crime / Drama

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Taiwan’s jewel! A critically acclaimed and commercial success that exceeded expectations. Starting as “coming of age” ending up gangster, “Monga” takes you back from “The Outsiders (1983)”, to “Goodfellas (1990)” and “The Departed (2006)”.

Accurate depiction of Taiwan in the ’80s, “Monga” is traveling you through youngsters wanna turn gangsters, the relationship and clash between Mainlanders and Islanders, loyalty, bloody violence, vulgar language, family, betrayal, status quo, rejection… By the end of it, we are left with bitter-sweet feelings that make us reminisce about our own aspirations and dreams, and the harsh reality that faced them.

Fun facts:

  • Banned in China – which made it even more famous.
  • Language: Mandarin (mostly).
  • Certain actors had to learn Taiwanese Hokkien as they grew up from mainland China to the UK and the US.
  • Its undeniable success became a topic for a Ph.D. thesis.

Berlin Syndrome (2017): Drama / Horror / Mystery

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“One of the most transformational experiences” of her life, and “the most liberating film experience” of her career, Teresa Palmer stated. If you have any doubts, her dynamic performance will certainly convince you. On the other hand, Max Riemelt does his absolute best to make you hate his guts. The fierce chemistry between the duo works around the clock, creating a character-study to be put under the microscope. Cinematography gets a 10/10 for delivering the entrapment’s claustrophobic sense in Berlin’s atrocious winter and the direction guides the editing pace carefully towards the unwrapping of Palmer’s emotional roller-coaster.

Could it have been less than two hours? Yes. Could the ending be more satisfactory for the masses? Yes. Could… I’ll stop here. Be patient, try not to be looking for plot holes, imagine that this monstrosity is happening to you or someone you love, put your phone on silent or away, and this psychological turn visceral madness will get under your skin.

 

Apostle (2018): Drama / Fantasy / Horror

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Brutal. Gory. Bloody. Savage. Relentless. “Apostle”… “The Witch” meets “The Wicker Man” – the 1973 one #justsaying.

Dan Stevens delivers an amazing performance being tough as nails and broken at the same time. Michael Sheen (who speaks in his Welsh accent – rare) on the other hand, nails it as a false prophet, ostensibly stalwart leader but torn deep down, bearing the consequences of his (im)moral choices. Last but not least, writer/editor/director Gareth Evans uses the lens as he only knows how to, and brings to life a H. P. Lovecraft-esque mysticism and fantastical horror world for us to get lost in it.

Welcome to the island…

Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010): Comedy / Horror

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I’ll just cut to the chase here… You feelin’ low? You wanna get high? Next stop… “Tucker and Dale vs Evil”. The remedy. The answer to your prayers. Everything that’s going wrong in this world, wrapped in one movie. It gets crazier… 10 wins, 14 nominations. If you are thinking “WTF?!” no one will blame you. If you are not thinking “WTF?!” then this film is for you.

That said, Tucker and Dale vs Evil has the most honest intentions. It doesn’t trick you for a second. A spoof that brilliantly parodies horrors from “Friday the 13th” to every “cabin in the woods”. Profusely, for the “male/female under 25” American audience. Sounds like your thing? Knock yourself out!

Hush (2016): Horror / Thriller

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Real-life couple writer/editor/director Mike Flanagan and writer/actress Kate Siegel, beautifully collaborate for a second time making “Hush”. An indie, low budget, home invasion, one location horror with a simple premise that cuts to the chase: A deaf woman needs to survive a masked intruder’s invasion.

“Hush” stands tall amongst giants of the genre such as “The Strangers”, “The Last House on the Left”, “When A Stranger Calls” and more. Flawed, yet effective, proves undoubtedly that jump scares and unnecessary screaming are not horror’s obligatory elements for success. With Flanagan’s enthralling perspective and Siegel’s and Gallagher Jr.’s extremely engaging performances, a well-paced, thrilling hour and twenty minutes will fly-by.

Wind River (2017): Crime / Drama / Mystery

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Underrated “Sons of Anarchy” actor Taylor Sheridan became the writer-director of “Wind River”, an American modern, indie masterpiece.

From the sheer will for survival to the against-all-odds rediscovery of the heroes’ inner, rigid strength, to the subject matter’s tragic truth, “Wind River” gives prominence to the animals’ humanity and the humans’ animality.

I salute all actors who poured their souls into their roles, and Taylor Sheridan who, receiving a lengthy 8′ standing ovation at the Cannes, he deservedly won the Un Certain Regard – Best Director.

Coherence (2013): Mystery / Sci-fi / Thriller

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The epitome of an indie, low budget, single location film!  The absolute mind-f@!# that, through largely impromptu dialogue and genuine reactions, makes you question who you are, and/or who you could have been, in multiple, alternate, fractured realities.

A round of applause for the Director, the Production team, and the actors who achieved this with $50K, in 5 nights, with 2 cameras, in 1 location.

A piece of advice: Instinctively, you will try to rationalize and keep track of what is happening. When you start feeling your brain cells frying, STOP!

Dirty Dancing (1987): Drama / Music / Romance

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Ladies… Ladies… Ladies… How many times, in your youth, pending boring family holidays, didn’t you find yourselves daydreaming of being a Jennifer Grey… And that, during the tedious holidays, you would meet, dance, and fall in love with a – more often than not – half-naked Patrick Swayze.

Before Hollywood’s decadence in the Romance genre… Before millions of dollars were spent on cliche, “soppiness”, unnecessary CGI, and kitsch… there was “Dirty Dancing”! There was the Jennifer Grey and the Patrick Swayze. In a production that everything that could go wrong did, I dare anyone to challenge its success and dethrone it.

As for us gentlemen… we pay our respects to Patrick Swayze – dancer, bouncer, surfer, lover… who carved the path for modern actors like Ryan Gosling and Hugh Jackman… to take on multidisciplinary roles who fight, dance, sing, become superheroes and everyday people.

Regardless… ladies and gentlemen… we all hope he rests in peace…

For Petroula.