The ABCs of Death 2 (2014)
Director: Kimo Stamboel, Timo Tjahjanto
Starring: Oka Antara, Kazuki Kitamura, Rin Takanashi
Running Time: 2 hrs, 17 mins
Unrated


Review by Daniel Stidham

Killers, a new crime drama from Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stamboel (otherwise known as The Mo Brothers) follows two men – one in Tokyo and the other in Jakarta – who commit murder to film, uploading their victims’ final moments to the internet to the delight of onlookers. The image of a dying person’s face on a computer screen, coldly flanked by a stream of anonymous commenters, is the kind of bitter juxtaposition that the film likes to play with. A movie about snuff film can hardly escape engaging in some meta-commentary about our fascination with death and violence, a subject with a long cinematic history. Yet Killers is hardly the Mo Brothers’ attempt at Funny Games. Stylistically it follows in the footsteps of ultra-violent Asian crime thrillers like I Saw the Devil, though at some points it has more in common with movies like Saw or Untraceable – at least it recalls such flicks in its opening scene where a masked man kills a young woman on camera.

Departed-style, we have twin protagonists (if you can call them that) in Bayu and Nomura. Nomura (Kazuki Kitamura) is a stylish, single Japanese man, a sociopath and amateur murder enthusiast. Bayu (Oka Antara) is a frustrated journalist and family man with a daughter and estranged wife and a score to settle with a powerful Indonesian businessman. Though different sorts of people, they meet via chat room and develop the kind of uneasy relationship that I would assume comes with knowing your new friend is an amoral monster. Bayu experiences an “attraction of repulsion” to Nomura’s snuff films. He likes to ceremoniously slam his laptop shut in disgust, but he also finds himself awakening to his own latent bloodlust.

Read the full review on CutPrintFilm.com

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Dying of the Light (2014)
Director: Paul Schrader
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Anton Yelchin, Alexander Karim
Running Time: 1 hr, 34 mins
Rated: R


Review by Daniel Stidham

Early in Dying of the Light, the camera zooms in on a man’s hand which then begins to tremble uncontrollably. The hand belongs to Nicolas Cage, and this shot is the first best hope we have that the film we’re watching will be worthwhile. Though Cage has a notoriously uneven track record, many of his highest highs involve him playing disturbed, afflicted, or deeply neurotic characters. Leading Man Cage, National Treasure Cage, is fine as far as he goes; but what you really want is Matchstick Men Cage, Bad Lieutenant Cage. You want the guy who has unpredictable freak-outs, manic ticks and ridiculous hair. Sometimes it’s a thin line that separates “I want to take his face…off!” from “No, not the bees,” but we’re willing to take that risk because when it works it pays off big time; and for at least a few minutes of Dying of the Light, it looks as though we’re about to be treated to the next entry in the “Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit” canon.

Read the full review on CutPrintFilm.com

Exposition and Emotion in Interstellar

Interstellar1

by Daniel Stidham

My first impressions upon leaving Interstellar were not gushingly positive. I almost tweeted about how full I felt from being spoon-fed by Chris Nolan for 3 hours, though I held off my quipping in order to give myself time to think about the film. Without giving anything away, I found a major third-act revelation in his new science fiction opus to be frustratingly over-explained. Something that ought to feel like a major discovery, a heavy realization about the very nature of time and space, quickly spills forth from two characters ill-equipped to diagnose or apply it. Before we have a chance to let it sink in, they are already using it to tie plot threads together and push the story forward to its resolution. The result is, ahem, a lack of gravity (I’m sorry). A feeling of weightlessness, if you will (I wouldn’t if I were you). It’s a sense that Nolan is interested in big ideas, but only as long as they provide “whoa” moments to audiences. READ FULL ARTICLE

Godzilla (2014)
Director: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen
Running Time: 2 hrs, 3 mins
Rated: PG-13


Review by Brother Reed

SPOILER WARNING: This review references the movie’s ending and other plot developments throughout. Read at your own risk.

The moment the screen went black, I threw up my hands in exasperation. It was an emotion that had been building slowly over the past hour. This was the first time that I, a lifelong Godzilla fan, had ever seen the King of the Monsters on the big screen. I should be ecstatic. The last time he came to an American cinema was a universally recognized travesty, disowned and dismissed by most fans as an affront to the character’s legacy; and this new movie is by all accounts a superior entry into the well-loved saga. So why was I so disappointed? In fact, disappointment is really the wrong word for it. I was angry. I felt cheated. Bamboozled. Snookered. Ne’er-done-well. I won’t reproduce here the exact comments I made in the theater but here’s a visual aid:
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non-stop-poster Non-Stop (2014)
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery
Running Time: 1 hr, 46 mins
Rated: PG-13


Review by Brother Reed

What about Non-Stop, though?

Non-Stop may have had the most effective advertising of any movie in recent memory. That Key and Peele tie-in sketch, for all its transparency, completely cemented the title of the movie in my consciousness. Now I haven’t actually loved any of these Liam Neeson tough guy movies, though I thought Taken was alright. Unknown and A-Team were completely forgettable. Still, there isn’t a lot of competition right now so I went out to see the conspicuously hyphenated Non-Stop, featuring the incomparable Liam Neesons. READ FULL REVIEW