• Assassin's Revenge (2018)

    Stating that Assassin's Revenge is an odd movie is quite an understatement. I expected the film to be a trashy action b-movie starring actresses and actors whose best years are far behind them like Patrick Bergin and Bai Ling but I certainly wasn't prepared for such a weird experience. Despite its numerous flaws, the film managed to be so unique that it's ultimately still entertaining and a purchase I didn't regret.

    Assassin's Revenge is a title that doesn't make any sense in the first place as there is neither an assassin nor a credible tale of revenge. The movie tells the story of an old and disillusioned police officer who retires when his partner gets killed. Even though the protagonist had a secret relationship with his partner's wife, he suddenly seems to care about him now that he is dead. He decides to become a masked vigilante who arrests, chases and kills criminals at night. He doesn't have any specific powers or talents and is only guided by emotions and guts. The masked vigilante tries to arrest an influential serial killer who commits random acts of violence simply because he is a sadist. This psychopathic serial killer is responsible for the masked vigilante's colleague's death and protagonist and antagonist soon start provoking each other.

    The movie is extremely odd for numerous reasons. Large parts of the film are shot in black and white with a few coloured elements in form of blood. Assassin's Revenge basically looks like a very poor copy of the Sin City franchise. Numerous scenes include comic book stylistics that are used as a poor excuse to keep the film's budget as low as possible. Whenever there is an action scene, the real life sequences cut to comic book stylistics where limbs are torn and twisted in any possible way. The dialogues are often off camera and mostly focus on narrative parts. Sometimes two characters meet but instead of talking to each other, the dialogue takes place off camera or is simulated through long narrative monologues. The few actual dialogues are poorly scripted and quite simplistic. Our masked vigilante meets a woman who helped the serial killer escape and asks her if she helped the wanted criminal to which she replies that this is the case and that the masked vigilante should admit that he feels like having sexual intercourse with her. If this example seems odd to you, you can find plenty of this in this trainwreck.

    The worst offender however is the movie's ending. Without the credits, the film only has a length slightly above one hour but instead of offering a proper conclusion, there simply isn't any and the viewer is informed that this story will continue at a certain point. The story simply ends with the serial killer being on the loose again and the masked vigilante swearing to track him down. The movie concludes before it actually starts. It rather feels like the pilot episode to a series that might or might not see the light of day.

    Despite all these terrible elements, the movie is still somehow entertaining. The visual effects look stylish, the narrative style is quite original, the comic style action sequences are brutal, there are numerous cameos by more or less known trash flick legends, the soundtrack mixes ambient sounds, electronic music and rock tunes and the film certainly doesn't overstay its welcome which makes it easy to digest and somewhat entertaining.

    One has to wonder what the purpose of this unfinished low-budget film was. Even the genre isn't quite clear. It's like a fantasy movie without phantastic elements. It could be a science-fiction film without any science or common sense. Maybe it's a particularly mellow horror movie that just isn't scary at all. Perhaps it's a crime flick where the committed murders are so random that they become unimportant. Another theory is that this is an action film with most action scenes being shown through comic sequences or taking place off camera. I believe the man behind this project, director Richard Driscoll, doesn't even know what this movie is supposed to be himself. Maybe he just tries to be the next Tommy Wiseau.

    In the end, you will enjoy Assassin's Revenge if you look for an odd but original film that is all over the place which you can watch with your friends between Sharknado 5 and Titanic II. This movie actually has the potential to become a cult movie because it's so particularly odd. Only time will tell whether I predicted this movie's status before anyone else or whether this film will soon be forgotten.

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  • Isle of Dogs (2018)

    Usually, I'm not a big fan of animation movies but Isle of Dogs certainly deserves the praise it gets. I would even consider it the best animation movie since the brilliant Wall-E ten years ago. I predict this movie is going to win at least one Academy Award next year.

    There are several elements that make this film stand out. First of all, the stop-motion animation manages both to honor influential animated films and series of the sixties and seventies and to develop some stylish retro-chic that makes the movie look fresh. The numerous references to Japanese culture in form of clothes and settings, drinks and foods as well as spoken and written language are quite charming. The story is interesting enough as well and follows a group of dogs who help the orphaned nephew of a tyrannic mayor who wants to exterminate dogs find his vanished guard dog. The film teaches values such as courage, democracy, freedom, friendship and resilience. Its messages are important for children but also apply for adults. Despite its intelligent plot and intriguing intentions, Isle of Dogs is a movie that remains entertaining and easy to digest. The dog characters complement one another in a humorous way and especially Chief is quite sympathetic as tough dog with a soft core. The human characters aren't as detailed but also rather charming, especially the resilient Atari and the courageous Tracy. The fates of dogs and humans will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

    There isn't much to criticize about this beautiful movie. The plot could have been a little bit more creative and surprising. The movie might moralize a little bit too much here and there. There are a few too many flashbacks that break the movie's flow. It's debatable whether choosing an American exchange student as one of the protagonists in a story taking place exclusively in Japan was truly necessary. However, all those things are only minor details that won't take away from your enjoyment of this superb flick.

    If there is a movie for the whole family to watch this year, it has to be the beautiful yet profound Isle of Dogs. Wes Anderson's latest project is emotional, entertaining and intelligent and should please the brains and hearts of old and young cinephiles alike. If even someone who usually doesn't appreciate animation movies a lot like me likes this film quite a lot, I guess it must be something truly memorable.

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  • The Room (2003)

    I've finally discovered this movie because of the release of The Disaster Artist which is about the making of this film and the fact that one of my local cinemas has screened this film for one hundred months in a row.

    There are movies that are so bad that they are genuinely entertaining like the vivid and weird Samurai Cop. Other films are so bad that they are genuinely horrible and don't have anything going for them like the vapid Hobgoblins. The Room is actually a mixture of both types of bad movies. The first thirty minutes of the film were extremely hard to sit through and basically just consisted of poorly shot soft porn scenes. However, the final hour or so was so absurd with numerous strange subplots and a certain raise in tension that it kept my attention until the end.

    There are a few elements that I genuinely like. First of all, the camera work isn't too bad if compared to numerous contemporary low budget flicks with shaky camera perspectives. Secondly, Juliette Danielle isn't only nice to look at but has a certain appeal as confused sociopath and careless femme fatale. Thirdly, Tommy Wiseau's acting skills, even though they are wooden, definitely have a memorable and unique touch and aren't like anything I have ever seen in my life. Fourthly, the movie's soundtrack blends in very well. I wouldn't call it great but it serves its purpose in the different scenes.

    The other elements are so bad that they keep my attention. The acting skills vary from below average to bad. The dialogues are so thin, repetitive and wooden that an average elementary school student could have come up with something more intriguing. The main story could be described in three sentences but takes more than one hour and a half hours to unfold in a painfully slow development. The numerous unnecessary subplots going nowhere are cringe-worthy oddities that turn out being unintentionally memorable. The decorations and settings look cheap, fake and misplaced. The overlong sex scenes look so unreal that they are actually everything but exciting.

    Among the biggest oddities are the random spoon pictures, the main character's friends making love in his living room for no apparent reason, the emotionless dialogue about breast cancer, the numerous random football scenes and the two fake scenes involving characters tripping and getting injured. My favorite part is however the scene in the flower shop with the overtly quick exchange of senseless dialogue lines. This scene alone shows everything this film is about: a random scene with an unimportant side character, weak acting skills, bland dialogues, ordinary settings and unintentionally funny improvisation.

    The Room might have several purposes. It shows us how not to make a movie. It's a great party flick to watch with your friends to switch your brains off. It's a welcome distraction from your everyday lives. It's bizarre, goofy and almost surreal in its very unique style. It's a movie you won't ever forget. These are perhaps unintentional accomplishments that most serious films however fail to achieve which is why Tommy Wiseau still deserves some serious respect for his project.

    Despite its numerous obvious flaws, it's a weird experience you won't forget anytime soon which is exactly why this disaster of a movie became a cult classic. The sad thing is that Tommy Wiseau put so much passion into this project that I would honestly recommend watching this movie over any exchangeable contemporary superhero sequel flooding the world's cinemas. The Room is one of those movies you should have watched once in your lifetime for all the reasons stated above. I'm sure I will watch it again with a bunch of friends after having just discovered this film on my own this week.

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  • Suburbicon (2017)

    Suburbicon is a movie that doesn't deserve the overwhelmingly negative critics it gets. The movie is an ambitious mixture of a crime flick, dark comedy and social drama in almost equal parts. This isn't unusual for a script by the talented Coen brothers but Suburbicon is particularly out-thought and precise.

    First of all, we have the story of a mysterious home invasion in a seemingly perfect town that leads to the murder of a physically disabled mother.

    Secondly, the film portrays the small-town stereotypes of the late fifties in a humorous manner and also includes a solid dose of situation comedy.

    Thirdly, the movie shows us the struggles of an African-American family in an otherwise homogeneous all-white neighbourhood.

    In addition to this original mixture, the film is extremely stylish and portrays small-town stereotypes of the late fifties perfectly, including exchangeable family houses, flashy clothes and robust vehicles.

    The movie includes numerous talented actors who are challenged to play unusual roles and deliver good to great jobs. Matt Damon really convinces as two-faced family father, Julianne Moore plays two roles and portrays both a bitter and disabled family mother as well as her manipulative and superficial sister and child actor Noah Jupe has his international breakthrough as he performs a shy and antisocial but also open-minded and clever boy. Even the secondary roles are unique and played by talented actors. One has to point out Gary Basaraba who plays a sympathetic but tough uncle, Oscar Isaac convinces as an investigative insurance agent and Glenn Fleshler impresses as scary villain.

    If the acting is so convincing, it's due to the great work of the great directing effort. George Clooney is obviously rather known as an actor but he proves that he can also direct a great movie and I would even say that his precise work here is better than many of the somewhat superficial roles he has played in his career. It's great to see that George Clooney is still trying out new things so late in his career.

    Some negative critics here focus on the fact that the movie portrays the racism of an all-white neighbourhood towards an African-American family and even shows the display of a Confederate flag in one scene where an angry mob smashes the windows of the family house. First of all, it's a matter of fact that racism was very present in those neighbourhoods of the United States of America back in the fifties and it sadly still is an issue today if we witness the numerous cases of police violence against African-American citizens. Secondly, the movie also shows that some residents aren't participating in the protests but rather trying to ignore it in order to not get into any trouble with their neighbours which was an attitude several people had back in those days. Thirdly, a few select people are shown which are helping the African-American family the best they can and it's a particularly clever move that the movie focuses on the friendship of a black and a white boy who show the ignorant adults around them that there is hope for peaceful coexistence in the future. Therefore, the movie isn't biased or left-wing propaganda as some angry reviewers try to make you think but a balanced and realistic portrait of a flawed society. Finally, the scene with the Confederate flag isn't offensive because the display of this flag is often associated with white supremacy. If you have a Confederate flag in your yard, you should seriously ask yourself what kind of person you are. This flag isn't anything to be proud of.

    To keep it short, Suburbicon is an entertaining, original and stylish movie that mixes crime flick, dark comedy and social drama in a perfectly balanced way. Ignore the negative critics and enjoy one of the greatest movies of the year. The fact that the incredibly boring Blade Runner 2049 gets so much critical acclaim while Suburbicon is unjustifiably criticized proves once more that popular opinions don't mean much when it comes to understanding a piece of art.

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  • The Visit (2015)

    M. Night Shyamalan is one of the most fascinating and controversial contemporary directors. His newest independent movie goes back to his roots and offers an increasingly addicting plot, a solid acting performance and a twist that is so simple you might not even see it coming. The creative Indian artist manages to make a convincing movie despite a limited budget, a rather unexperienced crew and a lot of found footage material that is usually employed in some of the worst contemporary horror films like ''Devil's Due''. In this movie, the idea of the found footage material makes sense for once and even adds some intimate depth to the two main characters. The fact that two young and rather unknown actors are taking the lead somehow adds to the credibility of the scenario. Even the limited budget turns out to be an advantage since this movie comes around without any distracting special effects. Still, the camera angles, the lighting techniques and the soundtrack are decently chosen and add to an overall positive impression.

    What makes this movie stand out is its curious mixture of genres. In fact, M. Night Shyamalan once said that there are three different versions of this film and I'm really curious to watch the other two. One version is an over-the-top comedy flick, the second is a creepy horror movie and the cinematic choice that I'm reviewing right now is in fact a convincing mixture of both. Let's add that the beginning of this movie almost feels like a mixture of a documentary and a reality television show.  

    Most of the times, humorous horror movies can't convince me and feel ridiculous to me since I even disliked the original ''Evil Dead'' flicks. In this clever case, the movie starts with a few awkward scenes where the audience might not be sure whether they should laugh or feel scared which adds to the overall uneasy atmosphere of the film. In the beginning, one doesn't clearly know where this movie is going to lead us. There are a few creepy horror movie sequences. Other moments feel like light slapstick comedy scenes. The behaviour of some characters shows hints at a solid psycho thriller. The background story of the movie includes dramatic elements. M. Night Shyamalan leads us to a surprisingly coherent and entertaining potpourri of genres before the final thirty minutes of this cinematic cut clearly prove that this version ends up being a gruesome psycho thriller or horror movie. The twisting and turning story is so captivating that the final twist comes almost unexpectedly despite its simplicity.

    It has become an almost popular trend to expose M. Night Shyamalan's most recent efforts to unjustified prejudice but let me tell you that true fans of this director and the psycho thriller and horror genres will get more than they could expect from this movie. Despite its subtle diversity, this film is to the point and never loses its clear guiding line. Despite its slow build-up, the film always remains entertaining and even gripping. This movie might not be the director's opus magnum but its mixture of grounded cinematic elements and experimental influences from diverse genres makes this one of the director's best movie of the past ten years and one of the better psycho thrillers or horror movies of a rather unconvincing cinematic year 2015. If you are a sucker for any of these two genres, I can warmly recommend this movie to you. 

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