• 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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  • Tusk (2014)

    ''Tusk'' is a movie that goes off the beaten paths. It's a potential cult movie which will be adored by some and despised by others for decades to come. It's almost impossible to have a neutral or no opinion on this controversial movie. It's not a question about getting it or not, it's simply a matter of personal tastes.

    The story is quickly told. An American pod-cast host ends up in the isolated mansion of an old seaman in Manitoba who wants to share some stories about his life. One gets to know that the old fool is in fact a dangerous serial killer who despises mankind because he got intimidated, raped and tortured by the society after the brutal killing of his parents. The only thing that has ever shown respect to him was a walrus that saved him from a shipwreck in Northern Russia. In order to survive on an isolated island, the serial killer had to make the decision to kill his saviour just hours before he got saved. He regrets that decision and in order to relive this pivotal moment in his life again and to take revenge on a society that made him suffer all life long, the serial killer kidnaps, mutilates and tortures young men to transform them into walruses. While the imprisoned pod-cast host gets now mentally and physically unstable and begins more and more to act like a wild animal, his grounded partner and his cheating girlfriend realize that he is in danger. They arrive in Canada and team up with a drug addict and ex-police officer from Quebec to save their friend or what remains of his human body and soul.

    The film is a grotesque that mixes black comedy, drama, horror and thriller elements all at once. The movie has many changes of tone. When you see the two main characters fooling around, the tone is humorous. A few moments later, you assist a burial after a suicide and the tone gets accusatory. The movie then cuts to an actress who is crying her heart out and complains about her cheating boyfriend as the tone gets depressing. Seconds later, she herself cheats on her boyfriend and the whole scene suddenly feels ironical. This film is filled with these fascinating changes of tones. You constantly change your mind about the different characters as well. The main character looks like a superficial idiot during his show in the beginning of the movie. His partner looks like the friendlier and smarter guy. His girlfriend looks like a confident, faithful and serious person. The villain of the story looks like an innocent old fool. Thirty minutes later, the main character has some intellectual dialogues and proves that he is not as dumb as one might have thought. His partner betrays his best friend by sleeping with his girlfriend who suddenly looks fragile, superficial and unfaithful. The old fool has become an intimidating criminal with a horrible past. 

    It's not just the tone that changes, the overall mood also does. What starts as a juvenile comedy movie in the key of ''The Interview'' turns into a bleak body horror film like ''The Human Centipede'', gets a touch of a crime comedy movie like ''Good Cop, Bad Cop'' and becomes an existential and nearly philosophical drama like the ending of ''I Saw The Devil'' for example. 

    Those who say that this movie is bland, superficial and thoughtless are wrong. This movie has more memorable scenes than ten others together. It's a matter of taste whether you like these scenes or not. The scenes of the burial and the close-up on the crying girlfriend shook me up. The ring-tone of the main character's cell phone and the weird dialogue between the French Canadian police officer and the serial killer in front of a shack made me laugh out loud. The torture scenes in the old mansion and the closing part in a zoo made me feel disgust, horror and sadness at once. 

    The movie also includes many cultural elements in a humorous way. The idea of including the topic of Duplessis' orphans in the movie was brilliant and shows that the makers of the movie know what they are talking about. The food topic and especially the details about poutines in the movie were completely absurd and hilarious at the same time. The discussions about hockey and especially the Quebec Nordiques were the best jokes about Quebeckers I have ever heard and I have witnessed many lukewarm attempts.


    I'm going to admit that this movie is difficult. Those who are looking for a typical American comedy movie might get shocked by the explicit torture scenes. Those who are looking for a sinister body horror film may not dig the humorous parts. This film is not for closed-minded and light-hearted people who just want to get entertained. This movie will haunt you long after it ended in one way or another. All the things mentioned above make this film something really special. It's one of the few movies that still try to innovate at all costs. The more I think about the movie, the more I appreciate it and feel like watching it over and over again. If my review intrigued you and you consider yourself an open-minded and tough cineast, I can only warmly recommend you this incredibly entertaining mixture of the joyful and the woeful. For anyone else, try this at your own costs but don't tell me I didn't warn you. 

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  • Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014)

    The first "Sin City" was a revolutionary movie in my opinion in terms of its comic book style, violent film noir atmosphere and intriguing storytelling involving switches between several plot lines that were loosely bound together. While many mediocre American movies quickly got many unnecessary sequels, one of the very best Hollywood films of the past ten years had to wait more than nine years for its second strike to be released. This is also the reason for the rather disappointing sales figures as many younger fans of the original have grown older and forgotten about the first part, younger audiences might not have heard about the excellent original yet and worn-out superhero movies in the key of "Guardians Of The Galaxy" as well as the wave of exchangeable dystopian teenage flicks like "Divergent" are what younger audiences prefer to watch these days.

    Let me tell you that these people are missing out on a highly atmospheric, breathtaking and stylistic follow-up that brings back the magic of the original and only fails to beat it because this movie is slightly shorter and the four stories told in here are a little bit less original than the four ones told nine and a half years earlier. This being said, it would be a wise choice to watch the first movie again before you get to see its sequel because the new film refers to several events that have happened before in Sin City. 

    The style and spirit of the movie has been copied many times after its original release in rather similar flicks like "V for Vendetta" (2006), "Max Payne" (2008) and "The Spirit" (2008) which just proves how influencing the original was. That's why the sequel feels a little bit like one has seen similar stuff before but let's not forget that this franchise is the one that started this whole unique extravagant comic book style. If you like the aforementioned movies, you will also adore this movie that is hold in classic black and white with a few colourful parts here and there that make stand out certain body parts or objects. I'm still fascinated by this classic and yet revolutionary way to design a movie. The sinister and often sarcastic stories, the excellent soundtrack and the bleak characters that all have their dark sides add much to the gripping atmosphere of the movie. Especially the actors are doing an outstanding job in this movie. Mickey Rourke convinces as brutal yet charming outlaw, Josh Brolin excels as broken man with a raw appearance but a soft core who definitely makes me forget that his character was performed by Clive Owen in the first film, Powers Boothe delivers as antisocial, corrupt and pitiless politician and Eva Green perfectly portrays the sexy yet evil miss misery. Even the secondary characters like the suicidal Jessica Alba, the silent beauty and elegant killing machine Jamie Chung or the short role of Bruce Willis as a desperate ghost or guardian angel can entirely convince. The cameos of Lady Gaga and other famous people are also a nice addition to this film. The clash of all these characters leads to many brutal yet artistic fight scenes where the blood is flowing, explicit but honestly passionate dialogues take place and several scenes including explicit yet elegant nudity are shown. This is a highly entertaining mixture including lots of black humour and sarcasm, tons of over-the-top action sequences, some moments filled with extreme emotions and a solid base of tension and a high dose of sex appeal. Weak or conservative minds as well as young children should therefor definitely avoid this movie.


    In the end, if you liked the original "Sin City", you will also like its high above average but not classic sequel "Sin City: A Dame To Kill For". If you haven't watched these movie, you have definitely missed out on two of the most atmospheric, original and vivid Hollywood movies of the past ten years. Go and correct your mistakes of the past now. Along with the experimental crazy ride filled with star actors that was Luc Besson's "Lucy", this is by far the best movie of the not-so-young year 2014 for me. This is the only current movie franchise I definitely want to carry on, no matter if the majority misjudges this excellent movie and prefers to watch its trendy fast-food cinema. This kind of art isn't for everyone and this is what makes this so unique. 

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  • The Limits Of Control (2009)


    "The Limits Of Control" is a twisted and visually stunning experience with a philosophical background that leaves each one enough space to interpret the movie in one's own way. I think it all has something to do with two extremes: having a strong ego and only caring about one's own insignificant destiny on one side and always blindly accepting commands from others in an inhuman robotic way on the other side. But you are not forced to go that far and you can also take the movie as an eccentric and experimental film about a silent killer on a weird journey through Spain before committing his murder. 

    It's quite hard to put the name of a genre on such a movie. The movie has a few suspenseful moments but not enough to be called a Thriller or a horror movie. There are no important action scenes in here. It's not a drama either because we only get to know a few details about the character and nothing at all about his boss, his contacts or his target. It's not a sexually driven movie despite a nude lady following the trace of the killer. Both are attracted to each other but the killer refuses to sleep with her because he wants to focus on his job only. I wouldn't call this film a mystery movie neither because nothing truly abnormal or surreal is happening. The only way to describe this movie is an experimental avant-garde film that can't be put into a certain category. That's also the main object of this film that wants the viewers to use their own imagination, to be creative and spontaneous or to confront this film with their very own reality. This is the kind of movie you can discuss and think about for a very Long time if you are able to open up your mind. 

    What we get in here are in fact many stunning landscapes that almost look like paintings. It's a very artistic movie anyway. We get to see a whole lot of diversified paintings. We listen to a lot of diversified music from classical music over electronic music to improvised flamenco sounds. Many of the contacts the main characters meets talk about arts as well before transmitting new secret messages or weapons to the killer. 


    The other thing we get in here are a lot of dialogues. While the main character only talks a few repetitive and mechanical words like "yes" and "no", almost all other characters apart of his boss, the nude lady and his target who talk a little bit more to him, approach him the very same way. They first ask the killer if he speaks Spanish which he always denies. Then, they ask him if he is interested in arts, hallucinations, sciences or anything else and start a short monologue about that topic. The killer remains silent and listens to them. These strange meetings always end with an exchange of two matchboxes that include secret messages written on a paper which the killer reads and then swallows with the help of two espressos in two cups.

    This movie surely isn't everyone's cup of tea and may frustrate some viewers. Others like me may though be charmed by this unusual and creative way of movie making. This film has enough details and intriguing scenes to justify multiple concentrated viewings. It's hard to ultimately rate this film but I really liked what I saw. The movie made me think a lot at some points or just adore the cool soundtrack, the beautiful Spanish landscapes, the beautiful actresses Yuki Kudo and Paz de la Huerta, the cool clothes of Isaach de Bankolé and the well written dialogues. If you're intrigued by my review, watch this movie at all costs but if you think what I've just written sounds too strange you won't like this film.


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  • The Rum Diary (2011)


    To be honest, this movie is quite empty. It lacks of an addicting or coherent story. The shy romantic intrigue is not convincing or emotional at all. There is a lack of tension in many moments of the movie that has quite a couple of lengths. On the other side, the ending is quite sudden and leaves the viewer on a rather bad note. You won't know what ultimately happens to the characters that have been introduced in the movie apart of the line that the alcoholic and unconventional journalist Paul Kemp will continue writing and telling the world the truth and marry the woman he has met in the movie.

    Despite all these flaws, I somehow like this movie for its very unusual style. The locations are very colourful, for example during the vivid Carnival celebration. The movie also portrays a critical view of the poverty in Puerto Rico, the clash between lazy and corrupt American businessman and tourists and the aggressive and desperate local population as journalist Kemp and his mate Sala get in a fight with the local population and the police in a cheap restaurant. Some characters are quite weird and ultimately interesting for that single reason as the deadbeat alcoholic journalist Moberg who's always trying out new drugs, thinks he has only one week left to live and listens to Adolf Hitler's speeches on vinyl. The movie has many hilarious slapstick moments and a couple of surprising scenes when Kemp and Sala try to save the latter's car or what is left of it.

    That's why ultimately feel torn apart concerning this flick. It's definitely quite artistic and has a certain unconventional charm that feels like a fresh breath of air in Hollywood. The whole thing feels like a humorous and not very well structured bad trip. The story is quite redundant and the ending a big letdown. I actually enjoyed watching it but would not purchase a copy of this movie or watch it twice. I'm torn apart if I should give this six or seven points but as it's a quite unusual experience, I slightly tend to the more favourable rating in the end. People that like humorous bad trip movies or the acting of Johnny Depp and Giovanni Ribsi should though check it out.


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