Archive for psychological thriller

Bellflower

Posted in Strange Love with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2011 by Cristina Blackwater

Bellflower – 2011

plot: Bellflower follows two friends as they venture out into the world to begin their adult lives. Literally all their free time is spent building flame-throwers and weapons of mass destruction in hopes that a global apocalypse will occur and clear the runway for their imaginary gang “Mother Medusa”. While waiting for the world to end, their call to excitement comes unexpectedly when one of them meets a charismatic young woman and falls hard in love. Quickly integrated into a new group of friends, they set off on a journey of betrayal, love, hate, infidelity and extreme violence more devastating and fiery than any of their apocalyptic fantasies.

Let me start off by saying words can hardly explain how much i loved this movie. so pardon me if this will be perhaps yet another very partial pretend-review of a movie, but after all, this is my damn movie blog so you guys deal with it or leave now. Bellflower is up there in the top 3 movies i have watched this year, next to Drive and I Saw The Devil. it touched me in so many ways. so many real, raw, visceral ways. but let’s start with a little back story.

Bellflower is an indie 2011 movie written and directed by Evan Glodell, who is also the protagonist of the movie. it’s essentially, at the poster says, a love story. of many kinds. first and foremost we have Aiden and Woodrow (Evan Glodell), two best friends who move to LA from Wisconsin, with a common passion for Mad Max and homemade pyrotechnics. they are set on building their own homemade flamethrower and a replica of the Medusa car, in the hope that a global apocalypse will occur and clear the runway for their imaginary gang

in the meantime, you know, they’re just boys being boys. there’s lots of partying, laughing, fighting, and especially drinking. tons and tons and tons of it. then there’s the girl. there’s always a girl, isn’t there? Woodrow meets her and instantly falls for her, and then shit starts hitting the fan. you could very easily compare her to a Fight Club’s Marla of some kind, or even better, to an Eternal Sunshine’s Clementine. the girl is wild and young and carefree and  nutty on the side. the two of them, on their first date, decide to go on a spontaneous road trip to Texas, and are pretty much inseparable since.

this seemingly strange but mostly romantic movie turns progressively (MUCH) darker as their relationship crumbles, and the rest is a voyage that takes on surreal, truly apocalyptic notes that more than one reviews rightly describes it as a generational statement. the people in the movie try to find themselves, and try to find something bigger than themselves, something to believe in even in a post apocalyptic fucked up world that seldom offers means to grab onto reality.

and what a grand journey that is! Evan Glodell worked on this movie for years, shot it with a non existing budget and a crew of 11 dedicated people and built most of the props, including the flame throwers and muscle car. also, at some point in the movie he grows a beard and is a total fucking babe. but i digress. Glodell not only wrote, produce, directed, co-edited, and starred in his movie, but he also built a custom camera for it, a “Coatwolf Model II digital cinema camera who looks like a steampunk wet dream, from the old-school bellows on the front to the hand-machined nameplate on the side”

what more do you need as an invitation to hurry up and watch this? how about a hot beard picture?

alright, i lied. that wasn’t for you. it was entirely for my pleasure.

seriously though.. this movie is awesome. i hope this is the start of a very long, brilliant career for this young director who managed to make yet another indie gem out of virtually nothing. and to hell with the huge hollywood blockbusters.

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Buried

Posted in Other Cinema with tags , , , , , , , on January 29, 2011 by Cristina Blackwater

Buried – 2010

 

Plot:  Paul is a U.S. contractor working in Iraq. After an attack by a group of Iraqis he wakes to find he is buried alive inside a coffin. With only a lighter and a cell phone it’s a race against time to escape this claustrophobic death trap.

 

Buried is a 2010 spanish thriller directed by Rodrigo Cortés and starring Ryan Reynolds.. and no one else.

he is the only on-scene presence for the whole 95 minutes. a man (Paul Conroy) is buried in a coffin with only a lighter and a cell phone. the entire movie is shot within the walls of that coffin. no other actors, no other locations. raise your hand if the premise sounds kinda boring? especially since the only actor has been previously known mostly for his romantic comedies?

well, i will assure you that Buried is anything BUT boring.

the camera follows a man down a spiral colored with many emotions. Reynolds hops from pain, fear, hope, despair, anger, resignation, anxiety, relief, sadness, happiness like the most dexterous of actors, and never once makes you realize that you are watching a film where you can only see his face and not much else.  he never once fails to deliver and he never once doesn’t seem believable. team Reynolds! (and i didn’t even like him before i saw this and Paper Man..)

i liked this movie so much that i actively took time to go scout around for negative reviews(yawn), which i never do (because again, yawn), just to see why people would be so insane not to give it a 10/10 and not find it as entertaining as i did.

they ALL blame the same things out of this character: the fact that he can’t stay calm and the fact that he uses his lighter way too much, things that “even a fucking moron knows that just consume oxygen so just fuck off and die already” (this comes from an angry viewer on IMDB). here’s my point of view, dear angry viewer(s):

first of all, if the movie caused such a big reaction out of you, it already delivered fully and you are a loser.

and second: try waking up after a terrorist attack stuck in a coffin in middle of nowhere Iraq scared shitless and then if you manage to survive, tell me all about how you didn’t breathe hard or use the ONLY weapon you had to overcome one of the primal human fears (lying in complete darkness). no? didn’t think so. you are a loser.

third: the writer thought about idiotic people like you, so he went out of his way to write down exactly why the man is EXTRA incoherent at the time of his abduction (even tho he isn’t extra incoherent, but you see, that’s how you put up with your idiotic viewers) – the man has a pathologic case of anxiety, which he takes pills for. he says this on the phone and even shows you clearly his benzodiazepine of choice before swallowing a handful of em trying not to die from repeted panic attacks. are you still whining that since he is unable to save his oxygen the movie is not realistic? man, you really are a big fat loser.

bottom line, Buried is a good movie, despite your predominance to side or not side with its point of view on morals-politics-burocracy-whatever, it’s a good, entertaining 95 minutes with a spectacular performance from an actor you wouldn’t expect something like this out of. and the display of class and style lies in keeping you interested all the way thru the end without once changing scenery or showing you a different face than the one of the main character.

i have watched this twice already: once thru a tiny airplane screen on my way to Canada, and even if i couldn’t hear perfectly – with those crappy airline headphones with funky power plugs so you can’t use your ipod ones – i found it just as enjoyable as thru a big flat screen with surround.

Epitaph

Posted in K Cinema with tags , , , , , , , on April 30, 2010 by Cristina Blackwater

Epitaph – 2007

Plot: An old doctor, circa 1979, discovers that the Ansaeng (Safe Life) Hospital, one of the most modern medical facilities in the colonial period, is about to be demolished. This sets off reminiscences of his internship days at the hospital in 1942, when he got caught up in a number of supernatural episodes

Alright kiddos, now we’re talking! back to business with a damn good korean horror piece.

Epitaph is the 2007 debut film of the Jeong Brothers (and let me tell you how happy i am to finally discover some korean “brothers” in the filmmaking industry!).  it’s a refined, intelligent and surprisingly effective Gothic horror.

hooray! not all hope is lost when it comes to contemporary asian horror. first of all let me tell you that this movie looks fantastic: stunning visuals, great soundtrack, and good acting. the whole package. plus, it’s actually scary! i was pleasantly surprised to be shaken up by some parts of the movie.

let me try to break it down briefly, tho: because for some people, especially those who are not used to the typical flashback, time-lag structure of many asian flicks, the narrative might seem quite confusing (but really, it isn’t)

The story is roughly divided into three segments. In the first, the young Jeong-nam/Masao finds himself attracted to a stunning-looking young girl’s dead body, allegedly a victim of a failed double suicide.

The second segment, flagrantly influenced by OldBoy (it even repeats a key line of dialogue, “I love you, Ajjeossi” — a generic Korean word for a man some years older), is a tale of Asako , the only survivor of a fatal car crash. Asako is haunted by the awful ghost of her mother, and Doctor Lee , convinced that this is the working of her survivor’s guilt, attempts to cure her.

Finally, the hospital’s surgeons Dr. Kaneda and Dr. Kim Dong-won find themselves wrapped up in some serial murders of Japanese soldiers.

here’s a picture of the three doctors at work

the second segment, the tale of little Asako, is the most effective one, and is also the one that will give you the shivers.

so here you have it, a good, beautiful horror movie that will keep you entertained on your next movie night.

Mother

Posted in K Cinema with tags , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2010 by Cristina Blackwater

Mother – madeo – 2009

plot: Hye-ja is a ginseng vendor and an unlicensed acupuncturist in a small town in southern South Korea. She dotes on her son, Do-joon, who is 27, unemployed, and mentally incapacitated on some level, which Hye-ja seems to ignore.A high school girl is found dead on the roof of an abandoned building, and the local detectives arrest Do-joon based on circumstantial evidence. They coerce him to sign a confession and quickly imprison him. Hye-ja, distraught and convinced he is innocent, searches for the real killer, uncovering many secrets from the townspeople.

Hey there! long time no see!

I’ve been dying to update Zombie Cupcakes for a while now, but work has been so crazy and, and… ok. I have no excuse. also, it’s been so long since I last wrote a movie review I almost forgot how to do it!

BUT, and here’s how I can make up for the time where I didn’t give you all enough attention or information, i am back with one of those perfect 10’s that don’t need much introduction (also that will make it easier for me to get back into the game of things.. totally selfish, yes). it’s been a long time since i didn’t bring you a masterpiece.. so here it is: Mother.

Madeo is a 2009 movie directed by Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Memories of Murder) about the strength, the passion, and the unconditional love of all mothers. more specifically, about the relationship of a mother (played by korean superstar Kim Hye-ja, whom the director made the film for) and her mentally impaired 28-year-old son, who all of a sudden is convicted of murder. i really don’t want to say much more than that, you’re just gonna have to watch it. the journey of a mother pushing every kind of limit, physical, psychological, and most of all moral, to protect her only and beloved son.

this is not the first time Bong Joon-ho brings to the table 80’s set police methods and procedures. he did it with Memories of Murder first, which is considered to be one of the best korean dramas of all times. now, if you want me to be absolutely honest, I never got into Memories of Murder (and I tried SO hard), while on the other side I absolutely fucking loved The Host (you can read more about that here), so my expectations for Mother were right in the middle.

and what a pleasant surprise! the movie is deep and wrong and shows exactly how far the love of a mother can go. it pushes boundaries while keeping you interested the whole way through. it reminded me of Sympathy for Mr.Vengeance more than a couple times, which is a HUGE plus..

also, the photography is heartbreakingly beautiful

seriously, hurry up and watch this.

and prepare the tissues, because it will make you cry. i warned you.

Zombie Cupcakes out!

Antarctic Journal

Posted in K Cinema with tags , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2009 by Cristina Blackwater

Antarctic Journal – Namgeuk-ilgi – 2005

antarctic journal

from Wikipedia: During their journey the expedition led by Captain Choi Do-hyung discovers a journal that was left behind by a British expedition 80 years earlier. The journal was remarkably preserved in a box in the snow and Kim Min-jae, another member of the expedition, gets the job of examining it. It turns out that the two expeditions shared the same goal and soon other strange similarities between them start to show up.

I have recently been more and more interested in the theme of “whiteness” in horror/thriller/drama movies. Something that gives an extreme and almost out of place contrast with subjects otherwise dark, and gruesome, and definitely not innocent – as opposed to what we usually identify the color white with.

Antarctic Journal is the combination of all this things, and is undeniably as white as any movie could possibly be. Filmed in 2005 by director Yim Pil-sung, Antarctic Journal scores korean actors as big as Song Kang-ho (Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, The Host) and Yoo Ji-tae (Oldboy, Into the Mirror) as members of an expedition team trying to reach the Pole of Inaccessibility, nonetheless. One of the most difficult places to reach on the planet, trodden upon only once by a Soviet team in 1958. antarctic_journal

Everything goes relatively fine until the group finds  an old journal left by a British expedition team around eighty years in the past. Only a few pages are readable, but there are some spooky drawings that not only point to the fate of the British crew, but eerily parallel the mishaps affecting the Korean team in the present day. This is when things start going wrong, and a different kind of journey is set to start, one that goes deeper and deeper into the explorers’ minds.

We are following both a physical and psychological journey of a group of men that soon begin to question the reasons for the journey itself,  with no immediate chance of coming out of an incredibly desolate, icy surrounding that is so desperately white, and all of a sudden just lonely and endless. antarctic_journal_haut

Antarctic Journal is really slow paced, so you’d have to be in the proper mindset to watch it, even tho i found it to be one of the movie’s strong points. Everything looks and in fact is simply frozen and stuck in time. Altho psychological thriller would be a better classification for it,  some really creepy elements such as ghosts and the weird drawings in the Journal itself, made it fall into the horror category.

The big budget and popular faces put into this movie generated high expectations,  but later failed to deliver both critics and box office-wise. It is definitely not the best korean movie i’ve ever seen nor makes it to my top-anything, but there’s something about that whiteness, so intense and endless and hallucinating, that just captured me and intrigued me enough to put it up here. If you ever come across to seeing it, some of you out there will know what i mean.

antarctic_journal_4