Berberian Sound Studio is quite possibly one of the most difficult films I've watched all year. That's a pity, too, as the premise was very promising and very, very exciting.
Depending on what you've read about the story, the popular synopsis going around says the film is about a British sound engineer who is hired by an Italian producer and director to work on their '70s horror film. Soon after, "life imitates art."
That's partially correct. Toby Jones plays Gilderoy, and yes, he's a sound engineer working on a Suspiria-esque film called The Equestrian Vortex. Whether life actually imitates art for Gilderoy remains to be seen. Indeed, some trippy business does occur, but none of it makes sense. More than anything, Berberian Sound Studio is tantamount to monotonous, well-photographed behind-the-scenes footage of a film production - dull, pretentious self-important posturing that doesn't amount to much and is more frustrating than absorbing.
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Talk about beating a dead horse. In the wake of Shaun of the Dead, we’ve seen our fair share of imitators, from Lesbian Vampire Killers to The Last Lovecraft – i.e. films that pit goofy pals against the supernatural – and Cockneys vs. Zombies is determined to ignore all of them and parade around the screen bringing nothing new to the realms of the horror-comedy or zombie sub-genre.
This latest attempt at a zom-com is severely lacking the wit writer James Moran brought to his previous effort, Severance, and it oozes with stale humor that neither elicits laughs nor smiles. It’s weak sauce across the board and ultimately a disappointment. What it does have going for it is a wide-range of decent zombie FX gags, but from a review standpoint, I think that’s fairly vapid critique. These days there's an abundance of great zombie FX gags. If you’re a fan of undead fare, however, I suppose the assortment of gunshot blasts, blows to the head and punting some of the zombies take in Cockneys vs. Zombies will please you to a degree.
Still, this movie is a mess, even if, amid the forced, silly banter, there is perhaps one half of a good idea for a film.
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Tower Block has the makings of an highly successful, intense ride, but it’s a surprisingly restrained, totally serviceable, pulpy revenge thriller.
This UK offering from directors James Nunn and Ronnie Thompson was scripted by James Moran, whose feature debut was the clever, violent and often hilarious Severance. Here, Moran is meddling in more serious-minded territory, still, his penchant for razor-sharp characters and the pitch black comedy that he brought to Severance is on display in Tower Block helping mask the film’s flaws.
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A remake of Who Can Kill a Child?, Come Out and Play is not nearly as dangerous and boundary-pushing as it needs to be. In fact, it's a pretty by-the-numbers re-telling of Narciso Ibanez Serrador 1976's killer kid flick that will likely bore the viewer than instill any sort of dread.
It lacks any sort of flavor to set itself apart from far superior films of this ilk like - to name drop something recent - the UK offering The Children which kept you on the edge of your seat from the first act. Here, the director known only as Makinov (who reportedly had his face disguised all through production) meanders through a story that misses opportunities, plays it rather safe and fails to make the film's main threat scary.
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A medical student finds tragedy, revenge, rebirth and success in the world of body modification surgery in Jen and Sylvia Soska's bold and confident sophomore feature film effort American Mary.
The bloody new thriller from the sisters who gave us Dead Hooker in a Trunk made its American premiere at Fantastic Fest last night and proved the duo have a promising future in the genre. The film has its flaws to be sure, however, the good in American Mary far outweighs the bad.
Kathryn Isabelle (Ginger Snaps) makes a terrific return to the genre in a role she can really sink her teeth into as Mary Mason, a young woman trying to make ends meets while she aspires to be a surgeon. Smart, beautiful and diligent, Mary's career path is bright, however, one evening changes everything when she's asked to perform an underground operation. This is compounded by a vicious attack she suffers a few nights later which only further shoves her down a macabre, weird rabbit hole.
Isabelle’s richly textured turn as Mary personifies the Soskas’ clever writing, one of the highlights of the film. The dialogue is sharp and the voice they bring to the table is as fresh as the world they create.
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In Mega-City One, Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is the law and when he's put in charge of testing out a psychic rookie judge named Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), the two of them investigate a homicide at the 200-story crime-ridden Peach Trees block run by the criminal Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), little realizing they would be getting in over their head when she puts a bounty on the two judges who dare to intrude on her turf.
One can imagine how horribly wrong things might have gone in bringing Great Britain's anti-hero Judge Dredd back to the screen - one only need look to the 1995 Sylvester Stallone movie or any of the Punisher movies to see how a character whose brand of justice bypasses the normal judicial system might work better on the page than when realized as a movie.
Fortunately, the filmmakers behind Dredd 3D really understood the comics and what works about the character, which begins and ends with getting an actor like Karl Urban to deliver just the right amount of scowl and delivering Dredd's lines in a baritone gravel not unlike a futuristic Dirty Harry (who actually was an influence on the comic character).
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You have to wonder why The Asylum never thought of this one. It seems like a perfect fit. Nevertheless, Strippers vs. Werewolves is surprisingly good and much better than the title might suggest. Make no mistake though, it’s really a straight-up comedy, and a seriously goofy one at that. There is a smattering of gore but it never goes for scares.
One evening in London, a man finds himself in the mood for a private lap dance. He pays a visit to Vixens and finds himself alone with Justice (Adele Silva), a nice young stripper pretending to be a veterinary assistant. When the man suddenly turns into a werewolf and attacks, Justice stabs him in the eye with a silver pen, killing him.
Vixens owner Jeanette (Sarah Douglas) has seen it all before. She encountered werewolves back in 1984 and thought they were all dead. They need to dispose of the dead one stat and make sure no one finds out about it. Jeanette delegates corpse disposal to her bouncer.
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Five movies into Screen Gems’ successful franchise, you should know what you’re going to get with a Resident Evil movie. Let’s see if you agree: Each chapter usually begins with an action-packed set piece followed by the usual “My name is Alice…” shtick uttered with complete seriousness by series stalwart Milla Jovovich which is followed by more action usually involving a range of mutated ghouls, hand-to-hand combat and gunfire while a spasmodic soundtrack assaults your eardrums.
Now, if this is your thing, Resident Evil: Retribution is the sequel for you – and I’ll get into why shortly.
Those who have despised the series since it began in 2002 and questioned its durability at the box office, why are you even reading this? That goes for those detractors out there who balk at the franchise’s lack of faithfulness to the video games as well. In fact, that goes especially for you guys. Turn away. Because Resident Evil: Retribution will draw up the same complaints from you: It’s a loose interpretation of the Capcom video games, and an even more loose representation of the characters you love.
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