Thursday, July 21, 2016

Great Expectations (2012)

Number Rolled: 29
Movie Name/Year: Great Expectations (2012)
Tagline: Prepare for a life of great expectations.
Genre: Drama
Length: 128 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: BBC Films, Unison Films, Lipsync Productions, Main Street Films, Number 9 Films, iDeal Partners Film Fund
Producer: Laurie Borg, Cliff Curtis, Jana Edelblum, David Faigenblum, Peter Hampden, C.C. Hang, Ed Hart, Zygi Kamasa, Harrison Kordestani, Christine Langan, Charlotte Larsen, Caroline Levy, Norman Merry, Emanuel Michael, Arti Modi, Mike Newell, Thorsten Schumacher, Stephen Woolley, Alexis Bishop
Director: Mike Newell
Writer: David Nicholls, Charles Dickens
Actors: Toby Irvine, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Flemyng, Sally Hawkins, William Ellis, David Walliams, Bernice Stegers, Helena Bonham Carter, Bebe Cave, Robbie Coltrane, Jeremy Irvine, Jessie Cave, Ewen Bremner, Olly Alexander, Daniel Weyman, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Helena Barlow, Tamzin Outhwaite, Holliday Grainger

Blurb from Netflix: Fate -- with a little help from a mysterious unnamed benefactor -- whisks a young orphan Pip from poverty to a life of unexpected wealth.

Selina’s Point of View:
I have never read Great Expectations. It’s one of those great classics that everyone read in high school or college, but I never really ever came across it. Even though it’s my mom’s favorite (I think… at least, I’m pretty sure). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live under a rock. I’ve heard of it and I know it’s written by Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield), but that’s all I knew going into this.

I wasn’t all too interested in this film when we rolled. It’s a period drama which isn’t my favorite and it’s long. For some reason, the sound was also kind of crappy.

So, I was grumpy.

However, I wound up really liking the film.

I understood immediately why the story is a classic. It’s an absolutely enthralling tale of romance and mystery. There are some classics that I just don’t understand the appeal of, but this one I got.

Add to the plot some fantastic actors, such as Jeremy Irvine (Life Bites, The World Made Straight, Stonewall), Helena Bonham Carter (Cinderella, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Les Miserables), Holliday Grainger (The Borgias, Anna Karenina, Jane Eyre) and Ralph Fiennes (Spectre, A Bigger Splash, The Invisible Woman), and you have a really spectacular film. I could have sat through more of it.

I’d recommend this film to anyone with a love for the classics or period dramas. Mystery lovers might also enjoy it.

Cat’s Point of View:
Great Expectations is one of the classics that I remember fondly from school. As unbiased as I try to be, I am already pre-disposed to like a film based on the book – as long as they stay true to the core of the story and the characters.

You could say I have great expectations. (I know, I couldn’t help it.)

I wasn’t disappointed with this movie. It was quite a relief, really, after the last few let-downs I’ve had. This film was executed with finesse and excellent casting choices, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The settings were realistic and full of the grit and grime of the time period. The costumes were exquisite in detail.

Mike Newell (Pushing Tin, Mona Lisa Smile, Prince of Persia: The Sands of time) breathed new life into the tale without having to give the whole thing a facelift. I am thankful that the film stayed ‘humble’ and focused on the story, rather than giving it the Michael Bay (Transformers, Bad Boys II, 13 Hours) treatment by packing in more cinematic bells and whistles.

Of course, I had a bit of an internal giggle that Miss Havisham was played by Helena Bonham Carter (Terminator Salvation, The King's Speech, Suffragette). Eccentric women in period pieces seems to be her wheelhouse and she makes it look effortless. Holliday Grainger (Stanley Park, Bel Ami, The Riot Club) was able to capture the depth of Estella through the flashes of her we see within the film.

Jeremy Irvine (War Horse, Now is Good, The Railway Man) was a good choice for Pip. He’s an up-and-comer and I really want to see how he grows. He grasped the essence of the country boy’s transformation very well. While his last name of Irvine seems to be a stage name, his little brother has adopted the same in following his footsteps. The younger version of Pip in the film was played by Toby Irvine, and is his only film credit at this time.

There’s more ‘6 degrees’ going on with this movie beyond Hagrid and Bellatrix LeStrange sharing the screen. Robbie Coltrane (The Brothers Bloom, Brave, Effie Gray) was an excellent Jaggers. He encapsulated the shady lawyer with questionable morals in a way that I forgot I’d seen him in other things until after the spell of the movie was broken. What’s the connection, you ask? He happened to play Mr. Hyde in Van Helsing (2004).

Another actor whom has donned the persona of Jekyll & Hyde is Jason Flemyng (Rock Star, Stardust, Ironclad) in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003). His performance as Joe Gargery impressed me.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ralph Fiennes (Land of the Blind, In Bruges, Skyfall) as Magwitch. He’s no stranger to the Classics, having played Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights (1992). He often plays villain roles, though it’s refreshing to see him change it up a bit with a protagonist.

All in all, I loved the movie and while it didn’t offer anything flashy to the already-told tale, it was a notable rendition with substance and heart.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 64%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 49%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 3/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score4.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, July 18, 2016

#Horror (2015)

Number Rolled: 83
Movie Name/Year: #Horror (2015)
Tagline: Death is trending.
Genre: Horror
Length: 97 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Lowland Pictures, AST Studios
Producer: Amanda Carter, Ryan Alan Dearth, Urs Fischer, Erik Fleming, Catrin Hedstrom, Sydney Holland, Quentin Little, Jason Ludman, Seven McDonald, Jesse Ozeri, Brenna Perez, Oren Segal, Sylvia Sichel, Tara Subkoff, Brendan Walsh, Margaret Yen
Director: Tara Subkoff
Writer: Tara Subkoff
Actors: Chloe Sevigny, Timothy Hutton, Balthazar Getty, Stella Schnabel, Sadie Seelert, Haley Murphy, Bridget McGarry, Blue Lindeberg, Mina Sundwall, Emma Adler, Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Lydia Hearst, Brenna Perez, Jessica Blank, Ted Christensen, Sadie Jensen-Blank, Natasha Lyonne, Taryn Manning, Mackenzie G. Mauro, Tara Subkoff

Blurb from Netflix: Privileged tweenaged bullies get a taste of real-life terror when their online antics lead to a sinister game of “slashtag.”

Selina’s Point of View:
What the fuck did I just watch?

I remember watching the trailer for this video and thinking it looked kind of interesting. It definitely looked like a well-known recipe, but it still seemed like something I’d want to see. What they advertised, however, was not what I got.

What I wound up watching was something reminiscent of Uwe Boll’s (Bloodrayne, Blubberella, Postal) version of House of the Dead (2003). Not script or action-wise. No. That would be forgivable. It was Uwe Boll-esk direction. If a director is going to emulate someone else in the field, it should never be Uwe Boll. Never.

I want to stress that the storyline for #Horror was actually relatively good. Unfortunately, Tara Subkoff (Tanner Hall, The Notorious Bettie Page, Undermind) did not do the best job on the script. As for the directing… well… I already touched on that.

Regardless of how I feel about this film, I want everyone to remember that this was Subkoff’s directorial and writing debut. Not everyone hits a homerun right off the bench. This film was not good, but she may learn from her mistakes in a way that the arrogant bullshit artist that is Boll, never could. I wish her luck in future endeavors and I hope time and experience will aid her in honing her art.

I don’t recommend this film or anything that has ever looked like it.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’ll be blunt. I didn’t really like this one very much. I do enjoy when social media and more modern cultural and technology clashes mix in with the horror genre, so I was crossing my fingers only to be disappointed.

I got pretty much what I expected from the clique of rich tween snobby girls and their slumber party antics. The deaths weren’t really original or surprising.

Mostly, as this movie was named with a hashtag, I was wanting to see more of how that tied in. Sure the girls’ involvement in social media is a big part of the plot, but it’s never made clear (at least that I could tell) how the ‘slashtag’ game fits in.

I have an inkling – but it’s all presented so spastically that it’s hard to follow. Flashes of brightly colored flashy images and boxes of text flying rapidly across the screen. If it was explained in all that – I was either too slow to catch it or my eyes are just too bad and I couldn’t read those text boxes.

Here was another case, as well, where an actor was rather underutilized. Balthazar Getty (The Tripper, Brothers and Sisters, The Judge) played the father of the girl whose home the ill-fated slumber party takes place in. I can’t wait to see what his involvement will be in the upcoming Twin Peaks (2017) series.

The art installations within the home were interesting, at least.

Another indie film powerhouse was on board with this project. ChloĆ« Sevigny (The Killing Room, Big Love, The Wait) did well as the self-involved and negligent mother.  Though, I really think that Timothy Hutton (Serious Moonlight, Louder Than Words, Leverage) stole the show as the father of one of the characters.

I might watch this movie again just to see if I can read what I wasn’t able to catch before (pause button and frame by frame, maybe). Otherwise, I hold out hope that someone can give this sort of tale a different spin that makes a bit more sense.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 50%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 11%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 1/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score1/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 1/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score1.5/5

The Random Rating: R

P.S. This movie claims to be based on reality. What it is based on is an interview that Subkoff had with one of her daughter’s friends that had been severely cyberbullied. That said, it’s clear that the story was at least loosely inspired by that interview.

Movie Trailer: