Films That Are Worth Your While: Hungry Hearts (2014)

Italian director Saverio Costanzo’s Hungry Hearts follows the story of Jude (Adam Driver) and Mina (Alba Rohrwacher) as they fall in love and raise their newborn son. The small family is strained after differences of opinion in raising their son split the couple in two. Filled with tension and drama, Hungry Hearts is a must watch for Adam Driver fans.

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Films That Are Worth Your While: Green Room (2015)

Director Jeremy Saulnier’s third full-length feature, Green Room (2015), pits a group of hardcore punk rockers against a group of murderous Neo-Nazis in a deadly game of cat and mouse. Set in the isolated forests of the pacific northwest and featuring an outstanding cast, including Anton Yelchin and Sir Patrick Stewart, Green Room is a dark and brutal film which isn’t for the faint of heart.

A Couple Of Words On The Conjuring Series

I saw the first Conjuring movie in LA back in 2013 and quite enjoyed the two hours of creepiness and jump scares. I don’t tend to see horror films in the cinemas, not because I’m afraid or anything, but because, in my opinion, most horror movies tend to feel like a letdown. These films usually start off eerie and interesting, but quickly start to fall into familiar horror movie territory. You know what I’m talking about. The killer is one of them. The killer is actually part of an urban legend in that area, or it was all a figment of someone’s imagination…or was it?

I feel as thought I’d be better off spending that $13 for admission on some sort of baked good or some other tasty treat and wait until the film is on TV or Netflix. But let’s get something clear, seeing a good horror film in a dark cinema adds a lot to the viewing experience.

The Conjuring firmly grabbed a hold of my attention after seeing those incredibly creepy trailers during the 2013 Stanly Cup series between the Blackhawks and the Bruins. You might remember them, they used a cut down clip of the scene where the mother gets lured down the basement by the ghost’s clapping. I was staying at an old hostel in Fairmont Park in Philadelphia at the time which had creaky floorboards and a real feeling of isolation during the night. These trailers would play during most of the ad breaks and the house in the trailer looked eerily similar to the room I was sitting in.

About 3 weeks later I was in LA and saw the film was showing, I convinced a friend to come along and we strolled in not quite knowing what to expect. The movie was everything it needed to be, it had jump scares, an interesting plot and one hell of a creepy old woman ghost thing. Sure it did have some stereotypical horror movie moments, such as an exorcism scene, but on the whole, I quite enjoyed it.  Then a few years later, trailers for the Conjuring 2 started popping up around the interwebs. That creepy nun monster devil thing looked creepy as hell. Unfortunately, I missed my opportunity to see The Conjuring 2 in cinemas due to a ton of university work colliding with its release date.

Yesterday I was perusing through the iTunes new release rental section and discovered  The Conjuring 2 was now available to rent. I waited until about 11pm, turned off all the lights and began watching. The film picks up in 1977 and again follows the protagonists Ed and Lorraine Warren on their paranormal hunting adventures. This film focuses on the Enfield hauntings in London and ties them into a deeper darker plot that carries the movie nicely in the right direction. I obviously don’t want to give anything away as it’s always best to go into these sorts of films not knowing much.

What I will say, is that director James Wan really is one of, if not the best, directors of horror films going around these days. He not only directed the first movie in this franchise but has also directed the creepy Insidious series and this year’s horror Lights Out.

I really enjoyed The Conjuring 2, even more than the first one, and would recommend it to just about anyone who enjoys this genre of film. Sure it’s creepy, but it’s also very entertaining and once you’re invested in the plot you won’t want it to end. So turn out the lights and get watching.

Films That Are Worth Your While: Stalker (1979)

Andrei Tarkovsky’s masterpiece of cinema Stalker has recently been reissued on blu-ray and I thought I should feature this post around the 1979 classic. If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching any of Tarkovsky’s work this is a good starting point.

Stalker sees three very different men entering “The Zone”, a place where an unnamed incident has previously occurred, in search of a room that grants individuals wishes.  The Zone is a dangerous place in which things are said to be out of place and death comes to those who enter without obeying and respecting the rules.

Tarkovsky’s creation of emotion through visuals, more so than dialogue, can leave viewers with their own understanding about what they have just witnessed. Long takes and visual representations of elements such as fire or water are common in his films. I have always understood these scenes with elements as meaning something personal to the characters and something that isn’t always revealed to the audience. That was part of the genius of Tarkovsky, we witness characters interacting with their environment and have no idea what these interactions mean to them personally.

Stalker really is a must watch movie.

One Scene I Couldn’t Get Out Of My Head

I was casually relaxing on my bed, as I usually do at the end of the day, channel surfing through some quality free to air television. After scrolling through the channels with my broken remote control, I decided to watching the latest Transformers movie, Age of Extinction. I have to admit, I’ve seen parts of this film before but have never sat down, or in this case lay down, and watch the entire film from start to finish.

It most certainly isn’t a masterpiece by any standards, but there was one scene which did grab my attention and remained in the forefront of my thought after finishing the film. No, it wasn’t the scene where that robot dinosaur which breathes fire lets Optimus ride it around like he’s in some sort of demolition derby rodeo, but a short 30 second segment involving Mark Wahlberg and a seemingly nerdy looking man.

In this scene Marky Mark’s character crashes his giant spaceship through a Bud Light beer truck before it lands on top of a parked car in the street. The aforementioned nerdy looking man leaps out of his car and says “you better have insurance” to which he is grabbed by Wahlberg’s character and intimidated. By this point in the movie, we understand that Marky Mark’s character is a bit of a hothead and it makes sense that he would react this way after being asked a silly question in a warzone.

The reason this scene stuck in my head, other than the obvious in your face advertisement for Bud Light, was the way in which this nerdy man was written into film. I don’t mean to hurt feelings by saying this, but if I had to make a judgment call of what demographics were going to see this film, I would assume that there would be a chunk of people who would fit into the demographic of nerd.

The way in which intelligence, or perhaps in this case weakness, is portrayed in blockbuster action movies is something that never seems to change. It seems a little strange that you would add a scene which has the potential to alienate your target audience. Muscle is good. Glasses, vests and hybrid cars are bad.

The way in which this scene is shot is rather telling when it comes to conveying this message. If you freeze frame and look at the shot composition, when Mark grabs this man you’ll see that the camera is on a low angle looking up. This gives the impression of power and strength to Mark, but also frames the shot perfectly to show an American flag blowing in the wind. Convenient isn’t it.

One of the reasons this scene got stuck in my head was thinking about how little action movies have changed since their first inception. There’s always a brawny muscle man who shoots first and asks questions later, and then there is the nerdy guy who is portrayed as the coward. The fact that this formula still manages to sell tickets is beyond me. This movie offers nothing but a stop gap to the next movie, in which the world will most likely be threatened by alien robots again for the fifth time.

I’m just going to say it; this is a dumb movie. The plot is terrible, the characters are all boring and uninteresting and it was long, god dammit it was long. I am aware that this is a Michael Bay movie and the intention of this film is not to use your brain but more to jump on some sort of crazy robotic ride. Still, there is no way I’m watching the next one.

Films That Are Worth Your While: Short Term 12 (2013)

Short Term 12 is one of the best indie films in recent years, featuring a standout cast and a plot that’ll give you the feels. Set in a group home for troubled teens, the story follows Grace (Brie Larson), focusing on her relationship with her boyfriend (John Gallagher Jr.) after becoming pregnant.

Seen Short Term 12? Let me know what you thought in the comments.