The Ritual came out on Netflix earlier on in 2018, but I wanted to see what it had to offer. And oh boy, did it offer.
It tells the story of four friends going on a hike in Sweden after one of their other friends dies in a horrible tragedy. Luke (Rafe Spall), Hutch (Rob James-Collier), Phil (Archer Ali), and Dom (Sam Troughton) are the four friends who get lost in the woods during a hike on a very rainy night.
They find an abandoned wooden hut – as every horror movie does – and then they go in and explore. You can pretty much assume that this was a stupid decision.
The plot builds onto this throughout the rest of the movie as well as encountering a God-like beast who throws people into trees.
Overall, it had a very The Blair Witch Project, Hereditary, and The Endless vibes. It’s not that it set a bad example, but it just wasn’t anything new.
The acting was as fine as the character development, which wasn’t much.
I will give it props though for showing me the weirdest cinematic creature I’ve ever seen. There wasn’t much to the scenery, but that may have been the point. I got as exhausted as them looking at tree after tree.
In the end, The Ritual was not a knockout but more of the ordinary weirdness that we are constantly seeing today in the horror genre.
For this Time Warp, I decided I would touch on one of my absolute favorite animated movie franchises. That, of course, is the Academy Award winning film, ‘Shrek’. It’s still funny to me to be able to say “Academy Award winning” to the classic swamp-dwelling ogre that is my man Shrek.
Many who haven’t seen this iconic film may ask why it won Best Animated Feature in 2002. Well, those who have seen it can tell you exactly why.
The mean green fighting machine Shrek (Mike Myers) is an angry ogre who just likes to be left alone, as most people nowadays. But once love comes along, that changes, as with anyone who suddenly finds love. Shrek’s love didn’t come suddenly, of course. It came after a long journey with his new friend – whether or not he likes to admit it – a donkey, whose name is, well, Donkey (Eddie Murphy).
The love interest/self-hating princess in the movie is Fiona (played by Cameron Diaz), who loves throwing tantrums at every moment she can. You may think that it’s obnoxious, but it becomes very easy to love her by the end.
That is the overall plot of the entire first movie, but they do so well developing all the relationships within it. Being able to meet dozens of fairy tale creatures who annoy Shrek to the brink of absolute fury is, even if it’s not to Shrek, completely hilarious to watch.
Half the enjoyability of this movie revolves around the supreme soundtrack that plays throughout. I mean, we have songs like “All Star” by Smash Mouth and “Bad Reputation” performed by Joan Jett. That sells it right there, doesn’t it?
It’s an undeniably enjoyable movie and impossible not to love. It sparked a sequel that is debatably better than the first if not just as good. It’s one of those movie franchises that anybody will want to watch on a lazy afternoon in the summer, with their kids for a family movie night, in the middle of a snowstorm in the winter, or pretty much at anytime. That is how I define a classic.
Over the weekend, I had the frightening pleasure to see the greatest horror movie in the past two decades, Hereditary, which is about a family who comes to find out about the sinister secrets that resides in their family tree.
Of course, that is my own opinion, but it has received an unbelievable amount of praise from critics everywhere as they call it “the new The Exorcist”. It’s always interesting when film critics compare a modern film to an absolute classic, which rarely ever happens for the horror genre.
It’s dismissed by most because of the lack of originality and true terror. Well let me tell you, Hereditary is not only original and terrifying but it also takes it to a level that is usually taken in a distasteful and childish way.
There’s gore that not only makes you sick to your stomach (many decapitated heads) but also brings you to a mental state of actual fear. There’s points where it feels like you’re there with the characters and experiencing their fear. It’s feels like you’re going through a haunted house but, covering your eyes and ears to escape the situation that you’re encased in.
It’s not only a wild ride, it’s an emotional one too.
The performances given by the actors were remarkable and career defining. From seasoned thespians such as Toni Collette and Gabriel Byrne to the impressive first timer, Milly Shapiro (who is my new favorite actress). They all shined in their roles but it goes without saying that the performance that 20 year old, Alex Wolff, delivered was surprising and gut-wrenching.
Portraying a teen with severe PTSD, Wolff regresses his normal, rebellious adolescent character Peter to a petrified young boy. When I say ‘regress’, I mean he literally does not act like a teenager anymore. After the incident that creates his PTSD, Peter begins speaking like a child and reacting like a child. He uses the word ‘Mommy’ and when he’s scared he cries – a lot.
He also quickly becomes the 2nd main character alongside Collette’s character and his mother, Annie. They create a rivalry which includes them even having nightmares about the other killing them. Annie and Peter’s relationship shows how their tension causes an explosion of emotion and Collette and Wolff portray this in such a perfectly brutal way that it cuts like a knife.
Hereditary is the horror movie that conjures a new kind of fear in film – real fear. It is a brilliant reintroduction to the psychological, disturbing, and original content that generations before had.
So far this year filmmakers and actors have already brought us Oscar potential films and performances. First Reformed is that film and its star, Ethan Hawke, gave that performance. However, the story is what really draws an audience member in.
Hawke portrays Toller, the reverend of an old, overshadowed church, First Reformed. Dealing with issues of his own (alcoholism and cancer) he’s asked by churchgoer Mary (Amanda Seyfried) to speak to her radical, environmentalist husband Michael (Philip Ettinger) who becomes paranoid when Mary announces her pregnancy.
As he begins counseling him, Toller forms an obsession with climate, pollution, global warming, and other widely feared environmental dangers while questioning himself, his faith, and his ethics. It’s a period of transcendence for the reverend that progressively overtakes him and devolves into something more – something much darker.
Christian symbolism plays a large part in First Reformed considering religion is the entire basis for the plot. Not only does writer and director Paul Schrader highlight the most widely worshipped symbols from the Bible, but he also brings the most gruesome ones. Between a pregnant woman named Mary and Toller wrapping his bare body in barbed wire (Jesus in thorns), Schrader made sure we’d have those crystallized images embedded in our brains.
Throughout the film, Toller keeps a diary to express his thoughts and feelings (as most people do), but it also shows the inner workings of his mind and how different it is to his outer self. He’s calm, timorous, and small on the outside, while being meticulous and self-deprecating on the inside. The reserved and religious man worries himself with ailments of others and the world instead of the well-being of his own. He even plots to sacrifice himself via suicide vest in order to “save” others with the exception of destroying a few lives to do so.
The portrayal of this character is so sincere that by the end, Hawke isn’t just “playing” Rev. Toller. He is Rev. Toller.
First Reformed leaves the audience intrigued and rattled with its daunting performances and story that it’s nearly impossible to comprehend how one can create such a masterpiece.
This is an interesting week because for the first time in a while there are no big blockbusters being released. Out of the movies that are being released I think Adrift will have the biggest box office numbers. It has notable actors Shailene Woodley (Fault in Our Stars, Divergent) and Sam Claflin (Me Before You, Hunger Games) in it and I’ve seen a lot of marketing for it.
I think Action Point and Upgrade will do alright. I haven’t heard too much about either of them, but Action Point has Johnny Knoxville (Jackass) in it which will likely bring out audiences. Also, Upgrade is a Blumhouse Productions film and those tend to do well.
American Animals is absolutely amazing and I strongly recommend you go see it. We have already reviewed it, so if you need any more convincing to go see it check out our review!
Finally, A Kid Like Jake which honestly I didn’t know was a movie until today. It has Jim Parsons in it so maybe it will attract some Big Bang Theory fans?
I am beyond excited for Adrift with Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin. This will also be the moneymaker for the week at the box office, even if it will not make quite as much as previous weeks.
I have heard so much about American Animals that I’ve gotten very excited to see it. It has such a unique group of actors in it (including Evan Peters!) so I know that I’ll enjoy it already.
I definitely forgot Action Point and Upgrade were even coming out this week. I don’t really have a high opinion on them but I believe they will do about the same at the box office.
A Kid Like Jake won’t be too crazy spectacular, but should be fun because of Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons, as he is in it.
2018 has already had a good share of foreign films, when you put Zama and Fantastic Woman (which won Best Foreign Film at the 2018 Oscars) in the mix. It was exciting to see that a French foreign film was coming to theatres as I knew it would have an interesting plot and involve a person named Pierre as all french films inevitably have.
Ismael’s Ghosts ended up becoming very confusing very fast. It was simple, at first, seemingly about a woman named Sylvia (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her boyfriend of two years, Ismael (Mathieu Amalric), who have to recover from a strange turn of events as Ismael’s presumed dead wife Corletta (Marion Cotillard) shows up at an unexpected time.
The acting was slightly better than mediocre. The actors and actresses were new to me, for the most part. Amalric was previously in The Grand Budapest Hotel, Munich, and Quantum of Solace. Cotillard is a one-time academy award winning actress for La Vie en Rose and also appeared in Inception.
As for the plot, it’s complexity develops into something significantly more mysterious, intense, and confusing. This included a story about Ismael as a director and his movie which ends up being part of the twist at the end. At least, I think it was. It got so complicated at the end that I couldn’t tell if it was a twist or something I was just missing the whole time.
Overall, Ismael’s Ghosts was a fine movie. It was confusing beyond confusing but that was its biggest flaw. Make sure you’re ready, though, because it’s the longest 2 hour and 15 minute film you’ll ever watch. As in, it will feel like you’ve been there for a full year before you leave.
When I think of late 90s cinema, there are dozens of movies that come to mind. We have American Beauty (1999), The Sixth Sense (1999), Good Will Hunting (1997), Clueless (1995), and so many others that quickly became classics. For me, however, none touched me quite as much as Titanic (1997).
Titanic is a movie that nearly everyone knows about as most grew up having seen it once or twice. Maybe they’ve even heard about its impressive eleven academy award wins at the 1998 Oscars. No matter how one may have heard of it, it’s a movie that’s touched the hearts and minds of everybody.
Given that everybody knows what the film is about, I’ll keep the summary brief. When poor Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and recently engaged Rose Bukater (Kate Winslet) meet aboard the RMS Titanic, they find love in one another. They build a relationship beyond anything many have seen, but realize sometimes love doesn’t last as long as you may like it to. In their case, however, it wasn’t a break-up that brought this realization.
The sinking of the RMS Titanic was the climax of this movie, and showed – practically in real time – the sinking of the ship and the drowning of the lives on board. Director James Cameron knew how to capture this emotional tragedy and make it so the audience doesn’t even care about its running time (194 minutes).
Everything about this movie was astonishing to me and millions would agree. Being able to witness such stellar performances by DiCaprio and Winslet (as well as such notable names as Kathy Bates, Billy Zane, and Frances Fisher) under equally beautiful writing makes any moviegoer fill with joyful tears from beginning to end.
It doesn’t happen often in modern cinema that you see a cast of actors and actresses who are all so individually dedicated to their roles. It was obvious that each wanted to portray their characters with the seriousness that those on the real Titanic would’ve maintained.
Much of this is due to the main man himself, James Cameron (Avatar, Aliens). People are no stranger to the work of Cameron, as he had already released Aliens in 1986, eleven years prior to Titanic.
Not everyone was too confident in him for Titanic (given that the budget was incredibly high – the highest of any movie in history at the time – and that most thought it would be “just another romance flick”), and many lost faith before it had even been released. That concept in itself is a marvel to me given its brilliant reception and continued adoration today.
It’s not doing Titanic justice by calling it a brilliant historical adaptation, when it felt like so much more. It was a near spiritual awakening for most who watched it, whether you’ve seen it once, twice, or two dozen times.