Journalist Maziar Bahari is imprisoned and tortured in Iran. The regular viewers of The Daily Show will already be familiar with this story and its outcome. Rather than focus on the plot, the film chooses to focus on the absurdity of the situation and the character of the man. Extremely well polished film for a first time director, probably because he surrounded himself with a great team. The cinematography, production design, and edit are all first rate. I especially liked the way he conveyed social media activity through special effects. Also a first rate performance from Gael Garcia Bernal, I would not have known he wasn’t Persian. This film has an important political message, and watching it could save lives. So go watch it. 8/10.
The survivors of [REC] and [REC]³ are spirited to a fishing trawler converted into a medical research vessel. This is more of a direct sequel to the first [REC] film than the others and picks up immediately after the events of the first film. The found-footage paradigm has been abandoned (yay!) but still maintains its camera centric and voyeuristic integrity. This is the best one of the series, but has the typical lack of originality that plagues (pun intended) most other zombie movies. Good thrills and chills, but nothing you haven’t seen before. FYI, the word “Apocalypse” in the title was pulled out of their ass, it really has no applicability to the film at all. If you like zombie films, you will like this. 7/10
Brought to you from the director of Infernal Affairs (and remade into the American version The Departed) and executive producer Martin Scorsese, this is based on the true story of Asian gangs in New York (not to be confused with Gangs of New York, directed by Scorsese; I’m sensing a theme here). With so much talent assembled, you might expect something great. You would be wrong. This movie was truly terrible, perhaps it was my high expectations. I didn’t like the staccato edit. The acting was awful, though I’m not sure if it was due to inexperienced actors or bad direction. There was some other bad quality that I’m having a hard time putting my finger on. I think it might be unmotivated emotion. In scene after scene, the characters would emote without sufficient plot development or character development to back it up. High production values, good locations, good production design, good cinematography, but all its problems give it poor authenticity. Scorsese did not show up for the screening, maybe even he thinks this is a lemon. 4/10
Story about a group of Cub Scouts on a weekend wilderness excursion. The counselors have fun with the kids by telling them scary stories of a werewolf living in the forest. Outcast boy Sam thinks he has found the subject of those stories in a forest den, but nobody believes him. Decent cabin-in-the-woods rendition, light on the gore, heavy on the muck. The writer/director intentionally left out the back story of our hero and the villain, but I think it could have benefited from a little more information. 6/10
Great question from the audience during the Q&A: “Can you comment on your choice of the French as all the bad guys and the Flemish as the good guys?” The directors response was, “You live in Canada, I believe you have a similar problem?”