BARE BONES: HIGH RISE and THE NEON DEMON

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high-riseHIGH RISE (2015)

Barely coherent British film has Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) moving into a luxury high rise and discovering his neighbors are quite an eccentric bunch. The longer he lives there, the more decadent and out of control the activities get till it descends into a maelstrom of debauchery and even murder.

Written by Amy Jump, from J.G. Ballard’s novel and directed by Ben Wheatly, this flick starts out interesting and plummets quickly into pretentious nonsense quite early. There is a good cast, including Hiddleston, Luke Evans, Jeremy Irons and Sienna Miller, who try hard, but they are wasted on this boring and meandering mess whose story and point are lost in all the random violent and decadent behavior. A waste of time that thinks it’s far more important than it is.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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THE NEON DEMON (2016)

Latest film by Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) has sixteen year-old Jesse (Elle Fanning) going to Hollywood to become a model. She takes the modeling world by storm, but soon learns there is a dark side to her dream and there are those who will go to shocking lengths to keep the new competition from taking what’s theirs.

Obviously, the story concocted by Refn and co-written with Mary Laws and Polly Stenham is nothing new. We’ve seen the naive newcomer in the Hollywood jungle story numerous times. Neon Demon starts out intriguing, though and Refn’s visual style is hypnotic at times, but the film collapses under the weight of it’s own absurdity when it goes over the top to include necrophilia and cannibalism in it’s cautionary tale. The cast, that includes Fanning, Jena Malone and Keanu Reeves perform well, but the film just gets too weird…and gross…to maintain it’s dramatic grip.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: AMERICAN SNIPER and ECHOES

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AMERICAN SNIPER (2015)

Clint Eastwood’s biographical movie about Navy S.E.A.L. sniper Chris Kyle is a well made enough film but, never really drew me in. To a degree it’s a by-the-numbers bio-drama, despite some intense action, set during the post 911 Iraqi conflict. The scenes of Kyle’s time in the Middle East, where he racked up an impressive 160 kills, were engaging but, it’s the sporadic scenes at home while he suffers the effects of his time in combat that fall flat and seem very routine, drama-wise. Bradley Cooper is solid though, not overly impressive as Kyle and the film downplays the biggest irony of the war hero’s life, that he was killed at home by another war veteran  also suffering from the post-war effects of his time in combat. The most interesting and tragic part of Kyle’s tale is left to a pre-credits footnote in Jason Hall’s script despite being one of the most important events of this true story. Certainly not a bad move, but, also far from the great film hype has proclaimed it to be. I enjoyed the fact based Lone Survivor a lot more. Also stars Sienna Miller in a stereotypical portrayal of the ‘long suffering wife’ as Taya Renae Kyle.

3 star rating

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ECHOES (2014)

Nils Timm’s supernatural thriller is a dull film with a plot seen far too often to count. Pretty script writer Anna (Kate French) is suffering from nightmares and goes out to her manager/boyfriend’s (Steven Brand) desert retreat to finish her work. Obviously, strange things start to occur and Anna begins to see things and exhibit some odd behavior. Is it a product of her intense night terrors and emotional troubles or is there something else in the house with her? Gee, I wonder which it is? (insert large amounts of sarcasm). We’ve seen the mentally troubled person in the isolated setting far too many times and Timm does nothing new or inventive with it. This is strictly by-the-numbers stuff and comes to a very predictable conclusion. What little spookiness it tries to evoke is, at times, sunk by some awful CGI. The dog was cute but, we all know what happens to pets in these flicks. Boring and routine.

2 star rating

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 -MonsterZero NJ
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