Monday, May 21, 2018

Movie review: Maitresse

 Thief Olivier breaks into an apartment and is surprised to find an S&M dungeon. But when he meets the owner, dominatrix Ariane, the two fall in love and Olivier must quickly learn to accept her lifestyle.

Gerard Depardieu (Olivier), Bulle Ogier (Ariane), Andre Rouyer (Mario), Holger Lowenadler (Gautier), Nathalie Keryan (Lucienne), Roland Beertin (Man in Cage), Tony Taffin (Emile).

Maitresse is interesting for a couple of reasons. The film obviously relies on shock value, showing some explicit S&M scenes along with simple violence when a horse is killed. The S&M is of a more intense and unusual nature which will surprise many. The other aspect is the conflict between social norms and alternative lifestyles. Olivier represents social morality while Ariane alternative lifestyles which leads to some interesting conflicts they somewhat surprisingly try to overcome so their relationship can continue. The result is an interesting journey of conflict and contradictions peppered with aspects of S&M.

Acting was a bit rough but worked in this film. Depardieu, in this unexpected role, managed pretty well despite some rough spots. Ogier was solid with enjoyable delivery and energy. Lowenadler and Keryan supported very well. The remainder of the supporting cast was interesting if not well experienced.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds felt well done for an older foreign film. Action scenes were intense throughout and I would be surprised if there was anyone who didn't look away or grimace at least once. Dialogue could have used a bit more depth and the story felt choppy at times. Sound and soundtrack are okay.

Maitresse is a difficult film to define, feeling at times like an unusual love story while appearing as an adult film at others. Those who are squeamish or inexperienced with S&M may find parts of the film disturbing to say the least.

With nudity, explicit alternative sexuality, graphic intimacy, and more, save this one for adults and above as a hard limit. Be prepared to use your safe word.

Released: 1973
Reviewed: 5.3.18
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Foreign Romance, French films, Drama, Romance, Steamy Films

copyright ©2018 Dave Riedel

Friday, May 18, 2018

Movie review: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

 Four high-school teens stuck in detention discover an old video game they have never seen before. Deciding to play, they are transferred into the bodies of their avatars in the jungle world of Jumanji, where they learn from a previously trapped player they must complete the games quest or be trapped forever.

Dwayne Johnson (Spencer), Kevin Hart (Fridge), Jack Black (Bethany), Karen Gillan (Martha), Rhys Darby (Nigel), Bobby Cannavale (Van Pelt), Nick Jonas (Alex), Alex Wolff (Young Spencer), Ser'Darius Blain (Young Fridge), Madison Iseman (Young Bethany), Morgan Turner (Young Martha).

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is really a reboot of the franchise rather than a sequel. Instead of continuing the story, this one starts over with a new group of players and Jumanji as a video game, not a board game. Starting the game, the players are immediately pulled into the Jumanji jungle world but in this version they are deposited into the bodies of their avatars. The remainder of the film is much like the original with a quest that must be completed to exit the game, a lot of action, adventure, and some good laughs. And of course, the story finishes with the expected Happily Ever After ending.

Acting was good with Johnson being wonderfully silly throughout. Hart was enjoyable with his usual intense delivery. Black did nicely but felt like his energy was lacking a bit. Gillan was solid and added good depth. Darby, Cannavale, Jonas and the remainder of the supporting cast were solid and enjoyable.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds were heavily blended with CGI and fit the film well. Action scenes and effects were good, particularly the animals. Dialogue had some nice humor along with the drama and kept the story moving along. Sound and soundtrack are both nicely done.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a good choice for family movie night engaging kids well, adults slightly less. The story is light, moves along nicely, and finishes with a smile.

With some mild crotch humor, action violence, and mild foul language, this should be fine for preens and above.

Released: 2017
Reviewed: 4.30.18
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Action Comedy

copyright ©2018 Dave Riedel

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Movie review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

 Months after her daughter's brutal murder, Mildred is fed up with the lack of progress by the local police department. In hopes of motivating the investigation, she puts up three billboards questioning the small town's incumbent and popular police chief.

Frances McDormand (Mildred), Caleb Jones (Red), Sam Rockwell (Dixon), Darrell Britt-Gibson (Jerome), Woody Harrelson (Willoughby), Zeljko Ivanek (Sergeant), Amanda Warren (Denise), Kerry Condon (Pamela).

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is the story of a mother's fight to find her daughter's killer in the face of small town politics and prejudice. Mildred puts up three billboards outside her small town questioning Chief Willoughby's motivations when the investigation stalls, but her attack on the well liked Chief creates a new set of problems. Add in years of history that is unrolled slowly and the film gains nice depth despite a host of characters that don't quite make sense.

Acting was very good with McDormand and Rockwell both delivering wonderful performances. Harrelson was enjoyable as well delivering solid emotion throughout. Ivanek, Jones, and the remainder of the supporting cast were solid and interesting.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds using natural scenery are well done and fitting. Action scenes felt realistic and moved the plot along well. Dialogue was interesting and helped add depth. Sound and soundtrack are solid.

In the end it is the acting that makes Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri such an enjoyable film. The plot is interesting but the film dwells on outdated character stereotypes that make little to no sense at all. For example, a brutal bigoted cop who suddenly becomes a humanitarian?
Those who enjoy acting as much or more than a solid plot or flashy effects should enjoy this the most. Others who focus on plot continuity or realism will likely be disappointed.

With some sexuality, graphic violence and foul language, and gore, save this one for the most mature teens and above.

Released: 2017
Reviewed: 4.24.18
Star rating: 4 out of 5
Genre: Drama, Crime Drama, Dark Crime, Suspense

copyright ©2018 Dave Riedel

Monday, May 14, 2018

Movie review: Beyond Skyline

 A suspended cop retrieving his son from an L.A. jail finds himself smack in the middle of an alien invasion. Teaming up with other survivors, Mark's only thought is of rescuing his son from captivity inside an alien warship.

Frank Grillo (Mark), Bojana Novakovic (Audrey), Jonny Weston (Trent), Callan Mulvey (Harper), Antonio Fargas (Sarge), Pamelyn Chee (Kanya), Jacob Vargas (Garcia), Iko Uwais (Sua). Lindsey Morgan (Capt. Rose).

Beyond Skyline is not really a sequel, but rather a parallel storyline to the original. The film begins well introducing some characters and the main storyline; an alien invasion. From there Mark steps up to save the world, and his son, from aliens. Teaming with other survivors, they fight back against the aliens in a long cat-and-mouse story of action interrupted by some less than entertaining dramatic moments that are never fully explained.

Acting was disappointing compared to the original. Grillo does okay but I doubt anyone could believe him as a cop for very long. Weston played the angry child well but just didn't feel he fit. Novakovic was okay but again, didn't feel like a fit for her role. Nor did Vargas. The remainder of the cast was tepid at best.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds feel fairly consistent with the original, and realistic. CGI, action scenes, and aliens were enjoyable and over the top only infrequently. Dialogue was choppy and left more than a few holes. Sound and soundtrack are okay.

Sadly Beyond Skyline doesn't quite measure up to the original. The plot lacked originality and had more than a few holes. Acting was lacking while technical work just made the grade. Those who enjoyed the original may be slightly disappointed, along with those who like a solid Sci-Fi Action flick.

With foul language, violence, mild sexuality, and disturbing images, this should be fine for older teens and above.

Released: 2017
Reviewed: 4.23.18
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Sci-Fi, Horror, Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Action

copyright ©2018 Dave Riedel

Friday, May 11, 2018

Movie review: Tale of Tales

 Three unusual fairytales inspired by Giambattista Basile are woven together in this unusual anthology. The bitter quest of a Queen, two strange sisters who ignite the passion of a King, and yet another King obsessed with a giant flea tickle our imaginations in disturbing ways.

Salma Hayek (Queen of Longtrellis), Vincent Cassel (King of Strongcliff), Toby Jones (King of Highhills), John Reilly (King of Longtrellis), Shirley Henderson (Imma), Hayley Carmichael (Dora), Bebe Cave (Violet), Jonah Lees (Jonah), Christian Lees (Elias).

Tale of Tales is a blending of three disturbing fairytales about obsession inspired by Giambattista Basile. The tales begin well enough but each takes a dark turn and eventually all three are somewhat tied together. The stories are told in fragments, which can be mildly confusing at first, but fit together in setting and theme. And it feels as if only one of the stories was actually finished.

Acting was solid with Hayek delivering disturbingly well as the Queen. Jones also fit his role nicely and fit the film well. Cassel was enjoyable and brought a touch of humor to things. Henderson, Carmichael and the remainder of the supporting cast were enjoyable.

Camera work was good, while sets and backgrounds were even better with a fitting feel for the period. CGI and effects were nicely done with a realistic feel. Dialogue was enjoyably with decent depth. Sound and soundtrack are mild but appropriate.

Tale of Tales is an unusual horror flick that engages mentally as well as physically. Those who enjoy unusual tales or mild horror should enjoy this one. Others hoping for more intense horror or action may be disappointed.

With a fair mount of nudity, sexuality, intense gore, and disturbing images, save this one for older teens and above.

Released: 2015
Reviewed: 4.19.18
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Horror, Drama, Fantasy, International Horror, Dark Fantasy

copyright ©2018 Dave Riedel

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