Friday, November 17, 2017

Movie review: Sleeping Beauty

 College student Lucy begins wondering what she has gotten into after a string of unusual jobs lands her working as a "Sleeping Beauty". Paid to be fondled or caressed by strangers after being sedated, the money is good but what is really happening?

Emily Browning (Lucy), Rachael Blake (Clara), Les Chantery (Driver), Eden Falk (Thomas), Michael Dorman (Cook), Mirrah Foulkes (Sophie), Peter Carroll (Man 1), Anni Finsterer (Hairdresser).

Sleeping Beauty is an interesting Indie film that begins by taking some time to introduce Lucy and her life. Once the audience is convinced she needs money badly, Lucy take a job as a "Sleeping Beauty"; agreeing to be drugged to sleep and then fondled or handled otherwise by strangers. About the time Lucy begins to wonder what is really happening while asleep, she learns through experience.

Acting was mediocre with Browning showing a surprising lack of emotion throughout. Blake was entertaining but also a bit dry around the edges. The remainder of the cast were seen only briefly, but all did fairly well.

Sets and backgrounds were solid with a rich feel as appropriate. Camera work almost felt like an afterthought with some ridiculously long lingering shots or likewise, long opening shots. Dialogue was sparse and could have used a bit more detail. Sound and soundtrack were fitting.

In the end Sleeping Beauty is interesting but will likely only appeal to a smaller crowd. The film feels like a slow motion social message that never fully arrives, leaving us with almost a romance, almost a drama.

With full nudity, some explicit sexuality, mild violence, nudity, foul language, sexuality, disturbing images, nudity, and sexuality, save this one for the oldest, mature teens and above.

Released: 2011
Reviewed: 10.25.17
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Romance, Drama, Indie Romance, Australia/New Zealand, Steamy

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Movie review: Alien: Covenant

 The crew of the colony ship "Covenant" are in for a surprise when the ideal planet they find turns out to be inhabited by David, a synthetic and the lone survivor from the "Prometheus".

Michael Fassbender (David/Walter), Katherine Waterston (Daniels), Billy Crudup (Oram), Danny McBride (Tennessee), Demian Bichir (Lope), Carmen Ejogo (Karine), Jussie Smollett (Ricks), Callie Hernandez (Upworth).

Alien: Covenant is the second chapter in the Alien prequel trilogy, extending the story and fleshing out the Prometheus plot line a bit further. The revelation that David survived was no big surprise, but that the Covenant crew found him on a planet they never intended to visit seems more than a bit contrived. The film moves along at a decent pace and incorporates much from the alien's that we have come to expect. While this entry in the franchise does add depth to the series storyline, it doesn't add much from an alien perspective.

Acting was decent with Fassbender doing a good job with his dual role. Waterston was enjoyable, as was Crudup and McBride. The remainder of the supporting cast felt solid and did reasonably well.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds were nicely done as we have come to expect from this franchise. Special effects were pretty good other than some of the space-craft sequences. Dialogue was okay but could have added a bit more depth. Sound and soundtrack are nicely done.

While the Alien franchise still seems to be doing well, lethargic entries such as this one probably are not going to help it grow. The film is decent, has some nice alien aspects, and extends the storyline nicely. It just doesn't bring much that is new.

With some mild sexuality, mild nudity, plenty of violence and gore, disturbing scenes, and a bit of foul language, this should be fine for older teens and above.

Released: 2017
Reviewed: 10.23.17
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Sci-Fi Horror, Sci-Fi Thrillers, Alien Sci-fi, Alien Horror

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

Monday, November 13, 2017

Movie review: Gerald's Game

 A weekend getaway with lingere and handcuffs seems like the perfect way to spice up a marriage. Instead Jessie is introduced to a level of fear she never before imagined.

Carla Gugino (Jessie), Carel Struycken (Moonlight Man), Bruce Greenwood (Gerald), Henry Thomas (Tom), Chiara Aurelia (Young Jessie), Kate Siegel (Sally).

Gerald's Game begins by introducing us to Jessie and Gerald as they head to a weekend getaway at an isolated cabin. With about 20 minutes of setup complete, the main plot begins to reveal itself. With some flashbacks for background, the remainder of the film is a delicious psychological roller-coaster ride into some pretty dark places. While it has been years since I've read the book, this film seems to do a pretty good job of presenting the story visually.

Acting was good with Greenwood feeling appropriately creepy. Gugino was a good choice for Jessie and handled the role very well with quality delivery and emotion. Struycken also did nicely and fit his role perfectly. Thomas, Aurelia, and the remainder of the supporting cast, including the dog, were very enjoyable.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds were simple but fitting and nicely managed. Action scenes were good with some being very intense. Dialogue had nice depth, explained things, and moved the story along nicely. Sound and soundtrack were solid.

In all, Gerald's Game is a fairly intense psychological thriller based on the Stephen King book of the same name. Those who enjoyed the book should enjoy this film. Those who are squeamish may want to think twice.

With some potentially disturbing sexuality, violence, intense gore, foul language, and adult situations, save this one for older mature teens and above.

Released: 2017
Reviewed: 10.20.17
Star rating: 4 out of 5
Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Horror, Thriller

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

Friday, November 10, 2017

Movie review: Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

 This biography focuses on William Marston, the creator of the Wonder Woman comics, and his polyamorous life with his wife, Elizabeth, and Olive Byrne.

Luke Evans (William Marston), Rebecca Hall (Elizabeth), Bella Heathcote (Olive), Connie Britton (Josette), Monica Giordano (Mary), JJ Field (Charles), Chris Conroy (Brant), Oliver Platt (Gaines), Maggie Castle (Dorothy).

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women begins with a quick look at the life Bill and Elizabeth are leading and their work together. Olive is quickly introduced to the storyline and focus immediately shifts as the trio begin forming romantic relationships with one another. The influence Marston's life had on the Wonder Woman story is ever present in the film and the two are integrated nicely. The film doesn't gloss over the difficulties the trio had which is refreshing alongside the obvious joy they received from their relationship.

At the same time, maybe the polyamorous community should think twice before endorsing this one. While the film presents polyamory better than most things we have seen in the media, I don't know that I would label it a *good* representation. There is a focus on non-vanilla sex, very little about relationship negotiation or personal growth, concerning age differences, and plenty of evidence much of the film is fiction rather than the *true story* as which it is billed.

Acting was good with Evans delivering a nice range of emotion throughout the film. Hall did nicely in her role as the intermittent antagonist. Heathcote was good, though from her facial expressions she looked pained through much of the film The remainder of the supporting cast was solid and enjoyable.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds were good with nice detail and period fit throughout. Dialogue was solid though a bit more around the forming of relationships and difficulties would have been nice. Sound and soundtrack were nicely done.

Overall Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is an enjoyable biopic, though as much of it is fictional, maybe calling it a Romance would be better. Romance, Wonder Woman, or those interested in Polyamory should enjoy this one.

With some sexual content, brief nudity, and adult situations, save this one for older teens and above.

Released: 2017
Reviewed: 10.19.17
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Drama, Biographies, Romance, Period Pieces

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

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