Sunday, 29 October 2017

No.259 : What Happened to Monday

What Happened to Monday @ The IMDb

No question mark for this seemingly interrogative title - maybe it’s just a report as to the fate of the weekday monikered heroine?

This was a pretty enjoyable Netflix offering with a good cast, plenty of action, nudity and violence to keep things ticking over. The scene is set with a familiar montage over the opening credits as the world goes to shit. Over-population has led to a new policy of ‘one child per family’ with any extra siblings put into 'cryo-sleep' until things get better.

Willem Dafoe lacks a social conscience so when his wife, who dies in childbirth, hatches seven daughters he decides to keep the lot of them. As there are seven he names each after a day of the week, meaning each girl can go out on their name day each week. Lucky he wasn’t a Disney fan or Grumpy would be waiting for Bashful to get out of the goddamn toilet.

Anyway we fast forward 30 years and the plan is going well. Willem has disappeared off the scene with no explanation given - guess he was only booked for the first half hour. The girls share the identity of ‘Karen Settman’ and manage to hold down a job at a bank by giving the others a bed time run down of the day’s events so the rest can pick things up on their day. Guess Saturday and Sunday got the best of this deal!

Things go awry when Monday doesn’t come home after her day at work. The rest, all ably played by Noomi Rapace, try to work out what has happened whilst trying to keep their own secrets safe. Meanwhile evil politician Glenn Close is trying to get to high office where her plans for even more draconian laws spell trouble for everyone - well except the planet.

Soon our fish are well and truly out of the water and the hunt is on - how many will survive and what has happened to Monday?

This was an above average sci-fi thriller. It’s a pretty dystopian 2073 - pissing down and rubbish on the streets are your clues! Some of the tech like the well designed palm phones and a digital punch bag sit uncomfortably with the all rat diet but I guess you can piss away resources on some shiny stuff while making do on rodent stew.

The seven sisters are well realised with predictable quirks and differing haircuts setting each apart and the editing is excellent so you really can’t see the joins when Noomi is on the screen as seven characters all at once. The flashbacks with Dafoe are well done although they did lift that finger chopping bit from ‘The Prestige’ more or less wholesale.

What surprised me was the level of violence with some really brutal men versus ladies fist fights with plenty of blood. I was also surprised that some siblings were lost but not so much about the big reveal.

There was a bit of an attempt for some social commentary regarding climate change and overpopulation, this was however a bit muddled. Glenn Close is seemingly a mental baddie but her policies will save humanity whereas Dafoe is the hero father who's spewing out kids faster than the midwife can catch them. I guess the theme is 'difficult choices' but as Close said if everyone procreated like Dafoe the planet wouldn't last five minutes.

At a bit over two hours the film could have lost 20 minutes, with the last third decidedly flabby. It was however well constructed, so that a potentially confusing tale of seven identical twins was easy to follow. The title was a bit poor though - I’d have went with ‘The Secret Seven’. No wait, ‘Sister Act 7’.

Best Bit : Blonde Karen syncs with the guard
W Rating : 17/23

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

No.258 : Where the Devil Hides

Where the Devil Hides at the IMDb

Pat Farrell in Lee Van Cleef’s hat stars in this low budget 'serial killer in an Aimish community' romp.

The film opens with Pat making dramatic statements regarding ‘the prophecy’ Word on the streets is that when six girls are born on the same day only one will live until their 18th birthday and that one will become the Devil’s Hand.

Before the title card appears the girls start popping out and Pat is on the scene with his sickle to get all biblical on their asses. He’s shoved down the stairs by Rufus Sewell out of ‘The Man in the High Castle’ but that’s not the end of the matter, sadly.

One of the six new mums, who has presumably seen the rest of the script, opts to smother her baby and cut her own throat. Probably easier to wrangle five accesses than six and it’s easier to remember who everyone is too, so it’s a worthwhile sacrifice.

We flash forward to the present day and the girls are about to celebrate their 18th birthday - which is strange as one of them looks about 30. Their community of New Bethlehem has accepted them but the nearing of the prophecy puts them all on edge - a good time for a skinny dip in the lake then. The girls meet a couple of horny lads, one of whom saves one of them after she has a fit and lots of visions.

They split up and go to their own homes but one is soon butchered with a big sickle after choosing somewhat bizarrely, to hide down a well. With the murder weapon clearly shown it has to be Pat who is the murderer - surely?

Things take a predictable path as the girls start to thin in number and we have to wonder if the prophecy will be true and whether someone with vested interests in local jam and quilt sales may be pushing things towards his own agenda.

As we near the welcome 86th minute, sorry 18th birthday, we have to wonder who will survive, who’s doing the killings and whether the prophecy will become true - bet you manage 3 out of 3 too!

This was a lot of clich├ęd and risible nonsense but I have to confess to quite enjoying it. The dialogue is atrocious with poor Colm Meany having to spout out so much drivel. Sewell gets little to do and you can almost see him mulling over new agent options as he delivers his Aimish lines that look like leftovers from ‘Kingpin’.

For a horror film they are quite coy with the sex and violence with a bare bum and a few off screen slashings all you get.

If you are looking for a new take on the serial killer genre you won’t find it here and the religious angle is just ridiculous and never given any traction, no matter how many ‘visions’ they crash cut in.
Overall a bit of throwaway hokum with nothing to really to recommend it apart from a few unintended chuckles and a plot that couldn’t be more transparent if it were written on glass.

Best Bit : Pat has a look for the ‘Devil’s sign’ - the dirty bastard.
W Rating  12/23

Thursday, 16 February 2017

No.257 : War on Everyone

War on Everyone at the IMDb

 Well we’re back after a brief year long absence. I know the appetite for ‘W’ based movie excitement is unabated but fear not, the wait for the four of you is now over!

‘War on Everyone’ is the first American film by English director John Michael McDonagh who impressed with his last two offerings, ‘The Guard’ and ‘Calvary’ both of which starred Brendan Gleeson. I say ‘American film’ but I noticed that it was partly funded by the National Lottery despite starring two ‘B’ list Americans and being set in Albuquerque. Still if anyone likes a gamble it's them.

The film is billed as an ‘action comedy’ but the laughs were few and the action was low rent.

Michael Pena, last seen (by me) in ‘The Martian’ and Alexander Skarsgard who was Tarzan in his previous film before this, star as couple of New Mexico police detectives. They play fast and loose with the rues but can’t afford a scriptwriter to supply them with any zingers - “Where’s my X-Box?” “Do ya wanna look up my ass?” Titter you will not.

They highlight their badness by drink driving and swearing a lot but they just come across as a pair of tiresome jerks who are trying too hard to impress. The plot is lifted almost entirely form the ‘Starsky and Hutch’ movie but at least you don’t have Vince Vaughn as the baddie. Here the budget is clearly limited so you have to make do with the guy who got shit on his nose at the end of ‘The Inbetweeners’ movie. To be fair he is backed up by a guy channeling Malcolm McDowell in ‘A Clockwork Orange’ but he’s even worse and exudes the menace of a declawed kitten made out of cotton wool.

Our heroes set out on a quest to gain some drug money but soon get distracted by an exotic girlfriend who was better in ‘Westworld’ and a cute child who offered nothing, not even the intended softening of Pena’s character. The limited plot drags along with the investigation following no logical path and offering no laughs or thrills. At one point they do travel to Iceland for five minutes which seemed totally pointless and probably used up the script polishing budget as well.

The two leads were poor and didn’t gel at all. They were set out to be bad boys but you didn’t care about them at all and have nothing invested in their schemes. The direction was OK but I couldn’t help but think the director was out of his comfort zone and relied on tired old tropes rather than doing anything original. When Paul Reiser showed up as the police chief and demanded our heroes’ badges and to leave the prime suspect alone someone must have called ‘foul’.

The action sequences amounted to some low speed car crashes and a bin through a window so you can tell this isn’t exactly ‘Die Hard’. They also have the familiar trip to the strip joint where all the strippers were fully dressed. This looked like they were trying to secure a lower certificate but when they went back again it was all topless - had they went on Prudish Tuesday the first time around?

The locations were great and it did bring back memories as I too had traveled in that Albuquerque cable car. It wasn’t enough however; the film was dull and predictable and the Frankenstein’s monster of every buddy cop film that you’ve ever seen...

Best Bit : Let's check out the strip joint again...
‘W’ Rating 10/23