Movies reviews

  • Funny Games

    Watched on

    9

    Two psychotic young men take a mother, father, and son hostage in their vacation cabin and force them to play sadistic "games" with one another for their own amusement.

    Review

    Funny Games is an unconventional thriller by German writer and director Michael Haneke. The movie follows a mother, father and son vacationing at their lake house when they're interrupted and held hostage by two psychotic young men.

    The hostage-takers are strangely sedate in their brutal treatment of the family. The horror of the situation is heightened to epic proportions with Haneke's brilliant direction. You do not see any of the violence; instead, you see the horrible reality. The extremely long shots, the lack of music and the harsh factuality of the scenes make this movie brilliant.

    Haneke breaks the "fourth wall" at least twice during this movie. As one character looks and talks directly to the camera and the audience. Another breathtaking scene is a single take which lasts over ten minutes.

    These types of directorial choices are far from those which are found in typical Hollywood movies. Haneke purposefully uses non-glamorous portrayals of violence in a direct opposition to Taraninto-style movies and because of this, I think the movie is brilliant - highly recommended.

    Prepare for a highly suspenseful yet sickeningly violent, non-Hollywood, edge-of-the-seat piece of art.

    Dan Kenyon

  • Run, Fat Boy, Run

    Watched on

    8

    A chunky, clueless guy leaves his pregnant fiancée on their wedding day only to discover -- 5 years later -- that she is his one true love. But in order to win back her heart, he looks to finish his first marathon while making her realize her new man is the wrong guy for her.

    Run, Fat Boy, Run

    Review

    David Schwimmer is at the helm in his theatrical directorial début, Run, Fatboy, Run: a story of love and perseverance but with a heavy twist of humour. The movie stars Simon Pegg as Dennis, the hapless protagonist yearning after his ex-fiancée, who he left pregnant at the altar five years ago! Now a washed-up, unfit (but not fat) security guard for a lingerie store, he is trying to win back the respect of his son and the love of his life.

    This isn't the first time Simon Pegg and David Schwimmer have collaborated. They starred alongside one another in the overlooked heist-gone-wrong comedy of confusion and betrayal, Big Nothing. I highly recommend both Big Nothing and Run, Fatboy, Run if you're a fan of British humour and sarcasm.

  • Panic Room

    Watched on

    8

    Recently divorced Meg Altman and her daughter Sarah have bought a new home in New York. On their tour around the mansion, they come across the panic room. A room so secure, that no one can get in. When three burglars break in, Meg makes a move to the panic room. But all her troubles don't stop there. The criminals know where she is, and what they require the most in the house is in that very room.

    Panic Room

    Review

    The premise alone - a fragile mother who has recently been left by her husband and her daughter alone in a massive new home - would give some people the creeps. But add in a robbery and you've got what they call a perfect storm. Set within the confines of one house during one night, the concept has the least scope of all of the directors movies, but this simplistic nature is one of the movies strengths.

    The movie opens as they're being shown round the house, they move through large empty spaces with the windows closed, the light is strange darkness. The movie spans one single night and never strays from the intimidating perpetual bleak shadow-filled light. This atmosphere is compounded by the use of the “pathetic fallacy” - the cliché use of rain in scary or depressing situations - and the subtle colour tone, filled with greys.

    The initial setup is so well done that the conflict arrives after only fifteen minutes. The introduction of the three perpetrators is done by an incredibly long tracking shot, which follows the men as they try and break in to the property. The single shot lasts two and a half minutes, moves from the bottom of the house to the top and back again, and makes very good use of CGI to piece it all together in to a seamless sequence.

    The dynamics between the three robbers is beautiful introduction. The quiet gentle giant, who is the brains behind the operation, played by Forest Whitaker, the frantic and desperate leader played by Jared Leto and the mysterious masked outsider (Dwight Yoakam). Each trait is obvious from the a single taut scene and is left to simmer for the rest of the movie. The dialogue is minimal yet intelligently scripted and delivered.

    There are some really great high tension scenes scattered throughout the film which are punctuated with action set pieces, all building the suspense to it's final climatic scene. Add to the dark visual tone a simple yet haunting string-based soundtrack and you've got two more ingredients of a top-notch thriller.

    Although Panic Room is Fincher's shortest movie, coming in at under one hour fifty minutes, every scene is well considered, there is very little which could be cut and has a perfect balance of story setup, suspense, action and characterisation.