Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

Big Bad Wolves
This thriller from Israel reminded me a lot of the classic film The Vanishing, as it explores the depths that people will sink to in order to find answers and get revenge. After a young girl is abducted, sexually assaulted and killed, a rogue ex-cop plans to kidnap one of the prime suspects and torture him until he confesses. The girl’s father also gets in on the plan, but after several prolonged sequences of extreme torture, the ex-cop starts to think their captive might be innocent after all. Alliances begin to shift, no one knows who to trust, and ultimately, no one is left with their hands clean. It’s a brutal, cruel, and cold-hearted movie, but executed extremely well and with a chilling conclusion. Big Bad Wolves is not for the faint of heart, and only fans of extreme cinema need apply. While I feel no pressing need to watch it again any time soon, I appreciated everything it was able to do with a minimal budget, only a handful of actors, and a good script.
3.25 out of 5

Only Lovers Left Alive
Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive gives the vampire genre a breath of fresh air after many long years of teen vampire cheese-fest films. In Only Lovers, Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton play Adam and Eve, two of the oldest vampires left on earth. Adam has become disenfranchised with life and holed himself up in his run-down mansion, making music and feeling depressed. Eve, still amazed by nature and the world, comes to visit to help pull him out of his slump, and the two of them spend time philosophizing about art, life, and what it means to be immortal. Their perfect little world is disrupted when Ava (Mia Wasakowska), Eve’s younger sister, arrives and starts draining Adam’s friends of blood. But the plot of Only Lovers Left Alive is not what drives it – the driving force comes in the form of its two main characters. Adam and Eve are the bohemian ideal: smart, beautiful, romantic, talented and tragic. Jarmusch so obviously adores these two characters, and he makes them into everything we want vampires to be. The background lore of the world Jarmusch creates is also fascinating, with the implication being that most of the brilliant and artistic minds of all time were vampires, including the likes of Nicola Tesla, Buster Keaton and Jack White. This is a slow movie – don’t expect a rush to the finish line. Instead, watch it, revel in its luscious camera work, and dream of what it must be like to live hundreds of years. I’m not a believer in the supernatural, but after seeing Only Lovers Left Alive, I desperately want vampires to exist. But only if they’re like this.
4.5 out of 5

Snowpiercer is, without a doubt, one of the messiest and most nonsensical science fiction films I’ve seen in years, but it’s also one of the most original and fresh-feeling. After the world is plunged into a permanent ice age, the last remnants of humanity are stuck living on a perpetually moving train that encircles the globe. The train is divided by class, with the wealthy living in the forward cars and the impoverished living at the rear, and the poor have grown restless. They’re sick of being trod upon, so they organize a rebellion lead by Chris Evans. After the rebellion starts, Snowpiercer becomes, essentially, one long action scene as the rebels move from train car to train car (each car with its own weird setting, such as a nightclub, bath house, classroom and sushi bar) killing everyone they meet. Director Bong Joon-Ho is clearly trying to evoke the zany sci-fi weirdness of Terry Gilliam (he even names one of the characters after Gilliam), and for the most part it succeeds. But, much like Gilliam films, Snowpiercer is so messy and all-over-the-place that it leaves you reeling, and should you look closely at it, you quickly realize that it doesn’t make a lot of sense. But that doesn’t matter: this is a movie that is all about style over substance, and it has style in spades. It’ll keep you riveted for the duration – much like the train, it never slows down.
3.5 out of 5

See you next Sunday for more thrilling short reviews!

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