Author: Smash

I watch a lot of movies. Probably lots you haven't seen. Here's a list of them. In the vibrant city of Toronto, I have access to all kinds of film festivals, indie theaters, and the best movie subscription services my lack of money can buy. Why do I do it? Well, mostly because I really like movies, but also, so I can report to you on great flicks you probably missed! Bored? Exhausted your Netflix que (is that a thing still)? Too much of a movie fan to find anything fresh and new? Don't worry, I got you.

Cube

I told IMDB that I liked this movie, and it started recommending movies to me like “Sphere” and “Triangle” as if the only qualification was that I liked movies titled for shapes. That said, Triangle looks dope. (And NGL, Circle is very similar and will probably be up here eventually).

Cube is like the expanded Saw franchise without the gore. Before Saw 2, there were lots of cool indie sci fi films that asked what would happen if strangers (to each other and the audience) were in an unfathomable predicament and had to reason their way out. Cube is one of the best of these.

Six strangers wake up trapped in a seemingly endless maze filled with twists, turns and traps.  Each stranger is attempting to reason why they have been selected for this deadly game and why they have been put near the others.  If you’re like me, math stresses you out, so prepare to be stressed.  The attempts to solve the cube are so frustrating for you and the characters, you’ll be scratching your head angry at every past high school math teacher for not making you care more.

Films like this are great because you never know who is telling the truth, it raises ethical questions of who’s lives matter most, and forces you to wonder how you would behave to stay alive.

A fun tidbit is that there is a sequal to this called “Cube 2: Hypercube” and a disappointingly named third called “Cube 0” as if no one noticed how good “Cube Cubed” would have been.

I recommend this for a rainy Sunday inside, which will hopefully happen at some point this sunny October, ammiright?

Great if you liked: Saw, Exam, Circle, Triangle, Identity, Coherence

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Hatchet Trilogy

Or Quadrilogy, I should say.

HAPPY FRIDAY THE 13TH, FRIENDS  A F13 in October?  What a gift we have been bestowed in this crazy year they call ‘2017.’

My usual F13 plans involve, well, watching a Jason Voorhees flick, because, of course.  But that’s not why you’re here.  You’re here because you’ve seen all the popular slashers and it’s the middle of October, and you want MORE. Don’t worry, I’m here.

So while I would usually be watching a Voorhees flick, I am actually currently attending the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.  Tonight is slasher night and while there is no Voorhees, we will get to see Kane Hodder  (who’s often adorned that iconic hockey mask as Jason) on the big screen as Victor Crowley in the fourth installment of the series.  Hatchet is often skimmed over by slasher fans, so I am here to share it with you, dear readers.

The entire trilogy reads like one long movie as each picks up exactly where the last left off.  After the mysterious and tragic death of a boy in a swamp in Louisiana, legends spring up about a father accidentally killing his son, a deformed cursed boy, and a fire set by mean spirited boys.  Victor Crowley, the cursed deformed boy, terrorizes anyone who comes to the swamp after dark.  After her family falls victim to Crowley, Mary Beth sets off on a mission to rescue her father and brothers and rid the swamp of the curse of Victor Crowley.

This series is great junk food when you’re looking for a new slasher, and, who isn’t.  I won’t lie to you, the third installment is by a landslide, my favourite, so I recommend committing to this trilogy.  It’s absolutely obscene and has no excuse for some of its missteps, but you will certainly be entertained.  Settle into this while I screen part 4 for you tonight at #tadff.  I’ll let you know how it is.

Great if you liked: A Nightmare on Elm Street, NOES, Friday the 13th, Jason Goes to Hell, Jason Lives, The Final Friday, Scream, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, I Know what you did Last Summer, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, My Bloody Valentine, Maniac

Layer Cake

As a Guy Ritchie fangirl, this used to be my go to film for those who’ve exhausted his roster of jacked up crime flicks.  Although, produced by the same company behind Snatch and co, Layer Cake is directed by another British Gem, Matthew Vaughan.  You heard me, the very same genius behind, say it with me, Kingsman.

In this audition for James Bond, Daniel Craig stars in this adaptation of JJ Connelly’s novel as a drug dealer planning for his retirement.  When asked by his boss to help locate a missing woman, and getting into a bad deal with stolen pills, his perfect plan gets derailed. Hi-jinx ensue.

This is not a simple rehash of your typical British crime flicks, but it does have that same list of quirky characters, interwoven subplots, and British slang you wish you could pull off without sounding like a twat.  It is a lot more colourful and upbeat in appearance (does that make sense?) than what you’ve seen from Ritchie, but still reminds you of the writing style.  If you’re in it for a complex story, or just for a British drug romp, this is the one, baby.

This also has both one of my favourite soundtracks and favourite scores, since you asked.

Great if you liked: Snatch, Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels, Gangster No. 1, Rock N’ Rolla, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Revolver, Fight Club, Reservoir Dogs

Coherence

A friend was explaining to me that one of her favourite movies was one about messy timelines and I called said movie (to be posted later on the list) a “poor man’s Primer.” She was instantly insulted, despite not having seen Primer.  So I gave her a list of three superior films in the genre, the aforementioned, Predestination, and Coherence.  Immediately after watching Coherence, she called me to sulk it was over, and to plan our rewatch. It’s that good.

I stumbled across this movie in an imdb rabbit hole, and when it popped up on Netflix, I was instantly psyched.  It does not disappoint.

A group of friends are on their way to a dinner party, the night a comet is passing overhead. *don’t read this if you prefer to go in fresh* The comet causes some sort of quantum decoherence and allows the characters to pass through to alternate timelines.

What’s really exciting about this movie, is that it doesn’t bother to hold your hand.  You are learning what is happening as the characters (and the actors!) are.  You can’t help but be focused in, trying to figure it all out.  That also lends to being a bit scary.  Even better, it leads to rewatches paying off in so many ways.

Much like Saw, this was born out of the desire to make a movie that takes place in one room, and this sci-fi delivers in a completely different way.

Great if you liked: Predesination, Timecrimes, Primer, Pi, Timelapse, Cube, Circle

Big Game

I would love to write a thesis on what it’s like making action movies about the President of the US in 2017.  What would Air Force One look like? All The President’s Men? Executive Decision? Is it a coincidence that White Olympus House Down Fallen or whatever is the last US Pres focused action movie to come out?

Well back in 2014, Finland’s Jalmari Helander pumped out the President focused action of your dreams with Big Game.

Coming off of the success of the straight up weird (and excellent) Rare Exports (prep for that entry near the holidays), Jalmari applied his wacky style to the “save the pres” genre.

Samuel L. Jackson stars alongside young Onni Tommila as the US President who is marooned in Finland after a failed attempt at his kidnapping causing an Air Force One Crash. Onni, as Oskari, the skilled young camper, stumbles across the pres and the pair go on an exciting adventure through the woods.  Oskari is out hunting and camping to prove himself as a man to his village, and the pres stumbles right in to give him the opportunity.

This absolutely ridiculous spin on the genre adds an entire level of fun to an otherwise Clancy written Ford starring version of the same.  Take a trip back to a time when these movies were a fun spin on reality.  This is EASILY one of my favourite camp action movies, and of those, there are many.

Great if you liked: Rare Exports, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Air Force One, Con Air, All the President’s Men, Independence Day

The Crazies (1973)

Yesterday was a rough day.  The world lost George A. Romero AND Martin Landau.

For those unfamiliar, Romero is the godfather of the modern day zombie.  Before his iterations, there was no head shot, no double tab, no infectious bites.  Romero’s career is riddled with “of the Dead” features that have inspired an entire genre and generation of film makers.  Further, his films were diverse in such a way that they were so before their time.

But almost any casual fan has watched a Romero zombie flick.  Here is my oft missed selection.

The Crazies tells the story of a small town wherein an infection has caused certain people to both laugh at and commit heinous violence.  The infection is born of a failed military operation, and the town is sealed off by personnel attempting to contain the situation and study the results of this accidental test.  A small group of survivors attempt to evade quarantine and save themselves from the military wrath.

This film is so different from your average fright, and is a new take on a ‘zombie’ genre film as the ‘zombies’ are not the rotting bitey corpses you imagine, but psychopathic versions of living people. The opening scene is pure terror and the third act is absolutely devastating.  This oft missed film totally breaks the mould and is absolutely wroth the watch.

Great if you liked: Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead

End of Watch

It’s buddy cop day.  More specifically, it’s ‘buddy cop flipped on its side’ day.  Loyal followers have already seen the post below which is a buddy cop movie flipped onto it’s 60s Irish side making for a darker over the top comedy.  End of Watch flips the script to make a darker and more dramatic version of the genre.

Michael Peña is BACK (well this one is older, buy ya get me) doing what he does best, being a hilarious movie cop type, in this single camera found footage style cop drama from David Ayer.  Yes, Ayer made this, so expect explosions, oversized weapons dipped in gold, and all of that noise. But in this application, those vehicles actually work to create this beautifully gut wrenching take on the genre.  It’s hard to call a movie with a gold AK47 and a villain named ‘Big Evil,’ subtle, but this film really is.  It flips from found camera footage of two cute cop buddies into a fully directed drama without you even noticing.  You’ll go from laughing to cheering to crying without even noticing.  You’ll go from thinking Ayer is a helicopter loving Joker ruining director to a beautiful genius without even noticing.

Instead of being a cop tale about corruption and drugs and cash, this film is about friendship.  Ayer’s choice to give Michael Peña and Jake Gyllenhaal cameras and the license to improvise add to the realism of the friendship.  The two are more than charming and make this flip on the buddy cop genre more than welcome.

Great if you liked: The Fast and the Furious, Nightcrawler, Dog Day Afternoon, Cerpico, Donnie Brasco, Training Day, Street Kings

War on Everyone

In a love letter to the buddy cop films of the 60’s, War on Everyone takes the genre to the dark places Rush Hour doesn’t. (New to Netflix which is exciting yo).

Writer/ director John Michael McDonagh (brother of Martin McDonagh of In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths) is an Irish movie thoroughbred making this his American film debut.  And boy, can you ever sense it.  This film spills over with Irish style humour you’ll recognize from your McDonagh brother favourites, which can be jarring in an American accent if I’m being really honest.

Honestly, Michael Peña to everyone else; do you even buddy cop?  In another film that turns buddy cop on its nose, End of Watch, this guy shines bright like a diamond.  This perfect pair up brings the comedy in this somewhat twisted flick.

Much like it’s buddy cop counter parts, War on Everyone isn’t winning any awards for ‘political correctness,’ but it approaches that style of humour through the right lens (in my humble opinion) and lets you laugh (this is a discussion for another time but I am happy to have it.  In a word, my thoughts are that there’s a difference between being in on the joke and the joke relying on an offensive premise).  There’s not much more to say than that if you wanted an Irish/ British approach to the buddy cop genre, by which I mean it’s grittier and more taboo, with a shockingly perfect cast, this is it, buddy.  It also includes easily my top 5 favourite one liner of all time and it’s killing me not to spoil it.

Great if you liked: End of Watch, In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths, Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Layer Cake, Rush Hour, Shanghai Noon

 

Keanu

As much as I wish I could just post about Keanu Reeves being awesome, this post isn’t about that. (Well, not directly, anyway).

We have all certainly heard the buzz of Jordan Peele‘s Get Out.  A lot of you are probably like “wait? Peele? Like that funny dude from Key and Peele?”  (Bonus points if you were like “wait, the guy who was on MAD TV with Key?). Yep! That guy.  Well briefly before his horror masterpiece was helping generate 200 buzzfeed articles, Key and Peele pumped out this comedy about a cat named Keanu.

This bizarre comedy follows two cousins pretty out of touch with LA street life.  After a cat stumbles into their lives, things seem to be on the up for the down trodden duo, but the cat belongs to a drug lord.  Hitmen and drug dealers claim the cat back sending the cousins on a berserk frenzy to reclaim their pet.

This movie is pure laughs in the style you’ve come to know and love from this pair.  As they take off in disguise as badass drug dealing hitmen in their pastel coloured shorts, you’ll immediately feel comfortable in the humour you expect from these two.  Put simply, it is a laugh, and a perfect gem when you’re looking for a comedy you might have missed.

Great if you liked: Let’s Be Cops, Bad Boys, Mr. Right, Central Intelligence, Let’s Go To Prison, Get Hard, Masterminds, Neighbor. (Note* I am not a big fan of most of these movies, and I love Keanu.  This movie is a lot better and a lot funnier, but certainly falls into the same category as those mentioned).

Snowpiercer

From it’s wikipedia page:  Snowpiercer is a 2013 English-language South Korean-Czech science fiction thriller film based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette.

Following along so far?

So last week was Free Comic Book Day in Toronto, and boy, did I make out well.  I stopped at three excellent comic book shops, and got my Captain Canuck Year One signed by Jay Baruchel and Kalman Andrasofszky. Big day. Huge. Anyway, while on my trip to all of the comic book hot spots, I saw all kinds of Snowpiercer merch and couldn’t believe I hadn’t already told you guys about one of my favourite comic book adaptations! (One of.  Guys, there are so many).

When climate change becomes the final problem (so, now, basically), humanity comes together with a plan to solve it, and fails, big time.  Our movie takes place in the aftermath, when the remainder of humanity is the few who have boarded a train firing in a loop around the earth with a perpetual energy engine.  On the train, people have separated into classes, the poorer at the back of the train, near starving, and the rich at the front of the train, living lavishly.  Lead by Curtis (Chris Evans), the “scum” at the back of the train revolt and plot move across the train to the engine, to force negotiations for a  better life for those in the lower class.

This is an indie sci-fi, with wisps of horror, based on a graphic novel, starring Chris Evans.  CAN’T BE MAD ABOUT THAT N’AM SAYIN’?  The film is absolutely crazy, but also incredibly thoughtful.  Evans gives an incredible subtle performance that shows off his acting chops.  The brilliant and diverse cast so beautifully portray the struggle of the less fortunate while blending seamlessly with the horror sci-fi craziness this film brings.  Director Bong Joon Ho brings a Korean horror sensibility to scary elements that I won’t spoil here.  His approach to the source material and the terrifying secrets all along the train are incredible and keep this both uplifting and bone chilling.

After excellent critical acclaim, this film certainly made it more mainstream, but many a fan missed it, so if you’re one of those fans, I hope you’ll check this one out.

Great if you liked: Train to Busan, Children of Men, Sunshine, Minority Report, Looper, Running Scared, The Fifth Element

Fun Fact: In the “after the credits scene” of The Avengers Age of Ultron, you’ll notice cap covering up his chin while enjoying his shawarma.  That’s because Evans was already filming Snowpiercer and had grown a beard which was covered up by a prosthetic jaw.