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Predestination

It’s Tuesday.  Perfect time for some thinking Sci-Fi in Predestination.

Ethan Hawke stars as a Temporal agent on the hunt for a criminal, the Fizzle Bomber, who has eluded him through time.  A Temporal agent’s duties involve intricate travels through time to ensure their law enforcement exists “through eternity.” On his final mission, he is to take out his elusive white whale.

Dripping with unseen hints, a story is told to the agent by a bar patron (who oddly looks a lot like Leonardo DiCaprio) of  Jane, of a shattered career, lost love, and the amazing feats of human kind.

You could see two different trailers for this film and think they’re completely unrelated.  But they’re not.  Watch closely.

Predestination is great for, among other reasons, the fact that it plays with our linear sense of time.  Typically, we see time as a straight line from past, present to future.  For our Temporal Agent, his past, present and future transcends our timeline and exists in a line linear to his age, but not through that of our universe. (Whoooaaaa).

This is one of the highest quality, in both production value and story, sci fi films that I have seen come out of the festival circuit.  Based on a short story by the legendary Robert A. Heinlein, and adapted for film by the makers of Daybreakers, this is not one to go missed.

Amazing if you liked: Daybreakers, Looper, Source Code, In Time, Snowpiercer, Minority Report

The Guest

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I have been on quite a classic horror binge as of late, which is a great way to remind myself of all of the amazing tropes parodied by my favourite genre: modern camp horror.

Few have done camp horror quite as well as Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, the writer director duo behind The Guest.

Coming off the success of their sleeper hit, You’re Next, the duo took their new found big budget and turned it into the camp horror dreams were made of (and then sprinkled in a bunch of action).

Dan Stevens (of Downton Abbey fame) stars as “David,” a soldier returning from active duty and visiting the family of his fallen platoon member.  The Peterson family invites David to stay with them for a few days, where slowly his strange behaviour begins to show its face, mostly to the daughter, a teenage waitress forced to have David tag-a-long in her day to day life as a social high schooler.

This flick dives so far into awesome camp that it is mashing of two of my all time favourite films, Terminator 2 and Halloween, which is somehow also funny, and goes next level into some Jason Bourne, and German Sci Fi places.

Every detail makes this film fun, from the classic 80’s style euro synth music, to the long shots of solo characters.  You won’t know whether to love or hate David, but you’ll definitely want to recycle some of his lines to sound cool (re: ‘cash is easy to get’ and ‘awesome’).  It’s also a great spot for Maika Monroe who is quickly making her name as the Scream Queen of the Y generation.

Great if you liked: You’re Next, Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, It Follows, The Final Girls, V/H/S, Rec, The Strangers, Terminator, Terminator 2

Son of Batman

If you have your ear anywhere near the comic book grindstone, you will have heard that they are FINALLY making a Batman animated film for “The Killing Joke” which has just gotten itself an R rating. (This is so insanely exciting because it’s my fave comic book ever and is absolutely twisted).

If you’re not familiar with the Batman animated films, well…. you’re welcome for telling you about them.  Batman animated films are not quite what you would expect.  They tend to borrow heavily from the comic book ethos and are often a page by page retelling of the dark comic books up on the small screen.  There are a lot of amazing ones (and a chunk of them are on Netflix) so if you’re a comic book fan looking for a lazier way to digest some reading, or a casual fan looking to scope the comic book vibe, these are for you.

Son of Batman makes the list because, while it follows the comic book retelling onto the small screen, it’s actually kind of a distant cousin to its comic book counter part, Batman and Son. (Guys, the Batman and Son comic story line is a whole other article for a whole other website…).

Ra’s Al Ghul, his daughter, Talia, and his grandson, Damian, are training the League of Assassins when attacked by a rival terrorist group, lead by Slade Wilson (yes the very same character Deadpool is parodying). Ra’s is killed, and Talia brings her son to Gotham to be protected by his father, Batman.  Damian possesses the raw skill of his father and mother and the training of the League, but the defiance associated with being raised by the Al Ghul clan.

Story takes off from there and unreal characters pop by like Killer Croc (you’ll know him from the Suicide Squad trailers) and (*heart melts*) Nightwing. Also, those voice actors, tho.

This is a great one to cut your teeth on, or if you’re a hard comic book fan and have read all the print stories and want something different.  It’ll be perfect to make you a fan just in time for The Killing Joke.

Fun Fact, watching this is how I learned I have been pronouncing “Ra’s” wrong for 25 years. (Raysh? Yeah right).

Great if you liked: Batman, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Attack on Arkham, The Dark Knight Returns, Batman and Robin, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Batman v Superman, Man of Steel, Batman Beyond, The Avengers, The Winter Soldier

In Bruges

 

As I sat watching the first two awards announced at the Oscars, fighting with my cable box for its inability to play “Room,” I realized all I needed for real Sunday entertainment was my DVD collection, and In Bruges.

A go-to for a lot of film fans trying to help out a bored friend, this British flick is at the top of British (…Irish) Drama game.

Colin Farrell stars as Ray, a hitman, who along with his “co-worker,” Ken (Brendan Gleeson) has been sent to Bruges, Belgium to await orders from their boss, Harry.

The plot unfolds in such an artful way that I don’t want to delve into it any more here.

Martin McDonagh, (the brilliant genius behind Seven Psychopaths), does what he does best here.  He creates a simple story about a lost hit man and coats it with a thick layer of allegory, meta-plot, blatant hints you don’t see, and a perfect peppering of humour.

Farrell, (who is, IMO, one of the top 3 most underrated actors of our time) really shines here as Ray.  He even won the Golden Globe for Best Actor for it…. (Sorry, Oscars and DDL, this was Colin’s year).

By treating “crime” the way it does, it really takes you into the life of these hitmen and out of your every day.  It’s dark, it’s sad, it’s funny, and it’s exciting, a difficult combo on which McDonagh doesn’t disappoint.

Great if you liked: Seven Psychopaths, Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Layer Cake, Lucky Number Slevin, Rock N Rolla

Hardcore Henry

It’s a fact that this is an over zealous post.  This was supposed to be buried in the vault for a little while but I am JUST SO EXCITED THAT THIS MOVIE HAS AN OFFICIAL RELEASE DATE.

Back when this was still called “Hardcore,” I was fortunate enough to catch this masterpiece at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it was pretty tough to survive the 90 minute run time without blinking ONCE.

In this movie version of an RPG, you wake up, Henry, with no memory of who you are, being put back together by your beautiful wife.  As she is finishing up installing your voice module, some ‘hell breaks loose’ and, well, you’re off for the best action packed thrill ride you’ll ever see through your own eyes.

The POV of this film is more amazing than you’re imagining.  It has the “one long shot” vibe of Birdman, with the frantic sci fi of the best RPG and some Looper vibes.  What’s even more amazing is that a lot of this flick was shot with go-pros and cameras literally strapped to a guy running.  I’ll reference you to the “bridge free run” scene which was literally filmed without safety harnesses, and just some stunt men running, one of them strapped with cameras.  My heart was in my throat enough without knowing that.

This death defying romp is more fun than you could ever imagine and is completely insane, courtesy of the eccentric Jimmy(s) brought to life by Sharlto Popley.  There’s a dance scene.  That’s all you need to know. (And, no, it’s nothing like Spider-man 3).

I can’t recommend this one enough, and if you can, try your best to catch this one in theaters after it’s exciting April 9, 2016 release.  Ugh, congrats, Ilya Naishuller, you killed it.

Amazing if you liked: any RPG game, Looper, Rare Exports, Big Game, The Sixth Day, 28 Weeks Later, Dredd, Judge Dredd