All posts by Movie Burner Entertainment

The Movie Burner Entertainment Organisation (M.B.E.) was founded in January 2017 by Executive Producers John Walsh (Editor in Chief), Kevan McLaughlin (Head of Development) and Stephen McLaughlin (Head of Programming) as an entertainment platform to provide Movie News and Reviews. “The Movie Burners” expanded the writing team and introduced experienced writers Chauncey Telese, D.M. Anderson, Michael McGeown, Anna-Maria McAlinney, Steven Wilkins, Philip Henry, John Gray, Gianni Damai, Gerry Brown and Elizabeth Brown (The Movie Couple) and Peter Pluymers on board with a vast knowledge of film and give their view on the latest and retro movie reviews. The Movie Burner Entertainment Organisation (M.B.E.) Official Website (www.movieburnerentertainment.org) hosts the reviews. The Movie Burners Podcast hit the airwaves on SoundCloud and are now weekly shows (Box Office Chat, MBE Heroes, Movie Burner News, The Blog Rundown and The Force Friday Show) that you can find on iTunes & YouTube.

First Love (2019) Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

 

First Love Review

Director: Takashi Miike
Writer: Masa Nakamura
Stars: Becky, Mami Fujioka, Sakurako Konishi 

Have you ever gone on iMDB and seen just how prolific director Takashi Miike has been throughout his career? If he and Nick Cage ever hooked up, they could crank out a new movie every 10 minutes. Actually, Cage’s career could probably use a little of Miike’s help right now.

On this side of the ocean, Miike is arguably best-known for Audition and Ichi the Killer, establishing him as not-only prolific, but maybe a little nuts. First Love isn’t quite as bonkers as either, but stylistically similar to the latter. Though it contains plenty of bloody mayhem, particularly during the wild finale, there’s none of the sexual violence that sometimes made Ichi tough to endure.

Leo (Masatake Kubota) is a young boxer who comes to the ‘rescue’ of Monica (Sakurako Konishi) by punching the guy chasing her down the street. However, Monica is actually a drug-addicted prostitute and her pursuer is a crooked cop in-cahoots with local Yakuza gangster Kase (Shota Sometani), who plans to steal a drug shipment from his own bosses. Monica is set-up as their patsy in a ruse that also implicates the Chinese mob (who send a batch of their own assassins to find her). Naturally, the plan goes awry.

That’s the basic plot, which grows increasingly complex – some might say convoluted – as it unfolds. But the story ultimately boils down to a long, delirious chase with a variety of quirky, amusing characters trying to get their hands on the bag o’ drugs. Leo & Monica are just innocent young rubes caught in the melee, which leads to a violent, blood-soaked showdown in a hardware store.

Despite efforts to give them a bit of complexity, the somber young leads don’t resonate much. Considering his abundance of previous Yakuza action thrillers, Miike is obviously far more infatuated with the gangsters. As such, they’re interesting characters, some of whom are exaggerated and highly amusing, like Kase – who keeps inadvertently killing people – and a hitman simply known as One-Armed Wang. While a definite mean-streak runs throughout the film, its healthy sense of humour might even make the violence palatable enough for – dare I say it? – mainstream audiences.

The story seems a bit padded out at times. Bookending the action is a lot mundane character exposition and an unnecessarily protracted epilogue. In-between, however, is a fast, furious ballet of guns, fights, swords, squibs, dismemberments and beheadings. First Love probably isn’t destined to enjoy the cult status of Takashi Miike’s most audacious films, but it’s certainly stylish, exuberant and a lot of ridiculous fun.

Kill Order (2017) Movie Review By Steven Wilkins

Kill Order Review
Director: James Mark
Writer: James Mark
Stars: Chris Mark, Jessica Clement, Denis Akiyama

Do you like action…do you like more action? Well this is definitely the one to check out.  David Lee (Chris Mark) is a young man suffering from traumatising flashbacks to a mysterious past of his.  When a fully armoured squad tries to take him during class, his fear and aggression awaken a power unheard of.

There’s really not much to even spoil, this is jus a good beat em up sprinkled with enough backstory to keep the viewer tied to the characters.  The hits are brutal, the FX are actually clean enough to believe what’s going on. Some of the action-cam during fights were a bit dizzying  but overall tolerable.

Kill Order is worth a viewing and recognition considering how open the ending came to be.  Enjoy

Grade: B+

Stephanie (2017) Movie Review By Steve Wilkins

Stephanie Review
Director: Akiva Goldsman
Writers: Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski (screenplay)
Stars: Shree Crooks, Frank Grillo, Anna Torv

A mysterious occurrence finds young Stephanie (Shree Crooks) home alone fending for herself.  Amid the day and night, strange events take place but young Stephanie seems completely comfortable amid the drama and has developed a routine day to day to avoid the “monster”.  One night her randomly parents show up surprised she’s still alive and well.

Over time through some news coverage and flashbacks its unveiled some kind of invasion had taken place. There are some decent creepy moments and a few shockers within the story which in time becomes predictable but still worth it as the biggest mystery to it all is Stephanie herself. Take some time, pop up a bowl to snack on and enjoy this solid Blumhouse product.

Grade: A

He's Out There (2018) Movie Review By Steve Wilkins

He's Out There Review

Director: Quinn Lasher
Writer: Mike Scannell
Stars: Yvonne Strahovski, Anna Pniowsky, Abigail Pniowsky

When Laura (Strahovski) takes her daughters to remote cabin for a vacation getaway, her and her children are preyed upon by an axe wielding masked man in the night.

Another edge of seat thriller/horror that delivers heavy on the thrill. Like Hush (2016) this movie focuses on entrapment and stalking to put the viewer in the shoes of the victim. It does well though there are times you want a bit more action. The entire event takes place over the course of one night which means the main bit action that IS delivered culminates at dawn with a nice enough payoff. Overall cut and dry, routine thriller makes for a nice view amongst all or alone.

Grade: A-

1917 (2019) Movie Review By Philip Henry

1917 Review

Director: Sam Mendes
Writers: Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Stars: George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman

When I look back at that long (seemingly) unbroken take that opened Spectre, I can’t help but wonder if the seed of 1917 was already growing in Sam Mendes’s mind. With this film he takes that impressive filming method and applies it to the whole film, giving us something never before seen on-screen; an entire movie that looks like a single shot.

The story is fairly simple; two corporals are tasked with getting a message to the front line before an offensive push leads 1600 men into an ambush. The mission is given added urgency because the brother of one of the soldiers is among those about to go over the top. It’s a race against time across the war-torn ruins of the Western Front to get the message delivered.

Like its two heroes, this film hits the ground running and barely stops for two hours. It’s essentially a road movie with the soldiers going from one location to another and meeting various obstacles. To say more would be to spoil the plot, but suffice to say there are always a few stragglers even when an enemy has officially left the area.

This isn’t your gung-ho sort of war film where the hero can pick up a radio and get back-up. This is the story of one man’s mission. He’s in it alone and more often than not you feel sorry for him rather than wanting to cheer on his heroic actions. He is heroic, though, there’s no doubt about that, but his heroism isn’t defined by the amount of enemy soldiers he can kill by himself, but by his ability to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward no matter what tries to stop him. It’s his determination against all odds and obstacles that truly makes him a hero.

Though we’re with Schofield (George McKay) for most of the film, there’s a lot of familiar faces as he meets various people for brief periods. Colin Firth starts him off on his mission and Benedict Cumberbatch and Andrew Scott (Holmes and Moriarty) are in there too, as well as Mark Strong and Daniel Mays. It’s refreshing to see such well-known actors in small parts; it means they don’t detract from Schofield and his mission, which Mendes is smart enough to know should always remain the focus of the narrative.

George McKay’s performance as Schofield should see him making space on his mantel come award season. Not only does he fully commit to the role, but he even looks like how I imagine soldiers in World War I looked. It’s a stroke of casting genius by Mendes that has paid off in spades.

Another member of the crew that can’t be praised enough is Roger Deakins. The veteran cinematographer has always delivered something special in his films, but he has really excelled himself this time. The standout scene for me was the ruins of a village being lit solely by flares as they rise and fall in the air, casting eerie shadows across the set as they travel. It’s an incredible piece of lighting and something I’ve never seen done before. That scene alone begs to be seen on a big screen for the sheer scale involved.

The whole film is a masterclass in blocking and timing. Since these shots all have to be stitched together to look like a single shot everything has to be timed perfectly to make it work. The amount of thought needed for this makes my mind melt. There’s one scene with hundreds of extras charging, which would have to be reset every time if even the slightest thing went wrong.

I was watching a behind the scenes interview with Sam Mendes today where he explained one shot from the film. It involved a camera sitting on a crane while the crane moved to the ground, then the cameraman got off, followed the actor on foot, then jumped onto a jeep when the actor started running, then got off again so he could follow the actor through a narrow passageway, and then jumped onto the back of a motorcycle when the actor turns and runs back towards him. They should create a new Oscar for the sheer innovation, time and attention to detail it took to put this vision on screen.

Mendes’s war epic is a down and dirty depiction of duty and determination and puts the viewer right there in those muddy trenches with Schofield. See it on the big screen to revel fully in its scope and scale, and if you know anything about film-making your mouth will drop when you see what Mendes and Co. have achieved.

Cosmos (2019) Movie Review By Philip Henry

Cosmos Review

Directors: Elliot Weaver and Zander Weaver
Writers: Elliot Weaver and Zander Weaver
Stars: Tom England, Joshua Ford, Arjun Singh Panam, Ben Vardy

Cosmos is the debut feature by brothers Elliot and Zander Weaver and follows the story of three friends who drive out to the middle of nowhere to listen to the cosmos in their car, which is kitted out with all sorts of technology suited for the job.

As the night goes on they become more and more convinced that the signal they’ve intercepted isn’t just a glitch in their equipment or a random pulsar, but that they’ve made contact with an extra-terrestrial intelligence.

Apparently made without any budget, Cosmos is an incredible achievement. The usual things that let down no-budget productions, and believe me, I’ve seen a lot of them, are; sub-par acting, bad lighting, bad sound and unconvincing props, but Cosmos suffers from none of these failings. The acting is natural and believable, the props never once look out of place and the post production on the sound and picture make the finished movie look as professional as anything you’d see in your local multi-plex.

If there is a weak link in the production it’s probably the script. The first hour needs to be about half as long and get to the crux of the story quicker, and there’s enough superfluous chat in there to do this without losing anything vital to the story. The film could also benefit from a bit more explanation of what they’re actually doing/ trying to do out there. The technical aspects are incredibly well researched but a simple analogy or two would make the plot easier to understand for the layman who knows nothing about astronomy. The structure in general could use a bit of re-jigging. There are several heart-felt conversations which all come one after another and would probably work better if they were spaced out more and inserted earlier. The script is still better than most low-budget indie films I see, but the rookie mistakes like using the characters’ names too often in dialogue show their relative inexperience with narrative film-making. Screenwriting is something you never fully master, you just learn how to do it better with each project, and I’m sure this pair’s next script will show that.

The directing is another matter though. I have rarely seen directors at this (lack of) budget level who are so self-assured behind the camera. The composition of shots – using little more than a couple of lighting gels, a camera slider and a smoke machine – make this look extremely cinematic where so many other films in this budget range just look like home movies. The choices on close ups and dolly shots inside the claustrophobic car location show the Weaver brothers are just as adept handling the small personal scenes as they are handling the frantic race against time which leads to the film’s finale. I’ve said it many times: there are people who point the camera at the actors, and then there are directors. The Weaver Brothers are the latter and display a talent I rarely see when viewing films with budgets large or small.

The tone of the film is akin to Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, even if it does take place in a Carpool Karaoke setting most of the time. If the script had a more substantial B-plot dealing with our heroes’ personal lives, I think it would’ve connected better. Are they married? What do their partners think of this pursuit? What are they sacrificing to continue doing this and why? It still has a fantastic ending that did give me chills, thanks in no small part to the excellent and soaring score by Chris Davey which never once betrays the lack of money behind this project.

The Weaver brothers’ background in documentary film-making has served them well with this first feature film, delivering a movie that looks and sounds like most indie-film-makers can only dream of. Despite the flaws in the script it’s still a very watchable, if low-key sci-fi movie, that builds expertly to its conclusion. With the right producer and some actual cash behind their next project, I think these brothers could do great things for the UK film industry.

Someone give them a proper budget and wait to be amazed.