Tag Archives: Willem Dafoe.

What Happened To Monday (2017) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

WHAT HAPPENED TO MONDAY

Director: Tommy Wirkola
Writers: Max Botkin, Kerry Williamson
Stars: Noomi Rapace, Glenn Close, Willem Dafoe

Plot:  In a world where families are limited to one child due to overpopulation, a set of identical septuplets must avoid being put to a long sleep by the government and dangerous infighting while investigating the disappearance of one of their own.

Running Time: 123 Minutes
IMDB Score: 6.9
Why I watched it: The trailer looked decent and the cast was good.

Random Thoughts: Lets get the title out of the way, Netflix Canada has it has 7 Sisters and what I watched the title card said 7 Sisters but you go to IMDB type in 7 Sisters and What Happened To Monday came up.

From first glance this was not only a gimmick movie but a showcase for Noomi Rapace, she plays 7 different characters, with that said when I saw the trailer the first thing that hit me was Orphan Black, one actresses many different roles, now on paper it sounds like a cool idea but really that has to be very hard and daunting and as an actor you are relying on a script to give you seven good to decent characters to play.

What I liked: The set is cool, I love Sci-Fi movies, I love when they show us a different future.  The film for me was a cross between Logan’s Run and Solvent Green, not a bad thing.  The best part to me was the set up, Willem Dafoe with these 7 sisters and trying to come up with something to keep them all together you had in these are his grand daughters and his daughter died giving birth and you have a lot of stakes set up early and Dafoe gives a good performance and he’s easily the best character.

Even though I don’t think it worked that well I have to give credit to Rapace cause 7 characters is very hard to play in one film and when the majority of the scenes is just those 7 characters man that’s almost impossible, she’s game here and she does give it her all she tries to make each one different.

What I didn’t like: First off let’s get something straight setting up a premise is different than world building and this to me is the biggest flaw of 7 Sisters, the world they live in doesn’t make much sense and it’s not shown to us that well, we get title cards and we get talking heads explaining the world but we don’t get a sense of it, it’s not real it’s set up that is a plot device that’s all.  The best Science Fiction creates new worlds and sets their rules up.

The film technically has two major problems with their gimmick the 7 Sisters aren’t fleshed out at all, honestly i didn’t know who was who, each sister got one characteristic and the film is very poorly directed the close ups and the way the director Tommy Wirkola shot it just takes us out of the film and at times it’s laughable.  The script is the real weakness here and to be blunt about it the script is really really bad, the Dafoe character is just gone after the beginning, we never see him with the grown up sisters, we get no explanation of what happened to him.  The film’s set up and plot is bonkers, this world is how big?  We only see a very small section and what they do with the kids even before the big reveal is laughable.  That’s the other thing this movie really crosses into parody at some points the Glenn Close character is a cartoon and she might be given one of the worse performances of her career, don’t get me wrong Close is a legend and has done great work again the blame is the script and direction.

The thing that I found the most disappointing is the whole set up of one actor playing 7 roles, look at some great movies were the actors play multiple  roles, I look at ‪Dead Ringers‬ with Jeremy Irons playing twins, it was shot so well and when you saw one of them you knew who they were, now if seven was too much make it 4 make it 3 and give Rapace a chance, when the film focuses on one or two it’s a better film.

As you can tell I didn’t like the film and to pile on the film is way too long, it’s over 2 hours and so much is unexplored or explained, they waste time here, the film drags and is really hard to get through.

Final Thoughts: The idea was interesting and you had three very good actors there’s no reason why this was such a mess.

Rating: ‪3/10‬

Advertisements

Murder on the Orient Express (2017) Movie Review by John Walsh

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writers: Michael Green (screenplay by), Agatha Christie (based upon the novel by)
Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe

I’ve been itching at the bit to watch Murder on the Orient Express since it’s release a few weeks ago and I’ve finally gotten round to seeing it. I enjoyed this Kenneth Branagh murder mystery for the majority of the time, but it’s not perfect by any means which I will delve into below.

The film opens in the historic city of Jerusalem with the eminent detective Hercule Poirot already immersing himself in a case. A theft has been committed with multiple figures, including a Rabbi, in the frame. This is really an early introduction to the Belgian sleuth, showcasing his reasoning and skills perfectly. He’s able to solve the crime with little difficulty.

This opening is visually arresting, capturing the bustling nature of the city with lovely cinematography and period costumes. This trend continues through the quick jump to Istanbul and onto the opulent train itself. I’ve since discovered that the introduction was a Michael Green addition which didn’t occur in the Christie novel. I enjoyed it.

There’s an early interaction between Mary Debenham (Daisy Ridley) and Poirot in Istanbul before a convenient brush with an old acquaintance allows him passage on the ill fated journey. The dodgy businessman Ratchett (Johnny Depp) seems to foresee his sticky end (spoiler alert) on the horizon when he asks Hercule to be his personal bodyguard for the duration of the journey over some tea. The request is politely refused. Admirably, he is not a man motivated by money or delicious looking cake.

Hercule is cutting a relaxed figure, settling into his posh quarters, it’s easy to forget this is supposed to be a holiday, when an avalanche derails and blocks the path of the train, leaving it perched precariously on a bridge. It seems Mr. Ratchett’s concerns were  justified too because he meets his maker around this point too. The suspicious death, of course, kicks of the whodunnit plot in earnest.

Shortly after the gruesome discovery, which is shielded from the audience, Poirot begins to individually interview the passengers, making it clear they’re all suspects, as he tries to solve the mystery behind the seemingly welcome death of the sleekit Ratchett. He even believes he’s cracked it during a couple of false eureka moments, giving chase to the would be perpetrator and even being shot at, only to be thwarted and left befuddled by the confusing, contradictory accounts from the dozen or so passengers.

I’ve mentioned before on our podcasts that I’m not familiar with the original Agatha Christie novel or any of her work in general. It seems I’m very much in the majority with that one. Nor have I watched the original 1974 movie or the myriad of different tv shows based on this story and I think this proved to be a big factor in my enjoyment of this film. I went in unaware of the ending and without the burden of making comparisons.

Now, I touched upon the visuals in the introduction briefly, but this film in its entirety is incredibly beautiful to my eyes. It was filmed for the most part inside a London studio, on a recreated train carriage, with the scenic CG shots, shot in New Zealand, projected onto the background using some nifty technology and whilst it wasn’t totally convincing at all times, it was more than adequate.

Branagh returned to 65mm film for this release, he of course used it in Hamlet, and he really does manage to capture all the little nuanced, nervous glances on faces, and also utilises every inch of space in the carriage well, intelligently shoot through windows and also mirrors to tell a story with the camera that perfectly added to the often heavy dialogue in scenes. I’ve enjoyed this method before, most notably in the corner flat window scenes in Trainspotting 2.

Now for a few of my gripes. Firstly, the film often moves away from the familiar train setting, which wasn’t particularly welcome for me, as it detracted from and ruined the claustrophobic tension that should be quite unique to this story. Secondly, the decision to line the passengers up outside near the end was perplexing. Finally, my biggest gripe with this film was the way it handled the talented cast they manage to assemble. There was an array of great actors and actresses packed into one train carriage and I was concerned about this prior to seeing it. It’s almost impossible to do them all justice in slightly more than two hours.

This proved to be the case because barring Depp (and he died early on), Michelle Pfeiffer and Branagh himself the rest are sadly criminally underused. Daisy Ridley, Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Penélope Cruz and Judi Dench’s characters were largely superfluous to the story. I’m maybe being slightly harsh on Gad, Odom Jnr and Ridley. They displayed some flashes here and there, but the majority were fairly forgettable in the main.

I thought Branagh was excellent as Poirot however. I really don’t understand the criticism of his accent, performance or the strange obsession with his magnificent facial hair. The three were fine. Admittedly, I’m not familiar with the novel interpretation as I previously mentioned, but he was emotionally invested, happy to get stuck in physically and fairly convincing as the logically brilliant, Belgian detective. Pfeiffer was probably my standout performer. There was palpable emotional turmoil within her complicated character, certainly towards the end where she really came to the fore.

There’s an expected twist at the end involving the manner of the murder and who’s ultimately responsible which I won’t reveal, because if you haven’t seen the film yet or any of the other adaptations, then it would completely spoil the mystery and story. Needless to say, it explained the contradictions Poirot ran into throughout and tied up the story nicely. It posed an interesting question thematically to the detective and viewer alike too about the nature of justice or whether two wrongs really do make a right.

Ultimately, I did enjoy the film. It was a fairly slow paced affair, annoyingly so at times admittedly, but a film like this shouldn’t be zipping along at a million miles per hour. It won’t be for everyone, people that read the novel or watched the 1974 film seem to dislike this version. It certainly does demand patience and it’s often dialogue heavy which will split opinion. I’m a Tarantino fan, the latter is one of his trademarks and I like a good mystery, so neither of these were an issue for me.

I recommend giving it a watch if the mystery genre is your thing or if you aren’t aware of the intricacies of the story. It’s a decent enough film, very much a dying breed that doesn’t seem to come along often these days.

Rating: 3.5/5.

John Wick (2014) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

JOHN WICK

Directors: Chad Stahelski,  David Leitch (uncredited)
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, and Willem Dafoe.

Ex-hitman John Wick comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

The story follows Wick as the assassin returning to his old life by circumstances out of his control. John Wick was an exciting movie portraying him as a one man army who will stop at nothing until he seeks vengeance on those who have wronged him.

Keanu Reeves, despite having an impressive career, might not be the most dynamic actor. However, with great directing by Chad Stahelski and brilliant writing from Derek Kolstad, Reeves performs amazingly.

This is one of Reeves’ best roles since The Matrix as Mr ’The One’ Neo Anderson. He brings an air of confidence along with quiet yet forceful violence. Reeves displays good emotion and conviction as the character, and he also moves with certainty like a hitman would. Although it is predominantly action sequences, John Wick is also equipped with some emotional baggage. (Dog lovers will know what I mean by this)

The story is very straightforward and in the mould of films like The Equaliser or Taken. The main character is antagonised and has to make everything okay again. It’s that simple, but the trick is on the execution of the story. John Wick works well for a few reasons with the first being that this character is down Reeves street. There is a sadness Keanu Reeves brings to the film that works perfectly as you can’t help but cheer each time one of the bad guys is taken out. Viewers will also remember his devotion to his wife, which Reeves was able to project very well without words. He was sincerely in those touching scenes.

Michael Nyqvist is also excellent as Viggo Tarasov the Russian mobster and he too makes you believe his character. Willem Dafoe although used sparingly is also brilliant in his supporting role as Marcus, who is there for Wick as support after his wife passes.

One of the best things in this movie is the flair, fluidity and the clear focus and precision of the visuals (thanks to cinematographer Jonathan Sela) that are stunning and leave you gasping for more action. More ofter than not other movies employ a shaky camera or uncoordinated editing that ignore even the slightest of continuity that the eagle eyes out there notice. Credit to the movies editor Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir for the way the movie just flows particularly in those action sequences

Another important factor in what makes this movie so slick other than the visual and the editing is the way the sequences are choreographed. Keanu Reeves is no stranger to well executed action scenes in movies like Speed and The Matrix (remember he was part of the big thing back in 1999…..bullet time) Here the action is almost video game’esque but believable that reminded me of the scene in Kick-Ass with Hit Girl wearing night vision google and the execution is similar.

With the sequel being released in a few weeks time we wait with anticipation whether or not John Wick II will stand up against the original or perhaps surpass it. The movie has been out for 3 years now and if you haven’t seen it I recommend you do. Keanu Reeves is back with a bang.