Tag Archives: Netflix

The Cloverfield Paradox (Julius Onah, 2018)

Nothing dates reviews quite like discussing the marketing surrounding a film, but when it comes to the Cloverfield franchise, the pre-release hoopla inevitably becomes part of the conversation regarding the final product.

During Super Bowl 2018, an ad revealing the title and first footage of The Cloverfield Paradox ran, announcing that the film would be available on Netflix once the game ended. This reveal followed rumours that the long-delayed movie, previously titled God Particle, would be skipping a cinema run from the franchise’s usual distributor, Paramount.

It’s quite the mic drop when it comes to movie marketing. Unfortunately, and excluding the encouraging choice to have a woman of colour (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) lead an effects-heavy sci-fi, that stunt may be the only positive part of this film’s legacy…

Full review for SciFiNow

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The Open House (Matt Angel/Suzanne Coote, 2018)

Horror movies are popular for first time filmmakers for many reasons. One is that the genre is well suited to low budgets; in many of the best horrors, a little goes a long way. Another reason may be that horror, particularly via sub-genres like the slasher or home invasion thriller, is more prone to template-based filmmaking than most other genres. If you’re just looking to show that you can write and direct something, anything, it’s ostensibly easier to produce a horror movie that hits expected genre beats than it is to, say, write a comedy that actually makes people laugh.

Bringing to the screen a horror movie that simply resembles a horror movie seems to have been the sole mission statement behind The Open House, the feature debut of directors Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote. It’s a Netflix Original without an ounce of originality…

Full review for VODzilla.co

‘Lu Over the Wall’ director Masaaki Yuasa on mermaids, vampires, Netflix, ‘Adventure Time’

Masaaki Yuasa’s background in animation goes back decades, but he’s probably best known to international audiences for his debut feature as a director, 2004’s Mind Game: a psychedelic trip of a movie that incorporates life, death, sex and yakuza feuds into one mind-bending package. Yuasa has mostly directed TV series, shorts or contributions to anthology movies since then, but 2017 has seen the long-awaited release of two new feature films from the man: comedy The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl and fantasy Lu Over The Wall.

Yuasa’s film and TV output is characterised by deceptively simple animation that’s prone to expressive outbursts of manic energy. Lu Over The Wall is no exception, though here it’s filtered into material that’s a little more family-friendly than some of his prior work. The story focuses on Kai, a gloomy middle school student in a small seaside town where interests outside of a future in the local businesses are largely discouraged. He reluctantly joins a band with two fellow classmates and they practice in secret. Halfway through the first practice, Kai finds they already have a fan: a music-loving mermaid named Lu who wants to sing and dance with them…

Full interview for SciFiNow

Bong Joon-ho on ‘Okja’ & Netflix

“Someone said it’s very difficult to define, this movie. For me, that is the biggest praise.” South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho is speaking of his latest project, but such a query of genre and tonal classification could easily be applied to most of his prior features as a director – from debut Barking Dogs Never Bite to Memories of MurderThe HostMother and Snowpiercer. With pretty much all of them, you think you know what you’re going to get based on a glance at the plot synopsis, only for a considerably different beast to emerge during viewing; sometimes multiple different beasts…

Full interview for The Skinny

A Snapshot of American Independent Cinema in 2017

Returning for its fifth instalment (and second in a row at the lavish Picturehouse Central), the team behind this year’s Sundance London gave British audiences a flavour of the American indie scene of 2017. As well as bringing together UK, European or international premieres of various buzzy titles that made their initial bow at the main Sundance Film Festival back in January, this year also offered big screen revivals of some past Sundance premieres of note (Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies and Videotape among them) and the first instance of a surprise film (Patti Cake$, out on general release this autumn), as well as the usual shorts programme and filmmaker talks.

This year’s main lineup was a mixed bag quality-wise, and it certainly didn’t look great that only one of the 14 premiering features (Marianna Palka’s Bitch) was directed by a woman – last year had three, including closing film Tallulah. That said, the strongest titles were very strong, and there was definitely variety to the stories and filmmaking styles on display. The Skinny caught the vast majority of this year’s feature lineup, so here’s an unranked top five of some of the most notable or distinctive films on offer, some of which will be arriving in UK cinemas or on services like Netflix and Amazon Prime soon…

Full feature for The Skinny

Tramps (Adam Leon, 2016)

Back in 2012, American director Adam Leon made his feature debut with Gimme the Loot, which concerned two graffiti artists looking to tag an iconic landmark as revenge against a rival gang, but needing to raise $500 prior to pulling off their grand scheme. A shaggy two-hander caper that was short and sweet, Gimme the Loot was a film that thrived on the chemistry of its two young leads and an evocation of a side of New York City rarely given much attention in contemporary cinema. It recalled much of the spirit of early Richard Linklater and lighter Jean-Luc Godard fare, as well as the humanist, music-heavy films of the late Jonathan Demme, the latter of whom lent the US release of Gimme the Loot a “Jonathan Demme Presents” credit to help it out.

A few years on, Leon is back with Tramps, under the Netflix Originals banner, which concerns a very different pair of young protagonists, but is a film of a similar mould – a romp through upstate and city-based New York that’s thin on narrative, but high on energy. The caper plot this time around involves a briefcase swap deal that goes wrong, the full specifics of which are so vague as to be inconsequential; Tramps is more about the mischief of the matter than the danger. One’s mileage may vary as to how important that lack of, uh, importance is, but details such as what’s actually in the briefcase, or where it’s from, are besides the point for the tone Leon (who co-wrote the film) is going for…

Full review for VODzilla.co

The Discovery (Charlie McDowell, 2017)

Off the back of his generally well-received feature debut, 2014’s The One I Love, writer-director Charlie McDowell obtained full support from Netflix for his follow-up film. The Discovery (co-written with Justin Lader) is similarly concerned with sci-fi flirtations for a high-concept premise, although the tonal register is much less preppy than The One I Love, which was infused with a comedic streak alongside its darker explorations. The Discovery is dour for almost all of its running time, and the disappointing thing to, er, discover by its end is that it’s not really worth trudging through…

Full review for VODzilla.co