Friday, October 16, 2015

Crimson Peak

Beware of Crimson Peak. I would say that is the understatement of the day. The film is a gore filled, Gothic/Victorian romance, dripping with blood and fueled by ghosts. Crimson Peak is the new film by Guillermo Del Toro starring Mia Wasikowska as Edith Cushing, Jessica Chastain as Lucille Sharpe, Tom Hiddleston as Thomas Sharpe, and Charlie Hunnam as Dr. Alan McMichael. The film starts in the early 1900's in New York City and then hops over to Cumberland, England. Edith is a young girl, who has been able to see ghosts since she was 10 years old. These are by no means Casper the friendly ghost. These are horrible, tortured souls that come in all their terror to try and warn Edith about the future.

The ghosts are not the main focus of the film, they are merely a tool of story telling. To quote Edith in the film, "It's not a ghost story, it's a story with ghosts in  it." Crimson Peak is about the people and how dangerous we are without the help of the dead.

I'm debating back and forth whether to go spoiler free on this post. How about this....I won't give any major plot points away but I will give little details of what I liked. Seems fair...a review with a small dash of spoilers.

My favorite part of the movie was the cinematography and costuming. Del Toro did a sensational job of building the beautiful and yet terrifying house that we come to call Crimson Peak. It's massive, dark, and filled with deep blues, rustic greens and raven black. The manner was built on red clay that comes up from the ground. The clay leaves red markings in the snow and that's why the town calls it Crimson Peak. The Crimson of the clay stands out so vividly red that you have to let your eyes adjust.

If this movie does not get an Academy Award nomination for Best Costuming, I'm going to be mad! Mia's stunning blonde hair is like a mane flowing in the wind. Her yellow and white outfits contrast the darkness of the house. The details on the clothing are so stunning. Edith wears an amazing belt that is two hands holding. It seems so out of place but also exactly where it should be. During the New York scenes, Del Toro does a brilliant job with costuming with Lucile and Thomas. He places them in black or dark crimson. All of the other characters are in browns and whites. It portrays how much Lucile and Thomas do not belong to that culture or city. Little details are what makes this film brilliant.

One must also be impressed with the casting. Jessica Chastain is a chameleon in every film I have seen her in. She becomes the character and you forget that it's Jessica under all the make up and sensational acting. She brilliant, scary, mysterious, terrifying and tragic as Lucille. She's like a snake moving slowly around you. You are never sure what Lucile will do next.

Tom Hiddleston, the breaker and thief of hearts. This whole movie you are left trying to figure out who he is. Is he good? Is he bad? Is he a pawn or is he the chess player? Tom's acting is haunting as always. He can talk you into doing anything. His character is so charming and full of secrets. Is the secret filled with rage, shame or fear? I found myself lost in his character and wanting to know more. Tom has the ability to capture an audience with a single glance. The man can break you heart and seduce you with one look. Be careful Tom, with great power comes great responsibility.

Mia Wasikowska is so talented for such a young girl. She keeps you on the edge of your seat. You are terrified for her and just want her to find the truth of all the secrets in the film. She's stunning and wonderful as always. And then there's Charlie Freaking Hunnam. He plays a Doctor that has a very clear crush on Edith. He's charming and admires her for being an outspoken woman. He is one of the first to not trust the Sharpe family and is willing to dig a little deeper. Charlie really isn't in the film enough but he does very well in the scenes he is in.

Is Crimson Peak a scary movie? Yes and No. I say yes because I screamed and jumped a few times. The main focus of the movie is not to scare but to thrill and intrigue you. It's filled with more gore than terror. This movie is rated R for a reason....Blood Blood Blood. The ghosts are creepy and grotesque by horror movie standards. What got me was all the blood. Let me put it this way, I saw the movie an hour ago and I still have a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. That's impressive to say the least.

Over all I really liked the movie. It was twisted and left me wanting to know more. I wanted to know more about the manner called Crimson Peak. I wanted to know more about the Sharpe family and I wanted to know more about Edith's ability to see the dead. I was impressed by the film and the acting. To be fair, Guillermo del Toro has never let me down. Brilliant piece of film making.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Man Down

Going to the Venice Film Festival was always a dream of mine. I never, in a million years, would have thought I could go. I was lucky enough to not only go but get tickets for a viewing of the Dito Montiel film Man Down. There will be some major spoilers below.

Man Down stars Shia LaBeouf as Gabriel, Kate Mara as his wife Natalie, Jai Courtney (Swoon) as Devin, and Gary Oldman as Captain Peyton. The movie takes place in several different time periods. The beginning starts off with Gabriel and Devin roaming the streets trying to find Gabriel's wife and son. It seems to be some type of post-apocalyptic United States. We don't know what happened, we just know that something went very wrong. The special effects and cinematography are so lovely and haunting at the same time. Dito uses a lovely gray effect that makes everything seem foggy and in a haze. It reflects the confusion in the characters minds very well.

Another section of the movie focuses on typical day to day life for Gabriel before everything changed. We see Gabriel and Natalie raising their son. We see the day to day life of helping your kids deal with bullies, to wives worrying about their husbands. It's so fantastically human.

Gabriel and Devin go off to train and then off to war. We see them fighting for their lives in the dessert. Then it flashes to an office with Gary Oldman playing Captain Peyton. He is talking to Gabriel about the events during his last tour. We find out that Captain Peyton is there to help Gabriel talk through everything. SPOILERS.......
We find out that Devin was shot in an attack and Gabriel feels responsible because he didn't check the room. He is also traumatized because it was a mother and son who shot Devin and then Gabriel shot them. We see that Captain Peyton is trying to help but he really only offers medication and slight counseling for assistance.

Flash back to Gabriel heading home and finding out that Devin and Natalie had an affair while Gabriel is over seas. We slowly see Gabriel start to mentally fall apart......

We see that the post-apocalyptic world is all made up in Gabriel's mind. Devin has been dead for months, he was killed from the gun shot wound. Gabriel is living is a fantasy world within our own real world. He tries to kidnap his son and doesn't realize that his wife is his wife. He thinks she is the woman he shot.

The movie ends in a blaze of glory and gun fire. It's beautiful, tragic and very real.

The stand out performances in the film are Jai Courtney and Gary Oldman. Jai plays this character that give everything for his friend. We see that he loves Gabriel's family like they were blood. He brilliant and intense. He scared me in the best possible way an actor can. I never knew what he would do next.

Gary Oldman is brilliant all the time and this film was no acceptation. He had a smaller role in this film but it was so important. He had to play a character that was both caring but harsh and blunt. Peyton was there to find the truth. He was a one man good cop/ bad cop show. Gary is an actor who can act with his eyes. His eyes can tell you more of the emotion of his character than words can. He displayed every emotion possible but in a very calculated manner. I was impressed with his acting ability.

Now don't get me wrong, Shia and Kate were great. Kate wasn't given a ton to work with but she did well in her moments. Shia plays Shia well. It was a character we have seen before up until the end. His performance at the end of the film really hits the emotion hard. It was refreshing to see him dig a little deeper than we have seen in his mainstream performances.

I wouldn't call the movie a military bashing movie. I would say that it is trying to bring attention to a subject that gets swept under the rug a lot. Is the military taking care of those that fight for them before and after they are in the force? I have my opinions on that and I'm sure you do as well. I'm not here to push my opinions but I am urging you to think and act. This movie is a call to arms in America. Keep in mind, I saw this film in Venice with an Italian audience.

As the lights went up, people cheered. They clapped and I saw grown men weep. I was lucky enough to watch the film with Dito and Shia in the room. Dito was very cool and gave me a big hug. Nice guy. I thanked him for making a movie that ripped my American heart out and made me think.

If you have an opportunity to watch this film, I suggest you try it. You might love it, you might hate it. It's not a film for everyone. It will evoke strong emotions in you.

Man Up

As some of my readers may know, I'm a big fan of all things British. I adore British Films, television shows, actors and everything in between. Whenever I have an opportunity to see a very British film, I get excited. I had the opportunity to see the film Man Up. The film stars Simon Pegg as Jack and Lake Bell as Nancy.

The film follows Nancy, a 34 year old journalist who is just trying to survive being single in London. She has all of her family and friends pushing her to date and take chances again. She is very afraid to put herself out there. When she does, it ends up hilariously awkward.

Nancy meets a girl named Jessica on the train. Jessica tells the very harsh Nancy that she needs to read a self help book called Six Billion People and you. Jessica is meeting a blind date at Waterloo Station and they will recognize each other because they will have the same book.

Nancy falls asleep and wakes up to Jessica's book left in front of her. Nancy takes it upon herself to return the book but instead gets mistake for Jessica by the blind date, Jack.

Anyone who has seen a Simon Pegg film knows that he can be very charming. In the first 60 seconds they meet Nancy decides she is going to pretend to be Jessica and steal her date because Jack seems wonderful.

The rest of the film is filled with hilarious moments of misunderstanding and witty back and forth with Nancy and Jack. Think of all the crazy and good things that happen on a first date, this movie has them. We run into ex's and old friends from high school. We get our butts kicked bowling and racing around town. We laugh, we cry, and we swoon.

The movie was filmed in London and has beautiful scenic cinematography. I adore the city of London. This movie made me miss fish and chips and cold walks over the Thames.

The film is brilliant at comedic timing. It's hilarious and awkward but has a bunch of heart. Lake Bell is the stand out as Nancy. She is so quick witted but also very vulnerable. As a single girl. I found myself relating to Nancy. Dating is hard and scary. What would I do I a wonderful man thought I was his date. Who Knows? Well....I know that I would have gone for it if he was as charming as Simon Pegg. Plus he's an adorable nerdy British ginger, what's not to love?