Betty Gilpin’s smart and badass character Crystal is my favourite thing about director Craig Zobel’s The Hunt; the most controversial near release of 2019.
Also starring Hilary Swank, Justin Hartley and Emma Roberts; Zobel’s story centres around twelve strangers who get kidnapped for the specific purpose of being hunted.
The Hunt‘s original 2019 release date was cancelled because following the launch of the trailer, America was unfortunately having to deal with another mass shooting. Additional complaints also came to light about the movie’s presumed controversial politics, concerning the relationship between the left and right.
I remember the filmmakers were happy to delay the movie’s release. And having now watched it, I can see why they insisted that The Hunt isn’t as problematic, in terms of premise and politics as many were assuming. Any talk of politics in the movie is mainly amusing. The real fun starts as we start learning more and more about Gilpin’s Crystal.
The Hunt isn’t the kind of movie to get top marks for story or all-round great acting where one or two earlier characters is concerned. But that doesn’t mean I won’t watch it again. For me, there’s just had too much fun to be had with Crystal.
Shirley is a new biography / thriller about renowned horror writer Shirley Jackson.
Starring Elisabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg and Logan Lerman, the story centres around the source of inspiration for Jackson’s next book; a young couple that Jackson and her husband invite into their home.
Directed by Josephine Decker; additional key cast includes Odessa Young and Steve Vinovich.
I’m watching because it’s Moss, Lerman, plus it’s a biography so I’m definitely expecting the truth to be stranger than fiction.
Ryan Spahn, Molly Fahey, Adelind Horan, Emily Decker, Ava Langford, Edward O’Blenis and Thomas Racek also star.
The Invisible Man is a pleasant surprise of a film. From a clever story with twists and turns you don’t quite see coming to Elisabeth Moss’s impressive emotionally and physically demanding performance. Director Leigh Whannell does a good job of telling a thrilling and equally terrifying story about a woman who’s being hunted by her very abusive ex who also happens to be invisible.
Considering the nature of this story which is based on H.G. Well’s novel of the same name, let’s just say that The Invisible Man isn’t partly categorised as a horror film by accident. The horror part is very real, especially in the psychological sense.It’s also incredibly terrifying for women especially, but generally because very abusive partners exist.
Then there’s the idea that invisibility technology could also exist and end up in the hands of the wrong kind people. I’m no technology expert of course, but Whannell’s film somehow makes such technology or something like it seem far closer to what is possible than I’d like to admit.
Lastly, for those who aren’t the biggest fans of scary movies, will The Invisible Man give the average person nightmares? Probably not. But just know that it isn’t exactly comfortable viewing either because no horror / mystey / sci-fi that’s intent on terrifying us is.
Overall and more than anything, Whannell’s movie is thrilling, well, paced, cleverly shot and very likely surprising in a good way.
I don’t remember the last time I sat down to watch a movie and thought to myself ‘Yep. This definitely wasn’t made for me’, but Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, 2019’s Quentin Tarantino film that landed the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Brad Pitt is one such film.
As a long time fan of Leonardo DiCaprio, Pitt and Tarantino, I knew, having seen the trailer months prior that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood would be technically good, but also different from Tarantino’s previous films.
What I didn’t know is that as much as I appreciate Pitt and DiCaprio’s acting, the pace of this new movie would prove quite the challenge at times. I actually had to reach for my phone (then put it back quickly because I must focus) once or twice as the film played. All in search of something that worked a little harder to keep my impatient brain engaged and entertained. I’m quite sure that the pace of all that happened made sense for the look, feel, and period of this movie. I simply wish that I could have forgotten that my phone existed during the viewing process.
Thankfully things did become more interesting once we hit the one hour, fifteen minute point. Besides the aforementioned pacing plus the one or two tension-filled moments that seemed to drag on for a little longer than necessary, all else was well with Tarantino’s movie. A story about a specific period in Hollywood (1969) where a TV actor (DiCaprio) and his stunt double (Pitt) go about their lives navigating their roles and place in the industry. We get to see an enviably close partnership / friendship captured in a way that gives the movie a kind of behind the scenes / documentary feel. One that shows us a glimpse into the middle aged actor experience; along with the experience of a few other Hollywood residents – unsavoury or otherwise.
In terms of great scenes, DiCaprio has some. Overall though, my favourites mostly feature Pitt’s Cliff Booth character. It makes sense since Pitt’s scenes contained a little more of what I love about Tarantino films. Including beautifully choreographed ‘badassery,’ undeniable cool, great dialogue, tension, music and so on.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is one to watch for fans of Tarantino, those curious about his creative evolution and fans of the great actors involved. Even though this one isn’t my favourite Tarantino film, there are scenes I’ll remember fondly. Especially the choreography of a specific scene involving a beautiful pit bull named Brandy.
New thriller Dangerous Lies stars Camila Mendes as Katie, a caregiver whose wealthy employer (Elliott Gould) leaves her his entire estate. A web of deception and murder soon emerges and Katie must question everything if she’s to survive.
Directed by Michael Scott; Jessie T. Usher, Jamie Chung, Cam Gigandet and Sasha Alexander are among the key cast.
I like a good thriller so my fingers are crossed that this surprises me in good ways.
Sasha Alexander, Cam Gigandet, Garfield Wilson, Nick Purcha, Briana Skye, Trevor Lerner, Stefania Indelicato and Erika McKitrick also star.
The Quarry is a crime / thriller about a drifter (Shea Whigham) who kills a traveling preacher and takes his place at a small-town church. Unfortunately for him, the local police chief (Michael Shannon) suspects foul play.
Directed by Scott Teems; Catalina Sandino Moreno, Bobby Soto and Bruno Bichirare among the key cast.
What on earth was the drifter thinking and how much research did he carry out in order to even think his plan would work? I’ll be watching to get an answer to these questions and for Michael Shannon’s performance.
Alvaro Martinez, Jimmy Gonzales, Abel Becerra, Anthony Reynolds, Rose Bianco, Julia Vera, David Jensen and Giovanni Cohea also star.
In new crime / thriller Arkansas, Liam Hemsworth and Clark Duke play two criminals who work for Frog (Vince Vaughn), a drug kingpin they’ve never met. When a deal goes horribly wrong, deadly consequences and a meeting with Frog himself suddenly seems far more likely.
Co-written / directed by Clark Duke; additional key cast includes John Malkovich, Vivica A. Fox, Michael Kenneth Williams and Brad William Henke.
The main reason for my interest is John Malkovitch. The second is because this looks like a ‘reckless fools doing crime‘ type of movie that could also be fun. The kind of fun that’s reminiscent of Lock Stock And Two Smocking Barrels (1998). We’ll see what happens next month.
Patrick Muldoon, Eden Brolin, Jacob Zachar, Jeff Chase, Barry Primus, Juston Street, Jared Bankens and Adina Galupa also star.
Arkansas Release Dates: May 5th, 2020 (US) on Apple, Amazon, On Demand Platforms, Blu-ray and DVD.
Dong-won Gang and Jung-hyun Lee are the stars of Peninsula, the sequel to director Sang-ho Yeon’s well received zombie thriller Train To Busan (2016).
Set four years after the zombie outbreak, the Korean peninsula is devastated and Jung-seok, a former soldier who escaped overseas is given a mission to go back. To his surprise he finds survivors.
Train To Busan has been on my list of movies I should probably watch for a while now. It’s just that I’m not generally drawn to zombie films . However, due in part to me not wanting to miss out and after the brilliance of the first Korean movie I ever watched (Parasite (2019), I really should make time.
It’ll probably be nice to spend a little time reminiscing about that one time in 2012 when I was there. Not Busan, but Itaewon, South Korea.