I wish I would have had the time to see the Jordan Peele horror film in the theatre, but I just didn't. I'm a big fan of good horror in the sub $10M range, and Get Out certainly fits that bill. It was shot for only $4.5M, and grossed $254M worldwide. We've seen a few of these super-successful lower-budget horror films as of late, and I say keep them coming.
There are many things I love about this film, and one pretty major thing I didn't like at all. The script is terrific. It's creepy throughout. It's well written to be done on a very modest budget, with limited locations and characters. It gives the actors moments to shine. And they do, as the film is well cast. Like any great horror film, it starts slow and innocent, and ends up in a satisfying blood bath. Jordan Peele wrote a fantastic story with engaging characters.
But, the direction is pretty mediocre. Peele does what I absolutely abhor: he shoots everything too close. This makes the film look and feel cheap, when it need not be. The actors rarely have enough room to take full advantage of setting as the camera is stuck on MCU's and CU's far too often. Some of blocking and editing is clunky, especially in key moments in the third act. For a script that wasn't this good, I wouldn't have minded it so much. But this script deserved better.
I still rate this film highly, and strongly recommend it. It's a very good horror film. But it would have worked stronger had it been crafted better. This film screams 'first-time director.' And there's the rub: you have to learn by doing, and I'm sure that Jordan Peele will get much better at directing in time.
I hope the hell that he continues to do horror. Peele will probably move on to bigger budget dramatic stuff, which is fine, but it sure would be nice if he kept the horror films coming as well. I want to see where he can go from here.
If you haven't seen it yet, watch Get Out, but taper your expectations. The 99% RT score is a bit too high. That being said, it's well worth a watch, because it does have a frightening vibe throughout, and in the horror genre, that's what counts.
It's been thirty years since I read the Agatha Christie classic. I was not a big fan of the 1974 film, but I sure did get excited when I heard that Kenneth Branagh was taking a shot at a remake, using 65mm cameras, no less.
The reviews were very mixed, so I went in with tempered expectations. Having loved the novel, and still remembering who committed the murder, clear as day, I was anxious to see this film, and to see not only how Branagh tackled the story as a director, but to see him as Hercule Poirot, one of the most loved protagonists in all of literature.
The film is much better than the reviews. The cast is stellar, although I do agree with some critics that the players don't seem to have the number of shining moments that they could have had. The pacing is actually terrific, with ample time given to the setup, and a pretty tight amount given to the mystery. The conclusion is handled well, with a wonderful teaser snuck in at the end. The film doesn't drag.
Branagh does a commendable job as Hercule Poroit, the perfection-driven detective that is pained by his own rigid personality which allows him to be such a world-class investigator.
There were some issues I had with direction, however. Since the bulk of the story happens within the tight confines of a train car, Branagh overcompensates with the exterior shots, which are far too grand, usually with video-game-like crane camera movements, and with far too much CG. Mixed in with an awfully bland color grading, the film doesn't feel as serious as it should.
Yet, I really enjoyed it. I don't know at what point in the story I would have figured it out. Maybe not until the final reveal. Though like any Agatha Christie mystery, the clues are numerous, and after the end, you certainly feel like a dummy if you didn't figure it out. The mystery unfolds in such a satisfying fashion.
I recommend seeing Murder On The Orient Express. It's solid. I don't think hardcore Agatha Christie fans will ever be fully satisfied with any film adaptation, but this one is definitely worth the watch. With a modest $55M budget and a solid opening weekend, hopefully, we haven't seen the end of Branagh as the amazing Hercule Poirot.
American Vandal is yet another piece of quality original programming on Netflix. It spoofs such real-crime docs such as Serial, Making of a Murderer, & The Keepers. After watching the trailer, the immediate thought was, how can this concept hold up over an 8-episode season? Well, fortunately, it does, and in a pretty creative way.
The story opens up with Senior misfit Jimmy Tatro being accused of vandalizing several cars in the faculty parking lot by spray painting dicks on them. A couple of student documentarians, thinking Tatro to be innocent, decide to research the crime, and hence the hashtag: #whodrewthedicks?
This is not a one-joke story. What unfolds is a fascinating mystery (you really start trying to put the pieces together), which is filled with humor, not much of it laugh-out-loud, but certainly in moments. Weaved into that mystery, however, is the true genius: American Vandal isn't primarily about spoofing crime docs. It's true purpose, which it does brilliantly, is to show us what modern social-media-driven high school life is all about. It's fascinating.
This is a show about modern high school culture. You get to see how students of today have to function, and it's absolutely intriguing. Putting together clues is putting together people's Instagram posts in a timeline, or seeing what they posted on Youtube or Facebook at a particular moment. You see how social media drives almost every aspect of their life. But you relate to your own high school experience, but wonder what it would be like if it happened today.
I recommend American Vandal, not only for its humor, of which there is plenty, but even more-so for it's peek into what students have to go through today. Along the way, you'll be trying to figure out the crime, and if you're observant, and pick up on all the clues, you'll have a great idea of who did it, relatively early on. I did not.
I hope there's a Season 2 of American Vandal. It's yet another binge-worthy Netflix show.