I posted three weeks ago saying I’d catch up on a bunch of old movie reviews I’ve missed over the years then I completely disappeared & didn’t feel like blogging at all. Probably because I hate to commit to anything! So instead I’ve started writing my roundup post of movies watched in June and some of the mini-reviews got too wordy again. So here’s the first of the slightly longer mini-reviews I’ll post before the full roundup next week…
Shoplifters Of The World (2021)
Directed by Stephen Kijak
Starring: Helena Howard, Ellar Coltrane, Elena Kampouris, Nick Krause, James Bloor, Thomas Lennon, Joe Manganiello
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) 1987. Denver, Co. One crazy night in the life of four friends reeling from the sudden demise of iconic British band The Smiths, while the local airwaves are hijacked at gunpoint by an impassioned Smiths fan.
I liked the idea behind this but the way they shoved The Smiths & quotes from their songs very awkwardly into this story as much as possible sadly felt too forced. Here’s a further synopsis from Wikipedia: “Set in Denver, four friends reel from the sudden break up of The Smiths, while the local radio station is held at gunpoint by a fan, forcing a disgruntled heavy metal DJ to play The Smiths all night.” Yeah, that’s a great idea and could’ve been a great movie if done right.
This is one of those movies that felt like it was made by someone who didn’t live through the ’80s so the characters felt like modern teens (or they might have been early twentysomethings) playing ’80s dress-up. BUT! That’s not the case as I did look into this & the director is slightly older than me so did definitely live through the ’80s. Not sure why the film didn’t quite work, then. Maybe he was trying to also capture a new, younger generation of fans? That won’t work – the youngsters have cancelled Morrissey! I do feel bad for the filmmaker on that as this movie may have been in the works before this latest cancellation. Not the director’s fault. He’s maybe a fan who wanted to do a fun movie based around a band he liked (I’m guessing). So that’s a shame. I can see me wanting to make a similar movie based around a band I love.
I wanted to love this movie. It’s totally my type of thing normally. More than anything I think I just didn’t buy into any of these young actors actually liking The Smiths and I never really felt like I was watching a movie set in the ’80s despite it trying really hard to look like the ’80s. Come on – We didn’t actually go around dressed like full-on Madonna or Siouxsie Sioux or Robert Smith – we’d just use bits of their style, like maybe wearing the Madonna bracelets all up our arms. As for The Smiths, I’m not some hardcore fan. I do like several songs quite a lot and love How Soon Is Now & think it’s truly fantastic but I’m closer to being the metalhead DJ in this (especially at the time – I like The Smiths now but didn’t back then). But I like The Smiths enough to have gotten enjoyment from their songs being played throughout this film. If you hate The Smiths, I can’t imagine you enjoying this film since the story & characters aren’t really strong enough. For a movie that better incorporated a band’s music into an interesting story, I far preferred Yesterday with all of The Beatles music.
And now, after my very negative-sounding review, I’ll give this an okay rating as I did still enjoy it overall. Good music & a decade I love so I can’t complain too much. Ellar Coltrane was fine (That kid from Boyhood! I still think that film was quite an achievement). And Helena Howard was also decent as the main girl & Smiths fan (although I still didn’t buy into any of these people actually liking The Smiths). She appears to have not been in much yet but I can see her having a good career. Joe Manganiello was probably the best as the heavy metal DJ but he’s really the only “known” actor in this. So, yeah, this could’ve been a better film but it was worth a watch. However, I’d still rather watch a movie actually released in the ’80s instead of a current film set then…
Here are three quickie reviews for three more movies before I post my 2017 end-of-year lists. Two are 2017 (UK release) films & I try to review all current movies by the end of the year. The other one is just one that I really really liked. Here we go…
The Fits (2015)
Directed by Anna Rose Holmer
Starring: Royalty Hightower, Alexis Neblett, Da’Sean Minor, Lauren Gibson, Makyla Burnam, Inayah Rodgers, Antonio A. B. Grant Jr.
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film tells the story of Toni (Royalty Hightower), an 11-year-old tomboy who struggles to fit into a girls’ dance troupe, which begins to suffer from an inexplicable epidemic of violent fits.
This film is a hard one to explain. It’s indie as f*^k and I’d never ever recommend it to anyone other than hardcore film fans (like you guys!). Yeah, it’s one of those festival films so it’s 2015 but was only released in the UK this year. It’s good. It’s “arty”. Royalty Hightower, who plays the “11-year-old tomboy”, is the best thing about it. From what I read, a real life dance team was found for this film and Hightower was one of them. She feels very real, probably due to the fact that she wasn’t an actor. I think, with young people in films, it’s sometimes better when they aren’t from an acting background as actors can come across as too fake.
I watched this because I was intrigued by the synopsis (and also because I was short on time & it’s only 1 hour & 12 minutes!). I read this at Wikipedia, which explains where director & writer Anna Rose Holmer got the idea for the film:
“While developing the script, Holmer was inspired by real-life stories of communities succumbing to fits of hysteria. She first became interested in historic cases of mass psychogenic illness and conversion disorder while producing Ballet 422 (2014). Examples of outbreaks of seizure-like attacks and uncontrollable spasms date back to the Middle Ages, but there are still cases of this occurring today. In 2007, a group of high school girls in Virginia suffered from “twitching arms and legs” that eventually resolved itself. Holmer’s research into this subject, specifically cases like the Dancing Plague, and the pattern of these fits emerging amongst young women inspired her to explore the nature of this subject in a coming of age dance-film.”
Bizarre. I’ve never heard of this sort of thing. Anyway, if you watch this, don’t expect a straightforward exploration of this topic. Or any exploration whatsoever. The film is quite atmospheric, which is something I enjoy but won’t be to everyone’s taste. This probably isn’t a great comparison but this film reminded me a little bit of the feeling I had while watching Picnic At Hanging Rock. Picnic is certainly the better film but I liked the mysterious tension throughout The Fits. It deserves a higher rating than I’m giving it but I have to say this is one of those movies that you’re unlikely to watch more than once and a lot of people would find it very slow & be frustrated by its lack of explanation. It’s very well made and I loved its originality, however, and I liked how “real” the characters felt. I’d be interested in seeing more films made by Anna Rose Holmer.
My Rating: 6.5/10
Before I Fall (2017)
Directed by Ry Russo-Young
Based on Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Starring: Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Logan Miller, Kian Lawley, Jennifer Beals, Diego Boneta, Elena Kampouris
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) February 12 is just another day in Sam’s charmed life, until it turns out to be her last. Stuck reliving her last day over and over, Sam untangles the mystery around her death and discovers everything she’s losing.
Teen movie based on a YA novel! Once again, I’ll admit to still enjoying teen movies & YA fiction. Us adults were teens once – we can still relate! I was actually going to read this book before the movie but gave up after having it on reserve at the library for ages. Yeah, the library! I’m a library nerd. I realized fairly recently that, like, you can read books from there for free. 😉
Anyway. This is Groundhog Day with the twist being that this pretty teenage girl has to relive the last day of her life over & over again. She tries to make changes each time to see if she can stop the cycle, which always results in her death at the end of the day. Zoey Deutch plays the main girl. She’s so adorable. She looks soooo much like her mom Lea Thompson!
I really enjoyed this movie. It certainly won’t be winning any Oscars and the plot felt far from original but I love the “Groundhog Day story” that has been done so many times (I badly wanted to see Happy Death Day this year as well but didn’t manage it). It’s always fun to see the different ways this storyline can play out. I’m not sure why this didn’t come out in cinemas in the UK like it was originally meant to as it’s better than half the shit that gets a cinema release.
I can’t give this a higher rating as I have to admit that, while it’s fun & I liked it far more than I was expecting, it still felt quite shallow. The whole point is that Deutch’s popular character starts to see what life is like for those in her high school who don’t have it as easy as she does. Her boyfriend and her circle of friends are the popular assholes that most of us despised in school. Deutch is the “nice one” of the group anyway so it feels unfair that she’s the one with this fate. The story also feels a bit too forced and the characters are extremely one-dimensional. Other than Deutch, everyone is a “popular asshole!” or “unhappy & uncool nerd!”. Teenagers are more complex than that. Still, I liked this movie. Deutch has her mother’s charm. Also, this movie has a Grimes song in it (Genesis)! I love Grimes (I wrote about her HERE). I’ve included the video for Genesis at the end of this post.
My Rating: 6.5/10
The Frame (2014)
Directed & Written & Music by Jamin Winans
Starring: David Carranza, Tiffany Mualem, Cal Bartlett, Christopher Soren Kelly, Anthony Nuccio
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) Two strangers find their lives colliding in an impossible way. Alex is a methodical cargo thief working for a dangerous cartel. Sam is a determined paramedic trying to save the world while running from her past.
I loved this movie. One of my favorite blogs here is mossfilm because he’s introduced me to a lot of great obscure sci-fi movies that I otherwise wouldn’t have heard of. The Frame is one of these films. I’m not going to say a lot about it as his review is PERFECT (you can read it HERE). This is my favorite genre and I love when we get a film like The Frame, which feels truly fresh & original. It’s a bit arty smarty-pants but I loved the story and the fantastic visuals.
I don’t know how to discuss this one without giving too much away. The mossfilm review does say a bit about the plot if you’re interested. I think, if you love this genre and like to see a story which will surprise you & keep you guessing, you may be best going into this one knowing as little as possible. I’ll say that it tackles some interesting themes (like faith & fate) and I think it’s one from which different viewers will come away with different questions and feelings about it. For me, I saw it as a very unique love story and I thought the two main characters were fantastic (Alex the cargo thief played by David Carranza and Sam the paramedic played by Tiffany Mualem). Others will see it as something far deeper than the simple love story at its core (and it is) but, more than anything, the story itself is damn good. I watch a lot of movies so I get bored seeing the same predictable stories over & over again. I want more stuff like The Frame. I’ll never forget watching it, whereas I forget half the mainstream movies that I watch a year or so after seeing them.
I so want to talk more about this movie but I’m trying to avoid spoilers! Can someone else please watch it so we can discuss it?? 😉 The Frame is currently available on Amazon Prime Video in the UK & I highly recommend checking it out before it disappears since it’s an obscure one that could later be hard to find. Here’s a spoiler-free way of describing it: The Frame is like a really good long episode of Black Mirror. But more arty. And what I’ve seen of Black Mirror so far is great. Watch The Frame.
My Rating: 8/10
There are a couple of trailers for The Frame. One gives away too much of the story so I don’t recommend that one. The one below shows only images from the film. Still, I recommend knowing nothing beforehand but this is the safer trailer if you’re interested:
And this is the video for the Grimes song Genesis in Before I Fall. It’s weird. I love it.