Movies

Otherlife

This movie is truly about the helplessness, and hopelessness that comes with fighting against a corporation that’s stolen your life’s work. How you’re driven mad, and gaslit in every corner. It’s about the pitfalls of technology, specifically about virtual reality. Black Mirror had an episode that was similar to this. This is the story of a young woman trying to save her brother’s mind – he’s trapped in a coma caused by drowning during an excursion with the two of them together. Expanding upon her father’s technology, she tries to devise a way that’ll work but she needs funding. So she partners up, but fails to consider that power corrupts absolutely. She ends up imprisoned by the very system she created to help save lives.

For an indie budget film, this movie has a better sense of scale and production value than most high budget Hollywood films. It has crafted a terrifying world where you can’t even trust your own reality. Not much different than today’s world, I suppose. The twists and turns keep you on your feet, and even my own above description of events betrays the reality of the movie. The only constant that is true is the danger of virtual reality that modifies time. The ending was satisfying, and provided emotional release from the suffocating feeling that the movie encapsulated.

Jessica De Gouw was excellent in the lead role, and very easily carried the movie. T.J. Power was equally as good as the partner seduced by the wealth and power that comes from owning a company on the forefront of new technology. His smarmy portrayal provided just the right touch between someone that seems trusting and simultaneously an asshole. The music added to the overall feeling of constant uneasiness and worry.

Overall, it was quite a good science fiction thriller. I’m loving these Australian films, and I look forward to more. I recommend this movie.

Movies

The Card Counter

An excellent movie. Goes to show when the material is good, the actor can be good. When the writing is great, everything falls into place. Oscar Isaac was simply gripping in every scene. His performance mesmerizing. He plays a highly controlled man, one of structure and regiment while underneath you can feel a boiling rage. It is a character study into man’s moral responsibilities. Of going down the right paths, and finding redemption wherever it lies. Of the reprehensible acts committed by the American military in the pursuit of “safety”. And it’s all told while playing cards and gambling.

The direction and camerawork was very meaningful, purposeful. Each scene carried a weight to it. The soundtrack was fantastic, and drastically enhanced or added to the mood of the movie. Tiffany Haddish did a good job from her usual comedy routines, and a good job playing it straight. Willem Dafoe is always excellent playing smarmy bad-guys/assholes. And Tye Sheridan is also always on point with his acting. I really felt for his character, trapped in the cycle that abuse brought down on him.

Overall, it was highly enjoyable. A taut tale expertly handled by writer and director Paul Schrader. I’d recommend it.

Movies

The Contractor (2022)

The entire time I was watching this I was waiting for the shoe to drop. The reason why it would have a lower rating than usual action thrillers, and near the end, the plot reveals why. In this day and age, with all the fears around biological warfare, it is perfectly suited. Our hero, played by Chris Pine, is hired to do off the books wet work in the name of national security aka assassins for hire. His flaw comes in the form of a bum knee sustained in active service to his country. After being chewed out by the system, and thrown out with no benefits, he joins the aforementioned wet work mission where things go awry.

In typical fashion, there are twists to be had, and seeing Ben Foster’s name ruined any twists. If the man ain’t in the leading role as the good guy, then he will be playing the character designed to mess with your mind as to his moral code. The drama was good, and raised points and messages about the abysmal treatment of veterans. The action was solid, and carried weight. Soundtrack equally enjoyable.

Overall, I recommend it. It’s a fun watch, has an easy to follow plot, and always a joy to see Chris Pine in the lead role.

Spoilers/Thoughts on the Plot

I really liked the fact that the evil bad guys were stealing a vaccine that would counteract their evil plan of releasing a virus onto the population to make billions off of the untold suffering. Totally not far-fetched. Ben Foster’s character needlessly sacrificed himself which I felt was undeserving of such a fate.

TV Shows

Alex Rider Season Two

I’ll keep this review short. It was a fun background noise while I worked on other writing. The action scenes were meh, the plot was sort of interesting – mainly trying to figure out the nefarious purpose behind the video game. Sorry, getting ahead of myself. Story is there’s something shady about a billionaire named Damian Cray and his upcoming sequel launch to his bestselling game, Feathered Serpent. Alex Rider falls into the plot by sheer accident because a journalist winds up hospitalized, and the daughter happens to be someone Alex has taking a liking to during vacation. He takes matters into his own hands, and ends up saving the world, no thanks to his former spy employers.

It was fun to see all the characters back together, getting up to their usual shenanigans, while learning just a tiny bit more about the backstory of Alex Rider. The ending of the show seems to hint that the next season will explore that facet of his history.

Overall, it was a quaint watch, reminiscent of spy shows of old. I recommend it if you’re a fan of the books or character.

Movies

The Guilty

I went into this blind with no knowledge of the movie’s origin until the end credits rolled where upon I learned it’s a remake of a Danish film by the same name. As a result my review is unbiased like so many others that compare it to the original it’s adapted from. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as police dispatcher Joe Baylor as he goes about his night fielding calls until one comes in from an apparent abduction. He takes it upon himself to ensure the woman’s return to her daughter and along the way uncovered truths about the abduction and we learn more about his character. He is a flawed man, angry, emotional and an asshole. You can tell his coworkers have a clear opinion about him, and his relationship with his separated wife is on the brink of no contact. He can’t see his daughter, and he has some court hearing to attend to in the morning.

The movie is directed by Antoine Fuqua, of Training Day fame alongside many others, and he expertly helms the direction, showing us how our own perceptions of a situation may be flawed and this in turn influences what we believe to be the correct course of action. The writing was excellent, and I’ve read that it’s a near word for word adaptation of the original film. The movie is very tense and moves along at a good pace. More and more voices are brought on until there’s just a few main ones which Joe interacts with. This movie is basically a character piece focused on Joe and therefore it is up to the strength of Jake Gyllenhaal to keep us entranced. To which he does with great success.

Overall, I enjoyed it and would recommend it for a watch. I have no knowledge of the original and as such, if you’ve seen that movie, I don’t know if you’d like this one since you would already know what would happen.