24 posts categorized "War Fantasy"

March 10, 2024

OPPENHEIMER

Welcome!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel. Punk heart still beating.

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ColeSmithey.comCillian Murphy gives an incomparable virtuosic portrayal of the man responsible for creating the Atom Bomb. Murphy’s fierce performance is astonishing for its purposeful sense of moral clarity.

Cillian Murphy remains on a very short list of actors capable of handling such a monumental task.

Here is great character work on display under Murphy’s spotless command. Bradley Cooper stand down. Heads have been cut.

ColeSmithey.com

The overall quality of the film is good. Still the movie is not without its problems of editing, variety of tempo, narrative format, and overuse of black and white sequences.  

A much smaller budget could have helped.

ColeSmithey.com

Like "Killers of the Flower Moon," this film pins its ending on a courtroom drama that sinks.

ColeSmithey.com

What promises to be Christopher Nolan's first cinematic masterpiece, evaporates before our eyes.

ColeSmithey.com

The film could stand to lose at least 30 minutes of its overlong runtime, and then it might be three stars, but there isn't a masterpiece here to be carved from its original stone.

Rated R. 180 mins.

2 Stars

Cozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

October 31, 2023

HOUSE — SHOCKTOBER!

ColeSmithey.comColeSmithey.comWelcome!

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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ColeSmithey.comNobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 surrealistic satire regarding the overwhelming aftermath of America’s atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is a virtuosic fantasy horror movie unlike any other.

Of the atomic bombs’ 200,000 causalities, all of Nobuhiko Obayashi’s childhood friends were among the deceased.

Nobuhiko Obayashi was just eight years old at the time of the attacks. Clearly, he never lost sight of his pals, or his loss. Here, Obayashi throws a cinematic extravaganza party to celebrate the lost potential of a generation.

ColeSmithey.com

Extreme teenage Japanese punk power pop! You bet.

ColeSmithey.com

We’re way beyond “Rocky Horror” baby.

“House” takes the cake, the dining room table, the piano, and most certainly the title’s house of horrors that devours seven teenage girls via a very hungry piano.

ColeSmithey.com

Chomp, chomp, chomp.

“House” shows Obayashi’s encyclopedic mastery of state-of-the-art filmmaking, from a deeply personal approach to meeting the sugary commercial demands of the film’s producers.

ColeSmithey.com

This insanely ambitious movie puts George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to shame with pure inventiveness.

Obayashi received story ideas from his eleven-year-old daughter, Chigumi. A blood-spewing white cat piles on the film’s cartoonish tone of outrageous evil consuming every body that steps in its path.

ColeSmithey.com

Nobuhiko Obayashi uses every filmic technique at his disposal, in order to transmogrify the grief, pain, and sense of incalculable loss that he and so many others experienced. What results is a cinematic phantasmagoria overflowing with humor, expressions of love, and deep-seeded fear of the unknown.

ColeSmithey.com

Visually and viscerally stunning from start to finish, “House” is much more than a mere masterpiece.

Not Rated. 88 mins.

5 Stars THE BLOOD OF DRACULA THE BLOOD OF DRACULA ColeSmithey.com
THE BLOOD OF DRACULA
THE BLOOD OF DRACULA
Cozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

October 28, 2023

PAN'S LABYRINTH — SHOCKTOBER!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot acorns!

Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

ColeSmithey.com

ColeSmithey.comColeSmithey.comGuillermo del Toro Relishes the Horrors of Childhood

ColeSmithey.comIn discussing the leftist political themes of "The Devil’s Backbone" and "Pan’s Labyrinth," gothic horror maestro Guillermo del Toro responds by condemning what is considered "normal" because "normal creates inadequacy immediately." The transplanted director from Mexico embraces abnormality and moral ambiguity in "Pan’s Labyrinth." It's a film he wrote and directed as a deeply personal treatise on the defense mechanisms of a child dealing with war and death. "Pan's Labyrinth" is a surreal and dark fairy tale about resistance and sacrifice from the point of view of a resourceful child.

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Ofelia (played with immeasurable grace by child actress Ivana Baquero) is uprooted with her ailing pregnant mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) during Franco's 1944 postwar Spain to go live with Ofelia’s stepfather Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez) of Spain’s Civil Guard. Mother and daughter arrive at an abandoned rural mill that Vidal has converted into a military headquarters to oppose the local "maquis" freedom fighters. Ofelia momentarily escapes the farm’s oppressive ambience to explore an old garden labyrinth where she meets a peculiar faun (Doug Jones) who acts as a mentor. The strange creature assigns Ofelia three tasks to prove her royalty as a princess.

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Ofelia's dark fantasies of fairies and monsters are matched by the savage hostilities incited by Captain Vidal’s obsessive reign of power. The hideous but friendly faun gradually becomes beautiful as Ofelia fulfills his commands of obtaining a key from a repulsive toad, visiting a pale monster with eyeballs in the palms of his hands at a banquet from which she must not eat, and releasing the blood of an innocent. This is thought-provoking stuff that del Toro presents with fluid attention to detail. You couldn't hope for a more visually lush experience.

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After the film’s premiere in Cannes del Toro said, "In this movie, I think the fascist is more terrifying than any of the creatures Ofelia encounters in her fantasy. I feel that the more humanist point of view is the one that I like. I love "Beauty and the Beast" by Jean Cocteau. I love "Frankenstein" by James Whale. I like "Night of the Hunter."

ColeSmithey.com

Taking into account del Toro's stated influences, you can see where each have an impact on the film he has crafted from every angle. Here we have gothic horror combined with fantasy in a purely original way that nevertheless breathes with a sense of tradition.

ColeSmithey.com

"Pan’s Labyrinth" is set at the end of World War II when the Spanish resistance still had a fighting chance against Franco’s regime if allied support arrived in time. The movie works intriguingly opposite Steven Soderbergh’s "The Good German" as a phantasmagorical reflection of an underground reality seething beneath the scorched and bloody soldier-inhabited earth above.

ColeSmithey.com

Guillermo del Toro is a bold creator of modern fairytales in the tradition of the Grimm Brothers, as mixed with a healthy sprinkling of Greek mythology. In planning his films, the director draws colorful drawings of the creatures he will bring to life, such as the mandrake root that Ofelia places in a bowl of milk-and-water beneath her mother’s bed to cure her sickness and protect her unborn child.

ColeSmithey.com

As del Toro points out, "There is a mythology that you can grow a baby out of a mandrake." Mandrake is another name for ginseng, but del Toro proposes the plant was traditionally born under the gallows at the feet of hanging victims who spasmed as they died. "You had to look for it under a full moon with a black dog and wear protection on your ears because, when the dog digs for it, the mandrake screams and the dog dies. And if you don’t have protection, you die." The childhood desperation that permeates his dramatic sensibility is elevated by del Toro’s sincere devotion to imaginary belief systems rooted in cycles of nature.

ColeSmithey.com

Del Toro says, "Pan’s Labyrinth" is an adult movie about being a kid. My favorite kid movies are "The 400 Blows," or "Au revoir, les enfants" by Louis Malle or "The Tin Drum." None of these are movies that I would play along with "Chicken Little" for my daughters, but they are movies, nevertheless, about childhood."

Add "Pan's Labyrinth" to that list.

ColeSmithey.com

Rated R. 120 mins.

4 Stars ColeSmithey.comCozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

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