Ghost Rider

Without any kind of initial explanation, I have a soft spot in my memory for Ghost Rider and a hesitation to really say anything negative about the film, but damn, this movie is bad. While revisiting Nicolas Cage in the starring role of Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider, I had an inkling that I would discover something new about the film, and if not new, then something to grasp onto that could elevate this film and redeem it. Unfortunately, it’s not the case: this might be worse off today than when I initially saw it over a decade ago. A bit of personal context here: I am in no way familiar with Ghost Rider, his origin, cast of supporting characters or history. The Ghost Rider comics I bought in the early 90’s were purchased because of a killer cover done by Adam Kubert on an 1992 issue of Sprits of Vengeance (link here) where Venom is hanging upside down in the sewers, holding Ghost Rider’s flaming skull wrapped up in a chain. I probably went onto buy a dozen or so Ghost Rider comics, read…

The Irishman

There are a few modern directors whose movies I make a point to add to my collection at my earliest possible convenience, and Martin Scorsese is one of those few. The Irishman is Scorsese’s latest movie, a contemplative exploration of legacy and as we grow older and begin to weigh the choices we made along the way with the consequences of those choices, a final reckoning we all must face. It also serves as a melancholic reflection on Scorsese’s own filmography and in many ways feels like the thematic culmination of ideas he’s been exploring since the very beginning of his career. The Irishman seems like the end of an unofficial trilogy of Scorsese movies that include Mean Streets and Goodfellas. All of these movies explore the lives of criminals (specifically gangsters) and the inevitable consequences that those sort of lives eventually yield, but because each of them was made at distinct points in Scorsese’s life and career, we’re given a unique collection of perspectives from the same man on the same themes.  The Irishman was rather notably produced by Netflix and released on their streaming platform in…

Pulse

Wow, I can’t recall the last time that I felt so much dread and unease in a horror film, but here we are with Kairo (Pulse), having me double check the shadows in my room and not only making sure that the doors in my apartment are closed, but also that they don’t have any red tape around them. Suffice to say I didn’t turn on my computer until the next day, in the safety of sunlight. We follow our characters as they navigate strange occurrences, including sightings of a recently deceased friend and a truly creepy website. Everything is driven forward by having as much information as the characters themselves: easily relatable as I never found myself questioning their behaviour: with a belief that ghosts don’t exist, who wouldn’t investigate strange markings on the wall of a friend’s home, or start asking around about how to rid yourself of some malware? These characters are never entirely sure what they’re dealing with, and the audience is given barely anything more, which I think makes the journey all the more terrifying.…

Fire in the Sky

I’ll be completely honest with you: growing up, I was afraid of aliens. There was an ambiguous fear instilled upon me, no doubt seeded by the weird sci-fi films my dad exposed me to as a child; it wasn’t so much a fear of something specific, it was just the horror of seeing an actual alien, or spacecraft, invade my reality that seemed to have me on edge. And perhaps that’s just it: it was a fear of disrupting the regular routine of my life, or something, I’m not sure. I remember driving home one night in the backseat and seeing these lights in the distance search the skies. I was immediately on alert, my mind teeming to life with all he horrific possibilities that it could manifest, but never truly giving thought that it was anything but aliens. They were spotlights from a business in the city, just programmed to pan back and forth in unison.   With the fear of aliens and extraterrestrial invasion being so prominent in my mind, I certainly went out of my way to go review even…

Underworld: Evolution

Immediately, we abandon the slick confines the original’s city, mansions and underground settings for the (somewhat) blanket openness of Eastern Europe. The story picks up just where we left off as well, with Selene and Michael on the run from the aftermath of the mayhem before, including the (spoiler for the first film) slaying of Victor. I’m just about fully on board with Evolution delving deeper into the lore of the “Vampire-Lycan” war and appreciative that it ties a number of strings together, including our main vampire played by Kate Beckinsale all without feeling like story beats and characters are just done for the sake of being convenient or filler.  I mentioned in the previous film that there were very few (if any) human characters present, which has been rectified in Evolution. Rectified, because I need to see how our vampires and werewolves perform in the face of your average human, which helps craft this world’s reality against our own. There’s a scene early on where Michael is chased into the woods by a group of humans – as he resists the…

2020 Year in Review

As we heartily say goodbye to one of the most tumultuous years, I look back at the twelve months and stand back in a kind of awe: having hit 312 movies watched is truly a milestone, although a tad bittersweet as its partly due to being fueled by the pandemic lockdown that has so dictated everyone’s year. The stats are actually interesting though: in both January and February I watched 31 and 29 films, respectively, which would put me on track for a “film a day” and this was before our initial lockdown in March. That pace burnt me out though, and I focused my attention on catching up on some television shows, and without the regular social interactions I found my pace in the high twenties for movie watching each month. Again, Letterboxd is my logbook and source of all kinds of interesting stats. Check out my 2020 stats page here: https://letterboxd.com/ryebone/year/2020/ So you’re perhaps looking for a top ten list, right? I had some loosely interesting conversation with my movie-loving friends, bringing to the forefront the question: was there…

Wolfwalkers

There’s something reassuringly captivating and enchanting about Wolfwalkers, the latest animated feature from Irish filmmakers Tomm Moore and Ross Steward, with Moore previously codirecting both The Secret of the Kells and the amazing Song of the Sea. Wolfwalkers had me engrossed from start to finish, and held my thoughts for days afterward. I’m always a bit hesitant to put on “kids” films when alone and as a result I can miss out on some really excellent films so in an effort to recognize the more positive sides of this turbulent year and not let some films slip by, I made a priority to watch the highly-rated Wolfwalkers, and would heartily recommend it to everyone. The story is clean and uncomplicated, as we follow an English father and daughter, Bill (Sean Bean) and daughter Robyn (Honor Kneafsey) who are brought to the town of Kilkenney in Ireland in the 1600’s to utilize his hunting abilities to clear the surrounding woods of wolves, who are oft-considered supernatural and evil. Robyn discovers another girl in the woods, Mebh, and they form a friendship…

Tenet

Despite the standard cliche, I don’t remember ever literally being on the edge of my seat during a movie, but there are some movies that make me sit up a little straighter and pay very close attention. Tenet was one of those movies. I wasn’t really all that surprised that I enjoyed Tenet; Christopher Nolan is one of my favourite directors working today (or really, ever), and I’ve been a fan of all of his movies to date. Nolan is one of the few modern directors who is able to effectively blend the auteur and blockbuster approach to craft films that are truly epic in scale but at their core are stories about people and that both pose and explore questions about the human condition in an intelligent way. In that way, Nolan is heir apparent to the original generation of auteur film makers who essentially invented the blockbuster like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. And like Spielberg and Lucas, Christopher Nolan is primarily concerned with telling original stories about larger than life events anchored with fully fleshed out human characters (and a…

Iron Man 3

In the seven years since Iron Man 3 was released, I had the impression that there was a consensus that this film was one of the worst of the MCU lineup, but as I revisited the film recently, I found very little to actually dislike. Coming off The Avengers event film, the third entry in Tony Stark’s solo films was going to be in a precarious situation, and I feel as though they did a pretty solid job. Tony is suffering from PTSD, resulting in a bit of a harder edge to the comedy, leaning into a bit of self-deprecation and moving away from the arrogant playboy in previous films. His friends seem to tip-toe around him, trying to take as much responsibility away as possible, although – to be fair – the film doesn’t really hit up the dynamics between Tony and Pepper and Happy, practically writing Happy out of the majority of the film. It makes sense to evolve Tony and Pepper’s relationship, but she comes across as a bit exhausted of his antics, either ignoring his mental…

Possessor

There seems to be a bit of marketing around this film that pushes it as the “uncut” version, which is usually reserved for home video releases and results in a rather dubious difference in content of the film. However, we’re talking about the Cronenberg family in this case, and the small theatrical run during this pandemic is perhaps allowing such a cut of film to grace the big screen. As I stumbled across snippet-sized details of Brandon Cronenberg’s latest film over the past few months, I absolutely tried to minimize how much I knew about the film going into it, allowing the poster to speak for itself. The Possessor Uncut disclaimer comes up on screen before the movie gets going, making me all the more aware that this should be quite the ride, and a ride, it was. There are boundary pushing images and scenes on display here, but at no point does this feel exploitative or irrelevant to the story and characters. You become acutely aware of when the camera would normally cut away, or show us a different…

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