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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Anamaria Marinca

The Girl With All the Gifts (2017)

2017 proves that we may just need an apocalypse.

In the future, a strange fungus has changed nearly everyone into a thoughtless, flesh-eating monster. When a scientist (Glenn Close) and a teacher (Gemma Arterton) find a girl named Melanie (Sennia Nanua) who seems to be immune to the fungus, they all begin a journey to save humanity. Problem is, the outside world is quite dangerous and always ready to chow down on human-flesh.

With all of the zombies shows and movies out there, you’d think that we wouldn’t really need something like the Girl With All the Gifts. After all, it’s a lot like the Last of Us and already doesn’t feel like it’s going to go beyond just being about a bunch of unlikable people trying to survive in a post-apacolyptic world, where everyone and everything are flesh-eating zombies. It sounds conventional, formulaic, and downright cliche, but the way it all plays out, surprisingly, proves otherwise.

Who says teachers can’t change the world?

In fact, it almost comes close to greatness. Very close, indeed.

But still, it’s a movie that deserves to be seen above all of the other zombie offerings because it doesn’t ever seem to forget to be, first and foremost, scary. What the Walking Dead, Z Nation, and all those other zombie bits of pop-culture seem to miss out on is that they aren’t really scary; they focus more on characters and hope that their lives hanging in the balance will be enough. They don’t really work on mood, or actually having you fearful of what’s going to come out at us, as well as the characters, next.

Director Colm McCarthy’s style works on that and puts us right into a dark, twisted, scary, and absolutely depressing world, highly reminiscent of the same post-apocalypse pictured in 28 Days Later. There’s zombies roaming everywhere, they’re fast, they’re angry, they’re hungry, and oh yeah, they’re scary. McCarthy always puts us in the dark of where the plot may go next, so that even if we don’t entirely care for these characters, we’re still interested in seeing where we are taken, what other mysteries of this disease are going to be unlocked, and whether anybody’s going to make it out of this thing alive.

Aw. Such a sweet little girl.

That said, the characters themselves, as limited as they may be, are interesting enough to where they do warrant enough attention to them. Gemma Arterton’s Helen is sweet and sympathetic, but you never know whether to fully trust her to do the right thing or not; same goes for Paddy Considine’s Eddie, who we actually start to hate, but soon understand and sympathize with because, well, he’s been through a whole lot; Glenn Close plays the Dr. Caldwell who cares a lot about her research, but also doesn’t fall into the convention of being the scientist who loses her head when the going gets dangerous; and Sennia Nanua, as Melanie, is perfect here. She’s both cute and sweet, but also incredibly dangerous, too and it’s hard to ever fully get close to this character, which is on-purpose. She is, after all, still a girl, but she does have a undying passion and love for the taste of human-flesh and it’s always easy to forget, especially when she’s going on and on about fairy-tales and bed-time stories.

It’s perfect casting and hopefully, a sure sign that Nanua will be going on to bigger and better things.

That said, as solid as the movie is for the first hour or so, it does kind of blow off the rails by the last-act, which is easy to see coming, but still feels a tad disappointing. It seems like with most zombie-flicks of this nature, it’s hard to stay so subtle and repressed that you can’t help yourselves but to let a little loose with all of the blood, the gore, the violence, the twists, and the turns by the end, but so be it. Maybe times will change. Maybe not.

Oh well.

Consensus: With plenty of shocks, scares, blood, guts, gore, and great performances, the Girl With All the Gifts helps freshen-up the zombie sub-genre a bit, but also falls short of being a brand new classic. Darn.

7.5 / 10

Oh, uh, damn. Never mind. Monster, I tell ya!

Photos Courtesy of: Saban Films

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Five Minutes of Heaven (2009)

Forgive. Forget. Go a little crazy.

During the 1970s in Northern Ireland, times were tough and they were onlu getting tougher. The IRA was running rampant and people were dropping dead, for no real reasons other than because, well, it was a sign of the times. One such person was Joe Griffin’s older brother gets shot dead by the teenage leader of a UVF. It’s disturbed Joe so much that, all of these years later, now, as an older fella (James Nesbitt), he can’t quite get by in life. He is still haunted by that murder, as well as the memory of it, along with his brother. And it’s why, now nearly thirty years later, Joe is finally ready to meet his brother’s killer, Alistair Little (Liam Neeson), on live TV, with all sorts of producers and agents standing around, expecting some sort of huge emotional breakthrough that only reality television can provide. And well, they’ll most likely get that, except in this case, they won’t be expecting; see, Joe didn’t show up to this meeting for reconciliation, but to extract revenge for all of the pain and anguish that Alistair has caused on his life. It’s just a matter of getting the deed done that matters most.

The most adult game of “hide-n-go-seek” I’ve ever seen.

Five Minutes of Heaven, no matter which way you put it, works best because of the two great performances in the leads, mostly Nesbitt as the strange, deranged and incredibly disturbed Joe. Nesbitt’s a pretty great actor and has been able to play these kind of angry roles before, but never this deranged and crazy, and it’s a nice change-of-pace for him, because while he could have easily gone overboard, he never does. Instead, he plays it short, small, and subtle, making this person’s pain felt the whole time throughout; we know that the man is suffering, but the movie doesn’t have to tell us that at all. Just one look at Nesbitt’s upset face is more than enough to clue us in to what’s really wrong.

And yeah, Liam Neeson is good, too, but he doesn’t show up nearly as much as Nesbitt. That said, he provides a very interesting character who, in any other movie, would have easily been a cold-hearted and evil villain, without any heart, soul, or humanity to be found. But instead, he’s actually a much rather soft and understood man, who has guilt, who feels shame, and wants to be forgiven for all of the awful actions that he’s caused, giving us a chance to see the true human underneath the brooding.

In other words, two great performances in an otherwise fine movie.

Halloween or IRA?

All that said, Five Minutes of Heaven is still a good movie because it asks all sorts of questions about guilt, forgiveness, death, life, and sadness, but also seems interested in actually answering them. We’re told that old wounds can heal with time and separation, but at the same time, we see someone as torn-up and destroyed as Joe, that almost all of that goes out the window. The movie doesn’t always get the chance to answer everything it wants, but the ideas and elements of the story it brings up, guess what? It actually develops and seems to go somewhere with.

Even if the ending is a bit silly. But hey, not all movies have to be absolutely, positively perfect. Sometimes, all they have to do is make you think, watch, and get excited, if only for short, brief instances. Five Minutes of Heaven sort of does that, but also allows for us to feast our eyes on two of the best Irish actors working today.

Aside from the one and only Colin Farrell. I mean, honestly, how charming is that guy!

Consensus: Benefiting from two amazing performances in Nesbitt and Neeson, Five Minutes of Heaven is a smart, challenging thriller that has more on its mind than guns and murder.

7.5 / 10

Some men just want to watch random cars burn.

Photos Courtesy of: Michael McVey, SkiffleboomFlick Diary

Fury (2014)

I guess something that weighs over 30 tons isn’t all that safe after all.

It’s April 1945 in Nazi Germany, towards the end of WWII and the Allies seem to be kicking all sorts of ass and taking names. So much so, that Adolf Hitler himself has been ordering just about every man, women, and/or child, to get out there on the front lines and fight the good fight. And during all of this, therein lies a tank crew who maintain and work in a big mofo they call “Fury”. The tank sergeant is a man that goes by the name of Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) and just recently, finds himself all torn up over the fact that his second-in-command has just been blown away in the middle of combat. He still has the rest of his crew intact, but this proves to be such a hard hit, that he doesn’t know necessarily how to move on. Well, except all that he and his crew have to do is fight, fight, and fight some more. This time though, they’ll be along for the ride with a newbie by the name of Cobb (Logan Lerman) who nobody really takes a liking to and with good reason: He’s never been on the battlefield before and doesn’t know if he can handle killing other people that haven’t done anything specifically to him. Throughout the next week or so, that may change and Wardaddy will be more than happy to show him why.

There’s something of a plot to be found here in Fury, but honestly, what it all comes down to is “Brad Pitt and a bunch of his fellas go around Germany, shooting and killing people.” While that sounds somewhat repetitive and ultimately, boring, there’s a feeling here that writer/director David Ayer is using it for a whole other reason in particular.

For instance, it’s never made clear to us what exactly the objective here of this story is; usually for a war movie, we understand who is searching for what, why, how they’re going to go about it, and what is going to be accomplished at the end of the day. However, here, the only objective of the plot-line is to fight the war, continue killing the enemy, and try to do so without getting you, or your fellow soldier killed in the process.

Looking that good, can sometimes be so tiring.

Looking that good, can sometimes be so tiring.

In all honesty, that’s more of how the war probably is. there’s no need to save any Private Ryan’s, or even any plan to capture top-level Mogadishu-officials. Here, it’s all about trying to stay alive and killing as many Germans as they possibly can, which is probably just how being in a bloody war is like – hardly ever stopping and always fighting. This is a bold move on Ayer’s part to take, but it’s one that I think needed to be taking, because so rarely is it that we get a war movie that shows us just how screwed up and unforgiving the battlefield truly is, without trying to force a message down our throats. Here, you could say that the moral of the story is, “the war is terrible, and people die.” That’s all Ayer seems to be saying here and I think that’s all that needed to be said.

But of course Ayer takes it a bit of another step forward and actually get to discussing the certain soldiers in the war, by showing us just the type of disturbing affect the war has on them, regardless of how messed-up in the head the individual may be. This is where I think Ayer’s writing is at its best, because rather than glamorizing these soldiers and having them come off as the Nation’s biggest heroes, Ayer has them portrayed as a bunch of guys who had nothing else better to give to society back in the States, other than just sitting around and taking up space. On the battlefield, they have a purpose, they have a cause, and most of all, they have a reason to live. Though we never actually hear a character state this throughout the film, they don’t really have to for us to get the point; in fact, them just stating every so often that being in the war was, “the best job they ever had”, gives us the impression that this is all they have to live for and they’re more than proud to die if they have to. They may be scared, but they’ll at least feel proud to perish because it’s for a reason, even if that reason is for their own well-being.

And though I may make this movie come off as a bit of a melodrama, I can assure you that it’s not; there are moments of pure drama where characters break down, shout their hearts out, and let us know how they feel. However, at the end of the day, it’s a war movie, and because of this, we get plenty of action-sequences with tanks going toe-to-toe with another, people getting shot, stabbed in the face, lit on fire, and most of all, dying. But while these scenes are effective in the most gruesome ways possible, there’s still a feeling that the movie doesn’t know what it wants to say about them – are we supposed to feel bad that countless soldiers on both sides are getting killed? Or are we just supposed to care that way for the American side?

The best example to highlight this problem the movie seems to have with itself is when Cobb, the new blood of this tank group, is ordered by Wardaddy to shoot a German prisoner. Though the German prisoner has surrendered (thus, making it illegal to kill him), Cobb is physically and emotionally manipulated into doing it, even though it is a horrifying act he does not want to partake in. We know it’s not right, he knows it’s not right, but every other character around him (as well as the movie), doesn’t and that’s one of the sole problems with this movie. It doesn’t have enough to say to be an anti-war movie, yet, it doesn’t have enough self-control to not glamorize the violent, sometimes inhumane, acts that occur during the war itself.

Basically, you could write it all down to Ayer not being the best director out there. Sure, as a writer, he’s pretty fine and has shown that he has a knack for writing gritty, raw, and bare human beings who are conscience enough to be considered “realistic”, but as a director, his movies don’t always translate so well. End of Watch was a fine piece that showed he was able to turn the found-footage genre on its head a bit, but that’s about all the praise Ayer gets as a director (his other film released earlier this year, Sabotage, is currently running the gauntlet for being one of my least favorite of the year). That said, while this is probably Ayer’s most accomplished film as director, there’s still signs that what comes out of the pen, doesn’t always translate so well onto the screen, even if the one writing, also happens to be the same individual filming.

Thankfully though, for Ayer at least, he can fall back on the amazing ensemble he has here to ensure that his material will be more than just what’s presented on the surface, and can at least be dissected and looked at a bit more. Brad Pitt, playing a WWII soldier that isn’t collecting Nazi scalps, does a lot as Wardaddy, although it seems like he’s just being his usual-self: Cool, smart, collective, and most of all, masculine as hell. However, there’s more to this character and we get the idea that even though he’s all about defending his country to the very end and do whatever he has to do to protect those around him, at any costs, he still fears the idea of dying, or even worse, a close-one of his meeting the same fate. He’s an emotionally-battered man that disguises it all with orders, commands, and death, but if you look closely, you can see exactly what kind of person he is, and it’s not all that different from you or I.

That's the look of someone who has maybe gone too method.

That’s the look of someone who has maybe gone “too method”.

Except that he looks like this, a sad reality I live with everyday I look in the mirror.

But as good as Pitt is in the lead role, I really have to give a lot of kudos to Logan Lerman, a young talent who is really rising through the ranks and showing us he has what it takes to hang with the big boys. Though Lerman’s character can be classified as “scared, wimp-ish rookie”, Lerman presents us with shades to this character that makes it easy to see why someone as sheepish and kind as he is, would actually totally change into a ruthless, unforgiving killer. It’s actually pretty horrifying if you think about it, and that is why Lerman’s performance is so good: He’s a normal person like you or me, but now it’s time for him to grow up, face the terrible realities of the war, and start shooting that rifle of his.

Though, as good as Lerman and Pitt are, there is a glaring difference between them two, and the attention they get from Ayer, as opposed to the characters played by Michael Peña, Shia LaBeouf and Jon Bernthal, who all seem like types that want to be more than just that, but never get a chance to cause the writing prohibits them from doing so. However, because these three are all good performers, we get a deeper, more effective camaraderie between the whole group that seems to go further than just “war buddies”; they could actually be something of brothers, that just so happen to be connected by the reality of war.

One instance of this is a scene that, for some reason or another, takes place all in real-time and runs for about twenty-five minutes. It starts with Wardaddy and Cobb going into a random German woman’s home, having dinner and sex, but turns into something darker and tense once the rest of the group shows up. This is a great scene because it not only shows the restraint in Ayer’s sometimes confused direction, but actually allows all of these guys to just act with one another, in one scene, one location, and uninterrupted. In this scene, we get to understand who all of these fellas are, why they stick up for one another when they have to, and why they all love each other, in the most non-sexual way possible. It’s probably the most memorable scene of the movie, which is probably a testament to the cast, especially when you consider how much blood, guts, bullets and steel are flying around.

Consensus: Maybe not the deepest war movie ever made, Fury doesn’t know where it stands on certain ideas, but is still well-acted by its highly-capable cast and displays a growing talent in David Ayer as a director, even if there is some room for improvement to be made.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

#2MasculineForYou

#2MasculineForYou

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)

Have kids and be happy. As simple as that.

Two small-town university students, Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) and Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) share a room in order to do an illegal abortion. Otilia then sets about renting a room in a shabby but expensive hotel, in readiness for Mr Bebe (Vlad Ivanov), an abortionist who they’ve been led to believe will do the job for the money they’ve scraped together.

Abortion is no easy subject to talk about, let alone actually have as the main subject in your movie. Director Cristian Mungiu knows this and makes it even harder to take in.

This film could have easily been another simple story about two college girls who plan an abortion but it’s the direction from Mungiu that sets it apart. It’s no mystery, I love one-shots. It’s always something that looks so cool and adds so much more tension to the screen rather than just simply jumping all around from camera-to-camera. Here, Mungiu uses many of these kinds of shots and it brings the same amount of tension to every scene but also gives you this large sense of realism, as if you’re watching a documentary of a true story play out right in front of your face. It’s a very dark, bleak, and rather depressing film and without adding any score music for the background, color to the sets (the most color in this flick is the scenes in the hotel lobby, and that’s not even saying much), or fancy camera tricks, the film still makes you feel like nothing good will come out of this situation that these dumb-ass kids got themselves into.

A lot of people talk about how this is a social commentary on the oppressive Communist regimes or illegal abortions that were taken place during this time, but I think of it more of as a look into the dynamics what human friendships really are like. These two kids obviously will try anything to make sure the other one gets what they want, but they don’t realize the price that it may come away with. We also get a very deep look into what happens to a person when they do something, that effs with their mind completely and how everything around them is very intense. I can’t say what goes down in this flick that causes all of this tension later on in the story but it’s very messed up, and yes, it’s more messed up than the whole abortion element which tells you that it’s very messed up. Did I mention that it’s messed up?

However, that’s where my problem for this film lied was that it wasn’t anything more than a look at human friendships and the main subject it talks about, isn’t really anything new. The film shows us this illegal abortion and what emotions its bringing to these students but the film’s main point (if there was one) about abortion itself is sort of left in the wind. Actually, even if there was one, they didn’t really find a way to say anything original about it in the first place which basically means that whatever your opinions are about abortion already are, after viewing this flick, they won’t change or be altered. It’s kind of disappointing considering you don’t know what this film is really going for and then in the end, you start to realize that maybe it’s not going for anything at all. It just shows that abortions are bad. But hey, you didn’t hear that from me so please don’t start up a fight with me in the comments section. Please.

Where this film really hit in the gut was with its performances that seem very, very natural as if these people weren’t even acting in the first place. Anamaria Marinca is amazing here as Otilia, a duty-bound chick that’s very straight to the point and seems like a very smart girl, which obviously had me wondering just what the hell she was doing getting caught up in a situation like this. She has some really good scenes here, considering the whole film is practically focused in on her, but this one dinner scene where the camera just stays on her is great as you see all of her emotions throughout that period of time, just flow right through her face. It’s a great scene but it’s also a little hard to watch her face and read the subtitles at the same time. The more naive chick, Gabita, is also played very well by Laura Vasiliu and provides plenty of scenes where it’s obvious that this chick doesn’t care about anyone else except for her and her fetus. Both characters are pretty unsympathetic and it allows us more room to wonder why these characters would ever get into a situation like this, and just why are they doing what they’re doing.

Consensus: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days may not have anything new or creative to say about it’s controversial subject matter, but it features gut-wrenching performances from both Marinca and Vasiliu, and has a very straight-forward direction from Mungiu that gives it this dark and gritty look, but also very realistic feel that blends in well with the dark atmosphere of the Communist attitudes around this time.

8.5/10=Matinee!!