Tuesday, May 31, 2016

[Review] A Bigger Splash

It's getting hot in here...

Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts (Bullhead, The Drop), and Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey) star in Luca Guadagnino's brash boiling pot of affairs.

Just recovering from vocal cord surgery, rockstar Marianne Lane (Swinton) and her boyfriend Paul (Schoenaerts) are hidden away in romantic bliss on a lush island off the coast of Italy. Their beach quickies are abruptly interrupted when an old friend named Harry (Fiennes) and his daughter Penelope (Johnson) fly in for a visit. From the moment we first meet Harry, we can tell that the guy is an overwhelming fellow (he pisses on a grave and goes streaking within his first 15 minutes of screen time).

The details of Harry's history with Marianne and Paul are kept a secret early on (and later revealed in flashbacks), but even without the flashbacks there's a not-so-subtle impression that he's in love with Marianne, and everyone else is suspicious about it as well. The fairly predictable premise is a steamy recipe for awkward tension, heated jealousy, and uncontrollable desires.

While these mostly unsavory characters aren't people you'd want to spend a vacation with (let alone a few hours), it's engrossing to watch this humid situation unfold. The loaded dialogue, stellar performances, and clashing musical score really set the mood just right. Pantelleria definitely makes for a beautiful scenic backdrop, and the camera flaunts picturesque views under sun-drenched, overexposed cinematography (I'll tell you what, that's not the only thing overexposed in this film.)

This summer release's climax doesn't burst with super-powered battles and explosions, but the story's main confrontation feels just as monumental and intense. But after the big moment arrives, the duration unfortunately drags out for another 20 minutes or so without adding any major revelations. I think it would have been better if the last section were completely axed. However, everything that comes before that is likely to stick with you like geckos on walls.

( 7/10 )

Monday, May 30, 2016

[Review] X-Men: Apocalypse

After the slick, balanced, and surprisingly emotional X-Men: Days of Future Past, Bryan Singer summons X-Men: Apocalypse, and it's a significant step back and a massive disappointment.

In an opening sequence that comes dangerously close to looking like something from Gods of Egypt, we witness the most powerful mutant in the world En Sabah Nur aka Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac, behind 15 pounds of prosthetics) getting resurrected. Meanwhile, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is out recruiting fellow mutants. Newcomers Cyclops (Tye Sheridan, Mud) and Phoenix (Sophie Turner, "Game of Thrones") join the squad. (Pardon me if I don't name everyone.)

It's amazing how sloggy of a start this thing gets off to. It's not just the slow pace, but more-so the uninteresting material that fills the story's first half. The plot lumbers between an ensemble of settings (reminiscent of Batman v Superman). James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender reprise their roles as Professor X and Magneto--But the former is just teaching at a school that is curiously boring for a place that is full of young super mutants, while the other is working away at a factory in Germany. Jennifer Lawrence kind of just floats, appearing to be bored out of her mind. And the one-dimensional villain Apocalypse stalls for a while (there's seriously a scene of him watching TV).

The film doesn't really set into motion until after the one-hour mark (yikes). And that also happens to be when the resoundingly cool Days of Future Past standout Quicksilver (Evan Peters) gets in on the action. His highlight reel of a montage is backed by "Sweet Dreams" and awesomely shows the surrounding world slow down as he rapidly darts around saving the school of mutants from a major explosion. It's also the first time the film doesn't feel so dull and uninspired.

Of course everything builds to a huge battle, but it's not as earth-shattering as you'd expect it to be. The sequence of melee falls victim to the "bunch of stuff just flying around" debacle. For an end of the world scenario (and a movie that actually has "Apocalypse" in the title), the stakes feel mighty low. There's no major sense of thrill or peril. The central conflicts are a slice of what they once were, and any attachment to the characters gets lost in the overcrowded mess. Even though each mutant possesses their own unique power, they all seem to share the same monotone soullessness (aside from Quicksilver). The trite dialogue they're forced to deliver doesn't help matters either.

X-Men: Apocalypse is a tale of two halves, and both of them flounder.

Oh, if only Quicksilver's screen time wasn't so fleeting...

( 5/10 )

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

[Review] Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

2014's Neighbors was an uproarious comedy and a surprisingly thoughtful conjuncture about straddling the lines between youth and adulthood. However, it never really felt like we needed a sequel to move in. But you know what? I'm glad Neighbors 2 is here.

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne return, now as seasoned (sort of...) parents. Zac Efron and Dave Franco are back too, but with lesser roles as they make way for the Sorority Rising Kappa Nu, which is led by Chloe Grace Moretz, Kiersey Clemons (Dope), and Beanie Feldstein.

Yeah, the premise is mostly a retread of the first film, but it's still a really funny retread. A welcome round two. A fitting companion piece. Along with some cleverly-sourced lines of humor and great moments of comic timing from the whole cast (Efron and Moretz are especially punchy), the extravaganza of nextdoor generational gap warfare continues with that jocular and laugh-worthy class of raunch, rather than that lewd and eye-rolling class of raunch.

The narrative flaunts some female empowerment and tackles double standards and upends notions of sexism through various dialogue, gags, and setpieces. At one point, Chloe and her sisters chuck used tampons at their rival's window as a prank. Efron expresses his disgust. Chloe argues that he'd react differently if it was a bag of dicks or something. Efron ruminates on the subject. He begins to agree with Chloe's sentiment, then quietly chuckles to himself, "Bag of dicks..."

While its highs don't quite reach the more riotous festivities of the previous go-around, Neighbors 2 is an uncommon comedy sequel that you won't absolutely despise.

( 7.5/10 )

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

[Review] Angry Birds

It was inevitable that the mobile game sensation Angry Birds would expand its brand by launching onto the big screen. The movie aims to please short attention spans, but any sense of charm gets lost in the frenzy of feathers.

Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis), the bird with big eyebrows, has a bit of a--you guessed it--an anger problem. After a number of altercations around town, he gets assigned to--you guessed it--anger management. There, he meets the Adderall pecker Chuck (Josh Gad), the Gandolfini-esque Bomb (Danny McBride), and the anti-social Terence (Sean Penn, who literally does nothing but grunt). Their island gets shaken up when a ship of Bad Piggies (green Minions with snouts) land ashore.

The film displays some polished animation, and you wouldn't really expect anything different at this point. It's bright and vibrant, with Mountain Dew-flavored colors bursting all over the settings. The problem is that the laughs are few and far between. The script lobs up a bunch of airballs and rotten eggs. The soundtrack blares with a couple of old radio rock songs (I get it--ANGRY), but the tracks don't really gel with the tropical paradise backdrop. And I can't believe they had the audacity to use a Limp Bizkit song for a full montage... and it wasn't even "Break Stuff".

Even though the climax is pretty fun, and there are a couple of nice moments near the end, Angry Birds just isn't funny, clever, or inventive enough to be celebrated. And the bird characterizations are unlikely to leave much of an impression. As I was watching this subpar flick, it actually made me want to whip out my phone, open up the Angry Birds app and start playing the game instead. So, for better or worse, I guess you could say the movie does its job.

( 5.5/10 )

Monday, May 23, 2016

[Review] The Nice Guys

Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe star in this retro detective romp that lives up to the promise of its exuberant and spunky trailer.

Smoggy LA in the '70s. Tower Records and billboards for Jaws 2 line the sunset strip. Meet Healy (Crowe)--a punisher for hire, and March (Gosling)--a bumbling Private Investigator that gets points for at least trying. The two don't team up so much as they clash (their first encounter involves Healy breaking March's arm and then casually chugging a Yoohoo afterwards) in order to locate a missing girl name Amelia, who apparently is a key link in the sudden death of a high profile porn star who goes by Misty Mountains (which sounds like an unintentional Lord of the Rings reference).

Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe are both a riot here. It's nice to see a couple of guys who have been known to be in some very solemn movies over the years flex their comedy muscles and indulge in some slapstick shenanigans. Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi's script is littered with witty one-liners, offbeat interplay, and surefire quotables. March is a walking purveyor of Godwin's law and Healy can only do his best to tolerate the antics. The chemistry these two form puts most modern buddy cop comedies to shame.

And it's the physical humor that really takes hold. There's hardly a time when Gosling's character isn't getting beat up or falling off of something. The guy takes more L's than Wile E. Coyote. A few scenes kept me laughing long after they passed: A disheveled March fearing for his life in a bathroom stall, holding up a pistol and a newspaper after being interrupted while dropping a deuce... March and Healy accidentally heaving a dead body onto a fancy outdoor dinner party...

The story's pulpy neo-noir case is as winding as the roads in the Hollywood Hills, and it turns forgivably ridiculous. The Nice Guys is also fairly subversive. The characters don't really have arcs, and the status remains mostly unchanged in the end--and it works. Not shown in the trailer, is how big of a role March's daughter Holly (impressive newcomer Angourie Rice) plays. She practically becomes a third detective. March, questionably at best--lets Holly roam around the crime-ridden area overnight, she's caught in the line of bullets several times on his watch, and at one point she sneaks into a scuzzy over-the-top mansion party. March is too busy getting inebriated and taking swims through mermaid tanks to notice. So, he might receive the Worst Parent of the Year award, and somehow we're still rooting for him... and laughing at him.

* 8.5/10 *

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

[Review] Money Monster

After the unusually well-received Mel Gibson puppet dramedy The Beaver, Jodie Foster is at the directorial helm again with the awkward dud that is Money Monster.

George Clooney stars as the savvy and flashy TV host of a screwy stock market tip program, with Julia Roberts taking on the longtime producer role. Things get real when a disgruntled working-class New Yorker (Jack O'Connell) who had an investment backfire rolls up into the studio with a gun and an explosive vest, taking the place hostage--LIVE on air.

It certainly doesn't help that the trailer for Money Monster nearly showed the whole dang movie. So there's little room for surprise or any compelling turning points until the last minutes. A convoluted subplot bores with statistics while padding the duration. The film does a shoddy job at broadcasting a consistent tone. There are interjections of humor, which often fall completely flat (Seriously, who thought it'd be a good idea to put the erectile cream gag in this story?). And when the humor actually does hit, it unfortunately causes all the high stakes tension plummet. A hostage/standoff film in this vein needs the tension to be as high as possible to thrive. Let's just say this is no Dog Day Afternoon.

It's impressive how solid the performances are though, given the haphazard material and cringeworthy dialogue. George Clooney manages to convince before and after the huge disruption, and Julia Roberts is finely plausible even if she just stares at screens and delivers commands into an earpiece the whole time. But the main standout is Jack O'Connell, who has never been less than excellent in anything I've seen him in (Starred Up, '71, Unbroken). He's an emotional roller-coaster. A shaken bottle who bursts. We initially fear him. Then we pity him, we doubt him, we empathize with him.

As far as recent financial crisis dramas go, there are much better places to look--like last year's 99 Homes, or the Oscar-nominated The Big Short.

You probably won't hate it, but Money Monster is difficult to fully invest in.

( 5.5/10 )

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

[Review] The Lobster

Hoo boy, this is a weird one. But you can't say it isn't... unique.

The Lobster sees a society where all single people are forced to check into a strictly-ruled hotel. If an individual doesn't find a romantic partner within 45 days, they're turned into an animal(!) of their own well-considered choosing. The subject here is David (played by a particularly bloaty Colin Farrell). After several failed attempts at bonds during his hotel stay, he manages to escape into the woods where he joins a group called the Loners, who basically promote the opposite ideals of the hotel.

Director Yorgos Lanthimos' film smirks with a satirical tone, especially given its bizarre pieces of performance art and subtextual exhibitions. It's a status/identity study and an occasionally thought-provoking allegory on modern love, match-making, loneliness, and isolation. The film is presented in a dreary and static atmosphere, but it's beautifully shot with a scenic gloss of elegance.

You have to credit Colin Farrell, along with the rest of the cast (which includes Rachel Weisz, Ben Winshaw, and John C. Reilly) for fully committing to this oddity and embracing their lost soul auras. A lot of films draw the "Not for everyone" tag, and this is definitely one of them. It's an acquired taste, the type of thing to cause theater walk-outs. While fascinating at times and confounding at others, the duration does run way too long, losing much its bite--or should I say claws.

( 6/10 )

Monday, May 16, 2016

[Review] High-Rise

Unconventional horror director Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers, A Field in England) sets sights on residency at High-Rise, a film based on J.G. Ballard's novel of the same name. This 70s-tinged freak-out is all a blatant mess of madness, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a good mess of madness. Stylistically it's reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange--but inert. It's well-shot trash.

Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) has just moved into a towering apartment. The fortress is either a utopia or a dystopia, depending on your class. The haughty rich live at the top, while the less-fortunate dwell at the bottom. Robert, who seems to be in one long trance the entire film, learns his way about the politics from neighboring tenants played by Sienna Miller, Elisabeth Moss, Luke Evans, and Jeremy Irons--the building's architect, who of course lives on the highest floor.

If the you think the premise sounds a bit like a vertical Snowpiercer, you'd be right (except it's way less thrilling). Given the frenzied and slyly foreboding music, the Kubrick-influenced views, the power outages, and the angsty characters, we know that things are eventually going to hit the fan (and everything else). The cinematography is stellar, focusing on the retro-futurist sets and prominent diagonal angles--staircases, hallways, and mirrored reflections. Not a single frame goes by that isn't provocative. Even the top portion of the building deviates away like crooked steps into the clouds.

But despite being artfully filmed, the substance becomes overbearingly tedious. There's only so much time you can put up with such uninteresting and insufferable, narcissistic weirdos partake in eye-rolling debauchery. Once the destructive free-for-all does ensue during the film's back half, it's not very amusing or engaging because there's no major suspense, coherency, shock, or payoff to any of it. It's practically just a bunch of zombie-esque people tearing the place and each other apart. It drags and drags toward its end--to the point where you might want to jump out of the window yourself.

( 5/10 )

Thursday, May 12, 2016

[Review] Sing Street

He's given us the modern masterpiece Once and the enjoyable Begin Again. Now, director John Carney tunes up with another music-driven film, appropriately titled Sing Street. And it's likely the most delightful film of the year.

Set in Ireland during the mid-80s, a young kid named Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) transfers to a strict Catholic school where the students are about as well-mannered as a bunch of barbarians. Right away, he gets bullied and then befriends a snappy little fella named Darren, who went through the same thing. They form an impromptu Duran Duran/Depeche Mode-inspired band for fun, and more importantly--to impress a mysteriously cool girl named Raphina (Lucy Boynton).

Of course, the band is "shite" when they first begin. But you know what? They eventually become pretty dang good. As standard for Carney films, there's a great soundtrack, complete with new material from Sing Street (that's the band name) as well as classics from The Jam, The Clash, and The Cure... The catchy moments of music are pure bliss, and the references produce comedy as Sing Street loudly draws influence from each act. My personal favorite instance is when Conor listens to a Cure record for the very first time, and the next scene sees him showing up at school with messy goth hair and all black attire.

The folks who populate this flick are so endearing. Conor is a solid frontman, but Raphina steals the show. The "manic pixie dream girl" term will be tossed around, but there's nuance and depth, and it's a terrific performance of an intriguing character anyway. Conor's older stoner brother could've risked being an obnoxious stereotype, but he's surprisingly well-developed considering his secondary amount of screen time. And yes, even the bully gets a bit of an arc!

This is undoubtedly a bright film, but it also brings some pathos into the mix. Conor's parents are on the verge of splitting. His crush is getting ready to ditch the foster home where she lives in order to run away with her sleazy boyfriend. The priest at Conor's school is a killer of self-expression and is physically abusive. All of this culminates during a whimsically poignant sequence while the band is rehearsing for a gig and Conor drifts into a dreamworld where he imagines everything in his life going right.

Sing Street is a triumphant ode to the irresistible power of music and wide-eyed youthful rebellion. It's a life-affirming ballad about taking risks and following your passion. The story elicits scenes that will put a huge smile on your face and make your heart weep, just like the best melodies always do.

* 10/10 *

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

[Review] Louder Than Bombs

In his first English-language film, director Joachim Trier (a distant relative of Lars von Trier) presents Louder Than Bombs--a dour drama about a family mourning loss.

Gene (Gabriel Byrne) is currently overseeing an upcoming exhibition of work from his deceased wife Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert), who was a renowned war photographer. Meanwhile, Gene struggles to connect with his morbid teenage son (Devin Druid). His eldest son, a college professor (played by Jesse Eisenberg), travels home to spend time with the family and sort through the gallery.

Despite the title, this is an immensely quiet film, thriving on subtle but potent moments of grief and somber reflection. Even though we sympathize with the characters, they're too flatly drawn to render themselves as particularly interesting or memorable. This aspect, combined with the snail's pace and mundane flashbacks--make the film difficult to engage in. The flashbacks should serve as a device for us to get to know Isabelle better, but they fail to do that because she's also thinly developed.

As for the good, there are some nice moments of beauty, poetic pondering, and flourishes of literary dialogue throughout. Reveals from the past create new conflicts in the present. The divisive Jesse Eisenberg (for the record, I think he's great) is one of the more intriguing aspects, breaking through the one-dimensional tone and making the best out of the material he's given.

While the film underwhelms, Louder Than Bombs does convey a certain truth--Sometimes the aftermath of a loved one's death comes with intense introspection and deafening silence.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

[Review] The Family Fang

Jason Bateman's directorial debut Bad Words was a profane comedy that came with mixed results. His follow-up, a VOD & limited theater release The Family Fang--is a more assured film. Here, he also stars alongside the likes of Nicole Kidman, Christopher Walken, and Maryann Plunkett.

Raised in a household of manipulative guerilla performance artists, siblings Annie (Kidman) and Baxter (Bateman) Fang are now slightly scarred and untrusting adults. After Baxter winds up in the hospital by getting shot in the head with a potato gun (yes, really), their estranged parents (played by Walken and Plunkett) come to visit. But when the parents suddenly go missing, Annie and Baxter are tasked with figuring out whether it's real or another elaborate prank.

The premise is as bizarre as it sounds. When we first meet the parents, we immediately begin to understand why Annie and Baxter are a bit... distressed. Christopher Walken is perfectly cast as a deep-thinking smooth-talker who is extremely passionate, deceptive, and also a bit loopy about his head-scratching improv installations and questionable parenting outlooks. Nicole Kidman is solid as she takes the determined leading role in attempting to solve the mystery.

The story wanders around for a while and doesn't actually seem to catalyze until close to the midway point, but it constantly possesses a fitting spirit of strangeness. While the film doesn't nearly seem to achieve the potent tragicomedy tone that it's aiming for, it provides some interesting takes on the lengths, lines, and meanings of art--whether you agree with them or not.

The Family Fang is a film that I wouldn't recommend to everyone, but I couldn't help but intently wonder what the characters were going to end up discovering.


Monday, May 9, 2016

[Review] Captain America: Civil War

Understandable echos of superhero movie fatigue have been ringing out, but as long as Marvel keeps delivering films as entertaining as this, the hype doesn't seem to be dying down any time soon. Captain America: Civil War blasts into theaters as the third installment of the very solid Captain America series, and the 'I lost count' addition to Marvel's cinematic universe. As expected, the film packs in a lot of material. And for the most part, it's a wonderfully satisfying crowd-pleaser.

Opening amidst a rapid fire chase and street fight sequence, the team is back at it: Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). They dismantle the bad guys, but in the process there's an unfortunate explosion. Afterward, the government comes down on the Avengers in regard to the innocent casualties of their plight for the greater good. This creates major conflict between the squad, and especially propels the highly anticipated rift between Captain America and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.).

We have some newcomers here too, including Chadwick Boseman as the swiftly cool Black Panther, and Tom Holland as Spider-Man (another one), who adds some fresh and naive babyfaced nerdism to the ensemble. Recent recruit Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) carries over the everyman awe and spunkiness from his solo film, and he's a great burst of humor. Then there's the returning Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan)--still brainwashed and caught between it all, while also playing a very significant role in this story.

Even with the abundance of characters, the film surprisingly never feels too messy or over-bloated. Sure, you might be wishing for some more screen time from certain heros, but the multi-plot leaves a lot of room for them to each get their shine on. It also helps that this thing is nicely paced and constructed, gliding together relatively smoothly even given its 150 minute runtime--unlike another big screen comic book battle from this earlier this year, Batman v Superman (you knew it was gonna come up).

Compelling and meaningful, Civil War earns our investment into its fights. (Although if you haven't been keeping up with these franchises, it's probably just a bunch of stuff flying around and pounding each other.) The highlight setpiece of the film is an extended showdown at an empty airport, where all (and I mean ALL) the characters spectacularly go head-to-head. It's a giddy and well-executed scene that boasts a smorgasbord of diverse powers uniting and clashing. The stakes don't necessarily feel like an ultimate life or death situation (which is fine), but it's a rumble that's a whole lot of quippy and exuberant fun anyway. Shouts out to the Russo Brothers for pulling this together.

If you've been along for the entire ride of this film series, it's difficult to witness former comrades (and friends) Captain America and Iron Man seriously go at each other. But they both strongly represent an age-old weighty moral dilemma, and it also makes for a pretty dang good blockbuster.

* 8.7/10 *

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

[Review] Keanu

Sketch comedy sensations Key & Peele make the leap to the big screen with their first (and hopefully not last) feature, Keanu. It might sound crazy, but believe me when I say that this film is like a mashup of Scarface and Homeward Bound.

Rell (Jordan Peele) is down in the dumps after a recent breakup. One day, an adorable little kitten shows up at his doorstep and saves him. He names the precious furball Keanu (a sly reference to the action flick John Wick, in which Keanu Reeves annihilates a bunch of criminals who killed his dog). When Keanu goes missing, Rell and his uptight best bud Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) are led to a gang boss who goes by Cheddar (played greatly by Method Man). From here, Clarence and Rell are sucked into a wild chain of events involving mistaken identities, an unfortunately named strip club Hot Party Vixens (HPV), drug deals gone wrong, and ruthless shootouts.

Seeing a hardened Method Man lovingly holding a tiny little kitty is worth the price of admission alone. It's also amusing to watch Key & Peele pretend to be stone cold assassins, only to nervously fret as they get deeper and deeper into their dirt. It's even funnier to think it's all over a cat. (To be fair, the cat is worth it.) Other hilarious highlights include Will Forte doofily playing a weed-dealing wanksta, and a coked out Anna Faris partying in her Hollywood mansion. Early in the film, Peele takes glorious calendar photos of Keanu recreating movie scenes from Mad Max: Fury Road, Point Break, and The Shining, to name a few. I want that calendar.

The laughs aren't always consistent, and some scenes stretch longer than they need to, but there's still enough humor to embrace this thing. Yes, it's ridiculous. And yes, a lot of the plot is driven by farcical coincidences, but what were you expecting form a movie whose promo poster is a kitten rocking gold chains and a bulletproof vest? The soundtrack is awesomely fitting too, boasting booming anthems from the likes of Kevin Gates and Future.

I'm definitely looking forward to whatever these guys come up with next.


Monday, May 2, 2016

[Review] Green Room

A group of scrawny punk rock kids fighting their way out of a club full of neo-Nazis? Sir Patrick Stewart playing the villain? It's lit.

Green Room has been generating amp feedback for a while now, and it's finally gotten a fairly wide release. The film is the third feature from Jeremy Saulnier, the buzzing director of 2014's grisly Blue Ruin. And it's safe to say that this vicious thriller delivers on its promises.

Anton Yelchin and Alia Shawkat ("Arrested Development") play in a struggling hardcore band. They don't have enough gas money to make it home from their tour, so they desperately book a show in the backwoods--at a warehouse run by skinheads. Shortly after The Ain't Rights (that's their band name) set, they witness a murder backstage. When the venue's employees attempt to cover up the crime by calling in their menacing leader (played by Stewart), a hostile standoff ensues, and things go from bad to worse to frighteningly insane.

This film is quite frankly the epitome of "Well, that escalated quickly." It's a tense and brutal experience, not for the queasy or faint of heart. There's a lot blood here. Knives, bullets, and teeth penetrate flesh and bones, and it comes with gnarly close-ups of the aftermath. A point of no return arrives where Green Room aggressively delves into a helter-skelter war zone and fully embraces the carnage, even ushering in some slasher flick, "last one standing" vibes. Blue Ruin came with a lot of savagery, but that almost seems restrained compared to this.

The harsh ugliness is exquisitely framed with careful display of rich detail and brooding low-key lighting. A motif of fittingly green hues fill the screen throughout the duration (I wonder if Saulnier's next film will entail Red 'something'?). There's actually the slightest edge of self-aware humor to the tone, sort of in the same way that Tarantino or even the Coen Bros can pull off such hideous violence with a wink. My only wish is that Patrick Stewart's character had done a bit more than bark orders, but I suppose the guy didn't really need to get his own hands dirty. So it's not a major complaint.

Green Room might just be the most intricate, over-the-top warning about hitting the road as an amateur punk band.... Or simply that neo-Nazis are the worst. That seems more accurate.

* 9/10 *