“The Neon Demon” Review

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The Neon Demon (2016)

 “Beauty isn’t everything. It’s the only thing, says Roberto Sarno inThe Neon Demon. Director of this movie, Nicolas Winding Refn, seems to have taken this statement close to heart, and crafted a film where visual beauty is, indeed, the only thing worth paying any attention to, seemingly forgetting that, in film-making, visual representation is never the only thing that counts. Refn (also director behind critically-acclaimed “Drive” (2011)) is now here also the writer, and his story is about Jesse (Elle Fanning), an underage aspiring model, who comes to LA to try her luck in show-business. After gaining initial success, Jesse realises that the climb to the top is thornier than she had previously imagined it to be, especially when a group of fellow models start to covet her natural attributes and instantaneous success. Despite its outstanding visual effects and a promising premise, “The Neon Demon” is preposterous and misguided, that kind of a film which one can easily stop watching half way through, never really caring about the ending.

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Film vs. Book: M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village” & M. Peterson Haddix’s “Running Out of Time”

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 The Village is a 2004 film directed by M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense” (1999)), and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt and Bryce Dallas Howard. The film tells a tale of a 19th century village whose inhabitants live in constant fear of some creatures that start to terrorise the village population. One of the protagonists of the movie is a blind girl named Ivy. Although the movie is not as bad as critics claim and its soundtrack is absolutely beautiful, it has a needless array of well known star-actors involved, which is distracting. Running Out of Time is a hugely popular 1996 book by Margaret Peterson Haddix for young adults about a young girl (Jessie) in a 19th century village who is send on the mission to town to look for medicine to cure a diphtheria epidemic in her village. 

Even though the plots of both “The Village” and “Running Out of Time” are different, there are considerable similarities between the two. The ways in which the book and the film are similar speak volumes when one considers the most important things of both: “Running Out of Time” book’s narrative and “The Village” film’s final plot twist.

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Mini-Reviews: “The Others” & “The Orphanage”

Although there are six years separating the movies and they have distinct plots, “The Others” and “The Orphanage” have things in common, such as a Spanish production and a near-perfect execution.

The Others PosterThe Others (2001)

The Others” is a ghost horror movie directed by Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar, and becoming the first film in history to receive the very prestigious Spanish Goya Award in the Best Picture category for a film where not a line was spoken in Spanish (IMDB).“The Others” tells of a single mother Grace (Nicole Kidman) who, together with her two small children, Anne and Nicolas, lives in a remote house in Jersey just after the WWII. The household has changed a number of servants, and welcomed the arrival of the three new ones: Mrs Mills, a housekeeper, Edmund Tuttle, a gardener and Lydia, a mute girl servant. After the servants’ arrival, the mother and her children start to detect intruders in their home, who sometimes leave very surprising traces.

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“The Conjuring 2” Review

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The Conjuring 2 (2016)

<<This review may contain implicit spoilers>>

13 November 1974: the killing by Ronald DeFeo Jr. of his family in Amityvile, New York. This is one of the most known investigative cases of Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), a famous couple of paranormal investigators. However, this time the event takes place three years after, in 1977, in the London Borough of Enfield, UK: a working-class family is plagued by the mysterious happenings in their house: tappings, strange voices, broken toys, flying objects…and, young Janet Hodgson (11) (Madison Wolfe), unwittingly becoming the “focus” of their home’s evil spirit. Basing the film on a true story and being supported by a very talented cast, director James Wan once again shows that he is the director to be reckoned with when it comes to the modern film industry’s traditional horror genre.

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“Tale of Tales” Mini-Review

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Tale of Tales (2015)

**SPOILER ALERT**

Directed by Matteo Garrone, best known for his raw crime drama Gomorrah (2008), “Tale of Tales” or “Il Racconto dei Racconti” is a fantasy horror film which comprises three main stories seemingly running in parallel. The first story starts with the Queen (Salma Hayek) and King (John C. Reilly) of the kingdom Longtrellis, desperately wanting a child but who are unable to have one, thereby resorting to extreme clandestine measures of killing a sea monster and consuming its heart to have a son, whose identical twin is also the son of a servant woman. Another story tells of the King of the kingdom Highhills (Toby Jones) arranging a tournament to wed his only daughter Violet (Bebe Cave) by making participants guess the large creature whose skin is on the display – the skin is that of a flea. The third story centers on two elderly sisters who live calmly away from the public eye only for their peace to be shuttered when one of the sisters becomes bewitched and transformed into a young beauty (Stacy Martin) who, in turn, becomes the centre of affection for the lustful King of the kingdom Strongcliff (Vincent Cassel).

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“The Witch” Review

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The Witch (2015)

“The evil is closer to home than you think…but you will have to wait for it.”

The Witch” is a new horror movie by director/writer Robert Eggers. Hailed as unconventional, but totally haunting and compelling by critics, it tells the story of a family of seven living in 1630s in New England. The family leaves their community to pursue independent living, but find a lot of hardship along the way, largely caused by supernatural powers. Although the picture has tons of things to brag about, its muddy premise, that largely relies on borrowed ideas, and unexciting horror thrills, make the movie a cinematic experience that is unconvincing and unsatisfying, although very admirable in its realism, style and presentation.

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“The Neon Demon” Trailer

The Neon Demon” is this year’s contender at the Festival de Cannes; Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (“Drive” (2011)), the movie also stars Elle Fanning and Keanu Reeves.

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