Léon: The Professional

Emmy says:
A strangely romantic movie of corruption and killing. Highly enjoyable with simple costuming and nuanced acting. 8/10.

Jeff says:
I have always remembered this movie fondly – even affectionately. There are moments that are now more uncomfortable to watch than they were in 1993, but it is still a brilliant film. Jean Reno is at his best, and for a debut performance Natalie Portman was incredible. Danny Aiello and Gary Oldman are also superb – Oldman’s disturbed villain is rightly praised. The soundtrack was fantastic. This is how I found out who Luc Besson was, and why that mattered. 8/10.

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Train to Busan

Emmy says:
A great piece on parenting that’s full tilt and relentless. The physical acting is outstanding on top of inspired interpretations of the mob instincts. Magnificent direction with powerful emotions. 10/10.

Jeff says:
Wow, this movie was incredible. A tight, well-told, effective zombie film that doesn’t rely on cheap jump ‘scares’. The main characters are relatable and realistic – some clever decision making and some noble efforts (as well as some believable decisions that were less admirable from other people). Decisions and sacrifice had weight and meaning, and the film does not let anyone seem safe. The way the zombies were realised was something to behold. A must-see. 10/10.

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Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

Emmy says:
A creative angle on serial killers with a documentary in progress. Loved the creepy awkwardness that pops up now and then. Very enjoyable for a low budget film. 8/10.

Jeff says:
This film was recommended by a fellow Patreon of Ryan Hollinger as a ‘Cabin in the Woods’-esque deconstruction of horror tropes. Given the disparity in budget, it’s for good reason this film doesn’t really stand up against the other. For what it was though, and the sub-70k budget it had, it was artfully done. Relying on the ‘college student film’ conceit to cover for the low-budget work, this movie both played into and subverted expectations. Nothing really new, but it was creative. The only problem I really had was the much better filmed “not documentary” parts. That they existed at all spoiled the effect for me. If you’re going to do ‘through the lens’ you really need to do it for the whole story. 8/10.

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A Million Ways to Die in the West

We didn’t manage 100 movies before we moved … so we decided to start our movie watching in our new house with another number.

Emmy says:
A light-hearted laugh with some great lines. 7/10.

Jeff says:
As is almost expected with Seth Macfarlane, the comedy is a little hit and miss. Some of the jokes were quite funny while others were cringe-inducing. Otherwise a nice little film that tries to be Blazing Saddles but doesn’t even quite manage City Slickers. Fun, but disposable. 7/10.

IMDb

Submergence

100 Movies before we move: #69

Emmy says:
Amazing scenery and emotional acting. A love story of separation and the unknown. 8/10.

Jeff says:
I don’t know how I feel about this film – the scenery was gorgeous, the acting was on point, the characters and situations were engaging … but there was no resolution. I guess it was a tale of longing? Two people, who are used to being solo operators, meet and fall for each other … what happens when their solo lives cut them off from each other? It’s hard to know what the message (if any) was here, and that makes it harder to like it more. 7/10.

IMDb

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

100 Movies before we move: #68

Emmy says:
I’m stunned. First time watching any of this franchise. The practical effects are brilliantly executed, the story is well constructed, the creepiness is restrained and I believe more effective because of this. No wonder this movie spawned a franchise. 10/10.

Jeff says:
Wes Craven was a genius. This movie does an excellent job of making it believable that someone might not realise they were dreaming … until it’s too late. The effects are incredible for its time, and aren’t too bad against today’s films for its budget. While some elements seem cliché, that’s because they started here and were copied. 10/10.

IMDb

The Haunting (1963)

100 Movies before we move: #67

Emmy says:
I feel like the film was built on an elaborate set. The acting was wooden and the internal monologing overbearing. A great piece of door work in the later part of the film. 6/10.

Jeff says:
The novel by Shirley Jackson is hard to adapt faithfully – this movie does a admirable job (only minor changes to the scenes that are included, as far as I can tell, but a lot was left out) and this is unfortunately its downfall. Variations on the theme (like the recent Haunting of Hill House on Netflix) are more able to capture the supernatural horror. The screenwriter apparently saw this story as an exploration of mental illness and that might have worked – except the others heard things too. Unfortunately, trying to be both supernatural thriller and mental illness drama, it failed to do either well. Still, this movie is a horror classic, it had fantastic sets and some good tension. 7/10.

IMDb

Gaslight

100 Movies before we move: #66

Emmy says:
The silk over steel voice of Gregory’s calculated manipulation of Paula is horrifying. The emotional displays from Paula are gut wrenching. The events in this film are a horrible beauty, amidst gorgeous settings and exquisite costumes. Truly a marvel that stands the test of time. 10/10.

Jeff says:
There’s a reason the term ‘Gaslighting‘ is named after this story. The performances in this version are incredible: Ingrid Bergman’s Oscar-winning portraying is captivating; Charles Boyer is creepy and insidious. This is not a comfortable film to watch, but it is a work of art. 10/10.

IMDb

The First Purge

100 Movies before we move: #65

Emmy says:
Excellent use of smoke and blood splatter in combat. Creative contact lenses with the different colours to show the active participants. The political angle was too strong and the psychological angle too shallow. Fun movie with an epic final act. 9/10.

Jeff says:
This series gets better with each movie. While the political machinations become less allegorical, it still manages to engage with the characters and impressive set pieces. This movie could be described as ‘Escape from New York’ turns into a junior ‘The Raid’ and be underselling how well it does. An excellent cast does well setting the stage for what was to come (in the first three movies). 9/10.

IMDb

The Purge: Election Year

100 Movies before we move: #64

Emmy says:
Really enjoyed the religious aspect to this film. I’m glad this idea is being explored in multiple directions. Less gore and more costumes, including gold plated firearms. 8/10.

Jeff says:
The first film was a home invasion story; the second was a urban war zone. This film zooms out further to be a religio-political action thriller. This series does an excellent job of showing the problem with people expecting to “get theirs”. When everyone is out for their rights, and not thinking of their responsibilities to society, it breaks down. All too scarily real. As much as I like political thrillers, this one lagged a little. The series is about the day itself – the more than it’s outside that 12 hours the harder it is to maintain tension. 7/10.

IMDb

The Purge: Anarchy

100 Movies before we move: #63

Emmy says:
A much better exploration of the core idea. Good suspense and emotional turmoil. 8/10.

Jeff says:
Swapping the home invasion scenario for the urban war zone paid-off. It helps having a bigger budget. Good background and world building while maintaining the gritty realistic action. Some of the thoughts I had in the first film, about what people might really do (not everyone just wants to kill for the fun of it) was actually explored here, which shows the filmmakers are thinking about what they’re creating. I’m now looking forward to the rest of this series. 8/10.

IMDb

The Purge

100 Movies before we move: #62

Emmy says:
Brilliantly sinister, Rhys Wakefield is a marvel to watch. Nice gore effects, weak storyline. 7/10.

Jeff says:
This is a movie (and franchise) I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch. I’m not a fan of gore and jump scares for their own sake (I want something more intelligent) – and that’s the sort of thing I’ve associated with Blumhouse. With recent offerings like Happy Death Day and Get Out I’ve been re-evaluating – and this movie has received a lot of praise in some quarters.

While, at heart, a home invasion film (with good effects for the budget) there’s a larger story that is both very intriguing and at the same time under-served by this film. If there’s going to be a bigger story then it needs to be more than a framing device at the start and end. Then again, that’s also what the sequels are for. Good acting, good action, let’s see what the rest of the series is like. 8/10.

IMDb

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