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10 Great 2019 Movie Performances No One Talks About

2019 has been a truly excellent year for cinema, and even those disillusioned with Hollywood’s corporate culture have an excellent array of incredible films to choose from this year. As the end of the decade nears, it’s clear that there are more great and impassioned artists working than ever before in the history of filmmaking, and it’s exciting to see the great performances that have appeared in 2019’s films.

There are many reasons why performances get under looked. Sometimes a film is just underseen and hasn’t received enough attention, and sometimes a performance is misinterpreted or judged on the merit of the film itself, and not the actor’s work. There’s also films that feature so many great performances that some get under looked, or brief roles that have a small, yet potent impact on the film’s story.

Here are ten great performances from 2019 films that no one is talking about.

 

10. Riley Keough – Under the Silver Lake

Under the Silver Lake may be the most divisive film of 2019, with some claiming that it’s a bold masterpiece that dives head first into Old Hollywood corruption and the seductive nature of conspiracy theories, and others describing it as a sexist, self-indulgent, and frustrating mystery with an unsatisfying conclusion.

Since the film debuted last year at the Cannes Film Festival, Andrew Garfield has been praised for his role as the creepy rascal Sam, but the reviews haven’t given enough credit to Riley Keough’s performance as Sarah, the girl who Sam becomes obsessed with. While it’s a brief role that bookends the film’s beginning and end, it’s instrumental in starting the narrative and giving Sam a reason to embark on his crazy quest.

When Keough first appears on screen she appears as a dreamlike figure to Sam, imitating the mannerisms of Old Hollywood movie stars and convincingly enchanting Sam with her presence. While her performance primarily exists as the epitome of all that Sam desires, Keough is able to bring agency to the character, particularly in the film’s closing scenes in which the two share a tender moment and reflect on how little they actually know about each other. Not quite the typical femme fatale and more than a damsel in distress, Keough is the heart of Under the Silver Lake and finds a sincerity within the distress and chaos of the film’s crazy plot.

 

9. Zac Efron – Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile isn’t a great film, but the casting of Zac Efron as Ted Bundy is unexpectedly perfect. The film primarily chronicles Bundy’s crimes from the perspective of his longtime girlfriend Liz Kendall (Lily Collins) who is convinced that he isn’t guilty, so the actual murders themselves are rarely shown on screen. Instead, the film focuses on the con that Bundy pulls on those that trust him and how he utilizes the media circus to paint himself as a charismatic teen idol. This perspective allows Efron to weaponize his own status as a celebrity and sex symbol, and in turn give a chilling performance.

The ease with which Bundy is able to gain people’s trust is well-handled, as he shows up at just the right moment for Liz to unload her problems upon him and seems to be understanding and sympathetic to her issues. Efron is able to put on the persona of an innocent man, but his infatuation with attention and questionable emotional responses foreshadow the truth behind the perfect man he’s pretending to be.

While there isn’t quite enough time dedicated to showing Bundy before he’s accused of any crimes, this is an issue with the script and Efron does his best with what he’s given. It’s a transformative performance that marks a new stage in Efron’s career, and shows a great deal of self-awareness and riskiness from the former Disney star.

 

8. Ray Liotta – Marriage Story

Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, and even Alan Alda all have received heavy awards buzz for their performances in Noah Baumbach’s excellent divorce drama Marriage Story, but one person that hasn’t received his just praise is Ray Liotta, who has a pivotal role as Jay, the ruthless attorney for Driver’s character Charlie.

Jay’s appearance in the film marks a major turning point for the story, as a desperate Charlie realizes he must use more drastic measures to win the custody case when his wife Nicole (Johansson) employs an equally ruthless divorce attorney (Dern). Jay convinces Charlie that if wants to win the case, he must paint Nicole as incompetent and neglectful.

Liotta broke out in 1990 with his iconic performance in Goodfellas, but since then he hasn’t received the caliber of roles that reflect his talent. With Marriage Story Liotta is able to once again play a morally dubious character who takes advantage of the vulnerable people around him; in his introductory scene, Jay preps Charlie for the upcoming legal battle with the gravity of someone preparing for war, and seeks to further escalate the fragile divorce hearings into a dirty and psychologically damaging debate that shatters the lives of Charlie and Nicole. While the rest of the cast is rightfully praised for their extraordinary work, Liotta’s contribution to the film shouldn’t be overlooked.

 

7. Himesh Patel – Yesterday

The collaboration between director Danny Boyle and writer Richard Curtis proved to be successful one with Yesterday; Boyle is always able to find intimacy within his characters, and Curtis is renowned for his witty, heartfelt dialogue. At the center of this odd fantasy where The Beatles never existed is Jack Malik (Himesh Patel), a down on his luck singer-songwriter who takes advantage of this situation and introduces the world to the iconic songs. Jack receives significant fame, but in his heart he just wants to share music with the world, and it’s this sincerity that makes him such an endearing character.

In the role of Jack, Himesh Patel gives a breakout performance. While Jack is humble and is victim to a series of misfortunes, he also has to be a dynamic and engaging stage performer, and Patel delivers beautiful covers of many of The Beatles’s best songs. Even if Jack loses sight of the most important things in his life, he doesn’t use fame to fuel his own narcissism, and Patel is able to make Jack flawed, yet not fall into the stereotypical category of characters swept up by their own success. Even in the film’s cornier moments, Patel’s hapless nature is endearing. Clearly, it’s a performance that resonated with people, as Yesterday was a surprise box office hit, and Patel will next be seen in the new Christopher Nolan film Tenet.

 

6. Asier Etxeandia – Pain & Glory

Antonio Banderas won the Best Actor trophy at the Cannes Film Festival for his performance in Pedro Almodovar’s latest masterpiece, and while Banderas is phenomenal as the fictitious film director Salvador Mallo, Asier Etxeandia is also great as Mallo’s former collaborator Alberto Crespo.

With obvious allusions to Almodovar’s own life, Pain & Glory follows the reunion between these two men as they embark on a special screening of a film they made thirty years prior. Salvador and Alberto are still at odds with each other over creative decisions made on the film, and it’s humorous to see how their bitterness still exists after all this time.

Seeing these two come to terms with their initial quarrel and spend more time getting to know each other is interesting, and in one of the best scenes in the film they once again start fighting after Salvador insults Alberto when introducing the film. While the film is told from Salvador’s perspective, it’s Alberto who once again fuels his creative process, inspiring Salvador to confront his childhood memories and turn them into a new story.

It’s a film about a great artist looking for meaning in their work, and Salvador would not be able to find solace in his new stories if it weren’t for Alberto’s support. Etxeandia is much more than a comic sidekick, but an integral part of Almodovar’s vision of how the creative process works.

10 Great TV Shows That Should Be Made Into Movies

TV shows and movies, as entertainment mediums, are often compared but have some innate differences. By nature of the format, television are episodic, telling a new story every week. While the characters and overarching plot arc are consistent across the series, each episode has its own conflict and resolution. This not only allows for very complex plots but also fleshed out character progression and a stronger connection with the audience.

Based on these characteristics it may seem like almost all stories would be better off as shows than movies but there are several other factors to consider. The simplest reason is that not all stories need to be that long. More doesn’t always mean better, especially in storytelling. Some shows have great concepts but overstay their welcome and eventually grow dull.

Another issue is that, as the series goes on, it can become overly complex and won’t satisfyingly wrap up all the loose ends (*cough cough* Game of Thrones). The biggest drawback to the format, unfortunately, is the financial and organizational structure where the showrunner has to contend with the TV station input and can ultimately be cancelled before the story is over.

Shows have been getting the movie treatment for decades with huge variation in quality. Many of them are simply cash grabs by studios to tap into nostalgia and the existing fanbases. There are numerous of these, Bewitched, CHiPs, Charlie’s Angels, to name a few, that have taken successful series and delivered empty rehashes of the concept. Plenty of them, however, have offered fresh takes on solid concepts, and in some cases have exceeded the reputation of the source show entirely, like the Mission Impossible series.

The following ten shows are some that, for various reasons, would thrive if given the chance at a film incarnation.

 

10. The Six Million Dollar Man (1974 – 1978)

The 1970s had more fun television shows than any other era. Sure, they weren’t always the highest quality but the concepts were intriguing and were full of zany camp and thrilling action. The Six Million Dollar Man is maybe the definitive example of this style of show. Lee Majors stars as Col. Steve Austin, a test pilot who gets in a horrible crash, turned into a cyborg and put to work as a secret agent. Plots often surround kooky technology, political intrigue with Russian baddies and teaming up with the similarly gifted Bionic Woman.

Why it would make a good movie: It’s got all the makings of a modern action success: a great origin story, interesting premise and unlimited possibilities for story. This open slate, similar to the MIssion Impossible franchise, is more appealing to talented directors and writers who can come in and make it their own. The thematic material also allows for deeper exploration into the connection between man and technology a la Robocop or more recently Upgrade. Just maybe the filmmakers should stay a little on the serious side and avoid straying too far into camp, like the Wild Wild West remake.

Dream Directors: Christopher McQuarrie or Alex Garland, depending on if the focus is more on sci-fi or espionage.

 

9. Frisky Dingo (2006 – 2007)

Adam Reed and Matt Thompson, creators of the hit animated series Archer, started their television career on Adult Swim at its inception in 2000 with the hilarious show Sealab 2021.

Sealab was a clever parody of children’s adventure cartoons and after it ran its course they came out with Frisky Dingo, a parody of superheroes. The show revolves around a supervillain, named Killface, a giant bony monster, and his arch-nemesis/sometimes friend AwesomeX, a Batman parody. Like their other shows, Frisky Dingo’s best asset is its clever writing and colorful characters, but also has potential for action and social relevance.

Why it would make a good movie: Superheroes are much more relevant now than when the show aired, giving them much more content to work with. Parodies also tend to work better in shorter stints where the jokes can be boiled down to the best of the bunch. While a similar movie to this has been made already (Megamind), this take would be a more biting satire, similar to the comedy found in Deadpool. Frisky Dingo could fill a cult niche at a very relevant time for it’s subject matter, and with the Reed and Thompson currently writing better than ever, could be a hit

Dream Directors: Adam Reed and Matt Thompson would need to be involved in the writing. Maybe veteran directors of fun superhero films like Matthew Vaughn or James Gunn would be a good fit.

 

8. Nip/Tuck (2003 – 2010)

Medical drama mixed with crime show, Nip/Tuck combines the two most popular TV formats into a unique program. It follows the practice of two hotshot plastic surgeons: Sean McNamara and Christian Troy. McNamara is a family man trying to keep his tumultuous career from shaking up his marriage, while Troy is a brilliant doctor but unpredictable womanizer. Together they not only conduct lots of controversial procedures, but soon get too involved in LA’s seedy underbelly.

Why it would make a good movie: The concept is unique with lots of intriguing paths for the plot to go. The two main characters, while not tremendously original in design, offer decent enough chemistry and, if written correctly, have potential to be interesting studies. The show itself is not incredible, especially when compared to some of its contemporary dark dramas. One of it’s main problems is that it overstays the longevity of such a plot, an issue that wouldn’t be present in a film.

Dream Director: Brian DePalma or Paul Schrader, especially if this was made in the 80s. Although both directors have gone down different paths since then, both are capable of handling thrillers with a modicum of sleeze.

 

7. Fantasy Island (1977 – 1984)

One of the most iconic shows of the era, Fantasy Island is a highly conceptual show, perfect for film adaptation. Ricardo Montalban plays the mysterious Mr. Roarke, proprietor of Fantasy Island. The only other main character across the series is Roarke’s diminutive sidekick Tattoo. For the shows seven season run, there isn’t much in the way of continuity or overarching plot from episode to episode, just a new story each week. The plots are all of the same basic make-up: people come to the island to live out their wildest fantasies. Often, they don’t turn out quite how their dreamers expect.

Why it would make a good movie: Each episode is essentially its own separate story anyway so a film would just be a stretched, more complex, iteration of one, maybe with a brief introductory segment. Finding a suitable Mr. Rourke might be a challenge, but outside of that the writer/director would have free reign to create their own collection of moral tales, perhaps tinged with the supernatural or an O.Henry-esque twist.

Dream Director: It’s such an open ended concept that any strong director could take it and run with it. Steven Spielberg would give a balanced approach. Tim Burton would make it his own dark world. Yorgos Lanthimos might give us something a little deeper/weirder.

 

6. Gargoyles (1994 – 1997)

The 1990s were a golden age for children’s cartoons, with many animators catering as much to kids as they did adults. The high watermark for these was the operatic, noir laced Batman: The Animated Series, but right below it ranks Gargoyles. The show is about a group of gargoyles, mythical beasts from ancient Scotland who find a home on the NYC skyline. When the sun is out they become trapped in stone but at night, mobilize and protect the citizens from crime and evil. Similar in concept to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but less goofy jokes and more Shakespeare.

Why it would make a good movie: There are many aspects of the show that make it more appealing today than when it came out. For one, the market for big budget creature features is bigger than ever, and can even gain critical acclaim. WIth this film’s dramatic literary influences, as well as possibility for big action, not to mention interesting lore, it seems like a home run if put into the right hands.

Dream Directors: The obvious choice is Guillermo Del Toro, whose had more success than anyone in this genre. James Wan would also be good to mix action and horror into a blockbuster.

10 Great Movie Endings That Are Endlessly Rewatchable

When you walk out of the movie theater or finish watching a film, the ending is obviously the most recent portion you’ve seen. Therefore, it is important not to waste those final frames and emotions left within the experience, or allow for the film to make a lasting impression.

Some films are quite magical when it comes to an end because it transcends the narrative, features a stunning scene, or closes out the film so perfectly it can’t be messed with. As a result, here are 10 film endings that are endlessly re-watchable for so many reasons. (And spoiler alert – this is a list about the ends of movies!)

 

1. Cinema Paradiso (1988) – The Cut Kissing Scenes

cinema paradiso

After Alfredo has passed away and left the now-successful yet wandering adult Salvatore a final message, we arrive at this scene. After learning so much about the backstory between these two and discussions on whatever you choose, make sure to love it. And getting away from the closed-minded town, Salvatore begins to watch some footage.

As the film is projected onto the screen, we quickly realize it is all the cutscenes the local priest made Alfredo take out over the years. Overwhelmed with emotion, Salvatore begins to cry with tears of joy and it’s hard for us not to as well. With Ennio Morricone’s score sweeping over the imageries of lust, sexiness, passion, and desire projected onto the screen, we might not feel the cathartic emotions of Salvatore but we feel the immense love for cinema.

If asked about Guiseppe Tornatore’s film, most people would mention the ending first. And with an ending that involves the love of cinema, the arcs of the problem that the main character is facing, and somehow magically combines the two, it stays with us after the credits have rolled.

 

2. All That Jazz (1979) – Bye Bye Love

All That Jazz

As Joe Gideon is literally on his deathbed, and the clichéd saying that your whole life flashes before your eyes is proven true, is true Bob Fosse fashion. Instead of a melancholic departure or abrupt ending in a hospital, the death scene set and sung to “Bye Bye Love” turns Gideon’s departure into a smashing musical number.

Drawing upon influences of artists, and in particular the filmmaker’s struggles with personal and professional situations, Fosse more or less adapted his own life for the film. Whether it be editing a film on a stand-up comedian, his recent ex-lover, or the rehearsal scenes with his women, it all ends beautifully in the finale. As the camera swoons and zooms with sounds zapping and clicking, we witness all the people in Gideon’s life, from the past, present, and future.

So how can a death scene be so joyous? Well, that’s part of Fosse’s magic and success as a stage and film director. It is a lengthy 10-minute scene but worth every second, and once it’s over, you immediately want to watch the finale again.

 

3. La La Land (2016) – Epilogue at Seb’s

After a time jump of five years, we see the two leads of Sebastian and Mia finally achieving their dreams but at the loss of each other. It’s hard not to contain some melancholy (which holds true to the film’s tone, no matter how high a jazz or musical scene could be) despite the success of their dreams.

As coincidence or perhaps fate plays apart, Emma Stone’s Mia walks into Ryan Gosling’s Seb’s and all of the emotions of that relationship come back into play. As Sebastian begins to play their tune, Damien Chazelle creates a flashback of what-could-have-been fantasy montage grounded in magical realism for our hearts to ache, dance, love, and mourn. Allowing Justin Horowitz’s score to soar above the imagery and pay homage to 1950’s Hollywood musicals ties the whole film together.

The scene can simply be watched over and over again due to pure craftsmanship involved and the powerful performances, as it closes out this amazing film. Chazelle leaves no emotion, narrative arc, or tune out of this montage, and it’s an ending to end the film perfectly.

 

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey – The Room

2001 A Space Odyssey

How do you follow the Star Gate sequence in Stanley Kubrick’s film? Well, after nearly 15 minutes of jump cuts, neon pre-computer saturated imagery, and haunting score, we arrive in a perfectly quiet and still room. We don’t know why the film is there and even after 51 years, we still haven’t figured it all out yet.

Set in a highly bright and meticulously detailed baroque room, we see Keir Dullea’s Doctor Bowman roam around the room with gazing curiosity. As the film unfolds and cuts, we go from Bowman as an adult to middle age to his death bed. Clearly time and space are unfolding in an unpredictable narrative before the giant black Monolith appears and the Star Child is born.

The scene sums up many of the film’s themes of space travel, exploration, and mystery in Kubrick’s style and tone. He even explained the film’s endings in a rare 1980 interview about what occurs (but won’t state here). Why? Because no matter how many times one watches the end scene, we are still as perplexed yet in awe at what is occurring from the opening scenes, or for the first time we experienced this film.

Kubrick was no stranger to nonconformist endings and he definitely delivered one of his greatest here.

 

5. The Third Man (1949) – Sewer Chase

the third man cinematography

Where is Harry Lime? With the Dutch angles with expressionistic noir elements and Anton Karas’s zither score, the sewer chase is as great of an ending as it can be. After Welles’ Lime finally appears and dominates the screen in his starring role, the mystery is still alive. So the audience is taken for a journey, as if they had not already been on one, through the sewage drains of Vienna post-World War II.

Every frame is perfectly composed and edited to perfection, but it’s the story of what will happen next is the true drive. Even on a second, third or tenth viewing, we simply go on this rollercoaster again. And it would be rude to not include the final still frame of Valli’s Anna walking coldly to and then away from Cotten’s Martins at the end. A final moment that is a different sort of chase completely atypical of the chase we just witnessed from the Viennese streets down to the sewer.

Carol Reed certainly built off of his previous noir and man-on-the-run outings, but he truly perfected it here to close out the decade with possibly the greatest final chase.

10 Movie Mistakes That Made The Films Better

Calvin Candie

Very often we hear about movie accidents, continuity errors, or actors breaking character in the final cut. This happens because (let’s face it), sometimes you can’t control everything, let alone control everything that’s happening when making a movie.

But sometimes these mistakes become assets to the movie and give it a unique turn. Here is the list of movie mistakes that made the films better:

 

10. Being John Malkovich – Hey Malkovich, think fast!

In this beautiful mind bending film made by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman, we get it all and we need no explanation. John Cusack discovers a secret tunnel that lets you enter John Malkovich’s brain and body, becoming him, enjoying what a man like John does on a daily basis.

As this activity becomes more regular on Cusack and everyone who knows about the tunnel, the famous actor himself gets involved.

There’s this one scene in which Malkovich sees the tunnel and completely freaks out, he starts walking the highway, then a guy throws a beer at his head shouting “Hey Malkovich, think fast!”, and the actor falls on the ground and shouts – in real pain – says Spike Jonze.

The thing was that they got some sneaked beer on the set, by the time the scene started filming, one of them was wasted. He ended up charging 700 usd for a day instead of a normal 100 usd an extra usually gets paid. The beer works great as a touch of hostility towards Malkovich, which works perfectly in regards of what he is feeling. Not a good day.

 

9. The Usual Suspects – The Line Up Scene

The Usual Suspects

Usual Suspects is one of the most successful movies of the 90’s. Gabriel Byrne, Benicio del Toro, Kevin Spacey, among others star in an extremely well-constructed thriller, which keeps you at the end of your seat for the whole hour and forty six minutes of it. (Keyser Soze!). However, there is one scene that was not pretended to go the way it went.

The Line Up Scene is an important one because it’s when the character introduces themselves. They are side by side in a suspects line.

As each of the characters says a particular sentence, they laugh, every single one of them. This wasn’t supposed to happen. It was a “serious” scene. The thing was, Benicio was having stomach problems, and couldn’t stop farting throughout the whole day. It makes the scene ten times better because opposed to just normal serious presentations, we get a glimpse of how well they know the police´s standard routine, and how little they are afraid of it. It’s one of the most celebrated scenes in the movie.

 

8. The Godfather – Luca Brasi’s Introduction

While filming the first Godfather movie, Francis Ford Coppola wanted a big, intimidating guy to play Luca Brasi. Luckily for Coppola, the set was visited by actual mobsters and their personal bodyguards. One of them was Lenny Montana, who got the part as Brasi just as Coppola saw him. He was a world wrestling champion, and a guy you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of.

The scene was simple: Meet Don Corleone and state his loyalty to him. But what ended up happening, is that Montana got so nervous around Brando, knowing he was a living legend. That he forgot his lines, and started mumbling.

Coppola saw this and loved it, to the extent that he filmed another scene in which Brasi is practicing what he is going to say to Corleone. This was a great decision (says Coppola) because it makes Brando’s character look more intimidating and powerful. For someone like Montana (who was huge) to be actually scared of the Don Corleone, was definitely an interesting take on it.

 

7. Easy Rider – Acid Trip

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Easy Rider, one of the most influential American movies of the 20th century happened in the spirit the film proclaims: improvising, making decisions on the go, and remembering to have a good time.

There’s a scene that starts in New Orleans on Mardi Gras. It’s the beginning of an acid trip for Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. To make this sequence, Hopper decided to give all of his filmmaker friends 16mm cameras, and let them record whatever they wanted.

They went out and did exactly that. Problem is, everybody was having a great time and not paying much attention to what was being recorded. Most of it was out of focus, over exposed and too jumpy. Story goes Hopper lost his temper and broke a guitar in camera man Barry Feinstein’s head.

On top of everything the film was exposed to sun light, which made it had light leaks. In the end Hopper decided to keep it, and it is one of the most celebrated and original scenes in the movie, going perfectly with the parade and the trip itself. It feels like as if the drugs kicked in little by little.

 

6. The Last Temptation of Christ – It’s accomplished!

the_last_temptation_of_christ

Based on the Nikoz Kazantzakis book, Scorsese’s controversial masterpiece stands as a different, radical interpretation of the standard biblical tale of Christ’s final days.

Towards the end, there is a scene in which Christ is nailed to the cross accomplishing the ultimate sacrifice for humanity. In this scene Willem Dafoe screams “It’s accomplished!”. Scorsese loved the second take and moved on. While getting ready to shoot another scene some camera man approaches him and tells him he, by accident, opened the filmed magazine, meaning there was probably a light leak on the film. Scorsese thought he had no time to re-shoot.

When he got back to New York he saw the take, there was indeed an Edge Fog, making the end of the scene full of flares and light leaks, colored red. Scorsese was delighted, “The Edge Fog became the resurrection of Christ, that’s cinema!”. Until this date it makes that particular scene feel more spiritual, full of light and maybe even the way heaven looks like, who knows.

6 Reasons Why “Midsommar” Is The Best Horror Film of The Year So Far

Midsommar follows the story of Dani and Christian, a couple who decide to travel to Sweden with their friends to attend a festival that only occurs once every ninety years. But once they arrive, events become stranger and stranger and soon they realise that everything is not as it seems within the seemingly idyllic Swedish village.

Midsommar, which is the second feature from director Ari Aster, was released in July. It earned $34 million at the box office against a budget of $9 million. Midsommar was well received critically, garnering much praise for its direction and performances. Yet in spite of receiving praise from critics, Midsommar has proved to be a divisive film amongst audiences.

With horror being one of the most popular genres, there is plenty of competition throughout the year for horror films. 2019 has so far seen the release of dozens of horror films, with films such as Us and The Hole in the Ground in particular garnering critical appraise. 2019 still has many horror film releases to come, with IT Chapter Two and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark looking to be incredibly popular with audiences. By the end of the year, there may well be a different horror film that merits the accolade of best of the year. But at this point in time, Midsommar is by far the best horror film of the year so far for various reasons.

 

1. It’s relatable

Beyond Midsommar being a horror film, it is also very much a film about relationships and at its core it is about a couple. Not only is about a couple, it is about a couple who are on the verge of breaking up, who are at odds with each other and who are struggling to remember why they were even together in the first place. Dani and Christian deeply loved each other at some point but now their relationship appears to be precarious and fraught with tensions.

Early on, we see Christian reluctant to answer his phone when he sees that Dani is calling him and we witness one of his friends urging him to break up with Dani. And it seems as though Christian may be about to break up with Dani when suddenly tragedy strikes, and they stay together. But whilst in some circumstances a tragedy would bring two people closer together, Christian staying with Dani feels more dutiful and perhaps even slightly bitter.

Regardless as to whether we ourselves have experienced this within a romantic relationship, we can all identify with the breakdown of a relationship with someone close to us – when you start to drift apart and conversation doesn’t flow as easily as it once did. There are also very relatable scenes between Dani and Christian’s friends. It is obvious that they know that her and Christian are having issues and that Christian has probably often complained about her.

It is also obvious that her presence is not always welcome in their group and some of them are merely tolerating her hanging out with them rather than actually enjoying her company. Getting on with your partner’s friends can often be a tricky terrain to navigate and Midsommar shows this really well – the uncomfortableness and almost too polite nature of these interactions.

Ari Aster actually wrote the screenplay for Midsommar after experiencing a difficult breakup himself and you can certainly see this in the central conflict between Dani and Christian. He has even described the film as “a breakup movie dressed in the clothes of a folk horror film.”

Basing the film’s central conflict around such an everyday and common issue that many of us have faced or will face makes Midsommar strangely down to earth and relatable. Even amongst the incredibly hard to watch horror that comes later, audiences are able to somehow see themselves in this film.

 

2. It’s unique

Pick a dozen horror films out to watch at random and straight away you will notice similarities – the settings are quite often night-time, the locations are dark, shady and creepy and it’s not unusual for the weather to be stormy or cold.

Then there is Midsommar. Midsommar’s setting is Sweden in the height of a hot midsummer and the horrors take place, not in the darkness of night or as lightning flashes across the sky, but in broad daylight. In daylight so bright and piercing that often the audience feels like they want to shade their eyes and then go and find a cold drink and some shade to sit in.

As well as its setting, Midsommar is unique in the way that it tries to scare its audience. It doesn’t use ‘traditional’ horror. There are no jump scares or scenes that make you want to cover your eyes and look away – at least not in the sense of being too frightened to watch. Instead the horror makes you want to cover your eyes because it is bloody and graphic, and it is almost too hard to conceive what you are seeing.

In modern cinema, horror films are often formulaic or the latest instalment in a franchise. In that way, audiences usually have a pretty good idea of what to expect and what type of scares to expect and this is why a film like Midsommar is so great – because the audience is left to watch intently to see how the film plays out with no preconceived ideas.

 

3. It showcases an exciting new filmmaker

Midsommar marks the second feature for filmmaker Ari Aster, whose directorial feature debut was last year’s Hereditary. Hereditary, which was also divisive in its own way, was met with praise from critics too. Both films were firmly in the horror genre and yet both films felt original and brought something new to the genre for audiences.

With this in mind, it marks Aster as a really exciting new filmmaker. Not only as a horror filmmaker but as an exciting new director whose next film audiences will no doubt eagerly anticipate or at least be curious to see what he comes up with next.

Aster became obsessed with horror films as a child, frequently renting them from his local video store and has talked about how he watched every horror film he could get his hands on. This passion for horror certainly shines through in his films and whilst Hereditary was an impressive debut, Midsommar definitely takes his filmmaking to the next level.

Midsommar, as with Hereditary, was written and directed by Aster and features cinematography from Aster’s long-term collaborator Pawel Pogorzelski. Midsommar is well written, as discussed previously Aster has put together a script that audiences are able to relate to and it is well directed. Midsommar is also elevated by incredible cinematography from Pogorzelski – in one scene, the camera follows a car along a long, vast road on the bottom of the screen until it eventually flips the entire scene on its head so that the car is now travelling on the top of the screen.

Interestingly, Aster has since mentioned that his next project may either be a “zonky nightmare comedy” or “a big, sickly domestic melodrama” which would take him away from the horror genre. Either way, Aster’s next film will be a film that audiences want to see and experience.

8 Reasons Why “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” Is One of Tarantino’s Best Films

Although Quentin Tarantino’s never been a prolific filmmaker (he’s directed nine features since 1992’s Reservoir Dogs, if you count the Kill Bill films as a single entry, which QT famously does), he’s certainly one of the most influential. His breakthrough second feature, the zeitgeist-defining 1994 tour de force Pulp Fiction has left a lasting impression on American cinema.

Arguably the most influential film of the 90’s, few movies have been as quoted, as cloned, or as dissected and debated as Pulp Fiction and yet, even after endless repeat viewings, this hard-hearted and half-joking gem never gets old.

Now with the release of QT’s hotly anticipated ode to Tinseltown finally in wide release, Taste of Cinema is here to excitedly announce that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood ranks with the director’s best work.

It may just be his most incidentally enjoyable, outrageously entertaining, and visually exciting work to date. Certainly this is top tier Tarantino and is destined to make many Best of 2019 lists come December. But until then, meander down these canyon roads, dip your toes in the Playboy Mansion pool, get in the queue for a matinee of Sharon Tate’s The Wrecking Crew, and inhale an LSD-dipped Red Apple cigarette.

This fairytale of the bright lights is a generous allowance from a dependable if indulgent director, proudly presenting us with a delighted dream from which many of us might awaken with a scream trapped in our throats.

 

8. One of QT’s strongest screenplays

Unraveling in 1969, just ahead of the New Hollywood movement that would forever alter the film industry, Tarantino’s latest film focuses on three forlorn characters; Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), a fading Western TV actor having a simultaneous midlife and identity crisis trying to make it in the movie business; Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), Dalton’s stunt double and BFF; and then most ill-starred of them all, Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), the real-life rising star whose life and career were cut short most tragically on August 9th, 1969, at the hands of members of the Manson Family.

Tarantino’s script, which echoes many similarly set multi-protagonist Hollywood parables (both All About Eve [1950] and Sunset Boulevard [1950] spring to mind), spends a great deal of time tackling egocentric celebrities and czars pawing their way into the hype and the glow of the limelight.

Atypical of QT his script is permeated with pulp culture references and his child-like adoration for the footlights. He loves the movies, the people who make them, and the city where so much of the entertainment industry spins their golden gossamer.

There’s also the romanticized offering of old-school glamour and glitz, an extravagantly ornate folkloric representation of the past, an almost hysterical fear of hippies, and with that the elusive but alarming threat of brutal bloodshed. Dotted amongst the erstwhile haze of Hollywood is QT’s excellently talkative pentameter and just as effective portents of ruin.

 

7. Los Angeles itself

It should come as no surprise that for Tarantino, who grew up in Hollywood, his illusory Los Angeles is as romantic as it is real. This film is that rare Los Angeles-set movie, like Rebel Without a Cause (1955), The Long Goodbye (1973), or Short Cuts (1993) with a real sense of place and relation. Hollywood is as much a character in this film as Booth, Dalton, or Tate.

So many LA-exclusive incidental delights populate the picture; the euphoria of speeding down the freeway with the top down; letting loose at swinging party at the Playboy Mansion, sauntering through the backlots of the big studios, spying stars at every junction; tiptoeing barefoot down Hollywood Boulevard with far-out hippies, basking in the glow of neon signs; bustling movie houses on every corner, lit up like bijous; in every direction the famous mingling with the huddled masses.

From Robert Richardson’s expert lensing, to Barbara Ling’s near perfect production design, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is packed with period details as vivid and tangible as possible.

 

6. The focus is on characters, not plot

In the post-Tarantino 1990s he coined the term “hang-out movie” to better capture what he was after with pictures like Jackie Brown, where plot takes shotgun next to spending time with indelible characters. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is more about the moments at the end of an era and the delighted and discontented people in those moments.

They’re all victims of circumstance, and while it may seem that the Manson family is forcing the narrative towards some final, fleeting exit, it’s still the observational character moments that define the film: Tate spends a honey of an afternoon at the movies, Booth and a charismatic hitchhiker (Margaret Qualley) end up at the Spahn Ranch where something unseemly has to be taking place, and Dalton makes a guest appearance on a TV pilot wherein he’s overthinking his avenue.

With this film we are presented with characters in a special and very specific place and time. Maybe nothing much happens over a few days in February but the play of light and the spatter of shadows suggest that summer and August in particular, hold something sadly significant and terribly, terribly wrong.

 

5. The devil is in the details; fun nods to Tarantino’s other movies

For Tarantino fans there are a wealth of nods and winks to his body of work throughout the film.

Characters constantly smoke Red Apple cigarettes, the fictional brand used throughout his films. And if you stick around for the credits (and you always should) your sides will ache during Dalton’s commercial and outtakes for Red Apples.

Also, for those paying close attention it’s revealed that Dalton makes some Spaghetti Westerns for one Antonio Margheriti, an alias used by Eli Roth’s Sgt. Donowitz in Inglourious Basterds (2009).

Additionally, the cast is a who’s who from Tarantino’s repertoire of regulars. Apart from DiCaprio and Pitt reteaming with QT, vets of his previous films like Zoë Bell, Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen, Monica Staggs, James Remar, and Kurt Russell appear in the film. Mr. Orange himself, Tim Roth also had a scene, but it was unfortunately cut from the film. Here’s hoping we’ll get to see it on the eventual blu-ray release.

The 10 Best Ambiguous Movie Endings of All Time

Ambiguity always stands among the necessary items in a filmmakers weaponry to captivate the audience’s attention. Throughout the history of cinema, spreading all the continents, Directors have tried to achieve this mythical quality in their films. In an expensive art like cinema, where the primary concern of the studio is to present the distinguishing quality in a clear, transparent way, this risky trait is celebrated for a special reason.

This is because ambiguity delicately presents the possibility of suspense-thrill and drama at the same time, where, in a successful attempt the viewers submerge to the film to an extent that they like to ponder about the film’s fictional world long after its end and tries to answer the posed questions in weeks. In this way, a film achieves the long-lasting effect of the short stories.

Now talking about thrills, this is not a cheap thrill, rather a subtle psychological manipulation by the filmmaker. With every passing second, the viewers try to expose the spider-web of confusion and enjoy an inexpressible thrill in that. Here comes the most challenging part for the filmmaker: placement of this ambiguity. If an ambiguous plot is integrated from the very beginning of the film, the viewers can bracket this as an experimental work which is not a great indication for the mainstream box office return.

The same risk factor counts for the middle placement. It is one of the prime examples of the Kuleshov effect in the film, to achieve the maximum impact. One solution is to make the ending ambiguous, as a successful amalgam will haunt viewers for a long time to come to a satisfactory conclusion. Without further ado, here are the best ambiguous film endings of all time.

 

10. Andhadhun (2018)

It is clear before “Andhadhun” reaches the halfway mark that the blind musician is playing bluff. He has good boy charms and antics and the story tells us that he is pretending to be blind to polish his piano skills, but he can also be a malicious person. The thrill starts from there, and the frequent punch of dark comedy makes it an exhilarating watch. His life takes a violent turn when his fake blindness is revealed and in consequence, he gets blind.

Only in the end, when he has learned to cope with his new blindness, a subtle unintended suggestion from his part tricks us into disbelief again. This stunning dark thriller from India is a delight to watch, and the great complex character study makes it an easy contender for the best ambiguities in life.

 

9. American Psycho (2000)

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The great American dream is severely attacked in the psycho horror “American Psycho”. Using the path “Fight Club” utilized, Patrick Bateman is depicted as a complex schizophrenic who has grown tired of the capitalistic lifestyle. He finds pleasure, an occasional relief by killing prostitutes, beggars, people who belong in the last stratum of society.

There is an equal chance that all these mishaps exist in Bateman’s tortured mind. His confession of killing people is refuted, the corpses from his home vanish suddenly and he sees some awkward message in the ATM. Again, in all possibility, He is a lucky guy, whose crimes are unacknowledged because of his social standing.

 

8. City Lights (1931)

city lights

The treatment of “City Lights” is tonally complete different from the films that insist on an ambiguous ending. There is no profound question lingering long after the film’s end. Chaplin made a simple film that mediates on the politics of normal life and subtly criticizes the social division. A tramp can’t fall in a girl who belongs to a greater position in the social ladder, yes, they can be mutually dependent on each other, provided one is blind.

We, As spectators, wish the girl to be an exception of the stereotypes, we want her to possess a golden heart and submit to the Tramp’s love. That’s why when in the end, she proclaims that she can see now, We take this as a happy ending because we crave for it. But real life is crueler, we don’t know what future waits for them. The ending is more ambiguous than which seems in plain sight.

 

7. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Pan's Labyrinth

Fairy tales are everlasting creations made to preserve the innocence of childhood through different people. They are especially useful at times of hardship when the real world is bleaker than ever. Ofelia, a young child in the time of Franco’s Spain embraced the fairy world to escape from the horror of life. The contrasting story here is of princess Moana, who was the princess of the dark world

. “Pan’s Labyrinth” is a fantastic fantasy film from Guillermo Del Toro using a dark, gothic environment and mythic settings. It is difficult to pinpoint if the alternative reality shown in the film is in Ofelia’s head or a real occurrence, only visible to the innocent eye. It is easy to denounce the alternative reality as Ofelia’s creation, but we can’t ever confirm having lost our innocence.

 

6. Certified Copy (2010)

Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy. From the time of the ford’s assembly-line production to today’s recreation of original artwork, authenticity has been largely compromised. Old schoolers believe in a world that is long forgotten or was never present in the physical world. Again, according to Plato, it is never possible to truly translate an idea to a physical medium.

“Certified Copy” argues the same: A replica of Mona Lisa is no more original than the first Mona Lisa painting. When a lady of blood and sweat is recreated in the artist’s canvas, it loses its essence. A new artwork emerges, but it is distinct from the original idea. Kiarostami’s character choices are deliberate here: an antique dealer and a prose writer. They are the members of a cafe society, where authenticity is generally sacrificed in the name of charm.

It doesn’t matter what is real, a marriage doesn’t need a stamp to certify chemistry. That’s why Kiarostami’s two protagonists suddenly behave like a couple regardless of their declaration of bachelorship. Or are they a real couple in disguise? The ambiguity is real.

The 10 Best Movie Performances of 2019 (So Far)

The year is half over and as expected, we already have some great performances to talk about. Many of those lay in independent films, arthouses but there are some performances in bigger films that deserve to get talked about. Some of these may be remembered at the end of the year by awards voters, and some will unfortunately be forgotten, but they all deserve a mention.

Since film distribution can vary from country to country, the films in the list are the ones that had their first theatrical release this year in the film’s country (or one of its countries) of origin.  That’s why you won’t see “High Life,” “Shadow” and some others while seeing some films that probably haven’t yet been released in your country. Here we go.

 

10. Matthias Schoenaerts – The Mustang

Matthias Schoenaerts – The Mustang

“If you want to control your horse, you’ve got to control yourself.” One of Sundance breakouts, “The Mustang” is a beautiful, quietly moving work directed by first-time director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre. It’s about the bond between a hardened prisoner and a wild horse.

The movie has somewhat of a predictable nature (well, maybe except that beautiful final shot) and comes up slightly short if you compare it “The Rider” of the previous year, but what makes this work is its honest portrayal of that aforementioned bond and character development.

Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts has been shining in movies since his 2011 breakout “Bullhead” and here he is terrific once again. Schoenaerts plays a prisoner who serves in a Nevada prison set against desert and mountains. He is placed in a rehabilitation program run by rancher named Myles (the excellent Bruce Dern) who assigns prisoners to train with wild mustangs.

It’s not a film full of dialogue and it doesn’t have a complex plot, but its poetic tone is involving enough. And Schoenaerts’ fully committed work makes the film even stronger. Even when his character is quiet and well-behaved, he vibrates with a dangerous energy that portends disaster. That had always been one of the strengths of Schoenaerts. He can play the sensitive man, and he can be menacing as well.

 

9. Olivia Wilde – A Vigilante

vigilante-review

Olivia Wilde always deserved somewhat of a better career. She gets some strong parts in independent movies from time to time and she has a very solid filmography overall, but her roles can be pretty thankless. This year, thanks to critical reception, she got a lot of attention for her surprisingly showy directing work in “Booksmart,” but most people unfortunately overlooked her great performance in “A Vigilante.”

From its title, you may expect some kind of “Death Wish,” but it’s a different kind of film surely to disappoint some, mostly because it’s not your average revenge movie and its pacing and tone might not be for everyone. It’s also a tough and uncomfortable watch for its subject matter.

As for Wilde, she goes through a serious transformation into a woman who suffered physically and morally for the very serious abuses she endured. She’s a lone-wolf vigilante who helps mostly female victims of abuse to escape using force and asks for almost nothing in return.

Wilde’s portrayal is incredibly effective. Her character often faces panic attacks and Wilde balances her character’s feelings in an impressive way. You may have watched and liked what she had done in “Booksmart” this year, but “A Vigilante” will remind you that she’s capable of doing so much more as an actress as well.

 

8. Mads Mikkelsen – Arctic

Joe Penna made his name on YouTube with a channel dedicated to music and short films. He has also shot commercials and for his first feature film debut, he chose himself the right actor.

Survival films can be a great acting showcase for their stars; Tom Hanks, James Franco, Liam Neeson, Robert Redford, the list goes on. Now Mikkelsen gets a chance to carry a whole film on his shoulders with a steel charisma, expressing the relentless tension of the suffering, anguish, and desperate perseverance of his character.

Those in search of an explanatory narrative will find no flashback on his past life, neither family photos nor a monologue in voiceover specifying the circumstances of the plane crash of which he was a victim, but his facial expressions speak more than any monologue would. He loses hope, he regains it, he uses all of his strength. “

Arctic” has some other strong things going on, most notably its setting and impressive cinematography, but if anything makes the film memorable, that’s definitely Mikkelsen’s commanding performance. You know nothing about him but he still manages to find so many layers in his character that it makes you feel involved. Absolute testament to Mikkelsen’s talent.

 

7. Isabelle Huppert – Greta

Isabelle Huppert – Greta

It may not be a great movie, but nevertheless, “Greta” offers some enjoyment for those who loved ‘90s stalker thrillers. It doesn’t go to unpredictable places much and the payoff doesn’t feel satisfying, but in general, it’s kind of fun.

Mainly because French legend Isabelle Huppert chews the scenery and it’s just fun to watch her. Huppert admits that she never “played a psychopath” before. Greta’s actions are so over the top that it eventually influenced how both she and Jordan handled the character in key moments.

In the scene where Greta plunges a fatal syringe into a man’s neck surrendering to the essence of evil, Huppert improvised and did the first thing that came to her mind: She danced. And things like that are what make the performance unpredictable and deliciously entertaining. No wonder the studio decided to release the restaurant scene as a promotional clip first.

One would wish the film would do even more with the character and since it was already over-the-top, they could go a little more camp with this and give Huppert more material to do so. That said, it’s still a wonderful work and a reminder of her impeccable versatility. An honorable mention should also go to Maika Monroe in a very fine supporting performance. She deserves to get better parts in the future.

 

6. Elisabeth Moss – Her Smell

Her-Smell-Trailer-Elizabeth-Moss

It may not be an easy film to watch for everyone, it can even be exhausting for some, but no matter what you’ll end up thinking of the film, most of the people can agree on one thing: Moss is riveting in it.

In the first three segments you feel like you’ve suddenly found yourself among the group of people you have no idea about. It makes it hard to relate, but Moss is such a force of nature that you can’t take your eyes off of her and you feel fascinated by her screen presence and raw performance.

The last act is more conventional; there’s one moment where she just sits and covers Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” and it may be one of the most haunting, gorgeous moments of the year. It takes a level of confidence that not many actors have to pull off a character like this. Absolutely exceptional work and something that we haven’t seen from her. Considering she was also brilliant in a scene-stealing turn in “Us” this year, it seems she’ll keep on amazing people with her versatility.

The 10 Best Jump Scares in Horror Movies

The horror genre employs a number of techniques to scare audiences, whether it be gore that makes us flinch, psychological chills that mess with our minds or playing on our deep, dark childhood fears. But one long standing technique used in horror is that of the jump scare. Not only is it an enduring aspect of the genre, but it is one of the simplest yet most effective techniques.

One of the greatest things about that jump scare is its ability to fit seamlessly into any subcategory of the genre. For example, jump scares are used in traditional horror films such as Halloween and Carrie, but they also work just as well in sci-fi horror such as in Signs and The Thing and even in dramas such as Mulholland Drive and Unbroken.

For some, the jump scare is seen as a rather crude and rudimentary technique, but regardless of whether audiences see it as a clever bit of filmmaking or a lazy one, it cannot be argued that jump scares work on the even the bravest and most unflinching audiences.

 

10. Candyman (1992) – The medicine cabinet

The film: Researching urban folklore and superstitions in the housing projects in Cabrini Green, Helen, a student from the University of Chicago investigates the legend of the Candyman who supposedly appears when someone looks in the mirror and repeats his name five times. But it is only after a mysterious man matching the Candyman’s description begins stalking her, that Helen begins to realise that the legend may be true.

The scene: Helen approaches the bathroom mirror and stares at her reflection. She opens the medicine cabinet and turns around, suddenly the Candyman’s hook crashes through the cabinet.

In this scene, the tension is built up in a way that suggests that something might happen but because of the focus on the mirror, it is expected that something will appear in the mirror. So when the hook crashes through the actual cabinet, it is an effective jump scare.

Trivia: The bees that feature in Candyman were real and bred specifically for that purpose, only twelve hours old so their stings were less powerful. Tony Todd allowed his face to be covered with bees and to have bees put into his mouth. Overall, he was stung twenty-three times. But it wasn’t all bad, as his lawyer had negotiated a contract where he was paid a bonus each time he was stung – a thousand dollars a sting.

 

9. Friday the 13th (1980) – Jason in the lake

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The film: Camp Crystal Lake is reopened many years after being cursed by terrible events. Although the cautious locals warn against it, a group of young counsellors decide to stay at the deserted summer camp. Soon they find themselves in a fight for their lives as they are picked off one by one by a crazed murderer.

The scene: Finally, it seems as though Alice is headed towards safety, as she drifts towards the policemen on a canoe. Raising her head, she looks at them in relief. When suddenly, Jason appears from the depths of the lake and drags her under.

Lulled into a false sense of security, as the audience believes that the film is coming to an end and Alice is safe now, Jason suddenly appearing is both terrifying and shocking.

Trivia: The filmmakers never intended for this film to launch a franchise. Jason was only meant to be a plot device and it was never intended or thought that he would carry on his mother’s murdering ways and grisly work.

 

8. Jaws (1975) – Jaws appears next to Brody

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The film: When a woman is killed after going for a late-night swim, her remains cause Police Chief Brody to suspect that there may be a shark on the loose. However, the Mayor refuses to close the beaches, mindful of the roaring summer tourist trade. But after more victims are discovered, Brody teams up with a visiting ichthyologist and local fisherman to get rid of the dangerous predator once and for all.

The scene: As Brody churns the water, he shouts up to Quint when suddenly Jaws appears behind him.

In this scene, Brody is cleverly kept to the right of the frame but because his actions are otherwise mundane, we do not expect to suddenly see Jaws fill the left of the frame, causing a jump scare.

Trivia: The other jump scare scene in the film was not originally scripted. Director Steven Spielberg added it in because he “got greedy” after seeing the test audiences’ reactions to the above-mentioned scene.

 

7. The Exorcist III (1990) – The hospital scene

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The film: When a police detective starts noticing similarities between his current murder investigation and the crimes carried out by a murderer who was executed fifteen years ago, he soon discovers a man who claims to be the dead serial killer. Visiting the hospitalised mental patient, he begins to investigate how the two men may be connected.

The scene: We watch a long shot of the hospital corridor as a nurse checks a room and then comes out of it and locks it. As she walks away, suddenly a figure appears behind her and decapitates her.

Often cited as one of the scariest scenes in horror, this jump scare is so effective because it is so sudden and unexpected. It is also horribly violent.

Trivia: The film is based on the novel Legion by William Peter Blatty. It was decided that it would be called The Exorcist III for commercial reasons, even though it doesn’t feature any exorcisms. After principal photography, the misleading title was noticed, and producers decided to add in additional scenes in order to make the film more viable as a sequel to The Exorcist.

 

6. Poltergeist (1982) – The creepy doll under the bed

Poltergeist (1982)

The film: The Freelings live an ordinary life as your typical Californian family, until one night when strange and mysterious things begin to happen in their house. They are drawn to the television set, where ghosts begin to commune with them. At first the interactions are friendly but when the youngest daughter goes missing, the Freelings are forced to call in the help of an exorcist.

The scene: Robbie looks at the clown doll sitting at the end of his bed and throws a cushion at it, causing the bell on its hat to jingle. Settling down to sleep, he sits up again to see that the doll has moved. He looks around for it, and slowly looks under the bed on one side before carefully looking on the other side. As he sits up, the clown is behind him.

Another clever piece of misdirection as the scene is played out as though the doll will appear under the bed. When the doll appears behind Robbie, it is sudden and violent.

Trivia: This was Steven Spielberg’s first film as a producer. In the scene where the hands pull the flesh off of the investigator’s face in the bathroom mirror, the hands are Spielberg’s.

7 Reasons Why “Avengers: Endgame” Is The Best Marvel Film

“We’re in the end game now,” words which echoed in the ears of Marvel fans for months. This was it, not only was Endgame due to be one of the biggest films of all time, it marked a monumental occasion for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We had been building up to this moment ever since the release of Iron Man in 2008 and now the first three phases of the MCU were almost at their conclusion.

With twenty-one other films to choose from, the MCU has its share of great films – Infinity War was incredible, Guardians of the Galaxy is hilarious and Black Panther was even nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award, to just name a few.

No one can deny that the MCU boasts some awesome films, and everyone has their favourite. What makes an MCU movie good? What makes an MCU movie someone’s favourite over the other films? Of course, like all film, this is subjective. But Endgame certainly deserves to be considered as one of the MCU’s best for many reasons.

Note – there are major spoilers throughout, but let’s be honest – if you haven’t seen Endgame by now then you probably deserve to have it spoiled.

 

1. It does its characters justice

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has given us a plethora of great, quirky and three-dimensional characters. Everyone has their favourite, whether you are Team Iron Man or Team Cap, a fan of the Guardians or all about Ant-Man – audiences have come to be fully invested in these characters. As such, it was important for Endgame to not only be true to the characters, but to make sure that their stories were brought to an end in a way that was fitting.

Before Endgame was released, there was a lot of speculation about what would happen to the characters and in particular there was a lot of speculation about who would survive and who wouldn’t. In the end, many of the characters had survived and were reunited with their family and friends to fight on another day.

Three characters fates took on a slightly different path. Tony Stark and Natasha Romanoff lost their lives in the fight against Thanos, and Steve Rogers decided to go back and live in the past to live out his life with Peggy Carter.

Tony and Natasha’s deaths, though sad, did make complete sense within their character arcs. Tony, who had always felt like the father of the MCU, went through a classic redemption arc. He began as a cocky, ego centric and self-interested character. Though he fought for good, it wasn’t always clear cut that he would make the ultimate sacrifice if it came down to it.

As each film passed, he became more and more honourable and less and less selfish. He became a mentor to Peter and eventually an actual father to Morgan. So, it felt like the perfect bittersweet move that he would be the one that saved everyone. If Steve, like so many had believed would happen, had been the one to die saving everyone – then yes it would have made perfect sense for his character. But that was too obvious, too clear cut.

Steve has always been the hero, the epitome of a true superhero and so giving him his happy ending felt so well deserved. When it comes to Natasha, her character was always so loyal, and she was able to be tough and make the hard choices in a way that no one else could. Dying for the only family she’d ever known only went to prove further what an incredible badass she was. Just like we’d always known.

 

2. It has the perfect balance of action and emotion

Coming off the intense, action filled scenes of Infinity War, it would have been easy to think that Endgame would either be the same or would go too far the other way and be full of overly emotional and downcast scenes. But Endgame successfully managed to find a balance between the two, providing audiences with some awesome battles and action sequences but also delivering some real emotional gut punches. Not only that, but we also had the touches of humour that the MCU has come to be known for.

The best example of this perfect balance between action and emotion was arguably demonstrated in the final battle scene and then Tony’s funeral scene. If you look at both of these scenes side by side, they have poignant similarities. Both scenes feature the ensemble of characters coming together in a momentous moment, both scenes feature moments which will be quoted as defining moments of the MCU and both scenes evoke big reactions from the audience.

The battle scene is a fast-paced blur of action, fighting and awesome sequences of the characters using all their weapons and skills at their disposal. We see Thor, Captain America and Iron Man triple team Thanos, we see Spider-Man catch a ride with Valkyrie and Ant-Man punch a spaceship out of the sky, amongst many other things.

After that scene, which is filled with so many things to draw our eye and almost too much to take in, we have the complete opposite. Tony’s funeral is a deeply moving scene, it is slow-paced and calm. Now the audience can let the action sink in, and the emotion comes pouring through. Not many films can pull off such a great balance of tones, in a way that makes the film non jarring and watchable for the audience.

 

3. It’s the ultimate payoff to the previous films

After three phases and twenty-one previous films, the MCU has given us dozens of brilliant, jaw dropping and awe-inspiring moments. It has built a cinematic universe and a saga of individual stories, all of which have been playing into one overall story arc – the Infinity Stones.

When you have a momentous and long build up to something, then when it reaches its concluding part – expectations are really high, and the pressure is really on. Endgame had to simultaneously satisfy and achieve several things. Not only did it have to deliver an amazing film, it also had to conclude the story of the Infinity Stones and all the other character arcs that were due to close with this film.

If it could do this then it would be the ultimate payoff to all that came before it, and the ultimate payoff to the audience that had invested so much time and energy into it. And arguably, it did that and more, showing audiences that their time had been well spent and invested. It also brought several stories to a close in a satisfying way and left audiences eager to see what new stories the MCU would introduce with its next phase.

The 10 Most Important Occult Themes In “Twin Peaks”

When FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper arrived in Twin Peaks, his mission was clear: the homecoming queen, Laura Palmer, had been murdered and Cooper was there to crack the case. But the investigation that followed led him into a labyrinth of secrets lurking just under the surface of the small town, and those secrets often threatened to obscure his primary objective of solving the murder mystery.

As time passed, Cooper discovered that this hidden, or occult, side of Twin Peaks was in fact directly related to the visible events which had drawn him there in the first place. And so it is with all occult laws of nature: the mysterious and the inexplicable parts of life are governed less by magic and chance than by hidden sets of cause and effect which begin to turn the gears of visible events long before they become manifest.

It soon became obvious to any thoughtful viewer of Twin Peaks that its creators were lifting the veils off some topics not often tackled by primetime television, and the show explored these occult themes unapologetically. Though the work of David Lynch is filled with supernatural ideas, these ideas are often obscure and unnamed; his collaboration with Mark Frost on Twin Peaks brought a wonderful clarity to otherwise difficult concepts.

Co-creator Frost has made no secret of the influences which informed his pen while writing Twin Peaks, and the occult references are in fact quite easily apparent. In an August 1992 interview with The Independent, Frost admits “The whole mythological side of Twin Peaks was really down to me, and I’ve always known about the Theosophical writers and that whole group around the Order of the Golden Dawn in the late 19th, early 20th century—W.B. Yeats, Madame Blavatsky and a woman called Alice Bailey, a very interesting writer.”

Therefore, this list contains no imaginative speculation and requires no recourse to bizarre fan theories – the script and the creators of Twin Peaks speak for themselves. So, let us peer beneath the ostensible story of this legendary series to uncover the hidden elements which will clarify our own investigations.

Warning: Spoilers lie ahead for those uninitiated into the world of Twin Peaks.

 

1. The Black Lodge and evil societies

The Black Lodge featured prominently in Twin Peaks, which took care to give it a tangible presence and appearance. Hawk described it as “a place of dark forces that pull on this world. A world of nightmares.” Some residents of Twin Peaks were aware of “the evil in these woods,” where various evil spirits resided, and took active steps to combat it.Nevertheless, The Black Lodge remained an insidious force throughout the series, with glimpses of its nature being given during scenes featuring The Red Room.

The existence of Black Lodges is an important occult concept which has been given plenty of consideration by initiated authors. Perhaps most prominently, Black Lodges are discussed at length in the book Psychic Self-Defence, by Dion Fortune. Fortune was an occultist with ties to Theosophy in her early career, and her writings remain influential today.

“That’s right, that’s exactly where I got the Black Lodge from” answers Mark Frost when asked about the book during the previously mentioned August 1992 interview with The Independent. Fortune explains Black Lodges as sinister centers of influence where black magic is practiced by unscrupulous characters.

 

2. The White Lodge and Ascended Masters

Everything that The Black Lodge is, The White Lodge is not. In fact, The Black Lodge is described as the “shadow self” of its White counterpart, which is “a place of great goodness” where virtue thrives and beneficent spirits operate. It, too, has a rich history rooted in occult teachings about groups who work behind the scenes of humanity to promote wisdom and progress.

Though Dion Fortune makes mention of a “Great White Lodge” in Psychic Self-Defence, the majority of occult lore on this topic comes from other sources. Alice Bailey and other Theosophist writers frequently mention the “Great White Brotherhood,” which is composed of “Masters of the Ancient Wisdom” who help direct the spiritual progress of the human race. Some difference of opinion may arise over whether its members are living or dead persons, but the belief in the existence of such a lodge is generally agreed upon by occultists.

 

3. The Dweller on the Threshold – the final spiritual test

Here is an important concept which Twin Peaks specifically references only in passing, but which is full of meaning. Its occult significance merits mention here, if for no other reason than to spark further investigation by those whose attention it catches. Hawk describes to Cooper The Dweller on the Threshold in the following passage: “My people believe that the White Lodge is a place where the spirits that rule man and nature reside.

There is also a legend of a place called the Black Lodge. The shadow self of the White Lodge. Legend says that every spirit must pass through there on the way to perfection. There, you will meet your own shadow self. My people call it The Dweller on the Threshold… But it is said that if you confront the Black Lodge with imperfect courage, it will utterly annihilate your soul.”

Facing The Dweller on the Threshold is one of the final tests for the seeker on the verge of attaining spiritual maturity, and the battle can either free or crush the soul of the aspirant. Since Mark Frost is an admitted student of the writings of Alice Bailey, let us refer to her definition of this mysterious entity: “This Dweller is the sumtotal of all the personality characteristics which have remained unconquered and unsubtle, and which must be finally overcome before initiation can be taken.”

The role and identity of The Dweller on the Threshold in Twin Peaks may be reasonably up for debate, but one cannot deny its intentional insertion into the occult lore of the story.

 

4. Doppelgängers and evil twins

Twin Peaks had no shortage of doppelgängers, and it seemed that nearly every major character had a shadowy double lurking somewhere around the corner. Originating from the Black Lodge, these cloudy-eyed twins surfaced many times throughout the series, bringing trouble in their wakes. L

aura, Leland, and Cooper’s doppelgängers featured most prominently, and often carried cryptic messages meant for Cooper and the audience to decipher. Viewed in this way, the doppelgängers seemed to function as hidden elements of the consciousness which the main characters needed to understand.

The doppelgänger motif has appeared in painting and literature for centuries, and is commonly described as the “double” or the “evil twin” of a person. But a closer inspection reveals that the doppelgänger is most correctly viewed not as an entity separate from oneself, but rather as a manifestation of the hidden side of one’s personality.

The fact that the shadowy being is often perceived as evil can be attributed either to an individual’s ignorance of his or her dark side, or by a prolonged attempt to hide that sinister half from public view.

Left unconfronted, a doppelgänger may work ruthlessly to undermine or ruin the life that one has built; at other times, the doppelgänger may appear only briefly to warn of an impending momentous event. Understanding the origin and purpose of the apparition is critical to responding properly.

 

5. Electricity and personality transference

Electricity is an obviously recurring theme throughout much of Lynch’s work, including Twin Peaks. From slow pans along power lines, to the sight of Cooper’s clones manifesting from electrical sockets in Season 3, to the existence of the mysterious Electrician above the convenience store, it comes as no shock that great significance is attached to the concept of electricity.

Though many details remain shrouded in mystery, much can be learned by observing how power lines and electricity seem to be used to transmit energy, evil, and even various versions of Cooper himself.

Briefly touching on the concept of the Astral Body seems the best way to prompt an exploration into the occult meaning of electricity in Twin Peaks. Many occultists believe that the Astral Body, or the “etheric double” of a person is built up by the emotional energy which that individual nurtures and sustains. It is the Astral Body that constitutes the essence of “ghost” sightings, and its etheric substance is closely related to electrical energy.

Thus, when Cooper’s double emerges from a power socket, an astral, or electrical, body is clearly implied. Likewise, the evil energy which haunts the entire series is often linked to the transmission of electricity, which has perhaps been enhanced by the atomic explosion which we witness in Twin Peaks: The Return.