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Friday, December 8, 2017
The term low budget films doesn’t always mean that no money was spent on a movie that was made. In most cases yes but not all. There are a number of films made with budgets far below the multi-million dollar label that qualify while still spending quite a bit on them. These days the tag tends to stick to movies that get little or no screen time and rush straight to DVD or films that played in theaters around the world but not the US. In many cases that doesn’t mean the film is lacking, just that for one reason or another it never hit screens here. To my knowledge that’s the case with THE OSIRIS CHILD.
In the future the Exor company terraforms planets to make them hospitable for humans to live on. In an effort to deal with indigenous life on these planets they’ve developed a process that turns humans into creatures adaptable to any environment that live to kill. The bad news is they’re using prisoners on their current transforming planet to do so.
Kane (Daniel MacPherson), an ex-military man with a past, works for Exor and his daughter Indi (Teagan Croft) is visiting. He leaves her with a babysitter on planet and returns to work on the sky station above. A prison break releases the creatures on the planet and Exor realizes they have a potential press debacle on their hands. To prevent this from happening they stop all transports from the surface and plan to decimate the entire planet with a reactor explosion. When Kane is told by his friend what is going on he takes a ship and heads down to save his daughter.
Crash landing after being shot down he runs into Sy (Kellan Lutz), another man with a past. What happened prior to these events is told in flashbacks for both men but mostly Sy. An ex-prisoner there when the supposed riots began he knows the truth. But there is more to his past than that of being prisoner, a reason why he agrees to help Kane.
Along their way they run into a couple named Bill and Gyp (Luke Ford and Isabel Lucas), a rough crowd sort with a bus, who they pay to take them to the capitol city of Osiris so that Kane can rescue his daughter. In return they pay them and agree to include them in the bunker Kane has established on the planet.
Shot in Australia with a mostly Australian cast the movie is one that action and science fiction fans alike can enjoy. A number of people have said it’s a combination of STAR WARS and MAX MAX and they aren’t far off with the space ships of one and the terrain of the second. The story moves along at a fiery clip and doesn’t waste screen time with filler, instead focusing on the past and present stories of those involved combined to keep the viewer informed and interested at the same time.
The entire cast does a great job here making the characters they play believable and sympathetic. MacPherson’s Kane while being the battle hardened soldier isn’t played as knowing it all or the toughest among the group. That role lends itself to Sy and Kellan Lutz does a great job of showing the soft and hard sides of his character. Of those involved Lutz will most likely be the most recognizable having been a part of the TWILIGHT films. Croft does a solid job here too and will most likely carry forward as she grows up to be a fine actress.
The special effects of a science fiction film are what make or break it. The dogfight between spaceships is well done with enough CGI used to make it believable combined with cockpit shots that match well with the action. Vehicles and locations also show that the money was well spent here giving the world a gritty outpost feel.
But it will be the creatures that most will talk about in a positive or negative aspect. For me they worked fine. Rather than go CGI, which has ruined some movies, they went with practical effects on the creatures here, costume designs. The end result is a creature that looks somewhat like the vulture styled creatures in THE DARK CRYSTAL but more rounded out and fear inducing. It might not work in some settings but it does here, especially in the final sequence of the film.
On occasion it’s nice to find a film that has fallen under the radar of most viewers that is worth taking a look at. This is one of those films. While not rated there is only a few things that a parent might object to but not enough that a short conversation won’t take care of. The end result is an entertaining movie that’s worth the price of a rental and for sci fi fans worth adding to your collection.
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Thursday, December 7, 2017
It’s great when a movie comes out and you hear about it, go see it and it lives up to your expectations. What’s even better is when you discover a movie that no one else has talked about that exceeds any expectations you might have had. Those movies are far too often under promoted and tossed aside while less well made films are pushed hard. So I was stunned at just how good REMEMORY was.
Peter Dinklage stars as Sam Bloom. In the beginning of the film he’s celebrating with his brother Dash (Matt Ellis) who’s landed a recording contract and is on his way to stardom. That night results in a car crash that kills Dash and leaving Sam with a fading memory of what his last words were.
Fast forward a few years later and we see that Sam is a professional figurine maker. He goes to listen to a speaker named Gordon Dunn (Martin Donovan), a scientist who has created a machine that allows people to record and then watch their memories. The goal is to help people with diseases like Alzheimer’s or brain damage that removed memories. Before he can speak to Dunn Sam watches several interaction he has with various people.
That night Sam goes to Dunn’s office to speak with him but before he can get out of his car he witnesses several people enter and leave the office. The last is carrying a case with her, the prototype of the machine Dunn has created. She returns it to Dunn’s home and Sam then enters and takes it with him. The following day word gets out that Dunn has died under mysterious circumstances.
Sam’s original intent was to speak to Dunn to get help with that lost memory of his brother’s last words. Instead he now finds himself with the machine and the memories of the test group that Dunn was working with as he perfected the machine. Realizing that one of them could be the killer, Sam goes through their memories and becomes an amateur sleuth as he tried to figure out if and who may have killed Gordon Dunn.
Along the way Sam also grows nearer to the solution to his own issue, those long lost last words. In his journey he’ll talk to those members of the group as well as Dunn’s wife, Carolyn (Julia Ormond). He’ll reveal to her that he’d met Dunn once, in a hotel bar and that Dunn saved his life while telling him about the tragedy that he had in his own, one he shared with Carolyn. That meeting is what left Sam with the feeling that he owes it to Dunn to solve his death.
As all of this is transpiring Lawton (Henry Ian Cusik), the head of Cortex Dunn’s business, is searching for the machine. Contracts have been made and need honored and without the prototype it cannot be manufactured. This puts Lawton in among the group of suspects in the death of Dunn.
The movie is a fantastic combination of science fiction and mystery thriller with the emphasis on the latter. This is not sci fi as laser beams and spaceships but a journey into the mind, research into the brain and what it holds. The glimpses of others memories recorded on bits of glass storage chips that Sam views help him to gain information that leads him to each person in the group. And with each one he moves on to the next as he discovers the pluses and minuses of the machine.
Dinklage is amazing to watch here. The character of Sam is a troubled one searching for the truth, a truth that may do him more damage than good. The other actors involved all do a commendable job as well, fleshing out the story that centers around Sam. The production values are perfection with great cinematography, effects, direction and writing. This is an involving story that holds you from start to finish.
As I said at the start, it’s great when a blockbuster meets your expectations. It’s better when a movie you were unaware of comes off better than a number of major releases that are out there. It’s a movie that involves a story surrounded by the decorations placed upon it to flesh it out. Most movies work the other way round these days with little or no story at their core. That’s what makes this movie one to seek out and watch.
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I remember seeing FATHER GOOSE years ago. My best recollection of it makes me think I saw it at the drive in with my family. I know I saw it often growing up when it was on TV back before cable stations controlled all the classic films. Now it’s being offered on blu ray in a great version from Olive Films.
The story revolves around Walter (Cary Grant), a loner who’s left the world behind to live off his wits in the south pacific. Unfortunately this is during World War II and the Japanese in the islands may change his intended course. Walter is shanghaied into working for the allies as a spotter on a remote island where he’s left shipwrecked by an “accidental” bump into his boat. With supplies and whiskey on hand he should have no problem helping them. And to make sure he’s sober enough to do so, they’ve hidden the whiskey until he spots something and it’s confirmed.
When word reaches the allies that another spotter may have been found they lure Walter into helping rescue the man. He arrives to find the man now buried. At the same time he discovers there is a teacher and a group of young girls also there who need his help. Taking them with him back to his island the film becomes a comedy of wills as the teacher Catherine (Leslie Caron) sets about taking over the place until help can rescue her and the girls.
With the Japanese in the area the best the allies can promise is a rescue in a week. In the meantime Walter continues trying to fix his boat, finding the bottles of whiskey the teacher has hidden so he won’t drink in front of the impressionable girls and trying not to go crazy as his way of life is changed. In the process he begins to lighten up his disposition and take a paternal turn towards the young girls and a romantic interest in Catherine.
The set up and follow through here is fairly routine but that doesn’t matter. It isn’t the substance of the story that matters here as much as the fun placed all around it. The interaction between the gruff Walter and the girls is priceless and full of good humor. The romance is subtle and never intrusive. And there is just enough of a touch of action to make it seem fairly real for a movie made around this time.
In reading the liner notes and watching the extras I learned something I wasn’t aware of. As much of a leading man as Grant was and for all of the acclaimed movies he’d made he’d never won an Oscar and it bothered him. While his fellow stars of the time were winning he was overlooked. But all of his roles seemed alike, the debonair man about town who was pursued by the female lead. He had said he was retiring from movies but after speaking with Alfred Hitchcock who told him he needed to play against type, he was presented this script which gave him the opportunity to do so.
This film was his attempt at winning that long coveted Oscar. The end results was that he didn’t even get nominated. It was 2 years before he made another film and that was his last. Fortunately Hollywood recognized the error of their ways and eventually he was presented with an Oscar for his lifetime achievement in film.
The movie here offers plenty of laughs and entertainment to boot. And Olive Films is releasing this as part of their Olive Signature Series which means you’ll get the best quality print as well as some interesting extras. This version is a 4k restoration from the original camera negative. The extras include an audio commentary track featuring film historian David Del Valle, UNFINISHED BUSINESS: CARY GRANT’S SEARCH FOR FATHERHOOD AND HIS OSCAR with Grant biographer Marc Eliot, MY FATHER an interview with internet pioneer Ted Nelson discussing his father director Ralph Nelson, Universal Newsreel footage featuring Leslie Caron and an essay by VILLAGE VOICE critic Bilge Ebiri.
Fans of Grant will want to add this version of the film to their collection as will sixties film fans. It is a treat for those who remember movies like this and who want to enjoy yet another Cary Grant classic.
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