JUMPSCARECUT: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

Year: 1996
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Harvey Keitel, George Clooney, Juliette Lewis, Quentin Tarantino, Salma Hayek, Danny Trejo

Written by Elena Morgan

Criminal brothers Seth and Richie Gecko (George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino) and their hostages, a faithless preacher (Harvey Keitel) and his two children, are on the run to the border. They stop at a popular bar, not aware that it’s run by vampires, and soon they are unlikely allies as they fight to survive the night.

Directed by Robert Rodriguez with a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ is an interesting film. The first hour is like a crime thriller and then when the motley crew encounters the vampires, it turns on its head and becomes a horror film. Both Rodriguez’s and Tarantino’s fingerprints are all over this film. Danny Trejo and Salma Hayek, two actors who appear in a fair few Rodriguez films, both make appearances and the script is full of fast-talking characters courtesy of Tarantino, and there’s plenty of bloodshed courtesy of both of them.

Clooney is equal parts cool and dangerous as Seth, while Tarantino’s Richie is a loose cannon, and his infatuation with women is not only alarming for the audience, but it’s something that causes problems for Seth. Personally, I couldn’t stand Richie. His attitude towards women was awful, leering at the preacher’s presumably teenage daughter, and based on odd lines from Seth, it seemed like he was prone to attacking/killing women. He comes across a lot younger than he is, like he needs Seth guidance or else he acts out, which then makes his actions even more disturbing.

The makeup and combination of practical effects and CGI on the vampires is fantastic. They are horrible, disgusting looking creatures and the mix of make up and computer effects when a person transforms into a vampire is unsettling. They look more like demons than the “classic” and almost sophisticated vampires you think of.

The showdown with the vampires is fun, gruesome and exciting. The innovative ways the gang make the typical vampire killing devices like holy water, crosses and stakes, is a lot of fun. As is when everyone decides unanimously that while it’s unbelievable, they are indeed dealing with vampires. It’s an interesting twist that instead of being in denial about what they’re seeing and experiencing, they just get on with it and get on with trying to survive any way they know how.

I kind of wish I’d gone into ‘From Dusk Till Dawn‘ not knowing this crime film turns into a horror film with vampires, as I was just waiting for the vampires to appear and was surprised by how long that took. But as the genre shift seems to be the films unique selling point, the reveal is in the trailer and on the DVD case, that’s unlikely ever to happen. But I’d be interested to hear from anyone who went into this film completely blind.

From Dusk Till Dawn is an interesting blend of crime and horror, it’s unpredictable, gory and George Clooney has probably never been cooler as he is here as Seth Gecko.

ELENA’S RATING:

3-5

 

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Suburbicon

Year: 2017
Directed by: George Clooney
Starring: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe, Oscar Isaac

Written by Tom Sheffield

George Clooney returns to the director’s chair once again for a trip back to the 1950’s in ‘Suburbicon’, which was written by the Coen Brothers. With Matt Damon and Julianne Moore as the leads, things were looking promising, even though the trailer left me a little confused as to what genre the film was trying to plant itself in.

But were Clooney, Damon, Moore, and the Coens a winning formula? Unfortunately not… The pieces for success were all there, but unfortunately they just didn’t come together for this film.

Suburbicon is a family-centred utopia in which Gardner Lodge (Damon) and his family live. One night, robbers break into Gardner Lodge’s (Damon) home and tie up his wife, Rose (Moore), her twin sister Margaret (also Moore), and his son Nicky (Jupe). The robbers chloroform the family, and when they wake up they learn the devastating news that Rose has died. The story then delves into why the robbers went to the Lodge’s household that night and we learn that appearances can be deceiving.

I’ll keep this relatively spoiler-free for those of you who want to watch the film, but it must be said that I think the trailer actually showed us all the only decent parts of the film, and it also doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out the obvious incoming plot twist. It has to be said, Damon, Moore, and Noah Jupe (who plays Damon’s son) are all fantastic in their respective roles, which only increases my disappointment with this film. Jupe in particular gave a very career promising performance, and perhaps my favourite of the film.

The film was marketed as a comedy, and whilst it does have a couple funny moments, it doesn’t contain enough to call itself one, and here-in lies my biggest gripe with the film. I went in expecting a comedy with a darker sense humour with a dash of mystery, and what I watched was, well… none of the above. The film fails to actually nail a genre and I left the cinema genuinely questioning what it was I just watched. The screenplay dips it’s toe into multiple territories, but it never fully submerges itself into one, meaning you’re often left wondering if something was meant to make you laugh, or if a rather obvious reveal was supposed to actually be a surprise.

Another gripe I have with the film revolves around the fact the plot puts focus on the first African-American family that move into Suburbicon, much to the other resident’s dismay. We are frequently shown scenes of the horrors this family suffer at the hands of their racist neighbours, who constantly rally outside of their house to try and force them out of the neighbourhood. This sub-plot doesn’t really seem to fit in with the rest of the film though, and its addition in the film is also a contributing factor as to why I left the cinema confused. I sat there thinking that witnessing the horrible daily struggles this family are put through would lead to some sort of pay off at the end, but there is none and it’s incredibly disappointing. I feel like I might have missed something here? But from the general consensus amongst other reviewers, it appears my thoughts reflect the majority of theirs when it comes to these scenes.

Don’t get me wrong, the film does have its watchable scenes, especially Oscar Isaacs’s brilliant but brief appearance in a couple of them, and I’ll happily admit that my eyes were well and truly glued to the screen for the final couple of scenes. But the poor script and direction really resulted in an underwhelming film that truly did have potential to deliver a dark comedy.

To wrap this review up, I think I’d recommend catching ‘Suburbicon’ in the comfort of your own home when it’s released on DVD or streamable somewhere. It’s an okay watch at best, but with it failing to figure out what kind of film it’s trying to be, it may leave you confused and annoyed.

Tom’s Rating: 3.0/10

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First Trailer For George Clooney’s ‘Suburbicon’ Released

“Suburbicon is a peaceful, idyllic suburban community with affordable homes and manicured lawns …the perfect place to raise a family, and in the summer of 1959, the Lodge family is doing just that. But the tranquil surface masks a disturbing reality, as husband and father Gardner Lodge must navigate the town’s dark underbelly of betrayal, deceit, and violence. This is a tale of very flawed people making very bad choices. This is Suburbicon.”

Once again, George Clooney is sitting on the opposite side of the camera than we’re used to with his latest directorial effort, ‘Suburbicon’, which he co-wrote with the Coen Brothers. 

Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, and Oscar Isaac star in the promising and bloody first trailer, which sees Damon’s character, Gardener, begin to fight back against mobsters and loan sharks following the murder of his wife. 

You’ll be welcomed to the neighbourhood when ‘Suburbicon’ releases 24th November. 

Written by Tom Sheffield

 

Netflix Highlights: March

April Fools’ Day has been and gone, but this is no joke. We take your Netflix viewing very seriously here at JumpCut UK, and that’s why we ask our resident Netflix expert Mark Blakeway to pinpoint the best films that the streaming service has to offer. Here’s what was added last month.


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I Love You Phillip Morris
Jim Carrey stars as Steven Russell, a policeman turned con-man, made famous for his multiple prison escapes in this “based on true events” dark comedy-drama. It’s an enjoyable mix of unfortunate circumstances made funny by the sheer bluntness of it all, and heartfelt certainty of Russell’s unequivocal love for Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). It’s quick-paced, funny, sharp and witty, and shows how much depth and range Carrey can truly achieve when pushed to do something different.


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The Ides Of March
An above-average political thriller starring George Clooney, Ryan Gosling and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Packed with solid performances, a decent script and some very dark moments, albeit not quite to the lengths of ‘House of Cards’, it is enough to satisfy anyone with a vague political interest. While it doesn’t do much to break the mold, the typical story of a good guy in a bad system trying to do right still holds value. Predictable, but interesting nonetheless.


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The Grand Budapest Hotel
A single performance by Ralph Fiennes is so good in this film, that it’s difficult to talk about anything else. Visually, it’s incredible. The typical dry wit you expect from Wes Anderson is there in abundance. It’s well-polished, finely composed, superbly acted and the dense script is executed perfectly. I’d go as far as saying it is my favourite Anderson film to date, and whether you’re already a fan of Anderson or not, I highly recommend this film. Here’s our review to persuade you further.


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Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This is such a slick movie. While it does ultimately end in a mess of CGI, what gets you to that point is an intriguing storyline with some incredibly detailed actions scenes. This effort is truly a credit to the superhero genre. Whether or not you buy the whole “timely social commentary” angle, there is something undeniably very real about this film – this is more evident in the first half than the second, but this paranoia infused action movie exceeded my expectations. Here’s our review to persuade you further.


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India’s Daughter
This is a powerful documentary showcased as part of the BBC Storyville series I keep harping on about. What spurred the making of this documentary, was the horrific gang rape that took place on a private bus in South Delhi, after which 23-year-old Jyoti Singh died from her injuries. The attack gained widespread visibility, with many major media outlets picking up the story, and the men were arrested for their crimes. The documentary takes a look at this particular case, and the wider attitudes towards women in India, piecing together news footage, protests and even an interview with one of the attackers. Released to mixed reactions, banned in India itself, it has been interpreted in many different ways by activists, politicians and friends close to Jyoti, but one thing you cannot deny is that the more people who know about these horrendous acts that take place, the quicker they can be stopped. That is only a good thing.


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The Lives Of Others
Winner of the 2006 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film, ‘The Lives of Others’ is a truly thought-provoking German drama. Set in a period of political uncertainty prior to the collapse of the Berlin Wall, it follows a member of the secret police becoming increasingly engrossed by the individuals he is supposed to be spying on. The tension is gradually ramped up as our protagonist uncovers more and more details, but it remains restrained in its no-frills approach to film-making, leaning on the simplicity, performances and apparent authenticity of it all, creating an engrossing and somewhat relatable thriller.


The New Girlfriend

The New Girlfriend
The story of Claire (Anaïs Demoustier) and the widow of her best friend, David (Romain Duris). A friendship post-death is forged for reasons I’d rather not go into – the key component of the story was kept a surprise for me and I hope it remains a surprise for you. It tests your perceptions of gender, sexuality, grief, relationships and identity. It does not remain with a single theme, a single character or a single issue – this is a complicated film handled delicately, with great care and understanding. Suspenseful, ridiculous at times, but incredibly fun, this was one of my favourite films from 2015. Here’s Mark’s review to persuade you further.


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Wayne’s World
Admittedly, the adventures of Wayne and Garth aren’t for everyone, but they are for me. A timeless classic, the perfect rainy day viewing, filled with quotable scenes, impeccable comedic timing and a flare for the ridiculous. Starring a young Mike Myers, Dana Carvey and Rob Lowe among many others, this is your not-so-typical oddball comedy about a couple of rock and roll loving friends who just want to apply their passion for music and babes, and make the most of whatever comes their way. Unfortunately for them, others have a different view as to how that should play out, whether it’s a TV show or a concert, and it’s up to Wayne and Garth to find a way to do what they do best. Party on Wayne. Party on Garth. You’ll also find ‘Wayne’s World 2’ on there. Here’s our review of the original to persuade you further.


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Turbo Kid
‘Turbo Kid’ will be a delight to any one who was a fan of 80s action adventure films like ‘BMX Bandits’ and ‘Mad Max’, as it is a huge love letter to both of these. Set in the dystopian “future” of 1997, you follow the film’s hero with his customised NES power glove, paving the way for inventive gory kills on-screen (one particularly gruesome one involving a modified bike) all backed with a rocking 80s synth soundtrack. Theres so much to love about this movie from the scenery-chewing performance of Michael Ironside as the sadistic overlord Zeus, and Laurence Leboeuf who plays the love interest, Apple. It’s not often you get to see a film like this, and I loved every second of it. 

N.B. Mark roped in the help of his friend Gary Joyce to discuss ‘Turbo Kid’. Here’s our review to persuade you further.

Which Alfred Is The Best?

Written by Patrick Alexander

Much hullabaloo has been made in the recent weeks, months and years as to where Ben Affleck does, has and will stack up in the overall Batman role sphere. Is he better than Christian Bale? Probably not. He’s got to be better than Michael Keaton, right? A push, maybe. Yeah, but he kicks Val Kilmer’s butt? Definitely. However, forget being caught up in the endless debate over Affleck’s position on Mt. Batmore, inevitably carved out of the wet walls of the Batcave. We’re here today to talk about the butler of all butlers, Albert Thaddeus Crane Pennyworth, and where his various portrayals in film and television stack up. 

First, a little history about Alfred. As any comic book nerd will tell you, Albert hails from Great Britain, having been a highly skilled British Intelligence Operative, making him the perfect guardian to protect young Bruce Wayne from the cruelties of a dark Gotham City. Outside of being the most overqualified babysitter and tea-man in the world – from his expertise in domestic sciences to his proficiency with mechanical and computer systems – Alfred always had Batman’s back, even putting his emergency medical acumen to work numerous times to save Master Wayne’s life. So where do the representations of the legendary chamberlain stack up? Let’s find out.


 

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5. Jeremy Irons 
Films: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

The latest enactment of Alfred left much to be desired. While his role is scant in the new DC universe picture, Irons does flex his proficiency with mechanical and computer operating systems, helping Batfleck out several times, such as taking control of the Batplane whilst Batman has to skydive smash through a wall to go kick some criminal butts. Irons certainly looked the part as an aged and tired Alfred, ready to give up the reins to his care of Wayne Manor, finding his role rather diminished as Master Bruce had aged gracefully into a Kryptonite induced mid-life crisis. However, there is hope yet for Mr. Irons with ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Justice League’ pictures in production, and the possibility of appearing in solo Batfleck movies, we could still see Irons and his Alfred ascend this list.


 

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4. Michael Gough
Films: Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin

Gough carried nearly a decade’s worth of the Alfred torch, spanning the runs of Keaton, Kilmer, and lastly, George Clooney. Whilst Gough never portrayed the more tactical and eternally youthful former military man version of Alfred, Gough served his role as Batman’s foremost confidant in an ever-changing Gotham universe. The most dapper of this list, Gough seemed to always be there with a joke, or to light up a smoke when Master Wayne needed it most. Despite a heralded four film run, spanning three different Batmen, Gough’s finest hour, perhaps, might have been this 1990’s Diet Coke advert


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3. Alan Napier
TV Series: Batman 

A throwback to the 1960s live action television series that any older American male can remember watching, spliced into the Saturday morning cartoons. Napier’s portrayal might well have been the most savvy in the pre-super-darkness era of Gotham. Napier’s lighthearted portrayal – before Batman got uber-techie – won hearts as Batman and Robin’s main man (servant). During a storied, three season, 120 episode run, Napier had the Batphone on lock down, always promptly answering and alerting Batman to the dangers of Gotham. Indubitably things got easier once they invented sonar tracking devices and advanced communication platforms, including computers, so it’s hard to say if Napier’s Alfred would have made it in the modern era.


Sean Pertwee

2. Sean Pertwee
TV Series: Gotham

Pertwee makes a strong case for the title belt here, combatting his way onto the Alfred scene. The youngest Alfred to date, known for protecting the young Bruce Wayne in the immediate aftermath of his parent’s demise, Pertwee’s protective instincts for young Bruce and his knack for continuously felling the villains of Gotham come in handy, as Bruce has yet to fully realise or actualise his future as the bodyguard of Gotham. The ‘Gotham’ TV series has been praised as a hot new show from Fox, and it’s casting of Pertwee really delivers, from Wayne Manor brawls with former British Intelligence Operative pals (psychopaths), to always putting himself in harm’s way to shield Master Wayne from the lurking evils of Gotham’s craziest menaces.


Michael Caine

1. Michael Caine
Films: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises

Let’s be honest though, we all know Michael Caine is the greatest of all time when it comes to Alfred. Readily beside Christian Bale’s side through the best installment of the Batman franchise, his fame through association certainly buffers his ranking. Competent in (all too often) medical procedures, Alfred never wavers in his faith of Master Wayne as mainly a confidant and ally in his later years. Despite lacking the fighting ability other Alfreds reveal, Caine had perhaps the most quotable Alfred because he understood his role in Wayne’s life as a father figure better than any other. In ‘Batman Begins’, after the house burns down, Wayne belittles Alfred in a rough way saying: “why do you give a damn, Alfred? It’s not your family”. Caine replies in a manner representative of the Alfred who got it most, “I give a damn, because a good man once made me responsible for what was most precious to him in the whole world”. Beautiful, Michael.

Charlize Theron Takes Brad Pitt Role

Angelina Jolie must be pretty ticked off right now. Charlize Theron has not only swooped in to take a role originally lined up for Brad Pitt, but may also have beaten Angelina herself to the role too. The ‘Mad Max’ star is in talks to take the lead role from the previously much fancied candidate Brad Pitt in ‘The Gray Man’. This film is about a male CIA operative turned assassin who has to protect his children that he never knew existed. But here’s where it gets confusing, especially for script wizard Mark Greaney, who wrote the original ‘Gray Man’ series of books and has now been tasked with coming up with the screen adaptation for Sony Pictures. Good luck with the re-write Greaney, because the title ‘The Gray Man’ may be pretty redundant now. Will ‘The Gray Woman’ cut it? 

But it gets even more convoluted and crazy – Angelina Jolie was rumoured to be on the short list of actresses that just might pull this gender switch off. Jolie has a bunch of experience in that area, if you think back to her CIA stealth and twists movie ‘Salt’ which was originally written with a male protagonist in the lead role – none other than Tom Cruise. 

So what does all this mean? For women in Hollywood it’s great news. Because, as Sandra Bullock recently pointed out at the Toronto film festival, there are very few decent parts for strong female characters. Bullock takes the lead in ‘Our Brand Is Crisis’, which was produced by George Clooney and originally planned to star Clooney but guess what? That got gender inverted too. The bad news though, is that ‘Mad Max’ and Theron fans will have to accept that we ain’t gonna see Furiosa return any time soon.

Written by Wan Tyszkiewicz