Tag Archives: Samara Weaving

Ready Or Not

Alex and Grace are getting married! Well, Alex (Mark O’Brien) and Grace (Samara Weaving) think it’s exclamation point worthy anyway. Well, Grace does. Well, Alex and Grace are getting married. How’s that? They’re happy, they’re in love. Grace has been alone so much of her life, she’s ultra excited to be getting a family, even if Alex’s family is quite intimidating. They’re wealthy, they’re snooty, and they’re not all approving. Alex isn’t exactly approving of them either, and he’s mostly stayed away. He would have been happier to stay away, and remain unmarried, but Grace insisted, and he complied. So now they’re at the family estate, being treated to a beautiful wedding, even if most of the relatives glower at Grace like she’s a gold digging bitch. Which she isn’t, just for the record, but it isn’t exactly unprecedented. Alex’s brother Daniel (Adam Brody) is married to a woman who quite openly married for money. Alex’s father Tony (Henry Czerny) is visibly disapproving of Grace, but aunt Helene (now played by Nicky Guadagni) even more so. Only Alex’s mother Becky (Andie MacDowell) is at all welcoming, reminding her that only Alex’s opinion matters.

Later that night, Grace and Alex have retired for the evening and are about to do that things couples tend to do on their wedding night but are interrupted by Helene, who reminds Alex that as per tradition with every new addition to the Le Domas family, Grace has to join the family for a game at midnight. The whole family gathers around a table while Tony explains that this tradition was started by his great grandfather Victor, who made a deal with a mysterious benefactor who granted Victor and his future generations their wealth, and in exchange left a special box, their price to pay. The family passes Grace the box to draw a card from it, a game that they must play. She draws hide and seek.

To win, Grace must stay hidden until dawn. In fact, to survive, she must stay hidden until dawn, though she doesn’t know this yet. As she goes to hide, the family arms themselves with guns, ax and crossbow. The Le Domases believe they need to hunt Grace and kill her before dawn, or else they themselves will die. Alex finally confesses the truth, admitting he didn’t tell her about this because he feared that she would leave him, but he promises to find a way to get her out safely. Alex shouldn’t make promises he can’t keep. And he probably shouldn’t keep secrets that involve murder.

Anyway, the movie is a straight-up game of hide and seek where the consequences are deadly. It’s gripping and terrifying, and reminded me of childhood games played in the woods, after dark, where the consequences were not murdery whatsoever, but sure felt like it as I hid, heart pounding, fearing that I’d be discovered, and fearing that I wouldn’t.

Samara Weaving is a delight to watch, from beautiful bride to deeply enraged, she goes from one extreme to the other over the course of a single night, and does it convincingly and with gleeful abandon. I struggle with scary movies as you may know, but found this one to be good fun. It’s macabre, and darkly funny. Not many directors manage this careful balance in tone but Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett don’t just get away with it, they revel in it, and it works. We were late to the party, had heard plenty of good things, but were still surprised by how fun it was to watch, how entertaining, and what a subversive little twist on the genre it offered. If you haven’t seen it yet yourself, you might think about correcting that.

Last Moment of Clarity

Sam’s girlfriend Georgia died three years ago and he’s still carrying around the ring he never got the chance to give her. Through his flashbacks we know that she was shot, and her body burned in a terrible apartment fire that took several lives. But Sam (Zach Avery) doesn’t talk about it. He shuffles around Paris all wounded and haunted, but to his friend and boss Gilles (Brian Cox), he rarely opens up. So it probably comes as a bit of a shock when Sam declares that Georgia (Samara Weaving) is still alive – he’s spotted her in a movie, and despite a slightly different look, he’s convinced that actress Lauren Clerk is actually his dead girlfriend Georgia. After going full stalker online, Sam decides to fly his particular brand of creepy obsession over to Los Angeles where there’s a chance he can do it in person. And he does.

Lucky for him he runs into old high school friend Kat (Carly Chaikin), who is just jaded enough not to be put off by his remarkably strong stalker vibes. In fact, she helps him track down Lauren, who does not answer to Georgia and denies knowing the man with whom she once shared an intimate bubble bath (a VERY frequent flashback). As poor Lauren’s privacy gets invaded time and time again, we start to learn a little more about sketchy Sam and how his troubles extend beyond the one dead girlfriend.

Colin Krisel and James Krisel write and direct, though this is a first for both in either discipline. Between them, they fail to generate a single thrill in what is supposed to have been a thriller. Last Moment of Clarity is not thrilling, nor particularly clarifying, but it is competently made and competently acted. If the movie was a dead girlfriend trying to assume a new identity, it would do a much better job than Lauren as it is unremarkable, indistinguishable, and totally forgettable.

Bill & Ted Face The Music

I didn’t realize until recently that I had never actually seen a Bill & Ted movie. Sean made me watch their Excellent Adventure knowing this new movie was coming down the pipes. I guess Bill & Ted are just so much a part of popular culture that I was familiar enough with the characters to believe I’d watched it. But actually watching it made me realize it’s such a bizarre trip I never would have forgotten it. We never got around to the second movie and I wasn’t too bothered by that but then Sean read a review of the new one that hinted it revisited the first two and felt maybe he should have pushed harder. Lest I not be able to follow the narrative complexities of Bill & Ted Face The Music. Except the sequel’s rental price was twice the going rate. Clearly someone planned a clever little monopoly. I opted to have Sean read me a synopsis instead and to this day I 90% believe he was pranking me. If two surfer dudes travelling through time in a phone booth in order to ace their homework was weird (and it was!), their Bogus Journey is even more unbelievable, being chased by robot versions of themselves sent to kill them from the future, winding up dead, and playing Battleship with Death himself. At least that’s what Sean would have me believe. I realize Bogus is right in the name, but this still sounds so weird it can possibly be a movie. Right? It sounds like Sean married the plots of Terminator and Little Nicky and thought I wouldn’t notice. Except that plot is referenced in the new film. So if this is a hoax, it’s pretty elaborate.

Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are still the best of friends. They’ve named their daughters after each other and bought side by side homes. Their wives, the two princesses they brought back in the first film, find this a little excessive, but Bill and Ted have been charged with writing the song that will unite and save the world, and in the face of that you can hardly complain. Except it’s been nearly 30 years since we last saw them and the song has still not been written. They’ve had ups and downs in their career and now they’re middle aged men playing weddings and bar mitzvahs. They still haven’t fullfilled their destiny but the future calls – it’s Kelly (Kristen Schaal), daughter of Rufus – and tells them to light a fire under their butts. And it sends another robot for extra insurance. Luckily their teenage daughters Thea (Samara Weaving) and Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) have a little more hustle, and they probe their fathers into action.

Bill & Ted Face The Music is not a ‘good’ movie. If you weren’t a fan of the first two, this one’s not going to convert you. But on the same token, if you were/are a fan, you’re getting exactly what you hoped for. Keanu and Winter slide back into their roles like they’ve never really left them. It’s a little unnerving to see those characters reach middle age and still be acting like dumb teenagers. They haven’t done a lot of personal growth in the last 30 years, which is frustrating if you’re married to them, but satisfying if you’re simply a fan. Weaving and Lundy-Paine are a little less consistent. Lundy-Paine inhabits Keanu even better than he himself does. She’s got Ted down cold and never blunders, but Weaving is comparatively low-key and thus feels out of place.

However, it must be said that Sean, a fan, giggled throughout. And of course Keanu is as watchable as ever. Lately he’s done a lot of action stuff, with a few comedic cameos, so this full-length feature really hits the comedy spot and it’s nice to see him having fun. He’s still got it. And he’s still got an easy chemistry with Winter. Theirs are not the only familiar faces you’ll see in the film. This isn’t going to unite or save the world but it’s a bit of nostalgic goodness in an otherwise crap year for film. It’s the bit of levity we deserve and nostalgia we crave. And you just can’t go wrong with Keanu.

Guns Akimbo

I suspect Daniel Radcliffe may have perfected his American accent by watching Breaking Bad. He sounds so much like Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), or indeed his Bojack Horseman character Todd, it’s eerie. In Guns Akimbo, Radcliffe’s character Miles doesn’t just sound like these guys, he’s also the lovable loser type, the sitting on his couch type, the unmotivated type. But sometimes despite your best efforts, life finds you, and it makes some demands.

Miles is sitting on his couch “trolling the trolls” as he calls it, stirring up shit with his keyboard with big bad words from an anonymous account. But when there’s a sudden pounding on his door, it seems that Miles has finally trolled the wrong troll, as the criminals behind world-wide sensation Skizm drag him into their deadly game. Skizm pits two people against each other as millions stream live to watch them fight to the death. It’s a viral murder game that Miles wants no part of, but when he wakes up with gun stigmata (guns literally bolted to his right and left hands), he doesn’t have much choice.

So we spend 90 minutes watching him get stalked by opponent Nyx (Samara Weaving), search ex-girlfriend Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), try really hard not to die, and adapt to having guns for hands – which includes recruiting help from homeless crackhead Glenjamin (Rhys Darby) for every day needs such as unzipping to pee, and liking stuff on Instagram. You know, the basics.

As you might guess, Guns Akimbo is 100% about the glorification of violence and surprisingly, I’m not that mad about it, mostly because it’s pretty forthright and honest about it. You’re not going to stumble into this one thinking it might be about a close-knit family dealing with sudden onset Alzheimer’s, or a couple who find each other late in life only to have one of them die tragically and slightly heroically in their lover’s arms. No. Guns Akimbo sounds exactly like it is: bang, bang, bang2. It spends its first 5 minutes dropping hints of animation to prepare us for what’s to come. It briefly pretends to be a social commentary to justify the approaching onslaught, but honestly, who needs it? Finally, it gives up the pretense and indulges in the stylized and blood soaked violence it promised, with a fanfare of 80s pop. You’ll feel as if you’ve jumped into a video game that’s definitely rated M, though that can’t possibly stand for Mature. Maniac? Madman? Murderous rampage? You’re not here for satire or plot, you’re here to bear witness to the sheer volume of spurting GSWs, severed arteries, spent casings, and blatant disregard for human life. It is not a credit to anyone’s moral fiber and it does not improve the human spirit but it is a fun if gratuitous ride through our seediest impulses.

Other movies have gone here before – Nerve with Dave Franco and Emma Roberts was not bad if you don’t mind superficial thrills with a side dish of already outdated youth culture. These movies apparently find no irony in critiquing our voyeuristic tendencies while also capitalizing on them.

Radcliffe is fun, Weaving is a poster child for why you never bleach your eyebrows, and Darby is a welcome laugh in an otherwise very black comedy. The soundtrack, featuring “Citrus Hill” amidst covers of bright 80s tunes, provides a hyper backdrop for frenetic death and destruction. Nyx shoots from the hip, Miles tries not to shoot off his own dick, and the whole thing’s just a riot of violence and tribute to the games and shows and songs that promote it.