OCTOBER 3 ― With the Covid-19 pandemic still not showing signs of slowing down ― in fact numbers are even expected to spike drastically in some countries in the next few months as they already have here ― cinemas across the world are most probably struggling to fill their screens with new movies as more and more big Hollywood titles have either been postponed till next year or just released on streaming and VOD platforms.
The latest one taking the streaming route is the disaster movie Greenland, starring Gerard Butler and directed by Ric Roman Waugh (of Shot Caller fame, and who recently directed Angel Has Fallen).
But with fewer Hollywood films to show, there is more room for other parts of the global film scene to fill the gaps, and the last two weeks have seen a pretty nice variety of movies arriving in Malaysian cinemas.
I'm more than delighted to report to you what I've seen and liked enough to recommend, from those I did manage to see. On to the movies, then!
Imagine a cross between Falling Down, that 90s classic directed by Joel Schumacher and starring a very pissed off Michael Douglas, and Steven Spielberg's classic debut Duel or maybe one of those 90s car chase thrillers like Joyride or Breakdown.
And then imagine an overweight Russell Crowe in that pissed off Michael Douglas role, and you'll get this very fun, very thrilling road rage thriller Unhinged by director Derrick Borte.
The setup is very simple ― one fine morning our heroine, who's late dropping her son off to school, unfortunately honked at The Man (the character's credited that way in the movie) at a traffic light.
A short verbal exchange later, this becomes a full on road rage episode, and a game of hide and seek ensues between them, a very extreme case of hide and seek and road rage, if I may say so.
Nothing subtle or deep here, just a pure exercise in B-movie thrills done with expert economy.
From the writer-directors of the French international sensation The Intouchables, comes another movie with its heart very much in the right place, this time focusing on an uncertified organisation that takes in people from the more extreme ends of the autism spectrum (usually the ones that the state-approved hospitals/institutions have rejected).
The organisation is run by Bruno (Vincent Cassell giving a captivating performance), and he is helped by his friend Malik (Reda Katib), who usually supplies Bruno with the carers he needs from his own organisation that trains youngsters from deprived areas to be carers.
The drama of the film comes from an investigation that threatens to shut down Bruno's labour of love, and the film's heart and comedy comes from the day to day interactions we have with its many characters as a result of observing their everyday lives on screen.
Shot with raw intimacy, and armed with a big heart and a lovely sense of humour, I just felt very privileged to not only get to see this in a Malaysian cinema, but to have a glimpse into the lives of these people (who are based on real characters, by the way). Catch this one if you can.
Ghosts Of War
A B-movie from the US indie horror scene by The Butterfly Effect director Eric Bress, Ghosts Of War, unlike a lot of movies from the indie horror scene, is absolutely not short on ambition and talent.
Essentially a haunted house movie with a slight twist, it follows a group of WW2 soldiers tasked with guarding a big mansion, until their relief squad arrives.
So like all other horror films set in a big old house, of course there are hidden secrets within its walls, and supernatural sightings aplenty.
Bress has a twist up his sleeve towards the end, one you might have already telegraphed from some of the clues planted throughout the film, but it's what that twist speaks up against that gives the movie its emotional power.
In fact, it's so heartfelt that I just felt like hugging all the characters by the time the movie ends. Not in any way perfect, as there are plenty of plot holes and shots that defy continuity rules, but it's the bleeding heart emotions here that'll win you over.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.