Damien Riley, online diarist & blog film critic in California, shares valuable information for your life
Category: Movie Reviews
I write movie reviews. It’s a major portion of my writing online. I am a big fan of Roger Ebert and the way he talks about a movie while allowing the viewer to keep her/his own impressions. I’m Damien Riley and this is “Riley on Film.”
Scroll down for my latest reviews. To see the full list of movies I’ve reviewed click here.
Very disgusting descriptions lie ahead. This is not my typical movie post folks. Words and concepts are intended for a 21+ reading audience only. You’ve been warned.
A lot has been said about this film so I won’t do any detailed summaries or plot criticism. It is decidedly GROSS but I feel there’s something going on in this vile movie that people aren’t talking about. It has to do with taboos and social mores. It’s sort of an interesting take. In a way, there is an intellectual undertone if you look for it. Before you read any further, I’d caution you that this is the most disgusting film I have ever viewed and most definitely NOT for children. I’m writing about it because it is unique and has made a definite impact on the horror movie genre.
In this movie, a mad retired surgeon sews three people together mouth to anus. The people are asleep during the first movie and they awaken to their horrific state with no detail of their “surgery” except minimal things allowing the viewer to imagine the horror. In the second film, the “centipede” is made again this time with 12 people. They are beaten over the head with a crow bar before they are connected in this unspeakable manner. There is a scene in the first film where the front man defecates into the mouth of a woman sewn to his anus. It is probably the single most sick idea for a scene I’ve scene. The movie is without a doubt the most gross film for me. I had my reasons for seeing these films. I wanted to see if they were as bad as everyone said and some reviews I read said there was a humor and an intellectual air to them that many miss. I wanted to see if that was true. Was it as bad as everyone said? Yes.
Was there some intellectual cultic feel to it that the critics were missing? Maybe. It feels like something is being said as you watch it, something that transcends the gore and horrific subject matter. I think it’s about what true insanity is and how much we really don’t want to get close to others. If you set out to make a film that crosses all boundaries, your audience will go there with you (if you have one.) In this case, director Tom Six has a fairly solid fan base who love this movie. For that reason, they are expecting gore and gruesomeness to the extreme and that is what they get. The first movie is not completely gory. It is more the imagination that he works with. a stitched flap of skin from the buttocks of one to the cheek all the way up to the ear of another leaves the mind cold. The second film on the other hand is balls out disgusting. I have already said a lot of uncharacteristically gross things in this post. I will not summarize or detail what happens in the second one. Just know that it “gives the people what they want,” the people being the fans of the first movie. I actually enjoyed watching these two movies. I know movies are fake and it was fun to see what would happen next. The first is like Halloween or any great horror movie. The second reminded me of a late night new wave show I used to watch in the 80’s called Night Flight. Of course, that with TONS more blood and guts. People talk about these movies as if they are so offensive, they are really not that bad when you recall he probably wrote the with a bottle of booze imagining the host hideous stuff he could come up with. What’s your take on these? Will you see them? Have you seen them? I guess #3 is out now but not yet on DVD. I will probably see it.
The movie Secretary (2002 Rated R) seeks to portray sexual control in a relationship. This is probably a really hard thing to do straight out so the movie makes a sort of comic book story to get its point across.
The result is a jarring, strangely erotic tale of control between a cutter and a BDSM dominant. Though the writing and sets are comic-book like, this is definitely not one to show the kids. This film, replete with nudity and graphic themes like cutting, can be viewed however as a close look at how lovers can control each other in relationships. Not everything here is meant to be sexual.
This film was directed by Steven Shainberg and stars Maggie Gyllenthal and James Spader and the couple it centers on. While the director is not known for a slough of films, the actors are well known for many movies. Both deliver passionate performances. There is nudity and once again, this is not a film for kids. It is however well acted and the writing is bizarre yet enjoyable. None of this is anything I do but it helps me get what this sort of stuff is about. I found that interesting.
Here is the storyline from IMDB:
Lee Holloway is a smart, quirky woman in her twenties who returns to her hometown in Florida after a brief stay in a mental hospital. In search of relief from herself and her oppressive childhood environment, she starts to date a nerdy friend from high school and takes a job as a secretary in a local law firm, soon developing an obsessive crush on her older boss, Mr. Grey. Through their increasingly bizarre relationship, Lee follows her deepest longings to the heights of masochism and finally to a place of self-affirmation.
This movie bears indictable resemblance to “Fifty Shades of Grey” but is more than just a tale of BDSM sexual encounters. I gave it a 4.5/5 because I think the director succeeded in showing the power we can hold over our significant others. It lost points with me in the way that it wasn’t a more realistic portrayal. We are obviously not all like Mr. Grey and few like Mr. Grey will find requited love. Still, we do hold each other captive sometimes and it’s interesting to think about how we do that while watching this movie.
Racists exist. We as a society learned this best through daytime talk shows all through the 90’s. I recall more than a few toothless pontificators.
Those are the entertaining kind, the scariest ones operate covertly in families. And then there are those who are neither covert nor entertaining, those whom are pure evil. John is such a man. Though many will interpret this movie as macabre horror, it doesn’t attempt to be that. Instead it strives to be an endurance test in tense human relationships and murder. In the final analysis it’s a study about bigotry in poverty left unchallenged. The real John is serving 11 consecutive life sentences for torture and murder. Young men need role models. Without them, they are susceptible to the Johns out there.
This film was directed by Justin Kurzel, it was his directorial debut. The lead role of serial killer John Bunting is played by relative newcomer Daniel Henshall. Daniel’s performance in this film has already won him multiple awards. I add my praise to that, he does an excellent job at being scary and believable. The scariest part about him is that he could be the neighbor helping you take in your groceries.
This film is based on a true story of a serial killer. A summary of the film is as follows: Jamie looks up to his mother Elizabeth’s new boyfriend John. They live in an Australian form of welfare housing in an under-decorated environment. There are sweet family moments depicting a happy family. Jamie’s 2 younger siblings run around and play like any normal kids their age. What is not normal is the judgmental, bigotry that John espouses. Early on the family clings to his stability. In a world that seems to care so little, John is their stability. Most the movie is a study of Jamie and John’s relationship. Jamie learns to trust and respect John even up to the point of killing with him. More than a macabre horror tale, which it decidedly is, the film shows the environment in which a real serial killer survived and thrived.
The acting and sets are superb. I was on the edge of my seat the whole 2 hours. While there isn’t a ton of gratuitous violence, there is some truly hideous stuff here. It will not appeal to a wide audience because of this. The killer is not glorified but clearly the director seeks to show how a serial killer can grow and thrive in a disenfranchised, impoverished social strata. I liked the character development but would have preferred more tender moments between the characters. It was as if everyone was tortured 24/7. Does respect really grow out of that? It seemed to me Jamie would have gone to the police early on if his life were that miserable. There is nothing to like in John and what we can like in Jamie is neutralized early on when they start killing. If you watch the Snowtown Murders you will find it obtusely disturbing as I did. Well, at least I hope you will.
Another body horror genre film was unveiled in 2012. Unlike another one, The Human Centipede, American Mary plays down the visible gore and cranks up the revenge motive. There’s a lot going on here including a brief trip into the body modification community. Some may find it tries to be too much. Nonetheless, when looked at as such, it works as a simple horror film that fans of the genre will likely enjoy.
“The allure of easy money sends Mary Mason, a medical student, into the world of underground surgeries which ends up leaving more marks on her than her so called “freakish” clients.” -IMDB
Fri 11 Jan 2013 UTC
IMDB Rating: 6.3
Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska are the directors. They are also identical twins. These two have come our blasting their own breed of horror and shock entertainment. I will be watching for what they come up with in the future. Incidentally, they play twins in the film who have their forearms amputated and switched with the other twin. Odd indeed. Other surgeries featured are a live Betty Boop and Barbie doll.
Mary is played by Katharine Isabelle, well known for the horror trilogy starting with Ginger Snaps. She plays the role way understated but it works since we have no idea what her character might be thinking or feeling in this extraordinary plot.
This film seems to be made for Netflix or another cable provider. It stops just short of commanding a theater presence. Perhaps the directors need more time to develop their “cops” (no pun intended). Still, I think it’s just as good as the Human Centipede and almost as great as Tusk, these two being films in the body horror genre. It’s a great revenge flick and I recommend it to those out there who are into films like these. And finally, to repeat, I will be watching the Soska Sisters’ future directing projects.
The film Argo is the story of how a CIA team rescued hostages from Iran. It is based on true events. In this film, the horrors of 1979 Iran contrast with the humor of making a fake movie making it both serious and comic.
Argo is directed by Ben Affleck, known for the Town and a host of other movies. It has a star cast that includes: Bryan Cranston as Jack ODonnell, Alan Arkin as Lester Siegel, and John Goodman as John Chambers. At time of this review, it is the number one movie at the box office. It tells the suspenseful story of how our government saved hostages from Iran under the guise of scouting a movie location.
The basic story is as follows: The American embassy in Iran was invaded in 1979 by Iranian revolutionaries. It was a bloodbath. Six Ambassadors escaped to the home of the Canadian Ambassador. The CIA is charged with the impossible job of extracting them from the country. Tony Mendez comes up with a highly unsupported plan to smuggle them out posing as a movie team. Enlisting the help of a real Hollywood script and professional movie experts, Mendez launches the rescue operation.
One aspect that makes Argo great is its character development. So many movies I have seen recently have flat characters so Argo is a breath of fresh air. It does start out a bit slow but once it begins the suspense is like a building drumbeat that delivers in excitement and thrills. Some of the best parts are the vintage television footage and photographs interwoven throughout. With Iran in the news lately as well as the Presidential debates, this movie adds dimension to a largely forgotten part of the world. I can understand why we may want to forget. It is a gripping sketch of what was going on at that time. It reminds me of what it is to be human and what is so human about American movies. One more thing, the movie is exciting but never as real as when Jimmy Carter himself gives commentary just before the credits roll. I wonder what the current Iranians will make of this. It was classified until President Clinton’s administration declassified it.