Tuesday 27 November 2018

Cam (2018) Review

Cam girl Lola, real name Alice (Madeline Brewer), is trying to break into the top 50 girls on the site she broadcasts through by showing her tits and faking her own death. Adoring fans, or rather pathetic men, shower her in money for this. Till eventually her account is hacked and copied. The rest of the film is Alice trying to find out what the hell is going on.

This is yet another straight to Netflix film via Blumhouse, who seem to pump out any old shit nowadays (with the exception of a handful of movies). That's normally enough to put me of to be perfectly honest. Anyway, on this movie is first time director Daniel Goldhaber who's also credited with writing along side and first time writers Isa Mazzei and Isabelle Link-Levy. Their collective lack of experience shows heavily in this film.

The movie was interesting for the most part and had lots of potential as it could've gone down a really dark psychological path, but in the end it does nothing but glorify the fact you don't need talent to gain fame and fortune, which is so typical in this Internet age. There's even a massive plot hole. 

Slight spoiler here, but trust me it makes no difference. As regards Lola's hacked account, within the movie (and apparently in real life too) it's suggested that these cam sites do this all the time to exploit more money by copying accounts and have them become virtual accounts. But how is this possible within the workings of this film? The fake account looks and sounds exactly like Lola/Alice and is broadcasting live, being able to interact and take requests from the men watching. She also appears with a dead girl (also a copied account) in a live show. There is no logic to this and the writers completely ignore it. The only real positive thing about this flick is Madeline Brewer's performance as the erotic performer as she pretty much holds up the whole thing on her own shoulders.

As I mentioned previously, this could've gone down a darker route with her possibly having a mental breakdown and developing a split personality or something along those lines. But no. There's no moral outcome to this seedy little film because once she regains access to her original account, deletes it, opens up a new account, she carries on as if nothing happened! Instead of covering the dangers of the Internet, the addiction it can lead to or the harm of leading a double life can have on ones self and those around you, it only celebrates how important it is to be popular. There is no moral to this film other than that.

As regards the 15 certificate, with the subject matter of the film alone, it should've been an 18 as you have to be 18 and own a credit card in order to access these sites. It's filled with nudity, sex toys being waved around and the lead actress riding a mechanical vibrator machine at one point. Maybe I'm getting old, but I certainly wouldn't sit and watch this film with my 15 year old son or daughter. 15 year old boys will probably spank off to this film and 15 year old girls will probably want to become cam girls after watching it. When the age of consent is 16 in the UK, how can a film like this be aimed at younger teenagers as it quite clearly is.


Cam gets 2 out of 5 Stars

Sunday 18 November 2018

Mandy (2018) Review

Mandy stars Nick Cage, playing Nick Cage, in an epic Nick Cage film. This may be enough to put some people off, but this film, if purely for it's stunning visuals and mesmerizing score is worth watching at least once. Pinks, greens, blues and a multitude of colour washes cover the screen in this trippy tale of plain old revenge. I've seen the film on both small and big screen before writing this which I'm glad I did.

Director Panos Cosmatos goes out of his way to blow our minds and excite our senses with scenes of what seems like an acid induced trip. The films starts with a very peaceful look into the lives of Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough) and Red Miller (Cage) who live a tranquil life style as close to nature as can be. This dream like existence quickly descends into a hellish nightmare as the "Jesus freaks" pass through their neighbourhood. Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) has his eyes on Mandy and recruits LSD bikers that look like they came straight out of a Hellraiser film to kidnap her.

This doesn't work out as expected which leads to Mandy's death and what the Jesus freaks believe to be the end of Red. In turn, Red tracks down the bikers, a chemist and the rest of the culprits involved in an alcohol and LSD induced fury.

On the surface to some, this may seem simple, but I found a lot of hidden meaning. Jeremiah can be likened to Charles Manson (even going as far as to quote the now infamous "pigs" phrase). The bikers, 4 of them, could easily be the 4 horseman (even the way they ride the bikes as if rearing a stead) of the apocalypse and the Chemist, having created the LSD they're all into could easily be a god figure.

Unfortunately, there's only 3 scenes of any real emotional content to go with all of that. Red in the bathroon after losing Mandy. He's quite obviously an ex alcoholic, having turned down a beer in the opening scene and having a hidden stash of vodka in the bathroom which he downs and lets out a roar of emotion that only Cage can produce invoking the inner demons of his past, which he held off because of his love for Mandy. The scene with the Chemist, played by the always awesome Richard Brake, in which he reads Red's mind and along with setting a Tiger free, sets Red (who's wearing a tiger t-shirt in an earlier scene in somewhat of a Jesus on the cross pose) free to do as he pleases with the Chemist's (or God's) gone bad creations. All this then leads to the final scenes in which we see and feel Red descend into the blissful madness he has chosen to be part of after his acts of righteous revenge.

The movie felt like it was influenced by many directors, films and of course the 80s (in which it's set) cinema era itself which seems to be very fashionable nowadays. The story telling "chapter" separation of Tarantino, Clive Barker's Hellraiser, Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers (animated intervals amidst the madness), Mad Max, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (probably the weakest scene) and the bathroom scene could easily have been taken straight out of a Kubrick flick. As much as the film looked and sounded both beautiful and transcendent, it felt a little messy because of this and seemed to be missing a certain something that could've and should've made this movie a masterpiece.

I so wanted this movie to blow me away, but in the end I was only a little moved. I think this will be a Marmite movie to most people. Having said that, I'm still going to give it a generous 4 stars because...

Edit: So it's now January of 2020 and I've watched Mandy around 5 times now. I've actually got it playing as I write this. The more I watch it, the more I love it and with what I've been through personally since first watching it, the more I can relate to Red and Mandy's relationship. So, it's not a generous 4 Stars, it's a very well deserved 4 Stars.

"They were weirdo, hippie-types, whole bunch of 'em. And then there was some muscle - it didn't make any sense. There were bikers, and gnarly psychos, and... crazy evil." Red Miller

Mandy gets 4 out of 5 Stars