Posts Tagged ‘Patrick Stewart’

Movie Reviews 442 – Green Room (2015)

July 17, 2020

While Sam Peckinpah can lay claim as the progenitor of ultra violence in films, writer director Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room proves once again that there are still innovative creators willing to push some of those boundaries further while maintaining a high standard of storytelling as a framework and not just relying on blood and gore as the main draw.

A group of punk rock musicians have an unfortunate streak of botched concerts planned by a promoter who, in a last ditch effort to find them at least one decent gig, refers them to a cousin of his willing to host them in a remote Oregon bar. With an understated warning that his cousin hangs with a ‘rough crowd’ the band heads out hoping to recoup at least enough money to buy some real food and eliminate the need to siphon gas from parked vehicles as they have been doing to get this far.

After a few quick introductions upon arrival and setting up their equipment the band takes to the stage and play, unfazed by the discordant audience, even taunting them with a playlist that includes the lyrics “Nazi punks! Nazi punks! Fuck’em!”. With their performance completed, they gladly collect their pay and start packing the van for whatever comes next. That is until one of the band members, Sam (Alia Shawkat), forgets her phone in their dressing room and Pat (Anton Yelchin) goes back to retrieve it only to stumble upon the body of a young girl in the room full of anxious looking skinheads.

The band is quickly rounded up back into the room and held at gunpoint until it can be decided what to do with the witnesses which include the despondent friend of the deceased (Imogen Poots). While the band pleads for their release promising to keep their noses out of the affair, the burly group confer among themselves as to their next steps and summon Darcy (Patrick Stewart) their evident leader. But with a bit of luck (and a lot of violence) the band regains control within the room, but are locked in. Thus begins a cat and mouse game of wits, proposals, counter-proposals, weapon exchanges, and … more violence.

With violence on par with Straw Dogs, the dire situation of the barricaded victims is further exacerbated by other things they find within their environs. Led by the geriatric leader figure Darcy, their captors are both a cult and a criminal organization, the hierarchy of which is based on the colour of the laces on their Doc Martens. With total command of his often dimwitted followers, Darcy is sharp as a knife, a meticulous planner and always it seems, one step ahead of the band.

Great suspense, excellent acting throughout and another example of the great loss it was to lose Yelchin, an actor who already made a huge mark at such a young age and was destined for so much more until his untimely, and nonsensical demise.

Movie Reviews 383 – The Doctor and the Devils (1985)

March 15, 2019

The sordid true life tale of how Victorian era tomb robbers Burke and Hare provided cadavers for doctors for anatomical study is a tale that has been lensed several times over the years, one such being The Body Snatcher (1945) starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. As the story goes, the enterprising thieves got greedy and instead of simply waiting for opportunities to seize and sell the bodies of the recently deceased, they decided that it was quicker and more profitable to just knock off a few specimens earlier to meet the demand. Not only did their victims fetch an immediate return but, because they could choose healthier and younger specimens, those bodies fetched an even higher price.

The Doctor and the Devils is yet another take on the story in which a young ambitious lecturer Dr. Rock (Timothy Dalton), ever looking for quality subjects, ends up tempting poor vagrants Fallon and Broom (Jonathan Pryce and Stephen Rea respectively) to sate his demands. While the practice of acquiring bodies for scientific studies was permitted at the time, it was highly regulated and only certain cadavers, such as those of dead prisoners were legitimately distributed. This was not acceptable to Rock, and as he acquired more and more bodies, often dissecting them in his operating arena classroom, the number and suspect high quality began to raise eyebrows, notably that of Professor Macklin (Patrick Stewart), Rock’s superior and Rock’s very assistant, Dr. Murray (Julian Sands). It all unravels when Murray discovers that Rock’s latest acquisition is the best friend of the girl he has been trying to charm, one of the local town prostitutes (sixties model Twiggy).

The narrative of the central story works well enough but there are a number of odd and unevenly handled portions of the story that make it a bit frustrating. Rock’s wife is an anatomical artist which supposedly makes her a disrespectful woman that already casts Rock in a bad light in society. The evidence of Rock’s wrongdoings are quite clear from the very beginning yet it takes Macklin and the authorities forever to act on their suspicions. Murray’s chasing Twiggy is a significant part of the story so you can pretty much tell that this will be Rock’s downfall early on in the film. And of course Twiggy being, well Twiggy, she does have her own out of place song in this film (guess it was part of her contract) which, while lovely, is just an awkward and unnecessary mood swing that really does not fit in.

Directed by legendary Hammer director Freddie Francis, this film was actually based on a screenplay by celebrated Welsh poet Dylan Thomas who himself died under some strange circumstances.

The strength in the film come from Pryce and Rea’s performances and their characters. Just about everyone else including Dalton just slow things down to the point of being tedious until the miscreants show up again. If you can stand the unnecessary straying from the central plot it’s not that bad a film but go for The Body Snatcher if you have to choose one or the other.