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The Virtuoso | Review

The Virtuoso can’t even get the basics of filmmaking right–which proves for a terribly tedious watch.



Anson Mount and Anthony Hopkins in "The Virtuoso" (2021, Lionsgate)

If there’s one thing that five years of film school taught me, it is that every director should adopt a “show, don’t tell” approach as much as possible. Alfred Hitchcock even went out and developed a quasi-theory based on the Kuleshov effect called “pure cinematics,” in which one gaze or look from an actor can convey so much more than any dialogue spoken by any of them. He dubs it “pure cinematics” because it’s the purest cinematic expression you can ever achieve with the camera’s power, editing, and how the actor perceives the camera he’s looking at. Look at his remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much as an example and Doris Day’s magnificent reaction when she sees the gun being pulled out of the curtain—no words, just an agonizing scream, and fright on her eyes to convey the expression of fear and anguish.

Nick Stagliano certainly didn’t listen to Hitchcock when he made The Virtuoso, starring one of the greatest expressive actors of our time, Anson Mount, the only good part of Marvel’s disastrous Inhumans series. In that show, he represented many expressions only from his non-verbal emotions since his character’s voice can end the world. In The Virtuoso, Mount’s titular character has to painstakingly explain everything through inherently pointless voiceover, as he completes a mission from his mentor (Anthony Hopkins) to assassinate someone named “White Rivers”—whom he has no idea what/who he/she is. But guess what? It doesn’t really matter because before you can grasp what’s going, The Virtuoso will put you to sleep quicker than you can say “White Rivers.”

Anthony Hopkins Plays the Villain in New Trailer for The Virtuoso

Oh, God, oh God. It’s been a while that a film has been more tedious than this—hell, the last time I was this bored at a movie was during James Gray’s Ad Astra, another movie that doesn’t know how to use voiceover in a thoughtful light (it made everything sound like Willem Dafoe’s parodic Carson Clay’s Playback Time in Mr. Bean’s Holiday). When you overexplain every minute detail of The Virtuoso’s operations, it makes it look as if you don’t trust the audience’s intelligence. You already know he’s doing a mission to kill someone (visual cues tell us that he’s a contract killer)—why do we need to know everything about him, even the most baffling, fruitless moments? The Virtuoso walks into a house’s parking lot and babbles, “Your first concern on a night assault is dogs. The fact that it’s been quiet so far can be misleading. On nights like this, only the most cruel of owners leave their dogs out.”

Film Review - The Virtuoso (2021)

All of that could be fine if a dog were showing up, but there isn’t sooooooooooooooooooo why talk about it, then? There might be a dog? Is that it? Who cares?!? No, really, who cares? Even if there were a dog (and if there was no voiceover), the tension would’ve been amplified a tad more. The film already has a cold atmosphere, evidently exposed by its brooding cinematography; it doesn’t need any voiceover narration pronounced by any character. Heck, the characters are already explaining the plot as it goes along, so why must we know everything that’s going on in the protagonist’s mind every two seconds? If your voiceover will add nothing to our appreciation of the movie or will worsen the overall atmosphere, don’t use it. Scrap it. Already you have a somewhat interesting shell of a movie if the narration was stripped from it—I mean, the plot isn’t any good, but it would’ve held my attention.

Look at Ridley Scott’s theatrical cut of Blade Runner, an infamously terrible cut, botched by a phonetic voiceover narration from Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard, because the studio didn’t think the audience would be able to understand what was going on, solely through expressions. When the Director’s Cut (and Final Cut) hit shelves, it was reappraised and lauded as a sci-fi masterpiece, compared to its initial release—and Scott only made minor changes to the story (he removed the “happy ending” and stripped the narration). Stripping the voiceover made for a better film, where audiences could interpret what was conveyed visually rather than orally. The same thing could’ve been used with Ad Astra and The Virtuoso, whose voiceover narration botches the entire quality of the film.

THE VIRTUOSO Trailer: Anthony Hopkins hires assassin Anson Mount to Kill a  Mysterious Target in Nick Stagliano's 2021 Movie | FilmBook

Anson Mount has proven himself a skillful (and highly expressive) actor from his tenure in Inhumans and Star Trek: Discovery. He and Anthony Hopkins are the only good parts of this terribly drab movie. Hopkins has one incredible 10-minute monologue sequence where he continues to prove he’s one of the greatest actors working today (who highly deserved his Academy Award for The Father, even though whatever happened that night wasn’t his fault). Mount superbly holds his own during many sequences, particularly when he has to confront one of his targets (played in a fun cameo by Eddie Marsan), as he laces his drink with…Viagra (don’t ask). It’s still a terribly anticlimactic film, particularly when you see the big “twist” coming from a mile away. As soon as Mount enters a diner and sees Abbie Cornish as a waitress, you almost certainly know that it’s WHITE RIVERS. Hell, they could’ve just written it on her forehead because of how terribly obvious it is. Stagliano and co-screenwriter James C. Wolf don’t even make any effort to hide it—as they’re too busy giving endless amounts of dialogue for The Virtuoso to blabber on and on to put their audience to sleep.

Minus one memorable action sequence, packing the extreme grittiness and schlock-like qualities reminiscent of S. Craig Zahler’s extreme-violent pictures, The Virtuoso is a terribly uneventful (and predictable) bore, ruined by a terrible voice-over narration that undermines every single thing happening in the movie. Anson Mount, Anthony Hopkins, David Morse, Eddie Marsan, and Abbie Cornish are all great actors who all deserve better than whatever they thought The Virtuoso offered them…oh, probably a big paycheck. That usually does the trick.

The Virtuoso is now playing in select theatres and available to rent on video-on-demand.

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Halloween Kills | A Fun Popcorn Flick With The Right Amount Of Slasher, Horror And Humour



Michael Myers terrifies the townsfolk of Haddenfield once again. halloween Kills uses elements from the 1978 original and fuses them with tense, gruesome and gore, it’s BLOODY BRUTAL!!!

In 2018 David Gordon Green’s Halloween, starring icon Jamie Lee Curtis, killed at the box office, earning more than $250 million worldwide, becoming the highest grossing chapter in the four-decade franchise and setting a new record for the biggest opening weekend in history for a horror film starring a woman. 

However that Halloween night when Michael Myers returns isn’t over yet as the movie picks up right where we left off from the last one. Laurie Strode (Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (And Matichak)  have left the masked monster caged and burning in Laurie’s basement, Laurie however is rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries and believes that she’s finally killed her lifelong tormentor. 

Photo: Blumhouse/Universal

But when Michael manages to free himself from Laurie’s trap, his ritual bloodbath resumes. As Laurie fights her pain and prepares to defend herself against him, she inspires all of Haddenfield to rise up against their unstoppable monster. 

The Strode women join a group of other survivors of Michael’s first rampage who decide to take matters into their own hands, forming a vigilante mob that sets out to hunt Michael down, once and for all.

Evil Dies Tonight. 

And speaking of evil, everything about this depiction of Michael is phenomenal. From his onscreen chilling presence, to his mask and the way he commits these brutal murders. Michael’s rampage through Haddenfield is pure carnage, he absolutely demolishes everyone and everything is his path. He’s let loose and becomes an even bigger dangerous threat, which is to be expected from masked killers. 

His kills are inventive and vicious and he’s gone one step ahead with the performance of killing someone as I felt that Michael has some theatricality aspects and truly admires his work by the way he displays their bodies. However I felt that some kills were forgettable due to the fact that we don’t get to care for some characters as by the time they’re in Michael’s line of sight, you know they’re a gonna. 

Photo: Blumhouse/Universal

For fans of horror and violence in movies, there are many spine-chilling moments such as Skull crushing, eye-gouging, gunshots and plenty of bodily horror. 

And if you’re a fan of the original 1978 Halloween film, you’ll be pleased to see many of the actors who were once children, teenagers in the original reprise the same roles in Halloween Kills as adults. It feels so believable and genuine to see the likes of Kyle Richards (Lindsey Wallace ), Nancy Stephens (Marion Chambers) and Charles Cyphers (Sheriff Leigh Brackett) . The film truly pays homage to the original that started it all. many other characters return from the 2018 film and another classic character returning is Tommy Doyle, though recast and now played by Anthony Michael Hall. 

Photo: Blumhouse/Universal

With all these characters the film switches the narrative by focusing in on how the town itself responds and reacts to Michael as the Haddonfield townspeople are fed up and exhausted after 40 years of trauma which was brought on by Michael Myers. We follow groups of unlikely heroes throughout the town armed and ready to take out an unstoppable force of nature by any means necessary. Tommy rallies the whole community to band together. They don’t listen to the Police so this film shows what happens when a town is dissatisfied with a failed system and a useless authority. All hell breaks loose and a mob is formed, this becomes a story that isn’t about Laurie vs Michael, instead about Michael vs Haddonfield itself. 

Photo: Blumhouse/Universal

The movie’s central location takes place within a hospital, we see bodies being swarmed in as a result of Michael. Fear starts growing within the town which unfortunately morphs into panic and eventually utter complete chaos when misinformation and rumours star to spread. I felt that the residents of Haddenfield’s true enemy was their own idiotic decisions, society and rage has made them the monsters. 

Cinematography is certainly elevated this time with unique camera angels showcasing the murders. John Carpenter’s score is beautiful and certainly adds suspense to certain scenes. I also love the film’s nods and nostalgia throughout flashbacks to 1978. 

Overall Halloween Kills is a solid setup and middle chapter of this trilogy. It’s a fun popcorn flick with the right amount of slasher, horror and humour. It also sets into motion what will eventually become Halloween Ends. 

Photo: Blumhouse/Universal

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After We Fell- Review



After We Fell is the third instalment of the “After” series, based on a series of fanfiction published on Wattpad in 2011 by Anna Todd. The film stars Hero Fiennes Tiffin as Hardin Scott and Josephine Langford as Tessa, the leading couple. This film follows the pair as they face troubles as Tessa makes a life-changing decision, her estranged father gets back in touch, and Hardin’s family secrets begin to unravel. Check out the trailer below.

The film is laden with issues. The script is awful, you can really tell it was fan fiction from Wattpad. The dialogue makes you cringe and it really doesn’t sell that these people and their relationships are real. The direction is just about competent, the acting is barely passable, and the story is predictable and vapid. I’m sure the cast has great acting chops, but they can’t flex them here in the slightest. Every ‘twist’ is set up so badly that when the jaw-dropping reveals happen, anyone who has been paying attention has seen it coming for the last hour. The story isn’t engaging. It sets things up that don’t really go anywhere. The characters outside of the central duo are completely interchangeable and they feel superfluous to the story. Anyone who isn’t Hardin or Tessa feels like they’re there just to fill the vacuum between awfully shot sex scenes until the credits mercifully roll.

I could go on for hours about how this fails on every level as a film, but honestly, I don’t think its intended audience cares about cinematography, screenwriting, or production design etc.- which is fine, most people don’t care about those things as long as the story is engaging and enjoyable- (if they did this wouldn’t have many fans). The film clearly knows its target audience is teenagers, the type of person who reads fan fiction on Wattpad about One Direction. The film has a few, shall we say, ‘intimate’ scenes, which are cleverly edited to ensure a 15 rating. During those cleverly edited moments, there is always a shot where the camera cuts away to show Harden getting a condom and opening it, so the audience knows that even ‘bad boys’ like Harden Scott use protection. And then during one scene where they don’t show Harden getting a condom, the next morning the two mention how they didn’t use protection the night before and have a brief discussion about contraception. Which is great, encouraging safe sex is always great, regardless of how you do it. However, people should not be having sex with someone as manipulative and toxic as Harden, even if he is wearing a condom. This is a nice segue into the real problem with After We Fell.

The biggest issue with this film and the whole After series, in general, is the relationship at the centre of it. Hardin is controlling, possessive, and aggressive. One evening in After We Fell, Tessa and Hardin are enjoying a romantic time in a hot tub. After being interrogated by her boyfriend, Tessa eventually confesses to briefly having feelings for someone else while they were broken up and Hardin storms off and ignores her for the rest of the night. He disrespects a waiter who is innocently talking to Tessa, he stalks her, harasses her. In some scenes, it feels like he is only a step away from hitting her. At best their relationship is toxic and at worst it’s abusive and manipulative. And despite all of this, their relationship is presented as romantic and merely “troubled”. Hardin is dominating and proprietorial, he refuses to listen to Tessa, he lashes out at her, invades her privacy, and then someone assures Tessa: he only acts this way because he loves her. He is the way he is; he does the things he does, out of love. The writers and the characters act as though Hardin being extremely toxic and pretty much abusive is sweet and caring. It’s difficult to write a review of the film when the overarching concept and theme is just too wrong to look past. This is not a well-made film, but I’ve seen many poorly made films that are an absolute blast. This being a bad film, though, doesn’t matter because its issues run so much deeper than just below-par technicalities.

The idea of young people watching this and imagining that this kind of relationship is not only normal but romantic and passionate is genuinely concerning. If this is the standard filmmakers set for romantic relationships for young people, it is extremely worrying. This film is rated as appropriate for 15-year-olds. However, the subject matter and the type of relationship this is romanticising warrants an 18 rating. No 15-year-old girl should be watching this and thinking that it is a good relationship, that Hardin is a troubled but sweet person, which is how the film presents it. This is really one of the most irresponsible film series being made right now; it’s borderline dangerous.

After We Fell hits Amazon Prime on 22 October.

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Comic Book Movies

Venom: Let There Be Carnage A Dark Comedy Infused With Fast-paced Action



‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’ was absolutely Full of CARNAGE. It’s a dark comedy infused with fast-paced action and the relationship between Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and Venom was like watching an old married couple. And Woody Harrelson’s performance was CHAOTIC in a good way. 

After so many potential release dates due to the film being delayed, Venom: Let There Be Carnage was officially released in Cinemas here in the UK on Friday the 15th of October. It is the sequel to Sony’s 2018 film Venom in where the Symbiote links himself with a host and used their bodies to service. Venom now lives amongst us but Eddie Brock struggles to adjust to his new life as the host of the alien symbiote. Venom grants him super-human abilities in order to be a lethal vigilante. Brock attempts to reignite his Journalism career by interviewing serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), who becomes the host of the symbiotic Carnage and escapes prison after a failed execution. 

The film wastes no time and dives straight into the storyline which dives deeper into the origin of Serial Killer Cletus Kasady. Harrelson’s performance as said earlier was Chaotic in the best way possible as his character encapsulates the rage and insanity. His performance was brilliantly matched by Tom Hardy who reprises his role as Eddie Brock, his chemistry with Venom is once again the true highlight of the film. The duo of Harrelson and Hardy work great as frenemies.

Speaking of venom this is truly where the film shines. Since this is a continuation from the first movie, Venom fells more settled inside his host and is more comfortable as Eddie’s conscience. However their rocky relationship has caused a lot of problems for Brock as both want to do different things for example, Eddie just wants to get on with his life and get his career back up and running, Venom does comply however he lusts for brains and chocolate. he feels stuck and wants to be free, but unfortunately cannot control his impulses. 

They argue, fight and trash Eddie’s apartment. This is a very venomous love affair between them both but in an interesting scene, Venom attends a rave and opens up and i’m not kidding about his love for Eddie. Director Andy Serkis opens up about this particular scene saying that it was Tom’s idea to have Venom sort of Come out and go to a party that was a ideally an LGBTQIA festival. Venom speaks for freedom of others by asking to stop this cruel treatment of aliens. 

At it’s heart this film is a love story about the extraordinary relationship between symbiote and host. 

Reprising their roles from the first film are Michelle Williams (Anne Weying) , Reid Scott (Dan Lewis) and Peggy Lu as Mrs. Chen. I felt all have less screen time during the film but these characters are vital to help Eddie’s journey and Venom’s. 

However I felt Naomi Harris was criminally underused. Her character Shriek acts more as a walking plot device than an actual character, though she does brilliantly on what the writers have given her to do. Another Character i felt that had potential but little to do was Stephen Graham, his character felt more like another plot device to tease the sequel. 

With a new director to the franchise, Andy series brings a new quality to the story and action due to his knowledge of motion capture, the VFX on the symbiote’s are outstanding and realistic.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a step up from the first film. It’s a fun 90 minutes and OMG do not miss the credits!!!!!

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