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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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Arthur the King is an Epic Masterpiece



Arthur the King movie poster (Lionsgate Films)

Here follows the review of Arthur the King, a story of deep connection between people and dogs. Not all heroes wear capes, some have wagging tails and would cross a river (and jungle) for you.


Desperate for one last chance to win, Michael Light convinces a sponsor to back him and a team of athletes for the Adventure Racing World Championship in the Dominican Republic. As the team gets pushed to the outer limits of endurance, a dog named Arthur comes along for the ride, redefining what victory, loyalty and friendship truly means.

Arthur Foundation

Mikael Lindnord raced through a jungle in Ecuador and after feeding a few meatballs to a stray dog made a friend for life. The dog followed Mikael and his team through the rough terrain. Mikael named the dog Arthur and took him back home with him.

Arthur and Mikael Lindnord (Photo taken by Krister Goransson)

The Arthur Foundation collaborates with various organizations in different countries that work towards animal welfare.

Click on the following links to reach out to Mikael Lindnord.

Movie Review (no spoilers)

The movie is based on the memoir, Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home by Mikael Lindnord, who was the athlete who participated in the Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador. It is important to note in the movie they refer to him as Michael Light. Even though the original race took place in Ecuador, the movie changed the location to the Dominican Republic. The original race took place in 2014, while in the movie the race takes place in 2018.

Mark Wahlberg portrays the part of the Mikael and delivers an excellent performance alongside Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel and Ali Suliman. Ukai, a stray dog, was a real champion portraying the role of Arthur. The film takes us through picturesque locations in the Dominican Republic. The suspense was felt at every turn and corner and you are kept glued to the screen with a gripping storyline. The story balances the journey of Mikael and Arthur and eventually joins their path like a jigsaw puzzle.

Mark Wahlberg as Mikael Light (Lionsgate Films)

A fictional backstory is provided of Mikael’s competitive journey as well as the journey that Arthur took to get to Mikael. The movie successfully tells a deep story of connection between dogs and people. If you want to know more about the real story, you can check your local bookstore or Amazon for a copy of Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home

This movie is a 5 out of 5 for me. The connection between Mikael and Arthur is brought to life in this epic masterpiece. Arthur found a home in the heart of Mikael and thanks to Mark Wahlberg and Ukai, this film adaptation of ‘Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home’ became a memorable movie.

The trailer doesn’t spoil any of the important scenes of the movie. Arthur the King has a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. There is no post-credits scene so no need to wait till the end.

Arthur the King Official Trailer (Lionsgate Films)

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A Must-See Satanic Panic Horror – Late Night With the Devil




Written and directed by Cameron Cairnes & Colin Cairnes, Late Night With the Devil follows a late night TV host Jack Delroy, fighting the plummeting viewership of his show by welcoming in people from the occult in order to change that, but of course, everything doesn’t go as smooth as planned.

David Dastmalchian as Jack Delroy Late Night With the Devil (2023)

David Dastmalchian has appeared in a lot of films however always in smaller roles including The Dark Knight, Prisoners and more recently The Suicide Squad. This film allows Dastmalchian to take on the lead role of Jack Delroy, the host of the late night show at the centre of this film, and he genuinely does a great job. There’s a real range of emotions which his character goes through during the course of this film and he depicts them so well.

If you’re a fan of the horror genre, you’re going to really appreciate the use of practical effects in this. There’s plenty of stretchy and gooey gore for all of the horror fanatics that will have you shouting at the screen. 

From left to right: Laura Gordon, Ingrid Torelli, David Dastmalchian, Ian Bliss

If you want to hear my full thoughts, check out my review over on YouTube and let me know your opinions in the comments.

Late Night With the Devil will be released in cinemas from 22nd March and on Shudder on 19th April.

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‘I Love You, Guys’ Review | A Poignant Exploration of Celebrity Vulnerability and Human Resilience



We are living in an era where celebrities are worshipped like deities and sometimes, people forget that he or she is also a normal human being. If we feel happy or sad at certain moments, they do as well and even though a lot of people always surround them, they get vulnerable too. Although a lot of filmmakers forget to show that aspect of their lives, Billie Melissa Rogan takes the bold approach of showing the truth. Her directorial debut, ‘I Love You, Guys,’ is a poignant story about a celebrity fighting her inner self to maintain her celebrity image. The result is a stunning piece of art that resonates long after the end credits roll in.

The short film opens with a profound close-up of the young singing sensation named Sky (Becky Bush). She has made a name for herself by making and singing really exceptional songs. As a result, she is adored by her fans. Even though it feels like Sky has everything she wants, viewers see her submerged in a bathtub as she tries to battle her anxiety. Just then, Sky gets a phone that she’d be performing state-side. Now, that’s where we get to know about her vulnerable state for the first time. Although she says that she is really happy with the above-mentioned news, her face tells a different story. Despite her impending stardom, Sky has not started to feel the massive weight of mounting pressure, a sentiment audiences get to see in her conversations with bandmate Ryan (Pedro Leandro) and girlfriend Taylor (Celi Crossland).

Becky Bush in a still from ‘I Love You, Guys’ (Jumpcut Studios)

As the story moves forward, we get to know that ‘I Love You, Guys’ is about the fragile nature of the human spirit as much as it is about celebrity culture. It not only navigates themes of depression, it also highlights the turbulent emotional journey of Sky. One of the best aspects of the film is how Rogan masterfully brings Cory Varney’s screenplay to life. She managed to capture every minor detail of Sky’s emotions with utmost precision. Despite the fact that it is her first-ever film as a director, we get a sense that we are watching a flick helmed by a seasoned filmmaker.

Another aspect that makes this film such a compelling watch is its cinematography. Jenni Suitiala has done a phenomenal in showing expressions through vibrant colors and Rogan has made full use of the settings to give viewers a visually striking film. Whether it is heated arguments or silent moments of despair, each frame feels authentic and draws audiences into Sky’s personal life.

Apart from Rogan’s direction, Varney’s script is this film’s biggest strength. The writer has undoubtedly done a stunning job of showing the humanity of these characters. There’s a reason why Sky’s struggles feel very personal and it is because we have endured such moments in life. Moments where we doubt ourselves even when we know we are more than capable of doing a particular thing. Not every smiling person is happy. Sometimes he or she is smiling just so that no one finds out about the tough times they are going through.

A still from ‘I Love You, Guys’ (Jumpcut Studios)

Acting-wise, Becky Bush has given a performance that is surely going to open several doors for her. She delivers a magnificent performance by infusing Sky with a beautiful balance of vulnerability and strength. The way she manages to convey an innumerable amount of emotions is spectacular. I believe this is one of the most apt depictions of mental turmoil. Meanwhile, Pedro Leandro and Celi Crossland are just as spectacular. Every interaction between the characters feels genuine and nuanced.

All in all, ‘I Love You, Guys’ is a testament to how resilient a human spirit can be. In just 15 minutes, Rogan, Varney, and Bush take viewers on a journey that’s thought-provoking and talks about a subject that no one talks about. The writing, direction, and performances achieve a lot more than just viewers’ attention. The film offers a compelling examination of the human cost of pursuing fame and success. A poignant story that touches on themes of ambition, relationships, and self-discovery.

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