movie reviews

Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – Review

rosemary
A young  married couple, Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and Guy Woodhouse (John Casavettes) move into a notorious New York City apartment building.  They meet and befriend their neighbours,  an older couple, Minnie (Ruth Gordon) and Roman Castevet (Sidney Blackmer).   The young couple is planning to start a family soon and Guy treats Rosemary to a special dinner.  That night she has very strange nightmares.  Shortly thereafter she  finds out that she is pregnant. She switches doctors to Dr Sapirstein, a family friend of the Castevets. He gives her strange advice about her pregnancy. Hutch, an old friend of the Woodhouses is concerned about Rosemary and becomes suspicious of her naigbours. He asks Rosemary to meet him but he never shows up for the meeting…

 

Rosemary’s Baby is well crafted, with many “plants” and “payoffs”. It  is packed with detail and soaked in irony. It is a psychological rather than a visual attack. There are no prosthetic demons or elaborate masked monsters (this was before CGI), except for a few flashes. The images are not excessively gory. There is no one hacking off limbs or poking out eyeballs. There is no throwing up green gunk or spinning heads.  The only cheesy thing about this movie is some of the wardrobe and the phony sweetness of the apartment dwellers.

As far as horror movies go, I think Rosemary’s Baby works very well. It is technically well executed and has enough layers to be a well-rounded film. Psychologically it works very well and it stays with the viewer for a long time.  It’s a disturbing look at the fragility of trust. Is all this really happening or is it all in Rosemary’s head.

***

Rosemary’s Baby was several awards. Ruth Gordon won the Oscar for best supporting actress for her role as Minnie Castevet.

Director: Roman Polanski
Screenplay: Roman Polanski (based on a novel by Ira Levin)
Running time: 131 minutes

 

 

©lowercase v   2017

movie reviews

District 9

In originally published this on another blog in September 2009.

d9
In one word: Mind-blowing.

Disctrict-9 is set in Johannesburg, South Africa and asks this question: What if illegal aliens were actual aliens form another planet?

An alien ship has been stranded above Johannesburg for the past 2 decades. The aliens have been living in squatter camps. MNU (Multinational United) the task-force in charge of alien affairs has to move the “prawns”(as they are derogatorily nicknamed) to a new camp, further segregating them from the humans. MNU sends team leader Wikus and his crew to serve eviction notices. A chance encounter throws Wikus’ world into upheaval and sends him running for his life. D9 is visually spectacular and includes documentary style footage.

It is packed with action, adventure and suspense. There is a strong human element, showing how cruel human beings can be, which is underlined beautifully by the soundtrack. The sound editing enhances the overall effect of the movie very well. The story line is gripping and satirizes issues both historic (apartheid) and contemporary (xenophobia). It also mocks the bravado and arrogance that most soldiers seem to have when physically dealing with “the enemy”.

The movie has a heavy political undercurrent, but it is in no way obtrusive. D9 can be enjoyed by almost anyone, even if they have zero interest in politics. Laden with dark humour, some of the one-liners are hilarious. Perhaps the Afrikaans accents made them even funnier. There many gross out moments (not toilet humour) and you probably won’t feel like eating right afterwards, especially not a piece of meat.

Disctrict 9 is completely different from any movie ever shot in South Africa. Despite the international investors and the New Zealand producer (Peter Jackson –  Lord of the Rings), the movie is very local. The movie has an all South-African cast and introduces Sharlto Copley, as Wikus.

Copley who was born in 1973, is also a producer and has co-written and co-directed a movie called Spoon. The director of D9, Neil Bromkamp was born in Johannesberg in 1979 and graduated from Vancouver Film School (Canada) in 1998. Bromkamp co-wrote the screenplay with Terri Tatchell, another Vancouver film school graduate.

Favourite moment: Wikus gives an alien child a piece of candy… and the child throws it back at him.

For a list of the cast and crew visit IMDB.

 

 

©lowercase v  2009

movie reviews

Hidden Figures

hidden figures

Running time: 127 minutes    Rating: PG

Based on a true story, Hidden Figures is set in 1960s America during the Space Race and follows 3 African American women working as mathematicians at NASA. Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) is a math genius who makes the crucial calculations needs to put astronaut John Glen (Glen Powell) in space and bring him safely back home. Apart from a cold reception she faces annoying practical issues like having to run to a different building to use the bath room because there are no “colored restrooms” in her office building.  Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) is practically a supervisor, but lacks the job title or paycheck that reflects it. Mary Jackson ( Janelle Monáe)  has the ability and desire to be a NASA engineer, but is blocked because of her race and gender.

The supporting cast includes: Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory‘s Sheldon) and a very demure Kirsten Dunst.

I loved this movie. It really shows the race and gender discrimination these women had to face on a daily basis. It’s sad (the reflection of the time period) and  you feel frustrated with the characters, but mostly it is inspirational.  There are many sweet little moments and moments of small (though ultimately large) victories.  A  poignant moment for me is when Katherine loses her high heeled shoe in the male dominated NASA environment (though I personally avoid wearing high heels at all costs).

There were only 3 other viewers in the cinema and they were all black women. I really hope this is only because it was at a quiet time and that more people are watching this movie in the evenings and on weekends.

Go/No Go?
It’s definitely a go! Not as a chick flick. Everyone should watch it. Kids too.

Director: Theodore Melfi
Screenplay:  Allison Schroeder &  Theodore Melfi
                         (based on the book by: Margot Lee Shetterly)
Awards:
The cast won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.  Hidden figures was nominated for 3 Oscars,  2 Golden Globes and  a Bafta. It also received several other  award wins and nominations.

Full cast and crew on IMDB.

 

©lowercase v 2017.