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‘Mute’: Screaming Into The Noir Where No-One Will Hear You



So Leo (Alexander Skargard) is a good man. A mute man in a futuristic world where his inability to speak makes him stand out like a beacon, prone to aggressive negotiations with his fists when things get crazy, but a good man nevertheless. This Bladerunner-like existence in the near-future of the city of Berlin, affords humanity all manner of choices to fix their physical anomalies, which means Leo could be talking tomorrow if he chose to and could pay for it. Spoilers live in the future, too!

He refuses to do either of those things, because that would be against his mother’s Amish beliefs, and he loves his mother dearly. So the accident in early life that robbed Leo of that most basic ability to make himself understood, speech, must have been part of Gods overall grand plan, or something, and this is where we find ourselves when the film begins.

It was never satisfactorily explained to me, what the hell Leo is doing working as a mute bartender here in a fancy Berlin strip club, but whatever, that’s where we are. The strip club is run by a gangster type called Maksim (Gilbert Owuor), who excuses various patrons’ handsy treatment of Naadirah, even when it happens right in front of him. Leo’s girlfriend Naadirah (Seyneb Saleh), she of the blue hair and the several important secrets she hasn’t shared yet, is a free spirit with a dark past who does her best to charm Leo into smiling happily at her loving antics. They genuinely seem to care for each-other, which makes it all the worse when Naadirah goes missing.

One might assume a man raised with Amish values would be a bit more of a pacifist, and that would be a large mistake, at least in Leo’s case. Adherence to his motherly values or not, Leo doesn’t let curses, threats, or even his own bodily harm get in the way of using rather brutal physical force to get the information he needs. Inevitably Leo turns out to be good at drawing, and of course writing his queries when he pauses long enough for that, but really, a photo of Naadirah and a menacingly silent inquiring scowl are plenty enough to at least get started in the right direction.

Meanwhile elsewhere, a pair of former military men turned black market surgeon doctors are sewing one of Maksim’s men back up and reminiscing about their adventures together. Cactus Bill (Paul Rudd) and Duck (Justin Theroux) have been together a very long time, were even lovers once, but now no longer romantically involved they stay together like life-mates anyways, even to the point of taking care of Cactus Bills’ daughter Josie (Mia-Sophie and Lea-Marie Bastin). Duck has a bit too much of a thing for kids, his side cybernetic surgery business on children and the accommodating brothel attached to the strip club allows him to wallow in some very illegal activities, which even his closest pal Cactus Bill can’t ignore forever. One has a tendency to wonder what the hell these men have to do with the over-arcing storyline of Leo and his missing Naadirah, and while it is explained eventually, the disconnection of plot points seems to poison the story a little.

So we’re watching Leo run around beating people up attempting to find information on Naadirah, and Cactus Bill and Duck do their rather violent thing too, when a bolt of storytelling lightning surprises us from a TV screen. Leo is passing a television blaring the news, and we see a story about one Sam Bell and a case of missing identity, with several men claiming to be Sam Bell standing up in the courtroom to protest.

Why does this mean anything at all? The director of Mute, Duncan Jones, made this amazing Indie film awhile back called Moon, well known by film enthusiasts for the excellent story-line and pacing, and the roster of all of a single main actor played memorably by Sam Rockwell. Having the already-made character Sam Bell show up inside Mute for all of maybe two whole minutes, establishes this new film firmly in Jones’ movie universe as part of the Moon approximate timeline. This actually helps those of us who’ve seen Moon appreciate this new movie that much more, the understanding that a good deal of this world could be our future.

Leo is plowing through known associates of Naadirah’s looking for her – idiotic Stuart (Noel Clarke) and his taunts, Luba (Robert Sheehan) and the other prostitutes, mob underling Nicky Simsek (Jannis Niewohner), even eventually Cactus Bill and Duck themselves. What happened to Naadirah and why are both great tragedies, and while Leo doesn’t waste time ruminating on them before acting, he is darkly sad as he prepares to wreak his final vengeance in his beloved blue-haired-girls name.

Duck may have neatly gotten around the mute Leo problem, but Skarsgard manages to be incredibly expressive in his silent role anyway. The character of Cactus Bill, despite being cast as Ant-Man himself Paul Rudd, is a gum-cracking asshat I just want to punch, so I guess they succeeded at that. The movie itself is strange and disconnected, even from itself, with free-floating plots that wander off into the ether while other nonsense is focused on, but the soundtrack is excellent and for the most part, the film is worth a watch at least once. Make sure you leave the sound on for the Bowie tribute.

Speak of all the evil with Mute on Netflix now!

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Joy Ride Is An Extremely Raunchy And Hilarious Comedy



Joy Ride is an extremely raunchy and hilarious comedy that takes the mantle of ensemble risky
comedies that at times, leave your mouth on the floor. Joy Ride focuses on two best friends
Audrey and Lolo (Ashley Sullivan and Sherry Cola) end up getting roped up into a trip to Asia,
they end up on gals pal cross-continent trek to find Audrey’s long lost birth mother so she
doesn’t lose a huge business deal.

The chemistry in this movie is superb. Every character has their moment to shine and there’s
rarely a scene where you don’t get a belly laugh. I was shocked at how crazy and bold this
movie got, continually pushing the line to get a laugh. The movie does a good job of getting to
the point and getting to the scenes that really make you chuckle. There are some editing choices where the story flies by some stuff, and it feels a little incomplete, but never at the expense of really enjoying being around for the journey.

I thought that this was a sleeper for this year and certainly a movie worth watching with your
friends some weekend. It’s great to throw on if you want a laugh and really just enjoy some
great actors riffing off each other. The focus on culture was a nice touch and really elevated the movie to another level. While I would say if you’re easily offended, this movie is not for you – if you’re looking for a no holds barred comedy, Joy Ride is a trip worth taking.

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Who Doesn’t Want To Wear The Ninja Suit Of Snake-Eyes Or Dress Like The Mandalorian?



Hasbro has had their pulse app out for a while now. It allows for access to items to buy, preorder, and a look into future projects and releases. It also allows for a very cool thing most nerds (a group of which I am a proud card-carrying member) have always wanted, the ability to make yourself into an action figure. I’ve contemplated making one for a time but, I finally got my chance to get my hands on one at Comic-Con this year. Now, of course, I had to wait in line as it was a pretty sought-after item. Who doesn’t want to have themselves wear the ninja suit of Snake-Eyes or dressed like a Mandalorian? I was approached by one of the booth staff as I was showing my nephew all the cool ways we could get him his own MIles Morales action figure with his face (as he’s a massive fan) and invited to take a seat and scan our faces into the Hasbro Pulse app with the help of their awesome team and make this dream a reality. My wife was with us, so of course she got in on the fun too. We scanned our faces in and it was very simple and quick. Then we all selected our figures to add our heads to. We all chose Power Rangers(Me as the Black Ranger, my wife chose the pink ranger and the nephew got the red ranger). Then we were told that we needed to wait about 4-6 weeks and we’d have our custom action figure team in our hands. This was a major part of our Comic-Con adventure and definitely, a memory my wife and nephew won’t forget (as it was both of their first Con ever). Thank you to Hasbro for being so generous(also getting me brownie points that home) and I highly suggest checking out Hasbro Pulse and all the cool stuff it has to offer.

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The Last Voyage of the Demeter: Double-knock on wood!  



Adapted and written largely from the Captain’s Log chapter of Bram Stoker’s magnum opus Dracula, The Last Voyage of the Demeter tells the story of Dracula’s journey by ship from Carpathia to London, and what happened to her crew in the interim.

So here we are in Bulgaria, middle of 1897, and Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham) of the Russian schooner Demeter is here to take on some strange cargo from some unknown client and transport it to Carfax Abbey in London. In need of some extra hands, the Captain sends out his capable Second Wojchek (David Dastmalchian) to scout for some, and initially the roving black doctor and aspiring philosopher Clemens (Corey Hawkins) is passed over in favor of more work-roughened men. The adorable cabin boy of the Demeter, Toby (Woody Norman), narrowly misses being crushed by the mysterious dragon-marked crates being loaded onto the ship, saved by Clemens himself and switched out with the superstitious sailors running from the Demeter like they had been poisoned by the sign of Dracul. And now, armed with some nine or so crewmen, Doc Clemens, and Captain Eliot himself, the twenty-four strange what looks like coffins adorned with dragon signs brought mostly safely aboard, the Demeter can make for open water and the Hell that awaits them there.

The duty of showing Clemens around the ship falls to a cheerful Toby, who proudly shows him the living areas, the Captain’s quarters, the very-large cargo hold, the galley and kitchen where the overly-devout Joseph (Jon Jon Briones) cooks the crews meals, the various above decks, even the sails, and the rigging are all at least touched on, and the livestock pens that Toby himself is in charge of, including the handsome good-boy doggy Huckleberry, or just Huck. We the audience get a very clear feeling of what it’s like to actually be aboard the Demeter, just how large she really is, and what living on a ship for months at sea is really like, the reality and practicality and the dangers of it.

Everyone more or less settles in for a hopefully uneventful voyage, taking mess around the common table and exchanging ideas or aspirations for when they arrive in London early thanks to the fair winds, and receive a handsome bonus for their troubles. But that involves being alive and making it to London to spend said bonus and pay, and the coffin crates spilling dark soil from the motherland and disgorging all sorts of other nasty secrets, have some serious plans to the contrary.

First, it’s the livestock, innocent and shrieking in their locked pens as a monster takes great furious bites out of their necks, and of course, the creature just straight up ruins poor doggy Huck. Then there’s the fully grown girl that gets dislodged from an open coffin-crate, covered in bite scars and as pale as death, she eventually starts interacting and talking after several blood transfusions from Doc Clemens, Toby learns her name is Anna (Aisling Franciosi). And then, as the weather turns foul and the winds begin to be a serious problem, the attacks turn toward the remaining humans onboard the Demeter.

Most people these days are familiar with Dracula, that gorgeous cunning vampire Elder who can supposedly transform into a bat or a wolf, seducing women to voluntarily offer up their veins like an unholy sacrament, a being at once beautiful and powerful, but also horrific and murderous if given half a heartbeat to smell your blood. This is not Dracula.

Instead, the creature that hunts the humans occupying the Demeter is an absolute monster, not a single human feature left to it, barely even recognizable as humanoid-shaped, instead boasting not just full-length bat wings but an entire exo-skin of bat membranes that can be used for feeding, a mouth full of needle-like teeth akin to a predator of the deepest darkest parts of the ocean, those yellowed Nosferatu eyes that will not tolerate light in any way, and of course giant pointy bat-ears. This is a thing, a grotesque straight from the depths of Hell, and no amount of glamor magic can make this Dracula (Javier Botet) seem like anything other than what he, is – a parasitic demon who only wants your blood. There is no reasoning with it, no trapping it, not even really any talking to it (kinda hard to talk when your throat has been ripped out), and, like the much more frightening Dracula stories of old, no amount of pure faith behind a symbol does anything other than give false hope.

Coming face to face with an actual abomination does different things to different people. The formerly delightfully foul-mouthed Abrams (Chris Walley) dissolves into a blubbering mess; poor Larsen (Martin Furulund) didn’t even get to see his own death coming; and it turns out Olgaren (Stefan Kapicic) wants to live so badly, he’ll suffer becoming a blank-eyed Renfield if that’s what it takes. All of Cook Joseph’s purported pure faith didn’t stop him from trying to take the coward’s way out and didn’t save him anyway when the sound of unnatural bat wings descended on him. I find that kind of irony delicious. Dear Anna, resigned to her fate to be eternal food for the horror that terrorized her village, nevertheless wants to try and save whoever is left of the Demeter with her own sacrifice, and there aren’t many. Wojchek of course wants to kill Dracula, but for all his logic and solid practical nature, has no experience whatsoever with this sort of thing, and sure doesn’t want to sacrifice the Demeter, the beloved ship he called home that was promised to him by Captain Eliot himself, in order to destroy that demon. Even poor sweet Toby isn’t safe from the creature’s clutches, and what happens to the cabin boy of the Demeter is what finally sends Captain Eliot over the blooming edge. And who could blame him? For this sort of thing to happen during the last voyage of such a proud, solid ship as the Demeter, is some serious bullsh*t.

To leave such a film open for a potential sequel, especially when called the last voyage of something, was a pretty hefty ask, and somehow the filmmakers managed it. I personally think a different version of Van Helsing, the infamous vampire hunter, teaming up with a certain black doctor who nurses a serious grudge against Dracula, could be a kickass sequel. Until then, experience the doomed final journey of the Demeter and her poor crew in all it’s bloodstained glory, in theaters now!

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