bodied review

Bodied is not the movie I thought it was going to be when I walked into the Fantastic Fest screening. Joseph Kahn‘s previous feature, Detention, is one of those so-crazy-I-can’t-believe-it-exists kind of movies and I think that’s what was in my brain when I sat down to watch his new one.

The premise of Bodied is simple: a young fan is mentored by his idol and his nurtured talent shines. You’ve seen this story before, especially in movies about sports or martial arts, but never quite in this way. Battle Rap is the forum here, not a stadium or a dojo.

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BRAWL IN CELLBLOCK 99

Much like S. Craig Zahler‘s previous film, Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99 will be a divisive movie. Some will love it, some will hate it, but nobody is going to walk away feeling “meh” about it.

The film is anchored by Vince Vaughn‘s career-best performance as Bradley Thomas, an imposing hulk of a guy with a talent for bringing the pain. Bradley isn’t just a brute, though. The man has a moral compass that he has to obey, even if that means putting himself, his pregnant wife and the life they’ve built together at risk. However, that doesn’t mean he won’t unleash an ass-kicking when he has to. There is some brutal violence in this movie that would make even the most die hard fan of Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky nod in approval.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 is definitely not for the squeamish, but the film has lots of character and dramatic complexity layered within the very pulpy premise of a bone-breaker having to do some brutal things for the sake of his family.

I was able to sit down with writer/director S. Craig Zahler and Vince Vaughn to discuss that complexity as well as building the character of Bradley (don’t call him Brad) Thomas. Both men had no trouble going into detail about the world and character-building going on in this totally insane film.

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udo kier interview

Udo Kier is one of the most interesting screen personalities working today. To call him a character actor is somewhat small-minded. The man is a force of personality, so incredibly comfortable with himself that nothing is ever off limits. That makes him dangerous on screen because anything can happen.

From his early days working with Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey in artfully absurd takes on the famous Universal Monsters to his current work, usually playing creepy European dudes, Kier always elevates everything he’s in, be it the latest Alexander Payne movie (Downsizing) or direct-to-video sleaze like the Iron Sky films.

In S. Craig Zahler‘s Brawl in Cell Block 99 Kier plays a character known only as “The Placid Man,” a servant for the big bad guy of the story who calmly lays out some terrible options for Vince Vaughn‘s rage-filled criminal at the heart of the story. We spoke to him following the film’s premiere at Fantastic Fest and as you’d expect, chatting with him was an amazing, sometimes surreal experience.

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gerald's game

It’s a hell of a year for Stephen King fans. We’ve seen not one, not two, but three supposedly unfilmable Stephen King movies released: The Dark Tower, It and Gerald’s Game. And, remarkably, only The Dark Tower has proven to have earned that unfilmable reputation.

The trick to nailing a Stephen King adaptation is to create multi-faceted, interesting characters. That is the horror author’s greatest strength. The scary stuff only works because you care about these fictional people. They feel real to you. When I read It at an admittedly way too young age, I viewed every member of The Losers Club as my friend. The recent film adaption takes many liberties, but man does it perfectly capture those characters.

And now, two new Stephen King adaptations, Gerald’s Game and 1922 (both of which were produced by Netflix) continue this trend. King, despite his reputation as a horror writer, is all about character. Welcome to the Stephen King Movie Renaissance – not even The Dark Tower can mute the success of these other adaptations.

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