CIRCLE – (2015)

“Held captive and faced with their imminent executions, fifty strangers are forced to choose the one person among them who deserves to live.”

Produced by Felt Films and directed by Aaron Hann and Mario Miscione, this Netflix-distributed sci-fi horror movie is, by far, one of the best things I’ve seen in this particular genre.  With the creative use of a single-location, real-time storyline, Hann and Miscione made something that, while lacking social commentary,  relates to the audience a sense of the human consciousness enacted by the strangers trapped in a circle of democratically-selected sacrifice.

It was harrowing, it was exciting and heart-wrenching, sometimes it was even comical with the juxtoposition of dialogue and the raw mortality of the content.  It was, literally, just people getting killed for an hour and a half, but with an exciting and unexpected series of twists.

“Circle” was really a film that got the audience to pay attention, to think, to wonder what they would do if they found themselves, mysteriously, waking up in a presumably alien space ship.   Althought a strange use of point of view, it demonstrated exactly what an unreliable narrator would look onscreen.  Everyone had questions with no way to find the answers, and the audience was as shocked and awed by the results as the characters.  This only helped bring the audience closer, got them (at least me) more involved.

Every second of the heavy dialogue, acted brilliantly by a wide and diverse cast of established and unknown actors at a natural and harried speed, challenged the morals of the characters and the audience.  Making them doubt with a comfortably distant hand of just watching a movie what they would do, who they would kill.

While the ending was underrated and unenthusiastic as sci-fi endings go, it was exactly the smooth polish of closure and narrative suspicion that neither over-explained or dropped off completely that the movie needed.  Highly, highly recommend this movie for the next night at home with Netflix.

HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE (2016)

I’ve had this movie sitting in my iTunes, downloaded and at the ready to watch, since it’s release in September last year.  It was only until now that I thought to watch it, and what a mistake that was to wait.

Taika Waititi’s hilariously dramatic adventure of an old, seemingly one-dimensional geezer, Uncle Hec (Sam Neill), and the plump city orphan, Ricky (Julian Dennison), getting chased further into the New Zealand bush when Child Protective Service agent Paula (Rachel House) thinks Ricky’s been kidnapped.  With her tenacity to leave “no child behind” she gathers the police to flush them out, only pushing them further into the wildnerness and closer together.

He strings along a beautifully funny tale of grief and human connection in the purely New Zealand way.  The over-sensative moments of heart-to-heart seen too often in American films is skipped over, just barely touching the surface when Ricky talks about his chances of survival or happiness if he’s brought back into the foster system.  Instead, Waititi builds an understanding between the two, enlightening the cliches of the geezer and the unreachable, young boy, and having them fall into an easy friendship after the initial ill-temperedness.

I would highly recommend anyone to this pseudo-eighties adventure homage that uses creative scores and spirited dialogue to keep the audience engaged, even though the masterful shots of New Zealand would make up for any lag in the story (of which there is none).  It’s exciting from beginning to end, and Waititi does such a brilliant job of building character against stereotype, making their personalities so vibrant, yet natural and constantly funny.