Film Review: Friend of the World (dir by Brian Patrick Butler)


At the start of 2020’s Friend of the World, we know that something bad has happened to the world but we don’t know what. An aspiring filmmaker named Diane (Alexandra Slade) wakes up in what appears to be a room in an underground bunker. Dead bodies surround her. When one turns out to be not quite dead, Diane shoots him in the head. Is it a mercy killing or is it an act of self-defense?

As we soon learn, Diane is not alone in the bunker. There’s a man named Gore (Nick Young), who appears to be some sort of military office and who, on occasion, even sound like he could be a direct descendant of Jack D. Ripper, the paranoid general played by Sterling Hayden in Dr. Strangelove. When we first see Gore, he’s standing directly over Diane, speaking as he shaves. Shaving cream falls from his face, down on Diane. Gore never apologizes, not for that or anything else. And while it quickly become clear that the world is no longer place where apologies and rudeness are anyone’s number one concern, it’s hard not to suspect that Gore probably wasn’t the apologizing type even before the world ended.

Gore leads Diane through the bunker, explaining how and why the world has ended and speaking rather ominously about how it’s going to fall to the survivors to repopulate the world. While Diane worries about the fate of her girlfriend, Gore smokes cigars and randomly fires guns. When they speak to each other, it’s often in somewhat bizarre cadences and phrases, the type that leave us to wonder if they’ve really just met or if we’re watching some sort of ritual develop.

We also discover that the two of them are not alone in the bunker. Others make brief appearances, as the situation grows more claustrophobic and more bizarre. One man bursts out of another, in a scene that will bring to mind the infamous chest bursters from Alien. Another mysterious figure shows up to repair a chair while moving in a herky-jerky fashion that almost suggests he might be an puppet on a string. When a more familiar figure shows up, Diane is forced to not only realize how much the world has changed but also consider her new role within it.

Clocking in at a little under an hour, Friend of the World is a surreal look at the end of the world, one that mixes the body horror of David Cronenberg with the dark humor and circular conversations of Samuel Beckett with just a hint of Kubrickian satire. For all the horror elements that are found in the film (and for all of the memorably gruesome special effects), the ultimate horror of Friend of the World comes from the knowledge that, should you survive the apocalypse, you’ll still have little control over who survives with you.

Director Brian Patrick Butler emphasizes the claustrophobic conditions of the bunker, a version of Hell from which there really is no exit. The scenes in the bunker are shot in harsh black-and-white while Diane’s memories of her girlfriend and a few scenes shot above ground are filmed in almost garish color, a simple technique that pays off surprisingly well. Both Alexandra Slade and Nick Young do a good job of bringing their enigmatic characters to life, with Slade especially capturing Diane’s mix of confusion, fear, and anger. As well, Kathryn Scott makes a strong impression with limited screen time in the small but key role of Diane’s girlfriend.

Friend of the World provides an intriguing look at the end of the world.

Here’s The Trailer for King Richard


After being delayed by the COVID pandemic, King Richard is finally coming out later this year. King Richard is a film about Richard Williams, the father and coach of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams. Richard Williams will be played by Will Smith and that seems like such perfect casting that a lot of forecasters are already predicting that this role might land Will Smith his third Oscar nomination.

Here’s the trailer for King Richard:

Just Watch The Trailer For Lamb


There’s some trailer that really can’t be described and the trailer for the Icelandic drama Lamb is one of them. I’ll just say that Noomi Rapace is the only girl with the dragon tattoo who matters. Now, check out the trailer for Lamb.

I’m a little bit worried about the fate of the cat that appears in this trailer but I’ll still definitely be watching this film.

Here’s The Trailer For Ghostbusters: Afterlife


The new trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife dropped today and you can watch it below.

Someone on twitter commented that the bad thing about a new Ghostbusters movie coming out is that we’re now going to have to spend a few months “relitigating” the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters, the existence of which Afterlife appears to ignore. I can’t remember who it was who tweeted it but whoever it was is very much correct. So, I’ll say this about the 2016 Ghostbusters …. it wasn’t very good. At the time, a lot of people (like me) tried really hard to focus on the positive when we reviewed the film, largely because the online backlash against the reboot was so deeply misogynistic, obnoxious, and stupid. But, when taken on its own terms and separated from both the controversy and also what we all wished the movie could be, the 2016 Ghostbusters was rather forgettable. I mean, I honestly don’t remember a damn thing about it other than Melissa McCarthy going on and on about wontons and the finale feeling as if it was lifted from Pixels.

(The fact that an Adam Sandler-starring tribute to old video games was more memorable than the reboot of pop cultural milestone should tell you all you need to know about the 2016 version of Ghostbusters.)

The trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife doesn’t really look that memorable, either. If anything, it looks like it’s trying a bit too hard to mix sentiment with comedy. The little Marshmallow Man is cute, though I suspect that the main reason he’s in the film is because of the popularity of Baby Yoda. Anyway, we’ll see how it goes. Jason Reitman has been struggling a bit lately, with both audiences and critics. After the initial successes of Thank You For Smoking, Juno, Up In The Air, and Young Adult, there’s been a bit of a backlash against him and his style of storytelling. In other words, he could use a hit or, at the very least, a film that’s not considered to be a complete disaster. If nothing else, Ghostbusters: Afterlife will probably make more money than The Front Runner.

Film Review: Override (dir by Richard Colton)


In the middle of the desert, there sits an isolated pink house.

And inside the house, there lives a woman named Ria (Jess Impiazzi), who wakes up every morning to a neon sign that wishes her a good morning. Every morning, she stands in front of a mirror in her underwear and she asks the world what “fun adventures” it has in store for her today. She then carefully selects her outfit and the color of her lipstick. She goes into the bedroom and awakens Jack, who is sometimes her husband and sometimes her best friend but who is always a different person.

During the day, she does “chores” around the house. She is always smiling. She is always positive-minded. Every day, at the exact same time, Ria asks Jack to dance with her. Every night, she talks about how she can’t wait to watch the latest episode of her favorite television program. She has a strange habit of holding up everyday products and announcing how much they cost and whether or not there are any special offers associated with them. She talks frequently about how happy she is to be a housewife, which she believes is the important job that anyone can have. At 9:00, she and Jack retreat in to the bedroom. At 7:00, the next morning, she wakes up and does it all over again with a different Jack.

As you may have guessed, Ria is not quite human. In fact, she’s not human at all. She’s an android, built and programmed to be everyone’s fantasy companion. She’s also the start of her own TV show, “A Day With Ria.” People across the country compete for the chance to be Jack for a day and to spend their time using Ria to fulfill their own fantasies. One of the Jacks (played by Luke Goss) seems to truly care about her. Another Jack viciously abuses her, which Ria accepts without question. Another Jack is just so excited to spend her day with her best friend, Ria! (They have a pillow fight.) Meanwhile, the audience at home votes on what Ria should wear and what meals she should prepare for each Jack. Everyone seems to love watching A Day With Ria, even the vice president of the United States (played by Dean Cain).

Override gets off to a surprisingly good start, doing a good job of bringing us into Ria’s bizarre world. The house in the desert is especially a triumph, a cleverly designed tribute to kitsch that, in all of its pink glory, manages to be both grotesque and inviting, depending on which angle you’re look at it from. Jess Impiazzi does a good job bringing Ria to life and Luke Goss is well-cast as the most sympathetic of Jacks. Director Richard Colton has worked extensively as an editor and there’s a wonderfully composed montage in which Ria goes from one Jack to another. Even the film’s low budget works to its advantage, as most reality shows are produced as cheaply as possible. (Seriously, just watch the Big Brother live feeds sometime.)

Unfortunately, during the second half of the film, things get bogged down with a political conspiracy plot and the attempts to satirize reality TV become increasingly heavy-handed. (One problem with satirizing reality TV is that most reality television show already feel like a parody. No movie or book can make a show like The Bachelorette or, again, Big Brother appear any more ridiculous than an actual episode does.) As strong as the first half of the film was, the second half is a bit of a mess and nowhere near as compelling. A strong beginning leads to a disappointing (and rather drawn out) ending.

While it’s a shame that the movie couldn’t maintain its narrative momentum, Jess Impiazzi’s performance remains strong and both Luke Goss and Dean Cain do the best that they can with their slightly underwritten characters. The film doesn’t really work as a whole but it still has enough good moment to make the watch worthwhile.

Here’s The Trailer For Override!


When A.I. goes wrong!

The film, which is set in 2040, is about what happens when an A.I. is reprogrammed to kidnap the Vice President’s son and to potentially execute him on live TV. At least, that’s what the imdb plot description says. The reviews that have been posted to the site insist that there’s actually more to the film than just this. Maybe so. I guess I’ll find out when I watch the movie later because there’s no way that I’m not going to watch something that looks this potentially ridiculous!

The film can currently be viewed on imdbTV!

“The House Atreides Accepts!” Here’s the trailer for Dune!


Having now watched the trailer for Dune, I have to say that “The House Atreides accepts!” might replace “I declare him to be an outlawwwwwwwww!” as my favorite over the top Oscar Isaac line reading. Seriously, Isaac is just one of those actors who can take a slightly silly line and deliver it with just enough gusto to make it memorable.

As for the trailer itself, it appears to have a little bit for everyone. There’s humor. There’s explosions. There’s sand. There’s Zendaya. There’s Timothee Chalamet. There’s Duncan Idaho! I know that a lot of folks here at the Shattered Lens will be excited about that.

Warner Bros. is pouring a lot of their hopes into this film, which will be available both on HBOMax and, hopefully, in theaters. The trailer attempts to keep both Dune readers and Timothee cultists happy and I imagine that it probably succeeded.

We’ll find out in October!

Here’s The Trailer for Demonic!


Neill Blomkamp, the director behind District 9 and a few films that were not District 9 and have since been kind of forgotten, has a new movie coming out! It’s called Demonic and it’s about a mother and a daughter and demonic forces and the Vatican apparently funding a black ops team. That sounds like a lot! Actually, it sounds likes it could almost be too much. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Here’s the trailer:

This film is set to be released on August 20th.

Film Review: Stallone, Frank That Is (dir by Derek Wayne Johnson)


Frank Stallone is a great musician and a talented guy and you should really spend some money to see him perform.

That would seem to be the main message of the new documentary, Stallone: Frank That Is. This documentary, which profiles the brother of Sylvester Stallone, was produced by Frank himself so we perhaps shouldn’t be surprised that it’s full of people attesting to what a great entertainer Frank is. Billy Zane, Billy Dee Williams, Christopher McDonald, Joe Mantegna, Duff McKagen, Richie Sambora, and Frankie Avalon all pop up and assure the viewers that Frank is a talented musician. Arnold Schwarzenegger tells us that Frank deserves to be known as more than just Sylvester Stallone’s younger brother. Sylvester Stallone himself shows up, to tell stories about how he and Frank once lived in a condemned apartment building and how they smashed a hole in the wall so that their two apartments could become one big loft.

What’s interesting is that, despite the fact that the film often seems like it was largely made to provide Frank Stallone with some encouragement and an ego boost, it also convinces us that Frank does deserve to be known for being something more than Sylvester Stallone’s brother. There’s enough performance footage to show that Frank Stallone actually is a pretty decent singer. Though the film is honest about the quality of most of Frank’s filmwork, there’s still enough footage from the 1987 film Barfly to convince us that, when cast in the right role, Frank Stallone is capable of giving a memorable performance. When he’s interviewed on camera, Frank Stallone comes across as being likeable and a good raconteur. He’s someone who you might want to have dinner with, just so you can listen to his stories about being a struggling musician in New Jersey in the late 60s. (Be sure to ask him about the time that he and his band opened for Bruce Springsteen.) Frank is also honest about how much of his career his owes to his brother, even if he never comes across as if he’s really made peace with that fact.

In fact, Frank Stallone is actually pretty forthright when it comes to admitting that being permanently overshadowed by his older brother totally sucks. After spending several years struggling to make it as a musician, Frank wrote a song for Rocky. Sylvester admits that the main reason Frank was asked was because the budget was too tight to hire anyone who wasn’t a relative. Frank and his band appeared in Rocky, as well as the film’s sequels. He went on to record songs for several of Sylvester’s films, most famously for Staying Alive. And while working on Sylvester’s films made Frank known and even helped him achieve a brief stardom when one of his Saying Alive songs reached the top of the charts, Frank also knew that everyone assumed that he only got hired because he was Sylvester’s brother. When Frank would perform at clubs, he would be credited as being “Rocky’s brother, Frank Stallone.” Understandably, Frank was not happy about that. (Sylvester at one point says that Frank was bitter and that “Frank’s still bitter and that’s one reason why I love him, he’s consistent.”) The only people less happy about the situation than Frank were Frank’s bandmates who found themselves overshadowed by the guy who was best known for being overshadowed by his brother. Frank admits that he often struggled to deal with his odd claim to fame and, as a result, his alienated a lot of people around him.

For all of the celebrity testimonials and funny stories, there’s also wistful sadness that runs through this documentary. As positive and upbeat as Frank Stallone tries to present himself, there’s always a feeling that there’s a lot of regret right underneath the surface. Being Sylvester Stallone’s brother comes across as being both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it opened doors for Frank that probably would never have been opened, On the other hand, it also ensured that Frank is always going to struggle to get people to take him seriously as anything other than a famous sibling. (Even in this documentary, some of the most memorable moments come from Frank imitating Sylvester’s trademark deep voice.) Stallone: Frank, That Is does a good job of suggesting that Frank deserves to be known for more than just his family while also admitting that it probably won’t ever happen.

Finally! We have a trailer for Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel!


We’ve been waiting for a while.

Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel has been a project that has had several projected release dates. It was originally expected to be a 2020 Oscar contender but, like many highly anticipated films, it kept getting moved back due to the Coronavirus pandemic. That was unfortunately, though I am ultimately glad that the film waited for the theaters as opposed to going the streaming route. One thing that all Ridley Scott films, good or bad, have in common is that they’re best viewed on a big screen.

This October, we should finally get to see The Last Duel. The film tells a a true story and features such Oscar-friendly actors as Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Adam Driver. Though Gladiator may have won best picture, Ridley Scott is still in the hunt for his first directing win. This year, he not only has The Last Duel in the hunt but he’s also going to have House of Gucci, featuring Lady Gaga, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, and, once again, Adam Driver.

The trailer for The Last Duel was released today. From what I saw on social media, the reaction was a bit mixed, with many pointing out that the visuals had a bit of a washed-out look to them. Indeed, watching the trailer, one wonders if it ever stopped snowing in 14th century France. Personally, though, I’m a little bit more concerned with Ben Affleck’s hair. Adam Driver and Matt Damon are usually well-cast in period films but, in the past, Ben Affleck has always come across like he can’t wait to catch the next train back to Boston. That said, there was a lot about the trailer that I did like. The sets look impressive and it really does seem like the type of story that usually brings out the best in Ridley Scott as a director.

Plus, I have to say that I really like the film’s poster, which has something of a Ken Russell feel to it. If anything, the poster actually has me more excited about seeing the film than the trailer does.

With all of that said and in mind, here’s the trailer for Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel!