The Manchurian Candidate, Puzzle, Citadel, Battle Royale, Audition

It’s another Bunch O’ Films episode! These movies are great! I got to 5 this time plus a short diary entry. Feel free to comment here or on twitter @rileyonfilm or @thedrpodcast

Text below is a transcript which can be seen better at

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
This film is often listed as a “must-watch” classic. For many years I have been intrigued by it but only now have I take the time to watch. I can tell you it has great cinematic moments and indeed every film lover should see it. At the same time, it has some slow segments that a modern audience may find dull. The final 1/3 is very exciting though and certainly wort the wait.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
PG-13 | 2h 6min | Drama, Thriller | 24 October 1962 (USA)
The Manchurian Candidate Poster
A former prisoner of war is brainwashed as an unwitting assassin for an international Communist conspiracy.
Director: John Frankenheimer
Writers: Richard Condon (based upon a novel by), George Axelrod (screenplay)
Stars: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh
Our director is John Frankenheimer. He is known for many classic and modern films before his passing in 2002. I recognized “Ronin” on is list which is one of my favorite action films. It took a skilled and visionary director to make “The Manchurian Candidate.” There are two stories running side by side and yet the overall plot must be told with subtlety and care.

Since the story is about a brainwashed puppet being used by forces hostile to the USA, the subject matter is close to home for an American. Still, it’s easy to see how this sort of thing could be happening behind our back without us knowing it. The acting is incredible along with the writing making this a definite must see for movie fans and/or fans of the actors. The fight scenes unfortunate make me laugh. This is ironic since Frank Sinatra considered it some of his best acting ever. It is in fact dated in its pace and some of the effects look fake. It was avoided by many audiences for some time after its release due to the political public response to the film. 7/10.

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Before I start this review, I want to tell you I am a huge fan of Irrfan Khan. I would pay to hear him read Google searches. Having said that, I really liked this film, maybe not for what it is but for what it tried to be and almost achieved. Despite the shortcomings, this was a highly enjoyable watch (and listen).

Puzzle (2018)
R | 1h 43min | Drama | 7 September 2018 (UK)
Puzzle Poster
Trailer 2:17 | Trailer3 VIDEOS | 16 IMAGES
Watch Now
From $4.99 (SD) on Prime Video
Agnes, taken for granted as a suburban mother, discovers a passion for solving jigsaw puzzles which unexpectedly draws her into a new world – where her life unfolds in ways she could never have imagined.
Director: Marc Turtletaub
Writers: Polly Mann (screenplay by), Oren Moverman (screenplay by) | 1 more credit »
Stars: Kelly Macdonald, Irrfan Khan, David Denman
Marc Turtletaub is the director. He is known for Little Miss Sunshine (2006), Loving (2016) and Safety Not Guaranteed (2012). Wow. I’ll leave that there.

This film has a definite indy feel to it though it has that huge name from “Life of Pi.” It’s a film that shows the ascent of an invisible housewife into someone who stands up for herself. She is able to do this through the world of puzzle competitions. In truth, the context is that she learns from a handesome mentor and therein some conflict lies. This film reminds me of how many women can get stuck in dead ends. I’l close with my ration 9/10 and then the closing lines of John Steinbeck’s short story “The Chrysanthemums” that I have always found quite moving.

“Do any women ever go to the fights?” she asked.

“Oh, sure, some. What’s the matter, Elisa? Do you want to go? I don’t think you’d like it, but I’ll take you if you really want to go.”

She relaxed limply in the seat. “Oh, no. No. I don’t want to go. I’m sure I don’t.” Her face was turned away from him. “It will be enough if we can have wine. It will be plenty.” She turned up her coat collar so he could not see that she was crying weakly—like an old woman.

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The Citadel tower stands ominously in the distance as the director tightens the screw against it. The hero begins to see it is the enemy. A renegade priest helps his see it and devises a plan in which they both can take down the Citadel by fire. It’s a good plan but lest I forget, there are hooded juveniles that rely on it for shelter and they will protect it.

Citadel (2012) R | 1h 24min | Drama, Horror, Thriller | 1 March 2013 (UK) Citadel Poster Trailer 2:06 | Trailer6 VIDEOS | 11 IMAGES Watch Now With Prime Video An agoraphobic father teams up with a renegade priest to save his daughter from the clutches of a gang of twisted feral children who committed an act of violence against his family years earlier. Director: Ciarán Foy (as Ciaran Foy) Writer: Ciarán Foy (as Ciaran Foy) Stars: Aneurin Barnard, James Cosmo, Wunmi Mosaku
We’ve heard the catch phrase in horror so often: “Don’t show fear it likes that.” What this guy has gone through is more awful than anything we can imagine and yet he is able to right these hooded figures without fear. I had some issues with the characters and the portrayal of life around the Citadel. Where are the other people? This is a dark film with some mild scares. Overall, due to a flawed priest character and implausible writing it lost some points with me. 6/10.

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Battle Royale
A bunch of prep school kids left to kill each other on a deserted Island. Hunger Games anyone? I have read that Quentin Tarantino wanted the lead from this show to star in “Kill Bill” because he loved this film so much. I wouldn’t call it a “Gore Fest” as some have. After all, gore is when what’s in the body is taken out and shown. This is a blood fest for sure though. The director is also very good at building suspense through music and sound effects (like the collar beeps).

Battle Royale (2000)
Batoru rowaiaru (original title)
Not Rated | 1h 54min | Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi | 16 December 2000 (Japan)
Battle Royale Poster
In the future, the Japanese government captures a class of ninth-grade students and forces them to kill each other under the revolutionary “Battle Royale” act.
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Writers: Koushun Takami (novel), Kenta Fukasaku (screenplay)
Stars: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Tarô Yamamoto
Action killing is something we like in America. That’s probably why this scores so high on the democratic user score at IMDB. I found it exciting and cathartic. There will be those who will be turned off by the violence but it’s a deeper message they miss. The “teacher” seems to have no compassion in him. One might compare him to Stanley Tucci’s character in “The Hunger Games.” It’s not as much about the government but more about the risk of losing ones compassion for others. I think the teacher character may have done that. This is a fun watch but a bloody mess so be forewarned. I quite enjoyed it, 8/10.

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Author: Damien Riley

I'm an old school blogger who went full movie blogger and podcaster! Now, I post short reviews about movies I see. This is my podcast, I hope you enjoy listening.

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