2014

Movie Review(s): Exists, Everly and John Wick

exists_postertgofAs a horror lover I watch a whole lot of monster movies. Vampires, werewolves, aliens, you name it I have seen a healthy dose of them all. I have to say I’m shamefully low on Bigfoot movies though- unless of course you count HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS in the horror genre. The big guy seems to be making a comeback though with Bobcat Goldthwait’s WILLOW CREEK and now Eduardo Sanchez’s EXISTS- I’m sure there are plenty more, but let’s just stick with these two as the more “popular” examples. Sanchez’s film while shockingly low on the character side delivers more of the monster goods than Goldthwait’s character driven film. Together, they could make for a pretty solid double feature, or even splice them together to make the ultimate Bigfoot experience.

EXISTS follows five twenty somethings on their way out to a cabin owned by the uncle of the two brother’s who organized the trip. While traveling late at night and filming their hilarious beard burning prank on one of their friends they hit something, something relatively large. Unconvinced that it was anything to be concerned over they continue their journey. Once they arrive at the cabin they begin to hear some howling in the distance and assume it’s the wailing of an animal that they had struck. Before long, it’s pretty evident that they are not even remotely safe as something has tracked them down and is not too keen on letting them leave in one piece. (more…)

2015 Academy Award Predictions

81st Academy Awards® Press Kit ImagesThe two most telling things I can possible say to anyone getting ready to read my ramblings about the Oscars is that (1) as of writing this I haven’t seen all the movies nominated and therefore can’t accurately speak for many of the nominations those movies have gotten (but I will try), and (2) I don’t necessarily care about the Oscars. I know what movies I saw in 2014 that I loved and many of them would have never had a chance to even enter Oscar discussions. Therefore the Oscars are more of a “cherry on top” should any of the movies I loved actually get recognition- and I’m not that big a fan of cherries.

I will say I do enjoy watching the Oscars….some of the time. I feel like the ceremony is too long and there are too many categories I don’t really care that much about. However, I do enjoy watching seasoned actors giving their acceptance speeches, especially if I’m a big fan of said actor/actress. In the event any of my favorite movies, actors, actresses, scores, and writers get recognized for movies I enjoyed during the year I get a pretty satisfying rush even having not been involved in their success. But seeing as how I don’t really hold the Oscars near and dear to my heart it’s more of a momentary celebration than anything I remember long after its over. So…all that being said aren’t you pumped for my predictions now? (more…)

Oscar Double Dose Review: American Sniper & Foxcatcher

americansniper_posterClint Eastwood is a legend, no doubt, and I have had quite the love/hate relationship with the films he’s directed. Bradley Cooper is a talented actor, one who I have had no doubt could carry a movie and one day be nominated for an Oscar. So with Eastwood and Cooper collaborating you would think AMERICAN SNIPER would be a harmonious true story about the most lethal sniper in American history- and you’d be wrong…at least in my opinion.

I guess I’m not being entirely fair- you wouldn’t be wrong for having loved this movie, I simply just wouldn’t agree. First things first though, AMERICAN SNIPER simply follows the life and military career of Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper). The film does not get into deep detail of Kyle’s early years aside from a few scenes with his father, then moves on to events leading to his decision to become a Navy SEAL, meeting a pretty girl at a bar and starting a relationship, and eventually deciding to join the war in Iraq. As a sniper in the war Kyle racks up a startling amount of kills, earns the title of Legend amongst his peers, becomes a high priority target in the eyes of the enemy and alienates the his wife and growing family.  (more…)

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

hgmockingjaypt1_posterThe hiring of director Francis Lawrence was easily and shockingly the best decision made by the studio for last year’s CATCHING FIRE and for MOCKINGJAY PART 1 & 2. That’s not to say there weren’t plenty of other qualified directors that could turn in equally impressive films, but sometimes continuously passing the torch can create a disconnect from the direction a series is going. Lawrence, being able to continue momentum from CATCHING FIRE is able to bridge audiences from the final chaos of that film into the far less action packed set-up that is MOCKINGJAY PART 1. I’m normally not a fan of this trend of taking the final book in a series and stretching it to two movies, but in this case Lawrence is able to expand the landscape and let the set pieces have room to breathe. With the games now in the rear view the action this time has more meaning and the film as a whole hits harder than its predecessors- though still at a level of its YA target audience.

If you haven’t seen the previous films I can only speculate why you’d be reading this, but obviously spoilers are ahead for aspects of the previous movies. MOCKINGJAY PART 1 picks up where CATCHING FIRE left off- Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is in what remains of District 13, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is being held captive in the Capitol as a rebellion is quickly growing. The leader of District 13, President Coin (Julianne Moore), along with Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman) want to use Katniss’ Mockingjay symbol as the spark to ignite a full on rebellion against the Capitol and Katniss as the face of said rebellion. With a series of propaganda broadcasts calling for all districts to join the fight the Capitol deploys a series of broadcasts meant to undermine District 13’s efforts and make Katniss question whether or not what she is doing is really for the good of Panem.  (more…)

Movie Review: Interstellar

interstellar_posterI suppose it was only a matter of time Christopher Nolan would come out with a movie, I’d see that movie,  I’d not completely fall in love with it and not want to immediately see it again. I’m the guy who still loves THE DARK KNIGHT RISES in spite of the fact that it’s my least favorite of Nolan’s Batman trilogy. I will still claim INCEPTION as one of my absolute favorite movies. I often won’t go to bat that Nolan’s movies are the best that have ever been made, but for my tastes specifically they fall perfectly into place. And then there’s INTERSTELLAR, a movie that should hit that proverbial sweet spot for me- Nolan, science fiction, drama and Anne Hathaway. So what went wrong? Well, before I get ahead of myself let me clarify that I did not hate this movie, but so far in the Nolan canon (granted it will take a few more viewings to say indefinitely), it’s very close to my least favorite.

The film begins in a non-disclosed future where the Earth and its inhabitants are in a real struggle. Farmer’s are Earth’s most valuable profession as the food supply is dangerously thin and the farmer’s struggle to keep crops alive. Violent dust storms roll in and eventually wreak havoc on people’s lungs. School curriculum trashes human exploration and only a certain percentage of kids are even allowed to go to college- the rest are designated farmer status. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is one of those farmers with a scientist’s brain who hates his profession. Cooper’s son is well on his way to taking over the family business while his daughter, Murph (Mackenzie Foy), has her father’s curious nature. Murph clues her father in on a strange gravity anomaly in her room which leads them to coordinates to a facility in the middle of nowhere that turns out to be the defunct remains of NASA. The folks there have secretly been carrying out space explorations in search of a planet that can facilitate human life. Naturally Cooper has history with NASA and is then recruited to pilot a crew to the many planets other explorers have been staking out. (more…)

Movie Review: Mockingbird

mockingbird_posterNote: The first two paragraphs will be a grievance against the release strategy for MOCKINGBIRD. Please open up the full article to check out my thoughts on the film!

For reasons I will never understand Brian Bertino did not have a smooth road leading to the unceremonious dumping of MOCKINGBIRD on VOD and eventually a Wal-Mart only DVD release. THE STRANGERS was released in 2008 and since then it has been a pretty well regarded home invasion horror flick. Why studios weren’t throwing money at this guy to do something else I will never know. Low and behold Blumhouse and Universal stepped in to put out Bertino’s latest which wrapped production in 2012. The newly formed BH Tilt describes itself as a VOD arm of Blumhouse giving small genre films a chance to fly in the On Demand marketplace. As far as I can tell though it’s just an excuse to dump movies they have no idea how to market at an inflated price. MOCKINGBIRD dropped with at least three other films from BH Tilt to iTunes in early October at $20 a pop with absolutely no option to rent. It wasn’t until October 21st that the option to rent became available at a discounted price.

To put that into perspective before I get into my thoughts on MOCKINGBIRD, this release strategy mimics what larger studios currently practice with wide releases- but BH Tilt is doing so without the benefit of a theatrical release beforehand. Big Hollywood releases generally spend time in theaters for a certain amount of time before appearing as a digital purchase option a few weeks ahead of their DVD/Blu-ray release. Fans usually know if they are willing to buy that advanced digital release because they had a chance to see the film in theaters and were probably planning to buy the movie on DVD or Blu-ray regardless. So apparently BH Tilt’s plan bypasses the theatrical release in favor of an immediate digital purchase. It might not sound as dumb as I think it is, but I call it like I see it- most people do not like to BUY movies before renting them. Sure people pay upwards of $20 to see movies in theaters (generally 3D), but on a VOD platform your consumers are not watching on a massive screen with top of the line sound systems. It certainly does not seem that BH Tilt ironed out all their wrinkles before walking into the room, and the severe lack of press for the titles released so far equally fails to impress.

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Movie Review: Gone Girl

gonegirl_posterMaybe it’s just me, but the institution of marriage is really taking heavy fire from a cinematic standpoint this year. Or Maybe in previous years I just didn’t watch enough movies about marital relationships. I’ve been witness to a marriage plagued by a serial killer (A GOOD MARRIAGE), newlyweds prey to mysterious forces tearing them apart (HONEYMOON) and a dramedy featuring a marriage falling apart from infidelity and a past miscarriage (THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU). Now there’s GONE GIRL, a thriller from David Fincher featuring a marriage of two people so messed up that they are perfect for each other. Fincher’s film is haunting, tense and depressingly brilliant in how it presents, in extremes, what marriage can do to people and the faces we put on for those watching us.

Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) are a married couple about to celebrate their 6th wedding anniversary. When Nick comes home in the middle of the afternoon he finds his living room showing signs of a break in and Amy is missing. Amy as it turns out is the inspiration for her mom’s bestselling book series character Amazing Amy which helps to turn the investigation into an over-the-top media circus. Nick increasingly becomes the target of the investigation and villain in the eyes of the media even as he cooperates unflinchingly with the police. The question still remains though; is Nick the concerned husband he seems to be or is he hiding something that could be the key to finding Amy. (more…)

Movie Review: A Good Marriage

agoodmarriage_posterOh boy where to start? I won’t beat around the bush here, A GOOD MARRIAGE is not a movie made for the big screen. In my opinion it’s not even a movie that should be released via the many On Demand platforms. This is essentially a made for TV flick- though one that’s slightly better than most. Stephen King has long been a well respected horror writer and it saddens me that King’s script, though quite good at times, feels so much less consequential than it could be. A GOOD MARRIAGE for all its promise essentially feels like it could have just as easily been a Lifetime movie.

The premise asks the audience to accept quite a bit pretty early one. Bob (Anthony LaPaglia) and Darcy (Joan Allen) are a happily married couple celebrating their 25th anniversary with friends and loved ones. Shortly thereafter When Bob leaves for a business trip Darcy goes in search of batteries for a remote only to find evidence that links her husband to a series of murders by a  serial killer who calls himself Beadie. Darcy is then thrust into a downward spiral fighting her own sanity and wondering how she could have been so blind to her husband’s dark secret for so long.

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Movie Review: Horns

horns_poster“Love hurts like hell.” That’s one tagline of Alexandre Aja’s latest flick HORNS. If it wasn’t so true I might have laughed off a lot of this adaptation of Joe Hill’s novel- which I have not read. In fact, much of HORNS feels like a huge departure from Aja’s sensibilities- though he did toy with some cheesy comedy in PIRANHA 3D. However, this Daniel Radcliffe headliner flirts with a little bit of everything from black comedy all the way to tragic romance. The unfortunate thing being that Aja’s film does not excel at any of the genres it touches.

The film begins with Ig (Radcliffe) and Merrin (Juno Temple) a couple obviously in love. Almost instantly things are literally flipped upside down as we find Ig in the throes of depression with an empty bottle of liquor next to him. As he heads outside he’s greeted by press asking him what it’s like to get away with murder and protestors saying he should burn in Hell. As it turns out Merrin has been murdered and everyone with the exception of Ig’s brother Terry (Joe Anderson) and best friend/lawyer Lee (Max Minghella) thinks he did it. With everyone painting him as a devil Ig awakes from a drunken fling with horns growing out of his head. The image is enough to spook just about any man except that no one seems to be thrown off by the phenomenon. To make things weirder people keep confessing their darkest desires to him as if part of regular conversation. Ig starts to use the power to his advantage in efforts to dig up the truth behind what happened to Merrin.

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Movie Review: The ABCs of Death 2

abcsofdeath2_posterThe rebirth of the horror anthology over the last few years has me more than a little excited. I suppose one could argue they haven’t really gone away, but we can agree that the quality has gone up recently. Perhaps until a greenlight is lit for a new Tales from the Crypt HBO series I won’t be truly happy, but I’ll take wins where I can get them. I generally prefer my anthologies with three or four shorts that ideally tie in together, but I was pretty intrigued by THE ABCS OF DEATH. 26 ultra short segments featuring a different way to die based on a letter of the alphabet. It’s a morbid premise, but as a horror fan it raises a curious eyebrow.

As history would have it I thought the first ABCS OF DEATH was a commendable experiment, but the balance of good and bad tilted heavily towards bad. The fart and poop jokes combined with some really pointless and bizarre segments made the first film a chore to watch. Luckily it seems the folks putting this installment together wanted segments of more substance rather than fart and poop jokes every three minutes. THE ABCS OF DEATH 2 brings on 26 new directors for 26 new shorts that land on the opposite spectrum of the first film. The good outweigh the bad this time around, though I still can’t say I’m excited for a third entry.

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