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Better Than I Anticipated
I'll attempt to put aside what I know about the politics and positions of Forrest Lucas the executive producer of this film (as the viewers can look that up for themselves) and try and rate the movie on its own merits.
I picked this DVD up at Redbox, not knowing anything about it. and it's not a bad B-movie quality endeavor. Kevin Dillon stars as Rick Radden, an ex-champion off-road racer and who now owns his own truck racing team. DeRon Horton co-stars as Dez Truss, s former car thief, who's now trying to go straight and is given a second chance by Rick to work with his team.
They're both quite believable in their roles, as are many in the supporting cast. The plot elements are quite predictable and formulaic on the whole, but an air of tension is reasonably maintained in the off-road racing scenes and other areas, and there's an eventual feel-good aspect to it all.
Overall, aside from some of the blatant commercial plugs, I felt the film was reasonably well presented and better than I expected.
Don't Waste Your Money or Time
Perhaps if you like loads of blood-soaked murders, then maybe you'll find some value in this 9th installment of the series, based originally on a Stephen King short story. I was hard pressed to find anything of value here, as the movie was just filled with bleakness and grimness.
Marci Miller stars as Ruth, who escaped from a murderous and demonic children's cult in Nebraska to try and protect her soon to be born baby. Now thirteen years later, she's trying to establish roots in the small town of Luther, Oklahoma with her now teenage son Aaron (Jake Ryan Scott). However, she will soon discover the demon-seed children are there also committing sadistic murders and haunting her with memories of her past.
For me, it all added up to a grisly turn-off, with even the twist at the end fairly well telegraphed. Overall, I would say don't waste your time or money here.
Earth: One Amazing Day (2017)
Leisurely paced BBC nature documentary, narrated by Robert Redford, which travels across the globe, in one day, to discover some wondrous goings on in the animal kingdom. I've seen many nature films but this one had numerous scenes that I had never witnessed before, like a sloth crossing a river trying to answer the call of a potential mate.
Often shot in close-ups, slo-mo, or time lapse photography the movie offers some truly amazing insight into wildlife and our natural habitat. There is one sequence involving snakes lying in wait to attack young iguanas as they emerge from their nesting place that may be too much for young children, but otherwise I would think the entire family could enjoy and learn from this documentary.
Overall, I found this film to be exceptional.
Hellraiser: Judgment (2018)
As others have noted this is the 10th film of the Hellraisee series, and having seen none of the others I was curious as to what it was all about. I'm extremely sorry I made that choice.
For those like me, who are novices to the series I write beware of the intentional gruesomeness, which includes many stomach-turning scenes including the sadistic sewing of a live dog into the womb of the dog's owner, a murdered woman. I've never been a fan of intentional gross-outs in a movie and this one is filled with them, with the "plot" just going along for the ride, leading to the twists at the end.
All in all, I see there are devotees to the series and this is one where I can truly say to each their own, but for me it's a loud no thanks!!
Accident Man (2018)
Super Violent & Plot is Ridiculous But I Have Seen Worse Films
Based on the comic character created by Pat Mills, this British flick stars Scott Adkins as the hitman Mike Fallon, AKA the Accident Man for the way he carries out his hits. As you might expect, there's loads of bloody violence here as well as frequent martial arts sequences, as Fallon and his fellow assassins from the underground club The Oasis carry out their assignments.
However, when a hit is put out on Fallon's pregnant former girlfriend, all hell will break loose and things will really go "off the rails" There is quite a bit of deadpan humor in the film, amidst all the carnage and some of it can be efffecitve.
Overall, I would say the plot here is ridiculous, but if you don't mind all the violence the movie did for the most part keep my interest, and I have seen worse.
Last Flag Flying (2017)
One of Linklater's Best Films
I thought this was one of director Richard Linklater's best films, as he also co-wrote the screenplay with Darryl Poniscan, from whose book the movie is based.
The three leads here Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell, and Laurence Fishburne give terrific performances, with Yul Vasquez and J. Quinton Johnson adding well to the mix in supporting roles.
This film can be dark, crass, and very unsettling one moment but also be poignant and laced with humor that works more often than not. Also, the movie can be brutally anti-military at times, yet strongly patriotic as well. Somehow, the filmmakers managed to blend all of this together effectively.
All in all, I found this to be an exceptional film that stayed with me long after it was over.
Rather a Disappointment
Normally I'm an avid fan of acclaimed documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, Gates of Heaven), but, to be honest, I was rather disappointed in this movie. It centers on the life and work of Elsa Dorfman, whose photographs using the large-format Polaroid technique have been praised for decades.
Dorfman recounts in her own words her history and her artistry, and I did find her honesty and sense of humor engaging. However, we only get a glimpse of her striking photographs of writers, poets, and celebrities and I felt the movie would have been better served with her relating her personal experience with these photos and the people in them. Also, it's only towards the last third of the doc that we see her work with ordinary folk , and it seemed to me there was more of a story to be told there, as well.
Although the film is only 1 hr. and 16 min. in length, the pacing was way too deliberate for my tastes, even getting tedious at times. Overall. I though there was a better tale to be told than what was presented in this doc unfortunately.
Set in 1983 in a Slovakian school, this is a powerful and dialogue driven Czech film directed by Jan Hrebejk and written by Petr Jarchovsky. During this era, the nation was entrenched in the Soviet Union's Communist orbit.
Zuzana Maurery is superb portraying the imperious and rather despicable teacher Maria Drazdechova, who uses her position of Party Chairwoman at the school to manipulate parents and students into doing all sorts of favors for her. If they refuse, she makes sure they are harassed and given poor grades, while those who cooperate are protected and given high marks.
When a rather tragic incident occurs with one of the harassed students, a meeting is called for all parents in the teacher's class to try and investigate what exactly is happening. Often told through flashbacks, we begin to see the web Drazdechova has spun here. The supporting cast , too numerous to mention, are truly excellent here, as well, with most naturalistic performances. It will all lead to a highly dramatic conclusion.
All in all, I thought this was a move that was very well acted, directed, and written, so if you like cerebral and intense foreign dramas you may very well like this one.
Bad Lucky Goat (2017)
I picked up a copy of this DVD at my local library and it proved to be a rather pleasant surprise.
Corn Denton (Honlenny Huffington) and his sister Rita (Klara Howard) are two squabbling siblings sent out on an errand by their mother to pick up some benches for the tourist hotel their parents operate, as the season is about to begin on the Caribbean island of Port Paradise. Taking the family truck, they accidentally run over and kill a large black goat on the road.
From there, they'll be all kinds of quirky adventures and colorful characters ahead, as they try and raise the money that day to repair their parents vehicle. The film has enough humorous moments and a natural unpredictability about it that I found appealing, although not everything works here. Of course, the plush cinematography of the island certainly adds well to the mix.
All in all, this low-budget indie, by first time writer and director Samir Oliveros, worked rather well. I'll be interested to see what else Oliveros brings to the screen in the future.
The Stolen (2017)
Despite Its Drawbacks the Film Kept Me Engaged
Set in 1882 on South Island, New Zealand, this adult drama has a number of preposterous plot elements and is not exactly your feel-good movie of the year, but it held my interest throughout and I wondered how it would all turn out. Alice Eve stars as Charlotte Lockton who has relocated to New Zealand from England with her husband David. However, soon after their arrival her husband is killed by home invaders and her baby boy kidnapped.
Charlotte will risk it all by embarking on a hazardous wagon trek (transporting supplies and prostitutes) to the Wild West-like environs of Goldtown. where she will try to locate and take back her baby boy. They'll be plenty of violence and unpleasantness to come as the movie progresses.
Overall, as mentioned, despite its flaws I found myself engaged enough and I particularly liked the ending here.
Set in 1881 in the Territory of New Mexico, this film came across as quite terrible to me. A woman (Jezibell Anat) is seeking help from a U.S. Marshal, his associates, and the good people of the town of Lincoln, to restore her rightful ownership to a saloon, which was wrested away by the greedy and violent new town leaders. Amidst all of that, numerous bounty hunters are looking to bring in, dead or alive, the outlaw Billy the Kid (Jason Cash) who is in that area.
Sorry to say, the acting here is the most stilted and wooden I've seen in a movie in a long time. Why this movie was even made is a mystery to me?
I picked this DVD up in Redbox, but I would suggest not wasting a penny on this dud of a movie.
Blood Money (2017)
Ludicrous & Annoying Script
Willa Fitzgerald, Ellar Coltrane, and Jacob Artist portray 3 friends with an interconnected personal history that set out to do some white water rafting in a rather secluded wooded area. John Cusack plays a nutso embezzler of $8 million who has parachuted into the same area to recover the money dropped there in 4 duffel bags.
When one of the trio finds the loot and wants to keep it, the chase and mayhem will begin. I just found this script ludicrous and annoying, so by the time it all came to an end I really didn't care much about what happened to any of these characters. There is very raw language throughout for those concerned about same.
Cops and Robbers (2017)
Not Worth the Slog to Get to the Surprises
Is it worth the slog here to get to the film's surprises? I would say no. During most of the movie, I was thinking they should have sent the cast back to acting school before they filmed this and edited the script so that it wasn't laughably bad.
The twists that do come later, which I won't reveal, can be clever and I didn't guess them but also can be somewhat confusing, at least to me. All in all, I would say save yourself the time--it's not worth it.
Not Worthy of Your Time
Sorry to say, but this film is about as lame as they come, as it contains loads of wooden and stilted dialogue and acting.
Lorenzo Lamas stars as Danny "Boy" Jackson, a veteran and popular boxer who's never had a shot at the title. Now, he's scheduled to meet the champ but all purses will go to charity, so it's more for honor than anything else.
However soon after arriving at his motel, his 14-year-old son Jamie is kidnapped and taken hostage. Danny will learn the kidnappers are human traffickers and that he'll have to act quickly to save his son. Thus, the remainder of the movie will involve Danny frantically trying to locate and recover Jamie.
If you're looking for a lot of Danny Trejo, who's featured on the DVD jacket, he's only in a few scenes in a backup role. To note, there were no subtitles on my DVD copy, but I was able to access them on my closed captions in my remote.
Overall, I just found this film to be below B-movie quality and I would say it's probably not worthy of your time.
Fuchi ni tatsu (2016)
This Brutally Dark Japanese Film is Not an Easy Watch
This brutally dark Japanese film, written and directed by Koji Fukada, is certainly not an easy watch. A man, Toshio, (Kanji Furatachi), who owns and operates a metal workshop, is approached by an old acquaintance (Tadanobu Asano), who's just been released from prison, and is hired to assist in the shop. However, as their real past relationship is slowly revealed, it will have the most devastating consequences on all concerned, including Toshio's family.
Although the movie is very well presented and kept me rapt in attention as to what would come next, it just becomes incredibly sad and depressing as it progresses. When you think it can't get any more so, beware because it can.
This film left me with a profound sense of sadness so I guess it was doing its job of connecting with its audience, but my enjoyment of it was tempered by its bleakness.
Dementia 13 (2017)
May Not Appeal to Hard Core Horror Fans But There Was Enough Here to Keep My Interest Throughout
I can't compare this remake of Francis Ford Coppola's 1963 horror film because I haven't seen the original. In this movie, a family gathers at the isolated Castle Haloran to attend a ceremony commemorating the death of 6-year-old Kathleen, the youngest family member from a drowning many years before. It isn't long before the murders, mayhem, and madness will begin and I was intrigued enough to wonder what the heck was going on here and why.
Although the dialogue and acting can be of B-movie quality and the film can certainly be weird and bizarre at times, there was enough here to keep up my interest throughout and I certainly have seen worse.
Uplifting & Important Documentary
This uplifting and important documentary focuses mostly on the 160 acre Illinois farm of Marty Travis, which has been family owned and operated since 1830. Travis, along with his wife Kris and son Will, is determined to organically grow quality yields that will shun the large commercial farm methods using herbicides and GMO's.
He has built up a network of chefs and restaurants in the Chicago area that want his product, and has also successfully joined in a collaborative effort with neighboring farms to schedule crop growth on an alternating yearly track that will not only satisfy customer needs but also keep the land they own sustainable for the future.
Travis, aside from the most important tenet of quality above quantity, really wants to help people achieve their best health and applauds others around the globe who work towards stopping environmental destruction. Later in the movie, we will meet other farmers and ranchers who share this goal and in their own unique ways have taken action to achieve it.
I obtained this doc, a film by Matt Wechsler and Annie Speicher, from my local library. It has on the DVD a 92 min. and a 52 min. version, and I watched the 92 min. one. Unfortunately, the DVD has no subtitles.
I Do... Until I Don't (2017)
Dialogue Falls Flat
There's a good cast and some humorous and poignant moments here, but the movie never seems to gel into an enjoyable or entertaining film. A lot of the dialogue and crude humor also seems to fall flat and I could not emotionally connect to the ensemble characters.
Dolly Wells is strong in her role of Vivian Prudeck, a conniving British documentary filmmaker trying to interview 3 couples that she hopes will eventually prove her theory that marriage as we know it is archaic, and that it should be a 7 year contract with an option to renew. Prudeck's interplay with her deadpan assistant Mel (Connie Shin) can be darkly funny at times.
Overall, despite some top shelf names in the cast here, the script by Lake Bell, who also directs and stars in the movie, just doesn't consistently work , in my opinion, and therefore this one was a disappointment to me.
Monotonous & Indecipherable
Reminding me of recent Terrence Malick films, this movie was just terribly monotonous and indecipherable to me. It's filled with dream-like sequences and symbolic meanings, that perhaps only the filmmakers, their close friends, and relatives are privy to.
Set in a small logging community in Northern California, the movie follows the worsening grief and depression of Theresa (Kirsten Dunst) after the death of her mother from a terminal illness. However, Theresa had tried to shorten her mother's suffering by giving her a "cocktail" prepared by her boss (Pilou Asbaek), who owns a medicinal marijuana shop.
This film was just torturous to watch for me to the end, and I repeatedly checked how much time was left in it more often than any movie in recent memory. I would say avoid it like the plague, unless you're looking for an aid for insomnia.
Crown Heights (2017)
Quiet Yet Powerful Presentation
Initially set in the early 1980's, in Brooklyn, N.Y., this is a very deliberately paced yet powerful dramatic portrayal of the wrongful conviction of 18-year-old Colin Warner (Lakeith Stanfield). At that time crime was soaring throughout the nation, and police, prosecutors, and politicians were looking for convictions, not caring much how they got them.
In this true story case, Warner was convicted when the police pressured witnesses enough to give false testimony and seal his fate. Languishing in a maximum security prison, Warner received tireless aid from his close friend KC (Nnamdi Asomugha) and later from his wife-to-be (Natalie Paul) and a dedicated attorney (Bill Camp)
These type of movies always make me angry because I don't understand how people in powerful positions can allow others to rot in jail for long periods of time while knowing that they're innocent. How do these folks live with themselves?
All in all, this film, written and directed by Matt Ruskin, is not for those looking for an action flick, but if you like quiet yet powerful movies then you might very well like this one.
Film Lacks Emotional Punch But Still is an Inspiring Tale
This true survival story probably should have contained more of an emotional punch because it is a remarkable tale. However, the filmmakers here appear content on more of a slow burn approach to retelling former pro hockey player and meth addict, at the time, Eric LeMarque's 8 days of hell lost on a snowy mountainside in Winterhaven. Combined with numerous depressing flashbacks, throughout the movie, depicting LeMarque's troubled life it all added up for me as not the easiest watch.
However,as you might guess from the title it does have a poignant ending, and the clips at the film's conclusion of the real Eric LeMarque and what he has done with his life offer an inspiring message of receiving and taking advantage of a second chance in life
Person to Person (2017)
Has Its Moments of Quirky Humor But Film Loses Steam as it Progresses
The movie follows an ensemble cast of characters as they face various situations in their lives, all in one day in New York City. The humor here can be subtle and quirky at times, but the film itself loses steam, in my opinion, as it progresses and ends up not really going anywhere.
There were moments when I felt this indie had a Woody Allen feel to it, but those moments were too few and far between. All in all, some sparks of cleverness but they just weren't sustained.
The Wilde Wedding (2017)
All-Star Cast But Movie Rings Hollow
An all-star ensemble cast gathers at the palatial home of retired movie star Eve Wilde (Glenn Close), as she prepares to marry (her fifth) novelist Harold Alcott (Patrick Stewart). Close and John Malkovich,who portrays her first husband Laurence, are strong on screen, and I liked the performance of Yael Stone, as Clementine, one of Harold's daughters, in a supporting role.
However, despite the terrific cast, I found the film itself quite disappointing with almost all the characters self-indulgent and shallow. Their continuous attempts at having sexual flings get quite tedious.
Overall, this movie, written and directed by Damian Harris, just came across to me as hollow and soulless.
The Layover (2017)
It's hard to believe one of the screen's fine talents, William H.Macy, directed this abomination of a movie. I don't care if it's raunchy and crude which it certainly is, but it's also horribly unfunny and that's a deadly combination in my book. To add insult to injury, I found the film to be terribly demeaning of women.
All in all, save yourself the pain and run far far away from this stinker!
Needed Today More Than Ever
Although I follow politics quite closely, I have to admit I had only vaguely heard the name I.F. Stone. Stone, who passed away in 1989 at the age of 81, was a most influential investigative reporter, and published his newsletter I.F. Stone's Weekly from 1953 to 1971. I had no clue that it was a great influence on such iconoclasts and investigative reporters of today as Amy Goodman, Matt Taibbi, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Carl Bernstein, Cenk Uygur, John Carlos Frey, and many others too numerous to mention.
Stone,by doing his investigations and digging into published documents, was able to debunk and point out the lies and spin of governments, the mainstream media, and corporations. Has it ever been more needed then with the current Administration here in America, as well as around the globe? It is so essential that others have picked up the mantle to bring transparency to the obfuscations and lies that those in power would like to keep hidden. I believe social media is also playing a role today in quickly bringing to light things that may well have been able to be kept secret for long periods of time.
Overall, this documentary, directed by Fred Peabody, stresses the importance of today's investigative reporters and the role and influence I.F.Stone played in all of it. As I see it, this is a most important film.