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Kyle Kersten was a true friend of TCM. One of the first and most active participants of the Message Boards, “Kyle in Hollywood” (aka, hlywdkjk) demonstrated a depth of knowledge and largesse of spirit that made him one of the most popular and respected voices in these forums. This thread is a living memorial to his life and love of movies, which remain with us still.

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From the Last 25 Years


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#1 LawrenceA

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Posted Yesterday, 11:12 PM

V/H/S Viral - Third entry in the low-budget indie, "found footage", horror anthology series. There are 3 stories, as well as a fourth framing story. The first story concerns a stage magician with a magic cloak that gives him real powers. The second (and best) tale (in Spanish) tells of a home inventor who creates a device that connects him with an alternate dimension where things look the same at first, but eventually diverge in startling ways. The third story follows a group of teenagers who travel to Tijuana to film a skateboarding video only to run afoul of demon worshiping cultists. The framing story concerns a young guy whose girlfriend goes missing thanks to an ice cream truck leading police on a cross-city chase.

 

This installment seems to have forgotten the overall premise of the series: that these individual tales are from old VHS tapes. This one, as indicated by the subtitle, concerns more modern filming techniques, such as cell-phone video and GoPro cameras. Often throughout the stories the filming switches to traditional filming methods, as well, dropping the found footage angle completely. The framing story is atrocious, and pretty much ruins the film, while the magician story isn't much better. The alternate reality story shows some originality, and the skateboarders story features some nice touches, but the overuse of GoPro cameras showing close-ups of the kids faces gets very old. This is easily the weakest in the series, but I hope they continue on at some point, as the other films had more to offer. Stick around after the credits for a surprise.  5/10

 

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#2 LawrenceA

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Posted Yesterday, 08:40 PM

The Two Faces of January - Early 1960's-set drama with some thriller touches, based on a story by Patricia Highsmith. Rydal (Oscar Isaac) is an American living in Greece and working as a tour guide and small-time hustler. He hones in on an American couple who seem like they have a lot of money, husband Chester (Viggo Mortensen) and his much younger wife Colette (Kirsten Dunst). Rydal thinks they may be an easy grift for a free meal and a few extra bucks when he sees Chester moving a body in his hotel. Rydal helps him, and agrees to assist Chester and Colette in getting phony passports to escape the country. It seems Chester is a conman, too, and his last con caught up with them, resulting in a dead private investigator. Rydal takes Chester and Colette to some nearby islands while they wait for the passports to be drawn up, which gives them ample time to act on growing suspicions, resentments and other dark impulses. Also featuring David Warshofsky and Daisy Bevan.

 

Scripted and directed by Hossein Amini, this looks very nice, with good costumes and the beautiful Greek countryside. The performances are all good, and Mortensen is given more room to stretch than in many of his recent outings. There's nothing here that one hasn't seen before, but it is done well enough to warrant a viewing.  7/10

 

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#3 LawrenceA

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Posted Yesterday, 07:08 PM

Two Days, One Night - French-Belgian co-production that concerns the terrible situation of Sandra (Marion Cotillard). Married, and with two young children, she works at a small company that builds solar panels. Or at least she did until she recently spent much time off due to a bout of depression that left her hospitalized, after which the employees were given a vote: choose to allow Sandra to come back to work, or take their annual bonuses. If Sandra comes back, they'll all lose money, as much as a thousand Euros. They vote for their bonuses, but the boss agrees to have one more vote the following Monday. If Sandra can rally enough people to vote for her, she'll keep her job. But this means she must visit each one at their homes over the weekend and confront them about their votes. This would try the strongest of people, but Sandra's fragile mental state may not hold up, even with the support of her loving husband Manu (Fabrizio Rongione).

 

From writer-directors Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, this is fly-on-the-wall realism, without a hint of Hollywood glamour. There is no musical score, only the occasional song heard on a radio, and the cinematography is hand-held (although not shaky-cam). The performers are all believable, and Cotillard is very good in a role that could have been theatrically hysteric, but instead opts for inner turmoil, and as a depressive, I found it based more in reality than the usual screen depictions. Some may complain that the material isn't big enough to sustain a film, but this movie is more concerned with smaller, human interaction and dilemma than high drama. Cotillard earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Recommended.   8/10

 

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#4 LawrenceA

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Posted Yesterday, 03:16 PM

22 Jump Street - Sequel to the 2012 comedic film take on the late 1980's TV series. Cops Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are once again assigned to the Jump Street unit headed by Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), where they once again go undercover, this time in the local university where they must track down and stop a drug ring. Schmidt starts a romance with a nice girl (Amber Stevens) while Jenko falls in with the frats guys and earns a spot on the football team. Also featuring Peter Stormare, Wyatt Russell, Jillian Bell, Keith & Kenneth Lucas, Caroline Aaron, Craig Roberts, and Nick Offerman. 

 

This was funnier than I expected, which is the same way I felt about the first movie. There are a lot of in-jokes about movie sequels and their flaws. Hill and Tatum are both good, and I still think these are the best performances from Tatum, an actor I previously detested. Jillian Bell is also funny as an acerbic dormmate. Be sure and stick around through the end credits, where the next 15 or so sequels are previewed.  7/10

 

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#5 LawrenceA

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Posted Yesterday, 12:36 PM

Tusk - Truly original horror comedy from writer-director Kevin Smith. Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) hosts a podcast with his pal Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) in Los Angeles. Wally takes a trip to Canada to interview the star of a viral video, but when things don't pan out, he answers an advertisement left by Howard Howe (Michael Parks). Howard is looking for a roommate, and promises to regale his guests with tales from his long and interesting life of travels. Wally thinks he could get some good stuff for his podcast, so makes the long trip to Howard's secluded north Manitoba home. However, Howard isn't looking for a roommate: he's looking for a victim to surgically change into a walrus-man! Meanwhile, Wally's girlfriend Ally (Genesis Rodriguez) and Teddy start to worry about Wally, so they travel to Canada to try and find him. Also featuring Harley Quinn Smith, Lily-Rose Depp, and Johnny Depp as Guy Lapointe.

 

After the relative failure of Smith's Zack and Miri Make a Porno in 2008, the writer-director fell into a creative funk, which he has subsequently talked about overcoming by developing a love for pot smoking. That new habit has certainly shaped his cinematic output since then. His next film, 2011's Red State, was a noted departure from his previous work, more political and more serious. This next movie, while certainly not political or serious, is still uncharted territory. The ridiculous premise is treated seriously for the most part, in full Cronenberg-style body-horror. Once Depp shows up as the silly French-Canadian inspector Lapointe, the film gets more comedic. Parks is terrific as the cracked Howe, though. This is the first installment in Smith's proposed "True North" trilogy, all to be set in Canada and to feature Depp's Lapointe character. The next film, Yoga Hosers, focusing on the convenience store workers player by Smith and Depp's daughters in Tusk, was released in 2016. The third film, tentatively entitled Moose Jaws and dealing with a killer moose, has yet to film.   7/10

 

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#6 LawrenceA

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 09:28 PM

The Trip to Italy - Follow-up to 2010's The Trip that reunites stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon with director Michael Winterbottom. Steve and Rob play slightly fictionalized versions of themselves, taking a week-long trip through Italy, staying in posh hotels and dining on fine cuisine. The film is really nothing more than Steve and Rob improvising conversations and observations, humorously and often utilizing celebrity impersonations. The film won't stick with you, but it's very witty, fun and light, and the perfect remedy to the last film I watched (Transformers part 4).   7/10

 

 

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#7 LawrenceA

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 07:12 PM

Transformers: Age of Extinction - Wow...this is like being beaten unconscious by 50 pounds of stupid for 2 and a half hours. As this fourth film in the series begins, the Transformers, an alien race of shape-shifting robots, have been declared illegal by the US government following the destruction wrought in Chicago at the end of the last movie. A devious CIA chief (Kelsey Grammer) commands a group of special ops troops who hunt down and destroy any Transformer they find, be it the evil Decepticons or even the friendly Autobots. They are aided by Lockdown (voice of Mark Ryan), a previously unseen Transformer who is part of neither faction. Meanwhile, genius engineer and inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg!) runs an electronics and mechanical junk business out of his barn in smalltown Texas. He and his business partner (TJ Miller) buy a beat-up old semi truck that they find in an old movie theater (!!), and when they start working on it they find out that it is actually Optimus Prime (v: Peter Cullen), the benevolent leader of the Autobots. Fixing Optimus has put Cade in danger from the CIA as a collaborator, so he and his daughter (Nicola Peltz) and her boyfriend (Jack Reynor) go on the run with Optimus and the few remaining Autobots. They all must not only contend with the military and Lockdown who after them, but also the agents of the sinister KSI corporation, whose egotistical CEO (Stanley Tucci) has found a way to make his own Transformers from scratch. Also featuring Titus Welliver, Sophia Myles, Bingbing Li, Thomas Lennon, and the voices of John Goodman, Ken Watanabe, Robert Foxworth, and Frank Welker.

 

This has to be the most blatantly commercial film I have ever seen. I counted no less than 2 dozen conspicuous cases of product placement, and that's not including all of the new vehicles models used for the Transformers themselves. While still directed by Michael Bay, the cast of the previous films opted out, so we have all new characters, but using the word "character" may be stretching things a bit, as these are all just shallow archetypes. The script by Ehren Kruger is both woefully over-complicated with little-explained science fiction mumbo-jumbo, as well as featuring a lot of truly moronic dialogue. The action is the usual CGI mess that doesn't have any visceral impact, although they've added great spurts of neon-green "blood" spewing forth from the robots to make things a little more physical, I guess. Like the previous films, which managed to bring forth some of the worst performances from reputable actors like John Turturro and Jon Voight, this does the same with Tucci and Grammer, the latter of whom won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor (the film also won Worst Director (Bay), and was nominated for Worst Supporting Actress (Peltz), Worst Screenplay, Worst Remake or Sequel, Worst Onscreen Duo, and Worst Picture). Much was made during filming about this shooting in China, and the last third or so of the film takes place in Beijing and Hong Kong, which at least added some new scenery to the usual destruction. The much ballyhooed "Dinobots", robots that turn into dinosaurs (!!!), don't appear until around the two hour and ten minute mark (this runs an unconscionable 165 minutes). In a film chock full of stupid, I think the dumbest bit would be the good-guy Transformer who has a lit cigar in his mouth while in robot form, as well as a robot beard!!!!

 

Despite all of this idiocy, this still managed to become the biggest box office hit of the year (a substantial bit of that from China, I'm sure), and I think this film has now become, for me, the worst film ever to rank as a #1 of its year (beating out 1998's Armageddon, also from director Bay).   3/10

 

 

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#8 LawrenceA

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 01:59 PM

Transcendence - A-list science fiction marks the directorial debut of cinematographer Wally Pfister. Will (Johnny Depp) and Evelyn Caster (Rebecca Hall) are married computer scientists on the cutting edge of artificial intelligence research. When Will is shot with a poison bullet by anti-tech terrorists, both he and Evelyn team with friend Max (Paul Bettany) to try and upload Will's consciousness into a computer A.I. Their experiment is a success, but what Will starts becoming is beyond their control, and it may threaten the very existence of mankind. The large cast also includes Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Clifton Collins Jr., Cole Hauser, Kate Mara, Xander Berkeley, Cory Hardrict, Josh Stewart, and Lukas Haas.

 

This has an ambitious scope, but the execution lacks proper pacing or originality. This material has been covered over and over again in print SF and TV science fiction, at least as far back as The Outer Limits. The performances are all adequate, but this isn't really a performance-centric story. Pfister has several well-executed and well-framed shots, as one would expect, but he fails to make the proceedings engaging enough to sustain interest.  6/10

 

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#9 LawrenceA

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 11:28 PM

300: Rise of an Empire - More cartoonish historical warfare from a graphic novel by Frank Miller. The story runs concurrently with that of the first film from 2006. The Persian god-king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) is laying waste to the Greek city-states, focusing on Sparta, whom his forces meet at the Battle of Thermopylae. In this film, Xerxes's chief general and commander of all of Persia's navy, the beautiful but deadly Artemisia (Eva Green), brings her fleet of hundred of ships and thousands of warriors to do battle with the much smaller forces of the Athenians, lead by war hero Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton). Much CGI hacking, slashing and bleeding commences. Also featuring Jack O'Connell, Hans Matheson, Callan Mulvey, David Wenham, and Lena Headey.

 

Original director Zack Snyder doesn't return this time, although he co-wrote the script. Director Noam Murro tries his best to mimic the style of the first film, although this one looks cheaper, and the greenscreen sets more obvious. With much of the action set at sea, digital seaspray is constantly "splashed" onto the camera lens, but rather than adding to the reality of the shots, it makes them cheesier. Stapleton does his best as the hero, but he pales compared to the uber-macho posturing of Gerard Butler in the first film. Eva Green, on the other hand, has a hoot chewing up the scenery as the delectably evil Artemisia. I wasn't a fan of the first film, either its style or content. Those are both continued here, with the cartoon blood splattered across the screen like a slow-motion Jackson Pollack [sic] painting, and the history seeming as if it was written by a hormonal teenage boy raised on video games. If not for Eva Green, and some of the production design, I would rate this even lower.   5/10

 

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#10 LawrenceA

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 09:03 PM

3 Days to Kill - Overlong and overly sentimental action flick. Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) is a veteran assassin for the CIA, operating throughout Europe. After a major operation involving the attempted neutralization of bad guys known as the Albino (Tomas LeMarquis) and the Wolf (Richard Sammel) goes wrong, Ethan learns that the cold that's been bothering him is actually lung and brain cancer, and it's terminal. Ethan returns to France in hopes of reconnecting with his daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld) from whom he's been estranged. Her mother Christine (Connie Nielsen) reluctantly agrees when she learns of Ethan's dire prognosis. When Christine leaves for three days and charges Ethan with watching Zooey, he agrees, despite Zooey's rebellious nature. Things get more complicated when Vivi (Amber Heard) shows up on the scene. She's another CIA killer, a cold-blooded seductress with an offer for Ethan that he can't refuse: finish the job of killing the Albino and the Wolf, as well as their henchmen, and she'll give him an experimental drug that may cure his cancer.

 

This is another Euro-thriller action-fest from writer-producer Luc Besson, this time teaming with director McG. The result is slick-looking but not very inspired or original. It's 2 hour runtime is padded out with Ethan's sappy bonding moments with both his daughter and a family of Mali-born refugees squatting in his apartment. Some of the action scenes are well done, but they never rise to level of, say, Taken, the gold-standard for these kind of aging-movie-star-beats-up-Eurotrash movies.  6/10

 

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#11 LawrenceA

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 05:38 PM

This Is Where I Leave You - Dysfunctional family dramedy starring Jason Bateman as Judd Altman, a radio show producer who has just discovered that his wife (Abigail Spencer) is sleeping with his boss (Dax Shepard). As if that wasn't enough, he finds out that his father has died, and as a final wish, Judd and his siblings must return to their hometown and sit shiva in accordance with Jewish tradition, despite their father's espoused atheism. The other characters include quick-to-anger oldest brother Paul (Corey Stoll) and his wife Annie (Kathryn Hahn); sister Wendy (Tina Fey), stuck in a loveless marriage and still pining for high school sweetheart Horry (Timothy Olyphant); impulsive youngest brother Phillip (Adam Driver) who brings his much older girlfriend (Connie Britton); and mother Hillary (Jane Fonda) a serial over-sharer and author. They laugh, they cry, they fight, they grow, etc. Also featuring Rose Byrne, Debra Monk and Ben Schwartz. Some of the characterizations are good, and there are some funny scenes involving Fonda, but most of this is TV-level fare.  6/10

 

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#12 LawrenceA

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 04:07 PM

They Came Together - Absurdist parody of romantic comedies from writer Michael Showalter and director David Wain. Over dinner at a restaurant, couple Joel (Paul Rudd) and Molly (Amy Poehler) tell their friends Kyle (Bill Hader) and Karen (Ellie Kemper) how they met, and their tale is told via flashback. Every possible rom-com trope and cliche is hit, from the characters to the meet-cute to the plot developments. Also featuring Christopher Meloni, Jason Mantzoukas, Colbie Smulders, Ed Helms, Max Greenfield, Melanie Lynskey, Ken Marino, Michael Ian Black, Kenan Thompson, Jack McBrayer, Zak Orth, Michael Murphy, and a handful of surprise cameos. Wain and Showalter, the duo behind the cult film Wet Hot American Summer, manage to find the inherent ridiculousness in much of the rom-com dynamic. This film isn't as funny as their older film (which I love), but it has its moments, including a few that had me in tears from laughter.   6/10

 

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#13 LawrenceA

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 01:43 PM

The Theory of Everything - Biographical drama stars Eddie Redmayne as world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. The film begins in his university days, when he's on the edge of making his first major breakthroughs, but also when he begins to show the first symptoms of his impending neuro-muscular disease. He falls in love with fellow student Jane (Felicity Jones), who refuses to leave him even after his diagnosis. Given only a short time to live, Hawking does as much work as possible, and even fathers children with now-wife Jane. But when he lingers on much longer than anyone expected, and his physical condition continues to deteriorate, the stress begins to wear on Jane. Also featuring Simon McBurney, David Thewlis, Harry Lloyd, Adam Godley, Charlie Cox, and Emily Watson.

 

I was not really looking forward to this. While in some circles it received accolades and high praise, in others it was dismissed. I'm also not a fan of Redmayne, and I had already seen a fine screen telling of Hawking's early years in the BBC TV movie Hawking starring Benedict Cumberbatch. In the end, I didn't hate it, but I also wasn't blown away. Redmayne is fine, but he gets to use physicality for the most part. In the earlier scenes he gets by with his easy smile and general resemblance to the real Hawking. I thought Jones was very good, though, in a complicated role that can stretch the audience's sympathies. I also found it odd that this was the second film I've watched, back to back no less, featuring Emily Watson as the lead girl's mother. This was Oscar nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress (Jones), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Score, while it won the Best Actor Oscar for Redmayne. It's also one of the 1001 Movies to See Before You Die.   7/10

 

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#14 LawrenceA

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 10:20 PM

Testament of Youth - Released on the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, this true story tells of the life of Vera Brittain (Alicia Vikander), a young Englishwoman of proper breeding who is determined to attend Oxford University, against the wishes of her parents. She spends her time with her brother Edward (Taron Egerton) and his university classmates Victor (Colin Morgan) and Roland (Kit Harington), the last of which she falls in love with. He gives her the confidence to apply to university, and she is accepted. But then the War breaks out, and Roland, Edward and Victor all enlist. Vera decides her time would be better utilized as a Red Cross nurse. The War ends up changing everyone's lives irrevocably. Also featuring Emily Watson, Dominic West, Miranda Richardson, Niamh Cusack, and Hayley Atwell.

 

Based on Vera Brittain's book, this is an emotionally devastating look at the horrible cost of the War on an entire generation of British men and women. Vikander is very good, and does an able job with the accent. Egerton, Morgan, and Harington are all fine as well. The production design is detailed and evocative, and I enjoyed the use of natural light in many scenes. This failed to make much of a splash in awards season, which is a little surprising. Fans of British historical films and those with an interest in WWI, or even just tragic romances, will find something worth seeing here. Recommended.  8/10

 

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#15 LawrenceA

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 07:55 PM

Tammy - Lazy, unfocused road comedy stars Melissa McCarthy as Tammy, who has just been fired from her fast-food job and discovered that her husband (Nat Faxon) is having an affair with the next door neighbor (Toni Collette). Tammy decides to leave town, and she reluctantly agrees to take her grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon) since she has a car and a lot of ready cash. Pearl is a hard-drinking pill-popper, and along with Tammy, the two raise hell on their aimless trip across the country. Also featuring Allison Janney, Gary Cole, Mark Duplass, Kathy Bates, Sandra Oh, Sarah Becker, Ben Falcone, and Dan Aykroyd. This was McCarthy's show all the way, with her not just starring, but also producing and co-writing with her husband Ben Falcone, who also directed. The duo don't seem to know what to do with all of this creative control, though, and the result is very disappointing. The jokes are cheap and obvious, often crass, but with little shock and nearly no wit. Sarandon is pretty good as the grandmother, playing a character with gray hair and a little less spring in her step. The rest of the cast of dependable players are wasted, though. This earned two nominations at the Golden Raspberry Awards, for Worst Actress (McCarthy) and Worst Supporting Actress (Sarandon).  4/10

 

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#16 LawrenceA

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 05:27 PM

Swelter - Low-rent modern western starring Lennie James as Bishop, the sheriff of a small desert town on the border of Arizona and Nevada. Four strangers pull into town one day: Cole (Grant Bowler), the group's leader; Stillman (Jean-Claude Van Damme), a tough guy with his own code; Boyd (Josh Henderson); and Kane (Daniele Favilli), the psycho younger brother of Cole. They were all involved in a botched casino heist a decade ago, and while the four of them were sent to prison, a fifth member of the gang escaped, and with the money. The foursome thinks it's in this small town, and they think the sheriff knows more than he's saying. Also featuring Alfred Molina as the drunk town doctor, and Catalina Sandino Moreno as the sheriff's girlfriend. Co-starring Courtney Hope, Freya Tingley, Abby Miller, Guy Wilson, and Tracey Walter.

 

A lot of this looks really cheap, with badly lit digital photography making scenes look like some kid's YouTube video. I'm not sure why James, Molina, or Moreno agreed to be in this. I know a job's a job, but still. Maybe it was tempting to sort of be in a western. Van Damme is also wasted in a minor supporting role, which is sad since this is the kind of thing where he's usually the hero or at least the lead villain. Of course, he's front and center in all of the advertising material.    4/10

 

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#17 LawrenceA

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 02:00 PM

Super Duper Alice Cooper - Canadian rock documentary profiling the life and career of Vincent Furnier, a preacher's son born in Detroit and raised in Phoenix who, along with some high school buddies, formed the band Alice Cooper in the late 1960's, which would go on to be one of the biggest rock acts of the 1970's. Furnier, the lead singer of the band, eventually legally changed his name to Alice Cooper, and the stage persona became solely identified with him. The band naturally bristles at this, and Cooper goes solo, where he continued to find success. The movie also covers his battles with alcoholism and drug addiction. The movie is comprised of still photos and vintage TV and film footage, narrated by current interviews with the participants. The end effect is mostly agreeable, although the film's last third seemed rushed, and a couple of his best known songs were not heard or seen performed. It's still a good look at the life of this Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, and this is coming from someone who isn't much of a fan of the music.   7/10

 

 

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#18 LawrenceA

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 08:16 PM

Stonehearst Asylum - Old-fashioned Gothic horror from producer Mel Gibson and director Brad Anderson. In 1899, young doctor Edward Newgate (Jim Sturgess) arrives at the title location, a massive mental hospital located in the Scottish wilderness. He is greeted by the sinister Mickey Finn (David Thewlis), head of security, who ushers Dr. Newgate into the office of Dr. Lamb (Ben Kingsley), the head of the institution. After a long first day of touring the facility and being the guest of honor at a strange banquet, Newgate gets restless late at light and wanders the corridors, eventually finding a basement full of prison cells holding even more patients. However, these inmates, led by Dr. Salt (Michael Caine), claim to actually be the rightful staff, and that Dr. Lamb, Mr. Finn and all of the others Newgate has met thus far are actually the patients, who have recently taken over the asylum. Newgate must play his cards close to the vest, biding his time to come up with a plan to free the basement prisoners without being discovered. Newgate is assisted by beautiful patient Eliza Graves (Kate Beckinsale), who wants safety for everyone. Also featuring Sinead Cusack, Jason Flemyng, and Brendan Gleeson.

 

If you haven't guessed, this is based on Edgar Allen Poe's short story "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether." The period detail is well realized, with atmospheric sets and rich costume design. The performances are generally good, with Thewlis a stand-out as the malignant Finn, and Cusack sympathetic as one of the basement prisoners. This was originally entitled Eliza Graves, which seems to place more emphasis on Beckinsale's character than the script or the released film does. Despite the high quality of the production, and the caliber of those involved both in front of and behind the camera, this appears to have barely been distributed in the US.   7/10

 

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#19 LawrenceA

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 05:36 PM

Still Alice - Heartbreaking drama follows Alice (Julianne Moore), a brilliant linguist and university professor who, at the relatively young age of 50, is diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. She tries to cope as best as she can, but of course it proves to be a burden to her ambitious  doctor husband (Alec Baldwn), as well as her 3 grown children (Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish, and Kristen Stewart). Also featuring Seth Gilliam, Shane McRae, and Stephen Kunken.

 

The movie is told in a straightforward, no-nonsense fashion. Moore is very good, onscreen in nearly every scene, and ably projecting the fear, anger, and confusion of the illness. One stylistic touch that works is having Moore in focus in the foreground while her surroundings are out of focus, communicating the sense of growing detachment from those around her. Stewart is also good as Alice's youngest daughter Lydia, a struggling actress who shows the most strength in confronting the disease. I've always found Alzheimer's to be a terrifying illness, and there is a history of it in my family. I also worked a bit in a dementia/Alzheimer's ward, which will leave an impression on you. So the story hit me on an emotional level, despite the surface simplicity of its "disease-of-the-week" scenario. Moore, after 3 previous nominations, finally and deservedly won the Best Actress Oscar. Recommended.  8/10

 

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#20 LawrenceA

LawrenceA

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 02:39 PM

Spring - Low-key, unique blend of romance and monster movie. Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) is a directionless young man who decides, after a series of bad events, to travel to Italy. He makes his way to a beautiful coastal town where he meets beautiful local Louise (Nadia Hilker). He falls in love, and gets a job with an elderly vintner (Francesco Carnelutti). Evan and Louise seem to have a sweet romance building when she starts exhibiting some strange behavior. Louise admits to having an illness, but the truth is something beyond the realms of reality. Also featuring Nick Nevern, Chris Palko, Jonathan Silvestri, and Jeremy Gardner.

 

I haven't seen anything quite like this one before, a tender romance mixed with a bizarre creature story. Pucci is excellent, as is Hilker, an actress that I've seen recently on a TV series where she wasn't quite as impressive. The effects, used sparingly, are largely well done, although some of the CGI used is lower grade. This isn't a thriller, or a gory horror-fest, so anyone going in with those expectations will be disappointed. This was the second feature for writer Justin Benson and directors Benson and Aaron Moorhead, after 2012's Resolution (which I have not seen), and I look forward to their next, The Endless due later in 2017.   7/10

 

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