Secret In Their Eyes – Trailer

Chiwetel Ejiofor (a name that is much easier to type than it is to say) MUST become a huge star one of these days, and if Secret In Their Eyes doesn’t do it, then my money is on Marvel Studios’ upcoming Benedict Cumberbatch starrer, Doctor Strange.

I think that I first saw him in Joss Whedon’s Serenity, and he was pretty good there; though if the trailer is any indication this guy is primed to explode any movie now.

That is, if there’s any justice in the universe–which I guess depends upon where you stand.

Magic Mike XXL – Review

“Magic Mike XXL” is in many ways a pretty enjoyable movie. Channing Tatum, despite seeming to be physically imposing, moves in a manner that belies his size and makes him seem really personable–more so than I am accustomed to seeing him–and the whole cast seemed to be having a good time, which shows.

And for some that’s all they want from a movie, so it works on that level.

That being said, it’s almost surreal how unreal the movie feels. I’m accustomed to movies revolving around strippers (or any other field so pornography-adjacent) to have some sort of an edge, and not to feel like it’s suffering from a serious case of Disneyfication.

What I would have liked to have seen would have been somewhat evocative of Times Square before all the peepshows and porno theaters were gentrified out of existence; a portrayal of slightly damaged people, overcoming the odds.

But that’s not what we get here, mainly because one of the things Magic Mike XXL lacks is any sense of threat, of danger, which typically goes hand-in-hand with sexiness. Here it’s all about the tease, which is nothing if not frustrating (though it didn’t appear to bother the woman sitting next to me, who was REALLY into it).

In Mike’s world all the men are either strong, confident, witty, capable, agile, philosophical or really good singers (sometimes embodying all of those characteristics in one individual, if Ken (Matt Bomer) or Mike (Tatum) are any indication.

Continue reading

Spring – Review

Spring movie poster

“Be careful who you love, because Spring is coming and it’s a monster.”

Some critics has described Spring as ‘Lovecraftian,’–which is what drew me to it in the first place–and while a very good movie, Lovecraftian it’s not.  For it to be so would imply that it was based on, or somehow similar or related to, the work of H.P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu Mythos.

And it’s not, not in the least.  Sure there are monsters, some even of the aquatic variety, and lots of water; but if that made a movie Lovecraftian, then Steven Spielberg’s Jaws could be as well (which it most definitely isn’t).

Because for a movie to be called so would mean that it not only involves monsters, but embody some of the underlying ideas of Lovecraft’s Mythos, which typically revolves around sinister forces aligned against humankind, whether on a larger or  smaller scale.

Now what Spring is is an awesomely taut, interesting love story.  It’s also best watched twice because you can see the care with which Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson craft their story.  There’s virtually no wasted frames in the entire movie, with everything you see either helping to contribute to a feeling of dread or sell the underlying premise.

Though it’s not perfect, with its weakest scene being the one where Louise (Nadia Pilker) looks into supernatural means to cure her…condition.  The problem isn’t the scene in and of itself, more so than if a person had lived as long as she had, she’d probably have tried it already (though in the movie’s defense she might have done so because she found herself growing closer to Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) and wasn’t thinking straight.

It’s no accident that that title of the movie is Spring, because the themes of death and rebirth run through the entire movie, most often in a very clever fashion.

The season of Spring has begun on iTunes, though be careful because while love may be eternal, you’re not.

Cursed ‘Crow’ Loses Another Lead

I don’t believe in literal curses, though I do believe that–for whatever reason–some productions are more troubled in others and you can’t get more ‘troubled’ than The Crow.

Keep in mind that Brandon Lee was killed during production on the original film–shot at close range by a blank–and while no one has died during the remake, the movie still can’t seem to hold on to lead actors.

The first to leave was Luke Evans, who left in January.  Most recently his replacement, Jack Huston, has abandoned the production.

And if this weren’t bad enough, the company producing the film, Relativity Media, is walking a financial tightrope as well, making the possibility that we won’t see a reimagined Crow anytime soon a very real possibility.

The (Un)necessary Remake Dept. – Fame

Fame (1980)

Generally speaking, for me watching a musical is like going to the dentist:  I just know at some point it’s going to hurt.  I may not know when, or in some instances even how, but pain is pretty much a given.

Which is why I tend to avoid musicals (and dentists), though in reference to the former what bothers me more is when characters sing in dance in situations that don’t warrant such behavior–as if there are that many situations that would.

And then there’s Fame, which is brilliant.  It was directed by Alan Parker, who did the equally remarkable–for entirely different reasons–Midnight Express (a film that had such a effect on me that I wanted nothing to do with Turkey, till I learned that the screenwriter, Oliver Stone, took a whole lot of liberties with his screenplay).

Fame takes place at the High School of Performing Arts, which at least puts all the singing and dancing in some sort of context.

But what’s most important is the tenor of the performances, which are all pretty good though deserving of special mention are Paul McCrane (Montgomery) and Ralph (Paul Miller), who bring an honesty and vulnerability to their roles that I am not entirely sure was on the page.

There has already been a reboot in 2009, which I haven’t seen–though if I had known Charles S. Dutton was in it I might have changed my mind, especially since he has the uncanny ability of elevating just about everything he turns up in.

Fame (2009)

in 1982, prior to the last reboot there was a series on NBC based on Fame as well, though it had relatively little of the edge that made the movie so effective.

Fame TV Series Opening

Though I wasn’t aware that they were still exploiting the memory of those dancing and angsty teens, there’s apparently there’s a play based on the movie going on in London (or at least there was as of last year).

Fame: The Musical

Point Break (2015) – Trailer

The trailer for the upcoming Point Break. like Poltergeist, illustrates the problem with seemingly pointless remakes.  It actually looks pretty interesting, but as someone who’s seen the original, on some level I will always be comparing it, as opposed to just enjoying it for what it is.

And i don’t want that to be interpreted in ay way as saying that the original movie was such a cinema landmark, because it wasn’t; which reinforces why copying it is such a dubious exercise.

And while I have no idea who Luke Bracey is, he comes off–in this trailer, at any rate–as charisma-bereft as Keanu Reeves, so there’s at least that.

Love In The Time Of Monsters – Review

Love in the Time of Monsters poster

“So this is where the American Dream died.”

  —Marla

Matt Jackson’s Love in the Time of Monsters–a play on Gabriel Garcia’s Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera?–is interesting for a lot of reasons, the first being that it’s so thematically similar to Zombeavers that it almost plays like a sequel.

Luckily, Love in the Time of Monsters is a better movie, though neither will be winning any awards, Saturn or otherwise, any time soon.

My biggest issue with it is that it takes two interesting leads–Marla (Gena Shaw) and Carla (Marissa Skell), both who’s views on family vacations were marred by the death of their father, who died when Paul Bunyan’s ax fell on him during a trip to Trees of Mystery in Klamath, California–and does relatively little with them.

Paul Bunyan and Babe Paul Bunyan and Babe

The movie covers their first vacation together in 15 years.

And while neither sister was unscathed by the experience, Marla seems worse off, becoming cynical and unable to maintain a relationship for any length of time.

Hoping that this family outing goes better than that last one–it doesn’t–they decide to visit Uncle Slavko’s All-American Family Lodge, where Carla’s fiancee works as a Bigfoot performer.

Yes.  I did just type ‘Bigfoot performer.’

Where the movie succeeds most is in the backgrounds of its quirky supporting cast, such as Uncle Slavko (Michael McShane), who, despite running an “All-American Family Lodge” isn’t American or Dr. Lincoln/Doug (Doug Jones) a chemist that just happens to be working at that lodge because of the economy.

And sure, they’re less individuals than vehicles designed to get the story from one point to the next, but everyone looks like they’re having enough fun that it’s easy to overlook.

Another similarity to Zombeavers is a panoply of zombified animals, which would have been much more welcome if they had come a bit earlier in the movie–they first make an appearance in the latter third–with the zombified trout being particularly effective (though the vultures (?) were pretty memorable as well).

When all is said and done, Love in the Time of Monsters is fun, and pretty well-acted, considering the genre, though it’s not quite Hitchcock’s The Birds.

Love in the Time of Monsters is prowling the fringes of iTunes, VOD and Amazon.