‘Mine Games’ Review

Mine Games movie poster

“”Mine Games” Is A Well-Done Thriller That Doesn’t Overstay It’s Welcome.”

Mind Games is a pretty savory bit of murder and seemingly random violence that from the start drops hints designed to lead you in one direction, while the narrative heads in another.

It’s a pretty clever movie in other ways as well.  For instance, one character is a apparently grabbed by someone in an abandoned mine, or was she?  Whomever it was left bloody fingernails across her ankle, seemingly no one else can see them.

The weird happenings continue to pile up one one after another, till there can be only one answer, no matter how unlikely or impossible that answer happens to be.

If I were to compare Mind Games to any other film it would be Cabin In The Woods, though I am not implying that that it’s as entertaining as that film, because it isn’t.  It’s not nearly as fantastical, though it has a few surprises up its sleeve.  It’s also well-cast, and like that film, revolves around a group of young people that are visiting a cabin in the woods that belongs to one of their relatives.

Though the characters don’t feel disposable, they’re also not quite as fleshed out as I would have liked because I have seen the movie twice, but I still can’t tell you anyone’s names, though to be fair that may have more to do with most of the actors being unfamiliar to me than anything else.

Though I recognized one–he wasn’t a big name, but at least was visually familiar; while another was a dead ringer for Shawn Ashmore, though I am pretty sure it wasn’t him.

As I said, it’s not quite the thrill ride that Cabin In The Woods is, but it’s also not as self aware as that movie was as well, which is a good thing.

Mine Games is currently showing on Netflix.

‘Top Five’ Trailer

Chris Rock’s Top Five was huge at the Toronto Film Festival, sparking a bidding war among studios like Lionsgate, CBS Films and Relativity, with Paramount coming out as the eventual victor.  Having seen the trailer, it looks interesting, but I am not quite what the supposedly frantic bidding was about.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1- ‘Return to District 12′ Trailer

This time around we see how serious President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is, as Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) witnesses with her own eyes the wasteland that has become of District 12 (that looks vaguely like Germany after World War I, probably not a coincidence).

It also comes off as a bit manipulative toward Katniss.  I understand why Plutarch Heavensbee (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) is doing what he’s doing, because he’s well aware of the power and threat that Katniss will eventually have to face, but she’s still being played.

Ewan McGregor As Doctor Strange? Not Buying It

Doctor Strange  Sorceror SupremeEvery since Joaquin Phoenix decided to pass of the role of Marvel Studios’ Master of the Mystic Arts, Doctor Strange, all sorts of names are being bandied about, such as Ethan Hawke and Keanu Reeves.

The latest is Ewan McGregor, and I think it’s unlikely (Ethan Hawke would be my choice, and it helps that he’s worked with the director, Scott Derrickson before in Sinister–that being said he also worked with Reeves in the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still) because McGregor may be up for another Star Wars film, though without knowing the timeline or even if it’s something he’s interested in or was even if it was offered to him, it’s hard to say.

That being said, I hope an American actor plays Strange (which isn’t to imply that it’s in any way unusual that a very American character isn’t played by one, like in the case of  Thor (Chris Hemsworth’s, who’s Australian, though his accent worked really well), Loki (Tom Hiddleston, British, and for similar reasons) and Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield, also British).

 

‘Iron Man 4′ Is A Go!

Iron Man Flying

According to Robert Downey, Jr. Iron Man 4 is happening and truth be told I am a little torn by the decision.  It’s a good thing because Downey, for millions of people (including this writer) embodies Tony Stark.

It’s not such a good thing because Marvel has to know that they’re just delaying the inevitable.  Originally when this question was posed to Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios,  he said something to the effect that the plan was to have the Iron Man franchise to be similar to James Bond, in that the actor who plays Bond is important, but less so than the franchise itself.

In other words, the actor who plays Iron Man would change from time to time.

The thing is that Marvel Studios is known for their thriftiness (or miserliness, depending upon how you look at such things) and it goes without saying that they must be paying Downey a butt-load of money, to put on the red and gold suit again (though in Marvel and Feige’s defense, Iron Man 3 made over $1.2 billion on a $200 million budget, so $50 million–what he earned for Iron Man 3–was just a drop in the bucket).

Prelude To Axanar

I don’t traditionally like to link to full movies but Prelude To Axanar is something special, and this is coming from someone who isn’t a huge fan of the Star Trek universe (as far as the televised series’ are concerned,  I prefer Star Trek: Deep Space Nine most because Capt. Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) wasn’t above engaging in realpolitik when the high-mindedness of The Federation didn’t do the job, which enabled him to essentially trick the Romulans into the Dominion War on The Federation’s side).

Prelude To Axanar started life as a Kickstarter and has already reached its funding goals, though they are still accepting contributions.  One purpose of the project is, I assume, as a  showcase for what the producers can do, and I have to admit that it’s impressive.

What I like is that is that it appears to be less about the personalities that actually fought in the conflict, than the conflict itself.  I like character development as much as the next person, but the producers decided–rightly in my view–it’s that such an important conflict in the Star Tek Universe that it would take precedence.

Besides, it stars Tony Todd,  Gary Graham and and Kate Vernon, who despite having seen recently playing Colonel Tigh’s wife on the Battlestar Galactica reboot, I didn’t recognize.

‘Pride’ Review

Pride movie poster

“”Pride” Is A Prime Example Of Why The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) Has Outgrew Its Usefulness.”

It’s normal, as humans, to try to define the world around us in as concise a manner as possible.  And it makes sense because when we were evolving as a species there were probably many instances where there just wasn’t time to go into a 50-word description about how that other tribe of proto-humans from the far side of the mountain were somehow different than we were.

That being said, a problem simplification brings is that it sacrifices nuance at the altar of  efficiency, often doing a disservice to whatever it is that that’s being described.  I mention this because Matthew Warchus’ Pride will probably be labeled as a gay movie–and while that’s not exactly inaccurate–it doesn’t tell the whole story, because in many ways the movie is about all of us, no matter how we define ourselves sexually.

It revolves around a gay rights organization headed by Mark (Ben Schnetzer) who decides to raise funds to support striking coalminers in Wales.  Both groups are vilified, and despite the miners virtually starving they were at first reluctant to accept support from a group that was openly gay.

So there’s the conflict between those that hold more traditional beliefs, versus those that were more progressive though what the movie didn’t spend nearly enough time exploring the fact that events were unfolding just when AIDS was just beginning to cut a devastating swath through the Gay community; yet Mark’s organization still chose to assist the mineworkers.

It may not have been as clear-cut as that, but the movie does create that impression.

Pride is also very monochromatic, though it’s hard to tell if that’s an accurate reflection of the history, or just the tendency of filmmakers to exclude people of color.  That being said, some do appear in crowd, club and parade scenes, and that’s about it.

Overall, Pride is an entertaining, and at times inspirational, movie that should be seen by as many people as possible because it’s less about sexuality than being true to yourself and people helping people, very often those on the face of it you hold nothing in common, other than a shared humanity.

And if that’s not something to be celebrated, then nothing is.

By the way, I just learned that Pride is rated R, which leaves me a bit baffled.   It’s a relatively tame movie–and while I wouldn’t go as far as saying that it’s been “Disneyfied“–there’s cursing, and suggestions of some Gay subcultures–there’s nothing that would offend anyone that’s the least bit respectful of the right of other people to live as they choose.

I also may be ranting a bit here, but Pride is based on the lives of real people, so why it is IMDB and CBS Films (one of the companies that produced the film) failed to include the last names of the characters is a bit beyond understanding.