‘Boyhood’ Review



Boyhood Is A Fascinating Movie More Because Of How It Was Made, Than The Movie Itself

I just saw Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, and it was pretty interesting, though mostly on the technical level (it was filmed over a period of 12 years); as an exercise in innovative filmmaking.  As a movie meant to engage an audience, it’s way too long–clocking in at almost three hours–and also curiously mistitled because for a movie named ‘Boyhood’ it deals very superficially with the ‘boy,’ of the title, Mason (Ellar Coltrane).

Traditional movies, when you see a young person age any length of time they’re typically played by a younger actor; so to see an actor literally age in front of you is pretty remarkable.

The problem is that Linklater doesn’t do anything–beyond the obvious–with his innovative idea.  Mason and his family go through ups, as well as downs (exemplified mostly by Mason’s mom, Patricia Arquette, and her serial marriages).

The actors all do their jobs well, though Ethan Hawke is particularly welcome as Mason’s father.  The thing is, if you take away the fascinating way that the movie was made, I honestly think Boyhood would be a pretty ordinary drama because when you get down to it the concept–watching a character literally age before our eyes–is the most interesting thing that it has going for it.

Though once you get used to that, which for me happened sometime around the 2 hour mark, when I began to get a bit antsy, and things got a bit less interesting.

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‘The Purge: Anarchy’ Review

The Purge: Anarchy move poster

The Purge: Anarchy Is A Marked Improvement Over The Original, But There Is So Much Farther That It Could Have Gone

What bothered me most about James DeMonaco‘s 2013 movie The Purge was that after introducing viewers to a United States that had brought record reductions in crime though a once-a-year catharsis known as the Purge it didn’t even try to keep up with it’s entertainingly dystopian concept.

Instead, it became a simple home invasion thriller, though if You’re Next had shown us anything, it’s that that’s not necessarily a bad thing; though what DeMonaco pulled felt too much like a ‘bait-and-switch‘ to not be acknowledged.

He makes up for any such shortcomings in the sequel, The Purge: Anarchy.  You learn that behind the Purge is a cabal known as “The Founding Fathers,” who were apparently voted into power, and somehow–without sending the nation into the depths of fascism–managed to sell people on the idea that if they were able to engage in a night of violence once a night, every year that it would result in not only lower crime statistics, but unemployment as well.

Which makes sense, especially the latter part, when you consider who it is that’s doing the dying.

But the there’s a weakness to the concept:  As Americans we are defined to a very real extent by our excesses.  I mean, why have a can of soda when you can have a Big Glup?  And why stop at a Big Gulp when there’s the Double Big Gulp, which contains more liquid than your stomach can actually hold?  It’s all about making things bigger, and not necessarily better so if ‘purging’ one night a year had such miraculous results, then I am reasonably sure that at the very least someone would have suggested expanding it a full day.  Or a day and a half.  Or two days.

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‘Deliver Us From Evil’ Review

Deliver Us From Evil movie poster

“There Is A Devil, Of This There Is No Doubt.  But Is He Trying To Get In, Or Trying To Get Out?”

One of of the worst horror films that I can recall was 1978′s Cruise Into Terror.  It’s been awhile, but I remember that it starred George Kennedy (going about things in his typically mildly-befuddled fashion) as the captain of a cruise ship.

The ship was also transporting a child-sized Egyptian sarcophagus for some reason.   It contained an evil entity, perhaps even Satan itself.  It never manifested physically, but it’s baneful influence was felt by everyone aboard the ship (kind of like Cthulhu-lite), till someone chucked it overboard.

Two things in particular stuck in my head:  The first was that, when the sarcophagus was sinking to the ocean floor, you clearly see that whatever was within it was breathing (by the sides of the sarcophagus pulsing).

It wasn’t an accident, but it was particularly dumb because a sarcophagus is essentially a very ornate coffin, so the body within isn’t resting directing against it, never mind being constructed in such a fashion that that just isn’t possible.

Though the important thing to remember is that there’s no way to tell if an occupant was breathing or not from the outside.

The other thing was that, when Satan was on its way to Davy Jones’ Locker, a woman said ominously in voiceover:  “There is a Devil, of this there’s no doubt.  But is he trying to get in, or trying to get out?”

And do you know what?  That simple line wedged itself in my teenaged mind, and in retrospect virtually redeemed everything about that damn waste of celluloid.

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‘Wolf Creek 2′ Review

Wolf Creek 2

“Fascinating In Its Own Way, Though Its Relentless And Nihilistic Tone May Turn Viewers Off”

For years people have been scared by the likes of Freddy Krueger, Norman Bates and Jason Vorhees, but let’s be honest:  What they are are cartoon characters.

Sure, somewhat violent cartoons, but cartoons nonetheless.  After all, imagine if someone were coming at you wearing a hockey mask and a huge machete?  Or brandishing finger-claws?  After you confirmed that you weren’t hallucinating, you’d be out of there so fast heads would spin.

Which is why real-life serial killers are so scary:  They look just like you and me.  You probably couldn’t pick them out in a crowd and they certainly don’t run around with knives because that would be too obvious.

Their sinister compulsions lie just beneath the surface, waiting for the right opportunity to make themselves known.

For instance, H. H.  Holmes, believed to be America’s first serial killer, lived from 1861 to 1896.  When he was finally caught, he confessed to 27 murders, and nine were confirmed.

Though it was suspected that he actually killed at least 200 people.

Another fact that’s the opposite to what popular culture tells us is that serial killers aren’t disfigured monsters.  In fact, more often than not, they tend to be very charismatic and charming.

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‘The Signal’ Review

The Signal movie poster

With So Many Options At The Multiplex, There’s A Real Chance The Signal Will Not Get Through. Which Would Be A Pity

For awhile I was considering not writing a review of William Eubank‘s The Signal, till I noticed that with behemoths like How To Train Your Dragon 2, 22 Jump Street, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Transformers: Age Of Extinction coming down the pike there might not be enough room for a relatively small movie with no huge stars, besides Laurence Fishburne, to make an impression.

And that would be a pity because The Signal deserves to be seen, though it can be a particularly challenging movie, which I’ll get to in a moment.

Things start out like a road movie as we meet Nic (Brenton Thwaites), Jonah (Beau Knapp) and Haley (Olivia Cooke), three friends who are traveling cross country.

They’re a very closely knit group (despite the fact that Nic is dating Haley, Beau fits in comfortably, and doesn’t come off as a third wheel).  Beau and Nick attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and while I don’t think that they’re hackers, they’re remarkably computer-savvy and on the way to some sort of computer conference.

At MIT Nic and Beau encountered someone online named Nomad, who hacked their servers and wiped some important data.  They encountered this person again on this trip, and learned that the signal originated from a location on the way to where they’re going.

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‘Think Like A Man Too’ Review

Think Like A Man Too movie poster


image courtesy of MovieWeb

image courtesy of MovieWeb

Tim Story is a prolific multihyphenate producer-director, who in the 12 years between 2002 to 2014, produced one feature and directed 10.

In 2011 he began a partnership with Kevin Hart, directing the standup specials Laugh At My Pain, followed by Let Me Explain (with Leslie Small) in 2013.

Between those two films he directed Think Like A Man, with an ensemble cast that included Hart.  It cost $12 million to produce, and earned just over $96 million dollars, which is virtually a license to print money.

In 2014 Story directed Ride Along, with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube.  I didn’t like it, partially because its plot was a rehash of Walter Hill’s Another 48 Hrs. (which was itself little more than a money grab, hoping to ride the coattails of the original 48 Hrs) though mainly because it wasn’t particularly funny.

Though I must be the only person who felt that way, because Ride Along earned over $153 million on a $25 million dollar budget, which was done almost entirely in the United States (only $19 million came from the foreign box office), which is the reverse of the way these sort of things work lately (movies like  The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Pacific Rim were stronger overseas than domestically).

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‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’ Review

X-Men: Days of Future Past movie poster


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‘Godzilla’ Review

Godzilla (2014) movie poster

Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla Isn’t The Same Monster Many Of Us Grew Up Watching, Which Sometimes Isn’t A Good Thing

In The Beginning…

I remember when I was growing that I spent many Saturday afternoons in front of a television, watching monsters like Gamera, Mothra and Godzilla.  They tended to have come into being due to the hubris of Man, as well as our tendency to use nuclear weapons, which inevitably got out of hand.

Though Mothra was most interesting because, besides being a giant moth, it was summoned by these two tiny women.  And by ‘tiny’ I mean literally small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, which made no sense at all.  Then again, Gamera could not only breath fire, but when he retracted his legs, arms and head into his shell he was capable of flight.  So really, can I complain about two micro-women all that much?

The first movies that dealt with both Gamera and Godzilla were fairly serious things, seeing that they were analogies about the dangers of nuclear weapons (which makes sense when you take into account Japan was the only nation that was attacked using them).

So if anyone was able to comment upon such things with authority, it’s the Japanese.

But a funny thing happened…as the adventures of Godzilla continued, they got goofier.  And when I write ‘goofy’ I mean that when Godzilla wasn’t throwing karate kicks, seemingly held aloft by his massive tail or talking smack at MechaGodzilla (via hand signals and attitude), he was hanging out with a baby Godzilla who instead of breathing fire, breathed smoke rings (unless you stepped on his tail, then look out).

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‘Unhung Hero’ Review

Unhung Hero

Stuff You Put On The Internet Is There For Forever.  Consider That Before You Make A Movie About How Small Your Penis Is

Brian Spitz‘s Unhung Hero opens on two guys in a spartan hotel room in Papua, New Guinea.  One’s black, and the other’s white.  After a moment the black guy sits down and prepares a syringe, while in the next scene the white guy is standing with his pants open, which tells me everything that I need to know.

And since it’s a little bit unlikely that he’s hiding a bunch of clowns in his pants, and the movie is about a guy who thinks his penis is too small…

But as far as I am concerned, I’ve had enough.  My stomach twists in knots at just the suggestion, never mind the “reality.”  And I wasn’t even ten minutes in.  Which reminds me, it’s not unheard of for hard-core heroin users to inject themselves in the penis, which tells you the the high it brings much be remarkable if it’s able to override such a powerfully ingrained revulsion.

I really wanted to watch a movie though, and since Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain turned up on Netflix as well I figured that I might as well give it a try, since I wasn’t (directly) paying to see it.  And it was really bad, beyond my wildest dreams of what ‘bad’ could be.  And when write bad I don’t mean in an enjoyable or campy sense, but a distasteful and meanspirited one. I mean, it looked gorgeous in the way Michael Bay movies tend to, but beyond that, nothing.

No redeeming characters, characteristics or features what-so-ever.  It’s worth mentioning that I have seen movies where Hitler appeared in a more sympathetic light, and that’s not hyperbole.

But here’s the kicker:  There’s a character in that movie, Adrian Doorbal, played by Anthony Mackie, who get’s an injection in his member as well (which is strangely enough, played for laughs).

At this point I just accepted that if I even turned on a Bugs Bunny cartoon, Bugs would have Elmer Fudd tied down as he tried to inject something into his cartoon penis.  And I have always said that if you cannot avoid something, you might as well face it as best you can.

So gave Unhung Hero another try, because there is virtually no way, despite the penis injection scene, it could be worse than Pain & Gain.

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Check Out My ‘Locke’ Review At Love Your Movies!

I recently did a writeup of Steven McKnight’s Locke, starring Tom Hardy and a BMW X3 for Love Your Movies.  It’s one of the pithier reviews that I have written and more importantly I think that it  manages to give the reader an impression of what’s going on in the movie, without spoiling it.

I enjoyed writing it, so if you have a moment drop by because the guys at Love Your Movies will be glad to see you!