Somewhere in Time (1980)

Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour star in this 1980 love story. It takes you in and out of present time to discover true love.

Great time travel/romantic flick.

Somewhere in Time“A Chicago playwright uses self-hypnosis to travel back in time and meet the actress whose vintage portrait hangs in a grand hotel.” -IMDB


Christopher Reeve Richard Collier
Jane Seymour Elise McKenna
Christopher Plummer William Fawcett Robinson
Teresa Wright Laura Roberts

Directed by

Jeannot Szwarc

Written by

Richard Matheson, Richard Matheson

Other Info

Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Fri 03 Oct 1980 UTC
IMDB Rating: 7.3

Director Jeannot Szwarc is known for Jaws 2 (1978) and Santa Claus: The Movie. These two samples show his work has a variety to it. Both also reflect the sing-song incredibly fun style of the late 70’s and early 80’s. With this film, he dips into both colors and paints a lovely portrait that still stands up today.

Christopher Reeve plays the lead role of Richard Collier. His stoic charm is unique and his acting skills truly make this character come alive, especially in the latter scenes. I’ve seen this film 2 or 3 times and I can’t imagine any other actor playing this role.

Jane Seymour is Elise McKenna, the arcane, beautiful, mysterious woman of the past. She plays well with Reeve and the other Christopher (Plummer) who takes the role of the nemesis William Fawcett Robinson. These three famous actors alone are reasons to love this film. They work together well and it is an excellent, heart-rending script.

There’s something different about this old woman. Collier senses he’s met her before. The butler at the hotel senses he’s met Collier before as well. There’s a whole lotta sensin’ going on! We have a time travel component here. How appropriate for a film made in 1980. Back to the Future and Peggy Sue Got Married, would soon follow. Will he discover who she really is? Time will tell. Therein lies the romance and this film is highly romantic. The ending can be debated but I contend it is one of the most romantic endings since Romeo and Juliet. One last mention: the piano driven soundtrack is heavenly.

Reeve and Seymour are in love and they shine like a cotillion. They aren’t like the cotillion you feel sick at due to formality though, this is the place where legends and dreams of true romance play out. I love this film, it’s another one like the Big Blue that puts me in a trance I don’t want to get out of.


Alchemist Cookbook

Taking ancient riddles and recipes for the dark arts seriously. I saw it recently in “A Dark Song” now we have it again in “Alchemist Cookbook.” This one is quite a thrill and certainly a recommended watch. Listen to my short review and see what you think about this mysterious yet simplified horror film.

The Alchemist Cookbook (2016)
1h 22min | Drama, Horror | 7 October 2016 (USA)

Suffering from delusions of fortune, a young hermit hides out in the forest hoping to crack an ancient mystery, but pays a price for his mania.
Director: Joel Potrykus
Writer: Joel Potrykus
Stars: Ty Hickson, Amari Cheatom, Fiji

‘The Family Fang’

Starring: Christopher Walken, Nicole Kidman, Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn, Marin Ireland, Eugenia Kuzmina, Jason Butler Harner, Michael Chernus, Josh Pais, Mackenzie Brooke Smith
Genres: Drama
Directed By: Jason Bateman
Runtime: 105 minutes
Studio: Starz Digital Media
MPAA Rating

Once in a while I see a movie that reminds me of a made-for-tv film but then about 1/2 way through, I really like it and take it back. This is one such film. The subject matter is on having quirky parents and being embarrassed bt them even into adulthood. The parents’ problem is not alcohol, philandering, or even physical abuse. Instead, its their constant inclusion of their children in video pranks and other created scenes they call “art.” The children all grown up are played by Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman. The film is also directed by Bateman.

In one of these stunts, their father and mother (Christopher Walken and Maryann Plunkett) drive all four of them to a public food court at a park. They hand out coupons for free chicken sandwiches and film the reactions at the food stand as people (in theory) become enraged when they are rejected.

There are many pranks and works of art that are shown in the film. Some take place as flashbacks when they were kids and others take place in modern times. This takes the storyline into pranks you can imagine fully experienced and aged pranksters might pull. Could it be the adult children are now the butt of the joke?

The film does get more cinematic and less made-for-tv but always carries an air that is just short of a powerful film. There are topics relating to abusive parents that may come up in a discussion afterwards if one cares to bring them up. It lost points for being such an unbelievable subject and having characters and plot that were difficult to identify with.

Tragedy Girls

High school can be a really “killer” time. Like “Ginger Snaps,” 2 girls here are obsessed with death and more specifcally: killing. What’s left of center is that these girls have a Youtube show where they leave all sorts of clues. Yet, they are never suspected. Well, for a while.

Tragedy Girls (2017)
R | 1h 38min | Comedy, Horror | 20 October 2017 (USA)

From $3.99 (SD) on Prime Video
A twist on the slasher genre, following two death-obsessed teenage girls who use their online show about real-life tragedies to send their small mid-western town into a frenzy and cement their legacy as modern horror legends.
Director: Tyler MacIntyre
Writers: Chris Lee Hill, Tyler MacIntyre | 1 more credit »
Stars: Brianna Hildebrand, Alexandra Shipp, Jack Quaid

Tyler MacIntyre is in the director’s chair here. He says this film was inspired by the bubblegum comedy “Clueless,” There’s the irony because this film is a bloodbath. We don’t get to see how these killers evolved, they are just catapulted into their misadventures of death. At the same time I kept feeling as if there was a genre filter I was missing. The girls are killers but when you’re following them in the heat of what they’re doing, it strangely works. The closest thing I can compare it to is the TV series “Dexter.” This is an oddly fun teen comedy that is hard to turn your eyes away from. Another twist on the slasher genre that works. 7/10

Weekly Roundup – Movies I Reviewed Last Week

I spent some time looking at older films like Planet of the Apes. I also got one new film in: Lights Out. Enjoy.

The Bye Bye Man 1/5 – People I don’t care about in a not-scary movie

This film looked interestig to me about the mid point of 2016. IMDB was advertising it and the trailer looked cool as well. It was as if we were getting a new Freddy Krueger or Jason from the Friday the 13th. I’m sorry to report we got a fake looking undead humanoid with grim reaper attire, and no ability to scare.

The Bye Bye Man

The Bye Bye Man

“Three friends stumble upon the horrific origins of a mysterious figure they discover is the root cause of the evil behind unspeakable acts.” -IMDB


Douglas Smith Elliot
Lucien Laviscount John
Cressida Bonas Sasha
Michael Trucco Virgil

Directed by

Stacy Title

Written by

Jonathan Penner, Robert Damon Schneck

Other Info

Horror, Thriller
Fri 13 Jan 2017 UTC
IMDB Rating: 3.8
Horror movies are fun for a few reasons. One is that they throw you out of your comfort zone. They repulse but in a good way. If the acting is good and the creature/villains nightmarish, it makes for a good old time of ump scares and creepiness. I predicted the 2 jump scares as I recall the number to be. The rest of the footage is a huge piece of crap.

A college freshman and his girlfriend are playing grownups. He has no job we can surmise. That’s always a surprising thing when you see an 18 year old with a huge house he’s renting and no job. His girlfriend is average looking. No starlet/horror star budding here. Even their kisses are forced. I think I forgot to tell you how god awful the acting is.

The characters discover an urban legend about a reaper creature that haunts and kills you if you say his name. I won’t say his name but rather just direct you t the title of this review. There you are.

This film is worse than a student movie short. Some of the lines had me holding my hands. One of my favorites was when a child saw fire in a relatives home, her dad said to her “Fire can’t hurt him now.” That was choice crap! Maybe one day I’ll watch it again and make a list of quotes, there were so many bad ones. I DO NOT recommend this film. I haven’t rated a film a 1/5 in ages. Wonders never cease.

My rating: 1/5

Super 8 (2011) – A mediocre ‘Stand By Me’ meets ‘Stranger Things’

The trailer for this poses as a fun childhood movie with a strange unknown thing looming. Since I was age 10 when this movie takes place (1979) I was really excited to see the custard colored refrigerators and old school gas stations as well as other stuff from that year. I remember

The trailer for this poses as a fun childhood movie with a strange unknown thing looming. Since I was age 10 when this movie takes place (1979) I was really excited to see the custard colored refrigerators and old school gas stations as well as other stuff from that year. I remember it as a humane and inspiring time. Some images of 1979 really made me nostalgic in the first hour. After that however, the movie began to sputter like a 70’s moped in need of a fill up.
Super 8

Super 8

“During the summer of 1979, a group of friends witness a train crash and investigate subsequent unexplained events in their small town.” -IMDB


Elle Fanning Alice Dainard
AJ Michalka Jen Kaznyk
Kyle Chandler Deputy Jackson Lamb
Joel Courtney Joe Lamb

Directed by

J.J. Abrams

Written by

J.J. Abrams

Other Info

Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Fri 10 Jun 2011 UTC
IMDB Rating: 7.1

The sweet childlike homes, schools, and connected-ness of the kids all was like 1979. Unfortunately, the story couldn’t continue in that era and turned to your typical violent alien film of the 90’s or 2000’s like Independence Day. Spoiler ahead (sort of). One difference from other alien movies is that there is just one alien. It is quite ugly but not much different from most in movies extant. The alien is not as scary as the gratuitous shocks the director gives the audience.

I counted 6 but there are surely more. Be warned, especially if you are annoyed by these things. There is only one thing that can save a movie with these, in my opinion. That thing is a great ending. Unfortunately, you won’t find that here either. Young kids aged 15 and below will like this movie. A couple times it looks like Transformers. Most above that age will look at their iphone to see the time as it plays out.

There is enough nostalgia and cgi here to entertain but not fully satisfy me as a viewer. They had a good set of images to start with but they just aren’t developed enough to keep me from looking at my watch. I recommend to young kids and die hard fans of Spielberg (those who watch even his mediocre stuff).


Somewhere in the Middle (2015)

This film is streaming now on Netflix. Why do lovers do what they do? What if you knew what happened ten minutes before a breakup, what would you do differently? The viewer gets that opportunity in several situations in this film and that makes it a compelling, alluring comedy, romance, drama. By splicing in what happened before and a little after scenes, we see the situations twice and we have more insight into the relationships on-screen.

The director, Lanre Olabisi, is not clearly known by name but he does a great job in this independent drama. It’s a delight to find relationship films that really work like this that are in the independent realm. I hope to see more from him.
Charles Miller is the strongest actor in the film. There are also some honorable mentions in the talents of Cassandra Freeman and Marisol Miranda.
In the story, Sofia is a relationship addict and is seeing a therapist in his home office. On her first visit she meets someone in the home who she is not clear the identity of. The brother of the therapist is having troubles with his marriage and appears to be the stalker sort. As more is revealed, initial scenes reveal a truth “somewhere in the middle” about these characters. It’s true to life because sometimes when we know more of the whole story, we realize first impressions are not always the truth.

I liked the characters and the story was well written. Some of the sex scenes are a little brazen and therefore unbelievable but for the most parts, I felt the characters could be real people. I identified with some of the significant parts because they were true to life.

This film is streaming now on Netflix. It’s a gem in the romantic drama genre. If you’re looking for a film to talk about with your wife/husband/spouse, this is a good one for that. It is an independent small budget film with no movie stars but the performances are solid along with the writing (also written by the director). For fans of the genre(s), though there isn’t much comedy here, I recommend this film.


Barney Thomson

“Barney Thomson” is a film that tries to follow the convention of black comedy. In this case, a barber turns unwitting murderer. Unfortunately, it just isn’t dark or funny enough to keep ones attention.

Barney Thomson is a film that tries to follow the convention of black comedy. In this case, a barber turns unwitting murderer. Unfortunately, it just isn’t dark or funny enough to keep ones attention.


Barney Thomson
The Legend of Barney Thomson (original title)

Robert Carlyle, Emma Thompson, Ashley Jensen

Directed by

Robert Carlyle

Written by

Richard Cowan, Douglas Lindsay, Colin McLaren

Other Info

Comedy, Crime
Rated R
1h 36min
Riley’s Rating:

Robert Carlyle is well known for his role in The Full Monty. That film is funny because it deals in the absurd reality of men stripping due to them all having lost their day jobs. He’s the leader by proxy of the dancing group and you relate with him because he’s broke and he’s found a way. As he makes money as a stripper, the story goes all sorts of directions and it’s a really fun movie all around. This film, Barney Thomson, certainly has the ridiculous factor, a barber turns murderer accidentally and just keeps doing it.

So we have the absurd story but where is the comedy? Is murder less funny than male burlesque? Maybe. I think it can be presented as hilarious. Take the Coen Brothers’ work for example. Fargo is a dark murderous laugh a minute. This film approaches that sort of black comedy convention but never truly arrives there.

Some have noted the strength of Emma Thompson’s performance. Indeed she does bring a credence to the black comedy being portrayed. When she comes on screen, you feel things lift, as if it’s going somewhere you could in theory like. Unfortunately, her role is just not big enough to save this film.

In summary: Barney Thomson is a story of a burned out mediocre barber who loses his job and then accidentally kills his boss. Through many misfortunate events he kills others. He is labeled a serial killer and there is a hunt by the inspector. There are a few side stories going on, some make sense more than others. For example, a female officer (Ashley Jensen) cusses at the actual inspector on the case a lot for no apparent reason. The film has its moments but I feel the error is in the script. None of the powerhouse actors are given much to work with. Finally, Barney himself never really does anything either. A serial killer should be a little frightening or a little relatable, one or the other. I enjoyed parts of the film but I’m afraid the film didn’t evoke the humor and disgust side by side enough to make it a hit I would recommend.

Bringing Out the Dead (1999)

This film works quite well as a regret piece. As a teacher, I have plenty of these. The kids I hear about who slipped through the cracks, got into crack or other drugs and somehow never made it in life. Nick Cage’s character wonders what more he could have done. The truth is, in any human endeavor or job you lose some.

Director Martin Scorcese has done more for film than most living directors of our time. Who can forget his Taxi Driver or more recently, Hugo. His work spans the human spectrum and always brings us men who have a vision of themselves they try to live up to, with mixed results.
Nicholas Cage and Ving Rhames are in this film. They make a great duo in the parts they do together. Rhames is the tough free-spirit who tries to get Cage’s character to cope and adapt. They never go away, the ones you lose.

This film is like a dream. It consists of a simple premise: a medic is haunted by the patients he couldn’t save. You might argue it was the first protagonist who could say, “I see dead people.” In the end, we are left with more questions than answers. I like that sort of film, it makes you work. Finally the conclusions are yours and the film helped you get there on your own.

This is not a feel god film but it weaves a web of somber moods that present a point of view. The mystery of death is approached but never addressed. It’s more about those left behind and how we can get stuck in depression and regret when people die, robbing us of our own happiness.

This film is one that makes you think. Due to the nature of its premise there are sections that drag on a little. There are also things that are not explained which can be frustrating. I recommend it for its content but also simply because it is a Scorcese piece.