The Other Half (2016)

The Other Half (2016)
1h 43min | Drama, Romance | 10 March 2017 (USA)

A bipolar woman and a grief-stricken man struggle to forge a simple life.
Director: Joey Klein
Writer: Joey Klein
Stars: Tatiana Maslany, Tom Cullen, Henry Czerny

This director is an actor attempting to make the crossover to behind the camera. He does a good job. He has the incredible actor Tatiana Maslany backing him as exec producer and lead actress in the film. While I questioned a couple times why he would want to make this film his directorial debut, I can say he earned my respect and I am curious to see what he tackles next. This appears to be a movie about loving through the weaknesses of your partner. In other words, when you don’t have the package you thought you signed up for and must still stay.

The boyfriend is from Downton Abbey and a lot of other stuff. He does an ok job I’d say, as good as most could do alongside this amazing Maslany force we’ve seen grow in that last 5 years. Orphan Black is just one example of her talents and skills. I eagerly await any project she does.

This is a dark looking film but its message is clear and cutting. How do you love another whose need outweigh what you can give. This couple seems determined to do so. Is it touching or stupid? Her father might say the latter. She has severe Biploar. This means she is given to fixaton and manic episodes. He is grief stricken. Does it matter how much he loves her if he cannot help her? The final scene had me thinking all sorts of thoughts. It’s good but not very developed and like I say, hazy at times in appearance and meaning. For dedicated love story and/or bipolar movie folks, it’s a

9/10

Killing Ground (2016)

Killing Ground (2016)
R | 1h 28min | Horror, Thriller | 21 July 2017 (USA)

A couples’ camping trip turns into a frightening ordeal when they stumble across the scene of a horrific crime.
Director: Damien Power
Writer: Damien Power
Stars: Harriet Dyer, Mitzi Ruhlmann, Tiarnie Coupland

Damien Power, the director here, is my namesake so he’s got that going for him. This is an incredible thriller filmed in the outback that raises the question, “Why hasn’t violence gone this far before?” He’s been a writer years before directing. My favorite movies are often the type where the visionary writer is also the director ie; the films of Quentin Tarantino. Damien is one to watch.

The acting is pretty solid. I think all the actors are Australian names so I haven’t seen them much. Harriet Dyer who plays “Sam” gives what could be argued as the best performance. She is scared but not hysterical, recklessly trying to escape without losing her grip on reality. She is also quite pretty as are all the female cast. I don’t know, we used to camp a lot when I was around 10 years old and I always saw so many hot girls out there. One time they were even topless! I don’t know why I felt the need to share that.

It’s a simple story with simple but abject violence. I read one byline that said this will make you never want to go camping again. The hunt is on! Go see it thriller/horror fans.

9/10

Some Freaks (2016)

Some Freaks (2016)
1h 37min | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 4 August 2017 (USA)

A charming romance develops between a boy with one eye and an overweight girl, though when she loses her weight after going to college, their relationship is tested in devastating ways they never dreamed would happen.
Director: Ian MacAllister McDonald
Writer: Ian MacAllister McDonald
Stars: Thomas Mann, Marin Ireland, Lily Mae Harrington

This is the director’s first endeavor and I applaud him for what he has done here.

I can’t speak for the “studs” and homecoming queens of the world because I was most certainly a geek and maybe even a nerd by all standards. It’s those types this film appeals to. An overweight, but pretty, girl gets in the good graces of older men by giving them blowjobs. Through time she gets away from that but still has trouble believing anyone could really love her. At the same time, a young man with a glass eye and a very geeky disposition starts falling for her but his relationship skills are certainly lacking as well. What results is a roller coaster of emotions from both of them as they enter into a serious relationship. Maybe that’s too early in life to be trying that? The middle 8 is that she gets hot. Through working out and changing her diet, you almost can’t recognize her. This makes for a whole new set of dysfunction. Do we sometimes love people because they are too ugly to leave? This is one thought woven through.

An interesting side character is the jock/bully who has an eye for the “fat girl.” This was a little unclear in its presentation but I think it shows that even the pretty people have hidden ugly things that keep them from true love.

This is a fun little independent high school movie. It’s also deeper than usual for the genre. Some of the characters are a little hard to interpret and the best friend of the young man is horribly miscast. Maybe he knew someone on the casting committee?

7/10

Rock of Ages (2012)

Rock of Ages (2012)
PG-13 | 2h 3min | Comedy, Drama, Musical | 15 June 2012 (USA)

A small town girl and a city boy meet on the Sunset Strip, while pursuing their Hollywood dreams.
Director: Adam Shankman
Writers: Justin Theroux (screenplay), Chris D’Arienzo (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Stars: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Tom Cruise

Adam Michael Shankman (born November 27, 1964) is an American film director, producer, dancer, author, actor, and choreographer. He was a judge on the television program So You Think You Can Dance on seasons 3-10. Unfortunately, he didn’t bring his Broadway dance skills to this film.

A small town girl like the one in the Journey song goes to LA to get famous. She ends up as a waitress in a seedy bar. There you have the foundation for this film. I had the fortune to see the musical at the Pantages twice and while I liked the film enough, it did not compete with the marvel on stage. It was the same story for the mega hit Mamma Mia. Maybe it’s because I enjoy stage musicals so much.

Tom cruise IS hilarious as Stacee Jaxx, the travel has been rocker. He pulls off the role but in an entirely different way. Having said all that criticism, I would recommend it because the music from the 80’s is amazing and there are some really great jokes in it. You should laugh I would imagine. For me, it just was substandard though so I gave it

5/10

Nina Forever

“I’m so sorry.” Rob

I think viewers will find there isn’t much more that Rob can say. His girlfriend has come back from the dead to haunt him and his new love interest every time they have sex.

Nina Forever (2015)
Cast
Fiona O’Shaughnessy

as Nina

Abigail Hardingham

as Holly

Cian Barry

as Rob

Directed by
Ben Blaine
Chris Blaine

Written by
Ben Blaine
Chris Blaine

Other Info

Comedy, Horror, Romance
Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, bloody images, and language
1h 38min

The film is a surprising triumph as a horror movie. I didn’t detect much romance. The black humor is such that we’ve never seen but you find remnants of it in “American Werewolf in London,” “Reanimator” and other campy horror extant. There is a lot of nudity but it’s hard to find it sexual given the subject matter. I kept asking myself, “What is really being said here?”

For me it worked on one level as that nagging depression one feels after a breakup or even after a romantic lover has died. Thankfully for me, I haven’t had to experience the latter. Rob has. He even unsuccessfully tries to commit suicide to escape his sadness. Nine is never going to let him forget her, or so it seems.

I like the tone of this film, both somber and scary with a bit of sarcastic humor thrown in. It’s blood along with sexual content is woven into a really great horror movie. I kept wondering what would happen next. For me that’s the sign of a great “any genre” movie. This one didn’t make me jump out of my seat but I liked being out of control, watching how far the movie would venture out beyond what we’ve seen before. There is a twist I didn’t see coming, nothing earth shattering but I applaud the writers for it.

I’ll look for more for this directing duo in the future. I did feel it got a little repetitive toward the final 1/4 of the film. We’d see the events go in a circle enough and it could have ended about 2-40 minutes earlier ad I would have been content. I think they fell victim to thinking their quirky idea was so innovative it would carry a movie of 1h 38min. For me, I wanted another smaller idea to break things up. Unfortunately, it dragged toward the end for me so it lost a star. For horror fans, this is a MUST SEE! I recommend.

Swingers (1996)

A must see for anyone dating, especially single male losers (as I was in the 90’s) who call women things like “beautiful babies.” This is a laugh a minute that may not help you hook up but have you laughing at all the shit you do or did when you’re single and dating.

Swingers (1996)
R | 1h 36min | Comedy, Drama | 11 April 1997 (Brazil)

Wannabe actors become regulars in the stylish neo-lounge scene; Trent teaches his friend Mike the unwritten rules of the scene.
Director: Doug Liman
Writer: Jon Favreau
Stars: Vince Vaughn, Heather Graham, Jon Favreau

Occasionally through the annals of movie history, a perfect film comes about with a visionary director and gifted cast. It would seem this is one of those. Doug Liman leads this group of handsome and beautiful soon-to-be mega stars, including Vince Vaughn, Heather Graham, Jon Favreau. If you haven’t heard of Doug Liman, let me list a few of his directorial achievements for you:
2016 Edge of Tomorrow
2008 Jumper
2005 Mr. & Mrs. Smith
2002 The Bourne Identity
1999 Go
He’s also a well known and sought after producer. With Jon Favreau writing the script, it’ no wonder the impact this film has had both at the box office and as a cult status comedy.

I think great comedy has to do with the things we have trouble facing. If that is true, dealing with dating makes some of the funniest stuff. Everyone hates doing it. We have an idealized idea of how it will end up and let’s face it, it usually doesn’t end up so rosy.

The banter and dialog of these guys as they go on ventures to Vegas and beyond is flat out hilarious. They hug each other like little girls and view women as uncharted ocean but have no sense how to get there. Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau captivate from credits to credits. This is out and out a perfect comedy about the mishaps of dating in your 20’s. Spoiler in the blockquote:

One of my favorite scenes is when Favreau’s character tries calling a date he got a number from. He calls back adding to the message probably 10 times. Finally, she calls back and says “Don’t EVER call me again.” I roared over that gag.

For comedy fans or people who want to laugh about an uncomfortable subject, I highly recommend this.

10/10

A Dark Song (2016)

Horror movies have talked about love and loss before but not usually this deeply. The issues are so deep in fact, one might question whether they belong in a horror film. They exist just the same and while watching this film you don’t just see them on screen, you absorb them. The longing of the protagonist and her helper calling on the black arts becomes our own … “poor us,” as the ritual master says, in that sense.

A Dark Song (2016)
1h 40min | Drama, Horror | 28 April 2017 (USA)

A determined young woman and a damaged occultist risk their lives and souls to perform a dangerous ritual that will grant them what they want.
Director: Liam Gavin
Writer: Liam Gavin
Stars: Mark Huberman, Susan Loughnane, Steve Oram

I can sum up this, Liam Gavin’s directorial debut, by saying it moves way too slow for the first 3/4 but the last act is the stuff you take home to your nightmares. We needed the visuals in the first 3/4, they were sadly absent. I hope when Liam gets his next project he remembers that. I really can’t recommend this film to all horror fans because I found it nearly impossible to sit through but I might say if you have fast forward abilities, go to the final act. You’ll see things there you’ve never seen.

Back to non-spoiler territory: The protagonist has lost her son to occultists who ceremoniously murdered him. She pays another occultist to take her through rituals to enable her to talk to her guardian angel and her son to seek revenge. It’s gritty and you expect typical demonic stuff that only lightly comes. It is basically a hodgepodge character study of two dysfunctional people churning, tortured by desire and vegeance, seeking to call on the supernatural realm for relief … and failing. The end third is worth it. This is a movie to discuss, without a doubt. Watch for Liam Gavin’s future work as I will.

8/10

Orphan Black – (TV Series 2013)

Tatiana Maslany opens this series as a prolific, talented, and practiced actress. The pilot does what a pilot should do: it hooks you in! She plays multiple roles deftly. This is the place I bought in as a fan, and I think for good reason. It is streaming now on Amazon Prime.


Orphan Black
TV-MA | 44min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi | TV Series (2013–2017)

A streetwise hustler is pulled into a compelling conspiracy after witnessing the suicide of a girl who looks just like her.
Creators: Kim Coghill, Andrew De Angelis, Jeff Detsky | 8 more credits »
Stars: Tatiana Maslany, Dylan Bruce, Jordan Gavaris

You have a story here crafted into a 5 season show. You don’t get that when the show is low rated. This is a great tv series. Besides that it won several prominent awards. MY point is that people have heralded this one as great from far and nearby, worldwide in fact. I enjoyed just about every episode. The Pilot is where the main character becomes aware she has clones in the world. WE find out later why they are there and what they can do when they band together. You see Maslany playing multiple roles in a single scene and it is pulled off like clockwork. I simplyoffer you this preview with my highest recommendation. Tatiana Maslany is one to watch!

10/10

Movies I Tagged #Weird on my Site Pt. I

I love weird films, I hope you do too! Here are 4 really good films that I tagged #Weird on my site. This is an audio feature crossposted from my podcast The DRP. Hey there!

This is part of a series where I talk about films I found weird. Did I mention that is a bonus with me? I love weird. This episode is me talking about: Escape from Tomorrow Antibirth, The Double & Creep (my written reviews are linked)

Please note the woman holding that head is Meg Tilly! That alone should make you want to see Antibirth.

Follow all my shenanigans including discussions of weird films on Twitter at @rileyonfilm

Ozark (2017)

Ozark
TV-MA | 1h | Crime, Drama, Thriller | TV Series (2017– )

A Chicago-based financial advisor secretly relocates his family to the Missouri Ozarks when his dealings with a drug cartel go awry.
Creators: Bill Dubuque, Mark Williams
Stars: Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Sofia Hublitz

This is a show that is obviously trying to make a cash cow like Breaking Bad. As long as you’re ok with that, and I am, you can have a good time watching this film. It has the drug kingpin, the disenfranchised investment broker, the disinterested wife, and the expensive taste kids who mean no harm but are always extra weight in tow.

It has the underbelly exposed of a vacation town where the broker is forced to clean money in order to save his life as well as his family’s. Jason Bateman is pretty good in this. I can’t say it has help my interest up until the end of season one. I have two more episodes to go. I heave read it is renewed for a second season in 2018. Will you be tuning in? I’ll probably be looking for older tv and film that qualifies for my “weird” tag. There isn’t anything weird about Ozark, it’s been done before. Still, it’s not bad for a bige watch background show if you’re working on your laptop.

6/10