Lady Bird (2017)

You may know that Lady Bird is being touted as the “best reviewed movie of the year.” You may also know it’s a coming of age tale that takes place in California …

… and that Lady Bird is a girl graduating High School. BUT did you know that the actress playing her mother is the one who played Roseanne’s sister on TV, Jackie? Well it is and she does a hell of a job. This is a limited release and the film partly lives up to the hype. It starts out belabored and long and the acting really sucks up until about the first boyfriend time.

After that the acting drastically improves and there are some truly touching moments. I’m writing a non-spoiler review here so I’ll leave out the wheres and whens but trust me, they are there. My eyes needed a good washing and they got it!

There’s a ton of good here but honestly, looking back at all the hype I read about this film, I have to wonder if everyone involved in publicity for the film paid a friend or family member to write a scintillating review. It’s a great film but it isn’t scintillating.

It’s not as quirky as Napoleon Dynamite but it feels like it would be in the same category. Having said that, the relationships are like real and sometimes they are so real, you choke back some tears. It is NOT for everyone as the ads would suggest. This film will mostly appeal to millennial girls and their grandparents. Since I’m about the age of the latter, I guess that’s why it spoke to me.

8/10

Mindhorn

This is a film about retro tv and the way we attach to characters. We do this often to our own detriment. It’s now streaming on Netflix.

I have a hard time with some British comedy. For lack of a better explanation, I just don’t get some of it. I am sure they feel the same way about some of ours. Inside jokes that resonate with a given audience are risky when you release a film.

It’s a story of a tv action hero named “Mindhorn.” Early on in the film, a terrorist kidnapper will agree to police terms only if he speaks to the faded tv hero personally. So, we have a delusional criminal who inadvertently gets the police to resurrect this out of work actor who once played the role.

The story goes on a long time along those lines and there is a sort of twist at the end. It is certainly not original. For me, Mindhorn stated with an unfunny premise and really never became funny throughout. I can recommend it but only as background noise for blogging or other sideline activity. All else, I would avoid this one. Nothing to see here.

5/10

 

The Collector (2009)

A thriller with multiple levels of bad guys

The writer of “Saw IV” and V directed this one and it is similarly a work of greatness. It doesn’t have a the budget or acting power of a Saw sequel but it evens out to be an amazing home invasion thriller/horror. I highly enjoyed it.

You get to see the morality of a person tested, in a way like “Saw.” Any artist who works on such a powerful franchise as “Saw” is bound to carry over some stuff. Don’t go into it expecting that because it’s very different but the quality of film-making is on par with that and the horror conventions the collector has assembled in this home invasion film beg a comparison.

I recommend this film most for the thriller aspect, though the horror is right there all the way through. I enjoy watching good vs. evil on screen, especially when the writer/director teases the audience with who is the most moral and does it ever change in the movie. With better acting and more of a high tech look, I’d have given this thriller a 10/10. It is still an awesome film that I recommend.

7/10

Mean Creek (2004)

A look at human nature in young adults and the often volatile nature of innocence. Oh, and Josh Peck stars in it.

Some movies remind me of the dark place that exists in us. Either that or the dangerous claws of innocence that rip our precious loves to ribbons. This one’s like that.

Billy Joel said a woman will “carelessly cut you and laugh while you’re bleeding” but it’s not just a woman, men and women alike kill, cover it up, even live with it all their lives sometimes. When we see it in film, we cringe but the prisons and homes of America are probably full of killers we never find out about. Ultimately it’s the choices we make to act or react to anger in vengeance and so forth. Characters who react well, sometimes end up well. Sometimes those who don’t, end up well also. It’s messed up right? Well that’s life and you’re in it. This movie reminds you of that.

A bully, his friend, a young girl, his accomplices. They all have choices to make. I like this film because it deals with perception and perspective. When seen through the bullies eyes, we see him a victim. When seen through the young girl’s eyes, the victims are chosen based on convention and maybe, just plain old good raising? I can’t say here and now. What do you think of this film? This is one you have to take a stand on. Bullying is exploding across our world. How you teach your kids to respond to it is crucial. This film may help open that conversation. It’s an excellent film but I would have liked to have seen a little more character development of all the kids. Maybe that’s just because I like to get inside characters in films with heavy concepts like bullying. I still recommend it highly as is.

This is a very dark film and I think real life is dark so it’s realistic. If you’ve seen it, what do you think of it? The question lays before you, inescapably. If you haven’t seen it, take some time and watch this small town simple film that just might blow your mind about innocence, bullying, and where the two shall meet.

8/10

Rogue (2007)

This independent horror thriller crocodile film scared audience in theaters about a decade ago. It was your basic “gigantic animal terrorizes a small eccentric group” film, like Jaws. It’s great entertainment but does it compete with other successful movies like it?

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The protagonist is a travel writer who has never done more than a review in print. He’s on a wildlife boat tour with less than 20 others and they end up marooned being forced off their boat and out of the water by a huge crocodile.

The story consists of these people trying strategies to escape the crocodile with some having deadly results. This croc is big and he’s fast. For an independent film, the cgi is pretty effective. His body slithers and strikes deftly. He does “the death spin” when he gets a person on his jaws and that is terrifying.

This is a fun thriller. It has a list of well-known characters and the script if pretty good. It builds suspense with the help of a dramatic score and appears to have been filmed on location in Australia. As in most horror, the victims all have flaws and come from different levels of society. The monster, in this case a croc, is the great equalizer that cuts everyone down to size regardless of income or station. For fans of the horror/thriller genre, I definitely recommend this, it’s a lot of fun.

Fargo (TV Series) The Crocodile’s Dilemma (2014)

A good indicator of what promises to be an awesome show!


The pilot sometimes determines how good the show will be long term. If that’s the case here, I’m a lucky bastard. This show is now in its 3rd season and I’m a binge-watcher by passion. Fargo the film charmed audiences with small town, snowy themes juxtaposed with black deeds like murder and crime. The goofy police with their fluffy hats are out to get their man, and we love seeing if they can.

The characters and story are eerily reminiscent of those in the film. They are just different enough to keep me interested. Skeptics of the series would give it a try. The pilot has made me a believer.

There is a cast of thousands in this series. Every corner turned shows familiar face. They grind down the criminals with the same innocent charm but so far, it’s a slow burn. That;s not a bad thing though. I know they can expand a lot on the stories in the manner of a series. My understanding is each season has a new story line and a new set of characters/actors.

I can honestly say I recommend this show, especially to the folks who are fans of the film. I am looking forward to an awesome rest of season one!

9/10

Splinter

The best horror movies start with a creepy fear or thought like splinters in your fingers. From tat the director pushes it out far enough to scare people and get a response. Splinter is all that, a truly great horror flick in my opinion.

R | 1h 22min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller | 3 April 2009 (Turkey)

Trapped in an isolated gas station by a voracious Splinter parasite that transforms its still-living victims into deadly hosts, a young couple and an escaped convict must find a way to work together to survive this primal terror.
Director: Toby Wilkins
Writers: Ian Shorr, Kai Barry
Stars: Shea Whigham, Jill Wagner, Paulo Costanzo

I’ve always been a fan of minimal sets and plot in horror films. This one fits right into that the way it takes place in a gas station. It’s the 7-11, Circle K, all American

Martyrs (2008)

Extreme body horror with a good story.

Gore and blood are the hallmark of horror films. In this case, they are definitely present. In fact, this film fits nicely into the category of films that has been emerging in past decades called “body horror.” In truth, it’s one of the best. A movie that visits pain or disfigurement on its characters and makes you think, “I hope that never happens to me,” qualifies as body horror. You can feel, in a sense, what is happening to the protagonist as if it were happening to you.

Yes, we definitely can categorize this as body horror. Through a good part of the beginning in fact, I began to think it was just that but I was so mistaken. There are “people vs. the establishment” themes going on here. There is an empathetic look at suffering, especially of women. There is a supernatural aspect that for me was never really “fleshed out” but certainly got me thinking. I have a word to the wise if you haven’t yet seen this film and plan to: Go in knowing there is a story but let all your expectations fall away. This film attacks victimization and vengeance in an all new way I can guarantee exists nowhere else in horror.

Something should be said about this original film: it’s following remake is nothing like it and should only be seen after the original. Read only non spoiler reviews and the IMDb summary before seeing it. Body horror fans and standard horror fans must see this film, it is glorious.

The Neon Demon

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The Neon Demon
Cast

Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves

Directed by

Nicolas Winding Refn

Written by

Nicolas Winding Refn

Other Info

Horror, Thriller
Rated R
118min

L.A. looks like a cut-throat place for the fashion profession in this film. Elle Fanning plays a 16-year-old girl trying to break in by any means necessary. She’s willing to lie on documents about her age and hang out with dangerous people if it means a chance as a famous model. There’s some fake blood here and a startling wildcat that jumps by the window in the dark but neither of those things constitutes horror. You may be shocked by the ending but I doubt many would consider that a “scare” either. It’s more disgusting than scary. I’ll acknowledge right here that there may be intended metaphors and alternative interpretation going on here. I’ve chosen to not look into that. Mostly for the reason that the film made no attempt to explain it to me.

Keanu Reeves plays the landlord who appears to exploit kids. I thought he did a great job with his voice and movement. It was like he was a different person. That’s a sign of a studied actor. I think Keanu plays the same character again and again but in this one he is unique. So, if you’re a big Keanu fan, this might be worth your time. The celebrity photographer “Jack” is played by Desmond Harrington and he does a pretty decent job looking resolute and creatively twisted. Unfortunately for me, I binge-watched Dexter years ago and I got used to his character there night after night. I kept expecting him to call Jesse “Deb.” Amazon produced this film. I wonder if we’ll see much more of this from them. This film was a basic let down and bombed at the box office proving that hand over fist. The reviews have been polarized, mine unfortunately is closer to the South.

While this film may not be correctly labeled as horror, it is a neon art-film treat for the rods and cones. I was drawn in early on by the visual artistry of the film. Just when you think you’ve seen the best it has, it brings more. The colors are reminiscent of Tron. I think it’s meant to draw us in that way. The director is a visionary influenced by Kubrick, David Lynch and others who have done similar things with color and space. Unfortunately this story gets caught up in a fashion world and doesn’t explore what’s going on in the head of the protagonist. Beside that, the characters are underdeveloped. Having said that, it’s a pretty simple reason to be ascertained why they do what they do in the end.

It’s nice to see a film with a message against underage modeling and what it can do to women. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough horror here to justify being in the genre. I wonder if I speak for anyone else when I say I don’t care to go into a psychedelic reality of modeling, unless it’s Zoolander (I).

If you have patience and you are really interested in how women can exploit other beautiful women out of jealousy, this may be for you. Or, for those interested in an amazing visual experience (strobes and neons) you too may like it. For everyone else I don’t recommend this one, I was rarely entertained as I watched it and the end was quite disappointing.

Tracks

Title: Tracks
Genre: Adventure, Biography, Drama
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Year: 2015
Director: John Curran, known for “The Painted Veil.”
Top Billed Cast: Mia Wasikowska, known for “Alice in Wonderland,” Adam Driver, known for “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens.”
Brief Synopsis:This is a true story of Robyn Davidson, a woman who went on a 1,700 mile walk with camels across the Australian desert. The movie is based on her book.
My Word to the Wise: This is an adventure but not in a Hollywood sense. Some time and patience is required to get the gold nuggets this film indeed has.

The rest of this review may contain spoilers.

Robyn’s journey made very little sense to me at first. She goes through years of preparation just to show that “ordinary people can do extraordinary things.” There is no inner dialog, no traces of why she is doing this. I think that would hae made it a better film but it is flawless besides that.

Girl power! In the 1970’s, the women’s movement was trying to show that women can do everything men can. By the late 1990’s this waxed and waned. Women had already proven it and they had the equal heart attacks and psychiatrist bills to show for it. Many women have now opted to be “SAHM”‘s. It’s important to remember this was less a choice and more a life sentence in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Robyn’s journey is her own and her experiences are encouraging to anyone with a dream of doing the extraordinary. Oh yeah, and the guy from Star Wars, Han Solo’s son, is the Nat Geo photographer but he really adds nothing to this amazing film.