The Intouchables 9/10

This French film spawned the current Hollywood film “The Upside.” They’re a lot alike but I’m glad I saw the original first, it is probably much better, based on the trailer of the new one.

In this one, a street savvy ex-con is hired to take care of a highly wealthy quadriplegic. There is a lot of humor that comes from the contrasting cultures and responses to various situations. I like the way the humor is downplayed though, it’s not constant and not in your face. Both men learn from each other and gain strength from their friendship.

It will be interesting to see how “The Upside” interprets this true story. My guess is that Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston will overact this story and ruin it. There is a lot of serious material in this film and I just can’t see it coming across effectively based on the new trailer.

As for this original film, it is delightful and highly enjoyable. There are a few times the image of the lower class gets a little campy but other than those few times it’s a nearly perfect film. 9/10

Podcast: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

I podcasted on this, my favorite Christmas film this year, in my recent podcast episode. I’ve re-posted it here for you to check out. Listen if you get a chance and have a few laughs with me.

This is the Christmas movie that always makes me laugh. Get some hot chocolate and reminisce with me about this strictly hilarious film. Ready? Merry Christmas, I hear Santa’s sleigh! Let’s go.

The House That Jack Built 6/10

This mercurial film has received so much press it made my head spin. I just finished watching it and I have to say it isn’t as good as they say and not as bad either. It is a movie, that’s the only safe thing to say for sure.

The kills are heartless. Jack has no empathy. This is part and parcel for every serial killer we know. To be honest, it’s kind of a tired premise if you asked me. Yes the kills are gruesome though most the reactions are just that and not shown onscreen. It’s what we imagine is happening that repulses us the most. Jack’s “playroom” is an acquired pizza place walk-in cooler. That’s where he keeps the bodies.

Jack is killing a new person or set in each “incident.” They watch like chapters in a book. He’s OCD and that’s supposed to be funny but it’s not. Irony like this is old and worn out. I was surprised Lars reduced his writing to use it.

There has been hue and cry about disfiguring children. While a hunting based scene is horrible, the fashioning of the victims afterwards is not that bad. People wigged out too much. It is entertaining but tries to be Dante’s Inferno too much toward the end. It feels like Lars got tired and just went a whole different direction for the end. I did enjoy it but it’s not great or shitty, just meh. 6/10

Psycho 2 5/10

I will respect any movie with the Psycho name attached … up to a point. The movie should be connected to the original in cohesive ways and this one is not.

Psycho II (1983)

For starters, Norman Bates is released from the insane asylum after demonstrating his sanity. That wouldn’t just happen. Second he is released back to all the old triggers including the hotel. No psychiatrist on the case would allow that.

At his job (he looks and acts very wooden in the film) he meets Meg Tilly’s character and they hit it off. This also feels forced and unrealistic. This film could have been so great! I haven’t yet seen III so perhaps they got closer to Hitchcock in their conventions. II looks like a cheap TV movie or lampoon on the original. When someone is murdered it’s serious but not so in this film universe. The sheriff gives a knowing laugh when recalling Norman’s story. There was no verisimilitude, it was not entertaining in the least. Worst of all, none of it was logical. 5/10

Riley’s Top Ten Movies of 2018

I did a good job keeping track of my movie ratings this year. I used IMDB. Of all movies released 01-01-2018 to present 12-12-2018 I have watched and rated 117 of those 2018 titles. What follows are my top 10 favorite films of 2018 in descending order. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did. Leave me your top ten list in the comments or a link to where you’ve made yours.

Searching

1. Searching (III) (2018)

PG-13 | 102 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller 7.8  10 71 Metascore

After his 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a desperate father breaks into her laptop to look for clues to find her.

Director: Aneesh Chaganty | Stars: John ChoDebra MessingJoseph Lee,Michelle La

Votes: 51,847 | Gross: $26.02MWatch Now 
From $4.99 (SD) on Prime Video

Beautiful Boy

2. Beautiful Boy (2018)

R | 120 min | Biography, Drama 7.3  10 63 Metascore

Based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse, and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.

Director: Felix van Groeningen | Stars: Steve CarellTimothée Chalamet,Maura TierneyChristian Convery

Votes: 5,469 | Gross: $7.42M

Christopher Robin

3. Christopher Robin (2018)

PG | 104 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy 7.5  10 60 Metascore

A working-class family man, Christopher Robin, encounters his childhood friend Winnie-the-Pooh, who helps him to rediscover the joys of life.

Director: Marc Forster | Stars: Ewan McGregorHayley AtwellBronte CarmichaelMark Gatiss

Votes: 32,517 | Gross: $99.22MWatch Now 
From $4.99 (SD) on Prime Video

Overlord

4. Overlord (2018)

R | 110 min | Action, Adventure, Horror 7.1  9 60 Metascore

A small group of American soldiers find horror behind enemy lines on the eve of D-Day.

Director: Julius Avery | Stars: Jovan AdepoWyatt RussellMathilde Ollivier,Pilou Asbæk

Votes: 17,116 | Gross: $21.51MGet Showtimes & Tickets 
In 1 theater near Victorville CA US [change]

A Quiet Place

5. A Quiet Place (2018)

PG-13 | 90 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery 7.6  10 82 Metascore

In a post-apocalyptic world, a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing.

Director: John Krasinski | Stars: Emily BluntJohn KrasinskiMillicent SimmondsNoah Jupe

Votes: 237,223 | Gross: $188.02MWatch Now 
From $2.99 (HD) on Prime Video

Calibre

6. Calibre (2018)

TV-MA | 101 min | Thriller 6.7  9 76 Metascore

A shocking deed turned their weekend trip into a nightmare. Now their only hope is to swallow their paranoia and act normal.

Director: Matt Palmer | Stars: Jack LowdenMartin McCannTony Curran,Ian Pirie

Votes: 12,023

Sorry to Bother You

7. Sorry to Bother You (2018)

R | 111 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Sci-Fi 7  9 80 Metascore

In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a universe of greed.

Director: Boots Riley | Stars: Lakeith StanfieldTessa ThompsonJermaine FowlerOmari Hardwick

Votes: 23,836 | Gross: $17.49MWatch Now 
From $3.99 (HD) on Prime Video

Isle of Dogs

8. Isle of Dogs (2018)

PG-13 | 101 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy 7.9  9 82 Metascore

Set in Japan, Isle of Dogs follows a boy’s odyssey in search of his lost dog.

Director: Wes Anderson | Stars: Bryan CranstonKoyu RankinEdward NortonBob Balaban

Votes: 82,247 | Gross: $32.02MWatch Now or On TV 
From $14.99 (SD) on Prime Video

Hearts Beat Loud

9. Hearts Beat Loud (2018)

PG-13 | 97 min | Comedy, Drama, Music 6.9  10 65 Metascore

A father and daughter form an unlikely songwriting duo in the summer before she leaves for college.

Director: Brett Haley | Stars: Nick OffermanKiersey ClemonsBlythe DannerToni Collette

Votes: 3,947 | Gross: $2.39MWatch Now 
From $0.99 (HD) on Prime Video

Eighth Grade

10. Eighth Grade (2018)

R | 93 min | Comedy, Drama 7.6  10 89 Metascore

An introverted teenage girl tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth grade year before leaving to start high school.

Director: Bo Burnham | Stars: Elsie FisherJosh HamiltonEmily Robinson,Jake Ryan

Votes: 22,156 | Gross: $13.54MWatch Now 
From $4.99 (SD) on Prime Video

Podcast: A Christmas Story Muse on my Favorite Scenes

I had so much fun with this movie on my podcast. I hope you have a chance to listen and laugh with me at this classic Christmas memoir of Jean Shepard. This podcast was published first at https://thedrpodcast.com You can listen there or at the player here.

Sleep Tight

This film plays on the note of us all trusting the places we fall asleep. What if you weren’t safe? How would you know it. The brand of psycho in this film knows all your comings and goings and he is a bit like Santa in that he knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. Of course, this IS a horror film so there won’t be any presents brought by this guy. It’s a stalker film tried and true and quite scary at times when it’s not being creepy building suspense.

Sleep Tight (2011)
Mientras duermes (original title)
Not Rated | 1h 42min | Drama, Horror, Thriller | 14 October 2011 (Spain)

You wake day after day to the comfort and security of your home. But how safe is it really?
Director: Jaume Balagueró
Writer: Alberto Marini (screenplay)
Stars: Luis Tosar, Marta Etura, Alberto San Juan

I recall a sick twist like this in “The Gift” 2015. Since “Sleep Tight” is from 2011, I have to wonder somewhat if Edgerton did some borrowing there. “Mientras Duermes” is the original title and Spain style Spanish is spoken.

The deaths in this film are heinous. Especially the boyfriend of the main actress. As she suffers from the villain putting poison in her toothbrush and other toiletries, her boyfriend gets it worse … well until the final scene. 

This is a solid horror film from the “psychotic individual stalker” type. It’s creepy and scary but also fun and exciting if you like this genre. Remember, you need to be subtitles enabled to watch in English. If you speak Spanish, you’re good to go. 8/10

Ralph Breaks the Internet

It’s great when you see a sequel with your favorite character doing more of what you loved the first time. Due to mediocre writing and an attempt to be flash over story, this film quickly veers away from the first film. All is not lost though, the visuals are indeed amazing and enjoyable.

Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)
PG | 1h 52min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy | 21 November 2018 (USA)
Ralph Breaks the Internet Poster
Six years after the events of “Wreck-It Ralph,” Ralph and Vanellope, now friends, discover a wi-fi router in their arcade, leading them into a new adventure.
Directors: Phil Johnston, Rich Moore
Writers: Phil Johnston (screenplay by), Pamela Ribon (screenplay by) | 6 more credits »
Stars: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot

One reason this film might have appeared out there and disjointed was because there are two directors. I really don’t see that much. It could be like having 2 kings or 2 cooks on one stove. Like they say, “too many cooks spoil the broth.”

Vannelope and Ralph have a complicated friendship. In a way, it appears to go beyond friendship and at the same time, he has a unselfish affection for her that allows him to not be possessive and let go. It’s probably out of place for me to compare their characters to romantic lovers because they act like young kids. Still, the promos with all the Disney princesses along with that scene in the film allude to a woman’s success in life owing to a man. It’s sort of #metoo and sort of not. I didn’t like the foggy lines of their relationship. I wish it were more clearly defined. It made the story uncomfortable at times and I forgot I was supposed to be having childlike fun. But there is still lots to enjoy in this film.

The visuals in this film come at you non-stop. I had a feeling about the visuals like I did when I saw “Trolls” for the first time. It was all inventive technology with a human element. In other words, it wasn’t just like a strobe in your face. There are so many amazing visuals but probably my absolute favorite was at the end when all the little Ralphs form on monstrous one. That most have taken tons of code and animation science to pull off.

To close, this sequel is highly visual and very exciting. The story and it’s character dynamics are very flawed in my opinion. I really felt they though the visuals were enough and so they skimped on story. It is rather good though and I would recommend you take your kids to it. It is nowhere near the masterpiece of the original “Wreck it Ralph” and that was a let down. 6/10

Discussion Questions:

  1. Has the “world” changed from the first film? How does it look the same and/or different?
  2. What visuals stand out in your memory?
  3. Do you think it’s possible to break the internet? Why or why not?

 

Podcast: Alpha, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, 247F, Boiler Room, The Exorcist 3, Megan Leavey, Baskin, The Return of the Living Dead, Mercy, Crazy Rich Asians

This is a bunch o’ films in a podcast. I review Alpha, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, 247F, Boiler Room, The Exorcist 3, Megan Leavey, Baskin, The Return of the Living Dead, Mercy, Crazy Rich Asians. I rather like this format. Special mention goes to: “Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon” a must see for horror/slasher fans. I Hope you enjoy all the movies.

This episode first appeared at The DRP.

Alpha, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, 247F, Boiler Room, The Exorcist 3, Megan Leavey, Baskin, The Return of the Living Dead, Mercy, Crazy Rich Asians

Alpha
1. Alpha (2018)
PG-13 | 1 hr 36 min | Adventure, Drama, Family 8

Rated on 04 Dec 2018

In the prehistoric past, a young man struggles to return home after being separated from his tribe during a buffalo hunt. He finds a similarly lost wolf companion and starts a friendship that would change humanity.

Director: Albert Hughes | Stars: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, Marcin Kowalczyk, Jens Hultén

Votes: 26,416Watch Now
From $4.99 (SD) on Prime Video

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
2. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon(2006)
R | 1 hr 32 min | Comedy, Horror, Thriller 8

Rated on 04 Dec 2018

The next great psycho horror slasher has given a documentary crew exclusive access to his life as he plans his reign of terror over the sleepy town of Glen Echo.

Director: Scott Glosserman | Stars: Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, Zelda Rubinstein, Robert Englund

Votes: 19,378Watch Now
With Prime Video + 1 more

247°F
3. 247°F (2011)
R | 1 hr 28 min | Horror, Thriller 6

Rated on 04 Dec 2018

Four friends travel to a lakeside cabin for a carefree weekend, the fun turns into a nightmare when 3 of them end up locked in a hot sauna. Every minute counts and every degree matters as they fight for their lives in the heat up to 247°F.

Directors: Levan Bakhia, Beka Jguburia | Stars: Scout Taylor-Compton,Christina Ulloa, Travis Van Winkle, Michael Copon

Votes: 4,909Watch Now
From $3.99 (HD) on Prime Video

Boiler Room
4. Boiler Room (2000)
R | 2 hr | Crime, Drama, Thriller 10

Rated on 04 Dec 2018

A college dropout, attempting to win back his father’s high standards he gets a job as a broker for a suburban investment firm, which puts him on the fast track to success, but the job might not be as legitimate as it once appeared to be.

Director: Ben Younger | Stars: Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Nia Long, Nicky Katt

Votes: 45,685Watch Now
From $9.99 (SD) on Prime Video

The Exorcist III
5. The Exorcist III (1990)
R | 1 hr 50 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery 9

Rated on 04 Dec 2018

A police Lieutenant uncovers more than he bargained for as his investigation of a series of murders, which have all the hallmarks of the deceased Gemini serial killer, leads him to question the patients of a psychiatric ward.

Director: William Peter Blatty | Stars: George C. Scott, Ed Flanders, Brad Dourif, Jason Miller

Votes: 21,202Watch Now
With Prime Video + 1 more

Megan Leavey
6. Megan Leavey (2017)
PG-13 | 1 hr 56 min | Biography, Drama, War 8

Rated on 04 Dec 2018

Based on the true life story of a young Marine corporal whose unique discipline and bond with her military combat dog saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq.

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite | Stars: Kate Mara, Ramon Rodriguez, Tom Felton, Bradley Whitford

Votes: 17,613Watch Now
With Prime Video + 1 more

Baskin
7. Baskin (2015)
Not Rated | 1 hr 37 min | Fantasy, Horror 7

Rated on 04 Dec 2018

A squad of unsuspecting cops go through a trapdoor to Hell when they stumble upon a Black Mass in an abandoned building.

Director: Can Evrenol | Stars: Mehmet Cerrahoglu, Görkem Kasal, Ergun Kuyucu, Muharrem Bayrak

Votes: 6,925Watch Now
From $3.99 (SD) on Prime Video

The Return of the Living Dead
8. The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
R | 1 hr 31 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi 8

Rated on 04 Dec 2018

When two bumbling employees at a medical supply warehouse accidentally release a deadly gas into the air, the vapors cause the dead to rise again as zombies.

Director: Dan O’Bannon | Stars: Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Thom Mathews

Votes: 47,186Watch Now
With Prime Video

Mercy
9. Mercy (I) (2014)
R | 1 hr 19 min | Horror, Thriller 7

Rated on 04 Dec 2018

A single mom and her two boys help take care of their grandmother with mystical powers.

Director: Peter Cornwell | Stars: Frances O’Connor, Shirley Knight, Chandler Riggs, Joel Courtney

Votes: 4,389Watch Now
From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

Crazy Rich Asians
10. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
PG-13 | 2 hr | Comedy, Romance 9

Rated on 04 Dec 2018

This contemporary romantic comedy, based on a global bestseller, follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family.

Director: Jon M. Chu | Stars: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh,Gemma Chan

Votes: 50,471Watch Now
From $5.99 (SD) on Prime Video

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

This film is often listed as a “must-watch” classic. For many years I have been intrigued by it but only now have I take the time to watch. I can tell you it has great cinematic moments and indeed every film lover should see it. At the same time, it has some slow segments that a modern audience may find dull. The final 1/3 is very exciting though and certainly wort the wait.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
PG-13 | 2h 6min | Drama, Thriller | 24 October 1962 (USA)
The Manchurian Candidate Poster
A former prisoner of war is brainwashed as an unwitting assassin for an international Communist conspiracy.
Director: John Frankenheimer
Writers: Richard Condon (based upon a novel by), George Axelrod (screenplay)
Stars: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh

Our director is John Frankenheimer. He is known for many classic and modern films before his passing in 2002. I recognized “Ronin” on is list which is one of my favorite action films. It took a skilled and visionary director to make “The Manchurian Candidate.” There are two stories running side by side and yet the overall plot must be told with subtlety and care.

Since the story is about a brainwashed puppet being used by forces hostile to the USA, the subject matter is close to home for an American. Still, it’s easy to see how this sort of thing could be happening behind our back without us knowing it. The acting is incredible along with the writing making this a definite must see for movie fans and/or fans of the actors.  The fight scenes unfortunate make me laugh. This is ironic since Frank Sinatra considered it some of his best acting ever.  It is in fact dated in its pace and some of the effects look fake. It was avoided by many audiences for some time after its release due to the political public response to the film. 7/10.