Independence Day: Resurgence

Anticipation was high for my wife and I going in to see this film. After about 20 minutes, it wore off. After 40 minutes, we had very little idea what was going on.

Anticipation was high for my wife and I going in to see this film. After about 20 minutes, it wore off. After 40 minutes, we had very little idea what was going on. When there was a bout 20 minutes left to the end, we walked out.

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Independence Day: Resurgence
Cast

Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman

Directed by

Roland Emmerich

Written by

Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, James Vanderbilt, Dean Devlin

Other Info

Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Rated PG-13
120min
Riley’s Rating: 1]

The film started in sort of a cool way. It was the type of sci fi beginning that brings you up to speed. At some point in the movie however my wife and I just lost all hope of having an interest and we walked out. Please know that we rarely walk out of movies. In over 13 years of marriage and seeing films, we’ve done it 2-3 times I think. You may know that feeling when you realize it just can’t improve.

The Basic story is that 20 years have passed since aliens nearly destroyed the Earth in the first film Independence Day. The Earth has had a lot of time to build up its defenses but will it be enough when the aliens do return in Independence Day 2.

It’s not meant to be a funny or nonsense movie but I have a feeling comedians and critics will be pulling funny material for routines and columns for decades. Take a few of these particulars for example: Liam Hemsworth’s character pees on a dead alien, there is an alien prison at Area 51, Bill Pullman goes (in a matter of an hour) from a lock down mental health facility to giving national military advice, and the queen alien is supposed to be as big as half the Atlantic ocean. Let me remind you of what I listed in the writers section: there were 6 professional writers for this film. Process that for a minute … 6. When I research most my reviews there is 1 writer, 3 tops.

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Speaking of time spent on reviews, there are a slough of reviews out there on this movie that have done a lot more homework than I. I had high hopes for this film since my wife is a fan of the first one and we wanted to see what happened in the sequel. What we got instead was a convoluted mess that barely made sense and first and whirled out of control quickly to where neither of us knew what was happening.

Could it be the director was hoping for the pro-war, pro-military crowd to dance a jog just for the sake of kicking alien ass? I apologize if that offends anyone but I am really grasping in the dark to find a motive for making this film. I haven’t said this in a review for a while, I do not recommend this film to you. The end leaves room for a sequel so perhaps they’ll produce something better next time. Too bad they missed the mark with this one.

Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)

My Rating: 10/10 – I can’t think of anything wrong with this film, it’s one of the perfect ones in my book. Read my review or listen to it at the player below. Recording is an episode from my podcast.

About 25 years out of high school, everyone probably thinks a little about what they could have or should have done. This film throws a little sci fi “what-if” into a 25 year high school reunion.

“Peggy Sue faints at a high school reunion. When she wakes up, she finds herself in her own past, just before she finished school.” -IMDB

Cast

Kathleen Turner Peggy Sue
Nicolas Cage Charlie Bodell
Barry Miller Richard Norvik
Catherine Hicks Carol Heath

Directed by

Francis Ford Coppola

Written by

Jerry Leichtling, Arlene Sarner

Other Info

Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Romance
PG-13
Fri 10 Oct 1986 UTC
103min
IMDB Rating: 6.3

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather saga,  Apocalypse Now, …), is all I need to say to most movie students like myself. He has such an incredible way with people and movies and we see that come across well in this film. They don’t make films like this often and the universe doesn’t see one like Francis Ford Coppola come along often either.

The staff is similarly charmed. Kathleen Turner plays the lead actress role of Peggy Sue. Watching her is like watching a fine work of art or a ballet dance. She is a talented actress and simply beautiful. Part of her appeal in this film is her humility that belies her beauty. She is one of those beautiful women that can pull it off.

Nicholas Cage is simply hilarious in this film as Charlie Bodell, Peggy Sue’s boyfriend. He is, by way of trivia, the cousin of the famous director. Cage does a great job as the hate-able yet love-able testosterone filled boy with a dream.  His angst mixed with Peggy Sue’s regrets makes the film an amazing message to all of us. There are other notable performance in this film

Peggy Sue somehow transports back to high school after a long bout of regret about her choices. While in this dream state (or is it?) she tries to right every wrong she did in her life. She finds out that maybe isn’t possible but that’s what makes life wonderful. It’s imperfect yet beautiful. Humans are imperfect. My favorite line is when her dad buys an Edsel and she says (in her young self body) “Oh dad, you bought an Edsel, your were always dong stuff like that.” Of course the family thinks she crazy.

FINAL THOUGHTS
We need more movies like this with a female in the lead role who takes us on a fantastic journey. I am always reminded of an important life lesson every time I watch this film. If for no reason other than the fact that it was made by Francis Ford Coppola, you should see this because it’s about the choices we make and sometime regret. Maybe we shouldn’t regret them after all. See what this inspiring film has to say. I recommend it as a perfect film in its genre. It is quite similar to Back to the Future.

 

‘Ashby’ – Legendary Mickey Rourke as Mentor

How does ‘Ashby’ stack up as the latest Mickey Rourke film? The jury is in for this reviewer.

My Rating: 6/10 – Mickey Rourke is an irresistible performer. I’ve been watching his movies since I was a kid and his presence in movies had drawn audiences for years and up to the present day. Is Ashby a welcome presence? Hmmm.

ashby-poster

Ashby (2015)
Cast

Mickey Rourke, Nat Wolff, Emma Roberts

Directed by

Tony McNamara

Written by

Tony McNamara

Other Info

Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rated R
1h 40min

Ashby is one of those movies you keep questioning whether it’s an independent or major studio motion picture. You think it must suck as the latter and might be hip and cool if it’s the former. Turns out, neither platform can save this film, it comes up empty on several levels.

The premise is that a High-school student Ed Wallis (Nat Wolff) enters into a friendship with his neighbor, Ashby, (Mickey Rourke) a retired CIA assassin who only has a few months left to live.

The basic plot bears similarities to Scent of a Woman. The main difference is that Mickey Rourke doesn’t play the role as deftly as Al Pacino. In fact, his character is boring and without charisma. It’s hard to believe we are watching the same Mickey Rourke that kicked ass in Iron Man 2. Maybe he came off as lucid there because he was playing with a thick accent. His character could have been performed much better. The film’s biggest weakness is in him being mis-cast. He’s a great actor and I have huge respect for him. Another film I truly loved him in was The Wrestler. This is not The Wrestler. Unfortunately his performance falls short and almost nonsensical in this film. The romance present in the film can’t save it either. Emma Roberts and Nat Wolff are both charming but the other story overshadows everything and mostly, you want to forget it. I actually chose to watch this film because it was a romance but I think that is another “mis” in the movie along with miscast: a mislabeled.

It’s a fun idea for a story and for a while, I wanted to see what was going to happen. Soon however I lost interest in the characters and the predictable story unraveling before me. When a high school kid is mentored by an old dude, cool things can happen. I guess the trouble here is that not enough cool things happen. The film weaves a high school film into a hit-man drama with another “coming of age” cord woven in. If each were like seasoning, I’d say each overpowers the other. Nothing is subtle. I’ll be a Mickey Rourke fan to the end but this is not one of his films I can wholeheartedly recommend. I wanted deeper, more rounded characters and a better story. I see what they tried to do but in the end they missed it. It’s not a total bomb so if you are a fan, you may enjoy it because hey … it’s MICKEY ROURKE! Still, Ashby doesn’t pack the punch of some of his other hit films.

The Vow (2012)

My Rating: 6/10 – The Vow is a movie directed by Michael Sucsy, known for Deep Impact. It stars Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum) as its main characters. It has been advertised as a romance flick. It nonetheless presents the difficult, unromantic topic of a brain injury. After a serious car accident where she goes through the windshield, Paige winds up in a coma. After some time, she wakes up unable to remember her husband Leo or any part of their relationship.

The Vow

The Vow

“A car accident puts Paige in a coma, and when she wakes up with severe memory loss, her husband Leo works to win her heart again.” -IMDB

Cast

Rachel McAdams Paige
Channing Tatum Leo
Sam Neill Bill Thornton
Jessica Lange Rita Thornton

Directed by

Michael Sucsy

Written by

Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein

Other Info

Drama, Romance
PG-13
Fri 10 Feb 2012 UTC
104min
IMDB Rating: 6.8

Leo goes to great lengths to remind her of their life together with no success. His efforts leave her cold and she moves out to live with her parents. Much of the romance of this film is shown in flashbacks. We see what Paige and Leo were like before the accident. We don’t see Leo and Paige happy together throughout the movie as the promos suggest.

Sorry to disappoint the romance seekers but this is not a “feel good” movie. Still, it has some value on a date. Watching Paige leave Leo is uncomfortable. I kept wondering why she wouldn’t give him more time to try and win her back. After all, he did nothing wrong to deserve losing her. The question then becomes: should one keep the vow out of duty when feelings are gone? Watching poor Leo try to win Paige back may be a painful journey but it does raise interesting conversation.

Dating and marriage are popular subjects for movies. When a movie seems to have romance, some call it a “chick flick.” In this movie’s case however, the romance is rare so it doesn’t qualify. I’d call it a decent drama though because good dramas make you think. It reminded me of when someone broke up with me in real life. Others reading this may recall that same “punch in the stomach” feeling. The actual woman the movie is based on, Krickitt Carpenter, who said in a New York Post interview, “You make a promise before God with your wedding vows.” She seems to have a different view of The Vow than the director.  With respect to her and what she has been through, that isn’t a very romantic concept for a chick flick. This film has ads that look more like the Notebook than a brain injury study or otherwise religious film. To summarize my view, the Vow fails as a romance but is ok as a drama. If you watch it on a date, it can serve as an interesting conversation starter. As a drama it succeeds but as a romance, it loses a bit.

6/10

‘Suicide Squad’

My Rating: 3/10 – It doesn’t really matter that critics are giving this movie an average of 30% on Rotten Tomatoes. People are paying to see it anyway. The explosions and short-attention-span vignettes are what makes it very much like a comic and we all know how popular comics have become in pop culture.

suicidesquad_poster
Starring: Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Will Smith, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne, Jai Courtney, Jesse Eisenberg, Viola Davis, Jay Hernandez
Genres: Action
Directed By: David Ayer
Studio: Warner Bros.
MPAA Rating
R

In case you haven’t divined it by now, Suicide Squad is a comic movie made for comic fans. There is a lot to like about this film but there is also I found hard to follow in the plot. I found it recovered about halfway through and I ended up liking it for what it was.

Director David Ayer is known for his films set in Los Angeles. He is also known for directing Training Day which shines a light on the dark side of law enforcement in L.A.. In Suicide Squad, a set of high profile prisoners are commissioned by a secret government agency to battle an evil supernatural witch. The prisoners are offered less time for their sentences if they comply. These characters are fun to watch and they have a lot of crime adventures as they seek to take down the witch. Unfortunately, the story of how the witch came to be is a little hazy and she is, in my opinion, weak as a villain.

Everyone talks about Margot Robbie as the star of the film as Harley Quinn. I will grant her that but then again, there isn’t a whole lot of competition present here. Jared Leto as the Joker but the backstory about he and Harley Quinn takes away from the plot in my opinion and is not really necessary. I say if you are going to give the story of one you should give it for others. In all truth, I don’t think we need the history for any of these criminals, they should just let them do their work.

The plot starts out really slow but picks up 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through. Unlike a lot of the critics, I liked this film for what it tried to be. Comic books have simple, boxy cartoons that tell a story. This was sort of like “in your face” comic book pages flipping wildly. If you can put aside your desire for a traditional movie, it’s fairly easy to get in to this film. I know because I expected nothing and ended up enjoying it. It was clearly made for children, hence the PG-13 rating. I teach ten year olds and nearly my whole class told me they have seen it. It lost a couple stars with me, I give it a 3/5. Still, if you can shed your grownup sensitivities long enough for this funhouse ride, you might enjoy it. It’s a good idea to do that now and then you know?

Passengers (2016)

I give it a 2/5. It’s much sci-fi ado about nothing worth telling.

My Rating: 2/10 – Space has been called “the final frontier” but what good is space to an explorer all by his lonesome? That’s what we have with Chris Pratt’s character: a lonely man living out a full year knowing no one is there to spend time with him much less save him. That’s what we begin with, what ends is the opposite.

Passengers“A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early.” -IMDB

Cast

Jennifer Lawrence Aurora Lane
Chris Pratt Jim Preston
Michael Sheen Arthur
Laurence Fishburne Gus Mancuso

Directed by

Morten Tyldum

Written by

Jon Spaihts

Other Info

Adventure, Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi
PG-13
Wed 21 Dec 2016 UTC
116min
IMDB Rating: 7.0

Director Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game, Headhunters, provides us with some truly incredible sets. When the doors swish open, they are indeed metal and laden with decor that looks like an Alien ship or even Star Wars one. In fact, this film must have spent most its budget on sets and cgi. It’s truly breathtaking. Unfortunately, the amazing look of this film is in direct contrast to its unaffecting story. I wonder is even the best directing can make a bad story interesting.

Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt need no defense. They are both stellar in what they do and they do an ok job here again, bearing through this awful script and concept. I must note that Lawrence Fishburne is in it too, but just for about 2 scenes that are only partially worth it to the plot. I felt it was a waste of such an amazing actor to have him in this miniscule, needless role.

The story is this: A man is part of a colonizing group that are all asleep in hibernation for 1,000’s of years. He wakes up to find he is alone on a spaceship with all these sleeping people. He wakes a woman up to have a partner and when she finds out she may never make it to the promised land, she mas mixed emotions. The ending shows us what the author think her final resolve would be.

FINAL THOUGHTS
This is a shiny, good looking sci-fi film. Unfortunately it relies too heavily on a simple premise that fails to become interesting even when beaten into the audience’s collective head over ad over again throughout the long middle of the film. The beginning was interesting, it drew me in. The ending was at least a resolution, which not all films have of course, but I do not know how the writer could have come to this conclusion. I was not moved. If you believe you were murdered, would you forgive that person? This is the premise and my response is “who cares, you’re dead.”

2/5

Frankenweenie (2012)

5/5 A boy’s love for his dog becomes a circular journey of learning to let go.

Frankenweenie
“Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.” -IMDB

Cast

Winona Ryder Elsa Van Helsing (voice)
Catherine O’Hara Mrs. Frankenstein/Weird Girl/Gym Teacher (voice)
Martin Short Mr. Frankenstein/Mr. Burgemeister/Nassor (voice)
Martin Landau Mr. Rzykruski (voice)

Directed by

Tim Burton

Written by

Leonard Ripps, Tim Burton

Other Info

Animation, Comedy, Family, Horror, Sci-Fi
PG
Fri 05 Oct 2012 UTC
87min
IMDB Rating: 7.0

You’d think death and grieving were topics best left for grown up movies like Ordinary People et. al., but these topics work surprisingly well in Tim Burton’s animated movie Frankenweenie. It is a highly enjoyable ride for families to the “other side” and back again. As Victor’s science teacher tells him, science experiments must have “heart” as well and brain. A boy’s love for his dog becomes a circular journey of learning to let go. Where does the merry-go-round end? I wont tell you that here but know it is a wildly fun, inspiring ride for viewers of all ages.

As one would expect in a Disney/Burton film, there is an all star cast of voices. Catherine O’Hara, known for her role as the mom in Home Alone plays three characters: Mrs. Frankenstien, Weird Girl, and Gym Teacher. Her voice was the most striking at first for me. When I first heard her doing a character I thought, “Wait a minute I KNOW that voice!” Then you start thinking about where it’s from. Martin Short also does a noteworthy job at the voices of Mr. Frankenstein, Mr. Burgemeister, and Nassor. Incidentally, Mr. Burgemeister is an homage to the Rankin Bass character from Santa Claus in Comin’ to Town and is a delight to watch. He is included likely because this movie was made in “stop action” format with “puppets” as they are called in the credits the same way Santa Claus is Coming to Town was. It is also the same format Burton utilized for The Nightmare Before Christmas. In a time when digital computers seem to be the format for all animation, it is exciting to see this style used to tell a story effectively on screen. There are many other household names in the movie playing a lot of entertaining characters.

Victor is a grade school boy who has a great dog named Sparky. We see them at play and get to know Sparky’s extra-large personality and warmth as a dog in the early part of the movie. This is shown well through his relationship with Victor but also through his relationship “through the fence” with a poodle and other kids. Sparky is clearly an exceptional and loving dog. I wanted to take him home myself.

As you probably have already gleaned from the trailers, Sparky dies and Victor just won’t “let him go” so-to-speak. This is where Victor tries bringing Sparky back to life in his attic just like the Frankenstein movies. By the way, Victor’s last name is also Frankenstein in Frankenweenie. The nods are not subtle in this movie but that’s ok because everything works to make a wonderful and fun family film about death and loss. It also becomes a wild ride reminiscent of Godzilla and Gremlins. Without spoiling all the fun in between, we learn that bringing things back from the dead can have monstrous consequences. There is a somewhat puzzling (for me) ending but ultimately it all works out to be one of the best family films (for all ages) I have seen an a long time. I think I can safely call it an instant classic.

‘Chariots of Fire’

Running is an endurance sport. Not everyone who loves this true-story movie is a runner but it touches them because we all must endure day to day. This film is a metaphor for life, faith, and the importance (or not) of achievement.

*This review contains spoilers.

The story of Eric Liddell is an inspirational one. The music by Vangelis in this film works to elevate the audience to a higher place than most of us usually experience. After all, not all of us will run in the Olympics. The evocative message in Chariots of Fire is strong and timeless.

chariotsoffire-poster

Chariots of Fire (1981)
Cast

Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Nicholas Farrell

Directed by

Hugh Hudson

Written by

Colin Welland

Other Info

Biography, Drama, Sport
PG

There was a poster in my running coach’s office when I was in High School that read: “The agony for the ecstasy.” That is why serious runners do it. I didn’t run anymore but in my twenties I knew the ecstasy of it. Chariots of Fire displays it masterfully. The film’s true story and anthemic music touched a generation beginning at its 1981 release.

Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) is the protagonist and he wants to win the olympic medal at any cost. He’s also a student at Harvard who is obsessed with running to run, second place is not good enough. As the Olympics near, he hears of another runner, Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) vying to run in the Olympics. The difference with Eric is that he has a natural ability to run. Abrahams needs a coach and all manner of training to have a chance at winning. Liddell is also a Christian with high ideals. When he finds out the qualifying races are on a Sunday, he tells the committee he cannot run due to his Sabbath. This is the first time something like this ever happened to the committee so they hardly know what to do. Ultimately, they put Liddell in a different race category so he doesn’t have to run on Sunday. At the same time, Abrahams becomes tortured because he will never be able to prove himself against Liddell. This eats him up inside. 

The film is a psychological study of Abrahams. He is a “win at all costs” scrupulous fellow. Conversely, Liddell is a contented missionary in China doing the “work of the Lord” with his sister Jennie (Cheryl Campbell).

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There are two speeches by Liddell: one sounds like a sermon and another like a funeral. In fact, the final speech is drawn from actual lines Eric spoke at Abrahams funeral in real life. While they were adversaries on the track, they did become friends. What’s the one thing you won’t do? If you can’t think of anything, you probably need to work on your integrity. Liddell’s live mat seem like a stoic life of service. Abrahams life may look more indulgence with a girlfriend, wine, and the finest of food while studying at the finest of universities. The irony is that Abrahams is always unsatisfied. He becomes jealous of Liddlell, not because he is a better runner which he is but rather because he is content and joyful. It tears Abrahams up that he himself lacks that calmness and self-acceptance.

The music by Vangelis is some of the most evocative and beautiful pop piano ever recorded. It has a synth drum sound which was only just beginning to be used in music. A combination of some ethereal sounds, the synth drum, and the analog piano made this music infectious. It showed up on the pop charts. As a personal anecdote, I was 11 years old when I saw this in the theater. My parents remained through the credits, an action they had never done up to that point and still haven’t since, just to soak in the incredible song.

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This is a British film for sure. Settings include London, Harvard, and a Scottish beach where the British Track Team runs. The beach run is one of the most iconic scenes in movie history. Whether a person runs or not, this film applies to all of us. We see Liddell’s idealism contrasted against Abraham’s determination and grit. There is some of both in all of us. The question to talk about over coffee at the end is: “What would I stand up for?” The second question: “Who am I more like: Abrahams or Liddell?” They are the two poles on the spectrum. It’s a very tough question to answer. I think it’s clear Liddell is happier but I’ll leave that up to the viewer.

There is a scene at the beginning that has all the members of the British Olympic Track Team playing a game of cricket. Everyone fits except Liddell. He is off to the side and he seems out-of-place. As a missionary, I imagine he felt out of place with those guys. He says “When I run, I feel [God’s] pleasure. His character makes it a very spiritual film. Sadly, Ian Charleson died of Aids in 1990. He is also known for his roles in Ghandi and Tarzan, the Legend of Greystoke. His role as Eric Liddell remains his most popular role. The fact that he was probably not a Christian, though I don’t know if he was or not, goes to show what a great job of acting he did in Chariots of Fire. In a world where ideals seem less and less important, Eric Liddell’s life stands as a beacon of what integrity and sacrifice means. I’ve seen this film 50 times or more. I watched it again today to write this review. It’s one of the best movies ever made in my opinion. I recommend it to you.

‘Demolition’

Have you ever tried to put something broken back together again? How about a heart, stricken by grief. That may be what is happening in this film. That would explain a lot.

*This review contains spoilers.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, and Chris Cooper star in this film that may be better watched in a therapist’s office than in your DVD home theater.

demolition_poster

Demolition (2015)
Cast

Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper

Directed by

Jean-Marc Vallée

Written by

Bryan Sipe

Other Info

Drama
Rated R
1h 41min

I like most of Jake Gyllenhaal’s movies. They are usually a bit left of centre. Enemy was one of the strangest endings I’ve seen in a long time. I also adore Naomi Watts in just about anything she has starred in. The Impossible is one of my favorites. Chris Cooper is also a legend and a treat to watch. With all three of these in this film, you’d think it was an amazing piece of work, you’d think. There is a lot of fun going on here but, as is customary for Gyllenhaal, it’s odd fun indeed.

The story summary is as follows: Jake Gyllenhaal’s character is stricken with grief and apparently in denial after the death of his wife in a horrible car accident they were both in. Instead of grieving by taking off work and showing sadness, he decides to return immediately to work much to the dismay of his late wife’s father, played by Chris Cooper. It’s odd how he is so okay after the accident. What’s more, he seems preoccupied with the way things are put together. He is obsessed with taking household items like appliances apart and assembling them. I told you about the odd part. He meets Naomi Watt’s character and they start a sort of relationship. This doesn’t get much tread because he is usually rebuilding things or breaking things with a sledge-hammer. There is an interplay between Gyllenhaal’s character and his newfound girlfriend’s son. This oddly takes the film in a different direction. The boy suspects me might be gay and seems to draw strength from breaking things apart too. One thing I should note about Gyllenhaal’s character is that he really seems askew, almost “touched.” It’s endearing to watch him go through healing stages if you assume that is what is happening but his character’s outlandish actions of grandiosity discount his realism. He needed to be more human more of the time.

jomovie13 - Stills from the movie Demolition starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Judah Lewis##########jomovie13##########CATHEY-KERIS FILMS

I take this movie as an abstract map for grief. When you go through such a terrible loss, it breaks you apart. It leaves you to pick up the pieces and put yourself back together. I think someone going through grief could find some solace in this film. Sometimes you have to break down to build yourself strong again. This is an interesting and possibly therapeutic film but as a typical box office movie, I felt it was just short of the mark. It didn’t feel like a movie. Instead, it felt like a gesture from someone like a director seeking to help those going through grief. That isn’t a bad thing it’s just not a movie thing for me, too simplistic and not interesting enough subject matter. And again, Gyllenhaal’s character was not real and not believable enough for me to care about him.

You could start a cult with this film. It teaches self-actualization through destruction. There is a lot you can do with destruction, we all want to know what’s inside things. Sometimes it’s tempting to break them open and see it immediately. I think if one looks at the movie as a therapy session, it will make sense and one can have a good experience watching it. If one can’t buy my reading and doesn’t have a framed purpose for this plot, it will get extraordinarily boring very quickly. To close, I’d say it works on one level but not another. People who have been through grief are more likely to enjoy it. For those not interested in grief or the psychological study of it, I wouldn’t recommend this one.

Holidays (2016)

This post is part of a series I am experimenting with where I review the films now streaming on Netflix. I’m attempting to make them non-spoiler previews.

Holidays is an anthology of horror stories that share the theme of holidays including Easter and St. Patrick’s Day. They range from creepy and unsettling to gory and outright macabre. Anthologies can be great because they get to the conflict and solution much faster than other genre films. There are some truly scary anthology horror films out there, but can this one compete? Let me tell you what I think.

Among the directors is Kevin Smith of Tusk fame. Since that is one of my favorite horror films from 2014, I had high hopes for what he did her. I’ll go ahead and say there isn’t anything as horror-comical as Tusk but there is some stuff just about as twisted. In one, religious folk may be offended. If you decide to give it a go, keep your mind open with the jaws of life. I think I’ll be a recovering religious person my whole life and I loved it. Traditionalists should steer clear. The first three are generally vanilla.

The 5th, Halloween, stars Kevin Smith’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith and gets into sex webcams. The girls say fuck quite a bit, which is not necessarily bad depending on how much you enjoy hearing that from cute girls. Basically the 5th takes you into the twisted, vengeful mind of Kevin Smith. I’ll hold back on details but I can safely tell you we see an asshole get his without spoiling anything.

I’m a big horror fan. I love watching what can be done in this genre. Kevin Smith pushes the limits and gets great results in my opinion. Smith’s contribution may be seen by some as unimaginable but when you’re dealing in vengeance art, you never know what will appeal to people. I’m reminded of the rape scene in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The 6th, Christmas, stars Seth Green. It’s fun to watch but not unique to me. See Brainstorm 1983 for more info on that (what’s a little remake posing as plagiarism between friends?). Oh, there’s a little sleight of hand from Dexter playing in there as well. For the genre of anthology horror, I’d say this one is worth my time. How open minded do you have to be? Well, enough see a climax per sequence which, if you think about it, better than the single big one we’re usually limited to. The final sequence takes place on New Year’s Eve and I will call it the most predictable. The anthology could be better in places but it also could be a lot worse overall. My verdict: Worth watching.

Wondering what you’ll see? Let me know in the comments. Then, get on Netflix where it’s currently streaming and see for yourself.

8/10