Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Extraordinary Disney retelling of THE ARABIAN NIGHTS tale about an impoverished young ne'er-do-well who is recruited and then double-crossed by a sorcerer, only to find himself in possession of a wonderful oil lamp that houses a genie who will grant him three wishes. The addition of extra characters and razzle-dazzle make the journey even more worthwhile, adding a charm to this old story without diluting what made it a classic in the first place. Much excitement despite being lighthearted. The voice actors fit their animated characters perfectly, with Robin Williams easily stealing the show with his grand performance as the Genie. Composer Alan Menken and songwriters Howard Ashman and Tim Rice created one of film's greatest soundtracks. Exceptional animation as well.

The Lords of Salem

Even in Rob Zombie's growth as a filmmaker, it seems he cannot bring himself to stop parading Sheri Moon Zombie—his wife and LORDS OF SALEM's star—around like a trophy. The film follows a recovering addict working as a disc jockey in Salem, Massachusetts, who becomes haunted by a coven of witches from the Salem Witch Trials. The supporting cast is comprised of many excellent actors such as Bruce Davison, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Ken Foree, Dee Wallace, María Conchita Alonso, Richard Fancy, and especially Meg Foster. Admirable for lack of convention, with Zombie taking influence from Ken Russell and THE SHINING and turning it into a movie that he wanted to make rather than a movie people would care to see; but the overall effect is a fail, never becoming as scary, violent, intense or worthwhile as it intends to be. Title taken from a song appearing on Zombie's 2006 album EDUCATED HORSES.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Fifth TURTLES feature is a reboot primarily influenced by the 2003 show, and focuses on the four brothers' first big adventure outside of their sewer home. The origin-story differences fit well for this particular story, but unfortunately focuses a little too much on April O'Neil (Fox) and not enough on the turtles or even Splinter—TRANSFORMER-like Shredder comes off as almost a secondary antagonist. Arrives at full speed and never slows down; but it doesn't ware the audience out nearly as quickly as other movies Michael Bay has been responsible for. By far the darkest TURTLE movie (first to receive a PG-13 rating). Pays much homage to predecessors (i.e. April's yellow jacket from the cartoon series or a slice of pizza landing on the top of Splinter's head like in the 1990 film, just to name a few). Nice to see the live-action debuts of Karai (Noji) and Vernon Fenwick (Arnett); let's hope to finally see Bebop and Rocksteady in the sequel(s), as well as the return of Casey Jones. If you hated this movie, at least be grateful they didn't go with Michael Bay's "original" idea of having the turtles be aliens. All-in-all, it's the dialogue that really brings this outing down; but ultimately, the experimentation works pretty well. Creator Kevin Eastman makes another cameo, this time as a doctor.

Cabin Fever

Eli Roth's directorial debut can be a bit dense at times and is full of shameless clichés, but has gained a cult-following over the years for being a halfway decent horror movie made at only a 1.5 million dollar budget. Five college graduates who rent a cabin in the woods (already two clichés in just half a sentence) fall victim to a flesh-eating virus. Idea came from Roth's experience of developing a facial rash from rotten hay during an Iceland trip. Sound mixer John Neff survived the real flesh-eating bacterium, which took 13 days of non-stop intensive care to cure. Despite the real-life inspirations from Roth and Neff who maintain the make-up in the film is 100% accurate, the movie never hooks the viewer into the story's reality.

The Birdcage

Remake of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES about son Futterman trying to disguise his gay father Williams as a Greek cultural attaché in order to impress fiancé Flockhart's conservative parents (played perfectly by Hackman and Wiest). Let's not forget about Lane and Azaria, who both deliver just as many (if not more) laughs and memorable quotes as the rest of the terrific cast. Although a bit stereotypical at times, it is ultimately a very well-rounded comedy that was ahead of its time. Much of this outing is skin-deep, with a somewhat questionable backstory between Williams and Baranski, but its charm and fun make any flaws you might find quite forgivable.


The tale of a grown-up Peter Pan (Williams) who has forgotten his childhood past and must return to Neverland and reclaim his youthful spirit in order to save his kidnapped children (Korsmo and Scott) from Captain Hook (Hoffman). You can call it a sequel to Barrie's 1911 novel PETER AND WENDY, but the genius of this particular story is all contained within this film, from the spot-on cast to the sets of Sony Pictures Studios bringing Neverland to screen in live-action, this movie is magical to anyone who grew up in the 1990s despite critics' panning. And while not every element from PETER AND WENDY can make it into this movie (despite being 144 minutes), there are many wonderful references to them nonetheless (such as John, Michael and Tiger Lily).

World's Greatest Dad

Filmed in Seattle, this incredibly strange father-son tale is hilariously twisted and morbidly entertaining. Williams delivers a sympathetic performance as a teacher who runs a poetry class at his disrespectful fetishist outcast son's high school. Sabara is just as good as Williams in the role of the ungrateful son. All other characters are not necessarily two-dimensional, but are unfortunately a little too close to it, despite an excellent supporting cast of Gilmore, Martin, McCall, Pierson and Tony V. Ultimately, an excellent story on how anybody (even a lowlife dimwit) can be a legend… just as long as they die tragically. Goldthwait appears as the driver who takes Williams' character to the talk show.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Say Anything…

*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Teenage romance masterpiece about underachiever Cusack falling for and winning the heart of overachiever Skye the summer after high school, with serious decisions arising as college approaches for the latter, possibly forcing the two to go down different paths forever. Three-dimensional characters with very relatable conflicts. Mahoney steals the movie as Skye's father, who is just so freaking awesome that it's too good to be true… which, sadly, ends up being the case. There are a few story choices that force the movie off track unnecessarily, but it's just straight-up knit-picking to say it negatively affects the overall viewing experience or quality of the film. Directorial debut of Cameron Crowe. Lois Chiles, Joan Cusack and Dan Castellaneta all go unbilled. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Is it the worst movie ever made? No. The cinematography is not half-bad, it's not afraid to kill off some key characters, and Jaason Simmons is somewhat worth rooting for. But is it awful? Absolutely. Many viewers who have assisted this garbage in attaining some sort of pathetic cult status insist the amateur CGI, bad acting and ridiculous premise is what makes this film so fun to watch. No… just… no. There are parts that really stink of effort, which completely ruins any chance of this movie having any sort of it's-so-bad-it's-good quality. There are many turkeys to choose from for Bad Movie Night, and SHAKRNADO isn't one of them. You'll make better use of your time staring at a blank wall.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Battered Bastards of Baseball

Documentary about Hollywood veteran Bing Russell creating the only independent baseball team in America at the time, operating without a Major League affiliation. From public tryouts to the in-your-face attitude, the 1973–1977 Portland Mavericks are a thrill to watch. Featuring interviews with Kurt Russell, Todd Field, Frank "The Flake" Peters, Joe Garza, Jim Bouton and Joe Garagiola. What's even more exciting than hearing about these underdogs win is hearing about Bing Russell going face-to-face with the powerful establishment of Major League Baseball and basically telling them that the only rules he'll play by are the rules of baseball. Nowadays, however, it feels a bit ironic that a guy like Bing Russell, the man who did it all for the love of the game which included practically giving the middle finger to the bureaucracy of sporting establishments, would be a New York Yankees fan.

"The Killing"

Crime-drama TV series based upon FORBRYDELSEN following the murder of teenage Findlay and the grieving, investigation and politics surrounding her death, which eventually branches off to other homicides worked by detectives Enos and Kinnaman who have the grungy Seattle version of the Mulder/Scully thing going on. Dumped by AMC twice, and picked up by Netflix for a satisfying fourth and final season. There are excellent television shows with terrible endings, and then there are terrible television shows with excellent endings; and while THE KILLING doesn't fall into either category, it should be noted that the series has some very high points as well as some very low. Every season finale (save the Season Four's series finale) is a major letdown, but the show is otherwise thrilling and well-made. The series begins flawlessly, but once Season Two arrives, the story starts to drag, and the characters' actions go from realistic, to questionable, to far-fetch, to just downright stupid, and never quite recovers until the rewarding fourth and final season. It is definitely worth your time if you like crime-dramas.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Inglourious Basterds

WWII revenge fantasy about a group of Nazi-hunters led by Pitt. Gets better with each viewing despite all the gore. Both the well-known and unknown actors are excellent in their roles; however, it goes without saying that Waltz easily steals the show as the charming opportunistic sociopath SD Standartenführer Hans "The Jew Hunter" Landa, possibly the greatest character Tarantino has ever written. Lots of subtitles, but that's a good thing as it helps in authenticating an otherwise alternate history; though, admittedly, it does get a little too dialogue-driven (if there's such a thing in a Tarantino picture) during Chapter 4's "Who Am I" Drinking Game—but the movie is otherwise, as Landa would say, "Bravo". The soundtrack—a first of Tarantino's not to feature dialogue— uses a variety of music genres, including spaghetti western soundtrack excerpts and R&B; all of which is a strange but wonderful fit. Easily Tarantino's best since PULP FICTION. The Swastika forehead carvings is one of the coolest Cinema Wounds along with the half-Glasgow smile in PAN'S LABYRINTH.