Thursday, October 30, 2014

Boardwalk Empire

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

HBO period crime drama loosely based on BOARDWALK EMPIRE: THE BIRTH, HIGH TIMES, AND CORRUPTION OF Atlantic CITY, following bootlegger Nucky Thompson, based on political figure Enoch Lewis "Nucky" Johnson and played brilliantly by Steven Buscemi. After a shocking but inevitable event in the Season 2 finale "To the Lost", the viewer becomes numb to some of the troubles that follow into the third season despite the compelling addition of Bobby Cannavale as the sickeningly superb hothead Gyp Rosetti. The coldness of Season 4 grips the viewer once again, but the ridiculous subplot between Gretchen Mol and Ron Livingston prevents it from ever reaching the quality of the flawless first and second seasons. A rushed fifth season brings everything full-circle, although the task is not completed without some sloppiness and predictability.


1980s Burton/Keaton combo… you can't go wrong! Deals with a family haunted by a recently deceased young couple (Baldwin and Davis)—yes, it certainly sounds like a cliché horror movie, but the talented cast and the memorable scenes make it anything but, especially with Keaton in the titular role as an obnoxious ghost trying to permanently scare away the new inhabitants. As with many Burton films, the movie relies heavily on visuals (that were impressive for its time, but are now a tad dated), leaving the audience with a fun ride that is worth revisiting once every few years, but lacks any iconic characters or dialogue worth reciting.


One of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV/AIDS, homosexuality, and homophobia, as well as one of the roles that presented Hanks as a serious actor and one of Washington's breakthrough performances. Andrew Beckett (Hanks) is an exceptional senior associate who is suddenly fired. His employers say it is due to attitude and incompetence—two traits Beckett is not known for—while he claims their reasons are lies and that he was really terminated because they had learned of his orientation and/or HIV-status. Beckett hires Joe Miller (Washington), a homophobic personal injury lawyer who he had worked a previous case with, for representation. Excellent performances all around, with a plot that keeps you hooked from beginning to end (which can be somewhat unusual for some courtroom dramas). Despite the well-developed characters played by very talented actors, the sad scenes never really touch you. Based on events of attorneys Geoffrey Bowers and Clarence B. Cain.


Another adaptation of Stephen King's first novel (though actually more of a remake of the 1976 film), updated to accommodate those who don't know (or don't remember) a world without cellphones or CGI—but otherwise a pointless reimagining. The characters actually all have a decent amount of substance to them (at least more so than many other horror movies), but Moretz just isn't convincing as an outcast. The film is no doubt a very enjoyable horror outing, but it seems to get up and running a little too quickly, which robs the movie of the buildup and payoff that the De Palma version had.

The Making of 'Psycho'

Insightful look at the making of one of cinema's most remarkable films ever made by pioneer filmmaker Hitchcock. Interview include star Janet Leigh, Hitchcock's daughter Pat, his assistant Peggy Robertson, the film's screenwriter Joseph Stefano, assistant director Hilton A. Green, Rita Riggs who was in charge of the wardrobe, editor Paul Hirsch, and none other than the HELLRAISER mastermind Clive Barker. A lot of material ended up coming to life in the light-humored HITCHCOCK; however, there are some other stories worth hearing, such as the 'full moon error' (you'll know once you watch it). The Collector's Edition DVD is one place to view this.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Ahead of its time for its content, unconventional story structure, false protagonist and the presence of a toilet, Hitchcock's genius direction and Herrmann's chilling score is still gripping as many people today as it did in 1960. Janet Leigh is graciously brilliant in her role as an ordinary woman who is suddenly on the run for making a spur-of-the-moment snatch of $40,000 ($318,875.14 when adjusted for inflation), and Anthony Perkins is without a doubt equally memorable as the underwhelming, well-mannered, codependent manager of the Bates Motel. One has a fair argument at accusing the final sequence of telling-not-showing, but why pry at it when every scene before it meets the definition of perfection?


Silly pseudo-roadtrip movie about granddaughter McCarthy and grandmother Sarandon (who are only 24-years apart in real life) hoping that adventure and freedom will solve all the problems they're running from, only to realize that it's their relationship that requires the most mending… with (an attempt at) hilarious consequences. Even if one tries to pass this off as an innocent little chick-flick—which is indeed completely fine!—it's still difficult to find anything beneath the cheap laughs and bland plot. McCarthy fits the role well, but her strong personality inevitably upstages the beloved Sarandon—the duo just doesn't have the right chemistry.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Gone Girl

Not to be confused with Affleck's 2007 feature-length directorial debut GONE BABY GONE, this outing is based on Gillian Flynn's 2012 novel of the same name, examining such themes as appearances, dishonesty, marriage and the media. Affleck seeks missing wife Pike, while the press, investigators, friends and even family go from being supportive to suspicious of the worried husband. A story that mirrors the "Missing white woman syndrome" clichés with very unconventional results—but not as unpredictable as intended—much of which is told and revealed through a non-chronological timeline. A movie that will be remembered for its intense first-viewing experience.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa .5

Behind-the-scenes feature of the 2013 comedy JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA that includes over 40 minutes of additional outtakes and interviews. Catherine Keener and Spike Jonze's portrayals as elderly women add a layer to the story and help shape Knoxville's character's background a little more—and despite these subplots being removed from the final cut for lack of contribution to the story, they are just as funny as the shenanigans left in. Not only will fans of the movie enjoy, but also those fond of JACKASS, as .5 unravels a lot like an episode— which couldn't be anything but intentional.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

MTV's Jackass presents star-stuntman/prankster Knoxville dressed as an elderly man in his 80s taking grandson Nicoll on a road-trip to Raleigh to drop him off with his deadbeat dad Harris who has custody while the child's mother (and Grandpa's daughter) Cates is on the run from the law. The hilarious obstacles along the way are witnessed by non-acting bystanders in a candid-camera style capture. Lots of great laughs; one of the year's funniest. However, if you look at this film as a social experiment, there are moments that could really make you lose respect for humankind.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Lethal Weapon

Veteran cop Glover and young suicidal cop Gibson are paired together (and mismatched) to stop mastermind heroin-smuggler Ryan and his fearless goon Busey, with the former two using their dislike in partnerships and hatred for drugs as a bond to take down the latter two. Intense and edgy for its time; but with very little substance, it s now just another buddy-cop action-comedy that came from the 1980s. First movie to feature a cellular phone; however, its Gibson's mullet that seems more ancient than anything. A classic to many for being fun, witty and thriller; but it is ultimately a ride comprised of two-dimensional characters with a one-dimensional backstory, only to be thrown in a cliché conflict.

The Addams Family

Hilarious adaptation of Charles Addams' New Yorker cartoons that plays out more like the plot of a television episode (perhaps intentional as an homage to the 1960s show?) than a feature film, with Gomez (Juliá) and his family being reunited with his estranged brother (Lloyd), except the man who they believe is Uncle Fester is really an impostor out to steal the family's riches that is hidden in a vault. Goth and humor meshes together well in this outing, never leading to punch-lines that you can easily poke holes in (unlike the sequel); but you never fully feel like you're watching the Addams Family until you find out what really happened to Fester.

A Walk Among the Tombstones

Crime-thriller (based on a book of the same name in a series by Block) about a former-detective/current-PI Neeson hired by drug-trafficker Stevens to find his wife's killers. Full of all the badass-ery that's expected from a Neeson action-flick, especially the calm detailed explanations of how the bad guys will die a slow and agonizing death; however, several skin-deep supporting characters are overly developed with no payoffs or red-herrings. Great fun if you're seeking this type of movie, but it would've been a much smoother ride had it been 10–15 minutes shorter.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Lost Boys

After a divorce, mother Wiest and her teenage sons Patric and Haim go to live with her father Hughes in fictional Santa Carla, a Californian community that is inhabited by a gang of vampires. One son befriends them while the other forms an alliance with brothers Feldman and Newlander, who run a comic book store by day and are wannabe vampire hunters at night. Still stylish and scary after all these years. Unfortunately, the story is a bit dull in hindsight, and opportunities for great twists are not taken advantage of… not to mention the rushed finale in an otherwise well-paced horror flick. Coined the term "vamp out".