Saturday, February 28, 2015

St. Vincent

Murray (who hasn't lost his comedic touch) plays a fouled-mouthed and drunken Vietnam War veteran who becomes the unlikely mentor of his 12-year-old neighbor (Lieberher) whose mother (McCarthy) works long hours. While a little overdone, Watts adds some extra laughs that go a long way, and O'Dowd underplays his charm as the boy's school teacher. Lieberher makes his theatrical debut, and is very likable, which can be a rarity for child actors who aren't in a family film; however, he is a bit too well-spoken at times, which tests the boundaries of believability. An A+ conclusion, but that's not to imply that the beginning and middle don't hit all the right notes either. Highly recommended.

Pumping Iron

Nicely filmed docudrama about the sport of bodybuilding. Ken Waller, Ed Corny, Mike Katz and Franco Columbu all make appearances, with the latter two having their own brief segments, but the film's main focus is on five-time champion Arnold Schwarzenegger defending his Mr. Olympia title against Lou Ferrigno and Serge Nubret. Partly scripted, with some stories being a bit embellished or possibly completely made up. Completion stalled for a couple of years due to budgetary problems, but Schwarzenegger and other bodybuilders helped raise funds to continue filming. Yes, this is the movie where Arnold compares working out to sex—and it's a humorously ridiculous analogy even in the context of this film.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Assault

Lifetime Movie inspired by the 2012 Steubenville High School rape case. Cheerleader Vega attempts suicide by self-immolation, setting into motion events that could make the community's beloved football team accountable for a very serious crime. Very dramatic for the better. Still, way too cookie-cutter in terms of structure, and the story unravels more like a mystery/thriller than a drama with something important to say. There's also the need to explain too much, indicating an underestimation of the viewer. Khandi Alexander is memorable as Detective Jodi Miller. Buckner's first role in seven years. Good if you have nothing better to do.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Cornfield People

A movie that definitely needs absorbing and will probably always be the subject of debate, this supposed “lost film” does a pretty good job capturing the noir-ish-ness it strives for through good old-fashioned lighting and directing.  Joe Fischer is a down-and-out writer/journalist, burying his career into an uncaring and tabloid-like paranormal magazine; however, his opportunities (and life) turns around when an old buddy calls him up with a story to tell about the titular group—a secret society who knows the meaning of life and what comes after death… and they’ll stop at nothing to keep their knowledge hidden from the outside world because exposure will “interfere with the bigger plan”.  The concept is no doubt interesting, and you got to give the cast and crew props for giving it their all; but one can’t help but notice that a bigger budget would’ve carried this story much further.  Perhaps the most intriguing thing about this film is the mystery behind it (no credits) and difficulty finding it (only known way to see it are unofficial low-quality VHS copies).

You're Next

$1 million budget turned $25 million profit horror/thriller about Australian teaching assistant Vinson going to the family reunion of former-teacher/current-boyfriend Bowen at his parents' Missouri vacation house, where the 10 attendees end up being the targets of a group of murderous hooligans. The acting is top notch. While many will praise it for its dark-humor, the dialogue in which the twisted laughs come from is considerably far-fetched even with an open-mind. An all-in-all impressive little flick that went on to be more than it set out to be, and will be quite a pleasure for the horror buffs despite the twists being painfully obvious. The movie did not end up seeing a wide release until two years after its premiere.

Saturday, February 14, 2015


As a 'Top Reviewer' on IMDb, I have written many film reviews in my time; however, almost all of them are capsule reviews that include a plot summary, brief pros/cons, and maybe a quick noteworthy piece of trivia to add an eensy bit of fat. However, none have been more personal than HECKLER. Here is a rare PERSONAL summary:

I first watched HECKLER a couple of years after its release. Nobody likes a heckler, so the generic title was really an eye-catcher for me. Also, being a horror movie fan, I have a soft-spot for Jamie Kennedy who played Randy Meeks in the first three SCREAM films—possibly the horror genre's most underrated supporting character. My first viewing was at a buddy's studio apartment, and he and I both really enjoyed it.

What brought me to replay this movie a few years later:

I had recently discovered that one of my books had gotten a * out of ***** on by a reader. It included something along the lines of "the characters are as flat as the paper they're printed on" and some other harsh words that I don't wish to continue breathing life into. Deep down, I knew I shouldn't have cared; I get reviews and some of them are good, some are mixed and some are bad—this person's review made it pretty clear that they either didn't understand important elements of the story and/or it simply wasn't their cup of tea. On the surface, however, it was difficult not to be hurt.

I actually decided to give HECKLER a replay and it really helped. Not only did it remind me that others receive this on a similar scale, but also that I created something that puts me in the spotlight to get heckled. In a way, whether my work was praised or criticized, I made an accomplishment that put me in a position to get reception from others—and just being able to have myself out there in front of the world like that is quite an achievement, and that fact is what I should be focused on.

Also, Perez Hilton made a commendable comment in a deleted scene, explaining that because he dishes criticism, he has to accept criticism from others in return. While it might be an obvious point, it's an easy one to forget when you're down-in-the-dumps due to a bad review. I have written hundreds of reviews; and, yes, on occasion, I am willing to be blunt. Therefore, I need to move on and not let such a First World problem affect me creatively or emotionally.

HECKLER is an excellent comfort film for anyone who is in a positioned to be heckled or negatively reviewed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Favreau directs, writes and stars in this comedy-drama about Carl Casper, a chef who becomes fed up with being held back from his full potential and has an emotional-blowout that's caught on video. Instead of trying to milk the event by staying in the spotlight, Casper instead continues his passion for cooking low-key style by opening a Cubano food truck, which not only allows him the creative outlet he was looking for, but also the necessary bonding time he needs with his family. The soundtrack is fitting and makes for an undeniably excellent playlist on its own, and there are some fun bit roles filled by A-listers. Never a dull moment, but it lingers in the first act too long, and just when things get up and running… there doesn't seem to be a conflict any longer. ??? Don't watch on an empty stomach.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pitch Perfect

The Barden Bellas, a female a-cappella group, add University freshman Kendrick to the club, but she brings with her a creative freedom demand that is much needed but might tear them all apart; however, they'll have to agree on something if they hope to stand a chance against their male rivals in a campus competition. The ensemble cast delivers excellently in both acting and singing, and the musical choices are quite sound (pun?). Worthy date-night movie, but all the laughs are targeted to the female viewer. The hypocrisy of Kendrick ranting about how predictable movies are is quite a turn off, considering how textbook the unfolding of this story is. Loosely adapted from the non-fiction PITCH PERFECT: THE QUEST FOR COLLEGIATE A CAPPELLA GLORY by Mickey Rapkin.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Groundhog Day

Much to his detest, snobby weatherman Murray is sent over to Punxsutawney, PA to cover the groundhog story with crew MacDowell and Elliott, spending his time flirting with the former and bullying the latter to get through the dreadful assignment. However, he'll have to come up with new ways to kill time to get through this trip because he keeps waking up to the same day (Groundhog Dog) over and over again. WHAT ABOUT BOB? meets THE TWILIGHT ZONE and ends up being a priceless match. A good comfort movie with lots of replay value, but perhaps it's also an examination on how much control one does and doesn't have over everyday events. Really fun!

The Good Mistress

*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While coping with the events following a car accident caused by her, recovering alcoholic Heise moves to Shelter Hills to rekindle with longtime friend Anderson, who has offered her a position at a firm. Things appears to be patching up nicely, especially when she meets dreamboat Cupo at the grocery store parking lot. Not only does he turn out to be a candidate in the county elections, he is also turns her friend's husband… oh, yeah, and a suspect in a murder investigation. Does a pretty decent job with the twists and turns, and the acting is better than most Lifetime Movies. Like of lot of these types, there is an overload on characters for the mere purpose of having lots suspects, a crutch to distract us from piecing things together too easily. Definitely worth the watch if you are completely bored or have a taste for cheap TV-movies.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Interview

Franco plays talk show host Dave Skylark, who interviews stars about rumors and their personal lives. After his producer Rogen has an epiphany and convinces everyone to take the program in a more serious direction, they line up Kim Jong-un (played by Randall Park) as a guest. When the CIA catches wind of this, they want in on the action, instructing the journalists to assassinate the North Korean leader. Audiences instantly praised THE INTERVIEW out of protest for the release cancellation triggered by Sony Pictures Entertainment getting hacked. For a film centered around very contemporary political issues, the movie actually does very little to educate the viewer, nor does it even come off as witty regarding the topic it's satirizing. Still, as a comedy, it hits pretty much every note.


Timeless fairytale of a gorgeous, smart and sweet young woman who was adopted by her abusive stepmother and demanding stepsisters after her father died and is used as their slave. But when her dreams are finally shattered and all hope for happiness is lost, her Fairy Godmother appears and turns the remains of Cinderella's dress into a new ball gown with glass slippers—and when she is favored over other women at the ball, her stepmother sets out to hinder Cinderella's chances of marrying the prince. Bruno the dog, Lucifer the Cat and especially Gus the mouse certainly add an element to the already beloved story; and while the musical numbers are certainly not among the best to come out of the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the songs are nevertheless fitting for such a wonderful and flawless tale.