Sunday, August 31, 2014

End of The Summer Recommendations

Another Summer has passed and to be honest with you, it's one I'd like to forget. The world has lost Robin Williams, as well as my best friend, and it feels like nothing will ever be the same. As far as the blog is concerned, I've spent much of my summer in quiet solitude, relying heavily on my vast collection of media to keep my mind occupied. Twenty-One reviews this month is the most for a single month, in almost a year, and I've got a huge list of things I've watched, just waiting to be reviewed. As the worst Summer imaginable has come to an end, most of my regulars will know that September 1st means it's time for my end of Summer recommendations. I hope it helps you find something you'll love! Thank you for making this blog what it is and for my part, I will continue to inform you on what's worth watching and what you should skip!

2 Guns
Home Front
Thor: The Dark World
The Rock
Wolf Creek 2
The Place Beyond The Pines

Tv Shows:
Criminal Minds
24: Live Another Day

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (Book #2 of The Maze Runner)
The Death Cure by James Dashner (Book #3 of The Maze Runner)
Pines by Blake Couch (Picked up by FOX for 2015 mini-series)
The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Science Fiction by Various Authors

Isolate & Medicate by Seether
Fuck EP by Buckcherry
The Hunting Party by Linkin Park
Savages by Theory of A Deadman
Team EP by Local H
A Document of Dissent by Anti-Flag

Wicked Little Things

Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Scout Taylor-Compton, & Lori Heuring
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

There are thirty-two Horrorfest films, AKA 8 films To Die For. As someone who has seen roughly a dozen of them, I can tell you that they have all been really good or just awful. There is no in-between with this series, and unfortunately Wicked Little Things falls on the awful side. I had high hopes for this film, as it has a great back story and features Kick-Ass's Chole Moretz in her debut role, but the film moves far too slowly and plays too much like an R.L. Stein book. Following the death of her husband, a woman moves her two daughters to an old house in the middle of nowheresberg, Pennsylvania. The house they move into used to belong to an evil millionaire, who owned the local mine, and used child laborers, many of whom died in accidents. The souls of those kids aren't at rest and they don't like having a new family in their house, so they lure anyone within range, into dangerous situations. I was surprised that the acting in this film was actually pretty good and that some of the scenes in the woods are pretty edge of your seat, but the problem here is that nothing really happens. If it wasn't for the older daughters over use of the F bomb, this film really could have been rated PG. I love the back story and the acting wasn't nearly as bad as I expected, but do you really want to watch a "Horror" movie that moves at a snails pace and really doesn't show much? I don't!

Tormented (2009)

Starring: Alex Pettyfer, April Pearson, Dimitri Leonidas, & Calvin Dean
Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5 stars

After watching this film, I'm still not sure if the title, Tormented, refers to the students of the featured High School, or the audience that had to sit through this film. Tormented is one of these films that has a deeper meaning, but it takes it's message to such extremes, that it becomes completely obsolete. Tormented is actually an anti-bullying film, that features an obese teenager, that has committed suicide after years of abuse. Instead of focusing on the ones left behind, the story instead focuses on the popular kids, who continue to "torment" the kid after he's gone, that is until his ghost shows up looking for revenge. The story isn't the worst idea I've ever heard of, but the film was so fake and over the top that it just ruined all it's credibility. Tormented features a fully functional ghost, with emotions, who gruesomely kills people. The special effects that show him as a ghost and the ridiculous amounts of kool-aid blood, were just some of the worst I've ever seen. Magic Mike's Alex Pettyfer stars as the bully and much like the rest of the cast, is far too old to be playing a high school student. Films like this are low budget, and I understand they need a person of name in order to be recognized, but I've always felt that they should cast real teenagers, and give them a chance at breaking into the business, rather than have the roles played by actors that are pushing thirty! Tormented is exactly how you'll feel as this film plays to the lowest common denominator, assuming that only ignorant people are going to watch it. They'll do things like call the victim, Shrek and show goth kids who think it's cool that he killed himself. Tormented is not funny, scary, or anything but a complete waste of time.

Babysitter Wanted

Starring: Sarah Thompson, Matt Dallas, & Kai Caster
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

People often ask how I find and pick the really independent films I sometimes review. In the case of Babysitter Wanted, it was an easy choice, as nothing is scarier to me that an evil child. Strangely enough the film also features several cast members from a TV show I really liked, Kyle XY. The story begins with the deeply religious, Angie (Sarah Thompson), going away to college. Looking for some extra money, she picks up a job babysitting for a family living in the middle of nowhere. Everything seems normal at first, until one night someone tries to break in, and to everyone's surprise, the beautiful young girl is not the target of his rage. This film was very unusual for a religious based horror film, as it wasn't over the top with religious jargon. It was a major theme of the film, but they don't beat you over the head with it the way other films do. It's also unlike your usual slasher films as it has a good cast, a decent and somewhat unique story, and most important of all, it doesn't move at lightning speed. Almost every slasher film I've ever seen has 15 minutes of story and then it's one big chase, but that doesn't happen here. They spend a lot of time on the story and when things do happen, they are pretty surprising. Sarah Thompson stars as the babysitter, while being your typical beautiful horror movie girl, she was also very credible and connected with the audience. Watching this film, you feel like you know her or someone like her, and you'll be cheering for her in a way you really don't do in films like this. She's paired with Kyle XY himself, Matt Dallas, another really good looking, likeable person, that audiences will also relate to. Once you see the whole picture, it's going to seem a bit odd to you, but the Directors and Casting people really hit the nail on the head, making this seem like anything but a slasher film until the time was just right, making for a really enjoyable and unique type of film.

This Is The End

Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, & Jay Baruchel
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest ones, that come to you while having a drink with friends at a bar. Unlike this groups other films, the story and plot aren't the focus here. This Is The End features a ton of Hollywood's top comedic stars, playing extremely stereotypical version of themselves. Their characters are based on rumors, gossip, and over exaggerations of their true persona's, resulting in a hilarious film, that not only delighted their fans, but also gave a huge middle finger to the paparazzi. The film starts with Jay Baruchel visiting Seth Rogen in L.A. Baruchel, a notorious introvert, wants to stay in, but Rogen wants to go to James Franco's housewarming party. Reluctantly the pair agree to go to the big time Hollywood shindig, when the fun is interrupted by the apocolypse, and I don't mean a zombie one, the actual end of the world. The pampered actors find themselves in a fight for survival in the home of James Franco. The whole cast was hilarious and while watching it you realize that the characters they develop really aren't that dissimilar from who they really are. Jay Baruchel surprised me, as I knew very little about him, besides his awkward performance in She's Out of League. I haven't really seen him as more than a ancillary character, and it was really fun to see him fit in with the gang. Rogen, Hill, Franco, and Robinson don't disappoint, giving you exactly what you'd expect from them, and unfortunately so does Danny McBride. I really don't get the appeal of this guy! He is way over the top, super annoying, and just a big dumb redneck, that just doesn't seem to fit in with the likes of these comedic geniuses. If I had the choice I'd much rather have had Michael Cera or Paul Rudd trapped with them instead of McBride, who didn't get more than an annoyed grunt out of me. This Is The End is a very funny film, wrapped in an awful story, but it gives great insight into the personalities of some of our favorite actors and that really is the whole point of this film. It's just one of those things that either you'll get it and love it, or you won't.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, & John Goodman
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Argo is the Academy Award Winner for Best Picture of 2012, and while it was an amazing film, the actual story was far less interesting. In 1980, the tensions between Iran and The United States began, and the U.S. embassy in Tehran was overrun. Hundreds were held hostage for over a year, but six did manage to escape and went into hiding. Knowing that their lives were even more in danger than those of the hostages, the C.I.A. developed a unique plan to get them out of Iran. They sent in one of their top agents, with credentials claiming that he was part of a Canadian film crew. Armed with fake documents, he would smuggled the six out of the country. The film was intense and featured one close call after another, but in reality, getting them out was almost too easy. They were never stopped or questioned, and slipped out under the cover of early morning, without a hitch, but what kind of a movie would that be? Once these classified files were released by the U.S. Government, Hollywood saw the chance to tell this story in an extreme manor, and did so much to the delight of audiences and much to the chagrin of the other countries involved. Ben Affleck both stars and directs this film, and while everyone raves about his performance, I thought it was typically cold and flat. Ben Affleck wasn't interesting, the character he played was. Affleck wasn't any more likeable or skillful here than he was in any other role and that's why he didn't win best actor. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the man is a fantastic Director, but a very mediocre actor. That being said, the extreme locations and huge cast, were his biggest challenge to date as a Director, and I was very impressed by the way he managed to pull it off. Argo is based on a true story, it's fast paced, and even though we all know what happened before seeing the film, it's still an edge of your seat thriller that really shouldn't be missed.

Patch Adams

Starring: Robin Williams, Monica Potter, & Philip Seymour Hoffman
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In arguably one of his best roles, the late Robin Williams portrays Patch Adams, a man who decided to make his life about helping others. Adams believes that patients need to be treated not just for their physical ailments, but also for their emotional well being. He also believes that like freedom of speech, healthcare is an inalienable human right that should be provided to everyone. This is a film that was written specifically for and with the help of Robin Williams. While Adams himself admitted that much of it was inaccurate, the film fulfills it's message, by using an extreme mix of emotion and humor. While watching this film you'll go between tears of laughter and tears of sadness, in a film that will really hit home with a lot of people. This is what Robin Williams was known for, he told his stories and got his messages out, while at the same time entertaining and inspiring people to be the best that they could be. If any other actor had played Patch, it probably would have been a slow moving drama, that just made everyone sad, but Williams made the story one that made you think and it sticks with you. As it recent weeks it has come to light that Williams himself was sick, and this may be the reason he took his own life, I can't help but wonder if on that night, had he watched this film, would the outcome have been different?

Jesse Stone: Sea Change

Starring: Tom Selleck, Kathy Baker, Kohl Sudduth, & Rebecca Pidgeon 
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

What I love about the Jesse Stone novels is that you never know what you're going to get. Of course you know the characters, but some are intense and emotional, while others focus more on the mystery and small town politics. Sea Change was an interesting choice for the fourth film, as it shows a different side of Jesse and was somewhat unique among the other stories. Jesse Stone (Tom Selleck), was an L.A. Homicide Detective, who left to become a small town police chief in Massachusetts, after his life was thrown into chaos. Now that he's been there a while, he's come to realize that not a lot of things happen in a small town, and he's tired of writing parking tickets. Craving something to do, Stone decides to open the towns only unsolved murder. A body found in the woods, 20 years earlier. As he opens the investigation, it brings up the past, a past that the town of Paradise would like to forget. Sea Change plays more like a Cold Case or Criminal Minds episode than a typical Jesse Stone story, but what's unique about it, is that it really gives us a look inside Jesse's life. Tom Selleck was terrific as always, but he gives a particularly special performance in Sea Change. We finally see the man for what he is, driven by justice and living for the people. His job is his life and when there is nothing to do, he falls back into and becomes stuck in his past. Sea Change is also special as it was the novel that introduces us to the character of Rose Gammon, played by Kathy Baker. I haven't seen her in anything since Picket Fences and God did I love that show! It was really thrilling for me to see her again, and playing a character I really came to admire in the novels. Sea Change might not have the action that younger viewers crave in their police dramas, but it is a textbook example of how to solve a case and a unique look into the mind of one of the deepest characters I know. I loved the books and rarely do these types of stories translate well to film, but with a star like Tom Selleck you can't go wrong and I really did enjoy this film as much as I did the novel.

Oldboy (2013)

Starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, & Samuel L. Jackson
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Ever since the success of the Grudge, 10 years ago, American filmmakers have been looking to popular overseas films for original ideas, many times simply remaking them. To many, this seems like a desperation move for original material, but I see it more as a cultural thing. Movies often reflect the society of the country they were made in, and by remaking them in the United States, the story introduces movie lovers to something unique, from a different culture. I personally find this very desirable and have appreciated many of these remakes, even when I didn't love the story. In his latest venture, Spike Lee takes on the Korean classic, Oldboy. This is a film that was remade simply because of how bizarre and shocking the story is. The year is 1993, and Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) isn't a great guy. For some reason, he's drugged and then locked away in a pretty decent looking room without doors or windows, and held there for exactly 20 years. Then, just as suddenly as he was imprisoned, he was released, and goes on a search for answers, in this seemingly new world. Josh Brolin stars and is usually pretty good as an ancillary character, but as the star of a thriller, I was skeptical. As always, he could have shown some more emotion, but he was much better than I thought he'd be. Spike Lee gives him as much help as he can, by giving him a huge cast of supporting actors, all of whom had name recognition. In particular, Samuel L. Jackson playing a psychopath, was very funny, and definitely injected some much needed humor. Oldboy is one of those films where it all comes down to the ending. If you're unfamiliar with the story, I won't say anything other than to tell you, that it is bizarre and twisted, with an ending the likes of which you couldn't possibly have imagined. Even if you start to watch this film and don't really like it, stick with it, because the ending really is that good.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Puerto Vallarta Squeeze

Starring: Scott Glenn, Vikki Carr, Harvey Keitel, & Jonathan Brandis
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Based on the novel by the name, the thriller Puerto Vallarta Squeeze, was a story that never should have happened. No matter how good a film may be, I can not get into it when there is a huge and obvious plot hole. The film wasn't terrible, but it could have been so much better if they had just eliminated the obvious! Scott Glenn stars as a CIA hitman, who after executing his target, kills a potential witness, someone he shouldn't have killed. Following orders, his team leaves him stranded in the small Mexican city of Puerto Vallarta. The hitman needs to get back to the states and decides to pays a couple to take him on a ride to the boarder, never informing them that the Mexican authorities, as well as the CIA, are chasing him. What doesn't make sense to me, is if this guy is such a big time hitman, and he's on the run, why not just steal the car? It really wasn't necessary to drag this couple into it, when all they did was slow him down. This could have been a terrific action thriller, instead it was full of this non-sense, involving this random couple. Scott Glenn stars, and he's one of these guys whose name you don't recognized, but who has had minor roles in huge films for decades. Even I didn't realize until I looked him, but Glenn was in The Silence of The Lambs and The Hunt For Red October. He was very good, but the problem was that it wasn't believable. He wasn't injured, he didn't know these people, and there was no reason for him to take them along. They hindered his getaway and just destroyed the story. Also worth noting is that this was the last film to feature teen heartthrob, Jonathan Brandis, who killed himself in 2003. I've always liked Brandis, as he had a major role in one of my favorite TV shows, Seaquest DSV. He didn't get much work as an adult, which is considered to be one of the major reasons behind his suicide, but it was interesting to see one of his few adult roles. He didn't play a very interesting character, but only ever knowing him as a teen, I really wanted to see what he had become before the tragedy. Puerto Villarta Squeeze had a great back story, but it wasn't the focus of the film. The hitman's interaction with this bizarre couple was, and it just ruined the whole thing.


Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Eric Roberts, & Anthony LaPaglia
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

For nearly six decades, Meyer Lansky was the brains behind the mafia, and is credited for their rise to power in Las Vegas. While being one of the more interesting criminals to ever live, his role was mainly behind the scenes and the film about his life turned out to be much less interesting than the man himself. Meyer Lansky (Richard Dreyfuss) was a Europen Jew, who fled to America in the early 20th century. Living on the streets of New York, he quickly fell in with the wrong people and started laundering money and bootlegging alcohol for some of New York's biggest gangsters. Lansky along with Lucky Luciano and Bugsy Siegel, formed one of the most profitable organizations in the history of the Mob, and are credited as the first group to officially be refereed to as organized crime. I've always loved mafia movies and did genuinely want to learn more about Meyer Lansky, but the truth is, what he did really wasn't that interesting. He wasn't a boss, he wasn't a hitman, he was basically an accountant, trying to make money for all kinds of nasty people. The film was basically a behind the scenes look at the mob and I found it to be very long and boring. Reclusive veteran, Richard Dreyfuss, takes on the role of Lansky and fits the character like a glove. Dreyfuss even mirrored Lansky's mannerisms and was really very good. From an artistic stand point, Lansky was worth watching, as Dreyfuss wasn't the only one to turn in a powerhouse performance. I went into this film looking for an intense, fast-paced thriller, but what I got was more like some documentary on the mob, that put me to sleep. Everything was as it should be for an epic drama, but the truth is, the man they chose to feature, just wasn't the type of guy that needed to have a film made about his life.

Cleaner (2007)

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, & Eva Mendes
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Cleaner was a great film that would have gotten a much higher rating, if not for predictability. There are certain actors, when you see their names in the credits, you know, even before the film starts, that they are the bad guy, and that's exactly what happened here. Samuel L. Jackson stars as a former police officer, who was part of a dirty department. He knew that it would only be a matter of time before he was caught up in the corruption, so he decides to get out. Jackson decides to take on the unique, but very real profession of being a crime scene cleaner. One day, he's given a key and a job to do in an upscale neighborhood. Nothing is out of the ordinary, until the next day when he goes to get paid and discovers that the woman there has no idea what he's talking about. Now Jackson must discover who used him to cover up their crime, who was the victim, and why were they murdered? While I prefer Samuel L. Jackson in a more comedic role, he's just as good in a dramatic one. His strength has always been the ability to carry a film, no matter if it's dramatic or ridiculous. Despite being direct-to-video, Cleaner has a large supporting cast of stars that really help the film. A lot of these films tend to have newcomers backing the veteran star, and their weak performances bring down the quality of even the best written films. Here, Jackson is supported by the likes of Eva Mendes, Luis Guzman, and Ed Harris, all of whom are very believable, and all of whom help move the story along. Cleaner is intense, unique, and interesting, if you haven't seen a lot of film, you may not realize who the bad guy is, five minutes into the film, and you may be really surprised. As for me, it was like watching a movie that some amateur Netflix reviewer already ruined for me, and the suburb ending was lost.

Redemption (2013)

Starring: Jason Statham, Agata Buzek, & Vicky McClure
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

In one of his more recent films, Jason Statham tries out a more dramatic role. While his performance was terrific, this slow moving film leaves a lot to be desired. Joey (Jason Statham) is a war veteran who has returned to a London that is no longer his home. Falling on hard times, Joey is one of a group of homeless drug addicts, that are being terrorized by a group of thugs. While fleeing from another beating, Joey finds a seemingly abandoned, upscale apartment, and sees it as a chance to get back on his feet. The story was interesting, but it moves at a snails pace and is somewhat unbelievable. Statham pretends to be friends with the man who owns the apartment and the neighbors never question it. The film is further harmed by Joey's love interest, who just happens to be a nun. It was a very strange dynamic. Jason Statham was terrific, as a guy who was leading two lives. At one point he's this addict, trying to protect his girlfriend and at another, he's a mob enforcer, doing what he must to find and save her. The character of the nun, while performed admirably by newcomer Agata Buzek, really complicates the story. It was a semi-interesting twist, but it really takes the movie off course for extended periods of time, slowing the film to a halt. I'm a big Jason Statham fan and will watch anything he does, but if I were making recommendations on which of his film to watch, Redemption sadly wouldn't make the cut.

Monday, August 11, 2014

R.I.P. Robin Williams

Movie Recommendations: 
Mrs. Doubtfire
Patch Adams
Dead Poet Society
Good Will Hunting
House of D
August Rush
Good Morning Vietnam

Sunday, August 10, 2014

24: Live Another Day

Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Yvonne Strahovski, Tate Donovan, Mary Lynn Rajskub, William Devane, Kim Raver, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Michael Wincott, & Benjamin Bratt

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

3 years after the event in New York, Jack Bauer has come out of hiding in London, when he learns of a plot to kill the United States President. Live Another Day appears to be a one shot deal, but as we've seen, the shows popularity means there is always a chance it will pop up again. While Fox has said nothing about the future of the show, Live Another Day did average over 10 million viewers an episode. As I do, I'm sure those fans are hoping that number leads to either the series coming back, a feature film, or simply more mini-series. 

It's hard to imagine 24 taking place in another country and in just 12 episodes, but it didn't matter one bit, because of Kiefer Sutherland. The often criticized actor has found the Midis touch when it comes to Jack Bauer. I mean seriously, have you ever heard of a show that can completely change cast and location every season and still manage to survive? The cast, the location, even the date doesn't matter, because it has been and always will be about Jack Bauer. 

In a strange twist, as kind of a thank you to the fans, many characters from previous seasons have returned for the mini-series, and it only made it that much more enjoyable. Live Another Day features the same Jack, who really hasn't lost a step. It also comes with everything you came to expect from 9 seasons of the hit show. Live Another Day may only have been half as long as the other seasons, but it rivals every single one of them. If you're a fan or even a casual viewer of the show, give yourself a treat and sit down for 12 new episodes of this timeless television classic!

Curse of Chucky

Starring: Brad Dourif, Danielle Bisutti, & Fiona Dourif
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

After 9 years, Chucky has finally returned in his sixth film. After the disaster that was 2004's Seed of Chucky, many fans of the franchise felt that they were owed another film, and they finally got one. The timeline of this film is a bit confusing though, as the characters refer to the events of the past films taking place 25 years ago, even though this film appears to take place before 1998's Bride of Chucky. Nica's family lives a quiet life on the outskirts of town. Her mother is obsessed with the home shopping network, so it's no surprise when a mysterious package shows up at their door. Inside that package, you guessed it, your friend til the end. Curse of Chucky plays more like the old school Child's Play films, rathen than the more recent comedic ones, whoever it does have it's funny moments. It's also unique in some ways, as for the first time the film features flashbacks, and real life appearances by the famed voice of Chucky, Brad Dourif. The story here was more of a tie in to older films that a stand alone sequel, but it gives fans a little bit of everything they've come to expect from Chucky. It may not be one of the best the series has to offer, but it's certainly better than the previous one, and it introduces a new generation to the simplistic genius that is Chucky.

Killer Holiday

Starring: Michael Copon, Rachel Lara, & Julia Beth Stern
Rating: 1/2 out of 5 stars

Often times, when a generic horror film is as lazy and predictable as Killer Holiday, the producers try to spice things up by adding something that will trick viewers into seeing it. Sometimes it's a unique location, other times they will make the film more comedic, and the most common trick of all is to have an attractive cast, that is wearing very little. Killer Holiday tries all three, which should tell you something about the story! A group of college kids rent an RV for a summer trip and decide that the highway is too boring, so they take the back roads. On the way they find an old abandoned amusement park, whose fun house is home to a serial killer. A killer with the last name Holiday, who introduces himself to his victims, yes it really is THAT bad. From there the film is one big chase to get away from the mad men. Rational people would have just gotten in the RV and left, but drunk college kids apparently aren't that bright. The cast is all no names and it really shows as some of them seemed like they were literally reading from the script. Horror movies are by nature somewhat predictable, but when you throw in some really bad, albeit good looking actors, and a bizarre story that goes around in circles, you have the recipe for something that is basically unwatchable.

Jesse Stone: Night Passage

Starring: Tom Selleck, Stephanie March, & Stephen Baldwin
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

For those unfamiliar, Jesse Stone is the legendary, fictional, Police Chief in the small town of Paradise, Massachusetts, created by Robert B. Parker. The Jesse Stone franchise has spawned over a dozen novels and eight feature films. While being the first book in the series, strangely enough, Night Passage was the second movie shot, and the third one released. It seems odd, but Night Passage is more of an introduction to the character and the town. If this were a TV series, it would have been the pilot, but when you're trying to start a film franchise, you want to start it off with a film that hits harder and is more memorable, the way Stone Cold was. As for Night Passage, it introduces audiences to Jesse Stone, as he leaves L.A. a disgraced homicide detective, with an alcohol problem, coming on the heals of a divorce. Stone drives across the country in hopes of taking over the seemingly easy job of being a Chief in a small town, but he quickly learns that Paradise is not your ordinary small town. Tom Selleck stars and was the obvious choice to play Stone, because the man has been playing a cop for almost forty years! Unlike many of those other Policemen, Stone is more withdrawn and uses his experience to take care of business, so he can go home to his dog and his alcohol. Each story centers around a crime, but also has a secondary story, Night Passage is no different as Stone must deal with a homicide, and a domestic situation that has torn a family apart. Similar to the other films, they get big names to co-star and in Night Passage we get Academy Award Winner, Viola Davis, and Stephen Baldwin. These guess stars, along with deep characters, and complex stories are the difference between the Stone films and a TV series. While Jesse Stone would transfer into a tremendous TV series, you wouldn't get the same feel that you do from the films. The world of Jesse Stone is a cold, dark one. He must do his job while battle his own demons at the same time. With a perfect leading man, coming from some very well written novels, the Jesse Stone films have been a treat, and Night Passage is where it all started. I'd highly recommend getting into the series, but watch the films in order of the novels, not in the order the films were released.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Hit & Run (2012)

Starring: Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, & Bradley Cooper
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Hit & Run is a wild ride that never should have worked, but surprisingly it does. The story doesn't appear to be deep or complicated, and just when you think they've come to the end, a whole other angle begins. The film is further helped by a large cast and a whole bunch of interesting cameos, that help take it to another level. Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard) is happy living in a small town with his girlfriend, Annie (Kristen Bell), but things are about to change. When Annie gets offered a job in L.A., Bronson must decide whether or not to go with her, which also means leaving the safety of the witness protection program. When a jealous ex learns of the plan, he finds out who Charlie really is, and thanks to Facebook, connects with the men he's hiding from, making the trip to L.A. a dash for safety, across California. Dax Shepard is not an actor I find to be very funny, but this was the first time I've seen him play a character as deep as Charlie Bronson, and he was terrific. He is being perused by Bradley Cooper of all people, who I did not see as someone who could play the bad guy. His good looks and charming personality, don't exactly lead one to believe he'd be believable as a bad guy, and while he wasn't the toughest bad guy I've ever seen, he does more than an adequate job. Hit & Run isn't an award winning film, it may not even be all that memorable, but it is extremely entertaining and an edge of your seat thriller ride. The perfect film for those who want to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

A Mile In His Shoes

Starring: Luke Schroder, Dean Cain, & Jesse Hutch
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Based on the novel, The Legend of Micky Tussler by Frank Nappi, comes the Canadian film, A Mile In His Shoes. While the basic story remains the same, the film was significantly different than the novel. The new story transfers much better to film, but takes far too much away from the original novel. Micky Tussler (Luke Schroeder) is a mid-western farm boy, who suffers from Aspergers Syndrome. One day fortune finds him, as the manager of an independent baseball team's car breaks down in front of his farm. While waiting for a tow truck, Arthur Murphy (Dean Cain) observes Tussler throwing apples to his pigs, and realizes that the kid has a lot of potential. The story originally took place in the 1940's and it was much easier to understand the hardship and discrimination Tussler faced. When the film changes the story to modern day, there isn't much of a stigma associated with Aspergers and that whole angle seemingly disappears from the story. The film being made for TV is also problematic, as rather than being a story of a kid who had to overcome overwhelming odds, it plays more like a Disney movie, about some loveable idiot and the coach who takes him under his wing. The whole message of the original story is basically gutted for TV and as someone who really enjoyed the novel, I resent that. Luke Schroder, son of Rick Schroder, stars as Micky and was really the only bright spot in this film. This was his film debut and he played it as though he'd been acting for years. Growing up around the business must have made it very easy for him to slip into the profession, and his performance was very admirable. As for the rest of the cast, they are just along for the ride and as I said, for me, the film takes too much away from the original story and plays like a dreaded Disney movie, in one of those rare instances where I wish I'd just stuck with the novel. 


Starring: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, & Antonio Banderas
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Philadelphia will always hold a place in cinematic history, as it is the first major film to really address the discrimination against Aids and Homosexuality. It also was the beginning of Tom Hanks amazing run of Academy nominated film, that may never be duplicated. The message of the film comes across loud and clear, but not quite in the way that the film's producers intended. Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) was a top attorney with one of Philadelphia's top law firms, when all of a sudden he's fired. Beckett believes he was set up and fired because he has Aids, but can he prove it in court? As the film goes, it is easy to see the discrimination and stereotypes that Beckett has to face on a daily basis, and weather or not you accept homosexuality, it's powerful ending will make you feel for the plight of any homosexual who suffers from this horrible disease. The majority of this film takes place in the courtroom and centers around Beckett's case against his former employer, and as someone who has studied the law, I can tell you that the case destroyed the merits of this film. There are things that both sides do, that would never be allowed in a court of law, and in my opinion neither side really makes it's case. As far as the legal aspect of this trial goes, it is very subjective and would never lead to the verdict that was handed down. As for the stars of this film, they are the ones that make it as powerful as it was. Hanks gives a performance that was absolutely worthy of the best actor award, as following him and his story is really what gave the film it's reputation. Quite ingeniously, Hanks is paired with Denzel Washington, who plays his attorney. Washington's character is meant to represent how much of the audience felt at that time, as even while representing Beckett, he speaks out about Aids and Homosexuality. The more he works to represent Beckett, the more you can see his attitude change, the same way the audiences attitudes change as the film moves alone. I loved Philadelphia for it's performances and it's message, but as far as the story goes, the trial is the majority of the film, and the trial is completely unbelievable. In my opinion the trial takes away much of the film credibility. The issue and the case should have been more clear cut and the legality of it all should have been easier for the audience to understand. That being said, if you choose to watch this film, you will be hard pressed to find better performances by a better cast, but the story will leave you feeling somewhat incomplete.


Starring: Jacob Sewell, Nick Sutton, & Chloe Sevigny
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

I have seen some strange things, but Gummo really takes the cake. This is a film that has no plot, simply following the lives of redneck children, as they kill cats to sell to the butcher, use duct tape to make their nipples bigger, and play the accordion while on the toilet. Somehow this film has gained a cult following and there are some people out there who will tell you they love this film. I can see how some of the scenes could be funny, but as a film, Gummo is nothing but one big stereotype, that doesn't follow any kind of storyline at all. Even more bizarre than the film, is the cast of kids, who seemingly came from nowhere. Jacob Sewell plays the bunny boy and literally walks around the entire time with nothing on but a pair of shorts and a pair of pink bunny ears, hardly saying a word. The other main actor is Nick Sutton, who has got to be the strangest looking person I've ever seen. He at least has some lines, but I really could have done without seeing the 13 year old actor getting a bath from his mother, while scarfing down food in the bathtub. Honestly, I don't know how a studio even agrees to make something like this. To me, Gummo has no artistic value whatsoever, and I suspect one would have to be on drugs to fully comprehend everything that is going on. Some weirdness comes off well for it's artistic value, but even those films have some kind of a plot that you can follow, Gummo has none of that and really offers very little that anyone can follow or even relate to.