Thursday, June 30, 2016

Kids For Cash

Starring: Mark Ciavarella, Michael Conahan, & Robert May
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

It is one of the most disturbing stories of just how greedy and corrupt people can truly be. In 2000, Luzerne County Pennsylvania needed a new Juvenile detention facility, but couldn't afford it, so they privatized it. Leading the group that won the contract, were two of their own Juvenile court judges. That alone was a grey area, but not the issue. Soon, the judges learned that the more occupants the jail had, the more money the facility would receive from the state. So, despite the law, which requires juvenile offenders to be sentenced to the least restrictive environment possible, kids as young as thirteen, with no previous record, were being sent to JV for very minor offenses. As a result, the facility was receiving millions from the states, which the judges were embezzling. As the scandal unfolded, this documentary was filmed and shockingly, both judges agreed to be a part of it, claiming they were always tough on juvenile crime and had done nothing wrong. Judges never comment on cases and defendants are always advised not to talk to the media, but for some reason these judges did, and the way they justify their actions is truly sickening. There is even one scene where a mother confronts one of the judges outside of court house, holding a picture. She says to him, this is my son, he was fifteen when you put him in jail for drinking some beers and fighting with other teens. He served three years and within six months of being released he killed himself, and that's your fault. The judge could care less, it was truly amazing. The documentary is an eye opener and it follows the scandal through the family and offenders stories, through the investigation, right up through the trial and outcome, it really something to see. The whole thing really makes me wonder, if judges can be swayed that easily, just how corrupt is this country and how many truly innocent people are there sitting in jail or on a list somewhere, all because someone was paid to put them there?

End of Watch

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, & Natalie Martinez
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

By now, everyone knows that I hate these camcorder films, because they are lazy and don't really have much of a story to them, but there is an exception to that rule, and that is the TV show Cops. Police work comes with natural real life drama and action, in this instance the script really does write itself, so I was okay with it being used for a film like this. I just wish it had been done more naturally. I understand that the film takes place in a gang infested area of L.A. and that they needed to make it more dramatic and action packed for it to succeed in theaters, but you talk about going over the top. That's where Director, David Ayer comes in, after all gangs and going over the top are his specialty. End of Watch does have some great chase scenes and some really cool moments between partners, but for the most part it's just one non-stop explosion filled gun battle after another, making Los Angeles look like Fallujah. The point of view cameras do give us an interesting look at the action and some new perspective into how it's all made, which I thought was really cool, but I mean the lack of story line and constant shooting was beyond ridiculous. I'm some what surprised they'd didn't just go full on crazy and release the whole thing in 3-D.

Millennium (TV Show)

Starring: Lance Henriksen, Megan Gallagher, Terry O'Quinn, & Brittney Tiplady

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Following the initially success of the X-Files in 1996, creator Chris Carter introduced Millennium as his next big project, and after initial success, it looked like it could be the next big thing, but soon after it fell flat on it's face. 

Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) was the best homicide detective the Seattle P.D. had ever seen. He has this special ability to think like the killer, to get inside their head, and to see their actions. For this, his colleagues often thought of his as more of a suspect instead of an investigator, and it's hard to write on a police report about how he solved a crime by walking in the killers shoes, so he left the force and began working for the mysterious Millennium group. An agency that recruits people with abilities like his to track down and catch serial killers.

The premise behind this show is fantastic, and I loved the whole genre behind it. The show was very dark, set in the always grey and rainy Seattle Washington, it was methodical and creepy, but what I didn't like was the casting. Frank has this great ability, this beautiful young wife, a young daughter, is starting this new career, and he's played by a guy who is fifty-five years old! Lance Henriksen can't chase bad guys and protect his family anymore, he's not the action hero he once was, the lead character doesn't fit the role, and it was a glaring problem! 

Second, the show was left to fend for itself before it had any kind of following. Originally it was paired with the X-Files and did really well, but the rating for X-Files started dropping and Fox immediately put it back on Sunday nights, leaving Millennium all by itself after only ten episodes. The ratings starting to drop and before you know it, it's was on Friday nights and only on the air to keep Chris Carter happy. 

If this show was paired with X-Files and had it featured some young, hunky action star with eye appeal as well as these fantastic abilities, I think this show really could have been something, but having a guy who is nearly a senior citizen, running around with a hot wife and a little girl, trying to solve crimes like he's Mulder, just didn't work out. Chris Carter is a fantastic writer and very imaginative, but in this case he let the network destroy an idea with a lot of potential.


Starring: Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, & Kirsten Dunst
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Despite the fact that I am a huge Robin Williams fan, I had never seen Jumanji, it just never appealed to me, but even since Williams' untimely passing, I've been trying to view his entire filmography. I also wanted to catch the original film, before its reputation was irreparably damaged by next years re-make, featuring the Rock, Jack Black, and Kevin Hart. The film focuses on young Alan Parrish (Robin Williams), the son of a rich industrialist, who is always in the way. One day, he finds a weird board game, buried in a construction site, and decides to play with a friend, but this is no ordinary game, and Alan becomes trapped inside for decades. It isn't until two kids, moving into a new house discover the game and start to play it, that Alan is freed. Not wanting these kids, to face the same fate he did, they track down his old friend, and decide to finish the game and put the madness to an end. I think when Robin Williams played a child or a crazy person he was at his best. Those were the time when he could really just let go, be free, and be truly hilarious. As in most films like this, Williams is the film, the rest of the cast revolves around him, and without him, this is just another kids movie. Kids love these quirky, weird films, and parents hate being dragged to them, but Williams had a way of making both sides happy and making them both want to see it, that's what Jumanji was. For all intense and purposes this is a kids movie, with Williams acting like a big kid, but making adult jokes, innuendoes, and just being that guy who made him a legend.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


Starring: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, & Ben Foster
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I had to see the new film Warcraft, out of shear curiosity, I mean how could they possibly turn an MMORPG into a feature film? On one hand, the producers wanted to make an epic film like Lord of The Rings, so there are crazy sets, ridiculous customs, awesome special effects, and even a narrator, but they also wanted to make the WOW geeks happy too, so there are realms, clans, portals, kings, wizards, betrays, and if you've never played the game it's all very confusing and more than somewhat boring. The story is complicated, but to sum it up, an evil wizard has destroyed the Orcs home world, so he has opened a portal to the realm of the humans, where the Orcs think they'll have an easy time taking over, but didn't expect the humans to have a magic Guardian. It's a film of fighting, gibberish, and non-sense that I'm sure the gamers loved, but I didn't, I fell asleep. As for the cast, well, I guess the filmmakers spent all their money on the effects and costumes, cause there is really no one of name in this film, and some of these people honestly wouldn't have been cast in their high school plays. Some of the actors were so bad, I think they agreed to do this for free, just to have a major motion picture on their resume. The bottom line, I saw it for curiosity and I'm sure a lot of other people will too. The special effect were really cool and it looks terrific in 3-D, but the story is confusing, it's just one crazy fight after another and there really isn't much of a point to the whole thing. If you're going to see it, go see it in 3-D. It makes the effects look cooler and if you fall asleep, the people you are with won't notice and won't bother you.

X-Men: Apocalypse

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, & Jennifer Lawrence
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

What is everyone complaining about? I am by no means a superhero fan, in fact, aside from Batman and the X-Men, I really don't care, but as someone who has been into X-Men since he was a kid, and seen just about everything, the day it came out, I really can't understand all the bad reviews and the complaints about violence towards women! This film has been called the worst X-Men film ever, nothing is worse than Last Stand, and as far as violence towards woman goes, there has always been fight scenes and there have always been male and female characters involved, in fact, X-Men has always received high praise for included female characters as equals, since the very beginning, so what is it, they aren't allowed to lose a fight? As far as the film goes, the story was terrific, the action sequences and special effects just continue to get better, and the introduction of Cyclopes (Tye Sheridan) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-Mcfee) into the prequel cast just made everything that much better. Without giving anything away, I will say that my one knock on the film would be in the ending. There was so much build-up around the character of Apocalypse and so much talk about how powerful he was. Half the film follows him as he gains power and puts his plan together, but the final battle, that determines the outcome of the film, didn't take very long at all. There was all this hype and build up to this ultimate battle, that could determine the fate of the world, and when it happened, the fans were left scratching their heads by how quickly it ended. Hopefully it was all done with a purpose, and we'll find out why in whatever comes next, but as it stands now, the ending of the film was extremely anti-climatic, besides that, I loved it! Apocalypse might not have been as good as First Class or Days of Future Past, but it certainly wasn't a stinker on the level of Last Stand, the way that most critics portrayed it to be.

Stir of Echoes

Starring: Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Erbe, & Zachary Cope
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In recent years, supernatural horror has become about gore and jump scares, these movies aren't scary anymore! Paranormal Activity, The Grudge, The Ring, are you kidding me?! Those movies were terrible! They don't make movies like Stir of Echoes anymore, this is a supernatural thriller, that was truly unsettling and creepy, the kind of film that defines what supernatural horror should be. Tom & Maggie are celebrating moving into a new house, and as the party is winding down, Maggie's sister claims to know something about the supernatural. Tom (Kevin Bacon) is a complete skeptic, so she offers to hypnotize him and see what happens. Reluctantly Tom agrees and after seeing some strange flashes, Tom wakes up unsettled but still a non-believer. Over the next few weeks, Tom continues to see strange images of a girl asking for his help and believes his sister in-law messed with his mind somehow. Once convinced that she had nothing to do with it, Tom decides to investigate and try to find out, who this girl is and why she's asking for help. This movie is truly scary because depending on what you believe in, this could be 100% real. Kevin Bacon is one of those actors who when he is in the right role is better than anyone, and this role is perfect for him. Bacon had me on the edge of my seat and it seemed as thou this movie just flew by. I wanted to know who this girl was and what happened to her just as much as he did. As for the paranormal stuff, it wasn't bloody, gory, and out of nowhere but it was just as creepy. This is the kind of film that left you jittery and uneasy for hours afterwards, the definitive horror movie. Bad reviews had me skeptical, but I am a skeptic no longer, Stir of Echoes will most definitely be included in my next Halloween movie marathon!

Matt Shepard Is A Friend of Mine

Starring: Matthew Shepard & Michele Josue
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Matthew Shepard represents many things to many different people. For some he stands as a symbol of why people need to fight for equality, for others he opened their eyes to the horror and abuses that people go through every day simply for being different. What's easy to forget however, is that first and foremost, Matthew Shepard was a human being. Shepard was a friendly, kind, outgoing, young man from a small town and there in lied the problem. In a town of a few thousand, Shepard stood out and everyone knew who he was and what he was. One night, a couple of drunk rednecks decided to mess with him, it went too far, and they killed him. This film, isn't about that though, it isn't one of the many films about the symbol that Shepard became or the fight for equal rights his story ignited. This is a film, by a long time friend of Matt's, who simply wanted the world to know about her friend. Michele Josue interviews Matt's brokenhearted family and friends about his life, from childhood up until his untimely death, and weather your gay or not, weather you respect gay rights or not, you can't help but feel for these people who lost such a bright, loving, artistic person, who made everyone around him just that much better for knowing him. It's a terrific documentary and I was very happy that for once, a documentary focused on the life of the man instead of the tragic way that he was killed.

Owners Continued Health Issue & eBay Sale

I continue to apologize for the lack of activity lately, but I am continuing to suffer from an issue with my health. It's not serious, it's more frustrating and incapacitating than it is a serious condition, but a week on new medication and so far so good! No sleepy side effects and I'm catching up on things, which will include this blog!

The good news is being locked inside my house, I have been watching a ton of movies! Most of the time the movies come faster than I can watch them and I feel as thought I'm always playing catch up, but that hasn't been the case as of late. I've been catching up, going through stuff and discovering duplicates and stuff that's just not right for my personal collection, so what to do, I'm selling those to you! With a few exceptions of things that I've been trying to sell for a while, I'm selling most of these DVDs on eBay, auction style, starting at just $0.01 + Shipping. ALL proceeds go into paying for the blog! Please check out what we've got, maybe find something that interests you and help support us at the same time! Your help is always appreciated!