Currently Watching : POWER Season One on HULU!

POWER The acclaimed Curtis ’50 CENT’ Jackson produced STARZ series finally makes itself available on HULU, and man was it well worth the wait. Showrunner/Creator Courtney Kemp Agboh’s POWER is the very definition of binge worthy television.

From opening credits to final fade to black, the show is FANTASTIC!! Omari Hardwick helms a powerhouse cast, in an exquistely photographed, compulsively paced stunner of a show.

Currently Watching : Richard Linklater’s BEFORE SUNRISE

‘The Answer must be in the attempt.’

I had no desire to see this film, but finally watched, it is quite a lovely film. Covering one day, one chance encounter between two people. There is something very relateable and universal about meeting someone in passing, and bridging that gap between is there or isn’t there something there.

It’s a wonderful film about those fleeting glances we have all had, followed and acted upon, and leading to something by chance begun. Here that unlikely and awkward and magical and inept circumstance of burgeoning love is told against the backdrop of one of the most beautiful of cities, Vienna, immortalized by Carol Reed’s and Orson Welles’ THIRD MAN.

It’s a wonderful way to pass an hour and a half. Watching a film about the moments that live… because of the attempt.

 

“I believe if there’s any kind of God it wouldn’t be in any of us, not you or me but just this little space in between. If there’s any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. I know, it’s almost impossible to succeed but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt.” — Celine in BEFORE SUNRISE

 

The 20 Best HORROR Movies on Amazon Prime for May 2017!

Before May rolls out and June rolls in, make sure to catch (if you haven’t already)these 20 great Amazon Prime HORROR flicks.

These movies are not available on Netflix.  And they all come with trailers, again unlike Netflix, so Amazon makes it easy to ‘try before you buy’ so to speak. A trailer is an easy indicator if you really want to spend any more time watching the full movie.

The following movies are worth the time:

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First Great Theatrical Experience of 2017 — KONG : SKULL ISLAND in 3D!

It takes a lot to get me out to the theater these days. 2016 was one of my most anemic theater going years. Having only seen a couple movies in the theater (among them the excellent CAPTAIN AMERICA CIVIL WAR).

The slow movie going year could be linked to several reasons, some personal and singular, and some endemic of larger more encompassing perspectives.

The rise of Netflix and Streaming options has brought cinema quality programming to your living room or bedroom, around your schedule. So no trying to make your schedule fit around a movie showing, and all the baggage of parking, and seats, and annoying crowds, and of course the expense.

So for those reasons and others the theater wasn’t top on my list in 2016.

2017 and I’m incentivized to see quite a few movies in the theater. One reason is the reopening of one of my favorite regional movie theaters, as an upscale adults only dinner and a movie venue.

Perfect for couples or close friends, I decided to check out a matinee showing of KONG : SKULL ISLAND over other available options at this theater (such as LOGAN and JOHN WICK II and GET OUT, all of which I intend to see) for the main reason I wanted to test out the spectacle and 3D quality of this new theater, and what better way than a loud, explosive, monster movie.

So I reserved my seats, picking the perfect seats of course, and quite impressed with their meal and drink menu. Forget the overpriced artery clogging Popcorn and Hotdogs and Candy that comprises the fare of your typical theater, this theater offered a full and quite impressive meal and drink menu, brought to your spacious clean, well kept seats, no less. We had the crabcakes, bistro burger, korean wings, with a Berry Blast drink for me and a Mocha Latte for her. And did I mention the excellent attentive service.

So we are planted in front our huge curved screen, it’s a matinee showing so not only do we have our whole row free, we have our whole section free, with probably a total of less than 20 people in the large yet intimate theater. Meaning the theater and screen is large, but the number of seats are few.

So that’s the setup. What about the movie?

The best part of the Peter Jackson 2005 KING KONG movie, was the one hour period on the island (once we get past Peter Jackson’s annoying portrayal of Native Life as monstrous, evil and subhuman), that one hour was fantastic sequences of monster and Kong Mayhem, and should have been the whole movie.

Once that movie leaves the island it loses all interest and excitement, crawling toward a tepid ending.

KONG:SKULL ISLAND, 12 years after Peter Jackson’s mistake, learns admirably from the flaws of his film, crafting an entire movie on Kong’s home, the Island of Monsters, Skull Island, and it is absolutely kick-ass!

The idea to set it in 1973, at a pivotal time for America and the World, I thought was a stroke of genius and gives real motivation to Samuel L. Jackson’s Ahab inclined character, who see’s in the monster of Kong, this fight, a chance to win the war that he was denied, to change shame into glory. I like the opening, the setup to the actual Mayhem that is Kong, quite a bit, which says a lot about the quality of the filmmaker and the film.

Usually the least interesting part of any monster movie, is the prelude to the appearance of the Monster, when you have to endure boring cardboard characters killing time. That was the issue with the GODZILLA movie by the producers of this film, it was mostly setup and concentration on the human drama, but the humans and the human drama in that movie was as of much interest as watching paint dry.

Here, the setup and the characters feel fleshed out and earned, and part of that is grounding these soldiers in 1973. Survivors, but somehow not victors. Going from one barely war abroad, to a frightening barely understood war at home awaiting them, Skull Island, is very much a reprieve to Jackson’s Colonel. And the men under him, caught in the machinations of dreams of Glory, well they are understood to.

And all the characters are quickly enlisted for this obscure mission, all powerful, compelling actors, not a Jack Black insight. But actors all who can compel and own their time onscreen… their closeups. So I’m thoroughly entertained and into the movie, before Kong goes Ape, so to speak. And when he does go Ape… it is… EPIC!!!

This is why Theaters have value in an age of Netflix and Home Theaters, because a home theater is no match for a commercial theater when you have no annoying audience to deal with, this was the fury of Kong unleashed… this was spectacle, this was Blockbuster, and this was worth every penny paid!

Should you see it in 3D? I typically find 3D is a wasted expense in most situations. I think it is expertly done here, and is really the type of movie that cries out for really good 3D. KONG is really good use of 3D, and I think like AVATAR is a must see in 3D!

KONG is only the second feature film of Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, nothing in his filmography would indicate he could handle a big budget blockbuster of a monster movie, but much like the Russo Brothers of CAPTAIN AMERICA fame (who also came out of feature film obscurity) Roberts rises to the occasion, shattering expectations.

I loved this movie from beginning to end. It blows away recent failures such as GODZILLA and the aforementioned KING KONG, and bodes well for future films. Stay past the trailer for a nice Marvel style Easter Egg.

Grade: A solid and easy B+!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Recent Streaming Movie Watch Disappointments and Winners!

LOSERS

Movies that initially grabbed me because of the poster or reviews, but turned out to be disappointments:

  • DEEP IN THE DARKNESS- Loved the poster, but unfortunately from an initial good build up, just came to an underwhelming end.[NETFLIX] https://i1.wp.com/pics.filmaffinity.com/deep_in_the_darkness-300967339-large.jpg
  • AS ABOVE SO BELOW – Another film that started with an interesting premise, but simply squandered it, in a derivative and uninteresting film.Extra Large Movie Poster Image for As Above, So Below (#1 of 2)
  • DARK FLOORS – It fails the stupid test, ie ‘Would a rational person do this, given this’. More often than not, most Horror movies, fail the Stupid test. And once you fail that Stupid test a few times, I lose any interest in caring about the protagonist or wanting to finish the movie. 40+ minutes in, leaving your kid, with someone who has already made a threat against your kid, in a survival situation. Who the eff would do that? No one! I’m out![AMAZON/HBO] https://i2.wp.com/img.moviepostershop.com/dark-floors-movie-poster-2008-1020440808.jpg
  • THE FOREST – This tale of a missing twin… YAWN. Bored to death in 15 minutes. [AMAZON/HBO]Extra Large Movie Poster Image for The Forest (#3 of 7)

WINNERS

These films rocked!

  • LIGHTS OUT aka DANS LE NOIR/IN THE DARK – Loved the short film, and the director managed to knock it out of the park for the feature length version. I’m waiting for a DVD/Blu-Ray with Director’s or cast commentary. That’s how much I liked this film. A solid GREAT.   Lights Out Movie Poster
  • NO ONE LIVES- This puts a nice little spin on the standard slasher flick, by having the victims be ruthless criminals. I’m not a slasher fan for the simple fact I have no interest in watching bad guys terrorizing young women. But bad guys taking out bad guys, seems a bit more fair to me. And this one has a quality director and is much better made than the typical genre fare.A solid VERY GOOD. Extra Large Movie Poster Image for No One Lives (#4 of 5)
  • KEANU- This Key and Peele film is surprisingly good. Lots of fun. A solid VERY GOOD.
  • THE REVENANT – Dicaprio earned all accolades for this role, as does the director, Alejandro G. Inarritu who has proved himself with a handful of films to be one of the best Directors in the world (up there with directors such as Alfonso Cuaron of CHILDREN OF MEN fame). This film is the definition of harrowing, I had to fast forward the middle of the bear scene, I couldn’t watch that, it was that intense and grueling a scene. And the film is one long crawl, that unexpectedly opens up to moments of stark beauty amidst the horror. I do think the film veered a little into self important territory, especially with that ending, but overall it does what it sets out to do. It stuns. Fantastic camera work, makes this a must see. That said it still isn’t in the same league as JERIMIAH JOHNSON from the 1970s. But the REVENANT, minor issues mentioned, is a solid GREAT and MUST SEE.
  • BATMAN THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS PT 1 – A fantastic and very faithful adaption of the Frank Miller classic. A solid GREAT.
  • DEADPOOL- I had my doubts about the hype, but the hype was warranted. A solid GREAT. Deadpool Movie Poster
  • BATMAN V SUPERMAN DAWN OF JUSTICE – I read quite a few less than stellar reviews of Zack Snyder’s Theatrical version of this film. But finally seen, some wonky bits aside, I thought it was fantastic. Ben Affleck’s BRUCE WAYNE/BATMAN I thought was great, as were all the other actors. I loved Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Luthor. He joins a host of talented actors to portray the character and all of them bring something unique to their take. A solid GREAT! I liked it so much I’m buying the ULTIMATE EDITION which has 30 more minutes and is generally written up as an improvement on the theatrical.
  • THE CELL- Speaking of great directors, TARSEM SINGH is one of the foremost visualist Directors working today. His films are sumptuous visual feasts. The problem is the stories tend to be lackluster at best. THE CELL marries a basic police procedural, very much Michael Mann’s MANHUNTER in places, to a wacky excuse… to bring in screen filling visuals by Singh. The marriage works, as sporting solid actors, I think it is Singh’s best film to date. If you like THE CELL another visually sumptuous film with surrealist and dream laden imagery to try is RITUAL III. All in all THE CELL is a solid VERY GOOD! The Cell Movie Poster
  • 28 DAYS LATER- This pseudo Zombie/Crazies film is just plain good. Some definite parallels to WALKING DEAD in its beginning, complete with the protagonist waking up in a deserted hospital. I quite like it, especially the ending, that flies in the face of the general trend of these movies. 28 Days Later Movie Poster
  • INSIDIOUS III – I was a huge fan of the first INSIDIOUS film, and quite disliked the 2nd film. It was just a misstep, most notably in the useless killing of the character of Elise Rainier played awesomely by Lin Shaye.
  • Well this film, a prequel corrects this, by putting Lin Shaye’s character very much on the front lines. When she steps up in the third act I loved it. Initially I had my doubts about this film, the stupid kid doing what she has been told not to do, wears thin on me, real quick. Thankfully the film quickly jumps over that and moves at a quick pace to the heart of the story.
  • And this movie unlike the majority of horror films has actors who can act, and is wonderfully directed/edited. For in a horror movie, like with comedy, timing is everything; and the timing and pacing in this film works wonderfully to deliver the scares. Wonderful end credits. Great music by Joseph Bishara. A solid Very Good.

Insidious: Chapter 3 Movie Poster

Movie Original vs Remake : THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN

THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (1976) VS THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (2014)

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I recently watched the original THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN FROM 1976 and to my surprise rather than a simple exploitation film, I found a compelling, harrowing, and somehow (despite it’s matter of fact “pseudo documentary” style) eminently watchable film. An unexpected examination into the American heart of darkness that manages to linger and haunt long after the credits role.

I really had no interest in the 2014 ‘remake’, largely because I saw it incapable of transcending that original film’s “of its time” power. Thankfully the filmmakers had the same respect for the original and rather than attempting to remake it, they created an unexpected sequel to it that manages to speak to a 21st century audience, while invoking the unyielding ghost of that 20th century nightmare.

However, the true saving grace and the the true validation of this sequel lies in its director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who creates one of the most stylish and inventively directed thrillers of recent years.

And even though the film falters a bit at the end (you get the feeling the scriptwriters didn’t really know how to end the film, as the reveal and conclusion stumble a bit, in a way the original film didn’t), still the momentum that Alfonso delivers is enough to leave you impressed and satisfied.

Final Grade: Both films are available for streaming [The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)] and both are worthy of owning, but the one that I am personally excited about adding to my Blu-Ray collection (when it hopefully quickly becomes available) is the Alfonso Gomez-Rejon version, simply because of some of the superlative direction and cinematography involved. It is the calling card of a filmmaker to watch.

Scratch that. Having seen the specs on the Shout! Factory Blu-ray version of the original THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN, and its load of special features, I now proudly proclaim it as a must own Blu-Ray. For all the dazzle that the newer film offers, there are moments of pure horror in the first film that it does not come close to touching. One attack in particular, in the original film, will stick with you, about a woman and a cornfield and its unbelievable outcome, that is simply jaw dropping in its true life power, and makes pale in comparison some of the cinematic histrionics of the newer film. Decide for yourself here: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (BluRay/DVD Combo) [Blu-ray]