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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Movie of the Day : THE HUNTED (2013) DVD Review!

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THE HUNTED(2013)There have been numerous movies with the title THE HUNTED, this one from 2013 is the best. 

I am QUITE impressed by this film. Star, writer, director and producer Josh Stewart crafts methodically and surprisingly, from earnest, everyday beginnings… moments of horror profound. Taking a primal sound meant to denote a response to horror, and making it in and of itself a vehicle of horror.

The editing (william yeh) and Sound Design (WALTER WERZOWA) in this film is brilliant, horror like comedy is timing, and this film is timed perfectly to… grip you, in moments not unlike, terror. The DVD featurette is a must watch when you finish the film, as is the fun director’s commentary. Go into the film, knowing as little as possible, and it will reward you.

An impressive debut film from Josh Stewart. Everyone wants to make a horror film but not everyone should or is capable of it. Stewart shows out the gate a deft hand and an assured eye, marrying perfectly the moments that seemed earnest and true, and the moments that chill. Looking forward to his follow-up films.

He joins a small but growing list of impressive filmmakers OF the disturbing to be on the lookout for.

JAMES WAN (INSIDIOUS, THE CONJURING)
LEIGH WHANNEL (INSIDIOUS 3) – A definite improvement over Insidious 2. Hair-raisingly talented.
DAVID F. SANDBERG (LIGHTS OUT)
NICHOLAS McCARTHY (PACT, AT THE DEVIL’S DOOR, HOLIDAYS)
DAVID ROBERT MITCHELL (IT FOLLOWS)
TI WEST (HOUSE OF THE DEVIL)
OREN PELI (PARANORMAL ACTIVITY FRANCHISE)
TOMAS ALFREDSON/MATT REEVES (LET THE RIGHT ONE IN/LET ME IN)
JAUME BALAGUERO (REC)
NEIL MARSHALL (THE DESCENT)
BONG JOON-HO (THE HOST)
JONATHAN GLAZER (UNDER THE SKIN)
GUILLERMO DEL TORO (PAN’S LABYRINTH)
(PONTYPOOL)
(THE WOMAN IN BLACK)
J.T. PETTY (THE BURROWERS)
PAVEL KHVALEEV (III, THE RANDOM, INVOLUTION)
BONE TOMAHAWK
SAUNA
CHRISTOPHE GANS (THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF, SILENT HILL)

A Fortress Features production.

 

Hunted [DVD] [2013] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Netflix/Marvel Studios 2017 IRON FIST Episode #1 Review!






Iron Fist Movie Poster

The last of the long awaited DEFENDERS heroes, IRON FiST breaks on the Netflix shores this Weekend, and my opinion? Well After Loving the first season of DAREDEVIL with some minor hiccups in the later episodes, Really enjoying JESSICA JONES, being Lukewarm on the 2nd season of DAREDEVIL, and LOVING Hodari Coker’s LUKE CAGE: POWERMAN, I find the first episode of IRON FIST… underwhelming.

 

The trailers were the first hiccup as I found them tedious rather than exciting, and tedium is not what you expect from what should be a Martial Arts rich show. The action looked unimpressive, and the casting, especially of the protagonist gave me cause for concern. He looked unimpressive rather than what he should be… a living weapon.

But trailers can steer you wrong, and hoping to be proven wrong I watch the first episode of IRON FIST. What hits you is the opening sequence, one thing all the Marvel/Netflix collaborations have gotten right is an absolutely great opening/credit sequence. The IRON FIST opening sequence by comparison looks like an unfinished product, a bad joke. An unfocused concept that they simply ran out of time and ended up just throwing something together.

 

 

Getting beyond the disappointment of the Credit Sequence, I like the opening shot of the barefoot hero in New York, a shout out to the Master of Kung Fu Comic’s of the 70s.

 

Quirky but in reality do you know how impossibly disgusting it would be to walk around the streets of New York or any major city in your bare feet?! There are things I fear to step on, even with shoes on. But again it’s a harmless if ludicrous call back to the comics of yesteryear.

 

What immediately impresses me is how much better Finn Jones is as Danny Rand, than the trailers hinted at. He has a likable and commanding presence, that is at the heart of the character, and he is choreographed to move with an effortless balletic grace that speaks volumes of his character and journey.

 

Iron Fist Movie Poster

 

Indeed, Jones as Danny Rand is pretty much, contrary to my thoughts on the trailer, rather than being the weakest thing about the show, in this episode he is the strongest thing. He is very affable, which above all is the saving grace of his character, and in many ways distances him from the other more brooding members of the Defenders.

With the exception of Luke Cage, who beneath his bullet proof skin has, like Danny Rand, the heart of an optimist and a poet. Unlike the bone breaking Daredevil or the oft alcoholic and fatalist Jessica Jones, Power Man and Iron Fist don’t want to hurt their fellow man, they want to help them, make them better; Even, if possible, their villains. It’s why those two work so well as a duo in the comics. Particularly the wonderful David Walker and Sanford Green POWERMAN AND IRONFIST comics that started in 2016.

 

Finn Jones gets the character of Danny Rand, The Iron Fist. Underneath the affable nature of Jones portrayal, there is something you see in his first closeup (when he is trying to get in to be seen) a core of steel, something unyielding that completely sells him in a way the trailer did not.

So the Danny Rand portion of the first episode works well, it is a lot of setup, and I don’t mind setup, if it is done well, and written well, and brought across well, I thought the first two epiosdes of LUKE CAGE, which some considered talky, I felt were two of the finest written hours of television of 2016.

ASIDE ON  LUKE CAGE SERIES AND COLOR CODED TELEVISION

(I’m about to get deep into media bias, particularly as it relates to ethnicity, so feel free to skip the following aside, the ending of it is marked, and continue on with the Iron Fist review)

 

Coker’s LUKE CAGE said wonderful truths that you usually don’t get with ethnic characters, because mostly ethnic characters on television are nothing more than Black faces spouting and reaffirming White messages . Messages which whether BUFFY or SUPERGIRL Season 2 or DOCTOR WHO or NEXT GENERATION all tend to be some variation on the wish fulfillment of its writers or worse the unconscious coded messages that they unknowing have accepted as truths, namely White female initially falls for Ethnic Character than comes to her senses and dumps him for a White character.
If that plotline plays out in one show, that’s fine, that’s life, stuff happens. However, if that plot-line plays out in every single show where a white female is romantically tied to a man of color, then that is no longer sharp, inventive writing, or originality, it is programming, played over and over again until we stop seeing it, but keep believing it.
In Hodari Coker’s LUKE CAGE you got writing that was shorn of that very racist programming that makes up 90% of the shows we see on TV, and the output of even our best writers. By no measure do I think Joss Whedon is racist, however he reuses the above pattern of racial politics when it comes to the romantic lives of the men of color he scripts from FIREFLY to BUFFY to AGENTS OF SHIELD to AGENT CARTER. At some point any romantic light he casts the men of color he scripts, any momentum to a healthy heterosexual relationship, particularly with a female of another ethnicity has to be derailed. Their identification as a sexual alpha, derailed. Mac on AGENTS OF SHIELD becomes comedy relief, rather than what he should be on that show… the Mac.
And like I said you would be hard pressed to not see this very strange repetition of sexual marginalization and symbolic castration (fit to be comedy relief or the non-threatening buddy or father figure but not the romantic interest) occur over and over to men of color in just about every dramatic show you can name, particularly the action oriented ones. Whether BUFFY, AGENT CARTER, AGENTS OF SHIELD, NEXT GENERATION, ER, ROSEWOOD, SUPERGIRL, FIREFLY.  Such bias extends even to our news and ‘reality programming’, the fact that over 20 years later the media is still lynching OJ Simpson (A famous Black man accused of murdering a white woman) while in the intervening years there has been no shortage of murdered spouses. However this particular case accomplishes familiar goals of America, the tearing down of idols, the vilification of the other, and a platform to use an individual act, to try to send a message to a whole mass of people. It’s a lynching, writ large, 20th and 21st century style.
And by contrasts it has been envogue for the last 20 years to pair White Males successfully with women of color, pair being perhaps too equal a term, more like have the woman of color fling herself at the White Male, whether that’s FLASH, JAMES BOND, WALKING DEAD, TAKEN, EMERALD CITY, and again a couple of times it is just original storytelling, but for this pattern to be a constant over the last 20 years, then that is something else, that is programming.

 

So I’m always drawn to the shows that eschew these programming ploys, these repeated coded messages. So that is why I hold shows like LUKE CAGE in such high regard. A show where a man of color, a Black man, can be a hero and get the girl, full stop. It’s a rare concept in a mass media that is so racist it is not aware of how rare they have by design, made that concept.
Name me ten Dramatic shows (not comedies) on TV right now where a lead character of color, is in a successful healthy relationship with a female, particularly of another ethnic group. You’d be hard pressed to name 2. But you can name dozens upon dozens of shows that are cast and written the other way. Even though statistics tell us there are far more Black Male/White female relationships than White Male/Black Female relationships.
So why would the fiction of mass media be so contrary and completely out of sync with the realities of the populations watching those fictions? Because invariably the writers, who mostly are white males, propagate their limited definitions of diversity while also crafting their wish fulfillment, which usually breaks down to our White Hero is ‘so enlightened’ because he deigns to have a Black girlfriend, and the Black Girlfriend who has to throw herself at him.
Like I said, once or twice, it is original, however all the time, the same way, it is programming and it is insulting.

 

END OF ASIDE

Hodari Coker’s LUKE CAGE : POWER MAN brilliantly gave us something more than the programming we have been used to, showed us Netflix as a channel where more original and more truly DIVERSE stories could be told.

It left big foot prints for the next show, IRON FIST, to follow in.

And without expecting IRON FIST to be ground breaking, or anti- stereotype and ANTI programming, I did expect it to be good.

Unfortunately the first episode of IRON FIST suffers because its lack of action is not compensated for by rich and compelling characters, or evocative acting. Case in point… Ward and his father.

There is nothing more derailing to a narrative, than a weak antagonist, and unfortunately in Ward and his Father you have two very boring and uninteresting and cookie cutter antagonists. Ward came off as just a petulant child, a whiner, and whiners do not make for great TV.

The scene with Ward and his Dad discussing Danny Rand, rather than riveting is the definition of tedious. I had to look at the clock, to see how much time was left before I could watch something else.

That is never what you want to be doing when watching a show, looking at your clock.

So,  between the pacing issues, and the casting issues, and the uninteresting bad guys, I’m solidly unexcited to move on to the next episode. And that’s not an issue I have had with the previous shows.

I hope to work my way through the series and all the way to the end, and I hope I can report it gets great, but for the first episode all I can give it is a …

Grade: C-

 

Iron Fist Movie Poster

Currently Watching : HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM

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Watching this classic 1959 chiller courtesy of VIEWSTER’s Roku Channel.

Considering the DVD of this is a pretty penny:

 

Horrors of the Black Museum

Catching it courtesy of VIEWSTER is this weekend’s recommended watch!

And wanted to thank the B-Movie Cast for putting it on my radar in this episode of theirs from a couple years ago.

http://bmoviecast.com/podcasts/bmc142-horrors-of-the-black-museum-1959-toll-free-number-888-350-2570/

Well worth a listen.

 

BLU-RAY Movie of the Day : Antoine Fuqua’s EQUALIZER

“Progress. Not perfection.”

The Equalizer Movie Poster

I know in this day of streaming it’s all the rage to herald the death of physical media.

Allow me to be the voice of dissent.

Streaming is fine for sampling things, and trying things, but for things you love, and intend to watch again, revisit again, give me that feature rich DVD or BLU-RAY any-day, and twice on Sunday.

I love film. And I love cast and Director’s commentary. For films I love, after I consume the film, I like to go back and hear about the process, the experience of making the film.

For a beloved film, it just adds to the enjoyment.

And for cinephiles or hopefuls one day looking to work in some capacity crafting these once celluloid marvels, a commentary by Michael Mann or Ridley Scott or the late great Tony Scott is like being part of the best film school in the world.  It’s enjoyable AND informative.

My favorite movies I might get introduced to on streaming, but providing they have that commentary and special features, I will always buy in Blu-ray/DVD format.

The Equalizer Movie Poster

Antoine Fuqua’s THE EQUALIZER is one of those movies. First the Blu-Ray picture and sound quality is stellar. No buffering issues, or making sure you haven’t gone over broadband quota issues, or weather related or ‘time of day’ issues that can all affect your enjoyment with streaming. No the Blu-Ray, as long as you have your player and power, will be there for you, in the same spectacular quality.

Now moving on to the film itself, while I liked the TV show well enough, I too was incredulous when i heard about a remake. Add to that the odd choice of Denzel Washington to helm a big screen version of a mid-tier show, best known for the Britishness of its protagonist.

But I’m happy to say AntoinE Fuqua and the writers and Denzel Washington do the impossible in making this 80s small screen show, into galvanizing big screen entertainment. From the first frame the story is told, of a man of regimented routine, of  necessary order. Peace, found in the adherence to the space between seconds. A dragon allowed to sleep. Until one day something shatters that routine, that peace, and the dragon must wake.

Fuqua is a director, whose first couple of efforts left me cold, but I have to say he has grown into a great Director. There is such a beautiful patience in this film, that it makes the action scenes when they come, so much more devastating. And a large part of that is Denzel Washington, he brings a laconic, measured weight to the doors he steps through, a gravitas, that really sells the moments he must… wake.

Coming out the same time frame as JOHN WICK, both films share a common theme of men of extreme skillsets being forced back into using those skills. It’s lovely how the same theme of vengeance can be handled so differently, and so well in those differences.

JOHN WICK is a balls to the wall, action extravaganza,  EQUALIZER offers a bit more measured approach, but somehow manages to make every person’s fall more personal for that measured response. Fuqua’s EQUALIZER takes the time to watch the light go out of a man’s eyes. And there is something sobering and frightening about that. I love JOHN WICK, and looking forward to JOHN WICK II, but I love EQUALIZER just as much. The only misstep to EQUALIZER is the poor choice of a rap song for the closing credits, but other than that a home-run of a film.

It is a phenomenal film. Made even more so by the VENGEANCE MODE that the Blu-Ray offers. All in all a grade ‘A’ film, well deserving of owning in Blu-Ray.

 

Get your copy at the link below:

The Equalizer [Blu-ray]

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