DAREDEVIL – The Final Review of NetFlix’s game changing 13 episode series!

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DAREDEVIL – Finally finishing this 13 part series, that everyone (quite rightly I think) is raving about, and it is a sea change of a series. Phenomenally good and had me captivated to the end, as those of you who have followed my previous posts can attest. It is and should be, justifiably lauded. That said, having finished the series, it is not perfect.

I think sticking the landing is the hardest thing for any series to do, and after 12 fantastic episodes, I don’t think this series quite stuck the landing with the 13th episode. [Spoilers Follow]I think the series had such smart writing throughout but the ending felt a bit disappointing and by the numbers and a bit stereotypical.

I found the character of Karen Page, while stunning, the weakest and most annoying and unlikeable character, part of this is in the writing, and part in the portrayal. And she gets progressively more annoying till the final episode. And the fact that great characters (both in terms of writing and acting) get killed (directly and indirectly) because of her, leaves an extremely bad taste.

The loss of Vondie Curtis-Hall’s character of Ben Urich feels particularly egregious and formulaic and a bit stereotypical. “Oh a strong Black male character in a genre series, of course he needs to die in the noble savage role, sacrificing himself for the non-colored” :). Like I said for a series that was so bold and smart throughout, it felt like dumbed down, lowest common denominator choices toward the end, which made the Karen Page character all the more unlikeable.

The only person nearly as unlikeable as Karen’s character is the character of Matt Murdock. But that works because there are enough other facets to Charlie Cox’s great performance, and enough time spent away from him with more interesting characters, to assuage the more psychopathic parts to the character’s nature.

But it does leave you with a final episode where it is not with Matt Murdock your sympathies lie, but with Vincent D’Onofrio’s brilliant Kingpin. It doesn’t help that the final Daredevil suit is pretty solidly a disappointment, and has one wishing for the return of the man in black.

I’m still looking forward to more Daredevil, but I do think the lack of Vondie Curtis-Hall, the ludicrous costume, the too brutal Daredevil, and the grating, and annoying character of Karen Page has me less interested than I should be for a second season.

Still and all kudos to fight coordinator Philip J Silvera, who makes this series one of the most adrenalin fueled of all time. All the more impressive since this appears to be his first long term Fight Coordinator gig. And of course kudos to Show Runners Drew Goddard and Steven S. Knight who spearheaded the birth of this first season. And of course to the writers and directors and actors.

A second season has been green-lit but without Steven S. Knight of SPARTACUS fame, instead it will have show-runners Douglas Petrie (He wrote one of the best episodes of Season 1, STICK)and Marco Ramirez (who also wrote 2 solid episodes of season 1, RABBIT IN A SNOWSTORM and CONDEMNED)so they have the chops to make the 2nd season their own. Here’s hoping they do.

If you like the fight scenes in DAREDEVIL another series to try for some solid fisticuffs is season 1 of HUMAN TARGET. While not as brutal it is quite well done. Get the series here:

Human Target: Season 1 [Blu-ray]

Now Watching : ENDANGERED SPECIES and TUSK on NetFlix VOD and Amazon Prime!

ENDANGERED SPECIES- Slow Netflix Night, and despite the atrocious poster, the name Eric Roberts and the premise of a scifi/horror flick intrigues me enough to give this a try. The first thing that strikes you is how incredibly dated the film seems.

Indeed despite the film having a production date of 2003, it looks far more like a film from 1983, with dated special effects, and an anemic budget to match, and borrows from more well known scifi films of the 80s and 90s. But those negatives aside, it moves at a quick clip, and there is some originality here, an unexpected environmental twist that makes the movie keep till the end.
Grade: C-. Horrible and misleading poster, but worth a look.

TUSK- I remember when Kevin Smith did the on-air little joke on his pod-cast that would become this film. The joke on the pod-cast was hilarious, and having seen the film, it should have just remained that pod-cast joke. It’s hilarious as something Kevin Smith is describing on a pod-cast, but the film is ultimately just exceedingly distasteful as a finished product, and backs itself into a miserable and ugly corner. Grade: D-.

Now Watching : Netflix’s DAREDEVIL and WRONG TURN AT TAHOE!

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The Entire 1st season of Netflix’s first Marvel Studios series DAREDEVIL has  dropped, and one episode in and it feels like… it feels like faith rewarded. From the first frame to the last, the show is pitch perfect.

From the direction, to the writing, to the performances, to the action. Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock, the Man without Fear is revelatory.  Charlie Cox in that first scene, with the speech in the confessional about his father, and letting the Devil loose, he defines the damaged nature of the protagonists, and this world. The initial costume is perfectly fine, a work in progress. I really hope Netflix will offer this up on Blu-Ray with commentary and features. It clearly deserves it.

Episode 2 here I come.

 

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Cuba Gooding Jr, has made his share of questionable movies. That said, in the largely direct to video world that has become the domain of most actors, in the last decade or so he has made some gems. WRONG TURN AT TAHOE is one of those gems, and following my first episode of DAREDEVIL, I find the film a nice counterpoint to the Netflix series. Cube giving a wonderfully poised and understated performance… yet full of menace. A great film from beginning to end.

Strongly recommended. Grade: B+

THE SHOUT (1978) – Expressionist 70s Horror at its Best!

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THE SHOUT (1978) – THE SHOUT is a type of horror film that the 70s managed to produce arguably better than any other decade (save perhaps our current streaming generation, the share bulk of content at our fingertips allows for a diverse range of content and experimentation). The eerie existential tale of foreboding; tales of protagonists beset from seemingly all sides by nameless and unnameable dreads that live disturbingly close to the fragile facade of our normal lives.

A culmination of sorts of the filmic movements before it (namely Expressionism, often called German Expressionism, and Film Noir) and the new dynamism of the conflicted post war, post age of Aquarius 70s; 70s Expressionist horror grafting the fatalism of Film Noir to Expressionism’s use of exaggeration and distortion to illicit an emotional response, to create a horror that was more about broader questions of what lives beyond the borders of the accepted, and the illusions… of control.

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Films like DON’T LOOK NOW, IMAGES, THE ABOMINABLE DOCTOR PHIBES, AND SOON THE DARKNESS, THE DUNWICH HORROR, LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH, MAGIC, OBSESSION, PHANTASM, DEEP RED, THE SENTINEL, SUSPIRIA, ERASERHEAD, SHORT NIGHT OF GLASS DOLLS, GANJA & HESS, NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND are marked by extreme directorial flourishes, bordering on surrealism, creating worlds of emotive rather than accepted reality.

THE SHOUT, features a stellar cast of burgeoning British Stars, among them Alan Bates, Susannah York, John Hurt and Tim Curry, all brilliantly directed by the legendary filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski. His only film in the horror genre, THE SHOUT much like IMAGES (directed by another great, serious filmmaker Robert Altman), manages to be not just a great genre film, but one of the best films of Skolimowski’s lauded career.

Not the typical Horror movie, the best horror of the 70s resists and transcends easy classifications, and trite genre labels. Indeed THE SHOUT would be as justified in the drama or fantasy or art film designation as any other, but somehow horror seems to sum up best the creeping unease that these types of 70s films in general, and THE SHOUT in particular, provide.

This is horror not of the slasher or torture porn fodder that unfortunately passes too-often for horror in the 21st century, but something more… imaginative. While the 70s had its own knife wielding maniacs, that was often played as a facet of the horror, rather than the horror in total. The horror that the 70s dealt in was rather a call back to the existential roots of cinema, horror, and arguably humanity, the MR James and Wakefield definitions of horror… the horror, with questions that endure.

Jerzy Skolimowski’s THE SHOUT is a film that rewards repeat viewings. See it for yourself courtesy of Amazon Prime, or get the DVD here: The Shout [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import – United Kingdom ] or Blu-Ray here: The Shout (1978) [ NON-USA FORMAT, Blu-Ray, Reg.B Import – United Kingdom ]

Grade: B+.


Deal of the Day! ZeroWater ZP-010 10-Cup Pitcher or American Water Distiller vs Aquasana vs Pur vs Zero Water Filters!?


A while back I had done a post on the difficulty of finding a reliable, affordable Water filter. I had first tried an American Water Distiller, however after some weeks of use, quality control issues regarding the materials used, namely rusting and taste, made me question what it was adding to the water as opposed to removing.

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Ultimately a distiller is a big expense and is only as safe as the parts used and the storage system used to catch and hold the water, and I found this particular model of American Water Filter… lacking.

I then after some reading tried Aquasana Counter-top Water Filter, which I used quite a while.

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I loved the glass storage containers this company provided and the reviews and documentation initially appeared solid. But the price for filters were way too expensive, the plastic of the filter housings tended to stain, there was no real reliable method for telling when to change the filter, outside of guessing and when you noticed issues with the water, and the certifications claimed in Aquasana’s ads weren’t backed up with any current certifications, and the company’s lack of response when questioned regarding their NSF certification I found less than satisfactory. So all these reasons made me decide to discontinue using Aquasana.

I then went to Pur Faucet Filter, largely for its claim of weeding out Mercury, recent certifications, availability and ease of purchase and low initial cost. I really appreciated the system offered a handy LED reminder regarding when it was time to replace the filter.

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One thing that never sat well with me is the loose way the Pur Filter fit into the housing. There was nothing to stop water from flowing around, rather than through, the filter. But it seemed better than nothing.

And that for quite a while is what I was using, until the Zero Water Pitcher. The design of this pitcher answers a lot of issues I had with the Pur faucet design.

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And the included TDS water tester (Total Dissolved Solids) that came with the filter really made a believer out of me after testing my untreated water, which read something like 140ppm, than the Pur filtered water… which to my surprise read more than my tap water, was something like a 150ppm. I realized the Pur water filter was reading higher because of the very design I always found questionable, in essence the filter housing seemingly allowed water to sit there and levels to actually build up.

So then I tested the water coming out of the Zero pitcher, and sure enough it came out Zero. And you could actually see the difference between the tap water, the pur water, and the zero water. There was a lot of particles in the former two, and the zero pitcher came out noticeably clear.

That is what I call impressive. Down the road I intend to run other tests and testers on the Zero Pitcher to confirm what it removes from the water beyond turbidity, but for right now, and for the relatively affordable price compared to the alternatives, it is my current water filter solution of choice.

If you are looking for a better water filter option, Zero Pitcher with their included TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) Tester is a well thought out, and seemingly effective, and definitely affordable option to give a try to. Get your copy here: ZeroWater ZP-010 10-Cup Pitcher
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If you have found this blog post helpful please support by using the links above. You get recommended to a solid item, and this blog earns a couple cents to keep providing you informative postings. A win-win. If you like this blog or this post in particular, please spread the word, and feel free to hit it with likes or comments. Thanks!

Now Watching: CRAWL OR DIE (2014) via Roku’s Amazon Prime VOD Channel

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CRAWL OR DIE – Mixing part ALIEN, part DESCENT, part TANK GIRL and sporting committed performances by its cast, particularly Nicole Alonso as Tank, who carries the bulk of the movie, CRAWL OR DIE manages to be more than its influences. Written and Directed by the fantastically named Oklahoma Ward and co-produced and conceived by star and producer Nicole Alonso CRAWL OR DIE manages to, transcend its inspirations, to feel fresh and be a surprisingly compelling 91 minutes of film.

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Ostensibly a monster movie it becomes for star and audience something of an endurance test, filled as it is with moments of repetition, belly-gazing, and frustration,,, but mostly it is about the will of Man or in this case Woman… to survive. An addictive tale of endurance, and the will to go on, and it doesn’t hurt that you have the fine form of Nicole Alonso to follow through those tunnels (while unlikely someone would strip down to their underwear to crawl through a tunnel, having watched the movie, I for one am quite supportive of the decision :) ).

Add to that a well done creature design, a definite call to the designs of HR Giger, immersive sound design, and an unusual and frenetic title/credit sequence and you have a movie deserving of being far more well known and well seen than it is.

This is the type of film that is a great reason for DVDs and Blurays to still exist in the age of streaming, because yes I saw it for free on Amazon Prime, but I immediately wanted to own this in the best quality available, complete with Director’s and cast commentary, and special features; because for me, and others, documenting the the process can be as interesting (and sometimes moreso) as the movie.

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Unfortunately CRAWL AND DIE currently has no such DVD/Blu-Ray version, and it is indicative of a failing of the industry, companies releasing these bare-bone DVDs without special features. As a rule I do not buy DVDs unless they have director’s commentary and special features.

I think these small independent film productions (such as this or FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY, BLOOD GLACIER, THE ARROYO, CUT TO BLACK, PRAYER TO A VENGEFUL GOD, THE VALDEMAR LEGACY, AT THE DEVIL’S DOOR, THE FORBIDDEN GIRL) are doing themselves a disservice by not mining the, if not large, passionate and influential DVD/Blu-Ray aficionado market, as well as providing for posterity a little bit of documentation of the process and promotion/aggrandizement of their cast and crew.

That aside CRAWL OR DIE (far better than the other, more offensive, title that early on was bandied about for it), potentially the first in a trilogy… comes strongly Recommended. Grade: B+.

For those of you who want to try before you buy go here:

Crawl or Die Streaming

For those of you like me who like the permanence of physical media (not needing access to the cloud to view a given film, or being at the mercy of data throttling) go here:
Crawl Or Die DVD

STREAMING VOD Channel of the Day : Watch Free Flix


Today’s recommended channel is Watch Free Flix.

Why.

For one main reason… the movie SUDOESTE.

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Eduardo Nunes’ 2012 feature film debut is a languid, assured fable, sumptuously told. Think Djibril Diop Mambety’s HYENAS meets Murnau’s SUNRISE, not in theme, but in visual language, in pacing, in storytelling.

Other highlights of this channel:

DOSE OF REALITY (2013)
ANOTHER MAN’S GARDEN
FUSE
DIOSES
THE PRECINCT
MORLANG
POSSIBLE LIVES
EL DEDO
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD
THOSE THREE
KABALA
OS INQUILINOS
PARTITION
THE OTHER SIDE
EXHUMED
TIN CAN MAN
CHILDREN OF A DARKER DAWN
HOUSE OF WHIPCORD

Try the channel for yourself:

http://watchfreeflix.com/