Thursday, June 29, 2017

Review - Hot Fuzz

This is another movie that comes up so often in Sporcle quizzes that I felt like I ought to check it out. Clearly this is an attempt to do the same thing with buddy cop pictures that Shaun of the Dead did with zombie movies. Though the humor level and much of the cast are the same, this one falls well short of its predecessor. See if desperate

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Review - The Axe Murders of Villisca

Ghost-busting video bloggers spend the night in a murder house with thoroughly predictable results. And no, the cheap twists stirred in here and there don’t add flavor to the usual burgoo. See if desperate

Review - XX

This four-part horror anthology (with Svankmajer-esque animated bracket) is interesting if for no other reason than all the shorts were directed by women. None of them are groundbreaking stuff, but at least they’re the beginnings of a departure from slashers and other misogynist tripe. Mildly amusing

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Review - Neverlake

Lake ghosts don’t need to be dull as dirt, but this movie is no exception to the rule that they apparently are. The production values here are good, but if a little less cash spent on the effects would have freed up some funds to buy a less convoluted script, it might have been money well spent. Mildly amusing

Monday, June 26, 2017

Review - The Big Short

One of the big problems with white collar vermin is that they can do an incredible amount of damage and yet remain completely boring. Our entire economy can teeter on the brink, but their misdeeds are still far less movie-worthy than serial killers and bank robbers. The filmmakers in this production about the housing bubble burst of 2005 realize the problem and counter it in part by having stunt-casted celebrities such as Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez do wall-breaking monologues about futures and selling short. Unfortunately that does little to counter the fundamental problem: this is the Wall Street equivalent of a movie where every character is a vampire and they do nothing but try to bite each other. Mildly amusing

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Review - Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press

The heart of this story is the libel suit filed against Gawker by racist celebrifuck Terry Bollea, better known to the world as Hulk Hogan. Though the defendants didn’t walk into this mess with clean hands, the life-wrecking, disturbingly high verdict obtained by the plaintiff (with the backing of notorious free speech opponents from the far right) should give us all pause. This documentary is a good explanation of the issues and values at stake. Mildly amusing

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review - Oklahoma City

PBS’s American Experience series serves up this documentary about the bombing in the eponymous location. Of particular interest is the path taken by mass-murdering shithead Timothy McVeigh. The footage of him selling fascist garbage off the hood of his car outside the Waco compound is particularly chilling. Worth seeing

Friday, June 23, 2017

Review - American Violence

It’s American. It’s violent. No point in complaining to the FTC about false advertising here. Once again we’re called upon to buy Denise Richards as a PhD., this time a psychologist interviewing a death row inmate. See if desperate

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Review - Moana

I cringe a little every time I start watching a Disney production about a non-Euro-American subject. But here the reaction was largely unnecessary. The story is engaging, the characters charming and the production values equal to the standards we’ve come to expect from the studio. Mildly amusing

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review - Star Trek Beyond

Better than the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek but not as good as the second. After the umpty-thousandth destruction of the Enterprise, the usual suspects find themselves marooned on a planet with an alien who really really doesn’t like the Federation. Once again effects and stunt work take center stage, which as ever is a disappointment for a franchise that was born without alternative as a character- and script-driven effort. Mildly amusing

Review - After Porn Ends

Though I don’t have tons of experience watching movies about the porn industry, most of what I’ve seen is either porn itself or evangelical screed about the evils of pornography. Fortunately this takes a more traditional documentary approach. The filmmakers interview several veteran actors, presenting a range of reactions from “it was a good paycheck” to “it ruined my life.” Mildly amusing

Review - Man Vs.

This is one of the few times I’ve ever taken on the watching of a found footage movie and not instantly regretted it. The premise – survival reality show guy runs up against a monster in the woods – at least provides a reasonable explanation for the format. It also gives the story a nice Predator flavor right up until the twist ending. This is still a low-budget, rough-around-the-edges indie, but at least it’s reasonably clever and packs a few scares more fundamental than simple booga-booga shots. Mildly amusing

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Review - Trolls

I had to watch this picture in small bits lest I die of a treacle overdose. Even for a kids’ movie, this is twee beyond description. And why troll dolls, of all the ugly-ass things to make an “endearing” movie about? The voice cast features plenty of familiar names, and the soundtrack sports an almost relentless parade of familiar tunes and pop-heavy originals. But wow was this ever hard to watch. See if desperate

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Review - The Mummy (2017)

I wanted desperately to love this movie. With the grand success of cinematic universes, I would have been a big fan of a new one evolving from the classic Universal horror properties. But this picture is hampered in no small part by its ham-handed effort to start just such a franchise. Of course it doesn’t help to have a trite, muddled script and big-name stars phoning in their performances (Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe, I’m looking at you). I didn’t hate it as much as the rest of the world seems to have, but it wasn’t good enough to accomplish its purpose. Mildly amusing

Review - It Comes at Night

In the immortal words of Bart Simpson, “You know what would have been scarier than nothing? Anything!”  Seriously, this should have been called “It Never Shows Up.” Two families struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic world where the evil afoot in the land is a virus and possibly something more sinister that’s hinted at but never identified. The result is a textbook example of how not to make a horror movie: a go-nowhere plot, dislikable characters with poor motivations (even for an extreme survival situation), plenty of bickering, and no less than six uses of the waking-up-from-a-nightmare cliché. Add protracted pet death, and this picture avoids the lowest possible rating by the narrowest of margins. Wish I’d skipped it

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Review - Attack of the Morningside Monster

Yet another set of indie filmmakers deludes themselves into believing that cheap, gory murder is enough to sustain an entire movie. See if desperate

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Review - Kubo and the Two Strings

The animation here is much more interesting than the story. It isn’t that the story is bad. To be sure, it’s a little muddled for younger audience members. But it’s vastly outmatched by the stop motion work required to bring it to the screen. Sequences took months to film. The skeleton demon is the largest piece ever used in a stop motion movie. And so on. The craft shows in the visually beautiful result. Mildly amusing

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Review - War Machine

War is hell. War is dumb. War is dumb hell. Netflix serves up a based-on-true story about the problems with US attempts to pacify Afghanistan. This might have been interesting, maybe even clever, considering some of the more absurd elements of the tale were the historically accurate ones. Unfortunately the picture was ruined by the decisions to play it as a sitcom and to cast Brad Pitt in the lead. This guy’s idea of how to play a four-star general amounts to little more than personality tics and a big mess of ridiculous facial contortions. See if desperate

Review - The Girl in the Photographs

I had a great time on a vacation in the Black Hills several years ago, and for some lapse-in-judgment reason I let that lure me into watching this solely because it’s set in Spearfish, South Dakota. The movie takes no advantage of the setting, instead serving up misogynist violence that could just as easily have been set at any random point on the map. Wish I’d skipped it

Review - Stitches

I have to kinda respect an evil clown movie that doesn’t even try to not be a piece of shit. And wow does this one ever not try. Kids at a birthday celebration accidentally kill the party clown, so it comes back a decade later to take revenge on its now-teenaged killers. See if desperate

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Review - The Girl With All the Gifts

Apparently not the gift for avoiding appearing in a terrible movie. This time around the survivors of the zombie apocalypse are trying to teach semi-zombified children to not be zombies. One student proves particularly promising. But long before the picture drags to its witless conclusion, it takes far too many implausible or unpleasant turns to hope to sustain an interesting story. Also particularly cruel dog death. Wish I’d skipped it

Review - USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage

If you’ve seen Jaws then you know the story already. So here it is stretched out to a couple of hours. The shark attacks are hard to watch, as they should be. On the other hand, the plot drags on for a considerable amount of time after the survivors get rescued. Though the storytelling is a bit off, the story is nonetheless compelling. Mildly amusing

Review - Doctor Strange

When I was a comic-reading kid I wanted to like Dr. Strange better than I did. Even with talented artists such as Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby on the job, they somehow couldn’t really bring an infinite universe of alternate dimensions to the page. The broader realm of CGI comes a bit closer, and that really helps make the characters and story work. Benedict Cumberbatch does a solid job in the lead, hitting Strange’s mix of earnestness and sarcasm right on the nose. Even if you don’t care for the whole superhero thing, this is still an interesting movie to look at. Mildly amusing

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Review - Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

Normally I’d type something here about how if you’ve been watching Paranormal Activity movies this long that you’re likely to keep on watching them. But I honestly think at this point the stories have strayed enough from the original that they’ve abandoned the creepy mystery and not really replaced it with anything else. See if desperate