In the mid-1960s, The Beach Boys were at the top of their game. Having released ten classic albums, a young songwriter and leader of the band, Brian Wilson (Paul Dano), was preparing to create the greatest album in history. His aggressive pursuit of the perfect sound for the band's eleventh studio album, 'Pet Sounds', had a negative effect on his psychological well-being. Almost two decades later in the 1980s, Wilson (John Cusack) is trapped in his own mind, sedated by medication and a troubled psychiatrist. But a young woman, Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks), believes that she can restore him to the great man he once was, through a mixture of Love and Mercy.
Continue: Love & Mercy - Teaser Trailer
Spanish director Eugenio Mira combines slick filmmaking with a dark and nasty plot as this fast-paced thriller unfolds almost in real time. So even if the premise doesn't quite stand up to scrutiny, it's packed with characters and twists that keep the audience glued to the screen as the mystery charges inexorably forward. Suspense comes in some gruesome surprises along the way, as well as in the actors' urgent performances.
The film opens as Tom (Elijah Wood) heads to Chicago for his first piano performance in five years, organised by his movie-star wife Emma (Kerry Bishe). She's even flown in the custom piano owned by Tom's late mentor, whose fortune mysteriously vanished after he died (cue an ominous chord!). Despite enormous pressure from the press and his fans, Tom is quietly confident about his long-awaited return to the stage. An old friend (Don McManus) is conducting tonight, and his assistant (Alex Winter) has everything under control. Then just as he begins to play Tom sees words in red ink on his score: "Play one note wrong and you die!" Using an earpiece and a laser gunsight, an angry fan (John Cusack) leads Tom on a wild cat-and-mouse game right through the performance.
Yes, the idea is pretty preposterous, and not just because Tom can play outrageously complicated pieces note-perfect while a maniac shouts in his ear. Tom even manages to make phone calls and send text messages while playing, darting off-stage to crank up suspense along the way. The main threat is against his wife, whose demanding friend (Tamsin Egerton) and her browbeaten husband (Allen Leech) also get involved in the mayhem, which no one else in the theatre seems to notice until the over-the-top finale. But through all of this, Mira directs with a Hitchcockian grip on the suspense, deploying gallows humour, sweeping camerawork, dramatic music and complex long takes tighten the screws.
Continue reading: Grand Piano Review
Rob Zombie has matured as a filmmaker, as witnessed by this well-structured horror shocker, which plays with both historical events and familiar movie imagery to keep us unnerved even if it's ultimately rather silly. Best of all is the way he remembers the value of schlock both to entertain and to gross us out. And it's his old-style touches that make the film much scarier than the usual shock-and-go horror movies.
The story draws on the 17th century Salem Witch Trials, at which women were brutally executed for suspicion of witchcraft. In present day Salem, free-spirited DJ Heidi (Moon Zombie) receives a mysterious record from an unknown band called The Lords, and when she plays it people start behaving strangely. Historical expert Francis (Davison) takes an interest in the record due to its odd tones, but he begins to worry that something nasty might be afoot. Indeed, Heidi starts having freaky dreams and visions. And it becomes apparent that she's the fulfilment of a dark prophesy involving the spawn of Satan himself.
Moon Zombie is terrific as the confused heroine who thinks what's happening is related to her recent decision to give up hard drugs. But of course, we know better. And we also know that she certainly should not trust the three cackling sisters (Geeson, Quinn and Wallace) who live downstairs. In addition, we see flashback scenes from 1696 in which a preacher takes on a coven of naked witches who dance around a bonfire led by their witchy leader (Foster). Yes, Zombie packs the movie with nutty ceremonies, grisly apparitions and naked, blood-soaked women.
Continue reading: The Lords Of Salem Review
Vincent Dooly is a would-be inventor with dreams of winning an Eddy, a yearly award given to the most prestigious young inventor. Vincent's main problem is all of his inventions have failed in one way or another and led to public humiliation. His main competition comes from Martin Wooderson, a genius whose won many Eddy's in the past.
Continue: The Mother Of Invention Trailer
Inexplicably marketed as a 25th Anniversary Edition (close enough, I guess), Cujo tells the now-often-imitated story of a vicious animal/monster and couple of people trapped by it. In this case, the animal is a once-super-happy St. Bernard bitten by a rabid bat, and the people are mom Donna (Dee Wallace) and her son Tad (Danny Pintauro).
Continue reading: Cujo Review
I wish I could say it's a good movie, but an unspeakably lame concept pretty much grounds any hope of that. As the three friends visit and ultimately discover their limitations -- represented by the revealing of the school's time capsule, which holds everyone's then-future hopes -- the women are escorted by the spirits of their dead grandmothers (played by the motley crew of Chita Rivera, Renée Taylor, and Claire Bloom). Yes, you've read correctly. It's an unnecessary idea, stealing time away from the three friends' personal struggles, which is really the meat of the story. Seriously, if you took the grandmother subplot out, what would you lose?
Continue reading: Kalamazoo? Review
No matter: She acquits herself far better here, namely ecause she has nearly no lines. This is Dudley Moore's show: An absurd and hopelessly dated bit of slapstick about Moore's showbiz star facing a midlife crisis. Zoom, he's off to Mexico, where he daydreams about Derek (in those hideous braids) at length. Blake Edwards made worse films than this, but his comic timing is all wrong, exiled to long bouts of non-sequitur gags, such as Moore's run-in with dentistry.
Continue reading: 10 Review
Okay, while this 20th anniversary reissue makes a few changes, it's not quite that radical... but if you haven't seen this film since you were 10 years old (like me), it is well worth another visit to the movie. Never mind the updates and alterations -- it's amazing how much I'd forgotten from the original -- which means the update is just as fresh and exciting as it was in 1982. But Steven Spielberg has been tinkering -- and not really in an obvious way like Lucas did with Star Wars. Most notable among the changes (which add about 5 minutes to the running time) are a repaired and expanded opening sequence, wherein we meet E.T. and his alien family, which is forced to leave him behind when those pesky feds get too close.
Continue reading: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Review
Yes! And you'd better get to the theater quick, because The Frighteners, in a manner suggested be the above questions, will not make huge waves at the box office in a crowded field of summer blockbusters.
Continue reading: The Frighteners Review
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