Layers of real life and movie history combine cleverly in this postmodern horror film, which just might be too knowing for its own good. But at least it's an unusual approach to the genre, offering a twisted retelling of a legend while aiming for some emotional resonance along with the usual violent nastiness. It's also directed with an unusually artful eye by first-time filmmaker Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.
It was a series of unsolved murders in a small town on the Texas-Arkansas border in 1946 that inspired the 1976 movie of the same name, which screens here annually on Halloween. But this year, the screening is accompanied by a copycat murder, which escalates into a full-on rampage. Everything seems to centre around Jami (Addison Timlin), a teenager whose boyfriend was the first victim. After her parents died, she was raised by her straight-talking grandmother (Veronica Cartwright), who continually urges her to take charge of her life. So with the local cops unable to solve the case, Jami teams up with the local library archive clerk Nick (Travis Tope) to get the whole history of these past events. Meanwhile, a Texas Ranger (Anthony Anderson) arrives to head up the official investigation.
Screenwriter Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa gleefully blends fact, fiction and the movies together into a heady mixture of horror movie cliches and shockingly realistic grisliness. In other words, this is both a fictional sequel and a playful true-life drama at the same time, which makes it feel eerily like the Scream franchise. Although this film never becomes a pastiche, and the characters are so likeable that we genuinely root for them to survive the killing spree. Timlin brings the right amount of plucky stubbornness to her role, even if it's unlikely that a witness-victim would be quite so gung-ho about doing her own police work. And there are nice turns from veterans like Cartwright, Ed Lautner (as a stubborn cop) and the late Edward Herrmann (as a nutty preacher) to add some weight.
Continue reading: The Town That Dreaded Sundown Review
After Van Helsing, the first G.I. Joe and the Mummy movies, filmmaker Stephen Sommers just about keeps his excessive action instincts in check for this offbeat supernatural comedy. There are still aspects of a thriller here, but the characters have a surprising depth that adds to the humour and drama, providing both strong laughs and moving emotional moments.
Yelchin plays the title character, who isn't sure if his given name is just missing a first T or whether it was prophetic. As Odd grows up, he discovers that he can see dead people who need help solving their murders. The police chief (Dafoe) in his small desert town believes him because he gets every case right. And now Odd's girlfriend Stormy (Timlin) helps him piece together clues when it becomes apparent that something hugely horrific is about to happen. Odd also turns to his psychic friend Viola (Mbatha-Raw) as he grows increasingly worried about the rising presence of deathly creatures that swarm around people who are about to die.
Sommers sets this up with a wry wink, letting Yelchin play Odd as a nerdy nice guy who can't quite believe he has such a hot girlfriend. We like him instantly, so are happy to go along with the fantastical story. And the witty dialogue keeps us chuckling with its snappy commentary and absurd sideroads. Yelchin gives Odd a terrific sense of physical energy, which helps him develop sharp chemistry with everyone else on-screen. With his visions of something momentous on the horizon, the film feels like a comical variation on Donnie Darko.
Continue reading: Odd Thomas Review
Even a strongly likeable cast can't breathe life into this ill-conceived film, which poses as a sex comedy but is ultimately timid and sappy. The premise is intriguing enough to catch our interest, but it ends up being three badly written romantic-comedies woven together in a way that makes them neither romantic nor comedic.
The story strands centre on three best buddies enjoying their late-20s in New York. Jason (Efron) is the womaniser, breaking up the moment any girl begins to get serious. Daniel (Teller) is the clown, using humour to find women, usually with the help of his friend Chelsea (Davis). And Mikey (Jordan) is the responsible one, a medical doctor happily married to Vera (Lucas). Except that she leaves him, prompting Jason and Daniel to promise to stay single with him in solidarity. Then instantly, each of them finds himself in a relationship: Jason falls for wild-girl Ellie (Poots), Daniel realises that he's in love with Chelsea, and Mikey secretly tries to get Vera back.
The problem is that there's very little chemistry between any of the characters. Not only are the love stories strained and implausible, but the bromance never even gets off the ground because filmmaker Gormican is clearly terrified of any kind of male affection. He's also not very good at depicting sexuality, with only a couple of scenes played for comedy value. In fact, all of the film's sharp edges have been surgically removed, leaving only the illusion of gross-out humour.
Continue reading: That Awkward Moment Review
If there's no clear cut message between two people who like other, nobody knows where they stand, what to say or when to call. Jason, Daniel and Mikey go through just that when all three find themselves with girlfriends that they aren't quite sure are really girlfriends. None of them are planning on settling into a relationship, especially since Mikey has only just come out of one, but things take an unforeseen turn when Jason meets Ellie who he wants to spend all of his time with and finds himself being accused of having a girlfriend. Pretty soon though, Daniel also finds his feelings are deepening for Chelsea and Mikey still has a lot of emotions to overcome. Even when their love lives start becoming less complicated, they find themselves struggling to adapt to monogamous lives.
This romantic comedy deals with the all too real circumstances of fledgling love. It has been directed and written by Tom Gormican (co-producer of 'Movie 43') in his directorial and screenwriting debut, and production was undertaken by Scott Aversano ('School of Rock', 'Killers'), Justin Nappi ('All Is Lost'), Andrew O'Connor ('Peep Show') and Kevin Turen. 'That Awkward Moment' is set to be released in the UK on January 31st 2014.
Frankly, if you put Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin in your movie, you don't really need to worry about the script: we'd happily watch them do just about anything on-screen. And here they sieze every hint of humour, drama and action to keep us entertained and make us care about their characters. Indeed, they maintain their dignity by refusing to give in to the screenplay's lazy old-age jokes and convoluted plot.
The story kicks off when Val (Pacino) gets out of prison after 28 years behind bars. His only remaining friend is Doc (Walken), who lets him stay in his humble apartment. But Val wants to get back in the game, and tries to get Doc to abandon his austere retirement. Then Val learns that Doc is only alive because gangster Claphands (Margolis) is forcing him to kill Val on his release - an act of vengeance against both of them. With nothing to lose, they liberate their dying buddy Hirsch (Arkin) from hospital and decide to go out with a bang.
Screenwriter Haidle seems to want this to be a geriatric Apatow-style comedy, as these men continually talk frankly about their sex lives (including of course a tired Viagra joke). But this is more squirm-inducing than amusing. And director Stevens lets the action set-pieces drag on too long, trying to crank up the energy by giving every scene a madcap spin. But none of this was necessary with these actors: they are geniuses at adding zing to even the most weakly written and directed scenes, keeping us engaged by constantly upstaging each other. They may be past their prime, but they prove that there's plenty of life still in them.
Continue reading: Stand Up Guys Review
Billy Taggart is a less than perfect former police officer who is hired by the newly elected mayor of New York City, Nicholas Hostetler, to investigate his wife Emily Barlow's infidelity and find out exactly who she is romantically involved with. When he manages to acquire photographic evidence after following Barlow for Hostetler, he realises that this is a whole bigger thing and Taggart finds himself stuck in a position he can't get out of, where the mayor plans to discredit him in a major set up upon discovering a few smudges on his police record which could be potential harmful to him. However, it seems that the mayor has chosen the wrong cop to pick on as the unrelenting Taggart will stop at nothing to achieve justice and expose Hostetler as the corrupt politician he is.
Continue: Broken City - Trailer Trailer
Doc is lifelong criminal who goes to meet his best friend Val when he leaves prison following a long sentence, but little does Val know that his crime companion has been forced to kill him by his crook boss Hirsch. It doesn't take him long to realise, however, with Doc's sheepish presence constantly giving him away. The pair decide to enjoy themselves in the only ways they know how; theft, drugs and alcohol, before the time comes when Doc has to do the deed to save his own life. As the time draws nearer, he pleads with Hirsch for mercy, unwilling to shoot dead his best and only friend while Val repents for his sins in confession for the first time in 60 years in a bid to make his peace with God before he dies.
This crime comedy highlights friendship, unbreakable promises and sin as the main themes played out by a star-studded main cast. It has been directed by the Oscar winning actor Fisher Stevens in his second feature film after his 'Just a Kiss', and written by Noah Haidle in his first full length feature film and Dave Weasel his first ever feature film. It is set for release in the US on January 11th 2013.
Starring: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, Julianna Margulies, Mark Margolis, Katheryn Winnick, Vanessa Ferlito, Addison Timlin, Bill Burr, Rick Gomez, Weronika Rosati, Eric Etebari, Courtney Galiano, Yorgo Constantine & Brandon Scott.
Continue: Stand Up Guys - Trailer Trailer
Layers of real life and movie history combine cleverly in this postmodern horror film, which...
After Van Helsing, the first G.I. Joe and the Mummy movies, filmmaker Stephen Sommers just...
Even a strongly likeable cast can't breathe life into this ill-conceived film, which poses as...
If there's no clear cut message between two people who like other, nobody knows where...
Frankly, if you put Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin in your movie, you...
Billy Taggart is a less than perfect former police officer who is hired by the...