“Crawlspace” is a good example of a no-budget picture accomplishing quite a lot with very little. A blend of “Aliens” and “Scanners,” the feature has confidence and a definite vision for its claustrophobic scares. Perhaps originality isn’t a top priority for the screenplay, but director Justin Dix manages to fuse his inspirations and his aspirations into a tight 80 minute ride of hallucinations and chilling medical discoveries, feeding genre fans a moderate but effective level of gore to snack on while the dialogue explores devious manipulations. At the very least, it provides hope that Dix, making his directorial debut here, will go on to a career of satisfying shockers. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com
The Tarantino Generation is briefly revived with the release of “Sushi Girl,” a toe-curlingly violent journey into the black hearts of petty criminals and their loquacious impulses. Loaded with barbed interplay and fueled by a mystery of true intention, the movie sustains a certain anxious rhythm that’s superbly entertaining, eased along by exaggerated but excited performances from a group of actors who normally get the shaft when it comes to extended screentime. While it’s nothing inventive, perhaps a tad too derivative at times, “Sushi Girl” manages to overcome its limitations with a polished, low-budget style and a fiery attitude, keeping attention on the argument at hand, while increasing brutality and a satisfactory ending ease the awareness that the screenplay, credited to Destin Pfaff and Kern Saxton (who also directs), is simply walking in the considerable footsteps of other filmmakers. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com
For the first hour, “The Baytown Outlaws” keeps to a persuasive display of violence and colorful characters, with co-writer/director Barry Battles manufacturing a tasty slice of southern-fried grindhouse, populated with seedy characters and outrageous confrontations. The pace isn’t kept as the material eventually begs to be taken seriously, which comes to cripple the entire viewing experience. However, those with a taste for unsavory events guided by loudmouth participants should be able to extract some enjoyment out of the determined feature. It’s a shame Battles loses his nerve in the final act, weirdly assuming viewers have developed an emotional attachment to material that works best as a cartoon. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com
Released during the same period as Gus Van Sant’s “Promised Land” and its focus on the possible environmental disaster known as fracking, “A Dark Truth” also explores a little-known area of natural resource woe, covering the rise of corporations collecting control of water and land rights in struggling countries. However, instead of a respectful drama that preaches and teaches, “A Dark Truth” emerges as a political actioner, with star Andy Garcia spending his screentime wielding a handgun as his character sets out to expose evil. It’s a smart play to secure audience attention, but the effort is wasted on a dreary, formulaic picture. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com
I could see “Now is Good” appealing to a certain younger audience. Not teenagers, but pre-teen girls dreaming of adolescent experiences that could help to define them, while happily observing a traditional rebellious attitude. Schmaltz of the highest order, “Now is Good” is particularly punishing melodrama without a clear understanding of its message, rewarding awful behavior in an effort to appeal to the only demographic that will be able to endure it to the end. Surprisingly harsh when it comes to the dented appeal of its lead character, the movie is a predictable drag, attempting to cozy up to its young adult literary origins (adapted from the novel by Jenny Downham) in a decidedly tuneless fashion. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com
Twentysomething love without protection, SEALs in need of Strasberg, Tom Cruise vs. Bon Jovi, Billy Crystal’s bathroom routine, the hilarity of colon cancer, the lulz of internet horror, McG and the game of love, a movie with a devil of a non-ending, and a brutal pair of Perrys. These are the worst films of 2012.
An Iranian uproar cooled by Hollywood fakery, a failed boy scout on the hunt for true love, fast food friction, the true price of greed, the slaughter of reality show stars, the quest to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, positive thinking put to the ultimate test, shaken and stirred, a mechanical best friend, and a visit to a nightmare factory via the woods. These are the best films of 2012.