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September 2013

Film Review - Riddick

RIDDICK Vin Diesel

In 2000, there was “Pitch Black,” a Vin Diesel action vehicle before he became Vin Diesel. It was met with a shrug at the box office, but went on to collect a fanbase on home video. Gambling on a newly minted star (still glowing from his “The Fast and the Furious” breakthrough), Universal bet the farm on 2004’s “The Chronicles of Riddick” -- an attempt to stretch a B-movie character over a J.R.R. Tolkien-style fantasy mythology, hoping to jumpstart a fresh franchise. It was met with yet another shrug. However, Diesel isn’t willing to let this idea go, reuniting with creator David Twohy to unleash the unimaginatively titled “Riddick” on the world, hoping third time’s the charm for this saggy series. Read the rest at

Film Review - Touchy Feely

TOUCHY FEELY Rosemarie DeWitt

Lynn Shelton is such an inviting moviemaker with an interest in the purity of human reaction that’s gifted her filmography (including “Humpday” and “Your Sister’s Sister”) a charming sense of spontaneity and feeling. “Touchy Feely” is almost up to the level of her previous work, but there’s an odd unfinished quality to the picture that’s distracting, almost unprofessional. The screenplay invests in a fascinating sense of sensorial immersion and deprivation, with characters worth following for the duration of the feature. Sadly, “Touchy Feely” doesn’t see its themes through to the end, leaving the effort dangling in the wind, unsatisfying and needlessly drained of depth. Read the rest at

Film Review - Afternoon Delight

AFTERNOON DELIGHT Kathryn Han Josh Radnor

It’s rare to witness a movie completely wipe out. Usually there’s a lull or a noticeable decline in quality preceding a crash landing, but “Afternoon Delight,” after a solid hour of commendable creative credits, plummets to Earth in a shockingly abrupt manner. There are severe tonal adjustments and then there’s this feature, which explodes at the 60-minute mark, sending emotional and thespian shrapnel everywhere. There hasn’t been a film this self-destructive in some time, making “Afternoon Delight” undeniably fascinating, but quite tedious once it swallows a grenade in its final act, making it difficult to trust anything writer/director Jill Soloway has to share on the state of the modern American marriage. Read the rest at

Film Review - Hell Baby


Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant are funny guys who’ve never successfully translated their sense of humor to the screen. Co-writing iffy projects such as “Night at the Museum,” “Balls of Fury,” and “Let’s Go to Prison,” the pair has enjoyed several opportunities to prove themselves, yet nothing’s connected creatively. “Hell Baby” is their directorial debut, with the pair now taking charge of their own material, and they’ve selected quite a project to kick off this new career path, constructing a satire of demon squatting and exorcism films, though one with a fondness for non sequiturs and incessant tomfoolery, keeping in line with their usual taste in laughs. Read the rest at

Film Review - Adore

ADORE Naomi Watts Robin Wright

“Adore” has a peculiar way of making unhealthy behaviors seem perfectly organic. It’s a sensual approach to toxic interests from director Anne Fontaine (“Coco Before Chanel”) that manages to preserve the essentials in emotional exposure and untenable desire, making the picture feel comfortable as it details some skin-crawlingly troubling interpersonal developments. Although it breezes through time perhaps too quickly, “Adore” is smartly assembled and honest when it comes to the longing of its characters, approaching a potentially disquieting situation of attraction with a certain sense of maturity where other filmmaker would be more than thrilled to linger on the salacious particulars. Read the rest at

Film Review - Therese

THERESE Audrey Tautou

“Therese” marks the final film from celebrated director Claude Miller, who passed away last year at the age of 70. The helmer of “Class Trip” and several other highly lauded pictures, Miller concludes his cinematic tour on a slightly deflating note. Although buoyed by an encouraging mean streak to snap the movie out of its fixation on technical achievements, “Therese” doesn’t live up to the potential of its premise. Fine work from star Audrey Tautou keeps the effort irritable, with an interesting depiction of mounting resentment, but Miller seems distracted to a point of being uninterested, consumed with making a lovely feature about sinister interests, and it doesn’t have the impact it should. Read the rest at

Blu-ray Review - The Odd Angry Shot

ODD ANGRY SHOT bryan brown john jarratt

The American experience during the Vietnam War has been extensively documented in feature films, leaving audiences with a developed comprehension of the hardships, tragedies, and lost innocence of the men and women who fought for the country. Australia's participation in Vietnam hasn't enjoyed the same cinematic illumination, leaving 1979's "The Odd Angry Shot" a valuable dramatic tool in a larger appreciation of sacrifice and wartime temperament. Writer/director Tom Jeffrey cuts to the heart of the Aussie mentality in this off-kilter picture, electing to represent the narrative through chapters of boredom and militaristic encounters. It's a flavorful movie with stout performances and a distinct cultural atmosphere to help it maneuver through a few passages of stagnant storytelling, but "The Odd Angry Shot" is best appreciated as a snapshot of pride melting into disillusionment, previously imagined as strictly an American perspective. Read the rest at

Blu-ray Review - Secrets of Highclere Castle

Secrets of Highclere Castle

Located in the United Kingdom, Highclere Castle is an extraordinary country house teeming with pure majesty in worlds of art and architecture, constructed nearly two hundred years ago as a show of wealth. It's also the current home and inspiration for the blockbuster television series, "Downton Abbey," making its considerable history pale in comparison to its current rank as a popular tourist attraction, launching a million fantasies of elegance, order, and opulence. Read the rest at