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April 2019

Film Review - The Haunting of Sharon Tate


Two months ago, writer/director Daniel Farrands revisited the true crime tale of Ronald DeFeo Jr., hoping to squeeze a little more misery out of “The Amityville Horror” franchise with “The Amityville Murders.” It was a dud, but a strange one, turning to the supernatural as a way to explain mental illness and moral dissolve, with Farrands attempting to make a ghost story in a way, with hopes to approach well-worn material from a different, fictional perspective. Feeling good about his creative choices, Farrands does the same thing for the Tate Murders, reimagining a mass murder as some type of elongated descent into nightmares and premonitions, depicting Sharon Tate as somewhat aware of her horrible fate. Distasteful doesn’t even begin to describe “The Haunting of Sharon Tate,” with Farrands going the B-movie route with a delicate situation of death, toying with the details of the case to manufacture yet another crime tale situated deep in the cartoony unknown. Read the rest at

Film Review - The Brink


The 2019 political climate being what it is, who really needs a documentary on the life and times of Stephen Bannon? The hasty answer is no one, but director Alison Klayman (“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry”) appears to understand the difficult position she’s in with this subject and this year, putting in a concentrated effort to dial down the filth and the fury when it comes to the man who claims he was the singular reason why Donald Trump won the 2016 Unites States presidential election. “The Brink” isn’t an easy sell to either side of the political spectrum, but it’s an engrossing documentary about a controversial figure who knows he’s a controversial figure. Klayman slips behind the subject’s defense mechanisms and spotlights his casual personality, which helps to understand his professional behavior, and that alone is a reason to remain with the picture as it tracks Bannon’s last two years of campaigning activity. Read the rest at

Film Review - Division 19


For “Division 19,” writer/director S.A. Halewood tries to extrapolate out current woes with celebrity and surveillance, taking viewers to the futureworld of 2039, where, according to the opening of the film, anonymity is a crime. We’re immersed in a society where everything is available for study, with consent or not, making daily life a commitment to voyeurism, which has turned into the national pastime. Halewood doesn’t go cute with the material, imagining a bleak community of submissive people and the rebellion that’s taking shape in the shadows. She has plenty there for a reasonably engrossing examination of government-branded consumerism and class divide, but “Division 19” doesn’t carry enough screen energy to bring such condemnation over the top. While primed for action, the feature isn’t interested in a visceral display of revolutionary interests, remaining talky with lukewarm dramatics. Read the rest at 

Blu-ray Review - Silent Scream


1979's "Silent Scream" makes a game attempt to replicate the work of Alfred Hitchcock, most notably "Psycho," offering a macabre tale of a house of horrors and a momma's boy, and all the murder that goes along with it. Director Denny Harris is no Hitchcock, and that's evident throughout the endeavor, which often struggles with stasis, trying to find some level of fear from characters investigating multiple rooms and engaging in sexual relationships. Horror isn't actually much of a priority for "Silent Scream," but Harris has moments of workable atmosphere, exploring spooky areas of an unnerving dwelling while young people go about their daily business of making bad decisions around obvious danger. Read the rest at

Blu-ray Review - Izzy Gets the F*** Across Town


With a title like "Izzy Gets the F*** Across Town," one would expect an energetic, take-no-prisoners viewing experience with a defined punk rock edge. What writer/director Christian Papierniak ultimately offers is a tame assessment of maturation and self-preservation found in the clouds of impulsive behavior. It's only a road movie in the briefest of moments, as Papierniak promises a farce but tries to get by on tedious characterization and a lack of successful humor. "Izzy" doesn't live up to its initial promise of chaos, finding the material far too meandering to make an impression, despite lead Mackenzie Davis's game attempt to make something sizable out of a rapidly deflating endeavor. Read the rest at