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July 2020

Film Review - The Truth (2020)


Maintaining a steady career of memorable dramas in his native Japan, writer/director Hirokazu Kore-eda elects to disrupt his routine, taking his gifts to France for “The Truth.” An adaptation of a short story, the feature explores revived tensions between an older actress and her estranged daughter during a particularly vulnerable moment in the mother’s life. The invitation is there to dial up hysterics when examining domestic disorder, especially when it involves the emotional exploration of acting. Remining true to form, the helmer doesn’t take the bait, and while the language is different, storytelling grace remains, allowing “The Truth” to reach some unusual psychological places with rich behavioral observations. It’s another creative success from Kore-eda, who tries to remain faithful to the production adventure while tending to his interests. Read the rest at

Film Review - The Outpost


“The Outpost” is a little late to the game when considering all the productions created over the last 15 years that detailed the horrors of the Iraq War and Afghanistan conflicts. While freshness is certainly in limited supply, writer Eric Johnson and director Rod Lurie have a vivid take on the pressures of military performance, exploring the hellish atmosphere surrounding the Battle of Kamdesh, where soldiers inside a poorly located American Combat Outpost in Afghanistan were overwhelmed by a large Taliban force, commencing a chaotic fight that took a large number of American lives. There’s a certain western feel to the material, but Lurie isn’t interested in creating a stylized look at combat, trying to manufacture a you-are-there sense of the unknown as violence repeatedly erupts. Some staleness creeps into the viewing experience, and the helmer’s casting choices aren’t the strongest, but it’s hard to deny the raw power of “The Outpost” and its interest in depicting the insanity of this particular situation. Read the rest at

Film Review - Black Magic for White Boys


Three years ago, writer/director Onur Tukel made an indie splash with “Catfight,” a violence-laden dark comedy that managed to achieve some attention, giving a helmer used to working without much notice a chance to show his stuff. And then there was silence. Tukel returns with “Black Magic for White Boys,” a micro-budgeted endeavor that was shot a few years ago, finally finding its way to audiences in the mood for a Woody Allen-esque NYC comedy with distinct weirdness running throughout. “Black Magic for White Boys” isn’t the thrilling surprise “Catfight” was, but Tukel retains his sense of humor, shooting for more of a community story of desperate people in tight situations of personal doubt and financial failure, struggling with identity as they figure out future plans. Keeping in step with Tukel’s worldview, it’s messy, but also unpredictable and appealingly bizarre. Read the rest at

Blu-ray Review - Munster, Go Home!


In 1966, the powers that be were ready to say goodbye to "The Munsters" on television, with the popular series coming to a close after 70 episodes. Needing a big splash to help send the series off to syndication, a feature was ordered up, put right into production to capitalize on the show's dissipating position in pop culture, and there was hope that such a leap from the small screen to movie theaters might trigger a second wind for the brand name, leading to various sequels for the residents of 1313 Mockingbird Lane. "Munster, Go Home!" is the strange title for the initial cinematic endeavor, but the production itself remains faithful to the blend of broad antics and sly comedy that made "The Munsters" such a hit, only here the scope of such mischief is widened for a potentially fresh audience. And there's the addition of color, giving fans a chance to see the clan go about their wacky business in bright, deep hues, creating an ideal hook for the faithful, presenting The Munsters with their intended green skin and Technicolor shenanigans. Read the rest at