Blu-ray Review - Redcon-1

Vlcsnap-2019-06-15-14h15m32s173

It's a great, big zombie-infested world out there, and co-writer/director Chee Keong Cheung is trying to do something with it. "Redcon-1" has the disadvantage of being yet another tale of an undead uprising (or viral plague), taking the action to Britain with hopes to shake up expectations with atypical locations and a military approach to monster warfare. There's ambition to "Redcon-1," which strives to be a bit more emotionally grounded than the competition, but the helmer has serious issues with editing and cinematography, making things overlong and too shaky-cam, which works to lower viewer interest as the story unfolds. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Film Review - Joker

JOKER 1

As a villain in Batman’s rogues’ gallery, Joker has been returned to repeatedly. He’s the classic archenemy, with a nuclear psychological profile that makes him a viable threat and a thematic counterpoint to the Caped Crusader’s own dalliance with insanity. In film and television, Joker has been portrayed by a number of talented actors, each giving the part a unique spin while still tending to the traditional madness of the character as it exists in the Batman universe. Co-writer/director Todd Phillips seems to be tired of the superhero norm, delivering “Joker,” an origin story for the Clown Prince of Crime that slowly makes its way into an abyss of mental illness, refusing the lure of Batman to remain with the villain as he samples the cruelties of the world, helping him to become the sadistic madman known to all. Phillips has a big idea for “Joker,” but he doesn’t make much of a movie with it, with the possibilities of the feature more enticing than the realities of it. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Film Review - In the Shadow of the Moon

IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON 3

Director Jim Mickle has enjoyed a career of varied projects, keeping himself challenged as he explores numerous genres and locations, with his last effort, 2014’s “Cold in July,” a sensational crime story. After taking a long break to deal with a television show (“Hap and Leonard”), Mickle returns to screens with “In the Shadow of the Moon,” which combines time-travel plot mechanics with social unrest commentary, and glazes the concoction with a detective story. The endeavor is a lot of things, with Mickle’s job involving the braiding of genres and characters, creating a compelling understanding of the impossible. He’s mostly successful, as “In the Shadow of the Moon” does just fine as a mystery and a fantasy, building to a suspenseful whole. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Film Review - 10 Minutes Gone

10 MINUTES GONE 1

With “10 Minutes Gone,” we’re back in Brian A. Miller country. The helmer is largely responsible for uninspired action fare for the VOD marketplace, trying to summon the power of Mann and the twists of Hitchcock with such forgettable endeavors as “The Outsider,” “The Prince,” “Reprisal,” and “Backtrace.” Miller never has strong titles to work with, and his output is largely cookie-cutter stuff, dealing with the same issues as bad guys battle other bad guys on the streets of an American city that offers the best tax rebate deal. For “10 Minutes Gone,” Miller visits Cincinnati, which provides the battleground for a heist-gone-wrong effort, while screenwriters Kelvin Mao and Jeff Jingle fail to summon a single thrill or nurture a passable mystery with the material, simply working through as many cliches as possible in 90 minutes. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Film Review - The Parts You Lose

PARTS YOU LOSE 1

There are no major displays of dramatic firepower in “The Parts You Lose,” and the plot is simple, dealing with issues facing the main characters, without going beyond the core dynamic to pad the runtime. Writer Darren Lemke doesn’t go for flash with his screenplay, trying to land more of a literary atmosphere to the feature, which often resembles an adaptation of a young adult novel. “The Parts You Lose” may not have a fireworks display, but there’s consistency to the picture, providing a full sense of character and heart. The modest nature of the production isn’t a problem, as director Christopher Cantwell creates an inviting sense of tension and interaction, always preserving the human side of the story to best retain viewer attention. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Film Review - Low Tide

LOW TIDE 1

“Low Tide” offers a chance to watch a young filmmaker make a promising debut, turning to the comfort of a crime picture to deliver impressive visuals and some decent screen tension. Writer/director Kevin McMullin isn’t breaking fresh ground with the feature, which surveys a breakdown in friendship and communication as greed enters a sticky situation, but familiarity isn’t an issue here, as McMullin brings some freshness to formula, becoming creative with storytelling to shake up the norm when comes to kids getting in too deep. “Low Tide” certainly has some difficulty as it leaves a sense of realism behind to play with genre highlights, but there’s a lot to like in the movie, which McMullin keeps cinematic and alert. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Film Review - Semper Fi

SEMPER FI 1

There have been plenty of movies that explore the lives of Iraq War veterans, and most are the same, highlighting battlefield dangers and psychological despair while the brotherhood of service attempts to hold together. “Semper Fi” provides that viewing experience, but the difference here is an attempt from co-writer/director Henry Alex Rubin to transform combat shock into a tale of family ties tested by the prospect of a prison break. “Semper Fi” successfully avoids some of the repetition of subgenre, and while it doesn’t have consistency, it connects in parts, with Rubin working well with suspense and while detailing inmate horrors, wisely spending little time in the Middle East to survey a slightly different War at Home scenario. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Film Review - In the Tall Grass

IN THE TALL GRASS 3

After the massive success of the “It” movies and other creative hits in “Gerald’s Game” and “1922,” it’s important to remind people that not everything adapted from the works of Stephen King is automatic gold. Exposing this often painful reality is writer/director Vincenzo Natali, who achieved cult fame 22 years ago with “Cube” and has failed to match it ever since. He returns with “In the Tall Grass,” which brings a novella co-written by King and his son, Joe Hill, to the screen, offering something spooky for the Halloween season. At 64 pages in length, there wasn’t much to the original material, but Natali doesn’t accept this reality, working to pad “In the Tall Grass” for a feature-length endeavor when a short film would’ve done the trick just fine. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Film Review - Sometimes Always Never

SOMETIMES ALWAYS NEVER 3

It’s always a special time when Bill Nighy is allowed to connect to a role, utilizing his gifts with material that permits him room to stretch and find his way around. He’s a fantastic actor, but he’s been lost in work lately, taking a few random roles (including “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu,” and voice work in “Peppa Pig”) to pay the bills. With “Sometimes Always Never,” Nighy returns to his usual level of excellence, presented with a challenge to humanize Carl Hunter’s direction, which takes on a graphic, slightly unreal quality, giving a tale of unimaginable pain a storybook appearance at times. There are some strange creative choices made in the feature, but the cast, led by Nighy, is always excellent, securing emotion as the production teeters on the edge of cutesiness. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Film Review - The Pretenders

PRETENDERS 2

Two years ago, there was much ado concerning the release of “Blade of the Immortal,” which was promoted as the 100th film from director Takeshi Miike. While movie nerds questioned the actual production count, the point was clear: Miike likes to work, and he does so whenever he can. “First Love” is his third picture since “Blade of the Immortal,” and it returns the helmer to the world of crime and street justice, sending viewers through a twisty run of secret behavior, near-misses, and double-crosses. There’s a lot to Masa Nakamura’s screenplay, which doesn’t color outside the lines when it comes to establishing underworld threats, instead striving to be more exciting with unexpected events and character backstory, giving Miike something to massage between action sequences. “First Love” isn’t furious, but it does have plenty of crazy moments and violent interactions, creating bursts of adrenaline to support a somewhat uneven viewing experience. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Film Review - First Love

FIRST LOVE 3

Two years ago, there was much ado concerning the release of “Blade of the Immortal,” which was promoted as the 100th film from director Takeshi Miike. While movie nerds questioned the actual production count, the point was clear: Miike likes to work, and he does so whenever he can. “First Love” is his third picture since “Blade of the Immortal,” and it returns the helmer to the world of crime and street justice, sending viewers through a twisty run of secret behavior, near-misses, and double-crosses. There’s a lot to Masa Nakamura’s screenplay, which doesn’t color outside the lines when it comes to establishing underworld threats, instead striving to be more exciting with unexpected events and character backstory, giving Miike something to massage between action sequences. “First Love” isn’t furious, but it does have plenty of crazy moments and violent interactions, creating bursts of adrenaline to support a somewhat uneven viewing experience. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - The Hunted

Vlcsnap-2019-06-01-22h34m02s949

One day, someone is going to write a book about the career of Christopher Lambert, hopefully titled, "Why Him?" Here's an actor with a positively bizarre filmography, achieving his greatest success with 1986's "Highlander," where the Frenchman played an immortal Scotsman, showing proper physicality for the part, but never slam-dunking its emotional potential. Hollywood tried to do so much with Lambert, casting him in plenty of B- movies (such as "Fortress," "Gunmen," and "Knight Moves"), with the actor ultimately reaching the peak of industry support in 1995, with the release of "Mortal Kombat" and "The Hunted," with the latter returning the star to the dangerous ways of swordplay. Lambert remains well out of his range in the feature, but "The Hunted" is perhaps the second best of his Americanized efforts, adding some hard stares and mild comedy to what's largely a deadly serious investigation into honor and revenge concerning two rival ninja clans. Writer/director J.F. Lawton does relatively well with Lambert, but one can sense he's had enough of the actor as the picture unfolds, slowly pushing his character into the background when the opportunity arrives to deal with some wonderful Japanese actors. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood

Vlcsnap-2019-06-04-23h25m06s030

1980's "The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood" is the third chapter of a most unlikely franchise, following 1975's "The Happy Hooker" (starring Lynn Redgrave) and 1977's "The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington" (starring Joey Heatherton). The movies are based on a best-selling memoir by Xaviera Hollander, who cashed in on the sexual revolution, sharing tales of lust, love, and financial transactions, fueling fantasies for those on the outside of the prostitution business. Martine Beswick takes over as Xaviera for "The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood," which receives the full Cannon Films treatment as the series steps into the 1980s, bringing with it a farcical tone and strange supporting cast of television talents from the 1960s. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Eagle's Wing

Vlcsnap-2019-06-01-22h22m13s925

From Anthony Harvey, the director of "The Lion in Winter," 1979's "Eagle's Wing" hopes to give viewers a taste of the True West, going beyond simple frontier conflicts to delve into complex situations of deep psychology. It's a meditation on survival and connection, but Harvey also orders up chases and stunts, while cinematography by Billy Williams protects the glory of wide open spaces in their purest, untouched form. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Blaze

Vlcsnap-2019-06-04-23h41m48s251

Ethan Hawke wanted to make a movie about a country singer who isn't widely known. The subject's name is Blaze Foley, and a portion of his life and times is recreated for "Blaze," which is co-written by his ex-wife, Sybil, giving the production a potential level of authenticity as it explores a deeply flawed man with special musical gift. Hawke takes the blessing and runs with it, delivering a picture that's not precisely a bio-pic, but a tone poem to a man who lived a very insular and problematic life. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Film Review - Devil's Revenge

DEVIL'S REVENGE 2

There’s only one reason why anyone would want to see “Devil’s Revenge,” and his name is William Shatner. While he’s quick to take any work, Shatner doesn’t make too many film appearances these days, and this particular production is using the image of the 88-year-old actor armed with a shotgun ready to take on hellbeasts from below to sell the feature. The truth is that Shatner is barely in the movie, and while director Jared Cohn does present footage of the iconic actor blasting away demonic baddies, there’s a lot more to the endeavor than simple, campy delights. Cohn has a mess on his hands, though one that’s surprisingly confident with its offering of spelunking, Satanic armies, and generational contempt. Such certainty is welcome, but the effort goes wrong in several ways. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Film Review - The Death of Dick Long

DEATH OF DICK LONG 1

Director Daniel Scheinert previously co-helmed 2016’s “Swiss Army Man,” delivering a semi-sincere offering of absurdity that believed in the distorted power of the human mind and the wonders of flatulence. Crazily, Scheinert returns to the mysteries of the rectum with “The Death of Dick Long,” which also endeavors to merge extremity with genuineness, this time moving away from fantasy to explore a small-town loss with a blend of humor and criminal investigation. “The Death of Dick Long” isn’t the film it initially seems to be, which is a good thing, as Scheinert successfully disrupts expectations throughout. Where it ultimately leads is going to be a matter of personal taste, and while the feature can be frustratingly sluggish at times, it remains compelling due to idiosyncratic characterization and moments of screwball law enforcement entanglements, gradually transforming into an Alabama version of “Fargo.” Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Film Review - Judy

JUDY 2

As we experience a full year of movies about musical artists, “Judy” has the distinction of being old news in many ways, as the life and times of Judy Garland has been thoroughly examined in books, magazine articles, documentaries, and a respected 2001 mini-series, “Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows.” There has to be something fresh here to hold attention, and screenwriter finds something of worth in Peter Quilter’s play, “End of the Rainbow,” which depicts the highs and lows of Garland’s five-week run of shows in London in early 1969. Director Rupert Goold (“True Story”) doesn’t have much room for an expansive understanding of Garland’s demons and talents, but he does reasonably well with “Judy,” which struggles some with repetition but contains a powerhouse performance from Renee Zellweger to keep it together, with the actress doing an incredible job becoming Garland with full-body immersion. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Film Review - Abominable

ABOMINABLE 2

Yeti mania began with last September’s “Smallfoot,” which delivered big screen mischief featuring the mythical beast. It continued with last spring’s “Missing Link,” which also touched on Yeti business and featured a climax set in the Himalayas, taking the action way up high. And now there’s “Abominable,” which tries to summon excitement for another tale of a Yeti on the loose who needs to return to the Himalayas. What it lacks in originality it makes up for in charm, as “Abominable,” while exceedingly formulaic, is the most charming of the three monster endeavors, with writer/director Jill Culton (“Open Season”) focusing on pace for her grand adventure, keeping the effort on the move, with mild jokes and a big heart making sure the picture remains with viewers long after it’s over. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Film Review - The Sound of Silence

SOUND OF SILENCE 2

“The Sound of Silence” is a very intimate picture about the bigness of the world around us. Co-writer/director Michael Tyburski shows some stretch marks while trying to expand his short film into a feature-length endeavor, but he presents numerous ideas on the potency of sonic disorder and emotional denial in the drama, giving what becomes a tale about two people figuring each other out some sophistication and necessary tension. “The Sound of Silence” is short and doesn’t build up many dramatic challenges, but Tyburski displays confidence with what he has, leaning on star Peter Sarsgaard to articulate the frustration of a man who’s uncovered an aural code to the city, but can’t escape his own shortcomings as a vulnerable human being. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com