Friday, September 23, 2011

'Moneyball' Movie Review

“Peace to Oakland, I’ve never been a fan of the A’s”
—Blue Scholars

At the heart of Bennett Miller’s new film “Moneyball” is the story of a little guy going against the grain, challenging established norms and mores, and trying to indelibly alter the world around him. “Moneyball” is the story of Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, who, in the early 2000s, turned his back on 150 years of traditional baseball wisdom, and adopted a radically new approach to assembling a team.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

MIFFF Review: The Short Films

One of the coolest things about the Maelstrom International Fantastic Movie Festival is the shorts program. There were an absurd number of them, almost fifty, broken up into genre-specific chunks—a fantasy, animation, horror, and science fiction block. These are films that you’re not likely to see many other places. In a general sense shorts are wildly hit and miss—there are some great ones, but to get to them you have to sift through a crap load of garbage.

MIFFF Review: 'Boy Wonder'

Do yourself a favor, go out and find a way to watch “Boy Wonder”. It’ll be totally worth it, promise. A near perfect combination of grim revenge movie and dark super hero origin story, it is good enough to make you completely forgive a questionable choice of title. To lump it in with the likes of “Kick-Ass”, “Defendor”, and “Super”, may be a natural inclination, but at the same time it does the film a great disservice because it is markedly different from all of those films. “Boy Wonder” doesn’t aspire to be the first chapter in an ongoing saga, it doesn’t directly reference comic book lore and culture, and the main character doesn’t try to become an iconic superhero or mimic heroic acts from the funny books. He wants revenge, plain, simple, brutal revenge, and this is the grim, gritty, ultraviolent story of how he goes about his quest.

Monday, September 19, 2011

MIFFF Review: 'The Selling'

A big problem with films that present themselves as horror-comedies is that, all too often, they are neither frightening nor funny. In direct opposition to this trend, Emily Lou’s new film “The Selling” succeeds on both of these fronts—it is strong low-budget comedy and strong low-budget horror. There are consistent, legitimate laughs throughout, and, especially as the movie builds and progresses towards the climax, some solid ghost story action in the midst of all the humor.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

MIFFF Review: 'Midnight Son'

Almost immediately director Scott Leberecht’s new horror film “Midnight Son” calls to mind George Romero’s 1976 movie “Martin”. Both are ostensibly vampire movies, but vampire movies that tweak the formula and refuse to follow conventions. Gone are the gothic, overdramatic affectations that have permeated the genre for years, and let’s put it this way, this vampire certainly doesn’t sparkle or glint like a diamond in the sun.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

DVD Review: 'Spartacus: Gods of the Arena'

It feels strange to write a review of “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena” right now, just a short few days after the untimely passing of actor Andy Whitfield, who played the titular gladiator in “Spartacus: Blood and Sand”, the series that preceded “Gods of the Arena”. Despite the absence of Spartacus, and Whitfield, in “Gods of the Arena”, he looms in the background, largely because if not for Whitfield’s well-publicized battle with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, the six-episode mini-series likely wouldn’t have happened. When Whitfield was originally diagnosed he stepped down from the show, a huge hit for the Starz network. While producers of the show frantically searched for a new leading man, eventually selecting Liam McIntyre, the idea for “Gods of the Arena” first came about. It will be curious how the series carries on without Whitfield. The more I watched “Blood and Sand”, the more he carried the bulk of the workload, and he will be missed.

Friday, September 9, 2011

'Contagion' Movie Review

If you’re not already freaked the hell out by the idea of a global pandemic—some heretofore unknown and untreatable disease sweeping across the face of the Earth, leaving a trail of devastation and death—Steven Soderbergh’s (“Traffic”) latest movie, “Contagion”, might just do the trick. The film is a cold, almost clinical presentation of a virus that quickly mushrooms out of control, to the point that when you hear someone cough three rows behind you, you’ll want to bolt from the theater, douse yourself in hand sanitizer, and make a beeline for the hills.