Monday, December 31, 2012

Blu-Ray Review: 'The Wild Geese'/'Ashanti'

Since its inception a few years back, Severin Films has been on point, tracking down and unleashing cool and obscure genre fare that you won’t find anywhere else on DVD. And they’re back at it again with a new pair of nice Blu-rays of late 70s action and exploitation films, “The Wild Geese” and “Ashanti”.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Brent's Top Ten Films Of 2012

I couldn’t think of any clever or interesting takes on the end of the year list, so I’m going to stick with the old standby: the top ten (or so). These aren’t necessarily intended to be the best movies of the year in an objective sense. That’s a tough case to make for many of these. Regardless, here are my favorites of the year.

Monday, December 24, 2012

'Django Unchained' Movie Review

Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 spaghetti western, “Django”, is legendary as the film that launched 100 unofficial sequels. This is obvious hyperbole and urban legend—to date only 30-something are accounted for—but it still spawned a crap load of badass westerns. These movies run the gamut from trying to recreate the grim tone and setting of the original, to offerings like “Sukiyaki Western Django”, Takeshi Miike’s manic mod take on two feuding frontier clans.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

'Les Misérables' Movie Review

Having never read Victor Hugo’s novel, nor seen the legendary stage production, the vast majority of what I know about “Les Misérables” comes from an episode of “Animaniacs”. That said, I do love a good musical, and I rather enjoyed this long awaited film adaptation, though it is an up and down ride at times. Even if you’re not familiar with the play, you’ve heard these songs before, the cast is fantastic across the board, even people I don’t usually care for (Anne Hathaway, I’m looking at you), and the costumes and production design do a great job of making you feel like you’re in 19th century France. Everyone, even the upper class, are suitably grubby and smudged so that you believe they’ve spent their entire lives living in filth.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

'This Is 40' Movie Review

At this point you know exactly what you’re getting into when you sit down to watch a Judd Apatow movie. You’ll start out with some raucous, improvised humor—think frequent use of the word vagina and cursing at inappropriate moments. After a while there’s a big life complication that needs to be worked out, and at the end everybody hugs. This is the pattern for the movies he produces, the movies he writes, and the movies he directs. His latest opus, “This is 40”, never strays from this formula for a moment, and while it has worked for him in the past, it fails in comparison to his other films.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' Movie Review

It’s impossible for me to talk about “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” without first discussing the delivery mechanism. Over the past few months there has been much back and forth over the fact that director Peter Jackson planned to show the film in 48 frames per second, instead of the traditional 24. I’ve got to say, I don’t like it too much. The images do have a stunning clarity to them. In close up shots you can practically count each and every pore on an actor’s face. And it does seem to alleviate some of the eyestrain that pops up with 3D.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

'Deadfall' Movie Review

On the surface, Stefan Ruzowitzky’s crime-thriller “Deadfall” has a huge upside. When brother-sister robbers Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde) knock over a casino—Liza’s first big score—and make a clean getaway, things look good. On their way to the Canadian border things take a turn for the worse and problems arise, for the characters and the film. When they hit a deer and wander into the wilderness, a harsh Michigan blizzard forces them to separate and fend for themselves in the bleak, windswept tundra.

Monday, December 3, 2012

TV Review: 'The Walking Dead'-3.08-"Made To Suffer"

Many of us spent last season desperately waiting for something, anything to happen on AMC’s “The Walking Dead”. With the exception of last week’s episode, season three has done a fine job rectifying this situation. The mid-season finale, “Made to Suffer”, delivers more of the same.

Spoilers are waiting to tear into flesh, so tread lightly, lest you have your little mind blown.

Friday, November 30, 2012

'Killing Them Softly' Movie Review

The last time star Brad Pitt and writer/director Andrew Dominik teamed up was for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”. That film is a long, slow burn; drifting in and out of scenes, dream like at times. Despite the gradual, deliberate pace, there is a force behind the narrative. Their latest endeavor, “Killing Them Softly”, an adaptation of George V. Higgins’ novel “Cogan’s Trade”, aims for the same goal. This time, however, they miss the mark, and instead of a steady, measured tempo, the film sags and meanders. It goes nowhere, and in the end, even though the story reaches the only logical conclusion, it peters out and leaves you empty.

'The Collection' Movie Review

So, do all serial killers these days need tools and snares and an intricate system of booby traps in order to ply their trade? If the current trend in horror is to be believed, then yes, yes they do. I was hoping that we were going to leave that one to the “Saw” franchise, but from the looks of “The Collection”, that’s not going to happen. Granted, both writer/director Marcus Dunstan and writer Patrick Melton are veterans of that particular set of films (they also delivered “Feast”), so you should expect a device or two. Still, it’s gimmicky, and not particularly frightening.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

'Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning' Movie Review

When John’s (Scott Adkins) family is murdered in front of him, he sets out on a quest for to find the man who pulled the trigger, Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme). His journey takes him to some dark, unexpected places. That’s the basic plot to Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, the latest installment in a franchise that began in 1992. The film, however, takes that simple premise, and buries it beneath a big ol’ pile of crazy. Like Van Damme looking like psychotic clown crazy.

Monday, November 26, 2012

TV Review: 'The Walking Dead'-3.07-"When The Dead Come Knocking"

Well Glenn (Steven Yuen) certainly showed that he really is one tough son of a bitch in “When the Dead Come Knocking,” the latest episode of AMC’s “The Walking Dead”. There’s no doubt why he’s survived so long, and moving forward, no one will ever have reason to question his mettle again.

We’ll talk more about that, among many other topics, down below, but be warned, spoilers abound. They lurk everywhere, waiting strike when you least expect it. Proceed with caution, my friends.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

'Red Dawn' Movie Review

In the spirit of honesty, I’m a little bit ashamed about what I’m about to write, but here it goes. I like “Red Dawn”. And just to be clear, we’re talking about the unnecessary remake, not the 1984 John Milius original. As a fast-paced, low-brain-cell action flick, it turns out that “Red Dawn” is a lot of fun. As a movie with all of the trappings and trimmings of such a thing, it isn’t quite so successful. There isn’t much in the way of set up, or any of the elements that go into a traditional narrative. Here are a handful of people—I hesitate to call them characters. Most of them have names. Hey look, some ambiguous evil bad guys are parachuting out of the sky. Go!

'Life Of Pi' Movie Review

Giving Academy-Award-winning director Ang Lee access to 3D camera equipment and a modern-day fable like “Life of Pi” is the best idea anyone has had in a long time. He plays so much with depth field, color, and composition, that the end result is nothing short of breathtaking. Lee’s style and mechanics are the perfect delivery system for an epic tale of survival that borders on the world of magic realism. The heart of the story is, after all, the tale of a young boy and his tiger bro, engaged in the quirky tale of adventure, unlikely friendship, and an extraordinary existence. “Life of Pi” watches like a fairy tale.

Monday, November 19, 2012

TV Review: 'The Walking Dead-3.06-"Hounded"

When last we left Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” he had just picked up a telephone. And that’s how he spent the vast majority of last night’s episode, “Hounded”. Seriously, he was like a teenage girl this week, either ear glued to the receiver, or frantically checking to make sure the phone still works, waiting for the-most-important-phone-call-ever.

It should go without saying that there are major SPOILERS contained within. So if you haven’t watched “Hounded”, stop reading unless you want a lot of things ruined for you.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

'Skyfall' Movie Review

With “Casino Royale”, Daniel Craig stepped up and owned the living hell out of the role of James Bond. After Pierce Brosnan’s turn as the iconic British spy, which never felt like much more than a caricature of Sean Connery, Craig’s vaguely psychotic rendition of Bond brought life back to a franchise that had become stale. Craig plays the part with a callous coldness that gives a gritty, real-world edge to the character.

Monday, November 5, 2012

DVD Review: 'Maximum Conviction'

I’m a huge Steven Seagal fan, and have been for most of my life at this point. Films like “Out For Justice”, “Under Siege”, and “Hard to Kill” rank among my all-time favorites, and with a scarce few exceptions, I’ve seen every movie the man has made. Even with these qualifications, it’s getting harder and harder to watch the man’s new work. Over the last few years he’s become a bloated caricature of his former self, and nowhere is that more evident than in his new direct-to-video offering, “Maximum Conviction”.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

'Flight' Movie Review

“Flight” is less a movie about a plane crash, as you’ve been led to believe, than it is about a man facing off with his own personal demons. In this story those demons take the form of a severe battle with alcoholism. At its best, “Flight” resembles a cleaned up version of “Leaving Las Vegas” with airplanes. At the other end of the spectrum, the film is like a made-for-television cautionary tale about the evils of drink and excess, one that is just a little too clean, a little too easy and rosy-cheeked to ever truly get to the point it sets out to make. What keeps “Flight” from devolving into a full-fledged Lifetime melodrama are a strong beginning and Denzel Washington’s performance.

'Wreck-It Ralph' Movie Review

“Wreck-It Ralph”, the new animated feature from Disney, delivers exactly what you expect, nothing more. That isn’t to say it’s bad. In a vacuum this is a fun enough movie, the visuals are good (though the 3D feels unnecessary most of the time), and there are all the heartwarming moments you would expect from a family cartoon. The chief problem is that, at every single juncture, the film is predictable, and never shows anything beyond the most obvious levels. If you have kids they’ll likely fall in love with “Wreck-It Ralph”, and while parents have sat through much, much worse to appease their tots, “Wreck-It Ralph” is middle of the road at best.

'The Bay' Movie Review

Going into Barry Levinson’s new horror film, “The Bay”, you get the feeling that it could either be something really special, or fall flat on its face. The concept is certainly strong enough. A creepy creature infestation, unexplained fish/wildlife death, and a government cover-up, what’s not to like? On the other hand, this is yet another low budget found footage picture, and these are, at best, a hit and miss proposition to begin with.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

'Cloud Atlas' Movie Review

Everything about “Cloud Atlas”—the latest film from “The Matrix” helmers the Wachowskis and “Run Lola Run” director Tom Tykwer—is big. The film has a big cast—both in name and number—big ideas, big scope, big run time (172 minutes), and, for the most part, big payoff. And the biggest thing of all is the film’s ambition. Boy howdy do the filmmakers set out to accomplish a great many things in adapting David Mitchell’s best-selling novel. And the film features multiple references to “Soylent Green”, which is one surefire way to gain my favor.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

'Alex Cross' Movie Review

Answer this question: how did “Alex Cross” get a wide theatrical release? By all rights this film should have skipped over that entire process and gone straight to video without passing “Go” or any of the other clichés. Is it solely because of Tyler Perry? If so, good for him, because this movie has nothing else going for it. Okay, that’s not entirely true. “Alex Cross” is often hilarious, though unintentionally so. It’s like watching a caricature of an action movie. You keep waiting for a punch line that never comes.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

'Seven Psychopaths' Movie Review

Writer/director Martin McDonagh’s new film, “Seven Psychopaths”, has everything a dude wants out of a movie. It’s awash in violence, booze, laughter, dog thievery, and the titular madmen. Emphasis on the men. At one point, the protagonist, Marty (Colin Farell), a busted Irish screenwriter, is accused of only writing female characters so they can be killed off later. That charge has been leveled at McDonagh a time or two. We’re talking a testosterone-fueled, pseudo-road movie with a story that’s smart, quick-witted, and self-referential. Pulling off stories within stories, films within the film, the narrative is an endlessly inventive, looping spiral of dark humor, blood, and earnest emotion.

'Sinister' Movie Review

Though it isn’t going to blow any minds, and won’t win over a landslide of new horror fans, Scott Derrickson’s (“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”) latest outing, “Sinister”, is a solid spookfest. You’ll find some well-worn genre tropes—think creepy kids, mysterious footsteps in the empty attic, and a house that’s always dark, even in the middle of the day—and you’re going to chuckle a few times at some cheesy bits, but overall, the film accomplishes what it sets out to do.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

'Lloyd the Conqueror' Movie Review

It’s about damn time that LARPers get their day in the sun. Their pasty skin could use some rays. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, LARPing stands for Live Action Role Playing. Think “Dungeons & Dragons”, but instead of gathering in a dank, dark basement, the players take to parks and other public spaces in order to whack each other about the head and torso with foam swords, and to throw tinfoil balls at each other in lieu of lightning bolts and spells. This is the world explored by “Lloyd the Conqueror”.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

'Taken 2' Movie Review

Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is one pissed off dad. And he’s back for another round of daughter-protecting ass kicking in “Taken 2”. Sure, he’s a little stiffer, a little greyer, and things hurt a little more—he grimaces every time he stands up, like maybe he has bad knees. Still, he manages to bring it pretty well. “Taken 2” is predictable, comically serious, and in reality, kind of shitty. So of course a part of me loves it, though I won’t claim that it’s any good.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

'Looper' Movie Review

Writer/director Rian Johnson’s 2005 film “Brick” was a unique, inventive take on both hardboiled detective stories and teen drama. With his latest film, “Looper”, he takes on time travel, balancing numerous timelines, entwining stories from different eras, and even spinning a single character into multiple different personalities. This all sounds confusing, like it could easily become a jumbled mess of big ideas that wind up muddy and unclear. Lucky for you Johnson has an excellent sense for storytelling, and weaves all of the strands together into a clear narrative.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

'Headshot' Movie Review

Director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s  (“Last Life in the Universe”) “Headshot” begins in a quiet moment, with a man seated at a desk, gently keying a letter on a typewriter. Nice, right? Only the man has a gnarly neck scar, and the letter is an assassination order. The film that follows this inauspicious, though ominous opening is not so much an action movie as it is a badass character study. A sprawling, twisted crime story that bounces around in time, “Headshot” has cops, robbers, guns, and gangsters. Jarring bursts of violence set the stage to play with themes of identity, selfhood, spirituality, and the very nature of good and evil. All in all, this is fertile ground for a crime movie to dig into.

Friday, September 7, 2012

DVD Review: 'Screaming In High Heels: The Rise And Fall Of The Scream Queen Era'

One of the most iconic images in the horror genre is a beautiful woman, sometimes covered in blood, often topless, screaming in terror. These actresses became widely known as “scream queens”, and hold a special place in hearts of fanatics. By and large they began their careers as eye candy that existed on the periphery to add a little T&A, and to get killed off eventually. Over time, as they developed their own cult followings, these women became stars in their own right, carrying the films they appeared in rather than serving as window dressing. “Screaming in High Heels: the Rise and Fall of the Scream Queen Era”, a new documentary now on DVD, takes an in depth look at this strange and specific slice of popular culture.

Monday, September 3, 2012

'Loom' Short Sci-Fi Film From Luke Scott

An established commercial director in his own right, Luke Scott is stepping into the realm long-roamed by his famous father, Ridley Scott. That realm happens to be science fiction film, and from the look and feel of his short genre thriller, Loom, Luke has inherited a certain aesthetic sensibility and acumen from dear old dad.

Monday, August 27, 2012

DVD/Blu-Ray Review: 'The Walking Dead Season 2'

The second season of AMC’s zombie juggernaut “The Walking Dead”, now out on Blu-ray and DVD, is really a tale of two halves. Part one is chiefly concerned with the group, led by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), tracking down Sophia (Madison Lintz), a young girl in their party who gets lost amidst an undead swarm. The latter half of the season revolves around the escalating tension between Rick and Shane (John Bernthal).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

'Premium Rush' Movie Review

Hear that? That’s the sound of every bike messenger you’ve ever met getting a collective boner. While on paper writer/director David Koepp’s new movie “Premium Rush” sounds terrible, like they weren’t even trying to come up with a real narrative, the movie is actually a blast. It’s a hearty nod to 80’s underground sports movies like “Rad” and “Thrashin’”, though the most apt and obvious comparison is “Gleaming the Cube”. Those first two are ostensibly about the sports—BMX racing and skateboarding respectively—but “Gleaming the Cube” is a story where the characters just happen to be skate punks. “Premium Rush” is basically one long, extended chase scene, the primary characters simply happen to be New York City bike messengers.

'Cosmopolis' Movie Review

“Cosmopolis” is an interesting movie for a number of reasons. First and foremost is director David Cronenberg. That will always be a selling point. Second, it’s based on a Don Delillo novel, and while I have a hot and cold reaction the man’s work (loved “White Noise”, hated “Underworld”), his books are usually thought provoking at the very least. Finally, the film takes on a topic very much in the public eye, the current financial crisis, and with a strong anti-capitalist stance, it presets a viewpoint that you don’t often find in mainstream cinematic culture. While all of this is nice—that they’re trying to make a film that’s unique, that has a message—“Cosmopolis” isn’t a very good movie, and fails on a narrative level.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

'ParaNorman' Movie Review

Packaged and marketed as a kid’s movie, “ParaNorman”, the new stop-motion animated offering from Laika—the folks behind “Coraline”—is everything you want out of this kind of movie. This is a horror movie aimed at children, one that is also funny, touching, and, most importantly, full of legitimate frights. Death—in the form of ghosts, zombies, corpses, and the potential for characters to die—is an ever-present specter. At every turn there’s a realistic chance that happily-ever-after might not happen. Scares blend with a strange gallows humor to create a fantastic movie that will get you as pumped up as it gets your kids. Horror fans will love this, as there are copious nods to the genre, including, but not limited to “Halloween”, “Friday the 13th”, and Romero’s “Dead” trilogy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

'The Bourne Legacy' Movie Review

The legacy part of Tony Gilroy’s “The Bourne Legacy”—the new extension of the Robert Ludlum-based spy franchise—is forced and unnecessary. Throughout the film you get quick status updates on Jason Bourne. Someone mentions he was in Moscow recently, there’s a news report that he’s been involved in a shooting in New York, that sort of thing. Without actually appearing in the film, his presence looms large. You know it’s there to bind this installment to its predecessors, and once or twice would be fine, but this pattern persists. And it doesn’t stop at Bourne. Pamela Landy (Joan Allen), Noah Vosen (David Strathairn), Simon Ross (Paddy Considine), and more characters from the series, pop up for quick moments, for no other reason than to remind you that this is a “Bourne” movie.

Friday, August 3, 2012

'Total Recall' Movie Review

Walking into Len Wiseman’s “Total Recall”, you can’t help but wonder if you’re going to get a kickass action extravaganza or another unnecessary remake. To be honest, you get both. Best known for his “Underworld” movies, Wiseman is definitely a style-over-substance kind of director. For all their faults, however, his movies are never boring, and “Total Recall” is a slick science fiction actioner. It isn’t especially noteworthy, but neither is it terrible. This isn’t a film you need to see more than once, and even though it is ultimately forgettable, it keeps you entertained.

Monday, July 30, 2012

DVD/Blu-Ray Review: 'Hijacked'

Randy “the Natural” Couture is a great fighter, a legend in the sport of mixed martial arts, but god damn, people need to stop giving him lines in movies. For all his heart in the cage, for all his technical combative prowess, and world-class grappling background, the man is not a good actor. Which is too bad, because he comes across as such a good dude, and he does have an imposing physical presence on the screen. But every time he opens his mouth you have to groan. Maybe he’ll get there, after all, he spent years learning to pummel people better, not necessarily to tap into his internal reservoirs in order to evoke emotions. His role in “The Expendables” is about as much as you can take, and he shouldn’t be saddled with the burden of carrying an entire film. Nowhere is this more evident than in Couture’s unfortunate new action film “Hijacked”.

Monday, July 16, 2012

'King Curling' Movie Review

Who out there has always wanted to see a Norwegian curling comedy? Thought so. That’s the precise thrill that Ole Endresen’s film “King Curling” provides. While there are obvious parallels with the Coen Brothers’ “Big Lebowski”, and aesthetic similarities to Wes Anderson’s movies, “King Curling” transcends simple comparison. This film stands alone as a hilarious, heartfelt story of obsession, friendship, and most importantly, sliding a heavy rock across a sheet of ice. Curling may, in fact, be the ultimate in athletic competition.  Superimposing a traditional redemptive sports story onto a sport that most of us know little to nothing about, “King Curling” has a lot of fun twisting and tinkering with every sports cliché in the book.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

'V/H/S' Movie Review

“V/H/S” is a weird movie because I enjoy it much more in retrospect than I did sitting in the theater. There are some elements that will delight horror fans, but there are moments of extreme frustration as well. “V/H/S” is another in the line of recent horror anthology films, and features a who’s who of hot young independent horror directors. Radio Silence, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, and Joe Swanberg all take a turn at the helm. The individual pieces of “V/H/S” are, for the most part, solid standalone horror shorts, and many of them have great, stand out elements. You will have to have a high tolerance for douche bags to watch “V/H/S”, but you’ll enjoy watching most of the characters die. How the pieces of the puzzle come together, or in this case, how they don’t, is the central problem with the film.

Friday, July 6, 2012

'Savages' Movie Review

Taylor Kitsch needs a hit like a crackhead. So far this year the “Friday Night Lights” alum has been in “John Carter” and “Battleship”, two of the biggest critical and financial disasters in recent movie history. He needs something to get him out of the gutter. Unfortunately for him, “Savages”, Oliver Stone’s adaptation of Don Winslow’s 2010 novel, won’t be that movie. The Day-Glo film noir is too violent to attract massive mainstream audiences—at times the film edges dangerously near torture porn. Stone has an eye for visual style, there is some striking imagery, but in the end there is very little in the way of substance.

Monday, July 2, 2012

'The Amazing Spider-Man' Movie Review

Here’s the deal with Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man”: it’s good; it’s fine. There is, however, a but. We’ll get to that. There’s web-slinging adventure, a good amount of fun, and some wonderful actors giving solid performances. Andrew Garfield has the wise cracking, awkward loner thing down pat, and pulls off a near perfect Peter Parker. Emma Stone’s take on Gwen Stacey is charming, adorable, and in a couple moments, heartbreaking. This isn’t a perfect movie, by far, but overall “The Amazing Spider-Man” ends up a decent summertime popcorn movie. But, is fine good enough for Marvel? Will decent cut it? Given the hot streak they’ve been on, especially with the massive success of “The Avengers”, this will never be more than a slight disappointment.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

'Ted' Movie Review

Seth MacFarlane’s foul-mouthed buddy comedy “Ted” is surprising. Not because of the story—there is nothing at all unusual there—but because it’s actually pretty funny. It isn’t brilliant, or game changing, or anything like that, but it’s amusing enough. I’m one of the legions who have long since abandoned MacFarlane’s most well known product, “Family Guy”. The “do something enough times it automatically becomes funny” has run its course, and you can only watch an extended fist fight between Peter Griffin and a giant chicken so many times before you’ve had enough. While the story of “Ted” is painfully bland and obvious—you know exactly what is coming every step of the way—MacFarlane avoids some the pitfalls “Family Guy” is prone to.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

DVD Review: 'Bullhead'

Michael R. Roskam’s Oscar-nominated crime film “Bullhead” begins with a voice over prologue. This one line sums things up: “One thing is for sure, you’re always fucked.” With that single statement the mood is set, and you know that the characters are going to be caught in a web they can’t escape from. Call it destiny, call it fate; whatever it is, it has its claws in deep and isn’t about to let go. “Bullhead” is a story of revenge, of a tormented past, of trying to make sense of things that make no sense.

Monday, June 11, 2012

SIFF Review: 'Earthbound'

Isn’t what every child wants to hear is that they’re special? That their life means something big and important? That no matter how mundane, humdrum, and otherwise unspectacular their daily existence is, the truth is that they matter? This is the basic premise behind the Irish sci-fi romance Earthbound, which made its world premiere recently at the Seattle International Film Festival. Writer/director Alan Brennan’s debut feature is witty, funny, quixotic, and at times heartbreaking.

Friday, June 8, 2012

'Moonrise Kingdom' Movie Review

“Moonrise Kingdom” isn’t going to convert any Wes Anderson naysayers. He may as well have autographed every single frame of this movie, that’s how easily identifiable this is as his work. Every little trick and trademark is on display, from quirky, deadpan characters, to shots that track from room to room in sets that resemble giant dollhouses. Even though this an uneven ride at times, “Moonrise Kingdom” is Anderson’s best film in years. The film stars off slow, downright rocky in fact, but eventually, when you get into the heart of the story, it’s engrossing, genuinely touching, and even a touch adventurous.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

SIFF Review: 'Countdown'

Tae Gun-ho (Jeong Jae-yeong) is a badass in the classic tough guy vein. Watching him in South Korean director Huh Jong-ho’s thriller “Countdown”, you can’t help but be reminded of guys like Steve McQueen or Jack Lord. He wears straight, simple suits, doesn’t say much, and doesn’t get traditionally angry, but he’ll take you down regardless. And the man can certainly fight with a high-powered tazer.

SIFF Review: 'Safety Not Guaranteed'

Aubrey Plaza definitely has a niche. She’s got the indie market cornered on snarky, disaffected twenty-something cynicism. But there’s heart in there, too, and nowhere is that more on display than in director Colin Trevorrow’s low-budget time travel comedy Safety Not Guaranteed. The film is funny, inventive, tinged with sadness, but also hope.

Monday, June 4, 2012

SIFF Review: 'Remington and the Curse of the Zombadings'

When I first came across “Remington and the Curse of the Zombadings” a few years ago, part of me assumed I would never, ever hear that name again. However, I also knew another part would always hopefully wonder about it. After all, a gay zombie comedy from the Philippines? That might be too much for one man to ask for.

Friday, June 1, 2012

'Snow White and the Huntsman' Movie Review

In this day and age it is unusual, to say the least, for a filmmaker not to allow the protagonist in a movie to speak, but that’s the case with first-time director Rupert Sanders’ “Snow White and the Huntsman”. Kristen Stewart plays the beloved fairy tale princess, but barely says a word.  Almost everything you learn about the character, which admittedly isn’t much, other people tell you. You constantly hear about how good and pure and innocent she is, but you never see her embody these qualities. The same goes for her beauty. That dead horse is beaten into the ground, but you’re never allowed to sit back, gather information, and decide for yourself.

Monday, May 28, 2012

SIFF Review: 'Citadel'

Writer/director Ciaran Foy’s “Citadel” is the creepiest, most affecting horror movie I’ve seen in quite some time. The film draws strength from a variety of sources, leaning heavily on supernatural and religious overtones. The true frights, however, come from the questions at the heart of “Citadel”. Is the source of this terror otherworldly, some “other”? Is it even real, or simply the paranoia of a sick mind? Or, most terrifyingly, is it a symptom of society gone wrong, of the evil lurking within humanity left alone to dwell and evolve into some hideous creature? It is easy to see why this film won the midnight award at SXSW. “Citadel” climbs into you skull and sticks around long after you walk away.