VIOLET (2014)

Written & Directed By: Bas Devos

Cinematography: Nicolas Karakatsanis

Editor: Dieter Diependaele

Cast: Cesar De Sutter, Koen De Sutter, Mira Helmer, Brent Minne, Fania Sorel

15-year-old Jesse is the only one who witnessed the stabbing of his friend Jonas. Now he has to face his family and friends form the BMX riders crew and explain the unexplainable – how he feels about it.

If not Into impressionistic and experimental films this is not the film for you.

As it seems as not much happens and everything happens as we watch a young teen come to grips with his feelings about witnessing his friends endlessly get murdered and we see how this murder affects those around him including the victim’s family but not much happens and everything happens

Obviously heavy emotionally we see the pain and feelings on others’ faces but the main. Teen is expressionless either trying to come. To grips with his feelings or trying to feel something as very one is expecting it but doesn’t know howS

If you look, For a more Plot centered film, this is not for you. If you want to watch a study in grief where the film keeps a slow pace and is more about the everyday this is for you.

There are some striking shots and visuals but that is all there is as the film feels simplistic but wants to show a certain depth. It achieves what it aims for and while some might be able to get something or at least what they seek out of it.

It personally leaves one cold. A slice of Life and a sort of coming of age that for a film that showcases life feels lifeless itself. 

As less like witnessing and just watching a bunch of shots comes together that might have been glorious b roll footage for another film. Though at least here it has some kind of meaning for you to take away. Define for yourself 

Plotless and lacking any kind of dramatics at least traditionally almost like improv where you are meant to assign what they are thinking or feeling by little clues as to their expressions or behavior 

Though an audience is left to see the film’s worth. As the film does try to connect but leaves you to pick up the pieces.

So it is almost like the lead character who will not give anyone anything emotionally but as we are connected to him as our protagonist we try to figure him out abs kind of put our own thoughts and concerns on display in our minds 

Some could easily call this lazy filmmaking but the filmmaker is more interested in getting a reaction from the audience that the film lacks by letting visuals and sound linger more than anything documenting with a cinematic flair rather than aiming the story or narrative in any particular way or direction.

Depending on. What you came to the film for Will predict your interpretation or any kind of entertainment/enjoyment you might get.

This is more of a film. To be studied and presented at a museum as an exhibit  than anything else traditional 

Throughout it seems that like the lead, No one Knows how to communicate really. 

Alas it feels like you are sitting around for a scene or a moment where it all makes sense or just idiots that you have been sitting through and it never comes 

A lot of lingering shots of nothing really happening that individuals come to nothing but as a whole might come together to mean something or at least that is my interpretation. 

A Movie that director Gus Van Sant would have loved to have made. A movie where it seems like the filmmaker wants you to do most of the work like CACHE.

As this is just a presentation and they want you to come up with what you think it’s about and connect things in your own way

Grade: C


Directed By: John Slattery 
Written By: Alex Metcalf & John Slattery 
Based on the Novel By: Pete Dexter 
 Cinematography By: Lance Acord 
Editor: Tom McArdle 

Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Turturro, Richard Jenkins, Joyce Van Patten, Eddie Marsan, Christina Hendricks, Molly Price, Dominic Lombardozzi, Caleb Landry Jones, Sophie Takal 

When Mickey’s crazy step-son Leon is killed in a construction ‘accident’, nobody in the working-class neighborhood of God’s Pocket is sorry he’s gone. Mickey tries to bury the bad news with the body, but when the boy’s mother demands the truth, Mickey finds himself stuck in a life-and-death struggle between a body he can’t bury, a wife he can’t please, and a debt he can’t pay

This is a film that’s hard to describe as the fact that you have seen stories like this on-screen before. Though this one feels strangely authentic and that is the scary part. As the film is so downtrodden it seems almost the product of nightmares.

Luckily the film stays low-key. It goes by quickly and with nary a kick. Though it takes its time to tell its story. It doesn’t feel like it’s dragging. It’s surprisingly lean, though it feels indulgent. There is no real fat in the film.

The film has an amazing group of actors, who are all good and believable. You only wish the film had more to give them as far as story and quality. While the film relies heavily on the atmosphere it feels at times like it has very few places to go. It presents circumstances and challenges but very little action and story.

This being one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last performances it is noteworthy as he is our put upon the protagonist. Trying to figure his way out of an increasingly sticky situation. While also being his own worst enemy. He seems to be one of the few semi-decent characters who while not being from the neighborhood which everyone reminds him. Still seems very much the product of it as he seems to fit perfectly in.

The film is the story of more a neighborhood that seems to be its own trap. We just watch the inhabitants as they go about their day-to-day life. The main story selling point the death of a young man seems to be just one of those things. An act of senseless violence. That seems like it will become some story of the investigation and seeking justice. Though it ends up just being a catalyst for changes and actions for some characters and setting in motion events.

The film seems constantly depressing as the characters seem to always make the wrong decisions and there is little to no humanity. Everyone is out for themselves. Anytime there is humanity shown it is rather surprising and usually followed by acts of merciless violence.

Christina Hendricks continues to come across as a desirable screen icon. She is luminous and beautiful and though she plays a grieving mother. Later in the film, as she seems to be irresistible to any male. She seems oddly emotionless as her character knows better yet is shocked by the attention paid to her. She commits an act but does so with what seems little care. That has incriminating results that she oddly seems to have no concerns about. Though they affect her.

Richard Jenkins truly makes a mark as a columnist in the middle of all this investigation. While being from the neighborhood has his own demons to deal with while trying to get the story. As he is easily distracted and we get some clues for his condition. We observe his questionable prowess with women also.

In fact, the entire third act of the film becomes strange at how quickly the neighborhood turns from favorable to certain inhabitants to just pure hate and the reason seems rather thin. Like it happens more because the script and story demand it rather than naturally or organically.

John Slattery making his feature film debut, Picked an exemplary story to tell. It always seems when actors choose to direct they pick material more character-based and depressing that has to be gritty to bring more of a reality, but smartly pick material that allows for an ensemble to play off of and includes actors friends who are more the character actor types. He could have done slot worse in the material.

The film at times feels like it is trying too hard to be gritty and showcase all his grime and crime. Then at other times it wisely becomes more understated.

The film has a strangely happy ending or as close as this type of film can have.

This is a film that feels in the same world as TREE’S LOUNGE only not as optimistic and also would go well with a viewing of THE DROP only this is less exciting and feels more authentic.

Grade: B-


Directed By: John Pogue 
Written By: Craig Rosenberg, John Pogue & Oren Moverman 
Based on A Screenplay by: Tom De Ville 
Cinematography By: Matyas Erdely 
Editor: Glenn Garland  

Cast: Sam Claflin, Olivia Cooke, Jared Harris, Erin Richards, Rory Fleck-Byrne, Laurie Calvert

In 1974, in Oxford, Professor Joseph Coupland invites his introspective student Brian McNeil to film his research about the supernatural with his two assistants, Krissi Dalton and Harry Abrams, and the subject Jane Harper. Jane is a young woman with no memory from the past that has been abandoned that believes she is possessed by a doll named Evey that gives telekinetic power to her. She is kept awake in an isolated house with a doll, where Prof. Coupland intends that she puts her evil energy in and then destroys the doll to healing Jane. Strange things happen in the house and Brian feels sorry for Jane and he researches her tattoo, learning an evil secret about the past of Jane.

Filmed in 2012, it sat unreleased until 2014. Which is never good, though doesn’t make this too horrible. It’s actually decent and not a total waste.

I have to say I enjoyed this film more than expected. Not as bad as I thought initially going in, but still not quite a winner either. Though it is a welcome entry into, the hammer canon of films.

The film. fits the pedigree of being a hammer film. By being quite dated in the time that it is set in. It also has the distinction of keeping a chilling atmosphere as it goes along.

While it is better in Quality the film isn’t as fun or moving as John Pogue’s Previous Directorial Debut, QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL which is a personal guilty pleasure.

The film chooses to have an Unsettling mood and scares of its bag of tricks rather than gore and violence. I applaud it for as we go through the film we feel an increasing amount of dread as we realize the characters are not prepared for what they are messing with. It becomes thrilling towards the middle though it also starts to become predictable when it begins to reveal itself.

The script was heavily rewritten for budget reasons. Which might explain the more singular locations. Leaving It to feel more creative working with what they have and giving a more haunting atmosphere.

Of course, I am not a natural fan of ghost stories so it took me a bit to get into it. Especially when the action takes place mostly in an abandoned manor that only the characters will inhabit. In other words, waiting around like sitting ducks.

I like the fact that the film shows characters come to their sense and trying to leave, by being pulled back as they aren’t safe anywhere. Unless they face off with whatever is haunting them.

Though it is not above some skin by having actress Erin Richards constantly in revealing, tight clothes as well as reasons for shots that seem to have a reason for her backside to be featured in a few shots. That I will admit are small but became distracting for me.

Though the film deals with adult themes the violence and scenes stay on a strictly PG-13 level and become obvious they must keep to their rating when certain scenes keep escalating then the camera seems to pull away or shy away from the actual act and comes back to show only the aftermath in flashes.

The film has a more gothic atmosphere it reminds one of the more classic horror tales. Especially being more set in the ’70s

It also dips its toe into being partially a found footage film to cover its fan bases and make sure some modern audience members especially the younger members.

The film’s weaknesses however are its a central story that IF unbelievable that it isn’t supernatural, occurrences just telepathy at work with a vivid imagination of suggestion. That seems ridiculous plus add in a reason to have a good footage element that while smart in its introduction feels like a reason to add in that cliche.

The film is able to hold your attention as you watch, though after it is easily forgettable, but most likely will just be confused with memories of other similar and maybe even better or worse films.

Wait To rent, though with other films

Grade: C


Directed By: Andrea Di Stefano 
Written By: Andrea Di Stefano & Francesca Marciano 
Cinematography By: Luis David Sansans 
Editor: David Brenner & Maryline Monthieux 

Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Brady Corbet, Benicio Del Toro, Claudia Traisac, Ana Girardot, Carlos Bardem 

Nicko and his brother take off from Canada in search of an easier life on the beaches of Colombia. Nicko meets a girl in the local village and they quickly fall in love, only for Nicko to later find out that Maria’s uncle is the drug trafficker, Pablo Escobar. His life takes a dramatic turn after meeting El Patron, and Nick is forced into impossible situations to try and keep his family safe, but does Pablo have other ideas?

The film is really shocking in its brutality and cruelty. The film shows, considering when the film first begins you believe it will probably stay on the fringes. Though slowly the film brings you in deeper as the character does. Until we are all in the middle.

Benicio Del Toro is top-notch though he is in throughout the film. Kind of haunting the scenes have isn’t in. He appears only in probably less than half of the film. You want to see more of him. Though him being a phantom character worked well. Like a horror film villain, you can’t wait to appear. Just as mean-spirited. Luckily the film doesn’t turn into a biography of his crimes.

What is not too hard to believe is that the main character doesn’t hide disillusionment well so I would suspect or not totally trust him one hundred percent either.

Hard to believe he didn’t see how dangerous and deadly he is though fictional was still riveting. as at first thought, it was based on a true story then realized it was impossible. For that reason thought the film would be filled with more hope

The last act is thrilling and filled with tension. Not so much action. The beginning of the film is kind of confusing as it seems to have quick flashes of aftermath edited together, but you can tell happened in different time periods.

I believe the film works just as it does for people discovering Pablo Escobar. At first, he seems like a genial nice guy. The boy realizes how ruthless, violent and brutal he can be. Just as the violence in the film comes more in the second half of the film.

Josh Hutcherson does what is required doesn’t really become effective until the last act when everything is on the line and vital as he is trying to escape. Though you wonder why his family didn’t leave earlier?

Too bad he doesn’t match the performance he is playing off of, but then again one is an acclaimed seasoned actor playing a charismatic larger-than-life role. At least he gets to try to match him. He stands his own, but not as memorable.

Would have been interested to learn more about the history of Pablo Escobar through enough films, television, Nolan, and information. This has a nice general overview.

It’s not an undercover tale, more a should have known better and what if kind of movies. Related it for more an American audience by putting a character we can relate to in this international situation and sensation.

Part of Making film more than just a potboiler is slowly presenting the thriller and dangerous moments and making the film about Pablo Escobar. Even if he is more in the background. even though the Canadian story could have been any random Colombians story who happened to cross paths close to Pablo Escobar.

Wish the film set its roots a little more rather than seeming like it speeds up to match its thriller premise when at first seems more like a drama.

Also not believable when he has tons of family, children, siblings that he moves his niece and her boyfriend into his living quarters. Even if he is Canadian. One would think he could use him more as an asset instead of all of a sudden seeing him as a burden.

One could see if it was more a result of him testing him and failing instead of guessing he needed a job done and all who could know except for him. The vital details eliminated, whereas henchman only knows the beginning and end. They don’t know the middle

Grade: C+

ROBOCOP (2014)

Directed By: Jose Padilha
Written By: Joshua Zetumer
Based On The Original 1987 Screenplay By: Edward Neumeier & Michael Miner Cinematography By: Lula Carvalho
Editor: Peter McNulty & Daniel Rezende

Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Michael K. Williams, Jay Baruchel, Jackie Earle Haley, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Ehle, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Aimee Garcia

In RoboCop, the year is 2028 and multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology. Overseas, their drones have been used by the military for years – and it’s meant billions for OmniCorp’s bottom line. Now OmniCorp wants to bring their controversial technology to the home front, and they see a golden opportunity to do it. When Alex Murphy – a loving husband, father and good cop doing his best to stem the tide of crime and corruption in Detroit – is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp sees their chance for a part-man, part-robot police officer. OmniCorp envisions a RoboCop in every city and even more billions for their shareholders, but they never counted on one thing: there is still a man inside the machine pursuing justice.

Though a sanitized version of the original. This film retains some of the original aspects of the film. While managing to care about its own identity that is somewhat noteworthy and is better at being a reboot than something like TOTAL RECALL which tried too hard to be a virtual remake with all the greatest hits they try to change it around.

The film tries to be somewhat satirical with a lot less bite. It is strangely more on point and cynical though takes the time to explain as feels more Of the time whereas the original always felt futuristic.

The film allows the director Jose Padilha (ELITE SQUAD) to keep his hand-held style of filming and guerrilla, you are their filmmaking skills.

The original ROBOCOP was more memorable as it looked accomplished for a film with such a low budget. In this film, you see the big-budget onscreen. No one essentially embarrasses themselves. The film just feels basic by the end. Nothing really to give it an identity or make it memorable. Especially when it already has so many naysayers against It just for being made as the film is still relevant and remembered. At least this film tries to be an honest reboot.

The changes really hammer home some points. The revealing scene of what is left of him is really a gripping scene aided by impressive special effects.

The film is more excessive in price and scope than the original which was more excessive In Behavior, violence, and action. Now of course the studio wants the film to appeal to broader demographics. So it is softened torn a hard R to a pg-13 rating aim end more at a younger audience.
Director Jose Padilha and actor Joel Kinnaman fought hard for an R rating, but due to the ever-expanding budget, which went from a modest $60 million budget and ballooned to a $120 million budget, studio executives were forced to deliver a PG-13 rating in hopes to recoup the budget they had spent on the film. Throughout the course of filming, studio executives kept a close eye on Padilha, making sure he was going to deliver a PG-13 rating. At least this film comes off as more questioning the ethics of the situation. Which is either modern-day or futures

This version of ROBOCOP feels more like a comic book version that would have been understandable for popularity amongst kids in the 80’s. Whereas the original first two films from the ’80s were seen by a generation who were probably too young to see the film and despite its rating still managed to become an iconic hero mostly to kids. While being so jetted I gross violence on screen. Featuring drugs and having a more graphic satirical cynical nature.

I love the original I was one of those who saw the film way too young and loved it. Though didn’t understand it 100%, not the ramifications of what I was exactly seeing. Nick Schenk and James Vanderbilt are among the few uncredited writers who have entirely rewritten Joshua Zetumer’s screenplay.

The satire tries for reaching reactions but brings up a subject we already know to showcase. Though his is all comparative and goes against the film leaving its own identity barren as it is always being compared to its original or a similar film. Like MEMENTO and THE SALTON SEA have similar storylines through different points, direction and showcases its own story and plot in different ways

The film feels more like a video game at times but is kept realistically vivid.

It’s nice when a film manages to surprise you and is much better in quality than it was suspected and I can admit when I was wrong on the first impression. Someone’s the same can be said about people…even me.

Like MINORITY REPORT it is part of the idea that this new technology is good for keeping statistics down a bit at what cost.

Watching ROBOCOP remade and marketed as a machine feels a bit like behind the scenes of how maybe the film was made itself very meta.

I found it interesting how he is seen as a club or in the original design. Though once the new design comes into play the film moves up and a new identity takes off. That the film begins to suffer. The action scenes aren’t anything special and feel basic. Losing the part of the personality a measurement the audience came specifically to see.

I can see why the well-regarded cast chooses to be in the film. Especially Michael Keaton who makes an interesting return to form.

Jackie Earl Haley hilarious in his role wish there was more of him in the film. Other than a small role and a return towards the end.

Gary Oldman has his own Doctor Frankenstein type role starts off the film innocent, but finds himself falling in line with his employers as they give him more than he can ever want and interested to see how his invention plays out and reacts. Which also informs the audience. Though it is nice to see the original film batman in scenes with the reboots Commissioner Jim Gordon

Samuel l. Jackson’s role in this film feels like a more well spoken. J. Jonah Jameson from SPIDER-MAN for this franchise.

Interesting angle as we watch Alex Murphy not only deal with his new life change but also as he pieces together his own murder. Doesn’t seem to be as grand a plan as more random.

There is also a revenge plot that is dropped then brought up and then passes to the side as simple. For bigger machinations. Though leaves no closure as to the details.

Then there is a character change that you kind of know is coming. Though still feels strange once it happens, Once the villain is revealed. A villain more of morals I guess more than actual acts, but supervised to a degree and gave the go-ahead. It gets a little false and generalized not the individual but more what he represents and his ideas.

It tries to impart thy everyone has a price, only those who are truly brave and honest don’t

While they were successful in the making of the film and can understand why the project was greenlit. It would have been great if the film just wasn’t ROBOCOP. And was just an action film under a new name and characters. Redesigning the suit to be more updated and flexible doesn’t help. Though that point is handled well in the film as both an homage and representation. After having his time goes back to the original model. The same we in the audience have known.

I can admit I wondered I they made a sequel where would it head.



Directed By: Bennett Miller 
Written By: E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman 
 Cinematography By: Greg Fraser 
Editor: Jay Cassidy, Stuart Levy and Conor O’Neill 

Cast: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave, Anthony Michael Hall, Guy Boyd, Brett Rice

The greatest Olympic Wrestling Champion brother team joins Team Foxcatcher led by multimillionaire sponsor John E. du Pont as they train for the 1988 games in Seoul – a union that leads to unlikely circumstances.

The film sets a brooding tone from the beginning, Which feels like the air has been let out of the room throughout the film.

Seeing the humiliation and what life is like in his brothers’ shadow. it seems is already its own tragedy of sorts. The story is told stilted yet matter-of-factly. While it seems each gesture even in behavior is presented almost under a microscope as its own action, As far as detail. Proving that in this film everything means something no matter how minor or even if dealt with in an off-handed way. So that the film feels more like a clinical behavioral study with precision angles.

I give the director Bennett Miller accolades for sticking with his singular vision for the film. His style helps not only define the film but showcases his style as well. Which seems to be more clinical and observational.

In this film, it is the deepest we have seen Channing Tatum ever and not quite surprisingly as good as 21 JUMP STREET. Where he proved he could be intentionally funny in a star-making turn. Here he plays the type of character you would expect, but rather than a general type of character here the film gives him nuances and a certain depth. Not letting him fall and not letting him avoid and go into his bag of tricks as an actor. You feel him really being open and raw in this performance. Having to truly work more than ever before in this role.

At first, Steve Carell seems like a stunt casting in his role. He seems to be trying to break out of strictly comedic roles here. Unfortunately, he seems to become more of a slave to the prosthetics used on him. It could also be that they were so distracting it’s hard to pay particular attention to the complexities of his performance. Though as with many comedic actors he plays well in the confines of drama as serious, disturbed, and strange. Almost feels like a Real-Life Version of the strange comedic character Dan Ackroyd played in NOTHING BUT TROUBLE only not as loud.

Just as in DAN IN REAL LIFE and SEEKING A FRIEND AT THE END OF THE WORLD playing a vulnerable character suits him and he attacks the role with more relish. He tries harder. Taking it as a challenge and running with it. More than he does with comedy, which is his natural talent, and more in his training. Not seeking to be one thing or play one note. Showing his range.

Mark Ruffalo is good though his character is already set up as a saint and martyr and he might be playing the person as he actually was. Good-hearted and that is what makes what happens so heartbreaking. Here he gives the character shades and is obviously important to the story. He seems to be the only character who has sense and is a sobering presence to the lunacy of the other main characters dementia of sorts. 

Before filming a particularly dark scene, Bennett Miller made Steve Carell write on a piece of paper the thing that he hates the most about himself and then put it in his pocket. Miller told Carell, “Just have it right there, and know that it’s in a place where, if I was a dick, I could just grab it.” According to Miller, the result is the favorite thing that he has put on film.

Because the project took so many years to get off the ground, many actors were considered for the lead roles. Heath Ledger, Ryan Gosling, and Bill Nighy were strongly considered for the lead roles in the early stages of production.

More is said in silence and behavior throughout the film. It’s like a tragic buddy film. As soon as the main character’s relationship is close but ambiguous and never quite fully explained but suggestions are made silently as to the lengths of it.

The film never seems to drop its air of impending doom and tragedy. Setting a chilly mood and tone that never lets up and leaves things implied rather than explained.

Both characters are in a struggle to define themselves and impress family and others by standing on their own and defining themselves separate from how others might see them. Most of all they seem desperate to prove to themselves that they are more than the roles they have been offered in life. Then living up to it. Though one brings it about himself and the person, he is trying to prove himself to is more himself than his brother who is already proud of him. The other seems lost in his own mind to define himself not by actual talent but by what he finds interest in. As he has been given mostly what he has ever wanted and seems not to be that successful at it. But he has a passion it seems to showcase actual work and/or talent.

Eventually, the film leads to strained relations that seem to revolve between the characters at different intervals that keep seeming to mount more and more that you can feel that it is going to surface and bubble over at some point.

When it does it does rather simply and more out of the blue rather than. A showcase or a spectacular scene. I guess it’s like the facts just random and ordinary.

According to Bennett Miller’s comments at screening, a rough cut of the film was more than four hours long.

Steve Carell claimed that according to director Bennett Miller’s wishes there was no joking between takes, and he did not socialize with the co-stars after work.

According to Steve Carell, the real John DuPont was known for even more outlandish behavior than what is shown in the film, but he and director Bennett Miller wanted his madness to be gradually revealed to the audience.

The third act of deep resentment festering until a final act that you know is coming. Though still feels surprising when it happens and is just as senseless in the act as in the reasons.

The film feels downtrodden. It is based on a true story and real events. Though it keeps the story singular. It also makes the film feel barren and an island in of itself.

Too much of the people who love the good life. Go to extremes to feel something new and different. That registers and that they grant in control of to feel accomplishment in themselves. Here no one gets what they set out for, and their grand plan seems to doom them all to places that might have been inevitable but none planned to end up that way.

It’s a tragedy that feels like a boom as it sets the mood. It seems to be more about what is written between the lines though tells you the story fully as it happens. Nothing feels hidden.

The film ultimately comes off as a bit disappointing as we wallow but are given hints yet no definitive answers. The film immerses us in the drama and relationships yet still keeps them in the shadows a bit.

Grade: B


Directed By: Ross Katz
Written By: Jeff Cox & Liz Flahive
Story By: Nick Kroll, Jeff Cox & Liz Flahive
Cinematography By: Vanja Cernjul
Editor: Paul Frank

Cast: Nick Kroll, Rose Byrne, Bobby Canavale, Joel McHale, Bobby Moynihan, Paula Garces, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Jane Krakowski, Mike Birbiglia, Jason Mantzoukas, Sarah Steele, Josh Charles, Julia White, Jeffrey DeMunn, Seth Barrish 

A young, narcissistic entrepreneur crashes and burns on the eve of his company’s big launch. With his entire life in total disarray, he leaves Manhattan to move in with his estranged pregnant sister, brother-in-law and 3-year-old nephew in the suburbs – only to become their nanny.

This isn’t a film that exactly reinvents the wheel. It is obvious, so obvious it almost feel sitcom comical. Though it does have a sweetness to it and a nice albeit lite message.

The film is rather basic and simple. As we watch middle aged characters. Afraid truly of growing up and taking responsibility and slowly learn how to do that. As they must. As they seem to be coasting through life, but not ready to come to grips with responsibility and the future

As the characters all have an idea in their head of where they would be at and what they should be doing. They have all made it to a degree but wonder now what. As they find themselves unhappy and dissatisfied. We watch their journey as at first it seems they will have to make it on their own as they don’t trust one another. Though as the film goes along we watch them depend on one another. Then betray one another of sorts.

The film is essentially about family and learning life lessons. Luckily the film and direction have a very lite and soft hand. So it never becomes too jaded or heavy handed. As we watch the characters in raising a child finally learn to grow up. With plenty of comedic hijinks that get to the point rather quickly.

Nick Kroll is more serious then we see him usually though is still in a majorly comedic role. So it’s nice to see his range.

Rose Byrne is fun in her role which seems like it will be more of a tragic. Though through the subtlety of her role makes it memorable and quite cute. As she seems to be the most fragile but also level headed character. 

Bobby Canavale is more the link head who is messing up and knows better but is looking to love past glories and hope it will revitalize his life. Though he knows what is at stake and what he could lose.

The rest of the cast is fine. Though not necessarily strong and noteworthy.

The unexpected rears it’s ugly head as characters you believe will be helpful and fun end up being more mean spirited but at least feel true. Showing the harshness of the world they live in and how they can only really depend on one another.The film does lend itself to plenty of comedic moments. As the cast is made up of comedic performers. The moments don’t come off as natural and more at tie a as send up’s of types of people, but they do work.

I would say wait for cable for this one.

Grade: C

TOP FIVE (2014)

Written & Directed By: Chris Rock 
Cinematography By: Manuel Alberto Claro 
Editor: Annie McGabe 

Cast: Chris Rock, Gabrielle Union, Romany Malco, J.B. Smoove, Rosario Dawson, Anders Holm, Leslie Jones, Kevin Hart, Michael Che, Jay Pharoah, Ben Vereen, Cedric The Entertainer, Karlie Redd, Sherri Shepherd, Tracy Morgan, Hayley Marie Norman, Brian Regan, Tichina Arnold, Luis Guzman, Sherrod Small

A comedian tries to make it as a serious actor when his reality-TV star fiancée talks him into broadcasting their wedding on her TV show.

This more than makes up for those GROWN-UP movies. Coincidently Chris Rock wrote the screenplay in his trailer during the filming of Grown Ups 2

Financed and produced independently.

Chris Rock doesn’t choose like other filmmakers to romanticize or sugarcoat New York as a wonderland of fantasy and fairy tales. He wants to represent New York as it truly is beautiful, yet with an attitude but a certain charm you cannot resist. It has an ugly side, but usually like it so much and in love with it we take the good with the bad and barely notice anymore the rougher aspects of the city. Sure the visuals could be more vivid, but as it is said comedy isn’t pretty plus it keeps your head in the game that this is somewhat gritty and real.

We all see and experience things differently. This is his truth so can’t argue with his vision. We can only be happy he doesn’t compromise in any way. Which is said of more artistically inclined or visual directors? Though should be said of more directors who are open and have something to say that isn’t cookie cutter.

While some aspects of the film could have been more subtle, Their meaning was in the right place. Nonetheless, the film leaves plenty of laugh out loud comedy.

You can see the film’s cinematic influences here and there. There is a little SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS by the end. A dash of BEFORE SUNRISE in the structure. Some Woody Allen references and some things leftover from his co-Starring role In Julie Delpy’s 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK.

The film feels cathartic for him, Going around the city, not necessarily discovering it. As it is both their hometown, but more or less touring familiar places.

Throughout the film, each major and some minor cast members get a scene here and there to shine dramatically or comedically, sometimes both.

The film has some commentary on race and especially stardom. Not exactly the exposure you might expect, but at least exposure to it. Shocking especially how outspoken he has been recently about it in interviews.

Rock’s Films before always managed to shine the spotlight on race though felt more like a gimmick and silly, rather than the satire and sharp voice you were hoping for.

I THINK I LOVE MY WIFE was funny, realistic, and a step forward, but lacked the edge and felt more like a bit of an acting exercise with some domestic comedy and drama. Though the film didn’t exactly cover any new ground or present it in a different way.

As he spends the day with the reporter getting to know her. He is revealed to us as they are to one another usually in flashbacks to the stories they tell and the answers that are given as visuals to accompany them.

Rosario Dawson really gets a chance to flex her acting muscles here. She is finally not just the girlfriend or love interest with no personality or real presence. Here she is charming, complex, and real not necessarily an ingénue. Here she has depth and getting the chance to be comedic herself. Not by accident either.

There are certain Flashbacks in this film that are downright scandalous. That involves Rosario Dawson and Chris Rock. Those are nasty, revealing, and push the limits of what can be shown on screen in an r-rated comedy. Though they are the spirit of Chris Rock, this film and his comedy. They are just as dangerous he is. It reminds the audience why he is a crucial voice in comedy.

Also, these flashbacks work as it breaks up the dialogue and story in a meaningful way. So that the asides and stories are more revealing in character and also provide a source of comedy also. The vignettes sometimes with just the reaction are hilarious but always manages to come back to harsh realities.

The strip club scenes best the end of the film are filled with hilarious cameos that remind us of how funny the people in them can be and are also fun seeing them all out of their element and still can be funny. As they are obviously doing it as a favor to Chris rock

though I have usually really enjoyed Chris rock’s films before. I LOVED this film and was quite surprised when others around me saw this film before me remark on how shocked they were that it was so good. (Some of whom I have watched his films with and they enjoyed them. at least that is what they told me. Only a few I knew didn’t like his earlier work in films) I believe the reason this film worked so well for the audience is that not only is it personal. It also shows growth.

He opens up and lets others stand in the spotlight on the sidelines. Even though the major hurdles are on his shoulders. This is why you can excuse when some scenes come off as falsies a bit as does his acting once in awhile. As the saying goes in any sport. Sure you have the star athlete but you also want to have as much talent around them to learn and also to help. Teach and have each other strive and inspire one another.

As a Chris Rock fan, this film means a lot as it is a thank you to a degree to the fans and a treat as he shows he still has it and is finally comfortable being himself. Speaking his thoughts and not worrying so much about how people will take things, nor does he care about maintaining a certain image. It is almost also a fuck you to doubters as he shows he is just not one thing. As this might be one of the last times he might be able to make a film so why not with something you can be proud of and be able to say what you want to without having to worry about censoring it because of studio notes or worrying about what is or isn’t marketable.

He manages to bring an old school feel to the film while making it feel constantly vital. Especially as in some scenes the background score is classic hip-hop beats slowed down that it almost sounds classical as they are laid bare. I hope he stays on his current path.

Dave Chappelle was offered a role but turned it down. Which makes sense as he has a lot of comedians and comedian friends throughout play roles.

In the movie, Chris Rock can be seen wearing a Red Hot Chili Peppers t-shirt. Rock is a well-known fan and friend of the band. He even directed the band’s 2006 music video for their song ‘Hump de Bump.’

Chris Rock has always been a comedian. who seemed to strive for more or to be seen as more. He seems to be striving to be more of an artist. I have watched his career rise as I was always familiar with him and looked up to him. So he has been around on my radar for a while.

Though I have had a few chances to meet him. At most of my retail jobs. I never had the courage nor really the chance to tell him how much of a fan I was. His comedy and career have always been a bond with me and my family as I have seen his live yours regularly as well as usually going to see his films in the theater.

This film had a positive effect on me. Making me profoundly happy. I am happy that he is getting the respect and appreciation he deserves.

I believe even non-fans or occasional ones will enjoy and respect the film.

Though the meaning is there. The film has it’s targeting and lands some solid hits. Though not as many jabs were thrown. Can be rude and lewd out of nowhere but that is part of the charm as it is smart about it.

Grade: B+



Written & Directed By: Helene Cattet & Bruno Forzani
Cinematography By: Manuel Dacosse
Editor: Bernard Beets 

Cast: Klaus Tange, Ursula Bedena, Joe Koener

Following the disappearance of his wife, a man finds himself on a dark and twisted trail of discovery through the labyrinthine halls of his apartment building. Led on a wild goose chase by cryptic messages from his mysterious neighbours, he becomes entangled in a hellish nightmare as he unlocks their strange fantasies of sensuality and bloodshed.

Continue reading “THE STRANGE COLOR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS (2014)”

LAGGIES (2014)


Directed By: Lynn Shelton
Written By: Andrea Seigel
Cinematography By: Benjamin Kasulke
Editor: Nat Sanders 

Cast: Keira Knightly, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sam Rockwell, Ellie Kemper, Jeff Garlin, Mark Webber, Gretchen Mol, Daniel Zovatto, Sara Coates, Kaitlyn Dever

Megan’s approaching 30 with a good degree and a boyfriend in hand, but when he proposes at her friend’s wedding and everyone seems to think that the best way to advance in her career is to take a seminar where you find out what animal you are, Megan’s understandably feeling lost. After meeting teenagers who want her to buy them beer, Megan is drawn into 16-year-old Annika’s simpler life. She ends up moving in with Annika and her single father, juggling the life of a teen and that of an adult, two romantic interests, and the feeling of lagging behind.

Continue reading “LAGGIES (2014)”