FENDER BENDER (2016)

Written & Directed By: Mark Pavia 
Cinematography By: Tyler Lee Cushing 
Editor: Lana Wolverton 

Cast: Cassidy Freeman, Mackenzie Vega, Lora-Martinez-Cunningham, Bill Sage, Dre Davis, Steven Michael Quezada 

In a small New Mexico town, a 17-year-old high school girl who just got her driver’s license gets into her first fender bender, innocently exchanging her personal information with an apologetic stranger. Later that stormy night, she is joined in her desolate suburban home by a couple of her school friends who try their best to make a night out of it, only to be visited by the stranger she so willingly handed all of her information to — a terrifying and bizarre serial killer who stalks the country’s endless miles of roads and streets with his old rusty car, hungrily searching for his next unsuspecting victim.


To tell you the truth this plays is purely typical of a slasher film.

The advertising feels like a mislead to get the title as it seems like this will be some Troy of HIGHWAYMAN type thriller where the slasher’s car will be his primary weapon. When actually it is how he chooses and at first strokes his victims. Using a small crash as an excuse to trade insurance information to use to stalk them and then murder them.

During this film way, too many questions came up. I am sure he is planned for a series so maybe that is why we never really get a motive. As a killing machine he also always seemed ready to take on as many people as needed.

The film seems to need victims as it uses a flimsy excuse for the final GIRL to have a few friends over. Whose purpose only seems to be to add more gore and violence to the movie.

I kind of felt like the killer cheated to a degree. As it is understandable why in life a killer would want to make his job easier by drugging his prey, but in horror movie terms it feels dishonest and likes cheating. It is literally like shooting ducks in a barrel. They have no way to fight back or escape. So of course you are going to win.

The film also just seems mercilessly cruel to the cast. Most of whom are still teenagers. Maybe the film brought that out more than other horror movies where usually the victims are teens but you feel nothing. Maybe the cast here actually looks and acts the part more believably. Though their deaths are typical, you still feel something when they die a certain sadness.

It might be that his cast shows a certain innocence so that they are believable and feel more like victims as there is barely anything they can do against this unexpected attack. Barely any defense.

The film also luckily doesn’t specialize in everything. Nor add sex and nudity where it isn’t needed. The film is lean and to the point. It does seem to have a reliance on female victims washing beforehand, but that might be a tease to fans expecting more than what is actually being offered.

The look of the killer is certainly iconic using thick leather as armor and a mask that while basic looks like a Deranged alien or escaped demon from hell. The film reminds me of THE COLLECTOR series only not as intricate and believable as the work of one person.

At times the film sets the mood and is properly claustrophobic but also in some scenes the score and tone feel. It is only monotonous but over the top. So that while it feels airless it also feels laughable to a degree.

Director Mario Pavia also directed the horror movie and Stephen king of film adaptation of THE NIGHT FLIER (In fact this is the first film he has directed in 19 years) and just as that film was dark and had an upsetting ending. He continues the tradition here. Don’t know if that was to set up sequels or make his mark and have the film be different. It does help the film. As the ending is the one remarkable thing that doesn’t necessarily feel routine.

Grade: C-

OFFICER DOWNE (2016)

Directed By: Shawn Crahan 
Written By: Joe Casey 
Cinematography By: Gerardo Madrazo 
Editor: Meg Ramsay 
Production Design: Jeremy Reed 
Art Direction: Anton Tremblay 
Cast: Kim Coates, Lauren Velez, Sam Witwer, Meadow Williams, Mark Neveldine, Reno Wilson, Tracy Vilar, Alison Lohman 

Based on the Man of Action/Image Comics original graphic novel created by Joe Casey and Chris Burnham, written by Joe Casey, about a police officer who can’t be stopped by death so he returns to the streets time and time again to fight crime.


An opening scene that offers sex and Nudity for no other reason than it just seems to go a long with the cliches of the material and to at least have that In the film which might help viewership. Though doesn’t offer much of later.

Only in glimpses and really has nothing to do with the story other than to have an inside joke of an orgasm counter. Which pretty much sets up the type of film you will be watching. As it’s not clever. Nor does it try to include anything as jokey as it again. So after watching the opening scene at least you know what you are in for and if you wish to proceed. At least you were warned. As it doesn’t get any better.

The film tries too hard To be offensive. It Feels like a combination of bigger budgeted Troma studios film mixed with ROBOCOP (just as nihilistic but without the satire) and the animated AXE COP series. Even though I know it is based on a graphic novel. It feels like it as the film is continuously episodic though gathers no real excitement and the world it takes place in makes no sense and seems outrageous and colorful just to be with no real reasoning behind it.

It obviously owes a debt to the CRANK movies which this film shares co-director and co- writer of Those films Mark Neveldine here as a cast member and one of the producers of the films. The film also has cast member Rob McHenley Who suffers the same fate in this film as he does in the CRANK movies and seems deemed to keep co-Starring in dark violent over the top comedies that make it to the screen. One wouldn’t expect less from one of the creators and cast members of IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA.

The film is directed by Shawn Crahan of the band SLIPNOT a band that is heavy metal and he film feels like one of their songs or videos come to life. As it has a rocking soundtrack that always seems loud and has a rather nihilistic world view. That seems more exploitive and explosive, but never exactly tries to turn it down but never reaches the volume it clearly wants and seems building to.

Seems to want to be adrenaline pumping throughout. Though comes off more like a teenage boys wet dream, with Over the top violence and gratuitous sex. Three members of Slipknot make cameos in this movie. Corey Taylor as Headcase Harry, DJ Sid Wilson as a Thug and Percussionist Chris Fehn as Vulture

The film feels like it doesn’t have any reason or point to make. So it comes off more Like a fan film with It’s low budget quick cutting action sequences, quick editing and just off the wall humor. That seems like it was more intended as a highlight reel with a stitched together plot. That makes one believe this Seems like it would make an interesting short or even a series to go into more detail and explore this strange reality that the film takes place in as well as offering plenty of side stories.

I Wanted to like the film. As I enjoy the CRANK movies way more than I should, but this film leave one with a feeling of been there, done That and seen it before. that makes it feel like a copy rather then fresh even though it has it’s own original storyline. It also is barely 90 minutes and feels long. At least the CRANK movies while ridiculous knew how to keep the audience entertained and following along.

Though the CRANK movies were better maid and seemed to have a point and somewhat of a story. As this film only offers more do the same continuously while trying to seem like there is more to it.

I mean this film has killer Nuns and animalsor at least people in animal masks as gang leaders. Yet while fun it still never rises to the proper amount of lunacy. It reaks of attempts. Not out of passion. More like it was made up as it went along. Where the thinking was let’s include whatever silly thing we can think of to really mess with the audiences sanity.

I am usually always glad to see Kim Coates working. He is one of my favorite character actors. Usually playing villains of somebody of questionable morals. It is impressive here to see him Play a hero cop for once, of course one who is more extreme is not entirely surprising.

Also as a fan of Kim Coates I was more than willing to give the move a chance and actress Alison Lohman. Who I haven’t seen in anything in awhile who was once Hollywood’s new it girl. Disappointed in her small role in this film which might be a blessing as she might not have wanted to be too much in the film and be considered one of the major stars of it. As she is more in a small supporting role. It sets out to be a cult genre film and is mildly successful. Though it tries too hard and surpasses it’s aim and meaning. Especailly after starring a few years in the box office hit DRAG ME TO HELL

Though not a total failure. It’s not something I can imagine anyone wanting to see again more than once.

It’s an outsider film that seems desperate to fit in or gain an audience. As it does feel like a film made of youth and that is who it seems designed to appeal to. It’s Addicted more to cheap spectacle rather then detail.

The film is shot like a porno Film. There is always plenty of action. Only they use use the gore and violence as a kind of money shot with plenty of releases throughout.

Though this film is episodic and feels like informing the audience of an origin. The villains while a challenge, don’t seem that hard to defeat. So while predictable there is no suspense. Which is a shame as the film has all the ingredients. But the formula fails. This film makes like HARDCORE HARRY all the more impressive and fun.

Grade: D

TEENAGE COCKTAIL (2016)

Directed By: John Carchietta 
Written By: John Carchietta, Sage Bannick, Chris Sivertson 
Story By: Amelia Yokel 
Cinematography By: Justin Kane 
Editor: John Carchietta, Josh Ethier & Ben La Marca 

Cast: Nichole Bloom, Fabianne Therese, Pat Healy, Joshua Leonard, Michelle Borth, AJ Bowen  


Feeling confined by their small town and overbearing parents, Annie and Jules hatch a scheme of running away. But as the girls soon find out, consequences can blindside you. Sometimes violently.


Who is this film supposedly for? As it plays like a hard edged after school special. Though it does involve a central coming of age lesbian love story. Though then kind of spoils it by going into a thriller element of sex work and picking the wrong person to do it with.

The film has a weird almost laughable scene where one of the girl’s father looks at her computer ad’s and never says anything. In fact he is more embarrassed and see’s his daughter in her lingerie. Which comes out of nowhere. If the father really cared that should have been the moment to show care and discipline. It is understandable that he is shocked but irresponsible to do nothing about it This is a film that seems to be searching to be something and coming off all wrong.

I believe maybe the film might have been better if directed by a female or at least someone more sensitive to it’s material and nature. As many of the scenes of the two girl making out and frolicking seem more exploitive and vivid. Almost more like fetish and fantasy more than anything else. So that it feels uncomfortable or soft core pornographic rather then just fun or revealing. It reeks more of the male gaze, making any intimacy between the leads more erotic and physical. Rather then romantic, personal or endearing. As most of the time it feels like we are intruding on the girls and watching them as voyeurs. Not in a good way as we invade their privacy and tender moments.

So much so that it feels like an adult film only without the hardcore scenes and not as over the top. Which unfortunately makes it feel slow. Though it had an starter emo indie artist soundtrack. That showcases how amateur the film comes off. As since it doesn’t know how to identify itself. Like it’s characters it just seems to try anything to fit in and be relevant. So that it can say something, but as it has it’s chance. There is nothing new or too striking to say.

Though the final 15 minutes seem more stupid and ill advised even if the characters are young. As all of a sudden the man turns psycho and desperate. In a way over the top way. Rather than subtle.

You can’t shake that the film and the females characters in particular are being shown and shaped under a male glaze that turns everything into titilaion instead of emotional drama. One just wishes there was more to it. As it seems to make an emotional drama about friendship and connection. Then all of a sudden veers into thriller territory. Which could have worked if it didn’t feel so rushed all of a sudden.

It’s a shame as all the actors are usually good in other films and have a real chance to shine here, but what they are given is so mundane and silly that it never makes a mark.  

GRADE: D+

THE UNTAMED (2016)

Directed By: Amat Escalante 
Written By: Amat Escalante & Gibran Portela 
Cinematography: Manuel Alberto Claro
Editor: Fernanda De La Peza & Jacob Secger Schulsinger 

Cast: Ruth Ramos, Simone Bucio, Jesus Meza, Eden Villavicencio, Oscar Escalante, Bernarda Trueba 


It’s a film that has to be seen to be believed. Though you are impressed with what it pulls off.

The film is told more visually than through dialogue. Letting the images tell the story, makes it feel not only more cinematic but makes the material feel more enriched and an experience for the audience.

A story of connection and a kind of love rectangle.  As separate stories eventually converge. That is simple in its own way. Only enhances with a fantasy element.

That involves a dysfunctional family drama element. 

The film is highly erotic and very sexual. So much so that there is even a brief scene of an animal orgy (with other animals, no Beastiality) 

For instance, The opening scene is a sex scene that sets off the tale abs looks like it could have come from. Numerous hentai anime. As the film itself could be lazily described as live-action hentai porn with a plot. This film focuses more on characters in a domestic drama and the stories of how they end up meeting this monster more graphically.

As every character here has a secret though it comes across more like a fantasy, with the monster lurking inside that brings pleasure and pain. But don’t tell anyone about never revealing true selves. As the monster could easily be a physical manifestation of their secrets that are eating them up inside but brings momentary happiness but ultimately is destructive. Though at least by the end they all find and show their real selves. 

Some get by in life, some are a slave to their addictions and end up victims. Some of their strength at times of tragedy. 

It’s a little bizarre that there is not much of the monster. So if you come to this movie expecting that you will be disappointed. This is more like a science fiction novel where the stories come first. Usually are a parable that uses the science fiction element to make it grander. This is ultimately an empowerment story with a final girl of sorts. 

This isn’t a film you will easily forget. 

Grade: B

GOING TO BRAZIL (2016)


Directed By: Patrick Mille
Written By: Patrick Mille, Julien Lambroschini & Sabrina Amara
Cinematography: Andre Szenkowski
Editor: Samuel Dansei

Cast: Vanessa Guide, Alison Wheeler, Margot Bancilhon, Philippine Stindel, Patrick Mille, Christine Citti, Susana Pires, Chico Diaz, Joseph Makebra 

Four childhood friends reunite for a wedding in Rio, only to find themselves on the run through the Brazilian countryside after accidentally killing someone at a drug-fueled party.


The film feels very 1980s inspired. As the plot feels high concept and simple. As it takes a GIRL’S NIGHT type story and takes it further and more action-oriented.

It even feels directed like an interaction action film from the 1980s. So that you always feel a bit of nostalgia. If you are a fan of films from the decade. 

The film offers a kind of girl’s gone wild scenario. As the characters deal with being on vacation in Brazil for a friend’s wedding and their lives not going too well. So they decide to show e fun no wild out. Which eventually leads to trouble. The film presents deals with them trying to stay out of trouble as more complications are presented.

Even though the film sounds like it would more be  T & A fest. It is more for female viewers. As most of the male characters are stupid, evil and manipulative.

The film sets up an older male villain. Whose motives are understandable partially. As he is only reacting to the death of a loved one. One who ended up being reprehensible. Showing that the Apple doesn’t fall far from The tree.

The film plays so broad but then reins in some scenes that want to be more dramatic or character building. 

The film certainly switches tones as it begins like a screwball comedy and then becomes more hardcore at first serious then action but tries to keep a sense of humor through it all. Leaving the film to be inventive and thankfully fast-paced.

In trying to stay out of trouble they are lead into all sorts of criminal activity and hijinks that eventually allows them to have a full-fledged adventure. That stays on the move and exposes a silly and unexpected side. 

Even if the last-minute hardcore action seems a bit much. 

The four leads all play types more than characters but all are needed for their particular skills that help along the way and they all have their own appeal. 

The more darker-skinned characters are shown more as villains, tough and dangerous. It doesn’t seem intended that way but still comes off that way and noticeable. 

The film offers an interesting tale of a girl’s vacation in its own way.

The film unfortunately might be entertaining as you watch it but by the end feels forgettable. 

GRADE: C-

SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU (2016)

Written & Directed By: Richard Tanne 
Cinematography By: Pat Scola 
Editor: Evan Schiff  
Cast: Tika Sumpter, Parker Sawyers, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Taylar Fondren 

The film chronicles the summer 1989 afternoon when the future President of the United States, Barack Obama, wooed his future First Lady, Michelle Obama, on a first date across Chicago’s South Side.


The focus on what it’s not for once as it is a black romance that is not totally comedy.

It’s a very ambitious film a film that mixes fact and fiction, but tries to keep the subject matter simple and charming while sticking to most of the facts. Trying to keep the material fresh even though we know how it will end.

Nor is there an emphasis on sex at hooking up as a major part of the romance. We See the characters as smart and well respected. Even if at times the film falls into cliche perils as part of it’s story line and charm though at least the film tries to give it more of a mature aspect to them.

It’s something that is different a mature and more adult look at romance that is simple and complex. That deals with the future and more about making their way in the world. Through lifestyles and career ambitions.

Doesn’t suffer the same fate as many it seems cliche romantic movies which have already been in the decline over the years. We are more served with romantic comedies which already usually weaken some movies by putting more emphasis on the comedy and then having a romantic scene here or there when we already have plenty comedies that have romantic scenes as side, LOVE story. I guess when it comes to romantic comedies at least half of the film will revolve around dating and romance or the love interest will be more than one dimensional and have character

Though unfortunately it seems in African American based ones it seems the focus is on the couple arguing most of the film which is meant to be seen as funny then finally get romantic towards the end or one or both characters being sex crazed. Which automatically feels more like something out of a sitcom rather than needed for a feature.

Which is why when a film like this feels like a rarity and it shouldn’t it is so noted. When there are and should be plenty of films and stories like this out there. Like the individuals it portrays. As there are plenty of people out there like this but unfortunately only a few get the spotlight or more people get to know

Which might be why the Tyler Perry movies are so successful as they serve an audience that feels disenfranchised and that no one makes films for that audience as his are films that they see themselves not only represented in, but also speak more directly to them and their community. As his films at least seem tailor made or meant to be representative of his audience.

An imagined history based on The few facts we know about the Obamas first dates. That gives this film more of a pop culture glow but also a hook as to why audience might want to see it and is a little different than some others.

According to director Richard Tanne, all of the main events of the film did actually occur on the Obama’s first date with the exception of the community meeting which happened at a later date. Obviously another BEFORE SUNRISE influenced film. as it is more about conversation, character and emotion. Though generalizing it that way would easily be a cop out as the film also adds it own touches to the romance as their day is more adventure filled.

As some romantic films have to be shown and filmed that way to showcase that initial spark and see the chemistry while the chemicals mix and start to bond. We understand why in the future even as challenged and frustrated they might be with one another. Why they stay together. So that there are plenty of situations to observe there differing opinions and points of view

While also showcasing it’s own version of romance that is traditional and not necessarily

The same old. As every person’ love story is similar but different and special to the couple or individual and this films honors that We get glimpses of their future greatness. For her we see the roots of it. How she wants to have her own career and be great. How he hasn’t exactly decided what he wants to do but his belief in people, communities and America and how people naturally gravitate towards him. Both actors are believable as the Obama’s

Michelle comes off as someone trying to carve her own niche and life. Be independent and make her way in the world. Not looking to be defined by someone else. Not have anyone but herself take charge of their life

Barack as a confident young man who has taken the for rallying people and charismatic. It still not exactly sure about his future and defining himself

Grade: B

BOO! A MADEA HALLOWEEN (2016)

Written & Directed By: Tyler Perry
Cinematography: Richard Vialet
Editor: Larry Sexton

Cast: Tyler Perry, Cassi Davis, Diamond White, Liza Koshy, Bella Thorne, Yousef Barker, Jimmy Tatro,  Lavell Crawford, Corey Holcomb, Adele Givens, Lexy Panterra, Patrice Lovely, Andre Hall, Tyga, Mike Tornabene, Angela Ray, Dominique Witten, 

Madea lands in the midst of mayhem when she spends a haunted Halloween fending off killers, paranormal poltergeists, ghosts, ghouls, and zombies while keeping a watchful eye on her wild teenage great-niece.


At this point these movies are for the Tyler Perry loyalists. Who seem to be like trump voters where no matter what you say or logic you point out they still stay loyal in their tastes and beliefs. The only difference is that the Tyler Perry loyalists seem to know his film’s weaknesses and can admit they aren’t necessarily good but they are at least entertained.

A scene that lasts up to 25 minutes is just general conversation and doesn’t really move things along except to have a petty conversation and reiterate points the film and characters have already made many times already. It is mainly a conversation of insults and one-upping each character 

Sometimes it seems that perry’s Films are more written around whatever point he has to make or whatever he has to say that is on his mind and reinforce mroe classic ways of love, parenting, and life with the recurring character of madea. A character who works In Films like these mroe because the plots are more cartoonish and outlandish 

The message here seems to be not to let your children run all over you and to have actual discipline with them. So that they learn to respect and boundaries 

Though when He makes more dramatic movies that center around emotional intensity and believability. Madea being Shoehorned in there does offer a release by having a character mroe there for comedic relief but the. Also distracts and take the audience away out of the rest of the movie 

Even if madea is more of a franchise cvjharacter but at this point seems loaned out and used for every type of situation and storyline 

The only time this film gets entertaining is in the third act where at least true points are finally made and truly expressed. As well as the film finally actually having some humor that is actually funny even if obvious and a bit sloppy 

The first brothers first of all lol too old and have no real Believable Appeal for the teenage girls and their characters are never believable and white actually bland and more are there for the story rather than Building any believable characters or antagonists. Even worse the originals who are supposed to be mroe comedic seem more stupid and over the top then Even if they were in a children’s movie where that is mroe generally accepted 

Grade: F

DE PALMA (2016)

Directed By: Noah Baumbach & Jake Paltrow
Cinematography By: Jake Paltrow
Edited By: Matt Mayer & Lauren Minnerath

 A documentary About Writer/Director Brian De Palma 


One of the exciting things of watching this film is knowing how reclusive director Brian De Palma usually is. It’s amazing to hear him speak about his craft and life as well as behind the scenes stories of his career.

He is also speaking and telling his stories, while looking right at you. So it’s not the usual talking heads type documentary. So while you watch it, it feels like he is speaking directly to you.

The film offers a masterclass in filmmaking and also let’s him speak for himself for once. Rather than seeing or reason an evaluation of his films. Here he will admit his mistakes, but also make us re-evaluate some of his work which has been accused of being more controversial or just bad filmmaking.

As the film gets to the end it does wind down as his later career films seem to be the most disappointing for audiences, critics and fans. So that some won’t care as much to here which is why they are more brief when it comes to those films. As throughout the film he addresses each film on his resume as well as we get to see scripts from each of these films.

This is one of those films you hope they have a longer director’s cut as it could go on longer and you would still be entertained. He is direct and methodical but allows for a sense of humor also. So the documentary doesn’t feel didactic.

He does address the critics and themes of his work. The accusations of his film promoting violence against women or being misogynistic. While his film more or less seems to worship women and let them appear all the more human. while also worshiping the beauty of them not only physically but emotionally. As in most of his film they seem to inspire the protagonist and lead them to his doom or help to bring the best out of him. Usually helping to define the protagonist. When the female character is not the protagonist herself.

He also briefly talks about the influence of Alfred Hitchcock as obviously he has a similar filmmaking style and he even argues as filmmakers always tend to either copy or borrow from their influences and favorite films. Why wouldn’t he use the style of one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. As even i will admit that through watching Brian De Palma films. I got turned on to as well as awakened to the cinema of Alfred Hitchcock. now while I can see the similarities. He uses that same technical style and inventiveness to tell the stories he brings his vision to. He is more interested in the technical and visual aspects first and foremost and seems to build the plot and characters around that aspect. Luckily he has skill and talent around him that makes his films enriching even past the technical.

I might be partial to his cinema as they are more voyeurs films and also the fact that they are more modern and closer to age. When i was watching the cinema. Whereas Hitchcock will always be a master but the time period that separates us. makes it that I will always look at all of his work as classics due to style and age. So they are more like historic documents that are hard to argue about or criticize. Whereas with De Palma it feels more contemporary and can debate about his films easily.

Paltrow and Baumbach filmed Brian De Palma for one week in 2010, collecting about 30 hours worth of interview footage. De Palma, sitting in Paltrow’s living room and talking about his career, wore the same shirt every day for continuity’s sake.

Brian De Palma said, that initially there was no plan for a documentary feature, only an interview: “Noah and Jake were interested in this new digital camera, so Jake bought one. They wanted to make a record of all these stories that I’d told them over the years when we’d had dinner together, so they sat me down in Jake’s living room. Jake operated the camera, Noah did the sound, and they would just ask me questions.”

Do yourself a favor if a fan of his or movies in general. Seek out this film as it is quite a treat.

Grade: A- 

DESIERTO (2016)

Directed & Edited By: Jonas Cuaron 
Written By: Jonas Cuaron & Mateo Garcia 
Cinematography By: Damian Garcia 

Cast: Jeffrey Dean Morgan , Gael Garcia Bernal, Alondra Hidalgo, Marco Perez, Lew Temple, Diego Catano 

A group of people trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States encounter a man who has taken border patrol duties into his own racist hands.


This film is a tight simple thriller. That is appealing in it’s simplicity. Not too much to think about or question. Shot all out in the open no indoor scenes.

Like a horror film, it has an unstoppable villain who works as a slasher. Who we know very little about. Whose reason for his killings are very vague, you just know he is evil. Played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan (who is becoming familiar in these types of roles which seem to fit better Than the anti-hero in action films usually developed from graphic novels)

As we watch him murder people who are sneaking across the border for no real personal reason, of course, the film wants us to assume that he is trying to keep them out of the country and doesn’t see them as human beings just prey. At least that is what might be hinted at. As he seems to be doing it out of patriotism

Except that he is kind of disrespectful to the border cops also.

The film tries to provoke a social or political message of sorts. That really hits home in this current American climate. As this might be the type of film our current government would love that is until the ending. I can only assume this. Though it is more a remote survival movie. Where the characters play cat and mouse throughout.

There is plenty of graphic violence. Even as the victims are anonymous. Except for the fact that you feel sorry for them as they don’t deserve their fates. Especially for just seeking a new And better life for themselves.

The film is still a tight mostly dialogue-less grilled that pumps itself up with impending doom and dread throughout. As there is no humor or true happiness here.

It’s admirable what is done in this film with a simple premise that does so much and how full the film feels. It would be nice if the film had a little more substance. Though it is quite entertaining without it. 

The film definitely has style and luckily does Amy go overboard with it. So that it becomes a distraction In itself or become all the film is truly about.

The film becomes questionable when at the end the villain all of a sudden becomes vulnerable. Though I believe that is to remind us that the is human. Which I don’t believe we ever forget. It also allows the film not to become a total horror film. As it obviously has bigger or better aspirations for itself.

The direction by Jonas Cuaron Son of director Alphonso Cuaron (GRAVITY, Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN) while good also makes the film feel more anonymous than anything as you know nothing really about the characters other than some tidbits and circumstances that are presented. Given the situation the characters are in this is understandable. It’s just the film that never makes it’s presence felt. So why should you choose this one from any other random thriller that is offered usually on VOD with a big star name attached?

With this film at least there feels like an effort to make something and not just try to make a film to make a profit only.

Grade: C+

THE FAMILY FANG (2016)

Directed By: Jason Bateman 
Written By: David Lindsay-Abaire 
Based On The book By: Kevin Wilson 
Cinematography By: Ken Seng 
Editor: Robert Frazen 

Cast: Jason Bateman, Nicole Kidman, Christopher Walken, Kathryn Hahn, Marin Ireland, Harris Yulin, Josh Pais, Michael Chernus, Danny Burnstein, Steve Barrish, Steve Witting


The first trailer for the film wasn’t released until three weeks before the release date. So the film never really had a chance. Which is strange considering the film’s pedigree.

Whatever I write about this film. It will come off as seeming bitter. As I read the book first and was a big fan of the book. I looked forward to watching this film as, after all, I liked Jason Bateman’s directorial debut BAD WORDS. And since the book was also a dark comedy. I thought it was a match that made sense. The film speeds up the story. Realized that most likely the book’s story would have to be condensed and the dynamics of the story reworked. Not necessarily changing details but leaving less informed turns and losing a certain context hurts the story overall.

It certainly hurt my appreciation of the story presented here. Probably because I read it so recently We would of course expect what you enjoyed being on display. If not in the story then at least in the mood. A film that you would expect more from or certainly handled by a director who had more of a reputation and history with similar material.

I believe I would have enjoyed the film more if I wasn’t so familiar with the material. The films seem smaller-scaled then needed. Shrinking the story to a degree. As it seems to try and be more intimate with the characters to be like a study by not moving the story forward as the book did with so many actions and distractions.

The novel ranked among Time’s “Top Ten Fiction Books of 2011”.

In the translation, it feels like certain layers are lost. The book could have made a great movie. Just. It. This is not this film, unfortunately. As the changes also impact the story. But makes it feel more grounded in reality and not so fantastic in the situations and parts. It never seems to have the impact that it should. As things happen and the film just seems to let them slide off the character’s soldiers. Never taking the time or accepting the consequences. Jason Bateman seems to be playing his usual type of characters. So that it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch. Maybe he wanted it to be easier as he also must direct the film. He plays the role with as many issues or sensitivity as the story provides for his character. His character here is more put together and takes charge. Not as distraught as he should be.

He moves forward as a filmmaker showing more depth and talent. Though I thoroughly enjoyed his first film as a director. Here it seems he is more interested in making a strange story more conventional. Understand he must condense, cut scenes and characters as well as events.

Nicole Kidman seems to wear her character on her sleeves, but she is good in the role of the damaged sister who becomes an actress. She gives a good performance that is more serious and how’s how grounded and good an actress she can be if given the right material. As she comes off less recognizable and less of a star even though she is playing one.

Jason Bateman and Nicole Kidman both have several credits on the project. Bateman is the director, star, and producer of the film, while Kidman brought the rights to the book, served as a producer, and as the leading lady.

This is a project that is obviously very close and personal to both the stars. Who I wonder if they didn’t let their influence and their own visions of what they felt the story was really about and letting them reach a catharsis to challenge themselves. As well as letting it be their own homecoming and look at their careers For instance, it has a reunion of Steve Witting and Jason Bateman. The earlier collaboration was the Television series ‘Valerie’. Thought hey share no scenes together. He also casts Kathryn Hahn in a small role. This is their third time working together including being his romantic interest in his directorial debut. As well as Kidman hiring David Lindsay-Abaire who previously wrote the film RABBIT HOLE which she starred in

Trying to condense an epic story into a confined space that limits it and it’s beauty as well as shortening it’s reach.

The film maintains it’s questioning of art and artists throughout. The argument of life and art and what exactly is art is never answered. Which I believe is intentional to make the audience constantly wonder. As the film seems more nostalgic tinged and twee like a dysfunctional family as quirky more than devastating.

Feelings and emotions are on display as the story seems to be about overcoming your passion. Making reactions of others the real art. Turning it on the audience to make them more the performers. As the film puts an essential mystery in the middle of the film, but as the characters get more clues to try and solve it the film. Doesn’t make it feel urgent at all and seems like it is more of an annoyance than anything else. The film goes for a look of southern gothic.

The film is disappointing, both as a representation of the book and as a film on it’s own. Not a bad film as it has it’s own strengths of note, though the story feels more rushed then it should. It barely takes it’s time before it is off on another lead.

So many details that could have been explored or slowed down instead seem more plot-oriented then necessary. Characters that had a darkness to them to match where the story goes are lightened up. So it feels more upbeat. Though truthfully there is nothing wrong with the film technically.

It’s nice to see the cast is filled with naturalistic looking actors rather than unbelievably good looking stars.

Maybe as the adaptation of the book is written by a playwright. The film ends up feeling more like a play or at least more a theatrical piece than necessary The film lacks the depth of what made the original so magical and a delight to read. As well as softening the ending. Making the film feel too cut and dry. Though it seems like a quirky film that normally would be Oscar bait. That comes across as slight more than anything.

Grade: C