OLD (2021)

Written for the screen & Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Based on the graphic Novel “SANDCASTLE” By Pierre-Oscar Levy & Fredrik Peters
Cinematography: Michael Gioulakis
Editor: Brett M. Reed 

Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krepis, Rufus Sewell, Abbey Lee, Ken Leung, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Eliza Scanlen, Embeth Daviditz, Aaron Pierre 

A vacationing family discovers that the secluded beach where they’re relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly, reducing their entire lives into a single day. 


I can admit lately M Night Shyamalan is a filmmaker who has gotten more interesting with age. I loved UNBREAKABLE but was never really hooked by any of his other films until THE VISIT came around and truly left me transfixed.

This is a movie that is good entertainment even though its story night feels far-fetched for some. Keep in mind this is a movie meant to enjoy and keep your interest. As the film goes along it manages to do that with some shocks, twists, and turns. 

The exotic locale is one of His first films set outside of Philadelphia, his hometown even if the main character’s family is from there. Even if filmed during the pandemic this is the perfect film for watching as it seems inspired by it. Even if this film is based on a graphic novel written years before.

The film is an ensemble even though we mainly follow one family: the parents and kids. How they are changing and reacting and we see others change also. Even though the title and trailers give away the major plot. This is a good film to go in and discover.

As yes there are some over-the-top elements and some do unintentional camp which seems to be something of a regular occurrence in his films. 

This film seems inspired as an either overlong TWILIGHT ZONE episode, a less technical BLACK MIRROR or inspired by LOST. The later of which really hits home with a similar cast member Ken Leung 

Abby Lee’s character seems to always have the worst fate in movies she is in. As she has the most memorable scene in this film that is done with special effects and similarly in NEON DEMON. She has scenes of grotesque violence. She is a sight to see here and comes back hard later in the film. In one of the most truly terrifying scenes. 

As an ensemble, you can already pick who is most likely to be the off-centered crazy one eventually. Just as you can usually predict who will be the victims. The only mystery is when and how. Which might be why most of the cast seems to be foreign actors as too many recognizable names and faces would only leave us to guess more. Whereas here the actors mostly come with no baggage. 

The math of aging doesn’t always seem to match up, but the actors’ performances are always believable and heartfelt. 

There are certain aspects that are easy to predict but the film does offer what seem to be what some might expect exclusively from writer/Director Shamalayan: a twist and a certain darkness. Though I must say that as dark as his material can get there is usually an uplifting ending or an element of one for the characters in the long run.

The ending offers a good explanation that could easily have been something that most could see happening. 

This movie is best viewed without any expectations. Shyamalan’s style is very smooth when it comes to framing, Camerawork, and presentation. Over the years he has maintained twists but they seem less forced and expected. They now feel more natural with the rest of the film. Not necessarily hinging on it as in the past. As his films feel more than that these days. They feel more well-rounded.

By the end this feels like a fun guilty pleasure filled with chills.

Grade: C+

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013)

Directed by: Martin Scorsese 
Written By: Terence Winter 
Based on the Book “The Wolf Of Wall Street” By: Jordan Belfort 
Cinematography: Rodrigo Prieto
Editor: Thelma Schoonmaker

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robie, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Bernthal, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau, Shea Whigham, Jean Dujardin, Joanna Lumley, Cristin Milioti, Aya Cash, Christine Ebersole, Ethan Suplee,  P.J. Byrne, Kenneth Choi, Jake Hoffman, Rizwan Manji, Thomas Middleditch, Fran Lebowitz 

Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.


This film at heart is more of a dark comedy than a drama. Yes, it’s based on a true story and there are many victims in this tale who barely get any attention. As the film’s protagonist is the con-man who ripped them off, but the film feels like no matter what it wants us to root for him and feel for him overall.

Leonardo DiCaprio gives one of his best performances and one of his out-and-out funny comedic performances. As we have never seen him this loose and open in a performance. that truly astonishes

 It’s not only him the film is filled with recognizable actors playing real-life people but while they are characters and three-dimensional they are also played so big that they come off naturally more comedic. Even though their crimes hurt many. As Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, and Jon Berenthal all have their times to shine and at least a scene to highlight. 

At a certain point, they are doing so many illegal things that you can barely tell what is right and what is wrong. As the business they build seems to get off on debauchery and the film treats it as both revelatory letting us participate In The mayhem and experience the 1980’s excess but also giving us enough details to see it as a cautionary tale and see the harsh aftermath for some.

This also is Margot Robbie’s debut and introduction to the public as a sex symbol. Just as Charlize Theron made her debut in the movie 2 DAYS IN THE VALLEY. Here at first, you notice Ms. Robbie’s looks then you notice she is actually quite a good actress and one of the memorable ingredients to this movie. 

Now this tale could have been told in a smaller way but just like the main character it must be told larger than life and feel rather epic in size. As it is a rare film where we kind of root for the bad guys. Even if we know they are horrible. As we have been following them from the beginning and in essence living the life of excess with them in the film. So that even when we see them do bad things we have a weakness for them and want to see them succeed even at the expense of others. 

The film feels like a crime spree as it is episodic as we are taken throughout the crimes and how the businessmen stay afloat and the deals they have to make to keep laundering their money and stay on top. The film even follows their international adventures that open up the film to be more global and have more consequences. As they have their overseas adventures. Even with the law on their tails embodied by a character played by Kyle Chandler who seems to be incorruptible and always right behind.

The film even though his character later In The film asks if it is worth it. Being honest and in the straight and narrow. Still having to scrape by when you could easily turn a blind eye, do the wrong thing, and live in Luxury. 

This is the most electrifying and energetic director Martin Scorsese has been with a film. Also, his first film has come close to a comedy since AFTER HOURS. Though the film condemns the characters. The film also has a lot of fun with them. Leaving behind plenty of classic moments. 

The film gets to glorify and highlight the 80’s and 90’s excess and over-the-top nature of business and the stock market. A kind of juvenile version of the movie WALL STREET, but just as powerful and memorable. Only here do you see more behavior outside of the office than necessarily the more business side. Which marks the film all the more attractive. 

In the end, even for a somber tale,  the film is a good time. A misogynistic fantasy that offers what happens after you wake up from the dream and have to pay for it. As the film presents its a tale with the highs like being on drugs but then eventually you have to come down and sober up and the pain of what sobering up feels like. 

GRADE: A

AFTER DARK, MY SWEET (1990)

Directed By: James Foley 
Written By: James Foley & Robert Redlin 
Based on the novel by: Jim Thompson 
Cinematography By: Mark Plummer 
Editor: Howard E. Smith 

 Cast: Jason Patric, Rachel Ward, Bruce Dern 

An ex-boxer is drifting around after escaping from the mental hospital. He meets a widow who convinces him to help fix up the neglected estate her ex-husband left. Her Uncle talks them both into helping kidnap a rich boy for ransom money, and the ex-fighter must make decisions about his loyalties and what is right. 


This film was built up in my head over the years as a pulpy erotic drama. An undiscovered gem and over the years I avoided it to wait for the right moment to watch and appreciate it. And with that decision, I feel I doomed this movie to a level t could never live up to. I was Correct It’s not a bad film. 


 I like Rachel ward who I have been a fan of ever since the kidnapping thriller FORTRESS from the ’80s. Yes, I was into that 80’s fad of being interested in Australian culture. So her being in a erotic thriller. You would have thought I would jump at the chance to watch it as soon as possible. 

 I like how minimal this film is, for a major release it has a relatively small cast and really feels like it takes place in a small town and community. James Foley expertly directs it. The color schemes of the backgrounds are rich and styled.
 I like the fact that the kidnapping plot of the film is dealt with as more of a side plot in the background to developing the characters and the drama between them. 

 I really enjoyed Jason Patric’s performance our protagonist who we don’t even know if he is all there mentally. The other characters are intense as you never know if you can trust them entirely. Constantly wondering are on the level or deceiving. So it makes the situations more interesting.

I almost wish Jason Patric’s character could be used in a television series of movies. That’s how interesting he is and maybe get a chance to learn about his past more.  One of my problems with the film is for a film advertised as being erotic there is one graphic sex scene that isn’t very long. It’s quiet and is more than halfway through the film and more passionate than anything else. 

 I also found myself lost a few times as in the film as far as the plot. It’s a slow film as dry as the land it takes place on. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. 

 It’s not a total disappointment but I can’t say that I entirely like it. It’s worth checking out. 

 GRADE: B-

WHITE OF THE EYE (1987)

Directed By: Donald Cammell

Written By: Donald Cammell & China Cammell Based on the novel “MRS. WHITE” By: Andrew Klavan & Laurence Klavan

Cinematography: Larry McConkey

Editor: Terry Rawlings

Cast: David Keith, Cathy Moriarty, Alan Rosenberg, Art Evans, Alberta Watson, William G. Schilling, Mimi Lieber, Michael Greene, Danielle Smith 

In a wealthy and isolated desert community, a sound expert is targeted as the prime suspect of a series of brutal murders of local suburban housewives who were attacked and mutilated in their homes. As he desperately tries to prove his innocence, his young wife starts to uncover mysteries of her own…


This film is like a jazz album. One can’t quite get into or find the correct beat to connect with to groove with it. 

This film was recommended by quite a few people. Especially as it is one of the few films directed by Donald Cammell a popular writer and director of cult films such as PERFORMANCE.

As his films are usually out there it’s expected that his films will be a bit crazy. This one Certainly is it commits the sin of being boring for most of the film Until a totally bonkers ending. Which still doesn’t save the film as a whole. 

The film shows its Giallo influences only when it uses them in the daylight. These scenes are the only time the film comes alive and its artistic touches work to its advantage. Other times it seems like a film that is pretty Mainstream and more a studio product but presented in a style that feels peculiar and not for the better. That comes off pretty bland the first 2 thirds of the Film.

The camera work is unpredictable which is a thrill. It keeps you alert. Even the casting is inspired but in the end, the ingredients are there, but the dish served comes up short.

What saves the film somewhat or at least keeps you watching is David Keith’s performance that goes from mundane to romantic to off the wall. 

Alan Rosenberg doesn’t fare as well as he comes off like a New York stereotype at first who is dim-witted and then later comes across as a new age burnout. 

Cathy morality gets a chance to not play her usually big-haired villain or tough New York City girl. Here she gets a chance to just play normally as the lead who might be a little too trusting, but other than Be the audience’s introduction to the events and revelations she is given little to work with or do with her character to make an impression.

It also doesn’t help that this film is supposed to be sexy and have a lot of sex and half the time it is usually the opposite and the seduction doesn’t seem to raise the temperature. Even the sex scenes take a while for the audience to realize what they are doing.

The film’s theme seems to be nature vs commercialism. Which represents more of an Avant-garde film abs approach that eases into trappings of the more ridiculous commercialism. 

By the end the film made me come up with some thoughts when it comes to films such as these.  Where it seems we will make excuses for ourselves to explain why we just sat through all of this, but rationalize what we have seen by giving it artistic credentials because it tries to be artistic and different. When it did take a gamble that was misguided. Ultimately it might actually be bad but if the filmmaker had success before there must be some kind of deeper point 

Usually viewed by an audience who expected it. Usually mostly caucasian looking at it analytically abs since it speaks to them or is identifiable it must be good abs preached upon. 

GRADE: F

THE PAPERBOY (2012)

Directed By: Lee Daniels 
Written By: Lee Daniels & Pete Dexter 
Based On The Book By: Pete Dexter 
Cinematography By: Roberto Schaefer 
 Editor: Joe Klotz 


 Cast: Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, David Oyelowo, Macy Gray, John Cusack, Scott Glenn, Ned Bellamy

Eldest son Ward Jansen is a star reporter for a Miami newspaper and has returned home with close friend Yardley to investigate a racial murder case. Younger brother Jack Jansen has returned home after a failed stint at university as a star swimmer. To help give his life some direction, Ward gives Jack a job on their investigation as their driver. But into the mix comes the fiancée of the imprisoned convict who stirs up confusing feelings of love and lust for the young Jack. Meanwhile, Ward and Yardley’s investigation stirs up
deep-rooted issues of race and acceptance which could cause serious consequences for everyone involved.


This film that deemed to start out as a thriller, Quickly seems to spiral into a no man’s land that resembles more of a misguided Grind-house film more than anything else. The sad part is what seems at first to become earnest filmmaking quickly delves into some kind of camp classic

As the film continues the outline is about proving a man might be innocent. It mostly focuses not only on the politics, but the coming of age tale of Zac Efron’s character. It also concerns itself with building and defining the characters.

Now I am not the biggest fan of Lee Daniels as a Director yet, but watching this film. Just like in PRECIOUS. It feels like he puts in too many surrealistic seeming camera tricks and angles that become distracting and unneeded when the film could have just told the story.

It feels like a person just out of film school. Who feels the need to how off or insert things that aren’t really needed in a way to impress. Like a college student writing a paper with too many big words misused trying to impress. I see it as him trying and learning new things behind the camera thinking the audience will be amazed as much as he is using them. The other problem is it plays like a drama then wants to be a thriller, but only at certain times and wanting to represent race relations of that period.

In fact the film begins with Macy Gray playing a maid who is being questioned about a book dedicated to her. now it feels like an interrogation that is really used to give her character a reason to voice over the film. Other then that the opening scene amounts to nothing later in the film. No real reason to be there. There are a bunch of scenes like that throughout the film. Some are what help to bring out the ridiculousness of the film. This film could have been a sort of hard-boiled thriller and mystery if it didn’t seem to get distracted by becoming a Coming of Age film that has the look of a WONDER YEARS episode while parading Zac Efron around in his underwear. I am sure what might have worked on the page here comes off more silly and misguided. The film often times seems confusing or confused itself.

Pedro Almodóvar was several times approached to helm this project and seriously considered to make it his first English-speaking feature. He finally declined but, allegedly, he participated in early versions of the script. He might have been the one to balabce the camp with the drama and thriller elements without making it laughable.

Just as it could have been more believable if John Cusack’s character wasn’t as physically repulsive as he morally.

Alex Pettyfer was first choice for the role of Jack.

Tobey Maguire was cast as Ward but dropped out because of scheduling conflicts. Luckily for him.

Nicole Kidman replaced Sofía Vergara. Which might have pushed it into a more straight to DVD title though the lust factor would have been more understandable. Though explaining her characters origin and why a so called racist would correspond with her would take more then a bit of explaining.

It plays like camp, but tries to be taken seriously which makes it even worse. Though Nicole Kidman seems to be the only one who realizes or is comfortable with having fun and sending it all up, While trying to create a realistic character.

scenes like

Nicole Kidman peeing on Zac Efron to combat his jellyfish stings.

Nicole Kidman masturbating in a jailhouse visit to John Cusack who also masturbates and we see the aftermath of

The film just feels dirty and unnecessary as it’s based on a hard-boiled mystery novel that seems to forget it’s premise. The film feels all over the place, for all of this ridiculousness and shocking scenes that come once on awhile between it is really dull, though gives Zac Efron no real reason to run around constantly only in underwear.

The film gives John Cusack a chance to embarass himself by looking really bad and dirty. Inhabiting a bad caricature of a character.

Matthew McConaughey’s character has an interesting arc that is shockingly Introduced then slightly dropped or pushed out of favor.

The key defining point of this tawdry tale is Nicole Kidman and her character. She gives the role her all and is impressive as a trashy femme-fatale. Overly made up with make up that looks like it was applied by herself an it is messy. She is a scary, but also a scene stealer. She deserves a oscar nomination for her determination and grounding as she stays true to the character throughout and somehow finds a way to fit in.While actually creating a character to care about

The film you think would be ripe for camp, bit it is so underplayed and then serious there isn’t room to enjoy it on a camp level.

In the third act the film revs up to be a thinker then just runs out of steam and ends with no great drama. Leaving us with a whimper.

While I can’t really recommend the film. I will say it is a film to see. To see something hopefully one of a kind. Some might find entertainment from it. Which is why I can’t completely fail it. I believe it shows lee Daniels a former film producer is still leading as a director At least he is trying unlike some directors

 Grade: D

JOHNNY COOL (1963)

Directed By: William Asher
Written By: John McPartland
Based On the novel “The Kingdom of Johnny Cool” By: Joseph London
Cinematography: Sam Leavitt
Editor: Otto Ludwig

Cast: Henry Silva, Elizabeth Montgomery, Telly Savalas, Sammy Davis Jr., Elisha Cook Jr., John Dierks, Jim Backus, Richard Anderson, Joey Bishop, Brad Dexter

Colini, An exiled American gangster living in Sicily, rescues Giordano, a young Sicilian outlaw, from the police. After Giordano is groomed, polished, and renamed “Johnny Cool,” Colini sends him on a vengeance mission to the United States to assassinate the men who plotted his downfall and enforced exile. Johnny arrives in New York and quickly kills several of the underworld figures on Colini’s list. Meanwhile, he picks up Dare Guiness, a wealthy divorcée who becomes his accomplice, and she is severely beaten by the gangsters as a warning against the vendetta.


Th is is a great and beautiful gangster film that I have heard anything about going into it and glad I didn’t. Didn’t have a hype to love up to but was thoroughly entertained and by the end shocked I had never heard of it. Even with it’s a more groovy sounding title. It’s a tight little thriller. This a surprisingly brutal and dark-hearted mob movie where no one gets away scot-free or clean.

You would think this based on a graphic novel made today. As the protagonist at the heart of this tale is a kind of anti-hero sent to do a mission but also has plans of his own. So in the beginning, while the film wants ya to feel for him by the end he has become a villain himself with no happy ending in sight.

The film ends with sorrow as even the innocent character played by Elizabeth Montgomery could have gotten away with her parts in the crimes but ends up being the only honest character and ends up paying the price.

What is interesting about her character is that her character is truthful ashamed and disgusted by the actions of her boyfriend Johnny cool. But she knows if he showed up right then and there it would be impossible to resist him. So she is self-aware realistically.

The assassination and action scenes are riveting and don’t usually show too much violence more alludes to them.  The film has an old school charm where even dealing in the underworld With plenty of doubles crosses everyone comes off dignified and sharp.

This is half a rat pack film as it has small roles played by Sammy Davis jr who also sings a few songs on the soundtrack and Joey bishop plays a small pivotal role, as well as the film Was produced by peter Lawford. Plus Henry Silva playing the title role. has co-Starred in many frank Sinatra and rat pack films. Playing various races in films over the years. 
 

This film is a little known gem that deserves to be seen and appreciated more. 

Grade: B-

ALENA (2005)

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Directed By: Daniel Di Grado
Written By: Daniel Di Grado, Kerstin Gezelius & Alexander Onofri
Based on the Graphic Novel By: Kim W. Andersson
Cinematography By: Simon Olsson
Editor: Linda Jildmalm 


Cast: Amalia Holm, Molly Nutley, Felice Jankell, Rebecka Nyman, Fanny Klefelt 


When Alena arrives at her new elite boarding school, Filippa and the other girls start to harass her. But Alena’s best friend Josefin won’t let her take anymore beating. If she won’t strike back, Josefin will do it for her. Hard.

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HOLD THE DARK (2018)

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Directed By: Jeremy Saulnier
Written By: Macon Blair
Based On The Book By: William Giraldi
Cinematography: Magnus Nordenhof Jonck
Editor: Julia Bloch 


Cast: Jeffrey Wright, James Badge Dale, Alexander Skarsgard, Riley Keough, Beckham crawford, Anabel Kutay, Julian Black Antelope 


Retired naturalist and wolf expert Russell Core journeys to the edge of civilization in northern Alaska at the pleading of Medora Slone, a young mother whose son was killed by a pack of wolves. As Core attempts to help Medora track down the wolves who took her son, a strange and dangerous relationship develops between the two lonely souls. But when Medora’s husband Vernon returns home from the Iraq War, the news of his child’s death ignites a violent chain of events. As local cop Donald Marium races to stop Vernon’s vengeful rampage, Core is forced on a perilous odyssey into the heart of darkness.

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SNOW ANGELS (2007)

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Written & Directed By: David Gordon Green
Based On The Novel By: Stewart O’Nan
Cinematography By: Tim Orr

Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell, Olivia Thirlby, Amy Sedaris, Tom Noonan, Nicky Katt

On a cold afternoon, with snow on the ground, the high school band is practicing for the last football game. They hear shots. Flashback a few weeks before. Arthur is a high school student, bussing at a restaurant. Annie and Barb are waitresses there – Annie was Arthur’s babysitter when he was little. She’s now separated from her husband Glenn, who’s on the wagon, starting a new job, praying to Jesus, and trying to prove he has his balance back so he can see more of their small daughter, Tara. Annie’s seeing someone else, Arthur’s parents have just separated, and Arthur is attracted to Lila, a new student at the high school. It’s a small town, people’s lives cross.

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PREDESTINATION (2014)

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Written & Directed By: Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig (The Spierig Brothers)
Based On A Story “ALL YOU ZOMBIES” By: Robert A. Heinlein
Cinematography By: Ben Nott
Editor: Matt Villa
Music By: Peter Spierig 


Cast: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor, Christopher Kirby, Christopher Sommers

For his final assignment, a top temporal agent must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time. The chase turns into a unique, surprising and mind-bending exploration of love, fate, identity and time travel taboos.

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