CAPONE (2020)

Written, Edited & Directed By: Josh Trank
Cinematography: Peter Deming

Cast: Tom Hardy, Linda Cardellini, Matt Dillon, Kyle Maclachlan, Al Sapienza, Katherine Narducci, Noel Fisher, Jack London, Neal Brennan, Tilda Del Toro

The 47-year old Al Capone, after 10 years in prison, starts suffering from dementia and comes to be haunted by his violent past.


There is a lot here to deal with. Most of the film and material comes off as a fever dream that hints at or points out places of interest. Though pretty soon the films succumb to the madness of the protagonist and soon becomes where you can’t tell memory from a flashback of reality or madness.  

Tom hardy is clearly enjoying himself going fully overboard in a lived-in performance under tons of make-up and using active tics constantly. He sounds like a human cobra commander and the makeup seems realistic in that it is overdone think Johnny Depp in BLACK MASS where neither of them looks natural or all that human necessarily. Where he mostly makes noises and his character continuously poops on himself. To show degradation and how sick he is and the mighty have fallen but it happens so often. After a while, you feel like you could program a drinking game to it.  

The film swings and attempts a kind of David Lynch vibe of the film where the strangeness and non-linear storytelling will be fascinating in Itself and it’s own art that the audience will find the beauty in all of this. Which works with a director who is used to or knows for telling stories in that way. Unfortunately, this one isn’t. Casting Kyle Maclachlan in the film only helps strengthen this theory.  

As this is supposed to be writer/director Josh Trank’s comeback after the FANTASTIC FOUR movie bombing. One can understand why he went this route. As most of the films he made before were special effects spectacles and science fiction. Here he gets his hand to try drama and thriller of sorts. As well as a crime story based on real people.  

This film just seems all over the place and might have been more interesting with some cohesiveness and an understanding as half the people in his house we are left wondering their relationships. A lot of stuff isn’t explained And it comes off as more random And not fun random. 

As the audience might not know that much about al Capone and his past. So when bringing in various information, characters and showing them to have significance later in the film is purposeful but when we are introduced we don’t know of their importance and seem more random or built up to not mean as much when their character is more revealed. 

This is a film that has a lot of symbolism but nothing really behind it as it offers no hints or notes. So it keeps building to ultimately nothing. It could have been tightened by the missing buried money plot, a treasure hunt if you will, making it stronger. 

Even if it feels like a point of interest for the other strands of stories and characters to revolve around, it would also help as half the time making us wonder if this is all an act and he actually is mad or at first he is faking and then slowly he and we realize he is actually going crazy. As watching it now we know he is crazy but never knows what is real, fantasy, flashback. 

Which doesn’t help when we see scenes of characters that have nothing to do with him mixed in. So we take those as real and then later male reveals where maybe they weren’t. The randomness includes Matt Dillon being introduced during a sex scene why? So the film will have some Sex In it? Then being called into Florida with his amour. We never see her again and as it is separate why are we seeing it when we eventually learn of his character and his eventual fate. 

In the end, you can see what attracted the cast and why the director made the film Or at least his intentions, but it seems to have had the equivalent of shooting himself in the foot.

While also having the last hurrah on a sinking ship that only he thought might survive and prosper.  

Grade: D

FLOWER (2017)

Directed by: Max Winkler
Story by: Alex McAuley
Written By: Max Winkler, Alex McAuley & Matt Spicer
Cinematography: Carolina Costa
Editor: Jeff Seiben & Sarah Beth Shapiro

Cast: Zoey Deutch, Joey Morgan, Kathryn Hahn, Tim Heidecker, Adam Scott, Dylan Gelula, Maya Eshat, Eric Edelstein

A sexually curious teen forms an unorthodox kinship with her mentally unstable stepbrother.


Though the story focuses on a teenage girl. This still reeks of a kind of romantic fantasy that throws in some quirks but then some hard-hitting subject matter and scenes, but then tries to get off on a certain crude charm and edge.

As we are supposed to follow the teen characters more and be compelled yet the fil keeps wanting to remind us though they are doing serious actions. They don’t know any better or think about the consequences they are just kids.

While the ending is sweet, it also feels more like wish fulfillment. Which goes against the whole vibe the film seems headed towards. Even with its quirky quality realism.

Especially when it asks you to believe that it ends up as a love story after all of a sudden between two characters you wouldn’t expect.

We never fully understand somewhat, what makes the main character work. Though she still comes off as a kind of fantasy. quirky, cute, with daddy issues, and overtly sexual as she likes giving oral sex and seems to constantly offer it. As even the first scene we see her in the middle of it. Yet dresses like a tomboy. She is a teenage manic pixie dream girl only here the protagonist. She is the main character who doesn’t know any better that she needs to be saved. She thinks she is the one who is helping.

Luckily she is played by Zoey Deutch who shines in the role and always feels believable. One of her first leading roles and she goes through it with flying colors as she stays believable. While being relatable and a comedic character of sorts.

Adam Scott provides great shades to his character where you find him charming and angry enough to believe he is an innocent man railroaded but at other times white devious looking enough to believe maybe he is guilty. So a nice guy bad boy charm. Who should know better than to be hanging around with a teenage girl after what he has been accused of. At first, he seems like a viable inappropriate love interest as they bond but a nice guy none the less, but at every turn, there is a question as his shifting behavior doesn’t help. 

The movie was filmed for half a million and filmed In 17 days. This is impressive in fact a return for writer/Director Max Winkler his first since 2010’s CEREMONY. His films are usually

Dramatic and fun comedically quirky with some artistic merit. As they are inventive only wish he made more of them. When not being a successful television director. Didn’t even know he had made it until the end credits.

The film is smart in having a vision and matching it with a laid back California vibe. Definitely a geek fantasy of sorts.

GRADE: B-

SUBMARINE (2010)

Directed By: Richard Ayoade
Written By: Richard Ayoade & Joe Dunthorne
Based on a Novel By: Joe Dunthorne
Cinematography: Erik Alexander Wilson 
Editor: Chris Dickens & Nick Fenton

Cast: Craig Roberts, Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins, Paddy Considine, Yasmin Page, Gemma Chan 

Precocious Oliver struggles with being popular in school but when a dark-haired beauty takes interest in him, he’s determined to become the best boyfriend in the world. Meanwhile, his parents’ already rocky relationship is threatened when his mother’s ex-boyfriend moves in next door. Oliver makes some unorthodox plans to ensure that his parents stay together and that Jordana still likes him.
Now, this film is another one where I read the book first and greatly enjoyed the book and wished that they could incorporate most of the book into the film. It is smart and fun.

It takes what it can from the book to make a coherent story. It doesn’t fail to entertain to stand back and marvel at. It’s a film that will be criticized for copying or emulating the style of Wes Anderson.

Let’s face it any movie that has visual camera tricks. A Minuit style, colorful sets and contains a certain innocence in a cynical world, will be accused of copying the style. Wes Anderson didn’t create it. He liked and revels in it as an artistic choice. As it was there before so if another chooses to use a similar style as ling as it is its own story. Which is what director Richard Ayoade does here. One doesn’t see the problem to do the book justice. You would need that style.

The visuals in The film can be distracting but they are so abstract and creative. They never fail to amaze though after a while you tend to get used to them, but you are glad they are to really get to the heart of the scene.

I can admit story-wise there isn’t much at stake. There will be no great tragedy. No one will not be able to recover from, but just as it always will be when you are a teenager. Your emotions are so on edge. Everything even the small moments and decisions feels magnified and the wrong one feels like the beginning of the apocalypse.

It’s a quality film. The only weak spots I felt were the believability if our main Characters’ parents played by Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins. Who are both good and heartbreaking but they feel in the movie more like characters instead of human beings.

Sally Hawkins seems too unemotional. While Noah Taylor is over the top emotional and you wonder how their characters even Fell in love, but that relationship of what could have been lies in perfect contrast to the main characters Oliver’s relationship with Jordan’s. What is supposed to be and where is this going as when he is romantic she doesn’t want to be close. When she wants to be close be is scared Away.

The film is directed and co-written by Richard Ayoade. Who is a British comedy writer, performer, and sitcom star. I gained an admiration for him. As he presents himself to be a thoughtful, witty, inventive, and talented filmmaker.

The film is magical it reminds you of the many off-kilter films about young outsiders. Over the years and I must admit, I am a sucker for stories about them. Which is what attracted me to the book in the first place.

The film Most reminds me of HAROLD AND MAUDE. Down to Craig Roberts resembling a young Bud Cort.

I believe this film to be a small gem worth seeking out. Definitely an addition to the film library. I only wish it was a criterion collection. Dvd. So one could know all about the production and the director’s choices. I’d even settle for an audio commentary

GRADE: B+

HURRICANE STREETS (1997)

Written & Directed By: Morgan J. Freeman
Cinematography: Enrique Chediak
Editor: Sabine Hoffman

Cast: Brendan Sexton III, Mtume Gant, Carlo Alban, Edie Falco, Lynn Cohen, Shawn Elliott, Adrian Grenier, L.M. Kit Carson, Isidra Vega, Jose Zuniga, Heather Matarazzo, David Moscow 

A teenage petty criminal dreams of escaping his increasingly unlawful lifestyle when he meets a sweet girl who hopes to one day travel to Alaska.


This film comes across like a well Made student thesis film. Made all the more gritty for a more realistic feel and street credibility and for the film’s reputation. It comes across simple enough.

The film Has a central love story that is what helped sell the film. That romance actually stays very sweet and innocent. Actually, it’s the only part of the film that feels pure and natural making the film more endearing.

The film starts off with a strong opening though slowly gets duller. As the main character seems to get continuously plain red into a corner and tries his best to get out.

The film’s mindset stays juvenile and onto wales up to stone-cold reality towards the end. Which might be understandable as most of the characters are teens kids really. So we follow them.

How else do you explain that the crew couldn’t tell they had a snake in their midst. As well as a snitch. Though by the end you do feel a certain sympathy for all involved.

The recurring theme of the darts game feels silly and only later it’s importance is revealed.

This seems like the typical Sundance film festival youth crime story that was popular at the time that promised to show the grit that was going down but comes off softer than expected.

The film has an ambiguous ending that is clearly is inspired by THE GRADUATE. As both characters are hopeful but have nowhere to go. Only she doesn’t know it yet. She also stays the only innocent character throughout the whole film As she has done Nothing to deserve her troubles.

She already has to deal with an overbearing father. Who starts out a villain and then turns into a victim.

I remember loving this film when it first came out. Even watching it twice in theaters. Watching it today it’s a film that is very of its time period and doesn’t necessarily age well. Like an embarrassing photo from your youth that brings back memories but also feels a little embarrassed of.

Unfortunately, after that strong opening, we see the rest of the scene play out towards the end that more comes across as a desperate comedy of errors.

The film achieved certain popularity at the time due to a hit song that was featured on the soundtrack SEX & CANDY by Marcy Playground.

I try not to bad mouth it put down any films especially independent ones that have a hard enough time trying to find an audience in the first place.

This is the type of film that was praised as strong and authentic at the time though does feel like a film made for teens made by one of them, again at the time

In the end, the film ties into a carefree youth whereas most of the characters are poorer so that they base their decisions and behavior more on that and have bigger repercussions but more are doing things to fun as well as survival.

Grade: C

A PRAYER BEFORE DAWN (2017)

prayer-before-dawn

 

Directed By: Jean-Stephane Suavarie
Written By: Jonathan Hirschbein & Nick Saltrese
Cinematography By: David Ungaro
Editor: Marc Boucrot 


Cast: Joe Cole 


Billy Moore, an English boxer, down on his luck, addicted to Ya Ba, and stuck in Thailand, ends up getting arrested and sent to Chiang Mai Prison, where he struggles to survive and eventually ends up fighting in Muay Tai boxing tournaments.

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THE HALF OF IT (2020)

Written & Directed By: Alice Wu  Cinematography: Greta Zozula 

Editor: Ian Blume & Lee Percy 

Cast: Leah Lewis, Daniel Diemar, Alexxis Lemire, Wolfgang Novogratz, Collin Chou, Becky Ann Baker, Catherine Curtin 

A shy, introverted, Chinese-American, straight-A student finds herself helping the school jock woo the girl they both secretly love. In the process, each teaches the other about the nature of love as they find a connection in the most unlikely of places.


I can sometimes be a sucker for a coming of age story. even if it has a romance at the heart of it and they usually do.

This one isn’t as conventional but it is as sweet as any teen love story. Only here dealing more with confusion and revelation. An almost teen Cyrano story only with lgbtq romance and character. 

You’ll enjoy that the fil mHas the emotions but doesn’t overload the audience or story with it. It’s what brings the characters together but it’s not what the film Is all about. As the storylines never become so dire that it feels like life or death, not in the consequences.

This is an original unsuspecting love triangle tale with no true villains. It actually has more depth, drama, and humor than expected, but stays perfect for it’s intended audience. As the film is more character-driven by a few of them rather than Story or plot. As it actually feels layered.

While it has it’s Goofy moments it feels surprising down to earth and earnest. Even if it has the hallmarks of a more cute, quirky indie film. That with youth brings an amount of energy but also a still calmness. 

Which I applaud Netflix for presenting such a film Showing a balance as it has it’s More conventional teen films and then a film like this that actually approaches it’s Material respectfully and treats the audience the same way

This is an LGBT crush’s story that creeps up on you more like a romance and then a romantic comedy before becoming a love story and a surprisingly minor character study.

What can be really appreciative other than that the film and characters are more open-minded then you would expect is that the more all the characters get to know each other they like them for the qualities they notice and learn about them and appreciate that other then just looks. Just as the characters are more than their looks and have talents and know-how.

This film shows the beauty in the plain and makes small-town loving look luxurious itself in its own little hidden nooks, crannies, stories, and mysteries.

Grade: B

MS .45 (1981)

Directed By: Abel Ferrara
Written By: Nicholas St John
Cinematography: James Momel
Editor: Christopher Andrews Cast: Zoe Lund, Albert Sinkys, Darlene Stuto, Helen McGara A timid and mute seamstress goes insane after being attacked and raped twice in one day, in which she takes to the streets of New York City after dark and randomly shoots men with a .45 caliber pistol.


It took me a while to finally watch this as the film Has certain notoriety which was why I was afraid of it and it’s reputation. Not as gratuitous as feared and lives up to the hype. 

It’s a cultural landmark movie as we are witnessing classic New York. 

The film seems simple but very subversive and well thought out for the first time. Still has moments that are meant to be shocking and tension-filled. This is the perfect movie for the #Metoo era. A kind of worst nightmare.

To introduce us To the atmosphere the film takes place in we see how The chorus line of guys waiting to Hit on the ladies as they are Leaving the office how bad it is in the streets for the ladies and how it used to be and still seems to be. 

The film is simple and matter of fact. As a rape-revenge film. Kind of like DEATH WISH. As the person who victimized her at first gets away. It’s the second one on the same day that she fights back against and gets revenge on.

The main character is So quiet not even introduced in the first scene she is the last to leave after all the other characters we know have left. Sort of just appearing in the film.  Everyone around her is constantly looking after her, her co-workers, and even her neighbors. 

She is Mute and this seems to be the way of getting her feelings out. Her way Of dealing with the train as she has no one to really discuss what happened. Even as she becomes increasingly cold. She becomes suspicious of others more and more the deeper she gets into her killing spree. We see The different types of her victims, not rapists but she is constantly aware of male aggression and feels she must stop them. She also never kills a woman. Taking on men in general who cross her other who are aggressive, violent, or come on strongly. 

The second victim who was trying to return her purse while hitting on her, Is more innocent but had similar behavior that made him still come off just as bad, don’t usually see that in these films makes the heroine not justified but just as guilty.

 She is Taking back power but throughout taking out violence on those attracted to her though tends to like to watch over a couple making out with Fascination. So she ends up hyper-sexualized whereas before she was just plain and innocent. She has a focus and purpose that consumes her. As she goes out Looking for victims. The dog in the film that belongs to her neighbor seems to be able to tell how bad she is. As he is increasingly violent or uneasy with her.

She never seems to buy new bullets but we assume she does as we later see her loading her gun at home but she never seems to run out or reload and has plenty of ammo There is a certain poetic justice when she is taken down by another female who she can’t bare to kill. 

Making exploitation films early director Abel Ferrera kept making these films some might consider sleazy until they were looked upon as art.

Grade: B 

HANDGUN (AKA DEEP IN THE HEART) (1983)


Written & Directed By: Tony Garnett
Cinematography: Charles Stewart
Editor: William Shafter

Cast: Karen Young, Clayton Davis, Suzie Humphreys, Helena Humann

Shortly after moving to Dallas, a young woman is raped at gunpoint. Her intense anger drives her to seek revenge, and she becomes a hunter on a vengeance mission.


The movie is obvious yet simple definitely dated as of the attitude of the male lead and the characters, in general, might have been average for those times but comes off piggish, misogynistic, scary, and rather despicable.

Half of the enjoyment of the film is waiting and watching for him to get his comeuppance. The film Is made in Texas and has a more conservative attitude as most of the characters do The lead actress in this film Karen Young is one of these actresses you constantly see in things and are usually good but never quite become the star. This is the first time I have ever really seen her in a starring role.

Her character after being raped by a guy she is dating and not being able to find justice. We watch as she prepares to get revenge learning how to shoot and learning survival Info and technique. As well as taking an interest in knives.

The films differentiate in that while Learning this she keeps running into her rapist. Lawyer and gun advocate who belongs to the same gun club. So they keep running into one another and he notices a Definite change in her. As she seems to be warning him it seems she becomes more and more intimidating to him And it is obvious she is wounded yet on the hunt. 

The lead male played by Clayton Davis is believable yet amateurish. He comes off naturally as a mean spirited character. Who never comes off as charming as even the movie tries to hint at him being. Not only a good old boy but sex-obsessed as he leers at teenage cheerleaders and ice skaters but also spends his nights drinking with colleagues at bars ogling scantily clad busty girls fighting one another. (Somehow this is supposed to be above Mudwrestling? maybe cleaner?) 

He also shows himself to always be in control and knowing what he s doing. as even when raping her earning what could happen with the gun he has pointed at her and what will happen as he will explain her shooting as an accident. How it will be covered up and thrown out of court. If she doesn’t give in. As he seems dead set on bedding her from the beginning and gets more forceful the more she resists him. We see his frustrations and machinations. Especially as he believes he is right and this way is better for her. As her rejection of him sexually is obviously her having sexual problems and hang-ups. He seems like an obvious date rapist especially by modern-day standards. Before the Term and type were more common.

If it were made today he would come off as a stereotype. The film Shows every aspect of the Rape except for the act and shows his behavior as obviously premeditated. 

The film is pretty simple it seems a bit bold for the time period it was made during. It’s better Than expected. So direct it feels more like it was made for tv issue of the week. Rather than cinema, but it works with no inspired touches.

Being that it takes place in Texas most of the attitudes of the characters do come off racist/conservative old school. This allows the crime to happen but also allows for her revenge so easily.

The film doesn’t ask any moral questions. It pretty much has you rooting for her from the beginning. Never questioning her actions or decisions. 

The film is entertaining with not much finesse but a story that keeps you interested. The ending is not what you expect and comes off as rather light. This is a revenge tale, not a vigilante one. As she has her eyes all set on him And no one else nor becoming a crusader.

The film shows men aren’t All evil but seem to be bullheaded throughout. This makes a good double featured with them sally field vigilante movie EYE FOR AN EYE. 

Grade: B-

THE LADIES CLUB (1986)

Directed By: A.K. Allen
Written By: Fran Lewis Ebeling & Paul Mason
Based on the novel “THE SISTERHOOD” By: Casey Bishop & Betty Black Cinematography: Adam Greenberg
Editor: Marion Segal & Randall Torno

Cast: Karen Austin, Diana Scarwid, Christine Belford, Bruce Davison, Beverly Todd, Marilyn Kagan, Arliss Howard, James LeGros, Carol Baxter, Paul Terafotes 

A raped policewoman forms a vigilante group of various rape victims. They abduct and castrate men whom have committed repeated violations of women, and got away with it through legal technicalities.

This rape-revenge vigilante tale is a little different In the way that the revenge seems to never be to kill the men who rape repeatedly. Like Batman, that question only seems to come late but they punish the men by castrating them.

The film for the tawdry subject matter. Plays more like a television movie on the subject as there is barely any bad language and at times the scenes while well-meaning in their direction and emotions come off more melodramatic and unintentionally humorous. 

Especially the scene when a character you get sister is sexually assaulted (luckily never shown) but the aftermath and how it is shown just seems like Something out of a public device announcement you would show to school children about the dangers of going off with a stranger. 

When it begins the film seems like it will be typical and even the perpetrators seem more of a stock room of suspects punks who are looking to rob a house. Discover she is a cop and then decide to rape her and they get off on court easily by acting and dressing like choir boys.

We meet various female characters throughout some of whom stay with their spouses who claim to not even believe them When they said they were raped (what). 

Though most of the males come off bad or unsympathetic by the end. Even Bruce Davison playing a fellow cop who is interested in Karen comes off as a weakling and ineffective even as he tries to romance her and be there for her. 

Arliss Howard shows up playing a co-star’s husband who when he finds out what she is dining and breaking the rules by telling him. As she only tells him because he suspects she was having an affair. He comes across more aggressive and abusive to be believably supportive later on.

While we meet plenty of these women in the group. We only get to know three In particular and by the end the one who didn’t sure become the strongest advocate for what they are doing and the one who was gung- ho at first. Now has reservations.

The third act while obviously done for dramatic purposes seems silly and only there for the ending to finally put a fine point on all of this.

So while the film offers a different take on the vigilante tale. Including where it seems the original Perpetrators that start off the lead and who is the very reason they seek revenge never really come back. 

So the film is something to entertain but very hard to take seriously watching it through the prism of modern times.

Grade: C

WHITE GOD (2015)

white-god-2015

Directed By: Kornel Mundruczo
Written By: Kornel Mundruczo, Viktoria Petranyi & Kata Weber
Cinematography By: Marcell Rev
Editor: David Jancso 


Cast: Zsofia Psotta, Sandor Zsoter, Lili Horvath, Szabolcs Thuroczy, Lili Monori

Thirteen-year-old Lili fights to protect her dog Hagen. She is devastated when her father eventually sets Hagen free on the streets. Still innocently believing love can conquer any difficulty, Lili sets out to find her dog and save him.

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