THE WHISTLERS (2019)

Written & Directed By: Corneliu Porumboiu
Cinematography: Tudor Mircea
Editor: Roxana Szel

Cast: Vlad Ivanov, Catrinel Martin, Rodica Lazar, Augustif Villaronga, Sabin Tembrea, Istvan Teglas, Cristobel Pinto, Antonio Buil 

Not everything is as it seems for Cristi, a policeman who plays both sides of the law. Embarking with the beautiful Gilda on a high-stakes heist, both will have to navigate the twists and turns of corruption, treachery, and deception.


A calm and composed film noir that is a slow burn throughout. That involves quite a bit of players even though it starts out more intimate. It grows with each new detail.

It’s a neo-noir that is not as comedic as presented within the trailers. While it has dark humor it is more a thriller. 

The film plays out non-linear at first but is presented and put together with different timelines as we flash forward, back, and then sometimes current time. Told lien this for the audience to get more intrigued and keep the story moving forward in a way that adheres to what the audience is familiar with. 

The film comes alive in the third act with twists and turns that allow for some surprises, but still never quite speeds along or leaves details by the wayside.

The film does offer a femme fatale abs one hell of a seduction scene. Even though other than that scene. It never quite explains why the two characters bond enough to overly look out for one another, especially her considering her position. 

The film offers more of a character study of sorts. Even though with so many characters it offers quirk in the language being studied abs used for this caper. Though seems more there to explore the situation and relationships more than being integral to the plot overall.

Though at first the film might be light shearers but have a tough attitude. It soon shows itself to be violent and dangerous also. Where no one Is truly safe or can be completely trusted.

As everyone has their own agenda here including the so-called good guys. While the film offers style it also seems at times to be overly artistic for such a simple premise.

Though we never quite get any answers for why the lead is so tightly wound or got so involved in the first place. As for its many introductions, the film seems only interested in the lead mostly. Who only really changes more out of circumstances. Not organically or emotionally compelled to.

The film is a great jaw-dropping modern interpretation of femme fatale in the form of actress Catrinel Martin still some questions or connection and plans of characters.

She has a great and strong entrance. Where she is illustrious and iconic, but through the rest of the film, he becomes more of a background character losing the Great strength she was shown as having only to become revitalized by the end. 

Definitely an inspired film. Not the action Oriented kind. Yet it keeps you invested.

Grade: B

SIDE EFFECTS (2013)

Directed By: Steven Soderbergh 
Written By: Scott Z. Burns
Cinematography: Steven Soderbergh (As Peter Andrews) 
Editor: Steven Soderbergh (As Mary Ann Bernard)

Cast: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum, Vinessa Shaw, Polly Draper, Ann Dowd, Laila Robins, Mamie Gummer, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Marin Ireland 

A young woman’s world unravels when a drug prescribed by her psychiatrist has unexpected side effects.


Following up his pandemic movie CONTAGION that was a bigger offering with a smaller tale might seem like a step-down but it’s a movie that packs a wallop even though you don’t expect it. Unfortunately by the end, you don’t feel anything. It’s certainly entertaining but it comes off more as a smart artistic popcorn movie. It does its job but at this point movie, fans might be expecting more or stronger From director Soderbergh from his journeyman auteur reputation. This might be what the film suffers from the most 

It’s a movie where things happen but you never quite feel anything it is quite clinical to watch and experience. Even as the twists happen you should care somewhat 

It’s a claustrophobic tale of what happens in all Those high-rise apartments of the haves. As most of the characters come from money and are privileged. Though Channing Tatum heavily billed again he is in the movie very little. 

It feels like it should be bigger even though it focuses more on a singular story 

Each character is smart except for the early victim. So that is refreshing as the film comes more alive when Jude law’s character is more or less fighting for professional and personal survival and all the twists are coming to light, Just as the third act is his plan taking place 

It’s a tale you would expect to be told bigger and more extravagant but with Soderbergh’s style, it focuses more singularly on the plot dynamics allowing room for the character but more or less being to the point and less indulgent. While the film. Still has style and is more technical 

It’s a bigger film from him but still a smaller story though this film feels less experimental than some of his others. This one doesn’t call attention to itself as much and has a stronger script and story than usual.

It allows the mystery of Rooney Mara’s character vacant looks and silence to shape her character and situations. As again when a character uses it to her advantage what people believe about her by her silence and looks. What identity and beliefs they put onto her that might be totally opposite from who she is. They put a character onto her when she is an actual person. She ends up Being the ultimate muse in an unartistic story. One that is mroe made up of successful characters in the medical profession. An unexpected feels Fatale if sorts 

Showing how easy it is for even the most rational of us to fall into a belief of certain fantasies that take the form of supposed responsible thought. Though managed to do it without making it a tale of the weakness of falling into temptation and paying the price for it.

The film seems more like it will be a psychological drama. When actually it will be more of a character-based thriller. This works for this film as it is unexpected and you don’t see it coming. Just as the film involves sex it isn’t very erotic or sexy. 

This is one of the more commercial and straightforward films of Steven Soderbergh. As this one whole cerebral and technical doesn’t feel like an experiment it seems like a smaller project for him that is almost like a short story for him instead of a novel. Which is how full his films can sometimes be. Either with a story or the number of stars usually, cast. 

This is the most likable performance I have found so far of Jude Law’s career. Where he gets to be innocent yet shrewd and the only way out for him is through his Intelligence. Not his looks, wit, or tortured soul. What also helps is that here the performance is mroe natural and effortless. No baggage. As here he plays more of a person, not a character or type. No different look or wardrobe to hide behind. Here he and his performance are stripped down. 

You go into this movie looking for a twist or expecting a thriller and that is what you get but the film plays the more technical side than the emotional. Though it is shockingly mean-spirited and more psychologically ruthless than expected. 

It also shows the passing of time as in the past Catherine Zeta-Jones would be the seducer and audiences would have loved to see her in a same-sex relationship and love scenes. Here as she plays just another victim. It might remind some audience members of the passage of time. Times have certainly changed.

In the end, this is a film that seems simple but then grabs you and takes you through a maze. That is stronger than it appears to be. A throwback to films aimed at adults that wants you to think and figure them out. 

Grade: B- 

KISS OF DEATH (1995)

Directed By: Barbet Schroeder
Written By: Richard Price
Based on the Original Screenplay “KISS OF DEATH” By: Ben Hecht & Charles Lederer
Based on a story By Eleazar Lipsky
Cinematography: Luciano Tovolli
Editor: Lee Percy

Cast: David Caruso, Nicolas Cage, Samuel L. Jackson, Ving Rhames, Stanley Tucci, Helen Hunt, Michael Rapaport, Kathryn Erbe, Jay O. Sanders, Hope Davis, Anthony Heald, Philip Baker Hall, Paul Calderon, Anne Meara, John Costelloe 

A reformed convict goes undercover with the help of an angry detective to ensnare a psychotic mobster.


When I saw the trailer I knew I had to see this film as soon as possible. I had seen it on the show COMING ATTRACTIONS on the E! Channel when it used to be more devoted to film and film lovers. Not so much gossip. This trailer had me hypnotized so much I taped it and would watch it over and over again. Keep in mind this was before the internet. 

One of my favorite trailers at the time. The cast was seductive so I ended up watching it on opening weekend. 

I know this is a remake but i haven’t seen the original. Which unknown was noteworthy for Richard Widmark’s giggling hitman. There are no signs of that here. Even though Nicolas Cage steals the show as the villain here. Though that might be due to the script trying to make him come off as memorable as Richard Widmark.

This film is supposed to be a thriller though most of the time plays like a dark comedy. One that is central To New York’s character types. Even as it has More thriller elements and framework. 

Everybody seems to speak way too loudly throughout and every sentence or word seems to end and be with an exclamation point. 

This is a modern remake for the 1990’s with what would end up being an all-star cast in the middle of their careers and some just been naming their hot streaks. 

The film seems to borrow part of the cast of PULP FICTION. As the dialogue also tries to be loose and have criminals have odd yet funny conversations emblematic of that  film. It even has a few actors from that movie in it’s cast but it has an overall style of cool. A violent cool with bits of dark comedy thrown in. Where it again always feels like the characters are playing types more than real human beings for the most part.

This movie was supposed to help make a movie star out of David Caruso after being a lifelong character actor and being on a hit Television show. Which pulled him to fame and leaving that show after two seasons to be a movie star. Here is a role he was used to just not being at the center of attention.

Nicolas Cage here is off-kilter as always. Muscle bound and hilarious. As he plays an over the top mobster’s son who Caruso is trying to take down or more like the cops are forcing him to. He is murderous yet childlike at instances 

In the end the most despicable character and true villain of the film is Michael Rappaport who causes all this trouble and is taken down early and quickly.

While the film tries to feel realistic. You are always aware that it is a production. As it even feels thoroughly always like cinema. Never like any kind of reality or relatable. 

For all the violence and tough talk by the end it seems a little too cut and dry. Where it ends up feeling lightweight by the end. No matter how far it has taken us. 

GRADE: B- 

AMERICAN ASSASSIN (2017)

Director: Michael Cuesta 
Written By: Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch, Edward Zwick & Marshall Herskovitz 
Based On The Novel By: Vince Flynn 
Cinematography: Enrique Chediak 
Editor: Conrad Buff IV 

Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanna Lathan, Taylor Kitsch, Scott Adkins, Charlotte Vega, David Suchet, Shiva Negar 

Twenty three-year-old Mitch lost his parents to a tragic car accident at the age of fourteen, and his girlfriend to a terrorist attack just as they were engaged. Seeking revenge, he is enlisted by CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy as a black ops recruit. Kennedy then assigns Cold War veteran Stan Hurley to train Mitch. Together they will later on investigate a wave of apparently random attacks on military and civilian targets. The discovery of a pattern in the violence leads them to a joint mission with a lethal Turkish agent to stop a mysterious operative intent on starting a world war in the Middle East.


Director Michael Cuesta has come along way since his debut films L.I.E. And 12 & HOLDING. He has proved himself to be a journeyman director. As he has come from coming of age independent films to studio dramas and nor a full fledged action film. His first which seems to try to become a franchise but works as a one off also.

The film was being planned for a while as quite a few directors were attached such as Ed Zwick, Antoine Fuqua and Jeffrey Nachmanoff. Just as many actors were either offered or considered for the leading role such as Chris Hemsworth, Colin Ferrell, Matthew Fox and Gerard Butler.

The films action sequences are serviceable. They just seem to be violent more in one on one encounters. As the scenes try to be more intimate in the violence but feel broad. As the film truly wants to show blood and guts. So that it plays more like an 1980’a type action film starring an actor you wouldn’t think of or consider for this type of film. Played by Dylan O’Brien Which is what might make his character easy to underestimate or even suspect.

Equally impressive is knowing what the star Dylan O’Brien went through in real life to make a come back the screen in an action film. With plenty of stunts. After suffering a war fatal accident on another movie that left him hospitalized for quite a while.

The film is a mix of espionage and revenge thriller. No one nor any of the story truly makes too much of an impact as the movie pretty much plays by the numbers.

The film has female characters who are all attractive but really have nothing to besides that. They give one character an action sequence where she loses the battle and Saana Lathan’s character while one of the authority figures is only there to authorize and put plans together.

This film is pure action with little to no sex and seduction. Though the film does involve a gory torture scene that was too much for me.

Taylor Kitsch as the villain unfortunately has no presence his character is vague and never quite makes an impression and feels very non descriptive. Though he does take his shirt off a lot. Which weakens the film as then it feels like a battle of the heartthrobs. The tough sensitive one and the bad boy. Which then makes it seem more intended for teenage girls. 

Scott Adkins in a supporting role only seem to be late for scenes meant to show us how tough our lead is going toe to toe, skill to skill with him. Where as if that was what is supposed to be meant. Why not just make him the villain? Then again it seems best to have the heartthrobs against each other in the ends for a more violent tiger beat magazine stand off where only one can survive. 

Michael Keaton seem here for star power more than anything. Also to maybe create an iconic mentor for the main character. As he is believable but deserves better. He replaced Bruce Willis who dropped out.

The main character has nothing and no one to tie him down or wonder what happened to him. Which seems more convenient while trying to infuse his characters loneliness and why having someone taken away from him matters so deeply. Though he does live off a inheritance which also seems to be a huge convenience. That seems to give him a Batman type scenario only with taking down terrorist for the government.

Grade: C

SHADOW IN THE CLOUD (2021)

Directed By: Roseanne Liang
Written By: Max Landis & Roseanne Liang 
Cinematography: Kit Fraser
Editor: Tom Eagles 

Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Beulah Koale, Taylor John Smith, Callum Mulvey, Benedict Wall

On a stormy night during World War II, a female pilot with top-secret cargo talks her way on board a bomber plane about to take-off. The crass all-male crew reluctantly agrees, but their suspicions about her identity and the mysterious cargo quickly grow. Just then a shadow appears in the clouds – was it the incoming Japanese fleet? Or caused by some other sinister stowaway?


This film had a very notorious beginning as one of disgraced Screenwriter Max Landis’s big-budget scripts being turned into a production. 

Though after much rewriting supposedly the film was eventually made. Though one wonders if the script was so pro-female before it was rewritten or maybe if he did write it that way as a kind of public apology against the charges he has been accused of. 

It also might also be an homage to the TWILIGHT ZONE movie which his father was infamously sort of even though he didn’t direct that segment of the film and also kind of a remake of the AMAZING STORIES episode THE MISSION directed by Steven Spielberg.

Either way, the film takes the premise of the classic Twilight zone episode terror at 20,000 feet and changes the situation to that of a fighter plane running a mission with an extra female passenger In the gunner galley who sees the gremlin at first. While the others think she has gone crazy, but also during this, they are being attacked by enemy planes and she is trying to keep a top-secret cargo mission from others.

So the film Is loaded and at first, it seems like this going to be a claustrophobic thriller mainly taking place with her in the gunner pit but then eventually it opens up to the whole plane. So that while it is still contained there is more to work with. 

The film stays entertaining though some of the twists are totally unbelievable and reminds you how much a production this is. Which also helps you to accept the more far fetched elements.

Especially one action Sequence where Chloe Grace Moretz is hanging out of the plane trying to retrieve her package and fight off the gremlin. This then adds the intrigue of a fighter place attacking At the same time and an explosion that has to be seen to be believed. As it is an impressive action sequence but totally laughable thinking about the physics of it and how it is played. 

The film offers a little bit of everything there is intrigue, action, war sequences, thriller a little bit of drama, and even a showcase of sexism from most of the males involved in this mission with her and how in the end she more than proves herself capable and above them. Being the bravest, strongest and most resourceful.

In the end, though they help at times as resources this is really Moretz’s action film to take hold of. As she is the hero and they are more the damsels in distress who help out a little.

It isn’t as pumped up as a similar world war II film OVERLORD but It’s a fun action film that uses history and injects something supernatural. So that they have to deal with these otherworldly elements with whatever resources they have that aren’t that advanced.

If anything this movie is an entertaining b-movie and a perfectly fun time waster. 

Grade: C

FEMALE PRISONER SCORPION: BEAST STABLE (1973)

Directed by: Shun’ya ito
Written By: Hiro Matsuda & Tooru Shinohara 
Cinematography: Masao Shimizu 
Editor: Osamu Tanaka

Cast: Meiko Kaji, Mikio Narija, Reisen Ri, Yayoi Nanbara, Seiya Sato, Takashi Fujiki, Tomoko Mayama, Mitsuru Mori 

Sasori is outside the prison and on the run from the police, wanted for breaking out of prison and murder. She takes refuge with a woman who has a brother with a learning disability. The woman and her brother are also involved in an incestuous relationship. Both the police and an ex-prison mate of Sasori’s pursue her.


This sequel feel more like a closing chapter more than anything. As it feels final and with little else to go. It’s also a lot more somber than the previous films. 

Don’t get me wrong it is still outrageous but not as ridiculous. As scorpion is On the run again and it seems everyone has it in for her. So that she has to seek revenge in multiple characters. The film is inventive in how it all comes together with characters each passing into another’s story.

Though this film is much sadder than the others as throughout this film scorpion becomes a ghostly Angel of vengeance for other characters who are victims of the villains throughout. As well as haunting the villains who underestimate her at first.

The film still has many uncomfortable exploitive moments meant to add drama or provoke a reaction out of the audience. Especially when it comes to sex scenes. This film feels more scaled back when it comes to sex and nudity but does have a sympathetic character In an incestuous relationship.

By the end no one Truly wins. The character you expect to somewhat be saved or be on the road to a better life by the end is pretty much still left where she was at the beginning. Only more tortured, but at least made a connection with the scorpion.

This is the last film of the franchise directed by Shun’ya Ito, which might be why this feels more like a finale than the eventual final sequel that stars Meiko Kaji in the role of the scorpion. Before eventually producers decided to revitalize the franchise without any of the original team involved.

All the male characters are evil and deplorable. Most are disposable also as cops, henchmen, or depraved men looking for sex or to exploit women.

One of the villains in the film Katsu seems more like a villain. Suited for the more outrageous previous films especially with her wardrobe and make up. As she comes across as campy almost she is cruel but the right amount of ridiculous as the previous films. Luckily as the film Goes along her development goes from scared to haunted to absolutely crazy with guilt. That she eventually matched the paleness of the make-up on her face naturally.

The film shows that the purgatory of prison was just as bad as the outside. At least prison only took up a certain amount of space. As the harsh reality of freedom seems to make the female characters natural prey. As it is so unpredictable. Whereas in prison you knew who to trust who not to.

The film shines a light on the harsh reality for the character after the more psychedelic freestyled previous films 

GRADE: B-

THE RECRUIT (2003)

Directed By: Roger Donaldson
Written By: Robert Towne, Mitch Glazer & Kurt Wimmer
Cinematography By: Stuart Dryburgh
Editor: David Rosenbloom 

Cast: Al Pacino, Colin Farrell, Ron Lea, Bridget Moynahan, Gabriel Macht

In an era when the country’s first line of defense, intelligence, is more important than ever, this story opens the CIA’s infamous closed doors and gives an insider’s view into the Agency: how trainees are recruited, how they are prepared for the spy game, and what they learn to survive. James Clayton might not have the attitude of a typical recruit, but he is one of the smartest graduating seniors in the country – and he’s just the person that Walter Burke wants in the Agency. James regards the CIA’s mission as an intriguing alternative to an ordinary life, but before he becomes an Ops Officer, James has to survive the Agency’s secret training ground, where green recruits are molded into seasoned veterans. As Burke teaches him the ropes and the rules of the game, James quickly rises through the ranks and falls for Layla, one of his fellow recruits. But just when James starts to question his role and his cat-and-mouse relationship with his mentor… 


The film could have been a good espionage spy film. If it had made any sense. This is one of those films that starts off well then wants to be different than the rest of these types. So that it induces a twist into the plot then another one, Then another one. Soon there are so many double-crosses that you forget who is on whose side. There is no reason to justify any of the double-crosses.

When the film ends it tries to tie everything together in a neat little bow. Hoping you forget all the nonsense that went on before it and just say the plot was all a conspiracy. If the point of all of the confusion was to make the film and characters’ paranoia seem truthful and make the audience question everything then it had achieved what it set out to be. 

Though it is not exciting at all with Basic runoff the mill action sequences. The shameful this is that this movie could have been good. You have a director Roger Donaldson who hasn’t had any luck with Hollywood films (The Getaway) but is actually a skilled director (The Bank Job). 

He shows a great deal of talent with his projects that are independently funded, but here he just makes things look sharp and nice but with no real input. It has the feel of an espionage film and the look. The film just falls short so that you stop caring due to confusion and what ends up not making any sense. 

At first, what is interesting in the film becomes tedious as the movie goes on. Colin Farrell is what I consider his blue period where he made a bunch of Hollywood projects in roles that any actor could have played. He was a struggling actor who was thrust into the limelight and was taking any lead that was offered to him. He has tremendous talent, yet he brings nothing really to the film or role. He is just going through the motions. 

Strangely this film feels outdated watching it now. As it seems to be trying to stay in step with what was cutting edge at the time.

This is especially strange when watching a film meant to be an espionage tale. As usually they are more sharp. Understandably they wanted to fit in with the current trends and technology but in the long run hurt the films future and legacy. Truly making this movie feel all the more disposable.


The shocking thing is that the script was written (And I suspect heavily rewritten) By 3 Highly talented Screenwriters and script doctors. I don’t know what went wrong exactly but other than the clever Kurt Vonnegut references the film is heavily disappointing. 

Al Pacino is clearly having fun as Colin’s Machiavellian mentor who is chewing the scenery left and right with his overacting. Al Pacino has been doing this overacting schtick. So long he has turned it into his own art form. That only he can do. It’s like a one-man show. It used to be just his acting now his hair and all of its different outrageous styles and size are just as distracting. I respect him he is still a good actor who shows the talent we all know he has once in a while.

I guess as he gets older if he knows the project is beneath him or is just really a paycheck. He doesn’t really bother giving it his all he just has fun with it. It just seems like he is damaging his brand, His career is legendary and once you could always give a movie the benefit of the doubt if the film was bad you could rely on his performance being good. Now it is all a wild card. 

 Skip it 

 GRADE: D

THE GHOST WHO WALKS (2019)

Directed By: Cody Stokes
Written By: Cody Stokes & Ben Bostick
Cinematography: Michael Lockridge 

Cast: Garland Scott, Frank Mosley, Alexia Rasmussen, Gil Darnell, Dasha Nekrasova, Nattalyee Randall, Peter Mayer 

After five years in prison, guards lead Nolan to his freedom. But Nolan’s ticket out came courtesy of ratting on his former boss. A death sentence for any man. His goal: find Lena and Amy-his ex and their five-year-old daughter he’s never met-and get them out of the city, to a new life together, before the ghosts of his past can track him down and kill him.


I Hadn’t heard anything about this film and decided to take a chance Was pleasantly surprised. 

This film doesn’t have a cast of well-known actors. Which leaves the audience not necessarily having any expectations. It’s nice to go into certain films blind from time to time. Though makes it more thrilling than anything goes. There are no rules. No one is safe. 

The film is a done and dirty pulp tale of love, escape and revenge. While it doesn’t offer much you haven’t seen before it does hold your interest and wishing the lead character the best.

The film feels like a film that was adapted from a short story or a graphic novel. As there seems to be much more left unsaid or hinted at than shown at times. That gives the audience a hint that the material is deeper than what we are presented with. 

Everyone the main character comes across or comes into contact with and actually helps him. Seems to pay their own price.

The action scenes feel realistic and not too glamorous or showing off. Though oddly they do contain a bit of humor. The only time the film seems to show any.

The film, like the main character, gives it a try and is successful more times than not. Even as the villains feel familiar and one-note, but you can understand most of the character’s points of view and motivations.

The film is impressively done with a more limited budget. What is achieved is good even in the middle of the film’s Limitations and of him, bonding with others helps the film feel more earnest at times. As it takes time to build moments and characters. 

Though familiar the film never feels monotonous. Though it is a dark and bleak tale as by the end it truly shows itself to be a tragedy. 

Grade: C+

SLEEPLESS (2017)

Directed By: Baran Bo Odar
Written By: Andrea Berloff 
Based in the film “NUIT BLANCHE” Written by: Frederic Jardin, Nicolas Saada & Olivier Douyere 
Cinematography: Mirai Malaimaire Jr.
Editor: Robert Rzesacz

Cast: Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Dermot Mulroney Jr., Scoot Mcnairy, Tip T.I. Harris, David Harbour, Gabrielle Union 

Undercover Las Vegas police officer Vincent Downs finds himself trapped in a web of corrupt cops, internal affairs and violent gangsters. When a failed heist leads to the kidnapping of his son, Downs must race against time during an intense and restless night to save him and bring the criminals to justice.


I can admit this film already seemed D.O.A. When the trailers for the film hit. As nothing in the trailer came across as new or even exciting and watching the film it pretty much felt the same. While plenty of things happen on screen and in the story. It still all feels basic and familiar and the film, not performances add any excitement to it.

I will admit I liked the French original version of this film SLEEPLESS NIGHTS very much, but in the American translation, a lot of fresh and maybe foreign cultural elements are dropped. Making the film come across as more of a big-budgeted longer episode of a police procedural. 

As the original film Offered complications that felt essential and consequential. Here the film just seems to throw complications that seem more here to be filler than anything. Else 

Scoot McNairy’s villain is the only memorable thing in the whole film. Who would have been great in a better movie? 

The film feels like for a recognizable cast who do try there is really Little effort put into the film at all to feel special or set itself apart. So that by the end it feels basic yet disappointing. Which is a shame as Jamie Foxx has proven to be a versatile and charismatic actor who can be funny, dramatic and tough when he needs to be and this film offers only the later but like most of the roles. Never feels specific enough to their talents so that virtually anyone could have played these roles.

The only Element that felt somewhat exciting was the ending that leaves room for a sequel or alludes to an even bigger conspiracy. 

This just feels like a lost opportunity. Where all this film seems to offer is more a stylish music video technique to the story without really adding anything worthy dramatically or even character-wise. 

It just simply he’s out all the originality out of the original. Truly making this a Hollywood byproduct. If anything it feels like an audition for the director to show what he can do with so little. 

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