WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005)

Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Josh Friedman & David Koep
Based On The Novel By: H.G. Wells
Cinematography: Janusz Kaminski
Editor: Michael Kahn

Cast: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins, Justin Chatwin, Miranda Otto, Yul Vazquez, Rick Gonzalez, Lisa Ann Walter, Lenny Venito, David Alan Basche 

An updated version of H.G Wells’ seminal sci-fi classic about an alien invasion threatening the future of humanity. The catastrophic nightmare is depicted through the eyes of one American family fighting for survival.


This film is not great it’s barely good if you can work your way around it, you can maybe call it entertaining.

The few things I liked about this movie were this instead of a big-budget earth vs aliens action epic it more showed how an alien invasion affected a family in a small neighborhood. Not some paramilitary character doing  on stop stunts and slaughtering aliens along the way

The action that there is, is spectacular action sequences and the scenes we do get are amazing and it astonishes the audience with the volume of people involved in those scenes all the stunts and coordination is such an undertaking that one must give director Steven Spielberg respect. He is a gifted filmmaker and this truly shows where his talents lie and can be beautiful, but then again here come the problems.

The film Goes on for too long. There are the usual with Mr. Spielberg three places where the film could have ended. One of the few admirable elements is that we learn what is going on and the fate of the world through stories of various survivors and the few glimpses of the media.

The film doesn’t make the main character played by Tom Cruise too much of a hero either. He’s a lazy dead beat dad. Who just wants to survive and protect his family. He makes some right decisions and makes many wrongs. The only thing he seems to be sure of is that he wants to return the kids to their mother. One must give credit to Tom Cruise who usually plays not only macho bit with few flaws. Finally, play someone who is nowhere near perfect. Is certainly a stretch for his ego.

 As his character’s plan is as usual to take little responsibility and put the kid’s welfare more in the mother’s hands. As he isn’t doing it out of love for her. This is also the film where it seems to have all started going down for him box office and maybe even personally. The box office this was his last bonafide hit outside of a franchise.

The film has no true villains some people do bad things out of a need for survival they weren’t despicable Before. Especially when Tim Robbins comes into the picture who seemed to be reprised by his role from MYSTIC RIVER that he won an Oscar for the year before or at least keeping the accent. Only here more annoying. A favorite moment in the film is what ends up happening to him. I felt like cheering even though it is an emotionally conflicted moment for Tom.

The narration by Morgan Freeman was a bit much. Was there a two for one sale on narrations with this and MARCH OF THE PENGUINS. It was unnecessary.

What truly is disappointing is the tacked-on implausible happy ending. How did his son live when that hill he was on was annihilated Tom let his son go why because he asked politely? When he has yelled at him throughout the film. Was he knowingly sending him to his death? Letting him be a man and accept his own fate?

One has an idea while watching this film that could have made this film better or at least a little more original and different than most of those alien invasion films. 

Like, kill off Tom Cruise and his son. Preferably at the turning of the ferry or kill just tom (killing off the star? What is the audience to do? We then follow either his son and daughter as they figure out how to survive this and get reunited with mom at the End or have Tom sacrifice himself or just killed when he and his daughter are abducted by the aliens and continue the film after that as we watch the aliens start to die off and the reactions of the survivors. That might have been a more powerful ending that offers surprises. 

 As the aliens die down then at the end we see the mother praying the kids are alive and come back to her and there is a knock on the door and Dakota fanning comes running in crying straight into her mother’s arms. As the mother is about to leave to go into town to see if anyone has seen the kids. she runs into Dakota who has been harbored by some other survivors. The end. 

So that it is just a story of victims and survival not necessarily heroic. Instead of the action hero ending, we get where Tom does it all and completes his mission and promise.

The only reason To let the child survive in this ending is because Dakota Fanning gives the only good to believable performance in the film. Even with all my complaining there truly is nothing wrong with the film and only one person who could have made a film with this vision of modern look yet classic feel.

Don’t let the poster art fool you nor the trailer which makes it look like a good film, as it is misleading

Grade: C

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+

BIG FAN (2009)

Written & Directed By: Robert D. Siegel
Cinematography By: Michael Simmonds
Editor: John Trank

Cast: Patton Oswalt, Kevin Corrigan, Michael Rappaport, Matt Servitto

A hard-core New York Giants fan struggles to deal with the consequences when he is beaten up by his favorite player.


This film feels like a dark odyssey but it’s one that takes place in a lake, not an ocean or river. A hard-core New York Giants fan struggles to deal with the consequences when he is beaten up by his favorite player.

This is a film that I wanted to love but I ended up only liking a lot. It appealed to me but scared me at how much the main character resembles me and my life. Only I hope not as depressing.


In full admission, I am one of the biggest fans of Patton Oswalt. I actually met him while he was in town filming this movie. It’s a darkly comedic film where all the characters might fit a few stereotypes but they felt real. No one was perfect they all had flaws, They all had good things and bad things about them. 

The Writer-Director of the film is Robert Siegel who also wrote THE WRESTLER. In his direction Siegel is a simple storyteller he doesn’t use visual trickery or distracting angles, He still gets his point across. The film’s low budget also adds to the film’s believability. In his writing, at first, you could write him off as someone interested in characters in sports but each film goes deeper than the actual sport, Which ends up only plays a small part in the overall stories, as the film is showing the in’s and out’s of the sport. 

The film let’s you get inside they’re heads and what is going on and affecting them in their immediate life. It shows the characters and the trouble they find themselves inevitably in usually done to themselves and the fact that the world is cruel. And of course, when it rains it pours. 

Not a fan of the film’s ending but if it ended any other way it wouldn’t have made the impact or told it’s the message the way it clearly wanted do. The film is a downtrodden character study that seems to revel in its misery and you feel it deeply as the situations and characters feel more realistic, then fabricated for the story.  

Of course, the film will be compared to the better TAXI DRIVER. But the film has an identity of its own and lends itself to the 70’s era type of filmmaking. Where character comes before story and plot. The reason I believe those films are so well remembered is that the films felt real and believable and the people who made the film wanted to tell stories and not show off they’re technical know-how and care more about pleasing studios, audiences, and box office returns than making a memorable film and maybe art. 

What this film does cleverly leads you down a dark road. That shocks you and fills you with despair the further you go and at each pit stop you think you know and feel dread thinking you know where it’s going to lead. It goes in that direction, But then gives you a detour. Making it all the more revealing. It’s a Must see but it is not a film that needs to be in your film library.  

GRADE: B+

THE LODGE (2020)

Directed By: Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala Written by: Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala & Sergio Casci  Cinematography: Thimios Bakatakis  Editor: Michael Palm

Cast: Riley Keough, Alicia Silverstone, Jaeden Martell, Lia Mchugh, Richard Armitage 

A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place.


The film’s Style is what becomes more memorable. As it seems set by the directors. The style and story feel similar to their first feature GOODBYE MOMMY. As this also is a slow burn thriller that seems to have an adult and two children secluded in close quarters with one another and seemingly needing each other to survive.

While one is up for a good slow burn in a thriller especially if it has a worthy pay off. This film comes off as dull. As it has many twists and turns that are shocking but also once we get to the end. You wonder why and the reasoning for the twists and turns make no sense and depends on the audience’s suspension of disbelief or the old adage kids will be kids. 

Though when dealing with a character who survived a horrific incident even before we are introduced to them. First of all, you wonder why the father would bring someone they were dating and knew had mental problems around their children who are already traumatized but then also leave them with her alone.

Sort of like the opening scene where we see the familiar face of Alicia Silverstone dripping ehr kids off to their father who tells her he wants to go through with the divorce and she just immediately locks herself in a room and Killa herself with little to no explanation. We in the audience are just left to assume she has problems with such an extreme act 

This film tries to be THE OTHERS only in reverse it feels. 

The film isn’t bad as Riley Keough again. Gives a shattering good performance. The rest fit eh cast do what they are supposed to do and the direction is on point but the script needs a bit of work. 

As the script seems made to fit the direction more than the story here. As it feels more conceptualized then lived in. This leaves the audience wanting more or at least to show the worm in supporting the film’s plot points. As the film comes off too vague then just ends.

Where as by the end. One can’t help what they enjoy or are entertained but here it feels like this film’s praise is more for style over substance. Even if in the end if for all the ingredients that work. It comes off as a letdown. 

Grade: C

THE STRANGE COLOR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS (2014)

strangecolor

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

Cast: Klaus Tange, Ursula Bedena, Joe Koener

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

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

THE SQUEEZE (1977)

Directed By: Michael Apted 
Written By: Leon Griffiths 
Based on the book “Whose Little Girl Are You” by: David Craig aka James Tucker 
Cinematography: Dennis Lewiston 
Editor: John Shirley 

Cast: Stacy Keach, David Hemmings, Edward Fox, Stephen Boyd, Carol White, Alan Ford, Freddie Starr 

A dangerous, violent gang kidnaps a woman and her daughter to extort some money from her rich husband. He and her down-on-his-luck ex-cop ex-husband decide to deal with the kidnappers themselves.


While not the most exciting heist film. The film does keep the audience interest. As the opening where we follow a drunken Stacy leach through the UK transit system until he falls down a set of stairs and collapses. He is then taken to a hospital and put through rehab. Then he flirts and slater sleeps with his rehab nurse. As well as has a drink or two.

This is before the plot even begins but alerts us that what we are watching will be more character-based then anything. Getting us used to our hero or really our anti-hero. By the end he is really one of the few honest and moral characters. Once he gets home then the plot moves forward. 

Throughout the film, Keach’s Character stays sober but seems to drink heavily when the pressure is on and when he is needed he seems to be able to dry out after getting wasted and is brand new after a few hours. He doesn’t have leading man looks and is usually the toughest guy in the room but might be the smartest. Even as an alcoholic who never seems to want to quit. He is tied into the case as it involves his ex being kidnapped. Like the film, we get to learn about all the figures involved.  

Once the third act begins. So does the action there isn’t A lot but it seems to be the release the film builds towards. Then once it ends the film is more matter of fact and take care of. The film is definitely an old school where you could make a mainstream movie for adults that takes it’s time to set up instead of straight to or putting in action scenes to placate the audience with action until the finale. 

 The villain proves to be the evilest of all. He has a more gentlemanly approach first but then slowly reveals a more vicious side. Though he does have a weakness. Which seems to be the only way for him to show any humanity. He is memorably played by Edward Fox 

The kidnappers second in command has doubts and seems to be the only one who has the right ideas and ends up being correct. Even though he initiates a rape. Which has a scene that is disturbing and still maintains the film’s subtle side. As she is soon treated like a maid or slave by the kidnappers.  

This is a film you soak in as you watch. Getting to know the characters, moods, and tones of the film and story. As going with the unorthodox tone there is a side adventure to a massage parlor that only adds to the film’s quirks and up’s the nudity and gives the film a bit of exploitation. Though it does tie into the Story barely. Showing it trusts it’s Audience to follow even some Ridiculous detours  

GRADE: B-

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-

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