BULL (2021)

Cinematography: Ben Chads & Vanessa Whyte

Editor: James Taylor

Written & Directed By: Paul Andrew Williams

Cast: Neil Maskell, David Hayman, Laura McAlpine, Yassine Mkhichen, David Nellist, Tamzin Outhwaite, Kellie Shirley 

Bull mysteriously returns home after a 10-year absence to seek revenge on those who double-crossed him all those years ago.

The film’s opening scene sets up the rest of the movie really with an introduction of the title character that is strong whole also showcases the tough tone of the film.

What is more shocking are the tender moments of the film of which there are a few and a kind of strange twist of fates.

The film plays pretty predictably offering a few twists, but pretty much most of the film is watching the character take his revenge while every so often the film tells us the backstory of what led to this in the first place.

The title character isn’t a saint he was pretty violent beforehand and now has been left off his leash and takes very few prisoners. The only thing that he has a soft spot for before all of this was his son. As he is a pretty good dad, though surrounded by nasty characters who either find themselves into this out of loyalty or money 

While the film is mainly predictable it is strong and keeps you engaged throughout. There is no get on the film as it gets to the point and for the most part, is relentless throughout. 

As the violence is either shown or heavily suggested. So this film isn’t for the faint of heart. One thing that is always fascinating in these films is when the film chooses to more focus on those being hunted down and killed. As you can see those who are used to being hunters react to being prey.

Once you find out the film’s budget was low. It’s even more impressive what was done and how tight the film is.

Grade: B


Directed By: Ernest R. Dickerson

Written By: Eric Bernt

Cinematography: Bojan Bazelli

Editor: Sam Pollard

Cast: Ice-T, Rugter Hauer, Charles S. Dutton, F Murray Abraham, Gary Busey, John C. McGinley, William McNamara, Jeff Corey, Bob Minor 

A homeless man is hired as a survival guide for a group of wealthy businessmen on a hunting trip in the mountains, unaware that they are killers who hunt humans for sport, and that he is their new prey.

At the time this might have seemed like an action film that was a fine by the dozen, but looking back it feels like it was a bit ahead of Its time.

As at the time it might have felt too basic or familiar. To a film like Jean Claude Van-Damme starring HARD TARGET. 

Casting Ice-T during a starring hot streak and then surrounding him with well-known character actors. As seemingly types though as the film goes alongside actually revealing decency or having specific reasons for their savagery and blood lust.

His casting works as he is not your typical action hero presence. So that gives him a kind of wild card status in which to impress and win over the audience. As he is the protagonist, we still don’t know exactly what to expect. 

Though race isn’t brought up it can easily be seen or interpreted. Even if the argument is over classism. As Ice-t’s character is a military vet who is homeless and most of the hunters are rich, successful white men. Racism and capitalism usually walk hand in hand. As for something to have value another must not have any. As really the only other person of color is Charles S. Dutton who helps discover him and convinces him to take the job.

The film offers plenty of surprises and double-crosses. It also offers ice-T’s character who was suicidal a reason to survive, a passion for life, and live again. 

The film comes across as a little bit more realistic in its action sequences. Which are quite impressive. As no one is an expert, some characters actually need to reload or rest. Though it never feels overplayed, overwrought, too expensive or stylish just to look cool.

The ending is a bit of a letdown by bringing up a point that is repeatedly brought up so many times. You know it will be integral later.

One of the reasons for the audience to enjoy the film is that most of the cast, the hunting party if you will, is made up of classic character actors who usually play villains. So it’s a murderer’s row hunting our hero down. Which gives the film and the lead a kind of bonafide status 

This ends up being one of the more memorable ice-t leading roles, especially in an action film. No less treated a certain way maybe because it is more contained. As far as cast size goes. 

Grade: C+


Written & Directed By: Vince Gilligan Cinematography: Marshall Adams Editor: Skip MacDonald

Cast: Aaron Paul, Jonathan Banks, Jesse Plemmons, Matt Jones, Charles Baker, Robert Forester, Larry Hankin, Tom Bower, Marla Gibbs, Tess Harper,  Brendan Sexton III, Kevin Rankin, Krysten Ritter, Bryan Cranston 

Fugitive Jesse Pinkman runs from his captors, the law, and his past.

If you are a fan of the series this is a must-see as it doesn’t Disgrace the legacy of the show as some finales can do. It adds to it a little. Though for those who had their own fantasies and theories about what happens to Jesse Pinkman after he drives away at the end of the series. This gives a definite answer rather than what some fans might have to imagined or believed. Hopefully, you will find it better. What do you think.

This is partially difficult to review as it helps the viewer to know what came before it by watching the series. It’s not a must but probably helps your enjoyment and understanding but it is entirely necessary. As it also does a good job of exposing itself and its scenes as well as its motivations.

The film plays more like an epilogue of the series but also feels kind of like a finale for the series and the remaining lead character you care about. As many major characters cameo in this film.

The film is a slow burn that could easily have played like two episodes from the series. As they are expansive yet tiny and meticulous.

As we watch the character of Jessie maneuver his actions and motivations are hampered by the past. As we see various flashbacks that tell their own story but explain Jesse’s Actions and kind of work as inner monologues of sorts. Though they help explain where he is going or at least heading to.

He is still down and dirty and trying to make an escape where it either seems like he is having the worst luck or a comedy of errors keeps happening to him.

While certainly a crime thriller it also works as a character study and as goodbye in the form of a kind of side story to the series. That helps explain exactly some of his treatment and trauma. As well as letting the character continue his story and get his own proper ending.

Grade: B

KIMI (2022)

Directed By: Steven Soderbergh 
Written By: David Koepp
Cinematography: Peter Andrews
Editor: Mary Ann Bernard 

Cast: Zoe Kravitz, Byron Bowers, Devin Ratray, Robin Givens, Rita Wilson, Derek Delgaudio, Erika Christensen, Charlie Halford, Jacob Vargas, David Wain, Andy Daly 

During the COVID-19 pandemic in Seattle, an agoraphobic tech worker discovers evidence of a violent crime while reviewing a data stream, and is met with resistance and bureaucracy when she tries reporting it to her company. To get involved, she realizes she must face her greatest fear by venturing out of her apartment and into the city streets, which are filled with protestors after the city council passes a law restricting the movements of the homeless population.

For a Steven Soderbergh film, especially a thriller he doesn’t really really execute as much visual panache as usual.

The film is a fine thriller that feels a little bland and straightforward at times. Even as it is partially inspired by films such as BLOW OUT, BLOW UP and even the conversation, that seems to only count in characters and story. As the visual style is direct and more clinical.

It feels like a modern-day Brian De Palma-inspired film only without the visual dynamics but the conspiracy thriller elements still in there. 

Zoe Kravitz is what really shines throughout. As she is finally given a lead role in which to flourish and show her talents after so many supporting roles in other films. She even has an interesting walk/run that fits her character and seems cute. It is also a little funny. 

The look they give her sets her apart and makes the viewer especially focus on her as the backgrounds are usually dull color-wise and she is so colorful that your eyes immediately focus on her. Her beauty also helps shine Through.

The film’s first half makes you believe this will be more of a contained thriller and is a little slow but that is to set up the characters and the story. When it comes to the second half we venture outside more and the plot comes more to the forefront but isn’t as layers as in the first half 

Luckily in the first half though we are more contained. The film expands the space of her apartment so that it feels luxurious.

In the end, the film is fairly predictable but will keep your interest. Don’t know if it was always meant to be so small scale or if it was more due to covid but it makes it work for it.

Grade: C+

I CARE A LOT (2020)

Written & Directed By: J. Blakeson 
Cinematography: Doug Emmett 
Editor: Mark Eckersley 

Cast: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza Gonzalez, Dianne Wiest, Alicia Witt, Chris Messina, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Macon Blair, Damian Young, Nicholas Logan 

A crooked legal guardian who drains the savings of her elderly wards meets her match when a woman she tries to swindle turns out to be more than she first appears.

This can easily be a polarizing film. On the one hand you have a savvy businesswoman who makes her career conning people out of their livelihood. So no one was ever going to find her likable or an adequate anti-hero.

Though we have seen films before where we have male protagonists who do the same thing and are more remembered and celebrated by audiences. Even if they are more disposable and waste the money on frivolous luxuries and vices.

What is more upsetting for an audience here is that not only is the protagonist doing this female. Where usually films treat female characters like her as damaged or coming around at the last minute or femme Fatales who get a comeuppance. More or less she keeps striving no matter the challenge or difficulty and ultimately what she traps comes back to her in worse ways. The same is never made of the antiheroes who are male in other films; they get a snack down but never so severe.

Though truth be told those movies are usually more based on specific people and cases. Here this is a made-up story of a very real cool. Games that are happening more and more. Only for intents and purposes here do we get a face with this type of crime. As well as more of a story.

What also might be upsetting is that in real-life cases there are faces and representatives of the victims. Usually late in the films when they are winding down. For us to realize the destruction and evils of the character even if not planned what the end results of their con games are for some. Here they are picking on the already defenseless the elderly. Which is the equivalent of kicking or torturing an animal on screen these days. Instantly turning the audience against your protagonist. Especially if they were being attacked by them.

So this film already gives you an unlikeable protagonist but also the film is filled with unlikeable characters. Even when you might start to feel for some of them. They show their true colors and you go right back to hating them.

I applaud throwing the audience off but when there is no one to root for. As the characters seem to compete for who is the worst and trying to make excuses for their behavior. It’s not really enjoyable even for a dark comedy.

The film is trying to tackle a subject and knows the best way to inform the audience is from an insider. As the film might be cynical but doesn’t offer false notes. As everyone is flawed and there is no heart of gold that comes through. This film presents a more scrubbed clean dog eat dog world. That is all about survival above all else.

It’s not necessarily an enjoyable film but like the characters it tries to make you as comfortable as you can be while watching these events unfold and tries to add some humor to the proceedings 

Rosamund Pike is excellent in the starring role. Even though it seems every few years she plays this type of role. A character who at first seems like a pushover but then reveals herself to be a shark. So it’s refreshing to see her play such strong female characters every so often. Making you wonder why she isn’t offered more roles. It might be as in these roles she comes off as threatening usually to male protagonists. Some might feel uncomfortable casting her in easier or less challenging roles?

Though at least the film is thought-provoking and wouldn’t expect anything else from writer Director J. Blakeson, Especially after his film THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED 

The film is upsetting for anyone looking for good to conquer evil. It is a dark and cynical comedy with heavy overtones. Though it isn’t bad or disappointing, just unlikeable.

Grade: B-


Directed By: Ivo Van Aart 
Written By: Daan Windhorst
Cinematography: Martijn Cousijn 
Editor: Irme Reutelingsperger & Yamal Stitiou 

Cast: Katja Herbers, Achraf Koutet, Genio De Groot, Rein Hoffman, Claire Porro, Bram Van Der Kelen, Medina Schuurman, Harry Van Ritjthourn 

A columnist must continuously deal with threats and negative comments on her social media pages. One day, she has had enough and decides to hunt down her trolls.

The film wastes no time in getting right to the point and its actions. The film ends up going down like candy-sweet and quickly with very few complaints. 

The film comes off very dry and seems to have no real sensations at all throughout the film. Especially when it comes to presentation.

Feels very lightweight for such a dark comedy. Almost like a TV movie level. Only with plenty of language and violence.

It might have been stronger if at any point she really has faced a true challenge or more of one in her killings or the immediate aftermath. 

The only other being she seems to face is the older gentleman who at first seems like he could be the easiest.

As she became too common too fast and with very little investigation into these Crimes. So there feels like an absence of any real depth. Especially when the film offers opportunities for it to be more interesting. Like having the daughter act impulsively when thinking her mother’s boyfriend is the killer or having her kill him when believing him to be the killer. Then found out she was wrong when the kills keep happening and then finding out it was her mother or ending the film with the daughter’s Mistake.

In the middle of the movie is the only town where the police really have any questions and she gives them motive and a bit of evidence to build a case if they bothered to really investigate her. 

The killings soon become an obsession. So much so that it takes over her regular responsibilities. Truly shows her character’s transformation. The more she kills the more it relieves her mind as it clears her head and gets more writing done. In essence, becoming more successful.

As it seems she is all for freedom of speech until it is used against her then she becomes the ultimate censor. At first, she is bullied into being a killer. 

Though without controversy there is less of an audience. The end is a little outlandish as it seems meant to be a message. As the film does have one in a worst-case scenario version. That could be reworked but makes itself loud and clear. 

At first, it seems Like it will be open-ended but proceeds especially as there are plenty of witnesses though goes for shock and sensationalism with a warning. 

Her speech might help her and the film to realize what she says about herself goes to the victims also. 

Just her boyfriend who dresses freaky to get attention as fashion is the more normal put-together individual. Whereas she comes off as the more so-called normal one is the crazed killer.

In the end, the film feels disposable and hassle-free.

Grade: C+

RITUALS (1977)

Directed By: Peter Carter 
Written By: Ian Sutherland 
Cinematography: Rene Verzier 
Editor: George Appleby

Cast: Hal Holbrook, Lawrence Dane, Robin Gammell, Ken James, Gary Reineke, Michael Zevon, Jack Crelay, Murray Westgate 

Five doctors go on vacation deep in the Canadian wilderness. After all but one pair of the party’s shoes disappear, the remaining shoe camper decides to hike out and go look for help. Soon after he leaves, however, his four companions realize that something is very wrong when someone leaves a decapitated deer head just outside their camp. Even though they still don’t have their shoes, they decide to follow their friend’s trail out of the woods, but their path is blocked by someone who doesn’t want to see them leave the forest alive.

The film works as we spend most of the time with the characters and their reactions to various circumstances that at first seem random. As they start out as minor then grow as their desperation does also.

Already weary of each other though they are lifelong friends and siblings. Stuck in the Terrain in the middle of nowhere. The tensions are already high between them. So that when problems arise. They slowly turn on one another.

The film raises the intensity between them and their reactions in the first half of the movie before getting more to the horror/thriller elements of the second half 

The characters fit into certain types including a gay character whose sexuality is revealed not blatantly, but nonchalantly.

As the film goes along the characters’ true selves are revealed under duress. Exposing How some will truly act or react under pressure.

This is one of the first few leading man roles I have seen Hal Holbrook in and he goes above and beyond in the role. Showing a true star in the midst. In a role that feels lived in.

The film adds in the horror elements when it remembers. Only to help add to all the commotion Going on. Though there is a countdown of sorts, eventually there is going to be an attack at a certain point.

The film wisely never Amps up the action. It stays reserved. Never revealing its hand or giving hints too early. As most is revealed along with the characters. So that the audience never quite knows exactly what to expect in advance.

The film offers beautiful landscapes of nature that for all Their beauty have its own fair share of mystery.

At heart, this is a survival movie. Where a group of doctors going on a fishing trip seems to become the hunted. Out of the many places, it could have gone happy it stays somewhat simple and riveting. 

It’s filmed unglamorous so that it feels as stark and ugly as the land sometimes becomes. Mostly shot in close up so you see all the blood, sweat, and tears not to mention dirt, grime, imperfections, and injuries. 

This film came out of nowhere. As it goes along breaking down the genre while setting it up also. Until its own shocking final reveal.

Grade: B

IN THE CUT (2003)

Directed By: Jane Campion 
Written By: Jane Campion, Susanna Moore & Starvos Kazantzids
Based On The Novel By: Susanna Moore 
Cinematography: Dion Beebe 
Editor: Alexandre De Franceschi

Cast: Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kevin Bacon, Sharrief Pugh, Nick Damici, Heather Litteer, Arthur J. Nascarella, Patrice O’Neal 

A psychological thriller: a lonely New York woman discovers the darker side of passion after becoming involved with a tough homicide detective who is investigating a series of murders in her neighborhood.

This film seemed to be dismissed and quickly forgotten by audiences and critics at the time of its release. Seen more as a failure or embarrassment. When actually it is a film that is worth exploring for the rules it abides by and the many it doesn’t. 

It’s grimy ugly not all that sexy. You don’t want to be there but are kind of forced to. As the film starts off disorienting and claustrophobic, it constantly feels like it’s tightening a noose. It stays intense with barely any noticeable score. 

Not a pleasant experience but this film is worth exploring. 

It’s strange as it is Jane Campion making a movie that is more seen as the most mainstream for her at that point and you have America’s sweetheart who wants to challenge herself and be seen in a different more dramatic light. In other words, trying to be anti-mainstream 

So you have these two working together trying to tell a tale that seems mroe obsessed with sex and maintain interest in a murder mystery that seems to be in the background until it hits close to home 

It certainly doesn’t help that all the male characters seem to be creepy as hell. Though make up a long suspect list 

The violence is more told or shown in the aftermath. After a while, the film’s problem is that you wonder what this is all about and what we are waiting for as it gets a bit monotonous at times but stays interesting. As you never know quite where it is going to go next so it feels alive 

The film is certainly well-directed though the material might not be the best. It works as everyone seems ordinary and doesn’t feel like a glamorous Hollywood production. As it does get down and dirty 

So can’t say you like or really care about too many of the characters. Especially when every cop character seems to have an overworked New York accent 

Then throw Kevin bacon into all this madness as a psycho stalking ex. He usually wears red so he might as well be labeled a literal red herring. Where you wonder why Meg Ryan’s character slept with him in the first place. As he seems to be there as a recognizable face and kind of a waste of time.

As Meg Ryan plays a nerdy teacher who is brought into all of this erotic and sexual obsession. At first, she seems Miscast almost like this film is more an experiment for her watching one time America’s sweetheart in a down and dirty role that for some might come across as desperate but for others, it shows she is up for the challenge. Between this film and her other dramatic performances in COURAGE UNDER FIRE and WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN. 

Mark Ruffalo gives the most convincing performance. As he comes across as a simple character with a lot of secrets and heMs not the type to talk about his feelings. More direct as he seems to inhabit the role than play it. Though will admit him, Nor most of the cast are the first you would think of or fantasize about seeing in an erotic thriller 

Though the film would have been easily welcomed and probably lauded had it come out in the ’70s or 80’s as it seems to agave that kind of grit and seriousness of those films even if it would have felt like more of the norm back then. Though it does show classic early 2000 New York 

It feels like a welcome daring film especially for the times that was just too gloomy for audiences of the time to really get into as it is far from enjoyable 

Doesn’t play into bigger-budgeted thrillers with plenty of tension but not as much suspense and lead up. The score is barely noticeable 

The film shows the violence that men do to women that isn’t always physical or sexual but mentally and emotionally. 

 No matter what you think you are going to get going into this film. Do you actually get, It’s A challenging film that has a mind of life or energy if it’s own. That isn’t quite like anything you might have seen before. Not for everybody 

The film is sexual and erotic but not sexy necessarily. When it comes to the more erotic scenes and nature of the film. In the cut is the first Hollywood movie where I have seen someone a man eat ass booty 

Even by the end of the film once the killer is revealed there are no real answers. It’s more left for the audience to put together from what they have seen. Not only when it comes to the murder mystery but even most of the characters’ motivations.

Grade: B- 

DON’T LET GO (2019)

Written & Directed By: Jacob Estes 
Story By: Drew Daywalt 
Cinematography: Sharone Meir 
Editor: Billy Fox & Scott D. Hanson

Cast: David Oyelowo, Storm Reid, Alfred Molina, Mykelti Williamson, Brian Tyree Henry, April Grace, Shinelle Azoroh

After a man’s family dies in what appears to be a murder, he gets a phone call from one of the dead, his niece. He’s not sure if she’s a ghost or if he’s going mad, but as it turns out, he’s not.

I remember this film being released around the same time as the Tyrese Gibson Starring BLACK AND BLUE. And that movie came streaming fast while I kept waiting for this film to be released and only recently did finally I get to catch this film. 

I was interested as these films came out around the same time And seemed to be pitted against each other for a share of the so-called urban box office. Even though the films are different they are both thrillers that have cops as the protagonists though each takes a different approach to the material.

The film thankfully directed its unexpected circumstances and twists isn’t a GROUNDHOG’S DAY type story. Where the same day is repeated over and over. It’s more like the film FREQUENCY where there is town travel of sorts and communication from the future and past through technology

The film’s logic falls apart in the third act. As it becomes more satisfying because of its non-solid rules in its set-up

Though for all of the films at towns more far-fetched elements and details. What holds the film together. What makes it so interesting and emotional is the lead performances of David Oyeyelo and Storm Reid. They keep everything so engaging. That is the more thrilling moments you find yourself more involved and on the edge of your seat.

The film offers a nice mystery and thriller that stays intriguing. Only wish the script had been a bit stronger. As the actors are all better than the material and lift the material to create believable characters and situations.

David Oyelowo seems to star in a bunch of these movies. Where he injects the film with good character work and vivid lived-in performances that are often better than the films. Making all around him as well as the film better because of him.

The filM Falls a bit short of expectations or at least hoped for but is entertaining in its own right. It works as an emotionally intriguing popcorn movie. 

Grade: B-

2 GUNS (2013)

Directed By: Baltasar Kormakur
Written By: Blake Masters
Based on the boom! studios graphic novels By: Steven Grant
Cinematography: Oliver Wood
Editor: Michael Tronick

Cast: Denzel Washington,Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton,Edward James Olmos, Bill Paxton, James Marsden, Robert John Burke, Fred Ward, Patrick Fischler

Two hardened criminals get into trouble with the US border patrol after meeting with a Mexican drug lord, and then revelations start to unfold.

The film is fun though it is always predictable and you know how it is going to turn out. Though luckily the film keeps us on our toes and interested to see how we will get there.

Didn’t know that the film was actually based on a graphic novel. Though Mark Wahlberg is more an old hat at taking on roles originated elsewhere and in graphic novels. Denzel Washington not so much. 

 The twists and turns are appreciated to keep the film lively and drive the story forward.

The action sequences are impressive. You can tell the two stars are having in with the material, maybe even then the audience. As each doesn’t stretch too far in their roles and falls back to their charms and talents.

This is the type of film where the plot comes off as an afterthought. Though complicated this film seems more invested in the chemistry of the two stars and how much they can interact as superstars. As well as an emphasis on action sequences and who comes out on top in them.

A buddy action comedy is only tougher, involving more death and violence. With two Movie stars, you normally don’t see Co-Starring in each other’s Films. Which is really what brings the audience to this film more than the actual story. 

Shocked, the movie isn’t directed by a frequent collaborator for Denzel Washington Antoine Fuqua. As it has the same polish as his films but lacks the drama needed for one of his films. 

Paula Patton seems more here as eye candy with a surprising amount of nudity. She does set the movie forward. Between this and the movie FLIGHT, Denzel Washington being involved with younger women and having nudity brings one back to the films of yesteryear though admittedly gratuitous, but so much of this film already is still stylish. 

This film is almost like a veteran movie as most cast members are recognizable and here more to chew the scenery but at least they come off as they are having fun. That energy extends to the viewer and makes this film entertaining while you take none of it seriously 

It’s not god’s gift to make a decent action thriller with a bunch of intentional laughs. At least the movie offers an intriguing story that does hold the audience’s interest other than having the two stars teaming up or battling one another amongst the more ridiculous elements. It has suspenseful moments. 

Though honestly if you are a fan of either or both of the stars of this movie. You will like it thus making it criticism-proof in the long run. Especially when the film is better down than expected

Grade: B-