March 2019

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Blood Simple [1984]

Rotten Tomatoes = 94 / 88
Personal = 9.0

Updated Dec 13, 2019
The Coen Brothers first full length film, made 35 years ago, is still one of their best. A bar owners wife has an affair with one of the bartenders unaware that her husband has hired a morally corrupt PI to follow her. What follows is an intricate and absurd game of misunderstands and misconceptions that leads to everyone fully believing they know exactly what's going and yet, every one of them couldn't be more wrong. Ending as a dark comic shaggy dog joke, this slow burn is a masterpiece of brilliant construction. Watch it!

Honeymoon [2014]

Rotten Tomatoes = 73 / 44
Personal = 5.5

Updated Dec 13, 2019
A newlywed couple goes to the bride's childhood cabin for their honeymoon. After sleepwalking one night, the bride becomes increasingly disoriented and things start falling apart. The couple was likable and genuine which was the reason I stuck with it as it is also extremely slow paced. I know some will like the insidious slow-burn nature of the film but I was getting impatient. Then it got really strange and ultimately very downbeat without enough of a reveal to make it fully work for me. Interesting, some good stuff, but...

Venom [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 29 / 80
Personal = 7.6

Updated Dec 13, 2019
A down-and-out reporter is infected with an alien parasite, of sorts, that can transform him into a vicious, destructive killing machine ...who likes to eat human heads. This was a very clever, humorous, exciting, action film with a very unique and sarcastic creature that was a real joy to watch. Great special effects and well developed action sequences, as well as Tom Hardy's performance as the hapless victim, all worked very well. My only con is the antagonist, Carlton Drake. He just didn't suit me as a mad scientist.

Ghost House [2017]

Rotten Tomatoes = 22 / 22
Personal = 3.6

Updated MLK Day, 2020
A couple, vacationing in Thailand, get tricked into removing an item from a small idol known as a ghost house. The woman is then possessed by a ghost/witch. This ultra-formulaic film is taken right from the filmmakers witch possession step-by-step instructional guide. As such, us horror movie fans have all the solutions long before the participants. The witch has some gnarly makeup that is used extensively for jump scares. The possessed girl spends most of the movie passed out or unconvincingly distressed. Pretty poor.

Unstoppable [2018]

aka Seongnan hwangso

Rotten Tomatoes = 80 / 67
Personal = 6.2

Updated MLK Day, 2020
After ineffective police fail to find a man's kidnapped wife, he goes to save her himself. Pretty familiar story with nothing new to speak of. The characters were engaging and likable enough ...although the stoic protagonist teaming up with two incompetent, bungling, comedy relief sidekicks seemed awfully incongruous for the seriousness of the story line. Wasn't much action and what there was felt flat and not particularly exciting. However, the longer it went, the better it got and in the end, I felt for the characters and enjoyed it.

Gozu [2003]

aka Gokudo kyofu dai-gekijo: Gozu

Rotten Tomatoes = 72 / 80
Personal = 1.5

Updated Oct 26, 2019
No need to summarize the plot as it's just an excuse to present us with one surreal event after another. I think they were shooting for a David Lynchian / Eraserhead style but, imo, they failed completely. Just one bizarre event after another, they were all dull, senseless, humorless and, quite often, disgusting. Plus, I was assaulted by this nonsense for over 2 hours that I'll never get back. The ratings obviously show that I'm in the minority on this but I absolutely loathed this film.

The Quake [2018]

aka Skjelvet

Rotten Tomatoes = 84 / 54
Personal = 6.7

Links Updated Oct 5, 2019
Our hero from The Wave is back. This time, wracked with guilt believing he could have saved more. After reviewing some notes from a former colleague, he now believes that Oslo is in store for a monster quake. Once again, the film focuses on its characters, especially on his psychological dilemma of believing something's coming or, perhaps, he's just seeing disasters in everything based on his previous trauma. The quake itself is short and sweet but the heroics afterwards are extremely acrophobic. Fairly good entertainment.

Train to Busan [2016]

aka Busanhaeng

Rotten Tomatoes = 94 / 88
Personal = 8.0

Updated MLK Day, 2020
A work-driven funds manager is forced to take his daughter, by train, to Busan to drop her off at her mom's when the zombie apocalypse breaks out. Zombie movies are a dime a dozen, these days. So, it's amazing that we still get some that stand out above the rest. Case in point, this film. It presents a hopeless and horrifying onslaught of the undead in the claustrophobic confines of a train and a realistic portrayal of what may be necessary to survive. Filled with action and emotion, it'll make your cheer and it'll break your heart.

The Night Comes for Us [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 89 / 84
Personal = 7.4

Links Updated Oct 5, 2019
A triad assassin is unable to kill a young girl and all hell breaks loose. This gory, Asian violence, high-action film finds great joy in flinging as much blood and guts at the screen as possible in a frantic, seemingly unstoppable manner. This is really quite fun and exciting in a cinematic context but the excessive violence and gore loses its shock value fairly quickly. The choreography is fantastic if, once again, you view it in a cinematic context. Otherwise, it's pretty unrealistic and severely over-the-top. Just depends on what you like. I got a kick out of it, myself!

Searching [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 92 / 87
Personal = 8.5

Updated Jan 27, 2020
A man tries to find his missing daughter by searching through her computer realizing he knows very little about her life. A excellently portrayed story presented vicariously through computer screens depicting an extremely realistic view of what a father may do with a computer as his only resource. Being a computer geek myself, I found no logic gaps in the way things played out and the emotions of the characters were genuine and heart wrenching. Throw in a surprise ending, earning it a spot on my Profoundly Twisted List, I was thoroughly entertained. Bravo!

Mandy [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 91 / 66
Personal = 8.4

Updated Dec 13, 2019
The lives of a quiet couple, living in the woods, are disrupted by a psychotic cult and monstrous bikers. This film is like spending 2 hours in someone's LSD-laced nightmare. Between this film and his previous film, Beyond the Black Rainbow, writer / director, Panos Cosmatos, has shown us a unique vision that ignores conventional film making and takes it to intense, surreal, insane places no one has been before. Nicolas Cage is perfect portraying the unraveling disintegration from quiet husband to savage berserker. Violent, bloody, mad and shocking. Yeah!

12 Rounds 2: Reloaded [2013]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / 46
Personal = 6.1

Updated Feb 5, 2020
This time, an EMT's wife is threatened unless the EMT plays a 12 round game orchestrated by a psychotic engineer. Beyond being a vehicle to ride the coattails of whatever success the first film had by using the 12 round game, this film has no other connection whatsoever. It wasn't bad and it got better as it went along. However, no surprise twist with everything playing out as you'd expect. I didn't like the bad guy much ...the actor seemed to be playing the role far too seriously and dramatically. Nowhere close to the chaos of the first but OK for what it is.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [2005]

Rotten Tomatoes = 60 / 65
Personal = 5.7

Updated Feb 5, 2020
Arthur Dent's house is about to be demolished. Little does he know the whole Earth is about to be demolished. I was a big fan of the book, which I thought was hilarious. The movie, however, came off as kind of dry. Apparently I developed a much funnier movie in my head than they made for the screen. My favorite character in the book was Marvin, the hilariously depressing robot which in the movie was just ...well ...depressing and didn't even get a chuckle out of me. Mildly entertained and slightly amused but I expected a whole lot more.

Hunter Killer [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 36 / 71
Personal = 7.4

Updated Dec 13, 2019
The submarine USS Arkansas, with a brand new Captain, finds itself in Russian waters in the middle of a Russian military coup and the new regime wants to start WWIII. Exciting military story involving submarines, destroyers, guided missiles, a black ops team, an attempted rescue, sniping, a mine field, etc. The story is well constructed, the characters were great ...except maybe Gary Oldman. Featured prominently in the credits, all he really does is holler that we need to go to war. Beyond that, I found this gripping, exciting and very cool.

Prospect [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 90 / 68
Personal = 5.5

Links Updated Oct 5, 2019
A girl and a prospector form an uneasy alliance in a fight for survival on an alien world after the prospector assisted in getting her father killed. This is certainly not an action or adventure story. It's mostly character and dialogue driven and, as a result, ponderously slow. The story is familiar with no surprises. Mostly we just get to watch the interactions of a pair of people and the problems that occur for 90 minutes. It is interesting with likable characters and certainly a joy to the eyes making it a fairly good movie. Just don't expect anything new or exciting.

12 Rounds 3: Lockdown [2015]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / 52
Personal = 6.9

Updated MLK Day, 2020
A cop, just back from psychological leave, stumbles onto a piece of evidence that shows an army of cops are corrupt ...and they don't plan to let him leave the building. Having absolutely nothing to do with the previous 12 Rounds films - in fact, in this one, the title refers to 12 rounds in a gun - this one is basically a Die Hard / MacGyver hybrid where the filmmakers said, "Damn the plot holes. Full speed ahead!" And, if you go into it with that in mind, You'll love it. Likable characters, exciting shootouts, inventive escapes, and even a surprise. Great fun.

Mute [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 19 / 48
Personal = 4.6

Links Updated Oct 5, 2019
A mute Amish, in future Berlin, goes in search of his missing girlfriend. That's it. This 80 min story, in a 126 min package, featured some beautiful visuals and some fine performances. However, the characters were humorless and pathetic, the story is slow, confusing and depressing, and the fact that our protagonist is Amish and mute and the story takes place in the future has minuscule relevance to the story, at best. Could have been done with a healthy, normal guy in modern day NYC and probably would have been more interesting. Dull and terribly sad.

Captain Marvel [2019]

Rotten Tomatoes = 78 / 54
Personal = 8.0

Updated Dec 13, 2019
A Bree soldier, on her first combat mission, ends up on Earth and learns that everything she knows is wrong. Another fine MCU film that takes place in 1995 and gives us the origin of Captain Marvel, where she's been for the last 25 years and does a good job of tying the character into the Infinity War story ...if you watch the post-credit scene in Infinity War and the mid-credit scene in this one. Characters were great, humor was excellent, it was fun seeing Nick Fury and Agent Coulson 25-years younger, and Goose, the cat Flerken, is priceless.

ABCs of Death 2 [2014]

Rotten Tomatoes = 73 / 39
Personal = 6.4

Updated Jan 22, 2020
26 short stories centered around death by 26 different filmmakers ...just like the first one. However, unlike the first one, this one has a greater ratio of good entertainment over the bad, nonsensical, and pointless fare that permeated the first one. In fact, I don't recall any story here that was intentionally repulsive for the sake of being repulsive which was rather common on the first one. I still don't think the collection is great but it's certainly improved and has a few really good ones.

2012 [2009]

Rotten Tomatoes = 39 / 47
Personal = 8.2

Updated Dec 13, 2019
Because of the Mayan calendar, some believed the world would end in 2012. Case in point, this film. A tour-d-force of global catastrophic spec fx, realistically depicting devastating earthquakes, monstrous tsunamis, Yellowstone exploding, etc., this film spared no expense in keeping you on the edge of your seat holding your breath. The characters, as usual for disaster films, are cookie cutter but likable and portrayed well. Although it got rather sappy at times, there were some genuinely witty and heartfelt moments. Great fun and the best disaster pic, imo.

American Renegades [2017]

aka Renegades / The Lake

Rotten Tomatoes = 6 / 43
Personal = 5.4

Updated Nov 9, 2019
A Navy Seals unit, in Bosnia, 1995, plan a heist to recover $300 mil worth of gold bars submerged in a town since WWII. Turn off all logic filters going into this film as they're liable to get in the way of your enjoyment. Loaded with logic errors and a disregard for general physics, the viewer is expected to just 'go with it'. Which is fine if there's something going on worthwhile. The biggest action sequence is the opening. The rest is discussing and executing the heist with surprising little excitement. Characters were likable, dialogue is snappy, mildly entertaining.

Creepshow [1982]

Rotten Tomatoes = 73 / 68
Personal = 9.5

Updated MLK Day, 2020
Written by Stephen King and directed by George A. Romero, this film is arguably one of the best horror anthologies ever made. An exquisite mixture of horror and hilarity, you'll find yourself creeped out and laughing out loud at the same time. The stories are bizarre and filled with an all-star cast of veterans and a few recognizable newcomers who go on to be big themselves. Even Stephen King has a starring role in one story. Don't pass this one by, if you haven't seen it. Easter Egg: Try to spot the green marble ashtray in every story.

The Possession of Hannah Grace [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 20 / 28
Personal = 6.0

Updated Dec 13, 2019
A damaged, recovering alcoholic, ex-police woman, dealing with the guilt of letting her partner die because she froze, gets a job as an intake clerk on the midnight shift for the morgue checking in bodies that arrive. One body decides not to stay dead. I had an issue with the editing. The opening scene, albeit shocking and certainly grabs your attention, would have been much more suited as a flashback later in the film. As it is, it sort of ruins the potential for surprises later. Be that as it may, this film was not original but well made, creepy and certainly worth the watch.

Dead of Night [1945]

Rotten Tomatoes = 97 / 86
Personal = 6.7

Links Updated Oct 5, 2019
A man arrives at a gathering and seems to know exactly what's going to happen because he's dreamed it. This sparks the telling of several macabre stories by those at the gathering. Well designed anthology that effortlessly glides from the wraparound story into the various tales without ever feeling forced or out-of-place. The stories would be pretty familiar nowadays but I would imagine that, back then, they would have been terribly creepy. The events culminate in a rather twisted finale that made me grin and struck me as a pretty advanced idea for the time.

Looper [2012]

Rotten Tomatoes = 93 / 82
Personal = 8.9

Updated Dec 13, 2019
In 2044, men known as loopers would assassinate victims sent to them from 30 years in the future. This film focuses on one such looper who hesitates to kill his older self causing quite a bit of turmoil and chaos. This is quite an elaborate and complex story of time travel, conflicting goals, paradoxes and trying to figure out what's the right thing to do. Great action, super characters ...even in the slow parts, the dialogue and interaction between subjects kept my attention firmly glued to the screen. May take multiple viewings to fully grasp everything.

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