July 2019

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Silencio [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 38 / 96
Personal = 5.2

Updated Dec 17, 2019
After the death of his daughter's family, including the 2 granddaughters, a scientist finds a stone that allows him to go back and save one of the granddaughters. This, of course, creates problems. It's unfortunate but the filmmakers spent the entire movie draining the viewer of every drop of emotional energy through one heart-wrenching scene after another creating an extremely painful distraction to an otherwise interesting concept. Great acting but if they would have removed the overly long scenes of human anguish it would have made an excellent short film.

The Tortured [2010]

Rotten Tomatoes = 6 / 35
Personal = 3.5

A psychopath tortures a young child and the parents want revenge. This is an extremely painful film to watch ...and I'm not just talking about the torture. First they shove the child abduction down our throat for over half an hour. Then we watch the contrived actions of characters that would only exist in a script as they wishy washy their way through some truly sadistic and tortuous activity that no normal person would partake in regardless of the circumstances. The ending "twist" was an obvious and complete non-surprise. Poorly written nonsense.

Now You See Me 2 [2016]

Rotten Tomatoes = 34 / 53
Personal = 7.4

Updated Jan 24, 2020
The group of master magicians, known as The Horsemen, stage a show to discredit a new communications czar who plans to use his new phones to collect information on everyone. Instead, The Horsemen inexplicably end up in Macau, China. It didn't feel as tightly constructed as the prequel but it was still loaded with clever illusions, eye-popping magic tricks and a truckload of entertainment. The very final scene left me baffled and irritated so be ready for that but overall, a really fun movie with amusingly colorful characters that will make you smile throughout.

I'll Take Your Dead [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 57 / 50
Personal = 5.8

Updated Dec 17, 2019
A strange film about a man who gets rid of bodies delivered to him by gang members ...and one that happens to still be alive. Excellent character study of a daughter surrounded by death, a man who's clueless when it comes to his daughter and a woman gang banger becoming the driving force towards destruction. Somewhat simple but compelling with excellent acting. Without giving anything away, the movie seemed to unexpectedly change genres which I found jarring ...don't know if that helped or hurt the film. Interesting and above average.

Happy Death Day 2U [2019]

Rotten Tomatoes = 69 / 61
Personal = 7.1

Updated Jan 24, 2020
Just when our hero from the first film thinks it's safe to live a normal life, it starts all over again. However, rather than be redundant, they created a very different and plausible story line - including how this all got started - making this film unique from the first one while traveling through familiar territory at the same time. The comedy level is fantastic involving far more people in this one. It did seem they overdid the obstacles and interference in this one making it feel like they were forcing them on you but no matter. This movie is just plain fun.

Chimera Strain [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 60 / 94
Personal = 2.2

Links Updated Oct 10, 2019
A man freezes his kids while he attempts to create an immortality gene. I cannot emphasize how depressing this film is. Everyone in it is pathological; the obsessed doctor has philosophically moral discussions with his braindead wife and plays with his dead ..er, frozen kids, the head of the research base is a sociopathical, sadistic narcissist, and a girl who says she wants to help the doctor. Yeah, right. The dialogue was written by someone who thought they were writing Shakespeare ...people don't talk like that. Overly melodramatic with a terribly sad ending.

Peppermint [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 13 / 72
Personal = 8.4

Updated Dec 17, 2019
Five years after her husband and daughter are killed by a gang drive-by shooting, a woman comes back to L.A. to take out the entire gang. Reminiscent of Death Wish on a much larger scale, she's had five years to train herself to be a bad-ass and she's pissed off and practically unstoppable. This is a pretty familiar story but done to perfection. Jennifer Garner is fantastic as the woman you continually cheer for regardless of the body count. Choreography was fantastic, pacing was fast and logical, tight story, the other characters fit right in. Awesome entertainment.

Inside Man [2006]

Rotten Tomatoes = 86 / 85
Personal = 9.1

Updated Jan 8, 2020
What appears as a simple bank heist gone wrong turns out to be anything but. Probably my favorite bank heist film other than Heat, this complex story (where nothing is what it seems) presents us with a scenario where you can't possibly figure out what they're doing or how they expect to get away, despite their claim they'll just walk out the front door. Once one watches it, watching it a second time is just as much fun to catch the clues. Denzel Washington and Clive Owers are excellent and surrounded by other compelling characters as well. Super stuff!

A.I. Rising [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / 90
Personal = 2.2

Updated Dec 9, 2019
This sci fi is about an emotionally retarded scientist, being sent to Alpha Centauri by his employer, along with a cyborg who basically becomes an emotionally confused female. Hard to tell if the first half was sci fi or soft porn. And then, in an effort to make her more human, he removes her operating software. First thing she does is deny him sex! Their behavior and interactions were ridiculously contrived, unrealistic, and abysmally dull. In between these 'personal' moments, we get treated to long scenes of eye candy that are mediocre at best. Asinine.

30 Miles from Nowhere [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 80 / 50
Personal = 7.0

Links Updated Oct 10, 2019
Like a psychotic version of The Big Chill, a group of old college friends reunion to a remote cabin of a fellow friend who committed suicide. Then things get strange. The filmmakers did a superb job of presenting our group of old friends as normal but there's always an air of subtle disturbance in every scene making the whole film unsettling. They don't avoid hiding what's probably going to happen but the events unfold in an insane, twisted fashion that had me dialed into every moment. Carrie Preston is awesome as the slightly unhinged, grieving widow. I really liked it.

Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines [2012]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / 17
Personal = 3.0

Our cannibal mutants, now staying with an equally insane relative, all decide to have some fun during a hillbilly festival. Although not nearly as ridiculous as WT4, this one isn't a whole lot better. I admired the first one for having genuine, intelligent victims. Unfortunately, they decided to make nearly every victim in this one die from their own stupidity. Some of the kills were creative but they quite often ruined it by taking the gore level way over-the-top just for gore's sake. Basically just cookie cutter characters in one contrived scene after another. Disappointing.

Captive State [2019]

Rotten Tomatoes = 44 / 40
Personal = 5.5

Links Updated 8/31/19
A small group of humans plan an insurgent act against our alien overlords who occupied Earth 10 years ago. Much ado about ...what? An inordinate amount of the film was used to depict a group coming together to perform their revolutionary act ...which was really minor and inevitably doomed to failure. What follows was totally obvious from the start, at least it was for me, and ending with "maybe" something changed. It was all rather entertaining to watch but, when it was all said and done, the best it gets from me is ...huh.

The Fast and the Furious [2001]

Rotten Tomatoes = 53 / 74
Personal = 7.1

Updated Jan 24, 2020
A cop goes undercover to expose a theft ring inside the world of street racing. If you like macho, he-man movies full of muscle cars, you've probably seen this already ...and for those that don't, I'm probably not going to change your mind. I haven't seen the franchise myself but I do know that they get increasingly insane. So, I approached this one as an introduction and found it to be quite satisfying. The story is simple and has been played out a hundred times but the characters were great, the action was excellent and it was a really fun way to start a franchise.

Assimilate [2019]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / 34
Personal = 6.8

Updated Jan 12, 2020
Although the film never gives any credit to the source of the idea, it's painfully obvious this film is yet another variation of Invasion of the Body Snatchers ...but a pretty good one. Mostly centers around 3 friends who have figured out that every resident in their little country town is being replaced by a replicate. The acting is fairly novice but they have the skills and they'll get better. The story was handled well (with enough variation to keep from being sued) and the story was logical and intelligent. Some good tension and a nice surprise ending rounds it all out well.

The Recall [2017]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / 30
Personal = 4.2

Links Updated Oct 10, 2019
Aliens return to Earth to pick up previous human experiments and pick up a few new ones. Like having two different writers, the first half wasn't bad; the characters were likable, smart, pacing was great and it was shaping up nicely. Then there's the second half, which made everyone dumb, the story increasingly outrageous, and, ultimately, it descended into cheap sci fi silliness. They had to invent a slightly unhinged, aggressive character for Wesley Snipes to play as his only real function in the film is to explain things. Everything else he did was superfluous. (sigh)

Triangle [2009]

Rotten Tomatoes = 80 / 66
Personal = 10.0

Updated Jan 24, 2020
A group of friends go sailing, get caught in a freak storm and end up on a seemingly deserted ship. Then things get really weird. One of my favorite films, it's a masterwork of time line complexities that's really underappreciated by most on their first viewing due to justifiable confusion. But I've watched it at least 6 times and it's better with every viewing; I learn something new each time and, as complex as it is, I've yet to find a error in the story line. Brilliantly written and phenomenally well structured, this thriller is unlike any other. Think Sisyphus.

Samsara [2011]

Rotten Tomatoes = 76 / 87
Personal = 6.1

Links Updated Oct 10, 2019
Another view of the world, through sight and sound, of life, culture, nature and the earth in general ...sort of. I usually find these films hypnotic and fascinating, like Ron Fricke's previous film, Baraka, a visual masterpiece. This one, not so much. Although it did give us a wide variety of life and culture, it spent a significant amount of time on subjects like slaughterhouse production lines, abject poverty, human misery, and a segment of performance art that seemed wildly out-of-place. Fricke has a knack for vision but, in this case, that vision is mostly bleak.

General Commander [2019]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / -
Personal = 4.7

A covert CIA team loses one of their own while trying to find a notorious organ smuggler. The CIA decides to disband the group. They create their own security agency to complete their mission. This is your typical low-budget knockoff. Two short actions scenes, start and finish, aren't too bad but they're blatantly scripted and planned rendering them not very authentic looking. In between are long sequences of bad acting, banal dialogue, and canned emotions complete with a sad sound track. Weirdly, it kept my attention, though.

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House [2016]

Rotten Tomatoes = 58 / 24
Personal = 1.2

Links Updated Oct 10, 2019
A extremely neurotic nurse moves into the home of an elderly horror novelist who's fading away ...but not fast enough. I believe I've actually found the slowest movie in existence. A 15 min short story in a 90 min package, the snapshot you see here is one of the most exciting moments in the entire film. That's not a joke! Every single scene and conversation was dragged out beyond reason and common sense. Waiting for this to get over with was sheer torture, I was near weeping. The ending was expected providing no reason to sit through this misery. This was just awful!

Jupiter's Moon [2017]

aka Jupiter holdja

Rotten Tomatoes = 49 / 26
Personal = 7.1

Updated Dec 17, 2019
A Syrian refugee gets shot while crossing the border but, instead of dying, he begins to levitate. The photographic skills utilized in this uniquely visionary film is extraordinary. There's a full car chase that is filmed, in one cut, in real time, from a camera on the bumper of the chasing car. I've never seen anything like it. The characters were wonderful, sincere, and logical. The relationship of the disgraced doctor towards the refugee, going from profit-seeking to actually caring, was wonderful. A great cinematic experience despite the overly ambiguous ending.

Saving Private Ryan [1998]

Rotten Tomatoes = 93 / 95
Personal = 9.6

Updated Jan 24, 2020
A day after the D-Day invasion in Normandy, a captain is given orders to find a Private James Ryan, who, as a result of the war, has become the only living son of 4 brothers, and bring him home. By far, this is the most honest and brutal depiction of warfare ever made. Winner of 79 awards and nominated for 74 others, the acting is genuine and heartfelt, the action is terrifying and painful to watch and the experience can never be forgotten. This masterpiece of cinema is included in my Doc's Hall of Fame list.

Black Coal, Thin Ice [2014]

aka Bai ri yan huo

Rotten Tomatoes = 95 / 58
Personal = 6.1

Updated Dec 17, 2019
5 years after losing his wife to divorce, being shot, and losing himself to alcohol, an ex-cop injects himself into an investigation of a presumed serial killer who likes to cut up the victims and spread their body parts all over the province. This slow, Chinese character study is far more about the individuals involved than it is about the crimes itself. The characters were quite interesting, compelling, honest and held my attention throughout even though the film has no action to speak of. The story that plays out is familiar so no big surprise there. Good drama.

Blood Brother [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 17 / 83
Personal = 4.0

Young guy kills armored car guard surrounded by his friends. He goes to jail for 15 years. Comes out and starts killing everybody. Long scenes of dialogue waxing philosophical about being brothers in the hood instead of just shooting each other and getting this ridiculous scenario over with. All the characters were shallow and unbelievable ...in fact, nothing in this film rang true. The ending, which was just silly, finally pointed out what we knew before we even turned it on ...you're responsible for your own actions. Wow! What an epiphany!! Let me take notes!!!

The 16th Episode [2019]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / 20
Personal = 4.1

Updated Jan 24, 2020
A YouTube group, that specializes in creating travelogues of places they live in for a period of time, go to Casablanca and end up in a demonic ritual. The characters are completely unlikable ...especially the camera man whose incessant whining and bitching I loathed from the start. There's no way these 3 dysfunctional, neurotic idiots would travel around the world together making YT videos. It's hard to find scares in a film full of angry, stupid, weird people involved in completely unrealistically chaotic and ludicrous scenarios.

Baby Snakes [1979]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / 92
Personal = 8.6

An excellent slice of musical history from the late 70's featuring one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, Frank Zappa. Mostly stage footage from a series of Halloween concerts in New York - which includes a great sampling of incredible musicianship, irreverent comedy, total insanity, and a few solos from one of the greatest guitar players ever - and also includes a lot of strange backstage shenanigans and a huge chunk of some totally bizarre claymation by Bruce Bickford. Three hours you'll never forget.

Ab Tak Chhappan 2 [2015]

aka 56 and Counting 2

Rotten Tomatoes = 0 / 17
Personal = 5.8

Links Updated 8/31/19
Too much film wasted getting our hero from the first film, who has retired after the death of his wife, to rebuild the Encounter Corp as gangs are controlling the streets once again. Also, too much film spent on politics and melodrama. As a result, it didn't have the punch, intensity and level of action as the first one. Basic and familiar story formula where the big reveal will come as no surprise to most. Comes off more as a TV cop show episode than as a movie albeit a pretty entertaining one if you're not looking for anything new.

The Wind [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 81 / 51
Personal = 5.8

Updated Dec 27, 2019
Well photographed, visually authentic, psychological character study of loneliness and isolation. A couple, who lives in the middle of nowhere, gains a couple as neighbors who are completely out of their depth when it comes to farming and living off the country. This triggers a series of catastrophic events, told in story pieces through various flashbacks. Very slow burn requiring patience but the characters and story are compelling. Plus, it keeps you guessing ...is she under siege by demons? ...or is she just going mad? Well presented and not bad!

The Birds [1963]

Rotten Tomatoes = 96 / 83
Personal = 8.2

Updated Dec 17, 2019
There's a reason this quite often tops horror and monster lists, along with Jaws. The enemy is real; we're surrounded by them ...and this film is a terrifying example of what may happen should they decide to fight back. Over 50 years old, the film is still quite effective. Some of the spec fx are quite dated but still put to excellent use, along with the acting, to create a real sense of dread that Hitchcock is famous for. If you're looking for a good dose of vintage terror, this is a good one. Also, I've lived in this area for nearly 50 years so seeing all the familiar territory is a real treat.

Asmodexia [2014]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / 13
Personal = 6.0

A religious leader (zealot) and his so-called granddaughter are traveling to a resurrection and performing exorcisms along the way. I didn't have much hope for this film and the beginning pretty much supported my fears ...but then it got good. The acting and dialogue were pretty low-budget throughout but the superb photography, exotic locations, expert camera usage and haunted, distorted sound track created a sense of dread that only got more intense as the film continued. Didn't like the ambiguous ending but, overall, it was a solid, creepy film.

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