REVIEW: BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT (2009)

CAST

Jesse Metecalfe (Loaded)
Amber Tamblyn (Two and a Half men)
Michael Douglas (Ant-Man)
Joel David Moore (Julia X)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Holllow)

Michael Douglas in Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)Shreveport, Louisiana TV reporter C. J. Nicholas (Jesse Metcalfe) is convinced that District Attorney Mark Hunter (Michael Douglas) is corrupt, following an unbroken string of convictions based only on circumstantial evidence. After flirting with Assistant D.A. Ella Crystal (Amber Tamblyn) to obtain an evidential videotape that he hopes will be revealing, they begin dating and fall in love. The videotape suggests to Nicholas that Hunter is using one of his investigators, Lt. Merchant, to obtain DNA evidence from suspects in custody and plant the evidence to support a conviction. Still unable to prove his claim against Hunter, he is demoted from watchdog reporter to general assignment due to budget cuts. Nicholas becomes even more determined to expose Hunter, convinced that he will win a Pulitzer if successful.Jesse Metcalfe in Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)He concocts an elaborate scheme to frame himself for the murder of a prostitute using circumstantial evidence. His passion for the project enlists support from Crystal—who still does not know he is gunning for her boss—and co-worker Corey Finley (Joel Moore). Finley accompanies him as he obtains objects online and from pawn shops that will circumstantially link Nicholas to the murder. Finley records these instances on video with Nicholas holding a newspaper showing the date to be after the date of the murder. The original video kept in Finley’s desk and a back-up copy is placed in a safe deposit box. Nicholas gets himself arrested for DUI by Lt Nickerson (Orlando Jones), an acquaintance and police contact of Nicholas, while wearing his falsified circumstantial evidence. He is arrested and charged with the murder. Merchant, however, requests that the case be transferred to him to steal credit for the DA, much to Nickerson’s dismay. Upon closer investigations of Nicholas’ recent activities, he becomes suspicious and informs Hunter that Nicholas is trying to set them up. Crystal, who still doesn’t know what Nicholas has been plotting, visits him in jail and offers to quit her job and join his defense team, but he convinces her not to do so.Jesse Metcalfe and Joel David Moore in Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)The next step in the plan is to wait until the prosecution rests its case, then introduce the documentary evidence exposing the truth. Hunter instructs Merchant to destroy the video evidence. Finley finds his desk ransacked. Panicked, he tries to retrieve the back-up, but is pursued by Merchant in a high-speed chase in which he is killed. Nicholas reveals his plot in court using only the dated receipts for his falsified evidence, but Hunter casts doubt on his story. Nicholas has no proof that the victim’s blood, which was found on the false evidence, was planted by Hunter’s people. The jury convicts Nicholas for the crime. Crystal still believes in Nicholas and begins her own investigation, unaware that Hunter knew she was dating Nicholas. She is followed by Merchant. Nicholas is sentenced to death. Hunter visits him in prison to reveal that his phone calls to Crystal, guiding her investigation, have been recorded.Crystal obtains crime scene photos from Hunter’s convictions and takes them to digital photography experts, who determine that the objects containing the suspect’s DNA evidence in each case have been digitally added to the original photos after the fact. When she attempts to take this evidence to the police, Merchant tries to kill her with his car while she flees on foot. She is rescued by Lt. Nickerson, who shoots Merchant dead. Nickerson reveals that he suspected Merchant was up to no good, and he had been “following him following” Crystal. The doctored photo evidence leads to Hunter’s arrest in a public scandal. Nicholas’ conviction is declared a mistrial and he becomes a media celebrity. Hunter’s convictions are re-examined by the state. Crystal, however, begins to suspect that the evidence reveals something else, too. After re-watching Nicholas’ award-winning documentary about the murder of a prostitute in Buffalo, New York, she recognizes the hands of a woman who supposedly died of a drug overdose during production as the hands of the victim in the murder for which Nicholas was convicted. She correctly deduces that the woman came to Shreveport to blackmail Nicholas, that Nicholas killed her, then used the murder in his scheme against Hunter. Crystal alerts the police, and tells Nicholas that he is not subject to the double jeopardy law because he wasn’t declared innocent. As the police arrive to arrest him, she tells him, “I just thought of one other thing. Fuck you.”I accepted that many of the actors were not the greatest around today, or that the lighting and sound was almost never polished and was often primitive. And that the music soundtrack was just adequate. But what I very much enjoyed was the story itself. This is a great mystery plot which kept me guessing. And I like those kinds of stories.

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REVIEW: 127 HOURS

CAST

James Franco (The Interview)
Kate Mara (Fantastic Four)
Amber Tamblyn (Two and a Half Men)
Clémence Poésy (In Bruges)
Lizzy Caplan (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Kate Burton (The ICe Storm)
Treat Williams (Deadfall)

James Franco in 127 Hours (2010)Mountaineer Aron Ralston goes hiking at Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. He befriends hikers Kristi and Megan, and shows them an underground pool. After swimming, Aron parts ways with the hikers, and continues through a slot canyon in Blue John Canyon. While climbing down, he slips and falls, knocking a boulder which smashes his right hand and wrist against the wall. Stuck, he tries calling for help but realizes that he is alone.James Franco in 127 Hours (2010)Ralston begins recording a video diary to maintain morale, chipping away parts of the boulder in order to free himself and to keep warm at night. He rations his food and water, in order to survive the ordeal. He sets up a pulley using his climbing rope in a futile attempt to lift the boulder.James Franco in 127 Hours (2010)Days pass. Ralston considers using his pocket knife to cut himself free, but finds the dull blade unable to cut bone. With no water, he is forced to drink his urine. His videos become desperate and depressed and he hallucinates about escape, relationships, and past experiences including a former lover, family, and Kristi and Megan. During one of the hallucinations, he realizes that his mistake was that he did not tell anyone where he was going. He thinks that it was destiny that the boulder trapped him.James Franco, Kate Mara, and Amber Tamblyn in 127 Hours (2010)Using his knowledge of torque, Ralston fashions a crude tourniquet from CamelBak tube insulation and uses a carabiner to tighten it. He then slowly amputates his arm successfully. He wraps the stump of his arm to prevent exsanguination and takes a picture of the boulder. He then rappels down a 65-foot rockface using his other arm and drinks rainwater from a small pond. He meets a family on a hike, who alert the authorities, and a Utah Highway Patrol helicopter brings him to a hospital. Ralston starts a family, continues climbing and always leaves a note saying where he has gone.James Franco in 127 Hours (2010)127 Hours is not just a film – it is an experience.. It is an amazing movie centred around an absolutely incredible, legendary performance. Watching Franco bare his soul on-screen is practically a cleansing experience. I went in with high hopes, and left with a huge smile on my face. It is authentically emotional, and in a year merely punctuated with a handful of amazing movies amongst a sea of filth, it more than just stands out. It is quite simply, unforgettable.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: TWO AND A HALF MEN – THE CHRISTMAS EPISODES

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CAST
Charlie Sheen (Anger Management)
Jon Cryer (Superman 4)
Angus T. Jones (Bringing Down The House)
Conchata Ferrell (Mr. Deeds)
Holland Taylor (Legalley Blonde)
Marin Hinkle (Dark Blue)
April Bowlby (Mom)
Jennifer Tayor (Wild Things)
Ashton Kutcher (That 70s Show)
Amber Tamblyn (The Grudge)
Edan Alexander (Outliving Emily)

SANTA’S VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED

GUEST CAST
Josie Davis (Bones)
Alan finds a new girlfriend, Sandy- his cooking class teacher. In the first scene Charlie wakes up and thinks that he had a one-night stand with her, but when Alan walks in and kisses and greets her he (Charlie) realises that Alan is with her. He also describes her as a “nester”. But she is a great cook and gets Charlie and Alan hooked on to her food. They also gains lots of weight. When they sing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve, Charlie sees that his house has been transformed in to – what he calls – Santa’s Village of the Damned. In bed she also remembers that she forgot to put out cookies and milk for Santa. They realise that she is crazy.
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WALNUTS AND DEMEROL

GUEST CAST
Melanie Lynskey (Up In The Air)
Ryan Stiles (Hot Shots)
Jessica Collins (Tru Calling)
Susan Sullivan (The Increible Hulk 70s)
Charlie’s friends and family put a crimp on his plan for a romantic Christmas Eve date. Evelyn talks to his date, learns about who she is, and then takes extreme measures to prevent them from having sex, but Charlie begins to have sex with her anyway until he learns that she might be his half sister.
Alan has to mediate when Herb becomes more interested in Kandi and her breasts, making Judith angry. Rose and Berta discover Charlie’s boundery after following the couple around the house and stopping at his bedroom door to eavesdrop. Also, Jake gets into the egg nog, unaware that the egg nog’s filled with burbon and becomes inebriated, starting with his dancing and muttering around the house and ending with his narrating “T’was the night before christmas” and throwing up all over the back of Herb and Judith’s car on the way home.

WARNING IT’S DIRTY

GUEST CAST
Carl Reiner (Oceans Eleven)
It’s holiday time at the Harper house and it has everything you’d expect—booze, singing, womanizing, and an old man soiling himself. This year, Alan has written the Harper Christmas newsletter to send out. Now, I sometimes get newsletters in lieu of a Christmas card and for me it just seems a little too impersonal. Unfortunately, there was nothing impersonal about this newsletter. In it we learn that Jake passed his class by the skin of his ass, Charlie is single no more after getting engaged to a lady, not a whore, and Evelyn rejuvenated her secret garden—turns out nothing rhymes with vulva. I think the best part of the scene, besides the poem of course, was Alan’s responses, in his best Oliver Twist accent, to Charlie’s bah-humbug attitude. I’m not sure if Alan was hitting the sauce or if the holidays just puts him in a jolly mood, but he was downright witty!
The real story of the evening, though, involves Charlie giving Jake some much unneeded advice about how to cheat. Charlie notices Jake scamming on some girl down at the beach and gives him a hard time for not going down to meet them. Jake reminds Charlie that he’s in a committed relationship and, in turn, Charlie reminds Jake that he’s only 13 (though he’s actually 15) and shouldn’t be tied down so young. Maybe Charlie is feeling a bit too tied down himself at the young age of 40 (though he’s actually 42), because it seems that he wants to live vicariously through Jake. After much prodding, Jake finally agrees to go talk to the girl. Throughout the evening, and despite Alan’s repeated objections, Charlie helps Jake with the rules.
Unfortunately, Charlie has no rules to help prepare Jake for when Celeste shows up unexpectedly with his Christmas present, and finds Jake with the other girl. As soon as the new girl learns of Jake’s girlfriend she storms off, the now ex-girlfriend leaves in a huff, and Chelsea gives Charlie a look that would castrate a lesser man! In other Harper family news, Evelyn brings a Hollywood producer to the Christmas Eve dinner. Mr. Pepper, played by the ridiculously funny Carl Reiner, is a wheelchair-bound spitfire whom Evelyn just couldn’t bear to see spending the evening alone in his $60 million estate—and with the $2 million she could make off of selling his house when he buys the farm, who could blame her? It turns out that he knows Lucille Ball wasn’t a true redhead. He’s willing to share with them how he knows but warns them, “It’s dirty.” and complains that he’s sitting so close to the fire his chestnuts are roasting. In the end, it looks as though Mr. Pepper really does pass away. He slumps over and is unresponsive. As Evelyn mentally calculates her commission, Mr. Pepper awakens to say “She thinks she’s going to sell my house when I’m gone. But I ain’t going!” Then he looks down at his lap and realizes “Oops. I am going.”

ONE FALSE MOVE, ZIMBABWE!

GUEST CAST
Mimi Rogers (Ginger Snaps)
Sophie Winkleman (The Chronicles of Narnia)
Jane Carr (The Five-Year Engagement)
Graham Patrick Martin (Major Crimes)
Jim Piddock (Independence Day)
Walden wakes up on Christmas and gives Zoey a key to his house. Zoey says that giving her a key to his house is premature. He asks if he can meet her parents (who are flying in), but she tells him that next year might be a good time as they are still learning about each other, However, Walden counters by telling Zoey her eye color, pants size and that she runs the faucet to cover her peeing. Walden’s mother is coming to visit him. Alan tries to get Evelyn to come over seeing as though this is the family’s first Christmas without Charlie. She declines as she is having a “two man sandwich”, which Alan learns over the phone in disgust. Walden then wonders where Lyndsey is, but Alan tells him that she has a new boyfriend now, leaving him single and lonely again. Jake calls and tells Alan that he is with Judith, Herb and his sister, actually not being there and is instead smoking pot with Eldridge somewhere else.
Walden’s mother arrives and Alan is smitten with how young and beautiful she is. They have dinner, Walden’s mother asks if Walden was now a homosexual and hiding it; they quickly due a recap of Season 9 to clear things up. She then explains that she is a primatologist and mainly works with gorillas. Walden mentions “Magilla”, an imaginary gorilla friend that he had when he was a child. However, she tells him Magilla does exist and he shared the first four years of his life with him, which lead to Walden learning sign language; she wanted to see if a gorilla baby could learn as fast as a human baby. She sent him back to the jungle after he tried to kill a Jehovah’s Witness. This revelation shocks Walden deeply as all his memories of Magilla clear up and he explains that he was so perfect during his childhood because he feared that he would be sent to Zimbabwe just like his gorilla “brother”. He leaves in a huff.
At Zoey’s apartment building, she opens the door to find Walden holding a bottle of liquor, inquiring if he was drunk; Walden himself is unsure, but thinks he is due to drinking and invites himself in. With hid thoughts muddled with alcohol and anger, Walden questions Zoey’s parents, who are very British and appear to like him despite his odd behavior, if they would do something similar to what happened to him. At the beach house, they then get a call from Zoey, who tells them to come over as Walden is acting crazy. They arrive to see Walden has climbed up to the roof of the complex, where Zoey meets Walden;’s mother and briefly forgets the situation. Alan climbs up to talk some sense into him, telling him how he knows the pain of losing a brother (referring to Charlie’s death). On the street, Jake and Eldrige, both baked, eat doughnuts and blankly comment on the situation before deciding to get more food.
Later, Walden is taken to the place Magilla is being kept and reunites with his “brother” after identifying himself through sign language. Alan becomes shocked that Walden’s mother brought a taser to stun Magilla if he attacked Walden.

GIVE SANTA A TAIL-HOLE

GUEST CAST
Courtney Thorne-Smith (Melrose Place)
Brooke D’Orsay (The Skulls III)
Patton Oswalt (Agents of Shield)
Still pretending to be the poverty-stricken “Sam Wilson”, Walden spends Christmas with Kate, who urges him to get a job. He then gets a call from his internet business partner Billy, who tells him that they have been offered $800 million for their “electronic suitcase”. Billy wants to sell, but Walden wants to hold out for a higher price. “Sam” gets a job selling Christmas trees, which he takes to immediately and enjoys.
Billy stops by the Christmas tree lot multiple times with new offers, urging Walden to sell, but Walden repeatedly shoos him away, saying he will not sell for less than $1.4 billion. Just as “Sam” closes a $40 deal with a Christmas tree customer, Walden and Billy close a deal to sell their electronic suitcase for $1.2 billion. After Kate’s sewing machine breaks, Walden uses his Christmas tree commissions to buy her a new one for Christmas. Walden feels much happier with Kate in his new blue collar world. Meanwhile, Alan plans to spend Christmas Eve with Evelyn, Jake and Lyndsey, but none of them are able to come. Jake plans to spend Christmas with his girlfriend and her children, Evelyn is having plastic surgery, and Lyndsey has to go to Cleveland to help her grandmother, who broke her hip. Alan begins to feel alone and miserable, until a less-than-willing Berta comes to seemingly comfort him.

ON VODKA, ON SODA, ON BLENDER ON MIXER!

GUEST CAST
Diane Farr (Roswell)
Aly Michalka (Izombie)
Paula Marshall (Veronica Mars)
TWO AND A HALF MEN
 Jenny hooks up with a bikini wax technician named Brooke who catches Jenny’s heart, but gives her a fake phone number. Walden visits Brooke’s salon to get a painful wax, but gets Brooke to promise to call Jenny. Alan is still with Paula who introduces Alan to her former wife of 20 years, Rachel. Rachel starts coming onto Alan who initially refuses. After Alan finds out that he and Paula are not exclusive, he unknowingly takes Rachel to the same bar that Paula visits every Friday. Paula is pissed off to see them both together. They discover that they still have feelings for each other and that Rachel was going out with Alan only to make her jealous and then they get back together in a lesbian relationship.
The night of their date Jenny gets bombed and then Brooke shows up bombed because she usually never does second dates and passes out on the couch with Jenny.
Walden narrates that Alan is sleeping with lesbian dreams of Paula and Rachel. Jenny and Brooke slept together. While he and Berta are busy getting stoned.

FAMILY, BUBLE, DEEP-FRIED TURKEY

GUEST CAST
Richard Riehle (Halloween II)
Kari Klinkenborg (Castle)
It’s Christmas time and Rose comes over and offers her help, but is turned down. Louis doesn’t believe in Santa as he never got presents, so Walden and Alan want to prove him Santa exists by hiring a Santa who will be captured on video. Unfortunately, while Alan and Walden are in the garage putting together Louis’ new bike, sex between Evelyn and the fake Santa leads to a trip to the emergency room for the latter. Sometime later, Louis can’t sleep, and asks Walden and Alan to stay with him; the two wind up falling asleep. In the morning, however, they discover all the presents under the tree and a video of Santa. Walden realizes Rose was responsible when he sees “Santa” leaping over the balcony railing. Rose tells Walden she really does want to be friends with him, and surprises Walden with a Christmas gift – a cuckoo clock (that, unknown to Walden and Alan, is actually a spy cam).

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A show lasting 12 years was bound to end up a few Christmas episodes 7 specials are all good I especially love Santa’s village of the Damned. Josie Davis was a brilliant guest star playing a woman who still believe sin Santa and is obsessed with making every perfect for Santa. the second Walnuts and Demoral is just a brilliantly well plotted episode with several neat twists and turns. As you watch these specials you get see how much the show changed throughout the years especially when you get to the last 4 seasons, the years without Charlie, but even those xmas specials are just as good. All seven are worth watching over Christmas a good 3hours + to keep you entertained.

REVIEW: THE RING

CAST

Naomi watts (Insurgent)
Martin Henderson (Everest)
Brian Cox (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
David Dorfman (The Singing Detective)
Jane Alexander (Terminator Salvation)
Lindsay Frost (Collateral Damage)
Amber Tamblyn (Two and a Half Men)
Daveigh Chase (S.Darko)
Adam Brody (Mr. & Mrs. Smith)
Alan Blumenfeld (Heroes)
Pauley Parrette (Almost Famous)
Sara Rue (Mom)

Teenagers Katie Embry and Becca Kotler discuss the urban legend of a cursed videotape that kills the viewer seven days after watching it. Katie admits she watched the tape with her boyfriend and two others at a campsite a week ago. Suddenly, the telephone rings and both of the teenagers are initially startled, but the caller turns out to be Katie’s mother. After speaking with her mother, Katie begins to notice eerie noises coming from upstairs, where her friend had supposedly gone. After witnessing other paranormal phenomena, Katie hesitantly yells to Becca from the bottom of the stairs, as the sounds become intensely unsettling. Reaching the top of the stairs, Katie notices water leaking from her bedroom and as soon as she opens the door, she sees an image of a well on her TV screen, which frightens her to death. Becca is later institutionalised after witnessing Katie’s death.

At Katie’s funeral, her aunt Rachel Keller, a Seattle journalist, is asked by her mother to investigate the cause of Katie’s death. Her mother tells her that she found Katie’s distorted body inside the closet and that none of the doctors she consulted could explain her sudden death. Rachel’s son Aidan also tells her that Katie predicted her own death about a week ago. Rachel learns Katie’s three friends also died on the same date and time. Travelling to Shelter Mountain Inn, Rachel discovers the videotape and watches its haunting imagery in the cabin Katie stayed in. The cabin’s telephone rings and on the line, a girl’s voice tells Rachel she has “seven days”.

Rachel turns to Noah Clay, her ex-boyfriend and Aidan’s father, for help. Noah, a video analyst, is skeptical of the curse but watches the tape, asking Rachel to copy it for further examination. Rachel discovers hidden footage of a lighthouse on the tape. Research reveals the identity of a woman on the tape as Anna Morgan, a deceased horse breeder from Moesko Island, who committed suicide after her beloved horses all drowned from a mysterious ailment. Rachel and Noah both experience supernatural phenomena, and Rachel catches Aidan watching the tape. Leaving Aidan in the care of her sister, Rachel travels by ferry to Moesko Island while Noah tries to obtain Anna’s medical files during her time in therapy. However, a horse aboard the ferry is spooked by Rachel’s presence and falls off the ferry. Passengers then see blood in the water, indicating that the horse was killed by the propellers.

Arriving on the island, Rachel visits the Morgan Ranch but is quickly dismissed by Anna’s husband Richard when she starts asking questions about their adopted daughter Samara. Rachel meets the island GP, Dr. Grasnik, who explains Anna was unable to have children, leading to the adoption of Samara. However, Samara possessed unusual psychic abilities that drove her parents close to insanity. Rachel sneaks into the Morgans’ house and discovers a recorded medical interview with Samara, who implies she drove the horses to death after being locked in the barn by her father. Rachel confronts Richard, but he commits suicide in a bathtub. Noah arrives and they break into the barn, find Samara’s bedroom in the loft, and discover a picture of a tree burnt into the wall – the tree seen at Shelter Mountain.  Rachel and Noah go to the cabin and discover a stone well beneath the floor; the well is also present on the tape. Rachel is knocked down the well and experiences a flashback, revealing Anna pushed Samara down the well and sealed her in before committing suicide herself. Rachel finds Samara’s corpse at the bottom of the well, which is removed by the authorities and later given a proper burial.  The next day, Rachel returns home with Aidan but he warns her that she should not have helped Samara out of the well, as the curse is still in effect. In his apartment, Noah witnesses his television turn itself on. As he watches, Samara crawls out of the onscreen well and then crawls right out of the television, which frightens him to death.

In enraged grief, Rachel burns the original tape but realises she was spared by the curse because she had made a copy, while Noah did not. In an effort to save Aidan, who watched the tape, Rachel aids him in making a copy. Aidan asks her what will they do when they show it to someone else, but Rachel does not reply.

I saw the original Japanese “Ringu” movie after this one and although I liked it, to my considerable surprise I found that American remake is a real improvement over the original. And that is one more reason to praise “The Ring” as an exceptionnally good film.

REVIEW: GIRLFRIEND’S DAY

CAST

Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)
Amber Tamblyn (Two and a Half Men)
Stacy Keach (The Bourne Legacy)
Alex Karpovsky (Girls)
Kevin O’Grady (Fargo)
Rich Sommer (Mad men)
Larry Fessenden (The Last Winter)
Natasha Lyonne (Ameican Pie)
Andy Richtr (Elf)
June Diane Raphael (Year One)
Echo Kellum (Arrow)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica Mars)

In a city where greeting card writers are celebrated like movie stars, Romance writer Ray used to be the king. In trying to recapture the feelings that once made him the greatest, he gets entangled in a web of murder and deceit as writers vie to create the perfect card for a new holiday: Girlfriend’s Day.
Folks point out that the story is a bit confused… and they’re right. There’s a way of managing essential vs. negligible detail in a story. I suspect it can be rightfully and respectfully said that Odenkirk has a way of blurring that line; a way that some folks find off-putting and others find charming. Personally, I find it charming. You may not find it charming, so you’ve been warned. Girlfriend’s Day is a labor of love. Tune it in, hang with it, and it may pay off with the delight and warmth of a mystery greeting card, hovering preborn in the aethers, and whose message we may never know.

REVIEW: THE GRUDGE 2

CAST

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Amber Tamblyn (Two and A Half Men)
Arielle Kebbel (The Vampire Diaries)
Edison Chen (The Dark Knight)
Sarah Roemer (Disturbia)
Matthew Knight (Cheaper By The Dozen 2)
Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies)
Jennifer Beals (Lie To Me)
Christopher Cousins (Stargate Sg.1)
Jenna Dewan Tatum (Sueprgirl TV)
Ryo Ishibashi (Blue Tiger)

In Japanese society, it is said a curse is created when a person dies in the grip of a powerful rage or sorrow. Those who encounter the evil supernatural force are consumed by it, the curse is born repeatedly and spreads. The original victims of the curse, the Saeki family, haunt their Tokyo suburban house as ghosts and kill anyone who enters. Housewife Kayako Saeki was murdered by her husband Takeo after he discovered she loved another man, their son Toshio and pet cat Mar also being murdered, before Takeo was hanged by Kayako’s ghost. In the first film, American social worker Karen Davis tried to burn the house down to stop the curse, but failed, finding herself hospitalised and haunted by Kayako. The film’s chronology is told in a non-linear fashion, taking place in 2004 and 2006 respectively.

Karen’s younger sister Aubrey is summoned by their bed-ridden mother who informs Aubrey of Karen’s situation and sends her to Tokyo to retrieve her. In Japan, Aubrey struggles to communicate with the hospital staff but a journalist named Eason aids her. Aubrey briefly speaks with Karen, who quickly panics, and has to be restrained. Karen later escapes her restraints and flees through the hospital stalked by Kayako, until she makes it to the roof which Kayako throws her off in front of Aubrey and Eason. Eason explains the curse to Aubrey, revealing he rescued Karen from the house fire, and has been investigating the Saeki murders and surrounding events. The two go to the house to retrieve Kayako’s diary, but Toshio drags Aubrey inside to curse her.

Eason takes the diary to an associate, who explains Kayako’s mother Mrs. Kawamata was an itako who exorcised evil spirits from visitors and fed them to her daughter. Aubrey and Eason plan to visit Mrs. Kawamata the next day, but at night, Eason develops photographs he took of the Saeki house, but Kayako emerges from a photo and murders him. Aubrey discovers his body in the morning and travels alone to Mrs. Kawamata’s remote rural home. Kayako’s mother warns her the curse is irreversible, and is suddenly killed by her daughter. Aubrey ventures to the house, following an image of Karen inside but encounters Takeo’s ghost who plays out the night he discovered his wife’s disloyalty, and snaps Aubrey’s neck.

Two years later, school girls Allison Flemming, Vanessa, and Miyuki, break into the house on a dare but Allison is locked in the closet and encounters Aubrey’s ghost but the girls escape. After Miyuki and Vanessa are consumed by the curse, Allison speaks with school counsellor Ms. Dale about the curse, but Dale denies its existence, revealing she went to the house and is actually a ghost herself. Allison is haunted by the ghosts of her friends, and she eventually flees back to Chicago, where she stays with her parents.

Several months on, the Kimbles move into an apartment block in Chicago. The young son Jake is disturbed by a strange presence in the building brought about by a hooded stranger who covers windows with newspaper. Jake’s father Bill and stepmother Trish are influenced by the curse, Bill accusing his wife of having an affair but she bludgeons him with a frying pan. Jake and his sister Lacey return from school, but Jake finds his family are all dead. He runs into the hooded person, revealed to be Allison, who explains the curse followed her. Kayako appears in Allison’s hood, finally taking her, and then emerges to attack Jake.

Takashi Shimizu did a great job directing this sequel, which grabs the audience’s attention with bone-chilling scenes and with moments that make you jump. Like the first movie, this sequel has disturbing and creepy images that will stick in your mind after the movie is over. The mysterious yet dramatic atmosphere of the movie created an eerie feeling of the ongoing horror and the built-up suspense, which are contributed by the cast members’ dramatic acting. Overall, this is a movie with the right balance of horror and drama, but doesn’t surpass its original.

REVIEW: DJANGO UNCHAINED

CAST

Jamie Foxx (Dreamgirls)
Christopher Waltz (The Green Hornet)
Leonardo DiCaprio (Critters 3)
Kerry Washington (Save The Last dance)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers)
Walton Goggins (The Bourne Identity)
Dennis Christopher (Angel)
James Remar (X-Men: First Class)
Don Johnson (Machete)
Amber Tamblyn (Two and a Half Men)
M.C. Gainey (Lost)
Tom Wopat (Jonah Hex)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Zoe Bell (Oblivion)
Michael Bowen (Jackie Brown)
Robert Carradine (Timecop 2)
James Parks (Death Proof)
Michael Parks (Red State)
Michael Bacall (Gangster Squad)
Evan Parke (Alias)

In Texas in the year 1858, the Speck brothers, Ace and Dicky, drive a group of black slaves on foot. Among the shackled slaves is Django, sold off and separated from his wife, Broomhilda von Shaft. The Speck brothers are stopped by Dr. King Schultz, a German dentist-turned-bounty hunter from Düsseldorf, who asks to buy one of the slaves. When he questions Django about his knowledge of the Brittle brothers, a group of outlaws for whom Schultz is carrying a warrant, Ace becomes irritated and threateningly aims his shotgun at Schultz. Schultz, a superior gunslinger, immediately kills Ace in return and leaves an injured Dicky at the mercy of the newly freed slaves, who kill him and follow the North Star to freedom.

As Django can identify the Brittle brothers, Schultz offers Django his freedom in exchange for help tracking them down. After hunting down the Brittles, the liberated Django (who adopted the surname “Freeman”) partners with Schultz through the winter and becomes his apprentice, and Schultz discovers that Django has a natural talent of being an incredible crack shot. Schultz explains that he feels responsible for Django since Django is the first person he has ever freed, and felt more obliged to help Django (whom he described as a “real-life Siegfried”) reunite with Broomhilda. Django, now fully trained, collects his first bounty, keeping the handbill for good luck.

In 1859, Django and Schultz travel to Mississippi, where they learn the identity of Broomhilda’s owner: Calvin J. Candie, the charming but cruel owner of the Candyland plantation, where slaves are forced to fight to the death in brutal wrestling matches called “Mandingo fights”. Schultz, expecting Candie will not sell Broomhilda if they ask for her directly, feigns interest in purchasing one of Candie’s prized fighters for far more than the normal price. Schultz and Django meet Candie at his gentleman’s club in Greenville and submit their offer. Intrigued, Candie invites them to his ranch at Candyland. After secretly briefing Broomhilda, Schultz claims to be charmed by the German-speaking Broomhilda and offers to buy her.

During dinner, Candie’s staunchly loyal house slave, Stephen, becomes suspicious of Schultz and Django’s motives. Deducing that Django and Broomhilda know each other previously and that the sale of the Mandingo fighter is a ruse, Stephen alerts Candie and admonishes him for his greed. Candie is angered at being fooled and having his time wasted, but contains his anger long enough to theatrically display his knowledge of phrenology, which he uses to theorize why the slaves have failed to kill their oppressors, despite ample opportunity. Candie’s bodyguard, Butch Pooch, bursts into the room with his shotgun trained on the two bounty hunters, and Candie explodes in anger, threatening to kill Broomhilda. He offers an alteration of the original deal, with Broomhilda taking the Mandingo fighter’s place at the same price, and threatens her death should the deal be rejected. After business appears concluded, Candie insists that the deal be sealed through a handshake, which Schultz initially refuses but eventually appears to concede. However, Schultz snaps and kills Candie with a concealed derringer. Butch shoots Schultz dead and Django kills him in turn, and an extensive gunfight in the mansion between Django and Candie’s henchmen ensues. Django guns down a great number of his opponents, but surrenders when Broomhilda is taken hostage.

The next morning, Stephen tells Django that he will be sold to a mine and worked to death. En route to the mine, Django proves to his escorts that he is a bounty hunter by showing them the handbill from his first kill. He convinces them that there is a large bounty for criminals hiding at Candyland, and promises that they would receive the majority of the money. The escorts release him and give him a pistol, and he kills them before stealing a horse and returning to Candyland with a bag of dynamite.

Returning to the plantation, Django kills more of Candie’s henchmen, takes Broomhilda’s freedom papers from the dead Schultz’s pocket, bids goodbye to his late friend and frees Broomhilda from a nearby cabin. When Candie’s mourners return from his burial, Django kills the remaining henchmen and Candie’s sister Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly, releases the two remaining house slaves, and kneecaps Stephen. Django then ignites the dynamite that he has planted throughout the mansion, and he and Broomhilda watch from a distance as the mansion explodes with the incapacitated Stephen inside, before riding off together.

A brilliant movie. Very entertaining and I loved it. We don’t get many westerns any more so this was a welcome addition to the genre. Tarantino is of course well known for the violence in his films, which renders them as not being for the squeamish, but on top of that they usually feature touches of levity to brighten up the more grisly proceedings. Above all he assembles highly accomplished actors and good stories with some great lines. The cinematography is superb and the music excellent. Oh, and there is some wonderful horsemanship. An excellent film which can be highly recommended.