REVIEW: THE PRICE OF KISSING

CAST

Pauley Perrette (NCIS)
Leon (Cool Runnings)
Nicole Eggert (Blown Away)
Jon Seda (Oz)
Loretta Devine (Crash)
Lou Rawls (Hey Arnold)
William R. Moses (Mystic Pizza)

hqdefaultRenee is a writer searching for the appropriate expression for her offbeat observations. Her best friend, Larry, is the majordomo of a local club who’s just waiting for an invitation to sing with the reggae house band. Achieving either goal (or those of other characters) will require a leap into the unknown.annette06Though DiPersio explores well-trod dramatic territory, he gives it a fresh, magical spin. His community of artists and oddballs evokes memories of films as diverse as “La Boheme” and Alan Rudolph’s “Choose Me.” There’s an irreverent quality he brings to the material that leavens its more banal elements and softens its harder edges. Renee’s already complicated life takes a sharper turn when her roommate Annette (Nicole Eggert) becomes romantically involved with Larry, unaware that he’s the special friend in her pad-mate’s life. Annette also takes a job at the club. The incestuous nature of this tight-knit band intensifies when Larry, another club worker, becomes enamored of Renee.annette03On the periphery, there’s sage advice to be gleaned from Billy a saxophone philosopher who appears to live in the entrance corridor to the young women’s apartment; and Jackee, a fortuneteller whose love potions promise the truth.DiPersio’s direction has a sucker punch that spins you around. Employing a matter-of-fact attitude, he manages to deal with such hot-button issues as interracial romance and incest in a manner that’s frank and refreshing. Pic’s first-rate cast is extraordinarily attuned to the script. Pauley P. is an unconventional type who grounds Renee in a sense of reality not usually found in this type of role. Particularly effective is her relationship with roomie Eggert, demonstrating both the women’s bond and the delicate emotional factors that attack their friendship. Leon, as the man in between, provides a deft balance of vanity and insecurity that hits the perfect note. The spare budget shows in a few key tech areas. Lensing by Feliks Parnell is on the murky side, affecting pic’s ambience and production design. The film’s editing rhythm is also a bit abrupt and awkward. But these lapses are forgivable in an otherwise compelling tale.

 

Advertisements

REVIEW: RED SURF

CAST

Georg Clooney (Hail, Caesar!)
Doug Savant (Desperate Housewives)
Dedee Pfeiffer (Falling Down)
Philip McKeon (Alice)
Rick Najera (MADtv)
Gene Simmons (Armed Response)

UntitledRemar and Attila are a couple of surfers who also deal drugs to make a living. They are trying to set up a final deal with local drug lord, Calavera, when their friend True Blue is busted by the cops. Blue talks too much in the police station and Calavera is out for revenge because of the betrayal.NGNIt’s a decent low-budget action film, with an urban late 80s/early 90s feel to it. However, the film lacks focus and a good script, and some parts are really quite corny. The main duo (George Clooney and Doug Savant) decide to save a friend who sold them out, and only one of them seems to have common sense. Some of the acting is a bit ordinary too, even from Clooney, but he still manages to transcend that leadership quality that he has with most of his characters in this movie as the alcohol-fuelled would-be parent and failed surfer in Mark Remar. Regardless of the overall plot, this is still pretty entertaining, particularly with the final shoot-out scene.

 

REVIEW: HARD CANDY

CAST

Patrick Wilson (Watchmen)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Sandra Oh (Sideways)
Odessa Rae (Movie 43)

The film opens with a sexually charged, flirtatious online chat between 14-year-old Hayley Stark and Jeff Kohlver, a 32-year-old photographer. Jeff and Hayley meet at a coffeehouse, and he takes her back to his house. Hayley makes them both screwdrivers and asks him to take photographs. Before he can, Jeff gets dizzy, his vision blurs, and he falls to the floor unconscious.When Jeff wakes, he is bound to a chair. Hayley explains she has been tracking him and drugged him because she knows he is a pedophile, rapist, and murderer. Jeff denies these allegations, claiming he had innocent intentions. Hayley searches Jeff’s house and finds his gun and safe. In the safe, Hayley finds “sick” pictures and a photo of Donna Mauer, a local girl who has been kidnapped and remains missing. Jeff denies involvement in Mauer’s disappearance and succeeds in reaching his gun, but when he (still bound to the chair) attacks Hayley, she renders him unconscious by asphyxiating him with plastic wrap.When Jeff wakes, he finds himself bound to a steel table with a bag of ice on his genitals. Hayley explains she will castrate Jeff. Jeff threatens, bribes and sweet-talks Hayley to dissuade her; when that doesn’t work, he tries to get her sympathy by telling her he was abused as a child. Following the operation, Hayley leaves the kitchen, claiming to take a shower. Jeff struggles and frees himself. When he reluctantly checks the site of the operation, he realizes he is actually unharmed, and Hayley has elaborately faked his castration. He storms off in a rage to get Hayley in the bathroom, where the shower is running. Scalpel in hand, he attacks, only to find the shower empty. Hayley attacks him from behind, and as they struggle, Hayley incapacitates him with a stun gun.Hayley poses as a police officer and asks Jeff’s ex-girlfriend, Janelle, to come immediately to Jeff’s house. Jeff regains consciousness to find that Hayley has bound his wrists and hoisted him to stand on a chair in his kitchen with a noose around his neck. Hayley makes Jeff an offer: if he commits suicide, she promises to erase the evidence of his crimes, but if he refuses, she promises to expose his secrets. The conversation is interrupted when a neighbor knocks on the front door, selling Girl Scout cookies. Hayley tells the neighbor that she is Jeff’s niece; the neighbor leaves shortly afterwards. When Hayley returns, Jeff breaks free from his bindings and pursues her, eventually finding her on the roof of his house, where she has lured him. Hayley has brought her rope from the kitchen and fashioned it into a noose secured to the chimney. Hayley keeps Jeff at bay with his own gun.Jeff finally confesses that he watched while another man raped and murdered Donna Mauer. Jeff promises Hayley that, if she spares his life, he will tell her the other man’s name so she can exact her revenge. Hayley confesses that she knows his name and says, “Aaron told me you did it before he killed himself.” Janelle arrives, and Hayley once again urges Jeff to hang himself, promising that she will destroy the evidence. Defeated, Jeff lets Hayley slide the noose around his neck, and takes the last fatal step off the roof; after he falls Hayley says “or not”. Hayley then gathers her belongings and escapes through the woods. The film ends as Hayley walks down the road in her red hoodie.This is a film that deals with a tough subject so very well that the viewer gains an understanding into dysfunctional characteristics while being caught up in a suspenseful thriller of a story. This is independent film making at its best.

REVIEW: THE FORGOTTEN (2004)

 

CAST

Julianne Moore (Hannibal)
Dominc West (Punisher War Zone)
Jessica Hecht (Sideways)
Gary Sinise (CSI: NY)
Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage)
Anthony Edwards (Zodiac)
Linus Roache (Batman Begins)
Lee Tergesen (Oz)
Felix Solis (The Following)
Robert Wisdom (Ray)
Ann Dowd (Compliance)

Telly Paretta (Julianne Moore) believes that her son Sam (Christopher Kovaleski) died 14 months ago in a plane crash, but her husband Jim (Anthony Edwards) tells her that she’s delusional and that they have never had a son, and Eliot (Jessica Hecht) doesn’t appear to believe in Sam’s existence despite her closeness to him. Dr. Munce (Gary Sinise) tells her that Sam was merely a figment of her imagination and that she is just imagining a life that might have been. He recommends that she be sent to a hospital, but she runs away and meets with a man named Ash (Dominic West) whom she thinks is the father of a girl named Lauren (Kathryn Faughnan) who was Sam’s friend and died in the same crash. At first he dismisses her, claiming he never had a daughter, and calls the police. After she is taken into custody, he remembers his daughter and rescues Telly. Together they escape and go into hiding, pursued by National Security agents.Telly and Ash capture and threaten an agent (Lee Tergesen), who reluctantly reveals that he and other agents are merely helping ″them″ in order to protect humankind. Without warning, the roof of the house blows off and the agent, along with the roof, is sucked into the sky—presumably taken by ″them″—and Telly and Ash flee. Eventually, Telly visits Dr. Munce again and he reveals that the disappearances are the work of ″them,″ and that the government monitors their trials, all too aware that they have no power to stop ″them″ from doing whatever they want.Munce takes Telly to an airport and the dilapidated hangar of Quest Airlines, where he introduces her to an agent of ″them″ (Linus Roache). He tells the agent that it’s over and to stop the experiment, because it will only cause more harm. But the agent replies that it’s not over. He reveals to Telly that she has been a part of an experiment to test whether the bonds between mother and child can be diminished. In her case, her memories could not be fully erased. Telly refuses to deny her son’s existence. The agent mentions that if he fails to erase her memory then he will look like a failure. The agent then subdues her and convinces her to think of the first memory she had of Sam. Telly thinks of the day he was born in the hospital, which allows the agent to successfully erase Sam’s memory from existence. As the agent is walking away, thinking he’s succeeded, Telly’s motherly bond kicks in deeper, to before Sam was born, when she was pregnant, triggering her memory that she indeed had life in her at one time. All of her memories of Sam return. Before the agent can comprehend what’s happening, part of the hangar roof is suddenly blown off, and he’s yanked into the sky himself, supposedly for his failure to erase her memory. This ends the experiment.Telly finds herself living a normal life, although she remembers everything that has happened. She reunites with Sam at a park. Also at the park is Ash, watching over his daughter. Like Sam, he has no memory of what has happened. Telly reintroduces herself, and the two sit and watch the kids play in the playground.It might throw some viewers off that The Forgotten is just as much a sci-fi film as a thriller. It firmly veers into X-Files territory–much more strongly than you’d ever expect from the first half of the film. This is yet another great example of why it’s better to approach films with zero preconceptions/expectations if possible.

 

 

 

REVIEW: HOLY ROLLERS

CAST

Jesse Eisenberg (Batman V Superman)
Justin Bartha (The Hangover)
Ari Graynor (The Sitter)
Danny A. Abeckaser (The Iceman)
Q-Tip (Cadilac Records)
Jason Fuchs (La La Land)
Mark Ivanir (Johnny English Reborn)
Hallie Eisenberg (Wild Child)
Elizabeth Marvel (House of Cards)
David Vadim (Punisher: War Zone)
Stella Keitel (Bad Lieutenant)

Sam Gold (Jesse Eisenberg), is a mild-mannered 20-year-old Orthodox Jewish man who lives with his large family in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn. Sam works in his father’s fabric store while studying to be a rabbi. He and his family hope to arrange a marriage for him with Zeldy Lazar (Stella Keitel). However, Sam’s family is much poorer than the Lazars, and he worries he will be unable to provide for them.Sam and his best friend Leon (Jason Fuchs) accept a mysterious job offer from Leon’s brother Yosef (Justin Bartha) and his boss, the Israeli Jackie (Danny Abeckaser). Yosef sends them to Amsterdam, with instructions to wait for him. While there, the pair are given a briefcase, which Yosef says contains medicine, and are instructed to walk it through customs in New York. Back in New York, the pair discover the briefcase contains pure ecstasy. Leon wants nothing more to do with Yosef, but Sam is attracted to the easy money.Sam becomes a participant in Jackie’s operation, making trips to Amsterdam to pick up suitcases. He is paid to recruit other young Orthodox Jews as mules, who implicitly trust him as one of their own. Sam meets the liberal Jewish girl Rachel (Ari Graynor), Jackie’s girlfriend, and drinks alcohol and takes ecstasy with the gang. Sam begins to rise in the organization when he brokers a business deal with European drug manufacturer Ephraim (Q-Tip). Meanwhile, Sam leaves the yeshiva. His new job is well-known around his neighborhood, and his parents kick him out of the house. Sam discovers Yosef has been skimming money from Jackie through side deals. Jackie, however, wants to ship street ecstasy, which contains a higher percentage of other drugs, into America. These drugs, carried by unwitting young Orthodox Jews is picked up by drug-sniffing dogs and the mules are arrested.Sam escapes to warn Yosef, who is high. Yosef suggests they drive to California. Sam returns to his childhood home, where he is greeted by Leon, who has married Zeldy. Sam weeps on his front steps as the sirens in the distance grow closer.I liked the documentary-like quality of the camera work; if almost made it seem like I was watching the movie unfold in real-time. The setting and context the story plays out was Holy Rollers’ biggest strength, in my opinion. How much you enjoy it will depend largely on how much interest you still have in these kinds of stories. I still found it to be pretty entertaining, though.

REVIEW: THE MAN WHO SUED GOD

CAST

Billy Connolly (The Hobbit 3)
Judy Davis (Dark Blood)
Colin Friels (The Secret Daughter)
Wendy Hughes (Lonely Hearts)
Bille Brown (Dying Breed)
John Howard (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Emily Browning (Sucker Punch)
Peter Whitford (Moulin Rouge!)

The-Man-Who-Sued-God-DI-03Advocate Steve Myers (Billy Connolly) is a disillusioned lawyer who becomes fed-up with the perceived corruption within the judicial system. He quits the law business and buys a small fishing boat and takes up fishing for a living. His fishing boat is struck by lightning and explodes into pieces, burns and sinks. He informs his insurance company, which reviews and then subsequently declines his claim on the grounds that it is not liable as his fishing boat was destroyed due to an “Act of God”.  Frustrated that his claim is repeatedly declined, Steve files a claim against God, naming church officials as representatives of God and thereby the respondents. The church leaders, their respective lawyers and their insurance company get together to find a way to settle this dilemma, which catches the fancy of the media. It is in Court that God’s representatives will have to admit that the destruction of Steve’s fishing boat was actually God’s Act, accept and compensate him, or deny it altogether thereby denying God’s existence, leaving the onus on Steve to prove his claim.man-who-sued-god-4Myers’s battle brings media attention leading to a meeting with journalist Anna Redmond (Judy Davis) who helps to raise his public profile, enlisting the support of others who had fallen victim to insurance companies’ “Acts of God” clause. He also faces heavy criticism and protests from religious groups as his profile grows, and he backs the church into a disadvantageous position.the-man-who-sued-god-2001-film-rcm1024x512uHowever, the attention takes its toll on Myers’ family, who are exploited by the media, his ex-wife already crippled by debt as the guarantor of the boat. Steve faces a reality check as his family considers moving to Perth, on the other side of the country. Meanwhile, Anna Redmond comes under fire for a history of disputes and attacks on insurance companies, drawing criticism that the case is little more than a publicity stunt. Facing a drawn out legal battle and the impact it would have on those around him, Steve decides he has won a moral victory, and withdraws from the case but not before convincing the judge that insurance companies’ use of the term “Acts of God” is a misleading term.article-2515466-002AF7701000044C-352_634x462The Man Who Sued God manages a difficult feat – being both hilariously funny and deeply thought-provoking. It’s a near-perfect film, and a highly enjoyable one as well.

REVIEW: FAST SOFA

CAST

Jake Busey (Starship Troopers)
Crispin Glover (Alice In Wonderland)
Natasha Lyonne (American Pie)
Adam Goldberg (Deja Vu)
Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight)
Jennifer Tilly (Cult of Chucky)
Bijou Phillips  (Hostel: Part II)
Glenn Shadix (Beetlejuice)

dick1This road picture follows a dope fiend named Rick, who believes his goal in life is to track down Ginger, a famous porn star who is currently staying in her Beverly Hills hideaway. Rick is obsessed with Ginger, watches her movies obsessively, and deals drugs on the side, all to the chagrin of his lover Tamara. He decides to seek out Ginger via the road, and along the way picks up Jules, a neurotic, virginal type.cp5I personally enjoyed this movie a lot. It doesn’t have neither a sophisticated story line nor stupid cheesy elements which are so often encountered in mainstream films. The movie has a nothing-to-lose feel about it, which is very relaxing and enjoyable.