REVIEW: ANNIHILATION

Starring

Natalie Portman (Thor)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Gina Rodriguez (The Star)
Tessa Thompson (Westworld)
Tuva Novotny (Borg vs McEnroe)
Oscar Isaac (Star wars: The Last Jedi)
Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange)
Sonoya Mizuno (Maniac)
David Gyasi (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil)

Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson in Annihilation (2018)Cellular biology professor and former U.S. Army soldier Lena (Portman) is under interrogation. Previously she was part of an expedition to an anomalous zone known as “the Shimmer”, but she was the only one to return. The Shimmer emerged three years prior from a meteor that landed in a lighthouse in St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (called Blackwater National Park in the film) in Florida, and is gradually expanding and increasing its boundaries.Natalie Portman and Gina Rodriguez in Annihilation (2018)Many exploratory expeditions were organized, but only Lena’s husband Kane (Isaac) returns home after a year of absence. Kane cannot explain where he was and how he came back, and his condition quickly deteriorates. Lena calls an ambulance, but she and Kane are intercepted by security forces and taken to a secret facility. As Kane is put in intensive care, psychologist Dr. Ventress (Leigh) prepares a new scientific expedition into the Shimmer, with Lena joining her. Three other women participate in the expedition: physicist Josie Radek (Thompson), geomorphologist Cassie “Cass” Sheppard (Novotny) and paramedic Anya Thorensen (Rodriguez).Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tuva Novotny, Gina Rodriguez, and Tessa Thompson in Annihilation (2018)The group enters the Shimmer. Communication equipment does not function within the Shimmer’s territory, and the expedition encounters unusually mutated plants and animals: Josie is attacked by an albino alligator with many rows of shark-like teeth. At an abandoned military base, the group finds a video message from Kane’s previous expedition. The video shows Kane using a knife to cut open the abdomen of another soldier to reveal his slithering intestines. The group finds the soldier’s corpse, which has turned into an overgrown colony of lichens. At night, the base is attacked by a mutant bear that drags Cass away, and Lena later finds her mutilated body.Natalie Portman in Annihilation (2018)Within an abandoned village, Josie studies plants that have taken on a human-like form, and theorizes that the Shimmer functions as a prism for DNA, distorting and transforming everything that falls within its boundaries, including the expedition members’ own bodies. Anya, overcome with paranoia after watching her fingerprints change, disarms the other members and ties them to chairs, and accuses Lena of murdering Cass. The bear returns and lures Anya away by emitting a cry for help in Cass’ voice. The bear kills Anya, while Josie manages to free herself and shoots the bear.Natalie Portman in Annihilation (2018)Ventress leaves the group and heads for the lighthouse, the center of the Shimmer. Josie believes Cass’ dying mind was “refracted” into the bear, and allows herself to “refract” into a human-shaped plant to avoid a similar fate. Lena follows Ventress to the lighthouse, where she discovers Kane’s remains and a videotape. In the footage, Kane commits suicide with an incendiary grenade, but after the explosion, a doppelgänger of Kane steps into frame. Within the hole created by the meteor, Lena finds Ventress, who says something is inside her, but she cannot tell what it is or whether it wants anything. Ventress then disintegrates into a shimmering cloud alien that absorbs a drop of blood from Lena’s face and changes into a faceless humanoid being. Lena attacks it and leaves the hole, but the figure teleports outside.Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac in Annihilation (2018)It switches between copying Lena’s movements and attacking her. Just as the humanoid shapeshifts into Lena, Lena tricks it into igniting one of Kane’s leftover grenades. The being sets the lighthouse ablaze as Lena flees, and the Shimmer dissipates. Lena visits the Kane doppelgänger, and asks if he is really Kane; he replies, “I don’t think so.” He asks if she is Lena, and she does not answer. Kane’s doppelgänger and Lena embrace, and their irises shimmer.Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tuva Novotny, Gina Rodriguez, and Tessa Thompson in Annihilation (2018)After watching this film I read the reviews voted “most helpful,” which all were long lists of plot holes and logical inconsistencies. They are absolutely right. I didn’t think about it while watching the film, but when it’s pointed out, yeah, nothing in this movie makes much sense. But I still really liked it. It’s creepy and atmospheric and more concerned with the psychology of people on a suicide mission than on the nuts and bolts of scientific investigation. It’s often intense , usually beautiful, well acted, and had some really weird and mesmerizing moments.  I won’t argue that you should forgive it for its plot holes, or that it has any deep meaning, or anything like that. In fact, it’s probably easier to make a convincing argument against the movie than for it. I’m just saying, I really liked it.

 

REVIEW: QT8: THE FIRST EIGHT

21 Years: Quentin Tarantino (2019)

Featuring

Samuel L. Jackson (Spider-Man: Far From Home)
Tim Roth (Lie To Me)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful eight)
Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds)
Kurt Russell (Big Trouble In Little China)
Christoph Waltz (The Green Hornet)
Jamie Foxx (Django Ucnhained)
Lucy Liu (Kill BIll)
Bruce Dern (hHe Hole)
Robert Forster (Jackie Brown)
Zoë Bell (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
Eli Roth (Death Proof)
Michael Madsen (Sin City)

Harvey Keitel and Tim Roth in Reservoir Dogs (1992)Quentin Tarantino has been praised as the cinematic “voice of his generation.” His influence on other filmmakers is as obvious as those who have influenced him. This is a celebration of Tarantino the filmmaker, and also somewhat of a response to his critics. Tara Wood’s documentary never hides that she’s a fan, and to her credit, she hits head-on the 3 controversies associated with her subject: the use of the “N-word”, Uma Thurman’s stunt car accident while filming KILL BILL, and his friendship and business relationship with the despicable Harvey Weinstein.Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction (1994)Tarantino has publically stated that he will retire from filmmaking after directing his 10th film. Ms. Wood’s film covers his first eight, from RESEVOIR DOGS in 1992 to THE HATEFUL EIGHT in 2015. Because this documentary was tied up and delayed in the Miramax quagmire, there is also a brief mention of Tarantino’s 9th film ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, released this year. The film kicks off with some background information from Producer Stacey Sher, mentions of his writing for TRUE ROMANCE and NATURAL BORN KILLERS, and a fascinating tidbit involving how QT used his pay from appearing as an Elvis impersonator on “The Golden Girls” to initially fund his career in filmmaking.Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)Ms. Wood then divides her film into three chapters, thereby categorizing and providing insight on each. “Chapter 1 – The Revolution” includes RESERVOIR DOGS and PULP FICTION, both ground-breakers in their own way and they announced “an astonishing new voice” in movies. The best behind-the-scenes bit comes courtesy of actor and Tarantino regular Michael Madsen who initially objected to being Mr. Blonde, complaining “I didn’t want to get killed by Tim Roth.” Of course, it was PULP FICTION that elevated Tarantino to a new stratosphere – oh, and it also allowed for the stunning comeback of John Travolta.Uma Thurman in Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)“Chapter 2 – Badass Women and Genre Play” covers JACKIE BROWN, KILL BILL and DEATH PROOF. The first of those films, each which featured very strong women, was an ode to the Blaxploitation era, the second was influenced by Hong Kong cinema, and the third is described by Zoe Bell as Tarantino’s ‘thank you’ to industry stunt people. Perhaps the most important element of this chapter was that, despite the affirmations, he refused to serve up a repeat PULP FICTION … yet another thing that set him apart from other filmmakers.Michael Fassbender and Diane Kruger in Inglourious Basterds (2009)“Chapter 3 – Justice” finishes up the catalog with INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, DJANGO UNCHAINED, and THE HATEFUL EIGHT. ‘Basterds’ is renowned for what may be the most fascinating opening sequence in any movie, ‘Django’ shows his love of westerns (especially Italian), and ‘Hateful 8’ stands as a ‘western RESERVOIR DOGS’. With his many references to earlier cinema, Tarantino shows no hesitancy in spinning or changing history to fit his story. While many disparaged the infamous Hitler scene in ‘Basterds’ (and subsequently the Manson killings in his latest), Tarantino firmly believes that viewers know they are watching a movie, and can easily separate this from real life and historical fact. It’s noted that this is what story telling is all about … asking ‘What if?”Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained (2012)Many of Tarantino’s collaborators offer insight and memories. Those appearing include: Samuel L Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Kurt Russell, Michael Madsen, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Diane Kruger, Lucy Liu, Bruce Dern, Jamie Foxx, the late Robert Forster, Tim Roth, Eli Roth, and Lawrence Bender. Most obvious in their absence are Uma Thurman, Pam Grier, Leonardo DiCaprio, John Travolta, and Tarantino himself. There is also a nice segment included as a tribute to the late Sally Menke, Tarantino’s long-time film editor.Quentin Tarantino has been described as an overzealous geek with the talent to back it up. In reality, he’s a walking and (fast) talking encyclopedia of movie knowledge, trivia and history. He is also described as creating an exuberant infection with cinema, and his frequent scenes of ultra-violence are interpreted by Christoph Waltz as “opera”. It was October 5, 2017 when the Harvey Weinstein story broke, and immediately, since many films connect them, Tarantino was part of the story. It’s a blight on his record, just as it is for countless other actors, celebrities and film industry types who knew and chose to stay silent. But when it comes to making movies, few have ever done it better. There is an on-set clip where Tarantino says “One more take. Why? Because we love making movies!” It’s clear from the interviews here that QT reveres making movies. He also loves watching movies – so much so that he bought and renovated the New Beverly Cinema. He’s a proud film geek. Ms. Wood’s film is pure pleasure for QT fans and will explain a lot for those who aren’t so sure about his work.

 

REVIEW: KILL YOUR DARLINGS

Starring

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
David Cross (Alvin and The Chipmunks)
Dane DeHaan (Life After Beth)
Ben Foster (Hell or High Water)
Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
Jack Huston (Ben-Hur)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House)
John Cullum (The Prodigal)
David Rasche (Ugly Betty)
Kyra Sedgwick (Cop Car)
Zach Appelman (Sleepy Hollow)

Jack Huston and Dane DeHaan in Kill Your Darlings (2013)As a young man in the 1940s, poet Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) wins a place at Columbia University in New York City. He arrives as a very inexperienced freshman, but soon runs into Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), who is very anti-establishment and rowdy. After a while, Ginsberg discovers that Carr only manages to stay at Columbia thanks to a somewhat older man, a professor, David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), who writes all of his term papers for him, and has a predatory relationship with Carr. It appears that Kammerer is still in love with Carr, and is revealed to be pressuring Carr for sexual favors, in exchange for assuring that he cannot be expelled.David Cross and Daniel Radcliffe in Kill Your Darlings (2013)Ginsberg soon meets, through Carr, William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster), already far into drug experimentation. The writer Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston), who was a sailor at that time and expelled from Columbia, also meets and spends time with them. Carr eventually tells Kammerer he is done with him, and recruits Ginsberg (who has a crush on him) to write his term papers instead. After a while, Kerouac and Carr attempt to run off and join the merchant marine together, hoping to go to Paris.Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan in Kill Your Darlings (2013)There is a confrontation between Carr and Kammerer, during which Kammerer is killed by stabbing (and perhaps also by drowning). Carr is arrested, and asks Ginsberg to write his deposition for him. Ginsberg is at first reluctant to help the unstable Carr, but after digging up more crucial evidence on Kammerer and his past relationship, he writes a piece entitled “The Night in Question”. The piece describes a more emotional event, in which Carr kills Kammerer who outright tells him to after being threatened with the knife, devastated by this final rejection. Carr rejects the “fictional” story, and begs a determined Ginsberg not to reveal it to anybody, afraid that it will ruin him in the ensuing trial.Michael C. Hall and Daniel Radcliffe in Kill Your Darlings (2013)We learn from Carr’s mother that Kammerer was the first person to seduce Carr, when he was much younger and lived in Chicago. After the trial we find out that Carr testified that the attack took place only because Kammerer was a sexual predator, and that Carr killed him in self-defense. Carr is not convicted of murder and receives only a short sentence for manslaughter.Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan in Kill Your Darlings (2013)Ginsberg then submits “The Night in Question” as his final term paper. On the basis of that shocking piece of prose, Ginsberg is faced with possible expulsion from Columbia. Either he must be expelled or he must embrace establishment values. He chooses the former, but is forced to leave his typescript behind. A week or two later he receives the typescript in the mail with an encouraging letter from his professor telling him to pursue his writing.Ben Foster, Daniel Radcliffe, and Dane DeHaan in Kill Your Darlings (2013)All in all, Kill Your Darlings marks an impressive debut for Krokidas. Shaken and stirred with a gloriously jazzy soundtrack and a colour palette that shifts from light to murky in a heartbeat, the film practically radiates tension both sexual and intellectual. It might have a little trouble with the facts of the matter, but, taken on its own merits, this is a smart, intoxicating look at how adolescent dreams must necessarily give way to the chilling bite of reality.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE HATEFUL EIGHT

CAST

Samuel L. Jackson (The Legend of Tarzan)
Kurt Russell (Fast & Furious 8)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (Single White Female)
Walton Goggins (Tomb Raider)
Demián Bichir (Che)
Tim Roth (Lie To Me)
Michael Madsen (Species)
Bruce Dern (The Driver)
James Parks (Kill Bill)
Dana Gourrier (Django Unchained)
Zoë Bell (Game of Death)
Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street)
Quentin Tarantino (Planet Terror)

Samuel L. Jackson in The Hateful Eight (2015)Years after the American Civil War, bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren is transporting three dead bounties to the town of Red Rock, Wyoming. He hitches a ride on a stagecoach driven by O.B. Jackson. Aboard is bounty hunter John Ruth, and handcuffed to him is fugitive Daisy Domergue, whom Ruth is escorting to Red Rock to collect her bounty and watch her hang. Ruth and Warren bond over Warren’s personal letter from Abraham Lincoln. Former Lost-Causer militiaman Chris Mannix, who is traveling to Red Rock as the town’s new sheriff, persuades Ruth and Warren to let him on the stagecoach. Warren and Ruth form an alliance to protect each other’s bounties.Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight (2015)The group seeks refuge from a blizzard at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a stagecoach lodge. They are greeted by Bob, a Mexican, who says the owner, Minnie, is away visiting her mother. The other lodgers are Oswaldo Mobray, a hangman; Joe Gage, a quiet cowboy traveling home to visit his mother; and Sanford Smithers, a former Confederate general traveling to put his son to rest. Suspicious, Ruth disarms all but Warren. As the group eats, Mannix surmises that Warren’s Lincoln letter is a forgery. Warren admits this, saying the letter buys him leeway with whites, outraging Ruth. Warren leaves a gun next to Smithers and provokes him into reaching for it by telling Smithers he tortured, raped, and killed Smithers’ son. When Smithers pulls a gun, Warren shoots him as revenge for Smithers’ executions of black soldiers at the Battle of Baton Rouge.Tim Roth in The Hateful Eight (2015)While everyone is distracted by the confrontation, someone poisons the brewing coffee. Ruth and Jackson drink it, killing Jackson and seriously injuring Ruth. The dying Ruth attacks Daisy, but she kills him with his own gun. Warren disarms Daisy, leaving her shackled to Ruth’s corpse, and holds the others at gunpoint. He is joined by Mannix, whom Warren trusts because he nearly drank the poisoned coffee. Warren executes Bob, deducing that he is an impostor who killed the lodge owners, as Minnie hates Mexicans and would never leave one to care for the lodge. When Warren threatens to execute Daisy, Gage admits that he poisoned the coffee. A man hiding in the cellar shoots Warren in the genitals. Mobray draws a concealed gun and shoots Mannix, who returns fire, wounding Mobray.Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, and Kurt Russell in The Hateful Eight (2015)Hours earlier, Bob, Mobray, Gage, and a fourth man, Daisy’s brother Jody, arrive at the lodge. They murder Minnie and five other bystanders, leaving only Smithers. Jody tells Smithers they plan to ambush Ruth to rescue Daisy, and that his gang will spare Smithers if he keeps quiet. The bandits dispose of the bodies, hide the evidence, and conceal guns around the lodge. As Ruth’s stagecoach arrives, Jody hides in the cellar.Samuel L. Jackson and Walton Goggins in The Hateful Eight (2015)In the present, Mannix and Warren, both seriously wounded, hold Daisy, Gage, and the dying Mobray at gunpoint. They force Jody out of the cellar by threatening to kill Daisy. Jody surrenders and Warren executes him. Daisy claims fifteen of her brother’s men are waiting in Red Rock to kill Mannix and ransack the town; if Mannix kills Warren and allows her to escape, the gang will spare him and let him claim the bounties of the deceased except her brother.Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell in The Hateful Eight (2015)As Daisy and Mobray taunt Warren, Warren shoots them both, mortally wounding Mobray. Gage draws a hidden revolver, but is shot dead by Mannix and Warren. Warren then tries to shoot Daisy, but he is out of bullets. Mannix calls Daisy’s bluff and rejects her offer, but faints from blood loss. Daisy hacks off Ruth’s handcuffed arm and frees herself. As she reaches for Gage’s gun, Mannix regains consciousness, shooting her. Warren persuades Mannix to hang her from the rafters inside the lodge in honour of Ruth. Afterward, as the two men lie dying, Mannix reads aloud Warren’s forged Lincoln letter.The Hateful Eight is a masterpiece. The rhythm is good, the film is balanced and it’s violent in almost a funny way. This is definitely a film I will see again.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING

CAST

Bella Thorne (The Babysitter)
Cameron Monaghan (Gotham)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful eight)
Mckenna Grace (I, Tonya)
Thomas Mann (Kong: Skull Island)
Taylor Spreitler (Melissa & Joey)
Jennifer Morrison (How I Met Your Mother)
Kurtwood Smith (Agent Carter)
Cleopatra Coleman (The Last Man on Earth)

A single mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) moves into a new home with her three children, but the miraculous recovery of her previously comatose teenage son (Cameron Monaghan) leads to a series of sinister events that leave the frightened family fighting for their lives. Bella Thorne and Kurtwood Smith co-star.Amityville: The Awakening is notable for a variety of reasons, and many of them have nothing to do with the quality of the film. For starters, it was completed back in 2012 and has been re-scheduled half a dozen time; it was most recently pulled last June mere weeks before it was set to hit theaters. So, for those of us who have been watching and waiting for Amityville: Awakening, following the film along every bump in the road, the fact that it finally came to fruition is kind of a big deal. But while the release is long overdue, it also coincides with an unprecedented Hollywood scandal: The revelations of sexual misconduct by The Weinstein Company co-founder Harvey Weinstein. Since Weinstein was fired by the company he created, Amityville: The Awakening is the first of his productions to be released. Tellingly, the fallen mogul’s name was removed from the film’s opening credits. Whether there is a resulting Weinstein backlash that will hurt the film’s performance remains to be seen, as fans mull turning their backs on anything that might end up putting money in his pocket.Amityville: The Awakening arrived for a limited time on Google Play today; this will be followed by a limited theatrical release beginning on October 28th. The fact that Amityville: The Awakening was pulled from release so many time indicates that the studio had no faith in the film; it feels like it’s only reluctantly being released at all, and giving it away for free on Google Play suggests Dimension Films already considered it a complete loss. But even with tempered expectations, Amityville: The Awakening is genuinely, objectively fantastic. I don’t know if all the fine-tuning paid off, or if the Weinsteins simply misjudged a winner, but the movie is one of the best PG-13 horror movies of the 21st Century. Had it pursued a hard R, it could have rivaled The Conjuring.As for its ranking within the loosely connected Amityville franchise (a rag-tag assemblage of mostly low-quality knock-offs capitalizing on the infamous address’s legacy), it’s easily number 3; right behind 1979’s classic and 1982’s Amityville II: The Possession. While it can’t touch the original, it’s a treat for those fascinated by the happenings at f 112 Ocean Ave. in Long Island. The film opens with historical documents from the actual DeFeo Family murders that occurred in 1974. From there, and combines several past approaches to the cinematic property; while firmly rooted in the haunted house subgenre, there’s also an emphasis on possession motifs. Like the prequel, there’s a brother/sister dynamic and family dysfunction at the core of Amityville: The Awakening—one that provokes the audiences on several levels.Most surprisingly, and impressively, Amityville: The Awakening is a meta-film. Not only does it retain the “based on a true story” status touted by the original, it exists in a universe where all of the Amityville movies actually exist; essential, it’s a work of fiction that takes place in real life. So, imagine being a fan of the franchise and the chilling paranormal history of 112 Ocean Avenue, and then being given an opportunity to roam the property. That’s essentially what you get: A virtual tour of the iconic Amityville house, complete with windows that look like creepy eyes and a sinister red room hidden behind a wall in the basement. Imagine watching 1979’s Amityville Horror in the actually Amityville house! It would be an opportunity horror and supernatural geeks would pay an arm and a leg for. So, it’s will no small amount of vicarious satisfaction that we see a fictional film nerd do just that.Divorced from the Amityville franchise, Amityville: The Awakening is still a powerful haunted house movie, so one needn’t have seen the original (or the 2005 remake) to dig it. Though there are Easter Eggs and nods to the original aplenty, it fits all the motifs associated with angsty teens in peril. There are some incredible jump-scares, and they’re pulled early; this sets the audience on edge from the get-go and the proceeding suspense works perfectly. There are also elements of medical and body horror; Cameron Monaghan plays James, a teen who’s been in a coma for years and, as a result, his body has atrophied into a waxy, twisted abomination (think Zelda from 1989’s Pet Sematary)—complete with bedsores. It’s got one serious gross-out moment, and could have only benefitted from more; I have no doubt that upping the ante and making The Awakening R-Rated would have only strengthened the end result.MV5BMTU4NDY5NzcyMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDA4ODI3MzI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1503,1000_AL_While the audience associates the lead protagonist Belle (played by Bella Thorne), James is the personification of paralyzing fear. The claustrophobia of a haunted house is magnified exponentially when one loses the ability to run, react, or even scream. It’s a portrayal of helplessness that most teens, with their lives ahead of them and feelings of invincibility, would consider Hell. Amityville: The Awakening succeeds by rooting itself in the established franchise mythology, then compounding the inherent horror with extreme family dysfunction.I liked Amityville: The Awakening way more than I expected to, and I had higher than average expectations. In many ways, it’s a movie made for Amityville Horror fans, but you needn’t be familiar with the past films or a true-crime buff to get a lot out of this tense and thrill-ride. The film stars strong and maintains its intensity. While not without flaws, this Amityville fan loved it; I’d recommend it to any fan of supernatural horror for an effective & surprisingly nuanced shocker.

 

REVIEW: SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 3

Starring

Tim Daly (Madam Secretary)
Dana Delany (Desperate Housewives)
David Kaufman (Stargate SG.1)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Sharon Lawrence (The Ranch)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Renée Taylor (The Nanny)
Jack Carter (McCloud)
Brad Garrett (Christopher Robin)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Steve Sandor (The Yellow Rose)
Joseph Bologna (Big Daddy)
Bruce Weitz (Half Past Dead)
Victor Brandt (The Batman)
Mike Farrell (Patch Adams)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Diane Delano (Jeepers Creepers 2)
Andrea Martin (My Big Fat Greek Wedding)
Diane Michelle (Robotech: The Movie)
Clyde Kusatsu (Midway)
Peri Gilpin (Frasier)
William H. Macy (Fargo)
Peter Gallagher (The Gifted)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Mathew Valencia (The New Batman Advntures)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
John Glover (Smallville)
Paul Williams (Smokey and The Bandit)
Henry Silva (Above The Law)
Bob Hastings (The Poseidon Adventure)
Charity James (Space Jam)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Jason Priestley (Tru Calling)
Jason Marsden (Hocus Pocus)
Chad Lowe (Unfaithful)
Melissa Joan Hart (No GOod Nick)
Joely Fisher (The Mask)
Bud Cort (Harold and Maude)
Townsend Coleman (The Tick)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Gilbert Gottfried (Critters: A New Binge)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Carl Lumbly (Supergirl)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 1 & 2)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michael P. Greco (Bleach)
George Dzundza (Crimson Tide)
Peter Mark Richman (Defenders of The Earth)
Melissa Disney (Superman vs The Elite)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations)
Billy West (Futurama)
Stephen Root (Barry)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
David Warner (Tron)
Olivia Hussey (Black Christmas)
Michael Horse (Roswell)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Hot Shots)
Jeff Bennett (Enchanted)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)

3447328-absolute-powerSuperman is everywhere. He’s also been everywhere; for nearly seventy years now the character has been inspiring us with his tales of heroism, adventure, and fantasy. Seventy years is a long time and with a character as popular as Superman it equates to a lot of different interpretations. From the original comic books to a radio series to a handful of television shows, it seems that the Last Son of Krypton has done it all. We are very lucky then to have these DVDs, because in all of that time, throughout all the years, the stories found in Superman: The Animated Series are his best. The fifty-four cartoon episodes (spread across three boxed sets) that make up the complete run of Superman: The Animated Series aren’t just the best take on the character because they’re faithful. Nor is it because they’re animated, for all ages, or very imaginative. It’s for all of these reasons. And several more.3447300-little_big_head_manThe creative team behind the series has plundered the rich mythology of the character and come up with a fantastic take on each and every piece of the Superman universe. For starters, their Clark Kent and Lois Lane interpretation is spot-on. Clark isn’t too much of a goof, nor is he too simple. Similarly, Lois is fiery, funny, and lovely. Seeing the characters come together at the end of Legacy, Part 2 makes for a great cathartic moment. Superman has saved Lois a countless number of times, it is only fitting then that Lois save him when he needs it. The main arc of this season borrows from the comic book universe and brings Darkseid and his homeworld to the forefront. Hinted at earlier in the show, it’s in this third volume that the Lord of Apokolips finally gets his payoff – and his payback. In a trio of two-parters, Apokolips… Now!, Little Girl Lost, and Legacy, Superman fights one of his most ruthless foes in a series of episodes that offer some excellent action, drama, and science fiction fun.maxresdefault (1)While these episodes are very faithful to the mythos, we’ve also got a great selection of original stories that go to prove that with a character like Superman, there is no limit to the stories that you can tell. One of my favorites is Knight Time. When Batman goes missing, Superman pays a visit to Gotham City and tries to find out where his friend has gone. Supes inadvertently ends up masquerading as Batman – dressing up in the Dark Knight’s costume and everything! – and teams up with Robin to solve the mystery of the missing Bruce Wayne. Not only is the episode entertaining, but it’s also got a great sense of humor. Seeing Superman do his best impersonation of Batman is wonderful – Clark doesn’t know which utility pockets contain what, and his attempts at being grim (nodding his head instead of speaking) are great.stas-legacy7Watching these shows you get the feeling that it was during this final stretch of episodes that the show’s producers were finding new ways of playing with the formula that they had designed, and perfected, with both Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series. Not only do these Superman episodes have a lot of two-parters, but we’ve also got some great guest-stars; it seems that this show is the precursor to Justice League. We’ve got heroes, Kyle Rayner from In Brightest Day, and villains, Ra’s Al Ghul in The Demon Reborn, and everyone in between – everyone’s favorite master of the sea, Aquaman in Fish Story. We also get an expansion of the Superman supporting cast when Supergirl makes a welcome appearance in the Little Girl Lost two-parter.Superman_TAS_2x27_001The animation is somewhat more limited when compared to the fancy digital effects that more modern shows exhibit, but the handcrafted style gives the show a wonderful atmosphere. If you pay close attention you’ll notice that a lot of effort has gone into the design of the animation – much more so than most animated series. The framing here is frequently packed. Helping flesh out the world are all of the voice actors; everyone from Tim Daly (as Superman/Clark) to Clancy Brown (as Lex Luthor) is perfect in his or her role. The only thing holding the show back, and this is a small point, is the fact that the stories, due to their child-friendly animated nature, are a little more limited than the best television shows tend to be. Even so, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better adventure series – animated or live action.Superman_meets_SupergirlIn one of the episodes found in this collection, Superman pays his final respects to a recently departed friend. In the graveyard, Superman comes to realize something very important: “In the end, the world didn’t really need a Super man. Just a brave one.” This show gives us a character who is both brave and super. It gives us a real hero. It gives us Superman… as good as he’s ever been.

REVIEW: SINGLE WHITE FEMALE

CAST

Bridget Fonda (Jackie Brown)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (Amityville: The Awakening)
Steven Weber (Izombie)
Peter Friedman (Paycheck)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day)

Allison “Allie” Jones (Bridget Fonda) is a software designer in New York City, engaged to Sam Rawson (Steven Weber). In the middle of the night, Sam’s ex-wife calls, and it is revealed that he slept with her recently. A hurt and angry Allie throws Sam out, breaking off their engagement, and is comforted by neighbor Graham Knox (Peter Friedman), an aspiring actor. The next morning she attends a business lunch with Mitchell Myerson (Stephen Tobolowsky), a fashion house owner who is looking to buy Allie’s revolutionary new program. He manipulates her into significantly reducing the cost, on the basis that his recommendations within the industry will be her future business. As he is her first and only client, she accepts.Allie advertises for a new roommate to share her apartment in the Ansonia. She eventually settles on Hedra Carlson (Jennifer Jason Leigh), whom she nicknames “Hedy”, and they become friends. Hedy tells of how she was supposed to be a twin but her twin was stillborn, leaving her with a constant feeling of loneliness. After a few weeks, however, Hedy becomes overly protective of Allie by erasing Sam’s voice-mail asking Allie for a reconciliation. Later she buys a puppy that she names Buddy to bond with Allie. Hedy soon becomes jealous and upset when Sam is able to win Allie back.Allie and Sam seek a new apartment for themselves. On their way back to Allie and Hedy’s apartment, Allie is horrified to see that Buddy has fallen to his death from the balcony. Angry and upset, she accuses Hedy of leaving the window open resulting in the puppy’s death. However that night while comforting a distraught Hedy, Sam tells her that “if anyone’s to blame, it’s my fault.” Myerson attempts to rape Allie on completion of their deal, insinuating that if she does not submit to him, he will warn off future clients and not pay her. She fights back and escapes.To help Allie feel better, Hedy takes her to the salon for a haircut. When Allie is done, Hedy appears on the stairs dressed exactly like her including her haircut, which unnerves Allie. Later that night, Allie follows Hedy to an underground nightclub and witnesses Hedy passing herself off as Allie. Later while Hedy is taking a shower, Allie finds a shoebox containing letters addressed to Ellen Besch (Hedy’s real name) as well as Sam’s letter and a newspaper clipping on the accidental drowning of Hedy’s twin sister when she was nine. That night while Allie tells Graham the truth about Hedy, they are unaware that Hedy is listening back in their apartment. When Allie leaves, Hedy goes up to the apartment and attacks Graham.When Sam returns the following night, Hedy again impersonates Allie and performs oral sex on him. After the act, Hedy begs Sam to leave Allie alone, but Sam refuses and insists on telling Allie the truth. Furious, Hedy kills him, gouging his eye with her stiletto heel. The next day Hedy tells Allie she is about to leave. Later Allie sees a news report on Sam’s death, realizes what has happened and tries to leave. Hedy takes Allie hostage at gunpoint. She states that everyone will assume Allie killed Sam since both Hedy and Allie resemble each other. In order to “protect” Allie, Hedy convinces her that they must run away. When Hedy leaves, Allie attempts to send a distress message, but Hedy catches her and angrily confronts her.Myerson in the meantime notices his files being erased and rushes off to find Allie. He finds her tied up on the floor and tries to free her, but is attacked and killed by Hedy. Hedy attempts to persuade Allie to commit suicide, but Allie instead smashes the water glass in Hedy’s face. The women struggle for the gun which Hedy points at Allie as she tries to run, begging Allie not to leave her. Allie coldly tells her, “I’m not like your sister, Hedy. Not anymore. I’m like you now.” Graham regains consciousness and tries to assist Allie but the enraged Hedy refuses to give up. Allie drags Hedy off her friend, flees, and is shot in the shoulder by Hedy. A chase ensues from Graham’s apartment to the elevator where Hedy chokes Allie unconscious and drags her towards the furnace. When Hedy finds Allie missing, she grabs a hook from a closet and screams for Allie to come out. Lured into thinking Allie is hiding in another closet, Hedy lashes out at a mirror inside. She is then stabbed in the back by Allie and they struggle briefly before Allie strikes one last blow. She then watches in horror and sadness as Hedy dies.In an epilogue, Allie narrates that she has finally moved on. She forgives Hedy for killing Sam, and keeps trying to forgive herself for Hedy. She states that Hedy’s survivor’s guilt was her downfall. Allie states that she knows what happens to those people. The final shot is a photo of her and Hedy’s faces superimposed as one.This is a brilliant psycological thriller starring a young Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh, basically its a brilliant psycological film and one of Fondas best performances without a doubt!!

REVIEW: THE MACHINIST

 

CAST

Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Rises)
Jennfier Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Aitana Sanchez-Gijon (I’m Not Scared)
John Sharian (Chicken Run)
Michael Ironside (Starship troopers)
Reg E. Cathey (Fantastic Four)

Trevor Reznik is a machinist whose insomnia has led to his becoming emaciated. His appearance and behavior keeps his coworkers away, and they eventually turn against him when he is involved in an accident that causes his coworker, Miller, to lose his left arm. Trevor, who was distracted by an unfamiliar co-worker named Ivan, is blamed for the accident. No one at the factory knows of Ivan and there are no records of him. Trevor seems to find peace only with Stevie, a prostitute with genuine affection for him, and with Marie, a waitress at an airport diner he frequents. He is haunted by brief flashes of recurring imagery, and things such as his car cigarette lighter take on a menacing air. A mysterious series of post-it notes appear on his refrigerator, depicting a game of hangman.

These vague incidents send him further into paranoia, but he nonetheless attempts to establish a relationship with Marie. Meeting her at an amusement park, Trevor goes with her son Nicholas on a fun house ride called “Route 666,” whose flashing lights cause Nicholas to suffer an epileptic seizure. No longer able to think clearly, Trevor suspects that the bizarre events are a concerted effort to drive him insane. These ideas are fed to him in small random clues. One of them is a picture of Ivan fishing with Trevor’s coworker Reynolds, which he discovers in Ivan’s wallet when Ivan leaves it unattended in a pub. Another near-accident at work causes Trevor to lash out in rage at his co-workers; as a result, he is immediately fired. Increasingly distracted and alienated, Trevor forgets to pay his utility bills and his electricity is disconnected. A dark, viscous liquid begins trickling out of the freezer, coating the fridge door with streaks of what appears to be blood.After several attempts to confront Ivan, Trevor tries to trace his license plate. He follows Ivan’s car to read its license plate, but runs out of gas during the pursuit. When a DMV clerk insists that personal information cannot be released unless a crime has been committed, Trevor throws himself in front of a car in order to accuse Ivan of committing a hit and run. He files a police report with Ivan’s plate number on it, only to be baffled when he is told that the car in question is his own; he had reported the vehicle totaled one year ago. He flees from the suspicious policemen and goes to Stevie, who clothes and washes him, but he finds the photo of Ivan and Reynolds framed in her home and accuses her of conspiring against him. Confused, Stevie says the picture is of Reynolds and Trevor, but he refuses to look at it and is thrown out after a verbal conflict. He goes to the airport diner, but is told by an unfamiliar waitress that they’ve never had an employee named Maria. The waitress has served Trevor every day for a year, Trevor saying so little the waitress began to think he was a mute.In the film’s climax, Trevor sees Ivan take Nicholas into Trevor’s apartment and, fearing the worst, sneaks inside. Nicholas is nowhere to be seen and doesn’t respond to Trevor’s calls. He confronts Ivan in the bathroom and kills him after a struggle. He pulls back the shower curtain, only to find the bathtub empty. He goes to the refrigerator and opens it to find rotting fish and other spoiled food tumble out. His mind then flashes back to the fishing photo, which actually shows a healthy Trevor with Reynolds, just as Stevie claimed. Ivan being in the photo was part of Trevor’s delusion. The scene returns to one that occurred during the opening credits, in which he tries to dispose of someone’s corpse – presumably Ivan’s – by rolling it in a rug and casting it into the ocean. When the rug unravels, there is nothing inside. Ivan, alive as ever, appears holding a flashlight and laughs.The scene then cuts to Trevor staring into a mirror at home, repeating the words “I know who you are.” It is revealed that one year ago, Trevor ran over and killed a boy identical to Nicholas after taking his eyes off the road to use the car’s cigarette lighter, which was witnessed by the boy’s mother, identical to Maria. He decided to drive away, and the resulting guilt became the deep-seated cause of his insomnia, emaciation and repressed memory. Ivan was a figment of Trevor’s imagination and a manifestation of himself before the accident. He fills the missing letters of the hangman note to spell “killer.” He briefly considers going to the airport and escaping, but instead drives to police headquarters, signifying his “road to salvation,” a recurring theme in the film. He is accompanied by a silent but encouraging Ivan, who bids him an approving farewell outside the station. At the police station’s front desk, he confesses to the hit and run. Two police officers escort Trevor to a cell, where he states his intention to sleep and does so for the first time in a year.Overall, I would recommend this film, but not to casual movie-goers. This is very much a movie-phile experience for those who appreciate character development and cinematography as much as plot points and a storyline that can be defined and followed from one action to the next. In that way it is closer to films like Magnolia or the Others, where the apex is the characters. If you are looking for a typical popcorn Hollywood thriller, this is not what you are looking for.

REVIEW: ROAD TO PERDITION

CAST

Tom Hanks (The Terminal)
Tyler Hoechin (Supergirl)
Paul Newman (The Hustler)
Jude Law (Spy)
Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens)
Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Liam Aiken (The Frontier)
Dylan Baker (Changing Lanes)
Ciarán Hinds (The Woman In Black)
Anthony LaPaglia (The Custodian)
Harry Groener (Buffy: TVS)

In 1931, during the Great Depression, Michael Sullivan, Sr. is an enforcer for Irish mob boss John Rooney in Rock Island, Illinois. Rooney raised the orphan Sullivan and loves him more than his own biological son, Connor. Rooney sends Connor and Sullivan to meet with disgruntled associate Finn McGovern, but Connor shoots McGovern, resulting in Sullivan gunning down McGovern’s men. Sullivan’s twelve-year-old son Michael, Jr. had hidden in his father’s car and witnesses the event. Despite Sullivan swearing his son to secrecy and Rooney pressuring Connor to apologize for the reckless action, Connor murders Sullivan’s wife Annie and younger son Peter. At the same time, he sends Sullivan to an ambush at a speakeasy. Sullivan realizes it’s a set-up, kills two men at the bar, and escapes. He goes to Chicago with his son to seek Al Capone, for work and to discover the location of Connor, who has gone into hiding.Capone’s underboss Frank Nitti rejects Sullivan’s proposals, before informing Rooney of the meeting. Rooney reluctantly allows Nitti to dispatch assassin Harlen Maguire, who is also a crime scene photographer, to kill Sullivan. Maguire tracks him and his son to a roadside diner, but fails to kill Sullivan; realizing Maguire’s intentions, Sullivan escapes through the bathroom and punctures Maguire’s car tire before fleeing. In reaction to the ordered hit, Sullivan begins robbing banks that hold Capone’s money, hoping to trade it for Connor. Sullivan is impeded when the mob withdraws its money, so he visits Rooney’s accountant Alexander Rance at his hotel. The encounter is a set-up, with Rance stalling Sullivan until Maguire enters with a shotgun. In the ensuing crossfire, Rance is killed, Maguire is injured by flying glass shards, and Sullivan escapes with the ledgers; as Sullivan flees, Maguire shoots him in his left arm.When his father collapses from his wound, Michael Jr. drives his father to a farm, where a childless elderly couple help him recover. Sullivan bonds with his son and discovers from the ledgers that Connor has been embezzling from his father for years, using the names of dead men. As the Sullivans depart, they give the couple much of the stolen money. Sullivan confronts Rooney with the information while they attend Mass. Rooney already knew about the embezzlement and that Connor was likely to die, if not by Sullivan’s hand then by the Chicago Outfit once Rooney dies. He still refuses to give up his son. He encourages Sullivan to leave with his son. Later one night, cloaked by darkness and rain, Sullivan dispatches Rooney’s entire entourage with his Thompson submachine gun and walks directly up to Rooney. As Rooney mutters that he is glad his killer is Sullivan, a reluctant Sullivan pulls the trigger. Seeing no further reason to protect Connor, Nitti reveals his location, after making Sullivan promise to end the feud. Sullivan goes to the hotel where Connor is hiding and kills him.Sullivan drives his son to stay at his Aunt Sara’s beach house in Perdition, a town on the shore of Lake Michigan. However, he is ambushed and shot by a disfigured Maguire. As Maguire prepares to photograph the dying Sullivan, Michael, Jr. appears and points a gun at Maguire but cannot muster the will to fire. Sullivan pulls out his gun and kills Maguire, before dying in his son’s arms. Mourning his father’s death, Michael, Jr. returns to live with the elderly farm couple. Growing up, Michael, Jr. reflects that his father’s only fear was that his son would become like him. Michael states he has never held a gun since the fatal encounter between Maguire and his father. When asked if Sullivan was a good or bad man, he replies “he was my father.”Based on a graphic novel by Max Allan Collins, “Road to Perdition” is a powerful, atmospheric crime thriller that blends “Godfather”-style mayhem with philosophical meditations on the nature of good and evil, and the relationship between sons and their fathers.