25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: SLEEPY HOLLOW – THE GOLEM

CAST

Tom Mison (venus)
Nicole Beharie (The Good Wife)
Orlando Jones (Bedazzled)
Katia Winter (Arena)

GUEST CAST

John Noble (Lord of The Rings)
Jill Marie Jones (Ash vs Evil Dead)

“The Golem” had some deeply unsettling moments, a running undercurrent of humor, answers to vital questions and some straight-ahead scares.   All these disparate elements mixed together comfortably, as they have since the pilot, and it looks so simple.  But the fact of the matter is that what Sleepy Hollow has been able to pull off in this first season is remarkable, as it has kept its high-degree-of-difficulty tone while never losing sight of the characters that make us come back each week.  As if there were any doubt, it began and ended with the most important relationship on the show, as Abbie and Ichabod worked through his emotions about having a son and shared the anxiety about Moloch coming for them.   The groundwork that the writers and actors have done made these two characters seem naturally close as they get to know one another better with every week.  The wonderful opening scene (and Crane’s explanation of the origins of eggnog) served as a lovely reminder that even as their team might expand it’s all about the two of them.

Of course, in between those bookends we had the marvelous John Noble returning as Henry the Sin Eater.  You would think that Noble showing up to guest star would overwhelm the proceedings and be desperately missed when he’s gone, but instead he fits right in with this show.  Here we found out that Henry isn’t just a one-trick pony, as his talents extend to sensing sin and providing valuable exposition on the miserable childhood of Ichabod and Katrina’s son.  Still, the coolest bit for me was his making the librarian with ease: “Lying is a sin. I can sense a sin a mile away.”

Meanwhile, Frank went back to the city to visit his daughter.  It might be that his story seems drab compared to the wild stuff going on elsewhere, but at the moment his ex-wife and daughter feel more like plot devices than actual characters.  It’s not something I’m all that concerned about, given this show’s brief track record, but tonight they were simply time-fillers to get us to that super creepy vendor in the park.  That last “we have one, too” delivered by the possessed woman might have been the freakiest thing in an episode that also featured a gigantic killer doll. As for the doll itself, they did a great job showing the violence he was capable of, and tying it into Jeremy’s rage made it all the more disturbing.


This was a Sleepy Hollow episode that covered a lot of ground and also managed to be alternately creepy, disturbing, scary and funny.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: SECONDS APART

CAST

Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Edmund Entin (Whore)
Gary Entin (Rest Stop)
Samantha Droke (Truce)
Louis Herthum (Murder, She Wrote)

Jonah (Edmund Entin) and Seth (Gary Entin) are as twins-y as twins can be. They go everywhere together during the day and when night comes, they go to bed wearing matching jammies after having brushed their teeth and hair in unison. Heck, they even sleep facing each other so that their prone bodies mirror each other. They also have plenty of common hobbies. For instance, they enjoy making movies with their tiny handheld camera.. Their films feature people dying in gruesome ways as they operate under mental delusions that have been telepathically implanted by the brothers. The twins’ carefully protected world of two gets a visitor when the new girl at school, Eve (Samantha Droke), takes an interest in Jonah. She thinks he’s kind of weird and interesting and wants to know what makes him tick. Another person after the same thing is Detective Lampkin (Orlando Jones) who is investigating the brothers and their role in an involuntary game of Russian roulette that claimed the lives of four boys. He believes they are hiding something and suspects they may possess some sort of evil twin powers. He doesn’t know the half of it. You see, when the boys hold hands and put their minds to it, they can make people hallucinate and perform irrational and gruesome acts.Director Antonio Negret has created a moody and visually striking psychological thriller that serves double-duty as a dark coming of age tale. It is a film of unusual intelligence that will surely surprise at least a few horror fans out there. Working from a well balanced script by George Richards, Negret shows us how creatures in a sealed environment react to unexpected stressors. Eve and Det. Lampkin are the stressors to Jonah and Seth’s creatures. Creatures may seem like a strong word but Edmund and Gary Entin play the twins as cold and reptilian things roaming the world in pale skin suits. I assure you, I mean that as a compliment. By establishing just how different they are from everyone around them, it becomes all the more critical when Eve is able to penetrate Jonah’s shell. She gives him a taste of what it means to be an individual. Jonah’s every step towards Eve is a step away from his dominating older (by 93 seconds) brother.If Eve is the cause of the first cracks in Jonah and Seth’s bond, then Lampkin is the persistent jackhammer that won’t quit until the brothers have broken down and revealed their secret. Orlando Jones plays the cop with a mixture of humor and weariness. He is the closest thing we have to a hero in the movie and even he seems defeated right from the start. Even though Lampkin’s character is saddled with a tragic backstory, Jones doesn’t allow that to be the defining characteristic of the dogged detective.While Jones and Droke acquit themselves admirably, the stars of the show are definitely the Entin brothers. Among all the assorted horrors of the film, the sneakiest fear is that of betrayal. Watching the symbiotic relationship of two brothers devolve into a grudge match with lethal consequences is utterly believable thanks to the work of Edmund and Gary Entin. They may not get equally expansive character arcs since Jonah shows more growth, but both actors attack their roles with similar passion and gusto. Their work here with Negret ultimately elevates the film to a level of originality that is atypical for the horror genre. That is something they can all be proud of.

REVIEW: PUSHING DAISIES – SEASON 2

CAST

Lee Pace (The Hobbit)
Anna Friel (Limitless)
Chi McBride (Human target)
Ellen Greene (Little Shop of Horrors)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Kristin Chenoweth (Bewitched)
Jim Dale (Carry on Columbus)
Field Cate (Space Buddies)

Anna Friel and Lee Pace in Pushing Daisies (2007)RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Missi Pyle (Mom)
French Stewart (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Autumn Reeser (Sully)
Diana Scarwid (Wonderfalls)
Peter Cambor (Forever My Girl)
Sy Richardson (Colors)
Sammi Hanratty (Shameless)
Rachael Harris (Lucifer)
Lee Arenberg (Waterworld)
Daeg Faerch (Halloween)
Hayley McFarland (Lie To Me)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)
David Arquette (Scream)
Debra Mooney (Everwood)
Dana Davis (Heroes)
Hayes MacArthur (Life As We Know It)
Stephen Root (Barry)
Christine Adams (Black Lightning)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)
Kerri Kenney (Wanderlust)
Ethan Phillips (Star Trek: Voyager)
Josh Randall (Ed)
Patrick Fischler (The Finder)
Beth Grant (Childs Play 2)
Eric Stonestreet (The Loft)
David Koechner (Anchorman)
Mary Kay Place (Youth In Revolt)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Ivana Milicevic (Running Scared)
George Segal (2012)
Willie Garson (Supergirl)
Constance Zimmer (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Robert Picardo (The Orville)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Wendie Malick (The Ranch)
Nora Dunn (2 Broke Girls)
Wilson Cruz (13 Reasons Why)
Joey Slotnick (Nip/Tuck)
Josh Hopkins (Cold Case)

Anna Friel in Pushing Daisies (2007)There’s no mistaking Pushing Daisies for any other show on TV. Every episode features new supporting characters, new locations and new mysteries, but all of them fit into creator Bryan Fuller’s whimsical, playfully sideways universe. The show bundles romance and comedy with tragic undertones, and flavors it with musical numbers, synchronized swimming routines, magic tricks and murder.The show’s second–and sadly abbreviated–season features 13 episodes, each loaded with more ideas than other series turn out in a full season. By the time you finish The Complete Second Season DVD set, you’ll have walked the hexagonal offices of a honey empire, covertly played poker using a Chinese restaurant’s elaborate code, walked through secret passageways in a nunnery and witnessed a traveling aquatics show that actually makes a traveling aquatics show seem appealing.Anna Friel and Lee Pace in Pushing Daisies (2007)Lee Pace stars as The Pie Maker, aka Ned, who has a mysterious ability to bring the dead back to life by touching them. If he touches them again, they die. If he doesn’t return them to their eternal slumber within a minute, a life-form of equal size has to die in their place. In the pilot episode, he brought back the love of his life, his childhood friend Chuck (Anna Friel), damning the consequences. Now she lives with him in hiding near his the restaurant The Pie Hole, but they can never touch each other.Anna Friel, Chi McBride, and Lee Pace in Pushing Daisies (2007)While owning, operating and baking for a pie shop would no doubt be a taxing full-time job, Ned has a secondary source of income that takes up most of the show’s time. He temporarily wakes the dead for Private Investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) to uncover clues to murder mysteries. Of course, the victims–revived from a variety of comically gruesome deaths–never quite provide the information needed to easily solve the case, and Cod, Chuck, Ned and Olive (Kristin Chenoweth), the Pie Hole’s plucky waitress, have to fill in the blanks. The shows are generally based around one mystery, with overarching main threads stretch through the series. The writer’s strike owns much of the blame for the failure of Pushing Daisies, and for the relatively slow start to season two. The show was earning a respectable audience after its debut, but only produced nine episodes before pencils went down. ABC decided not to order any extra episodes after the strike, leaving the show off the air for nearly a year before. By the time it returned, it had lost much of its momentum, and failed to regain its audience, prompting a premature cancellation.Kristin Chenoweth in Pushing Daisies (2007)While the two shortened seasons combine to equal a full season’s worth of episodes, both feel fragmented. It’s apparent that the writers felt the need to reboot a bit and reiterate some points to ensure its audience was up to speed. And while the opening episodes of season two are entertaining, it takes about four episodes for the series to really start charging forward. Episode 5, “Dim Sum Lose Some” begins a fantastic five-episode arc involving Dwight, a sinister man played by Stephen Root with a friendly demeanor that makes his intentions all the more mysterious. Not just a great character in his own right, Dwight triggers an avalanche of story that leaves you longing for the next episode, even after no more are left. An old friend of Chuck and Ned’s fathers, Dwight wants to locate Ned’s, who abandoned The Pie Maker as a child and started a new family.Chi McBride and Debra Mooney in Pushing Daisies (2007)Dwight’s prodding leads Ned to finally meet his twin half-brothers (Alex and Graham Miller), who were also abandoned by Ned’s father. The sixth episode, centering around the twins’ mentor’s magic show, is one of series’ funniest, and features memorable guest appearances by Paul F. Tomkins and Fred Willard. But the twins, along with many other characters, never reach their potential. Due to the show’s premature end, it’s inevitable that all the story threads don’t tie up satisfactorily. Indeed, the final episode essentially ends with a cliffhanger before it awkwardly segues into a quickie ending that was cobbled together in the editing room. It’s a shame too, as the long-term story had become quite promising, especially the intriguing hints about Ned’s father and developments surrounding Chuck’s dead father. Unfortunately, fans of the show will have to be happy with what they have.

 

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.

REVIEW: BIKER BOYZ

CAST

Laurence Fishburne (Man of Steel)
Derek Luke (Self/Less)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Lisa Bonet (Road to Paloma)
Brendan Fehr (Bones)
Larenz Tate (Crash)
Terrence Howard (Iron Man)
Rick Gonzalez (Arrow)
Meagan Good (D.E.B.S.)
Kid Rock (Joe Dirt)
Salli Richardson (I Am Legend)
Vanessa Bell Calloway (Lakeview Terrace)
Kadeem Hardison (Showtime)
Eriq La Salle (A Gifted Man)
Titus Welliver (Argo)

In the world of underground motorcycle drag racing, the undefeated racer known as Smoke (Laurence Fishburne) is the undisputed “King of Cali.” But Smoke’s dominance of the set is about to be threatened by a young motorcycle racing prodigy called Kid (Derek Luke), who is determined to win Smoke’s crown and earn the coveted title. Kid says that the difference between men and boys are the lessons they learn – and that his father, Slick Will, taught him plenty.The film starts with Kid, a novice rider and motorcycle club “prospect,” assisting his father, Slick Will, as they prepare Smoke’s bike for the evening’s drag races. A biker issues a challenge to Smoke, who accepts, and the race begins. In the midst of the race, the other biker suffers a hydraulics malfunction and spins out of control, sending his bike flying from under him into a row of parked bikes, one of which heads right into Slick Will, throwing him through a store window and killing him instantly. At the funeral, dozens of bikers from the “Black Knights” (to whom Slick Will was the mechanic) show up with Smoke, who drops a rose and a signed Black Knights flag into his grave.Six months later, Kid is now a familiar racer with his custom-powered bike, and he shows up at the events. His first “race” was when he interfered with Stuntman’s race with Donny. As he interrupts the race, he pulls off several stunts, notably standing on top of the motorcycle while it is still moving. He wins the race and the crowd seem to like his stunts, much to the dissatisfaction of Smoke. Kid demands to race with Smoke but Smoke says he is too inexperienced and should get experience first.Kid then goes to a diner where he meets Stuntman, and it is revealed that the two were hustling in the previous race. Fellow biker Primo tells them to create a bike club; after a bit of persuasion they agree, and Kid goes to the biker jury consisting of 8 leaders of the most powerful biker gangs, where Smoke is the chairman. He apologizes for his disrespect towards Smoke and they all agree to verify the club, calling themselves the “Biker Boyz.” Kid is set to race Motherland to prove himself to Smoke. However he has showed up late to “make an entrance” after Smoke has already beaten his long-time rival Dogg, who is continually after Smoke’s helmet. Kid is arrested when racing Motherland, and the rest of the bikers manage to escape. Anita confronts Kid, saying that if he ever races again, she will kick him out of the house.One night at a Black Knights dance, Kid is challenged to race Dogg and accepts in a fit of rage. Having overheard, Anita finds Smoke before the race, and demands that he stop the race. Angry, Smoke confronts her and demands a reason, and she tells him that Kid is actually his son, not Slick Will’s. Smoke successfully stops the race by punching out Kid and stealing his keys, but this only leads to a fight between the two, from which Kid comes off considerably worse than Smoke. Smoke then tells him that he is his son, to which Kid angrily goes home and confronts Anita, who confesses that it’s the truth. In a rage, he leaves home and moves in with his girlfriend Tina.Kid decides to turn renegade and after gaining quite a few more followers for his club, announces that “we’re gonna win more lids than any crew on the set and we’re gonna out hustle every crew off the set” and indicates that from that point on, “Biker Boyz set their own rules.” The Biker Boyz get their own hangout and begin hustling several races, but when Stuntman successfully hustles the nephew of a dangerous biker, he and Primo are ambushed at a party. Kid comes to the rescue but is quickly overpowered as the leader of the other club pulls a gun on him; Smoke and some of the other Black Knights intervene and convince the other bikers to stand down. Smoke takes Kid inside and sits down to give him a stern talking-to, but Kid shrugs it off angrily. Aggravated, Smoke finally agrees to race Kid, under the condition that whoever loses will never race again. But first Kid has to race Dogg – this time, at the track.On the race track, everybody shows up, including the Black Knights. At the race, Dogg and Kid race down, and Kid is going to win, but Dogg plays dirty and causes him to crash; although Kid survives, his bike is wrecked. Later that day, Smoke talks to Kid, and informs him that the authorities are going to close the track, due to many crashes, but he managed to rent a local farm outside of town to race on it. Kid agrees to arrive the next day. Later that night, Kid, Primo, and Stuntman are trying unsuccessfully to fix Kid’s bike until Dogg’s crew arrives to confront them, but Dogg’s mechanic admits that the damage is too severe to be fixed in time for the race. Dogg informs Kid; “There are only 2 bikes as strong and fast as Smoke’s: yours, and mine.” As a peace offering, Dogg offers to lend Kid his bike, but only if Kid promises him that he will beat Smoke tomorrow.On the day of the race, both the crew of the Black Knights and the Biker Boyz arrive. Smoke wants it to be a fair race, with no N20 system, and Kid wants Tina to start the race. Smoke and Kid are racing on a farm with open fields. With the finish line in sight, it is obvious that Smoke will win – however, filled with emotions, he decides to slow down and let his son win the race, becoming the new “King of Cali.” Kid tells Smoke to hang onto his crown for a while, and that he’ll come and get it someday. Kid rides off, repeating his sentiment that the difference between men and boys are the lessons they learn, and that his father taught him plenty.It’s not a good movie, but it makes an effort to be one, which counts for something. For all it’s lack of realism, it gets points for not having the absurd stunts that Torque did, like flipping a huge street bike mid air, and riding on top and through the passenger sections of moving trains. Biker Boyz isn’t good by any means, but it’s not quite that bad.

REVIEW: RUNAWAY JURY

CAST

John Cusack (2012)
Gene Hackman (Superman)
Dustin Hoffman (Hook)
Rachel Weisz (The Bourne Legacy)
Jeremy Piven (Mr. Selfridge)
Bruce Davison (X-Men)
Bruce McGill (Timecop)
Marguerite Moreau (Wet Hot American Summer)
Nick Searcy (The Dead Girl)
Leland Orser (Taken)
Lori Heuring (8mm 2)
Joanna Going (Nixon)
Dylan McDermott (Texas Rangers)
Stanley Anderson (Red Dragon)
Celia Weston (Hulk)
Bill Nunn (Money Train)
Cliff Curtis (Blow)
Nora Dunn (Bruce Almighty)
Rusty Schwimmer (The Perfect Storm)
Jennifer Beals (The Prophecy II)
Guy Torry (American History X)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Gary Grubbs (Angel)
Luis Guzmán (Traffic)
Jason Davis (Reprisal)

In New Orleans, a failed day trader at a stock brokerage firm shows up at the office and opens fire on his former colleagues, then kills himself. Among the dead is Jacob Wood. Two years later, with attorney Wendell Rohr, Jacob’s widow Celeste takes Vicksburg Firearms to court on the grounds that the company’s gross negligence led to her husband’s death. During jury selection, jury consultant Rankin Fitch and his team communicate background information on each of the jurors to lead defense attorney Durwood Cable in the courtroom through electronic surveillance. In the jury pool, Nick Easter tries to get himself excused from jury duty. Judge Frederick Harkin decides to give Nick a lesson in civic duty and Fitch tells Cable that the judge has now given them no choice, and that he must select Nick as a juror. Nick’s congenial manner wins him acceptance from his fellow jurors, but Frank Herrera, a Marine veteran, takes an instant dislike to him.A woman named Marlee makes an offer to Fitch and Rohr: she will deliver the verdict to the first bidder. Rohr dismisses the offer, assuming it to be a tactic by Fitch to obtain a mistrial. Fitch asks for proof that she can deliver, though, which Nick provides. Fitch orders Nick’s apartment searched, but finds nothing. Marlee retaliates by getting one of Fitch’s jurors bounced. Nick shows the judge surveillance footage of his apartment being searched, and the judge orders the jury sequestered. Fitch then goes after three jurors with blackmail, leading one, Rikki Coleman, to attempt suicide. Rohr loses a key witness due to harassment, and after confronting Fitch, decides that he cannot win the case. He asks his firm’s partners for $10 million. Fitch sends an operative, Janovich, to kidnap Marlee, but she fights him off and raises Fitch’s price to $15 million. On principle, Rohr changes his mind and refuses to pay. Fitch agrees to pay Marlee to be certain of the verdict.Fitch’s subordinate Doyle travels to Gardner, Indiana, where he discovers that Nick is really Jeff Kerr, a law school drop-out, and that Marlee’s real name is Gabby Brandt. Gabby’s sister died in a school shooting. The town sued the gun manufacturer and Fitch helped the defense win the case. Doyle concludes that Nick and Marlee’s offer is a set-up, and he calls Fitch, but it is too late. Nick receives confirmation of receipt of payment and he steers the jury in favor of the plaintiff, much to the chagrin of Herrera, who launches into a rant against the plaintiff, which undermines his support. The gun manufacturer is found liable, with the jury awarding $110 million in general damages to Celeste Wood. After the trial, Nick and Marlee confront Fitch with a receipt for the $15 million bribe and demand that he retire. They inform him that the $15 million will benefit the shooting victims in Gardner.This was a movie that wasn’t over-hyped, filled with talented actors and kept you watching all the way through.  Hackman was flawless as usual as an actor and once again maintained his great screen presence. Hoffman really portrayed the idealistic lawyer character well. Weisz played the female lead with the right mix of the strong and vulnerable.  The plot twists were not overdone but did offer some slight surprises which were hinted at along the way if you payed attention. Overall I’d recommend this movie to anyone, especially those who take their movies seriously

REVIEW: SAY IT ISN’T SO

CAST

Heather Graham (The Hangover)
Chris Klein (American Pie)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Sally Field (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Richard Jenkins (The Cabin In The Woods)
John Rothman (Ghostbusters)
Jack Plotnick (Nip/Tuck)
Eddie Cibrian (Third watch)
Mark Pellegrino (Chuck)
Henry Cho (Material Girls)
Richard Riehle (Body of Evidence)
Courtney Peldon (That 70s Show)
Lin Shaye (Ouija)
Sarah Silverman (School of Rock)
Zahf Paroo (Defying Gravity)
Suzanne Somers (Serial Mom)
Connor Widdows (Battlestar Galactica)
Greg Kean (Dead Like Me)

The film begins with Gilly Noble (Chris Klein) taking a stray cat named “Ringo” to the animal shelter where he works in Shelbyville, Indiana. Gilly gets his hair cut by a beautiful young aspiring hairdresser named Jo Wingfield (Heather Graham). As Jo cuts Gilly’s hair, she mentions that she recently lost a tail-less cat named Ringo, leading Gilly to tell her that Ringo is at the pound. The excitement causes Jo to accidentally cut off a part of Gilly’s ear, and he is rushed to the hospital where the ear is reattached. To make up for the incident, Jo invites Gilly to her house for lunch the next day, where Gilly meets Jo’s self-centered mother, Valdine (Sally Field), and stroke-suffering father, Walter (Richard Jenkins).Gilly and Jo date for six months before getting engaged, but suddenly a private detective, Vic Vetter (Brent Briscoe), contacts Gilly to tell him that he’s Valdine and Walter’s son. After Gilly and Jo end their incestuous relationship, Gilly moves in with his new family, and Jo moves to Beaver, Oregon to start a new life. After being branded a “sister-fucker”, Gilly loses his job at the animal shelter and is forced to take a job removing roadkill for the highway department.Sixteen months later, a surprise comes to the Wingfield doorstep in the form of a young man named Leon Pitofsky (Jack Plotnick), who claims to be Valdine and Walter’s son and presents his birth certificate as proof. Valdine and Walter feel better for a few moments before angrily lashing out at Gilly and forcing him to leave. Valdine notifies the Beaver police that Gilly is a sex offender. Gilly runs for his life and decides to go to Oregon to inform Jo. On the way to Oregon, he befriends a pilot with two prosthetic legs named Dig (Orlando Jones).Meanwhile, Jo becomes engaged to her ex-boyfriend Jack Mitchelson (Eddie Cibrian), a rich and powerful young man who secretly deals in marijuana, controls over half the town by paying off numerous politicians, and cheats on Jo with his ex-girlfriend, a local cop named Gina (Sarah Silverman). Valdine keeps pushing Jo to marry Jack in order to become involved with Jack’s wealth, although Jo still loves Gilly. Valdine keeps Leon secluded and tells Jo that Leon is a figment of Gilly’s imagination. Gilly tries to hide from the authorities, and Dig frequently aids him in his escape from Jack’s henchmen.Ultimately, Gilly is not able to stop Jo from marrying Jack, who still believes that Gilly is her brother. Police arrive at the marriage scene to inform the family that Gilly died in a car accident, which was actually an act of sabotage by Leon who has been arrested. Jo learns the truth and ends her marriage which causes Valdine to attack Leon and have a stroke. It’s also revealed that Jack was behind Valdine and Walter being misidentified as Gilly’s parents. But unknown to everyone, Gilly was not driving the car at the time of the accident when it was actually one of Jack’s henchmen Steak (Brent Hinkley). Gilly, who has just returned to working at the animal shelter, sees Jo and mistakenly believes that she wants to commit suicide. They are finally reunited on the roof of the same animal shelter that was a catalyst for their coming together.A few months later, Gilly and Jo are married, and Walter, Valdine, Leon, Dig, and many other people attend, with Walter on his feet and Valdine in a wheelchair after her stroke. Also, as a surprise wedding present, Vetter arrives and tells him that he has truly found his mother. In an ironic twist, Gilly’s mother turns out to be Suzanne Somers, who Gilly used to fantasize about while masturbating.Possibly the most bizarre film I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t quite have the spark of a great comedy (like Life of Brian) so you probably won’t be crying with laughter through it, but it is enjoyable and quite cleverly manages tasteless themes and jokes without being tasteless.

 

 

 

REVIEW: EVOLUTION

CAST

David Duchovny (The X-Files)
Julianne Moore (Hannibal)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Seann William Scott (American Pie)
Ted Levine (The Silence Of The Lambs)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Michael Bower (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Ty Burrell (Modern Family)
Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters)
Katharine Towne (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Gregory Itzin (Firefly)
Sarah Silverman (School of Rock)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
John Cho (American Pie)

Wayne Grey (Seann William Scott), a fireman trainee practicing in a shack in the desert near Glen Canyon, Arizona, sees a meteor strike his car and land in an underground cavern. College professor Ira Kane (David Duchovny) and his colleague, geology professor Harry Block (Orlando Jones), investigate, taking a sample of strange blue liquid that oozes from it. Ira discovers that it harbors extraterrestrial single-celled nitrogen-based organisms multiplying exponentially, condensing millions of years of evolution within a matter of hours. The next day, they take the science class to survey the meteor site and find it already surrounded by evolved oxygen-converting fungi and alien flatworms. Ira and Harry discover that the cells and organisms reproduce rapidly through mitosis after seeing one of the flatworms they collected in a jar split into another.
Soon, the site is sealed off by the Army, who set up a base. Ira and Harry take General Russell Woodman (Ted Levine) and the clumsy Dr. Allison Reed (Julianne Moore) to court for the right to be part of the research of their discovery, but their efforts fail when it’s revealed Ira was discharged from the army after creating an anthrax vaccine that led to terribly debilitating side effects, which the soldiers dubbed “The Kane Madness”. Woodman steals Ira and Harry’s research, forcing them to infiltrate the base to get another sample; they find an alien rainforest teeming with life. They are caught by Allison as a mosquito-like alien gets inside Harry’s body; they are forced to rectally remove the mosquito, which then dies.
Wayne arrives at the college and shows the two the dead body of an amphibian alien which killed a country club owner, much to his delight; they later investigate an animal attack, finding a dead dog-like alien in a woman’s home and more dead flatworms. They find a valley behind the home filled with dead flying dinosaur-like aliens; Ira and Harry theorize the aliens are spreading through the caves connected to the main cavern, but can’t breathe oxygen. One of the dying creatures spits out a pod containing a newborn, which then hatches into an oxygen-tolerant alien. The alien attacks a mall, where it nearly takes a shoplifter for a meal before Ira, Harry, and Wayne shoot it down.
Unfortunately, other alien encounters have made the news; this forces the Governor of Arizona (Dan Aykroyd) to demand answers. Allison explains the aliens will engulf the United States in two months. Woodman attempts to blame Ira, when he, Harry and Wayne arrive. However, the governor demands a solution; Woodman suggests evacuating the area and burn the aliens with napalm. At that moment, primate-like aliens attack them, but are fought off. The shaken governor approves Woodman’s plan against protests from Ira and Allison that they don’t know how the aliens will react. Allison quits the CDC and leaves the site, procuring Ira’s original research and samples for him.
At the college, Harry accidentally tosses a match into a petri dish of alien liquid, causing a mass of flesh to rapidly grow from it. Ira realizes heat causes the aliens to evolve, and the meteor crashing to earth activated the alien DNA. Alison attempts to warn Woodman that napalm will only make the aliens stronger, but he ignores her call. Looking at the positions of nitrogen and carbon on the periodic table, Ira theorizes selenium might be poisonous to the aliens, since they are nitrogen-based, as arsenic is poisonous to Earth’s carbon life. Much to Ira’s surprise, his dumbest students Deke and Danny (Ethan Suplee and Michael Ray Bower) recall selenium sulfide is the active ingredient in Head & Shoulders. This makes Ira award the Donald brothers with an A, much to their excitement. So Wayne procures a firetruck and the team fills it with the shampoo, with help from the Donald Brothers, who tag along with them.
Just as the team arrives at the cave and prepare to fire the shampoo, Woodman’s napalm strike causes the aliens to merge into an enormous amoeba-like creature, which reabsorbs the aliens in the cave. As it prepares to divide, the team drives under the organism, finds what looks like its rectal hole, and Harry (intending to settle a score for the insect incident) pumps a firehose of shampoo into the beast, causing it to explode. Governor Lewis declares Ira, Harry, Wayne and Allison heroes, making Wayne a fully credentialed firefighter while Ira and Allison skip the festivities for romance in the fire truck. Later, Harry, Ira and Wayne are shown chasing the flying alien from earlier and promoting Head & Shoulders for both hair care and fighting aliens.This excellent film starts slowly, but once it gets going the jokes are great,the cast fantastic,and the effects superb.Great Fun

REVIEW: THE TIME MACHINE (2002)

The Time Machine (2002)

CAST

Guy Pearce (Prometheus)
Samantha Mumba (Boy Eats Girl)
Mark Addy (A Knights Tale)
Phyllida Law (The Winter Guest)
Sienna Guillory (Love Actually)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow TV)
Jeremy Irons (Batman V Superman)
Alan Young (Beverly Hills Cop III)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)
Michael Chaturantabut (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)

 

In the year 1899, Dr. Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce) is a moderately young inventor teaching at Columbia University in New York City. Unlike his conservative friend David Philby (Mark Addy), Alexander would rather do pure research than work in the world of business. After a mugger kills his fiancée, Emma, he devotes himself to building a time machine that will allow him to travel back in time and save her. When he completes the machine four years later, he travels back to 1899 and prevents her murder, only to see her killed by a horse and buggy.

Alexander goes to 2030 to find out whether Emma’s life can be saved. At the New York Public Library, a holographic librarian called Vox 114 insists that time travel is impossible, so Alexander continues into the future until 2037, when the accidental destruction of the moon by space colonists renders the Earth virtually uninhabitable. When he restarts the time machine to avoid falling debris, he is knocked unconscious and travels to the year 802,701, at which point he regains consciousness and stops the machine.

By now, the human race has reverted to a primitive lifestyle. Some survivors, called “Eloi”, live on the sides of cliffs of what was once Manhattan. Alexander is nursed back to health by a woman named Mara, one of the few Eloi who speak English. One night, Alexander and Mara’s young brother, Kalen, dream of a frightening, jagged-toothed face. The next day, the Eloi are attacked and Mara is dragged underground by ape-like monsters. The creatures are called “Morlocks” and they hunt the Eloi for food. In order to rescue her, Kalen leads Alexander to Vox 114, which is still functioning after 800,000 years. After learning from Vox how to find the Morlocks, Alexander enters their underground lair through an opening that resembles the face in his nightmare. He is almost immediately captured and thrown into an area where Mara sits in a cage. There he meets an intelligent, humanoid Morlock, who explains that Morlocks are the evolutionary descendants of the humans who went underground after the Moon broke apart, while the Eloi are evolved from those who remained on the surface. The humanoid Morlocks are a caste of telepaths who rule the other Morlocks.

The Morlock explains that Alexander cannot alter Emma’s fate because her death is what drove him to build the time machine in the first place: saving her would create a temporal paradox. He then reveals that the Morlocks have brought the time machine underground, and tells Alexander to get into it and return home. Alexander gets into the machine but also pulls the Morlock in with him, carrying them into the future as they fight. The Morlock dies by rapidly aging when Alexander pushes him outside of the machine’s temporal bubble. Alexander then stops millions of years in the future in the year 635,427,810, revealing a harsh, rust-colored sky over a wasteland of Morlock caves. Finally accepting that he cannot save Emma, Alexander travels back to rescue Mara. After freeing her, he starts the time machine and jams its gears, creating a violent distortion in time. Though pursued by the Morlocks, Alexander and Mara escape to the surface as the time distortion explodes, killing the Morlocks and destroying their caves along with the time machine. Alexander begins a new life with Mara and the Eloi in 802,701.

While Alexander shows Mara and Kalen a clearing that was once the location of his laboratory, back in 1899, in the same spot, Philby and Alexander’s housekeeper, Mrs. Watchit, are in the laboratory and sadly discuss his absence. Philby tells Mrs. Watchit he is glad that Alexander has gone to a place where he can find peace, then tells her that he would like to hire her as a housekeeper, which she accepts until Alexander returns. Mrs. Watchit bids Alexander farewell and Philby leaves, looking toward the laboratory affectionately, then throws his bowler hat away in tribute to Alexander’s distaste for conformity.

this is a good film in it’s own right. It goes at a fair pace, has its tensions and added violence that all films must have now. But so much of this film is not part of the original story that it should have had the last vestiges of the H.G. Wells story removed and been made as an original film.

 

REVIEW: BEDAZZLED (2000)

CAST

Brendan Fraser (The Mummy)
Elizabeth Hurley (Austin Powers)
Frances O’Connor (The Conuring 2)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Paul Adelstein (Scandal)
Toby Huss (Jerry Maguire)
Brian Doyle-Murray (Groundhog Day)
Rudolf Martin (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Jeff Doucette (Splash)

The opening sequence takes the form of a computer simulation run by the Devil to analyze souls and determine individual weaknesses to exploit and corrupt. The program finally settles on Elliot Richards (Brendan Fraser), a geeky, over-zealous man working a dead-end technical support job in a San Francisco computer company. He has no friends and his co-workers are always avoiding him. He has a crush on his colleague, Alison Gardner (Frances O’Connor), but lacks the courage to ask her out. After Elliot is again ditched by his co-workers at a bar while trying to talk to Alison, he says to himself that he would give anything for Alison to be with him. The Devil, in the form of a beautiful woman (Elizabeth Hurley), overhears him and offers to give Elliot seven wishes in return for his soul.
As a test, he wishes for a Big Mac and Coke. The Devil takes him to McDonald’s and places the order. Elliot has to pay for it, because, “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” After taking Elliot to her office, based at a nightclub in Oakland, the Devil convinces Elliot to sign her contract, and delivers further wishes. Each wish has Elliot living them out with Alison and his co-workers in surrogate roles. However, he doesn’t know that the Devil will always spoil his wishes by adding something he doesn’t want. Elliot wishes to be rich and powerful, with Alison as his wife. The Devil makes him a Colombian drug lord whose wife despises him and cheats on him with Raoul, his co-worker, who is secretly planning to get rid of Elliot and take his position and property. Soon after there is a firefight between his and Raoul’s people where Elliot “dies”. When he returns to the real world, the Devil points out that he never wished for Alison to love him.
Secondly, Elliot wishes to be emotionally sensitive so he will understand the needs and desires of women. The Devil makes him so sensitive that he spends most of his time crying over how beautiful the world is, and constantly asks Alison, his girlfriend of “three magical weeks,” whether he has hurt her or if she needs anything. Alison says she has had enough of it and wants to be with a man who is strong and shallow. She then leaves Elliot for a man who is strong, rude and completely different from the romantic and emotionally sensitive Elliot. Elliot then wishes to be a superstar athlete who would be a woman magnet. The Devil makes him a cliché-spewing NBA star, but also gives him a small penis and a low IQ, which causes Alison, a sports reporter, to lose interest in him shortly after they meet.
He then wishes to be intelligent, witty and well-endowed. The Devil grants this by making him a famous writer whom Alison falls in love with at a cocktail party. When they arrive at Elliot’s home to make love it is revealed that Elliot is gay and living with a flamboyant male partner. Lastly, Elliot wishes to be President of the United States to try to improve the world and get Alison to take him seriously. The Devil makes him Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre on the night of his assassination which he nearly avoids. After each wish is renounced, Elliot meets with the Devil and she blames him for not being specific enough. Eventually he returns to work, thinking about what he should do with the last two wishes. The Devil then appears on the computer screen, pointing out that he only has one wish left. This is because on their first meeting he asked for a Big Mac and Coke, although she had stated that it was a test wish and granted it before Elliot signed the contract. Elliot loses his patience and storms out of his office.
Elizabeth Hurley and Brendan Fraser in Bedazzled (2000)
Elliot visits a church looking for God’s help, where he briefly confesses to a priest who seems sympathetic. However, after being asked whether he thinks asking the Devil for a Big Mac and Coke counts as a wish, the priest, believing he is drunk, has Elliot arrested. The sergeant books him, and the Devil, dressed as a police officer, throws him in a cell, telling him that she does like him, and it would not hurt to have her as a friend. Elliot’s cellmate (Gabriel Casseus) tells him that he cannot possibly sell his soul as it belongs to God, and although the Devil may try to confuse him, in the end he will realise who he truly is, and what his purpose is. Elliot questions the man as to his identity, but the response is simply “a really good friend”, hinting that he may in fact be God, or at least, an angel.
Elliot asks the Devil to cancel their contract. When the Devil refuses, Elliot states he will not use his final wish. The Devil teleports them to Hell, where she transforms first into a black horned monster, then into a giant. When the Devil pushes him to make a final wish, Elliot wishes that Alison could have a happy life – with or without him. The Devil sighs and Elliot falls into the depths of Hell. Elliot wakes up on a marble staircase, wondering if it is Heaven. The Devil tells him that because a provision in the contract’s fine print, unread by Elliot, states that a selfless wish voids the contract, Elliot keeps his soul. Elliot admits that despite her manipulation of him he has come to like the Devil and regards her as a friend, something she does not object to. She also advises that Heaven and Hell can be found on Earth; it is up to humans to choose. Elliot finally asks Alison out, only to learn that she is already dating another man. He continues with his life, but with a better understanding of who he is.
Satan & Elliott in a schoolroom
Later Elliot is confronted by Bob, one of his co-workers, who starts ridiculing Elliot at the encouragement of his co-workers. Elliot loses his temper and grabs a terrified Bob by the shirt, but lets go, simply saying, “Nice talking to you.” A threatening look sends his other co-workers scurrying away in fear. At home, he meets a new neighbor, Nicole Delarusso (also played by Frances O’Connor), whose looks resemble Alison’s, but whose personality, interests and fashion sense are much closer to his. He offers to help her unpack and they begin a relationship. While the two walk along a boulevard, the Devil and Elliot’s cellmate, both dressed in white, are seen playing chess, looking at Elliot and his new girlfriend, with the Devil taking the opportunity to fix the game but get caught by the guy, who only laughs about that. The scene ends with the Devil’s computer program listing foibles of Nicole’s and Elliot’s, which they both tolerate.
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I was pleasantly surprised. Harold Ramis wrote a new script based on the concept of the original movie, and he did a good job. Elizabeth Hurley plays a gleeful devil and amply fills out every outfit she wears; but Brendan Fraser steals the show. His acting and characterizations were outstanding. Lots of fun.