REVIEW: A KILLING AFFAIR

CAST

Peter Weller (Odyssey 5)
Kathy Baker (Edward Scissorhands)
John Glover (Smallville)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)

MBDKIAF EC003WWII era West Virginia. In a rural area, there’s a thoroughly despicable character named Pink Gresham (top character actor Bill Smitrovich), a mill foreman who not only screws over his employees, but cheats on his wife Maggie (Kathy Baker) to boot. Shortly into the story, Maggie finds Pink dead, and is then visited by a stranger, Baston Morris (Peter Weller). Maggie finds herself drawn to Baston, even after he informs her that he’s murdered her husband. The balance of “A Killing Affair” shows how their relationship develops, as she struggles between possible feelings for him and an understandable amount of distrust for the man. Is Baston really on the level with her? He hides out on her homestead while the law searches for him.1184327_full

This marked the directing debut for screenwriter David Saperstein (“Cocoon”), who adapted the novel “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday” by Robert Houston. This viewer didn’t mind so much the fact that it is a pretty sordid story (with some interesting revelations along the way), but overall it lacks any truly intriguing features). It’s got some decent period atmosphere, some mild titillationa draggy pace, and no on screen violence, but what it does have is a sympathetic, appealing performance by Ms. Baker. Weller is passable as the earnest, somewhat enigmatic Morris. Smitrovich is perfectly vile in his brief time on screen. And John Glover is solid, if not utilized to his full potential, as Maggies’ brother who is also the local priest. The film does also have a lovely score by ever reliable John Barry.

 

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REVIEW: TOP OF THE WORLD

 

CAST

Peter Weller (Robocop)
Dennis Hopper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2)
Tia Carrere (Wayne’s World)
David Alan Grier (Jumanji)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat)
Peter Coyote (Sphere)
Martin Kove (The Karate Kid)
Ed Lauter (The Artist)

top-of-the-world_01In Las Vegas for a quicky divorce, a just-paroled ex-cop and his wife wander into the Top of the World Casino, run by the shady Charles Atlas. They win big, right as the casino is being robbed. The police believe their big win was a staged diversion, and the two of them become suspects. Over the course of the evening and next morning, the two attempt to escape to surrounded casino, and to prove their innocence, as well as to save their marriage.3a06eb652967c723cced5d8f718Not a terrible movie, but it’s kind of lacking. I would only recommend you watch it if nothing else better is playing on TV.

REVIEW: THE SIN EATER (aka THE ORDER)

CAST

Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Shannyn Sossamon (Sleepy Hollow)
Benno Furmann (In Darkness)
Mark Addy (Game of Thrones)
Peter Weller (Star Trek Into Darkness)

The film’s premise is that there is another way to heaven than adherence to the practices of the Roman Catholic Church. A secular Sin Eater can remove all taint of sin, no matter how foul, from the soul just before death. The purified soul can then ascend into heaven. The Roman Catholic Church, according to the film, considers this heresy.Heath Ledger plays an unhappy and disillusioned priest, Alex Bernier, a member of a fictitious religious order The Carolingians which specializes in fighting demons and other hell spawn. Father Dominic, the head of the Carolingians, has died in Rome under suspicious circumstances and Alex leaves the United States to investigate. In Rome, Alex visits the morgue and sees strange markings on Dominic’s corpse. After some investigation, he comes across a book that explains the markings as being the sign of a Sin Eater’s work. He heads to the Vatican, where an official tells him that Sin Eaters don’t exist and that Dominic may not be buried on sacred ground because he had been excommunicated for his beliefs. Alex, moving ever farther from his vocation, defies his superiors and secretly reads a holy service over the body and buries Dominic in the Carolingian cemetery (the service takes place off screen but is referred to later).Thomas Garrett, another Carolingian (there seem to have only been a total of three including Dominic), arrives in Rome to help investigate Dominic’s death. Early in the film we meet Mara Williams, an artist Alex once exorcised, who has escaped from a mental hospital and come to Alex at his church in the USA because she has a feeling that something terrible is going to happen to him. The police come looking for her, but Alex lies and denies that he’s seen her and through this exchange we learn that Mara was in the hospital because she had tried to kill Alex during the exorcism. Mara goes to Rome with Alex after promising that she won’t try to kill him again.Cardinal Driscoll (Peter Weller), who is introduced at the beginning of the film and who is tipped to be the next Pope, arrives in Rome from the USA and gives Alex a special dagger. According to a fragment of parchment Alex and Thomas find among Dominic’s books, the dagger is to be plunged into the Sin Eater while reciting a text in Aramaic. Alex and Thomas take these instructions to mean that the dagger and incantation will kill the Sin Eater and they begin hunting for the Sin Eater and the remainder of the parchment instructions. Thomas leads Alex to a nightclub where they are taken to the underground base of operations of a masked man called Chirac, the ‘Black Pope.’ The Black Pope owes a favor to Thomas and Alex asks where to find the Sin Eater. The Black Pope then hangs three people and tells Alex to ask his question of the dying men who can see what the living cannot. One of the dying tells Alex a riddle that leads to a rendezvous with the Sin Eater.On the way out of the Black Pope’s headquarters, demons attack and injure Thomas, but Alex saves him and gets him to a hospital. Alex leaves Thomas in the hospital and meets the Sin Eater, William Eden, at St. Peter’s Cathedral who explains that he has been a Sin Eater for centuries, taking over for an earlier Sin Eater (a Carolingian priest) who ate the sins of Eden’s brother. Eden is very charismatic and talks with Alex about the priest’s desires, and Alex admits he wants Mara. He then goes and presumably tells Mara this, and they make love. Afterward, Alex leaves Mara asleep and goes to Eden, who tells Alex that he is tired and ready to die and asks Alex to take his place. Alex has the dagger with him, but is curious and so doesn’t use it to kill Eden. Instead, he assists Eden with a sin eating ritual. But in the end, Alex refuses Eden’s offer because he has decided to leave the priesthood to be with Mara.Later Alex returns to their lodgings and finds Mara near death, an apparent suicide. In actuality, Eden slit her wrists and left her for Alex to find. Mara is beyond medical help and Alex quickly performs the sin eating ritual so that she can go to heaven. After absorbing Mara’s sins, though, Alex sees that there is no sin of suicide on Mara’s conscience and realizes Eden’s deception. Alex goes after Eden to kill him. The rationale that leads Alex to perform the sin eating ritual instead of giving Mara Roman Catholic Last Rites is that Alex has already made the decision to leave the priesthood to be with Mara and he has broken his vows of obedience and of sexual abstinence. He therefore considers himself ineligible to offer Mara Last Rites.Meanwhile, the injured Thomas is out of the hospital and goes to see the Black Pope who reveals himself to be Cardinal Driscoll. Driscoll shows Thomas the second half of the parchment which instead of being instructions on how to kill a Sin Eater is actually instructions on how to become a Sin Eater. The entirety of Alex’s and Mara’s lives have been a plot among Dominic, Eden and Driscoll to entrap Alex. Eden wants to die, Driscoll wants to be Pope and Dominic wanted the financial resources to pursue arcane knowledge. Driscoll prevents Thomas from leaving to warn Alex.  Alex cannot find Eden and returns to the Black Pope to learn where Eden is. The Black Pope (face hidden) tells Alex again to ask the dying. Alex recognizes that Thomas is the man being hanged, and frees him using a pistol. However, Thomas’s throat is too injured by the noose to tell Alex the truth of the parchment. Alex finds Eden and stabs him with the dagger while reciting the incantation. He quickly realizes what is actually happening but it is too late, Eden’s powers are transferred to Alex, and Eden, happy to be free of his burden of the sins of others, dies. In the mean time, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome crumbles around them.Thomas, who arrives at the scene too late to prevent the transfer, vows he will find a way to save Alex, even if it means killing him. Alex informs the church about Driscoll’s activities and Driscoll is ruined. Driscoll then decides to kill himself and calls on the Sin Eater, now Alex, to remove his sins. Driscoll slits his wrists and when he is near death, Alex tells him that he knows that Eden and Driscoll caused Mara’s death. Alex does not eat Driscoll’s sins but forces them down Driscoll’s throat. Driscoll dies a painful death and presumably goes straight to hell. The Sin Eater William Eden used his power to accumulate wealth. The Sin Eater Alex Bernier decides to act as a power for good, saving only those who deserve it and allowing evildoers to die in sin.This film creates a sense of doom and inevitability that constantly grows with its progression. That is what drew me to keep watching. I am not generally a fan of Religious horror. I shall gladly make an exception for The Sin Eater.

REVIEW: SHADOW HOURS

CAST

Balthazar Getty (Alias)
Peter Weller (Robocop)
Rebeca Gayheart (Dead Like Me)
Peter Greene (The Mask)
Frederic Forrest (Apocalypse Now)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: DS9)

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The devil feeds from your weaknesses and enstills good in temptation. “Shadow Hours” definitely understands this, and shows an interesting Lucifer who dwells in the seedy underworld of Los Angelos.  To say the least, I wasn’t blown away by the story’s originality, but director Isaac H. Eaton has some brilliant style tricks to keep it fun and intriguing. He is an adroit director working with a mediocre script, and the results are surprisingly good.

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Balthazaar Ghetty plays Michael Halloway, a recovering alcoholic who tries to support himself as well as his wife Chloe by working at a seedy gas station on graveyard shift. In this environment, he’s bound to see some interesting things. It seems everyone who comes through has exhausted themselves with something…most likely some sort of sin. They are all running on empty as they scurry through the night. There are wonderful sequences where gas meters rise as different things happen, communicating this theme perfectly.  Anyway, he runs into a mugger and a homeless man (who symbolizes his bottom of the barrel outlook), but most importantly, a writer named Stuart Chappell (played by Peter Weller, in easily one of his best performances). Chappell has a strange fixation on Michael, and he takes care of him, clothing him with nice suits, and giving him tons of money to gamble. From the start, it is obvious this guy’s a little shady, however. He neglects the fact that Michael is recovering on AA and influences him to start drinking again. Soon, he plunges Michael into a truly harrowing underworld of fight clubs, gambling, drugs and sex.

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In one of the most disturbing scenes of recent memory, they go to a bondage club where people get sadomasochistic pleasure from torture. At first, I was angry that Eaton would use this smut to manipulate his audience into feeling shocked (like how Todd Solondz did in his terrible film “Happiness”). Then I realized, Chappell, a satan figure, is indeed masochistic in that he feeds off his victim’s pain. Little did Michael know as he looked at these twisted acts, that he was being used as a partner to Chappell’s atrocity.  When Michael becomes closer with Chappell, he realizes how much of a lie this man really is. But the perks of being with him are too great, and soon Michael goes too deep into the dark side, hurting Chloe and damaging the new life he forged after leaving AA. I didn’t like how the film ends. It takes an easy (and largely taken) way out, keeping itself on a level of simplicity. I believe Eaton is a genius director, but he sells himself short in “Shadow Hours”.

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I did like a lot of things in this film. I loved the performances by Getty (who also produced), and more so Peter Weller. He plays Stuart as attractive, fun and seemingly caring, but always dark somewhere deep. I liked how the story was paced and told, but it is lacking in overall freshness.

REVIEW: NAKED LUNCH


CAST

Peter Weller (Robocop)
Judy Davis (Barton Fink)
Ian Holm (Alien)
Julian Sands (Gotham)
Roy Scheider (Jaws)
Monique Mercure (The Red Violin)
Nicholas Campbell (Goon)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Julian Richings (Cube)

William Lee is an exterminator who finds that his wife Joan is stealing his insecticide (pyrethrum) to use as a drug to get high. When Lee is arrested by the police, he begins hallucinating because of “bug powder” exposure. He believes he is a secret agent with two handlers in the forms of a talking insectoid typewriter and an alien “Mugwump”. The bug assigns him the mission of killing Joan. She is allegedly an agent of an organization called Interzone Incorporated. Lee dismisses the bug and its instructions and kills it. He returns home to find Joan having sex with Hank, one of his writer friends. Shortly afterwards, he accidentally kills her while attempting to shoot a drinking glass off her head in imitation of William Tell.

Having inadvertently accomplished his mission, Lee flees to Interzone, a city somewhere in North Africa. He spends his time writing reports for his imaginary handler, and it is these documents which, at the insistence of his literary colleagues who later visit him, eventually become the titular book. Whilst Lee is under the influence of assorted mind-altering substances, his replacement typewriter, a Clark Nova, becomes a talking insect which tells him to find Dr. Benway by seducing Joan Frost, who curiously is a doppelgänger of his dead wife. After coming to the conclusion that Dr. Benway is, in fact, the secret mastermind of a narcotics operation for a drug called “black meat” which is supposedly derived from the guts of giant centipedes, Lee completes his report and flees Interzone to Annexia with Joan Frost.
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Stopped by the Annexian border patrol and instructed to prove that he is a writer as he claims, Lee produces a pen. As this is insufficient proof for passage he inexplicably offers a demonstration of his William Tell routine using a glass atop Joan Frost’s head. He again misses badly and thus re-enacts the earlier killing of his wife. The border guard cheerfully bids him welcome to Annexia. Lee is shown shedding a tear at this bittersweet accomplishment.f4qwmbxvfqvgrrqywxadrnq4aq1If you like Burroughs, see this film. If you like Croneberg, see this film. If you want a simple, pleasant film…stay far away. :Naked Lunch” is a pornographically perverted look at the complexities of drug abuse and the difficulties of the writing process. I don’t use the word pornographically lightly. This is as extreme a movie as I’ve ever seen, especially coming from the Hollywood system. It’s icky, it’s gross, it’s disturbing. It’s also a masterpiece.btx65fh8psl51jangdgyh1uz4j

REVIEW: DARK PRINCE: THE LEGEND OF DRACULA

 

 

CAST

Rudolf Martin (Bedazzled)
Peter Weller (Robocop)
Roger Daltrey (Highlander: The Series)
Jane March (Clash of The Titans)
Christopher Brand  (The Holding)

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Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula tells the story of Vlad Dracula, the historical figure who gave Bram Stoker’s Dracula his name. Vlad is a dispossessed noble, and a patriot who fights the occupation forces of the Turks hoping to avenge the murder of his father by Romanian nobles and the capture of his brother by the Ottoman sultan. The King of Hungary (Roger Daltrey) becomes Vlad’s ally and, with his support, Vlad and his men attack the occupying Turks and turncoat Romanian boyars, and seizes the throne of Wallachia, in the movie called simply (and anachronistically) “Romania”.4430586_l2His bride Lidia (Jane March) discovers what Vlad does to the bodies of his enemies and is horrified. She begins to lose her grip on sanity, claiming to hear the voices of the dead. He reluctantly banishes her to a convent, which he later regrets and amends. Lidia, however, remains the same and ultimately commits suicide, leaving Vlad dispirited and alone with their adolescent son. Vlad’s brother Radu arrives at the head of a large Turkish invasion force.a59be7132ed3c561bc2bf892ec7

The narrative of the film is presented as evidence given at a hearing following Vlad’s alignment with the Roman Catholic King of Hungary. At the end of the film, Vlad is excommunicated by the Orthodox Church shortly before being assassinated by Radu and having a vision of Lidia calling his name. As a result of his condemnation by the priests, Vlad is found to have risen from the grave and gained eternal life, free to roam the earth (as he has been denied entrance to both Heaven and Hell), implying that he has now become the very vampire for which his name is famous.hqdefault

The producers have handled the subject extremely well, considering how much gore they could have spilled, and it turns out to be an intense, dramatic movie. It investigates the characters and suggests how they were warped by the times and politics, and also touches on the metaphysical implications of such viciousness.

 

REVIEW: STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS

CAST

Chris Pine (Into The Woods)
Zachary Quinto (Heroes)
Zoe Saldana (Avatar)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Simon Pegg (Paul)
John Cho (Total Recall)
Anton Yelchin (Alpha Dog)
Bruce Greenwood (Thirteen Days)
Leonard Nimoy (Transformers: The Movie)
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Hobbit)
Alice Eve (Men In Black 3)
Peter Weller (Robocop)
Noel Clarke (4.3.2.1)
Nazneen Contractor (Heroes Reborn)
Amanda Foreman (Alias)
Aisha Hinds (Cult)
Bill Hader (Superbad)
Heather Langenkap (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Sean Blakemore (Bones)
Nick E. Tarabay (Spartacus)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow)

In the year 2259, Captain James T. Kirk is removed from command of the starship USS Enterprise for violating the Prime Directive: he exposed the ship to the primitive inhabitants of the planet Nibiru in order to save them, and Spock, from a cataclysmic volcanic eruption. Admiral Christopher Pike is reinstated as commanding officer with Kirk demoted to the rank of Commander and first officer. Commander Spock is transferred to another ship. Shortly after, the Section 31 installation in London is bombed, perpetrated by the renegade Starfleet operative John Harrison (Cumberbatch). Harrison then attacks Starfleet Headquarters in a jumpship during the emergency meeting about the situation, killing Pike and other senior officers. Kirk disables the jumpship, but Harrison escapes by transporting to Kronos, the homeworld of the hostile Klingons.

Admiral Alexander Marcus (Peter Weller) reinstates Kirk and Spock to the Enterprise with orders to kill Harrison. Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott strongly objects to allowing untested torpedoes on board the ship, and when ordered to allow them resigns his commission in protest. Kirk assigns Pavel Chekov to replace Scotty. En route to Kronos, the Enterprise’s warp capabilities mysteriously become disabled. Kirk leads a team with Spock and Uhura onto the planet, where they are ambushed by Klingon patrols. Harrison dispatches the Klingons, then surrenders after learning the number of torpedoes aboard the Enterprise.

Dr. Leonard McCoy and Marcus’s daughter, Dr. Carol Marcus (Alice Eve), open a torpedo at Harrison’s behest. Inside is a man in cryogenic stasis. Every torpedo aboard Enterprise contains a human in stasis. Harrison reveals his true identity as Khan Noonien Singh, a genetically engineered superhuman awakened by Admiral Marcus from centuries of suspended animation to develop advanced weapons of war against the Klingon Empire. Khan reveals that Marcus had sabotaged the Enterprise’s warp drive, intending for the Klingons to destroy the ship after it fired on Kronos, creating an act of war by the Klingon Empire. Khan also gives Kirk a set of coordinates. Kirk contacts Scotty on Earth and asks him to investigate. Scotty discovers they lead to a covert Starfleet facility near Jupiter.

The Enterprise is intercepted by a much larger Federation warship, the USS Vengeance, commanded by Admiral Marcus. Marcus demands that Kirk deliver Khan, but the Enterprise, with a hastily repaired warp drive, flees to Earth to expose Marcus. After the Vengeance intercepts and disables the Enterprise near the Moon, Kirk reveals Carol’s presence aboard the ship. Marcus forcibly transports Carol to the Vengeance before ordering the Enterprise’s destruction, Kirk offers Khan and himself for the lives of his crew, but Marcus rejects Kirk’s offer and orders Vengeance to fire when ready. However, Vengeance suddenly loses power, sabotaged by Scotty, who infiltrated the ship. With transporters down, Kirk and Khan, with the latter’s knowledge of the warship’s design, space-jump to the Vengeance. Spock contacts his older self, who warns that Khan is ruthless and untrustworthy, and, in another reality, Khan was only defeated at a terrible cost. Meanwhile, after capturing the bridge, Khan overpowers Kirk, Scott, and Carol, kills Marcus, and seizes control of the Vengeance.

Khan demands that Spock return his crew sealed in the cryogenic tubes in exchange for the Enterprise officers. Spock complies but surreptitiously removes Khan’s frozen crew and arms the warheads. Khan beams Kirk, Scott, and Carol back aboard the Enterprise, but betrays their agreement by critically damaging the Enterprise; however, the Vengeance is disabled when the torpedoes detonate. With both starships caught in Earth’s gravity, they plummet toward the surface. Kirk enters the radioactive reactor chamber to realign the warp core, saving the ship, but losing his life in the process.

Khan crashes the dying Vengeance into downtown San Francisco in an attempt to destroy Starfleet headquarters, destroying some of the city. Khan escapes the wreckage as Spock transports down in pursuit. McCoy discovers that Khan’s blood has regenerative properties that may save Kirk. With Uhura’s help, Spock chases down and eventually subdues Khan, who is consequently arrested and re-frozen, and Kirk is revived.

Nearly one year later, Kirk speaks at the Enterprise’s re-dedication ceremony. Khan is sealed in his cryogenic pod and stored with his compatriots. The Enterprise crew embarks on a five-year exploratory mission.I didn’t overly mind that the film is based on Khan, but I can understand how some people would have an issue with it. The first film so cleverly re-wrote the shows history and gave Abrams the opportunity to do whatever he wanted story wise so it was a little bit surprising to see he had embarked on somewhat of a `re-make.’ But all in all a very good film. Great action sequences and great CGI – even if you’re not a Trekkie this is still an enjoyable film.