REVIEW: THE ASSASSINATION (AKA Assassination of a High School President)

CAST

Bruce Willis (Sin City)
Mischa Barton (The Sixth Sense)
Reece Thompson (Dreamcatcher)
Michael Rapaport (Hitch)
Kathryn Morris (Cold Case)
Luke Grimes (American Sniper)
Robin Lord Taylor (Gotham)
Zoe Kravitz (Divergent)
Zach Roerig (The Vampire Diaries)

Bobby Funke (Reece Thompson) is a less than popular high school sophomore with a dream to get into Northwestern University’s summer journalism program. Although Bobby claims he’s a great writer, he’s never finished an article for St. Donovan’s School Newspaper. The editor-in-chief Clara, (Melonie Diaz), assigns Bobby to do an article on Paul Moore, the student body president. Bobby attempts to get an interview, but is unable to get a story out of Paul and is bullied by Paul’s friends. Paul is the star of the basketball team and on a game night, Paul takes a fall and injures his knee. The next morning Principal Kirkpatrick (Bruce Willis) discovers the SATs have been stolen from a safe in his office. Kirkpatrick rounds up his “usual suspects” of high school misfits along with Bobby to question them. The group is innocent but Kirkpatrick warns them all to watch their step.When senior Francesca Facchini (Mischa Barton) solicits Bobby’s help tracking down the set of stolen SATs, Funke uncovers a story. He sets on a large scale investigation and links Paul Moore to the crime. He writes an article pointing the finger at Paul. Kirkpatrick forces Paul to open his locker and the SATs fall out. As a result of his sleuthing, Funke becomes one of the most popular kids at St. Donovan’s. Clara decides to submit Funke’s article to Northwestern which earns Bobby a scholarship to the summer program. Funke wins the respect of everyone from Principal Kirkpatrick to the kid that farts on him in Spanish class and Francesca takes Funke to homecoming. As Funke’s popularity grows so do his suspicions. Paul confronts Bobby, proclaiming his innocence, stating that he got into Cornell but decided to take the test again to see if he could get a better score. Funke begins to wonder if the president really stole the SATs or if he’s just a pawn in a conspiracy.Funke investigates even deeper into the lives of Paul’s shady friends, all members of the Student Council. He discovers their involvement with drug dealing. The Student Council had actually stolen the SATs along with other tests throughout the year, modifying the marks of the best students to make them doubt their test-taking abilities and turn to the Student Council for speed-like “study drugs”. Funke says that while Paul wasn’t a part of the scam, group ringleader Marlon Piazza (Luke Grimes) has Paul framed to avoid being caught. Funke also finds out that Francesca led him along the entire time to keep him from finding out the truth. Francesca and Marlon, step-siblings, are revealed as lovers.Funke confronts the group in the principal’s office. Marlon threatens to have Funke thrown out the window and frame it as a suicide, but his threat and confession are heard on the school’s intercom system. When Funke entered the room, he secretly turned on the microphone; Funke’s friends save him from being thrown out the window and Kirkpatrick rushes into the office, followed by the student body and Francesca. Francesca attempts to gain Funke’s trust again, only to be shut down and left to deal with Kirkpatrick’s punishment.The script is tight and interesting, if very slightly predictable (anyone with even a cursory knowledge of film noir could guess the direction that Micha Barton’s character was going to take in the end), but the actors did a great job with their material, and the director kept the visuals interesting without going over the top on sex appeal or exaggerating the lifestyles of high school students; nobody drives a Porsche, nobody lives in a mansion, none of the girls are perfect barbie dolls, etc. The director deserves credit for staying away from these tropes and the characters benefit greatly for it. Overall, a very good movie, and very much worth watching.

 

 

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REVIEW: COLD COMES THE NIGHT

CAST

Bryan Cranston (Power Rangers)
Alice Eve (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Logan Marshall-Green (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Ursula Parker (Louie)
Leo Fitzpatrick (Bully)
Erin Cummings (Spartacus)
Robin Lord Taylor (Gotham)
Sarah Sokolovic (Every Secret Thing)

Chloe, a single mother living with her daughter Sophia, operates a motel. Topo is a blind man traveling cross country in a Jeep with his associate John. They stop by Chloe’s motel, when John hires prostitute Gwen, and convinces Topo to stay the night. When Gwen is entertaining John, an argument has John fatally shooting Gwen, waking Chloe up. Chloe investigating finds Gwen and John dead. The police arriving, Chloe has a conversation with her police friend Billy who was Gwen’s pimp. He comforts her while Chloe tells him she will not allow his girls to use the rooms in her motel anymore, as a social worker was around earlier threatening to take Sophia away. The following day Topo takes Chloe and Sophia hostage looking for the Jeep. As Sophia watches TV Chloe agrees to retrieve the Jeep from the police. Topo forces Chloe and Sophia to stake out Billy’s residence. Amber answers the door and Chloe and Billy fight. Billy refuses to give Chloe the Jeep. Topo forces Chloe to break into the police junkyard and retrieve a package hidden behind the radio. After evading the Patrolman, Chloe reaches the car but cannot find the package.Back at the motel, Chloe learns more about Topo and figures out that he is a courier who is supposed to deliver bundles of money. She proposes to Topo that they split the money if she helps him faster and he reluctantly agrees due to his new impairment. After Chloe falls asleep with Sophia Topo looks around and finds Chloe’s hidden stash of emergency money. The next morning, Topo and Chloe stake out, learning that John was Topo’s nephew and Chloe’s husband died in a hit and run. After finding Billy, Chloe follows him only to be found out and cornered in an alley. After Billy has Chloe pinned on the roof of the car, Topo sneaks up behind him and interrogates him and heads to Billy’s house thinking the money is stashed there. After Chloe finds the money under the bed she is confronted by Billy’s wife Amber, whom Topo shoots. They leave after tying Billy to the radiator. They go back to the motel where Topo leaves with all of the money with another associate, Donnie.

Chloe calls the police and tells them that she was a hostage. They tell her that Billy was not found at his house and decide to leave a squad-car there for her safety. Topo and Donnie meet Québécois mafia, Jacques and his associates in a car park. The mafia force Topo into the car and proceed to count the money to find that Topo is missing fifty grand, which Chloe has as her cut. When Jacques threatens to kill Topo, Topo kills them all. Back at the motel, Chloe packs her and Sophia’s things, she sends the police away only to be approached by Topo to give her back her cut, when Billy shoots Topo and Donnie, and has cornered Chloe, who then throws him through a window, unintentionally fatally slicing his neck. Chloe sets the scene to look like a deal gone bad, and takes Sophia into a taxi to parts unknown.

Cold Comes The Night is a down to earth hostage thriller, arguably it lingers a little in places, but keeps you hanging on to the end.

REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 2

CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (Mike & Molly)
Morena Baccarin (Firefly)
Zabryna Guevara (All Good Things)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Carol)
James Frain (The Cape)
Jessica Lucas (Cult)
Chris Chalk (12 Years a Slave)
Nicholas D’Agasto (Final Destination 5)
Michael Chikilis (Fantastic Four)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Kind (Stargate)
Clare Foley (Win Win)
Carol Kane (The Princess Bride)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Peter Scolari (The Polar Express)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Cameron Monaghan (The Giver)
Dustin Ybarra (Hop)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)
Maria Thayer (Hitch)
Natalie Alyn Lind (The Goldbergs)
Michelle Veintimilla (Limitless TV)
Ron Rifkin (Alias)
Michelle Gomez (Highlander: The Raven)
Tommy Flanagan (Sin City)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
BD Wong (Jurassic World)
Tonya Pinkins (Enchanted)
Nathan Darrow (House of Cards)
Michael Bowen (Lost)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
Paul Reubens (Batman Returns)
Ned Bellamy (Termiantor: TSCC)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral)

The origin story continues on Gotham and the stakes are higher than ever, as Super Villains more ambitious and depraved are introduced, and a shift of alliances shakes up the fight for power in Gotham City. In season two, Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and the ethically questionable veteran Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) remain at the forefront of the fight against crime in this dangerously corrupt city. While confronting Gotham’s most notorious criminals, however, Gordon’s moral compass begins to waver, but he is taken under the wing of Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis), a law-and-order zealot who is unafraid of making enemies. At the same time, Gordon continues his quest to gain the trust of the young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), who is on a clear path towards the man he is destined to become, after discovering his father’s deepest secrets, with the help of his trusted butler and mentor, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee), and newfound ally at Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk).

In the epic turf war that occurred at the conclusion of season one, Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) battled his way into power over Gotham’s underworld. Heading into season two, Gotham will continue to follow the evolving stories of the city’s most malevolent villains: Edward Nygma/The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), whose transformation from Gotham PD’s forensic expert to psychologically unhinged villain continues; Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), whose hard-knock existence propels her into a life of crime; and the increasingly unstable Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), who is out for Gordon and his girlfriend, Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). Also hoping to leave his mark on the city is Theo Galavan (James Frain), the billionaire industrialist, who appears to be the savior for whom Gotham has been waiting. Theo, along with his sister and lead enforcer, Tabitha Galavan aka Tigress (Jessica Lucas), keep their centuries-old vendetta hidden, as they manipulate their way to power.

Here in Season Two, there is far less dependence on self-contained episodes and more emphasis on the development of long running and serialised story arcs. In my opinion, this is better than Season One.
This remains a highly entertaining show.

REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 1

CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (Touch)
Zabryna Guevara (All Good Things)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Carol)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral)
John Dorman (The Wire)
Victoria Cartagena (Salt)
Andrew Stewart -Jones (Beauty and The Beast)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Kind (Stargate)
Grayson McCouch (Armageddon)
Brette Taylor (Rescue Me)
Clare Foley (Win Win)
Lili Taylor (The Conjuring)
Carol Kane (The Princess Bride)
David Zayas (Dexter)
Jeremy Davidson (Roswell)
Margaret Colin (Independence Day)
Susan Misner (The Forgotten)
Kim Director (Blair Witch 2)
Christopher James Baker (Sanctum)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Nicholas D’Agasto (Final Destination 5)
Makenzie Leigh (The Slap)
Lesley-Ann Brandt (Spartacus: Blood and Sand)
Morena Baccarin (Firefly)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Peter Scolari (The Polar Express)
Dash Mihok (Silver Linings Playbook)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Julian Sands (Smallville)
Maria Thayer (Hitch)
Cameron Monaghan (The Giver)
Jeffrey Combs (Star Trek: DS9)
Colm Feore (Thor)
Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes)
Willa Fitzgerald (Scream: The Series)
Chris Chalk (12 Years a Slave)

Gotham City has an old, relatively vague history independent of when Thomas and Martha Wayne were shot down in an alleyway, usually the first and primary thing that comes to mind about the motivation that drives Batman: the crime that got so bad that it took his good-natured parents away from him. The surroundings responsible for the billionaires’ murder weren’t created overnight, though, and intensified in response to their death, a time period that often goes unaddressed unless a detail about Bruce Wayne’s transformation into the brooding hero needs mentioning. As a response to the character’s unrelenting popularity the folks at DC aim to use that largely unexplored space to provide an origin story for the city’s violence and corruption, an attempt to recapture the magic of Smallville in a darker environment. The result is Gotham, a blend of crime-case procedure and mobster politics that also fills in the gaps between the orphaning of Bruce Wayne to where Batman begins.

Taking pages out of the playbook of the comic-book series “Gotham Central”, the show largely focuses on the interworking parts of the Gotham City Police Department, notably the arrival of rookie detective Jim Gordon in the midst of rampant corruption. The OC star Ben McKenzie brings initiative and fire to the character, a war veteran and straight-laced servant of the law who’s thrown together with a dirty partner in Harvey Bullock, whose sympathetic flaws are marvelously embodied by Donal Logue. Their first case together? The murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, later revealed to be connected to the city’s organized crime activity. In their investigation, Gordon quickly gets introduced to key players pulling the strings in Gotham, notably a swanky nightclub operator in Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) and her aging, rational boss, Carmine Falcone (John Doman). Then, there’s Oswald Cobblepott (Robin Lord Taylor), an attendant to Fish whose wavering allegiances also come to the surface in response to Gordon and Bullock’s investigation, working him into a position of persistent danger and upward mobility if he plays his cards right.

Against the backdrop of a Gotham City that combines Tim Burton’s gothic vision with Christopher Nolan’s stark approach into a relatively timeless metro area, Gotham comes in hard and fast with its nods to the DC universe, eliminating any early concerns about how much of the mythology it’ll incorporate. In fact, the show actually suffers from an oversaturation of these references, especially in how many of the classic villains have benign links to the GCPD in their pasts and, quite simply, how many have already shown up and taken shape into their well-known personalities. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, nor with tweaking what’s known about the universe into its own continuity, but it does detract from the production succeeding as a credible prequel to the age of Batman — touted early on as a selling point for the show.

It’s fascinating to see the riddlesome Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) as an awkward, morbid Dexter-like puzzle-solver working in the precinct, and to see a young Catwoman giving prowler pointers to a young Batman not long after she witnessed the infamous Wayne murder.

The areas where Gotham works are within the politics of the GCPD and the evolving criminal element, and, by association, the origin stories of Jim Gordon’s fight against the department and The Penguin’s ascent up the crime ladder. Elevated by Gordon’s furious diligence against the powers-that-be who keep him from properly doing his job. Gotham is in a comfort zone while exploring maneuverings of Robin Lord Taylor’s brilliantly grimy performance as Oswald Cobblepott. Combining the knowledge that he’ll eventually become a massive player in Gotham with the unpredictable, volatile nature of his younger self exemplifies what a prequel can accomplish.

Gotham really exposes the crux of its issues in the origin story of Bruce Wayne, built around the young orphaned billionaire developing the gumption and skill to investigate his parents’ murder, planting the seeds for his growth into the Caped Crusader.

As Gotham grows in it’s first season it becomes fascinating show dealing with the city before Batman came along and as it heads into it’s second season who can truly see the show has found it’s footing and will hopefully be around for sometime to come.