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  • Abduction 2011

    Watched 27 Jul, 2014

    It has an intriguing premise. I'll give it that much. In any case, the setup is interesting and ripe with possibilities for an engaging film.

    Even after an inexplicably terrible series of expository scenes, anyway, in which we meet the bland, stock teenagers who will be at the center of the story. Seriously... Did they have to open this thing so obnoxiously? It's like the movie is DARING you to keep watching. But then, the mystery begins unfolding and it…

  • Snitch 2013

    ★★★ Watched 27 Jul, 2014

    I think it's safe to say that Dwayne Johnson has officially become a brand you can trust. And, far as formulaic policiers go, this one is not bad.

    Well-written and acted... For the most part. That is to say The Rock is very solid in this low key dramatic part. He puts aside his beefcake persona to portray an average middle class working dude, and is very convincing.

    The cast also features Barry Pepper, Michael K. Williams and Susan Sarandon…

  • The Art of the Steal 2013

    ★★★ Watched 26 Jul, 2014

    It's a little smug... But this light caper you've probably never heard of is actually pretty enjoyable.

    I think one of the reasons you never heard of it - it's about art thieves. So, much like William Goldman's dreadful The Year of the Comet, it's a subject that nobody gives a shit about. The mainstream audience doesn't care about Georges Serrat or some valuable Gregorian bible... And so... The first ten minutes or so, when you're being clued in to…

  • Need for Speed 2014

    ★★ Watched 25 Jul, 2014

    Well... I guess if you're going to adapt a series of high octane street racing games into a movie, you might as well make it a movie about high octane street racing.

    And that's it, right?

    I mean, why even bother with a fucking story? Just throw some cars on the road and shoot them. Shoot them from behind. Shoot them from the front. Shoot them from above. Shoot from inside the car looking out at the road as it…

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 2014

    ★★★★★ Watched 24 Jul, 2014

    They really hit the nail on the head when they found the route to success with this series was through reinvention.

    And so you have this absolutely splendid sequel, which takes that ball and runs with it.

    Matt Reeves proves a very capable director here, applying a keen visual sense and just the right pacing to a rich, captivating and humanist story... He is aided by spectacular special effects and wonderful performances that really bring this world to life -…

  • Another Earth 2011

    ★★★★ Watched 23 Jul, 2014

    It is every bit the artsy-fartsy indie you expect it to be.

    But that's not really a complaint. Because director Mike Cahill and co-writer Brit Marlin (who also stars), have done something interesting here, using a science fiction premise to frame an intimate narrative about human contact.

    It's a terrific acting showcase for Brit Marlin and William Mapother, as two damaged people who find healing in each other, despite the tragic irony at the center of their connection.

    An engaging…

  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes 2011

    ★★★★ Rewatched 23 Jul, 2014

    So when they finally set about really reinventing this franchise, as opposed to just remaking it, they got it right.

    There are many joys in this film, which far outweigh the occasional lapses into silliness or "fan service." The motion capture animation is just stunning, terrific effects and stunt work towards the end.

    And none of it would really matter, were it not for a refreshingly grounded storyline that puts genuine emotion ahead of any razzle dazzle.

    Which is not…

  • Ghost Story 1981

    ★★★ Rewatched 14 Jul, 2014

    Once the relatively amusing novelty wears off, of seeing a bunch of legendary old people either suffer from night sweats and scream "NOOOOOO!" in the middle of the night; or die some kind of rather hilarious grisly death... What you're left with is the movie itself.

    As far as old school campfire tales go, this one is not too bad. John Irvin is famous for directing a bunch of testosterone-fueled, brawny, violent and not particularly stylish action movies of the…

  • The Call 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 14 Jul, 2014

    And here's a neat, nerve-jangling little thriller... It's high concept, sure, but manages to function very effectively despite gimmicky trappings.

    That's mainly because the central premise is credible enough and the leads are extremely likable.

    Halle Berry doesn't make particularly good movies very often. So when one comes along, you kind of sit up and notice. And she does some good acting here...pitched at just the right level of anxiety to keep you bolted to the edge of your seat.…

  • When Time Ran Out... 1980

    Rewatched 14 Jul, 2014

    Irwin Allen's final theatrical production is this excruciating all-star idiocy in which Paul Newman tries to lure Jacqueline Bissett, William Holden and a bunch of other people away from the destruction of a volcano.

    Released in 1980... But the silly Lalo Schiffrin musical score, the TV visuals and pretty unimpressive special effects make it seem like it was made in the early seventies.

    Allen's films are famous for the formulaic consistency. But at least some of those other films offered…

  • The Morning After 1986

    ★★★ Rewatched 13 Jul, 2014

    It's always interesting to see filmmakers working outside of their wheelhouse. In this case, Sidney Lumet abandons his customary street level grit for the tacky glamour of Los Angeles in this intriguing curio that is so of its time, I'm sure it was made a part of those "I love the 80s!" bargain bin DVD "collections" you see at supermarket impulse buy areas.

    The eightiesness of it is evident right from the start... The very first scene, which shows Jane…

  • Dark Night of the Scarecrow 1981

    ★★★★ Rewatched 10 Jul, 2014

    And here's a classic gem you really should see if you haven't already.

    I guess not everyone has the childhood memory of experiencing this on a Sunday night TV airing on CBS. That special under the covers with a flashlight feeling associated with so many of our pleasures growing up... That tingly feeling one is sure to experience - even as coming to it years later, as an adult...and maybe even more so for that reason.

    For someone coming in…