CVIndependent

Tue09272016

Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

DVDs/Home Viewing

26 Sep 2016
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Writer-director Hong-jin Na has put together The Wailing, an epic, rather-long South Korean horror film that keeps messing with one’s head—to the point where it becomes hard to take. A strange old man (Jun Kunimura) shows up in visions, and then is discovered in the flesh, in a small village where Jong-Goo, a hapless cop (Do Won Kwak), lives with his young daughter. Village residents start killing each other off and occasionally acting like zombies while covered with strange boils. Then, Jong-Goo’s daughter starts exhibiting symptoms of possession—setting Jon-Goo on a crazed mission to find the root of the evil pestilence destroying his town and his family. Na makes things frightening without resorting to jolt scares or quick edits. The movie unfolds, sometimes slowly, in a way that maintains a high level of tension and creepiness. He mixes in some humor, even during some of the more grisly scenes. The…
20 Sep 2016
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Ron Howard directs The Beatles: Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years, the first major Beatles documentary since The Beatles Anthology in the 1990s. While the Anthology is still the most definitive account of the greatest band to ever walk the Earth—it’s damn near perfect—Howard does a nice job of culling footage snippets of the band during the short-lived touring days, screaming fans included (one of them being Sigourney Weaver, who is seen both in vintage footage and in a present-day interview). The surviving Beatles—Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr—participate with interviews, while John Lennon and George Harrison have a strong presence in archived interviews. As with Anthology, there’s no narrator, just the voices of the Fab Four either recounting those crazy touring days or commenting on them as they were happening. That stretch ended right before Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, when The Beatles became a studio band and eschewed…
12 Sep 2016
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Adam Nimoy directs For the Love of Spock, a sweet documentary about his dad, Leonard, and the everlasting legacy of his most universally treasured creation, Spock. The film offers a terrific look at the origins of the character, and his transitions through time, straight through to the recent Spock incarnation played by Zachary Quinto. More importantly, the film stands as a blessed tribute to the man behind the character, as it examines his entire career and his family life. Adam Nimoy unearths some great footage, including Leonard reading the original Variety review for Trek in front of a large crowd, and, of course, “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins,” Leonard’s most infamous single from his musical career. (If you haven’t seen the video, it’s one of the greatest things ever made.) Adam had a rocky relationship with his dad, but thankfully, that was remedied in recent years, something the film touchingly…
29 Aug 2016
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Mel Gibson is an asshole, but he can act with the best of them—something he proves yet again in Blood Father. As Link—an ex-con with a tattoo parlor in his trailer and a missing daughter (Erin Moriarty)—Gibson is a stunning, grizzly marvel, elevating mediocre material into something quite watchable. When the missing daughter gets herself into major trouble, she returns to the grid by giving Link a call. Having never really known his daughter, Link is determined to be the dad he never was (thanks to a seven-year prison stint)—and he goes into super-protective mode. The two wind up on the run from a drug cartel, and that leads to Gibson, on a motorcycle, blowing people away with a shotgun. Blood Father is a tour de force for Gibson, whose ranting inside Link’s trailer as it is getting shot up might be the best piece of acting he’s ever put…
22 Aug 2016
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In his latest comedy special, Making America Great Again! on Netflix, David Cross takes a little more than 10 minutes to really get going. When he gets going … holy shit! This guy isn’t afraid of anything. He takes on Donald Trump, the pope and the Catholic Church, terrorists, etc., with a fearlessness that is actually kind of scary. I seriously worry about him getting his ass kicked in the parking lot. Cross has long been one of my favorite standup comedians. I’d call this one of his weaker sets, but that’s just because his previous ones are so great. Cross on a mediocre night is much better than most standups on their best night, so be prepared to laugh. Also, be prepared to moan and cringe, because this guy goes to some pretty unthinkable places with his bits. His theory on why God allows children to die is, shall…
15 Aug 2016
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The Duffer brothers are definitely tipping their figurative hats with numerous homages in with their enjoyable Netflix series, Stranger Things: These boys definitely like their late ’70s-early ’80s Spielberg, Stephen King and John Carpenter. Yeah, Spielberg has gotten his share of tributes before (most notably from J.J. Abrams and his mediocre Super 8, and Jeff Nichols with his awesome Midnight Special). Here, Matt and Ross Duffer have managed to pay homage to a lot of people and films without making their enterprise feel like a ripoff. Yep, that’s Winona Ryder front and center as Joyce, a mom freaking out after her son disappears and starts talking to her through lamps and walls (shades of Poltergeist). Neighborhood kids band together and hop on their bicycles to find their friend (shades of E.T.) while the local sheriff tries to put the puzzle together (and he’s got Indy’s fedora). There’s some sort of…
08 Aug 2016
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After sitting on the shelf for quite some time, Mark Osborne’s unorthodox animated adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic The Little Prince has finally gotten a release—a release streaming on Netflix, that is. It’s a good-enough movie, but it is by no means a straight retelling of The Little Prince. There’s a modern story about a young girl (the voice of Mackenzie Foy) who befriends an old aviator (Jeff Bridges)—the one we know from The Little Prince. He recounts part of that story to the little girl, which we see in stop-motion animation. (The modern portion of the story is mostly told via CGI.) There’s an interesting mix of animation techniques to go with some twists in the story. While things feel a little uneven and perhaps slow at times, it’s an enjoyable film. Other voice performers include Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Marion Cotillard, James Franco, Benicio Del Toro and…
26 Jul 2016
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There’s a truly weird story behind the real picture of Elvis Presley shaking Richard Nixon’s hand in the Oval Office—and director Liza Johnson does a funny job of telling it. One morning in December 1970, Elvis (Michael Shannon) showed up, uninvited, on the White House lawn seeking a meeting with the president. Elvis was determined to become some sort of undercover narcotics agent—prepared to bust fellow rock stars for drugs and make the entertainment world a safer place. Nixon (Kevin Spacey) begrudgingly let him in, because his kid wanted an autograph. It’s impossible to say how much of this movie is really factual, but Spacey is awesome as Nixon, while Shannon makes for a nutty, soft-spoken Elvis. The two are great in their scenes together, and the movie works as a biography for both figures. They give the icons some nice dimension within the movie’s 86-minute running time. Special Features:…
18 Jul 2016
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Writer-director John Carney, who made Once and Begin Again, has turned in another fine movie about music and relationships with Sing Street, an ’80s period piece featuring high school students forming a band. The movie is set in Dublin, where Cosmo (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) has just transferred schools and is trying to fit in. Soon thereafter, he meets the beautiful Raphina (Lucy Boynton) and promptly asks her to be in his band’s music video. One problem: He doesn’t actually have a band. He’s forced to form one, and creates a musical unit consisting of other misfits—who join together to make some decent music. Walsh-Peelo does his own playing and singing in the film, and he’s actually pretty good. He also has a slight resemblance to Paul McCartney. The romance between Cosmo and Raphina is sweet, and the musical elements of the film feel authentic. I wouldn’t be surprised if the formation…
13 Jul 2016
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The late Anton Yelchin got one of the best roles of his career as Pat in Green Room, the nerve-shredding horror film from director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin). Pat is a member of a punk band on the tail end of a lousy tour playing dive bars—and, ultimately, a skinhead bar—in the hopes of making enough money to get back home. That skinhead-bar gig pays the band members enough, but as they are heading out the door, they see something they shouldn’t—and mighty bad things happen. Confined to the green room, the band ultimately confronts Darcy (Patrick Stewart), a tired, quiet, dangerous bar owner who can’t let the band go, even though they turned in a pretty good set. The confrontation that ensues is terrifying, bloody stuff. Yelchin is his usual great self here, a fine role near the end of his fine career. Imogen Poots, Joe Cole and Alia…
01 Jul 2016
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Two Icelandic sheepherding brothers who haven’t spoken in four decades face tragedy when their neighboring herds become infected and must be slaughtered in the fantastic film Rams. Gummi (Sigurour Sigurjonsson) and Kiddi (Theodor Juliusson) have developed a rivalry over the years, with Kiddi winning local “best sheep” competitions. A jealous Gummi reports that his brother’s sheep might be ill—and the report winds up ringing true. Doctors recommend that all of the sheep in the valley be destroyed—wreaking havoc on their lives. Gummi comes up with a strange plan to salvage some of the herd, forcing Kiddi to join him on a mission to save the sheep. Writer-director Grimur Hakonarson’s hauntingly beautiful movie is a fine story of sibling rivalry. We never really find out what has caused the brotherly rift, and we don’t really need to know. The two actors (forgive me … I just don’t want to retype those…
20 Jun 2016
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After seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark, 12 year-old Eric Zala got the idea to remake the movie, shot for shot, as an experiment with his buddies. Over the course of the next six years, they did just that, doing a remarkable job of re-creating the legendary Spielberg film note for note. Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made captures the creative team as they set out to film the one shot they never got: the massive airplane explosion after the fight with the big, bald Nazi. There’s a lot of fun stuff about the making of the movie, including the time the boys almost burned a house down. They also almost burned one of the actors, and nearly suffocated another with a plaster mold on his face. Another amusing fact: They used a little puppy instead of a monkey for the infamous Nazi-salute monkey scene. The…

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