CVIndependent

Wed04082020

Last updateFri, 03 Apr 2020 5pm

DVDs/Home Viewing

06 Apr 2020
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So I was sitting at home on Sunday night. I had been talking to Independent editor Jimmy Boegle the last couple of weeks about whether or not I was going to keep writing stupid movie reviews after all this shit went down. My reviews ran in two other newspapers; one ceased publication, and the other said, “Hey, we ain’t got no dough for your verbal spew at the moment; hang tight!” So I’ve just sort of been taking a break and considering the retirement of my critic’s pen. Then I saw Louis C.K. had a new comedy special streaming on his website, and I said, “Ahh … fuck it. I’ll keep writing this bullshit if Jimmy is willing to publish it. It gives me something to do besides staring at the dog in my apartment and continuing to wonder when I will be able to go to a gas station…
16 Mar 2020
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Sophia Lillis stars as Sydney Novak, a character who comes off as a distant cousin of Stephen King’s Carrie in I Am Not Okay With This, a seven-episode series on Netflix. Sydney is going through some growing pains at her high school—most notably the newly discovered ability to physically wreck things with her mind when she gets a little too worked up. As she tries to figure out who she likes best in her class, she also tries to figure out what’s going on with the superpowers that seem to be emerging from within. Once she gets that all explained, she can then concentrate on the big dance. Lillis is her typical good self as Sydney, while Wyatt Oleff is hilarious as the geeky, pot-smoking Stanley, who has eyes for Sydney—but not to the extent where it will keep him being a good friend. Instead, the two work together to…
10 Mar 2020
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Director Richard Stanley and star Nicolas Cage honor the work of H.P. Lovecraft with Color Out of Space, which stands aside Re-Animator as one of the better, more-twisted Lovecraft adaptations. Living on a farm and trying to raise alpacas, Nathan Gardner (Cage); his wife, Theresa (Joely Richardson); and their three children enjoy a quiet, sublime life—until a meteor lands in their front yard and causes all kinds of chaos and carnage. Things develop slowly, but when the horror kicks in, things get quite dark. The body horror is well done and reminds of some of the more twisted films of David Cronenberg and the like. There’s stuff involving a mother and her children that will haunt your dreams long after viewing. Oh, and then there are the things that happen to Tommy Chong and his cat. The film features another gonzo-great performance from Cage, who gets to play both sensible…
25 Feb 2020
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Holy hell, The Last Thing He Wanted is a bad movie. I mean, it’s bad. Like, really, really, really, really, really bad. Anne Hathaway trudges through this adaptation of Joan Didion’s novel, a movie that casts her as an ’80s reporter who MUST KNOW THE TRUTH. Fed up with boring stories involving Reagan’s re-election campaign, she winds up going all over the world, simultaneously trying to help her crazy daddy (Willem Dafoe, whose character is supposed to be sickly … but, man, he’s never looked better in a movie) and, I think, trying to blow the lid of the Contra scandal. I say “I think,” because, honestly, I have no fucking idea what was going on in this stupid movie. Ben Affleck shows up as a creepy diplomat who eats pie and eventually goes to bed with Hathaway’s character, because, well, I don’t know why that happens, either. Hathaway is…
17 Feb 2020
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Shia LaBeouf returns with a vengeance in Amazon’s Honey Boy, offering both the screenplay and a gripping performance as his own dad in this autobiographical take on his pre-adolescent and teen years. Talk about public therapy! Directed with great strength by Alma Har’el, the film covers different stages in Shia’s career, including as a young boy (Noah Jupe) and a young adult (Lucas Hedges). LaBeouf sets out to basically show how he had a … well, let’s call it an offbeat upbringing. His father, represented by a character named James Lort and played by Shia, is at once inspirational and terribly abusive—a quirky, angry guy who torments young Shia (named Otis in the movie) as a means of forcing the kid into stardom. LaBeouf is funny/scary here, while Jupe and Hedges keep proving they are two of the best young actors on the planet. LaBeouf had a solid year in…
10 Feb 2020
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A troubled artist (Elijah Wood) answers a letter from his long-last dad (Stephen McHattie) and goes to visit him at his oceanfront property. What starts out as a sweet get-together in the film Come to Daddy quickly devolves into a hellish experience during which Dad proves himself to be an even lousier father than first thought: Rather than being a supportive pop, he drinks a lot and declares his long-lost son to be full of shit. He’s also got a few things going on in the basement. Director Ant Timpson throws in twists aplenty, and Wood delivers good work—but the film ultimately doesn’t come together. It flirts with dark comedy early on, and seems to be on its way to being a terrific nasty laugher, but the film loses its way when it goes the cheap-thriller route. The second half is depressing rather than outlandish, and the writing doesn’t back…
04 Feb 2020
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Taylor Swift goes the Beyoncé route with her own Netflix special—and it’s a winner. While Taylor Swift: Miss Americana covers her whole life, it focuses mostly on the making of her last two albums and her recent decision to become more politically active. If you are looking for a lot of her music, this is not the movie for you. If you are looking for insight into how she writes her songs—and how she feels about a certain Tennessee senator and current U.S. president—you will certainly enjoy this. I like Taylor Swift. I like her melodious music and the fact that she allows her cat to eat at the dinner table with the humans (seated in a regular dinner chair, no less). She can be a little self-important and a tad whiny at times, but great talents have their eccentricities. In the end, Taylor Swift is a great entertainer, and…
28 Jan 2020
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Director Kevin Smith almost croaked a while back thanks to a widow-maker heart attack—so it’s no surprise that his first film since that setback, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, is a bit of a sap fest. Smith and buddy Jason Mewes reprise the title roles in a film that follows most of the plot points of Smith’s 2001 magnum opus, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. The results aren’t as funny as I was hoping, but this is the first film in which Smith does a decent job of handling mushy, lubby-dubby, sentimental stuff. Smith’s daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, steps in as Jay’s love child with Justice (Shannon Elizabeth)—and she knocks the role out of the park. She’s actually the most consistently funny person in the movie, and she handles the emotional stuff well, too, proving she’s got major chops. The cameo list is long, including Matt Damon, Val Kilmer,…
20 Jan 2020
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Edward Norton directs, writes the screenplay and stars in Motherless Brooklyn, a decent-enough adaptation of the Jonathan Lethem novel of the same name. It’s an OK movie, but it isn’t going to change anybody’s lives. Norton certainly made a good-looking film here. Motherless Brooklyn is set in the ’50s, and the period details are impressive; the costuming is first-rate; and the camerawork is stellar. As for the story … there is a convoluted plot involving murder mysteries and real estate development. It doesn’t feel like anything new—except for the twist that Norton’s private detective has Tourette’s syndrome. Norton does a convincing job of exhibiting this affliction through a series of verbal and physical ticks, coupled with obsessive-compulsive behavior. No doubt: The most-interesting aspect of this movie is Norton’s character, Lionel. Norton assembles a strong cast, including Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe, Ethan Suplee (before he got ripped) and Cherry Jones. Everybody…
13 Jan 2020
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Jason Bateman stars in and directs the first two episodes of HBO’s The Outsider, the latest miniseries based on a Stephen King novel. Man, does King ever walk away from the keyboard? Terry Maitland (Bateman) is arrested by Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn) while coaching a Little League game—and the charges against him are shocking: Terry has allegedly killed a small boy, with witnesses placing him at the scene of the crime. There’s also surveillance video and forensic evidence that seemingly confirm his guilt. Yet Terry proclaims his innocence and has a solid alibi, including witness accounts and video confirmation that he was many miles away when the crime occurred. The first two episodes of the 10-part series offer a good setup, with Bateman doing a nice job both behind and in front of the camera. There’s no question I will be tuning in for more as the story continues on…
07 Jan 2020
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Antonio Banderas delivers what may be his greatest performance as a director dealing with physical and emotional pains in Pain and Glory, a semi-autobiographical film from Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. Salvador (Banderas) is retired, struggling with migraines and back pain after major surgery, and unsure on whether or not he will continue in the art of filmmaking. He’s having bouts of nostalgia, leading him to be momentarily enthusiastic about an anniversary screening of one of his more beloved films. This brings him to the doorstep of Alberto (Asier Etxeandia), an actor with whom he’s been feuding. They happily discuss presenting the film together—while, in a very impromptu sort of way, getting Salvador started on a heroin habit. Flashbacks to Salvador’s childhood feature a fantastic Penélope Cruz as his mother, raising the precocious Salvador on little money in a cave-like dwelling. Banderas takes a reserved approach to the role that is…
30 Dec 2019
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Bill Cosby is rotting in prison after being revealed as a rapist, and no standup comedians have been doing shows with kids lately. John Mulaney to the rescue! John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch, on Netflix, is sharply written, with a fun, darkly sarcastic tweak that should have both kids and adults chuckling. The joy of the show is that it isn’t dumbed down for kids. The kids are funny as all hell, and they even upstage the hilarious Mulaney on occasion. The music numbers are cute/funny, and the sketches all offer up solid laughs. Guest stars include Richard Kind, David Byrne and Jake Gyllenhaal—proving he’s one of the funniest people on the planet, as a guy trying to create music without instruments. Bumper interviews with the kids provide funny revelations, including one from a girl who is afraid of pigeons. Standout musical numbers include one with a very…

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