CVIndependent

Tue03262019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

DVDs/Home Viewing

26 Mar 2019
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Jeff Tremaine, director of the Jackass films, tries to deliver an actual narrative movie—and bombs miserably with The Dirt, a lame Netflix biopic on Mötley Crüe. Based on the book that was written by members of the band, the film covers Mötley Crüe from its formation … and makes a mess of the whole thing. For starters, Tommy Lee lookalike Machine Gun Kelly delivers a bad performance as the iconic drummer, making him into more of a cartoon than he already is. Daniel Webber is an annoying prick as lead singer Vince Neil … but Neil is an annoying prick in real life, too, so I guess he gets a pass. Douglas Booth renders bassist Nikki Sixx boring, while Iwan Rheon is the closest thing to any fun as old, grumpy guitarist Mick Mars. I’ll confess: I’ve never liked the band. I find the music amateurish and shitty, so it…
19 Mar 2019
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Emile Hirsch and John Cusack, two actors whose careers have seen better times, star in Never Grow Old, a dark Western about a religious town visited by the devil. The devil would be Dutch Albert (Cusack), a sleazy gunslinger businessman who arrives in an old frontier town that has outlawed liquor; he promptly opens a saloon. The mayhem that follows him has a body count, and the local undertaker, Patrick (Hirsch), starts making a fine profit off all the kills. Torn between all the extra money for his family and the fact that a lot of people, including friends, are dying, Patrick starts having thoughts about rising up against Dutch—but many more will die before Patrick works up the gumption to make a move. Both actors are very good, with Cusack delivering his best work since his excellent turn in Love and Mercy. He’s played bad guys before, but this…
12 Mar 2019
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While Instant Family might have the look of a routine family comedy, it is anything but: This movie is funny from start to finish, and it packs a couple of emotional punches, too. Couple Pete and Ellie (Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne), might, just might, want kids, so they decide to look into adoption. Their quest lands them a 15-year-old foster child named Lizzy (the excellent Isabela Moner) and her two younger siblings, Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and Lita (Julianna Gamiz). Everything goes just fine … until one hilariously apocalyptic scene, when Pete and Ellie are given a nice dose of parenting reality, and realize they have much to learn. Turns out Lizzy is a bit of a rebel; Lita is a screamer; and Juan is a sensitive, accident-prone little chap. Will they be willing to adopt the kids in the end? Wahlberg excels in this sort of comedy—he and director…
06 Mar 2019
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Childhood innocence, my ass. Michael Jackson was a certified creep, a sick dude with a strange agenda when it came to spending way too much time with other people’s young, impressionable children. I already felt that way about MJ going into Leaving Neverland, a two-part, four-hour documentary featuring interviews with Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck, two men who knew Jackson when they were young boys—and who now both claim Jackson molested them, after years of public denials. The two men share explicit details about their nights with Jackson at his Neverland Ranch and other properties. Also featured are their mothers—two dummies who allowed their kids to sleep in the same bed as a grown man, a man who prohibited each of these women from sleeping in the same room as their child when they all stayed over. Yeah, there was nothing going on. It was all innocent. Look … there…
12 Feb 2019
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The title of The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot implies campy fun, right? The fact that it stars Sam Elliott leads to the impression that tongue-in-cheek, cult-classic adventure may be in the making, perhaps? Well, no. I’m all for a movie deviating from expectations—bring it on—but this one has no idea what it is trying to accomplish. Elliott plays an old soldier drinking his life away. Through flashbacks, we see that he was part of some covert operation to kill Hitler. That part of the movie is handled in a couple of quick, unimaginative scenes. Then … his character is approached by the government to go kill Bigfoot, because Bigfoot is spreading a disease in Canada that could wipe out the entire planet. This part of the film is also handled in a couple of scenes—flimsy ones—including Bigfoot vomiting all over Elliott. The movie actually takes itself…
05 Feb 2019
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Writer-director Dan Gilroy and Jake Gyllenhaal, who previously partnered up on Nightcrawler, take a creative step backward with Velvet Buzzsaw, an art-world satire/horror effort. Gyllenhaal plays Morf Vandewalt, an art critic losing his lust for the profession. His love affair with Josephina (Zawe Ashton), an art-house employee, gets confusing in many ways when she comes across paintings by a dead man in her apartment building. The paintings, which the artist literally put his blood into, have deadly consequences for those who gaze upon them. Gyllenhaal is his usual sharp self, creating something funny without going for obvious laughs. Rene Russo is equally good as a ruthless art dealer—she’s willing to cut down anybody who gets in her way. The supporting cast includes Toni Collette, John Malkovich and Billy Magnussen, which contributes to the feeling that the film should be more than what it is. And what is it? It’s sharp…
28 Jan 2019
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I was a little kid when I first heard the words “Ted Bundy.” My dad was watching a news report about him on TV—something about the college students he murdered in Florida—and Dad simply couldn’t believe the guy escaped from custody and committed those crimes. Even knowing the story of Bundy going into Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, it’s mind-boggling what this jackass got away with during his crime spree, and director Joe Berlinger touches upon much of it with his solid, four-part documentary. The series is anchored by Bundy’s own words, recorded by a crafty journalist as he sat on death row awaiting his fate. This is just part one of Berlinger’s examination of the serial killer; he just wrapped a bio pic on the guy, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring Zac Efron as Bundy and slated to be released later this year. The…
23 Jan 2019
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The first Deadpool was a gross hoot. Deadpool 2 was OK—still funny, but a definite step in the wrong direction, as Ryan Reynolds got a little too cute with the whole breaking-the-fourth-wall thing. Once Upon a Deadpool exists because somebody decided to cash in (plus a charity tie-in, at least) with a PG-13-rated Deadpool 2 edit during this past holiday season. (It’s reminiscent of the time Saturday Night Fever got revamped as a PG movie, down from an R, many years ago.) It’s a sad joke of an enterprise, diluting an already-mediocre movie and stripping Deadpool of the very things that make him unique in the Marvel universe—that being his profane mouth and penchant for drawing lots of blood. The movie includes new footage with Fred Savage, kidnapped by Deadpool and taped to a bed within a meticulously recreated Princess Bride set. Savage is actually really funny in his scenes,…
15 Jan 2019
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I missed A Simple Favor during its theatrical release—and it’s a film that provides many pleasant surprises. This is director Paul Feig’s follow-up to his execrable Ghostbusters, and quite a change of pace from his straightforward comedies (Bridesmaids, Spy, The Heat). While this is also classified as a comedy, it’s a dark comedy along the lines of Heathers, with a nice Hitchcockian mystery at its center. The criminally underappreciated Anna Kendrick stars Stephanie, a widow and mom who finds herself essentially nannying for new friend Emily (Blake Lively). Before long, Emily goes missing, and Stephanie slowly but surely starts to replace her as a mother and wife. Emily is believed to be dead … and then things start happening. Kendrick is funny as the confused mom who tries her best to have a career (she has a semi-popular video blog) while harboring some dark secrets. Lively does career-best work as…
10 Jan 2019
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Sandra Bullock lends her supreme talents to a Netflix movie that’s become a media sensation—even though Bird Box features a bunch of overused horror gimmicks mashed into one, messy entity. Malorie (Bullock) is a gloomy painter (they show Bullock only painting the black background to make it look authentic), going through the motions and dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. Her sister, Jessica (Sarah Paulson), takes Malorie to the doctor for a checkup—shortly after seeing a strange report on TV about masses of people killing themselves in Russia. While visiting with the doc (Parminder Nagra), all hell starts to break loose in the hospital and, especially, on the streets. It appears as if people are seeing some sort of entity and deciding it’s far too much for them to handle, so they kill themselves in creative ways (stepping in front of buses, bashing their heads into windows, walking into fires, etc.).…
09 Jan 2019
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Netflix is on fire, with the arrival of the extremely popular (if not that great) Bird Box, and Bandersnatch, this strange little curio from the makers of the anthology series Black Mirror. Some kids of the 1980s might remember an arcade game called Dragon’s Lair, where you made choices for the game’s protagonist, and different scenarios played out. Bandersnatch is similar, but the different plot threads are wildly varying, with most of them being quite well written and entertaining. Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk) plays Stefan, a video-game creator who pitches an idea for a game, Bandersnatch. He winds up working for a company (or maybe he doesn’t, depending on your choices) making the game, and what happens while he’s working is up to you. Choices appear on the bottom of the screen, and you get to pick the scenarios. There are about five hours of material in all, and the movie…
04 Jan 2019
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The first season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was a huge success, garnering five Primetime Emmy Awards—including Outstanding Comedy Series honors—and giving Amazon Studios its biggest hit to date. Given all the accolades and press, show runners Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino had to be feeling a lot of pressure to deliver with the show’s second season—and deliver, they did, on Dec. 5 with 10 splendid episodes. While the second season doesn’t cover any surprising ground—the plot lines all head pretty much where one would predict them to head—the writing remains sharp and delightful, and the acting is consistently stellar. Season 2 takes us on a comedy tour with Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) and Susie (cast MVP Alex Borstein); to Paris with Midge and parents Rose (Marin Hinkle) and Abe (Tony Shalhoub); and on a summer away in the Hamptons with the entire Masiel and Weissman families. New addition Zachary Levi…

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