CVIndependent

Tue10242017

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

DVDs/Home Viewing

24 Oct 2017
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If you saw Bone Tomahawk a couple of years ago, you saw the directorial debut of S. Craig Zahler (who also wrote the script), a guy who knows how to tell bleak, brutal stories. I thought Tomahawk was nasty, but it’s a tea party with bunny rabbits compared to Zahler’s second feature, Brawl in Cell Block 99. (He penned the script for this one, too.) Vince Vaughn shaves his head and steps into the role of Bradley Thomas, a tow-truck driver who loses his job and discovers his wife (Jennifer Carpenter) is having an affair. After a meltdown in which Bradley destroys a car with his bare hands, he makes a bad career choice and returns to his former life of crime—running drugs to both save his marriage and make some money. Things don’t go well, and Bradley winds up in a couple of prisons—ultimately resulting in the event mentioned…
16 Oct 2017
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Writer-director Noah Baumbach delivers his best movie yet with The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), his latest story of family dysfunction—which serves as yet another reminder that Adam Sandler can be a knockout actor when he puts his mind to it. Sandler plays Danny, older brother to Matthew (Ben Stiller), father to Eliza (Grace Van Patten) and son of Harold (Dustin Hoffman). Danny is going through hard times, separating from his wife as Eliza prepares for college. His only option is to live with his dad and stepmom (Emma Thompson), a move that drudges up a lot of past difficulties. When Matthew comes to town—looking to sell his parents’ house, much to the chagrin of Danny—tensions grow. Yet despite the tension, there’s a hilarious way in which this family communicates. Even when things get bad, their warmth and desire for better times with each other shine through. While Sandler gets…
10 Oct 2017
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The tired killer-doll franchise gets a slight boost with Cult of Chucky. No, it can’t be called a good movie, but it might just be the best sequel so far to Child’s Play. The film picks up after the last installment, the lousy Curse of Chucky, with Nica (Fiona Dourif, the daughter of Brad Dourif, the voice of Chucky) on her way to an asylum. Also returning is Alex Vincent, who played Andy in the original film and Curse. Andy now has an arsenal—along with a messed-up Chucky head in a safe. It’s stitched together, bloodied and still talking. It’s kind of awesome, actually. Not long after Nica’s arrival, numerous Chucky dolls start showing up, and, of course, people start dying. No doubt: Chucky has never looked cooler than he does in his various incarnations in this movie. The special-effects crew does a great job of animating the little demon.…
03 Oct 2017
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Now Netflix is chipping in on the effort to make us all forget that filmed adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower with this adaptation of King’s Gerald’s Game, a powerhouse acting job for both Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood. They play Jessie and Gerald, a married couple who have hit tough times. They attempt to rekindle their relationship on a holiday excursion which includes her getting handcuffed to the bed. Things go bad—like, really bad—and Jessie winds up in a truly precarious situation that involves starving, dehydrating and hallucinating. The original King novel, of course, finds a way for Gerald to stick around for the whole movie, even after a fatal heart attack, while flashbacks show us additional traumas involving Jessie’s dad (Henry Thomas). The movie is, appropriately, hard to watch at times, as a hungry dog comes by for a visit, and Jessie searches for ways to get…
26 Sep 2017
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Angelina Jolie directs First They Killed My Father, the memoir of Loung Ung (who also co-wrote the screenplay), a Cambodian woman who, as a child, survived the genocide brought upon her country by the Khmer Rouge after the Vietnam War in the mid-1970s. The result is a triumph for Jolie and Ung, who succeed in telling the story through Ung’s eyes as a child. Sareum Srey Moch is a movie miracle as Ung; she is a happy child—until the day the Khmer Rouge arrive in her town. They decide her dad must die and cause her family to flee into the jungle. Jolie keeps the vantage point through the eyes of this child, ingeniously filming the landscape around her as a child would see it—something beautiful being invaded by monsters. Moch is required to deliver every emotion in the role, and she delivers in a way that should be impossible…
19 Sep 2017
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The Limehouse Golem stars Bill Nighy as Inspector Kildare, commissioned by Scotland Yard to find the notorious Golem Killer, a Jack the Ripper-type serial killer. The film is based on a 1994 novel that incorporated actual historical figures like Karl Marx. Juan Carlos Medina’s movie is good-looking, and Nighy is a fun as a cranky Sherlock Holmes-type. Unfortunately, the mystery itself isn’t that absorbing, and a side plot involving the murder trial of a local actress (Olivia Cooke) fails to engage. Granted, it is pretty cool that Medina somehow manages to stage a hypothetical scene in which Karl Marx commits a very bloody murder. There are a few macabre moments, such as that one, that work well—but they’re not enough to make this really worth watching. Cooke labors in the role of Lizzie Cree, a stage actress in a bad marriage who becomes an object of sympathy for Kildare as…
11 Sep 2017
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Zoe Lister-Jones writes, directs, stars and performs good music in Band Aid, a funny and sometimes nasty look at a struggling couple’s last attempt to save their marriage by forming a garage band. Lister-Jones plays Anna, who is fed up with Ben (Adam Pally), her artist husband who refuses to do the dishes. They have intellectually nasty fights during which they come up with some pretty good shit in their back-and-forth. Counseling isn’t helping, and they are certainly a candidate for divorce. Because they come up with some pretty good shit in their back-and-forth, they realize their nasty put-downs would make decent song lyrics. Anna suggests they pull their guitars out of mothballs and form a band. This sounds like a stupid premise, but, I assure you, it turns out to be fun. When quiet, sex-addict neighbor Dave (Fred Armisen, hilarious, as always) sees the two playing guitars, he offers…
05 Sep 2017
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Goon, released six years ago, was a funny-as-hell hockey comedy based on a real sports figure who played shitty hockey—but fought like a madman. It seemed to give new life to the acting career of Seann William Scott. The sequel, Goon: Last of the Enforcers, is directed by Goon co-star Jay Baruchel—and it is an embarrassment from all angles. For starters, it’s sloppy—the kind of sloppy you would expect from an actor who has no clue what he is doing behind the camera. The tone shifts like crazy; the jokes fall flat; and the performances get killed by terrible editing. The movie deals with Goon hero Doug Glatt (Scott) going into retirement shortly after being named captain of his team, because he can’t fight from his left side. Then the film embarks on a strange side story involving his work as an insurance salesman while he tries to make a…
21 Aug 2017
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Eccentric comedic actor Brett Gelman gets a much-deserved starring vehicle in Lemon as Isaac, a theater teacher going through some troubles with his blind girlfriend (Judy Greer). She starts getting antsy, and his behavior gets weirder and weirder, especially when it comes to student Alex (a very funny Michael Cera). Let’s just say things don’t go well when Alex comes over to hang out … yet that occurrence is one of the more normal ones in Isaac’s life. As his relationship and acting career crumble—he’s the spokesman for Hep C!—he tries to date others. That ends with him escaping a party with his date’s grandmother. (To repeat: Isaac is weird.) The film meanders a bit, and never has a true sense of purpose, yet somehow, it all works just fine. Director Janicza Bravo, who co-wrote the script with Gelman, makes an impressively strange directorial debut, thanks in large part to…
16 Aug 2017
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Ridley Scott’s third Alien movie, Alien: Covenant, is a good one. Sadly, it was not good enough to motivate a lot of domestic viewers to take it in—putting the franchise in jeopardy. A direct sequel to his Alien prequel, Prometheus, Covenant tries to be both a gory monster movie and a philosophical meditation on the creation of man—with mixed results. It’s as if Scott heard all of the bitching by Alien fans who didn’t get enough monster madness in Prometheus, so he upped the ante on the gore and special effects, but did it with a smaller budget and the same kind of crazy plot holes that plagued Prometheus. The movie still represents good Alien fun, with Michael Fassbender doing excellent work as not one, but two androids: Walter, the new, nicer android, and David, the dickhead android from Prometheus. Scott gets a little carried away regarding David’s overall role…
08 Aug 2017
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Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later is the third trip to Camp Firewood after the original film (Wet Hot American Summer) and the Netflix prequel series (Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp), and it’s the least-funny of the three. It’s still one of the funniest things you will find on television. Most of the group is back again for the eight-episode series, by writer-director David Wain and writer Michael Showalter. At the end of the original movie, the camp counselors (including Showalter, Michael Ian Black, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper and Janeane Garofalo) promised to reunite 10 years later to see how things turned out. Here, they do just that, with their reunion threatened by an evil Ronald Reagan (Showalter) and George H.W. Bush (Michael Ian Black, in what has to be the worst and most hilarious George Bush impersonation ever). The two presidents want to nuke the…
01 Aug 2017
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In Wakefield, Bryan Cranston plays Howard Wakefield, a dude who comes home one night, chases a raccoon into a room above his garage, and decides to stay there for a while … a long while. After a rough stretch with his wife (Jennifer Garner) and a dissatisfying time at work, Howard is feeling a little underappreciated. The room over his garage seems like a good sanctuary for a few hours, a place where he can take inventory of things before returning to his routine. He can see his family having dinner through the window. Then he sees his wife throw his dinner in the garbage can. Something breaks inside of him. Cut to a bearded, disheveled Howard many months later; he’s rummaging through garbage cans for food and peeing in bottles, Howard Hughes-style. He’s taken up residence in the apartment above the garage like Fonzie in Happy Days, and nobody…

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