CVIndependent

Sat08082020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

DVDs/Home Viewing

18 May 2020
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If you are looking for some good, empty-headed, Adam Sandler-branded fun while coping with the nuttiness in the world right now, please don’t watch The Wrong Missy: It will just depress you. Sandler produced this one on his Netflix deal for buddies David Spade, Nick Swardson and Rob Schneider. Alas, Spade has never looked so bored, and the talented Lauren Lapkus is wasted. Spade plays a business exec who meets a crazy girl (Lapkus) named Missy on a terrible blind date. He also meets Melissa (Molly Sims), his dream girl. When a big business trip comes up, and he’s allowed to take somebody along, he texts the wrong Missy—who shows up on his plane and starts raising hell. Of course, more hijinks ensue. The movie starts off well enough, but quickly devolves into desperate humor with few successful jokes. Instead, there’s lots of barfing, falling down and predictable plot turns.…
12 May 2020
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Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney are terrific in Bad Education, a dark comedy based on the true story of Frank Tassone and the Long Island school-district embezzlement scheme that brought him down. Jackman plays Tassone, a vain superintendent who gnashes his teeth when Pam Gluckin (Janney), one of his co-workers, is accused of embezzlement; he throws her under the bus, so to speak. As the drama plays out, it is slowly revealed that Tassone not only participated in some wrongdoing—but might, in fact, be the ringleader of an even bigger theft. Jackman gives one of his very best performances as Tassone, a consummate sociopath who seriously has no idea what a boldfaced criminal he is. Janney is his equal as Gluckin, who possesses about half of his sociopathic tendencies, but is equally clueless. Supporting-performance greatness abounds from Ray Romano, Stephanie Kurtzuba and Alex Wolff. Director Cory Finley strikes a nice…
05 May 2020
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New Netflix action blockbuster Extraction is heavy on decent pyrotechnics—but light on the dramatic fuel. Chris Hemsworth stars as a mercenary with a dark past, which means he sulks a lot. I don’t think he cracks a smile in the entire film. He finds himself trying to rescue a kidnapped boy overseas. Will his cold heart be melted by the sweet kid, making him less of a mercenary and more of a guardian angel? Take a wild guess. The action scenes as orchestrated by director Sam Hargrave are first-rate. Many things go boom—in ways that are inventive and even exciting. That often makes up for the film’s dull and more-predictable patches. If you personally prioritize action over underlying emotional implications and crying scenes, you will probably enjoy this film. Either way, it’s a pretty vacuous affair. Hemsworth does OK in a film that basically requires him to look both fierce…
27 Apr 2020
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I was in college when the Beastie Boys released Licensed to Ill, and I can say with great confidence that I absolutely hated “Fight for Your Right.” As a result, I hated the Beastie Boys—and I wanted them to disappear. I was still in college not quite three years later when follow-up album Paul’s Boutique was released. I realized that “Fight for Your Right” was a joke I hadn’t previously gotten—and that these nuts were actually supremely talented. Every release from Paul’s Boutique on floored me. Losing Adam Yauch (MCA) in 2012 was a blow as brutal as losing Cobain or Lennon. This guy wasn’t just a talented musician; he was a great man. Spike Jonze’s new documentary took me by surprise in that it is a taped show performed by remaining Beasties Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) and Michael Diamond (Mike D), with much love going out to Yauch. It was…
20 Apr 2020
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Perhaps the only good thing about this pandemic so far is the fact that I got to watch The Invisible Man so soon at home with my dog. Yeah, I paid $19.99, and that looks steep at first. That’s about what it cost me to see three movies per week, for a whole month, with my AMC club plan, one of the 21st century’s greatest inventions so far. But since movie theaters have gone bye-bye, $19.99 is about what it would cost for a ticket, popcorn and a drink during movie-going prime time for non-club patrons. (Actually, it’s less!) In words, it’s not a bad deal, especially if you have multiple people mulling around the TV set eating starchy foods while waiting to go outside again. Originally, Universal Pictures had big plans for an interconnected Dark Universe, featuring the studio’s various iconic monsters. Johnny Depp, in what would’ve been his…
15 Apr 2020
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First-time homebuyers get hung up in a prospective house in Vivarium, a weird thriller from director Lorcan Finnegan. Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) have a pleasant relationship and happy jobs—she’s a schoolteacher, and he’s a gardener. They decide to look for a house, and stop in at a small office manned by an extremely earnest salesman named Martin (Jonathan Aris). Martin invites the couple to immediately visit a model home in a nearby development; although they are slightly creeped out by his mannerisms, Gemma and Tom agree to accompany him. Big mistake. The model home turns out to be one house in a sea of identical, unoccupied houses—inside some sort of phantom, inescapable zone. After Martin unexpectedly leaves, the couple can’t find their way out; their path always leads back to the model home. With no choice, they eventually relent and inhabit the home. Regular food supplies show…
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…