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Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

DVDs/Home Viewing

13 Feb 2018
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Netflix’s When We First Met doesn’t have an original bone in its body. Wait … movies don’t have bones in them. They are made from celluloid. Actually, movies are mostly digital now, so they don’t even have the film stuff. They are just computer megabyte things that are easily manipulated and … OK, bad comparison. Let me start over. This movie isn’t the most original thing you will see. In fact, it rips off a lot of movies (Groundhog Day, Back to the Future, Every Rom-Com Ever Made). Yet … I will recommend it thanks to the charm of its leads: Adam DeVine, Alexandra Daddario and Shelley Hennig. DeVine plays Noah, a goofy but sweet guy who meets Avery (Daddario) at a costume party. They hit it off, but he winds up in the friend zone, and watches her wind up with another man (Robbie Amell). Through the movie magic…
05 Feb 2018
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Originally planned for an April theatrical release, the third Cloverfield movie got a surprise release on Netflix immediately following the Super Bowl. While I’m a big fan of the first two installments in the Cloverfield series, J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot production company are kidding themselves by referring to The Cloverfield Paradox as a legitimate chapter in the Cloverfield universe. The Cloverfield Paradox was originally a project called God Particle, a standalone science fiction film directed by Julius Onah. Somewhere during production, Bad Robot decided to make it a Cloverfield film. How is it a Cloverfield film? A few short, badly constructed scenes are shoehorned into the narrative, including a 10-second final shot that feels like a total cheat. They did this sort of last-minute tinkering when they made 10 Cloverfield Lane, and that resulted in a good movie. This one results in a muddled mess. The plot involves…
31 Jan 2018
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When Doug Kenney died in 1980, he took a legendary comedic pedigree with him. It’s safe to say there was nothing like Animal House and Caddyshack before or after their releases. Kenney, one of the founding fathers of National Lampoon magazine, co-wrote both of those films. (He also produced Caddyshack.) David Wain, the master comedy director of such wonderful things as Wet Hot American Summer and Role Models, gives the legend of Kenney a slightly uneven but ultimately enjoyable tribute with A Futile and Stupid Gesture. The movie chronicles Kenney’s everlasting contributions to American comedy, with Will Forte delivering strong work as the humor maestro. The movie covers events from the late 1960s, when Kenney attended Harvard, through 1980, when Kenney either fell or jumped off of a cliff in Hawaii shortly after the release of Caddyshack. His little golf movie took a critical shellacking upon its initial release, something…
23 Jan 2018
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Parents start killing their kids for no reason in Mom and Dad, an inconsistent horror-comedy from writer-director Brian Taylor. Brent (Nicolas Cage) and Kendall (Selma Blair) are married with two kids, one of them rebellious-daughter Carly (Anne Winters). Brent and Kendall are having some difficulties dealing with middle age, and Kendall is struggling with a loss of friendship from Carly. When an unexplained wave of hysteria takes over and causes moms and dads to turn on their kids … Brent and Kendall join in. If you are looking for a vehicle in which Cage gets to go off, gonzo-style, you might find yourself enjoying this one. He has a moment when he destroys a pool table with a sledgehammer that’s vintage nuttiness for him. Blair delivers a strong performance as a woman who is losing touch with herself and isn’t quite sure why she still goes to workout classes. The…
15 Jan 2018
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Even if you are a David Letterman fan, let’s face it: You probably decreased your viewing of his Late Show in the final years of its run. As with most late-night shows, you caught some glimpses of it the next day in video snippets—but without a concentrated viewing of Letterman doing his thing. Letterman’s new Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, is a blessed reminder of how damn good of an interviewer the man is. The show is slated to be a monthly program, featuring an hour-long interview. The format loses the desk, the set and the band (although Paul Shaffer does provide the theme music). The result is marvelous. The first guest of the initial six-month run is some unemployed guy named Barack Obama, a charming, funny, well-spoken guest who Letterman clearly admires. Obama does not directly attack the current president, but he sends…
09 Jan 2018
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English-import limited series The End of the F***ing World, based upon a dark comic book, is as insane as TV generally gets. If you like your humor dark, dark, dark, this will suit you just fine. Jessica Barden (The Lobster) and Alex Lawther (Black Mirror) are incredible as Alyssa and James. Alyssa is the new girl at school; Alex is the strange kid who sits alone in the cafeteria, fantasizing about one day killing a person. Alyssa walks up to him and immediately qualifies herself as his potential first murder (not counting a slew of animals in his backyard). He fakes being interested in her, and they go out on a few dates, while James secretly fantasizes about slitting Alyssa’s throat. This is not your average set up for a standard rom-com, now, is it? Somehow, these two performers not only pull off the premise; they do so in grand…
03 Jan 2018
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Dave Chappelle solidified his claim to the title of Best Working Standup Comedian by dropping not one, but two standup specials on Netflix on New Year’s Eve. The first, Equanimity, is a little longer and takes place in a standard concert hall with a large audience. The second, The Bird Revelation, is more like a town hall, with Chappelle seated in a more-intimate club and smoking a cigarette (as opposed to the vape pen he constantly hits in Equanimity). With each puff of smoke he blows into the closer-than-usual front row, he becomes more unapologetic with his sharp comedy. The sets, although presented in two different fashions, combine for close to two hours of fantastic comedy. (By all means, watch them in a row.) Chappelle addresses his good-luck wishes to Donald Trump the night he hosted Saturday Night Live about a year ago. He also, in a roundabout way, talks…
18 Dec 2017
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Now that we don’t have Louis C.K. anymore, I’m looking for some reliable folks to bring the self-deprecating funny. Judd Apatow got some consistent laughter out of me with his new standup special, Judd Apatow: The Return. Apatow—producer and director of comedy gold such as Knocked Up and Trainwreck—was a standup comic before he broke into movies. He’s indulged himself now and then over the years with occasional gigs, but this is the first time he’s actually filmed it. He’s actually quite good—often very good. Memorable bits include his experience on a daughter date; arguments with his wife, Leslie Mann; and throwing out the first pitch at a Mets game. He actually uses photos as part of his presentation, and the one of him letting go of that first pitch is comic gold. Most memorably, Apatow uses photos to tell the stories of his meetings with President Barack Obama and…
13 Dec 2017
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With the release of the Golden Globe nominations comes the yearly opportunity to talk about the stupid, shitty snubs that make the Globes a joke. High atop this year’s WTF? list would be the snubbing of one Jake Gyllenhaal for some of his career-best work in Stronger, the story Jeff Bauman. Bauman lost his legs to the asshats who set off bombs at the Boston Marathon—and he managed to get a glimpse of one of the attackers before the explosion. At the time of the marathon, Bauman was sort-of on hiatus from on-again, off-again girlfriend Erin Hurley (Tatiana Maslany). In an effort to win her back, he promised to show up at the finish line to cheer her on as she completed her great personal journey. What should’ve been a triumphant moment wound up being a terrible tragedy. Directed by David Gordon Green, the film is a story of strength…
06 Dec 2017
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There are actors who are difficult to work with … and then there is Jim Carrey. Carrey took difficulty to otherworldly levels behind the scenes of 1999’s Man on the Moon, the Milos Forman-directed biopic of Andy Kaufman. Carrey, who played Kaufman, decide to go method, and insisted upon remaining in character as Kaufman every second he was on set, or even near the set. The documentary Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond, directed by Chris Smith, features an extensive interview with Carrey, along with long-hidden footage of Carrey’s antics during the production. One of the highlights takes place when Carrey, as Kaufman, spits on wrestler Jerry Lawler. Lawler had a legendary (but staged) feud with Kaufman back in the day, and Carrey tried to build upon that. Carrey also got his ass kicked, which you will see in this movie (along with the aftermath, during which Carrey momentarily insisted…
28 Nov 2017
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Director and co-screenwriter Dee Rees paints a bleak picture of post-World War II Mississippi in Mudbound, a performance powerhouse that showcases the talents of Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke and, most notably, Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton). After the war, a traumatized Jamie McAllan (Hedlund) returns home to stay on a farm with his brother, Henry (Clarke), and Henry’s wife, Laura (Mulligan). Ronsel Jackson (Mitchell) also returns to the farm, but while both men were regarded as heroes overseas, their return is fraught with alcohol abuse for Jamie—and rampant racism toward African-American Ronsel. Henry and Laura have problems of their own as they deal with the troubled Jamie and Henry’s hateful father, Pappy (a sinister Jonathan Banks). This is one of those movies you know won’t end well, and while Rees allows for occasional moments of relief, it is a mostly somber affair with a devastating finish. Mitchell continues…
20 Nov 2017
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Robert Pattinson continues his daring post-Twilight career with his best role yet in Good Time as Connie, a small-time crook who gets his mentally handicapped brother, Nick (Benny Safdie, who co-directed the film with brother Josh), imprisoned on Rikers Island. The movie is a dark and twisted adventure as Connie tries his darndest to free his brother from prison and take him far away from society. His efforts include pulling the wrong guy (Buddy Duress) out of a hospital; Connie thought the guy was his brother, but he’s actually a messed-up dude who jumped out of a moving car while on acid. He turns out to be an unreliable accomplice as they try to recover some lost drugs, intending to sell them and post bond for Connie’s brother. Things don’t go according to plan. The film plays as a nice homage to Martin Scorsese without feeling like a rip-off. The…