CVIndependent

Mon12092019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

DVDs/Home Viewing

21 Nov 2013
by  - 
Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff play solemn brothers, quite convincingly, in The Motel Life, a solid adaptation of the critically praised novel by Willy Vlautin. Fans of the novel will notice some distinct changes, but the book’s themes of brotherly companionship and bad luck in life remain strongly intact. Frank Lee (Hirsch) is sleeping off his latest hangover in a seedy Reno hotel room when his half-naked brother, Jerry (Dorff), enters the room shivering and bawling: On a cold winter’s night, Jerry has accidentally run over and killed a boy, and he’s begging to get out of town. Frank hears the story, vomits and then agrees to take a drive. A string of bad decisions and actions follow, and a lesser film might’ve been too dark and depressing to take. Thankfully, directing brothers Alan and Gabe Polsky combine beautifully shot images with stellar performances to keep things rolling in a…
06 Nov 2013
by  - 
If you’re familiar with the Los Angeles music scene of the ‘80s, or you’ve ever watched an episode of Celebrity Rehab on VH1, you know who Bob Forrest is. The Thelonious Monster frontman is the subject of Bob and the Monster, a documentary just released on home video which details Forrest’s years as a drug-user, his recovery, and his transition to becoming a drug counselor. The documentary features interviews with an A-list of musicians including Gwen Stefani of No Doubt, Keith Morris of Black Flag and the Circle Jerks, Angelo Moore of Fishbone, Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction, and the members of Thelonious Monster, as well as a chat with Forrest’s Celebrity Rehab partner, Dr. Drew Pinsky. They all help tell the story of someone who has been to hell and back. The documentary starts off by examining Forrest’s childhood in Palm…
09 Nov 2013
by  - 
Birth of the Living Dead isn’t a typical horror documentary: It has George A. Romero as its subject, with his enthusiastic participation, and it examines the significance of his landmark zombie film, Night of the Living Dead. The movie focuses on the tumultuous period in which the film was made, its almost-accidental emergence as a civil rights film, the business people in Pittsburgh who put the movie together—and more. Romero offers so many new revelations about the movie that you’ll want to go back and watch Dead again for the hundredth time. Many of the actors in the movie, including the doomed brother at the film’s beginning, were also major parts of the film crew. I never knew the bug-eating zombie at film’s end was played by the same actress who also played the mother killed by her zombie daughter. After the credits, there’s a wonderful little 2007 interview with…
06 Nov 2013
by  - 
This week, we’re taking a look at the 2013 works of Mr. Ethan “Consistency Is Not My Forte” Hawke. Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) return for Before Midnight, their third movie after Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, and they remain as interesting as ever. After going to Celine’s apartment nine years ago in Paris, the two hooked up for good, with Jesse’s marriage ending. This third film in the series starts with an amazing scene between Jesse and his son (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) in an airport. It builds momentum until an emotionally exhausting ending (in a good way). The movie features Jesse and Celine talking a lot because, well, that’s what they do best. It also has Jesse and Celine going at each other in a hotel-room argument that’s so vicious, it’s scarier, by far, than anything in Hawke’s recent horror flick, The Purge. Director Richard Linklater gave us two…
02 Nov 2013
by  - 
Peter Landesman writes and directs Parkland, a film depicting a pastiche of events following the Kennedy assassination. Lee Harvey Oswald’s family, the doctors in the trauma unit, the Secret Service guys and Abraham Zapruder all get screen time in this sometimes-interesting but somewhat scattered drama. Paul Giamatti is the film’s best asset as Zapruder, a Kennedy enthusiast who is super-excited about the presidential visit and his chance to catch the event on his new film camera. Not nearly as interesting is Zac Efron as the doctor who worked on the dying Kennedy, and Marcia Gay Harden as a nurse. Billy Bob Thornton scowls a lot as a confused security agent, while Jacki Weaver is irritating as Oswald’s mom. Oswald, played by Jeremy Strong, is reduced to little more than a cameo. Had Landesman chosen to focus on fewer characters, this might’ve worked. As it stands, there’s too much going on.…
01 Nov 2013
by  - 
More John Carpenter Blu-rays! Hooray! On the heels of the Halloween reissue and the Prince of Darkness Blu-ray debut, we get In the Mouth of Madness, perhaps the most insane film the horror maestro has ever made. Sam Neill stars as John Trent, an insurance investigator who we first see restrained in a straitjacket and held captive in an insane asylum. The story then goes backward to show that John used to be quite sane and well-mannered before he found himself on a search for a missing horror novelist, Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow). The search takes him to the land of Hobbs End, a fictional setting from Cane’s novels. Or is Hobbs End real? Once there, he encounters Cane, discovers that he might only be a fictional character in Cane’s world, and rapidly loses his marbles. This film didn’t get a fair shake in its original release. Carpenter did the…
23 Oct 2013
by  - 
The latest film from director Guillermo del Toro is a bit dopey and soapy in spots, but it definitely delivers the thrills when big robots clash with big monsters. In the near future, huge beasts have started coming out of the ocean, making it hard to get a morning latte at the corner shop. The world comes up with a giant robot plan that works for a while—but then multiple monsters start attacking. Things start going wrong, and bad dialogue ensues. Yes, the script is a bit weak, but the action is stellar—and one of the scenes, in which a woman recalls a monster attack from her youth, is one of the year’s best individual sequences. The film tanked domestically, but did OK internationally—raising hopes that more robot/monster action could follow. Del Toro has confirmed that work has begun on a part two, but the project hasn’t been officially given…
22 Oct 2013
by  - 
This dark, dark 1973 Western was Clint Eastwood’s second directorial effort (after Play Misty for Me)—and man, oh man, does it contain some nasty stuff. The film works as an ode to Eastwood’s Sergio Leone spaghetti Westerns by taking the Man With No Name from those films, changing him into “The Stranger,” and giving his surroundings a more Americanized look. (Eastwood shot most of the film on a set constructed on the shores of Northern California’s Mono Lake.) Within minutes of rolling into the old Western town of Lago, The Stranger kills a bunch of men while getting a shave; he rapes a woman soon thereafter. In other words, he’s not trying to win any popularity contests. Eastwood ambiguously suggests that The Stranger could be the ghost of a man the townsfolk killed—or the devil personified. The Stranger, after displaying his powers with a gun, is coaxed into protecting the…
16 Oct 2013
by  - 
I just took a look at the new Blu-ray of John Carpenter’s Halloween, and now I am reviewing John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness. Hey, ’tis the season for John Carpenter films, right? Carpenter had a couple of disappointing studio-film experiences in the 1980s, so he made this 1987 film independently on a small budget. A priest (Donald Pleasence), a professor (Victor Wong) and some grad students head to an abandoned church. In its basement is a cylinder containing swirling green fluid that is somehow Satan himself. The cylinder starts squirting into people’s mouths and turning them into gory vessels for the devil. Carpenter hasn’t made a scarier film since this one. It’s horribly 1980s at times (Jameson Parker has an unfortunate hairdo and moustache), but Carpenter has a way with possessed humans that makes them scary and pathetic. This is his zombie movie, sort of. Chief among the film’s haunting…
15 Oct 2013
by  - 
I went to the San Diego Comic-Con this year (yes, I’m a geek), and Kevin Smith was going crazy about this movie from two young filmmakers that not only takes a different approach to the topic of high school bullying, but is also a new twist on the whole “found footage” phenomena. Big props to actor/director Matthew Johnson and his co-star, Owen Williams, for making a film that dares to be funny on its way to a completely dark finish. Johnson and Williams play Matt and Owen, two high school students and best friends who make movies together and try to get through a day without running into the high school bullies—the Dirties. We see Matt and Owen alternately playing around with different film genres, but their movie always takes a dark turn when the camera catches one of the Dirties assaulting them in the hallway or the cafeteria. Johnson…
11 Oct 2013
by  - 
The direct-to-video Curse of Chucky doesn’t quite get it right. The plot involves a Chucky doll being sent to the home of Nica (Fiona Dourif, the daughter of Chucky’s voice provider, Brad Dourif). Nica, confined to a wheelchair, becomes suspicious of the newly arrived doll when her mom and visiting family mysteriously die. Eventually, Chucky happily reveals he’s behind the bloodshed. This is mostly stupid, generic horror-movie crap. The doll looks pretty good, though, and Dourif delivers some fun vocal work. However, the best part of the movie comes after the credits and involves a quick cameo from a familiar Chucky-franchise face. It’s too little, too late. Special Features: A commentary with the director and stars, gag reels and multiple documentaries make this a good features package. You can also get the movie as part of the new Blu-ray package Chucky: The Complete Collection, which includes all of the Chucky…
08 Oct 2013
by  - 
Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, the final film from the famed British comedy troupe, is by far their nastiest. It was a shocking viewing experience 30 years ago, and it remains so today. After the successes of The Holy Grail and The Life of Brian, the Pythons apparently struggled to come up with a narrative for another film. Therefore, they wound up making a film about “everything,” essentially giving them a platform to go back to their sketch-comedy roots. The result is a scattershot adventure, with much of it making very little sense—but most of it being very funny. Sketches about birth, religion and death abound, and the Pythons didn’t hold back when it came to visual and verbal obscenity. The liver-donor segment is still one of the goriest and most-disturbing sequences ever put into a comedy, and it somehow manages to be hilarious. Hats off to Terry Gilliam…