Bone Tomahawk

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Title: Bone Tomahawk Genre: Western, Horror MPAA Rating: R Year: 2015 Director: S. Craig Zahler, known for being a relative newcomer. Top Billed Cast: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins Brief Synopsis: When the town doctor falls into the hands of canniballistic indians, The Sheriff and his men must rescue her. My Word to the Wise: If gore ever fit masterfully into a well-acted Western, this is such a place. Fans of either or both should see this film.

The rest of this review may contain spoilers.

It’s highly likely that relative newcomer writer/director S. Craig Zahler creamed his jeans when he was able to cast Kurt Russell as the lead role in his film. In the same year, darn near the same month of release, Quentin Tarantino’s hit “The Hateful Eight” came out with Russell as one of its lead players. That film has done extremely well for Tarantino and I predict “Bone Tomahawk”will match that success.

Kurt Russell plays a sheriff and he isn’t the only well known actor that is well cast. Highlights for me were: Matthew Fox, known for “Lost,” Richard Jenkins, who I will always remember as the sad sack in “Eat, Pray, Love” though he’s in a ton of films, and David Arquette as Purvis. Please take note of the huge cast of very good actors in this film.

I’m a Western junkie from way back. Probably the first modern one I went crazy over was Tombstone, which yes also starred Kurt Russell. This one starts out gory and pretty much weaves that particular throughout. If you were setting out to make a gory Westsren, it would certainly make sense to write your own story around cannibalistic indians. This new director did just that and lest we forget, Tarantino usually wears both hats as well. If you’re a western buff like me, go see this movie! If horror is more your thing, same applies to you. If you like both genres, you’re in for a treat. Get the largest  Coke they sell, a huge popcorn, a date is always nice and enjoy the huge entertainment of this film.

The Island (2005)

The Island (2005)
PG-13 | 2h 16min | Action, Adventure, Romance | 22 July 2005 (USA)
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A man living in a futuristic sterile colony begins to question his circumscribed existence when his friend is chosen to go to the Island, the last uncontaminated place on earth.
Director: Michael Bay
Writers: Caspian Tredwell-Owen (screenplay), Alex Kurtzman (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Ewan McGregor, Djimon Hounsou

Michael Bay directed this little gem of a film. As a result, there are some sparkling visuals and truly exciting chase scenes. He obviously spared no expense in the special effects. Just like the Transformers films, there is metal and glass flying all different ways. The stunts are utterly fantastic. But this isn’t a Transformers movie. It has a deeper level to it. It’s a story about what might happen if people were born and raised to be harvested for organs.

The main actors here are Ewan MacGregor and Scarlett Johanssen. Both do an amazing job playing these people who are born and raised to have their organs harvested. The story evolves and adds much detail beyond that but you have the basic premise. There are lots of futuristic settings and scenes which is exciting. It’s a sci-fi film in addition to action, drama, thriller, and suspense. I think it’s safe to say there is a lot of good here. Unfortunately the film stays an action film and never really gets deep into what is happening in the organ harvesting. There is no back story and I kept wondering why the public would allow such a thing.

Action and sci-fi fans will still entertained by this movie. The deep premise makes you think and provides the backdrop for an awesome movie. be highly

8/10

Gerald’s Game (2017)

Gerald’s Game (2017)
TV-MA | 1h 43min | Horror, Thriller | 29 September 2017 (USA)
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While trying to spice up their marriage in their remote lake house, Jessie must fight to survive when her husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her handcuffed to their bed frame.
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Stephen King (based on the novel by), Jeff Howard | 1 more credit »
Stars: Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas, Bruce Greenwood

Mike Flanagan has proven himself a strong thriller and horror movie director. His early strong work was Hush and most recently, he wowed horror audiences again with Ouija: Origin of Evil. This Netflix movie follows suit, he has done an amazing thing here.

Flanagan too a Stephen King novel and created this horror film. I can call it horror even though horror aspects don’t show up for quite a while in the movie. You may question it yourself but trust me, when you watch it, it will be revealed.

The acting is top notch. You have Carla Gugino as the wife inadvertently drawn into a “Fifty Shades of Grey” sort of game. She is the star of this film. Her acting is 100% from the gut and I believed in this character because of her. At times it was like Cast Away, a woman trying to survive all by herself. At other times, she was a tortured child working through her demons. And then there’s the dark character that keeps showing up. You just get a feeling he is going to have a greater part in the big picture. Bruce Greenwood is her asshole husband although we aren’t clear on just how much of an asshole he is because most of his parts are created in his wife’s mind.

The final 1/4 of the film is the best part. All is revealed and a lot of your frustration as a confused viewer is assuaged. The final scene feels so much like a Stephen King movie I just can’t explain how much. It works on many levels. You may get bored at first but persistent audiences will be rewarded. It should have moved a bit faster though in my opinion.

8/10

Contact

Contact was the first film to really take on extra dimensionality in space exploration. It was written by the master Carl Sagan himself so right there you know it’s worth watching. (Also there’s the fact that 2 original Alien cast members are in it) It’s the screenplay however that made me say to myself “Out damnned spot” many times while watching the thing, not the concept nor the cast.

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Though the drama side of it is tedious and at times a laborious crawl, the concept and visuals in the last 1/4 make up for that. From space enthusiasts to backyard star gazers, this is a winner you shouldn’t miss.

Jodie Foster would have been an excellent choice as a wife for me. I know, she has married already but I definitely feel a kinship with her. She is amazing in the late seventies show Freaky Friday and I have admired all her work since then. She is amazing in Contact. There are some truly gripping scenes between her and her father that would make a grown man cry (well, they kind of did). If you must know the part, leave a comment and I’ll tell you 😉 Speaking of notable moments, the opening of this film could be a powerful short on its own. It travels out into the solar system’s reaches, beyond, and into other systems as recorded by Hubble. It’s really well done. It’s the kind of this you could have on infinite repeat as you’re waiting for guests to arrive at your home party. (scroll down for the video)

This film was Robert Zemeckis’ brain child. After Back to the Future, what can a director do, right? He did Romancing the Stone as Well that burst Kathleen Turner onto the scene. Who, by the way I would accept as a third wife. I hope my wife doesn’t read this, although recently she shared she had a thing for the guys in Peaky Blinders. Well? To each her/his own. Anyone who says Kathleen Turner wasn’t high grade hot in Peggy Sue Got Married might not have a pulse. But I digress …

That leads me to Matthew McConaughey, who I am doing a podcast about this week to be aired soon. He’s great, that’s it. I could complain he tries to be a heart-throb and achieves in being a something else throb but I won’t. He is a priest of sorts in this. A man of the cloth who has lost his way in modern science and astronomy. He is the voice of faith on the main character’s shoulder. Don’t worry, it isn’t done in a packaged, Biblical God sort of way. It’s more an issue of faith. There is a sort of transformation in her as a result of Matthew McConaughey’s character. It was less than moving for me but I imagine Bible thumpers who are somewhat open minded will find it deep and astounding. I on;y say that because that used to be me. I’m more interested in the idea of the space travel and again, the visuals in the last 1/3 of the film. I have yet to see something that terrifying and touching at the same time. AND it’s not really fast, Zemeckis stretches the experience so we can really develop an idea of what it happening.

This is a remarkable film that unfortunately tries a little too hard to be an amazing dramatic piece. I think it could have been half as long if it avoided a lot of that and stuck with the special effects and the theories about “life out there.”

I give it a 7 out of 10 because while great sci-fi, it languishes in misplaced drama writing a good portion of the film.

Instead of a trailer, here’s that opening scene I told you about. Enjoy. Do you think I’m more right or wrong about this film? Please leave me comments with your opinion! This would be a great film to discuss right here!

Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Produced by Robert Zemeckis
Steve Starkey
Screenplay by James V. Hart
Michael Goldenberg
Story by Carl Sagan
Ann Druyan
Based on Contact
by Carl Sagan
Starring
Jodie Foster
Matthew McConaughey
James Woods
John Hurt
Tom Skerritt
Angela Bassett
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Don Burgess
Edited by Arthur Schmidt
Production
company
South Side Amusement Company
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures

Long Nights Short Mornings (2016)

Long Nights Short Mornings (2016)
1h 40min | Drama, Romance | 24 January 2017 (USA)
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An examination of the romantic life of a young man in New York City and his sometimes fleeting, sometimes profound experiences with the women he encounters.
Director: Chadd Harbold
Writer: Chadd Harbold
Stars: Shiloh Fernandez, Ella Rae Peck, Paten Hughes

Upon first look, this seems like a romantic comedy, a fling of a playboy with several women. As you get deeper into it though you see this is not a nice guy. Women are like stepping stones into the nothing that is his ever elusive future. Director Chadd Harbold seems interested in manhood and what it’s all about. By the way, he is also writer and producer on this. I saw this film because it was on Netflix. I am not sure it was ever in a theater.

The protagonist is a hot guy and I think a lot of women would love to go out with him. When he’s done with them, he’ll do whatever he can to push them away. It’s that behavior that makes it interesting to me. I kept wondering what he would do as he went to the next one again and again and so on and so on. Frankly, that was never my life. I was never devastatingly handsome and able to string women along. I found this film a little dull and hard to relate with I guess for that reason. I learned when you love someone you should hold on. I’m not sure what the message of this film is.

4/10

Pan’s Labyrinth

Pan’s Labyrinth has more creatures than Star Wars and a historical story that will have you ranting and raving from your seat. Sometimes the scary creatures we fear become our salvation and the humans we trusted become our curse.

pans_poster-1479440This film is a monster feast for the eyes. Guillermo del Toro takes us into a child’s imagination of horror and art. It’s been called by the director the “sister” film of The Devil’s Backbone. Both are about children in the ghost world and both take place in the Spanish Civil War. It differs in how there are faeries and fauns instead of ghosts. This might make it a fairy tale. No, it’s much more than that. This film may be dark in hue but it shines as a spectacle accomplishment of cinematic art.

Like Backbone, this is more a drama than a horror film. There are more scary moments here than in the other but it is meant to create a sense of another world:

“In 1944 falangist Spain, a girl, fascinated with fairy-tales, is sent along with her pregnant mother to live with her new stepfather, a ruthless captain of the Spanish army. During the night, she meets a fairy who takes her to an old faun in the center of the labyrinth. He tells her she’s a princess, but must prove her royalty by surviving three gruesome tasks. If she fails, she will never prove herself to be the the true princess and will never see her real father, the king, again.” -IMDB
Her real father is the real horror here. She goes to the labyrinth to escape him and reality. We see 2 competing worlds throughout the film. She must learn to not be afraid and to make a new paradign shift to understand where the dead stand in regards to the living. When you fear your mortal surroundings, animal and insect company seems preferable.

This adorable young girl somehow survives the hateful acts of “The Captain,” her stepfather. She is a hero for this. I felt it was saying when war is all around one, that one might lose her/himself in a hobby or discipline. Could it be that our protagonist has such a strong imagination that she sees the faun with other lovely, haunting creatures? This is just one interpretation of this film. It’s an entrancing film and I recommend it to all who read my blog. A classic for sure.

Riley on Film grade: A

STARRING: Ivana Baquero, Doug Jones, Sergi López, Ariadna Gil, Maribel Verdú, Álex Angulo, Roger Casamajor, Sebastián Haro, Mina Lira, Federico Luppi, Ivan Massagué, Chema Ruiz, Manolo Solo, Milo Taboada
DIRECTOR: Guillermo del Toro
STUDIO: Picturehouse
RATING: R (For intense violence and language)
LANGUAGE: In Spanish with English subtitles

House on Willow Street (2016)

House on Willow Street (2016)
From a House on Willow Street (original title)
Unrated | 1h 30min | Action, Horror | 24 March 2017 (USA)
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After a young woman is kidnapped, her captors soon come to realize that in fact they may be the ones in danger and this young woman has a dark secret inside her.
Director: Alastair Orr
Writers: Catherine Blackman, Jonathan Jordaan | 1 more credit »
Stars: Sharni Vinson, Carlyn Burchell, Steven John Ward

Director Alistair Orr did a decent job with this horror flick. He looks young in his IMDB photo so I am sure he will improve. As it was, I felt like I was watching a predictable made-for-tv type horror film. The actors are also new to the craft. The lead does a good job but the whole thing is just uninteresting. It doesn’t make me feel for these people. It is kind of interesting that they are robbers. Of course, we shouldn’t care for robbers. BUT, the problem is when they get into the satanic demonic stuff. A priest has no power over a demon? Hmmm. OK.

There’s no big takeaway here. You walk away from this the same way you go in. It’s a robbery gone bad and the reason it fumbled was because the house was filled with demons. Not much here innovative or new. For that reason, I give it a

5/10