Message From the King comes across like a combo of John Wick and a neo-noir crime flick, but doesn't really knock anything out in either arena. The action is average, and the noir part not much better. There is a lot of talent here in Chadwick Boseman, Alfred Molina, Natalie Martinez, and Luke Evans, but sadly even that cast can't bring the final product to a higher level.
One of the most hard hitting docs I have seen in a minute, while conversely delivering its punches with a light hand. South Bureau Homicide deals with the most violent sections of Los Angeles, the police who investigate the murders, and the community who are left to hold the pieces after tragedy rattles any semblance of solace. Directors Mark Burman and Mike Cooley present these stories as they are, covering in equal light the side of the cops who have to find these killers and the frustrated residents who are weary of the violence. The doc is only an hour and 18 minutes long, but there are numerous moments that will hit you in the chest and sit with you for a long time.
Its tough to do a movie about a real life killer and do it well. You have a lot of pressure to making a killer deadly without glorifying him, there are considerations to the victim’s families that are a huge factor. But done right, the final work can be gripping. 10 Rillington Place is one of those types of movies. It tells the story of John Christie and one of his particular heinous crimes involving Tim and Beryl Evans. Christie is played by Richard Attenborough with quiet malice, an intelligent psychopath who is terrifying without being cool, and I only say that last part because being deadly is so often depicted in a sensationalized light. Instead, he is just creepy here, which to me is appropriate. Making that creepiness so recognizable is no easy feat, but John Hurt runs right along with him, sensational playing the slow thinking Tim Evans in a role that could have been easily overdone. But Hurt’s chops are on full display here. There are moments when you feel like you can see the gears turning in his head as revelations slowly make their way to the forefront of his cranium, Hurt fully capturing how just because a man has lower IQ does not make them a cartoon. Its tough to do a movie about a real life killer and do it well. You have a lot of pressure to making a killer dangerous without glorifying him, there are considerations to the victim’s families that are a huge factor. But done right, the final work can be gripping. 10 Rillington Place is one of those types of movies. It tells the story of John Christie and one of his particular heinous crimes involving Tim and Beryl Evans. Christie is played by Richard Attenborough with quiet malice, an intelligent psychopath who is terrifying without being cool, and I only say that last part because being deadly is so often depicted in a sensationalized light. Instead, he is just creepy here, which to me is appropriate. Making that creepiness so recognizable is no easy feat, but John Hurt runs right along with him, sensational playing the slow thinking Tim Evans in a role that could have been easily overdone. But Hurt’s chops are on full display here. There are moments when you feel like you can see the gears turning in his head as revelations slowly make their way to the forefront of his cranium, Hurt fully capturing how just because a man has lower IQ does not make them a cartoon. It’s a very layered performance and one I will remember. As to the story being told, it’s a compelling one. The end result is just as relevant today with capital punishment, abortion, and criminal investigation techniques all under the magnifying glass here. 10 Rillington Place takes just a bit to get you locked in, but once it has you, it has you. As to the story being told, it’s a compelling one. The end result is just as relevant today with capital punishment, abortion, and criminal investigation techniques all under the magnifying glass here. 10 Rillington Place takes just a bit to get you locked in, but once it has you, it has you.
One of the few old school kung fu flicks that bends genres, that I have seen at least. Five former students of the Venom Clan who don't know all of each other's identities all seek to find a treasure hid by the clan leader. When the clan leader is nearing death, he sends a sixth student to find the other five and find out whose motives are with honor and whose aren't. Each student has their own style of fighting and expertise and the sixth knows all their styles, but is not on the level of any of the others. It all makes for a great mystery to go along with the top tier choreography. This is Chang Cheh's clinic on filmmaking.
With Kina at home
Not terrible, not great either. If you are in the mood for an old, 80s type of splatterfest, this will take you back to it. Its a fun trot for fans of watching people meet gruesome demises, and I can say I fall in that lot as long as there is some kind of story to go with it. And Terrifier offers up just enough of something to spin between the kill scenes with its psychotic clown on the prowl over Halloween. Its all very silly in its presentation, never taking itself too seriously which is fine enough for a single watch. Nothing I'd ever come back to though.
At home on Shudder
I have heard that Shudder has some decent offerings for original content. I was up late and this one was a little over an hour long, so I figured I would give it a spin. I really hope this isn't par for the course in what the young network has to offer. The Witch in the Window is bad in many ways. Its biggest flaw is just how boring it is. It has a long intro before it gets going--and I say gets going with sarcasm--kinda trying out one of those Deer Hunter numbers where you bond with the players in the first act. But I didn't really like that approach even in that classic, and Witch in the Window never makes up for that slow trod onward. It starts with a long look at a son spending some time with his oft-absent padre, the two trying to get the father/son bonding thing going while working on a house the dad is trying to flip. But its boring stuff and over its course you don't grow to care about either of these two. And when the "scary" part starts in, its all run of the mill, now you see the witch, now you don't type of action, inducing yawns and glances at the watch in an effort it will somehow get viewers to the ending. This could have got a 1 star save one very brief creepy moment in the middle that got past all the boringness and cliche horror tropes. Watch something else.
With Kina and Fudge at Kent AMC IMAX
Here are the things that were wrong with Endgame: Its unnecessarily long, it does not do the best job at intertwining non-Avenger characters into the story, and it has a few moments that are stretches even for a movie based in a universe where just about anything goes. Outside of that, its what we would expect from the grand daddy ending that everyone has been waiting for. There is great action, hilarious and heartbreaking moments, and what feels like true closure to the first book of the MCU. Very small gripes here, Endgame narrowly misses the mark of being one of the best MCU entries. Narrowly.
I wasn't a huge fan of Mystery Road, the movie which Goldstone is the sequel to. I did feel it had a lot of potential however with a good setting for crime noir in outback Australia and an equally interesting protagonist in Aboriginal police officer Jay Swan. Goldstone continues to highlight that director Ivan Sen knows how to shoot a movie, capturing the rugged beauty of the outback with stunning shots. The setting becomes a character in itself, the isolation of the universe Swan lives in breathing and exhaling from his quiet tough guy demeanor. When Jay shows up in a tiny mining town to look into a missing girl, he is soon under everyone's radar including the local constable, a shady mine boss, and the greasy mayor. His only ally seems to be a local elder who seems to know more about Jay then Jay does and as events play out, its equal parts a study in what made Jay into the outcast he is as well as what happened to the subject of his investigation. It makes for an interesting spin on the genre, even if it stumbles at times with wtf moments.
With Leilah at home
Oh, what would the MCU be if Norton hadn't pissed everyone off and gotten himself fired? Its an interesting question, one we will never know the answer to. One thing we do know is that The Incredible Hulk is the best film of the MCU origin stories.
With Kina and Leilah at Lakewood AMC
I don't know what all the naysayers are harping about. Captain Marvel keeps the MCU streak going as upper tier popcorn entertainment. Brie Larsen does a great job at showing she can kick tail with the best of the boys and Sam L. is a G as always. I feel its some kind of sexist even to compare it to Wonder Woman because they have nothing in common outside of being comic based and having female protagonists but if I have to, then I'll say Captain Marvel is easily the superior of the two. If you aren't a right wing jerkwad that can't get his head out of his ass and you like a good action film, then you should have a great time here. My gripes were small and center mostly on the climax and how it was executed, but they are small issues.
Gritty tale of a cop (Burt Reynolds) demoted to the vice squad in Atlanta after a bust goes awry. I don't know how this has never came across my radar before. I learned of Sharky's Machine reading an obit for Reynolds. Doing some background on the film, I learned that this was Burt's answer to the Dirty Harry series after he felt Eastwood crossed into his territory with Every Which Way But Loose. Sharky's Machine is no Dirty Harry. Nor is it on par with Body Heat which is another one it seems to oft have been compared to. But it has some of the character of both films and does it best to hold court. There are some ridiculous things that sink it (ninjas in karate suits working for Latin drug kingpins??) but it does have some good things going for it as well, the highlight of which is the chaotic chemistry between Reynold's Sharky and his vice squad. That interaction feels genuine and helps hold the rest up when needed.
With Kina at home
I must admit that when I heard who was behind this return to my beloved Halloween franchise, I had an eyebrow cocked. Danny McBride, known for a career of goofball comedic relief and David Gordon Green, a director who has had some good stuff but nothing I have seen that was anything like a slasher. In all honesty, I expected bad things. But while nowhere near perfect, this direct sequel to the original is a pretty fun ride for fans of the series. The first half pretty much pays homage to the 1978 classic, recreating some of its most memorable scenes with a new modern take. And the second half takes off on its own, finishing in a satisfying climax that was pretty dang commendable. Rob Zombie, eat shit.
With Kina at home
Searching is an interesting achievement in the manner of which its events are captured on the screen. The entire movie is told through a computer. From emails, Youtube videos, live streams, Facetime chats, everything is told via a digital interface. The story revolves around a father (John Cho) whose teenage daughter has gone missing. In his efforts to find her, he scours through emails and video blogs she has posted, learning more than he ever knew about her as he tries to track her down. There is a lot to push aside while watching Searching. But while culpability gives way to the unique presentation, it isn't over the top enough to ruin the thriller. I was actually pretty locked in throughout most of it, grasping on to a sort of Hitchcockian type feel with a modern cyperspace twist woven into the fabric. Cho proves that he can play the leading man with ease. I have always been a fan of his acting chops and I hope Searching opens up some doors for him. Kudos also go to Michelle La, showing a nice range as the missing girl as she hides her angst from her dad in moments caught on old video files. Debra Messing was not as impressive playing the lead investigator in his daughter's case. It felt at times like she was phoning it in a little, maybe not used to playing to a webcam. Still, props to director and writer Aneesh Chaganty for putting together a mystery with such an interesting lens.
With Kina, Marq, and Bella at Bellevue Air BnB before Bella left for Australia
Saulnier is definitely on my to watch list. I loved Blue Ruin and think Hold the Dark looks pretty good. Green Room however carried some serious buzz with it and I must say I was a little disappointed. Its beautifully shot but the road from beginning to end hits some questionable patches which hold the piece up from being great. I love Patrick Stewart as much as anyone else but I also was underwhelmed at his heavily hyped role as a skinhead bigwig trying to clean up after his goons create a bloody mess in front of a travelling punk rock band. Any of you guys wonder why William Hurt got so much props for his quick role in A History of Violence? Kinda the same deal with Stewart here for me. Oh well. Saulnier still knows how to fuck people up on film and there was a whole lot of that type of fun here that kept me dialed in.
Average rating: 6.5