FILM


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Another Earth | 2011 | Director: Mike Cahill | IMDB
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This is a film more about what isn’t there vs. what is, and I completely enjoyed it. The subtly of the science fiction aspect lets your imagination do most of the work. It is a movie about regret, redemption and leaves a lot of unanswered questions. I was left guessing and still thinking about what I would do if I lived in a world with another version of myself in it. There are very few characters in this film all played very restrained, believably and perfectly.

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This is a story of second chances and redemption. Another Earth has a raw look of the pain shared by two people on opposite sides of a situation. I really enjoyed it and the main female character couldn’t have been better. Imagine Another Earth.


Another Earth Trailer

 

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Attack the Block | 2011 | Director: Joe Cornish | Site | IMDB
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What would happen if aliens invaded South London? That is the premise of Attack the Block. A group of hoodies and punks take up arms to defend their block from an alien invasion. This is one of the best science fiction films in years. Writer / director Joe Cornish optimistically suggests that gangs, hoodies and other deviants would step up and fight for those that couldn’t fight on their block. I would like to believe this was the case, but regardless is extremely funny and entertaining.In the special features for the film the director revels part of the idea for this film came after watching the M. Night Shyamalan film Signs. In Signs you see potentially what cold happen if aliens invaded a rural American town. This made Joe wonder- “What would happen if aliens invaded south London.”?I absolutely loved the creature design. The aliens look like humanoid gorilla creatures with long arms and shark like rows of razor sharp fluorescent teeth. When you see the creature the only definition you can make out are the teeth. Everything else is pitch black. As if light could not escape the fur of the creature. This effect looked amazing and was nothing like I had ever seen before. You are able to see the creature and yet are not able to see it. Your imagination fills in the worst. Oh and they don’t have eyes. Which is always a creepy aesthetic when designing a creature. (see Guillermo del Toro)The kids in Attack the Block are perfect, hilarious and lovable. One of the best films of 2011.

Attack the Block Trailer

 

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Audition | 1999 | Director: Takashi Miike | IMDB
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How can you not love this movie? It is a modern horror classic with a huge payoff ending for horror lovers. This is one of my favorite Miike movies of all time. A nice slow burn of a film leading you in one direction then a perfect gore filled, life-changing ending. You will not forget this movie whether you like it or not. I like it.

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The first time I saw this movie was the first time I realized I loved Asian horror. The psychotic female character was fantastic and her obsession with needing to be his only affection scary on so many levels. Her high-pitched noises were and still are one of the scariest creepiest sounds I have ever heard.


Audition Trailer

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Bad Teacher | 2011 | Director: Jake Kasdan | Site | IMDB
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Bad teacher is the story of Elizabeth Halsey, played by Cameron Diaz, who is an Junior High school teacher fresh from a cancelled engagement more or less just getting by in her life and work. She is only motivated by the idea a breast enlargement will solve all her problems. Thus she strings together a series of events to get to that goal. I must admit I did have rather low expectations for this movie and I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of dark humor that ran through this film. The supporting characters played by Jason Segal, Lucy Punch (Cameron’s nemesis) and others really helped bring a slight ensemble feel to the film. This was not a great film but did offer a different story from what I was expecting. I anticipated the usual, character growth followed by some sort of redemption. While Elizabeth does slightly redeem herself each character shows their true colors from the very beginning only to have them amplified by the end of the film, which was refreshing.

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This movie is a routine Cameron Diaz romantic comedy but was actually funny. Diaz’s character wants to find a rich man to take care of her and until she finds him she is working as a junior high teacher. Jason Segel, Phyllis Smith (The Office) and Justin Timberlake round out the cast to name a few. There were a lot of amusing one-liners and Segel and Smith’s characters were my favorite. The movie definitely had it’s over the top moments but also had several times where I was surprised by how much I was laughing. This is a fun, light comedy but that is it. Also, Diaz’s roommate is played by Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) and I would have enjoyed it if they expanded on his character more.

Bad Teacher Trailer

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Beginners | 2010 | Director: Mike Mills | Site | IMDB
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This is a beautiful film. It is a superb story of love and loss and how similar they can be. The three leads, Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and Mélanie Laurent, are perfect in their roles and blend seamlessly together. I was surprised how poignant and reflective this film was, it was in rather stark contrast to the trailers. This story was loosely based on the life of the director, Mike Mills, and that definitely helped in conveying Oliver’s past. Most of the film deals with Ewan McGregor’s character, Oliver, struggling with his recent past and reflecting on growing up. You see how “love” has been taught to him throughout his life and compare it to what he is presently going through. I deeply enjoyed this very affecting and satisfying film.

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The trailer for this movie made it look like a comedy to me. It is far from that. There were many funny and cute parts in this film, but they were definitely outweighed by the sadness of loss and love. The entire cast was perfect and played very well together. The movie was a little drawn out at parts but was able to bring you right back in with the help of the actors. Definitely see this but have tissues. BTW I LOVE ARTHUR!!


Beginners Trailer

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Bellflower | 2011 | Director: Evan Glodell | Site | IMDB
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Bellflower is the story of two friends who spend their time building flamethrowers and weapons of mass destruction to prepare for the apocalypse until love and infidelity tears their world to pieces. The cinematography was gorgeous and each frame of the film could be a work of art. The director, Evan Glodell, wrote, starred in and built the camera for the film. Total cost for this film $17,000 – that’s right. For a first time director it is exciting to know there will be more from him in the future. This film isn’t perfect but I loved it. It was dark and beautiful and gives a unique perspective on what it is to be a man in the 21st century. I have never seen a film like this. Evan Glodell is the future of film.

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Two friends that have grown up obsessed with Mad Max and all things post-apocalyptic are the focus of this film. This movie surprised me in how much I was pulled in and enjoyed it. At first, I was not a fan of the two main characters and their acting. As the movie progressed the acting improved so much and was highlighted by the amazing cinematography. The writer, director and star of the film, Evan Glodell, built the camera himself. Glodell’s story is interesting enough that anyone should see this movie. I repeatedly said WTF while watching this and will watch this film again!


Bellflower Trailer

Bronson
Bronson | 2008 | Director: Nicolas Winding Refn | Site | IMDB
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Bronson is a semi-biographical film about Great Brittan’s most “violent” prisoner, Michael Peterson a.k.a. Charles Bronson. Michael Peterson was sent to prison in the seventies for robbing a post office of less than fifty dollars and because of his violent, reckless anti-authoritative behavior has spent over 30 years in jail, mostly in solitary confinement. Director, Nicolas Winding Refn (Driver and Valhalla Rising) does an amazing job bringing to life the alter ego of Bronson. As the years go on, fight after fight, riot after riot prisoner Peterson takes on the persona of Charles Bronson. He is a man to be feared and admired. This is an extremely stylized film and beautifully done. Of the three Refn films, Bronson is heads above my favorite. Tom Hardy is amazing as Bronson. His madness and awkwardness is a thing of beauty. His performance is to say the least mesmerizing.

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This film is based on Michael Peterson a.k.a. Charles Bronson, who is known as Britain’s most violent criminal. Bronson is a fictionalized biographical story, the lead being played by Tom Hardy. Hardy does an incredible job as the crazy character that is Bronson. I truly loved how director Nicolas Winding Refn chose to show Peterson’s real world contrasted to Bronson’s self-created fantasy world. Nicolas Winding Refn, who recently directed Drive, does an incredible job making something so ferociously violent so subtly intense through his actors. This film made me laugh, cry and wince at the numerous brutal fight scenes. Very reminiscent to what I felt during Drive. Refn is easily becoming one of my favorite directors. I highly recommend this movie as a must see.

Bronson Trailer


Best dance scene EVER!

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Certified Copy | 2010 | Director: Abbas Kiarostami | Site | IMDB
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I did not know what I was getting with this film but I am very happy I stuck with it. It is extremely well acted. Juliette Binoche was amazing and William Shimell was just as good. At a certain point in the film you will realize what is really going on and watching this movie is worth it for that experience alone. Very sweet, charming and a little mysterious. I feel like this was one of the best movies of 2010 and deserves a wider audience.

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You do get inklings of the twist in this movie early on but are still a little surprised when it all comes out. In this movie people keep fighting for something that may already be very lost. You start to realize you are walking down memory lane with these characters. You are left wondering what will happen.


Certified Copy Trailer

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David Cross: Let America Laugh | 2003 | Directors: Lance Bangs,
David Cross | IMDB

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David Cross: Let America Laugh is a documentary that follows comedian/actor David Cross during his 2002 comedy tour for his album Shut Up You Fucking Baby. This is one of my favorite comedy tour films. If you are fan of David Cross or of the “alternative” comedy scene there is a lot in this film for you. You are privy to hours of behind the scenes antics and encounters Cross faces throughout his tour. You get very brief snip-its from his act. Where Cross shines is in his interactions with his tour mates, fans and club owners. Other comedians have taped similar tour films but Let America Laugh, in mind, stands apart. It would have been hard to write some of the things that happen along the way. Highlights include getting kicked out of a club for going on a rant onstage about a shitty club owner, while still at his club, a Mr. Show autographing, David’s sister and of course Squagles. I loved this comedy documentary and it should be in the library of any comedy nerd.

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This is a behind the scenes look at David Cross’ 2002 comedy tour across the U.S. If you are a fan of David Cross, Mr. Show, Kids in the Hall or The State you will love this film. The on-stage and behind the scenes footage was hilarious and was accompanied by great music. I was not a huge fan of the ongoing skit in between cuts of the different shows. Which is why my score is not a 5. David Cross is hilarious and I will watch anything he is a part of.

David Cross: Let America Laugh Trailer

drive
Drive | 2012 | Director: Nicolas Winding Refn | Site | IMDB
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Drive is the story of a stunt driver / getaway driver who accidentally becomes entangled with the mob because of a woman. I loved Drive from the second it began. It was beautifully shot and scored. The art direction was beautiful and Refn’s style lended perfectly to the overall noir feel. Ryan Gosling was perfect in the role of Driver, saying very little but feeling extremely strong and in charge the entire film. It would be obvious in saying the chase scenes were great but that is not why I enjoyed this film. The characters were amazing. From Albert Brooks to Carrie Mulligan you really felt each character had their own story. Although their interactions were brief and not much was said you were still able to believe the intensity of their relationships. The ferocious violence coupled with the angelic electronic score helped to create a truly unique atmosphere in Drive. If I had to sum this film into one word it would be intense. You are constantly on the edge of your seat being teased with beautifully shot scenes unfolding in slow motion.

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Gosling plays a stunt car driver who on the side drives for petty crimes. He ends up falling for a woman (Carey Mulligan) and things begin to fall apart for him. The driving scenes and music in this movie were great. The cast was phenomenal and I was amazed by all the actors that were in this film. The Director, Isaac Refn (Bronson), does an amazing job with creating tension within his scenes and I was on the edge during most of this movie. I feel like the relationship between Driver (Gosling) and Irene (Mulligan) could have been explored a little more given everything he does to protect her. But I feel this was probably just what the director wanted. This is a definite must see.

Drive Trailer

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Erasing David | 2010 | Director: David Bond, Melinda McDougall |
Site | IMDB

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In Erasing David director David Bond attempts to answer the question how much information do companies and the government have on its citizens? While reviewing this information David attempts to disappear for an entire month whilst being pursued by two relentless private investigators. This documentary was very fun, thrilling at times and a little scary. Without spoiling too much David exposes some very interesting aspects of British government and their attempts at public surveillance. England has become a hot bed of governmental surveillance on its citizens and David does a brilliant job of shedding some light on the issue. Where this documentary really shines is in the cat and mouse game played by David and the private investigators. David hired two private investigators to attempt to find him for a month long period. I will not spoil if they catch him but it is thrilling and is the more entertaining section of the film. I wish the investigators had given up some more secrets to tracking, but I can understand why they didn’t. If you are concerned about your privacy but want to learn about it in a cheeky way you will enjoy Erasing David. (Sidenote: The private investigator’s company is Cerberus, aka the evil organization in Mass Effect, – I got a nerdy kick out of that.)

Erasing David Trailer

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Exit Through the Gift Shop | 2010 | Director: Banksy | Site | IMDB
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This is the story of Thierry Guetta, a French shop keeper turned graffiti archivist whose ambition to meet and film the notorious Bansky was fulfilled only to have the camera turned on himself. Exit Through the Gift Shop is one of my top favorite documentaries of all time. At its core it is a gift to the world in the form exposing the artistic movement of graffiti. While providing this it is also very funny, thrilling, heartwarming and somewhere in there is a lesson. A lesson to future filmmakers and artists alike. You get an inside look at Banksy, even if it is thru his interpretations of another “artist”. If you love art, street crime or are intrigued by Bansky you will enjoy this film. I loved it.

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This movie shows how a person can take a love or just obsession for a movement and totally disregard what the whole meaning of it is.  I have been a big fan of Banksy for over 10 years now so I was so excited to see a movie finally about this alluring street artist.  I was delightfully surprised to see how the focus was on Mr. Brainwash who I had not heard of before this.  The whole concept of this random man (Mr. Brainwash) and how he was introduced to street art and all of these amazing artists is enough to pull you in.  Just the shots of the street artists at work and the dangers of getting their art up is awesome in itself.  I really enjoyed this and have watched this about 3 times and know we will buy this and watch it many more. Definite must see documentary especially if you do not know much about the street art movement.


Exit Through the Gift Shop Trailer

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Girl 27 | 2007 | Director: David Stenn | Site | IMDB
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Girl 27 is the story of Patricia Douglas, an actress during the 1930s who in 1937 was attacked and raped at an MGM stag party that was disguised as a casting call. Director David Sten came across this story and contacted the reclusive Douglas to get her side of the story. It took numerous attempts over several months until he was finally able to get her to talk. For over seventy years Patricia Douglas never told anyone about the rape and dealt with the issue internally. Sten does a very good job of uncovering the details of the attack and everything MGM did to cover it up. He is successful in getting Douglas to finally come out with her side of what transpired leading up to, during and the years that followed the attack. The documentary was very well done but in my opinion fell just short of greatness. Getting professional opinions and contacting Douglas’ family helped bring her to life and show the type of person she was and ultimately what the attack did to her. However, it just wasn’t enough to push this film into greatness. I never really felt like I got to know Patricia Douglas or her family. It was a big victory in one person’s life and I wish that was explored a little more thoroughly. I really enjoyed this film despite its imperfections.

her_4_star_rating
Girl 27 tells the story of a movie extra from 1937 and how MGM Studios covered up her rape. Patricia Douglas was a dancer for MGM Studios who in 1937 was invited to and attended what she though was a film shoot. Little did she know it was a stag party for all of the MGM Sales Representatives. She would be brutally raped and blacklisted from Hollywood. MGM Studios made sure Douglas’ face was plastered on the cover of every newspaper and her “false accusations” known to the public. The director David Stenn did a very good job of finding out what really happened to Douglas. She did not tell anyone about that night for over 65 years, including her own daughter. Stenn tried contacting Douglas and at first she was resistant but he never gave up. Eventually she began to open up and her side of the story was heard. It is so unfortunate how the rape and cover up destroyed a woman’s life. Hopefully getting her story out there gave her peace in the end.

Girl 27 Trailer

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Hell and Back Again | 2011 | Director: Danfung Dennis | Site | IMDB
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Hell and Back Again is the story of soldier, Nathan Harris, who lead men into battle in Afghanistan, was shot, horribly wounded and has come home to heal and cope with life after war. Cinematically beautiful and thoughtfully edited, director Danfung Dennis, gives tremendously specific insight into the life and mind of a man home from war. Mostly consisting of honest and absorbing scenes shot very beautifully. There was one central aspect of this film that kept me feeling outside and came across slightly heavy-handed. During certain scenes of reflection the director decided to close in on the Harris’ face and fade into footage of war. Giving the impression at that very moment he was thinking about this specific time in Afghanistan. I felt the honesty of the solider interacting with his girlfriend and family contrasted with war was done well enough he did not need to insinuate what he was thinking about. It would be hard not to be moved by the soldier’s day-to-day life upon arriving home. It is vividly caught how heroic and life threatening his life was in Afghanistan. His adjustment to being home is extremely visceral. There was a strong drug abuse undertone to this film that I could not figure out if the director intentionally left out. It was that of the over medication of the soldier. He suffers life-changing wounds while at war and is heavily medicated as a result. It felt as though Harris was being intentionally portrayed as erratic and maladjusted to being home. Where as I felt like he was having reactions to being overly pain medicated. Perhaps the director did not know this or he was leaving this up to the audience to decide. I would hope he was attempting to capture life in all its complexity after a traumatic experience such as war. I only wish he chose to comment on how often soldiers arriving home are being overly medicated. Hell and Back Again deserves to be nominated for best documentary, although at times heavy-handed, it was beautifully shot and brings deserved attention to a national problem that needs to be dealt with. What does it mean to come home from war?

Hell and Back Again Trailer

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I Am Comic | 2010 | Director: Jordan Brady | IMDB
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I Am Comic takes a behind the scenes look at the life onstage and off of a comedian. Comedians of today and the past discuss their craft, techniques, why they do it and why they hate doing it. Being a very big fan of comedy I was pleased to see a lot of my favorites interviewed like Sarah Silverman, Todd Glass and Louis C.K. but I felt with a film like this director Jordan Brady missed a bigger opportunity to take advantage of the current resurgence in comedy. He gets a fair majority of the big comedy stars but I would have liked to see more from the booming alternative comedy scene. (like Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Brian Posehn or Pete Holmes) Don’t get me wrong it was definitely very funny but being a comedy fan already it left a little to be desired in getting into the mind of a comic. For beginning comedy nerds/fans this would be a great introduction to the comedy scene. Running parallel to the main storyline was the story of Ritch Shydner, former comedian trying to get back in the game. It was painful, heartwarming and charming to watch Ritch get some laughs and just as entertaining when he bombed. The opportunity to film Ritch get back into comedy arose from within the film itself and would have been a little tighter if we got a clearer picture of where he was headed and if he really pursued it. Hardcore fans of comedy will enjoy seeing some of their favorites talking about their art but won’t get much more then that.

I Am Comic Trailer

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If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front | 2011 |
Directors: Marshall Curry & Sam Cullman | Site | IMDB

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Nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary, If a Tree Falls, is the story of “Eco Terrorist” Daniel McGowen and the creation and destruction of the Earth Liberation Front. Through first hand interviews Daniel tells his story of being an average college kid turned activist to being arrested and labeled an eco terrorist. Very reminiscent of The Weather Underground, this film walks you through the creation of the Earth Liberation Front and through each act of arson and property destruction. Documentaries ride a very thin line of being exceptional, moving and causing awareness. If a Tree Falls manages to effortlessly fall on the right side of this problem. This film is able to bring you to understand both sides of the equation sympathetically. You are left feeling sorry for the businesses that suffered the wrath of the Earth Liberation Front while watching video after video of police and local law enforcement attacking and beating peaceful protestors. The E.L.F.’s issues were important and deserved to be publicly debated; but were swat down at every turn. The hypocrisy of each side has its points shown as well. A great sub-story to this film is the government’s destructive overuse and qualification of terrorism. It has become the government’s golden ticket for ridding the U.S. of anything it deems unlawful or having a strong opposing view. Daniel’s story will move you and rightfully hit you in the pit of your stomach. What do you do when the thing you love is being destroyed?

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This documentary gives you a rare behind the scenes look at the extreme environmental group the Earth Liberation Front. Its focus is on Daniel McGowan, a former member of the E.L.F. McGowen tells the story of what he is going through while possibly facing over two life sentences in prison. I thought this documentary was great because it really opens up the argument on what is considered terrorism and what a person would do to protect something they love and believe in. The Environmental Liberation Front set over ten fires in the American northwest. No deaths ever occurred. They made sure that nobody would be hurt. For all intents and purposes they were only trying to be heard. Due to the fact several other local environmental groups were getting pepper sprayed, beaten and arrested during their non-violent protests. The FBI gave the E.L.F. the label of “Eco-Terrorists” and tricked the members into confessing. Thus bringing the group down and arresting its members roughly 5 years after it had been dismantled. This documentary was well done and gave great insight into a group who was wrongly labeled as terrorists.

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front Trailer

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The Inn Keepers | 2012 | Director: Ti West | Site | IMDB
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The Inn Keepers is the story of the final weekend of the Yankee Pedlar Inn, where two employees are determined to discover if the hotel is haunted. I enjoyed this film but was left feeling a little let down. I enjoyed the director Ti West’s first film, House of the Devil, a great deal. Having built a lot anticipation for his next film I blame myself for being slightly disappointed. The two main characters in the film are great but that is where I felt my biggest disappointment. I wanted more from them. I wanted more of their story either backstory or interactions. There are some good scares and the film has great atmosphere. It’s a good old fashion scary story reminiscent of the Shining or Poltergeist. The director, Ti West, and the crew actually stayed at the Inn in the movie while filming House of the Devil where they experienced some unexplained phenomenon. I got the impression the film was slightly autobiographical which in turn made me like it more in hindsight. Definitely worth seeing, an all around good creepy film.

hers_3_stars
In the last weekend of the Yankee Pedlar Inn being open, two of the employees set out to prove it is haunted. This is the second film from the director of House of the Devil, Ti West. I feel like this movie could have been so much more. The acting just missed the mark and was very awkward. After learning how West came up with the idea to make the movie it made me enjoy it more and essentially give it a higher rating than I originally had. If you like Ghost hunting shows or just like haunted hotels definitely give this movie a watch. There is a twist at the end you may or may not see coming.


The Innkeepers Trailer

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Meek’s Cutoff | 2010 | Director: Kelly Reichardt | Site | IMDB
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Meeks Cutoff is the story of settlers heading west in 1865 through varied and harsh conditions while not knowing if they have lost their way. Every aspect of this film keeps you in-step and feeling akin to the characters in the film. Scenes are slow and deliberate and begin to drain you like the circumstances are draining its characters. The true wide-open west experience was fully captured by director, Kelly Reichardt. Vast open space – unimaginably huge spaces were contrasted perfectly with the trapped, lost and hopeless feelings each character begins to embody. Bruce Greenwood, who played Stephen Meek, was fantastic opposite Michelle Williams. I have never seen Greenwood play a role like this, and he did it flawlessly. The outgoing, perhaps a little crazy, “old prospector type” is alive in Greenwood. I am more used to him as the stoic captain or President type. Meeks Cutoff is slow and painful in parts; but overall a fine film and great depiction of the all too American travel west. The ending will leave you guessing?

hers_three_half_stars
This film is about a group of families traveling west, who have paid a guide to get them through rough terrain in 1845. The travelers end up lost when their guide, Meek, offers a shortcut. They begin to question if they will find their way before running out of water. The backdrop to this film is a desolate with little to no plant life. The land they shot the film on brings you to feel for these characters. Michelle Williams plays the female lead and was fantastic. I thought the story in this film was very good and probably close to being historically accurate. The fear of knowing you could die of dehydration in the middle of nowhere and there is nothing you can do is a strong driving point towards the end of the film. I only gave Meeks Cutoff 3.5 stars because I felt the film dragged on during several scenes and it just didn’t keep my attention. If you are fan of westerns you may enjoy this more than I did.

Meek’s Cutoff Trailer

Melancholia

Melancholia | 2011 | Director: Lars von Trier | Site | IMDB

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Melancholia is a planet newly entered into Earth’s orbit, threatening to collide and destroy it. More so it is the story of two sisters and their strained relationship.  Melancholia is my choice for best film of 2011. Beautiful, dark, romantic and perfect really… It would be hard to pick a more cinematically beautiful film. The first few minutes are the most beautiful and moving in any film I have seen in recent years. The score is matched with precision. It is beautiful, creepy and emotional.


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This movie starts out with such a happy moment in many people’s lives and reflects it as intolerable sad. The disintegration of the two amazing female characters draws you in. Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg are magnificent. The cinematography is always stunning in Lars Von Trier’s films, but this movie is exceptional. I highly recommend this movie; especially not being a huge Kristen Dunst fan I was surprised.


Melancholia Trailer

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Mystery Team | 2009 | Director: Dan Eckman | Site | IMDB

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Mystery Team is a comedy about three childlike teenage detectives who take on a murder case. If I were to give a one-sentence description of this film I would say it is the spiritual EXACT opposite of the Film, Brick. Even in the sense, Brick I loved -this I did not. While it does contain some great laugh out loud moments and a comedically great performance by Donald Glover, over all I was left unmoved to love it. The ability of the three leads to be so committed to the innocence, speech and body language of children was very impressive and doesn’t quite lose its ability to keep you laughing. Unfortunately, I’m glad I watched it but won’t be watching it again any time soon.


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This movie is a comedy that focuses on three guys who still act like little kids solving mysteries. They are given a chance to solve a murder and their childish personalities add to the whole style of this film. I am a big fan of Donald Glover from Community and that is the whole reason we watched this.  There were quite a few funny moments in this movie but I would not watch this again it was too over the top.


Mystery Team Trailer

Neds
Neds | 2010 | Director: Peter Mullan | Site | IMDB
http://warkitties.com/
This movie is about an exceptionally intelligent young boy in Glasgow named John whose situation is hard for him to escape. John is growing up in Scotland with an alcoholic abusive father and a brother who is deeply involved in gang violence. It begins with John trying to stay away from the gangs and to not be like his older brother. The downward spiral that occurs in this film is heartbreaking because you see how hard John was trying to avoid the footsteps of his brother. Through everything I was rooting for John no matter what he did. I could see what made him fall and felt so deeply for this character. This movie was written and directed by Peter Mullan who also plays the father and I must say he did an amazing job. This is a Scottish film with absolutely necessary subtitles. Their accents are so thick at times it comes across as a foreign language. This is a beautiful and sad film and I am glad I decided to watch this film I randomly found on Netflix.

Neds Trailer

Outrage
Nerdcore Rising | 2008 | Director: Negin Farsad
& Kim Gatewood | Site | IMDB

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Nerdcore Rising documents the first U.S. tour of MC Frontalot, the “Godfather of Nerdcore” and his group of eccentric, nerdy band mates. Much of the film follows Frontalot and his band from show to show gaining mild but continued support from Nerdcore fans. Interviews with “Weird” Al Yankovic, Brian Posehn, Jello Biafra and many others build a background on what it is to be a nerd and what that term has come to define. It is a very broad word and seems to cover anyone who has had their obsessions and eccentricities build a wall of social awkwardness and scrutiny. Almost everyone can relate to this and it was very poignant seeing how each artist has turned that aspect of themselves into something artistic and something to be proud of. As the film progress you get an almost complete understanding of the Nerdcore hip-hop movement, despite opposing viewpoints from artists in the Nerdcore movement and hip-hop artists. You get to see the very early stages of a band on the verge of something much bigger. Shows only half filled and unable to get interviews on college radio stations give insight to what determination it takes to succeed on any level. A small gripe I had was wishing the sound had been recorded a little better at the show. Being unfamiliar with MC Frontalot’s music I would have liked a cleaner better sounding first impression. Many documentaries suffer from this next issue. I found it extremely annoying in the last thirty seconds of the film there is a collage of articles and videos all quickly cut showing all the success MC Frontalot has had since his first tour. The entire film you are hoping and waiting for some break. It does come but without the payoff. This film is about the understanding and struggle of a genre newly formed but success of that struggle can be equally as entertaining.

Nerdcore Rising Trailer

Outrage
Outrage | 2011 | Director: Takeshi Kitano | Site | IMDB
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The latest film from Takeshi Kitano, a.k.a. Beat Takeshi, Outrage is the story of betrayal and backstabbing within a group of Yakuza families. Reminiscent of Infernal Affairs or The Departed Outrage deals with the leader of a major crime syndicate and his decision to destroy the drug trafficking arm of a competing syndicate. All through his long suffering subordinate. Takeshi Kitano stars in and directs Outrage. He manages however small the part to steal each scene he is in. You believe he is a man capable of anything and ready to explode at any second. The film is tremendously violent with an incredibly intricate storyline that unfolds throughout the film. Each section of the film is capped with an extremely violent death, one more gruesome then the next. As the backstabbing and true intentions are revealed the murder and violence ramps up to a rewarding finale. Outrage is one of Takeshi Kitano’s most violent films in years. Being extremely versed in Asian film, I did find Outrage slightly difficult to follow. It was difficult simply for the reason the plot was very elaborate and several characters had interweaving stories and deceptions going. For this reason alone it made it a little tough to follow the subtitles. By and large Outrage is a beautifully violent, character driven great Yakuza film.

Outrage Trailer

Paranormal Activity 3

Paranormal Activity 3 | 2011 | Directors: Henry Joost &
Ariel Schulman | Site | IMDB

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Paranormal Activity 3 is the origin story for the first two Paranormal Activity films. In the film young sisters Katie and Kristi befriend an invisible man named Toby that resides in their home. I did enjoy this movie; however it was my least favorite of the three Paranormal Activity films. There were some great scary moments and you are guaranteed to jump several times. If you are like us the best place to watch this and the previous two films will be in bed late at night. It adds to the atmosphere considerably and undeniably adds some points to the score. I felt that the scares came in this film a little too quickly and a little too heavy handedly. What really makes these types of films work is the sense of not knowing. Is this really happening or is it all in our heads? Paranormal Activity 3 makes the mistake of revealing too much too soon. The story reveals too soon that the things happening in this house are not the in the imagination of the characters, but something definitely more unsettling. As soon as you know something paranormal is occurring the insecurity and a are considerably alleviated. The problem I have with this is that once the ghostly antagonist is revealed anything goes. There are no more rules governing the horror. This takes me out of the film. What makes this type of documentary style horror work for me is keeping the threat ambiguous. Once you know where the threat is coming from it becomes less threatening. I wanted to be strung along a little bit longer before the scares were revealed. An aspect of the film I really enjoyed was the family lineage thread that is sewn through each film. It continued through this film and was one of my favorite, if only, plot points. The director and writers strategically and smartly continue what ultimately could be a great narrative throughout these films. The ending will surprise you, but may not frighten you as well as the previous films. You know what you are getting with Paranormal Activity 3, great scares and tension.


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Paranormal Activity 3, obviously, is the third installment in the Paranormal Activity franchise. This film gives you a look into the two sisters, Katie and Kristi, pasts and how their haunting began. Expectedly, this movie brought the usual jumps and scares that the past two films had. I did not particularly care for the ending of this film. The cheesy outweighed the frightening in the last 10 to 15 minutes. I did enjoy the idea they chose to make a movie to show you how it all began. I was never really scared watching Paranormal Activity 3, despite one or two screams, but I did have some pretty terrible nightmares afterward. Do watch this film; but not before going to bed.


Paranormal Activity 3 Trailer

Point_Blank

Point Blank | 2010 | Director: Fred Cavayé | Site | IMDB

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The opening scene cuts from black as a man crashes through a door, into a fence and starts running at full speed whilst being chase. It is almost non-stop action without the cost of plot, characters or emotion. The lead, Gilles Lellouche, was amazing as the protagonist trying to get his very pregnant wife back. The film leads you through some early twists that will shock you and pull you deeper into the story. Most thrillers will wait to about the last third of the film to lay some kind of twist on you. Point Blank gives you several right away and saves you from the later predictable twist ending, which compliments the story telling. The conclusion wraps everything up both believably and with a sense of violent karmic harmony. Break-neck paced and painfully suspenseful.


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Great French action film from the first scene this movie is non-stop action.  The main actor, who I first saw in Tell No One, is fantastic.  I was yelling at the TV at some scenes because the suspense of this movie had me held.  It’s a movie you can draw the lines too but you don’t really know for sure which way they will go.  A definite must see and if you haven’t seen Tell No One see it!!!!!


Point Blank Trailer

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Revenge of the Electric Car | 2011 | Director: Chris Paine |
Site | IMDB

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In the follow up to 2006’s, Who Killed the Electric Car, director Chris Paine goes behind closed doors at GM, Nissan and electric car start-up, Tesla, to understand the problems and resurgance of electric cars. During Who Killed the Electric Car the director took, or was perhaps forced, to take the outsider’s approach as to who was destroying the electric car industry. Revenge of the Electric Car has a completely different feel, aesthetic, outlook and style. You are the insider in this film. We have full access to the most important players in the electric car industry and get answers to most of our questions. This was a great follow up but felt like a completely different director and documentary. The three perspectives given through GM, Nissan and Tesla are amazing, detailed and profound. The majority of this film felt very doom and gloom. It seemed everything in the world, including it’s economy, was stacked against car makers, American car makers, specifically to make any sort of stand in the electric car industry. It felt like a huge system shock when the last ten minutes of the film becomes very optimistic. They offer optimistic statistics and leave you with the feeling each company is on the rise. I am curious why more of the film wasn’t dedicated to the uprising of these companies. This was a very good documentary but left me feeling a little unbalanced. Am I supposed to be optimistic for the future or weary the electric car will disappear again?

hers
Coming soon…

Revenge of the Electric Car Trailer

Septien
Septien | 2011 | Director: Michael Tully | Site | IMDB
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After disappearing for eighteen years Cornelius reappears back at his family’s farm to live with his two psychologically unhinged brothers. I will preface this with I was fairly excited to see this film and had slightly higher expectations going into it. I am a huge fan of Southern Gothic films like Shotgun Stories and Winter’s Bone subsequently I was excited for Septien. Sorry to say, I was very disappointed. The story was great and strange and dark like you would expect a good Southern Gothic film to be but it fell short on so many other levels. The dialogue and acting was sub-par. Even though I loved the aesthetic and style of each actor they all fell flat. So much so to the fact that the film was stolen by John Maringouin, the Preacher, who only appeared in about fifteen to twenty minutes of the film. Like I stated before the story or rather the idea of the story was fantastic. It’s a film about redemption, self-worth and being able to let go. Each character is stagnant and violently flawed and the ending builds to a fantasy hellish scenario where they must purge their former self in order to move forward. Although I did not care for this film as much as I had hoped the last quarter is superb and hits all the right notes. It ALMOST redeems the movie. If you have the time and patience I would recommend giving Septien a chance, if only for the finale.

Septien Trailer

 

The_Shrine
The Shrine | 2010 | Director: Jon Knautz | Site | IMDB
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The Shrine is about a young reporter trying to write a story about a backpacker that goes missing in a small eastern European town. She notices several people have gone missing in this area over the years and takes her boyfriend and another reporter with her to investigate. When they arrive in the village the townsfolk are less than welcoming and try to run the group of reporters out of the town. The acting in this movie could have been a lot better but obviously it was a low budget indie film. The end of this movie has a twist that I really did not see coming and was the redeeming factor for the rest of the film. I would not go out of my way to see this film, but if it’s on you may enjoy the twist.

The Shrine Trailer

 

Take_Shelter
Take Shelter | 2011 | Director: Jeff Nichols | Site | IMDB
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Suffering from apocalyptic visions a father and husband begins to prepare for an oncoming cataclysmic storm. All to the disbelief and concern of his friends and family. Take Shelter is one of my favorite films of 2011. Directed by Jeff Nichols, who also directed another one of my favorite films, Shotgun stories, starring the same lead Michael Shannon. Another foray into the Southern Gothic genre plus an apocalyptic twist. The cinematography was gorgeous. Wide expansive spaces look gorgeous and entirely ominous. Michael Shannon was completely shunned as a potential Oscar Nominee this year. He is tortured, broken and still strong enough to try and keep his family safe. A vivid picture is portrayed into the mind of someone with mental illness. What can you do if you think you might be having a psychotic episode and have a family history of mental illness? His situation is so intense and anxiety-ridden. You are rooting so hard for Curtis, Michael Shannon, the entire film. Never have I wanted the apocalypse to arrive in a film more then to prove Curtis isn’t crazy. I loved this film. The score was beautiful and builds slow tension that comprises most of the film and compliments the moments of terror. I will say no more then the ending will leave you speechless, fulfilled and guessing for days. SEE THIS FILM.

Take Shelter Trailer

This_is_England
This is England | 2006 | Director: Shane Meadows | Site | IMDB
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This is England is the story of a troubled boy growing up in England. After being bullied he befriends a group of skinheads that become his new best friends. He begins to come into his own, build his confidence, make good friends be it older. When the return of a former skinhead, fresh from jail, throws their group of friends into anarchy. Very well told and believable are the hardships of growing into a man after the loss of his father in the Falklands War. You can feel the ability of this group to mold and shape a young mind right on the cusp of manhood. It is this fine line the story and main character ride that fill the film with tension and suspense. You are prepared any minute for the child you have been hoping for will be swayed into leading a good life. But at any moment he could grasp onto a piece of something that could poison him. Very darkly shot. Acts unfold like you walked into the scene. Very real with a sensation it could have been shot with a handheld camera. This is England is an excellent film, reminiscent of Neds or American History X. The lead actor, Shaun, played by Thomas Turgoose was incredible. He was cute, charming, heartwarming and always seconds away from breaking your heart. Set in the early eighties, This is England is timeless. (Check out the This is England website – it has a lot of cool info about the film and actors and looks great thisisenglandmovie.co.uk)

This is England Trailer

Timecrimes
Timecrimes | 2007 | Director: Nacho Vigalondo | Site | IMDB
his_4_5_star_rating
A man finds himself pulled into a strange succession of events, which ultimately leads him to accidentally time travel and through a series of unforeseeable disasters. Timecrimes is a fantastic Spanish science fiction thriller from director, Nacho Vigalondo. You do not need grand special effects or even any special effects at all to be a great science fiction film and Vigalondo proves this in spades. You are escorted through the first third of this film-revealing clue after clue allowing you to happily predict what will happen next. This technique works out well by completely blindsiding you when Vigalondo leads the film away from where you thought you were destined to go. As Timecrimes went deeper and deeper into the mystery of what was unfolding I enjoyed the film more and more. The addition of layer upon layer to the story builds great pressure and apprehension. Including up through the ending, which was fantastic and thank god did not have a huge twist. The lead character, Héctor, was brilliant. He was able to portray several versions of himself more evolved each time and more in control. Streaming on Netflix now Timecrimes is absolutely worth watching or owning. (I love the Spanish title for Timecrimes – Los cronocrímenes – so awesome)

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This movie starts out with a man coming home to his wife who is in the backyard of their new home gardening. As he sits in the backyard taking in nature with his binoculars he sees something in the distance. This is one of the few strange and unexplained things that happen to the main character from the start. As the film continues on, it becomes very intense and suspenseful. The further into the movie you get you begin to understand what has happened and why it is continuing to happen. The main character Héctor played by Karra Elejalde keeps trying to repair what he has broken. The storytelling in this film is very smart and for the subject matter the film covers there do not seem to be any noticeable holes.

Timecrimes Trailer
(This trailer does containt SPOILERS- just a heads up)

tucker_and_dale_vs_evil
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil | 2010 | Director: Eli Craig | Site | IMDB
his_4_5_star_rating
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a spoof on the traditional backwoods hillbilly horror story. Tucker and Dale are a couple of lovable red necks heading through Appalachian-esc mountain woods to their vacation cabin. As a result of their looks and some accidental deaths all around them they are believed to be Deliverance-style sadist murderers. This is a horror comedy filled with tons of laughs and jumps. Not since Shaun of the Dead has a film of this style been made so well. Complimenting humor with scares and gore is a tough thing to do well and director Eli Craig does it remarkably. Lead actors Tyler Labine (Dale) and Alan Tudyk (Tucker) are brilliant as Tucker and Dale. You can’t help but fall in love with them from the very start. They are heartwarming, sweet, and funny and play naive to their outward appearance perfectly. Fans of classic horror and comedy will appreciate this film. The supporting cast is great as well. The majority of the supporting cast represents the douchey brainless group of friends that spend the weekend at a parent’s rural cabin. It’s been depicted before, and is just as enjoyable this time around. The only thing I would have changed is the obvious archetyping within the group of friends. They were absolutely douchey enough but it appeared as if the director picked specific social archetypes of a typical high school and had each character embody a persona from a group. You have the jock, the hot girl, the ditz, the indie kid, the stoner, the gangster, the probably gay kid, the bully etc. It felt more like a generality about social groups in high school then an actual group of friend’s hanging out. I couldn’t believe all these kids would hang out together. And quite possibly it was the director’s intent to form the group this way. I guarantee I am reading way too much into this, but it was the only aspect that slightly took me out of the film. The only other thought is I wish the film had some supernatural ending in the guise of Evil Dead. The film has parts reminiscent of the Evil Dead films (certain camera movements and the look of the cabin) but I was hoping for a nod or even a heavy-handed gesture to any of the Evil Dead films in the end. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is amazing and deserves a much wider audience.

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Sometimes it is easy to judge a book by its cover and that is what a group of college kids does when they see Tucker and Dale on their way to vacation in the woods. All Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) wanted to do was to fix up their vacation cabin and drink a few beers. Instead what they got was a bunch of college kids slowly dying around them. Tudyk and Labine were hilarious in their roles; they were very convincing and overshadowed the actors who played the college students. The actors who played the college students were over the top at times, but that is what this movie called for. This movie has the perfect amount of gore and comedy. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is great and I highly recommend this for anyone who loves horror movies and comedies.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil Trailer

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