Gone Girl (2014) – Review

2 Stars

An astute master craftsman’s befuddled love letter to the two directors he loves most: Alfred Hitchcock and David Fincher. The resulting movie, taken from the book by Gillian Flynn and interwoven with the director’s almost trademark nihilism, is watchable for the first 45 minutes or so, until ludicrous plot turns and genuinely unlikable characters cave the story in on itself. It’s tempting to dismiss Gone Girl as topical sensationalism. But Fincher’s film is too meticulously crafted to write off as mere exploitation. Unfortunately, it’s also incredibly boring.
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Rage (2014) – Review

2 Stars

Nicholas Cage has played nearly every type of role onscreen. From cop to convict, addict to dealer, this performer has tackled them all. Now, in the simply titled, Rage, Cage is Paul Maguire, a retired gangster with a renewed blood lust. For a movie with such an aggressive name and a star with a predilection for over-the-top theatrics, the flick is not nearly as violent or action-packed as suggested. Instead we have a revenge-thriller with familiar plot elements, and an on-the-noise denouncement that violence begets violence. The saving grace of the picture is the patently off-kilter line readings from Cage and a late in the game surprise ending that is earned.
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A Gangster’s Word (2013) – Review

1/2 Star

A Gangster’s Word is a disjointed mess of a movie with unruly story threads and developments that go nowhere. This meshing of all the worst elements from Dangerous Minds, 187, and a lifetime feature results in a suffering affair for anyone with 80 minutes to donate.
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Wrong Turn at Tahoe (2009) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Wrong Turn at Tahoe is yet another debut about criminal lowlifes written and filmed by wanna-be Tarantinos. Eddie Nickerson’s bracingly entertaining screenplay covers familiar ground in a breezy way. There are some memorable lines, and a couple of darkly funny moments, combine this with solid performances by Ferrer, and Keitel, and you still have a movie that is a prime example of a casting director filling a film with really good actors, to make up for rather weak plotting.
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A Fighting Man (2014) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Dominic Purcell who portrays the lead in the boxing themed drama A Fighting Man has been stuck in Uwe Boll’s lackluster productions for quite some time now. To the point that I started to under-value the bruiser’s acting abilities. A Fighting Man gives Purcell and his co-stars a great showcase for solid actors delivering understated performances in a movie that is a lot better than the marketing materials suggest.
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Hellion (2014) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

After seeing some print ads and getting a feel for the film, Hellion reminded me of another outsider pic with a similar sounding title, Hesher. Although Hellion drops the dark comedy aspect to become a far more serious affair which has much less to do with heavy metal music. Adapted from her short film by the same name, director Kat Candler proves that indie film-makers are still willing to go to dark places very close to home. The film paces itself well, showing us the lead up to the action, rather than action begetting action as in big budget Hollywood flicks (yes, even dramas). This build up creates an interesting roller-coaster ride that derails (in a good way) in a shocking final act.
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Price of Glory (2000) – Review

3 Stars

Carlos Avila’s feature debut is a boxing drama centered around a Mexican American family living in Arizona. It’s a sports movie that plays like a weighty family epic, something in the vein of Gregory Nava’s Mi Familia only with fisticuffs. Like that film, Price of Glory also stars Jimmy Smits in a remarkable portrayal. This time Smits is cast as a disgruntled and irritable man, with much pride and arrogance, to cover his bitterness at a failed boxing career.
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