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The Ties That Bind, by Reed Lackey

8 Nov

Releasing this week on most VOD platforms is a strong and haunting story of a woman’s struggle to maintain her agency and her sanity as she wrestles with sudden grief and the apparent threat of indefinite captivity. Kindred is the debut feature from director and co-writer Joe Marcantonio and starring Tamara Lawrence, Fiona Shaw, and Jack Lowden. It owes an immediate and apparent debt to Rosemary’s Baby, but manages to forge its own unique path with some deliberate shifts in key elements.

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Hallmark Hall of Shame, by Bob Connally

5 Nov

“Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” Dying – or drama – and comedy have one key thing in common. Both of them tend to work best when they are treated seriously. Even when the comedy is a very silly parody. Throughout the 1980’s, the team of David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams demonstrated how to do this right with Airplane!, the all-too-short-lived TV series Police Squad!, and that show’s much more successful spin-off film, The Naked Gun. They achieved this through brilliant writing and equally brilliant casting, emphasizing sincerity from the performances. Dramatic actors such as Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack, and Leslie Nielsen delivered utterly ridiculous dialogue with complete seriousness in Airplane!, and that very simply is why it worked. If Nielsen had said, “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley,” pulling a goofy face, it would have killed the joke. The makers of Cup of Cheer would have done well to heed that lesson.

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Must Be the Season, by Bob Connally

24 Oct

Since its release in 1978, John Carpenter’s original Halloween has been one of the best-loved and most imitated horror movies ever made. Carpenter and his producing partner, Debra Hill felt that there was nowhere to take the characters or the story beyond the first film. However, with Universal clamoring for a sequel, they reluctantly wrote the screenplay for Halloween II. Released in 1981, Carpenter- who did not direct this time around- was deeply dissatisfied with the finished product, declaring it, “an abomination and a horrible movie.” The sequel received poor reviews but performed fairly well at the box office. The film ended with Michael Myers seemingly burned to death after an explosion, as though Carpenter and Hill were telling the audience, “He’s dead now, so it’s over.” Halloween III would be a new beginning and set up a viable and very creative franchise for years to come. That was the plan anyway.

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Episode 235: Infidel

22 Sep

In this episode, Tyler discusses Cyrus Nowrasteh’s Infidel and Roland Joffe’s The Mission.

International Incident, by Kevin McCreary

16 Sep

Infidel, the controversial political thriller, is actor Jim Caviezel’s second team-up with director Cyrus Nowrasteh. Going into this movie, I was far from sure what to expect. On one hand, Jim Caviezel has a keen eye for quality projects and has rarely steered me wrong. On the flip side, the film is executive produced by Dinesh D’Souza, the director of such politically-charged gems as Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party and Death of a Nation: Can We Save America a Second Time? I was eagerly informed by many friends on both sides of the political aisle that this meant “bad.” So, is this another Jim Caviezel-led Christian movie to add to your Jim Caviezel Christian movie VHS collection? Or are all my friends right?! Let’s discuss. 

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Episode 234: Words on Bathroom Walls

10 Sep

In this episode, Tyler discusses Thor Freudenthal’s Words on Bathroom Walls and Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind.

Into the Wild, by Bob Connally

1 Sep

Get Duked!, the feature film debut of music video director Ninian Doff wastes no time getting moving. We are introduced to three Scottish teens named Dean (Rian Gordon), Duncan (Lewis Gribben), and DJ Beatroot (Viraj Juneja) ignoring a decades-old video explaining the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Their teacher, Mr. Carlyle (Jonathan Aris), further explains that the boys will be traversing the Scottish Highlands without the aid of technology as they try to earn their award. What it really is for them though is punishment after setting a fire. Once they arrive in the Highlands they meet Ian (Samuel Bottomley), a boy who’s very excited for their outdoor adventure. Unlike the others, he has chosen to be there in hopes of being able to add it to his university applications. With that, Mr. Carlyle quickly rattles off an explanation of the route the boys will need to take and that he’ll see them at the campsite, and away they go.

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Most Triumphant, by Bob Connally

30 Aug

It would have been difficult to imagine saying this in 1988 as Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure sat on a shelf, unlikely to be released in theaters, if at all. But 32 years later, we need Bill S. Preston, Esquire (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves) more than ever. We need their enthusiasm, we need their positivity, and in a year that has been, “Bogus. Heinous. Most non-triumphant,” we just need something to put a smile on our faces. Moviegoing as we know it has all but ceased to exist completely since March, but thanks to a video on demand release, Bill & Ted Face the Music is here just before the end of summer to give us all an escape from the never-ending nightmare we call 2020.

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Is That a Man? by Bob Connally

22 Aug

Upon seeing the 2-minute trailer for Disney+’s upcoming series adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book, The Right Stuff, I was struck by how unexciting it all looked. How do you make the story of the pioneer days of humanity’s greatest and most exciting endeavor appear so dull? Hopefully, the series – when it premieres on October 9 – will turn out to be the engrossing and thrilling show that the story deserves, but whether it is or not, the greatness of Philip Kaufman’s 1983 film adaptation stands the test to time.

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Trying Not to Come Back, by Bob Connally

16 Aug

It’s only been in the last couple of years that I have really started to embrace horror. I haven’t become a full-on gorehound, but I have developed an appreciation for horror movies and what they can deliver that is unique to any other genre. The biggest obstacle I had was the misconception that horror movies, by and large, did not care about their characters. While this may be true of many slasher films (the original Friday the 13thbored me to tears), it was an idea that had gotten into my head and it took a long time for me to realize I was wrong. The thing is, even slashers with little to no character development can be fun in their own ways if the filmmaker is inventive. After all, if I can love big, dumb action movies like Sudden Death and “The Greatest Movie Ever Made,” Commando, then I can enjoy a horror movie that delivers on the same level.

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