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An Actor Repairs, by Bob Connally

21 Jul

Thanks to technology and social media, today we are able to document as much of our lives as we please but long before smartphones or Instagram, Val Kilmer was shooting thousands of hours of footage on film and video from a very young age. Having recently survived a throat cancer diagnosis that has left him needing a tracheostomy tube to breathe and speak, he is using that material to tell the story he has long wanted to tell about acting and about the “line between truth and illusion.” Directors Ting Poo and Leo Scott have taken the actor’s treasure trove of footage and crafted a fascinating and moving look at Kilmer’s life.


Search for Swine, by Bob Connally

17 Jul

When the basic premise of a film is Nicolas Cage plays a man in search of his lost pig, it’s highly probable that one’s first thought will be, “Oh, man, get ready for Full Cage.” Some people will be excited by that, others won’t. But from the very start, Michael Sarnoski’s excellent debut feature reveals itself to be something else entirely and Cage reminds those who may have forgotten just how great he can really be without going “Full Cage.” Pig, it turns out, is something very special.


Jane Wick, by Bob Connally

15 Jul

After the release of Die Hard in 1988, action movies for the next decade imitated Die Hard. Then in 1999, The Matrix came along and action movies imitated that. Then it was the Bourne movies with their frenetic editing, but since 2014 the most imitated action film has been John Wick. From its trailer and based on part of its premise, it would appear that Navot Papushado’s Gunpowder Milkshake would be another in a long line of riffs on the Keanu Reeves franchise and while there are certainly similarities, there’s a more lighthearted tone here that some audiences may not appreciate. While Papushado’s film certainly has its issues, there’s an inventiveness and sense of fun to it all that make this well worthwhile. Just don’t expect the grit of Wick.


No Movie for Old Men, by Bob Connally

10 Jun

There’s a scene near the end of Ed Wood where a couple of Baptists who are funding Ed’s “supernatural thriller,” Plan 9 From Outer Space question his ability as a filmmaker. It’s a breaking point for the already harried director, who runs off the set declaring, “These Baptists are stupid, stupid, stupid!” Despite the struggles, Ed’s movie is completed and released soon after. I can imagine a similar moment taking place in 1973 when horrified members of the Lutheran Society first watched George A. Romero’s The Amusement Park, a film they commissioned to raise awareness about the plight of the elderly. The two key differences being that Romero was a decidedly more talented filmmaker than Wood and unlike Plan 9, The Amusement Park was shelved, seemingly to be forgotten forever. But 48 years later, Romero’s movie is finally being released to the world and it absolutely deserves to be seen.


High Spirits, by Bob Connally

8 May

For the past few years, Tyler has been kind enough to post my annual Bob Awards to this site. Every year there are a few key films that for one reason or another I am not able to see in time and when I finally get around to some of them, I regret not having seen them sooner. A past example of this was 2018’s Suspiria, particularly for the performance of Tilda Swinton. For obvious reasons, there were a few films in 2020 that I simply haven’t had the opportunity to see yet but there is one that was released on Hulu in plenty of time that I just didn’t get around to. Until now. It pains me because Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round is almost certainly the best movie of 2020 that I have now seen.


Ethical Dilemmas, by Bob Connally

28 Apr

Science fiction stories inherently ask audiences to suspend their disbelief, but good sci-fi storytellers know that while they are allowed to ask us to accept an improbable or even impossible premise, that there must be a sense of reality to prop it all upon. Stowaway director Joe Penna and co-writer Ryan Morrison thankfully understands this. What they have crafted is a nicely realized sci-fi film that is far more interested in moral dilemmas and inviting the audience into the situation at hand than it is in heady abstract ideas.


False Note, by Bob Connally

6 Apr

Will Hawkins (Kevin Quinn) is a troubled teen who has moved from home to home since the death of his parents. After A Week Away’s opening scene in which he is arrested for “stealing a police car,” which he isn’t driving at any point during said scene, we are given Will’s lengthy rap sheet as he is told the only option now for him is juvenile hall. Will’s officer (Ed Amatrudo) tells the audien – I mean, Will, that he’s a “great kid,” even though he’s just given us no evidence of that. It’s indicative of the many problems to come that between both the stolen police car and our protagonist’s personality, A Week Away jumps right into the, “Tell, Don’t Show,” school of screenwriting.


Fireworks, by Bob Connally

5 Apr

A few years ago in my review of Kong: Skull Island, I wrote, “Sometimes we want to see a gigantic gorilla smash things.” Of course, while much has changed in our world since that time, that’s an eternal and universal truth. So as movie theaters gradually re-open across the country, the opportunity to see a gigantic gorilla and a gigantic lizard smash things and indeed, each other, has emerged and many people who have not ventured into a movie theater in over a year are taking that opportunity. Being that there are still many theaters that remain closed and because many are understandably averse to going into public for reasons other than buying groceries, Warner Bros. is offering Godzilla vs. Kong on its streaming service, HBO Max, at this same time. So is this monster brawl worth watching and if so, is it worth seeing in a theater?


A Cold Warrior, by Bob Connally

29 Mar

Since the 1950s, the Cold War spy film has become such a staple that it could really be classified as its own genre and it’s been an incredibly popular one at that. Other than probably Sherlock Holmes, there may not be a more recognizable character name in the world than James Bond. In the wake of the wild success of the early Bond films of the ’60s, spy movies of all kinds flooded cinemas. Serious fare such as excellent The Spy Who Came in From the Cold was accompanied by the goofy fun of the Flint movies starring James Coburn. The now-legendary Michael Caine had his own spy franchise at that time starring as British agent Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin, and Billion Dollar Brain. Some of Alfred Hitchcock’s later films such as Torn Curtain and Topaz directly told Cold War espionage stories. 


Mystery Machine, by Bob Connally

14 Feb

At the age of 12, Abe Applebaum solved “The Case of the Missing Fundraiser Money.” This led to a career as a kid detective, solving mostly minor cases for his classmates in his small town of Willowbrook, becoming a local celebrity. His secretary, Gracie, “worked for soda pop.” When they were 14, Gracie was kidnapped and Abe felt the weight of expectation to bring her home. Nearly 20 years later, Abe (Adam Brody) is still a detective with his own office in Willowbrook. Sadly though, Abe sees himself as an utter failure for not finding Gracie and the people of the town are no longer impressed by his past achievements.