Category Archives: Fantasy

Valley of Shadows

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Release Date: October 20, 2017 (Norway)
Screened: September 10, 2017 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Runtime: 91 minutes
Rating: No Rating Yet
Studio: Film Farms; Them Girls Film; Anna Kron Film
Director: Jonas Matzow Gulbrandsen
Cast: Adam Ekeli; Kathrine Fagerland

While there is stuff to admire in Valley of Shadows, this Norwegian import really wasn’t my cup of tea. This is one of those movies that is long on atmosphere, but short on action or dialogue. A very European movie in style and nature, Valley of Shadows will only appeal to filmgoers who are into minimalist exercises in style. Continue reading

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death

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Release Date: August 27, 1971
Runtime: 89 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: John Hancock
Cast: Zohra Lampert; Barton Heyman; Kevin O’Connor; Gretchen Corbett; Alan Manson; Mariclare Costello

This low-key quickie hearkens back to a sort of golden age for low-budget chillers. While not as gruesome as some of its contemporaries (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes), this film makes tremendous use of its spooky old house and outdoor locations. Despite a horrendous title, Let’s Scare Jessica To Death is an effective little creeper: high on atmosphere and long on style. Continue reading

Wonder Woman

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Release Date: June 2, 2017
Runtime: 141 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Patty Jenkins
Cast: Gal Gadot; Chris Pine; Connie Nielsen; Robin Wright; Danny Huston; David Thewlis; Saïd Taghmaoui; Ewen Bremner

All hail Wonder Woman!! After decades of development hell, the grand dame of DC Comics finally gets her own standalone movie…and what a movie it is! Easily taking her rightful place alongside (and surpassing, some would argue) the big screen treatments of her Justice League comrades, “Wonder Woman” is a knockout of an action movie, an origin story, and plain, old big budget popcorn entertainment. Continue reading

Bedtime Stories

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Release Date: December 25, 2008
Runtime: 99 minutes
Rating: PG
Studio: Disney
Director: Adam Shankman
Cast: Adam Sandler; Keri Russell; Courteney Cox; Russell Brand; Guy Pearce; Teresa Palmer; Richard Griffiths; Lucy Lawless

A frothy, family-friendly entertainment that is lively enough for the kids and easy-to-swallow for the adults. Continue reading

Naked Lunch

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Release Date: December 27, 1991 (screened June 20, 2014 – 16th Annual Provincetown Film Festival)
Runtime: 115 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Peter Weller; Judy Davis; Ian Holm; Julian Sands; Monique Mercure; Roy Scheider

OK, full disclosure: this is one weird fuckin’ movie. David Cronenberg has never been the most mainstream of directors, but this one is truly odd. Talking cockroaches that masquerade as typewriters; horny centipedes; Judy Davis shooting up roach killer…it’s all here. Welcome to “Naked Lunch.” Continue reading

Southland Tales

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Southland-Tales

 

Release Date: November 14, 2007
Runtime: 145 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Director: Richard Kelly
Cast: Dwayne Johnson; Sarah Michelle Gellar; Seann William Scott; Justin Timberlake; Nora Dunn; John Larroquette; Bai Ling; Mandy Moore; Jon Lovitz; Cheri Oteri…many others!

Whoa, is this one boondoggle of a movie! Sporting a cast and a scope that would make Cecil B. DeMille salivate, Richard Kelly’s follow up to his cult classic “Donnie Darko” is one of those not-too-distant futuristic commentaries, but it is so all over the place you almost need an org chart. Continue reading

Skyfall

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Skyfall

 

 

Release Date: November 9, 2012
Runtime: 143 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: MGM / Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Director: Sam Mendes
Cast: Daniel Craig; Judi Dench; Javier Bardem; Ralph Fiennes; Naomie Harris; Bérénice Lim Marlohe; Ben Whishaw; Rory Kinnear; Albert Finney

Every time I see a James Bond movie it reminds me how much I would love to be James Bond. It’s every male’s escapist fantasy: you’re an undercover spy, you get to play with lots of hi-tech gadgets, you get to bed lots of incredibly beautiful women in exotic locales around the world. What’s not to love? (Well, in my case, I could do without bedding the beautiful women part, but you get my point). That’s the reason I think that Ian Fleming’s series has remained so incredibly popular ever since James Bond’s first cinematic appearance in “Dr. No” in 1962. Continue reading

Jurassic Park 3D: A Reel Podcast

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Release Date: April 5, 2013 (original release June 11, 1993)
Runtime: 127 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Sam Neill; Laura Dern; Richard Attenborough; Jeff Goldblum; Joseph Mazzello; Ariana Richards; Wayne Knight; Samuel L. Jackson

 

 

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Oz: The Great and Powerful

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Release Date: March 8, 2013
Runtime: 130 minutes
Rating: PG
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: James Franco; Mila Kunis; Rachel Weisz; Michelle Williams; Zach Braff; Joey King; Bill Cobbs

“The Wizard of Oz” endures. Every few years, a new take on L. Frank Baum’s tales pops up. In 1985, there was “Return to Oz.” In 2003, the musical “Wicked” premiered on Broadway and became and international blockbuster (still running). Now, in 2013, comes “Oz: The Great and Powerful.” A prequel, of sorts, to the familiar movie, that dazzles with its visuals and provides an interesting back-story for how the Wizard got to be so, well, great and powerful. This film takes its cue from the Baum stories, and not the 1939 Judy Garland film, since there are copyright issues that prevent Disney (the studio behind this film) from getting its hands on too much of the familiar trademarks of the classic movie (distributed by MGM, but copyrights owned by Warner Bros. Continue reading