Tag Archives: Two Reels

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

American Pastoral

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Release Date: October 28, 2016
Runtime: 126 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Lionsgate
Director: Ewan McGregor
Cast: Ewan McGregor; Jennifer Connelly; Dakota Fanning; David Straithairn; Peter Riegert; Molly Parker; Uzo Aduba; Rupert Evans

An “A” for effort for Ewan McGregor in his directorial debut. Boasting an impressive cast including McGregor, Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning, David Straithairn and Peter Riegert, “American Pastoral” wants to be a heartbreaking story of a family torn apart by the social and political upheaval of the ‘60s. After a strong start, however, the film settles into clichéd melodrama that grows sillier the longer it goes on. Continue reading

Steve Jobs

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Release Date: October 23, 2015
Runtime: 122 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: Michael Fassbender; Kate Winslet; Jeff Daniels; Seth Rogen; Michael Stuhlbarg; Katherine Waterston

I came away from this movie with a great big ‘eh.’ It’s typical Aaron Sorkin. By this, I mean lots of people shouting pithy one-liners at each other in rapid cadence. I can’t exactly put my finger on it but the movie just wasn’t very interesting. Steve Jobs, computer visionary, quasi-deadbeat dad, general asshole, was undoubtedly a fascinating man, but you don’t really get a sense of just how fascinating from the film. This is one of those movies where everyone is trying so hard to act importantly because they know they are in a big important event movie. Stop. Just stop. 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

Rock of Ages

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Release Date: June 15, 2012
Runtime: 123 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Warner Bros. / New Line Cinema
Director: Adam Shankman
Cast: Julianne Hough; Diego Boneta; Alec Baldwin; Russell Brand; Paul Giamatti; Catherine Zeta-Jones; Bryan Cranston; Malin Akerman; Mary J. Blige; Tom Cruise

The Broadway musical upon which this movie is based, while not great art by any stretch, is better. Period. Adam Shankman’s adaptation of the hit jukebox musical that’s been rockin’ the Helen Hayes Theatre for years, has style and some fun performances, but this show really doesn’t translate well to film. I think the main reason is this: these songs (“Don’t Stop Believin,’” “Sister Christian,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It”) are the types of rock anthems that are best heard live, blaring through speakers at deafening decibels, sung by singers who look like their vocal chords are about to pop out of their necks! Continue reading

The Canyons

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Release Date: August 2, 2013
Runtime: 99 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Studio: IFC Films
Director: Paul Schrader
Cast: Lindsay Lohan; James Deen; Nolan Gerard Funk; Amanda Brooks; Gus Van Sant

You would think that a collaboration between the writer/director of “American Gigolo” and “Hardcore” and the writer of “American Psycho” and “Less Than Zero” would make for some titillating cinema. As it turns out, it’s more lukewarm bath than sizzling heat. Continue reading

I’m So Excited!

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Release Date: June 28, 2013 (NY & LA)
Runtime: 90 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: El Deseo S.A. / Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Cast: Javier Cámara; Lola Dueñas; Cecilia Roth; Raúl Arévalo; Antonio de la Torre; Hugo Silva; Carlos Areces

This is the latest from flamboyant Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar (“Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”). I was really psyched to see this since I enjoy Almodóvar’s work and am a sucker for any movie that has to do with air travel. Alas, it is with barely veiled indifference that I report that “I’m So Excited!” is nothing to get too excited about. Continue reading

Thief of Hearts

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Release Date: October 19, 1984
Runtime: 100 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: Douglas Day Stewart
Cast: Steven Bauer; Barbara Williams; John Getz; David Caruso; George Wendt

The first thing I have to say about this movie is that it’s almost impossible to review this from a 2013 frame of mind, as it is oh-so-dated. I will, however, give it my best shot. Continue reading

Lost Horizon (1973)

Lost-Horizon

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Release Date: March 17, 1973
Runtime: 150 minutes (feels like it!)
Rating: G
Studio: Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Director: Charles Jarrott
Cast: Peter Finch; Liv Ullmann; John Gielgud; Sally Kellerman; George Kennedy; Michael York; Olivia Hussey; Bobby Van; James Shigeta; Charles Boyer

Hoo-boy!  Where to start with this one?

This is Ross Hunter’s infamous musical version of James Hilton’s “Lost Horizon.”  Essentially laughed off the screen in 1973, Columbia Pictures was so ashamed of this movie that they never released it on home video (until they recently decided ‘What the hell!’ and released it on DVD on October 6, 2011 – available at Amazon), even though it clearly cost a bunch of money and had some big name (for the time) stars in it.  In fact, in film circles, this cinematic dung heap is known as ‘Lost Investment.’  Ouch!! Continue reading

House of Wax

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Release Date: May 6, 2005
Runtime: 113 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Cast: Elisha Cuthbert; Chad Michael Murray; Brian Van Holt; Paris Hilton; Jared Padalecki

[SPOILER ALERT!]

Not as bad as one might expect. Sure, there is some hilariously awful dialogue, typical horror­ movie stupidity, and performances that seem as though they were made of wax. But there are also some ultra-creepy scenes and some inventive, gruesome deaths. I don’t want to compare this to the older, Vincent Price movie upon which this is based because I haven’t seen it (and neither will have the majority of the target audience), but taken on its own terms, I enjoyed it…in a guilty pleasure kind of way. Continue reading