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LOGAN LUCKY (2017) review

August 26, 2017

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written by: Rebecca Blunt
produced by: Gregory Jacobs, Mark Johnson, Channing Tatum & Reid Carolin
directed by: Steven Soderbergh
rated: PG-13 (for language and some crude comments)
runtime: 119 min.
U.S. release date: August 18, 2017

 

I never believed him nor did I want to. In 2013, when writer/director Steven Soderbergh released two full-length features – “Side Effects” theatrically and “Behind the Candelabra” on HBO – he also announced his retirement from filmmaking. Considering this is a filmmaker who’s been known to release two films in one year, showing himself to be a passionate and prolific storyteller, I chose not to believe such an announcement. I assume frustration with theatrical distribution models factored in his retirement, which is understandable since big studios are intent on backing established brands. However, none of that prevented Soderbergh from working since he went on to direct all twenty episodes of the acclaimed Cinemax series “The Knick” and now there’s the theatrical release “Logan Lucky”, which finds the director returning to the heist comedy, a subgenre he knows quite well. It’s a feature that has more in common with “Out of Sight” in tone and style than his three “Oceans” movies and it’s one of the funniest movies of the year. Read more…

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LIZA, LIZA, SKIES ARE GREY (2017) review

August 21, 2017

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written by: Terry Sanders
produced by: Steven Chao, Ann Dickinson, Richard Purington & Terry Sanders
directed by: Terry Sanders
rated: unrated 
runtime: 86 min.
U.S. release date: August 18, 2017 (limited)

 

For me, the only draw of “Liza, Liza, Skies Are Grey” was the period in which it’s set and how that aspect of the film would hopefully offer an immersive or at least distinctive experience. But after reading more promotional material for this low-budget independent feature – a first from veteran documentation Terry Sanders (who wrote, produced and edited as well) – which touted the film as a hybrid of such literary classics as Romeo and Juliet and The Odyssey. Well, such hopes were dashed when became quite apparent that the film lacked any true period acknowledgement and such a description turned out to be an extreme over-reach, since this teenage sexual discovery tale, wound up testing my threshold for bad acting and terrible dialogue within a totally forced and unconvincing love story.  Read more…

BATMAN AND HARLEY QUINN (2017) review

August 15, 2017

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written by: Bruce Timm and James Krieg
produced by: Alan Burnett
directed by: Sam Liu
rated: PG-13 (for sexual content, language, violence and action, and for rude humor)
runtime: 74 min.
U.S. release date: August 14, 2017 (theatrical), August 15, 2017 (digital) and August 29, 2017 (VOD/digital & DVD/Blu-ray)

 

Last summer, Fathom Events held a successful one-night only nationwide screening of a new DC Animated Universe feature “Batman: The Killing Joke”, based on the popular 1988 standalone graphic novel. Although, it was pretty awful, it wound up grossing $4.4 million worldwide, so it only makes sense that Warner Brothers/DC Entertainment is trying that again this summer with the ineptly-titled “Batman and Harley Quinn”, directed by Sam Liu, the same guy responsible for the controversial “The Killing Joke”. Some have already seen it at the world premiere screening last month at SDCC (that’s San Diego Comic Con), but now everyone else will get a chance to see it before it comes to digital platforms the very next day and DVD/Blu-ray on August 29th. Considering Liu’s last Batman adaptation was a letdown, I went into this viewing with tempered excitement. Read more…

WIND RIVER (2017) review

August 11, 2017

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written by: Taylor Sheridan
produced by: Elizabeth A. Bell, Peter Berg, Matthew George, Basil Iwanyk & Wayne Rogers
directed by: Taylor Sheridan
rated: R (for strong violence, a rape, disturbing images, and language )
runtime: 111 min.
U.S. release date: August 11, 2017

 

It’s hard to think of another genre screenwriter who’s been doing a consistent bang-up job with each go around, but Taylor Sheridan has certainly proven his mettle with great storylines for “Sicario” and “Hell or High Water”, directed by Denis Villeneuve and David Mackenzie, respectively. His latest, “Wind River”, premiered earlier this year at Sundance, and it’s being described as the final movie in his ‘frontier trilogy’ completes with themes of vengeance and justice set on the fringe of a cruel and (unfortunately) familiar modern-day environment. The three movies may not be populated with the same characters or set in the same locations, but the tone and feel of each easily connects them as cinematic cousins. For “Wind River”, Sheridan takes the helm and displays an assured ability to deliver a movie that can sit confidently alongside his recent highly-regarded films. Then what issues do I have with the film? Read more…

KIDNAP (2017) review

August 3, 2017

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written by: Knate Gwaltney
produced by: Gregory Chou, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Erik Howsam, Joey Tufaro, Taylar Wesley & Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas
directed by: Luis Prieto
rated: R (for violence and peril)
runtime: 95 min.
U.S. release date: August 4, 2017

 

After the release of “The Call” back in 2013, Halle Berry spent the following year around New Orleans filming another thriller, hoping to repeat that movie’s surprising and unexpected box office success. “Kidnap” was filmed during the last two months of 2014 and, supposedly due to the financial woes of Relativity Pictures, the movie blew past four release dates in 2015 and 2016, as well as a release date this past March that didn’t pan out. Another distributor, Aviron, acquired the movie and decided to drop it in August of this year (because next January is too far away). All of this drama usually indicates the movie involved is a dud and that would be the case with “Kidnap” – with a lame tagline like “Vengeance is a Mother”, what do you expect? Read more…

DUNKIRK (2017) review

July 20, 2017

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written by: Christopher Nolan
produced by: Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan
directed by: Christopher Nolan
rated: PG-13 (for intense war experience and some language)
runtime: 106 min.
U.S. release date: July 21, 2017

 

Throughout his two-decade career as a writer/producer/director Christopher Nolan has made it known that he loves cinema. It’s become apparent simply by looking at his process and the outcome of each of his projects. Nolan is a craftsman, showing with each film his ability to adeptly and impressively orchestrate breathtaking visual spectacle and technological achievement to tell the story he wants to tell. That’s exactly what happens with “Dunkirk”, Nolan’s highly-anticipated war film which sets out to drop viewers into a World War II experience like no other. It’s an ambitious and exhausting achievement, paying tribute to those who tried to survive, defend and rescue, during insurmountable odds against them. It’s a simple, straightforward story uniquely told – if only he added subtitles or maybe only understanding 10% of the dialogue was Nolan’s way of accomplishing full immersion.  Read more…

FIRST KILL (2017) review

July 20, 2017

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written by: Nick Gordon
produced by: Randall Emmett, George Furla and Mark Stewart
directed by: Steven C. Miller
rated: R (for violence and language)
runtime: 97 min.
U.S. release date: July 21, 2017 (AMC Woodridge 18, Woodridge, IL & VOD)

 

If you’ve been wondering where Anakin Skywalker and John McClane have been, look no further than Granville, Ohio. Apparently McClane is now a sheriff in the small town east of Columbus and has recently run into successful stock brocker Skywalker and his wife and son as he returns to his roots for a family trip away from the big city. What I’m getting at is it’s kind of hard not to think of the two characters Hayden Christensen and Bruce Willis are best known for while watching the mostly bland and predictable action thriller “First Kill” (the generic title is a good indication whether or not this movie is worth your time), the latest from B-movie director Steven C. Miller, who has made a name for himself making VOD crap, populated by a repeat assembly of actors. “Kill List” isn’t putrid, like Miller’s “Arsenal” from earlier this year, but it certainly doesn’t hold up well overall. Read more…