Friday, July 30, 2010
Directed by Wilson Yip, this semi-biographical account of the first martial arts master to teach the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun is filled with enough fight scenes to satisfy even the most hard-core action film fan. What makes it accessible to audiences who don’t necessarily like kung fu movies is the compelling story of the reluctant hero who only resorts to violence when nothing else will work. The fact that IP Man went on to become master to martial arts legend Bruce Lee is a nice bit of trivia that’s not really explored in the movie, which is fine because the journey the man had to make to get to that level is absolutely fascinating.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 8:25 AM
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 10:25 AM
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 10:06 AM
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 3:05 PM
Monday, July 26, 2010
While on vacation with his family, a young boy is saved from drowning by a mermaid. When the mermaid’s family find out she’s been seen by a human, they announce that tradition demands that he either marry her or that she be put to death for letting her secret out. The fact that both the boy and the mermaid are high school students makes this a perfect series for young adults. What makes it great for older, more action-oriented viewers is the plot twist that the mermaid’s father is also a Yakuza boss who tries to get his mobsters to kill the boy so his daughter will forever remain his precious little girl.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 4:23 PM
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 8:59 AM
Saturday, July 24, 2010
This set of five Agatha Christie stories, originally seen on PBS’s Mystery, give viewers a look at one of the author’s lesser known characters, Parker Pryne (Maurice Denham), a man who doesn’t solve crimes so much as help people solve issues in their lives to make them happier. It’s a nice twist. The set also features three classic Christie tales, including the delightful The Girl in the Train, the story of a rich, spoiled young man who is always complaining that there is no real adventure in his life. What happens to him when he takes an impromptu trip makes him regret his words.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 7:22 AM
Friday, July 23, 2010
Part of the joy of watching this delightful documentary is the vicarious thrill of getting a look at the parts of the White House that will never be opened up to the tour groups who walk the public hallways. The other thrill is hearing the stories told by the people who work at the most famous address in America, whether they’re talking about the eating habits of the Commander in Chief (like Bill Clinton wolfing down half a cake when the Monica Lewinski scandal hit the fan) or the president who never wanted to see the help and the lengths they went to make sure he never did. The staff’s perspective on the major historical events they’ve lived though is fascinating.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 7:24 AM
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 9:30 AM
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
It may seem hard to believe in an age where you can listen to just about any kind of music you want to on everything from your laptop to your cell phone, but there was a time when rock and roll was outlawed from the airwaves of Great Britain. Outlawed or not, the music still made it to the masses thanks to bands of roguish rock DJs who put their transmitters onto huge boats and sailed out onto the high seas beyond the reach of the authorities. In his new movie, Pirate Radio, director Richard Curtis assembles a top-notch cast to bring the exploits of the men who manned these rock boats to life. Buoyed by a fantastic soundtrack of early rock hits, everything from The Turtles to The Troggs, Pirate Radio takes the audience on a voyage into the lives of not only the DJs who played the music but to the everyday people who listened to them on their portable radios.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 3:30 PM
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Directed by Bent Hamer (Factotum), O’Horten is a sweet and funny comedy that doesn’t try to force itself on the audience, but instead seduces them into the world it creates and let’s the laughter take care of itself. It’s the complete opposite of 99 percent of the comedies American audiences are used to, and that’s a good thing. Hamer keeps you interested in the story by never going for the obvious joke – or sometimes any joke at all – and just letting the characters he’s created play out their part in Odd’s adventure. He also doesn’t worry about letting the silence build between his characters, never falling victim to the American style of comedy that seems to be based on the rule that if something is not happening or being said at all times, then the film stops being entertaining. It’s a refreshing difference.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 6:07 AM
Monday, July 19, 2010
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 7:03 AM
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 7:52 AM
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 6:30 AM
Friday, July 16, 2010
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 7:00 AM
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 8:50 AM
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 6:54 AM
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Of course, given its premise, it’s impossible not to think – or at least hope -- that Paper Heart will end with an answer to the question it’s been chasing for the past 90 minutes. And it does, in its own way, but like the rest of the adventure it takes you on, the ending isn’t too pat or predictable. It’s as charming as everything else.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 6:48 AM
Monday, July 12, 2010
Alien Trespass stars Eric McCormack as Ted Lewis, a nerdy 1950s era scientist who discovers that a shooting star is actually a spaceship from another planet. While investigating the crash site, Lewis’ body is taken over by an alien being named Urp who needs his human form to hunt down the giant purple one-eyed Ghota that destroyed his ship before it can turn all of humanity into a gooey puddle of slime. If it sounds silly, don’t worry because it is, but it’s all done with such style and care that you can’t help but get swept up in the fun of it all.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 11:00 AM
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 11:00 AM
Saturday, July 10, 2010
While many may dream of leaving a job they do just to get by to strike out on their own in a profession they love, the realities Slimane faces in making his dream come true are harsh. Not only does he have to cut through miles of red tape from bank loan officers to the local permitting process, he also must battle the local racism from the French residents who just don't want to see a foreigner succeed, no matter how long he's been living beside them in their country.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 3:06 PM
Friday, July 9, 2010
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 9:05 AM
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 11:19 AM
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 6:21 AM
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
It’s almost embarrassing how much fun you can have watching this low budget horror film about a trio of teens on the way to a concert who get trapped and hunted by vampires. Directors Barak Epstein and Blair Rowan take just about every cliché you can imagine and gleefully splatter it across the screen with humor and ferocity. The acting is better than you would expect given the obvious budget constraints of the production, and while the effects may not be special, what they lack in authenticity they more than make up for in sheer volume.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 6:45 AM
Monday, July 5, 2010
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 9:46 AM
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Welcome to the wonderful world of Percy Jackson, star of a series of extremely popular books written by Rick Riordan and now his own big budget adventure movie directed by Chris Columbus. Like that other franchise Columbus helped bring to theaters -- you know, the one about a young wizard fighting a guy whose name you aren’t supposed to say – Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief is an uneven blend of broad mainstream entertainment and very specific details designed to make the rabid fans of the books happy with the adaptation. As a result, the film gets a little bogged down in details along the way, and way too much of the dialogue plays like a Cliff Notes version of a high school history book, but the special effects are cool and the adventure is fun to watch.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 9:57 AM
Saturday, July 3, 2010
For far too long, horror movie fans have been at the mercy of studio heads who refuse to put scary movies into theaters unless they know it will make money, which usually means it’s a reboot of an old franchise or its been drained of all its potential gore so it can get a PG-13 rating and be suitable for teen audiences.
Now it’s time for horror movie fans to take back the power and decide for themselves what they want to see on the big screen thanks to Fangoria magazine and Lightning Media who have partnered to launch a unique, multi-tiered distribution program for eight new feature-length horror/thrillers.
As part of the multi-faceted program, fans will be the voting jury in a mini film festival
“Demand It” through July 19, to select one of the eight films for limited theatrical release in late July (www.FangoriaFrightFest.com). Fans will be able to view and vote for their favorite trailer and will then be automatically entered into a summer consumer sweepstakes to win a trip to Las Vegas and other prizes.
“This is a great promotional idea because it gives fans a chance to send a message to the people who put movies in theaters that there really is an audience for good horror movies,” said Darin Scott, director of Dark House, one of the features in the running to be released. “Not all horror movies should be just dumped in the direct-to-video bins because they’re too intense for teenagers. I hope the festival helps educate studio heads about what fans want and what they will support at the box office.”
The Fangoria FrightFest line-up represents a diversified array of quality genre entertainment, embracing a range of horror film styles from supernatural chillers to psychological horror and slasher flicks. These eight new feature-length horror/thrillers feature such stars as the Twilight saga’s Xavier Samuel, Calista Flockhart, Keri Russell, Michael Madsen, Eric Roberts and more.
Films included in the Fangoria FrightFest promotion are:
Fragile —Amy Nicholls (Calista Flockhart), the new night nurse at a soon-to-be-abandoned children’s hospital, readies the last group of orphans to leave. But it becomes increasingly clear that these are not normal children.
The Tomb (aka Ligeia) —Successful writer and scholar Jonathan Merrick (Wes Bentley) falls under the spell of the bewitching beauty Ligeia, who is fighting a fatal illness. Willing to stop at nothing in a quest for immortality, Ligeia plots to steal souls … beginning with Jonathan’s. Co-starring Michael Madsen (Kill Bill).
Grimm Love (aka Rohtenburg and Butterfly: A Grimm Story) — In this fact-based thriller, German graduate student Katie Armstrong (Keri Russell) is researching cannibalistic killer Oliver Hartwin (Thomas Kretschmann) for her thesis. Obsessed with her subject, she plunges into “the lifestyle.”
Road Kill (aka Road Train) — An Australian surprise starring emerging heartthrob Xavier Samuel (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and festival favorite The Loved Ones). In this supernatural thriller, a group of teenagers (including Samuel) embark on a road trip and find themselves menaced by a driver-less truck in the Australian outback.
Dark House — Directed by writer/producer Darin Scott (Tales From the Hood), this thriller is a high-tech take on the traditional “haunted house,” featuring a charismatically maniacal performance by horror legend Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator).
Hunger — Steven Hentges’ shocker stars Lori Heuring (Wicked Little Things) in a physically and psychologically demanding role. Five strangers (including Heuring) find themselves trapped in an underground dungeon. Realizing they are the subjects of a sadistic experiment to test the depths of a human being’s will to survive, their hunger increases as their humanity fades.
Pig Hunt — A young man and his pals embark on a guys’ weekend to hunt wild boars on his late uncle’s remote ranch. But as the group treks deeper into the forest, the awful truth is revealed about his uncle’s demise and the hunters become the hunted.
The Haunting (aka No-Do: The Beckoning) — This Spanish chiller from director Elio Quiroga (La Hora Fria) was inspired by the Catholic Church’s documentation of actual, unexplained supernatural phenomena in the ’40s and stars Ana Torrent (Tesis) as a new mother driven to the brink of madness.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 10:54 AM
Friday, July 2, 2010
Four working-class blokes get together to make music, make some money and impress a few girls. They end up changing the music world forever by creating an intense sound that will influence bands for generations. What’s fascinating about this documentary is the time it gives to each of the band members to tell their stories about the creation of this classic rock album. The intelligence and the passion they brought to the project, and the pride they still feel about it, come shining through. Make time for the excellent extras, too.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 2:51 PM
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 10:55 AM