film reel image

film reel image

Monday, July 6, 2020

Becky 2020 * * 1/2 Stars

BeckyDirectors: Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion
Year: 2020
Rated R
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Lulu Wilson, Kevin James, Joel McHale

2020's Becky is my latest review. It's lead role Becky (played by 14-year-old Lulu Wilson), might be just as evil and savage as the bad guys she's up against. This little vigilante with weapon in hand, has a severe case of unmerciful badassery.

Helmed by two people (Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion) and featuring a scene where a detached eyeball is sawed off on a kitchen counter, Becky is a snuff slash exploitation flick where apparently bloodier is better. With fire elements and crackling, outdoor cinematography, Becky feels reminiscent of stuff like 2018's Mandy and You're Next.

The film although candidly stylish, revels in prolonged, unnecessary gore. Heck, if you view Becky and are of the squeamish, just know that it's red dye corn syrup and not the real thing (ha).

Becky movie review & film summary (2020) | Roger EbertAlong with Lulu Wilson, Becky stars bungling funnyman Kevin James. James plays main villain and prison escapee, Dominick. With grisly beard and numerous tats, it's refreshing seeing him venture so far out of character. James and the rest of the cast are solid but their performances get drowned out in a movie that's too violent and remorseless for its own good. Their personas are like cardboard sloths just waiting for the hard-hearted slaughter.

Released by way of Internet on June 5th and shot exclusively in Ontario, Canada, Becky is about a girl named well, Becky. Visiting a lake house with her father, her father's fiance, and her father's fiance's kid, Becky must fend off a gang of criminals who commit a home invasion looking for a key (yeah I didn't know what the key was for either).

Review: A teenage girl goes up against neo-Nazis in violent ...Bottom line: Becky is well directed and taut with various zoom shots, rack focusing, flashbacks, and the occasional jittery camerawork. However, there's no one to really root for, no protagonist really wins, and the daft film leaves the viewer wondering what the point of it all was. There will be blood though. Oh yes, there will be blood. Rating: 2 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Force of Nature 2020 * 1/2 Stars

Force of NatureDirector: Micheal Polish
Year: 2020
Rated R
Rating: * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Emile Hirsch, Mel Gibson, Kate Bosworth

"Your dad doesn't want to leave, I can't force him". Hey, I'm not gonna "force" you to see 2020's Force of Nature. Heck, for the purposes of panning it, I won't even beg.

So yeah, in Force of Nature there's the occasional burst of gunfire where the villains can't hit water in the ocean. Then there's those same villains who love to say stuff like "don't move or I'll blow your head off", "drop it", or "slowly". Finally, there's an accented Mel Gibson as a retired cop, a miscast Emile Hirsch as a current cop, and a Category 5 hurricane featured that doesn't do a whole lot of damage (just some wind, some flailing palm trees, the traditional eye of the storm, and some stinging rain).

Force of Nature' Review – VarietyAnyway, "Force's" confined story involves a group of robbers who are bent on stealing $55 million in paintings from a Puerto Rico apartment complex. It's up to a cliched, demoted officer, a cranky geezer on dialysis, and a ravaging tiger (yeah you heard me) to try and stop them.

Obviously low budgeted enough to forgo some actual, storm chaser special effects and containing a film score by Kubilay Uner that feels like second-rate Michael Kamen, Force of Nature is laddish, B-movie slop. It's like watching a self-serious, Die Hard ripoff coupled with a direct-to-video version of 2018's The Hurricane Heist (which could have been a direct-to-video endeavor itself).

Force of Nature (2020) - IMDbAlong with having some brief and feeble action-style payoffs, "Force's" script comes off as dopey and a little red-blooded at the same time. It makes solid actors Hirsch and Gibson appear as though they didn't bother to read it or console with their agents. Aside from collecting the proverbial paycheck and staying relevant, you wonder why they even got involved. Yup, "Force" is a "dead horse". Rating: 1 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Outback 2019 * * * Stars

OutbackDirector: Mike Green
Year: 2019
Rated R
Rating: * * * Stars
Cast: Kym Cramp, Brendan Donoghue

"Crikey, blimey". "No worries, mate, she'll be right". 2019's Outback is my latest review. Shot on location in Sydney, Australia, it's a flick about a man and his annoying girlfriend who get lost in "the Land Down Under's" far off interior. Without food, sound judgement, water, or a sense of where they left their car, the couple drink their own urine and encounter some really poisonous varmints.

So yeah, I've seen perilous stuff like this before. I've just never seen it done without hand-held gimmicks or the pitfalls of pretentiousness. Just imagine 2002's Gerry but with a less arty approach and that's what you get with Outback. Also imagine Open Water but without I guess, water.

Outback (2019) reviews and overview - MOVIES and MANIAOutback's cinematography by Tim Nagle is panoramic and deft and the "why so serious?" musical score is all together pouncing. Rookie Mike Green's direction is stalling yet on the level. You ultimately wish Paul Hogan would just show up and help these torn lovebirds find their way back to civilization. You also wish an Aboriginal would come along and propel you to think your way through.

Outback is effective, hallucinatory, dour, well-acted, and has a slight sense of desolate agoraphobia. As a two-person show and a supposed true account, you roll your eyes at the characters for making such bad decisions but you also feel sorry for their unpalatable (and nasty) state of being.

Outback does have a happy ending but not a complete and fulfilling happy ending. The fact that one of these vacationers survived as long as they did with cell service after a few days, is beyond my comprehension. Alas, it's only a movie.

Outback' Is a Survival Thriller Based on an Urban Legend [Trailer ...So OK, Outback is no masterpiece but as something that gives you a feeling of being demoralized and left out on the lurch, it gets the job done. Outback as Aussie swallowing beauty, doesn't "crack". Rating: 3 stars. 

Written by Jesse Burleson

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Captive Nanny 2020 * * * Stars

The Captive NannyDirector: Amy S. Weber
Year: 2020
Rated NR
Rating: * * * Stars
Cast: Karynn Moore, Austin Highsmith, Michael Aaron Milligan

"I think they're gonna kill me". Oh yeah, that's reassuring. I guess I'll check au pair off my career list.

Anyway, 2020's The Captive Nanny is my latest review. And in the tradition of the entity in The Amityville Horror yelling "get out!", I felt compelled to say the same thing to the pushover childminder in "Captive". Heck, she needn't be in that reconnaissance house for more than a half hour (hint, hint).

The Captive Nanny (2020)Clocking in at a running time of 100 minutes (with brief commercials) and billed as a thriller with a touch of the "violence of the mind", The Captive Nanny's layered plot goes like this: A young woman who can't adopt and ends up splitting from her boyfriend, decides to take a job as a live-in nanny with a creepy family bent on watching her every move. When said family loses said woman's trust, they confine her to her room and hold her against her will.

The performances in "Captive" are solid with Karynn Moore playing nanny Chloe and Austin Highsmith and Michael Aaron Milligan playing psychotic parents Emily and Michael. Highsmith is the standout and she slowly slides off rails channeling snide villainy, mild rage, and tortured manipulation.

Watching The Captive Nanny, you eventually want her to suffer because she's also a cuckoo stalker. You want Highsmith's Emily to get what's coming to her and its defeating that Moore's Chloe doesn't have the gumption to at least fight back or break a darn window.

The Captive Nanny (TV Movie 2020) - Photo Gallery - IMDb"Captive", with all its Flowers in the Attic leavings and its ode to all things invasion of privacy, is one of your more effective Lifetime movie endeavors. It's frustrating, upsetting, gnawing, and bends the spectrum of TV-made, psychological terror. Observing The Captive Nanny in all its crippled sterility, you feel as if you are also "under lock and key". Rating: 3 stars. 

Written by Jesse Burleson

Friday, June 19, 2020

2 Minutes of Fame 2020 * * 1/2 Stars

2 Minutes of FameDirector: Leslie Small
Year: 2020
Rated R
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Jay Pharoah, Katt Williams, Keke Palmer

"I'm not doing whatever I want, I'm following my dream". So says the character of Deandre McDonald when it comes to making people guffaw and completely bust a gut. McDonald with no money, no job, a best friend manager, and a family back in Alabama, ventures to LA to make it as a touring comedian. He rips his home state while becoming a YouTube monger in 2 Minutes of Fame (my latest review).

Anyway, "Fame" at a running time of ninety-seven minutes, showcases star Jay Pharoah as the biggest scene chewer this side of 1990's Jim Carrey. With impressions ranging anywhere from Jay-Z to Eddie Murphy to Tracy Morgan to Denzel, Pharoah is likable if not a little hit-or-miss playing lead McDonald (mentioned in the first paragraph).

2 Minutes of Fame (2020) - IMDbYeah Jay could have been funnier, 2 Minutes of Fame could have been a little more over the top, and Mike Epps could have killed it if someone offered him a slight cameo in the foreground. What's on screen is basically lightweight, R-rated fare and something an aspiring student of stand-up might get insight to. Yup, just imagine watching Last Comic Standing as a pseudo, potty-mouthed version. Then imagine a translucent fever dream that David Chappelle would have concocted right before he became a household name. 

2 Minutes of Fame' Review - Lights Camera JacksonDirected by Leslie Small, featuring Katt Williams in a unique supporting role, and profusely made to subjugate today's Internet age, "Fame" is kinda stupid funny and reminded me of small scale comedies like Half Baked and 2006's Grandma's Boy. The film doesn't push any cruel envelope nor does it advanced the audacity of a career that Jay Pharoah might seek to have. Jay is basically playing himself here and with a direct-to-video feel, he doesn't exhibit enough padding to heighten his desired, star-making platform. Verdict: This "Fame" ain't no obscurity but it's no "grande dame" either. Rating: 2 and a half stars. 

Written by Jesse Burleson

Monday, June 15, 2020

The King of Staten Island 2020 * * 1/2 Stars

The King of Staten IslandDirector: Judd Apatow
Year: 2020
Rated R
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Pete Davidson, Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr

2020's The King of Staten Island is my latest write-up. And no, I'm not talking about Staten Island residents like Gene Simmons, Vernon Reid, and Method Man. "Staten" is about a twentysomething who lives with his mom and doesn't really have a career or direction in his life. It also doesn't help that his firefighter father died when he was seven leaving him distraught with low self-esteem, a pot-smoking habit, and ADHD.

Semi-autobiographical in its approach and blunt to the nth degree, The King of Staten Island is Judd Apatow at his most Apatow (yup, he's the director). Judd without the ability to yell "cut", gives us his usual trademarks. We're talking long-winded scenes, longer than normal running times for comedy/dramas, and improvisation to the max. "Staten" with a wandering and bloated eye, feels like the film Apatow was born to make. No one probably refused him final cut and I'm sure that made big Judd real happy.

The King of Staten Island' | Anatomy of a Scene - The New York TimesStarring the likes of Marisa Tomei, Steve Buscemi, and Pete Davidson (he plays the troubled lead in Scott Carlin), "Staten" follows the Apatow badge in which an unknown trouper gets a chance to break out as a main character in a big studio flick. Seth Rogen did it in Knocked Up while Amy Schumer did it in Trainwreck. Davidson does it raw here in "Staten" as a sort of life-imitating-art suitor. He's perfectly cast but you don't quite root for him because his life courses of action and paths aren't fully defined (the romanticized yet pat ending is proof of that).

The Funny Note The King Of Staten Island Actress Got For Her Sex ...Much like the journey Davidson's Scott takes, The King of Staten Island as a film feels jumbled and a little haphazard as well. I liked the authenticity of Staten Island's culture depicted and most of the actors in peaking in, slice-of-life mode, are ones you gravitate to. Still, "Staten" proves that Apatow can push the envelope but only in a drifting manner. Funny at times, depressing, and kinda touching, The King of Staten Island is no "court jester" but it's no "crowned head" either. Rating: 2 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Psycho Yoga Instructor 2020 * * 1/2 Stars

Psycho Yoga InstructorDirector: Brian Herzlinger
Year: 2020
Rated NR
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Ashley Wood, Lily Rains, Panos Viahos

2020's Psycho Yoga Instructor is my latest review. And yeah I'm wondering, what's up with all these constant, unadorned Lifetime movie titles? Couldn't they have named it something more out of the box like Warriors Breath?

Released on demand just three days ago and at war with who the helmer is (Brian Herzlinger or pseudonym Thomas Sullivan), Psycho Yoga Instructor is adequately slick but not entertaining enough to rival its similar correlative, Psycho Escort. At a random moment, I chuckled to myself silently and said, "what's next, Psycho Indoor Spin Coach?"

Psycho Yoga Instructor' Review: Lifetime thriller fails in vain ...Starring unknown actresses Ashley Wood and Lily Rains and featuring a goof of an antagonist in Panos Viahos (he plays Canada Dry-like journeyman and said psycho Dominic), Psycho Yoga Instructor is about a Hindu guru who becomes obsessed with one of his students while trying to nastily break up her flimsy marriage.

Clocking in at a running time of about 90 minutes (without commercials) and featuring yoga poses where personal space is severely invaded, Psycho Yoga Instructor burns largo and fails to provoke any real fear despite harboring a relatively creepy ending ("today is your first step in your growth of what you're meant to be"). Actor Viahos however, did get one thing right. He digs so deep into his role you believe he's Mr. yoga extraordinaire himself ("big inhale, hand and knees halfway left, beautiful long spine").

Psycho Yoga Instructor': Meet the cast of Lifetime's thriller ...All in all, Psycho Yoga Instructor is fairly well directed despite a little camp and some interludes of cheesy dreamlike sequences (rub-a-dub-dub in the tub). And the characters although unlikable and humdrum, do have somewhat decent portrayals by everyone involved. Bottom line: Opened to a sequel which will probably never happen, Psycho Yoga Instructor is no "downward dog" but it's no combo thriller masterpiece either. "Asana" everyone! Rating: 2 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

Sunday, June 7, 2020

2 Graves in the Desert 2020 * 1/2 Stars

2 Graves in the DesertDirector: Benjamin Goalabre
Year: 2020
Rated NR
Rating: * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Michael Madsen, William Baldwin, Cassie Howarth

"You tired?" I was for sure, especially at the halfway point of watching 2020's 2 Graves in the Desert (my latest review). If I had to view "Graves" again, I'd probably opt to attend a trying insurance seminar or maybe even a lecture on fine quilting.

So yeah, in 2 Graves in the Desert there's virtually no thrills even though it is billed as a thriller (talk about false advertising). What's on screen is basically sadistic, bloody, and for eighty-four minutes, almost pointless. And yes, it doesn't help that the soundtrack of "Graves" is that annoying and cliched, direct-to-video spy music.

Michael Madsen and William Baldwin star in trailer for kidnapping ...Anyhow, 2 Graves in the Desert involves a man and a woman who wake up to become trapped in the back of a truck. We as the audience don't quite know why because "Graves" has what feels like the bare bones of a plot (something about being nobbled for drugs and quote, unquote, "the formula").

Cassie Howarth and Ivan Gonzalez play the cramped hostages while Michael Madsen and William Baldwin play the bestial kidnappers (Billy Baldwin looks so much like brother Alec now I thought it was Alec).

"Graves" primarily consisting of back and forth discourse in a confined space, focuses less on the star power of Madsen and Baldwin and more on unknowns Howarth and Gonzalez. That gives 2 Graves in the Desert a claustrophobic feel but it also makes the film tedious and a bit of a chore to sit through.

Michael Madsen and William Baldwin star in trailer for kidnapping ...With a couple of flashbacks, some stylized direction from Benjamin Goalabre (a rookie helmer who thinks he's being innovative), callous beatings, and references to the flick Titanic (whah?), "Graves" is sadly the antipode of being entertained. With the potential to be something more diverting, 2 Graves in the Desert would rather dig its own cinematic "barrow". Rating: 1 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Survive the Night 2020 * * 1/2 Stars

Survive the NightDirector: Matt Eskandari
Year: 2020
Rated R
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Bruce Willis, Chad Michael Murray, Lydia Hull

"We weren't perfect but no one is". Survive the Night (my latest review) isn't perfect. Heck, it's not even close. But "Night" does have a few tense moments. And co-star Bruce "paycheck" Willis does emote slightly. In verity, he even manages to move from point A to point B and probably showed up on set for more than a week (ha-ha).

Survive the Night while compact in its first half as a ruffian thriller, descends into senseless and labored drivel towards the end. Reminiscent of home invasion stuff like No Good Deed and 2018's Breaking In, "Night" recycles its "evil that men do" screenplay to the point where it rights itself into a corner. "Night's" eighty-six minute running time feels like darn near two hours. I kept wondering why the protagonist characters didn't just get in a car and drive away when they had the chance.

Survive the Night' Review | Hollywood ReporterNasty, remorseless, violent, and taking place in the middle of nowhere, Survive the Night is a sweaty B-movie where the authorities are phantoms that never show up once. Filmed on location in Columbus, Georgia, "Night's" direction by Matt Eskandari is amicable but pretty basic.

On the plus side, the kicker is that Survive the Night has an original hook. The only reason the "good cop/bad cop" criminals invade a country home is because one of them is dying from a gunshot wound and a failed doctor happens to live there.

Survive the Night streaming: where to watch online?All in all, Survive the Night does have decent performances (especially Chad Michael Murray as the doc mentioned in the last paragraph) and it effectively hammers the notion that bad things happen to good people. Still, I can't for the life of me recommend "Night" (it was difficult experiencing a scene where a pregnant woman persona gets executed at a convenience store). By tooth and nail, I did "survive" it though. Rating: 2 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

Monday, June 1, 2020

Debt Collectors 2020 * * * Stars

Debt CollectorsDirector: Jesse V. Johnson
Year: 2020
Rated NR
Rating: * * * Stars
Cast: Scott Adkins, Lousi Mandylor, Vladimir Kulich

"No more hurting my fellow man". Oh really. Then how come the characters in Debt Collectors "hurt" and spit like no one's business. I mean male bodies are pounded like tenderized meat trolled out at a Four-star steakhouse. Whoever was in charge of the sound editing via many blaring punches needs a little recognition.

Anyway, "Collectors" is a cleanly-staged action film, a pseudo-martial arts mantra, and an ode to how much head trauma punishment a human being can take. It's also a tale of two guys who demand some long, overdue moolah. They accomplish this by using desperate physicality, a non-blarney approach, and no BS.

Watch an exclusive clip from Debt Collectors starring Scott AdkinsThe amassed actors involved (Scott Adkins and Louis Mandylor) exhibit spitfire dialogue, mobbing frailty, pinched brotherhood, and knuckled fists of fury. Their scenes of prolonged discussion are like Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield: The Dukes of Hazzard version.

As far as this year's releases go, Debt Collectors is about as violent and unforgivable as a "grindhouse" spool on high-grade PCP. Being a second installment to 2018's The Debt Collector (which I have yet to see), "Collectors" is almost akin to the True Romance sequel Quentin Tarantino never had a chance to make (Tony Scott's signature lighting and lead Christian Slater excluded).

Yet to be released in the UK, feeling like a latter-day Western, and directed by a guy who's also a stunt coordinator (Jesse V. Johnson), "Collectors" is about a couple of debt collectors who get involved with a drug kingpin bent on killing them no matter how well the job is done.

PAYBACK (AKA DEBT COLLECTORS) is Hitting UK DVD and Digital ...This film takes place in LA and Las Vegas with a final shootout sequence that follows some explanatory talk and footsy, electrocution torture. I give "Collectors" a 3 star rating but it's not for the easily squeamish. Yup, you can "bill it".

Written by Jesse Burleson

Monday, May 25, 2020

The Photograph 2020 * 1/2 Stars

The PhotographDirector: Stella Meghie
Year: 2020
Rated PG-13
Rating: * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Issa Rae, Lakeith Stanfield, Courtney B. Vance

"Long distance never works". I agree wholeheartedly. The Photograph as a ponderous romantic drama, doesn't really work either. Practically annoyed, I sat through a hundred glossed over minutes only to say, "what was the point of all this courting, leading on of a partner, and googly eye-ness?"

Anyway, "Photograph" is for the most part, mildly arbitrary. It's about a woman whose photographer mother dies of cancer and she gets involved with a journalist who happens to interview her estranged father. Issa Rae plays said woman while San Bernardino native Lakeith Stanfield plays said journalist. Against an impersonating Louisiana landscape, their performances aren't terrible but there are plenty of eye-rolling moments between these two agonizing nutters.

Where Was The Photograph Filmed? List of All Filming LocationsSo yeah, picture 2016's Moonlight but without any solidity and that's what you get with The Photograph. And just for kicks and giggles, picture something Spike Lee would have done on holiday (during his Mo' Better Blues phase) and "Photograph" will shabbily fill in the blanks. Finally, imagine Tyler Perry running out of writing wriggle room and The Photograph will give you that tangent-ed perspective.

Distributed by Universal Pictures, told through two interconnecting stories (one in the 1980's and one in present day), featuring an earthy R&B soundtrack, and harboring background music that channels a little Terrence Blanchard (even though it's done by Texan Robert Glasper), "Photograph" is fairly well-directed if not tarnished in crystal clear pretentiousness and wandering flashbacks.

The Photograph (2020) Photo (With images) | Movie photo
This film is whimsical, kaleidoscopic, and sort of dream-like but that's the be-all-end-all. There's no revelation, no big reveal, no give out, and you wish what's on screen wasn't such an elegant snooze-r. If I had my druthers, I'd prevent any Redbox viewer from paying $1.80 to see "Photograph". I'd also take an actual "photo" and stare at it instead. Color space included. Rating: 1 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Last Moment of Clarity 2020 * * * Stars

Last Moment of ClarityDirectors: Colin Krisel, James Krisel
Year: 2020
Rated R
Rating: * * * Stars
Cast: Zach Avery, Samara Weaving, Carly Chaikin

"I saw something that I wasn't suppose to see". Me, well I saw 2020's Last Moment of Clarity and I initially didn't know where it was headed.

Anyway, Last Moment of Clarity is a ratcheted and calculated thriller that takes about fifty or so minutes to thrill. It's a shadowy film about a guy named Sam who is led to believe his girlfriend was murdered three years ago by accented mobsters. When Sam sees squeeze Georgia on the big screen a la the eighth lead, he goes to sunny LA because he thinks she's still alive.

New Action Movies Last Moment of Clarity (2020) - YouTubeSam is played by the brooding Zach Avery while Georgia is played by Margot Robbie lookalike Samara Weaving (Hugh Weaving's niece). Brian Cox who's well known in any capacity, checks in as a fatherly side character.

So yeah, Last Moment of Clarity is directed by Colin Krisel and James Krisel (it doesn't say if they are brothers or not). These guys were obviously inspired by dudes like Mike Figgis and the legendary Steven Soderbergh.

Using flashbacks, dark cinematography, a romantic twist, and low angles where the camera never seems to sit still, Colin and James give us a disciplined directorial debut that takes a little while to get going. Heck, you think "Clarity" is a drama that takes itself too seriously until it doesn't.

REVIEW: Last Moment of Clarity Is a Pale Imitation of HitchcockDistributed by Lionsgate and rated R for some bloody images (and a few F-bombs), Last Moment of Clarity is slight neo-noir that's bemused at the beginning yet unfolding at the end. I liked almost every sullen shot used by the Krisels and I pretty much dug the entire musical score (when it was put in at the right moments). Hopefully, Last Moment of Clarity will not be the "last" time Colin and James Krisel decide to helm a tenebrous flick. Rating: 3 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

Monday, May 18, 2020

Capone 2020 * * * Stars

CaponeDirector: Josh Trank
Year: 2020
Rated R
Rating: * * * Stars
Cast: Tom Hardy, Linda Cardellini, Matt Dillon

"You can drop the act now". Tom Hardy couldn't drop the act if he tried. In Capone (my latest review), Hardy plays Al Capone and becomes as usual, the consignment chameleon.

Anyway Al Capone as a character, also goes by the tag Fonse (that's what everyone called him). Capone as a film, well it never has anyone saying his real name.

So OK, as something about the final year of Al Capone's decrepit life, Capone is a nightmarish breadth of view and not your typical crime drama. Shot like a TV movie but lush and gaping in its tone, Capone doesn't care whether or not you embrace its fever dream vision (bloodied detached eyeballs as a horse head metaphor are included here).

Capone' Review | Hollywood ReporterNow Capone does have a final, nasty shoot-'em-up with a gold-plated Tommy Gun. And yes, Fonse does make a few threats about cutting a poor soul's head off. But hey, Capone is not Scarface people. It's more a character study about a dude with dementia, a guy with neurosyphilis who can't control his own darn bowels. Third time director Josh Trank fashions Capone as a brute horror flick with an hallucinatory underbelly. He's not in the business of entertaining the audience. He'd rather sledgehammer his out of the box fancy.

The cast of Capone is all good with Hardy's Fonse basically hugging the screen via a mugging scowl for the ages. He is backed up proficiently with work from Noel Fisher (his son Junior), Matt Dillon (his mysterious buddy Johnny), and Linda Cardellini (his sympathetic wife Mae). Their personas are like frustrated rogues just waiting for Al to peacefully be put out of his misery.

All in all, Capone does do a good job of having shooting location New Orleans masquerading as Palm Tree-d, Palm Island, Florida. And yeah, the film's ominous score always gives you a foreboding feeling that something bad is about to happen.

Where was Capone Filmed? 2020 Movie Filming LocationsBottom line:  Capone at 104 minutes, could've been a little longer in length in order to provide more insight into this last days, true-life American gangster. But for what's abruptly on screen I'll take, even if it's cinematic "hatchet man". Rating: 3 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

Friday, May 15, 2020

Rev 2020 * * * 1/2 Stars

RevDirector: Ant Horasanli
Year: 2020
Rated R
Rating: * * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Francesco Filice, Sean Ray, Vivica A. Fox

"You gotta take what's yours". According to Rev (my latest review), that refers to stealing cars, stealing girlfriends, and stealing freedom.

Anyway, Rev as a word, refers to a revolution of an engine per minute. Rev the movie, well it's much more than that. As a blueprint about a car thief who becomes an informant in order bust up a vehicle smuggling ring, Rev is a familiar story that's well told. Shot in Toronto, Ontario, Rev doesn't need an extravagant budget, prodigal flash, or Vin Diesel to get my recommendation.

Now Rev does have its share of stylish automobiles. And those automobiles do partake in some good old fashioned drifting. But hey, this isn't a car racing endeavor nor is it a heart-pumping action flick. Rev is more of a glitz and glitter drama, a drug film with a twist, and an underground spectacle with a Mob feel. It begs the question of what if Gone in 60 Seconds or The Fast and the Furious were directed by Iranian Barbet Schroeder.

REV Official Trailer Exclusive 2020 Fast & Furious Style Movie ...The cast of Rev is filled with confident unknown actors and the still feisty Vivica A. Fox. You got car booster Mikey played by the stone-faced Francesco Filice. You got Diego Luna lookalike Sean Ray playing criminal mastermind Charlie, and you got slinky Hannah Gordon playing Charlie's squeeze Ava. Their characters are like low key versions of Brian O'Conner, Dominic Toretto, and badass Letty Ortiz ("I don't got friends, I got family").

All in all, Rev is a mature and taut directorial effort from Mr. Ant Horasanli (that's his first name no joke). With a catchy, techno musical score, a moderate pace, and some chic Toronto locales (for once it's not Toronto masquerading as NYC or Chicago), Rev gets a rating of 3 and a half stars. "Rev" it up!

Written by Jesse Burleson

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Arkansas 2020 * * 1/2 Stars

ArkansasDirector: Clark Duke
Year: 2020
Rated R
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Clark Duke, Vince Vaughn, Eden Brolin

Arkansas as slow burn, droning incarnate, is my latest review. It is based on a novel of the same name by John Brandon. The cast of Arkansas is like a bunch of recognizable actors going unrecognizable. Case in point: Co-star and Illinois native Vince Vaughn wears a St. Louis Cardinals hat while listening to their games on an old radio. Oh and director-slash-star Clark Duke sports an adult film mustache and kinda looks like a chick (oxymoron alert).

Anyway, 2020's Arkansas is not a bad feature debut for the 35-year-old Duke. Filmed at a snail's pace with zoom shots, whip pans, and a time setting that feels mostly 80's and 90's, Arkansas appears like something Quentin Tarantino would have done pre-Reservoir Dogs.

Arkansas' Movie Liam Hemsworth Review: Stream It or Skip It?In regards to Arkansas, you get a country-fried rock soundtrack, acts of brutal violence minus the action, and stories with chapters attached a la Pulp Fiction. Clark Duke, who was obviously influenced by directors such as S. Craig Zahler, Steven Soderbergh, and Tarantino (mentioned earlier), is a visual and camera hot dog helmer. Unfortunately, his bitty storytelling sensibilities in Arkansas don't quite catch up to his keen eye behind the lens.

The performances in Arkansas are underplayed yet solid with Vaughn, Duke, and Liam Hemsworth being the standouts. Their dialogue readings are slow, philosophical, and drawn-out. Yup, Arkansas may have a running time under two hours but hey, it kinda feels like three.

Clark Duke-directed crime drama Arkansas gets a poster and trailerWith music mostly from The Flaming Lips, a distributor by the name of Lionsgate, and a knack for having Johnny Lee's "Lookin' for Love" never sounding the same way again, Arkansas is about two drug dealers who take orders from a callous kingpin who they have never seen or met. In 2018, the normally fast-talking Vince Vaughn starred in the glacially-paced Dragged Across Concrete. Expect more of the same here. Call it "Arkan-drawl". Rating: 2 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

Friday, May 8, 2020

Deadly Mile High Club 2020 * * Stars

Deadly Mile High ClubDirector: Doug Campbell
Year: 2020
Rated NR
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Allison McAtee, Marc Herrmann, Anna Marie Dobbins

"Nice and smooth, all the way to full power". Hubba hubba! That's airplane speak, mild flirtation, or I guess, maybe something else.

So yeah, in Deadly Mile High Club (my latest review), there's some vintage planes, some rudder, some do to death, and some actual "mile-high club" whoopee involved (on a wooden storage box no less). Hey, a movie's gotta "get its Cinemax on" and back up its better than normal, Lifetime Network title.

Is 'Deadly Mile High Club' Based On A True Story? It's A Common ...Anyway, "Mile High's" pitched story involves a kooky flight instructor who tries to seduce her young student along with wrecking his dull marriage. Sexily evil Allison McAtee plays flight instructor Tanya while wide-eyed Marc Herrmann plays aspiring flight learner Jake. In verity, "Mile High" is a Lifetime flick so their performances feel like parodies of A-list actors via some theatrical releases.

With a running time of eighty-eight minutes, aviation sequences where you can tell there's no actual flying involved, and production values that would make the late Tony Scott readily roll over in his grave, Deadly Mile High Club is overripe camp perpetrated on the highest level.

Two campy examples in "Mile High" are characters that are completely over the top and/or factitious. They are Margaret (Jake's mother-in-law) and Gonzo (a rival flight instructor to Tanya). Watching their rum antics, I felt like I was taking in a comedy and not a stifling, TV thriller (which "Mile High" claims to be).

Where Was Deadly Mile High Club Filmed? Lifetime Cast DetailsDeadly Mile High Club despite featuring some good-looking people and some sexy, absurdly innuendo, falls into so bad it's bad territory. Sans a small twist I didn't see coming, it's an uneven combo of abstaining drama, mad as a hatter terror fest, and unintentional satire. "Mile High" is like viewing Point Break if Point Break were an SNL skit. Alternate title: "Mistakes on a Plane". Rating: 2 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson