CVIndependent

Sun09222019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

DVDs/Home Viewing

09 Sep 2019
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Harvey Weinstein is, and always was, a disgusting pig of a human being. Untouchable is a documentary about his despicable ways, specifically his abuse of power and women—and filmmakers don’t need to work hard to illustrate that the guy is a menace. Victims of his abuse, including actresses such as Rosanna Arquette, offer first-hand accounts of Weinstein’s crimes, including actual recordings of Weinstein trying to coerce people into sex. The fact that he got away with what he did for so long isn’t something that this movie really delves into, but it does give some people a deserved chance to tell their story—and the film helps expose this guy for the monster he truly is. The film, appropriately, closes with the rise of the Me Too movement, which has coincided with the end of this fuckhead’s career. He’s managed to tie up his cases in court and pay a lot…
03 Sep 2019
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Every now and then, Francis Ford Coppola goes back to his 1979 masterpiece, Apocalypse Now, and gives it another go. In 2001, he did the Redux version, which featured the clumsy French plantation scene, and an additional scene with the Playboy playmates that should have remained on the cutting-room floor. There was also a scene in which Martin Sheen’s Willard steals the surfboard owned by Kilgore (Robert Duvall) … and subsequent scenes of Willard and his crew hiding from an angry Kilgore as he tried to find his board. The additional footage added up to 53 minutes, making the movie nearly 200 minutes long. The new Final Cut keeps the surfboard stuff, but loses the playmates scene. Unfortunately, most of the plantation scene remains. (The dinner conversation is tedious, although the opium den is kind of cool.) The Final Cut clocks in at 181 minutes, keeping some of the interesting…
27 Aug 2019
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The first season of Netflix’s Mindhunter—released back in October 2017—failed to grab me. But the just-released second season, with its first three episodes directed by executive producer David Fincher, kept me watching. The show plays as sort of a “greatest hits” for serial killers, as an FBI division investigates the motivations of some of history’s most notorious real-life killers in the late 1970s. The main investigative plot has the team searching for the Atlanta child murderer(s), which occurred between 1979 and 1981, but it also involves the BTK serial killer. The team interviews David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) and Charles Manson. Of note: Manson is played by Damon Herriman, who also played Manson in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, albeit it only for a few seconds. The show stumbles a bit when it comes to Agent Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) dealing with family drama. It’s one subplot…
19 Aug 2019
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Lot of Gunns work on Brightburn, featuring a dark twist on a Superman-like mythos. James Gunn (director of the Guardians of the Galaxy films) produces a script by brothers Brian and Mark Gunn. Young actor Jackson A. Dunn stars as the central character, a young alien boy who is starting to figure out he wasn’t actually adopted by his parents (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman). Like Superman, he has superpowers, including heat vision and super strength—but unlike Superman, he apparently doesn’t intend to put those powers to good use, because he starts ruthlessly killing people, including immediate family. While the movie does have a superhero-gone-bad, sci-fi element, it’s mostly just a ruthless horror film with nasty gore. I really don’t have a problem with this, and I found Brightburn somewhat entertaining, but it’s nothing all that original. I do give the filmmakers props for going to the dark side and…
12 Aug 2019
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Casey Affleck writes, directs and stars in Light of My Life, a cross between The Road, Leave No Trace and The Stand. While the film feels a little too familiar, it rises above the unoriginality in its third act thanks to performances by Affleck and his young co-star, Anna Pniowsky. A father (Affleck) and daughter (Pniowsky) are living off the land after a plague has wiped out most of the planet’s female population. To protect his daughter, nicknamed Rag, Dad has her dress as a boy and tries to keep her out of the public eye. Much of the movie involves the two telling stories to each other in what feels like improv; those scenes are actually kind of fun. When the two wind up in the home of a friendly preacher (Tom Bower), the film reaches a new level. The last act of the movie is its best, where…
06 Aug 2019
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White supremacist Bryon Widner (Jamie Bell), after being raised on a doctrine of hate in a skinhead camp, has a change of heart when he finds love with a single mother (Danielle Macdonald). Of course, putting a skinhead past behind you—especially when you’ve opted to tattoo your face with hate images—is not an easy thing. Writer-director Guy Nattiv, basing his film on Widner’s true story, does a nice job of showing that redemption sometimes comes at a high price. Bell is great here as Widner, as is Macdonald as the woman who manages to love him even though he’s a complete asshole. The film feels like a distant cousin of the Edward Norton-starring American History X, although it doesn’t have the artistry of that movie. Still, the movie is a solid story, well-acted—and proof that Bell is a bigger talent than his resume shows. The supporting cast includes Bill Camp…
29 Jul 2019
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Eddie Murphy and Jerry Seinfeld allegedly launched their professional comedy careers during the same exact week in the 1970s. Now we get to watch two of the funniest people on the planet go out for a cup of coffee—and it’s totally hysterical. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is really growing on me, and its 11th season might be its best yet. Murphy, Martin Short, Seth Rogen and Matthew Broderick are among the guests, and every episode is highly watchable. The indisputable highlight is Murphy, who, once again, teases that he will do standup comedy again someday. If he doesn’t, taking a seat in a car next to Seinfeld is an adequate substitute—because he kills on this show. He does enough routines for a good Murphy special, including a remembrance of a visit to Michael Jackson’s house—including an encounter with a progressively unruly Bubbles the Chimp. He also uncorks his already-infamous…
16 Jul 2019
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Teen Spirit is Max Minghella’s directorial debut—he also wrote the script—and the film is a bit on the hackneyed side as it tells the story of a young girl’s rise to fame as a singer via a televised talent show. What makes it all rather watchable is Elle Fanning as that girl, giving the talented actress a nice opportunity to show off an impressive singing voice. Fanning belts out songs by Tegan and Sara, Annie Lennox and Sigrid with refined assurance, making one believe she might actually win a TV talent show if she chose to compete. The story around those singing moments is a little weird as Violet (Fanning), a Polish girl living in England, enlists the help of a former Russian opera star (Zlatko Buric) to be her manager. She makes it through the ranks despite little confidence in herself. It all has a Flashdance feel, although Violet…
08 Jul 2019
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The third season is the best yet for Netflix’s Stranger Things, the Duffer Brothers’ 1980s throwback series. Much of the action, including a showdown with the Mind Flayer monster from the Upside Down, takes place in the Starcourt Mall, a mighty authentic wonder of art direction. (Sam Goody and Ground Round make notable appearances.) Of course, the Russians now play a prominent part as Hopper (David Harbour) tries to protect his adopted daughter, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), from the Reds, demons—and, most notoriously, her new boyfriend, Mike (Finn Wolfhard), who likes to kiss way too much. Steve (Joe Keery) has his best season yet, working in an ice cream store with new cast member and major standout Maya Hawke (daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman) as his co-scooper. The special effects this time around are top-notch, with more nice nods to John Carpenter, Stephen King and The Blob. Harbour…
01 Jul 2019
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Bob Dylan peaked, in my opinion, during that strange time in the mid-1970s when he hit the road with a traveling circus of his music/poetry friends, covered his face with white makeup and delivered some of the rawest, most-straightforward rocking performances of his career. Thankfully, that’s the focus of Rolling Thunder Revue on Netflix. Martin Scorsese, for the second time, has made a documentary focusing on the musical icon, combining archive concert footage with interviews (most notably a new chat with Dylan himself) to tell the story of the most-interesting tour of the man’s career. Dylan had just finished touring stadiums with The Band, and wanted to play more-intimate venues. So he did, and he brought the likes of Joni Mitchell, Allen Ginsberg and Joan Baez along with him. The concert footage shows Dylan focused, driving and sometimes very funny as he delivers new music along with his already-classic songbook.…
26 Jun 2019
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I’m a big fan of anthology horror movies and TV shows. Creepshow stands as one of my all-time-favorite horror movies, so when I see another anthology horror film getting good buzz, I get excited. Word had it that Nightmare Cinema was a blast … but alas, it totally blows. Mickey Rourke plays the Projectionist, a purposeless dude screening horror films in an old, mystical theater. The premise for the short films in this movie has something to do with the main characters walking into the theater, sitting down and seeing their story. Each one of those stories—including a demon-possession tale, a crazy-mother story, a cabin-in-the-woods scenario and a kid who sees dead people—is lame, lame, lame. There isn’t an original moment to be had. It should just be called Mickey Rourke Actually Gets a Job, because that’s the only shocking thing about it. Standard gore effects, terrible writing and lousy…
17 Jun 2019
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Robert Pattinson, the man who will be Batman, continues establishing himself as one of his generation’s finest actors with High Life, a dark, scarily effective sci-fi thriller. Directed and co-written by Claire Denis, the film stars Pattinson as Monte, a death-row inmate sent into space with a crew of prisoners, including a murderous doctor played by Juliette Binoche. The prisoners dedicate their lives to scientific experiments rather than rotting in cells back on Earth. It’s established early that Monte and his toddler daughter are the only survivors of the flight after things went terribly wrong. The deterioration of the mission is told in flashback. Mia Goth and Andre Benjamin play two other members of the ill-fated crew. Everybody is terrific in this movie, which turns out to be one of the darker, more-effective sci-fi offerings in years. The mission’s ultimate goal is to pass through a black hole and see…

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