CVIndependent

Fri07212017

Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

DVDs/Home Viewing

18 Jul 2017
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Writer-director James Gray has made a powerful film about Percy Fawcett, a British explorer who disappeared in 1925 while looking for a lost city in the Amazon. Charlie Hunnam gives an impressive performance in The Lost City of Z as Fawcett, a man so hell-bent on restoring his family’s good name that he leaves his wife and children, for years at a time, to explore the Amazon. After many brushes with death in his travels, he returns to England—only to find himself fighting in World War I. Eventually, Percy’s son, Jack (Tom Holland … yes, Spider-Man!), joins him for one more quest in the Amazon, and it turns out to be Percy’s last. There are many different accounts regarding the fate of Percy and his son, and Gray comes up with a conclusion that is powerful and beautiful. Hunnam is great here, as is Robert Pattinson as Henry Costin, a…
11 Jul 2017
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Writer-director Terrence Malick has shit the bed with his third consecutive film: His latest cinematic effort, Song to Song, is a joke. I am a card-carrying, Malick-worshiping super fan who is in pain watching one of my directing heroes lose his way. After the triumph that was The Tree of Life, Malick shot To the Wonder and Knight of Cups out his film-making butt—and I hoped that would be the worst of it. Alas, Song to Song, which is supposed to be about people having love affairs amidst the Austin music scene, is Malick’s worst … by far. For starters, I just have no idea what the fuck is supposed to be going on in this thing. Rooney Mara plays some kind of groupie who hooks up with a record producer played by Michael Fassbender. Then she starts dating wannabe musician Ryan Gosling. Then Gosling dumps her. Then Natalie Portman…
04 Jul 2017
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Director Joon-ho Bong, the purveyor of spectacularly wacky cinematic things (The Host, Snowpiercer), has delivered to Netflix Okja, perhaps his wackiest film yet: It’s a tale about a future world in which meat is scarce, so huge pigs are biogenetically engineered for slaughter. The title character is a prized, giant animal raised in the mountains by Mija (Seo-Hyun Ahn), a young girl who thinks Okja is her pet. She’s oblivious to the fact that Okja’s days are numbered, so when an envoy for a large corporation (Jake Gyllenhaal, going completely nuts here) shows up and takes Okja away, Mija flies into action—and the bizarre adventure begins. Paul Dano, one of the kings of movie weirdness, chips in as the leader of an animal-rescue corps that includes Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) and Lily Collins. Following up her collaboration with Bong on Snowpiercer is Tilda Swinton, playing twins (as she did…
26 Jun 2017
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Writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour follows up her notable feature debut, the authentic vampire story A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, with another horror story, The Bad Batch. This time out, she focuses on cannibals. Suki Waterhouse plays Arlen, newly exiled to a desert landscape—where she is quickly captured by cannibals, watching as her arm and leg are cut off and devoured. After escaping, she wanders around a bit, eventually stopping by a safe haven run by The Dream (Keanu Reeves). Some business involving the daughter of Miami Man (Jason Momoa, aka Aquaman), one of her captors, represents the only thing that passes for a conventional subplot in this purposefully rambling, meandering affair. Amirpour’s sophomore effort is a mixed bag, but it looks amazing, boasts a great soundtrack and has a few creepy passages in it. But if a cohesive story is what you seek, you won’t find it here.…
20 Jun 2017
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One of the better films of the 1990s finally gets a sequel as Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) and the boys swing back into action. After being gone two decades following the heist after which he skipped town with all of the money, screwing over his gang mates, Mark finally returns home—and the circumstances are grim. Best friend Simon (Jonny Lee Miller) remains pissed; Spud (Ewen Bremner) is an absolute suicidal mess; and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is fresh out of prison—after an escape—and looking for some payback. Director Danny Boyle also returns, and he’s put together a film that, while not nearly as good as the original, is a sequel worthy of the original. It’s fun to see these characters again, and interesting to see where the years have taken them. (Basically, not very far.) Heroin addiction, a big part of the original, is more of an afterthought in this one,…
05 Jun 2017
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In The Survivalist, Martin McCann plays a character—simply listed as Survivalist in the credits—who is living on a small piece of land in a post-apocalyptic world where food has grown scarce. It’s a lonely existence, but he has a crop to get by, and it’s all for him. That is, until a mysterious woman (Olwen Fouere) and her daughter (Mia Goth) show up looking to barter for food. He refuses their offer of pumpkin seeds, but the Survivalist accepts the offer of sleeping with the daughter … and then things get a little complicated. Writer-director Stephen Fingleton has made a film that is relentlessly dark, and has almost nothing good to say about human beings. (Hey, the human race needs a good smack-down sometimes … am I right?) McCann is highly memorable as a nervous man who yearns for companionship yet trusts no one. Fouere provides the right amount of…
23 May 2017
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Some 26 years ago, ABC did a very, very bad thing: The network cancelled Twin Peaks after just two seasons, without telling David Lynch the season finale would be a series finale. This resulted in the most unholy of cliffhangers. That cliffhanger that would last 26 years. Thanks to Showtime, Twin Peaks fans finally get some relief with the return of Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), the Black Lodge and Deputy Andy (Harry Goaz). As of this writing, I’ve seen the first four hours of what will be 18, all directed and co-written by Lynch. The first two hours play like the latter-day Lynch films (Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway), and have more in common with the dark, horrific Peaks movie Fire Walk With Me than the comparatively bright original TV show. Episodes 3 and 4 take on a funny, goofier tone at times, reminiscent of the odd humor that propelled the…
16 May 2017
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I had the pleasure of seeing Norm Macdonald’s standup routine live sometime in the 1990s, if I remember right. He played the local college in Reno, Nev., and the crowd wasn’t all that impressed with him. Meanwhile, my brother and I laughed our asses off. He was rambling quite a bit, and seemed to be making everything up on the fly. Bro and I thought it was brilliant, but we were in the minority: He got mildly heckled that night. (I will never forget his line: “Never dance with a girl who has a belly full of chowder!”) For this Netflix special, Norm is all buttoned up in a suit, and his routine is fine-tuned. It’s also hilarious, shocking and nothing short of comedic brilliance. He’s funny as hell in this thing. This special from Macdonald is just the latest in a string of great Netflix comedy offerings, from the…
08 May 2017
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I watch Donnie Darko every few years. It’s one of those great weird movies in which new things hit you each time you see it. It’s also fun to see how young Jake Gyllenhaal was in this 2001 film. He was just a lil’ baby. My discovery with this viewing: I had forgotten Seth Rogen is in this movie. He plays a bully who harasses Gretchen (Jena Malone). Also, I’m not sure I’d watched it since Patrick Swayze passed away. The film is just a little bit darker knowing the former Outsider is gone. This new limited edition includes a director’s cut, as well as the original version. Honestly, I can’t remember whether I’d watched the director’s cut before; the version does not seem all that different, other than it’s about 15 minutes longer. I did see a few scenes that struck me as new. Mary McDonnell plays one of…
02 May 2017
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Some things should never go away. While RiffTrax (headed by Michael J. Nelson) and Cinematic Titanic (headed by Joel Hodgson) kept the Mystery Science Theater 3000 dream alive a little bit over the years, the entertainment world has been severely lacking robots and humans riffing insults during crap movies. Yes, it’s been 18 years since it ended with season 11! Thanks to Netflix and a successful crowd-funding campaign, that has all changed with the return of MST3K. Hodgson, the true father of this enterprise, has stepped back in as creator, writer and a small character named Ardy, and the results are pretty good. New host Jonah Ray is no Joel, but he gives Nelson a run for his money. The bots have new voices, and that’s a bit jarring at first, but they eventually own it. It’s nice to have Patton Oswalt on hand as TV’s Son of TV’s Frank.…
17 Apr 2017
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Adam Sandler’s third movie with Netflix is the very definition of overindulgence. There’s a decent movie in here from director Steven Brill, who worked with Sandler previously on Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds and The Do-Over—but Sandy Wexler is a mess obscured by too many subplots. Sandler stars as the title character, a talent manager trying to find new clients in the 1990s. After working with low-level comedians and daredevils, Sandy finds Courtney Clarke (Jennifer Hudson), an amusement-park performer with a stunning voice. Sandy takes charge of her career, and sends her on a superstar trajectory. Of course, Sandler creates one of his weirdo characterizations, with a goofy voice and strange mannerisms. While some of the 1990s jokes involving Fruitopia, Arsenio Hall and the Atkins Diet are funny, Sandler and Brill take the movie off into a strange, unlikely romance realm that destroys all of the fun. The movie is supremely…
11 Apr 2017
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The Void is a throwback to John Carpenter/Clive Barker horror films that’s completely insane, horribly acted—and a whole lot of fun for anybody who likes their horror served up with a side of cheese. A brash policeman (Aaron Poole) picks up a stranger on the side of the road and takes him to a sparsely populated hospital (shades of Halloween 2). While there, a possessed nurse (shades of Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness) murders a patient, then promptly turns into a messed-up monster (shades of Carpenter’s The Thing) while the hospital is besieged by a zombie-like throng of people dressed in white cloaks (shades of Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13). Shortly thereafter, the head doctor dies, but comes back, promptly skins himself and unleashes a world down below filled with mutants (shades of Barker’s Hellraiser). That’s just some of the homages, and they all come together … to make little or…

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