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Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

DVDs/Home Viewing

10 Apr 2018
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Al Pacino does haunting work in HBO’s Paterno as Joe Paterno, the former Penn State football coach who was a cowardly liar when it came to the case of Jerry Sandusky, one of Paterno’s assistants—and now a convicted pedophile. The film, directed by Barry Levinson, starts with Paterno on top of the world, about to win a record-setting football game. But behind the scenes, a story is brewing—one that will derail Paterno and others who led at a university that chose to cover up Sandusky’s acts in order to protect a legendary football program. That, of course, was disgusting, and Levinson’s film drives that point home in what amounts to a horror show. Jim Johnson, who plays Sandusky in a few chilling scenes, looks a lot like the real guy—so much so that your stomach turns when he’s onscreen. Sorry, Mr. Johnson. Pacino portrays Paterno as he appeared during his…
03 Apr 2018
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After watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi again, I can say that it I liked it even less than I did the first time. To be clear (or, maybe more confusing): I like the movie just fine. I just have major reservations about some choices made by director Rian Johnson. For example, a few months haven’t lessened my annoyance with a frozen Princess Leia flying through space to save her own ass; Kylo Ren with his shirt off; and just about everything Johnson did with Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac). Too much of this feels decidedly non-Star Wars to me. However, the stuff with Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is so good that it saves the movie. Their bickering on that island as Luke basically goes through a bit of a wuss phase is great moviemaking, and feels right at home in the Star Wars…
27 Mar 2018
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Wow! Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet was a show that was just OK in its first season—but not only does it hit its stride in the second; it becomes one of the funniest shows on TV (or streaming, or whatever). Why? Mainly because Timothy Olyphant’s performance as mildly agitated Joe—husband to recently undead cannibal Sheila (Drew Barrymore)—has gone from slightly off to totally on. In the first episode alone, he has a solid 10 moments that are worth a laugh. He not only gets the laughs; he gets them with pitch-perfect timing. Barrymore is no slouch, either, although she’s simply continuing her great work from Season 1. The writing on this show is done by a group of people (including Victor Fresco) who have just said, “Who gives a fuck anymore?” All the proverbial stops have been taken out. There are lines in this show that are as nasty/funny as anything…
21 Mar 2018
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I was surprised as heck when Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, still doing relatively well at the box office, beat the new Star Wars movie to iTunes. Man, the significance of in-theater revenue dips with each passing second. Well, I missed this in theaters, and I feel a relative amount of shame about that. As a critic, I should’ve raced out to see this box-office darling. Sometimes, I’m just a lazy asshole. Anyway, I’m not so lazy that I can’t click “download” and watch and stuff on my iTunes account, so I jumped into the latest from Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart as soon as the damned thing showed up as rentable. I can see why people flocked to it. It’s a lot of fun, and much more enjoyable than the Robin Williams original, a movie I enjoyed, even though it was definitely flawed. In this one, a bunch of…
12 Mar 2018
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The ballad of Mickey and Gus (Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust) comes to a satisfying conclusion in the third and final season of Love on Netflix. Whenever I watched this show, co-produced by Judd Apatow, I wound up binging it over the weekend it came out. In other words … I watched all of the episodes quickly—and happily. Rust and Jacobs have proven to be one of TV’s all-time-great, and most-realistic, couples since the show premiered in 2016, and I’m actually quite sorry to see their saga has ended. I would like to see a season of this every year until I die. Season 3 starts with two episodes directed by Michael Showalter, who hit his big-screen stride with last year’s The Big Sick. Showalter starts the season off with sure footing, and the momentum continues thereafter. Apatow himself directs an episode, all of which are consistently hilarious. On top…
07 Mar 2018
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I was a little worried about The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale, the eponymous host’s return to riffing on bad TV. The Soup, which he hosted for 11 (!) years, was a good time, but it ran its course—and after McHale’s thus-far so-so sitcom and movie career, a return to bad TV riffing sounded a little desperate and wrong. Well, shame on me: McHale still rocks at this shit. Granted, the first episode of this series—released each Sunday on Netflix—compounded my worries, because it was quite bad. The bits fell flat, and the timing of the gags and jokes was awkward. But then a funny thing happened: The show got really, really funny in its second and third episodes. Yes, McHale and friends have hit their stride, and this series turns out to be a happy return for McHale rather than a sad retread. While a long bit with…
26 Feb 2018
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Duncan Jones, director of the classic film Moon and the so-good movie Source Code, has continued his slump that started with Warcraft: The Beginning. Actually, Netflix’s Mute qualifies as a total disaster—a film so bad that Jones might find himself looking for sitcom-TV gigs in the near future. Alexander Skarsgard plays Leo, an Amish bartender in future Germany (you read that right) who lost his ability to speak in a boat-propeller accident as a kid. His girlfriend (Seyneb Saleh) disappears, sending him on a wild search that involves him hitting bad guys with big wooden sticks, like Joe Don Baker in Walking Tall. In what seems like an entirely different movie, Paul Rudd plays Cactus Bill, a crooked doctor trying to get back to the United States with his daughter. Oh, and Cactus Bill hangs around with a pedophile doctor (Justin Theroux, saddled with a goofy wig). While this indeed…
19 Feb 2018
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Based on a bizarre graphic novel by Derf Backderf (a former Independent contributor via his late, lamented syndicated comic strip The City), one of serial-killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s actual classmates, My Friend Dahmer is not what you might be expecting. Director Marc Meyers, who also wrote the screenplay, shows us a young, pre-murders Dahmer (Ross Lynch), an awkward high school student with an unfortunate chemistry obsession. Dahmer’s propensity toward spazzing out for attention gets him a little fan club, and a group of kids befriend him in an odd sort of way. While Dahmer makes it into their small ring of friends, nobody ever gets too close to him. Meyers uses real history (Dahmer’s obsession with a local jogger, his torture of animals) to try to explore some of the messed-up factors that led Dahmer to his horrifying killing spree. The events lead up to the moment when Dahmer picks up…
13 Feb 2018
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Netflix’s When We First Met doesn’t have an original bone in its body. Wait … movies don’t have bones in them. They are made from celluloid. Actually, movies are mostly digital now, so they don’t even have the film stuff. They are just computer megabyte things that are easily manipulated and … OK, bad comparison. Let me start over. This movie isn’t the most original thing you will see. In fact, it rips off a lot of movies (Groundhog Day, Back to the Future, Every Rom-Com Ever Made). Yet … I will recommend it thanks to the charm of its leads: Adam DeVine, Alexandra Daddario and Shelley Hennig. DeVine plays Noah, a goofy but sweet guy who meets Avery (Daddario) at a costume party. They hit it off, but he winds up in the friend zone, and watches her wind up with another man (Robbie Amell). Through the movie magic…
05 Feb 2018
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Originally planned for an April theatrical release, the third Cloverfield movie got a surprise release on Netflix immediately following the Super Bowl. While I’m a big fan of the first two installments in the Cloverfield series, J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot production company are kidding themselves by referring to The Cloverfield Paradox as a legitimate chapter in the Cloverfield universe. The Cloverfield Paradox was originally a project called God Particle, a standalone science fiction film directed by Julius Onah. Somewhere during production, Bad Robot decided to make it a Cloverfield film. How is it a Cloverfield film? A few short, badly constructed scenes are shoehorned into the narrative, including a 10-second final shot that feels like a total cheat. They did this sort of last-minute tinkering when they made 10 Cloverfield Lane, and that resulted in a good movie. This one results in a muddled mess. The plot involves…
31 Jan 2018
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When Doug Kenney died in 1980, he took a legendary comedic pedigree with him. It’s safe to say there was nothing like Animal House and Caddyshack before or after their releases. Kenney, one of the founding fathers of National Lampoon magazine, co-wrote both of those films. (He also produced Caddyshack.) David Wain, the master comedy director of such wonderful things as Wet Hot American Summer and Role Models, gives the legend of Kenney a slightly uneven but ultimately enjoyable tribute with A Futile and Stupid Gesture. The movie chronicles Kenney’s everlasting contributions to American comedy, with Will Forte delivering strong work as the humor maestro. The movie covers events from the late 1960s, when Kenney attended Harvard, through 1980, when Kenney either fell or jumped off of a cliff in Hawaii shortly after the release of Caddyshack. His little golf movie took a critical shellacking upon its initial release, something…
23 Jan 2018
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Parents start killing their kids for no reason in Mom and Dad, an inconsistent horror-comedy from writer-director Brian Taylor. Brent (Nicolas Cage) and Kendall (Selma Blair) are married with two kids, one of them rebellious-daughter Carly (Anne Winters). Brent and Kendall are having some difficulties dealing with middle age, and Kendall is struggling with a loss of friendship from Carly. When an unexplained wave of hysteria takes over and causes moms and dads to turn on their kids … Brent and Kendall join in. If you are looking for a vehicle in which Cage gets to go off, gonzo-style, you might find yourself enjoying this one. He has a moment when he destroys a pool table with a sledgehammer that’s vintage nuttiness for him. Blair delivers a strong performance as a woman who is losing touch with herself and isn’t quite sure why she still goes to workout classes. The…

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