MY CALL: 20 great gory good-versus-evil minutes numbed by a stagnant 75 minute middle. See this flick, but exercise your fast forward function. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Unholy: Want to see the unholy done well? Then I’d instead turn you to Stigmata (1999), Angel Heart (1987), Constantine (2005), The Seventh Sign (1988), The Prophecy (1995) or The Last Exorcism (2010).
The tone for this classy flick is set in the opening scene as a redhead in a completely transparent negligee seduces a Catholic priest mid-prayer. This had me very worried that I was in for a smutty horror movie. Thankfully, after a quick kiss (probably denoting the priest succumbing to temptation), she slashes his throat and leaves a gore-slathered gash that made the horrorhound in me gleefully “SQUEEEE” with joy.
So, to clarify, that’s both babes and blood’n guts in the first five minutes. This should be good! I’ll repeat a key word here…should be good.
Recently and unexpectedly appointed, Father Michael (Ben Cross; Exorcist: The Beginning, Star Trek) joins and re-opens Saint Agnes Church after he miraculously survives a fall from a building without injury. Saint Agnes was closed after its two former priests died at the hand of a demon referred to as “The Unholy.” Okay, could be cool, right? Right…?
Unfortunately it seems to take this movie forever to get back to the fun. We had boobs and blood in the first few minutes, then nothing but boredom for the next 75–during which the most Satanic thing we see is a possessed stirring rod, a windy bedroom and a crotch full of snakes. I get that a crotch full of snakes sounds awesome, but they found a way to make it lame just for this movie. Unlike so much other 80s horror, this film takes itself 100% seriously. There are no tongue-in-cheek lines or deliberately ironic death scenes.
No, instead of filling screen time with fun, this film attempts to spin a thick web of drama…and fails! This movie even managed to make call girls, insane asylums and Satanic cults come off as boring. Now, I must admit I laughed during a stupid scene when Father Michael’s dead predecessor calls him on the phone from Hell. But overall this is numbingly dull.
So after a good five-minute opener followed by an unwarrantedly boring 75 minutes, our movie is finally reignited by a good old-fashioned gory disembowelment, some burning corpses, a dude vomiting a couple gallons of blood…oh, and the seductress from the opening scene is back. You now have my attention!
It turns out our naked seductress is the demon Desidarius and, with the help of a fog machine, she transforms into a monstrous infernal quadruped assisted by some little toddler demons. The finale is loaded with fun, weird, gory, sexual and disturbing imagery, and we get to see a lot of our demon monster.
How about a kiss?
These little guys remind me of when Craig T. Nelson vomits a whole dude in Poltergeist II.
Wait a minute! Is that little guy dancing?
My best advice to you would be to watch this movie for 5 minutes, then fast forward through the next 75 to the closing sequence. That will turn a largely boring movie into a way-fun 20 minute gore romp.
Kurt Russell recently did an interview with Collider where he had this to say about Paul Walker:
I sensed that this was a guy who enjoyed many things in his life and was very appreciative, but was also getting to a point where he wanted to begin to seriously, in an artistic sense, explore what would excite him and find out where he might go. He was literally just turning that page and just saying that he wanted to peak onto the other side, and then he was out.
Hours is Paul Walker wanting to see where he could go. There are no fast cars, sharks, or scantily clad women to distract from his acting. In Hours he can’t fade into the background because the camera is always in front of him. Because of this he gives his best performance since Running Scared and is able to hold the camera for 90 minutes. Most importantly, the film builds to a powerful climax that may be Walker’s finest moment on screen.
Hours is the story of a man trying to keep his baby alive during Hurricane Katrina. His wife died delivering the premature baby and due to underdeveloped lungs the infant is forced to stay on a ventilator for 48 hours. The problem is the hurricane wipes out the power and leaves Walker alone in the hospital with a hand-cranked generator that only keeps a three minute charge.
The three minute charge doesn’t allow Walker to sleep and forces him to stay close to the baby while waiting out the storm. The set up is inventive and I like how Katrina isn’t used gratuitously. Many of the people who worked on the film suffered through Katrina and because of this Walker felt he had to bring his best. I like knowing that he wanted more and put himself in situations where he had to act and get out of his comfort zone.
There are several problems with the film. The quiet moments are interrupted by underwritten bad guys who are cartoonishly villainous. I understand a hospital would be a prime target to pilfer during a natural disaster. However, introducing new people into the story hurt the flow and felt like manicured interruptions. You wish the director would have simply allowed Walker to do his thing. There is an earnestness to his performance that showcases his ability to relax and make his dialogue fresh. He is believable as he tells his baby daughter about her mom and how they first met (they stopped a bank robber).
I wanted it to be more like the fantastic 2013 film All is Lost. All is a harrowing story of survival that let Robert Redford own the screen while staying almost silent. He didn’t need to explain everything whilst talking to himself. You figured out his character by actions. I understand that out of sheer grief and delirium Walker would be talking to his baby. However, he didn’t have to say “I need batteries” as the charge is going down. I wish they would have let Walker perform silently as opposed to giving us a running narrative.
Hours is a neat little film that proves Walker was capable of more. His relaxed presence and the moving finale make this a film worth watching. If you are a Walker fan I totally recommend checking out Hours.
Pompeii tells the age old story of love in the time of ash and lava. This sweeping love story from the director of Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil and Three Musketeers is as subtle as Vesuvius and as intelligent as the rocks spewing from it. Pompeii is a dumbed down Titanic that totally redeems itself via odd directing choices and accidental hilarity.
Pompeii is a quirky little thing that is loaded with unintentional laughs, wonky accents (British? Irish? Italian? I think Sutherland made up an accent) and the greatest bro-hug ever. Imagine if 2012, Gladiator, Bloodrayne, Titanic, Romeo & Juliet, Tristan & Isolde, Centurion, In the Name of the King and The Three Musketeers were mixed together then rewritten by Paul W.S. Anderson. Pompeii is an amalgamation of illogical weirdness and irrelevant fluff.
The plot is all happenstance and features a meet cute via horse neck snapping. The two lovers rarely spend time together and the only moment they are alone results in painful yet quick healing lashes. Eventually, things go boom, revenge is had, peasants get crunched and only Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje seems to know he is in a bad movie.
Take a look at the above poster. The two leads are having a smooching session amid chaos. I understand they are a tragic couple. However, I 100% believe they could’ve survived had they not sauntered so much. If they would have jogged away we could have enjoyed Pompeii 2: Why did we vacation near Mount St. Helens? Other characters in similar films survived by hightailing it to safety. In the photos for Dante’s Peak and Volcano the characters are running or looking concerned while walking away from the deadly fire.
Now, take another look at Pompeii’s couple as they look relaxed in the chaos.
These people survived by running!
These two weren’t lucky enough to have running in the script.
Paul W.S. Anderson has had a fruitful career in Hollywood by directing money making hokum (I’ve watched them all and keep coming back). His highest rated film on Rotten Tomatoes is the 43% Death Race. His other films The Three Musketeers, Resident Evil, Event Horizon, Mortal Kombat, Soldier, AVP and now Pompeii have all felt like other better films. There are moments of creative talent (Horizon hell scenes, Orlando Bloom’s hair in Musketeers, light grid scene in Resident) but for the most part Anderson has simultaneously annoyed and captured the nerd zeitgeist.
Sidenote: Gotta love Bloom’s hair.
Pompeii feels like a step in the wrong direction. Never before have Anderson’s films felt so unintelligible or unintentionally hilarious. It felt more like In the Name of the King (Never a good thing to be compared to a Uwe Boll film) then Tristan & Isolde. I am going out on a limb here but I’d wager Kit Harrington wins the hair battle between he and James Franco.
Pompeii is pure dumb that is punctuated by really bad decisions. It is an enjoyable romp that will make perfect FX foder for insomniacs and college students for years to come. It was never meant to be good. It was only meant to entertain. It may be a step back for Anderson but at least we now have the visual of peasants being clunked on the heads by tiny rocks in the canon of film.
Hello all. Mark here.
The Oscars are upon us and I’ve decided to share my predictions. They are all fairly stock but I’ve decided to pick with logic and not my heart. It is an interesting field this year with several close races (Editing, Picture, Director, Short live action film, Doc) which make the Oscars fairly intriguing.
Here are the predictions! Enjoy.
If you bet big and win I get 7%. However, if you lose big…….My bad.
1. Best Picture – 12.36 Years a Slave
2. Best Actress – Cate “Makes losing your mind dignified” Blanchett
3. Best Actor – McC Wooderson
4. Best Supporting Actress – Lupita (I regret being in Non-Stop) N’yong’o
5. Best Supporting Actor – Jordan Catalano
6. Best Director – Steve “Don’t call me Great Escape” McQueen
7. Best Adapted Screenplay – 12 Years A Slave
8. Best Original Screenplay and Mustache - Her
9. Best Animated Feature and Song - Frozen
10. Best Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Editing, Sound Mixing, Score and Cinematography – Gravity
11. Best High Waisted Pants – Her
12. Best Documentary – 20 Feet From Stardom (Should be Act of Killing)
13. Best Voice Acting – ScarJo in Don Jon and Her
14. Best Costumes and Production Design – Great Gatsby
15. Best Makeup – Dallas Buyers Club
16. Best Performance That Gets No Love – Jake Gyllenhaal – Prisoners
17. Best Dad – Bill Nighy – About Time
18 Best Short Stuff – Get A Horse, The Lady in 6, Helium
19. Best Foreign Film – The Great Beauty
There you have it!
Now that The Family has settled into domestication on Blu-ray I think the film will find an audience. Shakespeare it ain’t but I think the tonally odd film will find a cult audience. Viewers will be drawn to the live action cartoon that is punctuated by ultra-violence, irresponsible murder and cheeky humor.
Critics and audiences had a hard time figuring out what this little hybrid was all about. The premise is simple. Mafia family in witness protection has to deal with French culture and constant hunting from vengeful mob hitmen. However, they still murder people, have little patience and occasionally blow up French convenience stores. It doesn’t fit any genre and cannot be summarized because of all the combating elements. You have the familiar fish out of water element but you also have a subplot about DeNiro fixing the town’s brown water problem by brutally hurting government officials and plumbers.
The Family treats suicide, cold blooded murder, romance, torture, student/teacher sex, blood, explosions and more cold blooded murder with humor and it gets weird. It is like Dianna Agron’s character. Seemingly normal, super violent and sorta insane.
Stephen Holden of NYT summed up the film with this quote:
It doesn’t even try for basic credibility. But buoyed by hot performances, it sustains a zapping electrical energy. It might be described as screwball noir. If there aren’t a lot of belly laughs, The Family stirs up an appalled amusement at its gleeful amorality. Some of the heartiest laughs come from the grisly scenes of Giovanni triumphantly venting his rage when he doesn’t get instant gratification or feels disrespected.
When I used the phrase “tonally odd” I mean that it is never structured. The progression of the movie flips between appalling casual violence, coincidences (the newspaper scene is insane), family dinners, flashbacks, daydreams, Goodfellas screenings and a grumpy Tommy Lee Jones. You could throw boulders through the plot holes but that would be too easy. The film is likable because you realize it is a cartoon from the guy who made Leon and The Fifth Element. His movies have always had an odd edge and The Family is no different.
The Family seemed like a mainstream film but surprised many with its quirks and violence. The stunt casting of mafia film vets DeNiro and Pfeiffer felt lazy to some but I didn’t mind seeing them in such an offbeat affair. The Family will not be for everyone but I was able to go along for the ride. Change your expectations and revel in the eccentricity.
MY CALL: AMAZING acting and crushingly real character transformations make Lovelace a great film worthy of a bigger release than it received. MOVIES LIKE Lovelace: The People versus Larry Flint (1996), Boogie Nights (1997) and 54 (1998).
This is the story of Linda “Lovelace” Boreman, her 17 day career in the porn industry making Deep Throat, and her painful before and after.
Rising from prudish origins in 1970 Florida, Linda (Amanda Seyfried; Epic, Les Miserables) is discovered go-go dancing at a skating rink by a deliciously sleazy Chuck (Peter Sarsgaard; Green Lantern, Rendition). Chuck is charming and cleverly manipulative as he caters to Linda’s insecurity and emotional shortcomings. In no time at all he moves her into his home, “teaches” her the oral techniques that brought her fame, and infuses her with a sense of confidence and belonging that she clearly never before felt living with her abrasive parents (Sharon Stone and Robert Patrick).
Sorry, guys, if I’m throwing you under the bus here. But, women, NEVER trust a man with facial hair like this. NEVER!
Swiftly after their wedding, Linda learns of Chuck’s (now “their”) financial problems. So they meet with pornographers Butchie (Bobby Cannavale; Parker, Win Win) and Gerry (Hank Azaria; Hop, Love and Other Drugs), impressed by her oral gifts.
The characters of Gerry and Butchie were both performed superbly. They are such nice guys you just want to invite them to your grandmother’s 90th birthday.
All of the characters we meet in the adult film industry are charming. Not just smooth, silver-tongued devils wooing Linda into the industry, but properly kind, sweet individuals who are grateful to be working with her. Butchie and Gerry are nothing if not endearingly played. Porn star Harry (Adam Brody; Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Scream 4) is immediately likable. Her promo photographer (Wes Bentley; The Hunger Games) teaches her to feel beautiful and comfortable in front of the camera. And Hugh Hefner (James Franco; This is the End, Oz the Great and Powerful) candidly impresses on her that she is more than simply a porn star.
James Franco as Hugh Hefner. This just made sense! Good casting.
As Linda is transitioning into porn stardom, and with every invitingly kind pornographer we meet, we find Chuck becoming increasingly jealous and abusive. He slowly becomes all of the things (and so much worse) that she was fleeing when she ran into his arms.
The hangover of her manipulated path to stardom–the revelation of the frailty hiding behind the illusions and the sadness behind the glamour–is all too familiar. The People versus Larry Flint (1996), Boogie Nights (1997) and 54 (1998) find their characters fragmented and their souls disarticulated before our eyes in crushing reality much as we find with Linda’s transformation.
All of the actors embraced their characters and did an amazing job; AMAZING. This film received little attention or advertising regarding its release and this is a shame. I hope more people eventually find their way to this excellent film.
SAD FACT: Deep throat made $600 million. Linda made $1,250.
“You’re about to jet off to a country you’ve never been to, with a language you do not speak.”
Runner Runner is a film where everything is explained to you. When it isn’t explained Timberlake asks “What is this?” or “what are we doing here?” Then, Affleck’s character Ivan explains everything and Timberlake says “What is wrong with you?”
The tagline from the poster is “You have no idea who you’re playing with.” The problem is you know exactly who you are playing with. There is nothing new about the characters and it all builds towards double crosses, triple crosses and one more double cross showing how “smart” the main character is. The writing isn’t simply on the wall it is in block letters displayed for everyone to see. Thus, there is zero tension and instead the whole thing becomes kinda funny. Where else will you hear Affleck tell Timberlake:
This is the gambling business in Costa Rica. Occasionally you get punched in the face.
Runner Runner tells the story of a bunch of dudes (and one lady. Gemma Arterton you are better than this) entrenched in the high stakes world of online gambling. Basically, these people are rich but choose to be super rich. They enjoy bikini clad women, stacks of cash and play on the basketball teams that they own. They also have every chance to get away with their money but choose to make more (cue the face punching). The problems are self inflicted and you never care as death via crocodile becomes a reality. Ben Affleck evens warns Timberlake when he says:
If you want a a safer job go work for the post office. If you want a clear conscience go start a charity. If you want your own F**king island and your boss says you have to take a beating. Take it (cue more face punching).
Justin Timberlake is woefully miscast. His character is supposed to be ridiculously smart (we are told this a lot) but comes across as kinda dim (For a smart kid you do some really dumb stuff). His motor mouthed skills worked in Social Network but here he has to navigate tough, smart, dumb, confused and confident with no help from the script (cue expository dialogue to tell us everything!). He is too likable to be a jerk and too manicured to be tough. The character should have been a mousy/intelligent man who loves the dangerous world because he never would have experienced it anywhere else. Timberlake’s character could easily go back to school and live a good life.
Ben Affleck seems to be having a good time as a deadly man who loves crocodiles and hair product. Critics were divided on the character. They either appreciated the performance or called his character a “ludicrously preened tosser.” Either way, he is the only good part of Runner Runner because he breaks the generic mode and comes across as a new age bro-villain.
The director Brad Furman also made the wonderful Lincoln Lawyer. It was a grimy delight that revived Matthew McConaughey’s career and was a sleeper hit. Lawyer’s old school vibe isn’t here as everything looks too glossy and the material feels too written. I was disappointed as the negative reviews poured in and the general consensus was that the film was “clunky.” It wants to be an R rated film but feels like a PG-13 flick.
Runner Runner is not a good film. It tells you everything, tells you again and builds to a climax so easy you slap your head. However, I would love to see a bro-Batman ruling the streets of Gotham.