Would You Be Shocked If "Kelly & Cal" Put On Something More Uncomfortable? Review

Let's see how you're healing up.

Kelly & Cal (2014) is open to lazy comparisons to Harold and Maude (1971) as the back cover suggests, but they're similarity is superficial. Kelly (Juliette Lewis) is a new mother, fitting uncomfortably in this role. The unceasing yowl of her new spawn is grating her down to a single raw nerve. Her husband Josh (Josh Hopkins) doesn't seem to having any of these difficulties, but that might be because he's buried in own work. After an abrupt confrontation with a wheelchair-bound boy, Cal (Jonny Weston), she apologizes and begins an ambiguous relationship that inevitably veers into the inappropriate. But along the way, their alienation in prim suburbia gives them welcome respite and perspective to look into the future.

Jan
23
2015
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You'll Be Well Prepared For "The Reckoning" By The Time It Gets Here Review

I'm on God's path.

Det. Robbie Green (Jonathan LaPaglia) drinks vodka out of a shampoo container. He's got a drinking problem. His old friend and colleague, Jason (Luke Hemsworth), is mysteriously murdered in his car with the only clue being reams of digital footage on a SD card. The footage was made by a runaway, Rachel (Hanna Mangan Lawrence), who is tracking down her sister's killer with the aid of internet pal, AJ (Alex Williams). As Green and Det. Jane Lambert (Viva Bianca)--clichéd backstory alert--follows the clues in parallel to this footage, things show themselves to be more obvious than they at first appear. Australian mystery, The Reckoning (2014), is a lot like a decently cast BBC series except without the character quirks to justify more than one episode. So, Like Thorne (2010), then.

Jan
23
2015
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"Ragnarok" Comes To America Review

We'll be on David Letterman!

One thing that internet companies like Netflix and Amazon have done is bring unsolemn international films to American attention. A few years ago, one might have been excused for thinking that the French only made dire existential films about deteriorating relationships in Paris or the Swedish only made...dire existential films about deteriorating relationships in the country. No longer! The transatlantic trade in mainstream adventure and sci-fi now goes both ways and whether great, decent, or trash, we have access to it all. Ragnarok (2014) is one such decency from Norway about a pair of archaeologists who go in search of Vikings and, instead, find a massive ancient creature. The film's American influences are apparent and well replicated. All hail globalization!

Jan
21
2015
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"Last Weekend" Is Probably Out Of Your Price Range Review

Do you wake up tortured with the question of whether or not to sell your gorgeous Lake Tahoe vacation home? Do your sons scold you for spending too much of your disposable income on Native American baskets? Do you consider “the help” to be like family? If so, then you might enjoy Last Weekend, a gloriously pretty trifle of a film that provides a peek into how the one percent lives. Patricia Clarkson stars as Celia, your typical wealthy wife: all flowing blonde hair, gauzy white tops and loose khaki pants, she obsesses over having the right kind of flowers at the table for dinner and tries preparing meals (with the help of her cook) that have a low carbon footprint. With her excellent taste in expensive clothes and interior decor--not to mention her enviable ability to age gracefully--Celia feels straight out of a Nancy Meyer film. And naturally, like a character in a Nancy Meyer film, Celia has a problem: she can’t decide whether or not to sell that aforementioned gorgeous Lake Tahoe vacation home, which has been part of the family for more than thirty years.

Jan
21
2015
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Stick With "This Is Where I Leave You" Review

You can't believe how much I hate you right now.

Is it comforting or accusatory to say that something is exactly what you expect it to be? Going into This Is Where I Leave You (2014), you might hope that all of that wonderful charm promised in the trailer would be backed up by the same spirit and originality your imagination created for it. Deep down, though, you know that there's a marathon of tropes on the way and the only real question is whether this family has the spark of reality that is going to make those tropes new. Mixed bag. Everything in the trailer is in the film and it's just as lovely as can be, but there isn't enough of a gentle ramping up into those feel-good moments so much as a thundering crash as they wallop and leave you in hit-and-run fashion. But if anybody's going to hit-and-run me, I hope I'm lucky enough to be hit-and-ran on by Jason Bateman.

Jan
20
2015
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"Hillbilly Horror Show" Is About What You'd Expect Review

Hillbilly Horror Show is an anthology series hosted by a trio of redneck characters: crass country boy Bo (Bo Keister), mumbling Cephus (Scott Geiter) and of course, their “kissing cousin” Lulu (Rachel Faulkner). In each one-hour installment, the men guzzle tall boys of generic beer and comment on short horror films by up-and-coming filmmakers while Lulu models an extensive collection of bikinis. Why the films must be presented by hillbillies is something that is never really apparent, though some of the films do have a somewhat sinister country bent. Unless you’re a big fan of Larry the Cable Guy-esque jokes, the humor is generally not clever enough to justify the gimmick.

Jan
20
2015
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"Ninja Turtles" On Something Less Than A Half Shell Review

If there's one thing that modern Hollywood doesn't know how to work with, it's weird. It can be off-putting, atonal, and just generally bizarre (though most of the time, it appears to be unintentional), but when it comes to taking an inherently strange concept and executing it with conviction, it's simply clueless, and nothing demonstrates that better than its attempt to revitalize decades-old properties. In the annals of comicdom, there may not be a weirder (successful) concept than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, nor one with a lower bar to clear for hitting that sweet spot between its original fans and their children. But when faced with a world that had turned about face since the last time the Turtles hit screens (in live-action), the powers that be did exactly what they did with Transformers and Robocop: chickened out, foregrounding the exceedingly boring characters while running away from its own appeal.

Jan
20
2015
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"Skeleton Twins" Has Some Meat On Its Bones Review

It’s always slightly traumatic the first time you see a beloved comedy actor take on a more dramatic role. You associate their face and their face with the warm, comforting knowledge that something funny is very likely to happen; it’s nearly Pavlovian, the way you can almost feel the smile creeping up your face as soon as they walk onscreen. Then, sometimes, they surprise you—instead of making you laugh, they break your heart. The Skeleton Twins packs such a punch. Winner of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, it is indeed a comedy, but one of the darkest color, a deep funereal black. It is also a perfect showcase for Saturday Night Live alumni Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig to show that they are, in fact, more than just mere funny people—they are very talented actors.

Jan
20
2015
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"Teenage" Keeps A Youthful Verve Review

In Teenage, documentarian Matt Wolf examines the origins of a term and a people that we take for granted nowadays: the teenager. The idea of a teenager did not always exist, and in this film Wolf goes back to the creation of this stage of life—a stage of life that was just as riddled with angst as it is today. The film tells the history of teenagers from the 1870s-1940s using mostly archival footage and photos. Diary entries read by Ben Whishaw, Jena Malone, and others serve as the only narration for the film.

In the 1870s child reform during the industrial revolution forces children out of the workplace and into the schoolroom. Suddenly a group of people who normally go straight from child to adult at the rough age of 12 now find themselves with more free time and fewer responsibilities. And so the teenager is born. Teenage follows the rise of teenage culture through three different countries—the United States, England, Germany—through the two World Wars and their aftereffects. Each nation has an impact on youth that is wholly its own. In America we see the joy of swing music. In England we see the scandalous Bright Young Things. And in Germany we see the Hitler Youth. So much aimlessness results in recklessness, and it befuddles and frightens adults.

Jan
20
2015
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"Audrey Hepburn Collection": She's Still Got It Review

Every time a new medium debuts, all the old classics are restored and re-released. This long overdue Blu-ray collection of some of Audrey Hepburn’s greatest hits does not disappoint. One could really see this tantalizing trifecta of grand glamour as the “Master Directors and Audrey Hepburn Collection,” with each film toting one of the top names of her golden age: Billy Wilder helming Sabrina, William Wyler’s command of the eternally adored Roman Holiday, and Blake Edwards rounding out the incomparable trio with his leadership of the most well remembered of the bunch, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Thanks to a painstaking and attentive restoration, and the directors’ seamless craftsmanship, this collection lets you sit back and bask in the wonder that was Audrey Hepburn.

Jan
20
2015
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