John Keith

Staff Writer

Writer. TV Addict. Bibliophile. Reviewer. Pop Culture Consumer. Vampire Enthusiast. LOST fanatic.

Follow on Twitter



Hopefully This is the Weakest "C.O.G." in the David Sedaris Machine Review

David Sedaris is one of the most popular American humorists and writers out there today. And, finally, we have an adaptation of his work. The film is focused solely on the essay “C.O.G.” from his popular memoir Naked. It tracks Sedaris’ Kerouacian life on the road, escaping from his east coast life to pick apples in Oregon. But C.O.G. is not a particularly funny film, coming off as a hollow interpretation of Sedaris’ writing.

Of course, if you’re unfamiliar with the source material, you would hardly even know that the main character is based on Sedaris. From the beginning, we’re introduced to the character David (Jonathan Groff) who is going by the name Samuel, just one of the many affectations of this precocious young adult (and the film only obliquely implies his real name). He hides inside of his Yale sweater, flaunting his intelligence and education (he’s just finished grad school) which is far greater than that of the apple pickers and factory workers with whom he works. Yet, for all that, David is in a state of arrested development—a fact which becomes increasingly clear to him as he loses his way in Oregon.

Sep
20
2013
Read more

"Blue Caprice" Denies the Audience Some Satisfaction Review

The devastating and senseless Washington D.C. sniper killings shocked the nation in 2002. 13 innocent people were randomly murdered while doing mundane tasks like pumping gas into their cars or after buy groceries at the store. This horrific massacre serves as the basis for the film Blue Caprice. But for Alexandre Moors debut feature, he chooses to focus not on the killings themselves but on the father and son duo who perpetrated them.

Except that they are not actually father and son. Lee Boy Malvo (Tequan Richmond) is a wayward teen in Antigua, abandoned by his mother and searching for someone he can look up to or believe in. He finds that in John Allen Muhammad (Isaiah Washington), a father who has lost custody of his children in his divorce and is desperate to reclaim them while also filling in their void. John takes Lee to America, touting him as his son, raising him as his own. Some who know John are quick to dismiss Lee as his real son, but the stronger their bond grows, the more undeniable their connection is.

Sep
14
2013
Read more

Warner Bros.' "Thrillers" Set Hits More Than it Misses Review

Thrillers have been around in film since the beginning. They excite the viewer, build suspense, cater to and subvert built-in expectations. They are a ride that, once boarded, you won’t—or shouldn’t—want to stop until after you’ve experienced the edge-of-your-seat climax. They are, simply, thrilling (hence the name). And as Warner Bros. continues to release their “Best of” box sets, we get a stunning collection of 20 Thrillers.

It starts in 1931 with The Public Enemy. This film, starring James Cagney, is one of the original gangster films, a sub-genre of the thriller that is constantly being explored in the film world (and is returned to later in this set). With prohibition drama and men in suits gunning down rivals, Public Enemy is a wholly American film and a great way to kick off the box set.

Sep
14
2013
Read more

"Blancanieves" Restores Some of the Wonder to "Snow White" Review

2012 saw a surge of Snow White films, but there might be one that you missed. The Spanish, silent film Blancanieves is a retelling of the classic fairy tale set in 1920s Seville. Based on the packaging, you might confuse the film with a new Criterion release, but the conspicuous “C” (squared instead of round) is for the Cohen Media Group. Yet this unique, beautiful film could easily be part of Criterion’s curated collection.

Innocent little Carmencita (Sofia Oria) is no princess, and her father (Daniel Gimenez Cacho) is no king. Instead, he is a famed bullfighter who is “gruesomely gored” in a high profile bullfight. His nurse, Encarna (Maribel Verdu), manipulates him into loving her and taking her as his new wife. She soon dispatches of her invalid husband and sends her driver to strangle her now-older ward Carmen (Macarena Garcia). Carmen is soon saved by 6 bullfighting dwarves who inadvertently help her tap into her innate skills as a bullfighter, donning the moniker Blancanieves.

Sep
11
2013
Read more

"Gangster" Should Have Stolen More Of A Plot Review

Writer/director Kongkiat Khomsiri tackles the world of Bangokian gangsters from the 1950s/60s in The Gangster. Based on a true story, the film follows rising gangster Jod (Krissada Sukosol Clapp) as he changes the rules of gang fighting (from knives to guns) before being sent to prison. After his release he tries to lead a straight life, but it proves difficult for this leopard to change its spots.

It becomes apparent within the first 20 minutes of the film that Khomsiri has bitten off more than he can chew. The film is cluttered with exposition, a few minutes of narration to explain the fight scene that ensues before repeating this cycle. Only a few scenes manage to show anything about Jod’s character, with the script relying on telling you everything you need to know (in order to cram in as many violent scenes as possible, no matter how disconnected they feel from the story).

Sep
10
2013
Read more

Let the Intimacy and Sensuality of "Adore" Draw You In Review

If you’ve seen the trailer for Adore, then you’re familiar with the taboo sexual relationships that arise in this drama. It may seem that the film is just an exploitative story of navel gazing. But Adore is a much more poetic look at these symbiotic relationships that captures the complexity of desire that drives them.

Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright) are childhood best friends whose relationship has only grown stronger through time. Their ties to each other are so strong that Roz’s husband Harold (Ben Mendelsohn) frequently feels like the third wheel in this relationship, even going so far as to call them lesbians. Lil and Roz are quick to laugh off these remarks, but even they can acknowledge the very close bond they have together. Their relationship, however, is more like sisters—twin sisters, almost—than lesbians.

Sep
06
2013
Read more

Who Doesn't Love A Good "Scandal"? Review

In the spring of 2012, a little series by Shonda Rhimes slowly took over pop culture consciousness with its balls-to-the-wall storytelling in its brief 7 episode first season. It was addicting and riveting and earned a slightly larger 13 episode second season (not unlike Grey’s Anatomy’s origin). Proving that it wasn’t some fluke, Rhimes continued that fast-paced storytelling of almost absurd drama in Washington DC and earned a full 22 episode season.

Sep
04
2013
Read more

"The Good Wife" Remains One of the Best Shows on TV, If Not the Best Review

The pounding on the door (that ended season three) continues, but Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) is ready for the threatening person behind that door. He busts in, yet it’s not her husband—we quickly learn—but his right-hand man, sent to collect his money. She easily overpowers him, and tells her husband (via cell phone) to stay away. And so begins what is considered the biggest misstep that this otherwise flawless series has perpetrated.

While Kalinda begins dealing with her husband Nick (Marc Warren), she is distracted and drawn away from the troubles currently plaguing Lockhart/Gardner. They need $60 million to get out of debt or face bankruptcy. The court gives them a trustee, Clarke Haydon (Nathan Lane), to oversee their finances and save them from impending bankruptcy. And for the first half of the fourth season, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) and Will Gardner (Josh Charles) butt heads with each other, Clarke, and their entire staff as they try to pay back their debt.

Sep
02
2013
Read more

There's a Depth to "Family Ties" Most Sitcoms Avoid Review

As CBS continues to rollout their extensive TV series of past and present on DVD, we get the seventh of final season of Family Ties. This beloved 80s sitcom was hugely popular in its day and its resonances can still be felt today. While much of the style of the series (and costuming) is inherently dated, the humor and content of the show remain in tact, making this a very enjoyable show to watch.

In this final season, the Keaton family faces some emotional turmoil early on as patriarch Steven (Michael Gross) suffers a heart attack. Matriarch Elyse (Meredith Baxter Birney) must rally and keep the family strong in the 3-part episode “Heartstrings” as Steven undergoes heart surgery. In the latter half of the season, the writers set up the futures for the Keaton children. Spunky Jennifer (Tina Yothers) becomes a hardcore environmentalist. Ditzy Mallory (Justine Bateman) breaks into the fashion world with her designs. And even little Andy (Brian Bonsall) steals some screen time as he builds a time capsule with his family to create an emotionally overwhelming reminiscence of the show.

Sep
01
2013
Read more

The Special Effects of "Super Eruption" Sputter and Fizzle Out Review

Syfy presents yet another TV movie disaster flick (does anyone else remember Collision Earth? because I’d nearly forgotten it) from 2011, now available on DVD. In this “epic” adventure, Yellowstone National Park is on the verge of erupting, with the potential to drown all of North America in lava (and supposedly coat the rest of the world in ashes, as one scientist believes could happen). With the surprisingly inadequate help of the Disaster Management Agency, British scientist Kate (Juliet Aubrey) and dedicated park ranger Charlie (Richard Burgi) must stop this Super Eruption.

Aug
31
2013
Read more

"The Hot Flashes" is a Lukewarm Comedy Review

In a small Texas town, the beloved mobile mammogram unit must shut down do to lack of funds. To raise money to save it (and spread general breast cancer awareness) Beth (Brooke Shields) rallies together a gang of menopausal women to play basketball against the champion high school girls basketball team for charity. From there, it’s a rote underdog sports film that Yahoo! Voices labels “Bridesmaids for Generation X.”

Aug
28
2013
Read more

Take a Mesmerizing Trip "On the Road" with Kerouac Review

In our increasingly hipster-heavy culture, it only seems natural for a resurgence of films about the Beat Generation (one of the natural forefathers of the hipsters). Amongst the films concerning Allen Ginsberg—James Franco’s portrayal of him in Howl and Daniel Radcliffe’s buzzed-about performance in the upcoming Kill Your Darlings—we finally get a definitive adaptation of the classic Beat novel On the Road. And, as a story comprised of little vignettes in the narrator’s adventures traveling the United States, it’s a wonder this film was finally made (Francis Ford Coppola has been trying to adapt this novel since 1979).

Aug
15
2013
Read more

Inventive Violence Can't Save the Dull "Guillotines" Review

The Guillotines are a covert squad of assassins created under the Qing Dynasty to suppress those who threatened the emperor’s authority. Using state-of-the-art weaponry they launch circular decapitators from their scythe-like swords, efficiently eliminating threats. However, after capturing the rebel leader Wolf (Haung Xiaoming), he is sentenced to a public beheading from which he escapes with the female Guillotine member.

The assassins are sent to hunt down Wolf and their supposedly-dead comrade Musen (Li Yuchun). But the current emperor has bigger plans in mind. Should the Guillotines falter in any way, his newly trained firearm-equipped army will be sent to kill not only Wolf but also the remaining Guillotines. And so, inevitably, the hunters become the hunted and our heroes must decide which side to fight (and die) for.

Aug
15
2013
Read more

The Boston Bomber "Manhunt" Wasn't as Easy as it Looked Review

In this Nova documentary focused on the Boston Marathon bombers, they follow “technology’s role in catching the marathon bombing suspects.” Many of us followed the intense hunt for the bombers as it consumed the news and online media that week. But Manhunt gives us a glimpse into what kind of technology was used to investigate and how that technology meets our expectations.

Through bomb analysis authorities were able to discover what kind of bomb was used—a pressure cooker bomb. At a lab in the desert they were able to recreate the explosion and study the debris to compare with the debris recovered at the site in Boston. They then took video footage to search for suspicious activity near the bomb sites. To aid them, civilians volunteered their own photos from the event, to give investigators a broader look at the scene. Through this and still-developing facial recognition software (that is not as advanced, they are quick to point out, as the movies depict a la Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) they were able to discover the identity of the bombers.

Aug
15
2013
Read more

"What Maisie Knew" Should Be Known By All Review

There have been plenty of films about divorces, but how many of them tell the story from the point of the view of the child? In What Maisie Knew, a contemporary retelling of the Henry James novel, we see just that. Little Maisie (Onata Aprile) faces the dissolution of her parents’ marriage and the subsequent custody battle. With both parents acting almost absurdly selfishly, Maisie faces a tough choice in whom she would like to live with.

Aging rock star Susanna (Julianne Moore) has never been the best mom (she throws a party while Maisie’s friend sleeps over, letting them run amok of the Tribeca loft); but she loves Maisie fiercely. Whereas art dealer Beale (Steve Coogan) appears to know how to raise Maisie more sensibly while also being completely dismissive of her. To gain custody of her, Beale marries her longtime nanny Margo (Joanna Vanderham), whom he has been sleeping with on the sly. To combat this, Susanna rushes to marry the somewhat-dimwitted Lincoln (Alexander Skarsgard), whom she barely knows. As her parents escalate to new levels of self-absorption, Maisie finds herself being raised by Margo and Lincoln, who in turn have a budding romance of their own.

Aug
14
2013
Read more

The Overzealous Message of "Death By China" Kills Any Chance of it Reaching its Audience Review

In his highly aggressive documentary Death by China, writer/director Peter Navarro addresses the troubling economic trade relationship with China. With a vehemently confrontational tone, this film presents an apocalyptic look at the United States’ future. While the arguments he presents are certainly valid, the documentary’s intensity distracts from his message.

Since joining the World Trade Organization, China has been able to flood American markets with their products. But, according to Death by China, they have been shirking their responsibilities to uphold the strict regulations of the WTO. Using “Weapons of Job Destruction” (as the documentary puts it), China “pollutes for profit” and manipulates currency to make a seeming profit for their products in America. Through this, more and more jobs have disappeared in the United States as factories here become obsolete.

Aug
08
2013
Read more

The Gratuitous Gore of the "Evil Dead" Remake Will Have You Cringing, But That's About All Review

The Evil Dead franchise has a rich history. It has been reincarnated in many forms: from the original film in 1981 to its subsequent sequels to its inevitable foray into the world of video games and comic books to even, bizarrely enough, an off-Broadway musical. The original trilogy launched the careers of director Sam Raimi, actor Bruce Campbell, and producer Rob Tapert. And it was this trio of men of who produced the latest entry in the franchise, this year’s Evil Dead.

Aug
04
2013
Read more

Guest Stars Bless "Touched by an Angel" With its Only Saving Grace Review

There’s a specific audience for Touched by an Angel, and if you’ve never been interested in the show then it probably isn’t for you. This highly religious series follows a group of angels who are tasked each episode to guide hapless humans towards happiness (whether it be through love or faith in God). It’s an overly cheesy premise that the writers and actors handle with surprising care.

In season 8, Monica (Roma Downey) is an expert at her job and helps mentor newly minted angel Gloria (Valerie Bertinelli) who is completely new to human life but eager to learn everything. Assisting them is the angel of death Andrew (John Dye) and their supervisor Tess (Della Reese). Although Gloria frequently bumbles things up, the rest are there to course correct so that none of the humans realize what is going on—although they usually end up revealing their identities to fully drive home God’s message to their assignments.

Aug
04
2013
Read more

The Cold War Creates an Interesting Backdrop for the Moody "Ginger & Rosa" Review

The Cold War has always been an easy backdrop for espionage films, but writer/director Sally Potter uses this time period to tell a coming-of-age tale in Ginger & Rosa. Born on the same day, Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Beautiful Creatures’ Alice Englert) have grown up together into the best of friends. In 1962 England, their main concerns involve not growing into their mothers, exploring their sexuality with boys in bars, and debating politics and religion. But as the threat of a nuclear holocaust grows increasingly palpable, the girls face an uncertain, troubled future.

Aug
04
2013
Read more

There's Enough "Damage" Here For Ten Seasons Review

Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Ellen Parsons and Patty Hewes are going head-to-head in the courtroom. Their dynamics have been ever-changing over the past 4 seasons, but they have yet to oppose each other in a “fair” fight (is it ever fair when Patty is constantly manipulating everything?). So, in Damages’ final season, creators Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler, and Daniel Zelman deliver exactly what fans of the show have been eagerly anticipating since the first season.

Jul
19
2013
Read more


Popular