John Keith

Staff Writer

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

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It's Worth "Saving Santa" To Have Around All Year Review

Have you ever wondered how Santa managed to deliver gifts to every house in a single night? Well, Saving Santa answers this very question: time travel. But we’re not the only ones wondering how he does it. Neville Baddington (Tim Curry), a billionaire eager to inherit his mother’s (Joan Collins) Quickest Airborne Delivery company, is hell-bent on discovering Santa’s (Tim Conway) secret as well.

Finding Santa, however, isn’t so easy. The North Pole has an elaborate cloaking system to protect them from the outside world. But, when a hapless inventor elf, Bernard (Martin Freeman), presents his latest device to the board, he causes a citywide blackout. Ever-vigilant Neville pounces on this opportunity to invade and steal Santa’s secret. Just barely avoiding capture, Bernard snags the time travel device, hoping he can use it to fix everything. (But if you’ve seen LOST then you know that whatever happened, happened.)

Jan
10
2014
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It's Easy to "Adore" Anne Fontaine's Portrait of Sensuality 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.

Jan
10
2014
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"Showgirls! The Musical!" Is Erect. Why Aren't You Erect?

showgirlsIf you hang around Theater 80 on St. Marks after seeing Bayside! The Musical! (a parody of Saved by the Bell) then you can catch the scandalously funny late-night parody Showgirls! The Musical! April Kidwell spends the evening channeling Elizabeth Berkeley, transforming from Saved’s Jessie Spano into Showgirls!’s Nomi Malone. Showgirls! is one of the best worst films ever, and this East Village production fully embraces every aspect of the film that has made it so iconic.

Dec
26
2013
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Happy Hundredth, Vivien Leigh Review

If Vivien Leigh were alive today, she would now be 100 years old. To commemorate such a landmark anniversary, the Cohen Film Collection (aka the poor man’s Criterion) has released a special collection of Leigh’s films. But don’t expect Gone with the Wind in this Blu-ray set. This collection features some classic Leigh performances from before her famed Hollywood turn as Scarlett O’Hara. All four of the films in this collection are noted not only as being filmed before Gone with the Wind but also as being products of British cinema (a surprising fact for the more casual fan of Leigh’s work).

Dec
14
2013
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"Breaking The Girls" Could Have Met On A "Train" Review

Sara (Agnes Bruckner) is a smart law student relying on a scholarship and a bartending gig to get herself through school. Her obvious crush on Eric (Shawn Ashmore) is her biggest downfall, since he’s dating privileged student Brooke (Shanna Collins). When Eric and Brooke grab drinks from Sara at the bar, Brooke sees Sara pilfer a couple bucks from the tip jar (or so it would appear, what exactly she does from grabbing Brooke’s money to opening the cash register is obscurely shown, at best). She tattles to Brooke’s manager, getting her fired, and reports her to her aunt who’s on the college board, getting her scholarship revoked and getting her kicked out of school housing.

Dec
08
2013
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"Home Run" Rounds The Bases Review

In the realm of inspirational sports movies, Home Run doesn’t quite fit in. It doesn’t hinge on the underdog team winning a trophy but instead focuses on one disgraced sportsman overcoming addiction. It’s meant to be an uplifting and spiritual film (which it is), yet it does so without completely descending into Christian propaganda that makes similarly-minded films so heavy-handed (like October Baby).

Baseball super star Cory Brand (Scott Elrod) is a belligerent alcoholic. After getting mightily aggressive on the field, going so far as to minorly assault the batboy, he’s suspended from the team. His sassy manager Helene (Vivica A. Fox) does some damage control and sends him to a rehab program in his hometown and forces him to coach a little league team. One of the boys on that team, Tyler (Charles Henry Wyson), turns out to be his son via Cory’s high school sweetheart Emma (Doran Brown). While battling his alcoholism—a relic from his abusive father—he deals with being the kind of father he wishes he had had.

Dec
08
2013
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"Paranoia" Might Even Bore The Tin Foil Hat Crowd Review

Lest you’re worried about having missed the Liam Hemsworth thriller Paranoia this summer, feat not. This failed blockbuster’s ad campaign must have been lost amongst all the ads for Elysium and Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Even an obsessively avid moviegoer such as myself went completely unaware of this film’s release. Fortunately, for those concerned, this film is now available on Blu-ray.

Dec
03
2013
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Send Your Kids Off To The "Hive" Review

The latest DVD sets of Disney Junior’s The Hive have arrived just in time for the holidays. Buzzbee’s Family Adventures and A Very Buzzbee Christmas inspire the holiday spirit for your pre-schooler while promoting the ever-important lessons of loving your family and sharing toys and so forth. Each set contains 10 episodes (running roughly 7 minutes each), and most of them can’t be found on the previous DVD releases of this series.

This bright and colorful CGI-animated series features a family of British bees who live in their own hive (apparently without a queen). The well-intentioned Buzzbee is the main character. He has adventures with his bossy older sister Rubee, newborn baby sister Babee, homebody Mamma Bee, and hapless Pappa Bee. When they venture outside their home, Buzzbee plays with fellow classmates and other insect buddies that include beetles, millipedes, wasps, fleas, and caterpillars. There are also two bluebirds that goof around on a tree branch to bookend each episode (although why they do this is unapparent).

Dec
02
2013
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You'll Be Humming This Christmas "Carol" Review

Despite never having a full hour devoted to a Christmas special, CBS has found (apparently) enough episodes and sketches to release a Christmas with Carol edition of The Carol Burnett Show. The sketches are heavy on Christmas scenarios and the color red while still showcasing Burnett’s brand of humor. And, of course, nothing says Christmas like a bounty of musical numbers.

As far as sketches go, the Alan Alda episode is more or less solid (if you have the patience for much longer sketches than you’d find on SNL). From a dysfunctional family Christmas to a Holiday song with Alda as Santa, Carol is sure to put you in the holiday spirit (especially with the amusing gift-giving in the opening Q&A). The other full episode in this small set includes some great song and dance numbers including Helen Reddy’s “Blue” (which has dancers dressed as Christmas toys) and the full cast’s peppy “Strike Up the Band.” Where the set really gets festive is in the bonus features that include a “Christmas Night Quarrel” sketch between Carol and Sid Caesar; a poignant performance of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Carol; and a hilarious take on Christmas in “The Twelve Days After Christmas” also by Carol.

Nov
25
2013
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There's A Lot To Laugh At "On The Riviera" Review

The Prince and the Pauper plot conceit was barely an original idea when Mark Twain wrote it, but by 1951 it was already a timeless story. In the case of On the Riviera, though, this particular version of the story had already been used three times before (starting with a short-lived Broadway production called The Red Cat). How these previous iterations stand up to this one I cannot attest to, but they may perhaps be accountable for some of Riviera’s shortcomings.

Nov
24
2013
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"Midnight's Children" Should Have Gone To At Least Six Review

As the clock strikes midnight on August 15, 1947, a nation—India—was born, as are a group of children who will forever be the same age as the nation. As our hero Saleem (Satya Bhabha), one of Midnight’s Children, soon discovers, all the children born between midnight and 1am were imbued with special powers. Saleem’s is telekinesis, and he uses that to bring together all of the children. As he grows older, he finds his life inextricable linked to that of the nation.

Salman Rushdie masterfully uses magic realism to tell this sprawling tale of India. It took him two years to pare down his nearly 500-page novel into this 146-minute film. While he succeeded in capturing the essence of his novel, much of the film feels glossed over, losing any natural cohesion (something Rushdie tries to fix via his narration throughout the film).

Nov
15
2013
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"Clear History" Of This Movie Review

The premise of the HBO movie Clear History is a simple one: revenge. But with Larry David at its head, this becomes a comedic tale of revenge with a heavy emphasis on The Fountainhead. Of course, Larry David’s brand of comedy is an acquired taste (I can only assume) and leaves the film feeling more like a series of (poor) stand-up comedy jokes under the loose framework of a story.

Nathan (Larry David with shoulder-length gray locks and a grisly gray beard to match) is an unfunny schmuck working for automobile inventor Will Haney (Jon Hamm). Will, an obsessive fan of The Fountainhead, has named his new car the Howard. Claiming no one would drive a car with such a name, Nathan quits, losing his stock in the company. Realizing his mistake, he goes back to Will, begging for his job; but Will casts him aside. So, when the Howard becomes a multi-million dollar product, Nathan is mocked in the news as the man who gave up a million dollars.

Nov
11
2013
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"Girl Most Likely" To Kind Of Suck Review

From the moment the film starts with a disjointed flashback, Girl Most Likely feels like a trite and clichéd attempt at comedy. Obscurely named Imogene (Kristin Wiig) is down on her luck after her fiancé Peter (Brian Petsos) dumps her and she loses her job. In a desperate attempt to win back Peter, Imogene stages a suicide attempt. But it isn’t Peter who discovers her; it is their vapid, self-absorbed friend Dara (June Diane Raphael) who finds her, leading to her admittance into the psychiatric ward.

Nov
07
2013
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"Lovelace" Doesn't Go To Deep Into "Deep Throat" Review

Deep Throat was the first scripted pornographic theatrical film and is one of the highest grossing “blue” films of all time. It could have turned lead actress Linda Lovelace (played by Amanda Seyfried) into a star. In Lovelace we see her rise into the porn industry and her quick escape from it. But, what’s more, the film delves into her troubled relationship with husband Chuck (Peter Sarsgaard).

Nov
07
2013
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"Shrek the Musical" Lacks the Layers of the Film Review

Shrek was a beloved hit animated film that spawned a surprising amount of sequels (three more films plus a Christmas special). So, with a dearth of wholly original musicals on Broadway, it seems inevitable that this fairy tale story would be adapted for the Great White Way. Drawing in the talent of some of Broadway’s best—Sutton Foster, Brian d’Arcy James, Christopher Sieber, David Lindsay-Abaire—the tale of the uncouth ogre comes alive onstage in gaudy spectacle fashion.

Nov
01
2013
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Question Your Faith In "Bless Me, Ultima" Review

In 2013, witches have finally established their supremacy. But there is more than one idea of what a witch is. Amidst all the campy, bitchy witches of Beautiful Creatures and American Horror Story: Coven, there are some that are more spiritual. Ultima (Miriam Colon) is just such a witch in Bless Me, Ultima, an adaptation of the classic Hispanic novel by Rudolfo Anaya.

But Bless Me, Ultima isn’t focused on Ultima. It tells the coming-of-age story of Antonio (Luke Ganalon) who struggles to understand how good and evil can exist simultaneously in the world. He is raised in the Catholic church, and devoutly believes what he is taught. But after some adventures with his grandmother Ultima—including an exorcism—Antonio begins to doubt his beliefs in God.

Oct
17
2013
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"Hannibal" A Savory Three Course Meal Review

2013 had a very violent spring. From teenagers gunning down each other in films like Stoker and Spring Breakers to serial killers gunning down each other on The Following, excessive, showy violence pervaded the pop culture consciousness. And, on the heels of this, premiered the equally disturbing series Hannibal. For those accustomed to Bryan Fuller’s sense of dark humor (on series like Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me), his new show would prove to be a departure from that. Yet his innate sense of character-driven storytelling would remain in tact.

Oct
09
2013
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"Haunting Of Helena" Justifies Your Dislike Of Spooky Children All Over Again Review

Just when you thought horror films about creepy girls with black hair had gone out of vogue, along comes The Haunting of Helena. Directors Christian Bisceglia (who also wrote the screenplay) and Ascanio Malgarini (who also served as the film’s visual effects supervisor) bring their Italian sensibilities to the horror genre. Despite the European influence on the film (which is much more bearable than the gritty gore that American horror films have descended to), Haunting still feels like a horror repeat.

Oct
06
2013
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"Mole Man of Belmont Ave" Loses Sight of Horror and Comedy Review

“Doobie doobie do, we-oh we-oh.” So goes the infuriating song that plays throughout The Mole Man of Belmont Avenue. The song in question is sung by lead actors and writers and directors of the film Mike Bradecich and John LaFlamboy in one of the various absurd fantasy/dream sequences that populate this comedy horror film—hormedy? comedorror? Not surprisingly, this little ditty is the least offensive thing about this low brow, low budget movie.

Having inherited a sprawling brownstone apartment building from their deceased mother, the slacker Mugg brothers—Marion (Bradecich) and Jarmon (LaFlamboy)—have driven this property into the ground. Most of the renters have left and the inexplicable bar in the basement is all but defunct. Yet what’s most troubling of all is that the pets in the building have been disappearing. The culprit, of course, is the titular Mole Man, creeping around the building eating tiny animals.

Oct
01
2013
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"Out in the Dark" Alights Upon a Number of Issues Review

The Israel-Palestine conflict has been ongoing for decades, affecting the lives of millions. Out in the Dark certainly isn’t the first film to address this conflict. But, now, director Michael Mayer (who co-wrote the script with Yael Shafrir) explores this conflict with a very personal perspective in Out in the Dark. Unfortunately—or maybe fortunately for Mayer—making this story more personal and character-driven makes the subject matter even more infuriating; it will get under your skin.

Nimr (Nicholas Jacob) is a Palestinian student taking a special class in Tel Aviv. One night after the class, he goes to a gay bar to see his drag queen friend Mustafa (Loai Nofi) perform. At the bar, he has a meet-cute with Israeli lawyer Roy (Michael Aloni). Despite their instant attraction to each other, Nimr knows that going any further with him would make things very complicated, so he does not pursue Roy.

Sep
29
2013
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