Kyle North

Staff Writer



"Two Faces Of January", And Neither Is Pretty Review

In 2002, Hossein Amini penned the Heath Ledger epic remake The Four Feathers, then passed nine years before reappearing on the scene with screenwriting turns on Drive, Snow White and the Huntsman, and 47 Ronin in rapid succession. Riding the wave of success, he switched gears and made his feature directorial debut with The Two Faces of January, starring the powerhouse trio of Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, and rising star Oscar Isaac. Borrowing heavily from classic Hitchcockian tropes, the slow-burning thriller endeavors to be a location period film of love, intrigue, and danger in the great tradition of To Catch A Thief.

Jul
14
2015
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"Metal Hurlant Chronicles" Makes As Much Sense As Its Title Review

Metal Hurlant Chronicles debuted in 2012 with a six-episode season that was followed by another sixer in 2014. Each episode is a standalone story set on different worlds and the unifying thread of the show is the titular Metal Hurlant, an asteroid passes through the solar system and encountering the various worlds that the show introduces. With a smattering of genre cameos from the likes of Blade Runner’s Rutger Hauer, Indiana Jones’s John Rhys-Davies, and Terminator’s Michael Biehn, the show shoots itself in the foot by seeming more like a narrative revue of past shows, specifically The Twilight Zone and Star Trek, than a wholly new and exciting creation.

Jul
14
2015
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"Two Men In Town" Argue About Nothing Review

Rachid Bouchareb isn’t a household name, but he’s a film festival darling. With wins at Venice, Cannes, Berlin, and Chicago, not to mention a César Award to his name, Bouchareb arrives on the American scene with a valiant attempt to capture an American tale of old animosities boiling over in the melting pot of dustbowl USA. Attracting a top tier cast with Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland), nominee Harvey Kietel, winner Ellen Burstyn, and the always enjoyable Luis Guzmán, Bouchareb sets his lens on the arid sprawl of New Mexico to follow a parolee coming home to old troubles. William Garnett (Whitaker) has found Allah while serving time, following in the all-too familiar footsteps of Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, and an entire generation of young followers who converted in the ‘60s and ‘70s in search of a nation that was truly their own.

Jul
14
2015
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"Let Us" Preys On Your Nostalgia Review

Pollyanna McIntosh, who created ripples with her deranged, primal breakout as The Woman in The Woman, stars as Rachel Heggie, a rookie cop starting her first night at a remote Scottish police station where the dregs of society sit forgotten in dreary cells. Brian O’Malley makes his feature debut as Game of Thrones’ Liam Cunningham turns up on the streets and is arrested after being thought dead for years. Locked in the Silence of the Lambs-infused basement with the other monsters, he slowly preys on each, taking their souls for the sinful crimes they committed. Gore and fiery death awaits. O’Malley captures some exciting seaside imagery, but betrays his modest budget with token shots that smack of lack of time, lighting, and proper execution.

Jul
13
2015
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"Mad Max" Rides High Review

As Mad Max: Fury Road stuns audiences with its virtuoso rock-opera intensity, it’s worth the uninitiated taking a time warp back to 1979, when franchise mastermind George Miller first introduced the world to the grim, uncompromising post-apocalyptic dystopia of the Australian New Wave. Made for a slim budget of under $400k AUD, the film went on to gross a staggering $100m worldwide, launch a global cult following, and single-handedly launch one of Hollywood’s most profitable actors and directors, Mel Gibson. So put the anti-Semitism and drunken tirades on the shelf, buckle up, and hit the throttle back to the breakout performance and merciless film that redefined the very landscape of independent and, ultimately, Hollywood cinema.

Jul
12
2015
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After 25 Years, "Goodfellas" Finally Comes Home For Its Shinebox Review

On April 25th, at the Beacon Theatre on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival closed out in a big way with the 4K restoration of Martin Scorsese’s virtuoso crime epic, GoodFellas. Audiences watched wide-eyed as they were treated to a trip down memory lane, revisiting the master director’s explosive entrance to a new decade originally released in 1990, leaving no doubt that he was still at the top of his game and redefining storytelling, genres, and cinema itself. Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) always wanted to be a gangster. Starting in his childhood neighborhood, idolizing the local hoods, led by Paul Sorvino’s “Paulie” Circero. One of the film’s narrative threds is hit early, when Hill recites the mafia’s mantra: “Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.” Oh, how far he has to go.

Jun
19
2015
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"Let's Kill Ward's Wife" Turns Out To Be Sage Advice Review

Scott Foley has been a silver screen star for some time, kicking off with a long run on Felicity before turns across all genres in Scrubs, The Unit, True Blood, and, most recently and recognizably, on Scandal. With the cache to pull some clout to his feature directorial debut, he does quadruple duty as writer, producer, director, and star of Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife. A black comedy that still manages to keep the tone light, even as a body is being chopped to pieces, the flick joins a perverse pantheon of ensemble humor with moderately well known casts that may have hit its high-water mark with 1998’s Very Bad Things. That crass little outing saw Jon Favreau, Christian Slater, Jeremy Piven, and Daniel Stern trying to dispose of a dead prostitute after a bachelor party in Vegas goes south.

May
28
2015
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"Gladiators of Rome" Inexplicably Cost $40 Million to Make Review

Gladiators of Rome is a far cry from the Ridley Scott epic of animated films. Not that it should be, as it is meant for kids and they may not be so hot on a cartoon Joaquin Phoenix Emperor incest plotline. Instead, Gladiators… serves up a tried and true zero-to-hero story with goofy independent animation. Imported from Italy, the project was made by the same company behind some Cartoon Network show called Winx Club with obvious influences from anime, that has crept its way into both a 3D and traditional feature film from Nickelodeon.

May
26
2015
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Not All Orson Welles Films Can Be "Citizen Kane" Review

Orson Welles was just 27 when he wrote, starred, and directed in the film still regarded by most as the greatest motion picture ever made, Citizen Kane. The young genius was a Hollywood transplant, lured in from the prestigious New York City theatre community, where, in 1936, he had co-founded the Mercury Theatre. To this day, many know of Welles’s infamous broadcast of H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds on Halloween Eve in 1938. The naturalism of the Mercury ensemble’s performances, led by the unrivaled coldness of Welles’s own velvet voice, convinced a nation that ordinary folks were being interviewed live as an extraterrestrial invasion unfolded. The broadcast incited its fair shares of panic and landed Welles in the national spotlight defending his work. He would find himself on the wrong side of critical sentiment throughout his career, adding only more fire and brimstone to a legacy of confrontation and innovation. Years later, not even Welles could have foreseen that the Mercury Theatre would force his introduction to 1947’s The Lady from Shanghai.

May
26
2015
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"The Liberator" Finds New Freedom on Blu-ray Review

Sometimes the critics are just plain wrong. Such is the case with the lavish epic The Liberator, which suffered unfairly at the hands of hypocritical reporters and narrow-minded reviewers. There was a time in Hollywood when the war epic was a staple of cinema with staggering multinational ensembles, specifically in the post-World War II years. International comrades went A Bridge Too Far, blew up The Bridge on the River Kwai, and reached into both the recent and distant past to cross the Nefud Desert in Lawrence of Arabia and make all slaves free in Spartacus. The Liberator is one such film, but in an era of CGI and superheroes, the tastemakers have forgotten what quality is. Every review of the film smacks of unfair cynicism, missing that this is a competent, confident motion picture (yes, motion picture) that should be heralded as a much needed return to what makes cinema profound, powerful, and purposeful. Even more importantly, it is a motion picture about a certain group of people and culture by those very people and that culture. Hollywood continues to wring its hands about equal opportunity and fairness for minority creators; The Liberator makes them look like fools, with a Venezuelan star and Venezuelan director masterfully telling one of the nation’s most important stories.

May
26
2015
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