Rachel Kolb

Staff Writer

I love movies, writing, and breaking into song in public. You can follow me on Twitter @rachelekolb or check out more of my work at http://rachelekolb.wordpress.com.

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Tribeca Film Festival 2013: Byzantium

SaoirseRonanByzantiumVampires Clara (Gemma Arterton) and her teenage daughter Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) have been on the run for 200 years. Living entirely off the grid, Clara supports them through prostitution, stripping, and various less-than-legitimate money-making schemes, and they quietly bleed the town folk for as long as they can before moving on. After ditching the latest of many small towns, Clara and Eleanor move into a rundown seaside hotel owned by sad-sack schmuck Noel (Daniel Mays). Noel is a lonely man with very little in his life, and he is happy to keep a roof over Clara and Eleanor's head. Having Clara's companionship is just a nice perk. The longer they stay in the town, the more Eleanor lets her guard down and makes the town her home. She befriends a sweet local boy Frank (Caleb Landry Jones), and when she starts to fall for him, she struggles with telling him the truth about what she is. Unfortunately, secrets from Clara's past are lurking in the shadows and threaten to destroy Clara and Eleanor once and for all.

Apr
15
2013
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Tribeca Film Festival 2013: Before Midnight

214673-before-midnight-richard-linklater-julie-delpy-ethan-hawkeBefore Midnight is the final chapter in the romance between Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy). Their love story started with 1995's Before Sunrise when Jesse and Celine met as strangers on a train, and Jesse challenges Celine to get off the train with him in Vienna. They have one magical day together, but before sunrise, they go their separate ways. Their story continues in 2004's Before Sunset when they meet again in Paris years later and wonder what might have been. In Before Midnight, Jesse and Celine have been together for nine years living in Paris. They have twin daughters together, and Jesse has a son Hank with his ex-wife who lives back in Chicago. When the film opens, Jesse and Celine have just spent an unforgettable summer in Greece. Hank is flying back to Chicago, and Jesse is seeing him off at the airport. He is clearly broken up that he will be missing out on most of Hank's high school years and is sick of missing Hank's soccer games and music recitals. Jesse's guilt is the catalyst for the tension between Jesse and Celine on their last day in Greece, and as they walk the cobblestone streets and try to enjoy a romantic evening, one question lingers in the air. Is all love temporary, and can any couple make love last?

Apr
15
2013
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Tribeca Film Festival 2013: At Any Price

at-any-price-zac-efron-new-skip-cropIn the middle of Iowa farming country, Henry Whipple (Dennis Quaid) is nursing delusions of grandeur. With his eldest son Grant (Patrick Stevens) returning home from college, he is buying up land and dreaming that Grant will take over the family business. Together, Henry with Grant and his other son Dean (Zac Efron) will take care of the farm together, sell genetically modified corn for Liberty Seeds, and beat out Henry's Liberty Seeds sales competitor Jim Johnson (Clancy Brown) and his all-American sons. Henry's dreams begin to dissolve, however, when Grant doesn't return home, and the family receives a postcard from Grant recounting his adventures climbing mountains in South America. Suddenly, Dean becomes Henry's last chance at the Whipple Family farming legacy, but Dean wants nothing of it. He already has a dream of his own, to become a race car driver. When Dean gets the chance he has been hoping for, though, he is faced with the stark reality that he might not have what it takes.

Apr
15
2013
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Tribeca Film Festival 2013: "Michael H - Profession: Director"

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SPOILER WARNING: This article explores themes and events from the documentary Michael H - Profession: Director which will have its international premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Michael Haneke and James Broughton are two filmmakers who are just about as different as two filmmakers can be. Michael Haneke uses his films to explore human suffering and the terrors lurking in the corners of our minds. James Broughton wants everyone to lighten up, get a little high, and have lots of sex. Going into Michael H - Profession: Director and Big Joy, I expected to connect more with Broughton and his philosophy of joy and ecstasy in life than Haneke's harsher reality. Much to my surprise, the method behind Haneke's madness was far more satisfying that Big Joy's shallow pleasures.

Apr
10
2013
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"Bangkok Revenge" Doesn't Pull Its Punches Review

As a child, Manit (Jon Foo) saw his parents murdered in front of him before his parent's killers put a bullet in his brain. Against all odds, he survives, but the bullet is still lodged in the part of his brain that feels emotion. He trains for years to learn Muay Thai boxing and waits for the right moment to take his revenge, but to get to the men responsible, he must get through street thugs, corrupt cops, and a sexy girl gang.

Bangkok Revenge has almost no story, but I don't watch movies like Bangkok Revenge for the story. If the fights are good, then the story doesn't matter, and boy, Bangkok Revenge has some amazing fights. Jon Foo might not be much of an actor which is fine considering that Manit isn't supposed to feel human emotion, but I predict that with the right follow-up roles, he could be a huge star. Manit's battle on a subway car full of bad guys is extremely well executed, but the stand-out fight is Manit vs. an entire girl gang, including a very tall and muscular drag queen wielding a sledgehammer. I would actually love to see a whole spin-off movie just about that drag queen with a sledgehammer deciding to leave a life of crime and doling out vigilante justice.

Apr
07
2013
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"Repligator" Needs To Be Seen To Be Believed Review

Every once in awhile, I come across a movie, and I can't believe it actually exists. Repligator is one of those movies. Everything about this movie from top to bottom is crazy. The cover art of the DVD is a sexy bikini babe with the head of an alligator, holding a ray gun Charlie's Angels-style. The plot is flat-out bonkers. After a military experiment goes terribly wrong, soldiers are turned into hot nymphomaniacs who want to have sex with anyone and everyone. This seems like a happy accident until a few of the nymphos get laid and transform into alligator monsters, the so-called “repligators.” Victims of the “repligators” come back to life as sex-crazed gay zombies, and the remaining unsatisfied nymphos run around topless with Dr. Oliver (Keith Kjornes), the project's lead scientist, trying to save the day.

Apr
05
2013
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The "Guardians" May Rise Yet On Home Video Review

Rise of the Guardians is perhaps the biggest box office tragedy of 2012. A massive failure in ticket sales, it led to layoffs at DreamWorks Animation and a complete rethinking of the direction of DreamWorks Animation. When I saw the previews for Rise of the Guardians, I admit that I wasn't impressed. I didn't see it in theaters because I thought it was one of the lesser DreamWorks animated movies with fast-talking animals, dated pop culture references, and at least a few fart jokes. As it turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong. Rise of the Guardians is a wildly creative and honestly heartfelt movie that deserved to be an enormous hit, and that makes its box office failure all the more disheartening.

Apr
04
2013
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"Iron Doors" Will Have You Begging To Be Set Free Review

An unnamed investment banker (Axel Wedekind) is locked in a bank vault with nothing but a locker and a dead rat. He has no idea who locked him in the vault or why, but he must use the tools in the locker to break his way out of the vault. After breaking into an adjoining vault, he discovers that he is not the only person being kept prisoner. An also unnamed African bride (Rungano Nyoni) is locked in her vault with nothing but a coffin. Is their imprisonment a test of strength or wills, or does their captor expect either of them to make it out alive?

Apr
02
2013
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Don't Bother Swimming In "Lake Placid" Review

Lake Placid: The Final Chapter returns to Lake Placid one last time, until they decide to return again in another ill-conceived direct-to-DVD sequel. In this “adventure,” a team of poachers led by Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and a bus full of horny co-eds are all heading toward Lake Placid. The poachers want to catch a giant crocodile to sell for millions, and the co-eds are just looking for a good time at the beach. One by one, nearly everyone gets picked off by the giant crocodiles with some of the most fake CGI deaths ever seen outside of the Syfy channel.

Apr
02
2013
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"Cyberstalker" Is A Nightmare As Fresh As Dial-Up Review

Cyberstalker is a movie written by dummies who don't understand the internet for dummies who understand the internet even less. This latest Lifetime Original Movie starring The O.C.'s Mischa Barton is meant to scare technologically illiterate parents with the “true” cautionary tale of Aiden Ashley. When Aiden was a teenager, she spent too much time talking to strangers online, and one of these strangers became obsessed, calling Aiden's house and finding out where she lived. One night, Aiden's stalker goes too far and breaks into her home, murdering both of her parents and leaving her scarred for life. She changes her name and disappears off the grid. She avoids the internet at all costs refusing to own a computer or even a cell phone. Of course, the killer is still out there, waiting for her to slip up so he can rape and murder her. His end game is never really laid out, but I can only assume it involves rape and murder, possibly afterward wearing her skin. He finally gets his chance when her paintings are featured in a public art show, but the big question is, who is the stalker? Is it Aiden's new boyfriend, her art patron, the detective who investigated her parent's murders, or someone else entirely?

Apr
01
2013
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"The Package" Is Worth Signing For Review

Tommy Wick (Steve Austin) is hired muscle for a local gangster, running errands and collecting on old debts. After years of loyalty, his boss offers him one last job and the chance to walk away from this life. All Tommy has to do is deliver a package to a man known only as “The German” (Dolph Lundgren), a sociopath who enjoys maiming people while mixing a smoothie. The German's gang is starting to flex its muscles and take on some of the rival gangs, so the question is whether the package that Tommy is delivering is meant to help The German or take him out.

Mar
31
2013
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"Chicken With Plums" A Surprisingly Good Recipe For Comedy Review

Writing/directing team Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud followed up their highly successful animated feature Persepolis with the fantastical dark comedy Chicken with Plums. In Chicken with Plums, musician Nasser Ali Khan (Mathieu Amalric) is inconsolable after his prized violin is destroyed. He tries to replace it, but when the greatest and most expensive violins prove inadequate, he decides that he has nothing left in life and wants to die. He doesn't want a messy, undignified death, so he puts on a robe, crawls into bed, and waits for death to find him. In the days before his death, he tries to impart wisdom to his two young children, and his wife goes from mildly irritated to taking a last desperate attempt to earn his love.

Mar
21
2013
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"Best in Show" Still Has an Impressive Comedy Pedigree Review

Writer, director, and Princess Bride villain Christopher Guest has mastered the art of the mockumentary. The point of many documentaries (and Ira Glass' career) is to find extraordinary people and accomplishments in these odd little corners of society. Guest prefers to find people who think they are extraordinary but are really just taking themselves and their work too seriously. In For Your Consideration, actors destroy themselves and their movie trying to attract Academy Awards nominations, all to win a little trophy. Waiting for Guffman similarly takes a community theater and teases them with the possibility of a Broadway talent scout coming to their play. 2000's Best in Show was arguably the best of Guest's mockumentaries because he combines his style with Geoffrey Rush's formula for success in Shakespeare in Love. “Comedy, love and a bit with a dog. That's what they want.”

Mar
14
2013
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Safina Makes "Saving The Ocean" Look Fun And Exciting Review

Saving the Ocean with Carl Safina is probably one of the most optimistic environmental shows to come along in awhile. While Americans certainly need the tough love of films like An Inconvenient Truth and The Cove, it is refreshing to see humans acting as part of the solution rather than being the problem. In each episode, Carl Safina travels around the world and meets with communities that have re-evaluated their relationship to the ocean. They have made their fishing sustainable or revived their whale population, creating a relationship that benefits both the community and the wildlife.

Mar
12
2013
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"Mayo Clinic Diet" A Healthy Alternative To "Biggest Loser" Review

The Mayo Clinic Diet is an informational film produced by the Mayo Clinic meant to dispel certain misconceptions about weight loss as well as create realistic goals and expectations. The Mayo Clinic Diet is not a diet per se but rather a series of life-long habits. People who go on a diet expect that this will be a temporary change, that they will deprive themselves until they hit a target weight and then go back to their normal way of living and eating. In comparison, the Mayo Clinic Diet is about relearning enjoying food while lessening emotional attachments to food. For example, it is possible to spend time with friends and family at gatherings like Christmas and Thanksgiving and take pleasure from that instead of the foods associated with those gatherings.

Mar
11
2013
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"Sessions" Comes To Blu-ray Not A Moment Too Soon Review

2013 Oscar season has come and gone, and wow, this year was a doozy. I don't know if it was just me, but this year seemed particularly shallow and gross. By shallow and gross, I don't mean the films nominated. I actually haven't seen such a strong Best Picture category in years. What really bothered me about the 2013 Oscar season was the press coverage. After hours of Joan Rivers making snide comments about Adele in spanks, the endless questioning of whether Anne Hathaway is “real enough,” and discussing whether it is acceptable to call Quvenzhane Wallis four-letter words for enjoying her success too much, I started to lose all faith in humanity. Thank God for The Sessions. This movie came along at just the right time to bring me back from the brink.

Mar
11
2013
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Please Bury "So Undercover" Deep, Deep Underground Review

Since leaving Disney Channel's Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus has tried her hardest to distance herself from her wholesome image. She pole-danced on an ice cream truck, played a bratty teenager in The Last Song, and recently wore a strapless bra as a shirt on Leno. Now, I'm not interested in shaming Cyrus or her personal decisions because I can only imagine what it must have been like to grow up in the spotlight. She can wear whatever she wants to wear, and regardless of their quality, there are plenty of great actors who got their starts in Nicholas Sparks films. In the midst of this awkward period, though, Cyrus was in one of the ugliest, most anti-woman movies I have ever seen wrapped up as a Legally Blonde knock-off, the straight-to-DVD “comedy” So Undercover.

Feb
27
2013
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"Yelling To The Sky" Should Try Yelling Some Exposition Review

In Yelling to the Sky, Sweetness O'Hara (Zoe Kravitz) has never had it easy. Living in poverty with her sick mother (Yolonda Ross) and pregnant sister Ola (Antonique Smith), she still manages to succeed in school and stay out of trouble for the most part. When her father's violent mood swings become more frequent and they can't afford the weekly grocery bill, Sweetness starts dealing drugs for her family. Her motivation is initially to make ends meet, but it isn't long until she is partying, forming her own gang, and beating up her schoolyard enemies like Latonya (Gabourey Sidibe).

Feb
25
2013
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"Matlock" Shuffles Its Way To DVD Review

Back in the late 1980s through the '90s, there was a slew of murder mystery procedural TV shows starring middle-aged detectives. Murder She Wrote had Angela Lansbury as a widowed writer turned detective, Diagnosis Murder had Dick Van Dyke as a doctor/police consultant, and Matlock had America's favorite sheriff Andy Griffith as a lawyer who also investigates all of his cases. They were produced to be safe, predictable entertainment suitable for all ages. The deaths were never too gruesome, and crime did not go unpunished. The eighth season of Matlock is evidence of what happens when these intentionally bland procedural shows overstay their welcome. Even Andy Griffith's Southern charm can't save this season from its lazy writing and bizarre character developments.

Feb
14
2013
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On Blu-ray, It Ain't So Bad Being A "Wallflower" Review

During the summer before my senior year, I was getting over a particularly nasty break-up. I know looking back on that time that I was all angst and must have been really annoying to be around, which is why I appreciate what my friends did for me. Whenever I started moping, we would all pile into the car, and they would take me for a long drive. One of my friends had a knack for making the best mixed CDs, and he would turn up the music so loud that I could sing along at the top of my lungs and not feel self-conscious. We would sit in the cold grass under the night sky and talk for hours until I knew that everything would be alright. They understood me and accepted me when I was happy and pleasant to be around, and on my really bad days, their only concern was bringing me back.

Feb
12
2013
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