Category: Reviews


Films with higher rates of diversity tend to have higher box office numbers and that analysts consistently underestimate black audiences

Source: Lack of diversity in film industry costs Hollywood big money, report finds | Film | The Guardian

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What happens with a young lady comes between an overbearing father and his browbeaten son?  The Greasy Strangler is what happens.  If you are a fan of films like Rubber or Wrong Cops, then you will enjoy the surreal reality that is presented in this film.  Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels) and his son Brayden (Sky Elobar), live together and operate a disco history tour.  Big Ronnie loves everything greasy, which we really do not get a good understanding as to why he needs that extra grease.  He seemly has Brayden under his thumb until Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo) shows an interest in Brayden.

 

The performances are not Oscar caliber but are delivered with such passion, it is hard not to get caught up in the absurdity of the plot.  Big Ronnie, when upset, turns in the titled Greasy Strangler to avenge himself on those who have wronged him.  You can only imagine how Ronnie becomes covered head to toe in the viscous material but watching him clean himself and parade around in his birthday suit make up it for it. There is a reason he is called “Big” Ronnie.  The competition for Janet leads to a variety of sexual contests between Janet and the father and son, who both become attracted to her.  The gratuitous scenes of grease being poured on everything may make you rethink ordering nachos.tumblr_mpvqhwt9Ng1sax13mo1_500

Hailed as the most disgusting movie of 2016, The Greasy Strangler is a wild tale of jealousy, love, and all things greasy.  The highlights of the film are death scenes with the Greasy Strangler.  You feel like you are watching a bad homemade 80’s film with all the overacting done by the supporting characters.  My favorite scene deals with Ronnie’s visit to a late night hot dog sales man, who is really trying to convince the audience he is going to lose his vending license.  It is hard to imagine this film reaching cult status but with the current word of mouth, people will be flocking to it for the sheer gross out factor.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/95136721]

Stay Cold, Stay Hungry focuses on two people who are searching for a meaning, some purpose to their lives.  However, the redemption that recovering addict, Manny, seeks by mentoring to young Harley comes at a steep price.  The viewer learns early in the film that Harley is not what he seems: from his expensive backpack and grooming supplies to the hipster parties that he attends, discussing overseas trips with his friends.  You often read articles online about people going “undercover” to experience the plight of homeless and raise awareness of the terrible conditions homeless people face.  For others it is an opportunity to appreciate the lifestyle they are currently living in.  Yet, with Harley, you do not get the sense that his imposed “homelessness” is derived from noble intentions.

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Manny, locked out after failing to make it to home before curfew, sees Harley struggling to create a proper knot for his tarp cover.  The two spend the night looking out for each other as they try to get some sleep.  The pair reconnect, when Harley attends Manny’s AA meeting, looking for free food.  It was interesting to see Harley discussing with his friends that AA meetings have the best food, trading tips on how to survive being “homeless.”  Guess it would be too much to go home or pay for actual food.  I found myself asking was this truly a game to Harley to see how long he could go without using his funds.  Manny takes Harley under his wing, seeing this as an opportunity to be an effective parental figure.  Constantly failing to reconnect with his own family, Harley becomes a placeholder for the family that Manny has loss.

Every choice that Manny makes to improve Harley’s situation only serves to highlight Harley’s selfishness.  From keeping Manny out too close to his curfew to allowing him to refuse entry into a life changing program, Harley clings to Manny, almost basking in the attention that Manny bestows upon him.   Pushing further into his lies and deceit, the possible consequences never seem to enter Harley’s mind let alone what will happen to Manny when he decides to return to normal life.  It also seems strange that Harley is able to drift around aimlessly without raising a flag from his parents.

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The film has a slow, suspenseful buildup to the revelations of Harley’s lies that will lead to the inevitable confrontation.  Both Steven Hill and Johnny Marra give brilliant performances.  While Manny believes that he is imparting wisdom and a second chance, Harley only seems to be playing a game, stringing Manny along as far as he will take him.  The film has a constant contrast between Manny’s selflessness and Harley’s selfishness.  When presented with several opportunities to either confess or just walk away, Harley refuses to let go of Manny.  Like prized possession, Manny proves to be too valuable to let go until the final confrontation of the two characters.

 

Related News about Stay Cold, Stay Hungry:

Eric Branco on “Stay Cold Stay Hungry”

Major William Cage from the Edge of Tomorrow was a nice departure from the typical character that Tom Cruise portrays in his action films.  Normally Cruise is a likable character when he is first introduced to the audience that is thrust into some situation that he has to fight his way out of.  However, when Cage refuses to go to the front lines and even tries to blackmail his superior officer, the cowardliness of his character comes out in a major way.   Major Cage is an inexperienced officer in the US military who finds reassigned to the front lines to help put a positive spin on the battle to defeat invading aliens.  In his first disastrous attempt at combat, Cage finds that when he dies the day resets.  Now Cage must work with Rita Vrataski, who understands what Cage is experiencing and wants to use this ability to defeat the invading aliens.

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I have to admit Edge of Tomorrow was funnier than I expected.  Just like in Groundhog Day, Cage has many surprisingly, funny encounters as he tries to maneuver himself to the best outcome.  Since the day resets each time he is killed, the funniest scenes are of Cage pleading not to be shot or accidentally killing himself in some bizarre manner.  Like Phil Connors, Cage attempts to rewrite his life in order to survive, learning how to actually fight, but ultimately learns that he cannot avoid the aliens no matter what he does.   I like Emily Blunt’s character, Rita, who focuses on the ultimate endgame of defeating the aliens and is willing to sacrifice herself in the process.

Edge of Tomorrow is another Tom Cruise film whose plot borrows heavily from other films but it is just as enjoyable as Oblivion.  Cruise and Blunt have a good chemistry.  Bill Paxton’s character adds to the comedic elements of the film as Master Sergeant Farrell who attempts to lead Cage on the front lines. The aliens are an interesting combination as you have three levels presented: Mimics, Alphas, and the ultimate leader, the Omega.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars because it surprised me with the comedy.

Let’s Be Cops follows Ryan and Justin, two friends/roommates living in Los Angeles.  When the pair mistakenly dress as cops for what they think is costume party for their college, they find that the uniforms command a certain respect and take full advantage of them.  However, when Ryan becomes obsessed with being a cop and Justin tries to impress a local waitress, they become targets for a local mobster and enter the radar of a real LAPD cop.

The film’s director Luke Greenfield has directed a variety of comedy films, such as teen sex comedy, The Girl Next Door and the romantic comedy, Something Borrowed.  Greenfield is able to mesh elements of an action comedy with those of the goofball comedy this film.

Damon Wayans Jr. plays the straight-laced, responsible Justin who dreams of getting his L.A.P.D. video game released by his company.  He is a shy, pushover who lacks confidence and gets no respect.  His best friend and roommate, Ryan, played by Jake Johnson, is a former college football player who has yet to find his place in the world.  When one of his former teammates asks him about his career, Ryan realizes he does not have one.  Becoming a cop turns into more than a wish-fulfillment opportunity for him, especially after he displays some impressive detective skills.  I think it will be hard to for people not to compare the character of Ryan with  Jake Johnson’s New Girl character, Nick Miller.  Ryan is a loveable goofball who tries his hardest but still comes off as irresponsible.

James D’Arcy, Rob Riggle, Nina Dobrev, and Andy Garcia help round out the cast.  D’Arcy plays the local mobster who terrorizes the neighborhood and likes Justin’s love interest, played by Nina Dobrev.

 

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Let’s Be Cops reminds me a lot of the 1980’s Armed and Dangerous in terms of two bumbling characters rising above their inadequacies and becoming heroes in the end.  There is definitely a decent amount of action and violence, which does not pick up until mid-way in the film.  There is a hilarious sequence in which the pair assists real cops during a store break-in.  The film shows you various ways to not only secure various official looking police equipment but also how to use YouTube to train yourself to be an effective cop.  Wayans and Johnson have good chemistry in the film and it definitely has some funny, if not predictable laughs.  The good supporting cast of comedic talent help lift this movie  especially the crazy characters played by Keegan-Michael Key and Natasha Leggero.

I give the film three stars out of five.

Let’s Be Cops currently has a release date of August 15th.

CineMondays: Closed Season

Bruno (Max Mauff), a young German entomology student, arrives in Israel with a letter from his recently deceased mother to Avi, a German-Jewish kibbutznik, who Bruno believes to be his biological father, Albert. Initially hesitant, Albert (Rami Heuberger) soon reveals the dramatic circumstances leading to Bruno’s birth just after World War II. In flashback, the film, then, follows Albert (Christian Friedel) desperately trying to hide from the Nazis in the Black Forest, as he is taken in by Fritz (Hans-Jochen Wagner), a brutish, hardworking peasant. Working together on Fritz’s farm, a friendship forms, and the childless Fritz makes a shocking request of Albert: to conceive an heir with his wife, Emma (Brigitte Hobmeier). Schlotterer’s stunning yet sparse cinematic style builds the tension and awkwardness to a peak of intensity in this powerful drama filled with passion, betrayal and jealousy.

For more informaiton and to purchase tickets: Closed Season at PJFF CineMondays

It’s 1979. Carole (Soko) and Jerome (Jérémie Lippmann) are French cousins posing as young lovers on an organized trip to Odessa, in the depths of the Cold War. During the day, they’re ordinary tourists visiting museums and historic sites, but after dark, they’re “Friends from France,” activists making contact with the underground world of “refuseniks” – Jews repressed and persecuted by the Brezhnev regime. While Carole is driven by her political ambitions and taste for danger, Jerome is stirred by feelings of passion for Carole. They enter a world filled with drugs, sex, and violence that neither is prepared for.

This gripping and provocative political thriller is a debut feature for Anne Weil and Philippe Kotlarski, and features a standout performance by French singer and actress Soko as Carole.

HOLY GHOST PEOPLE is a Southern Gothic thriller about a teenager searching for her lost sister in the Appalachian Mountains, where she encounters a snake-handling religious cult and eventually learns the truth about her sister’s fate.

An imaginative teenage girl, living in a mystical and dangerous community built on a deserted drive-in movie lot along the Texas/Oklahoma border, struggles to realize her potential, and escape the world she was born into.

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