10 Mar 2017
in Blu-ray Review
Tags: acquittal, boone lassiter, courtney hunt, courtroom drama, courtroom thriller, defence lawyer, detached, drab, drama, dull, film, films, flat, Gabriel Basso, grey, gugu mbatha-raw, hard-drinking, jim belushi, keanu reeves, keeps audience guessing, killer, killer's identity, lies, murder, murderer's identity, needs improvement, obtrusive, philanderer, predictable, red herrings, renee zellweger, review, reviews, richard ramsey, secrets, should have done this a long time ago, straight to video, thriller, truth, truth of the matter, tyrant, unconvincing, uneven performance
The Whole Truth is a courtroom drama and thriller that spends its entire runtime getting to the truth of a matter. The film is one that – for the most part – keeps the audience guessing in much the same way as Doubt did. This ultimately makes for a story that is not a bad one to watch, even if there are areas needing improvement and the ending is a tad predictable.
Keanu Reeves stars as a hard-drinking, defence lawyer named Richard Ramsey. He also narrates the story but his delivery is so detached and flat and the content adds so little to the film that for the most part it seems like these are obtrusive elements are like a fly that you’d love to swat away. Reeves’ performance is also rather uneven and unconvincing as he attempts to play a guy trying to defend an open-and-shut case on behalf of a family friend.
A wealthy personal injury lawyer named Boone Lassiter (Jim Belushi in a rare dramatic role) is found dead. He was stabbed and has a knife protruding from his chest. His son Mike (a poker-faced, Gabriel Basso) kneels above his estranged, old man’s body and mutters, “Should have done this a long time ago.” The police take this as a confession and it is Ramsey’s job to try to defend the boy and possibly get him acquitted of murder.
The main problem is that Mike won’t talk, not even to his lawyer. So Ramsey adopts a strategy of making it look like the prosecution is winning the case until some extra, crucial pieces of information are revealed. But are some of these red herrings that have been planted or are they the actual truth?
Boone is painted as a philanderer and a tyrant who assaulted his wife (a troubled, Renée Zellweger). The information is revealed via a series of flashbacks with director, Courtney Hunt (Frozen River) attempting to keep the audience on their toes until the very end.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Concussion) also appears in this film. She plays Janelle and is brought in as a young, eager-to-prove herself co-counsel to assist Ramsey. Mbatha-Raw’s role is a largely thankless one. Janelle attempts to suss out the truth and discovers that there could be more to this story than meets the eye. The only thing that seems certain here is that there are many shades of grey and at least a few people are telling secrets and lies.
The Whole Truth is a drab-looking film. It’s shot mostly in-doors in the grey courtroom and is rather dull in depicting the events leading up to it so it’s really an unnecessary one to view on Blu-ray. It also tries to weave together a bunch of different subplots while forcing the audience to question just who Boone’s killer was and what was their motive. For a straight-to-video film it certainly has its movements but you also get the sense that with a few adjustments it could have been so much better.
Originally published on 8 March 2017 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/whole-truth-dvd-review/
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12 Feb 2017
in DVD Review
Tags: 1930s, beautifully shot, beauty, blake lively, bobby, cafe society, chemistry, comedy, debachery, dramedy, dvd, dvds, enjoyable, enjoyment, entertainment, excess, existential questions, fakery, fanity, film, films, flimsy, funny, gangster brother, girls, glamour, halcyon days, high society, hollywood, hollywood heavyweight, jazzy nightlife, Jesse Eisenberg, kristen stewart, l.a., la, la la land, light comedy, lightweight, los angeles, money, movie, navel-gazing, new york, old money, pleasant, predictable, professional dreams and romance, relax, review, reviews, romance, romantic story, society set, Steve Carrell, street smart girl, style, thirties, trappings, uncle phil, vonnie, witty, Woody Allen, woody allen film, youth
It seems that La La Land is not the only film to look affectionately at some halcyon days in Hollywood. Woody Allen’s Café Society manages to do this as well as celebrating the jazzy nightlife of New York. This is a light yet fun film that is like a love letter to old money and its trappings, even though it is set in the thirties, a time where most would normally stop and think about the Great Depression.
Café Society once again sees the famed director doubling as the film’s narrator. It is also brimming with the kind of witty repartee that Allen and his work have become synonymous with. It also finds time for some navel gazing, posing some existential questions and sticking the knife into organised religion. This is a funny and romantic story but in true Allen fashion, it’s one that rules with the head rather than the heart.
Jesse Eisenberg does his best Woody Allen impression and stars as Bobby, a kid with stars in his eyes. He is seduced by Hollywood’s bright lights and leaves his family behind for L.A. Steve Carrell is a Hollywood heavyweight and Bobby’s Uncle Phil. The latter takes pity on his nephew and offers the boy some work doing odd job at the company he owns.
Bobby initially enjoys the girls, glamour and debauchery of la la land but eventually he comes to see through it all. He realises that a lot of it is excess, fakery and vanity. This sentiment is shared by his uncle’s secretary, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart who actually cracks a smile for once and puts in a decent performance.) The chemistry between these former cast mates is quite obvious and really makes the romance seem plausible.
The two youngsters bond over a mutual love of Mexican food. Vonnie initially plays her cards close to her chest because she’s intelligent and street-smart and because she has an elusive boyfriend she started dating shortly before meeting Bobby. The latter was always going to be hooked on his Uncle’s secretary, he was smitten early on and it’s almost inevitable that he will have his heart broken.
Eventually Bobby returns to New York to work with his gangster brother in a nightclub. It’s here that he meets a divorcee (a fresh-faced and bubbly, Blake Lively.) A new romance blossoms but this bliss doesn’t last for long because Vonnie soon visits New York and the club with another unwelcome visitor in tow.
Café Society celebrates style, youth and beauty. It’s a rather flimsy, predictable and lightweight film but it’s also one that offers enjoyment in spades thanks to its beautifully-shot scenes and witty dialogue. This is a look at a rich part of America in the thirties and it shows where professional dreams can clash with romance (although this is nothing new.) This is the sort of film that will not profoundly affect you but one where you can sit back, relax and enjoy as a sort of date with the society set with all of the trimmings.
Originally published on 6 February 2017 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/cafe-society-dvd-review/
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19 Oct 2016
in Film Review
Tags: 1930s, 30s, beautifully shot, beauty, blake lively, comedy, excess, existential, film, films, fine performance, flimsy, gangster brother, glamour, glitz, halcyon days, high society, hollywood, hotshot, jazz, Jesse Eisenberg, kristen stewart, lightweight, love triangle, new york, nostalgic, ny, pleasant, predictable, review, reviews, rich, riches, richness, rom-com, romance, romantic tale, smokey, smoky, smoky nightlife, splendour, Steve Carell, thirties, throwaway, uncle phil, vonnie, Woody Allen, youth
Woody Allen’s latest film should be renamed “High Society.” This beautifully-shot comedy is a nostalgic but throwaway look at the glitz and glamour of some halcyon days in Hollywood and the smoky nightlife of New York. It’s ultimately like a pleasant and lightweight dream that celebrates money even though the thirties was synonymous for some with the great depression.
Café Society is like most of Allen’s films in that it is full of snappy dialogue and features the famous director as a sleepy narrator. One of the best pieces of advice this film offers is to “Live everyday like it’s your last because one day you’ll be right” as well as other existential points and jabs at religion. This may be a romantic tale but in true Allen style this romance is one where your head is in charge, not your heart.
Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg doing his best Woody Allen impression) stars as a wide-eyed kid who is initially seduced by the bright lights of Hollywood. Bobby’s Uncle Phil (Steve Carell) is a Hollywood hotshot. He takes pity on his nephew and offers the kid some odd jobs. Bobby seems to enjoy elements of La-La land (his encounter with a first-time prostitute is hilarious) but he soon comes to hate the excess and fakery of it all. It’s a sentiment that is shared by his uncle’s secretary, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart who proves she doesn’t need to pout her way through every film.) Stewart puts in a fine performance where the chemistry with her former cast mate, Eisenberg is particularly obvious.
Vonnie is given the job of showing Bobby around town. The two youngsters bond over Mexican food and Bobby becomes completely smitten. But Vonnie holds her cards closely to her chest. The reason she does so is because she’s smart and savvy and because she also has an elusive boyfriend that she started dating a year before meeting Bobby.
Eventually Bobby returns home to New York. He takes a job working in a nightclub with his gangster brother. Bobby meets a divorcee at the club (an effervescent Blake Lively) and romance blossoms. The pair seem happy until Vonnie shows up at the club with someone Bobby knows all too well.
Café Society is like The Great Gatsby in that it celebrates youth, beauty and jazz. The story itself is quite flimsy and predictable but it’s a film that offers entertainment and enjoyment, pure and simple. This depiction of love triangles and professional dreams is one opulent ride and a fun look at a brief but rich period in the thirties in America. In Café Society’s world the depression never happened and everyone was free to enjoy themselves, rambling through the richness and splendour that was the society set. This is ultimately fun for audiences to watch but don’t expect it to change your life or your riches.
Originally published on 18 October 2016 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/film-review-woody-allens-latest-cafe-society-usa-2016-offers-a-nostalgic-but-throwaway-look-at-the-great-depression/
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25 Jul 2016
in DVD Review
Tags: 1990, abuse, accusations, Alejandro Amenábar, boring, charlatanism, dark, david dencik, David Thewlis, dubious story, dull, dvd, dvds, emma watson, ethan hawke, flat, forgettable, horror, inspired by, John Gray, mediocre, molestation, mysterious, no recollection of crimes, planted memories, pop psychology, predictable, psychologist, quackery, rape, raw, real events, regression, regression therapy sessions, review, reviews, ridiculous, rural minnesota, suspense, tension, thriller, true events, turgid source material, underdeveloped plot, underwhelming, underwhelming performances, weak characters
Regression is a film that lives up to its name because for you to recall any of it you’d have to go back and watch it again and again. The film is a dark one set in 1990 in rural Minnesota. It’s also one that is based on real-life events. But the story and characters are ultimately too weak and underdeveloped to lift this beyond the realm of a mediocre thriller.
The film is written and directed by Alejandro Amenábar (The Others). It seems that Amenábar was a bit too close to the subject matter. The majority of the characters feel as light-weight as holograms. Regression also often has as much horror, suspense and tension as a wet blanket.
Emma Watson stars as a troubled, 17 year-old girl who accuses her alcoholic father, John Gray (David Dencik) of rape. The Dad spends a lot of time reassuring the investigators that his daughter is nice girl who would never make this up, despite his having no recollection of the crime. The police officer investigating the case (Ethan Hawke) is initially sceptical but he begins to change his tune after he witnesses some regression therapy sessions between a psychologist (David Thewlis) and the accused. These basically culminate in memories being planted.
At times it feels like the investigator has flipped a switch. He becomes so doggedly assured that the allegations are true and that Gray’s family must be involved in a ritualistic cult. Never mind if this implicates one of his fellow officers. The dark acts involve lots of sex, rape, human sacrifice and even the consumption of human flesh, yuck! The subject matter is provocative but the film is so formulaic and far-fetched that you can’t take it very seriously (even if the film itself tries to do so!)
This story is ultimately quite dubious, especially as the therapy is pure charlatanism. This flat film tries to be raw and mysterious but in many instances it seems quite predictable, ridiculous and forgettable. Some underwhelming performances (from quality actors doing the best they can with the turgid source material) make this regression session too dull and boring for its own good. Yawn.
Originally published on 24 July 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/regression-dvd-review/
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06 Jun 2016
in Blu-ray Review
Tags: Ben Richardson, billy bob thornton, blu-ray, blu-rays, bluray, brief, bruce dern, Cassandra Steeley, cast interviews, coen brothers, cut bank, dark, dark noir, disappointing, fargo, film, films, Georgie Wits, John Malkovich, Liam Hemsworth, Michael Stuhlbarg, montana, muder investigation, murder mystery, noir, noir thriller, outrageous, p-p-p-parcel, predictable, review, Roberto Patino Matt Shakman, suspence, Teresa Palmer, thriller, unrealistic
Cut Bank is the sort of film that if you go in with low expectations you may just be pleasantly surprised. The movie is a pastiche of noir thriller and is indebted to the work of the Coen brothers in more ways than one. Cut Bank is ultimately the sort of story that is hardly ground-breaking, but it could just be a pleasant enough ride for the most part.
The film is written by Roberto Patino (Sons of Anarchy). It also marks the feature debut for veteran TV director, Matt Shakman who has recently been working on the TV adaptation of Fargo (and this has certainly influenced this film). Cut Bank is set in the small town of the same name in Montana and it shows the events that surround the first murder to have ever taken place in the area.
The gorgeous, Liam Hemsworth stars as a hunky and restless motor mechanic who has big dreams of leaving this place for dust. He wants to bring his girlfriend, Cassandra Steeley (the sweet, Teresa Palmer) along for the ride. The latter is a natural beauty who is about to enter a local pageant. The pair were filming Steeley’s entry video in a picturesque field (this is one of many great settings that show off the excellent cinematography by Ben Richardson) but they also inadvertently capture a murder in progress.
Local mailman, Georgie Wits (Bruce Dern) is shot and there is a reward offered by the government for any information relating to the death of a federal employee. Local sheriff (a subdued, John Malkovich) is a little out of his depth because he vomits at the idea of undertaking a murder investigation. Thankfully he is ably assisted by Steeley’s father (Billy Bob Thornton). The town is also inhabited by a local weirdo and taxidermist (Michael Stuhlbarg who shares a few things in common with Robin Williams’ character in One Hour Photo). He seems like a prime suspect but to some people he may just seem like an enthusiastic US Post user who just wants his missing, “p-p-p-parcel!”
Cut Bank can be a tad outrageous and unrealistic at times. There are moments where things fall apart and the proceedings seem to veer a little too far off-course. At other times the film tries a bit too hard and fails, especially when the characters seem only half-formed. One positive however, is that the film is a brief one and it has an excellent, veteran cast that put in solid performances that keep things moving.
The special features on the Blu-ray are disappointing. There are no featurettes- all that is offered is simply the theatrical trailer and a handful of cast interviews with: Malkovich, Thornton, Stuhlbarg, Dern and Oliver Platt. For a Blu-ray containing such a short feature film this really misses the mark as there was room for the audience to enjoy so much more.
Cut Bank has its moments of decent, dark noir but it can be a bit predictable at times as it borrows a little too much from other films in the genre. If you want a story about a murder set in a small town with some simple curveballs and twists then this is a story for you. It’s not going to change your life or the world but you might just find some entertaining moments if you wade in deep enough.
Originally published on 4 June 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/cut-bank-blu-ray-review/
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