By Bob Grimm
on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 12:00 PM
Cinematographer Anna Rose Holmer makes a thought provoking feature film directing debut with the story of Toni (the unforgettably named Royalty Hightower) an 11 year-old girl who spends her days hanging out at the boxing gym with her brother (Da’Sean Minor), but yearns to join the local girls dance troupe.
Set in Cincinnati, the film takes a surreal turn when girls on the dance squad start suffering seizures with varying symptoms. Exactly what is happening to the girls is never really explained, apart from some theorizing that it’s got something to do with the drinking water. The seizures could also be symbolic of each girl’s struggle to make it in society and the obstacles keeping them from being successful despite their drive and talent. Or, it could be each character coming into a new stage of adolescence in strange and unique ways. Or, as stated before, it could just be the water.
It’s the sort of movie that will spark many theories and opinions, none of them entirely right or wrong. Holmer has made a majestic looking, rather short (71 minutes) movie that will have you thinking about it for days after. Hightower is a real talent, who absolutely shines in the lead role. It’s a unique movie for sure that will frustrate some, and enchant many others.
By Bob Grimm
on Mon, Jul 11, 2016 at 10:30 AM
Writer-director Hong-jin Na has put together an epic, rather long South Korean horror film that keeps messing with your head nearly to the point where you just can’t take anymore.
A strange old man (Jun Kunimura) shows up in visions, and then is discovered in the flesh, in a small village where Jon-Goo, a hapless cop (Do Won Kwak), lives with his young daughter. Village residents start killing each other off and occasionally acting like zombies covered with strange boils. Then, Jon-Goo’s daughter starts exhibiting symptoms of possession, setting Jon-Goo off on a crazed mission to find the root of the evil pestilence destroying his town and his family.
Na makes things scary without resorting to jolt scares or quick edits. The movie unfolds, sometimes slowly, in a way that maintains a high level of tension and creepiness. He mixes in some humor, even during some of the more grisly scenes.
The movie is over 2 ½ hours long, and it makes you work a bit, but it’s all worth it in the end. Kwak is especially good as the father figure who thinks he has it all together, only to find out any sense of security he thinks he’s giving his family can be wiped out in an instant.
The Wailing is genuine nightmare fuel, and another strong entry to the horror genre, which is experiencing one of its periodic renaissances these last few years.
By Bob Grimm
on Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 12:00 PM
I enjoyed the goofy, funny, balls-out alien invasion movie that was Independence Day (1996). The film was dumber than a stoned golden retriever in a Harvard calculus class, but Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and, yes, Randy Quaid made the grandiose stupidity somewhat of a blast.
Two decades after the original, Independence Day: Resurgence finally arrives, without Smith, who probably didn’t think the check was big enough.
While the original was a stupid blast, the sequel is the equivalent of a nasty two-hour alien fart. Goldblum, Bill Pullman and Brent Spiner return for alien nonsense that is fast paced yet dull, and utterly void of laughs. It’s evident in the first 10 minutes that the movie will somehow manage to be lethargic even though the editing is frantic, and lots of things are exploding.
Returning director Roland Emmerich is clearly not on his disaster-epic game. It’s a wasteful effort, where camp has been replaced by total ineptitude, and the performers look lost. And, let’s face it, Liam Hemsworth is no Will Smith. Hell, Liam Hemsworth is no Carrot Top. He’s a dud, the movie’s a dud, and the franchise needs to stop now.
Yes, the film calls for a sequel at the end, but Emmerich needs to move on to other things.
By Bob Grimm
on Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 10:00 AM
David Farrier, a New Zealand reporter tasked with finding human interest stories stumbles upon a competitive tickling website and decides to cover the “sport.” Before long, he’s getting threats from an overseas entity both legal and personal. David comes to the United States to investigate further and uncovers some sort of evil fetish tickling ring. It’s been in existence since the mid-nineties and, as he discovers, there are different entities on the Internet that are all tied together. Things get uglier when he traces the whole thing back to a weirdo living in New York, a guy with a lot of money and a law degree.
Farrier and co-director Dylan Reeve deliver a film that’s somewhere in the Catfish mode of documentary moviemaking. It winds up being an interesting story about control, bullying, and to a lessor extent, tickling.
The whole thing is pretty messed up, with a long history of young men being terrorized and, in the case of this particular reporter, being attacked on all aspects of his personality. The whole thing starts out funny and happy, and goes to a surprisingly dark place. This one will make you feel real dirty if you have a thing for tickle videos.
By Bob Grimm
on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 9:00 AM
Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey), a Confederate army medic, decides he’s had enough, and deserts. He returns to Mississippi where his people are being harassed by looting soldiers. He winds up in the swamps with escaped slaves where they form a pact, and eventually create a militia to rebel against the Confederacy.
Based on a true story, director Gary Ross definitely delivers on the brutality and terrors of the Civil War. McConaughey is powerful in the central role, as is Mahershala Ali as Moses, leader of the escaped slaves. The film stumbles a bit in trying to do a little too much. There are courtroom scenes 85 years in the Civil War’s future where a relative of Knight is in a civil rights dispute. These scenes feel completely out of place, and they sort of muck up the film’s ending (things just come to an awkward stop). It’s too bad, because the movie winds up being good instead of great.
The battle scenes are harrowing, the tensions are frightening and real, and there’s not a bad performance in the lot. Yet, because Ross has overstuffed the film, aspects like the rise of the KKK are almost glossed over.
This project, with its dual storylines and many plot points, probably would’ve worked better as an extended series on HBO rather than a single big budget movie. Still, it’s worth seeing for McConaughey and Ali.
By Bob Grimm
on Wed, Jul 6, 2016 at 9:00 AM
And with this, the startling run of Steven Spielberg duds continues. After delivering two of the dullest movies of his career (Lincoln, Bridge of Spies) Spielberg does the almost impossible; he makes Roald Dahl completely boring.
Oscar winner Mark Rylance delivers a motion-capture CGI performance as the central character-the Big Friendly Giant-that results in more yawns than smiles. His giant captures dreams and blows them into the sleeping residents of London. On one of his excursions, he kidnaps Sophie (Ruby Barnhill), and takes her to the land of giants, where most giants are meat eaters. Luckily, he’s a vegetarian, but he’s being bullied by a group of bad giants led by Jemaine Clement in what amounts to the film’s most fun motion capture performance.
Despite a winning performance from Barnhill, a true star in the making, the film drags on and on, trying to get by on big special effects rather than a story line that engages. Everything feels a little off for Spielberg. A visit to the Queen’s house, which should be bizarrely funny and subversive, winds up feeling awkward and uncomfortable.
The whole movie seems to be playing it safe in Dahl land, as if it is E.T. in Dahl land, and it throws the tone completely off (It doesn’t help that John Williams rips off his own E.T. score).
It never clicks. Nothing really works, yet again, for Spielberg, a director who seems to have momentarily lost his mojo.
Hey, Spielberg is responsible for some of the greatest movies ever made. If he makes stinkers for the rest of his life, he’s still one of the most amazing men to sit in the director’s chair.
That said, here’s to hoping for a return to form with one of his next ventures, which allegedly include another crack at Indiana Jones. This is most definitely one of the year’s bigger disappointments.
The Loft Cinema and MOCA bring you an evening of fiber art goodness on Wednesday, July 6 with a special screening of the art film Yarn, a documentary following the work of four textile artists around the world as they enhance public spaces through knit and crochet creations.