Thursday, May 25, 2017

Slack Bay (May 27th and 28th at the Cleveland Cinematheque)



[SLACK BAY screens Saturday May 27th at 7:10 pm and Sunday May 28th at 3:45 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Class warfare and cannibalism collide in the deadpan black comedy SLACK BAY. The setup is that tourists are disappearing from the small French village of Ma Loutte. The local constabulary, the Laurel and Hardy-esque pair of Inspector Machin (Didier Despr├ęs) and Malfoy (Cyril Rigaux) are at a loss.  

The audience, however, is very much aware of what is happening and who is responsible. Call this a SPOILER ALERT if you will, but the movie shows us early on that the Brufort family – headed by patriarch L'Eternel (Thierry Lavieville) – are murdering and eating hapless vacationers. Mom (Caroline Carbonnier) doesn't even bother cooking the meat, serving up bloody red plates of tasty foot for her ravenous progeny.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Suntan (May 26th and 27th at the Cleveland Cinematheque)



[SUNTAN screens Friday May 26th at 7:30 pm and Saturday May 27th at 9:35 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

No music plays over the opening scenes of SUNTAN, but if director Argyris Papadimitropoulos had chosen to score these moments with the Wendy Carlos rendition of "Dies Irae" from Kubrick's THE SHINING, it would not have been inappropriate.

SUNTAN is something of a reverse take on THE SHINING, in which the protagonist is reimagined as the doctor for a small Greek resort island rather than the caretaker for a Colorado resort. And his problems are exacerbated not by the lonely winter spent there, but by the busy summer season.

As Kostis, the aforementioned doctor, actor Makis Papadimitriou even looks a bit like Jack Nicholson's in his role of Jack Torrance, what with his perpetual five o'clock shadow and dour visage. There's also mention of the island's previous doctor, who evidently left under a bit of a cloud, perhaps recalling Grady, Torrance's predecessor in THE SHINING.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Burn the Ships (recently screened at the 41st Cleveland International Film Festival)



[BURN THE SHIPS recently screened at the 41st Cleveland International Film Festival.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

You know pro softball players are doing it for the love of the game. How else can you explain playing for salaries that range from about $3000 a year on the low end, to the dizzying upper reaches of around $12,000 a year. With wages like that, you're gonna' need a second job. And that's not always easy, because unless you're a teacher, how many employers are going to give you the summer off to go play sports?

That's just one of the dilemmas facing the women of the NPF (National Pro Fastpitch League). There's also the instability of the league itself. Started in 1976 in part thanks to the attention brought to women's sports when women's tennis player Billy Jean King beat male player Bobby Riggs, the league has since had many ups and downs. Teams have come and gone, and the league itself has gone dormant on a few occasions when sponsorships dried up.

Alien: Covenant



Review by Bob Ignizio

Ridley Scott's PROMETHEUS proved to be a divisive film for fans of the ALIEN franchise. Personally I liked it, but I get the criticisms. Despite a great cast and some interesting ideas, there were some definite problems with the film's script. And for many, it didn't help that there wasn't much alien for an ALIEN movie.  

For his follow up, ALIEN: COVENANT, it feels as if Scott has given in to the complaints and tried to "give the people what they want", while still indulging his thematic musings on the origins of intelligent life and the nature of good and evil.

The plot follows the titular spacecraft as it sets off to colonize a new world. After an accident, android Walter (Michael Fassbender) wakes the crew from their cryo sleep early. Sadly, he is unable to prevent the death of the expeidtion's commander and a few random colonists whose pods malfunction.

Road to the Well (now available on home video and VOD)



Review by Bob Ignizio

A midlife crisis is set in motion when Frank (Laurence Fuller) catches his girlfriend having sex with his boss. Enter Frank's old friend and all around shady character Jack (Micah Parker). The two hit the bar to commiserate, and while there Frank hooks up with an attractive woman named Ruby (Rosalie McIntire). The two head outside to Frank's car to have sex, but things take an unexpected turn to violence when an unknown man attacks and kills Ruby with a knife and leaves Frank unconscious with the murder weapon and the corpse.

Jack takes this more or less in stride, leading us to believe this isn't the first time he's had to deal with a dead body. And while discussing the options with Frank, Jack also reveals that Ruby was a hooker he hired to help lift his friend's spirits. Eventually, despite some half-hearted objections from Frank, the two friends decide to cut up the body and bury it.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul



Review by Bob Ignizio

After three successful and entertaining films, the DIARY OF A WIMPY KID franchise gets a soft reboot with a completely new cast in DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL. This, perhaps not surprisingly in our internet age, has spawned a fair amount of backlash from some fans, proving once again that people have way too much free time and spend far too much of it getting worked up over insignificant nonsense.

The film can be summed up succinctly as "A family friendly take on NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION". There are also a few bits and pieces from PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES and A CHRISTMAS STORY thrown in for good measure as the Hefley's take a cross-country road trip to their Mee Maw's 90th birthday party.

Norman (now playing at the Cedar Lee Theatre and the Capitol Theatre)


Review by Pamela Zoslov

A recent celebrity quote I liked is from Richard Gere, the actor whose outspoken political views — protesting China's occupation of Tibet on the Oscars red carpet, angering China and jeopardizing the overseas movie market — have sidelined him from the majors and led him to take roles in independent films. “I'm not interested in playing the wizened Jedi in your tentpole,” the 67-year-old actor told the Hollwood Reporter. “I was successful enough in the last three decades that I can afford to do these [smaller films] now.”

The former leading man, now 67, appears in two small indies opening this month: THE DINNER, in which he plays a congressman involved in a scandal, and NORMAN, in the titular role of a political fixer, or what my Yiddish-speaking mother would call a “macher,” a guy who knows everyone, trades favors and exploits connections.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Mimosas (May 18th and 19th at the Cleveland Cinematheque)


[MIMOSAS screens Thursday May 18th at 8:50 pm and Friday May 19th at 7:30 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

A dying sheikh sets out with a caravan for his final journey. He wants to be buried in the land where he was born, Sijilmasa. But he dies before he can get there, and the road being difficult, most of those charged to get him to his destination bow out of their duties. Not Ahmed (Ahmed Hammoud) and Said (Said Aagli), though. They offer to the Sheikh's wife to complete the journey, although one wonders if these two shady characters really intend to fulfill their bargain, or if they see some sort of score here.

We then shift to a scene that's sort of like an Arabic Home Depot parking lot, I guess. A large group of men are gathered in a parking lot looking for short term labor. But not building houses. Apparently the jobs on offer involve driving. But there's some sort of metaphysical aspect to the job, as well.

I, Olga Hepnarova (May 18th and 19th at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[I, OLGA HAPNAROVA screens Thursday May 18th at 6:45 pm and Friday May 20th at 9:30 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Eric Sever

In 1975, Olga Hepnarova was the last woman executed in Chechoslovakia. To avoid spoilers, I won't mention what she did, but the film I, OLGA HEPNAROVA is more concerned with why she did it.

Michalina Olszanska turns in a nicely restrained performance as the troubled young woman, who grows increasingly isolated from people after attempting suicide.

Olga manages to land a job, starts a fling with a female coworker, and begins to loosen up. For all her quietness, Olga sometimes displays a sexual voracity as naive and inappropriate as her other social interactions. When she is cruelly dumped, Olga again tries to make human connections, despite the fact that socializing is largely torturous for her.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Snatched



Review by Bob Ignizio

Sorry to ruin anybody's mother's day plans, but if you care about your mom at all, do not take her to see SNATCHED. Even with modest expectations and an open mind, this alleged comedy can't clear even the extremely low bar set by this reviewer.

Comedian Amy Schumer plays Emily Middleton, a narcissistic woman who gets dumped by her rock star boyfriend just days before they are supposed to go on a (non-refundable) vacation in Ecuador. None of Emily's friends are willing or able to come with her, so as a last resort she takes her homebody, "crazy cat lady" mom Linda.