Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Phantom of the Opera, at the home of the Cleveland Orchestra (who will stand you up), October 28

[Event preview by Charles Cassady, Jr.]

It's rather amazing that nobody has, to wide knowledge, floated the urban legend that Severance Hall is haunted. As I wrote in my book Cleveland Ghosts, plenty of public performing auditoriums get extra patronage (not to mention overnight rentals from ghost-hunting tourists) via rumors of specters or phantoms lurking about. Perhaps there just isn't enough money left here to pay a decent "haint" to hang around the Cleveland Orchestra's main venue.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Don't you forget about her: Molly Ringwald visits Lorain County Community College, Oct. 24

[Event preview by Charles Cassady, Jr.]

Photo by Collette Lash
Collette Lash
 
Cleveland Movie Blog writer Charles Cassady, as he has confessed before, has a certain ironic association with YA movie goddess Molly Ringwald. Back when he graduated from college (Syracuse University, if you must know) with a relatively valueless degree (Journalism, if you must know), he at least had a monthly column in a NY-based entertainment magazine and a promise that he was going to be flown out to do an interview with Miss Ringwald, then at the height of her John Hughes-collaboration movie career.

Not a bad start for a new graduate setting out on a fresh, exciting career, Cassady thought.

But, right after Cassady arrived back in Cleveland, the ad agency behind the magazine informed him the interview was off. Then it shut down the magazine altogether. It was a harbinger of how Cassady’s subsequent decades would unfold, as a series of heartbreaking personal and professional setbacks.

The good side: after years of intense therapy, Charles does not blame Molly Ringwald personally for his pain and torment. He is convinced she is a nice person and had nothing to do with ruining his life, not really. Molly Ringwald need have no fear of Charles Cassady when she comes to Lorain County Community College’s Stocker Arts Center on Friday, Oct. 24.

Win a 'Maleficent' Blu-Ray combo pack!

Do you know the story of Sleeping Beauty's dark fairy? Now you can explore the origin of Disney's most iconic villain by entering to win MALEFICENT on Blu-ray Combo Pack! Enter here for your chance to win a copy, released on November 4 – http://tinyurl.com/lclfoja
 
In an unforgiving mood after a neighboring kingdom threatens her forest, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) places an irrevocable curse on the king’s newborn daughter, the Princess Aurora. But as the child grows, Maleficent finds herself becoming fond of the girl. And as the conflict between the two realms intensifies, Maleficent realizes that Aurora may hold the key to peace in the land. Journey beyond the fairy tale in this soaring adventure that is “visually arresting, brilliantly designed” (Andrew Barker, Variety).

31 Days of Halloween 2014: Rigor Mortis

*Note: This year for our annual 31 Days of Halloween marathon of horror movie reviews, rather than write about old favorites, we're focusing on modern horror films that haven't had a wide theatrical release. So for the entire month of October, we will be dealing with horror fare that you can find in the “New Release” section of Netflix or (if you still have one) your local video store. So instead of nostalgic appreciations and recommendations, this promises to be more of a “the good, the bad, and the ugly” kind of affair. Hopefully more good than bad and ugly, but that remains to be seen.

Review by Bob Ignizio

In a manner similar to the 2008 Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle JCVD, RIGOR MORTIS finds Hong Kong actor Chin Siu-ho playing a fictionalized version of himself. Once cast in such popular fare as the MR. VAMPIRE series and Jet Li's FIST OF LEGEND and TAI-CHI MASTER, Chin has fallen on hard times as he movies in to a dilapidated high rise apartment building, and in fact plans to kill himself there. However when he attempts suicide, he finds himself assaulted by evil spirits trying to take possession of his body. Chin is saved both from the spirits and himself thanks to the timely intervention of another resident of the building, former vampire hunter Yau (Anthony Chan, another MR. VAMPIRE veteran). That's far from the end of the supernatural goings-on in the building, and not the last time Chin's life will hang in the balance, either.

Monday, October 20, 2014

31 Days of Halloween 2014: Cabin Fever: Patient Zero

*Note: This year for our annual 31 Days of Halloween marathon of horror movie reviews, rather than write about old favorites, we're focusing on modern horror films that haven't had a wide theatrical release. So for the entire month of October, we will be dealing with horror fare that you can find in the “New Release” section of Netflix or (if you still have one) your local video store. So instead of nostalgic appreciations and recommendations, this promises to be more of a “the good, the bad, and the ugly” kind of affair. Hopefully more good than bad and ugly, but that remains to be seen.

Review by Bob Ignizio

It is by no means a new development that any moderately successful horror movie will beget at least one sequel, probably more. So it should come as no surprise that CABIN FEVER, Eli Roth's 2002 directorial debut, has become a franchise. It should also come as no surprise to anyone familiar with how these things go that the follow-ups lack whatever merits the original film might have had. Even with a gifted director like Ti West at the helm, CABIN FEVER 2: SPRING FEVER was all but unwatchable (although to be fair, the producers recut West's film so extensively that he asked to have his name removed, a request that was denied). I don't know if CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO director Kaare Andrews asked to have his name removed as well, but if I were him I probably would have.

Repost: Kuroneko (October 23rd and 24th at the Nightlight Cinema in Akron, OH)

[KURONEKO screens Thursday October 23rd Friday October 24th at 11:30pm at the Nightlight Cinema in Akron, OH.]
Review by Bob Ignizio

Much of the action in KURONEKO takes place in the vicinity of Rajomon gate, perhaps better known by its alternate spelling of Rashomon from the Akira Kurosawa film of the same name, and the short story upon which that film was based. According to Wikipedia, this particular gate had a rather unsavory reputation, and in Kurosawa's film was meant to represent, “the moral and physical decay of Japanese civilization and culture”. That would appear to be the case here, as well.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

31 Days of Halloween 2014: Haunter

*Note: This year for our annual 31 Days of Halloween marathon of horror movie reviews, rather than write about old favorites, we're focusing on modern horror films that haven't had a wide theatrical release. So for the entire month of October, we will be dealing with horror fare that you can find in the “New Release” section of Netflix or (if you still have one) your local video store. So instead of nostalgic appreciations and recommendations, this promises to be more of a “the good, the bad, and the ugly” kind of affair. Hopefully more good than bad and ugly, but that remains to be seen.

Review by Bob Ignizio

HAUNTER is sort of like a cross between GROUNDHOG DAY and THE OTHERS. Ghost girl Lisa Johnson (Abigail Breslin) and the rest of her phantasmal family – dad Bruce (Peter Outerbridge), mom Carole (Michelle Nolden), and little brother Robbie – are stuck reliving the same day in 1985 over and over again. And it's a pretty tiresome day to keep reliving since they can't go anywhere due to the fog surrounding their home and a car that won't start. Still, no one is much bothered by this state of affairs since they don't realize they're stuck in a loop. Once voices from the other side start trying to contact Lisa, though, she becomes aware of her predicament. It doesn't stop the loop, but now there are subtle differences each time she relives the day. Perhaps most notably, a new person becomes a presence in the form of a telephone repairman (Stephen McHattie).

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Book of Life

Review by Bob Ignizio

Produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by Jorge Guitierrez, THE BOOK OF LIFE derives its visual style from Mexican “Day of the Dead” folk art, and it looks beautiful. On top of that, there's a pretty decent story, one that takes the tired old love triangle formula and actually does something a little bit different with it.

The three characters at the center of the plot are childhood friends Manolo (Diego Luna), Maria (Zoe Saldana), and Joaquin (Channing Tatum). It's obvious even when the trio are kids that Manolo and Joaquin both have a crush on Maria, something that does not go unnoticed by underworld rivals Xibalba (Ron Perlman), ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, and La Muerte (Kate del Castillo), ruler of the Land of the Remembered, whom make a wager on which of the boys will eventually win Maria's heart. Xibalba picks the more physical and extroverted Joaquin, while La Muerte puts her faith in sensitive musician Manolo.

Men, Women & Children

Review by Matt Finley

Adapted from a novel by Chad Kultgen, MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN tries to make some sort of statement about the role of technology in our everyday lives. I can't remember angrily swearing under my breath at a film as much as I did during the last third of Jason Reitman's maudlin, self-important slurry of unlikable characters living out broad melodramas in a grim caricature of the digital age. Though imbued with brief moments of impressive filmmaking and fantastic acting, no amount of skill from cast or crew could rescue this movie from the sheer, unapologetic emotional manipulation perpetrated by its screenplay.

Fury

Review by Bob Ignizio

Brad Pitt plays Don “Wardaddy” Collier, Sergeant in charge of the crew on board the eponymous Sherman tank in the WWII drama FURY. He's just lost his bow gunner, and the replacement he's been given is a typist with no battle experience named Norman (Logan Leman). Wardaddy isn't too happy about it, but he has no choice but to get this new member of the team battle hardened as fast as he can with the help of his crew – Boyd "Bible" Swan (Shia LeBouf), Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Pena), and Grady “Coon-ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal) – all of whom have been serving together for years.