Friday, May 26, 2017

The Wedding Plan (Now playing at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[THE WEDDING PLAN is now playing in Cleveland exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Zoe Brown

THE WEDDING PLAN offers a look inside the world of Orthodox Jewish dating, in which the matchmaking system functions to bring singles together for marriage. It also provides a peek into the heart and mind of Michal, a thirty-something Jewish woman living in Jerusalem who desperately wants to be loved and married.

Matchmaking for Michal (Noa Kooler) proved to be a little tricky; she’d been dating for 10 years without much luck. When she finally gets engaged, her fiancĂ©, Gidi, calls it off a month before the ceremony, admitting that he really doesn’t love her. She’s distraught about it. And of course, her sister circle is there to pick up the pieces and provide her with all the love and support she needs.

Black Butterfly (now playing at Atlas Cinemas Diamond Center 16 in Mentor)

[BLACK BUTTERFLY is now playing near Cleveland exclusively at Atlas Cinemas  Diamond Center 16 in Mentor, OH.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Ah, the old "author struggling with writer's block" setup. And of course, he's holed up at a cabin in the woods as he tries to get the creative juices flowing again.

In this case, the writer in question is Paul (Antonio Banderas). He's working on a screenplay, and despite being asked to make changes by the studio, he's reluctant (or unable) to do so. This is a problem, because he needs the cash. The only other promising source of financial relief is if he can sell his house, but so far his realtor Laura (Piper Perabo) isn't having much luck.

Enter another cinematic cliche – the dangerous yet alluring drifter – in the form of Jack (Jonathan Rhys Meyers).Jack helps Paul avoid a fight at the local diner, and soon has wormed his way into Paul's life, staying at his cabin and offering suggestions on the screenplay.

The Lovers

Review by Pamela Zoslov

, a romantic comedy featuring the return to the screen of the elusive Debra Winger, reminds me of the adultery-themed farces that were, for some reason, so prevalent in the 1960s, like A GUIDE FOR THE MARRIED MAN (1967), which had practiced philanderer Robert Morse instructing Walter Matthau on the best techniques for cheating on his wife.

In The Lovers, a middle-aged couple, Michael and Mary (Tracy Letts and Ms. Winger), both have lovers on the side. Michael, who works a cubicle job for a land surveying company, is involved with Lucy (Melora Walters), a dancer who is pressuring him to leave his wife. Mary's lover is the much younger Robert (Aiden Gillen), a poet, who is also demanding that Mary end the marriage. Michael and Mary, who have a college-age son, have become just roommates, exchanging a few perfunctory words ("We're out of toothpaste") in passing, on the way to or from their respective liaisons. Neither suspects the other is having an affair, but you get the impression neither would be terribly upset about it.

Thursday, May 25, 2017


Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron star in Baywatch.
By George M. Thomas

If there were ever a television show ripe for lampooning on the big screen, that 90s jigglefest BAYWATCH would be it.

Personally, I never watched the show.  I had better things to do like organize my sock drawer. But there are plenty of folks who did watch during the series’ run in syndication from 1989 to 2001. 

Yes, that’s 12 years of unbelievable, inane plots and enough skin for the time to start a soft porn site. But hey, somehow David Hasselhoff and his crew of beautiful people found an audience.

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 DesprĂ©s) 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.