Friday, October 24, 2014

John Wick


Review by Joseph Anthony

A former hit man goes into retirement to live a normal life, but comes out of it to avenge an evil act committed by the Russian mob. In the process he runs through countless hitmen to make his way to his ultimate target. This is the summary I wrote just three weeks ago after viewing THE EQUALIZER. The same exact summary works for JOHN WICK, though it’s a totally different film.

Keanu Reeves stars in the title role. We meet John just after his wife has passed. He is grieving in his swanky mansion, and while driving beautiful sport cars. One night there is a knock on the door – a woman delivering a puppy. Before his wife died, she planned to send him a companion to help him deal with his loneliness.

Ouija

Review by Bob Ignizio

The malevolent forces in OUIJA are set in motion when high school student Debbie (Shelley Hennig) tries and fails to destroy the titular wooden board, believed by some to allow communication with spirits – and perhaps even other, more dangerous entities. Apparently it worked in this case, as Debbie winds up hanging herself with a string of lights after being possessed by who – or what – ever it was that she contacted with the board. It looks like a suicide, and Debbie's friends are shocked, especially her bestie Laine (Olivia Cooke) who was the last person to see Debbie alive.

31 Days of Halloween 2014: Witching and Bitching (repost)

*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

Since his 1993 debut feature ACCION MUTANTE, filmmaker Alex de la Iglesia has had a penchant for blending over the top horror comedy with social commentary. Not unlike Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson, he sort of stepped away from that kind of thing to concentrate on more mainstream fare for much of the first decade of the 21 st century. Unlike Raimi and Jackson, however, de la Iglesia returned to his cult film roots like gangbusters with 2010's THE LAST CIRCUS. That continues to be the case with his latest, WITCHING & BITCHING, a horror/comedy about a group of hapless bank robbers finding themselves trapped by a coven of flesh eating witches, with a “battle of the sexes” theme underlying the action.

31 Days of Halloween 2014: The Last Days (repost)

*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

Even if you leave out all the one with zombies in them, there have still been about a bazillion movies made in the last 10 years or so about the end of the world. All the popular methods of destruction are well represented – global warming, global cooling, plagues, Mayan prophecies, dirty bombs, the Rapture, rougue planets crashing into our orbit. Trying to find a fresh twist on the genre that isn't completely ridiculous is no easy task. So kudos to THE LAST DAYS (original title Los Ultimos Dias) for not only coming up with a nifty new way to wipe out humanity, but putting that idea into a pretty good movie, to boot.

The Blue Room (opens in Cleveland October 24th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[THE BLUE ROOM opens in Cleveland on Friday October 24th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Although best known for his roles in films like THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY and QUANTUM OF SOLACE, Mathieu Amalric has been directing films for almost as long as he's been acting in them. His latest effort as an auteur is the baffling erotic thriller cum art film THE BLUE ROOM, in which he also stars as philandering husband Julien Gahyde. The film begins with Julien in the midst of having sex with his mistress Esther (Stéphanie Cléau). It's the kind of matter of factly erotic scene one rarely if ever sees in American movies.

Copenhagen (opens in Cleveland October 24th exclusively at the Capitol Theatre)

[COPENHAGEN opens in Cleveland on Friday October 24th exclusively at the Capitol Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

At this point, I'm not sure which I dread having to see more: another straight to video low budget zombie movie, or another indie coming of age film in which some stuck in a rut douchebag guy gets his life turned around by a manic pixie dream girl. COPENHAGEN is one of the latter, and it's so generically awful that turning it into a bargain basement zombie film might actually have helped. At least then we could savor watching the lead character being eaten alive, preferably within the first thirty minutes.

Dear White People

Review by Bob Ignizio

According to Roger Ebert's “Little Rule Book” for film critics, the late Gene Siskel, “hated [trailers] so much he would stand outside a theater until they were over. If he was already seated in the middle of a crowded theater, he would shout "fire!" plug his ears and stare at the floor.” The teaser trailer for DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, which went viral on Youtube, is a good example of why any serious movie lover should avoid trailers. Not only does it ruin the best jokes in the movie, more to the point it mischaracterizes the film in its entirety as a comedy, creating expectations that can't help but go unmet. Which is a shame, because DEAR WHITE PEOPLE is, despite some shortcomings, a good indie drama that deals with race in a complex and compelling manner.

St. Vincent


Review by Joseph Anthony

It wasn’t easy for first time director Theodore Melfi to find the star of this film – Bill Murray. Near impossible, really. In an interview with USA Today, Melfi described how difficult it was to reach Murray, who has no agent or manager. “You call a 1-800 number,” says Melfi.

Weeks of unanswered messages later, the hopeful director called Murray’s lawyer. “What number do you got?” the lawyer asked. “The 800 number.” “Well that’s what I got,” said the lawyer. He recommended snail mail. Melfi obliged. After months, Murray set a date to talk about the ST. VINCENT script with Melfi.

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.