Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness (January 29th and February 1st at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[A SPELL TO WARD OFF THE DARKNESS screens Thursday January 29th at 8:30 pm and Sunday February 1st at 8:05 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Right from its opening shots of a nightime sky reflected in the mirror like waters of a lake, there's no denying the artistry of A SPELL TO WARD OFF THE DARKNESS. Indeed “spell” seems an apt description of this film, as whatever else one can say, it is quite hypnotic and fantastical.

SPELL is broken into three segments linked by the presence of a nameless character played by Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe. We first find Lowe hanging around the periphery of a commune where other characters do commune-y things, like have deep philosophical discussions while walking around naked. At one point there's a conversation about a sauna circle jerk where everyone had their fingers up someone else's asshole. No, really, I'm not making this up. If nothing else, it's a memorable bit of discourse.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Boy Next Door

Review by Bob Ignizio

Rob Cohen's THE BOY NEXT DOOR perfectly replicates the vibe of such nineties “it's not a horror movie” thrillers as UNLAWFUL ENTRY, THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, SWIMFAN, and THE CRUSH in which sexual attraction transforms seemingly nice and normal characters into obsessive stalkers who torment the objects of their affection in increasingly violent and elaborate ways. It's the kind of film that holds its nose in the air thinking its better than schlock like SAW or FRIDAY THE 13TH because of its big name stars and slicker production values, but at the end of the day is just as cheesy and exploitative as any “B” slasher flick.


Review by Milan Paurich

In CAKE, the first thing you notice is Jennifer Aniston’s hair. It’s definitely not The Rachel, the iconic hairdo Aniston popularized while starring as Rachel Green on the beloved NBC sitcom, “Friends.” The most remarkable thing about Aniston’s CAKE ‘do is how truly ghastly it is: you’d swear Claire Simmons (Aniston’s character) hadn’t even picked up a shampoo bottle in months.

The utter lack of vanity evinced by Aniston in Daniel Barnz’s new movie only begins with her hair. Physically and emotionally, Aniston has never been more nakedly, even brutally, exposed than she is playing chronic pain sufferer Claire. Aniston’s performance is remarkable on multiple levels, yet the lack of cosmetic niceties—beginning with, but not limited to said hair—is what initially draws you in. We’re simply not used to seeing one of our most glamorous stars reduced to a ratty housecoat as her principal wardrobe choice.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Search For General Tso (January 23rd and 24th at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[THE SEARCH FOR GENERAL TSO screens Friday January 23rd at 8:25 pm and Saturday January 24th at 7:05 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

If you're a fan of what we in America call “Chinese food”, then you are at least aware of a dish called General Tso's Chicken. There's a fairly good chance you've eaten it, too, since it's one of the most popular ethnic foods in this country, just behind pizza according to one subject interviewed in the new documentary THE SEARCH FOR GENERAL TSO. But just who was General Tso and what, if anything, did he have to do with the dish that bears his name? Those are the questions writer/director Ian Cheney sets out to answer with his film.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Win a free Blu Ray combo pack of 'Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day'

Having a rough day? Improve it by entering for the chance to win a Blu-ray Combo Pack of ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY!
This family-friendly film follows the exploits of 11-year-old Alexander as he experiences the most terrible and horrible day of his young life. He soon learns he is not alone when his mom, dad, brother, and sister all find themselves living through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
Available February 10. Click on the link to enter - http://tinyurl.com/obqlctb

The Grand Seduction (now on home video and streaming on Netflix)

Review by Wayne Richards

Generally I am opposed to the idea of remaking older movies. It seems the majority of remakes end up being an inferior product in comparison to the original work. As reboot after crappy reboot gets released, the film industry’s well of original ideas dries up and invariably, past successful films continue to become fodder for modern cinematic flops. Although THE GRAND SEDUCTION is based on a critically successful French film from 2003 (SEDUCING DR. LEWIS), it avoids the pitfalls of bad remakes and succeeds in its own right with an abundance of undeniable charm and filmmaking excellence.

Le Fear 2: Le Sequel (now on video)

Review by Bob Ignizio

Jason Croot has acted in, produced, written, and directed a good number of low budget films, most of which I have never heard of (I did see and enjoy DONKEY PUNCH, which he had a role in). That experience pays off in his latest film, LE FEAR 2: LE SEQUEL. The film is a comedy/mockumentary set in the world of low budget filmmaking. Of course certain things are exaggerated for comic effect, and the film-within-a-film here has a whole other level of problems attached to it thanks to the involvement of a shady foreign investor. But more or less, this is a fair approximation of by-the-seat-of-your-pants filmmaking.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Repost: Art and Craft (opens January 22nd at the Nightlight Cinema in Akron)

[ART AND CRAFT opens in Akron on Thursday January 22nd at the Nightlight Cinema .]

Review by Pamela Zoslov

“Nothing's original under the sun,” asserts Mark Landis, the peculiar subject of ART AND CRAFT, a documentary directed by Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman and Mark Becker. Landis is a notorious art forger, whose clever copies of valuable artworks fooled curators at museums across the country for 30 years. Bald, with ears that rival Dumbo's and a languid Southern drawl that suggests that Billy Bob Thornton should play him, the 59-year-old Landis makes a most unlikely villain. The wide gulf between the outrage his deceptions provoked and Landis' mild demeanor makes the film enormously interesting and entertaining.

Appropriate Behavior (now playing in Cleveland exclusively at the Capitol Theatre)

[APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR is now playing in Cleveland exclusively at the Capitol Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Even though I tend to hate indie rom coms about self absorbed young people living in New York or L.A. and suffering the indignities of complicated love lives and unsatisfying careers, I try to keep an open mind. When my preconceptions are proven wrong, it's worth it. Case in point, APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR, a genuinely funny film written, directed by, and starring Desiree Akhavan.

Akhavan plays Shirin, a Persian-American bisexual (though mostly lesbian) who has just broken up with her girlfriend Maxine (Rebecca Henderson), largely due to the fact that she won't come out of the closet to her parents. Things on the job front aren't going so well, either, as Shirin takes a job teaching a film class which turns out to be for six year olds. To top it all off, Shirin's brother gets engaged to just the right kind of girl to win parental approval. Unsure how to get her life back on track, Shirin embarks on a series of sexual escapades with men and women, sometimes both at the same time. But what she really wants, or at least thinks she does, is to have Maxine back.

Preservation (Now playing in Cleveland exclusively at Shaker Square Cinemas)

[PRESERVATION is now playing in Cleveland exclusively at Shaker Square Cinemas.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

It's usually nice when a thriller or horror film takes some time to actually let us get to know its characters before it starts killing them off. After thirty minutes spent getting to know brothers Sean and Mike Neary, however, I was primed and ready to root for whatever menace the film had in store for them.

Sean (Pablo Schreiber) is a recently discharged soldier who shows little empathy for man or beast. Ditto for his businessman brother Mike (Aaron Staton). Inexplicably, Mike is married to vegan med student Wit (Wrenn Schmidt) who, despite her aversion to eating meat, comes with the brothers as they embark on a hunting trip at a closed nature preserve. As it turns out, Wit is pregnant, and while a weekend of male bonding probably isn't the best time to break the news to Mike, the two see each other so rarely anymore it may be her only chance. Sean also brings along his loyal dog Nix.