Friday, March 27, 2015

Get Hard

Review by Joseph Anthony

GET HARD’s premise is that of a wealthy banker – James King (Will Farrell) – sentenced to maximum-security prison for fraud. With 30 days to get his affairs in order before lock-up, he hires the man who washes his car – Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart) – to get him prepared for life on the inside.

The entire premise is built on King’s racist assumption that because Lewis is black, he has been to jail. It’s not subtle, there’s a whole scene dedicated to the statistics of African American incarceration. But Lewis has not been to jail, he doesn’t have so much as a parking ticket on his record. While this is part of a larger plot to paint King in the most unlikable light possible, it’s worth pointing out because this entire movie is based on racial biases and pre-conceived notions about class, race and sexual orientation. But even for two skilled comics, boundaries are pushed beyond taboo territory and well into tawdry. For instance, using a trip to a gay bar to prepare for being attacked in prison. There are too many “don’t drop the soap”-type jokes to recall – even if I wished to remember.


Review by Bob Ignizio

In the new animated feature HOME, the Boov are an alien race renowned for running away from danger. They positively excel at it. Which would probably be okay as far as that goes if it didn't lead them to subjugate other, less advanced planets whenever they need to flee their previous world due to the imminent arrival of The Gorg, an more powerful alien race that has it in for the Boov.

It Follows

Review by Bob Ignizio

A walking STD capable of looking like anyone stalks sexually active teens in IT FOLLOWS. It might seem reassuring at first that this humanoid herpes virus can only move at a casual walking pace, but it's not as if lack of speed ever did much to keep Michael Myers from killing horny kids, and Jason was no speed demon, either. When it comes to movie monsters equating sex with death, slow and steady usually wins the race.

Unlike HALLOWEEN and its ilk, though, IT FOLLOWS doesn't follow the old formula where the bad girls and boys all get killed and the virgin makes it to the end. Rather, it takes a more realistic and sympathetic view of teen sex. It's protagonist, Jay (Maika Monroe), isn't branded as a slut for wanting to have sex with her boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary); she's just a normal teenage girl.

Repost: Wild Tales (opens in Akron March 27th at the Nightlight CInema)

[WILD TALES opens in Akron on Friday March 27th at the Nightlight Cinema.]

Review by Milan Paurich

Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary defines wild (adj.) as “uncivilized,” “barbaric,” “indicative of strong passion, desire or emotion,” “escaped from normal restraints of control” and “characteristic of, or appropriate to, or expressive of wilderness, wildlife or a simple or uncivilized society.” Damien Szifron’s Oscar-nominated Argentinean omnibus film WILD TALES pretty much lives up to every one of those descriptions. Co-produced by Pedro Almodovar, it shares many of the strengths (an uncanny ability to orchestrate pitch-black comedy for starters) of that Spanish auteur’s best movies.

Cleveland Cinemas and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History Partner for "Backcountry"

[Press release from Cleveland Cinemas.]
Cleveland Cinemas and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History have partnered to bring entertainment and education together in a new, on-going series that will take place at various Cleveland Cinemas locations.
The first film to be announced is BACKCOUNTRY which will have a special screening on Thursday, April 2nd at 7:15 in advance of the film’s opening on Friday, April 3rd at the Capitol Theatre (1390 W. 65th St., Cleveland). The screening on April 2nd will include an introduction and post-film discussion hosted by Harvey Webster, Director of Wildlife Resources at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mystery Road (now on video)

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.

I considered going to the Cleveland International Film Festival this year, I really did, for a moment or so. But I didn't. 

In truth, going downtown is a downer for me in the best of times. Too many bad memories. And I don't like to gamble, I don't like to see sports, mug people or get mugged. So the metropolis holds little appeal for me. On an optimistic note, the Cleveland International Film Festival in 2015 managed to branch out into satellite theaters, one of them deep in the suburbs, at the the Cinemark Valley View, where I feel slightly more likely to come out alive. 

I hope that trend continues, and the thriving Cleveland International Film Festival eventually migrates out of Cleveland altogether. Most likely, based on past history, going all the way to Miami-South Beach, Florida. Where there is likely more parking and less snow. Where I'm even less likely to attend. Damn.

Oh well, home video allows you to create! Your own! Cleveland International Film Festival! At! Home! You may as well start with Australian writer-director Ivan Sen's MYSTERY ROAD.

The Other Side (March 27th at Tower City Cinemas as part of the 39th Cleveland International Film Festival)

[The Other Side, part of the “After Hours Shorts Program 3”, screens Firday March 27th at 11:00 pm at Tower City Cinemas as part of the 39th Cleveland International Film Festival.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Kate (DeDe Drake) and Abby (Lidya Korotko) are a lesbian couple arguing about their relationship while driving through the desert. Abby is upset that Kate doesn't share her level of commitment, and by the time the couple reaches their destination more or less in the middle of nowhere, she's ready to break up. Just one last bit of business to handle: the two have been paid to dispose of a body. Once it's buried, though, that's it. Only problem is, the body isn't quite as dead as it was supposed to be. Ethan (Brandon Bales) pleads for his life while the women try to figure out what to do. Burying a corpse is one thing, but they aren't killers.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

An Interview with Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom, directors of 'An Honest Liar'

[AN HONEST LIAR screens Saturday March 28th at 4:20 pm and Sunday March 29th at 11:35 am at Tower City Cinemas as part of the 39th Cleveland International Film Festival.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

While I probably saw James “The Amazing” Randi on TV as a kid performing some sort of magic or escape, I first really became aware of him in my early twenties when I took a college course at the University of Akron called “Lost Tribes and Sunken Continents” that taught critical thinking about paranormal claims (i.e. stuff likes psychics, ghosts, UFOs, etc.). In this world, Randi was one of the key figures, debunking psychics, faith healers, poltergeists, and the like with his knowledge, based on years in the illusion biz, of how the human mind can be tricked.

'Jesus Christ Superstar' and three of the movie's stars coming to the Cinematheque

[Press release from the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

The 1973 film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock opera/Passion play JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR will receive a special screening, with three of the movie’s stars in attendance, on Monday, March 30, at 7:00 pm at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, 11141 East Boulevard in University Circle. Attending will be Ted Neeley (Jesus), Barry Dennen (Pontius Pilate—not only in the movie but also on the original JCS concept album and on Broadway), and Bob Bingham (Caiaphas).

Serena (opens in Cleveland March 27th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[SERENA opens in Cleveland on Friday March 27th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Within its first ten minutes, SERENA resoundingly establishes its credentials as a bad movie. Unless you have to watch the movie to review it, or you're a masochist (sometimes feels like the same thing), you should cut your losses at this point. The film is badly cast, badly written, badly directed, badly edited, and badly scored. At least cinematographer Morten Søborg does his job well, but no matter how well you film a traffic accident, it's still a traffic accident.