Friday, October 31, 2014

Nightcrawler

Review by Bob Ignizio

When we first meet Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), the protagonist of NIGHTCRAWLER, he elicits our sympathy. He's a young, smart, resourceful guy who, despite a being down on his luck, genuinely wants to work. To make ends meet at the moment, he's collecting scrap metal, and not always by legal means. So even when he punches out a security guard who catches him stealing some chain link fence, we're still kind of on his side.

Eventually Louis discovers the twilight world of freelance late-night crime photography. After asking veteran cameraman Joe Loder (Bill Paxton) for a job and being brusquely turned down, Louis finds his entrepreneurial spirit, gets a cheap video camera and a police scanner, and goes into business for himself. Learning the ropes without anyone to teach him is rough, but eventually Louis starts to get footage that interests Channel 6 news director Nina Romina (Rene Russo). He also gets an “intern” willing to navigate while he drives, another down on his luck guy named Rick (Riz Ahmed).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Scream (October 31st at the CWRU Film Society, Strosacker Auditorium)

[SCREAM screens Friday October 31st at 7:00 pm, 9:30 pm, and midnight at the CWRU Film Society, Strosacker Auditorium.]

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.


Directed by onetime NE Ohioan Wes Craven (who, unlike LeBron, never came back) and written by hot scriptwriter Kevin Williamson, who captivated TV viewers with the juvenile ensemble cast of the drama Dawson's Creek, SCREAM was a monster hit when it premiered on an unlikely date, Christmas time 1996. Really folks, I cannot begin to guess how many movie executives got to divorce their aging wives and marry their daughter’s skanky BFFs based on the largesse accrued by this one movie. It inspired three sequels, a carbon-copy parody film series, and even a tradition (blessedly rather short-lived) by Disney-spinoff distributor Dimension Pictures to unwrap fresh horror entries each successive jolly holiday season (THE FACULTY, DRACULA 2000, etc.).

Your chance to win a Blu-ray combo pack of Disney's 'Planes: Fire & Rescue'

Dusty Crophopper is flying high as a firefighter! The Cleveland Movie Blog is offering you the chance to win a Blu-ray Combo Pack of PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE. Enter here and join your favorite airplanes in their newest adventure on November 4 - http://tinyurl.com/nexhppz

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Birdman

[BIRDMAN opens in Cleveland on Friday October 31st exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Pamela Zoslov  

The spirit of Robert Altman hovers over  BIRDMAN (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), the much talked-about new film by the Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárratu. A dark showbiz satire, the film echoes Altman's The Player, and its central event, a play based on Raymond Carver short stories, evokes Altman's Short Cuts. Although González Iñárratu doesn't have Altman's flair for ensemble drama, it's an ambitious film with rhythmic style and technical flair.

31 Days of Halloween 2014: Almost Human (repost)

Review by Bob Ignizio

Although the basic plot of ALMOST HUMAN borrows major elements from INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, THE HIDDEN, SLITHER, and other films in which alien invaders take over or make over human beings, what the film really reminds me of are the low budget sci-fi/horror films of the late Don Dohler (NIGHTBEAST, THE ALIEN FACTOR, etc.). Dohler was a Maryland based filmmaker who, despite limited resources, always made an effort to produce genre films that were as good as he was capable of making. That's definitely the spirit in which writer/producer/director Joe Begos seems to be working in ALMOST HUMAN, and for that alone I have to give him some respect.

The film begins in 1987 when Mark (Josh Ethier) was abducted by aliens. Mark's girlfriend Jen (Vanessa Leigh) and his friend Seth (Graham Skipper) were both present while this took place, but Seth was the only one who actually saw what happened. Jen doesn't buy the alien story, and even goes so far as to tell the police she things Seth is responsible. Seth is eventually cleared, but his life never really gets back to normal.

Bjork: Biophilia Live (November 1st and 2nd at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[BJORK: BIOPHILIA LIVE screens Saturday November 1st 9:00 pm and Sunday November 2nd at 6:30 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Not every concert film can be THE LAST WALTZ or GIMME SHELTER. But then, do they really have to be? BJORK: BIOPHILIA LIVE isn't a cinematic masterpiece, but it does give fans of the Icelandic vocalist a fine document of her most recent tour performing her 'Biophilia' album in its entirety, as well as a few old favorites like “Possibly, Maybe” and “Where is the Line?”. Sporting a vinyl or plastic dress that resembles a tumorous body with its skin peel back to the first layer of muscle, Bjork turns gives an impassioned performance backed by a first rate band and full choir of female backing vocalists.

Besides the concert itself, there's a nifty little intro narrated by David Attenborough that casts the event as a sort of nature film. Further spicing up the film are the occasional trippy visuals of brightly colored fractals, sea creatures, and other imagery likely to be of interest to those watching the film with chemical enhancement. None of which is likely to win Bjork many new fans, but those she already has should be more than pleased. 2 ½ out of 4 stars.

Street of Shame (November 1st at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[STREET OF SHAME screens Saturday November 1st at 5:00 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.

Pic's entitled STREET OF SHAME, huh? Is it about Euclid Avenue, Superior Avenue or St. Clair? Maybe W.6th Street or one of those other regrettable Warehouse District thoroughfares. Merwin Avenue, Columbus and some of the other streets in the Flats certainly have shame. But it probably would take up more than one movie.

No, this is not a Cleveland production but actually a 1956 Japanese drama about modern geishas. I didn't see MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, though I read the Arthur Golden source novel (and think I recognized a few people I used to know in it). But I've never found Japanese geisha girls the incredibly enticing sexual beings that western culture (and Gwen Stefani and other pretentious pop-music sirens) have made them out to be. Sorry, those weird costumes, stiff-looking hairstyles and white face paint? Guess it's a Japanese thing; we Earth people wouldn't understand (well, maybe tattoo artists Ed Hardy and Sailor Jerry, but that's it). 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Halloween Ghoulardifest, Oct 31 to Nov. 2 in Parma


Event preview by Charles Cassady, Jr.

Other than LeBron James, the only thing significant about Cleveland, as we know, is GhoulardiFest, happening as an apres-Halloween treat this weekend in the only place it could happen - Parma.

It's virtually impossible to imagine North Coast culture without channel 8's Ernie "Ghoulardi" Anderson, who, as host of WJW-TV's "Shock Theatre," put on a garishly phony goatee and Fu Manchu mustache and spiced up B-grade horror and sci-fi flicks for insomniac viewers in beatnik-comic fashion for a few brilliant years there in the mid-1960s. The silver-tongued announcer, unrecognizable in his fright-wig disguise, would do blackout comedy bits (some including a young sidekick named Tim Conway), sound effects, songs and the catchphrases. "Turn blue!" "Stay sick!" "Ovaday!" "Dorrrothy..." And offscreen his family grew to include filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson (MAGNOLIA and othes).

Get free passes to see 'Before I Go To Sleep' this Wedneaday October 29th

You’re invited to a free screening of BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP (starring Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, & Mark Strong)! See this film before anyone else at our screening this Wednesday, October 29th at Regal Richmond at 7:30 PM! To download passes, just visit this link: http://l.gofobo.us/XJ8yc1xO

31 Days of Halloween 2014: Stitches

*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

Not since the 1991 cult classic SHAKES THE CLOWN has there been a finer depiction of the seedy side of clowndom than the first few minutes of STITCHES. The title refers to Richard “Stitches” Grindle (popular British stand-up comedian Ross Noble), a disheveled looking party clown who we first meet having sex with a woman while in full clown regalia. He has to leave the act unfinished when he realizes he's running late for Tom's 10th birthday party, so with precious little time for niceties like personal hygiene he rushes off to his gig.