Archive for May, 2008

dvd review: KILLING ZELDA SPARKS

May 27, 2008

You have to give credit to Jeff Glickman, his feature film directorial debut is an ambitious movie that never takes an easy approach. This makes Glickman’s Killing Zelda Sparks an interesting film if for no other reason than it has a strong visual sense and a certain audacity that can’t be denied. At the same time, the film is far from perfect, and the innovative and creative choices that set Killing Zelda Sparks apart from other films also serve as stumbling blocks that trip the movie up from time to time. (more…)

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Introducing…Indie Film Journal

May 27, 2008

In case any of you are interested, I have launched a new website, Indie Film Journal. A lot of the stuff that I have posted on the IFJ site can be found here as well, the difference being that IFJ is dedicated solely to film criticism. When you get a moment, please check out Indie Film Journal.

dvd review: CLEANER

May 26, 2008



There can be a certain stigma attached to films that by and large skip any sort of significant theatrical release, and instead go directly to video. This stigma is compounded when the film has a cast of well-known actors, and is directed by someone with a proven track record. When you stumble across these films at the video store, and look at the box, and see everyone involved in the production, it’s not all that unfair to ask, “What’s wrong with this movie that I’ve never heard of it?” And that’s pretty much the case with Cleaner, one of those movies that seems like something you should have heard of, but haven’t, making the whole thing all the more suspect. (more…)

film review: INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL

May 20, 2008

When you really stop and think about it, it’s not like the world needed another Indiana Jones film. Sure, the original films were good—at least the first and third were—but there was never this burning sense that there were more stories to be told. It wasn’t even like Star Wars, which had a whole mythology laid out that audiences had eagerly anticipated for decades. No, there was never anything that made more adventures of Indiana Jones a burning cinematic imperative, which is a major part of the reason why the arrival of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, nineteen years after Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, seems so odd. (more…)

dvd review: TRE

May 9, 2008

Charlotte Sometimes, the feature film debut of director Eric Byler, was one of the most impressive movies of 2002. A beautifully realized character study that was as deftly acted as it was written and directed, Charlotte Sometimes hinted at the possible arrival of an incredibly talented filmmaker on the independent landscape. With eager anticipation I have awaited Byler’s follow-up, hoping that the raw humanity and attention to character-driven narrative that drove his first film was not a one-time fluke. And with the arrival of Tre, one of two movies he made in 2006, Byler has delivered a worthy companion to his debut dysfunctional human drama. (more…)

film review: REDBELT

May 8, 2008

The ever-increasingly popular sport of mixed martial arts was tailor-made for film. In fact, well before the emergence of the UFC in the 1990s, B-movies about street fighters, kick boxers and bare-knuckle brawlers slugging it out in back alleys, dank basements and chain link cages were common place. And now that the UFC and mix martial arts competition have gained legitimacy—at least as much legitimacy as modern-day gladiatorial games can have—the sport has steadily found its way into mainstream films, most notable being the recent craptacular Karate Kid rip-off, Never Back Down. But up until now, there has yet to be a film that seriously incorporates MMA the way boxing has been incorporated. Writer-director David Mamet’s Redbelt changes that. (more…)

dvd review: ACES 'N EIGHTS

May 8, 2008

As a diehard fan of horror movies, I have mastered the fine art of getting by on what is given to me. By this I mean that like so many other horror fans, I am willing to cut some slack to certain films, just because they are horror flicks. Sometimes I just want to see something that is a bit scary, has some cool gore effects, and is not totally devoid of all forms of intelligence; and if a movie delivers enough of theses things, even if it’s not all that good, I’ll go easy on it. The same rules, however, do not apply to westerns. As a genre, I love westerns, with The Wild Bunch being my personal favorite, and classics like The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance, The Searchers, Once Upon a Time in the West and The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez also ranking up there in my top picks. I also love most Clint Eastwood westerns, and I’m a big fan of spaghetti westerns, even though most of ‘em suck. I guess my point is that when it comes to westerns, I’d like to think my standards are high, and I’m not willing go easy on a movie simply because it has guys on horseback shooting each other. If that were the case, I’d be singing the praises of Aces ‘N Eights, a maudlin made-for-television oater that only seems good for making you want to sit down and watch Ride the High Country. (more…)

dvd review: KILTRO

May 7, 2008

It would seem that in the nation of Chile audiences are so hungry for some home-grown action movies that they will devour anything—and appreciatively so. Seriously, just look at the comments left on IMDB for the Chilean kung fu epic, Kiltro, and you’ll be reading feedback from people who are clearly impressed by pictures that move. And that’s not to bad mouth Chile as a nation, or Chileans as a people; but Kiltro sucked and anyone who likes this movie is easily impressed to the point that someone needs to be worried about them. (more…)

dvd review: DEATH TOLL

May 5, 2008

There is only one word that comes to mind while watching the new jaxploitation urban thriller Death Toll, and that word is “wow.” Wow—the writing and direction in this film are terrible. Wow—the action in this film is atrocious. Wow—there is nothing good about this film. Wow—this garbage keeps getting worse and worse. Wow—I’ve been watching this crap for twenty-minutes, but it seems more than an hour. Wow—this is a total piece of crap. (more…)

dvd review: BONE DRY

May 5, 2008

Things are not quite what they appear to be in director Brett A. Hart’s psychological thriller Bone Dry, a film heavily influenced by The Most Dangerous Game, Steven Spielberg’s Duel and Breakdown to name a few. There is also an element of the old television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents to be found in Bone Dry, a film that diligently tries to be more than the sum total of its influences. And while close scrutiny reveals that the film is, by and large, not much more than the sum total of its influences, it is entertaining and stylish enough that it is easy to initially overlook such shortcomings. (more…)