Category Archives: American Cinema
The only thing I know for sure after watching the pilot to “Mystic” is that some woman died on a boat (Bridget Ashling, if that cool picture above is any indication). I have a sneaking suspicion that the entire town of Mystic has solemnly sworn that they are up to no good though and am guessing that the series will end with the town of Mystic mysteriously disappearing due to a catastrophic disaster. Or because Satan.
Really things could go any which way, it’s hard to tell because the pilot doesn’t give us very much to go on. Instead, the pilot focuses on introducing us to a shit ton of people, none of which I could keep up with – okay, I could keep up with the daughter of the woman who died on the boat and her holy-fucking-incestual aunt but that was it. There’s an Irish priest who says the word “aunt” two different ways in the same sentence. An artist who gets upset with his nude model then paints a picture of a burning boat. A cop who gets a blowjob from…some chick that may or may not have any importance? A grumpy police captain type. A (possible) brother and sister, one of whom runs a bar, who seem to have done something not good. And a mayor who seems to be corrupt. I don’t know what any of them have to do with the other or the woman who died on the boat. I only know that one or two seemed vaguely upset that the woman died.
The dead woman’s daughter’s aunt is weirdly happy that her niece sees her nude and the somewhat Irish priest is randomly creepy near the end but I honestly am not sure what is going to happen with this series. I would have preferred fewer people in the pilot and more actual story to get an idea of whether I wanted to keep watching because I honestly don’t know what the deal is with boat lady or why she’s important (or if she even is). “Mystic” is supposed to be a murder mystery, so I assume the series will focus on figuring out why boat lady died and who killed her (and considering most of the people in the pilot were pretty creepy and/or douchey, they’ll have a lot of mystery-ing to get through!). I’m just not sure that I really care to find out the who, what, when, and why’s of it all.
If the rest of the series focuses more on plot and less on introducing characters at breakneck speed (because it’s okay to space out character introductions when a cast is this big), then maybe I could be intrigued. With some back story, I could be intrigued. But for the moment, I’m happy with my theory that wicked auntie is really a demon in disguise who’s working with the creepy, somewhat Irish priest to take down the town.
mid·dle·man: /ˈmidlˌman/ – a person who arranges business or political deals between other people.
Also known as the go-between, or the manipulator, or the “wait, what did I just really agree to, asshole??” guy. And in Lenny Freeman’s case, it refers to a hitchhiker named Hitch (yes, I know), who may or may not have roped him into a deal with the devil himself. Oops.
Lenny Freeman’s dream of being a famous comedian is about to become a nightmare. Not only is he stuck in a dead end accounting job, Lenny has a bigger problem — Lenny is not funny. When his mother suddenly dies, he quits his job and heads to Vegas in search of fame. But along the way, a mysterious hitchhiker lures him into a desert-town killing spree with a dark and twisted result – as the bodies pile up, Lenny actually becomes funnier and funnier.
Another Portland Film Fest selection, MIDDLE MAN definitely shows us that the devil is in the details (sometimes literally) and you should, perhaps, be careful what you wish for. Personally, I don’t know what the big deal is to Lenny – couple of dead people vs. guaranteed stardom…?? (Kidding, kidding! #totes) And to think it all starts with one jerkface heckler (don’t be jerkfaces, people. It leads nowhere good!). And everyone, just don’t pick up hitchhikers, especially ones named Hitch, because C’MON! And if a person you just met starts trying to convince you that they can absolutely be your manager and help make you famous, etc. etc., just NO. And for fucks’ sake, if you wake up after a night of drinking with a new friend and there’s a dead person in front of you that you don’t remember killing but your new friends says, yep, you must’ve – RUN. AWAY.
I guess it’s not entirely Lenny’s fault. He was stuck living somewhere in the 50s and didn’t seem entirely aware of the dangers of now. (And by that I mean, kind of how my parents like to pretend that we all live in an episode of THE ANDY GRIFFITH show). No, Lenny seemed to be a very kind, but VERY oblivious to anything not related to him, sorta guy. Hence why his stand-up act wasn’t very good. He grew up listening to comedians from the Ed Asner/Milton Berle era(s) and never moved past their comedy into his own style (a style which should’ve apparently included a lot of misogynistic sex “jokes” according to his competition at the club). BUT when people started dying, Lenny kept getting funnier and funnier.(Maybe he got their funny as it left their bodies?)
I liked the style of this film – where it was set in contemporary times but with Lenny’s car, attitude and certain styles of clothing, etc. seemed to be a throw-back to the 50s. The nostalgia was definitely strong with this one! And the desert landscapes were absolutely GORGEOUS. (Desert = scary because desert has sunshine, but desert is also so so pretty.)
Jim O’Heir could NOT have been anymore perfect as “Lenny”. Oblivious, slightly charming, freaked the fuck out, happy, panicked, slightly crazy…his portrayal of Lenny’s rise to “stardom” and subsequent downfall before the fact was A+. Andrew J. West as “Hitch” was an endearing ball of sunshine…no, wait. I meant to say, one crazy motherfucker. We, the audience, know something’s off with him early on, but he manages to keep his homicidal tendencies on the down low from Lenny for at least…I dunno, like 15 hours? West plays “Hitch” as constantly on edge, walking a fine line between “will I fuck you up?” and “oops, that was totes an accident! Kinda…”, a line that another actor well might have stepped over early on in the film. West kept it all tightly reined in till needed though and was magnificent. He was definitely my favorite thing about MIDDLE MAN.
Unfortunately, overall, despite it’s dark comedic overtones and West’s fabulous performance, I wasn’t a huge fan of MIDDLE MAN. While I understood the point of all the death, I also got bored watching essentially the exact same thing happen 3 or 4 times. The ending – the very last scene – was so fucking kickass that I’m still thinking about it, but otherwise, I found the film kind of “meh”. It was in no way bad and was actually quite well done, so I think it was just the length and repetition that soured me on it. Still, I definitely think it’s worth watching, especially if dark comedy is your thing, so check out the trailer and then tell me your thoughts!
What madcap, steampunk, nonsensical adventure was this?? NEIL STRYKER & THE TYRANT OF TIME is like DOCTOR WHO on crack (and we all know that DOCTOR WHO is already on something, so hot damn!) and the result is absolutely GLORIOUS. Like, hi, move over Indiana Jones, a new action hero has stolen my heart – and he’s ridiculously emotionless, gravelly voiced and entirely capable of handling himself around robots (because YES, THERE ARE ROBOTS IN THIS MOVIE!!!). (And yes, I WILL apparently be using my caps lock key a lot.)
So Neil Stryker is a dude, on suspension from his job as…okay, I never really understood exactly what he did but kind of like the military + secret government operation + spies thing? Unfortunately for the world, Neil’s ex-mentor, the MAD scientist – complete with white lab coat, crazy sticky-uppy hair and crazy goggle glasses – has finally set in motion his dastardly plan to go back in time through the time portal he created to…steal a bunch of toys on Christmas Eve and have THE SEX (as E. would say) with Mrs. Claus! NOOOOO!!! Along the way, the mad scientist also kidnaps Neil’s son, so there’s that. Also the mad scientist is MAAADDDDD, which just leads to all sorts of shenanigans and tom-foolery. Oh, and he has a sidekick (of course) named Darrel who’s robotically challenged, musically inclined, and sneaky planning his own…uh, sneaky plan. 😉 Darrel is actually my favorite character of the whole piece (sorry, Neil! I love you but I love Darrel more because he sings!), which makes sense, because his vibe is the epitome of “bad boy”, which media and society has conditioned women to view as totally normal and moreso, absolutely romantic (“omg, he got so mad he punched a wall? That’s soooo romantic – look how passionate he is about you! *sighs*” *rolls eyes so hard they fall out of head*). Anyway, despite his bad boy vibe, Darrel is more cartoon villain than romantic villain (think Dr. Horrible), so whatever, I dig him.
In fact, the whole movie is a cartoon come to life, with over-the-top…well, EVERYTHING. It’s a complete and total farce, and it’s AMAZING. Guys, there’s cars that fly! Robots! Goblins!! (I honestly have no idea WHY there were goblins, got totally lost there, but dudes – goblins!!- and they were adorable and evil and so cute, and then there was the Russian guy and the vodka…like The Fireys in LABYRINTH! Kinda…). There’s time travel! Souvenirs! Explosions! HEADS exploding! This movie has it ALL. It’s an 80s throwback that hits its mark perfectly.
In fact, those super kickawesome, evil, adorable goblins? Looked like they were right out of the Henson labs. They were brilliant. This film was shot entirely in Oregon and parts of Washington over the course of 9 years, and every single set, effect, every puppet was created by a Portland artist. Now THAT is what I like to see in homegrown cinema. Especially when the result is something as laugh out loud funny and enjoyable as this.
The sets were kick ass. The small amount of CGI was almost perfect (the explosions were a little off and fake looking, but they also might have been that way on purpose to fit the 80s theme, I’m not sure). The costumes were fabulous. The actors – ugh, I don’t think there was anyone in this films that I DIDN’T like and that rarely happens. Nic Costa (Darrel) captures the “sidekick craving more” trope perfectly. Rob Taylor as Neil Stryker is hilariously apathetic as the hero (anti-hero?) of the piece. And Rob Taylor as the Mad Scientist is ridiculously funny at being woefully inept. Oh yes, you did read that correctly – Neil and MS were played by the same guy – and I had NO freaking clue till the end of the movie when the credits came around! Not one inkling. Holy fuck, I loved this movie.
Currently playing at the Portland Film Fest, NEIL STRYKER & THE TYRANT OF TIME is a side-splittingly funny piece of comedy that had me alternately shaking my head at the melodrama, then giggling uncontrollably. With a bit of everything, it’s a madcap adventure of the very best kind – and there damn well better be a sequel in the making. I’m willing to follow Neil Stryker through the universe and time, so c’mon guys, let’s get to more adventuring!
Oh yeah, and watch the trailer below to get a taste of the wacky wildness that is Neil Stryker!
We’ve already seen some clunkers at the theaters in 2016. From “London Has Fallen” to “Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice,” it’s basically been an onslaught of soulless action sequels designed to fill the gap between the winter awards season and the spring and summer blockbusters. But beginning in April we’ll really start to get into the coming year in film – and there are sure to be more disasters on the way.
Keeping that in mind, here are my predictions for the five worst movies still to come in 2016.
Alice Through The Looking Glass
It’s amazing how infrequently Through The Looking Glass is mentioned, given the fame of Alice In Wonderland. Lewis Carroll’s sequel was as quirky and wondrous as the original, and probably deserves a similarly high place in the literary canon. That said, it probably doesn’t really need a film sequel, does it?
2010’s “Alice In Wonderland” wasn’t actually bad, but it’s been another six years, and I’m just not sure the public is ready for more Tim Burton/Johnny Depp eccentricity (though Burton is only producing this time around). The trailer looks like a combination of “The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus” and a bunch of Disney ideas that were locked away in a vault (not a good combo), and the cast is a who’s who of actors who are strange for the sake of being strange: Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Michael Sheen, Andrew Scott, Rhys Ifans, Stephen Fry…. They’re all very capable, but thrown together in a project like this they just sound annoying.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows
Where was I when we decided we needed a sequel to the blasphemous garbage that was Jonathan Liebesman’s 2014 “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles CGI Festival” (not the official title). The movie got 21% on Rotten Tomatoes and prompted one reviewer to make the claim that it made Transformers movies look subtle. But hey, it made almost $500 million, so full speed ahead.
I don’t feel I have to get into this one too much, so here goes. Spoiler alert: it’s going to be horrible.
Now You See Me 2
“Now You See Me” wasn’t an awful movie… it just wasn’t very clever. Billed as a sort of “Ocean’s 11”-but-with-magic, it was expected to be a mind-blowing heist thriller complete with intelligent twists and intricate plot puzzles. Instead, it was kind of just a heist movie that used only partially explained magic tricks as explanations for thievery. There was something there, but whether via poor direction, uninventive writing, or perhaps even shoddy editing, it didn’t quite come to the surface.
Maybe round two will be better. The cast, at least, has been loaded up for a major summer blockbuster. Returners Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, and Mark Ruffalo are all bigger deals now than they were when the first film came out; established pros Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Woody Harrelson are all back; and this time around we’ll also be treated to appearances by Daniel Radcliffe and Lizzy Caplan. The ingredients are there. But frankly, the first movie didn’t inspire much confidence, and given that sequels are usually dumber and less inventive (see: “Ocean’s 12”), it feels more likely that this movie doubles down on the shortcomings of its predecessor.
Independence Day: Resurgence
It might be about time for an alien invasion movie. This particular sort of fiction is always popular, but it’s actually been a while since a big budget movie tackled invasion. Aliens in general have remained popular subjects for entertainment of late. There was actually a little-known 2015 movie about our history of alien fascination, called “Area 51,” and Gala’s bingo platform even played into the same history with the introduction of an “Area 75” video game. It’s one of several themed bingo games to embrace fiction or pop culture, and brings up topics and imagery related to Area 51 and UFO sightings.
But a big budget, Hollywood thrill ride about a large-scale alien invasion? It really has been a while. But does our next foray into this popular topic really have to be a shameless cash grab? This is a 20-years-later sequel that’s lacking its biggest star, and while the trailer looks intriguing, I have my doubts. Continuing Independence Day without Will Smith is like if “The Force Awakens” had been made without any of the old timers on board. Sure, it would have made limitless money anyway, but would it have been nearly as interesting? This has flop written all over it.
Oh, Hollywood…. We just can’t drop the sword-and-sandals epics, can we? There really hasn’t been a good one in years, let alone anything close to the impact we saw in films like “Gladiator,” “Troy,” and “300” earlier this century. However, at least the majority of failed sword-and-sandals movies simply fade away into obscurity, or drift to Netflix to be buried beneath better movies. This one might be different.
The 1959 “Ben-Hur” starring Charlton Heston has a certain iconic place in Hollywood history, and messing with it now just seems kind of careless. Not to mention it’s being remade with a relative unknown in Heston’s shoes (Jack Huston, who most recently starred in “Pride And Prejudice And Zombies”), and written by a guy who has a single film credit since penning 1994’s “In Search Of Dr. Seuss.” This really feels like a half-assed effort trying to capitalize on a famous name.
Predicting the worst films of any summer is always a difficult exercise, because there are always a few clunkers nobody sees coming. Furthermore, it’s always possible that something that looks truly awful winds up exceeding expectations! But specifically where sequels and remakes are concerned – and really, those categories make up most of the summer blockbuster season these days – these five look like pretty safe bets to elicit groans from critics.
James Morey is a freelance writer and blog contributor.
TW: Talk of Suicide
I love this film. I love everything about it. It’s an absolutely brilliant story about suicide (although as stated above definite trigger warnings if you’re currently depressed or feeling suicidal). Not everyone’s been there but a lot of us have – that point where you just want to give up on everything. It’s a scary point. But then, if you’re lucky, you’re able to pull yourself out of that deep, dark hole with the help of friends, family, therapy, meds, and mostly yourself. What happens when you can’t leave that place? What’s it like to have an addiction to suicide & death?
“Suicidal ideation: unusual preoccupation with suicide.” In Here Lies Joe, we meet two individuals at a Suicide Anonymous group – a group for individuals dealing with suicidal ideation. Joe is the new guy while Z is the manic-pixie dream girl of the group. Z writes her suicide notes in iambic pentameter instead of trying to NOT want to die; Joe just seems out of place and unsure of why he’s there or anywhere. The two seem to sense kindred souls in one another and Z manages to finagle a ride from the meeting with Joe. Instead of taking him to her home, she takes him to the cemetery instead, where they spend the afternoon. And later that night they spend hours on the phone together, bonding, each lost in their own way. What will morning bring?
As someone who has a mental illness of which suicidal ideation is a key symptom, this film really touched a chord. It was incredibly honest and open. The characters were real and tangible, relatable. Z says she wants to kill herself because she’s “an ugly thing in a beautiful world”, a statement which is so honest and heartrendingly easy to understand. This film is utterly beautiful. And while it is a film with dark elements and themes, they explore them with humor and pathos to arrive at the film’s ultimate message: hope.
While Dean Temple as “Joe” gives a wonderful and sturdy performance, it’s Andi Morrow as “Z” who steals the show (and your breath) away. Her performance is raw and something magical to behold.
I can’t recommend Here Lies Joe highly enough. Visit the film’s website to find out where you can catch it. And remember that there’s ALWAYS hope.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all! Hope it was super fabulous and delicious! As always, THANKSKILLING is an absolute *MUST* to follow up all that food, family, fun & dysfunction so ENJOY!
*This one’s a little long but bear with me guy’s ’cause this festival is totally worth it!*
Okay, if any of y’all are near the Portland area September 1-7, I am going to have to HIGHLY recommend that you hit up the Portland Film Fest. How can this little ole Southern Belle recommend something so far off? Cause I’ve seen the line up and guys, it looks AWESOME. In fact, I’ll be covering festival films right here in the coming days!
It’s not JUST the films though – there’s so much more. There are special tributes to visionaries in certain fields:
1) Will Vinton – Will is receiving a lifetime achievement aware for his innovative contributions to the history of animation. He’s a world renowned Claymation® pioneer and Academy Award winner – you might recognize the name from his legendary stop-motion classic, THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN (which will be having it’s 30th anniversary screening at the festival along with his Academy Award winning short, CLOSED MONDAYS). I have to admit I’m not totally familiar with the guy but we all know I love my stop-motion animation (mostly in the form of Jan Svankmajer but whatevs) so this sounds pretty cool to me.
2) Wendy Froud – An American doll-artist, creature sculptor, and puppet-maker, Wendy Froud is a profound contributor to the history of pop culture and cinema. She is best known for being a member of the fabrication team of the iconic character Yoda for the 1980 film “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” and also fabricated timeless creatures for the Jim Henson films “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth”. In appreciation of her work, LucasFilms will generously share unique behind the scenes archival images from her Star Wars work, and Wendy will be honored with a lifetime achievement award. GUYS, she helped build Yoda!!! And she worked on LABYRINTH!!! I die. Seriously. I want to go to here SO much.
*sighs* So yeah, not just amazeballs films but ya know, STAR WARS awesomeness too. BUT it is a film fest and the films ARE important and SO many of them look SO good, it was hard to pick out which ones I wanted to see. Here’s some samples from the lineup that I’m excited about!
1) Aimy in a Cage/ U.S. A creative teenage girl is placed into a mind-altering procedure to civilize her, while news of a virus epidemic spreads throughout the world. (Um, YES. Apparently they made a movie about my hometown… 😉 )
2) Touched with Fire/ U.S. Two manic depressives meet in a psychiatric hospital and begin a romance that brings out all of the beauty and horror of their condition. (Cannot WAIT to see this. Also Katie Holmes, y’all. Katie Holmes. I don’t care what anyone says, girl is talented, and I for one would really love to see her come back from that whole Cruise debacle.)
3) Audition/ U.S. A romance is portrayed by one hundred actors who compete for two lead roles and a chance to perform the final terrifying scene. (As if I WOULDN’T watch this one…)
4) Kings of Kallstadt/ Germany, U.S. A humorous documentary about German small village life and its famous American relatives: Donald Trump and Heinz Ketchup. (Okay, not entirely sure about this one but c’mon…you’ve gotta be a little curious… 😉 )
5) Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around The World/ U.S. The Make-A-Wish Foundation and the city of San Francisco join forces to grant a five-year-old boy’s wish to become Batman for a day, drawing worldwide attention. (Remember Batkid??)
6) Dude Bro Party Massacre III/ U.S. A hysterical and bloody twist on 80’s slasher flicks, in which a dorky loner must infiltrate a party-centric fraternity to solve the murder of his twin brother. (Um, do you SEE that title? BEST title in the history of titles EVER. TOTES.)
AND…there are a TON more (80 feature films and 134 short films to be exact). But that’s not all! (I know right? You’d need, like, an extra 5 hours a day to fit everything in!) There’s also 75 Master Classes going on (if I was there it would seriously be a dilemma between going to the classes or going to see films, I kid you not, because the classes look really awesome!) so my peeps in the industry, I suggest you get y’alls selves over there. At the least, go take a class for me and then come back and report on it? Please and thank you? 🙂
AND…oh I’ve been saving the best for last…AND on Labor Day…a special all day and night event will set a Guinness Book of World Records for “most extras in a short film”. Director George Cameron Romero, son of iconic horror director George A. Romero, will direct. Award-winning makeup artists will oversee effects for an anticipated cast of thousands. Event will also include a nighttime surprise zombie film screening. You read that correctly, friends, there is indeed a ZOMBIE DAY!!! With a Romero, nonetheless! *squee* STAR WARS and zombies all in the same festival? Be still my heart…*sighs*
Okay, I’ll wrap this up now with a little “About” portion on the Portland Film Festival and links for the schedule and tix, but in all seriousness – somebody go take pictures of stuff for me!!! 😉 If you do go, have an absolute blast and please do come back to this post and tell us all about it because we’d love to hear. And for those not in the area, never fear, you’ll be catching part of the lineup right here at CinemaSchminema. It’s gonna be fun, guys. Mwah!
“Established in 2013, The Portland Film Festival is Oregon’s largest film festival, and was named “one of the coolest film festivals in the world,” by MovieMaker Magazine in 2014. It is a non-profit, year round organization dedicated to nurturing filmmakers and audiences, and to celebrating the power of a good story. The festival focuses on the people, ideas, technology, skills and artistry behind filmmaking and provides both entertaining and educational opportunities for the public.
Screenings take place across the city at seven venues, including some of the oldest historic theaters in Oregon, and includes outdoor screenings as well – offering its filmmakers some of the largest audiences available on the West Coast.
Previous and current festival partners include the City of Portland, Portland Parks & Recreation, Women in Film, Oregon Media Production Association (OMPA), Willamette Writers, SAG Aftra (Actor’s Guild/Union), Oregon Governor’s Office of Film (Oregon Film), I.A.T.S.E. (Film Union), Directed by Women, Digital Media Communications Department at Clackamas Community College and others.
Although the festival began in 2013, its history goes back to 2009, when the Portland Film Club was founded as a film club to bring film lovers together to view and discuss films. The club now boasts over 2300 members and is one of the largest movie clubs on the west coast. It screens typically one movie a week including new and independent features.”
Horror maven Wes Craven died today, age 76, from his battle with brain cancer. Normally I don’t post things like this but I think we all know how influential NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET has been in my life (I’ve only mentioned it a time or two…). It’s my favorite horror series; I own 2 documentaries about it (if there are more, PLEASE let me know because I need them!); have a sweet NOES shirt that I was gifted a couple of years ago; used to fall asleep to the theme song that I would play on repeat on my phone (what? It was soothing!) and had my proudest “parent” moment ever just the other day when my ex-bf’s kid sent me a story to read that he’d written for Creepypasta that had a Krueger homage in it. *wipes away happy tears* I am proud of the horror education I instilled in my kiddo.
The first SCREAM also made an impact on me as I was 16 when it came out (yes, I’m old, I know) and it was one of my first horror movies. It was so irreverent, so scary (at the time) and so fun. It made me realize movies didn’t have to come in a pre-packaged form and be like all the rest. Important knowledge for a girl who was nothing like anyone else in her small Southern town or her family.
And Mr. Craven knew that change was good such as when he wrote and directed this bit from one of my favorite films, PARIS JE T’AIME:
So goodbye, Wes Craven, and THANK YOU for all the nightmares.
It’s Devil Week over at the IPCs because everyone needs more devil in their lives, right? Starting yesterday, there’ll be five days worth of movies with the word devil in the title that may or may not have to do with the devil at all! (Or in this case, not necessarily in the title but ya know…E said it was totes cool!) And so I present our He Said/She Said of I’M NOT JESUS MOMMY:
I’ve never been a real big fan of “The Omen” style Antichrist movies, probably because I was bred into a religious environment growing up, and, as a Sagittarius, I can’t really take it when people tell me what to do and how to think and what’s trendy and what to watch and what to do and everything else. The “Sag” is a free spirit who makes his (her) own decisions by trying it out himself (herself) before making the decision of like or dislike or hang on to or get rid of. So, here we have an Apocalypse movie, via “The Rapture” that’s really (thankfully) not too preachy but, honestly, suffers from WAY too much slowness, boredom and, I do hate it, but not too much budget. With “Amber Lake“, those folks showed us how to make a really GOOD movie with no money. Here, the acting is pretty bad from everyone, but it’s not like I just hired my neighbor from across the street to do the co-star role for 200 bucks, I think it’s just a lack of experience. I am always appreciative that a movie gets made (who knows if I’ll ever even finish my screenplay and try), much less gets picked up and distributed, but this was just kind of too slow. I mean, I think they really tried, but, for real, I played 20 rounds of Words With Friends during the loooooong musical interludes because I was not interested, I thought about how I might review this because I think they had a good idea which could have been much better with some more funding, I thought about how (in no way ever) I could give some money for a better remake and, for those of you who look at this, I thought about how I had the shot in my back today and I could finally sit comfortably, and I thought about how I have to go to work tomorrow. Anyway, this is boring and slow and has several record-playing pauses that dim any excitement that might be brewing, BUT – it’s a good story, if you don’t mind a Christian style End-of-Days Rapture thing.
So – a very large chested woman named Bridget McGrath plays a very successful fertility doctor named Kimberly Gabriel who can’t have kids of her own. She is opted in to a U.S. Army experiment where an actor named Charles Hubbell (Dr. Gibson) has finally figured out how to clone a human embryo. Despite her initial reservations, she decides to go along with the experiments on illegal Mexican aliens as hosts and goes ahead and self-inseminates herself with one of the clone-embryos. Sure enough, it takes (but none of the others do) and eventually she Cesarean-style has a baby she names David (complete with an upside down cross indention on his baby-head). Shortly after that, we cut to seven years later, the Earth is in famine, war and death (Revelations), everyone seems to have “the mark of the beast”, the U.S. is in some sort of Ice Age and (I think) the Mexican government is controlling everything from food to water and bread and there is no gas or electricity. Kim and her son David are living alone in a cold, cold apartment and he Doctor (Hubbell) has gone bat-shit religious, preaching (and praying) constantly to his live-in sister and her daughter.
I’ll stop here, because this is a decent (but very slow) movie and I shouldn’t spoil it, but this could be much better. Let’s ax the record playing, the CGI cold breath, the way, WAY too many close-up shots, the irritating preaching by Hubbell, the clothes-with-no-bodies-Rapture business and make this into something exciting that’s not “Vanishing on 7th Street“. To me it’s “to each their own” and I have long read into the dogma of Christianity (and many other religions) and I get it, but how about someone funds something that is actually scary about the Apocalypse, which is a fearful thought, whichever “ism” you believe in. It’s been a LONGtime since I saw it with my friend Dave M, but I think my favorite of these types of things is “The Prophecy” with none other than my main man, Christopher Walken.
No, no you are NOT Jesus because I’m fairly certain Jesus would’ve had the common courtesy to put a comma in that freaking title. Seriously. That’s the first thing that’s wrong with I’m Not Jesus Mommy but never fear, that’s not the only thing that’s wrong here, trust me. There’s lots more to come!
The story starts out with a woman. She’s a cancer survivor but unfortunately the cancer left her unable to conceive. She has a husband who seems pretty sweet and loving – I mean they spend the first 20 minutes of the movie dancing around the kitchen and drinking wine and snuggling. In between the lovey-dovey, there are shots of the woman (Kimberly, btw) being interviewed because she is also a fertility doctor (irony!), then going to a top super secret meeting with military personnel, then getting all furious because at this top super secret meeting she learns that these people are cloning, then after that she decides to take a job with them. Hey, minds can be changed in the blink of an eye.
Roger is the lead doctor of this top super secret cloning project which seems to mostly consist of catching illegal immigrants and offering them the chance to become a permanent resident if they agree to be implanted and carry a baby to term. The embryos that aren’t implanted are destroyed which agonizes Kimberly. So what does she do? She grabs the first one she sees and impregnates herself, of course! No learning anything about the embryo or where it came from or any characteristics of it, nope, just point and shoot with the turkey baster. She’s totes excited about this and runs home to tell her husband who becomes furious. Why? Because she didn’t ask him and this wasn’t just her decision. This was an odd turn of events to me because it’s made pretty apparent before hand that Kimberly really really wants a baby and if you didn’t want a baby, Mr. Husband, pretty sure you should’ve said something like, AGES ago. *shakes head, rolls eyes* Mr. Husband runs off in a rage and immediately gets into a car wreck where his car is flipped over. Then another car comes along a minute later and smashes into him. Oh well.
Baby is born (which is pretty epic because all the other embryos implanted were still-born), baby is baptized. And suddenly, it’s 7 years later and the world has gone crazy. Mexico has closed off its borders and built a wall to discourage US and Canadian citizens from crossing into their land. People are being fed government rations and starving. There’s barely any electricity or heat and all that’s on the telly are the government rules (curfews, punishment for not obeying the rules). Life pretty much sucks.
Now, remember Roger, the cloning guru? Well, he’s gone extremely religious. He’s somewhere between fanatic and extremist. I mean, he’s smothering people in the name of love and all that (just a note – one of the people he smothers is an adorable little child so if that sort of thing bothers you, for sure never watch this one). And baby? Well, his name’s David and he has an imaginary friend named Kuddles and his mommy is dying and he wants to go to Mexico. There’s a lot of “yada, yada, government is bad, yada, yada, mommy is dying, yada, yada” exposition and then suddenly we’re at the end of this thing without anything really having happened. I will tell you this much about the end. The whole “I’m not Jesus” thing comes about from David having been cloned from blood found on the Shroud of Turin. Yep, he’s supposed to be a Jesus clone.
So what are my issues here? How about a handy little list?
1. The acting is bad. Kimberly is completely monotone. “My baby!” carries as much weight here as “I took out the garbage.” It’s entirely distracting.
2. This movie has no idea what it wants to be about. It starts off being about the dangers of cloning, then suddenly it turns into a statement about immigration, THEN it goes all religious and finally at the very end, it’s about cloning again. Now if they had picked just one of these (hell, even two) it would’ve made for a much more linear narrative but instead we get a jumble that doesn’t know what it wants to be preaching about.
3. The description I read about the movie before I watched states that “odd things happen when David is around”. NOTHING odd happens when David is around except that he’s a weird kid that wants to bring his mom back to life when she dies. And there’s one instance where Kuddles seems to “come to life”, so to speak.
4. We see people getting killed and then a minute later, all that’s left of them is their clothing. So we seem to have the Rapture going on but why do they need to die first for this to happen? Admittedly, I haven’t gone to church in awhile but my understanding is that you can just be raptured without being killed first.
5. Why did the world suddenly go all Big Brother crazy? There is NO indication of this happening prior to the title card “7 Years Later”. Did cloning make this happen, is that what we’re supposed to surmise? This plot point seemed to come totally out of left field.
So much wrong when this could’ve been so much of a right. *sighs*
Citizen ‘Caine comes to us courtesy of John Ervin, who also brought us The Tiki War (which you might remember me reviewing in Rogue Cinema a couple of issues back). While I enjoyed The Tiki War, unfortunately I did not enjoy Citizen ‘Caine. The film didn’t serve so much as a look at the grittier side of life as it did to a somewhat boring slice of life. While I don’t think the point of the film was to be grittily morose, one would think that diving into an exploration of the adult film industry and cocaine addiction would be dirtier and more interesting. Mostly though, I just kept wondering what point the film was trying to make exactly and that’s usually not a good sign…
Synopsis: Lou Phillips, a cocaine-addicted insurance salesman from Minnesota, confronts the seedy underbelly of Hollywood in search of his missing teenaged daughter. During his search he interrupts a shoot at LA’s Deep Horizons Studios, which specializes in home-maintenance videos that also serve as adult-entertainment films. In the process of confronting director Sir John Blunstone, his crew, and his biggest star Martha Sunset, Lou also confronts his addiction to cocaine.
See, that sounds kinda neat, right? And I liked Scott Carson as “Lou” A LOT…except for when he was in Hollywood. Those scenes he wasn’t as good in but it had more to do with the dialogue than him. Because there was simply too much extraneous dialogue floating about here. I’m guessing 7-10 minutes could’ve been cut from this 30 minute film and it would have still worked (possibly even better?). Simply removing the word “Ratan” from appearing so many times would have been an improvement.
What the film DID have going for it were the rare jokes sprinkled throughout. I did find the mixture of sex and appliances strangely amusing, as well as the several references to Nicolas Cage being the BEST ACTOR EVER. But as a whole? The acting made me wince…the dialogue went on and on…and the film just left me empty. It was a nice effort but one that didn’t really pay off. (And let’s face it, if you’re making a movie about people having sex with blenders, it should be fabulous, even if it’s just so BAD that it’s hilarious. But this was just BAD).