Film Review: “Home Again”

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Nat Wolff and Lake Bell
Directed By: Hallie Meyers-Shyer
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 97 minutes
Open Road Films

I imagine the pitch for “Home Again” was originally a sitcom. Hallie Meyers-Shyer probably pitched to a studio big wig that over a 24 episode season, the audience would be introduced to newly divorced and hard-working interior designer Alice Kinney. We’ll watch as she picks up her life, and her two kids, to move to her father’s old home in sunny L.A. She’s the daughter of a former film prodigy, whose greatest achievements weren’t the boxed up Oscars in his work room, but raising Alice. I also imagine the pitch ended with an executive saying, “Not enough content. Why not make it a movie?”

The only thing missing from “Home Again” is a canned laugh track, applause and other phony audience reactions. The 97-minute sitcom has Alice, after a drunken night at the bar, take in three young go-getters looking to make it big in Hollywood. They remind me a lot of “Entourage” and I kind of hated that show. George (Jon Rudnitsky) seems to believe he’s the next Stanley Kubrick or Walt Whitman, Harry (Pico Alexander) wants to move beyond being a bit-part actor, and Teddy (Wolff) is the “big picture” man of the group, who smooths talks people like a skeevy used car salesman.

Problems arise when Teddy swoops in on Alice like a sexual predator of women going through a midlife crisis. George becomes upset because he believes he’s entitled to some nooky with Alice because he’s the “nice guy” and he seems frustrated that he’s been friend-zoned. As for Harry, he’s slight impartial, but ends up showing his true colors when he views himself as the shining armor brought in to protect Alice and her two children like a vicious Mother bird.

“Home Again” is barely kept alive by Witherspoon’s natural likability as well as her growth throughout the movie as a woman coping with the concept of becoming a single mom. Most movies would handle her shortcomings and struggles with grace and realism that creates a humanistic bond with the audience. Instead she makes a few speeches reminiscent of “Ally McBeal” and allows for the three-men living in her home to commit “Two and a Half Men” hijinks. “Home Again” is a boring copy and paste of common television dramedys.

Like any sitcom, the character’s emotions, feelings, and misunderstandings are hashed out in a brisk verbal manner. It seems all too easy for everyone to admit their flaws, apologize and hug it out like it’s a family night around on the television. Everyone just comes together like one big dysfunctional family and forgets all their squabbles. If you want to believe in a phony universe where four men pining for Alice’s emotional and sexual affection can break bread at a table in peace, that’s fine. But the unearned sappy mentality and rushed conflict resolution in “Home Again” is lazy.

Film Review: “IT”

Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis and Bill Skarsgard
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Rated: R
Running time: 2 hrs 15 mins
New Line Cinema

Why do I hate clowns?

Could it be because one Saturday night, while eating dinner alone at a Pizza Hut, the evening entertainment was a clown? Asking if there was “anything else” she could do for me, I told the waitress to “keep the clown away from me.” She must have said something to Bozo because, before I could finish my salad, this red-nosed freak stood next to my table and announced, very loudly, “Hey everybody….this guy doesn’t like clowns.” He then led the kids in the restaurant in booing me. Hell, who am I kidding, he got the parents to boo me too. When I left I told the waitress that I had left her a nice tip but that I had seen the clown take it off the table!

Could it be that quiet afternoon in 1991 when I was visited at the theatre I managed by three clowns, all in full regalia, who warned me that if I played the movie “Shakes the Clown” there “could be trouble?” I told them I could handle trouble, I just didn’t want any “drive by pie-ings.” They stared blankly at me.

Or it’s possible it’s because a woman I dated and gave almost five years of my life to liked clowns immensely and then ripped my heart out. Works for me. This hatred (read “fear”) of clowns led me to completely ignore the 1990 television production of “IT.” However, I did watch it recently to prepare me for the movie, thinking if I know what’s going to happen I won’t react to the new film. Wrong!

As summer begins in the town of Derry, Maine school ends. The town is dotted with all kinds of kids, but not enough that no one notices when one turns up missing. We quickly meet Bill Denbrough (Lieberher) and his little brother, Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott). Bill has made Georgie a paper boat to sail in the rain-swollen gutters outside. In order to make sure the boat will not sink, Bill sends Georgie to the cellar to get some wax to seal it. The cellar is a dark, foreboding place and Georgie hurries down and back in a flash. Pleased with himself, he soon finds himself chasing the boat down along the curb and watching it slide down into a storm drain. The boat is lost. Or is it? Georgie is surprised to be stared at by a pair of blood-shot eyes, attached to the white face of a friendly clown. Well, more like a non-friendly clown. One that likes to eat children!

Based on the popular novel by the master of horror himself, Stephen King, “IT” is a terrifying journey through childhood, one that doesn’t let the occasional “lost kid” go by unnoticed! A group of kids that calls themselves the Losers Club notice a lot. They are led by Bill, a slight boy with a stutter. The other members include Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), the fat kid; Beverly Marsh (Lillis), the girl with the bad reputation; Richie (Finn Wolfhard), the smart aleck; Mike (Chosen Jacobs), whose only apparent malady in this town is that he is black; Stanley (Wyatt Oleff), the Jewish kid and Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), the sickly one. Together these youngsters battle their childhood fears, a couple of JD thugs and a horrifying clown named Pennywise (Skarsgard) as they investigate the morbid history of Derry.

Why is this movie so damn scary? The cast. The filmmakers have assembled an amazing cast of young actors that perfectly fit each role. Each is pitch-perfect in his/her portrayal and you can’t help but see the film (and the horror in if) through their eyes. And Skarsgard is a revelation! With minimal dialogue and eyes that dart wildly, his Pennywise is up there with Hannibal Lecter and Heath Ledger’s Joker in the movie villain Hall of Fame. A warning to those who only remember the television production: this is a violent film. Very dark for a King adaptation, though I’ve been warned that the novel, which I may or may not attempt to read, is even darker. And that’s no joke!

Blu-ray Review: “Hype!” Collectors Edition

“Hype!” Collector’s Edition
Director: Doug Pray
Rating: Not Rated
Shout Factory!
Run Time: 83 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

Revisit the documentary that dropped viewers into the Pacific Northwest in the early ‘90s and showcased a vibrant underground music scene which eventually exploded into the global “grunge” media frenzy. “Hype!” follows the music from local bands playing for their friends, to Sub Pop Record’s brilliant exploitation of “the Seattle Sound,” to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hitting #1 on the charts. 20 years after the films initial release “Hype!” returns for its first ever release on DVD and BluRay and included with the film are a new series of interviews, audio commentary and vintage performances which give fans of the film something extra to enjoy.

Around 20 years ago the world was first exposed the music phenomenon that would eventually be dubbed “grunge”. “Hype!” captures the story of the genres early roots and formation through a variety of interviews with bands like MonoMen, Melvins, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam along with many others who help solidify the sound of an era. The first thing that jumped out for me was how great the film looked as the audio and video look fresh while still retaining the grittiest of the original format. Where the release really shined for me was in the special features section which includes a retrospective segment titled “Hype! 20 Years After” which features new interviews with a number of the bands and people featured in the original film. There are also some cool vintage interviews and performances that really brought back memories of growing up during this time.

If you have never seen “Hype!” now is your chance as you will get to see not only the original film but a ton of extra footage which was really adds to the release. Though the film echoes the sentiments of a scene that is now far removed it serves a near perfect time piece of what things were like just prior to invention of the internet and digital media.

Film Review: “Goon: Last of the Enforcers”

Starring: Seann William Scott, Wyatt Russell and Liev Schreiber
Directed by: Jay Baruchel
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hr 41 mins
Momentum Pictures

In 2011, a small budget comedy written by actor Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen’s long-tine partner, Evan Goldberg, called “Goon” attracted itself a small following. The story of Doug Glatt, a man whose IQ level is so low it leads him to become an enforcer in pro hockey, had its funny moments. Not sure if anyone was clamoring for a sequel but one has arrived. And it’s not too bad.

The NHL is on strike, which means more attention is being paid to the minor league teams, including Halifax Highlanders. Doug (Scott) is now the team’s captain, and each night he leads them onto the ice. He also leads the team in penalty minutes. It seems Doug is still a goon – picking a fight with anyone he sees. However this year things have changed. There’s a new black-hat in the league, Anders Cain (Russell) who is not only big and bad but is the son of the Highlander’s team owner. One night out on the ice Doug and Anders throw down, with Doug being seriously injured. With a new wife and a baby on the way, Doug decides to retire, thinking he can skate away from the game he loves. But it’s never easy to walk away.

Well cast and smartly written, “Goon: Last of the Enforcers” is built on different relationships. Doug and his teammates. Doug and his wife. Anders and his father. They all play a part in the story. And the cast help pull these relationships off. Scott has always been able to play the dense guy who just doesn’t get it but here he give Doug (or, as he signs his name, “Dug”) a quiet sweetness that keeps you rooting for him. And as much as you want to hate him, you also quietly root for Anders. It’s obvious that he’s only playing the game the way he does to earn some recognition from his father, a one-time hockey star. The violence he dispenses is his way of asking for attention. I had the opportunity to meet Wyatt Russell last year and he is a pretty good sized guy. He was also a hockey player (he was a goalie) so I can imagine it was fun for him to be outside the pipes and facing off on the ice. Schreiber seems to be having fun with his role as former enforcer Ross Rhea who, like Doug, finds himself reliving the old days by participating in local “hockey nights.” It should be noted that no hockey is played at these events. It’s just fighting match-ups, with the winner moving on to the next guy.

First-time feature director Baruchel shows a keen eye for keeping the film moving and his cameras have managed to capture the best part of ice hockey – the speed in which the game flows.

If I have a problem with the film it’s with the amount of blood that is shed during the on-ice battles. Most hockey fights consist of one guy grabbing another guy’s sweater, pulling it up over his head and giving him a few shots to the head. Those pale in comparison to the violence here, where teeth are lost and gallons of blood are spilled. Oh, and also TJ. Miller has an unfunny, recurring gig as a “Sportcenter” style host. I wish I knew who in Hollywood he had naked pictures of because I’d steal them back and return them if it meant I never had to endure him again in a film.

DVD Review “Killing Hasselhoff”

Actors: Ken Jeong, David Hasselhoff, Jim Jefferies, Rhys Darby, Jon Lovitz
Directors: Darren Grant
Rated: R
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: August 29, 2017
Run Time: 81 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1 out of 5 stars

With a tagline like “Don’t Hassel the Hoff”, you know what your in store for with your picking up “Killing Hasselhoff”. David Hasselhoff has sunken into a very sweet spot in Hollywood. He has been playing off the camp sort of like Chuck Norris and his book of facts. Hasselhoff has been popping up everywhere like the new “Baywatch” remake and even “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol.2”. The film is what it is. If you love Hasselhoff then this is for you if not then I would steer clear.

Official Premise: Ken Jeong (The Hangover) and David Hasselhoff (Baywatch) star in the most hilarious and outrageous comedy of the year. When a struggling nightclub owner (Jeong) fails to pay back a loan shark, he decides the only way to get the money is to kill his pick in an annual “Who Will Die This Year” celebrity death pool: David Hasselhoff. But the task is not so easy – especially when your target is The Hoff.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has delivered “Killing Hasselhoff” on DVD only, no Blu-ray. There is no Digital HD copy included and only a few deleted scenes for special features…but this DVD is also very cheap under $10, so I guess it balances out. Seriously though, how much does it cost them to include a digital copy these days?

Blu-ray Review “First Kill”

Actors: Bruce Willis, Hayden Christiansen, Ty Shelton, Gethin Anthony, William DeMeo
Directors: Steven C. Miller
Rated: R
Studio: LIONSGATE
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Run Time: 102 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Director Steven C. Miller has blown up recently taking over the direct-to-video action film world. He has also worked with “First Kill” star Bruce Wills for the third time in the last two years after “Extraction” (2015) and “Marauders” (2016). The film has it moments and I really dig Miller’s style of directing. Willis is always good (even though he feels like he’s sleepwalking in this a bit) but I can’t get into Christiansen. I will let this fall into the low budget action flicks that are not great but also if you accept them for what they are, overall it ends up working.

Official Premise: In order to reconnect with his son, a Wall Street broker takes his family to the cabin where he grew up for a hunting trip. But the trip takes a deadly turn when they become entangled in a heist gone bad that results in the broker’s son Danny, being kidnapped, forcing his father to recover the stolen loot in exchange for Danny’s life.

Lionsgate delivers “First Kill” as a combo pack with a Blu-ray and Digital HD copy included. The film is definitely low budget but the 1080p transfer is still sharp and looks like it was shot on a much bigger scale, due to Miller’s skills. The special features include a solid Director’s Commentary track, which is worth checking out. There are also a featurette for “Behind the Scenes of First Kill” as well as Extended Cast/Crew Interviews and a few
Deleted Scenes included.

Blu-ray Review “All Eyez On Me”

Actors: Demetrius Shipp Jr., Danai Gurira, Dominic L. Santana, Kat Graham, Lauren Cohan
Directors: Benny Boom
Rated: R
Studio: LIONSGATE
DVD Release Date: September 5, 2017
Run Time: 140 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Cashing in on the success of “Straight Outta Compton”, we get “All Eyez on Me” which focuses on the life of Tupac Shakur but fails to hit the same level that “Compton” achieved. When the film came out I read a review saying that this was a “Wikipedia biopic” that doesn’t give any new life or deliver anything interesting outside of what we know about the late rapper. Worth check out if you are a hardcore fan but overall it is way too long and even though Demetrius Shipp Jr. is a bizarre spitting image of Tupac, it didn’t blow me away.

Official Premise: Newcomer Demetrius Shipp, Jr. stars as the legendary Tupac Shakur in this powerful, true, and untold story of the rapper, actor, poet, and activist – from his early days in New York City to his evolution into a cultural icon whose legacy continues to grow long after his untimely death at the age of twenty-five.

“All Eyez on Me” also features a “The Walking Dead” reunion with current star Lauren Cohan and Danai Gurira. Lionsgate is releasing this film as a combo pack with Blu-ray + Digital HD copy included. The 1080p transfer is solid and the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track delivers with the musical background of the film. Special features on this include three featurettes that are short but deliver some solid info as well as a few deleted scenes and Demetrius Shipp, Jr’s audition tape.

Film Review: “Good Time”

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Ben Safdie
Directed By: Ben Safdie and Josh Safdie
Rated: R
Running Time: 100 minutes
A24

In 2011, if you had told me Robert Pattinson was an audacious talent that must be experienced; I would have called you a bold-faced liar. The “Twilight” saga tainted his image as he spent years as a twinkling in the sunlight vampire that makes constipated reactionary faces. 2017 may be the year he erases that moniker after a wonderfully low-key performance in “Lost City of Z” and now the subdued, yet enthralling performance in “Good Time.”

Constantine (Pattinson) is on the run after a botched bank robbery. His mentally challenged brother Nick (Safdie) was caught by police and isn’t handling prison life well. Morally corrupt, Constantine attempts to scrounge up bail money by duping his unaware girlfriend Corey (Leigh) into ponying up thousands of dollars with her mother’s credit card. When that doesn’t work, Constantine takes the next best route a petty thief can think of, busting his brother out himself.

“Good Time” works best without lengthy, wordy exposition because of how fast it moves. How the movie begins and ends is very telling of how Constantine should be viewed. Throughout “Good Time” Constantine looks nervous, his mind is racing through a thousand scenarios and exit plans at every turn. Midway through the film we watch him in a short amount of time work his way out of a jam with two different people, one with his words and one with his lips. His criminal odyssey doesn’t necessarily sprawl throughout the Bronx, but his manipulative impact is felt by those who encounter or get ensnared in his devious plans.

“Good Time” is very much a vehicle for Pattinson, who is a tour de force. He’s not likable, in fact you really hate him before all is said and done. But there’s this next-level intelligence at work that keeps you entertained. Much like watching Walter White weasel his way out of the grasp of fellow criminals and police through five seasons of “Breaking Bad,” watching Constantine squirm out of trouble and manipulate others through 100 minutes is much more unnerving, brisk and exhilarating.

Constantine is audaciously rotten, sometimes evil, when using others and tossing them aside when they no longer have any further use to him. There’s a moment when Constantine has to team up with another criminal, who’s much less intelligent and a lot cruder, and that when the film mixes in dark humor and entertainment. It blends well with Constantine’s self-preservation, as we watch him tout non-violence, as well as brutal violence, in the same scenario.

Lush neon light bathes the dark New York City night as the film soaks up a matching retro soundtrack from the 80’s. The visual aesthetics sometimes contradict Constantine’s depravity and corruption, but matches scenes of fleeing and fighting like any well-oiled crime-drama. “Good Time” is a gritty character piece because like most real-life criminals, Constantine is a scumbag. He’s a repulsive loser who’s gotten good at a few things, lying, cheating and scheming. We’re not supposed to root for him; we’re supposed to watch the devastation left behind in his wake.

Fan-Favorite Slasher Franchise Continues This Autumn with Surprise Reboot to the “Hatchet” Series with “VICTOR CROWLEY”

FAN-FAVORITE SLASHER FRANCHISE CONTINUES THIS AUTUMN WITH SURPRISE REBOOT TO THE HATCHET SERIES

VICTOR CROWLEY

Top-secret production from Dark Sky Films and ArieScope Pictures – starring Kane Hodder and helmed by Adam Green – kept under wraps for over two years.

Dark Sky Films proudly announces VICTOR CROWLEY, the surprise fourth film in the fan-favorite Hatchet franchise. Kept tightly under wraps for over two years, the slasher reboot unexpectedly debuted tonight at Hollywood’s ArcLight Cinema, shocking fans, celebrities, and industry professionals who gathered this evening to celebrate at an event coined as a “Hatchet 10
th Anniversary Celebration.”

Set a decade after the events of the series’ first three films, VICTOR CROWLEY reunites Hatchet mainstays Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th 7 -X’s Jason Voorhees) and Parry Shen (Better Luck Tomorrow) for an all-new, horrifying journey into the haunted, blood-drenched bayou.

In 2007, forty-nine people were brutally torn to pieces in Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp. Over the past decade, lone survivor Andrew Yong’s claims that local legend Victor Crowley was responsible for the horrific massacre have been met with great controversy, but when a twist of fate puts him back at the scene of the
tragedy, Crowley is mistakenly resurrected and Yong must face the bloodthirsty ghost from his past.

VICTOR CROWLEY’s ensemble cast also features Laura Ortiz (2006’s The Hills Have Eyes), Dave Sheridan (Scary Movie), and Brian Quinn (truTV’s “Impractical Jokers”). Writer/director Adam Green proudly returns to the director’s chair of his series that, upon debuting in 2007, was energetically touted as a return to “old school American horror,” and whose maniacal fan-favorite villain quickly secured a place among slasher royalty.

Says Green, “I couldn’t be happier to partner with Dark Sky Films and bring Victor Crowley back to horror fans around the world. Resurrecting the series for its tenth anniversary was our way of saying thank you to everyone in The Hatchet Army and beyond who have supported this series since its inception. This bloodbath is for all of you.”

VICTOR CROWLEY will hit select U.S. theaters in October 2017 as part of Dark Sky Films’ “Victor Crowley Road Show”, wherein writer/director Adam Green (and other cast) will travel with and introduce the film at special one-night screening events across America. Internationally, the film is slated to bow at festivals worldwide.

Full road show schedule and additional release information will follow.

@darkskyfilms
www.darkskyfilms.com

#victorcrowleylives

Film Review: “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek
Directed by: Patrick Hughes
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hr 58 mins
Lionsgate

Michael Bryce (Reynolds) is a Triple-A rated bodyguard who is proud of the fact the he hasn’t lost a client since….BANG! Oops.

A film that only works in small doses, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is several films in one. First you have an action comedy full of dirty words and exploding heads. Next is a political thriller as the leader of Belarus (Gary Oldman) is put on trial, at the Hague in the Netherlands no less! Finally you have the “bro-mance,” featuring Bryce and hired killer Darius Kincaid (Jackson), a duo that yells and bickers with each other like an old married couple. Taken separately, you have a surprisingly entertaining (sometimes) film. Put it all together, and you have a mess.

When the film works it’s when Reynolds and Jackson act as you expect them too. Reynolds is all smarm, his character seemingly trying to be the smartest man in the room while Jackson finds new and entertaining ways to use the words “mother” and, well, you know.

Somehow Kincaid is the only witness that can put Oldman’s character away forever, though it’s never really understood how until the end of the film. Throw in Bryce’s old lover, who just happens to be an INTERPOL agent, and you can see how jumbled the film is. Thankfully, the chemistry (and improvisational skills) of Reynolds and Jackson keep the film moving. The action is frenetic, moving across Europe like a Zagat video gone wild, so much so that you appreciate it when Mr. Jackson gets to utter his favorite phrase. “You know you’ve totally ruined “mother fu**er) for me, Bryce tells Kincaid. Hardly. The words flow out of Kincaid like the paint off of an artist’s brush. If only the rest of the film were as much of a masterpiece.

CD Review: “Live at Wacken 2016: 27 Years Faster: Harder: Louder”

“Live at Wacken 2016: 27 Years Faster: Harder: Louder”
Silver Lining
4 Discs
Runtime: 271 minutes

Our score:  CD 2.5 out of 5 stars
BluRay/DVD 3.5 our of 5 stars

The ultimate heavy metal event-in-a-box is now available for fans to enjoy in the comfort of their very own home. “Live at Wacken 2016: 27 Years Faster: Harder: Louder” is a collection of some of the best performances from the 2016 Wacken Open Air festival held in Germany each yr. The double disc CD and DVD/BluRay features music from over 30 artists including Arch Enemy, Saxon and Bullet for My Valentine all packaged nicely in multi fold digipack.

No need for lengthy international travel or standing in a soggy bog along the European country side as “Live at Wacken 2016: 27 Years Faster: Harder: Louder” allows you to enjoy a majority of the Wacken Open Air festival from the safety and dryness of your own couch or recliner. Get comfortable as with a runtime of over four hours you are definitely in for a long haul especially if you plan to check it out from start to finish. If you want to skip around a little I highly recommend checking out the performances from Eluveitie, Bullet for My Valentine and Dio Disciples as they were easily my favorite. I also enjoyed the video version of this package a little more as it included in most cases a couple songs from each artist.

Invite a few friends over crack open some drinks and thrown on either the DVD/BluRay or the included audio versions of the release. Though a majority of the performances contained on the set are from European acts I wasn’t too familiar with there is still plenty of other material from bands I had heard before. Though I enjoyed seeing bands like Steel Panther and Saxon I think I had more fun checking out the bands who I hadn’t heard of because those performances were fresh and new to me. It’s always great to be exposed to new music and that’s certainly what “Live at Wacken 2016: 27 Years Faster: Harder: Louder” does. I do feel though that if you are a more casual metal fan there might not be enough familiarity included to warrant purchasing the cumbersome four disc set however, If you are a dedicated, die hard metal head that has yearned for the Wacken experience but couldn’t make the trip then this release is certainly for you as it gets you as close as you can be without actually being there.

BluRay/DVD Track Listing: Disc 1

1.) Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons- Big Mouth
2.) Profaner- Killing On Command
3.) Hamatom- Alte Liebe Rostet Nicht
4.) Auan- Pjaning Heillar Bjodar
5.) Saxon- Battering Ram
6.) Saxon- Heavy Metal Thunder
7.) Zombies Ate My Girlfriend- Appropriate Hate Crimes
8.) Vader- Triumph of Death
9.) Tsjuder- Demonic Supremacy
10.) Immolation- Despondent Souls
11.) Therapy? Screamager
12.) Michael Monroe- 78
13.) Orden Ogan- F.E.V.E.R.
14.) Orden Ogan- The Things We Believe In
15.) The Vintage Caravan- Expand Your Mind
16.) Bury Tomorrow- Man On Fire
17.) Entombed A.D.- Dead Dawn
18.) Equilibrium- But Im Auge
19.) Equilibrium- Born To Be Epic
20.) Die Krupps- Fatherland
21.) Axel Rudi Pell- Game Of Sins
22.) Axel Rudi Pell- Rock The Nation
23.) Ektomorf- Holocaust
24.) Girlschool- Take It Like a Band
25.) Lemmy- Born To Lose, Live To Win

Bluray/DVD Track Listing: Disc 2

1.) Torfrock- Trunkenbold
2.) Torfrock- PreBlufthammer B B-Bernhard
3.) Eluveitie- Tegernako
4.) Eluveitie- Havoc
5.) Bullet For My Valentine- Tears Don’t Fall
6.) Bullet For My Valentine- Waking The Demon
7.) Tarja- No Bitter End
8.) 1349- Sculptor Of Flesh
9.) Red Fang- Prehistoric Dog
10.) Unisonic- Unisonic
11.) Caliban- Paralyzed
12.) While She Sleeps- Four Walls
13.) Eskimo Callboy- Muffin Purper-Gurk
14.) Myrkur- Jeg er Guden, I er tjenerne
15.) Borknagar- Colossus
16.) Borknagar- Winter Thrice
17.) Metal Church- Gods Of Second Chance
18.) Therion- Sons Of The Sun
19.) Therion- Sons Of The Staves Of Time
20.) Steel Panther- Asian Hooker
21.) Steel Panther- Community Property
22.) Steak Number Eight- Black Eyed
23.) Triptykon- Morbid Tales
24.) Buffalo Summer- Money
25.) Barb Wire Dolls- Heart Attack
26.) Arch Enemy- War Eternal
27.) Budderside- Pain
28.) Dio Disciples- The Last In Line
29.) Dio Disciples- Stargazer

CD Track Listing: Disc 1

1.) Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons- Big Mouth
2.) Hamatom- Alte Liebe Rostet Nicht
3.) Saxon- Battering Ram
4.) Vader- Triumph Of Death
5.) Tsjuder- Demonic Supremacy
6.) Immolation- Despondent Souls
7.) Theraphy?- Screamager
8.) Michael Monroe- 78
9.) The Vintage Caravan- Expand Your Mind
10.) Bury Tomorrow- Man On Fire
11.) Entombed A.D.- Dead Dawn
12.) Equilibrium- Born To Be Epic
13.) Die Krupps- Fatherland
14.) Axel Rudi Pell- Rock The Nation
15.) Girlschool- Take It Like a Band
16.) Ektomorf- Holocaust
17.) Torfrock- PreBlufthammer B B-Bernhard
18.) Eluveitie- Havoc

CD Track Listing: Disc 2

1.) Bullet For My Valentine- Tears Don’t Fall
2.) Tarja- No Bitter End
3.) 1349- Sculptor Of Flesh
4.) Red Fang- Prehistoric Dog
5.) Unisonic- Unisonic
6.) Caliban- Paralyzed
7.) Eskimo Callboy- Muffin Purper-Gurk
8.) Borknagar- Colossus
9.) Metal Church- Gods Of Second Chance
10.) Therion- Sons Of The Staves Of Time
11.) Steel Panther- Community Property
12.) Steak Number Eight- Black Eyed
13.) Triptykon- Morbid Tales
14.) Buffalo Summer- Money
15.) Barb Wire Dolls- Heart Attack
16.) Arch Enemy- War Eternal
17.) Budderside- Pain
18.) Dio Disciples- Stargazer

Film Review: “The Glass Castle”

Starring: Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts
Directed By: Destin Daniel Cretton
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 127 minutes
Lionsgate

There’s an old adage that everyone has heard at some point about how we can’t pick our parents. I hate that truism. It’s rarely used in an earnest conversation and mainly glosses over a more deep-seeded conflict. In “The Glass Castle,” the conflict is multi-layered and a lot more complicated than its face value. Rex Walls (Harrelson) drags his wife and kids cross country to escape debt, police and his own parents, internalizing and allowing some of his more dark secrets to manifest into emotional manipulation and possible abuse.

Rex repeatedly attempts to drown his sorrows in alcohol, but surprisingly reveals a softer side anytime he hits the bottle. That’s not to say he has his deplorable moments with whiskey heavy on his breath. His four children and wife, Rose (Watts), are generally at his mercy as he goes from dilapidated home to dilapidated home. They live without proper plumbing, heat or even food sometimes. They finally settle down in rural West Virginia where his children, on the cusp of puberty, begin to piece together that their father isn’t the kind, gentle soul they have believed him to be.

“The Glass Castle” is told from the point of view of Rex’s second oldest child, Jeanette. Brie Larson is wasted as grown-up Jeanette, but is played much better in flashbacks by Ella Anderson. The other three kids don’t have much of a personality in the flashbacks, but considering its Jeanette’s memoir, that’s perfectly fine. The audience’s perception of Rex unravels as Jeanette gets older and sees Rex as a flawed father figure. Besides being an alcoholic, he possibly abuses their mom, imprisons the children within their own home without proper education and prioritizes booze over buying essentials for the family.

Rex is a difficult character to root for, at all. His likeability is buoyed by Harrelson’s ability to flip from a shattered, paranoid man to a charming goofball. It’s difficult to fully comprehend Jeanette’s overall attitude because when Larson is brought back, she’s used to deliver icy stares and spout declarative disgust in the film’s present day. It’s not only until the end of the movie that she begins to warm up to her father’s habitual lies. “The Glass Castle” sloppily attempts to ever convey a direct, and even indirect, message about who Rex really is.

But because it continues to play with Rex as an anti-hero, “The Glass Castle” is rarely boring and is a sometimes interesting, if not derivative, soap opera. There are predictable beats, but the film throws a few curveballs and avoids several cliché moments, settling for a more genuine dramatic effect. Some viewers may even see their own family in the Walls, which is both heartbreaking and terrifying. Of course the modern day Walls most likely wouldn’t be able to handle life without a smartphone.

“The Glass Castle” is based on Jeanette’s memoirs, which I imagine is much more lengthy and in-depth. The book is a bestseller with a massive following because of its truthful slice of impoverished Americana. Despite taking place in the 70’s, there are parallels to the broken small towns that continue to dot America, which add another level of relatability to the film. However the entirely white cast may disarm and confound anyone outside the demographic depicted on-screen.

There is a level of understanding in “The Glass Castle” about how once one or both of your parents pass, you don’t necessarily reflect on the bad times. You seem to neglect how terrible they may have been, but instead focus on and cherish the moments where they showed their parental love and care for you. The things that bugged you and the moments of turmoil are reflected on through tears and laughter, as long as those memories weren’t too tumultuous. “The Glass Castle” is a peculiar film about hindsight forgiveness, more than blind acceptance.

Film Review: “Step”

Directed By: Amanda Lipitz
Rated: PG
Running Time: 83 minutes

A 100% percent high school graduation rate isn’t unheard of. However the average graduation rate, depending on your state, hovers anywhere from 66% to 94%, according to U.S. News and World Report. In Maryland though, out of 204 schools, there isn’t a 100% graduation rate at any high school. But you have to dig a little deeper to find the one that accomplished it back in 2016, the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women.

The predominantly African-American middle-high public charter school was an experiment created in 2009. The hope was to help transform the young women in the urban core through strong education and empowerment. “Step” catches up with the first class ever to attend that school, as they get ready to graduate and look to get into college. Specifically we watch three women on the high-school step dance team.

That’s not to take away from the most fascinating part of this film, the public education experiment, which surely isn’t the only one in the country. When the cameras go home with the girls and we see a broken home life, impoverished circumstances, and single moms. We fully grasp that this is a city, at every multi-generational level, working to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. Even behind closed doors at the school, where educators are reaming students over bad grades, we see this disheartening concern in their eyes that their students may not make it and they may never make anything of themselves.

In that regard, “Step” is a wonderfully engaging documentary about perseverance against insurmountable odds. The film’s backdrop is the death of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore riots which were broadcast for the world to see, and inner city decay. To see these teenage girls being forced to grow up in such harsh conditions and to strive for positivity in the face of hopelessness is one of the most inspiring things an American documentary has shown in years.

There is a little bit of choppiness in the film’s narrative, mainly because the film’s speed is hit on fast forward. It buzzes through people, faces and places in a dizzying whirlwind, instead of taking a breath here and there for reflection. But it also helps prevent the film from becoming too melodramatic and repetitive when detailing the young women’s lives and circumstances.

While the step dance team is certainly the least interesting part of this film, it does play an integral role of playing by subliminally layering in sports movie tropes about self-esteem and tenacity. It makes many of the film’s moments, like one girl getting a full ride scholarship to college and another girl making a last minute to even be considered for acceptance, that much more impactful. “Step” is an encouraging dose of reality that America’s future will be in capable hands.

Film Review “A Ghost Story”

Starring: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara
Director: David Lowery
Distributed by: A24
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 92 minutes

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

A24 has been releasing some very interesting films recently including this year alone with “Free Fire” and “It Comes At Night”. With a title like “A Ghost Story”, it definitely grabbed my interested…unfortunately not for long. Don’t get me wrong this is definitely a film that will stay with you for a bit. I can’t say that I hated it overall but damn was I bored at some points. I have a feeling this might be a film to benefit from multiple viewings but I don’t think that I could make it through a second time here. I mean there is a pie eating scene that lasts five minutes and I understand why its there but it is painful to get through….pretty much like the whole film.

Official Premise: Recently deceased, a white-sheeted ghost (Casey Affleck) returns to his suburban home to console his bereft wife (Rooney Mara), only to find that in his spectral state he has become unstuck in time, forced to watch passively as the life he knew and the woman he loves slowly slip away. Increasingly unmoored, the ghost embarks on a cosmic journey through memory and history, confronting life’s ineffable questions and the enormity of existence. [A24]

The cast for “A Ghost Story” includes recent Oscar Winner Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. Funnily enough reuniting together again along with the director of this film after all working together on 2013’s “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”. Performances are good from Mara and the loss is definitely depicted well, almost too well. Please make sure you realize though, this is not a scary horror film at all. I see the aspect of horror but it is not the same. Deep is a word, I would use to describe the message in this film, much deeper than I usually like. So if you are interested in a different kind of ghost movie that has few words, very long scenes with sometimes little happening but leaves you thinking a bit afterwards you might then be interested in this.

Film Review: “Atomic Blonde”

Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy and John Goodman
Directed By: David Leitch
Rated: R
Running Time: 115 minutes
Focus Features

David Leitch’s first solo directed movie comes after the success of his work on the “John Wick” franchise. While a lot of the “Wick” DNA is on display in many of its action sequences, “Atomic Blonde” suffers from a choppy narrative and lack of character intrigue outside of its two leads.

MI6 agent Lorraine (Theron) is first seen, covered in bruises and burning the memories of a former ally. She walks into a soundproof room to give her recorded recollection of her undercover week leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. She recounts her tale of infiltrating East Berlin, in search of an allusive watch containing information on every agent deployed during the Cold War. Failing to retrieve that token, may result in another 40 years of nuclear arms muscle flex by the U.S. and Soviet Union.

The premise is alluring as Theron’s character radiates macho gusto and calm precision. She speaks in short, biting simplistic sentences and delivers angered quips under her breath. She’s matched by a Berlin ally, David (McAvoy), who’s underground smuggling and cocky smirk covers his secretive intentions. The two, while relatively friendly, aren’t about to become buddies as they spy and record each other. “Atomic Blonde” should be an interesting blend of spy-thriller and action-survival, but is bogged down by its jumbly plot.

There’s plenty of exposition to munch on, but nothing clear or meaningful. There are dozens of characters brought in and out of the woodwork to offer their allegiances and services, but none bring a unique personality or influence to the script. The exquisite opening for “Atomic Blonde” quickly sinks into uninvolving plot progression that feels like an assigned household chore before the film’s real goodies, the action sequences.

Hand-to-hand combat is filmed tightly, but fully in frame to put the viewer right in the middle of fists, kicks, groans and gunshots. They’re some of the film’s most inspired moments, but they’re shoehorned in towards the end and sparse. The sagging middle cuts between uninteresting character interactions and posturing that only pays off in the final 10 minutes of the movie. It makes the entire storyline a lot clearer; however the bad taste of wasted talent meandering aimlessly doesn’t leave your mouth.

This graphic novel adaptation displays an attractive visual flair along with an 80’s best-of soundtrack that keeps your eyes from wandering to far from the screen although there’s no substance beneath its neon portrait. Despite her best efforts, Theron (who also helped produce the movie) can only carry the film so far. Her mix of femme fatale and impenetrable action star is humbled by a late emotional reveal towards the end, that’s more impactful than it should be. Her recent run of action films, like “Mad Max” and “Fate of the Furious” are commendable. But “Atomic Blonde” is more bark than bite.