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Notice On The Lack Of Updates

I apologize for the lack of updates on here. I recently came down with a case of vertigo which, unfortunately, made watching movies pretty much impossible. I am feeling better and will hopefully be picking things up back at the beginning of the year.

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crime, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

December 27th, 2017 Movie – Taking Lives (2004)

taking lives

The year is almost over and I am finishing things with a new letter. Now when it comes to this movie, this one kind of falls into a category that some other movies fell into at the beginning of the century; that being movies which used Angelina Jolie as their main marketing ploy. I understand the reasoning, as most of these movies are geared towards the male audience and she is one of the more attractive females in Hollywood. Still, the tactic can only get people to consider the movie but the actual movie itself has to do it’s job in keeping the audience interested. Let’s see if that pans out with today’s movie, Taking Lives.

The plot: In St. Jovite, Canada in 1983, a teenager named Martin Asher buys a bus ticket out of town and ends up meeting another teenage drifter named Matt Soulsby. When the bus breaks down, Matt rents a car and he and Matt continue driving down the road, with Matt telling Martin why he is on the road. When the car gets a flat tire, Matt goes to change it but Martin comments on them being the same height and when Matt looks up in confusion, Martin kicks Matt into the path of an oncoming car. The car hits Matt and ends up wrecking, killing the driver, and Martin approaches Matt, who is barely alive, and proceeds to bash in his head with a rock before grabbing Matt’s belongings and walking away through the fields. 19 years later, in Montreal, a construction crew is doing some excavating on a site when they unearth a human body that was buried there. At the same time, a woman hurriedly locates a police officer and explains that she saw her son, who had been dead for 19 years. The woman is taken to the police station and she gives her statement, saying that her son is dangerous but she knows it was him. The Montreal police take her statement but are more concerned with capturing a serial killer that has been in the area. Chief Inspector Hugo Leclair calls in FBI profiler Illeana Scott to assist with the case, introducing her to detectives Joseph Paquette and Emil Duval, though Paquette is not happy with her being there. When another murder occurs, Illeana is taken to the station where James Costa, a witness to the crime, is describing what he saw. As James works on sketching a profile of the man he saw, Illeana questions him about what he saw. The police get a hit on James’ sketch and head to the suspect’s apartment, where Illeana discovers a body chained up in the rafters. Paquette gets an ID on the victim and Illeana says not to mention anything to the press, as she hopes the killer will get upset over the lack of media coverage and make a mistake. That night, Illeana is at a bar close to James’ apartment and speaks with him when he comes in. The next day, Illeana goes to speak with Rebecca Asher about her son and while there, learns that Rebecca has two sons but one of them had died and Rebecca feels that Martin killed his brother. As Illeana continues to search the house, she finds a hidden room where Martin was kept as a child but as she looks around, she is attacked by an unknown assailant, who manages to escape. As she is relaxing in a bath, Illeana gets a call from Duval about a break-in at James’ studio and as she is looking at the file, notices something about the victims. She then explains her theory to the police that the killer is Martin, who is stealing the victim’s identities and living their lives until he finds someone with a better life for him and she believes James is the Martin’s next target. They decide to fit James with a wire and try to use him as bait to lure out Martin but nothing happens and James refuses to cooperate further as he fears for his own life. Illeana finds herself being drawn closer to James and she wants to leave, telling Leclair that they have a witness and a working profile so there is no need for her to be there but Leclair convinces her to stay until they catch Martin. That night, James holds an exhibit for his paintings and while there, he sees a man staring at him. James catches Illeana’s eye and says that the man is the killer and Illeana and Paquette give chase when he runs but they end up losing him in the festival crowd that is on the streets. The next day, they go to place James into witness protection but as Duval is packing James’ things into the car, the killer appears in James’ apartment and begins attacking him, saying that James has something he wants. James tries to get away and grab a gun but the killer knocks the gun away but James is able to yell for help, sending Duval rushing back inside the apartment. Meanwhile, Illeana arrives at the apartment to say goodbye to James when she hears gunshots coming from the apartment. When she gets there, she sees Duval lying dead on the ground but no sign of James or the assailant. Hearing James yelling for help outside, she sees James being held at gunpoint and being forced to drive away and so she gets into her car and gives chase. James eventually crashes his car into a median, which sends the attacker crashing through the windshield. James crawls out and quickly grabs the gun and begins wildly firing it into the car in the hopes of killing his attacker but his shots end up catching the car on fire just as Illeana gets there and she quickly pushes him to safety so he can avoid the blast. James is taken to the hospital to get his injuries taken care of and afterwards, he heads to Illeana’s hotel room, where the two give in to their mutual attraction and end up having sex. The next morning, Illeana wakes up to find herself and James covered in blood and at first she thinks he is dead but when he rouses, they discover that his stitches had popped. Illeana takes James to the hospital to get his stitches redone and learns that Rebecca is there to identify the body so she heads down to the morgue to meet Leclair and Paquette. Rebecca looks at the body but doesn’t say that it is Martin and walks away. Illeana chases after her but is unable to catch Rebecca before she gets on the elevator and the door closes. Inside the elevator, Rebecca hears someone say “Hello, Mother” and she turns to find James in the elevator with her. Rebecca recognizes him as Martin and speaks with him, saying she isn’t afraid of him but James moves towards her and kills her. Illeana had raced down the stairs to catch Rebecca as she leaves but when the elevator doors open, she sees James ripping Rebecca’s head off and realizes that he is Martin. She is able to tell Leclair and Paquette about James before she faints but they are unable to stop him from escaping. The police search James’ studio and Paquette yells at Leclair over Illeana’s sleeping with James and slaps Illeana in his anger. Meanwhile, Martin heads to the train station and picks out his next victim, throwing him off the train as it is moving. Martin then calls Illeana and speaks with her, telling her that she didn’t fall in love with James Costa but instead, fell in love with Martin Asher. The police discover he bought a train ticket and head out to try and catch him when he reaches the station while Illeana heads back to her hotel and proceeds to cleanse herself to the point of rubbing her skin raw in an act of disgust over her actions. Illeana is fired from the FBI for her actions and she ends up moving to Carlisle, PA, where seven months have passed and she is shown to be heavily pregnant. After running some errands, she returns home and puts her things away but as she goes to pull her tea kettle off of the stove, she finds Martin in her house. She goes for a gun she had hidden only to find that Martin had found all of the guns she had hidden throughout the house and taken them. Martin talks with her some but then attacks her when she says the babies are not his, but James Costa’s. Illeana grabs a pair of scissors to try and attack Martin with but Martin grabs her and then stabs her in the stomach with the scissors. Illeana is shocked that he did that but then grabs the scissors and stabs Martin in the chest with them. As he drops to his knees in shock, Illeana explains that everything he saw was what she wanted him to see, then removes the prosthetic stomach she was wearing to simulate being pregnant. As Martin drops dead onto the floor, Illeana calls Leclair and tells him that it is over.

Taking Lives was panned by the critics, holding a 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A stylish, but predictable thriller where the only thrills are offered by the sensuous Angelina Jolie.” Despite having third billing in the movie, Kiefer Sutherland only had a total of 17 lines and 3 minutes of screen time. The movie was barely a hit at the box office, earning $65.4 million off of a $45 million budget.

This was an ok thriller but it was too slow paced to really be effective. The acting was good, with Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke doing good jobs in their roles of Illeana and Martin respectively. The story was actually pretty interesting but, as I said earlier, the slow pacing actually kind of killed some of the tension that it had going for it. I also felt that the ending was about as cliched and predictable as you could expect it to be. The dark lighting and tones of the movie worked well together and did their job in helping to carry the story. It is predictable but still a decent movie to kill some time with.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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drama, movie, movie review, thriller

December 26th, 2017 Movie – Syriana

syriana

Well, I find myself finishing up with the letter “S” today. Once again, I find myself with a movie that I never saw in theaters, though I had several friends saying it was really good. So based on their recommendations, I decided to pick up a copy on the cheap when Blockbuster was going out of business. I think I might have to figure out how many of my spur of the moment Blockbuster purchases during that time period were based solely on friends’ recommendations. Anyways, let’s get down to business with today’s movie, Syriana.

The plot: CIA agent Bob Barnes is in Tehran, Iran to participate in an arms deal. After inspecting the two anti-aircraft missile for the sale, Bob notices that one of the missiles is taken into the back of the store while the other is taken outside by the two men that bought the weapons. After getting his money, Bob heads to the back to investigate what is happening with the second missile, only to be held at gunpoint as the second missile is taken away so Bob leaves out the front door, disregarding the two arms dealers as they are killed by the explosive he secretly placed inside their missile case. Meanwhile, Connex Oil is losing control of oil fields in the Middle East just as a smaller company, Killen, won drilling rights in Kazakhstan. The Connex board decides to form a merger with Killen and hire a DC law firm to help smooth the way. Among the people involved is Bennet Holiday, who is there to help smooth things over with the DOJ and help assuage anti-trust fears. Elsewhere, Bryan Woodman, an American energy analyst working in Switzerland, is ordered to attend an emir’s party and offer him the services of their company and when he says he can’t as it is his son’s birthday, his company offers to send them with him. Back in DC, Bob’s superiors are nervous as Bob keeps asking about the missile theft and has written an official memo regarding it. They promote him to a desk job in the hopes it will keep him out of trouble but Bob’s tendency to speak his mind causes problems. Elsewhere, Pakistani workers board a bus to go work at a Connex refinery only to be told they have been laid off due to the Chinese outbidding Connex for the rights to the refinery. As Saleem and his son Wasim walk back to their lodgings, Wasim tries to figure out what to do for a job. In Spain, Bryan and his family arrive at the plaza and Bryan is told the emir can’t meet with him, as he is busy meeting with some Chinese delegates, and so Bryan is forced to give his presentation to some of the emir’s representatives. As the emir and his son, Prince Meshal, show the Chinese how they can keep watch over all of the compound using their remote cameras, not noticing that one of the lights in the pool is broken. As Bryan heads back to rejoin his family, he is attracted to a commotion at the pool and discovers that his oldest son has been electrocuted. In Pakistan, Wasim continues to try and find work and is told to learn Arabic if he wants a job, but as he goes to attend the school, he ends up being beaten. In DC, Holiday attends a meeting at the DOJ, where they tell him that they feel someone in Killen had bribed the Kazakhstan officials in order to get the contracts and are trying to find out who it was in order to prosecute them. Bob is ordered to oversee the assassination of Prince Nasir, the emir’s oldest son, and is told he has been financing terrorists. Bob goes to see his friend, who is a retired agent, and is told to check in with Hezbollah when he gets to Lebanon, so that they know he isn’t working against them. Meanwhile, Bryan attends a meeting with Nasir, who offers his company $75 million in his country’s oil interests as compensation for their part in his son’s death. Bryan is upset at first, insultingly asking what he will offer for his other son, but when he learns that Nasir actually wishes to advance his country’s growth, instead of letting it stagnate like his father has done, he accepts the offer and offers Nasir some advice. Bob arrives in Lebanon but when he gets there, he finds himself grabbed and taken away to a secret meeting with the Hezbollah leader. Back in Pakistan, Wasim and his friend are approached by a man, the same man Bob saw take the missile, who begins speaking with them and tries to convince them to join him. In Lebanon, Bob meets with a mercenary named Mussawi to help him kidnap and kill Nasir. Bob heads to Beirut to oversee the operation but when he reaches his hotel room, he finds himself attacked and kidnapped by Mussawi, who proceeds to torture him and is about to cut off his head but he is stopped by Hezbollah. Back in DC, Bob’s superiors get wind of what happened and Mussawi’s threats to tell people of Bob’s attempt to kill Nasir. Wishing to keep it in the dark that the assassination was US sanctioned, they decide to blackball Bob and make him out to be a rogue agent; revoking his passports, locking him out of his computer, and starting an investigation into him. Elsewhere, Holiday finds proof of payouts from a Killen executive to Kazakhstan and confronts Danny Dalton, the man who authorized the funds. Elsewhere, Nasir learns that his father is passing him over to replace him as emir in favor of his brother, whose views more closely resemble his own as opposed to Nasir’s more progressive views, so Nasir tries to organize a coup to usurp his father’s power. Barnes speaks with his friend to find out who is the one blackballing him and arranges a meeting with Dean Whitting, the head of the law firm backing the Connex/Killen merger and a member of the CLI (Committee to Liberate Iran), and threatens his family until he agrees to arrange for Bob’s investigation to be stopped and his passports reinstated. At the same time, Holiday meets with Jimmy Pope, the head of Killen, and tells him that Dalton will not be enough to stop the DOJ’s investigation and Killen asks if the second body could be someone in his firm, to which Holiday agrees providing the name was big enough. Holiday goes with his mentor Sidney Hewitt to meet with Leeland Janus, the head of Connex, and while there, explains the situation with the DOJ and then informs him that Hewitt had arranged an illegal deal for another pipeline to occur during the sale. Hewitt is turned over to the DOJ as the second body, which stops the investigation into the merger and Leeland is honored as the “Oil Industry Man of the Year”. Meanwhile, Nasir is heading out to lead the coup and Bryan, who has been acting as an advisor, rides with him but when they are stopped by a large herd of goats, Bryan switches cars so that Nasir can ride with his family. Bob arrives in the Middle East and goes to intercept Nasir’s convoy, attempting to warn him of the assassination attempt but he is too late, as a drone strike blows up Nasir’s car, killing him and his family, and Bob as well. Meanwhile, Wasim and his friend have been radicallized and using a bomb fashioned from the anti-aircraft missile, pilot their boat towards a Connex-Killen oil tanker and blow it up. Bryan survives the blast and heads home to his family while funerals are arranged for Nasir, as well as Bob.

Syriana met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Ambitious, complicated, intellectual, and demanding of its audience, Syriana is both a gripping geopolitical thriller and wake-up call to the complacent.” George Clooney suffered a spinal injury during a stunt and, due to the weight he gained for the role, he was bedridden for a month and suffered migraines, causing him to miss out on doing promotional work for Ocean’s Twelve. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $94 million off of a $50 million budget

This is a good movie but I feel like it was made overly complicated and more confusing than it needed to be. The acting was good, with George Clooney (Bob) and Jeffrey Wright (Holiday) doing great jobs in their roles. Matt Damon (Bryan) was also good, though felt a little mechanical at times, while Alexander Siddig did a much better job portraying Nasir. The story was pretty good but all the different storylines that were going on made it a little confusing to follow, as they were forced to bounce around the different plots and couldn’t really focus on any one point for too long. The special effects and the drama were both effectively used throughout the movie and did help move things along, but the bouncing story line really did hurt it. A good movie but definitely something you will have to focus on in order to understand everything going on.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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comedy, drama, movie, movie review

December 25th, 2017 Movie – Swingers

swingers

You have to love those movies that seem to define a generation. Today’s movie is definitely one that seemed to resonate with my generation. I lost count of the number of times I have heard someone saying “That’s money!” or “Vegas, baby!” over the years. I will admit that it took me a while to get the references, as I didn’t end up seeing this movie until several years after it came out. Once I did, however, I decided to buy a copy of my own to keep so I could watch it whenever I wanted too. Now let’s have some fun with today’s movie, Swingers.

The plot: In Los Angeles, Mike Peters, a struggling comedian, is sitting in a diner with his friend Rob and complaining about how he misses his ex-girlfriend Michelle, who is still in New York. When he gets home, Mike contemplates calling Michelle but calls his friend Trent instead, who convinces Mike to go to Vegas with him. When they get there, Mike immediately loses $200 on a high stakes blackjack table and heads down to a lower risk table for the rest of the night, where he manages to get some of it back. After collecting his night’s winnings, Mike wants to go home but Trent convinces him to stay by talking with a waitress, Christy, and asking her to get a friend and go out for drinks with them when her shift ends. The two meet up with Christy and her friend Lisa and Christy invites them back to her place, where she ends up hooking up with Trent while Mike talks with Lisa about his ex, then interrupts Trent and Christy so he can use Christy’s phone to call Michelle. The two leave Vegas and end up talking on the side of the highway, where Trent tries to convince Mike that he needs to get over Michelle as he is better off without her. Mike hangs out with Rob, Trent, and their friends Sue and Charles, where they decide to head out to a Hollywood party. At the party, Mike attempts to pick up a girl, with Rob acting as his wingman but he gets shot down as he doesn’t drive an expensive enough car for the girls’ tastes. Meanwhile, Trent manages to get a girls phone number but then immediately rips it up as he walks away from the girl, causing the guys to chastise him. They leave the party and head to a club for some cocktails, where Mike actually ends up hitting on a girl named Nikki and getting her number. As they are leaving, some guys bump into Sue and they end up arguing and as things start getting heated, Sue pulls out a gun and chases off the men. The other guys chastise Sue over his actions, with Rob and Charles leaving, and Mike walking away in anger after Sue calls him out for how he has been pining over Michelle for 6 months. When Mike gets home, he ends up calling Nikki and leaves her several messages until she eventually picks up and tells him to not call her again. Mike is feeling depressed and considers moving back to New York but Rob comes over and talks him out of it, telling him how he actually is doing good for himself right now. Mike decides to go hang out with Trent and finds him and Sue playing video games with the guys that they got into the argument with at the club. Sue says that they ran into them the next night and apologized and realized they had a lot in common and started hanging out. Sue then apologizes for what he said to Mike and they patch things up. Mike, Trent, and Sue head out to a dance club and while they are there, Mike notices a girl at the bar and begins talking to her. He learns that her name is Lorraine and she is in a similar situation as him and she asks him if things get better. Lorraine asks Mike to dance and they end up heading out onto the dance floor, with Trent and Sue happily watching their friend. Afterwards, Mike walks Lorraine and they make plans to get together again and as they are eating breakfast, Trent and Sue congratulate Mike on seeming to be getting his life back on track. The next day, Mike receives a call from Michelle and he starts to talk with her but when he gets a call from Lorraine, he hangs up on Michelle so he can focus on building a relationship with Lorraine.

Swingers was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, ” Funny, heartfelt, and effortlessly cool, Swingers made stars out of Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, established Doug Liman as a director to watch.” The scene where Mike and Trent were talking on the side of the freeway was actually done illegally, as the crew not only did not have a permit but filming is not allowed on that particular highway. Doug Liman decided to shoot anyways, even when police showed up, and covered it up by leaving the camera running while not looking through the viewfinder, and using a microphone in the car instead of a boom mike. The movie was a box office hit, earning $4.6 million off of a $200,000 budget and helped launch the careers of Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Rob Livingston and director Doug Liman.

This is a great movie to watch. Jon Favreau (Mike), Vince Vaughn (Trent), and Rob Livingston (Rob) were all great in their roles, as was Heather Graham in her brief role as Lorraine. The story was well written, with Favreau adding a lot of realism to the script by using his own experiences from when he first moved to L.A., where he had broken up with his own girlfriend before the move and his friends helped him get over it. The music in the movie was pretty good, being a mixture of classic 40’s and 60’s swing/lounge music with some more modern music from the mid-late 90’s swing revival, a revival that coincided with the release of the movie (though there is no direct correlation between the two). A great movie and definitely one that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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drama, movie, movie review, thriller

December 24th, 2017 Movie – Swimfan

swimfan

So, I have a lot of movie. Pretty sure that goes without saying at this point. Now the thing about having so many movies is that they have a tendency to trigger various memories; whether it is of watching the movie itself or something that reminds me of it. If you are wondering what that has to do with today’s movie, the simple answer is that I have no memory of this movie. I don’t remember getting this movie and the only thing I can think of to explain how I came about owning it is that it is a movie left behind by my ex in the divorce. Well, guess I have to figure that out another day as right now, I need to watch today’s movie, Swimfan.

The plot: Ben Cronin is a star swimmer for his high school swim team and when he shows up for practice, his coach informs him that scouts for Stanford will be at the next meet. Josh tells his friends, who all congratulate him though his rival Josh says he might steal all the attention when he races. Afterwards, Ben talks with his girlfriend Amy about the situation, as she plans on going to college in Rhode Island and is worried about what the distance will do to their relationship, even considering switching schools and attending Berkley so they can stay close together. Later that day, Ben helps out Madison Bell, a new student that just transferred there. The next day, Ben almost hits Madison with his car and after apologizing, gives her a ride home. When he gets home, Ben notices one Madison’s notebooks was left in his car and when he opens it, he finds it full of music notes, with his initials written on one of the pages. Ben heads over to give Madison her notebook back, awkwardly talking to her cousin Christoper Dante, who is also a classmate, before she shows up and asks to go get some food. The two head out to a diner and Ben ends up telling her about how he used to be involved with drugs and stealing until a short stint in juvie helped him straighten out. Ben tells her that he has a girlfriend but says Josh would happily go out with her but she says she isn’t interested in Josh. Ben wants to take her home but she convinces him to take her back to the school pool, and they end up having sex in the pool. Afterwards, Ben takes her home and they agree to keep it their secret and just be friends. The next day, Ben is already feeling guilty about what happened after talking with Amy on the phone, and oversleeping and missing morning practice. That night, Ben goes to a party at Amy’s house and Amy introduces him to her new friend, which happens to be Madison. Ben tries to avoid her but Madison continues to heavily flirt with him and tells her that she left her panties in his truck, prompting Ben to race outside and stop Amy from moving his truck. Madison continues stalking Ben, sending him emails and instant messages on his computer and pager, all of which cause Ben to start doing poorly in practice, causing his coach to chastise him. One day, Ben comes home to find Madison in his home talking with his mom and he asks his mom how long she has been there. Feeling like the situation is getting out of hand, Ben is surprised to find his inbox full of emails from Madison, some of them containing nude pictures she sent him. Ben is further confused when he sees Madison at swim practice, but she has apparently started dating Josh. Some time later, Ben is leaving practice to go to work when Madison approaches him and asks if she did anything wrong and not to worry about Josh but Ben says he is trying to stay away from her but she doesn’t seem to be getting the hint. While at work volunteering at the hospital his mom works at, Ben is passing out medicine to the patients when one of them goes into cardiac arrest. Ben swears he checked the meds at the nurse’s station and that someone must have switched the meds in his cart but he is still fired from his job. Ben races back to school and confronts Madison, telling her to stay away from him and not to contact him anymore. He then heads to Amy’s work to try and talk to her but she is busy and says they will talk before class in the morning, unaware that Madison is watching them. The next day, Ben goes to talk with Amy but finds her in tears and she slaps him, and he learns that Madison already told Amy about sleeping with him. Feeling ostracized from his friends, Ben tries to patch things up with Amy but she refuses to see him. The day of the big swim meet, Ben is pulled from the line-up as his pre-race urine sample tested positive for steroids. Seeing that Madison had disappeared from the crowd, Ben confronts Josh, thinking he helped her but Josh shoves him into the pool and says he is losing it. When Ben gets home, his mom asks if he is using drugs again and Ben says he isn’t and asks that she leave him alone so he can try to get his life back on track. He goes to see Amy and tries to tell her everything but she doesn’t believe him and asks that he leave. Meanwhile, Madison and Josh are making out but when Madison accidentally calls out Ben’s name by mistake, Josh realizes Ben was right about Madison and leaves her. The next day, Ben goes swimming in the school pool and finds Josh’s body floating in it and Ben is suspected of killing him due to his past. Trying to prove his innocence, Ben sneaks into Madison’s room and discovers steroids as well as a collection of items and newspaper clippings dedicated to him. Christopher finds Ben in Madison’s room and quickly drags Ben into his room and hands him a book before having him leave out the window so that Madison doesn’t find him. Back in his truck, Ben finds the book contians clippings about a man named Jake Donnelly and Christopher meets with Ben and takes him to New York to see Jake. Ben finds Jake is in an assisted living facility, completely comatose and learns that Jake was in a car crash but his girlfriend survived without a scratch. While Ben is gone, Madison steals Ben’s keys to his truck and uses it to run Amy off the road after school. Ben’s mother pages him and when he calls her, she tells him about Amy and how the police are looking for him. Ben tries to warn her to keep Madison away from Amy but the time runs out on his quarter. At the hospital, Madison is posing as a doctor and heads towards Amy’s room, intending to kill her, but she pauses when she hears Jake Donnelly’s name being paged to come to the nurses station. When Madison gets there, she sees someone wearing Jake’s jacket and thinks it is him but when she follows him out to the parking garage, she discovers that it is really Christopher in disguise. When she goes to kill him, Ben stops her and threatens to kill her but she says she knows he won’t kill her. When Madison says that she killed Josh and tried to kill Amy for them, Ben reveals that he had his friends tape her confession, which they give to the police. Madison is taken away by the police but as they are stopped at a railroad crossing, Madison grabs the gun from the cop in the back with her and proceeds to kill the police. Since her parents are out of town, Amy is taken to Ben’s house to recuperate and Ben apologizes for his actions harming her. When he hears the doorbell ring, Ben goes to answer it but finds nobody there. When he heads back inside the house, he sees his mom lying on the kitchen floor just before someone knocks him out. When he comes too, Ben checks to make sure his mother is still alive, then goes to check on Amy only to find her missing. Ben goes looking for her and Madison and finds them at the pool, with Madison having chained Amy to a chair. Madison demands that Ben tell Amy that he loves Madison instead of her and when he refuses, she pushes Amy into the pool. Ben dives in to rescue her, and picks the lock on the handcuffs so he can bring her back to the surface. Madison attempts to attack Ben with a pool skimmer but he grabs the handle and drags her into the pool. Madison attempts to grab onto Ben, as she can’t swim, but Ben is easily able to avoid her and drags Amy out of the pool and revives her, leaving Madison to drown. Some time later, Ben watches a swim meet as a spectator, then heads out to his truck, where he joins Amy and they head off to start a new life together.

Swimfan was panned by the critics, holding a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A Fatal Attraction rip-off, Swimfan is a predictable, mediocre thriller.” Except for the scenes inside Madison’s house, all of the scenes in the movie had a light blue tint added to them, to simulate being under water. Despite the poor reviews, the movie was a box office success, earning $34.4 million off of a $10 million budget, nearly a third of it coming from it’s opening weekend, where it was #1 at the box office.

I think this movie could be considered an accurate representation of everything that is bad with teenagers. This really is a bad movie. The acting was terrible, with everyone being completely shallow and really displaying no real character development. Speaking of shallow, that is pretty much exactly what the plot was; a very shallow attempt at trying to make a compelling thriller but falling on it’s face. Everything was so predictable that I actually fell asleep at one point watching this because it was soo boring. The lighting for the movie, with the blue tint everywhere, was actually kind of interesting but not enough to help this movie. In the ocean of movies out there to watch, do yourself a favor and swim on past this one.

Rating: 1 out of 5

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drama, horror, movie, movie review, musical

December 23rd, 2017 Movie – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street

sweeney todd

My apologies for the lateness of today’s post as, due to the holiday craziness, I had to go into work today. Anyways, today’s movie is one that I honestly wasn’t all that interested in seeing. Now, that may come as a surprise to most people because this seems like it would be right up my alley and normally you would be right. However, I am not really much of a fan of musicals in general and have to be in the right frame of mind to want to watch one. Still, I had several friends telling me that this was a good movie and I would enjoy it so I decided to go ahead and pick up a copy of it during the Blockbuster binge. Now let’s see if they were right as I watch today’s movie, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street.

The plot: In Victorian London, Sweeney Todd arrives in town, accompanied by a young sailor named Anthony Hope. Anthony is excited about being in London but Todd is more melancholy about it and warns Anthony that London can be a treacherous place; telling him a story about a man named Benjamin Barker, who had been falsely accused of a crime by a judge so that the judge could seduce Barker’s wife Lucy. The two soon part ways and Todd makes his way down Fleet Street to Mrs. Lovett’s meat pie shop, where he used to have his shop on the second floor. When Todd enters the shop, Mrs. Lovett gives him a meat pie, warning him that they are “the worst meat pies in London”, then has him follow her to get a drink to wash the taste out of his mouth. Todd asks about the shop up the stairs and Mrs. Lovett tells him that it is empty, as most people say it is haunted. She tells him that after Barker was exiled, Judge Turpin continuously came round the shop to try and woo Lucy but she refused him. One day, Turpin sent his henchman, Beadle Bamford, to bring Lucy to him, under the pretense of their being a mistake in Barker’s case and he might be set free. When Lucy arrives at Turpin’s house, she finds a party going on and is given a drink and Turpin proceeds to rape her as the other party-goers laugh. Hearing this, Todd gets enraged and Mrs. Lovett recognizes him as Barker. When Todd asks about Lucy, Mrs. Lovett says she drank arsenic and killed herself after the rape and that Barker’s daughter, Johanna, was adopted and raised by Turpin, prompting Todd to swear revenge on those that wronged him. Mrs. Lovett takes Todd upstairs to his old shop, which Todd hesitantly enters, and gives him his old straight razors, which she had hidden underneath the floorboards as she has long felt an unrequited love for Barker. Meanwhile, Anthony is wandering around London when he sees Johanna sitting at her window sill and becomes enamored with her. As he stares up at her, a homeless woman asks him for some change and he hands her some, then asks about the house and the woman inside. The woman quickly leaves as Turpin opens the door and invites Anthony inside, where he threatens Anthony and warns him to stay away from Johanna before having Bamford throw Anthony out of the house. The next day, Mrs. Lovett takes Todd to a market, where an Italian barber by the name of Adolfo Pirelli is selling hair tonic with the help of his assistant Tobias “Toby” Ragg. When Todd calls the tonic a fake and challenges Adolfo to a shaving contest, asking Bamford, who had been wandering the market, to serve as judge. Todd wins the contest and as he thanks Bamford, he invites him to his shop, offering a free shave when he visits. Meanwhile, Anthony continues to watch Johanna from the street and Johanna appears to return his interest, unaware that Turpin is watching Johanna from secret spy holes in the house. As Todd gets impatient for Bamford to show up, and makes his plans for Turpin, Anthony shows up and asks Todd for his help. Anthony explains that he has fallen for Johanna and wishes to save her from the man that keeps her and tells them that Johanna had dropped a key out her window so he can help her escape. Since he doesn’t know anybody in town except for Todd, he asks if he can bring Johanna here for a a few hours while he arranges transport out of the city, not knowing that Johanna is Todd’s daughter, and Todd says yes. After Anthony leaves, Todd and Mrs. Lovett see Adolfo and Toby approaching the shop and Mrs. Lovett heads down to head them off, then invites Toby to have a meat pie while Adolfo speaks with Todd. Inside Todd’s shop, Adolfo reveals that his name is really Davy Collins and he threatens to reveal to Bamford that Todd is really Barker, as Davy used to be Todd’s assistant when he was a boy. As Davy continues to threaten to blackmail Todd, Todd knocks him unconscious with a tea kettle, then hides the body in his trunk when Toby goes to check on him. After Toby leaves, Todd opens the trunk and as Davy starts to climb out, Todd quickly slits his throat with a razor. Meanwhile, Turpin has finished court and as he is walking home, he tells Bamford that he plans on marrying Johanna. Bamford congratulates him and after commenting on Turpin’s stubble, recommends he go see Todd for a shave. Meanwhile, Mrs. Lovett goes to check on Todd and is shocked to learn that he killed Adolfo but when she learns that he tried to blackmail Todd, she is ok with it. Todd wants to kill Toby as well but Mrs. Lovett convinces him to let Toby help her in the shop. Suddenly, Todd sees Turpin and Bamford approaching the shop and he has Mrs. Lovett quickly leave while he makes sure to hide any evidence of Davy’s murder before Turpin walks in. Turpin is not impressed with Todd’s shop but as Bamford recommended him, asks Todd to give him a shave, then tells Todd that he plans to marry his ward. Todd proceeds to shave Turpin but as he prepares to slit his throat, Anthony bursts in and tells Todd that Johanna has agreed to elope with him, not realizing Turpin was sitting there. Turpin angrily tells Anthony that he will never see Johanna again before telling Todd he will never enter his shop again. An enraged Todd yells at Anthony to get out of his shop, then rants to Mrs. Lovett about going on a killing spree when Mrs. Lovett asks what they should do about Gary’s body. Todd says they should wait until it is late and go bury the body but Mrs. Lovett suddenly thinks it is a waste of good meat and they decide to use the bodies as part of her pies. Back at Turpin’s home, Turpin confronts Johanna, who is packing a bag to elope with Anthony, and has Bamford send her away. Anthony sees Johanna being forced into a carriage and yells at Turpin to tell him where she is going before he chases off after it. Back at his shop, Todd fashions a swivel chair connected to a trap door, so that after he kills his victims, they can be dropped down into the basement, where Mrs. Lovett proceeds to place them in her meat furnace. With the influx of fresh meat, Mrs. Lovett’s shop begins to prosper but she is constantly throwing the homeless woman out, who has taken a serious interest in the shop. Sometime later, Mrs. Lovett takes Todd on a picnic and explains her wish to take him away to the seaside and get married but Todd is still focused on getting his revenge on Turpin. Meanwhile, Anthony has discovered Johanna has been placed in an insane asylum and goes to Todd to ask for his help in getting her out. Todd tells Anthony to pose as a wig-maker’s assistant in order to get access, as wigs are made from the hair shaved off the inmates, and Anthony happily leaves. Todd then writes a letter to Turpin, telling him that Johanna will be at his shop that night and asks Toby to deliver it to Turpin. Toby does so and when he returns, he voices his suspicions of Todd to Mrs. Lovett and promises to protect her. When he sees that Mrs. Lovett has Pirelli’s purse, he tells her they have to leave, as he believes Todd is dangerous, but she calms him down and says she won’t let anything happen to him. Mrs. Lovett then tells Toby that she will show him how to ake the meat pies and takes him down to the basement. Down there, she explains the smell away as coming from the sewers, then shows him how to use the oven and operate the grinder and leaves him down there before heading back upstairs. She tells Todd about Toby but before they can head downstairs, they are confronted by Bamford, who is there due to complaints about the smell coming from Mrs. Lovett’s chimney. Todd convinces Bamford to go upstairs with him to get cleaned up, unaware that the homeless woman is watching him. In the basement, Toby discovers the bodies and is shocked when Bamford’s corpse falls from the trap door so he hides as Todd and Mrs. Lovett enter the basement looking for him. Meanwhile, Anthony had used Todd’s idea and is able to free Johanna and they head back to the shop, with Johanna disguised as a sailor. Finding the shop empty, Anthony has Johanna wait there while he goes to get a coach and after he leaves, Johanna begins examining the Todd’s pictures and razors. When the homeless woman enters the shop, Johanna quickly hides in Todd’s chest to avoid being seen. Todd finds the woman in his shop and asks who she is and the woman asks if she knows him when Tod hears Turpin’s voice calling out to him from below. Todd quickly kills the woman and dumps her body down the trap door before Turpin enters. Todd then tells Turpin that Johanna has seen the error of her ways and will be there to go home with him. Todd then convinces Turpin to let him shave him and once he has Turpin in his chair, he reveals his identity to him before stabbing him repeatedly in the throat and sending him down the trap door. As Todd feels his task is finished, he hears the chest open and he sees the disguised Johanna staring at him. Todd grabs her and, not recognizing his daughter, is about to kill her when he hears Mrs. Lovett scream and he tells her to forget his face before heading downstairs. When he enters the basement, he goes to help Mrs. Lovett deal with the bodies but as she opens the bakehouse oven, the light from the fire falls onto the body of the homeless woman. Todd stares at her and realizes the homeless woman was Lucy, and Mrs. Lovett had lied about her being dead in order to keep Todd to herself. Todd pretends to forgive her and asks her to dance with him but as they dance, he throws her into the over and burns her alive. Todd then goes to Lucy’s body and cradles her as he weeps when Toby, who had been hiding in the sewers, emerges and quickly slits Todd’s throat before leaving, leaving Todd to bleed to death over Lucy’s body.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Full of pith and Grand Guignol grossness, this macabre musical is perfectly helmed and highly entertaining. Tim Burton masterfully stages the musical in a way that will make you think he has done this many times before.” Helena Bonham Carter was pregnant with her and Tim Burton’s second child while filming this and complained about how the size of her breasts noticeably changes during the movie, as the filming was done out of sequence. The movie was a box office success, earning $152.5 million off of a $50 million budget and garnered several awards, including an Academy Award for Best Art Direction, as well as a Best Actor nomination for Johnny Depp.

My friends were right, this was a good movie. The acting/singing was really good, with Johnny Depp (Todd), Helena Bonham Carter (Lovett), Alan Rickman (Turpin), and Jamie Campbell Bower (Anthony) all did a good job in both their roles and their singing. I really liked the story as it did a good job of explaining everyone’s character and motivations for their actions. The special effects regarding the blood and deaths were a little over the top but I felt like that was a good thing in keeping with the musical aspect of the movie. Meanwhile, the dark lighting, set designs, and costumes only made the contrast of the blood (and there was a lot of blood) that much sharper, which added more of an impact to the deaths themselves. I know musicals aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and neither are horror movies, but this is a pretty good combination of both that is well worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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adventure, crime, drama, movie, movie review

December 22nd, 2017 Movie – Swamp Women

swamp women

Just when you thought we were getting out of the swamp, another movie pulls us back in. Today’s movie is an early work from Roger Corman, and one of the movies that gave him the nickname “King of the B-Movies.” I remember seeing this on MST3K years ago and thinking that it was just terrible. I ended up owning this movie when I bought a box set of Roger Corman movies a few years ago. Let’s see how bad it is without Joel and the bots cracking jokes during it as I watch today’s movie, Swamp Women.

The plot: In New Orleans, a geologist named Bob Matthews is wandering around Mardi Gras with his friend Marie and tells her about a plot of land he is testing for oil out in the swamp. The two encounter a pickpocket named Charlie and Bob manages to catch him and turn him over to police to be booked. As Charlie is being booked, Lt. Lee Hampton is talking with Captain J.R. Goodrich about the missing diamond from a heist. Goodrich decides to send Lee undercover into prison, where she is supposed to get close to the women who stole the diamonds and go with them when they escape, in the hopes they will lead her to the diamonds. Inside the prison, Lee is made roommates with the diamond robbers, Josie Nardo, Vera, and Billie, and tells them she knows how to get out of the prison and has someone leaving a car for her. She will take them with her if they give her a cut of the diamonds. Wanting to get out of prison, the three women decide to go along with the plan and after climbing over the fence, they find the car just where Lee said it would be. As Lee is driving away, Josie is giving her directions to where they stashed some clothes and weapons and then they head out into the swamp to retrieve the diamonds only to have their boat spring a leak on them. Suddenly, they see a boat, with Bob, Marie, and a driver inside, heading towards them and they flag it down. When Vera tries to force them out of the boat, she ends up shooting the driver but before she can kill the others, Lee stops her and wrestles the gun from her. After Bob and Marie are taken out of the boat, Vera attacks Lee before Josie breaks it up and asks Lee why she stopped Vera from killing them. Lee says that they could be useful in case they run into trouble and Josie agrees to the idea. As they make their way down the swamp, Vera continues to pick fights with Lee, while Billie starts flirting with Bob. As they make camp for the night, the girls start talking about what they will do with their shares of the diamonds. At some point during the night, Billie attempts to seduce Bob but Vera grabs her and the two start fighting until Josie breaks them up. The next morning, Marie attempts to steal the boat but when Josie spots her and shoots at her, she ends up falling into the water. Lee jumps in to try and save her and Bob convinces Josie to free his hands so that he can help but they are too late as an alligator ends up eating her. When they make camp for the night, Lee secretly approaches Bob to check on him and he tells her he knows she isn’t like the others and kisses her but Lee pushes him away quickly as Vera approaches. After they keep making their way through the swamp, they eventually reach the spot where the diamonds are buried and Josie, Vera, and Billie quickly hop out of the boat to dig them up. Lee checks on Bob, then heads over to help and they soon find the chest and Josie shoots off the lock. Vera and Billie end up fighting over the diamonds and Josie breaks it up, threatening to kill them both if they don’t get it together. After making camp for the night, Vera quietly grabs the guns from the other girls while they are sleeping and then grabs the diamonds. She then approaches Bob and convinces him to go with her, threatening to shoot him if he refuses, and they quietly leave camp. When the others wake up and discover their guns and the diamonds are missing, Josie is curious about why Vera didn’t take the boat and figures that Vera wants them to follow after her so she can kill them. They eventually find Vera perched in a tree, with Bob tied up to the base of it, and Josie comes up with a plan. Fashioning a spear to use, Josie has Lee and Billie distract Vera, allowing her to throw the spear at Vera. As the girls distract Vera, a rattlesnake approaches Bob and threatens to bite him. Vera sees the snake and goes to shoot it when she is struck by the spear but she still manages to kill the snake before falling dead from the tree. The girls grab Bob and the diamonds and continue making their way out of the swamp, Josie starts getting suspicious of Lee’s refusal to kill anyone and decides to test her by telling her to kill Bob, with Billie agreeing with Josie. When Lee argues she doesn’t want to use a gun as it would attract attention, Josie pulls out her knife and plans to kill Bob but Lee begins fighting with her. Billie attempts to shoot Lee but Bob slams into her, throwing off her shot. Lee and Bob manage to knock out the two crooks and embrace and as a police boat shows up, Bob says he will stand by her side as they approach it.

Wow, this really is a bad movie. The acting was incredibly stiff and honestly pretty bad all around. The story was pretty basic but the execution of it just seemed to jump around all over the place. The lighting was pretty annoying as I know some aspects were supposed to be in the night but it was still daylight. The fight scenes between the women were pretty poorly choreographed to be honest and some of the other effects felt lacking. I did think the interjecting of wildlife footage, such as the alligators and birds in the swamp, was actually pretty good, but the scene with the rattlesnake next to Bob looked incredibly fake when compared to the footage of the snake on it’s own. I love Corman films but even I have to admit that this is one better watched while it is being “riffed”.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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