Review

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: "SISTER" ACT

By Brian Lafferty

 

September 9, 2011 (San Diego) – Mozart’s Sister is the year’s leading candidate for the year’s dullest film. During the two hour running time I counted only three instances of mental stimulation and they were as brief as they could get. This is one of those movies in which there is absolutely nothing to think about.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: DISEASE THE DAY


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: "BELLFLOWER" POWER

By Brian Lafferty

 

September 2, 2011 (San Diego) – Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali. David Lynch’s Eraserhead. Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead. Kevin Smith’s Clerks. What does Evan Glodell’s Bellflower have in common with all these films? They are all great movies shot on shoestring budgets.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: THE "INVISIBLE" TOUCH


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HOME VIDEO HERALD: RIO

By Brian Lafferty

 

August 24, 2011 (San Diego) – The story is formulaic. The voice acting is rarely expressive. The musical numbers are largely forgettable except for one that will play on a loop in your head for a few days after you watch it. But nevermind. I sat in amazement while watching the Blu-Ray of Rio, not wanting to blink lest I miss a single frame of the animation.


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HOME VIDEO HERALD: HEARTS OF THE WEST


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HOME VIDEO HERALD: THE WOMAN ON THE BEACH

By Brian Lafferty

 

August 24, 2011 (San Diego) – The first five minutes of The Woman on the Beach are ominous, spellbinding and foreboding. Hanns Eisler’s booming and menacing score accompany the opening credits. The frame is backdropped with shots of the alluring beach and its forceful, foamy, and frothy tide. It’s a simple sequence of shots, but they’re chilling.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: "ONE DAY" AT A TIME


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: WHISTLEBLOWIN' IN THE WIND

By Brian Lafferty

 

August 15, 2011 (San Diego) – The subject of sex trafficking is a serious one. Here in San Diego, teenage girls are taken by gangs and forced to become sex slaves. This subject deserves a better exploration and treatment than that seen in The Whistleblower, a film that is nothing more than 35-millimeter TV.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: GRAND "TREE"


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HOME VIDEO HERALD: DARK OF THE SUN


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: GOING APE

By Brian Lafferty

 

August 5, 2011 (San Diego) – The original Planet of the Apes was a thoughtful, intelligent commentary on the human race. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is an ambitious but mostly mindless prequel that is yet another entry in the “changing things that aren’t meant to be changed” genre.

 


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HOME VIDEO HERALD: SUCKER PUNCH

By Brian Lafferty

 

July 15, 2011 (San Diego) – Sucker Punch is what happens when you give Zack Snyder carte blanche to do whatever he wants. 300 was my first exposure to Snyder. It wasn’t a masterpiece, or even a great movie, but if you were looking for a good sword and sandal epic with lots of slicing, dicing, and blood, then you couldn’t miss.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: TWO FOR THE ROAD

By Brian Lafferty

 

July 9, 2011 (San Diego) – The Trip is a Reader’s Digest condensed version of the hit British TV sitcom of the same name. Normally sitcoms and cinema go as well together as peanut butter and mayonnaise. Director Michael Winterbottom reverses this trend with a film that makes a smooth transition from the small screen to the big screen.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: A SOLEMN AFTERNOON

By Brian Lafferty

 

June 24, 2011 (San Diego) – 3 Backyards tackles one of my favorite movie subjects: A seemingly quaint, picturesque small town that masks a dark undercurrent. This foreboding, unsettling subtext is displayed in the opening title sequence, which is set against an ironic canvas of woods, houses, cats, and hummingbirds,

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: SEXUAL REELING

By Brian Lafferty

 

June 20, 2011 (San Diego) – If Henry Jaglom made a movie about a young man’s sexual discoveries the result might have been something like Twelve Thirty. Jaglom didn’t direct it, but it feels like a Jaglom film. It’s talky, self-indulgent, shot with a handheld camera, and is a supposed deep character study. All that's missing are David Proval, Zack Norman, and a liberal use of the zoom lens.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: STARK RAVING NOMAD

By Brian Lafferty

 

June 18, 2011 (San Diego) – After watching Korkoro I fondly recalled the stories of my Uncle John and “the Gypsies.” When my sisters were little, he would warn them about the Gypsies and how they wouldn’t hesitate to snatch them while they slept. If you left root beer outside, maybe my sisters would have a fighting chance.

 

If only Korkoro was as interesting as these stories.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: MEDITATION OF LIFE

By Brian Lafferty

 

June 10, 2011 (San Diego) – The Tree of Life isn’t merely a movie. To call it an experience would be putting it mildly. It’s films like this that make me say, “This is why I go to the movies.” Only one other movie elicited such a response from me since I’ve been a film critic and it happened to be the best film of 2010: Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: THE SPIRIT IS FULFILLING

By Brian Lafferty

 

June 3, 2011 (San Diego) – Ever since my mother died there have been times when I've imagined my mother’s spirit being around me. I fantasize being able to speak to her, telling her how I feel, asking her what it’s like on the other side.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: "HENRY'S CRIME" IS AMBITIOUS BUT LITTLE WORTH THE TIME

By Brian Lafferty

 

May 20, 2011 (San Diego) – There are terrible bad movies and there are good bad movies. The worst bad movies are devoid of any ambition. Those tend to be the most offensive. With good bad movies, I at least get the sense that the filmmakers tried to make a good movie, even if they didn’t succeed.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: TIREPOWER - FREEWHEELING TALE OF KILLER TIRE LOADED WITH DARK HUMOR

By Brian Lafferty

 

May 21, 2011 (San Diego) – Rubber is a portmanteau of the films of Luis Buñuel, David Cronenberg’s Scanners, and the road movie. It requires not only the largest suspension of disbelief but it necessitates putting any attempt at logic back into the furthest reaches of your mind. It is an utterly ridiculous movie but I enjoyed it for exactly that reason.

 


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NETFLIX STREAMING PICK OF THE WEEK: OVER THIRTY YEARS LATER, "SUPERMAN" STILL A MOVIE OF STEEL

By Brian Lafferty

 

May 9, 2011 (San Diego) – In my review of Thor, I wrote that X-Men (2000) established the Marvel comic book movie formula commonplace in the last decade. It couldn’t have done it without this week’s Netflix Streaming Pick of the Week. That movie is Superman (1978), the prototype for the modern superhero movie.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: "THOR" THUNDERS ITS WAY TO THEATERS

By Brian Lafferty

 

May 6, 2011 (San Diego) – The good news: Thor delivers the goods you’d expect from a Marvel comic book movie. The not-really-bad-but-could-be-better news: Thor delivers the goods you’d expect from a Marvel comic book movie.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: LIFE'S NOT FAIR FOR "THE PRINCESS OF MONTPENSIER"

By Brian Lafferty

 

May 6, 2011 (San Diego) – The Princess of Montpensier is a movie that demands your utmost attention. I barely wrote down any notes out of fear I’d miss something important. The entire film hinges on every line of dialogue and every character’s actions. This likely explains why the two hour and nineteen minute running time flies by rapidly.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: GETTING LOST IN "MEEK'S CUTOFF"

By Brian Lafferty

 

May 6, 2011 (San Diego) – Looking at it one way, Meek’s Cutoff is an absorbing and spellbinding film. Looking another way, it can be aggressively boring. I viewed it from the former angle. Meek’s Cutoff presents one of the year’s biggest challenges so far to people’s attention spans. My severe ADHD, however, was no match for it.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: CHECKMATE! HOUSEWIFE FINDS HAPPINESS THROUGH CHESS IN "QUEEN TO PLAY"

By Brian Lafferty

 

April 29, 2011 (San Diego) – The great sportswriter Grantland Rice said, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” Queen to Play purports to be a film about a housewife in a mid-life crisis and stale marriage who finds happiness through chess. It then ends in a Big Game. The movie fails on both counts.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES DON'T GET LOST IN "INCENDIES'" MURKY PLOT

By Brian Lafferty

 

April 28, 2011 (San Diego) – For a movie nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2011 Oscars, Incendies is artistically and technically incompetent. Rarely have I sat through a movie feeling so bewildered and frustrated. The story is needlessly complicated but that’s not the real problem. It’s the ineptness of the screenwriter, casting director, and the cinematographer in telling this story.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: TWO KIDS GROW UP THE HARD WAY IN OSCAR WINNER "IN A BETTER WORLD"

By Brian Lafferty

 

April 8, 2011 (San Diego) – Up until the last ten to fifteen minutes I was ready to give In a Better World, 2011’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner, a mixed review. At the time I didn’t feel it was a bad movie but it wasn’t a good one, either.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: UNIQUE PREMISE TAKES CENTER STAGE IN "THE MUSIC NEVER STOPPED"

By Brian Lafferty

 

April 1, 2011 (San Diego) – The Music Never Stopped is a classic example of a good movie that could have been greater. The movie has an interesting premise but that’s all it is. It does some stuff with this premise but not as much as I wanted. I was never bored, and in the end I liked it, but I wish it could have done a lot more with the subject.

 


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ON THE SILVER SCREEN: NAZI OCCUPATION VIEWED THROUGH UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE IN "WINTER" TALE

By Brian Lafferty

 

April 1, 2011 (San Diego) – Director Martin Koolhoven says in the press notes that 1960s Italian spaghetti westerns inspired Winter in Wartime’s look. I didn’t see so much of that, or at least that didn’t run through my head as I watched it. Instead, I mostly saw another kind of influence, also from Italian cinema.

 


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