Archive for the 6 Category

Concussion: A Strong Team Doesn’t Quite Deliver on All Its Promise

Posted in 6, Drama, Ratings, Reviews with tags , , , , on February 5, 2016 by mducoing

ConcussionAmerica’s love affair with football is no secret. And the inherent violence in the sport, the almost obsessive need for bone-crushing crashes and heart-stopping groans at each down, is virtual law. It is with this in mind that Concussion enters our collective consciousness, the story of a much darker side of the beloved sport. And as the story of Dr. Bennett Omalu’s discovery of CTE, the specter that terrified the NFL unfolds on screen, audiences will find it hard to look away.

Premise: In Pittsburgh, accomplished pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu uncovers the truth about brain damage in professional football players who suffer repeated concussions in the course of normal play. Result: A fair but disjointed biopic.

Concussion follows the standard biopic formula, offering three basic story lines: first, the story itself, of CTE, the great medical discovery Omalu’s (Will Smith) makes after the madness and subsequent death toll of aging Pittsburgh Steelers players mounts. Next, we have Omalu’s victimization at the hands of the NFL and rabid Steelers fans apparently bent on his destruction and erasure from history. And then, of course, the depiction of Omalu as more than a doctor but as a man, with human needs met only by a woman that literally falls into his life.

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Spectre: Messy, Long and Boring Cover Up the Fun.

Posted in 6, Action, Drama, New Releases, Ratings, Reviews, Thriller with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2015 by mducoing

Spectre - IMDBCinematic Law: long and anxiously awaited sequels typically disappoint. Often catastrophically. While not every sequel is a plunge into the abyss (T2, Aliens are just two superiors films), these are often exceptions that prove the rule.

Spectre, while technically the fourth installment of the Daniel Craig Bond franchise, is often considered as the sequel to the mega-hit Skyfall, the final act to director Sam Mendes’ Bond Oeuvre. Viewed in this light, our mentioned cinematic law remains firmly intact.

Premise: Bond is on a trail to uncover a sinister organization at the heart of all his woes. Result: Disappointing.

Spectre finds Bond (Daniel Craig) -some time after M’s (Judi Dench) death- in Mexico City on the Day of the Dead, stalking a villain of some sort. A minor chase then ends with a thrilling helicopter battle above the crowded Zocalo resulting in the death of said villain.

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Jurassic World: Some Fun But Ultimately Dino-Meh (I Went There)

Posted in 6, Action, New Releases, Ratings, Reviews, Sci Fi/ Fantasy, Thriller with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2015 by mducoing

Jurassic WorldMore than 25 years since the original masterpiece Jurassic Park altered movie-going forever, the powers that be sought to capture that experience once more. With director Colin Trevorrow at the helm, the result in Jurassic World is certainly a box-office bonanza, if certainly nowhere near the impact of the original.

Instead, we are left with a fun, often spotty film that does little more for the franchise except (thankfully) improve on the dismal, repellent sequels so insulted fans years ago. And all it took was a few decades.

Premise: Finally John Hammond’s vision of a park where humans and Dinosaurs might co-exist is realized. But the park’s newest attraction -a genetically modified horror-escapes and goes on a killing spree. Result: A film that was fun but more ambitious than it was competent.

Decades after the disaster first befell Jurassic park, science and money have perfected the shortcomings of the original efforts and opened up Jurassic World where John Hammond’s true vision has been realized: a dino-theme-park the whole family can enjoy. Run by mysterious eccentric Misrani (Irrfan Khan) and kept profitable by Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the park has been experiencing some unforeseen obstacles: people have grown bored of dinosaurs.

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Unfriended: Technology-Driven Horror and Fairly Interesting. Fairly.

Posted in 6, Horror, Ratings, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on May 17, 2015 by mducoing

Unfriended - IMDBDirector Levan Gabriadze and writer Nelson Greaves have delivered a routine entity/haunting horror film but with a twist. The entire film exists across multiple technology platforms that largely re-energize the typical found footage/ single-camera vantage point films with generally good results.

Premise: A group of friends meet online and find themselves haunted by a mysterious, supernatural force using the account of their dead friend. Result: While cliché on the surface, the clever and effective use of technology helps keep the film feeling fresh and frightening.

Blaire (Shelley Hennig) and Mitch (Moses Storm) as well as friends Jess (Renee Olstead), Adam (Will Peltz) and Ken (Jacob Wysocki) decide to Skype in one night, just like any other, to discuss weekend plans, gossip and to be “kids these days.” Their conversations move quickly and viewers can see, via Blaire’s computer, the multi-tasking nature of contemporary modern culture.

Of course, today also happens to be the anniversary of Lauara Barnes’ death, a student that took her own life one year earlier when video footage of her surfaced on the internet that ultimately ruined her reputation. And these fine, attention-span deficient teens happened to have been her friends.

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The Sacrament: Somewhat Unoriginal But Definitely a Step Forward

Posted in 6, Horror, Ratings, Reviews, Thriller with tags , , , , , , , on January 3, 2015 by mducoing

The SacramentWhile writer/director Ti West’s (The InnKeepers) new film, The Sacrament is not built upon a very original premise, the film is definitely more interesting and cogent than anything else he has delivered, marking a very positive, and promising step forward for the director. It also happens to be a fairly good time for audiences.

Premise: A newsteam travels to an undisclosed location to film a man find his missing sister. But “Eden Parish” and its community’s leader, are far from the paradise that is promised. Result: A slow boil terror film that does well as a suffocating nightmare rather than a shocker.

It is difficult to describe The Sacrament without first discussing the context of this film’s arrival. First, the premise of the story itself, of a cult manipulator on a compound, is based on actual tales – Jim Jones, David Koresh, etc.- and while this establishes sense of plausibility, it risks feeling “done” or “cliché”.

Second, this type of film has been done before, both peripherally and directly. Martha Marcy May Marlene focused largely on the psychological horrors of such a compound and did so expertly, with an elegance that is not present in The Sacrament. Further, VHS 2s vignette “Safe Haven” covers this premise quite directly, and is far more frightening.

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Big Eyes: Smaller Than Expected

Posted in 6, Drama, New Releases, Ratings, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2014 by mducoing

Big EyesDirector Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland, Sleepy Hollow), working with writing team Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, delivers the extraordinary story of Margaret Keane in a relatively ordinary way. All lead in with hardly any pay-off, this film –while generally a good time – misses big when it counts.

Premise: A drama about painter Margaret Keane’s personal awakening, after her then husband, Walter, attempts to take credit for her talent. Result: A fair film that struggles and ultimately tumbles with too much build up without the right resolution.

This is the story of an artist struggling to find herself her voice in a man’s world. Set in the late 1950s and into the 60s, Margaret Ulbrich (Amy Adams), a recently divorced mother flees an oppressive husband and lands herself in San Francisco, with only her daughter Jane and her childhood friend DeeAnn (Krysten Ritter) for support.

Margaret sits on a tremendous talent: the facility to paint “big eyed” waifs, a tantalizing image that haunts the screen. But she is woefully undiscovered and it is not until she meets Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), that her luck begins to change.

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Stonehearst Asylum: Some Fright, Mostly Fair.

Posted in 6, Drama, Horror, New Releases, Ratings, Reviews, Romance, Thriller with tags , , , , , , , on December 24, 2014 by mducoing

Stonehearst AsylumDirector Brad Anderson (Session 9, The Machinist) is a master of the subtle, languid stench of terror, slowly seducing his audiences rather than shocking them. No different, if a bit weaker, is his latest film, a fair adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe short story by Joe Gangemi.

Premise: A young doctor takes a position at a mental facility but soon finds that something very wrong has taken place there. Result: A mediocre representation of a good Poe story, suffering from some overly ponderous delivery and a bizarre resolution.

Edward Newgate (Jim Sturgess) arrives at Stonehearst Asylum, a remote hospital for the mentally ill, long ago when mental illness was as much a mystery as a crime. He is a doctor, come to learn about this human condition from one of the more renowned thinkers on the subject, the head of the facility, a Dr. Salt.

But, of course, in this facility, and in the heart of a Poe story, nothing is what it seems. Soon, Newgate comes to realize that Dr. Salt is not Dr. Salt at all, but Silas Lamb (Ben Kingsley), an inmate that with a rebel force, has taken over the Asylum from the real Dr. Salt (Michael Caine), locking the real staff in the basement.

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