COMING SOON...

COMING SOON...

BLACK VENUS, IT, THE NAVIGATOR: A MEDIEVAL ODYSSEY, TIDELAND, BLUE BLOODS SEASON 8, NCIS SEASON 15, BLOODY SPEAR OF MOUNT FUJI, BULL DURHAM and DUCKMAN THE COMPLETE SERIES

Monday, August 20, 2018

AVENGERS-INFINITY WAR: THE WAR BEGINS



I will admit to feeling a certain amount of joy the first time I watched THE AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. Having just watched it a second time I can let those who felt the same that it holds just as much impact the second time around. No doubt it will on repeated viewings as well. It is that good of a movie.

If you’ve been a fan of the Marvel movies based on the comics from the same company then you’ll already know what some may not, that every single movie released to date has led to this point in time, to this very film. Hints of things to come were dropped like breadcrumbs along the way with each becoming more revelatory the closer we got. If you haven’t been watching them then by all means go back and start with the first, IRON MAN, before watching this. It’s not that you won’t enjoy it watching it on its own but you’ll miss so much of what takes place. Warning there are a few spoilers in this review.

The film opens aboard a spaceship last seen in THOR: RAGNAROK which holds the remnants of Asgard. The evil plunderer of the Universe, Thanos (Josh Brolin), holds Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in his grasp and has beaten him in search of the second jewel he seeks, the Space Stone, having already found the first one, the Power Stone. Presented the stone by Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) he kills Loki and heads out to find the next stone. Also on board is the Hulk who too is beaten by Thanos but who escapes with the help of Heimdall (Idris Elba).

Thanos has had a glove made specifically for his singular purpose, to collect all 6 of the Infinity Stones. With all of them combined (missing yet are the Time Stone, the Mind Stone, the Reality Stone and the Soul Stone) it will provide Thanos with the power to alter reality and time itself, to control all things. His goal is to eliminate half of the population of the universe with the intent of “saving it” from overpopulation as resources dwindle. In his twisted mind he is to be considered a hero rather than someone responsible for mass genocide.

Hulk, now in the form of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) crashes into the sanctum sanctorum of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and warns him of the upcoming arrival of Thanos and his minions. No not THOSE minions. Strange contacts and returns with Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) just as the evil doers arrive seeking the stone Strange possesses, the Time Stone. A nearby Spider-Man (Tom Holland) also swings in to help. Before Stark can reach out and contact Capt. America (Chris Evans) he, Spider-Man and Strange are onboard the spaceship heading towards Thanos.

Rather than continue with each story point I’ll stop hear. And this so far only accounts for perhaps 30 minutes tops of this 2 hour and 29 minute masterpiece! With the exception of only 3 heroes already seen in the previous Marvel movies (Ant-Man and the Wasp which is explained in their own movie and Hawkeye) every single hero shows up to do battle in this one. Every Avenger, Black Panther, War Machine, the Winter Soldier and all the Guardians of the Galaxy are on hand to face off against Thanos. The question though is are they enough? Can they take down the most powerful being in the Universe? And if he gets all of the stones, will he be able to achieve his goal?

The answer is yes and no. When you get to the final moments of the film, a heart wrenching moment in heroic film history, the answer is still unknown. Yes know going in that the final answer is not on hand to be seen here. A second film is on the way and will no doubt pick up with the remains of this film. Not all of the heroes we’ve come to know and love will survive. None of those that remain will be left unscarred. And in a battle to save the known Universe all will lay their lives down on the line as a last defense to do so.

Our civilization has always used mythology to move us forward, to teach valuable lessons. They began with drawings on cave walls, altered to stories passed down verbally, reached the printed page, changed slightly to four color comics, moved to radio and then to the big screen. Movies have become the current medium in which mythology has decided to rest. The Marvel movies which began as comics and have since embraced movies are there to provide a way of continuing the tradition of teaching valuable lessons to those who witness them. Sacrifice, loyalty, heroism, love, failure all are on display in these films and this film combines all into a massive epic that has to be seen to be believed.

The end result of watching this film is not total sadness or joy but an anxious feeling, one in which the viewer wishes that the months were over between the viewing of this film and the next. Until that time this movie will be viewed repeatedly by fans who will wait for the next, ticket money in hand and hoping for the best for those heroes that they’ve come to love to be among those who will survive. This is the movie that has long been developing and it delivers on every single level expected of those who love movies. 

MARROWBONE: FAMILY SECRETS



A group of siblings, a family in a secluded location and secrets left undiscussed have all been done before. Most famously many will recall FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC. Those who’ve been exposed to more movies will recall OUR MOTHER’S HOUSE, a movie I almost thought this was a remake of when reading the description. But that description wasn’t quite near as revealing as I thought it was before I began watching MARROWBONE.

A family of 5 recently arrived from England return to the secluded ancestral home of the mother. Once there she insist the family leave their past behind and change their name to Marrowbone. Each agrees and that past isn’t mentioned though it haunts them later in the film.

Decaying and in need of repair having long been abandoned, she is set to reclaim the home. Before she can do so she falls ill, spent from the trip of coming back from overseas. She succumbs to her illness but not before making her son Jack (George MacKay) pledge to keep safe and not let anyone know until he turns 21 and can then own the land himself. She also leaves behind a tin box with a secret. Before he can object she passes.

Not long after their mother’s passing a strange event occurs. While sitting at her desk writing in her journal, a gunshot rings out and shoots out a pane of glass in Jane’s room. She screams for Jack who shows. The children all look out the window and recognize the shooter. At this point the movie fast forwards 6 months.

Along with his siblings Jane (Mia Goth), Billy (Charlie Heaton) and Sam (Matthew Stagg) the family does what it takes to survive. Jane bakes items sold in the nearby town. The only one allowed to leave the estate is Jack to insure no eyes are laid on the family or questions asked. While there he meets up with Allie (Anya Taylor-Joy), the young girl who lives next door to the estate that he’s fallen in love with. Mutually it seems.

But another suitor continues to pursue Allie. Porter (Kyle Soller) is a local lawyer whose interest in Allie remains unreturned but never puts him off. Porter is responsible for helping the family by drawing up the papers for the ownership of the estate. He insists that Jack’s mother sign the papers in front of him as well as demanding a fee to do so.

With no choice the siblings must use the money that was in the tin box, ill-gotten gains from their father. What has become of him is as yet undetermined. Jack takes the money and keeps Porter at bay insisting his mother is too ill to see him face to face. With the help of Jane they forge her mother’s signature, pay Porter and send him on his way.

Odd things happen in the house. Noises and creaking boards permeate the air. Stains appear on the ceiling. And the children have hung sheets over all of the mirrors in the house. Sam, the youngest of the group, insist that these are to ward off the ghost that roams the house. But is it really? And what, if not a ghost, is making the noises? What secrets does the house truly possess?

From what little I knew of the film going in I was intrigued. What the end result was is a mixed bag. The pacing is slow at first and that can be off putting for some viewers. But don’t let that be the case. Stick with it and find out more as the film progresses. The end result is a movie that you’ll consider viewing a second time just to see what you missed the first.

I’ve read some reviews where those writing have said they knew what the inevitable outcome was going to be before the final reel of the film. I have to disagree. Yes, there were a few bits that I saw coming in advance. But not the biggest surprise of all nor the ending that takes place. Both elevated the movie in my eyes and left me reconsidering how good the movie was from what I thought during the first 30 minutes or so.

Ghosts or no ghosts? Murderers or no murderers? A secret past that follows a family or a newly created terror that fuels the story? Will love triumph of will it fail as so often is the case in movies these days? And will the ending actually provide a solution or more possibilities? The only way to find out is to watch MARROWBONE and decide for yourself. 

THE CHANGELING: A FORGOTTEN CLASSIC REDISCOVERED



I remember the first time I ever saw THE CHANGELING. It was on a double bill at a drive-in and I can’t recall the other feature. I was impressed with the film at the time and was stunned that it didn’t do better business. It featured one of the biggest stars at the time in George C. Scott, was a horror story at a time when they were on the rise and was actually quite well done. And yet it got lost somewhere along the way. It was even rare to find a copy on a video shelf when it came out in that format. All of that changes with the release of the film in blu-ray format from Severin.

Composer John Russell (Scoot) is on vacation with his wife and daughter when their car breaks down on a snow covered road. Pushing the car they come across a payphone (the movie was made when those existed) and he walks across to call for help. While he does so an oncoming car crosses the path of a truck that veers and plows across Russell’s wife and daughter.

Fast forward months later and Russell is still trying to cope with his loss. He moves to Seattle where a friend has set him up to teach at the local college. Looking for a place to stay an agent of the local historic society, Claire Norman (Trish Van Devere) finds him just the place, a Victorian mansion that is secluded and offers him the solace he needs.

But things aren’t quite what they seem. Russell begins hearing a banging every day at the same time. He has the pipes checked but the noise continues. One night when he hears water running he goes to turn it off and has a vision of a young boy drowning. As he begins investigating the history of the house he finds out more happened there than anyone has realized.

Following noises in the house he finds a hidden attic. The doorway is sealed over, boarded up and shelves placed over those boards. Removing them he enters through the door and finds a room upstairs where it appears a young boy lived alone. His diary is there as well as a ball and a wheelchair he would have used.

Russel continues to investigate the history of the house with the help of Claire. The noises, breaking glass in windows and more occur. He finds that the history of the house leads to a sitting Senator (Melvyn Douglas) as well as a young boy who was murdered and buried elsewhere. As he continues to discover more he still can’t figure out why these images, these spectral visions are attaching themselves to him. What is it they want him to do and how can he follow through?

The film is one of the best ghost stories ever committed to film. And like those that are the best it never puts everything on display for all to see. There are no floating sheets flying from one end of the house to the other, no million dollar special effects shots of walls/doors/furniture visibly changing into another form and no zombiefied corpses roaming about seeking revenge. Instead the majority of the hauntings taking place here involve the use of sound, of darkness and light and of things as simple as a bouncing child’s ball to create an unsettling tale that holds the viewers interest from start to finish.

Directed by acclaimed director Peter Medak who had already directed THE RULING CLASS and would go on to direct THE KRAYS, and ROMEO IS BLEEDING, the film uses a light touch rather than an in your face method of provoking scares and telling a complete story. With a combination of wonderful cinematography, a fantastic script and the acting abilities of the film’s stars the result is a ghost tale that is second perhaps only to the 1963 version of THE HAUNTING, one of my all-time favorite films. The movie is an amazing film and one that I’m delighted to see saved from obscurity by Severin. It deserves it.

If simply saving the film weren’t enough Severin has gone the extra mile and included some wonderful extras that make you want to go back and watch the film a second time just to apply the things learned in those extras. Included in the extras are an audio commentary track with Medak, producer Joel B. Michaels and moderated by Severin Films’ David Gregory, THE HOUSE ON CHEESMAN PARK: THE HAUNTING TRUE STORY OF THE CHANGELING in which we learn the facts of the actual case that the film is based on, THE MUSIC OF THE CHANGELING: AN INTERVIEW WITH MUSIC ARRANGER KENNETH WANNBERG, THE BUILDING OF THE HOUSE OF HOROR: AN INTERVIEW WITH ART DIRECTOR REUNBEN FREED, THE PSYCHOTRONIC TOURIST: THE CHANGLING which returns us to the various locations the film was shot at, Master of Horror Mick Garris talking about the film, a poster and stills gallery, the original trailer and TV spots for the film. After watching the pieces here about the real story and the construction of the sets you just want to restart it all over again.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one small item that Severin did here that deserves tremendous praise. I’m sure we’ve all grown weary of having to put in a disc only to sit patiently while we see the standard FBI warning about copying the film. That doesn’t happen here. Instead once the disc loads on your player we see George C. Scott and Trish Van Devere sitting and looking at a microfilm machine taken from the movie. They scroll and stop and we’re allowed to see what they’re reading. It’s the FBI warning written as a news item. What an ingenious way to insert that onto the disc! And it makes viewing the warning seem less a chore than normal, something you’ll want others to see when watching the film again.

Having the opportunity to watch this film again was such a joy. Having the chance to see it presented in such a way that it was clean, clear and crisp made it even more so. Previously all prints had seemed washed out and slightly off focus from seeing it on an outdoor screen to watching it on sloppily transferred video tape. Now I and many others can enjoy watching it along with the well-made extras again and again. Congratulations Severin on a job well done.