Monthly Archives: May 2015

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Movie Trailer – Freedom

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Peter Cousens

Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr, Bernhard Forcher, William Sadler

Release: June 5th, 2015

Will this be the next Amistad or Selma?  Probably not.  But I think it looks strong enough to stand on its own without becoming so cheesy that it upsets our stomachs.  Cuba will always have a place in the heart of the American audience member, and this subject matter will never get old.  So, why not two storylines instead of one; twice the drama, right?


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Movie Review – San Andreas

Category : Movie Review

Director: Brad Peyton

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Giamatti

Year: 2015

There are a couple different ways to make a successful disaster movie.  And by successful I mean quality, either in production or entertainment value.  I don’t care one way or the other how much money a film makes, I’m a critic, I’m not here to call a blockbuster a success because a ton of summer moviergoers were tricked into seeing it.  No, choose a path and follow it toward quality, that’s the key to winning my praise, for whatever that’s worth.  Path #1: create massive buildup and then let it explode in our faces.  That might sound dirty, but it’s effective.  Dante’s Peak, Deep Impact, The Day After Tomorrow; these movies take their time priming audiences for a massive event, giving us small tastes of action along the way, letting us feel the panic as the clock ticks down.  Path #2: go big, go berserk, and don’t look back.  Sharnado, 2012, Twister; these movies don’t hold the cheese, never lack in action, and can’t pause long enough to shout out an apology.  So my point is, make a choice, either go the Big Buildup route or go Over The Top, longevity lies along those two paths.  San Andreas chooses neither and ends up somewhere in the muddled middle, becoming a movie I think we’ll quickly forget.

Present day, California, following Ray the Rescue Pilot, saving the world one panicked coed at a time.  Ray is a family man, or was until his wife left him, but he still loves his daughter more than life itself and also loves his job as a helicopter search & rescue team leader.  So when disaster strikes the region in the form of earthquakes all along the San Andreas fault, Ray is there to help.  Experts are tracking the quakes, led by Lawrence & Kim, a pair of men who have just cracked the secrets of the plates and can now predict the intensity & location of these tremors.  But their initial warnings come to late and San Francisco is devastated by a terrible tectonic disaster.  Ray’s daughter Blake is in San Fran, trapped among the rubble, while Ray & his estranged wife are miles away.  But they’re on their way to the rescue, flying fast, knowing that another earthquake, bigger than the first, is on its way toward the Golden Gate, ready to rip apart a city and bust California wide open.

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The problems with San Andreas are in what it didn’t do.  It didn’t take its time, not at all, giving us disasters at the beginning, disasters in the middle, and bigger disasters at the end.  There was no pace to the action, never time to anticipate the climax, and a few weak attempts by the scientists to warn the public were given after the cities had been completely destroyed.  Basically, their job was to tell us not to leave the theatre, that more cool stuff was on its way, not to worry.  Shouldn’t the film have been able to tell us that by the structure of events?  Some previews, some deaths, a story, and then a big ol’ burst of exploding building and tidal waves that lasted an hour.  I’m not saying that would have made the movie perfect, but I’m a big believer in choosing a style & sticking to it.  San Andreas wasn’t cheesy enough to be called a spoof or a comedy, it wasn’t organized enough to be called a great film, and in the end felt more forced than anything else.

But perhaps the director couldn’t really fashion a convincing buildup story; he didn’t really have that much to work with.  The Rock was pretty terrible, and that’s not even a knock on the guy, he’s just not really a great actor.  He’s studly, bulky, seems nice, but can’t really convince me that’s he’s emotionally driven by the loss of his family.  And speaking of, man was his wife bad.  Carla Gugino, didn’t really know who she was, and don’t want to find out now.  She was so fake it hurt, which would have been fine if everyone around her was acting the same way, but I think they might have actually been trying.  Though not Paul Giamatti, he wasn’t trying, he was thinking about the money he made off this film & laughing all the way to the bank.  No, the acting was bad, the directing was bad, and the few moments that a thousand buildings weren’t falling over were so poorly executed that you couldn’t even call them laughable.  I don’t mean to bash the film entirely, especially since I’m about to give it an OK rating, but I wanted to make it clear that this film won’t become one of the disaster classics that we love, all the while knowing that they suck.  If the sound had been turned off, if I was just expected to enjoy the destruction and watch the people scurry around trying to survive, I think that might have made for an awesome time.  I’m serious, you’d miss absolutely nothing by taking out the audio, and perhaps I should recommend that audiences in foreign countries refrain from reading the subtitles or listening to the dubbing.  Because the action was cool, the deaths were numerous, the disasters were epic, and I enjoyed what I saw.  I just don’t think San Andreas did it right, it’s as plain as that, so I’m left having been fairly entertained but not at all impressed.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 

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Movie Trailer – Return to Sender

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Fouad Mikati

Starring: Rosamund Pike, Shiloh Fernandez, Nick Nolte

Release: 2015

Obviously I don’t know the exact timelines of the two movies, but this looks like a cheap attempt to cash in on what little Gone Girl excitement there might be left.  Either that or Rosamund Pike is now being type cast as a psycho.  And she’s the victim in this one, but she’s still playing crazy with an abandon that’s pretty terrifying.  I’m not sure where she goes from here, but audiences might not be able to look at her the same again.


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DVD Review – Low Down

Category : DVD Review

Director: Jeff Preiss

Starring: John Hawkes, Elle Fanning, Glenn Close

Year: 2014

So.  Jazz.  It’s an art form that I’ve never understood, never appreciated, and never really listened to.  It just bores me, I guess, fails to grab my attention, doesn’t impress me past a grudging respect for the talent that I know is behind the music.  Perhaps the best of the best let the sound speak for itself, let it grab us no matter what style we normally enjoy.  And in that vein, I can listen to a bit of jazz, enjoy the quality, and then move on with my day.  Perhaps the same goes for jazz movies, apart from Whiplash, which could have featured any kind of music and still blow my socks off.  No, movies like Low Down may be more the norm, stories that are as disjointed as the music they tell about and the lives that they represent.  It’d better be one hell of a film if it wants to gather a large audience, and you’re not going to find that here.

The Movie

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This is the true story of the jazz pianist Joe Albany, his daughter, and his addiction to drugs.  Joe is a great talent, one cool cat, and a friend to all.  But he’s far from perfect.  He can’t stay clean, can’t keep away from the friends that continually drag him down, and can’t seem to keep himself out of jail.  Every time he gets ahead, the drug scene pulls him back, back to the life of an addict, back to the world of avoiding your parole officer and disappointing your daughter.  Joe lies every day just to get by; lies to his family about where he goes, lies to the cops to keep himself out of prison, lies to himself each time he swears to change.  And this terribly unbalanced lifestyle effects not only himself, but his daughter, possibly the only person who loves him unconditionally.

Amy may be the daughter of a local legend, a tremendous talent, but also of a man who can’t keep it together long enough to pay for groceries.  We see his downward spiral through her eyes, her pain played out in his irresponsible actions.  Amy wants her dad to be her hero, to be the friend that she so desperately desires.  And while she slogs through school and switches from living at her own apartment and her grandmothers multiple times, she attempts to have a normal life while her abnormally talented & troubled father swirls around her like a thunderstorm.  Eventually, she will have to grow up, realize the truth behind her father’s frequent stories, and become a women without the help of anyone; not Joe, not her mother, and not the jazz scene.  This is the true story of growing up beneath the umbrella of an artist, someone whose own life demands more attention than he can give, leaving nothing for anyone else.

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Maybe you like jazz and you like a story that you’ve got to work to find its groove.  And I can’t say the music style & the film style always go hand in hand; I understand that good movies can be made about jazz and bad movies can be made about our favorite subjects.  But I can’t help relate a music I don’t like with a film that I ultimately felt the same way about.  It was a slow-moving story that made me feel as if I was the one on drugs, dragging my feet and ignoring emotions throughout the vast majority.  Every scene seemed to end just as it was beginning, with more weight given to scenes that seemed to have no point whatsoever.  The director obviously chose a style that he enjoyed, ran with it, and hoped others would jump on board.  Credit to him for sticking to his guns, I just didn’t become a fan.  The color palette used for the film was hard to watch, the music was not my thing, the editing made it difficult to get in a rhythm, and I often found myself caught up in wondering how we were supposed to believe that Elle Fanning was the love child of John Hawkes & Lena Headey.

Which brings me to the acting, which was actually pretty great.  Fanning was believable, emotional, probably the best I’ve ever seen her, and if you want more don’t worry, she’s in like 19 movies next year.  Hawkes was also very strong, playing Albany with heart, with pain, and always on his A-game.  And the cameos were actually pretty impressive.  Headey as Amy’s mom, Glenn Close as her grandmother, Peter Dinklage as the odd man who lives in a crack in the wall, Flea as Joe’s best friend.  It was an interesting cast, a mess of characters and intersecting lives that had a great Hollywood feel.  So the acting wasn’t the problem, the story was told well, the style just didn’t sit well with me.  The plot was real, heavy, unapologetic, but hard to enjoy.  Again, a little like jazz, and I think you’d better have fairly exact taste for this film to grab you the way it intends to do.

The DVD

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Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 Widescreen, the video quality should be better than it actually looks.  The film was shot using an Arriflex 416 camera with Hawk V-Lite 16 1.3x lenses.  It has the feel of an old movie, of a 70s project, and I guess never tries to be a picture-perfect modern film.  But I never really appreciated the unclear cinematography as a part of the authenticity of the story, it just seemed like poor video, even if it was intentional.  The hardware was there to produce something more dazzling; I guess that’s not what the filmmakers were going for.

Audio – The DVD was done in Dolby Digital, with a choice between Stereo and 5.1.  The language of the film is English, and there’s an option for English subtitles for the hearing impaired.  Also, the film can be played with feature length audio commentary with director Jeff Preiss, composer Ohad Talmor, and film critic Ed Halter.  The sound quality of the film was as good as an old record; classic, full, sketchy at times, but also pleasing to the ear, affording that you enjoy a bit of jazz.

Extras – In the Extra Features menu you can also access the audio commentary, watch a Behind The Scenes featurette that runs for 20 minutes, check out an Interview/Q&A with Amy-Jo Albany and Flea which runs for 10 minutes, or watch the theatrical trailer for the film.  Also, there are a few trailers from Oscilloscope: Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, The Exploding Girl, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Mother of George.

Final Thoughts

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Skip It.  I’ve never had an Oscilloscope disc that had any extras on it.  I mention this because, if you’ve ever seen their cases, it seems like they’re advertising much more than you actually get.  The box is big, it unfolds, has pictures inside, and seems to promise something special.  Low Down finally had some special features, and I felt like the special case fit the film.  It was like a collector’s record, with a nice sleeve talking about the artists & their tracks, something you can keep forever along with the music.  So, there you go, do you like collecting vinyl?  Do you like jazz?  Do you like slow stories about addicts and their families?  Perhaps a few of you do, and if so you’ll be treated to some fine acting as well.  This movie just wasn’t for me, I couldn’t make myself like it, and that’s the bottom line.  The video was OK, the audio better, and there were a couple extras on the disc.  Overall, a movie I didn’t love, but not something I hated enough to warn everyone away from.

☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 


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Movie Trailer – The Intern

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Nancy Myers

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Robert DeNiro, Adam DeVine

Release: September 25th, 2015

I’m not someone who hates Anne Hathaway, in fact she was on my List until she cut her hair short for Les Mis.  But apart from being beautiful, she’s one hell of an actress.  I know she can be a little high school drama queen-ish, and when she does interviews she doesn’t come across very …normal …but she’s got talent & looks & smarts.  And Robert DeNiro, his prowess is beyond question, even at the end of his career.  But I don’t really trust Nancy Myers.  She directed What Women Want, Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday, and It’s Complicated.  Those are movies written for my mom, not for me, and I don’t think a little added youth is going to make this film that much different.


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Sports – Johnny Football

Category : Sports

About a year ago I posted my opinions on Johnny Manziel and his being drafted by the Cleveland Browns.  I predicted that he would fail as an NFL QB, like so many gifted college quarterbacks have failed before.  Tim Tebow, Kellen Moore; record-breakers & play-makers, but not elite talent once they reach the next level.  Manziel’s size, his lack of strength, his lack of football awareness; these things matter more in the pros than they do in the NCAA, and your weaknesses betray you when you play against the best of the best.  In 2014 with the Browns, Johnny ended up playing in five games.  He started two of them, and didn’t produce very good numbers.  In total, he completed 51% of his passes, threw for 0 TDs, 2 INTs, was sacked 3 times, ran for 29 yards, had 1 rushing touchdown, and fumbled the ball once.  For a gifted athlete who was supposed to give defenses fits, those aren’t the numbers you’re looking for.  I think the majority of NFL fans knew he wouldn’t succeed, especially not right away, and especially not in Cleveland, so perhaps his poor year doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

But I was wrong about his off-the-field issues.  I predicted that he’d put all that behind him, that his immaturity was nothing other than your typical case of famous football player with too much attention.  He wasn’t breaking laws, ruining any chances, or humiliating himself.  He just made some poor decisions, obviously liked to party a bit too much, and could easily put that all behind him once he became a professional player.  Well, maybe not so much.  In the preseason he flashed the bird at the opposing sideline and was, of course, caught on camera.  Perhaps he wasn’t ready to take control of his actions quite yet after all.  And then, after the season, he admitted himself into an addiction rehabilitation center.  So, again, perhaps all that wasn’t behind him.  His arrogance, his lack of self-awareness, and his drug/drinking problem weren’t fixed by his leaving the college lifestyle for the NFL lifestyle, and maybe we should have seen that coming to.

What we’re left with is a big name doing small things.  He hasn’t shown much on the field, when he got the chance he didn’t impress, and during the offseason he was dealing with personal issues instead of improving his game.  Johnny Manziel will be a disappointment, if he isn’t already, another great college QB who doesn’t translate to the next level.  And the worst part is, it was pretty obvious that that would be the case.  He’s not a giant bust, he wasn’t going to be the savior of Cleveland, most people understood that the kid had problems both mentally & physically and therefore wouldn’t be all that good.  Turns out, at least so far, that his detractors were right.  At least Tim Tebow has spurts of brilliance to counteract his glaring mechanical flaws, and at least he was a model citizen, as well as a good teammate.  Manziel isn’t any of those things, leading you to wonder who in their right mind would draft him in the first place.


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Movie Trailer – Jem and the Holograms

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Jon M. Chu

Starring: Aubrey Peeples, Juliette Lewis, Molly Ringwald

Release: October 23rd, 2015

I know nothing about the 80s TV show that this movie is based on; I was more of a Transformers kid.  But I recognize the power of bringing that era to today’s screens, so I applaud whoever thought to make this film.  But the director is the guy who also did Step Up 2: The Streets, Step Up 3D, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and Now You See Me: The Second Act.  The amount of colons in that filmography is frightened, and a good sign of bad content.  I’m not saying that this movie won’t excite a lot of people, I’m sure saying that it probably won’t be wonderful.


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DVD Review – Malice

Category : DVD Review

Director: Harold Becker

Starring: Bill Pullman, Nicole Kidman, Alec Baldwin

Year: 1993

Long before the Keith Urban days, and even before the Tom Cruise era, Nicole Kidman was America’s sweetheart.  Or, perhaps more accurately, America’s Australian sexpot.  She was the leading lady that every studio wanted, a hot commodity that could both sizzle the screen and act the pants off her male counterparts.  Literally.  Anyway, it all started in 1989 with Dead Calm, a thrill ride where she played opposite Sam Neill & Billy Zane, two actors who were a little more respected at the time than perhaps they are now.  Then came Days of Thunder, the film where she would meet Cruise.  Far and Away would come soon after their wedding, and then Malice and To Die For, films that would mark the end of her becoming an established actress, the beginning of her high-powered career.  It’s always fun to go back in time and see stars before they were superstars, and Malice is a good place to do that, both because of its cast and based on the fact that, surprisingly, it’s a tremendous movie.

The Movie

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Andy is an administrator at a local Massachusetts college, where he lives with his young wife Tracy.  The couple have just bought an old Victorian, are attempting to fix it up themselves with very little money, and really couldn’t be happier.  That is, except for Tracy’s odd stomach pain and a serial killer targeting beautiful college coeds.  But that aside, life’s good.  As Andy tries to fix up the house and keep his wife happy, Tracy worries about money and the future.  But a dark cloud hangs over the town as this psycho killer keeps striking, keeping Andy afraid for the safety of his wife & of his students, and dragging him into the limelight as a suspect after a series of unfortunate events.  The crook will be caught eventually, or so the villagers assume, but until then the community lives in fear and can’t trust their neighbors the way they should be able to in this once-peaceful New England town.

And all peripheral drama aside, Andy & Tracy are about to have their world flipped upside down by the arrival of the local hospital’s new high-profile doctor.  His name is Jed Hill, he’s a hotshot from Harvard, and he’s the best physician perhaps in the entire country.  He routinely saves the unsavable, knows just how good he is, and won’t let anyone forget it.  Also, he just so happens to have gone to high school with Andy and is need of a room to rent, having just arrived in town.  Hey, lucky day, Andy & Tracy have a big old house with an extra floor, he can stay there.  But it’s not all as pleasant as it seems.  Jed is as loose with booze & women as a frat boy, Tracy’s pains are getting worse, and Andy is no closer to catching the serial killer.  And it will all come to a head at the same time when Tracy is rushed to the hospital for an emergency procedure, where Jed must make a life-changing decision, and every event that follows shouts lie.

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Malice is one part radio melodrama, one part 90s thriller, creating a movie that’s as theatrical & twisted as any soap opera, but entertaining in a way that those could never be.  The small town, the killer, the happy couple, the hunky doctor, the mystery ailment, the emergency, the following debacle, the truths that begin to surface; it’s all one wild ride, something straight out of a steamy novel or an over-the-top stage show.  There’s even a dramatic scene in the rain set in a cliff-side house, like an old English murder mystery on the moors.  And this all might sound a bit ridiculous, but let me tell you, it’s amazing.  Of course it’s all a little much, it’s very melodramatic, but always in a great way, in a way that is pure entertainment without a shred of pretension.  I was pretty surprised by what I was watching; I was expecting someone much more sinister & sad.  But what I got was a Hand That Rocks the Cradle style film with more drama, more excitement, and a bit more talent, everything you could ask for from an early 90s film.

It’s fun to see Nicole Kidman this way, and not only because she’s beautiful.  In her younger days, she was perfectly crafted to fit these roles, and later couldn’t keep up with what America wanted from her.  She actually hides her accent in this film, doing it very well, and playing her part ultra-convincingly.  Alec Baldwin, who I will always love, was also excellent in his role, the cocky doctor who may be hiding a few things.  This was back in his glory days too, back around The Shadow, The Juror, The Edge.  And even Bill Pullman managed to be solid, even though he’ll never win awards as the most believable actor.  The trio worked together well, delivered surprise after surprise, and came away with what is an extremely enjoyable movie to watch.  Add in a few cool cameos (George C. Scott, Anne Bancroft, Peter Gallagher, Gwyneth Paltrow) and you’ve got a film that captures a time period, delivers one hell of a messed up story, may not get every detail perfect, but always feels morbidly fun; a movie worth revisiting.

The Blu-ray

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Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 1920x1080p, the video quality is perhaps the best you’ll ever see from this film.  It was shot using Panavision cameras and lenses, and was developed in Technicolor in Hollywood, California.  The transfer from its original format to a widescreen Blu-ray disc was fairly flawless, with the clarity of a 90s film, of course, but with a precision of detail that speaks to the effort put in to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Audio – The disc was done in Dolby SR, with an option for English subtitles.  There are no other sound or language options in the menu.  Again, this is a 90s film remastered, so temper your quality expectations a little, but the sound quality was actually very nice, with a good score and a great balance of music & dialogue that is so often missing from today’s Blu-ray discs.

Extras – The only bonus features available are two trailers: Malice & The Onion Field.

Final Thoughts

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Highly Recommended.  If you missed this movie 20-odd years ago, you might want to go back and give it a shot.  It’s theatre at its most dramatic, thrills at their most thrilling, and stars at perhaps their peak.  You won’t be disappointed in the amount of twists, backstabs, cover stories, weird characters, and soap opera reveals, nor will you be bored as you watch this plot unfold.  You’ll see a film from a different time that translates well to today, and a movie that’s pure entertainment from start to finish.  The video transfers well to the Blu-ray disc, the sound is pretty excellent, but there aren’t many extras to be had.  Rewatch it if you loved it, check it out if it passed you by, don’t expect the story details to hold together under a ton of scrutiny, but enjoy a movie that’s all about the ride and will keep you guessing all the way to the over-dramatic finish.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 


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Movie Trailer – Barely Lethal

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Kyle Newman

Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Alba

Release: May 29th, 2015

Did someone watch Kingsman and decide to produce an all-girl remake?  Keeping SLJ of course, and adding in a pop/punk soundtrack from 2001.  God.  What a horrible idea and I’m sure a horrible movie.  That girl from True Grit hasn’t even really shown us that she can act, and I’m sure this film won’t be her chance to shine.  And if I were Jessica Alba, I’d stick to making the world green and raising kids, or whatever hippie thing she’s doing these days.


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DVD Review – The Loft

Category : DVD Review

Director: Erik Van Looy

Starring: James Marsden, Karl Urban, Wentworth Miller

Eric Stonestreet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Rachel Taylor

Year: 2014

In 2008, Belgian director Erik Van Looy took Bart De Pauw’s screenplay about 5 married men who keep a secret apartment for their mistresses and created a successful film.  In 2010, Dutch director Antoinette Beumer would take the same screenplay and redo the film.  And then, in 2014, Van Looy would direct the movie again, this time for American audiences.  Clearly, this is a story that filmmakers feel can be broadcast all over the world, multiple times, and still turn out a profit.  What that says about the quality of the idea you can decide for yourself: that it’s universally great or a cheap, pop, page-turner.  Either way, its success largely depends upon the cast & crew every time it’s produced, relying on the story itself, of course, but also on the actors who portray these characters that are so enticing to so many directors.  I haven’t seen the first two versions, but what we have in the American take is a thriller, no more & no less, but not something that screams for any more remakes.

The Movie

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This is the story of five men; their friendships, their secrets, and ultimately their betrayals.  Vincent is an architect, very successful, very handsome, and the leader of the group.  Chris is a psychiatrist, a devoted family man, a husband whose wife doesn’t love “the guys”.  Philip is his half-brother, a bit of a hot head, a womanizer, and a man who does what he wants.  Luke is the quiet one, even-keeled, worships Vincent, and doesn’t like taking chances.  Lastly, Marty, the goof of the group, the joker, the schlub, and the loud drunk.  They have their flaws, but these married men stick together and keep each others’ secrets, no matter what.  This includes their latest group activity, the renting of a loft apartment in one of Vincent’s buildings, a place where anything goes, where their wives don’t know they stay, and where secrets pile on secrets until there’s no where left for them to go but public.

On just another morning, one of the friends goes up to the loft and discovers that something terrible has happened; a woman has been killed and is lying handcuffed to the bed.  With only five keys in existence, one for each man, there’s no way in for any strangers.  That means that one of the five must be the killer, or at least must know who this woman is.  And so each is called, arrives in turn, only to stare in shock at what is waiting for them in the loft.  As the police bring the men in for questioning and as the friends begin to interrogate each other, bits & pieces of the truth are revealed, leading us back in time to a whole series of intimate encounters, bad decisions, heart breaks, infidelities, and secret sessions in the loft, a place where marriages are shattered, where friendships are ruined, and where dreams become nightmares.

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You either like thrillers or you don’t.  If you do, The Loft is the movie for you.  It may be a remake of a foreign film, twice over actually, but I think we can assume that it left all its dark, subtle charm behind it and let itself become an American thrill ride, complete with rich white men, their pretty wives, the blonde mistresses that they can’t keep their hands off of, and the butcher knives that just seem to be pretty darn near everywhere.  Sounds like a thriller to me, and there’s place for films in this genre, an audience for the kind of movie that doesn’t offer much beyond a primitive desire to see who might die in the next scene.  If you’re a fan of the style, you’ll be happy with the way the plot flows, from the galas to the pretty people rolling around blurrily in bed, from the crisp suits to the backstabbing nouveau riche.  It’s an American thriller with a solid foreign base, but a page-turner at its core, a tale of sex & secrets that would make one hell of a dime store paperback.

But, and it’s a big one, if you don’t love thrillers you might just hate this movie.  Critics seem to, giving it a 2.4/10 on IMDb, calling it a clumsy orgy that deflates expectations.  Ouch, not good, and probably a sentiment held my a large number of people, specifically those who like their cinema well-done.  The Loft can’t claim to be that, not with its awkward cast of characters, mediocre acting, uncontrolled plot, and terrible ending.  And it can’t purport to be dramatic, even if it may try desperately.  It’s always a cheap thrill, never a high-quality storytelling, and I would imagine that’s where the critics of this film run into a wall.  So, it’s up to you to decide with which camp you’ll pitch your tent.  Did you watch & enjoy 8MM 2?  Then this one will be right up your alley.  Would you rather watch a documentary about Russian oppression, depicted by black box actors who speak only in verse?  Then I might recommend that you see something else.

The Blu-ray

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Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 1080p HD Widescreen, the Blu-ray video quality is top-notch.  The companion DVD is 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen.  The Blu-ray boasts a high quality picture, with crisp images and clear scenes, though with a bit of a muted color palette.

Audio – The Blu-ray was done in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, while the DVD was done in English Dolby Digital 5.1.  Subtitles on either disc can be selected in English SDH, Espanol, or Francais.  On the Blu-ray menu, the Button Sounds and Ticker can be turned on or off.  The sound quality of the Blu-ray was very nice, with a balance that is sometimes lacking from action-packed Blu-ray presentations.

Extras – The only special features of the disc are a set of Previews: The Grey, Sabotage, Nightcrawler, Killer Elite, Homefront, Side Effects.

Final Thoughts

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Rent It.  It comes down to this; what do you want to see?  A high-powered drama dripping with intense emotion?  Nah.  A bit of a bad-boy thriller with infidelity galore?  Yup, that’s what this is.  The film gets a bad rap from critics, but audiences seem to like it, so figure out for yourself where you stand.  Me, I’m somewhere in the middle.  I don’t enjoy watching crappy murder mysteries, but I can get on board for a few cheap thrills, as long as I know that they’re coming and that the people who present them to me aren’t advertising something completely different.  Perhaps the original film is better, in fact I’d bet that it is, but what we have here is, at the very least, an entertaining evening for the masses.  The video is very good, the audio great as well, but there aren’t many extras on the Blu-ray.  Rent with low expectations or if you’re a fan of the genre; anyone else is just setting themselves up for failure.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ – Replay