The Dark Horse

Rated: R | Running Time: 124 Minutes
From: Broadgreen Pictures
Available on DVD, Digital HD, and VOD:  July 12, 2016
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Sometimes all you need to find is that purpose in life to overcome your personal challenges. Genesis Potini did just that. “The Dark Horse” tells that story.

Based on the true story, “The Dark Horse” weaves the history of Genesis Potini (in the movie played wonderfully by Cliff Curtis), a chess champion in New Zealand battling with mental illness who discovers his passion in teaching others the glory of chess, and in doing so is able to calm many of the demons in his head.

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Back in the Day

Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 121 Minutes
From: Virgil Films
Available on Blu-ray and DVD: June 28, 2016
Get it via: Amazon | iTunes

Anthony (William Demeo) does it, he finally wins the boxing championship, and his life is now complete. What to do now? Anthony sits down with Larry Merchant (played by Larry Merchant) to tell his life story. His life story is “Back in the Day,” a fictional boxing movie like many others, mixed with overblown mafia stereotypes.

Well, crap, I could give you the story, but that’s really about it, and that’s too bad.

I guess I’ll expand a bit…

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Bachelor Games

Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 87 Minutes
From: Gravitas Ventures / Strike Films
Available on Digital Platforms July 8, 2016

The publicity material for “Bachelor Games” touted the movie as a horror-comedy. I understand the horror part, sort of, but I’m still waiting on the funny.

Let’s get to the basics…

A bunch of dudes get together for a bachelor party. Sounds like a fun time, right? Where are they headed? Vegas? The Bahamas? No, our group is heading to the Andes mountains in Argentina. Yup, they are on their way to a secluded town where they do some drinking, some drugs, and there is even a stripper. There is also local lore about “The Hunter” who protects the land. What are our boys going to do? Go hiking in the land of course!

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Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf


MPAA Rated – Not Rated
It’s 1:36 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

The more I think about it, the more perfect “Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf” was, especially in the realm of the old-school, and I mean this with all due respect, cheesy, werewolf movie. First there is the title, or at least the “Night of the Lone Wolf” part. Sure there’s the solo werewolf at the start, but by the end there are multiple wolves. Maybe I’m misunderstanding the title and our hero is the lone wolf, but I just couldn’t get past the fact that our main werewolf all of a sudden decided to go on a biting spree and instantly we have a pack of werewolves.

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Believe Me

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 1:33 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

I know. I read the press release for “Believe Me.” And yes, I know the synopsis mentioned a group of college kids who figured out a great way to make a quick buck, namely by scamming Christians to donating money to their phony-baloney charity, and then said kids would realize the true meaning of being good people. And finally, I know that’s what the movie ends up being about, but I so wanted it to flip directions and be a full parody of Christian fundraising. Instead, yes, our foursome realized the error of their ways and became good people again, until, “I, um.”

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MPAA Rated – Not rated.
It’s 1:19 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Maiara Walsh, Danny Trejo, Tony Todd, Austin Abke, Bryan Bockbrader, Adam Guthrie
MPAA Rated: Not Rated.
Released By: Dark Sky Films
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Kiddie Movie: Send them to bed. Lots of blod!
Date Movie: If she likes blood-splattering thrillers.
Gratuitous Sex: There is an attempted rape in the van, though it doesn’t turn out too well for the dude.
Gratuitous Violence: Headshots, shotgun blasts, machetes, and a handy little cutting saw help with the blood splatter.
Action: Not really much action.
Laughs: Some chuckles.
Memorable Scene: Emma kicking the crap out of Shane.
Memorable Quote: “What kind of amateur bullshit is this?”
Directed By: Bryan Bockbrader
Extras on the Blu-Ray: The bloopers were decent enough, and I actually liked seeing the alternate endings.

The press release said: “three thugs viciously kidnap a drug cartel boss’ only daughter from her home in broad daylight.” With that I was a little confused at the opening scene of VANish as a dude and his lover were being abducted at night, in the California hills. Now let’s cut to the next scene of two dudes in a van, talking calmly amongst each other as dudes will talk, and I’m wondering where is the third dude? Is this the van? And what happened to those people in the first scene?

Little did I know the importance of the first abduction to the plot of the movie, to be explained during a later scene, and now I was being fully introduced to possibly the dumbest trio of kidnappers that there have ever been in a movie. That’s okay, though, because the trio of dopes really made VANish an entertaining film in the realm of blood-splattering thrillers.

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The Overnighters

MPAA Rated – Not Rated
It’s 1:30 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

The Overnighters
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Jay Reinke
MPAA Rated: Not Rated
Released By: Drafthouse Films
Video Release Date: February 3, 2015
Kiddie Movie: Nah, it’s about a lot of down-and-out people.
Date Movie: If she’s interested in a good documentary and not something mushy.
Gratuitous Sex: Some talk of sex offenders, but nothing graphic.
Gratuitous Violence: Just one person trying to get the Reverend off of their property and threatening to shoot him.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: Ehh.
Memorable Scene: The reveal by Rev. Jay of something from his past.
Memorable Quote: “A man with no teeth and living with his daughter calling other people trash.
Directed By: Jesse Moss
Cool things about the DVD: Some of the deleted scenes actually should have been left in the film, and the extended interview with Rev. Jay is actually interesting.

The OvernightersThe stories were out there: Move to North Dakota! There are tons of jobs, waitresses are making $15+ dollars an hour, and you can easily find a job making over $100k a year! While some of this may be true, when stories like this get published what happens? Tens of thousands of people, mostly out of work, consider moving to North Dakota to find work. Here’s the problem. While there are jobs, there aren’t that many, and it’s North Dakota. The fracking boom has come mostly to smaller towns that don’t have the resources to accommodate such a giant influx of folks, many of whom are down on their luck, have questionable pasts, and think that North Dakota, or in the case of the documentary “The Overnighters,” Williston, North Dakota, is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. “The Overnighters” focuses on these people, the ones not getting the jobs, as well as Rev. Jay Reinke, a pastor in Williston who opened his church to those who couldn’t find a place to say, much to the dismay of the town, especially when the questionable pasts of those seeking shelter came to light.

As the documentary opens we see the Reverend waking up the people he has sheltered for the night. Most of them are men, those who came by bus or train are sleeping throughout the complex, in hallways and rooms, while those with cars would sleep in the parking lot, and the documentary begins to key in on a few of them with Rev. Jay, trying to help them through the transition to find a job. He advises them to clean up, cut their hair, get a resume together, and keep trying, but challenges await most of them, especially as background checks reveal criminal records, but more importantly for the documentary, people on the sex offender list.

We see Rev. Jay’s family who is trying to do the Christian thing and help everyone they can, but you can see the strain the situation is placing on them as well. The key to this story is the town of Williston, torn by wanting to be good Christians, yet wanting to keep their small-town feel, worried about crime, and trying to keep their children safe.

Progressing through the documentary we learn that the Reverend is housing men with sex offender pasts, both in the church and in his home, and while some might be a blip on a record that follows them for life, others are not so seemingly insignificant, and when the local paper brings this to light, the blow-back for Reinke is insurmountable, especially as he is harboring some of his own secrets.

What I loved about this documentary was that it really showed the flip side to the stories of the boom of North Dakota. You see the people and some you root for, but many you question because at one instance they seem like people just trying to restart their lives, but then you see them slip into being assholes again. The thing is this even happens with Rev. Jay when one minute he seems like the great-natured guy, just trying to help, but, and sure every story has two sides, from the commentary by some of the people he helps, there are times even his motives seem questionable. There is an extra with a detailed follow-up interview with Reverend Jay when he addresses this, mostly in a manner consistent with his personality shown in the film.

There are a few times the documentary drags, but other than that “The Overnighters” is a fantastic look at the other side of the North Dakota story. Sure, those with a little bit of a better plan than the people just “showing up” and thinking millions await them probably have a decent chance of the good jobs, but it’s this other side people don’t hear about.

This documentary shows people doing a lot of soul-searching, losing even more, like their families, by even coming to North Dakota, and a Reverend who has his own demons that he can’t come to grips with. It’s a great look at the town reaction, those who don’t have it so easy, and the challenges faced when the “boomtown” event happens because not everyone is happy about it. It’s 4 stars out of 5 for “The Overnighters.” I guess I would have liked a few success stories on people who really made it, though there was the one dude who was excited because he was actually going to have someone to supervise. Other than the little blurb of “What is happening now,” a little more follow-up on some of the characters might have been nice. Also there is some “niceness” about the documentary, although one of the outtakes, “I Used to Stay Here,” really shows the flip-side and the volatility that can be there. I think I might have like to have seen a little more of that.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!


MPAA Rated – Not Rate
It’s 1:15 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Shura Eadie, Ebert Hobbs, Henri Pelletier, Max Schellenberg
MPAA Rated: Not Rated
Released By: Virgil Films
Release Date: January 27, 2015 – Online and VOD
Kiddie Movie: Not too young. It’s a documentary and there’s a lot of talking.
Date Movie: It’s cute enough for the two of you.
Gratuitous Sex: Nothing that will make you blush.
Gratuitous Violence: Nah.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: The seniors with no governor on some of the things they say.
Memorable Scene: Shura cooking the grilled cheese with an iron.
Memorable Quote: Annette says “I’m not eccentric.” and Henri the mentor just rolls his eyes.
Directed By: Saffron Cassaday

As I was watching Cyber-Seniors I couldn’t help but think of three people, my Mom, my Mom-in-Law, and my Dad-in-Law, and although a little older than all of the mentors in the documentary, my experience with each my seniors was pretty much the same as the mentors had with theirs. My Mom was an early adopter to the Internet though she passed away before Facebook hit it big which would have helped her re-connect with many more people she lost touch with than she had found just through email and Google searches. My Mom-in-Law’s adoption, especially on her iPhone, quickly accelerated once she hit Facebook, even to the point she has now discovered Snapchat as “GrandmaEleanor” and loves posting her “stories” while keeping in touch with the Grandkids. My Dad-in-Law stays away from social media, but loves finding any news site he can discover. Teaching all of them various aspects of the internet and social media takes a lot of patience, but as the mentors show in the movie, the patience pays off the minute you see the smile of the elder discovering the wonders of Skype, Facebook, and finding out that the younger generation swears too much in their Facebook postings.

As the documentary goes, Macaulee and Kasha Cassady had a high school project back in the late 2000’s after they witnessed their grandparents discovery of the Internet, and they started a program to help other seniors get online. They ended up setting up a group, recruited friends to help teach the seniors, and their sister, Director Saffron Cassaday, started filming the sessions. The documentary keys in on a few of the seniors, their mentors, the elder’s challenges in understanding the concept of the Internet with the youngin’s challenges in finding ways to help point the elders in the right directions, and the excitement of discovery as the elders realize their is another world out there beyond the walls of the retirement home by becoming part of their families everyday lives again.

The training progress showing everything from just turning on a laptop, to using webcams and Skype, even to online dating, while the movie concludes with a contest amongst the seniors, namely to see who can be the biggest “YouTube” star amongst them. Their worlds open up again, and it’s a joy to see.

The beauty in training seniors is that they rarely have a governor any longer, and some of the best moments in the documentary are times when the seniors don’t hold back about people’s looks and their opinions on life, and while some are a little hesitant at first, worrying that if they unfriend someone on Facebook that said “unfriend” will come and attack them, eventually, once they see the benefits, they love it.

All in all it’s a nice documentary about the youngins helping the oldins learn how to get online. There is a little bit of a side story as Macaulee and her grandfather came down with cancer during filming which kind of took the story off the rails a bit, and things dragged a tad as we came to the YouTube contest, but the touching commentary by Ebert Hobbs on having a purpose in life long past your retirement is both poignant and a nice ending to the movie.

A fun look at the old folks learning about technology and it’s 3 1/2 stars out of 5 for “Cyber-Seniors.” If you’ve ever tried to help an elder learn about technology you can relate to the patience the mentors have, but mostly you can relate to the joy when the senior finally “gets it.”

On a side note, if you are interested more about the movie, want to be a mentor or cyber-senior, be sure to check out the the Cyber-Seniors website.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Bound by Flesh

MPAA Rated – Not Rated
It’s 1:30 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

Bound By Flesh
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Daisy Hilton, Violet Hilton
MPAA Rated: Not Rated
Released By: IFC Films
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Kiddie Movie: Nah, it’s a documentary. They’d be bored.
Date Movie: If she’s a documentary kind of girl.
Gratuitous Sex: There’s talk.
Gratuitous Violence: Nah.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: Some chuckles at some stories.
Memorable Scene: It was interesting seeing the sisters performing together.
Memorable Quote: “Freakery sells.”
Directed By: Leslie Zemeckis

Think about your best friend, your wife, your sibling. You like them, don’t you? You probably generally like to be around them? Now picture being attached to them, and I’m not talking emotionally, but physically attached, kind of around the butt area, for 60 years. Granted you didn’t start out that way, but Daisy and Violet Hilton were born, as conjoined twins, and “Bound By Flesh” gives a fascinating, yet kind of sad look at the ladies who had fame, sort of, but because of the people around them had nothing, really, but each other.

“Bound By Flesh” takes you on the journey, from birth to death, of Daisy and Violet. We learn early on that their Mom was devastated when they were born, feeling punished by God because she was having children out of wedlock. Mom was a barmaid, and though she wanted no part of the kids, her boss, Mary Hilton, saw financial potential in exploiting the kids so she bought them from mom. Thus began a life of being trotted out in front of people, bar patrons “testing” their connection, and isolation and control so that the girls couldn’t have a life.

The girls were taught music and dancing, oddly enough, so as their life progressed they ended up in the carnival circuit mostly thanks to Edith and Myer Myers, a couple who ended up with the twins after Mary Hilton died. They did well because, as one guy puts it in the documentary, “Freakery sells.”

Eventually a few people around them gave them the courage to sue Myer, and they won, but a life of isolation, and getting older, didn’t prove helpful to the sisters as bad business decisions and failed relationships followed them for most of the rest of their lives. Yes, they became one of the highest grossing acts in Vaudeville, but as is cautioned in the documentary, be careful what you wish for because now, without the control of Myers, the girls were free, promiscuous, and general party girls who could never figure out who the con-men were, and also never had decent guidance for the rest of their lives, losing touch with the changing world and not being able to understand why people didn’t want to see them any longer, nor understanding the business of it all, and failing to see that as they grew older their popularity went away.

Stranded in North Carolina by their tour manager and left with nothing, the twins, who at a time seemingly had it all, were hired by a local grocery store, and it’s there they lived out the rest of their lives. Working at the store gave them a little money, but more for the ladies, it gave them time to reminisce with the staff and customers as all they really wanted to do was entertain.

They could have been separated later in life, but Daisy and Violet, by this time, realized their lives were one, and they probably couldn’t survive without each other, and in the end Violet came down with the flu. Daisy made the decision to lie there, in their little home, and die along side her sister.

“Bound by Flesh” is a fantastic documentary showing both the ups, but mostly downs, of the Hilton sisters. Their lives are reminiscent of many child and young actors, where the manager or family pretty much steals everything from them, and eventually they become “whatever happened” anecdotes. The other thing about the documentary is that as much as it’s about the sisters, it’s also a great look a the early days of the carnival and of the side-show, how the shows got their start as outgrowths of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, as well as the rise and fall of Vaudeville, and it’s relation to the sisters.

Fascinating yet sad lives, if you are looking for a wonderful documentary I must say I really enjoyed “Bound by Flesh.” It’s 4 out of 5 stars for this great look at two ladies who could have had so much more if it weren’t for the scumbags around them.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

The Final Member

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 1:12 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

The Final Member
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Sigurður “Siggi” Hjartarson, Pall Arason, Tom Mitchell
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Drafthouse Films / Cinedigm
Released On: June 17, 2014
Kiddie Movie: They might giggle a lot, but you might want to put them to bed.
Date Movie: I was a little worried when my wife said “I wonder what his penis looks like?”
Gratuitous Sex: Some talk of womanizing.
Gratuitous Violence: Nah.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: Only like most people would laugh at penis stuff.
Memorable Scene: The ending scene was awesome, but there were two scenes I won’t mention that were hilarious and might make you cringe if you a man.
Memorable Quote: “He has this great specimen, Elmo.”
Directed By: Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math

Who knew it was so difficult to get a penis donor? That, in essence, is the underlying theme of “The Final Member,” one of the most riveting and at times hilarious documentaries that will make most men cross their legs and give that “protect my junk” gesture with their hands, while women, or at least my woman, will watch in utter amazement at the quest for a penis specimen.

Sigurður “Siggi” Hjartarson is the founder and curator of the Icelandic Phallological Museum, a museum that was started pretty much to save his marriage as Siggi’s fascination and collecting of any penis he could find was driving his wife crazy and over-running the space in their house. Over the 40 years he has collected many a penis, from the teeny, tiny hamster dink to the giant, sperm whale johnson. He also is into wood-carving, carvings, of course, of penises, with clocks, utensils, and a variety of items any man would be proud to display in his man cave. All of this is great and swell, but what his museum was missing is the most treasured of specimens, the homo sapiens.

During “The Final Member” we follow Siggi’s quest for the piece that will make his museum and in fact, his life, complete. You see, Siggi is getting up in his years, and as a man who is proud of his museum he knows that without the human penis it’s just a collection of stuff. Low and behold enter two people, Pall Arason and Tom Mitchell. Pall is an elderly gentleman, an Icelandic legend not only for his adventurous nature, but also for his womanizing. Pall has decided that upon his death he would like to donate his penis to the museum, and Siggi is thrilled because what would be a better way to “complete” the collection than with an Icelandic legend. There is also Tom, however, who states “I felt ever since I was a kid that when the time came I didn’t want my penis to go to waste when I died.”, and has named his penis “Elmo.” He decides, though, that he would like to donate his penis while he is still alive, a fact that makes Siggi curious but also excited because he won’t have to wait for Pall to kick the bucket. Tom, however, is a weird dude, and if you think Siggi is obsessed with the penis, that’s nothing compared to Tom who has come up with how he wants his penis preserved, displayed, and even Siggi says of Tom, “This is a funny guy.”

Sure this is a little bit of a spoiler alert, but the movie does end with Siggi getting “The Final Member,” and the ending triumph scene is awesome. I was so happy for him at the end I almost got a little weepy. I will, however, not spoil two of the best scenes in the movie only to say that yes, they do involve the penises of Pall and Tom.

A lot of documentaries can be boring, drag on, and get preachy, but I was happy to find “The Final Member” a fascinating look at man’s obsession with his penis, blending the oddly serious nature of Siggi’s quest to complete his collection with a mix of humor that, well, goes along the line of how people generally find talking about the penis funny. It’s 5 stars out of 5 for “The Final Member.” Women will just shake their heads watching and wondering why men can be so obsessed with it, while the men will fully understand and maybe pull out the ruler to see if their penis is of legal length.

A great movie, and I now have a new vacation destination, the Icelandic Phallological Museum. The trick, now, will be convincing my wife we should go to Iceland.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!