Summerland


Rated: PG | Running Time: 99 Minutes
From: IFC Films
Available on DVD and Digital Platforms:  January 16, 2018
Get it via : Amazon

Box art for the movie Summerland

Gemma Arterton plays Alice. Alice is a writer and researcher kind of person. She is also a recluse. She also lives in Southern England.

That seems fine.

The problem is that people don’t like her, and kind of rightly so. How so? Well, not to give an early scene away, let’s just say that Alice has the opportunity to be a nice but, just as you think she might not be that bad, she takes all the items from the counter at the corner store.

Welcome to the movie “Summerland.”

Yup, Alice doesn’t seem to care about people. Combine that with her being a recluse and, well, she also gets tormented by the local kids who think she’s a witch, or a nazi, or that woman who will kill you in your sleep.

Enter Frank (Lucas Bond).

Frank is a young lad who is an evacuee from London, and Alice is being made to temporarily adopt Frank. You see, when London was being bombed during World War II, many children were evacuated to the outskirts of England so they wouldn’t die in the bombings while their parents stayed behind to be part of the war. Yay, save the children!

Well, here is Alice, a woman with no motherly instincts nor any desire to appreciate nor help anyone, now stuck with a young lad who is scared yet still adventurous as young lads might be.

Poor Frank.

Frank works to get acclimated for it’s unsure how long he’ll be away from his parents, and what better way than at a school. There he teams up with a girl named Edie (Dixie Egerickx), kind of the tomboy/outcast kind of girl, who is freaked when she finds out that Frank has to stay with the “witch and maybe Nazi,” Alice.

Life is weird for Frank.

As the movie moves along we get flashbacks to Alice in her young woman days, finding love with someone she can’t spend her life with, and we begin to see how Alice progressed to the jaded woman she has become.

The problem for Alice, though, is Frank, because Frank is actually interested in what Alice is researching and writing about, and yes, you can guess, they venture into a friendly relationship with Alice trying to figure out some of the motherly things she isn’t ready for.

The thing is that up to this point I’m mostly enjoying the movie. It’s progressing as a nice story of how Frank is able to get Alice to live life again and care about people, and most things are easy to figure out as you have the flashback stories of Alice in love with someone in the wrong era, a boy away from his family during war, then loss, then survival.

Then the “Oh, come on!” moments begin as it seems everything tries too hard to make you weepy.

I mean, if you didn’t see the foreshadowing leading up to Frank’s father dying, I apologize for that spoiler, but that seems so obvious from the arc of the story that it was inevitable. And that was fine, but then the progression to my going “Nice going, Edie!” started to lead to the story going where I didn’t think it needed to.

Gosh, this is so hard to write without giving things away, but let’s just say that I was happy with Alice and Frank just helping each other with life that I didn’t need other people to show up nor attempted plot twists to make the story more creative.

This was a little too bad for me because it made the movie kind of a mess at the end, trying to add too many things to “happily ever after” instead of just Alice bonding with Frank in circumstances no one would desire.

The movie, is, however, well done in terms of acting and looks. Gemma does a wonderful job transitioning from the recluse to the woman whose heart opens back up to people, and Lucas does good work playing a young lad just looking for stability in the craziness. The movie also looks beautiful, especially with the scenery of England, although the war scenes in London seem a little stagey.

Look, I can understand how some will find the “tying everything together” super sweet and tear-jerky, but I really just wish they would have let the movie get through the sadness then let Alice and Frank develop as a family. At the end it just seemed to try too hard.

It’s 3 stars out of 5 for Summerland. It’s nice, you might get weepy, but you also might just say “I didn’t need that plot twist.”

The Blu-ray had some extras, a weird behind the scenes that was just “outside” video of the movie sets, with no narration, and it’s got the standard interviews if those are your cup of tea. Not a huge reason to search for the Blu-ray, so feel free to nab this on the digital formats.

That’s it for this one! I’m Andy! L8R!!

Bliss

Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 87 Minutes
From: Dark Sky Films
Available in Theaters and VOD: September 27, 2019
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Just the other day I was saying to myself, “Self, whatever happened to George Wendt? You know, Norm from Cheers?” Sure, I could have Googled him, but it turns out I didn’t have to as it turns out Mr. Wendt was part of the cast for the horror flick, “Bliss.” I was excited to see where he fit in. As the movie is a horror film, I wish I could say things ended up well for “Norm,” I mean “Pops.”

Anywho, “Bliss” gives us Dezzy (Dora Madison). She is your basic starving artist, late on her rent, dropped by her agent, and fears she may have lost her painting mojo. Yup, she has painter’s block, and she likes to say every variation of “fuck” a lot.

What to do? Why go out for some drug-fueled partying, of course?

What should you have? Why, Bliss, of course?

Continue reading Bliss

Echo in the Canyon


Rated: PG-13 | Running Time: 82 Minutes
From: Greenwich Entertainment
Available on Blu-ray and DVD:  September 10, 2019
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Fiona Apple from radio station concert, Q101 Twisted 3 in 1996.

A picture of Fiona Apple popped up on my digital picture frame the other day. It spurred a question in me, namely, “What ever happened to Fiona Apple?”

Then, there I am watching “Echo in the Canyon,” a documentary about the music that came out of Laurel Canyon in California in the 1960’s, and who shows up? Yup, Fiona Apple! Now I know, she is still making music! Yay!

Okay, let’s get to the documentary…

“Echo in the Canyon” is a look at how the California music scene of the mid to late 1960’s blew up, thanks mostly in part to many of the influential artists who would go on to make that music settling in a spot in Los Angeles called Laurel Canyon.

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Nekrotronic


Rated: R | Running Time: 99 Minutes
From: Momentum Pictures
In Select Theaters VOD, and digital HD:  August 9, 2019
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Monica Bellucci is Finnegan in Nekrotronic.

Apparently demons and necromancers (demon hunters) have been fighting each other for, well, forever. They used to use crude weapons, then more advanced weapons, then laser type blasters, but damn, don’t touch my Internet.

Guess what? They touched my Internet.

So, we get Howard (Ben O’Toole). He works in the port-a-potty business sucking up crap, literally. He’s got a bumbling partner, Rangi (Epine Bob Savea), who is obsessed with a new video game on his phone. Low and behold the demons, well, head bad person Finnegan (Monica Bellucci) has developed this game as a way to suck souls thereby increasing her power in demonville.

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Bachman: Special Edition


Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 78 Minutes
From: Filmrise / MVD Entertainment Group
Available on DVD and Blu-ray:  May 10, 2019
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes | MVD Group

I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t realize Randy Bachman was a member of The Guess Who. Sure, I knew the songs “American Woman” and “These Eyes,” but I never knew Mr. Bachman was a part of that magic.

Enter “Bachman: Special Edition,” a documentary of Randy Bachman, out on Blu-ray and DVD.

Maybe you didn’t realize Randy Bachman was a part of The Guess Who, either. I’m guessing most of us think Bachman-Turner Overdrive when we hear his name. Also not realized might be that he is in his 70’s now, still making music (check out the most-interesting “By George – By Bachman”), and he was never the stereotypical partying kind of rock and roller. He just wanted to play guitar and make great music.

Which he does, and a lot of it.

Continue reading Bachman: Special Edition

White Chamber


Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 89 Minutes
From: Dark Sky Films
In Theaters and VOD: March 29, 2019
Get it via : iTunes

I get so mad at myself when I don’t see the plot twist coming. I also secretly applaud the film folks when they pull it off. And so I must applaud the film folks of “White Chamber” when the big reveal came towards the end of the movie because I just didn’t see it coming.

It was a wonderful “Ahhh!”

I won’t give this moment away, so let’s get to the story.

It appears the United Kingdom is in a civil war. Somehow the military has taken over, led by General Zakarian (Oded Fehr). Enter Ruth (Shauna Macdonald), or whatever the woman’s name is. She wakes up in this white room, a.k.a. chamber, completely lit up, and with a bump on her noggin.

Continue reading White Chamber

Level 16


Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 94 Minutes
From: Dark Sky Films
Available in Theaters and VOD:  March 1, 2019
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Strange things are afoot at the secret lab. Girls are locked away hoping for one thing, to be adopted by a nice family. That sounds nice and all, but as we watch the girls and their training, it appears something else might be going on. Hmm? I’m thinking the good Dr. Miro (Peter Outerbridge) and his assistant Miss Brixil (Sara Canning), may be up to no good. Uh oh!

Now, the press materials for “Level 16” have a number of references to the Hulu phenomenon, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The problem for me? This means absolutely nothing. Most of my experience with said Tale is walking by the TV when my wife is watching it. Yes, it looks interesting enough, but I’ve got enough shows, I don’t need to get sucked into another one. Me, I’ll do my best to review the film without the comparisons.

Back to the girls in the “school.”

Continue reading Level 16

Possum


Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 87 Minutes
From: Dark Sky Films
Available on DVD (Feb 12, 2019) and Digital Platforms
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

“Possum” is not your “axe-wielding” kind of horror movie. Nope. This is one messed up, creepy film. It’s the kind of weird movie where grotesque things infiltrate the minds of the characters and turn them into crazy.

What a good time!

Let’s get to the basics of the story…

Philip (Sean Harris) is a puppeteer on the verge of insanity. I don’t know in what universe it would be thought that this grotesque spider puppet with an equally grotesque human head, named “Possum,” might be entertaining to children, yet here is Philip, carrying it around in a bag.

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Bohemian Rhapsody


Rated: PG-13 | Running Time: 135 Minutes
From: 20th Century Fox Home Video
Available on Digital Platforms:  January 22, 2019
Available on DVD: February 12, 2019
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

While watching the movie, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” I had to chuckle when the scene arrived showing the various clips of reviews of the Queen album, “A Night at the Opera” and the epic song, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Yup, critics really didn’t like the album, didn’t get it, and basically dismissed it. Enter “Bohemian Rhapsody” the movie, and sure enough the critics didn’t really like it, didn’t get it, and basically dismissed it. The problem? The people going to the theater appeared to love it.

This reviewer is in line with the people going to the theater, though I am disappointed with a few liberties the film folks took with the life of Freddie Mercury (played in the film by Rami Malek). More about that, later.

Me, I was seven years old when “A Night at the Opera” came out. I can’t say I remember it back then, but what I do remember is “A Night at the Opera” was the first album I ever bought. I remember riding my bike to Big Town in Lorain, Ohio, putting the album on my turntable, and there it was, a skip, during “Seaside Rendezvous.” I didn’t care. I loved the album, and listened to it over, and over, and over. It’s the only piece of vinyl I will not depart with, has a place on my knick-knack shelf, and when I bought the CD of “A Night at the Opera” I would still sing the “skip” during “Seaside.” Queen has always been one of musical influences of my life.

It was with much hope that I didn’t want to be let down by the movie, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and I loved it.

Continue reading Bohemian Rhapsody

Pick of the Litter


Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 81 Minutes
From: IFC Films
Available on DVD and Digital Platforms:  December 4, 2018
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Sure, you might notice them, guide dogs for the blind. And sure, you might marvel at how well-trained they are. What is easy to forget, though, is that they start as puppies, cute puppies, with various personalities that will hopefully lead them to being great, guide dogs.

“Pick of the Litter” tells the story of five puppies, Patriot, Potomac, Primrose, Poppet, and Phil, and their respective journeys to determine if they have what it takes to be the most trusted companion for the blind. It is a story filled with joy, struggle, and touches of sadness, oddly, when the destiny of a few of the puppies ends up that they just get to be dogs.

The documentary takes you through the entire guide dog cycle. It begins with the puppies being born, through the process of foster families who start the initial training and development of the puppies, and into the advanced training the little ones must go through to eventually graduate to their new life as a guide dog. Through the process the dogs, and the foster families, are observed and assessed sometimes with surprising evaluations and heartbreaking realities for the foster families, but the folks at Guide Dogs for the Blind (guidedogs.com) have their goals, to develop the best companions for the blind and find those dogs who might be better as breeding dogs rather than guide dogs, so tough decisions must be made.

Continue reading Pick of the Litter