7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story


Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 94 Minutes
From: Virgil Films
Available on Digital Platforms:  February 23, 2021
Get it via : Amazon | Apple TV

Cover are for 7 Yards: The Chris Norton StoryThe worst nightmare for parents of an athlete, in my head, is seeing your child get injured. Usually it’s just scary, the daughter or son gets up, and all is well.

On the day Chris Norton went down following a tackle at a college football game, everything was not well. Chris hit the turf, he couldn’t move, and in a small town a helicopter is a bad sign, and on this day it was the sign Chris’ injury wasn’t the type he would just be able get up from.

This is the start of “7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story,” a documentary about the struggles and triumphs Chris had following his injury, and his journey to walk seven yards down the aisle at his wedding.

So, Chris goes down, and in simple terms, Chris injured his neck and was given a 3% chance of any being able to move again. And so the journey begins.

The documentary leans heavily on hope and progress. Sure, there are glimpses of Chris going through mental challenges, but when he was able to move his arm a little, he had hope, when he was feeling down a nurse came in and said, “You will beat this,” and Chris had hope. Even when a doctor came in with no hope, dismissing as a “phantom” feeling Chris’ explaining to said doctor that he had some feeling in his big toe, Chris had hope and was determined to prove the doctor wrong.

Chris put it, “I was naive to believe in myself.” Sure enough, the doctor was proven wrong.

As the documentary progresses, it’s on to the next stage of Chris’ inspirational recovery. He’s out of the hospital and back to “normal” life after being discharged following months of therapy at The Mayo Clinic. Sure, he’s still in a wheelchair, but is a little bit more mobile in his upper body and has some leg movement.

Eventually Chris finds love with Emily, and we get to what would lead to Chris becoming a national news story – He wanted to walk across the stage at his college graduation.

At this point watching the documentary, we know we can’t put anything past Chris as, sure enough, following intense training, there he was, walking, with a little help, to get his diploma. No, it wasn’t like Chris was bouncing across the stage doing summersaults, but yes, I got weepy even knowing the scene was coming.

As Chris’ video of determination and hope goes viral with over 300 million views, Chris finds himself on the national stage, and maybe you might think the story is over.

Nope.

What happens when you have a great person by your side, and you want to spend the rest of your life with them? Yup, Emily accepts Chris’ proposal ,and it was on to Chris’ next goal of walking with Emily, arm and arm, down the aisle, seven yards, after the vows are said.

You see, up until this time, when Chris walked, someone was leading in front of him as it was more stable, but that wasn’t what Chris wanted. He wanted to be by Emily’s side, and well, with Chris’ track record of progress, it was going to happen.

And, oh yea, we also find out Chris and Emily decide to become foster parents, then adoptive parents, of five kids.

How’s that for being an inspiration, or at times for me, my sitting there going, “Crap, what a lazy, complaining slug I can be?”

“7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story” is about as inspirational as an inspirational documentary can get. It recreates some of the earlier parts of Chris’ life, those that didn’t have footage, especially since it wasn’t like the minute Chris went down someone said, “We have to film everything for a move ten years from now!”, intermixed with actual footage of Chris’ journey, and countless interviews of those around him.

The documentary does a good job spotlighting the many people around Chris who helped him in his progress from the injury, and really is a feel-good film. About the only thing that bothered me was the length. It clocks in at an a little over an hour and half, so sometimes there is the “Alright already, we get it, Chris is an inspiration. Show him walk across the stage!”

It’s 3 1/2 stars out of 5 for “7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story.” I did get weepy a few times along Chris’ journey, and his story is quite the inspiration for anyone going through struggles. Go ahead, watch Chris, and then try to complain about your life because it probably doesn’t have nearly any of the challenges Chris has overcome. Maybe you’ll be inspired to try just a little harder, too.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Synchronic


Rated: R | Running Time: 101 Minutes
From: Well Go USA Entertainment
Available on Digital Platforms:  January 12, 2021
Available on Blu-Ray: January 26, 2021
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Box art for the movie Synchronic.

It’s always a problem when there is a new party drug in town, and this time it’s a drug called Synchronic.

But here comes Dennis (Jamie Dorman) and Steve (Anthony Mackie).

They are paramedics and keep stumbling upon folks who find themselves dead, or in completely bizarre situations that are seemingly unexplained, and somehow stuff from different periods of time show up.

The link appears to be Synchronic, and “Synchronic” is also the name of the movie.

So, yea, we’ve got our heroes, or well, just a couple of dudes living their lives, but things start to go really weird. First you get Steve who finds out he has health issues, then you’ve got Dennis with daughter issues, and then you’ve got dead, or almost dead people, with items from the past or animal bites from animals that no longer live in New Orleans.

First they are all like, “Yea, it’s just another party drug gone wrong!”, but then Dennis’ daughter, Brianna (Ally Ioannides) becomes part of the mix, disappears, and Steve wants the drug off the street.

Enter Dr. Kermani (Ramiz Monsef).

He’s the dude who invented Synchronic, and he explains to Steve how it works, and that time travel is involved.

Yup, let’s do some time travel and try to find Dennis’ daughter!

Lucky for Dennis, and his daughter, that Steve is also kind of a scientist, able to analyze the time travel trips, so yes, Steve begins to hone in on being able to hopefully find Brianna.

And once we find this out, and that the good Doctor is dead, well, the ending is all but secure.

Time travel movies are always tricky. I mean, there is always the “I can go back in time and change things” aspect, or the “Is today the result of the going back?”, but “Synchronic” doesn’t dwell too much on the true metaphysical aspects of traveling through time, only hitting up a couple of sequences for Steve to understand how the drug works.

The movie also has a lot of limiting aspects to the drug so that it really stays focused on one thing, getting Brianna back.

I will say that “Synchronic” is an interesting look at time travel, and visually looks great when the time travel scenes take place. There is some sociological stories going on, especially with Steve being African American and traveling back into the days of slavery, and there is also some psychological aspects of death, but the movie doesn’t get too bogged down in those, instead focusing on Steve’s task at hand.

Don’t get too wrapped up into the flow of time thing, just treat the movie as a sci-fi thriller of a a man trying to find a lost girl, and you’ll be fine. Well, most of you should be fine except for one scene when Steve returns to the present day where I was just completely sad. I believe you may be sad, too, but I’m not telling so you can embrace your sadness.

At the end it’s 3 1/2 stars out of 5 for “Synchronic.” A nice sci-fi thriller for you while stuck inside. The Blu-ray has some fun commentary, making of, and things like that, but for me, the Blu-ray is worth its price of admission for the “Alternate Ending.” It was perfect.

That’s it for this one!  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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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.

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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.

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Warning Shot


Rated: R | Running Time: 87 Minutes
From: Seafoam Pictures and SDS Pictures
In Theaters and VOD: September 14, 2018
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

The press release read, “David Spade’s first Dramatic Role in the new film thriller, “Warning Shot”… Sure, that was interesting news, and I skimmed over the rest of the press release, but it wasn’t until the opening credits rolled that I blurted, “James Earl Jones? How in the hell did this movie get James Earl Jones?” Guess I missed that name in the release.

And so I was off, watching Mr. Spade in his first dramatic role, and waiting for Mr. Jones to grace the screen.

The gist of the story is that a family wants the water rights from a neighboring land owner. This family feud has been going on for years. David Spade is Bobby, the grandson of Calvin (Bruce Dern). Bobby is trying to make his granddad proud by finally getting the water, and he’s got a plan – He’s going to send two goons to convince the other granddad to sign over the rights.

Continue reading Warning Shot