Review – Intensive Care

Directed by: Jared Bentley
Distributed by: Screen Media
Starring: Tara Macken, Jai Rodriguez, Leslie Easterbrook, Kevin Sizemore

Intensive Care PosterRetirement is hard on anyone, when special forces operative Alex decides to take a step back from the intense life of the battlefield it’s a simpler life caring for the elderly in the nursing field until one-day, things take a hard turn.

Intensive Care puts Alex our central character into the life of an in-house nurse for a slowly dying elderly woman. One day things change-up from the usual routine as Danny, a seemingly entitled and broke grandson appears into the fray hoping to check on their health and see how close they might be to shoving their way in for a chunk of the wealth. While past nurses may have fallen under his charm, Alex is an entirely different cut of cloth but it’s not something she tends to flaunt around.

It’s a tale as old as time, a bratty relative comes back into the fray, expects the world to fall at their feet when that fails they orchestrate a hostile plan of action. Okay nevermind, that’s pretty exclusive to this situation specifically, Danny has a hard time taking no for an answer and that leads to some very foul play all around. Thankfully this mashup of nursing and special ops play comes together well as the film teases skill sets and bits of action to build up Alex leading up to the conflict. Instead of rushing to scene after scene of action, it’s paced with reasonable breaks and development.

Some films can’t really set up a strong narrative with choreography to develop the experience, we see Intensive Care actually balance that workload, giving time to fight scenes without feeling generic and bland or relying on rough prop execution to oversell a moment. Given the nature of Alex, it’s natural that she’s going to essentially play with her prey a bit and in a single moment, end the entire fight in a swift stroke which fits the execution.

The general camera work is clean, the camera motion is kept to a minimum, lighting feels organic and even in the transition from day to evening, there’s an attention to detail to keep a consistent presentation without overdoing it. Fight scenes have a smooth transition to showcase the action and tension in the room, not falling flat to a single position and angle that keeps the immersion running.  The team does good work to keep the momentum with a modern pacing, not attempting to get absorbed into too many motion effects or complex moments. The bathroom scene is actually a solid representation of that in the movie.

Audio and soundtrack play a vital role, selling action moments as glass breaks, heavy objects clash and tense moments between criminals and Alex build. There’s a nice presentation of ambiance to the household as voices don’t completely sound like they’ve been handled in post-production sitting in a studio lacking any atmosphere or reverb from the room. There’s warmth, echo and a genuine appeal as the sound develops from room to room with variations in-depth throughout.

Overall, Intensive Care is a fun action film, running just over an hour with a good base premise to grab viewers and solid action moments to bring entertainment. Tara Macken does a great job holding up the film as the lead and bringing the fight scenes to life, lending experience and enthusiasm to help create tense moments without feeling stiff and bringing emotion to the moment throughout. The cast and crew round out the film with a higher production value on the film while still having moments to play with the audience here and there.

Review – Elves

Produced by: Pikchure Zero
Directed by: Jamaal Burden
Starring: Stephanie Marie Baggett, Deanna Grace Congo, Amy Jo Guthrie, Melissa L. Vega

This holiday season, while everyone gets cozy around the fire and feels a calming cheer, horror fans can buddy up with Elves, a new sequel to The Elf. Taking in a holiday horror flick that puts the lives of multiple people on the naughty list into turmoil as they’re put into murderous challenges allowing them to survive.

It all starts out well, you’re hanging out with friends, some well over the holiday spirit, a few shots go down and suddenly you’re tricked into signing up for a dark ritual for survival. Friends are dying off left and right and so are strangers in the town as possession, hallucinations, and more fill the air. Well, that might not be how it goes for everyone, but in Elves it sure is. The film uses creeper vibes throughout the runtime in visual and audio form to keep things just weird enough. The dolls themselves are a bit nightmare inducing, if you thought those cherub porcelain figures at the store were creepy, they’ve got nothing on these dolls.

The story wastes no time getting into action, the group finds itself at odds to process the fate they’ve been dealt and the movie systematically runs through their challenges and actions. It’s brutal and blunt while also playing to the apparent fouls of their lives leading up to that point. When resistance is met the elf turns things up a notch to make sure they play along. As with many horror films of this genre, it’s not some unity moment where they all group together and overcomes the odds, there are some brutal handouts for everyone.

Composition wise it’s a pretty consistent film, the contrast between the every day and the darker moments is clear, switching to high contrast or extreme darkness with murky ambiance. The cast does well with the work, showing signs of paranoia, fear, and apathy. You get a feel for the lone wolves that would rather let everyone else burn if it means they can get another day and how everyone seems to underestimate the power of a traumatizing elf doll.

Elves is definitely something geared for the horror fans out there, and for those hoping to spring a fun twist to the holidays, it’s a good way to kill an evening with something out of the ordinary that still plays to the season. The story has fun twists and turns, there’s an air that everyone is genuinely doomed and I can’t say enough how utterly creepy that elf doll is and how it’ll haunt me for a few weeks at least. Running a movie based on an inanimate object isn’t easy and it’s done in this case with enough mysticism and visual play that it slips in there without being weird.

Review – Clyde Cooper

Produced by: Souvenir Films
Written by: Peter Daskaloff
Starring: Jordi Vilasuso, Abigail Titmuss, Richard Neil, Aria Sirvaitis
Runtime: 81 minutes

Throwback films to the old detective noir era are always interesting, mixing what was essentially a simpler era with modern technology while still trying to have the same atmosphere. Clyde Cooper is the latest film to take on this tricky formula, putting itself in the near future and pitting a gumshoe detective against untraceable figures and mob-style opposition. We see Clyde hit the ground running with a classic case, trying to trace some steps on a basic missing person and finding himself tumbling down a rabbit hole of trouble.

For all it’s challenges Clyde Cooper delivers a simple and effective storyline with enough twists to keep it going. Just when one angle seems more or less the case, another clue drops, Clyde gets a new idea and the movie rolls with it. The device is active just enough for the film to not seem overly repetitive. As it does pay homage to this detective era, there’s flirtation, smooth talking, and general suave attitudes for all. For those unfamiliar, it might not have the fastest pacing but it is about the way it goes, dramatic moment, sudden interference or obstruction and try to find the trail again.

Jordi Vilasuso does his best to play it cool and calm, often throwing in pickup lines casually and playing them off innocently. While the smooth voice is an interesting change, it never really deviates in emotion, it’s awkward for the character as it robs it of some depth as everything is just constantly okay. Outside of the suave design of Clyde, there’s pretty much the vaping which replaces nervous cigarettes or cigars while they think and drink on the case. There’s almost too much mystery as to why he’s that calm in any situation. A troubled breath, hint of deeper fury would have gone further to develop Clyde more.

That said, overall Jordi and the cast do well with the film and at least keep a consistent bar, it’s a weird case, to say the least. For a detective that seems to like to keep it as simple as they can, it just pushes them well out of comfort. At just over an hour the film is pressed for storytelling but the cast gets through it without a hitch while also staying close to form as a classical mystery.

In the technical realm, the film plays out well, the depth of field creates a more immersive effect and the use of multiple camera angles helps give a fuller presentation vs a single camera setup. The audio mastering in public scenes has nice value with depth and atmosphere, letting the sound team enhance key moments with simple and eerie tones just at the right time. Lighting allows play between key characters, moments, and the background characters so nothing just goes into obscurity.

Detective stories are a challenge, reproducing those moments of the era with new technology available really makes for a troubling case. A detective doesn’t have to just go head to head with everyone on their suspect list necessarily and guessing games about prints or DNA are less likely to happen with accurate tools out there. Still, Clyde Cooper works to minimize the reliance on pure technology and goes back to snooping, rough Q&A, and having bad guys get lucky with the drop on him. For fans of tributes to the era, it’s a fun way to pass some time while still offering some fresh takes.

Review – Pitchfork

Director: Glenn Douglas Packard
Produced by: Glenn Douglas Packard, Darryl F. Gariglio, Noreen Marriott
Associate Producer: Shaun Cairo
Screenplay: Glenn Douglas Packard, Darryl F. Gariglio
Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment

Horror is a touchy genre, so much focus on visuals, shock and awe leave viewers almost always expecting something to pop out right at them all the time, with such a high level of anticipation it’s interesting when films play around with the inner workings to deliver something out of the norm. Pitchfork follows a group of carefree college kids as one of their friends faces their parents after coming out to them.

There’s a mix of favorability within the cast, people pulling dirty deeds on each other and generating a sense of wonder on who falls prey first to this beast of the night. Most of the cast are blissfully ignorant of the troubles lurking on the farm, throwing a farm rave of sorts while everything goes down. Oddly enough Pitchfork runs with a long lead into the damage and even when it goes down it’s not a rapid-fire affair, instead, it’s methodical and downright cruel in some delivery but it’s what helps shape the experience.

Pitchfork uses the classic teen slasher experience and twists it around while also dousing the story with a blast of psychological shock on top of all else, it’s what helps define the movie as the events layer into a bloody mess. I can’t say I completely expected the twists and turns the movie took and efforts it made to defy classic staples of horror movies in the mainstream. It’s campy and violent while carrying disturbing twists which grab curious fans from across the spectrum.

While I came into Pitchfork expecting bodies to start dropping in typical fashion, it was anything but that. The film develops its own pacing and general structure that leaves viewers waiting for what lands next.

Cast:
Daniel Wilkinson
Lindsey Nicole
Brian Raetz
Ryan Moore
Celina Beach
Keith Webb
Sheila Leason
Nicole Dambro
Vibhu Raghave
Rachel Carter
Andrew Dave-Collins
Carol Ludwick
Derek Reynolds
Addisyn Wallace
Anisbel Lopez

DVD / Blu-ray release date: May 2nd, 2017

Review – Mom & Me

Writer & Director: Ken Wardrop
Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment

Mothers day is around the corner and a new limited release movie is landing early to remind many of us about those unique relationships with the mothers in our lives. Mom & Me joins Joe Cristiano in his pursuit for motherly stories from Oklahoma, deemed one of the manliest states in the US. It’s a mixed series of emotion, hearing tales of childhood discipline, discovering later in life friendships and growth and more.

Just over an hour in clips and stories the experiences sweep across the board, while generally upbeat the tales do have darker periods which adds a unique dose of honesty to the film. While there are segments of love and respect from many, there are also tales of frustration and rebellion and the realizations that eventually came from those conflicts which brought about new appreciation and growth.

Young or old there’s an interesting crossover of experiences throughout Wardrop’s film and the cameos that highlight the interactions between those callers and their mothers. Not everyone has a happy ending, some had bouts of violence, drugs and other life struggles that they faced but the unique theme is, in the end, their mothers persevered and came back when their kids still needed them most and those moments etched themselves into the minds of those men.

Overall Mom & Me brings viewers back to their own memories with their mom or significant parent in their life. The reflections bring smiles and pull a tear or two out while listening to stories of care, persistence, struggle and forgiveness. For Oklahoma listener’s there is little doubt about the impact and position their mothers had in their lives and how it’s shaped them after realizing the power the relationship brought to their lives. It’s hard to say it’s specifically a feel good piece, there are so many windows for viewers to reflect on the past, the present and the future and where they stand themselves.

The filming highlights multiple dynamics of those relationships told while cutting itself short enough to not overstay its welcome. As a VOD title or a casual film to catch it would deliver a worthwhile experience and that’s what makes it stand out given the timing of the release, allowing viewers to take a moment to let it all soak in after it’s all said and done.

Review – No Rest for the Wicked – A Basil and Moebius Adventure

Magnetic Press is in full force this week helping push news on the release of the Adventures of Basil and Moebius graphic novel. Instead of just ads or trailers or promo material though, they launched a short film titled No Rest for the Wicked. The film is a quick shot introducing the characters and a bit of how they get down to business. Ray Park, Malcom McDowell and even Zachary Levi join up for the central characters in this brawl and heist storyline.

For those new to the series as I am, it’s a rougher introduction, we don’t get much story on Basil or Moebius coming in, the movie with time constraint focuses on the here and now and slowly sprinkles in bits of those details at the end which do help tidy things up. That said, even with the budget and time limitations they do tell a fun story through action and script of course. Gestures and mannerisms of each character start to emerge which set these two apart and help tell why they’re in this high security flat to begin with.

Is there more to carry out? There always that chance in any media, with the introductions made it’s unlikely to have that cold start in the next installment when it comes along, as the story progressed the stiffer lines and gestures took a step back to let the actors really start feeling in their own zone. Other than that, some plot closures would be nice versus just letting it seem like things just fell into place because they had to.

Personally I do enjoy buddy style movies, Basil and Moebius are that mix of rough behavior and grace that create entertaining conflict and development, a brawler with a smooth talking thief who always has an eye on the prize. I haven’t reviewed the graphic novel yet but I can feel that it would feed the character and story needs I have from sitting through No Rest for the Wicked. When I’m able to complete that I’ll pass along my verdict in a dedicated feature.

For those who want to check out the film on their site give it a go with this link, or you can just check it out below.

AUTOMATA coming to theaters and OnDemand next week

Automation is something society thrives for, making things easier, reducing the strain of manual labor and risk of life on dangerous jobs. In AUTOMATA it’s a world where we’ve excelled to full assistance but our robot companions have hit their own milestone, self-modification and modifying other robots to share in this self-awareness.

Antonio Banderas has the job of keeping an eye over this sub-population in the world, striking down any robots deviating from the norms until something new happens, a shift that can stir the entire ecosystem into turmoil and it’s up to him to lock it down for good.

Need for Speed releases “The Guys” Featurette

It’s no secret I love racing and cars, from WRC, MotoGP, F1 to games and anything else related. So naturally when I first saw the teasers for the NFS movie I was excited, it may not be some avant-garde level film that changes the world forever but it’s probably entertaining and able to feed my car interests for the duration of the film. Today we have a new snippet to show that helps reinforce that goodness.

While NFS might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I’ll certainly check it out when it hits theaters next month. Fingers crossed it doesn’t disappoint, come on Aaron Paul, lets see this come together.

Aubrey Plaza teases in Daria trailer sketch

Aubrey Plaza is on fire these days, using her power and recognition from Parks and Recreation to jump into independent movies that fall off the regular formula. This year she’s pushing out The To Do List from CBS Films. While there have been talk show clips and magazine articles detailing crazy happenings on set. This new teaser she’s helped produce is something that hits just the right spot for me.

Aubrey Plaza is. DARIA in DARIA: HIGH SCHOOL REUNION.

Seriously that’s pretty amazing to see even if it’s just a tease. I loved watching that show when it was on, unfortunately I have my doubts MTV would really throw their weight behind such a venture though.

In the meantime you can see Aubrey in a movie actually coming out this Friday, The To Do List has a ton of trailers, we’re throwing down some previews below. Enjoy!

New DREDD poster and film stills arrive

DREDD style judgement is coming and it’s going to get ugly, the Mega City One judge is making a return to the big screen and he’s ready for everything the world can throw at him. We have the newest poster and some cool stills from the movie to pass along while we wait for the September release of the film. Also for those who have missed out, check below for the full press release synopsis to see where this is all going.
DREDD Stills:
————————————————————————————————————————————————–
  
————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Synopsis:
The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One- a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd (Karl Urban) is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge – a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of “Slo-Mo” experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed.

During a routine day on the job, Dredd is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a rookie with powerful psychic abilities thanks to a genetic mutation. A heinous crime calls them to a neighborhood where fellow Judges rarely dare to venture- a 200 story vertical slum controlled by prostitute turned drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her ruthless clan. When they capture one of the clan’s inner circle, Ma-Ma overtakes the compound’s control center and wages a dirty, vicious war against the Judges that proves she will stop at nothing to protect her empire. With the body count climbing and no way out, Dredd and Anderson must confront the odds and engage in the relentless battle for their survival.

The endlessly inventive mind of writer Alex Garland and director Pete Travis bring DREDD to life as a futuristic neo-noir action film. Filmed in 3D with stunning slow motion photography sequences, the film returns the celebrated character to the dark, visceral incarnation from John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra’s revered comic strip.

Release date: September 21, 2012