Category Archives: Movies

Active Shooter (2020)

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Active Shooter poster

Active Shooter

Holed up in an office restroom during an active shooter situation, three women find their trust tested when they start looking for holes in a fellow victim’s story.

0 of 5

No.

Just no.

Ridiculous premise that is so poorly executed it makes it even worse. Not a sympathetic character in the bunch, they are all just horrible people. For some reason, perhaps just to be especially cringe-worthy, we get one of the women throwing a jealous fit because her girlfriend/fling/who-knows-WTF is texting with someone out in the midst of the carnage.

Only positive I can come up with: At just over 1 hour, it is fairly short.

Original Title 8th Floor Massacre


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics N/A; Audience N/A
Vox AZ

Crime, Drama, Thriller
2021/1/3

All Is Bright (2013)

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All Is Brigth poster

All Is Bright

Two French Canadian ne’er-do-wells travel to New York City with a scheme to get rich quick selling Christmas trees. Easygoing charmer Rene (Paul Rudd) clashes with misanthropic ex-con Dennis (Paul Giamatti), whose wife Rene just stole. Still, this odd couple must make an honest go of it in this buddy comedy

.5 of 5

Two immediate problems with that summary are the words “buddy” and “comedy”, as this mess of a movie contains neither.

I had high hopes, after all All Is Bright is a Christmas movie. It stars Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd, with an assist from Sally Hawkins, all generally reliable performers. The acting is…fine. In Giamatti’s case, it is quite good. Unfortunately, the material is bad. The story is slow & depressing and every time you think there might a bright spot (or even just a little relief from the gloom) you end up sorely disappointed. Definitely not one for your “feel good” movie list.

Giving it half a point for Giamatti’s presence, Rudd’s brown tooth, and Sally Hawkins Russian accent, which is almost as adorable as her.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 49%; Audience 23%
Vox AZ

Comedy, drama
2020/12/27

The Selling (2011)

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The Selling poster

The Selling

A too-honest-for-his-own-good real estate agent has to sell a haunted house before its ghostly inhabitants ruin his life.

4 of 5

A movie I went into with the low expectations I usually have for low budget productions. I was beyond pleasantly surprised.

The Selling stars Gabriel Diani, who also wrote the screenplay, as Richard Scarry, a hapless, good-hearted Realtor. Scarry’s life gets even more complicated when the latest home he is trying to sell turns out to be well and truly haunted – and those ghosts aren’t shy.

The twists and turns are creative, the characters are amusing, and there were genuine laugh out loud moments (well, at least chuckle out loud moments)

There are a couple of raunchy bits, but they aren’t bad enough for me to drop my rating: I give it a 4 of 5, just know you may not want to watch it with your mother ­čÖé


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics N/A; Audience 81%
Vox AZ

Comedy, Horror
2020/10/20

This Beautiful Fantastic (2016)

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Beautiful, Fantastic

This Beautiful Fantastic

A young woman who dreams of being a children’s author makes an unlikely friendship with a cantankerous, rich old widower.

2.5 of 5

Beautiful, but not fantastic.

This seems clearly to be an attempt to recreate the magic of Amelie, right down to a doe-eyed star. The visuals are lovely, but the story is…predictable. There are several wonderful performances, and a couple that are less so.

If you are looking for a pretty bit of fluff to fill 100 minutes, this would be a great choice. If you love gardening and/or want inspiration for your yard, this could be flick worth renting.

But, it’s not going to win any awards


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 64%; Audience 73%
Vox AZ

Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
2018/8/12

The Immigrant (2013)

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The Immigrant

The Immigrant

1921. An innocent immigrant woman is tricked into a life of burlesque and vaudeville until a dazzling magician tries to save her and reunite her with her sister who is being held in the confines of Ellis Island.

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This movie is loaded with atmosphere & mood, but not a lot more. It struck me as an excuse to feature Marion Cotillard in shot after pouty shot of her melancholy face. The story seems assembled around her, not always convincingly.

The surrounding cast was impressive, overall. Jeremy Renner, though, was woefully underutilized in a role that should have been pivotal but instead felt peripheral and superfluous.

From Argemaluco, a reviewer on IMDB:
“The Immigrant isn’t made with enough passion for us to plunge into the main character’s experiences, and it doesn’t have a concrete point besides of being a sample book of human suffering which should have been touching, but it isn’t.”

Worth seeing if you are a fan of the actors, but I wouldn’t say it is something to seek out.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 88%; Audience 61%
Vox AZ

Mr. Turner (2014)

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Mr Turner box image

Mr. Turner

An exploration of the last quarter century of the great, if eccentric, British painter J.M.W. Turner’s life.

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It’s been a while since I shared a movie review, but this one moved me so much I just had to log on to spare you from ever, ever watching it. I am amazed I made it through the 2 1/2 hours – yes, 2 hours and 30 minutes – but I’m no quitter.

I had such high hopes after seeing the trailer on one of our other recent DVD picks. Timothy Spall, usually a reliable strong point in a movie, is here reduced to little more grunting, mumbling…and occasionally something that sounds like a wild boar being strangled. The affectations that worked for Billy Bob Thorton in Sling Blade, which were poorly echoed by Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain, are nothing but an additional annoyance here – and a hindrance to any chance of storytelling. Assuming there was even a story to be told.

The movie, ostensibly based of JMW Turner’s life, gives us little relief from horrible people, living horrible lives, doing horrible things, making horrible decisions. Even the paintings don’t give us a lift from the oppressive tedium. If not for Marion Bailey as the chipper Mrs Booth there would have been no lightness at all.

There is literally no one in my circle to whom I would recommend this flick.
Though the critics seem to like it (can’t imagine why) the audience seems more in line with me – fun to read their reviews, as well.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 98%; Audience 57%
Vox AZ

The Book Thief (2013)

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The Book Thief

The Book Thief (2013)

Based on the beloved international bestselling book, The Book Thief tells the story of an extraordinary, spirited young girl sent to live with a foster family in WWII Germany. While subjected to the horrors of Nazi Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others, including a Jewish refugee who is being sheltered by her adoptive parents in the basement of their home.

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I was unfamiliar with the book on which this movie is based, but wanted to see it because of the quality cast (Geoffrey Rush & Emily Watson). I also had found, while researching the music for a friend, video clips (like this interview, and this one) which intrigued me. After seeing this beautiful film, I will definitely put The Book Thief on my reading list.

Narrated by Death himself, this tale shows ordinary Germans during Hitler’s rise while focusing on Liesel, her adoptive family, and the working class residents on her street. Some of the neighbors embrace the Nazi party, some just try to survive, Liesel’s parents try to save the son of a Jewish friend.

As Liesel grows up, she finds great joy and comfort in stories. After the B├╝rgermeister arranges a mass book burning in the town square, the books that remain become even more precious to her – requiring some creativity and stealth for their acquisition. Hence the title.

The war progresses as wars do, the Nazis grow their evil as Nazis do. Death is always there keeping us abreast of his work: “The bombs were falling thicker now. It’s probably fair to say that no one was able to serve the F├╝hrer as loyally as me.”

Ultimately, what I appreciated most perhaps is the ability to convey humanity in the German people, without downplaying the depths of evil in which their country is submerged.

The performers that drew me to this film originally were definitely not a disappointment, heading up an impressive cast overall. Notably: Canadian actress Sophie N├ęlisse, who is luminous and heartbreaking, as our protagonist. As Rudy, her lovesick friend, Nico Liersch brings to life his hopefulness and longing.

This movie is perfect for most in my circle, though may be a bit slow and ‘small’ for a few.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 46%; Audience 75%
Vox AZ

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