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Showing posts from June 26, 2016

Review: Every Secret Thing

The story of Ronnie and Alice, who as girls were not the best of friends, but overweight Alice’s mother (Diane Lane) pretty much forced Alice to include Ronnie (who comes from a not great home life) in everything. Ronnie’s shy and a little weird, whilst Alice is jealous, spiteful, and needy. When they were both 11, Ronnie and Alice get convicted of killing a biracial baby and sent to juvenile detention. At age 18 they are released from juvey, Alice (Danielle MacDonald) and Ronnie (Dakota Fanning) aren’t finding an easy time of it re-integrating into society, and it’s clear that Alice’s mother still very much favours Ronnie over her own daughter. Alice and Ronnie also blame one another for what happened to the baby when they were 11. When another young biracial child goes missing from a local furniture store, police detectives Elizabeth Banks (who still hasn’t recovered from discovering the dead girl’s body in the earlier case) and Nate Parker come into town naturally turn to Alice and…

Review: Sideways

Soap and voiceover actor Thomas Haden Church is set to get married in a week, and so he and his wine connoisseur friend Paul Giamatti set off on a tour of Californian wine country, with a little golf for Haden Church thrown in as well. Giamatti (who is a teacher with ambitions of being a writer) has still to get over his two year old divorce, whilst Haden Church is ready to fuck any woman in sight before settling down. Needless to say, this odd couple of best friends with seriously differing personalities are in for a real test of their friendship. Virginia Madsen plays a waitress and wine aficionado whom Giamatti is sweet on, with Haden Church setting his lustful sights on her motorcycle-riding, wine-pourer friend Sandra Oh. Jessica Hecht plays Giamatti’s ex, and M.C. Gainey appears in all of his unfortunate naked glory as an angry husband of one of Haden Church’s conquests.

This 2004 adaptation of the novel by Rex Pickett isn’t my favourite Alexander Payne film by a longshot (“About…

Review: Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

Based primarily on a Lawrence Wright book, documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney (“Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God”) has another fascinating and disturbing winner with this 2015 look at the secretive Church of Scientology. To be perfectly honest, I have pretty mixed feelings on Scientology myself. I’m an Agnostic Atheist, so I neither believe in God nor do I believe we’ll ever really know the truth, nor do I think it’s necessarily an important line of questioning in the first place. I’m all about the here and now, basically and try to be equally sceptical of all forms of religion, as well as trying to be equally respectful of believers of any religion. There’s too much depression, confusion, and sadness in the world, so I’m in favour of people finding what works for them in understanding things like ‘The Ultimate Question’ (the answer, of course is 42!), so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. That’s where Scientology (and some other religious off-shoots) ends up a bit tricky for…

Review: Maximum Conviction

‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and Steven Seagal play a couple of tough guy security contractors (and former CIA guys) overseeing the impending closure of a SuperMax military prison. It was supposed to be an easy gig, but the arrival of a couple of female prisoners (Aliyah O’Brien and Steph Song) for a temporary stay puts a spanner or two in the works. Along come a bunch of heavily armed mercenaries led by supposed Marshal Michael ParĂ© who aren’t quite on the level and are in need of something Song is apparently in possession of. He holds the cowardly warden (Ian Robison) hostage, and has absolutely no problems murdering the fuck out of anyone who gets in his way. By the way, the mercenaries get smuggled in a truck hilariously labelled ‘Troy Disposal Services’. Yeah, I see what you did there. Whilst Austin is stuck somewhere inside the prison to fend for himself, Seagal and his other co-workers (including Bren Foster) had left to go drinking, and arrive back to see that the fit has hit the…

Review: Heathers

Veronica (Winona Ryder) is one of the most popular girls at her high school and a part of a bitchy clique with three other girls all named Heather (Kim Walker, a pre-“90210” Shannen Doherty, and Lisanne Falk). Veronica, who used to hang out with a much less ‘popular’ crowd, is tiring of all this ‘mean girl’ stuff. It’s just not who she is. Enter J.D. (Christian Slater), a troubled newcomer who catches Veronica’s attention, and shows disdain for her refusal to call out her friends’ snooty, fake bullshit. They quickly fall for one another. He eventually gets Veronica onto his way of thinking, as they plan a prank on one of the Heathers (the late Kim Walker). The prank goes awry, however, and Walker ends up dead. They cover the death up to look like a suicide, but before long things have spiralled way out of control as more students meet their deaths, and Veronica starts to realise there’s something very, very wrong about this ‘bad boy’. Jennifer Rhodes plays Veronica’s clueless mother, …