“Brawl in Cell Block 99” is the second feature from director S. Craig Zahler, the man behind “Bone Tomahawk,” the acclaimed horror western that sent critics buzzing. I, for one, didn’t enjoy the movie, so imagine my surprise when I tuned in to “Brawl in Cell Block 99,” a movie that is essentially a throwback to prison brawlers and a compelling drama. Not since “Raze” have I seen a movie so raw and vicious in its depiction of humanity. Vince Vaughn gives an enormous turn as Bradley, a man at the end of his rope who literally has to dive in to hell to save his wife and unborn child. And what’s surprising is not how far he goes, but how easy it is for a good man to sink in to hell so rapidly.
2017’s been the year of Stephen King, and it’s been a great bit of fortune that fans have been given mostly great cinematic adaptations of his work. “1922” is a deliberately paced and ingeniously calculated drama that hearkens back to the classic Victorian era murder thrillers. King invokes the style of Edgar Allan Poe for “1922,” a Southern Gothic drama that’s heavily steeped in horror. While it’s been lumped in to the Stephen King horror category, “1922” is more an examination on the concept of greed, and how it can rot us from inside out. It’s more tragedy with a tinge of horror more than horror, despite how menacing director Zak Hilditch paints the twisted albeit beautiful aesthetic.
There’s a reason why sometimes a one off joke is used just once. It’s because stretching it out destroys the momentum of the joke. Someone behind “Cute Little Buggers” loved the scene in “The Holy Grail” involving the man eating cute rabbit and decided to turn it in to a horrendous horror comedy. Not that I have anything against movies that take inspiration from Monty Python, but when they have a rhyme or reason, and an actual good idea, I’m all for it. But “Cute Little Buggers” seems centered on the premise of one joke that one joke that gets boring after being used repeatedly mainly since the joke just isn’t that funny in the beginning, anyway.
I’ve seen so many hours of Looney Tunes that it’s obscene. My mom bought my brother and I about five or six Looney Tunes compilations on VHS when we were kids and I saw them at least eighty times a week. When I got cable television, I watched looney tunes almost obsessively. From the “Bugs & Tweety Show” Saturday mornings, to various hour blocks on Cartoon Network like “Toonheads” and “Acme Hour,” to twenty two day blocks of Bugs Bunny called “June Bugs” my appetite was insatiable. One of the big things you learn being a Looney Tunes fanatic is that Bugs Bunny was not the OG of the Warner animated gallery, it was in fact Porky Pig.
I was not at all a fan of the original “Batman” animated movie, as I felt it was somewhat unfocused. Thankfully “Batman vs. Two Face” not only gets the idea more about the Batman series, but uses Two Face quite cleverly. As most fans know, the original Adam West Batman show wanted Clint Eastwood to play Two Face, but deemed the character too disturbing for viewers. Producers for this animated movie go back to re-cast Two Face for their show, but bring aboard another television icon to play the villain, William Shatner. Shatner is perfect for the role of the duplicitous deviant ne’er dowell known as Two Face, and what makes the pot even sweeter is that he’s turned in to an allegory for homosexuality.
George Cukor’s “The Philadelphia Story” isn’t just a masterful romance comedy, but it’s also an important piece of filmmaking that marked important turning points in the lives of its stars. In particular there was Katharine Hepburn who, believe it or not, was considered “Box Office Poison” by critics after a series of cinematic flops. Once “The Philadelphia Story” proved her brilliance as an actress, her career only went up. “The Philadelphia Story” is one of the least cloying romance comedies I’ve ever seen, as it’s one wrapped up in genuine human emotion and spite that tends to be shockingly entertaining. The fact that the film is models itself after the hit play never hinders the production, allowing “The Philadelphia Story” to feel very lively and energetic.
Michael Buie’s “The Lake” is a masterpiece of a short film. It’s a beautiful, somber, and heartbreaking look at how the inevitability of our death doesn’t mean we have to stop living life. I sat through the entirety of “The Lake” with a teary eye, mainly because director and writer Michael Buie manages to convey the terror and confusion of being told you’re about to die with pure brilliance. “The Lake” is never exploitative or over saccharine, it’s just about learning to make the most of the time we have in our life.
Shout! Factory once again comes forward with a nifty collection for fans of action, science fiction, and Halo, comprising four of the web series from the mid-aughts that chronicled the “Halo” game universe. With a tight package and a slew of great extras and bells and whistles for the fans, this video collection is strictly for the die hard Halo fanatics that want to see more of this world, and learn so much more about the Spartans and war that’s ensuing.