“The Conjuring” movie universe has been a horror lovers dream, but sadly a mixed bag of movies that all interconnect in some form. The core movies that started it all are fantastic, while the rest have been either abysmal or mediocre. Thankfully, there was still some momentum in the popularity of Annabelle to allow for “Annabelle: Creation” to restore the missed opportunity that was her spin off. “The Curse of La Llorona” is a nice departure from Ed and Lorraine Warren that digs deep in to the roots of “The Conjuring” universe. It’s a horror drama about parenting, grief, revenge, and a vicious maternal villain like the previous films, but this time the producers dig in to Latin folklore.
In 1989, Nintendo was beginning to take over the world, and had done so right out of the wake of the video game crash of the eighties. With arcades fading, Nintendo was one of the strongest competitors for home gaming consoles, and in 1989 they were juggernauts of pop culture. Back in that era, just about everything was TMNT, The Simpsons, and Nintendo, and the latter had taken the minds and hearts of gamers and tech geeks everywhere that loved a good challenging platformer or run and gunner. In 1989, Nintendo finally branched out in to the wider arena of pop culture by basically helping to fuel a kids’ movie that would become a cult classic.
It says a lot about an actor’s abilities and skill to compel an audience in a movie that’s based almost solely around them and on them. Mads Mikkelsen has always been one of the most underrated actors of my generation and in “Arctic” he proves why. Much in the realm of “Castaway,” and “All Is Lost,” director Joe Penna sets down on a man who has lost just about everything and bases much of the dramatic and emotional weight on how he responds non-verbally. Mikkelsen is up to the challenge, suffice to say, and that’s what helps make “Arctic” a worthwhile outing for fans of survival thrillers. “Arctic” surely doesn’t re-invent the wheel, but it’s compelling enough to warrant at least one viewing.
Hoping to market off of the momentum of “Captain Marvel,” Netflix releases Brie Larson’s 2017 directed film “Unicorn Store,” a movie I can describe as a delightfully cute, drama comedy for the dreamers and artists, but it suffers from a hazy message to its audience. I’m one of Larson’s biggest admirers and fans, but “Unicorn Store” is a filled with so much quirk that it forgets to come full circle and fill us in on what it’s trying to say. Is it best to sometimes abandon your dreams for better dreams? Is it fine to have dreams but embrace adult responsibility? Are dreams for some people, but not for others?
For this week’s edition of “Shorts Round Up of the Week” I check out some rich dramas, a few ambitious fantasy films one of which involves bullying, and a pitch black revenge movie co-starring M. Emmet Walsh.
If you’d like to submit your short film for review consideration, submissions are always opened to filmmakers and producers.
It was only a matter of time until studios would come along and start trying to duplicate the formula that “A Quiet Place” perfected. Hoping to strike lightning twice after the shocking pop culture success of “The Birdbox,” Netflix adapts yet another novel in to an apocalyptic thriller featuring monsters working on human senses, and a family trying to stick together, doggone it. And it stinks. Director John R. Leonetti’s horror drama has a good idea somewhere buried beneath this hacky often mean spirited mess, but damned if I could find out how to salvage it.
Billy Blanks was one of the archetypal straight to video action stars of the nineties, he was one of those men with a ton of charisma and appeal who never quite found his niche in American cinema. He managed to be pushed in to the gallery of people like Jeff Speakman, Roddy Piper, and Don “The Dragon” Wilson (no disrespect to those gentlemen), but always deserved so much more. He was relegated to a ton of straight to video action and genre titles eventually becoming a fitness guru for his Tae Bo program. It’s a shame because Blanks does have a very good on screen presence and could have likely launched in to the blockbuster fold alongside contemporaries like Wesley Snipes.
One of the best movies about the American Drive-In that I’ve possibly ever seen, “At the Drive-In,” is a wonderful documentary directed by Alexander Monelli that embraces and celebrates everything that’s so enchanting about the drive-in. It’s also a testament to the love and commitment that movie buffs are capable of, even in the face of financial dire straits and a changing climate of pop culture. Drive-Ins have become something of a memory of American pop culture and in the new generation is a community that has struggled to stay alive. One of the few standing is the Mahoning Drive-In in Pennsylvania.