Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

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It’s pretty sad that at the end of the day, director Sam Raimi had to waste his talents on what is basically a regurgitation of the classic “Wizard of Oz” 1939 film adaptation. He doesn’t even get to think outside the box and offer up his own vision of Oz. Basically, “Oz the Great and Powerful” is yet another version of the movie, but in the view of the all powerful Wizard. The Wizard of Oz is one of cinema’s great macguffins, a big goal the characters work for in the 1939 movie, that they find out was nothing but smoke and mirrors.

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Only God Forgives (2013)

Director Nicholas Winding Refn completely blew me away with his 2011 crime thriller “Drive.” It was a cerebral and stylish picture about redemption and atoning for our sins. “Only God Forgives” is that perfect film for cinematic enthusiasts looking for the right experimental movie to dip their toes in to. While Nicholas Winding Refn had every reason to follow “Drive” up with something equally mainstream, “Only God Forgives” goes beyond expectations.

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Ordinary People (1980)

Guilt is a complex anomaly in the human psyche. It’s remorseless, it’s unbiased, it lingers for decades, and many times it takes on different forms. It can take on the form of blame, and it can form into blame of the most unlikely people, just to make sense of the senseless in our lives. In the face of tragedy some people just need to point fingers and blame the innocent just to help us cope with a horrible trauma, and the same can be said for the characters featured in one of my favorite dramas of all time.

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Overtime (2011)

213989-overtimeHI dare you to hate this movie. Directors Brian Cunningham and Matt Niehoff create such an entertaining and raucous amalgam of movie genres, that “Overtime” ends up being a very easy and memorable ninety minutes. Often times when directors attempt comedy, they fail big time, but “Overtime” manages to be one of those movies where everything goes wrong, and I laughed through most of the mishaps. Raph and Max are two gangsters that are trying to live their lives by some form of morality, and are trying to see what it’s like to go about their everyday lives without beating or killing someone.

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On Top (2012)

Whomever cast actress Nikki Estridge for the role of escort Adrianna is a genius. “On Top” is a short film that’s reliant on casting the perfect woman for the role of the insatiable and professional escort who is wholly unapologetic in what they do. Star Nikki Estridge is excellent in her performance as professional freelance escort Adrianna who strives in pleasing her clients and loves what she does.

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Outbreak (1995)

It’s almost as if mid-way the writers and producers decided that a horrible virus eliminating an entire small town in a disturbing fever wasn’t good enough. So they inject a crusty scowling military man who has been given orders to destroy the whole town. It’s so rote and typical of Hollywood that it’s jarring to the tone of “Outbreak.” Wolfgang Peterson’s ensemble thriller can never really decide if it wants to be an action adventure thriller or a dramatic thriller. It wants to feature explosions and epic helicopter chases, but it also tries to inject explorations in to military policy, government corruption, and discussion about past events in history that were rationalized as a means to an end.

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The Old Chair (2012)

oldchairIt’s fantastic what some filmmakers can do when they’re given only a certain amount of time. I’ve seen short films literally crash and burn under the weight of their time restraint, while some just end without much of an explanation. Director Drew Daywalt however manages to squeeze in a back story, exposition, a full narrative and horrifying scares in a little under five minutes, and god help me, “The Old Chair” works as a horror film.

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Obsolescence (2011)

I really wish I could have enjoyed Jacob Bilinski’s short film about reality shifting and perceptions of romance in the end, but with the run time and premise often foggy both in its intent and ability to deliver its hook, “Obsolescence” often feels instead like a practice in monologue reading than it does an actual short film. From minute one I found myself fairly unimpressed by the line reading that occurs as “Obsolescence” is much more focused on the hook that leads in to the final confrontations than it does actually telling its story about a romance that may or may not have been pre-orchestrated to fit a goal for its characters to focus on.

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