Monday, September 18, 2017

Movie review: Matchstick Men

 
 Roy and Frank are a couple of con-men preparing for a big score when Roy's teenage daughter arrives unexpectedly. For Roy, an agoraphobe, this sets his world on end and puts a big kink in his plans.

Nicolas Cage (Roy), Sam Rockwell (Frank), Alison Lohman (Angela), Bruce Altman (Dr. Klein), Bruce McGill (Chuck), Jenny O'Hara (Mrs. Schaffer), Steve Eastin (Mr. Schaffer), Sheila Kelley (Kathy).

Matchstick Men begins well, showing the introduction of Angela back into Roy's life before painting a picture of his con-man lifestyle. As Roy struggles to keep his lifestyle from Angela, she actually finds it fascinating and begins to become involved. The remainder of the film is a journey of drama, misdirection, and double-crosses with bits of comedy to keep things light.

Acting was good with Cage delivering one of his better performances in my opinion. Rockwell was enjoyable and worked well with Cage. Lohman was a nice choice, delivered well, and fit the cast nicely. The remainder of the supporting cast was enjoyable and solid.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds are nicely done with good detail and fit. Action scenes were mild. Dialogue was a nice mix of drama and humor the helped the film develop well. Sound and soundtrack were mild but fitting.

Matchstick Men is an enjoyable film that nicely blends several elements to deliver an engaging and entertaining story. Those who enjoy drama with depth, or mild crime comedy, should enjoy this one.

With some partial nudity, violence, gore, and foul language this should be fine for teens and above.

Released: 2003
Reviewed: 8.4.17
Star rating: 4 out of 5
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama, Dark Comedy

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

Friday, September 15, 2017

Movie review: The Void

 
 Cop Carter comes across a blood-soaked man limping down a country road in the middle of the night and takes him to the local hospital, sparsely staffed for the night-shift. As mysterious hooded figures surround the building, those inside realize they must fight to survive.

Aaron Poole (Carter), Kenneth Welsh (Dr. Powell), Daniel Fathers (Father), Kathleen Munroe (Allison), Ellen Wong (Kim), Mik Byskov (Son), Art Hindle (Mitchell), Stephanie Belding (Beverly), Grace Munro (Maggie).

The Void begins well with Carter taking a blood-soaked man to the local hospital in the middle of the night. After that the question is; What the hell just happened? As the film progresses there is plenty of graphic horror and well done CGI, but we have no clue why. Nothing is well explained with strange events seeming to take place randomly. The film tries to build something of a plot later on, falls flat, and then seems to give up.

Acting was rough, stilted, and could have used more depth. That said, special effects stole the show and were exceptionally well done. Dialogue explained nothing and was somewhat pointless. Sound and soundtrack were okay.

Reminiscent of 80's horror films, this one is about the effects, gore, and nothing more. The plot is a convenience that is not presented well so don’t look for depth in this one.

With plenty of gore, violence, disturbing images, nudity, and foul language, save this one for older teens and above.

Released: 2016
Reviewed: 8.22.17
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Supernatural Horror

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Movie review: Cop Watchers

 Ordinary citizens take to the streets with camera in hand to expose NYPD police brutality by videotaping arrests and other encounters with police.

Director: Ben Steele, Ramsay Orta, Dennis Flores.

Cop Watchers are ordinary citizens who have take to the streets in order to film the NYPD police in action and expose illegal activity and their abuse of power. Billed as a documentary, this short really feels a lot more like Cop Watchers filming Cop Watchers in an attempt to justify their actions. While many of the actions they film do seem unjust, it doesn't feel like we always get the whole story, nor do the Cop Watchers seem to respect the police when they are doing the right thing. As a result the film feels extremely biased and one-sided.

Reality TV so, no real acting.

Camera work feels rough and low quality. Dialogue is at times decent, at other times nothing more than complaining. Sounds is mediocre at best.

While I appreciate citizens trying to hold the police accountable, and even feel it is somewhat necessary these days, this short did a poor job of justifying what Cop Watchers do or even generating interest so others will join the struggle.

With some foul language and disturbing images, this should be fine for older teens and above.

Released: 2016
Reviewed: 8.22.17
Star rating: 2 out of 5
Genre: Documentary, Social & Cultural Documentaries

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

Monday, September 11, 2017

Movie review: The Saint (2017)

 
 Simon Templar may be known as The Saint, but in reality he is an international master thief using his skills for good. Asked to find a kidnapped girl, he instead finds himself facing a dangerous nemesis from his past.

Adam Rayner (Simon), Eliza Dushku (Particia), James Remar (Arnold), Enrique Murciano (Fernack), Roger Moore (Jasper), Kirsty Mitchell (Mrs. Templar), Ian Ogilvy (Fixer), Thomas Kretschmann (Marius).

The Saint begins by jumping into the middle of an assignment where we learn how Simon operates. From there the storyline rolls in some past drama, family history, and throws in an evil nemesis for good measure. The result is a somewhat complicated storyline, parallel plots included, that mixes suspense, action, and even some humor fairly well. At the same time, it feels like the film tries to take on too much and as a result we only get a taste of plot points that could have had much more depth.

Acting was good with Rayner doing a nice job as The Saint. Dushku was a bright spot in the film and supported Rayner so well she almost steals the show. Murciano delivered well, as did Kretschmann and the remainder of the supporting cast.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds all feel solid, well detailed, and nicely varied. Action scenes were fitting and added well to the overall energy level of the film. Dialogue was interesting and enjoyable. Sound and soundtrack are decent.

I enjoyed the original The Saint series and this film delivers in much the same manner though the depth might be better suited to a series. Those who enjoyed the original series, crime thrillers, or crime action films should enjoy this one.

The Saint should be fine for teens and above with only some mild violence as a concern.

Released: 2017
Reviewed: 8.22.17
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Crime, Action, Adventure, Thriller, Spy Thriller

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

Friday, September 8, 2017

Movie review: Hell or High Water

 
 Realizing they are about to lose the family farm to foreclosure, brothers Toby and Tanner decide robbing the very banks that hold their mortgage is the solution. But a relentless lawman preparing for retirement could be the fly in their ointment.

Chris Pine (Toby), Ben Foster (Tanner), Jeff Bridges (Marcus), Gil Birmingham (Alberto), Dale Dickey (Elise), William Sterchi (Mr. Clauson), Kristin Berg (Olney Teller), Katy Mixon (Jenny),  Joe Berryman (Bank Manager).

Hell or High Water begins nicely, rolling right into the storyline. As characters are introduced, and we begin to understand the plot, the energy grows slightly and the film finds a good pace. The plot feels good, though there is a fairly big plot hole toward the end that doesn't seem to fit with the characters. The story then presents a feel good, but also feels contrived, ending that is a little disappointing and quite sad.

Acting was enjoyable with Pine and Foster each delivering well, and working together nicely. Bridges was a surprising, but welcome addition and stole the show with his delivery. Birmingham, Sterchi, and the remainder of the supporting cast were solid and enjoyable throughout.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds are solid and fit the film well. Natural scenery was used well. Dialogue was pretty good with decent depth. Sound could have been a bit better, soundtrack was mild.

Billed as a crime action film, this one feels a lot more like a desperation story or a cowboy drama. Those who enjoy mild action, cowboys, or gritty drama should enjoy this one. Those hoping for intense action may be somewhat disappointed.

With some sexuality, violence, gore, and foul language save this one for older teens and above.

Released: 2016
Reviewed: 8.16.17
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Crime Action, Action & Adventure, Heist films, Crime Drama, Thriller

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

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