JULY 9TH, 2013

THE GATEKEEPERS // Powerfully candid and sincere, “The Gatekeepers” opens the door of the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret service, and airs all of its dirty laundry, but what truly makes it remarkable is that the men being interviewed are all former heads of the Shin Bet. Creative in its design of format for an informative documentary, the filmmaker delivers graphics and animated reenactments that immerse the viewer in the stories. Drawing ties to what our secret agencies may also be up to, it is uncanny how much of this resonates into our lives, even if the events being focused on have no real relation to the U.S. besides peace talks headed by the Clinton administration. As intriguing as the film is, take away the graphics and wonderfully sound designed actual footage and what you have is talking heads, which, not ideal, still makes for some attention grabbing material.

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DEAD MAN DOWN // “Dead Man Down” has a slow burn. Filled with a mixture of moments that either feel weighted and impacting or fall a bit slack and uneven, the film is mainly held strong by the leading cast that packs all the punch. Colin Farrell proves he can lead a film, playing the quiet, dark revenge seeker. Noomi Rapace continues to show her undeniable skill as an actress. Even though she is supposed to be presented as a “monster” with “hideous” scars on her face, she’s is kept rather charming and eloquent, often taking you out of the film when approached as though she were a crippled hunchback. There’s a glimpse of what the film could have been within the first act of the film, when Farrell and Rapace’s characters meet one another. You get a sense that their meeting and involvement with one another is innocent and sincere, but your assumptions are turned upside down in the best of ways, an element that could have been implemented throughout the rest of the film. Once you realize the big “twist” of the film, some of the magic disappears and it becomes a straightforward revenge thriller, something Niels Arden Oplev (the original “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”) has plenty of history with. Terence Howard makes a perfect villain and Dominic Cooper again finds the spotlight, proving there’s no supporting role Cooper can’t raise to a new level. Had “Dead Man Down” been a bit more mysterious, it could have been the best thriller of the year so far, but instead offers up some worthwhile performances all while staying quite average in plot and character development.

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THE HOST // Despite being a retread of the themes in Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight”, “The Host” succeeds in two ways. Saoirse Ronan overcomes the odds and delivers a worthwhile performance as best she can given the material. I am more likely to seen this again as a silent film to simply catch her performance. The second success comes from incorporating an up-and-coming band like Imagine Dragons to sell your film and give it a voice beyond just “From the Creator of the Twilight Saga.” It’s a shame that an interesting science fiction premise was wasted on this romantically charged conflict of love interests and inner monologue, both of which must play out much better on the page, since both do not translate well to the screen. Besides appearances from William Hurt and [spoiler] Emily Browning, the acting in the film is limited. Diane Kruger does her best, but as one of the leaders of the aliens, her performance is often paper thin and monotonous, and was mostly painted in. With some potential, “The Host” is unable to reach it and becomes just another reason why Stephenie Meyer should put away her pen.

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SPRING BREAKERS // “Spring Breakers” is far from perfect, but it does display enough potential to lead director Harmony Korine onto bigger and better things, the likes we’ve seen from many up-and-coming directors, specifically the recent rise of director Nicolas Winding Refn. It is then interesting that Korine uses the same composer, Cliff Martinez (along with Skrillex, who, together, produce the best soundtrack so far this year), as Refn’s “Drive” which banks some of its success off the composer’s special brand of soundtrack. Seeing just the name, Harmony Korine, I assumed this film was directed by a female, which made me feel better about the depiction of women, half- and fully- naked, partying like an episode of “Girls Gone Wild”, almost to the point of making the viewer uncomfortable. Obvious some of this can be attributed to the social commentary on a particular generation, but I feel a female’s perspective on the subject would have held more weight. Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, and Selena Gomez all take huge steps out of their comfort zones and rebrand themselves, no longer the Disney generation, but flesh-and-blood, sexual beings, and believe me, they are sexual from scene one until the very end. James Franco also helps the film stay grounded, offering some of the most poetic portions of the film. Although the shotgun transition sounds are often out of place and the repetitive, echoing voice over is often unwarranted, there’s enough going for “Spring Breakers” to make it an independent success.

New Releases
Admission (2013)
Dead Man Down
The Gatekeepers
The Host (2013)
Spring Breakers
Tyler Perry’s Temptation

TV Box Set

  • Bonanza: Season Six
  • Dynasty: Season Seven
  • How the West Was Won: Season One
  • Kimba the White Lion : Complete Series
  • The Legend of Korra: Book One – Air
  • Quincy, M.E.: Season Six
  • Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special
  • The Twilight Zone: Season Three
  • Unforgettable: Season One
  • Warehouse 13: Season Four

Special Editions/Other Releases

  • Boss Lady
  • Combat Girls
  • Dark Side of Genius
  • The Expelled
  • Hostage (2013)
  • The Life of Oharu: Criterion
  • Lone Ranger Legends Collection
  • Lost Secret of Immortality
  • Louise’s Diary 1942
  • Marvel Knights: Wolverine, Origin
  • Mr. Hockey: Gordie Howe Story
  • My Best Enemy
  • Night (2008)
  • Old Curiosity Shop
  • Out of the Woods
  • Pickin and Grinnin
  • The Preacher and the Gun
  • Scare Zone (2013)
  • Winterreise
  • Women Who Kill
  • Zombie 108

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