The Night of the Hunter (1955)

A film showing the darker face of religion when the wolf comes in sheep’s clothing. In this case, Robert Mitchum plays a great wolf, and as he usually is a scary one too.

The Night of the Hunter (1955)
1h 32min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 24 November 1955 (Argentina)

A religious fanatic marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid $10,000 he’d stolen in a robbery.
Director: Charles Laughton
Writers: James Agee (screenplay), Davis Grubb (based on the novel by)
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish

Plot Summary

Harry Powell is a lifelong crimimal doing time with a one time thief, Ben Harper, seeking only to secure his kids’s future. To Harry it’s all about greed. While in prison, Harper tells Powell about his huge stash from the crime and Harry Powell dedicates himself to getting it. Posing as a preacher, he infiltrates Ben Harper’s town and family as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” but find that money from the secrets he shared with his children isn’t going to be easy.

Director and Actors

This is actor Charles Laughton’s only credited work as director. He has a very recognizable face. You may know him as the hunchback in the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Sir Wilfrid Roberts in Witness for the Prosecution, or any other of his many successful roles in film. I admire his direction in this film, the characters all seem focused on the same page. The “page” is something that would have been a real taboo in that day. Preaching is often mocked to make a point. Even though we know the villain is no preacher, all the significant particulars relating to religion tend toward a reality that isn’t flattering. This would seem to be the intended message of the director.

Robert Mitchum is just scary as all get up in this. I’d say it comes close to Cape Fear as such. I suppose it you’re religious, you view him as worst of the worst because he’s posing as a man of the cloth. If you’re not, you might see religion as the evil here. Either way, he’s a truly bad dude doing really bad stuff out of greed. Shelly Winters plays Willa and does a really good job as such. Nonetheless my favorite character in the film is Rachel Cooper played by Lilian Gish. She comes later in the film but is such a strong force. She helps build a lot of plot to a climax. She’s the real hero of this story.

My Take on the Film

This is an oldie from 1955. It carries that air of mystery you might sense in an Alfred Hitchcock film. At the same time, there is the classic look everywhere like in the wooden houses or even the archaic farm equipment. The boats, the wardrobe, everything reminds of a time long ago. One aspect that isn’t far off though is the evil that people do in the name of religion. Toward the end of the film they seem to redeem faith but in the first 2/3 of the film religion in general is portrayed in a bad way. No one can deny it enables the villain to have access to the wife and her kids. Most the film is suspense, drilling down on the wife and kids. Mitchum is at his best faking religious drawl as he seeks to extract the location of the money from the kids. The film stays on that for a large chunk and it is enjoyable, a definite thrill ride. But when the kids see fit to escape, we are relieved of the suspense, Mitchum is free to play an all out evil wolf, and a slightly different air rises up in the film. It’s more a stalker film at that point. I enjoyed the dialect and story of the film. It was also very well cast.

Final Thoughts

Anyone who’s seen Robert Mitchum as an evil character in a film knows he is unmistakable and talented as such. This is no exception. Watching him weave his wiles as a preacher in the family and as Willa’s new husband in hypnotic. He is very convincing. You find yourself saying “No No Willa, think of your kids” as she’s taking her vows. His smug face is so perfect for the role. If you’re hankering for a suspense filled black and white from the 50’s, I highly recommend this one!


My review The Night of the Hunter (1955) appeared first on Riley on Film.

Baby Driver (2017)

This film has done extremely well at the box office. It’s an exciting tale of a young man with an interesting history and an uncanny talent for driving a getaway car. I’d be remiss to not mention there is some great music in the background here.

Baby Driver (2017)
R | 1h 52min | Action, Crime, Music | 28 June 2017 (USA)

After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.
Director: Edgar Wright
Writer: Edgar Wright
Stars: Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm

The director had this idea for quite some time before it became a film. I always enjoy movies where the director had a long term vision he fought for. Before this film, his accolades include Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), and The World’s End (2013), made with recurrent collaborators Simon Pegg, Nira Park and Nick Frost. While still in the prime of his career, he has proven he is a capable director.

The casting was effective but perhaps one of the weaker aspects. Kevin Spacey sort of worked as the killer boss who grows a heart. We needed more hate for Baby from Jamie Foxx, that could have saved his impression with me. The actor who played “Baby,” Ansel Elgort, is 23 but appears to be much much younger in his skinny jeans and RayBans. I think some younger viewers will identify with his character because he is in fact so young looking and doing such a crafted thing as driving a getaway car. It’s fantasy on so many levels.

I loved the choice to cast Lily James. She is the most normal, well developed, character in the film. And mind you, there is very little character development here: it’s a car chase film.

The story is, in a shortened way, that a boy is an orphan and learns to drive really really well. Then he becomes a getaway driver. Then he wants out and meets a waitress. He doesn’t get out. There are several heists and exhibitions of speed. He gets arrested. The girl dotes on him. The boy gets out. His name is not really Baby (big surprise) it’s Miles and the movie ends in a dreamlike sequence of Miles driving off into the sunset with the girl.


I really had fun watching this film. I was actually surprised how much I liked it, the title was a little off-putting. There are lots of car chase movies out there and as time moves forward there are likely to be more. This is a cool movie. I don’t know if it’s as “special” as a lot of people are saying. It is probably because some scenes are synchronized to the music and that is undeniably cool. The story of the protagonist was lacking for me, I didn’t buy in. I didn’t like most the songs chosen and I felt the bad guys were miscast. Those aren’t important issues though, this is a winner film. If you go for a fun car chase and heist film, you’ll get your money’s worth. I recommend it.


My review Baby Driver (2017) appeared first on Riley on Film.

The Devil’s Candy (2015)

Some horror movies are great for a sleep over when you’re in high school but aren’t very deep for discussion. This is one such film. It has creepiness and some jump scares (not too many) and it works on that level. As a serious horror movie however, it doesn’t make my grade. It’s just ok.

The Devil’s Candy (2015)
Not Rated | 1h 19min | Horror | 17 March 2017 (USA)

A struggling painter is possessed by satanic forces after he and his young family move into their dream home in rural Texas, in this creepy haunted-house tale.
Director: Sean Byrne
Writer: Sean Byrne
Stars: Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby, Pruitt Taylor Vince

This film is directed by Sean Byrne. He is from Tasmania. He has a strong background making films such as The Loved Ones, a horror movie involving power drills. film shorts and commercials and has received much acclaim for creating this film. Still, it isn’t a massive scale film most young directors hope for. He does show much promise though in this film so I await what he does next with enthusiasm.

Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby, Pruitt Taylor Vince are the top three actors in the film and they are a stronger feature than the story in my opinion. Embry is known from films like Sweet Home Alabama. He has that all American boy look but in this film, he is a hessian metalhead, trying to be a good guy but failing. Appleby landed a huge role in the reality series Unreal. She is well cast in this film because her eyes always look scared, stressed, and sad. Pruitt Taylor is from Mississipi Burning. He looks psycho, in this film he is psycho, or possessed or both.

The basic story line here is the possession of a painter who lived in a home. A couple moves in and he comes back seeking the will of the devil who lives in the house. It’s an ok horror movie. IT has some thrills and it;s nice to see these actors’ faces. Because I would not see it again, I’m grading it down to a 6/10 which isn’t failing.


My review The Devil’s Candy (2015) appeared first on Riley on Film.

Ruby Sparks

Ruby Sparks is a romantic comedy written by Zoe Kazan. Ruby is a fictional character thought up in the movie by a successful writer in his early twenties played by Paul Dano. Much to his surprise, one day Ruby comes to life and takes on the role of his real life girlfriend. After that a roller coaster of emotions and love lessons ensues. For me, the strongest message in the movie is about the power we try to exert over each other in relationships. It has a truly all-star cast including Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Elliot Gould, and many more. Though the film started slow for me, it picked up in the middle and became a very fun and emotion-filled ride. I read online while watching the movie that the actress playing Ruby, Zoe Kazan, is the actual writer of the movie. For this reason, the audience gets the perspective of a woman being invented and controlled by an actual woman writer. I was impressed by Miss Kazan and will look for more from her in the future.

Final Thought: Relationships are often funny but more often perplexing. This movie uses metaphor and satire in the form of this invented woman to address some of those difficult issues. Paul Dano does a very nice job as a young writer trying to figure out life and love. He has definite ideas about what Ruby should be and he writes them clearly. I felt a real-life connection to what he was doing when he “wrote Ruby.” I thought at one point, “How would I ‘write’ my wife if I had the magic typewriter?” Through most of the movie I knew I would not rewrite her one iota. I think that is the message of the movie. We want “the perfect spouse” but in reality, we don’t know what that is for us. Better to let our spouse have her/his imperfections than try to craft them into something “perfect.” If those themes sound interesting, you’ll love this romantic comedy. I give it 5/5 stars. In some ways for me it was a perfect film experience.

My review Ruby Sparks appeared first on Riley on Film.

Fist Fight (2017)

This is one you can ignore most of the critics on. It’s a very funny movie that scored low but one you may laugh very hard at. As a teacher I found it relate-able and silly and stupid and lame and laugh-a-minute. Sometimes the stupidest comedies are the most fun. If you agree raise your hand and leave me a comment. Come join my club.

Fist Fight (2017)
R | 1h 31min | Comedy | 17 February 2017 (USA)

When one school teacher unwittingly causes another teacher’s dismissal, he is challenged to an after-school fight.
Director: Richie Keen
Writers: Van Robichaux (screenplay), Evan Susser (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
Stars: Ice Cube, Charlie Day, Tracy Morgan

It’s funny to see what people think about teaching in a film like this. It’s not a documentary and it’s likely the writers didn’t do much research about the profession apart from their own perception and experience. Good thing their view of the job is downright hilarious. There are other movies who are just ignorant and even unkind to the profession of teaching. This one just has a load of fun poking fun at a profession and an idea about it. Of course you know I am a teacher so I’m just a little more observant about the characterization and plot details of films about it. This one portrays very little in an accurate way but the jokes are so damn funny anyway. We’e ALL been students. What a funny premise that teachers get into a fist fight!

Ice Cube is a street level teacher. Charlie Day is the stereotypical dorky teacher. He drives a boring white minivan and his wife is pregnant. He’s at the same horrible school as Ice Cube but responds to the unruly students with his tail between his legs. There is an altercation that causes Ice to challenge Charlie to a fist fight, a parking lot brawl. This is funny because teachers don’t do this: kids do. It carries the air of an Adam Sandler movie.

The director Richie Keen is a director and actor, known for Fist Fight (2017), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005) and Hooked (2006). Clearly he has a background in edgy comedy.

Final thoughts
Again, many films show disrespect for teachers amidst their comedy. I can laugh along with that, be a good sport and all. This film was a little insulting at times but so very funny at others. I went back to replay certain scenes for my wife when she had left the room and it was worth it to see her laugh like I did. It’s raunchy comedy and not for everybody but if you want a good belly laugh at teacher jokes, go see this one.


My review Fist Fight (2017) appeared first on Riley on Film.

A Christmas Story (1983)

I think most Americans, happy with their upbringing, are delighted to tell stories about their childhood. If we tell them, they become immortal. Such is apparently the case with humorist Jean Shepherd. His semi-fictional memoir In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash is the basis for this lovely, wonderful film.

Looking at this film on face value alone may cause it to appear like a Hallmark channel move or a strictly family film. The truth is it’s more than that. A humorist lends his life supply of experiences growing up to produce family-friendly comedy, with a slightly twisted bent. I know I wouldn’t have liked it if it was simple a family Christmas film.

It takes place in the 1940’s when American life was a lot simpler. Even still, you see the father come home from work getting mad at the broken furnace, cussing at it. You see that daily dilemma of Ralphie and his little brother trying to get to school in sub zero temperatures. And then of course, there are the bullies to and from school to worry about.

Why the hell do we tell our kids to believe in Santa Claus? This question is indirectly raised but never answered. In fact, it raises gender role issues, peer pressure, and American traditions. It reminds us of our traditions, even ones we’ve taken for granted all our lives. As we laugh at Ralphie and this family, we are really laughing at ourselves.

Bob Clark directed this amazing piece. He will be remembered by some as directing the coming-of-age film from 1982, Porky’s. While not as racy as that film, this one deals with boys growing up and poking fun at our human situation.

Some of the cast should be mentioned: Peter Billingsley played Ralphie. Before that, in America he was recognized as the Nestle Quick chocolate Milk kid. Darren McGavin plays “The Old Man,” Ralphie’s father. His role is superlative. He plays the somewhat detached aging father so well. When he cusses at the furnace, you swear you’ve heard that somewhere before! The whole cast is amazing and it’s an excellent script they use to deliver the jokes and message in the film.

When seen for the sarcastic, dry, deadpan humor it offers, this film is a winner! Some may be put off by its seemingly traditional appearance but please remember it is poking fun at tradition as much as reminding us of it. Give this incredible memoir film a chance, you won’t regret it.

My review A Christmas Story (1983) appeared first on Riley on Film.

Following (1998)

Long before Christopher Nolan directed the Dark Knight, he created a sleepy noir film called Following. He definitely has a lot of us following him now and it all started with this first visionary film of his. This is streaming now on Metflix.

Following (1998)
R | 1h 9min | Crime, Mystery, Thriller | 5 November 1999 (UK)

A young writer who follows strangers for material meets a thief who takes him under his wing.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw, Lucy Russell

This is a film with a very odd beginnng. A man is questioned as to why he follows people and he responds that it is a fixation. He isn’t out to hurt anyone, he just follows people. If that isn’t creepy enough, he does get into stealing and harming people when a criminal he is following decides to teach him his ways. What ensues after that is the meat of this movie.

My Thoughts
The actors are all excellent. I found it more interesting to learn about why he follows people than to see the details of breaking and entering. I think it’s a universal fear that someone would go through our private things when we’re out of the house. The dialog in this film is engaging and draws you in. The characters feel real and you can see how the director went on to be so successful. It is slow however and takes a long time in between “happenings.” For that reason I’d say you could miss it and be okay but fans of the noir genre and of Christopher Nolan will find it delightful as a sort of novelty. I recommend it for those types.


My review Following (1998) appeared first on Riley on Film.

Amadeus (1984)

The 1980’s produced some amazing films. This one is a historically based well-directed drama film with just enough good comedy to keep you sitting up in your seat the whole running time. For me, this movie is legendary.

A director of a film this historical and entertaining has to be mentioned if for no other reason than to get recommendations of her/his other films to enjoy. Milos Forman directed this film and received much praise for doing so. The film was a commercial success and won the Academy award in 1985 for best film of the year. While is was an amazing achievement for Milos, he already had the multi award-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest under his belt. This is a man who knows human nature well and can make a movie that lets us in on it. Too bad he didn’t direct more films. His directorial choices in Amadeus are very effective and worthy of respect.

F. Murray Abraham is the true star of this show as Antonio Salieri. He weaves feigned jealousy in with out and out admiration for Mozart. It rows into a tapestry of ugliness but one that most of us can relate to with someone in out lives like Mozart. Tom Hulce is Mozart. He has the most annoying laugh in the world but he makes a point through it. Understanding him is understanding Mozart. He brings the title character to life in his antics and also in his tortured times. Elizabeth Berridge I must say looks really good in a push up top! Her wardrobe person is to be congratulated. She is a good choice as the wife who cares about Mozart but at the same time laments her choice to be with one who acts like such a child.

This is the fictional retelling of the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It’s told by a crotchety old man Salieri who was a contemporary. In his dealings with Mozart, he is very jealous because it seems Amadeus can create well received music on demand. Salieri cannot. You get the rise and fall of a hyper-creative and genius musician/composer, his rants and partying are hysterical but I can’t help wondering whether he had some sort of mood disorder. Though talented, his behavior is very erratic and odd at times. It all just adds to the jokes. This is a drama but Amadeus left us a lot to laugh at.

I picked this as a great 100 because it had a huge impact on me in 1985 and I believe strongly it could resonate the same way with new audiences here in 2017. I’ve always said as a teacher I’d rather have a student who asserted her/him self and tried her/his best than a gifted prodigy who can follow the rules. The latter is Amadeus. I love the way this film presents this musical genius. What a great way to become more familiar with his life and times. I’ve seen in multiple times and will always go back to it. Tom Hulce (plays Amadeus) did some things after this but decided in the past 10 years to seclude in Seattle. IMDB tells us he his happy there and feels better than living in Los Angeles or New York. I’ve also admired his comedy work in National Lampoon’s Animal House.


My review Amadeus (1984) appeared first on Riley on Film.

Beyond the Gates (2016)

Recently I saw Drive and it had that 80’s background synthesizer mood. Soon that I saw Turbo Kid that had similar background music. Could this be coming back? It works for me!

Beyond the Gates (2016)
Not Rated | 1h 24min | Adventure, Horror | 9 December 2016 (USA)
Two estranged brothers reunite at their missing father’s video store and find a VCR board game dubbed ‘Beyond The Gates’ that holds a connection to their father’s disappearance.

Director: Jackson Stewart
Writers: Stephen Scarlata, Jackson Stewart
Stars: Graham Skipper, Chase Williamson, Brea Grant

This one does uses that 80’s synth sound too only it’s decidedly a horror/thriller film unlike the thriller Drive or comedy action Turbo Kid. When your budget is low, you have to get creative with sets and effects. This film indeed does that effectively. What better concept for a film like this than a VHS tape that opens the door of hell?

The story revolves around a guy, his girlfriend, and his estranged brother who he grew up with in a small town. The protagonist’s dad owned a VHS store there and so the protagonist and his brother spent a lot of time hanging around the movies and playing with reminders and other equipment there. They stumble across a tape that is what used to be known as a VHS RPG. In this case they are given clues on how to get “beyond the gates” and reunite with their father who has mysteriously disappeared.

There is blood and guts and it ends up being a pretty “jump scary” film. Even so, a goofy vibe permeates the whole film. It reminds me of the inside jokes of nerds from high school woven into a film that most viewers wouldn’t laugh at or be scared by. Nonetheless, I found it a lot of fun. The ending is ridiculous but it takes itself so seriously you can’t help but find it satisfying.

Final Thoughts
Beyond the Gates is a low budget horror/thriller that brings you back to the 80’s horror mood. The synthesized music seems a virtual red carpet for Michael Jackson’s dancing thriller zombies. The effects are creative, though not very believable yet that isn’t important in this fun under-produced film about playing a VHS tape that opens the door of hell. I would say that not all will “get” this one. It took me two sits to actually finish it. Still, if you can shut the world out and just enjoy low budget horror with a somewhat silly story, this is your movie. To you and fans like you (like me), I recommend it.


My review Beyond the Gates (2016) appeared first on Riley on Film.

There Will be Blood (2007)

There Will be Blood is an epic film released in 2007 that gives a close look at a truly hateful opportunist. Having said that, believe it or not, it’s wonderful. It’s directed by Paul Thomas Anderson known for Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, and the Master.

IMDB says it’s “A story about family, greed, religion, and oil, centered around a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business.” The protagonist’s name is Daniel Plainview. He is a shrewd and relentless oil prospector who almost dies a couple times before he strikes black gold and untold fortune. There is hardly any blood in this movie so don’t let the title steer you wrong. It takes place around 1900 but there are scenes before and considerably longer after that.

Plainview is one of those characters you detest with all that is human but at the same time you can’t take your eyes off his journey. This film treats us to the life of one man. I can see parts of myself in him and at the same time, I see a heart as black as midnight I would never compare to my own. We learn early on he hates people. That should be a clue about what’s to come. The ending is horrendous and somewhat unpredictable. I imagine a lot of people hated the ending. As for me? I can’t really see a better way to complete Plainview’s story. The question lingers for me: is Daniel Plainview’s money worth the human cost? While great in my view, it lost points by not having much real humanity portrayed. One example is, there are hardly any women in it. It could have been stronger if it showed more ordinary life. That would have served to contrast and showcase Plainview’s twisted madness. As it is, that is all we see. It could be better, but it’s great as it is.

My review There Will be Blood appeared first on Riley on Film.

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises was a failure in my opinion, even in spite of its awesome motorcycle, due to boring and pointless scenes and under-developed characters. Excessively long and pointless scenes follow an initial airplane hijacking that is admittedly one of the few innovative and exciting scenes. Unfortunately however, the boring stuff begins immediately after that and really never stops throughout the course of its seemingly unending 2hr 44min runtime. I think a lot of these boring scenes are due to the fact that the director didn’t try as hard because it’s part of such a successful franchise. Once a franchise is famous like the Dark Knight, movie makers boosted my McDonalds Value Meal Deals, action figures, and clothing lines likely lose their inner conscience about just making a good movie. They think whatever they do under that banner will be accepted and will make money. It appears that is the situation in this case, which is unfortunate. I think movie makers should always strive to make a movie interesting and engaging, regardless of the coattails of its predecessor. I found The Dark Knight Rises to be uninspired and completely off the mark of the 2 other prequels.

Under-developed motives for Bruce Wayne also left me cold on this one. There is little or no chemistry or motive in his love relationship with cat woman. In fact, cat woman nearly kills him a couple of times. His response to this is to fall in love with her and make her his partner? Bruce Wayne’s fortune is another bone of contention with me. He has lost every cent at the hands of his enemy and yet he has the means to appear healthy and relaxed drinking coffee and winking at Alfred at the end of the movie. What money bought the latte Bruce? We are in this scene as well as so many others expected to suspend disbelief. I have to say I grew tired of that mental exercise after the first hour. Besides that, the return wasn’t much to speak of.

Based on my negative impression of this film, I am not planning on seeing the next sequel which clearly will contain a Robin figure. That’s right, believe it or not, I am still not interested.

My review The Dark Knight Rises appeared first on Riley on Film.

Across the Universe (2007)

The music of the Beatles is incredible. You tap your foot to it, some people think of it as the best music in the world. What’s more, they hold this view even though the band has been broken up since 1969. This film is visually stunning and equally incredible in its presentation of Beatles songs with a modern take.

Across the Universe (2007)
PG-13 | 2h 13min | Drama, Fantasy, Musical | 12 October 2007 (USA)

The music of the Beatles and the Vietnam War form the backdrop for the romance between an upper-class American girl and a poor Liverpudlian artist.
Director: Julie Taymor
Writers: Dick Clement (screenplay), Ian La Frenais (screenplay) | 3 more credits
Stars: Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Joe Anderson

Julie Taymor is the director. You may know her directing efforts from films like Frida, the biographical film about the mysterious Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. The female lead, Evan Rachel Wood, has been in several successful films which include: The Wrestler and The Ides of March. The male lead, Jim Sturgess also has some big films under his belt with Cloud Atlas and The Best Offer. These two lead us through the music in the film well. It’s like a 2 hour and 13 minute music video. Each song is stitched together in a cohesive story that really works.

Themes of Vietnam and young love are addressed through the music. There isn’t one boring scene. If you love the music of the Beatles this film is for you. If you don’t know their music, this would be a great way to get introduced! It is rather long for movie like this and there are some songs that are interpreted less for the music and more for the dark elements of war. This film isn’t for everyone so that’s why I give it


My review Across the Universe (2007) appeared first on Riley on Film.

It Comes at Night – but what the hell is “it?”

If a film is a thriller, posing as a horror, and being undeniably a mystery, how would I rate it? I think I’d find the most dominant genre and start there. This film works as a thriller but fails completely as a mystery. It has 3 jump scares but to me that doesn’t a horror movie make. It was hard for me to understand what the director tried to do here. This is no feel good night out film, to be sure.

It Comes at Night

“Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son, but this will soon be put to test when a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge.” -IMDB


Joel Edgerton Paul
Christopher Abbott Will
Carmen Ejogo Sarah
Riley Keough Kim

Directed by

Trey Edward Shults

Written by

Trey Edward Shults

Other Info

Horror, Mystery
Fri 09 Jun 2017 UTC
IMDB Rating: 7.3

Trey Edward Shults directed this along with Krisha (2015). Krisha is also a heavily depressing and unsatisfying film. Perhaps this could be a trademark in the making. In his other film, we have a woman going to a family reunion with people she hasn’t seen for years because she has been an addict and locked up in rehab. It’s awkward comment after awkward comment and it appears to be filmed on an iphone at a family thanksgiving. We can see from both these film this director foster discomfort on screen. The big question then becomes: “Why?” If you have an answer, please leave it in the comments.

Joel Edgerton is the patriarch male in the house in the woods. He plays the role well but I can’t imagine the purpose of the things he does, gun and/or axe in hand. I enjoyed him in The Gift, where he played a high school friend returning to torture a childhood bully. That was the biggest film I recall seeing him in.

This a story about a family of 3 in the woods who wear gas masks and fear their own infection by unknown outsiders. They join with another couple, forcefully and hash out tense relationships in the house, never going out at night.

We’ve seen the psychopath who demonizes innocent people in Frailty and so many other films of this theme. We’ve seen the “compound” doomsday prepper who is out to protect himself and/or his loved ones like 10 Cloverfield Lane. We’ve also seen much of what we see in this film as far as the woods and creepiness therein in the Walking Dead only this film has no zombies. This film adds nothing to the common theme. Moreover, the mystery in the film is never explained.

Final Thoughts
With so many dark issues facing us as a culture that sees films, why make such a negative, violent film? I’m confused as to the message of the director. I think it might be that if you kill one person, you’ll never be able to stop, but who knows. When the credits rolled, a watcher said, “What the fucking fuck?” I agree completely. As far as the ending of this marginal film goes. It lost points for posing as horror but most of all it lost for not concluding its own mystery. It does ok as a thriller. I don’t recommend this film.


My review It Comes at Night – but what the hell is “it?” appeared first on Riley on Film.

The Impossible

The Impossible is a film about the 2004 Tsunami that killed over 200,000 people and a family that fought to survive in its aftermath. Naomi Watts does a stellar job portraying the real life mother that struggles to survive and to reunite with her family.

I also recorded a podcast episode about this film on my show: The DRP. Listen to it at the player below:

Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona (known for Orphanage and a host of movies made in Spain). It stars Ewan Mcgregor and Naomi Watts who are widely known for many things. Both do an amazing job in this film portraying the mother and father of a family that goes through adventures that are often bordering macabre to attempt to survive.

The Impossible is a true story of a family separated by a natural disaster. When a middle-to-upper class family of 5 gets in the way of a Tsunami wave, they are separated and forced to find inner strength and survive. The disaster puts them in the company of hundreds of thousands of strangers with death at every turn. Still, they keep hope alive in the film and we see them fight for survival in many inspiring ways.

I didn’t think this movie would be very good after seeing the preview. It looked like another sappy “I love my kids so much I’ll kill for them” type of survival movie. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The movies’ portrayal of this family’s struggle to survive and “find each other” is so realistic and gritty. At the same time, it has some truly touching scenes of human love both within the family as well as with strangers it comes across. This movie seeks to show us we are stronger as humans than we think and it achieves that through portraying this incredible true story. For that reason, I gave it 5/5 stars.

My review The Impossible appeared first on Riley on Film.

Wonder Woman (2017)

There has been so much buzz about this film and most of it is merited. However, I most love this movie for the simple reasons of: character foreshadowing, the slow motion fighting, and Wonder Woman’s love for flawed humanity.

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

“Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.” -IMDB


Gal Gadot Diana
Chris Pine Steve Trevor
Robin Wright Antiope
Lucy Davis Etta

Directed by

Patty Jenkins

Written by

Allan Heinberg, Zack Snyder

Other Info

Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, War
Fri 02 Jun 2017 UTC
IMDB Rating: 8.2

Patty Jenkins is the director of this visionary film. I admire the way she put it all together. Even though I thought the war scenes and time in Germany could have been cut shorter, the movie works like an amusement park ride. To anyone about to see it I would say: get ready to be rattled! Jenkins is known for Monster which is a biopic based on the female serial killer Aileen Wuornos played by Charlize Theron. There is no superhero element to Monster but it’s a great work that tells a controversial story. So far, she has directed two powerful flms. Let’s hope to see more from her.

There are many powerful actors in this film but the most stand-out are Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. They are wonderful. Whether we are talking about basic action sequences or the love story element, both make the A grade. There is an innocence to both of them that makes the love story work as well as the saving of humanity sequences. Gal is 32, let’s hope she continues to be in the franchise. Her beauty is matched by her acting ability and flexible action moves.

Character foreshadowing is done several times in the film. One time is when they are in the German streets and there is a bearded man watching them. By the second glimpse, it was clear to me he was tracking Wonder Woman. Around another corner and I found out I was correct. Another example is the evil force. We see him a couple times in another form and to me it was clear who he was. What do you think? If you hven’t seen it, you will likely see it as I did. This is a simple directing tool but it works well to keep the movie rolling along with audeince interest. t’s a way of getting their engagement in noticing it. But there’s another film trick used that far surpasses this one.

The cgi slow mo effect used in the fight scenes is not new to us in films. We saw it a lot in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the Matrix, as well as pretty much every superhero film made in the past 20 years. The difference here is the way it’s done. There is a marked improvement over anything we have seen before. This special efects and editing team did their homework. I found this tool of film incredible in the story.

The third reason I loved this film is because Wonder Woman pledges to save humans even despite their penchant for anger and war. She falls in love with a human and that helps but it’s her experiences on the battefield that bring her to the conclusion that we are worth saving. The quote she utters at the end and a few tines before (again, the foreshadowing) speaks to personal belief and giving people according to your love rather than what they deserve.


This is one of the best superhero moves ever made due to its structure, the cgi and slo mo effects, and the incredible beauty of Wonder Woman’s message for humankind.


My review Wonder Woman (2017) appeared first on Riley on Film.