We make such a fuss about them and then never wear them again.

Face makeup, wigs, the smell of rubber latex masks. Don’t wear second hand masks.

Costumes are exciting because they scare us. It’s scary not knowing who’s behind the mask.


Henry the 8th would lop heads off. It seems Victoria didn’t have that power. Should kings have lopping off powers?

Food for thought, except those who have lost their heads. They would lose the food through the neckhole if they could swallow.

Ruby Sparks (w my Audio and Written Commentary)

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.

Audio commentary from ‘The Damien Riley Podcast’ episode: Ruby Sparks

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 ensue. 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.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (w Audio Commentary)

This film in some ways is like “Fargo,” it has buffoons trying to commit crimes with disastrous results. It isn’t funny like “Fargo” though. In fact, this is one of the darker films I’ve seen in the past decade. Give a listen to my short episode on this film and see what you think.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)
R | 1h 57min | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 26 October 2007 (USA)

When two brothers organize the robbery of their parents’ jewelry store the job goes horribly wrong, triggering a series of events that sends them, their father and one brother’s wife hurtling towards a shattering climax.
Director: Sidney Lumet
Writer: Kelly Masterson
Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney

Audio commentary from ‘The Damien Riley Podcast’ episode: Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Nowhere Boy

Most Gen-Xers know the attitude John Lennon of the Beatles had and the impression that left on modern culture. Milennials may not know much about him and they more than anyone should see this film. Beyond that, Boomers and everyone left living will love this film that chronicles the “pre-Beatle” years of John Lennon. It’s highly well made and the material is timeless.

Nowhere Boy (2009)
R | 1h 38min | Biography, Drama, Music | 15 October 2010 (USA)

A chronicle of John Lennon’s first years, focused mainly in his adolescence and his relationship with his stern aunt Mimi, who raised him, and his absentee mother Julia, who re-entered his life at a crucial moment in his young life.
Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson (as Sam Taylor-Wood)
Writer: Matt Greenhalgh (screenplay)
Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Anne-Marie Duff

Sam Taylor-Johnson is our director here. She is unfortunately the director also of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” We’ll give her a hat tip anyway for taking a bestselling novel and setting it to film. Although I haven’t seen it, I’m sure it isn’t all bad. Her other directorial stuff has included a musical short by R.E.M. and some other huge acts like The Weeknd. She winds big with me on that, I’m a huge music lover. As a trivia note: Director Sam Taylor-Wood married Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the actor playing John in this film.

This film is different from your average biopic. First of all it’s an adaptation of a novel on the same name. Also, it’s the story apart from the luster of the Beatles. We get this guy named John instead of the notorious Lennon. He doesn’t even look like him. That may be a plus because this story takes of out of the Beatlemania and into the psychology of a young man in England trying to fit in as a square peg. I had some issues with the film in it’s ack of rational realism. How could he have learned guitar so fast? When did he start to write songs and how did he hone them? Stuff like this is missing because it’s focused more of relationships.

He is raised by his aunt who is very strict but clearly loves him. As a late teen, his real mother re-enters his life and tells him all about rock and roll. In fact, it is she who teaches him to play music on the banjo. He starts a rock band and goes through a few key life-changing experiences that one might assume made for the attitude he brought to the Beatles. This is an excellent film I highly enjoyed watching. I wish there were more like it about the other members of the Beatles. I give this one a 9/10.

My Bloody Valentine

My score: 6/10. Now streaming on Amazon Prime. 90’s horror had a certain look about it that continued into the 00’s. IN this we see Kerr Smith pop up and in between the blood and gore, there’s an air of Dawson’s Creek that can’t be shaken. But this aint no creek, we’re in a mine now and there a killer loose.

My Bloody Valentine (2009)
R | 1h 41min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller | 16 January 2009 (USA)

Tom returns to his hometown on the tenth anniversary of the Valentine’s night massacre that claimed the lives of 22 people. Instead of a homecoming, Tom finds himself suspected of committing the murders, and it seems like his old flame is the only one that believes he’s innocent.
Director: Patrick Lussier
Writers: Todd Farmer (screenplay), Zane Smith (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Stars: Jensen Ackles, Jaime King, Kerr Smith

Pros: A lot of action and blood. There is some nudity and scenes that are no holds barred. The brutality is fun and for a horror movie, I feel like you get your money’s worth.

Cons: The story is weak and the characters are very developed. It’s quite formulaic borrowing from all the slasher classics. There is n deep creepiness, more just slice and dice. Watches like a Buffy the Vampire Slayer et. al.

I enjoyed this one but wouldn’t recommend it as scary or interesting, just slasher fun. 6/10.

You Were Never Really Here

My Score 10/10. Now in theaters. At some level we all become the same person trying to get through her/his existence. Listen to my review in the player below.

Lynne Ramsey’s film portrays Joe at that point. He’s good at rescuing sex slaves but can he walk down the street without losing it? I’ve been a fan of Lynne Ramsay since I saw “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” She stood out as a director with something to say, or maybe what she has to say is that we need to be talking about that level we are all on.

You Were Never Really Here (2017)
R | 1h 29min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller | 6 April 2018 (USA)

A traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe’s nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening.
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Writers: Lynne Ramsay (screenplay by), Jonathan Ames (based on the book by)
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Judith Roberts, Ekaterina Samsonov

Lynne Ramsay’s career started with her film “Ratcatcher.” Soon after that she directed “Morvern Callar.” These films, as I understand, are also about individuals deftly making it through a seriously fucked up situation. No one can tell these people about the world as they know what it’s about before you start. It’s dark. Still there is a beacon of survival that floats to the surface of the darkness. Her films are not filled with hope per se but they do show a way through. If there is one, we will find it. Is that hope? Maybe. Yeah, I think it is. There is a seriously jaded tone in her work and I am attracted to that. It’s as if she telling her audience she isn’t here to spoon feed them but lead them to drink at their own water source.

Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is definitely a seasoned professional, albeit jaded. He’s fucked up in the head from the war but he also knows a thing or two about saving young girls in sex slavery. Can you have one without the other? He’s not hung up on the deadly risk of his work because he seems to invite death. There are borderline hallucinatory scenes throughout. In the beginning we see him taking care of his aging mother and mock-asphyxiating himself in closet plastic. It flashes to a young by doing the same thing. We see him as seriously messed up individual who is making it as best he can unable to shake the demons and responsibilities of this world. When he picks up the hammer to do his “work” we see we’re dealing with a gifted pro but at the same time, he can handle a gun.

Joe’s use of a hammer as a weapon is a way of showing he cuts through the bullshit of appearances. To him, a gun is heavy. A hammer is light and gets it done quick. When he goes into houses, trying to find these girls he;s been hired to find, they are lived in but plain. These look just like “our” houses. I couldn’t help but think if the finger was pointing at middle America and the secret sins it hides at home. When they kill his mom, it’s one of the legs on his mental table. He doesn’t teeter, he crashes mentally. It’s hard to keep the line straight between good and evil, in fact it sort of dissolves into a vengeance chapter. As he lays on the floor with the dying assailant he holds his hand as if to say, “You aren’t fucked up man the world is.” And why does he take so much time burying him in the lake in an almost funeral like manner? Could he be thanking him for taking his mother to a better place? He seems reborn after this event. And how about the beautiful day outside? What was being said there?

I was very happy to see many critics agree this is a 100/100. It’s got very little dialog but the music acts as a narrator. It is incredible. Be ready for a slow burn that doesn’t do the work for you, you have to think and negotiate what this means for yourself. I loved it. 10/10.


Disrupts are moments in life when we feel distracted and are forced to stop our regular flow of creativity. It can be a time when we feel like giving up, but we musn’t. I like what Randy Pausch said: “The walla aren’t in our path to stop us but rather to test how much we want it. Huge numbers may want something but you determine how much more you want it than anyone else. A disruption is usually temporary it depends on you. Here’s Randy:


On Netflix as of 4/11/2018. My Score: 7/10 Francesca Eastwood, yes the daughter, plays the glam graduate student of art who gets distracted by the crimes of others and chooses to cope with her trauma. I enjoyed this imperfect film.

M.F.A. (2017)
Not Rated | 1h 32min | Thriller | 13 October 2017 (USA)

An art student taps into a rich source of creative inspiration after the accidental slaughter of her rapist. An unlikely vigilante emerges, set out to avenge college girls whose attackers walked free.
Director: Natalia Leite
Writer: Leah McKendrick
Stars: Francesca Eastwood, Clifton Collins Jr., Leah McKendrick

Pros: Francesca Eastwood, yes the daughter of Clint Eastwood, fronts this film of vengeance. It’s interesting to watch her struggle to improve her art and finally get recognition for it. Her facial expressions add to her acting abilities. In general, this film is fun to watch. Needed more good men, most are depicted as savages. The film remnded me a bit in tone of “American Mary” though not as body horror and not as gory.

Cons: Some of the material is non-credible. Suicides and covering tracks so well no one sees for a long time what is happening. The film assumes that most women would justify killing rapists. This is somewhat dealt with in the end but not completely. I wouldn’t call it horror it’s more of a thriller.