From Riley on Film: “Amores Perros”

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s debut film is amazing. I finally got around to watching it and did a show on it here for fellow fans.

Amores Perros (2000)
Amores perros (original title)
R | 2h 34min | Drama, Thriller | 13 April 2001 (USA)
Amores Perros Poster
A horrific car accident connects three stories, each involving characters dealing with loss, regret, and life’s harsh realities, all in the name of love.
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu (as Alejandro González Iñárritu)
Writer: Guillermo Arriaga (as Guillermo Arriaga Jordán)
Stars: Emilio Echevarría, Gael García Bernal, Goya Toledo

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From Riley on Film: “Two Lovers and a Bear”

I love the novels of Jack London where there’s sure to be snow, whiskey, white fanged husky dogs and other Alaskan treasures. Nature “bites” in this film where we have a couple trying to fight back their demons in this harsh place. Is it a romance? Well, lets examine that too.

Enter Hemingway, Melville, London … you will like what’s being served at this table. We’ve heard of nature being our indifferent enemy but what to do when that enemy is our own nature. We have not yet begun that process in film and literature, but it’s here in this film … along with a few others through the years.

Two Lovers and a Bear (2016)
R | 1h 36min | Drama, Romance | 16 December 2016 (USA)

Set in a small town near the North Pole where roads lead to nowhere, the story follows Roman (DeHaan) and Lucy (Maslany), two burning souls who come together to make a leap for life and inner peace.
Director: Kim Nguyen
Writer: Kim Nguyen
Stars: Dane DeHaan, Tatiana Maslany, Gordon Pinsent
I almost always love the film when the director also wrote the film. In this case it is Kim Nguyen doing both artistic roles. My hat goes off to him, and I assume he wears a hat also because like me, he is shaved bald. (Gotta love the brother!). I don’t know much about him other than he is known for this and two other films and he is a Canadian: War Witch (2012), Two Lovers and a Bear (2016) and The Marsh (2002). I would put stock in him because this film is something quite different than we are used to seeing. Human v Nature/Human v Self. It’s a gritty psychological drama and God forbid IMDB plot keywords would let us toil in ignorance of these features:

“Plot Keywords: sex on table | sex scene | topless female nudity | female nudity”

Yes, Orphan Black star, Tatiana Maslany, bares her breasts. That’s the easy part of nature no one is too worried about.

All these facts plus the plot basically is two lovers at the North Pole in a barely functioning town. Why they are there is not explicitly mentioned, at least not as much as the breasts are displayed. 😉 There is something about an abusive father in her past and he … likes the drink and he likes the hard drink. Sometimes you gotta just go “right now.” Other times maybe your demons are better dealt with by a heater. This couple is fraught with demons and they decide it’s time to go into the snow, into the storm but not without the help of a very helpful? bear. Dane DeHaan seems to like him. BTW DeHaan is there and does a good job as such. Not much more is needed from the, I wonder if he even likes the White Stripes.

This is no family movie. It’s also not a sweet romance, unless you think of Moby Dick as romantic. Having said that, there is a lot to think about romance here, maybe how “not” to support a lover with baggage. For a gritty tale of love? turmoil and t*** on a table, I do recommend.


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From Riley on Film: “(Podcast) Terminator: Dark Fate, 2019 – ★★★★½”

Listen at –> The DRP Film Podcast

I came to the Terminator party late. In fact it was only after I saw this particular film that I decided the whole franchise was worth a look. Isn’t that what good sequels should do? For me, the graphics were the most amazing thing. It can’t be denied they spared no expense and went way out and beyond what even the groundbreaking T2 did with the mercury like effect.

Here, they use all the modern toys to make this feel like you are actually there, among the robots and even yourself threatened by them. Because the graphics are so perfect, it’s been said before better than I can say it here. I’d rather talk about this film on the merits of its characters which, although less that perfect, make this film so very good and so very accessible to someone who isn’t necessarily a huge Terminator fan. Let me take you through my impressions of how 2 key characters made this film work well for me.

First: Sarah Connor’s character. She is back and with a vengeance, I was so excited seeing her on the screen. Of course her casting was perfect. Some might argue she is past her prime and therefore they could have gotten a more glamorous woman to play the role. I say bullshit, the only one to play her role is her. I must admit though at times I thought the script was good but too much for her as an actor. I think she is better as a “Rambo” type that we hear few lines from. Then again, this is the type of film that relies more on graphics and action for its entertainment.

It was probably not noticed by many that her acting is bad and that’s good. I know she played in “Beauty and the Beast” alongside Ron Perelman as Beast early on in her career. We know she can act so maybe it was more the fault of the writing. Casting and appearance. Nonetheless, seeing her re-emerge onto the screen as modern day Sarah was beyond exciting despite any fumbles in acting.

The new villain Terminator was outstanding. He had big shoes to fill but he pulled it off masterfully. I think asking him Hispanic with the highly Mexican story-line was also a very wise choice. His script was successfully peppered with “Bro/Hermano” type dialect trying to get ingratiated into the border patrol’s good graces. It worked every time. He was scary, sexy, and believable too.

Of course Arnold and Mackenzie bring loads of talent to the screen in this one. Arnold’s new Terminator, “Carl,” has tons to say that falls into the quotable comedy relief section. Both are to be commended but I think the prior two I mentioned bring the most to the film that make it great. Because the acting and script was sometimes hit and miss, I gave it a 9/10. I definitely recommend it.

Published first at the DRP film podcast:

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From Riley on Film: “(Podcast) Across the Hall, 2009 – ★★★★★”

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I am so glad I discovered “Across the Hall” on my watchlist to watch today. As a reviewer of films I usually have many on my list but I don’t always know which to watch first. I went with this because it was accessible on tubi for free w/ads, it said it was horror, which it is not, and last but not least, it stars the sexy bombshell Brittany Murphy. It was better than I expected. I love it when a movie uses simplicity to its advantage and offers an experience that belies its ease. But chronological storytelling isn’t the approach here, the director unfurls the plot through bouncing to and fro in time.

In perfect step with the simplicity, this film was derived from a short the director Alex Merkin made 3 years prior. It’s noticeable right away that he has given much thought to the costumery and sets. It takes place in a lavish old hotel in New York City. It’s a bit lackluster though, like it was posh at one time but now it’s receded into an hourly house of covert acts. They are trying to improve it though. We see the bellman who runs the place taking reservations and walking customers to their rooms for seemingly surreptitious reasons. Macro views and clues through depth of field focus help serve a simple sense that the director knows exactly what he is doing. It’s a well-told story, trust you can relax and enjoy the telling. Part of this story is told through dialog.

The script is simple and to the point. I would imagine it’s not as many pages as most thrillers, There isn’t much to read between the lines, though some gems are there if you catch them. It is after all not a horror but a thriller/mystery. We aren’t given much other than the setting at first and it’s through conversations on cell phones that we are given the initial clues as to what’s going on. With many thriller focusing on long “hip” dialog, “Pulp Fiction” comes to mind, these lines are refreshingly sparse and, as I have already said, thickly effective. But chronological storytelling isn’t the approach here, the director unfurls the plot through bouncing to and fro in time.

The timeline in “Across the Hall” is simple yet it was likely not simple to create. Each time we get a new space in time there is a little clue. There are about 3 really big ones. All of them are necessary to understanding the plot and worth waiting for. Be careful with prejudices against the “bad guy,” you may be surprised in the end or then again, maybe not. I have seen a lot of movies fuck up this “in and out of time” approach, this ones uses it masterfully.

There’s a season of “American Horror Story” that takes place in a hotel, think of those colors. This is a highly visual film where much thought was given to every aspect not the least of which the casting: Brittany Murphy looks very very good. But above all, I appreciate the way this film uses simplicity to its advantage making it a perfect mystery/thriller.

Published first at the DRP film podcast:

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From Riley on Film: “The Signal, 2007 – ★★½”

Mya is the character that weaves throughout 4 stories. I really can’t recommend this one. My most vivid recollection is the way the blood looks like cooked rib meat on the actors’ cheeks and arms. It’s all practical effects which wins points with me. I was reminded of “The Teacher” another indy horror that came out 2-3 years back. There’s hammering nails and pulling extremities of the hammered nails just like this film.

Think carefully and hard though, if I am writing about my recollections that way, does it say much for the other stuff like the story? The acting? Yeah, I waited a while to see this one. Do you ever keep pushing a film further down your watchlist because others are more alluring? Well, I finally got to this one and it really did nothing for me. 

A signal goes out making people into killers. This isn’t a new concept. It’s very akin to the “can’t miss for studios” zombie genre. Unfortunately, this film’s signal peters out quickly and doesn’t measure up to the films it rides on the coattails of. I say miss it.

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From Riley on Film: “(Podcast) Hard Candy, A Dark Song and 4 More – Film Roundup 10-31-2019”

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Hard Candy, A Dark Song, 100 Feet, Inherit the Wind, and Thanks for Sharing. Join me as I talk about these 6 amazing films. You are welcome to leave comments.

Hard Candy

1. Hard Candy (2005)

R | 104 min | Drama, Thriller 7.1  10 58 Metascore

A teenage girl raids a man’s home in order to expose him under suspicion that he is a pedophile.

Director: David Slade | Stars: Patrick WilsonEllen PageSandra OhOdessa Rae

Votes: 148,428 | Gross: $1.01MWatch Now
From $3.99 on Prime Video

100 Feet

2. 100 Feet (2008)

R | 96 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller 5.5  7

After Marnie Watson kills her abusive husband in self-defense, she is condemned to house arrest… only to discover that the house is possessed by the enraged and violent spirit of her dead husband.

Director: Eric Red | Stars: Famke JanssenBobby CannavaleEd WestwickMichael Paré

Votes: 11,620On Disc
at Amazon

Inherit the Wind

3. Inherit the Wind (1960)

Passed | 128 min | Biography, Drama, History 8.1  10 75 Metascore

Based on a real-life case in 1925, two great lawyers argue the case for and against a science teacher accused of the crime of teaching evolution.

Director: Stanley Kramer | Stars: Spencer TracyFredric MarchGene KellyDick York

Votes: 25,191Watch Now
From $2.99 on Prime Video

Thanks for Sharing

4. Thanks for Sharing (2012)

R | 112 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance 6.4  7 54 Metascore

A romantic comedy that brings together three disparate characters who are learning to face a challenging and often confusing world as they struggle together against a common demon: sex addiction.

Director: Stuart Blumberg | Stars: Mark RuffaloTim RobbinsGwyneth PaltrowJosh Gad

Votes: 25,115 | Gross: $1.06MWatch Now
From $3.99 on Prime Video


5. Columbo (1971–2003)

TV-PG | 100 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery 8.2  10

Los Angeles homicide detective Lieutenant Columbo uses his humble ways and ingenuous demeanor to winkle out even the most well-concealed of crimes.

Stars: Peter FalkMike LallyJohn FinneganBruce Kirby

Votes: 24,445Watch for Free
on IMDb TV + 1 more

A Dark Song

6. A Dark Song (2016)

Unrated | 100 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror 6.1  8 71 Metascore

A determined young woman and a damaged occultist risk their lives and souls to perform a dangerous ritual that will grant them what they want.

Director: Liam Gavin | Stars: Steve OramCatherine WalkerSusan LoughnaneMark Huberman

Votes: 11,980Watch Now
From $2.99 on Prime Video

Published first at the DRP film podcast:

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