On DVD & Blu-Ray: January 29, 2013


Seven Psychopaths is a specific type of film. It is a special kind of movie yet it is one those outside the realm of devoted cinephiles might not fully comprehend. For this reason, and many many others I absolutely loved the movie. What is fascinating, yes fascinating, about the film is how, despite the idea that an audience member who doesn't see many movies, would still get everything out of this film they likely interpreted as being promised in the trailer (guns, sex, violence, humor). There is also a completely different layer provided for those expecting a little more from the outstanding cast and if you know a little more, the brilliant writer and fine director Martin McDonagh who was behind one of my favorite films of 2008, In Bruges. What this separate layer supplies is a very self-aware, meta-style story within a story that provides all the cliches and archetypes of a Hollywood production while at the same time deconstructing and analyzing each of them. Telling us why they are needed in order for us to feel fulfilled when walking out of the theater and why some of it seems so ridiculous when put through McDonagh's unique looking glass. On another level, what is even more satisfying about the film is its ability to be the film that its main character is writing, and be the best version of what he could likely imagine. We are easily taken in by the tricks of the hilarity and the profane violence, but despite all of that it is a really nice, peaceful film about love and friendship. There is a lot to go through, but these inherent features are what shine through after we allow the film to settle in. A

Let's talk about the Paranormal Activity series and what it has become. At this point most people will be quick to dismiss it as nothing more than a cash cow for Paramount who turns a huge profit off these things by making them for next to nothing and placing them in theaters every year around this time to see how many of us show up to see where the mythology of the films go next. I don't know that I have a problem with it, at least, not until the films themselves become obvious to the audience as to what they really are. For the time being though, the studio has been lucky enough to have New York filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Catfish) who also made the third installment and writer Christopher Landon who co-wrote the second and penned the third and fourth all on his own behind these films. Each of these individuals have managed to inject a good amount of fun into the franchise while also investing enough in the movies that we can tell they are pretty excited about where the franchise could potentially take the story and that they want to be a part of that. I tend to forget how wrapped up in these movies I get. I have begun to even view seeing them as more of an obligation than a genuine thrill or excitement for scares. When it comes down to it though, and I sit down with the people so genuinely portrayed on screen and not your standard horror-heroine cliches I remember how invested I have become in these movies and how well, despite this being the least scary in the series, it moves the story along and pushes the mythology surrounding Katie and her demon-tainted life. C+ 

It's hard to sometimes put a finger on how one can gauge an Adam Sandler production. This is especially true when it comes to the comedian pushing out children's movies rather than his standard PG-13 fare. You hate to bash the guy because he genuinely seems invested in putting out fun, enjoyable films for parents to take their young ones to. It is clear his current life situation inclines him to know what youngsters might want to see in a film (he has a four and a six year old) and despite his current lack of both critical and commercial success he still has the clout to concoct pretty much anything he would like. Thus, we have a cute if not predictable movie that follows the pattern of pretty much any Sandler movie where we learn generic lessons of love and life. There is nothing really wrong with what the guy is doing and I wonder if there is even a point in complaining anymore and so I wiped Jack & Jill from my mind and experienced Hotel Transylvania with a renewed sense of hope and trust in Sandler and his gang that provide the voice work here. While that trust didn't extend to giving the comedian more credit than he is due the film is also overshadowed by being one of three Halloween-inspired kid flicks last year. This was the biggest deterrent for the feature as I'd just witnessed Paranorman and its fantastical quirks prior to this one. I was hoping this more light-hearted fare might provide some wonderfully clever bits while subliminally teaching the tykes of today that discrimination and bullying aren't cool. Rest assured, there are some creative and inspired sequences while the story focuses more on the father/daughter relationship, but what is truly refreshing is that I didn't come out of a Sandler produced film having cringed multiple times throughout. I'll take it.

After several delays it became more and more evident exactly what the The Cold Light of Day really was. There is nothing that could have made this film look any less inspired except for the possibility that rising star Henry Cavill chose it as an opportunity to put his stamp on a good little chase film. The new Superman will have to continue trying though as this forgettable little action film from unknown director Mabrouk El Mechri reaches the pinnacle of generic. There is no depth to the script and no real time to even get to know the motivations of the stock characters that wander across the screen. One has to be curious as to how these kinds of movies continue to get made and with such impressive casts. As you watch the film you cannot help but to wonder who read this and thought it stood. Dropped in theaters in the wasteland that can be late August and early September the film still had trouble finding an audience because there was hardly any push for it and I expect the same to be true with home video. What stood out besides an easy paycheck and free vacation to credible actors like Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver who show up, do what they are accustomed to and leave without even caring what the circumstances of their characters are? Probably that paycheck and free vacation, but despite the lovely tour of Madrid the film does provide in spots I can't help but to feel I'm going to take out all my frustrations on the studio system for dumping this type of generic crap on unsuspecting moviegoers who will pay their good money to see Willis and Cavill in a good old fashioned action film when Willis is dead less than twenty minutes in. F
 
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