Dishonorably Spent

Avenge the Crows: The Legend of Loca (Theaters-NA; Streaming-December 2017) Rated: TV-MA —  Runtime: M Crows 201796 minutes

Genre: Action-Crime-Drama-Thriller

els – 3.0/10

IMDb – 5.4/10

Amazon – 4.4/5 stars

Rotten Tomatoes Critics – NA/10

Rotten Tomatoes Audience – 5.0/5

Metacritic Metascore – NA/100

Metacritic User Score – NA/10

Directed by: Nathan Gabaeff

Written by:  Nathan Gabaeff

Music by:  Spencer Brock, Nathan Gabaeff

Cast:  Danay Garcia, Michael Flores, Cesar Garcia, Lou Diamond Phillips, Danny Trejo

Film Locations:  Los Angeles, US

Budget: $NA — Low-Budget Indie

Worldwide Box Office: $NA

Loca (Danay Garcia), is a down on her luck gangbanging, murdering, thieving, slutty, drug dealing, junkie with a bad temper.  She’s the movie’s protagonist, the champion, the heroine who screws everyone and everything just to become a little more amoral and mercurial than yesterday. She’s the object of a prison gang’s mysterious hit sanction, which she must defend herself and her innocent cousin against and, just to thicken the plot, she must outsmart and outflank a Mexican drug cartel and the opposing LA street gangs.  All by tomorrow.

This is  Nathan Gabaeff’s second effort as a writer and director, the first being the poorly received 2016 Boost, also featuring Danay Garcia and Danny Trejo.  Avenge the Crows is a low-budget film that comes across as being written and directed as an allegorical, non-judgmental documentary of gang life on the streets of LA, complete with flickering static and choppy breaks in the film.  The story is brutal and stupid, the violence and sex are cheap, bordering on pointless. Then there’s the dialogue capable of contradicting itself  in the same scene.  Garcia tells her cousin that it must be the RR prison gang that is responsible for stalking them and then in the next sentence tells her cousin that the gang has no Earthly reason to stalk them.  Well, which is it? How do you arrive at the conclusion that it’s the RR gang when you have no reason to suspect them.

There is some good acting in this movie, Phillips and Trejo, despite the screenplay and direction, but that doesn’t include Danay Garcia.  The women can’t act, but as long as she keeps taking her clothes off the money folks will keep casting her.

Gabaeff was able to pull in some of the most recognizable names in Hispanic acting; Garcia, Phillips, Trejo, for this low-budget movie.  I can’t fathom how he was able to convince these actors sign up for this stinking dog of a movie and, sadly, he has more of these losers in the pipe-line.

This is a movie about the worst of the human condition and its degrading impulses. It passes on declaring any judgement; moral, ethical, or legal; neither for nor against: pathetic.  The movie is artistically dead and morally bankrupt.

Raw Infamy

Last Rampage (Theaters-2017; Streaming-2017)  Rated: R  Runtime: 92-93 minutesM Rampage 2017

Genre:  Crime-Drama-Mystery-Thriller

els – 7.0/10

IMDb – 5.4/10

Amazon – 3.7/5 stars

Rotten Tomatoes Critics – 5.9/10

Rotten Tomatoes Audience – 4.1/5

Metacritic Metascore – 49/100

Metacritic User Score – NA/10

Directed by:  Dwight H. Little

Written by:   James W. Clarke (book), Alvaro Rodríguez (screenplay)

Music by:  Tobias Enhus, Richard Patrick

Cast:   Robert Patrick, Heather Graham, Bruce Davison, Chris Browning

Film Locations:   Club Ed Film Set – 150th Street E, Lancaster, California, US

Budget:   NA

Worldwide Box Office:  $6,294

This is a true tale, lifted from the pages of James W. Clarke’s 1999 book: Last Rampage: The Escape of Gary Tison. It’s a story of the gruesome, murderous crimes committed by a pair of maniacal felons following their escape from prison. The movie portrays sociopaths Gary Tison (Patrick) and Randy Greenawalt (Browning) in their twisted, bloody run from the state police and justice, through the barren, dry hills of Arizona.

Gary Tison, a hypnotic, Charles Manson like figure, begins his criminal life as a petty thief but quickly escalates to a major felon by taking the life of a prison guard. Greenawalt, a thoroughly remorseless and creepy individual, executes two truck drivers while they sleep, and is a suspect in several similar murders. Both men are serving life for their homicides. Miraculously the two get themselves transferred, for “excellent behavior”, to a low-security jail on the outskirts of Florence, Arizona where, with the help of Tison’s 3 matriarchally, brainwashed and programed young sons, plan their escape. The boys casually waltz into the prison on visitor’s day, whip out their guns, demand the release of Tison and Greenawalt and the 5 of them drive off into the dusty Arizona countryside, somehow staying one step ahead of the law. Death of the innocent and innocence follows Tison and Greenawalt in their lurching, chaotic escape to Mexico. For 10 days, killing grounds are everywhere and anywhere they meet the unwary and the innocent. For 10 days, the young boys’ probity, their innocence, slowly drains away to the horror that is their father.

Last Rampage, a gritty, no frills look at two demented beings, is structured by Dwight H. Little, the director, to exhibit the criminal monsters in a sharp, glaring  light of fact; a truth that is hideous and raw. A hard white light flooding the scene with no sympathy, no quarter, just evil shown as it is: evil.  A true tour de force in the crime genre with the exception that the opening scene was pointless.

The acting is superb, although Robert Patrick may carry his role as hell’s spawn with him longer than he may wish. Patrick and Browning’s sociopathic characters are displayed with an authoritative, emotionless, punch-to-the-gut performance, inciting the viewer to casually, almost clinically, conclude that death would be good for these two.

Liam’s Choice

Radius  (Theaters-2018; Streaming-2017)  Rated: NR  Runtime: 87-93 minutesM Radius 2017

Genre: Fantasy-Mystery-Science Fiction-Suspense-Thriller

els – 6.0/10

IMDb – 6.2/10

Amazon – 3.7/5 stars

Rotten Tomatoes Critics – 7.8/10

Rotten Tomatoes Audience – 3.5/5

Metacritic Metascore – NA/100

Metacritic User Score – NA/10

Directed by:  Caroline Labrèche, Steeve Léonard

Written by:  Caroline Labrèche, Steeve Léonard

Music by:  Benoît Charest

Cast:  Diego Klattenhoff, Charlotte Sullivan

Film Location:  Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada

Budget:  NA

The mystery begins as Liam (Klattenhoff) wakes up in a confused state, lying next to an overturned car.  As he stumbles away from the car and walks down a lonely road, an approaching car slows, possibly to pick him up, but instead, appears to try to run him over in slow motion. Liam sidesteps the car, and it coasts off the road and comes to a stop in the ditch.  In a what-the moment, Liam approaches the car, opens the driver’s door, and finds the occupant dead.  Upon calling 911, or whatever the Canadian equivalent is, the operator asks for Liam’s name; stumped by the question he resorts to looking at his driver’s license for the answer. Liam remembers nothing, who he is, what he is, where he is; his existence started at the point of regaining consciousness at the crash site.  The dead driver scene repeats in various forms; people, birds, any living mammal that approach him, or vice versa, dies.  With the bodies piling up, he ultimately realizes that it isn’t a pathogen killing everyone; its him: get too close to Liam, a radius of a few tens of feet, and you die: instantly. Jane (Sullivan), a passenger in Liam’s car at the time of the crash, but unknown to Liam when he woke up at the crash site, tracks Liam down and they discover that his radius of death is inoperative when she is near. Her yin to his yang.

A set of moral dilemmas are introduced with a semi-transparent brush that are easily resolved, but not very satisfying, at least not from an emotional perspective.  Are you responsible for a past life that you can not remember? Are you responsible for a life that your are fully cognizant of, but unable to control?  Jane answers no to both queries. Liam answers yes, at least to the latter. The movie leaves you to decide his answer to the former.

This is Labreche and Leonard’s second low-budget movie they have directed together. Their first movie they directed, Sans Dessein (Without Design), was filmed in Montreal for $15,000 Canadian, and released in French in 2009. The movie received above average reviews from critics and viewers (IMDb 7.0/10).

In Radius the movie production is very good, for a low-budget film, and has met with similar reviews as Sans Dessein. I suspect their efforts in this movie, as writers and directors, will get them noticed by folks with deeper pockets in the near future.

An original story and script, with mostly good acting, certainly not bad. The directors set a pace that’s a tad slow, resulting in the viewer leaping ahead of the story, which in this case, is not necessarily bad.  An entertaining flick with a unsatisfying, but necessary ending.  Hitchcock may not have approved but he would have understood.

Survive This

Jungle  (2017)  Rated: R  Runtime: 115 minuteM Jungle 2017

Genre: Action-Adventure-Drama-Suspense

els – 5.5/10

IMDb – 6.7/10

Amazon – 4.5/5 stars

Rotten Tomatoes Critics – 5.5/10

Rotten Tomatoes Audience – 3.7/5

Metacritic Metascore – 48/100

Metacritic User Score – 7.4/10

Directed by:  Greg McLean

Written by:  Yossi Ghinsberg and Justin Monjo

Produced by:  Todd Fellman, Mike Gabrawy, Gary Hamilton

Music by:  Johnny Klimek

Cast:  Daniel Radcliffe, Thomas Kretschmann, Alex Russell, Adrian Rawlins

B Jungle 2005Jungle, the movie, based on the 2005 autobiographical memoir:  Jungle: A Harrowing True Story of Survival by Yossi Ghinsberg; illustrates the fateful adventure, through the Bolivian jungle, of 3 young, adrenaline seeking friends and their enigmatic guide.  The guide (Adrian Rawlins, of James Potter fame in the Harry Potter movies) convinces a gullible and naive Yossi, played by Radcliffe, to join him on an ill-defined quest for lost villages and gold; through uncharted mountainous terrain of sheer cliffs and rugged slopes, networks of clogged vegetative mazes, deep-valley rivers of contesting demeanor; lethargic, sleepy flows metastasizing to rabid, boiling waters jetting past plane sized boulders in a few accelerated heartbeats; matching ones physical and psychological endurance against a wild, relentless, and unsympathetic jungle.

One of the many weak and feeble points in the screenplay and direction is how Yossi manages to convince his mates to join him on this expedition of folly with an unknown guide of dubious qualifications. It was definitely an unconvincing sales pitch while watching the film. Being a true story I’ll acknowledge that it happened, however the suspension of disbelief could have been strengthened tremendously with the use of artistic license, maybe having all involved brain addled by booze and drugs, rather than relying on Yossi’s Harry Potter smile to reach a unanimous agreement to commit trekking suicide.  The guide is easily the most interesting personality in the movie, but his character development and origins are glossed over; using him merely as a tool to get the show going.  Too bad. A final mention of a perceived flaw was the filming of the death inducing rafting through the river’s rapids. I can create more convincing white-water in my bathtub than what I observed on the screen.

Radcliffe’s acting ability has improved leaps and bounds since the days of Harry Potter, but he still can’t present raw, unbridled emotion worth a damn. The scenes of fist pounding angst should have been left on the cutting room floor, to the vast improvement of the film.  Radcliffe will never be a great lead actor; a supporting role will provide him well through his career though, if he wisely choses to go that route.

Jungle is a tolerable flick, not a must see, but worth a few hours of your time on a lazy rainy day.

 

Set for Cruising

The Mummy  (2017)M Mummy 2017

els – 6.0/10

IMDb– 5.5/10

Amazon – 3.0/5 stars

Rotten Tomatoes Critics – 4.2/10

Rotten Tomatoes Audience – 2.8/5

Directed by: Alex Kurtzman

Written by: David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman, Jon Spaihts,        Alex Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet

Produced by: Sarah Bradshaw, Sean Daniel, Genevieve Hofmeyr, Alex Kurtzman, Chris Morgan

Music by: Brian Tyler

Cast: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Russell Crowe

The Egyptian God Set, possibly the really bad guy in this installment of mummy movies, is a god of the desert, storms, chaos, violence, sometimes a good guy; brother to Osiris, Isis, and Nephthys; husband of Nephthys; father of Anubis: generally an unfathomable god useful to script writers when an all-purpose villain, or hero, is needed.

Set needs to occupy a human form to realize his full potential, eventually settling on Morton (Cruise) for that honor: before that occurs though, a little background. The movie begins apace, slightly slower than that actually, from a pact Set made with a pharos’ daughter Ahmanet (Boutella), he gets to be a god in human form and she gets to be a pharos, which is a god in human form; but the pact is discovered and fails, since the movie needs a plot; forthwith she is killed, mummified, and buried far away from Egypt in Mesopotamia.  Enter Morton, a little closer to present day, who is in Iraq for a war or something, who discoveries the tomb of Ahmanet, ships it off to London to pair it up with some old artifacts; ostensibly to keep the plot from freezing up.  After a few twists and turns, Dr. Jekyll (Crowe) materializes to assist with the coming climatic scenes.

The critics, and the audiences, have panned this movie mercilessly, but what I saw was a fairly decent B action movie with some fair attempts at humor.  Cruise has taken the brunt of the critical abuse; such as being too old for action movies, much in the same vein as Harrison Ford’s last Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; the credibility to perform the action stunts is strained.  Cruise plays a brash, in it for himself, unsympathetic character, which critics felt wasn’t a plausible part for him; maybe, but it worked in Top Gun.  The best line in the movie occurred when the plane carrying Morton and his conquest, Halsey (Wallis), is approaching the ground, burning, at more than safe angles and speed; in which Morton gives the only parachute to Halsey, pushes her out of the plane, and saves her life.  Morton crashes with the plane, but survives.  Later Halsey thanks Morton for magnanimously giving her the only parachute, at which he sheepishly replies, “I thought there were two”.

This is a better movie than what the critics have told you.

The Final Cattle of Farmer Geddon

Little Fears Presents January, by Peter Edwards, Independently published ; © 2017.B January

Puns, discovered on eon old Sumerian cuneiform writings, are some of the oldest forms of humor known to man. Humor does not get any lower than a pun. To pun is to groan. I do love puns.

Peter Edwards delivers non-stop punnery paired with zany ink scratches, providing much needed levity to counter the daily dose of  fishstressing current events in Little Fears Presents January. A lively and quick read, delivering your daily dose of groans.

A fleeting and final dose of groans from the 2017 O. Henry Pun Off winner, Southpaw Jones:

Tomorrow’s Mother’s day, so give me a wide birth from this gestation, period. Not to bore children, crown around, or stirrup trouble, but to breech a little spermon induce labor-ious minutes for my mom and all Lamaze newborn not. I’m gonna trimester to come to term with it all, but I’m tearing up already. Mom, thank you for giving me womb to grow, for halloweening, for a family of huggers & huggies, for protesting any sign that cesarean section, for soup when I had a cough. You didn’t just cervix. For the what do you colicky to the door of life’s intercourse that fallopian tube be walked through. You managed to fetus on coo & fundus too, made sure my heart had love and lactate, pushed me to gamete my obligations, spit up straight, egg cell in school where I’d stretch marks as high as onesies. We went to church for maternal soul the grand canyon. That time engorgement so much kayaking. I had faith in utero me to shore. Now, as zygote through life, uterus-t me to live the values you placenta me. What to kn-OBGYN the world am I a letdown? Embryo-iled in crime. I know what it sounds like when a hormones. It was a centimeter and my athlete friend, I sold hemorrhoids. I feel like a real heel prick when we fight. It’s like a doula something, but if I umbilical cord-ially, I know you’ll VBAC on my side. I know lots of parents diaper season, but I object! Permanence, please! I don’t wanna feel that morning sickness. So live long and dilate. There’s a postpartum. Oh! And a mother thing. I love you, Mom!

Groan On.

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