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When In Dark Las Vegas, Face North And Run Off

This roundup rounds out the end of January, and hopefully puts a lid on the radioactive waste that’s been oozing into theaters.  In the past, we’ve dipped into the limited releases just so people don’t lose hope in this dark month, and since the month isn’t quite over, we’re dipping again.  We’ve got three limited release movies you’ve probably never heard of and two mainstream movies that are due to ooze into multiplexes this weekend, so let’s get to it.  First up, after an eight year hiatus from acting (over 30’s, this is your cue to feel old) Mel Gibson returns as a grieving father who demolishes bad guys and a Boston accent in Edge Of Darkness (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“An odd duck of a thriller. Quiet, talkative, with the occasional explosion of violence, it has ghosts and characters philosophizing, quoting F. Scott Fitzgerald or blurting insensitive non-sequiturs.” Orlando Sentinel Roger Moore

Since most thrillers are too predictable to be odd, let’s call that a compliment.

“Gibson is willing to embrace the chance to be this generation’s Charles Bronson.”  Willie Waffle WaffleMovies.com

Under 30’s, this is your cue to say “who?”

“Mel is at the top of his game as the T-1000 of angry, grieving fathers.” Thomas Leupp Hollywood.com

That’s a better film reference.  But then again, Terminator 2 came out almost 20 years ago (1991).  And is it just me or does James Cameron come up in nearly every conversation about movies these days?

“A shot that defiantly fixes on Mel Gibson’s balding pate from behind is the only evidence of the volatile actor-director’s famous penchant for cinematic self-flagellation here.” Ed Gonzalez Slant Magazine

So, he comes out of retirement to self-flagellate over his bald spot?  I wonder if anyone’s called him Sugar Dome yet?

“Gibson tries on a Boston accent (it needs work) and boringly underplays his character before the inevitable “Mad Mel” makes his appearance in the third act.” Roger Moore Orlando Sentinel

He prefers to be called Sane Mel

Whether he’s Martin Riggs pulling suicidal stockbrokers off rooftops or Max running over bikers of the apocalypse, Mad Mel is what made him famous.  Do you have any comparable memories for Maverick or What Women Want?

“Love him or loathe him, the Melster still has screen presence. That’s why he’s a star.” Robert W. Butler Kansas City Star

I think we can all agree to loathe the Melster…but only as a nickname.  Mad Mel is so much funnier.  What’s the final word on the movie most likely to come in at number 2 behind Avatar.

“Campbell’s film offers not surprises, exactly, but craftsmanship and low, brute, cunning satisfactions.” Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

Should I be surprised that I don’t know what low, brute, cunning satisfaction is?  While I’m pondering that, let’s ponder what to do When In Rome (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“Certain scenes in When in Rome signify nothing less than the death of screen slapstick, but I’m hoping it’s one of those fake-out movie deaths where it’s not really dead, not forever.” Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think he just implied that slapstick humor faked it’s own death in this movie.  If that doesn’t put butts in seats, what will?

“A weak rehash of Love Potion No. 9, with Love Potion No. 9 replaced by crack.” Phil Villarreal OK! Magazine

Harold and Kumar were pro-marijuana, Go and Groove were pro-Ecstasy, and now When In Rome is pro-crack?  Did I get that right?

I wonder if the Olsen's version was pro-anything?

“The director of ‘Ghost Rider’ and ‘Daredevil’ tries to make us laugh on purpose for once — and fails badly.” Thomas Leupp Hollywood.com

Yeah, but how many of those laughs came from Affleck prancing around in red leather and Nick Cage with his head on fire?  If you put either of those things in this movie, you’d get laughs.

“If someone taught classes on how not to make a romantic comedy, When in Rome would most certainly be one of the examples they would use.” Jeff Vice Deseret News, Salt Lake City

If I could teach classes on how not to do something, I would have had tenure years ago.

“Please, Gods of Love, make this movie disappear.” Connie Ogle Miami Herald

I can’t answer your prayer, but perhaps you could appeal to Saint John of Las Vegas (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic)

“With stars like Steve Buscemi and Sarah Silverman and big-fish producers such as Spike Lee and Stanley Tucci on board, you’d think this indie would offer some glimmer of wit or originality. Think again.” Chris Nashawaty Entertainment Weekly

But the premise is a road movie retelling of Dante’s Inferno, I see a glimmer of originality right there.  Is it really that bad?

“The promised quirkiness is muted and dull, and the stakes seem much lower than they ought to.”  Josh Bell Las Vegas Weekly

The reviewer from Las Vegas wanted higher stakes.  Big surprise…

“Steve Buscemi cuts so droll and heart-wrenching a figure in Hue Rhodes’s deadpan road movie Saint John of Las Vegas that the plot — shaggy and inconsequential as it is — gets in the way.” David Edelstein New York Magazine

Watch out!  The plot is in the way! (badump badump).

He should have watched out for plot holes.

“As a portrait of one man’s journey toward dignity, Saint John isn’t bad enough to create its own special circle of hell. As a comedy, though, it’s anything but divine.” Glenn Whipp Associated Press

The upside is that it doesn’t create a ninth circle of hell?  What would that even look like?

“First-time director and screenwriter Hue Rhodes shows no discernible talent for dialogue, humor and, especially, pacing. For a movie than runs a mere 85 minutes, Saint John moves like a life sentence in molasses prison.” Peter Travers Rolling Stone

You heard it here first, the newest level of hell is a syrup slammer.  French toasters, waffle hounds and pancake aficionados just got a license to sin.  Congrats.  They may already be Off And Running (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic)

Someone want to start us off with summary?

“Nice coming-of-age doc about an African-American teen who shares a Brooklyn brownstone with the white Jewish lesbian parents who adopted her and two adopted siblings.” Doris Toumarkine Film Journal International

Wow, how has this story not become an MTV reality show?  The topic sounds sticky, and I mean the emotional way not the syrup slammer way.

“Director Nicole Opper never resorts to promoting reductive, campus counselor-esque values.”  Ed Gonzalez Slant Magazine

“Opper doesn’t angle for a climactic group hug, but she sticks around long enough to allow us to exhale while this intelligent young woman begins to set herself, quite literally, back on track.” Ella Taylor Village Voice

I’m glad to hear that this story doesn’t need any climatic cinematic camp counselor crowd cuddling.  Okay, no more crappy couplets.

“Initially succeeds at accounting for the formation of this unlikely family unit, but as the subject’s life starts to unravel, cut-rate cable TV techniques (trifling montages, an overactive string score) deaden the full impact of her crisis.” Time Out New York Kevin B. Lee

Most documentaries are imperfect.  They have to take a true story and refine it for film without sacrificing too much truth at the alter of entertainment.  Assuming audiences can look past the blemishes, what are they in for?

“Ultimately uplifting, this endearing bio-pic offers a wonderful warts-and-all look from the inside out at both the blessings and challenges of trans-cultural adoption.” Kam Williams NewsBlaze

And speaking of uplifting bio pics with a few warts, our last film tells the story of a pair of German climbers who were urged to climb the north face of the Eiger in the Swiss Alps by propaganda-seeking Nazis: North Face (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“Anyone who loved Touching The Void will be moved by what turns into a quest for survival. This film has a bigger budget, more spectacular shots, a touching love story and a historical backdrop of the Nazi thirst for glory.” Sun Online

For fans of survival stories and Mountain Film, North Face sounds like an appropriately harrowing entry into the genre.

“Director Philipp Stoltz proves a master of tension, cruelly juxtaposing the climbers – caked in ice and ravaged by frostbite – with the idle sightseers, gorging on champagne while casually gauging the mountaineers’ progress.” Tim Evans Sky Movies

I hate champagne guzzling Nazis.

Almost as much as I hate other food service Nazis

“Cleverly playing on the genre’s propagandistic ties to the Third Reich, the film reflects the tragic arc of National Socialism in each ominous crevasse and in every grandiloquent gesture.” Keith Uhlich Time Out New York

So, the rise and fall of the Third Reich parallels the rise and fall of a pair of rock jocks?  Cool.

“Director Philipp Stölzl makes the movie a tad more political (i.e., anti-Nazi) than it needs to be, but Fürmann’s stoic performance reduces the story to its harsh, true fundamentals.” Village Voice Brian Miller

Was that use of ‘stoic’ a mountain pun?  Was it better/worse than my ‘cool’ pun?

“Exactly what the magic of movies is about, giving you a risk-free front-row seat that still manages to make you feel like you’re caught up in the action.” Marshall Fine Hollywood & Fine

PDJ rarely manages risk-free action

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7 Responses

  1. I laughed out loud at “plot holes” and “syrup slammer.” Nice work, Pat.

  2. I second that. Pat is awesome!

  3. It’a a King Sheep lovefest — I love you, too, dude!

    Keep up the merry-making.

  4. Blush + Smile = Blumile.

    I’m blumiling right now.

  5. Yes, plot holes was funny.

  6. Thanks for the great post! One of the best post I have seen in a long time.

  7. I found your site from bing and it is magnificent. Thankx for supplying such an amazing blog post…

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