Sorry film freaks – only a meager five flicks for critical dissection this time out, but I also helmed a premiere this week (Go The Harvesters!) and there’s a short film review here too, so cinematically it’s a push. In any case five very different movies below including a political one-man show, a romantic comedy, a cannabis themed terror tale, a bloody, funny, scary western and an avant-garde chiller thriller – odd is indeed the order of the day! Check out the Encapsulated Movie Reviews of Michael Moore in TrumpLand, It Had To Be You, Halloweed, In A Valley Of Violence, Tabloid Vivant and short Pigskin below!
MICHAEL MOORE IN TRUMPLAND
(Dog Eat Dog Films/IMG Films)
Giving his humble take on the current Presidential election, Michael Moore takes to the stage for a one-man show in an attempt to both enlighten and entertain both sides. The results are mixed with some factual stuff that plays as neither funny nor interesting. But when Moore gets personal with the subject matter is when things go up a notch including recounting a meeting with the Clinton’s after his book Downsize This! proclaiming his love for Hilary came out and playing footage of an early Trump talking nice about Hilary Clinton during Moore’s The Awful Truth days. But even in his dissection of both candidates – with Hilary being his obvious favorite – what’s most telling is that Moore still understands and has a beat on the average unarmed and disenchanted American though his solution is interesting to say the least. Vote for Hilary – but you don’t have to like her.
IT HAD TO BE YOU
(Samuel Goldwyn Films)
A mildly entertaining tale of a gal who panics when she learns her boyfriend is about to propose marriage and ponders the consequences of both outcomes is given an extra dose of comical character energy in the form of neurotic leading lady Cristin Milioti. Meaning we’re willing to forgive barrage of familiar romantic comedy tropes like impromptu doomed flights of fancy (she goes to Rome to find herself!), overly helpful friends and big grand gesture endings all because of the relatable, quirky and engaging work by Milioti as a confused gal with a big heart. Why does it work – it had to be her.
(Screen Media Films)
As a movie, Halloweed is an embarrassment, an abomination and a truly tasteless piece of film fluff – and I kinda dug it. Not that the weed heavy antics of two dim bulbs Trent (trying to distance himself from wacko serial killer father Tom Sizemore who is perfectly cast here!) and Joey (a comical and somewhat repressed gay man who is already half way out of the closet!) trying to track down a murderer in a small town are original in any way, but there’s such an ‘everything and the kitchen sink approach’ to the humor here that belly laughs are inevitable. Not to mention the filmmakers also add Jay Mewes (as – what else – a spirited drug dealer!), a one-eyed Danny Trejo (name – Patch!) and even the wry Ray Wise to firmly squeeze every possible piece of buffoonery out of this puppy. (There’s even some fetching female feistiness via standout Michelle Mueller!) Watching Halloweed is like getting a bag of hemp from someone you don’t completely trust – it’s certainly suspect, but in the end it will get you high.
IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE
While the work of Ti West is never without originality and style, it doesn’t always make for a five-star flick. Such is the fate of the genre ambitious western In A Valley Of Violence that takes an old school western story, adds two parts violence, on part horror and a pinch of character comedy (the last two firm West staples!) for a mix that feels like an experiment gone wrong. Even his characters, with the exception of Burn Gorman’s packing priest, all feel slightly out of sync – emotionless one minute, cranking jokes another. It’s a hard film to critique, as anyone who tries to infuse new life into tired territory certainly deserves a tip of the hat, but the uneven terrain of Valley makes for a rocky ride on the range.
(Indie Rights Movies)
More a piece of expressionist movie art than an actually narrative flick, Tabloid Vivant is nevertheless an exercise in film futility. Void of any real engaging story (a artist and art critic get wrapped up in painting the ultimate picture?), defying genre or tone (this one starts as a slice and dice horror flick then veers into Lars von Trier territory – minus the brilliance!) and headed by two annoying characters (Crispin Glover wannabe Jesse Woodrow and Jaime Murray double Tamzin Brown) that you couldn’t care less about, Tabloid Vivant is an dull and dim outing that almost dares the audience to stay seated. I get that filmmaker Kyle Broom may be trying to create a dialogue about art vs. commerce or the dangers of singular obsession, but making an unwatchable film brings any and all subsequent insight to a screeching cinematic halt – conversation over.
(FSU College of Motion Picture Arts)
Pigskin is a wonderful throwback to 80’s horror tone with a more progressive modern storyline. The film has all the tasty tropes of the hair era – rocking music, movie montage moments and even 80s title font. But the film itself deals with a thin gal (the insane inspired Isadora Leiva!) overly obsessed with her small stomach rolls to the point of conjuring up creatures and self mutilation and it’s a wonderful allegory on teen female body image. Though like all great shorts there’s only one complaint – it’s too damn short. (More please!)