Daily Archives: February 3, 2014

Penthouse North (aka Blindsided)

.         Penthouse1  Penthouse2

 

Michelle Monaghan plays a blind woman who is terrorized in her New York City apartment by criminals looking for illegal goods.  If that sounds familiar, you might have seen Wait Until Dark, in which Audrey Hepburn plays a blind woman who is terrorized in her New York City apartment by criminals looking for illegal goods.  No good reason to check out this version, although Michael Keaton is cheekily entertaining as one of the bad guys.  Release:  2013  Grade:  C

 

*****

 

Jug Face

.      Jug1  Jug2

 

Jug Face opens with two hot young people having sex.  Soon thereafter, we learn that these two are brother and sister.  That’s different, I thought.  We then discover that the horny siblings are members of a backwoods clan who worship something called “the pit.”  That’s different, I thought again.  Jug Face strayed just far enough from run-of-the-mill horror that I was intrigued — until cheap special effects and a threadbare plot betrayed its low-budget origins.  (Bonus trivia:  This movie answers the question, “Whatever happened to Sean Young?”)  Release:  2013  Grade:  C

 

*****

 

Chop

 .     Chop1  Chop2

 

Lance is a former drug addict trying to get his act together.  Problem is, he’s offended someone, and that someone has a bone to pick with Lance — quite literally, as it turns out, and Lance’s life soon becomes a nightmare of blackmail, torture, and missing fingers.  For awhile, when Lance is toyed with by a stranger who refuses to tell him what he’s done wrong, Chop is delicious black comedy, and actors Will Keenan and Timothy Muskatell are amusing duelists.  But then director Trent Haaga decides to cater to the gore-lovers in our midst, and the film devolves into a live-action Itchy & Scratchy ShowRelease:  2011  Grade:  C+

 

*****

 

House of Tolerance

.     Tolerance1  Tolerance2

 

A visual feast — and not just because of the female flesh on display.  The bordello sets, art direction, and leisurely pace capture a bygone world (1899-1900) that’s both seductive and soulless, as director Bertrand Bonello concentrates on the cloistered, dead-end lives of a dozen high-class Parisian prostitutes and their indentured servitude to wealthy clients.  The photography is gorgeous and the actors are top-notch, but the movie itself, like transactions in a fancy brothel, is a bit cold.  Release:  2011  Grade:  B+

 

*****

 

Cottage Country

.      Country1  Country2

 

Must be tough living next door to the country that is home to Hollywood, the world’s premiere manufacturer of motion pictures.  That might give the film industry in your own country an inferiority complex.  I don’t know how else to explain Canada, which cranks out the most peculiar movies.  Cottage Country is a black comedy — in theory — about an engaged couple caught up in grisly murders at a rustic lakeside retreat, but its mix of yuks and yuck is a herky-jerky mess.  Release:  2013  Grade:  C-

 

*****

 

Sister

.     Sister1  Sister2

 

Sister is one of those slice-of-life dramas that rise or fall depending on how much emotion you invest in the main characters.  In this case, we watch as a family of two — 12-year-old Simon and twentysomething Louise — struggle to get by in the shadow of a posh Swiss mountain resort, Simon by stealing from rich guests and Louise by, well, not much.  I cared about the two of them, a bit, but not enough to compensate for the film’s slow stretches and a fairly predictable plot.  Release:  2012  Grade:  B- 

 

*****

 

Deep Water

.       Deep1  Deep2

 

In 1968, while competing in a sailing race around the globe, a mild-mannered businessman named Donald Crowhurst encountered problems with his boat.  Buckling to intense personal and professional pressures, and with no hope of winning the race, for a time Crowhurst managed to excite a breathless British press (and the world) by posting false progress reports.  Today, Crowhurst is a historical footnote, but this documentary about an English everyman who bit off more than he could chew, with tragic results, is both sad and thought-provoking.  Release:   2006  Grade:  B+

 

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