December 10, 2018

CALL OF THE UNDEAD: Should You Really Answer?
Starring Morris Jung, Yvonne Yao, Sona Eyambe, Josh Wilson, Jack Kao Tai-Bo, Yukiya Oonishi. Directed by Jow Chen. (2017/88 min). 


Starring Josey, the Sudden CatšŸ˜¼

Geez, where do I start?

In the Chinese zombie film, Call of the Undead, a virus begins infecting people in a crime-ridden section of a large city. It's an undiscriminating germ, attacking gangsters and cops alike, who are forced to band together to fight a growing horde of zombies. That's pretty much the entire plot, which we get in the first fifteen minutes. The rest is a slapdash mishmash of poor acting, dumb writing, hyperactive editing, a deafening metal soundtrack, gratuitous nudity and unimpressive zombie mayhem.

Characterization? Well, there's your token American (repeatedly referred to as the Foreigner), a zombie rapist, a female SWAT cop dolled-up like Lara Croft and a repulsive, rotund druglord who gropes his drug-addled strippers (when they aren't busy making out with each other). Everyone else is either a talking head, cannon fodder or sweaty, skimpy sexpot.

"Hey, stop it! We're serious!"
Nearly every aesthetic attempt at intensity, horror or sexiness is such an overused clichƩ that much of this is unintentionally humorous, compounded by the overly serious tone. But the piƩce de rƩsistance for bad movie lovers is the atrocious dubbing. Despite scenes of terror or anger displayed by the actual cast, the actors dubbing them are either completely monotone or sound like they're voicing cartoon characters. And they sound more like they're in your living room than part of the movie. Worst (or best) of all, this is the only audio track available on the disc.

But as inept and stupid as it is, the film doesn't appear to be a bargain basement production (though it still looks pretty cheap). Somebody obviously put a few bucks behind this. Unfortunately for them, all they got back from their investment is a hilarious dumpster fire. In that respect, Call of the Undead might be wonderfully endearing for some viewers.


THE POOP SCOOP (12/10): Noteworthy January Blu-ray Releases
SUSPIRIA on Digital 1/15 and Blu-ray 1/29
Experience Luca Gudagnino’s outrageously twisted re-imagining of Dario Argento’s 1977 horror cult classic that has been called a “grim and glorious work of madness” (IndieWire, David Ehrlich) when Suspiria arrives on Digital January 15 and on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital) January 29 from Lionsgate. Starring Dakota Johnson, Oscar winner and Golden Globe nominee Tilda Swinton (2007, Michael Clayton, *Best Supporting Actress; 2012, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama), Mia Goth, and ChloĆ« Grace Moretz and featuring a mesmerizing haunting score by Thom Yorke, Guadagnino’s directorial follow-up to the Oscar-winning Call Me by Your Name (Best Adapted Screenplay, 2017), written for the screen by David Kajganich, has received incredible critical praise with Variety’s Owen Gleiberman calling it a “lavishly cerebral high-end horror film” and a “divinely demonic spectacle of womanly power.”
FIRST MAN on Digital 1/8 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD 1/22
Follow the gripping and captivating true story of the first manned mission to the moon in FIRST MAN, arriving on Digital and via the digital movie app MOVIES ANYWHERE on January 8, 2019 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand on January 22, 2019 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Hailed by critics as “the best movie of the year” (Collider) and “exhilarating” (Entertainment Weekly), FIRST MAN comes from acclaimed Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash) and stars Ryan Gosling (La La Land, The Big Short) as Neil Armstrong and Claire Foy (“The Crown,” Breathe) as Janet Armstrong in the heroic and emotionally driven journey through a pivotal moment in the history of mankind. Receiving two Golden Globe® nominations for Best Supporting Actress (Foy) and Best Original Score (Justin Hurwitz), the critically acclaimed film is packed with bonus features including deleted scenes and special featurettes showing behind-the-scenes looks at creating the film.

THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN on Digital 1/1 and Blu-ray & DVD 1/15
Academy Award Winners Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek will steal your heart in this Charming comedy about the mostly true story of Forrest Tucker (Redford) – from his daring prison escape at age 70 to an unprecedented string of bank heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public. Wrapped up in the pursuit are detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck), who is captivated by Forrest’s commitment to his craft, and Jewel (Spacek), the woman loves him despite his criminal ways.

December 9, 2018

[CARGO] (2018) is in a Different Bracket
Starring Ron Thompson, Voices of Jose Rosete, Matthew Rosvally, Corbin Timbrook, Mark Wood, Danika Fields. Directed by James Dylan. (2018/80 min).


Review by Tiger the TerriblešŸ˜¼

I'm not sure what the brackets around the title are supposed to signify. Perhaps it's to simply distinguish this film from dozens of others called Cargo in iMDB's database. Including brackets in your search does put it at the top of the list.

In this one, Anthony Peterson (Ron Thompson) is a wealthy, unscrupulous man who wakes up in a cargo container with nothing but a cell phone. His mysterious kidnappers call to inform him they also have his wife. If Ron doesn't transfer $10 million dollars to them within 24 hours, they'll rape & kill her and leave him to die in the container. With no idea where he is or who abducted him, Ron scrambles to gather the ransom money, relying on his assistant, Evan, to sell-off assets. This is easier said than done. Not only because he's already borrowed on most of his properties, but Evan is a drug addict whose dangerous lifestyle make him less than unreliable (or trustworthy).

" your refrigerator running?"
Taking place entirely inside within the confines of the container, [Cargo] strives for the same vibe as other single-setting films, like Locke, Buried or the under-appreciated Devil. And sometimes it succeeds. The basic premise is sound and writer-director James Dylan manages to keep it visually small feat considering the limited cinematic possibilities inherent in a metal cargo container.

On the other hand, some ridiculous story elements and questionable sound effects - most of the action occurs over the phone - tend to mute the intensity. In fact, Evan's adventures eluding the police are so goofy that we suspect the whole thing is supposed be a black comedy, exacerbated by a grating, bile-spewing performance by Thompson. And since Ron is a self-serving, cold-blooded bastard  right from the get-go, we never care whether he lives or dies.

Still, [Cargo] is mostly watchable, with an effectively ambiguous conclusion. Ultimately, we don't buy any of it - especially Ron's sudden epiphany late in the story - but for a low budget suspense film with one claustrophobic setting and a despicable lout as its sole character, it's a credit to all involved that we feel compelled to see it through.

And who knows? Maybe one of you can tell me what the brackets in the title are supposed to mean.


December 6, 2018

MANIAC (1980) 3-Disc Limited Edition: Say it Ain't So, Joe!
Starring Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Gail Lawrence, Kelly Piper, Rita Montone, Tom Savini, Sharon Mitchell, Hyla Marrow. Directed by William Lustig. (1980/88 min). 


Review by Josey, the Sudden CatšŸ™€

When I was a teenager, I made the mistake of taking a date to see Maniac.

I didn't know anything about it, but this was at the height of the slasher movie craze and they were perfect date-night fodder. Stuff like Friday the 13th and My Bloody Valentine didn't exactly challenge the intellect, but were always good for a few shits & giggles. Best of all, it seemed like a new one popped up at our local tri-plex every other week. By their simplistic nature and teen appeal, slasher movies were a great ice breaker on first dates.

That first date turned out to be our only one. I'm not necessarily blaming the movie, though it certainly didn't help. We didn't laugh, didn't scream, didn't participate by shouting-out at stupid characters. When the movie was over, my date simply wanted to go home and barely spoke in the car. She didn't even kiss me goodnight...a fitting capper to a depressing evening.

Perhaps she wasn't enamored with my sparkling personality to begin with, but I learned the hard way that Maniac is not a good-time slasher movie, certainly not a date movie. In fact, the first 50 minutes - where we follow Frank Zito (Joe Spinell) throughout the grimy streets of New York as he stalks, slaughters and scalps various female victims - is uncomfortably voyeuristic.

The film has since become legendary in cult circles, not just because of its gruesome violence (courtesy of Tom Savini, who outdoes himself here), but the outcry from various film critics and organizations regularly citing Maniac as being representative of everything wrong with modern horror at the time, its depiction of violence towards women, in particular. Public ire was also fueled by one of the more tasteless ad campaigns in recent memory.

Does Maniac deserve its notorious reputation? Well, yes and no.

The most disturbing part of Maniac? That leisure suit.
Revisiting the film on Blu-ray for the first time since it ended that first date earlier than expected, I still found Maniac to be an unnerving experience. But in retrospect, it isn't the violence that continues to make it a challenge to endure. Not merely content to present death sequences from the killer's POV, Maniac forces us into the mind of its titular character. We constantly know what he's thinking, hear his perverse heavy breathing, view the world through his eyes and are distressingly aware of what arouses him to kill. By being dropped head-first into his sordid life, the audience becomes a vicarious accomplice to his acts.

Despite an obvious low budget - or perhaps because of it - Maniac manages to get under your skin. While not particularly scary and even suspenseful, due to the the film's bleak tone and nihilism, aided by the guerrilla style depiction of its drab locations, the singular emotion we consistently feel is dread. Then there's Spinell, who's uncomfortably convincing. Say what you will about the narrative or raw aesthetic of the film, it's really a remarkable performance.

Considering all these elements, Maniac might have done its job a little too well. Not-so-much a slasher film than a demented character study, Frank Zito is a horrifying character because he isn't a masked cartoon like Jason or Michael Myers. He feels...well, real...and we spend 90 grueling minutes inside his head. There's no escaping him until the end credits roll.

Frank regrets that last cup of coffee.
Is the film as misogynist as its detractors claim? I'd have to say no. Granted, most of Zito's victims are women and they die horribly, but these are clearly the actions of a diseased mind whose hatred for his dead, abusive mother triggers a compulsion he's unable to control...much like Norman Bates. I'm not suggesting Maniac deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Psycho. It's still an exploitation film made with profit in-mind. But unlike the Friday the 13th franchise, death isn't presented as a consequence for sexuality. Zito's victims are punished for reminding him of his mother...or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And considering the number of real-life porn stars in supporting roles, it's rather telling that the film has almost no sex or nudity.

Even if all of the graphic violence was removed, Maniac would still be a harrowing experience, and it's for those reasons that the film remains memorable, whether we like it or not. Now a quintessential cult classic, Maniac has lost little of its power to horrify. It's only fitting that the film gets this massive 3-disc Blu-ray restoration from Blue Underground (which Maniac director William Lustig runs, by the way). The film looks and sounds great, maybe even better than the theatrical print I first saw back in the day. Best yet, there's a ton of wonderfully entertaining bonus features - both new and archival - covering all aspects of the film, from its production to its cultural impact. Appropriately, many of the extras pay due respect to the late Joe Spinell, who also wrote and co-produced Maniac, which ended up being the pinnacle of his career. Unlike the tone of the film, the bonus features are fun, light-hearted and, of course, very informative. With a CD of the melancholy soundtrack thrown in, this comprehensive release is a must-own for any fan.

As for the'll either love or hate it, but you sure won't forget it. Just don't make it a date night movie.

NEW: FEATURETTE - "Returning to the Scene of the Crime" (Director William Lustig revisits some of the film's New York locations).
NEW: COLLECTIBLE BOOKLET - Features a great new essay by Michael Gingold, CD Track listing and production credits.
FEATURETTES - "Anna and the Killer" (Interview with Caroline Munro); "The Death Dealer (Interview with make-up Tom Savini, who needs no introduction); "Dark Notes" (Interview with composer Jay Chattaway); "Maniac Men" (William Lustig interviews the guys who composed the Flashdance song, 'Maniac,' dispelling the rumor it was originally written for this film).
"THE JOE SPINELL STORY" - A revealing and heartfelt look at Spinell's life and career, featuring dozens of interviews with colleagues and friends who knew him well.
"MR. ROBBIE: MANIAC 2" - Promo reel for an unproduced sequel.
MANIAC PUBLICITY - A gallery of quotes from scathing reviews by various film critics, along with a letter detailing why the movie would be banned in one particular country.
MANIAC CONTROVERSY - A huge collection of contemporary news stories and segments about protests and outcries from various organizations over the film's violence, misogyny and lurid ad campaign.
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Director William Lustig & Producer Andrew W. Garroni.
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Lustig, Editor Lorenzo Marinelli, make-up artist/actor Tom Savini & Luke Walter (Joe Spinell's assistant).

December 4, 2018

Rest in Peace, Geoff Murphy

December 3, 2018

What's the ATTRACTION? Irina Starshenbaum, Alexander Petrov, Rinal Mukhametov, Oleg Menshikov, Nikita Kukushkin, Evgeniy Mikeev, Aleksey Maslodudov. Directed by Fyodor Bondarchuk. (2017/133 min).


Review by Stinky the DestroyeršŸ˜¾

What's the attraction? For one thing, the film starts off with the mother of all crash landings. A benevolent alien spceship, which sort-of resembles a massive Pokeball, gets damaged during a meteor shower and enters Earth's atmosphere. Honoring the time-honored sci-fi tradition of shooting first and asking questions later, the Russian military shoots it down. This results in a long, gloriously-destructive sequence in which the ship plows through the heart of Moscow, flattening buildings and killing hundreds.

This is, by far, the best scene in the entire film. The remainder of Russia's Attraction, while visually impressive, is a bit anti-climactic, not-to-mention derivative of such American classics as The Day the Earth Stood Still and Starman. A group of teenagers, angered by the death of one of their classmates during the crash, want revenge and are determined to take their neighborhood back (no, seriously). Yulia (Irina Starshenbaum) initially leads the revolt with the help of her hunky boyfriend, Artyom (Alexander Petrov) and his buddies. However, after an even hunkier alien, Hekon (Rinal Mukhametov), saves her life, she decides to help him return to his ship, made more difficult by her estranged father (Oleg Menshikov), who also happens to command of the troops that shot it down in the first place.

"Do I really gotta catch 'em all?"
Attraction is fast moving and watchable enough, with decent performances, good action scenes, impressive production design and spots of humor (both intentional and unintentional). The familiar story, however, is hampered by some terrible writing and needlessly stupid characters. Artyom, for example, turns on-a-dime from helpful hunk to revenge-fueled psychopath, instantly able to jump into bio-mechanical body armor to wage war on the aliens, with the help of a few hundred angry neighbors armed with clubs (Yep...that's how you get rid of beings who've mastered interstellar travel). Speaking of aliens, of course Hekon is young and handsome, complete with prerequisite five o'clock shadow and douchebag hair. How else can Yulia fall hopelessly in love with a guy from another world?

Though the CG-heavy climax descends further into utter predictability than we'd like - Attraction is kind-of fun (even if some of that fun comes at its own expense). We've seen it all before in better movies, but it's nice to see what another country can do with a familiar concept. And if nothing else, the Pokeball crash alone might be worth the price of admission.

3 PROMOTIONAL FEATURETTES - "Young Actors"; "Superstars"; "Promo Reel"

THE POOP SCOOP (12/3) - Noteworthy Upcoming Blu-ray Releases
VENOM Debuts on Digital 12/11 and 4K, Blu-ray & DVD 12/18
The perfect holiday gift, VENOM arrives filled with engaging bonus materials that will give fans even more of the action that they loved in theaters with over an hour of new content. The special features include an exciting Venom Mode, where fans will be able to engage with informative pop-ups throughout the film to reveal hidden references to the comics, deleted and extended scenes, a mini documentary called From Symbiote to Screen that covers the history of Venom in comics and his journey to the big screen. Also a behind-the-scenes peek at some of the stunts, a look at Ruben Fleischer’s journey behind the lens, a featurette about what it took to create Venom on screen called Designing Venom. Symbiote Secrets reveals Easter Eggs and hidden references in the film Other bonus materiales include multiple pre-visualizaton versions of some of your favorite scenes, Eminem’s incredible video for his hit song “Venom,” “Sunflower” from Post Malone and Swae-Lee (from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), and an early sneak peek at Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Goosebumps 2 Comes to Digital 12/25 and Blu-ray & DVD 1/15
The GOOSEBUMPS 2 Blu-ray, DVD and Digital bonus features include a gag reel full of hilarious hijinks, three all-new deleted scenes and five featurettes. Between the chills, thrills and goosebumps, watch the cast get a case of the giggles in the “Gag Reel.” Dive deep in “Thrills & Chills- The Making of Goosebumps 2” with Madison Iseman, along with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew. “Meet the Monsters” gives fans a sneak peek of how the scary creatures were brought to life. In “Slappy’s Audition,” watch what happens when Slappy auditions for the role he was born to play. In “Science with Slappy,” enter the Slapatory where Madison, Jeremy and Caleel join Slappy for some electrifying experiments! And get ready to sing along with three hilarious “Slappy-oke” songs.  Who knew dummies could sing?
THE HATE U GIVE on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD January 22
Starr Carter is constantly switching between two worlds: the poor, mostly black, neighborhood where she lives and the rich, mostly white, prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer.  Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what's right. THE HATE U GIVE is based on the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller by Angie Thomas and stars Amandla Stenberg as Starr, with Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Issa Rae, KJ Apa, Algee Smith, Sabrina Carpenter, Common and Anthony Mackie.

December 2, 2018

GOSFORD PARK: A Maverick Mystery
Starring Eileen Atkins, Bob Balaban, Alan Bates, Charles Dance, Stephen Fry, Michael Gambon, Richard E. Grant, Derek Jacobi, Kelly MacDonald, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Northam, Clive Owen, Ryan Phillippe, Maggie, Smith, Kristen Scott Thomas, Emily Watson. Directed by Robert Altman. (2001/131 min). 


Review by Fluffy the FearlessšŸ˜ø

To say Robert Altman is an acquired taste isn't really accurate. He's always been a bit of a maverick (to coin an overused label), but his career was so eclectic, polarizing and wildly inconsistent that you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who professes a universal love for all of his work.

That being said, Gosford Park, if not the best of Altman's late-career films, is certainly one of his most enjoyable. Yet another ensemble piece, this is both a whodunit in the grand tradition of Agatha Christie and an examination of the upper vs. lower class system in Britain at the time the story takes place (between wars during the 1930s).

"Oh, that Ziggy...he always makes me laugh."
Wealthy, lecherous patriarch William McCordle (Michael Gambon) and his snobbish wife, Sylvia (Kristin Scott Thomas), host a weekend get-together at their country mansion. Most of the guests are relatives, though screen idol Ivor Novello (Jeremy Northam) has also invited American movie producer Morris Weissman (Bob Balaban). Many of these characters are decidedly unpleasant folks who don't have a lot of love for McCordle, though some greatly depend on him. Concurrently, we also meet the underlings who make a living serving these folks, as seen through the eyes of inexperienced housemaid Elsie (Emily Watson). Interestingly, there's a hierarchy among the staff that's nearly as rigid and pretentious as the people they serve upstairs.

Altman and screenwriter Julian Fellowes spend the first hour masterfully establishing each player, so when McCordle is stabbed in his study by an unseen assailant, we can think of several characters who'd benefit from his death. Since all we see are the killer's shoes, we initially suspect it's one of the men. But in an ingenious complication, it's revealed that the actual cause of death was poisoning. Now everybody is a suspect and none of them, Sylvia included, seem too upset McCordle is dead. And we certainly can't depend on Inspector Thompson (Stephen Fry) to solve the case. He's a bumbling fool who amusingly appears to be more concerned with keeping his smarter constable in-check than trying to catch a killer.

"Dude, I am sooo wasted."
Watching the story unfold - including some remarkable character revelations - reminded me how long it's been since I'd seen a good old fashioned English whodunit. While consistently unpredictable, the film can be slow-going at times, but compensates for the more meandering moments with elegant production design and striking cinematography.

Initially, one might not think someone like Robert Altman would be the right guy to helm a movie like this (which he conceived with actor Bob Balaban). Then again, he was always best when directing ensemble casts, skillfully juggling numerous major characters at once. And despite the relatively traditional story - for him, anyway - Altman still manages to spread some thematic layers in there, just in case he's accused of trying to make straight genre film.

Most importantly, though, Gosford Park is fun. Narratively intriguing and aesthetically gorgeous, this was Robert Altman's last good movie before his death and certainly one of the most accessible of his entire career. It's been given a nice 4K restoration by Arrow Films for Blu-ray, which also includes some new and archival bonus features. Ultimately, this is a good pick-up for both fans of the director and those who simply enjoy an intriguing mystery.

NEW: INTERVIEWS - One with Natasha Wightman (who plays Lavina Meredith), the other with executive producer Jane Barclay.
NEW: AUDIO COMMENTARY - By films critics Geoff Andrew and David Thompson.
NEW: SUPPLEMENTARY BOOKLET - Includes a new essay by critic Sheila O'Malley, interview excerpt from the 2006 book, Altman on Altman, production notes.
NEW: REVERSABLE COVER ART - We prefer to new artwork.
ARCHIVAL FEATURETTES - "The Making of Gosford Park"; "Keeping Gosford Park Authentic"
Q&A SESSION - With Altman, screenwriter Julian Fellowes and several cast members.
AUDIO COMMENTARIES - By Altman, production designer Stephen Altman & producer David Levy, and another by screenwriter Julian Fellowes.

December 1, 2018

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT: Another Case of Tomsanity
Starring Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby, Alec Baldwin, Michelle Monaghan, Wes Bentley. Directed by Christopher McQuarrie. (2018/147 min). 


Review by Tiger the TerriblešŸ˜ø

I spotted a true lunatic while driving home from work the other day. Like countless other egocentric morons with an inflated sense of entitlement, he was in the lane next to me, texting as he sped along at 40 miles an hour. The difference was this guy was behind the wheel of a Smart car.

All it would take is one wild turn to end up getting swallowed by an SUV. It could be weeks before anyone found a single trace of him and the glorified go-kart he chose for a coffin. Man, that's not only crazy...that's utter Tomsanity.

Like Lou Gehrig's Disease 'Tomsanity' is named after the man who's most prominently afflicted, Mr. Tom Cruise. It's a condition where one deliberately risks their life to accomplish a task, even though a perfectly safe alternative would achieve the same results and no one would know the difference. If Mr. Important behind the wheel of that Smart car regularly engages in such douchebaggery while driving - and you just know he does - wouldn't a big-ass Dodge Ram have been a wiser investment? The recipient of his call wouldn't appreciate it any less.

"You chose to accept this mission, Ethan. You unclog it."
One key difference between Tom Cruise and that Smart car simpleton is Tom at-least trains for his stunts beforehand with a crew of hundreds to assist him. But even with tethers and wires to assure my safety, no way in hell would I ever attempt to jump from one rooftop to another as Cruise does in Mission: Impossible - Fallout (and he still broke his ankle).

Unlike that self-absorbed motorist, Tom isn't putting anyone but himself in harm's way, and it ain't for personal gratification. When he makes that 25,000 foot HALO drop early in the film, he's doing it for us. They could have easily used a professional jumper and simply CG'ed Tom's toothy grin into the frame, but the fact we know it's him is part of what has always made the entire Mission: Impossible franchise special. Say what you will about him personally, one thing Tom Cruise can never be accused of is phoning-it-in.

Tom requires fresh underwear after each scene.
Maybe that's a chief reason this is the only franchise that seems to improve with each entry. True-to-form, Mission: Impossible - Fallout is the best one to date and absolutely loaded with Tomsanity. Previous films were already notable for the lengths Cruise went for the sake of an action sequence, so I'm assuming Tomsanity must also be a progressive disorder because there are a half-dozen jaw-dropping action sequences where Tom's letting it all hang out for our enjoyment. To truly appreciate that, check out this disc's hour-long behind-the-scenes documentary right afterwards.

But Fallout isn't just a stunt showcase. The intricate, twist-laden story keeps us guessing, whisks us to various intriguing locations and introduces a few nifty new characters along with some old friends (even Henry Cavill is interesting in this one). The film doesn't forget its past, either. In fact, Fallout is the first in the franchise that might be considered a direct sequel. It features the same primary antagonist, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) as Rogue Nation, while Ethan Hunt's estranged wife, Julia (Michelle Monaghan), figures prominently in the story. As such, the film does sometimes assume the audience is up-to-speed.

Still, it's mainly the Tom Cruise Show, which is just fine because, even after six films, there's never a moment where we suspect he's going through the motions. I don't know how long he can keep this up, but here's hoping he can crank out at least one or two more without killing himself. Maybe he can even squeeze-in the mother of all Tomsanity stunts: a chase where he's driving a Smart car while texting. As it stands, though, Mission: Impossible - Fallout is currently the franchise's high-point and the best action film of the year.

"BEHIND THE FALLOUT" - An hour long, 8-part behind the scenes feature that mostly focuses on Tom's crazy stunt work.
FEATURETTES - "Foot Chase Musical Breakdown" (with composer Lorne Balfe); "The Ultimate Mission" (promotional video; sort-of a condensed version of "Behind the Fallout")

November 30, 2018

Featuring Jonathan Baker, John Badham, Jodie Foster, Taylor Hackford, Adrian Lyne. Faye Dunaway. Directed by Neal Thilbedeau. (2018/85 min). 


Review by Fluffy the FearlessšŸ˜¼

One will understandably view the subject of Becoming Iconic - Jonathan Baker with a bit of skepticism. He'd been kicking around Hollywood for a few years, mostly performing on reality TV shows, before being given the opportunity to direct his first feature, Inconceivable, which was released in 2017 to little fanfare.

Baker also co-produced this documentary about himself, which optimistically suggests he's a legend in the making. Aligning what he's doing with directors who've had decades-long careers, Becoming Iconic chronicles his efforts to get Inconceivable made, with plenty of behind-the-scenes footage, along with Baker's own insights on the filmmaking process and his efforts to make-good on the opportunity.

In addition to directing, producing and performing, Jonathan Baker was apparently the film's hairstylist.
Interspersed throughout are separate interviews with the likes of Jodie Foster, John Badham, Adrian Lyne and Taylor Hackford (despite being predominantly billed, Warren Beatty doesn't really figure into this). It is suggested that Baker is chummy with these folks, but none of them mention him at all and their own directorial anecdotes are the best part of the film.

Which is not to say the rest isn't without merits. Baker sometimes comes across as pretentious and arrogant, but his sincerity can't be disputed and the enthusiasm he displays on-set is sometimes infectious. Despite playing more like a reality show than an true documentary, watching Baker work behind the scenes with his cast & crew (which includes Nicholas Cage and Faye Dunaway) is pretty interesting.

I never saw Inconceivable (hardly anyone else did, either), so I couldn't tell you if Jonathan Baker is the budding wunderkind the film paints him as. The final shot of stills placing him among the icons he emulates may or may not be hopelessly optimistic, but hey, you never know.