Movie Review: Blood River

IMDB, Blood River“Blood River” on IMDB

Horror/Thriller, 104 Minutes, 2009

This is one of those frustrating films that gets almost everything almost right. It has an interesting premise and a decent execution, but enough flaws to drag it down.

Summer (Tess Panzer [IMDB]) is pregnant and Clark (Ian Duncan [IMDB]) is driving her through the desert to see her parents before the baby arrives. They spend a night at a dive motel, drive off, crash their car and end up walking into a ghost town. While deciding how to proceed a stranger walks into town.

The stranger, Joseph (Andrew Howard [IMDB]), is enigmatic and clearly a religious zealot. He also seems to be the only one that has any clue how to get everybody out of the situation that they’ve found themselves in. He ingratiates himself with Summer while simultaneously antagonizing Clark.

Joseph styles himself an avenging angel, or (no spoilers either way) is he actually an avenging angel? The character is confused by some odd script choices, but Howard’s performance is excellent; especially given the material he has to work with. Unfortunately Summer and Clark are both cardboard cutouts. He’s brash, loud and macho and she’s shrill, loud and weepy. Although you are clearly meant to feel empathy for one or both of them, you likely won’t be able to summon enough to matter.

It’s difficult to discuss the meat of the story without spoiling every bit of it. Suffice to say, the couple’s vacation does not end as intended. The movie smartly plays the truth close to the chest, but perhaps a little too close. The audience is given enough material to come to multiple conclusions, but not truly enough to feel comfortable with any of them.

That’s the rub: if you do this well, the audience will argue rabidly among themselves supporting their conclusion. If you don’t do it well (and it’s very difficult to do well), they’ll just be confused. A directed focus on a strong, single interpretation likely would have been much more successful.

The movie is well put-together and well worth a look for genre fans. It’s solid, full of interesting themes and one great performance. It also stuffs just a little too much into the narrative and this unfortunately drags it down squarely into “average” terror-tory (see! see what I did?!)

Movie Review: Hit Team

IMDB, Hit Team“Hit Team” on IMDB

Action/Comedy, 96 Minutes, 2014

[Disclosure: This was screened at the request of the filmmakers. No additional considerations were made.]

This low-budget comedy, currently available for rent or purchase at FilmCanal.com, follows two bumbling hit men, Max (Myles McLane [IMDB]) and Ruthie (Emerald Robinson [IMDB]). They’ve been sent to L.A. to take out a half-dozen targets in a day-long murder spree.

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Movie Review: The Book of Life

IMDB, The Book of Life“The Book of Life” on IMDB

Family, 95 Minutes, 2014

Never (yet) having been Hispanic I must admit that my understanding of Día de Muertos (“Day of the Dead”) relies mostly on faded memories of “Grim Fandango”. That said I’ve always had a firm impression that it would be right up my alley. Skeletons, food, cemeteries, food, family, food – that’s the kind of thing that I could really get behind.

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Movie Review: Big Hero 6

IMDB, Big Hero 6“Big Hero 6″ on IMDB

Family/Adventure, 102 Minutes, 2014

This was a good movie. A fun movie. No complaints really. Solid, if clichéd, characters, cool visuals and some weepy-eyed moments. Heck, Disney went all out on this by (sorta) orphaning this hero twice! Everybody knows that a Disney hero isn’t worth shit unless they’ve got at least a few dead family members (yes, Merida, Bob Iger’s going to get your parent’s Scottish asses any minute now).

Still… was it really all that?

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Movie Review: Wolf Children

IMDB, Wolf Children“Wolf Children” on IMDB

Drama/Family, 117 Minutes, 2012

I’ve unfortunately lost track of anime in the last few years. I’d keep up with the latest releases from Studio Ghibli and the odd TV show, but overall I just didn’t maintain my interest as I once had. Dipping my toe back in, I looked for recommendations and this kept getting mentioned.

I’m so glad it was.

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Movie Review: Love & Teleportation

IMDB, Love Teleportation“Love & Teleportation” on IMDB

Romance/Sci-Fi, 92 Minutes, 2013

[Disclosure: This was screened at the request of the filmmakers. No other considerations were made.]

Why hello there sir, a moment of your time – a mere moment! Now sir, what if I told you that there’s a no budget movie – yes, no budget at all – that’s actually good? Even really good? Yes sir, you’d call me crazy!

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Bodybuilders Remind Me of DP_DateExtensions

As none of you remember, I released a huge update to my venerable (8 years-old now!) JavaScript date extensions DP_DateExtensions a couple of years ago. The rewrite was prompted by a bug, but sent my brain down a rabbit hole: just how do you calculate the difference between two dates?

You can read about the whole sordid mess, but it turns out that’s a surprisingly complex question. In the end, the new component ended up with no less than three distinct options for calculating the difference between two time periods.

Anyway, this leads me to a bizarre conversation that was detailed by Joe Veix on Death And Taxes: “Two body builders argue on the internet about how many days are in the week“. The whole exchange is hilarious and is well worth spending some time with.

Still, it did remind me uncomfortably of the week where I nearly went insane trying to figure out how to minus one date from another date. Rabbit holes can be dangerous.

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