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Winter Passing (Blu-ray)
The cover art for Winter Passing suggests a certain indie-dramedy whimsy that's nowhere to be found for a good, long while. In the early moments of the film, Reese (Zooey Deschanel) deliberately slams her hand in a drawer just so she can feel something, leaving her badly bruised. She snorts a line of coke and fucks a guy in a dive bar bathroom...and, well, repeatedly uses sex as a distraction, devoid of any emotion or attachment whatsoever. After learning that her kitty has feline leukemia, Reese plops wee Spike in a backpack and tosses him into the river. It's fucking bleak – a world removed from what you'd expect given "...and starring Saturday Night Live's Will Ferrell and Rachel Dratch!"

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Writer/director Adam Rapp strikes a better balance once the meat of the story is underway. After years trying to find herself in New York, Reese returns home to her estranged, hermetic father (Ed Harris). She doesn't make the long bus ride to Traverse City for a reconciliation, no, but to unearth a stash of love letters between two universally beloved authors – her parents. Reese's late mother, with whom she also had little contact, had left these some 150 letters to her. There's a publisher desperate to print something by Don and Mary Holden, and a six figure check is in it for Reese if she's willing to part with them.


"Yeah, well, when you grow up in a house full of neo-Marxist, anti-TV, ex-hippie workaholics, Nancy Drew can become your best friend pretty fucking quickly."

It's not exactly an get-in/get-out mission. Her father is a broken man, having abandoned the warmth of their familial home in favor of the garage. A shell of the manically prolific author he once was, every sentence is a prolonged, agonizing ordeal for Don these days. He's left academia behind in favor of...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Winter Passing]


The Chill Factor (Blu-ray)
The Cliffs Notes version of The Chill Factor – and no, not that one – sounds completely irresistible. A bout of borderline-incest that never factors in again! Death by possessed soccer goal! Disembowelment by ceiling fan! A climactic low-speed chase against a demon on a snowmobile! Raspy, awkwardly stapled-on narration that sounds like the voice actress was paid in cartons of Pall Malls! Sterling dialogue like "football players don't get lost, honey; they know where the end zone is"! A sex scene that cuts between a hellspawned O-face and the dude's presumably nude sister rotating on a Lazy Susan! And c'mon, it's written and directed by the producer behind Hellraiser and Heathers.

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Oh, if only The Chill Factor could somehow have managed to live up to all that. There's maybe an episode of Tales from the Darkside in here, with its premise of a group of college-aged friends seeking refuge after a snowmobile accident, they stumble upon something close enough to a Ouija board in this abandoned religious camp, and...yeah, demonic possession, spam-in-a-cabin, yadda yadda. This 85 minute flick is too long at least by half. It's a supernatural thriller where you don't get your first demon-induced kill until literally the halfway point. There's barely a third of the movie left once it bothers with Murder Numero Two-oh. There's precious little in the way of splatter. I mean, a guy screaming by in a snowmobile plows head-on into some barbwire, and all you get is a tiny trickle of blood from his lips. The disembowelment later on takes place off-camera, and all we see is some chunky red stuff flung against the wall. The Chill Factor doesn't even bother with an opening scare. Lacking anything resembling a hook, Christopher Webster (in what is understandably his sole...[read the entire Blu-ray review of The Chill Factor]


The Tough Ones (Blu-ray)

"One of the gunmen was wearing a black glove on his left hand, so there's a good chance it was our friend Savelli. Yeah, I know what that makes you think. We shouldn't have left him go the other day."

"Don't be silly. Cops were murdered, but we went by the book that day. That's what's important."

- Caputo and Tanzi, The Tough Ones


Exactly. Because playing it by the book has accomplished such wonders for the crime-riddled streets of Rome. Inspector Leonardo Tanzi (Maurizio Merli) arrests a couple of teenage scippatori that he sees snatch a woman's purse from their Vespa. A sympathetic juvenile counselor strongly recommends their immediate release, so they're out practically the next day, robbing a pensioner. A thug that Tanzi brings in for questioning swiftly guns down several cops as part of a bank robbery gone awry. At least the inspector was able to bring them in, however briefly; shadowy crime lord Ferrender remains frustratingly elusive. Those few who know more – such as sadistic, calculating hunchback Vincenzo Moretto (Tomas Milian) – either aren't talking or are shot dead before they have the chance. Tanzi hears the city's fevered cries for justice, and to rid Rome of the scourge of Ferrender and his ilk, the inspector can no longer let himself be shackled by the ineffective anchor of the law.

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An underground casino. Savage rape. Endless theft. Bank robberies. Heroin enslavement a la Thriller: A Cruel Picture. A whole hell of a lot of murder. Rather than bothering with a tightly...[read the entire Blu-ray review of The Tough Ones]


More reviews...

Stuff I've Watched Recently

  • 7/19: Detour (Blu-ray)
  • 7/15: Il Sorpasso (Blu-ray)
  • 7/15: Robowar (Limited Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/13: My Dinner with Andre (Blu-ray)
  • 7/13: Best in Show (Blu-ray)
  • 7/12: This Island Earth (Blu-ray)
  • 7/12: Winter Passing (Blu-ray)
  • 7/11: The Chill Factor (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 7/11: The Chill Factor (Blu-ray)
  • 7/7: The Tough Ones (Blu-ray)
  • 7/6: Drop Dead Gorgeous (Hdtv)
  • 7/6: Tomas Milian: The Rebel Within (Blu-ray)
  • 7/6: All Eyes on Lenzi (Blu-ray)
  • 7/5: The Tough Ones (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 7/2: Grey Gardens (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
More of my boring video log...
 
Movies I've Acquired Recently

  • 7/20: Brightburn (Uhd)
  • 7/19: Django the Bastard (Blu-ray)
  • 7/19: Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (Blu-ray)
  • 7/19: Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Blu-ray)
  • 7/15: Dead of Night (Blu-ray)
  • 7/15: Peter Pan (1924) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/15: Attack of the Robots (Blu-ray)
  • 7/13: Best in Show (Blu-ray)
  • 7/2: The Chill Factor (Blu-ray)
  • 6/29: Detour (Blu-ray)
  • 6/28: Valley of the Dolls (Blu-ray)
  • 6/28: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (Blu-ray)
  • 6/28: Il Sorpasso (Blu-ray)
  • 6/28: Night on Earth (Blu-ray)
  • 6/28: My Dinner with Andre (Blu-ray)
More stuff I've bought or been sent to review...


 
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