Archive for July, 2010

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2010 by Mystery Man


The film begins with the sentencing of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw), a notorious murderer. Between the reading of the sentence and the execution, the story of his life is told in flashback, beginning with his abandonment at birth in a French fish market. Raised in an orphanage, Grenouille grows into a strangely detached boy with a superhuman sense of smell. After growing to maturity as a tanner’s apprentice, he makes his first delivery to Paris, where he revels in the new odors. He focuses on a girl selling plums (Karoline Herfurth) and startles her with his behavior. To prevent her from crying out, he covers the girl’s mouth and unintentionally suffocates her. After realizing that she is dead, he strips her body naked and smells her until the scent fades. Afterwards, Grenouille becomes haunted by the desire to preserve scents forever.

After making a delivery to a perfume shop, Grenouille amazes the Italian owner, Giuseppe Baldini (Dustin Hoffman), with his ability to create fragrances. He revitalizes the perfumer’s career with new formulas, demanding only that Baldini teach him how to convert scents into perfume. Baldini explains that all perfumes are harmonies of twelve individual scents, and may contain a theoretical thirteenth scent. He also tells a story about a perfume discovered in an Egyptian tomb that was so perfect that it caused everyone in the entire world to briefly believe they were in paradise the moment the bottle was opened. When Grenouille discovers that Baldini’s method of distillation will not capture the scents of all objects, such as iron chains and dead animals, he becomes depressed. After receiving a letter of presentation written by Baldini, Grenouille leaves to learn a different method in Grasse. En route to Grasse, Grenouille realises that he has no scent of his own, and is therefore a cipher. He decides that creating the perfect smell will prove his worth.

Upon arrival in Grasse, Grenouille catches the scent of Laura Richis (Rachel Hurd-Wood), daughter of the wealthy Antoine Richis (Alan Rickman)and decides that she will be his “thirteenth scent”, the lynchpin of his perfect perfume. Grenouille finds a job in Grasse under Madame Arnulfi (Corinna Harfouch) and Dominique Druot (Paul Berrondo) assisting with perfumes and learns the method of enfleurage to capture essential oils. After some experimenting with the general principles of enfleurage, he tries the method of distillation on a cotton-picker, which fails. After this, he attempts another method on a prostitute who refuses to carry on with the procedure and he kills her in order to get her scent. He succeeds in preserving the scent of the woman by shaving off her hair, covering her in animal fat, and then distilling the fat. Grenouille embarks on a killing spree, murdering beautiful young virgins and capturing their scents. He dumps the womens’ naked corpses around the city, creating an uproar that threatens to tear the city apart. After completing preserving the first twelve scents, Grenoille plans his attack on Laura. During a church sermon against him it is announced that an innocent has confessed to the murders. Richis remains unconvinced and flees the city with his daughter. Grenouille tracks her scent to a roadside inn and sneaks into her room that night. The next morning, Richis discovers Laura lying dead in her bed.

Soldiers capture Grenouille moments after he finishes preparing his perfume. On the day of his execution, he applies a drop of the perfume to himself. The executioner and the crowd in attendance are speechless at the beauty of the perfume. They declare Grenouille innocent before falling into a massive orgy. Richis, still convinced at Grenouille’s guilt, threatens him with his sword. Before managing to attack he becomes overwhelmed by the scent, falls to his knees and embraces Jean-Baptiste as his “son”. The town awakens and decides that the godly Grenouille could not have been the murderer. Walking out of Grasse unscathed, Grenouille has enough perfume to rule the world, but has discovered that it will not allow him to love or be loved like a normal person. Disenchanted by his aimless quest and tired of his life, he returns to the Paris. Meanwhile, Druot is convicted for the murders and hanged, since it was his backyard where the clothes ang hair of the victims were found. In Paris, Grenoille returns to the fish market where he was born and dumps the perfume on his his head. Overcome by the scent and in the belief that Grenouille is an angel, the nearby crowd devours him. The next day, one final drop of perfume falls from the open bottle, lying undisturbed on the ground.


I have no problem telling you that this film is one of those creepy, “artsy-fartsy” types. In other words, this is not for everyone. Some will like it, others won’t. I happen to fall in the latter.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is based on the novel of the same name and centers around olfactory genius Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s quest to replicate the scent he once sniffed off a plum girl in France. The scene in which he meets her is quite creepy. I mean, this guy, covered in all kinds of funk and muck from working in the tannery, walks up behind her and all of a sudden just starts sniffing her. A little while later, he tracks her down and basically accosted her in her little cubby hole thing and in the process of keeping her quiet, kills her. All for a scent!

As dark as this film is, the narration, done by John Hurt, seems to go a total different direction, and sort of resembles the tone of something like the Nanny McPhee or Pushing Daisies narration. Nothing wrong with, mind you, it just seemed rather odd. Having said that, the contrast was nice.

Casting for a film such as this could not have been easy, but powerhouses such as Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman take their relatively small roles and make magic out of them (as if we would expect less?).

The true challenge came from Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. This guy had to be naive and creepy, without making it seem that way. I have to commend the guy for pulling it off. However, the guy was supposed to be French, yet his British accent was as prominent as the nose on Dustin Hoffman’s face. Did they not have a dialect coach to teach this guy?

As I said, I didn’t like the film, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good picture. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. I recommend to those of you that like this type of suspense drama and period pieces, or those that like these “artsy-fartsy” flicks. The rest of us can go find something more interesting.

3 out of 5 stars

Robocop 2

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , on July 31, 2010 by Mystery Man


RoboCop is slowly coming to grips with the loss of his former life as Alex Murphy. Though he attempts to reach out to his family, he eventually realizes he can never return to them. When he finally sees his wife, he tells her that the face was placed on him to honor Alex Murphy.

OCP’s current plans also come into focus: they attempt to have Detroit default on its debt, so that OCP can foreclose on the entire city, take over the city government, demolish the old city, and put up a planned community development, Delta City, in its place. As part of this plan, OCP forces a police strike by terminating their pension plan and cutting salaries. As RoboCop is property of OCP and cannot strike, this measure increases his duties as the city sinks further into chaos and terror.

Meanwhile, the Security Concepts division of OCP continues to sink millions into the development of a more advanced “RoboCop 2”. However, each project ends in disaster; once the officers realize what they have become, they immediately turn suicidal. They deduce that Murphy only survived because of his exceedingly strong sense of duty, and his moral objection to suicide as an Irish-Catholic. The scientists decide they need someone similar, like a criminal with a desire for power and immortality, regardless of the cost.

Throughout the city, a new designer drug named “Nuke” has been plaguing the streets. The primary distributor, Cain, believes that Nuke is the way to paradise, and is obsessed with power. He is assisted by his girlfriend Angie, his still-juvenile apprentice Hob, and Officer Duffy, a corrupt police officer. Having learned of Cain’s involvement with Nuke from Duffy, RoboCop confronts him and his gang at an abandoned construction site. However, RoboCop is rendered immobile and disassembled; the pieces are then left in front of the Detroit Police Station.

OCP, reluctant to foot his massive repair costs, ignores his fellow police officers insistence that he be repaired. RoboCop is saved when Dr. Juliette Faxx, an OCP psychologist, takes charge of the new RoboCop team. She argues for his importance as a figure of the community, and creates a list of over 300 new directives to be added to his program. Murphy is ultimately powerless to refuse the new commands, and is rendered unable to take aggressive action against criminals, even to defend himself. After the original RoboCop team explains what to do about this, Murphy shocks himself with a power cable to erase all of his directives. He then leads the striking officers off the picket line to attack Cain’s hideout. Cain is badly injured in the battle and is taken to the hospital. With Cain immobilized, Hob takes control. Faxx, having decided that Cain is perfect for the RoboCop 2 project, arrives at the hospital and switches off his life support. Later, while displaying the new RoboCop 2 (Cain) to the head of OCP, Faxx demonstrates how he may be pacified through a canister of pure Nuke.

Meanwhile, Hob arranges a secret meeting with the Mayor, offering to bail out the city’s debt to OCP, but only if he agrees to a hands-off policy regarding the distribution of Nuke. Since this would hinder OCP’s attempts to take over the city, they send RoboCop 2 in to kill everyone. While the mayor escapes through a sewer drain, all attendants, including Hob, Angie and two city councilmen, are slaughtered. RoboCop arrives late, only in time to find and comfort a dying Hob, who tells him about what happened.

During the unveiling of Delta City and Robocop 2 at a press conference, the OCP President unwittingly presents a canister filled with Nuke. Cain escapes control, destroying the control device that arms his weapons, and opens fire on the crowd. RoboCop arrives, and the two cyborgs battle throughout the building, eventually falling off the roof and into an underground facility. As the rest of the police force arrives and engages Cain, RoboCop heads back to the OCP building to get the canister of Nuke. Upon seeing the canister, RoboCop 2 immediately ceases fire and takes it. While distracted, RoboCop jumps onto his back, punches his way through to Cain’s brain, and crushes it.

The Chairman of OCP, executive Johnson, and OCP lawyer Holzgang discuss the companies liability for the massacre, and decide to scapegoat Faxx, claiming that she acted without company support in designing RoboCop 2. Lewis complains about how the OCP executives will escape legally unscathed, but RoboCop reassured Lewis and tells her to be patient.


Following the events of the original Robocop, Robocop 2 should have been an automatic smash, right? Well, not quite.

First off, there was some sort of change at the top, so we don’t have the same director or writers (I think). Second, the story doesn’t gel.

Don’t gret me wrong, having Robocop tackle both the war on drugs as well as the corruption in the city government works, but something about doing them both didn’t quite sit right with me. I think it was more to do with how these are two totally unrelated things that somehow get loosely connected through the use of the same leader, but they could have had that going on from day one and made it that much super.

Violence is something that you should expect from a late 80s-early 90s action flick, especially this, so I don’t wanna hear that all the shooting was too much. If you think this is too much, go watch a war movie!

The action could be better. I mean, it wasn’t bad, but Robocop moves so stiff and doesn’t appear available to run. This brings to question how does he chase down criminals? Sure, it looks like he catches all of them, but you can’t tell me there aren’t more tan a few who have simple run away. Roocop dos miss once in a while.

The casting is pretty much consistent with the first film, although I have to say that newcomer Gabriel Damon, who plays the kid that’s the second in command. He commands such a presence on the screen, you’d think he was a bonafide leading man.

As far as cop flicks go, this one is not going to be basking in the same glory as the original. However, it is worth a watching just to complete the trilogy. It isn’t as bad a critics make it out to be, but rather quite enjoyable. I could have down without the onslaught of technical attacks on Robosop. For some reason, I ws under the impression that all the armor and stuff was meant to protect him, and that what is left of his human side had enough free will to allow him to not seem so robotic. I guess this is worth a viewing, but if you really want to see a good action flick, there are plenty of alternatives.

3 out of 5 stars

Assasination of a High School President

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2010 by Mystery Man


Bobby Funke (Reece Thompson) is a less than popular high school sophomore with a dream to get into Northwestern University’s summer journalism program. Although Bobby claims he’s a great writer, he’s never finished an article for St. Donovan’s School Newspaper. The editor-in-chief Clara, (Melonie Diaz), assigns Bobby to do an article on Paul Moore, the student body president. Bobby attempts to get an interview, but is unable to get a story out of Paul and is bullied by Paul’s friends. Paul is the star of the basketball team and on a game night, Paul takes a fall and injures his knee. The next morning Principal Kirkpatrick (Bruce Willis) discovers the SATs have been stolen from a safe in his office. Kirkpatrick rounds up his “usual suspects” of high school misfits along with Bobby to question them. The group is innocent but Kirkpatrick warns them all to watch their step.

When senior Francesca Facchini (Mischa Barton) solicits Bobby’s help tracking down the set of stolen SATs, Funke uncovers a story. He sets on a large scale investigation and links Paul Moore to the crime. He writes an article pointing the finger at Paul. Kirkpatrick forces Paul to open his locker and the SATs fall out. As a result of his sleuthing, Funke becomes one of the most popular kids at St. Donovan’s. Clara decides to submit Funke’s article to Northwestern which earns Bobby a scholarship to the summer program. Funke wins the respect of everyone from Principal Kirkpatrick to the kid that farts on him in Spanish class and Francesca takes Funke to homecoming. As Funke’s popularity grows so do his suspicions. Paul confronts Bobby, proclaiming his innocence, stating that he got into Cornell but decided to take the test again to see if he could get a better score. Funke begins to wonder if the president really stole the SATs or if he’s just a pawn in a conspiracy.

Funke investigates even deeper into the lives of Paul’s shady friends, all members of the Student Council. He discovers their involvement with drug dealing. The Student Council had actually stolen the SATs along with other tests throughout the year, modifying the marks of the best students to make them doubt their test-taking abilities and turn to the Student Council for performance-enhancing Adderrall and other speed-like medications. Funke says that while Paul wasn’t a part of the scam, group ringleader Marlon Piazza (Luke Grimes) has Paul framed to avoid being caught. Funke also finds out that Francesca lead him along the entire time to keep him from finding out the truth. Francesca and Marlon, step-siblings, are revealed as lovers.

Funke confronts the group in the principal’s office. Marlon threatens to have Funke thrown out the window and frame it as a suicide, but his threat and confession are heard on the school’s intercom system. When Funke entered the room, he secretly turned on the microphone; Funke’s friends save him from being thrown out the window and Kirkpatrick rushes into the office, followed by the student body and Francesca. Francesca attempts to gain Funke’s trust again, only to be shut down and left to deal with Kirkpatrick’s punishment.


Every now and then, a movie comes along that has the potential to be a truly great film, but just isn’t executed well. This is either due to bad directing, acting, or hat have you. Assassination of a High School President falls into that very category.

My expectations for this film weren’t very high. I mean, this wasn’t a bad film, mind you, but there just wasn’t anything to keep my interest.

The story was a great one, and in the right hands could have been a thing fo greatness, but the filmmaker was not the person to handle this. For some reason, this film noir story was set in a current high school setting. That right there should have tipped me off that the rest of this film was not going to be worth watching.

Most of the cast is unknowns, such as Luke Grimes, Reece Daniel Thompson, Melonie Diaz, etc., who do a great job with their parts that may very well led them to better things.

Bruce Willis’ character, that of a shell-shocked former military man who served in Desert Storm but is now a principal. Not exactly the usual work you’d expect from Willis, but he eats up the screen in each scene he’s in.

Mischa Barton doesn’t work for me as the hottest girl in school. Maybe a popular girl, but that’s stretching it ab it. I always thought she couldn’t act on The O.C., and this just further proved my point. On the other hand, she doesn’t look so anorexic here.

So, what is the verdict for Assassination of a High School President? Lots of potential, good story, decent cast, but none of these things help to make this film worth watching. It is such a bore than you don’t even question why it was indefinitely put on hold from a release in theaters, but instead went direct to DVD. I guess what I’m saying is don’t waste your time.

2 out fo 5 stars

Orchestra Wives

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2010 by Mystery Man


Connie Ward (Rutherford) is a young woman who marries Bill Abbott (Montgomery), a trumpet player in Gene Morrison’s (Miller) swing band (Miller’s character was given a name with initials that matched Miller’s so that the band could use their monogrammed stainless-steel bandstands). She soon finds herself at odds with the cattiness and petty jealousies of the other band members’ spouses. Her discomfort is exacerbated by a flirtation between Abbott and Jaynie (Bari), the band’s female vocalist. When Ward eventually walks out on Abbott, their split releases so many other tensions among the musicians and their wives, leader Morrison is forced to break up the orchestra. Ward and the band’s pianist Sinjin (Romero) then work behind the scenes to reunite the band, which also produces a reconciliation between Ward and Abbot [with additional help from Connie’s father (Grant Mitchell)]. The re-formed band has a series of hit recordings and all ends happily.


It doesn’t get much better than the music og Glenn Miller, does it. Orchestra Wives is full of Miller’s masterpieces…and there is an actual movie in there somewhere.

The story is quite good, to be honest with you. An innocent fangirl meets the object of her affection who asks her to marry him. Then we get the lowdown on the life of the wife of an orchestra member.

As the film progresses, we learn that there is typical cattiness and jealousy among the women, but that’s a given considering how they’re on the road for what I think they said was 35 cities in 29 days or something. That is bound to mess with one’s head and maybe even their hormones.

The little bit of marital drama near the end makes sense considering how whirlwind their 2 day (and that’s stretching it) courtship was. Howver, the end of the film left me wanting more. Usually, that’s a good thing, but the way this film ends just didn’t satisfy me.

The cast is superb.

George Montgomery plays a good lead trumpet player, although his skills at acting like he was playing suck. As an actual trumpet player, I think I know a thing or two about this subject. No one has made it as believable as Antonio Banderas in The Mambo Kings, and even he was obviously faking. That point aside, his acting is similar to those of leading men of this era. That is he didn’t rely on some kind of special effects or great script (not saying this is a bad one), but rather his own talent.

Ann Rutherford portrays a naive fangirl to Bill Abbott; eventually becoming his wife. Her performance here is good, but I came away thinking she could have done more. The one time we really get to see her flex her chops is in the scene which results in her inadvertently breaking up the band. The rest of the film she is behind the scenes, tagging along.

Cesar Romero’s character is so suave, yet obvious comic relief. He has the machismo you would expect from a jazz musician of this day. At the same time you can’t help but laugh at his cheesy lines that get him rejected at every turn. I wish there would have been more of him.

Glenn Miller is apparently more than a band leader and brilliant composer/arranger. He also can do a bit of acting. Granted, all he had to do here was read some line as if he were saying them, and go by a different name, but that’s still acting and something you don’t see too often from musicians (with a handful of exceptions).

Orchestra Wives is a bit more serious that comparable films of this genre and era, but not so much that it gets all Citizen Kane-like.  Unfortunately, though, the film is dependent on the music of Glenn Miller and his orchestra to keep it going, as proven by the recurring theme of “At Last” that is played ad nauseum every chance they get. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being dependent on Miller’s music, but it overshadows the story a bit. Luckily, the main character is in the band, so it works.

As a lover of swing and especially Glenn Miller’s music, this was one of those films that was a real treat for me. I’m not sure if you have the same tastes as me, but if you do, then you’re sure to enjoy this every step of the way. If you’re not into jazz and such, then this may not be the film for you, but there is still a great story that is worth seeing. This film gets a very high recommendation from me to you.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

I Love You, Man

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2010 by Mystery Man


Peter Klaven, a real estate agent, just got engaged to Zooey Rice. Zooey is ecstatic about the engagement and calls her friends to tell them about it, but Peter does not seem to have anyone special he’d like to share the good news with. While visiting his parents, it comes out that Peter is more adept at getting along with women, instead of having any male friends. After overhearing Zooey’s friends voice their concerns over the matter, Peter realizes he needs to find male friends in order to have a best man for his wedding.

Peter attempts to go on “man dates” with several men, which all end in failure, due to his general lack of knowledge in regards to “being a man”. Feeling rejected, Peter is about to give up, when during an open house at Lou Ferrigno’s mansion, he meets Sydney Fife, an investor who (admittedly) is attending the showing simply to pick up divorced women. The two hit it off very well, despite having different personalities, and exchange business cards. Later, Peter calls Sydney, and they go out for drinks.

The two continue to hang out more, and Sydney eventually invites Peter into his “man cave,” a space in his garage where he keeps a big-screen TV, his collection of musical instruments, and various other belongings. Peter and Sydney quickly bond over their mutual fanhood of the band Rush, and start meeting frequently for jam sessions. Peter finally introduces Sydney to Zooey at their engagement party, but Zooey’s opinion of Sydney sours when he makes a very awkward and inappropriate toast.

The next night, Peter is watching TV with Zooey, when Sydney calls and talks Peter into going to see Rush live. Zooey reluctantly agrees to join them, but feels ignored while Peter and Sydney are bonding during the concert. The next day, while shopping for tuxedos, Sydney asks Peter why he is marrying Zooey, and also asks for an $8,000 loan. After some thought, Peter decides to loan Sydney the money, and later grants him the honor of best man at his wedding.

Zooey, meanwhile, has become suspicious of Sydney, especially after he gets into a fight with Lou Ferrigno, possibly causing Peter to lose exclusive sales rights to Ferrigno’s house. Peter tells Zooey that he lent Sydney money and asks her if she knows why they are getting married. Hurt and angry, Zooey leaves to stay at her friend’s house.

When Peter leaves for work that next morning, he learns that Sydney has used the $8,000 loan to purchase several ridiculous billboard advertisements for Peter’s real estate business. Peter confronts Sydney, and decides to end their friendship. Peter then patches things up with Zooey, explaining to her that he is nervous but ready to get married.

Peter discovers that Sydney’s billboards worked after he starts receiving more clients and offers on the Ferrigno house. Peter feels bad about fighting with Sydney but doesn’t re-invite Sydney to the wedding. Before the wedding, Zooey sees Peter upset, so she calls and invites Sydney, who is already on his way to the wedding. Just before the vows are to be taken, Sydney makes a dramatic entrance. He informs Peter and Zooey that he is, in fact, a successful investor and returns the money he borrowed from Peter, stating that the billboards were the couple’s wedding present. Peter and Sydney declare their platonic love to each other, and Sydney assumes the role of best man


With a title like I Love You, Man, one would assume this is some kind of flick about gay men, but you would be sadly mistaken because, in fact, this is a film about the relationship between two straight males who become best friends.

I have a little bit of a soft spot for this film, actually. No, I didn’t love it, but it did touch me. Like the main character, Peter, most of my friends, especially the ones I’m close to are female. I haven’t had a true male best friend since I was a wee little tyke. I’m sure there are more guys out there like me who feel the same way, but are just afraid/ashamed to admit it.

The comedy is what really drives this film. There are moments of slapstick, gross out/phart jokes, high brow, senical, and just plain physical comedy. However, with all those various types, each done very well, I might add, none really seemed to leave a lasting impression. As a matter of fact, if not for Jason Segal’s character, this film might have very well fallen flat.

The cast is pretty good. I have a bit of trouble believing that Jamie Pressly would marry Jon Favreau, though.

Paul Rudd plays the straight man to perfection, but I just don’t think he has enough to carry a film on his own. He just seemed uncomfortable the whole time. It was sort of like he wanted someone else to take over and be the lead. To this point, his character suffered.

Jason Segel single-handedly saves this flick. Seriously, if you take Segel out, this is a very dull flick. His comedic timing and manchild ways make this thing enjoyable. The drama at the end was a waste, but I guess there had to be some sort of conflict, right?

Rashida Jones’ hotness is wasted here, as well as her talent. She started off the film as the understanding fiancée, but as the film progressed she became this unlikable, jealous bitch. The ironic thing is that she is the one that suggested Peter find a best friend! Still, things manage to right themselves and she became likable (as if anyone can hate her).

Is I Love You, Man worth the time to watch? Well, yes and no. I mean it is a funny movie, and a definite break from all those typical rom-coms where some chick is running around pining for Mr. Right who happens to be right in front of her face…blah, blah, blah. However, the entertainment factor of a film like this, which is supposed to be a comedy, is low. So, sure you can watch this right now, or wait awhile. I’m sure it’ll pop up on TNT or TBS or something as one of their weekend movies.

4 out of 5 stars

The Haunting in Connecticut

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2010 by Mystery Man


Set in 1987, the story centers on Matthew Campbell (Kyle Gallner), who is being treated for cancer in a hospital in Upstate Connecticut. After seeing the effect the long commute has on Matt, his family rents a nearby house, which they learn was previously a funeral home. They discover a mortuary room in the basement and the family begins experiencing violent and supernatural events that the parents initially blame on stress and hallucinations from Matt’s treatment. Matt also experiences visions from the perspective of a young teenager from the 1920s named Jonah (Erik Berg). Matt contacts a minister he met at the hospital for assistance with his paranormal experiences.

The minister informs Matt that the visions and supernatural encounters are likely a result of the previous occupant’s occult activities (including séances and necromancy). The Jonah character is discovered to be the ghost of a psychic medium involved in the previous owner’s activities and presently bound to control the “spirits” within the house.

The film comes to its climax when Matt learns the source of the haunting and tries to rid the house of the undesired spirits


There was a time when horror movies were more about the idea of something bad happening or had happened, and didn’t show every gory detail. Don’t get me wrong, I like some gore and stuff just as much as the next guy, but The Haunting in Connecticut just didn’t work for me.

The main reason I say this is because they could have made this more of a psychological thriller, of sorts, rather than a jump scare horror movie. Jump scares are fine every now and then, but after a while they get old and lose their impact, as you can tell by watching this film.

I won’t deny this film its creepiness factor, however. It was quite the creepfest, however, I will go to bed tonight and sleep peacefully, totally forgetting everything about this flick. A good horror flick would have me sleeping with the lights on. Whatever happened to those?

Apparently, this is based on a true story. Now, I don’t know how much of what we saw on film actually happened, but the writing seemed a bit herky-jerky. What I mean by that is they didn’t seem to center on a specific plot point and stick with it. For instance, they want us to feel sorry for the kid that has cancer. They show him numberous time vomiting and in the hospital getting tests and scans and whatnot. Other times, they focus on the family’s money problems. At one point, they shift to the dad’s drinking and what seems like a rift in the marriage. All this can leave a viewer scratching their head and wishing for some point in the story to grab onto and get an understaninding and real feeling for these characters, which we don’t get.

Having said that, I don’t want to make it seem as if these actors don’t do all they can to bring them to life. However, I felt that Virginia Madsen was a bit overdramatic in her role. Of course, being a mother of a ding cancer patient son, the overemotion she showed is acceptable, now that I think about it.

Amanda Crew, who plays the cousin and live-in babysitter seems a bit out of place here. That could be because they didn’t really give her anything until the climax at the end, and even that wasn’t much.

Elias Koteas actually has the juiciest role as the cancer patient preacher who takes the evil out of the house. I was quite impressed.

Martin Donovan was your typical horror movie dad until they threw that random drinking problem in there for one scene. I’m sure they intended to go somewhere with that, but since they didn’t, it seemed out of place, and really took away from his character, for me.

Kyle Gallner actually pulled off being a dying kid with cancer quite well. I did think he did seem a bit emotional at times, but if you were given a certain amount of time to live, I’m sure you’d be the same.

The Haunting in Connecticut ultimately fails to deliver a 1,2 punch that a horror flick should. In this day and age where horror is also about the psychological aspect, it just didn’t deliver. As far as the historical aspect, well, it appears they did that justice, but I didn’t feel sorry for these actors, nor do I feel anything for the people who actually lived through this, which is a shame, because this film should have made me feel something. I can recommend this above average horror flick to those out there that like this kind of stuff, but it just didn’ work for me.

3 out of 5 stars

Blood and Bone

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2010 by Mystery Man


When ex-con Isaiah Bone (Michael Jai White) gets out of prison, he immediately seeks out a room to rent and gets involved in LA’s underground fight scene. Along the way, he destroys the area’s best fighter, who is under the control of a local mob boss named James (Eamonn Walker). When Bone refuses the mob boss’s request to fight on the international circuit, it sets off a powerful battle between the two, amidst some surprising revelations about what drove Bone to get involved with James in the first place.


In a film I watched a few weeks, ago, Blood and Bone was one of the trailers. I had heard nothing about before or since, but after watching it this evening, I have to say this film should get much more publicity.

The underground fighting scene can be a…scene. This picture doesn’t tackle it head on or glorify it, but rather uses it as a plot device.

The fighting here is top-notch. It is not very often that you get actual fighter doing fighting scenes instead of actors and stunt doubles. It is quite obvious that the fighters knew what they were doing, as these scenes were 100% believable and didn’t look like some badly staged WWE event.

I think I would have liked a bit more of the final fight involving the swords or the confrontation with the top international fighter, but hey, beggars can’t be choosy, right?

As far as the plot goes, I would have liked to have a bit more info on Bone, such as why was he in prison, how did he know where Danny’s wife and son were, etc.

Michael Jai White again proves he is not someone you want to mess with. I find him to be underrated, both as an actor and action star. He seems superhuman at times with his kicks and punches and the lack of emotion given to this character actually works.

Eamonn Walker made a good villain. He has the look of a wealthy mob boss-type, but given his body type, the audience was led to think we’d get to see him in the “ring” with Bone. True, they do finally battle, but it is a bit of a letdown from what one would expect.

When all the smoke clears, Blood and Bone is a good action flick, especially for a straight to DVD release, but it does lose the audience’s interest at times, which is probably why it wasn’t released in theaters. Having said that, it was still fun to watch, if for nothing else but the superb fight scenes and touching story. I can highly recommend this to everyone, especially those of you that are into fight flick and UFC/MMA type stuff.

4 out of 5 stars