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Solar Deities From World Mythology

Posted By ScribblingGeek 7 hours ago on Entertainment

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Prominent gods and goddesses of the sun from world mythology.
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New Releases: Character-driven Script Makes The Old Man (2022) New

Posted By themoviesleuth 17 hours ago on Entertainment

Plenty of direct-to-streaming or to–video plots involve some old agent/hitman being pulled back into his old life by some turn of events. Actors run through the lines with attempted emotion and hurry off to the next low-budget, scattershot action sequence.  The Old Man takes this overly familiar story and elevates it with a character-driven script, heaving hitting actors bringing their best, and well-orchestrated and filmed action sequences. It also melds this formula with frequent scenes of contemplative dialogue from characters in the later years of their lives. This addition could frustrate viewers expecting an even older version of a John Wick-type character, but it could also delight anyone watching for the heavy-hitting ensemble of John Lithgow, Amy Brennaman, and Jeff Bridges.  Production of the series, which originally began in 2019, was put on hold while Bridges recovered from non-Hodgkins lymphoma and COVID. Season one of the series premiered this June and released the final episode on July 21st. It was adapted from the pulpy novel of the same name by Thomas Perry, but changes were made to expand the plot and include new characters.  Bridges plays Dan Chase, an ex-CIA agent living off the grid and recovering from the death of his wife. He delivers the Clint Eastwood-like gravitas with only a minimal amount of Dude-like stammering. While it may be easy for viewers to see Bridges as a weathered old man with some wisdom to spout, it may be more challenging to see him as a Liam Neeson-like bad ass who can take out agents half his age.  Yet Bridges delivers during actions sequences that are filmed in the one-take, unbroken shot style. Though stunt doubles may have been used, it appears that Bridges, now 72, performs all the rough fights and actions sequences. This prompts the expected “Who is this guy?” line from some younger, ignorant character unfamiliar with the Old Man.  Complex characters and backstories from Lithgow and Brenneman’s characters make this more engaging. Brenneman unexpectedly steals more than a few scenes, creating some plot complications for Dan Chase. Also delivering a strong, performance was Alia Skawkat, expanding her more dramatic roles since her early days as Maebe on Arrested Development. Skawkat’s character plays an integral role in the series’ seven episodes, delivering one or two surprises. All three of these characters and their backstories converge in a smart, well-constructed puzzle that makes The Old Man a slow burn drama punctuated by realistic action sequences.  All episodes now streaming on Hulu. —Eric Beach

Cinematic Releases: Dark Glasses (2022) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 1 day 11 hours ago on Entertainment

Courtesy of Vision DistributionWhen we last saw the Italian giallo maestro Dario Argento, that grandmaster of horror behind such revered classics as The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Suspiria and Tenebrae, he hit a creative rock bottom with the misbegotten 2012 Dracula 3D film.  While the years since saw renewed interest in the director’s oeuvre followed by a controversial remake of his most beloved title Suspiria, creatively speaking Argento more or less retired from film directing altogether after the disastrous critical and commercial release of his 3D film which made the maestro’s output look amateurish.   Then COVID hit and the director’s friend, fellow French provocateur Gaspar Noe, suffered a near-fatal brain hemorrhage which spawned that director’s most respectable film to date, the dementia drama Vortex.  In it, Dario Argento in his first leading role as an actor plays an elderly husband living with his wife who begins succumbing to dementia, meanwhile Argento’s character gradually begins developing respiratory problems.  A searing existential work about what awaits us all as we move into elderly aging, the film proved to be a creative hit for Argento and not long after being released to critical acclaim (rare for Noe), Argento found himself reinvigorated by the experience and then immediately proceeded to write and direct his first feature in almost ten years.  Though the aptly named Occhiali Neri or Dark Glasses reposits the director into familiar throwback giallo territory, it is nevertheless a welcome if not somewhat shaky return to form that makes you forget about his last picture. Based on a script dating back to 2002 before the original film’s producer declared bankruptcy and shelved the project before being rediscovered by daughter Asia Argento years later (who also co-stars and serves as an associate producer), the film concerns an Italian escort named Diana (Ilenia Pastorelli) who one night after leaving a difficult client finds herself under attack by a serial murderer.  Narrowly escaping a car crash which leaves her blinded, she befriends a young Chinese boy (Andrea Zhang) who becomes her only source of sight and help in trying to track down the killer with what little means they have before more bodies fall. Typical Argento fare that feels more like a career summation than bringing anything particularly new to the table, Dark Glasses is something of a greatest hits compilation with many noticeable callouts to Suspiriaand Tenebrae.  In the time-honored tradition of giallo, the film is also a glittery travelogue through contemporary Rome, showing off the location and culture while still telling a survival horror story.  The performances by the unlikely two leads Pastorelli and Zhang are generally good with Pastorelli doing a decent job pulling off the blindness look.  Also worth mentioning are the effects teams’ grisly gore and bloodletting though seasoned giallo fans are unlikely to be surprised by anything here. The real stars are Argento, his cinematographer Matteo Cocco whose anamorphic widescreen lenses distort and bend buildings and hallways unnaturally, and his composer Arnaud Rebotini.  While originally intending for Daft Punk to score the film before their unforeseen breakup dropped them out of the project, Rebotini’s score re-channels many of the familiar beats and notes of Argento’s Goblin musical talents and penchant for synthesizers.  Put together, while not reaching the visual phantasmagoria of Suspiria, is well shot and composed enough for it to still provide striking giallo imagery. Reviews of the film (slated for Autumn 2022 on Shudder) have been across the board with some fans appreciating the director’s return to the chair while also lamenting his seeming inability to make anything new that’s as strong as his 70s and 80s works.  That said, I’ll accept it as an antidote to The Mother of Tears and the aforementioned Dracula 3D experience that almost drove the nails the rest of the way into the coffin for Argento.  While the filmmaker could arguably be losing his touch at the ripe of age of 81, its still refreshing to see the greatest Italian horror director since Mario Bava do his thing one more time.  --Andrew Kotwicki (function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); zergnet.type = 'text/javascript'; zergnet.async = true; zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == "https:" ? "https:" : "http:") + '//www.zergnet.com/zerg.js?id=59239'; var znscr = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; znscr.parentNode.insertBefore(zergnet, znscr); })();

The Mythology of Road House (1989)

Posted By themoviesleuth 2 days ago on Entertainment

Road House, should by any account of taste be relegated to a bargain DVD bin.  But, despite all of its proclivities, it remains to this day, an absolute masterwork of the absurd.  Patrick Swayze battles a neo-conservative ghoul for the soul of a southern town, while simultaneously wooing a beautiful doctor and arguing the philosophical specifics of the life of a bouncer with Sam Elliot.  The absolute magic of this film, decades later, is in how a mythology is built.   Bruised, drunken gods walk the streets of Jasper, Missouri while henchmen ply their trades in seedy nightclubs and decadent mansions and mere mortals can do nothing but witness the collision of neon, blood, and bone.  Rowdy Herrington builds this mythos atop a veneer of neo-western sensibilities, while also serving as a transition from the macho fueled 80's action classics to the violent, more contemplative films of the early nineties.  Featuring an unforgettable cast, memorable songs and dialogue, and one of the most unique presentations of genre ever committed to the screen, this is one of the greatest films ever made.  Dalton is an enigmatic cooler who is drawn into conflict with the crime boss of a small town.  What follows is an escalation of violence that threatens to destroy not only Dalton, but everyone and everything he cares about.  Patrick Swayze gives the performance of his career.  Combining his unrelenting cool with his balletic movement, Dalton is a sexy, graceful, and an absolutely dangerous legend.  Opposite Swayze is film icon Ben Gazzara as the corrupt potentate of Jasper.  His Brad Wesley is unique monster, prone to domestic violence and nonchalant murder while also evoking the ideals of older generations.  He wears the guise of a veteran and philanthropist that hides the darker, more insidious nature within.  This works as an excellent foil to Dalton because both are warriors but at opposite ends of the continuum.  The supporting cast is filled with talent.  Sam Elliot gives one of his most memorable turns as Wade Garrett, Dalton's confidant and teacher.  Their relationship, and their approach to the trade of bouncing is what forms the ethos that winds through the bubble gum aesthetics.  These are tough, thoughtful men who truly never wish to fight, and yet their entire existence is defined by violence and death.  Kevin Tighe, Kelly Lynch,  and Keith David have notable supporting turns as well, but it is Jeff Healey and his band that is perhaps the strongest element, as the memorable soundtrack features both covers and original songs by the band, another key ingredient in the worldbuilding that Harrington did. One of the more unusual and interesting standouts is John William Young's memorable performance as the likable thug Tinker.  Throughout the film, Tinker is the only one of Wesley's thugs to actually injure Dalton.  In each of the fights, Tinker connects with each of his targets except Wade Garrett.  Whether on purpose or not, the implications of this are intriguing as Tinker; arguably the soul of Jasper incarnate; is able to wound Dalton, but does not possess the ability to wound his creator, thus signifying Garrett's godlike reputation and Dalton's inherent vulnerabilities. This is further intimated in the finale, as Tinker is the only thug to survive the carnage.  Foreshadowing is another prominent feature in the presentation.  Dean Cundey (The Thing) uses his cinematography to create different worlds.  First there is the controlled glitz of the Bandstand that eventually gives way to the chaos of the Double Deuce.  In the Bandstand, there is neon lights, gold and silver.  In the Double Deuce there is washed out colors and blood.  As the film transitions into the final act, the Double Deuce becomes an amalgam of both, symbolizing how Dalton has both mastered his demons, while also accepting them for what they are.  David Lee Henry and Hilary Henkin's script is full of endlessly quotable lines that both emulate the Westerns from which they were inspired while also lampooning them.  Road House is a movie that knows exactly what it is and it dangerously walks the line between brutality and parody.  Any other director and combination of cast and crew would have taken it too far across one side, but Herrington managed perfection by understanding the nuance of both approaches.  Upon first viewing, this could be thought of as a forgettable macho experience, but it slowly becomes clear through each scene and set piece that this is something so much more, and this is because of the way the balance between the two extremes is continually maintained. The result?  A true masterwork of American action cinema.  Now available for digital rental, Road House is surely a relic of its time and yet it possesses fundamental American themes that still have meaning and draw in the modern world.  This is a film that both sides of the political spectrum tend to enjoy, yet another mystifying miracle of this film's legacy.  There are not many films that simply slide into one's identity the way this film does.  It simply becomes part of the viewer’s universal subconscious, linking them with anyone else who has ever ventured through the inviting and ominous doors of the Double Deuce, creating a familial pantheon of demigods whose only demand to their supplicants is: Be Nice, Until It's Time to Not Be Nice.    --Kyle Jonathan   

Now Streaming: Prey (2022) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 2 days ago on Entertainment

 Predators stalk the annals of American history, visiting unspeakable horrors against the indigenous people who populated the New World long before colonists invaded.  Dan Trachtenberg's stellar entry into the Predator franchise doesn't fully delve into this, but the ghost of genocide is everywhere in the haunted forests of the northern plains.  Eschewing the heat and conflict-ridden hunting grounds of the previous installments for a quiet theater of blood, Prey, is an exceptional action horror sojourn that features a remarkable lead performance, pristine natural visuals, and some of the most inventive gore in recent memory.   A Predator begins its hunt in 1719 North America. A Native American woman, trying to prove herself as a hunter among her male tribe members is drawn into a life-or-death struggle with the infamous extraterrestrial.  Amber Midthunder (Legion) is sensational.  Prey is an interesting film, because it walks a line between synthetic looking online streamer and pristine, introspective think piece masquerading as an action film.  Midthunder's performance is layered and restrained, which pairs perfectly with Trachtenberg's subdued first half that lays the groundwork for the bloodletting.  And there is bloodletting.  While there are familiar tropes, such as the female warrior in the male's world, the story uses them as a foundation and elects to focus on Midthunder's quiet, brilliant rebellion.  Another important aspect of Midthunder's Naru is her stealth and pragmatism.  She knows when to run and when to hide and her fear is palpable, giving way to realistic catharsis and ingenious problem solving rather than the macho fueled showdowns of the previous installments.  She is the most human character in the entire franchise, rivaling the wonderful detectives of Predator 2. Jeff Cutter's beautiful cinematography is some of the best lens work this year.  There are a handful of homages to the first two films that are seamlessly woven into the optics as Cutter films the natural landscapes with an almost omnipotent viewpoint.  If there is a weakness, it's in the CGI and the inescapable reality that this is a streaming film and not an in-theater experience, but the budgetary limitations are on the fringe of what is undeniably a blood-soaked woman vs. alien extravaganza.   The creature itself is a unique rendering of the tried-and-true Predators of the previous entries.  This creature is vastly more primal and infinitely more brutal than its brethren, offering up some of the most goriest and shocking kills in the entire franchise, which pairs perfectly with the low key ambiance.  Everything about this film is muted, from Sarah Scachner's ominous score to the fog laden killing fields of the climax.  Hulu has the option to watch in English or in Comanche dialect, another wonderful detail that Trachtenberg included.  At its core, Prey is a predictable story that hits all familiar beats a fan of these films would expect, but it confidently knocks each of them out of the park.  Now available for streaming on Hulu, Prey delivers everything it promises and more, rising above expected mediocrity with an unforgettable performance and above bar imagery.  Come for the body heat visuals, stay for Midthunder's bad ass Naru and the absolutely insane kill sequences.  Perhaps the most fun at home viewing experience of 2022.  --Kyle Jonathan

Goodnight Mommy: English Language Remake Sets Release Date

Posted By themoviesleuth 3 days ago on Entertainment

 It was announced last year that the Austrian independent horror film, Goodnight Mommy would be getting a domestic remake. Naomi Watts will be stepping into the shoes of the mother in the film with Cameron and Nicholas Crovetti taking up the parts as her sons. The original film which was released in 2014 and was the Austrian pick for Best Foreign Language at the 88th Academy Awards but did not receive a nomination. Matt Sobel (Take Me To The River) is taking up directorial duties on the remake of the cult horror film. Yesterday it was announced that the film will be premiering on Amazon Prime Video on September 16th, 2022 and doesn't look to be receiving a theatrical run at this time. The story follows two young boys who are sent to live with their mother whose face is wrapped in bandages after a medical procedure. The boys suspect that the woman that's face is concealed is not really their mother. -CG (function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); zergnet.type = 'text/javascript'; zergnet.async = true; zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == "https:" ? "https:" : "http:") + '//www.zergnet.com/zerg.js?id=59239'; var znscr = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; znscr.parentNode.insertBefore(zergnet, znscr); })();

Movie Review: Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank

Posted By ScribblingGeek 4 days ago on Entertainment

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Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank Synopsis Earnest but simpleminded Hank heads to the land of cats to become a samurai, and promptly gets swept up by all sorts of flagitious feline machinations! Would the easygoing pooch manage to overcome racial prejudice, political conspiracies, and rampaging ninja cats to become a true swordsman? Would […]
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The Joke's On Us...Again: Joker Sequel Will Release For Halloween 2024

Posted By themoviesleuth 4 days ago on Entertainment

Image courtesy WB While DC and movie fans are still toiling over WB's decision to pull the plug on their Batgirl movie and numerous other upcoming titles, the sequel to 2019's hit Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix is moving full steam ahead. The part two that is tentatively titled Joker: Folie a Deux has the go ahead from the studio execs and will see Phoenix return to the role that will now move into musical territory. Many will argue that the film needs no sequel and stands as its own one off story. But, knowing how studios like money, it's no shock that they're going to milk this for all its worth, even as they abandon a $90 million project for a tax write off. It's been revealed today that the second Joker movie will now see a Halloween 2024 release date and is rumored to feature Lady Gaga as an alternative version of Harley Quinn. Todd Philips and Scott Silver are currently writing the sequel with Philips once again attached to direct. The 2019 Joker film went on to grossed over $1 billion in revenue and garnered two wins at the Academy Awards.-CG (function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); zergnet.type = 'text/javascript'; zergnet.async = true; zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == "https:" ? "https:" : "http:") + '//www.zergnet.com/zerg.js?id=59239'; var znscr = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; znscr.parentNode.insertBefore(zergnet, znscr); })();

Gold Ninja Video: Blood From a Stone: Skip Tracer (1977) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 5 days ago on Entertainment

Are you running late on your bills? Took out a loan that you can't pay back? Better be on the lookout for a "skip tracer" an individual who's sole paid purpose in life is to track you down and harass you until you cough up the funds. Zale R. Dalen's underrated indie film Skip Tracer (1977) follows Canadian debt collector John Collins (David Petersen) as he goes about the gritty business of finding people who are behind on their payments and scaring them into paying. John is so good at his job, in fact, that for the past four years he has won Man of the Year. He doesn't fuck around--he will show up at your house first thing in the morning and put up a "For Sale" sign, he will show up at your job and demand post-dated checks, or he will repossess a television while a child is still watching it. Without doing anything illegal, he will do everything in his power to make people who owe money miserable. The scary thing is that John enjoys his work.Early on in the film, John takes Brent Solverman (John Lazarus), a new hire, under his wings, but Brent doesn't seem to possess the sociopathic ability to turn off his emotions like John does and balks at some of his methods. This juxtaposition between John and Brent's ideologies makes up a large bulk of the film and John begins to have a different perspective on his career as a result. John gets accosted on a repo job and put into the hospital, which begins his path to a redemption arc of sorts. Canada was plagued by stagflation in the '70s and people did what they had to do to survive, even if that meant taking on loans they knew they couldn't repay. John has a black-and-white attitude towards these people, but he starts to see that there is more nuance and real lives at stake.Skip Tracer starts out pretty grounded but in the third act it starts getting off kilter as John starts getting a conscious and second thoughts. This is manifested by him having bizarre auditory hallucinations that consume him while he is trying to do his work. The sound design during these sequences is inspired and will have the audience wincing along with John. Eventually, he is faced with the morbid consequences of his constant badgering and it is here that the narrative takes a dark turn.It is apparent that the film was made with very little money, and this occasionally peeks through with moments of muffled dialogue, iffy acting, and lackluster set-pieces (or maybe Vancouver just looks like that). David Petersen carries the entire film with his ice-cold performance and proves his range by becoming vulnerable towards the end of the film. Skip Tracer is a tale of achieving class consciousness and embracing empathy for the common man, and the destruction that capitalism can wreak on people who are just trying to eke out an existence.GOLD NINJA VIDEO BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES *Commentary by Writer/Director Zale Dalen and The Important Cinema Club's Justin Decloux*No Derivative Crap: An Career-Retrospective Interview with Zale Dalen *What The Hell is Canadian Cinema?: A Video Primer *DEADLY BUSINESS: The complete VHS Version of SKIP TRACER, which is presented in Open Matte. *BONUS FEATURE FILM: Zale Dalen's unreleased PASSION.*Liner Notes by Justin Decloux --Michelle Kisner

Cult Cinema: Holocaust 2000 (1977) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 5 days ago on Entertainment

Courtesy of StudioCanalKirk Douglas is mostly remembered for being one of the original Hollywood movie stars getting his start in the 1940s before moving on up to the top ranks of the highest paid most respected actors of his time.  Working twice with Stanley Kubrick on Paths of Glory and Spartacus as well as Lust for Life and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea among the actor’s highlights, Kirk Douglas would be ranked by the American Film Institute as the 17th greatest male actor of Old Hollywood cinema. Usually a tough guy leading man with prowess and sex appeal, the 1970s however saw the then-aged performer trying his hand at more exploitative horror-oriented work.  Two science-fiction horror films which came out back-to-back made roughly around the same time featuring Douglas, Brian De Palma’s The Fury and Albert De Martino’s Holocaust 2000 aka The Chosen aka Rain of Fire, would change Douglas’ clean-cut image forever in favor of mixing Old Hollywood with violent and gory supernatural horrors. Rich industrial tycoon Robert Caine (Kirk Douglas) and his business-partner/son Angel (Simon Ward) are on the cusp of initiating an ambitious project with a proposed nuclear power plant installation in the midst of the Holy Land.  Though Caine and Angel (allegorical, no?) laugh off peace protests angry at the potentially humankind-ending atomic energy endeavor, their tune changes as close associates of the project start meeting brutal ends.  Over time, Robert Caine grows increasingly convinced the project itself might be a doorway to Hell and the antichrist itself as bodies continue to inexplicably fall. Though an out-and-out ripoff of Richard Donner’s The Omen, right down to its decapitations and skull smashing linked loosely to a demon child with an aged movie star (Gregory Peck in that film) trying desperately to stop the impending destruction he inadvertently jump started.  A British-Italian co-production with director Martino, Sergio Donati and Michael Robson co-writing the script, the multi-titled cash-in on The Omen winds up being one of the most underrated Italian knockoffs of a then-popular mainstream Hollywood picture.   Boasting a wild score by legendary composer Ennio Morricone, ornate Technovision cinematography (improperly open-matted for the US theatrical release) by The Cat o’ Nine Tails director of photography Erico Menczer and breathtaking editing from Zombie and Cannibal Holocaust editor Vincenzo Tomassi, Holocaust 2000 for being a knockoff is technically brilliant.  Visually stunning to look at with terrific prosthetic makeup effects by eventual Casino Royale vfx supervisor Gino De Rossi that forecast the effects he would do on Zombie and The City of the Living Dead, Holocaust 2000 from a purely filmmaking end is top notch stuff.  Easily one of the best overt carbon copies of a renowned Hollywood film made by Italy in the 1970s. Kirk Douglas is usually known for playing musclebound tough characters and seeing him more or less inhabit the Gregory Peck role from The Omen here is both jarring and startlingly effective.  Far more involving and compelling here than his role in De Palma’s subsequent The Fury, some of the film’s best scenes with Douglas come in abstract hallucinatory form such as a sexually charged demonic apocalyptic nightmare where Douglas imagines the gold metallic nuclear towards of his power plant coming out of the ocean as a series of demonic dragon heads.   The film boasts an overqualified bilingual cast including but not limited to David Lean actor Anthony Quayle as a chief scientist who balks at some of the more apocalyptic prophesizing about the power plant.  Veteran actress Virginia McKenna makes an unexpected appearance though aside from Douglas and his sexy reporter girlfriend Sara (Agostina Belli) who may know more than she leads on, the real scene stealer in this is Simon Ward as Caine’s bloodless golden boy prodigal son.  With his half-lit blank eyes and lack of emotion, he makes Caine’s son Angel peculiar, perhaps devious and conniving. Yes the film is pure apocalyptic world-ending exploitation with some deliciously gratuitously over the top death scenes contained therein with the great Kirk Douglas running around naked, getting entangled in a psych ward and dreaming of giant dragons rising from the water.  It is shameless in its aim to capitalize on then-trendy Hollywood films as well as the tropes governing them.  Still in the pantheon of Italian imitations of major Hollywood films, Holocaust 2000 is one of the most memorable and striking examples, sparking debate even over whether or not it has the strength to knock the film that clearly inspired it off of the podium.--Andrew Kotwicki (function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); zergnet.type = 'text/javascript'; zergnet.async = true; zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == "https:" ? 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