Movie Review: UNSANE

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unsaneFingerprint Releasing / 20th Century Fox
2018
R

“My job is to access and interpret data to produce analytical results. I did that job. Taking your frustration out on me will not alter the results. You’re quite within your rights to take your business to another bank. Another analyst may interpret the data more to your liking. But they’d be doing a bad job.”

Usually, whenever I hear about a movie with a gimmick selling point like “shot entirely on the director’s cell phone!”, I think it’s some young upstart that’s trying to squeeze the most out of whatever resources their budget would allow. It’s a novel way to try and get one’s foot in the door, for sure. However, in the case of Unsane, this is a case of a well-established director deciding to experiment. This director in question happens to be Steven Soderbergh, director of such notable films as Sex, Lies & Videotape, the Ocean’s 11 remake and its sequels, Erin Brockovich, The Hunger Games, and a bunch of other flicks you may have heard of. As a matter of fact, the previous year Logan Lucky was getting a bit of a buzz when Unsane was released to theaters.

In Unsane, we follow an office worker named Sawyer who is trying to build a new life for herself trying to escape a stalker. As a result, she has some unfortunate PTSD issues when she tries to get back into dating; however, while visiting with a counselor at the Highland Creek Behavioral Center, she inadvertently signs a release form that voluntarily commits her to a 24-hour observational stay. Of course, no one there takes her claims of being not crazy seriously, and after a physical altercation with one of the inmates as well as a staff member, her stay is lengthened to seven days. Over the course of the week, she keeps trying to convince everyone that she’s not really crazy, while claiming that her stalker is now one of the nurses on the ward. Is she slowly going insane, or is there really a stalker after her, manipulating things? SPOILERS: The answer is yes.

As a movie, Unsane is a pretty decent psychological chiller, that’s very well acted with a fairly engaging story. The decision to go with filming this entirely on an iPhone 7 actually contributes to the claustrophobic and maddening atmosphere of Sawyer’s decent into psychological breakdown. Of course, like a lot of movies with a premise like this, the story loses a bit of steam in the final act when it decides to go the “She was never insane all along!” route. That’s not to say that it ruined the movie; I’m just more of a fan of the ambiguous “are they mad, or was this real?” type of resolution in horror thriller movies.

Overall, Unsane is a pretty good slow-burn psychological thriller. Really, they could have just downplayed the whole “shot on an iPhone” aspect, or even left it out of the promotional bits all together, because really, it may have been more of a disservice to the perception of quality. That was kind of the reason why I passed on watching this in the theaters back when it was out. However, I do recommend giving Unsane a watch some time.

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Movies+Beer: JOHN WICK 3

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Join with Exalted Geeks Brian, Jacob, James Classic and some other guy as they discuss the newest John Wick movie…does it hold up to the other movies? Plus, Brian has some words about this season of Game Of Thrones, and a bit on the upcoming movies on the docket…

Songs That Suck: “KOKOMO” (The Beach Boys)

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songs that suck heading
kokomo
“KOKOMO”
The Beach Boys
Elektra Records
1988
[from the Cocktail Soundtrack]

Oh, yeah. I’m definitely going to be getting some angry responses from former junior high chums on this one. Among others, I’m sure. But, believe me when I say, I do this not to just troll any fan of this song, whoever you may be. I do this because I can’t even bring myself to pretend that “Kokomo” is even close to a good song any longer. I’ve remained quiet long enough.

Full Disclosure: While I’m not a fan of the Beach Boys, I grew up listening to them via my parents and school friends who loved them. I do enjoy a good Beach Boys song; I also have grown to really appreicate the genius that is Brian Wilson, and recognize that without his production skills and creativeness on the song “Good Vibrations” and the album Pet Sounds, we wouldn’t have the Sgt. Pepper’s album. Seriously, go look it up.

With that in mind, that is the exact reason why I consider “Kokomo” to be second-rate Jimmy Buffet fodder, rather than a throwback classic, as many others seem to think. Brian Wilson had not been part of the band for a number of years, and boy does it show here. It probably didn’t help that the only other thing that they were known for in the 80s was their collaboration with the Fat Boys on the song “Wipe Out”, and a later appearance on the TGIF-staple Full House sealed their fate as a washed-up nostalgia act. Meanwhile, we still have to endure “Kokomo” popping up randomly, necessitating much work to keep this from infecting the brain to mush.

Vinyl Confessions: MULLET ROCK

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Some good classic hard rock from an era most refer to as “hair rock”, “butt rock” and “dad rock”, but I lovingly refer to as “mullet rock”. As someone who had more than one mullet in his teenage years (and Recovering Adolescent years), I wear that as a badge. Anyway, here are the ones in my collection thus far…
acdc - dirty deeds done dirt cheep
AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheep
Obviously the American release version, with that cover and track listing. This is a bluesy hard rock classic, with several cuts that just lends itself to the format it’s printed on. The title track, “Rocker”, “Problem Child”, “Ride On”, and let’s not forget the middle school boy giggle-fest that is “Big Balls”…
acdc - for those about to rock
AC/DC – For Those About To Rock
This is the album that had to follow the juggernaut that was Back In Black (wondering why I don’t have that one on vinyl yet? So am I…looking to rectify that). This is still a solid album, though there’s really only two that are immediately recognizable as AC/DC classics: the title track, and “Let’s Get It Up”. Otherwise, there are some good rocking deeper cuts on this…
acdc - fly on the wall
AC/DC – Fly On The Wall
At this point, I’m pretty sure the band knew they weren’t going to hit the heights that was Back In Black, but they were okay with that. This one has some good cuts on here, including the title track, “Sink The Pink” and “Shake Your Foundations”; this is probably when the phrase “It’s an AC/DC album” was sufficient to describe any release of theirs at this point in the game…
sammy hagar - voa
SAMMY HAGAR – V.O.A.
I’m not a fan of Sammy Hagar. I am a listener of Sammy Hagar, though; meaning, I’m familiar with the hits he’s written. I’ve never owned an actual full album…well, I take that back. There was the low-budget live album on cassette that I never listened to. But, I got this particular album because I kept seeing it at the shop for months, just sitting there, forlorn and lonely, like a homeless kitty at a shelter. So…yeah, I gave it a good home. Also, there is the first track, “I Can’t Drive 55″…
ANTHRAX -- I'm the man
ANTHRAX – I’m The Man
Okay, so, not technically falling under the proper “Mullet Rock” tag, but as of this writing, this was the closest thing to fitting in with the others in my collection. Decent enough EP, though the live cuts are a bit on the thin side production-wise…

Movie Review: The SAND (Blood Sand)

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sand, theMonarch Home Video
2015
TV-14

“This is worse than the woman with the horseshoe crab up her ass.”

If ever there was a quote directly from this movie that encapsulates perfectly the kind of watching experience The Sand was, I would be hard pressed to find anything more on-the-nose than that one. Which is uttered by one Jamie Kennedy, who seemed equally annoyed as he was mystified that he is in this movie. And he was in Son Of The Mask. But, I digress.

I admit, it’s been a while since I’ve viewed a movie of this…caliber. I’ve gone through dry spells where I didn’t really want to watch cheesy B-grade movies, more out of apathy than any kind of shift of taste. The Sand (aka “Blood Sand”, because having multiple working titles is an indication of quality) was one that was, believe it or not, recommended to me by a lovely couple at my church who watched this and immediately thought of me. I’m assuming, actually, but this is something that I would go for. Unfortunately, I was still kinda going through a low ebb in my manic depression, and while I stuck it on my watchlist, I kept coming up with excuses not to watch The Sand. Or do much of anything other than sit and stare at the darkness surrounding me. Such is the nature of depression and all.

Before we begin with this antacid flashback, I want to throw in here that, with a bit of research to the background of this movie, it appears that, besides Blood Sand, there was also some early versions using Killer Beach as the title of the movie. Lovely. Probably would have went with that one, personally, but here we are.

*sigh* Let’s just get the rundown out of the way; I’m already spending too much time dwelling on this flick…

After a raging party on a secluded beach (the flashback of which is shown in Smartphone Video Vision), eight of the remaining partygoers wake up the next morning to find out that if they step on the sand, tendrils whip out and drag them under, eating anything delicious and meaty: Birds, hotdogs, humans. These eight were spared initially because they happened to pass out during the party on things that kept them from touching the sand itself: a picnic table, a convertible car, the lifeguard tower, a garbage can. It’s a situation worthy of inclusion in a Stephen King short story collection. Anyway, after a handful of the survivors, and a persnickety beach patrol guy that’s played by the aforementioned Jamie Kennedy (the only actual acting talent in this whole thing) get eaten by whatever it is that’s lurking in the sand, things are starting to look bleak…and whatever that thing is under the sand seems to be getting bigger…

As modern B-movies go, I have to admit that The Sand wasn’t as painful as I was expecting it to be. Don’t get me wrong; this is a movie that is firmly in the Hilarious For All The Wrong Reasons style of horror flick. The opening scenes do a fairly decent job setting up the plot of the movie, and I understand when we’re dealing with a low budget movie like this, keeping things in one location is one of the ways to keep within the budget.

The problem here is that there’s not enough plot to propel The Sand to a full-length running time. The premise lends itself to a good tight 30- to 45-minute short film; to pad this one out, there’s a lot of arbitrary “tension” scenes, usually involving playing a rousing game of The Floor Is Lava (and just as exciting as watching a game like that in real life), and oh, there’s also a love triangle subplot that is shoehorned in so badly that it grinds the momentum of the plot itself to a halt to remind the viewers that these are people you should totes care for, instead of being a cast of chowderheaded dudebro alpha males and whipped-cream-for-brains scantily clad females that you’ll be rooting to die horribly pretty much from the get-go. Really, the only two salvageable characters here are Jamie Kennedy’s character (of course), because he voices the frustration of the viewers as a surrogate, and the token fat guy who spends the majority of the run time stuck in a garbage can with a dick drawn on his face. I can relate to his pain. Also, he has the best final line before being eaten by the sand monster thing.

Overall, while I don’t hate myself for having watched The Sand (I did get a lot of laughs from this, after all), this VOD offering falls short of the So Bad It’s Good status that affords a recommendation for all to watch more than once. A good once-over for a nice goofy Midnight Flick night, but really that’s all there is to this movie.

Movies+Beer Pubcast: DETECTIVE PIKACHU

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detective pikachu

James is joined by Brian, Andrea, Jacob, Everett and Sarah to discuss the live-action Pokemon movie, Detective Pikachu. Was it good? Was it merely fan wankery? Do the Exalted Geeks go down several rabbit trails during the discussion of the movie? Listen in and find out…

Songs That Suck: “NOTHIN’S GONNA CHANGE MY LOVE FOR YOU” (Glenn Medeiros)

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songs that suck heading
nothins gonna change my love for you
“NOTHING’S GONNA CHANGE MY LOVE FOR YOU”
Glenn Medeiros
Amherst
1987
[from Glenn Medeiros

Okay, so this is technically a cover song. The original version of “Nothin’s Gonna Change My Love For You” was done by R&B singer/guitarist George Benson back in 1985. However, I’m not familiar with that original version, or of Mr. Benson’s work; it is the Glenn Medeiros version that I keep hearing in the most inopportune places, and that’s why I’ve included this as a Song That very much Sucks.

And before you ask, yes I am aware of the Nick Carter version. But, I neither have heard that version, nor care about that one. Or Nick Carter’s music. But, I digress.

I remember exactly where I was when I first heard “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You”: I was on the school bus, on the 45-minute ride back home. The radio on the bus was tuned to the popular Top 40 station, and this song came on. Even at the tender age of 13, when my music tastes were still more or less dictated by what’s on heavy rotation on the radio, this song was just horrible. I’d heard my fair share of Adult Contemporary pop before, but my reaction had never been this kind of vehement. It was beyond sappy. It sounded like the kind of song a teenager would sing at the Congregational Church for his grandmother.

And that was kind of close to the truth. The guy who did this cover version, Glenn Medeiros, was 16 when he recorded the song after winning a local radio talent contest in Hawaii.It was one of those small, locally released on an independent label kind of things, like the kind you do at a karaoke booth to give out to your friends and family. But, because a visiting radio exec from Phoenix, Arizona happened to hear the song on the local radio there, the single made it’s way back to the mainland and went national. Thanks, guy.

But, you know what’s worse than listening to this AC dreck? Watching the accompanying video that was made. It’s essentially Medeiros walking around on a beach, with a girl in a pink dress. The same kind of visuals used for herpes medication advertisements during daytime television.

The thing is, as dry heave-inducing as this song is, it won’t seem to go away. Just like herpes, it seems to pop up in the most unusual and inopportune times, usually when shopping at a department store, or sitting in a hospital waiting room, or having come on whatever soap opera is playing when visiting Grandma and she’s watching her stories. And each time I want to run away screaming.

::END TRANSMISSION::

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