New Artists Alliance, Snowfort Pictures,

Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, Sara Paxton, David Koechner, Amanda Fuller, Laura Covelli

Two friends, Craig Daniels (Pat Healy), a broke husband who is about to be evicted from his home, and Vince (Ethan Embry) run to each other in a bar. Craig has just lost his job and is delaying going home to face his wife. The two are exchanging stories when the meet an enormously rich couple, Colin (David Koechner) and his girlfriend Violet (Sara Paxton) who is celebrating her birthday. Colin keeps making bets with Craig and Vince to do stupid things for large amounts of cash, and they get into trying to outdo each other. Later they go home with Violet and Colin where the dares get stranger and more violent and more and more degrading. How much abuse can a person tolerate before they break?

This is a very dark movie. I mean, this could really gross out the strongest dark drama fan! There are really bad things shown here as things escalate and escalate. But though it is very far off the mainstream in terms of dark and disgusting, still it was a very interesting character study. Why would anyone do this, and what is Violet’s role in the process. She is a voyeur for the most part, but does nothing to stop it or say that it’s over the top. Is she down with it, or is she disgusted too? We don’t know. There seem to be people like Colin around, but we have no idea where he got his money to burn or why it’s so worthless to him. And what would make him want to torture somebody. But no doubt this is a story of Craig who is the main focus of the story. He wants to stop, but what is it that keeps him going? Is it only the financial problems? Or is there more behind his actions? Many of the questions won’t be answered, but if you’re up for taking on the gross and gore of cut off appendages and the like, then it is a very interesting character study and an intense movie. Just keep in mind that dark doesn’t even touch how awful the actions in this film are to watch, so beware if you’re easily offended!

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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New Artists Alliance, Three Cups, Caliber Media Company,

Robin Thicke, Jaime Pressly, Joey Lauren Adams, Frances Conroy

Abby (Jaime Pressly) is a master chef who has just earned the job of her dreams, when she accidentally cuts her hand in the kitchen and loses the opportunity. Now able to work, she finds she has a lot of free time which she doesn’t like very much. With all the spare time, she comes to realize that her marriage that she thought was very solid is really rather boring. An accidental run in with her ex, Shaun (Robin Thicke) whom she left without even saying goodbye brings home the memories of the excitement life with Shaun used to have, and Shaun sure wants her back. But she’s not really willing to give up the life she has, or is she? She has to evaluate where her values will lead her and the consequences of her choices, in this relationship drama.

I would not put this film in the comedy category, though much of it is fairly light and there are some funny moments. But a small film like this takes the time to develop the characters and pays attention to the plot. It is well written. In a special feature on the DVD there is an interview with the writer-director Jimbo Lee, who admits that this is a lot about what he has experienced in life. With a sweetheart who left him suddenly without any warning that he has never seen again, he was pondering what would happen if she suddenly reappeared in his life and what it would be like. He used that for the core of this story. It’s frank, and it’s honest, and it’s truly painful to watch a lot of the time. Like the type of movie this is, it’s not big or flashy. The background is simple and all the effort is put in the characters. If found it interesting on many levels, but I was not blown away. I found it hard to feel for Jaime Pressly and her attitude throughout just made me feel like she deserved what she got. She plays the role well enough, but I just didn’t build the interest in her character enough to really care what happened. And unfortunately Robin Thicke didn’t pull off the lovesick and hurt ex-lover who was spurned and he just didn’t understand. Instead he comes off as smug and conniving which isn’t the way I think it should have been done. I think these two casting mistakes sunk the film and kept it from being as good as it had potential to be. For this reason, I would have to give this film a half-hearted recommendation. It was an opportunity missed, I’m afraid.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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New Artists Alliance,

Brandon Routh, Caity Lotz, Ben Feldman, Dane Cook, Tom Cavanagh, Grant Bowler, Sally Pressman, Fernanda Romero, Dominic Bogart

As this movie begins, the base commander is holding a press conference to explain a 400 day mission that a select group of astronauts are about undertake in a buried mock up of a space ship underground. To assess the effects of being trapped in a tiny cylinder simulating deep space with no chance to get out, the group sets out to complete the mission. But it’s a difficult mental and physical experience and it brings a number of surprises. To fully test the crew a series of surprise tests is thrown at them in the way of mock failures and they are tested on their ability to cope and solve solutions sometimes without the help of mission control. But when they suddenly lose connection with the outside, tension grows as they wonder if this is really a test, or is it something much more catastrophic.

This, like any concept film, has its lovers and its haters. I really enjoyed the film, but did not get sucked into the tale, but took it much more cerebral in thinking about the effects of what they were portraying. The haters hate this movie because it offers no resolution, and I don’t mean a cliff-hanger ending. What I mean is that we’re not told what really happened. There are major issues between some of the characters that could be just a dream, or just mental health issues, or it could be a simulation for real, and the ending could have happened or been an elaborate setup. Expecting a resolution you get none, and you have to think your way through it. I think I know what I believe, but I’m not sure that I am right, but I have worked my way through the film, and appreciate the attempt to make this open ended and to allow you to interpret. There have been a few good films like this. Now, I must admit, usually I hate movies that don’t have a point, and just end. Sometimes it drives me crazy. But this time I found it much better that it allowed you to figure out what you will. It presents what it shows, and no interpretation follows. There is a lot of clues, such as the very ending frames of the picture, but those can be interpreted a number of different ways. The haters blame the writer and director for being lazy and not resolving the film, or give us enough clues to know what he intended. But perhaps these folks are being lazy in waiting for someone to tell them a story with a nice surprise ending that wraps it all up. To be honest I enjoyed the experience of not knowing what it really was. I also enjoyed reading the 3 or 4 or more major theories on what it all means. It’s an interactive movie that you have homework to do after it’s over. The story is not in the actors, nor is it in the presentation or the dialog. It’s not in the sets. It’s all there for you to absorb, but the point of the story is in your mind, and there’s time for you to work it out after it’s over. I’m ready to watch this one again.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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