Captain America Civil War Review: An “Astoundingly Good” Film!

Sometimes, a movie really does fulfill all expectations. 

No matter how high those expectations may be.

Captain America: Civil War pic

And, according to Brian Hadsell of TV Overmind, Captain America: Civil War is one of those movies.

Referring to the blockbuster as “astoundingly good,” Hadsell went into further detail as follows:

We get Cap’s famous “Tree Beside the River of Truth” speech (or at least a version of it).  We get Hawk-Eye firing an arrow with a shrunken Ant-Man on it.  

We get the tragic certainty of two friends coming to blows over a moral stance that neither of them can back down from.

What else is the appeal of the movie?

Visit TV Overmind for the full Captain America: Civil War review now!

Movie Fanatic

Review: Eskil Vogt’s Magnificently Clear-Sighted ‘Blind’

Photo of Jessica Kiang Tue Sep 01 18:41:00 EDT 2015


This is a reprint of our review from the 2014 Berlin Film Festival.

There is something about the idea of using cinema, a visual medium, to explore the tragedy and terror of sudden blindness that makes Norwegian Eskil Vogt’s directorial debut “Blind” an intriguing prospect even on paper (Vogt previously collaborated as a writer with Joachim Trier). But it’s where he, and extraordinary lead actor Ellen Dorrit Petersen, take that premise, and how stylishly and wittily they do so, that makes the film which won the screenwriting prize in Sundance, one of the finds of our Berlin Film Festival. In fact, it’s a shame it was pushed into a crowded Forum sidebar lineup, when it was so easily superior to the majority of this year’s lackluster Competition titles. Compelling, clever and surprisingly warm despite its cool palette, the film is also a worthy addition to the canon of recent Scandinavian cinema, a region whose filmmaking output seems only to grow in self-confidence and distinctiveness, year on year.

READ MORE: Watch: Trailer For ‘Reprise’ And ‘Oslo, August 31st’ Writer Eskil Vogt’s Directorial Debut ‘Blind’

Ingrid (Petersen) has recently gone completely blind, but in her opening voiceover narration, over pictures of the streets and stores and restaurants of her life, tells us how hard she’s working in her mind to retain mental images, a process as involved as it is impossible to perfectly achieve: “no one can remember every detail of a building.” In the period since losing her sight, Ingrid has become reclusive, never leaving the apartment, one to which she and her husband Morten (Henrik Rafaelsen) moved after the event, so she has never seen the place in which she now spends all her time. In eerie early- moments, we get a glimpse of how frightening blindness could be, when Ingrid has the uncanny sense that Morten has only pretended to leave and is in fact sitting in the same room, silently watching her. But then we suddenly, jarringly cut to another story, still narrated by Ingrid, but focusing on Einar (Marius Kolbenstvedt, who engenders real empathy for a character who could just be a creep), a chronic masturbator and consumer of pornography whose intense loneliness leads him to start to spy on a pretty, blonde neighbor. The neighbor is single mother Elin (Vera Vitali), whose strand is the third story Ingrid narrates.


Motlys AS “Blind”

From the start, the film is artfully shot by “Dogtooth” and “Keep the Lights On” DP Thimios Bakatakis to evoke a slightly dreamy, fuzzy impression, often with small, odd parts of the frame in focus while everything else falls away, recalling Ingrid’s speech about trying to concentrate on details to build a picture of the whole. And at first the shifts from story to story are a puzzle to us, but soon, via a series of clever transitions between the characters — a yawn, a TV show, a glass of wine — and some odd tics that feel almost like glitches, as when the sex of Elin’s child changes mid-scene, or a conversation happens in a café that is sometimes a bus, we realize that Einar and Elin are figments of Ingrid’s imagination. They are a story she is writing, while alone all day in her ivory tower. But soon this “Stranger Than Fiction” premise becomes more complex, as Ingrid starts writing her husband Morten into the story, and as Elin stops being an autonomous character and starts taking on more and more of a proxy role for Ingrid herself. So, like anyone involved in the creative process, Ingrid exerts a godlike power over the characters she creates, having them say and do odd, sometimes amusing, sometimes insightful things, but soon the indignities she visits upon them become less broadly mischievous and more meaningful as their correlation to herself and her own situation is increasingly underlined.

READ MORE: Interview: Eskil Vogt Talks Award Winning ‘Blind,’ Working With Joachim Trier & The Blind-Woman-As-Victim Cliche

In fact, the drama that evolves between the fictional Einar, Elin and Morten is Ingrid’s way of contending with the issues that are dogging her and her marriage since a genetic disease took her sight. And so while real-life Morten gets increasingly frustrated with her withdrawal from society, helplessly believing she’s sitting home all day doing nothing, Ingrid is actually actively working through her grief, her fear, her sense of the injustice of her situation. With wit and not a little bravado, perhaps almost unconsciously, Ingrid is using all the resources of her lively, intelligent interior life to help her stop being someone who has lost their sight and can only look to the past, and to start contemplating a future as a blind person. She is learning how to be blind.


Along the way there are well-observed moments of pathos and humor that point out some of the quandaries, indignities and tragedies of blindness that a sighted person might not think of: not being able to clean up a spill; having to rely on someone else to tell you how your party dress looks; having your privacy compromised by a spoken-aloud text message conversation on a bus; even the sad, small, heartbreaking detail of having to ask a lover is he is smiling at your touch. The cumulative effect of these little insights is extremely moving, and stayed with us long after the film ended.

But really the arc of the story is one of reclamation; of a remarkable woman taking back her life and her sense of herself in the teeth of an affliction that could threaten to overwhelm her into despair. The imagined world she creates stops being a retreat from real life and starts to become her conduit back to it. “Do you really think I’d bring anyone else here?” admonishes fictional Morten gently in the restaurant they used to go to together, where previously Ingrid had set one of the imaginary instances of his infidelity. And no, we can’t, because as withdrawn and prickly as Ingrid has become, we have been privileged to spend time inside her head, and we’ve kind of fallen in love with her a bit — her self-criticism, her wisdom, and her wicked wit. This is a peculiarly beautiful film, with lingering sustain and the kind of hard-won optimism that feels truthful as well as hopeful. Stylish and engaging, and laying out a fine manifesto for the power of the imagination to bring us real-world catharsis, “Blind” is a magnificently clear-sighted film. [A-]

This article is related to: Eskil Vogt, Blind, Reviews, Review

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Did Quentin Tarantino Borrow Plot Elements From An Episode Of ‘The Rebels’ For ‘The Hateful Eight’?

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth Tue Sep 01 17:19:42 EDT 2015

The Hateful Eight

Here we go again. Anytime a new film by Quentin Tarantino surfaces, the hunt begins to find the various influences and elements he’s borrowed from other movies and television shows to put together his work. The filmmaker has always been candid about his influences, and is voluble on his inspirations. That said, Cowboys & Indians does point out some striking similarities between “The Hateful Eight” and a vintage TV series probably only your grandpa remembers watching.

**SPOILERS AHEAD** To start off with, the article’s author, Joe Leydon, wants to make it clear: “Please don’t misunderstand: We’re not accusing Quentin Tarantino of plagiarism.” He cites the long tradition of stories being “borrowed” and recycled, particularly during the days of ’50s and ’60s television. However, with that caveat out of the way, he points out the very, very close similarities between an episode of the short-lived, two season series “The Rebels,” and Tarantino’s upcoming western. Here’s a breakdown of the episode in question, “Fair Game”: 

READ MORE: Watch: First Gun-Toting, Blazing Trailer For Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight’

Scripted by Richard Newman, “Fair Game” — which premiered on March 27, 1960 — was one of 33 Rebel episodes directed by Irvin Kershner, who went on to direct such notable features as A Fine Madness, Loving, and a little sci-fi movie called The Empire Strikes Back. In this particular episode, Yuma winds up at the stagecoach station because of his horse’s untimely demise – the same reason why at least two characters in Tarantino’s script wind up at that story’s stagecoach station — and fortuitously is on hand when a stage arrives bearing a bounty hunter named Farnum (James Chandler) and his beautiful prisoner, accused murderer Cynthia Kenyon (Patricia Medina). Also on hand: Bert Pace (James Drury, later famous as TV’s The Virginian), a spiffily dressed stranger who says he’s on his way to Laredo, and an attendant (Michael Masters) who claims to be filling in for someone on sick leave.

The stage can’t leave until morning because “the country up ahead’s a mite rough,” and should be traversed only during daylight. (In Hateful Eight, the outbound journey is delayed by a blizzard.) So everyone will just have to wait until dawn. Provided they live that long.

And then somebody is poisoned.

The entire setting, the manner in which some of the characters are trapped in the way station, an accused murderer among them, and somebody dropping dead via poison….even if you believe in coincidences, it’s a rather remarkable number of similar plot points.

Tarantino has previously named “The Virginian,” “Bonanza,” and no shortage of western TV shows where the characters would be taken hostage as helping to shape his new film. It might be time to add “The Rebels” to the list of shows he names as having watched. All that said, as we know from his other movies, Tarantino may sample and borrow, but what he conjures is usually distinctly his own. Either way, we’d like to hear what you think, so hit up the comments section below. [via Hollywood Elsewhere]

This article is related to: The Hateful Eight, Hateful Eight

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Review: Chris Evans’ ‘Before We Go’ Starring Alice Eve Is Like Dating Someone Who Only Talks About Their Ex

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth Mon Aug 31 18:48:00 EDT 2015

Before We Go

The plight of the actor-turned-director is an unpredictable one. The desire to tell your own story, direct and write or star in it (or sometimes take on all of those roles) is a attractive lure, and can turn out very well. But as Ryan Gosling learned at Cannes earlier this year with “Lost River,” ambition, if not matched by execution, can come at a steep critical cost. So credit to Chris Evans for keeping his goals modest with his directorial debut “Before We Go,” but unfortunately he can’t clear the low bar he sets for himself with this strained romantic drama that struggles desperately to be engaging, charming or relatable.

READ MORE: Chris Evans On His Directorial Debut ‘Before We Go,’ Filming In New York, & ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’

Before We Go

Things kick off with a pretty decent meet cute: in a rush to grab the last train to Boston from Grand Central Station, Brooke (Alice Eve) drops and breaks her cell in front of busking jazz musician Nick (Chris Evans). She’s already gone before he can flag her down, but he gets another shot to return her mobile when, having missed the train, she comes back to the main terminal. It’s very late, and with the doors being closed for the night, both are forced outside. Sensing that she’s a bit adrift, Nick becomes the Captain America of chivalry, and upon learning her purse was stolen, which included her wallet and credit cards, he’s determined to help her get home. And so follows one night in Manhattan, with Brooke and Nick becoming drawn to each other, while harboring secret pains from their past, that will start being healed over the next few hours together.

Evans clearly aspires to make a breezy and relatable, Richard Linklater-esque walk-and-talk movie, but lacks the skills to make it feel natural. The script for the 89-minute film is somehow credited to four different writers (Ron Bass, Jen Smolka, Chris Shafer and Paul Vicknair) which might explain why the film feels so clumsy and leaden as it contrives to keep the more sensible solutions to get Brooke to Boston out of reach. Not only are her resources gone, but conveniently, Nick’s cell phone has just run out of power, one credit card is overdrawn, the other is expired, and he’s got a limited amount of cash in his wallet. But one thing he does have in spades is resourcefulness.

Before We Go

“I’ve got an idea,” Nick says a handful of times in the film. Eager to avoid a wedding reception where he’ll face an ex-girlfriend that’s still the love of his life, and with Brooke on a ticking clock to get back to Boston by 7 AM before her husband returns from a business trip at 8 AM (for reasons revealed later), Nick openly says he wants to be a hero and does everything he can, within his meagre means, to make that happen. But it really leads to a series of not very amusing or appealing misadventures, designed to force Nick and Brooke to face the problems they are trying to put behind them or ignore, while also realizing the future may lie with each other.

Before Sunrise” is an obvious touchstone and influence on “Before We Go,” right down to a running device involving pretend phone calls (except Nick and Brooke call their past selves), but it severely lacks that film’s heart and soul. What made Linklater’s film(s) work so well, and the characters feel so real, was that we learned everything about them. Celine and Jesse’s journey through Vienna was partially about escaping their respective breakups, but their discussions centered on all the things people connect over—love, life, religion, philosophy—and made them complex, compelling people you wanted to spend time with and know more about. By contrast, Brooke and Nick are not even half as interesting. “Before We Go” is like going on a date with someone who only talks about their ex; indeed, much of Brooke and Nick’s time together is spent focused on people who have hurt them, so when we’re supposed to believe during the third act that they are being drawn to each other, it’s a bit mysterious why they find each other interesting, beyond having a mutual shoulder to cry on. Their passions, motivations, dreams and thoughts never surface to help suggest why there is something more to their brief nighttime odyssey.

Before We Go

READ MORE: Berlin Interview: Richard Linklater Talks Making ‘Before Midnight’ & The 14-Minute-Long Shot

But one thing they do talk about a lot is love and fate, fighting for love and finding love. And it’s here where the movie, without spoiling anything, is curiously old-fashioned. Brooke in particular comes to a conclusion about what she needs to do about her marriage that is not the empowering or romantic notion the screenwriters might think it is, but that may also be because the details of what’s happening between her and her husband are also both cliché and underdeveloped. 

Meanwhile, when the script isn’t working, Evans turns towards the soundtrack and leans on indie rock when he can (and when the low-budget picture can afford it) to attempt to do some of the emotional lifting. But when those cuts includes overused or outdated choices like “Song For Zula” by Phosphorescent (see also “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and “The Spectacular Now“) and Bloc Party‘s “So Here We Are” (used on “One Tree Hill” twice, Katherine Heigl‘s “27 Dresses“), not to mention a closing credit song by omnipresent soundtrack emotional shorthand Bon Iver. And it’s even more frustrating because the snatches of score by Chris Westlake, when used, are actually quite good and more effective than the safe indie rock selections.

Before We Go

The final indignity committed by “Before We Go” is setting a movie in Manhattan that looks like it could’ve taken place anywhere. For a city that is alive late at night like no other, and offers endless possibilities for unique places for these characters to go, the screenwriters and Evans (perhaps due to budgetary reasons) keep most of the action on anonymous streets, and even less familiar bars (though hey, Cup And Saucer). We’re not sure who was doing the second unit work, but someone should’ve provided them with a tripod as the shots of the New York City skyline look mistakenly shaky, and we’re pretty certain it had nothing to do with the digital projection.

If there is anything Chris Evans can take away from “Before We Go,” it would be to treat the film as a tremendous learning experience. Making a good film requires more than simply aping the structure and superficial qualities of better movies, and that there is much to be learned by digging deeper into the technical and emotional mechanics of what makes them work. Otherwise, you end up with an effort like this: a movie so firmly convinced it has all the moving parts, it never investigates whether they work well together. While Nick and Brooke might walk away from the evening wondering if those few hours together stoked something that’s real, for the audience, those 89 minutes will feel like an eternity that they’ll be ready to be divorced from. [D]

This is a reprint of our review from the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.

Before We Go

Before We Go

Before We Go

Before We Go

Before We Go

Before We Go

Before We Go

Before We Go

Before We Go

Before We Go

This article is related to: Before We Go, Chris Evans, Alice Eve, Reviews, Review

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9 Memorable Wes Craven Movies

Wes Craven had an incredible body of work, most notably in the horror genre and with thrillers. This exercise also pulled out a surprise in which he directed Meryl Streep in an Academy Award nominated performance. What were some of his more notable movies?

Take a look at what we've come up with and share your memories of the writer, director and producer in the comments!

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street

A nightmare on elm street
A Nightmare on Elm Street is probably Craven’s most notable work, as he wrote and directed the classic that would span many sequels. It also made any of us who watched it question our nightmares — those we have while asleep and awake. Do we ever know what’s real?

2. The Last House on the Left

The last house on the left
The first move that Craven wrote and directed, his first feature ever, was The Last House on the Left. It was a horrific look at two young girls who are brutally tortured and murdered on what was to be a fun night out at a concert. He later went on to produce a remake. Isn’t the original movie poster great?

3. The Hills Have Eyes

The hills have eyes
Another film written and directed by Craven, The Hills Have Eyes was a monsterous affair of a family trapped in the desert and hunted like animals by misshapen oddities. Do any of them make it out alive? Well, the oddities do, for sure, to go on to The Hills Have Eyes Part 2!

4. Swamp Thing

Swamp thing
This comic adaptation was atrocious, in the cheesiest and best way possible. Slap Adrienne Barbeau into a movie, rip off her shirt and pair her with a fellow adapting to life in a swamp after being changed by a chemical spill and you have success written all over it. What? No? Well, people likely still know of it, so that’s success enough.

5. Music of the Heart

Music of the heart
What? A regular drama starring Meryl Streep? Yep. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role and that wasn’t the only Oscar nomination for the movie, either. It was also up for Best Song. Did you know Wes Craven directed such a flick? I sure didn’t and it puts a whole new spin on his body of work. What a surprising standout.

6. The People Under the Stairs

The people under the stairs
This is another movie that probably only comes up when you’re teasing kids. Most of us probably haven’t even seen it, but the idea of people under the stairs? Yes, it’s frightening and from the mind of Wes Craven. This one has a funny side to it and stars children, so it’s something a little different. Check it out!

View Slideshow

Movie Fanatic

Blood Moon Review: Werewolf Western Making its Digital/DVD Debut on September 1st

Here is the official synopsis for Blood Moon:

1887. Colorado. A deserted town lit by the glow of a reddish full moon. A stagecoach full of passengers and an enigmatic gunslinger find themselves prisoners of two outlaws on the run. As the travelers attempt to outwit the outlaws it becomes apparent that a bigger menace lurks outside; a beast that only appears on the night of a blood red moon.

Shaun Dooley as Calhoun in Blood Moon

Blood Moon attempts to take two disparate genres – the Western and the werewolf horror flick – and meld them together, ostensibly with the hope that a new setting for a classic scary story will put a fresh spin on things. Instead, the elements of the two never fully cohere, leaving us with a movie that only does half of each thing it’s aiming to do.

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To quickly sum up the rather formulaic set-up of the film: two dimwitted bank-robbers/murderers, brothers Jeb and Hank Norton, are pursued by Wade, the local lawman, who is begrudgingly accompanied on his quest by a Native American woman, Black Deer. The Norton brothers manage to overtake and hold hostage a group of strangers who were traveling together by coach, and who are now stuck holed up with the bandits in an abandoned saloon.

The strangers in the coach include newlyweds lawman Jake and his wife Sarah, mysterious gunslinger Calhoun, widowed Mrs. Marie Cooper, and baby-faced English newsman Henry. Tensions rise as the group is circled by a mysterious creature – a Skinwalker, who has transformed into a ravenous wolf-man creature.

Blood Moon is certainly ambitious, and it does have its share of fun moments. The film, by UK-based director Jeremy Wooding, features a largely British cast, and many of them do an admirable job of mimicking the recognizable Old West manner of speaking. Shaun Dooley, as the mysterious gunslinger Calhoun, for one, does a believable job with his accent. Others do a… less believable job, to put it mildly. A few seem to altogether give up on any adherence to the distinctive twang by the movie’s final third.

Several of the cast also do a very good job with the rather underdeveloped characters they are assigned. I’m thinking in particular of Dooley, again, as well as Anna Skellern as Mrs. Marie Cooper, the ballsy widowed saloon owner who’s quick on her feet and brandishes a very tiny pistol. The sporadic romantic tension between the two, while oddly-timed given the life-or-death goings-on occurring around them for the actual entirety of the film, is definitely a high point for me.

The movie is short; at under 90 minutes, it is understandable that many of the rather large cast do not get a chance at organic character development. Organic plot development, too, is often thrown to the wayside in favor of expository, often wooden dialogue.

Most noticeably, at times the ensemble cast seems just slightly too large – unwieldy, if we’re being completely honest. Jeb and Hank, as one conjoined example, are nigh-unbearably stupid. Granted, this provided a few moments of light-hearted amusement (such as Marie giving Hank a hard time about his very prominent spitting habit), but by and large they are too annoying to seem like much of a legitimate threat. Several of the stagecoach folks are dispatched of so quickly that I have to wonder why they were even in the movie and identified by name to begin with.

The entire subplot with Wade (Jake-the-Lawman’s equally lawful cousin) and Black Deer (the brash, alcoholic Native American woman accompanying him) seems completely off and out of place within the film. Wade (aside from being Jake’s cousin) is irrelevant to the rest of the plot, and the fact that he doesn’t interact with any of the rest of the principal cast until the last 15 or so minutes of the film certainly doesn’t help integrate the two simultaneously occurring stories.

The Wade and Black Deer asides just seem like wastes of time in an already short film. Black Deer is a caricature of a character and the “twist” involving her is oddly shoehorned into the film, with no larger ramifications or follow-up. It’s just a throwaway. Wade’s hero moment at the end is completely ridiculous and unbelievable. Also, he is a bit of a moron (offhandedly declaring Calhoun dead when the man was barely even knocked out? What was that?)

As I mentioned before, there were certainly some bright moments within the film. The dialogue and character interplay is at its best when a little silly (on purpose). A few legitimate jump-scares, including the guns-ablaze introduction of the Norton brothers to the stagecoach crew, occur early on in the film.

Once the beast is revealed fully on-screen, however, the whole thing kind of falls apart. The Skinwalker costume is patently awful and since the film is played completely straight, the awkwardly terrible costuming for the creature wrecks any legitimate fear that might have built up in the opening half of the film, when the werewolf lurks but doesn’t appear on-screen.

The few decently creepy monster moments all occur when the beast is obscured; it is far more effectively scary when it simply can’t be seen. The early-on werewolf POV shot, for instance, is pretty cool – angling the camera so we are seeing “through” the monster’s eyes, paired with the low growling sound effect, was an interesting, unique choice.

All in all, the film is largely rote and predictable but worth a one-time watch – just don’t go into it expecting legitimate scares or unique plot points.

Blood Moon is out on DVD and all digital platforms on September 1, 2015.

Official Blood Moon Poster

Movie Fanatic

Horror Writer, Producer, Director Wes Craven Dead at 76

Wes Craven, prolific horror writer, producer and director passed away at the age of 76 in Los Angeles after a battle with brain cancer.

Wes Craven

Mr. Craven is best known for writing the Nightmare on Elm Street series, but his career as a writer began in 1972 with The Last House on the Left, a tingling thriller where two young girls’s night out to a concert ends in terrifying torture and murder. He also produced the 2009 remake of The Last House on the Left in 2009.

Craven went on to direct the Scream franchise and was currently an executive producer on the Scream TV series on MTV.

Movie Fanatic