This Week’s Films (31/03/14)

Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet

This Girl’s Life (2003)This Girl's Life

Controversial drama from writer/director Ash. Juliette Marquis stars as Moon, an internet porn star who has complete control over her output and considers herself a liberated and empowered feminist. Despite the demands of her career, she cares for her terminally ill father (James Woods) and shares her philpsophy on life with her best friend Martine (Rosario Dawson), as well as her potential boyfriend Kip (Kip Pardue). But as she goes further in testing the boundaries of her social and moral codes, Moon’s world begins to unravel, and she is forced to confront the consequences of her actions.

Verdict: 4/10

Dream with the FishesDream with the Fishes (1997)

Terry is a suicidal voyeur who doesn’t seem to be able to kill himself. While preparing to jump off a bridge, he meets Nick who ends up saving his life and a special bond develops between the two. Stars David Arquette (Scream).

Verdict: 5/10

Redwoods (2009)Redwoods

Both original and incredibly romantic, Redwoods tells the story of an already-partnered man whose love is tested when a mysterious drifter passes through his small Northern California town. Everett (Brendan Bradley) and Miles (Tad Coughenour) are in a comfortably platonic relationship, which is held together by raising their son. While his family travels out of town, introverted Everett finally has time to himself that is until Chase (Matthew Montgomery), a striking writer, pulls up in front of his house. Shot amidst ancient Redwoods, David Lewis (Rock Haven) film is a stunning ode to the power of love. 

Verdict: 4/10

Jason Becker: Not Dead YetJason Becker: Not Dead Yet (2012)

The year is 1989, and 19-year old Jason Becker from Richmond, California has just been offered the biggest rock guitar job on the planet. He’s on the cover of every guitar magazine and is being hailed by critics as a genius and the next greatest rock guitarist in the world. Jason’s childhood dream of making and performing music has come true. One week from now, during an examination of his leg, Jason’s dream will turn into a nightmare when he is diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and given just 3-5 years to live. 23 years later, without the ability to move or to speak, Jason is alive and making music with his eyes.

Verdict: 9/10

Bringing Down the House (2003)Bringing Down the House

The hilarious Steve Martin (Father of the Bride) and Academy Award nominated Queen Latifah (Chicago) star in the blockbuster, laugh-out-loud comedy Bringing Down The House. Peter Sanderson (Martin), a divorced, straightlaced, uptight workaholic lawyer, meets a brainy. bombshell barrister in an online chatroom and they make a date. Expecting his soul mate, he opens the door and finds himself face to face with Charlene (Latifah) – a wild and crazy soul sister who’s just escaped from prison and wants Peter to clear her name. But Peter wants absolutely nothing to do with her, and that prompts Charlene to turn Peter’s perfectly ordered life totally upside down. Hysterical complications abound and Peter soon finds out he may need Charlene just as much as she needs him.

Verdict: 5/10

Still BreathingStill Breathing (1997)

This romantic fantasy from writer, director, and producer James F. Robinson, stars Brendan Fraser as Fletcher McBracken, a starry-eyed San Antonio puppeteer who, like his father and grandfather before him, has a mystical vision of the woman he’s fated to marry. Believing that she’ll be found in ‘Formosa’ (the one-time name of Taiwan), Fletcher books a flight. During a stopover in L.A., however, he learns of a trendy bar called Formosa and decides to check it out. Sure enough, Fletcher sees his dream girl, Rosalyn Willoughby (Joanna Going), a con artist on the lookout for a new mark, a millionaire from Texas. Assuming that Fletcher is the man she’s supposed to bilk, Rosalyn accompanies him to San Antonio, where she meets his tuba-playing grandmother (Celeste Holm) and his eccentric friends, including the Tree Man (Lou Rawls). Charmed against her will by Fletcher, Rosalyn considers a real romance with the daffy artist, but each of them has some revelations to make before a real relationship can begin.

Verdict: 5/10

Amazing Grace (2006)Amazing Grace

Period biopic based on the real life of British slavery abolitionist William Wilberforce. Director Michael Apted pays tribute, on the advent of the bicentennial of the abolition of slavery, with a loving biography of the man who, almost single-handedly, made it happen. Wilberforce’s is a story of Herculean courage and absolute dedication to compassion – the noblest cause. The film follows Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd) as a young parliamentarian in the late 1700’s with socialist ideals that sit poorly with the generally older crowd in government. He does, however, make one very important and lifelong friend in parliament – future Prime Minister William Pitt (Benedict Cumberbatch). Disgusted by what he sees around him in the homes of the privileged – African slaves treated as less than human – Wilbeforce grows to be a strong proponent of ending the trade entirely. He also takes counsel in an elderly clergyman, John Newton (Albert Finney) – writer of the eponymous hymn – who advises him to stick to his guns and abolish this vile business once and for all.

Verdict: 8/10

VirtualityVirtuality (2009)

Nothing is what it seems in this daring, futuristic movie event from legendary Director Peter Berg (Hancock) and Executive Producers Michael Taylor and Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica). Twelve extremely talented men and women have been chosen to be part of the Phaeton mission, a 10-year trek to explore a distant planetary system. In order to endure the stress of being confined to their high-tech vessel, the crew passes the time using advanced virtual reality modules that allow them to take on various identities. But as the ship approaches a critical phase of their journey, a deadly flaw is discovered in the virtual system, forcing them to question if someone onboard might be a killer. Starring Clea DuVall (Carnivále), Joy Bryant (Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins), Sienna Guillory (Eragon), Ritchie Coster (The Dark Knight) and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Firewall), it’s a dazzling trip to unexplored reaches of outer space and the inner imagination that Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune calls a “complex and intriguing film.”

Verdict: 6/10

Absolute Zero (2006)Absolute Zero

Climate change thriller starring Jeff Fahey as scientist David Koch, who has discovered evidence that it was a shift in the Earth’s polarity that triggered the last Ice Age – within just 24 hours. In 21st-century Miami, it’s about to happen again. The only chance David and his wife Bryn (Erika Eleniak) have is to hole themselves up in a special government ‘Absolute Zero’ chamber. But they have to reach it first…

Verdict: 3/10

Year of the DogYear of the Dog (2007)

Molly Shannon plays Peggy, a happy-go-lucky secretary who is a great friend, employee, and sister living alone with her beloved dog Pencil. But when Pencil unexpectedly dies, Peggy must find meaning in her life. John C. Reilly, Peter Sarsgaard, Regina King and Laura Dern turn in great comic performances as the significant people in Peggy’s life who give her ill-fitting advice.

Verdict: 7/10

The Color of Money (1986)The Color of Money

Legendary actor Paul Newman (MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE) and Academy Award(R)-nominee Tom Cruise (Best Actor, 1996, JERRY MAGUIRE) ignite the screen in this powerful drama. Brilliantly directed by Martin Scorsese (GANGS OF NEW YORK), Newman re-creates one of his most memorable roles from THE HUSTLER. As Fast Eddie Felson, he still believes that “money won is twice as sweet as money earned.” To prove his point, he forms a profitable yet volatile partnership with Vince (Cruise), a young pool hustler with a sexy, tough-talking girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, THE PERFECT STORM). But when Vince’s flashy arrogance leads to more than a few lost matches, all bets are off between Eddie and him. THE COLOR OF MONEY will electrify you with its suspenseful story, dazzling cinematography, and dynamic performances.

Verdict: 8/10

Hellraiser: DeaderHellraiser: Deader (2005)

A journalist faces a battle against the forces of evil in this, the seventh outing in the ‘Hellraiser’ franchise. After uncovering a shadowy group that can bring the dead back to life, investigative reporter Amy Klein (Kari Wuhrer) soon finds herself enmeshed in the group’s demonic activities whilst battling to keep control of her sanity.

Verdict: 2/10

The Notebook (2004)The Notebook

Behind every great love is a great story. Two teenagers from opposite sides of the tracks fall in love during one summer together, but are tragically forced apart. When they reunite 7 years later, their passionate romance is rekindled, forcing one of them to choose between true love and class order.

Verdict: 4/10

Grown UpsGrown Ups (2010)

Just because you grow older doesn’t mean you have to grow up! Comedy superstars Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider are at their hilarious and outrageous best playing childhood friends who reunite one holiday weekend to relive the good old days. It doesn’t matter that these five guys are now respectable businessmen, husbands and fathers. Once they get back together, nothing is going to stop these kids-at-heart from having the time of their adult lives. From the people who brought you Click, comes this hilarious and heartwarming film that proves men will be boys.

Verdict: 3/10

Species II (1998)Species II

Having just returned from a mission to Mars, Commander Ross (Justin Lazard) isn’t exactly himself. He’s slowly becoming a terrifying alien entity with a one track mindto procreate with human women! When countless women suffer gruesome deaths after bearing half-alien offspring, scientist Laura Baker (Marg Helgenberger) and hired assassin Press Lennox (Michael Madsen) use Eve (Henstridge), a more tempered alien clone, to find Ross and his virulent brood. But they underestimate Eve’s maternal drive, and before long she escapes to mate with Ross in order to create a purer and unstoppable race that could spell doom for mankind. As time is running out, the ultimate battle of human brain over alien brawn takes place in a chilling climax that puts Darwin’s theory to the ultimate test and only the strongest species will survive.

Verdict: 2/10

Black Snake MoanBlack Snake Moan (2006)

A blues guitarist abandoned by his wife tries to redeem the soul of a girl addicted to sex in a rural town.

Verdict: 8/10

Equilibrium (2002)Equilibrium

Cleric John Preston (Christian Bale) is a top government agent responsible for enforcing the law that bans emotion in the futuristic state of Libria. This is a world at peace, where war is a distant memory, and so is music, art and poetry. Here, emotion is illegal and is punishable by death. But when Preston is forced to kill one of his fellow agents he begins, however, to question the system and decides to fight against these cruel new laws.

Verdict: 6/10

The HunterThe Hunter (2011)

Martin David, a skilled and focused mercenary, is sent into the Tasmanian wilderness on a hunt for a tiger believed to be extinct. Hired by an anonymous company that wants the tiger’s genetic material, Martin arrives in Tasmania posing as a scientist. He proceeds to set up base camp at a broken-down farmhouse, where he stays with a family whose father has gone missing. Usually a loner, Martin becomes increasingly close to the family. However, as his attachment to the family grows, he is led down a path of unforeseen dangers, complicating his deadly mission.

Verdict: 8/10

Goemon (2009)Goemon

Crafted with over 2500 visual effects, the director of Casshern weaves action with Japanese history and folklore into a moving masterpiece evocative of the classic Robin Hood tale.

Once a lethal ninja, Goemon put down his sword to master the art of robbing the nobility to share the stash with the less fortunate. On one such escapade, he swipes an artifact that, if opened, will unleash misfortune of a massive scale. Hunted by an infamous henchman and former ally, Goemon tears a torrential path to assassinate the king. With a conscience clouded by conspiracy, Goemon struggles to save his friends—and an entire nation—from the grips of poverty and corruption.

Verdict: 8/10

Reservation RoadReservation Road (2007)

Academy Award nominee Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo and Academy Award winners Jennifer Connelly and Mira Sorvino deliver riveting performances in the gripping thriller Reservation Road. A powerful human story of anger, revenge and great courage, this film takes you on an intense journey that follows two fathers as their families and lives converge after the events of one fateful night. “Suspenseful, emotional and completely engrossing” (Pete Hammond, Maxim), Reservation Road is “a deft, satisfying thriller” (Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly).

Verdict: 6/10

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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