Concert Photo Recap – Ke$ha at Wolf Trap

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Last Monday night, Ke$ha performed at Wolf Trap here in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area and Reel Film News was on hand to capture the night’s event for everyone to see.  We’ve got some great photos for you to check out!

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Lionel Richie to perform live at the Patriot Center Sept. 25

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Multi-platinum selling artist, five-time Grammy winner, and icon of music, Lionel Richie announced his North American “All the Hits All Night Long” tour. On the heels of an electrifying sold-out European tour, Richie will kick-off the hit-filled shows September 18 in Hollywood, FL and travel across North America to cities including Boston, Atlanta, Houston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Mexico City stopping at legendary venues such LA’s famed Hollywood Bowl, Chicago’s United Center, the newly-minted Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York and the historic Austin City Limits Festival. Richie will also perform live at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va. on September 25.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Hangover Part III

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Sitting through the “Hangover” sequels has been like helplessly watching from a remote satellite feed while someone vandalizes my car.

The 2009 mega-hit original was something of an anomaly, at least as far as box office-topping comedies go. Why? Because it was actually funny, particularly amidst the proliferation of  disposable “gross-out” fare at the time. But something that was once great has been dismantled and sold for scrap – inevitable, I suppose, in Hollywood.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Iceman

The-IcemanYou might recognize Michael Shannon as the psychotic super-villain General Zod in the trailer for Zack Snyder’s upcoming Superman reboot “Man of Steel”, but if you haven’t seen films like William Friedkin’s “Bug”, Jeff Nichols’ “Take Shelter” and Ariel Vromen’s “The Iceman”, you probably have no idea what you’re in for. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: The Iceman”

MOVIE REVIEW: Stories We Tell

100095_galI’m not sure what I expected from “Stories We Tell”, and apparently neither did director Sarah Polley when she set out to make it. Ostensibly a chronicle for some personal archive that might one day resurface in a time capsule for the great grandkids to appreciate, this documentary cum cathartic autobiography turns out to be as revelatory to the director as it is to the audience, if not so deeply personal that you probably won’t get most of the Polley family’s idiosyncrasies. Of course, this winds up being a big part of the film’s charm –  no airs and graces are put on for the camera, and I imagine that the editing room floor remained relatively uncluttered. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Stories We Tell”

MOVIE REVIEW: KISS OF THE DAMNED

kissofthedamned2If Xan Cassavetes gets one thing absolutely right in her feature debut, it’s the tone of an authentic 1970’s European horror film.  

Kiss of the Damned harks back to a time when vampires were exclusively nocturnal and decidedly more aristocratic than metrosexual. In fulfilling her homage to this sub-genre, which is known as much for its heavy sexuality as it is for blood and gore, writer/director Cassavetes lays the melodrama on thick, with lascivious characters and an ambient retro-goth score to boot. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: KISS OF THE DAMNED”

MOVIE REVIEW: Oblivion

97577_gal.pngEven though it takes place on a demolished Earth some 60 years in the future, Oblivion manages to be far more beautiful than bleak. With the grand spectacle of our abandoned planet as a backdrop, there’s never too little to marvel at in between moments of chaos and brain-twisting revelation.

Avoiding the dreary look of its post-apocalyptic predecessors, Oblivion is almost as retro in tone as it is advanced in execution. Director/co-writer Joseph Kosinski reunites with Tron:Legacy cinematographer Claudio Miranda to bring some very bright, eye-popping visuals to the screen, which they are careful never to crowd even in its rare claustrophobic moments. With that style comes a sense of depth that matches the grand scope of the film’s premise, which might have fallen flat in less capable hands. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Oblivion”

MOVIE REVIEW: Trance

f7cca2ef2912bb282010ffd39065a96bI walked away from Trance knowing that I’d need to mull it over for a while. A few days later, I hadn’t formed anything more concise than my initial gut reaction, which might be summed up as “disturbed and fascinated.” I tend to throw the word “intense” around a lot, but after seeing this movie, I might be a little more selective. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Trance”

TV REVIEW: The Mindy Project

UnknownIf you haven’t been watching The Mindy Project on Fox, you’re really missing out.

As with most TV shows that I watch, Mindy surfaced in my DVR recordings, a list that is less indicative of any specific taste than it is of attention deficit and possibly some sort of undiagnosed mood disorder. Let’s just say it’s a mixed bag of programming. 

So, amidst a slew of comedy fare including other notable single-cam shows like Modern Family, The New Normal and New Girl, Mindy Kaling’s fledgling series kind of crept up on me, a delay that came not from lack of interest, but of time. The competition was – and is – pretty stiff, even if not always as funny as the Emmys might suggest. Regardless, here I am writing about what has become my favorite comedy on television, and it barely even feels like they’re trying. Continue reading “TV REVIEW: The Mindy Project”

MOVIE REVIEW: Evil Dead

96557_galMore often than not I’m a harsh critic of horror reboots (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th and Halloween were all predictably sub-par), but I’ll occasionally come away from one happily frazzled (The Crazies, Dawn of the Dead and My Bloody Valentine all surprised me, for example). While this re-imagining of Sam Raimi’s 1981 classic definitely belongs in the latter category, I think my expectations must have been unreasonably elevated. Why, I’m not sure; as perhaps the biggest horror cult classic of the last three decades, The Evil Dead must have been some pretty intimidating material to approach for a makeover, if for nothing other than trying to please legions of skeptics who were just waiting to tear it down. By that measure, this Evil Dead must be commended for eschewing almost every trend in contemporary cinema. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Evil Dead”

MOVIE REVIEW: 6 Souls

99603_galThe first half hour of 6 Souls sets us up for what should be a taut, creepy thriller, reminiscent perhaps of such convention-breaking films as Primal Fear and Fallen, and it certainly pulls from those respective ends of the genre spectrum. But Swedish directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, most recently breaking into the American market with Underworld: Awakening, never quite have a grasp on all of these elements as a whole. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: 6 Souls”

MOVIE REVIEW: G.I. Joe – Retaliation

96878_galIf I were to tell you about a movie in which the President of the United States is held hostage inside his own compound while a criminal mastermind has his way with our country’s nuclear arsenal, you might think I was rehashing my review of last week’s unintentionally hilarious Olympus Has Fallen. In fact, I’d be talking about G.I. Joe: Retaliation, the long delayed second entry in the Hasbro-spawned action franchise. The big difference is that Joe, though sharing more than a few traits with the the aforementioned ‘White House under siege’ clunker, never takes itself too seriously. And we’d be silly to expect it to. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: G.I. Joe – Retaliation”

MOVIE REVIEW: Olympus Has Fallen

100030_galIn my opinion, criticizing a movie just for being clichéd has become something of a copout, even though it’s increasingly difficult to resist doing so, kind of like condemning the plot of an action flick for being implausible. Still, I swore I’d stop, or at least cut back, on using the ‘c’ word. Usually there’s a subtext of some sort that deserves a little more examination when writing a review, otherwise we’re just being lazy, right? And we’re pretentious if we harp too much on realism, aren’t we? Not in this case. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Olympus Has Fallen”

MOVIE REVIEW: Dead Man Down

100046_galIn the short time I’ve had to ruminate on the pros and cons of Dead Man Down, which is the American feature debut of director Niels Arden Oplev (who made the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with it. Not because it’s a bad film, or because it requires you to overlook the typical plot holes (of which there are surprisingly few for its overworked premise), but because I cannot reveal its biggest flaws without also dropping some major spoilers. Despite its few glaring weaknesses, however, it manages to give us something that feels different, both in tone and plot progression, even when it starts undermining itself to reach an acceptable conclusion. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Dead Man Down”

Lady Gaga Born This Way Ball Tour Cancelled (Includes Verizon Center)

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Live Nation Global Touring has confirmed that the remainder of the Lady Gaga Born This Way Ball performances have been cancelled, which includes a February 25th show at Verizon Center.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Bullet to the Head

98494_galSylvester Stallone plays disgruntled hitman Jimmy ‘Bobo’ Bonomo in Bullet to the Head, a pseudo-noir action flick that is really hard to take seriously. Director Walter Hill’s attempt at gritty realism is hindered by the central relationship of the story, which begins with Stallone’s cold-blooded contract killer crossing paths with a Washington, DC detective (played by Fast Five’s Sung Kang) during a homicide investigation in New Orleans. The result is an unbalanced, poorly edited mess which finds the two men working together to take down a common enemy (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, BBC’s Hunted) and a ruthless mercenary named Keegan (Jason Momoa, 2011‘s Conan the Barbarian) who’s been contracted to do all the dirty work. Of course it comes across as an extremely simple premise; the stabbing death of Bonomo’s partner that triggers the whole thing is one barely significant variable in an ultra-contrived real estate development scheme (with the requisite smattering of police corruption, of course) that doesn’t even seem feasible in a world of acceptable plot holes. Seriously, when will bad guys learn to stop carrying around their secret plans on a flash drive? Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Bullet to the Head”

MOVIE REVIEW: John Dies at the End

97487_galWhether John dies at the end or not is irrelevant, because director Don Coscarelli’s return to his obscure trademark blend of horror/comedy makes his Phantasm ‘quadrilogy’ look as routine as an Amway seminar. 

Starting my review while still watching a film isn’t something I would typically do, but since John Dies at the End plays like the conscious stream of a madman – and I assure you that it is – it feels only appropriate to act as the translator for folks who might not be familiar with the B-movie auteur’s previous work. This is a film that takes the overused hyperbolic tagline ‘nothing is what it seems’ literally, though it wouldn’t be caught dead using something that cliché. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: John Dies at the End”

Top 10 Films of 2012

93893_gal2012 was a big year in film, with Christopher Nolan’s hugely anticipated Batman wrap-up The Dark Knight Rises, the equally long-awaited 007 installment Skyall, which was the first in the franchise to be directed by an Oscar Winner (Sam Mendes), and the first chapter in Peter Jackson’s technologically ambitious LOTR prequel The Hobbit among the highest grossing. But the year also proved to be a wildly diverse one; so much so, that while I found all three of these big budget offerings to be well-conceived and deserving of a far more intellectual tag than ‘blockbuster’, not one of them was even close to making my top ten. A lot of great original material was presented this year, covering an amazing breadth of genres, and as always it was difficult for me to compile this list without inevitably excluding more than just a few films that I loved. The bottom line is, I found each of the following picks to be somewhat of a cinematic anomaly. So here they are, the movies that moved me the most, with links to my full reviews where applicable. Continue reading “Top 10 Films of 2012”

MOVIE REVIEW: Mama

mama08If you think it’s tough being a single parent, try doing it after you’ve been dead for over a hundred years. A CGI rendered, shape-shifting apparition is the matriarchal menace in this nonsensical horror tale about two feral little girls who are brought back to civilization after mysteriously surviving for several years in the woods of southern Virginia. Needless to say, they have trouble adapting to society, due in part to a jealous ghost that is not only responsible for their relative well being, but is also part of their adoption package. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Mama”

MOVIE REVIEW – Zero Dark Thirty

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Leave your opinions of torture at the door, this is a film where they’re going to be used.  Let’s face it.  Waterboarding was used.  To great extent during many years.  And too much extent.  And this is a film that does not flinch when it comes to showing it used in some gritty scenes.  The key goal, the search for Osama Bin Laden.  The cost of getting there…there is no cost.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Zero Dark Thirty

92976_galZero Dark Thirty is nothing if it isn’t meticulously put together, and that seems like enough to qualify this smart, painstaking film for my top three of 2012, if not the last five years, particularly because of  how scrupulously it treats such a delicate topic without catering to any obvious agendas. Though Oscar buzz has been surrounding this thing almost since its inception (which was initially slated to be a different story, since writing commenced before Osama bin Laden was killed), it breaks what might be considered the traditional mold for awards season, a stoic beast amongst a barrage of emotion-rich fare. That said, the film is a cinematic masterpiece that will probably get shortchanged in some category by the Academy (seeing as Kathryn Bigelow claimed hers for The Hurt Locker four years ago, typical politics have inevitably kicked in. She wasn’t even nominated this year for what is superior to her previous work). Thankfully, politics is something this film lacks almost entirely; it is primarily objective, purposefully unsensational – with perhaps the exception of its final 30 minutes – and unapologetic in almost every facet of the story. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Zero Dark Thirty”

MOVIE REVIEW: Not Fade Away

96735_gal[1]If you’re an avid fan of the Rolling Stones and appreciate the typically languid pace of Sopranos mastermind David Chase, then parts of this fictionalized flashback to the writer/director’s formative years as part of a New Jersey garage band might interest you. Not Fade Away is likely to trigger a little nostalgia, though you’ll need to put up with a whole lot of nothing to enjoy the film’s redeeming aspects, which are so few and far between that its title could refer more to Chase’s overestimation of his audience’s attention span than to the Buddy Holly song. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Not Fade Away”

MOVIE REVIEW: Jack Reacher

93881_gal[1]The expression ‘they don’t make ’em like they used to’ is commonly used to describe action films these days. This is why the old-fashioned approach that writer/director Christopher McQuarrie takes in adapting the 2005 novel ‘One Shot’ for the big screen makes it such a stand-out crime thriller. Devoid of digital augmentation, Jack Reacher has the type of heart – and punch – that I sorely miss from the ’80s, an era when the camera remained steady for fight scenes and car chases were dependent mostly on the talent of stunt drivers to do the work. It’s the same reason I loved McQuarrie’s first feature The Way of the Gun(2000), which was defined by its brutal simplicity and didn’t seem like it was trying too hard to prove anything. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Jack Reacher”

MOVIE REVIEW: Les Misérables

It doesn’t require a love of the theatre – or necessarily even a like of it – to be completely consumed by this adaptation of Les Misérables, which is the most moving piece of musical cinema I’ve seen in some time. By itself, Anne Hathaway’s performance as the destitute, demoralized factory worker Fantine, particularly when singing ‘I Dreamed a Dream’, is just about enough to give your eyes a perma-glaze. That’s an obvious highlight – one of the more universally recognized songs from the 1985 English language play – but it was more than enough to wash away my skeptical predisposition. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Les Misérables”

MOVIE REVIEW: Rust and Bone

Director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet) gives us just enough hope and decency to chew on in the French-language film Rust and Bone (De rouille et d’os), which foregoes any notion of a traditional romance in favor of a grittier, to-the-point attitude. Virtually the antithesis of the Hollywood love story, the screenplay works hard to create an emotional realism around circumstances that most American filmgoers would usually accept as ‘movie kismet’, showing the ugliness of life that sometimes precedes the happy snapshot we see on the cover. In short, it earns the less-than-conventional plot that I’m about to summarize, mainly because it avoids being overly sympathetic. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Rust and Bone”

MOVIE REVIEW: The Impossible

I’m not sure which is more unsettling about Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Impossible, the visceral punch felt when the wall of water is shown barreling through a peaceful beachfront resort in Thailand, or the means that the director uses in order to turn the 2004 tsunami into a marketable movie.  

Objectively, it is well made and very effective, particularly in the first half, as the story focuses on a British family who are violently separated the day after Christmas by the sixth most devastating natural disaster in recorded history. Though it is depicted with gruesome, vivid detail, The Impossible is not a ‘disaster film’ in the Roland Emmerich sense of the word; nope, here the embellishments are limited to changing the ethnicities of the main characters, and perhaps some dialogue that assists the film in ascending from murky tragedy to enlightening triumph (if you were at all wondering about the generic title). Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: The Impossible”

MOVIE REVIEW: This Is 40

Sometimes Judd Apatow reminds me of that kid that accidentally does something funny and gets some laughs, so he keeps trying to reproduce the moment over and over. I’m not saying This Is 40 isn’t funny; in fact upon a second viewing, I let loose a few guffaws during some scenes that I’d almost forgotten about. But it’s hard to say that this fourth feature film from the writer/director is anything new. Because so many of its great moments are swallowed up by the monotony of the whole thing, it ends up being kind of forgettable. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: This Is 40”

MOVIE REVIEW: The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey

I have a confession that might get me ostracized from my group of industry peers: I have not seen any of the Lord of the Rings films. One might wonder how that’s possible for a film buff, not to mention a critic; I assure you, I have my reasons. But all blaspheming aside, this undoubtedly gives me a unique perspective on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of director Peter Jackson’s three-part prequel to the now decade-old Rings trilogy, and the most visually ambitious film I’ve seen this year. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey”

MOVIE REVIEW: BURN

In Burn, we learn that Detroit firefighters respond to roughly 30,000 calls a year. With some 80,000 abandoned homes, and a city demolition project that will take almost 30 years to complete (at a proposed rate of 3,000 structures per year), very few of these fires are what members of Engine Co. 50 would describe as ‘legitimate’. In other words, arson is what keeps these guys busy. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: BURN”