Tuesday, Sep 24, 2019
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 42 YEARS!

click to visit advertiser's website


Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by dhtml-menu-builder.com

Last Weeks Edition
   
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 




 

 
 

 

 

[Valid RSS]

click to go to advertisers website
to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 30, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 44
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
  next story
Messy Witch Hunter a lumbering waste of time
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

THE LAST WITCH HUNTER
Now playing


Over 800 years ago, the warrior Kaulder (Vin Diesel) was cursed by the Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht) to immortality at the same moment his sword attempted to cleave her in two. Since that time, he's been a warrior for the Church, maintaining the balance between darkness and light as he helps keep the peace between the human realm and those of the witches. His story is recorded by a series of chroniclers calling themselves Dolan, the last of which (Michael Caine) is ready to retire after 50 years of faithful service.

Evil is coming. The powerful warlock Belial (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) has put a terrifying plan into action, and it is up to Kaulder, along with the aid of the newest Dolan (Elijah Wood) and the assistance of a young witch able to walk in the world of dreams, Chloe (Rose Leslie), to stop him. But this evildoer's plan is more destructive than any of them could have imagined possible. He's going to resurrect the Witch Queen, bring her back from damnation, the fate of human civilization itself in the hands of this small trio of warriors, the immortal Kaulder leading the attack.

The Last Witch Hunter is pretty bad. I like director Breck Eisner. I feel like his 2010 remake of George A. Romero's The Crazies is one of the better horror/suspense films delivered to theatres this past decade. But that doesn't mean I can cut him a lot of slack. Even if the film moves well, even if a few of the central action sequences are nicely staged, even if the makeup effects are terrific, the overall feeling that this is nothing less than a close to unwatchable compendium of genre tropes and B-grade esthetics delivered without passion or emotion is omnipresent throughout. This thing, this big, lumbering oaf of a supernatural sponge cake, it's kind of terrible, and there's not a lot more to add.

In some ways, this feels a little like Pixels all over again, and while these are wildly divergent motion pictures both structurally and thematically, the central problem is one and the same. In that wannabe summer blockbuster, director Chris Columbus staged events about as well as could be expected, doing what he could to infuse his video game alien invasion spectacle a sense of life and urgency. But he's stymied at almost every turn by the star turn at the center of things delivered by Adam Sandler, his constant mugging and winking calling far too much attention to itself, reminding the viewer they're watching a giant joke and not some sort of adventure they're supposed to be thrilled to be a part of.

As far as The Last Witch Hunter is concerned, while I had a lot of issues with the script written by Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, the main issue is the star himself, Furious 7 and Riddick megastar Vin Diesel. Not because he's treating the whole thing as a giant joke unworthy of his full attentions, like Sandler in Pixels, but more because he's trying to lumber and stumble through it all with a bully's bravado, laying waste to everything going on inside of the feature itself. He's impossible to care about, relate to or marvel at, and while he looks fairly good in his scrubby, hairy ancient world bearskins throwing an axe and swinging swords, that doesn't mean he's giving an actual performance. This is Diesel being Diesel, and while that can work in many cases, it's disastrous here.

Granted, the script is a mess, there's no denying that, and while I always want to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, I can't say this is a huge shock considering that the prior films members of this trio have worked on include Dracula Untold and Priest. But this movie is just so painfully maudlin, so absurdly melodramatic, it rips its B-movie pedigree and aspirations out by the roots and then grinds them into dust, and I'm just not sure what it was Goodman, Sazama and Sharpless were going for. It just isn't interesting, and that's maybe the cardinal sin, the giddy, down-and-dirty pleasures typical for this sort of endeavor absent for nearly every second of the film's 106 minutes.

I did like Leslie; and Caine, for as much as he is around (which isn't much), is as charming as ever, even if he's here just to pick up a paycheck; and the early prologue assault on the Witch Queen is beautifully staged, even if a number of the CG effects leave something to be desired; but none of that matters a great deal. Eisner is talented, and I'm going to assume he's got another The Crazies - hopefully, more than one - in him at some point, but The Last Witch Hunter isn't it. This is a bad movie. More, it's a waste of time, and I feel more than a little terrible for those who spend hard-earned money on a ticket to watch it.


Initially unsettling Ghost Dimension fails to reinvigorate the activity
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY:
THE GHOST DIMENSION
Now playing


Ryan (Chris J. Murray) and Emily (Brit Shaw) have gotten a sweet deal on a new house. It's almost Christmas, and they've just moved in, and much to the excitement of daughter Leila (Ivy George) dad's brother Uncle Mike (Dan Gill) has come to stay with them. Mom's best friend Skyler (Olivia Taylor Dudley) is also staying, all of them excited about spending the holidays together as one big happy family.

There is a reason Ryan and Emily got such a great deal on their home, the fact the prior one on the lot burned down due to mysterious circumstances back in the early 1990s a red flag their realtor should have disclosed. Only reason they've learned about it at all is thanks to a cache of VHS tapes and a mysterious hi-res camera that has an odd ability to photograph things that are not there, the tapes themselves showing two little girls named Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) being schooled in the paranormal by some kind of cult.

Reportedly the final film in the franchise, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is a moderate step up in quality over the previous two episodes, Paranormal Activity 4 and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. While what is happening will likely shock no one, the initial 45 to 50 minutes of the film are seriously unsettling, even though fans of the series will have a pretty good idea what is going on, director Gregory Plotkin (the editor on all four of the previous films) doing a nice job keeping viewers on collective pins and needles. He toys with many of the visual tricks and audio stylings that have become typical for these features, the crafty use of 3D as it concerns the demonic menace slowly taking shape, trying to transform Leila into its friend and ally, rather effective.

Problem is, even by cycling backwards to Paranormal Activity 3 (while also kind of answering what happened to little Hunter from Paranormal Activity 4), even with the intention of taking viewers behind the curtain into the ghostly realm hinted at but never seen in the other films, there's nowhere new for any of this to go. The last 20 minutes follow the same general template of the other films, doing so in a rather rushed fashion that almost feels as if Plotkin wants to get it all over with so he can hopefully unsettle everyone with his final terrifying image. It gives things a sadly forgettable aura that's faintly disappointing, and considering just how much I enjoyed the initial half to three-quarters, it is a regrettable turn of events indeed.

It's also something of a cheat. The writers - there are way too many this time around to list - don't shake things up enough, and even though all are new to the franchise (most being veterans of similar endeavors like Project Almanac and the excellent The Taking of Deborah Logan) they don't seem to have anything original to say. On top of that, the idea that they are going to take viewers into this so-called 'Ghost Dimension' is something of a lie, and anyone expecting a full-blown descent into the otherworldly unknown (much like the recent Poltergeist remake did attempt to do, if not successfully) is certain to walk away from the sequel disgruntled.

I still think the first three in this series are remarkably effective, and even if this sixth effort fails to maintain tension, there are sequences that got under my skin marvelously. But at a certain point the characters transform into bigger idiots than usual, and while the reason first-person filming continues unabated (it's the only way to see that ghosts and demons are going after Leila) that's not enough to justify some of the more outlandish and absurd bits of running around Ryan, Emily and the rest find themselves engaged in during the climax. While not a total loss, it's still clear Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is indicative of a franchise running on fumes, the scares just not strong enough to warrant another jaunt into this particular version of the unknown anytime soon.


Jem an outrageously imbalanced musical drama
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS
Now playing


Jerrica Benton (Aubrey Peeples) is a shy, introverted teenager living with her free-spirted Aunt Bailey (Molly Ringwald) along with her sibling Kimber (Stefanie Scott), moving in after their inventor father Emmett (Barnaby Carpenter) lost his battle with cancer. They are joined by two others, foster kids Aja Leith (Hayley Kiyoko) and Shana Elmsford (Aurora Perrineau), Bailey opening her home to the orphans when both were still little. It's not typical, for certain, but they're a family, each having their own idiosyncratic quirk that the others adore, making each standout as an individual while also solidifying their bonds as sisters forever.

All are musically inclined, but Jerrica is special. On a whim, Kimber posts a video of her big sis on YouTube singing an original composition. Hiding behind some flashy makeup, a pink wig and calling herself 'Jem,' the song goes instantly viral, catching the attention of music mogul Erica Raymond (Juliette Lewis). She wants to sign the teen to a music contract, make all her dreams a reality, bringing Jerrica and her three sisters to Los Angeles, under the supervision of her college-aged son Rio (Ryan Guzman), to experience stardom firsthand.

I cannot make the case that Jem and the Holograms, director Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) and screenwriter Ryan Landels' reinvention of the iconic 1980s cartoon series 'Jem,' is a good movie. I cannot try to convince anyone that it is an important piece of cinema we're going to be talking about decades from now. I cannot claim fans are going to forgive the fact it bears almost no resemblance to the show that inspired it, the fantastical aspects gone, in their place a straightforward drama about the price of stardom we've seen umpteen times before.

Be that as it may, it's impossible to dismiss this rather innocuous and benign adaptation out of hand. There are some amazing ideas, some startlingly good moments, most of them revolving around modern obsessions with living life online, sibling relations, fandom and bullying that took me quite by surprise. The best involve Chu and Landels bringing a variety of YouTube videos into the proceedings, most of them confessionals of fans of 'Jem' and her bandmates who have found a variety of reasons to be affected by her music and lyrics. While fictional in nature (obviously), there is a universal truth to what they're all confessing that hits home, the variety and diversity of the YouTubers in question something unique and special.

It should also be said, even though it's girl-power roots and modern pop esthetics are obnoxious, the original music in this movie is really, really good, two of the songs in particular. There's an out-of-nowhere, supposedly impromptu a cappella number on the beach that begins as if it's an absurd joke before transforming into magic, the way it celebrates the bond of the sisters-slash-bandmates sublime. Then there is the requisite solo number, Jem/Jerrica taking the stage sans her Holograms belting out a powerfully moving ballad that took my breath away.

All of which are good things, which is important because almost all other aspects of the narrative are pretty much bottom of the barrel. Things follow a fairly standard A Star is Born template, Erica attempting to manipulate Jerrica into becoming her manufactured pop princess jettisoning her sisters and her own singular voice in order to inhabit a prefabricated and easy to package persona. She, of course, doesn't want that, but with Aunt Bailey in danger of losing the house things are more complicated than her sisters know, making the evil music executive's overtures far more appealing than they otherwise would be.

What's crazy is all of this happens in the course of a month. Jerrica and her sisters become international superstars overnight, in-fight like The Beatles after Yoko came into the picture days later, and reunite like The Eagles two-plus decades after calling it quits practically seconds after that. They go from 'American Idol' fans eager to audition to seasoned Kelly Clarkson meets Carrie Underwood icons in no time flat, everything transpiring with a matter-of-fact supercilious whimsy it all can't help but to become laughably absurd.

Then there is an additional subplot regarding Jerrica and Kimber's dad Emmett and a cute little whistling robot named Synergy. Remember Interstellar? How Matthew McConaughey's heroic astronaut seemed to have all sorts of love in his heart for his super-smart daughter but apparently couldn't have cared less how his not-so-sharp son was fairing on a dying Earth? That's nothing compared to how Emmett apparently felt about Jerrica over Kimber, the fact a dad would do so much for one child and nothing - absolutely nothing at all - to such a jaw-dropping degree for the other close to repellant.

I don't know. I can live with the fact Jem and the Holograms has practically nothing to do with its animated namesake. I equally love the way Chu handles the musical numbers, his time spent bringing Step Up 2: The Streets to life (not to mention two Justin Bieber concert documentaries) giving him more than a solid understanding as to the best way to make all of those sequences sizzle. Finally, while I've never watched 'Nashville' it's safe to say Peeples is the real deal as far as talent is concerned, the actress making the most of her moment in the spotlight much in the same way the character she's portraying in the film does at the exact same time.

But the movie is just dumb. It almost doesn't matter if the actresses portraying the Holograms are good or that Lewis saunters and struts through the picture with a rock star bravado allowing her to steal nearly every scene she's a part of. My heart more often than not just wasn't in it, the fact the priceless bits are sensational only making the stuff that doesn't work that much more catastrophic. Funny thing, even with that being so, I still kind of want to like Jem and the Holograms in spite of all its missteps and shortcomings, and if that isn't truly outrageous in and of itself I'm not sure what else would be.


Dynamic Steve Jobs an electrifying triumph
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

STEVE JOBS
Now playing


Steve Jobs is not a traditional major studio Hollywood biopic by any stretch of the imagination. Resembling more a Broadway play as if it were written by David Mamet and Paddy Chayefsky working in tandem, presented like one of Louis Malle's astonishing Andre Gregory collaborations, director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin have crafted a one-of-a-kind cinematic sensation worthy of a standing ovation. This is a film driven by the rat-a-tat-tat nature of its dialogue, each verbal twist and turn a thrilling mystery as to what is going to be said next and who is going to be lucky enough to get in the last word.

The film is split into three sections, each set minutes before various important product launches Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) is front and center to introduce. The behind-the-scenes mayhem is kept to a minimum thanks to the efforts of marketing maestro Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), the harried public relations wiz and close Jobs confidant, the one who has to monitor access to her charge before festivities begin. During the first event, the launch of the Macintosh personal computer in 1984, the most interesting guest inside the dressing room is Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston), the Apple exec's ex-girlfriend there to push him to recognize his 5-year-old daughter Lisa (Makenzie Moss) as his own and finally step up to the plate financially.

Other guests include John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), the man coerced to leave Pepsi in order to come to Apple as CEO, and programmers Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg) and Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), the latter the co-founder of the company responsible for changing the face of personal computing while tinkering in a garage alongside Jobs. They aren't the only people Joanna allows into the room with her boss, but they are the most important ones, each person adding input and insight as they make their respective cases for what they'd like him to say to the adoring throngs loudly cheering in the adjoining auditoriums for each respective product launch.

Sorkin, working from Walter Isaacson's best-selling biography of the Apple icon, has crafted a sensational script, one that's potentially even better than his Oscar-winning one for David Fincher's The Social Network. As mentioned, events are entirely driven by dialogue, things progressing forward with urgency and haste solely through the verbal interactions. More, the level of insight and understanding he is able to generate as to who Jobs was, his drive, his tenacity, his geocentricism, his self-awareness and, yes, his genius, all of that and more is on display. It's a no-holds-barred accounting of the man that attempts to dig below the surface in order to discover universal truths, not all of which are savory, whether it succeeds or not directly tied to the viewer's own idiosyncratic point of view.

Boyle is working at the top of his game, the man behind films as diverse as 127 Hours, Millions, Trainspotting and the Academy Award-winning Slumdog Millionaire navigating this untraditional terrain with sparkling, invigorating efficiency. The way he separates the three product launches (the NeXTcube in 1988 and the iMac in 1998 join the Macintosh as the other two) borders on dazzling, how he and his cinematographer Alwin H. Küchler (Sunshine) visually identify each shift in time both ingenious as well as completely organic to the story itself. It's one of the most technically accomplished motion pictures released to theatres in all of 2015, yet it's also just as doubtful most will recognize this truth, the inherent theatricality of the piece potentially keeping some from noticing.

None of which would matter a lick if the performances were not up to snuff. Thankfully, everyone in the cast, every single person, no matter how big or small their respective part might be, is just wonderful, the most surprising of whom might be Rogen as Wozniak, the veteran comedian showing a depth and a range he hasn't before now. But as good as he might be, and he is wonderful, the real standouts are Fassbender, Winslet and Daniels, all three giving performances as grand and as magnetic as anything they've ever given. It's no great stretch to imagine that each could very well win Oscars for their turns, Winslet in particular subtly and cunningly becoming the film's heart and soul as things progress to their rightfully open-ended conclusion. In most respects Hoffman is the voice of Jobs' conscience, the complicated Jiminy Cricket sitting on Pinocchio's shoulder doing her level best to steer him in as decent and as humane a direction as possible.

I'm not an Apple historian. What I know about Jobs and his time with the company amounts to little (most of it tied to my recent watching of Alex Gibney's documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine). With that in mind, I can't comment on how accurate a representation of the man at the center of all of this is. What I can say is, from a filmmaking perspective, from an entertainment standpoint, Steve Jobs is an exhilarating spellbinder, moving at a fervent pace as it attempts to show genius and all that comes with it - the good, the bad and the decidedly in-between - as intimately as it can. In the end the orchestra being conducted are the audience's own emotions, Boyle and Sorkin the clever maestros making beautiful music out of them for everyone to enjoy.




Water by the Spoonful a very satisfying evening of theater
------------------------------
SGN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW:

LaChanze: The phoenix of the theatre

------------------------------
Hollywood Nights at Teatro ZinZanni
------------------------------
Florence + the Machine on the path to iconic status
------------------------------
BenDeLaCreme's otherworldly Cosmos takes flight!
------------------------------
Great performance, poorly preserved
------------------------------
Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play short circuits
------------------------------
Amy Schumer to ring in New Year at Key Arena
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Reflections on the county clerk in Kentucky
------------------------------
Muse coming to Seattle in December, Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas in August
------------------------------
Messy Witch Hunter a lumbering waste of time
------------------------------
Initially unsettling Ghost Dimension fails to reinvigorate the activity
------------------------------
Jem an outrageously imbalanced musical drama
------------------------------
Dynamic Steve Jobs an electrifying triumph
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
Seattle Gay Blog post your own information on
the Seattle Gay Blog
 
 

gay news feeds gay news readers gay rss gay
http://sgn.org/rss.xml | what is RSS? | Add to Google use Google to set up your RSS feed
SGN Calendar For Mobile Phones http://sgn.org/rssCalendarMobile.xml
SGN Calendar http://sgn.org/rssCalendar.xml

Seattle Gay News - SGN
1707 23rd Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

Phone 206-324-4297
Fax 206-322-7188

email: sgn2@sgn.org
website suggestions: web@sgn.org

copyright Seattle Gay News 2015 - DigitalTeamWorks 2015

USA Gay News American News American Gay News USA American Gay News United States American Lesbian News USA American Lesbian News United States USA News
Pacific Northwest News in Seattle News in Washington State News