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Boys State

by Alan Rapp on March 1, 2021

in Home Video

  • Title: Boys State
  • IMDb: link

Boys State movie reviewBoys State offers a glimpse into the annual tradition the American Legion has held in since 1935 where high school juniors are brought in to learn about government and politics firsthand. The documentary focuses on the Texas Boys State working in two separate political parties to build a representative government, create a political agenda, and run for various offices including Governor.

Allowing us to look at the next generation of potential political operatives, Boys State shows us teenagers have already learned the some of the worst lessons of politics from those they have watched govern them. While several of the students don’t take the opportunity seriously, offering bills for change the pronunciation of “W” or trying to impeach an elected official they dislike personally, the film turns on the introduction of Steven Garza who plants his flag on the idea of cooperation, combined self-government, and honestly helping others which offers a nice change of pace from the pro-gun and anti-abortion message that otherwise permeates the debates. Although we don’t have to wait long before personal attacks begin to change the narrative.

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A Nice Girl Like You

by Alan Rapp on February 24, 2021

in Home Video

  • Title: A Nice Girl Like You
  • IMDb: link

A Nice Girl Like You DVD reviewLucy Hale stars as pornophobic violinist who attempts to become less inhibited following her break-up with her boyfriend (Stephen Friedrich). Adapted from Ayn Carrillo Gailey’s book Pornology, the idea for the film is to follow the misadventures of a “good girl” investigating the world of pornography and sexual enlightenment with the help of her friends (Mindy Cohn, Jackie Cruz, and Adhir Kalyan) while also dating a new man (Leonidas Gulaptis) and struggling to earn a prestigious position with the New York Philharmonic.

While the book has received praise for being witty and hilarious, the film far is more luke-warm romcom than edgy sexcapade. Hale is likable enough in the role of the wide-eyed innocent entering a different world out of curiosity, and to prove something to herself, but the script doesn’t offer much of interest despite the subject matter. And for a film presumably based on real-life experiences, A Nice Girl Like You too often feels cliched and over-the-top. Some of the “humor” involves a horse taking a huge crap during a wedding, a public humiliation from a sexual psychic (Nadia Quinn), and a “cute” pregnancy scare.

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1991 – The Silence of the Lambs

by Alan Rapp on February 16, 2021

in Home Video

  • Title: The Silence of the Lambs
  • IMDb: link

The Silence of the Lambs movie review30 years ago, on Valentine’s Day, The Silence of the Lambs was released in theaters. While not the first of Thomas Harris‘ novels to be written about Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), nor the first to be adapted to film, The Silence of the Lambs stands out from the rest for the odd pairing central to its story. With prequels, sequels, and even television series, Hollywood has searched for a way to recreate the magic of a film that took home Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay while earning a reputation as an instant classic. 30 years later, they’re still looking.

The first thing you notice about watching The Silence of the Lambs is how well it holds up building tension and teasing the audience where the story will lead next. We start with the introduction of a FBI trainee sent to interview the former psychiatrist and currently incarcerated cannibalistic serial killer. The unusual relationship between the pair will provide the heart of the film as Lecter offers to help Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) hunt down a current serial killer, and former patient, Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), as the tabloids have named him, who is killing and skinning young women.

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Vicious

by Alan Rapp on February 8, 2021

in Home Video

  • Title: Vicious
  • IMDb: link

Vicious DVD reviewRecently released on home video, Vicious is nearly unwatchable. The film, if it can be called that, answers the question of what a TBS attempt to recreate a Cinemax After Dark movie might look like. Written and directed by Jason Rosenblatt, Vicious stars Angela Nordeng as law student Belle White who pays her bills by stripping under the stage name of Roxy. The film primarily focuses on a pair of customers who frighten Belle, one overtly by stalking her, and the other passive-aggressively by consistently odd behavior hoping to convince Roxy to quit the business.

The film is presented as a thriller of our protagonist falling into despair and fighting back. The result is far less interesting. Troubled by low production cost, inconsistent cinematography, questionable acting and dialogue, and a meandering plot, Vicious is a mess. For a thriller, it’s far from thrilling. For a film about strippers, it’s far from titillating. For a drama, it’s far from dramatic. Because the film is hyper-serious about its content, this dog of movie can’t even make it into the realm of cheesy fun. About the only thing the film is good for is a cure for insomnia.

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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

by Alan Rapp on February 5, 2021

in Home Video

  • Title: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • IMDb: link

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom movie reviewAdapted from August Wilson’s play, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is most notable for the performance of Chadwick Boseman who earns the plum role of Levee, a dissatisfied horn player in Ma Rainey’s (Viola Davis) band. The role was the last of Boseman’s career, who died during postproduction, and it’s one of his best as both of the script’s most memorable scenes center around his character. The film definitely feels like a stage adaptation, even claustrophobic at times, with the band rehearsing in a small room prior to recording a new album.

Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, and Michael Potts complete the remainder of the band with Jeremy Shamos and Jonny Coyne rounding out the cast as the white producers desperate to get the recordings who Ma continues to fuck with over the course of the film by arriving late, insisting on doing the songs her way, and even including her stuttering nephew (Dusan Brown) on the recordings. As with the play, the film touches on themes of racism, art, power struggle, and the exploitation of black recording artists (the last of which is never more clear than in the film’s final scene).

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