twelve-house-books

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Reviews

Age of Summer
(2018)

Beautiful
Looks like lots of people are too pretentious these days to admit that this is a beautiful coming-of-age film which deserves high ratings. I only caught one word that was not used in 1986--when one of the lifeguards gets excited about a beer score and squeals "Sick!" Keep your pretentions to yourself and your silly social media and when you review a film, be honest.

Apparition
(2019)

Really?
Save yourself. This is neither Horror nor Thriller, but tweenty-something kitsch played off as film. The characters are all two-dimensional, the jokes are unfunny, the plot has been done over and again, and deadly ghosts should be kept where they were born--in Japanese horror.

Cord
(2000)

Laughable
This is one of those career-wounding projects. I found the thing so unrealistic that in one of my final chortles about fifteen minutes in I grabbed the remote and turned it off.

Take Shelter
(2011)

Tight Windup
This film offers a tight windup and a hefty amount of suspense, only to be a huge letdown in the end. But if you like to look at Jessica Chastain, or if you enjoy her acting, it's worth the watch.

Monsters
(2010)

One Star
One star for the cute girl. Not sure about you, but a story about giant octopi from outer space has no place in 21st century filmmaking. Wasted millions on nothing.

Macbeth
(2015)

Stands On Its Own
Like Kubrick's 'The Shining' stands on its own far away from King's original vision, this version of "The Scottish Play," though bowing to Shakespeare, develops into a wholly terrifying production on its own. The message remains strong and undiluted: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I was led to this film to better understand the sweet little new gem called 'The Scottish Play' about a small New England company that encounters the ghost of Shakespeare. I wanted to know the story of Macbeth because I've never read it (or any other Shakespeare play, embarrassingly enough since I am a writer who leans heavily on Elizabethan drama and satire.) I am satisfied with this production and recommend it to anyone with an interest in great filmmaking, Gothic red/black scenes, great battle scenes, and psychological descents into madness. I am a bit sorry that the 'double, double, toil and trouble' and 'out, damned spot' scenes were not included, but I like these witches far, far better than any I have ever seen connected to the play, and Lady Macbeth here is still deeply witchy, plotting, and troubled by her seemingly uncontrollable passion for power. Bravo to everyone involved!

The Scottish Play
(2020)

A Solid Nine Stars
I only give this beautiful gem nine stars because it could have been a lot longer and I wouldn't have cared in the least. I normally don't like Shakespearean acting, but this film is not only great, it's enlightening. Brilliantly written and equally acted, I carry a renewed love for Shakespearean theatre because for the first time I've been shown the great playwright as a human god instead of some capricious tyrant from Mount Olympus. Bravo to everyone involved!

8
(2019)

The Acting Was Good
As with many Horror stories in our day, somehow the director takes what could be a good story and fails to tell enough to make it important enough to know about. The actors were good and believable and very human, but what is the story really about? There are some classic fabulism elements here, but they are thrown onto the table in a haphazard manner. I can honestly only give this one three stars because of the bad storytelling. The actors had little to work with.

I Am Dina
(2002)

If You Love Ghost Stories
This film is a visually stunning and emotionally riveting ghost story that should be missed by no aficionado of the same.

Hannibal
(2013)

Deeply Disturbing
Nihilism and behavioral relativism are displayed as not only a viable alternative to belief in the right and wrong of a godly love-based morality, but as a far more intellectual and thus debonair way of life. I wonder how many who have watched this production from beginning to end secretly admire Hannibal Lecter? But taking the concept of selfishness to the extreme where every human being capable of becoming a Hannibal does so at the expense of every other human being who either will not or cannot, we are left with a handful of lonely warlords out to see who is the best of all ultra-intelligent cannibals. Thus the unity of mankind with our common goal of salvation is not only fractured, it is lost. Hannibal Lecter is the archenemy of mankind in human form--he is Satan, the Devil, etc. Out to do his own will despite what morality dictates; and he does not believe that such morality finds its source in a God but in a mankind interested in physical self-preservation, which is a concept utterly foreign to Judeo-Christian belief, the body being only a temporary tabernacle for an eternal spirit. We should be grateful that throughout history there have only been a handful of this type of demoniac, and they are all stopped eventually in one way or another. Omnia vincit amor. Vae victis. The Logos reigns supreme in the face of all denial; and, as Job prophesied, he did stand upon the Earth, and walked among us for a little while. He will return to judge the living and the dead.

Hannibal
(2013)

Deeply Disturbing
Nihilism and behavioral relativism are displayed as not only a viable alternative to belief in the right and wrong of a godly love-based morality, but as a far more intellectual and thus debonair way of life. I wonder how many who have watched this production from beginning to end secretly admire Hannibal Lecter? But taking the concept of selfishness to the extreme where every human being capable of becoming a Hannibal does so at the expense of every other human being who either will not or cannot, we are left with a handful of lonely warlords out to see who is the best of all ultra-intelligent cannibals. Thus the unity of mankind with our common goal of salvation is not only fractured, it is lost. Hannibal Lecter is the archenemy of mankind in human form--he is Satan, the Devil, etc. Out to do his own will despite what morality dictates; and he does not believe that such morality finds its source in a God but in a mankind interested in physical self-preservation, which is a concept utterly foreign to Judeo-Christian belief, the body being only a temporary tabernacle for an eternal spirit. We should be grateful that throughout history there have only been a handful of this type of demoniac, and they are all stopped eventually in one way or another. Omnia vincit amor. Vae victis. The Logos reigns supreme in the face of all denial; and, as Job prophesied, he did stand upon the Earth, and walked among us for a little while. He will return to judge the living and the dead.

The Door
(2012)

Exquisite
This film is an utter masterpiece. I've never seen anything like it, and found myself riveted to every word, every action, every camera angle. Helen Mirren and Martina Gedeck are absolutely flawless, and their chemistry together is superb. So, if you love the pursuit of truth and trust, challenges placed in front of organized religion (though not godless), homey mysteries, flashback storytelling, cats and dogs (or either one), references to the two devastating wars in the first half of the 20th century, and post-war suburban tales of sadness overcome in unique ways--or perhaps not overcome at all--then you'll love this classic film. I feel sure the low star rating is because the dialogue is so poetic and nuanced that the average person has not educated himself enough to understand what is being said. Mores the pity. This is a work of art not to be forgotten. Bravo to all involved!

When the Starlight Ends
(2016)

Writer?
I'm a writer of multiple genres, and widely published for over four decades to date. The script is pretentious and unrealistic, and was not written by a real writer, but a hack. Too bad. Quirky comedies have their place. Skip this one.

The Dark End of the Street
(2020)

Realism
The acting and direction are very good, and there may be one or two familiar faces along the way. What stands out the most about this little gem is its realism. You know these people--all of them--from the teenage skaters (one of them a reluctant hero) to the lonely old maid whose just lost her best friend to the pregnant young couple whose male half doesn't want to grow up yet to the second or third generation Korean family to the lonesome elderly Black widower, and everybody in between including the strange late-thirties sociopath who is the focus of this film which does a masterful job of encapsulating a fully nihilistic American once not so long ago caught in the throes of existential crisis.

Saint Maud
(2019)

Not Sure
It isn't certain whether the director is making a blind and ignorant stab at Christian sainthood or whether the point of the film is to expose religious extremism. If the first, then this is a well filmed and well acted ridiculous attempt to denigrate holy lives which have been with us for 45,000 years--since Adam and Eve. If the idea was to bring light to the religious psychopath experience, then well done all around. But since I'm not sure which angle was meant, I can only honestly give this film 5 stars, though the photography alone demands 10.

Nudity, Sex, Profanity, Gore, Body Horror, Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Murder, Demons masquerading as God

Probably not for viewers under 16.

Driftless
(2020)

Important Issues Highlighted
A number of the relevant issues facing Americans of all ethnicities are highlighted in this film including insane survivalists, the plight of the American Indians and some of the intricacies involving their identities, Skinheads and their off-kilter "white" agenda not too dissimilar to that of the survivalists, the average "white" American's privileged viewpoint regarding other ethnicities including Indians, multinational companies destroying flora and natural resources as well as living beings (animals and people) by fracking, and the general ignorance mixed with irrational arrogance of the average "white" American. One of the park rangers asks the question to another one, and I paraphrase, "Is it just me or have people become meaner and more ignorant lately," a question which echoes my own understanding of the last 20 years. In the 80s and 90s Americans were at relative peace with one another. What has happened to change that? We're on a downward spiral to full destruction if we don't turn back to our Creator, beg forgiveness, beg transformation, and begin to follow Jesus--or at least, as the older Americans once did, pretend to follow Jesus. It seems that pretense was far better than outright aggression like we all experience today. Organized religion sure has done a great job of sharing the good news of peace and goodwill and eternal life.

Bug
(2006)

Truly Psychologically Terrifying
The twist will send you reeling. This film is an unrecognized classic of psychological horror.

These Streets We Haunt
(2021)

Independent Film
For an independent film, this is a gem for those who like great acting, subtle humor, good shot angles, good writing, and everything else that sets a good film apart from one where the writer and/or director--not to mention the actors--has no clue how to tell a story. This one only gets 8 stars from me because I think the film could have been made better with more music (there are a few scenes where there is no music present at all, which is a bit disconcerting). The actors are, one and all, fantastic--even the supportive actors. Not one weak link. To all involved, bravo! I especially like the fresh theme of discovering that actual people are comic book villains and superheroes. In a way the story reminds me of INK, but isn't as bizarre. Maybe that's what is missing here--a truly bizarre angle. That said, though, I recommend this story to anyone who likes a slow-burn romance, evil stalkers in the night, good and believable dialogue, great actor chemistry, and hilarious dry humor (once the camera zooms in on a major character as he absently blows heavy vape smoke through his nostrils-- a touch of genius.) There were a few scenes where it seemed as if a high school aged director took over, but they are rare and the narration gets back on track without too much distraction. I'm all over the board with this review, but I do look forward to more from this director and the talented actors.

Creepshow
(2019)

Production Value Was Good
The comic book layout with all the bells and whistles was really nice, as was the episode with the little girl and her haunted dollhouse. I had high hopes, but then everything went downhill fast. For example, in episode three, I think, some older high school kids are going trick-or-treating, but their dialogue is utterly unrealistic for kids that age, and only realistic for perverted college-aged kids--most of whom are not perverted as shown here. So, here is where I stopped watching, because I've got too much to do and see to subject myself to really bad writing and acting. I'm a Horror writer, by the way.

Possessed
(2000)

The Story That Spawned 'The Exorcist'
Great story here to be told, but so much of it was "off" that the entire film suffers tragically. I give it 5 of 10 stars because the shots, colors, and acting, at least from a few, were nice. This is supposedly a retelling of the actual events which inspired the classic Horror film The Exorcist starring Linda Blair. I also like how God is sincerely invoked for his authority over the situation, but I disagree with the priest saying that Jesus was sometimes afraid.

Knocking on Death's Door
(1999)

Ghost Stories
Ghost Stories are my favorite film and literature genres, but this film is a tragedy. What happened? Interesting concept, but shockingly poor execution.

Imaginary Friend
(2012)

More
More mindless saccharine-sweet garbage for imagination-starved viewers. I'm embarrassed and angry that I watched this drivel. Ridiculous waste of precious time.

Rise
(2014)

Not the Typical
This is not the typical prison flick; not by a long shot. This story is about love and forgiveness and how lives are transformed by the two. Too, it's a true story, which makes it far more powerful than a work of fiction. Well directed, expertly acted, beautifully shot, gorgeously written.

1-10 scale-- Violence: 8; Foul Language: 10; Sexual situations: 1; Drug use: 10.

The Last of the Manson Girls
(2018)

Less Devil, More Human
It seems the point of this film is to re-humanize the broken followers of Manson; to make them less demonic and more humans in need of love. Quirky, colorful, and out-of-sequence like an acid trip, this is not a landmark film or even a great one. It may not even ever be considered important, and will likely quickly be forgotten and never reach cult viewing status. Nevertheless, if you're old enough to remember the Vietnam War era, something here will click for you.

The Fly Room
(2014)

Perverted
If you love sexual perversion, this is your movie. I had to turn it off.

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