Archive for drugs

‘Once Upon a Time In Venice’: No More Naked Skateboarding, please

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2017 by aliciamovie

onceuponatimevenice

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: Mark Cullen

Studio: Voltage Pictures

Review Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Through a series of bizarre circumstances and roundabout confrontations, down but never out former detective turned private investigator Steve Ford gets his beloved dog stolen by Venice’s toughest gang!

It’s like the movie tried to capture the magic of ‘Go’ or ‘Snatch’ or even ‘The Big Hit’ (don’t judge, I enjoyed that last one), with the convoluted circular storylines, but in the rather relaxed setting of Venice Beach, California.

The character of Steve Ford, played by Bruce Willis as he is, seems rather unlikely to me. The man is past 60, and yet playing a character who has playful sex with women considerably younger than him (who also happen to have severely protective Samoan brothers), skateboards down deserted roads in all his naked glory (you can assume that was a stunt double), and can still badass throw down with the worst of them if need be, which he does when confronting Jason Momoa’s gang leader character Spider to get his niece’s dog back. John (Thomas Middleditch) is Steve’s assistant and the film is mostly narrated by him as we get introduced to the various sundry characters Steve’s about to have to deal with. And don’t forget Dave (John Goodman), Steve’s recently divorced and rather suicidal best friend, who needs something to get his mind off his pathetic excuse for a life and of course offers to help Steve with his own troubles. Steve loves his niece and she loves her dog Buddy, which means when the dog gets stolen to get back at Steve, the hang-loose godfather of the Venice neighborhood needs to get the poochie back by any means necessary!

Steve understands that making deals with drug lords, loan sharks, pissed-off Samoan brothers and other unsavory characters isn’t a good idea, but hey, Buddy’s in trouble and time’s running out. There has to be a way to settle his debts with every single last one of these shady nutjobs and get Buddy back safe and sound, preferably without another naked nighttime jaunt on a skateboard. (I guess it wouldn’t be quite the Venice Beach style to have Uncle Steve riding his naked glory getaway on a Harley.) Unlike many of Willis’ other characters, Steve tries hard to leave the violence as a last resort, though he can certainly kick your weak ass, if need be.

So without giving anything away, Uncle Steve does manage to wrap things up more or less nicely near the end, with a minimal amount of fuss and muss. There are even a few clever boots moments, though for the most part they are entirely predictable and therefore one-shot-ed at best. The movie is a perfectly fine way to waste an afternoon, but it will never live up to action standards like the Die Hard series.

‘Antibirth’: Drugs are bad, mmk?

Posted in horror, Sci-Fi with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2017 by aliciamovie

antibirth

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: Danny Perez

Studio: Traverse Media

Review Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Don’t-give-a-shit druggie Lou, after yet another night of wild partying, finds herself pregnant with something possibly out of this world!

Since watching this film I discovered that the director intended it to be looked at as a psychedelic horror flick, and while the dictionary defines “psychedelic” as both having to do with the drug LSD and the trippy kaleidoscopic visions it causes, I don’t recall ever seeing Lou pop LSD in the movie. Sure, she pops everything else she can get her hands on, like a kid in a candy store, but the movie doesn’t get real specific on what the pills being popped are. Which is, actually, I think kind of the point, one of the very few plot points the film actually has.

Like most other contracted-STD horror flicks out now, the very beginning is where Lou (Natasha Lyonne) apparently gets knocked up, and the whole experience is kind of a drugged-out blur trip. Annnd then we cut to Lou and her friend Sadie (Chloe Sevigny) in the nasty-ass trailer Lou sorta lives in, where Lou complains about the mess of her life and endures pregnancy-like symptoms, all while getting high and noshing and generally not changing a single thing about the way she lives. Lou remains this way pretty much through the entire movie, with her give-zero-fucks attitude and near constant abuse of drugs and alcohol, all through the visit to the veterinary friends office for advice, the few hours of “work” at some rundown motel with another druggie friend of hers, and of course the rest of the time spent getting high on one thing or another and complaining.

It’s really hard to keep a linear timeline of whatever the hells going on in this movie, but I gather Lou’s “pregnancy” only lasts about a week or so. We the audience learn that Lou’s dealer Gabriel (Mark Webber) is also Sadie’s boyfriend, and he and his partner Warren have been keeping all sorts of secrets from the both of them. Mostly this newfangled experimental drug that already destroyed the face of one of their many hooker girls, supposedly some kind of hormone supplement that was discontinued but that Gabriel and Warren decided to distribute anyway, and guess who they administered it to.

Little happens as we follow Lou from one drug score and gripe session to the next, until damn near the very end of the movie when suddenly Lou’s stomach and nightmare psychedelic visions go into overdrive. This strange woman, Lorna (Meg Tilly), that Lou met at the motel shows up at the cottage right as Lou’s about to give birth to whatever’s straining in there, but as the mess and the sheer strangeness of it all reaches a fever pitch, these military-like guys in fatigues with big guns show up and shit gets even weirder!

Barely qualifying as a Horror flick, Antibirth rather reminds me as more of a kind of Sci-Fi warning against promiscuity, the taking of virtually any drugs or drinking, and perhaps even a tiny message against the Pro-Lifers stance of all life being sacred and a woman pregnant of rape or incest being forced to carry the baby to birth. There are some fairly good slices of that misunderstood subgenre of Horror, the Body-Horror category, but the big reveal at the end kind of moved away from that in a big hurry. A good deal of the film does indeed sport psychedelic imagery and swirling visions, characterized as a kind of acidic fever dream borne of a woman’s own desire to not be involved in the incredibly messy and, let’s face it, often downright disgusting process of giving birth.

Make sure you wash your hands after catching Antibirth on Netflix!

San Diego International Film Festival presents ‘Pushing Dead’: It’s only funny if it’s NOT you

Posted in comedy, drama, Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2017 by aliciamovie

pushing_dead

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: Tom E. Brown

Studio: Bugsby Pictures

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

When an HIV-positive man makes a tiny banking error that abruptly closes off his financial aid, suddenly he is forced to deal with a snail-like bureaucracy or somehow come up with the $3,000+ or so per month he needs to continue his life saving medications.

It was very odd to see James Roday, most known for his starring role on USA’s Psych, playing Dan, a funny character in a rather unfunny situation. Danny Glover in a supporting role as Dan’s boss and friend Bob, with his side stories of love gone wrong and own health issues, brings the same gruff but ultimately lovable fatherly-type figure he’s known for. Khandi Alexander is Bob’s wife Dot, and their off-again-on-again relationship is a hoot to watch. Robin Weigert as Dan’s roommate Paula has her own odd things going on too, but we never doubt her love and concern for Dan.

So we begin with Dan in his usual watch-beeps-time-to-take-meds routine, receiving a $100 birthday check from his mom and depositing it without really thinking about it. Next thing we and Dan knows, this sudden influx of riches has pushed his health benefits plan past the breaking point and he gets apologetically cut off. His friends, his boss, his roommate are all completely impotent when it comes to actually helping Dan, and the bureaucracy of the health care benefit system has all the sympathy of the Walrus and the Carpenter and the Oysters.

Dan proceeds to take this situation and does, well, he does fuck-all with it. He complains to his friends, he tries to help others since he sincerely cannot help himself, and in general Dan continues to live as though he might die tomorrow. (Given how his life is based around the taking of all these HIV medications, that is actually more possible than the audience seems to realize.) Time is counting down, despair is spiraling inward, and Dan is trying all sorts of desperate moves to either get the money or the meds he needs before he, potentially literally, begins falling apart!

It all comes to a head when Dan saves a transvestite from a severe beating and, despite his own current unhealthy condition, does his damnedest to get the sobbing woman to a hospital. There is a moment in here where, after Dan staves off the attack and goes to help the woman, she protests and tells him she’s “positive” and he should beware. Without a second thought, Dan replies that so is he, and lifts the rather heavy woman into his skinny arms, because that’s the kind of nice guy he is.

And this one instance of fellowship, of white-knight syndrome that Dan just can’t seem to help, is what actually saves his own ass. I don’t want to give the ending away, it is a rather neat and heartfelt way of wrapping the entire situation up before the movie ends. It is kind a shame that that sort of thing almost never happens in real life and far too many HIV+ folks who need all sorts of medications to stay alive and even semi-healthy are ignored or ridiculed for it, but Pushing Dead does seem to bring their plight to life in a loving, funny, and sympathetic way.

‘Designated Survivor’ Premiere: It could be you, too

Posted in Action, drama, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2016 by aliciamovie

designatedsurvivor

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

So Tom Kirkland (Kiefer Sutherland) is what we in the storytelling world call the Everyman – he has a thankless government job (Housing and Urban Development) that brings him in constant contact with the little people, a loving wife (Natasha McElhone) and two children (the adorably snarky little girl and the drug-dealing teenage son), and he’s just trying to do the best he can and get by. In fact, yes, before this nonsense went down, Tom was about to be “gifted” a new job as ambassador to … do we even remember? Tom asks, in disbelief, is that even a thing? Doesn’t matter, he’s assured it is indeed a thing now, and while ambassadorial perks are peachy, it means uprooting his family yet again, to Canada this time, and effectively admitting he’d just been fired from the Secretary of Housing job.

None of this sits well with Tom, of course, but he chooses not to make a fuss on the night of the Presidents State of the Union address, despite the added insult to injury business of having all his HUDS talking points removed from the speech. He and his politico wife Alex are just hangin out in the secret location for the Designated Survivor, the one person we know damned well and can prove is part of our American government and somewhere far down the line of succession, but is ultimately expendable.

The Presidents speech is droning on while Tom and Alex have popcorn, and then hey, the channel cuts out. That would be only mildly disturbing, but then Secret Service rushes in like the world had just officially ended, sending everyones pulses jackhammering, especially when Tom exposes a window to the capitol. A miniature mushroom cloud is silhouetted against the black sky where the Capitol building used to stand, and holy shit dude, Tom Kirkland, the official Designated Survivor, just by default became the freaking President of the United States.

Tom and his family, minus the teenaged son who they’re still looking for, get whisked away to the White House and suddenly the everyman politician in freaking sweats and glasses is being sworn in as the leader of the free world. And Tom ends up having the exact same reaction many of us would be having in that situation – he just hurls. There is an up side to this though, because it’s here in the bathroom that Tom meets Seth Wright (Kal Penn), a speechwriter for Congress, and apparently the one person prepared to tell Tom the actual truth and his genuine opinion.

A whole bunch more insane stuff happens to poor Tom, including his introduction to the nuclear football, his first attempts at “aggressive negotiations” with a foreign diplomat, and his meeting the psycho scorched-earth-policy military general. Hannah Wells (Maggie Q) is the FBI agent with the eternal troubled past who’s now conducting the investigation into the bombing of the capitol and the possibility of further attacks. Between Maggie Q’s authority and Sutherland’s presence, the show is a fine combination of FBI crime drama and political humanitarian drama, with a twist – in theory, any one of us could be Tom Kirkland, and have near exactly the same reactions as him. Kiefer Sutherland has been a wonderful dramatic actor for years, and Designated Survivor continues to showcase his family acting dynasty talents. Hopefully the show can keep the same tempo going they had in the pilot episode, so we can continue to appreciate the superb drama of this show, to combat the farce of our real-life current political situation, if nothing else.

Barrio Tales

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Foreign, horror, Movies, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2013 by aliciamovie

Barrio-Tales-Movie-Poster-DVD-Jarret-Tarnol

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Tarnol Group Pictures

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Jarret Tarnol

Review Rating: 7

A pair of American dudes on the hunt for cheap drugs in Barrio, Mexico, encounter instead tales of horror, Mexicn-style!

I’m a big fan of Tales from the Hood, which is an adorable collection of Horror stories told from the black point of view. And that is more or less what I expected Barrio Tales to be, a collection of Horror stories told with a Mexican slant. And it is, for the most part, very tongue-in-cheek laugh-at-yourself kind of tales, with a spicy salsa drop – sometimes literally.

First we have Maria, one of those eternal surprise revenge stories. Maria is a beautiful young maid working in a house for some jerkoff white college boys whose parents are away for the weekend, and throughout the course of the day they grow continually more belligerent and rude towards Maria. Until it all culminates in Maria’s untimely death, when the genius frats decide hey, let’s toss the maid into the pool – oh sh*t, she hit her head, that’s blood, is she dead?! Of course Maria has a vengeful grandmother who happens to be a Brujah, that’s witch to you uneducated types, or Voodoo priestess, or whatever, she basically casts a vengeance spell on all these college dicks that destroyed her precious granddaughter and they all die. Sadly, the manner of deaths is rather abrupt and nowhere near bloody enough for what they obviously deserved.

Our second story is Uncle Tio’s Taco Truck, and just from the title one can actually guess what the Horror will be in this one. I thought they wouldn’t actually go there, the whole love of Mexican tacos is a planetwide thing now as far as I’m concerned, but they did. In case you can’t guess it, yes, Uncle Tio’s tacos are made from the meat of, well, teenagers. And when some of the teens helping Uncle Tio late in the evening with his beloved taco truck begin disappearing and questions are being asked, Uncle Tio has to take drastic measures. It’s campy and fun, the story could’ve been much better or conversely much worse, instead the salsa on Uncle Tio’s tacos is frankly, rather mild.

The last story is El Monstruo, annnnd once again it’s very droll once one gets past the first part of the story. A pair of apparently very helpful good ole white boys offer some Mexicanos attempting to sneak into America a way inside, only to drug and bring them all to a farm where the hunt shall begin soon, a la the Firefly family. (That was a Rob Zombie movie reference, for those paying attention.) Of course, in this area there is a legend of El Monstruo, The Monster, who goes around slaughtering folk indiscriminately. At first we think, as the Latinos attempt to fight back against their white captors, that El Monstruo is this big hulking Tiny-like (there’s another RZ reference) killer white guy that can’t himself be killed, but that turns out to not be the case. The final showdown between the hunters and the would-be hunted is, let’s be honest, abrupt and largely a letdown.

What we call the Wraparound story, the thread story of the two teenagers looking for cheap drugs and instead are fed Mexican Horror tales to pass the time while their contact is coming, is pretty much also as you’d expect. In the end, the tale-teller decides the stupid gringos haven’t learned a thing and clears the way for the next batch of whites looking to score drugs. It’s often either way too cheesy, or simply not cheesy enough, and the snark that other Horror anthologies bring to the table is really missing.

San Diego Latino Film Festival 2013 presents Hecho en Mexico (Made in Mexico)

Posted in comedy, drama, Foreign, Kids, Movies, Musical, Romance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2013 by aliciamovie

Hecho-En-Mexico-wide

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio:  El Mall

MPAA Rating: R

Director:  Duncan Bridgeman

Review Rating: 6.5

Using the diversity now available in Mexican music as a framework, everything from traditional Mariachi to up-and-coming rap, the documentary approaches contemporary Mexican culture and modern and lasting issues.

The whole of the movie is basically various issues faced by Mexicans today: work, family, religion, health, etc, set in vignettes that basically shake the collective finger at the viewer, interspliced with various forms of modern Mexican music. Rap, contemporary rock, Mariachi, folk, many different forms of traditional and the like, all provide a framework to a whole bunch of apparent disapproval with which the filmmaker casts at the audiences’ modern way of life. The migrant workers who espouse that they just want to cross the border to find work in the better land, for example. Or the battle between the sexes, always an issue for the Latino community, and how the battle is unbalanced due to the sacred elevation of any woman once she becomes a mother. The issue of religion or more to the point the lack of it is addressed, though in a contradictory act, the sacred worship of the pregnant Virgin of Guadalupe is also given its’ own entire segment. Another whole segment is given to the abuse of the body by drugs, which I will grant you is worth some finger shaking, but the film goes so far as to admonish for even the use of caffeine, and that’s just unrealistic. Like pretty much the rest of the entire audience, I did not go to this movie to be chided the entire time. I went for the music, so, on to that.

I did not know there was so much diversity in Mexican music at this point. I’ve heard Latino rap before, and one can’t live in Southern California without learning a small smattering of Spanish by osmosis. The music provides a rich counterpoint to the rebukes of the film, but there is a bit of a problem. Like a good deal of any modern rap from any nation, it sounds good until you actually listen (or in this case read) to what they’re actually saying. The film dutifully provides subtitles for all the music, and a great deal of it is either lamenting their tortured history or complaining about the current situation, and yes a lot of it has to do with the United States. The audience obviously had some favorite singers they were there to support, given the cheering when certain singers were given their segments, but that was all they were there for as far as I could tell. Entirely not what I was expecting at all, the film nevertheless provides thought-provoking slices of Mexican life, all set to a gloriously diverse soundtrack.