Monthly Archives: October, 2014

'Horns' Wickedly Entertaining by Pamela Powell

October 31st, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “'Horns' Wickedly Entertaining by Pamela Powell”


Daniel Radcliffe takes on the lead role of “Horns,” a Halloween horror flick hitting theaters aptly today, October 31.  Although it is a limited release, you can watch it in the comfort of your own home on VOD.  But if you can see it in the theater, it’ll have a much greater and more impressive impact.


horns6Iggy Perrish (Radcliffe) is madly in love with his childhood sweetheart, Merrin (Juno Temple), but she is brutally murdered and Iggy is the prime suspect.  Professing his innocence, with the entire town out to convict him, Iggy must somehow find the truth.   That can be a tricky thing, unless you happen to grow a set of horns out of your head.

horns2Iggy’s trust in God and religion is more than wavering.  His overt gestures of renouncement, set the ball rolling for him to become the monster that the town already thinks he is.  Now, you might think this is going to be one of those classic devil vs. God movies and to some extent you might be right.  However, with the narration of Iggy to explain his thoughts and feelings throughout the film, the devil isn’t too far from an angel.  It’s certainly a different twist on the Good versus Evil theme!

This film is wickedly funny in just the right ways.  It is also a story-line that will bait and hook you, reeling you into the plot as dark and unsavory information is revealed.  Have you ever just wanted to blurt something out that truly wasn’t appropriate?  Have you had those evil thoughts, but would never admit to anyone you have themhorns5?  Well, Iggy’s new persona brings out the worst in anyone, but in an enlightening and frequently entertaining way.  Think of the new Iggy as a negative therapist.  You tell him everything, but that “everything” is all bad.  

horsn3Yes, there’s blood and gore involved.  And of course, there’s sex.  And the crucifix to save.  And some pretty amazing special effects and make-up.  “Horns” covers every possible area possible:  humor, religion, homosexuality, drama, violence, parent-child relationships, and sex.  If you love to be creeped out, but want to laugh a little while you are, you’re going to enjoy this film.


Radcliffe plays the role as if he has become the angry wizard working for the dark side.  He’s grown up and portraying this devilish dude with style.  Juno Temple is always an unusually entertaining actress and this role is no different.  You always feel like there’s more to her than meets the eye.  Heather Graham is also in this film.  Her part is very minor, but you’ll love her role!  She’s beautiful and hilarious as she chats with Iggy about her involvement in the murder investigation.  There’s such reality with what she says in such a mocking, but matter of fact way.

If you can look at this film for what it is and don’t take the religious aspect seriously, you’ll enjoy it.  Otherwise, the devil versus God aspect might be offensive.  I found it to be creepy, gory, and funny with a good story that entertained me!

Happy Halloween everyone!


October 31st, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “'NIGHTCRAWLER' TRULY CREEPY by Pamela Powell”



“Nightcrawler” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, opens this weekend, but you might be surprised as to what kind of film this is.   The film’s title conjures thoughts of creepy crawly things that slither through the darkest of hours.  “Nightcrawler” is also opening on Halloween weekend.  It sounds like a horror flick, but it’s not—at least not in the typical way.  “Nightcrawler” is more of an on-the-edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller.  However, this does not mean it won’t scare you…the basic concept is very scary indeed!


Here’s the scary question:  What is “news” and how doenightcrawler5s the media portray it?  What sells?   Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is a unique and highly intelligent individual who just doesn’t fit in.  He’s odd.  He has no job and resorts to stealing and hocking his stolen goods at pawn shops.  With the purchase of a pawn-shop video camera, Lou stumbles upon a new career as a freelance television videographer.  Roaming the streets at night, he films brutal car wrecks and shootings. The more gruesome the footage, the more money tv stations will pay for that film.  Remember, he’s unusually smart and he is able to work the system.  With his fledgling “partner”  by his side to guide him, Lou recklessly careens through the LA streets at night as he rises in the ranks of the nightcrawlers.  They both walk a very fine moral line, always teetering, and not always caring where that line is drawn.


“Nightcrawler” has you guessing from the very beginning as to who Lou is, what motivates him, and where this film is heading!  It is truly gripping as you are immersed in the action and nuances of the film.  The tension of the situations is palpable as you dare not to blink for fear of missing a single moment.  Strangely, Lou is a main character you cannot nor do you want to like.  But there is something in this detached individual that you understand as he climbs up his bizarre professional ladder.  And Lou isn’t the only vermin feeding on the horrors that a city can bring at night.  Interestingly, the dregs of society are not always those that are obviously in front of us.  From news directors that are less than upstanding to other “nightcrawlers” also scouring the streets in search of the next bloody scene, you question who is the truly heartless person in this film.  Does the media care about the people or just what is going to bring in the ratings? The moral compass isn’t always pointing at true north and it makes you wonder if these conversations abonightut legality versus morality truly occur in newsrooms across America.


Unfortunately, even withnight2 the high intensity of the film, there are some story flaws.  The ending of the film takes away the credibility of what you’ve just spent 2 hours viewing and the police officers and detectives are portrayed as truly bumbling idiots.  Listening to the delivery of the lines of a detective during an interrogation of a suspect, you question whether or not the cop is even capable of tying her shoes in the morning.  The legal aspects of the movie are truly far-fetched and unrealistic, but if you can dismiss or overlook this, you will experience a very thrilling and chilling ride about human character.


Gyllenhaal’s emaciated frame gives an even creepier feel to his already disconnected psyche.  The smile that slowly plasters his face lacks a human quality, yet you are captivated by his intensity and drive.  He deftly portrays an emotionless individual with a intellect beyond compare as he craftily figures out what makes people tick.  Rick (nightcrawler6Rick Garcia) is the sweet and trusting underling that gives the balance to Gyllenhaal’s Vulcan-like emotions.  Rick’s Bambi big brown eyes and nervousness, gave the human touch and emotion needed to balance Gyllenhaal’s character.  The two were the epitome of a yin-yang relationship.


“Nightcrawler” is a tension-filled, power ride of scary proportions that quite accurately portrays what draws an audience to a newscast.  Although this is not your typical Halloween movie, it is a thrilling psychological film that will keep you guessing, captivated, and clenching your teeth until the very end. It won’t keep you up at night, but maybe it should.  Remember that at 10 pm as you turn on your favorite news channel!


'Deranged Thinking' Takes 1st Place

October 23rd, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “'Deranged Thinking' Takes 1st Place”

MadeInKankakee v01The Made In Kankakee 48 Hour Film Festival showcased its second set of short films on Sunday night to an audience comprised of filmmakers and judges.  5 films entered the contest with one lucky and talented winner at the end of the night.


Adhering to the contest’s original parameters, filmmakers are required to pick strips of paper with items named and a phrase to include in their film.  Every film is also required to have a Halloween theme and to be shot on a smart phone.  And in 48 short hours, 5 truly creativity films are produced.  For some of the filmmakers, it is their first time.  For others, such as the winner, it is the second time participating.Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 8.58.08 AM


Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 9.00.10 AMAlex Dempsey, writer of “Deranged Thinking”, along with Cinematographer Sam Brinkman and a cast of 5, take first place in the Made In Kankakee 48 Hour Film Festival.  With the Halloween theme, the cast and crew perfectly portray a doomsday scenario complete with surprises and a gripping story-line.


Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 8.58.40 AM“Deranged Thinking” centers around a virus that has engulfed the Illinois and Indiana area.  As the group of teens sit in a basement, virtually held captive by the unknown, they learn of a way to get out and gain safety.  The teens are disheartened initially, but when a plan of action is certain, they band together and start on their adventure.  Where they end up will definitely surprise you.


“Deranged Thinking” is a tight and timely story that captures the essence of helplessness and hope in the mind of teens.  As the dialogue flows naturally and effortlessly, the story develops with each and every layer supporting the next.   With the music overlay and the intuitive cinematography, the mood is set and the filmScreen Shot 2014-10-21 at 8.59.52 AM ingeniously comes to life.  You will assuredly be drawn into their journey.


In 6 short minutes, this young group of filmmakers and actors have successfully told a visually and intellectually interesting story.  The camera angles and perspecScreen Shot 2014-10-21 at 8.59.00 AMtive taken to portray the appropriate feelings and capture the  emotions of the actors compares to a seasoned veteran cinematographer.  The combination of the realistic writing skills and the actors’ abilities give heart and depth to the film.  “Deranged Thinking” has the creative base from which to build this multilayered and complex film in a seemingly simple way.


The high quality of all the aspects of filmmaking in “Deranged Thinking” are apparent.  The acting, writing, editing, and ciScreen Shot 2014-10-21 at 8.59.25 AMnematography are all spot-on to capture an audience’s attention from beginning to end.  A truly well-deserved first place win!  I’m guessing that this team of filmmakers will continue on for more success!


Go to this site to see the full film!  DERANGED THINKING VIMEO

'St. Vincent' It Is What It Is by Pamela Powell

October 21st, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “'St. Vincent' It Is What It Is by Pamela Powell”



“St. Vincent” stars Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, and Jaeden Lieberher.  A  precocious young boy and his divorcing mother move in next door to a cantakerous curmudgeon who wants nothing more than to be left alone.  That, however, is not to be the case.  Due to circumstances beyond Maggie’s (McCarthy) control, Vincent (Murray) becomes the default babysitter…accent on the fault.


St. Vincent Trailer

Theodore Melfi writes and directs this gritty yet charming story about family and friends.  Maggie and her husband are going through a tumultuous divorce and she is relocating next to Vincent who has major issues in his life.  His dilapidated house and gambling debts are just the two very apparent difficulties and when Maggie finds herself with no one to care for her son due to long work hours, Vincent begrudgingly accepts the job—the rather well-paying job.  As the story progresses, we find there is more to Vincent than meets the eye and Oliver gets a lesson or two in real

“St. Vincent” is an entertaining film and story that will tug on your heart-strings.  As Oliver is bullied in school, Vincent finds a way to help this scrawny underling defend himself, much to his mother’s chagrin.  The relationship that Oliver and Vincent develop is heartwarming albeit rather predictable.  But even with its formulaic writing, the story keeps your interest.  And quite interestingly, neither Murrast. vincent22y nor McCarthy are the comics in this film.  That role is left to Chris O’Dowd who plays the Catholic priest and teacher at Oliver’s new school.  Humor truly abounds every time O’Dowd opens his mouth.  When comparing the various religions in his classroom, he states that being Catholic is obviously the best religion because it has the most rules.  The lines pour from his mouth to give this otherwise rather sombre movie more interest and life.  

Murray takes on a role less characteristic of himself as the outwardly heartless old man who cares about no one but himself.  As the outward st.vincent1layers are slowly peeled away, the real person is revealed.  Oliver sees this and with his school project finds Vincent to be the focal point of his presentation.  Murray’s portrayal is of Vincent and all of his flaws is genuine for the most part.  Although some of the dialogue at times is a bit flat, the overall believability of this angry, bitter man is there.  

McCarthy’s character of Maggie shows that she is capable of so much more than just the over-the-top comic counterpart.  Her presence was real, begging empathy from the audience.  But the true standout of this film comes in a very small but powerful package in Jaeden Lieberher playing Oliver.  At the ripe age of 11, Jaeden brought life and complexity to the part.  His depth of feeling through the expression on his face was convincingly apparent.  Watching Murray and Lieberher on the screen evokes a sense of tenderness and warmth.  You truly care about these characters and are invested in the film.stvincentmel

“St. Vincent” finds a way to bring three unlikely characters together and tell a passionate story of life.  Although you can easily predict the story line, it is the genuineness of the characters that keep you interested in what’s to come.  The film delivers the message that there is always a deeper story than meets the eye.  Thstvincentboye talented cast placed in unlikely roles is never questioned, but the use of comedy brings the needed levity of the film through the unlikely role of the Catholic priest.  

“St. Vincent” is a beautifully told story capitalizing on the strengths of its stars.  The predictable story becomes evident, but this is forgivable because it’s such a sweet and tender story.   There’s never anything wrong with being reminded that you can’t judge a book by its cover.  And that is truly St. Vincent.  Be sure to bring tissues with you as this film truly will pull on your heartstrings!

(This is not a film intended for kids under 13 as there is some sexual content and language that is not appropriate for younger kids.)


"On Beauty" Finds True Beauty by Pamela Powell

October 20th, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “"On Beauty" Finds True Beauty by Pamela Powell”

“On Beauty” had its world premiere at the 50th Chicago International Film Festival.  This daring and decisively thought-provoking film has the potential to change human behavior.  And after meeting the filmmaker and stars of the film, I am certain it will change the world for the better.

On Beauty Trailer

Imagine walking down the street and everyone staring at and whispering about you.  Imagine a world where people wanted to kill you to use your bones as a good luck charm.  The first scenario sounds remarkably uncomfortable and year after year of this behavior could have detrimental affects on your self-esteem as well as every aspect of your life.  The second scenario sounds preposterous, but unfortunately, it’s as real as can be.  In fact, a child with Albinism was murdered just recently in Tanzania for use as good luck.  But the new documentary “On Beauty,” and all who are involved in this film, are changing how we see each other and how others are treated.


“On Beauty” delves into the lives of people who are seemingly different on the outside and who are not seen for who they truly are.  Rick Guidotti, renowned fashion photographer, feels that his skills could be used to a greater good.  Being drawn to the beauty of a girl with Albinism, he was disheartened by the literature he read about the genetic disorder.  All of the photos he saw were horrific in their display.  What he had seen was a beautiful girl  and he wants the world to see what he saw.  With determination and focus, Rick allows the world to see the face of Albinism in a different and more positive way.  With his company Positive Exposure, he meets Jayne Waithera from Kenya who wants nothing more than to shed new light on Albinism.  The film highlights Jayne, her background, and the atrocities occurring in her community.  


Rick continues to be called upon to photograph both children and adults who have differences.  “On Beauty” follows Jayne and her endeavors to educate her community and country about Albinism and Rick continues to photograph people such as Sarah with Sturge-Weber Syndrome who looks different because of a port wine stain on her face.  “On Beauty” captures how others’ reactions have bullied her into a life of reclusion…until now.  Rick’s photography skills have enabled Sarah to feel as beautiful as she truly is. 



The film continues to show that this prejudice is more far-reaching than we would like to believe.  Rick was contacted by the Chromosome 18 group, asking to photograph these children with developmental delays.  Rick captures what these kids are—kids…beautiful, happy children.  They are not the text book pictures the medical community sees.  These are children and Rick is finding ways to help educate the doctors who will treat children with not only Chromosome 18, but all congenital anomalies.


“On Beauty” redefines how we see not only “beauty” but the heart of another human being.  This film will shake you at your core and enrage you that others could possibly be treated in such a way.  It will also educate you as to what so many others are feeling, but most importantly, “On Beauty” will bring a true smile to your face.



Joanna Rudnick’s film “On Beauty” definitively shows us that beauty is not defined by what we see on the cover of a magazine. Rick Guidotti’s energetically positive personality and exceptional photographic skills captures the fact that a smile is beautiful and brings life and love to the surface.  “On Beauty” is one of the most beautiful documentaries I have seen with the potential to make a positive difference in this world.


For more information, go to


The recorded interview with Joanna Rudnick, filmmaker, Rick Guidotti, and Jayne Waithera will be available on this website soon.

See the filmmakers’ biographies here  Filmmaker Bios


'The Best of Me' Typical Sparks Movie by Pamela Powell

October 17th, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “'The Best of Me' Typical Sparks Movie by Pamela Powell”


BEST poster


Nicholas Sparks, the romance writer, has done it again.  “The Best of Me” is the 9th film to be produced based on one of his novels.   James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan star in this typical and unrealistic romance film as the long lost lovers who reunite in their small Texan home town.  The death of a mutual older friend has brought them back together to heal old wounds and pave the path for a new tomorrow.  Yep, I just wrote that.  Excuse me while I grab one of those airline bags…. Thanks for waiting for me.  I’m back.bestchest

The Best of Me Movie Trailer

“The Best of Me” centers around the lives of Dawson (Marsden) and Amanda (Monaghan) who are obviously connected to one another from many years ago.  But exactly what their connections are, we don’t initially know, but I can guess.   The film unfolds  as we jump back and forth through time, enabling the viewer to understand how the two came to be where they are now.  In typical Sparks fashion, the two have obstacles to overcome throughout their lives, but alas,  true love rises above all else.  (Yes, I just wrote that too…excuse me one more time…I’ll be right back.) The story covers all the bases:  a child’s death, a wife’s death, a child being raised in a poor environment, young love, lost love, parental love, but surprisingly there were no animals to love in this film.bestlookbesttree

From the moment the characters are presented on the screen, the signs of things to come bombarded the viewer like 20′ neon signs flashing.  To miss these obvious foreshadowing would be like not noticing you were walking along Niagara Falls.  We follow these perfectly laid out red flashing arrows to bring us to the predicted outcome.  There is absolutely no surprise in any aspect of the story, whatsoever.

In another film review of a Nicholas Sparks adaptation, I apologized to men everywhere.  Again, I want to apologize to them as they can never live up to these far-fetched dreams we women have about romance and love.  These films just reiterate what we want and what we can never have. “The Best of Me” once again hammers this home. In true Sparks fashion, we once again have the kiss in the pouring rain (romantic for all of you cold-hearted readers out there), the longing looks lasting for an uncomfortable amount of time, the guy talking about his feelings and thoughts in-depth ad nauseum (again, this is romantic, people!) and the passionate kiss with bodies and hands placed perfectly.  Speaking of perfect, Texas is paradise.  Yes, I’m sure many of you don’t know that.  I lived there and I didn’t realize it either.  You see, every day appears to be a day from a Monet painting.  With rhododendron, azaleas, impatience, alyssum, roses, and petunias blooming at the same time all the time, Monet would have been in heaven!  If only my garden could look like that year-round here in Illinois!  And the roses that bloom among the Spanish moss that snap off perfectly to give to “your gal” is simply astounding and so realistic! (This is romantic sarcasm now.)  But wait!  There’s more!  The eye-candy for females is awkward and uncomfortable.  As our star Luke Bracey, the “Younger Dawson” who is supposed to be 17 years old (no way) gardens with his shirt off and his jeans near his nether regions, his abs and chest are prominently focused upon while he attempts to look away from the camera.  Why is this awkward?   Because he looks completely uncomfortable with it.  You can almost hear him saying, “How much longer do I need to stand here looking out into the distance while I rest my arm upon my shovel?  I feel really weird!”  And weird bestsabsit is.  Actually, it’s not.  It’s just so obvious as to what the director is trying to accomplish!  You 17 -25 year old girls will be fine with this scene.  We 40+ year olds will feel just as weird as Bracey appears.

That brings me to the actors.  When I think of James Marsden, I think of Anchorman 2 where he plays Jack Lime.  Or is it Jack Lame?  He has played many characters, he’s exceptionally good looking, but in this film, his lines make him seem completely stilted and not very intelligent.  In fact, the Young Dawson was much more conversant and intelligent sounding.  Perhaps the years of working on a rig out at sea stifled his conversational skills.  Bracey as the Young Dawson, I must admit, does everything he possibly can with this role.  He’s abused by his low life father.  He’s smart.  He’s kind and good-hearted.  And he’s a nerd.  Tbesthat last part is a bit far-fetched, but the rest of it he pulls off.  Where the casting is truly laughable is with Dawson’s father and brothers.  These southern hillbilly, white trash, rednecks look like they went to the local costume store and said, “I want to be a southern hillbilly, white trash redneck for Halloween.  Can you hook me up?”  All of these characters were so over the top, they drew attention to that very fact.

This very slow moving, poorly edited film continued to drag on painfully.  The editing is obvious when Monaghan successfully pulls off being a ventriloquist.  There are two scenes where she’s talking, but her lips aren’t moving.   If I’m noticing this, why didn’t the editing team?  This formulaic film typifies Nicholas Sparks’ books turned movies.  It sappy and ridiculously and unobtainable romantic which just accentuates the silly situations, poor writing, and really unremarkable acting.

That being said, I know there are many of you out there that just love a good romance.  This isn’t good, but it is a romance.  If you enjoyed “Safe Haven,” “The Notebook,” and “Message in a Bottle,” then you’re going to enjoy this one.  I can suspend disbelief to a certain extent when I’m watching a film, but this one pushes the limits way too far.


2 REELS (becauseI got some gardening tips)



'Whiplash' a Visceral Experience by Pamela Powell

October 10th, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “'Whiplash' a Visceral Experience by Pamela Powell”

Damien Chazelle

“Whiplash” is written and directed by Damien Chazelle, based on his short film of the same name.  Chazelle quickly turned this favorite short into an extraordinary feature film starring JK Simmons, Miles Teller, and Paul Reiser.  The film explores what happens to an impressionable young musician when an over-bearing and intimidating jazz band instructor stops at nothing to motivate his student, a drummer.  The line between motivation and abuse is difficult to see, but there’s a breaking point for everyone.Whiplash111



“Whiplash” is one of the most emotionally engaging films I have ever seen.  The story is something that you not only see, you truly feel it.  The dialogue and intensity of the music augment one another to create a visceral film.  Simmons performance as Fletcher, the jazz instructor, is nothing short of stellar.  He’s cruel and abusive, eliciting anger and the want to protect this young student.  Your heart aches as if this boy was your own son, but you know strength has to come from within Andrew and grow up quickly.  Teller is magical in his performance.  He’s angry.  He’s motivated.  He’s intelligent and he wants to please others to be the best that he can be.  The struggles that every kid goes through is typified in this film.  Rwhipeiser as Andrew’s father,whip2Whiplash attempts to be involved, but Andrew doesn’t always allow it.  Again, a typical situation of any father and son, but it doesn’t make it any less emotional.  

The film is an experience on every level.  It’s heart wrenching and beautiful all at the same time.  The music is extraordinary, creating yet another powerful level of story-telling.  The writing, direction, acting, and editing couldn’t WhiplashBloodyDrums_largehave been more concise and creative.  “Whiplash” is a standout film of the year that will remind you what filmmaking is supposed to be.

I couldn’t more highly recommend this film.  See it.  You will not be disappointed.


10 REELS (I rarely give 10 reels!)

'Kill the Messenger' reviewed by Pamela Powell

October 10th, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “'Kill the Messenger' reviewed by Pamela Powell”




I was expecting a “Bourne Identity” type of film with “Kill the Messenger.”  I couldn’t have been further from the truth, thankfully.   This film is a high intensity dramatic thriller based on a true story.  Gary Webb is an investigative journalist in the 1980’s during the war on drugs.  With his research, he finds that there is more to a superficial story than meets the eye.  Delving more deeply into the subject, Gary finds himself successfully following lead after lead until he uncovers that the US government is involved in the drug cartel.  What he isn’t prepared for is the power that is unleashed upon him.

This is a story about Gary Webb, told from his point of view.  Gary Webb isn’t just a by-line, he’s a real man with emotions, heart, and conviction.  His morals are questioned as he plunges head first into unknown territory for his small-time newspaper.  “Kill the Messegner” is a riveting look into the life of one investigative journalist, focused on the only thing that matters to him:  the truth.
There are thousands  of journalists across the country who pour their souls into finding THE story that will catapult their careers.  Gary Webb took chances and found that one story.  The facts are uncovered, and history is carefully laid out before you.  It’s a riveting story taking you into a various worlds that anyone would be completely unprepared to handle.  Webb’s life unravels, his friends and family’s loyalty is questioned, all for “the truth.”

Jeremy Renner’s complex character is portrayed skillfully and allows him to give one of his best performances. The depth that he convekillmess roeseys allows you to sense and understand every move and emotion Webb appears to experience.   Rosemarie DeWitt stars opposite Renner as the concerned and supportive wife.  But with both characters, there’s more to each of them.  There’s an honesty and reality to both of them. There’s also a family dynamic that is not only believable, but also relatable.  Any family goes through ups and downs, but this family deals with more than its fair share.  With the deft direction of Michael Cuesta, the entire story captures your interest, recalling facts from the recent past.  Clear and concise writing allow the viewer to see every dimension of Webb;  from family man to dealing with editors and media, to government and thugs.  This is a part of a very recent history that most will recall just bits and pieces.  This film gives you a more complete picture that will make you question what has happened right before your very eyes.


“Kill the Messenger” finds a way to entertainingly tell history from one man’s point of view.  It’s succinct, heart-felt, and appalling.  The end is inevitable and I dare you to draw your own conclusions.


'Dracula Untold' Tells All by Pamela Powell

October 10th, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “'Dracula Untold' Tells All by Pamela Powell”


Written by: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, and Bram Stoker (characters)

Directed by: Gary Shore

Starring: Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, and Dominic Cooper hr_Dracula_Untold_3

Every story has a beginning and the tale of Count Dracula is no different.  “Dracula Untold” recounts the origins of the famous blood-thirsty vampire just in time to get you into the Halloween spirit.  Luke Evans stars as Vlad The Impaler aka Dracula in this original story based on the characters by Bram Stoker.  


Luke-Evans-in-Dracula-UntoldThe film begins with a son  telling the history of his father and how he became known as the most famous vampire, Dracula.  As a child, Vlad, as he was then known, was given to the Turks and trained to be a merciless killer.  Then, as a grown man, Vlad renounces the ways of the Turks and rules over his own small kingdom peacefully in the mountains near Transylvania.  He and his beautiful wife, Mirena, had a son, Ingeras, who they would protect at all costs.  And the costs were very high indeed.  dracula untold 7-15 1



“Dracula Untold” attempts to capture you with the intrigue of a back- story and succeeds.  It’s a story of bravery and the love of a man’s wife and child.  Although it’s nothing earth-shattering, it does give you an empathy and a foundation for the entire Dracula story.  In other words, it’s a misunderstood vampire story.  There’s plenty of blood and gore which one would expect from this dark-themed film.  This isn’t a highly intellectual story or film, but it does succeed in hooking you with the interesting storyline, high action, and eye-candy.  The setting of the medieval times where people lived in fear of the known and unknown, added to the intrigue.  In this dark period of history, there isn’dracula-untold-sarah-gadont more than a thin moral lineseparating the good guys from the bad guys and “Dracula Untold” takes full advantage of that ethical barometer.


The story, although creative, is still predictable.  However, it does effectively give heart and develops empathy toward this previously known evil blood-sucker.  Depicting Vlad aka Dracula as the love-struck, protective husband and father makes him quite appealing.  Add in Evans’ rugged good looks and you have a winner of a protagonist and you find yourself rooting for the once dreaded horror figure.  The special effects using CGI (computer graphic imagery) keeps your blood pressure from plummeting, ensuring maximum interest in seeing the end of the film. 


Overall, “Dracula Untold” requires the use of creative directing,  scenery, action, and a consistent story-line to tell the tale.  Make-up and CGI round out the creepy feel of the film, sending shivers up your spine as Vlad meets the son of the devil in the cave.  Luke Evans is aptly cast as the brave, handsome, and rugged Vlad. Beyond this main character, superficiality is really all that is required for the remaining cast.


“Dracula Untold” is a fast-paced, dark, and intriguing film that will entertain you during the creepy Halloween season.  The high intensity, action packed fight scenes hacking people left and right may be offensive to some, but it is a part of the Halloween package.  Credit is given for the ingenuity of the story, weaving in the devoted father and husband concept to give Dracula heart and soul.Luke-Evans-In-Dracula-Untold-Movie-Wallpaper


If you enjoy creepy Halloween movies, this one hasmore to offer than films of Halloweens past such as Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Halloween 2,3,4,20,  and Scary Movie 1,2,3 etc.   I was surprisingly entertained by this film and truly enjoyed the trick-or-treat eye candy generously served on the silver screen.

6 Reels

'Silver Tsunami' Will Strike by Pamela Powell

October 9th, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “'Silver Tsunami' Will Strike by Pamela Powell”



There’s a tsunami about to hit the world and we’re not ready for it—it’s the Silver Tsunami.  No, it has nothing to do with water, but there is a “massive wave of baby boomers” that are aging.  Why is this considered something as negative and damaging as a tsunami?  In the film, “Silver Tsunami,” astounding information is presented, awakening our sense of how completely  unprepared are we to handle 71.5 million seniors in the year 2030.  There will be a 400% increase in age related diseases including dementia.  This creates an enormous healthcare crisis of which we are not remotely prepared to handle.


Cynthia Harrison, the filmmaker of “Silver Tsunami,” spoke with me about the upcoming worldwide crisis.  “We’re living longer, but not necessarily better.” Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease is a very personal issue that has affected her immediate family.  With a 92 year old father-in-law and a teen daughter, Cynthia quickly looked into what research was currently being done to help fight the diseases associated with aging.  What she found was astounding.  With her background in television, Cynthia utilized her skills to passionately tell a story that the world needs to know.


Researchers and scientists at the Buck Institute, Lawrence Berkely Lab, and Anderson Labs, shared their knowledge via interviews along with footage from years past about where our healthcare system started, longevity statistics, quality of life changes, as well as what the future holds regarding healthcare.   The use of animation and graphics punctuates just where we are in the quest for not only increasing the quality of life in the later years, but also where we will be if no research is done to treat illnesses associated with aging.  Cynthia stated that “this is the worst time for funding.”  The NIH has cut their research funding due to economic issues.  “…labs are shutting down”  at a time that we really need all the funding and research we can get.


“Silver Tsunami” covers everything you need to know about the upcoming epidemic of aging.  Using researchers, scientists, and statistics, this film provides accurate and mind boggling information that everyone needs to know.  Cynthia’s goal is to “…have a wake up call….[and to] be aware of this problem.”  The costs will be astronomical, but not only will the upcoming problem hurt us financially, it will also devastate us emotionally.  We have the tools to help combat this, yet we are sitting back, just waiting for that ‘wave’ to wash us away.


“Silver Tsunami” is a wake up call for the world.  This is the documentary film to see.  Aging and its related diseases, financial and emotional costs, and the science behind it all is creatively told in this film.  We can’t afford to ignore this issue and Cynthia Harrison and her film enlighten us about this issue.  We can do something about this problem.  Education and awareness are the first steps.  Cynthia encourages people to contact your congressman and get involved to make changes.  Check out the website SILVER TSUNAMI for more information.

To hear the entire interview with Cynthia Harrison, go to:  Interview with Cynthia Harrison



October 3rd, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “'GONE GIRL' A PERFECT BOOK TO FILM TRANSLATION by Pamela Powell”

Finally!  A movie that translates perfectly from the written book form to the screen!  That’s exactly what David Fincher has done with Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel ‘Gone Girl.’  How did he do it?  I’m sure that having Gillian Flynn also write the screenplay helped tremendously.  Throw in Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as the main characters and you have a recipe for success.


For the three of you out there that haven’t read the book, here’s the basic premise.  Amy and Nick Dunne, a young married couple have hit upon hard times and living in NYC, find themselves moving back to Missouri, nearly penniless to take care of Nick’s dying mother. Their marriage struggles and on their 5th anniversary, Amy disappears under suspicious circumstances.  Nick appears to be the prime suspect.


“Gone Girl” follows the book flawlessly with only a couple of minor scene changes to allow for the film version.  The film possesses the same intricate details conveying intensity throughout the film.  Not an emotion is lost thanks to the director and the skills of the cast.  The story unfolds as you see things from Nick’s viewpoint, then seamlessly transitioning to Amy’s.  We learn only what the screenwriter wants us to learn at just the right times, just as in the book.  If you haven’t read the book, you will be questioning every move Nick makes and will be shocked at what is revealed bit by bit.


Affleck and Pike are perfectly cast as Nick and Amy.  Affleck with his charming good looks,  is also able to pull off the smug and arrogant less-than-perfect-husband look as well.  Pike is beautiful, but she is a skillful actress as her character becomes more and more complex throughout the movie.  You can almost read her thoughts with just a small change in her eye gaze.  Without giving anything away, her weight gain is simply outstanding.  I still don’t know if it was amazing makeup or did she really put on 30 pounds?  Neil Patrick Harris as Desi can pull off any role.  He embodies the wealthy control-freak ex-boyfriend with style.  Tyler Perry plays Tanner Bolt, the renowned criminal attorney, beautifully.  He’s cocky, but with reason—exactly how Bolt should be played.  Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit are the competent police pair set on investigating the disappearance of Amy.  And rounding out the cast to provide a bit of levity is Carrie Coon playing Nick’s twin sister Margo.  The entire cast fits each and every personality so precisely that it is almost as if the book was written with this cast in mind.


How do you consolidate a long, detailed, high intensity book into a 2 1/2 hour movie?  It’s not easy, but Fincher and Flynn pulled it off.  This is truly the first movie that I feel captured the movie that played in my head while I read the book.


If you’ve read the book, go see the movie!  If you haven’t seen it yet, GO!  You’ll be captivated as you try to figure out who’s telling the truth and what really happened!




October 3rd, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “STAY HOME FOR 'LEFT BEHIND' by Pamela Powell”



“Left Behind,” based on the bestleftbehindposter-selling novel by Jerry B. Jenkins, opens this weekend and stars Nicolas Cage, Lea Thompson, Chad Michael Murray, and Cassi Thomson.  These last couple of years have been the time for end of the world movies with “This is the End,” “The World’s End,” and “World War Z” as well as religious films such as “Heaven is for Real” and “Noah” to name a few.  “Left Behind” jumps on this bandwagon, only to be fraught with countless bad wheels and an anticipated crash. 


“Left Behind” sets the stage (and oh how staged it feels) for the Steele family to experience God’s beginning of the end.  The believers will be saved, and the non-believers will be “left behind” to experience Hell on earth.  The family deals with the chaos that ensues as humanity tries to figure out what’s happening before their eyes.


Rayford (Cage) is a married pilot who is having an affair with a flight attendant who somehow can wear 4″ stilettos on the job.  His college-aged daughter, Chloleftbehindnicke, is coming home for his surprise birthday celebration, but he has already made “plans.”  Chloe is at odds with her father’s behavior as well as her mother’s choice in “swallowing the Kool-Aid.”  From the opening scene, it is quite clear who will be saved and who will be “left behind.”   


“Left Behind” is an embarrassment of a movie for all those who do believe. From the writing and directing to the acting, this film is truly laughable.  In fact, I thought perhaps this is leftsupposed to be a horror-comedy film!  Silly scenes trying to make you jump and obvious planned chaos occurring primarily at a shopping mall, (still doesn’t compare to the scariness of Black Friday at Wal-Mart) did make me chuckle.  I don’t think that is the intent of these scenes.  Left-Behind-2014


The amateurish cinematography with the overabundance of extreme close-ups and filler shots of the plane flying through the clouds cemented the fact that quality of this film on every level is substandard.  In fact,  I thought for sure that I could see the green screen and the strings holding the airplane.  Add the campy continuous background music to accentuate the awful acting and directing and you find yourself watching a B movie at best.


“Left Behind” is filled with many ridiculous situations that have nothing to do with whether or not you believe in God that you have difficulty focusing upon the story.   For example, unless this film is set in 1975, TSA doesn’t currently allow passengers to knock nonchalantly on the open cockpit door to deliver an envelop with unknown contents to one of the pilots.  And the mother’s (Lea Thompson) unbelievable reactions to various situations made June Cleaver look like an angry mom.  The artificial smiles, laughter, and one of my favorites, the family photograph, was something that a 5 year old put together on Facebook like those dancing elves with your family’s faces at Christmas time, made the entire audience laugh aloud.  Oh, and I must tell you I have to purchase the high chunky-heeled shoes that Chloe (Cassi Thomson) wore which enabled her to run all of Long Island to Queens and up ladders and over bridges without tripping or wearing out!  Nike, watch out!  A new brand of shoe is out there for athletic women!  Then we have Chloe’s innate ability to operate construction equipment and Ninja motorcycles.  This is quite miraculous as well—especially for someone who was left behind.


Cage has taken yet another career detour with the lead role of Rayford Steele in this film.  The superficiality and inability to convey any complexity was mirrored in Lea Thompson’s character as well.  The main actress, Cassi Thomson, is just another pretty face in this film.  And Buck (Chad Michael Murray) was the saving grace in the film as he played the charming investigative journalist, but one mediocre performance cannot help lift this film up.


Religion and God’s wrath ending the world is a serious subject for many people.  It is an affront to believers that the filmmakers of “Left Behind” have given absolutely no credibility to the story.  The dreadful writing, the beginner-level cinematography, the abysmal direction, casting, and acting is a combination that creates an embarrassing flop.  Nothing could resurrect “Left Behind.”


It is not my intent to mock this topic in any way, but it is my intent to let viewers know to save their money on this film.  It is one of the worst films I have seen.




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