The ABCs of Death 2 (2014, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5
I've already reviewed the first movie, which you can read here. I was excited to hear that they would be making a sequel to the anthology and that one of my favorite directors Sion Sono would be part of the project. Unfortunately, he didn't make the final cut for one reason or another. I have no idea why and a few IMDb commenters were curious too. Anyway, I thought this movie was pretty good and, depending on my mood, sometimes I think it's slightly better or worse than the first, but they're both worth watching. Just like the first movie, not all of them are gold, but the ones that are the most entertaining make up for what's lacking.
Life Itself (2014, USA) | Rating: 5/5
As someone who grew up watching Siskel & Ebert every night with my mother and becoming a film major in the long run, I felt obligated to watch this documentary/biography of one of the greatest movie critics of our time. This film takes excerpts from the book of the same name and recounts Ebert's personal and professional life as well as his final days. It was interesting learn so much about such a brilliant and insightful man and the passion he had for cinema. He held such an influence on Hollywood and he was well respected among his peers. He's definitely a man who has left an inspirational legacy behind. It is a very inspiring, insightful, informational, and emotional documentary. For those who have a passion for cinema, no matter what aspect of it, I highly recommend it.
Beyond the Lights (2014, USA) | Rating: 4/5
I remember seeing the previews for this movie in the theater and I didn't think too much of it. When it came in at my job, I figured I'd give the movie a chance because it did seem a little interesting. I'm sure some people let this movie slip under the radar when it was in theaters or whatever, but this is actually a good quality movie with a black female lead. Coincidentally, the star also was in another quality film people slept on, Belle. I was afraid that this movie was going be super predictable and basic like Addicted or some Tyler Perry movie, but it actually had some depth and an interesting storyline. I enjoyed watching Noni's development throughout the movie and her interactions between her mother and Kaz. Occasionally, Kaz did some unbelievable or outrageous things, but overall, I felt for what he was going through with their relationship. The movie isn't completely perfect, but it is an improvement from most movies with a black main cast.
Jessabelle (2014, USA) | Rating: 2/5
I haven't had too much luck with a lot of the horror movies I've been checking out lately, fortunately my expectations have been pretty low with them. But still, it's sad that it has come to this feeling of acceptance that most horror movies lately are simply subpar or mediocre at best. This one had some potential as it deals with hauntings, ghosts, and maybe a tiny bit of possession, but I guess voodoo is in play in some form as well. I had no expectations for this movie, meaning I didn't know what to expect from it, I simply went into it with an open mind. The story is fairly interesting as we follow Jessie after a horrific car accident and recovering in her childhood home in Louisiana. This is where the strange things occur for Jessie and the people around her. Up to a certain point in the movie, I thought of The Skeleton Key, which is also set in Louisiana and involves some sort of voodoo/witchcraft/magic. The difference between these two movies is that The Skeleton Key is more suspenseful, better written, and delivers a more satisfying ending, in my opinion.
Open Windows (2014, USA) | Rating: 1.5/5
I was warned that this movie was absolutely stupid and I believed him. Judging by the low budget-ish cover, the questionable cast, the premise, and a little bit of the name, I knew it was going to be dumb. The few Elijah Wood movies I've reviewed that have gone straight to DVD have been a little iffy and this is my second movie I've seen with Sasha Grey, although Would You Rather ended up being rather entertaining. Once again, Wood has to follow orders from a mysterious person, except this time he is a fan of a certain actress, which almost teeters into Grey's former real life profession. The premise is somewhat interesting, but Wood's acting and/or writing is kinda weak and unbelievable. Not only that, the whole execution of the movie's plot is flimsy. It seems like the writer(s) wanted to cram so many different hacker elements into one film that it seems confusing and possibly impossible or flawed in reality. The ending is also confusing and slightly anti-climatic. Grey also doesn't contribute much either, but honestly there was little for her to work with.
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