Friday, August 31, 2012
The Possession Shockya Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello Director: Ole Bornedal (‘The Substitute’) Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan (‘Watchmen,’ TV’s ‘Supernatural’), Kyra Sedgwick (TV’s ‘The Closer’), Natasha Calis (TV’s ‘The Firm’) and Madison Davenport (TV’s ‘Shameless’) One of the most relentlessly persistent fears among people is the religious belief that their bodies can be possessed by an evil spirit determined to take over their lives to carry out its own evil plan. When a seemingly ordinary box has the power to unleash the powerful entity, innocent people’s lives are automatically put in danger. Such a threat was discovered in 2004 by Los Angeles Times journalist Leslie Gornstein, when she found what was described as an authentic Dibbuk Box on eBay. The box serves as the inspiration for the new horror thriller ‘The Possession.’ The film showcases the horrifying effects evil spirits can have on an entire family, instead of just the intended victim. ‘The Possession’ follows the newly divorced Clyde (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie Brenek (portrayed by Kyra Sedgwick), who separated in part because of his obsessive dedication to his basketball coaching job. The two initially see little cause for alarm when their younger teenage daughter, Em (played by Natasha Calis), becomes obsessed with an antique wooden box she bought at a yard sale. But as her behavior becomes increasingly erratic, Clyde and Stephanie, along with their older daughter Hannah (portrayed by Madison Davenport), fear the presence of a malevolent force in their midst. After consulting with Professor McMannis (played by Jay Brazeau) and Tzadok (portrayed by Matisyahu), the son of a Hasidic rabbi, Clyde realizes that Em’s box was built to contain a Dibbuk. The dislocated spirit is determined to inhabit and devour Em, so Clyde must convince Stephanie that they must do whatever it takes to defeat the Dibbuk. Screenwriters Juliet Snowden and Stiles White took a drastic and daring approach to the subject of Dibbuks in ‘The Possession’ by creating a modern story that features the typical human host for the malevolent presence. Em was the perfect choice to be drawn to the box and become a target for the Dibbuk, as the typical human host is usually a vulnerable young woman with a certain weakness. Em hasn’t been able to accept her parents’ divorce and the split of her family as well as Hannah has, as she doesn’t understand why Clyde and Stephanie can’t work out their differences. The Dibbuk perfectly targeted Em’s vulnerabilities and insecurities about her separated family in order to enter the human world. To continue reading this review, please visit Shockya.
Posted by karenbenardello at 9:09 AM
The Tall Man Shockya Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello Director: Pascal Laugier (‘Martyrs,’ ‘House of Voices’) Starring: Jessica Biel, Jodelle Ferland (‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,’ ‘Cabin in the Woods’) and Jakob Davies (‘This Means War,’ TV’s ‘Once Upon a Time’) Small towns that thrive on a trade often experience economical and emotional difficulties when their success runs out and they’re forced to hang on to what remains of their former way of life. As the townspeople are forced to adjust to their new lifestyle, they never expect to face an even bigger sinister threat, as is the case in the new crime thriller ‘The Tall Man.’ The children of the isolated, former mining town of Cold Rock in the Pacific Northwest begin disappearing one by one without a trace, leading the leaders of the area to contend with the possibility that a supernatural entity is taking them. The film takes extreme risks as it forgoes the normal supernatural and horror elements normally associated with such a tale by infusing the character-driven story with emotional bonds and daring plot points. ‘The Tall Man’ follows the towns people of Cold Rock as they start to believe the children are being abducted by the title character, a mysterious entity. Julia (played by Jessica Biel) is skeptical of the legend, until her son David (portrayed by Jakob Davies) disappears in the middle of the night. She frantically sets out to save her son as she lives every parent’s worst nightmare. Julia begins to believe in the legend after seeing David being taken by the elusive supernatural figure, and declares she’ll stop at nothing to get him back. One of the local teenagers, Jenny (played by Jodelle Ferland), who is unable to speak due to her emotional neglect at home from her financially struggling family, offers to help Julia get David back. Jenny hopes in the process she, too, will be taken by The Tall Man and will be given a better life, despite the rest of the town’s outrage over the children’s disappearances. The crime mystery truly brought Laugier, who has become known for writing and directing such horror films as ‘Martyrs’ and ‘House of Voices,’ out of his comfort zone to create a high-energy, thought provoking social commentary on family life in a small, struggling town. While Julia and the police do embark on a action-packed search for David and the rest of the missing children after they are kidnapped, ‘The Tall Man’ eloquently forgoes solely focusing on their relentless search. The filmmaker also infused his intense, unpredictable story with characters who are determined to stand up for what they believe in, no matter what consequences they’re destined to face. To continue reading this review, please visit Shockya.
Posted by karenbenardello at 9:07 AM
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Little Birds Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello Director: Elgin James Starring: Juno Temple (‘The Dark Knight Rises’), Kay Panabaker (‘Fame,’ TV’s ‘CSI’), Leslie Mann (‘This Is 40′), Kate Bosworth and Neal McDonough (‘Captain America: The First Avenger’) Children raised in economically depressed areas with emotionally distant parents often search for ways to get attention, and often become rebellious in order to become noticed. The two teenage girls in the new drama ‘Little Birds,’ Lily and Alison, have bonded over losing a parent and living with their other, often neglectful parent, but have taken different approaches to dealing with their grief and pain. The film fearlessly shows the stark difference in Lily’s careless, rebellious streak and Alison’s pure, innocent intentions, but they have learned to accept the other as they are in order to help each other survive. ‘Little Birds’ follows 15-year-old Lily (played by Juno Temple) and her best friend Alison (portrayed by Kay Panabaker), as their families struggle financially on the shores of the Salton Sea in California. What was once an oasis for the wealthy and famous has become a near ghost town with rundown trailer parks and decaying streets. Lily feels claustrophobic and rebellious, anxious to leave her home and manic, single mother Margaret (played by Leslie Mann). She wants to experience something more exciting than her her visits with her washed up Aunt Bonnie (portrayed by Kate Bosworth) and young cousin. After meeting a few visiting street kids, the girls’ bond is tested when Lily convinces Alison to steal a truck from Hogan (played by Neal McDonough), whose ranch she works on. The girls search for the boys they just met, including Jesse MacNamara (portrayed by Kyle Gallner), who Lily is romantically interested in. Lily is drawn to the boys’ freedom and lifestyle, and is determined to stay and make it work, despite their scams and petty crime. As Alison becomes ready to return home, Lily becomes bait in the boys’ new plan; they’ll lure men with money they meet over the Internet to the abandoned motel they’re living in to steal from. Things quickly escalate to a life-changing moment, when Lily must decide how far she will go to grow up and Alison must figure out how far she would go to protect her friend. Elgin James, who made his feature film writing and directorial debut with ‘Little Birds,’ daringly drew on his own life experiences in the foster care system as a child, who became homeless and a gang member as a teen, to create an emotional, compelling story of teenage rebellion. While both Lily and Alison have only truly known what it was like living on the verge of poverty in Salton Sea with parents who couldn’t fully emotionally or physically provide for them, the girls surprisingly acted startlingly different when it came to bettering their situations. To continue reading this review, please visit Shockya.
Posted by karenbenardello at 4:53 PM
Lawless Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello Director: John Hillcoat (‘The Road,’ ‘The Proposition’) Starring: Tom Hardy (‘The Dark Knight Rises’), Shia LaBeouf, Jason Clarke (‘Zero Dark Thirty’), Guy Pearce (‘Prometheus’), Mia Wasikowska (‘Alice in Wonderland’), Jessica Chastain (‘The Help’) and Gary Oldman Crime westerns are often characterized with countless battles of gunfire, but are often void of true character development and diverse roles for actors to truly emotionally mature in. But the new film ‘Lawless,’ which reunites ‘The Proposition’ director and writer, John Hillcoat and Nick Cave, effortlessly intertwines the fierceness of hard-working men trying to provide for their family with their passionate desires. The gun battle instead merely acts as a backdrop and catalyst for the pain the main characters continuously feel throughout the course of the film. ‘Lawless’ is based on the true story of the infamous bootlegging Bondurant Brothers who are struggling to survive in Prohibition-era Franklin County, Virginia. The brothers include the eldest, Howard (Jason Clarke), who came home from the Great War changed, due to the fighting he had seen; Forrest (Tom Hardy), who continuously beats death with a quiet strength and visceral invincibility that have come to define him; and impressionable Jack (Shia LaBeouf), the youngest brother, whose sensitivity and emotions often dictates how he reacts to confrontation. Since jobs are scarce, the Bondurant Brothers have built a thriving business selling a popular brand of moonshine. But the brothers’ ways are tested with the arrival of Chicago’s Special Deputy Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce), whose corrupt ways and desire to change the balance in Virginia. The brothers’ lives are also changed when Jack’s growing ambitions and enterprises alter the balance of power between them. He elicits help from his friend Cricket (Dane DeHaan), to set up their own moonshine business. One of their customers is the notorious gangster Floyd Banner (Gary Oldman), who Jack idolizes. The dynamic between the Bondurants is also changed when Jack begins pursing the quiet Bertha (Mia Wasikowska), the daughter of the local preacher. Forrest also starts a relationship with the secretive, exotic Maggie (Jessica Chastain), who begins working for the brothers upon her arrival in Virginia. Based on the 2008 novel ‘The Wettest County in the World’ by Matt Bondurant, ‘Lawless’ is full of unique, strong-willed characters whose ambitions and emotions are clearly defined by the well-cast actors hired by Hillcoat. The clearly defined, original characters, from the Bondurant Brothers to the women they have come to love to the lawmen trying to control or eradicate their business, aren’t afraid to show their emotions and motivations when needed. Hillcoat rightfully and creatively didn’t just focus on the violence between the brothers and Charlie as they fought over the future of Franklin County; he also used their emotions to move the action and plot forward. To continue reading this review, please visit Shockya.
Posted by karenbenardello at 1:56 PM
Thursday, August 23, 2012
General Education Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello Director: Tom Morris (‘Ships Wrecked Cove’) Starring: Chris Sheffield (‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’), Maiara Walsh (TV’s ‘Mean Girls 2,’ ‘Switched at Birth’), Larry Miller, Janeane Garofalo and Skylan Brooks (‘Our Family Wedding’) It often takes an unexpected, radical event in a person’s life to truly change the path they embark on and alter the decisions they make. That’s certainly true with Levi Collins, a high school tennis superstar whose life is mapped out for him by his parents until a failing grade hinders his chance at graduating from high school. While Levi’s initial reaction is to lie to his parents about it and continue down the path they chose for him, he comes to realize that he must go after his own goals in order to be truly happy. ‘General Education’ follows Levi (played by Chris Sheffield) as he’s set to graduate and receive an athletic scholarship to the same local university his father, Rich (portrayed by Larry Miller), attended. With Rich and Levi’s mother, Gale (played by Janeane Garofalo), setting high expectations for their second son and continue the family’s legacy of playing tennis, Levi must sacrifice his own happiness and his grades to succeed in the family sport. However, Levi finds out he failed science and must attend summer school in order to get his diploma. So Levi elicits the help of his younger sister, Emily (portrayed by McKaley Miller), his neighbor and side-kick, Charles (played by Skylan Brooks) and his friend Shady Nick (portrayed by Seth Cassell) to cover for him with his parents and complete his coursework. While in summer school, Levi becomes attracted to one of his classmates, Katie (played by Maiara Walsh), while he tries to juggle as the tournaments his father pressures him to play. But he’s determined to not only pass his class so that he can graduate, but also find what truly makes him happy. Filmmaker Tom Morris, who made his feature film directorial and writing debut with ‘General Education,’ created a genuine coming-of-age story with Levi’s determination to please his family while at the same time exploring all career choices and schools that would best fit him. While Levi does excel at tennis, he echoes many teens’ determination to break free from their parents’ influence to do what he feels the most comfortable with. Though Levi lied to his parents about failing his science class just so he wouldn’t get in trouble, the deception strained their relationship and made him truly reconsider what he truly wanted to do with his life. Playing tennis bonded him with his father and made Rich happy, but failing science made Levi realize he didn’t enjoy the sport enough to sacrifice making his own decisions about college and his career. To continue reading this review, please visit Shockya.
Posted by karenbenardello at 1:42 PM
Friday, August 17, 2012
The Expendables 2 Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello Director: Simon West (‘Con Air,’ ‘Laura Croft: Tomb Raider’) Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, Liam Hemsworth and Yu Nan Releasing a successful, thrilling action movie with popular action actors from the 1980s and ’90s who are largely considered past their prime is difficult undertaking. But when the film surprising includes intense stunts and memorable performances, a sequel is undoubtedly immediately put into the works. When the follow-up film, like the new action sequel ‘The Expendables 2,’ is just as stimulating as the original, the actors prove how talented and valuable they really are. ‘The Expendables 2′ follows Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), the leader of the title mercenary group, leads his members, including his right-hand man, Lee Christmas (Jason Statham); Yin Yang (Jet Li); Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren); Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews); as they’re enlisted by Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) to take on a seemingly simple job. The group, who is aided by two new recruits, Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan), must seek revenge, however, when things go wrong and one of their own is killed. In hostile territory where the odds are stacked against them, the Expendables must shut down an unexpected threat. Jean Vilane (Jean-Claude Van Damme), the leader of an opposing group of mercenaries that’s responsible for the death of one of the Expendables, plans on using five tons of weapons-grade plutonium he recently discovered to change the balance of power in the world. Along with the help of fellow mercenaries Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Booker (Chuck Norris), the Expendables aim to stop Jean before he can use the plutonium to his advantage. Filmmaker Simon West, who signed on to replace Stallone as the director for the sequel to the hit 2010 action adventure thriller ‘The Expendables,’ effortlessly featured the same effects to the follow-up the actor and screenwriter brought to the original film. West, who has made a name for himself helming such action adventure films as ‘Con Air’ and ‘Laura Croft: Tomb Raider,’ included daring and stunning fight sequences between Barney’s Expendables and Jean’s villainous mercenaries. The stunts were once again perfectly tailored to each of the characters’ abilities, including Lee’s intensive knife battles or Yin’s hand-to-hand combat. To continue reading this review, please visit Shockya.
Posted by karenbenardello at 1:32 PM
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Interview: Tucker Albrizzi Talks ParaNorman, Written by: Karen Benardello Talking to ghosts, zombies and witches is a plot trait many people would associate with terrifying horror movies. But the anticipated action comedy ‘ParaNorman,’ which is set to hit theaters on Friday, promises family fun with its title character, an 11-year-old who spends most of his days seeing and speaking with the dead. Actor Tucker Albrizzi, who provides the voice of Norman’s best friend, Neil, enthusiastically affirms that ‘ParaNorman’ provides scares and laughs for the entire family. ‘ParaNorman’ is set in the town of Blithe Hollow, whose locals profit from the history of the site, as a famous witch hunt occurred there 300 years ago. Since he doesn’t enjoy the company of his family, Norman (voiced by Kodi Smith-McPhee) confides in the impressionable Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), at their middle school. When Norman is contacted by his Uncle Prenderghast (John Goodman) unexpectedly, he’s surprised to learn that a centuries-old witch’s curse is real and about to come true. Only Norman will be able to stop the curse from harming his town, and calls on his older sister, Courtney (Anna Kendrick); Neil and his older brother, Mitch (Casey Affleck); and bully (Alvin Christopher Mintz-Plasse) to help. Albrizzi graciously took the time to speak with us over the phone recently to discuss what it was like filming ‘ParaNorman.’ Among other things, the 12-year-old actor discussed why he wanted to play Neil; what it was like working with Smith-McPhee and the animated comedy’s directors, Chris Butler and Sam Fell; and why he prefers working on animated films over live action movies. Fans of Albrizzi can find more information about the actor, ‘ParaNorman’ and his upcoming projects on his official Twitter page, @tuckeralbrizzi. ShockYa (SY): You have a lead role as Norman’s eternally optimistic best friend, Neil, in ‘ParaNorman.’ Why did you want to play the role of Neil in the movie? Tucker Albrizzi (TA): I wanted to play the role of Neil in the movie because he’s just like me. He’s happy all the time, nothing gets him down. He kind of looks like me. They made that character before they even saw me. He’s also weird and goofy. SY: Kodi Smit-McPhee voices the role of Norman in the film. Did you get to work with him while you were recording your lines? TA: Yes, I got to work with him once, when Norman was showing Neil that he can talk to dead people. It was fun working with Kodi on that. SY: What was it like working with Kodi when you were recording your lines? Was it easy working with him? TA: Yeah, it was easy and fun. SY: There are several older actors in ‘ParaNorman’ as well, including Anna Kendrick and John Goodman. Did you get to act with any of them while you were shooting? TA: No, mainly I just did solo recordings. The only recording I did with someone else was with Kodi. SY: Did you find it easier to record with Kodi, or did you prefer to record your lines by yourself? TA: I found it a lot easier to record with someone else, so that we could talk to each other and connect in the scene. It was much easier. To continue reading this interview, please visit Shockya.
Posted by karenbenardello at 2:32 PM
Thursday, August 9, 2012
The Campaign Examiner Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello With a highly experienced genre director and two talented comics who come together on a political comedy film bordering on satire, particularly in the months before a heavily debated presidential election, the result should be a natural mix of jokes and debates on serious issues. The new comedy ‘The Campaign,’ which will open in area Long Island theaters tomorrow, is the perfect instance of having the set-up of all of these perfect cinematic elements. The movie’s respected helmer, Jay Roach, made the right choice when he hired valued comic actors Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis for the lead roles. Unfortunately, the film included a predictable plotline that failed to highlight the actors’ talents. ‘The Campaign’ follows North Carolina congressman Cam Brady (played by Ferrell), who is once again running unopposed, for his fifth term for the 14th District. But his reputation’s tarnished when he’s inadvertently forced to publicly admit that he had a mistress while campaigning for the upcoming election. Thinking that Cam shouldn’t be elected again, two wealthy CEO brothers, Glenn and Wade Motch (portrayed by John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd, respectfully), plot to put up a rival candidate and gain influence over their district. They choose naïve Marty Huggins (played by Galifianakis), the director of the local Tourism Center. At first, Marty appears to be the unlikeliest possible choice to become a Congressman. But with the help of his new benefactors, a cutthroat campaign manager, Tim Wattley (played by Dylan McDermont) and his family’s political connections, Marty soon becomes a true contender who gives the alluring Cam something to worry about. As Election Day closes in, the two are close in the polls and sacrifice their families just to beat their competitor. Roach has had previous experience in telling both political and comedic stories, with the HBO films ‘Game Change’ and ‘Recount’ and the ‘Austin Powers’ trilogy and the first two ‘Meet the Parents’ movies. He effortlessly told true, captivating political stories in the HBO movies and amusing stories of dysfunctional characters in his previous comedies. Unfortunately, the helmer unfortunately created one-dimensional, stereotypical characters and in Cam and Marty and a predictable plotline in ‘The Campaign.’ To continue reading this review, please visit Examiner.
Posted by karenbenardello at 3:58 PM
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Goats Shockya Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello Director: Christopher Neil Starring: Vera Farmiga (‘Up in the Air,’ ‘Safe House’), David Duchovny, Graham Phillips (TV’s ‘The Good Wife,’ ‘Evan Almighty’), Ty Burrell (TV’s ‘Modern Family,’ ‘Dawn of the Dead (2004)’) Keri Russell and Justin Kirk (TV’s ‘Weeds,’ ‘Modern Family’) Comedy-of-age stories have often times come off as preachy and don’t always accurately portray the experiences teenagers must contend with throughout high school. While the new independent comedy ‘Goats’ does include several elements that many teens won’t be able to relate to, such as having to take care of an absent-minded hippie mother or having a drug-growing pool taker, there are many relationships and feelings that they will be able to understand. Based on the novel of the same name by Mark Poirier, ‘Goats’ offers an intriguing look into the motivations of adolescents who feel emotionally neglected. ‘Goats’ follows 15-year-old Ellis (played by Graham Phillips), the most mature member of his eccentric family. His mother, Wendy (portrayed by Vera Farmiga), is a New Age hippie who neglects to take care of their house or commit to her parental responsibilities. Instead, she spends all of her time working on self-help rituals with her hustler boyfriend Bennet (portrayed by Justin Kirk). She also employs Goat Man (played by David Duchovny), the goat-herding sage who has lived with the family in their pool house since Ellis was a child. Despite growing and smoking marijuana, Goat Man teaches Ellis the meaning of stability and commitment. Due to Wendy’s quirkiness, Ellis’ father, Franky (portrayed by Ty Burrell), left their Tucson house years before. He starts a new life in Washington, D.C. with his second wife, Judy (played by Keri Russell), with whom he’s having a baby. To feel closer to Frank, Ellis decides to leave Arizona and enroll in the same East Coast prep school that his father attended. As Ellis reconnects with his estranged father, he realizes his life with his mother and Goat Man starkly contrast normal family life. Christopher Neil, who made his feature film directorial debut with ‘Goats,’ made the right decision in hiring Phillips to portray the responsible main character in the coming-of-age independent comedy. Ellis is initially shown as just knowing how to take care of himself and everyone around him, due to his mother’s eccentric lifestyle. However, as the film continues, Phillips perfectly portrayed Ellis as wanting to act out in order to receive attention from the adults around him. While away at school, he learns how to turn his parents and their differing lifestyles against each other, in order to get what he wants. To continue reading this review, please visit Shockya.com.
Posted by karenbenardello at 7:43 AM