Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Purge: Anarchy: Final Trailer

It's a new year and the time to purge is coming. "The Purge: Anarchy" is produced by Blumhouse Productions, who in the past few years, have brought to the world of cinematic horror films such as "Dark Skies," "Sinister," "Insidious 2," and the "Paranormal Activity" franchise.

The New Founding Fathers of America, are now in power and have turned the United States into a strictly enforced martial law civilization.  It is now a self-regulated Darwinian government that culls out the weak and socially unwanted.  The New Founding Fathers of America invite you to celebrate your annual right to Purge. 

In "The Purge: Anarchy", the sequel to summer 2013’s sleeper hit that opened to No. 1 at the box-office, sees the return of writer/director James DeMonaco to craft the next terrifying chapter of dutiful citizens preparing for their country’s yearly 12 hours of anarchy. 

In last year's "The Purge," We watched as the Sandin family fought off invaders when the youngest child of the family, Charlie, let in a bloody stranger. Later that night masked strangers demanded that the stranger be rendered up to them. When the Sandin family did not comply, the masked strangers  laid siege to the Sandin's residence, before breaking in and assaulting the family. This year director James DeMonaco takes the need to purge on the road to the streets of Los Angeles.  

In the video below:

Welcome to America, where one night a year all crime, including murder, will be legal. All emergency services will be suspended.  A news reporter show traffic backing up as people race home to the safety of their homes before the commencement of 12 hours of the Purge. Scenes of violence captured on  security cameras. A group of people who have unwittingly found themselves out on the street on the wrong night of the year, band together for survival. Shane and Liz (Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez) trapped when their car ran out of gas. Eva and Cali (Carmen Ejogo and Zoe Soul) seek safety after their home was destroyed, and  Leo (Frank Grillo) sets out this night to take revenge on the man (Brandon Keener) who murdered his son.  Finally a bizarre auction takes place to determine the fate of the five survivalist where the rich get to play the hunter and the captured are the hunted.

While still in theaters last year, Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions was already talking sequel.  When October rolled around last year,  Universal Pictures announced that "The Purge: Anarchy" would be opening on June 20, 2014. By February 28, 2014, Universal pushed back the release to July 2, 2014, going into the 4th of July weekend.

Blumhouse Productions is sponsoring events called "The Purge Breakout," an immersive escape-game experience based on the world of Universal Pictures’ "The Purge." Here are the FAQs.

Look for "The Purge: Anarchy" in theaters July 18, 2014


The Purge Has Come And Went ~ Are We Any Better For It?
The Purge Survive The Night
The Purge ~ New Trailer Official Trailer
The Purge - Coming in June 7th
The Purge ~ One Night

Movie Data

Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Year:  2014
Staring: Frank Grillo, Kiele Sanchez, Zach Gilford, Edwin Hodge, Carmen Ejogo Zoe Soul 
Director: James DeMonaco
Producer(s): Michael Bay,Jason Blum,Andrew Form,Bradley Fuller,Sebastien Lemercier
Writer: James DeMonaco
Rating: R
Running Time: 
Release Date: 7/18/2014

Deliver Us From Evil: What Do You Believe

This year "Sinister" director Scott Derrickson returns with another horror film. Derrickson and writer Paul Harris Boardman who brought us 2005's "The Exorcism of Emily Rose." collaborate yet again. 

Former NYPD officer Ralph Sarchie's details his adventures in investigating demonic events in his 2001 book "Beware the Night"  by Ralph Sarchie. 

Eric Bana ("Star Trek,"  "Hanna")  plays Sarchie who is going through a crisis of faith while investigating a series of murders. Venezuelan actor Édgar Ramírez ("Domino," "The Bourne Ultimatum") also stars as a rouge Catholic priest who enlists Sarchie's help in fighting demons. 

Here is a the synopsis:
In "DELIVER US FROM EVIL," New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), struggling with his own personal issues, begins investigating a series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes. He joins forces with an unconventional priest (Edgar Ramirez), schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the frightening and demonic possessions that are terrorizing their city. Based upon the book, which details Sarchie's bone-chilling real-life cases.
  • - Written by Sony Pictures Entertainment

Besides  "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," horror veterans, director Scott Derrickson and writer Paul Harris Boardman, have worked together in 2000 on the direct to video "Hellraiser: Inferno,"  and 2013's "Devil's Knot."  Both Derrickson and Harris Boardman are credited as the writers of 2000's horror film "Urban Legends: Final Cut."

In this trailer, Ralph Sarchie (Bana) is having a crisis of faith. After investigating an incident at the zoo that he believes is a women's psychotic breakdown.  Finds that something evil has followed him home.  If you believe in good, or in god you must believe in evil or in the devil.

Former NYPD detective turned author, Ralph Sarchie, is associated with The New England Society For Psychic Research ran by Lorraine and the late Ed Warren.  Ralph started a New York chapter of the Psychic Research center.  It will be interesting to see how different the film is from book. 

"Deliver Us From Evil"  is in theaters , July 2, 2014. 

Movie Data

Genre: Crime, Horror, Thriller
Year:  2014
Staring: Eric Bana, Édgar Ramírez, Olivia Munn, Sean Harris, Joel McHale
Director: Scott Derrickson 
Producer(s): Jerry Bruckheimer
Writer: Scott Derrickson, Paul Harris Boardman, Ralph Sarchie, Lisa Collier Cool
Rating: R
Running Time: 118 minutes
Release Date:  7/2/2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Rover - One Man's Search For Justice In the Land of the Lawless

The Rover - Guy Pearce & Robert Pattinson | A Constantly Racing Mind
" I am looking for my car. There are three men in it.  Have you seen it?"

T he opening scenes of "The Rover" warn the viewer that this is not a slick Hollywood Blockbuster, instead it is a carefully paced film that loves wide open spaces, and with a sense of turmoil that burns below the surface.  "The Rover" typifies Australian cinematic style in this manner as well as the sudden bursts of violence that shatters the narrative and reminds the viewer that the world that we are wandering in. is a wilderness of pain and violence.  Guy Pearce ("Memento," "The Count of Monte Cristo," "Animal Kingdom," "Lockout ") stars along with Robert Pattinson ("Water for Elephants," "The Twilight Saga: New Moon") in this straight forward narrative of two men searching for the life and security that the world once held for them. “  The Rover" is a violent film, and deserves its R rating, and runs about 1 hour and 40 minutes.

The opening title card only says "10 years after the collapse."  The fall of the Western economy leads many to the mines of Australia to eke out a living. Thievery and robbery are the norm, and the price of water and petrol are high.   David Michôd ("Animal Kingdom" "Hesher") and writer and actor Joel Edgerton ("The Great Gatsby," "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones") ,  tells a direct narrative of brutality in the Australian outback.   Sitting in his car, Eric (Guy Pearce) finally decides to exit his compact car and enter a bar for a drink.  Pearce’s Eric is dressed in a short sleeved shirt and a pair of shorts, as if he was planning on doing some gardening in his backyard but decided to have a drink instead.  He has a full beard and moustache and his hair is a slicked back mess and thinning.  Approaching the bar from a short distance are three men in a small pickup truck covered in mud.  They are fighting with one another.  A wounded Henry (Scoot McNairy), argues with Archie (David Field) who is sitting in the back seat while Caleb (Tawanda Manyimo) drives the getaway car.  They are arguing over leaving Hank’s brother Rey (Robert Pattinson) behind either wounded or dead in the street.  A struggle ensues and the car goes crashing by the barroom window as Eric drinks his beer morosely.  The three men, sitting in their car, uninjured, try to get the car to move but cannot.  Two men in the bar leave the bar with shotguns to investigate and Eric follows.  Archie leaves the backseat and breaks into Eric's car and electronically hotwires it; the other two follow.  Eric is able to start the truck and pursues the three carjackers.  

The Rover - Guy Pearce as Eric | A Constantly Racing Mind

During the pursuit, Eric catches up to the thieves, but is knocked unconscious and left on the side fo the road. Upon awaking,  Eric stops at every shithole town that litters the Australian desert.  He also finds himself at odds with an old brothel/opium den owner who goes by the name of Grandma (Gillian Jones), several Chinese acrobats and a dwarf (Jamie Fallon), whom Eric ends up murdering in a quite nonchalant way.  Eric also runs into Rey who is losing blood from a gunshot wound.  After driving miles to find a doctor, Eric finds one by the name of Dorothy (Susan Prior).  After she removes the bullet, cleans, and dresses the wound, Dorothy finds Eric in a shed where she keeps quite a few dogs held in cages.  Watching the caged dogs, Eric is quiet and filled with sorrow. He sits in front of them and sobs.  Dorothy tells him that the owners left the dogs with her to care for.  The owners never returned.  She didn’t want to release the dogs because she knows that they would be killed and eaten as food.  The next day during an encounter with the Chinese acrobats who came avenge the dwarf..  Eric uses Dorothy’s rifle to shoot them from a distance.  Rey, still recovering, marvels at his accuracy.  Eric takes Rey with him as he is the key in finding the brother, the other two thieves and his car.  

Eric’s car acts as a McGuffin in this film.  It seems to be Eric’s purpose for living.  One must ask themselves why the damn car is so important.  The interaction between Eric and Rey, which starts out guarded, is insightful to the audience.  We find that Eric is an ex-soldier and a failed farmer and Rey is a young American man who may be described as one with limited mental abilities.  Rey is a role that Robert Pattinson gives an exceptionally good performance.  His mannerisms and the difficulty he has in getting his words out are painfully realistic.  Throughout the film, Rey’s character metamorphoses into something other than a mentally challenged kid who is severely dependent on his older brother.   

The Rover -  Eric and Rey getting bullets | A Constantly Racing Mind

The theme of friendship and trust grows throughout the film in small yet credible ways.  Eric is harder to fathom as he is a man full of despair, and acts as a one whose search for meaning has failed.  After Rey accidently kills a motel owner’s daughter, he ends up in a gunfight with a soldier who Eric dispatches matter-of factly.  The next day Rey is deep in thought and tells Eric that he is thinking of the girl he killed.  Eric replies, "You should never stop thinking about a life you take.  That is the price you pay for taking it."

As the two travel the Australian Wasteland there are people surrealistically crucified on the side of the road.  Eric is morose throughout the film with an air of existentialism on the surface but with a terrible anger boiling beneath.  At one point, after being captured by the soldiers, he talks to the Sargent filling out his transfer papers.  Eric asks the soldier why he doesn't just kill him rather than sending him to Sydney.  The soldier’s reply borders on the absurd, "Why shoot them, if we shoot them and never send them to Sidney they will wonder why they are paying us.”  He then confesses to the soldier about murdering his wife 10 years before. For Eric, the loss of structure, the lawlessness, and the struggle just to survive, leaves the his world meaningless and sullen.  As Eric awaits his death, gunshots ring out, and within seconds, the soldier he just confessed to, is dead.  Rey arrives like the cavalry to the rescue.  Welcome to the apocalyptic version of Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men."

The Rover -  Eric sorrowful and morose | A Constantly Racing Mind

Amidst the ramshackle buildings and the desert heat and openness, “The Rover” is paced stubbornly and has a quality reminiscent of "The Book of Eli."  Michôd questions the value of the Rule of Law, or in this case the lack of it.  One sits mesmerized to the screen as each scene and each act of violence unfolds and you are given time to reflect on what the world has come to.  The Human psyche is a fragile thing and in either Eric and Rey’s world, or your own world, where respect for human life and politeness come into question as each bit of civility, slowly and insidiously is stripped from humanity.  The film exudes complacency as seen near the end when an old man watches the murder of his companions.

Have I scared you with a description of this film?  Don’t be, my intentions are only to guide you.  The Rover is a film for those who are not faint of heart and enjoys a directing style that aims clearly at telling a story of violence in a realistic but in a weirdly beautiful way. Natasha Braier's cinematography and Peter Sciberras editing doesn't rush or force the characters or the story.  "The Rover" is a film about the search for humanity, civility and the safety of structure.  The film is also about justice; not just justice for the film’s bad guys, but also for the "hero" as well. 

Movie Data

Genre: Crime, Drama
Year:  2014
Staring: Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, Scoot McNairy, Tawanda Manyimo, David Field, Susan Prior, Gillian Jones
Director: David Michôd
Producer(s): David Linde, David Michôd, Liz Watts
Writer: Joel Edgerton, David Michôd
Rating: R
Running Time: 102 minutes
Release Date:  6/20/2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Jersey Boys - A Sentimental Peek Into the Past

Jersey Boys - Poster | A Constantly Racing Mind
You're just too good to be true. 
Can't take my eyes off of you. 
You'd be like heaven to touch.
I wanna hold you so much.
At long last love has arrived.
And I thank God I'm alive.
You're just too good to be true. 
Can't take my eyes off of you.

Pardon the way that I stare. 
There's nothing else to compare. 
The sight of you leaves me weak. 
There are no words left to speak. 
But if you feel like I feel. 
Please let me know that it's real.
You're just too good to be true. 
Can't take my eyes off of you.
was coming into my teenage years in the 1970's listening to AM radio. Besides the usual Middle of the Road (MOR) musical fare, was the doo-wop pop-rock sound of the Four Seasons.  The last time I saw Frankie Valli was in '78 when he did the theme song for the Broadway to film adaptation of the musical, "Grease."  In “Jersey Boys,” Clint Eastwood ("Play Misty for Me," "Gran Torino") in his 36th offering as a director brings back musical memories of a nostalgic time of an idealized era that is long gone. In “Jersey Boys,” we glimpse into the beginnings, the fame, and the troubles that made up the lives of the four musicians who formed “The Four Seasons.”  Eastwood was adamant in having relative unknown actors fill the main roles.  From the Broadway Musical John Lloyd Young stars as the iconic Frankie Valli, voice and all.  Vincent Piazza ("Boardwalk Empire," "Stephanie Daley"), stars as Tommy DeVito, the founder of the band “The Four Lovers,” which would evolve into “The Four Seasons.”  Michael Lomenda portrays bass vocalist and bass player Nick Massi. Erich Bergen (“How Sweet It Is”) plays the singer, keyboardist, and songwriter Bob Gaudio.  Christopher Walken rounds out the main cast members as caporegime, Angelo "Gyp" DeCarlo of the New York Genovese familia.  “Jersey Boys” has an R rating for the strong language and runs 2 hours and 14 minutes.

Many will show up to see “Jersey Boys” to reminisce to the pop-rock vocals of Frankie Valli and relive the music of their youth.  However, be forewarned, although the music is an integral to the narrative, however, the film and the Broadway Musical it’s based on focus primarily on the characters and their arc.  Throughout the film, we catch the songs as the band is practicing, or recording them and sometimes performing them, but not really the whole song.  In these cases the music is incidental to the narrative and isn’t the driving force behind the story.

Jersey Boys - The Four Seasons | A Constantly Racing Mind

Filmed in a palette that reminds one of a black and white photographed tinted to produce a colorized version, giving the film an old timey nostalgic feel.  We can thank Director of Photography Tom Stern ("Trouble with the Curve,", "The Hunger Games," "Hereafter") for these nostalgic visuals.  Understanding that “Jersey Boys” is an adaptation of a theater based musical, one can understand the liberties that the filmmakers have taken in allowing the characters to break the fourth wall and communicate their thoughts directly with the audience.  Unlike musicals of the past, such as “My Fair Lady,”  “Hair,” “The Sound of Music,” “The Music Man,” “West Side Story,” “The King And I,” or “Fiddler on the Roof” to name a few, the performers don’t just launch into a song.  The music is presented in a more natural way.  

John Lloyd Young (Valli), Michael Lomenda (Massi), Erich Bergen (Gaudio) are veteran stage performers who have portrayed their respective parts in the musical version.  John Lloyd Young won a Tony for his rendition of the Italian song legend.  As a newcomer to the film industry, he does a great job of going from a 16 year-old part time barber’s apprentice to a 70 something former legend.  Lomenda played in in the Toronto and touring productions of Jersey Boys as the bands bass player.  Bergan was in the first touring version and spent some time in Vegas reprising the role of the keyboardist and hit songwriter.  Each all sing their parts in the film as they did on stage.  Selecting stage actors from those who are familiar with the characters, the story, and the music is the only logical choice that director Eastwood could make.  Young’s vocals in hitting Valli’s falsetto sets the spine tingling as he launches into “Can't Take My Eyes Off You” and the goose bumps go into overdrive as the full orchestra enters and blows the chorus out of the theater.  

Musically the film is filled with Four Season classics like “Sherry,” “Rag Doll,” “Who Loves You,” “December 1963 (Oh, What A Night),” and “My Eyes Adored You.”  We get to hear at one point or other “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man.” and “Workin' My Way Back to You.”  We also hear other lesser-known hits of the group, such as “My Mother's Eyes” “Opus 17 (Don't You Worry 'bout Me),” “Bye Bye Baby (Baby Goodbye),” “Dawn (Go Away),” and the Four Season’s cover of Maurice Williams “Stay.”  I bet you thought Jackson Brown was the only version out there.  We see and hear the Angels (played by Kim Gatewood, Jackie Seiden, and Kyli Rae) “My Boyfriend's Back” and we hear the Royal Teens’ (Gaudio’s former band) “Short Shorts” as Gaudio’s introduction to the film.  The sound that Gaudio and producer Bob Crewe constructed with Valli’s voice is the catchy sound that appeals to the East Coast working stiffs that continued to flourish during the First Wave of the British music invasion and the rise of the California sound of the same era.  But, once again, keep in mind, the music is not the story.

Jersey Boys - The Four Seasons on American Bandstand | A Constantly Racing Mind

When a storyteller wants to tell a story full of compelling talented characters, landmark events, and the rise and fall of a dream, all one needs to do is tell a story about a band.  Every band has a history, and the interactions of the members are always more complex than one would like it.  “Jersey Boys” tells a “Reader’s Digest” version of the rise and fall of Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio.  Like book adaptations, playwrights Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice give us a winner’s version of the Valli, DeVito relationship.  The characterization of Gyp DeCarlo is that of the benevolent uncle to Valli and DeVito whereas in real life he was a vicious loan shark and murderer.  The film depicts the bands beginnings along with a simplified lineup offered for our viewing pleasure, otherwise one would need programs to keep track of all the band member changes.  

What we see is a mostly coherent timeline from the group’s delinquent beginning to the point where members of the core band part ways.  The bands relationship with producer Bob Crewe, played deliciously by Mike Doyle (“Green Lantern”) is shifted to start later than it did.  Also as writer and producer, Crewe shares songwriting credit with Gaudio for many of the bands biggest hits.  Nick Massi, the bassist and vocal arranger actually left the band in 1965 rather than later as depicted in the film. The film recounts Valli’s troubled marriage to Mary Mandel (Renée Marino), which lasted 13 years and produced two children.  The film doesn’t mention his two sons from his third wife or his adopted daughter Celia.  The film does go into some detail of the of his daughter Francine’s tragic death of a drug overdose which provides for a more thoughtful change in tone.  The film does show how a young Joe Pesci introduces the band to Bob Gaudio as their newest member.  Yes, that Joe Pesci.

One may wonder if this film is doing justice to the legacy of the Four Seasons, or if this film falls short.  Featuring full sets of the band doing their music isn't the goal that director Eastwood, executive producers Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio seemed to be attempting.  Based on the book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice who also scripted the film, along with the music of Crewe and Gaudio, Eastwood seems to stay faithful to the spirit of the stage version allowing each of the Four Seasons to tell their version of the story.  While focusing on some events while glossing over others does give the audience a few confusing moments. Overall, Eastwood brings a sometimes schmaltzy, sometimes cheesy, but ultimately entertaining version of a story that allows the sounds of the 1960s and the legacy of the Four Seasons to transcend into the 21st century.

Movie Data

Genre: Biography, Drama, Musical
Year:  2014
Staring: John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda, Christopher Walken
Director: Clint Eastwood
Producer(s): Tim Headington, Graham King, Robert Loren
Writer: Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice
Rating: R
Running Time: 134 minutes
Release Date:  6/20/2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy - Special Extended Look

Guardians of the Galaxy - August 1, 2014 | A Constantly Racing Mind

From the studio that brought you "Iron Man," "Captain America," "Thor," and "The Avengers" comes a whole new galaxy. Peter Quill, abducted by aliens as a kid, now sometimes known as  Star-lord, has a destiny to fulfill. Peter, two thugs, a murderer, and a maniac find themselves with the fate of 12 billion souls in their hands. Given a second a chance, Peter and these galactic criminals band together to save the innocent. Marvel Studios released a new extended trailer today.
"We will not stand by as evil wipes out billions of innocent lives."

Guardians of the Galaxy stars Chris Prat ("Parks and Recreation") as Peter Quill aka Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana  ("Star Trek Into Darkness," "Avatar") as Gamora, and WWE's Dave Bautista ("House of the Rising Sun") as Drax the Destroyer.  The computer generated characters Rocket Raccoon and Groot feature the voices of Bradley Cooper ("Limitless," "American Hustle") and  "XXX" and "Riddick" star Vin Diesel respectively..

A;so starring along with the Guardians are Lee Pace ("The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug") as Ronan, Karen Gillan ("Oculus," "Dr. Who") as Nebula, Djimon Hounsou ("Gladiator," "Blood Diamond") as Korath.  In addition, supporting the cast are character actor John C. Reilly ("Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant:," "The Perfect Storm") as Rhomann Dey, and the ever versatile Glenn Close ("The World According to Garp," "Fatal Attraction") as Nova Prime Irani Rael.

"All heros start somewhere."

"Brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits -- Rocket, a gun--toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand--with the galaxy s fate in the balance."

Guardians of the Galaxy - Gamora, Peter, and Drax the Destroyer | A Constantly Racing Mind

Marvel studios presidentKevin Feige, is producing while James Gunn ("Super") is directing this fun Sci-Fi, action - adventure space romp.

Look for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures  is releasing "Guardians of the Galaxy"  in the U.S. on August 1, 2014.


Movie Data

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Year:  2014
Staring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace
Director: James Gunn
Producer(s): Kevin Feige
Writer: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 122 minutes
Release Date:  8/1/2014

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Following The Signal Deep Into the Rabbit Hole

The Signal - Poster | A Constantly Racing Mind

Thirty-two year-old writer, cinematographer, and director William Eubank ("Love") along with David Frigerio ("Wreckage") and Eubank's younger brother Carlyle Eubank, construct a Sci-Fi lover's cunning and surreal take on alien contact.  Both beautiful, and clever, "The Signal," does an excellent job of leading you further into the conspiracy and closer to the edge of your seat.  2014 is 25 year-old actor Brenton Thwaites' year.  In April, he starred with Karen Gillan in the horror film "Oculus" and had a small role as Prince Phillip in the Angelina Jolie's "Maleficent."  Later this year Thwaites stars in the long awaited adaptation of Lois Lowry's 1993 Newbery Medal award winner, "The Giver.”  In "The Signal," Thwaites plays Nic, a MIT student.  Laurence Fishburne ("The Matrix," "Event Horizon") takes on another risky role as Dr. Wallace Damon.  In supporting roles are Olivia Cooke ("The Quiet Ones") plays Haley, Nic's girlfriend, and Beau Knapp ("Super 8") is Nic and Haley's friend Jonah.  Nic and Jonah are MIT students driving Haley to California to deliver Haley to Caltech in Los Angeles.  

Nic has muscular dystrophy and needs to us crutches to walk, but Nic loves to run.  He loves the freedom of running, and director Eubanks beautifully starts his film with Nic jogging on a forest trail until he comes to a point where the way is blocked by a raging river.  He and Jonah are MIT students driving cross-country on their way to Caltech to help Nic's girlfriend Haley move before the next semester begins.  They're hackers who almost were expelled from MIT when the real hacker, who goes by the hacker name "Nomad," led the authorities in their direction.  While In a motel room, in the middle of the night, Nic and Jonah trace Nomad's IP address, his signal.  Only to have Haley's computer hacked by Nomad as a technological taunt.  Jonah is ready to take on Nomad, as they are only several hundred miles away, however, Nic is hesitant as he contemplates his girlfriend moving across country and knowing that his condition will worsen.  Although the film is only an hour and a half, director spends time in the first 15 to 20 minutes building character through flashbacks, short scenes of narrative building dialog, and views of the landscape that don't feel rushed but evenly paced.  However as we only get through know Haley and Jonah peripherally while focusing primarily on Nic. Olivia Cooke's Haley character is one dimensional and spends the last hour of the film in either a comatose state or in a state of semi consciousness.  The only real thing about Jonah that we learn is that he is extremely loyal. 

The Signal - Brenton Thwaites | A Constantly Racing Mind

Although Nic is conflicted with the logical choice of not taking a risk and playing it safe by going straight through to Caltech, or to follow the signal which Jonah is sure will lead the to their hacker nemesis, he decides to track down Nomad and expose him for the MIT server hack.  Later that night, the three find themselves in front of a rundown shack off a dark dirt road in the middle of the Nevada desert.  Breaking all rules of common sense and one of the top five rules of horror films, they leave Haley in the car with the doors locked.  Jonah and Nic explore the seemingly empty house.  While searching the basement, the guys hear Haley's screams and Jonah runs up the stairs and Nic hobbles after him with his crutches, finding the car empty, and Haley gone.  Some chaotic shots and an image of Haley being tossed in the air as the scene cuts to black.

In contrast to the first 30 minutes, the second act is underground, sterile, and visually set against a slightly overexposed white background.  Nic, dazed, confused, and possibly drugged, is dressed in a hospital gown, and confined to a wheelchair is rolled into an interview room where he meets Dr. Wallace Damon (Fishburne).  In a thick padded hazmat suite, Damon questions Nic but offers no information.  Damon is cryptic and vague in his answers.  “Are you from Earth?”  Damon asks.  Nic who realizes that he can't feel his arms, asks Damon why.  Fishburne delivers the answer in a Kafka-esque manner, “Due to circumstances surrounding your condition, I’m afraid that our information is extremely limited.”  "The Signal" provides a new term to our UFO lexicon is Extraterrestrial Biological Entity or E.B.E.  The terms alien contagion, quarantine, and Damon's warning, "I can only you safe from them down here."  More importantly, in this supposedly high-tech research facility, Nic witnesses clocks stuck at 12:30, signs posted upside down, and Damon records the interview on a 1980's era cassette recorder.  Where is Jonah?  Damon's reply "We were unable to recover him," yet Nic converses with the disembodied voice of Jonah through the air-vents.  Nic also witnesses rooms splattered with blood, which the people in hazmat suits scrub down repeatedly.  While in an escape attempt, with the unconscious Haley in tow, Nic rounds a corner a strange experiment involving a cow.  Nobody other than Damon ever talk.  “Are you agitated?”

The Signal - Laurence Fishburne | A Constantly Racing Mind

Laurence Fishburne is an accomplished actor whose roles range from a teenager caught up in the Vietnam War ("Apocalypse Now") to a murderous gang member in "Death Wish II.”  Fishburne's career shifted to Science Fiction in 1997 when he starred in Paul W. S. Anderson's Sci-Fi gothic horror film, "Event Horizon.”  He became a true household name in 1999 when he played the mystical, inspirational, and steadfast captain of the hovercraft Nebuchadnezzar in "The Matrix," "The Matrix Reloaded," and "The Matrix Revolutions."  In 2009, Fishburne played a bank robber in "Armored” and a mentally unbalanced alien planet castaway in "Predators," and a virologist for the CDC in "Contagion."  In 2013, he starred in the "The Colony," a film with some interesting but derivative post-apocalyptic ideas.  In "The Signal," Fishburne's Damon character is mysterious and leaves not only Nic confused, but agitated.  Nic and Damon have daily interrogations that leave Nic pissed on a daily basis.  When asked to match colored shapes Nic screams "...spectral colors of light are more important than their words.”  Or, infuriated by Damon's questions and lack of answers, Nic yells at Damon, "You are a relic protecting ruins."  Damon stays calm and nonplussed throughout the film.  Damon delivers his last line in the film in a familiar Morpheus-esque way.

"You have an extraordinary will to survive."

What keeps the audience from getting agitated with the twists and turns in the plot is Lin Shaye ("Insidious").  She plays a complete religious wacko who aid Nic and Haley.  She preaches to the two to "Take comfort in the thought that THEY are watching over us,” then turning her head upwards she gives an orgasmic vocalization.  When asked by Nic, who THEY are, she then strangely mutters something about "the coming hoards.”  Her demented character also tells the kids to "just push from the inside out!"  Her performance not only provides comic relief to what would be a very self-serious film, but also heightens the mystery of plot.

The Signal - Laurence Fishburne & Lin Shaye | A Constantly Racing Mind

Eubank and company do an excellent job of combining their love of classic Sci-Fi tropes that brings themes of paranoia, identity, and of time and space, which also include elements from "The Bionic Man," "District Nine," "Dark Skies," and even the "Matrix.”  Composer Nima Fakhrara and cinematographer David Lanzenberg's visual choices of close-ups and medium shots give the characters and events a personal connection.  The sights and sound combine to present a visually stylish and musically relevant cinematic experience that reminds one to both versions of Stanislaw Lem's "Solaris.”  The special effects are top-notch in spite of tight budget constraints.  Brenton Thwaites shows us with each outing that he is capable of holding together not only a scene, but also a whole film.  His on-screen presence can be bold, but at time humorous and intimate.  Fishburne's performance, although quirky at times, lends weight to the offbeat conclusion to the film. 

The Signal - Brenton Thwaites & Olivia Cooke | A Constantly Racing Mind

"The Signal," although a low budget genre film, is conceptually and narratively solid.  Cinematically “The Signal” shoots for the stars but diverts strangely into the bizarre dimension of the “Twilight Zone."  Mainstream film critics won't care much for "The Signal," however; Science-Fiction fans will enjoy the familiarity and homage of certain archetypes.  Lawrence Fishburne will be the biggest draw, however, Brenton Thwaites is courageous with his performance, and that boldness is as intense as Fishburne’s stoicism.  "The Signal" is Science Fiction in its true form, unaltered by fantastical elements from fantasy or the horror genres.  If you don’t see “The Signal” in theaters, make sure that you catch it on Blu-ray or DVD.

Movie Data

Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller
Year:  2014
Staring: Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke, Beau Knapp, Laurence Fishburne
Director: William Eubank
Producer(s): Tyler Davidson, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones
Writer: David Frigerio, Carlyle Eubank
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 95 minutes
Release Date:  6/13/2014

Friday, June 13, 2014

Deliver Us From Evil: Beware the Night

Deliver Us From Evil - Poster | A Constantly Racing Mind
Coming to theaters near you on July 2, 2014 is this year's summer instalment of creepy. Last year's offering was James Wan's highly successful suspense/horror film "The Conjuring."  This year "Sinister" director Scott Derrickson returns with another "The following is based on actual accounts" type of horror film.  Derrickson and writer Paul Harris Boardman both veterans of 2005's "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" collaborate yet again in adapting former NYPD officer  Ralph Sarchie's adventures in investigating demonic events.  Ralph chronicles these exploits in his 2001 book "Beware the Night"  by Ralph Sarchie.  Australian actor Eric Bana ("Star Trek," "Hanna") plays Ralph who is going through a crisis of faith while investigating a series of murders. Venezuelan actor Édgar Ramírez ("Domino," "The Bourne Ultimatum") also stars as a rouge Catholic priest who enlists Sarchie's help in fighting demons. 

Sony Pictures hasn't been promoting this film very hard, however this what you need to know.
  • In "DELIVER US FROM EVIL," New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), struggling with his own personal issues, begins investigating a series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes. He joins forces with an unconventional priest (Edgar Ramirez), schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the frightening and demonic possessions that are terrorizing their city. Based upon the book, which details Sarchie's bone-chilling real-life cases.
    - Written by Sony Pictures Entertainment
Deliver Us From Evil - Eric Bana as Ralph Sarchie | A Constantly Racing Mind

Besides  "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," horror veterans, director Scott Derrickson and writer Paul Harris Boardman, have worked together in 2000 on the direct to video "Hellraiser: Inferno,"  and 2013's "Devil's Knot."  Both Derrickson and Harris Boardman are credited as the writers of 2000's horror film "Urban Legends: Final Cut."

In this trailer, religious skeptic Ralph Sarchie (Bana) investigates an incident at a zoo that he believes is a women's psychotic breakdown.  While Catholic priest, Father Mendoza, tries to convince the NYPD officer that this paranormal and demonic.

Ralph Sarchie not only writes novels he is associated with The New England Society For Psychic Research ran by Lorraine and the late Ed Warren.  Ralph started a New York chapter of the Psychic Research center.  It will be interesting to see how different the film is from book. 

"Deliver Us From Evil"  is in theaters , July 2, 2014. 


Deliver Us From Evil: Review
Deliver Us From Evil: What Do You Believe

Movie Data

Genre: Crime, Horror, Thriller
Year:  2014
Staring: Eric Bana, Édgar Ramírez, Olivia Munn, Sean Harris, Joel McHale
Director: Scott Derrickson 
Producer(s): Jerry Bruckheimer
Writer: Scott Derrickson, Paul Harris Boardman, Ralph Sarchie, Lisa Collier Cool
Rating: R
Running Time: 118 minutes
Release Date:  7/2/2014