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From ’Puter to Putrid – A Birthday Letter: "Unfriended," "Monkey Kingdom," "True Story," "While We’re Young," and "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 20 April 2015 12:39

Shelley Hennig in UnfriendedDear Dad,

It was wonderful seeing you again this past weekend at your 75th-birthday party! I had a great time in Chicagoland with you and the family and the extended family ... although I do apologize for whipping your ass at pinochle on Saturday. Hey, I learned from the master.

But it dawned on me that while you expressed surprise at my ability to also sneak in five weekend movies despite the birthday happenings and my hours spent on the highway, I never went into detail on what I saw. So let’s get you caught up. (You’re likely not gonna recognize many of the names and movies I reference. If you’re uncertain about any of ’em, ask Mom. She’ll know.)

 
Crock and Bull Story: "The Longest Ride," "Woman in Gold," and "Wild Tales" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Saturday, 11 April 2015 15:37

Scott Eastwood and Britt Robertson in The Longest RideTHE LONGEST RIDE

I don’t mean to alarm you, but this past Friday, a seismic event occurred at national cineplexes: A movie based on one of Nicholas Sparks’ romantic melodramas opened, and not once – not once! – did its dewy young lovers wind up kissing in the rain.

 
The Fortune of Wheels: "Furious 7" and "Freetown" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Friday, 03 April 2015 14:32

Vin Diesel in Furious 7FURIOUS 7

Under ordinary circumstances, if you’d missed the first six installments in a particular film franchise, I’d never suggest starting your introduction with the seventh. But the circumstances surrounding the Fast & the Furiouses, including the series’ new outing Furious 7, are hardly ordinary – and not simply because most film franchises don’t have seven installments.

 
A Foot in the Door: With “Nightlight,” Scott Beck and Bryan Woods Go from the Quad Cities to Hollywood PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 01 April 2015 11:42

Scott Beck (left) and Bryan Woods. Photo by Fred Hayes.

The train rumbles toward you, and then it’s over you, throwing sparks. It’s a short train, but it’s nonetheless a harrowing seven seconds – looking, sounding, and feeling uncomfortably real.

That’s because, on a practical level, it is real.

This happens less than 10 minutes into the new, nationally distributed horror movie Nightlight by writers/directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, the filmmaking duo from the Quad Cities now based in Los Angeles.

“That whole sequence was a lot of fun to figure out,” Beck said in a recent phone interview. The special-effects team proposed using computer animation for the train, he said, but he and Woods asked: “Could we actually get a real freight train on these tracks?”

We’ve been introduced to five teens who’ve come to a supposedly haunted forest for “flashlight games.” One involves laying down a flashlight on railroad ties, running down the tracks to a specific point, and then running back and grabbing the flashlight. There’s not much to it ... except for the train.

This bit lasts roughly a minute and 40 seconds, done in a single shot.

“The scene starts with the train incredibly far away, [and] it just gets closer and closer,” Woods said.

We can only hear the train’s horn as the first three people complete the task – getting louder with each blast. With the fourth teen, we can see the headlight peeking through the trees as the engine comes around a bend.

And after Shelby, our protagonist, puts her flashlight on the ties, we see the train itself, with her sprinting toward it and then back toward her flashlight.

She jumps away just before the train hits her, but her flashlight – which belonged to a friend who committed suicide and provides the point of view for all the movie’s action – remains on the tracks, and the audience gets an unsettling understanding of what it would feel like to be under a freight train moving at full speed.

 
Lay It Forward: "It Follows," "Get Hard," and "Home" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Saturday, 28 March 2015 16:22

Jake Weary and Maika Monroe in It FollowsIT FOLLOWS

Any horror fan who came of age with Halloween, Friday the 13th, and their many sequels knows the ironclad rule regarding imperiled teens: If they have sex, they’re gonna die. So maybe you’ll have to be of a certain generation – or have an affinity for a certain breed of shocker – to get the most from It Follows, writer/director David Robert Mitchell’s intensely witty, pretty damned scary tale of a young woman diagnosed with a literally murderous, and ambulatory, STD.

 
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