Review: ‘WETLANDS’ blows by with little gusto.

Synopsis: Babel “Babs” Johnson (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) is a police detective who finds himself assigned to a precinct in the Wetlands, the no-man’s land surrounding Atlantic City, within eyeshot of the once fancy and now dilapidated hotels and boardwalk, but a world away.  A year ago, he was a top cop in Philadelphia, but mysterious circumstances intervened and now he finds himself back home and back in the lives of his estranged daughter, Amy (Celeste O’Connor), and still-bitter ex-wife, Savannah (Heather Graham)

 

Surrounded by locals, Surfer Girl (Reyna de Courcy), a surfboard builder who has dreams of moving to Hawaii to ply her trade; and Kate (Jennifer Ehle), a local news anchor; and local thugs Jimmy (Louis Mustillo) his boss, Lollipop (Barry Markowitz); and with a new partner, a fun-loving gambling addict named Paddy Sheehan (Christopher McDonald), Babs slowly adjusts to life back on the beat.

 

Meanwhile, as the region prepares for a massive, late-season hurricane, the storm threatens to destroy the Wetlands… and the lives of some of its inhabitants.

Wetlands tries really hard to be a noir that never really pans out. It’s painfully slow and rather cliche in its character development. With such a heavy-hitting cast, it is difficult to walk them try so hard at something that doesn’t give them, or the audience, enough to care about. What information we do have about Babs, comes in what feels like misplaced and piecemeal black & white flashbacks. The nonchalance of the shadiness that’s occurring in this town makes it all the more underwhelming. 

While beautifully shot, with sweeping shots of the rundown boardwalk, that’s just about the only pretty thing about Wetlands. I was left with an overall feeling of, “Meh.” This cast deserved a whole hell of a lot more by way of character development. There is never any feeling of genuine urgency, and with one of the major plot points being an impending hurricane, it certainly seems like that should have been quite the priority.

WETLANDS – starring Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Suicide Squad, ABC’s “Ten Days in the Valley,” TV’s “Oz,” “Lost”),Heather Graham (The Hangover, TV’s “Californication”), Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty, Fifty Shades of Grey, TV’s “A Gifted Man”) and Christopher McDonald(Requiem for a Dream, TV’s “The Good Wife,” “Boardwalk Empire”).

The film is written and directed by first-time filmmaker Emanuele Della Valle and will be released in theaters on September 15th.

 

 

Review: ‘Once Upon A Time In Venice” is for the dogs… and Bruce Willis fans.

SYNOPSIS:  Bruce Willis (Die Hard) is Venice Beach P.I. Steve Ford: a detective who’s good with the ladies, bad with the punches, and wild about his dog, Buddy. But when his beloved pet is stolen by local thugs, Steve makes a questionable alliance with their devious leader, Spyder (Jason Momoa, “Game of Thrones”). Teaming up with his best friend (John Goodman, The Big Lebowski), Steve pulls out the big guns in search of Spyder’s stolen cocaine and cash in order to set things straight and get Buddy back where he belongs. Thomas Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”), Famke Janssen (X-Men), and Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle) co-star in this bullet-ridden action-comedy that shows just how far one man will go for his dog.
The film features an all-star ensemble cast including Bruce Willis (Die Hard),

John Goodman (The Big Lebowski), Jason Momoa (Aquaman, “Game of Thrones”), Famke Janssen (X-Men), Thomas Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”), Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan), Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle), and rapper Tyga (Barbershop: The Next Cut).

ONCE UPON A TIME IN VENICE is the directorial debut of Mark Cullen who co-wrote and co-produced the film with his brother Robb Cullen. The Cullen brothers previously collaborated on Cop Out which also stars Bruce Willis.  The film is produced by Nicolas Chartier (The Hurt Locker), Laura Ford (Carolina), Zev Foreman (Dallas Buyers Club) and is executive produced by Jonathan Deckter (Colossal) and Stephen J. Eads (Live Free or Die Hard).
Once Upon A Time In Venice is one quirky piece of hilarity. While I was not prepared to see Bruce Willis buck naked on a skateboard, I was not mad about it. The film is a bit all over the place but wildly entertaining. In practically every new scene there is a crazy celebrity cameo, aside from the major ensemble cast to begin with. Willis and Goodman are charming as ever. Momoa is almost unrecognizable and Middleditch is genuinely adorable. Everyone is stellar and the script has some huge laugh out loud moments. ONCE UPON A TIME IN VENICE is in theaters and on VOD and Digital HD now! Check out the trailer below.

 

TITLE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN VENICE

IN THEATERS AND AVAILABLE ON VOD AND DIGITAL HD: June 16, 2017

DIRECTOR: Mark Cullen

WRITERS: Mark Cullen, Robb Cullen

CAST: Bruce Willis, John Goodman, Jason Momoa, Thomas Middleditch, Famke Janssen, Stephanie Sigman, Adam Goldberg, Kal Penn, Christopher McDonald, Wood Harris

GENRE: Action/Comedy

DISTRIBUTOR: RLJ Entertainment

Review: ‘DON’T WORRY BABY’, Daddy’s got you.


Presents

DON’T WORRY BABYDon't Worry Baby poster

The modern family dynamic can be complicated, at best. With the divorce rate at 50%, blended families are more the norm than anything else. The idea of Mom, Dad, 2.5 kids and a dog no longer fits inside a neat little box. If anything, that’s the oddity now. In the new film DON’T WORRY BABY, writer/director Julian Branciforte takes this concept to a whole new level.

Struggling photographer Robert (Magaro) and his philandering father Harry (McDonald) realize that they each had a one-night stand with the same woman, Sara-Beth (Walker), in the same week. Years later, they realize that either one of them might be the biological father of her adorable four-year-old daughter. They begrudgingly agree to share fatherly duties while awaiting a paternity test.

Don't Worry BabyRobert and Harry are strangely pitted against one another for “father of the year” status, in an awkward competition of responsibility. Robert is not only navigating relationship normalcy but he is grasping to find happiness in general. Harry, in a sad attempt to outdo his son, uses demeaning words and actions to cut Robert down at every turn. Branciforte’s story is immensely compelling, offers moments of surprise and nothing but honesty. The performances all around are outstanding.

Dreama WalkerJohn Magaro‘s Robert battle self-loathing and confusion as he finds his way through career, life and love. This role for Magaro is proof that his natural talent is way more than enough. Chris McDonald‘s Harry is a self-righteous prick coming to terms with his own life long mistakes as father and husband. The performance is something I have to come expect from McDonald’s. There is a reason he has had such a long career. Dreama Walker, as Sara-beth, could have been a throwaway character. The ins and out of a quietly complex young woman were well played by Walker. As the film progresses, we become more and more invested in each role as Branciforte does a wonderful job developing everyone. To believe this story, this is absolutely necessary. With solid smaller roles filled by Britt Lower and Tom Lipinski, some of the film’s most shining moments come from Talia Balsam as Harry’s wife Miriam. The dynamic between Sara-beth and the woman betrayed is an unexpected one, but truly inspiring. Let me not forget to mention how fantastically darling Rainn Williams is as Mason, the young lady there is so much to do about. This little sweetheart is meant to be on the big screen. The chemistry between the entire cast combined with tight direction make this a winner.

Don't worry baby stillDON’T WORRY BABY is ultimately about making amends. Coming to terms with what we’ve created emotionally is a huge task, and it’s one that this film dives into head first. You can catch Don’t Worry Baby in theaters and On Demand this Friday, July 22nd.

In Theaters and On Demand
July 22nd

Starring
John Magaro (CarolThe Big Short, Woody Allen’s Upcoming Series)
Chris McDonald  (Happy GilmoreThelma and Louise)
Dreama Walker (CBS’s The Good Wife)
Tom Lipinski (USA Network’s Suits)
&
Talia Balsam (No Strings AttachedAMC’s Mad Men)

Written & Directed By
Julian Branciforte

Reel News Interview Series: Christopher McDonald

Christopher-McDonald

 

On the promotional trail talking about his new film The SqueezeChristopher McDonald called in to talk about the film and what makes golf such a great game!

Make sure you check out my review of the film!

The Squeeze hits VOD and select theaters across the nation on April 17th

Michael’s Review: ‘The Squeeze’

The_Squeeze_Poster4_LRMoney is a powerful motivator, especially for a young man faced with caring for his family, but when you’re a young golf phenom presented with the proposal of easy money, well, that motivation is more than tempting; it calls to you. The Squeeze is a based on true events golf dramedy directed and written by seven-time Emmy Award winner Terry Jastrow, which explores the temptation of gambling and the dangers which lie beneath the surface.

Make poster from this

Augie (Jeremy Sumpter) is a exceptional young golfer from a small town in Texas who dreams of becoming a professional golfer. After winning the City Golf Championship by an astounding 15 shots, Augie peaks the interest of a fast talking Southern gambler named Riverboat (Christopher McDonald) and his traveling companion Jessie (Katherine LaNasa) who are passing through the small town on their way to Las Vegas. Riverboat tries to convince Augie on abandon his dreams of qualifying for the PGA Tour to come play for him in high-stake gambling matches for big money, but Natalie (Jillian Murray), Augie’s girlfriend, tries to convince him otherwise. For young Augie, the temptation proves too tough to resist. 

Jeremy-Sumpter

The money starts to roll in for the pair, but Riverboat is not satisfied. He begins to set his sights on bigger fish and convinces Augie to follow him to Las Vegas, where stakes are higher, but so are the risk. The two soon cross paths with known mob associate named Jimmy Diamonds (Michael Nouri), who enters into a million dollar bet with Riverboat. Augie is soon thrown into the middle where all bets are off in this a game of life or death. It’s sudden death and the stakes have never been higher young golfer. Can Augie find a way out of this no win situation or is he truly on his last hole? 

Michael-Nouri

The Squeeze is a wonderful movie and a true testament to the talent of director Terry Jastrow. The film is so carefully crafted with a captivating story and wonderfully portrayed characters that will leave you wanting more. Christopher McDonald and Jeremy Sumpter are a fantastic pair and the their chemistry on screen is very impressive. Jillian Murray brings such a wonderfully calming presence to her scenes and really shines as the voice of reason in a sea of temptation. Michael Nouri is brilliant as Jimmy Diamonds. Nouri has the voice, mannerisms and facial expressions of a true mobster and you truly believe that he means every word he says. 

Overall, The Squeeze is as close to a hole in one as you can get. Very reminiscent of great gambler movies of the past and worthy of being talked about in the same breath.

ARC Entertainment will be releasing THE SQUEEZE on VOD and in-theaters on April 17th. Check it out!

Stars:

3 1/2 out of 5

After Credit Scenes?

No

Trailer: