Review: ‘Queen of the Desert’… More Like, Queen of the Deserted

Queen of the Desert

Theatrical release date: April 7, 2017

VOD (Video On Demand) release date: April 14, 2017

Guest review from Reel Reviews Over Brews

Queen of the Desert starring Nicole Kidman, is the true story behind Gertrude Bell, an English writer and traveler, among many other titles. She explored, mapped, and formed strong relationships with leaders of the Middle East. Her accomplishments lead her to become highly influential to British imperial policy-making. Bell was very trusted and given a tremendous amount of power by the British, for a woman at the time. Reading even a little bit about Gertrude Bell’s life, will open your eyes to just how incredible this woman’s accomplishments are… let alone for a woman in the early 1900’s! With the help from T. E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia (Robert Pattinson), she gave support to the Hashemite dynasties, in what is known as Jordan and Iraq today.

Sadly, this movie boiled down to Bell (Nicole Kidman) dealing with the heartbreak of the men she fell for, British Officer Henry Cadogan (James Franco) and Lieutenant Colonel Charles “Richard” Doughty-Wylie (Damian Lewis).

Kidman did her best to keep Bell memorable throughout and was the main reason this movie didn’t sink further. Director Werner Herzog did a great job mesmerizing us with the panoramic shots of the desert and all of its beauty, but that was about it. Herzog had poor transitions throughout the movie, which certainly made things more difficult to follow than they could have been. The exploration portion of the movie felt empty as it seemed to just have her wandering around in the sand. The movie should have focused more on what the final 20 minutes were about, rather than the pointless relationships she made with the men she fell for. Gertrude Bell is an influential and powerful role model for women everywhere and deserved a better told story. In the end, we felt deserted from what could have been a great movie…

Reel ROB Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Post Credits Scene: No

We want to thank our friends at Reel News Daily for allowing us to do this guest review for them!

Review: Werner Herzog’s ‘SALT AND FIRE’ leaves a bitter taste.

SALT AND FIRE

World Premiere – Shanghai Film Festival 2016

North American Premiere – Toronto International Film Festival 2016

Official Competition – Dubai International Film Festival 2016

Official Competition – Glasgow Film Festival 2017

SALT AND FIRE is about a mysterious hostage-taking where the leader of a small scientific delegation is deliberately stranded with two blind boys in an area of gigantic salt flats. Shot in Bolivia, the film stars Michael Shannon, Veronica Ferres, and Gael García Bernal and was written and directed by Werner Herzog.

I have to be honest. I had extremely high hopes for Salt and Fire based on Werner Herzog‘s direction and the star studded cast of Michael Shannon, Veronica Ferres, and Gael Garcia Bernal. Boy, oh boy, was I disappointed. Filled over the brim with overly philosophical quotes and MIA cast members, I struggled to even finish the film.  The disjointed feeling of the plot and the hyper theatrical dialogue delivery in the first half of the film are pretty brutal. Michael Shannon, however, gives another sterling performance especially considering what he’s been given to work with. The ending, the final 10 minutes of the film, is so syrupy I sort of just sat there with my mouth open. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe, somehow, the film is over my head. At this point, I just can’t tell. By all means, be your own judge. You can find the trailer below:

TITLE:  SALT AND FIRE
IN THEATERS: April 7, 2017
AVAILABLE ON VOD AND iTUNES: April 4, 2017
DIRECTOR: Werner Herzog
WRITER: Werner Herzog, based on the story “Aral” by Tom Bissell
CAST: Michael Shannon, Gael García Bernal, and Veronica Ferres
SYNOPSIS: SALT AND FIRE is about a mysterious hostage-taking where the leader of a small scientific delegation is deliberately stranded with two blind boys in an area of gigantic salt flats. Shot in Bolivia, the film stars Michael Shannon, Veronica Ferres, and Gael García Bernal and was written and directed by Werner Herzog.
GENRE: Thriller
DISTRIBUTOR: XLrator Media

Review: Nicolas Cage & Willem Dafoe in the vibrant & violent ‘Dog Eat Dog’ from Paul Schrader, writer of ‘Taxi Driver’

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After it’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Dog Eat Dog, a bright, vibrant, loud, violent and silly crime caper is set for theaters in New York and Los Angeles November 4th, but available to stream as well!

Dog Eat Dog will be on VOD on all of the major cable/satellite/telco companies – Comcast, DirecTV, Dish, AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner/Spectrum, Charter, etc.

Check out the trailer to get a taste of what you’ll get:

Ex-cons, Troy (Nicolas Cage), Mad Dog (Willem Dafoe) and Diesel (Christopher Matthew Cook), are hired by an eccentric mob boss to kidnap a baby and hold it for a large ransom. When the abduction goes awry, the men find themselves on the run from the mob and the cops. Vowing to stay out of prison at all costs, getting away with the crime is a matter of life and death.

The stage is set from the very first scene of contrasting neon pink and blue, ending the only way it could. That same cinematography and style is carried throughout the rest of the film. Everything keeps moving just fast enough to keep you wanting to know what is coming next. The first two acts are backstory and although it’s not really “necessary” to the story, it’s really fun.

Nicolas Cage is no stranger to eccentric characters and was originally cast to be Willem Dafoe‘s character of Mad Dog. Instead, Nicolas Cage plays the straight man to the outlandish and unpredictable Mad Dog. Teaming up with Diesel (Christopher Matthew Cook), the three move from one mischievous act to another making for non-stop entertainment.

I liken the vibe of this film to Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, from 2009 from Werner Herzog starring Nicolas Cage. It’s only available to rent or buy, but totally worth it. It’s rough, violent, but so much character that it balances it all out.

Paul Schrader (who also plays a role) directs the screenplay by Matthew Wilder who adapted the novel by Edward Bunker. It’s non-stop entertainment but very violent and full of highly graphic language.

 

Jeremy’s Review – Dena Seidel’s Fantastic Antarctic Edge: 70° South Is Yet Another in a Series of Wake-Up Calls About Climate Change

antarctic_posterWhile it still absolutely amazes me that anyone can refute or deny that climate change is happening and changing the complexion of our planet, it doesn’t hurt to have as much ammunition to use to back it all up. Director Dena Seidel‘s Antarctic Edge: 70° South is in depth look at one of many projects scientists are undertaking to measure the damage being done to Antarctica and thus to the Earth.

antarctic edge 1

The film follows a group of scientists on their yearly sojourn to the western peninsula of Antarctica to conduct a series of tests covering everything from the amount of ice melt to the amount of krill in the water to the Adelie penguin populations and whether they are flourishing or not. And what is stressed is that Antarctica basically sets the tone for the weather on Earth. Because of the currents that swirl around it and push water throughout the planet, its health is of ultimate importance. As the Antarctic ice/snow melt, not only does the surface area that reflects sun/heat back into the atmosphere get smaller, but the water temperature rises allowing for massive storms like Hurricane Sandy to form as well as cut the ocean’s ability to trap carbon, which is phytoplankton use for photosynthesis to grow who, in turn, serve as food for krill who are likewise eaten by whales and penguins. Whew. So needless to say, this complicated series of events taking place in Antarctica effect the entire planet.

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Where Seidel really excels is presenting this complex information in a way that is comsumable for an average, non-science savvy viewer. The scientists, from the ornithologists studying the penguins to those studying the amount of carbon in krill urine, to the crew on the ship carrying these folks, are all incredibly charismatic and relatable. Without this, the material being presented might better be suited for a TedTalk than a documentary. This is a film that teaches as it unfolds, which is key. There has been several other Antarctica-focused films that have come out in the last few years, chief among them are Werner Herzog‘s Encounters at the End of the World and Anthony Powell‘s Antarctica: A Year on the Ice (read my review here), but none of them tackle this particular aspect of the Antarctic story. This film fills a unique space in the lore of the least populated continent on the planet and that brings the challenges that not only the continent faces but the Earth does to the forefront. And while there are many lasting images and warnings in the film, perhaps the most moving is by Philippines Climate Commissioner Naderev Sano, whose testimony at the very outset of the film highlighting what Super Typhoon Haiyan did to his country (as well as many other climate-related events) and the need for action. While I can’t find the specific clip in the film, this one covers some of the same pleas he makes.

antarctic edge 5

At 72 minutes, this film won’t hit you over the head with the information it presents. While the message the film contains is somewhat dire, it still has tinges of hope. What needs to be done to reverse climate change rests on the shoulders of the humans inhabiting the planet. Hopefully this film will add to the voices yelling in favor of action. I really enjoyed this film and I hope many more do as well.

Antarctic Edge: 70° South opens today at Quad Cinema in New York City. Here is a list of other upcoming screenings.

Here’s the trailer:

Jeremy’s Review: Anthony Powell’s ‘Antarctica: A Year on Ice’ Gives Us a First Person View at Life During Winter on the Loneliest Continent

antarctica_a_year_on_ice posterI have always found Antarctica to be a profoundly interesting place. From the fact that it (or the Atacama Desert in Perru, depending on the source) has the driest place on earth (the Dry Valleys), that it’s the home of five breeding species of penguins or that it has just two season, winter and summer in which winter has 24 hours of dark for 6 straight months and summer has 24 hours of daylight for the other six months. Couple that with the harshest landscape and weather on earth, one might ask why in the hell does anyone ever go there. That’s precisely what Anthony Powell does in his fantastic documentary Antarctica: A Year on Ice. Read More →

New Film Series: ‘WE THE ECONOMY 20 Short Films You Can’t Afford to Miss’

Patton Oswalt in a short film coming to WE THE ECONOMY by Ramin Bahrani.

Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions and Morgan Spurlock’s Cinelan

Announce Full Cast of Actors, Artists and Economic Experts to Appear in

WE THE ECONOMY 20 Short Films You Can’t Afford to Miss Read More →