Review: ‘VAL’ takes a long, complicated look in the mirror.

presents

Val Kilmer, one of Hollywood’s most mercurial actors has been documenting his life and craft through film. He has amassed thousands of hours of footage, from home movies made with his brothers, to time spent in iconic roles for blockbuster films like Top Gun & Batman. This raw and wildly original documentary reveals a life lived to extremes and a heart-filled look at what it means to be an artist.


Let’s start with a confession – I’ll always think of Val Kilmer as my Batman. 1995’s Batman Forever was the first superhero film I ever saw, and that impression was deep and lasting. The car! The suit! Nicole Kidman! That is not to indicate that I am incapable of evaluating Kilmer fairly, but only to say this image of him at the likely mountain-top of his fame has left a lasting impression.

Kilmer’s legacy is evaluated and deepened in Ting Poo and Leo Scott’s new documentary Val (in theaters and streaming on Amazon Prime) which showcases Kilmer’s life, legacy, and his ongoing recovery after a battle with throat cancer. Kilmer’s contribution to the film is quite intimate: the narrative relies heavily on his collection of home videos and memorabilia. The quality and comprehensiveness of these past archives are shocking – there really seemed to be a behind-the-scenes moment for every milestone of his life. We see everything from home movies of Kilmer and his late brother all the way up to behind-the-scenes footage from Top Gun and (yes) Batman Forever. Kilmer’s energy and enthusiasm, tangible even when he’s behind the camera, is the common thread through it all, conveying if nothing else an authentic love for one’s craft.

Due to Kilmer’s condition, his son Jack provides the film’s narration. This is the film’s strongest choice, and it provides nuance and momentum across the entire narrative. It provides special poignance during moments of self-evaluation, such as when Kilmer must decide whether to financially support his father after a costly real estate venture.

VAL, Val Kilmer, 2021. © Amazon Studios /Courtesy Everett Collection

While Val has extensive insight into Kilmer’s personal archives, it is also uninterested in interrogating these vignettes from a critical lens. The film is not positioned as a confessional device. Kilmer’s reputation as a “difficult actor” is hinted at, but never fully challenged or justified. Nor is his deep religious commitment as a Christian Scientist fully explored, along with any influence this may have had in his cancer treatment and journey.

Rather, the thorough picture of the past serves as a mirror to better understand Kilmer’s present. Speaking through a tracheostomy tube, Kilmer’s voice is raspy and thin, and he moves wearily across the screen. We can see the frustration in his face when he has to take a lengthy pause – he has more to say, but his body won’t cooperate. This appears to be Kilmer’s core struggle: he resists defining himself solely by his past work, but his present limitations pull him towards an endless cycle of replaying his greatest hits.

Val reminded me of the 2014 documentary Life Itselfwhich chronicled the legacy of film critic Roger Ebert, as well as his struggles after losing his lower jaw to cancer. Both films showcase subjects whose brilliance and intellect remain sharp, but are otherwise challenged by physical limitations. Both subjects were energetic, frantic collaborators in their respective projects –conveying the urgency of being understood, of seizing the opportunity to fully articulate one’s legacy. While Ebert tragically perished before his film could be completed, Kilmer has the opportunity to carry on. Val left me not only with an appreciation for Kilmer’s complicated journey but also excited to hopefully see him press forward and continue the next chapter.


Steaming now on Prime Video and showing in select theaters


Forty years of never-before-seen footage chronicling the life of Val Kilmer.
Release date: July 23, 2021 (USA)
Directors: Ting Poo, Leo Scott
Distributed by: Amazon Studios
Music composed by: Garth Stevenson
Producers: Val Kilmer, Ting Poo, Leo Scott, Andrew Fried, Jordan Wynn, Brad Koepenick, Dane Lillegard, Ali Alborzi


Review: ‘White Lie’ catches you in the web.

A university student who fakes a cancer diagnosis for the attention and financial gain struggles to maintain her secret.

Sir Walter Scott said it best in his poem “Marmion”, ‘Ohwhat a tangled web we weave,/ When first we practice to deceive!’ The genius of this script is the storytelling structure. Minutes in you understand that our leading lady is caught in a web so large she cannot get out now. The relentless danger he allows herself to be in is astounding. The audience is constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. Now that I have had time to sit on my viewing, I am actually aghast at the pace of the film. It barrels along in its deception and doesn’t let up for a minute. While there is clearly a backstory that predates the present timeline in White Lie,  I found the lack of information all the more intriguing. I was forced to make assumptions thus leading to, perhaps, a completely different take than anyone sitting next to me. Bravo to writers/directors  Yonah Lewis, Calvin Thomas for being bold enough to make such choices.

Kacey Rohl‘s performance as Katie makes the film as enthralling as it is. Her ability to make you loathe her and sympathize with her is uncanny. You understand that the complexity of this role is massive. She absolutely nails it. White Lie will have you uncomfortable from start to finish. It will be impossible to look away even though you’ll feel as entangled in the lies as Katie. It’s quite masterful.

Rock Salt Releasing will release it on various digital streaming platforms on 1/5/2021 (DirecTV, Amazon, InDemand, iTunes, FlixFling, AT&T, Vimeo on Demand, Vudu, Fandango & Google Play).

Here’s how to watch the 20 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

It’s hard to believe there are have been 20 movies since Iron Man started it all in 2008. Crazy, right? Why not revise your favorites? All are available to rent or buy, but here’s where they can also be found with subscriptions:

amazon Prime & hulu & EPIX

  • Iron Man 2 (2010)

FX (FXNOW app with a subscription from your service provider)

Warning: commercials

  • Iron Man 3 (2013)

Syfy (Syfy app with a subscription from your service provider)

Warning: commercials

  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Ant-Man (2015)

STARZ

  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Netflix

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Thor: Ragnorok (2017)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

The rest are Rent or Buy only – find pretty much anywhere you want to rent

  • Iron Man (2008)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  • Thor (2011)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  • The Avengers (2012)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Doctor Strange (2016)

Prefer to see them in order? Of release date, that is. There is debate on the actual chronological order.

  • Iron Man (2008) Rent/Buy only
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008) Rent/Buy only
  • Iron Man 2 (2010) Prime Video, hulu, EPIX
  • Thor (2011) Rent/Buy only
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) Rent/Buy only
  • The Avengers (2012) Rent/Buy only
  • Iron Man 3 (2013) FXNOW (commercials)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013) Rent/Buy only
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) Rent/Buy only
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) Rent/Buy only
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) SyFy (commercials)
  • Ant-Man (2015) SyFy (commercials)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016) Rent/Buy only
  • Doctor Strange (2016) Rent/Buy only
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) Netflix
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) STARZ
  • Thor: Ragnorok (2017) Netflix
  • Black Panther (2018) Netflix
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Netflix
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) Netflix

Review: ‘Agent’… Derek Ting Does It All, In This Action Packed Sci-Fi Flick!

Agent

Now Available on Vimeo, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Xbox, & Playstation

Available on Hulu & Amazon Prime: July 1, 2017

Guest review from Reel Reviews Over Brews

Agent starts out by looking into the life of Jim Yung (Derek Ting). We find that he is trying to adapt to a normal life after returning from service. Jim’s friends, Angela (Marikah Cunningham) and Seth (Eric Keitel) decide they are going to visit Jim and try getting him out of his funk. They bring along Kara (Olivia Hultgren) in hopes to spark a fling. When Seth and Angela arrive, they decide that they are going out into the desert to shoot some high powered guns. The group meets up with a former secret service agent, John (Terrance Christopher Jones), who is their shooting instructor. Upon their day of shooting, the group of friends accidentally awakens something so powerful that they must choose between saving each other or saving the world.

So, we came across the movie Agent in a sort of funny way. We noticed that the movie’s Instagram page (@agentthemovie) was following us. We reached out in hopes to learn more and upon getting to know actor/director/writer, Derek Ting, he sent us a screening. Long story short, here we are!

Now to the review… Agent grabs your attention right away with the characters. They are very real. Jim Yung (Derek Ting) and Angela Porter (Marikah Cunningham) steal the show. It’s hard not to get caught up in their stories. The camera angles were great, although a few minor corrections could have been made, we liked what they did. The setting was a nice fit too. What better spot to feel trapped and deserted than a desert where no one can hear you scream!? Action is what usually holds our attention the best and this film certainly wasn’t lacking. Probably one our our favorite parts about this movie was that it didn’t follow the typical “shoot them in the head to stop them” plot. They had a pretty ingenious spin on that. We can absolutely see Agent being a perfect movie to play on the Syfy channel, but until then, go check it out on any of the viewing platforms we listed above.

PS, in a few days we’ll be following up this review with a Q&A from actor/director/writer, Derek Ting. So keep an eye out!

Reel ROB Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post Credits Scene: Yes

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

Where to watch over 50 movies from the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival – 10 on Netflix!

In preparation for this year’s festival, I took a look back at last year to see where I could watch them. There are currently over 50 movies from the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival that are now available to see either in theaters or at home. There are 10 available on Netflix, 2 on amazon Prime and 11 in theaters. The rest are available to stream. That’s pretty impressive.

There’s one that was bought by Seeso and it’s Pistol Shrimps. It’s fantastic.

Follows the 2015 season of the popular all female basketball team called The Pistol Shrimps – made up of actors, comedians and models in LA. Comic actress Aubrey Plaza, model Melissa Stern and actress/writer Maria Blasucci are part of the ragtag team of trash-talking, hard fouling, wisecracking women who bring a much-needed edge to the game.

Watch in Theaters

Contemporary Color is available in theaters, just not shown on GoWatchIt below for some reason. So get out there!


Watch on amazon Prime

 I never heard a peep about Eddie Murphy in Mr Church, so it’s probably a good, but not great movie. Equals indulges the fantasy too much and doesn’t focus enough on the characters.


Watch on Netflix

I didn’t see Foxcatcher in 2014 and still didn’t see it after it won award after award. Perhaps that’s why I was drawn to the documentary. Team Foxcatcher was compelling, gripping and full of surprises.  Liz raves about the James Franco indie, King Cobra.


And there’s still more! Here’s everything else that’s all available to stream to rent or buy!

Always Shine was especially dark and disturbing. Intense performance by Mackenzie Davis.

3 New Movies You Can Rent Tonight – 3.10.15

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I’ve been dying to see this ever since I missed it at New York Film Festival. Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss and Jonathan Pryce? Not to mention those in the trailer! Quirky to the nth degree, I say, Listen Up Philip!

I have yet to take advantage of my Amazon Prime membership, but I don’t have to pay for it, it’s free for Prime members!


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John Hawkes has not stopped making those tiny gems and he’s brought a whole cast with him this time.

I swear this was on Netflix two days ago, but now I can’t find it.


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Liz reviewed this heart-stopper back in December. It’s from the producers of Headhunters, one of my favorite movies of 2011. (Now on Netflix)