Feature Film Review
A Film Review by Nick W. Nicholson, CNN Houston.
Families can go along for years without ever facing the underlying problems in their relationships. You never really know what type of tragedy, event or simple coincidence will be the catalyst that brings the family together or will make everything fall apart around you. With Treachery, you get a sudden and painfully jostling ride through a family crisis that is anything but predictable. Treachery tells a story from a rather unique Hollywood perspective on two fronts; one, this is a unique story that has never been told before. And two, director Travis Romero has obviously either never heard (or chose to ignore) the old cliché ‘never kick a man when he is down.’ That simple mantra is what allows Treachery to reach out and smack you in the face when you least expect it.
The film captures the controversy between Henry (Michael Biehn) and his estranged son, Nathan (Matthew Ziff). Reunited at a friend’s small wedding party, in a remote cabin, Henry and Nathan have their usual awkward interactions. Nathan, accompanied by his girlfriend Cecilia (Sarah Butler), seeks his father’s approval. Cecilia’s presence only adds to Henry’s discomfort, forcing him to want to leave, but a storm hits, trapping them in the cabin and headed for the worst along with the rest of the group. Henry’s girlfriend Vanessa (Caitlin Keats) is seemingly along for the ride as the only sane one of the bunch. None of them really realize what is truly in store as they are faced with finally facing one another while they are all at their most vulnerable.
Definite kudos are in order for both the casting and the direction of the film. Romero does a great job keeping the energy of the film moving forward, never allowing the pacing of the film to slow to the point of showing where it is headed. The chemistry between the characters is outstanding and Michael Biehn is his usual brilliant self but what really sticks is the chemistry between Biehn and newcomer Matthew Ziff. You get the feeling at times the two are really related and that maybe, well….maybe they simply despise one another. As the tension in the film continues to crescendo, you really see Ziff take on a different persona – something akin to Clark Kent giving way to Superman. As the two central male characters continue to box their way through the film, it was very refreshing to see the newbie in Ziff match the thespian punches of the seasoned veteran in Biehn with such gusto and panache. It is no wonder that Ziff has been named one of Hollywood’s most impressive young up and comers in the industry. When you see this film, you will come away with a better understanding of his dynamic as an actor. And it isn’t just the performances of the male characters that create some buzz. Caitlin Keats provides the no-nonsense stability necessary to keep the film grounded so as not to become cliché. And Sarah Butler goes toe to toe with both Biehn and Ziff showing that she doesn’t have just a pretty face and brilliant brain in her head – she is a damn fine actress, too!
Treachery begins with an emotional standoff and develops in the same manner a bad Thanksgiving dinner could go. Every issue that arises, there isn’t resolution – as that would be too easy. This film just amps up and shifts into a higher gear. Once you think you have it figured out, it takes another twist to another plateau. Not until the back half of the third act does the conflict get examined and dealt with in a rather pointedly abrupt manner.
Director Romero places everything in this film into a rather small crock-pot and sets things in motion at a high setting. There are no cheap shots against the typical dysfunctional family unit. The problems of the people in this movie aren’t caused by anything other than themselves. It’s not often we get characters who face these kinds of challenges on the screen, nor directors who seek them out. Each character is given the dramatic opportunity to look inside themselves in an effort to try and grow from the situation and to simply improve their own characterizations. Some do and others don’t. But I suppose that is simply how life really works, isn’t it?
Starring: Michael Biehn, Matthew Ziff & Sarah Butler
Director: Travis Romero
Company: Blanc-Biehn Productions
Now Showing: Home Entertainment Outlets
MPAA Rating: R
SOMETHING WICKED IS FILMING IN HOUSTON…AGAIN!
Writer and Director James H. Longmore’s latest creation, Mr Knuckbones is out and about filming in the Houston burbs. If you see some strange things taking place in your neighborhood, don’t investigate – best to just leave it be. Longmore’s film is quite eclectic and is sure to freak you out. On her first day working for Child Protective Services, Sara is introduced to her first case; a creepy, eleven-year-old boy named Bobby with an imaginary friend called Mr. Knucklebones. Sara is shocked when Bobby is then fostered by a seemingly unsuitable couple; the brutish, abusive Mr. Taylor and his long-suffering mail-order bride. The placement ends in gruesome tragedy when Mr. and Mrs. Taylor are found dead, quite possibly at the hands of Bobby. Sara wonders if her supervisor knows more about this occurrence than he is giving away, if the placement was a deliberate attempt at retribution on the Taylors, and if Bobby’s imaginary Mr. Knucklebones is perhaps not so imaginary after all. Mr Knucklebones is utilizing an array of local and national talent.
FREE DVD GIVEAWAY
We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy of Here Comes the Devil, Commitment, The Wrath of Vajra, 20 Feet Below: The Darkness Descending, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom or The Wolf of Wall Street, it is really easy! All you have to do is send me an email at HoustonMovieGuy@gmail.com. The subject line of the email should read DVD GIVEAWAY. In the body of the email, be sure to put your name, full mailing address and which DVD or Blu-ray you would like. Winners will be selected by random drawing. Best of luck!
HERE COMES THE DEVIL – Magnet/Magnolia
A couple’s son and daughter inexplicably reappear after being lost overnight on a desolate, cave-riddled mountainside. Becoming withdrawn and beginning to exhibit strange behavior, their parents quickly assume something sinister happened to them. But after hearing an ominous local legend, the concerned mother and father begin to realize that their children may have fallen prey to something inhuman and that this dark, unstoppable evil has now returned home with them.
COMMITMENT – WellGo USA
After his father s botched espionage mission, North Korean Myung-hoon (CHOI Seung-hyun, aka T.O.P) and his young sister Hye-in (HAN Ye-ri) are sent to a labor prison camp. In order to save his sisters life, Myung-hoon volunteers to become a spy and infiltrates the South as a teenage defector. While attending high school in the South, he meets another girl named Hye-in (KIM Yoo-jeong) and rescues her when she is attacked. South Korean Intelligence soon discovers the plot and begins closing in on Myung-hoon, while his own government sends a vicious assassin to eliminate him.
THE WRATH OF VAJRA – WellGo USA
Before the West entered World War II, a Japanese death cult called the Temple of Hades is ordered to aid in the spiritual destruction of China. Their method: abduct their enemies’ children and train them as killers for the Emperor. Young Vajra was especially gifted, but swears a secret oath of revenge when his brother dies. Now the greatest assassin in the temple, Vajra escapes to China and begins his quest to protect the innocent, and destroy the ones responsible for making him a living weapon. A former Shaolin monk, martial arts action star Xing Yu (aka Shi Yanneng) stars as Vajra in his first leading role.
20 FEET BELOW – Vertical Entertainment
Below the streets of New York is a dark and dangerous world hidden in the shadows of abandoned subway tunnels and miles of forgotten infrastructure. When a young documentary filmmaker goes into these tunnels to uncover the unseen stories of the people living below our feet, she finds out that there is more to be afraid of than the dark. A mysterious figure, living beyond the reach of the law, has declared war on the outside world that threatens to tear apart the fragile underground society living in the tunnels and maybe even the city above it.
MANDELA: The Long Walk to Freedom – Anchor Bay
This epic motion picture spans the extraordinary life story of South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela (Golden-Globe winner Idris Elba), spanning over seventy years, from his childhood in a rural village through his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa, including his struggle against apartheid and 27 years in jail.
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET – Paramount
Revered filmmaker Martin Scorsese directs the story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). From the American dream to corporate greed, Belfort goes from penny stocks and righteousness to IPOs and a life of corruption in the late 80s. Excess success and affluence in his early twenties as founder of the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont warranted Belfort the title – “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Money. Power. Women. Drugs. Temptations were for the taking and the threat of authority was irrelevant. For Jordan and his wolf pack, modesty was quickly deemed overrated and more was never enough.
THE PATIENCE STONE – Sony
In a country torn apart by war, a young woman watches over her older husband. A bullet in the neck has reduced him to a comatose state. One day, the woman’s vigil changes. She begins to speak truth to her silent husband, telling him about her suffering, her dreams, and secrets. After years of living under his control, with no voice of her own, she says things she could never have spoken before. Her husband has unconsciously become syngu‚ sabour (THE PATIENCE STONE) – a magical black stone that, according to Persian mythology, absorbs the plight of those who confide in it. The woman’s confessions are extraordinary and without restraint. But after weeks of looking after her husband, she begins to act, discovering herself in the relationship she starts with a young soldier.
ALMOST SHARKPROOF – Cinedigm
Broke, busted, and living in a tent outside their parents backyard. Vince (Cameron Van Hoy) and Freddy (Michael Drayer) hit on the idea of a lifetime, Sharkproof wetsuits, and are determined to strike it rich. They go to a local loan shark, Max (Jon Lovitz) who owns a club in downtown LA to fund the venture. At the club they both fall in love with the same girl, Isabella (Kinga Kierzek) the receiving half of knife throwing duo who are preforming at the club. Yuri (Ken Davitian) is her drunk, knife-throwing partner. When Isabella chooses the boys over Max he sends his goons to reclaim her. Suddenly the boys must become the men they pretend to be, but now it’s sink or swim.
SAVING MR. BANKS – Disney
Saving Mr. Banks is a fascinating look at the circuitous “collaborative” process Walt Disney, his creative team, and author P.L. Travers engaged in in bringing the character Mary Poppins to life on the big screen in the early 1960s. This touching, funny film is really two stories nicely tied up in one appealing package. The first story is of P.L. Travers’s childhood in Australia in the early 1900s. This story starts out idyllically enough, emphasizing her father’s immense love for his children and his uncanny ability to make everything fun and exciting, but it’s one that has a darker side that ends up shaping the adult that Travers eventually becomes. The other story is of the adult P.L. Travers. A proper Englishwoman completely set in her ways, she grudgingly embarks on a trip from England to Los Angeles to discuss the possibility of turning her highly successful book Mary Poppins into a Disney motion picture.
FROZEN – Disney
A sweet, magical film filled with great music, likable characters, and striking effects, Frozen is a fairy tale about overcoming obstacles and the power of true love. Princesses Anna and Elsa are sisters and the closest friends until one day Elsa discovers that she can no longer control her power to create ice and snow. Terrified for the safety of her sister and everyone around her, Elsa isolates herself and vows to never feel any sort of passionate emotion again in hopes of suppressing her powers. But when Elsa comes of age and is set to be crowned queen, she must open the gates of the palace and let in the public, not to mention her sister Anna. Things go horribly wrong and Anna pursues her sister into the mountains in an attempt to save Elsa and reverse the deep freeze that Elsa has inadvertently released on the kingdom of Arendelle.
WWE: TLC 2013 – WWE
The last pay-pear-view on the WWE calendar is also the most heart pounding event of the year. All the top WWE Superstars put their careers on the line to settle personal grudges and attain championship glory. See John Cena, CM Punk, Ryback, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler and more compete in matches that legalize tables, ladders, chairs and in some cases- all three!
WWE: BEST OF RAW SMACKDOWN 2013 – WWE
WWE Superstars deliver 52 weeks of action on Raw and SmackDown per year, with no off-season. This 3 DVD set compiles the most thrilling matches and segments from the year 2013. Witness the epic rivalries, shocking moments, and all the biggest stars that defined the calendar year in WWE.
FRONTLINE: To Catch a Trader
Frontline takes an investigative look into the investment industry and the laws that are still unceremoniously being ignored. The case front and center is that of Steve Cohen from the brokerage firm SAC, who is more well known as the king of the hedge fund. You will be astonished at just how much money was made illegally and just how easy it was to do it. Don’t miss this brilliantly written episode!
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME – Criterion
Stephen Hawking is one of the more brilliant men of our time. Suffering from a debilitating disease that has taken both his voice as well as the use of his limbs, he is still a brilliant astrophysicist that has a keen mind when it comes to the unexplained. Director Errol Morris makes Stephen Hawking the subject in A Brief History of Time. The documentary looks at the sequence of events and the progression of the disease that took over Hawking’s body and how it coincided with the broadening of his imagination and thought process. A veritable who’s who of Hawking’s colleagues come forward to talk about the man they love and admire.
RETURN TO NUKE ‘EM HIGH: Volume One – Anchor Bay
Return to Nuke `Em High Vol. 1, directed by cult movie legend Lloyd Kaufman, is a satirical sci-fi comedy event film with themes ripped straight from today’s headlines: the contamination and degradation of the world’s food supply, rampant bullying, love triumphing over prejudice. Nuke `Em is in the same vein as other classics such as Class of 1984, Rock `n’ Roll High School, and Carrie, but seen through the unique vision of Lloyd Kaufman and the Troma Team. Welcome to Tromaville High School where, unfortunately, the glee club has mutated into a vicious gang of Cretins. Chrissy and Lauren, two innocent bloggers, must fight not only the Cretins, mutants and monsters but also the evil Tromorganic Foodstuffs Conglomerate. Will they save Tromaville High School and the world? Find out in this brand-new, unhinged classic from beloved Troma Films!
KINGDOM OF COMQUERORS – Lionsgate
In the early 13th century, when all the nomadic clans of Mongolia were at war, one man was able to conquer them all and unite them under one banner: his own. Genghis Khan, known for his ruthlessness and barbarism, built an empire that covered nearly all of Asia and cemented his place as one of history’s greatest emperors. Inspired by historical events, witness the rise of the Mongolian Empire.
JUSTIN TIME:Amazing Adventures Season One – Cinedigm
Join Justin and his best pals Olive and Squidgy as they explore the past! Journey to ancient Aztec Mexico in search of the mysterious Missing Mask, ride a giant tortoise on the Galapagos Islands and make a new friend in China who loves to fly kites next to the Great Wall!
THE PAST – Sony
Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) returns to Paris to finalize his divorce so his wife Marie (Berenice Bejo) can marry her new boyfriend, Samir (Tahar Rahim). During his tense stay, Ahmad discovers the conflicting nature of Marie’s relationship with her daughter Lucie (Pauline Burlet). Ahmad’s efforts to improve this relationship soon unveil a secret from their past.
AMERICAN HUSTLE – Sony
A fictional film set in the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals to rock America, American Hustle tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that’s as dangerous as it is enchanting. Jeremy Renner is Carmine Polito, the passionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator caught between the con-artists and Feds. Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down. Like David O. Russell’s previous films, American Hustle defies genre, hinging on raw emotion, and life and death stakes.
REASONABLE DOUBT – Lionsgate
Hot-shot district attorney Mitch Brockdon commits a fatal hit-and-run and feels compelled to throw the case against the accused criminal who’s found with the body and blamed for the crime. Following the trial, Mitch’s worst fears come true when he realizes that he’s acquitted a guilty man, and he soon finds himself on the hunt for the killer before more victims pile up.
KILL YOUR DARLINGS – Sony
When Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) is accepted at Columbia, he finds stuffy tradition clashing with daringly modern ideas and attitudes — embodied by Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan). Lucien is an object of fascination for shy, unsophisticated Allen, and soon he is drawn into Lucien’s hard-drinking, jazz-clubbing circle of friends, including William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), who clearly resents Allen’s position as Lucien’s new sidekick. A true story of friendship, love and murder, Kill Your Darlings recounts the pivotal year that changed Allen Ginsberg’s life forever and provided the spark for him to start his creative revolution.
THE HORROR at 37,000 FEET – CBS Paramount
Fly the not-so-friendly skies in this frightening tale of survival at 37,000 feet! On a flight from London to Los Angeles, a wealthy architect (Roy Thinnes) and his wife (Jane Merrow) have rented out a jumbo jet’s entire cargo hold to transport a precious artifact — an altar from an ancient abbey. But they’re unaware of its deadly secret. Aboard for the ill-fated trip is William Shatner as a drunken, cynical ex-priest; Buddy Ebsen as an arrogant millionaire; and Chuck Connors as the heroic pilot. Not long after departure, crew and passengers alike face airborne jeopardy and supernatural horror as a demonic entity escapes from the altar, seeking to possess a hapless victim as well as seek revenge on those who would desecrate the sinister deity’s ancient ritual site. Fasten your seatbelts . it’s going to be a terrifying flight!
FLASHPOINT: The Final Season – CBS Paramount
Anything can happen in Flashpoint, The Final Season, and Team One of the Strategic Response Unit (SRU) is prepared for just that. This high-risk, one-of-a-kind drama follows the exploits of an elite SWAT team that specializes in resolving extreme situations. Armed and dangerous criminals, bomb threats, abduction and gang wars are all in a day’s work for these expert cops. Lead negotiator, Sgt. Greg Parker (Enrico Colantoni), and his trusted team, Ed (Hugh Dillon), Sam (David Paetkau), and Jules (Amy Jo Johnson) face their darkest hour this season. A serial killer is on the run with a victim in tow, a deadly “smart” gun is stolen, and Ed is forced to kill a teenage girl in the line of duty..But it all comes down to the wire when a terrorist starts bombing the city’s most populated buildings. In the epic conclusion to one of television’s most thrilling dramas, the SRU gives it everything they’ve got to save a city plunged into chaos.
SWERVE – Cohen Media
Driving cross-country to a job interview, Colin opts for a shortcut and happens across a fatal car accident. One of the drivers, the intriguing Jina, is shaken but not hurt while the other lies dead – leaving a suitcase full of money without an owner. Colin resists temptation and hands it into the local cop, wanting to get on his way. But what initially seemed to be a good deed prompts a series of strange events to unfold where nothing is quite what it seems and Colin quickly finds it hard to leave town.
LA TEMPESTAD – Cinedigm
This riveting telenovela follows the story of Marina, whose revelations of her vengeful former boss indiscretions force her to find work in a small fishing village. There she meets Damián, the owner of the fishing boat La Tempestad and they fall in love. But dark clouds quickly gather as jealous and ambitious rivals emerge bent on destroying any hopes they may have had for happiness. Will Damián and Marina be able to weather the storm and find calm waters once again.
CONTRACTED – IFC
After a lapse in her relationship with her lover (Katie Stegeman) forces twenty-something party girl Samantha (Najarra Townsend) to move back in with her overbearing mother (Caroline Williams), things seem to be at an all-time low. But the devil-may-care Samantha soon finds escape in a one-night stand with a mysterious man (Simon Barrett) who leaves her hung-over, guilt-ridden and infected. Uncertain of the disease or the man who gave it to her, Samantha attempts to hide it from her loved ones. But she soon realizes that she is not just the victim of an STD, but rather the host of something much more catastrophic, and that she and those around her are in mortal danger. Part zombie film and part body-horror shocker, director Eric England’s Contracted is a skin-crawling experience in biological horror.
ATLANTIS: Season One – BBC
Washed up on the mysterious shores of Atlantis, Jason (Jack Donnelly) searches for his missing father and stumbles into deadly rituals from fighting the dreaded Minotaur to surviving the temptations of a snake-headed goddess while searching for his missing father. He finds companionship and laughter along the way in his two new friends, studious Pythagoras (Robert Emms) and portly Hercules (Mark Addy). You re in for uproarious edge-of-your seat good times as the indomitable trio brings new life to timeless myths.