May
26

Hour of the Wolf Catch-Up: PADDINGTON

CATCH-UP TUESDAY! Bringing you the Hour of the Wolf review segments that were not posted on their air dates.

Remember Paddington, from this past January? Hey, that was a pretty good film, right? I thought so, too, with a few reservations, and I cover it all in this review, which aired 1/22/15.

May
24

Hour of the Wolf Movie Review: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

Mad_Max_FRD-DS-00668_350Well, here I am, once again hanging alone around the perimeter while the vast majority of critics and fans are having a veritable orgy of delight over Mad Max: Fury Road. Yes it’s a crazy, inventive film. Yes, the action is outsized and breathtaking. And yet my reaction is a resounding, “Meh.” How did it come to this? I’m tempted to level that blame at a delayed onset of anhedonia — the inability to experience pleasure — but I had a green chile cheeseburger at Bobby’s Burger Palace a few days ago and was convinced that there still exists miracles in this universe, so that can’t be it. Listen in on my review for Jim Freund’s Hour of the Wolf as I try to figure this out. Click on the player to hear the review, or right-click the link to download.

May
11

INVASION OF THE STAR CREATURES – Temple of Bad

Invasion_of_the_Star_Creatures_22644_4_350The good often travels along with the bad. The good in this case: Yours truly has made the move to the lovely city of Philadelphia, a process that led to the extended delay of this episode. The bad: the film we’re discussing, of course. The SF-comedy Invasion of the Star Creatures tries to mimic the slapped-together-fast-n-cheap success of Little Shop of Horrors — with Horrors star Jonathan Haze stepping into the role of screenwriter — but pretty much blows everything it attempts, most prominently any attempt at humor (unless you think grievously stereotyped Native Americans and a subterranean rewrite of an old Scooby-Doo chase gag repeated ad nauseum are downright high-larious).

Come join Andrea Lipinski, Kevin Lauderdale, Orenthal V. Hawkins, and myself, Dan Persons, as we explore why, if the alien invasion does come, we’re hoping it’s the face-huggers that get to us first.

NEXT EPISODE: We go into space to endure the terrors, and the bad acting, of Journey to the Seventh Planet.

May
07

Hour of the Wolf Movie Review: AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

They're there because they're there because they're there because they're gonna kick butt. Marvel's mightiest reassemble for AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

They’re there because they’re there because they’re there because they’re gonna kick butt. Marvel’s mightiest reassemble for AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

We’re back! D’ja miss us? There will be several posts forthcoming to catch up on the HotWolf reviews we’ve aired over the past few weeks but haven’t released to the Web. But for now, it makes sense get things restarted with the first big blockbuster of the summer, and maybe — judging by what will be following in the next few months — something we can already call the biggest blockbuster of the summer (because are you really champing at the bit for Terminator: Genisys?). Avengers: Age of Ultron gets the consortium of Marvel superheroes back together to face down a psychotic android hell-bent on (PLOT SPOILER!) worldwide annihilation. Joss Whedon is once again doing the honors as writer/director, but is this next installment a fitting follow-up to the justifiably praised first film? Check out my review by clicking on the player or right-clicking the link to download.

Jan
19

Hour of the Wolf Movie Review: PREDESTINATION

Ethan Hawke warps the time-lines in PREDESTINATION.

Ethan Hawke warps the time-lines in PREDESTINATION.

It’s January Mysteries time! Usually it’s no secret why a film gets given a January release date. The month’s largely a dumping ground, a catch-all for films that, for one reason or another, have been found wanting. But occasionally a film lands in the month that, from all on-screen evidence, should have received better treatment. Hence, the mystery.

Such is the case with PREDESTINATION, a science fiction tale based on Robert Heinlein’s classic, time paradox story, All You Zombies, and starring Ethan Hawke as a time-travelling cop going undercover as a bartender for a crucial recruitment mission. Despite a few narrative bumps — including a not-all-that necessary b-plot about a mad bomber — the film, directed by the twin Spierig Brothers, is handsomely mounted and nicely told. So what got the film shunted to the armpit of the release year? More, why didn’t anyone think it deserved better than the handful of theaters it was released to? I cannot explain, but I can tell you why I think the distributors in this case were wrong-wrong-wrongedy-wrong, and I do in my latest review for Jim Freund’s HOUR OF THE WOLF. Click on the player to hear the segment, or right-click the link to download.

Jan
09

Hour of the Wolf Movie Review: INTO THE WOODS

Atmosphere doesn't completely make up for a filmic outlook in INTO THE WOODS, but it helps lots.

Atmosphere doesn’t completely make up for a filmic outlook in INTO THE WOODS, but it helps lots.

Loyalty. It’s a quality much to be desired, in how we treat our loved ones, the way we deal with our co-workers, in how those entrusted with the public welfare respect their responsibilities (we’re looking at you, Congress). And there’s a lot to be said for loyalty when it comes to adapting a film from another source, be it a novel, a play, or a musical. But it can be impediment as well, especially when loyalty to the original material gets in the way of letting a filmmaker do what the medium is best suited for.

All told, Rob Marshall’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s INTO THE WOODS is a beautiful, smart, and engaging experience, occasionally marred by a decision to adhere to what played on the stage as opposed to what might work on-screen. I explore the issue in my review for Jim Freund’s HOUR OF THE WOLF. Click on the player to hear the segment, or right-click the link to download.

 

Dec
26

Hour of the Wolf Movie Review: THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES & SONG OF THE SEA

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

We haven’t actually clocked it, but it does seem there’s as much of this guy in THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES as there is actual hobbit.

There’s a bit of OCD that goes along with genre film fandom — once you’ve signed on to a franchise, you’re kind-of obligated to follow it wherever it will take you, for good or ill. Thus the sullen air hanging over screenings of REVENGE OF THE SITH or any of the Wolverine spin-offs — it really does sap the energy out of an auditorium when attendance is more dutiful than enthusiastic.

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMS is the final installment of Peter Jackson’s latest J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy, and to say it’s long-awaited is to say that fans of fantasy have been eager to get this bloated, unnecessary epic over with and move on to better things. I give my thoughts on how Jackson wraps up this prequel tale in my review for Jim Freund’s HOUR OF THE WOLF, and also give my verdict on the much more engaging, Irish animated fantasy, SONG OF THE SEA. Click on the player to hear the segment, or right-click the link to download.

Dec
15

Hour of the Wolf Movie Review: THE BEAST & IMMORAL TALES

The Beast (1975)

No! Bad dog! Very, VERY bad dog! Heel! Heel! He… Uhhhn… Ohhhh… G-good… doggy?

Kirk Cameron can kid himself, but these are the films that will truly save Christmas. Just in time to provide a respite for anyone sick of all that Holly-Jolly, IFC is releasing a pair of notorious erotic classics to the cinema. Walerian Borowczyk’s THE BEAST and IMMORAL TALES had their original debuts in the ’70’s, both films reveling in a then-new-found freedom to explore aspects of sexuality previously considered taboo — in the case of the titles at hand, that includes sacrilege, incest, and bestiality (there, satisfied?). Some of that scandalous power remains, some has faded, but as my review for Jim Freund’s HOUR OF THE WOLF reveals, both films remain intriguing exposés of the lengths to which unbridled human passion will go… and are likely to make you feel a little funny in the pants. Click on the player to hear the segment, or right-click the link to download.

Dec
13

Hour of the Wolf Movie Review: THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

Annnnd, action! I said, action! Jennifer, the camera’s rolling now, you can start acting. Oh? Uh, okay then. Just… go on, I guess.

Usually, when you play “Whatever Happened To…?” it’s with some washed-up celebrity. You track the downward career spiral of a Max Baer Jr, a Johnny Whittaker, a Kim Kardashian (not yet, but one day, one day), and get a concentrated lesson in the impermanence of fame. Interesting thing, though: You can play the game with fictional characters as well, and learn something about corporate decision making in the modern-day film industry. Take, for instance, Katniss Everdeen, the smart, courageous protagonist of THE HUNGER GAMES franchise. Whatever happened to her? Well, short answer: According to THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1, nothing good. The longer answer is in my review for Jim Freund’s HOUR OF THE WOLF, and can be heard by clicking on the player.

Nov
20

Hour of the Wolf Movie Review: THE KING AND THE MOCKINGBIRD

An animated classic thirty years in the making gets its US debut in THE KING AND THE MOCKINGBIRD.

An animated classic thirty years in the making gets its US debut in THE KING AND THE MOCKINGBIRD.

If you’ve been going through the vast collection of films that have lapsed into the pubic domain — and you probably have, because who can afford entertainment otherwise? — you’ve likely stumbled upon an animated feature called, The Curious Adventures of Mr. Wonderbird, a strange little thing with voices by such luminaries as Peter Ustinov, Claire Bloom, and Denholm Elliott. Whether you watched it all the way through or just paused long enough to think, Huhn, what’s this all about?, it turns out that the film, which has been knocking around since the 1950’s, is just the tip of a visionary iceberg that was taken away from its creators, the director Paul Grimaut and the poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert, and released unfinished without their permission. It took some thirty years to complete the project, and another thirty-odd years for it to get its U.S. release. Now, under the title The King and the Mockingbird, the film is making its way into theaters this Friday, and kid, it was well worth the wait. I go a bit into the film’s history and why this fractured fairy tale deserves its place among the ranks of animation classics in my review for Jim Freund’s Hour of the Wolf. Plus: My thoughts on the Studio Ghibli documentary, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness. Click on the player to hear the segment.

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