Tag Archive | Movie Review

Must See DVD: The Punk Singer

The Punk Singer DVD Cover
Image Source

Confession: After hearing the names Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill and Riot Grrrl off and on for two decades, I really didn’t know anything about Hanna, her music or the highly influential feminist movement she co-founded until I watched Director Sini Anderson’s excellent documentary, The Punk Singer: A Film About Kathleen Hanna, on DVD last night. In fact, I admit that for many years I had confused Kathleen Hanna with Kristen Hersh of Throwing Muses, which is just embarrassing.

So, I guess it’s extremely high praise for Kathleen Hanna, for being so doggedly determined and fiercely talented and also a thoroughly compelling human being – as well as Anderson, for coaxing her somewhat reluctant subject into revealing her life story with such profound intimacy – that I was completely engaged in The Punk Singer from the first few minutes. I mean, wow, this film is amazing!

If you are already a fan of Kathleen Hanna then you don’t need me to tell you about how Hanna and her band mates in Bikini Kill championed woman in rock like nobody’s business, performing songs about subjects that made people uncomfortable but that stayed true to Hanna’s vision of inspiring positive change. Scenes of Hanna performing on stage in The Punk Singer reminded me of a cross between the late Poly Styrene and Henry Rollins. Punk Rock!

There’s also an astounding amount of quality archival footage used in this film which will take you back in time to the beginnings of the Riot Grrrl movement as well as a time when Hanna was best friends with another rebel outsider, Kurt Cobain. I’m sure Kathleen Hanna could not have foreseen what would arrive in the wake if her casually scribbling the phrase “Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit” on Cobain’s apartment wall. That is a story that takes too long to talk about.

Former band mates and friends of Hanna including Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney, Joan Jett, Kim Gordon and Hanna’s husband Adam Horowitz of The Beastie Boys help to color the film’s rich narrative with their stories about what made Hanna a special, unstoppable force in music. But The Punk Singer isn’t just a music documentary; it is a true life story and a film that will draw you in as much as other personal musical journeys such as Jobriath AD, Nothing Can Hurt Me and Searching For Sugarman. I cannot recommend this film highly enough.

The Punk Singer is available for purchase at Amazon.com and for rental and streaming through Netflix, where it has racked up a ton of well-deserved 5 Star Reviews.

The Worley Gig Gives The Punk Singer Five Out of Five Stars

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Reccommended Viewing: Escape From Tomorrow

Escape From Tomorrow Poster

Do you like Disneyland? I sure do. I’ve been going to Disney parks since I was practically an egg, and I never, ever get tired of it. I was there two summers ago with my older sister and we had so much fucking fun, our heads almost exploded. Disneyland Rules! It is largely due to my obsession with Disneyland (or DisneyWorld, whatever) that I’m very excited to tell you about an independent film I just saw called Escape From Tomorrow which was filmed Guerrilla-style almost entirely on location at Disneyland and Disneyworld! Holy shit! How did that even happen?

Now, when you have been to Disneyland as many times as I have, you KNOW that they have plain-clothes spies all over the park watching you and just waiting for you to do something that could be perceived as a mild threat to the status quo — or “Un-Disney” — so that they can scold you, or worse, kick your ass out of the park. I have been approached by The Secret Disney Police twice in my life — once for wearing a red bandana on my head during my adolescent Punk Rock phase (Read: Wearing Gang Colors), and once for sitting on the back of the boat during the Pirates of the Caribbean ride to make it scarier (don’t ask) — and both times the experience was appropriately surreal, but considerably less than fun. My point is, when you are at Disneyland, you are “Under the Dome,” so to speak, and your every move is most likely being watched. This type of close surveillance and strict adherence to rules is why, in 50 years of operation, there have only been, say, a dozen or so murders or deaths at Disney parks. Those are good odds! But “Bad Things Happen Everywhere,” as the Movie Poster Tells us.

The plot of Escape from Tomorrow does not matter. You can read about the plot here. The plot is just a loose facilitator for what does matter, which is that the film’s writer/director, Randy Moore was able to film a fucking movie inside the rides at two different Disney parks and get away with it! If there were an Academy Award category for “Biggest Set of Balls,” the Oscar would go to Randy Moore! This movie is amazing! If you love the art of Independent film making, and/or Disneyland, you need to see it.  Just read the Wikipedia Entry first so you know what you’re getting yourself into.

The Worley Gig Gives Escape From Tomorrow Four and 1/2 out of Five Stars!

Escape From Tomorrow is currently showing at the IFC Center on Sixth Avenue and 4th Street in Greenwich Village, NYC, and I believe it is also available On Demand from certain Cable Channels. Consult The Google for Showtimes and to find where it is playing near you!

Escape From Tomorrow Marquee
Photo By Gail

Recommended Viewing: My Father and The Man in Black

Saul with Johnny and June
Saul Holiff with Johnny Cash and June Carter (All Images Courtesy of Johnny and Saul)

When Saul HoliffJohnny Cash’s one-time manager – committed suicide in 2005, he did so without leaving a note for his family. For Holiff’s eldest son, Jonathan, that meant he’d never get the chance to resolve the enigma of the man who had been an aloof, antagonistic and emotionally distant authority figure his entire life. But Jonathan got a second chance to “know” his father when requests for memorabilia received from Johnny Cash fans lead to the discovery of a secret storage unit that he elder Holiff had kept for most of his life. What happened in the wake of that discovery provided a revelation on many levels.

Saul Storage Locker
Saul Holiff’s Storage Unit

Saul Holiff’s storage unit was preserved as a true time capsule of his life and career managing Johnny Cash – a position he held from 1960 to 1973 – as well as his close friendships with Johnny and his wife June Carter, and his strained family life with Jonathan and his younger brother Joshua. Packed wall-to-wall with filing boxes stuffed with meticulously-kept written documentation, personal letters, photographs, print articles, telegrams, memorabilia and – what surely must have been a mind-blowing discovery for his son – audio tapes that included both Saul’s recorded phone conversations with Cash and others, as well as Saul’s insightful, deeply personal audio diaries.

Realizing he has discovered not only his father’s hidden life story, but also a treasure of Behind the Music-style grit on Johnny Cash that wasn’t even addressed in the Oscar-winning Biopic, Walk The Line, Jonathan Holiff began painstakingly creating this fascinating documentary with a very unique insider’s viewpoint.

Jonathan and Johnny
Jonathan as a Child with Johnny Cash

Although an ultimate goal of seeing this project through to completion was achieving closure for himself regarding his troubled relationship with his Dad, Holiff also succeeds in producing an fascinating and authentic snap shot of American life in the ‘60s and ‘70s (such a great time to be alive!), an insider’s look at the music business of those decades and a terrific “dark side” companion piece to any Johnny Cash Biography.

While it must have been excruciating for Jonathan Holiff to have to hear his (obviously emotionally stunted) father confess in one recorded entry that he was basically incapable of feeling any love for him or his brother, perhaps that also allowed him to achieve a sense of compassion that transcends mere forgiveness. At the end of the day, My Father and The Man in Black goes easy on the pathos to become simply great storytelling, adding an additional human-interest angle to an entertainment industry tale that any film or music fan can engage with. Highly recommended!

My Father and The Man in Black Opens in New York City and Los Angeles on Friday, September 6th, 2013.

The Worley Gig Gives My Father and The Man in Black 4 Out of 5 Stars!

DVD Review: Darnell Dawkins, Mouth Guitar Legend

Darnell Dawkins DVD Cover
Ross Patterson Stars As Darnell Dawkins

If the cast of Saturday Night Live set out to make a feature-length skit that aspired to be the This is Spinal Tap of the Woodstock generation, they might come up with something similar to Darnell Dawkins: Mouth Guitar Legend. This fairly clever and rather historically accurate (as satires go) ultra-indie Mocumentary traces the remarkable story of “mouth-guitar” legend Darnell Dawkins (played by Ross Patterson, who also wrote the script).

The story goes that Dawkins was a childhood friend of Jimi Hendrix (played by comedian R. Ernie Silva), who ended up filling in for the legendary guitarist at Woodstock after Hendrix missed his flight. Sadly, Dawkins’ disapproving father suppressed much of the filmed footage of Darnell’s performance career from public release – until now. The confusing thing is that, while Dawkins is described as a “Mouth Guitar” legend, he does not actually play the instrument with his mouth (as Hendrix famously did) but, rather, he made the sounds of the guitar with his mouth. So, no guitar playing is actually involved, and “mouth guitar” is somewhat like air guitar, in a way. While it’s probably funnier to not be entirely clear on this until you see the film, I think I am okay with this degree of a spoiler, since it’s easy to figure out pretty early on, and it makes the film’s tagline, “He only spoke with his mouth” seem worth a few extra laughs.

Considering the slim budget on which the film appears to have been made, the filmmakers pulled together a cast with a remarkable number of recognizable faces, including Ray Wise (Laura Palmer’s Dad from Twin Peaks) as Darnell’s Dad, Christine Lakin as Wilhemina, Darnell’s muse, William R. Mapother (Lost, who is also Tom Cruise’s Cousin!), Michael Raymond-James (Rene from True Blood), Curtis Armstrong (Booger from Revenge of The Nerds) and Veteran B Movie Actor Richard Riehle.

Darnell Dawkins Jimi Hendrix
Darnell Dawkins with Jimi Hendrix

Darnell Dawkins: Mouth Guitar Legend, which could be compared to a bare bones budget version Walk Hard, is not a genius film or anything, but it’s pretty funny (funnier than Walk Hard, to be honest) and especially endearing if you’ve seen the Woodstock concert film and know your stuff when it comes to classic sixties acts such as Hendrix, The Jefferson Airplane and other bands of that time. It’s a film that would be fun to watch with a small group of like-minded friends at a house party where you are perhaps drinking and smoking a bit too much and just want to be silly. I enjoyed it.

The disc can be purchased for under $12 on Amazon.com and it’s worth that price just to have it around the house so you can whip it out when your friends who like this kind of film are over and say, “Hey, check out this crazy thing!” Also there’s lots of nudity (read: naked chicks) in it, if that’s something that interests you. Run Time: 87 Minutes.

The Worley Gig Gives Darnell Dawkins: Mouth Guitar Legend 3 out of 5 Stars

Recommended Viewing: This Is The End

This is the End Poster

Hey what’s up. Remember that movie from last year, The Cabin In The Woods? That was awesome, right? Everybody saw it. But like The Crying Game, the thing about that movie was there were so many crazy plot twists it was really best to go in without knowing anything about the movie at all. Such is the case with this new film, This Is The End, which I saw at a screening last night. Walking into the theater, all I knew about it was that I recognized a bunch of actors on the poster from various Judd Apatow movies. And I’m telling you, that is all you need to know.

This movie is extremely hilarious despite a not insubstantial amount of gross out humor, and the plot is completely original. So, I really don’t want to tell you anything about it, because I want you to be surprised! But here’s what I will say: This Is The End is about a bunch of actors (all playing themselves) who are friends in “Real Life,” being trapped inside James Franco’s Hollywood home when the Apocalypse arrives during one of Franco’s debauched house parties. What a great location to experience the End Of Days!

It’s funny that just a couple of days ago I was talking shit on FaceBook about what a douche James Franco is, mostly for being a pretentious doofus who has helped to ruin the reputation of all Contemporary Art by selling bags of air, or whatever ridiculous thing it is he does in the name of Art. Please give me a break. Despite the fact that he was really cute in the first Spiderman movie, and also Pineapple Express, and that movie where he plays the guy who has to cut off his own arm to escape from being trapped between two rocks, that looks pretty good, but other than that, he kind of skeevs me out.

This Is The End stars Seth Rogan, Jay Baruchel (you will recognize him when you seen him), Danny McBride, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and of course James Franco, plus there are cameos by every single famous person on the planet, including Rihanna (barf), who mercifully is killed off early in the film. The best cameo is by Michael Cera, who is the butt of a running joke during his brief appearance about what a cocaine fiend / sex addict he is. Hilarious! Anyway, go see this movie, because if you don’t mind a bit of projectile vomiting and incessant jizz jokes, you’ll laugh your ass off.  This Is The End opens in U.S. theaters on June 12th.

The Worley Gig gives This Is The End 4 Out of 5 Stars!

Top Ten Reasons Why The Hangover Part III Is Not As Horrible as You Might Expect

Hangover 3 Movie Poster

10. Knowing there won’t be a Hangover 4.

9. That Big House in Mexico with the Infinity Pool: I want to live there.

8. Danzig’s “Mother 93” on the soundtrack. Appropriate.

7. “Cut the Grey Wire.”

6. Two Words: Pig Masks.

5. Giraffe Scene, Pre-decapitation.

4. Coke-fueled orgy in a hotel suite sound tracked by Black Sabbath: Yes.

3. “Because of the Ink…that went inside you.”

2. Melissa McCarthy as Cassie the Pawn Shop employee. Priceless.

1. Bradley Cooper: Gorgeous for Days.

Must See Concert Film: Paul McCartney and Wings ROCKSHOW

Paul McCartney Rock Show Poster

If there was ever a pop star born with a more sizeable share of outrageous talent than most mere mortals, it is Paul McCartney. Not only is he among the most celebrated and successful song writers in the world, an innovative bass player who also plays the drums, piano and guitar equally well, a charismatic public figure and one of the best looking men on the planet (seriously, in his 20s and 30s, especially, McCartney could hold a close up for days) but he was a member of The fucking Beatles – the greatest band ever in the Universe of All Time. And the craziest thing about Paul McCartney’s many-decades long career is that he has made everything he does look easy. That, my friend, is the mark of a truly gifted and legendary artist.

Paul McCartney still tours, and if he happens to be playing in your city and you have $500 burning a hole in your pocket, you can buy a ticket to go see him. If that price seems a little out of your range, you might consider buying a ticket to see ROCKSHOW, a 1980 concert film by McCartney and his then-band Wings, which is coming to theaters Worldwide on May 15th, and here in the States starting May 16th. That would be a lot cheaper and you’ll probably get better seats! Filmed during the North American leg of the band’s 1976 Wings Over The World Tour, the two-hour plus length film features 30 songs from four concerts of the tour: New York, May 25 (four songs); Seattle, June 10 (five songs); Los Angeles, June 22 (15 songs); and Los Angeles, June 23 (six songs). This tour also spawned the triple live album, Wings Over America.

Although I am as crazy for the music of The Beatles today as I was at age five, when I first discovered the soundtrack of the film HELP! thanks to my older sister, Wings was never a band that yanked my chain all that much. I was probably listening to Alice Cooper and a lot of German Prog Rock at that time, so, I was surprised at the intense waves of deep nostalgia that washed over me as I sat rapt for two hours watching ROCKSHOW on my iMac so I could write this review. Little did I know then that, nearly forty years onward, Wings’ songs would sound like the Classical music of its time! The set list for ROCKSHOW is comprised of tracks from the albums Red Rose Speedway, Band on the Run, Venus and Mars and Wings at the Speed of Sound and some of McCartney’s early solo work, while being favorably augmented by many Beatles’ classics. What a great concert experience this film serves up!

Paul McCartney Rock Show Bass

Paul McCartney & Wings included McCartney’s wife and muse, keyboardist Linda McCartney (RIP), drummer Joe English, guitarists Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch (RIP) plus a four piece horn section. Demonstrating that wings was as egalitarian a band as any fronted by a former Beatle, Paul frequently hands over lead vocal duties to Laine and McCulloch, beginning early in the set with “Spirits of Ancient Egypt” and “Medicine Jar,” respectively. Laine also reprises his lead vocal performance of The Moody Blues’ early #1 hit, “Go Now” and shows himself to be a remarkably charismatic front man on the urgent and compelling “Time To Hide.” Although the cameras can tend to linger on McCartney’s ridiculously handsome visage for endless minutes at a time (not complaining), everyone in the group is represented, reinforcing the fact that Wings was a true “band of brothers,” so to speak and not just a group of hired musicians supporting McCartney as a solo act.

Paul McCartney Rock Show Acoustic Set
Left to Right: Jimmy McCulloch, Denny Laine, Linda and Paul

Paul can rock out with his bass like the great front man that he is, but some of my favorite moments in the film are when he’s behind the piano for songs like “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “The Long & Winding Road” and the jaunty “You Gave Me The Answer,” which McCartney dedicates to Fred Astaire. Not quite midway through the show, the band pull up chairs at the front of the stage for an extended acoustic set featuring “Picasso’s Last Words,” a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Richard Cory,” a stunning rendition of “Bluebird” and a fun, uber-countrified version of “I’ve Just Seen a Face” (from the US release of The Beatles’ Rubber Soul album). But it’s on McCartney’s solo acoustic performance of “Blackbird” where the dark sensibilities that John Lennon helped to infuse into McCartney’s songcraft can really be heard. Moments like these are extremely bitter sweet.

I liked that, even though this was a BIG ROCK SHOW, they didn’t need to rely on explosions or shit flying through the air to make a memorable impression. McCartney and his band let the music do the talking and it never fails to be less than completely magical. The size of the stage – as well as the size of the venue – reveals that this was a huge production, but the show is refreshingly easy on the Las Vegas-style lighting effects, save for a spot strobe used to great effect during the horn sections of “Live and Let Die,” and a smoke and laser effect that makes it look as if the band is performing in outer space during the final number, “Soily.”

ROCKSHOW is a do not miss film for any fan of The Beatles, Paul McCartney or 70s Rock. The film will be shown in over 700 cities worldwide, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cape Town, Sydney, Rome, Warsaw, Bucharest, Prague, Hamburg, San Paolo, Rio DeJaneiro, Buenos Aires, and many other cities across the U.S., Mexico, Asia, Europe and South America. These special theatrical presentations will include a bonus 12-minute interview with McCartney. Tickets for ROCKSHOW are available at participating theater box offices and online at Rock Show On Screen Dot Com, where you can also look for a screening in your area. Running time is 141 minutes. ROCKSHOW will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 11th, 2013.

SET LIST

1.-3. “Venus And Mars”/“RockShow”/ “Jet”
4. “Let Me Roll It”
5. “Spirits Of Ancient Egypt”
6. “Medicine Jar”
7. “Maybe I’m Amazed”
8. “Call Me Back Again”
9. “Lady Madonna”
10. “The Long And Winding Road”
11. “Live And Let Die”
12. “Picasso’s Last Words”
13. “Richard Cory”
14. “Bluebird”
15. “I’ve Just Seen A Face”
16. “Blackbird”
17. “Yesterday”
18. ”You Gave Me The Answer”
19. “Magneto And Titanium Man”
20. “Go Now”
21. “My Love”
22. “Listen To What The Man Said”
23. “Let ‘Em In”
24. “Time To Hide”
25. “Silly Love Songs”
26. “Beware My Love”
27. “Letting Go”
28. “Band on the Run”
29. “Hi, Hi, Hi”
30. “Soily”

Recommended Viewing: Big Star, Nothing Can Hurt Me

Big Star Barn By Carole Manning
Big Star: L to R Alex Chilton, Jody Stephens, Chris Bell (Seated) and Andy Hummel (Photographed By the Late Carole Manning)

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with musician Alex Chilton, but if you’ve heard The Replacements’ song by that same name, then you at least know that children by the millions sing for him and are in love with his songs. And that’s all you really need to know in order to enjoy the sublime new documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, a profoundly detailed love letter to the wildly influential, Memphis-based 1970’s power pop band that Chilton cofounded along with guitarist/songwriter Chris Bell, drummer Jody Stephens and bassist Andy Hummel. Directed by Drew DeNicola, Nothing Can Hurt Me is by turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, as band members, journalists, photographers, label employees, family, fans and friends recount their own experiences with and memories of a band whose three albums (#1 Record, Radio City and Third) garnered volumes of critical praise, but whose record label lacked the distribution necessary for Big Star to break commercially. Despite its music being virtually unheard during the band’s existence, Big Star songs deeply influenced bands as diverse as Cheap Trick, The Bangles, REM and The Posies, making them possibly the first cult band, ever.

Like I said, you don’t need to know anything about Big Star or its music to be completely engrossed by the band’s story and be charmed as well as intrigued by its four very talented members, particularly the enigmatic Chilton and the insightful (and still devastatingly handsome) Jody Stephens. The band’s music, as well as Chris Bell’s post-Big Star efforts and Chilton’s many and varied solo projects, are featured prominently in the film, and I can guarantee that if you do not already own Big Star’s catalog you will be downloading it from iTunes directly after watching this film. Like another great music documentary film released this year, Jobriath AD, Nothing Can Hurt Me provides a bittersweet hindsight to what went wrong and what might have been done differently. Most importantly, it provides a showcase for music that is timeless, amazing and simply should not remain a well-kept secret.

Adding an additional note of melancholy to the film is the realization that any true Big Star reunion is now impossible, with Stephens being the sole surviving member of the group. Chris Bell joined the 27 Club – the victim of a single-vehicle car cash – in 1978, and both Chilton and Hummel passed away within months of each other in 2010. It’s very likely though that this film will reignite a following and lead to more musicians being influenced by a band that never got to enjoy the fame and fortune they deserved. To find out where you can see Nothing Can Hurt Me before it’s eventually released on DVD, please visit Big Star Story Dot Com.

The Worley Gig Gives Nothing Can Hurt Me Five out of Five Stars!

Watch the Trailer Below:

Recommended Viewing: Full Circle, The Kostabi Story

Mark Kostabi Full Circle
Image Source

The art world is filled with enigmas, and that’s what keeps it exciting. This week, I attended a screening of a new documentary film about American contemporary artist/painter Mark Kostabi, called Full Circle, The Kostabi Story, directed by Italian filmmaker Sabrina Digregorio. The film is amazing, but before I get into it, I need to get something off my chest about another excellent Kostabi documentary from 2011, called Con Artist. Because, to me, Full Circle felt very much like the bookend to Con Artist, though I am sure that was unintentional.

While Con Artist did an excellent job of distilling Mark Kostabi’s colorful life, undeniable scenester status and celebrated art career up to that point, the title of the film referenced the fact that Kostabi, like so many modern art superstars, employs a staff to execute his paintings. I’ve met Mark Kostabi casually a few times (he is extremely friendly and approachable) and even visited his Chelsea based studio, Kostabi World, so it’s not like his process is a huge, dirty secret.

Far from it. This “revelation” is not at all scandalous when you consider that Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, among many others, employ assistants and craftsmen to execute their projects, without being subject to serious flack as to whether this step in the creative process detracts from their legitimate artistic credibility. Hell, even Michelangelo had a staff. Con Artist is an enjoyable film, but the filmmakers definitely had an agenda, and I’m still not sure if Kostabi was complicit in the way it came off. I could have asked him about it, but I never did.

Con Artist left me with a weird feeling of emotional manipulation: like I wasn’t supposed to respect Mark Kostabi or admire his art because he doesn’t personally paint every single one of his paintings. The conclusion I drew was that Kostabi had become disillusioned, abandoned the creative process and simply turned to manufacturing art, instructing his art-drones to paint in the prescribed style of “a Kostabi,” and then signing his name to that canvas. As if, by being labeled a “Con Artist,” he had surrendered to and embraced that accusation. For lack of a more eloquent phrase, it was kind of a bummer, but one that nevertheless added an additional layer of enigma to the artist.

Full Circle, on the other hand, is an extremely uplifting film. While providing only the most cursory background information on Mark, the film opts for a tight focus on his current career, his reputation among Italian art critics (Kostabi spends half the year living in Rome) and an in-depth exploration of how he works with his staff to fully realize more of his paintings – from idea to canvas – than he could possibly create physically on his own. What you get to see in full glorious detail is how all Kostabi paintings are born not just from a vague idea or rote instruction but from complete sketches that Mark provides to the painter. While the employees of Kostabi World transfer Mark’s detailed sketches to canvas he continually consults with each until the painting is up to his standards and just feels “right.”

I think that anyone who’s been confused by seeing Con Artist definitely needs to see Full Circle. Mark Kostabi really is a talented, wildly passionate and unique artist, an amazing modern classical pianist, a knowledgeable art historian and a reputable teacher. Beyond that, he is a very nice, interesting and cool person. Mark Kostabi!

I recommend Full Circle, The Kostabi Story not just to art fans who already know Mark’s work, but to anyone who is curious about Contemporary art and artists, or who feels like they don’t “get” art. I learned lot from this movie and my only minor complaint is that, at just over 60 minutes run time, it is not nearly long enough.

Watch The Trailer Below!

Recommended Viewing: The Day

The Day Movie Poster

If you’ve read Cormac McCarthy’s chilling, post-apocalyptic novel, The Road, or seen the movie based on the book, you will surely recall the scene where The Man and The Boy come upon an abandoned farmhouse in which they hope to seek shelter, only to discover that its basement is occupied by unfortunate survivors who’ve been unwittingly captured and trapped there to await, let’s just say for the sake of avoiding spoilers, a ‘fate worse than death.’ Now, take that scene, dial back the ‘grisly-mind-numbing-horror’ factor by about sixty percent, turn it into an “Old West-style” stand off and expand to 84 minutes and you have the basic plot of The Day, a new action/drama opening nationwide this Wednesday, August 29th.

The directorial debut of Doug Aarniokoski, The Day features a talented cast including Shawn Ashmore (X-Men trilogy), Shannyn Sossamon (Wrist Cutters: A Love Story), Dominic Monaghan (Lord of The Rings) and Ashley Bell (The Last Exorcism). It is the terrific acting performances and the unique character revelations within the limited scope of plot that elevate The Day beyond a rote doomsday retread best left to ‘rental’ status to a taught thriller worth experiencing in the theater.

Shot to great effect in a muted palate of grays and browns with only select flashback scenes appearing in color, The Day covers a 24-hour period in the lives of five people (two women, three men, probably in their late twenties) who are approximately ten years into life after an unnamed apocalyptic event. Daily life for these individuals centers on maintaining a near-constant state of vigilance necessary to avoid deadly encounters with that faction of humanity which has resorted to cannibalism in order to survive. With one member of their group gravely ill, bad weather looming and nightfall approaching, the group retreat to an empty farmhouse, but their hoped for safe haven turns out to be a trap set by those who would view them only as “meat.” As the small group band together and prepare to fight for survival against an unknown number of attackers, questions of loyalty and hidden agendas surface that blur the lines between just what separates the good guys from the bad guys. You’ll be kept guessing right up until the final shot.

Shannyn Sossamon is a very appealing actress and she is quite good in the role of Shannon, a woman struggling to maintain her humanity in the face of unrelenting loss and horror. The stand out performance here however is that of Ashley Bell as Mary; a newcomer to the group whose reticence and flinty exterior mask a tightly-capped well of emotion and fury. Bell’s Mary provides the fulcrum on which the entire plot flips and Bell proves herself to be a formidable action hero. She is a star to watch, for sure. While there is extreme crazy violence in the film, the lack of blood red on the color spectrum helps to mitigate the gore factor, while a few instances of truly original, brutal combat–level violence evoke great cathartic release for the audience. And that’s never a bad thing. For fans of The Walking Dead, Road Warrior and The Cabin in The Woods, The Day is highly recommended.

The Worley Gig Gives The Day 4 out of 5 Stars