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Movie review: 'Road House' captures fun of action classic – UPI.com

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Movie review: 'Road House' captures fun of action classic – UPI.com

1 of 5 | Dalton (Jake Gyllenhaal, R) shows Billy (Lukas Gage) how to disarm a rowdy customer. Photo courtesy of Prime Video

LOS ANGELES, March 18 (UPI) — It took several years before 1989’s Road House was considered an action classic. The remake, on Prime Video on Thursday, recaptures the fun of the original for modern audiences.

Frankie (Jessica Williams) hires underground fighter Dalton (Jake Gyllenhaal) to be a bouncer at her Glass Key, Fla. bar, The Road House. Developer Ben Brandt (Billy Magnussen) keeps sending thugs to make trouble to force Frankie to leave.

The philosophy of Patrick Swayze’s Dalton in the original was “be nice.” This Dalton captures that in every fight scene by further developing the psychology of how Dalton tries to de-escalate violent situations — until he can’t avoid them.

Dalton threatens a gang’s motorcycles to lure members outside the bar, and then asks if they have health insurance and where the nearest hospital is. Dalton is being sincere because he wants to be sure they’re taken care of when he does what he has to do.

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Of course, Road House is an action movie, so every punk proceeds to fight Dalton. That’s probably accurate to real-life brawlers, whose pride will never let them stand down.

Dalton even begins with open-handed slaps before he transitions to mixed martial arts moves. He keeps his composure when someone stabs him, still giving the attacker the chance to walk away before it escalates further.

Gyllenhall’s affable demeanor adds new energy to the cinema staple of bar fights. This is also complemented when Brandt’s father calls in Knox (Conor McGregor) to eliminate Dalton.

Knox is a violent muscle beast, but he’s also full of smiles and having a great time making trouble.

Brandt is the kind of smarmy villain who makes you enjoy his comeuppance. Besides what he’s doing to The Road House, the way he treats his own men is magnificently egregious.

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Brandt makes his barber give him a shave on a boat in choppy waters, so he can get mad every time he gets cut. This is a guy who needs to go down.

The new Dalton is a former MMA fighter, and although the film waits to fully reveal his past, it won’t be hard to figure out why he left the ring. The film pays off Dalton’s dark past and doesn’t cop out on his violent nature.

Dalton wants to avoid further violence, but these bad guys force his hand, like they always do to John Wick or Rambo. If they just left him alone, they’d have no problem, or at least no additional problems on top of Frankie not selling The Road House.

The action is not over-edited. The camera is part of the fights, following characters back and forth, which also continues in dialogue scenes. In that regard, director Doug Liman elevates the more straightforward action of the 1989 film.

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Most of the action looks real as it’s either the leads or their stuntmen performing choreography. A computer-generated pickup truck stunt is glaringly fake by comparison, although a crocodile looks better. Some boat stunts look like real boats crashing and exploding on the water.

The local doctor, Ellie (Daniela Melchior), is a much milder love interest than Kelly Lynch in the original. That’s because the screenplay downplays the romance and eliminates any sexual tension before the actors even have a chance to play it.

So, the modern Road House trades a little steam for more sweat and rowdy fun. It’s still an outrageous good time.

Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001, and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012 and the Critics Choice Association since 2023. Read more of his work in Entertainment.

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Movie Reviews

Humane (2024) – Movie Review

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Humane (2024) – Movie Review

Humane, 2024.

Directed by Caitlin Cronenberg.
Starring Jay Baruchel, Emily Hampshire, Peter Gallagher, Enrico Colantoni, Sebastian Chacon, Alanna Bale, Sirena Gulamgaus, Uni Park, Martin Roach, Blessing Adedijo, Joel Gagne, and Franckie Francois.

SYNOPSIS:

In the wake of an environmental collapse that is forcing humanity to shed 20% of its population, a family dinner erupts into chaos when a father’s plan to enlist in the government’s new euthanasia program goes horribly awry.

Humane takes a darkly fascinating, timely concept regarding ecological collapse and overpopulation, competently establishes some of that world-building that’s not too far off from a potentially bleak future reality, and then devolves into an hour of filthy rich siblings, most of whom are unlikeable, shouting at each other in an attempt to decide who they are going to sacrifice as part of an ongoing government-funded euthanasia cleansing.

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There is also nothing wrong with these characters being offputting and morally bankrupt when a sudden gathering organized by patriarch Charles York (Peter Gallagher) turns into an evening of survival, especially when there are military personnel and individuals even more psychotic overseeing the euthanasia process (a procedure with rewards that seemingly sets up the rest of one’s family financially for life), but the script from Michael Sparaga lacks characterization and complexity beyond one or two defining traits for each sibling. As a result, much of the backstabbing and betrayal between two particular siblings strains credibility and comes across as the screenplay looking to stretch the physical family feud long past its repetitive breaking point.

This is frustrating since, again, the hook grabs attention. Charles is a former celebrated news reporter who financially benefited from years of society ignoring climate change, among other pressing issues. Somewhat of a failure as a parent and husband, currently with a new partner named Dawn Kim (Uni Park), who has faced racism at extreme lengths of having her restaurant burned down (the script also mentions that for whatever reason, Asians, in general, have been made public enemy number one for the current disastrous state of the planet, without ever really expanding on that.) Charles cares deeply about his legacy. He is also looking for some form of redemption, so he signs himself and Dawn up for the euthanasia process while inviting his four adult children (one adopted son) over to say goodbye without explaining what the reunion is about.

The children are Jared’s (Jay Baruchel) government mouthpiece for the euthanasia program, Rachel’s (Emily Hampshire) sociopathic businesswoman who doesn’t realize or seem to care that her heartlessness gets her daughter Mia (Sirena Gulamgaus) endlessly bullied at school, recovering junkie and adopted son Noah (Sebastian Chacon) and aspiring actress Ashley (Alanna Bale.) Due to not knowing the nature of this reunion, Mia also ends up in the house. It is also established that Noah and Ashley are closer to one another than everyone else in this dysfunctional family.

Following dinner, Charles blurts out what is happening here; the euthanasia enforcements arrive, insisting that the family figure out a way to provide a second body since Dawn had run off before they arrived. Whether there is a deeper significance to that remains a mystery. There is no backing out, and the menacing ringleader, Bob (Enrico Colantoni), scrambles the Wi-Fi and is certain that these people are so selfish they will try to kill each other to ensure they are not the second death. He also makes clear that this group does not euthanize children (although the slimy Jared is seen on television early on promoting the idea, admitting that he would allow his teenage son to consider it), ordering his armed guards to bring Mia outside and into his van as insurance while the family decides what to do.

The euthanasia process is unsettlingly creepy, as fully seen during an opening prologue juxtaposed with an upbeat, cheerful song choice. The film consistently finds pockets to quickly drop tiny bits of information about this world and how the service is handled in the public eye, including gallows humor commercials thanking regular citizens for their suicide contributions.

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That’s all one way of saying Humane has the ingredients to be a sharp and socially aware takedown of the rich and a reflection of a grim, possible reality if everyone on this planet doesn’t get on the same page to do something about devastating global concerns. However, the film takes that intrigue and squanders it all on a sibling match of who can yell the loudest and survive the most injuries. Characters repeatedly try to kill each other, form alliances, betray one another, and show their worst sides in ways that don’t always feel believable, even for these wealthy, self-centered assholes. It becomes exhausting, and at one point, we side with the gleeful euthanizing murderer for trying to convince Mia that her mom is an awful person. Hilariously, it also tries to give that character a dramatic backstory while dropping the psychopathic behavior for roughly two minutes.

What Humane does have going for it is that it is the debut from Caitlin Cronenberg, and while this is a different kind of horror from what her father and brother would craft (and sometimes a black comedy with Jay Baruchel eliciting some laughs), the violence still has some body horror that fits right in with the family portfolio. Fingers are forced inside stab wounds, and blood squirts so often that it becomes confounding no one is dead yet. As a director, there should be interest in what she does next, preferably something with a stronger screenplay and layered characters.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com

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Movie Reviews

Humane (2024) – Review | Dystopian Family Thriller | Heaven of Horror

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Humane (2024) – Review | Dystopian Family Thriller | Heaven of Horror

How to reduce the population in a humane way

In Humane, which takes place in one single afternoon, but based on events that have happened over decades, a family is forced to deal with an ecological collapse. Basically, we need to reduce Earth’s population now, so the question becomes; How can we do that as a society in a humane way?

Hot tip: You need to pay attention to everything being said in the background during the opening credits!

Of course, there isn’t anything humane about having to eliminate a large percentage of the population. And yet, money can help, so a new euthanasia program has been made. Basically, you can volunteer to be “put down!

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A very different take on the euthanasia plot here >

Your family will be by your side as you say goodbye to them and they will also get a pretty penny for your sacrifice. Clearly, this scheme leads to mostly poor people and immigrants signing up, as they can then help their children and grandchildren to a better life.

That’s why it’s such a shock when a recently retired newsman – who has plenty of wealth to last a few lifetimes – invites his four grown children to dinner to announce that he has enlisted for the euthanasia program.

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Of course, nothing is as simple as described in the commercials constantly playing on TV to enlist volunteers. So, when the father’s plan goes wrong, full-blown chaos erupts among the four siblings, and they end up fighting each other to survive.

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There’s Still Tomorrow (2023) – Movie Review

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There’s Still Tomorrow (2023) – Movie Review

There’s Still Tomorrow, 2023.

Directed by Paola Cortellesi.
Starring Paola Cortellesi, Valerio Mastandrea, Romana Maggiora Vergano, Emanuela Fanelli, Giorgio Colangeli, and Vinicio Marchioni.

SYNOPSIS:

Trying to escape from the patriarchy in the Italian post-war society, Delia plots an act of rebellion against her violent husband.

Italian Cinema has had its share of triumphs over the years with the likes of Federico Fellini and Roberto Rossellini helping to define European Cinema of the mid 1900s. There’s Still Tomorrow from Star and Director Paola Cortellesi, proves that there is still plenty of life left in Italian Cinema. It has earned rave reviews and proven to be the most successful film of 2023 in Italy and the ninth highest-grossing film of all time there.

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Set in Rome in 1946, it follows Delia (Cortellisi), caught in a loveless marriage, struggling to put food on the table. Delia cares for their three young children and is also expected to tend to her bedridden father-in-law.  The Rome we follow is far from the more glamorous one we tend to see now, more like something in Rome Open City, with the effects of the war apparent, with a sizable US military presence still in place.

It has rightly earned plaudits and the way Cortellisi has balanced the period elements with neorealism is worth singling out. On paper this shouldn’t work, feeling often like a drama lifted straight from the era but also with a striking, contemporary edge to it, buoyed by some of the musical choices. The likes of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Outkast helping to lend it a ferocious energy and give it a sense of purpose. As far as debuts go this is incredibly ambitious but it never succumbs to striving for too much, miraculously finding balance throughout.

While the action is kept largely to Delia and her family it is gripping with plenty of impressive traits from our first-time director from the use of music and dance to slow motion. Davide Leone’s cinematography is striking and perfectly captures the downbeat nature of post-war Rome.

There’s Still Tomorrow is a wonderful blend of 1940s Italian Cinema and melodrama with a distinctly modern edge to it, landing this awkward balance for the most part. It will be intriguing to see whether international audiences take to it quite as strongly but as Italian as it feels, there is a global appeal to it, of a woman trying to escape a horrendous situation and reclaim her life. It is a very impressive debut and we can only hope Paola Cortellisi directs more in future. It is an unpredictable love letter to Italian cinema and this particular era in Italian society that wears its heart on its sleeve and is hard not to be enamoured with.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★

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