A Cure For Wellness

This movie is abnormally intriguing.  It has a lot going on, much more than what is playing out visually.  If you put some time into the movie mentally, after the flicker is done dancing on the screen, the examination will be well worth it.  Your first impression will depend on what sort of audience member you are.  If you assess your films by what you immediately see on the surface, you’ll see this cryptic yarn as a promised thriller that doesn’t quite get you where you were hoping it would.  It provides the creepy elements that one would expect to see but doesn’t follow through with its promise to be a good intense, if I may, grabber. 

The term psychological thriller does apply, however, and in the style of something you’d see straight from a legendary 70’s film.  A list to compare its vibe to could be Chinatown, The Conversation, Play Misty for Me and Magic; all superbly shot, well thought out and their impact on cinema… ever lasting. 

In A Cure for Wellness, Gore Verbinski, who helped write the story with screenwriter Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road, The Clearing) digs deep into the essential nature of a person to live, care, love and to aid.  His protagonist, Lockhart (DeHaan), is sent by the financial institution he works for to bring back the CEO, Pembroke (Groener) who is nestled in the Swiss Alps at a mysterious wellness center.  He goes to retrieve Pembroke, knowing full well that the true desire of the board members is to pin its problems on him and use him as a fall guy. 
On his way to the center, which uses hydrotherapy from an aquifer with unique purities, he learns of the center’s history and of the castle its inside.  As he speaks to the chauffeur who is taking him to the castle, they’re in an accident and Lockhart ends up a patient himself, waking three days after a crash that had sent the car tumbling.  Continually being urged to drink the water to better heal his broken leg, he finally grabs some crutches and wanders around the place, not only looking for Pembroke but looking around this odd establishment.  From what he recalls the chauffeur saying, his suddenly odd and dark dreams and the behavior of the people around him he begins to feel more like an inmate in an insane asylum than as a willing patient. 

When Lockhart meets someone by the name of Hannah (Goth), a special patient who has been there all her life, the story of the institution unravels more and more and Lockhart’s questions get larger and larger.  Becoming suspicious that all is not well and obsessed with finding out more he suggests it’s bad for business for people to get well.  This does not go well with Volmer (Isaacs) who insists Lockhart needs to be submerged in water and the toxins in his body be removed.  This is a macabre scene as memories of Lockhart’s childhood and eels, yes eels, assault him. 

So, my final take is there are a few disturbing scenes that play out and some I may never purge but for crazy good, alluring cinema, see A Cure for Wellness.  It may not be Oscar worthy, but cinematographer Bojan Bazelli (King of New York, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, The Ring), couldn’t have shot this film more methodically and used his lens more perfectly to concentrate on the beauty of the set and the locations and also to create the feeling of anxiety and stress.  It’s a masterpiece cinematically.  What might have otherwise been seen as a clichéd tale by the end is made infinitely more interesting by camera angles, shots sizes and expressions he creates as well as the overall tone he designs.  Again, by the time you finish watching it, you could be somewhat disappointed but don’t be.  Yes, Verbinski could have decided on an ending before two hours had expired but enjoy the fact that there is a much deeper theme going on than first thought and you’ll get there, too.  You’ll contemplate whether this person is alive, is this a dream, it that person in a coma?  Decide for yourself and let me know what YOU thought!      

A Cure For Wellness Advance Screening

An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps but soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem.

Find your chance to receive special advance movie screening passes below.

Phoenix, Arizona

Date: Wednesday, February 15
Location: Cinemark Mesa
Time: 7:00pm
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Las Vegas, Nevada

Date: Wednesday, February 15
Location: Century Suncoast
Time: 7:00pm
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John Wick: Chapter 2


If you like muscle cars, chase scenes, incredible fight sequences and beautiful sets and locations, this movie is going to sizzle your cerebral cortex.  It has everything I mentioned and has them in spades.  All that you liked about the first film is here so you won’t be disappointed.  As you most assuredly know, John Wick was as high octane as they come… what will be your delight is, Chapter 2 is just as powerful and as potent as the first.  John Wick (Reeves), the ghostly and stealthy killer you met in Chapter 1, is the same bad ass, with the same reputation of reigning terror without breaking a sweat but unlike before, he wants out  He wants to retire and live out his life in peace.  Well, he may want out but someone comes knocking to remind him that he’s duty bound to do something first and that is to fulfill a blood marker.  A marker is a blood oath.  Once it’s given to a member of the criminal conclave Wick belongs to, one with strict rules for the professional help and perks they receive, it must be honored.   

He’s forced to be true to his pledge which is to assassinate Santino D’Antonio’s (Scamarcio) sister so that he could have her seat at the high table, a highly coveted place within the criminal federation.  An ingenious scene of him shopping for accessories is priceless.  He gears up and gets to work.  When he completes his task or she does for him, rather, not only are members of her security team after for him, (especially Cassian, played by Common, whose role adds a special element of regalement to the film), but so is Santino.  He decides to close loose ends.  The choreographed action sequences such as rolling down steps mid fight, running on stage and through a concert’s audience while shooting at one another and all death and destruction delivered by clever cinematography more than makes up for the few times that Reeves, unfortunately, has speaking lines.  I know that’s hard to swallow but it’s more than accurate.     

Centrally, this is an astonishingly action packed film and with a good narrative.  It’s the story of a character you can’t help root for, even though he’s a ruthless, emotionless and heartless killer.  You want him to win, despite his willingness to murder, because, after all, they’re the bad guys, right?  Again, luckily for us, it’s more action driven with focus on the deadly encounters rather than on dialogue.  Every performance outside of Reeves was adequate, McShane and Common’s especially, but the only delivery Reeves is capable of giving is dry and detached and that’s a shame.  Yes, it isn’t terrible with this sort of role but had he been able to give some passion to the lines that he did have, it would have been that much better. 
I have to suggest you go see it if you’re an action fan.  I’ll go on record now and say you’re going to absolutely love it.  It starts with a punch and never stops going; it’s solid all around.  Also, it ends with a clear set up for Chapter 3.  After all hes been through and has done, he decides to break a rule anyway, for which you cannot do as long as you’re in the league.  Now that he has, he is banished and… well, I’ll let you discover that on your own. 


The pursuit of that bright shiny metal can drive a prospector to extremes. In “Gold”, the apparent major find in the Indonesian jungle sets off a frenzy in the lives of the people involved. That includes Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) who owns a tiny mining company started by his grandfather in Reno. The company has hit upon hard times, and now the salesmen try to sell shares of dead mines that have no future. They all work out of a bar in Reno, since the office has been closed for a long time. Kenny has a girlfriend in a waitress named Kay (Bryce Dallas Howard). But Kenny still has big dreams about gold…

His dream leads him to Indonesia, where he meets Michael Acosta (Édgar Ramírez). Acosta is a geologist who once discovered the largest deposit of copper. Kenny thinks that Acosta can do the same thing for him and discover the world’s largest gold reserve. Acosta has also had a string of bad luck, but Kenny has so much enthusiasm that he convinces Acosta to try again.


After a few false starts, Acosta settles on a remote jungle location. Kenny has limited funds to support the exploration, but he presses on. The jungle takes a toll on Kenny, and he catches malaria and nearly dies. But when he is better, Acosta tells Kenny the good news. He has been successful in finding a large gold deposit.

The story moves back and forth between Indonesia and Reno, where Kenny has become a big shot in the mining industry. He reopens his company, and the investments are flowing in non-stop. There is a major New York hedge fund that is ready to find major investors. Barry Wolff (Corey Stoll) has Kenny and Kay come to New York where they live it up. Acosta stays at the mine delivering more good news all the time. The world’s largest mining company is ready to buy out Kenny and Acosta, but Kenny turns them down at the last minute. The gold bug has bitten him really bad…

The mining company was snubbed and wants to get even, so they convince Indonesian government to shut down the operation. That almost stops Kenny, until he finds a special partner who will get all back on track. So the operation keeps running, the bankers have been rejected.  Kenny finds out that Kay was not impressed with Kenny’s new attitude. She leaves him, and he shrugs it off.

Kenny has an interview with an FBI visitor (Toby Kebbell) who explains that everything about the mining operation is not what it seems. Kenny and his company are brought down in a crashing failure. Acosta is nowhere to be found, and the authorities want answers. Kenny is left in the lurch…


Matthew McConaughey really transforms himself in the role of Kenny Wells. The ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ changes to become a middle-aged, balding, pot-bellied, chain-smoking drunkard with bad teeth. He owns the role, and makes Kenny’s personality shine like a super-nova. When Kenny meets up with Michael Acosta, he persuades the geologist with his pluck and luck. Édgar Ramírez also does a fine job as Acosta, the geologist who might have lead Kenny down the Golden Path. Bryce Dallas Howard also does what she can with her role, but the focus is really on Kenny and his obsession with gold.

Is “Gold” as good as the real thing? The story is very interesting, and it is told with a great deal of style and flair. The acting is fun to watch, especially McConaughey getting into the slovenly Kenny character. But the center is not focused in any one direction, and it does tend to wander. So it never reaches pure 24 Karat quality, but is sure is shiny.


I didn’t know what to expect from “Split”.  I was very nervous about it and I’m very pleased to announce it was very good.  I can’t say enough about it, in fact.  More to the point, I can’t say enough about James McAvoy’s performance.  If his talents were ever in doubt, they certainly will not be now.  His work has to have been extremely difficult, yet he made it seem completely effortless.  I’ll explain.  The trailer for this film doesn’t actually show, a nice change might I add, the fact that the main character McAvoy plays someone in such deep mental distress that he has literally shattered.  It reveals a touch of the fact that this person has split personality disorder but doesn’t give away how bad it is and to the extent that the original personality, Kevin, is controlled.  The reason for the the personality splitting is revealed but I don’t want to give away too many details.

In the film, Dennis, who is often “in the light” or the one in charge at the moment, decides to kidnap two girls he had been following.  A third is a victim of circumstance and is grabbed, as well.  She, Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), has a past to her that is divulged in flashbacks and when Casey addresses the situation she’s in with shock but not with terror, you understand why.  You wonder what’s inside her as well and Taylor-Joy, with her large eyes that penetrate you through the screen, does a fantastic job of keeping you guessing.


That’s the true premise and brilliance of the film.  This is an excellent vehicle for Shyamalan to prove he’s an actors director.  Is it the perfect film?  Not by a long shot but you cannot miss these performances.  If you are into acting or performance art in any fashion, you have to study what Shyamalan has achieved, especially with McAvoy.  They work beautifully together, actor trusting director, and McAvoy gives everything he has to not only be more than one person on screen but twentry-three different personalities.  He shows, continually, that he is a magnificent actor when at one point the camera is on him and he’s one person, then it pans to a mirror and he’s another, it pans back again and he’s another and back again.  It’s fascinating.  Several times he turns these people on and off.  It’s riveting.  He is, frankly, amazing in this juicy role.   

Shyamalan couldn’t have picked better.  And that goes for the rest of the cast as well.  Everyone was quite good… except Shyamalan himself, who always likes to find a part in his movies somewhere where he can tinker with his love of the profession.  However, he makes a bad choice for himself.  He has ten acting credits to his name and has fourteen director credits.  He obviously likes to act.  In the scene he has injected himself into in “Split”, he’s not bad, per se, he’s just not at all necessary.  The scene does nothing for the film and in fact, distracts his audience from what’s exciting them up to this point. 

There are a few convenient set ups but they in no way take away from the film.  Buckley, as the therapist, is sweet and caring and shows intelligence but when she wanders where she shouldn’t have, you wish Shyamalan hadn’t gone there but that’s okay.  You’ll be on the edge of your seat, consumed by what you’re seeing.  And as I already do, you’ll be setting up a time to go and watch this movie again.

Patriots Day

Peter Berg, the director of films such as “Friday Night Lights,” “The Kingdom,” “Lone Survivor” and “Deepwater Horizon,” knows how to draw the truth out of a story and present it in an entertaining, authentic yet sometimes unpleasant way without pulling you too far in or out without questioning his skill and intentions.  Often taking on the challenge of telling true life events, he handles these subjects with great care.  He has proven over and over that he doesn’t exploit people and that he’s legitimate and capable and now with “Patriots Day”, he does so again. 

Here, he brings us to April of 2013 and the events that occurred at the Boston Marathon.  Sensitively, he introduces many of the characters slowly, leaving you to wonder their position in the chronicled narrative when see them pop up next.  Some characters are going to participate in the marathon and others come in and out for awhile before you are shown their role.  Two stand out right away; the bombers themselves. 

Seeing them sends you back to the day of the attack and not in a positive way.  Anger wells up from somewhere and you’re not exactly sure of what to do with it.  Everyone is set up perfectly by Berg, these two especially.  Tommy (Wahlberg) is a police officer working the Marathon, a duty that he’s given because he is working off a suspension and is now part of crowd control, something he deeply despises.  After the explosions, he steps up to help Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Bacon) with the investigation.  Knowing Boston better than an agent from out of town, he is desperately needed in finding the perpetrators.  I’m sure anyone of the Boston police offers present could do this job but we have to make Wahlberg the hero somehow so this works.  After a command center is set up, video surveillance finds the man who leaves one of the bombs to explode where he set it and they use footage from all the stores in the area to trace is steps.  This is how they discover he didn’t act alone.

The bombings themselves are a ballet of both the cinematography of Tobias A. Schliessler, who often works with Berg, and real footage.  When the runners are rounding the finish line and the explosions occur you practically jump from your seat.  Your heart beats faster, your face turns red and your blood boils.  If you’re on the slightly emotional side, you’ll weep.  If not, you’ll at least have a massive lump in your throat to swallow down.  It’s one thing to see the footage on the news but once he introduces you to people who are about to be the victims of this horrendous act, you find yourself pushing away from the screen and wishing you could warn them to get away from the area.  In this respect he did a very good job of bringing the audience into the story.    

When the Tsarnaev brothers are cornered in a town outside of Boston, it gives Berg a chance to play with the action part of the film and we take a break from the heavy drama its been. Berg is at his best when he’s re-enacting everything from the bombings to the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  He also unveils that the Tsarnaev brothers had more than just the city of Boston in mind to terrorize.  He does take certain liberties but you desperately need him to at this juncture.  You want and need to cheer what happens to the people who are killing innocent men, women and children and would have continued had it not been for the quick responses of investigators and the Boston Police.  It feels good to see them get their man who’s now on death row. 

Overall, the film is incredibly dramatic and suspenseful, especially when Katherine Russell (Benoist), the wife of Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Melikidze), is interviewed.  Berg plays to your emotions and your sense of pride when she’s interrogated by using dialogue given by a character you wish you could be. 
This is a see at the theatre this weekend movie.  I highly recommend it.  After you do, stay seated.  You get to meet a few people through pictures and recorded interviews talking about their experiences and your chest will swell again when the reason Boston Strong was so prevalent is revealed.     

The Bye Bye Man

“The Bye Bye Man” may as well be called The Night Night Man because watching it is probably going to put you to sleep.  There’s not much substance here and as original of an idea I had thought it was, it was a huge let down. 

In the opening scene, we go back to 1969 in Madison, Wisconsin.  We see a terrified man killing family and friends, asking them if they had told anyone his name.  Having watched the trailer, you can deduce who he’s referring to; “The Bye Bye Man.”  This sets us up for some real terror.  That was a good intro and you’re certain this will only get better.

Cut to outside of Madison.  We’re in Sun Prairie, WI (a place I once lived as a matter of fact) where some young students, Elliot (Smith), Sasha (Bonas) and John (Laviscount) are renting a big creepy house.  Who couldn’t see that coming?  Well, that’s predictable but that’s okay.  Creepy houses are the center pieces of many a fine horror flick.  Elliot and Sahsa are lovers and John is a childhood friend so they’re doing this together to better afford it.

Right away something sets off Sahsa’s distress meter but this, of course, doesn’t hit her until after the ink is dry on the lease so she enlists her friend Kim (Kanell) to perform a spiritual cleansing and also a séance to be certain the house is evil spirit free.

As can be forecast by you at this point, let’s be honest, you could write the rest of the script, Kim feels a wicked soul and no one obeys the warning signs.

There are a few good shots here like when his name is first said at the séance but for the most part, you’re never frightened in this horror film.  The Bye Bye Man himself has gone bye bye.  I think he forgot he was part of the film, actually, showing up every now and again, doing just enough to keep the director happy and to collect his check.  You want him to appear more because what you see of him early is creepy but it stops rather abruptly. 

We discover, with Elliot, that you aren’t supposed to think of him or say his name.  The more you do, the closer he gets.  Elliot becomes the sleuth for the group and tracks down who the Bye Bye Man is but is often fooled by tricks, as are the others, into thinking what’s not real, is.  There are a few scenes of the dangers they fall into by believing the visions are real but beyond that, we’re left hanging.  I’ve come to see a horror flick, not a guy running around trying to solve a case!  Regardless, he’s being driven mad by a cloaked figure with long boney fingers and scars all over his face that you barely get to see.  He’d most likely chill you to your boney fingers if they’d have concentrated more time on him and if the effects were better than those of any fan of the genre who engages in recreating a scene from their favorite horror film on their cell phones for their Twitter followers.  

The Bye Bye Man is hardly the focus and this will disappoint you highly.  Faye Dunaway was phenomenal as the widow of the man from the beginning of the film so if you’re a fan of hers maybe watch when VOD becomes available.  Please tell me she did this as a favor to someone! Anyway, this movie is just filled with too much ridiculous to recommend you watch it.  Dunaway, Smith and Cleo King are convincing with the material they’re working with but the rest of the cast, overall, are rather weak.  My final thoughts on this film are simple.  There are no scares.  There is no horror.  There’s no originality.  There’s no real reason to invest your time.

A “Vinsanity” featurette for “xXx: Return of Xander Cage”

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Directed By: DJ Caruso

Starring: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Toni Collette, Ruby Rose, Nina Dobrev, Tony Jaa, Kris Wu, Michael Bisping, Rory McCann, Nicky Jam, Neymar Jr., Samuel L. Jackson

The third explosive chapter of the blockbuster franchise that redefined the spy thriller finds extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) coming out of self-imposed exile and on a collision course with deadly alpha warrior Xiang and his team in a race to recover a sinister and seemingly unstoppable weapon known as Pandora’s Box. Recruiting an all-new group of thrill-seeking cohorts, Xander finds himself enmeshed in a deadly conspiracy that points to collusion at the highest levels of world governments. Packed with the series’ signature deadpan wit and bad-ass attitude, “xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE” will raise the bar on extreme action with some of the most mind-blowing stunts to ever be caught on film.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReturnofXanderCageMovie

Twitter: https://twitter.com/xXxMovie

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Official Website: http://www.returnofxandercage.com


In Theaters January 20


Alien: Covenant RED BAND Trailer is here!

20th Century Fox has released the first trailer for ALIEN: COVENANT! 

Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created, with ALIEN: COVENANT, a new chapter in his groundbreaking ALIEN franchise. The crew of the colony ship Covenant discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world.
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Amy Seimetz, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Nathaniel Dean, Alexander England, Benjamin Rigby

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In Theaters May 19, 2017