Friday, January 28, 2022

The Selling (2011)


Streaming Service: Amazon Prime
Movie Name/Year: The Selling (2011)
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Length:  92 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: RedWood Pictures, Diani & Devine Productions, Ludicrous Productions, GoDigital, Grand Entertainment Group, Syfy Universal, Syfy Universal
Director: Emily Lou Wilbur
Writer: Gabriel Diani
Actors: Gabriel Diani, Janet Varney, Jonathan Klein, Etta Devine, Barry Bostwick, Nancy Lenehan, Jocelyn Towne, Alina Phelan, Simon Helberg, Cole Stratton, Kitty Swink, Jessica Makinson, Kendra Chell, Matthew J Cates, Alexandra Goodman, Ross Hellwig, Phil Proctor, Melinda Peterson, Elizabeth McInerney, Trey Burnette, Tamika Simpkins
IMDb Blurb: A too-honest-for-his-own-good real estate agent has to sell a haunted house before its ghostly inhabitants ruin his life.

Cat’s Point of View:
Horror comedy is just one of those genres you don’t come across often – at least, where the outcome is any good, that is. It happens to be my favorite flavor of horror. I had a bit of a rough day yesterday so I was happy to anticipate a bit of therapeutic laughter.
I can’t remember where I first ran across a mention of The Selling, but I’ve been dying to watch it for a couple years now.

The premise reminded me a bit of The Money Pit (1986), but with the whole supernatural ghostly twist. I was sold the moment I made that nostalgic connection to one of my favorite movies of all time. I was just hoping beyond hope that the warm fuzzies of yesteryear weren’t setting me up for disappointment with The Selling. All too often a trailer will lead you astray like that. In this case, I’m happy to report that I wasn’t disappointed.
Let’s revisit the trailer for a moment, though, before I continue.
Don’t watch the whole trailer if you don’t want to be spoiled on a twist. I’d completely forgotten about that part of the preview so I was successfully surprised by the little extra thrown in that takes things beyond just a haunted house. I appreciated that addition to the story that tied things together, and it’s a good bit of what drives the comedy in the final act of the film. For that reason, I see why they added those elements into the sneak peek – but why spoil the surprise!

In order to avoid the spoilers, stop watching the trailer at the 1:18 mark. Once you hit 1:20, you’re bordering the spoiler zone. Just look for Barry Bostwick (The Potwins, The Outlaw Johnny Black, Single All the Way). When he exits the screen, it’s safe to hit the stop button.
Speaking of Barry Bostwick, I had a giggle that he was involved with this project and was one of the initial draws for me to The Selling. Once I learned more overall info about the movie, I had to watch it.
The Selling is a lot of campy and silly fun. It walks that line and stops just short of making you want to roll your eyes. I loved the characters. I could seriously relate with Gabriel Diani’s (I Am I, Research., Diani & Devine Meet the Apocalypse) real estate agent, Richard. I am often told that I am too nice for my own good. It was easy to put myself in his shoes, for the most part.

I’m actually rather shocked that there isn’t more out there from Diani, though I couldn’t begin to speculate as to why. This is the only project of his that I’ve seen to date. I hope to check out his other stuff soon.
The Selling is definitely a hidden gem among the titles available on Amazon Prime Video. Catch this one before it moves on to the great beyond.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 83%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.1/10
Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating – PG-13
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
PS – There are 3 additional scenes within the end credits.
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Brazen (2022)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Brazen (2022)
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Length: 94 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production/Distribution: Eponymous Production, Mandalay Pictures, Netflix
Director: Monika Mitchell
Writer:  Nora Roberts, Edithe Swensen, Donald Martin, Suzette Couture
Actors: Alyssa Milano, Sam Page, Malachi Weir, Emilie Ullerup, Matthew Finlan, Alison Araya, Colleen Wheeler, David Lewis, Daniel Diemer, Barry W. Levy, Lossen Chambers, Aaron Paul Stewart, Jack Armstrong
Blurb from IMDb: When her sister is killed and her double life as a webcam performer is revealed, Grace ignores the warnings of a cool-headed detective and gets involved in the case.

Selina’s Point of View:
I didn’t have a whole lot of faith in Brazen. It only made my top 20 for the month because there was a lot of garbage coming out. I was also interested in seeing Alyssa Milano (Insatiable, Tempting Fate, Charmed) in action again. I hadn’t seen her in anything in a while. If this film is any indication, I know why.
There was very little redeemable about this flick. The acting, while bad, was the least of it.
I had the killer pegged from their very first scene. Sometimes, that kind of predictability can be attributed to the fact that I watch hundreds of movies a year – but I don’t think so this time. I think just about anyone would have had this one figured out.

I’ve seen projects make good use out of that kind of predictability and still come up with something watchable. In this case, the creators of Brazen almost definitely thought they were adding a significant twist. They were very wrong.
There were parts that dipped into the kind of bad that I had fun laughing at – but most of it was the eye-rolling kind.
I’ve never seen a more made-for-TV flick in my life. And I’ve seen a lot of Asylum stuff. I cannot recommend Brazen.

Cat’s Point of View:
When I learned that Brazen was an adaptation of a Nora Roberts (Tribute, Blue Smoke, Angels Fall) novel, I had a good idea of how everything was going to play out. Had there been fewer films that had intrigued me more, it might have squeaked onto my top 20, though, simply because I have a nostalgic attachment to Alyssa Milano.
As for the story of Brazen, it was a fairly paint-by-numbers murder mystery with a dash of romance.
I liked the characters involved and was able to generally invest in the story. Unfortunately, the trajectory of the narrative was grossly predictable. The love story aspect didn’t explore any new territory, either. There were some adorable moments, but overall, it was a been-there-done-that situation.

Nora Roberts’ books aren’t generally my cup of tea. I’m familiar with her, in general, after seeing her name in giant print on books in the grocery store over the years. She’s a rather prolific author and has a massive following. I’m just not among the throng of her adoring fans. I tend to like more fantasy or sci-fi aspects worked in with my mysteries or crime procedurals. Either that or a good period piece with historical fiction. Brazen is squarely in the modern age in the real world with nothing mystical involved. The fact that it was made at a TV-14 rating further ensured that the love scenes would also be a bit watered down.
If you enjoy movies on the Lifetime or Hallmark channels, you might get something out of Brazen. It has a bit more substance and wit than a lot of the saccharine and soapy stories that air on those networks.
All told, Brazen just didn’t hold my interest. It wasn’t horrible, though. I just likely won’t remember it down the line.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score –18%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 14%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 3.9/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 1.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating2.5/5
Movie Trailer:

Monday, January 24, 2022

Munich: The Edge of War (2022)


Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Munich: The Edge of War (2022)
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Length: 123 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: Turbine Studios, Netflix
Director: Christian Schwochow
Writers: Robert Harris, Ben Power
Actors: Alex Jennings, Anjli Mohindra, August Diehl, George MacKay, Jannis Niewöhner, Jeremy Irons, Jessica Brown Findlay, Liv Lisa Fries, Ludwig Simon, Mark Lewis Jones, Nick Wymer, Raphael Sowole, Robert Bathurst, Sandra Hüller
IMDb Blurb: A British diplomat travels to Munich in the run-up to World War II, where a former classmate of his from Oxford is also en route, but is working for the German government.

Selina’s Point of View:
I gravitate toward films about World War II. I feel as though the history of my ancestors is intertwined with the events to such a level that refusing to learn as much as I can about that time would be like spitting on a whole lot of graves.
This particular film made my blood run like ice.
There were conversations held throughout the film that sounded familiar to me. Not because I saw them in other movies, or read them in books, but because I’ve heard people have them in my lifetime. Every time a conversation like that came on screen, chills ran up my spine. Not just because of the comparisons of mass-apathy, but because there are people out there who don’t see the similarities.

Although the story in Munich – The Edge of War is fiction, it takes place in a very real setting. One that was well crafted behind the performances. Every step a character took in public was surrounded by an accurate depiction of the daily life of people during the time leading up to World War II.
Every watch through, more aspects of that daily life are exposed in the background. I’ve rarely seen that level of apathy mixed with despair and hatred portrayed as well on screen.
To get the full depth of Munich – The Edge of War, you really need to focus on the bigger picture – not just the performances and script. A difficult thing to do, since both aspects were entrancing.

I always find it difficult to tear my gaze away from George MacKay to begin with, but it was necessary here. In the past three years, I’ve become a huge fan of his, and I only see that growing. He’s exceptionally talented.
Despite the importance I found in Munich – The Edge of War, I understand that it’s not going to be for everyone. It’s more of a perpetually tense, slow burn, spy film than a complete war movie. Not everyone has the attention span, or interest, to really get into that.
If it is a part of your preferred genre, though, it’s worth a watch.
Unfortunately, I believe the people who need to watch it the most, would never get the message. 

Cat’s Point of View:
While I’m drawn to World War II movies, as I discussed in my #7 entry in January 2022’s Top 20 list, I’m never that enthusiastic about watching them. I have to muster the resolve to watch, as the memories of my grandfather’s stories and history lessons lurk with sadness in the back of my mind. Munich: The Edge of War was no different in that regard. I was impressed with the cast and curious as to the real events that inspired the tale, yet wasn’t eagerly anticipating the experience.

First, let me step back and explore this film from the perspective of a pure spy thriller. Of course, this was more of a period piece than your average spy flick. The trailer didn’t promise much action. A historical biopic drama like this, not based on a battlefront, shouldn’t really have that sort of expectation. All that was just fine. The setting was immersive and highly nuanced. So much was happening in the background around the characters that told a story unto itself.
I had been a bit on the tired side before I started watching Munich: The Edge of War, but I was decidedly awake by the time the somber credits ran. This production kept me sufficiently at the edge of my seat with worry for the characters and dread for what I knew was coming in general. I appreciated how authentic it seemed as the pair of schoolmates put themselves in harm’s way to uncover the underlying German ruler’s deceit. If everyone in the movie was a slick and polished master of spycraft, it would have thrown off the balance.

Munich: The Edge of War provided an eerie window through which to view Hitler. The production deftly examined how someone so malevolently charismatic could ensnare the hopes and national pride of their people and then show their underlying darkness. The fear of the masses and the zeal of those that followed blindly were clear on the screen without it having to be overtly shoved in the audience’s face.
It was particularly chilling, having heard strikingly similar discussions happening in the real world around me in recent years.
The performances of the cast really resonated with me. Jeremy Irons fit the role of the elder statesman like a tailored glove. The pair of George MacKay and Jannis Niewöhner gave me goosebumps at a few points and nearly brought me to tears.

I have not read the book upon which Munich: The Edge of War was based, so I am unable to attest to how faithful this adaptation was. However, if the book is anything like this movie was – or better – it must be something powerful, indeed.
If you’ve a mind for history, and appreciate World War II stories, Munich: The Edge of War is an excellent addition to your Netflix watch list. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 84%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 77%
Metascore –53%
Metacritic User Score – 6.6/10
IMDB Score – 6.9/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 4/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
Movie Trailer: