Main Page
Alphabetical Menu
Chronological Menu

Reviews for June 26th, 2015

Big Game

Directed by Jalmari Helander

      Tapio (Jorma Tomilla) takes his 13-year-old son, Oskari (Onni Tommila), to a Finnish mountaintop where he strands him for 24 hours as part of a traditional right of passage ritual. Oskari must bring back with him some kind of trophy. Little does he know what he'll end up bringing back with him. When missiles shoot down Air Force One, President William Allen Moore (Samuel L. Jackson) lands deep in the Finnish forrest, and meets Oskari. He goes on the run from those who conspired to shoot him down: Secret Service agent Morris (Ray Stevenson) and Hazar (Mehmet Kurtulus), the son of an oil sheik.

      Writer/director Jalmari Helander lowers the implausability of the plot as it progresses, but concurrently kicks up the fun. In other words, it's delighfully implausible. The stitled dialogue and silly, over-the-top action scenes can be forgiven if you suspend your disbelief. Big Game is an effective B-movie because, unlike Mad Max or Jurassic World, it knows that it's a B-movie, so it's unrepentant from start to finish. Helander establishes just the right tone from the opening scenes, and doesn't try to veer into heart-tugging, schmaltzy territory---he understands that there's no room for having the film take itself too seriously. The pace moves briskly enough so that you're rarely if ever bored, and the running time of 90 minutes means that it never overstays its welcome. Big Game's biggest asset, though is the scene-chewing Samuel L. Jackson. He's great with one-liners, has decent chemistry with Oskari, and knows how to be bad-ass in a sort of tongue-in-cheek, campy way. If you liked him in Snakes on a Plane and Kingsman, you'll love him in this Just be sure to check your brain at the door beforehand and to consume an alcoholic beverage or two while watching it.

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Eurocorp USA.
Opens at AMC Empire.

A Borrowed Identity

Directed by Eran Riklis


Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Strand Releasing.
Opens at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.

Escobar: Paradise Lost

Directed by Andrea Di Stefano


Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by RADiUS-TWC.
Opens at Village East Cinema.

Gone Doggy Gone

Directed by Brandon Walter and Kasi Brown


Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Indican Pictures.
Opens at Arena Cinema in Los Angeles.

A Little Chaos

Directed by Alan Rickman


Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Focus World.
Opens at AMC Empire 25.

The Little Death

Directed by Josh Lawson


Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Magnolia Pictures.
Opens at Landmark Sunshine Cinema.


Directed by Kimberly Levin

      Betty (Joanne Kelly) and Frank (Neal Huff) live with their two son, Finley (Alex Shaffer) and Sam (Kivlighan de Montebello), in a rural town, and own a business, Freemanís Farm Supply, selling to small local farmers. Their livelihood gets threatened when a commercial farm supply company, GIGAS, steals away their clients by promising to buy the small farmers' livestock in exchange for installing GIGAS farming supplies. Facing increasing debts and the foreclosure of their home, the Freemans get an opportunity to make some quick cash when a local farmer, Scratch (Tom Bower), approaches them with an offer to pay a hefty sum if they agree to help him illegally dispose expired chemicals. Betty accepts the offer without the approval of her husband. On the one hand, the film explores the issue of the decay of nature, but it's just as much about the decay of human nature.

      Unlike many modern American thrillers, Runoff takes its time to establish atmosphere, and moves along at a slow, natural pace. Writer/director Kimberly Levin deserves kudos for knowing when to trust the audience's patience and intelligence. She keeps exposition to a minimum and humanism/naturalism to a maximum which gives the film very European sensibilities. The quiet moments feel quite powerful as you observe the striking images thanks to the exquisite cinematography. You'll also find an interesting use of symbolism that doesn't hit you over the head. Levin wisely focuses on the details of the Freemans' struggles; there's nothing "Hollywood" about this film at all. Every scene resonates with realism along with an increasing sense of dread.

      Joanne Kelly's rich, convincingly moving performance further enhances the realism, but most importantly help to hook you in emotionally and keep you captivated. Her performance toward the end as the plot veers into quite dark territory is superb---her body language and facial expressions speak volumes louder than words as her character gradually transforms into someone very different than what you might expect from the first few scenes. Everyone in the film is well-cast, even those in smaller roles, so not a single scene rings false. Levin should also be commended for avoiding the use of narration, flashbacks, preachiness, pretension and spoon-feeding the audience. At an ideal running time of 90 minutes, Runoff is an intelligent, sophisticated and mesmerizing slow-burn thriller that's grounded in humanism. Patient viewers will be rewarded the most.

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Monterey Media.
Opens at Village East Cinema.
Questions? Comments? Please click here.

Main Page
Alphabetical Menu
Chronological Menu

Avi Offer
The NYC Movie Guru
Privacy Policy