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Movie: Phoenix (2014)
Rating: *1/2 out of *****
Notes: A woman rescued from a concentration camp shortly after WW2 has reconstructive surgery that leaves her features altered. She searches for her husband who does not recognize her and he turns out to be a different person than she remembers. This is an extremely passive film that consists mainly of the main character walking around, stunned. However, the events she experiences are relatively mundane, albeit unethical. Perhaps it's supposed to be shocking, but the conflict as presented is relatively mild and far beneath any level to explain her reaction to it. Other events of significance occur with no explanation or consequence, and the climax lacks any sort of gravitas moments before the credits roll. The viewer is abandoned in the middle of a revelatory scene that has no punch whatsoever, without resolution. Slow and only vaguely interesting, there's very little substance to fill the 90 minutes.

Movie: Turbo Kid (2015)
Rating: ***1/2 out of *****
Notes: A big mishmash of genres, "Turbo Kid" combines 80's parody, Mad Max, kid-friendly adventure, and gorefest into one heaping pile of cornball. A dystopian Earth where transportation is entirely by BMX bike, a kid thrives alone in the wasteland until he meets a drifter and an overzealous girl. What follows is a rather spot-on satire of late 70s/early 80s sci-fi, including good ol' standby Michael Ironside as the bad guy, looking only a little worse for the wear. It tries to be an homage more often than comedy, so it's more silly than laugh-out-loud, but it also tries to be a gross-out just as much. It looks innocent enough, but the over-the-top ick could rival some Living Dead films with its frequency. The contrasting cheerfulness added by the female lead makes for a complicated tone, and the cheesy acting chops are perfectly nostalgic. If you want a bad movie night, this is a great opportunity for something both bad and new - and not that bad!

Movie: Love Is Strange (2014)
Rating: *1/2 out of *****
Notes: Have you ever wanted to see John Lithgow and Alfred Molina smooching? Then have I got the movie for you! Two recently-married gay men in New York City find themselves temporarily separated and homeless after the breadwinner is fired from his church job, and they both search for new digs. Except there's not much searching or agonizing or emotional drama going on at all. Merely two mildly depressed people doing...stuff. Getting together when they can for outings to dinner or the opera. Being an annoyance to their crash pad hosts. Interacting with people. Mundane things that have no bearing on the plot. And it just goes on like this for the entire film. When the somewhat expected occurs at the end, it's completely skipped over as if the film is afraid to wet its feet with some real drama, and then it just kills time with 5-10 minutes of kids biking in the sun for no reason. Perhaps this is supposed to be a light, social drama, but there's not enough there to comprise a movie. It it weren't Lithgow and Molina, I can't imagine there'd be anything notable left to watch.

Next: Honeymoon, The Two Faces of January, Bad Turn Worse

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