Movie Reviews

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Black Rock
LD Entertainment
In Theaters: 05.17
 
What starts out as a brave comedy that isn’t afraid of offending anyone in the room quickly turns into a hackneyed horror film that follows a paint-by-numbers screenplay, which sadly offends everyone in the room … but for all of the wrong reasons. When three childhood friends (Katie Aselton, Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth), who’ve grown apart over the years, decide to spend a weekend together camping on a remote, wooded island, it would appear that their lives may have taken a turn for the better, but when an accident results in the death of a random acquaintance, the girls find themselves fighting for their lives far away from civilization. With most horror films, the antagonist must instill fear into the audience, or the production is a failure. Aselton does achieve a distressing tone with seclusion and an inability to escape death, but her biggest blunder comes in the form of her killer, played by Jay Paulson, who only inspires laughs rather than terror with his unbelievably campy performance. To make matters more pretentious, Aselton attempts to justify a scenario in which her main stars must romp around the island in the nude in order to survive, but, in the end, it comes across as gratuitous nudity that hasn’t been encouraged since the last Friday the 13th film––at least they acknowledged their superficiality. –Jimmy Martin
 
Dirty Wars
IFC Films
In Theaters: 06.07

Director Richard Rowley shadows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill into the secretive world of covert military operations in the Middle East as the United States attempts to win the war on terror no matter the means or consequences. It is a documentary about “the seen and the unseen,” according to Scahill’s monotone and dreary narration. After examining an attack on a small village in Afghanistan involving an American-trained Afghani police officer and two pregnant women, Scahill unearths an incredibly dark side to the armed forces’ actions, which, in turn, spirals into an out-of-control tale of illegal killings of innocent civilians spanning outside the war zone and into countries where no documented wars have been declared. Rowley and Scahill refuse to dilute the subject, and they shouldn’t, as they present images of the victims’ lifeless bodies sprawled across charred landscapes. These are certainly images that can’t be unseen or forgotten. With films like Zero Dark Thirty gaining critical acclaim as they concentrate on the more justified military actions, Rowley focuses on the darker side of combat as he chases a mysterious, elite group of soldiers known as the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) as they essentially take control of the entire war. With inside contacts revealing their horrifying encounters with the U.S. government’s past and current leaders, Rowley forces audiences to question whether, at times, they should be so proud to be an American. –Jimmy Martin