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John Allman

If you’ve ever wandered the aisles at the video store or surfed the DVR pay-per-view options and seen a bunch of movies that you’ve never heard of, chances are John has watched them. Why? He loves movies. All kinds of movies. Good, bad, so-bad-they’re good, even the truly unwatchable ones. He mostly loves horror and science-fiction and drive-in exploitation movies that most upstanding model citizens wouldn’t dare watch. Then he writes up his thoughts so you can decide - watch, don’t watch or avoid at all costs. Sometimes he even gets to talk to the cool folks who make some of your favorite films.

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New Releases for Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Posted Apr 29, 2012 by John Allman

Updated Apr 29, 2012 at 01:26 PM

What’s new in stores and on video shelves this week:

The Innkeepers
Genre: Ghost Story
Directed by: Ti West
Run time: 101 minutes
Rating: R
Format: Blu-Ray

The Lowdown: Ti West continues his streak.

“The Innkeepers” is a methodical, deliberate, highly-nuanced ghost story that caters to both the believers and the skeptics while delivering abundant, unexpected laughs, several genuinely scary moments and a crap-ton of thought-provoking ideas to ponder.

West is unlike most directors working today.

He approaches his craft from a completely different perspective. There is never just one idea at play in his films. West’s movies operate on multiple levels, often polar opposites, which allows for a richer level of appreciation. His characters evolve in ways that most Hollywood tent pole pictures couldn’t understand. He’s adept at spilling blood, but you can tell that isn’t his sole motivation, even when he’s dealing with malicious paranormal spirits.

The coolest trick of “The Innkeepers” is that it’s not just a movie about ghost hunting gone bad. It’s just as much a movie about bored ghosts being poked relentlessly by a naïve ghost hunter to the point that they retaliate in brutal fashion after all their warnings have been ignored.

That’s unlike anything that’s come along in, well, forever.

To understand West’s approach to movie making, and his thoughts on the specific ideas at play in “The Innkeepers,” go check out BVB’s interview with him.

And, if you have yet to see this film, stop reading and go rent it. Now. Was that too bossy? Now go!

The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Perky cute, yes.
Nudity – No.
Gore – Minimal.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – It’s all in how you perceive it.
Buy/Rent – Buy it.
Blu-Ray Bonus Features – Two audio commentaries, Behind-the-Scene feature, theatrical trailer.
On the Web –

Contraband (Universal, 110 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): Mark Wahlberg is unlike most movie stars. He’s likable, he’s rarely in the news for some personal slip-up and he has become one of our go-to guys for a specific type of movie.

He’s a B-movie king with A-list celebrity.

“Contraband,” his latest, dependably solid popcorn flick, is about a top-notch smuggler (Wahlberg) who always thinks one step ahead of law enforcement by hiding the ‘contraband’ in places they never think to look.

But his character, Chris Farraday, has given up the smuggling life in hopes of settling down with his smoking hot wife, played by Kate Beckinsale, and their two sons.

Of course he has! If he had really given up, there’d be no movie.

Into their lives comes a tornado in the form of Beckinsale’s brother, who has screwed up a smuggling job. Marky Mark agrees to help keep her brother from being killed, and signs up for ‘one last job.’ He asks his best friend, played by Ben Foster (who is sadly becoming typecast in the best friend/is he a good guy or bad guy role), to watch over his wife, and he sets out on a freighter ship to South America.

“Contraband” is like two movies playing simultaneously. There’s the tale of the smuggler on the high seas, which is interesting as we watch Wahlberg and his motley crew find hiding places on a big boat, and try to evade the ship’s captain, with whom he has history.

And then there’s the domestic thriller back at home where Farraday’s family is being menaced by an absolutely crazed Giovanni Ribisi, whose N’awlins-inspired, white trash thug comes off like a meth-and-oxy-fueled mash-up of Eminem and Snidely Whiplash with awful bayou inflection. Ribisi is a hoot, though.

A lot happens in “Contraband,” but it doesn’t actually feel like much. The car chases are so-so. The menacing and threatening is ok. The couple of twists at the end are done well, but they aren’t anything new. Wahlberg never even pulls a gun to draw down on someone. Few people die, which is actually refreshing.

“Contraband” is a perfectly fine, perfectly enjoyable B-style action movie. Wahlberg delivers another solid performance. Everyone is engaged. It’s just lacking something, and I’m not sure if what’s missing is on purpose to make “Contraband” seem more authentic and real-life, or if they really didn’t realize the film needed more Oomph.

Also Available:

The Wicker Tree – Robin Hardy returns to his most famous, cult classic. He doesn’t bring Nicolas Cage. People might actually watch this.

Dark Tide – Halle Berry wears slightly more than she did in “Swordfish,” and she battles sharks. Didn’t this woman win an Oscar? What the hell happened?

Let the Bullets Fly – Chow Yun Fat! ‘Nuff said. You will watch this one just for that, and you should.

Marvel Animated Features 3-Movie Collection  – Get your fanboy stoked pre-“The Avengers” with this trio of Marvel superheroes, including Iron Man, The Hulk and Doctor Strange.

Ultimate Avengers Movie Collection – Hey, do you think a big-budget summer movie is about to come out? Nah, we’re just re-re-releasing these animated “Avengers” films for the heck of it.

Iron Man: Anime and X-Men: Anime - Even more tie-ins.

Night Wolf – Harry Potter fans, take note. Tom Felton co-stars in this woeful-looking werewolf tale.

Titanic: The Complete Story – Spoiler alert, the boat sinks!


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