Oklahoma City (2017)

The largest act of domestic terrorism is the Oklahoma City bombing. It’s a travesty and a tragedy we must never forget lest it happen again. If you don’t know how or why this happened, this documentary would be an excellent way to find out. It’s streaming now on Netflix.

Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City

“The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995 is the worst act…” -IMDB

Directed by

Barak Goodman

Written by

Barak Goodman

Other Info

Documentary, History
Not Rated
IMDB Rating: 7.5

This was a History Channel documentary that was acquired by Netflix and is now streaming. I found it to be very well directed and edited. Putting thousands of clips together for a film like this has to be painstaking. They do an excellent job of interspersing time from the present to before the bombing to the events and climate that led up to Timothy McVeigh’s unspeakable act.

With a Republican in the White House now, it can seem trite to discuss gun rights. It’s a Republican interest and has been for centuries. But in the 90’s, there was a Democrat in the White House and for some odd unknown reasons, Republicans felt Bill Clinton and the system were determined to take their guns. This caused racist gun-rights focused groups to rise up. One religious based group was the following of David Koresh. I’m not equating Republicans with psychotics but they lay out how the climate starting a spark that became a bomb.

Most people over 40 will remember WACO and the Koresh cult standoff. This event is played out in detail through interviews, narration, news clips of the day, diagrams, maps, and animation.

People who are old enough but have forgotten the bombing should see this film. It shows how a twisted mind can nurture its own hate and how conspiracy theorist groups can nurture that mind to do unspeakable terrorism. I think we live in a time where we should all study these reasons. If we can find out the reasons, maybe we can spot the terrorists before they strike.

I was disturbed yet also very entertained by some aspects of this film. At the same time, it was educational in seeing into the mind of hate. The way it uses media to tell the story is remarkable. I know Republicans as a whole moan about their right to have assault weapons as such but I think this film will make them see this is not the best argument for freedm in our t. On the other hand, my wife noted to me that it would be scary if the government didn’t allow us to protect ourselves at all. So, I think there are neutral positions in the film that allow the viewer to make her/his own decisions. I recommend this or anyone over say 9 or 10 years old. Even still, kids that young should see it with a parent handy to explain some of the twisted violent stuff.


My review Oklahoma City (2017) appeared first on Riley on Film.

Somewhere in the Middle (2015)

This film is streaming now on Netflix. Why do lovers do what they do? What if you knew what happened ten minutes before a breakup, what would you do differently? The viewer gets that opportunity in several situations in this film and that makes it a compelling, alluring comedy, romance, drama. By splicing in what happened before and a little after scenes, we see the situations twice and we have more insight into the relationships on-screen.

The director, Lanre Olabisi, is not clearly known by name but he does a great job in this independent drama. It’s a delight to find relationship films that really work like this that are in the independent realm. I hope to see more from him.
Charles Miller is the strongest actor in the film. There are also some honorable mentions in the talents of Cassandra Freeman and Marisol Miranda.
In the story, Sofia is a relationship addict and is seeing a therapist in his home office. On her first visit she meets someone in the home who she is not clear the identity of. The brother of the therapist is having troubles with his marriage and appears to be the stalker sort. As more is revealed, initial scenes reveal a truth “somewhere in the middle” about these characters. It’s true to life because sometimes when we know more of the whole story, we realize first impressions are not always the truth.

I liked the characters and the story was well written. Some of the sex scenes are a little brazen and therefore unbelievable but for the most parts, I felt the characters could be real people. I identified with some of the significant parts because they were true to life.

This film is streaming now on Netflix. It’s a gem in the romantic drama genre. If you’re looking for a film to talk about with your wife/husband/spouse, this is a good one for that. It is an independent small budget film with no movie stars but the performances are solid along with the writing (also written by the director). For fans of the genre(s), though there isn’t much comedy here, I recommend this film.


My review Somewhere in the Middle (2015) appeared first on Riley on Film.

Creep (2014)

This film is now streaming on Netflix.

“Take the knife, and don’t be afraid to murder with it.” -Joseph

The “found footage” genre strikes again. This time we have a psychotic in our face most the movie. The movie scares because it is plausible. While we may not be able to divine his intentions, the “creep” does everything in a way that is believable, possible. When blood is shed, we don’t question the possibility.

Creep (2015)
Patrick Brice

as Aaron

Mark Duplass

as Joseph

Directed by
Patrick Brice
Written by
Patrick Brice, Mark Duplass
Other Info

Drama, Horror
Rated R
1h 17min

This movie could really happen. The plot is a twenty something dude answers an ad for a job filming another dude. The work is one day and it pays $1,000 cash. I imagine a lot of people could use the money and would therefore show up for an interview. Aaron, played by Patrick Brice, does just that. When he gets to the address, he finds a vacation cabin of sorts, not fully secluded. He soon finds out the motives of the employer and much more than just to film him.

Creep becomes a character study in boundaries in a similar way to “The Cable Guy” where Jim Carrey was the Creep. The difference is, this film is horror. Aaron, played by the actual director of the film, misses several opportunities to escape. It’s almost as if he doesn’t want to hurt the Creep’s feeling. Would you rather hurt someone’s feelings or be killed? I think the answer is pretty obvious. At the same time, we humans hate confrontation and so Aaron, as a human, avoids confrontation and plays along.

I’ve seen Mark Duplass in several movies, my favorite being “The One I Love.” He’s a great actor and his ability to shoot lines like a firehose is shown in this film. He is clearly disturbed but the main character Aaron wants to find out just how much. Ultimately, as Aaron tries to get away, the plot becomes a hunt. I enjoyed the thriller aspect of this film but I wondered a lot why it was tagged horror. There were no dismemberments or zombies. It was just Aaron and Joseph talking through mountains of dialog (most Joseph’s)

I’m really not to keen on the found footage genre. Still, this movie used it well. Everything made sense, that it could have happened and been edited together. It lost a point for not being innovative. How many times have we seen the stalker befriend and kidnap someone? It lost another point for calling itself horror. There is a scene or two you could describe as such, but I think it’s better archived as a draa. Fr those reasons I gave it a 3/5. I recommend it if you can’t find anything else to watch. Trust me, there are plenty of movies I wouldn’t recommend as such, this is a good movie.

My review Creep (2014) appeared first on Riley on Film.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011)

Extremes in geology have always amazed me like how lava is melted rock. To watch a film about caves and paintings that are 32,000 years old, captivated me. Werner Herzog did an amazing job explaining and presenting these ghostly artifacts.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams“Werner Herzog gains exclusive access to film inside the Chauvet caves of Southern France and captures the oldest known pictorial creations of humanity.” -IMDB


Werner Herzog Himself/Narrator
Jean Clottes Himself
Julien Monney Himself
Jean-Michel Geneste Himself

Directed by

Werner Herzog

Written by

Werner Herzog

Other Info

Documentary, History
Fri 25 Mar 2011 UTC
IMDB Rating: 7.4

Among other arcane effects in these drawings, the most alluring to me was the “animated” horse head. The cave person tried to make the animal appear as it does in life, moving.

I think about the significance of the years gone by. We lie about 100 years in one lifetime. 32,000 divided by one lifetime then is 320 lives back to back, one death signaling a birth every 100 years and so on, 320 times. All those lifetimes ago, someone painted these cave walls. The film takes you into the caves and tells you haunting stories that summon images of people like us, living and creating art.

An archaeologist explains in vivid detail the mental anguish he suffered being in the cave for weeks doing studies. It’s one of the most powerful moments in the film for me. I can almost feel what he’s talking about. Seeing what they painted without seeing them. He is, and so are we through the film, observing a way of life portrayed in images without having anyone connected with and living it to explain.

If their way of life seems simple to us now, how will future generations view ours? In fact, will ours have any artifacts at all?

This is an example of a perfectly done documentary film. I highly recommend it.


My review Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011) appeared first on Riley on Film.

The Hunger Games

I wrote this in 2012 when this film was relatively new. I repost it now as a bit of nostalgia.

the-hunger-games-posterMore buzz is out on a famous bestselling book that was made into a major motion picture. Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games may end up rivaling Stephenie Meir’s Twilight Saga. It is expected to earn 250 million after this first weekend and by those terms it’s an indisputable success. It was directed by Gary Ross known for Pleasantville and Big. It stars Jennifer Lawrence as protagonist Katniss Everdeen and Josh Hutcherson as her love interest Peeta Mellark. There are a handful of other major actors which includes Woody Harrelson as Katniss’ coach, Haymitch Abernathy. When someone reads a book, she/he wants a personal experience. When someone watches a movie made from a book, it’s no guarantee they’ll have the same experience. My guess is the only people crying in the theater will be the ones who’ve read the book first.

I’m in a position to make that statement because my wife and son who I saw the film with have both read the Hunger Games. As for me, I had very little exposure to the story and characters. I had seen Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone a few years back and really appreciated her talent in that. Otherwise, they were the experts on the Hunger Games and I saw it with ignorant eyes. I found it well crafted and suspenseful but for me it lacked the backstory and character development to really move my emotions. My wife and son had a different experience. They loved it on a visceral level and to quote my wife she, “got everything she wanted” from the film adaptation of the novel.

The Hunger Games is a story about a government that places a select number of its citizens in a survivalist arena where only one emerges alive as the winner. They call this event the Hunger Games. It is meant both to punish the lower class for attempting to revolt and thereby entertain the wealthy, ruling class. Katniss volunteers to be in the bloody games in the place of her young sister who is selected by lottery. Once the players are selected, the majority of the movie consists of people killing each other off. The “players” hate the government and yet turn into murderers immediately upon beginning the games. There is a winner and after the win, the movie ends quite abruptly. Sequel anyone? Based on box office results, I think that’s inevitable.

Jennifer Lawrence delivers an entrancing performance. I really “believed” she was Katniss in the Hunger Games due to her incredible acting. There is really only one other actor who delivers a strong performance, Woody Harrelson. As Katniss’ coach he has relatively less screen time. Still, we have his backstory: he won the games at one time so we know he has killed and lived to tell about it. The rest of the characters are extremely flat with, again, little or no backstory. I assume there is more character development in the novel but when you have that many people killing each other, it helps to know why they think the way they do.

Are people truly that bent on living that they will kill to appease rulers and entertain the rich? I think these killings are rather gratuitous. There is one killing they did right: a little girl was killed, which was a horrendous act against a child. When her killer was taken out, someone in the audience cheered. I agreed with him. They gave a backstory, built up anger against a character’s actions and then killed her off. If all the killings were treated that way I would have liked it more. despite its shortcomings with me, The Hunger Games has wonderful cinematography and special effects. People who know the book well will probably like it more but most who haven’t will probably like this movie just for its action and fantasy.

My review The Hunger Games appeared first on Riley on Film.