THE OPPORTUNITY TO CREATE FOND memories the past year has been a challenge for many of us. The ability to be with friends and family was hampered because of the restrictions placed due to the pandemic. I realized this when I tried carryout food from an unfamiliar restaurant for the first time. When I walked into the place to pickup my order, I was struck with the similarities the place had with a restaurant I used to go to when I was growing up. There were orange, fake leather booths along the walls with various sized tables in the middle of the room. They even had the same kind of lighting hanging down that I remembered when I was a kid. They were oversized, circular colored paper lanterns that gave off a subdued warm glow. I was so surprised by the restaurant’s interior that I felt like I had been transported back to my youth, sitting in a booster chair at our neighborhood restaurant. Adding to my memories, was the food I had ordered. When I brought it home and opened all the packages, the aromas and look of the different foods reminded me so much of the food I enjoyed years ago. It was almost like I was having an out of body experience. It was this that made me realize how much I missed not socializing with friends and family over food, let alone just doing things together. THAT NUDGE OF A MEMORY LED me down a path filled with nostalgia. One weekend I bought one of my favorite childhood cereals. When I was little, I would pour the cereal in a bowl, then fill the bowl up with milk and let it sit for a couple of minutes. I wanted the milk to sweeten up from the sugar that was a major ingredient of the cereal. My favorite thing to do after I had eaten all the cereal was to ladle the remaining sweet milk into my mouth. If I did not have the time, I would just drink the milk right out of the bowl. Weirdly, I can still remember the commercials that aired back then that were for my favorite cereals; favorite meaning any cereal that had sugar. Besides visiting the foods of my childhood, I started going through my photo albums; yes photo albums, that date back to when the only option to take a photograph was the use of a roll of film. There were so many memories stored in my photo albums that the past months seemed to go by faster and easier. And just as things are beginning to open back up around me, I find this documentary to watch that reminded me of one of my favorite pastimes. BEFORE THERE WAS SUCH A THING as streaming or YouTube, there was a blue and yellow store that was filled with every movie you could ever have imagined. It was my 2ndhome. Narrated by Lauren Lapkus (Jurassic World, Orange is the New Black-TV), directed by Taylor Morden (Here’s to Life: The Story of the Refreshments, Project 88: Back to the Future Too) and written by Zeke Kamm (My Life as a Teenage Robot-TV, The Weird Al Show-TV); this film festival winner was such a treat for me to watch. I cannot tell you how many times I would stop at a Blockbuster store to rent a film. The largest number of movies I rented at one time was 10. If you are at all familiar with the Blockbuster store, then you will enjoy seeing this movie. For those who are not familiar, chances are you will get bored with parts of this picture. There was a repetitive quality to the script, where celebrities like Kevin Smith and Jamie Kennedy were essentially saying the same thing about their experiences going to a Blockbuster store. Still, I had a good time remembering all the things I would do in search of a movie to rent. And I am not going to lie here, but if the opportunity presented itself to me, I would absolutely love to visit this last Blockbuster store.
2 ½ stars
As you may know I am not a major fan of the horror film genre. Part of the reason has to do with the characters that are employed for the story. I do not find zombies, mutants, vampires or any other such fictional beings to be inherently frightening. Sure their actions may make me squirm in my seat; however, I find reality can be scarier than fiction. When riding public transportation I no longer have my cell phone or MP3 player visible. When there is snow and ice on the road I am scared of aggressive drivers who cut in front or tailgate me, making no allowances for winter conditions. There is another group of people that truly frighten me. Individuals with fanatical, extreme views make me uncomfortable. I have witnessed their hateful actions. As far as they are concerned if you do not follow their beliefs then you are damned. For me this is scarier than any horror movie I have seen until now. In this film festival winning movie, writer and director Kevin Smith (Clerks franchise, Chasing Amy) put his own spin in creating this horror tale. After setting up an online date to meet Sara, played by Melissa Leo (Prisoners, The Fighter); friends Travis, Jarod and Billy Ray, played by Michael Angarano (Almost Famous, Sky High), Kyle Gallner (Jennifer’s Body, Beautiful Creatures) and Nicholas Braun (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Watch), headed out to meet her for a good time. The boys did not know Sara was part of a radical fundamentalist group that was on the radar of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. This action thriller surprised me with the way it took something that could have easily been in the news and twisted it to a bigger extreme. Besides having the very capable Melissa Leo easily handling her character, I felt the movie received a boost by the presence of John Goodman (Argo, Inside Llewyn Davis) as federal agent Joseph Keenan. If you believe people could not be so extreme with their beliefs then you might not enjoy this action thriller. I found the story credible and could see it taking place, though maybe not to the level it reached; at least I hope so. As a complete film I found a few parts that did not make much sense; maybe it was trying to be satirical and I was not sure. For the fact this was a different take on the horror genre, it kept my interest even with several bloody scenes. Putting the idea for this story in proper perspective, one only has to take a look at our history of the past several decades. I cannot think of any recent horror film that would be scarier than encountering some of the characters in this bloody movie.
2 1/4 stars — DVD