Movie Review: “Kill Me Three Times”

Starring
Simon Pegg, Teresa Palmer, Sullivan Stapleton, Alice Braga, Callan Mulvey, Luke Hemsworth, Bryan Brown
Director
Kriv Stenders

“Kill Me Three Times” is the sort of Quentin Tarantino poser film that peaked in the early ‘00s, when Blockbuster was still the king of home video. That’s how dated director Kriv Stenders’ latest movie feels, and unlike Tarantino’s oeuvre (as well as the really good imitators, like Guy Ritchie’s “Lock, Stock” and “Snatch”), it lacks the colorful dialogue or characters to make up for its derivative story. Though Stenders deserves some credit for assembling such a game cast, the film never quite comes together. “Kill Me Three Times” wants to be both a dark comedy and a stylish crime thriller, but the contrasting tones only end up stifling one another, underlining just how few genuine laughs and thrills that it has to offer.

Set in a sun-drenched coastal town of Australia, the movie stars Simon Pegg as Charlie Wolfe, a professional hitman who’s been hired to follow a woman named Alice (Alice Braga) when her abusive husband (Callan Mulvey) suspects her of having an affair with the local mechanic (Luke Hemsworth). After Charlie delivers proof of Alice’s adultery and is asked to finish the job by killing her, Charlie learns that he may not have to get his hands dirty at all when he stumbles upon a plot by his client’s sister (Teresa Palmer) and her meek dentist husband (Sullivan Stapleton) to settle a large gambling debt by killing Alice as part of an elaborate insurance scam. Charlie’s biggest problem is believing he can trust a couple of amateurs to do a professional’s job, setting into motion a cycle of murder, blackmail and revenge that reaches as far as the town’s crooked police officer (Bryan Brown).

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Jesse Malin is back with “New York Before the War”

jesse_marlin

It’s been five years since Jesse Malin’s last album of original material was released. The time since has seen him tour the world numerous times and reunite with his old band, D Generation, among other things. But finally, the time is here and his new release has been unleashed for us to immerse ourselves in.

“New York Before the War” is an excellent collection of songs that spans a wide range of styles. Taken as a piece, the 13 tracks on this new release are of higher quality than most artists best-of collections. One after another, the tunes come at you in a range of styles. Highlights include “She Don’t Love Me Now,” a song with so much Rolling Stones-like swagger and sway you can imagine Mick singing it, but then you remember that the Stones haven’t recorded anything damn near this good in 30-plus years; “Oh Sheena,” an ode to The Ramones that also has some flourishes that bring to mind “Summerteeth”-era Wilco; and “Turn Up The Mains,” which has a building intensity that feels like it’s going to launch into another sonic stratosphere, but instead teases and tempts your ears with a consistent attack. The first time I heard Jesse road-test “Bar Life” almost two years ago, my jaw dropped. It was not only a gorgeous tune that sounded unlike anything else in his canon, but it also happened to feel like a perfect album closer. As it turns out, it does close “New York Before The War” in beautiful fashion. The first thing I want to do the minute it ends is play the album again from the top.

The biggest difference between Jesse’s previous releases and “New York Before the War” is scope of sound. His debut solo release, “The Fine Art of Self Destruction,” had the feel and isolation of Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” filtered through the less minimal sound of Joni Mitchell’s “Blue.” 2010’s “Love It to Life” showed more of a biting edge and inched slightly closer to the sound of his old band than his solo work in some aspects. Each of his other albums also had a feel unto themselves. “New York Before the War” has all of that and so much more. Be it an overt ode to the Ramones, hints of Cheap Trick and the Mermen, or the simple fact that New York oozes from every pore. With this offering, Jesse has made an album that is both his most diverse and most New York to date. The influences are there and they are many, but more than anything, this album is pure, unadulterated Jesse Malin at his best. Is this his masterpiece? I’m a believer that time decides those things. I’ll tell you this: it sure sounds like a masterpiece, and it’s quite easily the best new release I’ve heard by anyone in quite some time.

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Shinola Watches – Made in Detroit

Shinola Blue Watch

While everyone else may be talking about a new watch from Apple, there are incredible watches made right here in American that you should be checking out as well.

The Runwell pictured above is a classic, hand-assembled watch made in Detroit by Shinola. Features of the watch include:

– A sapphire crystal, Super-LumiNova printed dial details
– A solid stainless steel case with screw down crown
– Three hands and date indicator driven by the Detroit-built Argonite 1069 high-accuracy quartz movement
– Laser-etched case and etched lightning bolt on the buckle

If you like attention to detail and beautiful styling, you’re going to love these watches. Browse the Shinola site for watches, and then check out their leather goods as well, along with the bicycles!

It’s great to see companies like Shanola bring manufacturing and quality back to the domestic market. The products aren’t cheap, but you’re still getting excellent value for your money.

  

Blu Tuesday: A Most Violent Year, The Voices and More

Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on Facebook and Twitter with your friends.

“A Most Violent Year”

WHAT: Set in New York City during 1981, Abel Morales (Oscar Morales) finds his heating oil company embroiled in a turf war at the worst time possible. He’s just gone into escrow on a waterfront fuel yard that could take his business to the next level, but when a young district attorney (David Oyelowo) launches an investigation into Abel’s company, everything that he’s worked so hard to create threatens to come tumbling down.

WHY: Over the course of three movies, J.C. Chandor has established himself as one of the most promising American filmmakers of his generation, and “A Most Violent Year” is his best one yet. A smartly directed character study of a man fighting to uphold the antiquated ideals of the American Dream, the movie is very much a product of its time period, owing a lot to the work of Sidney Lumet and other 1970s classics like “The French Connection” and “The Godfather.” You’d never imagine that a film about the heating oil industry could be so absorbing, yet that’s exactly what makes “A Most Violent Year” so unique, defying the typical gangster movie conventions every chance it gets. Oscar Isaac has never been better, commanding the screen with an ice-cold intensity that evokes Al Pacino in his prime, while Jessica Chastain delivers a deliciously fierce turn as his mob-connected wife. Much like last year’s underrated crime drama “The Drop,” “A Most Violent Year” is the kind of movie that Hollywood doesn’t make often enough, but with brave new voices like Chandor behind the camera, it’s hard to argue against the need for more just like it.

EXTRAS: In addition to an audio commentary by writer/director J.C. Chandor and producers Neal Dodson and Anna Gerb, there’s a pair of production featurettes, an interview with stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, and some deleted scenes.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

“The Voices”

WHAT: Jerry Hickfang (Ryan Reynolds) is a socially awkward but overall nice guy who’s just trying to lead a normal life in the wake of a family tragedy. But when he gets stood up by office crush Fiona (Gemma Arterton), only to cross paths with her later that night, he inadvertently murders her in the middle of the woods. At least, he thinks it’s an accident, but Jerry hasn’t been taking his meds lately, which is why he’s starting to hear voices – namely, his loyal dog Bosco and sociopathic cat Mr. Whiskers – urging him to kill again.

WHY: Ryan Reynolds has had some really bad luck with blockbuster filmmaking (see: “Green Lantern,” “R.I.P.D.”), but he’s delivered some of his best work on the other end of the spectrum in small indies like “Buried” and “The Captive,” and that trend continues with “The Voices,” a flawed but amusing dark comedy that plays like a strange mix between “Doctor Dolittle” and “American Psycho.” The movie is unlike anything the actor has done before, channeling Norman Bates as the sweet but creepy schizophrenic in addition to voicing the pets that serve as Jerry’s very own shoulder angel and devil. It’s his interactions with them, as well as the reanimated severed heads of his victims that he keeps stored in the refrigerator, that produce some of the best moments, putting Reynolds’ deadpan comic delivery to great use while still allowing the actor to challenge himself in a more nuanced role. Though the film straddles a fine line due to its off-kilter tone, Reynolds and the supporting cast (including Gemma Arterton and Anna Kendrick) do just enough to make “The Voices” an enjoyably weird genre flick with an unexpected dash of humanity.

EXTRAS: There are four production featurettes that cover the making of the movie, the many voices provided by Ryan Reynolds and visual effects, as well some animatics, deleted and extended scenes, and a cast and costume sketch gallery.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

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First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Golf R

SAN DIEGO – The high-powered, low-volume 2015 Volkswagen Golf R could play a big role in getting the German automaker’s U.S. sales back on the good foot. That would mean more VWs rolling out of showroom doors.

Here’s the deal: the VW Golf recently was named Car of the Year by two very prestigious organizations. Now, the Volkswagen Golf R helps to fill out a lineup that includes the regular Golf, a performance version of that compact car, a diesel powered Golf and an electric Golf. A station wagon is on the way, but we came here to test drive the Golf R. It is the high-powered version of this car.

By the numbers, this Golf R has a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood that makes292 horsepower and 280 pound feet of torque. It’s mated to a direct sequential gearing, read six-speed dual clutch, automatic transmission branded (DSG). This version goes on sale in the spring. It will be joined by a six-speed manual Golf R this summer that will be sold as a 2016 model; it will about $1,000 less than the automatic.

With the fast-shifting DSG, the Golf R can get to 60 mph from a standing start in a blistering 4.9 seconds and it has a top track speed of 155 mph. Because of low sales for the two-door Golf R in the past, the 2015 version will only be sold in this market as a four-door. Mileage is expected to be 23 mpg in the city, more than 30 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined.

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