Movie Review: “The House with a Clock in Its Walls”

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Some myths die harder than others.

But the self-sustaining hype of horror mogul Eli Roth was never much more than smoke and torture porn mirrors. Removed from that hype and outside of his narrow genre, as “Death Wish” made clear and “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” emphatically underlines, Eli Roth is mendacious mediocrity in movie director form.

A stillborn kiddie fright-fest that sucks the through the residual goodwill of Jack Black and Oscar winner Cate Blanchett in about 30 increasingly airless minutes, Roth’s adaptation of  John Bellairs (script by that titan of cinematic letters, Eric Kripke) is an essay in “I don’t know how to make this work.”

It’s deathly slow, deadly-dull and makes one long for the days when it looked like he was shifting, full-time, into producing. As a director, Roth is Brett Ratner without #MeToo problems. And Brett Ratner, at least, knows that comedies and comic thrillers have to have pace.

In 1955, ten year-old Lewis (Owen Vacarro of “Daddy’s Home”) is packed off to New Zebedee, Michigan with a set of bow-ties, a pair of Captain Midnight goggles, two silver dollars and a bus ticket. His uncle Jonathan (Jack Black) has brought him there after the death of the kid’s parents.

And Lewis, in mourning still, trying to communicate with his mom (Jonathan’s sister) and dad through his Magic 8-Ball, doesn’t know what he’s in for.

Jonathan picks him up in colorful attire.

“Is that a robe?”

“It’s a KIMONO.”

The house is this Queen Anne revival relic that the local kids call “The Slaughter House.” And everything about it is weird, from the self-playing organ and animated stained glass windows to the whimpering, puppy of a chair and the sphinx topiary that’s always pooping in the garden.

“Use the LITTER box!”

Jonathan’s neighbor Florence (Blanchett) is, like him, strange. Turns out he’s a warlock and she’s a witch. And their lovably-testy banter (“Tired old hag!”) promises a movie with the American whimsy and democratic meritocracy that the insufferable “Chosen One” Harry Potter movies lacked.

Lewis will learn the dark arts and earn his way into the profession, picking up life lessons about when to use magic and when not, the morality of unfair advantages and how it can help you realize who your true friends are.

Alas, no.

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Roth and his screenwriter make an utter hash of things, leaning almost entirely on special effects and overly baroque production design for entertainment value. There’s a lot of gawking at this monstrous Jack’O Lantern or that galaxy contained in a reflecting pool, glimpses of this critter and lessons on that spell.

Just like the worst of the Potter pictures.

The sweet spot here would have parked this somewhere between “Goosebumps” and “Goonies,” with Roth providing genuine frights for the little dears. He never finds that sweet spot.

The driving force of the story, that there’s this evil wizard’s clock hidden inside the walls, is never more than an afterthought. Kyle MacLachlan, playing that dead-spell-tosser in flashbacks and in moments of post-necromancy menace, has nothing funny or threatening to do.

The odd laugh interrupts the tedium, a classmate running for class president (Sunny Suljic of “The Killing of a Sacred Deer’) warning Lewis about the ax murder potential in that uncle — “I’m just trying to help us both out. You can’t VOTE for me if you done have arms.”

Roth gives himself a cameo as Captain Midnight. Perhaps acting’s where his real talent lies. Or he could have skipped that and concentrated on making the colorless kid a little more interesting and animated.

One hears from actors and filmmakers how little they watch movies outside of the ones they’re working on. And this tone-deaf blunder makes one wish Roth had watched Black’s scary and comical “Goosebumps” turn.

Perhaps Black should have watched that himself. He turned down the “Goosebumps” sequel for the chance to spar with Blanchett (not really) and tilt at the windmill that is Eli Roth and finds his comedy stylings frittered away into the cosmos instead of finding grounded laughs here.

In this case, the windmill simply unhorses the funnyman, and in the least funny way imaginable. It, and by “It'” I mean Roth, just blows.

1half-star

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements including sorcery, some action, scary images, rude humor and language

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Jack Black,Owen Vaccaro, Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp

Credits:Directed by Eli Roth, script by  Eric Kripke, based on the John Bellairs novel. A Universal/Dreamworks release.

Running time: 1:44

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Netflixable? Are there Bulgarian frights in “Nightworld”

If nothing else, kudos are due to the creators of “Nightworld” for casting Jason London and Robert Englund in the leads.

If only Michael York had been available.

It’s a moody, nightmarish story of night watchman work in a mysterious building in Sofia, Bulgaria. There are hints of a “Twilight Zone” of long ago, of Mummy movies and tales of gateways, portals and what not.

All it lacks are frights.

London, best known for “Dazed and Confused” at the beginning of his career 25 years ago, plays Brett, a retired-youngish LA cop mourning his late wife and the life they shared in Varna. Bloody visions of his wife Ana (Diana Lyubenova) haunt his dreams.

A pal has just the thing for that — a night watchman job in Sofia. The ornate Zaharian Building has four apartments on three floors, a troubled history, mysterious, unknown owners, unseen tenants and seriously squirrelly managers (Gianni Capaldi, Nikolay Valentinov Lukanov) who give him cryptic “cloak and dagger” instructions about the work.

The job is mainly in the basement. Check the CCTV monitors, be sure this gigantic, ornate and oddly decorated door does not open. See “anything unusual,” call it in.

“When was the last time something came up?”

“Never.”

It takes 30 minutes of screen time for that to change. That gives Brett time to puzzle over the job and take up with the cute coed barista (Lorina Kamburova). A retiree and a coed — how Eastern European.

Brett’s nightmares continue once he’s moved into the Zaharian — go figure. Now they’re gory mid-intercourse hallucinations, visions of long-dead twins and the like.

Then the cameras catch motion in the vast underground vault everyone calls “The Hangar.”

“I never go in there?”

“Never.”

The expert on-call comes running. But Jacob (Englund, of Freddy Krueger fame) is blind, and has to interpret the tape by description. Not to worry, he knows his business.

“We are running out of time. I think it has started.”

“It?” Really?

The mystery isn’t enough to hang this picture on, and unraveling it with a few dope-slap special effects doesn’t improve the scary movie-going experience.

We know Brett, and maybe Jacob and Zara and others, will have to go where no one ever is allowed to go, and we have a pretty good idea of what we’re going to see when we do.

Englund’s an old pro, but never developed range, and sadder still, neither did London. Flat performances lower the stakes and rob the picture of any sense of impending doom.

Covering such well-worn horror territory requires novel touches, fresh sources of fear, committed-to-the-terror performances, but above all a dread that “Nightworld” never manages.

1star6

MPAA Rating: TV-MA

Cast: Jason London, Robert Englund, Lorina Kamburova, Gianni Capaldi,  Diana Lyubenova

Credits:Directed by Patricio Valladares , script by Barry Keating, Milan Konjevic and Dimitar Hristov. A Gravitas Ventures release.

Running time:1:31

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Preview, Marvel tears off a little Female Empowerment with “Captain Marvel” — official trailer

Brie Larson has the title role, one small step for Marvel to get some of that “Wonder Woman” buzz, crossover appeal, etc. etc.

“Captain Marvel” is a March release, opening in that “Black Panther” (broadly speaking) window. Directors of modest repute, zero big budget experience.

I guess I’m the only one who finds Brie Larson’s taking on this after that crap ape movie (and “The Glass Castle” and “Unicorn Store”) something of a post-Oscar “Let’s get paid” letdown.

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Documentary Review: Re-examining disability through the lens of “Intelligent Lives”

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One of the great sea changes in American culture over the past 60 years has been in attitudes toward and treatment of the mentally disabled.

From the gradual abandonment of “labeling” via outmoded IQ tests and “warehousing” people we used to call “feeble minded” to mainstreaming into schools, daily life, from the Special Olympics and the world-altering Americans with Disabilities Act, it’s a Civil Rights revolution that’s happened almost under the culture’s radar.

“Intelligent Lives” celebrates the fruits of this change in the more enlightened corners of America. The film introduces us to a special needs artist in Boston with dreams of art school and college, a Rhode Island woman of Haitian descent being prepared for a more independent life that includes her first real job in a hair salon and a graduate of InclusiveU at Syracuse University who has become an advocate for the disabled.

Oscar winner Chris Cooper (“The Orchid Thief”) talks with great passion about his son, Jesse, born with cerebral palsy that left him mute, suffering from quadriplegia.

“The neurologist told us, in front of our son, that he would never be intellectually normal and that we should think of having another child.”

The Coopers became tireless advocates for including the disabled in general education, dedicating increased resources that would grant access to computers (allowing Jesse to communicate, became an A student and a poet) and far wider horizons for kids like Jesse.

Cooper introduces the film and quickly transitions to an attack on the century-old practice of IQ testing, “misguided and false measurements of worth.”

When the outdated Stanford Binet IQ test was built on “antiquated questions” — “Do you dust a dresser?” — how accurate can it be, for starters?

Whatever the original purposes of the test, it has been used historically to discriminate against non-native English speakers (at Ellis Island), African Americans and other minorities.

“The IQ test told me nothing about my child’s potential,” Cooper declares. “Can any attempt to measure intelligence predict a person’s value or ability to contribute meaningfully to the world?”

As the United States comes to realize it is throwing away six million potential workers, people with “the ability to contribute meaningfully to the world,” schools such as Henderson School in Boston, an “inclusion” school, abandon IQ tests and settle in for the long, hard, hands-on and labor intensive work of preparing people like Naieer, a gifted painter, for a productive and more independent life.

Rhode Islander Naomie was institutionalized in what amounted to a Dickensian “workhouse” during her teens, until the state realized that the operators weren’t doing much more than grossly underpay for simple, manual labor that wasn’t helping students grow and prep for the outside world. We meet her as she takes the first steps — co-running a coffee cart in the state capital building — towards building a self-supporting life.

And wee Micah as he takes disabilities studies courses at Syracuse University, living in an assisted living environment and dabbling in OKCupid, a young man given the chance, for the first time, to think about the future.

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We’re also introduced to several progressive educators, people who demonstrate the patience of those who know how long the journey is, from first classes in childhood to the college and post-graduate potential life Micah can see before him.

“Intelligence looks different on everybody,” one teacher says.

Cooper’s place in the film is talking about his son’s experiences (Jesse eventually died, but not without making a mark) and giving us the history of IQ tests and the shifts in America’s attitudes toward the mentally disabled. America went so far as to dabble in eugenics, sterilizing the “feeble minded” in some states.

The Kennedy Administration, headed by a president and attorney general whose sister, Rosemary, was institutionalized in the 1940s, started the national conversation.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a founder of the Special Olympics.

By 1975, equal opportunities in education were enshrined in law and in 1990, George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act with a flourish, “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.”

But in the trenches, the advocacy, protests and lobbying goes on. And the teachers struggle, fretting over Naieer and “erratic” behavior that could cause him trouble should this tall young black man ever encounter the police, worrying about Naomie’s ongoing needs even as Micah’s parents celebrate his college graduation.

“Intelligent Lives” is far from a representative sample of such people — these are exceptions, outliers with access to resources and family support the vast majority of the disabled have fewer opportunities to access. And “introduced” is the right way to characterize everyone we meet in the movie. It’s not much deeper than a superficial introduction.

But as history, “Intelligent Lives” is invaluable at reminding us of the speed of change, once such change is recognized and accepted as necessary. As a journalist, I remember writing stories about non-profits fretting over the expensive and seemingly onerous demands ADA was about to place upon them as it was implemented — access ramps and hearing assistance and braille signage in elevators and elsewhere.

Most of us came to accept these measures as a small price to pay, and those who did became more enlightened, part of a change that broadened our ideas of civil liberties in America and our concept of an inclusive culture.

Those who didn’t found themselves on the wrong side of history.

3stars2

MPAA Rating: unrated

Cast: Chris Cooper, Naomie MonplaisirNaieer Shaheed

Credits:Directed by Dan Habib, script by Dan Habib and Jody Becker. A Right Now Films release.

Running time: 1:11

 

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Preview, Disney gives us another peek at “Mary Poppins Returns”

Even those of us who adore Emily Blunt would be ever-so-quick to say that she’s no Julie Andrews.

And Dick Van Dyke is every bit as irreplaceable. He’s here, just not in the same guise.

But damned if Angela Lansbury isn’t in the thing, this sequel “Mary Poppins Returns.” 

With Meryl and Colin and Ben and Emily Mortimer.

And the omnipresent Lin-Manuel Miranda.

I had no idea David Warner was still living and working, but hiring him seems a smart stroke.

Dec. 18, we see if the magic indeed has returned. Or if Rob Marshall gets the spanking of his directorial life.

 

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Netflixable? Prepare to be blindsided by “Face 2 Face”

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Boy, talk about a light, dullish teen dramedy that turns icky on a dime.

“Face 2 Face” is one of the most striking miscalculations in movie tone in recent memory. From light, right on the cusp of sweet, to just dark and grim and unable to pull off that transition. The leap to thriller will give you whiplash.

It’s a not-quite-charming cheat, a two-hander about former childhood friends who reconnect as teens, start sharing and helping, coaching and advising each other via a Facetime clone called “Face2Face.”

“Teel,” who goes by “Teel-Riffic” online, tracks down “Madison, “Mad-I-Sing” across country and across the years. It’s been a decade or more since they were acquainted.

Her “Do I know you?” response to his “friend” query earns an entirely-too-quick “Can I call you?” from him.

She is beautiful, bubbly and outgoing, a school principal’s daughter out in California. He’s a loner, introverted, nerdy and friendless and stuck back in Michigan. Why would she even accept a call?

She plays with her hair and practically lives her life on social media, inviting him (via her phone) to a party where she makes a bit of a scene. He’s too introverted to even be on social media. The computer and their face chats are his lifeline. We learn his mother won’t let him get his driver’s license and that he isn’t even on Facebook.

Teel (Daniel Amerman) shows up late for school and classes, “so everybody will think I’m in a rush and not realize I don’t have anybody to talk to.”

Madison (Daniela Bobadilla) is little too eager to fill him in on her plans to snag the cute boy in her school she obsesses over — Cole (Enspirit). The garish lipstick and heavy makeup give her away. A little.

Two guys named Toronto concocted this in the “Unfriended/Friend Request/Searching” mode — split screen, real time online conversations, every camera angle achievable by a teen holding up her phone to show a party, his room, their share-everything lives.

But these kids — one, seemingly an open book, the other a sealed one — have secrets.

Teel is so dorky and fey he’s never heard of “ping pong” (something teens play in parties in the movies). Madison is so instantly trusting that she confides in Teel about her scheme to get Cole “jealous” by shamelessly making out with another guy right in front of him. Or them.

“Hey, HAND dog. Get OFF her!”

Her retiring, nightcap drinking widowed Dad is micro-managing her life, leading to her complaints about “wife” duties in her life.

Teel confesses he has “no ambition in the jock arts,” not up for the sports “auditions” his parents push him into. He’d rather try out for “Bye Bye Birdie” or “Romeo and Juliet.”

Madison is a little too fond of lollipops, is insecure about her looks, her charisma,  her sex appeal. She gets grounded and loses custody of her phone.

“But he (her father) DIDN’T take my computer, just my phone. He thinks I’m doing homework on it. I guess I’ll be doing you every afternoon after school.”

Girlish giggles, and “Girls are allowed to have our minds in the gutter.” Besides, he’s in The Friend Zone. But does he want to be?

The limited point of view turns the picture dull long before we find out the obvious answer to that. There are only so many games you can play with making your face pop in the side or the top of the screen, only so much you can do with bad stage makeup (he’s beaten up) or his tips about hers — “It hides everything that’s beautiful about your face.”

“Are you saying I look like a whore?”

Bobadilla of “The Middle” has a winsome screen presence, bubbly with the confidence of the preternaturally cute. Amerman of TV’s “The Shy Ones” and “Freak Out” has the tougher job, going morose, trying to convince us he’s really auditioning to play Romeo with an energetically off-key rehearsal.

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Tacky moments overwhelm the supposedly tender ones, and no “big reveal” in the middle acts prepares us for the nasty one in the film’s final act.

It’s set up and foreshadowed, but not with any of the gravitas, horror or shame its victims attach to it.

Like the split screens and limited POV of the camera, it’s a gimmick and an ugly one that doesn’t save a flailing dramedy, doesn’t lift a thriller where the “thriller” part is a screenplay afterthought.

That twist makes “Face 2 Face” icky enough to be something both its stars shave off their resumes in the very near future.

1half-star

MPAA Rating: TV-MA

Cast: Daniela Bobadilla, Daniel Amerman, Kevin McCorkle, Enspirit, Emily Jordan

Credits:Directed by Matthew Toronto, script by  Aaron TorontoMatthew Toronto. A Candy Factory release.

Running time: 1:28

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Netflixable? “On My Skin: The Last Seven Days of Stefano Cucchi”

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Franz Kafka was born in Prague and died in a sanitarium outside of Vienna.

But his Kafkaesque nightmare of maddening bureaucracy run by heartless, buck-passing functionaries lives on just to the south, in the courts, hospitals and government offices of Italy.

Italian police brutality and legal, ethical and moral lassitude gave the world “The Last Seven Days of Stefano Cucchi.”

The film about Cucchi’s arrest and death in custody, “On My Skin,” is a slowly unfolding horror of callous Italian indolence. A man is arrested for drugs, charged with intent to distribute and then beaten — off camera. The evidence of that beating is all over his face, his inability to stand up straight or stay awake.

No judge asks about it. No prosecutor is appalled and confrontational with the cops, the Carabinieri. Every police official down the line sees his condition, some sheepishly ask concerned questions. Many use the phrase “a very serious charge” when Cucchi finally starts telling people he was beaten, but officialdom’s first worried question in every phone call is aimed at whatever the Italian acronym for “CYA” might be.

Tell me again how SURE you are “Amanda Knox Did It!” I wouldn’t trust these Pagliaccis to prosecute a jaywalker.

And the ass-covering extends to doctors, nurses and paramedics, not helped by the beaten man’s fear, and a kind of stubborn rage that sets in with his worsening physical and mental condition. He is enfeebled, missing his medication, afraid things will only get worse if he tells. Denied his own legal counsel, his family not allowed to see him via an ever-changing carousel of bureaucratese excuses, he goes into cardiac arrest in the first scene in “On My Skin.”

The movie that follows is a somber, slow-walk to doom, death by official Italian indolence.

In October of 2009, Stefano, “Ste'” to his family (Alessandro Borghi, very good),  is shown working for his surveyor-father, working out at the gym, attending mass, chatting with his brother-in-law and eating dinner with his parents. He won’t be spending the night with them, he says.

At his place, he’s got this thin slab of chocolate colored hashish he has to carve up.

But there’s little alarm when he’s sitting, talking in his car about eggplant parmesan with a friend, when the cops show up. There’s nothing in the car. No money was changing hands. They were smoking — cigarettes.

“Being funny, huh?” the cops bark (in Italian, with English subtitles).

“No.”

“Shut up. Nobody asked you.”

Rousting them, the cops find drugs on him, just a little dab of this and that. Illegal, but “possession” sized amounts. Oh no, they’ve nabbed a DEALER. The detectives who roll up afterwards are sure of it.

Stefano doesn’t know it, but his life clock just started ticking down its final week.

We see the humiliation of booking — yes, he had drugs on him — hear his pleas to the police not to wake his parents with all this. Good luck with that, pal.

And then, a gap. We see him hustled out of a cell and into court. One of his eyes is swelling shut. His back is killing him, he says. He needs his epilepsy medicine, needs to call his lawyer.

Oh no. Some bottom ten percent of his law school class public defender has been assigned him. He doesn’t need to call anybody. Really he doesn’t. He finds this out in the courtroom. The nightmare which began with an over-eager arrest and mounted with whatever happened with those detectives off-camera now becomes life and liberty threatening.

Writer-director Alessio Cremonini tells this story in the most deliberative way — patiently, layer upon layer of bureaucracy added on. Yes, this guy had drug problems and perhaps he was selling on the side. Maybe not.

But the viewer cannot escape the growing outrage at his treatment, the growing dread at what’s coming and the sadness of Stefano’s plight.

He is sick, with serious back and almost certainly internal injuries. He is not getting even the most superficial treatment — endless agonies of X-rays, transport from this hospital to the next.

He faces this alarming death spiral alone. Officious peons doggedly refuse to let anyone who cares about him see him. Callousness surrounds him in his direst moments.

And every taker of the Hippocratic Oath he meets is either put off by his understandable paranoia and defensiveness, or content to let the system take the hit. Lots of Italian medical professionals give the broad “My hands are tied” gesture, or brusquely wear it on their faces.

Yes, the world knows that if you travel to Italy, don’t do anything to get you in trouble with the Carabinieri. God knows if they do something to you the locals won’t want to hear about it. Surely they have a “Carabinieri Lives Matter” movement to go with their infamous record of prisoners dying in their custody.

But as this slow but damning drama makes clear, you don’t want to get sick over there either. Forms to fill out, procedures to be followed — rigidly. Don’t make a fuss. Just accept their “Not my patient/not my responsibility/you’re being ‘difficult’/sign this” indifference and take it like every other Italian. If you die, it’s on somebody else’s hands. Always.

3stars2

MPAA Rating: unrated

Cast:  Alessandro BorghiMassimiliano TortoraMilvia Marigliano

Credits:Directed by Alessio Cremonini, , script by Alessio CremoniniLisa Nur Sultan. A  Netflix release.

Running time: 1:40

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Netflixable? “My Teacher, My Obsession,” oh my

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It’s not a new movie trope, but seriously — how do you make “Hot for teacher” an acceptable subject for a movie nowadays?

“My Teacher, My Obsession” whistles past the #Notlegal graveyard with horror.  Well, a stalker/thriller, anyway.

That’s what the prologue promises, a school janitor walking in on what looks like a sexual assault, bloodied eyewitness yelling “RUN.”

But then comes the flashback, the hour long drift into exploitation, titillation and prurient bumping and grinding. Having it both ways, we call that.

Riley (Laura Bilgeri) is braced for another school year and another high school for English teacher dad Chris (Rusty Joiner).

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But the girls at Frost High might have other ideas. Tricia (Alexandria DeBerry), blonde Queen Bee and her popular pretty girl classmates purr that they’ll have him “wrapped around” their fingers.

Kyla (Lucy Loken) is the one to watch out for. She’s kind of quiet, an 18 year-old yearbook photographer who has polished the bedroom eyes and vocal fry of the teen temptress.

After a couple of scenes where Chris establishes his “hip young teacher” bonafides (checking his students’ cellphone playlists) — “I remember what it’s like to be young and pretend not to care.” — Kyla’s plot is set in motion.

Befriend Riley, poor-mouth the other girls who might get in the way, sabotage her mother’s hopes for a “normal” relationship with the single teacher, plant photos, etc.

It’s laugh out loud ludicrous, almost from start to end.

“I’m 18. I’m free to do what and who I want.”

The adults are gullible and somewhat hapless when faced with this potentially lethal Lolita.

Teacher Chris? He walks — or drives — right into this. This is what happens, educators, when you don’t remember Sting singing “Don’t stand so close to me.”

Loken, of TV’s “Teen Wolf,” does her damnedest to measure up to the gold standard of dangerously obsessed high school girls — Erika Christenson’s oversexed/lethally libidinous “Swimfan.”

A very wooden (no pun intended) Joiner has to play a grown man helpless trapped in her web of aggressive come-ons and one-liners.

“Consider that my thesis statement!”

“Pick up the jar of sugar. I’m legal!”

The most generous way to look at this sort of film USED to be middle-aged male wish fulfillment fantasy. And that is generously creepy. It’s always doubly unsavory when a man scripts it.

But even without the “ick” factor, “My Obsession” gives away the game too easily, makes the seemingly-nerdy girl who still shoots on film too obviously a predator, wastes too much time in the middle acts with us knowing what is coming.

And if you’re going for “over the top,” Ms. Loken, there’s no value in going halfway.

1half-star

MPAA Rating: TV-14

Cast:Lucy Loken, Laura Bilgeri, Rusty Joiner, Alexandria DeBerry

Credits:Directed by Damián Romay, script by Patrick Robert Young . A MarVista.Netflix release.

Running time: 1:26

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Preview, Bodybuilding’s Golden Age is revisited for “Bigger: The Joe Weider Story”

The guys who gave us Schwarzenegger turn up in this film about the weightlifter/bodybuilder Joe Weider, whose ads graced the inside back covers of many a classic comic book, back in the day.

Julianne HoughTyler HoechlinSteve Guttenberg  Robert Forster, DJ Qualls, Tom Arnold, Victoria Justice and Kevin Durand are the big names in the cast.

But the characters portrayed in the spotlight — LaLanne, Weider and Arnold Schwarzenegger — are what “Bigger” (Oct 12) is about. 

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Weekend Box Office: EVERYbody underwhelms; “Predator,” “Favor,” “White Boy” and “Unbroken” founder

box2Might’ve had a little to do with Hurricane Florence worrying film fans from Va to Ga.

Maybe not.

But the projected $29 million opening for “The Predator” reboot at the hands of Shane Black was a $24 million bust.

“A Simple Favor” should have earned $18, didn’t clear $16 by much.

“White Boy Rick” didn’t even reach $9 million.

And the widely distributed sequel “Unbroken: The Billy Graham Crusade Years” didn’t do half of the $5 million it was slated to take in.

Only “The Nun” matched expectations, $18 million on its second weekend of release — on the button.

“The Children Act” had decent pre-screen numbers (it’s on Direct TV too).

“Science Fair” did quite well on its single screen, still not enough to warrant wider release.

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