Tower Block, The Rambler, The First 70 


click to enlarge The First 70

The First 70 (NR)

Cinema Libre Studio

This documentary opens with some rather shocking facts about the state of the California State Parks system. For one thing, 70 parks were slated for closure between 2011 and 2012. That means that thousands of acres of park land, recreation areas, wildlife reserves and the like will just be left unattended in an effort to save money. Which is only $22 million. This is sad to learn and should be the basis for a hard-hitting, comprehensive doc, but, instead, hipster director Jarratt Moody just got a video camera and filmed his annoying friends jumping off of waterfalls and discussing their feelings. Sure, there are little tidbits of real information, but with a 30 minute run-time, many of the important factors as to why this shouldn't happen and what we can do to stop it are pushed aside in favor of a bunch of dudes running around the woods and taking Instagram pics of it. Not helping, guys. — Louis Fowler

click to enlarge Tower Block

Tower Block (R)

Shout! Factory

Whether the "bystander effect" makes you think of Kew Gardens in 1964 or Planet Fitness in 2012, the fear of falling victim to societal inaction is especially visceral. But what the makers of Tower Block, a high-concept, contained thriller from the U.K., suggest is that we should most fear becoming a perpetrator. When a panicked teen pounds on doors in the troubled block of an otherwise abandoned apartment high-rise, pleading for his life, he's met with almost complete silence. The teen dies. The tenants tell police nothing. A few days later, sniper bullets start flying through their windows. Most of the "hear no evil" crowd are down in seconds; the survivors try to outwit an unseen enemy while dealing with the fact that they may just be getting what's coming to them. Although some logistics don't quite track, this is an entertaining B-movie from a capable creative team. — Justin Strout

click to enlarge The Rambler

The Rambler (R)

Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

To get a sense of what this surreal mind-eff is like, imagine a drunk and dazed Johnny Cash meeting a focused and funded David Lynch. Dermot Mulroney is the titular Rambler, fresh out of the joint and returning to a world that's alien to him. Lights beep in the sky, his common-law wife is pregnant by his ventriloquist brother, and his job at the pawn shop has reached a breaking point. He grabs his guitar and takes off, entering one nightmarish scenario after another, and meeting an eccentric cast of characters such as an old scientist who has a machine that records dreams, and a dream-girl who just won't die. The movie is one big rabbit hole, delving deeper into the subconscious world, leading to an ambiguous conclusion that leaves as many questions as it answers. Nevertheless, The Rambler is a real work of art that's the closest thing to a dream ever being captured on film. — Louis Fowler


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