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Showing posts from May, 2014

Blackstone Spring Seasonal Maris Otter

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Blackstone has not been my favorite beer company. In order that I had them, the Chaser Pale Ale got 1.75, the APA got a 2.25, the Nut Brown Ale matched that 2.25, and the Oatmeal Stout dropped back down to 1.75. So, they are across the board below average. I wanted to like the local Nashville brewery, but they need to start making better beer. The bottle declares that they have made award winning beers since 1994, and I question whoever gave them those awards. Maybe THIS is the award winning beer.

It's a cloudy very light brown beer. Some might call it a murky, deep gold, but I would call those people liars (not to their faces - I'm not suicidal, those people are drunk and angry). The head dissipates to a fairly thick pillow on the top, and there's no real lacing to speak of. The aroma is that of burned malt. I can also detect a bit of a metallic smell to it, too.

First sip isn't a great one. This is an ale - where are the hops? It's that burned malt taste, mostly.…

Wicked Blood (2014)

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We are supposed to believe that chess is a metaphor for how Abigail Breslin manipulates the relationships and circumstances around her in this movie. I get the metaphor, but it really doesn't translate particularly well, as she never actually knows where all the pieces are, what they can do, or how they move. So, constantly showing us the chess board is a bit too heavy handed, in my opinion.

Abigail is in that stage of her career where she is too young to be taken seriously as an adult and too old to be a kid actor. Normally, this would mean doing movies like Twilight where she plays a teenager who is more serious and more adventurous than either adults or children. Instead, she takes this role where she struggles to influence adult themes and issues while clearly not completely comprehending them. She does an okay job, but her character is written by someone who doesn't understand teenage girls, and they wind up just writing her like a very short adult.

Alexa PenaVega (also k…

Adult World (2014)

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This movie is about a train robbery gone horribly wrong when a serial killer starts killing people and cutting off their faces to wear as Halloween masks while he hunts down a group of Girl Scouts who were trapped in a school bus that fell down a well when a mad scientist devises a plan to kill the secret agent who had managed to beat him at every turn in his life. Just kidding.

In fact, this movie is about a young, aspiring poet who is forced to leave the safety of her suburban home with her parents to find gainful employment in the city. She is ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of city life. After trying to get a job in many places with no marketable skills, she winds up taking a job working for Cloris Leachman and her husband at Adult World, a pornography and adult toy store. This is meant to be ironic, as she is a virgin.

Emma Roberts is the naive recent college graduate who is really annoying as a character. She has no fear of the darkness of life, as she has never been ex…

Pompeii (2014)

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I saw The Expendables with a friend who was not entirely sober at the time. As a result, every time Sylvester Stallone appeared on screen, he shouted, "Yo Adrian!" at the screen. I recount this experience because I found myself saying, "You know nothing John Snow,"  every time Kit Harington appeared on screen in this movie.

Kit is the main character, and he is most often referred to as "The Celt." His actual name is Milo, but that's not exactly an Irish name, is it? Well, he doesn't look particularly Irish, either. He watches Kiefer Sutherland order the death of his parents and all of the villagers at his home in Ireland before he is carted off to be a gladiator.

This brings us to the crux of the movie; it is as if they tried to remake Gladiator, but they wanted to add the destruction of the city into the story. Unfortunately, it comes off as a "me too" movie. All of the actors are slightly worse than their Gladiator counterparts, so it …

Snowpiercer (2013)

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This movie doesn't make sense. It's a South Korean sci-fi movie based on a French graphic novel, so the idea of making sense is as foreign to the movie as the English spoken by the main character was to the South Korean director. The fact is that 80% of this movie is in English, and that is particularly good for the American Actors who can't speak any Korean.

Here's the premise, and it's a hard one to swallow: The world's scientific community decided they could fix global warming with a synthetic substance that they would introduce into the upper atmosphere. I know what you're thinking: we don't call it global warming any more, as climate change is more appropriate. Well, they are calling it global warming, and the fix is worse than the problem was. We are told that everything on the planet went extinct. And then we are told that some people survived and are on a train. There are so many problems with this setup that I cannot find a good way to list the…

The Fountain (2006)

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This movie is a triumph of metaphor and art over entertainment and mass appeal. We start with our hero, Hugh Jackman, as a Spanish conquistador who leads his small raiding party against the Mayans where he is attacked by the chief who wields the sword that was used to protect the Tree of Life from Genesis.

Once attacked, he becomes a head-shaven monk who appears to live on virtually no food at the base of the aforementioned Tree of Life. From there, he starts to have flashbacks to his life when he was married to Rachel Weisz. Curiously, this marriage exists in 2006 or so. Confused yet? If you're not, then you probably just didn't care about the characters or what was going on. Congrats, you have joined the rest of us.

The way it tells the story is very much like Cloud Atlas where different timelines are swapped out in an effort to tell a story that is a tapestry of the lives of the people in it. Unfortunately, like that movie, it comes across as over indulgent and a generally …

Grudge Match (2013)

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Before I even saw this movie, I read an article where someone had gotten to talk to some doctors about what would actually happen if two guys this old (Stallone is 67 and De Niro is 70) actually went back into the ring to fight each other. Essentially, their bones are brittle and their joints can't handle the stress. They would be severely injured within the first five minutes or so, and at least one of them would probably die.

The movie is set in Pittsburgh, and the two men involved were both heavyweight champions who had only one loss on their record - the other guy. Against each other, they were 1 and 1 when Sly decided to retire, and Bobby has been aching for a rematch for the intervening 30 years. The anniversary of the last fight is upon them, so the old tapes come out and interest in a potential rematch is generated.

Kevin Hart plays the boxing promoter who is the son of the guy who promoted the two 30 years earlier and made off with most of their money. He squandered the m…

Sweetwater Georgia Brown Ale

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Brown ales and I have had a mixed relationship. The Lazy Magnolia was a pretty good beer, but beers like Smithwick's and Jubilee brought me no joy. I hate to judge an entire type of beer based on a few samplings, but I see a trend, and it trends the wrong direction.

The head is nice and sticky. It leaves a thin pillow of foam across the top with some real staying power. The color is a deep brown that echoes the brown of the bottle. The aroma is sweet, chocolate malt. It's got hints of caramel and what really smells like a light floral hint kind of wafting around the outside.

First sip is very strong. There are beers that have little taste or are a bit watery at times, but this isn't one of those beers. There is no point that I would complain that it doesn't have enough taste going on, that's for sure. It has quite a nutty taste to it, and I wasn't really expecting that. This isn't advertised as a nut brown ale, so I didn't expect nuts - was I wrong? App…

Contracted (2013)

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A die-hard lesbian is having a bit of romantic troubles when she has a few too many drinks at a party where she runs into a guy who clearly has bad things on his mind. Now, we never see the guy's face, but we understand that he's all about deception and, well, rufies.

Najarra Townsend is the aforementioned lesbian, and she plays the role well enough, but there are some really, really bad decisions made by her character. The thing is, there are some truly epic bad decisions made by a lot of different characters in this movie. I could understand if they had some emotional reasons for making these choices, but they seem to make them for no good reason at all.

"Well, Tim, they are just stupid," you might say.

That one guy is a doctor, dammit! He gets a patient complaining of excessive vaginal bleeding, a rash that is clearly not a rash, vomiting blood, and all sorts of other terrible things, and he doesn't A) call for an ambulance, B) call the CDC, D) perform a pelvi…

Dom Hemingway (2013)

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A criminal gets out of prison and tried to pick up where he left off. It's not a new story, but it's a different take on it. Well, a slightly different take on it, at least. I mean, he's owed money that he tries to get ... and no, I mean, he gets revenge on a guy... wait! There's stuff that is unique, I swear!

For one thing, it has Jude Law as the star. They gave him some funky facial hair and a seriously screwed up nose that is actually a pretty damn good prosthetic. He's brash, loud, boisterous, unapologetic, and asserts himself as an alpha male. Jude does a very good job with what really seems like an atypical role for him. However, the drunken loudmouth character itself is all too common. There is a half-hearted attempt to make him more than one dimensional, but it's the equivalent of Rocky having a love interest - he's still a lunk-head of a character. But Rocky shows that you can have a very limited titular character and still get an entertaining movi…

Shiner White Wing

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From the great state of Texas comes a Belgian beer. I think I mentioned before that a friend of mine introduced me to Shiner, and I still have yet to really find out what he was going on about. I'm looking forward to this one, as it is pretty clearly outside Shiner's wheelhouse, so maybe they will show a spark of a miracle or something.

It's a hazy yellow-gold. The head runs away like a scared little boy on the playground when the bully takes his lunch money and pushes him to the ground with a haughty laugh and condescending snicker that makes the blood in the little boy's veins turn to ice. The aroma is orange peels and lemon wedges with coriander and some sugar sprinkled on wheat grass.

The first sip brings no hint of bullies on the playground. Instead, it brings oranges and straw. I can taste a bit of lemon in there with some grapes and other fruits. This is an odd mixture of fruits and grassy textures that I'm having a bit of a hard time reconciling.

Maybe a bi…

Paranormal Activity 5: The Marked Ones (2014)

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What to do? What to do? I mean, they already beat this franchise into the ground, so they have to try to attract an audience somehow. It was never really compelling, but they followed the old Cannon film model of making a movie for a budget of nothing and then releasing it. If you make the movie for a small enough amount, you can't help but make money on it (or that is the way the thought process goes).

We do not follow our usual cast of characters. The woman and guy who made the first movie semi-entertaining are not the focal point, nor are their relatives (who dominated several of the subsequent films) or even neighbors, ancestors, or other people who might forward their storyline. Instead, we delve into the Latino community; I'm not sure if this is an attempt to pander to a specific audience or not. If it is, it doesn't come off all that well; it's like they wrote the parts for white people and then inserted Mexican stereotypes after the fact. The characters are all…

47 Ronin (2013)

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This movie is based on an old Japanese legend of a man who was forced by honor to kill himself after he assaulted a court official in a palace. His Samurai were then left masterless to plot their revenge - killing Kira, the official their master was accused of assaulting in the first place. It is based on a true story, so you might suspect that it would be a nice Shogun Warrior-style movie, rooting firmly in reality.

So, how do you mess with this story?

Step 1: Embellish. Yep, let's include strange witchcraft, spells, monsters, and other such fantastical features to take the realism right out of the story. With so much stuff being added to the story that is pretty clearly fake, the danger is somehow reduced in the audience's mind, as this has become a fairy tale, and those usually end up with a happy-ish ending. Shapeshifters, undead, magic, dragons, and lots of other stuff combine to make it a less enjoyable experience than it might have been.

Step 2: Insert American for no p…

Starship Troopers: Invasion (2012)

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So, how do you follow up the fantastic Starship Troopers 2 and 3? Well, you scrap all of the "actors," most of the storyline, and you make the whole thing CG. That was what they did for Starship Troopers 4, and I can't blame them. The franchise probably wasn't worth the money it would have taken to make another live action movie.

Because the actors are essentially computer game characters, the expectation level of the effects is lowered considerably. So, the effects manage to live up to those expectations. There are some problems with the cookie-cutter way some of the characters are presented, but that is similarly accepted by the same mentality that makes you believe that the writing for a video game does not have to be all that great.

The issue with that line of thinking, however, is that stories and effects for video games are getting better and better all the time. When you put together a movie like this, you have to bare in mind that the technology you are using …

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

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I don't like Wall Street movies in general. The high-pressure sales tactics rub me the wrong way and make me want to punch someone in the face with their manipulations. It is possible there are some lingering issues that I need to deal with from my brief stint selling cars at a terrible dealership with intense sales pressure. It's possible that my opinion of this particular movie is also tainted by an interview I read in Bloomberg Businessweek with the jerk who wrote the book and was the actual Wolf who is again a millionaire by selling his story and doing motivation speeches.

Leonardo DiCaprio headlines this journey into the stock selling hellscape. He does a good job as the sleazy, drunk, drug addict adulterer Wolf. Is he a tragic hero? A comedic hero? I don't know. I think they were trying to go with both of those, but I dislike the character so intently that I can't decide. The thing is - he's a well-written privileged ass. the devil-may-care way he lives his l…

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

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Sometimes, we all escape into our heads. With Walter, he escapes into a fantasy world filled with things he would never actually do and people he doesn't have the gumpshin to actually converse with. Given the setup for his character, we might expect small steps, but we actually get  unrealistically large leaps. The problem with that is that we are treated to lots of daydreams of stuff he hasn't and won't ever do so frequently at first that it is still hard to distinguish what is supposed to actually be happening and what is not.

I don't really like Ben Stiller. Am I alone in that? I can't possibly be. I thought Zoolander was a massive waste of time and that thing with the ping pong balls was a cry for help. In this role, however, he manages to bring his odd sense of reality to a relatively normal character. Some of his choices raise more questions than they answer, but the essence of the character remains the same - a man who takes pride in his work and will not al…

Nebraska (2013)

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I am supposed to like this movie. I mean look, it got six Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. There are certainly moments of brilliance in this movie, but the overall movie just didn't do that much for me.

Bruce Dem plays a grumpy old guy. He has played other, less senile roles in recent memory, so he has some range. His character is convinced that the junk mail that he got that says (very loosely) that he won a million dollars is real. Anyone else reading the letter immediately spots it for the bulk mail that it is, but he steadfastly refuses to listen to the naysayers. As a result, he wants to walk from where he and his family live in Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska.

June Squibb got the nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and I can't really see why. I mean, she does her part well enough, but there isn't a whole lot going on with her. She mostly plays the…

Violet and Daisy (2011)

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For some reason, we start with two girls in their late teens who are professional contract killers. Okay, it seems unreasonable, but let's go with it for now. They have the affectation of much younger girls - they ride tricycles, play patty cakes, eat lollipops, and are obsessed with getting a dress that they saw in a magazine and take a contract to kill someone just so they can pay for it.

The tone of this movie is the most noteworthy thing. It's kind of what you might expect if Tim Burton directed Leon: the Professional. Everything is kind of stylized with an intentional fairy tale kind of feel to it not completely unlike Edward Scissorhands, but with a bit more reality infused into it and a whole lot more blood.

Saoirse Ronan plays the younger of the duo, the blonde-haired Daisy. While both of the girls play major roles, Daisy is really the focal point of the movie. We learn about he views on life and her personal struggles as the movie progresses. She accidentally befriend…

RoboCop 3 (1993)

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It takes over 15 minutes for us to actually see RoboCop in this movie. Interestingly, the criminals sound just as happy to finally see him as the audience at a theater would probably have been. First actual word was five minutes later. And... it's not the same guy playing RoboCop. It is pretty clear right off the bat.

OCP has been purchased by a Japanese company, but there is still no shortage of slimy corporate officials who can't act to save their lives. You know, I say that, but Bradley Whitford and Rip Torn are in the movie, but they both do a terrible job. And I mean ... bad. I have to blame that on direction, as both actors have demonstrated at least some ability to act in other movies.

It's easy to tell the Security Concepts (rent-a-cops) guys from the "real" cops, as the regular police use the iconic Ford Taurus police cars that were picked for the original RoboCop for their futuristic look, while the Security Concepts guys drive fairly crappy Oldsmobile …

Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

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Ostensibly, this is the story about the making of Mary Poppins. In reality, this is a story about two people coming to grips with their own pasts and connecting as fellow humans going through life and making the best of it. Those two people are Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks as Pamela "P. L." Travers and Walt Disney.

Is Emma Thompson the best actress on the planet? I think it is entirely possible. Her character is prudish, demanding, and harsh. Underneath, as you might expect, is a warm heart with significant emotional damage that manifests itself as the aforementioned unpleasantness. She plays the character with appropriate depth and aplomb. It is almost unfailingly entertaining to watch her in any role she gets, and this one is no less so. the fact that she is able to maintain screen presence while in the room with Tom Hanks is a testament to what she can do.

Yet, the other part of this acting duo is Tom hanks (last seen doing a fantastic job as pirate victim Captain Phillips

Scorned (2013)

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Hell hath no fury like a writer who needs a paycheck and appears to have some leverage against a production company and forces them to produce a movie no matter what he cranks out and he also really hates the people who are making the movie and wants to waste their money along with the time of everyone who winds up watching the resulting movie. No, that's not a snappy saying, but it speaks truth.

AnnaLynne McCord - that's the name she's sticking with, damn it - is the pretty but all too skinny blonde nut job who is really, really into her boyfriend. He cheats on her with her best friend - classic, classic story, eh? At one point in the beginning of the movie, she and her boyfriend go to his lake house where she pops off her clothes, runs down to the lake, and then has sex with him. She asks if he still loves her even though she's crazy. I immediately thought, "The getting naked and having sex is the good kind of crazy. However, I suspect you have another kind of c…

New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale

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New Belgium has ranged from average to below average thus far. I know that I've seen Fat Tire in more places than I have seen other beers from them, and it is entirely possible that the reason for that is that it is the best they have to offer. That would be nice, wouldn't it?

The color is a pleasant shade of amber. The head leaves a good amount of lacing on the sides as it goes down. The aroma is sweet malt more than anything - like sweet bread freshly baked. I also smell a distinct floral scent right on the edges. It's about what I would expect from an amber, but it actually seems like it has more character than normal. I remember having to get right in there to detect the aroma of some other ambers.

First sip is not bad at all. It has the sweet malt and the floral taste, and it adds a bit of a metallic taste along with the bread - it's kind of like artisan bread with a hard crust that still has flour on it - do you know what I'm talking about?

As is my way, I…

Blue Jasmine (2013)

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Oh, Woody Allen, what a strange bird you are. When I go into a Woody Allen movie, I always do so with trepidation. He specializes in narcissistic, atheist New York Jews. When he ventures outside that comfort zone, he produces something that just doesn't feel right.

This movie has gotten plenty of accolades, and it was even a box office success. However, I don't know that I would call it a particularly good movie. It's about a woman from New York who goes to live with her sister in California after her husband gets caught doing illegal things with investments and subsequently hangs himself. So, it's about a well-to-do person who finds herself on hard times.

Cate Blanchett plays the titular character who discarded her real name and rebranded herself "Jasmine" just because she liked it. Cate does a fantastic job with her role, and she probably deserves the Oscar she won for it. We follow her descent into madness, unwilling to compromise her standards, she can…

Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale

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Okay, anyone who has read reviews on this blog knows that I am not a big fan of most nut ales, and I'm also not a huge fan of brown ales. It's not that I haven't found good versions of each, it's just that the average example of them is simply not to my taste. This was the third in a sample pack, and the previous two have been a bit of a letdown. I will admit to not having a whole lot of hope for this beer.

The color is a dark, dark brown with a bit of an amber hue. The head is thick and manly. The aroma is nutty and malty. It's not sour, and it's not sweet - I'm struggling to figure out what exactly it is. It's strong, and I would have to say that it has some coffee roasting smell, but it's light enough to not be off-putting.

First sip is not as bad as I feared. It isn't what I would call good, but it's not terrible. I can imagine someone who likes brown ales thinking this is a bit of all right, but I'm not that guy. The nuts put an odd…

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

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Think of the first movie as a setup. The fact is, I thought that the first movie seemed disjointed, and I was generally bored with the blandness because I couldn't get too into it. There was a lot going on, and explanations were few and far between. That's why I thought the movie was disjointed - stuff happened with no real rationale beyond something along the lines of, "Scary! Scary stuff is happening!"

Well, Chapter 2 answers the questions. One of the annoying things about movies that claim that there is a place that you go to where time has no meaning (I'm looking at you, Star Trek Generations' Nexus) generally use it as a plot device for time travel rather than actually having a non-linear view of time. In the first movie, they didn't even use it for time travel. The throw-away line that time had no meaning actually had no meaning itself. Chapter 2 actually uses this non-linearity in a useful and intriguing way. Also, something insidious actually kind …

Haunt (2013)

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This was not a good movie. I don't mean that it was a terrible movie like A Common Man or something, it was just not good. It's clear someone put a lot of thought into it, but it was a horror movie without a whole lot of horror. It was a scary movie with few scares. It was a mystery that was pretty easy to solve. I think that "Startler" should be a new classification of movie - a movie that just tries to startle you with sudden flashes of something barely recognizable with a big violin screech at the same time.

A family dies. Their house is then sold to another family who knows that the previous family died, but they got a good deal on the house, so why look a gift ghost in the mouth. Wait - did I say ghost? Oh yeah, this house is now a freakin' haunted house! So, bad things will befall anyone and everyone who dares defile the house with their presence.

So, the teenage son (coincidentally the same age as the son of the family who died in the house) played by Harr…

Insidious (2010)

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I watched this movie when it came out, and I just watched it again, as I was about to watch Chapter 2, and this movie was so forgettable that I couldn't remember anything about it. The movie is generally pretty bland and a bit disjointed from a story point of view. It's a horror movie that suffers from the problem of having more startling points than scary points.

Patrick Wilson is a fairly reliable actor. I wouldn't say he's A-list, but he is a solid upper B-list. I thought he did a very good job in The Conjuring, and one of the problems with this movie echoes that movie. See, the Conjuring didn't actually have any conjuring in it. This movie is not particularly insidious. Strangely, this movie reminds me of The Conjuring in a few other ways, too. The way there is an angry spirit followed by an expert who comes in to try to fix things, and things don't always go as planned.

They say this movie is from the makers of Saw and Paranormal Activity, and it has very …

Oldboy (2013)

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This is a remake of a 2003 Korean movie of the same name. Remember how Sarah Michelle Gellar starred in the remake of the Japanese horror movie The Grudge? Remember how it seemed disjointed and kind of jerky in spots? Well, Oldboy has its own quirks that can only be a hold-over from the Japanese version. The fight scenes are particularly stylized.

Josh Brolin plays the uncouth drunkard who has screwed up priorities and a passion for pretty much nothing other than drinking. And that is when his life changes. He's locked in a hotel room. Or is he? It turns out, he's not. It looks like a hotel room, but it is actually a kind of prison. He doesn't know why he's been imprisoned, he doesn't know who has imprisoned him, and he has no way out. Josh plays his character about as well as he probably can. Mostly, he has the stoic face of directed anger.

This is certainly not the first movie I've seen where someone is captured and held against their will, but they never see…