Thursday, May 23, 2013

Scarlet Samurai: Incarnation Movie Review Happy Halloween!

Update 10-31-13 Happy Halloween! I recently watched a newer screener of the film and have amended my earlier assessment. I made the change and reccomended Scarlet Samurai is a purchase. The additional finishing touches are solid and enhance the film.
One of the great pleasures of being an independent writer, is being able to review films which have yet to be sold to a distributor. The film-makers are often forced to wear many hats on the production, sometimes toiling away for years until a finished product is reached, and at times, the film still barely sees the light of day.

Tara Cardinal wears several hats in Scarlet Samurai: Incarnation. Tara is credited as the director, writer, and also plays two characters in the film. Sean Wyn has many diverse jobs on the production, including: visual effects, editor, and wardrobe, in addition to acting.

Scarlet Samurai opens with sisters Feng and Ikari (both portrayed by Tara Cardinal) Ikari is failing in college and has not shown up for school in a few weeks and professor Harrison comes over to the house to check up on her. Harrison says that her family will have to pay back the scholarship money unless she passes. Harrison comes up with a unique idea since she is an archaeology major, a field trip to a haunted Buffalo terminal, to record and document the findings.

Above Pic: Michael, Ikari, Tavi, and Becks all explore Buffalo Central Terminal.

Eventually Ikari and a small group of explorers set out to find out about the mysteries of the terminal. A teacher's assistant named Lindsey (), Ikari's old lover Becks (), who is also failing, and yes, ex lesbian lovers, and Tavi (, a women who also trains with Feng are all along for the journey. To photographically document their explorations Michael () is the lone male in the group. I do like that the film does explore the lesbian angle, and the fact that the lone male in the group is a cross-dressing guy. This reflects the open attitude of today's society, that people are not the white picket fence perception of reality like in the 1950s.

The exploration of Buffalo Central Terminal occurs a few minutes into the film, and at many turns, reveals gnarly souls,who are scrounging around in the shadows. Scarlet Samurai, plays like an action horror film, though the pace which the film progresses is not frantic, which might have been better for some parts. Although we don't learn much about the lead characters in the beginning of the film as the journey through the  terminal takes place, their individual traits are revealed, through some truculent, and often humorous banter. The monsters are lost souls from a fire disaster on the 17th floor many years back, and they are condemned to live out this hell stuck in the terminal for eternity.

The monsters become more aggressive as the film moves into the second act. Apparently they have some kind of poison, which renders the victims immobilized. Obviously, small defenseless women are easy prey, or are they? Tara Cardinal's alter ego type twin, Feng, is a sword slinging wild woman, with fire red hair, haha The Scarlet Samurai. 

The original print of Scarlet Samurai I watched was a "work in progress" Cannes Screener, and finishing touches were still being applied. This 10-31-13 review adds in the new print of the film and additional screen captures! The acting and scene set up are quite good for an indie film, and all the elements of story are also present. Monsters, bad attitude, outlandish costumes, samurai swords, and a very cute lead actress, makes for a rather unusual and entertaining 90 minute outing, which should do well in the DTV market. I rate Scarlet Samurai: Incarnation a 7 out of 10, worthy of a purchase.

For more info, slice your browsers over to the official Facebook page @

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Opération Casablanca Movie Review

Above Pic: DVD cover for Opération Casablanca (C) 2011 Bord Cadre Films.

A few years back, 2007 to be precise a cool action comedy called Shoot Em Up came out. In that movie Clive Owen is forced to take care of a baby after the mother is killed in a shootout. Monica Bellucci is the sexy prostitute he asks to watch the baby and crazy Paul Giamatti is the villain hell bent on killing sweet Monica and Mr Owen. The movie is super violent, all tinged with maniacal humor, like a black comedy. That film is somewhat like Opération Casablanca, but with a much more torrid pace, and hyper violence.

The story opens as a Dishwasher is fired from his job, he takes money he is owed and walks through a forest to get to town to find work. He comes upon a  wild shootout, and tries to help the victims. He comes across a beautiful young lady in the back seat of one of the cars, and she threatens to kill, him, she passes out, soon he is surrounded by armed gunman, and suspected to be a terrorist. Now that is a bad start to one's day.

Opération Casablanca is mainly a dark comedy, the wild predicaments the lead character goes through are outlandish, almost like he is a mixture of the smirky face of Bean and Inspector Clouseau. He is forced by the agency to assume the role of terrorist Saadi, to infiltrate the organization.

Elodie prepares for origami torture, count me in! (c) 2011 Bord Cadre Films.

Elodie Yung plays Isako, the agent assigned to him. Elodie uses origami as a means of torture. Not really sure how this is done, but if anyone can use folded paper as a weapon, my guess is Elodie will be the one to do it. Elodie lights up the screen with her wry humor and fighting skills towards the end of Opération Casablanca. 

Moving at a relaxed pace, Opération Casablanca is never dull, but perhaps could have benefited from more action. That being said, the characters in the film are well developed, and by the frantic end, the audience will surely care about their fate. The acting is good in the film, the participants all have engaging personalities.

Director Laurent Negre has a keen eye for keeping his characters focused on the bizarre story. The filming and camera angles make for a evocative presentation worthy of art house film status.

Overall this is an entertaining film, hopefully Opération Casablanca will find it's way to the shores of the U.S. soon. I rate the movie a 7 out of 10.

For more info on the film, like the official page on Facebook @

Go to the official Bord Cadre website @

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Runner, Runner is an example of art imitating life for Ben Affleck!

In 1998, Rounders became the poker film of the modern generation thanks in part to the brilliant writing of Brian Koppelman and David Levien. While there has been talk for years about a sequel to the film, the two instead have penned and now filmed what many hope to become a new poker cult classic in the upcoming film Runner, Runner.

Unlike poker films of the last few decades, this film will go an entirely different route and focus on the online poker industry. Starting at the turn of this century, online poker quickly grew to be global big business, but it has not always been entirely legit. Runner, Runner will take a look at more of the dark side of this Billion dollar industry.

Ben Affleck plays Ivan, the head of a Costa Rica based online poker site that currently has the site rigged to cheat its players. Justin Timberlake plays Richie, a Princeton student who plays online poker to fund his college education. After building up a sizeable bankroll, Richie goes on a bad run that he believes could only be explained by cheating. After some investigation, he figures out that this is the case and he decides to go to Costa Rica to play the site owner a visit.

Once Richie confronts Ivan, the owner is so impressed by Richie that he offers him a job and Richie leaves higher education to live the life of a somewhat shady online businessman. Things soon go south as Ivan's competitors make life tough for Richie and the FBI starts pressuring Richie to turn on Ivan.

Runner, Runner ironically is art imitating life for Affleck as he was actually a victim of an online poker cheating scandal. He lost a considerable sum of money on in 2003 and it was later discovered that he was one of numerous online poker players who were being cheated by the site's owner and others who had the ability to see opponent's hole cards. Affleck claims that he was one of the fortunate ones to be refunded. The site later was renamed and was shut down following indictments by the United States government in 2011.

While the poker world is highly anticipating the film, it will remain to be seen whether Koppelman and Levien will be able to bring the same magic to this film as they did to Rounders. While it has the potential to be another cult classic, it could just as well be the latest in a long line of films wishing they were as good as Rounders.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Roberto (Bob) Orci Interview Exclusive! (C) 2013 Dan's Movie Report (Danny Templegod)

Above Pic: Bob Orci doing Dan's Movie Report Promo. For the video click on this link!

One of the biggest thrills an independent film critic can have is to chat with a successful writer, film-maker, or producer in Hollywood. Bob Orci is a man who is all three! In addition to merely writing the script, he is involved with producing serveral films and TV shows as well, such as Hawaii 5-0 and Ender's Game. From Bob's early involvement with the Xena and Alias TV series, all the way up to his new film, Ender's Game, this November, Bob has created unique and engaging stories that have won him legions of fans worldwide. In 2014 watch for him an his longtime writing partner Alex Kurtzman to unleash The Amazing Spider-man 2! On the cusp of the worldwide release of his latest film; Star Trek: Into Darkness, Bob took time out to answer a few questions exclusively on Dan's Movie Report.

Much talk has been made of a possible crossover with the Star Trek and Star Wars universes, can you think of a scenario or story where that would even be possible or is it just fantasy?

If you are going to have a Star Wars, Star Trek crossover the only way you can do it is to use the rules of Star Trek, Mainly because Star Trek has only used time travel. So if you are going to go from the future to a galaxy far, far away, a long time ago then only Star Trek's rules can take you back there. So maybe it is possible then, it will be the Enterprise and the Millennium Falcon vs Star Destroyers, that would be great actually.

You should patent that quick. Are there any thoughts of diversifying, and adding additional characters from any of the later TV shows, such as Q or characters from Deep Space 9?

We often get questions should we add other characters from other shows like Next Generation or Deep Space 9 like Q, or The Borg. I'm torn, what do you think? The Next Generation has certain characters that belong to them, The Original Series has certain characters that belong to them. I would want to consider what fans really think, and decide then.

The first Star Trek film you shot was in 2D, describe some of the story nuances and changes that were made to have Star Trek: Into Darkness be presented in 3D.

To shoot it in 3D, we did not think of it in the story, we wanted to make sure the story wasn't a gimmick and it took into account what a story needs to be, but, we did take pains during the shooting of the movie because we knew we were going to convert in this new way that hasn't been done before. That is why when you watch it in 3D you are not going to get a headache, it is very bright, it is not dark. We did take certain steps when we were shooting it to make sure the conversion was going to be great.

That is important to never lose sight of the story. Chat about additional Sci-Fi stories you would like to bring to the big screen.

Well we are coming out with Ender's Game in November, which is something that I always wanted to do. I would love to do some Arthur C Clarke like Redevous with Rama. I would like to see that on the big screen. I would love to see Issac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy somehow get adapted to the big screen. I am trying to get my mitts on those. These are things I am trying to get a hold of and if we succeed, you will be the first to know.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat.

A pleasure, nice to chat with you.

Follow Bob on the twitterverse @

Watch for more exclusives on your home for all things action and sci-fi, Dan's Movie Report!