Battle Royale (2000)


Genre: Drama, Action/Adventure

Cast: Takeshi Kitano, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda

Synopsis: A class of teenagers are abducted and forced to take part in a military exercise where they must kill each other on a deserted island until only one is left… kind of like the hipster Hunger Games.

I remember when I was in high school, this was the cult film that everyone had to watch. I had managed to get my hands on a copy of the film and it ultimately got passed around the class like a soggy biscuit at Eton. At the time this film was released, it was shocking, harrowing, polarising, but unquestionably brilliant. After re-watching the film, I’ve come to the conclusion that it still is. It’s not brilliant solely because of its action, or its beauty, or its twisted sense humour. Battle Royale is brilliant because it manages to combine all these and turn a story about basic characters senselessly killing one another into a moving coming of age tale.

I think that the thing that gives Battle Royale its power is its characters. In total, there are about 43 that appear throughout the course of the movie. Creating a movie with that number of characters is a daunting task but the makers Battle Royale rose to the challenge admirably. Of course, many of the characters are killed off quickly but even characters that appear for one extended scene only are given their own unique personalities and quirks and histories. This is best seen with the character of Chigusa. In one scene the film establishes that she is an athlete, proud, fearless, and that she will kick the ass (and knife the balls) of anyone who attempts to rape her. The audience barely knows her and yet we end up respecting and liking her immensely, which makes her exit from the film all the more tragic and beautiful.

ChigusaRIP you super fierce bi-atch

Of course there are other characters that are wonderful. Takeshi Kitano’s character adds depth and a much needed adult perspective. I have the biggest crush on Hiroki and, when commenting on the characters, it’s hard not to give attention to Mitsuko Souma, the school hussy. In short, the film presents a myriad of complex characters and it makes you feel for them even though not a lot time is dedicated to them. One character in particular only gets a couple of minutes of screen time but she is easily one of the best in the whole film.

BR Lady“You’ve been selected to kill each other. CONGRATULATIONS!”

One of the other brilliant things about this film is that it encourages its audience to engage their imagination and ponder about what they would do if they were forced to enter into a fight to the death. What would you do? Would you hide or would you play the game? What sort of weapon would you want to get? A gun or something like a tracking device that allows you to avoid the competition? Very few films manage to draw in their audiences in such a way right off the bat but Battle Royale manages to do it without even trying. Maybe it’s because the general premise of the film is so fucked up or maybe the film appeals to some innate competitive survival instinct in every human. Whatever the reason, this is one film you will not stop watching halfway through. You will force yourself to watch it all the way to the end.

In recent years some people have debated whether The Hunger Games is a rip off of Battle Royale. For the record, I am going to say that I don’t think The Hunger Games is a rip off. Although I think the two share similarities, I think it would be fair to say that The Hunger Games has its own distinct features and themes. While Battle Royale is about growing up and leaving behind childhood friends, The Hunger Games is (I think) more of commentary on wealth inequality and reality television and it is enjoyable in its own way. Don’t get me wrong though, I think Battle Royale is 1000 times better and you would be a fool for thinking otherwise.


  • Wonderful characters that are developed in a very small amount of time.
  • Surprisingly good amount of humour.
  • Great soundtrack.
  • The lighthouse shoot out is one of the weirdest and most spectacularly perverse scenes in the history of film.
  • RUN!


  • Kazuo Kiriyama is the only underdeveloped character and it’s a shame because in the novel his background is fascinating.


I have no doubt that Battle Royale will continue to be a cult favourite for decades to come. It has all the ingredients needed to ensure its survival as a classic. If you haven’t seen it yet then hop to it. It’s on Netflix so there is no excuse.



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Filed under Action/Adventure, Drama, Mind Blowingly Awesome

The Prestige (2006)

The Prestige

Genre: Drama

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson

Synopsis: In Victorian England, two rival stage magicians compete to create the best illusion.

When I look at Christopher Nolan’s filmography, I am always surprised to find this film there. It’s not that I don’t know Christopher Nolan directed and wrote this movie, it’s that I always forget that he did those things. When I think of his films, humungous box office smashes such as the Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception come to mind. It’s never this film that I think about. Re-watching this movie, I kind of figured out why that was: it’s a lot less flashy than Nolan’s other work. I don’t mean that it’s less impressive in content. I mean that it’s got less of the stuff that audiences seem to like in his movies: fighting, explosions, and Joseph Gordon Levitt in a tailored suit…..drool. The Prestige is more of a stylish and moody analysis of revenge and rivalry. That may not sound overly exciting but this film as at its core something that wins audiences over: magic.

Everyone loves magic, I am sure of it. For me, I was always drawn to the magicians who understood that magic is as much about theatricality as it is about mystery and wowing audiences. Can you blame me for liking theatricality in my magic shows? I grew up watching this bad ass mo fo:

Masked MagicianLook at his harem of super fine b*tches!

The great thing about The Prestige is that Nolan understands that style plays an important role in magic shows and performance art in general. As a result, the production design is top notch. It kind of has a “masked magician meets upscale Victorian whore house” vibe. Basically, it’s how I want my future bedroom to look. The film also manages to catch the beauty of the American west and there are some stunning shots of (what I assume is) Colorado. The result is that you can’t stop looking at the screen. However, when the movie ends, you might want to hide your wallet or credit card to avoid an online spending spree that results in you buying useless shit like ornate bird cages and devices invented by Nikola Tesla.

On the down side, this is a film that requires a lot of attention from the audience, which can be hard to give if you’re stoned. The film’s opening sentence (“Are you watching closely?”) essentially acts an invitation for the audience to try and figure out the twist before the end. All the clues are given away during the course of the movie but they’re hard to pick up on. Only the diligent will figure it out. If you haven’t figured the twist out by the time the film comes to an end, you might feel a little bit cheated because it’s actually brilliantly simple and kind of obvious. Then again, maybe that’s what is so good about it because mixed in with all the Tesla magic is a very simple and effective illusion.

Another downside to this movie is that none of the actors can seem to nail a British accent…even Christian Bale, who is practically English. It was so bad, I even started to have doubts about the authenticity of Michael Caine’s accent. I don’t know why the accents were so bad in this movie. I’ve seen some of the actors pull of good British accents in other movies (for example, Johansson in Under the Skin), but here it felt like they were doing some kind of parody. I’m fine with the idea of a parody of British people but The Prestige could not have been a parody because it didn’t have the teeth thing down.

British smilesPictured: the brilliance of old Simpsons episodes

However, these criticisms don’t dull The Prestige’s positive aspects. At the end of the day, this is still a fun movie that keeps its audience on its toes thanks to a satisfying blend of style and mystery.


  • Very stylish.
  • Fascinating film for people who enjoy magic shows.
  • DAVID BOWIE!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH. And this time he’s not wearing his codpiece.
  • Eye candy for every kind of person.


  • The accents! They burn my ears!!!!
  • A little too long and drawn out.
  • Ending can feel a little flat.


This is the sort of film made for people who like stylish noodle scratchers. In that sense, it was a very good film to watch while stoned as it satisfied my cravings for visual beauty and challenging narratives. While I don’t believe that this is Nolan’s best film, I must admit that it is still a very fine film and one he should be proud of.



Filed under Drama, Good

Cruel Intentions (1999)

Cruel Intentions

Genre: Drama

Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon

Synopsis: Two wealthy, spoilt, and morally corrupt teenagers enter into a wager in which Ryan Phillippe will seduce the headmaster’s virginal daughter. Things don’t go to plan, however, when he finds himself falling for her girl-next-door charm.

Sometimes I wonder why it is that I am such a ho bag. Seriously, I’ve lost count of all the individuals I have had trysts with…and I’m not including that homeless guy that grabbed my ass one time. I suppose it’s part of that nature vs. nurture debate and, if I were to pick a side, I would say that it was more of a nurture thing. Why do I say that? Well maybe it’s because, at the age of 10, I idolised Buffy the vampire slayer. I didn’t want to be with her; I wanted to BE her. I wanted to be Buffy so badly that I watched everything Sarah Michelle Gellar was in so I could learn her secrets. Eventually I found myself watching Cruel Intentions. With this in mind, is it really surprising that I turned out the way I did?

Let me explain, Cruel Intentions is all about Sarah Michelle Gellar getting in touch with her bad self. Up until this film, she had only played do-gooders and likeable characters. In Cruel Intentions, she lets out her inner bitch-whore from hell and has a bloody good time doing it. She makes being a slut look like fun. How slutty does she get? Well…she propositions her step brother with something no red-blooded male can refuse.

 Butt Secks

Yes, that’s right. She offers her brother anal sex. They’re not related by blood, you understand, but it’s still pretty scandalous. I don’t remember Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons offering John Malkovich entry to her back passage…although they may have had a different word for it in 18th century France. So much of enjoyment can be had watching Gellar play the villain and it is obvious she really relished the opportunity to do it. She even looks as though she had fun making out in the park with Selma Blair.

It pains me to say, however, that aside from Gellar the film really doesn’t really offer much else in the way of brilliance. Despite having an impressive cast, none of them match Gellar’s ruthless charm (except maybe Christine Baranski who is brilliant in everything she is in purely because she is Christine Baranski). This is perhaps one of Witherspoon’s weakest roles and Phillippe doesn’t get naked nearly as much as he should. Moreover, the plot plods along at a rather slow pace and not enough is done at the outset of the movie to inspire empathy for Phillippe’s character. When the climax finally happened, I was rather underwhelmed. Having said that, the film does have a banging soundtrack and features instant 90s classics such as Every You Every Me, Coffee & TV, and Bitter Sweet Symphony.

All jokes about me being a ho aside, the film does offer one useful piece of advice to teenagers and young adults: it’s alright to get your baps out in private but for the love of God don’t take photos. Tara Reid learns the hard way in this movie….which is kind of ironic if you think about it….or maybe it’s just appropriate…

Tara Reid BoobsI’ll let you be the judge


  • Sarah Michelle Gellar inspiring me to be a cunt and a slag. Although, I do draw the line at cocaine and incest.
  • Brilliant soundtrack.
  • IT’S SO 90s!!!!! So much nostalgia.
  • Score one for the lesbians.


  • Boring and two-dimensional characters.
  • Wealthy teenagers piss me off.
  • Disappointing climax.


Cruel Intentions is not the sort of film that will inspire admiration and it’s not the sort of film that will make anyone’s top 10 list. It’s clunky in places and, at times, improperly thought out and executed. However, I would advise you to watch this film purely for Sarah Michelle Gellar. Although she’s no Meryl Streep, Gellar has her own strengths and her own charm which are deployed in full force here and it’s always fun to watch a movie that has a brilliant villain.



Filed under Drama, Meh

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)


Genre: Animation, Drama

Cast: Aki Asakura, Kengo Kora, Takeo Chii

Synopsis: A bamboo cutter discovers a miniature girl inside a bamboo shoot. Believing her to be divine, he takes her home and raises the girl to be a princess.

Most people hate January. I, on the other hand, quite enjoy it because of one reason: Oscar season. This year I managed to see most of the big films that have been nominated. I have my favourites but I am of the opinion that certain mistakes were made by the academy. One big mistake was the failure to nominate The Lego Movie for best animated feature. However, the academy managed to get it right when it decided to nominate Song of the Sea and this Studio Ghibli film.

As you all know, I am a massive Ghibli fan. I love them so much I would marry Totoro if I could. So it comes a no surprise then that I thoroughly enjoyed this offering from Isao Takahata, who is responsible for other classics such as Pom Poko, Only Yesterday, and Grave of the Fireflies. Based on the Japanese folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, the film is about the life of a girl found in a bamboo shoot who is raised to be a princess during the Heian period. Despite being a princess, she goes through all the troubles young girls face such as falling in love, learning to become a lady, and celebrating her first visit from Aunt Rose by throwing a party for all the horny gentlemen in the surrounding area.

Period CakeThe traditional period cake

First of all, let me just say that this is one of the most exquisitely animated films Studio Ghibli has ever produced. I wasn’t sure if a film with a watercolour aesthetic would work but I was pleasantly surprised. The watercolours not only give the film a delicate feel but also a fluidity and level of simplicity that was much appreciated. Every frame in this film could have been a painting, and the animators at the studio have again displayed their talents as well as added to the studio’s reputation as a heavy-hitter in animation world. Two scenes in particular that stand out are the scene where the princess visits the cherry tree and the scene where she runs out of her period party. Both scenes are so beautiful you will have to rewatch them.

Visual beauty is not the only strength to this film. As always, Joe Hisaishi hits the nail on the head with his beautiful score and the script is sharp and injects appropriate humour in all the right places. Moreover, the film is yet another example of why Studio Ghibli is one of the most revolutionary film studios out there for presenting strong female characters and advocating a feminist message. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya essentially functions as a feminist critique of traditional Japanese culture. As such, the movie belongs to be placed on the same shelf with other pro-feminism movies such as Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. The film also examines another important theme: the burdens parents place on children and the transitory beauty of youth.

If I were to be completely objective, I would say that the film’s length is its downfall. Towards the end, the audience will begin to get twitchy and it doesn’t help that the last half gets pretty odd by Western standards. As much as I love ‘Japan WTF’ moments, even I found the kidnapping by Buddha weird.

buddhaFilthy bastard

However, these flaws don’t detract from the fact that this is a beautiful and moving work of art. I would like to see this win the Oscar for best animated feature, but it faces stiff competition.


  • Spectacular animation and a well-formed script.
  • “A girl needs to LOL every now and then.” You go girl! I want you as my future daughter.
  • Beautiful and transfixing music and sound.
  • I wish I were a Heian princess….only without the whole “YAY it’s your period” thing.


  • A bit too long.
  • Gets weird in places.


Another fine film for Studio Ghibli’s portfolio. While it isn’t the best film the studio’s produced, I am confident that it is one that will be fondly remembered in years to come and it will most definitely be one that I show my future daughter (assuming I have one). Do yourself a favour and watch this as soon as possible.



Filed under Action/Adventure, Drama, Great

Jackie Brown (1997)

Jackie Brown

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro

Synopsis: An aging flight attendant gets caught smuggling money into the US for a gun-runner. Unfortunately, some coke was hidden with the money. She then becomes the central figure in a plot to deceive both the dealer and the cops.

I have a theory that you can instantly tell what a person is like based on what their favourite Tarantino movie is. After more than twenty years in the industry, Tarantino has produced a diverse filmography that not only caters to his own individual style but also to the varied tastes of his audience. For the aesthetes, you have the visual glory of Kill Bill. For the experimental, you have the intoxicating effect of Pulp Fiction. And for those who love boobs and cars, you have Death Proof. My favourite Tarantino movie, however, is one of his least well-received: Jackie Brown. This film is for those who love complex characters and those who give greater weight to substance as opposed to style.

That’s not to say that Jackie Brown is lacking in style because it’s not. On the contrary, the film is chock-full of gorgeous camera work and the hallmarks of a traditional Tarantino film (think rapid and sharp conversation, a soundtrack that is on point, and feet). What I mean to say is that Jackie Brown feels like a more mature and a more subdued version of a Tarantino film. It is a film that functions as a character study and, for the majority of its duration, the audience is left to observe the complexities the central characters. Other Tarantino staples, such as ultra-violence and general fucked-up-ness, take a back-seat.

It would be impossible to write this review without saying anything about Pam Grier. Let’s just get one thing straight: I love that girl with all my heart. I remember the first time I saw Coffy. I knew it was love right away. Any woman who dumps a salad bowl on a cracker bitch and is smart enough to hide razor blades in her weave automatically wins my respect.

In Jackie Brown, Grier delivers a nuanced performance and gives Jackie layers. We see her character’s strength, her intelligence, her wit, and also her vulnerability. As the film progresses, the audience’s affectation and admiration for her grows and, by the end, we are all rooting for her. She is a character we can all respect and one we can all identify with on some level. Grier is not the only one who delivers a stellar performance. Robert Forster and Samuel L. Jackson both give it their all, Forster as a love-struck bondsman and Jackson as the ruthless gun-runner Ordell. In fact, I would say that this is Jackson’s best performance ever. While some may prefer his role in Pulp Fiction, I think it’s this film that allows him to display his range: he’s funny, quick, and terrifying all at the same time. Plus, the man gets props for putting a bullet in one of the most annoying fuckers in the galaxy.


To be frank, you can’t go wrong with this movie. I’m having a difficult time picking out anything I actively disliked. This is simply Tarantino at his finest.


  • Pam Grier kicking ass.
  • Samuel L. Jackson with the rattiest looking weave I have ever seen.
  • A well-paced and developed storyline that isn’t going to make you say: “say wut???”
  • The hooker dancing to The Supremes was hysterical.
  • A lovely ending: bitter-sweet with just the right amount of romance.
  • Killer soundtrack.


  • Sharonda the rock ho is pretty depressing.


If this is a Tarantino film you have yet to see then you are in for a treat my friend. It’s got top-notch characters, acting, writing, the whole shebang. Plus, it’s on Netflix. I’m almost tempted to give you my log in details just so you can watch it now.



Filed under Drama, Mind Blowingly Awesome, Thriller

Practical Magic (1998)

Practical Magic

Genre: Romance, Comedy

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman

Synopsis: Bullock and Kidman play two sister witches who are plagued by a curse: the men they fall in love with are doomed die early.

This must be one of the chickiest chick flicks to ever grace cinema. It’s got everything women love: sisterhood, sappy emotional drivel, and Wicca. Also, Sandra Bullock. She is like cat-nip for white women. Ordinarily these things combined would scare me off but, after having an American Horror Story: Coven marathon over the holiday season, I decided to give this a shot to see if it was just as good. Turns out it wasn’t. Surprise, surprise. However, as I always say, some of the worst films out there can become the best films with the aid of a little weed. While I wouldn’t say weed made this one of the best films, it certainly made it more enjoyable…most likely because it helped me to realise what this film is actually about.


Yes, that’s right. This film is all about Nicole Kidman’s character overcoming her addiction to blow. How do I know it’s about cocaine? Well, for starters Kidman runs away and becomes this groupie chick in the desert and then starts hanging around with a sordid crowd. She then goes into this house, kind of like the one in Boogie Nights, and then starts talking a lot about “Angel love” i.e. angel dust. Boom. She’s an addict. It’s hardly surprising really. Most films about witchcraft seem to have addiction as a central theme. Just look at The Craft, which was all about heroin addiction. I wonder why that is. It’s probably because performing magic would give you a power trip in the same way that doing drugs sends you on a trip. If you could alter the laws of the universe for personal gain, it would be hard to use that power responsibly. Willow from Buffy found out the hard way….and she was clearly on some strong shit.

Dark WillowMy guess is that it’s meth

So, drug abuse aside, what is good about this movie. Well, it’s quite stylish for one thing. These women live in a gorgeous house. It’s a grand old wooden Victorian house next to the ocean. It also has a sick greenhouse. I would push my mother down the stairs if it meant I could live in a house like that. Also, the soundtrack is surprisingly good in places. It’s got that one Faith Hill song in it that everyone likes but no one can remember the words to. However, the film also has a song in it in which the artist rhymes the word ‘glove’ with ‘love.’ That’s pretty amateur.

Something else that’s pretty amateur in places is the writing. Whoever wrote this film clearly had no idea about police procedure. I can’t believe these women let the cop in without a warrant and he handles evidence without the proper equipment. Any hack could get his entire case thrown out. Seriously writers, if you are going to have a cop as a character in your work, whatever it may be, please learn about proper police protocol. It’s very easy and it is mistakes like these that threaten to derail an otherwise coherent movie.


  • Stylish.
  • No matter how you look at it, Sandra Bullock is still kind of a BAMF.
  • It has the cat-faced lady who played Mona in the first Tales of the City series!
  • The scene where Sandra Bullock hears the beetle is actually quite good.


  • It kind of skims over the Salem witch trials, which is one of the most interesting points in history. I would have preferred more detail on how idiotic people were back then….”My milk hath gone sour! It must be the doing of a witch!” No, it’s because your dumb-ass left the milk outside in 40 degree weather.
  • It was sad how the kids stoned young Nicole. Kids are shits.


This is one of those light, feel-good movies that will completely disappear from your mind a few days after watching it. That’s not a bad thing. Sometimes it’s good to watch these sorts of movies just to kill some time or to impress your girlfriend. From an objective point of view, Practical Magic is kind of mediocre. Let’s be honest, it was never going to light the world on fire. However, under the right circumstances (i.e. you must be blitzed) it can be a pretty enjoyable film if you let it be. It wins points from me because of that.



Filed under Comedy, Good, Romance

Collateral (2004)


Genre: Thriller

Cast: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Mark Ruffalo, Jada Pinkett Smith

Synopsis: An unfortunate cabbie is forced to drive a hitman around LA so he can kill his targets.

A few days ago I noticed a post on Reddit that asked about good “unofficial trilogies.” The post that caught my eye was one in which someone suggested Collateral, Drive, and Nightcrawler. If you have been following my blog for a while, you will know that I love the last two movies. However, at the time I couldn’t confirm whether the suggestion was a good one because I hadn’t seen Collateral. I decided to change that and, after one of the most stressful work weeks of my life, I settled down for the night with my good friend Mary Jane, this film, and a bag of almonds because I had a wicked craving for almonds….not that that’s relevant.

Whenever I approach a Tom Cruise movie, I always worry it’s going to be terrible. I am not sure why that is exactly but it might have something to do with the Katie Holmes/Scientology affair. Whatever the reason, I am always forced to eat my words because the guy always manages to prove his worth. The same thing happened when I saw Edge of Tomorrow this year. In Collateral, he gives hitman Vincent a cool and steely demeanour but you can see that Cruise adds a hidden edge. You never know quite what to expect and the unpredictability of Cruise’s character heightens the film’s tension because anything could happen. This is perhaps best shown in the jazz club scene. The climax, although not entirely unexpected, was still a shock. Kind of like when my asshole colleague gives me Earl Grey tea when I ask for regular tea.

British-Simpsons-Tea-SpitMe….every damn day

The rest of the cast put in solid performances too but, for me, the real star of the film is the camera work. The film is noted as being the first major motion picture that used the Viper FilmStream High-Definition Camera. Michael Mann’s decision to use a digital camera for some of the scenes was a stroke of genius because it allows the audience to witness the Los Angeles in its raw glory. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Los Angeles is a beautiful city but it’s not an obvious beauty. It’s not beautiful in the way that San Francisco or Paris is beautiful. Los Angeles has grit and, on first glance, you would probably dismiss the city. However, the city’s beauty comes from the small details injected into the dark corners. It’s stuff like seeing the Downtown skyline surrounded by oranges, reds, and indigos at sunset. It’s seeing the wind blowing through the palm trees and knowing that the rugged wilderness of the desert mountains is at your door step. At times it feels as if nature is reclaiming the city. Collateral captures those moments very well, as evidenced by this scene.

When I first watched this scene, I thought it was a bit cheesy but I found myself rewatching it and every time I saw it my appreciation grew. Any film that captures the duality of the city’s character immediately gets my approval and this film does it every bit as well as Drive and Nightcrawler. Therefore, I think it is appropriate to lump these films together as an unofficial trilogy. If I were to name the trilogy, it would be something along the lines of the “LA Traffic Light Trilogy.”

However, it is my personal belief that Collateral is the weakest of the three films. That’s not to say that it is bad. I just feel that the film didn’t do enough to push the envelope in the way that Drive and Nightcrawler did. Those two films delivered an emotional experience that hit a lot harder and ended on an ambiguous note, ensuring that the experience kept in the mind of the audience after they left their seats. Collateral is a very good film but it feels a little too clean-cut. The ambiguity isn’t there and it ends with a nice little bow on top. I would have preferred something a bit more complex.


  • The beauty of Los Angeles is on full display here.
  • KTOWN!!! My old hood!
  • Solid performances, including a cameo from Javier Bardem.
  • Astonishing camera work.


  • Why are these people still dancing in the club after some guy has been killed in front of them?
  • You wouldn’t walk away from a car accident like that.


Collateral is a very good Los Angeles neo-noire and I’m glad that I finally got around to watching it. If you’re a fan of the genre, as I am, then by all accounts you should see this movie. While it does have its flaws, they do not spoil the positives and the film may just encourage you to take that trip to LA….which is kind of weird because this movie is about people getting shot in LA.



Filed under Good, Thriller