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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

There Is Something ‘Insidious’ About The Poor Marketing For This Effectively Scary Film

Insidious: 4 out of 5
Renai:  He’s not in a coma.  They don’t know what to call it.
I think perception plays a key role when one makes a decision about going to see a horror film.  While I would not say I am a snob when it comes to horror films, I do consider myself pretty choosey about which ones I see, especially when it comes down to what the film is rated.  In recent times, there have been a slew of films that have either been focused on extreme amounts of gore or copping out with cheap “jump scares” in order to secure a PG-13 rating.  There are always some exceptions (Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell immediately comes to mind), but for the most part it is the latter pattern that is followed, with studios churning out lame PG-13 horror flicks (usually remakes) that lack actual suspense and horror.  Fortunately, the subject of this review, Insidious, managed to be one of those exceptions and functioned as an effectively scary piece of work.

‘Peep World’ Is An Uneven Look At A Dysfunctional Family

Peep World = 2 out of 5 Stars
Joel:  Do you think that I’m a failure?
Mary:  Who said that?
Joel:  My father; my family; pretty much everyone I know.
There are ways to make a dysfunctional-family comedy work.  Arrested Development will go down as one of the great comedy television shows of all time, because of the wide range of talent split between all of the different members of the family, the dynamic of those relationships, and how super sharp and hilarious the writing was.  Peep World feels like an attempt to recreate the spirit of that sort of show and push all of the similar themes into a story that only spans 90 minutes of screen time.  The result is very uneven, as there is a great cast present, but the writing is not nearly as sharp or funny as it needs to be.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe Episode 2: Sucker Punch


UPDATE:  The podcast has now been uploaded to the HHWLOD Podcast Network, so it may sound slightly better.

Back for more.  So this is another rough recording of a potential podcast in the making involving my good friend Abe and I, discussing movies.  This particular recording features Sucker Punch as the main feature review, but there are also mentions of other movie related topics such as the new Captain America trailer, the merits of films similar to our main feature, and other rough sketches of what could become recurring segments of the podcast.  If anyone happens to listen to this, I hope they enjoy it.  I also hope that future iterations of this yet untitled podcast will be more organized, sound better, and become available in a more convenient way. Again, enjoy.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

‘Sucker Punch’ Aims High, But Is Really A Low Blow


Sucker Punch:  2 out of 5
Madam Gorski:  You’re safe.  You are all safe.  What you are imagining right now, that place can be as real as any pain.  Don’t be afraid, you have all the weapons you need.
So this movie was a big sandbox of ideas, ambition, and disappointment.  In terms of editing, style, and structure, watching Sucker Punch was like watching a day’s worth of programming on MTV, crammed into a long, two hour movie.  It begins early with a couple music videos; it then gives us shallow, underdeveloped, yet beautiful (skimpily dressed) teenage girls – dancing, fighting, and getting into one ridiculous situation after the other; then, finally, the film tries to hit us with a deeper message, while raising the stakes to help us feel the turmoil of the main character; we also get a hip dance number at the end.  Sucker Punch is a very messy film that strives for something deeper than style within the kitchen sink, which is not only thrown in with everything else, but blown up in a loud, “cool”, explosion.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Out Now with Aaron and Abe Episode 1: Battle: Los Angeles


UPDATE:  We now have a title and better audio source.

So this is a rough recording of a potential podcast in the making involving my good friend Abe and I, discussing movies.  This particular recording features Battle: Los Angeles as the main feature review, but there are also mentions of other movie related topics such as the new Super 8 trailer, the merits of films similar to our main feature, and other rough sketches of what could become recurring segments of the podcast.  If anyone happens to listen to this, I hope they enjoy it.  I also hope that future iterations of this yet untitled podcast will be more organized, sound better, and become available in a more convenient way. Again, enjoy.

Four Lions Is Wicked, Explosive Fun

Four Lions: 4 out of 5
Waj: We'll blow something up.
Omar: What we gonna blow up Waj?
Waj: Internet.
It is films like these that I want to instantly share with people.  Four Lions is such a funny, dark, and offbeat satire that it deserves to be seen by more people, especially those wanting to be treated by something original, even if it treads along a seemingly non-funny premise.  To pitch this as high concept to those unfamiliar:  Four Lions is what would happen if you crossed The Three Stooges with the subject of radical Muslim suicide bombers, and then filmed the material as if it was This is Spinal Tap.  You may have done a double take after seeing the phrase “radical Muslim suicide bombers,” but I can assure you, this film is a hilarious and wickedly satirical take on could be easily seen as a controversial topic.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

'Please Give' In And Watch This Dark Comedy

Please Give: 4 out of 5

Kate: I'm not spending U$ 200 on a pair of jeans for my teenage daughter when there are '45' homeless people living...
Abby: What does that have to do with anything? They don't want jeans!  

Please Give is the type of comedy art house comedy that features a collection of good actors all given great dialogue to play off of with each other.  It can be a little alienating for some, as the comedy has the kind of sharp edge/awkward nature that can put some people off; however, the film as a whole is a nice study about two different families.  The plot is not uneventful, but it does present fairly ordinary situations brought to the length of a full feature.  I found that the film may not have had immensely likable characters, but for the most part it worked well at delivering a solid comedic drama.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hitch A Ride With ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’, If You Can Afford It

The Lincoln Lawyer = 3 ½ out of 5
Mick Haller:  Are you sure there’s not anything that you’re not telling me?
For a March release coming out a week after winter’s summer film – Battle: Los Angeles, it certainly feels like The Lincoln Lawyer is quite the event itself.  Ads have been everywhere for this movie, but I can certainly see its appeal.  There is a large list of actors involved, the story is based off of a bestselling novel, and courtroom dramas tend to be quite appealing for audiences.  It helps that the film is very entertaining, with strong performances from many of these actors.  I also can’t help but think that rolling around in a black Lincoln may cause some attraction as well.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Had A Fun, Close Encounter With ‘Paul’


Paul = 3 ½ out of 5
Graeme: You are an alien!
Paul: To you I am, yes.
Graeme: Are you gonna probe us?
Paul: Why does everyone always assume that?  What am I doing?  Harvesting farts?  How much can I learn from an ass?
It seems like 2011 is going to be littered with aliens and otherworldly beings.  Paul falls into that category and I feel I must clarify what it is, as the TV spots I have seen for it do really poor justice to what is quite a funny movie.  Paul is an R-rated, road trip, buddy comedy with an extraterrestrial twist.  If features a great cast of comedic actors and has been written as a geek-friendly love letter to Steven Spielberg.  The film very much relies on paying homage to tons of sci-fi films, using reoccurring gags, direct quotes, and lots of in-jokes.  While the film is very funny, it does have some hit-or-miss moments involving the lack of subtlety with its references.  Still, this is certainly a fun take on a sci-fi adventure, which is aided by the talent involved, including the special effects work on the title character.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Plain ‘Jane Eyre’ Has A New Good Looking Adaptation


Jane Eyre = 3 ½ out of 5
Edward Rochester:  Your gaze is very direct Ms. Eyre, do you think me handsome?
Jane Eyre:  No sir.
Edward Rochester:  You’re afraid of me.
Jane Eyre:  I’m not afraid.
Jane Eyre is the umpteenth adaptation of the famous English novel by Charlotte Bronte.  Strangely, this latest version features the most explosions and gratuitous sex scenes yet.  That is a lie; this version of the film is very focused on its visuals.  Along with some very good cinematography, the film moves along through visual plot development, as opposed to relying on voiceover narration.  While I can admire a film, drenched in the Victorian England atmosphere, making it up to me to follow all that is going on, there is also the factor of how invested I felt I wanted to be in the film.  Despite fine performances, among other factors, I still remained fairly indifferent towards this film overall, but that doesn’t mean I can’t admire what is being presented.

‘The Music Never Stopped’ Unless It Was Trying To Make You Cry


The Music Never Stopped = 3 out of 5
Diane:  We may be able to use music as a tool to reawaken parts of his memory.
Films like The Music Never Stopped fall into a line of films that are easy to absorb on the surface.  They are heartfelt dramas, usually based around true stories, relying on significant events to make you feel deeply for those affected by them.  This is not a bad thing, but these types of films do straddle the line of becoming too “Hallmark Channel” for their own good.  It is fortunate that the lead performance by character actor J.K. Simmons is so strong and sincere, that for all its faults, the movie nearly gets over its notions toward pulling at the heartstrings, instead of being more subtle in its intentions.  I liked this movie, but I am also on to its game.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Trashy Thriller Plot Narrows ‘Limitless’ Potential

Limitless = 3 out of 5
Eddie:  How many of us know what it is to become the perfect version of ourselves?
Limitless is based around the notion of a myth and a “what if” question.  The myth involves the idea that people only use about 10% of their brains.  This film asks the question – "what if" you could take a pill that would open up the rest of your mind.  What follows is a story that begins fairly interestingly, only to turn into a trashy thriller midway through.  Fortunately, it is benefited by a capable and fun lead performance by Bradley Cooper, some stylish direction, and the puzzling presence of Robert De Niro.  In addition, I was not necessarily surprised by this film, but it did help that it was taken to places that were unpredictably extreme.  Who knew that being super smart could lead to so much violence?

Paul Giamatti Stars In Another ‘Win Win’


Win Win = 4 out of 5
Mike:  What’s it like to be as good as you?
Kyle:  It feels like I’m in control…of everything, you know.
Mike:  Must be nice.
Win Win is the kind of movie I will be championing for a while.  I do not think it will necessarily be one of my favorites of the year (honorable mention, sure), but it has the kind of charm and humor that makes for a movie I want many people to see, especially given that it will probably reach only so many theaters.  Paul Giamatti leads a talented cast, in a film that is a comedy-drama about family, teenage angst, and wrestling.  While plot complications may pile on top of each other, it is the natural human qualities that makes this film work and feel authentic, especially with its humor.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Make Sure To Bring A Game Controller To Play ‘Battle: Los Angeles’


Battle: Los Angeles = 3 out of 5
Lt. Martinez:  It’s an ambush!
Along with many people with similar interests to me, I am a big video game player.  Recently, I have played the latest entry in the Call of Duty franchise, which I have joked around with my friends about how over-the-top all of the action and story moments are.  While watching Battle: Los Angeles, I could not help but be reminded of several different video games, along with many other movies.  I found it ironic that the production company behind this hyper real, alien invasion film was named ‘Original Film,’ because the entire film felt like a greatest hits reel from so many different films and games that I have seen and played.  However, I knew what I was getting into before seeing this film, and it certainly maintained a level of visceral thrills throughout.  I had fun watching a bunch of grunts battle an army of poorly designed aliens, and that’s all this game film wanted to accomplish.

Friday, March 11, 2011

You’ll Want To Return Your Little ‘Red Riding Hood’ To Grandma


Red Riding Hood = 1 ½ Stars
Henry:  Just so you know, if you are the wolf, I’m going to cut your head off.
Peter:  And if you’re the wolf, I’ll do the same.
While walking away from the theater, I was discussing with the person I saw this film with what genre it would be considered.  Red Riding Hood is certainly not a scary at all, nor does it have any real tension or suspense.  It is not much of a drama, because none of the performers really seemed to be effected very deeply by any of what is happening (murders, weather, etc.).  I guess I could say it was a fantasy film, as it does strive to be about a werewolf terrorizing a village, even though the wolf is a horrible computer creation.  Really, this film is just a mess.  It has no identity, moving between the lines of melodramatic, campy, and serious drama/romance/horror.  This is a shame, because I can see the concept of a new twist on this old tale working in a different film; a better film.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

You’d Be Lucky To Cross Paths With ‘The Adjustment Bureau’


The Adjustment Bureau:  3 ½ out of 5
Richardson:  You’ve just seen behind a curtain that you weren’t even supposed to know existed.
There can be a lot of fun had when you put together two different genres of film.  In the case of The Adjustment Bureau, a romance story is mixed with sci-fi fundamentals.  I put romance before sci-fi, because this film is very much a love story that happens to have a sci-fi twist and not the other way around.  I have a feeling many will be expecting more of a thriller, based on the marketing, but this film is a story about two people trying to overcome their odds to be together.  There are some clever chase scenes, but there are also no guns involved in this story, which I hope does not put people off.  Me, I was just intrigued by how nice all of the character’s hats looked.  And it also helps that the story is intriguing enough and the leads are quite good together.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Fistful of ‘Rango’


Rango’ = 4 ½ out of 5
Pricilla:  You’ve got funny lookin’ eyes.
Rango:  Well you’ve got a funny lookin’ face!
Pricilla:  …You’re a stranger.  Strangers don’t last long here.
I’m gonna start off big with this one partner – Rango is the best film I have seen so far this year.  I absolutely loved watching this movie.  It is incredibly well crafted, scored, gorgeous to watch, funny, and handled greatly in its action.  It is also quite weird, in a good way.  For a major studio release, which will mostly be seen by kids, there is a lot of satirical and weird humor layered throughout this film, yet it all works so well.  Rango is a fantastic western adventure comedy that will hopefully be enjoyed by many.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Forcast Is Good For 'The Weather Man'

The Weather Man = 4 out of 5

(Another throwback, I just saw a Nic Cage movie and Rango comes out soon, so here's a mix of the two (note: I also enjoy how my writing has evolved, as this is a five year old review) )

Dave Spritz: Always fast food. Fast food. Things that people would rather throw out than finish. It's easy, it tastes all right, but it doesn't really provide you any nourishment. I'm fast food.

Nic Cage is great as the sad sack, loser weather man, and that's really what the movie is about, and it's nice to see him try to better himself, and I care when he does.

'Cold Souls' or Frosty Delight

Cold Souls = 4 out of 5 Stars

(Another throwback review I stumbled across - an overlooked movie from 2009 that is now on Netflix Watch Instant)
Dr. Flinstein: Believe me, when you get rid of the soul, everything makes so much more sense.
A very weird and deep comedy starring Paul Giamatti as himself. This film feels very much like a story from the mind of Charlie Kaufman, but its not. This is an original story with some obvious influences. Its funny, clever, and has a few elements of greatness that elevate it a bit more.

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