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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 28 – Moneyball


This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe totally Jiggles.  Obscure “don’t-get-it-til-you-hear-it” joke aside, Abe and Aaron, along with special guests Leah Ducey and Matt Dunbar have a lot of fun delving into the subject of Moneyball starring Brad Pitt, imparting some thoughts on the new TV season thus far, and laying down the gauntlet when it comes to game time (Yeah!).  Of course, along with the main review and this other fun stuff, the group tackles the other regular segments of the show as well, including “know everybody”, trailer talk (J. Edgar and The Grey), box office results, and some retro reviews.

Of course, in addition to this episode, there are many more episodes to be found on iTunes, as well as on the hosted site, The HHWLOD Podcast Network, and still at outnow.podomatic.com for mainly the newest episodes and some exclusives.  One can also learn more at the official Facebook page for Out Now, facebook.com/outnowpodcast (“like” it), which features updates from Aaron and Abe’s personal blogs, other random posts, and some photo albums.  Finally, feel free to e-mail the show at outnowpodcast@gmail.com with any sort of feedback or add an iTunes rating/review.  

So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…

Monday, September 26, 2011

Aaron’s Most Anticipated Films For Fall 2011



So now that we have left the summer movie season behind (a recap featuring the Why So Blu crew’s top picks can be found HERE), it is time to get into the big fall releases.  There are a lot of great looking releases on their way, including both “prestige” level films as well as those that look to be a lot of fun.  Rather than try to rank out a top ten, I have simply put these films in order of their release date, acknowledging that there is only a small chance that any of these would change.  Once again, I am using the term “fall” somewhat loosely, as I am applying it to films arriving in theaters post Labor Day and up to the end of the year.  With that said, there are enough films on the way that I have even made a long list of other notable releases below these selected titles.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Standard Statham Romp Gets Star Aid In ‘Killer Elite’


Killer Elite = 2 ½ out of 5
Danny:  I’m done with killing.
Agent:  Well, killing’s not done with you.
It is sometimes fun to write about the various adventures of Jason Statham, but other times it can present a challenge.  Being perhaps the only pure modern action star of today, when Jason Statham makes a fun action movie, it is worth getting excited about and easy to go into detail about his latest wild and crazy adventures (see Crank, The Transporter).  On the other side of things, when Statham makes a fairly generic action film, it becomes a bit tedious to try and find what separates it from the others (see The Mechanic, War).  There is that third option as well (see Snatch, Lock Stock, or The Bank Job), which involves Statham embracing a different side to his natural cool factor that is not nearly embraced enough.  Unfortunately, as much as I could have hoped for either option 1 or 3, Killer Elite falls into the generic category, which is only slightly aided by the presence of two well qualified co-stars.

This ‘Moneyball’ Has Been Hit Over The Fence


Moneyball = 4 out of 5
Billy Beane:  If we win with this team, we’ve changed the game for good.
In general, I am not big of watching professional sports.  However, if I had to name a favorite, it would be baseball.  Having said that, I only knew so much about the subject matter being addressed in Moneyball, a well written sports drama, based on true events, about a man attempting to shake up an old system with the intention to create a winning baseball team that is both ambitious and cost effective.  The film is effectively made and well acted, creating an atmosphere that seems to communicate the situation and the stakes quite well to audiences that could either be quite knowledgeable of Billy Bean’s history with the Oakland A’s or unaware of the various in and outs when it comes to managing a baseball team.  Regardless, it is an engaging film with a solid grasp on the material presented.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lock And Load With ‘Machine Gun Preacher’


Machine Gun Preacher = 3 ½ out of 5
Sam:  Reckon they can do with all the help they can get.
When I first heard the title and saw a poster for Machine Gun Preacher, I certainly got the wrong impression.  In the wake of films like Machete and Hobo with a Shotgun, I was definitely caught off guard by the very “grindhouse” nature of the film’s title.  Machine Gun Preacher is actually a fairly intense biopic that deals with the plight of a man who reforms his ways, after having lived a life as a drug-dealing biker thug, and becomes a crusader of sorts for Sudanese orphans.  It is an interesting story that has a few problems with addressing the morality of the situation and being a bit too sentimental; however, star Gerard Butler certainly gives it his all in a commanding performance.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 27 - Drive


Drive, don’t run, to this week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe!  Lame opening joke aside, yes, this week’s episode is all about Drive, the car-based crime thriller from director Nicolas Winding Refn, starring Ryan Gosling.  Joining Aaron and Abe for this film review is special guest Kyle Stroud to add to the fun of talking about this movie.  Surrounding the review of the film are all the regular show segments, including “know everybody”, trailer talk (we discuss Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy and The Rum Diary), box office results, retro reviews (quite a few good flicks are mentioned here), and games.

Of course, in addition to this episode, there are many more episodes to be found on iTunes, as well as on the hosted site, The HHWLOD Podcast Network, and still at outnow.podomatic.com for mainly the newest episodes and some exclusives.  One can also learn more at the official Facebook page for Out Now, facebook.com/outnowpodcast (“like” it), which features updates from Aaron and Abe’s personal blogs, other random posts, and some photo albums.  Finally, feel free to e-mail the show at outnowpodcast@gmail.com with any sort of feedback or add an iTunes rating/review.  
So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…

Friday, September 16, 2011

Buckle Up And ‘Drive’


Drive:  5 out of 5
Driver: If I drive for you, you give me a time and a place. I give you a five-minute window, anything happens in that five minutes and I'm yours no matter what. I don't sit in while you're running it down; I don't carry a gun... I drive.
Seeing the pieces fall together in a film all so perfectly is a beautiful thing.  The right combinations can sometimes still make for chaos, but at other times work in perfect rhythms.  Drive presents this very positive latter angle.  Taking a standard crime-story and turning into a piece of neo-noir art makes for a great cinematic experience.  This film accomplishes that.  Drive is stylish, pulpy fun.  The type of inventive film that makes an old plot feel very fresh; and its lead by Nicolas Winding Refn’s fantastic direction and Ryan Gosling’s quiet cool as the lead.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

You Can Put These Remade ‘Straw Dogs’ To Sleep


Straw Dogs:  2 out of 5
Charlie:  We take care of our own.
I do not always have a chance to do this, but I have to sort of defend a movie that I am not all that partial to.  The original 1971 Straw Dogs, from director Sam Peckinpah, was a film that came out during a transitional time in Hollywood, the New Hollywood period.  It was controversial at the time and to this day, presenting a number of difficult scenes to watch, while serving as an exploration of violence in different forms with ambiguous answers to some of the actions of the characters.  This 2011 update has nothing to say and feels completely unnecessary.  While admittedly well made in places, this is the worst kind of remake, one that does not go the route of reimagining plot elements from the original and instead follows the same path beat for beat.  It is not even as if the original film had much commercial appeal, so I am not really sure where this idea has come from.  Regardless, few well done moments aside, this is an exercise in melodramatic build up to gruesome events with no purpose beyond providing mild excitement for the audience.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 26 – Contagion

 
This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe brings our two hosts and two guests (Adam Gentry and Mark Hobin) together as they prepare for a global pandemic.  Steven Soderbergh’s new film Contagion is the main topic of discussion and the gang is suited in their hazmat gear and ready to tackle this new take on the global disease drama/thriller.  Of course none of this is as dire as it sounds, it’s simply a lengthy discussion about the film, bookended by all the regular segments, including “know everybody”, trailer talk (Haywire and The Ides of March), box office results and predictions, retro reviews, and of course game time.

Of course, in addition to this episode, there are many more episodes to be found on iTunes, as well as on the hosted site, The HHWLOD Podcast Network, and still at outnow.podomatic.com for mainly the newest episodes and some exclusives.  One can also learn more at the official Facebook page for Out Now, facebook.com/outnowpodcast (“like” it), which features updates from Aaron and Abe’s personal blogs, other random posts, and some photo albums.  Finally, feel free to e-mail the show at outnowpodcast@gmail.com with any sort of feedback or add an iTunes rating/review. 

So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…

Monday, September 12, 2011

Aaron’s Top Films of Summer 2011


This is pretty self explanatory; I put together my top ten list for the summer of 2011.  I have also listed off various summer awards, which were described in detail, along with more in a previous episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe (Episode 25), the podcast I host with Abe.  So continue on to see a ranked order of my favorite summer flicks, followed by a fun look at various awards I have given out to various films (best hero, villain, funniest scene, etc.).  Enjoy.

Monty Says Goodbye In His 25th Hour

Note:  I took time to revisit 25th Hour, as I had not watched it in quite some time and had been wanting to.  What's posted below are my written thoughts about the film, which I originally had written long ago, before my style had evolved to its slightly better structure seen in my other posts, enjoy.

Monty Brogan: Champagne for my real friends, and real pain for my sham friends.

A Spike Lee joint with all the familiar trade marks, visuals, and a stellar cast. Everyone brings their A-game, especially Ed Norton who is great as a busted drug dealer, who has just one day to settle the things in his life before he goes to jail, essentially ending his old life.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Some Thoughts: The Lion and The Beast Are Given New Dimension


Given that I managed to have the rare chance to see both Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King in 3D, I figured I would put up some thoughts about these new versions of old classics.  Both are films that, before watching them recently in this new format, I have not watched in their entirety since the VHS days.  I was certainly looking forward to revisiting them, simply due to the fact that I think they are both great films.  As far as the 3D is concerned, while I don't want to go too much into detail on how the process was done, from all that I have read, there were a lot of considerations and efforts made to properly convert these films and make them look great with the added dimension.  Considering the fact that these are HD versions of wonderfully animated films, adding a whole new dimension is not necessarily something to count out, just because it is ostensibly a gimmick. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

‘Contagion’ Spreads Procedural-Style Chills


Contagion:  4 out of 5
Dr. Erin Mears: The average person touches their face 3-5 times every minute.  In between that we’re touching door knobs, water fountains, and each other.
With Contagion, acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh moves away from his more obscure arthouse fair and back into more mainstream film territory.  The result is a procedural-style thriller geared towards adults and it is plenty effective in having the surrounding audience be weary of anyone who coughs near them after having seen the film.  Using a similar template as he did with Traffic, Soderbergh has taken away the sensationalizing of a thriller based around a global virus pandemic and focuses on a core set of characters “realistically” doing what they can, given the situation they are in.  As a result, while not without some characterization issues, the film is absorbing, well made and acted for certain, and quite chilling at times.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

‘Warrior’ Skillfully Tackles The Mixed Martial Art of Acting, Action, and Storytelling


Warrior:  4 out of 5
Principal Zito:  Brendan you’re a teacher, you have no business being in the ring with those animals.
Brendan:  Actually, I used to be one of those animals
When it comes to addressing the sports movie genre, I tend to be a bit unenthusiastic.  While there are many good sports movies, I feel it’s a genre of film that really needs to do something special to get me to want to appreciate it more.  Warrior has done that.  It is an inspiring, heartfelt, and action-packed film that features great performances all around and manages to place itself within the higher rankings of the sports film genre.  I would not say it manages to completely subvert some of the standard conventions of this type of film, but it does a great job at embracing some of them, while not turning up the melodrama or going overboard with the dramatic stakes of the film.  Most importantly, this is a film that is completely engaging thanks to its fine performances based around two brothers caught up in believable family drama and the extreme world of mixed martial arts.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 25 – Apollo 18 and the 2011 Summer Awards



This week on Out Now with Aaron and Abe sees the return of guest Susan Moua, as the group goes over their thoughts on Apollo 18 and has some fun naming off awards for the various films of the summer as well.  As per usual, the gang goes through the familiar segments; some random questions to start off with their “know everybody” segment, followed by trailer talk, where Dream House and Killer Elite are given a little attention.  This then leads to the main review of Apollo 18, followed by box office results, and the retro reviews.  Finally, in place of games, a large portion of the episode is spent giving out various awards (best hero, villain, funniest scene, etc.) to the films that have come out this summer.  It is a nice way to cap off the end of the summer movie season.

Of course, in addition to this episode, there are many more episodes to be found on iTunes, as well as on the hosted site, The HHWLOD Podcast Network, and still at outnow.podomatic.com for mainly the newest episodes and some exclusives.  One can also learn more at the official Facebook page for Out Now, facebook.com/outnowpodcast (“like” it), which features updates from Aaron and Abe’s personal blogs, other random posts, and some photo albums.  Finally, feel free to e-mail the show at outnowpodcast@gmail.com with any sort of feedback or add an iTunes rating/review.  

So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…

Saturday, September 3, 2011

‘Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil’ Is A Fun Spin On The Cabin In The Woods Story


Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil:  4 out of 5
Tucker: He’s heavy for half a guy.
In the past few weeks I have seen a number of horror films fitting into sub-genres that include vampire films, haunted house films, and found footage films.  Another well worn horror sub-genre would have to be the old “cabin in the woods” story, which pits a group of innocents against unknown evil in the middle of the wilderness.  The Evil Dead films would be at the top for me in this category, but many other entries have come and gone as well.  Tucker & Dale vs. Evil has an ingenious premise for this type of film.  Instead of being a standard “cabin in the woods” type story, it pulls a reversal.  The heroes are in fact the hillbillies that would generally be terrorizing the innocent teenagers.  Due to clever writing, some really hilarious sequences and deaths, and a bit of a self aware quality, this film fits well into the Shaun of the Dead-type league of successfully playing off of its genre, while becoming an entry into it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

‘Apollo 18’ Answers Questions About The Moon That No One Has Been Asking


Apollo 18:  2 out of 5
Ben:  There’s something out there.
Apollo 18 is the perfect example for how to market an empty paper bag.  It is not that I hated this film, it actually does a few things right, but I found that there was way more intrigue in the setup to this film before it even hit theaters, before actually seeing the final results.  The simple image of another footprint overlapping an astronaut’s footprint on the moon is fairly clever.  Describing the premise is fun.  The result delivers what you’d expect, just without the proper execution that resulted in solid tension or scares, which is instead replaced by cheap startles and dullness.  The best thing I can say about Apollo 18 is that it was as if the guys at NASA (who felt the need to separate themselves from this film), were big fans of the Paranormal Activity movies and used their own equipment to make a parody version.  

Thursday, September 1, 2011

‘The Debt’ Is A Decent, Late Summer Distraction


The Debt:  3 out of 5
David:  What if we could go back?  Would it be different?
Rachel:  We can’t go back.
After a year long delay, The Debt has now arrived in theaters.  While at one time thought to be a possible Oscar contender, it now seems that it has been dumped into the end of summer release period.  While this is not something that necessarily matters in relation to my thoughts on the film, the positioning of this film’s release does seem expected at this point.  Despite its potential to have been something better (I should add that it is a remake of a 2007 Israeli film), it ultimately amounts to having some strong moments and a good cast, but does not manage to bring things together quite well enough by the end.  I was intrigued enough by the 70s-style espionage elements early on, but less so by the film’s conclusion.  The Debt maybe didn’t deserve to be dumped into theaters; it just doesn’t match its assumed prestige status.

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