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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 36 – The Muppets and Hugo



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe focuses on the nostalgic double feature that was The Muppets and Hugo, both of which came out over Thanksgiving weekend.  Joining Aaron and Abe to discuss these features are guests Mark Hobin and Matt Dunbar.  Given the depressing nature of the art house and independent films featured in last week’s fun, but obscure episode, talking about the fun and sincerity of The Muppets and Hugo is certainly a fun way to get things back in the fun zone.  People should note the use of plenty of familiar Muppet tunes laced throughout this episode as well.  Of course along with the main film reviews, other segments returns as well, including “know everybody”, trailer talk, box office results and predictions, retro reviews, games, and other fun stuff.

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, November 25, 2011

Whimsical Charm Runs Through Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’ Like Clockwork



Hugo:  4 out of 5
Hugo:  Can we fix him?
Father:  Of course we can fix him.
I feel that there are two ways to really delve into Martin Scorsese’s 3D adventure/drama Hugo.  On the one hand, I could address the fact that this is less a film for children, as the marketing would imply, and more a loving tribute to the creation of magic via the film format during the early days of cinema.  While the film does revolve around a young boy going on an adventure to unlock a secret (a fairly generic one line summary), the whole things feels much more geared towards cinema history enthusiasts.  Now on the other hand, I could talk more about the way Scorsese uses 3D in this film.  Simply put, this is the best use of 3D in a live-action film I have seen (Avatar included) and I would be plenty willing to recommend seeing it in that format.  As a whole, I would say this is a splendid film through and through, given both the heartfelt story and the technical accomplishment that Scorsese pulls off in its colorful creation.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

‘The Descendants’ Is Set In Hawaii, But It’s Not All Sunshine And Rainbows


The Descendants:  3 ½ out of 5
Matt King:  I’m just trying to keep my head above water.
I was starting to wonder where Alexander Payne went.  Following the large success of 2004’s Sideways, I was hoping to see more films from him sooner.  Payne has made success out of strong comedy-dramas, with some dark and satiric edges to them and I have been a fan of his films.  Now he has finally come back with a new dramatic feature, with some comedic elements, involving a family man dealing with a trauma, among other issues he faces.  The ace up Payne’s sleeve this time around is having George Clooney as his lead.  While Clooney does get to play it smart and provide one of his best performances, he has also ditched a lot of the things that make him cool.  As a result, this film serves as a well made, low-key drama that doesn’t do a lot that is unexpected in the way of story, but is certainly assured in its writing and performances.

‘The Muppets’ Slapped A Smile On My Face And Made It Stay There


The Muppets:  4 ½ out of 5
Statler:  I always dreamed we'd be back here.
Waldorf:  Dreams? Those where nightmares!
It is not often that I try to put so many hopes into one specific film, but I was dead set on wanting to love The Muppets.  Besides being pleased with who was involved in the production and the cast, I just get a great joy out of these characters every time I see them.  Thankfully it all worked out, as after finally seeing the first new Muppet movie in over 12 years, I can easily say that it was one of the most pleasing experiences of this year.  For me, The Muppets was a laugh-a-minute comedy; jam packed with fun, silliness, classic Muppets meta humor, self aware musical numbers, and the endearing nature of the old and new characters.  The Muppets manages to have fun with its own nostalgia, while proving it can still bring its familiar brand of humor to a new generation.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Special Episode - Art House/Indie Showcase 2011 Spectacular



This week’s special episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is jam packed with film discussion and guests!  Given that neither Aaron nor Abe had much desire to go in depth in discussing Twilight or Happy Feet 2, a decision was made to discuss many of the recent Art House/Independent films that have come to theaters this fall.  To help the duo in this discussion, Mark Hobin, Adam Gentry, Mark Johnson, and Gerard Iribe all join in to provide their perspectives.  The films discussed include Melancholia, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Take Shelter, Margin Call, Like Crazy, The Devil’s Double, and The Skin I Live In, with mention to several other films as well.  And even with all that, there was still time to include a few of the regular segments including “Know Everybody” and Trailer Talk.

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…

Secrets Revealed On Shutter Island

Shutter Island:  4 out of 5

Note:  In preparation for the latest Martin Scorsese film, Hugo, I decided to revisit his last film, Shutter Island, which is like the exact opposite of Hugo.  The following is the initial review I posted after the first viewing.  The only thing I can really add is that the film definitely benefits from repeated viewings.
Teddy Daniels: Pull it together Teddy.
A well made thriller from director Martin Scorsese. This is essentially a really slick B-movie, in the same realm as his last big Hollywood thriller, Cape Fear, the remake from back in 1991, which came after Goodfellas. Here, Scorsese clearly isn't working to make a monumental film to surpass the success he had with The Departed; he's instead made a film that sets out to unnerve its viewers as they try to unravel the mysteries surrounding the plot, and he does so by adding amazing art direction and a superb cast into the mix.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Feel Free To Travel To ‘Another Earth’


Another Earth:  4 ½ out of 5
Purdeep:  Listen to me.  Keep your mind clear and that’s it.  You will have peace of mind.  My dear don’t worry.  Learn to adjust yourself.
On the heels of watching Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, I was able to see Another Earth.  Apparently I am a sucker for existential sci-fi dramas that revolve around the dilemmas of the main characters as they deal with their own tragedies, along with the presence of another planet coming dangerously close to earth, because as with Melancholia, I really dug this film as well.  While there is an intriguing subject in this film that involves the existence of a duplicate world and the chance to communicate with it, most of the sci-fi-ness, like Melancholia, is pushed into the background, as the film moves at a deliberate pace and deals with the drama surrounding the lead characters.  As the first feature film from director Mike Cahill, I found Another Earth to be quite well acted and assuredly made; but the notion of thinking what my double would do, alone, managed to keep me involved with the film.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

‘Melancholia’ Is A Beautiful Portrait Of Depression And The End


Melancholia:  5 out of 5
Justine:  Life is only on Earth.  And not for long.
Based on the peppy title I have given to this review, audiences should know they should be bracing themselves for doom; although I could be misleading you, were you not to look further.  Earlier in 2011, Terrence Malick arose from the depths of wherever he goes in the many years in between his films to bring us Tree of Life, a beautifully made film about the beginning of life and its meaning, presented in an obscure and esoteric sort of way.  Now, on the other side of that we have the latest from Lars Von Trier, Melancholia, which is a beautifully made film about the end of times, presented in a slightly less esoteric sort of way.  The various elements that make Von Trier films unique are all present here (which also tend to make his films quite divisive among audiences), but I actually found this film to be fairly accessibly, despite it being centered around depressing individuals and moving at what some would consider a languid pace.  And with all of that out of the way, I will also add that I loved all of it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 35 - Immortals



You down with OTT?  This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe goes Over The Top, as the duo discusses the Greek Myth action film Immortals from visionary director Tarsem Singh.  Joining Aaron and Abe is Why So Blu writer/reviewer/editor Gerard Iribe, who helps discuss the important things about Immortals, such as the visuals, the “story”, Mickey Rourke, and Freida Pinto’s possible body double.  The regular segments of the show wrap around the movie review as well, including “know everybody”, trailer talk (Safe House and Red Tails), box office results and predictions, retro reviews, games, and some other fun stuff.

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…

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Deportation Makes Love Difficult, ‘Like Crazy’


Like Crazy:  3 out of 5
Jacob:  What are we gonna do after we graduate?
Anna:  Don’t think about it.
Despite a strong cast, familiar, but effective indie sensibilities and soundtrack choices, and a story that does a fine enough job playing with its love story conventions and eventual resolution, the fact that the plot of this film hinges on a really bad decision makes me annoyed by it.  Like Crazy is a romantic drama that involves two college students, one an American and one a British exchange student, who have their love tested when student visa issues keep them separated for long periods of time.  It is thanks to the fact that the personal touches added to this story and the work from both the leads and the very small supporting cast is quite strong, that I was able to appreciate what this film had to offer.  If the main plot issue I had did not feel so important to me, I maybe would have liked the film more.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

True To Life, ‘J. Edgar’ Can Be Feared, Admired, Reviled, And Revered


J. Edgar:  3 out of 5
J. Edgar:  Sometimes you need to bend the rules a little in order to keep your country safe.
Biographies tend to run hot and cold for me.  Sometimes, like in the case of Gus Van Sant’s Milk, from back in 2008 (which screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, the screenwriter for J. Edgar, won an Oscar for), I can really get into the film, admire all the performances, the ways in which the film presents the era, and appreciate how it dramatizes it’s subject matter.  I have seen Milk a couple of times, rare for me when it comes to a film of that genre/type, because I thought it made the best of the biography film genre.  Other times, like in the case of J. Edgar, I find it to be a struggle to really engage myself with the material and how it is being presented via dramatization.  With these biographies that I am less enthusiastic towards, I tend to question if I could have gotten a more insightful experience out of watching a PBS or History Channel documentary going over the same material.  Since Leonardo DiCaprio dominates this film so effectively, among other reasons as well, I can’t say that J. Edgar is a waste, it is just a fairly standard biography that I didn’t take much away from.

‘Immortals’ Is Pretty Looking, Pretty Bloody, And Pretty Dumb

Immortals:  3 out of 5
Old Man:  Only in numbers do they have courage.  You have it while standing alone.
The beauty of director Tarsem Singh’s Greek Myth 3D action film, Immortals, is definitely the most interesting thing about it.  At this year’s San Diego Comic Con, Tarsem, known for his work in music videos as well as his two previous films, The Cell and The Fall, made a point of noting that story comes after the fact for him.  His focus lies in the visuals and Immortals is a fine example of this in action.  The movie is gorgeous to look at and the audience is certainly given enough opportunities to focus on the visuals, as there is not much to this story, which is treated deadly serious, even though it is just as silly as many of the sword and sandal fantasy films that have come before it.  As long as the characters were in the midst of combat I was pleased enough, but the time for talk certainly slowed down the excitement.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Many Will Be Creeped Out With ‘The Skin I Live In’


The Skin I Live In:  4 out of 5
Robert:  I have performed three of the nine facial transplants in history and nothing has given me more satisfaction.
The Skin I Live In is a twisted suspense thriller that takes an arthouse approach to a mad scientist story.  Leave it to Spanish director Pedro Almodovar to take all of the various trademarks of his usual types of films (strong uses of color, strong female characters, themes involving desire, passion, and family) and apply it to a macabre tale involving a brilliant surgeon going to extreme measures to deal his own past tragedies.  Graphic is one term that can be used to describe the film, but it is also strongly acted, very well shot, and certainly unique in its story.  The Skin I Live In is the kind of film that starts off with intrigue and goes on to have its characters become more understood as its plot becomes crazier and crazier.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 34: A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas and Tower Heist



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe features another packed schedule.  Guests Scott Mendelson and Matt Dunbar return to the show to help Aaron and Abe discuss whether or not A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas will become the Christmas classic some may have been hoping for and also to determine whether or not Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist is worthy of being the most mildly praised movie of the year.  The regular segments of the show wrap around these movie reviews as well, including “know everybody”, trailer talk (21 Jump Street and American Reunion), an extended box office segment thanks to the presence of Mr. Mendelson, retro reviews, games, and some other fun stuff.

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, November 5, 2011

‘Harold & Kumar’ Attempt A Miracle On 420th St.


A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas:  2 ½ out of 5
Harold:  I shot Santa Clause in the face.  He’s real and I shot him in the face.
So now that Halloween has ended, what better way to rush into the holiday spirit than with the arrival of the first official Christmas film of the season – A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.  The stoner comedy duo has returned for a third feature film, which had nowhere to go, but up, following the pretty terrible sequel, ‘Escape from Guantanamo Bay’, and fortunately this film manages to do just that.  Unfortunately, the move upwards is not that high.  This third installment in the series is incredibly hit or miss and while enjoyable for a good portion of its duration, it’s incredibly forgettable as well.  While still striving to be offensive in an adorable sort of way, the interesting way the first film handled racial subversion is nowhere to be seen here either.  What’s left is a raunchy Christmas story that reunites two friends, with mostly mixed results.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

‘Tower Heist’ Is Annoyingly Entertaining


Tower Heist:  3 out of 5
Arthur Shaw: You people are working stiffs, clock-punchers. Easily replaced.
Josh Kovacs: I don't care what it takes. I will find a way to make it right.
The title of this film, as bland as it is, certainly cuts to the chase.  This is a simple heist comedy that is fairly entertaining, even as it slightly underuses the talents of its ensemble cast.  Brett Ratner, a director better known for his reputation as a hack director responsible for some entertaining successes (Rush Hour 1 & 2, Red Dragon) and some other not so entertaining ones (Rush Hour 3, X-Men: The Last Stand), found his way to bringing his workman-like skills to a pretty forgettable, but enjoyable film.  Tower Heist is problematic in the way it attempts to take a very goofy comedy and add more significance and emotion to its story than it should have, but it still functions as a tolerable crowd pleaser.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 33 – In Time, The Rum Diary, and Puss in Boots



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is a triple threat, both in terms the number of participants and the number of films covered in our main review section.  Adam Gentry joins the duo in an effort to cover the three big releases from the weekend, which includes the sci-fi adventure In Time, the Hunter S. Thompson adventure The Rum Diary, and the fairy tale adventure Puss in Boots.  Certainly an episode packed with content and there are still the regular segments of the show as well, including “know everybody”, trailer talk (The Darkest Hour and The Lorax), retro reviews, box office results and predictions, and a little game time as well.

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…

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