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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Holiday Episode – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


So here is another special holiday bonus episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe.  This episode covers The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, with the first twenty minutes or so of the actual review going over the gang’s overall thoughts on the film; before they go heavy into spoilers (a warning is provided).  While this episode actually doesn’t feature Abe (aww), Aaron does his best and is joined by Adam Gentry, Alan Aguilera, and for a brief time, a very, very special guest to discuss the “feel bad movie of Christmas”.  The gang also discusses the new teaser for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and has some fun with the “Know Everybody” segment.  But really, Dragon Tattoo becomes a fairly meaty discussion, given are unusual choice to delve into spoilers.

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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Aaron's 2011 Wrap-Up Odds & Ends


I had an incredibly tough time trying fit in all of the films that I wanted to give credit to within one list.  As I have mentioned, I believe it was an incredibly good year for films, which left me with way too many films to simply count out for the sake of just ten films to mention in the end.  So, with the Top 10 out of the way, here are a batch of other notable films, disappointments, and a worst of the year list.  Enjoy.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

‘The Darkest Hour’ Didn’t Quite Brighten My Day


The Darkest Hour:  2 out of 5
[Actual Dialogue]
Emile Hirsch’s Character: They must be able to sense us through our bio-magnetic shit!
Rachael Taylor’s Character:  That almost makes sense!
About 45 minutes into this Russian-set alien invasion movie I realized that I had no idea what the names of the characters I had been following were.  That probably sums up the character work done in this film to keep you hoping for their survival, even though the leads are fairly likable.  I should also note that at this point, I’ll only refer to the actors by their real names.  Nothing makes this badly timed release (Christmas Day, really?) an abysmal film, it just feels like an incompetent one, with a noticeably bad handle on its editing.  As a result, The Darkest Hour is not as laughably bad (making it almost good, but not really) like Skyline, but it’s also not full of serviceable grit and over-the-top (but still kinda enjoyable) gusto like Battle: LA.  It just sits in the “this will soon be available for $4 in a bargain bin” territory.  But hey, at least it was shot in 3D, right?

Aaron’s Top 10 Films of 2011

 
To me, 2011 was a pretty unusual year.  I say that because I found there to be an unusual amount of great films that came out in both the realm of mainstream feature films and the realm of art house and independent features.  This year, like any year, had its share of duds as well, but in looking back at the 120+ films I saw theatrically (yep), I can say that it was a pretty strong percentage of good to great films.  So much so that the following list was practically too much for me to contain to a simple top ten, so I have listed a number of honorable and special mentions and in another upcoming post I will provide a few other odds & ends to wrap up 2011.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Holiday Episode - The Adventures of Tintin


Happy Holidays Everyone!  Due to an obviously chaotic holiday season, this is the first of hopefully a couple hastily recorded bonus holiday episodes.  The subject of this episode is the new Steven Spielberg-directed, Peter Jackson-produced motion-capture animated feature, The Adventures of TintinAaron and Abe are joined by Jordan Grout (while driving in his car) to discuss the film, as well as play a little “Know Everybody”, talk about the brand new teaser for The Hobbit, have a little retro review fun, with a surprising amount of Indy 4-related talk, and play some games.  Aaron talks really fast, Abe finds success, and Jordan is happy to be along for the ride in this fast-paced, packed bonus episode.

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

Friday, December 23, 2011

‘We Bought A Zoo’ Sure Is Sweet...

We Bought A Zoo:  3 out of 5
Rosie Mee:  We bought a Zoo!
(These quotes are Clickable!)
We Bought a Zoo is a movie made to make you feel good.  There is no other way around that.  It features nice performances, a nice score, stakes that are enough to keep you involved, but never to really put you in a tense place, and an overall sweetness that is enough to make your teeth fall out.  It is certainly nothing I hold against the film, especially given that it is based on a true story, but the joyful optimism seen in this film can only take one so far, before the level of interest starts to fade.  Still, We Bought a Zoo is perfectly acceptable for families to watch together during the holiday season and at least possesses a confidence in the acting and filmmaking to keep it ahead of other, similar family friendly features.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sink Your Teeth Into Comedic ‘Carnage’

Carnage:  3 ½ out of 5
Nancy:  Why are we still here?
Alan:  I hope you’re kidding.
The problem I have with a lot of films that are adapted from plays is how they tend to feel a bit too theatrical, yet limited scope.  They are movies that feature big performances from the cast, complete with many key monologues, yet only feel like an expansion from the stage into a larger arena, as opposed to a whole new experience brought to a more cinematic format.  There are many exceptions to this, with 12 Angry Men and Glengarry Glen Ross standing out as obvious ones, and I think director Roman Polanski’s adaptation of the play God of Carnage stands on sure footing.  It is almost entirely contained in one setting and functions as a scathing comedy.  While very limited in scope and possessing very little in the way of a true story arc structure, the film features strong performances from the four leads and is quite funny in a fittingly European way, with tinges of Curb Your Enthusiasm-inspired looniness.  Carnage is an interesting departure for Polanski, but entertaining all the same.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 39: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Sherlock Holmes – A Game of Shadows


This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is another packed episode.  Amidst the holiday season, many many films are coming out, but Aaron and Abe are doing what they can to cover a good chunk of them.  First up, the newest Mission: Impossible film and a sequel to Sherlock Holmes.  Joining the duo to discuss these features are past guests Scott Mendelson and Jordan Grout.  The group takes the time needed to get into reviewing these tentpole releases along with delving into The Dark Knight Rises prologue, which was exclusively attached to select IMAX screens showing Mission: Impossible.  Other regular segments of the show are included as well; “know everybody”, “retro review”, and an extended look at the box office, given the skills Scott Mendelson possesses as a pundit.  It is certainly a content-filled show, with plenty of fun to be had.

 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…

‘Dragon Tattoo’: An Almost Too Expected Use Of Fincher’s Talents

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:  4 out of 5
Henrick Vanger:  You will be investigating thieves, misers, bullies, and the most detestable collection of people that you will ever meet; my family. 
After all the lighthearted fun I have had with the adventure films of December, 2011, it is now time to sink to someplace darker.  The biggest curiosity I have with the self proclaimed, “feel bad film of Christmas,” is how the three groups of people will respond to it.  The groups I refer to are those who have read the books, those who have seen the original films, and those who are completely new to the series.  As The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is based on the first book in an internationally best selling series, which has already spawned a popular film, there seems to be plenty of elements to consider.  The main reaction I have taken away is that the film is efficiently constructed and features a lot of specific elements that make it very watchable.  I have some issues with this film’s personality versus the original, but at the very least, it is a well done, hard-R film, with an atypical female lead, for those who enjoy dense mystery thrillers.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

‘Tintin’s Adventures Never Cease To Astonish, No Matter How Unexpected


The Adventures of Tintin:  4 out of 5
Captain Haddock: You do know what you're doing, right?
Tintin: Relax. I interviewed a pilot once!
I was very excited when it was first announced that Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson would be collaborating on film adaptations of the popular “Adventures of Tintin” comic book series by Hergé.  Having long been a fan of the series, both in comic form and in its HBO TV series format, putting these two master filmmakers behind the camera for a new, big screen adaptation was a pretty easy way to get me amped.  Now as a friend of mine wisely put it, the popularity of Tintin in America is similar to the popularity of soccer.  The character is much more of an international icon and the character’s depiction skews pretty broadly.  Opposed to the gritty rough and tumble nature of many American heroes, Tintin tends to find himself in lighthearted adventures and peril resolved with playful coincidences.  As a result, The Adventures of Tintin is a fairly lighthearted adventure that happens to be incredibly well made thanks to Spielberg’s directorial handle on a 3D motion capture film.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Audio Commentary for George A Romero’s Night of the Living Dead



This week’s bonus episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is an audio commentary.  It is also a special combo episode, as Out Now is pitching in for its sister podcast show, The Walking Dead TV Podcast.  Aaron and Abe have tried a commentary once before, so far, with John Carpenter’s The Thing, but now the duo joins up once again with Alan Aguilera and Jordan Grout to discuss George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, the zombie film that started it all, which is of course quite fitting for WDTV.  Joining them as well is one of the co-hosts of WDTV, Jordan from Jersey.  Night of the Living Dead is an incredibly easy movie to find (especially for free via the internet), so please try and enjoy yourselves, as the gang does what they can to entertain and speak about the movie.

Important Note:  This commentary features both juvenile uses of language and jokes that may be considered un-PC.  We of course are just trying to have a fun 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…

Friday, December 16, 2011

Find The Biggest Screen Possible And Choose To Accept ‘Mission: Impossible’


Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol:  4 out of 5
Ethan Hunt:  The secretary is dead.  The four of us is all that remains of IMF.  No safe house.  No support or extraction.  Everyone connected to this person is an asset with valuable information.  We come back with our target or we don’t come back.
Anthony Hopkins said it best in Mission: Impossible 2, “This is not ‘Mission: Difficult’ Mr. Hunt, this is ‘Mission: Impossible’; difficult should be a walk in the park for you.”  This latest entry in the Tom Cruise starring and produced spy/action franchise finds Cruise’s character doing one impossible thing after another and pulling it off with style.  From covert escapes during a prison riot, to climbing (and running) up and down the tallest building in the world, to sandstorm car chases, this film is filled with spectacular action sequences.  Aided by the fantastic use of IMAX cameras to further enhance the spectacle, this is one insane ‘Mission’ to behold on the big screen.  Further helped by its fun story, supporting roles, and ties to the original TV series, Ghost Protocol may sound like the title of a dense Tom Clancy spy novel, but it is one of the most accessible and entertaining action blockbusters to come out this year.

Watch ‘Young Adult’ Down A Bottle Of Dark Comedy


Young Adult:  3 ½ out of 5
Mavis:  Here’s the deal; Buddy Slade and I are meant to be together and I’m here to get him back.
Matt:  I’m pretty sure he’s marries with a kid on the way.
Mavis:  No, kid’s here… I’m cool with it.  I mean look, I’ve got baggage too.
When I think of books meant for the young adult crowd (not counting the onset of vampire romance fiction), I tend to think of books that center around characters in their teens dealing with various types of drama, regardless of the genre, dealing with it, and experiencing a healthy level of growth because of it.  In the film Young Adult, we are given a protagonist who is the author behind a young adult book series, but does not practice the methods of a positive influence.  Charlize Theron (who is great in this role) manages to play an unlikable character who manages to become more unlikable as the film goes on.  That would generally be a bad thing, but this film actually uses that as its intention.  As a result, Young Adult manages to be a somewhat unique character study, fitted inside an incredibly dark and at times awkward comedy that does not hold back the way other films would.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

‘Holmes’ Meets His Match In This Shadowy Sequel


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows:  4 out of 5
Dr. John Watson:  Oh, how I've missed you, Holmes.
Sherlock Holmes:  Have you? I've barely noticed your absence.
The Victorian boys are back in town.  Sherlock and Watson are back and this time they are wrapped up in a deadly game of shadows, as the threat of Professor Moriarty looms in the background.  The first film, from 2009, turned out to be a lot of fun, given the new take on the character and universe.  Mixed with the fun performances from Downey, Jr. and Law and the stylish direction of Guy Ritchie (not to mention Hans Zimmer’s wonderful score), Sherlock Holmes was able to get by on charm and wit, as much as it did by blockbuster spectacle.  This sequel certainly goes the “bigger is better route” but does not lose sight of what made the first film enjoyable.  It is a bit long, without a solid handle on its plot until about midway through and does some disservice to its female lead, but the film still manages to provide a very entertaining experience.  Seeing Holmes face off against Moriarty on the big screen, alone, is worth it here, but all the trimmings in this film continue to make it a worthwhile bit of fun during the holidays.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 38 – The Artist


This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is short on Abe but has Aaron and a couple other A’s (plus one M) to make it another Triple A episode!  That’s right; Aaron, Alan Aguilera, Adam Gentry, and Mark Hobin all join in on the show this week to discuss the new silent film from director Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist.  Lots of discussion about the film and tangents are within the main review section, but all the regular segments make their way into the episode as well.  As always, the other segments include “Know Everybody”, Trailer Talk (The Three Stooges and Battleship), Box Office Results & Predictions, Retro Review, and 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, December 12, 2011

Recap: Mission Impossible, Impossibler, and Impossiblest


This week sees the release of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, which means I decided to revisit the previous three films in the franchise.  Now having done so, nothing has really changed in terms of my opinions.  The first remains the best in terms of staying the truest to the series and being a lot of fun.  The second film is the weakest and plays out more like a Bond film.  The third is certainly a great "in-the-moment" action film, with plenty of thrills, even if there's not much complexity.  Overall, I continue to find a lot of fun to be had in this entire series and am looking forward to director Brad Bird's take on the series (complete with IMAX-filmed scenes).  The following, should you choose to accept and read it, are early reviews I wrote in regards to each of these films (which should be reflected in the writing).

The First 'Sherlock' Sets A Stylish Stage

Sherlock Holmes:  4 out of 5

[Note: Obviously the sequel is coming out, so I'm revisiting my original Sherlock Holmes reviews.]

Sherlock Holmes: Now that you are both seated comfortably, I shall begin...

A lot of fun to be had here in an update of author Arthur Conan Doyle's classic detective series. A finely made adventure story, with Robert Downey Jr. making for a great Sherlock Holmes, add to that wonderful chemistry between him and Jude Law as Watson, as well as stylish direction by Guy Ritchie. And as much as I enjoyed these elements of the film, Hans Zimmer's score was certainly the best part for me.

Friday, December 9, 2011

‘The Artist’ Speaks Volumes As A Likable Ode To The Silent Film Era


The Artist: 4 ½ out of 5
George Valentin:  “    “
This past year has been notable to me in the way nostalgia has been informing many films.  Hugo, The Muppets, The Illusionist, Midnight in Paris, and Super 8, among many others I could make arguments for have all had this theme running through them.  Now we have The Artist, an incredibly likable film that serves as a tribute to the silent film era by literally embodying the genre.  The film plays out just as a silent film would, leaving the audience to react accordingly, given only the black and white images see on screen (accompanied by a great musical score), with only small instances that break the realm of the genre.  Added benefits to the story, which is purposefully melodramatic as well as reflective on its own subject matter, are the incredibly charming performances.  Those with knowledge of film can certainly see what this film is doing quite easily, but that shouldn’t stop all from acknowledging how entertaining, stylish, and well put together The Artist truly is.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Methodical Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Thrills

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy:  4 out of 5
George Smiley:  I need you to do something for me.  You have to assume they're watching you...
Along with having one of my favorite titles to say out loud of the year (the other being Martha Marcy May Marlene), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy also boasts one of the best ensemble casts of the year.  It is very delightful to report that the cast is certainly not wasted either, as everyone in this espionage-themed film has a chance to shine.  As a whole, the way the film plays out, it is very deliberately paced and all the more nuanced in the way it presents information.  Describing the basic plot is simple, but the complexity lies in the details presented.  This is very much a film that needs full attention paid to what the characters are saying and what is being shown in order to grasp all the detail in what is unfolding.  The film’s presentation easily harkens back to 70s spy thrillers, where it does not rely on action, but instead the notion of paranoia through many introspective characters.  Attention is key, as making one’s way through this film can be quite the challenging puzzle.

No ‘Shame’ In Witnessing Bold Performances On Display


Shame:  4 out of 5
Brandon:  Slowly.
I would like to think that actor Michael Fassbender and director Steve McQueen have fun personalities when they are not on the set of their respective films.  Given the intense natures of characters that Fassbender has portrayed, particularly in regards to the two films he and McQueen have collaborated on thus far, it would be nice to know that the two also like to have a good time as fun drinking buddies for example.  Shame is certainly not a cheery film.  It takes focus on the life of a man who is burdened with a crushing addiction and is forced to abuse himself to find relief, despite the effect it has on those around him.  Before one reads more into that last statement, it should be known that sex addiction is to what I am referring and while not as horrific as possibly implied, it takes a significant toll, nonetheless.  In terms of quality cinema, it is due to the fantastic performance from Fassbender and the flashy-in-a-subtle-way direction from McQueen that this film succeeds.  Just don’t plan on walking out with a smile.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 37 – The Descendants and Award Contenders Talk


This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is very focused on the awards season.  Aaron and Abe are joined by the creative mind behind AwardContenders.com, Mark Johnson, to both provide a review for the new George Clooney/Alexander Payne film, The Descendants, as well as engage in a discussion about the various films that have the potential to be up for major film awards.  While Abe had to leave part of the way through this discussion, Mark and Aaron continued on to go over all of the major categories and the potential big players, predictions, and desires.  In addition to this special awards talk and the movie review, the regular segments are still present as well, including “know everybody”, trailer talk, box office results, and 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…

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