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Thursday, February 28, 2013

‘Stoker’ Shows The Deadly Bonds That Tie Families Together


Stoker:  4 out of 5

India:  We don’t need to be friends, we’re family.

Stoker is the English-language debut of Korean director Park Chan-wook, who has previously made thrillers such as Oldboy and Lady Vengeance, which are known for depicting brutal subject matter within the frame of beautifully executed visuals.  Those familiar with his work can see that Chan-wook has a deep appreciation for filmmakers such as Hitchcock and he has gone on to make films that echo that sort of work at a more extreme level.  Stoker is very much indebted to Hitchcock, as well as Brian DePalma, among others, given how the film portrays a level of suspense in such an effective manner.  The film is a psychological drama as well as an American Gothic horror film that Park Chan-wook really directs the hell out of.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – 2013 Academy Awards Special Part 2



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is a follow up to the bonus episode from a couple days ago, where the group predicted the winners for the 2013 Academy Awards.  Now, the results are in and Abe and Aaron are ready to reveal who won the competition.  But that is not all!  Aaron and Abe are also joined by author Robert James, who has joined the duo to discuss the Oscar ceremony, as well as the first volume of a series of books he is currently writing, which covers the history of the Academy Awards.  So this truly is an Oscar special.  There are winners, losers, interviews, and more to be found in this somewhat shorter, but packed episode. 

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

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Walking Dead: Season 3, Episode 11 – I Ain’t A Judas



Thanks to the encouragement of The Walking Dead TV Podcast, I will be writing weekly episode recaps for this season of The Walking Dead.  Anyone continuing on should expect spoilers.

So this was a pretty exciting night for me, as I correctly predicted 19 out of 24 Academy Awards.  Also, we had a new episode of The Walking Dead, entitled “I Ain’t A Judas” or as I’ve been calling it – “All About Andrea”, which I wouldn’t quite call the best episode of this season.  This was an episode that relied on the most problematic character in the show to be the focal point, which is an easy way to get into some trouble.  Combine that with the lack of much forward momentum in the plot, the general slack in pace for this hour of The Walking Dead, and yet another “what if these people teamed with these people” plot, and you have an episode that was not quite firing on all cylinders.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – 2013 Academy Awards Special Part 1



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is a special bonus episode covering the nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards.  Aaron and Abe are joined by guests Mark Hobin and Maxwell Haddad to make their predictions of what they think WILL win on Oscar night, as well as make mention in regards to what they think SHOULD win.  This is a competition, so feel free to play along of course, but mainly take note of the logic each participant has applied.  Results will be seen in the second part of this episode, which will be recorded and released a couple days after the Oscars.  For now though, find out what these guys think will be going on at the 85th Annual Academy Awards. 

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 92 – A Good Day to Die Hard


This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe covers what seems to be the life and death of the Die Hard franchise.  A Good Day to Die Hard has arrived in theaters and Aaron, Abe, and guests Scott Mendelson and Brandon peters are all pleased to get their feelings about the film off of their chest.  Additionally, the group goes through all of the regular segments, including “Know Everybody”, “Trailer Talk” (Iron Man 3 and The Internship), “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, Box Office Results, and of course Games.  It is an episode full of characters, good dialogue, and explosions, and A Good Day to Die Hard can only say it had one of those things.  Yippee Ki-Yay Mother Russia.

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

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Walking Dead: Season 3, Episode 10 - Home



Thanks to the encouragement of The Walking Dead TV Podcast, I will be writing weekly episode recaps for this season of The Walking Dead.  Anyone continuing on should expect spoilers.

This week’s episode of The Walking Dead was a bit all over the place, literally, as we were exploring several different plot lines, checking in with many characters, getting a feel for how each person was dealing with their given situation, and then dropping all of that for an exciting finale filled with firefights and walkers.  It felt less like a cohesive story and more like a bit of a meandering narrative that ends simply because everyone was given guns and could shoot their way into the credits.  With that said, the episode was exciting enough, even if the high that I was put on by the first half of the season seems to be fading.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Warm Bodies Movie Review – Just Seen It


Another Just Seen It appearance, this time discussing the romantic comedy...with zombies - Warm Bodies

Official Episode Description:

Aaron, Brenna and Guest Reviewer Aaron Neuwirth take on this highly unusual romantic comedy. 

After a zombie epidemic, R recues Julie from a zombie attack. Seeing he is different, they become unlikely friends. But falling in love appears to transform R.

Starring Aaron Fink, Brenna Smith and Aaron Neuwirth.
Directed by Amy Taylor.
Edited by Brian Jahns.
Sound Design by Aaron Fink and Nick Isaacs.
Produced by David Freedman(@ShowRunnerDave), Cooper Griggs, Aaron Fink(@AaronEvanFink) and Pedro Raposo.

Check out my full written review HERE and the podcast episode on the film HERE.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

‘A Good Day To Die Hard’, A Bad Day To Visit Russia



A Good Day To Die Hard:  2 out of 5
John McClane:  You got a plan?
Jack McClane:  Not really.  I kinda thought we would just wing it, you know. Running in, guns blazing. Make it up as we go…
Imagine you are watching a generically plotted action film, with a pretty bland hero, and all of the sudden that hero’s goofy dad, who has a knack for killing terrorists, shows up to tag along and do some bonding, while terrorizing Moscow.  This is what A Good Day to Die Hard boils down to; as it removes itself even further from what the franchise once meant.  Die Hard has certainly never been shy about going bigger with its sequels, but this time around the series really does feel like a shadow of its former self, with problems that people may have had with the last film, Live Free or Die Hard, feeling even more amplified this time around.  As a result, there is some decent action and a lot of explosions, but I would be hard-pressed to call this a Die Hard film, rather than just an action film with Bruce Willis.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Beautiful Creatures Is Campy, Melodramatic, And Fun



Beautiful Creatures: 3 ½ out of 5

Macon:  You control your own nature and loving this boy puts you in terrible danger.

If Twilight has paved the way for movies like Warm Bodies and Beautiful Creatures to be made, then I am all for it at this point.  I am not actively seeking out paranormal teen romance movies, but the fallout from one self-serious franchise has led to a couple, more accessible and enjoyable features that I have quite liked.  Beautiful Features is a mix of melodramatic narrative beats and campy, witch-related supernatural drama, all set in a Southern gothic horror location, but the film is a lot of fun.  The young leads are very likable and have great chemistry, therefore making the key romance work overall.  The adult actors are all having a ball chewing up the scenery, making the movie practically aware of itself, short of winking at the camera.  A good majority of this film is really effective, as the charisma of this cast, the strength of the dialogue, the moments of humor, and the great visuals do plenty to keep it entertaining.  It is only when the film forces the exposition and attempts to link it to the rest of a presumed franchise that the story suffers overall.  It comes with the territory, but the film better than just another Twilight clone.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 91 – Side Effects


This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is another fun look at a film by Steven Soderbergh, which also may be his last.  Aaron, Abe, and guests Mark Hobin and Markus Robinson are talking Side Effects and the side effects caused by watching the film.  Additionally, the group goes through all of the regular segments, including “Know Everybody”, “Trailer Talk” (The East and Fast & Furious 6), “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, Box Office Results, and of course Games.  Now don’t be confused, because it will all be fine, just as long as you take the prescribed pills before listening.

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

‘Safe Haven’ Is A Romantic Pit Stop From Better Films



Safe Haven:  2 out of 5

Jo:  What are you doing in Southport?
Katie:  I needed a change of pace.

It seems to be the most irritating to write about films like this.  I do not have anything against the idea of a romantic drama that is timed to come out around Valentine’s Day, because it is of course the type of film certain people would want to see around then, let alone by those who enjoy this genre in general.  My issue is the fact that the majority of these films, which as of late have been adaptations of Nicholas Sparks novels, barely rise above being the same level of quality as movies on the Lifetime channel.  Safe Haven is a predictable romance story, which cuts away real drama and character investment in favor of various mushy and drama moments that would provide the same instant reaction as something in a horror movie popping up and saying boo.  It is also a film that benefits from decent performances and nice visuals, making it a film that certainly doesn’t deserve hate, just one that leaves me having to only recommend it to a select group of people, rather than being able to directly say yay or nay.

The Last Stand Movie Review via Just Seen It



I was on Just Seen It again, for a brief review of The Last Stand.

Here's the show description:
 
Liz, Sean and Aaron Neuwirth do a quick review on Arnold’s return to action. Starring Liz Manashil, Sean Wright and Aaron Nuewirth. Directed by Jude Perrin. 

Synopsis: The leader of a drug cartel busts out of a courthouse and speeds to the Mexican border, where the only thing in his path is a sheriff and his inexperienced staff.

WATCH US ON PBS SOCAL Saturdays at 6PM or pbssocal.org/justseenit and the official site is justseenit.com

Check out my full review of The Last Stand HERE
 

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Walking Dead: Season 3, Episode 9 – ‘The Suicide King’ Review



Thanks to the encouragement of The Walking Dead TV Podcast, I will be writing weekly episode recaps for this season of The Walking Dead.  Anyone continuing on should expect spoilers.

The dead have returned…to television screens.  Yes, The Walking Dead has now returned to finish off the rest of the season and that should make plenty of people happy.  I was certainly excited, as the first half of this third season was the most consistently entertaining stretch of Walking Dead episodes yet, eliminating many of the problems the show has suffered so far.  Regardless of, once again, more behind the scenes drama, the show has returned and now we all get to witness the second half of the season.  So was this mid-season premiere an exciting start?  Kinda.  It is not a bad episode, but certainly not an example of the series at its best.  The Suicide King doesn’t have any monumental moments and has the feel of an episode that is necessary to re-establish and shift around some of the characters, rather than serve as any kind of game changer.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Audio Commentary For Die Hard With A Vengeance


After a long delay, Out Now with Aaron and Abe is happy to present another commentary episode!  This time Aaron is joined, once again, by Scott Mendelson and Brandon Peters to discuss something different than a Bond film.  This time they are discussing one of the entries in the Die Hard franchise, Die Hard with a Vengeance, which all three find to be a very entertaining film worthy of discussion, given the imminent arrival of the 5th entry in this Bruce Willis-starring action series.  Plenty of knowledge is dropped about these films and more as a whole and plenty of fun is had as well, so yippee ki-yay movie fans.

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…

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

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Yippee Ki-Yay Melon Farmers, It’s a Look Back At The Die Hard Series




Once again, it is time to revisit a long running franchise.  This time I am writing some brief thoughts that cover the Die Hard franchise, starring Bruce Willis as Detective John McClane, who always finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Die Hard has long been one of my favorite action franchises and even as they continue to move away from what the basic concept of the original film was, I can’t say that I am not excited every time I learn that McClane is going to have to tackle some new, monumental threat.  Now, my friend Brandon Peters has been writing some more involved retrospective essays over at Mendelson’s Memos, so be sure to check those out, but I am happy with providing some quick thoughts on each film, as we are soon to be met with the release of the latest film in the Die Hard franchise, A Good Day to Die Hard, which arrives in theaters on this upcoming Valentine’s Day.  I will also toss out a quick tease that an upcoming podcast episode will be very Die Hard specific, but for now, come out to the coast, read this blog post, and have a few laughs.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 90 – Warm Bodies



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is benefited by its high energy, because the guys and special guest Brenna Smith are talking about the low energy zombies that exist in the new film Warm Bodies.  On top of that, the end of this show is tagged with a review of Bullet to the Head with Aaron and guest Jordan Grout.  All that and all of the regular segments as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Trailer Talk” (Upside Down and Spring Breakers), “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, Box Office Results, and of course Games.  Nothing but fun when it comes to Zombies and Stallone!

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



‘Side Effects’ May Include Twists, Turns, And Some Deliberate Pacing



Side Effects:  3 ½ out of 5

Emily:  You know I’m not crazy.

The tricky thing about discussing Steven Soderbergh’s latest and reportedly last directorial feature, Side Effects, is that the film is most effective if the viewer goes in knowing nothing about it.  The marketing campaign (or at least the initial trailers) can be commended for being fairly ambiguous in presenting what is actually going on in this film.  Saying that the film is a neo-noir is the closest I can come in a very brief description, but that could still possible be looked at as a spoiler.  Regardless, Side Effects is an effective adult drama/thriller, with a very deliberate first act that paves the way for the rest of the film to unfold.  One it gets going though, there is a lot to consider and it is amplified by some of these lead performances and Soderbergh’s cold, yet precise and stylish visuals.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Hidden Movie Gems of 2012 via Just Seen It



I have made another appearance on Just Seen It, to join in on a discussion about movies that may have flew under some people's radars last year.  Feel free to check it out.

Official Episode Description:

Brenna, Liz and guest reviewer Aaron Neuwirth each reveal their favorite hidden movie gems of 2012 - movies you may not have seen but should be at the top of your watch-at-home list!
 
Whether it's the end of the world as we know it, making friends with a robot, or seeking a partner for time-travel, check out the movies we call our hidden gems of 2012.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (Review HERE)
Starring Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, and Melinda Dillon.
Written and Directed by Lorene Scafaria.
Produced by Steve Golin, Steven M. Rales, Mark Roybal and Joy Gorman.
Genre: Romantic Comedy.






Robot and Frank (Review HERE)
Starring Peter Sarsgaard, Frank Langella, and Susan Sarandon.
Directed by Jake Schreier.
Written by Christopher D. Ford.
Produced by Lance Acord, Jackie K. Bisbee, Galt Neiderhoffer.
Genre: Dramedy.

Safety Not Guaranteed (Review HERE)
Starring Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, and Jake Johnson.
Directed by Colin Trevorrow.
Written by Derek Connolly.
Produced by Derek Connolly, Stephanie Langhoff, Peter Saraf, Colin Trevorrow and Marc Turtletaub.
Genre: Comedy.

 
 
 
WATCH US ON PBS SOCAL Saturdays at 6PM or pbssocal.org/justseenit and the official site is justseenit.com
 
 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Brief Thoughts: ‘Goon’ Hits Hard With Its Punches And Comedy

Goon:  4 out of 5

Doug Glatt:  I think we both have a light in our stomachs.  A special light.  Like ET.  And the team needs somebody to light the way.  My stomach light needs your stomach light.  We can all phone home together.
Goon is a film that I have revisited a couple times now and badly want it to become a sports comedy classic.  It is very funny, pretty violent and vulgar, but well-acted, and oddly sweet.  The story surrounds Seann William Scott as Doug Glott, a bouncer-turned-hockey player, after he beats up a hockey player at a game and is recruited to be an enforcer for the Halifax Highlanders.  During Glott’s time on the team, he successfully beats up many people for the good of the team, while helping the team regain their confidence.  At the same time, he falls in love with a girl (Alison Pill), who tends to sleep around quite a bit.  Meanwhile, Live Shreiber is also in the film as a veteran enforcer, who plans to retire after this year, but won’t go down without a good final fight.

What I really love about Goon is that it is such a nice movie.  Given that it is about Doug beating the crap out of people, that may sound strange, but the film is not at all mean-spirited.  Doug literally apologizes to the people he hurts, because he means it.  He is just doing what he is told, but admires hockey and the players a great deal.  Seann William Scott does some of his best work here, further showing that he is much better than just playing Stifler in other films.  Everyone is quite good here, with Schreiber really delivering in spades, as he nails this part of the veteran fighter, who even gets a chance to embody De Niro in Heat, during a diner confrontation with Scott’s character. 

Written by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg, the film is based on a true story, but manages to deliver huge in the way of laughs and fun all around.  The story is a fun alternative to standard sports tales, the actors are all invested enough, without going over the top in a way that is unfitting of the tone of the film, and the general spirit of this very R-rated features is very welcoming to all who enjoy films like Slap Shot or Bull Durham.

Ross Rhea:  You have my respect.  Whatever that means to you, you got it.  But, know this shit hard. If ever there comes a time when it gets down to the morrow, and it's you and me.  Kid, I will lay you the fuck out.

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