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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

‘Pain & Gain’ Is A True Story Of Bodybuilding Kidnappers Filmed Bay-Style



Pain & Gain: 3 ½ out of 5

Daniel Lugo:  My name is Daniel Lugo and I believe in fitness.

Pain & Gain is what it looks like when Michael Bay decides he wants to make a little movie, as opposed to another action epic.  The director known for making bombastic action blockbusters has taken a step back to make a smaller film based on a true story, but it does not mean he put his signature style in check.  Pain & Gain is very glossy film, gorgeous at times, and certainly not subtle.  It is also an incredibly dark comedy, with a story so ridiculous that it has to be true, and it is.  Based on a true crime story, this film does its best to depict what happens when seemingly good-natured crooks get in way over their heads and resort to drastic measures to achieve their American dream.  While Bay’s style can be grating for some, the mix of a strong cast and a messy, but compelling story makes this a film with a lot more going on than the standard Bay blockbuster.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe - Episode 100: Oblivion + A Milestone Retrospective



It is finally here!  This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe represents a milestone accomplishment for the guys, as they have managed to compile 100 episodes of the regular show, excluding the various bonus episodes.  Abe and Aaron spend this episode with guests Mark Hobin and Jordan Grout, discussing the latest Sci-Fi effort from Tom Cruise, Oblivion, as well as tackling a lengthy retrospective in regards to the episodes leading up to this momentous occasion.  Plus, there is still time for all the regular segments, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Callback”, Trailer Talk (Elysium and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), games, and other fun stuff.  It is quite the episode with plenty of other things going on as well, including a new contest and bloopers, so listen in to the whole shebang!

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

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Scorsese Flashback: Bringing Out The Dead



Bringing Out The Dead: 4 out of 5

I was given the opportunity to provide a guest review of a film by Martin Scorsese for Andy Swinnerton’s site, Rorschach Reviews, which got me so excited that I asked if I could review two films.  As a result, this is the first of two new reviews I have written in regards to Scorsese’s past work, covering his 1999 effort, Bringing Out the Dead, starring Nicolas Cage.

Frank Pierce: Oh, I see. With all the poor people of this city who wanted only to live and were viciously murdered, you have the nerve to sit here, wanting to die, and not go through with it? You make me sick!

For a director spotlight review on Martin Scorsese, my mind immediately leapt to his 1999 film, Bringing Out the Dead.  It is not that I think it is one of Scorsese’s best, though I do really like it, but I find it to be a film that deserves to be talked about more.  It has less of a standard plot and more of a mood it wants to convey by settling you in with Nicholas Cage’s burnt-out paramedic character.  It also contains some very good performances, another great soundtrack from a director who loves music, and a more unrestrained look at Scorsese’s kinetic visual style.  Similar to how Casino put Scorsese back into gangster-film mode, following The Age of Innocence, Bringing Out the Dead came after Kundun and put the director back into territory he explored with some of his earlier work – namely Taxi Driver, but with a darkly comic edge.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

‘Oblivion’ Is Gorgeous And Engaging, But Familiar



Oblivion:  3 ½ out of 5

Jack Harper: Is it possible to miss a place you've never been? To mourn a time you never lived?

To speak about Oblivion to those who have not yet seen the film and do not want to be spoiled on what is in store for them, I have to not mention the many different films and sci-fi concepts that it lifts from.  A film I can mention, in comparison, would be Prometheus.  It is not because the films are related from a story standpoint in any way, aside from them both being gorgeous sci-fi features, but more due to expectation versus results.  While Ridley Scott returning to sci-fi, via Alien, to a loose degree, was much more exciting in concept, both Prometheus and Oblivion set up a certain level of expectation, only to both fall victim to familiar plot devices and concepts not as fresh as some may have hoped.  That said, Oblivion manages to accomplish a number of things that are quite refreshing to see.  It looks great (in 2D!), it is strongly acted, and it works as a standalone film, as opposed to one expecting to be a new franchise.  This ‘original’ sci-fi property may not feel excitingly new, but it still delivers in many areas where it really counts.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 99 - 42



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is about as inspirational as they come…well not quite, but the guys do spend the episode talking about an inspirational figure.  Abe and Aaron are joined by guests Markus Robinson (no relation to Jackie) and Aaron Fink (no relation to Aaron) to discuss the film 42.  The discussion no of heroic figures and the depiction of bigotry does not stop there either, as there is plenty of time for segments such as “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, Movie Trailer Talk (Only God Forgives and Rush), Box Office Results, “Movie Callback”, Games, and other fun stuff.  Plenty to go over in this week’s episode, including lots of listener feedback, so make sure to put yourself in the shoes of a legend or your regular shoes, and let’s play ball!

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

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

‘The Place Beyond The Pines’ Presents A Sweeping Story Of Crime, Corruption, And Motorcycles!



The Place Beyond The Pines:  4 ½ out of 5

Robin:  If you ride like lightning, you're gonna crash like thunder.

I recently watched Blue Valentine for the first time.  This was the 2010 anti-romance/drama that first brought together writer/director Derek Cianfrance and star Ryan Gosling.  There was a lot of good to be found in that film, particularly from co-star Michelle Williams, but the film was not without its issues.  That said, Cianfrance left a good impression of a director I was curious about seeing more from.   The Place Beyond the Pines is Cianfrance’s follow-up effort to Blue Valentine, and it really feels like a fantastic accomplishment from a director who is even more confident in what he can bring to the screen.  It is a film that has an ambitious story to tell and it does so with enough confidence to unfold slowly, mixing in high moments of tension and emotion.  Add to that some truly great performances from some of the film’s key players and you have what is already one of the great dramas of 2013.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

House Of Cards Review - Just Seen It


Here is another one of my appearances on Just Seen It.  This episode finds Liz, Brenna, and myself talking about the Netflix original series House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey.

In this original series from Netflix, Congressman Frank Underwood helps get the president elected. But the president breaks his promise to appoint Frank secretary of state. Seeking vengeance, Frank begins a political war against the president.

Watch Just Seen It on National Public Television - check your local listing for show times!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Brief Thoughts: Upstream Color



Upstream Color:  3 ½ out of 5

I honestly wish I could delve deeper into certain movies, but alas, I get incredibly busy and can only deal with certain movies to a briefer extent than I would like sometimes.  This is why I write these occasional "brief thoughts" posts on movies I have seen, as I want to at least offer some of my own perspective on them.

Back in 2004, writer/director Shane Carruth released his debut film, Primer, which is essentially the most technical movie ever made about time travel.  It is a very mechanical film that charts the efforts of two people to make use of something they discovered on accident.  Carruth has now returned with Upstream Color, a film that is as entirely complex as Primer, in ways that are similar and different.

Friday, April 12, 2013

‘42’ Is An Old-Fashioned Story Of An American Legend



42: 3 ½ out of 5

Jackie Robinson:  Are you looking for a Negro who is afraid to fight back?
Branch Rickey:  No, I need a player with guts enough not to fight back.

I don’t acknowledge this very often, but I like to bookend my reviews with quotes from the film.  Sometimes they sum up the film in a sense and other times they are just quotes I enjoyed the most.  The two I have chosen for 42, a film that chronicles the introduction of Jackie Robinson into Major League Baseball, are featured in the film, but are also actual quotes from the men who said them.  They are not the most inspiring words I have ever read, but 42 also isn’t the most inspiring movie I have ever seen.  Regardless, it is a film that I have wanted to see, as the subject matter is important.  While the film is only good, as opposed to great, it is occasionally quite moving, well made and acted, and a fitting tribute for a man who mainly just wanted to play baseball.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 98 – Evil Dead



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe takes place within the woods, as the guys dive headfirst into a discussion of the latest cabin in the woods-themed family comedy – Evil Dead.  Abe and Aaron are joined by guests Leah Ducey and Brandon Peters, who are equally ready to read from the Book of the Dead and determine if this film swallowed their souls or not.  The fun does not stop there, as there is plenty of time for segments such as “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, Movie Trailer Talk (The Conjuring and You’re Next), Box Office Results, “Movie Callback”, a wildly non-prepped Games segment, and other fun stuff.  Lots of dead related fun this week, so “join us” won’t you.

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


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Brief Thoughts: Disconnect

Disconnect:  2 ½ out of 5
 
I honestly wish I could delve deeper into certain movies, but alas, I get incredibly busy and can only deal with certain movies to a briefer extent than I would like sometimes.  This is why I write these occasional "brief thoughts" posts on movies I have seen, as I want to at least offer some of my own perspective on them.


Disconnect is a film that will soon be put into limited release all over the country.  It has previously received some notoriety and buzz at various film festivals, as it has a story that would appear to be pertinent to today, while employing a talented cast to accomplish the goals of the film.  The story is one that involves many interlocking plots and characters, connected by a universal theme:  people struggling to connect based on the prevalence of modern technology.  The story features different examples of this, including an up and coming reporter, who hopes her interview with an underage, erotic chatroom worker will be her big break; a teenager who faces the consequences of cyber bullying; and a couple, who recently lost their child, struggling after their identities are stolen online.  The cast includes Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Frank Grillo, Andrea Riseborough, Paul Patton, Alexander Skarsgard, Max Thieriot, and Michael Nyqvist.

Hold On To Your Butts, It’s Time For Jurassic Park 3D



Jurassic Park 3D

It is time to return to an adventure 65 million years in the making.  I have now seen Jurassic Park 3D, so I figure it is time to have a trip down memory lane and dig into this dinosaur creature feature.  Much like Titanic 3D last year, I was excited to catch an old movie back on the big screen again, regardless of the fact that it was retrofitted with 3D.  With that said, while I would say that Titanic was an acceptable version of an older film with 3D added to it, this modern classic by Spielberg really takes things up a notch as far as seeing a film from the 90s enhanced by 3D.  I still cannot say that this is comparable to what I consider to be the greats of 3D presentations, such as Hugo, Avatar, or Life of Pi, but Jurassic Park continues to be a wonderful adventure/horror film that now has a limited engagement for people to once again see it on the big screen.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Audio Commentary For Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn




Recorded on the same night as the commentary for the first film, here is another bonus commentary episode for Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn.  Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell return and so do Aaron and guests Brandon Peters and Jim Dietz, who are all more than game to participate in the comic/horror hijinks that ensue during this cult-loved sequel.  Once again, there is some knowledge dropped in regards to the making of this film and a lot of reflection on the physical abilities of Bruce Campbell as he faces off against the madness in this film, which includes his own possessed hand.  Take a listen and beware of the work shed.

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…

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Evil Dead Will Swallow Your Soul, Y’know – In A Fun Way!



Evil Dead:  4 out of 5

Mia:  You don’t understand.  There was something in the woods…and I think it’s in here with us…now.

To bring some up to speed, I am a huge fan of the original Evil Dead trilogy.  These films, directed by Sam “Spider-Man” Raimi and starring Bruce “Don’t Call Me Ash” Campbell, are ones that I watch every year in a marathon session and are known as cult favorites among many horror film fans.  The idea of a remake could have been seen as sacrilege for a fan such as myself, but the fact that Raimi, Campbell, and producer Rob Tapert were behind the idea and heavily involved with the production made me hopeful.  Given how the film played out, my optimism paid off, as this new Evil Dead is a wild ride that holds onto the spirit of the original, while amping up the quality of the blood, gore, dismembered limbs, vomit, and overall terror we see, thanks to the latest in modern technology when it comes to making this kind of movie.  All of this and the film still managed to combine characters who take this stuff seriously with the wild and crazy fun seen in the film’s direction.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Flashback Review: Drag Me To Hell

Drag Me To Hell: 4 1/2 out of 5
 
[Note: With the new Evil Dead almost upon us, I figured I would post my old review of one of the best horror films of recent years, Sam Raimi's Drag Me To Hell.  I loved this film when it came out and continue to do so.  My best recommendation, by the way, is to watch the PG-13 cut as opposed to the unrated, as it is surprisingly better.  Regardless, this movie is a blast to watch, especially for Sam Raimi-style horror fans.]

Ms. Ganush: Soon it will be you who comes begging to me.

An old fashioned, original horror movie from director Sam "blame the studios, not me, for Venom" Raimi. This movie was a fucking blast. Its incredibly entertaining, managing to actually be scary as well as provide plenty of offbeat humor for which the man behind Evil Dead has been known for.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 97 – G.I. Joe: Retaliation




This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is just as excitable as last week.  Abe and Aaron are joined by guests Jimmy O from JoBlo and Jose Cordova to talk about G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  The gang is super amped to talk about this film and more, with nothing standing in their way!  The fun does not stop there, as there is plenty of time for segments such as “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, Movie Trailer Talk (White House Down and The Wolverine), Box Office Results, “Movie Callback”, plenty of Games, and other fun stuff.  Plenty to go over in this week’s episode, as the gang does everything they can to delay the end of this fun podcast episode.

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


Monday, April 1, 2013

The Walking Dead: Season 3, Episode 16 – Welcome to the Tombs



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.

I can already tell that “Welcome to the Tombs”, the season finale for the third season of The Walking Dead, is an episode that may be seen as a disappointment for some and a triumph for others.  It does a lot of things that this season has been setting up throughout, but also leaves a lot left open.  While leaving certain storylines hanging is appropriate enough for a TV series, I can’t say I am all that excited for some of those particular aspects to come next season.  With that said, the episode did bring to an end certain aspects about this season that were a constant issue and also played against expectations in regards to how “the war” went between the prison and Woodburry.  Given that predictability has been an issue for me with this show (and not just because I am a huge fan of the comic), it was nice to see The Walking Dead mix things up a little bit, let alone actually end on an optimistic note, no matter how ridiculous.

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