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Friday, August 30, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Audio Commentary For Pitch Black



You’re not afraid of the podcast, are you?  Here we go; it is now time to jump on board with Riddick.  Aaron is joined by guests Brandon Peters and Jim Dietz to discuss the film Pitch Black, the first film to kick off Vin Diesel’s sci-fi franchise.  Plenty of fun to be had in this one, as the gang attempts to provide plenty of fun insight, but tends to get stuck on tangents that are just as entertaining.  As always, feel free to synch up the movie with our recorded commentary or give it a listen on its own, the guys rarely stop talking, as they may not be able to see in the dark, but they can certainly talk in the dark, during a movie.  Get ready for the Xander Zone!  

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, August 29, 2013

Out Now "Nights" - Episode 5: The World's End's End


Here's another new podcast episode that is a little different.  Often times after Aaron and Abe wrap up the main show, they tend to keep talking, sometimes with the guest(s) still around.  So, for this exclusive Podomatic episode, of Out Now "Nights", Aaron is joined by Brenna Smith and David Bax for something extra: a discussion of the ending of The World's End.  Keep in mind that there are a bunch of spoilers for many movies, but mainly enjoy this kind of brief, but free form discussion.



The Summer Of Meh (Why I Won’t Create a Top 10 List For 2013’s Summer Movie Season)



This is one of the times of the year that many top ten lists will emerge.  The summer movie season is about to come to a close and many people tend to list off their “top ten films of the summer”.  This will lead to fun posts, as various writers provide reasons for what stuck out, what qualifies, which films were the worst, or why others were wrong about certain films, and I certainly love to read these varying opinions.  Normally I would participate as well, given that I see so many films in the year and love to embrace the blockbusters just as much as the films in limited release, but this year feels a bit different.  If I really wanted to, I probably could rank my ten favorite “big” films from the summer, but honestly my heart is not in it this year.  There were a lot of missed opportunities, a lot of ambitious failures, many movies that were out and out bad ideas from the start, and some that were fun in the moment, but hardly ones that I would think back on.  Given those feelings, this essay just seemed like a better idea.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Strap On Your Powdered Wig And Get Ready For ‘Closed Circuit’


Closed Circuit:  2 out of 5

Joanna:  Defense lawyers who ask the wrong sorts of questions…they’re expendable.

I have to wonder sometimes how much time and consideration is put into the little details, before sending off the finished product and then being tackled by criticisms.  Closed Circuit has plenty going for it at first glance.  The film features a top notch cast, who are all putting forth reasonably good work as the characters they play.  The premise is that of an interesting legal drama, set within the British justice system, which is not something American audiences see that much of in a wide release film.  The problem revolves around the little details.  The plot is entirely predictable, once the pieces are set in place, and little holes begin to emerge as the film carries on.  Being a taut legal thriller and having good intentions is great, but adding up to something solid takes more than just having the big sections covered.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 117 – The World’s End




This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is about a bunch of drunkards…Aaron, Abe, guests Brenna Smith and David Bax are all on the show to discuss the final film in the Cornetto Trilogy, director Edgar Wright’s The World’s End.  Additionally, all of the regular segments are present as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, “Out Now Feedback”, and Trailer Talk (Pompeii and Metallica: Through the Never).  It is certainly a podcast worthy of The Golden Mile, so enjoy it and don’t be left blank.

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


Pain & Gain Review - Just Seen It



Somehow I missed putting this Just Seen It appearance up when it first came out, but since Pain & Gain is now arriving on Blu-ray, I may as well have the post of the review up as well.  So here is Liz, Sean, and myself reviewing the film.

Official Show Description:

Three bodybuilders kidnap Victor, a wealthy but cheating businessman. After taking all his money, they start to lead the good life. But Victor is bent on getting revenge against them all.
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie.

Directed By Michael Bay.Written By Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely.Produced By Ian Bryce, Michael Bay and Donald De Line.
Genre: Action Comedy. 
Sean, Liz and guest reviewer Aaron Neuwirth review this new action comedy form director Michael Bay.
Starring Sean Wright, Liz Manashil and Aaron Neuwirth.
Directed by Amy Taylor.
Edited by Zack Delman.
Sound Design by Aaron Fink and Nick Isaacs.
Produced by David Freedman(@ShowRunnerDave), Cooper Griggs, Aaron Fink(@AaronEvanFink), Pedro Raposo and Devin Law.

- See more at: http://www.justseenit.com/movie_details.php?movie_id=494#sthash.KZDt8qKj.dpuf

Sean, Liz and guest reviewer Aaron Neuwirth review this new action comedy form director Michael Bay.

Starring Sean Wright, Liz Manashil and Aaron Neuwirth.
Directed by Amy Taylor.
Edited by Zack Delman.
Sound Design by Aaron Fink and Nick Isaacs.
Produced by David Freedman(@ShowRunnerDave), Cooper Griggs, Aaron Fink(@AaronEvanFink), Pedro Raposo and Devin Law.

WATCH US ON PBS SOCAL Saturdays at 6PM or pbssocal.org/justseenit

Read my full review of Pain & Gain HERE

Friday, August 23, 2013

Lamb Next, Tiger Next, Fox Next, ‘You’re Next’



You’re Next:  3 ½ out of 5

Erin:  Grab anything you can use as a weapon.

I was just talking about the effectiveness of simplicity in another review and now we have a simple and efficiently made horror flick, titled You’re Next.  Despite having been lingering around for a couple years, this is a horror flick that has maintained its positive buzz since debuting at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and ends up delivering.  Besides some minor details, You’re Next is by and large a straight forward slasher film that does not do anything new for the genre, but is a ruthless exercise in solid horror filmmaking.  It is sufficiently scary, features victims you generally feel bad for, and knows how to be both frighteningly violent, but also entertaining.  Cabin in the Woods may have done a number on the state of horror features, but You’re Next sticks to the basics and makes it work anyway.

‘The World’s End’ And 11 Other Pubs To Visit Before The End Of The World



The World’s End:  4 ½ out of 5

Gary:  We’re just five friends, on a night out, having a good time…

It is always an interesting task, when it comes to providing a critique of one of you most anticipated films of the year from one of your favorite filmmakers.  The World’s End is the final entry in the thematically connected “Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy”.  The films that led up to this finale are 2004’s Shaun of the Dead and 2007’s Hot Fuzz (both of which are favorite films of mine).  All three of these films were written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, with Wright directing each film and Pegg starring in each, along with his best mate Nick Frost.  I noted the years, because The World’s End is arriving quite a bit of time after the last entry, but it is fitting, as The World’s End is about growing up, among other things. The creative team involved has developed as filmmakers over the years and this is reflected in how this film continues in the tradition of showing off madcap humor, action, and heart, but also finds a way to acknowledge how times have changed.  I have also failed to mention that this is a wild ride with some big sci-fi surprises, but the core of this film is just as strong as its hilarious and exciting exterior.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Take Good Care With ‘Short Term 12’



Short Term 12:  4 out of 5

Grace:  Why are you so nice to me?
Mason:  Well, it’s easy.  You are the weirdest, most beautiful person I’ve ever met.

To make it simple Short Term 12 is the kind of film that many people should go and seek out.  Here is the kind of dramatic indie feature that I can happily support, as it manages to hit a lot of familiar beats, while taking a step in a different direction from the norm.  The film features a strong lead performance by Brie Larson, some solid support from both the adult and younger actors involved, and this is all achieved with a certain level of comfort that allows the film to feel at many times like a docu-drama.  The sense of realism is there, but writer/director Destin Cretton does a lot of good work making a fully realized motion picture out of this story adapted from his own short film.  It will only have a limited release in theaters, but it definitely deserves a large audience.

‘In A World’ Where Voice-Over Artists Get Their Own Film…



In A World…:  4 ½ out of 5

Sam:  The industry does not crave a female sound.

It is almost strange to get that feeling where everything about a film you are watching clicks together.  Regardless of how open I try to be when seeing a movie, sometimes you just don’t expect certain films to hit you in a certain way.  I like actress Lake Bell, who also served as writer, director, and producer on In A World, and was expecting a decent comedy out of her film, but I was really impressed with what I got.  In A World is a very well put together comedy that has practically everything I would want to enjoy: fun characters, a smartly written script, some good laughs, an original story, and even a few themes for the film to hit upon.  It has a sense of honesty to it as well, which is made all the better by the fact that I had a really good time while watching it and seemed to be acknowledging this fact to myself, while watching it.  It is always nice to get a surprise such as this.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 116 – Kick-Ass 2



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is all that and a bag of bloody potato chips.  Ok, so that sounds gross, but really this is a fun episode featuring guest Laremy Legal, who joins Aaron and Abe to talk about Kick-Ass 2, along with the other releases from this week, including The Butler and jObs.  Additionally, all of the regular segments are present as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, “Out Now Feedback”, and Trailer Talk (The Muppets Most Wanted and How To Train Your Dragon 2).  Lots of good content present in this week’s episode, so make sure to take notes and wear your favorite superhero costume while listening!

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Brief Look Back 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz'

"Do you want anything from the shop?"
"Cornetto" 

[In anticipation for The World's End, I decided to put up this little retrospective article, because why not, I love these movies, enjoy!]

When it comes to writing about Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, there is not a whole lot more that I can add to the conversation, but I can try.  These are films that I really love.  I can get to why and which one I like more in a bit, but I just have to say that few films have been able to capture the kind of tone that I love to witness in these two features from writer/director Edgar Wright and stars Simon Pegg (also a co-writer) and Nick Frost.  Both films are incredibly clever homages to genre films that manage to become separate entries in their respective genres, thanks to great character work and inventive filmmaking, along with very detailed screenplays, hilarious performances, and a level of heart that allows them to be sincere films overall, amidst the chaos.  They are the first two parts of a trilogy (The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy) connected thematically, which will be concluded very soon for everyone, following the upcoming theatrical release of The World's End and I am happy to say this trilogy is one of my favorites.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Out Now "Nights" - Episode 4: The Way Way Back Debate


Here's another new podcast episode that is a little different.  Often times after Aaron and Abe wrap up the main show, they tend to keep talking, sometimes with the guest(s) still around.  So, for this exclusive Podomatic episode, of Out Now "Nights", Aaron is joined by Mark Hobin and Markus Robinson for something extra: a debate over the merits of the coming-of-age film The Way Way Back.  Aaron mostly serves as moderator while Mark and Markus have it out.  Additionally, there is even time for some discussion of Upstream Color.  Keep in mind that there are a bunch of spoilers for many movies, but mainly let us know what you think of this kind of free form discussion.

Friday, August 16, 2013

‘Kick-Ass 2’ Not Quite As Hard Hitting



Kick-Ass 2:  3 out of 5

Dave Lizewski: There's no room for punks in suits, just real heroes who can really kick ass.

Maybe one of the more unlikely comic properties to get a sequel, Kick-Ass was produced almost completely as an independent film, only to have its distribution rights bought and successfully turned into a big screen event.  Unfortunately, while the Comic Con and geek crowd showed up for Kick-Ass, the film did not turn into the huge financial success many would have hoped for.  Thanks to cult success, cut to a few years later and we now have Kick-Ass 2; a Universal Studios production that allows audiences to return to the comic property that meshes bright, colorful, superhero theatrics with a  deconstruction of the genre.  While entertaining to an extent, the only problem is the very thought of Kick-Ass 2 being a Universal Studios production.  The irreverence is certainly still intact, but a lot of the wit and edge is missing this time around.  That said, I had more fun than expected during this “superheroes who swear” sequel.

‘Lee Daniels' The Butler’ Serves Some Great Material Along With Its Cheese



Lee Daniels' The Butler:  3 ½ out of 5

Maynard:  Are you political Mr. Gaines?
Cecil:  No.
Maynard:  Good.  We have no tolerance for politics at the White House.

The Butler is the kind of movie I would normally dread watching, were I be one to base everything I see off of movie trailers or just be a very cynical person in general.  Fortunately, I am not very cynical and am happy to give almost anything a chance.  Despite knowing that this would be something like the black equivalent of Forest Gump, by having a lead character played the genuinely warm Forest Whitaker and pushing him through various stages of history and the Civil Rights Movement, I was indeed impressed by the large cast involved as well as the nature of this story, which turned out to be just as much a strong father and son tale, as well as a historical drama.  This also highlights an issue of the film, which is how it has plenty of good intentions placed on too many stories, making it a bit too unfocused overall, despite praise that can be put upon some performances and various sections of the film.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The ‘Europa Report’ Shows Positive Signs Of Science Fiction Activity



Europa Report:  3 ½ out of 5

Katya Petrovna:  I can’t believe I’m here.  This is incredible.

Every now and then I like to bring up my fondness for simplicity, when it really works.  Europa Report is a science fiction film that is really stripped down to basics, using ideas similar to a film like Danny Boyle’s Sunshine and meshing them with a budget and approach similar to something like the indie film Monsters.  The film could technically be classified as a thriller, but it works at being a story about people going on a mission and making smart decisions over the course of their journey, despite the drama that unfolds.  It fits into the ‘found footage’ style, as the cameras are all based around the idea that they are attached to the ship, space suits, or simply a part of the pseudo-documentary approach.  All of these elements add up to a well-made science fiction story, which only suffers from offering little in the way of ambition.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 115 - Elysium



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is a science fiction event.  Aaron is missing an Abe, but is joined by Alex Billington, Mark Johnson, and Maxwell Haddad to discuss Elysium, along with many of the recent sci-fi films from that past few years, as well as what is coming in the future.  Lots to go over.  Additionally, all of the regular segments are present as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, “Out Now Feedback”, and Trailer Talk (Her and Oldboy).  There is plenty of show to take a hold of this week, so be sure you have your robot’s sleep timer activated.

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

Friday, August 9, 2013

Make Sure To Seek Out The Hunt


The Hunt: 4 ½ out of 5
 
[Note: I originally reviewed this film for WhySoBlu.com during the Newport Beach Film Festival, but I want to make sure even more people can read about it, so I've imported it over here.]

Lucas: What are you saying? Have you got something to say me?
Agnes: stop it, Lucas.
Lucas: you want to tell me something?
Theo: relax, Lucas
Lucas: the whole town is listening . tell me! what do you want to say?
 
Jagten (or The Hunt) is a Danish film, starring Mads Mikkelsen (currently seen on NBC’s Hannibal), who won the Best Actor award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival for his work in this film as Lucas.  Here is the NBFF summary:  A disturbing depiction of how a lie becomes the truth when gossip, doubt, and malice are allowed to flourish.  Lucas is a highly-regarded school teacher who has been forced to start over having recently overcome a tough divorce.  However, his life is soon shattered when a hideous, untruthful accusation ignites a witch-hunt that threatens to destroy his life.  The lie is spreading quickly through the small community, and Lucas is forced to fight a lonely fight for his career, his family, and his dignity.

Out Now Bonus: The Way Way Back Interviews

 
Hey there, here's a bonus bit of press stuff.  I was able to interview the cast and crew of The Way Way Back and has now stitched together all four interviews into one exclusive bonus episode.  Take a listen and you'll hear what it was like to make the film from (in this order): Stars Liam James and AnnaSophia Robb, writer/directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, stars Sam Rockwell and Maya Rudolph, and stars Steve Carell and Allison Janney.  The audio has been separated by music cues to keep it clear enough, hope anyone interested enjoys!



Feel free to check out all of my Why So Blu coverage of The Way Way Back HERE

‘We’re The Millers’ And The Audience May Laugh (Movie Review)


We’re The Millers:  2 ½ out of 5

David:  You’ve got me moving enough weed to kill Willy F-ing Nelson!

While I have seen plenty of raunchy comedies (This Is The End, The To Do List) and ones that skew towards the darker side (The World’s End, The Hangover: Part III), let alone perfectly safe comedies (The Internship) this year, I can’t say there have been too many pure wacky comedies.  I guess The Heat was pure wacky comedy, but I had more fun with We’re The Millers.  It is always tough to grade comedies, especially the sillier ones, but for whatever reason, even in spite of the clear issues, We’re The Millers did enough to make me enjoy my time, while watching the film.  As I dive in, maybe it will become clearer as to why.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 114 – Only God Forgives And Fruitvale Station




This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is an arthouse double feature.  Abe and Aaron are joined by Mark Hobin, Jonathan Van Dyke, and Markus Robinson to discuss indie darling Fruitvale Station and the indie maligned Only God Forgives.  That last statement may not make sense, but no one says these guys are pros at what they do, they just try to have fun doing it, even in the wake of stirring dramas.  Additionally, all of the regular segments are present as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, “Out Now Feedback”, and Trailer Talk (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and American Hustle).  Lots of show in this week’s show, but the guys are making sure you get all the discussion you would want about these intriguing pictures.

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

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

‘Elysium’ Heads To The End Of The Earth To Weigh Its Script Against Its Visuals


Elysium:  3 ½ out of 5


Max:  They can fix this on Elysium.


There has been a fair share of original science fiction films hitting theaters in the past year; many of which depicting earth in a dystopian setting.  Films like Looper and Oblivion show earth at various levels of despair, while also finding a way to provide beauty in the aftermath of a planet overcome by destruction.  In his follow up effort to the smash success that was District 9, writer/director Neill Blomkamp has come up with his own take on a futuristic earth ravaged by society and the answer that humans have developed.  This is all combined with an action plot about a man trying to save himself, only to be drawn into the things that make up the political and sociological themes of the film.  Given all of the visual splendor to behold in the film, whether or not Elysium is a success as strong as District 9 is entirely dependent the script, which has an issue with rushing through a lot of development and not providing enough smarts in the dialogue to go along with the eye candy.

Woody Allen and ‘Blue Jasmine’ Head To San Francisco



Blue Jasmine:  4 ½ out of 5

Ginger:  She’s not just broke, she’s all screwed up.

There a few main thoughts I have in regards to the latest…scratch that, this year’s Woody Allen film, Blue Jasmine.  First off, Cate Blanchett is one of the actresses that immediately come to mind when I consider who are among the best working today.  This film contains one of her best performances.  Secondly, here is a great example of Allen coming into one of his peaks again, as he tends to go up and down in terms of his current outcrop of films.  And lastly, Blue Jasmine is very different from a majority of Allen’s other films, which is an interesting quality unto itself.  For a man who has been consistently releasing films for the past 40 years, Blue Jasmine moves away from a certain mold and embraces reality in a way that Allen has only explored so often.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

‘Percy Jackson’ Is Back And He’s Brought A Sea Of Monsters



Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters:  3 out of 5

Percy Jackson:  He's more like a half-brother on the monstrous side of the family.  Like... a half-brother twice removed or something.

Getting past the surprise that is this sequel existing to begin with, Percy Jackson is back with another adventure, revolving around a quest for the Golden Fleece.  For the record, I did actually find things to enjoy about Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.  It may have mainly been out of my spite for The Clash of the Titans remake, which arrived in the same year, but checking out a modern day take on Greek mythology, structured into the form of a teenage adventure film piqued my curiosity enough, despite some very goofy flaws.  If there is something to say about the sequel, ‘Sea of Monsters’, it is that the film plays with less goofy material and strives to add greater stakes to what is occurring.  The film still misses qualities that make Harry Potter such a strong franchise, as far as these types of young adult fantasy book adaptations go, but Percy Jackson manages to bring enough spirited energy to make it passable.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

‘Only God Forgives’ Is So Terribly Artful



Only God Forgives:  2? out of 5

Billy:  Time to meet the devil.

There is always at least one of these films every year.  Only God Forgives is the kind of film that will be easily derided for reasons that can be very well argued, no matter how much can be said in its defense.  The film is incredibly stylish and focused on providing a delirious sense of place, as we follow two men traveling through the darkened underworld of a very seedy Bangkok setting.  The film is not without a sense of purpose, but that is juxtaposed with violent imagery, lengthy depictions rooms bathed in neon lighting, and a haunting soundtrack to have one continually guessing where all of this is really going.  There is always something to be said for a film that strives to be very different, but how does one go before considering whether the audiences is willing to make the same journey?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Fantastic ‘Fruitvale Station’ Is A Look At A Man Caught Up



Fruitvale Station:  5 out of 5

Oscar:  We’ll be back before you wake up.

It must be hard to be so simple.  Fruitvale Station has the feel of a very straightforward film, were one to break it down into its basic structure.  We follow one man throughout his day.  We see where he lives, whom he interacts with, and it all ends on a tragic note.  It also happens to be based on a true story.  There is so much more there though.  Beyond the efforts to get a small film like this made, which includes using Oakland locations and filming on and around BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), Fruitvale Station is such a strong success because of incredibly apt direction, the feel generated throughout, based on the sense of location and supporting players, and the incredibly compelling lead performance from Michael B. Jordan.   There is nothing glamorous about how this story is told; it simply works as a straightforward telling of one with a great pool of talent to work with.

Friday, August 2, 2013

2 stars, ‘2 Guns’, Too Fun? Maybe…


2 Guns:  2 ½ out of 5

Bobby:  Have you ever heard the saying, “never rob a bank across from the diner that has the best donuts in three counties?”

2 Guns is a lot of things, but calling it ‘good’ is something I am having trouble trying to do.  Given that the film is based on a comic series, which I assume is very pulpy and full of dark humor, I could give it the benefit of the doubt that it is supposed to feel like light fun, with the occasional amount of gritty menace.  At the same time, the fact that this big budget film, with A-list stars, feels just as much like a 2-hour series premiere of a new show on TNT called “Trench & Stig”, does not exactly have me deeming this film as one to race out and see.  2 Guns revels in plot twists, characters threatening each other, wavering allegiances, and plenty of gun fights.  It is not all that original and more convoluted than clever, but star chemistry can go a long way.

Head Into ‘The Spectacular Now’



The Spectacular Now:  4 ½ out of 5

Sutter:  You gotta live in the moment.

When it comes to teenager-focused comedy dramas, based around high school life, I tend to look at Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything as my favorite of that bunch.  The Spectacular Now is a film adaptation of an acclaimed novel by Tim Tharp and it has come very close to giving me the same vibe that I really love about Say Anything.  There is a familiar story here, joining the leagues of other coming-of-age films (a sub-genre I have seen a lot of this year), but I had a different sort of experience while watching this film.  It is not necessarily that I could relate to certain characters, but the effort taken to make the film relatable was very well done.  There are comedic moments that work well, but the dramatic moments really hit hard, and the film is stronger for being so sincere in its presentation.

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