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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Wolf of Wall Street


This is another bonus episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe as Aaron and Abe make do with the holiday season, in an effort to get out as many reviews for all the movies coming out as possible.  The very cool thing is that Aaron and Abe, along with their guest, were all in the same location together, allowing for extra mayhem to ensue.  This bonus episode features reviews of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Wolf of Wall Street with guest Ken Noffsinger.  There is also plenty of time devoted to listener questions.  Enjoy and they guys will maybe be back for some more bonus fun.

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

Monday, December 30, 2013

Aaron’s List Of 2013 Video Games That He Thinks Deserves Your Attention



In an effort to be as fair as possible, this is less a “Top 10” list and more a list of games that I was able to play this year and heartily recommend.  Despite being a big gamer, given that I specialize in movies and only have so much time to play video games (while trying to keep a balanced life), it just does not seem fair for me to attempt to rank ten video games, when I may have only been able to play a small portion of the big releases this year.  The fact that I have resisted a lot of different genres only emphasizes my process for making this list further.  With that in mind, I still wanted to make a post centered on some games that I thought were pretty stellar, so here we go.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Brief Thoughts: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

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.  The following is a brief review of the 2013 biopic - Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, starring Idris Elba.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode: Anchorman 2, American Hustle, and Inside Llewyn Davis


This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is the first of a couple bonus episodes, as Aaron and Abe make do with the holiday season, in an effort to get out as many reviews for all the movies coming out as possible.  This bonus features reviews of Anchorman 2, American Hustle, and Inside Llewyn Davis with guest Laremy Legal.  There is also a little bit of time for games, some impressions, and of course plenty of singing.  Enjoy and stay until the end, for a bonus spoiler conversation about Inside Llewyn Davis and other little treats.

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

1 Lord, 1 Witch, 1 Shogun, And ‘47 Ronin’ (Movie Review)



47 Ronin:  3 ½ out of 5

Kai:  The world will know who we are and what we did.

47 Ronin is an enjoyable hybrid period action/fantasy movie that was much better than I was expecting.  Granted I am generally pretty satisfied with Keanu Reeves action movies, but a lot of the surprise came from how different this very expensive movie played out.  Along with putting the money on screen, this is a film that is very much inspired by samurai films and strives to play like one, in terms of its pacing and devotion to portraying the notion of honor.  With that, the film also blends into other genres as well, most notably a swashbuckling adventure, with some fantasy elements thrown in for good measure.  All of this made for a fun film that felt unlike a lot of expensive action films like it, especially given that its main star is really a supporting character.  It is just too bad it will likely make next to nothing in theaters.

Monday, December 23, 2013

‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ Is Kinda Special (Movie Review)



The Secret Life of Walter Mitty:  4 out of 5

Cheryl: Life is about courage and going into the unknown.

It feels like I am already in the minority on this one, but I think it has been clear in my writing over the years that I enjoy enjoying films, as opposed to trying to be negative.  Sometimes my enjoyment falls in line with a majority of other folk who watch and write about film and sometimes I am on the opposite end of the spectrum.  An assumption about The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is that it appears to be a light-hearted adventure comedy made for a trendy crowd, due to the use of various elements in its trailers.  I would not necessarily agree, but that seems to have inspired a lot of ire in the film from some, for reasons that are beyond me.  Now having seen the film, I was very happy to enjoy it for what it manages to accomplish.  The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a film about one man’s journey that may not have a whole lot of depth, compared to the scope of the film or others like it, but it worked for me in a very crowd-pleasing kind of way and I liked that.

Catch ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (Movie Review)




The Wolf of Wall Street:  4 ½ out of 5

Jordan Belfort:  I believe in total immersion, if you want to be rich, you have to program your mind to be rich. You have to unlearn all the thoughts that were making you poor and replace them with new thoughts – rich thoughts.

Real life can be a funny thing, mainly because it happens differently to everyone and all you can really do is react to the different stories you here.  I haven’t read the memoir by Jordan Belfort, but the movie based upon it features a lot craziness that can seemingly only be matched by Roman orgies.  Here is a story that is based on reality and can really only be accepted as truth, because the events that take place are just way too wild to have come from anywhere but reality.  The Wolf of Wall Street is a Martin Scorsese film that is impeccably made, despite the long runtime, and features enough lunacy to fill in the requirements for another trilogy of Hangover movies.  All of this and the film still features some of the finest acting work from its star Leonardo DiCaprio, who was hell-bent on getting this film made.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Dysfunctional Family Fun, Minus The Fun In ‘August: Osage County’ (Movie Review)



August: Osage County:  3 ½ out of 5

Barbara:  We're all just people, some of us accidentally connected by genetics, a random selection of cells. Nothing more.

This matters very little in terms of my thoughts on the film, but I do not much care for the way this film is being marketed.  August: Osage County is a lot of things.  It is a well-acted drama, with some comedic moments.  It is based on an award-winning play by Tracy Letts.  It involves a family coming together to mourn the death of a loved one.  It is not the kind of film where family members bicker, but manage to all come together in the end and celebrate the “true meaning of family”.  It is not about a sassy, fire-spitting matriarch who is also loveable, with her children standing behind her in the long scheme of things.  I like this film and the actors in it, but it is not the feel good comedy-drama that is being sold to audiences.

Brief Thoughts: The Lords of Salem



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.  The following is a brief review of Rob Zombie's The Lords of Salem.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Brief Thoughts: 2013 Female-Driven Arthouse Edition

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.  The following post contains smaller reviews for Blue is the Warmest Color, Enough Said, and Philomena.

He Likes ‘Her’ A Lot (Movie Review)



Her:  5 out of 5

Amy:  Falling in love is kind of like a socially accepted form of insanity.

If anything, I should be mad at Her for upsetting my list of best films of 2013.  Here is a film that I was excited for, as Spike Jonze is a force to be reckoned with, when it comes to directors of wildly imaginative original films (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation), and it turned out to be everything I wanted it to be and more.  Her is a fascinating film about love, loss, the state of technology, and the complications that come with different kinds of relationships, among other things.  It is an inventive and soulful film, with a concept that is taken about as far as it can go, without crossing the line into too far out territory.  It features a strong lead performance, a strong lead vocal performance, and some rather effective and affecting supporting ones as well.  This is a film that has just about everything I would like to see in an alternative type of romance-drama and it only helps that it is occasionally very funny.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 133 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is another gathering of the fellowship for a review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  While all in the group from last year could not come onto this episode, Aaron and Abe are still joined by Alex Billington and Mark Hobin to discuss the second part of this second Tolkien trilogy.  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 (Edge of Tomorrow, Jupiter Ascending, Godzilla).  Things get as fiery as a dragon in this episode and that should be plenty to be excited about right there!

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

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

‘Anchorman 2’: The Return Of Baxter! (Movie Review)


Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues:  4 out of 5

Ron Burgundy:  I’m gonna do the thing that god put Ron Burgundy on this earth to do:  Have salon-quality hair and read the news.

I have recently had discussions about comedy sequels with some friends.  They are not easy to pull off, which is obvious just due to the fact that it is hard to name more than a couple comedy sequels offhand that really match up to the original film.  For all the fun I had and continue to have with Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, it is not necessarily a film that screamed for a sequel.  A modest success at the time, which (as many comedies do) found a lot more success on home video, Anchorman is the kind of weird and endlessly quotable movie that hits just the right beats for a lot of people.  Now the stars were able to finally align, as all the…stars were able to get back together for another madcap comedy adventure based around a team of doofuses that like reading the news together.  The results will no doubt vary for many, but I laughed a lot during this film.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Audio Commentary For The Matrix Revolutions



On the heels of a new Wachowski Siblings trailer being released and on the cusp of a release of a new Keanu Reeves adventure, here we have a new commentary for The Matrix Revolutions, an unlikely pick, but one we had a lot to say about.  Aaron is joined by commentary regulars Brandon Peters and Scott Mendelson to discuss this final entry in The Matrix trilogy, the legacy the first film spawned, and the infamous nature of the sequels (which we like), the franchise in general, the superb capabilities of the Wachowskis as action directors, personal stories related to these films, and more.  There are also plenty of wild tangents, as per usual. Lots of fun to be had as always!

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, December 14, 2013

‘The Hobbit’: Smaug ‘em If You Got ‘em (Movie Review)



The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug:  3 ½ out of 5

Bilbo Baggins: Truly songs and tales fall utterly short of your enormity, O Smaug the Stupendous...

Despite this second installment of The Hobbit films being a grand adventure, with lots of excitement and visuals, at this point I think I know what the inherent problem is with this second Tolkien trilogy.  For all the fun this movie wants its audience to have, no one in these films seems to be having much fun.  Save for some one-liners from the various dwarfs, whose names I don’t know, almost everyone is gruff and serious all the time.  I am not saying everyone should be laughing and smiling, but it comes down to the stakes at hand, and compared to the apocalyptic nature of The Lord of the Rings, the plot of the Hobbit films is about as serious as making it to a relative’s BBQ on time.  Given how thin some of these characters are, spending nine hours with this story could be aided by a bit more charm to go with the heaps of CGI.  With that being said, The Desolation of Smaug is a lot of the same, with the adventure starting midway through, allowing for less setup.  There are plenty of thrills, action, and neat visuals to be found, but I am curious if the next chapter will make this unexpected trilogy something worth being turned into three separate films.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Winning, Sexy Cast (And Bale) Score In ‘American Hustle’ (Movie Review)



American Hustle: 4 out of 5

Irving:  Who’s the master?  The painter or the forger?

A lot of times I see films that seem to ooze a lot of cool and pizazz, regardless of substance, from directors I enjoy.  My go-to example of this tends to be Steven Soderbergh and Ocean’s Eleven.  What helps is how that film and others like it also have a collection of actors turning in really solid work, even in the midst of a story that is more about having a fun time.  American Hustle, from director David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, Three Kings), has this kind of vibe.  It loosely bases a story around true events, but is really more of a fun ride, filled with the styles of the 70s and a Scorsese-like drive to be a sexy, violent, and often funny piece of entertainment.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

‘Saving Mr. Banks’ From Disney’s Grasp (Movie Review)



Saving Mr. Banks:  3 ½ out of 5

P.L. Travers:  I know what he's going to do to her. She'll be cavorting, and twinkling.

It is not as though I am completely averse to movies with intentions of having good-natured stories or ones that thrive on inevitably sweet and heart-warming outcomes, but sometimes a premise and those involved can give you that idea and sway your interest elsewhere.  I have not seen Mary Poppins in many years and do not exactly hold the film in high esteem, because of that, so a film from the director of The Blind Side, produced by Disney, which involves telling a story about the making of Mary Poppins and Walt Disney’s personal involvement seems like it could go a very specific way.  Fortunately, while the film has its share saccharine moments, there is also a more personal story here, with darker elements here, which focuses on an opportunity allowing for a character to move on with their life.  Some terrific performances really aid the film as well, let alone choices in how the film decides to depict Disney.  All of this turned the film into a favorable one for me.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 132 – Out of the Furnace and an Africa Discussion



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is a return to normality, as Aaron is back from Africa.  Abe is once again joined by his partner in crime, as the two discuss Out of the Furnace.  And that’s not all, Abe also interviews Aaron about his trip to Africa.  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 Grand Budapest Hotel and True Detective).  Plenty of insightful movie talk in this guest-free episode, so be prepared!

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

Monday, December 9, 2013

Brief Thoughts: Genre Film Reviews Mashup



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.  The following post contains reviews Man of Tai Chi, Escape From Tomorrow, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Hell Baby, and It's A Disaster.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Strong Performances Heat Up ‘Out Of The Furnace’ (Movie Review)



Out of the Furnace:  3 ½ out of 5

Russell Baze:  There’s nothing wrong with working for a livin’.

Seeing so many good actors in a film like Out of the Furnace, which does not suggest a huge budget was in place or that there was a long, labored production (I hear the shooting schedule was about a month), gives me the idea that a lot of people responded to the script and those involved with it.  While the film does not manage to live up to the high caliber of acting on display, overall, there is certainly a decent enough dramatic story here, with choices that separate it from others.  Choice actually becomes a key theme in the film, which allows the viewer to accept what happens when men make good choices, as well as when they make bad ones.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ There Is A Man, A Guitar, And A Cat (Movie Review)



Inside Llewyn Davis:  5 out of 5

I remember one evening in the pouring rain and in my heart was an aching pain

At times it can be hard to elaborate on why regard can be put so high on certain films.  Without tip-toeing around it, I think Inside Llewyn Davis is an incredibly well-made, well-acted, fantastically strange film that receives the highest rating from me, because I do not know what could be made different to have it be even better.  It is in no way a film that is accessible to everyone, which pretty much comes with the territory when discussing the majority of films from the Coen Brothers, but that matters little to how I received the film.  The film I watched was highly entertaining for a myriad of reasons that stem from the realms of both comedy and drama, when it comes to hitting just below the surface of what this film is, but also has plenty more to consider, as you go deeper into it.  Often times I find myself attempting to find problems with a film that I am really enjoying in an effort to be more constructive in a critique of it later on.  Inside Llewyn Davis did not even push me to that direction, which may have been due to my fondness of creative directors being very successful at producing the film they wanted to make or because of how absorbed I was by all the great music.

Africa Blog 7: What Happened At Victoria Falls And A Final Wrap Up

The following is a 2-week long blogging event, where I recount the events of my trip to South Africa and Zambia, while still on the trip.  Movie stuff will return soon, but for now enjoy what I have to say about Africa:

So here is the final Africa Blog post and I can explain why it is up later than the others.  My camera died.  I talked about this in the previous post, which made for a great way to end on a cliffhanger, but it certainly was not a preferable event to have taken place, given the epic thing that was going on, as this whole malfunction took place.  But I'll get to that in a bit, for now, it should be known that I am safely back in my own home, rested up, and ready to recount the final details of what was an awesome adventure (a most excellent one, some would say).  This last post finishes off the Victoria Falls story, details my last day in Zambia, and might even add a little extra in regards to what I have taken away from all of this.  (Check out the previous Africa Blog posts HERE).

Out Now with Aaron & Abe: Episode 131 - Frozen

Abe took the reigns and hosted this week's podcast without me again (I'll be back on next week). He did all the work, including writing this post:

We review Disney's latest animated feature film Frozen this week and are joined by JoBlo's JimmyO and friend of the show Jordan Grout. Two princesses must battle the elements and learn about love and forgiveness. Will their anger create a split that will last a lifetime, or will they unite for a common cause with the help of talking snowmen and expressive reindeer? It's a Disney movie, but with a story worthy of telling, the answer may surprise you. ...But, it probably won't. Or will it? Listen to find out the answer to these pressing questions!

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

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 8 – “Too Far Gone”



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.

Well that was an eventful way to leave things...as messy as the way we got there.  It has been four seasons and I really should start to accept how dumb The Walking Dead can be, without being such a harsh judge of it.  When the show is at its best, it can be incredibly successful in depicting these zombie/action/chase scenarios, where characters stop talking and start acting fast, before their time is up.  When the show is at its worst, it is when it lets characters repeat the same lessons and speeches they have learned and given over and over again.  The concept of character development in an ongoing zombie apocalypse is what interests me, but issues come with it, when it comes to the television version of this series.  The best of both worlds are seen in this episode, “Too Far Gone”, the mid-season finale, as stubbornness and good intentions end up getting a lot of people killed and regardless of how well it was captured on film, I only cared about two of them.  Still, I shouldn’t be mad, this is The Walking Dead, a show that does not quite learn from its mistakes, but tackles the same ones from different angles, which only sometimes pays off.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

‘Catching Fire’ Burns Down The Competition (Movie Review)



The Hunger Games: Catching Fire:  4 out of 5

President Snow:  You fought very hard in the Games, Miss Everdeen. But they were games. Would you like to be in a real war? Imagine thousands of your people, dead. Your loved ones, gone.
Katniss:  What do I need to do? 

With Twilight having ended and The Hobbit being something of a different beast, there is little that The Hunger Games franchise currently has to compete with, in terms of popular book series being adapted into films.  Several others have come out recently (The Host, Beautiful Creatures, The Mortal Instruments, etc.), but none have found the same sort of success.  We are on the second of four Hunger Games films and the kind of event releases these films seem show that it will be one of the biggest franchises ever, among these types of films.  Keeping all of that in mind, how are the actual films?  Well, I was a big fan of the first movie in the way it both complimented the book and worked on its own and I found the sequel to be following the same pattern, while also strengthening certain elements this time around.  It helps that I also like the second book more than the first, but this second film is nonetheless a triumph in carrying on with a storyline that still has a lot of ground to cover.

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