This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is a bonus episode focused on all the releases that opened in theaters on Christmas Day. Aaron and Abe are joined by guests Mark Hobin and Jordan Grout to discuss Unbroken (3:07), Into The Woods (20:59), Big Eyes (34:39), The Gambler (58:41), and The Interview (70:00). No other segments this week, just a whole lot of movie reviews. So now, if you’ve got an hour (or two) to kill…
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
On December 31st I will be publishing my Top Ten of 2014 over at WhySoBlu.com. Leading up to that post, I wanted to put out the films that are essentially my runner-ups to that list, as I decided to rank my top 30 films of the year. The following post features my Top 20 through 11, with the previous ten films found HERE. The great thing about a list like this, is that it stands as a great Top Ten list on its own, as I really enjoyed all of these films immensely, yet there is still more to come, which consists of films I appreciate a bit more on the final top ten list. Anyway, here is a selection of my favorite films of the year (with links to the review for each).
Labels: 2014 Films, Christopher Nolan, Damien Chazelle, David Fincher, Emily Blunt, J.C. Chandor, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jay Baruchel, Justin Simien, Robin Wright, Tom Cruise, Tom Hardy, Top 10, Top Ten
Monday, December 29, 2014
On December 31st I will be publishing my Top Ten of 2014 over at WhySoBlu.com. Leading up to that post, I wanted to put out the films that are essentially my runner-ups to that list, as I decided to rank my top 30 films of the year. The following post features my Top 30 through 21, with the next ten films to come tomorrow. The great thing about a list like this, is that it stands as a great Top Ten list on its own, as I really enjoyed all of these films immensely, yet there is still more to come, which consists of films I appreciate a bit more. Anyway, here is a selection of my favorite films of the year (with links to the review for each).
Labels: 2014 Films, Andy Serkis, Bill Hader, Chris Pratt, Chris Rock, Gareth Evans, Jack O'Connell, John Lithgow, Kristen Wiig, Michael Fassbender, Reese Witherspoon, Top 10, Top Ten
Friday, December 26, 2014
The Interview: 3 ½ out of 5
Dave Skylark: This is the biggest things since Frosty/Nixon!
[Note: I had no real desire to dig too far into the controversy surrounding this film, as I have been fascinated, but exhausted with keeping up with what has gone on in this surreal situation leading up to the eventual release of this film. That said, my friend Scott Mendeslon over at Forbes has written a number of pieces that go into it, including This. As it stands, I just want to write about the film.]
A small part of the world cried foul, threats were made from various sources, but here we are with the movie that presents an insane premise and matches it with the same sense of humor and themes that have made successes out of the filmmaking team that is Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. While the real-life fallout from producing The Interview was likely something the duo could not have imagined, the actual film is merely silly fun, with only hints of truly biting social commentary. That said, I know what to expect, for the most part, from Team Rogberg at this point, and while this may not be their greatest effort, it is certainly an entertaining one.
Labels: 2014, 2014 Films, Buddy Comedy, Comedy, Diana Bong, Evan Goldberg, James Franco, Randall Park, Satire, Seth Rogen, Sony
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Martin Luther King: The ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and moments of controversy.
I have been told I have something of a knack for impressions. Not particularly in how I look or even sound, but in finding the cadence in whatever humorous display I may be attempting to put on. David Oyelowo does not really look like Martin Luther King, Jr., but he does more than just get the cadence of the man down in Selma. Oyelowo is able to bring to life the presence and soul of Dr. King in a way that is completely worthwhile in a film that features him as both the man and the influential leader that inspired so many. That is no easy task for an actor or a film that would want to feature such a character in the dominant role, but Selma has found a way to bring Martin Luther King, Jr. into a film, without having to do the heavy-lifting of telling the man’s whole story and trying to truncate all of what he accomplished into a two-hour motion picture. Instead, fitted with a commanding lead performance, as well as several very strong supporting performances, and plenty of other great filmmaking-related aspects, Selma is a film that addresses a particular time in a wonderfully impressive way that is both cinematic and quite relevant to our current time.
Labels: 2014 Films, Ava DuVernay, Carmen Ejogo, Common, David Oyelowo, Giovanni Ribisi, Historical Drama, Lorraine Toussaint, Martin Luther King, Oprah Winfrey, Paul Webb, Selma, Tim Roth, Tom Wilkinson, Wendell Pierce
Unbroken: 3 ½ out of 5
Louie Zamperini: I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news.
On the surface, Unbroken has everything needed to not only be a surefire hit for audiences and critics of a certain generation, but also one that could seemingly have awards just handed over to it. This is a film adaptation of a best-selling and well-reviewed novel based around the true story of a former Olympic athlete, who went to war, survived a plane crash, spent time lost at sea, and then lived a tortured life in a prisoner of war camp, only to prove how strong the human spirit can be. This film is directed by a major Hollywood player, who happens to be female, and was co-scripted by the two of the most celebrated filmmakers working today. What is not to like about that? Certainly not a lot, as Unbroken is a good film, with its heart in the right place and plenty of other positive elements going for it. With that in mind, the film does have an issue with finding a way to connect in a stronger sense, given what we are seeing. Unbroken misunderstands that seeing so much happen to someone is not the same as really getting us to understand how much some of these things may matter.
Labels: 2014 Films, Angelina Jolie, Based On a Novel, Based On a True Story, Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, Jack O'Connell, Jai Courtney, Luke Treadaway, Takamasa Ishihara, The Coen Brothers, Unbroken
Jim Bennett: You got me feeling lucky; I’m putting everything on black…
In a film about high stakes gambling and the crushing weight an addiction (or whatever Mark Wahlberg’s character wants to call it), knowing how to balance the tension and frustration of someone constantly risking it all with cinematic skill is very important. Rupert Wyatt’s directorial follow-up to Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a drastically different type of film in terms of scale, but this remake of 1974’s The Gambler clearly shows that he can balance entertainment with intelligence within the confines of mainstream studio fare. Not that we do not see this from other filmmakers in any given year and it is also not like The Gambler is not without its share of issues, but as much as Wahlberg is the star actor in the film, Rupert Wyatt is really selling himself as the star director.
Labels: 2014 Films, Brie Larson, Crime Drama, Jessica Lange, John Goodman, Mark Wahlberg, Michael K. Williams, Remake, Rupert Wyatt, Thriller, William Monohan
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe features the guys from Firstshowing.net, Alex Billington and Ethan Anderton joining the duo to discuss the film, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Among topics covered, we have a fun round of Know Everybody (3:22), some Out Now Quickies™ (9:20), Trailer talk for Knight of Cups (16:50), the main review of course (23:00), Out Now Feedback (1:03:43), a fun Game (1:16:29), What’s Out Now (1:22:30), and some Bloopers following this week’s close out song (1:30:32). So now, if you’ve got an hour or so to kill…
Labels: 2014, 2014 Films, Adventure, Alex Billington, Ethan Anderton, Fantasy, HHWLOD, itunes, Out Now, Peter Jackson, Podcast, The Hobbit, Trailers
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Into The Woods: 3 out of 5
Witch: Sometimes the things you most wish for are not to be touched.
Given how much they talked/sang about it, I was glad that everyone definitely went into the woods. Two things: I was not at all hip to knowing anything about the original Into the Woods stage musical before this film was announced and I enjoy the musical style of Stephen Sondheim. With that in mind, I can say that, for the most part, I was wrapped up in this story that essentially combines many of the most popular fairy tale characters through a common thread that finds each character heading into the woods at some point. Add to that the style of Sondheim’s musicals, which is a big part of why I love Tim Burton’s Sweeny Tood, and you have a film that is at least great to listen to, let alone watch, as we see a number of gifted performers really delivering in the singing department, within a variety of elaborate sets. Given the heavy emphasis on practical effects, it only leads to more praise I would be happy to give the film, if only I was not let down by the film’s final act.
Labels: 2014 Films, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Disney, Emily Blunt, Fantasy, James Corden, Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, Musical, Rob Marshall, Stephen Sondheim, Tracy Ullman
Thursday, December 18, 2014
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: 3 out of 5
Gandalf: You have but one question to answer: How shall this day end?
The second cinematic Middle-Earth trilogy has ended and now we are back where we started in 2002. I am happy for those who are excited to rewatch The Lord of the Rings trilogy, following this ‘defining chapter,’ but I am left with other curiosities. Having never read J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit, I am curious about whether or not audiences who enjoyed what I am aware is a reasonably amusing book for a younger crowd were hoping to see a blood-thirsty final film to close this three-film adaptation. My impression, after first learning of the films that we would be getting was that of an understanding that we’d be dealing with more light-hearted Middle-Earth adventures. I did not get much of that in the previous Hobbit films and certainly not with The Battle of the Five Armies, but that would be less of an issue, if the movie was still good, regardless. Well, it’s not bad, but as much as I like seeing lots of action on display, there is a point where enough is enough, and with this film…well I’m just happy “One Last Time” is part of its mantra.
Labels: 2014 Films, Adventure, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Evangeline Lilly, Fantasy, Ian McKellen, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Martin Freeman, Orlando Bloom, Peter Jackson, Richard Armitage, Stephen Fry, The Hobbit
Margaret: I painted every single one of em’; every ‘big eye’; me. And no one will ever know but you…
The chance to see a director switch gears and focus on something far separated from their previous work can be exciting. As a Tim Burton fan, I do not fault him for making a lot of films that seem right up his alley. That the recent output has not been as compelling as the films in his past is unfortunate, but now we have Big Eyes, which reteams Burton with the writers of Ed Wood, arguably Tim Burton’s best feature film. The resulting product is a smaller scale, more personal story than anything Burton has been involved with in quite some time, featuring two strong, lead performances. It is not an over-the-top fantasy, but a drama that delves into the worth of one’s identity.
Labels: 2014 Films, Amy Adams, Based On a True Story, Christoph Waltz, Comedy Drama, Danny Huston, Jason Schwartzman, Jon Polito, Krysten Ritter, Terence Stamp, Tim Burton
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Lancelot: Sir Lancelot, at your service.
Teddy Roosevelt: Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States of America.
Lancelot: [excitedly friendly] I have no idea what that means.
Lancelot: Sir Lancelot, at your service.
Teddy Roosevelt: Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States of America.
Lancelot: [excitedly friendly] I have no idea what that means.
I had fun with this film. There is more to read, but how much do I really need to say about the third film in a series about Ben Stiller interacting with museum exhibits that come to life at night, thanks to the power of a magic tablet? Okay, so maybe that sentence alone can be deconstructed plenty, given how absurd it may sound, but with that in mind, I cannot say the Night at the Museum franchise has been one I have been overly enthusiastic about, but I can say I’ve enjoyed the sequels more than the original film. They are simple enough family comedies, featuring enough supporting performances going over-the-top in ways that make me smile to recommend them for what they are: harmless fun. Given the sense of finality in this installment, a little extra something is added, but for the most part, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb may not be the sequel everyone has been pining for, but it is an easy watch for the intended audience.
Labels: 2014 Films, Adventure, Ben Kingsley, Ben Stiller, Comedy, Dan Stevens, Fantasy, Owen Wilson, Rami Malik, Rebel Wilson, Robin Williams, Shawn Levy, Skyler Gisondo, Steve Coogan
This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe features Josh Larson from Filmspotting joining the duo to discuss the film, Exodus: Gods and Kings. Among topics covered, this episode features a fun round of Know Everybody (4:18) and the main review (8:30). Then, guest Alan Aguilera steps in forOut Now Quickies (43:20), Trailer Talk (Terminator Genisys and San Andreas) (47:47), Out Now Feedback (62:50), a discussion of the films of Ridley Scott (69:15), What’s Out Now (81:06), and some Bloopers following this week’s close out song (93:47). So now, if you’ve got an hour or so to kill…
Monday, December 15, 2014
I really enjoy putting my reviews together. I honestly wish I could delve deeper into certain movies, but alas, I get incredibly busy and can sometimes only deal with movies to a briefer extent than I would prefer. 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. They may not be as polished, but I can at least get my opinions out there. This Brief Thought is a movie review for the film Pride, now up for a Best Comedy/Musical Golden Globe.
Labels: 2014 Films, Andrew Scott, Ben Schnetzer, Bill Nighy, British, Comedy Drama, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton, Paddy Considine, Pride
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Inherent Vice: 4 ½ out of 5
Sortilege: Doc may not be a “Do-Gooder” but he’s done good. Good luck,Doc.
Former flames, big time real estate moguls, something called the Golden Fang, and of course, lots of drugs; it looks like Doc might be getting in over his head. Following There Will Be Blood and The Master it is nice to see writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson lighten up with Inherent Vice, an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s comedic detective novel of the same name, which places Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role of a private investigator looking into a missing person’s case. While there certainly is a lot of plotting that develops, the film puts itself in the intriguing position of not really using that as a focus. True to Anderson’s style, the film is much happier to explore the world and characters deposited into it, making for a bizarre, yet very entertaining feature.
Labels: 2014 Films, Benicio Del Toro, Crime Comedy, Eric Roberts, Jena Malone, Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Katherine Waterson, Martin Short, Owen Wilson, Paul Thomas Anderson, Reese Witherspoon, Thomas Pynchon
Chris Rock: I love being famous. It’s almost like being white.
I am a fan of seeing live standup comedy. Something I have observed in that setting is what people can get away with. Something about the standup environment allows comedians and audiences (within reason) to joke and laugh about things they would otherwise consider too much of a taboo. With Top Five, Chris Rock has written, directed, and starred in a really funny movie that works within that sort of standup environment. It has the sense of a talented comedian and filmmaker working to make an act that would fit in that standup setting blown up into a motion picture production, without losing the edge. Rock has crafted a witty, satirical script that blends showbiz living, various comedic topics, some romance, and drama together quite effectively. It shows how Chris Rock has not only maintained his edge, but continues to grow as an actor and filmmaker, which I feel great about saying.
Labels: 2014 Films, Cedric the Entertainer, Chris Rock, Comedy, J.B. Smoove, Jay Pharoah, Kevin Hart, Leslie Jones, Rosario Dawson, Satire, Sherri Shepherd, Tracy Morgan
Friday, December 12, 2014
I really enjoy putting my reviews together. I honestly wish I could delve deeper into certain movies, but alas, I get incredibly busy and can sometimes only deal with movies to a briefer extent than I would prefer. 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. They may not be as polished, but I can at least get my opinions out there. This Brief Thoughts is focused on The Theory of Everything, the drama based on the life of physicist Stephen Hawking and his former wife Jane Wilde Hawking.
Labels: 2014 Films, Based On a True Story, Charlie Cox, David Thewlis, Drama, Eddie Redmayne, Emily Watson, Felicity Jones, James Marsh, Romance, Stephen Hawking
I really enjoy putting my reviews together. I honestly wish I could delve deeper into certain movies, but alas, I get incredibly busy and can sometimes only deal with movies to a briefer extent than I would prefer. 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. They may not be as polished, but I can at least get my opinions out there. In this Brief Thought, I review the British prison drama Starred Up, starring Unbroken's Jack O'Connell, Ben Mendelsohn, and Rupert Friend.
Labels: 2014 Films, Ben Mendelsohn, British, Crime Drama, David Mackenzie, Drama, Jack O'Connell, Jonathan Asser, Prison, Rupert Friend
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Exodus: Gods And Kings: 2 ½ out of 5
Moses: Remember this. I am prepared to fight. For eternity.
Exodus: Gods and Kings is an epic. There is no way around that. Regardless of my thoughts on the film as a whole, director Ridley Scott has made a film that is grand in scale, fully realized in its depiction of an ancient time, and littered with extras, sets, props, and obvious visual effects in an effort to tell the story of Moses in ancient Egypt. Unfortunately, despite clear effort being put forth, the film is lacking in much emotional heft and, despite its runtime, the film feels rushed in execution, based on the straightforward telling of the narrative. It did not end up feeling like a drag, given the way the grand theatricality matched up with the fairly rote storytelling, but at the same time, Exodus does not capture the weight of this story in the way I am sure many would have hoped.
Labels: 2014 Films, Action, Ben Mendelsohn, Christian Bale, Drama, Epic, Exodus, Historical Drama, Joel Edgerton, John Tuturro, Period Drama, Ridley Scott, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Zaillian
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is another loose episode, given the lack of a huge release in a lot of theaters. As a result, Aaron and guest Mark Hobin, from Fast Film Reviews, have decided to provide a brief review of The Babadook, before delving into a long look at 2014’s award contenders. The two take the time to go over some recent releases, such as Wild, The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, among other films, while also making some predictions and discussing the possibility of potential nominees and winners, along with possible frontrunners for the various award shows and ceremonies coming very soon. Listen in to enjoy what this conversation has to offer. So now, if you’ve got an hour (or two) to kill…
Labels: 2014, 2014 Films, Award Contenders, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Keaton, Oscars, Out Now, Podcast, Reese Witherspoon, The Babadook, Wild
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Samuel: You can’t get rid of the Babadook.
The Babadook sits high on the list, as far as 2014 horror films go. Produced on a small budget, working with a limited cast, using some creativity, and creating some already iconic imagery, this is a film that gets away with treading familiar ground, because the approach is so effective. Working as both a psychological thriller and a children’s bedtime story gone horribly wrong, this Australian horror film is chillingly effective and completely worth seeking out, given that it sadly sits without a proper large scale theatrical release, while crap like Ouija makes far more money than it should.
Labels: 2014 Films, Australian, Essie Davis, Horror, Horror Films, Jennifer Kent, Noah Wiseman, Psychological Thriller, Thriller
Friday, December 5, 2014
Wild: 4 out of 5
Cheryl: Finish that sentence. Why do I have to walk a thousand miles?
I find there to be a comfortable understanding in films about characters that go on journeys to find themselves. Regardless of the reason and whether or not the story is based on a real person, I can expect to see a certain kind of arc play out. We will learn what we need to learn about this character, watch them progress, hit various blocks in their path (physically and mentally), and eventually come to some sort of emotional catharsis. Sure, that sums up a lot of movies in general, but these kinds of movies are hardly subtle, yet often quite fulfilling. Maybe it is just due to having such a singular focus when it comes to this kind of story, but I certainly find myself quite invested in them. It also helps when such strong work is on display, which brings me to my thoughts on the rather excellent film Wild.
Labels: Adventure, Based On a True Story, Cheryl Strayed, Drama, Jean-Marc Vallee, Laura Dern, Nick Hornby, Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Alan Turing: Codes are a puzzle. A game. Just like any other game.
I am a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch. I even like to refer to him by his full name, Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch, because I enjoy celebrating just how British he is. It is clear to me that I am not alone in my appreciation for BTCC, but I do enjoy that it is coming from not just his work on BBC’s Sherlock, but from seeing him branch out into so many different roles. Now he stars as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, which feels like a role perfectly suitable for him, given the challenge of portraying this complex persona, yet having a familiarity with portraying someone with an idiosyncratic nature, especially when it comes to interaction with others. As for the film as a whole, it is perfectly entertaining in the “important biopic that you probably won’t feel the need to see more than once” kind of way, but the presence of Cumberbatch and his strong performance may certainly defy that kind of logic.
Labels: 2014 Films, Alan Turing, Based On a True Story, Benedict Cumberbatch, Charles Dance, Drama, Graham Moore, Keira Knightley, Mark Strong, Matthew Goode, Morten Tyldum, Period Drama
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe has the guys going over some big movie trailers and some various movie-themed news items. Listen in as the guys talk the trailers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, and Pan (2:50), then listen to them dig into news regarding Ridley Scott (55:09), James Cameron (70:18), the next project from J.K. Rowling (75:50), the Independent Spirit Award nominations (79:39), Independence Day 2 (83:50), Jobs (96:08), and more! So now, if you’ve got an hour or so to kill…
Labels: 2014, Aaron Sorkin, Avatar, interstellar, James Cameron, Jurassic World, Out Now, Pan, Podcast, Ridley Scott, Star Wars, Trailers