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Friday, January 31, 2014

‘That Awkward Moment’…Indeed (Movie Review)

That Awkward Moment:  2 out of 5

Jason:  If you’re single, we’re staying single with you!

A few days ago I was discussing the HBO series Entourage with some friends and going over how it began as a fairly entertaining series, but eventually amounted to some conflict that could be extinguished with the simple mantra of, “Vince and the gang are going to be alright.”  The show mainly relied on the easy-going dude chemistry between the guys (and Jeremy Piven), as they lived lives of luxury in Hollywood.  While the setting and premise are very different, That Awkward Moment had me thinking of Entourage quite a bit.  This dude-focused romantic comedy has fairly low stakes, features a group of people who are all fairly successful and especially well-dressed, and it never seems like there is much going on to threaten their existence.  I am not saying the world needed to be crashing down around them, but it is a fairly standard comedy that was rarely very funny and essentially amounted to the mantra of, “Zac Efron and the gang are going to be alright.”

‘Labor Day’ Is Not Much Of A Holiday Movie (Movie Review)

Labor Day:  2 ½ out of 5

Frank:  Frankly, this needs to happen.

It seemed pretty telling of the quality to me that a film by acclaimed director Jason Reitman would be practically swept under the rug, given its low profile release at the end of January, but I had a desire to see it anyway.  I have been a fan of Reitman’s previous films (including Juno, Up In The Air, and Young Adult), so I was more or less pleased at the prospect of seeing another film from him.  While I was not familiar with the novel by Joyce Maynard, which this film is based on, I could get behind a Jason Reitman film that stars Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet.  Unfortunately, while these leads deliver fine work, as that generally comes with casting good actors, the film slipped away from being a poetic coming-of-age story and moved towards being a melodramatic piece of work, finding more in common with familiar Nicholas Sparks dramas.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Foreign Frankenstein’s Film Festival


Here’s another bonus episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe and full of content.  This week the guys look at 2013's foreign films with guest Mark Hobin, have a brief chat about I, Frankenstein with guest Jordan Grout, and recap the Sundance Film Festival with Adam Gentry, which has been a yearly tradition.  Additionally, some of the regular segments are brought up, including a brief “Know Everybody”, some “Out Now Quickies”, and some other fun that generally comes with the territory.  It is a packed bonus episode, so be prepared.

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

Monday, January 27, 2014

'The Past' is The Past And The Film Is Great (Movie Review)



The Past:  4 ½ out of 5

Samir: When two people see each other after 4 years and still fight together, it shows that there is something unsolved between them.

One of the best things about The Past, writer/director Asghar Farhadi’s follow up film to 2011’s Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film, A Separation, is that it makes me want to see all of Farhadi’s previous films.  Once again working with a fairly straight-forward, reality-based premise as the subject for a drama, Farhadi is certainly proving to be one of the best voices in film, when it comes to examining familial relationships.  What makes this impressive is how gripping I have found his films to be, despite being incredibly limited as far as any sort of flashiness is concerned.  With The Past, there are no broad characters, the film has almost no music or score whatsoever, and the film’s stakes are entirely personal to the specific people involved.  Still, The Past was another standout from 2013, as it is so great at being the film it is trying to be.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Brief Thoughts: The Great Beauty

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 latest "Brief Thoughts" post is a review for the Oscar nominated Italian film The Great Beauty from writer/director Paolo Sorrentino.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Out Now Accolades 2013 Awards Extravaganza Show!



Here’s another bonus episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe and it’s another big one in terms of wrapping up the group’s thoughts on the films of 2013.  It is an award show, which has Aaron and Abe going over what they have as picks for the “Best Of’s” in a lot of different categories, such as “Best Actor”, “Best Director”, etc., along with other (more fun) categories like “Best Comedic Scene”, “Favorite CG Character,” and so on.  Additionally, Aaron and Abe asked all of their guests to fill out their own answers for these categories, so they can be compiled together, determining the most popular entries, resulting in some fun overall results.  And that’s still not all! Mr. Scooter has returned once again, with his own picks, and serves as the special guest on this episode!  Plenty of accolades to hand out, so glad the right crew was available.

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


Friday, January 24, 2014

Brief Thoughts: The Act of Killing

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.  This "Brief Thoughts" post will focus on the Oscar-nominated documentary The Act of Killing, from director Joshua Oppenheimer.  The film is currently available on Netflix Instant Watch, among other sources.

Brief Thoughts: Drug War

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.  This "Brief Thoughts" post will focus on Drug War, the Hong Kong crime drama, from director Johnnie To, which is currently available on Netflix Instant Watch, among other sources.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 135 – Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is a dive into the new releases of January, which tends to not be any sort of treasure trove.  Aaron, Abe, and guest Jordan Grout talk about Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, that latest film based on the Tom Clancy-created character.  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 Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro and 3 Days To Kill).  We are now operational now, so be sure to mind your head when working in the field.

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

Monday, January 20, 2014

Aaron’s Most Anticipated Films of 2014 By Month

I was seeing a lot of lists regarding people’s most anticipated films of the year and I figured I would post one too.  Many directors, writers, and actors that I admire have films hitting theaters this year, so it was nice to dig into the upcoming release schedule of this year and really figure out what I am looking forward to.  The problem then became how to rank these films.  Given that I just struggled to put together a top ten list for 2013, I figured I would take a different approach with this list.  The following is a list of films I am looking forward to, separated out by month, with mentions of a few other films as well.  One must also keep in mind that I am going mostly by mainstream films with established release dates (that could potentially change).  With all of that out of the way, here we go:

Friday, January 17, 2014

‘Jack Ryan’: Plain Recruit (Movie Review)



Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit:  2 ½ out of 5

Harper:  You’re not just an analyst anymore.

Does the world need another Jack Ryan?  The character, created by writer Tom Clancy, has never quite taken off, despite their now being five films that feature him.  The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear and Present Danger are solid spy thrillers/procedurals, but are not 90s films that many seem to single out all that often.  This sentiment was challenged in 2002 with The Sum of All Fears, the first reboot of the Jack Ryan character.  Despite receiving decent-to-positive reviews then, The Bourne Identity arrived around the same time, made around the same amount of money, but basically buried Ryan’s analyst ways, as audiences favored the kinetic spy action.  Now we have another take on the character in a new film that flirts with what audiences like in the Bourne films, but still tries to be a Clancy-style spy thriller.  The results are unfortunately very average.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thoughts On The 86th Academy Award Nominations

I had some fun going over the Oscar Nominations this morning.  Not because they were anything special, but because it is entertaining to point out my own (selfish) feelings about what is great to see and what is sad to notice in terms of these nominations.  As always, the films I liked most, let alone anyone who obsessively or casually watches movies, only received so much love, but I cannot deny that a good majority of the films nominated are ones that I praised a lot.  Sure films like Fruitvale Station or Short Term 12 were unlikely to get nominations, but even more acclaimed films like Inside Llewyn Davis seemed like they had a bigger shot at some major awards and received very little.  I am not a great Oscar Prognosticator (check out Mark Johnson and his buddies over at AwardsCircuit.com to get the real scoop on predictions), I simply had some thoughts I would like to share on the nominations.

Buckle Up With Cube, ‘Ride Along’ With Hart, Laugh Maybe (Movie Review)



Ride Along: 2 ½ out of 5

James:  You wouldn’t last one day out here.

There is not much work to be done when reviewing a film like Ride Along.  It is a comedy, so I cannot exactly say whether someone will laugh or not, as it is all subjective.  The film is a buddy cop movie, which follows a long list of mismatched pairings designed to work, based on chemistry and the potential comedy that comes with it.  Lastly, the film heavily relies on how much they enjoy a specific performer.  Basically, Ride Along is a completely inoffensive comedy that puts the spotlight on Kevin Hart.  Ice Cube is around to provide straight man support, but if you like Hart, this film may be mildly entertaining.  There is not much more to it than that, but hey, I can still dig into this film anyway and see if anything else important comes to light.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 134 - HER



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is a return to normality, as we are back from bonus shows and into regular episodes again.  Alan Aguilera joins Aaron and Abe to discuss the latest film from Spike Jonze, Her, as well as dig into plenty of other fun.  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 (Transcendence and Interstellar).  No need for an automated operating system this week, as the guys have it all under control.

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

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Top Ten of 2013 (Part 2)


This episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is always one of the most anticipated ones, as it involves Aaron and Abe gathering some frequent guests and going over their favorite movies of the year.  This year, the episode was so big that the guys decided to cut it into two episodes.  This is part two of the Top Ten of 2013 countdown, which goes over Aaron and Abe, along with guests Mark Hobin, Maxwell Haddad, and Scott Mendelson’s 4-1 picks, along with some mentions of picks from other frequent guests and listeners of the show.  Of course, there is also plenty of banter to go along with the various picks that are stated, let alone lots of other little bonuses, so be sure to dig into this second half, and be very happy to go back and listen to part 1, if you haven’t checked in on that one yet.

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

‘Lone Survivor’ Wants To Make Every Bullet Count (Movie Review)



Lone Survivor: 2 ½ out of 5

Axelson:  This is a bad spot.

Devotion can be a tricky thing.  Lone Survivor is ostensibly an action film, but because of its source material and the man who lived the experience, the effort that went into making this film seems to have been heavily concentrated on making it have the feel of an “important” story, just as much as a technically proficient action experience.  This is not anything new, but it can have an effect on how impactful a film may be, depending on how strident a film may be in wanting to tell a certain kind of story.  Lone Survivor gets points for depicting a level of intensity not often found in anything other than action-heavy war films, but it is because of how devoted it wants to be to the true story by way of brutality and how heavily supportive it is of the actual men involved in this story that the whole thing ends up feeling less impactful as a standalone film.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Top Ten of 2013 (Part 1)



This episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is always one of the most anticipated ones, as it involves Aaron and Abe gathering some frequent guests and going over their favorite movies of the year.  This year, the episode was so big that the guys decided to cut it into two episodes.  So here is part one of the Top Ten of 2013 countdown, which goes over Aaron and Abe, along with guests Mark Hobin, Maxwell Haddad, and Scott Mendelson’s 10-5 picks, along with some mentions of picks from other frequent guests and listeners of the show.  Of course, there is also plenty of banter to go along with the various picks that are stated, let alone lots of other little bonuses, so be sure to dig into part one, and be very happy to anticipate part 2 arriving later on this week.

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

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Brief Thoughts: Grudge Match

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.  Below is a brief review of the 2013 Christmas Day release Grudge Match.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Aaron’s Top 10 Films of 2013



It was a big and bright year, but somehow I managed to put together a list of my favorite films of 2013.  I have to say that this was once again not the easiest list to put together.  Theatrically, I have seen 150+ films this year, so there were a lot of films to consider and figure out how to reference in terms of their placement on this list.  Some of these films certainly got a bigger response out of me than others, but at the same time, some stuck with me throughout the year and wound up receiving even higher praise than I may have initially given them.  It took a lot of effort, but I am very satisfied by this final list that I have put together, mainly because it is my list and it contains films that I really enjoyed the most this year, for various reasons.  So here we go.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Paranormal Activity: Witches Be Crazy (Movie Review)



Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones: 3 ½ out of 5

Jesse:  Let’s go check downstairs. 

I have made it no secret that I have been a fan of the Paranormal Activity franchise.  While not every entry has been great, they have just the right effect on me, given that I enjoy horror films, but am rarely scared by them.  Something about this series has worked well enough to have me tense in the theater, but more so the night after seeing the film.  It must be the combination of a good audience experience, some of the clever ideas in creating the buildup and payoffs, and the attempts to keep these entries grounded by using the ‘found footage’ aspect.  Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones worked for me more than I expected it would.  It has to do with some changeups of the format, but I do also continue to enjoy the simplicity of this series, even as it continues to develop its mythology and include bigger special effects.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Aaron's Odds & Ends of 2013: The Top 11-20 and Other Special Mentions


I had a lot to go through when putting together my year end Top Ten list, which will be the next post, as far as these "Top Ten of 2013" posts go.  I am quite satisfied with my final list of top ten films, but at the same time, there were a lot of films that I wanted to receive some kind of recognition from me, as I truly did do a lot of work to narrow everything down.  So I have created this list of "Odds & Ends", which makes special mentions for various documentaries, independent, arthouse & foreign films, and more mainstream films that I saw and really enjoyed.  I have also listed what I would my consider my Top 11-20 films of the year, which could easily be someone else's complete Top Ten list, along with some underrated features.  So without further ado, here's is a big mix of films from 2013 that, while not a part of my final Top Ten, I also really found to be worthwhile.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Aaron’s Top Ten Worst Films Of 2013



This is not really a post of joy, but every year does see the release of films that are just not good.  I do not try to seek out these films, with the majority being ones that I did think could have redeemable elements, but that just wasn’t the case here.  This list contains what I think were the biggest misses of the year, which I watched in full and could not handle.  I also have a list of disappointing films, which are not necessarily terrible, but certainly far from living up to their potential.  I never actively seek out films to hate on and am happy to generally not see all of the truly terrible films that come out every year, but this is the time of year to reflect, so I have.  Additionally, I did not see the supposed tragedy known as R.I.P.D. before the year ended, so I’m just going to have to call this the R.I.P.D. Memorial Worst Films List for now (and I just have nothing to say as far as Grown Ups 2 is concerned).

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