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Saturday, September 29, 2012

‘Looper’ Bends Time And Breaks Convention

Looper:  5 out of 5

Joe: Time travel has not yet been invented. But thirty years from now, it will have been.

Time travel movies can often be tricky.  I am a big fan of films that attempt to utilize the subject, as I like to spend plenty of time thinking about the logic involved.  In many cases, regardless of how much fun or how good the film is, the logic is not really sound.  Some time travel flicks work because of how much time they spend detailing their own logistics (Primer is the ultimate example of this).  Others work because of how little they seem to care about the logic (think Bill & Ted).  But then there are time travel films that just fail on all fronts (think Timecop).  Writer/director Rian Johnson’s Looper excels at making its time travel premise work, because it smartly sidesteps a lot of its own issues by almost using its setup as a clever misdirect.  As characters bend time, the film bends its own meaning, with a smart and original script and solid performances to hold it all together.

Friday, September 28, 2012

‘Pitch Perfect’ Is Aca-Okay

Pitch Perfect:  2 ½ out of 5

Becca:  Alright, let’s remix this business.

I may be a guy, in his 20s, who writes about movies and Blu-rays, and plays video games, and would have seemingly no reason to want to see a film about competitive a capella groups, but I found the trailer to be slight, but enjoyable, and who can say no to a smile from Anna Kendrick?  Pitch Perfect is pretty much what I expected; sometimes charming, sometimes incredibly formulaic, with a soundtrack that will be dated by the time the film leaves theaters, but it’s harmless.  It has some fun performances and a neat a cappella battle scene that I wanted to see more of, but the standard plot bogs it down.  Essentially, if you are a big fan of Bring it On, you will probably have plenty of fun with Pitch Perfect, so take that as you will.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 74 - Dredd

Time for Dredd.  This second regular-style episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe focuses on the latest adaptation of the Judge Dredd comic as this new, 3D version, starring Karl Urban.  Aaron and Abe are joined by guests Jose Cordova and comedian Christian Spicer to talk about the R-rated action flick and shed light on whether this film gave proper justice to its comic roots.  Along with Dredd, the group gets into the regular segments as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Trailer Talk” (Red Dawn and Alex Cross), “Movie Call Back”, Box Office Result, and of course Games.  Plenty going on under the helmet this week, so have fun checking this episode out.

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 73 – The Master

This episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is the first of two recorded back to back this week.  The main topic is a lengthy review of The Master, which Aaron, Abe, and guests Mark Johnson and Mark Hobin, are happy to all participate in.  The film has certainly built up a lot of hype behind it from the filmlover crowd, so now it has come time to try to apply some sort of analysis to it.  That said, this is still an Out Now episode complete with the regular segments, including “Know Everybody”, “Trailer Talk” (Lincoln and The Hobbit), “Movie Call Back”, “Out Now Quickies™”, Box Office, and of course Games.  It’s a backed show with lots to process.

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

Monday, September 24, 2012

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Audio Commentary For From Russia With Love

Another commentary for Out Now with Aaron and Abe.  This time the guys are talking about the 2nd James Bond film and one of the best, From Russia With Love.  They figured that with Skyfall approaching soon, talking Bond films would be fun, especially with the presence of Scott Mendelson and a man Aaron and Abe consider a pretty well-spoken Bond enthusiast, Brandon Peters.  The group goes through a lengthy discussion while watching the film, which can be synched up for those who would want to watch along, but for everyone in general, this commentary track is just a strong source of fun banter revolving around this film and Bond in general.  So enjoy.

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…

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Two Good Cops Work Until The ‘End Of Watch’

End Of Watch:  4 out of 5

Brian Taylor:  We’re cops, everybody wants to kill us.

Talk about surprises!  End of Watch is maybe the best cop drama I have seen since The Departed, let alone the best cop film I have seen in quite some time that does not involve corrupt or undercover officers who get in too deep.  This seems like a film that could have been incredibly generic, serving as just another entry in a line of crime dramas and buddy cop movies, while only bringing the notion of found footage to the table as a new take on the genre.  Instead, End of Watch turned out to be an incredibly engaging film, depicting too good cops who get in over their heads, after working too effectively.  The film works due to the strength of these two lead performances and the sense of urgency that is utilized given the filming style.  It is intense when it needs to be, but also quite enjoyable because of how well we come to know the relationship between these two cops who are partners that work hard to stop crime.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

‘Dredd’ Is The Law, And He Brings Proper Judgment

Dredd 3D:  4 out of 5
Judge Dredd:  Negotiation’s over. Sentence is death.
For a movie that is about brutal violence and maintaining a dark and nihilistic tone throughout, Dredd sure was a pretty film.  This second attempt on a theatrical feature about the futuristic cop who serves as judge, jury, and executioner is an exercise in grit and violence, with just a hint of self-satire to keep the whole thing quite entertaining throughout, but its best asset is the visual aesthetic, which makes the ugly world that we find these characters in look quite striking.  This seems especially notable, given that the film utilizes simplicity in its structure to keep from feeling to empty overall, but as a fairly non-complex action picture, it has plenty of time to look and feel like a well-made, stripped down genre flick, with plenty of thrills and gunplay to keep up the excitement.  For what Dredd has attempted to do, it does it well enough to satisfy the law that Dredd swears by.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

‘The Master’ And His Cause Requires Some Processing

The Master:  3 ½ out of 5

Lancaster Dodd:  Man is not an animal. We are not a part of the animal kingdom. We sit far above that crown, perched as animals, not beasts. I have unlocked and discovered a secret to living in these bodies that we hold.

So a WWII Vet and the leader of a cult walk into a bar…One has no idea where to go and the other appears to have all the answers.  A main character finding comfort and solace from a new and enigmatic person in their life has been a theme in other films from writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson.  Hard Eight (Sydney) has John C. Reilly learning from a much classier Phillip Baker Hall.  Boogie Nights features Mark Wahlberg being taken in as a new, bright shining star by the patriarch of a porn-associated family, played by Burt Reynolds.  Punch-Drunk Love has Adam Sandler’s introverted Barry completely changing his life around, as he decides to pursue Emily Watson’s character, as the two seem to be kindred spirits.  Anderson’s latest film, The Master, finds Joaquin Phoenix’s character being absorbed into the world of a charismatic intellectual played by Philip Seymour Hoffman.  The result is a film that is ambitious, greatly acted, expertly filmed, but also challenging to fully embrace.  For a film that is so centered on two key performances, I felt an odd distance to the film as a whole, which made it difficult for me to embrace, despite having so many great scenes throughout.  Matching up with other films that could be considered too esoteric for mainstream audiences (Tree of Life), I will be curious to see where The Master ends up standing within Anderson’s body of work, as far as the director’s fan base is concerned.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – The Adventures of Indiana Jones

This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is another bonus episode.  This time, Aaron, Abe, and guests Alan Aguilera and Jordan Grout, along with newest guest Gregg Knox, spend time evaluating the complete adventures of Indiana Jones, in honor of the Blu-ray set released this week.  The group discusses every film individually, while of course approaching where they stack up in the series as a whole, along with memorable moments, and other things about the series in general.  Not many of the regular segments this week, aside from everyone’s favorite, “Know Everybody,” but there’s certainly no time for love Dr. Jones, because these guys are on a constant stream of thought regarding everyone’s favorite professor/adventurer.

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Grumpy Old Clint Finds ‘Trouble With The Curve’

Trouble With The Curve:  2 ½ out of 5

Gus:  Get out of here, before I have a heart attack trying to kill you.

So Clint Eastwood has returned to the big screen for a movie that does not require a whole lot of effort from him.  Trouble with the Curve is a fairly slight film about a number of old American chestnuts, such as baseball, getting older, trusting your instincts, and the father-daughter relationship.  It is not necessarily bad, it is just nothing that is all that special, as everything about the film is predictable, lacking in subtlety, and tied up in a nice little package at the end.  The reason to show up is for Clint of course, but how much you appreciate him depends on how much you want to put up with his grumpy old man shtick.  The likability of Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake add a bit to the film, but overall, it is a fairly slow walk through the ballpark.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Audio Commentary For Judge Dredd

Here we go with another bonus commentary.  This time, inspired both by the upcoming release of Dredd 3D and the enthusiasm of guest Jordan Grout, Aaron, Abe, along with Jordan and commentary favorite Jim Dietz, decided that the 1995 Judge Dredd was a perfectly good choice for a movie that Out Now could discuss at feature length.  As always, these commentaries are recorded to match up with the film, which the gang is sure to synch up in the opening, before things get underway.  Whether or not the listener decides to listen to the commentary with or without the movie playing in the background is a choice that they’ll have to make for themselves.

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, September 15, 2012

Still Just Swimming With Finding Nemo; Now With (Inconsequential) 3D

Dory:  This is the Ocean, silly, we're not the only two in here. 
With a Blu-ray finally on the way this fall, Finding Nemo returned to theaters with a shiny, new 3D coat.  This is not really a review of Finding Nemo, just a brief post about my continued, unabashed love for the 5th theatrical release from Pixar, which would become the studio's most successful feature (were one to combine its box office totals, critical praise, and accolades) until Toy Story 3 came along.  It serves as a perfect template for what Pixar strives for and for me, it continues to be great in every sense.  It delivers on story, character beats, humor, drama, and adventure, while also remaining highly re-watchableIts return to theaters as an up-converted 3D version of the film may be a simple way to further cash-in, before the Blu-ray hits shelves, but similar to other re-released 3D features, its a decent enough excuse to allow me to see a film I really enjoy on the big screen again.

Friday, September 14, 2012

‘Robot & Frank’: A Buddy Movie From The Near Future

Robot & Frank:  4 out of 5

Robot: Hello, Frank. It is a pleasure to meet you.
Frank: How do you know?

Sometimes it all just boils down to something as simple as a man and his robot.  Robot & Frank is a very low key story that takes a simple sci-fi premise and manages to pull off something pretty affecting.  It features a wonderful lead performance from Frank Langella, who is tasked with playing an elderly man who befriends a robot, which leads into a film that ends up being a drama, a buddy comedy, and a heist film all in one.  The result is a charming feature that is both sly and heartfelt.  There may not be much more to this film that adds further dimension to this world or social commentary in any way, beyond the basic themes and concepts, but is still an enjoyable and well-made film, nonetheless.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 72 – V/H/S and the [REC] Series

This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is a found footage horror special.  Aaron and Abe, along with special guest Gerard Iribe, have decided to talk about the Spanish horror film [REC] and its subsequent sequels, along with the newest horror anthology film, V/H/S.  All of these features are shot in the found footage format, which is a good enough throughline.  Regardless, it is a quadruple movie review episode, which seems like plenty for listeners.  Of course, it is not plenty for the group, given that they still have all of the regular segments as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Trailer Talk” (Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and The Bay), “Movie Call Back”, Box Office Results, Games, and other fun.  So that seems like a lot, but the guys like to deliver.

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

Friday, September 7, 2012

Seeing ‘Sleepwalk With Me’ Is A Step In The Right Direction

Sleepwalk With Me:  4 out of 5

Matt:  Abby, there’s a jackal in the room!

So I have been told that I have sleepwalked before.  This realization has dawned on me as well, as I have found myself in weird situations in the dead of night before, but it has never lead to anything that has put me into harm’s way.  In saying this, I do not think it necessarily puts me right in tune with what writer/director/star of Sleepwalk with Me, Mike Birbiglia, has gone through, but it did seem like an honest and easy enough hook to draw people in, so there you go.  For those still with me on this, along with being a story about a man who developed a sleepwalking disorder based on the stress in his life, this film delivers a relationship story and a story about a burgeoning comedian who found his way.  It is a scrappy little film, based on a true story, but it is quite entertaining and endearing.

Seek Out ‘Searching For Sugar Man’

Searching for Sugar Man:  4 out of 5

Stephen Segerman:  To many of us South Africans, he was the soundtrack to our lives.
Does anyone have a favorite musician, who made music they really appreciated, only to have no idea what happened to that person or group?  On the contrary, what if you did something you enjoyed and released your work to the public, found little success and faded into oblivion, only to learn years later that you have become something of an icon for a particular crowd.  Searching for Sugar Man is a documentary that basically explores the idea of a mythical figure on the small scale.  It follows the journey of a few men seeking the truth behind what happened to a musician who never amounted to much in his own country, but become something of a phenomenon elsewhere.  It is a tremendously appealing film, due to the nature of the people involved, what we come to learn about the man who is sought after, and of course the wonderful soundtrack of the film.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – 1st Annual Top Summer Movies Gamble – RESULTS!

This special episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is our epic result show.  Aaron, Abe, and guests Alan Aguilera, Mark Hobin, and Adam Gentry were tasked with making a big wager back in May.  The 1st Annual Top Summer Movies Gamble, where everyone had made a list of what films they thought would be the top ten biggest box office successes of the summer, has now come to a close.  Each participant had created their own list (and added a few dark horses as well) and the podcast once again lays out the rules and how scoring will work, followed by the results as to who came out on top overall.  In addition, everyone also goes over all of their biggest hits and misses as far as the summer films were concerned.  Hilarious hijinks, of course, ensue, as well as the name of our ultimate winner for this awesome challenge.

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

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Audio Commentary For Street Fighter

It’s another commentary and it’s a good one.  Out Now with Aaron and Abe is happy to present a commentary focused on the 1994 classic, Street Fighter, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Raul Julia.  Aaron and Abe are joined by Alan Aguilera and Jordan Grout, as well as Street Fighter Video Game technical expert Ken Noffsinger, who all impart some thoughts and knowledge in regards to the film adaptation, which we all know and love.  As always, these commentaries seem to be fun whether or not you are actually watching the movie, so feel free to get our thoughts and be entertained, regardless of the setting.

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…

‘V/H/S’ Brings On Grainy Anthology Horror

V/H/S:  3 ½ out of 5

Lily:  I like you.

I love the idea of anthology horror films and wish there was more of them.  I love Creepshow, for example, and the most recent anthology horror flick that I really enjoyed, Trick r Treat, is another delightful entry as well.  I think it has to do with seeing lots of ideas packed into one feature successfully, because the short story format allow for playing around with cool ideas that don’t necessarily wear out their welcome.  V/H/S is a neat concept for a horror anthology, as it both presents multiple shorts from different directors and has a main story to tie them all together in a sense, while using the ‘found footage’ format as one of its big selling points.  There are some stories that are much better than others and the film, as a whole, has issues with giving us likable characters to follow, but there is an inventiveness to each that does well for the film as a whole.  Even if the film relies on presenting films as if they were shot in as low of a quality as possible, V/H/S has some high quality talent involved in its construction.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 71 - Lawless

This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe takes a look at the wettest county in the world, as Aaron, Abe, and special guests Alan Aguilera and Mark Johnson discuss the film Lawless.  Find out if we thought this Bootlegging Period-Drama had enough to keep us entertained.  Also check out the episode for all of the usual segments, including “Know Everybody”, “Trailer Talk” (Seven Psychopaths, Trouble with the Curve), “Movie Call Back”, Box Office Results, Games, and a brand new segment called “Out Now Quickies”.  Lots to discuss and lots to go over, with plenty of Tom Hardy murmurs to keep us entertained.

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

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Summer 2012’s Hits, Misses, And The Films In Between

Another summer at the movies has come to an end and I do enjoy providing some sort of wrap up to this busy time for the cinema.  I decided to do things a bit different this year though.  I have listed what I consider my top five films of the summer (alphabetically), along with the worst films of the summer, the biggest disappointments, the biggest surprises, and a few indies that deserve more attention.  I should note that while I did manage to see a large amount of films this summer, posting at least 2 reviews of new releases a week, there were a few that I missed (avoided) as well.  Also, I always encourage interaction in these posts.  What were everyone else’s favorites of the summer (possible putting Avengers and Dark Knight Rises aside)?  Or surprises and disappointments?  It is always fun to dig into these questions.

‘The Possession’ Has A Generic Title Fitting Of A Generic Movie

The Possession: 2 out of 5

Emily:  Daddy, you scared me.

The Possession is everything one would expect from a late August or early January horror film release.  This of course means it was filmed a while ago, sat around until things seemed clear enough, and was then dumped into theaters.  There is something to be said for the marketing effort made to promote this film, complete with creepy images of bugs and hands coming out of mouths, but the film does nothing out of the ordinary and simply functions as another bland exorcism movie.


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