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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

‘Warm Bodies’, Slow Corpses, Fun Movie

Warm Bodies:   3 ½ out of 5
R:  I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.  I mean, we’re all dead.
It would seem highly unlikely that I would like a romantic comedy with a regular human girl and a hipster zombie as the romantic leads that are supposed to fall in love, but here we are.  Based on description alone, this seemed like a bad idea, but rather than dwell on being a sappy love story with a catchy gimmick in the midst of audiences loving all things zombie and paranormal teen romance novel-related, Warm Bodies is actually an enjoyable, clever, and oddly sweet film.  It works best when it deals with the ins and outs of a zombie-infested world from the point-of-view of its zombie narrator, but even if the romantic drama and stakes do not fully work, this film was still able to make for a fun alternative to standard zombie fare, let alone generic rom-coms.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 89 – Zero Dark Thirty

This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is packed with topics!  The main review has Aaron, Abe, and guests Adam Gentry, Jose Cordova, and Mark Johnson talking Zero Dark Thirty, but the group also spends time discussing the Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals, which Adam was able to attend, along with their thoughts on the Oscar nominations, given that Mark writes about these various award ceremonies.  And there is still time for all of the regular segments as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Trailer Talk” (Olympus Has Fallen), “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, Box Office Results, and of course Games.  Lots of content, many opinions, and we get an exclusive Mark Johnson reveal at the end!

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

‘Bullet To The Head’ Is Another Silly 80s Throwback

Bullet to the Head: 2 out of 5
Kwon:  You can’t just kill a guy like that!
Jimmy Bobo:  I just did.
The early 2013 action trifecta continues with Sly Stallone’s latest offering, Bullet to the Head.  Arnold delivered some fun with The Last Stand and Bruce Willis is set to deliver some more “Yippee Ki Yays” in a couple weeks, so for now, here is a Stallone vehicle that was pushed back almost a year and looked terrible to begin with.  What could go wrong?  Well, a lot of things, but that does not mean that Bullet to the Head is not enjoyable.  Make no mistake, this is not a very good film, but there is a lot of guilty pleasure joy to get out of this film, were one to see it with the right group of friends.  Despite the incredibly bland story, mismatched buddy film angle, and disappointing action, the movie…well I guess there isn’t a whole lot to recommend, but it definitely has the feel of a macho 80s film; just not a very good one.

Monday, January 28, 2013

‘Stand Up Guys’ Cracks Wise

Stand Up Guys: 2 out of 5
Doc:  What do you want to do…until then?
The idea of putting Al Pacino and Christopher Walken in a movie together, as guys who have been friends for decades (with added support from Alan Arkin) seems like an easy recipe for fun.  Add the fact that they are all playing criminals at the end of their run, roles that these guys could play in their sleep, and there is almost a guarantee that the film will appeal to those who love these actors.  Unfortunately, Stand Up Guys really wastes a lot of potential by not having these actors do anything more than play up all the standard jokes you see in films about old friends getting back together and acknowledging that they are older.  Sure, these guys know how to play a moment and hold solemn expressions on their faces when the time calls for it, but we also get a twenty-minute subplot about Viagra.  Add on a truly awful ending and Stand Up Guys is a pretty big disappointment, given what could have come from it.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Brief Thoughts: ‘Amour’ Is Sad But Honest

Amour:  4 out of 5

Georges: Things will go on, and then one day it will all be over.
Admittedly, I have had some trouble really wanting to find the time to write a whole bunch about Michael Haneke’s latest emotionally draining film Amour.  I have joked in many instances about it being “one of the best comedies of the year” or “a laugh riot,” but more because I do genuinely think it is a fine piece of dramatic filmmaking, as opposed to it being The foreign film that you Have to see This year (also, I’m immature).  The film can be bluntly described as being about getting old and dying, but there is more to it, which reflects how a lengthy relationship is tested and reflected on in the wake of the inevitable.  Georges (Jean-Louis Trintigant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are in their 80s.  They are retired music teachers.  One day, Anne has a stroke, which changes the dynamic of their relationship, given that things are about to change in a very significant way.

I was happy to correctly predict that Haneke would receive an Oscar nomination for his direction of this film.  What Amour is able to accomplish from non-flashy, very deliberately cold direction is a film that does not pull any punches and manages to put the viewer right in the reality that these characters are experiencing.  More surprising was seeing Riva be nominated for Best Actress, but I certainly find it to be deserved (It’s important to note that Trintignant is fantastic as well).  Both actors are doing tremendous work at making this film accomplish what it needs to, without ever having the film feel sappy.  It is sad and emotional for sure (various events are the reason why I delayed writing this for so long), but never in a position of betraying the tone that this film is going for in favor of a more traditionally commercial way to handle this subject matter.

Amour is certainly not a film that I definitely need to revisit again, very soon, but that should not take away from how much of an effective piece of filmmaking it is, which deserves the recognition it has received.  It is an honest, well-acted, and tough film to watch.  It is also a difficult, but more accessible film from Haneke, who loves to challenge his audience.

Anne: What would you say if no one came to your funeral?
Georges: Nothing, presumably.

Brief Thoughts: ‘Movie 43’ Is Thankfully Not 43 Sketches Long

Movie 43: 1 ½ out of 5 
Donald:  See that blind kid over there?  I dare you to blow out his candles, before he has a chance to.
Aside from some chuckles here and there, Movie 43 is pretty much an unmitigated disaster for everyone involved, starting with Dennis Quaid (who looks like a meth user, loitering outside of a 7-11) all the way to poor Chloe Moretz, who is straddled with making the funny out of smearing menstrual blood all over a kitchen wall.  The film has no real premise; it is just a series of short skits, featuring many big name actors, directed by various “comedy” directors, very thinly connected by one overarching sketch.  The skits are all designed to be vulgar, racy, and scatological in terms of their content and they rarely feel anything above lazy and tired.  I know comedy is subjective, so if you laugh, good on you, but I love to laugh and this movie…well I’m just glad that there were not in fact 43 sketches.

I will give Movie 43 one praise, Liev Schreiber tends to win me over in anything, so the fact that he brought his wife along (Naomi Watts) for one skit about parents who are homeschooling their child as well as humiliating him to better help him to have a true high school experience was admirable, given that it landed most of its jokes for me.  The rest is pretty much a mess, with various chuckles sure, but only in sporadic moments, as some of these sketches are maybe good in concept (superhero speed-dating), but mostly terrible in execution.  Imagine you are watching Saturday Night Live, except every sketch has one or two hosts in it, and the sketches fall apart almost instantly, that is pretty much what Movie 43 amounts to. 

And just for the sake of it, Movie 43 features films directed by Peter Farrelly, Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Car, Rusty Cundieff, Griffin Dunne, James Gunn, and Brett Ratner.  It stars Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Common, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Richard Gere, Anna Faris, Chris Pratt, Liev Schreiber, Namoi Watts, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Duhamel, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Halle Berry, Justin Long, Kristen Bell, Seann William Scott, and Johnny Knoxville, among others.  It is a huge cast, the largest ensemble ever, despite not having all of them being involved in the same basic story, but it almost feels like most of them did this as a dare, which is fitting, given the concepts of some of these shorts.  The movie is just awful for the most part, making the bits that do work just seem worse by the time it is all over.

Arlene:  Just when I thought it couldn’t get any more offensive.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 88 – The Last Stand

This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is a fairly regular episode enhanced by the fact that the gang is discussing the first true Arnold movie in 10 years – The Last Stand.   Aaron and Abe are joined by Maxwell Haddad and one of their Kickstarter guests (explained more in the show), Martine Jean, to talk about The Last Stand and plenty of other Arnold-related things.  There is also plenty of time spent on the other segments as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Trailer Talk” (Snitch and Red 2), “Movie Call Back”, “Out Now Quickies”, Box Office Results, and of course Games.  So get your ass to Mars…or iTunes and download this episode.

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

Monday, January 21, 2013

5 Things I Want From The Rest Of This Season Of The Walking Dead

[Note:  This is an essay that potentially spoils everything that has so far happened on Season 3 of AMC’s The Walking Dead.]

With just a few weeks left until The Walking Dead returns to TV screens with all new episodes, I decided to write a little something to help express my thoughts on the show thus far and what I hope can come from the rest of this season.  Yes, there are concerns regarding the series’ budget, the number of remaining episodes, and possible behind-the-scenes drama, but while this may be more of a ‘wish list’ overall, I still think I have a reasonable number of ideas concerning how the show can be even better, considering that this current season has done so much to improve upon itself, as a whole, already.  So now, here are five items that I believe can contribute to the show being better overall.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Out Now Accolades 2012 Awards Extravaganza Show!

This week’s epic bonus episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is another big one in terms of wrapping up the group’s thoughts on the films of 2012.  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, the face of many Out Now JibJab videos is a special guest on the episode!  So listen up and have so fun with this one.

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

Friday, January 18, 2013

‘Broken City’ Has A Lot That Needs Fixing

Broken City:  2 ½ out of 5

Mayor Hostetler: There are some wars you fight and some wars you walk away from, this is the fighting kind.

When a new movie that stars Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, and Catherine Zeta Jones comes out in January, some tend to wonder why.  After having seen Broken City, the answer is clearer; it’s not a very good movie and doesn’t have much going on that would scream spring or fall release.  This film has a very tired plot that does itself no favors by removing much of the dramatic tension based on the setup.  It is an attempt at a neo-noir, but it is too large in scale to really nail that aspect and Wahlberg is no Humphrey Bogart.  Despite all of this though, the film is pretty watchable thanks to its cast, which also includes a number of solid character actors.  The film does not rise above any conventions, but it is also not a complete waste.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Stick Around And Watch Arnold’s ‘Last Stand’

The Last Stand:  3 ½ out of 5
Irv:  How you feelin’ Sherriff?
Sherriff Owns:  Old.
In 1993, Hong Kong film director John Woo made his American feature film debut with Hard Target, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.  That film is not very good as a whole, but the action is solid and one can see Woo’s signature style lurking beneath what is essentially a studio-produced action film, with a bit more talent behind the lens.  The Last Stand is the American feature film debut of South Korean director Kim Jee-woon and it is better than Hard Target.  It also has its share of problems, given the type of film it is, but Jee-woon’s style is apparent and hopefully future American efforts from him are even more successful.  The Last Stand also marks the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a leading role for the first time in ten years, proving that while he may be getting older, the one-liners haven’t much changed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 87 – Gangster Squad

This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is back to the regular format for a change.  Aaron and Abe are joined by Leah Ducey to discuss the film Gangster Squad, featuring stylish direction and an all-star cast.  The guys and gal talk at length about the film, as well as spend some time on the winners of the Golden Globes, which had just ended, before the recording took place.  There is also plenty of time spent on the other segments as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Trailer Talk” (Dead Man Down and A Good Day to Die Hard), “Movie Call Back”, “Out Now Quickies”, Box Office Results, and of course Games, yeah!  It’s nice to have a regular show to put out again, so enjoy.

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

Monday, January 14, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Top Tens of 2012

This week’s epic bonus episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is the big one; it’s the Top Ten Films of 2012 episode, with Aaron and Abe going through their list, along with the several guests who have prepared theirs as well.  Joining the duo in counting down their favorite films are Mark Hobin, Jordan Grout, Maxwell Haddad, and eventually, much like last year, Alan Aguilera.  Everyone gets a chance to speak their peace about what they feel were the best films of 2012.  There is plenty of discussion about these films, as well as some other films that deserved honorable mention, as well as some that fell into other categories.  It’s a packed show yet again.

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

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Crazy, Stupid, ‘Gangster Squad’

Gangster Squad: 2 out of 5

Mickey Cohen:  A cop that’s not for sale is like a dog that’s got rabies.

Gangster Squad is the R-rated, spiritual successor to Dick Tracy that nobody wanted.  The film is a stylish exercise in action sequences, featuring a bunch of good actors that have decided not to do much acting, aside from Sean Penn, who attempts to devour every scene he is in and hopes to stop short of chewing on his own makeup.  The film is exactly what I expected, stylish, “fun,” and terrible, all within the same breath.  The good thing is that everyone is at least dressed quite nicely, but in the realm of gangster pictures, this one can simply sleep with the fishes, rather than sit on top of the world.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Holy Motors

So here is another special bonus episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe, which is incredibly straightforward, given the nature of the main film being discussed.  Aaron is joined by guests Mark Hobin, Adam Gentry, and Maxwell Haddad to discuss the absurdest French fantasy/drama Holy Motors.  This is what the entire episode consists of.  It is a pure review show, with no other segments and it does go in depth about the film, meaning that people who have not seen Holy Motors will have the potential to be spoiled on the film, were they to listen to this conversation.  That said, if you have heard of the film and are at least intrigued by it, feel free to give this episode a whirl I guess.  It is certainly a weird film, so perhaps just hearing about its weirdness will be enough to provoke your curiosity into going to see it.  Regardless, the guys do their best to provide their prospective.

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

Sunday, January 6, 2013

‘The Impossible’ Surpasses Its Odds

The Impossible:  4 out of 5

Lucas:  I’m scared.
Maria:  I’m scared too.
The year 2012 presented a number of harrowing situations on film, such as the plane crashes that took place in The Grey and Flight, along with the wrath of both Titans and Russell Crowe’s voice in ‘Les Mis.The Impossible presents what is literally a story of impossible survival, as a family deals with a horrific event.  Based on a true story, this is a film about the struggle to survive during the catastrophic 2004 tsunami that ravaged the coast of Thailand.  It features three very strong performances and top-notch direction, as it attempts to place a visual eye on the horrors suffered by people caught in a deadly fight against nature.  Few issues regarding what is being ultimately presented aside, The Impossible is an intense film that certainly displays effective filmmaking techniques and powerful drama.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Les Miserables

This second special holiday bonus episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe features Aaron and Abe discussing the film adaptation of the stage musical Les Miserables with regular guest Alan Aguilera and special guest and musical lover Ken Noffsinger, who proves that all you really need to do to get on this podcast is simply ask.  Regardless, the group talks about the highs and lows of this ambitious musical and still manages to find time for some “Trailer Talk” (The Lone Ranger) as well as an epic game regarding Les Miserables.  It is a more streamlined episode, but still packed with fun.  (And be sure to stick around until the end for a special musical bonus.)

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

Friday, January 4, 2013

‘Texas Chainsaw 3D’ Tears Through The Floors And Hits Rock Bottom

Texas Chainsaw 3D:  1 out of 5

Nikki:  Do you know anything about this place?
Heather:  Just the address.

Starting this year out on the right foot, the latest entry in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise manages to put Hollywood in a position to go nowhere but up.  I do enjoy my share of horror films and was happy to enter into this film with an open mind, but man is it terrible.  Given my love for the original film and my general fondness for the second, the idea of a film billed as a direct continuation of the original entry written and directed by Tobe Hooper was slightly intriguing.  Even in a post-Cabin in the Woods world, where horror movies can be boiled down to words on a dry erase board, I went for it.  The results were not good.  Texas Chainsaw 3D is not just a bad film, it is an idiotic one that literally cannot do basic math.  Read on to find out why.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Aaron’s Top 10 Films of 2012

Now it is time to delve into the list of what I consider to be my favorite films of 2012.  I have to say that this was not the easiest list to put together.  Theatrically, I saw 120+ films in 2012, so there were a lot of films to give praise to and consider how to reference in terms of their placement on this list.  Some of these films certainly affected me more than others, but there were plenty that came out during the year, which were easily strong enough to potentially wind up on my year end list.  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.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Aaron's Odds & Ends of 2012: 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 in line, as far as these "Top Ten of 2012" posts go.  I am quite satisfied with my final 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, foreign, 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.  So without further ado, here's is a big mix of films from 2012 that, while not a part of my final Top Ten, I also really found to be worthwhile.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Django Unchained

This special holiday bonus episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe will maybe go down as one of the more heated discussions.  Aaron and Abe are joined by Jordan Grout and Christian Spicer to discuss the latest from Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained.  As it is a bonus episode, some segments are skipped this week, but we do leave room for trailers (Man of Steel) and games.  Still, it is the Django discussion (which does eventually make its way to spoiler territory) where the meat of this episode lies and all parties involved have things to say about it.

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

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Aaron’s Top 10 Worst Films of 2012

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 all 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.  It is fortunate that I had a much harder time (in a good way) putting together the “best of” list, but for now, here is a list of films I would put at the bottom of an otherwise very good year.


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