Monthly Archives: January 2015

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Movie Trailer – Ted 2

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Seth MacFarlane

Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Mark Wahlberg, Amanda Seyfried

Release: June 26th, 2015

How could anyone in their right mind have signed off on a sequel to one of the stupidest comedies of the past 10 years?  I did not enjoy Ted, although I understand that some people did. It had a few funny moments, but overall I just don’t like Seth MacFarlane; he’s a ten-year-old trapped in a man’s body.  If it’s possible, this one looks worse than the original, with more “plot” and less sick jokes.  I’ll pass on this one, like I should have passed on the first.


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Movie Review – The Interview

Category : Movie Review

Director: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen

Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Randall Park

Year: 2014

What a bizarre way for a film to open.  I’m not talking about the first scene of the movie, but rather, and of course, about the way in which the film was delayed.  Most likely, if you’re reading this review, you heard about the Sony leak, the information hack, and the subsequent threats that surrounded this movie.  Theatres were told that they would be terrorized if they showed the film, that there would be “9/11-style attacks”, basically that people would pay.  All for a comedy about killing the leader of North Korea?  Guess it hit a nerve, or someone just wanted to cause trouble, but it worked, because the studio pulled all showings.  Later, they would release the film on the internet, on demand, and also on streaming services.  That’s a lot of fuss surrounding what was never going to be a phenomenal or ultra-political film, and probably got a bigger audience to watch it than it actually deserves.

Dave Skylark is America’s leading celebrity news host, breaking all the steamy stories, interviewing all of Hollywood’s hottest.  His producer, Aaron Rapaport, is the brain behind the operation, and together the duo are bringing in the big bucks.  But that’s never been quite enough, hasn’t earned them respect as journalists, and they’d like to do at least on big, important interview.  And that’s where Kim Jong Un comes in.  The reclusive leader of America’s #1 enemy is a big Dave Skylark fan, watches all the shows, and has granted him an exclusive interview.  Sounds great, but the US government is about to cut in on this dance.  The CIA wants Dave & Aaron to take Un out, assassinate him with deadly cunning, something that the friends have never possessed.  Now they’re off to North Korea to kill a world leader; good luck guys.

I tried not to let the hype affect me, cause I knew going in that this wasn’t going to be a perfect film.  It’s a Goldberg/Rogen movie after all, and was always going to be stupid.  Superbad, Pineapple Express, The Watch, The Green Hornet, This Is the End; idiocy all, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy some of them.  It’s just dumb stuff, full of body fluid jokes and marijuana, but usually just smart enough to make a funny story.  If you’ve seen these guys’ movies you know what to expect from this one, cause it’s not much different.  The setting changes the humor just enough to make it seem fresh, since they’re not just sitting around in their own basements smoking pot.  And James Franco actually takes on the lead role with a little bit of talent, which was surprising.  I thought Seth Rogen would take the lead, but this was Franco’s film, and he didn’t even screw the whole thing up.  The plot was wrong (of course), offensive, ridiculous, filthy, insane, but always tongue-in-cheek enough not to be repulsive.  At least not to me, and I assume not to the majority of people who sought this movie out, since we went into to it knowing and accepting that we’d hear way too much about Franco’s penis & Rogen’s anus.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 


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Movie Trailer – Child 44

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Starring: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman

Release: April 17th, 2015

I like everything about this trailer.  First, it’s just well-made, with a sound and flow that captured my attention.  Next, I like Tom Hardy (Inception, Tinker Tailor, Warrior, Locke, The Drop).  He’s a great new lead man and, paired with Noomi Rapace again, can do some great things.  I also like the common serial killer plot set in an unusual time & place, that adds a little more mystery to what can be a very tired story.  I’m in.


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Movie Review – Mortdecai

Category : Movie Review

Director: David Koepp

Starring: Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany

Year: 2015

I think we can all agree that The Love Guru is one of the worst movies of all time.  In that film, Mike Myers played with a style of comedy that simply didn’t work, unlike some of his other equally stupid attempts that somehow hit most of Americans in just the right way.  The Austin Powers series was a success because it seemed like everyone involved was having fun, similar to the why Will Ferrell or Seth Rogen movies work, because, yeah they’re kinda funny, but mostly it just seems like a good time had by a bunch of goofballs who would probably be cool to hang out with.  I never thought I’d see the day when Johnny Depp would attempt such a slap-happy ensemble film like those I just mentioned, nor did I expect it to fail so miserably, competing with The Love Guru for the most pathetic attempt at humor in the past ten years.

Charlie Mortdecai; get used to the name because you’re going to hear it about a thousand times per scene in this comedic crime caper.  Mortdecai is an underground art dealer, a rogue, a pampered aristocrat, a pompous Brit, a man of no backbone.  He’s very proud of his estate, his wife, his manservant, his car, and his mustache, but times are tough right now at Mortdecai manor.  He’s in debt, big debt, and is looking for a crafty deal that will get him above water.  When a famous painting is stolen, Charlie sees an opportunity, especially since the painting might also be the key to a lost Nazi fortune.  But a lot of people want to get their hands on that painting: MI5, the Russian mob, English art snobs, LA millionaires.  So Mortdecai, along with his trusty bodyguard Jock, and secretly shadowed by his crafty wife Johanna, will go on a dangerous mission to save his own hide, something he’s always had a true knack for.

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Rarely is a comedy as humorless as this one.  I believe I laughed a total of two times during the film, and those mere chuckles.  It was a script sucked dry of anything funny, stretched to the limits of good taste, and served very, very cold.  It was like a terrible SNL skit that went horribly wrong on live television, flopping beyond all imagining.  But that could at least be forgiven; sometimes you write a bad joke, it happens.  But Mortdecai was one bad joke followed by another and another, a never ending supply of crap that these actors and filmmakers spent months & months practicing, writing, planning, shooting, never understanding that what they were producing just wasn’t funny.  It was a juvenile and uninspired attempt at comedy, a mash of vomit jokes and erections that never even seemed adult, which would have at least been something.  If you saw Sex Tape you’ll know how awful a movie can be, but that it can also be salvaged a little by vulgarity; Mortdecai didn’t even have that going for it.

If Johnny Depp was trying to channel his inner Mike Myers and create a character that would become a comedic icon and spawn a movie franchise, he can kiss that dream goodbye.  Charlie Mortdecai is just plain stupid, not likeable or entertaining in the least bit.  Based on a novel that I can only imagine is the worst book ever, the film is 100 minutes of the most annoying voice spouting off the most dreadful jokes, only occasionally (and accidentally) causing an actual giggle from the audience.  And the cameos, oh the cameos.  Sometimes a good surprise can win you some laughs, but every time a new actor popped up I cringed, feeling bad for them that they were ever part of this project.  Olivia Munn was hot, as usual, but terrible in her tiny part.  Jeff Goldblum should have turned down the part as soon as he read the script.  And it was just painful seeing talented actors like Ewan McGregor & Paul Bettany put through some idiocy.  The only bright part, surprisingly, was Gwyneth Paltrow, who I don’t normally like.  She was partly likeable, classically beautiful, and had good chemistry in her scenes with Johnny Depp.  Overall, this is a movie to avoid like the plague, a film Johnny Depp should be embarrassed about for the rest of his career.

My rating: ☆

 

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Movie Trailer – Fantastic Four

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Josh Trank

Starring: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell

Release: August 7th, 2015

I actually liked Chronicle, Josh Trank’s only other film.  And although I’m not a comic book fan, I am a fan of both Miles Teller & Jamie Bell.  But I don’t know; this is the worst comic book squad Marvel makes.  X-Men, Avengers, Big Hero 6; they’re all cool and they all leave Fantastic Four in the dust.  However, no matter what you think of this trailer, there is one thing we can all agree on; this has got to be better than the load of crap that was the 2005 take.


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Sports – NFL Picks 2014, Super Bowl

Category : Sports

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Here is my 2014 NFL Super Bowl pick

(7-3 for the postseason, 170-85-1 for the regular season)

iconSeaNE @ Sea – And then there were two.  These are the #1 seeds from the AFC & NFC, not a big surprise that either of them made it all the way to the Super Bowl.  Both teams have looked strong, both have big game experience, and neither will back down from this fight.  But the edge here goes to the best defense, and that’s Seattle’s.  Brady is a future Hall of Famer, and so is Belichick for that matter, so I expect some holes to be exploited.   But overall, the Seahawks know what it takes to rattle a killer QB; look what they did last year in this same setting.  All Russell Wilson will have to do is play better than he did against Green Bay to give his team enough offense to win this game; he can’t possibly do any worse.  With a win here, the Seahawks could be on their way to claiming the title of 2010’s Dynasty Team.  The 60s: Packers.  The 70s: Steelers.  The 80s: 49ers.  The 90s: Cowboys.  The 2000s: Patriots.  The 2010s: we’ll just have to see.


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Movie Trailer – Knock Knock

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Eli Roth

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo, Ana de Armas

Release: October 28th, 2015

Eli Roth is a sicko, and I mean that in the nicest possible way.  He and his movies frighten me: Cabin Fever, Hostel, The Green Inferno.  This , although it’s just a teaser, looks a little more twisted and a little less gross.  We’ll see though; I don’t trust this guy not to give me nightmares.


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Movie Review – Foxcatcher

Category : Movie Review

Director: Bennett Miller

Starring: Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo

Year: 2014

On October 21st, 2013 I saw a trailer for Foxcatcher and instantly knew that it would be an Academy Award contender.  I waited all this time to see it, building it up in my mind all the while, but I’m happy to say it lived up to all my expectations.  It’s been nominated for Best Actor (Steve Carell), Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), and Best Director (Bennett Miller), though not for Best Picture.  Still, the Academy saw what I expected to see; a great film whose story was portrayed by amazing actors.  For years I’ve been saying to anyone who’ll listen that Mark Ruffalo might be the most under-rated actor of the last 20 years, but the dramatic talent of Steve Carell is a bit more of a surprise.  The two, along with a solid performance from Channing Tatum, deliver a film in Foxcatcher that is more than powerful, something other than intense, and goes far beyond creepy.

This is the true story of Olympic athlete brothers Mark & David Schultz.  After they both won gold in the 1984 Olympic Games for wrestling, they would return to their normal lives; David as an instructor and Mark as his pupil.  Mark was young, physically gifted, though not extremely bright, and had a great chance to repeat his medal-winning performance in 1988.  But he was tired of being in his big brother’s shadow, a brother who was half teacher and half father.  So when, out of nowhere, a man named John du Pont asked Mark if he could to be his sponsor and mentor, Mark was only too glad to make a change.  Du Pont was the heir to the fortune of the most powerful family in America, a lonely man who called himself Golden Eagle and wanted to be a wrestling coach.  He & Mark began what would be a complicated relationship, one that resulted in both championships & heartbreaks, and would end as unbelievably as it started.

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What an incredibly strange true story, one that’s almost too odd to be believable.  This really happened; the wealthy John du Pont contacting Mark Schultz, taking him under his wing, paying for everything, creating a wrestling facility right on the Foxcatcher property, becoming the “coach” he so desperately wanted to be.  And in the background is David, the concerned brother who would eventually join the team, even working for du Pont after Mark had moved on.  And the insanity of the events of this plot are hard to watch.  The secrets, the inappropriate relationships, the pushing of mind & body, and ultimately the finale of this story; it’s all hard to accept, difficult to watch, but a depiction of real life.  It takes the film to another level, that this is all true, though some of the details are being refuted by Mark, who isn’t painted in the most intelligent of lights.  It’s a movie you have to see to believe, if you don’t remember the headlines of this time.

But apart from the story aspect, the acting speaks for itself.  Steve Carell is phenomenal as John du Pont, hardly recognizable as himself.  Part of that is the costume; fake nose, teeth, eyebrows, odd clothes.  But most of it is his performance.  It’s haunting really, so quiet and so intense, so crazy in such an obvious way and in a manner that can be scary at times.  Carell was perfect and definitely deserves his Oscar nomination.  Mark Ruffalo is no less spectacular as David Schultz.  I was amazed watching him move, the way he held his arms like a wrestler would, the way he stood, spoke, moved, and thought, all in such a convincing manner.  He’s just so great, so able when it comes to any role.  He won’t win Best Supporting Actor, that award will go to J.K. Simmons from Whiplash, but that’s no knock on his performance.  And even Channing Tatum was strong is his lead role, not reaching the other actors’ level perhaps, but holding his own and acting as the hub the story would revolve around.  Foxcatcher is a movie of mood, of uncomfortable story, of silent moments that demand that you watch even when you want to turn your eyes away.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

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Movie Trailer – 5 to 7

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Victor Levin

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Berenice Marlohe, Glenn Close

Release: February 12th, 2015

I love Anton Yelchin and I’m happy to see him in the most adult role role of his career.  I think not only that he can pull it off but that he can shine as well.  And I agree that this looks like a classic love story, a throwback with a modern twist.  I’m excited.


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DVD Review – Love is the Devil

Category : DVD Review

Director: John Maybury

Starring: Derek Jacobi, Daniel Craig, Tilda Swinton

Year: 1998

I chose to watch this movie because I like Daniel Craig.  The first time I saw him was in Road to Perdition (2002).  Anyone with half an eye could immediately see that this guy had talent, this strangely handsome man with bright eyes and intense depth.  Since then, Americans have seen Craig in so many films: Layer Cake, The Jacket, Munich, Flashbacks of a Fool, Defiance, Cowboys & Aliens, and of course the James Bond series of films and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movies.  But before all that he was a presence on British television: in shows, miniseries, and made-for-TV movies.  In the late 90s he began real film work, including Obsession, Elizabeth, and Love is the Devil, subtitled “Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon.”  I was excited to see Craig in an early role, although he was already 30 at the time, and to see what it was that caught the attention of filmmakers and, ultimately, audiences.

The Movie

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Francis Bacon is one of Britain’s most famous painters, perhaps the most influential modern painter to ever come from the Kingdom, a man whose only competition for the title of greatest ever is J.M.W. Turner.  Bacon painted abstract figures, focusing on the human form but delivering it to audiences in an unconventional manner.  His entire life was unconventional, from his parties to his personality, his lovers to his friends.  Bacon was a homosexual, making no attempt to hide that fact in a time when it was not widely accepted.  Bacon lived from 1909 to 1992, dying at the age of 82 in Madrid, Spain.  Born in Ireland and celebrated the world over, Bacon left a lasting impression on the art world, becoming the leading painter of the human condition, the rawness of our lives, and the base emotions that dictate our world.

Although Bacon had many affairs, his most public was with a man named George Dyer.  The story of this film begins with Dyer breaking into Bacon’s home and the two immediately beginning a sexual relationship, one that would turn into much more over the following years.  Bacon would slowly turn Dyer into a more civilized man; taking him to parties, introducing him to the greatest minds of the time, buying him clothes, giving him money.  But Dyer had more problems than a little pampering could solve.  Drugs, alcohol, suicide attempts, nightmares; George Dyer was not a well man, but was a constant at Bacon’s side throughout the most prominent years of the artist’s life.  Over the course of the next seven years, the pair were together all over the world, including Paris, where they would be tragically and permanently separated.

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As far as Daniel Craig goes, it was educational to see him earlier than I ever had, to go back to the beginning of his career and to see how early his talent was on display.  Because of course it was, a talent like that can’t be hidden.  He is an emotionally tumultuous actor, bringing so many aspects to each character, holding so much just beneath the surface until you think it might just burst out.  Craig acts with his eyes very often, quietly telling us a great deal, reigning himself in with a control that’s very uncommon.  And this was a perfect character to exhibit that talent, as George was a wildly emotional man, or at least that’s how he was seen to be, in life and in this film.  Craig was able to bring him to life without taking him over the top; a feat that could not have been easy, especially in a film that was so sensationalistic and wide open.

This was a movie that screamed art, that took every scene to a place that could only exist in the imagination of the director.  Too call is sensationalistic is actually an understatement, as every element was crafted to make audiences feel it.  The grit, the alcohol, the paint, the bars, the sweat; you could hear, smell, and feel everything that was happening in the film to a degree that was almost uncomfortable.  And although you have to give the director and the actors credit for bringing such a raw story to life, it became off-putting to me to be pushed by every shot, to have to experience every emotion, to be so immersed in the terrible darkness that was so often the mood.  Basically, there was no levity, no release from the pressure, no balance to the film.  It was at all times dark, foreboding, steeped in pain, relentlessly sad, and without quarter.  A true story of genius and the price of such talent, but not one that was easy to watch.

The DVD

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Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 1080p HD Widescreen, the video quality of the Blu-ray disc ought to be better than it actually is.  I guess you have to take into the account the year the film was originally shot, 1998, and the quality of the process used at that time.  The transfer to a much higher quality medium did not enhance the picture enough to be impressive.  The film is still lacking in color, clarity, and brilliantly crisp visuals, though again, much of that is due to the original format.

Audio – The Blu-ray audio was done in Dolby Digital 2.0 DTS HD MA.  English SDH is available for the feature, as well as for the commentary, but there are no other language options.  The sound quality is quite good, brought over cleanly from the original version.  Sound plays an integral part in the film, as the story leans heavily on sensationalism and auditory cues.

Extras – There are only a few extras on the disc.  The film can be watched accompanied by a commentary track with director John Maybury and actor Derek Jacobi.  There are also five trailers to view: Love is the Devil, You and the Night, Stranger by the Lake, Post Tenebras Lux, and Mysterious Skin.

Final Thoughts

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Skip It.  I can’t recommend this movie to any but the most ardent fans of Francis Bacon or to those who strongly enjoy minimalist/sensationalist films.  It’s an interesting topic, the acting is strong, and it’s nice to peek into the early career of Daniel Craig.  But you still have to sit through the film, and for me that was most difficult part.  It’s a drudging, depressing, desperate attempt to convey this plot, perhaps showcasing how these famous lives were actually lived, but not making for a very entertaining experience.  I can’t see the majority of audiences enjoying themselves during this film; I know I didn’t, despite some obvious talent.  The video is only OK, the audio quality is high, and there a handful of extras on the disc.  Overall, one you can miss.

☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ – Replay