Monthly Archives: February 2015

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Movie Trailer – Growing Up and Other Lies

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Darren Grodsky, Danny Jacobs

Starring: Josh Lawson, Adam Brody, Wyatt Cenac

Release: April 26th, 2015

This one looks way too affected to be actually heartfelt.  I don’t believe anything I saw in the trailers, and I definitely don’t trust Adam Brody.  I mean, the guy got famous on The O.C.  Those may be initials, but that doesn’t mean that’s a launchpad for talent.  No thank you.


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Movie Review – Tarzan

Category : Movie Review

Director: Chris Buck, Kevin Lima

Starring: Tony Goldwyn, Minnie Driver, Rosie O’Donnell

Year: 1999

A lot of things came together at the right time that all seemed to speak directly to me to make Tarzan one of my favorite Disney films.  First, I used to watch the old Johnny Weissmuller movies of the 30s & 40s when I was a kid.  We’d borrow them on VHS from the library and watch him save Jane from crocodiles and pythons over and over again.  Second, my dad is a big Phil Collins fan, not a follower of Genesis really, but more his adult contemporary solo career.  So I grew up watching Tarzan movies, listening to Another Day in Paradise, and then I fell in love with Minnie Driver.  So you can see, as I was already a huge fan of Disney animated musicals, why this one would be right up my alley.

It’s a classic tale given a new voice & energy in Disney’s 1999 version that took the world by storm.  We begin with a family shipwrecked on the African coast, building a new life for themselves, and ultimately losing their struggle against the nature of a land they didn’t belong to.  However, the baby of the family survived, found by a lonely ape named Kala who had lost her own child, raised by a new family that adopted him despite his differences.  Now Tarzan, as his new mother calls him, is a full-grown man, a member of the ape group, and an intelligent jungle creature.  One day, after protecting his friend Terk and perhaps finally earning the respect of the alpha male, Kerchak, Tarzan discovers a band of humans walking through the trees.  He’s confused as to why these animals look so much like him, and he begins to discover their world with the help of the beautiful Jane and her father Professor Porter.  But the hunter, Clayton, has other interests beside knowledge, and will begin to enact a plan that will change all their lives forever.

Let’s say that all those elements that drew me to the film in the first place had failed.  Let’s say that all the great pieces were there, but that they didn’t come together in the way that I hoped they would.  I would have been crushed I guess, but thankfully that couldn’t be further from reality.  Every little part of the film worked, from the excellent animation to the classic characters.  The story was there already; you can’t give Disney too much credit for that.  But they brought it to life in a unique & wonderful way.  The voices were spot on, with Minnie Driver as Jane, Rosie O’Donnell as Terk, Lance Henrikson as Kerchak.  And the music, wow, I have & could listen to that soundtrack all day.  Phil Collins was the perfect choice and brought a fresh non-ballad, non-musical feel to the film that fit the plot.  Can you imagine Jane singing a pop love song and becoming just another Disney princess?  That would have been a fatal flaw, but was avoided beautifully.  Tarzan is one of the best “modern” Disney films, capping off a run of huge successes from the 90s and standing alone as an original hit.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 


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Movie Trailer – Backcountry

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Adam MacDonald

Starring: Missy Peregrym, Jeff Roop, Eric Balfour

Release: March 20th, 2015

This movie reminds me of The Edge, a great under-rated wilderness film that really does make you afraid to go out into the woods.  Whether Backcountry will be a match for that film remains to be seen, but I highly doubt that it becomes the Jaws of the forest.  Still, I think it could be terrifyingly good, with a scary story, a nice setting, and the elements inherent in so many successful horror/thrillers.


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Movie Review – A Little Night Music

Category : Movie Review

Director: Harold Prince

Starring: Elizabeth Taylor, Len Cariou, Lesley-Anne Down

Year: 1977

There’s an inherent truth about the world that must be accepted if one is to enjoy this film; that Stephen Sondheim is a genius.  Understand that, and you’ll be on your way to appreciating some of the finest musicals of the last 100 years.  Forum, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods; his plays are masterworks with a score that will blow your mind if you let it.  The music is always so complicated that it can be off-putting to someone who isn’t used to it, and the subject matter of his shows is odd to say the least.  But it’s genius, it truly is, and I challenge those of you who are not big fans of musicals to sit down, watch some Sondheim, and try to feel what so many of us feel.  A stage version may be the most appropriate place to try that out, but you could do worse than the movie versions that have come from his work: the new Into the Woods, the Johnny Depp Sweeney Todd, and the 70s A Little Night Music.

Frederick Egerman is a successful Austrian lawyer who is starting life anew.  His wife died some years previous, and he has recently married a beautiful young girl named Anne, a virgin on their wedding day and a virgin still, much to Egerman’s chagrin.  He’s too old for these games, too old for such a vibrant wife, and too besotted to do anything about it.  But his old life is about to catch up with him in the form of a lost love.  Desiree Armfeldt, the famous actress, is in town, and she remembers Egerman fondly.  The two rekindle their affair, but it’s not as easy as when they were younger.  For one, Frederick is married, for the other, Desiree has a jealous lover, Count Carl-Magnus Mittleheim, married himself.  These complicated relationships are made even more so by a trip into the country to the Armfeldt estate, a place where everything is sure to go wrong.

This was one of Elizabeth Taylor’s final major films, before she began acting more in television series, made-for-TV movies, and eventually nothing at all.  She died in 2011 at the age of 79, and remains to this day a memorable figure of the end of Hollywood’s Golden Age.  In this film, she plays a washed up star who’s too old to do much other than give love one last, desperate chance.  Not bad casting, and even a weak voice doesn’t hinder how well she plays the characters of Desiree.  Len Cariou is just as odd but perfect for his role, the somewhat sad Frederick Egerman.  The side characters are terrifically comical; Erich the frustrated youth, Anne the innocent beauty, Count Mittleheim the boorish soldier, Charlotte his cunning wife.  This is a wonderfully enjoyable story that Sondheim crafted with great talent, capping it off with music that will both challenge your ear and stick in your head.

My rating:  ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 


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Movie Trailer – Crimson Peak

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain

Release: October 16th, 2015

For all his fame, the only good movie del Toro has ever made was Pan’s Labyrinth.  Now, that movie was excellent, and there’s no denying his unique vision as a director, but let’s not call this guy the second coming of Stephen Spielberg.  That said, this movie appeals to me as a horror movie that’s less stupid then those shockers that I can’t even watch the previews for and more artistically crafted than any other haunted house film has ever been before.  An October viewing seems perfect, and so does the cast for that matter.  I’m in.


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Movie Review – Young Ones

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jake Paltrow

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Shannon

Year: 2014

An aptly named film if ever there was one, Young Ones is a title that refers to its actors as much as its content.  It’s a story about growing up, but putting that aside, here’s a cast who are coming into their own as well.  You may remember Nicholas Hoult from About a Boy where he played, well, the boy.  Many years later he would co-star in X-Men: First Class and Warm Bodies, but this is his first “adult” role.  Kodi Smit-McPhee is a child star as well, with his big break coming alongside Viggo Mortensen in The Road at the age of thirteen.  And last but not least, Elle Fanning, Dakota’s little sister, who grew up playing the younger version of her sister in many films, not starring on her own until 2010.  Now she too plays an older character for the first time, making Young Ones a vehicle as well as stand-alone science fiction, a film that we’ll look back on if these actors become stars and say “here’s where it happened”.

In the near future, an apocalyptic drought will hit the United States, forcing many desperate changes.  Cities and states become centralized, bordering against a less stable outside.  The governments of these independent units will work only loosely with national leadership.  And those stubborn few who cling to their land will fight for water, the only thing keeping them alive.  Ernest Holm is one of these men, a farmer who refuses to leave his homestead, living with the certain knowledge that rain must someday come again.  Until then, he & his two children, Jerome & Mary, will live however is necessary while their mother stays at an in-town home with a debilitating injury.  Ernest transports supplies on his donkey to make a living, until the day the animal dies and he’s forced to buy a machine to do the work.  This machine will become the catalyst that changes their futures, along with Mary’s lover, a young man named Flem Lever, and one decision that will haunt them all.

If you like mild science fiction, this is the film for you.  It’s only slightly post-apocalyptic, only marginally sci-fi, and never paints the entire picture of a world without water.  It’s like Automata but so much better, with a story that’s enough to hook your interest, but relying more on character development than robotics.  The film was directed by Jake Paltrow, Gwyneth’s brother, and while he’s just an amateur, there are some signs of real talent.  Speaking of, Smit-McPhee steals the show.  He’s actually older than he looks, eighteen at the time of this film, and seems polished beyond his years.  He becomes the central figure of the plot at some point, picking up where the very talented Michael Shannon leaves off.  I’ve been a little obsessed with Shannon since seeing him in Take Shelter, and he delivers another strong performance here.  I actually didn’t love either Hoult or Fanning, as Hoult always sounded like her was hiding an accent and Fanning might not be quite ready for this big of a stage.  However, Shannon & Smit-McPhee, playing father & son, were good enough to carry the story, the background the solid enough to get me interested, and the overall mood of the film was one that struck me as just enough of a Western throwback to be classic and, at the same time, original enough to be exciting.  A sci-fi flick with a deliberate pace, Young Ones is not a movie for everyone, but can be appreciated by those who enjoy a dark coming-of-age story set in a complicated time.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 


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Movie Trailer – Hot Pursuit

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Anne Fletcher

Starring: Sofia Vergara, Reese Witherspoon

Release: May 8th, 2015

This is like Bird on a Wire, but only if that movie were directed by the biggest idiot in Hollywood.  Anne Fletcher is the esteemed director of Step Up, 27 Dresses, The Proposal, The Guilt Trip, and Enchanted 2.  Not good, and I’m sure this movie won’t be either.  This is comedy that wasn’t funny 30 years ago and won’t be funny 30 years from now, buddy buddy schtick stuff that makes you feel dumber just for having watched it.


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DVD Review – Dying of the Light

Category : DVD Review

Director: Paul Schrader

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Anton Yelchin, Alexander Karim

Year: 2014

Anton Yelchin is one of my favorite young actors, Nicolas Cage one of my least favorite old ones.  So who would win out in a movie they star in together?  Both, actually, have impressed me lately in very gritty & dramatic roles.  Yelchin was excellent in Rudderless, a film about loss and the grieving process, but with music as a tool.  Cage was surprisingly strong in Joe, an odd film about a quiet country man and the boy that changed his life.  Yelchin would have to really stink the place up to get a bad review from me, and, conversely, Cage would have to do an amazing job to get so much as a thumbs up.  So, paired up, how would they do?  Well, let’s just say that good doesn’t always triumph evil, especially in a CIA thriller about a washed up agent with a messed up ear who just wants to kill one more bad guy before he loses his mind.  Doesn’t sound like a set-up for success, and you might not be surprised to hear that it wasn’t.

The Movie

DYING OF THE LIGHT

Over twenty years ago, CIA agent Evan Lake was captured and tortured by the evil Muhammad Banir.  He may have escaped with his life and a little less of an ear, but that event has always haunted him.  Banir was reported dead after Lake’s extraction, but Lake has never believed this to be true.  Years later, he is still hunting the man he believes got away with murder, though now from behind a desk.  And with his career winding down, Lake would love to get back into the field once more.  But that’s not going to happen, not with the outbursts he’s been having at work, not with the secret doctor’s appointments he’s been arranging miles away, and not with the illness that will soon derail his legacy as one of the Agency’s best operatives.  It’s a sad way for a hero to go out, with unfinished business and so much left to give to his country.

However, it’s not over ’till it’s over.  A young agent named Milton Schultz may have just stumbled across something, a vital piece of information that could prove not only that Banir is alive, but also give away his location.  Milton owes Evan a multitude of favors and views his as a mentor, but doesn’t know about his medical problems, creating a working relationship based less on trust and more on a father/son bond.  Before it’s too late, Lake vows to crack the case, find Banir, and bring him to justice, whatever it takes.  And so the pair fly to Romania, assume new identities, meet with Lake’s old compatriots, and begin a mission that can only end one way; in death.  Whether that will be Lake’s or Banir’s death is still to be seen, but the old enemies will face once more, and this time there will be no escape, no questions, and no mercy.

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It’s not that Nicolas Cage is bad, it’s that he’s so bad I want to go back in time, travel to the set of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and tell him to make a career change.  I just can’t stand the guy, and I know that’s a Me Problem, but I also assume I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Obviously he’s got a ton of fans around the globe who buy tickets to his movies and keep studios assuming that a Cage film will be a guaranteed money-maker.  But the man is not a good actor, he’s just not, and I’m tired of seeing him.  Like Kevin Costner, sometimes he stumbles into a role that suits his perfectly and does a decent job.  Raising Arizona, Adaptation, Joe; these are solid movies in which he does a solid job.  But judging from the vast majority of his films, I’ve got to call these gems accidents, not strokes of talent in a career that’s proved a lack thereof.

And Anton Yelchin, poor guy, he was brought down to Cage’s level in the worst way.  Cage was over-dramatic, unlikeable, looked weird, acted weirder, and was as far from a hero as a protagonist could be.  Yelchin suffered as a sidekick to this obscenity, coming off as pathetic instead of sensitive, silly instead of intense.  He’s a great up-and-coming star, but he needs to learn lessons elsewhere, not in Cage’s shadow, not in a movie that was never on the path to success.  It was your typical, boring, overloaded CIA thriller that movies like Burn After Reading lampoon so well.  In fact, it was worse, because it had zero original content, trying & failing to become a poor man’s Spy Game, using that film as a example of what to do and then not successfully doing any of it.  With limited action, and that really gross and out of context when it occurred, Dying of the Light is a movie that misses the genre and therefor should be missed.

The Blu-ray

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Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (16×9 Widescreen) 1080p HD, the Blu-ray video was as good as you’re going to see.  If fact, it was almost too good; who wants to see Nicolas Cage’s face in that high of definition?  With some action and a breadth of set locales, the picture quality was put on display and used to its full potential.  Scenes were extremely clear, well-balanced, and visually appealing; something that can’t be said about the rest of the film.

Audio – The disc was done in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  There is an option to run a DTS-HD MA Sound Check, which plays a test tone on all five speakers, making sure sound is balanced before the film begins.  There are also three subtitle choices: English, Spanish, and English SDH.  The audio quality was quite good, with a nice balance of background sound and spoken dialogue.

Extras – There are many extras on the disc.  Behind the Scenes is a 14-minute look at the making of the film and the actors who developed the characters.  Deleted Scenes is a 23-minute reel of bonus footage containing fourteen scenes in all.  Interviews with Cast and Crew has inside takes from writer/director Paul Schrader, Nicolas Cage, Anton Yelchin, Alexander Karim, Claudius Peters, and Adetomiwa Edun.  Bookmarks allow the owner of the Blu-ray to delete, add, and toggle bookmarks on the disc.  And lastly, there are five trailers; Dying of the Light, The Frozen Ground, Reclaim, The Prince, The Homesman.

Final Thoughts

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Skip It.  Perhaps you’re a Cage fan, and perhaps you like when he wears funny hats, fake goatees, and attempts a Romanian accent.  I’m going to dedicate this review to those who don’t fall into that category, those who like their movies good and their actors talented.  Cage brings his F-game here, failing miserably to be a believable …anything …and bringing an inherently bad movie crashing down around him in the process.  Yelchin couldn’t save this film; he’s not quite there yet, and had too big of a buffoon to battle for the spotlight anyway.  Stay away, or by all means watch and giggle, because that’s about all this film is worth.  The video is great, however, and the audio strong as well, with a disc full of extras if you’re thirsty for more.  I’m not, that’s for sure, and I doubt you’ll be either.

☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ – Replay

 


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Movie Trailer – Big Game

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Jalmari Helander

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Omni Tommila, Jim Broadbent

Release: March 25th, 2015

I recently watched Kingsman, a movie I thought would be too ridiculous to enjoy.  I was wrong, but I’m gonna try again with one.  It think it’ll go too far and become to insane to be entertaining, a mess of explosions that won’t make sure we’re all on board first.  It looks like a mix between Air Force One and The Hunger Games; not a combination I think I’d enjoy.


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Sports – Cleveland Browns Logo

Category : Sports

Just when you thought that the Cleveland Browns could not possibly look any dumber, they went and outdid themselves.  It’s not that their new updated logo is so terrible, IT’S THAT IT’S EXACTLY THE SAME!  Yes, the terrible orange helmet is a little more nauseatingly orange, and yes, the alternate bulldog logo apparently became a puppy, but other than those minor details, everything is the same.  When your organization is as mocked, ridiculed, and kicked around as the Cleveland Browns, why set yourself up for failure by promising a logo change and then delivering anything but?  And the wording of the press release from the team; let’s just say they reached a whole new level of stupid.  So here’s to another embarrassing season with slightly darker orange helmet logos.  Although, I almost forgot, they’re delivering a uniform change too, on April 14th.  I’ll be over here on the edge of my seat; let me know when it’s ready.

 

Cleveland Browns Logo Evolution:

Respect the past. Represent the future.

Our updated helmet logo is reflective of today’s modern Cleveland – the design honors the past while evolving into the future. The iconic brown and white stripes stand tall over the orange helmet – a new orange color that matches the passion of the Dawg Pound. The new brown facemask represents the strength and toughness of Cleveland.

The Dawg Pound

2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the Dawg Pound – bestowing a unique opportunity to modernize the symbolism of the Dawg Pound through an evolved logo. The Dawg Pound represents one of the most iconic fan bases in all of sports. The Dawg Pound is a unifying identity of all Cleveland Browns faithful. It’s tough and exemplifies the “Play Like A Brown” attitude. With one passionate voice – the DAWG POUND BARKS TOGETHER.

COLORS

The orange is brighter and richer and matches the passion of our fans and city.

The brown is unchanged.

WORDMARK

The contemporary redesigned wordmark is simplistic and utilizes a stronger, bolder font.

UNIFORM UNVEIL

The new Cleveland Browns uniforms will be unveiled on Tuesday, April 14, 2015.

LOGO COMPARISON