Monthly Archives: May 2015

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Movie Trailer – Unexpected

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Kris Swanberg

Starring: Cobie Smulders, Gail Bean, Anders Holm

Release: July 24, 2015

Kris Swanberg is the wife of Joe Swanberg, both are filmmakers, and they have a child together.  Kris is an actress foremost, a writer second, and then a director.  Joe created two excellent improv films, Drinking Buddies & Happy Christmas, while Kris is trying to make this her first major success.  I see the heart here, perhaps the truth, and maybe even a touch of talent.  But doesn’t it look like a Hallmark movie to anyone else?  Haven’t we seen these emotion brought to the screen numerous times?  Isn’t there something original that can be added here?

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Movie Review – Tomorrowland

Category : Movie Review

Director: Brad Bird

Starring: Britt Robertson, George Clooney, Raffey Cassidy

Year: 2015

Tomorrowland is a film that relies heavily on two real life venues: the 1964 New York World’s Fair and the Tomorrowland area of Disney theme parks, which first opened in 1955.  The movie takes these sites, adds in a little extra imagination, and brings a fictional story to life that revolves around the concepts you could see at these places.  Problem is, they were really cool & exciting in the 50s & the 60s.  Since then, we’ve all seen the future imagined a thousand times in countless books, TV shows, and movies, leaving us a little harder to impress.  Back in America’s booming post-war era, it seemed like anything was possible, that technology was a ball rolling downhill, gaining enough speed to launch our country into another galaxy.  But now, we’re a jaded people, a group that seeks instant gratification, a mob of cynics is so many ways.  And while this film understands that and gives us those characters, it also tries to paint a brighter picture, a tale of hope that comes straight out of Leave It to Beaver and Mary Poppins. It’s a positive message, but we’re quickly becoming a negative species, and so this film might be about 50 years too late.

This is a story of two opposite characters and two opposite lands.  First we have Frank Walker, who, as a boy, was shown a different dimension in which the brightest minds of our world were creating an advanced society, not just technologically, but culturally as well, a utopia where all would be welcome.  Well, that didn’t quite go as planned, so now Frank is a grumpy old outcast who can only watch as the Earth and her people crumble around him.  Casey Newton is a special girl, someone who is as smart as she is determined, a optimist to the end.  When she discovers this beautiful possibility of a world, she knows that it’s up to her to make it a reality.  But it won’t be easy.  The geniuses & artists of Tomorrowland have closed the doors, knowing full well that Earth is destined for destruction.  And while this stops Frank from realizing his dream, it won’t stop Casey, a girl who is too stubborn to quit.  She will try to change the world in a matter of days, mostly on her own, and with no hope of success, daring to believe in a better future.


Perhaps I was too negative in the first paragraph, and I’m sure not everyone is as jaded and cynical as I am, but the fact remains that our current age is a much different one than our parents experienced in the middle of what would become a tremendous century of change.  We’re less excitable now, more worldly, not as easily impressed, and interested in taking care of ourselves in a way that’s so different from the community feeling that pervaded other decades and might still be felt in other regions.  Again, perhaps you’re different, perhaps you’re positive, and there are definitely people out there who make a difference every day, be it large or small, but the world, and specifically America, has changed dramatically in the last 50 years.  This film attempts to recapture some of that lost hope, that child-like optimism, bringing it to us as something that hasn’t been lost, but rather misplaced.  I won’t be the person that says that change is impossible, but I feel like this sentiment is one that has come too late, will be met with too much skepticism, and will ultimately fail to move us in the way it might once have done.

OK, let’s move on to the movie.  If I thought that the theme was a bit juvenile and misguided, the film was even more so.  I think you’d need to be either 12 or 65 to really enjoy the story, to fall in love with the characters, and to appreciate the hope that the film is trying to bring to our lives.  The rest of us, or, again, maybe it’s just me, might be too far gone to believe in the sentimentally of the ideals the movie tries so hard to get across.  I found myself agreeing with the villain more than the heroes, which I took as a very bad sign.  Who was the target audience for this film?  I love Disney as much as the next guy, but I never felt like the story was made for me, that it could only be accepted by the open minds of the youth or the nostalgic ones of Baby Boomers.  And even then, you’d have to be willing to let a bit of bad acting slide, try not to focus on the myriad of plot points that were spinning around the central theme from the very beginning, and pretend that you were impressed by the scenery, when, really, you’ve seen better.  If I try to look at this film through the eyes of someone younger, someone more hopeful, someone who didn’t just watch Mad Max and Ex Machina, I start to appreciate what the filmmakers were trying to do.  This movie wasn’t specifically made for me, or probably for you, but it might just inspire a select few to try to change the world.  I doubt it can be done, but does it hurt to try?

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆




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Movie Trailer – Ricki and the Flash

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Jonathan Demme

Starring: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer

Release: August 7th, 2015

OMG I can’t be expected to watch this.  I can’t possibly watch Meryl Streep pretend to be a musician for 90 minutes, or 1 minute for that matter.  And I can’t watch her & Kevin Kline be dramatic all over each other.  The mother/daughter story, the divorces, the weddings, the tears; no no no no no.

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Movie Review – Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

Category : Movie Review

Director: George Miller

Starring: Mel Gibson, Tina Turner, Angelo Rossitto

Year: 1985

Watching the newest addition to the Max Max franchise (Fury Road) made me want to revisit the 80s classics.  First there’s the original Max Max, which actually came out in 1979.  It tells the story of how Max went from police officer to punisher after a tragic event following a global apocalypse.  Next, in Road Warrior in 1981, Max has gone rouge in the Australian wastelands, eventually teaming up with a community who are trying to protect their precious fuel from an army of evil men.  And of course, in 1985, comes Beyond Thunderdome, catching Max in trouble once more, and again helping a group of weaker survivors while also trying to survive himself.  Fury Road would continue that theme, but it’s here in Thunderdome that we get some glimpses of the old world, of the innocence of post-war children, and of Max’s undeniably strange luck.

At the beginning of the story, Max is on the road again, though well stocked with provisions and even animals.  But thieves come from everywhere, including the air, and when his livelihood is taken from him Max goes on a mission to get it back.  He follows the thief to Bartertown, a medieval place from Aunty rules the trade above ground, Master rules the electricity under ground, and the two are at constant war with each other.  When Max steps between them his life will be forfeit, and trouble in Bartertown means a date with fate inside Thunderdome, where two men enter but only one man leaves.  Surviving Thunderdome earns Max a trip to the desert, where he stumbles upon a group of children who think that he is their savior, Captain Walker.  To save himself, Max will have to make this group an ally, defeat the villains of Bartertown, and escape the dangers of the barren outback.

There’s so much to talk about with this film, it’s overwhelming.  First, I’m a big fan of the series, and you’d better be too in order to enjoy this movie.  It’s an odd plot with weird characters and ridiculous action.  It’s much more 80s & silly than Fury Road, going over-the-top in a way that was fashionable at the time.  This is exemplified by Tina Turner, who also sings some theme songs.  She’s awful really, a terrible actress who is never believable and, IMO, not that great a singer.  She and her cronies are hilariously bad, the exact opposite of the new film’s evil men.  And Mel Gibson is really only OK, not as strong a character as in the other films.  But the saving grace of the movie is the children in the desert, their survival, the legend of Captain Walker, and the idea of TomorrowMorrowLand.  It’s the best part of the story, adds an element of hope & history to the film, and I always wish there was more to learn.  Putting it all together, Thunderdome is crazy, funny, strange, entertaining, but not the strongest of the series.  If you’re a fan it’s worth the watch, but if you’re looking to jump on the bandwagon make sure to watch the others first.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



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Movie Trailer – Vacation

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein

Starring: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Chris Hemsworth

Release: July 29th, 2015

I missed this trailer because apparently IMDb doesn’t put up red bands.  Well, I don’t understand how this is a red band trailer.  Because a kid said bullshit?  That’s lame.  And I think the entire movie will be just as bad as this trailer.  Swimming in poop, really?  I almost feel like Helms & Applegate are above this, and that’s saying something.  I like the original as much as the next guy, but this looks dumb.

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Movie Review – Good Kill

Category : Movie Review

Director: Andrew Niccol

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Bruce Greenwood, January Jones

Year: 2014

Coming off Before Midnight and Boyhood, Ethan Hawke is in line for some pretty premium roles.  His career is in a resurgence, with prime-time parts being offered like they haven’t been in years.  Good Kill is a film that I could imagine would have sought out a different actor were it to have come out a few years ago, but with Hawke currently a hot ticket, he got the job.  Although, it should be noted that he’s worked with writer/director Andrew Niccol before: Gattaca in 1997 and Lord of War in 2005.  Niccol is also responsible for S1m0ne, In Time, and The Host, while writing the stories for The Truman Show and The Terminal as well.  None of those are amazing films, and, let’s be honest, despite his successes Hawke isn’t the most amazing actor either.  So perhaps it won’t surprise you to know that this film slides right into the category of good but not great.

Thomas Egan is an Air Force pilot stationed in Las Vegas.  He has seen more active duty than anyone around, signed up for tour after tour, and loves the fear of flying a fighter jet over enemy territory.  But now, he’s no longer in the air, but behind a desk.  Egan is a drone pilot, the man behind the controls of America’s new war of terror.  He remotely flies unmanned aircraft from his trailer on a tarmac in Nevada, dropping hellfire missiles on the heads of terrorists thousands of miles away.  This modern war practice takes the glory out of combat, the thrill out of flying, and the passion out of a job that Egan used to love.  Now he compartmentalizes the fact that he drives to the office and kills men all day, only to return to his suburban house, his attractive wife, his growing children, and pretend that he’s a proud soldier serving his country.


It’s going to be difficult to talk about the subject matter of the film without getting into politics, so let’s get that out of the way.  The movie is about the drone program, its merits, its morality, and its function, presenting us with some harsh truths about a complicated subject.  Whether you are right-wing, left-wing, Republican, Democrat, a fierce patriot, or a peaceful hippie, this type of warfare is happening.  It’s the most efficient way to kill “bad guys” and America is a leader in the use of this tactic.  We can stand on either side of the argument about whether we ought to be or not, but this film presents the reality of the situation, and then puts a human face on the problem.  The script & characters are designed to portray different viewpoints, from the propaganda for to the classic arguments against.  At times it even feels a bit too fake in that way, as if the lines were written by college students preparing for a debate.  But the subject offers its own true drama, the topic is open for discussion, and the truth behind the story becomes the best part of the film.

Ethan Hawke’s character epitomizes the struggle to decide whether this type of war is just, evil, or somewhere in between.  And as he hunts for an answer, he also tries to live a normal life, getting along however he can while this great problem swirls around him.  In that way, he’s a representation of us, our doubts, and our disagreements.  So the bones of the film are solid, it’s a theme we need to explore, and I’d be glad to watch more dramatic renderings of this type.  It’s the execution of the movie that bothered me and kept me from loving it.  Hawke was only OK, and plot points like his draining a bottle of vodka down the bathroom sink have been done to death.  He didn’t feel original and I never completely rooted for his character.  Bruce Greenwood was pretty strong, though his lines always seemed completely manufactured.  It was January Jones who really threw me off.  She was horrible in every scene, and I’m beginning to wonder if she has the ability to change the expression on her face.  She definitely gets cast for her great looks, and I predict that she’ll never make it much farther than that.  Good Kill was a fascinating presentation of a current issue, but not a phenomenal film when picked apart.  I imagine that audiences will enjoy it, since it’s not long, feels pretty typical, has to do with war, and stirs emotions.  Just don’t look too deeply into the acting or the dialogue if you can help yourself.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆




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Movie Trailer – When Marnie Was There

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Kiernan Shipka, John C. Reilly

Release: May 22nd, 2015

I don’t know much about this style of film, but these appear to be the movies to watch.  Yonebayashi had a hand in Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, The Secret World of Arrietty, and The Wind Rises.  I think that’s a complete list of top Japanese animation, all written by the great Hayao Miyazaki.  So, not that this is my genre, but I think perhaps I should look into to.

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DVD Review – Diamond Heist

Category : DVD Review

Director: Robert Koltai, Eva Gardos

Starring: Michael Madsen, Vinnie Jones, Jamelia

Year: 2012

I don’t get why critics don’t like Snatch; I’ve seen it a dozen times and loved it every one.  I was seventeen when it was released, so perhaps I was just ripe for its humor, its action, and its characters, but I still don’t see what’s not to like.  Brad Pitt, bare-knuckle boxing, outrageous accents, stupid crooks, a million quotable lines, Jason Statham before he sold out, Irish gypsies; what more could you ask for?  Perhaps it’s the weird title, the British influence, and the off-kilter comedy that throw critics off.  I’d say ‘people’, but audiences dug it, so somewhere there’s a disconnect.  I can only guess that those who didn’t enjoy it saw it the way I saw Diamond Heist; an over-the-top spew of ridiculous bad guys & bad jokes whose only credit is that obviously no one is taking themselves seriously.  But it pains me to even put these two films in the same paragraph.  Oh well, there’s no accounting for taste.

The Movie


Where to start, where to start.  I guess, with a movie with this many characters, you start with them.  First, we have Terence, an ex-stripper, a current mob boss, and soon to be a birthday boy.  He’s throwing himself one hell of a party, complete with the Magic Boys and some jewels smuggled into London illegally.  In order to pull off the operation, he needs Cherry Valentine, a pilot & a hottie.  But Cherry isn’t exactly working for Terence, and she’s got motives of her own for helping with the deal.  Then there’s Mr. Brown, Cherry’s ally and the man responsible for supplying the birthday party with male dancers.  But when the chosen two go missing, he’ll have to make a deal with the devil in order to keep Terence happy.

That devil happens to be a criminal named Jack Varga, a “friend” or Terence who just happens to know two dancers who will not only entertain, but also help Jack steal the diamonds.  BUT when they don’t show up as well the job goes to two best friends named David & Zoli, Hungarians who are both out of work and out of shape.  They pretend to be the Magic Boys just to get paid, but they have no idea what kind of mixed up mess they’re about to step into.  Terence thinks he has Cherry, but Cherry has another plan, maybe it includes Mr. Brown, or at least until Jack threatens her, and David might be falling in love, while Zoli just wants to get back home to Hungary; it’s a little wild, a little strange, and not your grandma’s bday party.


Maybe it’s Vinnie Jones who makes this movie remind me of Snatch, and I’m willing to blame him for bringing a movie I love to mind while watching something I’d rather not think about again.  But if the film is part Snatch it’s also part Dumb & Dumber, a combination that left me confused more often than not.  It’s a heist movie kind of, a comedy sometimes, a melodrama but only a little, and a drama I guess.  It definitely has the elements that you see in other crime capers: the dangerous boss, the front club, the hot ladies & hunky gentlemen, the stolen jewels, and the morons who have no idea what is going on.  But the problem is that sometimes you feel like a moron yourself, watching an off-beat adventure that only makes so much sense, that you feel has lost its mind, and that you can’t remember why you turned on in the first place.

That said, I almost liked it.  Now, I didn’t, give me some credit, but it was a close call.  The humor is just so ridiculous that you can’t stop yourself from laughing.  Michael Madsen as a Chip and Dale veteran is too insane to not be kinda funny.  And the two fake Magic Boys, David & Zoli, are the bumbling duo that you sort of root for, even while they’re shaving each other’s chests.  The plot doesn’t come together, you can’t really believe a single actor, and you feel a little embarrassed admitting it, but you find yourself just the tiniest bit entertained.  But that’s as far as that goes, the film isn’t good, and after it’s over you chuckle to yourself, shake you head, and get back to reality.  And that reality is that Diamond  Heist is a spoof perhaps, a joke for sure, a guilty laugh or two, and then it’s gone from your mind and rated poorly, probably exactly as it should be.



Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 Widescreen, the video quality may, sadly, be the best part of the movie.  The film was shot using Panavision cameras and lenses, and isn’t as bad as the low quality of the story and production might suggest.  The film really does have a Snatch feel, with a ton of scenes from different cities, bright colors, quick cuts, and over-the-top characters galore.

Audio – The DVD was done in English Dolby Digital 5.1, with available English Closed Captions.  There are no other audio, language, or subtitle options on the DVD.  The sound quality of the film is fine, with nothing to notice or to hate, and with no great music to speak of.  Don’t except to be blown away by the sound, or the dialogue for that matter.

Extras – There are no extras on the disc.

Final Thoughts


Skip It.  I don’t want to make this movie sound like the worst thing ever, because it’s not.  I also don’t want to make it sound good, because it’s not.  It might be somewhere in between actually terrible and laughably terrible, a film that will offend the eyes of a few and shake the bellies of some others.  I guess the question is, do you need to see this movie?  And the answer would be ‘no’.  No, you don’t need to see it, but if you happened to you’d probably chuckle, feel strange, and not know what just happened.  The video quality was good, the audio just OK, and there were no extras at all.  If Diamond Heist did anything it was to make me want to watch Snatch again.  So, thanks?

☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ – Replay



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Movie Trailer – Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Alonso Gomez-Rejon

Starring: Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler

Release: June 12th, 2015

I talk about coming-0f-age movies a lot, only because they’re so prevalent and so popular.  It’s something we all understand because we all grew up, or are still growing up, and we can appreciate how momentous those high school/college/whenever moments are, especially when given extra drama by extenuating circumstances.  This looks like a movie that does the genre justice.

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Sports – NFL Rookies Top 15 First Look

Category : Sports

QB Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay Buccaneers


QB Marcus Mariota – Tennessee Titans


LB Dante Fowler Jr – Jacksonville Jaguars


WR Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders


OG Brandon Scherff – Washington Redskins


DE Leonard Williams – New York Jets


WR Kevin White – Chicago Bears


LB Vic Beasley – Atlanta Falcons


OG Ereck Flowers – New York Giants


RB Todd Gurley – St Louis Rams


 CB Trae Waynes – Minnesota Vikings


DT Danny Shelton – Cleveland Browns


OT Andrus Peat – New Orleans Saints


WR DeVante Parker – Miami Dolphins


RB Melvin Gordon – San Diego Chargers