Monthly Archives: August 2015

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Movie Trailer – Concussion

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Peter Landesman

Starring: Will Smith, Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks

Release: December 25th, 2015

Will Smith looks amazing in this trailer, both mature and ready for a big role like this.  Mark my words, he’ll be the first to play Barack Obama in an Oscar-worthy docu-drama, here in the next 10 years.  But going back to the film at hand, Concussion has what it takes to be a landmark film.  Not only does it deal with a current issue and the country’s most popular television item, but it stars a man who might re-make his career with one character.  Bring it on.


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Movie Trailer – Carol

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Todd Haynes

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler

Release: November 20th, 2015

Cate Blanchett was made for this era, or at least movies about this era.  She strikes us as a debutant with a dark secret, which looks like exactly what she’ll be playing here.  I’m a little worried about Todd Haynes though, who directed both Far from Heaven and I’m Not There, two very boring movies.  I hope there is more substance here and less reliance on pure mood.


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DVD Review – Mad Max: Fury Road

Category : DVD Review

Director: George Miller

Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

Year: 2015

The Mad Max franchise is solid gold.  Well, assuming that you’re a fan of psychotic Australian post-apocalyptic action films, but really who isn’t?  This series of films has more than a cult following, which would only secure its place as a very weird yet very popular niche movie.  No, it’s more than that; loved by critics & audiences alike, defining an era, launching a career, and cementing itself as more than one-of-a-kind.  Or three-of-a-kind, more accurately: Mad Max, Road Warrior, Beyond Thunderdome.  These are movies that you must see, must know, and need to appreciate, if not exactly understand.  Fury Road is no different, another epic survival tale following our hero, the lone wolf of the wasteland.  But it’s been 30 years since director George Miller last attempted this continuing saga, you wonder if there might be some rust.  Well, wonder no more.  There isn’t.

The Movie

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In the desert of a blighted land, every man is crazy.  You’d have to be to survive, to do what it takes, to kill or be killed, to push yourself (and your car) farther than you ever thought you could go.  For Max, life is a harsh reminder of the past, of ghosts that will never leave him in peace.  Oh and evil rovers on souped-up dune buggies, those too.  Max’s newest enemies are the War Boys, led by Immortan Joe, a tyrant of the Citadel who controls the water and therefore controls the people.  His obsession is clean offspring, sons free of the diseases inherent in the world, and so he prizes his beautiful breeders above all else.  But they’ve just gone missing, freed by the iron-willed Furiosa, who will now team up with Max to get the girls to safety, find the legendary Green Place, and rid them all of the guilt of living when so many have died.

But that won’t be easy, and, as Furiosa puts it, everything hurts in the wasteland.  The breeders aren’t accustomed to life outside their jailed existence in the Citadel, nor are they prepared to kill anything that moves, which is what is so often required.  And also, Furiosa & Max don’t quite see eye to eye, each forcing their party in directions that further their own goals.  Add in a War Boy who has become a crafty stowaway, a gang of bikers who control the pivotal pass, a treacherous mud bog, & the ever-closing Immortan Joe at your back, and you’ve got yourself an adventure.  Our heroes will have to count every bullet, make every kill count, spill gallons of blood, and put the pedal to the metal if they’re to have any hope of a future, of redemption, of a life that isn’t controlled by the madman who will stop at nothing to destroy them all.

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Fury Road is one colossal action sequence with a few scattered moments of humanity.  Twisted humanity, barely humanity, a mind-boggling alternate dystopic version of humanity, but humanity nonetheless.  And as a genre that let’s us down more often than not, you’d think the never-ending, heart-pounding, explosion-laden action would turn us off from liking this movie.  But they didn’t, and there’s a simple reason why; because they were crafted by a genius.  George Miller may only do one thing well, but he does that thing so well that he becomes a little action god who can literally do no wrong.  The constant violence & insane pace of this film are parts of the Mad Max world he creates, not something manufactured to impress audiences.  And so the action feels natural in a way in can never feel in other films, regular in a world gone mad, typical for the lives of the people who are unlucky enough to still be alive.  Every minute is filled with death & drama, yet it never gets old.  I’d call that genius, wouldn’t you?

Perhaps you expected to love this movie, as I did, expected to dig the action, the fictional world, the odd language, the accents, the dust, the gas-guzzling pseudo-vehicles.  But what I didn’t see coming was Charlize Theron.  I knew she was in the movie, thought she’d play a part in the story, but I didn’t expect her to be the main character.  And in a movie whose title comes from Tom Hardy’s role, why would I?  But she was undoubtedly the lead.  It was her drive, her motivation, her heart, that kept the plot going.  Max became a narrator in a sense, a tool in the mission, but not a person that the movie relied upon.  So Furiosa became the heroine, with Max as her sidekick in a strange way, and what’s most surprising is that it worked.  Had Hardy been the only focal point perhaps we would have lost interest, perhaps we wouldn’t have been able to keep ourselves from comparing him to Mel Gibson, perhaps there would have had a been-there-done-that feeling.  It’s hard to predict, but what I know is that Miller got it right.  He brought the franchise back to life, gave us the pieces we always loved, twisted the frame of the story just enough, and turned the volume up to eleven.

The Blu-ray

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Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 1080p HD 16×9, the Blu-ray is fully designed to blow your mind.  The film was shot using five different cameras: Arri Alexa M, Arri Alexa Plus, Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Olympus P5.  Every shot was created with indescribable detail and rich tone.  The quality of the Blu-ray disc brings out the pain-staking work that went into every scene, every pan, and every phenomenal explosion.  The stunts were real, the cars were real, the minute pieces of metal on every car & creature were real.  Be ready to see a clarity & color that you don’t get every day.

Audio – The Blu-ray disc was done in Dolby Atmos, with a choice between English and English Descriptive Audio 5.1.  Also, in Dolby Digital, your choices are Francais 5.1 Dubbed, Espanol 5.1, or Portugues.  Subtitles can be chosen in English SDH, Francais, Espanol, or Portugues.  The audio quality of the Blu-ray is just as blastingly beautiful as the video, but perhaps just a touch too much so in some moments.  Blu-rays too often tend to crank up the effect volume while keeping the dialogue sound on low.  This leads to blast-out moments and you possibly having to keep a remote in hand.  Still, with incredible effects & a great rock soundtrack, the greatness of the audio can’t be denied.

Extras – There are a large number of exciting extras on the Blu-ray disc.  Maximum Fury: Filming Fury Road – 28 mins – behind the scenes, interviews, on set in Africa.  Mad Max: Fury on Four Wheels – 22 mins – car design, vehicles as an extension of wardrobe.  The Road Warriors: Max & Furiosa – 11 mins – character study of the two leads, the transition from Mel to Tom.  The Tools of the Wasteland – 14 mins – prop details, minute addictions to a wacky world.  The Five Wives: So Shiny, So Chrome – 11 mins – interviews with the ladies, their characters combined as notes in a melody.  Fury Road: Crash or Smash – 4 mins – a combination of pre-production tests and raw footage.  Deleted Scenes – I Am a Milker (30 secs), Turn Every Grain of Sand! (2 mins), Let’s Do It (1 min).

Final Thoughts

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DVD Talk Collector Series.  After my third time watching this film, I realized something: that I’m hard-wired to like action movies.  I thought that a bit strange, since so many action flicks have been so disappointing in recent years and the genre as a whole has taught me to stay away.  But it’s only that not many directors have been producing action correctly, we’ve all become a bit jaded, and ‘action’ has begun to mean stupid gunfights & judo chops.  Not anymore, and I’m proud to say that my natural testosterone has finally been appeased.  Fury Road is what we’ve been waiting for, and we can only hope that more will follow.  The video quality is beyond belief, the audio just as strong, and the extras both plentiful & wonderful.  With resoundingly positive reviews, this film still isn’t for everyone, though neither is the Mad Max franchise as a whole.  It’s still action, still over-the-top, still insane, and can’t possibly be loved by all.  But 9 out of 10 ain’t bad, as they say, and that seems to be the number of people who absolutely adore this wonderfully exciting & furiously entertaining film.  I hope you’ll join me as one of them.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 


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Movie Trailer – The Perfect Guy

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: David M. Rosenthal

Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Michael Ealy, Morris Chestnut

Release: September 11th, 2015

How is this not a Zane novel?  It reminds me of the sole Zane-based film I’ve seen, Addicted, with a bit of Fifty Shades thrown in for good measure.  So, basically, it looks like crap.  This type of movie is why people with taste look down on thrillers, when films like The Gift should be the norm, not this romantic/sadistic bullshit.


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Movie Trailer – Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Christopher Landon

Starring: Tye Sheridan, Halston Sage, Patrick Schwarzenegger

Release: October 30th, 2015

Well I love Tye Sheridan (Mud, Joe, The Stanford Prison Experiment), and I like irreverently silly zombie movies (though they are getting a little old), so I think we’re in for a treat here.  This looks original enough to make up for the recycled idea, and the young cast could be a strong unit.  We’ll see, but I have high expectations.


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Movie Review – Hercules

Category : Movie Review

Director: Brett Ratner

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Rufus Sewell, Rebecca Ferguson

Year: 2014

This might be an odd way to start off what will ultimately be an extremely negative review, but there are performances in Hercules that really impressed me.  Rufus Sewell commits to a character like he never has before, allowing us exclusive access behind those heavily lidded eyes of his.  Rebecca Ferguson, recently of M:I5 fame, plays the Greco heroine much better than you’re used to seeing.  And John Hurt reigns over his scenes with a talent that’s as strongly exhibited as it has ever been before.  But, unfortunately, you know who didn’t deliver?  The Rock.  Yes, Dwayne Johnson the wrestler turned actor and the unrelieved star of this film.  He and the story around him were so incredibly terrible that they drove any positive aspects of this movie before them like sad, vanquished warriors, claiming the field in hollow victory.

There are two Hercules’ in this film; the mythical & the mortal.  The mythical only exists in legends, in exaggerated tales of deeds that he may have accomplished, but that didn’t happen exactly as you’ve heard.  The mortal is the man we see before us, a skilled warrior and unquestionably strong, but not the son of a god.  Hercules is no more than a battle hero turned mercenary, a troubled soldier whose team will take on any mission, as long as the price is right.  And so when the lord of Thrace asks for Hercules’ help in ridding the land of a band of evil marauders, he is only too willing to lend a hand.  But not everything is as it seems, and the demons of his past will come back to haunt our hero Hercules, forcing him to confront the beasts that stalk his dreams and make decisions that will decide the fate of all Greece.

The Rock can’t act.  Well, not like this, anyway.  I actually enjoyed him in Pain & Gain, where he could let his natural charisma work to his benefit.  Here, as in San Andreas, he was called upon to display emotions, and that’s just not where his talents lay.  He can’t do it, can’t convince us, and so comes across as a very large dud, both figuratively & literally.  His performance ruined those of higher quality around him, bringing every scene down to his level, which is unfortunate, since he both seems like a nice guy and makes me want to root for him to succeed.  Well, he’s succeeded I guess, good for him, but he’s not a dramatic actor.  Not that this movie was a drama, it was pure action, but it still required some feeling to make it work, and wow did it not work.  It felt like a sequel whose original no one had seen.  It had pseudo-zombies for no reason and mechanized weaponry that didn’t make any sense.  The plot was ridiculous, the characters were stupid, every instant was incredibly unbelievable, and by the end I just wanted someone to tell me that I was the butt of a joke.  But no, no joke, someone thought this was a good movie, just like someone thought The Last Legion worked, although I can’t imagine who that would be.  I actually thought Hercules might be enjoyable, but boy was I wrong, and I’ll remember to stay away from fake histories starring Dwayne Johnson from now on.

My rating: ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – Every Thing Will Be Fine

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Wim Wenders

Starring: James Franco, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Rachel McAdams

Release: September 4th, 2015

I can’t be the only person who can’t possibly take James Franco seriously.  He’s a funny pot head, not a quality actor.  He can’t do this, play a guy whose life is defined by running over a kid and then becomes a successful author who saves people lives.  I call bullshit.  He just doesn’t have that in him and this movie is going to be terrible.


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Movie Trailer – The Final Girls

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson

Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Alexander Ludwig

Release: October 9th, 2015

Why yes I would like to watch a slasher movies that pays homage to slasher movies while also making fun of them while also actually being something other than a student film.  Although, I really don’t like any single person in this cast; I’m hoping they can win me over with cheesy/wonderful performances.


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Sports – Pater Familias 2015

Category : Sports

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Fantasy Football is here!

And Pater Familias is ready:

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QB – Aaron Rodgers (GB) – No Jordy Nelson?  No problem.  Rodgers is Rodgers, and he elevates the players in his receiving corps, not the other way around.

QB – Carson Palmer (Ari) – A capable backup who should be a solid fill-in when Rodgers is on the bench for his bye week.  Arizona is sneaky good.

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WR – Dez Bryant (Dal) – I would be disappointed with anything less that 12 TDs & 1200 yds.  Last year it was 16 & 1400, so I don’t think that’s asking too much.

WR – Davante Adams (GB) – With Nelson out, Adams will see an immediate boost in his targets, which should propel the second year player to great numbers.

WR – Jeremy Maclin (KC) – Now with the Chiefs, Maclin will see his stellar stats diminish, but he still might be the only WR to catch a TD this season in KC.

WR – Breshad Perriman (Bal) – Let’s see what the rookie can do, supposedly lining up opposite Steve Smith, if he ever gets healthy enough to participate.

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RB – Mark Ingram (NO) – Ingram is ready for another solid season as the Saints focus on their running game and taking pressure off Drew Brees.

RB – Alfred Morris (Was) – Morris is the workhorse back for the Redskins and should see 300+ targets this year.  At least I hope.

RB – Jonathan Stewart (Car) – With DeAngelo Williams finally gone, Stewart can finally attempt to have a break out season as the #1 back.

RB – Isaiah Crowell (Cle) – I’m not proud of picking any Brownies, but Crowell could be a solid backup and score a few points.

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TE – Jimmy Graham (Sea) – Traded to Seattle in the offseason, Graham will see a dip in his numbers, but hopefully not too cavernous.

TE – Josh Hill (NO) – Speaking of Graham, Hill is his replacement in New Orleans.  He’s not as talented, but still has Drew Brees throwing to him.

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K – Justin Tucker (Bal) – Tucker has become my team captain, now in his 3rd straight year with my team.  Let’s hope my luck changes and he can receive some credit.

K – Matt Bryant (Atl) – The veteran just keeps churning out the points, and Atlanta is always a strong enough team to put them on the board.

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Def – Seattle (Sea) – The best defense in football, the Seahawks are still in the Super Bowl hunt, despite last year’s devastating loss to the Patriots.

Def – Minnesota (Min) – A solid backup defense, with some talented young players that could help this team transition into a strong club.


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Movie Trailer – The Witch

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Robert Eggers

Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie

Release: 2016

Terrifying.  Absolutely terrifying.  But I love this new trend of going back to the classics that made horror great, giving them a modern/artistic feel, and keeping the content so simple that it scares us to death.  This film looks a little like a cross between The White Ribbon and The Village, which is fine by me, and I think it’ll end up being 2016’s It Follows.