Monthly Archives: August 2016

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Movie Trailer – Voyage of Time

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Terrence Malick

Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett

Release: October 7th, 2016

This is what Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line, The New World, The Tree of Life, To the Wonder, Knight of Cups) ought to have been doing all this time, documentary IMAX visual spectacles that have a bit of a story to tell but are basically about how the world began.  His movies suck, and I’m a film critic, I should appreciate them for their beauty.  Because they are beautiful, but they also suck, becoming giant, confused pieces of art that only a few can appreciate.  This at least looks like art we can all enjoy.


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Movie Trailer – Kidnap

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Luis Prieto

Starring: Halle Berry

Release: December 2nd, 2016

Whoever is responsible for this movie needs to have their brain examined.  What could possibly possess you to make a b-movie horror/thriller about child abduction, turn it into a vehicle pursuit film with stunts, and cast Halle Berry as the distraught mother?  Not only do all these choices make no sense, but it’s morally questionable whether this movie should be made in the first place.  It’s capitalizing on pain & fear, and then just looks plain bad to boot.


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DVD Review – Equals

Category : DVD Review

Director: Drake Doremus

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Kristen Stewart, Guy Pearce

Year: 2015

For those who think this film worked, which is not a large number, credit should be given first to the casting department or whoever made the decision to star Hoult & Stewart in this emotionless yet emotional dystopian sci-fi flick.  They were the perfect pair, though, again, and judging by the poor ratings this movie receives, not everyone thinks so.  Critics say that Equals takes itself too seriously and has too little to say, and audiences generally don’t enjoy slow-burning melodramas set it weird worlds where the characters spend more time staring deeply into each others eyes than they do conversing.  But count me among the few who liked picking up what this film was throwing down, who adored this duo of young actors, and who came away impressed, if not exactly blown away.

The Movie

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In the future, and after catastrophic events, humanity has barely clung to its existence, surviving in the Collective while outside Earth returns to a primitive state.  Humans in the Collective have become devoid of emotion, giving up their highs & lows for a state of constant passive focus and consistency.  Apartments are stark & efficient, everyone lives alone, work is done quietly, meals are provided by machine.  There is no war, no anger, not even a raising of a voice, but there is also no love, no passion, no relationships of any kind.  As the years pass slowly by, the Collective improves its cohesion, working toward an equality where nothing stands out, upsets, reacts, or endangers, where the horrors of the past are nothing more than a memory gradually melting into fiction.

But mankind and our base emotions cannot be denied so easily.  With more frequency, members of the society are becoming sick, infected with a bug referred to as SOS, Switched On Syndrome.  These unfortunate individuals find themselves feeling & emoting, quickly becoming violent & confused.  As soon as they are identified, these poor souls are given mood suppressants, taken to The Den, and eventually allowed to die peacefully before their illness can spread.  An underground movement surfaces made up of those who want the feelings to stay, who don’t want to be labelled as malfunctioning.  And as two such, Silas & Nia, begin to fall in love, the whole operation is threatened by their connection, leading to a daring plan to escape into the outside wilderness.

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Nicholas Hoult is well-known for playing a zombie named R who starts to return to a humanized state, Kristen Stewart for lacking emotion in nearly every role she plays.  Sounds to me like a perfect team to star in an anesthetized science fiction film whose characters aren’t allowed to show feelings.  And later, when their lives begin to change, these two show their true talent as young up-and-comers who can really dominate a difficult scene.  Hoult we’ve seen heading our way for quite some time, those of us who’ve been watching (Young Ones, X-Men, Fury Road), but Stewart remains someone we don’t want to like, despite several strong performances (On the Road, Camp X-Ray, Still Alice).  It’s time we appreciated the talent of these two stars, especially when it is challenged by a film that is no walk in the park.

Equals is part THX 1138, part The Island, but better than both, a complicated story about love & loss, bolstered by a cool dystopian premise.  It nods to The Giver quiet frequently, capping that off with a character named Jonas played very well by the incomparable Guy Pearce.  Its muted drama is crafted to make audiences uncomfortable, only to shift toward a normal love story while everything around the couple is completely alien to us.  Yes the action is slow to rise and the monotonous voices might bore at first, but that’s part of the point, part of the plot that will eventually crest toward a solid moral.  Not the best utopia-gone-wrong movie you’ll see but definitely not the worst, Equals is a better-than-average romance led by competent acting and set in a fascinating realm, something subtle to enjoy when you tire of the typical fare.

The Blu-ray

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Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (108op Widescreen) and shot using an Arri Alexa XT Plus camera with Zeiss Super Speed and Ultra Prime lenses, the video quality of this Blu-ray disc is a high point of the film, a cinematographical challenge well-met.  With such a stark reality, the clarity of the picture became very important, and the film delivered, with a cool use of blue color throughout and a simplicity of scenes that was quite refreshing.

Audio – The Blu-ray was done in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, with an option of English SDH or Spanish subtitles.  There is a main theme spread underneath the film, but otherwise not an extensive use of music, more sound to set a mood than to define moments.  The audio quality is strong, with a focus on dialogue and subtle noise.

Extras – There are many extras on the Blu-ray disc.  Audio Commentary can be selected, with thoughts from director Drake Doremus, cinematographer John Guleserian, and editor Jonathan Alberts.  There are three featurettes: Switched On, The Collective, Utopia.  There are five trailers: Into the Forest, Swiss Army Man, The Lobster, Green Room, The Adderall Diaries.  And bookmarks can be accessed & used in the special features menu.

Final Thoughts

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Highly RecommendedEquals isn’t a popular film, nor was it extremely well-received, but that doesn’t mean that it’s without positives.  The base story is an intriguing one, something you will find yourself wanting to know more about, understand the history behind.  The two young actors are here to make a statement, that they can deliver challenging dramatics when asked to do so.  And the slow-burn feel of the film is one that I enjoyed, something that speaks softly in a way that wills you to listen.  Not the best sci-fi of the last few years by a long shot, but nothing to be dismissed either.  The video is quite nice, the audio solid, and there are a few extras if your interest has been piqued.  Enjoy the quiet chemistry of the couple, the fascinating world in which they live, try to understand what this film isn’t, and you might just be surprised.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 

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Movie Trailer – War on Everyone

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: John Michael McDonagh

Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Michael Peña, Paul Reiser, Theo James

Release: October 7th, 2016

Are bad movies competing for their own award season right now?  Is this Razzies release time or something?  God, I haven’t watched this many bad trailers since Anna Kendrick lost her mind, did one movie per month, and they all sucked.  Please stop.  Please.


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Movie Trailer – Same Kind of Different as Me

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Michael Carney

Starring: Greg Kinnear, Renee Zellweger, Djimon Hounsou

Release: February 3rd, 2017

What a stupid title, what an awful-looking movie.  What, does Greg Kinnear only do uplifting Christian films now?  What happened to his acting career?  Now he only does this Hallmark shit?  And oh my god poor Renee Zellweger’s face, jesus, what happened to it?  I wouldn’t watch this movie if you paid me $20.  I’d probably watch it if you paid me $100, but only so I could feel superior.


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Movie Review – Chi-Raq

Category : Movie Review

Director: Spike Lee

Starring: Teyonah Parris, Nick Cannon, Angela Bassett

Year: 2015

Chi-Raq is one of the most fascinating movies of 2015, but far from one of the best.  Its backstory and message are what make it a must-see, but its acting changes it into something to avoid.  So, what’s the consensus on this polarizing film?  I’d say that falls somewhere in the middle, critics & audiences agreeing.  Chi-Raq is based on the Greek comedy Lysistrata but set in modern day Chicago, a combination that works in theory, with a morality tale that’s begging to be told, but unfortunately doesn’t come across in this film with the sort of quality audiences will be looking for.  Spike Lee channels Michael Moore, backs his story up with a hip hop soundtrack, adds in the theatrical, but fails to bring it all together for a successful final product.

As the death toll in Chicago surpasses that of Iraq, the people of the streets cry out for justice in a world that rarely gives them the time of day.  Gang violence kills the innocent, children grow up with no future, and a gun costs less than a computer.  With no one to care, the hoods will just kill each other off, while the rich sit and watch in their skyscrapers down town.  Lysistrata, the girlfriend of the most powerful rapper & gang leader in town, stumbles upon a way to keep the Spartans & the Trojans from their bloody game; deny them the pleasure of their women.  That’s right, a sex strike, in which all the women of the city & the world unite to withhold their love until all men put down their guns, stop the killing, and bring peace to our planet.

This play is excellent, I had the good fortune to see it some years ago, and it’s so incredibly well written that it can withstand being transferred to any time period, especially to one in which violence is king.  Spike Lee takes the ancient tale, places it in Chicago, where it works on all levels and retains its relevance.  Lee uses statistics in rhymes to open our eyes to what is happening in our own country, where crime is being ignored while billions are spent in the Middle East.  It’s a powerful message, a funny way to get it across, and becomes a story worth hearing.  The music was strong as well, and so were the verses spoken by the actors, more rap than dialogue, but perfectly fitting the scene.  My problem with the film was the acting, which was awful, except for narration done by Samuel L. Jackson, which was excellent, of course.  But Parris & Cannon aren’t lead actors, the movie became a documentary far too often, its run time was far too long, and I began to lose interest by the end.  A film that’s better in concept than in delivery, Chi-Raq is still something worth seeing, both for the famous work it is based on and for its cool originality.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – The Late Bloomer

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Kevin Pollak

Starring: Paul Wesley, Brittany Snow, J.K. Simmons, Maria Bello

Release: October 7th, 2016

I’m embarrassed for the people in this movie, some of them are better than this.  I’m also embarrassed for Kevin Pollak, who is a pretty good actor and should know better than to begin his directing career at the age of 58 with a film like this.


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Movie Trailer – My Blind Brother

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Sophie Goodhart

Starring: Nick Kroll, Adam Scott, Jenny Slate, Zoe Kazan

Release: September 23rd, 2016

This basically comes as a giant shock to me, but I actually think this movie looks good.  It seems funny in a weird way, not offensive in a weird way, and a little emotional in a weird way.  So, yeah, it looks weird but kinda good.  Strange.


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Movie Review – Brokeback Mountain

Category : Movie Review

Director: Ang Lee

Starring: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal

Year: 2005

How Brokeback Mountain didn’t win Best Picture at the Oscars in 2006 in still beyond me.  It did win Best Directing, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score.  It was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Cinematography.  But it lost out to Crash for the most coveted award of the night.  Crash, of all movies; in what was already a weak year (Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich), Brokeback Mountain lost to Crash, an over-the-top, ensemble cast, pseudo-poignant trainwreck starring a who’s who of b-list talent: Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Tony Danza, Keith David, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, William Fichtner, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Ryan Phillippe, and Ludacris.  You can tell I’m passionate about this, and about the fact that Brokeback in clearly the better and a phenomenal film, I guess some people just weren’t quite ready to understand that.

In the mountains of Wyoming, two young ranch hands find work guarding sheep over a summer on the slopes of Brokeback, a period of time that will become when their lives truly started.  Ennis is a quiet cowboy with a lonely past, someone who’s fixing to get married to a local girl, lead a simple, local life.  Jack loves the road, is gregarious & outgoing, wants to start a ranch of his own someday.  Up in the wilderness, the two men discover a surprising commonality; an attraction to each other that knows no reason.  So begins a forbidden love affair, kept under wraps so Ennis & Jack can live their typical American lives, held secret against the dangers of being ‘that kind’ in that place.  They would continue to meet as friends over the years, each setting down a different path in life, but neither ever forgetting the time they fell in love on Brokeback.

To revisit the Crash debacle one more time, something that Brokeback did far better than that film was weave a talented, young cast together in an ensemble that never exposed their weaknesses and never took focus away from the leading men.  Michelle Williams & Anne Hathaway were both great as the wives, both using this film to expose their true talent, to make us forget Dawson’s Creek and The Princess Diaries.  Also, any movie that can make Randy Quaid look good is genius, supporting young actors too, like Linda Cardellini & Kate Mara, and featuring cameos by the now-known Anna Faris and the pride of Stranger Things David Harbour.  But back to the film itself, which could not possibly have been stuffed more full of amazing cinematographical moments & beautiful scenes.  It’s a lovely love story, after all, and it was done to perfection.  Ledger & Gyllenhaal might not have done better to this day, and that’s including Ledger’s Joker and Gyllenhaal’s Donnie Darko.  They were a magical pair, something that only comes along once in a decade, and they didn’t even get the full credit they deserved.  After all this time, Brokeback is still an incredible film, one that perhaps audiences weren’t ready for at the time, but one that I hope they can respect now.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – Hidden Figures

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Theodore Melfi

Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae

Release: December 25th, 2016

I get the historic significance behind this film, I get the untold story they’re trying to tell, and I also get that audiences are ripe for this type of film right now.  But it was put into the wrong hands and will turn out bad.  Of course that’s just a silly prediction and the only way I can actually find out is by watching the movie when it comes out, but it’s fun to guess, and sometimes you just get a feeling one way or the other.  With this one, the feeling I get isn’t good.  The director, for one, has only done one other film and that was St. Vincent, not my favorite.  Then there’s the cast, which, apart from Spencer, is awful: Henson, Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons.  That’s a bunch of ‘no’s in a row, so I think I’ll pass.