Monthly Archives: December 2016

  • 0

Movie Trailer – How to Be a Latin Lover

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Ken Marino

Starring: Eugenio Derbez, Salma Hayek, Raquel Welch

Release: April 28th, 2017

Nope.  And it makes complete sens that Ken Marino directed this; the guy’s a doof.  There’s absolutely nothing funny in this trailer, which is a bad sign for a comedy.  You quickly get that they had nothing humorous to pull from when gathering clips for this teaser, and that’s a huge red flag.  I wouldn’t watch this movie if you paid me $20.  $50 is another story though.


  • 0

Movie Review – Passengers

Category : Movie Review

Director: Morten Tyldum

Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen

Year: 2016

What’s the saying, that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is?  That’s Passengers to a tee, a movie that has everything you’ve ever wanted from a pure audience entertainment perspective, but can’t possibly deliver all that it promises.  Sci-fi, thriller, romance, action, drama, comedy, and two of the hottest stars in Hollywood; this movie wanted every element it could grab, wanted to become a genre all its own, but made its first mistake in timing.  Why it was released in the midst of Oscar Season I’ll never know; Passengers views as a summer blockbuster and might have been a fun way to spend some time on a warm evening in July. In the theatres now, among Best Picture contenders, right alongside Rogue One; that’s just dumb.  Over-reaching and over-worked, this film had all the potential in the world and may have slid past as a simple good time during another month, but clunked onto our screens in December instead.

In the future, humanity will be able to populate other worlds, and it will be corporations who lay the ground work.  Sounds about right, and if you want to move away from Earth the chance is there, if at a very steep cost.  On board the Avalon, 5000 colonists are making their way to Homestead II, a beautiful planet that awaits their footprint.  The journey takes 120 years, so both the passengers and the crew are put to sleep for the voyage, set to awake in time to train, prepare, enjoy the luxury liner, and then start their new lives.  But a problem within the ship’s computer system causes a malfunction in one sleep pod, waking Jim Preston 90 years too early.  Nothing can be done, no one else is awake, and Jim is alone to contemplate his existence and eventual death floating alone through space.  As more problems arise within the computers, systems begin to fail, and the awakening of another passenger, Aurora Lane, changes everything.

I wanted to love this movie, I really did, and I went in within a completely open mind, prepared for the fact that this wouldn’t be Interstellar, but that it would be enjoyable in its own, unique, Pratt/Lawrence way.  And it was that, I won’t stoop to calling Passengers a complete failure, because although it did fail in many ways, I ultimately had a fine time for 100 minutes and would softly recommend it to those looking to spend some time not thinking, just watching.  Chris Pratt is the man, and for the first half of the film, he was literally the only man.  He took control of the film, took it in a direction that I never saw coming, and had me convinced that this was going to be a shockingly excellent movie.  That is didn’t end up that way isn’t to his discredit, and I really did have a blast during the first 45 minutes, was actually challenged morally and intellectually, enjoyed what I was watching as the story unfolded in a direction that I won’t give away here, but was not what was hinted at in the trailers.

Then J-Law woke up and the stability of the film begin to weaken, the walls began to quiver.  She’s hot, she’s talented, she and Pratt had good chemistry, and for a little while I was worried but not overly concerned, the film was still floating along.  But that reminds me of another proverb; a man passing your window as he falls off the top of the building shouts “so far so good!”.  In hindsight, Passengers was always in free fall, Pratt was just doing a great job making us forget that eventually the ground would come speeding up to bash our brains out.  That moment came when Laurence Fishburne entered the picture, and from then on everything went to hell.  He and his character were both awful, Pratt and Lawrence dropped to his level, the action got ridiculous, and any strong foundation that was laid early was broken apart into pieces and scattered through space.  This film becomes more a romance than science fiction rather quickly, and then ends as a throwaway action flick, something we may have let fly another time, because it was at least fun to watch, but can’t forgive right now.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 

Save

Save

Save


  • 0

Movie Trailer – Alone in Berlin

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Vincent Perez

Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Emma Thompson, Daniel Bruhl

Release: January 13th, 2017

I’m a little worried about the fake accents (Gleeson is Irish, Thompson is English) but I trust these professionals enough to know what they’re doing, to do it right, to tell this story in the way it should be told without making it seem campy, cheesy, or cliche.  Also, Bruhl is a fine young talent, someone I’ve seen a dozen times in recent years and can’t stop watching.  This film will work, I have a good feeling about it, and I predict success.


  • 0

Movie Trailer – Arsenal

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Steven C. Miller

Starring: Johnathon Schaech, Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Adrien Grenier

Release: January 6th, 2017

How many times would they like to punch someone, cock a gun, or say “You’re gonna get killed!” in this movie?  Maybe they’re going for some sort of record, worst action movie ever that is also the worst crime movie that also has terrible wigs.  God, Nicolas Cage is a doof hole, even in a little role like this.  I think I might hate him more than any other actor on the planet, and not even my love for John Cusack could get me to watch this movie.


  • 0

Movie Review – Rogue One

Category : Movie Review

Director: Gareth Edwards

Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn

Year: 2016

With the creation of The Force Awakens, the Star Wars universe was brought back into our lives with a vengeance.  You can’t quite call the enormity of the success of that film unexpected, since the franchise has always been a homerun-hitter, even with relative duds like Episodes 1 and 2.  But I’m not sure that the intense love of so many, of audiences across the board, could have been predicted, and the success the film had in marketing and merchandise was incredible as well.  Trust Hollywood to seize any opportunity to make money, and so multiple more films in the series are in the works, including offshoots like Rogue One.  I think this counts as a win-win though, as the studio will make millions, the saga will continue through another generation, and we get to see more Star Wars, which can’t be counted as a bad thing.

Where The Force Awakens leaped forward in time, Rogue One jumps back, filling in a major blank and allowing audiences to understand the events leading up to the Rebellion’s first major victory in its war against the Empire.  This is the story of the rebel group that stole the plans to the Death Star, allowing Luke Skywalker to fire his fateful shot.  They were led by the valiant Jyn Erso, daughter of Galen Erso, the mind behind the ultimate weapon.  But although he was forced to create a killing machine, he built within in a small flaw that would go undetected and could also spell the end of the dreaded Star were it only known.  Getting a message through to the daughter he left behind years ago, Galen shared the secret with Jyn, the hero who would lead a team of freedom fighters in a suicide mission to steal the plans from the Empire, transmit them to the Rebellion, expose the secret of the tiny, exploitable flaw, and, in so doing, attempt to save the galaxy.

One small step back from The Force Awakens but still a solid addition to a story on a grand scale that we will never completely tire of, Rogue One is a piece of the puzzle that we are lucky to be able to see on screen, instead of simply hearing about in passing from Mon Mothma as the rebels prepare their fateful attack in Episode 4.  For the first time, we are able to watch the Rebellion in play, the scattered members coming together to defeat an unbeatable foe.  We can watch the mission that changed history and those brave few who attempted the impossible.  If you’re a fan of the franchise, and let’s just assume you are, since being otherwise would be madness, then you’ll appreciate the bonus coverage, as it were, the extra bit of drama brought to the screen and created to establish even more of a back story to the films we’ve all loved for decades.  And beyond that, and perhaps the best part of the film, we get to experience Darth Vader in his prime, his most feared, even watching the monster in battle and experiencing the reason for the terror of the galaxy.

Establishing Darth Vader’s reputation, watching the Rebellion before Luke joins, viewing the exact moments that lead up to the beginning of Episode 4 and Vader’s boarding of Leia’s ship; these are the highlights of the film.  These story elements are fantastic, flesh out the plot of the other films, and act as delicious dinner to any casual fans or lifelong followers.  Dessert comes in the form of the cinematography, the reemergence of Walkers, the gory battles, the sounds of TIE fighters, the uniforms of the Rebellion; basically, all the tiny elements of this universe that we love.  This delivery of exactly what we want does gloss over a few flaws in the film, but well enough that we don’t really end up caring.  Felicity Jones is an odd choice for Jyn and never actually changes her facial expressions or tone of voice throughout the film.  The sequence of events is a little bumpy and doesn’t become smooth until the very end.  But whenever there s a negative, there are positives to cover them over; the incredible Alan Tudyk as the wise-cracking robot, the passionate Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, the amazing Ben Mendelsohn as the evil Krennic. Playing more as a war movie than a Star Wars film, Rogue One is still a must-see part of this ever-expanding story arc, something to enjoy on many different levels and to watch more than once.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save


  • 0

Movie Trailer – The Lost City of Z

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: James Gray

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Tom Holland, Sienna Miller

Release: April 21st, 2017

I’m intrigued.  True story, Amazon jungle, explorers, very cool.  And I’m excited to see Tom Holland do this kind of work, the kid is really talented.  Sienna Miller not so much, but sometimes you strike out, and James Gray deserves a pass there I guess, he’s proven himself in other ways.  I’m surprised Joaquin Phoenix isn’t in this film, he works with Gray all the time, but I’m confident in this cast (mostly) and confident in this film (I think).


  • 0

Movie Trailer – Norman

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Joseph Cedar

Starring: Richard Gere, Michael Sheen, Dan Stevens

Release: March 2017

If this film was just good actors meeting each other, talking to each other in New York accents, trading well-written lines, I think I could love it, though it had no other story or plot.  I just doubt that this film has any real chance of being anything other than an underwhelming good idea.  I don’t know, I want it to succeed, and I would literally watch anything with Dan Stevens in it, but I have to predict that this movie won’t, in the end, be as wonderful as I’d like it to be.


  • 0

Sports – NFL Picks 2016, Week 16

Category : Sports

Here are my NFL Week 16 Picks

(11-5 last week, 137-85-2 for the season)

Bye teams: none

 

NYG @ Phi – Although the Giants aren’t strong on the road and the Eagles play well at home, I have to go with the G-Men, and for a variety of reasons.  Their defense is playing lights out currently and will shut Wentz down completely.  Philly is on a 5-game losing streak and are completely out of playoff contention.  And New York takes care of divisional opponents, when games really matter, going 3-1 on the season compared to Philadelphia’s 0-4.

 

 

 

Mia @ Buf – I really thought that the Dolphins were dead in the water following the loss of Ryan Tannehill, but they kept their winning streak going and are on their way to the playoffs if they can just keep winning.  Sure, their last game was vs the Jets, who are horrendous, but the Bills aren’t that much better, and have quit playing for a coach that they’re pretty sure won’t be with them next season.  Miami has more to play for, and that matters in these late-season games.

 

 

NYJ @ NE – The Jets have officially collapsed, if you hadn’t noticed.  There will be wholesale changes next season, and literally everyone is on the trade/cut block.  For the Patriots, it seems like nothing ever changes, Brady & Co. clinching an 8th straight AFC East division title.  Playoffs here they come, and I wouldn’t want to face this team, not even with homefield advantage; New England is 7-0 on the road this season.  Good luck, everyone else.

 

 

 

Ten @ Jax – Right now it’s the better teams who have all the advantages, which seems a silly statement, but during the season bad teams can jump out to upset plans.  At the end of the season, when bad teams have punched their train tickets home already, good teams can come in and take easy games.  Look for that here, as the Titans are a team with hope and the Jaguars are a club in crisis.  They just fired their coach and will be wishing that the year was over already.

 

 

Min @ GB – The time for any Minnesota comeback is over, and with one more loss their season will be too.  They tried, but the Sam Bradford experiment was always doomed to fail, it was just a matter of time.  Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Packers are coming together as a team just in time for the playoffs and will probably go on a deep run, if they can somehow make it past the Cowboys.  Don’t look for Rodgers to have much trouble here.

 

 

 

SD @ Cle – If the Browns were going to win a game this season, they would have done so already, and more chances against mediocre teams don’t seem like they’ll be enough to give this dead franchise a burst of life.  How the Chargers ever thought they could keep doing the exact same thing every single season and somehow turn their franchise around is beyond me, but as least they can beat Cleveland.  I mean, who can’t?

 

 

Was @ Chi – The Redskins losing at home to the poor Panthers might spell the end of their playoff hopes, but that tie in their record still counts as half a win, so don’t count them completely out quite yet.  If they were to lose this week, then you could sign their death certificate, and that might actually happen, the way the Bears are playing recently.  They aren’t winning, but under Barkley they at least look like they maybe could, and that’s a big improvement.

 

 

Atl @ Car – Last season, Week 16, the mighty Panthers traveled to the lowly Falcons and got beat, Cam got shut down, and incidentally I won my Fantasy Championship because of it.  Can Carolina return the favor in a situation that’s almost a mirror image?  I think they can, I think they’re playing better lately, and I think that Atlanta is vulnerable because of their porous defense.  I want a shootout here, that would be cool, but I think that the Panthers have one last roar left in them.

 

 

Ind @ Oak – Indy won’t quit, which is to their credit, but it might be too little too late.  Houston & Tennessee seem about to battle it out for the division, and I don’t think anyone else from the AFC South is getting into the playoffs.  The Raiders are already in, but they’d like to clinch their division, and they need all the momentum they can get going into the postseason because their road will not be an easy one.  The Raiders don’t lose to anyone not in the AFC West, so you gotta pick ’em.

 

 

TB @ NO – If Tampa can just hold on, they’ll grab a Wild Card spot, and then probably lose in the first round, but hey, a ton of teams would give their ST coordinator just for a chance.  But I would worry if I were the Bucs, I wouldn’t want to go face Brees if he might be heating back up as the season ends.  After a few tough games, the NO QB got back on track, and I don’t think will have any difficulty scoring against a bad TB defense.  At home in the dome, the Saints go marching.

 

 

Ari @ Sea – The team I’m playing in the Fantasy Championship has Carson Palmer and David Johnson, so I’m hoping for a resurgence of that stellar Seattle D, and I actually think that’s likely to happen.  The Seahawks missed Earl Thomas, but have regrouped, and are still an amazing defense, only allowing 17 points per game.  If the Cardinals can score 2 TDs and a FG in this game, it’ll be a miracle.  Also, Seattle is 7-0 at home while Arizona is 1-5 on the road; this game is a foregone conclusion.

 

 

SF @ LA – The Ford Lincoln Mercury Toyota Nissan Honda Jeep Popeyes Chicken Who Cares Bowl, coming to you from sunny California.  Seriously, who cares, this game doesn’t matter, and literally no one will watch it or arrive at the stadium.  These teams are a combined 0-10 in their last 10 games, with the only bright side being that someone will get a win here, unless they’ll equally pathetic and tie.

 

 

 

Cin @ Hou – So the Texans bench the overpaid & underwhelming Brock Lobster, going with Savage instead, who is probably being paid $5 for this game, with a $1 bonus if he doesn’t completely suck it up.  Still, Houston is winning their division, is 6-1 at home, and will probably be playing with playoff aspirations, so they should be able to take care of business vs a Bungles team that has taken the approach of their untouchable head coach; do just enough to be mediocre, and then, hey, hakuna matata.

 

 

Bal @ Pit – This could be the best game of the week, smack dab in the middle of Christmas Day, with both teams fighting desperately for the playoffs.  Pittsburgh currently holds a one game lead on the division, so they either win it here or fall into a deadlock with Baltimore.  I’d guess they win it, continuing their 5-game win streak and their solid 4-2 record at home.  The Ravens defense is great and they have yet to lose within the AFC North, but I think that changes here.

 

 

Den @ KC – With a pathetic loss at home vs the Pats last week, the Broncos postseason dreams are slowly dissolving into harsh reality.  They gave up in the game, you could see it, and the offense has completely fallen apart.  I doubt they have enough gumption to do anything about how their season is collapsing, but if they were to care, now would be the time to act.  I just can’t see a win in freezing Kansas City in December against a bitter rival when they are also, unfortunately, the better team.

 

 

Det @ Dal – The Lions laid an egg last week, and are now in danger of losing the division lead to the Packers, something that has to feel all too typical.  If they lose and GB wins, the two teams will be tied atop the division, and will play each other next week in Detroit.  That’ll be a great game to watch, but only if Dallas can take this game, which I think they can.  The only team to beat the Boys all season is NYG, so they have to feel pretty impenetrable otherwise.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save


  • 0

Movie Trailer – Going in Style

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Zach Braff

Starring: Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin

Release: April 7th, 2017

I don’t understand this slew of old actors in buddy comedies that we’ve been presented in the last few years.  Elderly guys going to Vegas, elderly guys plotting a murder, now elderly guys robbing a bank; I love these three actors, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to love this film.  It looks silly and somehow beneath them.  Braff is not really a good director either, though his side cast is at least interesting: Ann-Margret, Christopher Lloyd, Matt Dillon, John Ortiz, and Joey King, the girl I called to be famous before anyone else, I swear I did!  Anyway, I think I’ll skip this one.


  • 0

DVD Review – Little Men

Category : DVD Review

Director: Ira Sachs

Starring: Theo Taplitz, Michael Barbieri, Greg Kinnear

Year: 2016

Ira Sachs’ last film was 2014’s Love is Strange, a New York romance with a twist; the couple in the spotlight was a pair of old, gay men.  That didn’t stop it from being an excellent film; on the contrary, it was refreshing to see that a love story can feel just as natural focused on two men instead of a man and a woman, two older characters instead of Hollywood’s ‘it couple’ of the hour.  In many ways that was the point of the movie; that love happens where it happens, that the more we understand the more we become used to it the more we don’t question or judge.  Sachs made the entire story seem commonplace in a very refreshing way, every day in a manner that taught us a resounding lesson.  He tries again with Little Men, tries to take a quiet plot and make it speak loudly with its depth, something that I think worked for him before, but doesn’t come across the same way twice in a row.

The Movie

Jake Jardin is a middle-schooler, an only child, and an artist, living in Manhattan with his psychiatrist mother and his actor father.  His mother pays the bills while his father tries to get something going at an off-Broadway theatre, a mission that has yet to be successful.  Jake’s a good kid, a quiet boy, someone who loves drawing and doesn’t have a ton of friends.  But his life will change when his grandfather dies, even though his family was never close to the man.  He did leave them an apartment in Brooklyn, with an attached shop on the ground floor that houses a quaint dress shop and provides some rent money.  So, to cut costs, Jake and his parents move to Brooklyn, making some of the grandfather’s affairs their own, unfortunately.

The woman who runs the shop downstairs was friends with Jake’s grandfather, allowing her to rent the space at an extremely discounted rate.  With a new family living upstairs and owning the building, her peaceful life is no more, and she’ll have to talk business with near-strangers.  Meanwhile, Jake becomes fast friends with her son Tony, an outgoing boy who wants to be an actor, a tough, soccer-playing Chilean/Italian who is everything Jake isn’t.  But the two fit somehow, complimenting one another, and their friendship is quick to set.  The stressful situation between their parents over money matters doesn’t help though, nor does the chance that the next school year will find them heading in different directions, down separate paths toward adulthood.

In attempting to speak softly and to make subtle points, Little Men missed an opportunity to be heard and to make an impact.  Its message was too quiet, too every day, too gentle, and became not only easy to miss but likely to miss as well.  Even for those who enjoy Sachs’ other films and who are looking to enjoy this one as well, the points slide smoothly away before we can grasp them, or as least don’t glitter enough for us to stick our hands down into the cold water to touch.  Were audiences desirous to love this film, the pace, action, and lack of punches might still turn them away, as the movie fails to grab you even if you want to be grabbed.  I came in knowing that the morals would be soft-spoken, and still could not appreciate that fact.

Unfortunately, apart from blaming the director for a bit too little influence and pressure on the story, I blame the two boys for not winning anyone over and not being able to carry the film upon their backs.  They should not have been asked too, that was part of the problem, Sachs needed a heavier hand, but they were called upon a ton and were not able to answer back.  Taplitz as Jake was awful, or at least without effect, delivering a one-note performance that wasn’t even good enough to be called amateur.  His counterpart, Tony, was better, more vibrant, but still a kid trying to act, not an actor yet.  The adults were fine, but again, there wasn’t enough to hold on to to make this film or anything about it entertaining, impactful, or interesting.  I respect the desire to let a plot speak for itself, to not bludgeon audiences with dramatics until we are force fed, to deliver a simple story that mirrors real life in a way we don’t see often enough from Hollywood features.  But while Little Men did these things and did them well, it’s voice was so soft it often went unheard, and that’s a pity.

The DVD

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.66:1, the video was completely forgettable.  It stood out as much as the story did, which is to say not at all.  The quality as fine, but unremarkable, with no focus on clarity or cinematography.  The film had an ultra-realistic feel, and that’s fine, that’s a style, but it’s also not something that will make your picture pop.

Audio – The DVD was done in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, with an option of subtitles in Spanish or English SDH.  Once again, the audio like the video was a technical aspect that was overlooked by the filmmaker and so can be overlooked by audiences as well.  No special attention was paid to the sound or sound quality, letting it disappear unnoticed.

Extras – There are a few special features on this disc, if you’re thirsty for more.  The Making of Little Men is a 20-minute behind-the-scenes and interview segment.  Casting Session: “Tony” (Michael Barbieri) is a 4-minute reading by the actor.  Casting Session: “Jake” (Theo Taplitz) is a 6-minute test of the kid.  And there are three trailers available: Little Men, Lo and Behold, The Wave.

Final Thoughts

Recommended.  I wish that this film had spoken up, which I know is a theme I keep returning to, but that’s about the only thing that impressed me about the movie; that it could have been better were it to have been louder.  I understand the subtle way in which the story was told, but that subtlety went too far, became an affectation instead of a tool, and I can only imagine the heights this film could have reached were it to have allowed itself to run free.  Sachs held the reins to tightly, but then also didn’t watch where he was going, allowing his actors to trot along without ever really getting anywhere.  The video, audio, and extras are all boring at best, and the film as a whole could be called the same.  Watchable yes, but lovable no, as Little Men fails to force us to watch, when, sadly, there is much here that should be seen.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save