Monthly Archives: October 2018

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Movie Trailer – Aladdin (2019)

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Guy Ritchie

Starring: Mena Massoud, Will Smith, Naomi Scott

Release: May 24th, 2019

What a stupid teaser, what a fucking stupid fucking teaser.  Oh this movie is going to be terrible, so incredibly terrible, I can smell it a mile away, without even having seen any idiotic footage, which is no fault of my own, by the way, Disney.  Guy Ritchie?  Will Smith? Are you kidding me?!  I will literally find a hat and eat it if this movie is anything other than a disaster.  I know this is just a teaser, the full trailer could look completely different, but there are a thousand red flags up, and my money is on “bust”.


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Movie Trailer – Pet Sematary (2019)

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer

Starring: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow

Release: April 5th, 2019

King is my favorite author, obviously this movie has been done before, but I think this team will do both the book and the original film justice, because I’m scared for my life already.  Creepy, disturbing, frightening, gross; however you want to describe it, this trailer looks to be leading us down a very dark hole.  And no, I don’t want to go, but I have to see what’s down there.


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Sports – NFL Picks 2018, Week 7

Category : Sports

Here are my NFL Week 7 Picks

(9-6 last week, 55-36-2 for the season)

Bye teams: Packers, Raiders, Steelers, Seahawks

 

Den @ Ari

Ten @ LAD

Hou @ Jax

Car @ Phi

Min @ NYJ

NE @ Chi

Buf @ Ind

Cle @ TB

Det @ Mia

NO @ Bal

Dal @ Was

LAR @ SF

Cin @ KC

NYG @ Atl

 


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Movie Trailer – Bodied

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Joseph Kahn

Starring: Calum Worthy

Release: November 2nd, 2018

Kahn does music videos, Eminem was a rapper, and now they’re combining to make a racially-charged comedy starring a guy no one’s ever heard of before?  That shouldn’t work, yet this trailer looks hilarious and I’m gonna be first in line to see this movie.


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Movie Trailer – The Mule

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Clint Eastwood

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Michael Peña

Release: December 14th, 2018

This movie looks like a cross between Sicario, Hell or High Water, and A Perfect World, which is alright with me.  Eastwood stars and directs, he brings in Cooper, who might be his protegee, and all looks to go smoothly, at least judging by the trailer.  Robert Redford may have done his swan song this year, this could be Clint Eastwood’s, and we might be seeing the end of an era, so don’t miss out.


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DVD Review – Country

Category : DVD Review

Director: Richard Pearce

Starring: Jessica Lange, Sam Shepard, Wilford Brimley

Year: 1984

For Country, Jessica Lange was nominated for a Best Leading Actress Academy Award, ultimately losing out to Sally Field in Places in the Heart, five years after she won her only other Oscar for Norma Rae.  Three of the five films in the category in 1985 were about farmers, families, floods, failed crops, that old chestnut, and the other two were period pieces, so there was some tight competition in a tight window, and who really stands a chance against Field anyway, she’s so damned likeable.  Lange has had her chances to shine, and she’s been a part of many an iconic film, but perhaps it’s right to consider this movie as one of her strongest examples of talent; a simple-on-the-surface role that couldn’t have been so simple to play, a character that’s at once an everyman and an everywoman.

The Movie

The life of an Iowa farm family is anything but glamorous.  They work all day, all seasons, pulling in just enough money from crops and livestock to stay alive themselves, to warm their homes and feed their children.  One bad crop puts you behind, one broken tool costs you time and money, one sick kid destroys your savings, and nothing gives you the excuse to quit working, each morning it’s back to the grind.  The father reaps the corn, the grandfather drives alongside him, the son learns the trade, the mother takes care of the home, and the daughter takes care of the littlest ones; it’s a grueling life, a gray-brown life, but one that some were born to live, having been raised on the land and having known from their first steps on it that it would always be their home.

For the Ivys, tough times are only getting tougher, and they aren’t the only farmers to feel the steady trickle of stability eek away under their feet.  After a lack of rain and a bad storm, the Ivy’s corn crop isn’t what they expected it to be, and the money it brings in just isn’t enough.  The bank is tired of constantly handing out more loans to farmers whose farms aren’t turning a profit, and so they finally put their feet down.  This means that Gil and Jewell Ivy will either have to come up with the money to pay off their loans, sell some of their land and equipment, or move off the farm, a place that’s been their family’s home for generations.  If all the locals could come together and fight the banks, they might be able to force some change, but that will take grit and determination; luckily farming folk don’t lack either.

Both Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard were relative newcomers to the screen in 1984, although they had both previously been in Frances in 1982, for which Lange was, again, nominated for Best Leading Actress.  But other than that, Lange had King Kong and Shepard had The Right Stuff, neither had become a big star yet, but both would show up for this niche drama and perform wonderfully.  The main thing they did right was to play their parts understated, which was smart, and which fit the mood and times better than a melodramatic interpretation.  They were convincing as farmers, as Americana, and representatives of a way of life that was slowly dying.  In a time when films loved focusing on social justice, and especially on farmers and workers and the like, Country fit right in and its leads did it justice.

Wilford Brimley even makes an appearance and does very well; I’ll always love him for Our House, a 2-season family-oriented TV show that I watched when I was little.  Looking back, I watched far too much Touched by an Angel-type television; it exposed me to certain actors and a certain style I guess, but I doubt if that crap was ultimately good for me.  Anyway, moving on, I think the story in Country absolutely does have a positive message worth hearing, mostly, and should be remembered for what it did well.  It’s a simple movie, uncomplicated and focused, giving us one direction to lean in and one family to love.  In that way, it succeeded, but watching it all these years later, it is a little simple, a little sappy, and doesn’t stand up perfectly straight.  You give films like these a pass because they’re emotional and they’re dated, but then you remember that there are magnificent movies from ever era, perfect pieces of cinema from every year, and perhaps being forgiving just because, to something from 1984 (which boasts Amadeus, The Natural, Karate Kid, and The Killing Fields), is going a little too easy.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (1920x1080p), the video quality of the Blu-ray is poor but rich enough, if you’ll excuse the semi-related pun.  The quality is by no means impressive, but audiences will understand what year they’re watching and how technology has changed over time.  At least the transfer was done properly, with no glaring issues, so the film watches as it would have at the time and doesn’t fail its standard.

Audio – The disc was done in English, with an option of English subtitles, and available audio commentary by film historian Lee Gambin.  That’s it, no other languages or subtitles or options, you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.  The sound is fine, keeping everything in mind, you won’t expect or receive better, and it’s nice that there weren’t significant problems in the transfer, so cling to that.

Extras – The only bonus features are four trailers for films from this company.

Final Thoughts

Recommended.  While Country isn’t an amazing film on its own, it’s at least a small sliver of cinematic history to enjoy and reflect upon, a movie that worked and had a message and tried its best 35 years ago, which is not nothing.  It features solid performances and a simply story, so you won’t hear many complaints from me; how many modern movies can honestly claim the same?  But its also far from perfection, an uncomplicated tale of an American life that we all know exists and aren’t super-excited to watch films about.  The video is par for the era, the audio is lackluster, and there aren’t many special features, so leave the technical aspects behind and focus on the content, which isn’t terrible.  Lange is good, Shepard is good, the plot is good-ish; sometimes you can’t give a product your ringing endorsement, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold some intrinsic worth.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ – Vide0

☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 


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Movie Review – The Devil’s Advocate

Category : Movie Review

Director: Taylor Hackford

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino, Charlize Theron

Year: 1997

Had it not been for the casting of Keanu Reeves, The Devil’s Advocate might have been the best movie ever made.  I exaggerate of course, but only a little, I really think this film is that special, and I really think Reeves is that debilitating.  He’s done better recently, I think he finally grew up, but he’s been awful countless times, and I’ve never been a fan.  Now, you have to remember how big a deal he used to be, how huge a star he was, despite his lack of talent, with movies like Point Break, Dracula, Speed, Johnny Mnemonic, and Chain Reaction all coming out in the 90s before this film.  But watching back, I don’t see how anyone can claim otherwise, would even try to make a case that he was a tremendous actor who elevated the features he was in.  If it had not been for his overacting, I honestly think that Devil’s Advocate would be remembered as being near-perfect, a scintillating drama that has it all.

Young and suspiciously perfect lawyer Kevin Lomax has yet to lose a case, either prosecuting or defending, and Gainesville, Florida is becoming too small for his big ego.  He knows juries so well, almost magically well, can tell which way they’re leaning by the shoes they wear and they way they hold their heads, and that has helped him become the best damn trail lawyer in the country.  New York City even gets wind of his success, and one firm, run by the vivacious John Milton, asks for Kevin’s services with check in hand and perks to spare.  So he and his beautiful wife Mary Anne move to the Big Apple to become hot shots, and everything seems to be looking up.  But how can Milton possibly be so rich and powerful, how can Lomax continuously win, and why does the competition keep dropping like flies?  It’s almost as if the hand of God is touching events, or perhaps the hand of someone much less heavenly.

I know it sounds dramatic, but I really do think that Devil’s Advocate is almost perfect, that it could have gone down as a phenomenal film in the annals of cinematic history, had it been for one major casting change.  I get why Reeves is the lead, he was a big new name, he was hunky in a very fresh way, it makes perfect sense.  But he’s definitely the weakest link, maybe the only weak link, and looking back on the film 20 years later, that fact seems rather obvious.  Even he has a couple nice scenes, but the rest is pathetic; his accent, his melodrama, his fake swagger.  It’s really too bad, because everything else is flawless.  It’s an awesome story, laden with philosophy, and you’ll find yourself taking the side of the devil on your shoulder more than once.  And the other actors, holy cow, they are incredible; Pacino in a role he was born to play, Theron in an early part that already showed her amazing ability, Jeffrey Jones (Ed Rooney), Connie Nielsen, Craig T. Nelson.  They all worked, the plot works, the mood is intense, the dialogue is excellent (apart from the way that Reeves delivers it), it’s sexy, it’s wrong, it’s weird; I wish I could love it 100%.  But I’ll take it as it is, which is still strong enough for a rotational re-watch and a place on my shelf.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – Vice

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Adam McKay

Starring: Christian Bale, Sam Rockwell, Amy Adams, Steve Carell

Release: December 25th, 2018

The Big Short was brilliant, and Vice will be too.  This time in our history changed everything, and this man was the puppeteer, it’s going to be fun to see a comedic-yet-serious take on it from this director’s point of view.  And these actors as these figures?  That’s just too incredible to put into words.  I’m on board.


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Movie Trailer – Rocketman

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Dexter Fletcher

Starring: Taron Egerton

Release: May 17th, 2019

Fletcher is an actor, not really a director, his only other real feature being Eddie the Eagle, which also starred Egerton and which also was simply good, not great, which is what I almost guarantee from Rocketman.  Elton John is a phenomenon, obviously, but this movie won’t do him justice, I’m not sure it’s even possible, so why even try?


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Movie Review – Private Life

Category : Movie Review

Director: Tamara Jenkins

Starring: Kathryn Hahn, Paul Giamatti, Kayli Carter

Year: 2018

Every time I think that Netflix is crashing and burning they redeem themselves with something spectacular, this time with Private Life, one of the best dramas I’ve seen this year and a film that I know will stick with me long past Oscar season.  These Netflix originals need to be taken seriously, at least when they are this good, and we need to start thinking of them as true cinematic and artistic pieces, not as some made-for-TV special or web-based indie flick.  Private Life is a true gem and a surprisingly excellent movie, regardless of which platform it appears on, and it needs to be treated with the respect it deserves.  I might not have thought the same coming in and sitting down, but the trailer does not do this feature justice; it is a brilliant bit of filmmaking that is easily one this year’s absolute best.

Richard and Rachel are trying to have a baby.  Well, they’ve been trying to have a baby for a very long time now, unsuccessfully, and as they have heard countless times during the process, they aren’t getting any younger.  Richard has only one testicle and some blockage issues, Rachel’s eggs are old and few, it’s very unlikely that they will ever have children naturally.  So they try IVF but that doesn’t work, and they consider adoption but that falls through, their options becoming more & more limited with each passing failure.  Their last hope might be a donor egg, but that choice comes with complications, such as finding someone to donate and conceptualizing a future with a child who only shares biology with one parent.  But a relative coming to stay with them might be the hope Richard and Rachel needed to cling to, as suddenly there’s one last chance that they could finally become parents.

If you saw The Meyerowitz Stories last year, you know how great these Netflix, New York, adulting-is-hard dramodies can be, and how they can hold their place among the best despite their under-the-radar status.  Private Life is just as strong, just as special, an emotional wreck of a tale that should resonate with slightly older audiences because they have been there, done that.  I’m a parent who happens to have had an easy time having children, but I could empathize with these characters so easily, sitting alongside them in the waiting room, listening to their fights fueled by misplaced anger.  Hahn and Giamatti were unbelievably perfect for this film, and they were unrecognizable in their roles, they immersed themselves so completely within them.  They were hilarious, distraught, paid respect to the weight of this strange process, and always felt alive within the story, never letting it overwhelm them.  And the side actors supported the action impeccably: Kayli Carter, Molly Shannon, John Carroll Lynch, Denis O’Hare.  The mood was heavy and airy in turns, the comedy hit me just right, and we need more from Tamara Jenkins, three movies aren’t enough (Slums of Beverly Hills, The Savages, Private Life).  Netflix hit one out of the park this time, and I hope we don’t forget it.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆