Monthly Archives: February 2013

  • -

Movie Trailer – The Numbers Station

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Kasper Barfoed
Starring: John Cusack, Malin Akerman, Liam Cunningham
Release: April 18th, 2013

Oh, John Cusack.  Right after I say how adorable and wonderful you are?  Bad timing.  Sure, you’re lovable, and I’m sure Malin will think so by the end of the movie.  But first you’ll have to uncover some things, shoot some people, run around, say “Get down!” a dozen times, and generally be in an awful movie.  I’m very disappointed in you.


  • -

Movie Review – Eight Men Out

Category : Movie Review

Director: John Sayles
Starring: John Cusack, Charlie Sheen, D.B. Sweeney
Year: 1988

The first time I ever heard of ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson was in Field of Dreams.  A great movie with a great story, it’s a must see for any baseball fan, and Kevin Costner’s finest hour.  I don’t know why, but the history of the White Sox and ‘Shoeless’ Joe is something that everyone can relate to; a simple man put in a tough spot with no easy answer.  Eight Men Out expands on that story, putting faces to a scandal that changed the game of baseball and is still relevant one hundred years later.
The White Sox scandal of 1919 will be infamous for eternity.  Underpaid, overworked, young, and angry, the players of the best team to ever play the game decided to do the unthinkable; throw the World Series.  In a deal that would give them more money than they could possibly make playing as hard as they could, a group of unbeatable players beat themselves.  Known now as the Black Sox, one team changed a city, a sport, and an idealistic nation.
This is definitely a film for baseball fans more so than movie buffs.  If you love baseball, if you loved Field of Dreams, if you think John Cusack is adorable, than this is for you.  If you’re looking for an acting clinic than look elsewhere.  As an avid Cardinals fan and a member of the Cusack Fan Club, I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the history.  As a critic, I laid off a little so I could enjoy myself.  That’s not to say the film is horribly made, but it is a who’s who of B-list actors and their B-list talent.  Watch because you love the game, but give it some slack or you might be underwhelmed.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰


  • -

Movie Review – Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Category : Movie Review

Director: Stephen Daldry
Starring: Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock
Year: 2011

Any film about a tragic event will be clouded by personal perspectives.  That of the director, the actors, and the audience as well.  When it’s a historic event, we can remove ourselves in time and space, allowing us to judge the film as a movie about a tragedy, rather than a tragedy shown to us in movie form.  When it comes to 9/11, it is too fresh for Americans to divorce themselves from.  We were alive, we saw it, we heard it, and we felt it.  So it’s difficult for us to ignore whatever emotions we experienced when talking about or watching a film about this subject.  As I review this movie, I can’t help being both an American and a critic, but I’ll attempt to let both speak equally.
In the wake of the devastating events of September 11th, 2001, a boy names Oskar deals with his own personal tragedy; the death of his father.  Oskar sees the world in a different light than most children, having been tested for Asperger’s Syndrome but with no definitive conclusion.  The only person who understands his intelligence and his methods is his father, a German-American jeweler who likes to send his son on “reconnaissance” missions in order to force him to talk to other people and experience the world outside his own neurosis.  After finding a clue hidden inside his parents’ closet, Oskar attempts his most daring mission yet, as he searches for the answer to a mystery and also for a way to recapture the memory of what he has lost.
As you might guess, this is a not a film for the weak.  It is beautiful, heart-breaking, moving, upsetting; it reopens any wounds or fears that you might have had after 9/11 and pulls them wide open.  In a time when politics and media claimed this tragedy as their own, this film is a very personal story, a microcosm of pain and suffering that anyone who has lost a loved one can relate to.  Slightly obvious and heavy handed, it is still a very real portrayal of what happened that day and how it effected the lives of so many.
Now, putting that aside, let’s talk about the movie; it wasn’t great.  Yes, the emotion was there, and yes it captured a feeling that is hard to put your finger on, but that has been done before and with much more skill.  The acting didn’t help much, as Horn, Bullock, and even Hanks were all less than stellar, evidenced by their lack of Oscar Nominations, despite the hype surrounding this film.  The only actor deserving of a nod, Max von Sydow, got one, and most likely saved this movie from being bad.  There was beauty in this film and real pain, but there were also flaws, and sadly the flaws were big enough that, based on surprisingly low critic and audience ratings, they stopped us from loving a lovable film.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰


  • -

Movie Trailer – The Internship

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Shawn Levy
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson
Release: June 7th, 2013

I commented on my trailer of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone that the sun had set on Ferrell/Carell/Vaughn type comedies and that we could all agree on that.  Apparently somebody didn’t get the memo.  This movie looks awful.  Just plain awful.  Sure we all liked Wedding Crashers, but that ship has sailed.  Levy needs to understand this and stop directing horrible movies: Big Fat Liar, Just Married, Cheaper by the Dozen, The Pink Panther, Date Night, Real Steel.  Wow.  What a list.


  • -

Movie Review – Bound

Category : Movie Review

Director: Andy Wachowski

Starring: Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, Joe Pantoliano

Year: 1996

I love when I’m surprised by a movie.  It doesn’t matter if it’s in a good way or in a bad, I love when I rate a movie at the end and that rating is not at all what I had expected.  Now, with that said, I don’t like being tricked by a movie.  I don’t like getting one thing when I expected another.  But Bound, in both areas, gave me what I wanted; a film that was what I knew it would be, but better than I could have ever imagined.

The story is a classic one; a mob deal gone wrong, everyone suspecting everyone else of stealing the dough, plots within plots, and a few gunfights tossed in.  But the real drama revolves not around the Mob, but around the budding romance of Corky and Violet, two women who share a connection in this twisted, underground world.  As Vi’s money-laundering boyfriend Caesar weaves his own webs, she and Corky attempt to find a way out; out of the Family, out of his control, and into a world of their very own.

I was blown away; I just didn’t see it coming.  Part film noir, part love story, part crime/suspense, part dry comedy, this film has it all.  With a David Fincher flare, Wachowski’s directing was superb, with beautifully simple scenes and sensory-heavy moments.  The acting was spot on; perfect dead pan humor and crime drama homage.  The details were good, but the love story drove the plot.  Tilly and Gershon were a perfect pair.  This film has a reputation for explicit lesbianism, but it just shows how desensitized we must be to heterosexual sex in modern movies; the love scenes, while quite adult, were far less graphic and vulgar than your typical Hollywood sex scenes.  With a great love story, a cool vibe, some terrific acting (especially by Pantoliano), and a wickedly sick sense of humor, Bound may not be for everyone, but it’s a must-see movie for any movie buff.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


  • -

Sports – The Cleveland Browns

Category : Sports

Let me preface my post with this; I like the Browns.  They have a great fan base, they play good defense, they have a long history, they’re not a cocky team.  And I like the direction that they’re headed; Mike Lombardi comes over to help develop the team, new coach Chud will help the offense right away, his OC Norv is good at his job, although I hate him, and Ray Horton seems to be the real deal at DC.  With a new staff and solid players like RB Richardson, OLs Mack & Thomas, NT Taylor, LBs Gocong & Jackson, CB Haden, there is hope that this team can become legitimate.
But there is one thing I would change that seems to be ignored but that could really jump-start this organization; a uniform change.  I know it sounds silly, a new color scheme can’t win football games, but Cleveland has talent, they just need confidence, support, and a mental boost.  A uniform change can do these things.  It worked for the 1997 Broncos & Buccaneers.  It worked for the 2000 Rams.  It can work for the 2013 Browns.
Look at the picture up top.  Yes, those are the current uniforms.  They call themselves the Browns and have chosen the color orange as their logo.  Ridiculous.  This isn’t Halloween, you’re not a piece of candy corn, think outside the box!  I’m not suggesting throwing away history, but a revamp is necessary and could help change the culture of what has become a losing team.  Check out these pics below.

Any of these concepts is an improvement over the current uniforms.  And they show that you can still
 honor your past while keeping up with the modern era.  The orange helmets have GOT to go, obviously.  And some sort of symbol is needed, even if it’s just the letter ‘B’.  I really like the first picture and I think Browns fans could get on board with it as well.  While playing Madden I created a Browns look featuring a bulldog with colors and symbols much like the third picture, but I think this is perhaps too deviant from the current standard.

Whichever way you want to do it, I think it’s past time to make some waves.  Change your uniforms, change your colors, change your attitude, but change something so that the improvements you’ve made in the off-season don’t go to waste.


  • -

Movie Trailer – Monsters University

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Dan Scanlon
Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi
Release: June 21st, 2013

At the risk of speaking blasphemy, I don’t think this looks very good.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Disney/Pixar, and I’m a huge fan of Monsters Inc.  But, was any of that trailer supposed to be funny?  Because none of it was, and that concerns me.  Perhaps they’re saving some humor for the movie and they don’t want to spoil the surprise.  Perhaps.  But hey, you gotta get us in the theatre, and right now I’m not going.


  • -

Movie Trailer – Into the White

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Petter Naess
Starring: Florian Lukas, David Kross, Rupert Grint
Release: April 12th, 2013

I’m a sucker for this type of movie; World War, pilots, extreme conditions, brutality.  It’s like a combination of Alive and The Bridge on the River Kwai.  Add a little Ron Weasley and I’m in.


  • -

Movie Review – Bel Ami

Category : Movie Review

Director: Declan Donnellan, Nick Ormerod
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman
Year: 2012

The winner of You Vote, I Review this week was Bel Ami, a film that I didn’t know a lot about past its trailer.  The directors are unknowns, Pattinson (Harry Potter, Twilight) is just coming into his own, and Ricci & Thurman have been relatively quiet since their respective hay days.  So, I wasn’t sure what to expect from a period piece made from all these pieces.  Turns out, I had nothing to worry about.
The story centers around Georges, a young ex-cavalry officer in 1890s France who is trying to make a name for himself.  His dabbles in writing for a revolutionary newspaper are laughable and his luck seems to have run out; that is until he meets not influential men but their wives.  Georges’ charm, looks, and luck land him in the laps of some of Paris’ most beautiful and cunning women.  As he ascends the ladder of prestige, events begin to outpace him, and he struggles to find his place in this web of sex, treachery, and more power than he ever imagined.
I was very pleasantly surprised by this film.  First, the acting was terrific:  Pattinson was tortured, Ricci was sexy, and Thurman was intriguing.  Second, the pace of the film was perfect; not to fast, not too slow, with excellent music in the background driving the plot.  But perhaps the best part of the film was its relevance. This story could have been placed in any time period and come across just as well.  It could have been modern; it could have been a story of people striving for power by any means necessary right now.  And that is a the sign of a great film; a story that supersedes time & place, and has the acting prowess to support it, which is exactly what Bel Ami delivers.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰


  • -

Movie Review – Ted

Category : Movie Review

Director: Seth McFarlane
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Joel McHale
Year: 2012

I might me a little obsessed with the Academy Awards right now, but let’s take a break from that and talk about a movie that never aspired to be anything close to Oscar-worthy; Ted.  I had no real plans to watch this movie, not being a huge fan of raunchy comedies, but I was hanging out with a friend and this was available, so we thought why not, a guy’s night is a perfect time to watch a guy’s movie.  Turns out, it may have been the best time to watch it, but apparently timing doesn’t magically turn crap into something good.
The title character, Ted, is a talking bear.  Yes he’s stuffed, but he’s alive; he feels, he laughs, he smokes pot, and he’s a pal to the end.  His best friend John is all grown up, but still lives and often sleeps with his teddy bear buddy.  This cause trouble with his live-in girlfriend Lori, as he can never fully turn into an adult and start taking life seriously as long as he’s skipping work to get stoned.  As John and Lori’s relationship hits a breaking point, Ted has to help his friend move on, which might just mean that he has to move out.
It’s as bad as it sounds.  It’s not awful, but it’s bad.  I felt confused through most of the movie, as it skipped back and forth between being a parody of a kid’s movie, a raunchy romp, a chick flick, a homage to the 80s, while doing each of these quite poorly.  I don’t mind crass humor, but it was pointless and juvenile.  I don’t mind a love story, but it was terribly acted and frigid.  I don’t even mind the occasional cameo, but don’t just throw Nora Jones into your movie for no reason and expect me not to question it.  McFarlane’s first attempt at a movie failed, as it was a step down from Family Guy, and that’s not what you want.
Positives?  I like Marky Mark, he’s cool and can be very funny.  He and Ted actually played off each other well and I laughed quite a bit.  Trouble is, my laughs were mainly “did that just happen?” laughs, as I tried to decide whether or not to be offended by every joke.  Mila Kunis is hot …and that’s about it.  Joel McHale was about as horrible an actor as is humanly possible.  So, no, not very many positives.  I can’t think of anyone that I would recommend this to, other than a boy who’s young enough to laugh at fart jokes, but then he wouldn’t be old enough to watch any of the rest of the movie, so that’s out.  Pass on grass, people.  And pass on Ted.

My rating: ✰ ✰