Month: July 2013

Movie Trailer – Out of the Furnace

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Scott Cooper
Starring: Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck,
Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker, Zoe Saldana
Release: December 6th, 2013

I feel like the trailer gives way too much of the movie away, but I still really want to see it.  I mean, I’m sure there’s more to it than the trailer shows, and I’m also sure that the acting will be pretty excellent, so why not give it a chance.  I’ll watch anything with Christian Bale.

DVD Review – Boy

Category : DVD Review

Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Taika Waititi, James Rolleston, Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu
Year: 2010

I had no idea that I had seen Taika Waititi’s work before.  I chose to watch this movie thinking that it was a completely random film from New Zealand that got some good reviews.  While I was watching it, I thought that it reminded me of Eagle vs Shark, which is the only other movie out of New Zealand that I had ever seen. Turns out, not only did Waititi write, direct, and act in Eagle vs Shark, but he also went on to work alongside the main character of that movie (Jemaine Clement) in Flight of the Conchords.  Now fast forward to Boy and Waititi is once again acting, directing and writing a strange comedy/drama about the people of New Zealand, their awesome accents, and their unique culture.

The Movie

Boy is the story of Boy, a kid from a small town in New Zealand whose imagination is larger than the confines of his limited world.  He lives in a ramshackle house with his brother Rocky, a bunch of young cousins, and his grandmother, who sometimes leaves for large periods of time and puts Boy in charge.  He entertains his brother with fictional stories of how things came to be; how Rocky has magic powers, leading to the death of their mother in childbirth.  How their father escaped prison using only a spoon and plans to take them both to see Boy’s idol in concert; Michael Jackson.  His life is predictable and boring, that is until his father comes home.
Alamein, the father, has been in prison but was recently released.  He and his new “gang”, the Crazy Horses, have come home to find the money they stole and buried before they were caught.  Alamein has not been a part of Boy’s life since his mother died, and Rocky doesn’t know him at all.  But the boys attempt to reunite with their dad; going with him on drives, hanging out with his crew, and helping him dig for the buried treasure that he promises will buy them a better life.  But it’s not easy to bridge the gap between years, and Boy becomes confused by his new-found family and his desire to be a man in his father’s eyes, even when his father is no more than a boy himself.

I was completely blindsided by this movie.  I chose to watch it on a whim, didn’t have any expectations, and was totally surprised that it turned out to be an amazing film.  It was literally incredible; I couldn’t believe that a little movie from New Zealand made me feel the way that this one did.  It was a perfect story of boyhood; of the sadness of loss, the hope of a bright future, the disappointment that comes from believing too strongly in the perfection of a parent.  It was heartbreaking really; Boy’s attempt to force his father to love and accept him, Rocky’s assumption that this strange man didn’t want him or need him.  It was an emotionally charged film, made better by the amazing comedic content and timing.
It was funnier than I ever could have imagined.  The Michael Jackson references, the “gang” that was too ridiculous to know that they were ridiculous, the microwave that the kids assumed was a strange television.  The jokes were sometimes silly, sometimes subtle, but always spot on and well paired with a dramatic situation that needed some juxtaposition to make it bearable.  When I learned that Waititi had created both Boy and Eagle vs Shark I automatically compared the two.  They were similar in how they portrayed both main adult characters as juvenile and stuck in a world of play war & fantastic dreams.  But they were different in their comedic style.  The former uses timing and chagrin to make things funny; the latter uses awkward moments and ridiculous situations.  Both movies were good, but Boy took a step beyond good and became great.
It wasn’t like I cried my eyes out at the end of the movie because I was so moved by the father/son story.  And it wasn’t that I cracked up laughing the entire show, enjoying joke after joke.  I think the reason I liked the movie so much was because it found a balance between heartbreak and humor that is really hard to achieve.  It was moving but silly, making it not seem heavy while not seeming flippant.  I can only credit Waititi, since he basically did everything to make this movie what it was.  Maybe he learned a few things from his other projects, namely how to hold back while holding the audience’s interest.  He held mine, and I’m glad I watched this film that I had never heard of.  I would watch it again right now, and I would surely recommend it to anyone who is even slightly interested.


Video – With an aspect ration of 1.85:1, the video quality is what you’re looking for from a modern DVD.  The picture was nice; not amazing, but nice, with no problems and no reason to be disappointed.
Audio – The disc has two audio options: Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby Digital 2.0.  There are no subtitles in any languages; the film is in English.  The sound quality of the movie was quite good, with creative and well planned music throughout.
Extras – There are a few nice extras on the DVD.  You can learn a little about the distribution company, Kino Lorber, in a brief section called About Kino Lorber.  There is a theatrical trailer for the film, a forty minute segment called Interviews and B-Roll Footage, and a short film by Taika Waititi entitled Two Cars, One Night.

Final Thoughts

Highly RecommendedBoy was an absolutely awesome film, more so for being so unexpected.  It had heart, it was funny, it was relatable, and it left me wanting to pop it back in and rewatch it.  The video was a good quality, the music was excellent, and the extras were fun to watch.  This movie comes highly recommended by a guy who is very glad that he now owns the DVD.

✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ – Content
✰ ✰ ✰ – Video
✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ – Audio
✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ – Extras
✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ – Replay

Movie Trailer – The Canyons

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Paul Schrader
Starring: Lindsay Lohan, James Deen, Nolan Gerard Funk
Release: Auguts 2nd, 2013

This movie looks odd.  First off, Paul Schrader wrote Taxi Driver, American Gigolo, and Raging Bull.  So he knows his way around drama, but he hasn’t done a major project in a long time.  Secondly, I’ve seen a bunch of trailers for this movie; one that looks like a twisted sex thriller, a grindhouse version, one meant to be from the 30s, and another meant to be from the 50s.  So, I’m really confused.  Add in Lindsay Lohan and I have no idea what this is going to be like.

DVD Review – Vivan las Antipodas

Category : DVD Review

Director: Victor Kossakovsky 
Year: 2011

While I’m not a huge fan of documentaries, I try to give them a fair shot.  After all, documentary filmmakers are trying to shed light on a subject, open our eyes to a problem, give us a glimpse of a world that we don’t normally see.  And isn’t that what’s missing from so many major movies, a real reason for the film?  So many projects are throwaways, meant to make a profit more than anything.  But documentaries are created for a specific purpose, and for that I respect them.  Now, that doesn’t mean I always enjoy them, some are quite boring, but a few do come along that are both captivating and interesting and those are the ones that are worth looking out for.  If you’ve ever seen and liked Life in a Day you know what I’m talking about.  And I thought this movie would be just like that one, a great look at our planet in a breathtaking way.  Well, it was beautiful, I’ll give it that, but it was about as captivating as watching a glacier move.

The Movie

First off, what is an antipode?  Well, very simply, it is a direct or exact opposite.  Antipodes, in this sense, are places on Earth that are diametrically opposite each other on the globe.  So if you drilled a whole down through the ground under your house, dug a straight line directly through the Earth’s core and kept going, where would you pop out?  Apparently there are very few antipodes in the world that are both populated by humans, given the large percentage of water covering the surface.  It’s very rare to live in a place in which, directly under your feet, people are living their own lives “upside down”.  This documentary was created to examine the lives of the people, the beauty of the environments, the differences in culture, of those who live on opposite sides of the world.
The locations tell the story more than the few words spoken in the film.  The antipodes are the plot, and the environments of each spot are the background.  The first pair of opposites are a riverbank in Argentina and a booming city in China.  Second are a lake in Russia and a sheep farm in Chile.  Third are a village in Botswana and a volcano in Hawaii.  Lastly are the landscapes of Spain and New Zealand.  These locations are compared, juxtaposed, and ultimately shown to us as exact opposites in location but somehow similar in their variety.  The message seems to be that life on Earth is both abundant and original; that life exists in some strange and wonderful places that most of us may never see but that flourish in their own unique ways.

Maybe it sounds like an interesting documentary, one that really showcases the beauty of planet Earth and the people who call it home.  Perhaps the still pictures from the DVD are so vivid and stunning that you want to watch this film.  Well, don’t.  I had hope that it would be as good as Life In a Day, but it wasn’t, not at all.  I was very disappointed after watching the movie; I felt like I wasn’t given what was advertised, that I was denied something beautiful.  Now, maybe that’s not fair.  Maybe the director had a vision and met that goal perfectly.  Perhaps it’s my fault for creating expectations.  But I don’t think it’s too much to ask to want a documentary to be engrossing, not boring.
And boring it was, wow.  Every scene dragged and felt torturous.  It was like watching a plant grow using a fast-motion camera.  Except imagine that it’s just a normal camera and you still have to sit there and watch the plant grow even though you’d rather be doing almost anything else in the world.  The shots were just too long; someone needed to scream “cut!” about 10 minutes earlier in about every shot.  And I’m not exaggerating that much.  There were some extremely long pans of some extremely boring material; buzzards sitting on rocks, lava oozing centimeter by centimeter, a tour of what seemed to be the entire city of Shanghai.  If I wanted to get to know the planet in this way I would have just looked up some Google maps.
Now, it wasn’t all bad.  It was a very visual movie; you could have just watched it in complete silence and gotten the same out of it.  It was often relaxing, sometimes sleepy, and showed some cool parts of the world that I had never seen in such detail.  The movie was beautiful in that way.  The sunsets were great, the landscapes were lush, Earth was shown as a canvas wonderfully painted.  And the effects were pretty neat too.  It seems too simple to be any good, but just by turning the camera upside down or sideways the director showed us a literal view of the planet that we don’t often think about.  It was surprisingly surprising to think about the globe as a sphere.  Of course we know it is, but to literally see it that way was nice.  Still boring, but kind of nice.


Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the video quality was good.  Since the movie relied almost completely on the visual, I had expected the picture to be a little better than it was.  It was still good, the sunsets were brilliant, the plant life was detailed.  But it wasn’t a breathtaking movie; I wasn’t blown away by the visuals or the quality of the video.
Audio – There are very few audio options on the DVD.  You have the choice between Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo.  There is also an option to turn the subtitles to English or off.  There was nothing amazing about the sound quality and not much in the film to showcase.
Extras – There is only one extra on the disc; a trailer for the film.

Final Thoughts

Skip it. If you’re looking for an excellent documentary about the diversity of life on planet Earth, this isn’t it.  It might sound like it and look like it from the stills, but you might find it hard to stay awake long enough to see anything worth while.  There are some beautiful shots in the film, but a serious lack of editing created a very boring movie.  The video quality was good, the audio options few, and the extras nonexistent.  The stills from the film turn out to be all you really need to see, unless you enjoy watching a man walk, walk some more, and then keep walking.

– Content
✰ ✰ ✰ – Video
✰ ✰ – Audio
– Extras
– Replay

Movie Trailer – I Give It a Year

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Dan Mazer
Starring: Rose Bryne, Rafe Spall, Minnie Driver
Release: August 9th, 2013

Hmm…a British romantic comedy directed by the guy who wrote Borat.  I’m not really sure how that works.  I mean, the trailer looks OK I guess, but it definitely doesn’t look original.  It might end up being funny but not really that good.  So, I don’t know, maybe it’s one of those movies you watch when there’s literally nothing else available.

Movie Review – Tropic Thunder

Category : Movie Review

Director: Ben Stiller
Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black
Year: 2008

I first saw Tropic Thunder shortly after it came out on DVD.  I was surprised, to say the least.  It was funnier than I had expected.  Yes, it was goofy, insulting, and ridiculous.  But it was also rather satirical; poking fun at the movie industry, actors, and even audiences.  It was one of the more amusing movies I’d seen in a while, and I went ahead and bought it.  Well, I never actually watched my copy, so I was unsure how it might feel the second time around and five years later.  Turns out it was still silly, still tongue in cheek, but maybe not quite as hilarious as I had once thought.
The plot is a movie within a movie kind of thing.  Some of the biggest names in this fictional film industry have come together to create an epic Vietnam war masterpiece that tells a true tale of courage and survival.  The actors include Portnoy (a comedian famous for farting), Speedman (an aging action star), and Lazarus (a perennial Oscar winner).  When the movie falters and personalities clash, the director decides to put his actors in a real life situation in order to get them into gear.  However, real life soon turns deadly, and the actors find themselves fighting for their lives.  Can these larger-than-life personalities work together, or will the mission fail?
The movie is a lot to take.  There are a ton of pieces that can overwhelm you instead of crack you up.  All the big name actors pretending to be actors who think they’re in a movie about a true story, but it turns out they’re in real life no longer making a movie about a story that isn’t actually true.  Yeah.  It’s muddled to say the least, but thankfully the plot isn’t really the point.  It’s more about the message, about how ridiculous Hollywood is, about how strange actors can be, about how we as audiences pigeon hole actors into genres and never let them escape.  So this movie has a lot to say, but sometimes it gets lost in the wash.  But regardless, it’s a comedy first, and it delivers in that way.  It’s constantly funny; sometimes witty, sometimes shocking, sometimes stupid.  So no matter what type of comedy you like you ought to be able to find a way to laugh.  My favorite were the odd cameos; Nick Nolte, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Cruise.  It was obvious that these guys were having a great time making an over-the-top film that pokes fun at pretty much everything.  Don’t take this movie too seriously and it’ll be enjoyable.  It may not be as awesome as I first thought, but it’s still worth your time and worth a few laughs.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰

Movie Trailer – Seventh Son

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Sergey Bodrov
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore
Release: January 17, 2014

I don’t know how long this movie is, but how many action scenes can you possibly cram into it?  It just looks overdone, or overblown, or something.  And what’s with Jeff Bridges’ growly accent?  Do people who fight evil demons just talk weird?  It seems like that’s his new thing; killing creatures and speaking weirdly.  He’s a great actor, but I’m gonna pass on this one.

Sports – Hall of Fame Game

Category : Sports

The NFL Preseason kicks off in about a week; Sunday, August 4th at 8pm on NBC.  The game is between the Miami Dolphins and the Dallas Cowboys, and will be played at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, right next to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  If you’ve never been to the Hall, I highly recommend it.  I haven’t been in years but it’s an experience every football fan needs to have.  Apparently they’ve redone it recently and it’s even cooler, so I plan on checking it out ASAP.  The stadium itself is a great place to see a football game.  I went a few years back when it was Colts vs Redskins.  The stadium is so small that you feel like you’re watching a high school game and the players are literally right there.  Anyway, here’s a look at what to watch for during the game.

Miami – Last season actually went alright for the Dolphins.  They ended up 7-9, but they couldn’t score enough points, win on the road, or win in their division.  Those problems kept them out of the playoffs, but there were some signs that they are headed in the right direction.  Last year was the first season for HC Joe Philbin, his OC, his DC, and starting QB Ryan Tannehill.  He started all 16 games, threw only 12 TDs and 13 INTs.  Not good.  He’ll have to improve in his second year and avoid the sophomore slump if this young group hopes to improve on their first year as a unit.  They lost some key veterans: RB Reggie Bush, TE Anthony Fasano, CB Sean Smith, LB Karlos Dansby, OT Jake Long, and LB Kevin Burnett.  But they added some really good talent: WR Mike Wallace, TE Dustin Keller, LB Dannell Ellerbe, OT Tyson Clabo, CB Brent Grimes, and rookies DE Dion Jordan and CB Jamar Taylor.  If RBs Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller can step up, if Tannehill can improve and hit Wallace often, and if the defense can solidify then this team has the ability to be a tough matchup.  They’re not going to compete with the Patriots for the division, not while Tom Brady is healthy, but there is an outside chance that the ‘Fins could be a surprising Wild Card team.

Dallas – The ‘Boys went 8-8 last season and missed the playoffs.  Not good.  With the money they spend and the pressure put on them by their owner Jerry Jones they have got to do better this year.  Both QB Tony Romo and HC Jason Garrett are on the proverbial hot seat after failing to meet high expectations.  This team needs to win now and often.  The offensive reins have been handed to OC Bill Callahan, so he and Romo have to put up some points.  The defense will be run by new DC Monte Kiffin, Lane’s dad and longtime great Tampa Bay defensive coach.  Look for the defense to be improved and the offense to put together some TDs this season.  They lost a lot of players: DE Marcus Spears, CB Mike Jenkins, LB Dan Connor, RB Felix Jones, S Gerald Sensabaugh, WR Kevin Ogletree, and OG Derrick Dockery.  The players they added will have to fill the holes: S Will Allen, TE Dante Rosario, LB Justin Durant, DE Anthony Hargrove, and rookies C Travis Frederick, TE Gavin Escobar, and WR Terrance Williams.  The team has great TEs, good WRs, an RB in DeMarco Murray that has shown bursts of brilliance; there is no reason the offense shouldn’t click.  If the defense (especially the secondary) can keep up, then this is a team that can make and win in the playoffs.

Movie Trailer – The Lifeguard

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Liz W. Garcia
Starring: Kristen Bell, Mamie Gummer, David Lambert
Release: August 30th, 2013

You can’t do a coming-of-age story starring a 33-year-old.  There are rules!  And also, there are already a thousand similar movies being released right now; apparently everyone grows up around July.  Now, that said, coming-of-age stories can be great.  I think The Way, Way Back will be.  But I think The Spectacular Now and this one will both suck.

Thought – Going Green

Category : Thought

I’m no hippie, but I try to do my part.  In Death to Smoochy Ed Norton is always saying, “You can’t change the world, but you can make a dent.”  A silly movie, sure, but a pretty relevant quote.  I’m not saving the planet with the “green” things that I’m doing, but I am making a very small difference.
I use a reel mower.  That’s the kind you see people in the 50s pushing around.  When it came time to buy one, there were so many reasons to not buy a gas mower and so many reasons to buy a reel.  1) It only cost $99.  2) It uses no gas and no oil.  3) It’s a great way to get exercise.  4) My kids can be around and I don’t have to worry about horrible accidents.  And 5) It makes no noise.  When I’m out on a beautiful summer evening there is nothing that annoys me more than the extremely loud roar of my neighbors riding lawn mower that seems useless in his 12′ by 12′ yard.
I do cloth diapers.  Again, there weren’t enough reasons to do disposable, and so many reasons to do cloth.  1) Its costs about $200 to diaper your child for their entire life.  2) It’s more comfortable and less irritating to their skin.  3) You get WAY less blowouts.  And 4) It may actually help them to potty train earlier than a child in disposables.
I recycle.  With the new programs that many cities offer, there’s really no excuse not to.  They often provide a bin, pickup, and disposal.  All you have to do is seperate your trash and they do the rest.  Some places there is more work involved, like driving your recycling to a designated location, but every load of recycling is one less load going into a landfill.
My point is, there are a ton of small ways that you can make a small difference.  I don’t do everything I can to “save the planet”, but I try to find a couple viable options that I know I can do.  It only takes a little extra effort; pushing the mower yourself, washing diapers every few days, taking the time to separate your garbage.  But this little effort is actually making a difference; small, but real.  We can all find one or two ways to contribute, it’s not that hard, it’s not going to kill us, and it just might matter.
I watched a documentary once called No Impact Man.  A family tried to have zero environmental impact & no carbon footprint for one year.  It was hard, it was work, but they did it.  And the lesson they learned was that it is nearly impossible for us to give up everything in today’s modern society.  They tried to live without toilet paper and a refrigerator.  And while they survived, they saw these things as conveniences that they couldn’t live without.  But they also discovered many things that they could give up; hours in front of the TV, car rides short distances, wasted spending.  And what I took away from the movie is that we don’t need to be hippies in order to make a small difference.  We can all make tiny sacrifices in a few areas of our lives, put in a little extra muscle & time,  and it just might add up to something big.