Month: October 2013

Movie Trailer – Labor Day

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin
Release: January 31st, 2014

With such great actors as Winslet & Brolin, I just assumed this would be an excellent film.  It’s getting Oscar buzz, it’s high emotion, but I’ve got to say, I think it looks bad.  I wasn’t expecting sappy romance or Tobey McGuire narration.  It looks more like Bridges of Madison County and less like No Country For Old Men.  I have serious doubts about this one.

Sports – 2013 NFL Picks, Week 9

Category : Sports

Here are my NFL Week 9 Picks
(12-1 last week, 82-38 for the season)
Bye teams: Ari, Den, Det, Jax, NYG, SF

Cin @ Mia – Everyone is ready to anoint the Bengals as the Super Bowl champions, which should mean that they lose this game & look completely befuddled.  Cinci needs to buck the trend of losing to bad teams, and I think this is the week they do it vs a pretty bad Dolphins team.

KC @ Buf – The Chiefs showed that they are beatable last week in a close win over the Brownies.  They’re not an elite scoring team and so are always one defensive lapse away from a loss.  That said, their D is the best in the league and I don’t see them letting the Bills score much.

Atl @ Car – There’s not much hope for the Falcons as they are in a free fall & can’t win on the road.  The Panthers boast the league’s stingiest defense and will be after Matty Ice all day.  I think it’s about time for Atlanta to admit defeat & trade Tony Gonzalez.  Why not, right?

Min @ Dal – This one would be a no-brainer if it weren’t for Dallas’ penchant for finding a way to lose.  But Romo & the Boys score a ton of points (2nd only to Denver), win at home (3-1), get to play an awful Vikings team that seems to be constantly confused, and should win this game.

NO @ NYJ – The Jets are confusing, beating the Pats one week & getting creamed by the Bengals the next.  They definitely prefer to play at home, which is in their favor, but I think the Saints will prove too much for them.  If Andy Dalton can light them up what can Drew Brees do?

Ten @ STL – I like what I saw from the Rams last week, almost beating the Seahawks.  The trouble is, they have Kellen Clemons as their QB & he can only take them so far.  I think they have enough in their favor to win this game, one that could be the most evenly matched of the week.

SD @ Was – The only team that has allowed more points this year than Washington is Jacksonville.  That’s not the sort of company you want to be in.  After getting lit up by Peyton & the Broncos last week, I look for the Redskins to lose in similar fashion to Phillip & the Chargers.

Phi @ Oak – The Raiders are playing decent ball under the radar.  Their defense is solid, they do very well at home, but their offense just doesn’t score enough points.  Pryor has a ton of ability, but he needs to get into the endzone more if this team has any hope of making a late season playoff run.

TB @ Sea – This could be a sad, sad game.  The Seahawks are unbeaten at home & boast the 3rd highest net points on the season.  The Bucs on the other hand are winless & score less per game than everyone except the Jaguars.  This could be a big blowout with Seattle getting yet another win.

Bal @ Cle – This one’s a toss-up, as neither team is playing well & no one seems to have the advantage.  The Brownies gave KC a run for their money last week so maybe that gives them the confidence needed to beat the Super Bowl champs who aren’t playing like an elite team right now.

Pit @ NE – People want to say that Tom Brady is washed up & that the Pats are no good, but they’re still one of the best teams in the AFC even though they’re not playing lights out.  Their D is strong, Brady finds ways to win, and they’ll only get better every week until the playoffs.

Ind @ Hou – The Colts are coming off a bye week & a big win over the Broncos.  The Texans are coming off five straight losses.  Even though these division games tend to be tight, I don’t see much of a competition in this one as Luck & Indy have the much better team & should win.

Chi @ GB – Earlier in the year I’m sure this looked like a great MNF matchup, but not so much anymore.  The Bears are hurting, with Cutler out & McCown in.  The Pack, meanwhile, are hot & undefeated at home.  It’s still a good rivalry, but this game should be all Green Bay all the time.

Movie Trailer – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: The Russo Brothers
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson
Release: April 4th, 2014

I will never understand comic books.  I read novels so I can picture a story.  I watch movies so I can see a story.  I don’t like comics because I don’t want to see still images of the story I’m imagining.  All or nothing, I don’t want some crappy in-between version.  And so, of course, I don’t like comic book movies.  But even if I was more open to them they almost always suck, combining bad actors with bad action and bad dialogue.  Why would I watch this movie?  And more importantly, why would you?

Movie Review – Bad Grandpa

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jeff Tremaine
Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll
Year: 2013

If you were a teenager in the early 2000s and you watched a little MTV you probably remember Jackass.  It was a ridiculous show in which idiots did stupid things, but for some reason it was wonderful.  Maybe it was the cast, a bunch of buddies that enjoyed hurting themselves and making unsuspecting passersby extremely uncomfortable: Bam Margera, Ryan Dunn, Chris Pontius, Steve-O, Wee Man, and of course Johnny Knoxville.  The TV show would spawn a few movies and launch Knoxville into semi-stardom, eventually leading to Bad Grandpa, a Jackassesque film that is a fake movie and a reality show all rolled into one.  It may not have the wild stunts that the original program had and it doesn’t star the old gang, but the Candid Camera feel is still alive, the gross-out factor is still high, and there’s a bit of magic left.
Surprisingly there’s a tiny story that flows throughout the movie, even though most of the participants don’t know they’re on camera.  Knoxville plays Irving, a dirty old man whose wife has just died.  Free at last, he plans to make the most out of what life is left to him, but there’s a complication.  His crackhead daughter is on her way to jail, leaving behind a boy who needs shipped to his father.  Irving grudgingly takes his grandson Billy on a wild road trip across the country in order to get him off his hands once & for all.  But he never suspected that this little man might be a perfect partner in crime; helping him to steal food, hit on girls, carry bodies, win money, and ultimately enjoy a grandpa/grandson relationship that neither of them had ever known.  When they reach their destination, they will have a tough decision to make; do they go their separate, boring ways or return to their hell-raising, bond-forming adventure.

If you were a fan of Jackass chances are you’ll enjoy Bad Grandpa.  It’s not exactly the same, as there’s a lot less physical injury and a lot more fake-out.  But the heart of the pranks remain the same; feces-flying, balls-swinging, curses-shouting fun that is intended to shock, entertain, and generally amuse the people making the show even more that audiences.  That’s one thing that makes these guys great; they’re doing this for themselves and they’re having a great time.  There’s something contagious in the fun they’re having that makes you laugh along, even when you feel embarrassed & uncomfortable.  And there are a lot of those moments, times when you wish you could turn away because you feel so bad for the unsuspecting victims, but you just can’t.  No one gets harmed in what is ultimately good natured humor, but I sure wouldn’t have wanted to be in the dark when some old man and his brat destroyed my friends’ wedding or asked me to put a corpse in a car trunk.
The movie itself was so-so, though they weren’t out to win any Oscars.  Knoxville was solid as Irving and Nicoll was pretty convincing as Billy, but neither of them are amazing actors.  They come off as guys doing a good job keeping a straight face in comedic situations, which is exactly what they were.  The film was funny throughout, but there were not many moments when I lost it or thought it was incredibly hilarious.  I laughed a lot, so they got me, but it was more continuous chuckling then a ton of laughing out loud.  They kept the movie short, which was important, because the jokes started to get a little old by the end and there wasn’t much left to be done or said.  The horny grandpa & potty-mouthed kid routine worked, but I was ready for them to be done just in time for the end.  And at the end there were some great outtakes, which actually made the movie a little better, making me feel like I was in on the joke and not being tricked by it.  All in all a funny film that’s not going to be on my list of top comedies, but one that I enjoyed & would recommend, if with care.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰

Movie Trailer – A Perfect Man

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Kees Van Oostrum
Starring: Liev Schrieber, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Joelle Carter
Release: November 1st, 2013

This movie looks absolutely horrible.  First off, the actors aren’t good ones.  Next, the premise is contrived.  And lastly, it’s supposed to have the answers to all of life’s questions?  Lo dudo.  I think I’ll pass & you ought to too.

Movie Review – Martha Marcy May Marlene

Category : Movie Review

Director: Sean Durkin
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, John Hawkes, Sarah Paulson
Year: 2011

I’ll try not to make any Full House references in this review, but it’s got to be noted that Elizabeth Olsen is the little sister of twins Mary-Kate & Ashley.  Along with two other movies in 2011, she made her film debut in this one and has moved on to some pretty big projects: the Oldboy remake & another Godzilla movie.  So watching this film I tried to give her a little bit of slack knowing that she’s an amateur actor and that the part of an escaped cult member can’t be an easy one to play.  She ended up delivering a solid performance and showed why she might someday be a big star.  As hard as it is to define, some people have that “it” factor, and I believe that Olsen is one of them.
Martha, of Marcy May as she’s called by her new friends, is a girl searching for something that is apparently hard to find.  Young, alone, and impressionable, she joins a commune starting a sustainable farm that seems to have all the happiness in the world.  They are led by Patrick, a charismatic leader who takes all the women in the group under his wing and teaches them how to be leaders themselves.  But there is a price to pay to be a part of the family; hard work, rules, and a giving of yourself that will not be easy.  When Martha finds that her new life is one she can’t handle anymore, she turns to her estranged sister and brother-in-law, Lucy & Ted.  They lead a respectable, wealthy existence and Martha’s new lifestyle is one that doesn’t mesh.  As she attempts a return to normalcy, ‘Marcy May’ can’t escape her old habits or the constant fear that her past will find her.
For a young actress, Olsen delivers a very nice character that is both believable and haunting.  It’s an understated performance in an understated movie, and that always makes me a happy audience member.  The horror and the scars of the cult are well portrayed, but not made into a Hollywood farce.  And John Hawkes as the cult leader it spot on; creepy, engaging, and alluringly evil.  Olsen & Hawkes together work well, as do Olsen & Paulson, and the present day scenes are intermixed quite nicely with the past in a way that isn’t tricky but is very enjoyable to watch.  There’s nothing in the film that will blow you away, but it’s a tight movie with real emotion that truly shows the torture of paranoia and the difficulty of fitting in when your life has been anything but normal.  Not as easy watch, but one that is compelling, realistic, and memorable.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰

Movie Trailer – Charlie Countryman

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Fredrik Bond
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, Mads Mikkelson
Rupert Grint, Melissa Leo, Vincent D’Onofrio, John Hurt
Release: November 15th, 2013

This film might not end up being that great, but at least it caught my attention.  I like seeing Shia in an edgy role, although I’m not sure I’ll like seeing ERW do a fake accent.  Who knows, maybe it’ll all add up to a good movie, but I’d say that’s 50/50.

Movie Review – Meet the Parents

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jay Roach
Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Teri Polo
Year: 2000

Some people really don’t like Ben Stiller, and I get that.  He’s done some really dumb movies, ones that deserve your ire.  Duplex, Along Came Polly, The Heartbreak Kid; all very bad films.  But Meet the Parents isn’t one of them.  If you’re not a fan of Stiller because you didn’t like There’s Something About Mary, then you’ve got to give this one a chance.  Every once in a while a cast just clicks, the chemistry between a duo just works, and the movie becomes an unexpected success because of it.  That’s what happened here.  This isn’t your typical stupid Stiller comedy complete with semen jokes.  This is something more, a very honest & hilarious movie that features one phenomenal actor who loosened up and one passable comedian who elevated his game & toned down the dumb.  Films like this don’t come along every day and they deserve a leap of faith.
Gaylord “Greg” Focker is a man on a mission and what he wants is simple; for his future in-laws to like him.  He is planning to propose to his live-in girlfriend Pam but has to put it on hold when her sister suddenly announces her own wedding.  So heading to the Byrnes household for the weekend might not be the perfect place to pop the question, but it will give Greg the opportunity to meet the parents & to win them over.  The problem is Jack, Pam’s over-protective father.  Before Greg gets his blessing he must prove that he is deserving of joining the Byrnes family “Circle of Trust”, whatever that might entail.  And as events outpace the well-meaning Greg, he begins to dig himself deeper & deeper into the shit; spray painting a cat, catching the house of fire, discussing breast pumps, and generally making an ass out of himself when all he wants to do is survive the weekend and win the approval of his future family.
Rarely has a movie been more quotable than Meet the Parents.  Line after perfect line fall into place & get stuck in your head for days.  Yes, some of the humor is physical, but the funniest parts of this movie are deep within the dialogue, especially between Greg & Jack, two men that both mean well but never quite say the right thing.  Am I saying that a Ben Stiller movie is witty?  Yes, yes I am.  You’ve got to give it a shot in order to see it, but what you’ll get is comedy that’s unlike his other films, humor that goes above dumb jokes and becomes movie line history.  And the script aside, the actors deliver excellent performances, ones that are obvious stretches but are pulled off beautifully.  Stiller & De Niro are the perfect pair, feeding off each other & literally making audiences uncomfortable with the believability of the situation.  A comedy unlike any others, Meet the Parents is worth your time, worth your laughter, and will be one of the most memorable movies you’re likely to see.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰

Movie Trailer – Hercules: The Legend Begins

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Renny Harlin
Starring: Kellan Lutz, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins
Release: March 2014

I can’t remember the last time I saw a worse trailer.  It just looks so awful it’s hard to put into words.  Did you want to rip off every movie ever made that included Romans, Greeks, swords, jumping?  It all starts to make a little more sense when you realize who the director is; the brilliant mind behind Deep Blue Sea, Cliffhanger, Driven, and Cutthroat Island.

Movie Review – Oldboy

Category : Movie Review

Director: Chan-wook Park
Starring: Min-sik Choi, Hye-jeong Kang, Ji-tae Yu
Year: 2003

I first heard about Oldboy as a remake.  The film is coming out in a month, starring Josh Brolin & Elizabeth Olsen, and looks pretty awesome.  I marked it as one I would definitely see in the theatre, but I just assumed I’d never check out the original Korean version of the movie made ten years earlier.  But when it randomly appeared on Netflix Instant, I thought I’d give it a try before I saw the American version, even if it gave away the plot.  Well, thank you Netflix.  Not only was it cool to see the story done in its original language & country, but it was actually one of the better movies I’ve seen in quite some time.  I think in the future I’ll be quicker to give foreign films a chance, especially ones that Hollywood knows are good enough to rip off.
The main character of the movie is Oh Dae-su.  He is an unexceptional man, has a wife, a daughter, no big deal.  But for some unfathomable reason, he is kidnapped, kept in a room with only a TV for company, and left to rot for fifteen years.  He is fed the same food every day, patched up when he tries to kill himself, and generally taken care of in a horribly grotesque way.  And then suddenly he is set free.  He doesn’t know why, he doesn’t know the reason he was imprisoned, and he has only one thing on his mind; revenge.  Dae-su begins to unravel the mystery of his torture with the help of a beautiful stranger, the kind Mi-Do.  The two embark on a very odd journey, one that will lead to truths better left unknown.
I was stunned watching this movie.  I just had no idea it would be this good.  The story was just so interesting, so quick, so tricky, and yet not cheap & overworked.  As an audience member, I was forced to think for myself, which I love, and I appreciate when a director takes the time to not explain all the details and every decision, allowing me to work through the problems with the actors as my guides.  And the acting was excellent.  Most of the dialogue came from the three main actors, with a little narration that was actually nice, not overbearing.  The movie was funny, disgusting, beautiful, shocking, a complete surprise and a film that was well executed from start to finish.  I can’t wait to see the remake if it is anywhere near as excellent as the first Oldboy.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰