Monthly Archives: March 2013

Goon

GoonWhen he’s seen dispatching a rude opposing hockey player in the stands, Doug Glatt is hired by a rival team … for his fighting skills. It seems the new team’s star is gun-shy after being hit by a puck, and Glatt’s job is to be his on-ice bodyguard.

Matt
Rating: 7 out of 10

Seann William Scott gives a really solid performance. Did I just say that?

Yes, I did. This is a likeable and true tale of a goon — the tough guy on hockey teams who put up way more penalty minutes than points. They are the tough guys of a tough guy sport, and this is an interesting story of a pretty unassuming guy who never played hockey but ended up worked his way through the minors as a goon. Scott plays Doug Glatt, a bouncer at a bar who gets a shot at being a goon after beating up a hockey player in the stands of a game.

It all seems a bit much, but Scott plays him as a simple guy, who is actually a gentle soul and not the smartest guy — but certainly the nicest. There’s also a love story with a not-so-typical gal, and a rivalry with a fellow goon, played very well by Liev Schreiber. This is definitely one of the better sports movies I’ve seen in a while.

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Oz The Great and Powerful

OzIn this prequel to The Wizard of Oz, circus magician Oscar Diggs is magically transported to the Land of Oz, where he deals with three witches and uses his illusionist skills and resourcefulness to become the wizard the residents have been expecting through prophecy.

Matt
Rating: 8 out of 10

This movie doesn’t hold the same innocent charm of the original film, but it doesn’t want to be. And that’s what makes it so successful. .

Oz is the story of a sheister, a talented but troubled carnival magician who womanizes, lies, disrespects and hussles his way through life. That is, until that famous hot air balloon sweeps him away to a magical world.

And this is where the story really takes off. Oz goes on a wonderful journey, both internally and externally, as he grows into a reluctant hero and leads a group of unlikely characters – not so different from the original. But the greatest similarity to the original masterpiece is what the lion was granted – heart. I really found myself swept away alongside Oz, played well by James Franco and supported with an outstanding cast – most notably Michelle Williams as Glinda. I was really pleasantly surprised by Oz The Great And Powerful. Sam Raimi drove a film rich in stunning visuals, wonderful comedy, sharp performances and – GASP – no music!

Looper

Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Bruce WillisIn the year 2042, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a Looper, a hired assassin for the mob who kills people sent from the future. But what will he do when the mob decides to “close the loop,” sending back Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination?

Matt
Rating: 6 out of 10

I expected more from this movie. The concept rocked.

Bad people from the future send people back in the past they need killed through a time machine There is a person waiting for them, called a looper, who shoots them and collects some gold strapped to them. OK, I’m game.

But what happens during this film is a lot of nothing. It’s boring, with unneeded characters who flush out what should have been a short, more action oriented movie. I can’t believe I’m saying that, but yes, it’s true. Looper drags. I expected more from this film, because it got rave reviews. I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis a lot. And while they both are good in the film, it suffers from a slow-movie script and a director that was over thinking it a bit. It’s also way darker than I anticipated — maybe I shouldn’t have, based on the premise — but it was.

Not a terrible film, but it drags at parts and left me wanting something different.

Mama

mama
Two girls left to fend for themselves in the forest for five lonely years after the death of their mother find refuge in the home of their uncle. But it soon becomes clear that the girls have not arrived alone in this woodsy supernatural chiller.

Matt
Rating: 6 out of 10

I really liked the premise of Mama. It sets up extremely well. The opening scenes are the tragic end of a family and how two little girls survive with the help of a paranormal mother figure.

The film is shot very well by director Andres Muschietti. There are a number of chilling scenes. In one, a character is in a dark room, pitch black, with nothing but a camera. He uses it for light, flashing shots to illuminate his surroundings. You’re forced to sit there, waiting for worst of things to happen. I also like that Mama never pulls back. The film takes some dark routes, which left some people I watched the movie with upset. There’s no happy ending.

Mama does, however, drag. But the moments of intense frights, combined with excellent performances by the two children and Academy Award-winning Jessica Chastain, hold the movie together well. Not the best thriller I’ve ever seen, but certainly entertaining and worth a watch.

Argo

argo

In 1979, when Iranian militants seize the American embassy, six Americans slip into the Canadian embassy for protection, prompting the CIA to concoct an elaborate plot to rescue them by pretending that they are filmmakers rather than diplomats.

Matt
Rating: 8 out of 10

I was pleased to see Argo win best picture. It was definitely deserving of it, and I applaud Ben Affleck for his skill as a director and storyteller.

This movie kept me on edge and glued the entire time. While it has slower parts, they’re all with purpose. In truth, I never knew this story. It happened the year I was born, but it’s also one that never came to light until the details were publicly released by President Bill Clinton — and at that time, I was a college student not paying close attention to the news.

Argo is a gripping political thriller, with excellent acting, smart visuals and never took its foot off the gas. Ben Affleck is definitely growing as an actor. His lead role in the film was perfomed well, but it’s also my only major gripe with the film. Affleck plays Tony Mendez, the brilliant and brave CIA agent who springs a very unlikely plan of creating a fake movie to spring Americans from a very hostile situation. But Mendez is a Latin American, and by having a white guy play Mendez, I think it robs Latin Americans of having one of their own portray such a heroic figure in their history.

That said, Affleck doesn’t take anything away from Mendez in the role, but I think he could have directed a Latin actor. It’s my one rub on an otherwise excellent film.

The Life of Pi

life of pi

Based on Yann Martel’s best-selling novel, this coming-of-age tale recounts the adventures of Pi, an Indian boy who is the sole survivor of a shipwreck. Pi finds himself on a lifeboat with only some zoo animals for company.

Matt
Rating: 9 out of 10

This is the kind of movie you watch for the first time and say: I really need to watch that again

And I can’t wait to see it again. I was lucky enough to see this in the theater in 3D, which I generally can’t stand, but this is by far the best use of the technology ever in any film. Ang Lee deserved the Oscar he recieved for best director. I knew it wouldn’t win best picture — it’s not that kind of movie that typically does — but it is still wonderful. It’s the kind of movie that leaves you questioning, wondering and thinking about a couple days after you see it.

In it’s simplest form, it is a coming-of-age story about a boy who loses his family, but it takes so many beautiful and challenges twists with gorgeous cinemetography and visuals. It is a love story, a story about faith, family, ideals and challengs.

And I never mentioned that 90 percent of it takes places on a tiny boat at sea with a boy and a tiger. If you can make that an incredible film, well, you have some serious directing chops.

Vic’s Classics – The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

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When Scott Carey begins to shrink because of exposure to a combination of radiation and insecticide, medical science is powerless to help him.

“The Incredible Shrinking Man”

Directed by Jack Arnold

9 out of 10

Director Jack Arnold, who brought us some great sci fi movies from the 50′s like Creature from the Black Lagoon, it’s sequel, It Came from Outer Space and even Tarantula, also helmed “The Incredible Shrinking Man” in the late 1950′s as well. So, Arnold, being no stranger to sci fi films with cautionary elements running through it’s veins, turns in a smart, interesting and thoughtful movie that transcends the genre and themes of it’s time. Written by the iconic scribe Richard Matheson, based on his novel, the movie is a stunning achievement on a symbolic and technical level. Themes of differences, transcendence, mortality and the mystery of death and what lies beyond the sub-atomic levels of existence. It explores, if indirectly, some heady issues that Matheson and Arnold like to provoke us into actually thinking about. Matheson, as with all of his Twilight Zone contributions, loves to explore themes about things and ideas that exists outside of our reality. What would happen to a man that starts to shrink and continues to shrink until he is nothing more than a sub-atomic particle? Where does he go? What happens to his soul and his mind? All of these things we, the audience, actually ponder long after the movie ends. It takes itself very seriously because it isn’t tongue in cheek or campy. It’s a sci fi gem that is cerebral and entertaining.

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The movie, which actually won the first Hugo Award ever, stars Grant Williams ( PT-109) as Scott Carey. Carey is a businessman that while vacationing with his wife, Louise (Randy Stuart from All About Eve). While on their boat out in the ocean, Lousie decides to step below deck while Scott is left outside soaking in the sun. He then notices that a strange cloud overtakes the boat. Scott never goes inside and the cloud passes over him leaving a weird, almost snow-like material all over his skin. Louise re-appears and she and Scott are puzzled by the travelling fog that left as quickly as it came. Six months later, Scott, while dressing for work notices that his clothes seem to be a bit too large for him and he quesions Louise about the dry cleaning. She swears that his clothes are the same clothes she has always taken to be cleaned. Scott starts to get suspicious as with everyday that passes his clothes seems bigger on him and he appears to be losing height. When Scott tells Louise that she isn’t tip toeing anymore to kiss him she becomes concerned. His Doctor reassures him that “People do not get shorter.” Scott isn’t convinced and when it becomes clear that he is shrinking he is seen by other Doctors and Scientists at a California Medical Institute. They determine that at some point he must have exposed to radiation and he and Louise figure out that the mysterious cloud may be the culprit. Also, that along with being exposed to insecticide, they figure out that Scott is indeed continuing to shrink.

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Arnold and Matheson start to pull us along on a great ride of inventive film-making. Oversized objects like sofas, chairs, telephones, utensils and the such are all on display here. All of these effects are done believably without making it hokey and campy. It’s done with respect to the actors and the material that Matheson supplies. As Scott shrinks, his mind expands. He is frustrated and alone at first but seeks out others like him like a carnival sideshow girl named Clarice (April Kent) who is a “Small” person. They form a friendship and have interesting discussions about their size in relation to the rest of the world. Their exchanges are interesting and very appropriate. A great scene, (that sometimes used to get cut when aired on TV) between Clarice and Scott involves huge coffee cups. The scene is a bit amusing. Eventually Scott can no longer see Clarice because he finds out that the treatments aren’t working and he is starting to become even smaller than Clarice. Arnold continues Scott’s journey with having him suffer against obstacles bigger than him. Not metaphorically but physically. There’s a cat, a spider (A real nasty bastard!), a leaking water heater and even a dollhouse. Louise suspecting that Scott has been killed by the cat even prepares to leave their house and move. Not a happy ending for Scott. He continues to become ever smaller and when he does he resigns to his fate. By this time we know Scott inside and out. He’s brave, devout, smart and resourceful. Matheson wraps up the story in fine form. Scott understands that he will shrink until he becomes part of another realm. A realm where he can still make a difference.

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I know there are many fans of “Atomic Age” movies out there especially from the 1950′s and this movie has the honor of being on a very elite list. A list of films like “Gojira” and “Forbidden Planet” as an intelligent and symbolic piece of cinema. If you don’t dig your sci fi movies loaded with allegory and such there’s no worries to be had. “The Incredible Shrinking Man” has some very cool effects, great music and some awesome Big vs Small action enough to please the most jaded of sci fi film fans. Enjoy, gang! HIGHLY recommended!

Vic’s Note: This film was chosen to be preserved by the Library of Congress for  being “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant.

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