Category Archives: Entertainment

Brian’s Review – Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)

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After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

Directed by J.J. Abrams

9 out of 10

It’s a great relief to me to see that J.J. Abrams has taken over the Star Wars series starting with Episode 7 and a great sadness that he will no longer be making any Star Trek films. This is every bit as good as the previous entry where Abrams reinvented the series by creating an alternate timeline that separates it from the original television and movie series with William Shatter and company. That was brilliant masterstroke of sci-fi writing because it opened the floodgates to possibilities of what could happen to these classic characters that differed from the original stories.

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Star Trek:Into Darkness is action packed and loaded with first rate stunts and special effects. However, I’m glad to say that they never come at the expense of storytelling or character interaction. All of the Enterprise crew have a likeability in their own way and you find yourself rooting for them. The main differences between this film and the last is a first rate villain played brilliantly by Benedict Cumberbatch who is far more interesting than Eric Bana’s villain in the last and an even more frenetic pacing because we no longer need introductions to the main players. I won’t give away plot details because there are several easy things to spoil. However, I will tell you that this is first rate popcorn entertainment. It may not be the brainy sci-fi that some Trekkies live for but it sure is fun.

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Brian’s Note: I saw this in IMAX 3-D and recommend it. It’s done much more tastefully than other three dimensional efforts. I still prefer 2-D but it’s acceptable.

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Vic’s Review – Stand Up Guys (2012)

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A pair of aging stickup men try to get the old gang back together for one last hurrah before one of the guys takes his last assignment – to kill his comrade.

Directed by Fisher Stevens

4 out of 10

What the hell did I just watch? Oh man, is this what Christopher Walken and Al Pacino been reduced to? Lowbrow humor about Boners, prostitutes, and snorting prescription drugs? “Stand Up Guys” establishes that it is parody pretty early on but it isn’t even good or witty parody. It’s a bunch of disjointed skit-like scenes that that are neither funny or remotely smart.  It has some interesting bits of the “fish out of water” or “I’ve been out of the game” elements but they only elicited a smirk or a slight giggle from me. I never actually laughed out loud. Not even once. I did sit up and take notice at perhaps the coolest part of this mess but I’ll get to that later. I really wanted to enjoy this but instead watched something that was very similar to the comedy “The Crew” with Richard Dreyfuss and Burt Reynolds. “The Crew” while not a classic either still had some great chemistry among the leads and while the story stalled in places it got the parody right in more than one instance. “The Crew” is even a guilty pleasure of mine. I watch it once in a while.  As much as I want to judge “Stand Up Guys” on it’s own merits I just can’t. The film is too feeble and expects us to enjoy two, no, make that three excellent actors trade very SNL type dialog that seems more appropriate in an “Harold and Kumar” movie. Too bad.

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Director Fisher Stevens ( Californication and Short Circuit) and writer Noah Haidle brings us a movie of firsts. First directing gig for Stevens and first major gig for Haidle for the writing. Unfortunately neither the direction or writing amount to anything that good or funny. Al Pacino ( Carlito’s Way, Scarface, The Devil’s Advocate) plays an ex-mobster simply named “Val” Val is being released from prison after being incarcerated for 28 years. His friend “Doc” played by Walken is there to pick him up. What Val doesn’t know is that Doc has been ordered to whack Val by crime boss “Claphands” ( A name that sounds like a Dick Tracy villain ) and he has until 10am to do it. Val, being quite horny, convinces Doc to break into a pharmacy to get some type of erectile meds in order for him to “perform.” After he takes a handful of them, which is a very stupid thing to do, he has Doc take him to a brothel nearby. A few sex and dick jokes later Val lands in the ER only to confront Julianna Margulies as Nina. Nina happens to be the daughter of their other friend, Hirsch. Nina and another Doc have to wait around after all of the boner humor is done and Val is given something for his perpetual hard on. Ugh. Sometime later after Nina tells the guys that Hirsch is in a home and slowly dying. They decide to pick him up for a last hurrah around town. A last hurrah that includes fast cars, ( with a stolen Dodge Challenger SRT8 no less ), close calls, police chases and guess what? A brothel! Haha, Sooo hilarious and original! I must admit that Alan Arkin was refreshing to watch and it made the movie suck a bit less but even Arkin is stalled here because the un-witty banter and humor is just too pedestrian.

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So, after Arkin croaks, because we don’t see THAT coming. Doc and Val find a naked girl named Sylvia ( Vanessa Ferlito from “Death Proof”) in the trunk of the SRT8 and helps her  get even with some thugs that violated her. Ferlito is quite cute and sexy but here she is wasted. She’s not appealing enough to really like and is forced to deliver a very bad one-liner about “The Nutcracker”  Ho hum. There is dull subplot about Doc’s grandaughter who is a waitress and some money that Doc wants to leave her and then by the third act Doc and Val ponder how things will go down. Will Doc spare Val and defy Claphands? Or will he do him in? Well, by the time the climax and story wrap up I’m not very interested or even care about what happens. Stevens gives his gravelly voiced leads way too much room to go overboard on delivery, exposition and much of the film is spent with the two trading lame quips and one liners. They are given way too much room to indulge. Watching Arkin, Pacino and Walken all together onscreen should have been a hit out of the park here. Stevens takes way too long to let them play well off each other, unfortunately. Most of the scenes with Pacino and Walken has a sort of desperation about it. It tries to be some kind of “Bucket List” meets “Goodfellas” type comedy or maybe it is trying to cash in on some of the vulgar sensibilities of “The Hangover” movies except using a couple of elder actors that should have really dissected this script before accepting the roles. The material is way beneath them and if they wanted to make this work they should have had a director on-board who totally gets the ironies, wit and aplomb that a comedy of this type involves. I can in no way recommend this movie. A shame really. I cringed way too many times during most of the painful scenes with these legends instead of laughing and appreciating the humor that is really lacking here.

Oh and back to the reason I gave this movie it’s rating, well maybe 2 reasons. There is a shootout and the film could have used a few shootouts and the other reason is: Doc and Val quote Nada  ( Roddy Piper) from John Carpenter’s “They Live” The only really cool part of the  movie.

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The Ten Greatest Directors

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Welcome to the final installment of The Ten Greatest Directors.

We started with a list of 45 directors and each post removed ten directors from the list with an explanation as to why we cut them. It wasn’t easy, but we’re finally down to the Ten Greatest Directors. There was a lot of debate behind the scenes, but here they are, in no particular order. We’re simply naming them The Ten Greatest Directors.

Jean-Luc Godard
He is one of the pioneers of the French New Wave wasn’t just a great director but changed the language of filmmaking forever. Prior to Godard, such things as having a character address the camera, jump cut editing, and non-linear storytelling were considered taboo. Now, without Godard, we wouldn’t have Tarantino, Von Trier, or Coppola.

Federico Fellini
The ultimate dreamer who made dreams come alive on the screen. His films were a dance with a rhythm, intelligence, and sly wit that no other director in history can match. His legacy is assured and his movies are timeless. Be sure to see La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2. They changed the way viewers looked at filmmaking.

Ingmar Bergman
The auteur of the top 10 also is underrated when it comes to delivering a film that also enlightens and entertains. His strongest attribute was dealing with the most basic human emotions: love, life, death, and family and making the films convey these feelings without condescending the audience. I have never watched a Bergman film without thinking about it for at least a week afterwards. They stay with you like all great art.

Charlie Chaplin
Most people know him as The Tramp — the iconic character with the funny mustach, top hat and cane. And it’s a phenominal character, but he also wrote and directed his best films, like The Kid, City Lights, and The Gold Rush. He had 72 films directed, won a lifetime achievement award from the Academy, best actor, and even one for best original score. He knew how to make great films, and was a notorious perfectionist.

Fritz Lang
If you don’t know him, the directors you love certainly do. Lang is one of the most influential directors, and is considered the father of film noir. He never won an Academy Award — most likely because he was born in Germany, and even though he moved to America because of his strong distaste for nazis, was still looked at as a “German filmmaker.” His movies, like M, Metropolis, and Fury are classics still shown in film schools around the world to this day. They are iconic, timeless, and resonate with great awe.

Alfred Hitchcock
He was master storyteller who churned out movies like it was his job… which it was. Over a 50 year career, he cranked out nearly 70 films as a director, plus he wrote and produced his own television series and other films. But he will be remembered most as a director for his uncanny ability to capture suspense, play with our minds with stunning visuals, and create iconic images in films like “Psycho” “The Birds” “North by Northwest” “Vertigo” and the list goes on. He set the stage for other directors in a genre he brought respect to.

John Ford
He’s arguably the greatest. He directed more than 100 films, including classics like Stagecoach, The Grapes of Wrath, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Searchers, and also was a four-time Oscar winner for directing. His pace, understanding of timing, respect for actors and iconic imagery all make up his incredible talent. A master, through and through, and a workhorse.

Martin Scorsese
He came out of the NYU film school, and lead a generation of directors that bucked the Hollywood system and its traditional film-making techniques  and story lines. He made movies, like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, that challenged the viewer and put them in an uneasy chair. His mafia movies, like Good Fellas and The Departed, are unmatched in the genre. He approaches film humbly, and understands stories and imagery like no other. We love Scorsese, and we hope he never retires.

Stanley Kubrick
Kirk Douglas, after the making of Spartacus, said, “Stanley Kurbick is a talented shit.”

He only made 15 films in his career, which was one of his regrets as a director, but he was a perfectionist and his pictures were a reflection of that. His last film, Eyes Wide Shut, took five years to make. No other director has been given that freedom, and for good reason. Every Kubrick film is a masterpiece.

There has never been a director who understood a camera better. He was a still photographer before he became a motion picture director and his use of light and how it impacts stories and characters as a storytelling vehicle is extremely thoughtful. His storytelling skills are superb, but he never used narrative stories, or rarely did. His movies made you feel the story. They never handed it to you on a silver plate. He challenged viewers with his stories and portrayed them with stunning beauty. He was the Mozart of film making.

Akira Kurosawa
Ironically, Kirosawa was panned in Japan in his early days for being too influenced by western directors, like John Ford, and for bringing too much emotion to his pictures. But that was his strength. He captured both the action of war and its drama. He paid exquisite detail even to the most mundane characters, and brought humanity to war and famine. “The Seven Samurai” “Yojimbo” “Rashômon” and “The Hidden Fortress” continue to influence directors to this day.

The Ten Greatest Directors Part 3

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Welcome to part 3 of our series on The Ten Greatest Directors.

We started with a list of 45 directors and each day until our anniversary, we will each remove five directors from the list and give an explanation as to why we cut them.

Let us know which ones you think should stay, and which should go — and maybe some directors  you thought should have been in the mix that weren’t.

MATT

Francis Ford Coppola
Bram Stoker’s Dracula was probably the last really good film he’s made, and that was in 1992. I know it stings to take Coppola off this list, but he made the Godfather trilogy, and not a lot after or before.

Orson Welles
After Citizen Kane, Welles didn’t do a whole lot. He directed a lot of television projects. It’s strange that someone who directed such a beautiful looking film, with such great influence, never really met his potential.

Pedro Almodovar
I’m a big fan. Volver, if you haven’t seen it, was great. Talk to her, was also quite good. But his collection of work isn’t strong enough to warrant Top 10.

Sam Peckinpah
He only directed 14 films, but made some great ones — like Straw Dogs and The Wild Bunch. But I think his true strength was as a writer.

Steven Spielberg
What?! Yes, Spielberg is getting cut. This is a band-aid that just needs to be ripped off. For Every Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan, there’s an Indiana Jones 4 or War Horse. This one is tough to cut, but again, I go back to relevance. He’s making Indiana Jones 5 right now. Lincoln was great, but you have to go back to 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence for his last good movie. This is a pattern for him.

BRIAN 

Mel Brooks
I’m a huge fan of the Producers but a lot of his humor falls flat with me. Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein are highly overrated one joke premises.

Wes Anderson
He’s the king of the dry humor. I loved Rushmore and Royal Tenebaums. Wasn’t crazy about Zizou and Darjeeling Limited. Either way, he’s not in the top 10

Tim Burton
I loved Pee Wee and think Ed Wood is one of the most underrated films ever made. But, he made Mars Attacks and Planet of the Apes and those weren’t just bad, they were complete disasters.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Delicatessen and City of Lost Children are fantastic. But, he directed Alien: Resurrection, which was horrendous. Also, Amelie is very cute but terribly overrated.

Brian Depalma
He has some great movies on his résumé: Carrie, Blow Out, Scarface. But, he’s still working today and hasn’t even made anything good in 20 years.

Remaining Directors:
Woody Allen
Quentin Tarantino
Charlie Chaplin
Billy Wilder
David Lynch
Ridley Scott
Fritz Lang
Terrence Malick
Robert Altman
Oliver Stone
Paul Thomas Anderson
Ingmar Bergman
Federico Fellini
Martin Scorsese
Joel and Ethan Cohen
John Huston
Stanley Kubrick
Sergio Leone
Milos Forman
Jean-Luc Godard
Yasujiro Ozu
Alfred Hitchcock
Akira Kirosawa
Christopher Nolan
John Ford

The Ten Greatest Directors Part 1

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Our three-year anniversary is here! It’s been an awesome run, and we’ve really enjoyed interacting with you and sharing our reviews and articles.

The past two years we’ve had epic lists. Our first year we named the Ten Greatest Films Ever Made, and in year two we did the Ten Worst Movies We’ve Ever Seen. This year we’ve decided to name the Ten Greatest Director.

Here are the list of 45 directors, in no particular order, we will consider for the ten greatest ever. Each day we’ll both cut five from the list until we’re paired down to the Ten Greatest Directors.

Let us know which ones you think should stay, and which should go — and maybe some directors  you thought should have been in the mix.

Woody Allen
Francis Ford Coppola
Quentin Tarantino
Orson Welles
Charlie Chaplin
Billy Wilder
Clint Eastwood
David Lynch
Ridley Scott
Fritz Lang
Terrence Malick
Robert Altman
Oliver Stone
Robert Zemeckis
George Lucas
Brian De Palma
Cecil B. DeMille
Spike Lee
Paul Thomas Anderson
Darren Aronofsky
Ingmar Bergman
Federico Fellini
Martin Scorsese
Joel and Ethan Cohen
John Huston
Tim Burton
James Cameron
Mel Brooks
Sam Peckinpah
Stanley Kubrick
Wes Anderson
Roman Polanski
Pedro Almodovar
Danny Boyle
Steven Spielberg
Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Sam Mendes
Sergio Leone
Milos Forman
Jean-Luc Godard
Yasujiro Ozu
Alfred Hitchcock
Akira Kirosawa
Christopher Nolan
John Ford

Craigslist Joe

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Setting out to explore whether America still has a sense of community where people help each other through hard times, 29-year-old Joseph Garner spends a month depending on the goodness of Craigslist posters for his survival.

Matt
Rating: 6 out of 10

It’s a great concept for a documentary. But with any documentary that focuses on the filmmaker pulling a stunt — like the infamous “Supersize Me” — it seems to take away from authenticity of the film.

However, that doesn’t mean they’re not entertaining and “Craigslist Joe” certainly is. It’s not going to blow the doors off your house, but it will keep you thoroughly entertained for for an hour and a half.

It’s definitely interesting to see some of the positions he’s in, the types of people he meets and the places he stumbles to. He’s very much going with the flow. He sleeps whereever he can find a place, gets a meal whenever he can, and a ride to wherever someone is willing to take him. But he also makes some real connections with people who help him along the way, and it’s the glue that holds this film together. It is a stunt, just like the guy who ate nothing but disgusting McDonald’s for a month. He could stop whenever he wants, but that just doesn’t make for good TV. I did walk away, though, satisfied. It was a fun road trip to watch unfold, and there were some heartfelt moments where people genuinely helped out a person who is — kind of — in need.

heckler

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Matt
Rating: 8 out of 10

Do I have the right to review a film or have a movie blog? Yes I do, and the answer is simple: because I exist.

My only rub with this film is Jamie Kennedy complains that movie bloggers and posters of the interwebs trash him. He gets offended and wonders why a nobody can tear him and his films apart. But just as he has the right to take the stage as a comic or star in a film, we have the right to hate on his work.

That said — it’s really my only complaint about this film. Kennedy went to great lengths to interview a host of comedians, actors and performers who shared some really great stories and insights on heckling. I’m sure hecklers have existed since the Romans battled gladiators, and this film sheds some great light on an awkward social faux  pas. We’ve all experienced it, whether it’s at a movie or at a comedy club, that jerk yelling remarks from the back. It’s hard enough to make people laugh, but it’s just painful when a heckler verbally assaults a comic. There are some really great interview with comedians in “Heckler,” from David Cross and Louie Anderson to Bill Maher, and it’s really fun to hear their stories. It’s also interesting to see how hard it can be on them. More than I anticipated.

It was also funny to watch Kennedy interview a really awkward blogger who absolutely vomitted all over his work. However, as annoying as that guy is, he deserves a voice. It’s just not as annoying as the guy shouting from the back of the theater. And Kennedy interviews that guy, too. This is an often hilarious and insightful documentary that’s definitely worth a watch.