Category Archives: Movie Madness
A look at the movies I’m looking forward to this month.
There were a lot of huge popcorn films this year, but my favorites are made up largely of smaller films. For me in order to really enjoy a story I have to care deeply about the characters. While I recognize The Master as a great film it just didn’t click with me. I thought the world was interesting, but it followed my least favorite character in that world….much to the dismay of Jared from the Man in the Movie Hat website. The Master does follow the same theme that makes up my top five favorites though. It’s a story about friendship. So here’s my list.
#5: 21 Jump Street. Yeah, I know. I had so many movies to put in this slot. Moonrise Kingdom, Goon and Frankenweenie could have all easily been here instead. Ultimately the reason I chose 21 Jump Street is because if all four movies were sitting on the shelf and were the only thing I could watch, it’s the one I’d put in the Blu-Ray player. It’s fun and Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill have real chemistry together. You get the feeling that it was just a fun film to make. Nick Offerman has a great scene where he basically goofs on the whole idea of rehashing an idea from twenty years ago. It’s self aware. There are a couple of great cameos that will probably take you by surprise too.
I don’t know or care about hockey at all, but Goon was great. The final scene is cringe worthy. Moonrise Kingdom is your typical quirky Wes Anderson film where every frame is a work of visual art. Frankenweenie had me really caring about an animated character and pleading near the end to just let the film entertain me and not remind me of any life lessons. All three films are ultimately about friendship.
#4 Looper. I’m always a sucker for time travel stories. I’ve worked on the idea on stage about how if I could go back in time to meet with my younger self I don’t think we’d like each other very much. That’s definitely the case here with Looper. Ryan from the aforementioned Man in the Movie Hat website saw this before I did. I sent him my prediction of what I thought it would be about. I was way off. So I went in excited to be surprised…and surprised I was right up to the finale. Maybe it’s not really a movie about friendship as much as it’s about self preservation….but hey…that’s pretty important too. Filmmaker Rian Johnson gets better and better with each project. the fact that he glosses over the mechanics of time travel has been criticized, but it’s just not important to the story. He does a great job of imagining a near future and creates it with a pretty limited budget. Joseph Gordon-Levitt keeps proving himself as an amazing actor. Just look at his range when you compare something like this to Hesher from 2010.
#3 Safety Not Guaranteed. I haven’t been able to get into the whole “mumblecore” thing so I didn’t really have high hopes for this thing starring Mumblecore Lord and Savior Mark Duplass. I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a small story about two people getting to know each other. One of them is either nuts or a time traveler. The story could have easily been a big film, but I think the fact that it stayed small really let you get to know the characters as opposed to inserting unnecessary big action pieces. Mark Duplass is seeking a travel companion to time travel and Aubrey Plaza interviews for the position. It’s a really sweet film. Aubrey Plaza does really nice subtle things with her face that’s proving her as a really good actress. I look forward to seeing her do something completely different in the future.
#2 Django Unchained. I just saw this yesterday and fell in love with it and the leads. Christoph Waltz plays a character so unlike his Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds…but maybe a little similar in some ways. Jamie Foxx is just plane cool. to borrow from my friend comedian Mikey Mason, Django is Han Solo cool. Samuel L Jackson is almost unrecognizable at the start and plays a role I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play. It’s epic. The music is amazing. It’s poetic. It’s funny at times…particularly the scene where Don Johnson’s posse is dealing with the eye holes in their lynching hoods. The blood and carnage are over the top leaving one of the sets looking like the house from Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive. I loved it and can’t wait for the Blu-Ray….and I’m not really a big Tarantino fan at all. This is definitely my favorite film of his so far. Again, the friendship between King and Django really clicked with me.
#1 Silver Linings Playbook. I saw this last week and loved it. I’ve heard mixed reviews about how it’s all over the place and the ending is trite. I don’t care. I thought the acting was great. I love the way the story telling was frenetic because it matched the characters. The friendship that forms between Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence was engaging. It’s arguably Lawrence’s first grown up role and she really pulled it off.
Some honorable mentions for me are a horror movie triple threat with The Innkeepers, Silent House and Cabin in the Woods. All three take the scary movie format and twist it to make for interesting films. Silent House is shot as one continuous shot….although not really through the magic of film making. I loved some big pictures too like Hunger Games, Argo and the Dark Knight Rises. Sleepwalk With Me was enjoyable and really captured what it’s like to be a comedian while diving into Mike Birbiglia’s sleep disorder….coincidentally, I’m typing this at a La Quinta Inn…people familiar with Birbiglia’s story should get the significance. I’m on the third floor. Luckily insomnia is my only sleep disorder.
In Bruges is a perfect film in my book so I really had high hopes for Seven Psychopaths. I think my expectations were too high maybe. It’s a fine film, but doesn’t capture was In Bruges did for me. Hmm, In Bruges is another movie about friendship.
I haven’t seen Beasts of the Southern Wild yet, but from everything I hear about it, I have a sneaking suspicion that it will probably end up in my top five. We’ll see. I was a little underwhelmed by Prometheus. I think I just fell victim to all the hype and speculation. The Avengers was fun, but I’m not really a big superhero guy. In fact I missed Spider-man completely and have no intention of seeing it unless it pops up on HBO when I have nothing happening.
When I first saw the preview of 30 Minutes or Less, I knew I wanted the movie to be awesome. In fact, I was afraid of how awesome I wanted it to be. The cast looked amazing: Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, and Nick Swardson. And the premise was ridiculous and a little violent: two weird, dumb, criminal, best friends, Dwayne (McBride) and Travis (Swardson) kidnap a pizza delivery guy (Eisenberg), strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank so they can pay off a hit man to kill Dwayne’s lottery winning father to claim his inheritance.
Nick Swardson plays an unlikely straight man in his role as Travis, whose bomb making expertise is essential to the heist McBride’s Dwayne concocts after a money hungry stripper, Juicy, played by Bianca Kajlich, hints that she knows a guy who could get rid of his problem father and make them both rich. The only problem? Dwayne needs 100 grand to pay off the hit man and chaos ensues. Travis is somehow the voice of reason several times throughout the film, being a good person at heart and not really wanting to hurt anyone, yet still fearful of the strong and dumb minded Dwayne.
Aziz Ansari and Jesse Eisenberg also play a pair of best friends, Chet and Nick, respectively, since high school who are struggling as one has gotten his life together (Chet) and the other (Nick) is content in loserdom, delivering pizza’s and working for a total asshole. Nick (Eisenberg) is also hopelessly in love with his best friend’s twin sister, who just got a job in another state, sending him into a hopeless tailspin of self hatred that he projects onto Chet (Ansari) and after a particularly brutal fight, filled with harsh truths about their friendship, the two part ways. But their separation is brief after Nick is kidnapped, strapped with a bomb and realizes he has no one else to turn to but to Chet.
Both sets of friendships are put to the test in this intense and hilarious comedy, which, while it’s premise is about a dude who gets forced to rob a bank, it’s also about sometimes tumultuous friendships that develop and how in truth, you can tell when you’ve got someone in your corner, because they’re there when shit gets crazy.
The performances in this film are truly what make it work so well. While initially, Jesse Eisenberg delivers his lines with the same cadence and intensity as he did in The Social Network, he ultimately wins you over with the honesty of how his character got to where he is. Aziz Ansari brings the same, sharp tounged, wit that dazzles me to no end on Parks and Recreation, all the while bringing real emotion to the hesitation and liberation he feels as he helps guide his friend through a life or death situation. Nick Swardson and Danny McBride work so amazingly well as team, clearly headed up by McBride’s Dwayne. Their idiocy and uneven friendship work so well as their performances are, while brash and broad characters, still subtle and believable.
I wanted this movie to kick ass. I wanted it to be funny, and violent, and goofy and awesome. And it was. There’s even a little love story that includes Dilshad Vadsaria as Kate, Chet’s twin sister. So there’s a little something in there for everybody. I should also mention, the film was shot and set in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which was fun to spot the scenery I recognized. It also made me love the film even more.
30 Minutes or Less
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari, and Nick Swardson,
My Rating (On a scale of A to F): A
Over the weekend I went and saw Midnight in Paris. I think the beauty of that movie is that it’s going to speak to different people in different ways. I know it does. There were moments where I was the only person in the theater laughing. This is how it made me feel.
We’re trying to swap two rooms in our house around. In that process an old flyer I made for a Christmas show popped up. On that bill were people like me, Brent Sullivan, Mike Kosta, Mike Stanley…just a great line up of talented people who are gone now. Today, people might look at that as the golden age of the new Detroit comedy scene. It didn’t feel like anything special at the time. It felt like stage time.
I like to think that I’m living in a golden age right now. I was at the club the other night with a whole slew of great people like Kris Peters, Lauren Uchalik, Jeff Scheen, Mike Green, Jeff Dwoskin, Trevor Smith and Mike O’Keefe. Maybe one day people will be amazed that all those people were together in one place. It’s all perspective.
So the take away from Midnight in Paris for me is to enjoy life to it’s fullest because you are living in the best time of your life.
On to the review…
I’ve been so busy these past few days that now I’m finally catching up on all of the San Diego Comic-Con news. When I got home last night, Christine was telling me about the buzz from the Knights of Badassdom stuff at the Con. It looks pretty awesome!
It’s a pretty amazing cast. Ryan Kwanten is perhaps my favorite part of True Blood. The brilliant Aussie plays the earnest and dimwitted Jason Stackhouse so well. Peter Dinklage is another one of my favorites. If you’ve never seen Station Agent, you totally should! Nerds of course will recognized Summer Glau from a number of genre franchises…for me, Firefly is the biggy! Danny Pudi is my absolute favorite part of Community…which is a tough thing to pick out because I love absolutely everything about that show! And look at the supporting cast too. There are so many people who are awesome when they show up in things like Jimmi Simpson (Party Down), W. Earl Brown, (There’s Something About Mary), Michael Gladis (Mad Men), and Josh Malina (just about every Aaron Sorkin project).
Wow! This looks like a fun movie. I can’t wait to see it.
This summer, I loved Harry Potter and I really enjoyed Thor, but Captain America is what I’ve been waiting for since I was 7. I am an unabashed Cap fanboy, and have been for as long as I can remember. This summer has been a countdown to Cap for me, and my wait finally ended this last night. Holy crap did I love this movie. Do not expect a blow-by-blow story breakdown or analysis of the finer points of technique. I am about to geek the fuck out.
This movie made me giddy, like I wish the Star Wars prequels had. Every frame on the screen was my childhood coming to life. The special effects were phenomenal, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear they starved Chris Evans and shrunk him to play skinny Steve Rogers. The shield slinging was so cool, which was important, because without it, this wouldn’t have been a true Captain America movie.
The character were all spot-on. Captain America has always been my favorite because he was just a regular kid who was given the ability to be a hero, and always knew the right thing to do and how to do it. They pulled that off perfectly. Chris Evans was awesome in the role, both as the determined, awkward weakling, and as the great hero. Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull was brilliant, too. He was evil, menacing, and not too over-the top. The Howling Commandos were great, though I wish they had mentioned them by name.
I didn’t mind any of the little changes they made to the original story, everything worked for me, and I think allowed them to tell a cleaner story, rather than having to explain a lot of unnecessary back stories.
There were some cool nods to the comics, too, like the way we first see Arnim Zola. The Stan Lee cameo was quick, but funny and didn’t take away from the story. The use of the comic style Captain America uniform was also a great nod, and made great sense in the context of the movie.
The only complaint I have is that the movie was over too quickly. As it was wrapping up, I suddenly realized it was about to be over, and very much wished it was longer. Also, don’t forget to stay after the credits. The post-credits sequence is awesome.
One final note, I have never been to a movie where I have seen more people wearing T-shirts featuring the character from the movie. There was even a little kid wearing a full Captain America costume, who had his picture taken with me because he liked my Cap costume hoodie so much.
I feel good that I managed to see three of the eight movies I really wanted to check out last month. The other five will go in the Netflix queue.
There are five movies coming out in July I’m looking forward to seeing. Two are big summer event movies, but the other three a small ones that you might not know about. Let’s start big.
Of course I want to see Captain America! Hugo Weaving is super amazing, so to see him as the Red Skull will be a treat. I wasn’t so keen on seeing Green Lantern. Thor surprised me by being so good. I have a feeling Kobe and I will have to see how many cliches the ol’ Captain hits. I’m not expecting anything ground breaking, but I bet it’s going to be a fun romp!
Woo! I was going to post the Team America theme song, but decide maybe we should be the only web site that doesn’t do that today. Instead, enjoy the trailer for Captain America, which is going to kick ass all over the place in a couple of weeks.
God damn, i can’t wait for that movie.
My five-year-old son Alex came home a few days ago insisting that he had learned from his friends that E.T. “Has the Force.” My wife chalked it up to him being cute and a believer in all things Star Wars, but he insisted it was true. Of course, she decided she’d show him by ordering E.T. from Netflix.
My wife and I had not seen E.T. since it was originally released 19 years ago, so the details were fuzzy, but she was sure he was no Jedi. Well, we watched the movie, and Alex is more convinced than ever that E.T. “Has the Force,” but now I agree with him.
In the movie, E.T. displays telekinetic powers, not unlike a Jedi might manipulate his surroundings with the Force.
Additionally, E.T. passes a kid dressed up as Yoda for Halloween, and tries to follow him, saying “Home, home.” It appears he recognizes Yoda, or at least his species.
Then of course, a delegation of E.T’s species is visible in Star Wars episode I.
This may not be a new idea, but I am now convinced that E.T. does exist in the same universe as Star Wars, and that while E.T. may not be Jedi, he, and maybe his entire species, is at least Force-sensitive.
Alex and his friends were right.
Summer 2011 is shaping up to be a pretty awesome time for movies, especially if you love all things nerdy. Who ever thought we’d see Thor, X-Men First Class, Green Lantern, Harry Potter and Captain America movies all in one summer? It’s a great time to be a geek. Sadly, though, into every summer falls a few garbage family movies. As I’ve stated before, I’m the father of two young boys, and am bombarded with advertisements for things people are trying to sell them. Lately, it’s been movie ads.
These are worst I’ve seen this year:
Mr Popper’s Penguins
What a piece of crap this looks like. I can hear the Hollywood brain trust coming up with this one:
“They’re penguins, What should we call them?”
“Well, what do they do?”
“One is kind of loud.”
“One bites Jim Carrey a lot.”
And so on… My 5-year old could have come up with more imaginative names. Yeahbsolutely.
The Zoo Keeper, or Night at the Museum at the Zoo:
“Hey, kids like the King of Queens guy, right? …and funny animals? …and T.G.I. Fridays?”
The girl won’t marry him because he’s a zookeeper? Really? Don’t you have to have a degree to do that?
I’m going to make a bold prediction about this one. He realizes the blonde girl is a bitch and ends up with Rosario Dawson. Credits.
I will not be taking my family to either of these CGI animal turds. Luckily, they haven’t shown interest in either, I guess I’m raising them right.