Archive for the ‘This!’ Category

This!

Posted: February 26, 2014 in Movies, This!, TV
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Veronica Mars

A long time ago we used to be friends.  But I hadn’t thought of you lately at all.

That’s a lie.  I always remembered Veronica Mars.  How could I forget her?

She came storming back into all our lives with a tantalizing chance at a long promised and rumored return.  And in record time, she pocketed $2 million and that promise became a reality.

And she’s not coming back alone.  Oh no.  She’s bringing her old man Keith with her.  Old friends like Wallace and Mac.  Old boyfriends like Logan and the unfortunately named Piz.  She’s going to her high school reunion.  So all those Neptune schoolmates who ostracized her 10 years ago?  Yeah.  They’re going to be there, too.

And there’s a nasty little murder mystery that’s going to need solving.  It’s been 7 long years, Veronica.  And it seems very little has changed.

C’mon now, honey…bring it on, bring it on!

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Inside Llewyn Davis

Why this?

It’s a simple question with an altogether simple answer:  The Coen Brothers.

I was a Coen Brothers fan before I even realized who they were.  I remember catching Raising Arizona in the theater completely unaware of what they had previously done with Blood Simple.  It was such a wonderful movie.  I didn’t, hell, I couldn’t even fully appreciate what my 15-year-old eyes were seeing.  I’ve seen it dozens of times since and it grows in my estimation with every viewing.  It is, in my humble opinion, the best of their comedies.  And that’s saying a lot when you’re comparing it to the likes of Barton FinkThe Big Lebowski and O Brother Where Art Thou?

As much as I love the funny, it’s their crime flicks that really get me.  The aforementioned Blood Simple is an incredibly accomplished piece of sexy noir.  And it was their first movie!  Films like Miller’s Crossing, Fargo and the Best Picture winning No Country for Old Men cemented their reputation at blood-letting.

As the brothers have gotten older, they have found themselves straying occasionally into more contemplative fare like A Serious Man, their slice-of-life tale of a Jewish man in the full throes of a mid-life crisis.  Their latest would seem to fall squarely in line with this smaller film and, honestly, I’m okay with that.  It’s a week in the life of a folk singer in the early 60’s.  Seems simple enough.  But this is the Coens.  And things are rarely simple when they’re involved.

Now, the brothers are not immune to serving up a turkey or two.  I was not the biggest fan of The Ladykillers, Intolerable Cruelty or Burn After Reading.  But, hey, everyone’s entitled to slip or two.  I trusted them enough to try those movies and I trusted them enough to try their next even after watching those.  They’ve got my faith.

They’ve earned it.  And I suspect that faith will be rewarded with Inside Llewyn Davis.  Late December can’t come soon enough.

This!

Posted: July 16, 2013 in Movies, This!
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Elysium

Why this?

Five words:  It’s directed by Neil Blomkamp.

If you know what that means, you know why I’m excited.  If instead you said, “Who’s Neil Blomkamp?” then I say pull up a chair foolish mortal  and let me tell you.

Back in the Summer of ’09, Mr. Blomkamp served up a hell of a piece of sci-fi pie called District 9.  It told the story of a South Africa overrun by prawn-like aliens who had been forced to live in slum conditions in a refugee camp in Johannesberg.  It was a clever, if obvious, meditation on the lingering effects of apartheid on the South African people.  It was ultimately nominated for 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture.  It was my favorite movie of the year.

Now, four years later, flush with the unexpected critical and box office success of his first film, Blomkamp is about to unleash another geek-friendly, sci-fi study on class warfare, this time starring Oscar winners like Matt Damon and Jodie Foster.  Now, I’ll admit I’ve never been the biggest fan of Damon and Foster but the writer/director wunderkind has more than earned another look from my wandering eyes.  I’m willing to bet this bad boy, like it’s cinematic brother, lands in my year-end top ten.

I can’t wait.

Elysium lands in theaters on August 9.  I’ll be there on opening day.

 

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Man of Steel

Why this?

Because I love Superman.  Always have.  Always will.  I’ve read hundreds of comics featuring him.  I’ve seen pretty much every episode of Adventures of Superman, Lois & Clark and Smallville.  I’ve watched all four of Christopher Reeve’s films more times than I can remember.  Hell, I’ll even admit to loving Superman Returns with Brandon Routh in the classic red and blue tights.

It’s been seven years since that last polarizing entry in the movie franchise.  A lot of people thought it was boring.  A lot of people thought involving a kid was a mistake.  A lot of people just couldn’t get over the fact that Routh wasn’t Reeve.  As I stated, I liked it.  I thought Bryan Singer did a great job of connecting the film to the previous entries and that Routh was able to capture just a little bit of Reeve’s spirit with his mannerisms and aw shucks attitude.  Others are not nearly as generous.  They are entitled to their opinion.

The powers that be were ultimately dissatisfied with the results and the box office.  They cleaned house.  And Superman fans waited.  And waited.  And waited.

Then, a few years back Warner’s announced that Zack Snyder, fresh off his take on DC Comics classic graphic novel, Watchmen, had been tapped to direct a new film featuring their most iconic character.  Shortly after, a Brit named Henry Cavill was revealed to be the next man to nobly attempt to fill Chris Reeve’s large red boots.  Production started.  Stills were released and people finally saw Cavill in a slightly redesigned super-suit.  Some folks were cautiously optimistic.  Some were doomsayers.  And still, we waited.

The first trailer hit filled with fleeting images to sweeping music.  It looked…dark.  Some likened it to a Malick film.  I was curious but not thrilled.  Then another trailer hit filled with action and voice over and soaring music from the Hans Zimmer score.  The excited chatter picked up.  Suddenly, it started looking like this could actually be a damn good movie.  And still, we waited.

A Superman flick could end up being the best movie I see this whole summer and I couldn’t be happier.

We’re now three weeks out.  I don’t want to see another trailer.  I just want to see the movie. I’m tired of waiting.

Spring Breakers

Why this?  It’s Disney divas as girls gone wild.  Do I need another reason?

Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez will effectively distance themselves forever from the House of the Mouse with this darkly comic crime drama as young co-eds who, with roommates Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine, find themselves in trouble with the law after attempting to secure a little extra cash to fund their spring fling.

A friendly drug and arms dealer (played by an almost unrecognizable James Franco with a killer grill) with no ulterior motives whatsoever bails them out.  In return, he only asks that they hang with him for the remainder of their break and perform a few menial, albeit possibly criminal, tasks.

Honestly, I’m not exactly sure what to expect.  It all sounds rather trashy but the film is written and directed by notorious independent filmmaker Harmony Korine, most famous for writing the exceedingly disturbing Kids back in 1995.  I’ll be curious to see how his art-house flavor mixes with such otherwise salacious fare.

The Man with the Iron Fists

Why this?  Because RZA knows kung fu.  And kung fu done well?  Well, that’s hard to find.  And when you do find it, you need to point it out.  Point it out and celebrate it.

RZA grew up watching the classic chopsocky films of The Shaw Brothers.  The movies were filmed in Hong Kong and reached American shores where they became famous for their furious martial arts, their bright colors, and their elaborate sets built on studio backlots.

The writer/director/rap star has a passion for the product.  He’s been working on the project for many years now, studying under grindhouse gurus like Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth.  And finally, he’s about to deliver a lean, mean homage to the movies he adored as a kid.  Plus, there is said to be a killer soundtrack and score.  I’ve never listened to any Wu-Tang Clan, but I’m as excited to hear this as I am to see it.

The movie opens wide on November 2, 2012.

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Bullet in the Face

Why this? Because it’s a wonderfully, gloriously, ridiculous send up of 90s era action dramas. And it’s got Eddie Izzard.

The Canadian dark action comedy comes from the twisted mind of Alan Spencer, the man who brought the cult classic Sledge Hammer! to the unappreciative masses in the late 80’s.

The six episode first season starts off easily enough. During a heist gone wrong, a sociopathic hit man is betrayed and shot in the face by his high-strung partner who happens to be his lover and his boss’ wife. In short order, the authorities pull a Face/Off and replace the crazed German’s gob with that of a cop he killed during the botched robbery.

Pressed into service by his jailers, he assumes the life of the dead policeman and is tasked with furthering the gang war between his former employer (played to pitch snow-globe obsessed perfection by the aforementioned Izzard) and his chief rival (a smarmy and oily Eric Roberts.) 

Max Williams and Kate Kelton portray the erstwhile feuding lovers, Gunter & Martine, and while I had no idea who they were prior to this wonderful project, I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on their future work.

It’s all rather ridiculous but irresistibly addictive fun. It’s over acted and over the top and well worth your time.

IFC ran the entire first season this past weekend and will no doubt be running marathons in repeat until an inevitable release on DVD/Blu-ray.  If you can’t wait (and I suggest you don’t), it’s available for rent on Amazon Instant View.

Do try to check it out.