Cinecast Episode 170 – There is Smelting

A lengthy show this week, mainly due to Kurt finally fulfilling his promise to Andrew to start watching TVs LOST. If you are bored to tears by Lost talk, skip the first half hour of the show. If you are a fan or aficionado, there is a newbies (Spoilerific) take on the first (and a bit of the second) Season. The main review, and a wonderful three-way discussion is had, is Vincenzo Natali’s Splice. There is lots of love for the Cronenbergian slash Frankenstein’s Monster type tale, but also some criticisms. Matt managed to catch up with Get Him To The Greek and offers his thoughts, wherein a Rose Byrne love-in ensues (who knew she was Aussie?) Kurt caught an advance screening of Sundance winner Winter’s Bone and agrees that it completely lives up to the hype (John Hawkes and Jennifer Lawrence are both revelations). Finally, Matt teases Andrew and Kurt with some thoughts on Mr. T and welding montages in the new A-Team movie. Andrew espouses on his theory why Pixar’s Up is a lot like Death Proof and there is some tangenting on Jackie Brown. DVD picks and much, much more.

As always, feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

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Review: Valentine’s Day

There really isn’t all that much to get into with this past weekend’s box office champ, Valentine’s Day, so it doesn’t lend itself all that well to a full length review. It does warrant some mention however, particularly considering its pretty epic cast. With films like Beaches, Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride and The Princess Diaries under the wing of director Garry Marshall, you gotta kind of know what type of film you’re getting into here. I have to admit not bothering to check the director’s credits before seeing the picture, so I was sort of going in under the (poor) assumption that Valentine’s Day was actually penned and directed by the same crew that was responsible for Love, Actually; which seems pretty reasonable considering the trailer and the holiday scheme.

For what the movie is and knowing what to expect, the best adjective for the film would be satisfying. The script writing is some of the more cliché and at times eye rolling material one will find in main stream cinema these days. But again, c’mon. It’s a Valentine’s Day movie entitled Valentine’s Day; it’s gonna be a bit on the cheesy side. Luckily, the big names are quite fun to watch as they enjoy their limited time on screen and make the most of it. We’re really only in the theater for one of two reasons, we’re interested in watching the big stars sparkle or we’re there because it’s simply expected of us (for whatever reason).

Comparing the movie to the up-and-coming Christmas staple, Love, Actually, is not completely out of line. After all, it’s got the same sort of tone and indeed, some very similar plot details in a couple of the story threads. But instead of taking place at Christmas time, it’s February 14th. If we’re bored or on the verge of shrieking at a certain character or actor we’re not too fond of, we need only wait a minute or two and we’ll be swept away to another storyline with different appeal (or lack thereof I suppose). This isn’t to say that the storylines are completely detached from one another. Very loosely several of the characters in seemingly different storylines will intersect or interact with one another on occasion.

What attracted me personally to the film was, besides the aforementioned Love, Actually comparison, was indeed the star power. After 2008’s Rachel Getting Married I’ve pretty much convinced myself in seeing anything starring Anne Hathaway (yes, even the atrocious Bride Wars). As the female cast members for this movie go, she was clearly a stand-out as a seemingly conservative, small town girl secretly moonlighting as an “adult phone entertainer” while trying to keep a secretarial day job and a new found relationship. Equally as fun but with very little screen time was Queen Latifah, who in these types of films usually pulls off these types of roles remarkably well. On the men’s side was the usually grating, but here surprisingly charming Ashton Kutcher as the owner of a major floral company on the busiest day of the year as he struggles with his own relationship issues. The veteran sophistication of Hector Elizondo, the wit of Topher Grace and the style of Jaimie Foxx all add to the fun as well. Of course a whimsical, unrelated exchange between Bradley Cooper and Julia Roberts on board a bumpy airplane ride is full of natural smiles too. Then there’s about three pages of other recognizable names filling out the cast on the IMDb profile for the movie.

And while a lot of the dialogue is certainly eye-rolling and just plain dumb, a lot of it is dumb in a good way; and lot of it isn’t dumb at all. There are easily two good handfuls of laugh out loud moments to make this particular 120 minutes more than satisfying. And really, the good bits in the script are the details in the dialogue. The little inconsequential one-liners and quips from people you might not expect it from. Then of course there are some nice twists in the plotting that are maybe a little bit predictable, but then there are the moments (like the narrator’s final jest) that are completely surprising and fun; leaving the audience with a good laugh and a smile as they exit the theater with ten bucks having been well spent on some quality junk food. In life, it’s often the small things that make it all worth it. So goes Valentine’s Day.

So though it’s as obvious and sweet as heart shaped milk chocolate, that doesn’t make it any less of a guilty pleasure. If you’re into the names on screen, you like to laugh a little bit or have someone special to snuggle with, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy Valentine’s Day – despite that some of the characters on screen might try to convince you of the contrary.

CAST: Anne Hathaway, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Hector Elizondo, Jaimie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Kathy Bates, Patrick Dempsey, Topher Grace, Carter Jenkins, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Swift, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Emma Roberts, Julia Roberts, Larry Miller, Taylor Lautner, Bryce Robinson


Review: New York, I Love You

Directors: Natalie Portman, Jiang Wen, Mira Nair, Shunji Iwai, Yvan Attal, Brett Ratner, Allen Hughes, Sheekhar KapurFatih Akin, Joshua Marston, Randy Balsmeyer
Writers: Emmanuel Benbihy, Tristan Carné, Hall Powell, Israel Horovitz, James C. Strouse, Shunji Iwai, Israel Horovitz, Hu Hong, Yao Meng, Israel Horovitz, Scarlett Johansson, Joshua Marston, Alexandra Cassavetes, Stephen Winter, Jeff Nathanson,
Anthony Minghella, Natalie Portman
Producers: Marina Grasic, Emmanuel Benbihy
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Natalie Portman, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson, Bradley Cooper, Maggie Q, Hayden Christensen, Christina Ricci, Andy Garcia, Ethan Hawke, Blake Lively, Anton Yelchin, Shu Qi, Carlos Acosta, James Cann, Justin Bartha, Eli Wallach, Cloris Leachm
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 103 min.

Three years ago one of my favorite films of the year, Paris Je’ Taime was released to theaters and I was actually taken aback at how much I liked the piece. It was a series of vignettes, each directed by a famous director (from Gus Van Sant to the Coen Brothers to Wes Craven) with a whole slew of great, character actors and A-list stars. Each vignette was a cute little story examining a relationship somewhere within the great culture of Paris. Not necessarily lovers either. There were fathers and daughters, sisters, elderly couples and even a vampire tale amongst many others. Within months it was announced that a follow-up to the film would be coming soon that would take place in New York. So I’ve been waiting the better part of three years to see the sequel of sorts to one of my favorite films of 2007 with another set of great stories told by world class film makers and actors. And finally it is here in America showing to a fairly wide audience.

There had been some grumbling that New York, I Love You wasn’t quite the film its predecessor had been. Quite honestly I can’t fathom that notion as this film is at least the former’s equal; if not superior to the “original.” If you liked Paris Je’ Taime (or loved it as much as I did), there’s no reason to steer clear of this reimagining. It’s got the same amount of heart and inspiration and should capture your heart just as quickly and steadfast as the stories did threeyears ago.
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Cinecast Episode 126 – See You at the Party Richter!

Episode 126:
Not the brightest week for film this summer with The Taking Pelham 1-2-3, The Land of the Lost, The Hangover, Away We Go and Departures.

A few tangents, a fair bit of negativity and surliness, some vague sifting through the sparse DVD releases which is heaven for BluRay and Criterion enthusiasts, but rather dire for everyone else.

The Show Notes have left the building in the short term. Bear with us.

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Review: The Hangover

Director: Todd Phillips (Old School, Road Trip)
Writers: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 100 min.

Feeling like the multi-plexes are strangely devoid of quality comedies that actually have a laugh factor of more than one for every thirty minutes? You and me both. Quality jokes are hard to put together; even harder to follow through with and harder still to get the butts in the seats during the summer with the onslaught of “mindless” cinema being released. Luckily, The Hangover seems to be doing all three – and doing it fairly well.

Low-brow, pretty standard plot line for a comedy: four buddies head to Vegas for a bachelor party and the time of their lives. We see them have a drink before hitting the town and then flash forward to waking up on the floor the next morning. The room looks like Hunter S. Thompson spent the summer there and the groom is missing. With no recollection of the previous night, the three “survivors” head out in search of their friend; retracing their steps with what clues they have: an abandoned baby, a missing tooth, a hospital bracelet and splitting headaches. Hijinx and hilarity ensue.
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