Movies We Watched

Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.

Red Planet

2000 USA. Director: Antony Hoffman. Starring: Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss, Benjamin Bratt, Tom Sizemore, Simon Baker, Terence Stamp.

This is my kind of B-Movie… one that actually takes itself deadly serious but remains no less shitty and fun to watch. I enjoyed this so much I am almost inspired to rewatch DePalma’s Mission to Mars to see who out-camps who. The writers of Red Planet sought to compile the most space cliche elements they could find into 90 minutes, it is kind of remarkable how many films it emulates, worthy of a drinking game. Despite being the captain of the spaceship and worthy of some nominal authoritative import, Carrie-Anne Moss is perpetually leered at by the camera, including a goofy shower scene, and some downright absurd nipples-popping through shirt shots as she barks order over an intercom to Houston. Now that is my kind of captain. Val Kilmer and Tom Sizemore are at that point in their careers where they still got it, and they are pretty fun to watch. Terrence Stamp fumbles through the film with some of the worst dialogue to spew, as the writers crowbar in the science vs. religion theme in laughable doses. Despite all of these goofy parts of the film it at times is surprisingly competent visually, some interesting ship and costume design, a couple interesting action sequences. I am giving it four stars not because it is so bad it is good, but because it is that unique hybrid where the bad parts are fun but there are good parts that kind of hold it all together to make it as a whole, an enjoyable space romp.
-ROT

The Sitter

2011 USA. Director: David Gordon Green. Starring: Sam Rockwell, Jonah Hill, Max Records, Ari Graynor.

Not horrible, but not very good either. At this point, David Gordon Green needs to earn back my trust before I see anything he does ever again. Jonah Hill is kind of funny and he keeps the movie watchable. I definitely lol’d a few times. I also liked the idea of giving each of the kids their own story arc even if it is kind of shallow and obvious. It was interesting watching this movie with Adventures in Babysitting sitting at the forefront of my brain. Comparing and contrasting always gives a film some sort of merit. Altogether, funny bits but fairly disposable stuff.

Jonah Hill is funny.
-ANDREW

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Cinecast Episode 253 – It’s not Trash. It’s Garbage.

Many of you know him as “Goon”, but illustrator/web designer/movie nerd, Corey Pierce of the Critical Mass Cast has parachuted into the Cinecast floating ever so gently down on the buoyancy of his love for Mirror Mirror and making the show one of epic length, even by Cinecast standards; we do not quite break the Cinecast record but we do come dangerously close. After a signature tangent on whether or not it is appropriate to applaud or boo after (or during) a film and comparing The Raid to both porn and “The Family Guy,” we tackle the glossy and relentless Indonesian action film in the context of how a movie can set its own terms, and either fail, succeed on those terms, or transcend them. Where does The Raid fall? You’ll have to listen.

We then move on to listener submitted home work and the glory (or lack thereof) of trash cinema. Going through the various assigned work reveals both enlightening and pandering to the ‘teachers,’ which underscores that our listeners do indeed take these homework assignments seriously. Bravo to you folks. The Watchlist rounds out the show and features a lengthy discussion of the Bully documentary, Eddie Murphy and racial/sexual epithets, JFK Conspiracy Books, American Presidents – right back to the founding fathers – fosters a wacky and over-simplified discussion of politics (Is there any other kind??!!) on both sides of the Canada/USA divide, studio Ghibli, giant gorillas and one-armed drummers. Yeah, the thing is over four hours. Enjoy…or endure! (Bend like a sapling in the wind, lest one break!)

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


 
 

 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_12/episode_253.mp3

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
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Review: Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror is the possibly the best self-aware fantasy film since The Princess Bride. I know how hyperbolic that sounds, but hear me out. In this very slim branch of fantasy story telling, whimsy (and wordplay) replaces menace, foppishness replaces villainy, and evil is manifest more along the line of ‘mean-ness’ than than horrific. A servant describes The Queen’s ‘special brand of crazy’ accurately, but nobody outside the audience actually listens and thus the character exits for the rest of the film. The dialogue is care-free and whimsical in both words and tone, gliding along meta-ness and pop-cultural awareness. The charm of its ending, the necessary wedding scene which employs a Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves style cameo and an over-the-credits Bollywood number earn this film a lot of smiles from this jaded reviewer precisely because this adaptation never aims for self-serious brooding that seems to have taken over the genre in recent years. Never taking itself serious, Mirror Mirror nevertheless grasps at handholds and imagery enough to fulfill the mandate of remolding the classic faerie tale into a femme-power swashbuckling tale. Who would have guessed that Tarsem (The Cell, The Fall) under the producer-wing of Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, Red Dragon) would have a deft touch for populist family-driven entertainment?

The look of the film is sumptuous and theatrical – stagey and unwieldy sets as a stylistic choice (and some of the late costume designer Eiko Ishioka’s most delightful work). Those big costumes are the centerpiece of a once joyful kingdom usurped by Julia Robert’s Queen through marriage and re-decorated as a perpetual joyless party for the well-heeled. Roberts’ Queen exists somewhere in the cultural and historical landscape in between Marie Antoinette and Anna Nicole Smith. The poor and peasantry of the kingdom are kept in line by the fear of a hungry magical beast in the forest that, as the handsome animated prologue informs, achieved its infamy by killing the King. Exorbitant taxes are collected on the basis of funding the defense of ‘the other’ in the forest. I’ll not insult you with a 99% vs the 1% read on the film – certainly it is not the intent – but don’t doubt for a second that it isn’t there. The film has a complicit (and boot-licking) aristocracy, given form by Nathan Lane, maintain an unsustainable status quo. The Mirror keeps warning the queen that there are consequences coming, both the cost of using magic for nefarious ends, and the kingdom pending fiscal meltdown.

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Forget the Dwarves! It’s SNOW WHITE vs. SNOW WHITE

As happens often enough in Hollywoodland, one studio gets a whiff of what another is making, and then greenlights their own. Well they are going at this battle furiously, as both released their trailers this week. In one corner, Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman stars Kristen “Bella” Stewart, Charlize “Monster” Theron and Chris “Thor” Hemsworth; in the other corner, Tarsem Singh’s Mirror, Mirror star’s Lilly “Priest’s Daughter” Collins, Julia “America’s Sweetheart” Roberts, and Armie “Winklevoss” Hammer. The former is going for CGI-gothic ‘Twilight-ish’ tepidness. The latter is going for self-aware slapstick goofery. So in 2012 you get to decide what flavour of the tale would fit, you know like a glass slipper…er…whatever.

Despite my utter lack of interest in Immortals folks came out in droves, thus my money is on Tarsem for Box Office Victory (The ‘DreamWorks’ tone will trump the Twihard/Bella factor.)

Both Trailers are tucked under the seat.

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Cinecast Episode 192 – Rub the Fuzzy Wall

 
 
It is a two man operation today, a very casual (and lengthy) conversation of a wide variety of movies. First up is a mixed, but leaning towards positive, review of Edward Zwick’s Love and Other Drugs, which features good chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway, but a very mixed bag of tonal shifts. Then we talk a little TV with The Walking Dead. We revisit a number of (relatively) recent films from what is predictable about Predators to what is excellent about Duplicity to what is slightly baffling about Walker, Don’t Look Back and Get Him to The Greek. The video-game as a childrens film in French CGI oddity The Dragon Hunters, and how this similar themed movie differs from Dreamworks’ How To Train Your Dragon is discussed for a while. Then it is back into documentary land for an extensive revisit of King of Kong, as well as credit card debt and the state of the nation (circa 2005-06) documentary, Maxed Out. Andrew makes a case for The Illusionist, and talks about the use of music in Black Snake Moan. We close on all things Kubrick and Steadicam with The Shining and Birth. And some DVD love for Disney and Vikings and Mixed Martial Arts Melodrama. Pull a seat up to the digital fireplace, grab and Brandy and a cigar and lets talk some turkey.

As always, feel free to join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and as always, thanks for listening!

 


 

 

 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_10/episode_192.mp3

ALTERNATIVE (no music track):
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_10/episode_192-alt.mp3

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
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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

 

Rewatched and Reconsidered: Ocean’s Twelve

Director: Steven Soderbergh (The Girlfriend Experience, Traffic, Che, Bubble, Full Frontal, Sex Lies and Videotape, The Informant!)
Writer: George Nolfi (Timeline, The Sentinel)
Producer: Jerry Weintraub
Starring: Clooney, Pitt, Cheadle, J. Roberts, Mac, Gould, Garcia, Damon, S. Caan, C. Affleck, Zeta-Jones
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 125 min.

First viewing (2004):

Rewatch (2010):

Steven Soderbergh has been my absolute favorite living director for some time now. It seems that in my eyes, everything he touches shines like the contents of Marsellus Wallace’ briefcase. So it’s always been with some trepidation that I bring up the only title in his filmography that I’ve always regretted watching: the second in his “Ocean’s” franchise: Ocean’s 12. The last time I had seen the picture was when it was released theatrically back in 2004. I remember being quite upset as I left the theater; not really understanding what I’d just seen and being a little miffed at why it wasn’t nearly as good as the previous film. I’ve been bad mouthing the film ever since without ever giving it a second look. Having matured in my cinematic tastes and now better able to understand where and why the visceral reactions come from me the way they do from a film, I decided it was only fair to give the only dark spot in my Soderbergh repertoire of knowledge a second chance and see if my memory serves or if this was just a film I didn’t get at the time.

This sequel starts off just about where the previous left off. Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) has located the Ocean gang and has given them two weeks to return all of the money they stole from him or they will die horrible, slow deaths by his hand. Since much of the money has been spent already and the crew is too hot to work in the States, to save their necks they head off to Europe to start a series of heists designed to make back the money they had already squandered. Upon arriving in Europe, they find that another thief, The Night Fox (Vincent Cassel), is always one step ahead of them; stealing what they want before they do. And to make matters even more intolerable and desperate, an American investigator (Zeta-Jones) is hot on their tale and unknowingly closer to them than she realizes as she is involved in a romance with the Brad Pitt character. The tale twists as The Night Fox proposes a challenge to the Ocean’s: snag an “impossible to steal” jeweled egg before he does and he’ll win their freedom from Benedict. And so the caper begins… sort of.

**SPOILERS TO FOLLOW**
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67th Annual Golden Globe Nominations

I know that the thumbs snubbed at the Golden Globes each year is just something I have to deal with, but honestly, there are things to really like about this award ceremony. One, it splits up the acting awards into two groups: drama and musical or comedy. The ceremony itself is rather short and to the point which I rather like and maybe most importantly to us bloggers/readers, it’s the award show that most clearly gives us an indication of what to expect from The Academy.

So with all that in mind and still expecting the vitriol in the comments below, here are the nominees for the 2009 Golden Globe Awards. Not too surprisingly, Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air takes the cake with 6 nominations and NINE comes to the table with 5 nods.

Who do you think got snubbed and who shouldbn’t be here? I might make the case that the great Meryl Streep competing against herself is at least discussion worthy, if not kind of cheap. Presentation of the awards will be telecast live on NBC at 8pm EST on Sunday, January 17th.

MOVIES

BEST MOTION PICTURE, DRAMA
Avatar
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Up in the Air

BEST MOTION PICTURE, MUSICAL OR COMEDY
(500) Days of Summer
The Hangover
It’s Complicated
Julie and Julia
Nine

BEST DIRECTOR
Katherine Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar
Clint Eastwood, Invictus
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

BEST DRAMATIC ACTOR
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Tobey Maguire, Brothers

BEST DRAMATIC ACTRESS
Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire

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Cinecast Episode 144 – Feeling a bit “Rusty”

Episode 144:
Twilight is upon us! Thankfully our own expert on all things Twilight, Marina Antunes, drops by our virtual studio to offer her thoughts on the film as the guys in the row fell asleep or watched disaster flicks instead. And by popular demand, we also bring back time track listing (in the show notes below) so that you can skip over the stuff you don’t want and know right where to go to hear all about Team Edward vs. Team Jacob. We managed to catch some other stuff in theatrical release including 2012, Surrogates and the latest in the Oprah archive, Precious. Add to this our doomsday marathon, weekly DVD picks and some other bits of goodness, we hope you enjoy the show and be sure to drop us a line either by email or in the comments section below.

Thanks for listening!

Click the Audio Icon below to listen in:


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To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://www.rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_09/episode144.mp3

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Julia on Tom: What the Fcuk.

This isn’t a roast. This is Julia Roberts… remember her? The sweet, fun loving celebrity just trying to innocently hide from the Paparazzi and live a normal life in Notting Hill; the too shy and cowardly of a girl to actually marry the man of her dreams in Runaway Bride; or simply America’s Sweetheart? Yeah, well it turns out Julia has a snarky, sarcastic and even slightly dirty side. While introducing Tom Hanks the other night for a film society event honoring the multi-Oscar winner, Ms. Roberts had no qualms about letting loose with the f-bombs. If this wasn’t Julia as we all think we know her, maybe this wouldn’t be as funny. But since it is, it’s downright hilarious. Telling the audience she has to pee as her opening statement is a clue that this won’t be your mama’s Julia Roberts.

Check out the video I stuck under the seats; good times:
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