Review: The Switch

The Switch Onesheet

Directors: Josh Gordon & Will Speck (Blades of Glory)
Screenplay: Allan Loeb, Jeffrey Eugenides (short story)
Producers: Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa
Starring: Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis, Patrick Wilson, Thomas Robinson
MPAA Rating: PG13
Running time: 100 min.

The problem with The Switch isn’t the movie itself (though it too has its misses) but the marketing. Yes, it’s difficult to sell a dramedy to the male population at large but to sell it as a romantic comedy is disappointing, especially when it features a great performance from the male lead. Perhaps it will work to the film’s benefit and women will see it with their girlfriends, like it and drag the men or heck, date night might be lady’s choice but however you cut it, this film is unlikely to reach the audience who will appreciate it most: new dads.

The Switch Movie StillDirected by the duo who brought us the travesty that is Blades of Glory, The Switch is a completely different ballgame, one that feels like the duo traded themselves in for someone who actually knows what they’re doing.

Based on a short story by Jeffrey Eugenides, it’s the drama of a woman (Jennifer Aniston) who wants a child so badly, she decides to find herself a donor. Her best friend Wally (Jason Bateman), a one time romantic interest who is too much of a realist to be Kassie’s boyfriend but who makes for perfect friend material, is against the idea but shows up to the “I’m getting pregnant” party to support the woman he secretly loves. A series of lightly amusing events later, we learn that Kassie’s pregnant, moving away to raise her son outside of New York and just like that, seven years go by. With a new job lined up, Kassie moves back to the Big Apple, reunites with Wally and the seed donor and then things get complicated.

Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 177 – Veneer of Terrible

Without the Gamble here to grace us with the newest multi-plex fare and zero interest in anything going on theatrically, Kurt and Andrew got together over a couple of virtual beers and looked at Agora once again with new vigor. There were also some recent DVD screenings to discuss including Kurt’s swan dive into season one of another popular TV show, “Breaking Bad”, and Andrew’s slight reassessment of Rian Johnson’s Brick. And finally(!) the store shelves are seeing a nice selection of newly released movies on video this week including a healthy dose of Blu-ray re-releases which provide enough fodder for a longer than normal walkabout through the weekly DVD picks. All these things and a few nuggets more – hopefully you’re into the whole brevity thing as we are able to keep it under an hour and a half.

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 or right click the link and “save as…”:

ALTERNATIVE (no music track):

Full show notes are under the seats…
Would you like to know more…?

Grrl Power? Whip It Trailer

Whip It Movie StillAs we watched the Terminal City Rollergirls in action a while back, I told hubby that by this time next year, we may be seeing a little more action in the roller derby world. He gave me a quizzical look and a few minutes later asked me what the hell I was talking about. I swear, the man tunes out when I talk movie news so obviously he’d failed to take in the fact that Drew Barrymore is directing a movie starring herself and “it” girl Ellen Page (along with Juliette Lewis, Kristen Wiig, Zoe Bell and Marcia Gay Harden) all about roller derby.

A few weeks ago some photos from the production hit the web and caused a minor stir (mostly about Wiig’s eyeliner) but Yahoo! just premiered the trailer for Whip It and it looks like fun.

Page plays Bliss Cavendar, an outsider in Bodeen, Texas who, much to her conservative, pageant-loving-mother’s (Harden) disdain, finds out about and joins a roller derby league in nearby Austin. I assume that from here her entire life changes. Am I looking for great cinema? No. But I am looking to see a little ass-kicking grrl power action and it looks like Barrymore and crew are going to deliver (or so I hope).

Whip It! opens on October 9th. Check out the trailer at Yahoo!.

A Martin Scorsese Marathon

Basically, you make another movie, and another, and hopefully you feel good about every picture you make. And you say, ‘My name is on that. I did that. It’s OK’. But don’t get me wrong, I still get excited by it all. That, I hope, will never disappear.” – Martin Scorsese

For the better part of the last three decades, I have been a fan of Martin Scorsese. My admiration first took bloom in the summer of 1985, and happened to coincide with what I consider to be the discovery of my young adult life; set off the main drag of the town I grew up in, I found a small video store. Now, this in itself was no great revelation; in the years before Blockbuster came barreling into my area, forcing all the smaller video chains out of business, there were at least half a dozen such stores within a 3-mile radius. But the moment I walked into this particular video palace, I knew it was special. Where most were lining their shelves with numerous copies of the ‘hot new releases’, this one had titles like Midnight Cowboy, 2001: A Space Odyssey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Straw Dogs, A Clockwork Orange, films that the others simply didn’t offer. For me, this store was a treasure trove, and I returned there often, sometimes 3-4 times a week, uncovering classic after classic, films that, to this day, I consider some of the finest ever made.

And it was here that I first found Mean Streets.

Tough and unflinching, Mean Streets was like a punch to the head for a 15-year-old from the suburbs; a marriage of images and rock music, violence and pain the likes of which I had never seen before, offering a glimpse into a lifestyle that I found all too real, and a little bit frightening. I must have rented it at least six times that summer, and as a result, Mean Streets fast became my favorite movie. More than this, it was my jumping-off point into the career of Martin Scorsese. After Mean Streets, I moved on to Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, two more shots to the head. Through these three films, I realized just how deep, just how down-and-dirty, and just how moving the cinema could be. They marked a turning point in my development as a film fan. Movies were no longer limited to the land of make believe; they would also be a window overlooking the real world.

Now, almost 24 years after I first walked into that video store, I’ve decided to take my admiration to the next, perhaps the ultimate, level. Over the course of the last several weeks, I sat down with everything that home video has to offer of Martin Scorsese’s work behind the camera, 26 films in all, and what I uncovered on this love-fest of mine proved to be just as enlightening as that first viewing of Mean Streets all those years ago.

As I sat watching one Scorsese movie after the other, I found myself asking, “What exactly is it that constitutes a Martin Scorsese film”? It was a question I had to pose, because I quickly realized that most of my initial beliefs, the pre-conceptions I had built up about the man and his career, only told part of the story.

For one, there was my presumption that the recurring trait in every Scorsese film was a down-to-earth quality, where the genuine, the realistic, would be favored above all else. Well, this is certainly true in some of Scorsese’s finest films, especially those where actual events served as a foundation (Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino, The Aviator). However, it was wrong of me to discount the role that fantasy played in Scorsese’s work. The opening scene of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore looks as if it was lifted right out of Gone With the Wind, and the musical numbers of New York, New York were obvious nods to the Hollywood big-budget spectaculars of the 40’s and 50’s. There is the dreamy romance of The Age of Innocence, and the hilarious bad luck of Paul Hackett in After Hours; in short, films that have little or no basis in reality whatsoever, proving that the fantastic plays just as important a role in the great director’s work as reality does.
Would you like to know more…?

Franco Out, Bloom In; Ruffalo’s Directorial Debut

I think I speak for everyone here in the RowThree offices when I say we’re big fans of Mark Ruffalo. He’s been real smart with the films he chooses to appear in and so far… so great.

He’s great enough that I was pleased when I learned he was going to take a shot being on the other side of the camera, directing a dramedy entitled, Sympathy for Delicious. Even better yet is the cast he managed to sign on to the project: James Franco, the great Laura Linney, Juliette Lewis and of course Ruffalo himself.

Today though I was dismayed to learn that Franco is out of the production and someone new is taking his place: Orlando Bloom. Well, unless Linney really carries the film or Ruffalo somehow manages to get something out of Bloom we’ve not seen before, huge demerits are earned with this casting (un)development.

a brief synopsis:

The story, written by Christopher Thornton, follows a paralyzed DJ, struggling to survive on the streets of LA, who turns to faith healing and mysteriously develops the ability to cure the sick — although not himself. The DJ then decides to cash in on his gift in exchange for his rock ‘n’ roll dreams.

Bloom, taking over for Franco, will play the frontman of a tough-as-nails rock band. Linney plays as the band’s manager working hard to stay relevant in a 21st century musical world.

So Bloom is to play a “tough as nails frontman for a rock band” instead of Franco? Whatev dude. Ah well, I still really look forward to seeing what Ruffalo can do from the director’s chair. The film is scheduled to start shooting next week.

Roller Derby Greatness Adds More Cast Members!

Zoe BellI know nothing about roller derby but you say roller skates and full contact sport and I’m definitely curious to find out more. I’ve seen a couple of videos and though I haven’t read the entire wiki entry on the sport yet, it looks like I’m missing out on a whole lot of action. Hopefully, a new film on the horizon will help fix all of that.

Drew Barrymore’s feature film directorial debut Whip It! has been abuzz since it was originally announced. With a script by Shauna Cross adapted from her own novel, it’s the story of an indie-rock loving misfit who finds a way of dealing with her small-town misery when she discovers a roller derby league.

Ellen Page had already been cast in the central role but four more cast members were announced last week: Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig (busy girl!), Juliette Lewis and the fabulous Zoe Bell. I’m guessing this thing is going to be darn funny and with the inclusion of Bell in there, I’m also assuming we’ll be seeing some serious action sequences. Can you say girl fight? This one’s sounding mighty interesting!

To get you pumped, I dug through YouTube for a few clips of roller derby action and I found a few but the one below gives a nice feel for the physical contact involved in the sport.

Would you like to know more…?