Mamo #331: Tears of the Goddess

One seems like a situation where there’s no way to get it right; and the other a scenario where the studio is determined to get it wrong. Mamo assembles to discuss the future of two Hollywood franchises: The Fast and the Furious in the wake of Paul Walker’s death, and the Warner Brothers clusterfuck of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

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Cinecast Episode 311 – As The Furious Turns

A the fifth Fast and Furious sequel speeds into the multiplex, Kurt and Andrew go deep into the nuance and complex character interactions that have defined the last 12 years of this franchise. OK, not so much. Instead we ask questions about Spanish airport design, what becomes of the 100 commuter funerals after the credits roll, and just how well one can control London surveillance cameras these days. It’s easy to pick on the story inanities of the Furious Franchise, but we do take time to admire the 2nd unit elements of the film, and the editing of parallel action which are excellent. Andrew talks the new Arrested Development season up on Netflix, Kurt is all over the map in trying to parse the motivation and execution of Ridley Scott’s Director’s Cut of Kingdom of Heaven. Frank Capra gets some show time with Arsenic & Old Lace and the cultural impact of It’s A Wonderful Life.

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

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R3view: Fast and Furious

Fast and Furious poster

Director: Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow, Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Annapolis)
Writer: Chris Morgan (Cellular, Wanted, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift)
Producers:Vin Diesel, Michael Fottrell, Neal H. Moritz
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, John Ortiz, Gal Gadot, Michelle Rodriguez
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 107 min

Not a true R3view as only two of us were actually brave enough to head out to the multi-plex to see the fourth installment in the F&F franchise. While most consider this series to be one step up from cow dung, we (Andrew and Marina) admit to the first film being quite a fun guilty pleasure. Bringing back the original cast for this most recent segment of the thread was enough for us to get out, buckle up and prepare for one helluva ride… maybe.

Dom (Diesel) and crew are still up their old tricks; hijacking rigs for their valuable contents. Now on the run from the law however, they’re forced to work their racket in smaller countries such as the Dominican Republic. When an unexpected plot twist forces Dom to return to The States (Los Angeles), he knows the law will be breathing down his neck the second he crosses the border. Luckily for him he’s got a friend on the inside (Paul Walker). Together they work on the inside of a major crime syndicate; one of them out for justice, the other out for revenge. Fast cars and general mayhem ensue.

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On the Seventh Day of Christmas… “Noel”

[…Day 7 of the 12 Days of Christmas review project…]
Noel DVD cover

Director: Chazz Palminteri
Writers: David Hubbard
Producers: Bart Rosenblatt, Howard Rosenman, Eugene Musso, Al Corley
Starring: Susan Sarandon, Penelope Cruz, Paul Walker, Alan Arkin, Robin Williams, Marcus Thomas, Sonny Marinelli
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 96 min
Year of Release: 2004

Penny Cruz in NoelAlright I admit it. I picked up this movie for one reason and one reason only: Penelope Cruz is on the cover… looking very fine. But when I popped it in and started paying attention to the opening credits I realized, “there’s quite a decent cast of well known actors for this little known film.” Then the director credit: Chazz Palminteri. His directorial debut? Apparently, according to the IMDb. So I get a great character actor’s directorial debut and Penelope Cruz salsa dancing wearing very little to start the film. What could go wrong? Clark W. Griswold said that once too.

This is one of those multiple story line films that you think will intertwine somehow by the end. With Noel, the stories do meet up at one point, but it’s of little consequence and almost coincidental. It was two completely different stories running parallel encapsulated within 90 minutes. There’s not much depth here though so while admittedly not too hard to put together, Palminteri has structured the two stories surprisingly well. Susan Sarandon plays a lonely woman on Christmas Eve forced to take care of her dying mother and generally hating Christmas, but goes about her day as chipper as possible. Paul Walker plays Penelope Cruz’ fiancee who nearly loses her when his anger takes over with his misplaced jealousy. Meanwhile, a strange old man (Alan Arkin) claims that Walker is the re-incarnated soul of his dead wife. Tough guy Walker doesn’t take to this news very kindly.

This is really Sarandon’s film as she garners most of the screen time. Though she appears to be sleepwalking through the entire picture, it’s still Sarandon; Susan Sarandon in Noelso even a half hearted effort is still pretty decent. Everyone else is just kind of there serving their purpose. Nothing bad but nothing overly spectacular either. Just a bunch of A-listers seemingly just fulfilling a favor to someone.

The evolution of the characters is what is interesting here, but the emotional output is minimal so it was difficult for me to get very misty eyed – which was clearly the film’s intent. In fact, by the end of the movie I was so immersed in the overt melodrama that I wanted to roll my eyes. Still, there’s something sweet here that I sort of got into for some reason. Even if it does feel like somewhat of a prime time, network, holiday special from the mid-90’s.

In the end, the ridiculousness of the way things turn out and the little surprise revelations were too much for me nothing seemed to gel very well with the rest of the picture. It’s unrestrained and takes every little thing just over the edge of believability and it seemed like it was trying way too hard to invade my personal psyche. It almost works as I sat on the edge of the fence and then knocked me over with just a touch of too much sentimentality.

Paul Walker in Noel

Again though, the fairly large cast of recognizable faces and watching a first time director weave his craft was enough to keep me interested. And I can admit that here and there throughout the picture I was sort of on board. It’s the time of year when one is supposed to believe in miracles and angels and happiness prevailing over everything else. And in some small way, this picture did give me something to smile about. It was heartening and sweet but just a little overdone with the charm. If this review were limited to one sentence review, it would be: “It was nice.”

<-- Day 6 | | | | | Day 8 –>

Bone Deep Adds Cast

Hayden ChristensenHow does a production company fuck up a project before it even gets off the ground? Simple. You cast two of the most dry, boring and barely skilled actors in the business.

Screen Gems is currently casting a crime thriller titled Bone Deep about a group of criminals whose $20 million heist goes sideways when a hard-boiled detective starts poking around. Directed by John Luessenhop, the film already has Matt Dillon in the role of the detective and now there are reports that Paul Walker and Hayden Christensen have also been cast in the film. Can you say bomb?

Are the folks at the production company that out of touch that they don’t realize the whole they’re digging themselves into? Christensen is a pretty boy with little talent and his good looks are only going to take him so far – especially when you consider he keeps taking roles that don’t necessarily appeal to his tween fangirl demographic – and Paul Walker…well, he’s had it rough. Fast and Furious looks like it’ll be fun but of everything I’ve seen him in outside of the car-love franchise, the only one in which he displays any talent is the surprisingly good Running Scared and even there he’s stretching himself pretty thin.

It matters little, the project doesn’t sound particularly appealing to me, but I find it oddly funny that a company would shoot themselves in the foot quite this badly. Casting either of these guys would be a mistake but casting them both in the same film is critical (and probably box office) suicide.