Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2011

The Vault: High Fidelity (2000)

Top five lists, we're all guilty of making them, film enthusiasts more than others. Music, movies, break-ups: all are rich subjects for debate and reflection. We chose what we watch or listen to and who we make time to spend with. They reveal so much more about us than our hair and clothes, they define who we are and Rob is defined by his top five ex-girlfriends. Laura is about to join their ranks.

Rob (John Cusack) spends more flicking through albums on his living room floor than picking shirts out of his closet. He is the owner of a record store replete with two slackers with a taste for snide remarks toward customers. They were hired for three days a week, they show up for six. He is unhappy and not necessarily without cause. Laura (Iben Hjejle) is leaving Rob; he's in arrested development and she doesn't enjoy living life as an angst song on loop. Now he has to break himself down and stroll through the top five again, to see why he keeps getting left.

Through half-dat…

Criterion Review: Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)

Balthazar is a service animal. Accordingly, he is beaten and burdened time and time again. His original caretaker Marie can relate: her life followed a similarly tragic path. As Balthazar is beaten by his owners, Marie is humiliated by a sadistic lover. Life is a cruel venture, Au Hasard Balthazar offers, and suffering through it with grace and dignity is seemingly the only way to transcend the brutality.

A tale of a donkey in rural France. Seemingly, nothing as compelling as the tale of a horse during the World War, but the message is the same. Balthazar's life is sequenced through his bucolic early days learning to take his first steps, all the way to his days of glory, finishing with his dying breath. We see life offered through the eyes of this animal, but never his   opinion of what transgressions occur. Too frequently animals on film are defined by a whinny, a trademark eye-roll, or clopping a hoof at a comedic time. Robert Bresson merely allows Balthazar to exist in front …

What I Want for Christmas

Is it too much to ask that Fight Club get the Criterion treatment? The fact that the film's presence is still felt more than ten years later should be enough. The film captured the zeitgeist of an era more solidly than anything else offered. Reward it.
Harrison Ford to stop pretending to care about acting and go back to the ranch. Look, I know you don't really care about doing films anymore and I don't care to sit through you mailing it in. You can't be bitter about audiences not going to see your films when you don't care enough to actually perform in them. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Better audience turnout. Granted, I understand that Jack and Jill absolutely commands your attention, but there were a lot of great, underperforming films out there: Drive, 50/50, and Take Shelter. And if that weren't enough to convince you, then let Guillermo Del Toro try, "When they ask why does Hollywood make such shitty movies it's because when they do make gr…

Review: The Adventures of Tintin

Tintin is a creation that has largely not made an impact on this side of the Atlantic, but the beloved creation of Hergé has been critiqued, studied, and read in Europe for the better part of several decades. In adapting the series into a new trilogy for modern times, the Holy Trinity of geek writers (Edgar Wright, Steven Moffat and Joe Cornish) have been brought in. The three very clearly hold the source material dear and what most moviegoers aren't familiar with could become a kid-Indy for future audiences.

After journalist, Tintin (Jamie Bell), purchases a model ship his life suffers a quick upheaval. His refusal to sell the ship to Sakharine (Daniel Craig doing his dastardly best) results in several murders and his kidnapping. Tintin awakens on a ship set for Morocco and finds that the ship that he has purchased is actually contained a map that could lead to untold fortune.

The crew of Captain Haddock (the inimitable Andy Serkis) have been paid handsomely to mutiny against Cap…

Review: Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Since J.J. Abrams took the reins of the Mission: Impossible franchise, there has been a sense of fun and exhilaration unmatched by other action series. The tone for the films prior to the 2006 release was an evolving one: Mission: Impossible played it dark and had very little room for laughs of any kind, the sequel dialed back the seriousness, but not enough to translate to a good time. Placing Abrams in the director's chair was a good start to revitalizing the series and once it was announced the Pixar's Brad Bird would helm the fourth film, anticipation went sky-high.

Ghost Protocol opens with Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) breaking out of a Russian prison to the tune of Dean Martin’s “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head”. From the opening on, the audience knows it is in the hands of a director who can compose action sequences cleanly and competently.

Newly named field agent Benji (Simon Pegg, one of two IMF holdovers from MI: 3) and Jane Carter (Paula Patton) await Hunt outside the comp…

Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

David Fincher doesn't need great source material to turn in celluloid excellence: The Social Network proved that if one does than something great will occur, but the originalDragon Tattoo novels are not such material.
The Swedish adaptation left me feeling cold back in 2009, but given Fincher's track record, I felt like I owed this film a shot. When the opening scene of the film opens with Vanger's phone call, I started to get antsy, is this going to be a shot-for-shot redux? No. No, it's not, the pulsing opening credits scored to Karen O's "The Immigrant Song" made me quite aware of that.
Harriet Vanger has been missing for the better part of forty years, given that piece of information the fact that Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) keeps receiving portraits from his niece is disconcerting. Enter Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig). Facing a major libel suit and perhaps jail time, the last thing the journalist wants to do is add another opportunity to be…

The Vault: Juno (2007)

Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) doesn't take anything off of anyone. Her befuddled father Mac (J.K. Simmons), her sometimes prickly stepmother Bren (Allison Janney), or the jive-talking convenience store clerk (Rainn Wilson). Her buddy Leah (Olivia Thirlby) is a girl turned on by corduroy jackets and bald patches. Her unique lifestyle implies a snarky teen, but the truth is much different, she's ironic but insecure.

Paulie (Michael Cera) is enlisted in an experiment involving a life experience and a comfy chair that, of course, results in Juno's pregnancy. Pondering her options of whether or not to keep the child, Juno visits to the local clinic and changes her mind about aborting the child (and keeps the movie rolling along).

With a full head of steam, Juno embarks on carrying the child and remain a full-time high school student. First things first, she needs to find adoptive parents for the child. Cue best friend Leah with a copy of the PennySaver and a quick comment to go al…

Review: Carnage

Pleasantries are exchanged, food is offered, smiles are forced, secret resentments are harbored. No, this isn't an awards ceremony, this is a reconciling between the Longstreets and the Cowans. A school yard incident between their sons turns a meeting between parents in a New York City apartment into a summit of every conflict in the entire world.
Penelope Longstreet (Jodie Foster) and Nancy Cowan (Kate Winslet) are the respective mothers of Ethan and Zachary. Zachary knocked out two of Ethan's teeth and rather than take things to court, these two couples are trying to handle things civilly. Tempers are near flaring, but Michael Longstreet (John C. Reilly) is trying to keep everything at an even-keel without pissing off the Cowans or his wife.  However, everyone is irritated that Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz) doesn't bother to express any feelings at all. He is more concerned with Walter's news that there could be a potential lawsuit against his company.

An amicable si…

Golden Globes Nominations Announced

All right nominations for the criminally underrated Brendan Gleeson in The Guard and Kristen Wiig for Bridesmaids. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association may not always get it right, but surprises like that are always appreciated. That said still no love for Michael Shannon and his ground-shaking performance in Take Shelter.

The rest of 2011-2012 Golden Globe Nominees are:

Motion Picture, Drama
The Descendants
The Help
The Ides of March
War Horse
Best Director – Motion Picture
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
George Clooney, The Ides of March 
Michel Hazanvicius, The Artist 
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo Best Performance By An Actress In A Motion Picture  – Drama
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton, We Need To Talk About Kevin Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture – Drama
George Clooney, The Descendants
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
Michael Fassbender, Shame
Ryan G…

'Dark Knight Rises' Prologue Reaction

After retiring from a trip that saw a great deal of people dressed in cowls, joker make-up, and capes I am ready to report. You must see The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX. The experience is completely immersive. Given that a majority of the prologue's action takes place in planes at 10,000 feet in the air, you will appreciate the benefit of a larger screen. A few peeks were offered of Catwoman and the Tumbler, but the real treat was seeing Bane in action.

To address the elephant in the room, yes, Bane's voice is a little difficult to decipher at points, but it is synthesized and—I think—meant to emphasize his inhumane nature. Beyond that there is nothing to worry about on the villain front. The Joker may have been a master of psychological warfare, but Bane is all too willing to burn Gotham to the ground. A shot of him dropping Batman's shattered mask to the ground before the prologue ends is all we need to know. This is a monster of an entirely different sort.

Off to the 'Dark Knight' Prologue

If this seems like gloating, forgive me, I am just really excited. Thoughts will be posted after returning from the prologue screening. I would also like to thank Warner Bros. for hosting the event. Giving an advanced look at the most anticipated film-event of the year is always appreciated.

(Courtesy: Warner Bros.)

Review: The Descendants

It's often said that if you don't like the weather in Hawai'i just wait ten minutes. What's more true of Alexander Payne's The Descendants is if you don't like the mood of the film just wait a scene. That's not to say that the film's transitions aren't enjoyed--because they are, immensely. Payne's previous effort, Sideways,was famed for within seconds flipping from heartbreaking to hilarity.

Hawai'i, the name alone conjures magical memories and images for most. Sandy beaches that spread as far as the eye can see, skirted dancers and pigs on a roast. What could be better than this paradise? To hear Matt King tell it, "Paradise can go fuck itself". Tourists never had to deal with the condescending parents of their children's friends. Paradise never had to deal with a wife in a coma.

Matt was the backup parent, now he is thrust into the duty of raising his daughters. His wife handled Alexandra and Scottie, in fact, she handled ev…

'Amazing Spider-man' Poster

Impressive. Sony could have taken the status-quo marketing approach to the film, but they didn't. Good on them.

(Courtesy: Superhero Hype)

'Django Unchained' Poster

Granted, neither of these posters will be the official poster, though they are still quite fine looking. Better than anything The Weinstein Company will put out in a year anyway.

(Courtesy: Federico Mancuso)

NY/Boston Contest Winner

Well here we are a month later and the competition to win two tickets, courtesy of On Location Tours to sightsee either Boston or New York City has ended. And the winner is... Andrew! Front Room Cinema would have been the winner but the contest if for U.S. residents. Sorry.

FrontRoomCinema 12
Andrew 7
Dan 5
Rodney 5
Sliccy 3

Thanks again to On Location Tours for their partnership!

FYC: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I've written about this topic before and the time is as good as ever. Motion-capture performance is just as legitimate as any other medium in film. Recognize it. Now.

Lizard Concept Art for 'Amazing Spider-man'

Today reveals yet another look at the Lizard (Rhys Ifans) from Marc Webb's upcoming Amazing Spider-man. Many didn't anticipate the antagonist to look so human, but given that Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) has to empathize with him it would make more sense for a less monstrous appearance.

(Courtesy: Coming Soon)

'Young Adult' Red-band TV Spot

I think we all remember the adage, "Cry over spilled wine".

'The Artist' and 'Take Shelter' Lead Spirit Awards

The Artist and Take Shelter each received five nominations from the Indie Spirit Awards this morning. Drive, The Descendants, 50/50 and Beginners will fill out the competition for Best Feature. I was a little surprised that Win Win didn't make it into the crowd, but nominations for Michael Shannon and Ryan Gosling more than make up for it.

The rest of the nominees:

Best Director:
Mike Mills (Beginners)
Nicholas W Refn ( Drive)
Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter)
Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Alexander Payne (The Descendants)

Robert Altman Award: Margin Call

Best Int’l Film:
A Separation
The Kid With a Bike

Best Male Lead:
Demian Bichir (A Better Life)
Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Ryan Gosling (Drive)
Woody Harrelson (Rampart)
Michael Shannon (Take Shelter)

Best Female Lead:
Lauren Ambrose (Think of Me)
Rachel Harris (Natural Selection)
Adepero Oduye (Pariah)
Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene)
Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)

Best Supp Male:
Albert Brooks (Drive)
John Ha…

To Be, Or Not to Be Olivier

Very infrequently does the opportunity to play an acting legend present itself . More seldom when the actor is one you have been compared to your entire career.
Kenneth Branagh has been steeped in Olivier's shadow for years, despite that no men have done more to revive Shakespeare than Branagh and Olivier. Both, well versed in stage acting, crowned with honors, etc.
Branagh is no stranger to adapting Olivier's work—he remade Sleuth in 2007, as well as wrote and directed adaptations of Henry V and Hamlet—so playing the man may have been too tempting to pass up. Few men are as decorated as Laurence Olivier (10 nominations, 3 Oscar wins) and playing Sir Laurence may finally be the push for Branagh to win the gold statue himself.
Branagh plays Olivier as a man of contradictions. He desperately wants to be as big a star as Monroe, but his selection of roles makes that transition almost impossible. He nails the voice, mannerisms, and the odd mix of modesty and arrogance that compel…

'The Dark Knight Rises' Screencaps

I promised myself that I wouldn't look at any screencaps online, but surfing the web over Thanksgiving proved to be too fruitful to pass up. The focus of the final Nolan-Batman film is headed in the right direction and one can only hope that maybe... just maybe that a comic book film will get its due. The other two screencaps are available at Empire.

(Courtesy: Empire)

Review: Hugo 3D

Thinking of Martin Scorsese, the top five pictures that came to mind are probably violent. The living legend of cinema has made his name on gangster films such as Mean Streets, Goodfellas, Casino, Gangs of the New York and The Departed, but a tale about an orphaned child in Paris wouldn't seem to be his forte. Sitting in the theatre after the lights came up, that assumption was wrong.

The story begins with a boy named Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) and his father, a gifted clock-maker. His father (Jude Law) comes home bearing a gift in the form of an automaton. He perishes in an accidental fire and young Hugo is left in the care of his drunken uncle Claude. Trained to do his uncle's duties Hugo becomes the repairman for the train station, Claude disappears not long after and Hugo is orphaned.

Living in the station, Hugo scavenges for parts around the station in hopes that he finds the missing piece to his father's automaton. His hunch is that the automaton has a message f…

Review: The Muppets

For a while it seemed like The Muppets would be lost to time. Their last appearance was 1999's Muppets from Space, which was a far cry from their successful run on television in the 70s and the revered films from the 80s and early 90s. The lack of films since suggested that maybe Kermit, Ms. Piggy, Fozzie and the rest of the gang may not come back.

That Jim Henson's creation may not grace the silverscreen apparently also upset Jason Segel as well. With Forgetting Sarah Marshall cohort Nicholas Stoller on hand, Segel took his childhood love and poured his heart out into the script.

Brothers Gary (Jason Segel) and Walter (Peter Linz) are without a doubt the biggest Muppet fans in the world. The two are headed on a trip to Los Angeles with some big plans: Gary plans on proposing to longtime girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) and Walter's first stop is Muppet Studios. The studio has long since been abandoned, but tours are still given. Desperate to see as much as he can, Walter bre…

First Look at 'Prometheus'

The production of Ridley Scott's upcoming Prometheus has been shrouded in secrecy, but Entertainment Weekly has provided us with a look at the Alien prequel. I couldn't say what it is we're looking at, but it involves eggs and a very large head.

(Courtesy: EW/Dread Central)

Japanese 'Young Adult' Poster

Not all of the posters for Jason Reitman's Young Adult have been winners, but this one is quite nice. Each subsection reflecting the different shades of Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron). Although how many of those shades are likable is anyone's guess.
(Courtesy: Imp Awards)

Empire Reveals Batman, Bane and TDKR's Timeline

According to Empire's sitdown interview with Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises will take place eight years after the events of The Dark Knight:

"It's really all about finishing Batman and Bruce Wayne's story," Nolan comments. "We left him in a very precarious place. Perhaps surprisingly for some people, our story picks up quite a bit later, eight years after The Dark Knight. So he's an older Bruce Wayne [and] he's not in a great state."

Apologies for the belated nature of these covers, but this week has been a busy one for me. They don't reveal a great deal, but Batman (Christian Bale) has one hell of a taser. Even a superb Venom-high couldn't keep that from taking you down.

(Courtesy: Empire)

Save Community

Granted, the show has not been cancelled, but why wait for it to come to blows before we get out there? All together Community fans should be able to muster six seasons and a movie. Plus, watching it makes you smarter: The top three shows of people with four or more years of college are Parks and Rec, The Office and-you guessed it-Community.

(Courtesy: Vulture)

'Shame' Quad Poster

Bravo to the marketing team behind Steve McQueen's Shame! Impressive posters like this haven't been seen since Black Swan last year.
(Courtesy: EW)

New 'Avengers' Banner

The Disney/Marvel team seems pretty insistent on not revealing the Hulk at all. Granted, one should not complain that much considering that it isn't another poster where they are all pointing their weapons at each other inadvertently.

(Courtesy: IMP Awards)

'Dragon Tattoo' Soundtrack Cover Art

Still no release date, track names, or anything really, but we have the cover art now. And the soundtrack is still by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross so it will be worth the wait.

(Courtesy: The Playlist)

Oscar Senses Tingling, Part Two

The Ides of March What it's likely to get nominated for: Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Hoffman)
What I'd like it to be nominated for: Lead Actor (Gosling)

I don't know what Ryan Gosling has to do to seriously warrant some Oscar consideration, but come on! Nominations for Hoffman and 'Ides' are a lock. Clooney would probably net something for his dichotomous role as Governor Mike Morris, if it weren't for The Descendants.

Martha Marcy May Marlene What it's likely to get nominated for: Lead Actress (Olsen)
What I'd like it to be nominated for: Supporting Actor (Hawkes)

This year's Best Actress field is a fiercely crowded one. Between the legends of Close and Streep, you have the solid Viola Davis and underdog character actors Olivia Colman (Tyrannosaur). Olsen may not be able to pull off what Jennifer Lawrence did last year with Winter's Bone.

J. Edgar What it's likely to get nominated for: Best Picture, Lead Actor (DiCaprio), Supporting Actress (D…

The Vault: Rebel Without A Cause

Rebel Without A Cause is made for a certain generation. One that was desperately in search of a hero, a patron saint, a man who could obtain freedom and show expressing yourself is the key of life. James Dean, in 1955 and throughout the 50’s and 60’s, was that hero. 
However, it is with great melancholy that Nicolas Ray’s touted and beloved classic is a deplorable, languid mess of a picture.

The film follows Jim Stark (Dean) a rebellious teenager, upset with everything and everyone. Particularly his father Frank (Jim Backus): a symbolic character, who represents Stark’s quest for manhood and integrity (neither of which his apron wearing father contains).

Written by Stewart Stern and adapted by Irving Shulman’s novel by the same name, the plot in Rebel Without A Cause is not only scarce, but irrelevant. There’s next to nothing in quantity and quality in the film. Perhaps that’s on purpose, though.

The film is not so much lacking purpose, as it is perplexed in it its way of direction. Iron…

Review: J. Edgar

A sprawling bio-pic about one of history's most controversial figures directed by Clint Eastwood and written by an Academy Award winner seems like it should be one of the year's best pictures. However, films like J. Edgar prove that this is why movies are watched before their success is speculated on.

J. Edgar Hoover was not a well-liked man, he was intensely private and let personal prejudices color his mind when enforcing law. Despite his contempt for authority, he outlasted eight presidents and made the FBI one of the most powerful institutions in the United States. A man of public outstanding morals, it is ironic the most lasting legacy of the man is that he was a rumored cross-dresser. Even that isn't verified.

This much secrecy leaves Clint Eastwood and Dustin Lance Black in a tough spot trying to reveal some insight into a man that guarded. There isn't an issue inherent with dramatizing history, but when a film presents itself as an authoritative depiction of a…

'Haywire' Clip Kicks Ass

Unfortunately, only Entertainment Weekly has the trailer so you'll have to hit the link  below to witness Gina Carano grapple with Michael Fassbender—watch this and tell me he shouldn't be the next Bond.
(Courtesy: EW)

Review: Take Shelter

Curtis (Michael Shannon) has a good life: a loving wife, a daughter and a job with decent benefits. His nights as of late have been sleepless. Inescapable storms and faceless people linger threateningly in his dreamscape. He awakens, short of breath and covered in sweat.

Nothing is quite as frightening as the sight of a tornado cloud. No matter how far we run, a storm cloud will cover the distance. It is as if the fury of God is actively playing out against us. If a storm were to hit tomorrow Curtis and his family would have no place to hide. Leaving his family in a gulch is no substitute for a storm plan, so Curtis takes steps to update the shelter he has out back. It may cost some money, but they can't go without.

As plans are made without consulting his wife, Samantha (Jessica Chastain) everyone around him begins to worry. Loans are signed, money they don't have is spent on plywood. Their daughter, Hannah, is hearing impaired. She has a surgery that's been scheduled fo…

'Skyfall' Starts Today

@007 has posted the first set pic from the 23rd Bond film today. Once it's the first day of production it is hard to do better than Roger Deakins as your cinematographer. And maybe it's just me, but is this the same bathroom from the opening of Casino Royale?

"I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."

Stuck in space, millions of miles away from help. The only assistance Dave has is HAL and HAL isn't cooperating. His life has become secondary to the mission and no one else is left. He is a man abandoned. Worse yet, the machine knows that Dave is a liar. We fear that HAL's programming is faulty, rather it works too well.

An Evening with MST3K's Cinematic Titanic

We don't get much here in Reno, though every once in a while we get lucky enough to catch something special. Mystery Science Theater 3000 has been touring around the country recently with their new venture Cinematic Titanic.

The evening's film was the fantassssstic Rattlers and the audience eagerly awaited to relive some part of their childhood--thirties for the most of the audience--in the form of a terrible seventies horror film. A herpetologist is called out to the desert when reports of snack attacks are becoming too frequent for the small town sheriff who expects about 2-3 calls a day.

Enter Dr. Tom Parkinson who, to his dismay finds out he has to work with a woman! ("She doesn't even have a safari jacket") The two scour the desert ("I drew the place on the map where those two kids died") and come upon an even military plot to release chemicals into an old cave. The snakes are now exposed to the nerve gas and... well, you don't care about the …

Bond 23 Is Officially 'Skyfall'

The wait is over! Daniel Craig is returning as Bond on the bigscreen. MGM and Sony Pictures officially announce today that Bond 23 will be called Skyfall. Javier Bardem is indeed the film's villain, Naomie Harris will play Eve, with Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney rounding out Skyfall cast.

The official plot synopsis, as posted by the @007 Twitter account, reads as follows: “Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.
(Courtesy: 007)

New York/Boston Tour Giveaway

Want to eat in the same pub that Jack Nicholson broke Leonardo DiCaprio's hand in The Departed? Hit the club from Boardwalk Empire? See the Bandshell from Breakfast at Tiffany’s?

On Location Tours is giving away two tickets (airfare not included) to tour all of these locations and more in New York City and Boston. All you have to do is have the most comments for the month of November. At the end of the month the comments will be tallied and you and a friend can see all these sites and more.