Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tuesday's With Movies: 8/27/13

Great Gatsby: Look like a beautiful movie, but most of what I have heard has not been good. Thought, I will definitely give it a look for myself to see.

Pain & Gain: This one, though, looks like it could be a pretty fun movie. From what I can tell looks like a lot of action with a bunch of humor mixed in - which is definitely my cup of tea. The Rock and Mark Wahlberg look to work well together - and I like me some Tony Shalhoub.

Stranded: I think I have said this before, but I really hope Christian Slater gets another break. I really enjoyed him in the 90s, but for some reason he seems to have fallen out of graces with the bigger films. Here, he stars in yet another direct to DVD film - and its one I don't plan to see. Expendables 4 maybe?

At Any Price: Dennis Quaid is a farmer and Zac Efron is his rebellious son - soon an unexpected crisis hurts the family's farm business and their relationship becomes even more strained. Probably not a film for me.

33 Postcards: A young Chinese orphan shows up on the doorstep of a man in Sydney who has sponsored her for many years. Sounds like it could be rather interesting, but not something I would run out to check out.

Pawn Shop Chronicles: Wow, there are a lot of recognizable actors in this film, but it was a huge bomb at the box office - it made just under five thousand dollars. But, I think I might actually want to check it out.

Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's: A documentary about a famous Manhattan department story. Narrated by William Fichtner - but that isn't enough to draw me in.

Reluctant Fundamentalist: A Pakistani man is looking for success on Wall Street, but many things soon get in the way of his dream. Pretty torn if I want to see it - could be somewhat decent.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday's With Movies: 8/20/13

Epic: My son has seen this twice already. I am not 100 percent sure if he really liked it, but he wants to watch it again with his parents. So, I guess we will see how it is.

Scary Movie 5: I don't think this has really been a great franchise since maybe the second film, but I have to check out all of them. This is the first one in seven years, and appears to be the first without Anna Faris - so someone else will have to try and carry the film.

No One Lives: Horror film of the week (or graphically bloody thriller, whatever you want to call it).

Amour: I was actually quite surprised when I saw this was just now releasing on DVD. It was talked about so much around Oscar season - and almost all of those films have been out for awhile now. Still, I don't really have any interest in seeing it.

Killing Season: John Travolta has a bad Russian accent in the trailers. But, I can hopefully get past that - I will probably give this one a try. 1-on-1 war between Travolta and De Niro.

Rapture-Palooza: This looks like it could be really bad, but it has my girlfriend Anna Kendrick in it - and I have to see pretty much anything she does. So, I will see just how bad it is - maybe it will surprise me.

Shadow Dancer: This stars Clive Owen - that is pretty much all I can tell you. I looked and read some descriptions, and I am still pretty lost on what it is actually about.

Hollywood and Wine: Pamela Anderson, Chris Kattan and David Spade - looks like its pretty dumb and also is straight to video.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tuesday's With Movies: 8/13/13

Olympus Has Fallen: One of two White House attack movies that were released this summer - its odd that they come in two (Deep Impact/Armageddon) sometimes. I am not sure which one I will like more - but looks like I will get to see this one first.

The Big Wedding: I am not sure about this - Mrs. Kano might want to check it out, so I probably will as well eventually. I really enjoy Topher Grace - and it looks like it just might be crazy enough for me to watch.

Emperor: A film based on the end of World War II and if Emperor Hirohito will be executed as a war criminal - tossed in is a bit of a love story (of course). Stars Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox - doesn't look amazing, but I think I will check it out.

What Maisie Knew: A film about a 7-year old girl caught in the middle of a difficult custody battle between her parents. Doesn't look like a film for me.

3 Geezers: A guy is up for a role as an older guy and does some research, and discovers his perceptions of the elderly are off. Not too sure about this one - didn't great great reviews, but maybe at some point.

Company You Keep: An ex-Weather Underground member is discovered by a journalist and tries to go on the run to stay away from being identified. Has a really good cast and looks like something I might be interested in.

Hot Flashes: A bunch of middle-aged, former high school girls' champs, form a basketball team to take on the current cocky high school girls' state champs to some basketball games to raise money for breast cancer. Looks like it might actually be kind of funny - we shall see.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Theater Review: The Wolverine

I know its sacrilegious to say, but I didn't hate X-Men Origins: Wolverine as much as everyone else. I think what it comes down to the most is that a lot of people that read the comics were upset about the way things came across and how characters were represented. I never read the comics, so I don't look at it as closely.

But, it is still the worst of the series, right behind X-Men: The Last Stand. And with those two combined, a lot of wrongs needed to be righted. We got a nice, fresh look with X-Men: First Class - and here they try to give us the Wolverine story we were supposed to get.

Hugh Jackman reprises his role as Logan for I believe the sixth time in The Wolverine. And, it is probably his best performance out of all three. He has truly embraced and become Wolverine.

The film takes place years after The Last Stand and Logan is now living as a hermit in the woods - still having trouble sleeping and reliving his actions against Jean Grey. He doesn't go into town often, except to get supplies he needs - and he has basically become part of the wild.

But, hunters in the woods have set him off - and he returns to town to approach one of them. Unleashing the Wolverine despite trying to keep him dormant.

About to do go crazy on some people in a bar, Logan is stopped by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), who for the past year has been trying to locate Logan for her employer Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi).

In a flashback, we find that Logan was in a POW camp in Japan near Nagasaki in 1945. The camp about to be bombed, Logan rescues and protects Yashida from certain death.

Yashida, with a new life granted upon him, becomes one of the richest and most powerful men in Japan and is the CEO if his own technology corporation. Now on his death bed, he has asked Yukio to bring Logan to Japan so he can thank him properly for saving his life - before he dies.

But, Yashida also has a surprise for Logan - he believes he has found the ability to take away his healing powers and allow Logan to live a normal life and die in peace.

Of course, that is just the setup. What would an X-Men movie be without a ton of things going wrong, and someone wanting to take something by force. And, we get a lot of great action sequences - and some great insight into Logan's life, and a new love interest, Mariko (Tao Okamoto), the granddaughter of Yashida - who Logan soon needs to protect.

And, he must protect her as his healing abilities begin to fade away.

This was by no means a perfect film, but it was probably the Wolverine movie we should have gotten in the first place. Jackman is outstanding as Wolverine, and can easily carry an X-Men film on his own - but I was definitely missing some of the old gang.

As good as the movie was - I was even more excited by staying and seeing the credit scene. A great scene that helps setup the next X-Men installment. And, I cannot wait now.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Quick Shots 25

Title: Dinosaur.

Starring: D.B. Sweeney, Alfre Woodard, Ossie Davis, Max Casella, Hayden Panettiere, Samuel E. Wright, Julianna Margulies.

Brief Synopsis: Aladar (Sweeney) is an Iguanodon, who is raised by lemurs and has a best friend named Zini (Casella), another lemur. A herd of dinosaurs are on the lookout for a new nesting area as the one they had relied on near a lake has dried up. Kron (Wright) is the leader of the herd, and believes in survival of the fittest - while being tested by Aladar's need to help everyone. But, in the end his stubbornness ways get hmi in trouble for always having to be right. 

Opinion: This was one of those Disney movies that snuck through the cracks for me. It came out in 2000, which is right around that time I was in college and didn't get a chance to check out too many animated features. The movie was decent - but the best thing about it has to be the animation. The story itself reminded me a lot of Ice Age, which I felt pulled it off a lot better.


Title: Five-Year Engagement.

Starring: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Lauren Weedman, Brian Posehn, Chris Parnell, Dakota Johnson, Rhys Ifans, Mindy Kaling, Kevin Hart, Randall Park.

Brief Synopsis: In a series of flashbacks we learn that Tom (Segel) and Violet (Blunt) met each other at a New Year's Eve costume party. Tom is a sous chef and Violet is a psychology grad-student living together in San Francisco. Soon after getting engaged, Violet gets into a great program at the University of Michigan and Tom agrees to give up his job and move there with her. But, things in Michigan go great for Victoria and soon her time there is extended, but its not going as well for Tom - who soon begins to go a bit nuts.

Opinion: This was a pretty fun movie, and shows just how important it is for both members of a relationship to be happy. The best part of the movie, though, hands down were Brie and Pratt. Pratt played Tom's best friend and fellow chef, Alex, while Brie was Violet's sister Suzie. Alex accidentally gets Suzie pregnant at Tom and Violet's engagement party - despite not liking him to begin with, they get married and soon are even happier than Tom and Violet are throughout the film. They were hysterical, and needed to be in the film a lot more.


Title: Zero Dark Thirty.

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Kyle Chandler, Harold Perrineau, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgetton, Jamhris Pratt, Mark Duplass, Frank Grillo.

Brief Synopsis: The story is pretty much known, especially if you are an American and don't live under a rock. This is based on the CIA analyst, Maya Lambert (Chastain) and her non-stop desire to find those helping Osama bin Laden - and soon tracks down bin Laden himself - she thinks.

Opinion: I was pretty much enthralled the entire time of this movie. Such an important part of history that we all went through together, and this was the story of how we were finally able to track down the monster behind Sept. 11 and take him out. The Seal segment was both difficult to watch and hard to take your eyes off of. Chastain really does continue to impress me with the few movies I have seen her in. Really liking Pratt a lot as well.


Title: Safety Not Guaranteed.

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni, Jeff Garlin, Mark Duplass, Jenica Bergere, Kristen Bell.

Brief Synopsis: Darius (Plaza) interns for a magazine company in Seattle. One of the writers at the magazine, Jeff (Johnson) sees an add in the newspaper looking for someone to go back in time with him, and that he had only done it before. He takes Darius and another intern, Arnau (Soni) with him. All of them take the assignment as a joke at first, but Darius soon begins to take it seriously as she is the one who the guy, Kenneth (Duplass) will be taking back with him. Jeff is really not taking things seriously, and is more looking to track down a girl from high school, Liz (Bergere). Soon, though, things begin to both crumble around them, is Kenneth serious? Or does he have a serious problem?

Opinion: When I first saw this trailer I was into it. I like Plaza, Johnson and Duplass - I didn't even realize Bell was in it, though her role was very small. The movie was outstanding; I loved every moment of it. This was really the second film (Zero Dark Thirty) in a row where Duplass was out of his comedic character, and really even more so, and he was amazing. Really has a well-rounded talent.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Theater Review: Despicable Me 2

I actually remember sort of liking the original film in this franchise, but I really had a hard time remembering a lot about it. That is odd in my house, as I have seen most of these animated films about 300 times apiece, but for some reason I don't think I have seen that one more than twice at the most.

But, with some free tickets in hand, my son and I went to see Despicable Me 2.

How can you tell a new story when the villain in the previous movie is now a good guy? Well, they figured it out pretty well. I actually think they may have improved upon the first one.

Gru (Steve Carell) is now no longer plotting to be the world's most notorious villain. Instead he is trying to be a really good dad to his three adopted daughters, Agnes (Elsie Fisher), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Margo (Miranda Cosgrove).

He is even one of the most eligible bachelors on the block, and the other ladies are looking to set him up on dates.

The Minions and Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand)? They are still there, but instead of making evil objects to help Gru, they are making preserves. That is until Dr. Nefario gets a better job offer from another villain.

Now no longer a villain, Gru still gets pulled into the game as Lucy (Kristen Wiig) of the Ant-Villain League pulls him in to help her track down  the PX-41 mutagen that was stolen from the Arctic Circle. A mutagen that can turn things into indestructible monsters.

The mutagen is thought to have been in the Paradise Shopping Mall, so Lucy and Gru setup a bakery in the mall to go undercover and find out who in the mall stole the mutagen and why they are planning on using it.

That is all well and good, and a decent story line, but the main reason to watch this movie is for the Minions. I believe after the first film the creators realized what they had with these little guys and they are featured a whole lot more in this one. Every time they are on the screen something hilarious is happening.

Also, I have to give it to the little girls as well, especially the littlest one Agnes. They were also very funny.

What is funny, though, with all of the comedians in the film - Carell, Wiig and Brand - it was the girls and the Minions that actually have you laughing. The other characters had their moments, but they were in no way the stars of this film - and it still worked.

Apparently a new film called Minions is scheduled for next year - not sure how a film of just will work, but it should be interesting and they will find a way to make it funny. I just hope they don't over do it and make them annoying with an over abundance of them.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tuesday's With Movies: 8/6/13

Oblivion: When I first heard about it I wasn't too excited. I don't know why, but Tom Cruise sometimes turns me off a movie, even though I eventually see it and usually like it. The addition of Morgan Freeman, however, will definitely bring me in. I will be looking at this one.

Place Beyond the Pines: Honestly, this one I had zero interest in seeing, but I will. The trailer just did not work for me and draw me in - but Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper have been solid, especially of late, so I will check it out.

Mud: Looks great. Matthew McConaughey has really risen to the next level as an actor. After A Time to Kill I thought his career would skyrocket, and it sort of did, except he didn't really do solid films. Now, I think he is on the right track. Look forward to seeing this.

On the Road: Looks like a story about a writer and a young couple and all the people they meet during their drive. Might be something I check out at some point.

To the Wonder: These Terence Malick flicks just don't really draw me in. They look pretty, but way too artsy for my taste. I haven't watched one yet - I might at some point - but probably won't start with this one.

Aftershock: Seems to be the horror film of the week - and it stars Mr. Eli Roth. So take what you want from that.

Antiviral: A guy works at a clinic that sells vials of live viruses from sick celebrities to their fans. But, he soon gets infected with a virus that killed a celebrity, and now he must figure out how she died before he does as well. Different type of story for once - but not enough for me.

The Sapphires: Chris O'Dowd, the guy from Bridesmaids, stars in a film about four Australian Aboriginal girls who entertain the soldiers during Vietnam. Not too sure about this one.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Theater Review: Now You See Me

I put up a small poll on my Facebook page to see what film I was seeing when I was able to get out of work early one night. The choices were Now You See Me and This is the End.

With an overwhelming, and somewhat surprising, difference in the outcome - Now You See Me won pretty easily.

So, off I went. And by the time I was seeing it, I was one of the few people in the theater - which I love.

Now You See Me is pretty much right up my alley, so I was happy to see it. I am a huge fan of films like Ocean's Eleven that have heists committed, and then give you how its done and the reason behind the heist itself. In this film, though, instead of costumes and disguises - magic is used and everyone know who is committing the crimes, but just can't seem to prove that they are.

The film stars an unlikely quartet as the Four Horsemen. Jesse Eisenberg plays J. Daniel Atlas, and is probably the most talented magician of the bunch - and he plays a little different than his usual quirky roles he has played in the past in say Social Network. He is actually sort of playing a stud - which was nice to see him play something different, and I came away liking him a little bit more.

Isla Fisher plays Henley Reeves, Atlas' former assistant who has now branched out on her own and is now more of an escape artist, ala Harry Houdini. She is also very talented, and I think we need more of her in films. Woody Harrelson plays Merritt McKinney, who is more of a mentalist than a magician. Harrelson has become one of my favorite actors over the years, he always seems to do an amazing job.

The surprise of the movie - Dave Franco. Franco plays Jack Wilder, a street magician who uses slight of hand to pretty much rob those around him. Franco sort of sticks out as not really belonging in this group of actors - sure maybe his brother James would fit in, but Dave? But, honestly, he was a standout to me. He was probably my favorite person in the movie.

So, the Four Horsemae are brought together by a bunch of Tarot cards and an unknown benefactor. They join forces to put on a handful of shows, which are sponsored by an insurance tycoon Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine).

Their show, though, doesn't just entertain the audience - it makes them wealthy. By robbing from a bank and showering the money out into the audience. But, how did they do it?

With more shows in the future, the authorities believe this will continue and FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol agent Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent) are put on the case to figure out how it was done so they can pin it on the Four Horsemen.

They also bring in Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), a former magician who now makes money revealing the secrets of other magicians' tricks. It's Bradley that Rhodes and Dray are hoping can figure out how the robberies are taking place.

I cam away really loving this movie. It had a lot of what I love, a great heist, great execution, action and a lot of comedy. Though, some forced love occurred as well - something that always seems to happen in these films. There was no real reason for it, but it didn't take away from anything.

The acting was top-notch, Caine, Freeman and Ruffalo are all outstanding actors. The lowest tiered actor was Franco, and as I said before, he stoodout to me in this film.

There are some twists and turns as well, some of which I figured out during, but it didn't take away from the overall movie. Looking forward to seeing it again.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Theater Review: Monsters University

For the first time that I can remember, I was actually late to a film. I read the times wrong and I showed up for the wrong showing. Luckily, I don't believe we missed much - but still, I definitely hate missing anything. Heck, I don't even like missing previews.

Anyway, onto the film.

Monsters University is the Pixar release of the year. It's sort of been a rough going for Pixar the past few years since the amazing Toy Story 3.

In 2011, they released Cars 2 which I can totally understand why. A lot of critics and adults seem to hate the Cars films, but kids love them. It's probably the most kid-centric of the Pixar films. My son loves them both and I have seen it a ton of times - I don't hate them. In fact, I still enjoy them. But, it isn't the best of the Pixar bunch.

Last year they released Brave, which was a pretty decent, fun film. But, even it wasn't quite up to the standards that we have come to expect from Pixar. It did win the Oscar, but I don't think it deserved it. Disney's own Wreck-It Ralph was a much better film than Brave, in my opinion.

So, we head back in time. Literally.

We return to the world of monsters that we loved in Monters, Inc. and our fiends Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman).

But, we already know their story at Monsters, Inc. - so we are brought back in time for this prequel, to the time that Mike and Sully meet at Monsters University.

Mike is the quintessential over-achiever - and he has to be. He is going to try and become a scarer - and quite frankly he isn't scary. So, he studies and studies to get good grades and try to stand out.

Sully, meanwhile, is a legacy. And, he doesn't study at all - he parties and plays tricks on people, the perfect frat boy.

At first, of course, Mike and Sully despise each other. And, during a test, they are cornered by Dean Abigail Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) to pass the test, and both fail and are kicked out of the scaring program.

Heartbroken, Mike makes a deal with the Dean - if he wins the annual Scare Games he can get back into the scare program. Unfortunately, he must be in a Fraternity - and must have at least six members. So, he has to do it with Oozma Kappa - a Fraternity of castoffs - Don Carlton (Joel Murray), Squishy Squibbles (Peter Sohn), Art (Charlie Day) and Terry/Teri Perry (Dave Foley/Sean Hayes).

He also has another issue, including himself Oozma Kappa only has five members - as Terry/Terri only count as one. That is until Sully himself gets wind of the deal and looks to join - against Mike's wishes, he must allow his enemy in so that he can fulfill his dreams.

A pretty fun and decent origins story of Sully and Mike's current relationship that we see in Monsters, Inc. I feel it was better than the Cars sequel and even Brave - but doesn't live up to the Toy Story sequels, and probably not even the original Monsters, Inc.

It was cool to see some of the other monsters that we see in the original in the background throughout the film. And, we get the return of Randall (Steve Buscemi), who apparently started out as Mike's roommate, and not such a bad guy.

The new characters, other than the Oozma Kappa gang, really didn't stand out. I loved Oozma Kappa though. Art was hilarious and the other members each bring something fun to the table.

The film is still carried by Mike and Sully, however, and Goodman and Crystal work so well together, which is why this film works again. And, you get to see how the two are such a good team in the future, as together they work much better than when they are apart.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tuesday's (Thursday's?) with Movies: 7/30/13

OK, this is now two days late. I am a little off this week and totally forgot to do this Monday night then I just never did it the past two days when I remembered. So, its late - I am sorry.

G.I. Joe Retaliation: I actually liked this movie, and it was a decent start to a pretty fun summer of movies for me. I have been to a lot more films this summer than I was even expecting, and I love it. Anyway, here is my review.

Filly Brown: Looks to be about a street girl who is pretty good at rapping. But, of course there is a twist and she must choose between money and stardom, and her friends who have been there for her. Not really up my alley.

Assault on Wall Street: After losing everything during the economic struggle, a man snaps and goes nuts, looking to get revenge. Has a lot of people known to be good secondary characters, but no real star. Doesn't really excite me.

Black Rock: Three girls, who were friends when they were kids, get back together for a girls' weekend on an island they used to hang out on when they were kids called Black Rock. Soon, they are in a position where they are fighting for their lives. I have to say, I am a big fan of Katie Aselton and her work on The League so I definitely want to take a look at this.

Flying Lessons: Well, this can't be that great of a movie. It was apparently released in 2010 and it's just now being released on DVD. That alone has me scared - and I doubt I will look into this.