Wednesday, August 31, 2011

VENICE: "The Ides of March" Reactions

I knew waking up this morning that I'd have to squeeze in a few reactions on "The Ides of March" before heading off to another class. I only got to a few, but the immediate feeling was that my gut-response to the trailer was right. Solid, but unabsorbing, political thriller that doesn't quite know what cynicism is. Then I sat down to my theater class, went for some breakfast, and two hours later I came back to the net to find the rest of the reviews. I had expected the brief bout of disappointment to drift away in later reviews, with the optimistic masses rising in acclaim of the film. Not the case.

I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, because most of these reviews are positive enough. There's a lot of *** and B's being passed out, but not insane adoration. It's funny, because I expected that it wouldn't live up to the hype, but I thought it would still be a Best Picture play. Has that ship already sailed? Not necessarily. It's always a good idea to wait to for the full release, but word from the premiere will be a hard enemy to overcome. Here are a few of the reviews fresh from Venice. If nothing else, the festival is finally underway!

David Gritten (The Telegraph; **** out of 5): "...Despite Clooney’s multi-tasking presence, Gosling takes the on-screen honours. There is a stillness and certainty about his acting, a commanding ability to convey complex emotions in the flicker of an eye. No surprise, then, that he is currently Hollywood’s most sought after young lead. If there’s one problem with 'The Ides of March', it’s that its ending feels too neat, ingenious and labyrinthine for the essentially realistic story that precedes it. Still, the film has laid down an early marker for this festival, and will do nothing to dent the two-way love affair between George Clooney and Venice."

For Your Anticipation: In Space, Everyone Can Hear Your Crappy Horror Flick

There's always going to be a sneaking suspicion that this might be good, because it's the same mockumentary horror genre that worked so well for "Cloverfield" and "Paranormal Activity". Problem is, only one of those two films worked in its intent, and it's the one where events actually happened. This is just an attempt to take advantage of a dying gimmick. Hell, it's a dead gimmick. "The Last Exorcism" proved that strongly enough. "Apollo 18" is just further condemnation.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Miss Bala" Trailer

Of all the films I heard talk of in the weeks after Cannes, "Miss Bala" was not one of them. And then I heard about it, and suddenly I wonder where I was when all the talk about this one was going on. Probably looking in all the wrong places, waiting for a scrap of buzz on "The Tree of Life" or "The Skin I Live In". I'd never even heard of director Gerardo Naranjo, but it looks like he's put together one hell of an intense ride. I won't say it looks like the best thing to come out of Mexico since immigrant workers, but it looks a lot more interesting than what Hollywood's putting out.

Carpet-Bagging: On the Eve of Venice

Things are about to get really interesting very quickly. The 2011 awards season is basically less than one day from being set into motion, with Venice kicking off their festivities with the premiere of "The Ides of March". This is one that many will be talking about, although I must admit that I'm still unconvinced. Some of the moments in the trailer didn't seem to quite congeal, and the intense thriller push from the marketing team seems to be working counter-productively. It ultimately gets me to the point of wondering exactly what the point is in this film. What are the stakes, if any? Nothing seems clear, which may just be the marketing. We'll have to wait until reviews surface, but I get the feeling I won't get what everyone loves about it.

What "The Ides of March" has on its side is that it's right up the Academy's alley. I haven't a doubt that they'll embrace this one, at least as far as a nomination. There are several films this year, however excellent they may be, that just don't fall in line with the Academy bias. I expect others to debate this claim, but I think "Carnage" is one of those films. Roman Polanski has had a prosperous history with the Academy, but his bad press in recent years has probably dispelled any possibilities of future Oscar success. I'd say Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz are both potent acting nominees, at least from the trailer. I still get the sense that this film was largely miscast, and by that I mean by 50%. That's a sizable problem.

Film Review: "Beginners" (***)

 
About an hour into the proceedings of Mike Mills' "Beginners", I began to realize exactly what it was I was watching. I had all the pieces on hand before, yet the film seems like such a quirky focus that you wouldn't assumed it. However, it was only when the film started dragging on that I realized this was an autobiographical work with details drawn from Mills' own life. The main flaw is that the film had to drag on for me to realize that, when it shouldn't have dragged on at all.

The film follows Oliver Fields in two crucial moments in his life that don't quite connect with each other. In one, Oliver is dealing with the ordeal of his father revealing that he has been gay his entire life, all while he is dying from stage 4 cancer. They play very much with his natural discomfort at his father's life choice, as well as his cynical mannerisms towards all his relationships. The other series of circumstances takes place after Oliver's father has died, as he meets a woman and starts a fun and exciting relationship with her.

For Your Anticipation: Good. That's Good.

Can we assume that this is more of an obligatory post than one I wish to write? We are at that point where the wheels are turning on more interesting things than the flock from the dog days of summer. "The Debt" does seem to be a little more than just that, and it's worth noting for being yet another film in Jessica Chastain's freshman year. I have to say, when actors like Helen Mirren and Tom Wilkinson are overshadowed by a relative newbie, it's worth at least mention. This is probably the most interesting thing out there this weekend. It also releases on Wednesday, for whatever reason I can't quite comprehend.


Monday, August 29, 2011

"The Skin I Live In" Trailer

Pedro Almadovar has been a name I've heard on numerous occasions, but I haven't seen one film he's made in my entire life. I doubt "The Skin I Live In" will be my first, and if I ever decide to see it in theaters I'll have to immerse myself in his work a week beforehand. That will put me in a position to dislike this film, because I don't understand a single thing about this trailer. I know the plot from the simple synopsis, but other than that I haven't a clue. Looks nice though.


Alfredson's "Tinker, Tailor" Set Back to December

This is an irritant move by Focus Features, but not at all one I'm surprised to announce. Focus Features has pushed back the U.S. release of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" to the annals of December. The thing is, the film is still set for a U.K release in mid-September, so this move isn't just irritating, but a tad illogical. One can assume that plenty of leaked versions of the film will make it online before its release in December.

Yes, I can understand Focus' need not to contend with close competition of films such as "Carnage", "The Artist", and its like, but at this point they have more to earn from moving the film up than pushing it back. With the Venice Film Festival only two days away now, and Tomas Alfredson's film set to appear by next Monday, it seems like an appropriate time to put this news out there. As usual, America proves to be the least interesting place in the world.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

[the films of] David Fincher

I've appreciated the videos of YouTuber Keesvdijkhuizen for quite some time, yet haven't found a proper opportunity or reason to put them on my site until just now. Given the fact that it's David Fincher's birthday, I figure it's good tribute to give him a bit of attention. His films haven't all been perfect, and it's easy to forget that. Still, they're consistently entertaining, with below-the-line crafts held in high esteem. There's been some talk about whether or not "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is an Oscar play, and it's not at all. Fincher's probably sick of the Academy at this point.

Box Office Update: "Help" Takes it by Storm

I suppose the box office could've tanked a lot more than it did, given the much buzzed about hurricane making its way across the east coast. I have to say that I'm personally underwhelmed by Irene, but it'll do to keep things interesting till we get some quality films our way. For now "The Help" continues to clean up the box office field, just coming shy of $100 million. I admit to completely forgetting of its staying power until it cropped up again this morning. I was focused on the new, which isn't all that interesting.

It shouldn't be surprising that "Columbiana" dominated amongst the new releases, given its action film orientation. I'd be tempted myself if I didn't know that they probably won't be repeating "never forget where you came from" to ridiculous extent as in the trailer. "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" was close behind, which is interesting as there isn't really a demographic for it. I guess that's why it didn't break $10 million. "Our Idiot Brother" was the lowest of the new releases, which is no surprise given it's indie reputation. Doesn't play as broadly as comedies like "Horrible Bosses". Also to no surprise, this weekend performed more than 20% down from last year. Same can be expected from next weekend.

1. "The Help" (Third Weekend; $14.3 million)
2. "Columbiana" (First Weekend; $10.3 million)
3. "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" (First Weekend; $8.7 million)
4. "Rise of the Apes" (Fourth Weekend; $8.7 million)
5. "Our Idiot Brother" (First Weekend; $6.6 million)
6. "Spy Kids 4" (Second Weekend; $5.7 million)
7. "The Smurfs" (Fifth Weekend; $4.8 million)
8. "Conan" (Second Weekend; $3.1 million)
9. "Fright Night" (Second Weekend; $3 million)
10. "Crazy, Stupid, Love." (Fifth Weekend; $2.9 million)

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Fringe: Season 4" Promo

I leave the television heavy-lifting to Stuart nowadays, but you can expect me to chime in on my regular delight with "Fringe". Their most ambitious twist thus far looks to pay off in the best of ways possible. This teaser offers no new footage, but is nonetheless irresistible. Seriously, why doesn't anyone watch this show?

Weekend Report: Me, Myself, and Irene

It's yet another weekend before the quality films of the fall season kick in, but the lack of must-see films this weekend isn't the biggest problem at the box office. It figures that I'd only hear about Hurricane coming if it directly influences the outcome of my week. As such, I probably won't be posting anything tomorrow due to the fact that my college is moving us in a day early to avoid the inclement weather. I probably won't be the only, as the box office has been known to take a turn for the worst during times where people don't want to take the outdoor journey to the theaters.

As per usual, I suggest you take the hint, stay indoors, and pull out some classic from the 1900s. If you really want to cram in a film before hurricane Irene hits, I'd suggest "Our Idiot Brother" as a nice enough time. Don't expect genius, but you can surely expect something funny, entertaining, and a touch above most other comedies this summer. Then again, if you're in the mood for something a bit darker, or perhaps with more of an action bent to it, I've got nothing. "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" looks like your typical jump-scare horror flick, and "Columbiana" was only funny in the trailers.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Films to see in 2011: September

I was rather disappointed to have nothing to recommend out of the August slate. Both "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and "The Help" were better than I expected, and I suppose "My Idiot Brother" looks delightful enough. I guess if you still haven't seen anything from August, those are the three I'd suggest. However, now we're on to September, which has burgeoned into an amazingly successful slate in the past few years. Last year we were supplied with both "Easy A" and "The Town", and I think I remember liking "The American" more than the critics did. It didn't quite deserve the bashing it got.

As for this year, successful films seem to be much more widespread. It's not going to be all shelled out in one weekend, which I really do prefer it that way. Things start out in a really obligatory pattern, and I'm not sure why September usually kicks off with below-standard horror flicks. Do not expect me to spend any time or effort on "Shark Night 3D" or "Apollo 18", and I won't expect you to either. I saw a trailer for "Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star" in theaters, and I wanted to run as far away from that place as I could. It didn't put me in the right mood for "Bad Teacher" either. Or maybe it did. I'm not sure.

Things do pick up from there, although I still have no intention towards "Warrior", one way or another. It looks like they're milking the formula once again. I don't consign to Sarah Jessica Parker, nor do I consign to her latest film "I Don't Know How She Does It". "Straw Dogs" seems like your typical remake. "Abduction", "Dolphin Tale", "Killer Elite", and "What's Your Number?" all look dreadful. "Dream House" might be an interesting popcorn horror film, but not more than that. And "Moneyball" looks somewhat uninspired, and actually kind of boring. If you think I skipped a few films, you might want to continue to my top three films for this month, after the jump.

For Your Anticipation: Who's The Man?

This really seems like a delightful note to end the summer on. I don't think there's ever been a point this summer when I reacted to this film with disappointment or pessimism. I've only ever said that it looks pretty harmless. It look funny, with Paul Rudd taking on something a little different for him. It's not like every other comedy out there, which it might just have that indie touch to make it so likeable.


"Tyrannosaur" Trailer

And yet another film on the seemingly insurmountable list of films I'd like to see before the year is up, "Tyrannosaur" made quite a slam at Sundance this year. While I heard a great deal about it, I still had no idea what it was about. And then this trailer came up to shed light on that question. I'm certainly interested in whatever first time director Paddy Considine has put together, but even more interested in the performances constructed by the wonderful Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman. When is this one coming stateside?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Carpet-Bagging: The Gurus o' Gold Strike Back

I don't consider myself a viable authority on predictions, as I felt that only five of the films nominated for Best Picture last year were really deserving (Brownie points to anyone who can guess which five correctly). I do, however, have interest in the game and the votes of more esteemed professionals. The Gurus o' Gold, as put forth by Movie City News, are always a good first stop, and they've managed to post their pre-festival guesses. These are about as rough as you're going to get. It's worth mentioning that last year, the only film in the top ten that didn't make the cut was "Another Year", and what a score that would've been.

As far as their current predictions, I can see far more falling out, especially with the new rule in place. And I think it's telling that the only sure thing at this point is "War Horse". Steven Spielberg seems nearly destined for Golden Globe victory this year, and that's hardly a complement. I am surprised others don't have as much faith in "The Tree of Life". Yes, it is a bit of an abstract piece, but the people who love it REALLY love it. I doubt "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" will get much traction with the Academy. "Black Swan" just barely made it in last year. I don't think there will be much passion for Fincher's latest. I suppose "passion" is the key word you'll be hearing all season. Which films can get enough passion to get a pass.

Anyway, the top ten list from the Gurus is below. You can see the rest by following the link here. Feel free to comment on your thoughts.


For Your Anticipation: Why Aren't You Running?

I've gone over this horror film enough times to know that it will likely be a creepy sort of experience, but it will never be what it could be if Guillermo Del Toro were directing. Even so, Del Toro, like many other directors, is very much mainstream. "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" will get plenty of people interested in its horror premise, and they will probably be scared. It will never reach the heights it could have if it had been made with a more subtle and eerie approach. In any case, why the hell aren't these characters wising up and running away. Why do they buy houses that used to belong to dead people?


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Carpet-Bagging: The Big & Loud Bracket

I'm officially kicking off this official segment to discuss any and all things Oscar and awards related, as last year was very loose with its designation. I'm still not into making predictions until September is well underway. In fact, I don't feel comfortable making guesses on films I haven't had the chance to see yet. The only mildly certain bet I can place is that Alexandre Desplat will be nominated in Best Original Score again, and he will, in all likelihood, not win. As far as what I've already seen, I wouldn't say his work on "A Better Life" has much traction, but he may find an unexpected push in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2".

In spite of my downtrodden pan of the film nearly a month ago, his score had me padding my eyes quite a few times. Unfortunately, it was whilst I was at home listening to it, wishing the film had only lived up to it. Talking of the massive blockbuster of the summer, Warner Bros. is clearly intent on a Best Picture push for their biggest cash-cow of the year. While I doubt it will get the 5% of the votes needed to secure a nomination, and sincerely hope that's the case, the film has insurmountable box office power and a frankly unbelievable critical backing to boot. It could get enough of a passionate vote to make it in.

However, I expect it to find more success in the technical categories, which I'd be so happy about if they weren't so poor this time out. Desplat's score is the best of the series, and that's the biggest recommendation I can push. However, I had nothing but contempt for the stale and obvious approach to the cinematography, and only a little less for the visual effects. They were competent most of the time, but the broomstick scenes in the Room of Requirement are the worst visual effects I've seen in the entire series. Art Direction is almost guaranteed, and it's been the film's strongest player in past years. No acting, directing, or writing accolades to be nominated here.

For Your Anticipation: People Hurting; People Dying

Sorry for the lack of activity yesterday, but we're in full activity from here on out towards the end of the year. As for "Columbiana", I really blame marketing for my disposition on the film. I thought the trailer was the most unintentionally hilarious thing I've seen in theaters this summer. The line of "Never forget where you came from" has become a bit of a recurring joke. That's all I really take from this film, and I can't imagine seeing it for any other reason. Still, that's not enough reason to see it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Box Office Update: "Help", I Need Somebody!

If I had some sort of foresight on the box office of this weekend, I'd have taken the time out of my weekend to see "Fright Night". It is unfair that that should hit below $10 million. That being said, I still won't see it, if only because I'd rather see something great instead of something merely adequate. Hell, I'm even shelling out some pity for "One Day", which maybe received too much of a critical bashing. I think people were pissed it wasn't the second coming of "An Education", and they immediately wrote it off. I certainly did, without seeing it. I doubt I'd like it too well, but I'm not a huge fan of romances.

On to the real winner of the weekend, "The Help" came out on top, having only dipped % from last weekend. I guess I was right to assume that people would flock to it. It's an extremely likable film. I could see it going on to surpass "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" at this point. The science fiction reboot isn't declining massively, but at a steady pace of which you could expect. It certainly has more staying power than some other notable blockbusters. As for the other new releases I don't really care about, obviously they were the bigger successes. "Spy Kids 4" proved most successful, a horrific crime against nature in my opinion, with "Conan" just behind it.

Of course, what could you have expected with August beginning to draw to a close. There's always been that expectation of something lesser as the most successful part of the year closes out. Next week's slate does have its work cut out for it, as there was a slight resurgence at the end of last summer with "Takers" and "The Last Exorcism". I suppose that "Columbiana", "Our Idiot Brother", and "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" are somewhat up to the task. They're covering the market pretty well.

1. "The Help" (Second Weekend; $20.5 million)
2. "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (Third Weekend; $16.3 million)
3. "Spy Kids 4" (First Weekend; $12 million)
4. "Conan" (First Weekend; $10 million)
5. "The Smurfs" (Fourth Weekend; $8 million)
6. "Fright Night" (First Weekend; $7.9 million)
7. "Final Destination 5" (Second Weekend; $7.7 million)
8. "30 Minutes or Less" (Second Weekend; $6.3 million)
9. "One Day" (First Weekend; $5.1 million)
10. "Crazy, Stupid, Love" (Fourth Weekend; $4.9 million)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Television Review: "New Girl" (**1/2)

One of the few shows I have a chance of previewing before it debuts later this September, I don't think you can imagine much for "New Girl" beyond the typical cliche sitcom pilot. I'd lump it right along as an equivalent to the ill-fated "Traffic Light" from last year, but a slight notch above from the canceled comedy. The premise is simple, with Zooey Deschanel's lead character of Jess being dumped by her narrowly conceived boyfriend, deciding against living with her supermodel best friend due to simple failure in comparison, and snagging an apartment with three guys. It has just enough to barely justify an existence.

The main difference here is that it's occasionally sweetly funny. Yes, the girls are painted somewhat pathetically as what guys think girls are. Yes, the guys are painted as your average douchebags, machos, and pathetic broken types. Still, it's really funny at times. From a recurring theme song delivered dorkily by Zooey Deschanel, to a certain jar-related recurring joke. That's pretty much the two main points, but I'll put my delight in it as a guilty pleasure. It's better than "Raising Hope", so I suppose that's something. I'd call this a sort of recommendation for when it eventually airs.

But then I get to thinking about the fact that this is a series, and it has to pay off in the long term. While there is plenty of room for improvement in subsequent weeks, can I imagine staying on this type of show for a year? No. Maybe two more episodes, but then I lose interest. The next two episodes will have to change things up enough to justify its life in the long term. Zooey Deschanel being dorky and ditsy each week isn't enough, as impossible as that notion may seem.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Weekend Report: Massive Humidity

It's another overly populated weekend at the theaters, with residents being either irritating or obvious. My hopes are that "The Help" continues to hold on fairly well, hopefully engulfing "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" this weekend. But if you have already seen both of those and are just eager for something new, you probably won't find it this weekend. The best suggestion I can give you is "Fright Night", which has enough strong actors, young and old, to draw interest. I was tempted to head out to see it last night, but then I remembered that I'm not that interested. It's probably the most likable film you'll find this weekend.

And the rest? I'd ignore them if I didn't have to write about them. "Conan the Barbarian", which is in massive need of something separating the two parts of the title, seems to be the crowd offering. However, I don't think many are aware of its existence. I just barely know that it exists, but I don't know what it's about. "Spy Kids 4" is... I've already spent more time talking about it than I'd like. And "One Day"? Don't expect anything from it. It might be habitable, but it's about as uninspired as the house my parents slammed together.

"Carnage" Trailer

We're finally making all the stops as far as the slate of films premiering at Venice, and Roman Polanski's new drama has now begun to reveal itself. You can't really expect much of a wide scope coming from something based off a stage production. You can usually expect some strong performances, and while Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly are average as usual, Christoph Waltz and especially Kate Winslet are getting the heap of deserved attention. Winslet usually excels at playing such drastically unstable characters, with "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Revolutionary Road" as two major examples. "Carnage" could give her a strong Supporting Actress bid.

Television Review: "Terra Nova" (*1/2)

So, I guess the most you can say about "Terra Nova" is that it's pretty much exactly what you'd expect, and perhaps a little less. Long given the title of "the dinosaur show", I think I've been attempted optimism ever since that first preview. I kept telling myself that it could turn out like "Lost" did, but that show didn't have animosity from the first trailer. Also, that pilot was genuinely good. "Terra Nova" is simply another attempt at the sub-genre of survival science-fiction. It's pretty much in the same position as "The Walking Dead" and "Falling Skies", but it seems to be sadly falling on the wrong side of the two.

With "Walking Dead", it focuses on just a small group of jumbled survivors. "Falling Skies" dealt more with a rebellion, which aids to all sorts of military cliches and such. "Terra Nova" is about colonists of a new world, which would be a fantastic allegory for how we came into America in the first place if it had any idea of that relevance. It follows a group of people from a dying futuristic society, which you can tell things are as bad as they're ever going to get because people have reverted to nonsensical cliches from lesser science-fiction. They go back in time to the time of the dinosaurs, but because of a loophole (plot device), they're not in their original time stream so they can do whatever the hell they want.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Texas Killing Fields" Trailer

Another Venice premiere unveils itself ever so slightly. To be honest, though, I have no real idea as to what exactly is going on in "Texas Killing Fields". It does look like your standard procedural crime film, and it gives you ample introduction in the beginning. As we go towards the end of the trailer, I just lose sight of exactly what's happening. It becomes too obsessed with being an action film and we get lost in the fray. Seriously, who makes these trailers? My only interest in this film? Jessica Chastain and Chloe Moretz. Other than that? Not much.

Happy Endings

If you were one of the millions of viewers who completely missed "Happy Endings" last year don't worry. ABC in a rare sign of good judgement renewed the show for a second season and are going to place if after ratings giant "Modern Family." For those who missed the first season I've embedded two of my favorite episodes from the first season. Please watch!


Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Season 2

The recent suicide of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" cast members husband puts into serious question the show and the franchise. Russell Armstrong was found dead earlier this week the victim of an apparent suicide. This comes only weeks from the premiere of the second season which was allegedly focused heavily on his estrangement and divorce from cast member Taylor Armstrong. This calls into serious question the invasion of privacy this show commits.
As an avid housewifaholic I have seen every episode of "Beverly Hills" and loved every second of the first season. Possibly the most cringe-worthy moments came from the relationship between Taylor and Russell. There was always a disconnect and it always felt like we weren't seeing the whole story. Allegations have been made about their relationship, with respect to the dead I will not bring them up.
The question really is does this invasion of privacy harm a relationship and a persons ego so much to drive them to commit suicide. It's clear you sign a waiver before you appear on the show. How can you tell what will happen after the fact. I think its easy to argue that the pressure of one of these shows can certainly do more harm than good.
Bravo has yet to announce what it will do with the second season of "Beverly Hills." Possible reediting of the season to prevent any further harm to the Armstrong family is advisable. I seriously hope people take this stress into consideration before they sign up for these shows.


Season 2 is currently set to premiere September 5th.

Better?

My constant criticism of "90210" aside, I still watch it every season. And re-watch it over the summer in preparation for the new season. I was nervous about this new season, then I saw the trailer. I can't wait again. We have proposals, Naomi looking suspiciously not pregnant, Teddy, no appearance of Ivy. It's an interesting choice to only let four characters talk in the preview, but they're the four most important characters so it makes sense. All in All this trailer did what it was supposed to do, made me want to watch "90210" again.

For Your Anticipation: Cunning, Balance, Speed, & Strength

First, I must give a warning that my clip posting is a tad off this week. If I weren't so scatterbrained I'd have placed this post on Tuesday, and swap the order of "Fright Night" and "One Day". As for "Conan", I've made it clear my disappointment in this feature since I realized the protagonist wasn't the ginger talk show host. In fact I hadn't even realized that Rose McGowan had a part in this until recently, seeing as they've done just about everything to make look hideous. Such an enormous pity, as I see her as one of the more immediately attractive actress' who doesn't do much. That is what I take from this film.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Film Review: "Meek's Cutoff" (****)


"We're all playing our parts now. This was written long before we got here."

Do not expect "Meek's Cutoff" to get anything from the Academy at the end of the year, because I doubt many will be passionate enough about it to give it the light of day. It has already been pegged as the "boring film of 2011", and that is surely something of an apt description of it. After all, by unadvanced moviegoer standards, not all that much really happens. It starts with them already on their journey, and it ends with them having not finished their journey. In between them an entirety of one new character is introduced. The fascination about this film isn't these massive events, but about the intimate exchanges between person and person.

The film follows a group of settlers on the Oregon Trail, all being led by one Stephen Meek who hasn't been doing the best job thus far. Only minutes into the film, the families are debating on whether or not to hang the man. Meanwhile Meek remains rather ambiguous in character and intent, agreeing on the courses his employers choose, be it a bit reluctantly. Things really start igniting when they gain hold of a Native American resident whom Meek assumes means to brutally murder them. One of the wives, Emily Tetherow, is cautious of either character, but knows which one of them has led her more astray thus far.

For Your Anticipation: Not Funny At All

So now I finally get the chance to talk about this imminent train wreck of a romantic drama, which marketing is pushing as "a must see EPIC romance". And here I was expected Anne Hathaway wielding a machine gun against mech-suits whilst riding a dragon. I can't invest any optimism in this particular film, because I absolutely hated the trailer, which I was gearing up to like. I guess Lone Scherfig is one of those one-hit wonders, so don't look for anything else of "An Education" quality from him. I'd say avoid "One Day" simply for the butchered British accents from most involved. Also, what is Patricia Clarkson doing in this film? I don't get it!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

McQueen takes on "12 Years a Slave"

 I don't remember the last time I wrote about simple news such as this. Then again, I don't remember the last time news truly warranted my attention enough for me to write about it. I guess I'm just in too much of a rut to pass up an opportunity. In any case, Steve McQueen is currently in a tight position to prove himself, which some could say he already has with "Hunger". I admit that hardly a day goes by that I don't think about the thoughts and emotions that his debut feature stirred up, but that was a debut feature. McQueen is in need of another success to make this news remain news.

McQueen has just been attached to direct "12 Years a Slave", based on the autobiography written by Solomon Northrup. The film would follows the kidnap and slavery of Northrup, despite being born a free man. Depending on what McQueen's next film, "Shame", turns out like, this might be a fantastic third project for the up-and-comer. We won't know for sure until Venice, but I'm still on the side of caution. I trust McQueen not to fail, but I also know that I can't place trust in somebody I've only met once. I'll still probably have "12 Years a Slave" high on my must list for whenever it arrives.

For Your Anticipation: You Don't See It

I'll admit some caution and appreciation regarding "Fright Night", because it seems like a scratch above the average vampire film. That being said, I don't imagine it being much more than trying to capitalize on the latest phenomenon that's on its way out the door already. They have enough interesting casting decisions to put on the side of intrigue, like Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, and Toni Collette. I'm actually somewhat tempted to check it out, but there are plenty of warning signs at something a bit stale.


Monday, August 15, 2011

About Stuart Ross and Last Tuesday..

No. I was not hacked on Tuesday night. Yes! I don't have to spend so much of my time going out of my way to talk about television! Late Tuesday evening, I made a decision that's been on my mind a long time now and is finally coming to fruition. You may have noticed an interesting little post that popped up Tuesday night, and if you scrolled down enough to see, you'll have noticed that I didn't write it. Stuart Ross has been a good friend of mine for a few years now, and it's really exciting for me to bring him on to discuss anything and everything television. Except perhaps "Fringe", because I never got him quite as hooked as I hoped to.

Anyway, Boob Tube Banter was a column in the college newspaper of the school that Stuart graduated from last year. He'd write up weekly about what was going on with television, including his own strange fascination with "90210". Then again, who am I to talk? I spent time each week last year trying to get people to watch a show that nobody cares about. I was always reading what he had to say, and I was actually looking forward to snagging him up after he finally graduated. After a few months of simply drifting idly in the wind, that is now a reality.

And in integrating him into the site, not only do I have a new and distinct voice added into the mix, but it also gives him the opportunity to talk about more. He'll be dealing with both television news and reviews as they come in week by week, essentially becoming our in-house version of TVLine. He's also more than free to talk about films if he'd like. After all, TV and film are both essentially in the same realm of creative media. I've long considered most AMC TV seasons as equally applicable for end of year accolades as some films. So once again, I'm really glad to bring Stuart on board. I think he'll be a great addition, and I'm very interested to hear what he has to say. Things may be a tad quiet until September, but keep an eye out for some of his work.

For Your Anticipation: GET OUT OF MY FACE!

I tried to find a worthy ranking for the abysmal slot of releases coming this weekend, and Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World was the obvious choice for the bottom of the stack. The only seeds for success in this one are built in franchise power, for what that's worth in a franchise that's been out of order for the better half of the past decade. That and the gimmickry of 3D, and even 4D with "Smellovision". It's as if Rodriguez wants to literally rape every orifice of your face. Just avoid this one.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Box Office Update: "Help" Wins Under "Rise"

If things seem somewhat tried and redundant in the coming weeks, it's frankly because there's absolutely nothing new to say. "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" looks to be the last major blockbuster of the summer, still holding the top slot for the second consecutive weekend. That wouldn't be such a major accomplishment if things had unfolded as predicted, but "The Help" was a surprisingly strong debut. Much as I hoped, audiences have been reacting to the drama positively in all corners. It certainly shows up the other debuts this weekend.

"Final Destination 5" couldn't scrape $20 million, so things may be coming to a halt for the horror franchise. "The Smurfs" continues to reap more cash than it deserves, now climbing past $100 million. "30 Minutes or Less" proved to be mostly a failure, due likely to negative reviews and some controversy over real life events. "Glee" didn't even scratch the top ten, falling at number 11 with under $6 million. Things are still generally more positive than the end of last summer, but that could change somewhat quickly.

1. "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (Second Weekend; $27.5 million)
2. "The Help" (First Weekend; $25.5 million)
3. "Final Destination 5" (First Weekend; $18.4 million)
4. "The Smurfs" (Third Weekend; $13.5 million)
5. "30 Minutes or Less" (First Weekend; $13 million)
6. "Cowboys and Aliens" (Third Weekend; $7.6 million)
7. "Captain America" (Fourth Weekend; $7.1 million)
8. "Crazy, Stupid, Love" (Third Weekend; $6.9 million)
9. "Deathly Hallows: Part 2" (Fifth Weekend; $6.8 million)
10. "The Change Up" (Second Weekend; $6.2 million)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Weekend Report: "Help"less Wandering

Having already effused this morning about the highlight of the mainstream summer, to say absolutely nothing of indie greats like "Midnight in Paris" and "The Tree of Life", the rest of this month is admittedly headed nowhere. I'm in fact surprised that "The Help" hasn't gotten a total critical backing. True, it's not the most controversial of racial commentaries, but it's worthy and emotional entertainment nonetheless. I'm certain audiences will embrace it entirely by the time the weekend is out, and expect a prosperous life through till September.

The other competitors this weekend are less fortunate, with "30 Minutes or Less" taking critical flak for obvious reasons, but also gaining a bit of controversy. Anybody denying the obvious ties to real world events is moronically ignorant and this point. It might still get an audience from the curious, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was a massive failure. "Final Destination 5" at least has a built in audience of people who simply want to see people they hate die in graphic fashion. Say what you want about the mediocre young actors, but the filmmakers seem to have a good eye on casting people who we're meant to not care about.

And finally there's "Glee: The 3D Concert Movie". I am a pretty decent fan of the show, which has had plenty of strong moments I enjoy. All the same, there is no real reason for this film to actually exist. I don't see why I'd ever spend money to see any concert movie for that matter, much less in 3D. People are better off with "The Help", but if I had the option, I'd be rushing to see "Senna" this weekend. Having heard fantastic things about it from most ends, It'll be a while before it come 'round my way.

Film Review: "The Help" (***)


I admit some hesitation on the rating I'd place on "The Help", but then I felt that the work of cast and crew behind this film was more deserving than three lousy stars. And then I remembered how corny the script was at times, and reverted back to three. Not to say that this isn't worth it. On the contrary, I am very happy that I was able to end my summer film experience one a relative high note, because I know for sure that I'm not checking out any more of this month's releases. I had expressed unease earlier, because despite the cast behind it being mostly strong, it seemed like far too safe an area to be interesting. Indeed it is, but this isn't really a film that invites too much suspense, nor does it need it.

Based on the bestselling novel of the same name, "The Help" chronicles the lives of a community of people living in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s. While it permeates through several lives, it mostly focuses on a main triad of protagonists. There's Skeeter, a strong willed, business-driven white girl, Aibileen, a proven and experienced black maid for a white family, and Minnie, an outspoken and sassy friend of Aibileen's who has lost a great deal of jobs due to that description. They all bring a different mentality to the table, and they do it in order to change the racist way things are done in Jackson.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"We Need to Talk About Kevin" Poster


GOD FREAKIN' DAMN! I'm sorry, but it's one of those moments when every single other lesser piece of filmmaking is shown up for what it couldn't do. This is one of the poster highlights of this year, and that is not an exaggeration. Strongly evoking some of the 60s/70s era horror posters, with an obvious tip of the hat to Roman Polanski, this makes it clear that it's not the cheery indie of the year. I was already getting massively excited for "We Need to Talk About Kevin", but even more so now than ever. If the French trailer was a bit soft, this certainly isn't. Take a look at the full poster after the jump!

For Your Anticipation: Is That Thing Real?

I highly doubt that I'm going to buy into or care about "30 Minutes or Less", even though it's from the director of "Zombieland", which I remember liking back in 2009. How things can change in two simple years. There are so many components to this film that should work, like Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari are both pretty good comic actors. However, this film just doesn't seem to take things seriously enough. There is a bomb on the main character's chest. That should be more intimidating. It's not.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"Like Crazy" Theatrical Trailer

So it seems like the men behind that embarrassingly incoherent first trailer for Like Crazy have either realized their mistake or been sacked altogether. This trailer is somewhat better in representation of the film, but that being said, I'm still not interested. I'm utterly spent on romantic-dramas of this sort, and if I said it had similarity to Blue Valentine earlier, I sadly changed that comparison towards One Day. Both films deal with romance in a way that is illogical, but not given good enough reason for the lack of reason. So I'm still not so interested, but let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Completely Forgot About "Senna"... And Why I Shouldn't Have!

So apparently ignorance can take its toll, as I've been taught on numerous occasions. The most fortunate thing I can say about this certain item is that I'm not too late for something important. So for the past few months or so I've heard time and time again about "Senna", and all I knew was that it was a documentary about a Formula 1 racer and it was getting universal praise. I'm a much more forgiving fan of documentaries than most, but somehow this just went over my head. I think I can attribute this to simple aversion away from films that supposedly have "universal praise", or close enough. Was it not just a month ago that "Deathly Hallows: Part 2" was arriving to "universal praise"?

So rather than looking into it, I shut it out, as I often do. After all, this site has been on the back burner of my life for most of this summer, not by choice obviously. Mostly from simple neglect. So this week has me coming very much back into the swing of things, and in fact back into the swing of loving movies. I maintain that this summer was a slog, and those who disagree may continue disagreeing. Still, while putting together my week-daily "clips of films releasing this week" post, I came back around to "Senna", which is incidentally coming into limited U.S. release this weekend.

For Your Anticipation: A Wrinkle in Reality

They've already reached the fifth film in their franchise, so I'm just going to safely say that Final Destination is just not going to go away. And I'll assume that it just keeps getting progressively worst. I can't imagine that a Fast Five occurrence is going to happen here, so I'll remain in a state of simply not caring, because I have better things to do with my time. It's times like these when I wonder why I ever gave Saw 3D time for a single word.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Boob Tube Banter

BOOB TUBE BANTER: SHORT TAKES

It’s back. Resurrected like Buffy on the sixth season premier, Boob Tube Banter has made is triumphant jump from the Keene State Equinox to the blogosphere. The BTB will have some format changes. I will update more often, but shorter entries. For the news paper I was limited to once a week, and 600 words. Now I can update whenever I want and just do short takes on television. As most of my thoughts are longer than the 140 characters limited by twitter and shorter than the 600 words as mandated by a weekly column this will be beneficial.

For the first short take on Television news I really have to talk about the craziness behind the scenes of “90210” this summer. First of all the insanity of dropping newly outed gay character to recurring is beyond my comprehension. Without a doubt season 3’s best executed plotline was Teddy’s coming out saga. It was done with a subtlety often reserved for shows that are better done than “90210.” This news was crazy enough before the recent casting announcement of Brandy aka Moesha. Brandy will be playing a politician running against Teddy’s previously never mentioned conservative uncle. That casting would be crazy before you take into account that Teddy is only guaranteed 5 episodes this season. Why add a relative to a character that could end up in only 5 of this season’s 24 episodes. I’m not able to fathom any of this. That all being said my DVR remains set to record “90210” in glorious 720p. At least until I finally lose interest.

If you have been living under a television news rock you will be shocked to learn that “Charlie’s Angels” is going to be returning to the airwaves. The re(make/boot?) will be aired on ABC and will be the third attempted remake from Aaron Spellings extensive production library. From the creators of “Smallville” this show promises pretty girls and some loose approximation of a plotline that I doubt anyone will follow, or care about. The original casting for Charlie was the only part of this project that interested me. Film actor Robert Wagner was set to portray the shows unseen title character. This is a cushy job for just about anyone. You could legitimately phone in your work for the week and collect a big pay check. Wagner dropped out of the project for unknown reasons leaving a title sized void in the show that’s a little over a month away from premiere. Oh well At least I wasn’t planning on watching this show.

For today I will leave you with the preview for the show that’s limited premise could make it a very interesting show. Or could shoot itself in the foot. Well I’m at least excited to see Sarah Michelle Gellar back on the small screen, or any screen at all I guess.

For Your Anticipation: It's Not Like I'd Be Fibbing

I know. Why the hell would I choose to plug this film with a clip featuring the least star power? It doesn't even have a second of Emma Stone? What gives? I guess I just got a little more excited for the film. Not excited enough to abandon my critical malice, which will surely have some problems with this clean feature. A friend of mine described the trailer as "insipid", and I knew he meant it because I had no idea what insipid meant. True, the marketing does give the film a flavorless tone, and it deals with something that isn't that much of a big deal. Still, there's too much talent in the cast for me to dismiss in the least. I'll probably take an hour or two out of my day tomorrow to check out The Help.


Monday, August 8, 2011

"We Need to Talk About Kevin" French Trailer

In the pile of films I can't wait to see this year is We Need to Talk About Kevin, which has calmed down quite a bit since its bolt-from-the-blue Cannes premiere. In the weeks leading up to Telluride, I get an idea in my head for what films I hope play there, and which films I hope come to Portsmouth, NH for Telluride by the Sea. This is certainly amongst the lot, but I can't get my hopes raised too highly.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Film Review: "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (**)


Well, I guess it was a bit silly to get my hopes up for something that is inherently silly in the first place. I should have stuck to my guns from my initial gut impact of the first trailer, because then this film might have been more of a revelation. As it is, I will say that "Evolution becomes Revolution" is an appropriate tagline for the film. After all, it's only truly world-changing in the fact of how much the technology has changed since its inception. It wasn't quite as awful as I had envisioned it to be previously, but the sudden jolt of positive buzz was very misleading heading into it.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes, whose title is the only one this year that needs to be grossly trimmed (outside Harry Potter perhaps), kicks off by immediately taking you out of the experience. It opens to a shot of the real jungle where the apes live, but the apes are quite obviously fake CG apes. This is perhaps the only moment in the film where you get a complete idea for how fake and silly it is, at least in a literal context. It tends to be less evident in later sequences, but things still remain kind of stupid and obviously fake.

Box Office Update: Substantial "Rise" as summer falls

I know it's strange, but I miss this site being, or at least feeling, important. Across the past few weeks I've fallen into a bit of a slump, and I am dearly sorry for that. I'm not in a very endearing or motivating environment, so that makes me feel quite often like I'd rather do nothing. So for the next few weeks leading up to September you're going to be seeing a major resurgence in activity on the site. I'm going to try to talk about something every day, even if there's nothing to talk about in the news. I'm going to get back to my roots of indulging in more trivial news for the sake of anger and enjoyable reading.

So now on to the box office, which was surging this weekend. I'll be getting to my thoughts on Rise of the Planet of the Apes soon enough, and though I'm not quite ecstatic about it, it is better than the film that debuted in this frame last year, The Other Guys. I was surprised by how well the film played with audiences, and should continue to play in the coming weeks of the summer. With little competition in its way, it could have stood out as a sleeper hit if the opening wasn't so great. It still could stick out in that way, but that's for next weekend to tell.

The rest of the box office was successful, but disappointing due to the films they belonged to. The Smurfs rose to $76 million, beating out Cowboys and Aliens after an indecisive finish last weekend. The latter film rests a gulf of $10 million behind, and that gap will only increase in the coming weeks. The Change-Up happily disappointed, with one of the lowest opening for a comedy this summer. Ryan Reynolds has not had a good summer, nor has he deserved one. Captain America still lags slightly behind Thor, but is generally positive at the present time.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Summer 2011 a disappointment?

This is pretty much the last week of the blockbuster season of this Summer that kicked off with Thor, an unassuming and seemingly silly superhero film that many wrote off within the first trailer. Admittedly, I did to. I realize how wrong I was, and in fact Thor is still the most competent blockbuster of this year. Since then things have been hardly keeping themselves afloat, at least in this viewer's opinion. I know many who were more than pleased with Super 8, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, and X-Men: First Class, even if I wasn't. Hell, I even found Captain America of all things to be a somewhat welcome and campy reprieve from all the disappointment.

And that's just scraping the surface of what the viewing public critically approved of. How can we forget about all the warranted cynicism surrounding Priest, the blatant distaste of On Stranger Tides, and the unimaginable stupidity of The Hangover: Part II. And I almost forgot to mention Green Lantern, but it managed to disgust even the most hardcore of fanboys. And (dis)honorable mentions are needed for Zookeeper, Cars 2, Bad Teacher, Horrible Bosses, and others I'm too tired to list. All this hatred makes me forget the few real successes of the year.

Remember Kung Fu Panda 2, and how it brought us the greatest supporting actor performance of the year out of the mouth of a peacock? If Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy bottoms out, unlikely as it is, I'd suggest Gary Oldman just be nominated for that. How about Bridesmaids? Absolutely hilarious for almost two straight hours, and surprising depth from Kristen Wiig of all nutty characters. And I know this isn't a common opinion, but Transformers: Dark of the Moon was the most guiltily enjoyable romp of the summer. I feel no shame in admitting my enjoyment of Bay's loud stupidity.

So the season effectively ends this weekend with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which is about as unassuming as film as Thor was at the start of the year. Fittingly enough, both films look to feature fantastically strong leading performances from unlikely actors. Having seen just seen it now, I can say that it keeps up this summer's streak of being adequate but not at all outstanding. I'll get to that later, but I didn't hate everything about the film. In particular, one thing is truly amazing.

Brett Ratner and Don Mischer Co-Producing 84th Academy Awards

WHAT? NO!!!! STOP DOING THIS TO US! WE DON'T DESERVE IT!!!! I'm sorry, but the more mainstream the Academy Awards becomes, the less it holds to what it truly should be. Brett Ratner and Don Mischer are teaming up for this year's Oscar telecast, and neither of them is proving too inspiring a choice. First of all, Don Mischer was the man behind this past year's hack job of an awards ceremony, and I did not appreciate it at all. And then there's Brett Ratner, who has brought us massive failure after massive failure, all out of the attempt for excitement.

So why did the Academy do this? Because they're looking for somebody with a comedic sensibility, and who knows that better than the man behind Rush Hour 3? I'm being sarcastic, but this is truly a terrible decision I feel awful for existing to see it take place. What do you think? Happy? Engrossingly depressed and alone in the world? Because that's what I feel. When are they going to get Claire Denis to produce the awards?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" Trailer

I'm not sure why the marketing team behind this film is so bent on using thumping and sinisterly effective scores from films I hated, but now they've gotten around to using one of themes from X-Men: First Class. Sadly, all of this is rather misleading to what the actual film will be like. I don't imagine Tomas Alfredson will be using loud and thumping scores too much in his film, and the trailer focuses very much on all the concrete aspects of the story. Yes, it's just as effective as the previous trailer, but can't we get something more?

<a href='http://video.msn.com?vid=4eb189e9-5402-4080-be75-df5d3ed96b68&amp;mkt=en-gb&amp;src=FLPl:embed::uuids' target='_new' title='Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Exclusive Movie Trailer' >Video: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Exclusive Movie Trailer</a>

For Your Anticipation: We call it enrichment.

There's a lot in place to make me want to like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and that's sadly just not going to happen. It could be attributed to the silliness of the plot, the lack of psychological resonance in the execution, or the obviousness of it all. However, that can all be boiled down to the fact that it's a part of this particular series which has never been truly spectacular, even when it was headed by Charles Heston. I'll see the film this weekend, but I don't expect it to be anything special.