Posts tagged Movie

James Knows…Movies: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008)

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It’s my opinion that Michael Cera can do no wrong. He caught my attention with Arrested Development and since then has just been a consistent awkward ball of hilarity through every appearance he’s made. Unfortunately even his penchant for uncomfortable moments couldn’t save Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Based on the book of the same name by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, the film takes a look at one night in the lives of Nick and Norah as they’re thrown together and they obviously are meant to be. But will they or won’t they?

Nick (Cera) is a soft-spoken guitarist in a band with a couple of gay kids. Norah (Kat Dennings) is the cynical daughter of a major recording studio owner. They run into each other at a gig for Nick’s band, but Nick is still hung up on ex-girlfriend Triss (Alexis Dziena) who is with new guy Gary (Zachary Booth) and Norah is concerned about her drunk friend Caroline (Ari Graynor) and gets in touch with on-again / off-again boyfriend Tal (Jay Baruchel) and who’s that guy that’s following the band around? Throw all these characters together in the night life of New York City and a mediocre soundtrack and you’ll have a movie that teens will flock to…right? (more…)

Movie Review: Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)

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Last night I had the pleasure of seeing an advance screening of Kevin Smith’s latest film, Zack and Miri Make a Porno. The film, due out for theatrical release on Halloween, stars Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks in the title roles. They’re lifelong friends and current roommates who are flat broke and do what any sane people would do when faced with no other options: Make an adult film. Seems simple enough, right? Throughout the film, we’re shown how Zack and Miri, who have been friends since the 1st grade just belong together. It’s this little bit of romance that gives the film so much heart which somehow shines through all of the dick jokes.

Oh yeah. There are dick jokes. And quite a lot of them actually. I mean, the title of the film has the word “Porno” in it. What were you expecting? There’s a ton of raunchy humor in this movie, but it’s not done in a tasteless or unfunny manner that you’d expect from some of the current low-brow films that are out there (*cough*Epic Movie*cough*). I’d put this on about the same level as Knocked Up or Superbad on the language front. (more…)

Movie Review: Burn After Reading (2008)

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Burn After Reading is the third and final installment of the Coen Brothers’ “Idiot Trilogy” with actor George Clooney (the first two being O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Intolerable Cruelty). The film certainly lives up to that. It’s filled with idiots. Amazingly hilarious idiots.

The film takes a group of seemingly random adults living relatively boring, normal lives and spins them completely out of control. This is one of those movies where everyone starts out separate or with very minor connections and then by the end their paths are crossing over and over again and those that would normally never interact are suddenly forced together. I wish I could describe the film in more detail, but I’d seriously be here forever because things just grow and grow here. There’s a lost CD with “really secret important shit” on it that’s recovered by a complete moron of a personal trainer (Brad Pitt) and used in an attempt to blackmail an ex-CIA analyst (John Malkovich) who’s wife (Tilda Swinton) is considering divorce and cheating on him with a man from the treasury (George Clooney) who’s a womanizing charmer who’s also seeing a gym manager (Frances McDormand) who works with the moron! Phew! Still with me?

With this amazing cast coupled with the Coens’ signature wit, it’s tough to go wrong. I felt that each actor really hit their mark and they’re all pretty good on their own. When you throw two or more of them together, they really work well bouncing things off of one another. Between Pitt’s ridiculous antics, Clooney’s surprised expression, and Malkovich’s mouth that would make a sailor blush, I was cracking up in the theater.

The “out of control” part started to lose me a little bit towards the end, but managed to reel me back in. There’s a point where things just seem like they’re almost too far out there, but an appearance by J.K. Simmons brings in back home. I really wish that guy did more comedic work because he’s just great.

Burn After Reading can best be described as “quirky” like all of the other comedies by this pair of brothers. There are moments that come out you out of nowhere that will shock you and that’s typical of a Coen film too. It just works. Don’t believe everything that you read about the film. (I’m looking at you, Lisa Schwarzbaum) If you’re a fan of the other Coen comedies, you’ll enjoy this one too.

Rating: ★★★★½

Movie Review: Tropic Thunder (2008)

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In a land filled with horrible, unfunnyspoofs (I use that word lightly), it’s a pleasant surprise when something like Tropic Thunder rolls into theaters. Crappy movie producers take note: This is how you do a parody.

Literally thrown into the battlefield, a group of actors try to make their way back to civilization while encountering vicious Asian drug dealers. Sounds hilarious, right? Well, when the actors include Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr (in what amounts to black face), and Jay Baruchel (from Undergrads) you’re all set for a comedy. Throw in some cameos by Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey, Bill Hader and more and you’re even better.

Similar to Hot Fuzz in the action spoof genre, Tropic Thunder does a great job of balancing the comedy with the actual action. While the film is still a comedy first and an action movie second, there’s still plenty of both to make this a great movie.

The main topic that’s being made fun of is Hollywood itself. The film even starts out with trailers for fake movies starring the main actors from the film. These are complete with overly dramatic voice overs and opening movie studio logos. There was some protesting when the film premiered, but I’m sure that just drove more people to the theater to see what all the hub-bub was about. I can see how some people might be offended by the depiction of the mentally handicapped in the film, but I feel like it’s a lot of overreacting. Stiller (who not only stars, but produced, directed, and co-wrote Tropic Thunder) isn’t making fun of the mentally handicapped. Instead he’s showing how far an actor is willing to go in an effort to try and redeem themselves in the eyes of Hollywood. This superficial, ridiculous culture is what is being spoofed here! It’s similar to the beef that Kevin Smith got with Chasing Amy. There were some words said about lesbians which some people were offended by. Smith pointed out that they purposely had the lines said by the character that’s a complete moron in the film. It’s obviously not to be taken seriously and by having the lines said by such a character, it should be seen as a stupid saying to begin with.

Bottom line: Tropic Thunder is great. It’s a hilarious film with plenty of explosions and it’s just downright fun and that’s what movies should be in the first place. FUN!

Rating: ★★★★½

Movie Review: Pineapple Express (2008)

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Truth be told, I’ve never gotten high. I’ve read about it. I’ve seen it in movies and first hand, but I’ve never smoked the ganja. I don’t know if that would have really effected my view of the latest film from Apatow Productions, Pineapple Express. When I first saw the trailer a few months ago, I thought this movie looked awesome. Unfortunately, it just didn’t click for me.

Don’t get me wrong, Pineapple Express is definitely funny. There are many, many laugh-out-loud moments. They just come between these incredibly awkward action sequences and disjointed, unfunny scenes. The movie plays like a horribly designed roller coaster. There are times that you’re going along fine and having a lot of fun and then there are these points that you’re stuck upside down in the loop-de-loop and you’re waiting for the carny guy to come over to push the coaster so it can continue down the rest of the loop. There are these abrupt stops for the film where things go from being great to being dry and boring. The pacing was just way off which made the film feel amateurish or almost unfinished.

Seth Rogen is great as usual, however there are some scenes where I felt like he was over-acting. That might have been because James Franco seemed to not really give him anything to work with. It definitely seemed that Franco isn’t as comfortable improving (as is usually the case in Apatow films) and Rogen just acts circles around him.

As I mentioned above, I didn’t hate the movie, but it is far from my favorite Apatow production. It’s worth checking out if you’re a fan of some of the other films from that camp and it’s definitely worth seeing if you’re a fan of stoner films. If anyone sees the film under the influence, let me know if you enjoyed it more or less.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Movie Review: Star Wars – The Clone Wars (2008)

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I was privileged enough to see a sneak preview of Star Wars: The Clone Wars earlier today. After the film ended, my first thought was “Well, at least I didn’t have to pay to see that.” Now, I’m a big fan of the Star Wars films, even the prequels to some extent (however lackluster they are). This film is essentially the start of a new series that will be airing on Cartoon Network. The series will begin after a brief theatrical run of the film (which can be looked at as the series premiere).

While I understand that since the show will be on Cartoon Network that it should appeal to kids, I felt like they just dumbed down Star Wars even more than the prequels did. As with the prequels, The Clone Wars is filled with horrendous dialogue that would have been better written if you asked a 3rd grade class what their favorite sayings were. Also, I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that no one uttered the infamous Star Wars line of “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” That right there makes it null and void when it comes to the films of the Force.

Add to this the horrible new character of Ahsoka Tano, a padawan sent to train under Anakin Skywalker and I’m ready to shoot myself in the face. It’s like George Lucas thought to himself “Gee, what could possibly be more annoying than Jar Jar Binks? I know! An annoying bratty teenager!” As if Anakin wasn’t emo enough in the prequels. Now we have to deal with what amounts to his dumb kid sister that won’t listen to him even though he’s her friggin’ teacher. The chick’s supposed to become a JEDI. How can you be such a pain in the ass if you’re a padawan? Shouldn’t that be a prerequisite to the academy? If you’re a dumb whiny bitch, please leave.

Now, I didn’t entirely hate the movie. Visually it’s very impressive. If I were to watch it in say another language, it would be near perfect. The actual dialogue is just so bad that any visually pleasing film is just torn to shreds. It’s all flare and no substance.

I also can’t review this film without mentioning the other Star Wars – Clone Wars series. Remember that one that was made by the guy who did Samurai Jack that was friggin’ awesome? Didn’t it deal with the SAME EXACT time period? What happened here? Is George Lucas that senile that he’s forgotten that already? That was great. Leave that time period alone and let’s move on to other things like Episodes 7,8, and 9 or at the very least show us a series detailing the time between Episodes 3 and 4.

Bottom line, even for a big Star Wars fan like me, this is a “Skip It.” If you’re a super level 4 Jedi Knight fan, then I guess you’ll see this anyway. Just don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Spider-Man’s Dead. Let’s Try Venom in the Movies!

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Yes, this new came out yesterday, but who cares. This is my opinion on it now. Woo!

Yesterday, the Hollywood Reporter broke some news about Sony looking to develop a spin-off to the Spider-Man franchise. This one would be focused on Venom, the symbiote infested Eddie Brock. A script was already commissioned, but the studio is shopping around for other possibilities.

Seeing as how fans were a little [re: a lot] disappointed in Venom’s screen time (or lack there of) in Spider-Man 3, I can see where the appeal would be. Venom is arguably the most popular Spider-Man villain. He was developed in the 90s when everything was big and out of control. He fit right in with that 90s “X-Treme” mentality. But does Venom really have a place in today’s cinema? What kind of movie could they make? And would they just be erasing the ending of Spider-Man 3 or would they claim that he (SPOILER) survived? (END SPOILER) Or will the symbiote travel to another host? There are a handful of possibilities, but I don’t see a clear plot line though. When Venom started out, he was an evil, people-eating crazy dude hellbent on Spider-Man’s destruction. Come to think of it, isn’t that what he’s always been really. Sure, there have been those times when he fought off other symbiote people, but aside from that he’s pretty much been focused on Spider-Man.

Adding to this movie idea, I like that the studio is looking for someone else to play Venom. Topher Grace was a poor choice for the character in Spider-Man 3. He just doesn’t have his acting chops yet and he certainly isn’t a strong enough actor to carry an entire movie on his back. Do some independent work and get some more films under your belt. People still think of you as Eric Foreman from That ’70s Show.

With the upcoming X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie due out in May from Fox (plus another Origins film about Magneto on the way), you can see what Sony is thinking. Sure, they can (and probably will) make a Spider-Man 4, but there’s got to be other ways they can milk this franchise, right? I feel like everyone’s looking at Marvel Studios now. What are they doing? How did they come out of nowhere and pump out two blockbusters in the same summer? Why aren’t we doing that? I can only imagine how many more comic book movies are going to be popping up in the next two years as a result of this summer. I just hope that this doesn’t turn into another Elektra or heaven forbid Catwoman.

Ghostbusters 3: An Apatow Production?

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I’ve always loved the Ghostbusters. When I was a little kid, I had a tape of Ghostbusters and one of Ghostbusters II. They weren’t the actual tapes, but copies from TV or the rental store. They sat proudly next to an assortment of tapes including the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies and some Mighty Mouse cartoons. However there was a blank tape between Ghostbusters II and the next one. I had reserved that space for Ghostbusters III because in my mind, that was the next logical step. Why wouldn’t there be a third movie? There had to be a third movie. They made a second movie. Why not a third?

Years have passed, those tapes are long gone (what up, DVD!) and a third Ghostbusters movie never came out. Rumors have surfaced from time to time including a sequel penned by Dan Aykroyd showing called “Ghostbusters in Hell” starring among others, Ben Stiller. There was also talk of an animated movie similar to TMNT now that the original cast is much older. They could still do voice work and an idea like that makes sense. Unfortunately, neither of these have come to pass. I’ve had to make do with fan films which while interesting, just weren’t a substitute for the real thing.

Now, in 2008 a new rumor has sprung up. A Ghostbusters III could very well be coming. It could star the original cast (Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, and the Invincible Ernie Hudson) and the project could be helmed by none other than Judd Apatow. Can we just take a moment so I can complete my nerdgasm? Ok. I’m good. Can you imagine the possibilities here? My mind is spinning. The rumor going around (and this is just a rumor, so don’t go out making a page on IMDB or anything just yet) is that the original cast would return and sort of pass the proton pack along to a new group of Ghostbusters. This new group could be Seth Rogan and other members of the Apatow Gang. The possibilities are endless, but just think of a new team of Ghostbusters featuring Seth Rogan, Jason Segal, Paul Rudd, and Michael Cera with their secretary Leslie Mann put together by Judd Apatow. Hold on. I’m getting multiple nerdgasms now.

Seriously though, this would be phenomenal. The only concern I could see would be the rating. Apatow’s known for some raunchy humor, but could a Ghostbusters film get by with an R rating? Or would things need to be taken down a notch to hit a PG-13. I would think that the studio would want to protect it’s franchise and leave it at PG-13 to be safe. Then again, the people that grew up with the Ghostbusters are now old enough to get into R-rated movies without a problem.

Regardless, I’m excited about the idea of this. Yes, it’s still very much in the rumor stage, but how awesome would this be? I’ll have to get my Ghostbusters fix with the upcoming video game (voiced by the original cast!) for now, but I’m holding out some hope that this movie comes to pass.

Movie Review: The Dark Knight (2008)

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I wasn’t the first to see this movie and I definitely won’t be the last, but holy crap, did I enjoy it (on IMAX too!). The Dark Knight is a damn near perfect film. Clocking in at about 2.5 hours, no time is wasted. You’re thrown right into things with the very first scene and it does not stop.

To give you a small idea of what the film is about, you’ve got the Joker terrorizing Gotham City and Batman struggling to stop him with the help of newly appointed District Attorney Harvey Dent and Officer Jim Gordon. Got that? That’s all I’m telling you about the plot.

Everyone is talking about Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker in this film and for good reason. Forget about Jack Nicholson in the 1989 film. Ledger’s Joker would chew Nicholson’s up and spit him out in a heartbeat. Ledger is your Joker now. When you’re first introduced to him, you’re almost not sure how to feel about the guy. Is he crazy or brilliant? Will he help the mob or fight against them? What is he trying to do? Throughout the film, things build and build as the Joker thrives in the chaos and anarchy that he’s created. As the movie progresses, so does the Joker as a character. You can’t help but laugh at some of his antics, but at the same time there’s this feeling of terror that’s associated with him. He really is insane, but at the same time he seems to be an absolute genius.

When Ledger isn’t stealing every scene he’s in, Christian Bale delivers a decent performance. He’s great as Bruce Wayne, really capturing that billionaire playboy mentality, but as Batman he returns with that throaty growl that we heard in the first film. This time it’s even tougher to understand what he’s saying as he basically grunts at half of his opponents. I can’t imagine how Bale’s throat must have felt after a Batman scene.

While a lot of emphasis has been placed on Heath Ledger, people seem to be skipping right over Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent. The character’s campaign slogan which has been used in the enormous marketing campaign for the film, “I Believe in Harvey Dent” couldn’t be more true. You want to believe in this man. You want to see him succeed in cleaning up Gotham City. He’s the hero with a face as they mention in the film. But any good man can have flaws and Dent is no different. The Joker was just too much for him and as we all know, Dent goes off the deep end…or at least halfway in.

The other returning actors are great in their roles. The replacement of Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes really didn’t do anything for me. First off, I really don’t thing Gyllenhaal is even the least bit attractive. The family’s looks seem to have all gone to her brother. Also, as I’ve said before, Rachel Dawes is an entirely unnecessary character for this story. Batman can’t have a love life. That’s one of his sacrifices. Plus, he doesn’t need someone to balance him out just yet. He hasn’t reached that point. When he does, you bring in Robin.

Yes, this film is darker than the first, but it’s also so much better. There’s a tremendous feeling of film noir within this movie. You’ve got all the necessary elements and it comes together beautifully. The Dark Knight just works on so many levels that comic book fans and non-comic book fans alike can enjoy it just as much. I can’t imagine that the producers aren’t already planning on the next film, but I have no idea where they will go after this one. They leave Batman in such an interesting place that there are just so many possibilities for what they can do. It’ll be tough to top this film, so I hope that the time and care is taken to really do this franchise justice.

Also, just as a quick note, if you enjoyed this film, I highly recommend reading Batman: The Long Halloween as many of the plot points within the film are taken directly from that book. It’s also a fantastic read.

Rating: ★★★★★

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