Saturday, November 30, 2013

George Clooney Says, "Hollywood, Ignore Hedge Fund Investors"

[It took me almost 3 hours after posting to add some additional material. Apologies to everyone who checked it out early on, but I had made some updates and they didn't save properly] On Friday, August 2nd, I noticed an article about writer/director/actor/heartthrob George Clooney. The guy appears in news articles often enough, but in this case, he was speaking out against a certain person who is exerting influence on Sony film-making studios.

Now, as has happened so often in the past, this article shows us an individual who is smart and opinionated - and, most importantly, deeply-committed to the film industry.

In essence, the article is about an activist investor named Daniel Loeb. In case you don't know much about activist investors, here's the link to the Wikipedia page on the topic. For those of you who don't want to read it (and shame on you for being lazy), I can summarize the idea thusly: they're people with money who buy a lot of shares in a company and then tell all the other shareholders that the business they invested in isn't being managed properly. They then suggest various ideas for making the business more profitable.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Kick-Ass Review: A Good Bad Film

Kick-Ass is such a mixed, hit-and-miss film that I had a hard time reviewing it. On the negative side, I have a very limited number of compliments to give it. On the positive side, at the very least it drew some strong reactions out of me, which is to its credit. But even there, this created a problem because it left me with a lot of criticism to lay down on a film that is both (a) unimportant (it's not Eraserhead or even The Last Temptation of Christ) and (b) actually does some things very well.

Matthew Vaughn's 2010 super-hero action comedy follows Dave Lizewski. He's a typical teenage student - life sucks, but he's got a few friends, and there's a girl at his high school that he likes, even though he doesn't dare to ask out. Like a lot of young boys, Dave daydreams of being a superhero. But rather than pretend he's Iron Man or Batman, Dave raises the bar, buys his own superhero costume, then goes out to fight crime.

On his first attempt at vigilantism, Dave's beaten badly, then hit by a car, which leaves DL needing surgery and physical rehabilitation. And it's in these scenes that you see the spirit of the movie: the way Kick-Ass's comedy of embarrassment works is by having reality step in and kneecap people... then twist it all around by using incredible absurdity as a chaser.

In this case, the absurdist part comes when poor, stupid Dave looks up at his x-rays and realizes he has metal in his body like Wolverine; also, the damage from his injuries has left him a bit desensitized to pain. So, yes, trying to become a superhero and failing badly at it actually gives Dave the tools he needs to go back onto the streets as Kick Ass, a guy with "actual" super powers.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

QftWo 11/25-12/1: Imposters #18 - Birth of the Dead

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! It is the time that all of us in the US take an extra 1-to-2-1/2 days of off work to meet with family and eat copious amounts of food. Between the day off, the company, and the feasting, good moods abound - or, at least, I sure hope they do.

On a scheduling note, I've had difficulty getting as many indie reviews out as I promised. One was supposed to be ready yesterday, but paying work comes first, of course. As such, there will be posts here tomorrow and Saturday - and then I'll post an indie review on Sunday to kick off the last month of 2013!

There are many good posts to come here before the year is out, although I can barely believe it's almost over. Maybe I'll give everyone a quick December preview in one of my next 3 or 4 entries.

And, hey, speaking of unusual feasts, let's talk about braaaaaaaaains:

This poster for Birth of the Dead is excellent! I love the cartoony, caricatured style of the drawings, which neatly reference characters featured in George A. Romero's "X of the Living Dead" films.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Great Moments in... Fast Celeb Cameos

Thank god I found one clip with all the relevant sequences from Back to School! This is so much fun. Long story short, Rodney Dangerfield plays a very rough and dirty blue collar-type who became a successful businessman with a men's clothing store that caters to tall and husky men.

After his son takes off for college, Rodney's character decides to get his own bachelor's degree, too. However, pop is more interested in partying and paying others to do his work - even in the English Lit course whose teacher, play by Sally Kellerman, is his potential love interest. Here's what happens when Rodney's part tries to game the system:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Live-Action Dora the Explorer Trailer

At a recent dinner party, a relative made what's normally a faux pas by asking if the assembled people had seen or heard of the live-action trailer for a Dora the Explorer film. I don't have children, but I have been playing with my nephews, and this is how I got to see a couple of episodes of this wildly-popular kids' TV series.

Fortunately, that slight experience was enough to give me an understanding of the program's tropes: maps, some Spanish words, Swiper... And even with only two eps under my belt, I was laughing as hard as the three parents around me. College Humor's work on this thing is simply great.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Reviewing with Others Pt. 60: The Battery

My latest indie screener experience is The Battery. It's about .

How much did I like ST12? I genuinely think that this movie should be played in schools. But enough freebies - my review was published today and you can read it here at Man, I Love Films.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

QftWo 11/18-11/24: Imposters #17 - Catching Fire, 2

And so we've already reached the point where I'm re-doing the coverage given to an ad that I covered a few weeks ago. But I'm not being cheap, ya'll, this is for a totally different poster to promote the same exact film - in a smaller space.

That's the back of two side-by-side public payphones you're looking at. And, honestly, I think they should have gone with a different image altogether. I had a lot of compliments to give to the larger subway poster. This, on the other hand, looks like the upper-half of a 2nd or 3rd printing of a book you find in airport news stands.

While it does suggest more action than Jennifer Lawrence's standing pose in the earlier promotion, this is just a female archer who looks like she's going to shoot an arrow straight at you. But she's not James Bond! Moreover, this close-up doesn't get the nice color palette boost that the prior offering did.

And I have to say that while I liked the tagline I commented on before, "Remember Who the Enemy Is" is a pretty uninspiring and unclear set of words to use. Overall, I don't think that this poster will inspire people to watch this sequel, unless they already loved the prior film...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Simon Pegg & Nick Frost do Star Wars IV

Ah, this little gem is way-old, but it's still a fine piece of work. College Humor, whose name alone would normally get me to avoid their site, has been exceptional for amassing a large number of high-quality clips involving excellent actors in funny situations. I've gone from prejudiced skeptic to firm supporter.

All the way back in Spring 2011, they got together one of the hottest duos in film today - Simon Pegg and Nick Frost - to reenact the scene from Star Wars IV when C3PO and R2D2 land on Tattoine. It's not just a fine example of the chemistry between these two men, it's terribly, terribly funny.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bill Murray Body Slamming Stupendousness

A few weeks ago, Uproxx commendably added to my admiration of Bill Murray with a new video. Mr. Murray was on College GameDay, a program on ESPN.

But anyone who's been following these regular posts knows that Mr. Murray doesn't do anything typically, much less half-way. So, along with his usual charm and wit during the interview, Bill pulled out something extra for all the viewers at home: he body-slammed Lee Corso! Let's watch:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Reviewing with Others, Pt 59: I'm Me

My latest indie film review just went live. I'm Me is the story of an aimless 20-something who decides to go off his meds and start over. I had a lot of issues with the film, but it does feature fine cinematography and I liked the tone of many sequences.

Go here, to Man, I Love Films to read the my review.

QftWo 11/11-11/17: Imposters #16 - a case of you

This is very nicely done. I like the background, of course, the Brooklyn Bridge being partially obscured offering an atypical look at a now-common image. The perlescent sky is pretty enough (I love shooting those), but it also clashes nicely with foreground figures. Their placement close up in the frame, and in the lower right corner provides balance to the negative space in the upper left.

As much as I appreciate the more obvious aspects of the photographic composition, the overall look and text elements deserve praise as well. I like the length of the whole poster. It makes you look around at each section - which was when I smiled over the credits. For one thing, that's a nice group of actors to gather. Each name gets a nice amount of space, with an informal capitalization right up to the tagline.

The quick phrase works very well, too. It provides a fast plot synopsis while also revealing (what I assume to be) some of the story's tension.

In case you can't tell! I like this quite a bit. So on the basis of the poster I will look up films reviews and debate going to see it. The graphic designers involved deserve to feel happy and proud of themselves. I hope they get paid well.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Great Moments in... Insane Celeb Ads (Non-Japan Ed.)

Great Moments in... . This time out, I was browsing the web for a good set of clips from a Lance Henriksen film, and I stumbled onto this: a commercial for Flame beer, directed by Adam Strange. I didn't wanna alter my schedule, but I have too much respect for batshit insanity.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

QftWo 11/4-11/10: Imposters #15 - Delivery Man

From Wikipedia:
Meh is an interjection, often used as an expression of indifference or boredom, "be it as it may". It can also be used as an adjective (meaning mediocre, boring, or apathetic).

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Movie Review Quickies XIV: Overdue Edition

For MRQIV, I decided to tackle 7 films that I've promised to review here at some point or another. The lessened stakes allow me to at least express some thoughts on these pictures without having each review become a big deal.

At least two of these movies will receive a Double Dip treatment at some point in the future, but I do make good on my claims, whenever I can. And I can't do that unless I just suck it up and actually get these reviews out. So today's offerings are: Better Off Dead, Primer, Hot Fuzz, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, The Incredibles, and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.

Better Off Dead

Make no mistake, Better Off Dead is not just some piece of 1980's nostalgia, it's among the best comedies that I have ever seen, and I am grateful for this film's mere existence. When I mentioned Savage Steve Holland's masterwork here this February, I knew it would come up here at least a few more times.

BOD tells the story of Lane Meyer, a high school teen who's having the worst day of his life. It's nearly Christmas, and his girlfriend just dropped him like a bad habit. He pleads with her to stay, yet the bigshot jerk on the ski team has already snatched her up. He's consistently behind in his classes, and his job is both embarrassing and insulting. Also, his treasured car is now a total junker. It's all so unhappy - and so hopeless - that Lane has decided to kill himself... But every time he tries, he screws it up.

What's great about Better Off Dead is that it's one of the funniest black comedies you will ever see. Teen suicide is no laughing matter, but the filmmakers ease the pathos by packing the film with every kind of comedy out there: slapstick, satire, word play... My favorite element of this picture, though, is its sheer absurdity.

Early on, Lane's 12 y/o brother receives a book on how to pick up chicks, and you later see his room full of gorgeous women, in violation of logic, universal morality, and state laws. The paper boy is willing to hunt people down because of an overdue $2 debt. Everyone from teachers to the mail man thinks that it's okay to ask Meyer if they mind them asking his ex out.

Throughout it all, Better Off Dead is an insanely-funny, terribly-charming watch. Young Cusack is very charismatic as the leading sad sack, the crazy locals that make up the ensemble cast are endlessly entertaining, and the story is excellent. I could watch a dozen movies like this. Or I could watch BoD a dozen times (and I probably have).

Monday, November 4, 2013

Last Vegas' Odd Today Show Interview

I feel a little bad about this, since it's a Double Dip for a post from Friday. Just last week, I was discussing the Last Vegas poster. It didn't sound like my kind of thing at all, and the reviews were very not-positive. But I don't have any ill feelings toward the people involved. It's not like this is Epic Movie that we're talking about, here...

The four leads appeared last week on the Today show to promote their new film. News articles on Halloween touted the 1-hour co-hosting gig that the actors would undertake. And, apparently, it was not a rousing success. The poor guys didn't seem into the experience at all.

Unfortunately, I can't find a copy of the video to embed - NBC's video offerings are limited (it would take too long to explain how inadequate their site is in this regard). But I will direct you to a page where you can watch it, in addition to embedding two other interviews gone bad, below.

Friday, November 1, 2013

QftWo 10/28-11/3: Imposters #14 - Last Vegas

I'm conflicted on today's entry, the poster for Last Vegas, a picture targeting the nostalgia factor behind seeing several of Hollywood's most long-lived leading men. In case you don't know, this wide-screen-style image is on an advertising space directly above an entrance to NYC's subway system.

Really, the large print says it all: De Niro, Douglas, Freeman, and Kline. The CVs of these collected stars are pretty much awe-inspiring. This advertisement, then, is pretty much just promoting the facts of (a) these four present day old school thespians are in a movie together, and (b) they're in Vegas, for some significant event. Whether or not the event depicted therein are worthy of attention is presumably based on the fact that it involves these men.