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Movie Breakdown: Fury

October 16, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Set in Germany during WWII, Brad Pitt is a tank commander on a dangerous mission with a crew that consists of Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena and Jon Bernthal.

The Reality:

After Fury concluded and I was heading out of the theater I overheard a guy tell his friend that he didn’t like the film because “it had nothing to offer but senseless violence.”  If you ask me, that’s a totally unfair assessment.  Aside from the violent and gruesome onscreen annihilation of hundreds of soldiers, there’s also a variety of WWII-movie cliches and a lazy Aldo Raine-light performance by Brad Pitt that should not be so easily dismissed from the flak that David Ayer’s Fury deserves.  From the outside his film appears to be a dramatic look at the dangers that Sherman tank crews faced throughout WWII, but it’s actually just another meathead war film.  Is it the worst of its kind?  Not at all.  I certainly didn’t hate it, but I will say it’s hard to watch Fury and not just constantly feel like those involved could have done a lot better.  If you see it, pay matinee prices and keep your expectations in check.

The Lesson:

Some things don’t really need to be glorified.

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Movie Breakdown: St. Vincent

October 15, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Bill Murray is a cranky old man who forms a special bond with a child and then mushy stuff happens.

The Reality:

If you’ve ever watched any sort of feel-good movie in your life, then you’ve already seen St. Vincent.  The film is rife with Oscar-bait-level cliches and every plot point in it is so predictable that many of you could probably guess them all correctly with nothing to go off but the trailer.  But you know what?  I liked it.  Yes, the film does absolutely nothing new, but it’s got a great sense of humor and it’s anchored by two immensely wonderful performances from Bill Murray and Jaeden Lieberher (Oliver, the kid next door).  Their moments on-screen (together and apart) are such a damn joy to watch that I willingly accepted every single generic moment – and there are a lot – that stormed off the screen.  See St. Vincent because of them.  And also, of course, to make sure you still have some feelings left in you.  Those are occasionally important, you know?

The Lesson:

Great actors make okay films better.

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Movie Breakdown: Men, Women & Children

October 14, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Jason Reitman takes a look at a few of the ways the internet has altered people’s lives.

The Reality:

At some point the internet touched Jason Reitman inappropriately, and now he’s made Men, Women & Children in an effort to strike back.  Unfortunately though, his incredibly bleak film doesn’t do much but emphatically point out that people are inherently bad and the internet is everyone’s preferred tool of moral destruction.  Well no shit, right?  In any case, while it’s not remotely insightful or interesting, Men, Women & Children is actually not an outright awful film.  Adam Sandler, Dean Norris, Judy Greer, Kaitlyn Dever and most of the rest of the cast turn in nice performances, and I think some of movie’s quirkier elements (various points of narration by Emma Thompson, on-screen text messages) are well done.  It’s just too bad that there’s not enough of a meaningful message around the noteworthy parts for any of them to really matter.

One day when Men, Women & Children is on HBO and the remote has slid into the couch and you don’t feel like digging it out, maybe watch it.

The Lesson:

Where’s the guy who directed Juno and Up In The Air?

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Movie Breakdown: The Two Faces of January (Noah)

October 10, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Hossein Amini has written both great movies (Drive) and terrible movies (Snow White and The Huntsman). This, his debut feature, has a great cast (Viggo Mortenson, the very up-and-coming Oscar Isaac, and Kirsten Dunst) and the possibility of being pretty fantastic.

The Reality:

The Two Faces of January is like the Patricia Highsmith novel you’ve never read. Deeply steeped in the most traditional of moody, noir filmmaking, Amini and company crank out a seedy, desperate bit of filmmaking that creates tension through the fickle flaws of its cast of characters and the incredibly way Amini’s script works to turn the viewers expectations on their heads. What starts as, well at least how you might believe it starts as, a film about a young conman (Oscar Isaac) entrenching himself into the lives of a wealthy American couple traveling in Rome (Viggo Mortenson and Kirsten Dunst) quickly turns into a crime cover-up story as Mortenson’s character begins to show who he really is. That’s not it though, on the run from the law, the film swaps intentions again, and Mortenson’s jealousy-wracked entrepreneur becomes the villain of the piece, with Isaac’s young, damaged conman a pawn in his shifty eyed plan. And that, is really just the beginning. As good as Dunst and Isaac are in the film, and they’re great, this is Mortenson’s movie. His Chester Macfarland is a character broken apart by his own internal demons. Jealous, corrupt, and trying to find his way to the surface, Mortenson exposes every twinge of emotional suffering on his sweaty face. Where we’ve come to know the actor for his more stoic roles, here Mortenson shows off another shade of his acting abilities – the damaged leading man. He’s charming and uses his perceived normalcy as a way to hide what’s really going on, and his presence on screen electrifies this film. Amini’s inaugural feature is assured, a truly classic bit of filmmaking unswayed by the typical pomp and circumstance of Hollywood today.

The Lesson:

Look who’s back, Viggo’s back.

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Movie Breakdown: Dracula Untold (Noah)

October 10, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

All I really needed was another Dracula film strangled by bad computer graphics and over-acting. Oh great, here comes one.

The Reality:

Dracula Untold feels like it’s over in 15 minutes. Most of the time it’s a plus when a film pulls you in so deep with its characters and plot that the time vanishes around you, but this certainly isn’t the case with this hastily thrown together, toneless, unneeded “prequel” to the story of Dracula. Instead the tale of Vlad the Impaler (Luke Evans) and his transformation into Count Dracula breezes along because it’s vacuous mess of a film. Vladly Vladerson is the beloved, reigning prince of Transylvania who is forced to take on the powers of the vampire when the Turkish Empire demands that he send his son as a slave tribute. Hopped up on vampire blood, Vlad gains the power to kill hundreds of people, raise a vampire army, and, as he does time and time again, turn into a swarm of bats and wreak havoc on his Turkish oppressors. And that’s it. There’s romance (of the most blandly PG variety) and a little bit of military camaraderie (though I can’t remember a single name of any character in the film aside from Vlad) but for the most part this is just Luke Evans in crushed velvet acting blood-thirsty and smashing people with an enormous bat-fist. And that’s just the beginning of the problems. This is a prequel, the story that’s supposed to explain why Big Drac is Big Drac, but all it does is flout the standard conventions of a vampire story. We’re shown that Vlad gets powers, but there’s no explanation of why being a vampire gives you the ability to explode into bats or why it makes you sensitive to light and silver. Nope, you just drink some creepy old man’s blood out of a clam shell in a cave and suddenly you can do, well, just about whatever you want. Supposedly Dominic Cooper shows up as a the bad guy, but all I saw was a borderline racist portrayal of a Turkish sultan for a few moments that may or may not have been Mr. Cooper. Dracula Untold is supposed to be the kick-off for the whole new Universal Monster connected universe, but this film is a limp dick with a forced ending that promises some sort of sequel. Gary Shore, the director, isn’t bad, he steeps the film in atmosphere and makes a small effort to beautify the computer graphics, but it doesn’t matter, there’s little to no script and when the film plods to a unsatisfying ending, you’ve already forgotten what you’ve seen.

The Lesson:

Just leave fucking Dracula alone.

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Movie Breakdown: The Judge (Noah)

October 10, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

David Dobkin accidentally made one funny movie once, Robert Downey Jr. hasn’t made a good film since Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and the rest of the actors in The Judge look like they needed a paycheck to get their Infinti Pool cleaned. Pretty worried.

The Reality:

After I saw this film, I turned to my friend (a notorious over-liker of movies) and asked what he thought. “The realistic parts were actually pretty good,” he said. I asked, “what parts were those?” to which he replied, “like when Robert Duvall’s aging judge character has some sort of cancer-related fit and shits himself.” And that’s just about all you can say about The Judge, the best part of the film is when one of the great actors of the last century diarrhea’s himself in a bathroom. It’s almost pointless to dissect this film as an individual piece of work because it so strictly adheres to the cliche of the super-talented-prodigal-son-returns-home-to-save-his-family-and-learn-some-life-lessons-along-the-way film. This time it’s RDJ as a snarky lawyer who returns home to mourn his mother only to be pulled into a possible murder case involving … … … HIS FATHER (Robert Duvall). Turns out though the Judge (as everyone refers to Duvall) and his son haven’t had the love jones for each other for a while, so though Robert Downey Lawyer has the natural urge to defend him, it’s crotchety mess of a time. Both Duvall and Downey Jr. do fine work here embodying gruff and shinily annoying while holding tight to the rigidly defined structure of well, every Hollywood film ever. The film jumps the tracks though when it shies away from cliches and tries to bushwhack a new path. When I say “jumps the tracks” I mean, this film gets very strange and very depressing, very quickly. Sure, it has the requisite amount of cloying sap, but just when you think The Judge is going to end with smiles and joy, it takes a sharp right turn into depression town. I’m so tired of writing about films like these, high-gloss re-dos of the same tired themes, buoyed by strong performances but nothing but powdered, sugary shit in the middle. But this is Hollywood in the 2010s and you just hope that every once in a while some kind of winner will transcend the heap.

The Lesson:

I don’t even know. Some sort of cliche about the banality of modern film.

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Movie Breakdown: Kill The Messenger

October 8, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Jeremy Renner is Gary Webb, the infamous reporter who uncovered that the CIA had imported and sold cocaine in the US to support the rebel army in Nicaragua.

The Reality:

Kill The Messenger is an odd film.  Jeremy Renner is really good in it, and the true story that it’s based on is certainly interesting.  What I didn’t necessarily get about the movie though is the way it’s essentially the Cliff’s Notes version of both the story that Gary Webb reported and what happened to him after he published it.  Why not dive more into detail on what Webb had uncovered about the CIA and their supposed drug-import/distribution ring?  Is it because there wasn’t enough to show?  Was it actually all too loosely connected?  Or if Webb’s story was just the bait to get me roped in on how the CIA retaliated (allegedly?) by smearing his name and reporting, why not showcase that more?  While watching the film I honestly felt like Dr. Grant and the gang in Jurassic Park when they’re on the fancy ride and want to know all about the dinosaurs but it just keeps moving along without providing any real information.

Kill The Messenger could have been an eye-opener, but instead it just skips along over the top of anything legitimately important.  It’s certainly not a bad film, but I wouldn’t rush out to see it unless you’re a big Jeremy Renner fan.

The Lesson:

I guess some stories really are too true to tell.

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Movie Breakdown: Gone Girl (Noah)

October 3, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

It’s a new David Fincher film folks, what else is there to say? I’d watch this guy’s film if it was just two and a half hours of shadows creeping across a wall.

The Reality:

Gone Girl, much like the book it was adapted from, is a deeply fucked up film. The story of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and his disappeared wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) feels like a Douglas Sirk film as seen through the clear eyes of a certified sociopath. The film, for the most part, begins with Nick discovering that his wife has disappeared, leaving a healthy amount of blood and a series of anniversary clues. The next two and half hours is his dark journey from bewildered husband to suspect to something far deeper and far darker. Affleck makes a fine showing as Nick, a man who’s breached the unhappiness of his own marriage and now must navigate the twists and turns of his wife’s disappearance, but the juiciest, most deliriously insane bits fall squarely on the shoulders of Rosamund Pike’s Amy. Fincher has always been a director who plays with the idea of women and the way they effect men (Marla in Fight Club, Lisbeth in Girl With A Dragon Tattoo) but Amy Dunne is his greatest example. The director exposes the most stereotypical of perceived female weakness and the way our society feeds on these stereotypes and then flips them around, and uses them as a chest of weapons for Amy to use against the world. Though I always enjoy every movie Fincher makes, it feels as in some of his last few attempts (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Girl With The Dragon Tattoo the most prime examples) he’s leaned heavily on his visual acumen and the talents of his actors to make smooth, seamless films that look good, watch better, but never directly challenge the viewer. Gone Girl, as adapted by the author of the book Gillian Flynn, is not that movie. Though it plays in the sandbox of domestic squabble, seedy crime, and seedier revenge flicks, this is a dense, captivating movie, that ends on the kind of moral question mark we haven’t seen from Fincher in a while. This is not my favorite Fincher film, far from it, but as I’ve said before, Fincher’s cold, calculating visual prowess and his ability to craft movies just on the periphery of your standard Hollywood potboiler makes it as enjoyable as anything I’ve seen this year. Yes, the film drags, and at times I wondered at the narrative pace and the way the director decided to unveil certain clues, but issues aside, I found myself invested in these characters and this story on an intellectual level. It’s dark and crazy and no one is left unscathed when the credits roll, but beneath the seedy layer of heat and emotion, Fincher has crafted a movie that asks what is happiness and what exactly are we willing to do to achieve it. It might not be Fight Club, but it’s a movie ripe for discussion, and that’s my favorite kind of Fincher.

The Lesson:

Does this mean we have to wait another year or two before Fincher drops another bombshell on us? Fuckity fuck fuck.

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Movie Breakdown: Gone Girl

October 2, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

The acclaimed David Fincher directs acclaimed stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in the big screen adaptation of the acclaimed book Gone Girl.  Greatness is expected.

The Reality:

My first item to note about Gone Girl is that you should go into it knowing as little about the story as you can.  The film features a variety of perfectly placed twists and turns, and knowing even one of them will take away from it.  And you don’t want that.  You deserve everything that Gone Girl has to offer, and there is most definitely a lot there for the taking.  On one hand you have a murder mystery/crime thriller that is one of the most anxiety-filled wormholes I’ve been lead down in a long while, and then on the flip side of things there’s a look at long-term relationships and what they do to the people in them.  And both, of course, are impeccably executed by David Fincher.  I don’t recall a single moment in the movie where I wasn’t just thoroughly impressed with his direction.  He’s so damn brilliant!  But you knew that.  Anyhow, Gone Girl is the first great movie of the fall season, and you need to see it immediately.

The Lesson:

In Fincher I continue to trust.

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Movie Breakdown: Wetlands (Noah)

September 19, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

This is a film about a 20-something German girl who’s obsessed, in the most vile of ways, with her own bodily, well, stuff. From everything I can garner this is like the shit and piss and sadness version of Amelie. So, obviously, I’m totally in.

The Reality:

German’s do the strange, disgusting, quirky, yet somehow emotionally wrenching film about as well as anyone. David Wnendt’s Wetlands is a prime example of this. The story follows Helen (a wonderfully attractive and repulsive Carla Juri), a rebellious 20-year old with an affinity for the natural, yet starkly disgusting effluvia of her body. From the moment we meet Helen, she’s got a finger in her ass, or in her crotch, or on the disgusting cum-stained rim of a public toilet. Through a series of fluid-related flashbacks (shot with verve and originality by Wnendt and his crew) we see Helen grow up, live through a divorce, and become the absurd, mouthy, attitude-filled spitfire she is today. When she cuts her anus shaving (yes this is the catalyst for almost the entire story) she ends up in the hospital and we quickly learn that Helen’s quirky obsession with her internal bits is deeply rooted in something much deeper. Sure, this is a film that features a scene where five men jerk off onto a pizza. And yes, the main character does fondle a piece of her excavated butthole at one point. And yes, there is a scene where two women smear menstrual blood on each other’s faces. This is a gross movie, but the aggressive grossness of it isn’t purely for shock, and it is never entirely without reason. Helen’s proclivity towards trouble, be it external or internal, is a product of a sadness. She’s a lonely girl who’s built a wall of attitude and nastiness around her to shield herself from the void of emptiness she deals with on a daily basis. All of the blood-licking and general vagina and ass disgustingness Helen floats through in her life, are merely tools she’s created to impress an untrue image of herself upon the rest of the world. This isn’t really a story about shit and cum and smegma (though they all do make bold and pretty shocking cameos), it’s about a fucked-up girl who just doesn’t want to be lonely. If you’re squeamish, I’d sidestep this shit-bullet, but in doing so you’re missing out on a truly original and enjoyable piece of filmmaking.

The Lesson:

Germans love making movies about things that come out of your body holes.

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Movie Breakdown: The Maze Runner (Noah)

September 18, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

We’ve hit the oversaturation point with dystopian YA films where every new one feels like it might be some loose amalgamation of the five thousand that have come before. From the trailer this looks like that film – a bunch of mildly attractive youth facing off against an unknown and seemingly unbeatable enemy.

The Reality:

The Maze Runner is, at its very core, as much your typical YA dystopian film as any we’ve seen before. A scrappy kid (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up in an elevator that deposits him in a weird glade, populated by a bunch of futuristic Lord of the Flies rejects, and surrounded by a particularly epic maze. Turns out Thomas is harboring a whole shit-ton of secrets, and his mere presence amongst the gentleman of the Glade (or Gladers) brings about a series of unfortunate events only the YA-est of YA novels would dictate. And yes, looking at that description, you’d think this film was another money grab for YA-hungry studios, but really, honestly, it’s not. The cast of gentlemen is strong (Son of Rambow’s Thomas Brodie-Sanger, Ami Ameen, and Will Poulter being particular standouts) and their interactions with both each other and the strange, man-made hell they’ve been deposited in, help push the film into a higher echelon of YA films. Don’t get me wrong, by the time the credits roll the film has exposed itself as an hour and half long television pilot struck through with all the worst trappings of films aimed at tweeners and the like. Prior to this though first time director Wes Ball gives his actors room to, well, act and it becomes a sort of futuristic, modern telling of Lord of the Flies if all of those wild English lads hadn’t turned into brutal savages. As much as this is a film about a bunch of teenagers running through a maze full of robot-spiders, it’s also a film about survival and what that means to each and all of us. Thomas, a brand new Greenie, isn’t content to just live out his life in the Glade, his natural proclivity is one of curiosity, and when he butts up against the solid rules and regulations of Alby (Ami Ameen) and Gally (Will Poulter) the film really shines. Unfortunately this is a film based on a quadrology of books, and it must put its youthful characters through those similar paces and when it does, the film suffers. Try as hard as you want Wes Ball, but you’re contained by the source material, and this suffocates the film just the right amount to never allow it to be as good as it could be.

The Lesson:

Can we just make some original youth-oriented sci-fi films like they used to in the 1980s?

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Movie Breakdown: This Is Where I Leave You (Noah)

September 18, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Shawn Levy is bit of a turd when it comes to directing but with the right actors he can actually put together a semi-decent flick (see Date Night with Tina Fey and Steve Carrell). That said, his general turdness as a director throws everything off balance, so let’s just throw the dice in the air and see what happens.

The Reality:

This Is Where I Leave You is like a white, Republican take on The Royal Tenenbaums. It’s a film stacked with a whole bushel of some of the best actors working today (Jason Bateman, Adam Driver, Tina Fey, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, etc.) and their interactions are the very best part of the film. I won’t ding the film for surrounding the actors with a narrative that just loosely connects them as a disparate family coming together to sit shiva for this deceased dad. I can ding the film for placing the actors in an atmosphere that somehow transplants upstate New York to the Midwest, and uses the frailest of plot devices to drag them through their predictable character arcs. That said, for every bland, vaguely conservative bit of film, you get an interaction between Bateman and Driver, or Bateman and Byrne, or Driver and Stoll, or Fey and anyone. These moments, almost across the board, are fantastic, humorous and heart-wrenching and shot through with the credibility and acting chops actors of these stature nearly always bring to a role. I can’t say that This Is Where I Leave You (based on a Jonathan Tropper novel and screenplay) is a particularly funny movie, but it manages to imbue it’s character interactions with a realism and sense of gravity you wouldn’t expect from the guy who’s behind the Night at the Museum films. By the end of the film though, when everything has wrapped up reasonably nicely, emotional connections have been reformed, and the characters have separated into their own slightly better lives, I didn’t feel sated. Levy has the benefit of great actors, but he doesn’t have the benefit of being a particularly interesting director, and the film suffers for it. There might be a great film here starring Corey Stoll, Adam Driver, and Jason Bateman, but Levy buries it in over-explained platitudes and neatly tied up conclusions, and when you get to the end the saccharine nature of it all just doesn’t jibe. It’s a nice effort, but not a great film.

The Lesson:

Get Stoll, Driver and Bateman in a film together. Make it a heist movie or a 70s softcore or something. It’ll be fantastic.

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Movie Breakdown: As Above, So Below (Noah)

August 29, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

You know, even though this is a found footage horror film that uses the terror of claustrophobia to once again try and scare the bejeezus out of me, it’s also a horror film, and no matter how strikingly bad it might be, I always love a horror film.

The Reality:

As Above, So Below is a preposterous Disneyland ride. If you’ve ever attended a local radio station’s Halloween Haunted House, then you’ve pretty much seen As Above, So Below, but instead of walking around with your stupid drunken friends, you’re walking around with a bunch of other people who, most definitely, are just as stupid, but they brought a camera and between screaming loudly they keep laying on some really thick bullshit about evil, or something. That said, as dumb as As Above, So Below is, and it is really, really, really dumb, it’s still has that haunted house shtick and the Dowdle Brothers manage to milk it for everything it’s worth. The story – part horror, part Indiana Jones, part first-person shooter – revolves around Scarlett (Perdita Weeks), a youthful archaeologist on the quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone that evaded her father, eventually driving him to his death. After a harrowing and nauseating flight through a series of undercover caves in Iran, Scarlet is lead to the Catacombs of Paris where the Philosopher’s Stone supposedly lives. Along the way she picks up a group of French street-rats (one of which, I swear to God, never says a single word the entire film), an ex-boyfriend/Aramaic scholar (Ben Feldman – Ginsberg!) and her erstwhile cameraman Benji (Edwin Hodge). I’m not spoiling anything here, but almost as soon as they get down into the Catacombs, shit starts going real, real bad, and the rest of the movie is an extended flight sequence where the group, a smaller and smaller group, tries to escape. Again, not a great movie, the characters are about as well defined as a pile of rotting, French bones, and their only traits are pinned on them just to give some meaning to events that happen at the end. There’s bad guys that appear and disappear without meaning or cause. Nothing is really that believable in the film – the emotions, the set, the characters in any way, shape or form – and it gives this sort of artifice that gives the stark impression that you are watching people go through a Disneyland ride. Really, really stupid people going through a Disneyland ride. I can’t think of a single decision made in this film that, if I was a part of this group, I would, in any way support. Again, the Dowdle Brothers aren’t trying to make films that stretch your cerebral capacities, they’re just trying to make some, fun, scary horror flicks, and for the most part, this one succeeds at that.

The Lesson:

How come whenever I watch one bad horror film, I only want to watch bad horror films?

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Movie Breakdown: The November Man

August 28, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

“You know what we used to call you? The November Man, because after you passed through, nothing lived.”  PIERCE BROSNAN IS BACK.

The Reality:

There’s really not a whole lot to say about The November Man.  It’s a generic, uninspired and convoluted spy thriller that feels like it was made in the 90s, shelved and then dusted off only because Relativity had a hole in their release schedule.  You shouldn’t bother seeing it.

By the way, I did go into The November Man thinking that even if it wasn’t any good, Pierce Brosnan would come through with some of the charm and charisma that made him famous.  Nope!  His performance is so uneven and disconnected that it made me wonder why he even made the film.  Here’s hoping that his poor effort is due to him being in a bad film and not because he’s transitioned into the “mailing it in” portion of his career.

The Lesson:

Does anyone have Liam Neeson’s phone number?  Pierce Brosnan needs it.

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Movie Breakdown: Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

August 22, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

After a nearly decade-long break, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller return to Sin City.

The Reality:

I didn’t go into Sin City: A Dame To Kill For expecting a lot, and yet it still somehow managed to be a massive disappointment.  No other film put out in 2014 has featured so many soulless characters or nonsensical plot points, and – here’s what really got me – nothing else released this year has been more boring than Sin City: A Dame To Kill For.  There is honestly not a single entertaining moment to be found anywhere in the damn thing, and I don’t really know why.  The source material is a violent, stylistic graphic novel with over the top characters, but Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller deliver a flat film that’s nothing but indistinguishable monologues and poorly executed action pieces.  To be honest, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think that Rodriguez and Miller had never even seen the original Sin City.

Unless you’re on the hunt for a woeful time at the theater, do not bother with Sin City: A Dame To Kill For.

The Lesson:

Sometimes “one and done” is the way to go.

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