Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesdays Movie Mashup No. 21

Well, things got a little vicious last week, but Hatter's back.  Extending his lead to 10, at least I put an awesome song in his head for the week. 

Last week's clue: A woman learns to speak the King's English and remakes her life while two young lovers 
roll a meatball across a table

Answer: My Fair Lady and The Tramp

Hatter - 10
David - 3
James, Dylan - 2

Sebastian, Andrew, Rachel, Nick - 1


New Clue: A bunch of ladies take their clothes off to raise money while some younger ladies try to dance their way to fame.  

This one is a little more obscure - I hope.  We'll see.  
The goal is to figure out the two movies who overlap in some words creating a new movie described by the clue.  Leave your answer in the comments. Good luck! 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reel Insight Podcast

This is not an early April Fool's joke (though keep your eyes out for those soon), but there won't be a new episode of Reel Insight this week.  We're closed due to illness (Rachel lost her voice!).  Check back next week.  If you've missed any older episodes, you can download them here.  I particularly enjoy the Ryan Reynolds episode 19.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Release: The Lincoln Lawyer (minor spoilers)

Sometimes there are great movies because the acting is amazing.  And sometimes the story is so unique it blows you away just by expanding your mind a little bit.  Sometimes a movie is just so beautiful you just have to respect it as great.  However, The Lincoln Lawyer is none of these things, but it's still a great movie, which is why I saw it 3 days ago and the review is just coming now.

Matthew McConaughey is back to his serious fare (his shirt only comes off once I believe).  He plays Mick Haller, a defense attorney whose office is in the back of his town car, driven by Earl (Laurence Mason) because Mick lost his license (it never says, but I'm guessing for driving under the influence of something).  Mick  has a relationship with the local bail bondsman, Val (John Leguizamo), who throws him some lucrative cases.  That is how Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillipe) comes into Mick's life.  He's been accused of beating up and attempting to rape a woman.  He claims innocence and even guesses she might be a gold-digger looking for his money, since his mother's LOADED.  Mick takes the case (for a lot of money) and gets his investigator Frank (William H. Macy with lots of scruffy hair) to help and get all the dirt.

Mick's biggest worry is that he'll represent someone and not be able to tell whether or not they are truly innocent.  Most other attorneys (particularly for the defense) don't care about that - they just put on the best case they can to defend their client.  Mick wants to be sure it's also the best thing FOR his client.  However, Mick's as slick as they come - he gets bikers to do some dirty work by promising to represent their members, if he's not paid, he'll let you rot in jail, he cons his clients out of money.  But at his core, you still have to wonder which side he'll come down on when it actually matters.

His ex-wife (Marisa Tomei) is a prosecutor and obviously still in love with his charm and aging boyish looks.  They have a daughter together and these relationships show us the cracks in Mick's armor.  He has to represent dangerous clients, but always know that is family is safe.  And until he meets a pretty boy with a lot of money, he's never worried about it.  Louis Roulet is someone he has NEVER had to work for, and doesn't play by the same rules.

The legal issues being discussed are really great - what do you do if you know your client is much worse than he's being accused of?  How do you bring justice to his victims when you're bound by attorney-client privilege?  The movie takes us on this whirlwind tour with Mick, and you NEVER see it coming.  Very well made movie.  The entire audience gasped during one of the climax scenes.  Great movie theater experience.

The music and the close-ups make this movie feel real.  I've never been to Los Angeles (the setting) and I can't say I've listened to much rap or "gangster" music in my life.  But whatever the director (Brad Furman - hopefully going to do more great things) did, I felt like I knew these people, and these characters.  They weren't cliched (okay, asking his black driver Earl to get him a gun was both racist AND cliched) and the music worked perfectly to bridge the gap between scenes.

This is probably evident from the trailer alone, but being able to come up with a title as unique and simple as The Lincoln Lawyer is not a common occurrence these days.  Mick wants to be just and a little bit noble - like our former president, but he also does all of his business from a Lincoln town car.  I will say, having a title that drives (pun intended) you into the story is something I gotta say I like.

A note about the marketing of this movie - they got it right on the money.  The trailer shows you what the movie's about, but doesn't give you the best lines or scenes.  One scene from the trailer is not even in the movie, but is exactly a tone the movie uses.  Several of the scenes are much more complex than the trailer lets you in on.  For a nice change, you can find out whether this movie will interest you (it should), but not have a clue about the film itself.

Finally - 4.5 of 5 stars/lambs

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesdays Movie Mashup No. 20

James and Dylan are all tied up!  Well done James, actually I'm really impressed given your movie tastes.  

Last week's clue: A man and a woman make bets about falling in love while trying to get a sponsor to race their car.

Answer: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days of Thunder

Hatter - 9
David - 3
James, Dylan - 2

Sebastian, Andrew, Rachel, Nick - 1

New clue: A woman learns to speak the King's English and remakes her life while two young lovers roll a meatball across a table.  

The goal is to figure out the two movies who overlap in some words creating a new movie described by the clue.  Leave your answer in the comments. Good luck! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Release: Beastly

I'm sure if you know me at all you're not surprised that I went and paid money to see this movie.  Was I ashamed, yes.  Do I regret it, not really.  Beastly is nothing more than the story of Beauty and the Beast set in a ritzy private school in Manhattan.  Our future Beast, Kyle - Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four) - has his high school career all sewn up.  He's rich, gorgeous, and about to become student body president.  His dad, Peter Krause, is a TV anchorman and knows that people only like you in proportion to how good looking you are.  He's drilled this into his son.  However, there's a witch at school Kendra (Mary-Kate Olson) and she's pissed off by how shallow Kyle has become and wants to make him pay for it.  She casts a spell on him that he'll become hideous and has a year to get "true love's kiss" or he'll stay that way.  His dad banishes him to either Westchester or New Jersey and gets him a tutor, Neil Patrick Harris.  

Enter Vanessa Hudgens, student body treasurer and daughter of a drug addict whose dealer promises to kill his daughter if he doesn't get paid.  Kyle always had a secret crush on her and offers his banished home to keep her safe until the drug dealer is caught. Yadda, yadda, yadda, you know what happens.  Overall, I kept wanting more scenes with NPH and surprisingly Mary-Kate Olson - both much deeper and more interesting characters.  Pettyfer and Hudgens were barely characters - particularly Hudgens, and seemed more like a decent TV movie, while the rest of the production did a good to try to put a new spin on an old tale. Maybe if I was in high school I would have enjoyed this more, but I doubt it. Overall nothing more than I expected, it wasn't awful, but it wasn't great either.  2 of 5 stars/lambs

Monday, March 21, 2011

Reel Insight Episode 39: Alan Rickman and Nick

We had a great time with our first three-peater.  Nick from Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob joined Rachel and I. Sorry about any audio issues - I'm recording from an off-site location and it always goes a little wonky when we chat with 3.  But I'm sure you'll enjoy the Glee talk, Paul, Burlesque, among others.  Oh, and we discuss the amazing career of Alan Rickman.  Thanks for all the feedback lately too - we're loving it.  Leave a comment here or send it to us at reelinsight at gmail.  We'll find ya.

New Alan Rickman movies watched this week:
An Awfully Big Adventure - this just let us down and is sooo terrible it defies explanation.  Really bad acting, an incest.  

Bottle Shock - This was pretty good, particularly if you're a wine snob/connoisseur.  Chris Pine and Bill Pullman do most of the heavy lifting, but Freddy Rodriguez and Alan Rickman have some fun too.  Who knew wine turned brown?

Blow Dry - This was hysterical.  Rickman and Natasha Richardson used to be married hair dressers who competed.  Then she left him for Rachel Griffiths.  Oh, and their son is Josh Hartnett (but even they wish he was James McAvoy).  They compete again Bill Nighy, and have lots of crazy fun.  Much funnier and sincere than it has any right to be.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street - I'd seen this on Broadway in the last 5 years, so the movie version had a lot to live up to.  With a slow start it eventually got there once you get used to Burton's visuals.  And the singing, particularly Helena Bonham Carter's, picks up.

New Release: Limitless

Have you ever had the feeling when seeing your high school boy/girlfriend again that they became someone you didn't really expect?  That's how I feel about Bradley Cooper.  I was a huge fan of the TV show "Alias" several years ago, and Cooper was on the first few seasons.  He played Will Tippin, a young journalist investigating his friend's murder and getting in way over his head.  Now he's in Limitless, a thriller about loser who takes a new drug and unlocks every part of his brain (and assholic tendencies).  It was kind of like seeing your old friend all grown up and a jerk.
Eddie contemplating taking NZT the first time.

However, Limitless is a pretty amazing film.  Perhaps a little more violent than necessary (a needle stabbed in the eye seems to be my threshold), but wonderfully suspenseful and gripping, Limitless follows Eddie Morra (Cooper), a writer without a word to his name who stumbles upon an old friend with a drug for him.  Known by its initials, NZT will let you see and remember and coordinate everything you've ever experienced, making you smarter, wittier, and luckier than anyone you've ever met.  Eddie finishes his book, but realizes how much more he can be and that life is really about money.  There's a moment when he thinks he'll change the world if only he had enough money - but we never really find out what he plans to do with the money.  But he ends up working for mogul Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro in an amazing supporting performance).  This is at heart a story about drug addiction - but what if taking the drug actually DID make your life better, and perhaps the world around you, rather than sinking you to the depths of despair.

Well, will all great things, there's a price for this drug - it can kill you or totally screw you up if you keep taking too much of it, plus anyone who knows you have it will come after you.  But this movie does a better job than most filling the holes in its mythology - for someone who has become infinitely smart, you'd assume they could figure out how to control the side effects and availability of the drug.  There are a few other struggles Morra has to overcome (including a Russian mobster), and he drags girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) into helping him.  But it's not a romantic story - though the screenwriter Leslie Dixon is behind Hairspray, Freaky Friday, and Just Like Heaven. Director Neil Burger is only known for The Illusionist, but keeps a tight control on the directing - taking a page from Aranofsky's Requiem for a Dream getting high sequences.  Cooper does a great job carrying the movie almost entirely on his shoulders. Overall, a good movie that leaves you breathless but kind makes you feel a little dirty for ever liking this guy to begin with.  4 of 5 stars/lambs

Sunday, March 20, 2011

New Release: Paul

There are always going to be the optimal audience members for a given film.  Sometimes movie makers make that group so specific that it's possible no one will know they were supposed to be part of it.  I'm a little afraid Paul will be part of that group of movies, with no one aware that this movie was made for them.  Going in, I had no idea this movie was made for me.  **No spoilers if you've seen the trailer or cast list**

Paul reteams the stars of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg - Clive and Graham respectively.  This time, they're more laid back, but in a naive way, with longer hair, a bit more fluff around the middle, and a more happy go lucky attitude.  They have arrived at Comic-Con, the Mecca for geeks, nerds, dweebs and movie-fans alike.  Clive has even written a science fiction novel (about a woman with three tits - apparently that extra tit is a source of endless amusement) and they get their hero's signature.  After Comic-con they set off on a road trip adventure in an RV to visit all of the UFO/alien sites across the US.  I'll admit, these went a little beyond my personal nerd knowledge, but it's really enough to know they have something to do with a sighting/abduction/landing.  Then they witness a car crash and getting out to help, they meet Paul.  About 4' tall, large head, no shirt (just pants - like Mickey Mouse), and a Seth Rogan mouth - literally and figuratively, he does the voice.  Paul is on the run and needs help (the exact reasons are explained slowly).  After Clive (Frost) faints, Graham agrees to help Paul get away.

This is where the I'll try not to spoil the rest - but you can assume, since Paul is on the run, someone must be out to get him.  We get to watch two of the most bumbling agents (Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio) try to figure out what they're looking for and where it is after tough guy, Jason Batemen yells at them at every turn.  Batemen is being controlled by "the Big Guy" who isn't revealed until the end (though the voice is pretty recognizable).  Our troublesome trio (Clive, Graham and Paul) spend the night at a trailer park and kidnap Bible-thumper, Ruth (Kristin Wiig) because she saw Paul.  All along, we get glimpses of Paul's story - how he got to earth, why he's been locked up, what special skills he posseses, and how he'll get back home.

Greg Mottola directed Superbad and Adventureland, and if you've seen those, you know what you're in for with Paul, and it more than lives up to the other two (one of which I did NOT like).  It's more for a grown up group of sci-fi nerds.  There are homages to every single franchise (some more direct than others), and a guest voice appearance when we learn the real source of E.T..  Twilight Zone, The X-files, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. make an entrance.  I'm sure there were more (Doctor Who, comic books) but that was the extent of my knowledge and I laughed my ass off.  Pegg and Frost are their always winning buddy-duo with many recurring jokes and nods to their other work together.  Terrific fun - if you fall into any of the demographics to find elements of this funny.  If you have a nerdy bone in your body, this movie is for you.  3.5 of 5 stars/lambs

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Desert Island mix CD

Over at Anomalous Materials, Castor has created a world where we've survived a plane crash and have only our favorite CD to listen to - and since we're movie buffs of course our mix comes from only movie soundtracks. All of the tracks I chose are both songs I like independently from the movie, and songs that evoke a sensation of the movie. And yes, I already know I like cheesy pop type music, feel free to comment and mock me, but know I'm well aware.

1. I’m a believer – Smash Mouth Shrek

2. You Make my Dreams Hall & Oates – 500 Days of Summer

3. Forrest Gump Suite – Alan Silvestri – Forrest Gump

4. Stuck in the Middle with You – Stealers Wheel – Reservoir Dogs

5. Fly Away - Kossoy Sisters - O Brother Where art thou

6. Anyone at all – Carole King – You’ve got mail

7. You’ve got a friend in me – Randy Newman – Toy Story

8. Jump (for my love) – Pointer Sisters – Love, Actually
Sorry - you gotta go to this one yourself - here
9. Let my love open the door – Pete Townshend – Gross Point Blank (and Leon according to this video!)

10. I want you to want me – Letters to Cleo – 10 Things I hate about you

11. Beyond the Seas – Robbie Williams – Finding Nemo

12. Kokomo – Beach Boys (or the Muppets) - Cocktail

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesdays Movie Mashup No. 19

Another new entry to the Leader Board!  Well done Nick, so close Rach.

Last week's clue: Two white lawyers defend two separate black men in trials in the South.  One guy gets off and the other doesn't.  There are also some families involved.

Answer: A Time To Kill a Mockingbird

Hatter - 9
David - 3
Dylan - 2

Sebastian, Andrew, Rachel, James, Nick - 1

New clue: A man and a woman make bets about falling in love while trying to get a sponsor to race their car.

The goal is to figure out the two movies who overlap in some words creating a new movie described by the clue.  Leave your answer in the comments. Good luck!  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March Madness Movie Style!!!

If you always feel left out because you didn't even know Princeton HAD a basketball team good enough to make it to the Sweet 16, or didn't know it was called that, then this is for you!   Fletch, over at Blog Cabins, has organized a way for those of us who don't give a crap about sports to understand what the heck the president does when he's picking a bracket.  You can head over to his site and submit your own choices for the MARCH TO BOX OFFICE MADNESS - where you pick the winners of the summer box office.  I have not done well with this in the past, but this year is my year (I hope!).  It's open to anyone, just get your choices in soon!
Large Association of Movie Blogs

The rules:
1. For each matchup, select which film will have the higher box office. Continue through the bracket until a champion has been crowned.
2. Scoring per round will be 1-2-4-8-12, for a possible total of 76 points (see table in workbook).
3. For the tie-breaker, enter your predicted top 5 films (box office) from the ones listed. One point for will be rewarded for each correct film, and an additional point for proper placement, for a potential 10 points. In the case of a tie, if one person's tie-breaker portion is not filled out, the other will win.
4. Brackets MUST be turned in (sent to no later than March 31.
5. Box office data will be counted from April 1 - September 25, 2011.
6. One entry per person.

The prizes:
Still slightly up in the air (as usual). I'm throwing in (at minimum) a $25 gift card to AMC Theaters and a t-shirt, but as with last year's booty, I was hoping to get the community-at-large involved in the prize-giving (I'd like to have prizes for the top 3 finishers), so if there's something you can offer to the prize pool, please let me know. Hopefully, we can get a nice prize pack going (more on this later). We had 34 players the first year and 38 last year, so just a few items will make it that much more worth it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Reel Insight Episode 38: Gary Oldman

A great week of film watching went into our star of the week. But we also talk about Oldboy, The American, and AHHH! ZOMBIES!. Just a crazy group of movies. Oh, and did Glee sex it up right? You decide. Check it out.  Then of course, our brilliant star of the week who has made the supporting role huge.  Oh, and he has not one, but TWO franchises - Batman and Harry Potter.  Check out Gary Oldman.  And TONS of listener feedback - thanks everyone!

New movies with Gary Oldman this week:

True Romance - I think this was a victim of my being too young to see it when it originally came out and then confusing it with other movies, so I never got around to it.  How happy am I that I had to see it for Gary Oldman's performance?  Wow - what a great movie.  Really makes you wonder what happened to Christian Slater's career though?  Oldman isn't in the movie a ton, but as a white Rasta pimp, he does an incredible job.  One of the best movies I've seen for the podcast so far.

The Backwoods - This moving started out defying all my expectations.  It follows 2 English couples vacationing in Spain, in a particularly rural area.  They bicker and obviously have issues, but are pretty interesting to watch.  One day the men are out hunting and find an abandoned cottage, and realize there's a little girl chained up like an animal inside. They know they cannot leave her, and bring her home.  Turns out she's got lobster claw hands and the town nearby is cuckoonuts and keeps her hidden.  This is where the movie went a bit off the rails and stopped making sense.  I might have to watch it again to figure out the end, but not the horror movie I kinda thought it might be.

Interstate 60 - I was wonderfully surprised by this movie - Quirky describes it best.  Gary Oldman plays a man who can grant wishes (like a genie without a bottle).  However, you can't just go find him, he finds you.  James Marsden plays a guy who can't get a handle on his life and keeps looking for answers.  He is granted this wish and it sends him on the oddest journey.  Just check it out - odd and quirky, funny, and a bit romantic.

State of Grace - This was just a relatively cliched undercover cop movie starring Sean Penn, a young Robin Wright, and Gary Oldman.  If you like cop movies in NYC with a mafia undertone, this is for you - just wasn't quite for me.  

Saturday, March 12, 2011

New Release: Rango and The Adjustment Bureau

There's not a lot to say about either because both benefit from only knowing what the trailers showed you.    So there won't be any spoilers.

Rango is the story of a terrarium chameleon who has to survive for himself and wanders into a town called Dirt that is experiencing a water shortage.  He gets deputized to keep the peace, and of course wanders into the corruption going on, but wants to rise above it and do something important.  They add all of the elements you'd expect with a chameleon in the desert - escaping bit predators, the sun, heat, water, etc.  But what makes this movie something more than just another kids animated feature comes in 2 ways.  First, the animation is a jump above.  The detail in all the scales and whiskers and whatnot on all the desert creatures bests anything that's come before.  And second, the story is more complex than necessary for just a children's movie - it approaches many of the old westerns without going into cliche.  The dialogue is sharp with Johnny Depp's standard delivery reigned in a bit.  My only problem with it was the strange use of props.  In an early scene Depp is escaping an eagle by hiding in a standard glass bottle.  Then later, each of the desert creatures carries a bottle or can or vase perfectly scaled to their own body size.  It left an odd feeling for me - it would have been one thing if all the items they use are really "human" sized things OR the creatures are considered human size and their possessions equivalent.  Just  bothered me. Overall, a really good movie that can only be appreciated with multiple viewings.  4 of 5 stars/lambs

The Adjustment Bureau also felt a bit like a throwback to an older version of cinema (and maybe it was just the fedoras - Fletch said the Adjustment Bureau guys should team up or face off against the bowler hat guys from The Thomas Crowne Affair and I finally got the joke seeing the whole movie!).  The movie starts us with David Norris (Matt Damon) screwing up his first NY Senate bid, and conceding the election.  He meets straight talking Elise (Emily Blunt) in the bathroom before the speech and he realizes he's become a little different than the man he intended to be.  There are also these guys in fedoras following them around,

Anthony Mackie (from The Hurt Locker) and John Slattery (from Mad Men) seems to know something about what's going on.  And from the trailer we know they having something to do with controlling people's destinies.  And, it is NOT David and Elise's destiny to be together - though they have other plans.  The movie explores whether we have free will and our life is made up of only an accumulation of our choices or if there's a predestined plan that you cannot escape from.  The Adjustment Bureau makes sure to keep you on their boss's plan.  It's a terrific love story, with a really well paced plot and doesn't overdo it on the details of how the Adjustment Bureau really works.  I liked that it makes you think about your own life if there really might be a group of people attempting to get you to a particular destiny and therefore, everything you do or people you meet will help you get there.  It kind of explains why my clumsiness hasn't killed me already - I must have more of a plan ahead.  4.5 of 5 stars/lambs

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Random Thoughts on Trailers

Now we all know there are movies that don't live up to the movie you THINK you're going to see based on the trailer.  Movies will be marketed to the widest audience possible without really alienating other groups that might end up seeing it.  However, there are lots of movies that are far better than their trailer.  The current Rango comes to mind because it looks like a kids movie about a Hawaiian shirt wearing lizard who cracks jokes and has to live in the desert.  If you read real reviews (like the Mad Hatter's) you'll see it's really an animated western.  Which is great, it really steps outside the box with how to tell a story, gives kids and parents something to enjoy, but the trailer really sells the story short.

There's also well as my go-to for this topic, Catch and Release, which I'd argue isn't really a romantic comedy at all, but a great drama with a few jokes, all of which are in the trailer.  So if you go in looking for a kooky comedy with Jennifer Garner and Kevin Smith (and why wouldn't you based on this trailer) you're going to be disappointed and probably miss the forest for the trees.

 Then there are the trailers that get you all hyped up with great lines from the movie, but as a whole the movie doesn't quite live up to the promises the trailer makes.  Watching one of our "Star of the Week" movies for the Reel Insight Podcast (RIP!), I saw a trailer for Invictus.  Using Nelson Mandela's words, "I am the captain of my fate: I am the master of my soul" and showing us the greatness that are sports dramas, this movie should have made you stand up and cheer (and it does at least once) but you never quite get the feeling the trailer promises you again.

What do you think?  Are there trailers that just stick with you because you're STILL waiting to see the movie they promised but didn't deliver?  Or are there trailers of such blatant false advertising that you feel the need to tell everyone you know the trailer is wrong and the movie is REALLY about something else?  Give me some examples!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

DVD Roundup: The American and Knight and Day

There's not a lot to say about either of these movies that hasn't already been said.  But I'll try to give you my thoughts on them.  There's a fair amount a release date can tell you about the kind of movie you're going to see - blockbuster fare isn't released in January, and indie dramas aren't release on the Fourth of July.  Obviously there are exceptions to every rule, and quality usually rises above anything that might hold it back.  But it colors how you go into watching a movie if you know it was released June 23rd versus September 1st.

 First, Knight and Day was heralded as an action-adventure comedy and it succeeded on all of those counts.  Tom Cruise, returning to pre-couch-jumping seriousness but with a bit more wry wisdom than Mission: Impossible days, is a government agent protecting a young scientist when his partner, Peter Skarsgaard, goes rogue and tries to steal the kid and his invention.
However, Cruise manages to outsmart him, but is accused of being rogue himself and has to escape to avoid the fury coming down on him.  At the airport, he meets June (Cameron Diaz - much more capable of this kind of role than Katherine Heigl), and tries to subtly convince her not to get on the plane.  She ignores him of course, and then gets on the plane with only assassins - Cruise takes them all out and has to land the plane in a corn field, but he's drawn to Diaz as she is to him and he doesn't want her hurt by the people trying to find him.
That begins their adventure to stay away from each other but satisfy curiosity beyond all imagining - all women secretly wonder if the guy they just fell for is really a super-spy.  They're cute, and funny, and the action goes from nail-biting to unintentionally hilarious.  Overall, it was FAR superior to the similar story Killers that came out last summer with Heigl and Ashton Kutcher - read my thoughts on that piece of garbage here.  Diaz was believable as the side-kick, she holds a gun like a novice, but not like it's about to blow up.  And Cruise wrangled all of his charisma into a finally understated role.  Oh, and Paul Dano is really cute as the nerdy inventor in over his head.  3.5 of 5 stars/lambs

The American, however, was released AFTER the big blockbuster season, and I don't think was ever hyped as a new Bourne.  And luckily, it's not.  Directed by a Anton Corbijn who has mostly done documentaries and photography of bands like U2 and Metallica.  This lends a very photographic nature to the filming, and one I enjoyed very much.  The details of the movie aren't particularly important - Clooney is a super-spy (and we wonder why women secretly suspect that of all guys) who has been found in Sweden.  His boss sends him to hide in Italy and warns him to stop making friends because they seem to keep dying.  We then follow his attempt to maintain a low profile in a small Italian town where he's just known as The American.  He's responsible for a final job crafting a perfect gun for a job, and befriends a mechanic, a priest and a prostitute.  But rather than being the set-up for a joke, we watch him struggle to keep himself to himself, when you can see he mostly struggles for human connection.  I really enjoyed the movie.  My one big gripe is the subtitles on the DVD.  The SONY label on my TV was almost twice as large as the subtitles.  I had to rewind several times to catch it all, and sometimes just ignored whatever I missed.  Still, the precise words of the script don't matter all that much, it's not a brilliant script, but a very well made movie. Oh, and I didn't like the ending, but i won't spoil it.  4 of 5 stars/lambs

Wednesdays Movie Mashup No. 18

Fletch comes on with a vengeance and gets two in a row!  Well done.

Last week's clue: Two knuckleheads fight zombies but one guy ends up on death row. 

Answer: Sean of the Dead Man Walking

Leader board
Hatter - 9
David - 3
Dylan - 2

Sebastian - 1
Andrew - 1 
Rachel - 1
James - 1

New Clue:  Two white lawyers defend two separate black men in trials in the South.  One guy gets off and the other doesn't.  There are also some families involved.

Hint: The movies were filmed 34 years apart.

The goal is to figure out the two movies who overlap in some words creating a new movie described by the clue.  Leave your answer in the comments. Good luck!   

Monday, March 7, 2011

Reel Insight Episode 37: Emily Blunt

Rachel and I had a busy day on Skype on Saturday recording both the Battle Royale and Episode 37.  We had a lot of fun doing both, so I bet you will listening too!  We discussed Knight and Day, Never Let Me Go, some great TV and the perfectly pleasant career of Emily Blunt.  Enjoy!  Also, all of our back episodes are finally available for free!  You can check them out or download them here.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I won Battle Royale!!

Okay, maybe I didn't, but you can go check out a hysterical game and some people who got questions correct!  Rachel, Hatter, James, Tom and I attempted to battle to the death.  Download on itunes or check it out here.

Friday, March 4, 2011

DVD Roundup: Pirate Radio and Get Low

I didn't expect to enjoy Pirate Radio because in general I'm not a great audiophile and 60s British rock, other than Beatles doesn't ring my bell.  However, as I suspected, I'm way overgeneralizing my taste in music, and there was a ton of great music to enjoy in this.  Pirate Radio tells the real story of illegal radio stations that broadcast Rock and Roll in the 1960s by having their "station" on a ship in the North Sea.  Bill Nighy owns the boat, and at the beginning he's bringing a friend's son, Carl (Tom Sturridge) on board to give him a new start.  On board are all the DJs, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Nick Frost, and a bunch of British comedic actors whose names I didn't know, but were pretty funny.  They eventually bring a famous DJ Rhys Ifans to save them after they lose sponsors.

We see some of the story through Carl's eyes - the drugs, the sex, etc., but it's fairly uneven.  As a second storyline, we meet Kenneth Branagh and Tom Davenport as government ministers tasked with making the Pirate Radio stations illegal.  This takes them more than a year to figure out laws they can pass or rules to set up for a good reason that will stop the radio stations.  They're basically assholes, but it's funny watching them try.  Overall, it's a good movie, if incredibly uneven in its story telling.  But at least there's pretty great music over it all.  3 of 5 stars/lambs

Get Low should have been present in some form on Oscar night - sadly it was only present at the Independent Spirit Awards for First Feature and Supporting Male (Bill Murray).  I loved this movie.  Robert Duvall stars as Felix Bush, a curmudgeon living out in the woods by himself in 1930s Tennessee.  His is notified of the death of a friend, and it seems to spark the desire to find out what the world thinks of him.  It's obvious he's been alone for a long time, enough that legend has built up around him that's as much fiction as fact.  He tries to get the minister (Gerald McRaney) to throw a funeral before he dies so he can find out what people would say, but he won't do it.  However, a young assistant at the local funeral home, Buddy (Lucas Black) overhears this and realizes the business it could bring to the failing funeral home run by Frank Quinn (Bill Murray).  So they offer to set up the "funeral party" for Mr. Bush.  While in town, he runs into an old friend (maybe the only person to have really known him), Mattie Darrow (Sissy Spacek).

Everything is going smoothly for the party, but Felix wants to get someone who knows everything about him to tell the truth about it.  Whatever is in his past is too hard for him to talk about, and he tries to find an old friend to do it for him.  I won't reveal the secrets that come up, but the movie tells the story really well, not giving too much weight to the secret or the past, but reminding us that we all carry them with us.  I really liked all the acting in this movie - particularly Lucas Black.  I first saw him in Crazy in Alabama with Melanie Griffith.  She's over the top, but he's pretty amazing, and now he's grown up to be a pretty powerful screen presence.  4.5 of 5 stars/lambs

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New Release: Just Go With It

I've been a bit behind on regular posting of what I've seen and I know I said I was going on a hiatus, but I started several reviews of things I watched and they just needed to be finished and have photos added so here goes.
Adam Sandler's new movie, Just Go With It, had almost no expectations of being any good.  His previous movie, Grown Ups and Jennifer Aniston has been creating a series of pretty amazingly bad movies (The Bounty Hunter was on many "worst of 2010" lists, including mine).  But, over at Reel Insight, it was Adam Sandler week so I decided to take my chances.  And maybe it was due to those extremely low expectations, but I enjoyed it much more than any of the last few Sandler movies.  The movie starts with Sandler as Danny (complete with a HUGE prosthetic nose) overhearing his bride to be discussing how the affair she had the night before was the last time.   He goes to a  bar to drown his sorrows and is playing with his wedding ring when a girl (Minka Kelly) notices his wedding ring and offers to cheer him up.  This gives Sandler the idea to pretend to be married in order to pick up girls without commitment, oh and to become a plastic surgeon and have his nose taken care of.

This advances us ten years or so.  Katherine (Aniston) is now his office assistant and friend.  A single mother with two kids, she mocks his fake lifestyle.  Oh, and she's taught her kids to call poop a Devlin, named after a girl she hated in her sorority.  Danny meets Palmer (Brooklyn Decker) and decides his wild ways are over - but she find his wedding ring and will only believe his relationship is over when she meets his soon-to-be ex-wife.  He asks Katherine to step in - but only if she fancys herself up a bit.  This the the moment you can see the rest of the movie coming - she walks in all hot and sexy with clothes he bought and his mouth drops.  But, you need another 90 minutes of insanity before they can get together.

And for a change, the insanity is worth it.  Palmer thinks they have kids and she wants to meet them (Danny borrows Katherine's manipulative and surprisingly unannoying and cute kids).  The kids maneuver their way into a trip to Hawaii for the whole family.  Danny's best friend, Eddie (Nick Swardson) arrives at the airport for a free trip to Hawaii pretending to be Katherine's new boyfriend, Dolph Lundren, a sheep expert (surprisingly hysterical in every scene he's in, while you're waiting for him to get cracked in the nuts - it felt like he filled the Rob Schneider role, but did it better).  Oh, and Nicole Kidman and Dave Matthews show up as Katherine's high school friend Devlin and her perfect husband.  Wonderfully bitchy and competitive, Kidman needs to do more of this kind of comedy - she's pretty great, and Matthews is hysterical.

Overall, there are many laugh out loud moments, a few poignantly sweet moments (one with the kids, and a few between Sandler and Aniston) and a very predictable story with pretty great scenery and clothes.  Somewhere between Billy Madison and 50 First Dates  - both of which I love, so this worked for me.  3.5 of 5 stars/lambs

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wednesdays Movie Mashup No. 17

A  new member of the Leader board!  Congrats to Fletch from Blog Cabins for beating the rest to the answer.  

Last week's clue: A woman moves to Italy to restart her life after a divorce and meets astronauts on a sci-fi mission.  

Answer: Under the Tuscan SunShine

Leader board
Hatter - 9
David - 3
Dylan - 1

Sebastian - 1
Andrew - 1 
Rachel - 1
James - 1

New Clue: Two knuckleheads fight zombies but one guy ends up on death row.  

The goal is to figure out the two movies who overlap in some words creating a new movie described by the clue.  Leave your answer in the comments. Good luck!