2010 Fall/Winter Movie Preview – Part 2 September 7, 2010Posted by Matt in movies.
Tags: 127 Hours, Black Swan, Blue Valentine, Burlesque, Country Strong, due date, Fair Game, Fall Movie Preview, Faster, Gulliver's Travels, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Little Fockers, Love and Other Drugs, Megamind, Morning Glory, Somewhere, Tangled, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Debt, The Fighter, The Next Three Days, The Tourist, Tron: Legacy, Ture Grit, Unstoppable, Yogi Bear
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Today we continue our look at the upcoming Fall/Winter movies using nothing but the descriptions given on IMDB.com. Last week we journeyed through the months of September and October so today we will tackle the true Oscar season, November and December.
Director: Tom McGrath (Madagascar, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa)
Cast: Will Ferrell, Jonah Hill, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey
Plot: After super-villain Megamind (Ferrell) kills his good guy nemesis, Metro Man (Pitt), he becomes bored since there is no one left to fight. He creates a new foe, Titan (Hill), who, instead of using his powers for good, sets out to destroy the world, positioning Megamind to save the day for the first time in his life.
My Take: The combination of a great cast and Dreamworks Animation, who were responsible for the acclaimed How to Train Your Dragon, make this a must-see.
Director: Todd Phillips (The Hangover, Old School)
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan
Plot: High-strung father-to-be Peter Highman (Downey Jr.) is forced to hitch a ride with aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis) on a road trip in order to make it to his child’s birth on time.
My Take: I faith that in Phillips’ hands this film will transcend the overdone road trip comedy. That and I think Galifianakis is hilarious. I’ll see this one later on DVD.
Director: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later)
Cast: James Franco
Plot: Mountain climber Aron Ralston (Franco) becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive.
My Take: A movie about a guy who gets his armed stuck and reflects on his life for the duration of the film before cutting it off with a pocket knife? Umm…I’ll wait for the reviews.
Director: Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith)
Cast: Naomi Watts, Sean Penn
Plot: While investigating the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, CIA operative Valerie Plame (Watts) discovers her identity allegedly leaked by the government as payback for an op-ed article her husband (Penn) wrote criticizing the Bush administration.
My Take: While I’m sure this will be a fine movie and that it will be in line with my political beliefs, it just doesn’t excite me. Not at all. But, I’ll wait for the reviews.
Director: Tony Scott (The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Man on Fire)
Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson
Plot: A rail company frantically works to prevent an unmanned, half-mile-long freight train carrying combustible liquids and poisonous gas from wiping out a city.
My Take: Following their tepid remake of Pelham, Denzel and Scott reunite for another action packed movie about a train. Umm…probably not for me…
Director: Roger Michel (Changing Lanes, Notting Hill)
Cast: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Jeff Goldblum
Plot: A hotshot television producer (McAdams) is set the challenge of reviving a struggling morning show program, despite the constant feuding of its high-profile anchors (Keaton and Ford)
My Take: This movie sounds like something for people older than me, so I’ll just leave it for them. No thanks.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Director: David Yates (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Plot: Harry, Hermione, and Ron set out from Hogwarts to find and destroy the Horcruxes – the secret to Voldemort’s power and immortality
My take: The first part of the finale has finally arrived! Count me in!
The Next Three Days
Director: Paul Haggis (Crash, In the Valley of Elah)
Cast: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson
Plot: A married couple’s life is turned upside down when Lara Brennan (Banks) is accused of murder. Three years into her sentence, Lara’s husband John (Crowe) is struggling to keep their family together and, realizing his wife’s deteriorating condition, he decides to break her out of prison.
Remake of French film, Pour Elle (Anything for her)
My Take: This French film remake has a good director and an excellent cast, so I feel pretty sure it will be a well-received Oscar contender that I’ll see eventually.
Director: Nathan Greno (feature debut, Animation for Bolt, Meet the Robinsons), Byron Howard (Bolt)
Cast: Many Moore, Zachary Levi
Plot: Rapunzel (Moore), a princess with 70 feet of magical, golden hair, has been locked away for years in a tower high above her kingdom. Desperate to be free, she strikes a deal with Flynn Rider (Levi), a handsome bandit who chooses her tower as a hideout spot.
My Take: Given that I have two little girls, this will probably be unavoidable.
Director: Steven Antin (feature debut)
Cast: Cher, Christina Aguilera, Alan Cumming
Plot: A small-town girl (Aguilera) ventures to Los Angeles and finds her place in a neo-burlesque club run by a former dancer (Cher).
My take: While this holds no interest for me at the moment, I’ll wait for the reviews.
Love and Other Drugs
Director: Edward Zwick (Defiance, Blood Diamond)
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Judy Greer
Plot: A romantic comedy that skewers the pharmaceutical industry and is centered on relentlessly charming Viagra salesman Jamie Reidy (Gyllenhaal) and his romantic involvement with free-spirited Maggie Murdock (Hathaway).
My Take: It has a good cast, but there isn’t much in the rom-com genre that interests me.
Director: George Tillman Jr. (Notorious, Men of Honor)
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Maggie Grace
Plot: An ex-con (Johnson) sets out to avenge his brother’s death after they were double-crossed during a heist years ago. During his campaign, however, he’s tracked by a veteran cop (Thornton) and an egocentric hitman.
My Take: Given that I’ve pretty much ignored The Rock’s past forays into film, it’s basically a given that I’ll do the same with this one.
Director: Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Requiem for a Dream, Pi)
Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel
Plot: While vying for the coveted lead roles in a production of Swan Lake, a veteran ballerina (Portman) enters into a twisted friendship with promising new dancer (Kunis) that threatens to consume her.
My Take: I like the past work of Aronofsky and I tend to be a fan of Natalie Portman, but ballet just doesn’t ring my bell. I’ll wait for the reviews.
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others)
Cast: Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Paul Bettany
Plot: Frank Taylor (Depp) travels to Venice to recover from a recent break-up, though he soon finds himself engaged by the beautiful and mysterious Elise (Jolie) – who happens to be an Interpol agent with a dangerous connection to a fugitive criminal.
My Take: Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in a thriller taking place in a glamorous foreign location? This may be worth checking out.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Director: Michael Apted (Enough, The World is Not Enough)
Cast: Ben Barnes, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley
Plot: Lucy (Henley) and Edmund (Keynes) return to Narnia with their cousin Eustace (Polter) where they meet up with Prince Caspian (Barnes) for a trip across the sea aboard the royal ship The Dawn Treader. Along the way they encounter dragons, dwarves, merfolk, and a band of lost warriors before reaching the edge of the world.
My Take: I’ve been a bit underwhelmed by the Narnia films so far, though much of that is probably due to them coming on the heels of the incredible Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’m sure I’ll see this movie sometime, probably on DVD.
Director: David O. Russell (I Heart Huckabees, Three Kings)
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo
Plot: A look at the early years of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and his brother, Dick Eklund (Bale), who helped train to become a pro fighter.
My Take: I like Russell and the idea of this film being at least partly a dark comedy intrigues me. I’ll wait for the reviews.
Director: Joseph Kosinski (debut)
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde
Plot: When Sam (Hedlund) investigates a signal sent from his father’s old arcade, he’s pulled into the digital world where his dead, Kevin Flynn (Bridges), has been trapped for 20 years. With father and son reunited, they team up with the warrior Quorra (Wilde) on a life-or-death journey across the cyber universe Kevin created.
My Take: I must admit that I’ve never seen the first Tron. Maybe if I did see it the idea of The Dude in cyberworld would appeal to me more. We’ll see.
Director: Eric Brevig (Journey to the Center of the Earth)
Cast: Dan Aykroyd, Justin Timberlake, Anna Faris
Plot: A documentary filmmaker (Faris) travels to Jellystone Park to shoot a project and soon crosses paths with Yogi Bear (Aykroyd) and his sidekick Boo-Boo (Timberlake).
My Take: Like the Chimpmunks movies, I’m sure my kids will make sure I see this one. Ugh.
Director: Paul Weitz (About a Boy, American Pie)
Cast: Ben Stiller, Teri Polo, Robert De Niro
Plot: The Focker and the Byrnes families brace themselves for the arrival of a baby.
My Take: Really? Another of these movies? No thanks.
Director: Ethan and Joel Coen (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men)
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin
Plot: A young girl recruits a tough US Marshall to track down the man who killed her father.
My Take: Yes! I’ll watch anything the Coens put out, but the idea of Bridges taking on John Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn role is too much to pass up. This has all the marks of being my top film of the year.
Director: Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette)
Cast: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning
Plot: A hard-living actor (Dorff) holed up in the Chateau Marmont gets a reality check when he’s visited by his 11-year-old daughter (Fanning).
My Take: I loved Coppola’s Lost in Translation, but was unimpressed with Marie Antoinette. Hopefully she rediscovers her groove with this one.
Director: Rob Letterman (Monsters vs. Aliens, Shark Tale)
Cast: Jack Black, Emily Blunt, Jason Segel
Plot: Shipwrecked travel writer Lemuel Gulliver (Black) finds himself transported to an island in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle, where he’s a giant among the natives, the Lilliputians. Initially taken prisoner, Gulliver becomes a favorite of the court and schemes for a way in which the Lilliputians can outwit their rivals, the Blefuscudians.
My Take: Jack Black is very hit-or-miss with me and I can’t help but think this will be the latter. Will wait for the reviews.
Director: Shana Feste (The Greatest)
Cast: Garrett Hedlund, Gwyneth Paltrow, Leighton Meesler, Tim McGraw
Plot: A drama centered on a rising country music songwriter (Hedlund) who sparks with a fallen star (Paltrow). Together, they mount his ascent and her comeback, which leads to romantic complications involving her husband/manager (McGraw) and a beauty queen-turned-singer (Meester).
My take: It’s great that Hollywood seems to have rediscovered country music (see last year’s excellent Crazy Heart). I’m not familiar with the director, so it remains to be seen how this will turn out. I’ll wait for the reviews.
Director: Derek Cianfrance (several short films and documentaries)
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, John Doman
Plot: A look at the idyllic past and troubled present of working class couple Dean (Gosling) and Cindy (Williams).
My Take: This heavy drama was well-received at Sundance last year, but we’ll see.
Director: John Madden (Shakespeare in Love, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin)
Cast: Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Tom Wilkinson
Plot: In 1965, Mossad agent Rachel Singer (Mirren) was part of a secret mission to capture and bring to trial the Surgeon of Birkenau, a Nazi war criminal. In her present-day life, when a man claiming to be the killer surfaces in Ukraine, Singer travels to Eastern Europe to seek out the truth.
My Take: Interesting concept. I’ll wait for the reviews.
Who are You Callin’ Expendable? August 12, 2010Posted by Matt in movies.
Tags: Sylvester Stallone, The Expendables, trailer
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I’m sure you’re all aware that the latest big budget action movie, The Expendables, opens this weekend. Normally I’m not much of a fan of mindless shoot-em-ups, but I can’t help my attraction to this one. I’m sure it’s partly a testosterone-fueled desire to see things get blown up (as Beavis would say, “Fire! Fire! hehehehe!), part of it is the nostalgia of seeing all of the old action heroes crowded on screen together (more on that in a minute) and thirdly it’s just escapist fun.
In case you aren’t that familiar with the film, it was written and directed by Sylvester Stallone, who also stars alongside an all-star team of Jason Statham (The Transporter, Snatch, Jet Li (The One, War), Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV, Universal Soldier), Eric Roberts (Best of the Best), UFC fighter Randy Couture, WWE’s “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Oscar nominee Mickey Rourke, and small roles by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis.
Sure, it sounds like it’s destined to be terrible and cheesy, but it looks pretty awesome to me. Anybody want to go to the movies?
Exercising with Akira August 4, 2010Posted by Matt in exercise, movies.
Tags: Akira Kurosawa, exercise, Netflix Watch it Now, Yojimbo
Those of you follow this blog might remember that I’ve been exercising and lifting weights on a regular basis since the beginning of this year. Sometimes my aerobic workout involves running outside, but with temperatures still dangerously high after dark, that has not been an option in recent weeks. So, without the dark neighborhood roads to act as my conduit to good health, I have relied on our elliptical.
We bought our elliptical a few years ago and at first I used it regularly, but soon, as so often happens, it became just another holder of dirty clothes and whatever junk the kids piled up. Earlier this year, though, I dusted the machine off, familiarized myself with it, and put it to use again – at least on the days when I did not go outside. Now, we purchased this machine at a time when we had little money to spend, so our elliptical is quite cheap by most standards. Sure it has a digital display and varying resistance levels, but it’s also a bit rickety and squeaks incessantly when in use.
Ideally, I like to watch television when I exercise, but the squeaking made that quite difficult to do without turning the volume up to a deafening level. Thus, I could easily watch sporting events while exercising because the announcers words mattered little to me, but could not keep up with the MSNBC talk shows (Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow) that I also enjoy. Once the NBA playoffs ended, I was faced with a difficult decision – what would I watch? I like baseball fine, but I don’t generally watch it on television and there were few other viewing options during the dog days of summer.
Well, faced with watching news programs at a deafening volume or exercising in silence, I decided to turn to another method of entertainment – Netflix. We ordered the Watch It Now disc for the Wii and set it up, giving me a huge collection of options, but I was still faced with the fact that I could not hear the spoken words very well. That was when it hit me like the blunt edge of a samurai sword – foreign films.
Sure, I could watch movies in English with subtitles turned on, but I would always find myself straining to hear the actual words. With foreign films, the spoken words would not matter to me, so I can watch the action, listen to the music, and read the words while churning out 40 or so minutes on the elliptical.
Last night, I began this new venture with Akira Kurosawa’s classic Yojimbo and made it through half of the film. Tonight I will probably finish it out. I found myself captivated by the story (which would later inspire Clint Eastwood’s classic western, A Fistful of Dollars) and fairly easily pumped out 45 minutes on the elliptical, burning off a total of 950 calories.
Yeah, I think Akira and I are going to get along just fine…at least until football season starts…
1980 Continued: Movies July 27, 2010Posted by Matt in movies, top ten.
Tags: 1980 movies, airplane, Blues Brothers, Caddyshack, Raging Bull, The Empire Strikes Back, The Shining, top 5
We continue our journey back to the dawn of the 1980’s with this look at some great films released that year. Granted, there are probably several great movies I haven’t seen from that year since I was only three at the time and have had to catch up over the ensuing 30 years, but these are the six that I consider to be favorites.
5. (tie) Airplane! and Blues Brothers
Truth be told, I haven’t seen either one of these in years so I’m not sure how they have held up, but I still feel pretty confident about including them. One is a classic spoof and the other stars the late, great John Belushi – I can think of few characteristics that would be better.
When I was a kid my favorite part of the movie was the gopher, but as an adult, I can recognize that there are few movies with better comedic dialogue than this one. Chevy Chase (as Ty Webb) and Bill Murray (as Carl Spackler), in particular, crack me up every time they open their mouths. Spackler’s story about meeting the Dali Lama is priceless.
3. Raging Bull
This biographical film about boxer Jake LaMotta (played by the great Robert De Niro) is without a doubt one of Martin Scorsese’s masterpieces. It’s an affecting and sometimes even painful picture to watch, but one that everyone should see.
2. The Shining
I love Stanley Kubrick and in this retelling of Stephen King’s great novel, he proves that his books can actually be made into great films. There are few horror films that are as psychologically gripping as this one and most of that is due to Jack Nicholson’s incredible performance and Kubrick’s spooky camera shots. This one still scares me every time I think about it.
1. The Empire Strikes Back
I’m a huge fan of the original Star Wars trilogy and Empire is probably my favorite of the three films. It’s darker than the first chapter and doesn’t have the kiddie marketing campaign of the last one, and both of those things suit it well. From the Icy world of Hoth to the Dagobah swamp to the Cloud City, this film takes viewers on an incredible ride – and they get to learn that the innards of a Tauntaun are ideal to keep one from freezing to death.
2000 Continued: Movies July 20, 2010Posted by Matt in movies, top ten.
Tags: 2000, American Psycho, Amost Famous, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Gladiator, High Fidelity, Memento, movies, O Brother Where Art Thou, Snatch, top ten, Traffic, X-Men
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We continue our time machine series today with a look at the best movies of 2000. Please join me on this 10 year leap back in time…
10. American Psycho
This violent, disturbing cult classic is definitely a different breed of movie. Christian Bale plays a yuppie businessman afflicted with an insatiable blood lust who becomes a serial killer. Though the film is loaded with graphic violence, it is the black comedy and satire interspersed throughout that make this movie great.
Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of this Best Picture winner from director Ridley Scott and star Russell Crowe, but, while it is a run-of-the-mill epic, the film is a superbly acted, well-done piece of work.
8. Almost Famous
There is something about a well-done coming-of-age film that really strikes a chord with me and there are few of them done better than this great work from director Cameron Crowe about a teenage journalist traveling with a fictional band in the 1970′s. It’s really a great movie, especially if you are like me and you’ve long fantasized about following around a rock band.
The first installment of this hugely popular comic book series adaptation is a bit weaker than the second, but it is still very good as it introduces the world to the mutant characters and to their struggle for acceptance. It’s a good movie, though it’s greatest role is in setting up the second chapter in the series.
6. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
I would be lying if I said that I ever paid much attention to martial arts films prior to this one, or for that matter, after this, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this Ang Lee-directed foreign language epic. If nothing else, it gave me a much better appreciation for movies of this genre.
5. High Fidelity
What can I say? The concept of nerdy, snobbish collectors of vinyl records really appeals to me – probably because I can see so much of myself in them. Based on the hilarious novel by Nick Hornby, this film starring John Cusack, Jack Black, and a laugh-out-loud turn by Tim Robbins is a must-see.
Without a doubt, this is director Guy Ritchie’s best work to date. Jason Statham and Benicio del Toro star in this crime-comedy along with a very funny Brad Pitt as a gypsy with an indecipherable accent. The plot itself is sort of twisted and I couldn’t do it justice in these few sentences, so make sure and see this if you never have.
Sporting an all-star cast – Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, Catherine Zeta-Jones, etc. – this crime drama was probably my favorite of all the Best Picture nominees in 2000. It is a gritty, well-acted, and well-shot film that certainly deserved all of the praise it received.
2. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
I’m a huge fan of everything Coen, so when I heard they were recreating The Odyssey in Depression-era Mississippi, I could hardly wait to see it. It has all of the eccentric characters and funny scenes that you would expect to find in a Coen film, along with one of the best soundtracks in years.
Director Christopher Nolan hit gold with this film, employing a nonlinear narrative in a psychological thriller setting to make an instant classic. In the movie, Leonard Shelby (played by Guy Pearce) suffers from amnesia and is trying to solve the mystery of who killed his wife. Due to his defective memory, he tattoos facts regarding the case onto his body, so that he can read and remind himself each day. The plot is twisty, but never to the point that you might lose interest in this incredible piece of work.
Goonies Never Say Die June 7, 2010Posted by Matt in movies.
Tags: 25th Anniversary, The Goonies, Truffle Shuffle
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Want to feel old?
The movie Goonies turns 25 years old this week.
Come on, I know those of you who are my age have a soft spot for it. Pirates, treasure, and the Truffle Shuffle, and a cast that included Sean Astin before he became a football playing hobbit and a pre-W Josh Brolin – What’s not to like?
2010 Summer Movie Preview – Part 2 May 5, 2010Posted by Matt in movies.
Tags: Despicable Me, Dinner for Schmucks, Eat Pray Love, Get Low, I Love You Phillip Morris, Inception, Piranha 3-D, Predators, preview, Salt, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Summer Movies, Takers, The Expendables, The Last Airbender, The Other Guys, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Today we continue our look at the upcoming summer movie season.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Director: David Slade
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Plot: Bella Swan (Stewart) oscillates between vampire Edward Cullen, who wants Bella’s hand in marriage, and werewolf Jacob Black, who has just declared his love for her. Meanwhile, the Cullens and the Quileute werewolves unite to stop an army of powerful vampires from seeking their revenge on Bella.
My Take: Do I seriously need to comment on this?
The Last Airbender
Director: M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Happening)
Cast: Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone
Plot: Aang (Ringer), a young successor to a long line of Avatars, learns that he possesses the power to engage the Fire Nation and hopefully end their century-long war against the Water, Earth, and Air nations.
Producer: M. Night Shyamalan
My Take: The big question here is whether or not M. Night Shyamalan can rekindle even a shred of the creativity that he displayed in his first few movies. Until he proves that he isn’t just a one hit wonder, yawn.
Verdict: I’ll wait for the reviews
Director: Pierre Coffin (Gary’s Fall), Chris Renaud (No Time for Nuts)
Cast: Steve Carrell, Miranda Cosgrove, Kristen Wiig
Plot: A trio of orphan girls cause the normally deplorable Gru to rethink his plan to steal the moon.
My Take: Got me. Steve Carrell’s film choices have been up-and-down at best, so I’m not sure what to think of this foray into animation. Nevertheless, if my kids see enough commercials (and I’m sure they will), it may be unavoidable.
Verdict: Will wait for reviews.
Director: Nimrod Antal (Armored, Vacancy)
Cast: Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne, Topher Grace
Plot: A group of elite warriors are hunted by members of a merciless alien race.
My Take: Normally I couldn’t care less about another Predator movie and would just chalk it up to another blatant money-making scheme a la Alien vs. Predator, but this film has something else going for it: Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, From Dusk Till Dawn, El Mariachi trilogy) as producer. Add Adrien Brody to the mix and you’ve got an intriguing action movie.
My Take: Probably a Netflix pickup.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Monica Bellucci, Alfred Molina
Plot: Master sorcerer Balthazar Blake (Cage) recruits a seemingly everyday guy (Baruchel) in his mission to defend New York City from his arch-nemesis, Maxim Horvath (Molina).
My Take: Nicolas Cage as a modern day sorcerer? Really? And his name is Balthazar Blake – possibly Bad Blake’s long lost brother? This sounds terrible.
Verdict: No thanks. If reviews are somehow good I might check it out on DVD.
Director: Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Memento)
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, ken Watanabe, Ellen Page
Plot: A sci-fi/thriller set within the “architecture of the mind,” and centered on a group of business people who can construct a dream world for an individual and then infiltrate that world to steal their subconscious.
My Take: Now this is what I’ve been waiting for. Christopher Nolan has turned into one of the true modern day master filmmakers and with this cast and an interesting concept, I expect this to be the movie to see this summer.
Verdict: Definitely a must-see.
Director: Phillip Noyce (Catch a Fire, Rabbit-Proof Fence)
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber
Plot: When CIA officer Evelyn Salt is called a spy by a Russian defector, she goes on the run, putting all of her experience and skills to use to elude capture, learn the truth of her identity, and hopefully clear her name.
My Take: I’m not a fan of run-of-the-mill action films, so I’m not holding my breath on this one. To me it sounds like a Bourne-wannabe.
Verdict: Eh. I’ll wait for the reviews.
Dinner for Schmucks
Director: Jay Roach (Meet the Parents/Fockers, Austin Powers I, II, III)
Cast: Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd, Stephanie Szostak
Plot: Tim (Rudd) is a rising executive who “succeeds” in finding the perfect guest, IRS employee Barry (Carrell), for his boss’s monthly event, a so-called “dinner for idiots,” which offers certain advantages to the exec who shows up with the biggest buffoon.
My Take: Like I mentioned earlier, Steve Carrell has a tendency to choose less-than-stellar films and then plays basically the same buffoonish character in all of them. This sounds no different and the fact that Jay Roach is also responsible for all three Austin Powers movies doesn’t bode well.
Verdict: Unless the reviews are great, I’m not interested.
Director: Aaron Schneider (Two Soldiers)
Cast: Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek
Plot: In 1930s Tennessee, backwoods hermit Felix Bush (Duvall) decides to throw his own funeral…while he’s still alive.
My Take: It’s got a great cast, an interesting story, and some good word-of-mouth, so we’ll have to add this one to the yes column.
Verdict: A Netflix pickup.
I Love You Phillip Morris
Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa (none)
Cast: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann
Plot: On his second go-round behind bars, scam artist Steven Russell (Carrey) commits the ultimate con in order to break out and win back the heart of Phillip Morris (McGregor), with whom he fell in love during his first prison sentence.
My Take: A gay love story with Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, written and directed by the guys responsible for Bad Santa? This could be a must-see.
Verdict: Will look at the reviews, but it will probably be a Netflix pickup.
The Other Guys
Director: Adam McKay (Talladega Nights, Anchorman)
Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg
Plot: Two mismatched New York City detectives seize an opportunity to step up like the city’s top cops whom they idolize – only things don’t quite go as planned.
My Take: I like Will Ferrell’s brand of humor to an extent, but I can’t help but wonder if it is growing a bit stale over time. For the most part, I really enjoyed Adam McKay and Farrell’s other projects, so I will probably watch this one too.
Eat Pray Love
Director: Ryan Murphy (Glee)
Cast: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, Viola Davis
Plot: Happily married Elizabeth Gilbert (Roberts) takes a right turn in her life by enduring a painful divorce and proceeding to take a round-the-world journey of self-enlightenment and fulfillment.
My Take: Yuck. A Julia Roberts movie helmed by the guy responsible for Glee. Double yuck.
Verdict: Please God, no….
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Director: Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead)
Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin
Plot: Layabout musician Scott Pilgrim falls for the new girl in town, Ramona Flowers, but in order to win her heart, he must defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends.
My Take: You had me at Edgar Wright. This comic book adaptation could be the bright spot in a month that is usually a dead zone for movies.
Verdict: Will definitely see, probably on Netflix.
Director: Sylvester Stallone (Rambo, Rocky Balboa)
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, Steve Austin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis
Plot: A team of mercenaries head to South America on a mission to overthrow a dictator.
My Take: If this movie had been released 20 years ago, it would have been a must-see. Today it is merely a nostalgic oddity featuring past-their-prime action stars looking for one more shot at glory. My guess is that it will be terrible, but does it really matter?
Verdict: Yeah, I’ll probably watch it on Netflix for old time’s sake…
Director: John Luessenhop (Lockdown)
Cast: Matt Dillon, Paul Walker, Idris Elba, T.I., Chris Brown
Plot: A hard-boiled detective (Dillon) gets in between a group of bank robbers and their plan to make away with a $20 million bounty.
My Take: Yawn. Another run-of-the-mill police thriller. The only thing intriguing about this film is that it features both the recently incarcerated T.I. and the abusive Chris Brown.
Verdict: No thanks
Director: Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes)
Cast: Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O’Connell, Richard Dreyfuss
Plot: A tremor under the surface of Lake Victoria unleashes scores of prehistoric piranhas, an event which rallies the local sheriff (Shue) who will risk everything to save her townsfolk.
My Take: This sounds so incredibly bad that it has to be good. And to top it off – it’s in 3D. But someone has to ask the question, what the heck is Richard Dreyfuss doing in this?
Verdict: Probably not, but the cheese factor is definitely appealing.
2010 Summer Movie Preview – Part 1 May 4, 2010Posted by Matt in movies.
Tags: Get Him to the Greek, Grown Ups, Iron Man 2, Jonah Hex, Killers, Knight and Day, MacGruber, Marmaduke, Prince of Persia, reviews, Robin Hood, Shrek Forever After, Splice, Summer Movies, The A-Team, The Karate Kid, Toy Story 3
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A few times each year I take some time to provide you, my readers, with a much-needed service. You, I, and everyone else out there know that sometimes good movies can be hard to come by and often you are forced to wade through piles of dreck before finding the proverbial diamond in the rough. So, rather than you being coerced into watching poorly made films by tasteless Hollywood types, I’ve taken it upon myself to review these movies, sight unseen, to help you decide which films deserve your hard earned dollars. My reviews are completely based on the few trailers I may have seen along the way and the descriptions and casts provided on IMDB. So, without further ado, here are our first batch of movies for the summer.
Iron Man 2
Director: Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson
Plot: With the world now aware of his dual life as the armored superhero Iron Man, billionaire inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) faces pressure from the government, the press, and the public to share his technology with the military. Unwilling to let go of his invention, Stark, along with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) at his side, must forge new alliances — and confront powerful enemies.
My Take: The first Iron Man embodied everything a summer movie should be. It was smart, fun, and had great big budget special effects, and leading man Robert Downey Jr. was absolutely perfect in the role of rich playboy Tony Stark. With multiple villains in tow, this sequel threatens to be an over-the-top mess, but given the general high quality of the first sequels of comic book movies (Spiderman 2, X2, The Dark Knight, Hellboy 2), I have high expectations.
Verdict: A must see in the theater.
Director: Ridley Scott (Gladiator)
Cast: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Max Von Sydow, William Hurt, Matthew Macfadyen
Plot: The story of an expert archer (Crowe) who travels to the town of Nottingham toward the end of the 12th century, where the acts of a despotic sheriff (Macfadyen) and the presence of a beautiful widow (Blanchett) inspire him to assemble a gang of mercenaries bent on raiding the upper class as a way to correct the sheriff’s injustices.
My Take: This reteaming of Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe could very well be the best take on Robin Hood since Errol Flynn donned the green tights. It looks dark, gritty, violent, and is does not star Kevin Costner, all of which bode well for this retelling.
Verdict: A must-see, maybe in the theater, but definitely on DVD.
Shrek Forever After
Director: Mike Mitchell (Sky High, Deuce Bigalow)
Cast: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas
Plot: A bored and domesticated Shrek (Myers) pacts with deal-maker Rumpelstiltskin to get back to feeling like a real ogre again, but when he’s duped and sent to a twisted version of Far Far Away — where Rumpelstiltskin is king, ogres are hunted, and he and Fiona (Diaz) have never met — he sets out to restore his world and reclaim his true love.
My Take: As evidenced by his catalogue of bad sequels, Mike Myers has become well known for committing violent acts with deceased equine. I never saw Shrek the Third and my interest for this is chapter in the series is even less.
Verdict: Eh, I don’t really care. I might see it later if my kids want to watch it on DVD.
Director: Jorma Taccone (SNL)
Cast: Will Forte, Ryan Philippe, Kristen Wiig, Val Kilmer
Plot: Ex-special operative MacGruber (Forte) is called back into action to take down his archenemy, Dieter Von Cunth (Kilmer), who’s in possession of a nuclear warhead and bent on destroying Washington, D.C.
My Take: With few exceptions, Saturday Night Live-based films are usually terrible and I can’t imagine this one joke MacGyver send-up will be any good either.
Verdict: No thanks. I’ll pass on this one.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Director: Mike Newell (Love in the Time of Cholera, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Mona Lisa Smile)
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina
Plot: Set in medieval Persia, a rogue prince (Gyllenhaal) joins a mysterious princess (Arterton) in an effort to prevent a dark force from obtaining an ancient dagger that allows its handler to rule the world.
My Take: With Jerry Bruckheimer producing, this video game-based film is destined to be a huge spectacle, but I can’t say I’m too enthusiastic about it. I like Jake Gyllenhaal, so maybe this one will be able to transcend the general rule that video game movies are terrible, but the fact that one of the writers, Boaz Yazkin, also wrote the script for Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights is a big knock against it.
Verdict: Will wait for the reviews to decide.
Director: Robert Luketic (The Ugly Truth, 21, Legally Blonde)
Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl, Tom Selleck
Plot: Three years into their perfectly suburban marriage, Jen (Heigl) learns that her husband Spencer (Kutcher) is not only an undercover assassin – he’s also a target worth millions of dollars to a clutch of fellow assassins who have been trailing the couple in secret since they met.
My Take: Didn’t they just make this movie a few years ago with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? I didn’t see that one either.
Verdict: No thanks. I couldn’t care less.
Get Him to the Greek
Director: Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall)
Cast: Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, Elisabeth Moss
Plot: A record company intern (Hill) is hired to accompany out-of-control British rock star Aldous Snow (Brand) to a concert at L.A.’s Greek Theater.
My Take: I am big a fan of Judd Apatow’s comedies, so this offspring of the decent Forgetting Sarah Marshall holds some level of intrigue for me and I do like Jonah Hill.
Verdict: Will see on DVD.
Director: Tom Dey (Failure to Launch, Shanghai Noon)
Cast: Owen Wilson, Judy Greer, Lee Pace
Plot: The Winslow family moves to a new neighborhood with their large yet lovable Great Dane, who has a tendency to wrek havoc in his own oblivious way.
My Take: Do people really care about the Marmaduke comic strip? What’s next, Heathcliff?
Verdict: Not under my own volition, though I may relent if my kids insist.
Director: Vincenzo Natali (Getting Gilliam)
Cast: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chaneac
Plot: Two scientists fuse DNA samples to create a new organism: A human-chimera they name Dren. As the creature rapidly develops from a deformed female infant into a winged creature, her initial bond with her creators turns deadly.
My Take: I’m not familiar with the director, but the presence of Guillermo del Toro as executive producer certainly piques my interest. Also, the idea of a human-chimera hybrid sounds really cool.
Verdict: Will wait for the reviews, but this will probably be a Netflix pickup.
Director: Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces)
Cast: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Rampage Jackson
Plot: A group of Iraq War veterans looks to clear their name with the US military, who suspect the four men of committing a crime for which they were framed.
My take: It has an interesting cast and director and the presence of Ridley Scott as producer doesn’t hurt either. Also, the A-Team does elicit a lot of fond nostalgia from me as a child of the 80’s.
Verdict: Will probably see through Netflix eventually.
The Karate Kid
Director: Harald Zwart (The Pink Panther 2)
Cast: Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith, Traji P. Henson
Plot: Work pressures cause a single mother (Henson) to move to China with her young son (Smith); in his new home, the boy embraces karate, taught to him by a master of the self-defense form (Chan).
My Take: I don’t know why they have to mess with The Karate Kid. Please, Hollywood, stop destroying my childhood. I mean, come on, Harald Zwart directed The Pink Panther 2! You can do better than that!
Verdict: Will wait for the reviews, but I’m not too enthusiastic.
Toy Story 3
Director: Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Michael Keaton
Plot: Woody (Hanks), Buzz (Allen), and the rest of their toy box friends are dumped in a daycare center after their owner, Andy, departs for college.
My take: Did you know it’s been 11 years since Toy Story 2? As usual, I’m sure Pixar will do an excellent job continuing the franchise one more time. The inclusion of screenwriter Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine) will probably up the level of sentimentality.
Verdict: A must-see.
Director: Jimmy Hayward (Horton Hears a Who!, lots of animation)
Cast: Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, John Malkovich
Plot: The US military gives bounty hunter Jonah Hex (Brolin) an offer he can’t refuse: in exchange for his freedom from the warrants on his head, he’s to take down a terrorist (Malkovich) whi is gathering an army and preparing to unleash hell on earth.
My Take: It seems like a strange combination to mix a virtually unknown comic book and two action movie screenwriters with the director of Horton Hears a Who!, but the film definitely sounds interesting. The fact that metal band Mastodon is recording the score pushes the anticipation level even higher.
Verdict: Will see, probably through Netflix.
Director: Dennis Dugan (You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry)
Cast: Adam Sandler, Salma Hayek, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Steve Buscemi
Plot: After their high school basketball coach passes away, five good friends and former teammates reunite for a Fourth of July holiday weekend.
My Take: It’s been many years since I thought Adam Sandler’s tired shtick was funny and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Verdict: No thanks.
Knight and Day
Director: James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line)
Cast: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard
Plot: An action-comedy centered on a fugitive couple (Cruise and Diaz) on a globe-spanning adventure where, amid shifting alliances and unexpected betrayals, nothing and no one are what they seem.
My Take: A few years ago, Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz were two of the biggest, most bankable stars around – the key word here is “were.” This is obviously their attempt to cash in with a big-budge pedestrian summer blockbuster and revive their flagging careers.
Verdict: Eh. I’ll check the reviews, but my interest is very low.
Random Five: When Oscar is Wrong March 4, 2010Posted by Matt in movies, Random Five.
Tags: Academy Awards, Best Picture, Brokeback Mountain, fargo, Goodfellas, L.A. Confidential, Pulp Fiction, wrong choices
I have had an interest in the Academy Awards, especially the Best Picture winners, for probably about 20 years – ever since I was a young teenager whose cinematic tastes were starting to mature. Over that time, I think I’ve seen all of the Best Picture winners and most of the nominees, and there is one thing that has often been apparent to me – sometimes, the Academy gets it wrong. Yes, even with all of their wisdom and power and prestige, there are occasions when the Academy voters mess up and give the award to a film that is undeserving (at least in my eyes) when compared to its competitors. Today’s list is dedicated to those films from the past 20 years that were nominated, but lost to a lesser film. As always, let me know what you think.
5. Goodfellas (1990)
One of three times that a deserving Martin Scorsese was wrongly defeated, Goodfellas was the best gangster movie since the first Godfathers, both of which did win Best Picture. Winner Dances with Wolves is not a bad movie by any means, but it certainly is not on the same level.
4. Pulp Fiction (1994)
Tarantino’s magnum opus was not just the best film of 1994, it was quite possibly the best of the entire decade. It is a cultural milestone, albeit one that is full of dark humor, graphic violence and string after string of obscenity-laced dialogue. And what beat it? Forrest Gump. Ugh.
3. Fargo (1996)
It took twelve years after the release of this, possibly their best film, for the Cohen brothers to finally bring home the Best Picture Prize and that’s a real travesty. Sure, I don’t remember The English Patient that well, but come on, it’s Fargo!
2. L.A. Confidential (1997)
L.A. Confidential is a great film that deserves tons of praise, but in all honesty, this pick is driven more by my dislike for James Cameron’s last 3 hour epic, the incredibly overrated Titanic. That being said, L.A. wins by default.
1. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Say what you will, but Brokeback Mountain is one of the most important and best films of the past decade. Sure, it carried some controversy with it, but great works usually do and the Academy utterly failed when they went with the safe choice, Crash (which isn’t a bad movie, just forgettable), over the right one.
And one more thought – if Avatar wins this year, you can add it to the list as well.
What do you think? When do you think the Academy got it wrong?