Archives for January 2013

What Would YOU Like to See?

As per my uz … I visited TV.com this week (yeah, I kinda love the small screen too – don’t get me started in on Scandal …) and stumbled upon this interesting article as part of their “Fantasy Casting” series.

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Let it be known: I LOVE me some Sneakers, so personally the idea of it getting a TV reboot (even within the realm of fantasy) is a bit disconcerting. I felt that its narrative was perfectly composed for a film and not necessarily convertible to serialized format, but hey, that’s just me. Some of the ideas TV.com readers had were quite interesting.

But I digress. Reading the article got my grey matter moving and led me to the following question: exactly which films WOULD work as a TV reboot? Well readers I am posing that very question to YOU.  Maybe it has already been done – see M*A*S*H, BuffyTeen Wolf, The Odd Couple, … My Big Fat Greek Life (yeah it existed) – or maybe not.

In any regard, share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.

Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: Midnight Run (1988 directed by Martin Brest)

No matter how many times I see Midnight Run (1988) I am left in stitches. Before Meet the Parents/Fockers and Analyze This/That for many, Robert DeNiro is more renowned for his dramatic roles. Yes, yes I have heard all about The King of Comedy and all (still have yet to see it), but until that point in my cinematic journey this film is enough for me proof of Robert deNiro’s comedic chops.

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For those not in the know, here is a brief synopsis:

Robert De Niro plays Jack Walsh, a world-weary bounty hunter is hired to bring in embezzling accountant Jonathan Mardukas (Charles Grodin). Initially Walsh assumes that the extradition trip from New York to LA will be a run of the mill trip – that is until 1) Mardukas’ fear of flying means they will have to take the cross country journey on the ground and 2) when he realizes just WHO Mardukas has embezzled from – a notorious mobster (Dennis Farina), who Walsh has his own past with. Along the way our dynamic duo are chased not only by the mob, federal agents (led by Yaphet Kotto) and a rival bounty hunter (John Ashton).

The comedic rapport between Grodin and deNiro is priceless and if for no other reason I recommend that you watch this film for that.

For those of you who have seen it let me know what you think of it in the Comments section below.

Also be sure to check out other overlooked titles on Todd Mason’s blog, Sweet Freedom.

Movie Jail Relay Race – the Lucky 13th Round

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Thanks to my movie bloggin’ buddy Ruth at flixchatter.net for including me in this really interesting meme. So far the following movie bloggers have participated in this event:

  1. My Film Views/The Focused Filmographer
  2. Cinematic Corner
  3. And So It Begins
  4. Surrender to the Void
  5. Cinematic Paradox
  6. The Cinematic Spectacle
  7. Being Norma Jean
  8. Defiant Success
  9. …let’s be splendid about this
  10. Lime Reviews and Strawberry Confessions
  11. Aziza’s Picks
  12. Flixchatter

Here are my parameters:

It’s time to put some movie people in jail. The object is to give a prosecutor’s argument as to why these movie people belong in “Movie Jail” whether it be for violating the integrity of the content source of one their films, or being a sell-out, just making bad movies overall, getting worse as time goes on or not being in a good movie for many years.

The baton will be passed to another blogger who will have to do the following:

In order to free someone from Movie Jail they have to do 2 things
1 – Give a defense attorney argument defending the plaintiff
2 – Pay bail: the cost of which is another case for the court and a prosecutor’s argument against the actor/director of their choice that will replace the one set free.

There must always be 10 people in Movie Jail.

As it currently stands, the following folks are incarcerated:

MichaelBaymoviejail

Michael Bay

FreidbergMovieJail

Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer

 

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Raja Gosnell

 

Katherine Heigl

Katherine Heigl

 

Todd Phillips

Todd Phillips

 

Eddie Murphy

Eddie Murphy

 

Adam Sandler

Adam Sandler

 

Til Schweiger

Til Schweiger

 

Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart

 

 and lastly …NicCageMovieJail

Nic Cage

(added by Ruth)

Ruth – this is a sound choice! What makes his crimes so egregious is that early on he had so much talent (or at least we were told he did). He has does nothing but cash in on that earlier praise to turn in what can only be described at best mediocre performances over the past 15+ years.

 

Person rescued by Ruth: Jennifer Aniston

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Ruth, again this is a sound choice and you make a very valid point in her defense. She is a thespian who definitely capitalized on her televisual success for a movie career – and has sure as heck stretched it for all it is worth. The result has been a couple of hits and several misses. Granted I am not a fan of hers but if anything she has sold-up, not sold out.

 

Unlucky 13 Indeed. Geez folks! You all have made this choice really hard for me. Most of these prisoners should be UNDER the jail not just in it. I was thinking Til Schweiger will get a reprieve. My reasoning is not the most thought out admittedly but it is the best I can come up with at this point. While I agree that anyone who terrorizes folks with subpar rom-coms on a constant basis is GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY. But I have not seen them since most of his crimes against cinema are not in my native language, so I will give him a pass (READ: Ignorance is bliss). But the blogger who selected him (at Lime Reviews and Strawberry Confessions) got me thinking in the world of the romantic comedy …

Lock’em Away and Throw Away of the Key. I must thank my little bro for this one. After much consideration I think I am going to go with Jennifer Lopez.

jlojail2 Why, you may ask? Well, after early box office promise from films like Selena and Out of Sight, the rest of her cinematic CV is littered with a set of films that I suppose were to make her a bona-fide American Darling. Yeah – didn’t work. This latest outing (released today) does her no favors either (although I am a kinda sorta Statham fan):

 

Oh yeah I almost forgot Gigli (how could I?).

 

I now pass the baton to Dan at Public Transportation Snob.

Films Set in the Nation’s Capital (DC)

Hey Guys!

Sorry I have been a little off the grid in the past couple of days – I have just returned from the nation’s capital. It is simply a great city and the setting for many of my favorite films of distant and recent memory. Here is a quick look at some of my favorites:

The Pelican Brief (1993) – Denzel and Julia together at last! This was a tense yet evenly paced film that also harkened the earlier (and superior) All the President’s Men (1976) which of course had similar hallmarks especially considering that they were both directed by the same fella – by Alan J. Pakula. All the President’s Men stands out because of the aforementioned tension and pacing but also because I find it a quintessential film of the 1970’s when paranoia and fear of what lurks in the dark shadows seemed to reach its height in Cold War America.

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Strangers on a Train (1950) – Hitchcock and tennis, my two great loves. Throw into the mix a bizarre double murder plot and I am a happy girl indeed. Adapted from the Patricia Highsmith novel.

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Born Yesterday (1950) – this film proved to be an award-winning performance by the fantastic Judy Holliday and co-starring the dreamy William Holden in a Pygmalion-type story with hoods to boot!

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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) – This proves above all Frank Capra was a true believer in the ideals America continues to imbue to the huddled masses who wash upon our shore.

Hollywood's Greatest Year: The Best Picture Nominees of 1939

 

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) –  One of the best sci-fi dramas EVER. That is all.

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Dave (1993) – OMG I cannot believe that this film is already 20 years old! Anyways, I love it. Words nearly escape to talk about how I like this film but I know that whenever it is on, I have to watch it.

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I know I could add more, but let me stop here and pose the following question to all of you … What are some of YOUR DC favorites?

 

Happy Belated Birthday Cary!

This birthday message is coming a couple of days late but I am glad to send it out. In honor of Archie Leach’s birthday, I would like to spotlight some of my favorite performances featuring Bristol’s native son.

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The no-brainers:

  • The Philadelphia Story
  • North by Northwest
  • Arsenic and Old Lace
  • His Girl Friday
  • Notorious
  • Bringing Up Baby

A few favorites that I have covered on my website:

And a few that I have yet to cover (that you may not all be totally aware of) – stay tuned for that:

  • Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer
  • My Favorite Wife
  • The Awful Truth

 

What are some of your favorite Grant films?

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Honestly I did not know what to expect when I entered the movie theater on that cold rainy Friday night. The only thing I did know about the film I was about to see (Silver Linings Playbook) was that it had just received a slew of Academy Awards nominations. I sat in my seat rearing to go.

After 2 hours, would I declare this a hit or a miss? Read down further to find out …

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We open by meeting Pat (Bradley Cooper) as he is being treated in a facility for what we find out is a previously undiagnosed mental ailment – which itself is the aftermath of engaging in a disturbing manic act, one that may have otherwise landed him in the slammer. Now released to the custody of his mother and father (Jackie Weaver and Robert DeNiro) he is determined to reclaim that life taken away from him. Enter Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) recently widowed and sister to Pat’s estranged wife’s friend (played by Julia Stiles). Pat and Tiffany are two people meet at a very low point in each other’s lives and are trying to fight their way through their troubles. As the movie progresses, the idea that they might just get there if they work together and support each other.

Sounds heavy, right? Well, in the end what you have in this film that is a variety pack: a romantic comedy/family drama/session on the psych’s couch. And, to my pleasant surprise, it works. We shift through the various layers and stories at play seamlessly. I found myself laughing out loud at times and at other times genuinely feeling for the angst I saw on screen.

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Onto the performances. While I have been one to admire many aspects of Bradley Cooper it seemed to me at least like there was something missing from the performances on screen. Alas with Silver Linings Playbook I feel like he hit a sweet spot. In fact this got me reflecting more on that fact that there are a lot of talented people out there in H-wood and sometimes it is simply a matter of finding that material which out the best in you. Maybe it had something to do with shooting the film in and around his native Philadelphia (I do my research) but there seemed to be even tone to his performance as ironically a man who was battling a crippling mental ailment.

Cooper’s co-star, Jennifer Lawrence, carries on the role as the longing, grieving and heartbroken widow with an aplomb that belies her age. I know folks are ready to crown the America’s next sweetheart and all, but please just let her grow into her craft and go from strength to strength.

The supporting cast is nothing to scoff at either. I think my personal favorite is Chris Tucker, Pat’s friend from his time inside, who turns up at the most random moments to great comedic effect.

Of course this praise of the film is due in large part to finding a director that can bring out the best in you and weave all of these story elements together – much dap to David O. Russell for doing this with his cast of characters.

As much as I enjoyed the movie, I did find myself asking if it deserves the plaudits that have been heaped upon in. Why not is my response. During the awards season, I think that many of us get caught up in the notion that if a film is to be a serious awards contender it must be overly esoteric or dramatically epic. That position really does diminish the value derived from the simple act of moviegoing and purely enjoying oneself. In the case of Silver Linings Playbook you have a well-constructed story, very well acted. Thus making it a film well worth watching.

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Video Review: Pitch Perfect (2012)

Okay I admit it – I was a Season 1 “Gleek.” And while my enthusiasm for the television series has waned what has not waned is my love for the good ole singing and dancing numbers that sometimes accompany film and television. So when I found out about the film Pitch Perfect you can imagine my anticipation with seeing it.

Pitch Perfect

About 90 minutes later, while I found the number routines quite fun, the “narrative” left me a little flat. Not that I think there was much concern for that anyways because most of us were there for the song and dance anyways.

Add to that the fact I am pretty sure I am not the target demo for this film (being well past my teens and all) I can excuse some of the plot contrivances common among teen comedies – most notably the whole “boy meets girl” scenario, band of misfits, etc. – for the sake of some unadulterated fun.

Pitch Perfect was directed by Jason Moore and is loosely based on the non-fiction book of the same title written by Mickey Rapkin. Largely set on the fictional campus Barden University, the film opens at Lincoln Center in New York City; we are smack dab into the final round of a nationwide a cappella competition. The Barden Bellas, the all-female group, experience an unfortunate onstage incident which makes them the laughing stock of their campus and the fodder of ridicule especially at the hands of the award-winning all male rival group on campus – the Treblemakers.

Pitch Perfect

Desperate to right the wrong done to them the Barden Bellas set out on a mission to bring in some new blood – this is where “the misfits” enter, headed y teen wannabe DJ Beca (Anna Kendrick) and “Fat Amy” (Rebel Wilson). It instantly becomes a clash between old and new and rivalries heightened as the march toward a cappella greatness continues …

Ironically, there are a couple of references to another teen oriented comedy from nearly 30 years ago, The Breakfast Club (DANG it is that long ago? I’m old). Unfortunately for me, this reference to that film was a reminder on some level what this kind of genre can be at its most earnest (minus the singing and dancing of course). Okay so maybe that is not a fair comparison to make since Pitch Perfect is not a film that takes itself too seriously. All the more fun!

In addition to some good musical numbers and solid performances by the leads, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the a cappella group from my alma mater – The Hullabahoos – have a cameo in the film. WA-HOO-WA!

But as I said earlier despite this (unfair) comparison, Pitch Perfect ultimately strikes the right note.

 

 

Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: Pleasantville (1998)

Pleasantville is a 1998 film starring Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon as a brother and sister tandem who could not be any different. One day they are arguing over what to watch; they subsequently break the television and have to call a TV repairman (D0n Knotts) to fix it – yup in 1998 there were still TV repairmen who showed up at your door.

But I digress – Don Knotts the TV repairman leaves them with a remote that transports them to the B&W picturesque world of Pleasantville, home of a popular 1950’s television program. In the real world it would be like one of us being transported to Mayberry (The Andy Griffith Show), or better yet the town from Leave it to Beaver. Everything appears to be perfect but as you can expect but the introduction of the modern day brother/sister starts to change the town. This change is represented by the world of Pleasantville slowly being converted into color.

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Check out the trailer here:

The clever use of “B&W vs. color” cinematography, as well as the revisionist social commentary on the era are two of the highlights of the film that appealed to me. Oh yeah, and the cast is not too shabby either – in addition to Maguire and Witherspoon, rounding out the awesome cast are Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, and William H. Macy.

Have you seen the film? If so what do you think about it?

Also be sure to check out my friend Todd Mason’s blog for more “overlooked” titles.

Weekend Viewing

Happy Friday everyone! Now that the Academy Award nominations are out, I am certain that a whole bunch of contenders will be getting a sweet box office bounce.

I for one, plan on entering the fray this weekend by feasting a double-bill of Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln.

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How about you all – what (if anything) are you planning on heading out to the theaters to see this weekend? If you are not going to catch one of the several films that are in Awards contention, how about the other films currently on release?

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Oh and I almost forgot – The Golden Globes are on Sunday! Will you be watching? I will probably give them a pass as per usual. Although I am torn since I got love for Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, who will be teaming up on the hosting duties … (maybe I will catch the highlights).

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♥ LOVE ♥

Be sure to share your comments below.

 

Searching for Sugar Man (2011)

I cannot believe that I let 2012 pass without mentioning the remarkable documentary, Searching for Sugar Man. When I first heard about the film during the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, I had no desire whatsoever to see. Part of my reluctance was that I was CONVINCED I knew which way the story was going to turn.

But, a few words of praise from those whose opinions I hold in high esteem persuaded me to give the doc a chance. And boy am I glad I did.

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SYNOPSIS: Seventies folk rock artist Rodriguez never made it big in his native USA. Somehow, his music, with a decidedly anti-establishment message, found its way into the homes of middle class South Africans with whom it literally struck a chord. They connected with his message of rebellion and fighting the powers that be – in what history would prove were the waning days of the apartheid system. This message and inspiration made Rodriguez an instant superstar. Add to the mix the various tales of his tragic fate and he instantly became the stuff of legend.

Fast-forward to the present day – two fans want to know exactly what happened to their musical idol, so they embark on a journey that spans the globe (including to Rodriguez’s native Detroit) …

I will not divulge how this mystery of this Detroit-based musician (named Rodriguez) unfolds. Just rest assured there are many twists in turns in our narrators’ journey to find out the truth behind the fate of “Sugar Man.”

And while I enjoyed the ride immensely, one of the things I found most fascinating about this story is that Rodriguez’s music really was not that bad; I guess it is just telling about the music industry in general that someone could fall through the cracks and fade into obscurity in the way he did.

You may even more incentive to give this film a chance now that it has been nominated for an Academy Award in the category of “Best Documentary.” In fact, I did just catch that Searching for Sugar Man is now available on iTunes – may be worth a look-see!