“The Night Before” Review

February 9, 2016 |  by  |  movies, reviews  |  No Comments

This is a sour, angry, one-joke Christmas “comedy” that delivers not a single laugh or moment of intelligence or wit.  “The Night Before” is an awful film that generates pure awkward cringe in such copious amounts that I felt gross after having endured it.  It desperately tries to emulate the same “stoner” hilarity found in the far more successful “Harold and Kumar” series.

The film features three unsympathetic, moronic assholes who traditionally get together every Christmas for a night of partying.  They especially want to find the holy grail of holiday parties – a secretive and mysterious ball that they heard about many years earlier, but have never been invited to.  However, this time they steal invites and spend the early part of the evening getting drunk and high as they anticipate the big festivities later in the night.  They bounce from bar to bar, house to house, getting into wacky adventures along the way.

“The Night Before” disastrously strings together scenes of carnage and misery, depressing misunderstandings and alternately infantile and vulgar conversations.  Everything about the film is hideously executed.  The performances are all one-note. The comedic set-ups are stiff and uncomfortable… almost like watching some of the worst Saturday Night Live skits that go nowhere.  The chemistry is toxic.  The message is morose.  The comedy is unoriginal, dour and crass.  This is one of the least funny comedies of all time.

ZERO STARS The Night Before Review

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“The Wave” Review

February 2, 2016 |  by  |  movies, reviews  |  No Comments

“The Wave” is a Norwegian film that will remind most moviegoers of the 1997 Pierce Brosnan disaster epic, “Dante’s Peak”.  Both films feature a small town nestled in the remote shadow of an ominous mountain.  Both films have a lead seismologist who is very worried about an impending disaster…  No one really wants to heed the warnings.  Both films also feature a love interest, who has two kids — one boy and one girl.  The difference with this 2016 movie is that, instead of a volcanic eruption, a rockslide is the main culprit — one that will trigger a fjord tsunami over eighty meters tall, therefore destroying the quaint coastal village.

Now, I liked “Dante’s Peak”.  It was a fun and thrilling adventure, albeit a little cheesy and hard to believe in parts.  It was a million times better than the mirror movie from 1997, “Volcano”.  That was a cinematic turd, if ever there was one.  Thankfully, “The Wave” is not remotely that terrible.

I thought the first half of the film was moody and tense.  It really built a sense of foreboding.  The cinematography is excellent, making full use of the glorious Norwegian mountains and fjords.  Some of the landscapes are jaw-dropping.  The performances are all very solid, although the characters are slightly clichéd.Once the set-up is complete, the disaster occurs and the film starts to suffer a little.  Clearly, budgetary concerns limited the visual impact of “The Wave”.  It all felt a tad underwhelming and cheap.  I would never expect the Norwegian film industry to have “Hollywood Money”… but it could have been done better, in my opinion.

I think the movie is worth seeking out for fans of the disaster genre.  It never falls completely off the rails… managing to create a satisfying story with only a few wobbles along the way.  Set aside the all too obvious special effects, the conveniently placed little fires (for cinematic lighting) amongst the wreckage of the soaking wet town, and the absurdly silly CPR scene — and this is actually a pretty solid effort.

THREE STARS The Wave Review

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“The Big Short” Review

January 23, 2016 |  by  |  movies, reviews  |  No Comments

“The Big Short” has a lot going for it… but more stacked against it.  On one hand, the cast list is filled with talented actors, and the subject matter plays into the universal hatred of Wall Street and the corrupt bankers.  On the other, the film feels a few years too late, and is essentially a series of dull financial conversations that cover all of the ground that we’ve seen in countless media stories over the past half-decade.  The filmmakers clearly recognized that cinematic problem and do their utmost to try and jazz things up with shaky cameras, gimmicky fourth wall breaks, and an obnoxious soundtrack that feels as inappropriate as Mozart in a porn flick.

So what do we have here?  The movie details the months leading up to the 2008 crash, focusing on the few individuals who were able to analyze the data and see the impending disaster before anyone else.  These “lucky” few were then able to bet against the US economy, generally known as “shorting the market”.  We bounce energetically from scene to scene of men in their Wall Street uniforms (dull suits) chatting about their discovery and how they are going to make millions when all the poorest Americans begin to lose their homes.

Obviously, the subject matter is rather stale… sub-prime debt being grouped and packaged with A++ loans, then sold in bulk over and over again as CDO’s.  Blah Blah Blah.  It is the kind of stuff that may interest us on a surface level… but we certainly don’t need the minutiae of it all.  The filmmakers knew this and try desperately to integrate some interesting characters to spice up this bland stew.  They even go so far as to provide non-sequitur moments such as Margot Robbie (one of the only women in the film) explaining sub-prime debt to us while soaping herself up in a bubble bath for two minutes.  Anthony Bourdain chimes in while making a fish casserole, and Selena Gomez offers a few words while playing blackjack.  The entire movie feels like it is jumping up and down, waving its hands above its head, screaming “Look at me!  Isn’t this fun?!”

There is a scene, about half way into the running time, where a phone conversation is shot with the shakiest camera this side of “The Blair Witch Project.”  Slap on some Guns and Roses tunes and cut away to a nineties hip hop video of girls shaking their asses.  Why?  No reason.  The filmmakers just didn’t want you to get bored.

“The Big Short” treats the audience like pre-school morons who couldn’t possibly understand the complexity of it all.  They try to distract us with bright colors and loud noises in the hopes that we will confuse it for action and momentum.  In reality, the cast is the only thing holding this shockingly mediocre movie together.  They are the only reason to endure this condescending and, quite frankly, dull piece of old news.  What a shame!  The movie takes the biggest financial debacle in living memory, followed by the biggest miscarriage of justice (banks and bankers making off with billions of taxpayer dollars), and dumbs it down for fans of MTV-style editing and E! Entertainment Television-style attention spans.

TWO AND A HALF STARS The Big Short Review

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“Colonia” Trailer

January 12, 2016 |  by  |  movies, trailers  |  No Comments

Holy Ballsnaps!!!  This movie looks good.

Synopsis: Lena and Daniel, a young couple become entangled in the Chilean military coup of 1973. Daniel is abducted by Pinochet’s secret police and Lena tracks him to a sealed off area in the South of the country, called Colonia Dignidad. The Colonia presents itself as a charitable mission run by lay preacher Paul Schäfer but, in fact, is a place nobody ever escaped from. Lena decides to join the cult in order to find Daniel. Based on true events.

Quite frankly, I will watch anything with Emma Watson.  She is fast becoming one of the best actresses in the industry.  I also love movies about escape attempts.  “Colonia” is one of my most anticipated films of 2016.  It gets released in late spring / early summer.

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“Sisters” Review

January 11, 2016 |  by  |  movies, reviews  |  No Comments

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are usually a great team.  Their partnership in hosting the Golden Globes was genius.  They seem like a perfect comedic pairing.  That being said, “Sisters” was utter shite.  It is one of the worst comedies in years.

As is obvious, the two women play siblings who are markedly different… not only in appearance, but also in action.  One (Poehler) is a prim and proper sister who is into motivational messages and helping the less fortunate.  The other (Fey) is a dead-beat bad mother who can’t hold a job and thinks of paying rent as optional.  The two of them come together when their parents decide to sell the family home where they grew up.  So they decide to hold one last party and invite all their old high school friends.

“Sisters” is a movie that is more befitting of Pauly Shore or Adam Sandler at their lowest brow.  It is asinine, infantile, gross and moronic is every way.  I may have smirked 2 or 3 times early in the film, before the horror show had fully developed.  It is an embarrassingly weak effort that is fa beneath the standards that Fey and Poehler have set for themselves over the past decade.  To paraphrase a Sandler movie — Everyone in the theatre is dumber for having watched it.  I award it no points and may god have mercy on its soul.

HALF A STAR Sisters Review

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Hottie Birthdays - January 7th

Hottie Birthdays – January 7th

January 7, 2016 |  by  |  beauty, birthdays, celebrities, faces  |  1 Comment

Blanca Padilla turns 21 today.  As the face of Dolce & Gabbana, she is one of the most sought after supermodels in the world.  We think she is one of the most amazing beauties of this generation.  She debuted at 23rd on the 100 Most Beautiful Faces of 2015… and she is only going to be rising in the next few years.  She has also become famous for walking the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

Lauren Cohan is a 34 year-old actress, best known for her role as Maggie Greene on “The Walking Dead” and recurring roles on “The Vampire Diaries”, “Supernatural”, and “Chuck”.  Look for her in the 2016 horror flick, “The Boy”.

Haley Bennett hits 28 today.  She first came to our attention in the 2007 movie, “Music and Lyrics”.  Her small, but powerful role in Denzel Washington’s “The Equalizer” was terrific.  We think she is about to hit the big time in 2016, with roles in the new Warren Beatty project, the new Terrence Malick film, and Antoine Fuqua’s adaptation of “The Magnificent Seven”.

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The Director Roundtable – THR

January 6, 2016 |  by  |  celebrities, movies, opinion  |  No Comments

The year’s most notable directors join for The Hollywood Reporter’s annual roundtable discussion. The directors include Quentin Tarantino (‘The Hateful Eight’), Tom Hooper (‘The Danish Girl’), Alejandro G. Inarritu (‘The Revenant’), Ridley Scott (‘The Martian’), Danny Boyle (‘Steve Jobs’) and David O. Russell (‘Joy’).

The 10 Things I Learned From This Video…

1. The final footage from “Blade Runner” was leftover material from Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”.

2. Tom Hooper is as boring and dull as most of his movies.

3. No one ever brings up David O. Russell’s verbally abusive tirade against Lily Tomlin.

4. Quentin Tarantino only has two films left before retirement.

5. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu seems like a very amiable and lighthearted guy… the opposite of his films.

6. Danny Boyle is jovial and happy and seems like he would be fun to work with.

7. Ridley Scott may make some great movies from time to time — but he is unlikable and as dumb as a bag of hammers.

8. Stephen Galloway always hosts these things and he is the most annoying and infantile person in the world

9. Quentin Tarantino’s favorite memory of his career was the Jack Rabbit Slim’s twist contest with John Travolta.

10. If done by another organization, these director, actor, actress, writer roundtables would be a great weekly TV show.

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Hottie Birthdays - January 5th

Hottie Birthdays – January 5th

January 5, 2016 |  by  |  beauty, birthdays, celebrities, faces  |  No Comments

Deepika Padukone turns 30 today.  The Danish born actress and model is one of the most popular Indian celebrities in the world.   Look for her in “Chennai Express” on Netflix, as well as a number of other great Bollywood productions.  She has been on the 100 Most Beautiful Faces List each of the last three years.

Suki Waterhouse is a 24 year old English model who has been the face of Burberry.  She has also modeled for brands like Swatch, Lucy in Disguise, H&M, Max Studio, Caterina Gatta and Pepe Jeans.  You will have seen her on virtually every major fashion mag over the past couple of years.  Suki also made the 100 Most Beautiful Faces of 2014.

Amanda Hearst turns 32 today.  The elegant socialite is an associate editor at Marie Claire magazine and the founder of Friends of Finn, an organization dedicated to stopping the inhumane treatment of dogs in puppy mills.  She is a gorgeous model and has graced the cover of many prestigious magazines.  Amanda also made the 100 Most Beautiful Faces on four occasions between 2004 and 2008.

January Jones is 38 today… but could still pass for 28.  She is most famous for her iconic role in the greatest television show of all time — “Mad Men”.  We also love her new sitcom, “The Last Man on Earth”.  With her classic Grace Kelly-like features, January has made the 100 Most Beautiful Faces List three times… in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

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“Anomalisa” Review

January 2, 2016 |  by  |  movies, reviews  |  No Comments

“Anomalisa” is a stop-motion animated film about Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis), an author on a trip to Cincinnati to give a convention speech on customer service.  Once holed up in his hotel room, he calls his wife and son to check in… he calls an old flame from a decade earlier… and he meets a girl named Lisa (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh) in the hotel bar.

The film is melancholic and somber — acutely observing the minutiae of Michael’s evening.  He is bored and unenthusiastic about everyone he encounters.  This is evident by the fact that everyone else in the story has the same face and the same voice (all played by Tom Noonan).  To Michael, the world is full of drones who have nothing of import to add to his life.  However, this all changes the moment he meets Lisa — she looks and sounds different.  He states, “I think you’re extraordinary.”  She asks, “Why?” He ponders, “I don’t know yet. It’s just obvious to me that you are.”  Then comes some puppet sex.  I am not kidding.

Now, there is a case to made that “Anomalisa” has brilliance within it.  The film flirts with some truly interesting emotions and soulful conundrums.  The delicacy with which it is made lends itself to high praise.  Unfortunately it falls desperately short of that because of one fatal flaw.  It begs us to sympathize with the lead character — a man whose crushing emptiness and hateful lack of empathy could not be more despicable.  Michael Stone is a vacuous, philandering, desperate, selfish, soulless, asshole who deserves all of our disdain.  He is one of the more unlikable people in any 2015 movie.  Yet, Charlie Kaufman (writer and director) frames the entire cinematic experience as one where we should feel pity for this worthless dollop of clay.  I found that wholly unpalatable.

It is one thing to root for a protagonist in a mafia movie — who is living according the rules of the mob (“Goodfellas”).  I can cheer for a hitman – who is operating within the bounds of his profession (“Sicario”) etc.  But to ask me to feel pity or sympathy for a dullard businessman who treats his family like a burden, women like receptacles for his sexual guilt, and random people on the street like worthless ants to be ignored or trodden upon… Especially when he has a life that 95% of people would be thrilled to have… Well, then I draw the line.  “Anomalisa” is a technically lovely excercise… but its request of the audience is as morally bankrupt as its central character.

TWO STARS Anomalisa Review

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Hottie Birthdays - January 2nd

Hottie Birthdays – January 2nd

January 2, 2016 |  by  |  beauty, birthdays, celebrities, faces  |  No Comments

Paz Vega turns 40 today.  Her most memorable role was in the 2002 Spanish film, “Lucía y el sexo” (“Sex and Lucia”).  She is also very good in movies like “Carmen”, “Teresa, el cuerpo de Cristo”, “Los Borgia” & “10 Items or Less”.  Paz was in our 100 Most Beautiful Faces List on no less than seven occasions… reaching as high as 3rd in 2004.

Christy Turlington is 47 today.  The legendary supermodel is still as stunning today as she was when she burst onto the scene in the late eighties.  Whenever I hear her name, I always think of John Turturro’s famous blowjob line from “Rounders”.

Kate Bosworth turns 33 today.  She is a tremendous actress… very underrated in my estimation.  Her best performance can be seen in “And While We Were Here” (2013) — a lovely film that was in my Top 10 that year.

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