“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” Review

March 28, 2016 |  by  |  movies, reviews  |  No Comments

Revisiting the final half of the abysmal “Man of Steel”, about half a million innocent civilians are pointlessly massacred in the first five minutes of this movie.  Subsequently, we move to a desert hideout, full of terrorists, and see a handful of soldiers get shot in the face.

After that, this movie gets dark.

Dark is actually an understatement.  Morose. Bleak. Vicious. Hate-filled. Anguished. Catastrophic. Sick. Depressing. Joyless. Any of those adjectives would work — choose your poison.  “Batman v Superman” is just another in a horrifically endless line of dreary superhero flicks that are desperately trying to be taken seriously as art.  The fact is that they never have been and they never will be… because they’re not.  Superhero flicks are disposable entertainment vehicles that have long since lost the key part of that phrase — the entertainment.

Ben Affleck takes the helm beneath the evermore ludicrous bat-suit.  Henry Cavill reprises his forgettable turn as the king of spandex (or is it a breathable cotton?)(maybe it is some kind of super-fabric?).  Whatever the case may be… these two fanboy icons lock horns in the highly unnecessary, but ultimately inevitable money grab that is this giant turd of a movie.

Jesse Eisenberg is the least intimidating villain in the history of film as the infamous Lex Luthor.  Amy Adams sets women’s equality hopes back about a decade as the hapless and constantly-in-need-of-rescuing Lois Lane.  And Gal Gadot tries to remedy that setback as Wonder Woman — the only thing in the film that has any merit whatsoever.

The relentlessly silly plot contrivances and dream sequences tick along until the ultimate showdown between the two titular characters.  Batman stands over Superman, about to thrust a kryptonite spear into the heart of his hated rival — when an offhand whisper miraculously saves the universe and they become best buddies.  Hooray!  What luck!  Who knew that a trivial coincidence could matter so much?

Blech!  This piece of utter shite has been getting hateful reviews this week — and for good reason.  It is one of the worst films of 2016.  Fanboys will defend it as usual… because nothing in their fantasy geek universe is allowed to be criticized too much.  But secretly, inside their puny minds and bodies, they will be crushed to bits by this disappointment.  Another nail in the coffin of an overcrowded genre, packed with repetition and reboots and ridiculousness.

This type of crap is not art — it is consumerism.  This is not for connoisseurs — it is for sheep.  This isn’t even entertainment any more — it is miserable marketing that will appear deep to nine-year-old kids and feel like an obligation to susceptible adults who think they have to see all the blockbusters in a given year.  Do they also feel the need to download all the Top 40 singles onto their iPods?  Do they also have to watch every reality TV show every year?  How about exercising some critical selectivity?  Or is that too much to ask from a modern society?

Truly, this abomination deserves Zero Stars.  However, Gal Gadot is gorgeous and kicked some monster’s ass while saving the day at the end of the movie.  Her presence alone earns a half a star.  “Wonder Woman” opens in June of 2017 — and thankfully is not being directed by Zack Snyder.  It cannot be a tenth as bad as “BvS”.

HALF A STAR Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

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“The Light Between Oceans” Trailer

February 28, 2016 |  by  |  movies, trailers  |  No Comments

And the 2016 Oscar for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director & Best Score goes to……… “The Light Between Oceans”.

POW!!!  I am making this prediction the day before the 2015 Oscars.  Over a year in advance… How d’ya like dem apples?

Derek Cianfrance was at the helm for one of my favorite films of the current decade — the lovely relationship drama, “Blue Valentine” with Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.  Here, he directs again with some of the best talent working today.  Michael Fasssbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz — there aren’t too many films in 2016 who can match that line-up.

The trailer is pitch perfect.  I am desperate to see this film, which opens in September 2016.  It is one of my five most anticipated movies of the year.

PS — Alicia Vikander has been the Hollywood “It Girl” for a while now.  She is amazingly talented and one of the most uniquely beautiful women in the world today.

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Top 5 Gambling Films That Raise the Stakes!

Top 5 Gambling Films That Raise the Stakes!

February 26, 2016 |  by  |  movies, opinion  |  No Comments

A good casino movie can often encompass many of the things that make movies great. You can find action, thrills, hard-boiled crime, heists, and even romance making the umbrella term one of the most popular and reliable genres of entertaining filmmaking. These are our top picks for five of the best films about gambling that you should take a chance on.

Casino Royale

It’s hard not to mention the first film in the reboot of the James Bond franchise (and that also stars Daniel Craig). It takes place in a luxurious casino in Monte Carlo where the rich and powerful play an incredibly high-stakes game of Texas Hold ‘Em poker. Bond hopes to ferret out a fiendish international money man known as Le Chiffre (played by Mads Mikkelson of the “Hannibal” TV series and “Valhalla Rising). “Casino Royale” helped to resuscitate the ailing James Bond franchise, which had fallen on hard times after a few disappointing films with Pierce Brosnan (not “Goldeneye” though, that one was great).

Bob le Flambeur

“Bob le Flambeur” is a 1956 heist and gambling classic by revered french director Jean-Pierre Melville (Le Samourai, Le Cercle Rouge) that was incredibly influential on the future of film through its use of the handheld camera and jump cut, which would later be popularized by the French New Wave of cinema. This French film is a true classic of the noir genre and is a must see for any film buff. It’s also one of the best gambling movies you’ve never seen, according to Indiewire.com. A gambler/ex-con learns about a big score he can make from robbing a local casino, and what ensues is his plot to knock the place over and the thrill of whether or not he can pull it off.

Hard Eight

This one is an often-overlooked crime thriller that’s still definitely worth your time. “Hard Eight” is actually the first feature film by Paul Thomas Anderson (“There Will Be Blood,” “Inherent Vice”) and features very strong early performances by Gwyneth Paltrow, John C. Reilly, and Samuel L. Jackson. The movie is generally considered one of PTA’s weaker films, per Uproxx.com. However, that’s kind of like saying a certain Beatles album is the worst; they’re all pretty good. An elderly gambler played by Philip Baker Hall meets a young John C. Reilly who is struggling to put together enough cash for his mother’s funeral. Reilly becomes Hall’s protege and ultimately falls in love with the complicated Gwyneth Paltrow in a hard-boiled, emotional movie that is a strong indicator of the filmmaker that P.T. Anderson eventually became.

Casino

It almost feels like cheat to put two Scorsese films in here. However, that’s what happens when you’re dealing with one of the greatest directors of all time who just so happened to direct the best gambling movie of all time, according to Gambling.com. “Casino” is a crime and gambling epic that once again brings together Robert de Niro and Joe Pesci with an Academy Award-nominated performance by Sharon Stone. Robert De Niro plays Sam, who’s brought in to run the fictional Tangiers casino for the mob. The movie chronicles Sam’s rise and fall in Las Vegas in one of the most memorable crime films ever put to celluloid.

The Color of Money

This sequel to “The Hustler” is a perfectly great and influential film in its own right and is an often overlooked film in Martin Scorsese’s canon of work. Paul Newman returns in an Oscar-winning performance as “Fast Eddie” Felson mentoring the young Vincent Lauria (Tom Cruise) as they hit the tables again, hustling pool across the country. One fun fact about this movie is that the name of Tom Cruise’s pool cue, “Doom,” went on to inspire the name of the classic first-person shooter video game of the same name.

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“Deadpool” Review

February 19, 2016 |  by  |  movies, reviews  |  No Comments

Jim Carrey is a comedic genius… but not all the time.  He’s created some incredibly funny moments over the past thirty years.  Conversely, he has occasionally come up woefully short.  We can all name the failures… “The Mask”, “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls”, “Grinch”, “Me , Myself & Irene”, etc.   These blunders usually occur when he tries too hard to be funny — when it all seems strained and forced.  “Look at me!”  “NO SERIOUSLY, LOOK AT ME!”  It all works so much better when he dials it back a little — when it feels like a natural stream of comedy consciousness.  I bring him up because “Deadpool” feels like a desperate Jim Carrey on uppers.  It virtually begs us to laugh.  It implores us to get all the inside jokes.  It is so unbelievably proud of itself that it borders on smug, self-satisfaction.  And it is completely unwarranted.

Even the opening credits hint at the tone — preempting any criticism by mocking its own creators and stars.  It screams, “Look how much we aren’t taking ourselves seriously!”  However, the film steps so far over that line, that we must then take seriously how non-serious it is trying to be.  Does that make sense?  No?  Oh well, it is a meta criticism about a meta movie.  None of this has to make any sense.  You just have to pretend that everyone is in on the joke and laugh along so you don’t feel like the only one at the party without a drink.

Ryan Reynolds is the spinning top at the center of “Deadpool”.  His titular character bursts out of the gate at 220kph flinging out jokes on every revolution.  He only slows down a couple of times in order to cram in some origin story mumbo-jumbo.  To be honest, this trillionth superhero movie in the past decade has about as much time for character development as some gonzo porn.  These aren’t the types of movies whose fanboys come for character.  They prefer pop-culture references, one-liner jokes and close-up slow-motion bullets to the brain.

“Deadpool” is exactly what you expect it to be.  If you enjoy and are capable of “turning your brain off” for two hours, this will satiate all of your base desires.  However, if you like your brain and don’t want to turn it off — you better hope that you don’t have a complex one, capable of appreciating wit, originality or intelligence… Cuz there ain’t nun here!  On display in this latest spandex ballet is an enormous amount of sitcom-level jokes, unearned drama, and blood-soaked, slo-mo action.  If you absolutely love “The Big Bang Theory” and John Woo films… then, by all means, seek out this wink-wink, nod-nod, ode to itself movie.  Every day, we are one step closer to “Idiocracy”.

ONE AND A HALF STARS Deadpool Review

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10 Reasons Why... The BAFTAS Suck!

10 Reasons Why… The BAFTAS Suck!

February 15, 2016 |  by  |  movies, opinion, television  |  No Comments

After watching THE BAFTAS last night, these are just some of the reasons why they suck and the entire show needs a revamping. After all, THE BAFTAS try to be THE OSCARS’ little brother across the pond, but feel more like a heroin-addicted 37th cousin, 8 times removed… with a speech impediment.

1. THE SPONSOR

Sponsor names cheapen products. Can you imagine the VERIZON OSCARS? Of course not. Some things should be above sponsorship… Apparently not the EE or Orange BAFTAS.

2. STEPHEN FRY AGAIN

Seriously? I mean… come on! Mix it up even a little. He was a great choice the first time. By the second and third times, he had polished the act and had done well. However, 7 or 8 years in a row??? It all just feels stale and samey. His “high-brow” jokes are falling ever so flat these days. We get it… You can string together multi-syllabic complex sentences, replete with a myriad double-entendres relating to your sexuality. Boring. NEXT!

3. NO LIVE BROADCAST

This is stunning to me. In the age of social media and instant news… the broadcast is delayed a few hours? By the time the show is airing, the entire world knows who won and is already concentrating on the OSCARS. How is this even possible post-1972??? Pathetic BBC choice.

4. TERRIBLE PRODUCTION & DIRECTION

This is a dreadfully produced show. It all feels knocked together on the night before. The transitions (despite being tape delayed) are erratic and awkward. The VT’s are so weak… like they are done by first year film students. The sound is almost minimalistic. The music choices are atrocious and poorly matched with the video. It is so shoddy compared with other major award shows.

5. CRINGEY JOKES

Aside from the tedium of Stephen Fry being grossly overused by the BBC, the presenter jokes are some of the worst. None of the supposedly witty repartee feels natural. It is all cliched and forced. Cringe!

6. PRETENTIOUSNESS IS OUT

All award shows used to be pretentious. We endured it with THE OSCARS because they felt like the pinnacle show and had earned the right to be a little uppity about their show. THE GOLDEN GLOBES always felt like a fun party, avoiding pretense wherever possible. However, in the past few years, all of these types of shows have made a conscious effort to steer clear and skew younger with more fun, light-hearted tones. Not THE BAFTAS. There is still a stick lodged way up the asses of the BFI. Relax guys! Your show isn’t even important enough to be shown live on TV… and you have a sponsor in the title of your name. Don’t take yourself so seriously.

7. TOO ENGLISH

Now, while I concede that all the major shows are too focused on English Language Films… THE BAFTAS take it one step further. They always make sure to have at least a handful of British films or actors, who aren’t getting much award discussion anywhere else in the world, in the major categories. They even slip in a Best British Film category, to make sure they win at least one of the major awards. The acting categories all feature one or two of the “staple English stars”, even if they are in films that have been generally ignored around the world. This brings me to my next point…

8. DAMES HERE, DAMES THERE, DAMES FUCKING EVERYWHERE

Name them! It is easy! Judi Dench. Helen Mirren. Maggie Smith. Julie Walters. Julie Andrews… etc. At least one of them has to be nominated every year. All of them are lauded to the heavens just for showing up. Enough already! We get it. You have 3 or 4 actresses that have been in every British film since the dawn of the industry. Americans do it with Streep too. Here is a suggestion — Just because they are in a film, it doesn’t automatically mean the film is good and the performance is award worthy. Sometimes they are just okay in a decent but forgettable movie… Can that be possible just once?

9. NO SHOWS

For a major award show, it is amazing how often there are no-shows in the major categories. “This person couldn’t make it tonight, so we accept this award on their behalf.” It happens all the time at THE BAFTAS. It is pretty embarrassing. Do you think anyone would ever skip THE OSCARS, unless they had an issue with awards in general? Get your shit together BFI! Offer gift baskets. Spend a little bit more money on the show… which is point number 10…

10. IT FEELS CHEAP

Yes, THE OSCARS are amazingly glamorous. No one expects THE BAFTAS to compete with that. However, you could at least spring for a little more glitz and sparkle. The entire show feels one step above an off-Broadway play premiere. British people are not renowned for showing off their best. It is almost an embarrassment for them to do so. They do the bare minimum here. Red Carpet… check! Ten or twenty celebrities… check! Done! It is quite possibly the least glamorous event in the global film industry. When the show comes to an end, you’re sat there, in front of your TV, with a sandwich in your mouth and an itchy remote-control thumb dying to change the channel. BLAH BLAH BLAH.

THE BAFTAS: The desperate clingy friend who invites himself into the “cool kids gang”, but quietly knows it doesn’t belong.

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“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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