Film

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Head over to RazorFine to check out my list of the Top Ten Super-Hero Movies (Before They Were Cool)

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Digging for Fire

by Cap'n Carrot on August 28, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

digging-for-fire-posterMiddle-age apathy is the major theme of Digging for Fire as a husband (Jake Johnson, who co-wrote the screenplay along with director Joe Swanberg) and wife’s (Rosemarie DeWitt) separate weekend plans while on vacation let each work through the listlessness of their shared existence and eventually find their way back to each other. It’s a story that’s been done several times, sometime much better (like Massy Tadjedin‘s 2010 film Last Night) and more often far worse (any number of middle age brain-dead romcoms).

More archetypes than fully fleshed-out characters, neither Tim nor Lee are all that interesting. Tim is your typical mid-life crisis male wanting to spend time with old friends and recapture lost youth. Lee is worried about the future, her marriage, and loosing her sense of self under the weight of marriage and parenthood. Johnson and DeWitt give the characters a bit of a spark but it’s Tim’s unusual obsession with finding a bone and old revolver buried in the back yard of the home where the family is staying that proves to give the movie something unique to explore, if not something terribly original to say.

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Mistress America

by Cap'n Carrot on August 28, 2015 · 0 comments

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Written and directed by Noah Baumbach (and co-written by the movie’s star Greta Gerwig), Mistress America is an uneven comedy that has a tone and feel more befitting a stage play than even an independent theatrical release. That’s not to say it should be easily dismissed. Despite its issues, when the film gets it right it gets it just right (such as an extended sequence in a yuppie suburban home where the quick-hitting back-and-forth dialogue finally hits on every note). Taken as a whole, Mistress America is neither as good as its brightest moments or as bad as it valleys where the lack of laughs exposes just how thin a story Baumbach is working with.

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justice-league-gods-and-monsters-blu-rayI was ecstatic when I heard Bruce Timm was returning to DC for a new animated feature. One of the creators behind Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited, the animated DCU just hasn’t been the same since his departure. When I heard the premise of the movie, however, I was more skeptical. It turns out I need not have feared that Bruce Timm might be corrupted by the grit of the New 52 that’s turned so much of DC’s comic and video output to shit. Timm certainly delivers a darker and more adult story than expected but it’s still grounded in a profound understanding and love for these characters that is far too often lacking in much of DC’s current output.

Although the word Elseworlds doesn’t appear in its title that’s exactly what Justice League: Gods and Monsters is: a story set in an alternate version of the DCU vastly different from the any we know. The result is as unexpected as it is enjoyable. It may not be classic Timm, but the man certainly hasn’t lost his knack for characters, design, or storytelling.

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Mr. & Mrs. Smith

by Cap'n Carrot on August 26, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

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Originally released in theaters 10 years ago, Mr. & Mrs. Smith stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who, unbeknownst to each other, are rival spies for competing spy organizations. Doug Liman‘s 2005 film has held up pretty well over the past decade. Pitt and Jolie are fun together in a script that allows them to play off each other and, when called for, kick each other’s ass in one hell of a prolonged action scene that leaves their suburb home destroyed.

Most notable for its action set pieces, Simon Kinberg‘s script also has its share of humor (including a Fantasy Island joke that never fails to tickle my fancy no matter how many times I see the movie). It’s not a great film by any standard, but it still works well as a mostly-entertaining action flick (especially the first hour). Released several times on both DVD and Blu-ray, the new version includes pre-released extras and a digital copy of the film but sadly the Blu-ray only includes the theatrical cut of the film as the unrated extended version isn’t available on this release.

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American Ultra

by Cap'n Carrot on August 21, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

american-ultra-posterThe tail end of the summer movie season is pretty much a crap shoot. While I was pleasantly surprised with the under-appreciated The Man from U.N.C.L.E., director Nima Nourizadeh‘s stoner-action comedy is more what I’ve come to expect from this time of year. American Ultra isn’t a bad film, but it’s not all-together a good one either. A hodgepodge of ideas from both better and worse movies, American Ultra is an occasionally enjoyable B-movie mess.

Jesse Eisenberg stars as stoner convenience clerk Mike Howell with a girlfriend (Kristen Stewart) too good for him, friends (most notably John Leguizamo) just as mentally-challenged, and a brain full of secret CIA training which has been locked away for years until the most over-the-top Topher Grace ever captured on film decides to have Howell killed by agents that make the bad guys in Hudson Hawk look like Bond villains.

Activated by the former leader (Connie Britton) of the project, Howell soon finds himself with the ability to instinctively kill in a variety of bizarre ways without ever understanding exactly how, why, or what he’s doing. Dumb, but at least it looks cool on camera.

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The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

by Cap'n Carrot on August 14, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

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Two things are immediately evident from watching Henry Cavill in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. First, there’s no disputing that the man is a bona fide movie star. Despite having issues with some of the projects he’s chosen (such as Zach Snyder‘s horrific re-imagining of Superman), there’s no doubt Cavill has “it.” Second, based on his appearance as con man turned super-spy Napoleon Solo, it’s obvious that he would make a terrific James Bond balancing the swagger and inner-bastard of the character with aplomb. Not since Connery have we seen a character like this on-screen.

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In this sugary-sweet trailer for the latest from writer/director Nancy Meyers (The Holiday, It’s Complicated) Robert De Niro stars as a 70-year-old widower who begins a new life as an intern for a successful younger woman (Anne Hathaway). Rene Russo, Adam DeVine, Wallis Currie-Wood, and Christine Evangelista also star. The Intern opens in theaters on September 25th.

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Insurgent

by Cap'n Carrot on August 12, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

insurgent-blu-rayAs I was rather lukewarm on Divergent, the first movie of this series based on the young adult novels by Veronica Roth, it should come as no surprise that my reaction to its sequel is much the same. Insurgent continues the adventures of Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) on the run in a dystopian future broken into strict factions which neither properly fits into. Although the movie has a nice message about individuality, the ponderous path it takes to get there leaves something to be desired.

Despite a strong performance by Woodley as a character far more heroic in her actions and convictions than Katniss Everdeen, time has not made the premise of the series any easier to swallow. Not making that job easier this time around is the sequel’s plot which involves a magic Pandora’s box which only a true divergent may open and which Jeanine (Kate Winslet) believes she can use to crush the outsiders once and for all.

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Sneakers

by Cap'n Carrot on August 10, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

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Some movies age more gracefully than others. Even 20 years later Sneakers continues to entertain despite how much of the plot revolves around technology of the time. Robert Redford leads an unusual team of experts blackmailed by who they believe to be the NSA into stealing a Russian mathmatician’s little black box which is the key to decrypting all known codes.

Along with a former CIA agent (Sidney Poitier), a blind computer expert (David Strathairn), a conspiracy nut (Dan Aykroyd), a hotshot kid (River Phoenix), and his ex-girlfriend (Mary McDonnell), Martin Biship (Redford) will attempt to stay one-step ahead of both government agents and shadowy figures (Timothy Busfield, Eddie Jones) while trying to capture the box and trade it for their freedom.

With the stellar cast (which also includes supporting roles by Ben Kingsley and Stephen Tobolowsky), Sneakers provides a humor-packed thriller complete with conspiracies, blind-man stunt driving, and the best use of Scrabble ever seen on film.

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