Monday, February 8, 2010

Up In the Air

As you read this do me a favor, hit this big BUTTON and listen to this in a new tab as you read this joint.
The first time I saw the trailer for this film it gave me goosebumps.  The dialogue that they were willing to give up and the shots paired to it had me wondering what this film had left. Not only did it have some seasoned greats, Mr. Clooney, Danny McBride and the hot-cross buns of Vera Farmiga, but Jason Reitman also directed Juno and Thank You for Smoking.  Thank You for Smoking is a great film in itself so as I heard more and more hype over Up in the Air I figured it was well placed.  Well to be honest, the only reason that I find all this hype over Up in the Air and we didn't hear any nominations for Smoking is the Cloone-miester.  In fact I will compare films here, throw them up head to head, Smoking was the better more original film.
Both films have great, witty scripts, with perfectly timed cuts and pacing and great front men.  Air however lacked the story that I thought it's predecessor contained.
It's greatest flaw was its story arch, they paint these great relationships between all of the main players, but they fail to bring it together in good fashion by the end.  After the first hour and a half your wondering when things are going to cease to be so hunky-doree.  You can feel it under your skin and then wham-bam thank-you ma'am the climax happens and the film ends.  There's no build up and no last supper moments leaving one feeling like they just went on a date with great food, conversation and drinks, but the the night cap resulted in 12 seconds of sweaty motions between the sheets leaving only one person happy with the finish.
As much beef as I had with this lacking story arch I have to say the shots were great and so were the cuts between them.  The ariel cinematography even made parts of the US such as Nebraska (super flat and smells like cat food) look intriguing and beautiful.  On top of the visual stimulation, this film had a whomping soundtrack.  Actually whomping doesn't do it a justice, just listen to it, NOW!
I will confess I did not watch this in the theatre but was able to watch an early release of a friends copy they received through SAG *coughs and polishes nails on shirt collar*.  Would I pay for the theatre though, yes, I do support this film and what it has to offer.  Do I think it deserves the Oscar, nah probably not, there are better films (that doesn't mean AVATAR, back off jackals).  Ok it's late, and this blogger needs to get to bed before the sun comes up, see you cool cats on the other-side.

Bananas-meter: 8.3/10 Bananas

Oh and Sam Elliot is in this film, and yes, the dude does abide.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Yeah yeah, I know this isn't a recent theatrical release, in fact this film is from 2006 so its not even new.  However, as much as I couldn't let that rotting pile of celluloid Smokin' Aces 2 get away with being watched, I can't let you folks live your lives without at-least checking out this film, Cashback.
Sometimes you throw on a movie you have never seen, for reasons no greater than it just looks good from the cover.  This films face had some of those goofy vines on it surrounding text talking about some silly festival it won and a half naked woman, copy my attention.
Since the film was on Netflix it was really a no lose situation here: 
A.) It's not bad and I watch it without having to spend a dime.  
B.) I hate it and turn it off and play video-games.
C.) I fall asleep.
What I hadn't counted on was D.) I love the film, and it does that thing I think all great films do, change your life in the just the tiniest way.
Within the first 5 minutes of this movie I knew something great was about to be dished out, and I was hungry.  This film is like eating KFC on the worlds most exquisite china dinner set. The film has rough moments and overtones, but these are all overshadowed by a base of elegance.  Everything about this film comes off smooth, the acting, the plot, the shots and the editing.  Even the soundtrack is a solid piece of work.
The other day I was talking with a close friend of mine about connecting with characters in films and finding myself at a loss, I really couldn't find a character where I felt myself fully wrapped up in.  That was before I heard Ben Willis (Sean Biggerstaff) talk about things he loves.  I can dig where this guy is coming from both in the way he lives his life and the things he finds within his reality.  Now I am not saying I am this guy, thats right all you twihards stay back, just because you think you're Bella doesn't mean you are, it means you're crazzzzzzzzzzzy.  All I mean by this is I really felt where this dude (yes he is just a written character) was coming from, and it was cool.
This is also beautifully shot, did I mention that?  Yes, well thats fine, they did a great job of making this film look grim and dull when it needed to and brought it up to fantasy level when it was ready.  The cuts and editing were spot on too, perfect timing to leave you just the right amount of time to absorb what was taking place and then make moves onto the next moment.
The acting all around was superb and I think the casting director deserves a high-five.  The actors know their roles and seems to stick to their guns throughout the film, not stepping out of line like some people.  Being a "romantic comedy" (although I disagree with this genre pick) it is often easy to fill films with cheese lines, cheese moments and cheese actors *Enter Bullock as her blackberry gets taken by an eagle*.  Cashback keeps the chedda to itself and keeps it real throughout.  All this keeping it real has a good deal to do with great direction by Sean Ellis, the guy is killin' it.  Ellis knew what he wanted, you can tell, and he got it.  A fun fact!!!! Cashback is a remake of a short film he made back in 2004.  Ah the glory of being able to go back and visit an old friend and make a beautiful relationship bloom later on.
Anywho lets close this shop up, because this boy-oh needs to get some time outside today.   Do whatever you can to see this film in my opinion.  It's on Netflix instant watch so if you have your Netflix set up I suggest you go on it sometime this weekend and enjoy yourself for two hours.  I started watching this film with an good day ahead of me, and ended it knowing I would have a great day.  NOW THATS WHAT I CALL CINEMA!  Lator gaters.

Banana-meter: 9.4/10 Bananas*

*All rights and use of the title: Bananas, Johnny Bananas, Johnny B, and J-Bananas are in affiliation and protected by the Terrence S. Foundation and to not be copied or used in any sort of unlawful or illegal manner.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins Ball

Some people smoke rocks, others prefer gorging on copious amounts of bacon.  Me, I like silly cinema.  This my friends is not just a goof ball film, it is a despicable and ruthless piece of HD (Hateful Definition) junk, and I am here to put it out of its misery, and I tend to oblige it.
Smokin' Aces was not a great film, but it was a  fun film.  It knew what it was doing and used an interesting stable of actors in some strange roles: ChrisPy is this dude, Miss Keys as a hooker/lesbian/assassin, and Jeremy Piven as a high strung, whacked out, ass (oh wait, last one was a bad example).
Thanks to the first (Smokin Aces) and my affinity for fun movies and their sequels (Crank 2, Duh).  I figured Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins Ball would be fun too.


I won't go into much but instead just hit the bad poi-err bullet poin... Ok I meant bad points.  
The story tried to be cool and packed with plot twists, but just came off predictable and boring, much like that economics teacher that tried to make a boring subject cool and just tanked miserably.  Sorry Professor PJ Pesce, I'm dropping this class, on the account that you're corny.
The acting was pretty much all around awful.  A few of the repeat offenders return and hold up their end of the bargain, but the new crop, yuck.  Clayne Crawford as Agent Baker has an acting career waiting for him, in the WWE, tossing lines with this guy.  Tom Berenger why?  I can't comprehend why you would do this film, but I guess you have to pay your bookie sometime eh.  (Sorry spent the last week in Canada).  As for our silver-screen harlots, spend some more time in the bull-pen(TELEVISION), then do a Maxim cover, and then head up to the majors.
Even the cinematography in this puppy was sick, (not the cool, surfer style sick, but the dying, painful kind).  There were a few brief moments that I was pulled in but for the most part this film looked like it was soap opera'd the hell out.  I have seen better lighting and depth-of-field in most sham-wow commercials.
Ok, so its time to say something nice.  The soundtrack for this film was actually pretty rocking.  They chose some great songs and put them in the right places, I would definitely look it up and if you don't have some of these tunes try them out.
Do not buy/rent/download/steal this film.  It's not worth it kids, take this from a guy who has spent many hours enduring bad cinema (SOLARBABIES), this is one of the worst.  Save yourself some time and brain cells and play it safe with this baby.  However I don't want to end on a negative note so on the other side of the spectrum I suggest everyone check out World's Greatest Dad, it's a little off but in a good way and is worth netflixxxing, or however you kooky kids watch movie films these days.

Banana-meter:  0.8/10 Bananas

P.S. I know this wasn't a theatrical release film, but it's one that I couldn't let slip away without giving it a piece of my mind.  Lo siento.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Book Of Eli

This is my first post-avatar film.  Is it even worth it to see movies that James Cameron hasn't worked on?  Yes.  Was Book of Eli worth it?  Newp.  In fact if you live anywhere else outside of fairy-tale lands where films are only 6 bones to go see, then I wouldn't suggest dropping the cheddar to see this cheese.
The plot was kind of like most high school relationships, you're content and somewhat comfortable thanks to a slow and steady pace until for some reason the end is near and you make some rash decisions on prom night that leave at-least you (in this case its a room full of theatre goers) quite confused.
Although the cinematography was great at points, you can kill yourself softly with stylization.  The CGI clouds moving overhead and the slow-mo cuts tend to get a bit heavy after the first 20 minutes, leading me to find my slushy more interesting then what was happening on the screen.  After getting to the ending the stylization made more sense, but I think that it was quite of a stretch.  If you are going to use your shots to help hint at what is really going on, you need more than what this film hands out.
The sound design was pretty solid, they did an excellent job at hitting the beats, which to me helps immensely in films that lack tension in their shooting style.  Earbuds off to you maestro of the soundboard.
As for the script, this film really lacked dialogue, as most post apocalyptic films normally do, which is fine.  This leaves much more room for the actors to make their own decisions and act outside the bun(sorry couldn't help myself, oh heres something cute and Taco Bell related too).  Denzel does a generally good job at being the soft-spoken savior and Mila Kunis does a great job of looking attractive.  I have to say this here, it's really hard to break from earlier characters, just ask Keanu, and as for Mila she still has a ways to go before she breaks away from "Jackie."  However Gary Oldman does yet another stellar job, tricking the audience into liking and then disliking his character several times, talk about a flop.
I would love to tell you about the ending, but I refuse to be that guy; no matter how badly I want to be.  Oh and the "book," don't even get me started on what book everyone wants to possess, its not "Clifford the Big Red Dog," but it might as well be.
Overall it was worth it for a Sunday movie outing with a couple of my buds.  Also going to this movie on Sunday made up for me not going to church, if you see it you will understand, remember I am not being that guy.  If its cheap/free/rentable then I would think of checking it out, it has some good spots, but not enough to spend more than the price of a slushy on.  By the way slushys are 6.50 at the theater and much cheaper at 7-11, so stop reading and get to 7-11!

Banana-meter:  7.3/10 Bananas

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


James Cameron you crazy SOB, you have done it again! It's number two in the world. Go see it in 3-D. Yes it is amazing looking and yes it will remind you of Pocahontas and Fern Gully. Oh and yes blue-cat people do fight helicopters while riding sauropods(pterodactyls). I would go more into this but Zach has put in the man hours and research, and has basically Bradshawed the hell out of this film so far. So don't take my word for it, take a wolfs.

Bananas-meter: 1.2 billion/10 bananas

P.S. Michelle Rodriguez dies in this movie! * applause*

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Inglorious Basterds/My Oscar Nominee

Yes Inglorious Basterds came out this summer. Yes I am behind on this one. Yes it is such a good film that I think it still deserves a review. No its likelihood as a great film is not the only reason that I am revisiting this gem.
Basterds came out on DVD today and as my roommate loves having great cinema pancaked into tiny laser readable discs we now own it, thus giving me a chance to confirm something. Usually when I watch a film I try to look at everything, from the cinematography to the directing, even down to the sound design. However awhile back I said I wanted to mix things up, and I think its time I do that (yes that time is at 2:30AM on a Wednesday, WHAT?).

Christoph Waltz deserves the Oscar for best supporting role.

Who? The guy who plays Colonel Landa "the Jew Hunter" in Basterds. I dare you to watch this film and not be amazed by this man. Now watching Christian Bale act out an American accent is one thing(He hales from Wales), but the Waltz acts out 3 different languages and more than one accent, top that. Normally when I watch a foreign language film, which I think for the most part Inglorious can be described as, I just read the captions and I am over it. This guy, oh this dude-and-a-half, nah he makes me actually watch and listen, and this suckers in GERMAN & FRENCH. He is able to make me believe the delivery even when I don't speak a lick of the language he is belting. I caught myself smiling during the first scene, which is perhaps one of the tensest moments of the film, and here I am with the dumbest smile on my face, a grin that only occurs when yours truly is amazed. This character moves me, and its not the words coming out of his mouth, its the way he spits it.
Well Mr. Waltz, my hat comes off to you, this was indeed one of the best performances I have ever seen on the silver screen. In fact his acting is so fun to watch it is a shame that one has to read the captions, I am hoping someone out there with a better grasp of French and German will watch this and comment on my blog about how believable he is in the native tongues, I guarantee he is amazing, Champs Stamp of Approval.
Well it's time for this little blogger to say auf wiedersehen (see I'm learning Ma). Peace out cub scouts.

Oh and this film is great: awesome shots, beautiful dialogue, amazing directing and the sound is Tarantino to a T(HA!).

Banana-meter: 9.8/10 Bananas.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Beginning

Yeah so I have been doing a pretty bad job at blogging. I know I know, a 'pretty bad job' is an understatement. Yes lots of movies have come out, and just because I haven't been blogging, does not mean I have been avoiding the silver screen, in fact I have seen several films during my hiatus. Now your probably wondering why "the incident" of my long term step away from blogging. Well its quite the mix drink of excuses: 1 part laziness, 2 spoonfuls of distractions poured over an ice cold job of PA work, shake and pour.

No I am not writing this as a resignation speech, I left that in my other pants and they went through the wash, so that's out. This is also not a comeback spiel, those are over-rated and I am pretty sure Brett Favre ate all of those up this year. Nah folks, this is just me letting everyone know that I am still breathing, and yes still sipping down red ICEEs while letting my mind melt into the big screen.
Ok enough of the sappy stuff, back to business. The other night as I waited freezing on a street corner in my beloved new home of New York City, it finally hit me that winter was fast approaching from the west, on cold fronts filled with the white stuff. With the arrival of snow soon, my oldest friend returns, skiing, and there is no better way to prepare for ski season than by watching some excellent ski/snowboard films.
I owe a lot to the ski film industry, the first time I ever threw in Match Stick Productions: High Society was the budding of the my need to put images on celluloid. The first films I ever made were ski films, the first time I ever had an audience was a ski film. So it's time to pay some respect to my beginnings as I come off my first Hollywood film.
Most people know about Warren Miller, the pioneer of the snow sports film, but I got started with MSP, and new school skiing. So that is why I suggest you all to check out "Refresh" from Level 1.
Refresh starts at the beginning of the Freestyle/newschool movement, the one that got me moving. It helps to show how much the sport has progressed, and how far we have come with the ways it is shot. Also, the soundtrack is nasty and the tricks are pretty rad too.
Snow snow snow, its sooooooo dope.