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Showing posts from April, 2013

Review - The Place Beyond the Pines

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The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), R, 140 minutes - Back in 2010, Derek Cianfrance, who had previously directed television documentaries broke through with the critically acclaimed film Blue Valentine.  Now he is back with his latest project: The Place Beyond the Pines, which just so happens to be generating its own fair share of acclaim.

I first saw the trailer for Pines a couple of months ago and was instantly interested.  I was curious to see what came next from Cianfrance, especially considering the cast he was working with: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Rose Byrne, Bruce Greenwood.  All have been in films that I've really enjoyed.  As I learned more about the film, I found out that it is set in Schenectady, New York.  A good friend of mine grew up in Schenectady and I had the chance to visit there when I went to his wedding a few years back.  That's a fairly small tie to a place I know, but it still added to my interest in this film.

Pines begins …

Trailer Talk - Thor: The Dark World (2013)

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I'm not sure if I've outright stated it here on my blog, but Thor may very well be my favorite of the Marvel Studios films thus far, and before you ask, yes, that's including last summer's The Avengers.  So it shouldn't be any surprise that I'm super stoked for this November's Thor: The Dark World, which will be the second installment to Marvel's Phase 2 of their cinematic universe (behind Iron Man 3, which is now just a week and a half away).
***EDIT - I was looking at my Countdown to the Avengers Posts this morning and realized that I had said that I would probably rank Thor at number two or maybe even number three if I were to rank all of the Marvel releases to date.  I obviously got a little caught up in my excitement for Thor: The Dark World when I originally wrote this post.  Either way, I very much enjoyed the first installment of Thor.***

The Dark World appears to be at least loosely based on part of Walt Simonson's epic run on Thor in the m…

Trailer Talk - The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

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It won't come out until November 22, but earlier this week we got our first look at The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the second film in the franchise based on the best selling trilogy of novels by Suzanne Collins.

It has been a couple of years since I read the books, but if memory serves correctly, this initial teaser seems to follow the book as closely as the first film did.  This is great news.  That fact along with an excellent cast were the reasons behind The Hunger Games being such a strong adaptation in the first place.  The surviving cast returns along with the addition of a second Oscar winner in Philip Seymour Hoffman.  The folks behind The Hunger Games films must love the fact that they locked Jennifer Lawrence in when they did.  She has since gone on to win an Oscar herself (Best Actress just a couple of months ago).  I'm sure her rate of compensation will change now that she's got a much larger profile, but the fact that their quadrilogy of films is being driv…

Trailer Talk - The Wolverine (2013)

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At one point not so long ago, I had absolutely no desire to see a sequel to 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  In hindsight, it probably wasn't as bad as I originally thought, however that doesn't forgive the blatant disregard that film showed for one of my favorite comic book characters (Deadpool/Wade Wilson).

When The Wolverine (2013) was originally announced, it was going to be directed by Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, Black Swan among others).  This caught my eye and not only intrigued me, but instantly swayed me to the side of optimism.  Unfortunately due to scheduling issues, Aronofsky left the film.  James Mangold (Girl, Interrupted, Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma) then took his place at the helm of the film that was said to be based on the classic Chris Claremont/Frank Miller comic book arc from 1982.  That story is widely regarded as one of the best Wolverine stories to see print.  That story being the basis for this film intrigued me even mor…

Rental Review - The Words

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The Words (2012), PG-13, 102 minutes - Towards the end of last summer and into the beginning of fall two trailers for films starring Bradley Cooper started making the rounds.  Both looked to have intriguing plots and excellent casts.  The first to catch the eye of my fiance and I was this film, The Words, in which Bradley Cooper plays a writer tackling some ethical problems.  The second turned out to be Silver Linings Playbook (you can see my review here), and as we all know that didn't turn out too badly for Mr. Cooper.

I've been sitting here writing and re-writing this review for almost two hours now and am still having a hard time not spoiling the heck out of the film.  There's no crazy plot twist but it is presented in a way that makes it difficult to discuss without giving away key story points.  So I'm ditching the long, drawn out overview of the film that I had previously and I'm going to keep it short and sweet and hope that in doing so, I'm able to av…

Review - Trance

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Trance (2013), R, 101 minutes - Trance is the new heist flick/psychological thriller from director Danny Boyle, starring an uncharacteristically dark James McAvoy.

McAvoy stars as Simon, an art auctioneer who gets mixed up with an unsavory group of thieves when they attempt to rob the auction house that he works for.  After trying to play hero and getting a shotgun butt to the head courtesy of head thief Franck (Vincent Cassel) he is left in a semi-amnesia-tic state (he knows who he is and what happened, but he doesn't remember how the events occurred).  He seeks the help of hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) to try and regain his memory so he can attempt to recover the painting.

The beauty of Trance is that its seemingly straightforward plot unfolds into a more and more complex narrative thanks to the inclusion of Simon's sessions with Elizabeth.  We are shown a number of scenarios that did/did not/could have happened, all as a result of his hypnotherapy.  This is fai…

Rental Review - Looper

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Looper (2012), R, 119 minutes - I've been hearing good things about Looper since it was released last September.  Even before that, the trailer caught the eye of both myself and my fiance.  Unfortunately, we missed it in theaters, but everything about this film (from the cast and director to the story) screamed that it was a film that I would enjoy and I knew that I wanted to add it to my collection.  Thanks to a number of factors, that didn't happen until early last month when my fiance gave it to me for my birthday.  Having finally had the opportunity to watch this sci-fi/timey wimey film from Rian Johnson (who also directed Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 2005's Brick), I can easily say that it was worth the wait.

Looper is set in the year 2044.  Time travel has yet to be invented, but in the not-too-distant future it will have been.  By the year 2074 time travel has been outlawed.  In that future, the mob has worked out a system in which they send people they need to erase bac…

Rental Review - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011), PG-13, 124 minutes - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a movie that my fiance and I have had been meaning to check out via NetFlix for quite a while.  We've actually had it here at the house for almost a month, we just hadn't been in what we thought the proper mood was for a two hour long movie about the elderly staying at a hotel in India.  Last night we finally felt like we were ready to give it a shot and I kind of wish we hadn't waited so long.

This movie follows seven people from England all at varying stages of later life.  For differing and independent reasons they all decide to travel to India to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful.  Evelyn (Judi Dench) is a widow who is trying to prove to her son that she doesn't need someone to constantly look after her.  Graham (Tom Wilkinson) is a retired lawyer returning to the country in which he grew up, searching for the love of his life.  Douglas (Bill Ni…

Review - Jurassic Park 3D

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Jurassic Park (1993), PG-13, 127 minutes - I am having a really hard time believing that it has been twenty years since Jurassic Park first hit theaters.  I remember reading the book.  I remember hearing the news that it was going to be made into a movie.  I remember freaking out because I was the kid with books upon books about dinosaurs.  I also remember having to wait to see it until after it got my parents' approval.  Much to my relief, they decided that it wasn't too scary or violent for their squirt of a fourteen year old son.  What I can't remember is whether or not I actually experienced Jurassic Park on the big screen the first time I saw it.  I'm pretty sure that I saw it as part of a double feature at a drive in after the fact, but I want to say that my first viewing was at home thanks to the good old VCR.

Now I'm not real big on 3D films.  In general, they tend to be dark and messing with the glasses is kind of a pain.  I'm even less of a fan of po…

Trailer Talk - Elysium (2013)

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Wow.  This first trailer for Elysium looks amazing.  I'm not really sure what else to say.  I've been eagerly anticipating the next Neill Blomkamp project since walking out of the theater after seeing District 9 a few years ago.  Before today, we've only seen a couple of production stills.  Now we've got a full fledged trailer for his latest writing/directing effort and it completely justifies my placing it sight unseen at number three on my Most Anticipated Films of 2013 list.

Set in the year 2159, Elysium is the virtual utopia that is home to the wealthy.  As the trailer says the rest of us live on Earth, which is a planet in ruin.  We are not told how or why Earth is the shell of its former self that is, but it has basically become a slum much like District 9 in Blomkamp's last outing.  Matt Damon is Max, and appears to be the lead of some sort of rebellion.  Elysium looks to be very similar to District 9 in that it melds sci-fi with a socio-political story li…

Review - G.I. Joe: Retaliation

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G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013), PG-13, 110 minutes - After a delay of almost one full year, G.I. Joe: Retaliation hit theaters this past weekend.  The official reason for the delay was that they were going to convert it to 3D.  Then, after the delay was announced, there was speculation that it might be re-shot to capitalize on Channing Tatum's meteoric rise over the previous year.  Tatum was reprising his role as Duke from 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and was rumored to have been killed off after a short stint in Retaliation.  The official reason proved to be true, and although I did not see Retaliation in 3D, I did find it to be a better film than its predecessor.

Retaliation opens up with a quick overview of the players involved in the form of a sort of mission brief.  It is a nice touch because it brings everyone up to speed without making them sit through the two hours worth of Rise of Cobra, which as you can gather from my original review posted below, really isn'…