What Makes Your Big Head So Hard?, by David Bax

31 Jul

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In a fantastic scene early in Tate Taylor’s Get On Up, James Brown (Chadwick Boseman) and his band are on a plane in Vietnam in 1968, on their way to entertain troops, and they are taking heavy fire. While the other musicians grip onto whatever they can and pray for their lives, Brown leans casually into the cockpit, giving orders to the pilots and letting them know that nothing can kill him. Even as explosions buffet the aircraft from side to side and one of the engines catches fire, Brown swaggers around the fuselage as if his own obdurate confidence is all it takes to keep him in control. And it works. Taylor’s film operates according to the same principle. Get On Up maintains a spirited, headlong momentum that mostly obliterates its own shortcomings.

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Empathy of Man, by Josh Long

31 Jul

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James Franco has become something of a Hollywood enigma in recent years. He’s made his way from a Freaks and Geeks stoner to an artist/author/musician/screenwriter/producer/director – what else is left? For those of us who know him primarily as an actor, it has been very interesting to look into his other endeavors, especially those within the film world. The $64,000 question, perhaps, is whether he’s a “jack of all trades, master of none.” Is he an astute polymath, or a celebrity whose status as such has given him a chance to play across various disciplines? While his new film Child of God may not answer these questions, it does give us a chance to cast a critical eye over his instincts and decisions now that he’s behind the camera.

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Exoskeleton, by Aaron Pinkston

31 Jul

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Irene Lorenzi (Margherita Buy) is a 40-something, independent woman whose life is mostly tied up in her job as a secret patron of 5-star hotels across Europe. Throughout A Five Star Life, whenever Irene visits a new hotel, the film lets us in on the little secrets of these luxurious hot spots, mostly small details that would go unnoticed by most of us, but make the difference. This device works — not only do these locations provide for a Lifestyles-of-the-Rich-and-Famous-type satisfaction, but there is always something to seeing a successful character in their working environment. Unfortunately, however, that is the extent of the film’s appeal. Like the hotels, the film is beautiful and carries a nice facade, but is ultimately too antiseptic to be distinguishable.

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Stay Addicted and Endure, by Scott Nye

30 Jul

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On Earth in 1988, a young Peter Quill watches his mother die. Distraught, he runs outside and is immediately abducted by aliens. Not a bad start to a movie, all things considered. Twenty-odd years later, Peter (Chris Pratt) has grown into a space outlaw, aged but not yet grown up, closely attached to the few objects of his youth he still has – in particular, a mix tape his mother gave him, full of their favorite songs from the 1960s-70s. He is our hero. Marvel’s James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy is sci-fi/fantasy, all right, but fantasy for an older generation still clinging to the objects of their youth. By arresting the progress of culture in its tracks, Peter not only remains the definitive authority on all that is “hip,” but actually, literally uses his nostalgia to help save the day and win the girl.

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Home Video Hovel: The Amazing Catfish, by Craig Schroeder

29 Jul

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So far, it’s been a rough year for women at the box-office. Of the current ten highest grossing films of 2014, only three pass the Bechdel Test (the three being Transformers: Age of Extinction–which, as a franchise, doesn’t treat women so well–Maleficent and The Lego Moviewhich passes, but just barely). But there may be some relief in the form of writer/director Claudia Saint-Luce’s The Amazing Catfish, a small picture from 2013 set to get a larger DVD release from Strand Releasing Home Entertainment. The Amazing Catfish, a semi-autobiographical account of Saint-Luce’s life, is a poignant story of sickness, family and human connection.

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Home Video Hovel: At War with the Army, by David Bax

29 Jul

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Hal Walker’s At War with the Army was the first film to star Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis as a comedic duo in the lead roles. It’s ostensibly an adaptation of James B. Allardice’s play but, in effect, the text is really just the canvas onto which Martin and Lewis splattered themselves, like a child drawing pictures in crayon on a novel.

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EPISODE 384: NON-SUPERHERO COMIC BOOK MOVIES

28 Jul

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In this episode, Tyler and David discuss non-superhero comic book movies.

The Auteurcast: Life of Brian

26 Jul

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In this episode, Rudie and West discuss Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

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Sequelcast: The Animatrix

24 Jul

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In this episode, Mat and Thrasher discuss The Animatrix.

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An Action Odyssey, by Tyler Smith

24 Jul

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There is a scene in Jaws in which Quint is perplexed. He’s hooked the shark and thinks he has it figured out, but it is starting to behave unpredictably. Quint pauses for a moment and says, “I don’t know if he’s very smart or very dumb.”  It’s a problem to which I can totally relate. As I watched Luc Besson’s Lucy, I found myself bouncing back and forth, never quite able to determine if the film is genuinely intelligent, but with some simplistic ideas, or just plain dumb, with the occasional moments of inspiration.

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