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Trailers for October 4, 2013

GRAVITY



I’m really looking forward to this movie. I think it could be really scary. Which is weird, because I didn’t think Open Water was anything but boring, and this is essentially the same setup: two people. Lost. Featureless landscape. Running out of something (in this case air, in Open Water, it was the energy to keep swimming). So why is it more interesting? Well space, obviously, is much prettier and deadlier than the ocean. Also, with the things crashing into other things, it looks like there’s more action – like the characters have something to do besides float around and talk about how screwed they are. But I guess we’ll see if they managed two whole hours of interesting.

RUNNER RUNNER



Okay, if this guy’s too poor to pay his tuition, where does he get the money to fly over and confront the online poker site owner? Also, if he’s so smart, why doesn’t he have a scholarship? And why doesn’t he realize online gambling is a dumb way to get tuition money? And why can’t he pull his head out of his ass for long enough to think that maybe confronting an international criminal could be dangerous? I don’t think this guy is very smart at all. I think he’s just smart enough to convince himself he’s an invincible genius, which of course leads to nothing but trouble. Also, they stole that crocodile scene from Romancing the Stone. A good showing, Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake, but I’m not interested.

PARKLAND



Americans are obsessed with the Kennedy assassination. I can’t even count how many books and movies I’ve read/seen pushing some sort of insane conspiracy involving everything from the CIA to aliens. It’s refreshing to see a movie that’s NOT trying to push a conspiracy theory but just trying to illuminate the little-known people on the periphery of the event who would have been affected just as much as the big players. Like Zac Efron the baby-faced doctor trying to put a man’s blown-off head back together while the entire world looks over his shoulder. I’d watch it.

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Rush Review

poster from the Imagine Entertainment film Rush

I keep saying I don’t care about cars, but Top Gear is one of my favorite shows and I was really looking forward to Rush. So on some level I must care about cars, right? Nope. I watch Top Gear because it’s funny and I’m interested in Rush because it’s about the kind of people who risk their lives for championship points, not about the cars they drive.


In the dangerous days of 1970s Formula 1 racing, heated rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda battle for the title of world champion.

Because Rush is a clash of personalities, there’s not as much actual race car driving as you might expect from a race car movie. Instead, Ron Howard takes you inside the culture of 1970s Formula 1 – to the point where it even looks like it was shot in the 70s. It’s utterly engrossing, even for people who don’t care about cars or racing.

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Trailer Reviews for September 27, 2013

RUSH



I was raised by Formula 1 fans, so I know my Michael Schumachers from my Fernando Alonsos. However, until I saw the trailer for this movie, I’d never heard of Niki Lauda or James Hunt, probably because their rivalry played out back in the 70s, which was pretty much ancient history as far as I was concerned, even when I was watching races with my parents on a fairly regular basis. Because I don’t know the story, I’m that much more excited for the movie. Why? Because I have no idea how it plays out. Who wins? Who loses? Does anyone die? The trailer doesn’t give it away either, so seeing this film on Friday should be pretty exciting!

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2



I really liked the first Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. It was just so completely bonkers. And it has a great title – no chance of getting a lot of extraneous results searching for THAT monster on Google! I’m sad that I’m going to miss the sequel. The trailer actually made me laugh! Shrimpanzees! Mosqui-toast! A leek in the boat! Ah ha ha ha ha ha! ‘Course, it’s only funny if you know what a leek is, so that’s kind of a parent joke. I had hoped I could fit it into my schedule next week, but next week is Gravity and after that Captain Phillips is coming… so I don’t know. This may be something I’ll have to catch on DVD.

AT ANY PRICE



The blurb for this movie starts off with ‘In the competitive world of modern…’ which makes you think it’s going to be a sports movie, but then it goes ‘agriculture’ and you go: ‘what?’ And then they switch from farming to race car driving anyway, because I guess even the movie realizes that farming is too boring to support a whole movie (though I would point to MacLeod’s Daughters to disprove that theory). A couple of weird things though: what did they do that could ruin them and why are the wind turbines the only things that make this movie look like it’s set later than the 90s?

BAGGAGE CLAIM



I feel like it’s been ages since a romantic comedy has come near my theater. We’ve been so overloaded with big budget super movies and 3D animation and gut wrenching drama that I could really use a nice relaxing romantic comedy. The premise is a little thin (but they always are with rom coms) and it’s not very original (similar thing to The Ex-List and What’s Your Number?) and it’s not obvious from the trailer who her soul mate is supposed to be (which makes me a little nervous). But it looks like it fits together well and (this is the important part) is looks FUNNY. “Nobody move! I have no life, which gives me all day to ruin yours!” Priceless! But what are the odds we’ll actually get this in my theater?

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Trailer Reviews for September 20, 2013

BATTLE OF THE YEAR



At first I was watching this trailer thinking: didn’t they make this movie already? Wasn’t it the last Step Up sequel? And then it morphed into the cheer boot camp from Bring it On, but with acrobatic dancing, and I thought: okay, that’s something at least. And then the punchable kid from the Red Dawn remake came on screen and I thought: NOPE. Not even if you paid me.

PRISONERS



Wow, this seems like such a deadly serious movie… until Jake Gyllenhaal shows up with his shirt buttoned dorkily all the way to his neck and announces his name is Detective Loki. ‘Hi guys! Detective Norse God of Mischief here to save the day!’ In all seriousness, though, it’s an excellent trailer. It sets up the drama well but it doesn’t give away the whole thing. I feel like I need to see the movie because I want to know – did Paul Dano take the girls? Where are they? Are they alive? How far is Hugh Jackman going to go?

ADORE



This was me reading the blurb for this movie: “A pair of childhood friends and neighbors fall for each others’s sons….Oh gross! Say it isn’t so!” I was marginally comforted to watch the trailer and find that the sons are in their 20s, but still, I don’t think I’ll go. Apart from the ick factor, it looks kind of boring.

COPPERHEAD



I like war movies and period dramas but this one looks kind of boring too. Not the subject matter. That’s interesting. People fighting with their friends and family over whether they should be fighting against their friends and family. But everyone in the movie seems to be moving around at half speed and talking like they don’t really care what they’re saying. That’s boring.

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DVDs for September 3, 2013

now you see me

Now You See Me

If you (like me) really enjoyed the stage magic-based movies The Illusionist and The Prestige and are looking for another movie that will wow you the same way, you should know that this movie is trying to be what you want, but isn’t. It features a group of stage magicians who perform bank heists as part of their act and distribute money to the audiences while outwitting the cops. The big reveal just isn’t as believable or original as it needs to be to sustain the ‘wow’ factor after the film is over. Good only for a throwaway movie night.

Buy Now You See Me on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

empire state

Empire State

There’s a really terrific spy novel by Henry Porter called Empire State. Sadly, this is not an adaptation of that novel. Instead, it’s yet another armored car/inside job robbery film where we’re supposed to believe that because the ‘system’ has wronged someone, they’re entitled to steal millions of dollars from it (otherwise known as the new American Dream). Cliched premise paired with uninspred execution leaves you with a film that you’d just as well not watch, even if it does star Liam Hemsworth and the Rock.

Buy Empire State on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

revolution

Revolution

I wanted to mention this show on here, but not because it’s good. Because it’s TERRIBLE and I hated it. I only watched one episode, but here are the impressions I came away with. 1) It’s supposed to be a post-apocalyptic show taking place 15 years after all the electricity mysteriously went away, yet everyone is clean, nicely clothed, and smooth. 2) The main character, a teenage girl whose mission is to rescue her brother from organized bandits and find out what caused the blackout, is just a whinier version of Katniss Everdeen. AVOID.

Buy Revolution: Season 1 on Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack.

criminal minds

Criminal Minds

And finally, I will round the set off with a TV show that you SHOULD watch: Criminal Minds. Eight years later and having replaced several cast members, the show is still fantastic and utterly chilling. The highlight of this season is the overarching plot concerning the serial killer who is himself stalking the serial killer hunters of the FBI. They’ve been delving more into the characters’ personal lives in the last few seasons, but not enough to get annoying or ridiculous (like what happened in Private Practice). Watch it and if you like having to sleep with the lights on.

Buy Criminal Minds: Season 8 on DVD.

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Trailer Reviews for August 30, 2013

CLOSED CIRCUIT



This movie looks good. We’ve got some Eric Bana, some Julia Stiles (whom I haven’t seen in a movie in like ten years) and a huge dollop of Spooks (MI-5 on this side of the pond). The only problem I can see is that they gave most of it away in the trailer. Let’s review what we know, shall we? There was a terrorist attack. The bomber was caught. Two lawyers are assigned to defend him. With a journalist’s help they discover MI-5 were responsible for getting him into the country and setting him up in a terrorist cell as a double agent. MI-5 uses closed circuit cameras to try and bump them off before the trial brings everything to light. Am I missing anything? Apart from a non-Bana reason to pay $11.50 to see it again, but longer?

GETAWAY



Taken – sorry, Getaway is the story of a guy whose female family member was kidnapped by bad people and who has to wreck a lot of stuff to get her back. Geez, how many times are they going to make this movie? The only things that are different about it are the fact that they also ripped off The Fast and the Furious (the bit where they’re driving around very fast in cool cars to steal things) and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (where he’s got a young punk ass hacker girl helping him). Actually, now that I watch it again, I realize I’m wrong. It’s not a movie, it’s a two hour ad for the Ford Mustang.

THE SPECTACULAR NOW



Yes, enjoy your impulsiveness and popularity now, children, because soon you will have JOBS and STUDENT LOANS and RESPONSIBILITIES and if you try to cling too hard to your youth, you will end up becoming that creepy person who works at Staples, lives in their parents’ basement, and tries to get drunk with high schoolers every night! Bwahahahahahaha!

ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US



No. Just… no. Though I have to say, I did enjoy the graphic of the big red band logo spreading across the world like a hemorrhagic fever.

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DVDs for August 27, 2013

gatsby

The Great Gatsby

As much as I love how the 10 Classics in 10 Minutes version of The Great Gatsby boils down to “lets have a drink!” it doesn’t do justice to the depth of character portrayed in this movie. Sure the characters are all rich, frivolous, selfish 1920s socialites who believe that rules are made for other people, but that’s just on the surface. Underneath they’re repressed, desperate lovers or confused fish out of water (well, some of them are, anyway). Add that to the sheer decadence of the filming style and you’ve got a compelling film. Check it out or read my full review for more.

Buy The Great Gatsby on Blu-Ray or on DVD.

elementary

Elementary

I love this show. Typically American versions of British shows (this is an Americanization of Sherlock) are terrible but in this case I think both are great. In this version, Watson’s a woman (Lucy Liu) and Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) is a recovering heroin addict who acts as an unpaid (and sometimes unwanted) consultant to detectives Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Bell (Jon Michael Hill) of the NYPD. He’s still an abrasive but lovable genius but other than that don’t waste your time comparing it with Sherlock, its totally different. Still worth checking out, though, so go do it.

Buy Elementary on DVD.

kon tiki

Kon-Tiki

I loved this book when I read it as a kid, and I can’t believe it took them this long to make a film of it (there was a documentary in 1950 but that’s about three millenia ago in Hollywood time). It follows a group of Scandinavian explorers who sail across the Pacific ocean on a balsa wood raft with almost nothing just to prove that the Polynesian peoples could originally have come from South America. I’m glad they did wait, though, because now modern technology has given us a really incredible looking movie to go along with the incredible story. Whether you’ve read the book or not, you’ve got to see it.

Buy Kon-Tiki on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

pain and gain

Pain and Gain

Anthony Mackie, Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson return to their muscle head roots for this movie (well, Dwayne Johnson does, Anthony Mackie started out in engineering and Mark Whalberg was in a boy band). They play a trio of bodybuilding knuckleheads who decide to try and force the universe to give them the American dream through kidnapping and extortion, and as you might expect, it goes hilariously and predictably wrong. The weirdest part about this action/comedy/crime/thriller/mess is that it’s based on a true story. I guess you can’t make this stuff up.

Buy Pain and Gain on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Trailer Reviews for August 16, 2013

KICK ASS 2



I think I must be getting old, because I really don’t want to see this movie. I enjoyed Kick Ass well enough, mostly because they actually made a token concession to reality and had the teen superhero-wannabes get their asses handed to them. But this one just seems like a regular superhero movie – a bunch of people inexplicably able to beat up bad guys for the entertainment of the audience. Also, their teen smartassery makes me want to slap them in the face. Okay, maybe that’s just how I feel about Hit Girl. She just has one of those sneering faces you want to slap. So no thank you, Kick Ass 2, I am maxed out on your franchise after one film.

JOBS



I cannot express the depths to which I do not care about Steve Jobs or the overpriced gadgets he markets to ‘the cool kids’, so this movie would have to be pretty damn amazing looking to entice me. It’s not an impossible thing to do – I hate Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg but I still went to see The Social Network, precisely because they didn’t sugarcoat the story to make him look like a saint (actually, he comes across as quite a large douchebag). Steve Jobs was crazy (according to all the people I’ve talked to who read the biography, anyway) and some of it does seem to come across here, but they’re still obviously on the hero worship train. Oh, he’s such a VISIONARY he started a REVOLUTION. He’s being held down by THE MAN. Ugh. No thanks.

PARANOIA



This movie reminds me an awful lot of Cypher, except without the part where it messes with the audience’s head in addition to the main character’s. The premise also seems kind of sketchy. He’s a genius with technology, which would make him desirable to about a million Fortune 500 companies, yet they make it seem like the only job he can get is one that offends his morals (and, incidentally, the law). And then they turn him into Schmoozy McMoneybags because… why? Because technology companies won’t look at him if he wears a plaid shirt? Half of Silicon Valley rocks up to work in cargo shorts and superhero t-shirts. Also, way to give away the entire movie in the trailer. I’ll probably see it anyway, though, because my other options are a two hour Apple ad or a teenage snarkfest.

THE BUTLER



Here’s the movie I REALLY wanted to see this week, but sadly it’s not coming to my town. I’ve never even heard of the White House butlers, though, obviously, they must be there. I can’t imagine the President opening his own front door or carrying his own dinner plate. But that’s why it’s fascinating. Who ARE these people? What must they see in the line of duty? They’d be like Winston Churchill’s secretary, full of amazing stories about key points in history. It’s like Gosford Park, but as a historical epic. Thirty years, eight Presidents, Civil Rights, Vietnam, Watergate… and James Marsden as JFK! Hell yeah! Sign me up. My only real concern is that the movie might have had to sacrifice some cohesiveness to cover such as long period, but I’m perfectly willing to pay money to find out. If only I was able…

BLUE JASMINE



I saw Woody Allen’s name in the blurb and went “oh no…” but then I decided I was going to try and give him a fair shot. Watch the trailer. Treat it like I didn’t know he was involved. And guess what? It still sounded boring. Oh the trailer made it clear the movie at least had a premise – a woman is broke and has to move in with her sister. But then what? Then she complains a lot and people yell at each other and say awkward things that (I guess) are supposed to be funny. So no, I will not be seeing this one either, Woody Allen. Ever.

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Trailer Reviews for July 26, 2013

THE WOLVERINE



Wolverine was one of my favorite characters in X-Men and X-2 (we do not speak of the atrocity that was X-Men: The Last Stand), largely because he was so sympathetic. He was a broken guy trying hard not to fit in anywhere and failing. I thought X-Men Origins: Wolverine was pretty good but not great, mostly because they covered too much ground time-wise and sacrificed coherency of story. I’d like to see more of Wolverine but I have mixed feelings about this movie for several reasons. 1) They reference the movie that we do not speak of right in the opening seconds of the trailer 2) Despite being more than 2 minutes long the trailer still doesn’t give me much of an idea what the movie is about 3) Giant stupid robot.

THE TO DO LIST



I have major problems with this movie. The poster makes it look like it’s a harmless Judy Moody type tween movie, when in reality it’s brash and dirty enough to have a red band trailer. Hint – that sex list she’s working on contains more than just ‘hickies’ and ‘french kiss.’ It’s supposed to be a high school movie but the leads are 28 (Aubrey Plaza) and 34 (Scott Porter). Also, in said red band trailer, the actress introduces the film as a Valentine’s Day movie (it’s July) in a voice like a bored robot on drugs. The green band trailer also seems to indicate that bored robot on drugs is her standard mode of acting. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that Agent Phil Coulson spoke the only non-stilted line in that whole trailer. Interesting concept, poor execution. Skip!

FRUITVALE STATION



This trailer spends all its time trying to hide what happens at Fruitvale Station. This might have been a more effective tactic if they hadn’t a) outlined the entire plot in the theater website blurb and b) hadn’t based the movie on a true story everyone knows about from a couple of years ago. Hell, YouTube even suggests cell phone videos of the ‘BART Shooting’ after the trailer is finished. However, it seems like a pretty good movie otherwise. One of those: ‘let us move you by showing you the tragic results of senseless errors by persons in positions of authority’ films that film festivals go for.

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Trailer Reviews for July 19, 2013

RED 2



I absolutely loved the first RED. It took me completely by surprise. Obviously the surprise factor will be gone this time but judging from the trailer it’s going to be just as funny. With the Russian connection, missing nuke, and locked up scientist, the plot seems very similar to A Good Day to Die Hard, but I’m going to think of it as this plot’s chance to redeem itself from its terrible showing in Die Hard rather than outright copying. After all, it’s not like Twentieth Century Fox can copyright Russia (though they’ve probably tried). At least you know when this movie gets ridiculous, it’s actually TRYING to be ridiculous rather than totally ignorant of the laws of physics.

R.I.P.D.



Oh, hello again, Mary Louise Parker! That’s two movies for you in one week. If it weren’t for the fact that RED 2 was opening this weekend, I might have gone to see this one. The trailer hooked me as soon as it smashed Ryan Reynolds’s face off the concrete. Ouch! That’s gotta be worth a broken neck. The R.I.P.D. Thing is a little cutesy but funny – in the same way that the angels hell-bent on getting Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz to fall in love in Life Less Ordinary were funny. Though, obviously, there’s a lot more wanton destruction in this movie, probably because they had a lot more money. I’ll wait for the DVD.

Turbo



Oh, hello again, Ryan Reynolds! That’s two movies for you in one week as well! Are we playing a game I’m not aware of? Perhaps One Degree of Separation? I have to thank this movie, because I had no idea that nitrous oxide was capable of giving superpowers molluscs. Since there seems to be a fine line between superpowers and horrible death by poisoning, I’ll know to be careful if I ever decide to douche-up my Honda Civic with happy-gas canisters and little green lights. I was also unaware that cars were optional in the Indy 500. Look at all the new facts I’m learning today! If you need me I’ll be in Indianapolis pedaling madly on my tricycle. Where I will NOT be is in the theater watching this movie.

The Conjuring



Oh, hello again, Patrick Wilson! Sadly, you’ve ruined the game. This movie seems very familiar, probably because found footage films are a dime a dozen these days and there are whole shows devoted to people who wander around old houses with EMF meters trying to talk to ghosts. Sadly none of them are as good as Supernatural, though I suspect this movie won’t be a total waste of money. If it’s anything like Insidious it will take a 90 degree turn into crazytown about two thirds of the way through the movie, so even if you think you know the whole story from watching the trailer there are still a few surprises left. I wish they weren’t so liberal with displaying all the horrors all over the screen, though. Don’t they get that what we CAN’T see is scarier?

Renoir



This movie reminds me a little bit of Ever After, though I couldn’t say why. Maybe because it’s a semi-historical love story that stars a famous painter as the grownup who browbeats the two young lovers into pulling their heads out of their own asses. I’m intrigued by the story and the characters. It looks good, the acting seems solid…. and yet, I suspect it would be boring. Not because it’s foreign and I’d have to read – I like reading. Because they used the slowest, dreariest music they could possibly find for this trailer. That does not bode well for the pace of the film.

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