Archive | February, 2012

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Post Oscars Refraction: A Smattering of Films

Posted on 28 February 2012 by Reel Rhino

I have been watching movies, I promise!  I actually survived a medical scare last week and spent a few days laid up in bed.  I used my time in bed and my recovery soon after to catch up on much of what I haven’t seen from recent months.

I will say that Time Warner On-Demand has a great selection of “see-it while its in theaters” kind of flicks and for that, I am grateful!

For your money today, I offer smattering of mini-reviews, some longer than others…my time at the keyboard has been less than I would like, as of late, but a boy’s gotta eat, and the “real” job pays the bills!

I have been writing this post for the better part of 2 weeks.  The really really short reviews are the product of me being too tired to care, generating the desire to just post this darn thing!  So for you, in a post Oscars 2012 world, I offer you this film buffet:

ACT OF VALOR: 4.5 of 5 Horns
THE ARTIST: 5 of 5 Horns
THE WOMAN IN BLACK: 3.5 of 5 Horns
THIS MEANS WAR: 3 of 5 Horns
SAFE HOUSE: 4 of 5 Horns
THE INNKEEPERS: 4 of 5 Horns
PERFECT SENSE: 4 of 5 Horns
THE IRON LADY: 3.5 of 5 Horns
GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGANCE: 3.5 of 5 Horns
JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND: 4 of 5 Horns

Act of Valor
This film was culled from footage of real-life Navy Seals in action.  It took the weekend overwhelming viewers, while underwhelming critics.  This is a movie that truly is critic-proof though, as you don’t go for the acting…seeing this movie is something of an act of patriotism.  It was moving, had mind-blowing action, and while it was light in the acting talent, it just didn’t matter.

There were moments when the big-guns kicked in at just the right moment, in what seemed like last minute heroics, but was actually perfectly orchestrated battle plans.  I loved this movie and it made me relish the respect I have for my Brother, a Marine, whose courage has and always will inspire me to do the best I can in my life.  I revere those who risk everything so we can have anything, and this film, while not a traditional Hollywood blockbuster, does proper tribute to all those who serve, but especially those who fight battles that we really have a hard time comprehending.

4.5 of 5 Horns

The Artist
Simply amazing.  5 of 5 horns any day and it is everything they say it is.  This is a film to behold and one to applaud for the sake of pure creative genius!

The Woman in Black
Mundane horror fare.  3.5 of 5 Horns for an acceptable, but otherwise run of the mill horror film.  Harry Potter, we expect better from you.  OBLIVIATE! There…that’s better….but…now…who am I again?

This Means War
Better than I expected, but still not as good as it could of been.  It was missing something special that certainly could have elevated it from what it is to what it could have been!  The film is carried by the affability of Pine and Hardy, it was as The Kid in the Helmet said, impossible to watch and not see Hardy as Bane in the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises.  3 of 5 Horns  — Here’s looking forward to TDKR and Star Trek 2!

Safe House
Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds.  ‘Nuf Said.  4 of 5 Horns for this exciting, fun action ride that features an old hand doing what he does best and really the new kid in action-adventure fare, testing the waters.  Really, Reynolds has only supported the action films in which he has starred (Smokin’ Aces and X-Men Origins: Wolverine), and I think that Green Hornet is not representative of his potential in the genre.  Reynolds  has only scratched the action surface and he will likely shift from Rom-Com fare to more gritty stuff, or at least we can hope (or at least I do!).  As a side note, I would have loved to have seen this flick directed by Tony Scott…that guy can direct!

The Innkeepers
This is the second semi-mainstream offering from Ti West (not counting Cabin Fever 2).  His first semi-wide theater release was House of the Devil, which was stunning and so beautifully vintage in tone and artistic design.  He has an eye for shots that captivate and he clearly films on a serious budget.  This is the story of two clerks working the final weekend at a very old Inn, hell bent on uncovering the mystery surrounding the supposed hauntings at the place.  It is so crisp in its presentation, it looks like it was shot on a prosumer HD camcorder, but it adds to the look and feel of the film in such an effective way.  If Devil was dark (and it was), Innkeepers was light (in the sense that the lights were almost always on).  That lightness made the trips into the basement so much more effective.  Check this out for another effort for a talented up and comer in the horror genre!  A solid 4 of 5 Horns for The Innkeepers.

Perfect Sense
The wold is headed for chaos as an apocalyptic-inducing disease is slowly robbing people of their senses.  Ewan McGregor and Eva Green are splendid…yes, I said splendid, in this part-love story, part-end-of-the-world genre blend the likes of which is both unique and well-played.  KIMBALIANO saw this last year at Sundance, and here’s what she had to say then…

My other love of the fest so far has been PERFECT SENSE. Not because I have an obsessive crush on Ewan McGregor (which I do) or that he’s a little bit naked in the film (which, ladies, he is) but because this is an amazing, emotional movie. It’s the story of a couple (played by Ewan and Eva Green) who fall in love while a strange pandemic breaks out around the world. It starts with an overwhelming moment of loss and grief, then an unexplainable loss of smell. Eventually the entire world is effected. As this strange illness unfolds the human reaction, both on a global level and in the intimate details of the couple’s relationship, are presented. The not-knowing in this movie will make you uncomfortable, but the story is too compelling not to watch. It hasn’t been picked up yet, but I really hope it does. As with most Sundance movies, these two don’t exactly wrap themselves up in a pretty bow at the end, but that’s what I find most enjoyable about them.

Yes, it was picked up and I had the chance to see this on Time Warner On-Demand…for my taste, a solid 4 of 5 Horn movie with curiosity fueling the viewing more than enjoyment.  But there’s nothing wrong with that, is there?

The Double
I watched this on Netflix Watch Instantly and remarkably, I didn’t hate it.  At best, I found that it kept a quarter of my attention, with the other three-quarters fulled with lament as after clicking a link, my Facebook account “upgraded” to timeline…lament, oh lament.

The film has a pair of stars in (Chris)Topher Grace and Richard Gere.  I added the Chris because you and I know that it’s actually there.  Richard Gere’s performance was reminiscent of his part in the 1997 remake of The Jackal (originally Day of the Jackal).

This film held this part of my attention, but for a thriller, it wasn’t really that thrilling.  There is a huge reveal about 20 minutes in that I full expected to be a twist or a red herring, but I was sadly disappointed.

The film basically revolves around a manhunt for a Russian gun for hire turned serial murderer, of sorts.  Grace has his moments, but also some doozy bits of acting at times.

Whereas the plot unravels early, some of the dialogue is exposition heavy…including Topher talking to himself, speaking outloud his theories on the case, because that’s what normal people do all the time.

All in all, I gave this a 3 of 5 Horn rating.  See it if you’re bored, but otherwise pick a classic you’ve never seen, lean back, relax and enjoy a better film.

The Iron Lady
This as a film did not wow me; Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher did wow me.  She is one of the finest actors of our generation and this film is worth watching for her performance alone.  I gave this film a 3.5 as a watchable all-around story of a still-living, breathing legend of politics.  It is a pretty standard biopic running three ages of Margaret Thatcher at the same time, with Streep handling the active-politics years as well as the retired, confused old woman who when she goes to the store for some milk, isn’t even recognized.

Let me also say that the make-up in this phenomenal and it is one of the three films nominated for the make-up award from The Academy.  It’ll be a touch and go race, but it may be Glenn Close’s Albert Nobbs that takes the award.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengence 3-D
This ain’t your mother’s Ghost Rider.  Unfortunately, it ain’t exact;y the great flick I thought it would be, either.  It is, by far, around 100% better than the original. Neveldine/Taylor are an extremely talented pair of directors and cinematographers.  This film was bumped up a whole point in my book for the stark deviation in tone and production methods from the first one.  The original was a green screen nightmare and this offering is more visceral, something resembling the reality that could be in a world with the Rider.

Nicolas Cage, you either love him or hate him…there is little middle ground.  Fortunately for me, I am on the love him side, so in addition to the great direction, Cage’s hammy delivery suits this film perfectly.

The son of the devil was born to a mortal woman and his coming of age is upon the world.  The boy is on the run with his mother and pursued first by the devil’s minions, second by a mysterious boozy priest, played enjoyably by Idris Elba.  Elba enlists the help of The Rider, convincing him with the promise that if he is successful, his order of priests can lift the curse that has him roaming the night harvesting souls for the devil.

All in all, I give this a 3.5 of 5 horn rating….This is not a $14 movie, and that’s what I paid…it was also playing in ETX 3-D, which I believe would have been $16….

Things are getting crazy expensive at AMC and while I love AMC with specific affection for my Barrywoods crew, I can’t go without saying pointing it out.   Cinemark in Merriam is $4 bucks for all shows before 6pm, $6 for all shows after.  Their 3-D mark-up is $2.75….meaning that worst case scenario for any 3-D show is a matinee viewing for a 3-D flick is $8.75.

I did the IMAX viewing of Journey 2 (see below) and it was a CRAZY $16.00 for the film.  At least they had the decency to play a Warner Brothers Looney Tunes short before the film.  $16.00 for 94 minutes…that’s $1 per $6 minutes of film, give or take.  Yikes.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – The 3-D IMAX Experience
I hate those who judge films like this before giving it any chance at all.  This a fun, family film that makes it mark as a fine (albeit cheesy at times) adventure.  Like the first film, it was built for 3-D and enhanced by its release in IMAX.  I think watching this at home would greatly reduce one’s enjoyment, but with the likes of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Sir Michael Caine, and Luis Guzman, there was no shortage of talent in the acting department.  Yeah, you heard me say it, I think The Rock can act.  See also: The Rundown for one of my favorite action films of recent years.  I enjoyed him in Fast 5 and really think he can accentuate the action element of any movie.  It is, what it is, though.  Either you will like it, or you will endure it.  Luckily for me, I liked it…but I am easy to please!  4 of 5 Horns

Yes, I’ll be headed back to the theater soon…sorry for the sporadic postings, but times have been crazy around here, and I hope it slows down soon so I can get back to writing!!!

Until later, take care!
Reel Rhino

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Presidential Election Prediction

Posted on 28 February 2012 by Thraxxus

Who do I think will win? Obama.

Why? The Republicans have done such an amazing job of blasting each other and talking crazy that all Obama really has to do is not screw up. Let us review just some of the crazy:

  1. Accusations aplenty were thrown at Romney over how much he made and how much taxes he paid. This lead to Romney sharing his tax returns long before he needed to. What happened? The guy is squeeky clean – however it showed that he is rich, something we already knew. This became yet a new cry against him. How? The next series of attacks was aimed at how he got rich. Apparently being successful in the USA is to be frowned upon.
  2. Santorum loves to talk about things he hates. Abortion, sex, drugs,alcohol, anything that might be considered fun. He also loves to talk about how much the government should cut back spending, how the other candidates want to spend more, etc. Ironically Santorum was a big proponent of spending prior to now. I love hypocrites.
  3. Gingrich is a nut bag. According to him, losses are wins, and wins are losses. Apparently he has the magic ability to make the price of gasoline never exceed $2.50/gallon. Nobody knows how, but he likes to talk about that magic power. He also likes to say how he will have a MARS base by 2020. Oddly enough, the USA no longer has a shuttle capable of flying anywhere, but apparently that won’t stop Newt as his magical mind powers will get us there.
  4. Ron Paul is a paradox. On the one hand he talks about how to save money, the cut backs that can be made, and bringing the military home. He also enjoys talking about the Constitution – remember that thing? Unfortunately he has this way of spouting on random facts as fast as he can in a Conspiracy Theorist Nutjob sort of way. It isn’t that what he is saying is wrong or made up, but rather how he says it. Consequently he has been labeled as “un electable.” He is another guy, just like Ross Perot, who won’t get elected but will be remembered years later for having been right. Best part here? His own party is lying about how well he did in the poles.

So Obama? Simple. Talk about the good stuff. Talk about how little help he got from Congress. Let the other guys hang themselves. Is he the best for the Job? Not to me, and I voted for the guy. Is he electable, again? Yes, especially with the Republicans being his campaign managers.

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3rd Annual Reel Rhino OSCAR POOL – Come Get Some!

Posted on 21 February 2012 by Reel Rhino

3rd Annual REEL RHINO Oscar Pool – JOIN IN THE FUN!!!

Folks, last year was a BEAR tracking in Excel all of the submissions to the Oscar pool.  Well track no more Reel Rhino, for I have found a trusted and reliable website that runs it for FREE!
Much like the Fantasy leagues have their sites in ESPN, YAHOO, and CBS SPORTSLINE, we now have…
This is a website that specializes in entertainment games and it was our good fortune that they have an OSCAR POOL!
NO COST, NO OBLIGATION, LOTS OF FUN!!
The password for my group is….. rhino …yeah, surprising, I know!
Here is the link:

REEL RHINO OSCAR POOL (password: rhino)

I will be posting and reposting this until the Academy Awards start on Sunday.  Also, I am employing the sites recommended scoring system which takes into account a heavier weighting of the more popular categories to try to keep the shots in the dark from skewing the results.
WINNER GETS TO PICK ANY MOVIE FOR ME TO REVIEW — last year’s champ had me write-up on Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never…what will you choose…oh, yeah….nothing, since I WILL BE VICTORIOUS!!!
Again, the password is rhino and the site is…
JOIN IN THE FUN….can you take down last year’s champion, KRISTIN (See her late 90’s promo head shot to see just who you are up against)!?!?!
Take care and good luck…
Reel Rhino

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Hail the Villain

Posted on 21 February 2012 by Thraxxus

A friend of mine posted these guys on Facebook. I used to be into metal quite a bit, then after the 90s quite a bit of it started to blend together for me, and I sort of lost interest. I guess the lack of creativity is what got me. What grabbed me with these guys is the visual they throw down with their music – their video has purpose – meaning the lyrics might have actually been thought out instead of random screaming. Either way – I really liked it. Consequently I am sharing this video with you. The band is called Hail The Villain, oddly something my son likes to do with any movie or show we watch.

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The Kid in the Helmet Gets Old With Jay and Silent Bob

Posted on 17 February 2012 by Reel Rhino

I promise you…I’ve not gotten lazy, just busy.  I must turn to THE KID IN THE HELMET, my trusted compatriot to pick up some slack for me.  I have seen Safe House (4 of 5 Horns) and I felt compelled to go and see the 3-D Phantom Men-ASS…yes, you can infer from that terrible joke, that I find the Episode I calamity, my least favorite of the George Lucas’s saga…

Ugh…

I leave you in the safe capable hands of The Kid in the Helmet…take it away, Kid:

————————————

Hello Reel Rhino reader, The Kid in the Helmet here once again.

So, a couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a Fathom event at AMC Barrywoods. For those who don’t know, Fathom puts live events on the big screen around the country. This was something I never thought I would do as the only Fathom events I have ever seen advertised prior were for the ballet, the opera, and some sort of Glenn Beck thing. Nothing I would spend money on. But for those of you who have read my contributions to Rhino’s blog before you know I am a big Kevin Smith fan. So when I heard he would be doing a Fathom event featuring a live recording of one of his many podcasts, “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old,” (http://smodcast.com/channels/jay-silent-bob-get-old/), it was like they had decided to do this show for me alone, and I felt like a very special boy, indeed.

(Reel Rhino note…I added that last line.  The Kid is by far in the top 7 to 12 Kevin Smith fans…in the world.)

My dad (Papa Schmer) tagged along with me and we arrived an hour early to ensure a good seat. This turned out to not be necessary as there were only about 10-15 people in the theater…but when it’s streamed all across the country, the crowd adds up, I suppose. Things started off a little rough with some technical difficulties…they were late getting the show running by about 5-10 minutes and then there was another 5-10 minutes of sound but no picture. But it eventually got squared away, and for a 20 minute run of technical issues, AMC was kind enough to give us a pass for a free movie, so all’s well that ends well.

Jay and Silent Bob Get Old was as funny as always. It began with a conversation around Kevin’s dog Skully who was slowly passing away…doesn’t sound like a funny topic I know, so I guess I’ll just say you’d have to hear it to realize that much like Kevin can do with even the most morose of topics, he spins it just right.  Check it out if so inclined. The rest of the show mostly revolved around Kevin telling a story about trying to keep his large pet tortoise from…how shall I put this…making unwanted coitus with his smaller pet tortoise. Funny stuff, so give it a listen.

After the podcast Kevin and Jay came back out and did a Q&A taking questions from the audience in the theater as well as the audience all over the country via Twitter. The big news from the Q&A was that Jay and Silent Bob will be returning to the big screen.

(Reel Rhino note….WHA, WHA, WHA….WHAT! ~ nice!)

Recently Jay came to Kevin and told him he was bored and looking from something to work on. Kevin tossed him a script he had written for an animated Jay and Silent Bob movie. Jay went off on his own and got it financed and produced. It is called “Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie.” It will premier this year at the Toronto International Film Festival and then Kevin will take it on the road similar to last year’s Red State road show. While it is mostly animated it will also feature a live action portion for which Kevin any Jay will don the costumes once again. For more details on this and many other Smith related things check out this exclusive interview with the man himself:

http://www.craveonline.com/film/interviews/182497-exclusive-kevin-smith-the-jay-and-silent-bob-animated-movie.

Overall I would rate the Fathom event experience 4.5 out of 5 Helmets. It loses a half a helmet due to the technical difficulties. Kevin will be doing another one of these soon with another podcast, Hollywood Babble-On, his weekly Hollywood Poop  Chute with Ralph Garmin, made famous for his Silent Bob-esque role as the speechless Caleb in Smith’s Red State.  No, actually, he is quite a well renowned voice actor and notable DJ on KROQ in Los Angeles.   He is funny and great with impersonations….only the penitent man will pass…penitent man, penitent man….(Harrison Ford).  So look for that soon and check it out.

The cost was only $15 bucks…pretty cheap for a fun and different movie going experience.  Hell, I heard the Reel Rhino once paid $17 to see The Jonas Brothers 72 minute concert movie….sucker.  I got a 3 hour show…now that’s buying power!

Thanks Kid! You are always a welcome addition to the site…also good at picking up my slack!  I promise to return soon with some reviews, pithy comments on life, and all around goodness.

Take care…

Reel Rhino

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And then I got the Viagra dealership

Posted on 16 February 2012 by ~baba

What a long, strange trip it’s been. Moved here to Thailand never having been here before and almost no money, overdrafted my account immediately and was broke for three weeks, moved across the country and was almost immediately mugged and hospitalized for almost two weeks.. It’s gotten stranger and stranger. I was given half ownership in a bar for a minor good deed I did and through the bar have met two Thai men who are going to get me long term visas here and through a friend I met here I may get a pharmacy license and set up a Viagra, etc sales booth at the bar. This is the land of older men and younger women and I believe this legal outlet will be a financial success for me and an influx of business for the bar. In other news… I’m going to Pattya in the Gulf of Thailand to meet the pharmacy owner and get the license and going thru Bangkok on the way down and back. Coincidently, yesterday I met and took out a pretty little shop girl to see Underworld Blood and Guts Sequel in a frigid theater and we got close pretty quickly. She has family in Bangkok and is going there today and has invited me to stay with her and her family while I’m there. If you are thinking of moving here, do it, she said she was 22, I said I was 64, she said no problem, lets be a couple. Need any other encouragement guys? Sooooooo, I have a ride down to Pattya and he’s picking up the tab and a free place to stay, so far so good………~baba

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Whitney

Posted on 12 February 2012 by Thraxxus

Whitney Houston died. She was 48. She is considered by many to be one of the most talented singers in the last 30 years. Her death, albeit tragic, was expected. Whitney was a drug addict. She and her husband, Bobby Brown – a real piece of work, got heavily into drugs in the 90s and never had a chance to fully recover. At present nobody actually knows how she died as the present status is “Cause of Death Unknown” – however, sadly, people are already assuming that it was drug related. Why? Whitney’s history.

Whitney came to musical fame in the 80s and went strong into the 90s, petering off a bit after the turn of the century. Many believe that she helped forge the path for the modern day Diva, she and Madonna that is. Madonna took the edgy, sexually empowered direction, whereas Whitney went with strong vocals and an almost pristine persona. Oddly enough it was actually Whitney who ran along the dark side over Madonna. Whitney liked to party – period. She liked partying and everything that it included. In effect her form of escapism was partying based drug use. The real tragedy is the drug use stepped outside the party scene for Whitney, as it has so many before her, and became routine.

Regardless of what the cause of death was (her closest friends are talking about stress), we can only expect her historical significance for the musical world to be tarnished in much the same fashion as some super athletes are by steroid use. Whitney was amazing, no doubt of that, but when talked about people will be compelled to say things like “Whitney Houston sure had an amazing voice, tragic she was a drug addict.” Somehow her amazing skills have been forever marred by her drug use – but why? Consider other great musicians that have died from drug use, it is always the same. “Jim Morrison, amazing singer, real power house, too bad he was a drug addict.” Rinse repeat.

So what don’t musicians get? Drugs will be offered to you on tour, it is a fact of life. You will party. However, what is it that causes these people to forget what drugs really do to you – that being that they kill you. As so many before you have proven, drug use leads to ruin – and a forever marring of your legacy. Is it worth it? If Mass Media really wants to help, which they won’t, then instead of blasting Whitney, as they have so many before her, they will use her as an example of fallen greatness, and how to avoid following her. The Media can focus on the causes, sources, what to avoid, how to get help and many other positive things – I doubt they will though. Instead they will do as they have done so often in the past – make money off of bashing.

To prove that Whitney was awesome I have supplied you with one of the best ever renditions of the National Anthem.

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Belichick’s Chicanery

Posted on 06 February 2012 by Thraxxus

I despise the New England Patriots – always have – basically for a few reasons really:

  1. I hate Bill Belichick. He is a confirmed cheater.
  2. I despise Tom Brady – I believe he is one of the most overrated Quarterbacks of all time.
  3. I cannot stand being told whom I am supposed to believe in – on any subject – in this one, football, we the people have been told that both the Cowboys (another team I hate) and the Patriots are America’s teams. Screw that crap.

Sunday was the Superbowl. It was a solid game – a real nail biter. There were two plays that made the game great. The first was an amazing throw/reception combination by the Giants that set them into position to win the game. The catch was so spectacular that they needed to review it to make sure that it really even happened and was legal. No joke.

The second play was, I admit this grudgingly, a genius maneuver that ultimately did not pay off by Belichick. Realize I hate this guy. I hate everything about him. That said he made a call, really the only intelligent call any coach could have made, to try to give his team the best shot at a comeback – a call that almost nobody would have thought of. See, I am a football coach, albeit not on the scale of Belichick’s career, and thus I am familiar with the hard decisions, and sometimes off the cuff calls, that a coach faces in game. It is much more difficult than people think – trust me here.

Belichick faced a situation where his team was going to be forced to watch the game clock go down to almost zero, watch what we can only assume would be the game winning kick by the Giants, that would lead to the Patriots losing by exactly one point with time expiring. The game was, in effect, already over. Belichick got this. Hell the only thing that didn’t happen was the rolling credits by the television station that was smart enough to buy up the rights to show the game. The commentators were talking about how the end was inevitable – the Giants had pulled an upset – and poor poor Belichick had to watch it all happen in painful slow motion.

No, Belichick wasn’t going down like that – and he sure as hell wasn’t going to go down with his “Star Quarterback” on the sidelines. During the pre-game hype Brady said that if given the choice he’d rather be on the field, down by a few points, with two minutes left than watching Eli do the comeback. Brady is confident enough that he can comeback, as he has in the past, and more importantly so can Eli – thus he’d rather it be him with the chance of glory instead of being forced to watch another take it from him. Belichick’s solution to the problem at hand was to do just that – get the ball back in the hands of Brady. But how?

The Giants owned the clock, the ball, and just needed to wait it out, kick an auto win field goal, collect a trophy and go home. To do so they would execute two simple run plays where the Running Back is told to hold the ball as if his life depended on it. Take a handoff, hold the ball, run straight ahead. That is what Belichick would tell his Runningback, and he knew that is what the other coach was doing as well. He knew it balls to bones – and so he did the unthinkable – he ordered his defense to simply step out of the way. It was a gamble – let them score. The Giants, after all, were down by two. That meant that if they scored, and went for two, the best they could be is up six points – giving Brady and the evil Patriots a shot at that last minute comeback – the one they had done so many time prior.

In effect, this call, is quite possibly the singularly greatest call by a coach I have ever witnessed. Remember, I hate Belichick, truly. I would love to see him stripped of his titles for cheating. Really. That aside for a moment, just a short moment, I really respected his abilities as a coach. If not for the cheating I could probably even respect the guy. Bravo sir. You made a call that few would think of and even fewer would have the balls to make.

Tragically you still lost.

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Chronicle and The Big Year on VOD

Posted on 04 February 2012 by Reel Rhino

CHRONICLE: 3 of 5 Horns
I went to see Chronicle with the highest of hopes.  Having such high expectations is a bit dangerous for me, and I feel in this instance, like so many times before, I was let down.

I didn’t hate this movie…I liked it, but didn’t love it.

What I did like a great deal is the means by which this found footage film managed to get coverage to avoid being a single camera vantage without breaking from the theme of the cinematographic method.  Camera one is brought to pass as one of the main guys (Dane DeHaan’s Andrew) decides, with an abusive alcoholic father and a mother dying before his eyes, that he is going to document everything in his day to day life.

In a nutshell, three friends (Andrew, Alex Russell’s Matt, and Michael B. Jordan’s Steve) venture away from a barn rave to discover a hole in the earth, leading down to some kind of supernatural crystal thingee (yeah, that’s my word, not theirs).  With Andrew’s camera in tow, they catch the thing on film, but not before “some kind of interference” sets the world shaking and the screen cuts to black.

When the picture picks up, the guys are in one of their yards, taking turns realizing the beginnings of their newly acquired gift.  Things start out small, but pretty quickly they realize that with each passing moment, they are getting stronger.

One of my issues is that for 83 minutes, this film felt long.  Those passing moments come quickly once they get their powers, but it took a bit longer than I would have liked to get to those good bits.

Generally speaking, their powers are your standard superman stuff, plus telekinesis.  I reference Superman as a point of procedure, because this film really feels like a procedural on the woes of superhero puberty.  In fact I told some of the AMC staffers that if at the end of this movie, we would have learned that this was a loose prequel to some existing character or characters, it would have blown me away.  I don’t think this is really a spoiler, but it is not that at all.

Once the film picks up steam and moves past the awkward trial and error stages of what these guys are actually capable of, it really culminates nicely.  As I mentioned, the found footage element was accentuated by the use of any and all cameras in the area of the action.  Shots cut to cell phone video, flip cams, and surveillance footage as well to give a great perspective to the action without breaking the method of presentation.

There is some nice coming of age material as Andrew is very much the recluse of this group and he finds ways to use his powers in interesting ways to gain some attention.

Things ultimately spiral out of control, but I will leave that for your viewing experience.

I feel like this is a short review, but at 83 minutes, if I type much more, this write-up will possibly exceed the length of the screenplay.  Speaking of, this flick has story by and screenplay credits for Max Landis.  If that name sounds familiar, its because he is son to John Landis, horror genius.  In fact Max’s main filmography is small-time horror, TV, with the Good Time Gang already lined-up as his next major feature.  I guess we can forgive both he and his father for the atrocity that was Blues Brothers 2000…or not.  But he shows creativity, and while I didn’t love this film, I thought it was a unique spin on the found powers genre.  It was something between Sky High, a not terrible Kurt Russell/Michael Angarano flick from a few year ago crossed with the early goings of Spiderman in Raimi’s original.

The other half of the story by credit went to director Josh Trank.  Trank is an up and comer and I look forward to more from him in the future.  Previously, he directed the FX series The Kill Point (which I liked) and served as the editor on Patton Oswalt’s Big Fan.  This is a respectible first major feature and given the skill to which he conducted The Kill Point, I look forward to a real live action flick from him, rather than the found footage fare.

A 3 of 5 horn score from The Reel Rhino.  Catfish hollers at me all the time…you;ve never seen a movie you don’t like, he complains.  Chronicle is sitting pretty on Rotten Tomatoes at 85% from the critics and 82% from the users.  I didn’t hate this movie, but I certainly am not with the masses on this.

THE BIG YEAR: 4 of 5 Horns
I am re-posting my review on this from late in 2011, since this was just released to On-Demand.  I loved this flick in the theater and I think too few people are going to give it a chance.  It is a sweet, fun movie, loaded with stars….my review:

Don’t listen to the critics…well, if you consider me a critic, listen to me, but ignore the naysayers!

The Big Year succeeds as a sweet, funny film, that is much better than it’s Tomatometer score would let on (39%).

How about this cast…

A subdued Steve Martin, a sweet Jack Black, a standard Owen Wilson, Rashida Jones, Dianne Wiest, Brian Dennehy, Rosamund Pike, Anjelica Huston, Joel McHale, Kevin Pollack, JoBeth Williams, and Anthony Anderson.

Wow!  The cast alone should have your interest peaked…I went in not having seen the trailer, only having heard through the scuttle that the film was about bird watching, or birding.

It is in fact based on an actual contest, called appropriately, The Big Year, in which birders try and see how many different species of bird they can see or hear within a calender year.

Barry Bostick (Wilson) is the reigning birding hero, holding the world record and being the pimp daddy of the birding community.  He is as vain as they come and he is fearful of his record being broken.  Among those set to challenge him, is Stu Priessler (Martin), a recently retired high-powered CEO, who has dreamed for years of setting off on his own big year.  Brad Harris (Black) is a dreamer.  A computer debugger by day, he is mostly broke, and like Stu, is in it for the love.
These three actors have given great performances in the past, and while I think they are good but not great hear, they play off one and other perfectly, and it synergistically combines to something much better than most people are giving this film credit for.

Being a stranger to the birding world, I was happy to learn so many aspects of this sport, albeit it a dramatized, comedic version of this world.

In addition to being a comedy and a drama, there are elements of thrills thrown into the mix, seen in the mystery as to whether a person is actually engaged in a Big Year, a fact that is typically kept secret, for fear that other birders will set to derail them in their quest.

This is a fun story and for what I recall, a family friendly one.  Minus a few S-bombs and a scantily towel wrapped Rosamund Pike in one scene, this is a pretty clean film.  It is rated PG, which is rare for any mainstream film these days.  The comedy is effective and it is clean.

Give The Big Year a chance.  It has heart and this cast superbly comes together to make something of a Christopher Guest effort, without the tongue-in-cheekedness than comes with his mockumentary filmmaking.  David Frankel is a competent director and his previous efforts include Marley and Me and The Devil Wears Prada.  In my opinion, he has created a very accessible film, written for the screen by Howard Franklin based on the book by Mark Obmascik.

4 of 5 Horns for this very sweet and enjoyable film.

Until later folks, have fun this weekend…see something good!

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The Grey, Haywire, The Divide, Shame, Contraband

Posted on 01 February 2012 by Reel Rhino

Yeah, I’ve been slacking.  Sorry…

Kimbaliano has been hobnobbing with the glitterati in Sundance and I am sure she is working up quite a wrap up post.  For now, I thought I would touch base on my last few flicks…and yes, I love the dot, dot, dot…I’m working on that as well…(dammit!)

I was on the road for a bit and I’ll get to those at the tail end of this post.  Stay tuned, because included in my week of viewing pleasure was the Washington, D.C. premiere for the new Michael Biehn flick, The Divide.

The Grey
Liam Neeson continues to impress for a man approaching 60 in mere months.  Not that 60 isn’t the new 50, but he’s rocking it as a bad mamma-jamma and he’s relentless in the role of the ass kicker (Geico Gekko: Did I just say Bad Mamma Jamma?).  Is The Grey the pinnacle in his trilogy that began with Taken, continued with Unknown, and is rounded up nicely here.

The Grey follows a group of oil drillers in Alaska, whose plane back to civilization goes down.  Neeson, hired on the drill site to keep the workers safe from wolves in the area, is faced with the very same problem for the small band of survivors.

This film is rocking solid at 77%/75% critics and user ratings and I am still hearing more bad than good on this flick.

I loved it and I thought the wolves were completely palatable.  Forget what you’ve heard and give this flick a chance.  The Joe Carnahan and Liam Neeson team worked well for The A-Team (deal with it) and it worked well here as well!

Stay until after the credits for a short, but meaningful scene.

4.5 of 5 Horns

Haywire
This is yet another Steven Soderbergh film that is exactly like a Steven Soderbergh film.

I like Soderbergh, so I liked this film.

Gina Carano stars as Mallory, which is a great name for a badass heroine who can fight like a tigress!  She is great in the fight scenes.

The rest of the cast, almost everyone of them known by BIG name, are completely competent.  The direction as well, competent.

So why didn’t I go gaga for this film?  It was very much a thinker…most of the fights were featured in the trailer, which I hate.  The trademark heavy score was ever present with the sound on the dialogue subdued and no batman like sound effects in the fight scenes.

I think that was the problem that most have had with this flick.  It sits at 44% for the user score on RT and the critics are praising it highly at 81%.  That is not exceptionally surprising for Soderbergh, as he is generally loved by critics and perhaps misunderstood by the masses.

At the end of the day, this is a short, fun movie that helped me realize perhaps I could have caught it home and been just as happy.  3.5 of 5 Horns.

Contraband
If you didn’t hear it, Mark Wahlberg recently made the statement that had be been on one of the 9/11 flights, he’d have fought the highjackers and saved everyone.

Jackass.

He should concentrate on elevating his acting game, moreso.

This film, much like Haywire was a fully palatable film, good enough to pass some time, but really nothing that blew me away.

Wahlberg plays a reformed smuggler who is pulled back in the game for that oh so tired “One Last Job!” when his wife’s brother is in on a job gone wrong.

Mayhem ensues and lots of blood is shed.

What I commend this film for, was its boldness as a solid R-rated flick.  The F-bombs were well placed and I like movies that are reminiscent of the 80’s action fare.  I think Wahlberg is decent enough and Giovanni Ribisi is just plain dirty (a good thing) as his foil.  Ben Foster is also decent and we need to get this guy in more movies!  Kate Beckinsale is just plain (but looking good while being so mundane) as Wahlberg’s damsel in distress, a role in a world with Underworld’s Selene, she just doesn’t play it well anymore.

At the end of the day, yet another passing grade: 3.5 of 5 Horns.

Shame
This is some flick.

It is a very small story about a man (Michael Fassbender) with a sex addiction whose life is upended when his sister (Carey Mulligan) pops into his life and moves in with him following a failed relationship.

I don’t even want to begin to describe this film, except to say it is a) captivating and b) very graphic (and quite bizarre).

Be prepared (or be excited)…you will see more of Fassbender’s penis than we saw of the giant blue penis in Watchman.

My description above sums up the plot and the story unfolds as we learn the extent of Brandon’s (Fassbender) problem and how it is exacerbated by Sissy’s arrival. Yes, she is his sister, but her name is also Sissy.

If you can take the heavy sexual content with some serious penis shots (probably the only time I will ever write those words!), the see this movie!  While Fassbender was nominated for the Golden Globe, he narrowly missed the Oscar nod, I am sure.

I saw this at the E Street Theater in Washington, D.C., a great venue if you are ever in that neck of the woods.

4 of 5 Horns for this full-frontal, NC-17 outing.

The Divide
This was my second flick at the E Street Theater, a midnight outing featuring the new movie from the director of Hitman.  Yep, that’s how it was billed.  What’s his name?  Who the hell knows!! (Xavier Gens if you’re following along.)

I will tell you that the more notable face in the flick was Michael Biehn…you know, Kyle Reece, Seal Team Commander (The Rock), Coffey (The Abyss), Hicks (Aliens), and so on and so on.  When his name showed up on the screen, the crowd went wild.

The film co-stars Milo Ventimiglia, Lauren German, Courtney B. Vance, and Rosanna Arquette.  Michael Eklund also stars and while you might not recognize the name, anytime you thought you were watching Ethan Hawke, but couldn’t find it on his IMDB page, it was probably this guy.

The rough in on the story is this…

We are introduced briefly to some of the cast and shortly after the end of opening credits, bombs start dropping.  More specifically, nukes.

Yikes.

Everyone starts going bonkers and a group of tenants in the apartment complex we are introduced to, start heading down to the basement.  A group of them make it to the huge steel door that lo and behold is being slammed in their face by the Super, Biehn’s Mickey.

Conditions are quite deplorable and panic sets in as the meager supplies Mickey has begin to run short.  Add in the fact that these people have no idea what is going on outside of the walls of their bunker.  Luckily, it is in fact a bunker…equip with a shower, a hole into an underground septic run, and enough space that when the story called for it, whoever was pissed could go off and sulk.

Now it gets crazy.

This film is deep-end, bat shit crazy and this film is polarizing to the tune of about 90/10.  I figure something in the neighborhood of 90% of the people who see this movie, will hate it.

There is a bizarre sci-fi futuristic element of this that I won’t spoil, but I will say that these elements intrigued me at first, and ultimately left me wondering what the hell I was actually watching.  A super cool aspect of this film could have led to something great, instead I just left scratching my head.

Minor spoilers to the depravity of this film follows:

Dismemberments.

Heavy sound effect laden defecation.

And a woman is raped repeatedly.  To Death.

Yikes.

At the end of the day, I really liked this film.  More so, I really enjoyed the sum total of my viewing experience.  It was greatly accentuated by the full house who were hootin’ and hollerin’ at all the right moments.  I do think that most were disturbed, but in the way that is great for this kind of depravity.  This film is destined for cult movie status at best, and I predict it will get a VOD release and that its theater run may be limited to shows like the one I caught.

Throw in the emergency rations cans of “beans,” well jelly beans, that the studio had sent for the screening, and this was about a perfect midnight movie in our nation’s capitol.

4 of 5 Horns for this demented, depraved, and genreificly enjoyable flick.  Yes, I was in the 10%, but heed my warning…you may hate this film.

The other option for the midnight movie option was The African Queen.  The theater was pretty jammed for both flicks and it gave me hope that folks outside of my home locale of KC are into movies…if only we could generate some excitement like this, KC would be a better place for film.

For now, that is all…until later, take care!

Reel Rhino

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