Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tarantino's New Revenge Flick is Bloody Good Fun: Our Review of "Django Unchained" (2012)

Directed By: Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds) 

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson

Rating: R for strong graphic violence throughout, a vicious fight, language and some nudity

Run Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Synopsis: A bounty hunter named Dr. King Schultz (Waltz) tracks down a frees a slave named Django (Foxx) to help him hunt down the Brittle Brothers. Once that's done, Schultz agrees to make Django his full-time partner and to help him free his wife from the clutches of the evil plantation owner, Calvin Candie (DiCaprio).


Andrew: Hello readers! Last night Sarah and I braved a snow storm to hit up the local AMC and catch Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, Django Unchained, starring Jamie Foxx (Horrible Bosses), Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds), Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception) and Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers).

The film is about a slave named Django who is bought by a bounty hunter named Dr. King Schultz, who needs Django to help track down a few bounties. After finding that Django is quite good at bounty hunting, Schultz agrees to free Django, make him his full partner and help track down Django’s wife, Broomhilda, who has been sold to an evil plantation owner named Calvin Candie, played by DiCaprio.

It’s been making a bit of waves because of it’s liberal use of the N-word, because of Tarantino’s revisionist take on American slavery, and because of Tarantino’s classic stylized violence. That said, we’ve been looking forward to this film for quite some time and now that we’ve seen it, what did you think, Sarah?

Sarah: Well just from what I’ve seen of Tarantino’s filmography, which is pretty much just the two Kill Bill films and the first half of Reservoir Dogs, it seems like this one is pretty on par with the way he likes to do filmmaking. He seems to like his cameos in his own movies, doesn’t he?

But I really liked this movie! I LOVED Christoph Waltz. I’ve only ever seen him in Water for Elephants, which didn’t impress me, but I really liked him here.

Christoph Waltz (left), who won an Oscar for his role as Hans Landa in Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, scores another fantastic role as the bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz. Might another Oscar be in his future?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Chastain's Strong Performance Leads the Way in Bigelow's "Hurt Locker" Follow-Up: Our Review of "Zero Dark Thirty" (2012)

Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Mark Strong, Kyle Chandler

Rating: R for strong violence including brutal disturbing images, and for language

Run Time: 2 hours, 37 minutes

Synopsis: Maya (Chastain) is a fresh agent in the CIA assigned to the task force in Pakistan charged with finding Osama bin Laden. Through various means and over many years, Maya must find and cultivate leads, all while fighting her higher ups, world politics and the loss of co-workers to the war on terror.


Andrew: Hello readers! Sarah and I visited New York City for Christmas Eve, and while we were there we took the opportunity to find a showing of Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film – Zero Dark Thirty, an in-depth look at the ten year manhunt for Osama bin Laden following the attacks on September 11, 2011.

It’s Bigelow’s first directorial effort since 2008’s The Hurt Locker, which won the Best Picture Oscar and earned Bigelow the Oscar for Best Director, a first for a female director.

Sarah: Can I say, first, that this movie has an absolutely huge cast?

A: Heck yes it does, led by Jessica Chastain (Lawless) as a CIA operative named Maya, as well as Chastain’s Lawless co-star Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler (Super 8), Jennifer Ehle (The King’s Speech), Mark Strong (John Carter) James Gandolfini (Killing Them Softly), Joel Edgerton (Warrior) and Chris Pratt (Moneyball).

This is one we’ve been looking forward to for some time now. The subject matter is obviously pretty interesting and I was personally curious to see how Bigelow’s follow-up to The Hurt Locker would be. So now that we’ve seen Zero Dark Thirty, what did you think of it, Sarah?

Kyle Chandler (left) plays the CIA's Islamabad Station Chief, and Jason Clarke plays Dan, a CIA operative
whose specialty is getting information out of their detainees. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our Resident Stage Buff Says This Is a Near Perfect Film Adaptation: Our Review of "Les Misérables" (2012)

Directed By: Tom Hooper (The King's Speech

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried, Anne Hathaway

Rating: PG-13 for suggestive and sexual material, violence and thematic elements

Run Time: 2 hours, 37 minutes

Synopsis: A film adaptation of the popular Broadway musical, based on Victor Hugo's novel of the same name, about ex-con and parolee fugitive Jean Valjean (Jackman) and his attempt to live a straight life raising an orphaned girl (Seyfried) while evading the tenacious Inspector Javert (Crow), with a conclusion set during the June Revolution in 1832 France.


Sarah: Hello readers! Yesterday Andrew and I joined the merry Christmas Day masses at the movie theatre to see one of the holiday’s most anticipated releases – Les Misérables, starring Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfriend, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe and a whole host of other characters to put on this French revolution musical. Les Mis is a film adaptation of the popular stage musical that has been running for 27 years now and is just an amazing show. It’s one of my favorites, and if you’ve never seen it on stage and get the chance, it’s one that you shouldn’t pass up on.

Anyway, Les Mis is directed by Tom Hooper, who won the Oscar for Best Director two years ago for The King’s Speech, which also won the Oscar for Best Picture, and Hooper’s new film has also been getting plenty of award season buzz. So Andrew, now that we’ve seen Les Misérables, what did you think?

Andrew: Well I’ve never seen any version of Les Mis before. I’ve never seen it on stage, I’ve never seen the Liam Neeson film version from the late nineties, nothing. I haven’t even read the book. So all I knew about the movie was from what you’ve told me about the play. I knew the basic idea and some of the characters, like Jean Valjean being an ex-convict, Inspector Javert tracking him down, Valjean’s relationship with Fantine and Cosette, etc.

Seriously, the extent of Andrew's Les Misérables knowledge pretty much started
and ends with knowing Amanda Seyfried plays the older version of Cosette,
the little girl in the poster above.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Six Pack Of... Our Favorite Christmas Movies!

Andrew: Hello readers! We’re back from our vacation, and while being away from the blog for a week or so has left us with less fresh content than we would have liked, we promise we’ll be hitting hard during this week. Plenty of reviews will be coming as we see the big name, Oscar worthy releases that late December brings, but we’re starting it all of today with a new Six Pack Of… just in time for Christmas!

Christmas is Sarah’s favorite holiday, and one of her absolute favorite things to do is watch Christmas movies. And naturally, with this being a movie blog, it just makes sense for us to bring you a Six Pack Of… Our Favorite Christmas Movies! We’ll each chat about our three favorite holiday films, taking turns in descending order, starting with…

6.) Gremlins (Andrew’s #3 Fav Christmas Movie) 

A: I know some people will say, “That’s not a Christmas movie!” And I know it’s a bit unorthodox, but hear me out. First and foremost, the entire film is set during Christmas time. Billy (Zach Galligan) is even given the cute-as-hell Mogwai named Gizmo as a Christmas gift from his father. But I’ll never forget the following things after watching this movie the first time as a kid: Being alternately horrified and saddened by Phoebe Cates’ Kate telling Billy the story of how her father died while pretending to be Santa Claus; how cute and awesome Gizmo is (seriously, I’ve always wanted a Mogwai); the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs scene; and the finale in the retail store where Stripe melts away like the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The movie’s a classic to begin with, the fact it takes place during Christmas qualifies it as a classic Christmas movie in my book.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Listen to Us Talk About "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" on the As You Watch Podcast

Andrew: Hello readers! Yesterday saw the release of the first entry in Peter Jackson's new Hobbit trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. You can read our review of that right HERE, wherein we mention that prior to us seeing the film, Sarah and I had been guests on the As You Watch Podcast, and the main topic of conversation was The Hobbit and Jackson's original The Lord of the Rings trilogy. And that podcast episode has now been posted online!

We were honored to be the first guests to be on for a second time, and we had an absolute blast talking about these films with our friends Nick of The Cinematic Katzenjammer, Joe from Two Dude Review, and Vern from Vern's Video Vangaurd. So thank you, gentlemen, for having us back as guests. Now, readers, if you'd like to listen to the podcast, read on as we'll break down the different segments of the show after the jump!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Peter Jackson's Return to Middle Earth Falls Shy of Expectations for Many Reasons: Our Review of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (2012)

Directed By: Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) 

Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage

Rating: PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy violence, and frightening images

Run Time: 2 hours, 49 minutes

Synopsis: An unadventurous hobbit named Bilbo Baggins (Freeman) is sucked into taking part in a mission by Gandalf the Grey (McKellen), to help the dwarf prince Thorin Oakenshield (Armtiage) and his company of dwarves march to their former home in the Lonely Mountain and take it back from an evil dragon.


(Editor's Note: This is our longest review to date. If you're not familiar with our review style, the following is a transcription of our actual conversation about the movie immediately after we saw it. Fair warning - we talked for 40 minutes. Normally we go no longer than 20. Enjoy the review!)

Andrew: Hello readers! Last night Sarah and I were fortunate enough to catch an advance screening of Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated return to Middle Earth, TheHobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It is the first part of Jackson’s new film adaptation trilogy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” Sarah’s all-time favorite book.

Now, this isn’t one that we’ve had a chance to really delve into and preview on our site yet, though we have talked about it in some columns prior to this, and we recently recorded an episode of the As You Watch podcasts as guests again, talking exclusively about The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. That will be coming out sometime next week.

But we’re going to talk about this in a full review right here, and I get the feeling that this is going to be a bit of a lengthy one. So Sarah, like I just said, this is your favorite book, bar none, and we’ve had some hesitations and some excitement heading in. Now that we’ve seen it, what did you think of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey?

Sarah: I actually want to know what you thought of it first.

A: Really?

S: Yup.

A: Alright. I would say that…hmm…I guess in sort of a general sense, it’s a good movie but it’s not a great movie, and it certainly does not compare to The Lord of the Rings. Now, this is partially because the source material is more of a children’s book. It’s a 300 page book…

S: Not even.

A: It’s a quick read. And so a lot of the material for this film was also a bit light-hearted. This particular film is definitely more of a set-up of things that are going to come in the next two films, but they try and shoehorn in some action pieces. Some of those worked for me, some of them didn’t.

The acting performances throughout aren’t amazing, but they’re not bad either. I thought Martin Freeman (BBC’s Sherlock) did a really good job as Bilbo Baggins, especially later on in the film, I really think he hits his stride with the riddle scene with Gollum and thereafter.

But I wouldn’t say I loved this movie, by any stretch of the imagination. And we’ll get to this later, but we saw this film in the new HFR format…

S: We saw this in the format that Peter Jackson intended it to be seen in.

Martin Freeman (center) stars as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, previously portrayed by Ian Holm in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy 

A: Exactly. And they’re calling it High Frame Rate, which is fine. It was filmed and projected at 48 frames per second as opposed to the traditional 24 frames per second. But we’ll dive into that more later, but I’ll say this real quick – I didn’t like it at all. I hated it, to be more precise. But we’ll get to that later. Now…what did you think of the film?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Full-Length Trailer for "The Lone Ranger" Just Rode Into Town!

Andrew: Hello readers, I'm back with our second big trailer of the day, and this one is for next summer's big Johnny Depp action-adventure film, The Lone Ranger. After what seemed like years of development hell, and skyrocketing production costs while they filmed it, we finally received a teaser trailer a couple months ago showing Armie Hammer (The Social Network) in the title role and Depp as his famous sidekick, Tonto. Check it out and I'll chat about my quick takes on it after the jump:

It's the First Full-Length Trailer for Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel!"

Andrew: Hello readers! Today is a good day for trailers. We'll be posting another here shortly to share with you, but this first one takes a little more precedence because of its sheer epicness.

If you saw The Dark Knight Rises in theatres, you probably saw one of two versions of a teaser trailer for next summer's new Superman film, Man of Steel. Today, Warner Bros. has released the first full-length trailer, and if this doesn't have Christopher Nolan's fingerprints all over it, I don't know what does. Check it out after the jump and we'll talk about it after you watch it:

DVD Court: December 11th Releases

Andrew: Hello readers! Some of you might know this and others may not, but every week Sarah and I are called in for jury duty. I mean...well, not as in we actually go down to a courthouse and listen to a prosecuting and defense attorney argue over someone's crime. We don't do that every week. Could you imagine if we did? Yikes.

No, what I mean is that every week Sarah and I are called in by our buddy, Nick, over at The Cinematic Katzenjammer to partake as members of his 12-panel jury for his DVD Court column. Each week sees the release of a new batch of movies on DVD and Blu-ray, and each week we, along with 11 other movie blogs, give our personal rulings on whether you, dear readers, should Buy, Rent, Skip or Burn the new films that have come out for your home viewing pleasure. 

It's a simple exercise and one we love being a part of. So every week we'll be posting a link to Nick's site with its swanky new design so you can see what we and our fellow jurors have decreed.

This week's new releases on DVD and Blu-ray: Seth McFarlane's Ted, Ice Age 4: Continental Drift, and The Bourne Legacy.

Click HERE to enter the courtroom at The Cinematic Katzenjammer!

Friday, December 7, 2012

David O. Russell Makes the Right Call With a Phenomenal Cast: Our Review of "Silver Linings Playbook" (2012)

Directed By: David O. Russell (The Fighter

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jackie Weaver

Rating: R for language and some sexuality/nudity

Run Time: 2 hours, 2 minutes

Synopsis: Pat (Cooper) is released from his psychiatric hospital into the care of his parents (De Niro & Weaver), 8 months after beating up his wife's lover. In an attempt to get back together with his wife, Pat tries to become a better person by reading classic books, working out and agreeing to help a new friend, the recently widowed Tiffany (Lawrence), compete in a dance contest.


Andrew: Hello readers! Earlier this week Sarah and I took a day trip down to New York City to take in some delicious food from some of our favorite food trucks (shout out to Wafles & Dinges [@waffletruck] and Trusty Truck [@trustytruck]!) and to catch a showing of David O. Russell’s latest directorial effort, Silver Linings Playbook! Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro, it’s based on the Matthew Quick’s 2008 novel “The Silver Linings Playbook”.

Cooper (The Hangover) plays Pat, a Philadelphia schoolteacher who is brought home by his parents from the psychiatric hospital 8 months after he found his wife cheating on him and had a psychotic breakdown, which included him beating the crap out of his wife’s lover. De Niro (Meet the Parents) plays Pat’s dad, Pat, Sr., who suffers from OCD and who, after having recently retired, has become a bookie to raise money so he can open his own restaurant. And Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) plays Tiffany, sister-in-law to Pat’s best friend and a recent widow, who is also a little crazy and takes a shine to Pat. Basically everyone in this film is just a little bit crazy.

Sarah: Yeah…and there are a lot of other recognizable faces in the movie, like Julia Stiles (The Bourne Ultimatum) and Chris Tucker (Rush Hour).

A: This is a movie that we've wanted to see for quite some time. We've been hearing a lot of great things about the performances from Cooper, Lawrence and De Niro, but because it’s only in limited release so far we had to go to Manhattan to see it. Now that we HAVE seen Silver Linings Playbook, what did you think of it?

S: I liked it, but I believe that the strength of the movie lies solely in its cast.

Jennifer Lawrence (left) and Bradley Cooper headline a fantastic cast in
David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook Expect Oscar love for them.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The First-Look Trailer for "Star Trek Into Darkness" Is Here!!!

Andrew: Hello readers! Sorry that we've been a little slow in the content department recently. Now that college basketball is in full swing I'm a little busier at the day-job, and Sarah's picking up more hours at hers, but a lot of them are at night, so our movie schedule is a little screwy. But we're coming with two posts today and the first one we're INCREDIBLY excited for...

The "first-look" trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness, the sequel to J.J. Abrams' massive 2009 Star Trek reboot! Check it out below, and then I'll hit you up real quick with what Sarah and I thought of it:

Ok, so first thoughts when we first watched that? "Damn that looks dark and awesome!" Second thought? "Benedict Cumberbatch looks like he's going to be amazing as...Khan?" He has to be Khan, right? He's clearly out for revenge on Kirk, there's a shot of him sitting in the captain's chair on the Enterprise, and.....well, there's not much else to go on other than hearsay.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Brad Pitt's New Mob Movie Surprisingly Divides Us: Our Review of "Killing Them Softly" (2012)

Directed By: Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Starring: Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini

Rating: R for violence, sexual references, pervasive language and some drug use

Run Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Synopsis: Set during the economic crisis of 2008, when a mob-protected card game is robbed by some low-level crooks, the mob hires hit man Jackie Cogan (Pitt) to take care of the crooks.


Andrew: Hello readers! This past weekend Sarah and I ventured to a town just south of ours to see a morning screening of the new Brad Pitt vehicle, Killing Them Softly, an adaptation of the novel “Cogan’s Trade” by George V. Higgins.

This was one that has been on our radar not just because of its trailer, but we wrote a post way back when the first pictures were released for it because the premise caught our attention and it looked awesome.

Sarah: Yeah, when the first pictures came out, which was a long time ago, we were really intrigued by the thought of Brad Pitt playing a hit man for the mob.

A: Killing Them Softly stars Pitt as a hit man named Jackie Cogan, who is hired by the Mafia to dispose of a few low-level criminals who robbed a Mob-protected card game. Ray Liotta (Goodfellas) plays Markie Trattman, the mobster whose game is knocked over; Richard Jenkins (The Cabin in the Woods) plays the mob’s lawyer who hires Cogan; James Gandolfini (Zero Dark Thirty) plays Mickey, another hit man who Cogan brings in to the job; and Scoot McNairy (Argo) and Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises) play Frankie and Russell, the thugs who rob Markie’s game.

Again, this was one that had been on our radar, but now that we've seen it, what did you think of Killing Them Softly?

Ben Mendelsohn (left) and Scoot McNairy play a couple of low-level criminals named Russell and Frankie who are hired to rob a mob-protected card game. For the first 30 minutes of the movie they're the main focus, for good and bad.