March 6, 2021

SPECIAL REVIST OF 2010 THE SOCIAL NETWORK REVIEW: With Talking Flick Appearance and New Episodes of East to West with Nick and Rob

The Social Network (2010) Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield Directed by David Fincher

"The internet is not written in pencil, Mark. It's written in ink." Rooney Mara (Erica)

“You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies” is the tagline for David Fincher’s (Fight ClubZodiacBenjamin Button, and Seven…all good BTW) latest film and it is quite fitting. The Social Network is the story of the Facebook creators and their long complicated road to the billionaire club…but that’s not really what it’s about, it’s really about you wanting to be like, you post something clever on Facebook and you sit at your computer looking at something else occasionally refreshing to see if anyone has commented or laughed at your clever post. You get so happy when they do and you crave more…you (and by “you” I mean all of us) want to be liked. Mark Zuckerberg (Creator of FB) really wanted to be liked, accept in your very early 20’s sometimes when that’s your goal, you do stupid things attempting to attain that goal. This film brilliantly depicts a man that loves to be an a**hole, but no matter how stoic he tries to be, underneath he really just wants to be liked (no spoilers but the beginning and ending scenes really spell it out for you). Fincher and Sorkin really do an excellent job telling the story they want to tell, making it both entertaining and frankly quite educational. I really liked this movie, now I am bias considering how much I love Sorkin (who wrote my favorite TV Show of all time in The West Wing), and how much I respect the filmmaking abilities of David Fincher. Even considering my bias though, I am hard pressed to find another movie that is quite as smart as this one in this year’s bag of crap that Hollywood has lit on fire and threw on our front porch so far this year. This film will be very near the top of Best of the Year list and I’m grateful for finally seeing a film that is both intelligent and entertaining…we need more…please Hollywood…no more Transformers!

The Social Network is the story of Mark Zuckerberg (played brilliantly by fine young actor Jesse Eisenberg who was great in last year’s Adventureland) who is the main founder of Internet juggernaut Facebook. When you invent something like Facebook you are “inspired” by many things (in this case a girl, an idea, and exclusivity, are few of them), but once your monster is created some of those people that inspired you on your way are going to want a piece of the pie and frankly they probably deserve it. The most important relationship of the film is with Mark and his best friend and partner Eduardo Saverin (played by the next Spiderman Andrew Garfield) who is painfully and slowly pushed out of the company over time. The most entertaining character however (and after he is introduced he dominates the film…which I think is ok even though the storytelling gets a tad hazy after he is introduced) is Napster founder Sean Parker (played well by Justin Timberlake P.S. go Youtube “history of rap” with him and Jimmy Fallon…BRILLIANT!), he really gets things moving in a direction where conflict is inevitable. Sorkin isn’t trying to hide any of the messages (or cautionary tales) in this film in nuance or clever dialogue, he actually makes a brilliant move by opening the movie with one major conflict and then all but spelling out another when Lawyer Marylin Delpy (played solidly by Rashida Jones) delivers one of the best lines of the film, Sorkin doesn’t want us to decide for ourselves about these guys, he wants to tell us what it must have been like to be a 24 year old billionaire. This film is great on so many levels and I do believe it has some rewatchabilty factor to it, I highly recommend it and think it is a shoe-in for a Best Picture nod. Now stop checking your old girlfriends relationship status and go see this movie!

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) “If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook” classic Sorkin, The Social Network is so well done and so clever. I don’t care how much of it is accurate, I care how much could have been, and how simple the conflicts are…this film is a very good 8.0 on the scale and could with time move even higher.

2021 Update: After 11 years Facebook has become only more controversial and this tale only becomes more Rewatchable. The Oscars rewarded The Social Network with a few wins (including Adapted Screenplay), but it becomes more clear that both The Social Network and The Fighter are more Rewatchable films than The King's Speech (winner). I think The Social Network is Fincher's last great film (tip of the hat to Mank), he works much less and got involved in TV/Streaming, but still the combination of the Ross/Rezner soundtrack, Sorkin script, and the near flawless editing of Baxter and Wall (Oscar winners as well for their work), is truly something special. For that reason this film will absolutely stand the test of time. It was a joy to cover it on the Podcast: SEE IT AGAIN!!! (2.8 Billion friends and counting...)  


BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY APPEARANCES ON TALKING FLICK!

Talking Flick on Anchor (The Social Network Episode)

Talking Flick on Anchor (WandaVision 1-3 Episode)

Talking Flick on iTunes (The Social Network Episode)

AND TRY OUT MY NEW PODCAST EAST TO WEST WITH NICK AND ROB!!!

East to West with Nick and Rob  (Our Votes are Sealed) 

East to West with Nick and Rob  (Viva la Walrus)



December 27, 2020

MOVIE REVIEW #71 Wonder Women 1984 With Talking Flick Podcast!

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig, Chris Pine, Directed by Patty Jenkins

 

***SPOILER FREE REVIEW***

“Nothing good is born from lies. And greatness is not what you think.” Gal Gadot (Diana Prince)

 

Patty Jenkins directed and did not write my favorite DCEU film to date: 2017’s Wonder Woman, this go around she pulls double duty and the end result is not as good as the first film which is fine. Jenkins had tremendous pressure laid upon her in 2017 after Zach Snyder underwhelmed with the overstuffed and expensive Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Seemingly, Wonder Woman needed to course correct and perhaps save the DCEU altogether. Funny thing about that unfair pressure on Jenkins in 2017 is she met it head on and delivered a truly great superhero film (made my top 5 films of 2017!) with a character that I would argue is not an easy sell (did anyone really think Wonder Women could lead a successful film or a franchise, I mean really??). So, having seen the sequel and read some of the hate (typical divided America loves to hate the DCEU) I can safely say to those haters, chill the f**k out, Jenkins gets a little leeway here, and if anything we owe her a debt of gratitude for producing the only fully formed superhero in the modern cinema version of the DCEU that has real flaws, shows growth, and that we actually care about. 

 

Director Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman and Monster) revisits Diana Prince (a still mesmerizing Gal Gadot) some 70 years after the events of Wonder Woman and some 30 years before the events seen in Justice League; in Wonder Woman 1984 (an interesting time period choice).  This time around Diana is up against (2) major villains, Barbara Minerva (played charmingly by Kristen Wiig), aka Cheetah and Maxwell Lord (a complex and manic performance by Pedro Pascal).  I often cringe when superhero films feel the need to overstuff the movie with too many villains, but this duo, though maybe underwritten at times, works well enough together. Whereas the first Wonder Woman focusses on man’s propensity to be violent and create war, the sequel draws on man’s propensity for greed (“the answer is always more” says Maxwell Lord). Complicating matters is the return of Steve Trevor (just another great performance by Chris Pine) to the franchise. Having Steve back satisfies Diana’s wants, but at what cost? I was skeptical of bringing back the Trevor character that I loved so much in the first in the film, but I have to say even with a shaky narrative about a wish granting, macguffin rock (anyone care how or why Max knew about the rock?), I was having enough fun that I just went with it. I appreciated that greed versus desire leading to a heartbreaking choice, served as the moral center of the film, which is further emphasized by being set in the decade of greed. I have heard the comparisons to Spiderman 3 which I completely disagree with, both Wiig and Pascal do a fine job with the villains (unlike Thomas Haden Church's completely confusing Sandman in SP3), I think they are complex and interesting enough, but Jenkins has to make choices about time and editing and if there is a flaw of the film, it lies there.  The flow of the film can seem choppy at times and I think though Jenkins shows a lot of the excess and greed of the 80’s, there are some missed opportunities in the film (come on Patty give us a few more 80’s tunes!). I actually loved that the climax, though goofy and a little hard to follow, was one without major violence or a truly giant set piece (that comes earlier in a fun car chase sequence that will leave your heart pounding) which is very rare in this DCEU and certainly un-Synder like (I criticized the climax of the 1st film for being too CGI reliant when it didn’t need to be). It is also noteworthy that Jenkins asks you to pay attention to the things that are said in the film, because if you don’t, you may not understand what is going on in that 3rd act. I certainly question the Cheetah and WW showdown, some poor CGI and a weird resolution make it less than spectacular, but I firmly believe Wonder Women 1984 has more good moments than bad in it. I couldn’t help but smile when Diana achieves the heights of her powers in a variety of scenes that to the unappreciative, may feel unnecessary. Jenkins really doesn’t care about brooding or darkness much, she actually doesn’t care about the rules much, she just f**king goes for it, and that more than narrative or style is what sets her apart from the Synder's or even the Favreau's. Wonder Women 1984 is a worthy sequel that reminds me more of Superman II than Spiderman III, more Batman Returns than Batman Forever. It dares to be a little weird, it challenges us to pay attention, and most importantly it makes us care about the protagonist.  Why is Wonder Woman my favorite character in this modern DCEU, because I care about her, and because I care about her, I hope we see more of her. SEE IT!!

 

 

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) WW 1984 is not as good as the first film and it doesn't need to be. Wonder Woman 1984 is a truly wonderful spectacle worth seeing in a theater so as long as you take precautions. Jenkins continues to do interesting and underappreciated work in film (See I am the Night, the TNT series). Although WW 1984 is far from perfect, it is still a very fun ride that achieves growth for the character and delivers a solid message. It is a worthy 6.5 on the The Shawshank Scale (and though she is taking on a Star Wars film apparently, we here at Reelwatchability.com prefer her in the DCEU where she should be running the show for all our favorite DC characters).  Imagine a likable Bruce Wayne or a Superman that shows growth, I firmly believe Jenkins can deliver that. 

 

 

BE SURE TO CHEK OUT MY UPCOMING APPEARANCE ON TALKING FLICK PODCAST!


Talking Flick on Anchor (WW 1984 Episode)


Talking Flick on iTunes (WW 1984 Episode) 



AND CHECK OUT MY NEW PODCAST EAST TO WEST WITH NICK AND ROB!


East to West with Nick and Rob

December 26, 2020

SPECIAL REVIST OF 2018 REVIEW SOLO: A Star Wars Story With Talking Flick Appearance (Star Wars month is back on Talking Flick!) and New a Christmas Episode of East to West with Nick and Rob

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, and Donald Glover  Directed By Ron Howard

What are the odds that Star Wars INC. is just a publicly traded company that will do anything to increase profits for its shareholders even if it means destroying (by over saturation and poor storytelling) one of the most beloved movie franchises in the history of cinema? Never tell me the…eh screw it. Solo (A Star Wars Story) kinda sucked (I don’t want to bury the lead here), Ron Howard (of F**king Apollo 13 and Gung Ho, two of my very favorites) sort of just showed up with half a movie already made (Lord and Miller of The Lego Movie Fame were shockingly fired after spending over a 100 million or so on stuff Disney deemed unwatchable) and he mailed the rest in. A few decent set pieces and some interesting performances could not save this shockingly inessential and frankly boring Star Wars film. I rarely go out of my way to attack a film but this film insulted me. I was always nervous that Disney was just piecing these things together after a shaky but fun Force Awakens felt choppy, then a weirdly edited Rogue One showed up only to be saved by a stellar last 15 minutes, a sloppy and bewildering The Last Jedi didn’t help, and finally the coup de gras, a sleepy, unenthusiastic Han Solo movie seals it for me, they are making this shit up in post (why they need to make 2 Stars Wars films a year is beyond my understanding, oh no wait: money).  Alden Ehrenreich is no Harrison Ford but doesn’t totally stink, his character is very poorly written however (what is his motivation again? Is he a good guy? Oh ok your literally spelling it out he is a good guy, please don’t show me the dice again…smh), Donald Glover seems like his Lando is in a different movie, though he is fun to watch, Woody Harrelson and Emilia Clarke are fine, but what are their characters doing again and why do I care? I mean there are double crosses that could be interesting but are never fully embraced, there is a cool heist film in here but its chopped down to a 10 minute set piece (maybe that train robbery should’ve been the whole film), and there are some fragments of character development (Thandie Newton was great and I liked the robot revolution stuff led by L3—37 voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge), but nothing is allowed to breath. Disney is so cookie cutter it can’t commit to making anyone good or bad except maybe Paul Bettany who is clearly counting his star wars bucks while evil laughing his way to the bank. We hop from planet to planet so much, (similar to Rogue One) it is hard to follow why we are anywhere and for what reason. Han is seemingly a smuggler who should be a cynical jerk but this movie goes out of its way to run away from that, giving multiple moments to things I’m pretty sure Harrison Ford’s Han would never do (I mean he would crash the Falcon for sure, but give away his loot…um no).  I may be grading Solo on an unfair curve but is it too much to ask to have a compelling and true to the character story ready before the cameras start rolling? Father son Lawrence and Jonathan Kasden  wrote this film, but I have a feeling they were noted to death and I’d bet my Lego Millennium Falcon their script is not what this film ended up being.  I wanted to like this film, I went in with an open mind, and I came out of it utterly disappointed, I took a week to see if I was being too reactionary and now I can safely say Solo is watchable for sure, but it is the first Star Wars movie you don’t have to see (not in a theater, not anywhere), and you will be fine.  Skip It!

 (The Shawshank Scale 1-10) I had a bad feeling about this film, for good reason. Ron Howard I love a lot of your work, but drop the IP stuff and stick with the biopics, never has the galaxy felt so far away. BTW the score was the worst ever in a Star Wars film. I give it a paltry 5.0 on the Shawshank Scale and I will list Solo as the first big disappointment of 2018.  

2020 Update: Upon another rewatch the 5.0 Shawshank Scale score sticks, I mean, it isn't quite as bad as I remember and the bar has dropped a little further since Rise of Skywalker came out and disappointed also, but maybe there is some room to grow to a 5.5 with time. A few set pieces are impressive and there is some interesting casting choices, but it is still a hot mess that it isn't a bunch of fun. I think the galaxy is better off focussing on other things. 

BONUS: TOP 5 STAR WAR FILMS FOR ME:
1.       Return of the Jedi
2.       Empire Strikes Back
3.       A New Hope
4.       Revenge of the Sith
5.       The Force Awakens

AND THE THREE WORST:
1.       Solo: A Star Wars Story
2.       Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
T     The Rise of Skywalker

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY APPEARANCES ON TALKING FLICK!

Talking Flick on Anchor (Solo Episode)

Talking Flick on Anchor  (Rogue One Episode)

Talking Flick on Anchor (A New Hope Episode)

AND TRY OUT MY NEW PODCAST EAST TO WEST WITH NICK AND ROB!!!

East to West with Nick and Rob (Ho Ho Ho Now we have a podcast) 




3.

December 10, 2020

SPECIAL REVISIT OF 2009 REVIEW: WOLVERINE With Talking Flick Appearance and New Episodes of East to West with Nick and Rob!

Wolverine (2009) Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber Directed by Gavin Hood

What I said then:

Well the summer is among us, this is what we all have been waiting for (by all I mean probably just me cause I love movies). The one who strikes first with a cool 87 mill on opening weekend...well that would be Wolverine. This marks a string of biggies that will soon follow...May 8th Star Trek, May 15 Angels & Demons, and May 21 Terminator (you know with the guy who flipped out on the set...are you f-ing serious you don't remember that!!) But right now is Wolverine's time. Hugh Jackman got stacked (does he know A-rod's cousin?) for his reprisal as the sharp clawed Wolverine. I am a basic fan of the X-Men movies. All three were solid, the 2nd and third better than the first. By the way this movie basically wants you to forget that Sabertooth (Victor Creed) was in the first flick (it won't be hard to do he was awful...like Bane in the fourth Batman). This is a prequel designed to give us the Origin story of the fan favorite "Wolverine". It does a nice job getting us to buy that vengeance, and war has shaped this loner mutant into the guy we all love today. It is a little sloppy around the plot points, but after Fast and Furious, I won't complain too much. the action at times is intense, and too often a little CG heavy. It is saved mostly by the good casting. The pair Jackman and Schreiber as rival half-brothers is pretty cool, though again the story is full of holes. We get a bunch of cool new characters...Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, has maybe the best scenes (though it is awfully reminiscent of Blade 3) and you miss him when he is out of the picture. Taylor Kitsch (from Friday Night Lights) surprised me with a nice portrayal of my comic book favorite Gambit. Danny Huston as Stryker, and Kayla Silverfox as Lynn are both fine as well. It is a swift 107 minutes, that is a little slow at the beginning but keeps you moving along after that. It contains plenty of action, though the editing is choppy and a little confusing. Also it tries really hard to connect to the other movies with Scott Summers (Cyclops) showing up, and a nice young looking Prof. X. Don't be pissed for a spoiler there...you had to know that was coming. Ultimately for the first of the summer it was solid. I thought it could have been done better, but i'm fine with it. I'm happy they got some class actors to do it, if they had cast differently I know I would have slaughtered it in a review. So get your popcorn ready...there's no way in the world I am not going to recommend the first of the summer flick...come on people get excited. Go see Wolverine! I give it a solid 6.5 memorable Morgan Freeman lines from Shawshank (as always out of ten), what if Andy Dufrane had cool Wolverine claws, then he could just cut out of the sewer filled with poop and piss...but then the scene in the rain wouldn't mean as much...sorry Andy can't make it easy for you...like that scene too much, no claws for you.

Food for thought: Would you believe it, I wasn't hungry this time. Up next for Jackman Drive, about a stuntman.

2020 Update: Upon further review this film does not hold up very well to Rewatchability, it lacks in several areas and is overstuffed to a nauseating degree. I still ride for elements of this film, namely Live Schreiber really bringing it, but Gavin Hood perhaps a little over his skis and maybe some sloppy studio interference makes for a watchable but messy ride. 5.0 maybe 5.5 on The Shawshank Scale, one of the worst Star Wars feature films. 

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY APPEARANCE ON TALKING FLICK!

Talking Flick on Anchor (Wolverine Episode)

Talking Flick on iTunes (Wolverine Episode)

AND TRY OUT MY NEW PODCAST EAST TO WEST WITH NICK AND ROB!!!

East to West with Nick and Rob on iTunes (Magnum P.U.)

East to West with Nick and Rob on iTunes (The Scottish Way)

September 7, 2020

Movie Review #70 Tenet (Plus I rank the Nolan films!) With my recent Podcast Appearances on Talking Flick and East to West with Nick and Rob!

Tenet (2020) John David Washington, Elizabeth Debicki, Robert Pattinson, Directed by Christopher Nolan

 

***SPOILER FREE REVIEW***

“It’s the bomb that didn’t go off. The danger no one knew was real. That’s the bomb with real power to change the world” Robert Pattinson (Neil)

 

Movies are dying, and the threat is not unknown. Tenet is the first film I saw in a movie theater since Covid and the theater was nearly empty. I don’t know what that says about movie theaters, or perhaps the world, but it is scary, so immediately that sad reality put me in a good head space for a heady, kind of bonkers Christopher Nolan film. Nolan who is now starting to seem seriously obsessed with the notion of “time” (MementoIntersteller, and Inception), seems like the right director to get folks back into the multiplexes (albeit distanced, with hand sanitizer, and a mask). The question remains, is the juice worth the squeeze in this case? 

 

Successful Director Christopher Nolan (Inception and The Dark Knight) returns to high concept (mind-fuckery) filmmaking with a bold and ambitious time looping extravaganza that will likely leave you scratching your head and asking wait, what now? Early on after a beautifully shot opera hijacking set piece we meet The Protagonist (A little stiff and kind of hollow John David Washington, but his performance grows on you), after performing admirably while under extreme duress he is recruited into a “save the world” type CIA offshoot agency, which remains mostly nameless and is code-worded Tenet (a palindrome like Hannah was in 2016’s Arrival). As The Protagonist finds out his new mission requires he change the way he see and think about things (“Don’t try to understand it. Feel it.”). Along this strange new time-bending journey The Protagonist is helped by a very knowledgeable agent named Neil (the best I have seen Pattinson so far, charming and confident).  Neil works to assist The Protagonist in trying to get to a man that may cause the end of the world, Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh with full Russian accent from Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit). Sator is an abusive husband who is holding his wife Kat (the lovely Elizabeth Debicki who often provides the film with much needed humanity) and her son essentially hostage. Plenty of Nolan Cameos and side players show up to chew up some elaborate exposition (Michael Caine, Himesh Patel, Clemence Posey, and bearded Aaron Taylor-Johnson), but mostly just in short spurts. This film is in some ways a buddy cop film for Washington and Pattinson, and it plays best when they are working together, moving from one action set piece to another. It is perhaps best not to think too hard about this one, unlike the first Matrix film, there is a spoon, but trying to know why it bends is futile. Nolan in similar fashion to previous works MementoInception, and Interstellar is purposely complexifying his plot in a way that lets him manipulate and bend the audience to his needs. It works, because we are all confused believe me, but once you know the prestige as it were, you sort of shrug and say um..ok, I guess? Don’t get me wrong, Nolan is an expert at sound and cinematography and this movie will leave you thrilled with some truly beautiful shots, and amaze you with thrilling action, but outside of one, maybe two moments, it really whiffs on several potential emotional opportunities. Nolan is a good filmmaker and a good writer, but he cares much more about the how, then the who. The said, Tenet will blow your hair back, yes it’s convoluted, yes, at times it is a little soulless, but it is still a fun ride nonetheless. SEE IT!!!

 

 

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) Tenet is a truly dazzling spectacle worth seeing in a theater so as long as you take precautions. It is also remarkably befuddling and confusing, so best not to try and process the plot, rather allow yourself to lean back and let it wash over you. I like Nolan, it is admirable that he is trying so hard to make the concept the main character in his films, rather than the people, but as a human, I still hope that he one day chooses to scale it back again, so that he may remember who and what we are doing all this fighting for anyway. It is solid 6.5 on the The Shawshank Scale.  

 

Ranking the Christopher Nolan Films:

 

1. Inception-Peak Nolan bends fun relatable characters with high concept.  

2. Memento-Another mind bender, so innovative in its time. 

3. The Dark Knight Rises-Endings are hard, so extra points for doing a good job.

4. The Dark Knight-A little convoluted, but still a great Batman film.  

5. Batman Begins-A worthy reboot that sparked a very solid trilogy. 

6. The Prestige-A fun ride with 2 great performances by the lead actors. 

7. Dunkirk-Interesting war film, still processing why I didn’t like it more. 

8. Insomnia-A dark creepy slow burn, setting is so key here.

9. Interstellar-Messy and long, but a beautiful messy and long.

 

 

BE SURE TO CHEK OUT MY RECENT APPEARANCES ON TALKING FLICK!


Talking Flick on Anchor  (The Jerry Maguire Episode) 


Talking Flick on iTunes  (The Jerry Maguire Episode) 


Talking Flick on Anchor  (The Spotlight Episode) 


Talking Flick on iTunes  (The Spotlight Episode) 

 

AND CHECK OUT MY NEW PODCAST EAST TO WEST WITH NICK AND ROB!


East to West with Nick and Rob on Anchor  (The Defense Rests)


East to West with Nick and Rob on iTunes  (The Defense Rests)


East to West with Nick and Rob on Anchor  (Bloody Mary's Afternoon Delight)


East to West with Nick and Rob on iTunes  (Bloody Mary's Afternoon Delight)

June 28, 2020

Blue Ray Review # 53 Batman v Superman (Ultimate Cut) Plus I rank the DCEU films. With Talking Flick Podcast Appearances!!

Batman v Superman (2016) Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Directed by Zack Synder

“I’ve killed things from other worlds before” Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman/Diana Prince)

When you get old in life, you have the benefit of experience. As a movie fan nearing mid-life (maybe I’m there already) I have the experience of seeing several movies about Batman. Some good (Batman 1989: See Review), some bad (Batman and Robin: Listen to Podcast), and some just odd (BvS). Bruce Wayne/Batman is a great a character, I love him, perhaps he is my favorite comic book character of all time. Bob Kane and Bill Finger knew they had something with this guy. See Batman is just a man in a suit, unlike Superman he is no God, unlike Wonder Woman he has no epic backstory, he is a tortured man, fueled by revenge and sadness. Because he is just a man, people relate to him, people want to be him, certainly people want to root for him. I don’t think I ever considered rooting against my favorite comic hero, then came Batman v Superman

*****Review Contains Spoilers for Batman v Superman*****

Zack Synder (Watchmen and 300) follows up 2013’s DC/WB success Man of Steel, with an incredibly ambitious story that I think was aiming to be The Godfather of superhero films. Bruce Wayne (A brooding and jacked Ben Affleck) witnesses the fight between Gen. Zod (Michael Shannon) and Kal-El/Superman (a serious Henry Cavill) and all the collateral damage around it. That sets off a series of events that will lead to the greatest gladiator match in the history of the world, sort of. Along the way a sniveling and creepy new Lex Luther joins the dark themed party (Mark Zuckerberg, I mean Jessie Eisenberg), a new Meta-human gets introduced (a shockingly great Gal Gadot), and Batman gets some help from a new Alfred (classing up the joint Mr. Jeremy Irons). This film has a million characters, and million plot layers. Although the story gets incredibly muddled (especially in the theatrical cut, see the ultimate cut, it’s worth the 31 extra minutes), it still has some of the most beautiful set pieces you will ever see in a comic film. Batman has incredible fight scenes, Superman really takes a beating from multiple foes, and Wonder Woman kicks freaking butt. Synder, Goyer, and Terrio are all digging really deep here, drawing from masterpieces like The Death Superman and The Dark Knight Returns comics to weave a cogent narrative together. Unfortunately they largely fail to keep the story flowing and linear.  

Batman v Superman should’ve probably been (2) films. 1: The Batman 2: Man of Steel 2, instead Synder and Warner Brothers clearly in a reaction to Marvel’s hugely successful Cinematic Universe, can’t hold themselves back from fast-tracking it’s DC hero’s into some kind of quick team up Justice League squad. BvS is massively over bloated, so many great characters and great actors are underused (I’m so sorry Lawrence Fishbourne-Perry White, Jena Malone-Jenet Klyburn, and Diane Lane-Martha Kent), and perhaps worst of all neither Superman or Batman is very likable (it's kind of fatal flaw). Here is the funny thing though, despite all that, I really enjoyed this film. I was sort of surprised that they got me to root for (boy scout Superman) over (badass) Batman, I kind of loved the injection of reactionary retconning (backlash from all the people complaining about the destruction in Man of Steel), and I even sort of admired the current political environment Synder was trying to demonstrate (though again not executed super well). Even more so, I FUCKING loved Wonder Woman, a character I never thought could work on the Big Screen this well, and finally, though a little cheap, (after spoiling it in the 2ndtrailer) I was impressed WB and Synder had the balls to kill Superman, even if just for this film. You see, after several years of Marvel films that feature almost no consequence, it’s hard not to give credit to Synder and the team for just going for it. Haven't you ever yearned to see Batman in the Mech Suit, how about Superman getting hit with a nuke in the upper atmosphere, ok how about Clark Kent's funeral then (and Batman's there!?), I mean haven't we all dreamed at one time or another of seeing that stuff on the big screen? Did it all work? Nope. Was it still cool though to see it? Yup. We all know the devil doesn't come from the ground, and it doesn't come from the sky either, it comes from the internet, ignore the trolls, SEE THE MOVIE and decide for yourself. 

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) To say BvS has flaws is a huge understatement, to say it is a good movie is also pushing it, but to say it is not only watchable, but Re-Watchable is something I can live with. After years of Marvel films that failed to take big swings, it was refreshing for me to see someone just go for it. I wish it had turned out a little better, I wish I liked Afflecks Batman more, or was given a little less darkness and a little more levity, but nonetheless I admire the ambition and was entertained by some truly stunning cinematic achievements I didn’t think I would ever see in my lifetime on the big screen with these characters. BvS is not the best superhero film of all time, it isn't a particularly fun watch (neither was the Godfather btw), but it is better than a lot of Marvel films, and it is better than anything Joel Schumacher made in this comic world. It is worthy of a 6.5 on the The Shawshank Scale internet trolls be damned!  

Ranking the DCEU Films:

Wonder Woman-She is truly a hero for our time. 
Batman v Superman-Messy, but in kind of a beautiful way.
Man of Steel-I had a hard time with the ending, but man he looked cool flying.
Aquaman-Crazy colorful and kinda fun, I dig it. 
Shazam-Lighter and breezier than any other DC film.
Justice League-An utter mess, but I still have seen it a few times.
Suicide Squad-Like a music video mash up rather than a cogent narrative. 
Birds of Prey-I honestly don’t know what they were going for here.


BE SURE TO CHEK OUT MY GUEST APPEARANCES ON TALKING FLICK!

Talking Flick on iTunes  (Batman v Superman Episode)

Talking Flick on Anchor  (Batman v Superman Episode)

Talking Flick on iTunes  (Batman and Robin Episode)

Talking Flick on Anchor  (Batman and Robin Episode) 

May 3, 2020

DVD REVIEW # 52 Ghostbusters (Plus my Top Five Ivan Reitman Directed films) With Talking Flick Podcast Appearences (Ghostbusters and Zodiac)!

Ghostbusters (1984) Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Ackroyd Directed by Ivan Reitman 

"We’ve been going about this all wrong. This Mr. Stay Puft’s okay! He’s a sailor, he’s in New York… if we get this guy laid, we won’t have any trouble." Bill Murray  (Peter Venkman)

Famous critic Gene Siskel once wrote “Murray blows away the film’s boring special effects with his one-liners” and though I don’t agree that 1984’s groundbreaking special effects were boring; I agree with his sentiment that they are not the driving force of the film. I’ve seen Ghostbusters a hundred times, maybe more. It is without a doubt one of my favorite comedies of all time and has flirted with my All Time Top Ten. The chemistry in casting, the value of concise comedy, and the overall fun ride makes it one of the most influential blockbusters ever made. I’ve waxed poetic about Ghostbusters so many times that it feels silly, but I’ve never reviewed it, so the podcast Talkingflick.com has finally given me an opportunity (Call it faith, Call it luck, Call it karma), so here we go. 

All time comedy Director Ivan Reitman (Dave and Stripes) helms one of the best comedies ever and changes the blockbuster game in the process. Ghostbusters (the Biggest film of 1984, beating out Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) is a clever blend of witty dialogue and fun character chemistry (think Swingers) with a super high concept special effects blockbuster. Truly the first of its kind and at a price tag of 30 million dollars in 1984, a huge gamble. Dan Ackroyd (who also plays the innocent Ghostbuster Ray Stanz) originally wrote a much stranger concept for him and SNL buddy John Belushi, but was able to scale it back with the help of Reitman and National Lampoon alum, Harold Ramis (who ended up playing Ghostbuster Egon brilliantly in the film). The end result was a wonderful mix that has been often imitated and rarely, if ever duplicated. Ghostbusters is the story of 3 recently defrocked scientists (Most notably the magnetic Bill Murray who feasts while Ackroyd and Ramis serve up softballs that Murrays’s character Peter Venkman can knock out of the park) who, with some luck, fall into a business opportunity doing what else: busting ghosts! As business booms, they recruit a fourth member Winston Zedmore (played memorably by Ernie Hudson), he serves as the kind of ordinary man POV character that grounds the film before it gets too far off the reservation. Zipping around in Ecto 1 (a remodeled hearse), equipped with nuclear accelerators strapped to their backs, the Ghostbusters are living large, that is until the EPA (Amazing William Atherton performance) and a god like demon named Zuul (Voiced by Reitman) threaten the city and Venkman’s to be girlfriend Dana Barrett (an electric Sigourney Weaver). The climax of this film is so charming (Stay Puft-its still genius), that questioning any of the science or hard edits seems futile. Ghostbusters entertains, charms, and inspires. Truly a one of kind film that has spawned over a billion dollars in off shoots (Great cartoons, solid video games, etc…). Ghostbusters  is one of, if not the best comedy of all-time film, of course you should SEE IT

Note: I very much look forward to Ivan’s son Jason’s (Up in the Air and Juno) attempt to recharge the franchise with 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife. FINGERS CROSSED PLEASE BE GOOD!  


(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) A true lightening in a bottle High- Concept comedy that has stood the test of time. Ghostbusters helped shaped the blockbuster era of Hollywood and allowed comedies to have a seat at the table (even expensive ones). Incessantly rewatchable, insanely funny, and immensely quotable! Few movies this short, this simple, can be so remarkably memorable. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Ghostbusters and give it a 9.0 on THE SHAWSHANK SCALE. (Don’t sleep on Part II, give it a chance!)

Ranking the Top Five Ivan Reitman Directed Films of All Time:

1. Ghostbusters (1984)-If you don’t smile ear to ear watching this film, you are a robot.
2. Stripes (1981)-There she was, just a walking down the street…
3. Ghostbusters II (1989)-Not as good, but expanded the world and I loved it! 
4. Kindergarten Cop (1990)-Ivan and Arnold work really well together, K-Cop is joyride.
5. Twins (1988)-Ivan loves one sentence pitch movies, this one with Arnold, super fun.

Honorable Mentions: Meatballs, Evolution, Draft Day, and No Strings Attached


BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY GUEST APPEARANCE'S ON TALKING FLICK!

As always, special thanks to Tyler and Producer Rian for allowing me a guest spot on Talking Flick to gush over one of my favorite films. We Came, We Saw, We Kicked its Ass!! 

Talking Flick on Anchor   (Ghostbusters Episode)

Talking Flick on iTunes   (Ghostbusters Episode)

Talking Flick on Anchor  (Bonus Zodiac Episode)

Talking Flick on iTunes. (Bonus Zodiac Episode)

March 15, 2020

SPECIAL REVIST OF: The Big Lebowski 1998 Review with Talking Flick Podcast Appearance!



The Big Lebowski (1998) Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore Written and Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

“Say what you will about the tenets of national socialism but at least it’s an ethos.” John Goodman (Walter Sobchak)

Legendary Writer/Directors Joel and Ethan Coen have a resume that is nearly second to none. Their films maybe aren’t always great, but you can be sure they are always interesting. These two auteurs have plenty of signatures in their films (same actors, anti-heroes, strong soundtracks, and weird endings to name a few), but despite those signatures, try describing their films, it isn’t an easy task. In today’s IP world Hollywood is trapped in, the Coen’s are a needed juxtaposition to the modern blockbuster. I can’t help but wonder what Joel and Ethan’s Batman would look like. How does a Coen brothers Dr. Strange film end? They likely will never get the keys to some comic/IP franchise like that (and probably don’t want them), but if we have to have these blockbusters 10-20 times year, why not let the Coen’s figure out how to Rise a Skywalker

Trying to describe the Coen brothers 1998 masterpiece The Big Lebowski is only going to get you in trouble (perhaps with the religion the film inspired-Dudeism). Maybe it’s a Western, maybe it’s a Noir film, in all actuality it doesn’t matter man, (mind if I smoke a J?). Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart, White Squall) in a life-altering role, stars as Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, a man who is mistakenly taken for Jeffrey “The Big” Lebowski (played perfectly by David Huddleston), and because of this The Dude gets caught up in a potential kidnapping/ransom plot, all while trying to roll his way past the semi’s in a local bowling tournament. He is not alone on this journey (though he is rather brilliantly in every scene of the film, in true noir fashion), John Goodman (Argo, 10 Cloverfield Lane) plays brilliantly Walter Sobchak (perhaps the greatest sidekick of all time, for all the wrong reasons), and Steve Buscemi plays the hapless and soft spoken Donnie, the opposite of his chatty Fargo character (Carl Showalter). The misguided adventure takes us all over L.A. (you know near the In n Out) and gives great actors wonderful dialogue to chew on. Julianne Moore shows up mid-film to steal a few scenes and the great Sam Elliot (playing a character dubbed The Stranger, but we think it may just be Sam playing Sam) adds a nice narration. The Coen’s themselves don’t think their movie’s plot matters much and neither do I, that said the more I watch this film (and I’ve seen it now nearly 30 times) the more I appreciate the rather linear story and the cool little easter eggs to previous Coen films. Frequent Coen collaborator Roger Deakins frames a beautiful looking film that changes style several times over and Carter Burwell and T Bone Burnett add an awesome soundtrack and vibe to the film.  One scene in particular has always stood out to me, John Turturro’s character Jesus Quintana (who is getting his own film The Jesus Rolls) dance sequence to the Gypsy Kings cover of the Eagles Hotel California, it may be some of the most memorable cinema I have ever seen. The Big Lebowski is so layered in nonsense and hijinks that it was born to be a rewatchable film. For that reason, it has earned MUST SEE status and comfortably sits in my Top 25 films of all time. SEE IT, BUY IT, it will really tie your movie collection together. 


(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) An amazing ensemble, a near flawless screenplay that is amazingly quotable, an awesome soundtrack, and perfect cinematography all add up to not only the best Coen film of all time (though I know they would disagree), but one of the best films of all time. It has a well-deserved spot in the Library of Congress and is certainly worthy of an 8.5 on The Shawshank Scale. Do yourself a favor, put on the jellies, order a White Russian, and enjoy.

Ranking the Top 10 Coen Brother movies of all time (cause why not!):

1. The Big Lebowski
2. Inside Llewyn Davis
3. No Country for Old Men
4. Miller’s Crossing
5. Burn After Reading
6. Fargo
7. True Grit
8. Raising Arizona
9. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
10. Barton Fink

Shouts: Blood Simple, A Serious Man, and The Man Who Wasn’t There. 

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY RECENT APPEARANCES ON TALKING FLICK:

Talking Flick on Anchor  (The Big Lebowski Episode)

Talking Flick on iTunes. (The Big Lebowski Episode)

March 6, 2020

Movie Review #69 The Way Back (Plus I rank My Top Ten Sports Films of All Time!) With my recent Talking Flick Podcast appearances!



The Way Back (2020) Ben Affleck, Janina Gavankar, Al Madrigal and Directed by Gavin O’Conner

“I spent a lot of time hurting myself. I made a lot of bad decisions. I have my regrets.” Ben Affleck (Jack Cunningham) 

Director Gavin O’Conner (Warrior, The Accountant) Co-writes and Directs this emotionally charged sports film with a steady hand. He allows Ben Affleck to use his own personal demons to drive a raw performance that turns out to be quite inspiring. O’Conner mostly known for his gritty and action-packed fair, has treaded some of this water before, in 2004 he directed one of my Top Ten favorite sports films of all time Miracle. O’Conner lets the thrill of victory and agony of defeat drive the narrative in Miracle, he at times does the same in The Way Back, only there are added layers of personal growth and redemption. I really like his choice to resist oversimplifying addiction and not running a straight parallel through recovery and success on the court. Both things happen in their own way, and in their own time. I found myself moved by both the choices made in the narrative and with the simple direction. The basketball scenes aren’t awful (though not great either) and the supporting players deliver when given opportunities. If you find yourself moved by this film, do yourself a favor and watch ESPN’s amazing 2011 Chris Herren documentary Unguarded, by Jonathon Hock (you won’t regret it). 

Ben Affleck (BvS, Good Will Hunting) plays Jack Cunningham, a broken man dealing with a family tragedy that drives him into isolation and alcoholism. Obviously, this role cuts close to home for Affleck who himself has dealt with several relapses in his own personally journey to sobriety. While down and out, he is approached by his alma mater (where he was a world class basketball star) to coach the basketball team which has fallen on hard times. Think Hoosiers meets Clean and Sober. The team is young, undermanned, and lacks discipline, but Jack is able to restructure and galvanize the squad through his passion and un-catholic like coaching style. As the team gets on a roll and actually starts winning, Jack is forced to face his past and his demons. Jack’s wife is played beautifully by The League star Janina Gavankar and Brandon Wilson stands out as Point guard and Team Captain Brandon. There are shades of Manchester by the Sea here, but not in a bad way, I had to let the tragedy set in for awhile once it was introduced, but once I accepted it, it was very moving. The Way Back seemingly has a common premise, but it does not play by all the usual beats you may expect. I was impressed that the emotional moments are not all packed into the third act of the film, but rather scattered about the first and second acts. I was also impressed how Gavin decides to end his film, not simply on a game winning or losing shot, not on a clean and sober Jack, but just on progress. Life is not that simple, and I think this film uniquely captures that (perhaps in doing so costing itself a tinge of emotional impact). The road to recovery is long, bumpy, and often doesn’t have anything to with a game winner or state title. The Way Back is not Hoosiers, it’s not Miracle, and that’s a good thing. SEE IT! 

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) I am always a sucker for a good sports movie and ever since I was personally touched by addiction and forced to educate myself on the topic, it definitely hits me right in the chest when I watch that suffering. I was pleasantly surprised by The Way Back, Affleck is as good as he has been in years and the film inverts the trope and does something unexpected. It is the best film of the young 2020 year so far and worthy of a 6.5 on the Shawshank Scale

Ranking the Top 10 sports films of all time (cause why not!) subject to change:

1. Field of Dreams
2. Jerry Maguire
3. Major League
4. Moneyball
5. The Hustler
6. Bull Durham
7. Miracle
8. Caddyshack
9. Rocky IV
10. Tin Cup

Shouts: Kingpin, The Fighter, Hoosiers, Seabiscuit, The Color of Money, Slap Shot, Remember the Titans, Rudy, Raging Bull, Rocky 1, 2, 3, 6, and Creed 1 & 2.

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY RECENT APPEARANCES ON TALKING FLICK:

Talking Flick on Anchor  (The Invisible Man Episode)

Talking Flick on iTunes  (The Invisible Man Episode)

Talking Flick on Anchor   (Rush Hour Episode)

Talking Flick on iTunes  (Rush Hour Episode) 

February 23, 2020

SPECIAL REVISIT OF: BATMAN 1989 Review With Talking Flick Podcast Appearance!

Batman (1989) Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Directed by Tim Burton

“Winged Freak, terrorizes…wait till they get a load of me” Jack Nicholson (Joker/Jack Napier)

In 2021 we are going to get yet another version of Batman (this time pairing director Matt Reeves with former Twilight vampire Robert Pattinson) and before that happens, I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on the first real effort to bring The Dark Knight to movie theaters. Tim Burton’s Batman film walked a crazy fine line, balancing a reasonable budget (35 million?, Zak Synder would have a heart attack!), a crazy producer (legendary nut-job Jon Peters SEE: Superman Lives documentary),  and bloodthirsty comic book fans and their expectations. I don’t know if Burton knew he was going to pull this film off, but its seemingly shot with this brooding quiet confidence that is unusual for such a revered property (Note: the new Star Wars feels like its shot with no confidence at times). Watching it all these years later (maybe the 20thtime I’ve seen it now, maybe more) is a reminder of what can be when the studio steps aside, when writers don’t check Reddit daily, and when you compromise just a little source material so you can write a fun and thrilling film. 

Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice) brings his unique vision to one of the most beloved characters in the history of humankind (move over Jesus! Batman may have got you beat). Burton delivers a satisfying and unique take on The Dark Knight that mostly holds up. Bruce Wayne (a stoic and slightly offbeat Michael Keaton: Spotlight and Spider Man: Homecoming) is a vigilante fighting crime in Gotham, while doing so he unwittingly creates a supervillain when Jack Napier (an absolute classic performance by Jack Nicholson: Chinatown and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest) takes on the persona of Joker after he falls into a chemical vat. Writer Sam Hamm (and others) makes an innovative choice, by exploring the origin of Joker, rather than giving a straight origin of Batman. The gamble pays off as Nicholson’s electric and fun performance (he reportedly earned something between 50 and 90 million for the performance) keeps the film thrilling and on track. Subplots with Vicki Vale and reporter Alex Knox maybe don’t age quite as well but both Kim Basinger and Robert Wuhl shine with what they have to work with. The Academy Award winning Art/Set Direction still looks great and this Gotham (a sort of postmodern pop art Gotham) feels very much comic, while also having a sense of real. Burton and his team give the nerds glimpses of the stuff they are dying to see (batarangs and batwings), but what you don't see sparks the imagination effectively and leaves us wanting more. Danny Elfman’s powerhouse score and Prince’s crazy soundtrack layer the film with a real energy. Sure, Keaton can’t really move around in the Batsuit, but come on, look at that Batmobile! The third act may have small problems, but stay with it, the ending is glorious and fit for the clown prince of crime. I believe even hardcore fans of Nolan's Dark Knight will find this film both memorable and worthy. 

The Nolan trilogy is very good, the Synderverse also has flashes, (No you suck Joel Schumacher!), but for my money Burton’s first go at the flying mouse really hits the bullseye. It is not only my favorite Batman film thus far, but it is also my #1 comic film ever. Comic films have come a long way, both with technology and where they are willing to go, but if you want a masterclass in how to make an intelligent and entertaining comic film, this is where you should begin. Where does he get those wonderful toys indeed…SEE IT! 

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) It truly is the film that certainly all Batman, maybe all comic films should be measured against. Hamm’s Script and Nicholosn’s choice to really have fun and go for it make for a lot funny dialogue and “Haven’t you ever heard of the healing power of laughter”? What keeps this film fresh is that even though it helped give birth to the many comic franchises we currently have going today, none of them have ever captured the highly stylized cynical genius that this film puts on the big screen. It is a beautiful rewatch and still worthy of 8.5 on The Shawshank Scale.  

BE SURE TO CHEK OUT MY GUEST APPEARANCE ON TALKING FLICK!

Talking Flick on Anchor  (Batman 1989 Episode)

Talking Flick on iTunes (Batman 1989 Episode)