Monday, April 30, 2012

The Director Watchlist

These are the directors I keep a regular eye on. They are on my radar. When I hear they're making a new film, it perks my interest. They're all in different stages of their career. Some of them are at near the end, some are just starting, some are right in the middle. Either way, I will update this watchlist whenever the previous starts to feel outdated.

director watch list

Paul Thomas Anderson, next film: "The Master" October, 2012
Wes Anderson, next film: "Moonrise Kingdom" May, 2012
Sofia Coppola, next film: "The Bling Ring" 2013
Quentin Tarantino, next film: "Django Unchained" December 2012
Jason Reitman, next film: "Labor Day" 2013
Alexander Payne, next film: "Nebraska" 2013
Darren Aronofsky, next film: "Noah" 2014
David O. Russell, next film: "The Silver Linings Playbook" November 2012
David Fincher, next film: unknown
Clint Eastwood, next film: unknown
Nicolas Winding Refn, next film: "Only God Forgives" 2012 or 2013
Lars von Trier, next film: "Nymphomaniac" 2013
The Coen Brothers, next film: "Inside Llewelyn Davis" 2012/2013
Alejando Gonzalez Inarritu, next film: unknown
Alfonso Cuaron, next film: "Gravity" November 2012
Pedro Almodovar, next film: "Los amantes pasajeros" 2013
Steven Soderbergh, next film: "Magic Mike" June 2012
Martin Scorsese, next film: "The Wolf of Wall Street" 2013
Steven Spielberg, next film: "Lincoln" late 2012
Edgar Wright, next film: "The World's End" 2013
Judd Apatow, next film: "This is 40" December 2012
Woody Allen, next film: "To Rome With Love" June 2012
Christopher Nolan, next film: "The Dark Knight Rises" July 2012
Terrence Malick, next film: "The Burial" (tentatively titled) 2012/2013
Noah Baumbach, next project: "The Corrections" (tv show on HBO)
Andrew Dominik, next film: "Killing Them Softly" September 2012
Ridley Scott, next film: "Prometheus" June 2012
Steve Mcqueen, next film: "12 Years a Slave" 2013
Guillermo del Toro, next film: "Pacific Rim" Summer 2013
Danny Boyle, next film: "Trance" early 2013
Neill Blomkamp, next film: "Elysium" March 2013
Peter Jackson, next film: "The Hobbit part I" December 2012
James Cameron, next film: "Avatar 2" 2014
Derek Cianfrance, next film: "The Place Beyond the Pines" 2012/2013

Obviously there are more directors out there, some who make films that I like. This list isn't made in gold, directors can be added anytime I want. This is just a general idea of what some of my favorite directors are currently up to. I'll revisit this again in June/July.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Why I Hate The Big Bang Theory


Ok now if you're a fan of the CBS sitcom "The Big Bang Theory" and you like this blog, stop reading. You're probably going to hate me. And look, it's not that I hate people who like The Big Bang Theory and I normally don't talk about TV shows on this blog anyway, but this is something I've been meaning to get off my chest for awhile now especially now that the show has entered syndication and is on TV almost all the time. I have tried to watch The Big Bang Theory quite a few times. I wanted to like it for what it was, but the more I watched it, the more I couldn't stand it. Seriously, I think it's the worst sitcom on TV at the moment. The characters are annoying, the jokes are incredibly lazy, and the storylines have been done over and over again in sitcom world. The Big Bang Theory doesn't offer any new or interesting twists to old sitcom formulas.

And yet, The Big Bang Theory is one of the most watched sitcoms in the country, just like Two and a Half Men which is another bad show. I don't know how CBS does it, actually. In the NYC area, it's channel 2. So maybe old people just can't find the strength to change the channel when they turn on their TV? But CBS surely isn't channel 2 in other parts of the country, it airs some pretty bad/mediocre shows, and it's still "the most watched channel in the country". Maybe it's because they're the only network that emphasizes scripted TV and none of their sitcoms or dramas have big story arcs. Their best sitcom is How I Met Your Mother and it's the only CBS show I can think of that actually does have a story arc. You can watch NCIS, CSI, and all their spinoffs at any time and never be lost. Still, there's really nothing clever about any of these shows. They have no moments that people talk about for days after their shows air. They do exactly what they're supposed to do which is make you laugh or keep you interested enough in the storyline that you won't change the channel. It's not that story matters on CBS, story beats do. That's why the shows are boring to me. They all pretty much do the same thing just with slight variations. I honestly do not know how they keep coming up with new scenarios on the CSI shows. And with their sitcoms, how many different scenarios can you come up with 3-4 single white people and their antics? A few years ago, the majority of their sitcoms were family-oriented. There was the stupid husband, the smart, bitchy wife, and the overbearing parents. But at least Everybody Loves Raymond and King of Queens had memorable characters. The only memorable character in a CBS sitcom is Barney Stinson. Oh, and Sheldon Cooper... but for all the wrong reasons.

The reason why I hate The Big Bang Theory isn't even because it's a bad show. There are tons of bad shows on TV, but you don't see me writing blog posts about them. It's not because it's a popular show, the most popular shows on TV are ones I wouldn't touch with an 80 foot pole. A show I used to love and adore so much, The Office, has gotten ridiculously bad and yet it gets the highest ratings out of any NBC sitcom that airs on Thursdays even though NBC has a KILLER lineup on Thursdays (seriously, 30 Rock, Parks and Rec, and Community are great shows... why hasn't America fully embraced them?). The shows that dominate the ratings on network TV these days are competition shows. You want to see some really great shows you have to tune into AMC, HBO, Showtime, etc. Cable TV is putting out some amazing shows, but with network TV, you have to really look for the diamonds in the rough.

So why single out The Big Bang Theory? Because the show is a fraud. The show actually has potentially interesting characters that could make for a quirky, cult classic of a show. It's rare to see a TV show revolve entirely around nerdy characters, but the problem with The Big Bang Theory is that, other than the fact that the nerds are interested in nerdy things, their wit and antics are so sitcomy. There's a lot of interesting ground you can cover with these characters, but The Big Bang Theory fails to go there. Instead, it's remarkably pedestrian. Furthermore, the character of Sheldon Cooper is just irritating. I can kind of understand the initial appeal of a character like Sheldon. He's a pretentious genius with many unlikable and anti-social qualities and that usually works in sitcom world. But the writers have never done anything interesting with him other than give him incredibly smart, pretentious things to say. There's no depth, no interesting quirks, he only exists to serve as a "comic" foil to his roommate Leonard. Plus, I'm sorry, but Jim Parsons does nothing except give Sheldon Cooper an incredibly irritating voice. Honestly, I can't take it for more than five minutes at a time. I have no idea how Jim Parsons has won two consecutive Emmys portraying this douchebag of a character. He's not unlikable in a funny way, he's unlikable in an unlikable way.

But it's not just Sheldon Cooper, it's the simplistic jokes that are peppered all throughout. Penny is stupid, Leonard is smart. Isn't their relationship dynamic hilarious? Sheldon is annoying, Leonard is annoyed by him. That's the show. Of course there's the two friends Howard and Rajesh. Rajesh is funny because he's...Indian, that's pretty much it. And the less said about Howard, the better. The Big Bang Theory takes these basic one-dimensional characters and they do nothing with them. They're all typical stock sitcom characters with no real personality. They only exist to make bad jokes. This is proven by the fact that the "audience" (or, laugh track) laughs every five seconds.  The show is a fraud because it presents its characters as geniuses who are interested in science and sci-fi, but the jokes that they make are so bland. The show is basically this: "Oh I get it, Sheldon said something smart... that's funny!!" Don't believe me?

Sheldon: I want to build a road, but I need wood. Do either of you fellows have wood?
[Raj and Howard chuckle]
Sheldon: I don't understand the laughter. The object of Settlers of Catan is to build roads and settlements. To do so requires wood. Now I have sheep; I need wood. Who has wood for my sheep?

That's comedy in the world of The Big Bang Theory. A dick joke, Sheldon doesn't understand it, he makes obscure reference, continues to make dick joke. Was that not enough? Actually, no...

Sheldon: Now, where were we? Oh, yes. Does anyone have any wood?
[Raj and Howard snicker]
Sheldon: Oh, come on. I just want wood. Why are you making it so hard?

It's not just a bad show, it's insufferable. It shouldn't surprise anyone that The Big Bang Theory is a bad show as one of its co-creators was behind Two and a Half Men as well (Chuck Lorre). He has succeeded in making a show that makes its audience feel smart even though the jokes are incredibly stupid. It's the same old average sitcom that CBS has been putting out for years and years. The characters are booksmart but socially retarded and that alone is supposed to be funny. The character dynamics are the same as they are in any other bad sitcom. Haven't we moved past this? Modern Family, The Office (back in its heyday), Parks and Rec, 30 Rock... these shows don't just have characters who exist just to make joke after joke. There are actual storylines, interesting characters, and the shows are way funnier. Not only that, the more you watch these shows, the more they reveal new, previously unseen depths to you. Arrested Development only lasted three seasons and yet it's still endlessly watchable. The typical CBS sitcom formula is just old and dry and there's nothing truly creative that are coming out of the majority of the shows they put out. The Big Bang Theory is its biggest offender because it disguises itself as smart comedy and yet it's anything but. That's why the show sucks.

Friday, April 27, 2012

This is Forty trailer

The new Judd Apatow film, the "sort-of-sequel" to Knocked Up. Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel star in it. Looks like Judd is continuing down slightly more dramatic territory although there's still that typical Judd Apatow humor. Comes out in December.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

September movies and a discussion on Hollywood's release strategy

The last two years have seen some pretty solid movies get released in September, which wasn't always the case. September used to be the dumping ground for Hollywood films, but now it's become an extension for awards season. Part of this is due to the ever-growing prominence of the Toronto International Film Festival as well as festivals in Venice and Telluride. The Departed premiered in September 2006 and wound up winning best picture.

Keep in mind, this is still a very recent thing. 2009 only had one good film released in the month of September. But then 2010 had at least four (Machete, Never Let Me Go, The Town, Easy A).

And then 2011 had the best September ever when it came to movies: Contagion, Warrior, Drive, Moneyball, 50/50, Take Shelter.

So what does 2012 have in store? At least two very solid, promising movies Killing Them Softly and Looper. Then there's "Trouble with the Curve" which features Clint Eastwood's first acting performance since Gran Torino.

Sure, three movies isn't nearly enough to consider September a great month for movies but I hope 2011 and the success of those three movies encourages more studios to release interesting films in the month of September. As of right now, January and February are still weak months for film. April has gotten weaker and weaker as the years go by. August had a brief run of interesting summer movies for the majority of the 2000s, but it's now starting to become a weak month as well. What does that leave us with?

March, for some reason, always has at least one big blockbuster film that serves as a precursor to summer movie season. Then May officially begins that season. This year, The Avengers gets the coveted first Friday of May slot. Then the rest of the month, you have Dark Shadows, The Dictator, and Men In Black III. June continues that string of Hollywood blockbusters, but lately, it seems that June has become a less interesting month for summer movies as opposed to July. Mid-July has lately become "Christopher Nolan time." As since 2008, he has had three huge films come out around that time (the third one being the upcoming Dark Knight Rises).

October officially starts the awards season. At this point, all the main festivals have come and gone (except for the New York Film Festival). Generally speaking, October has been a strong month for drama.

November and December are both big months for movies and they're almost always reliable months when it comes to finding high quality films. They have both blockbuster films for the holiday season as well as more serious fare poised to become Oscar favorites. Lately though, December has become a huge cluster for movies trying to get awards attention. In my opinion, this practice has to stop as not only do some good films get lost in the shuffle, but they also lose box office luster. Would The Adventures of Tintin have done better if it wasn't released too close to another Spielberg film? Could We Bought a Zoo have made more money if it was released in August or October? What about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? A dark film featuring rape scenes released on Christmas? As much as Hollywood wants to have counter-programming on Christmas, it just seems like people aren't going for that.

We will see whether or not Quentin Tarantino's film "Django Unchained" winds up being screwed over in the box office due to it being released on Christmas. Don't get me wrong, Dragon Tattoo did pretty well, probably as good as a movie with such dark subject matter could do and it at least came from a popular, best-selling novel. Django Unchained, however, is a completely original movie from QT dealing with slavery. Could it have benefited more from an October or November release? Inglourious Basterds came out in August and did amazingly well. Why not give it an August or September release?

The practice of Hollywood studios releasing all their best movies in December has to stop. It's ok if it's more controlled like it was in 2010 where movies like Black Swan and True Grit did great after being released in December. But 2011 just had way too many new releases and I honestly think it screwed some films over.

Besides, if Hollywood is going after the Oscar by releasing their movie in December, it's not working for them. The last December movie to win best picture was 2004's Million Dollar Baby. Crash, The Departed, No Country For Old Men, Slumdog, Hurt Locker, King's Speech, The Artist... NONE of those movies had a December release. They were all released earlier and then gained buzz overtime. December movies simply do not have the time to gain enough buzz and press to win as many Oscars as it could have.

It's stupid though, isn't it? That a release date is so important in determining a movie's box office and/or awards success? Unfortunately, that is absolutely the case.

Looper trailer

 Looks so good. September has recently become an underrated month when it comes to movies. I'll delve into that a little later. And WOW, blogger just updated the way you compose blog posts and they've made it really annoying and confusing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lawless trailer

No. 5 on my summer movies list.

Tom Hardy, Shia Labeouf, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce... Tom Hardy with an awesome Southern accent. This looks good. Comes out on August 31st.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Complete 2012 Summer Movie Coverage

Just to make things neater, here are the links to all my summer movie coverage so you can navigate through it better.

Top 10 Summer Movies to Watch

Honorable Mentions
Trailers to most of the movies
Other Summer Movie Notables

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cabin in the Woods review

This is one of those movies that's easy to write about because if I even think about diving into details about this movie, I'm spoiling it. Either way, I think I might accidentally spoil parts of this movie in this review so, if you want to go in completely cold, avert your eyes!

Cabin in the Woods is about a couple of college-aged friends who retreat to a cabin in the woods for the weekend. What can go wrong? You know this genre by now, lots can go wrong. But this film, written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, will show you just how far you can go with this sub-genre to the point where it's entirely flipped on its head. This isn't just a film, it's film criticism in narrative form. Fun? In some ways, yes, but it's not necessarily thrilling to watch.

In fact, I didn't really start appreciating the film until I started thinking about it and the different ways Whedon and Goddard went about this movie. They adhered completely to all the typical plot points of the cabin in the woods horror genre and that gave them the freedom to completely subvert the genre. The film is almost like that Fox special about ten years back where the magician revealed a bunch of magician's secrets. Except this time, it wasn't as infuriating and pointless.

So is this a good movie though? Well, it's great film criticism and it has some really fun twists towards the end where they really up the ante. It's a fun movie for people who love horror films and are knowledgeable of them. You should get a kick out of how they approach the genre. At times, though, it's a bit too tongue-in-cheek and meta for its own good. Still, this is definitely a movie worth seeing before you get swept up in summer movie season.

Grade: B

CANNES official lineup

Here it is. Some interesting ones in there, but it's a pretty healthy mix of American and international films. I'll talk a little bit about which ones excite me (not that I'm able to see them, but at least, we'll get to see what critics think of them).

In Competition:
"Amour" (dir. Michael Haneke)
"The Angel's Share" (dir. Ken Loach)
"Baad EL Mawkeaa (Apres La Bataille") (dir. Yousry Nasrallah)
"Beyond The Hills" (dir. Cristian Mungiu)
"Cosmopolis" (dir. David Cronenberg)
"Holy Motors" (dir. Leos Carax)
"The Hunt" (dir. Thomas Vinterberg)
"In Another Country" (dir. Hong Sang-Soo)
"Im Nebels (Dans La Brume)" (dir. Sergei Loznitsa)
"Killing Them Softly" (dir. Andrew Dominik)
"Lawless" (dir. John Hillcoat)
"Like Someone In Love" (dir. Abbas Kiarostami)
"Moonrise Kingdom" (dir. Wes Anderson)
"Mud" (dir. Jeff Nichols)
"On The Road" (dir. Walter Salles)
"Paradies: Liebe" (dir. Ulrich Seidl)
"The Paperboy" (dir. Lee Daniels)
"Post Tenebras Lux" (dir. Carlos Reygadas)
"Reality" (dir. Matteo Garrone)
"Rust & Bone" (dir. Jacques Audiard)
"Taste Of Money" (dir. Im Sang-Soo)
"Vous N'Avez Encoure Rien Vu" (dir. Alain Resnais)

Opening Film:
"Moonrise Kingdom" (dir. Wes Anderson)

Closing Film:
"Therese D." (dir. Claude Miller)

Un Certain Regard:
"Miss Lovely" (dir. Ashim Ahluwalia)
"La Playa" (dir. Juan Andres Arango)
"Les Chevaus De Dieu" (dir. Nabil Ayouch)
"Trois Mondes" (dir. Catheron Corsini)
"Antiviral" (dir. Brandon Cronenberg)
"7 Days In Havana" (dir. Benicio Del Toro, Laurent Cantet, Gaspar Noe etc)
"Le Grand Soir" (dir. Benoit Delepine & Gustave Kervern)
"Laurence Anyways" (dir. Xavier Dolan)
"Despues De Lucia" (dir. Michel Franco)
"Aimer A Perdre La Raison" (dir. Joachim Lafosse)
"Mystery" (dir. Lou Ye)
"Student" (dir. Darezhan Omirbayev)
"La Pirogue" (dir. Moussa Toure)
"Elefante Blanco" (dir. Pablo Trapero)
"Confession Of A Child Of The Century" (dir. Sylvie Verheyde)
"11.25: The Day He Chose His Own Fate" (dir. Koji Wakamatsu)
"Beasts Of The Southern Wild" (dir. Benh Zeitlin)

Out of Competition
"Une Journee Particuliere" (dir. Gilles Jacob and Samuel Faure)
"Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" (dir. Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath)
"Dario Argento's Dracula" (dir. Dario Argento)
"Io E Te" (dir. Bernardo Berolucci)
"Hemingway & Gellhorn" (Dir. Philip Kaufman)
"Ai To Makoto" (dir. Takashi Miike)

Special Screening:
"Der Mull Im Garten Eden" (dir. Faith Akin)
"Mekong Hotel" (dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
"Villegas" (dir. Gonzalo Tobal)
"A Musica Segundo Tom Jobim" (dir. Nelson Pereira Do Santos)
"Journal De France" (dir. Claudine Nougaret & Raymond Depardon)
"Les Invisbles" (dir. Sebastien Lifshitz)
"The Central Park Five" (dir. Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon)
"Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir" (dir. Laurent Bouzereau)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Magic Mike trailer

I had this on my anticipated summer movies list, but the trailer is kinda lame. Let's hope the movie turns out better.

Monday, April 16, 2012

On Whit Stillman

Whit Stillman had been incredibly elusive and under-the-radar after his third film "Last Days of Disco." A distinct voice in the '90s, his three films perfectly captured the happenings of these young urban-haute bourgeoisie characters. His depiction of these characters were both genuine and revealing. The biggest strength of cinema is being able to shed light on a culture or group of people that normally aren't displayed. Nobody wanted to see a movie about young wealthy WASPy people talking about Jane Austen novels or Fourier until Whit Stillman came along. He manages to do so in a very welcoming and inviting way, evoking the styles of Woody Allen or Ernst Lubitsch.

But Stillman's characters, while intelligent, are also deserving of ridicule. While "Metropolitan" puts these aforementioned characters in full display, they surely are not without some faults. We hear Tom Townsend go off on the immorality Jane Austen's "Mansfield Park" but later we find out that he's never read a single Austen novel. He only reads literary criticisms. The bottom line is that although the characters of "Metropolitan" are intelligent and thoughtful, they're still also college kids. In a lot of ways, they're naive and idealistic and it's fun to see Whit Stillman play with that dynamic.

Stillman took those same character-types and transported them to his later two films "Barcelona" and "Last Days of Disco." The reason why Whit Stillman's films linger around today are because they all relate to each other. You may not relate to or particularly like Stillman's characters but after spending three movies with them, you get to know them and, at the very least, understand how they think and what makes them tick. Stillman's style is reminiscent of Woody Allen, but he's very much his own man. The only person who comes close to emulating his style is Noah Baumbach with his early films "Kicking and Screaming" and "Mr. Jealousy." Still, this is quite a difference between Baumbach's depiction of these characters and Stillman's. To watch Stillman's first three films is to enter a very intricately detailed world and when "Last Days of Disco" ends with random people dancing and having a good time while on NYC subways, you can't help but smile and be somewhat charmed.

If I were to rate and grade those three films...


On my top 100 films of the '90s list for a good reason and I already kind of go into the film's strengths earlier in this post. But Metropolitan is arguably Stillman's best work because it's his most relaxed film and his least plot-centric. He allows his characters to just breathe and shoot the shit. And again, it's not that they're just wealthy, young, intelligent characters talking about intelligent things, they're flawed and eccentric. But their eccentricities make them human and when you watch Metropolitan a second or third time, you feel like you really know them.

Grade: A


Barcelona's strengths are in its characterizations, but it kind of goes awry in the third act. Stillman's light style feels ill-suited for the way the last act of this film unfolds. Regardless, Chris Eigeman, one of the main stars of the film, is so fun to watch in this film, much like he was in Metropolitan. He really is Whit Stillman's weapon. The way he's able to take Stillman's words and add a touch of his biting, cynical tone, it's just beautiful.

Grade: B

Last Days of Disco

His third film, Last Days of Disco is just a touch below Metropolitan in terms of quality. They're two different movies but still contain exceptional dialogue. In fact, Disco might have some of Stillman's best dialogue in any of his films. When your characters can go into a detailed analysis of Lady and the Tramp without sounding like fools, then you're doing something right. Disco contains Chris Eigeman again but also has Chloe Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale. The intelligence and confidence that Kate Beckinsale displays here makes you wonder why she's been wasting her career with such shitty films. She's great here.

Grade: A-

Whether or not you like Stillman's films take on young UHBs, the fading Disco scene of the early '80s, or American relations in Spain, the charm and wit is what remains the same. A lot of people, after having watched Stillman's films, come to the conclusion that he's a conservative Republican. That may be true, but that's also what makes his films and their perspectives unique. Even so, there's not a hint of smugness in Stillman's commentary, although there is in Stillman's characters.

How does Damsels in Distress compare to his original three films? It's kinda below Barcelona, to be honest. It's not that it's his worst film, far from it, it's just that it's so incredibly light and filled with whimsy and it misses the more earnest characterizations that were on display in Whit's earlier films. As I said in that review, I hope it's just the first step in what hopes to be many more Stillman films in the future because I think his voice needs to be displayed more in this current generation.

Plus, his first three films contained Chris Eigeman, who is brilliant in all of them. It makes you wonder why the actor never really took off in other ventures. He also starred in Noah Baumbach's first few films. In those five films combined, he really cultivated quite a personality, even if they were riffs on the same personality. I really hope Stillman will bring him back in a big way in the future as I really think he was key to making Whit Stillman's films in the '90s so fun to watch. In fact, when Chris's character Nick in Metropolitan leaves at around the 75 minute mark, you can kinda the feel his lack of presence in the rest of the film. Even Tom Townsend asks "What would Nick do?" late in the film when he and Charlie are stuck in a bad situation.

So, I welcome back Whit Stillman with open arms. He creates characters that, at times, I dislike, and yet I would love to have conversations with. Even though Damsels was kind of his weakest film (I still gave it a B), it definitely reminded me why I liked him so much in the first place. Let's just hope he doesn't go off and disappear for another long period of time.

Check out my review of Damsels in Distress here

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I have created a new page

This is just for professional purposes. I'll be posting my own work, stuff about me, etc...

Visit the site and I'll occasionally post about me, about my own film projects, what I'm doing, etc... It should be fun. I'll be posting on KenonCinema more often, but still check it out if you like this blog.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Other Summer Movie Notables

In parenthesis is my interest level of each movie that I mention, some have explanations, some don't.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Interest Level: 3/10)

God Bless America (Interest Level: 6/10)
Bobcat Goldthwait's newest film and I'm pretty ambivalent on it. I like Bobcat as a director, but not enough to go out of the way to seek out his films.

Battleship (Interest Level: 2/10)
Are you kidding me?

What to Expect When You're Expecting (Interest Level: 0/10)


Snow White and the Huntsman (Interest Level: 4/10)
Overall, I just don't think Snow White is that interesting of a character. The Disney classic is one thing, but other than that, I don't really care.

Pirahna 3DD (Interest Level: 2/10)
Pirahnha 3D actually had decent reviews, but... meh

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (Interest Level: 2/10)
Not crazy about the Madagascar franchise

Safety Not Guaranteed (Interest Level: 6/10)
An indie comedy-drama that looks kinda pretentious and takes hipsterness to a new level. I like Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza, but unless I hear great things, I'll have to pass.

Rock of Ages (Interest Level: 2/10)
Hmm, do I want to see some of my favorite rock songs re-done so they sound wimpier than songs sung by Kidz Bop? No thanks. Not even the promise of getting to see Tom Cruise sing can't get me to see this film.

That's My Boy (Interest Level: 5/10)
I'll admit it, even though Sandler's movies have been beyond awful as of late, this looks like it could be halfway decent. Still, I think I'll wait til I can rent it.

Your Sister's Sister (Interest Level: 7/10)
I actually might see this when it comes out. This little indie film may actually be good, but I need to see and hear more about this film before I pay 12.50 to see it.

Seeking a Friend at the End of the World (Interest Level: 6/10)
I love Steve Carrell, I like Keira Knightley, but this film doesn't look all that great and I'm not a big fan of "end of the world" settings. I might see it, but I'll probably wait til rental.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Interest Level: 0/10)


Ice Age: Continental Drift (Interest Level: 3/10)
Like the Madagascar movies, I find it hard to get excited over this.


360 (Interest Level: 6/10)
Directed by Fernando Meirelles, this might actually be good and I might want to see it but it's been awhile since I've been interested in a Meirelles film. He has to dazzle me again.

The Expendables 2 (Interest Level: 1/10)
I know people who liked the first Expendables movies, personally, I couldn't give a shit.

Premium Rush (Interest Level: 6/10)
Pushed back to August to capitalize on Joseph Gordon-Levitt being in the third batman movie, this really doesn't look like much of a thriller. But August is kind of a weak month and if it gets good reviews, I might go ahead and see it.

Movie Trailers for the Films I Just Talked About

Some of the movies I just talked about have no trailers yet, but here's the trailers to rest of them. When those other movies do come out with trailers, I'll make sure to post them ASAP.

The Dark Knight Rises:


The Avengers:

Moonrise Kingdom:


The Amazing Spider-Man:

To Rome With Love:


Take This Waltz:

Bourne Legacy:

Men in Black 3:

The Dictator:

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Dark Shadows

Neighborhood Watch

Total Recall


Top 10 Summer Movies to Watch

What's interesting about this summer and what could make it one of the best movie summers in quite some time is that, while there are still quite a few tentpole films, there's also plenty of variety. It's not just sequel after sequel. Interesting filmmakers are making interesting films this summer.

10. Savages
July 6th

Oliver Stone of the past ten years has been wildly inconsistent. Any Given Sunday was fun, but after that, he really started to go downhill. Alexander, World Trade Center, W, Wall Street 2... they're all just kinda uninteresting. There's no gusto, no controversy. I often forget W was ever made, so do most other people. But "Savages" is a rare genre film from the once-great filmmaker. A sexy crime-thriller with a great cast (Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively, Uma Thurman, Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta, Emile Hirsch). Will "Savages" be the return of Oliver Stone's swagger? I hope so.

9. To Rome With Love
June 22nd

Speaking of returned swagger, Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" wasn't just one of his best films of the last decade, it was his most successful film... ever. The trailer for To Rome With Love looks fun and it has a great cast (Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Benigni, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page) . Even Woody Allen is stepping in front of the camera again and whenever he chooses a new location in Europe to shoot in, he usually comes out with something good. Two good Woody Allen films in a row tends not to happen, but I have a good feeling about this one.

8. The Amazing Spider-Man
July 3rd

I really don't know about this one but I like Andrew Garfield. Marc Webb, the director, is a wild card. 500 Days of Summer was a great film, lots of fun, but can he do a big-budget blockbuster superhero film? This is a huge challenge as the Sam Raimi Spider-Man is still very present in people's minds. It was only five years ago since Spider-Man 3. Will The Amazing Spider-Man be a refreshing return to form for Spider-Man? It better be, or else, where do they go from there?

7. Brave
June 22nd

Keeping in line with the return to form theme of this list, Brave should be a return to form for Pixar. At this point, it's hard not to look forward to the next Pixar movie as long as it's not another Cars movie. Brave will be their first fantasy film and their first film with a girl being the main character. It was only two years ago when Pixar was at the height of their greatness (with Toy Story 3). Can they get back there with Brave?

6. Magic Mike
June 29th

[no poster yet]

One of Steven Soderbergh's last films will also be a pretty peculiar one. I know it's kind of weird for a guy to look forward to a movie about male strippers, but Soderbergh is the right guy for a film like this. Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey star in this film. This is perhaps one of the most intriguing films to come out this year. If you're uncomfortable with your sexuality, just bring a woman to this movie. Afterward, tell her you liked it because you appreciated the cinematography.

5. Lawless
August 31st

[no poster yet]

A film formerly known as "The Wettest County" is now called Lawless, but that shouldn't take away from what could be a movie that garners serious awards attention at the end of the year. Not only that, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, and Gary Oldman star in this western/gangster film mashup. Definitely keep an eye out on this film when it comes out at the end of the summer.

4. Moonrise Kingdom
May 25th

I'm sorry, but for me, Moonrise Kingdom looks freakin' awesome. Those who are familiar with and are fans of Wes Anderson should definitely be looking forward to this. Judging from the trailer, this looks like it could be Wes Anderson at his most fun and imaginative. It looks wonderfully shot and it has such a great cast (Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel). Whatever you think of Wes Anderson, you have to admit this looks like his most interesting and funnest film in years.

3. The Avengers
May 4th

Well, it's finally happening. We're finally getting the Avengers movie. Written and directed by Joss Whedon, we've seen all these superheroes' individual stories and now we'll get to see Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America together as well as a few other characters. This is what all the other Marvel films were a prelude to so let's hope we are left with something truly satisfying.

2. Prometheus
June 8th

The Avengers would've been number 2 but the marketing for Prometheus has been outstanding. Something about this film makes it feel like this could be Ridley Scott's best film in a long time. It has the right atmosphere, it has that hint of the possibility that this relates to the Alien franchise. Ridley Scott's first sci-fi film in 30 years. There's a lot going on with this film and it looks amazing judging by the trailers.

1. The Dark Knight Rises
July 20th

This is a pretty obvious one. The Dark Knight Rises is easily my most anticipated film, it has been since The Dark Knight came out. Some aspects of the trailer that came out left me scratching my head but I'm hoping it'll all make sense and come together well enough when it comes out in July. Christopher Nolan's final stamp on the Batman franchise, I don't expect it to be as good as The Dark Knight because Heath Ledger was a force to be reckoned with in that film. Regardless, this should be the movie event of the summer, an easy number 1 pick.

next up: movie trailers

[Note: not all of the 20 movies I talked about have trailers yet]

Noah coming out March 28th, 2014

Darren Aronofsky's next film, the big-budgeted biblical tale "Noah" starring Russell Crowe comes out March 28th, 2014. Man, that's a long time from now. Just less than two years, to be exact. It'll come out almost three and a half years after Black Swan. It's cool that we definitely know what his next project will be, but damn, what a long wait!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Prelude to my Top 10 Summer Movies to Watch list

So before I go ahead and unleash the top 10 movies I am looking forward to this summer, let me show you my ten honorable mentions.

20. Ted
July 13th

I like Mark Wahlberg in comedies. He has an earnestness that makes him suitable for comedy because he's normally a very dramatic actor, he's able to transport the sincerity into comedy and sort of lampoon that persona. Here in Seth MacFarlane's Ted, he looks to be doing that except with an imaginary bear named Ted. Oh wait, it's not imaginary, it's very real. This is Seth MacFarlane we're talking about. Ted really just seems like a cruder version of Brian from Family Guy. We'll see if MacFarlane's comedic style translates well to feature film. The combo of Wahlberg and the fact that this is Seth MacFarlane's first movie has perked my interest.

19. Total Recall
August 3rd

I have to be honest: despite my respect for Colin Farrell as he's really steered his career in the right path over the last five years, a Total Recall reboot is just something I'm not too thrilled about. Part of what I love about the 1990 version of Total Recall is its campiness, the Paul Verhoeven style of violence that he perfected in Robocop. But this is Len Wiseman at the helm, as in, director of the Underworld franchise that nobody really cares about. He also directed the fourth Die Hard film. This looks overdone, but could this possibly be good still? Sure.

18. Neighborhood Watch
July 27th

Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade... the combination of the film's fun concept and great cast could make this a fun comedy to watch this summer.

17. The Campaign

No trailer out for this one but Will Ferrell and Zach Galifiankis co-starring in a movie that has them playing opposing candidates for an election? Trailer should be dropping real soon, we'll see if it's as funny as I hope it'll be.

16. Dark Shadows
May 11th

I have to say, like most recent Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaborations, I am not very excited about this one either. I feel like Tim Burton movies are just a part of one larger movie. While Sweeney Todd was at least interesting, Burton has relied on too much comedy to support his gothic atmosphere. This looks to be no different. Still, at least it's not a remake of a classic so it has that going for it.

15. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
June 22nd

Sure, the idea of the movie is funny. No, the title of the movie is funny, but can the movie actually follow through on its premise? Will it go beyond what could easily just be a lousy gimmick that wears out its welcome within 15 minutes or can it go the distance? I'm intrigued, but I'm proceeding this movie with caution.

14. The Dictator
May 18th

This movie is closer to Sacha Baron Cohen's first movie Ali G Indahouse than his two other movies, but you know what? I'm kinda getting warmed up to this new character and the movie itself looks pretty funny, albeit kinda stupid. But Sacha Baron Cohen's comedy isn't stupid even if some of his ideas may be. There's always something a message or a point that he wants to get across. We'll see if this movie will be like that or if it'll just be a silly comedy.

13. Men in Black III
May 25th

Will Smith doesn't necessarily look older, but it has been three and a half years since his last movie and he kinda looks... different. His face looks like it's gotten bigger or something, I don't know. I have to say, despite the fact that there's been a lot of backstory on the third MIB movie, the trailer makes it look like it can be pretty decent. Still, once you hear how they pretty much were making shit up as they went along and Will Smith made all these demands, kinda makes you wonder just how good this could be.

12. The Bourne Legacy
August 3rd

Another giant question mark. Jeremy Renner is a phenomenal actor, he really is, but can he follow Matt Damon in the Bourne franchise? He's always been good as a villain or an anti-hero, can he play this role right? If the lead actor wasn't Renner and the director wasn't Tony Gilroy who has made some interesting movies in the past, I would pass on this one altogether. But I don't know... this might be good. We'll have to wait and see.

11. Take This Waltz
June 29th

I like to pay attention to small indie films that come out in the midst of all the summer craziness. Sometimes it's nice to see a movie that's not just manufactured by Hollywood. Sarah Polley wrote and directed this film, her second, and after seeing Away From Her, I definitely can't wait for this one. Plus, Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, and Sarah Silverman in a drama... definitely intrigued by this one. Having said that, I must say, the premise of a happily married woman falling for another man kinda irks me, as a married man. But love and relationships are complex, yadda yadda yadda, Michelle please don't cheat on Seth Rogen... for me.

And of course I don't know just what goes on in this movie, but just speak generally and frankly, once you find out the woman is married... STOP. Don't pry your bullshit into her "happily married" life. And if she tries to see you again, ignore her. Why ruin someone else's marriage? Ok, I'll stop there.


I hadn't made a post in over 12 days, I'm sorry for that. There are times when there's just too much going on for me to update this on a regular basis, even though I enjoy doing so. Plus, no movies in April has really peaked my interest except for Five Year Engagement which comes out later this month. That said, there looks to be some good reviews for Cabin in the Woods which surprises me. But my point is, expect more updates in the next few weeks. I promise to get back on track!

Damsels in Distress: a very whimsical, light comedy

It's been over two years now since I first discovered her, but I really think I'm starting to fall in love with Greta Gerwig... as an actress, of course. There's something about her personality that just seems like a natural fit for indie comedy or drama. She's kinda like a less bitchy Parker Posey. Parker Posey was like in every indie film of the '90s, I can easily see Gerwig going down that same route. She practically already has. Her role as Violet Wister in "Damsels in Distress" is her at the peak of her powers (so far). Violet Wister is such an arrogant, pretentious, insane mess and Greta totally makes it work. There's an earnestness in Violet Wister, as if she truly believes every word that she says, that she becomes a likable character to me.

But Greta Gerwig's performance in Damsels is not the only story here and there are some great performances here from some fresh female faces: Analeigh Tipton, Megalyn Echikunwoke, and Carrie MacLemore. The four of them together seem to naturally click which is important to have in a Whit Stillman comedy.

Whit Stillman, that is who/what I was referring to in the beginning of my last sentence. This is Whit Stillman's first film since 1998 when he came out with the very underrated "Last Days of Disco." Whit Stillman has a very particular style: you either like it or you don't. I have become rather fond of his three '90s films with his first one, Metropolitan, being my favorite. Damsels in Distress doesn't come close to being his "best work," but it's a very welcome return for a unique and intelligent comic voice who has influenced filmmakers such as Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach.

To briefly go over the plot: Violet Wister leads a group of girls at Seven Oaks University as they run a suicide prevention center to curb the amount of suicides that seems to occur entirely too often at the university. Violet thinks that the way to prevent suicide is through tap-dancing and she's also obsessed with coming up with a new dance craze.

I hope Damsels in Distress is the first of a number of films to come from Stillman because it's got a few cobwebs. His typical sense of humor is most definitely on display but a lot of the characters in this film, that aren't the main four girls, are too much caricatures and merely exist just for the laughs. It's not like he hasn't had that before, but the extreme stupidity displayed by some of the males at Seven Oaks University is almost too extreme. Sure, there are laughs to be had, but a lot of them feel cheap.

Still, Whit Stillman's sense of humor is definitely on full display here as there are plenty of great lines of dialogue and pretty much everyone in this film gets a moment to shine. I feel perhaps a little too much attention was paid on making this film feel as whimsical as possible, but for the most part, it works. All-in-all, one can't help but feel that this is kind of a bizarre comedy. It just feels completely out of place with other movies coming out today. I think a large part of that can be attributed to Whit Stillman's style and personally, I am glad he's back. There's a freshness to Damsels in Distress that hasn't been seen in quite some time. The comparisons to Woody Allen are apt, but Damsels shows that Whit Stillman is truly an original. Nobody else could've made a film like this, for better or worse.

So, again, I consider this film to be a return from Whit Stillman, but not quite a return to form. I'm hoping it is the first step of what should be even better films to come from the auteur. Damsels in Distress is definitely a good film, just not a great one. For what it's worth though, I had a smile on my face almost the entire time I was watching this film.

Grade: B

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bully: Powerful, but one-sided, lacks depth

Inexplicably, the MPAA gave "Bully" an R rating. After watching the film, I felt like the people who would benefit the most from watching this are kids. Some people say parents should watch it with their kids, and I suppose that's true too, but the people who will understand this the most are kids themselves. Every kid at some point gets bullied, or at least gets in some type of altercation when they're in school. Compared to the kids depicted in "Bully," I had it easy. Still, I could not help but feel for a kid like Alex or Kelby. The film peaks into the lives of a couple of bullied teenagers and pre-teens and it also looks into the parents of all of them as well as parents of kids who committed suicide due to bullying.

There's David and Tina Long, whose son Tyler committed suicide at age 17. Since then, his parents have made it their mission to take on the bullying issue that runs rampant in schools. They try to make it the problem for the people who run the school. Throughout the film we also see the Assistant Principal who works at Alex's school whose ineptitude and naivete is really quite astonishing.

There's Kelby, a 16 year old from Oklahoma who has been completely ostracized due to her sexual orientation. Hearing about the way kids and authority figures treat her, it's just terrible. And then there's Ja'Maya, a girl from Mississippi who retaliated from bullying by whipping a gun out on the bus and threatening to shoot the bullies.

The film mostly looks into the life of Alex, who unfortunately is an easy target for bullies on the school bus. It's not only because he looks the part of a "typical geek," but he genuinely seems like he does not know how to handle it. He's so gentle and fragile and he just takes it. He never does anything about the bullying, never tells his administrators or parents about it unless really pressed upon. It takes the filmmakers showing footage from the school bus to the parents to make them realize just how terrible it is for him. Watching the administrator handle it in inept fashion will frustrate you.

But the movie is mostly frustrating because the fillmmakers presents this problem without offering any solutions. Each character seems to be in a perpetual state of hopelessness. Ja'Maya had charges against her dropped and was free to go home by the end of the movie, but what'll happen to her once she goes back to school?

The filmmakers treat their subjects in such a precious fashion. The most revealing and touching parts of the movie are when they spend time with a friend of one of the children who committed suicide and he shows them the area in the woods when they used to hang out. He talks about how he used to bully kids back in 2nd and 3rd grade, but he realized he was being a jerk and he stopped. It was a revealing, touching moment and it begs the question: why don't we know more about the bullies themselves?

Instead of pointing out the problem, which we already know exists, why not confront the root of the problem head on? Why not attempt to try and understand why bullying exists in the first place? Is it really just the schools fault? Is it that they do not care enough? All I know is from my own experience, but I've witnessed bullying first hand. Schools never really did anything when a kid gets bullied.

In fact, when I was in sixth grade, we all lined up to the front of the classroom before we left for lunch. I had jokingly tapped a kid on the shoulder and said, "Tag, you're it." He turned around and sucker punched me right in the stomach. I had the wind knocked out of me, I couldn't breathe. He just stood there over me and shrugged his shoulders. Then the teacher soon walked up over to us and asked "What's going on here?"

The kid who punched me says, "We were just fooling around." The teacher took us both to the vice principal and the VP forced both us to apologize to the teacher. No phone calls to parents, no punishments. They had me apologize for getting punched in the stomach. Luckily, the kid and I were cool after that. He apologized to me the next day and we hung out a few times after. But he was kind of a bully back in those days and did that kind of shit to everyone. Never got in serious trouble. Fact of the matter is, public schools don't do shit, they never have. Are they the problem? They're part of it. But merely pointing the finger will not encourage them to do anything about it.

But look at it from their side. "We need to stop these bullies." Ok how? Be more strict? How are you gonna stop kids from terrorizing others on the school bus? Are you gonna have an authority figure on every school bus? It can't just be the schools who are at fault. Bullying has existed forever and it's not just going to stop immediately. What you can do is try to figure out why. Go to the source. Talk to the bullies themselves. You think they're all just bullies for the sake of being bullies? Some of them grow up in shitty households and environments. The schools don't teach kids to be bullies. It's just that a public school environment is naturally conducive to bullying. After all, any kid could go to a public school, they can come from any background. A school of 200 kids, 500 kids, 1,000 kids with zero bullies is just unrealistic.

I'm not saying that bullied kids have to learn to be tougher. I'm not saying schools shouldn't do anything. I'm not saying that it's right what bullies do to students. What I am saying is that the problem is very complex and this film does not do a good job of fully getting into such a complex issue. What it does do a good job of is having these parents tell emotional stories, putting their thoughts and feelings into the forefront. The film gives bullied kids a voice, and that's something. But this film isn't going to stop bullying, it just highlights the problem and nothing more.

Again though, there are some very touching stories in here, some very touching moments. There are parts where you can't help but feel a little choked up because it's a very real problem. But the parents of Alex, Kelby, Ja'Maya all act so helpless. Is there really nothing they can do? In fact, everyone in the film acts helpless. Bully is a naive film that offers naive solutions. While it definitely has a fair share of powerful scenes and moments, its message is overly-simplistic. Still, I think the film would definitely resonate with all kids, it's important that bullied kids out there know that they aren't alone because they often feel that way. This is a film that most importantly should be watched by kids, more than any other demographic. The fact that the MPAA has chosen to give this film an R rating is slap in the face to basic human decency and understanding.

Grade: C+