Sunday, February 28, 2010

Reel News: ALICE IN WONDERLAND Uproar is reporting of a minor uproar leading to an outright protest of Tim Burton's upcoming ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

It seems AMC Theatres is unhappy with Disney. The Mouse is looking to shorten ALICE's stay in the theatres, giving her just a 12 week run. That would put the DVD on shelves by June 1st. That's a much shorter theatrical-to-home trip that most films get.

Reel Speak: Unless it's really, really good, it's rare for a film to run much longer than 10 weeks. AMC (and eventually other chains), do have a valid point: If audiences know that a movie will be out in stores in few months, why go to the theatre? With rising ticket prices and Blu-ray films looking spectacular at home, theatres just may suffer.

At the same time, Disney doesn't seem to be helping their age-long cause of bringing people out to the movies. ALICE seems like it would be better viewed on the big screen, and won't be available in 3D at home. It's also rare for the consumer to buy a movie they have not seen in the theatre. If they go in cold and not like it, they might just go to the movies next time.

A Reel Review: COP OUT

Action stalwart Bruce Willis and SNL graduate Tracy Morgan team up for a buddy-buddy cop flick in the form of COP OUT, which attempts to mix comedy and drama with some mixed and often empty results. With the laughs numbering in the single digits and the drama on the light side, COP OUT offers little to latch on to.

Jimmy (Willis) has his rare baseball card stolen by a thief (Seann William Scott). The hocking of the card is Jimmy’s only way of paying for his daughter’s lavish wedding (Michelle Trachtenberg of BUFFY fame). Jimmy and his NYPD partner Paul (Morgan) track down the card to a drug dealing gangster, all while protecting a rival-gang’s mistress, and dealing with Paul’s marital problems.

The endgame of COP OUT is for Jimmy to get his card back. It is meant to be an emotional draw and to bring the audience on his side. That focus gets lost and moved around a lot, as side stories with Paul and the mistress derail things. What also hurts is the phone-in performance by Willis. He exerts little heart behind his actions and lines, and it seems like he doesn’t care. Part of the problem could be blamed on the paper-thin script, but either way the audience has little reason to connect. Paul’s purpose in the narrative seems to be to provide laughs, and he gets most of the few chuckles (although a lot are over the top). Morgan carries his role well as the goofball of the film, which is why his marital-issues story comes off as out of place for him. Unfortunately for Morgan, the comedy routines also suffer from a weak script, which offers very few hooks, is lacking real wit, and is far from classic. Willis and Morgan have decent chemistry, but the good moments are rare. Top all this off with a few very un-interesting villains, and COP OUT borders upon boring.

The action sequences, which could have saved the movie, are dull as well. The gunfights are very plain, with no feelings of dread or excitement coming across. The lone car-chase scene starts off quick, and ends just as fast. The chase is also filmed at night, which is a bit of a “cop out” in itself; the filmmakers were able to get away with not having to show everything. It’s as disappointing as it is frustrating.

The rest of the cast does well with the thin material. Scott gets a few laughs, but the character is very one-dimensional and his shtick gets old in a hurry. Trachtenberg lights up the screen in her limited time, and appearances by Jason Lee and Kevin Pollack are welcome albeit short.

COP OUT is director Kevin Smith’s first attempt at a film in which he did not write, and it shows. The film is devoid of any wit, cleverness, or heart that he (or anyone else) could have brought in. With the exception of a few doses of his recycled toilet humor, it doesn’t feel like a Smith film at all. It seems that he did little to contribute other than showing up on set enough of times to get his name in the credits. His touch is absent, and it’s easy to wonder if he cared about the material. With him not showing any passion for it, no one else should have a reason too either.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Reel News: Local theatre going BIG

Cinemark Theatres in Moosic, PA will be debuting their Cinemark XD (Extreme Digital Cinema) this weekend.

The new format boasts an extra-large IMAX-sized screen, 2D and 3D projection, and new digital sound. This will be the very first of this kind in Northeast PA.

The new technology gives Cinemark the flexibility to run nearly any film in digital (when available). Thus far only one out of the twenty theatres in the Moosic building has been outfitted with this format.

The first film to run will be Martin Scorsese's SHUTTER ISLAND. Considering the outstanding cinematography in this film, it seems to be the perfect fit for a big debut.

More info at

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese returns to the silver screen with a bang, this time with a psychological mind bender in the form of SHUTTER ISLAND. By employing his signature craftsmanship with some excellent acting, Scorsese has done it again.

Set in 1954, Federal Marshalls Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are investigating the disappearance of a mental patient from a hospital for the criminally insane, located on a remote island. What starts out as a clever little mystery, turns into a twisty and bendy tale that keeps everyone guessing right until the end.

ISLAND’s main narrative begins with the solving of the case, but then veers over to focus on Teddy’s story. Teddy is a damaged man, with a history of drinking as he deals with his painful memories of WWII and the death of his wife (Michelle Williams). At first, the second storyline seems intrusive and unnecessary, but as things unfold it blends into the overall tale perfectly. It is clever writing, but what really drives the story is Scorsese’s exquisite cinematography blended with perfect acting. The camera never fails to move us right into the next scene. There is excellent pacing here, and even the slower “talkie” parts never fail to keep things interesting. The overall plot has been seen before, but not in this style. Things are given an exclamation point with perfect shot framing, movement, lighting, and acting.

Have we mentioned the acting? DiCaprio goes deeper than he ever has here, hitting several below-the-belt layers of a damaged man. His verbal sparring with the hospital’s doctors (Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydow) is a joy to see, filled with tension and wits. It’s clear why Scorsese keeps casting DiCaprio in his films: He knows exactly what to do with him in lighting and performance, and once again gives us a different Leo.

Kingsley and von Sydow are excellent as always, and the minor roles are perfect as well. Patricia Clarkson and Jackie Earle Haley have bit parts that they morph into beautifully. So well it takes a few seconds to even recognize them. Mark Ruffalo also does well, as does Michelle Williams. Each actor in ISLAND is developed well and given just enough to do.

Topped off with a foreboding and haunting score, ISLAND constantly has a feeling of dread and doom hanging over it. Every scene presents a different turn that will keep audiences guessing and unwilling to take a bathroom break. The finale is a jaw dropper, and makes one want to view the film again right away with the gift of hindsight. The desire for multiple viewings makes this a Scorsese classic.


Day 1

Welcome to Reel Speak! This forum is intended to inspire discussion and the trading of ideas in the world of film. Here, there will be reviews, news, trailers and important historical items posted semi-daily.

A good movie, and even a bad one, can and will inspire thoughts amongst lovers of the art. Many people may look at THE GODFATHER as the greatest movie ever made. Others may consider it to be a snore. That's fine, providing both sides can justify it. That's what makes the movies so much fun and intriguing.

Here's how things will unspool here:

-Reviews of new films will be posted as soon as possible. For those unfamiliar with my review style: I have a ranking system of (1) See it (2) Rent it (3) Fuck it. Those familiar with intelligence should be able to figure out which ranking is favorable and which is not.

-Relevant news of upcoming films will also posted, along with trailers when possible. I will try to avoid spoilers, but will put up a warning when I can't. News will be focused on upcoming movies only, and will avoid celebrity gossip and associated crap.

-Relevant news of changing technologies will also be posted. The world of filmmaking and projection is ever-changing, and an awareness of it will only enhance a person's enjoyment.

-History: Nearly every day can be backtracked to an important day in filmmaking history. You can't go forward unless you know where you've been.

-Local filmmaking and theatre news will also be posted.

-Don't forget to vote in the weekly poll! A forum will be created for each poll for discussion.

Thanks for navigating your way here.