Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Year In Film 2013: Episode X

It’s hard to believe that the year of 2013 is two steps away from the exit. The first step, in the form of the mighty November, brings with it more Oscar hopefuls and a wide variety of film genres.
It all launches with….

ENDERS GAME – The long-awaited adaptation of the science fiction novel of the same name by Orson Scott Card finally arrives on the big screen. It is directed by Gavin Hood, who directed the Academy Award winning Foreign Language Film TSOTSI (2005), and the big piece of crap X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (2009). ENDERS GAME stars Asa Butterfield (HUGO), Hailee Steinfeld (TRUE GRIT), Sir Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Abigal Breslin, and Harrison Ford.
LAST VEGAS – Acting legends Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, and Kevin Kline assemble for…a screwball comedy in which four old farts go to Vegas for a bachelor party. Directed by Jon Turteltaub (NATIONAL TREASURE).

THOR: THE DARK WORLD – Just when you thought superheroes were done for the year, here comes the God of Thunder in his first stand-alone sequel. Chris Hemsworth reprises his role as the Norse god in this universe-spanning adventure. Co-stars Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Rene Russo, and Christopher Eccleston. It is directed by Alan Taylor, who has spent time on the small screen directing episodes of OZ, SEX AND THE CITY, THE SOPRANOS, THE WEST WING, LOST, MAD MEN, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, and GAME OF THRONES.
THE BOOK THIEF – In what may be an Oscar sleeper, this Brian Percival (DOWNTON ABBEY)-directed book adaptation goes back to the well of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Stars Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson.

NEBRASKA – Veteran actor Bruce Dern is the centerpiece of this intimate, character-driven, black-and-white indie film about a father and son trekking across the country to claim prize money. Co-stars Will Forte and Stacy Keach, and is directed by Oscar nominated director Alexander Payne (ABOUT SCHMIDT, SIDEWAYS, THE DESCENDANTS).

DEAR MR. WATTERSON – If you are a fan of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, then you need to see this documentary film, which follows the career of creator Bill Watterson and the influence he has had on the world.
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE – If you didn’t get enough of the stupid shit that the first HUNGER GAMES film adaptation shoveled out, here is your chance for a second helping. Reprising their roles of characters who dress and act like idiots for no reason are Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Donald Sutherland, the kid who looks like a Lego-man (Josh Hutcherson), and newcomer Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

OLDBOY – The latest joint from director Spike Lee is an adaptation of the cult-favorite 2004 South Korean film, which was based upon a Japanese manga of the same name. Stars Josh Brolin (TRUE GRIT, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN), Sharlto Copley (DISTRICT 9), Elizabeth Olsen, and Samuel L. Jackson.
OUT OF THE FURNACE – This Blogger will make one big and bold prediction for 2013: Christian Bale will be nominated for two Oscars this year, and it all starts with this film. Directed by Scott Cooper (CRAZY HEART), this is the story of two brothers (Bale and Casey Affleck), who bond together to escape a crime ring. Co-stars Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, and Sam Shepard.

Next month, the final month of 2013 will be previewed.

Monday, October 28, 2013


THE COUNSELOR is a film which is made up of a great many pieces and parts. It is directed by the legendary Sir Ridley Scott, written by Pulitzer-prize winning author (and legend in his own right), Cormac McCarthy, and has a cast of well-received and experienced actors. In the end, the film is proof that acquiring all of those great pieces and parts isn’t enough; you have to put them together correctly and effectively.
The counselor (Michael Fassbender), in an effort to support his fiancĂ© (Penelope Cruz), gets into the drug-running business with long-time Cartel hombres (Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, and Cameron Diaz). Things get deadly for the counselor when a large shipment is mysteriously stolen…

THE COUNSELOR is a simple story of a man who just makes a bad decision when his back is up against the wall. In need of cash, the counselor sees dollar signs in the world of drug-running to save his ass. Unfortunately, the film gets completely lost in its own script. Scene after scene is composed of characters sitting around waxing philosophical musings about love, sex, money, and religion…reciting convoluted dialogue that no real human being would ever say outside of a classroom and dragging out scenes endlessly. The story of the film vanishes over and over again as scenes go nowhere with no point, and worse, nearly every scene seems to exist in its own world and has nearly no connection to the previous one. It’s dull, un-interesting, and intolerable to sit through. The characters may recite some interesting points about life and love, but it doesn’t do shit for storytelling. It’s a narrative disaster.
Characters are developed well enough only because they spend so much time sitting (or laying) around telling us about themselves. It’s a clear case of telling and not showing, and it’s difficult to connect with anybody. The directing of Sir Ridley Scott doesn’t improve the slog we have to sit through; although there are a few beautiful moments to look at, it overall feels very un-inspired.

Acting isn’t terrible, but isn’t great either. Michael Fassbender gets most of the work and does well, including an outburst of emotion near the end which is unexpected and executed nicely. Brad Pitt is a waste of space and seems to exist only to look snazzy on the screen, and Penelope Cruz isn’t around enough to make much of an impression. Cameron Diaz doesn’t add much and is just around to fill a hole, which she does just fine.
THE COUNSELOR finally picks up some speed in the third act; giving you hope that there may be something to salvage. Just when things pick up momentum, however, the film abruptly ends without offering resolution to any character or plot point. On top of everything else, exactly what involvement the main character has to the drug-running is never once mentioned; a terrible omission which leaves a large hole in what is apparently supposed to be a character-driven movie. Ultimately THE COUNSELOR is a collection of great pieces and parts which are not even assembled together, but thrown in a bucket and kicked across the floor.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Reel Facts & Opinions: All you need to know about THE COUNSELOR

This week, one of the most highly anticipated films of the year rolls into theatres in the form of THE COUNSELOR. Here is everything you need to know…
Who is directing – THE COUNSELOR is directed by Sir Ridley Scott (GLADIATOR, ALIEN, BLADE RUNNER). The film is dedicated to Scott’s brother Tony Scott, who had taken his own life during production.

Who stars – The lead role is held down by the much-wanted, highly-praised actor Michael Fassbender (SHAME, PROMETHEUS, X-MEN FIRST CLASS). He is joined by Oscar-winner Javier Bardem (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN), and a host of familiar faces belonging to Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz, and Cameron Diaz.
What’s it all about – The film is about a greedy lawyer (Fassbender), known only as The Counselor (duh), who gets into deep shit when he enters the world of drug trafficking.

Is there a hook – The screenplay for THE COUNSELOR is written by Pulitzer-prize winning author Cormac McCarthy. This is the first time McCarthy has penned a screenplay, although the film adaptations of his novels have been met with praise in the past; NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN won Best Picture in 2007, and THE ROAD (2009) was met with mostly positive reviews.
What to look forward to – This is Sir Ridley Scott’s first trip back on Earth since his clunky and dumbass PROMETHEUS film in 2012. Perhaps looking for redemption, he has assembled a great team around him. McCarthy’s writing has always been strong in one form or another, and the actors involved are all upper-echelon talent. There are a great number of great pieces and parts in THE COUNSELOR, which justifies the high anticipation.

THE COUNSELOR opens wide October 25th.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Reel Review: CARRIE

The latest adaptation of Stephen King’s novel CARRIE is a fresh, modern take on the tale. It is deeply rooted in modern society in an effort to introduce an old tale of horror to a new generation.
Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a shy, socially awkward teenager who is constantly being made fun of by her classmates. She is raised by her overzealous, religious mom (Julianne Moore), and gradually discovers a telekinetic power within her.

CARRIE is at its finest when it is focused on the main character. Director Kimberly Pierce does some excellent and very effective work in generating sympathy for Carrie. She is a girl who doesn’t quite yearn to fit in, but just wants to be relieved of the torture she finds everywhere; from her overbearing mother to bullying classmates and condescending teachers, it doesn’t take long to feel for Carrie and her problems. The film has a tremendous amount of heart, and every glimmer of hope which turns into heartbreak can be felt right down below the cockles every time. Pierce understands the innards of Carrie White and never fails to bring it to the screen. Modern tools such as cell-phones and YouTube are inserted into the mix to help compound the bullying angle, giving the film a very realistic and relevant appeal.
While the heart-and-soul and the narrative of CARRIE is sound, the craftsmanship in putting the film together is shaky. Pierce doesn’t inject any sort of imagination or style into the film, and everything has a very bland and dull feel to it; there is no clever work with lighting or cameras, and with one or two exceptions the editing fails to build any sort of tension. Dialogue is wooden and clumsy, and plot points are thumped down in such a way that even people unfamiliar with the story can see what’s going to happen next. CARRIE feels uninspired despite the efforts to draw emotion.

The burden is on the cast to save the film, and here is where CARRIE is worthwhile. Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore are very committed to their roles and it shows. Moore’s character may be written over-the-top (or even way over), but she sells the character and induces a fair amount of the creep-factor. The film appropriately belongs to Chloe, who turns in an amazing performance which is by far the best of her young career. From fear to elation to horror to the feelings of a bashful little girl, Chloe sells the character and makes you feel every tear. The supporting cast of her classmates are bland and inexperienced, but Judy Greer shows up as the one and only teacher with empathy towards Carrie and does a fine job.
It isn’t until the bloody finale where CARRIE finally begins to show some flares of tension and style, and the last twenty minutes are good enough to wonder where that type of effort was earlier. There is a lot to be impressed with this version of CARRIE. There are excellent performances backed by a fresh look at the character…which makes it all the more frustrating as that core of the film is surrounded by weak filmmaking. CARRIE is serviceable, but could have and should have been a lot more.



Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ed Lauter 1938-2013

Character actor Ed Lauter has passed away at the age of 74.
A character actor is commonly defined as an actor whose distinctive voice and appearance limit their roles. Such a label does not have to be negative, because Ed Lauter made a career out of it which spanned over four decades.

Ed Lauter was an actor who could convey authority with just one stern look; from a ship captain to a hockey coach to a brutal prison guard, Lauter’s characters were not the type you wanted to mess with. His long list of film credits include THE LONGEST YARD (1974), KING KONG (1976), HOW THE WEST WAS WON (1978), CUJO (1983), YOUNGBLOOD (1986), BORN OF THE FOURTH OF JULY (1989), THE ROCKETEER (1991), LEAVING LAS VEGAS (1995), SEABISCUIT (2003), and THE ARTIST (2011). He had the honor of starring in Alfred Hitchcock’s final film (FAMILY PLOT, 1976), and he also found success on the small-screen.
The first time Ed Lauter left a powerful impression on this Blogger was in 1986, when he starred as a tough hockey coach in YOUNGBLOOD. When the lead character fell for the coach’s daughter, you knew that things were going to get nuts because Lauter was not only a hardass hockey coach who would hit you with a stick, but he was also a stone-fisted father who would pound you into the ground. Ed Lauter spent a career and a lifetime playing characters who demanded respect, and we will always be willing to give it to him.




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Reel 20: RUDY

"I've been ready for this my whole life."
This month marks the 20th anniversary of David Anspaugh’s RUDY.
Based on the true story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, a student who had dreams of playing football at the University of Notre Dame despite many obstacles, RUDY was a film which embraced the underdog story and made it work by way of strong casting, acting, and writing. The film was loaded with heart and soul and kept the main character the type of guy you would always root for. He was a character who was all heart; and that was what kept him yearning to be on the football field despite his physical limitations.

RUDY was the first film that the Notre Dame administration allowed to be filmed on campus since the classic KNUTE ROCKNE, ALL AMERICAN in 1940. The choice for director was a natural one…David Anspaugh was only a few years removed from his film HOOSIERS (1986), another film which embraced the underdog story. Sean Astin was cast as the title character and captured all the emotion of the little guy who kept on getting up after getting knocked down, and he was joined by Ned Beatty, Charles S. Dutton, and writer/actor Jason Miller; a lifelong Notre Dame fan.
RUDY would go on to be named as one of the Top 25 Best Sports Movies by ESPN in 2005, and ranked 54th in the American Film Institute’s Most Inspiring Film of All-time.

As a wee-lad growing up in family full of Notre Dame fans, RUDY was a film which was embraced from day one. But it seems that it would be dismissive to simply label RUDY as just a sports film. Movies are often, if not always about rooting for someone that we feel empathy for…because overcoming impossible odds is something that we all do every minute of every day. Perhaps no other film captures the never-say-die spirit like RUDY, and that’s something even the most cynical can understand.

"In this life you don't have to prove nothin' to nobody but yourself."

Monday, October 14, 2013

Reel Facts & Opinions - X-MEN: Days of Higher Frame Rates

Over the weekend, various news outlets reported that the next installment of the X-MEN series of superhero films has been shot in the 48fps format.
FPS refers to the number of images, or frames, in one second. Since the dawn of the movies, the industry standard has been 24fps. If this story holds true, then this X-MEN film, subtitled DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, would be the second major motion picture to be filmed in 48fps...with the first being Peter Jackson’s THE HOBBIT in 2012. Reviews for the look and feel of the 48fps HOBBIT were mixed to dismal, with many of the reactions comparing the format to a look of a stage-show or a video game.

Moving the industry to 48fps is something that pioneering filmmakers have been advocating for years; citing higher detail and a lack of motion blur as reasons to adapt to it. Filming at a higher frame rate has been done for years when capturing something intended to be played back in extreme slow motion, but filming with that many frames played back at normal speed can be jarring to the human eye as it is a type of visual we have never seen before; imagine being able to see every spoke in a bicycle wheel as it is spinning.
It could very well be that a higher frame rate is one of those tools which has its uses, much like 3D or IMAX. Reports from THE HOBBIT point towards some spectacular visuals when the camera is swooping around mountains and landscapes, but didn’t work when the scenes went intimate. So if a higher frame rate (HFR) is merely another filmmaking tool, then the tool is only as good as the hand that wields it.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is being directed by Bryan Singer. Although Singer has put together some fine films in his career (X-MEN, X2, VALKYRIE), he has never come across as a pioneer in filmmaking. James Cameron, who will be filming AVATAR 2 in 60fps (!), has in the past invented new technologies with own bare hands to realize his visions; films on his resume such as THE ABYSS, TITANIC, and AVATAR were brought to life by blazing new trails and trying things no one else dared to try. Other filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan (INCEPTION, THE DARK KNIGHT), and Alfonso Cuaron (GRAVITY) have also pushed the limits, and sometimes broken them.
Again, Singer is a fine director, but has never before broken through any new territories. The success of a new X-MEN movie in a new filming technique depends upon how well Singer wields this new tool. While many have already shunned 48fps, those same doubters have to pull for Singer to succeed; they know as well as everybody else that the world needs more films which are the next step in evolution, and less abominations.

What say you?


X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is slated for a May 2014 release. It stars Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Ellen Page, Hugh Jackman, Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy, Halle Berry, Shawn Ashmore, Anna Paquin, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen, and Patrick Stewart.


Friday, October 11, 2013


Making a movie based on a true event is a tricky endeavor, especially if the event happened recently. If the ending is already known by the audience, then you need to make the journey to get there worthwhile. Such is the task for director Paul Greengrass in CAPTAIN PHILLIPS; the true story of the 2009 hijacking of a U.S. container ship by Somali pirates.
Captain Rich Phillips (Tom Hanks) is the captain of a container ship delivering supplies to Africa when it is hijacked by a rag-tag band of Somali pirates, led by Muse (Barkhad Abdi).

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is a one-man survival tale. The first half of the film takes place on board Phillips’ ship; from the pulse-pounding hijacking and a clever to the cat-and-mouse game within the complicated bowels of the massive ship. Director Paul Greengrass uses this opportunity to create an incredible atmosphere of fear and dread; so much that the film often dips its toes into horror-movie territory. Around the mid-way point, the pirates take a lifeboat with Captain Phillips and leave the ship, and it is here where Greengrass amps up the tension a thousand notches. Now centered within the claustrophobic confines of the lifeboat, Greengrass uses the tight quarters to explore the characters as they poke and prod one another within an impossible situation.
But what makes CAPTAIN PHILLIPS really tick is the portrayal of the Somali pirates. They are never shown as clichéd, mustache-twirling villains with plans to take over the world. As dangerous as they are, they are not really evil people and are just trying to survive. There is a fair amount of sympathy to be felt for the pirates, and we nearly feel bad for them once the might of the U.S. Navy enters the picture to settle matters.

Paul Greengrass must have friends in high places in the U.S. Navy, as he clearly had a great amount of cooperation to make this film. There are no artificially-created battleships and helicopters here, and Greengrass manages to capture it all in his stunning wide-angles. With a powerful score to back him and a pace of a thousand beats a minute, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is a thrill-ride on the high seas.
For most of the film, Tom Hanks does a fine job of playing a man just trying to hold things together in a dangerous and hopeless situation. At the climax, however, be prepared for a surprising emotional wallop as Hanks suddenly turns in the deepest and most powerful acting of his career. It comes out of nowhere and catches you completely off guard, and for a film which is all about tension and dread, the emotion that Hanks gets us caught up in is welcome and very fitting. Hanks has never been better.

Between the strong sense of realism that Greengrass puts on screen and Hanks performance, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is a ride which will leave you weak at the knees. Engaging and powerful, the ending, which is an historical fact, justifies the trip we take to get there.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013


“What’s this?”

This month marks the 20th anniversary of Tim Burton’s THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS.
Created and produced by Tim Burton and directed by Henry Selick, NIGHTMARE was a clever and unique holiday mashup in which a Halloween dream world populated with Halloween-ey creatures mix themselves up with the merry and cheery characters of Christmastime.

Tim Burton had been toying with the concept of NIGHTMARE as far back as 1982. After several false starts, the NIGHTMARE world finally poured out of Burton’s vivid imagination and onto the stage. In a pre-CGI world, NIGHTMARE was cobbled together with sculpted character puppets and miniature sets. Burton and frequent collaborator/composter Danny Elfman wrote the film’s many musical numbers, and filming began in mid-1991 with a crew of 120 animators over 20 sound stages.
Due to his commitments to direct BATMAN RETURNS (1992), Burton was forced to hand his creations and vision over to director Henry Selick, who would embrace the stop-motion style and would go on to direct his own similar films such as JAMES AND GIANT PEACH (1996) and CORALINE (2009). His work on NIGHTMARE with Burton paid off; the film was nominated for Best Visual Effects at the Oscars, and took home Best Fantasy Film at the Saturn Awards while Elfman won Best Music. The American Film Institute nominated it for its Top 10 Animated list, and famed film critic Roger Ebert noted that the visual effects were as revolutionary as STAR WARS. The film has become a haven for pop-culture, and the merchandise sells well to this day.

In 2006, THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS enjoyed a re-release in theatres in 3D. It was one of the first films to usher in the 3D conversion revolution, and although the transfer was less than stellar, it allowed this Blogger to re-discover the magical, zany, and immersive fantasy world that Tim Burton had created. Creepy and bizarre and fun, NIGHTMARE utilized familiar themes and character-types to stay grounded, and the clever mash-up of Christmas and Halloween themes make people debate to this day which holiday the film belongs to. It’s that type of appeal which makes THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS one of Tim Burton’s finest works and a unique peek into his imagination.

“I’m a master of fright, and a demon of light, and I’ll scare you right out of your pants!”

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Reel Review: RUSH

The films of director Ron Howard always seem to be at their best when they deal with historical events and the people who took part in them. His newest film, RUSH, which tells the true tale of the fierce rivalry between two Formula One drivers in the 1970’s, is the perfect playground for Howard to play in.
James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), form a rivalry which defines their Formula One racing careers.

It would be a mistake to label RUSH as a racing movie, for Ron Howard has bigger plans for his two main characters. The film is all about Hunt and Lauda as they drive each other nuts and towards their destinies. Hunt is a flamboyant racer who bangs a new girl every night and risks his life on the track. Lauda is a methodical and calculating racer who has a wife and is cautious when behind the wheel of a race car. Both men are polar opposites on the track and in their personal lives, and it is here where Howard seems to have the most fun. Hunt and Lauda are both assholes with massive egos, and Howard develops the characters so well we can’t help but to love and hate them at the same time.
Outside of the strong characters, Howard has put together a beautiful looking film; at times stunning to gaze upon with many sequences difficult to believe. The racing is pulse-pounding without being over-the-top, and avoids any redundancy by not going on for too long. The look of RUSH gives it an indie-film vibe, and coupled with the characters it feels very intimate despite the largeness of the stakes and the racing. The spirit of the 1970’s is very much up front and every costume, actor, and setting feels right at home.

Screentime seems to be split evenly between Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl. Both actors excel off of one another and are both superb. Olivia Wilde shows up for a brief turn as James Hunt’s short-lived wife; she looks and sounds great and creepily looks a lot like her real-life counterpart of the time, model Suzy Miller.
RUSH wraps up nicely, although the morality lesson Hunt and Lauda go through is presented in a heavy-handed manner; both characters basically stand there and tell us everything they’ve learned. By film’s end you still feel like you’ve known both characters for an extended period of time, and despite RUSH’s glossing-over of certain parts of their personal lives (like their marriages), the finish line feels very satisfying. Ron Howard has a lot of fun on this racetrack, and it’s very fulfilling to watch him do it.


Friday, October 4, 2013


THROUGH THE NEVER is the first theatrical concert film by the famed heavy metal group Metallica. But it wasn’t quite enough for the storied rockers to just film a show; it had to tell a story, it had to be in glorious 3D, and it needed to be more of an experience than a movie. So how did they do?
A young roadie named Trip (Dane DeHaan) is sent out to recover an important item for the band Metallica (James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo) as they play a show in a sold out arena. While on his mission, Trip encounters a bizarre set of happenings, which includes lightning, a puppet, and a masked hammer-wielding horseman.

Much like the song the film is named after, THROUGH THE NEVER is a twisting and turning look at a Metallica concert intercut with Trip’s adventures out in a surreal, gone-to-hell city. As the action (seamlessly)  cuts from inside the arena to the street, the storyline never forgets that this is a concert film first and foremost. The music never stops playing when we visit the street, and director Nimrod Antal uses the performance as a soundtrack to the adventures. Antal draws some clever parallels to the concert and the deadly adventure, and the two blend together perfectly. Fans of the band’s music over the past 30 years will probably get more out of it than any newcomers, but a fan of the cinema could easily get caught up in the atmosphere.
Nimrod Antal makes excellent use of the 3D format, and he has a lot of help courtesy of Metallica’s unique and visually stunning stage set-up. The band performs on a 360-degree stage surrounded by the crowd, and Antal’s cameras swoop and pan around and don’t miss an inch of the arena. The camera also drops us right onto center-stage right next to the band members, and the 3D reveals an incredible sense of depth and realism. The floor of the stage is essentially a giant LED screen, and there some down-angle shots in here that simply have to be seen to be believed. Back out on the street, Antal pulls off some remarkable imagery and keeps the pacing brisk with about a zillion surprises around every corner. THROUGH THE NEVER never suffers from any typical 3D issues; there is no dimness and every frame is presented in a glorious clarity.

Again, it’s all about the music and the band has never sounded better in a captured format. Every crunch of a note and rumble of the bowel-loosening low-end bass is crystal clear and literally rattles the seats. The sound is 100% immersive, and daresay the band actually sounds better in the digital format than out in the open air.  
Dane DeHaan does a great job, even though he only has one or two words to speak in the entire film. The action out on the street is dialogue-free, and DeHaan has to do all acting with facial expression and body language, and he nails every move.

The finale is exhilarating and the mystery around the object Trip was sent out to recover takes us right through the credits; in which the band is shown intimately jamming on an instrumental in an emptied arena. By the time the hum of amps fade, you do feel that you have been heavily assaulted both sonically and visually, making THROUGH THE NEVER an experience to remember beyond a simple movie. This film may have been built for long-time, or even casual Metallica fans, but anyone can appreciate a perfect marriage of sights and sound.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Year in Film 2013: Episode IX

Exit September, enter October…a month in which the Oscar hopefuls begin to roll out in force.
It all takes off with…

GRAVITY – As reviewed here, Alfonso Cuaron (CHILDREN OF MEN, GOBLET OF FIRE) directs this outer-space thriller involving two stranded astronauts. Stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.
METALLICA: THROUGH THE NEVER – As previewed  here, Metallica’s first 3D concert experience, complete with a storyline, enters a wide, standard 3D release after an IMAX run. It is directed by Nimrod Antal (PREDATORS), and stars members of the band with Dane DeHaan (THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES).

RUNNER RUNNER – Justin Timberlake stars as an online poker player who goes under the wing of the rich mastermind behind it all, played by Ben Affleck. Directed by Brad Furman (THE LINCOLN LAWYER).
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS – Paul Greengrass (THE BOURNE ULTIMATIUM/SUPREMACY) directs this thriller/true story about the hijacking of a cargo ship by Somali pirates. Tom Hanks plays Captain Phillips.

MACHETE KILLS – Robert Rodriguez’s sequel to his zany MACHETE secret agent spinoff. Stars Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Sofia Vergara, Amber Heard, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, Jessica Alba, Cuba Gooding Jr., Mel Gibson, and Charlie Sheen as the President of the United States.
ROMEO AND JULIET – Another adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragic love story, written for the screen by Julian Fellows (DOWNTON ABBEY) and directed by Carlos Carlei (FLIGHT OF THE INNOCENT). Stars Hailee Steinfeld (TRUE GRIT) as Juliet, and Douglas Booth as Romeo. Paul Giamatti tags along.

ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW – This controversial film was shot without permission on the Disneyland property, and tells the tale of a family vacation at the famed themed park gone horribly and tragically wrong.

CBGB – This film looks at New York’s early punk rock scene in the 1970’s as it was born in the famed night club. Stars Alan Rickman, Rupert Grint, Ashley Greene, and Bradley Whitford.
KILL YOUR DARLINGS – Daniel Radcliffe continues his post-HARRY POTTER career by starring as Allen Ginsberg during his collegiate years. Co-stars Ben Foster, Dane DeHaan, and Elizabeth Olsen.

CARRIE – Another adaptation of the Stephen King classic novel, this time directed by Kimberly Peirce (BOYS DON’T CRY), and starring Chloe Grace Moretz (KICK-ASS) and Julianne Moore.
ESCAPE PLAN – Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger team up to bust out of a maximum security prison.

THE FIFTH ESTATE – Benedict Cumberbatch stars in this biopic of the founder of the controversial WikiLeaks.
12 YEARS A SLAVE – In what may be the frontrunner in the early Oscar talks, Steve McQueen (SHAME) directs this slave-era film which stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, and Paul Dano.

ALL IS LOST – Robert Redford stars as a man lost at sea.
THE COUNSELOR – Sir Ridley Scott (ALIEN, GLADIATOR) teams up with author Cormac McCarthy (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN). Stars Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, and Penelope Cruz.

JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA – Johnny Knoxville resurrects his Grandpa character from the JACKASS series skits for a feature length film.
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR – This controversial film, about two 15-year old lesbians, is the first film to be awarded the top prize at Cannes for both the director and the main actresses. French speaking and based on a French graphic novel (use your imagination), it enters limited release in October.


Next month, Reel Speak looks at the mighty month of November.




Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tom Clancy 1947-2013

Spy-thriller novelist Tom Clancy has passed away at the age of 66.
The Baltimore-born novelist shot to fame in 1984 with his Cold War drama THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, a successful novel which was adapted into a film in 1990 and introduced his hero/protagonist Jack Ryan to the wide world. Clancy’s Mr. Ryan would appear in a string of successful films including PATRIOT GAMES (1992), CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER (1994), and THE SUM OF ALL FEARS (2002). His other works, also dealing mostly with international espionage and the U.S. military, would be adapted to several video games and TV shows.

On a cold spring night in 1990, this Blogger, his father, and his brother went to see THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER on the big screen, and was thus introduced to a new world of spy movies. It ignited an interest in spy films, an interest which would lead this Blogger through the worlds of 007 and George Smiley. RED OCTOBER remains one of this Blogger’s favorite all-time films, and it came from the mind of a great writer. Tom Clancy knew how to thrill and inspire the world like no other.