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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cody's Film Review: Drive

Drive is a fun and stylish film, but I didn't love it like many of my friends and critics have. This is my fault because I would have liked it more with no expectations, but when I hear  "Oscar worthy" or" Best film of the year" I better see something really original and powerful. It reminded me a bit of 80's Michael Mann, but that was mainly because of the films font, music, and Ryan Gosling's character. Gosling is a quintessential Michael Mann antagonist quiet, tough, and quick to action if pushed. I was more reminded of early Tarantino and Indie action films of the mid 90's that always encompassed a great cast, style, and sharp dialogue. I wouldn't put Drive in the same category of greatness as Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs, but more like True Romance and better than Tarantino rip offs like 2 Days In the Valley. The cast was good, but besides Gosling the only stand out was Albert Brooks. Every scene with Brooks is captivating and I wanted more scenes like the one between him and Gosling at the restaurant. I really enjoyed the look and pace of the film, but I was also just relieved to see an action film without 100 cuts per minute or shaky cam.I will look forward to Nicolas Refn's future projects because he has great sense of pacing and knows how to shoot an action film correctly. I feel a stronger script would help him immensely and he could add substance to his already established style. Overall I enjoyed Drive, but I felt the film was a little too simple and really lacked originality. I think the film comes off as fresh and unconventional because of all the shit Hollywood has been throwing at us the last 15 years, and basically we all long for films of the 80's. 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Friday, August 5, 2011

You know, for kids.

A recent twitter debate has led me to revisit one of my favorite films as a child and defend it. I have always considered Stand By Me one of the greatest kid's movies of all time. Yes, a kid's movie. I just happened to be that age when it was released, and to me I always appreciated the fact that a movie about 12-year-olds could be written with depth and character and not just fart jokes and fall-downs. It's a coming-of-age film not only for the characters, but for the audience as well.
Our pre-teen years are usually when we start learning those hard life lessons and how to deal with them and move forward: loved ones can die prematurely, parents can be abusive, you will get bullied by older kids...and sometimes the only people that truly understand you are your friends. Each of the four boys in the film carries a heavy issue which ultimately, is their bonding point and the motivation for the story. OK, yes, Vern is mainly there for comic relief, but I'm relying on the fact that he's a fat kid and was probably beat up daily by other kids and was the motivation for Gordies story about “Lard Ass.”
As a viewer and lover of film, even at that age, it's the first adult drama I can remember seeing that was actually aimed at my demographic. I'm not saying you had to be there to appreciate it, but it did help and is a movie I would encourage other kids of that age to see. It's hard to say that I would like it as much if I had never seen it as a kid but I really think I would. It has every element that comprises a quality film and I wish filmmakers would take a mature approach to younger audiences more often.

Read The Movie Anarchist's review here

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Tree of Life (Podcast)

The most anticipated film of not only this year, but the last two as well, is Terrence Malick's Tree of Life. Filmed in 2008 and held out of theaters with distribution problems, we have waited at the opportunity for a mere glimpse of it. Finally, after adverse festival reactions and mainly positive reviews we can now see it for ourselves. One thing is for sure, love it or hate it, it will have a place for discussion amongst this round table for years to come.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

2011 NBA CHAMPS! (Podcast)

Before the 2010-11 NBA season, one would be hard pressed to find a more bitter sports fan than that of the Dallas Mavericks. For over thirty years we have been teased (in every sense of the word) on every level of it's meaning. A good stretch in the mid 80s only led to one conference final and then the humiliating downward spiral of the 90s. The 2000s brought us new ownership and the rise of a legitimate superstar, but the basketball gods saw fit to toy with us for yet another decade leaving the ever-growing bitter taste of defeat we were all getting used to. If you were to bring up the '06 finals to any true fan and you would have still seen the pain of loss in their eyes....yes it still did hurt, and our window was closing. The beginning of the 10-11 season did feel different. For the first time since the early 90s we had a legitimate center and the rest of the machine was working flawlessly. However, big injuries seemed to derail the defensive mentality and by the end of the regular season, it looked like this would be another one and done postseason. Instead, our beloved Mavericks nutted up and played the greatest NBA postseason a fan could imagine. Tonight we take a break from our regular movie based banter and continue to celebrate the greatest basketball season we have ever seen.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

R.I.P. Sidney Lumet (podcast)

Sidney Lumet passed away Saturday Apr. 9 and on this day we pay tribute to one of the great American Filmmakers. Below is Cody's must see list of Lumet films:

Q&A (1990)
Running on Empty (1988)
The Verdict (1982)
Deathtrap (1982)
Prince of the City (1981)
Network (1976)*
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)*
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Serpico (1973)
The Offence (1972)
The Anderson Tapes (1971)
The Hill (1965)*
Fail-Safe (1964)
The Pawnbroker (1964)
Long Day's Journey into night (1962)
12 Angry Men (1957)*

*personal favorite

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Have you seen 'Tetro?' (podcast)

Back in 2009, young Matt Fickel walked into a theater showing the latest film by Francis Ford Coppola, "Tetro," and walked out a changed man. Maybe that's over dramatic but hey, so is "Tetro." In all fairness, Matt has been trying to get us to see the film for months and we all finally got around to it and the following podcast is what occurred. Enjoy. (Major Spoilers)

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Friday, March 25, 2011

R.I.P. Elizabeth Taylor

One of the last true heavies from the Hollywood Star System has died. Although Elizabeth Taylor began at the tail end of the failing system she always had a Golden Age star quality about her. She was a bridge between the Golden Age and the Method Age, and she blended in with both. Taylor held her own with William Powell and Spencer Tracy as she did with Montgomery Clift and James Dean. Her career fell off by the late sixties, but she stayed relevant for the rest of her life. Taylor was famous first as a movie star,then her personal life(marriage, health/weight problems, and Richard Burton) and finally as an activist. She was one of the first and easily the most famous person to bring the A.I.D.S. problem into America's households. Elizabeth Taylor was more than a pretty face, she was a great actress with a lot of range. My three favorite performances from her are Giant (1956), Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958), and Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf?(1966),solid films that she helps carry.  These are other highlights of her film career that are must sees. National Velvet (1944), Life With Father (1947), Father Of The Bride (1950), A Place In The Sun (1951) one of her best films,but this movie belongs to Monty, Raintree County (1957)another great Liz performance, and Butterfield 8 (1960) not a great film, but she was good enough to win her first of two Oscars for it. Elizabeth Taylor left behind two great legacies, iconic star and trailblazing activist,she was 79.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Oscars post-game show 2011

What the hell happened this year? Bad writing, horrible skits, and a host that looked as interested as a gay man in the playboy mansion. Hal and Cody take time out of their busy schedules to discuss the worst televised Oscar presentation....ever.


Below is the rejected "Grease" parody opening number...........thank God.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Cody's 2010 Oscar Predictions

My 3rd Annual Oscar predictions is here!!!! This year is a better quality of film, but it seems to be a bit tricky this year, just like every year. This is what I think will win, not what I want to win, here we go.

Best Picture- The King's Speech. I would have said The Social Network is a shoe in a month ago, but the Weinstein Machine is working overtime and it feels like Shakespeare In Love and The English Patient all over again. I liked The King's Speech, but I think it's the 6th best film nominated. Ignored: I can't really think of anything that was left out. There are still some films I haven't seen, but with 10 nomination the Academy did pretty good this year.

Best Actor-Colin Firth. I smell make up Oscar all over this one. Firth was very good in this film, but between having a speech impediment and his performance in A Single Man last year the award is his. I was glad that Jeff Bridges and Jesse Eisenberg got nominated and I really hope Bridges wins, but he won't. Ignored: Again can't really think of anyone, pretty weak category this year.

Best Actress-Natalie Portman. The strongest this category has been in years too bad it's a year too late and Sandra Bullock has the same amount of Oscars as Stanley Kubrick! I think Portman gives one her best performances ever, and now that she is pregnant the statue is hers. Ignored: I don't know.

Best Supporting Actor- Christian Bale. Every year this is the best category with the most talent, maybe this should go up to ten nominations. Bale was great and lets all hope for a freak out on stage. Ignored: Andrew Garfield and (gulp) Justin Timberlake for The Social Network. Matt Damon and Josh Brolin for True Grit. The biggest snub and second best supporting performance is Vincent Cassel in Black Swan. Portman and Cassel made that boat float.

Beat Supporting Actress-Melissa Leo. Even though she has been self sabotaging lately I think she squeaks this one out. I think her only real competition is Hailee Steinfeld and if Mrs.Tim Burton wins I will be pissed. Ignored: All of the sisters from The Fighter and Barbara Hershey and Mila Kunis from Black Swan.

Best Director-David Fincher. Fincher finally gets his Oscar and it's about time!! It's a shame his film won't get Best Picture and again the Weinsteins get a statue while their directors are left out in the cold. Ignored: Banksy!

Original Screenplay-The King's Speech. Not a strong category this year, probably because nobody seems to be writing and Hollywood isn't buying original screenplays nowadays. The Fighter is a good film, but just a newer version of Rocky. I think Inception would have a chance if it wasn't against the Oscar favorite and if didn't seem like a sequel to Flatliners. Ignored: Black Swan, it's nominated for every other category why not screen play?

Adapted Screenplay- The Social Network. Better than Original Screenplay nominations this year, and Aaron Sorkin really deserves this one. I think it is very hard to write a good contemporary history screenplay that works, and every once in awhile you get a All The President's Men or The Insider. I don't think any screenplay this year touches The Social Network, and it's the best thing about the movie. Ignored: Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1. Every year a Harry Potter film comes out they ignore it. It can't be easy turning a 600 page book into a 2 hour film that keeps everyone happy.

Cinematography-The Social Network. This is very hard because The Academy is never consistent on this one. The King's Speech could win and it shouldn't have been nominated, every other film belongs. The King's Speech may win because they link this to Best Picture and not to photography, but sometimes they do. I don't know, I'm rooting for the Roger Deakins western flick.

Editing-The Kings Speech. If this film wins editing then it wins Best Picture. I think it's a toss up between this and The Social Network.Ignored: Inception and True Grit.

Foreign Film-Biutiful. I haven't seen any of the nominated films and I picked this because it has a nomination in another category.

Best Animated-Toy Story 3. What a waste of time, shouldn't this be given during the Science Awards at the local Arby's?

Art Direction,Costume Design,and Make Up-The King's Speech and The Wolfman. The Kings Speech is a period piece(instant win) and The Wolfmans got nards,ehh I mean make up monster effects. Ignored: Black Swan

Sound Editing,Mixing, and Visual Effects-Inception. Duhhhh!!!!! Ignored: Black Swan and The Social Network! Unstoppable and Iron Man 2 shouldn't exist in this world.

Score-The Social Network. I want Trent Reznor to have as many Oscars as Sandra Bullock! I wouldn't mind Inception winning.

Song-Toy Story 3.Some years this is a nice category, but this year it's just dreadful. Now that the Academy likes Randy Newman he will win 12 Oscars. Ignored: Any song from Get Him To The Greek is better than this crap.

Documentary-Restrepo. The happiest I will get on Oscar night is if Exit Through The Gift Shop wins. I think it will lose for one reason, the Academy is frightened of what Banksy will do if he wins. Too bad, because it's one of the best films of the year.

Doc Short-Killing In The Name. It's about terrorism,weddings, and religion. Nuff said.

Short Film-Wish 143. Terminally ill patient wants to lose his virginity. Nuff Nuff said. Ignored: A Man Of His Word,or will this count towards next year Timmy?

Animated Short Film-The Gruffalo. It has star power and that's my only reason.

Okay that's it, please give me feed back, I love it!!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2010 - The Best of the Rest

In the previous episode we covered the academy's favorites of 2010. Continuing that discussion brings us to our personal favorites and other notables of last year.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

2010 Best Picture Nominations (podcast)

Today we begin our "Best of 2010" talk. For most of the year there was little to discuss as "Inception" and "The Social Network" dominated the war room banter, but the fall and winter seasons delivered an ultimately solid year for us. Having ten movies to debate over the title of "best picture" leaves plenty to discuss. The Doomsday Machine takes each of the nominees and debates their worthiness of the title.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Cody's Mega Film Review

The Kings Speech
This film is your typical Oscar bait that comes out this time every year, but I did enjoy this one more than most. I liked that it was a piece of history that I didn't know much about and it really kept my interest. I did know a lot about King Edwards abdication, but had no idea about George VI's speech problems, and I was intrigued on both fronts. Director Tom Hooper has shown in the past his attention to be historically accurate with HBO's Elizabeth I and John Adams, and this film is no exception. I enjoyed the the chemistry between Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush(Rush is very funny), but overall I liked the scenes with the royal family more. Guy Pearce is great as the spoiled and irresponsible King Edward and Michael Gambon is powerful as a sad and domineering King George V.*SPOILERS* My only dislike for the film is the end. I wish the King's speech would have been a recording of the real speech, it would have been more memorable and fascinating to hear the real result. The end of the film drags on for about 5-10 minutes too long. The principals are slowly walking around after the speech, head nodding, and basking in their success. This is fine, but it doesn't stop and it's been done to death. Overall it's a good film that's better than you typical English Oscar bait film. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
True Grit
It always takes several viewings for me to appreciate a Coen Brothers film, but this one was just a delight the first time. Great cast, well written, and Roger Deakins photography is astounding ( I love when he does westerns)! I was wondering if Jeff Bridges voice would get on my nerves when I first watched the trailer, but he character is so real and charismatic that he deserves the Oscar nod. Hailee Steinfeld was amazing and holds her own against the Hollywood heavies and really carries this film. Matt Damon's Dandy Ranger and Josh Brolin's Mongo-Like criminal are just hilarious and both have proven whatever film they do they don't disappoint. The viewer, like Mattie Ross, is introduced to all these colorful individuals, and with the exception of Rooster Cogburn, no one lives up to their reputation. It's a great character study and all of the side characters,especially Barry Pepper, were fascinating. The film is realistic and has a wonderful pace and I thought the epilogue was well done and accurately portrayed how Mattie would end up in later life. 4 out of 5 Stars
The Fighter
David O. Russell may be bat shit crazy, but who cares, the guy hasn't made a bad film yet. Russell earned years ago the right that no matter what he directs I will see it. I had the same reaction to The Fighter trailer I had with the Three Kings trailer, horrible. I see Russell's name at the end of the trailer and that makes me see the film, and like Three Kings, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the film. The Fighter is nothing ground breaking, if fact it's a typical boxing film that really doesn't have a lot of originality. It didn't matter, I really got into the characters, the story kept my interest, and in the end I enjoyed myself. Russell's craziness always seems to get the best out of his actors(I think Wahlbergs best performance to date is I Heart Huckabees).Wahlberg and Amy Adams are good, but this film belongs to Melissa Leo, Christian Bale and the Eklund sisters. Leo and Bale are shoe-ins for the Oscar this year and they both deserve it, your eyes focus on them in every scene. Even though the story is typical I thought it was original that Micky needs Dicky to ultimately succeed. Overall Dicky and the family are not only anchors to Micky's career, but if used right give him the confidence and coaching he needs to win. I am a sucker for boxing films, but it occurred to me after watching this film that 80% of all boxing films are about white boxers. Besides Ali I couldn't think of a great film about black boxers. Very entertaing film and I hope one day a film shows up of O.Russell and Bale having a shouting match while making this movie. 4 out of 5 Stars.
Black Swan 
I was really torn after I saw this film, and it took me some time to decide if I liked it or not. I knew I enjoyed it, but wasn't sure how much, and I weighed the pros and cons over the next few days. I came to the conclusion that any film that creeps in my head several days after a viewing is a good thing, so overtime it grew on me. I am not a huge Darren Aronofsky fan, I do respect him as a director, but his style can be his Achilles heel at times. His stamp is what makes him a fan boy favorite, but I think it's a little immature. Like Brian De Palma, he is all style with little substance and a little too much film school mentality. Aronofsky's style is the only thing I didn't like about Black Swan. At times the film making is too chaotic and subtly is thrown out the window. Too much shaky cam, too many cheap jump out and scare you horror tricks, and too many tattoos of black wings on Mila Kunis's back. Aronofsky is great with actors and storytelling, but a tripod and letting the audience use their imagination a little more could have made this a great film. What really won me over was how great the performances were. Natalie Portman is amazing as a up and coming ballerina toppling under the pressures of stardom. The other standout is Vincent Cassel as a ballet impresario who will do anything to get a top performance from his dancers. Cassel and Portman have a great dynamic, and it was my favorite part of the movie. Their relationship reminded me of a exotic version of The Red Shoes (1948), and I was captivated when they were on screen together. Kunis was convincing as the rival dancer and Barbara Hershey was great as her creepy looking domineering mother. Overall I enjoyed a film about a girl who must get off so she can be successful, but I wish Aronofsky would have held back and be more conservative like he was with The Wrestler. 3.5 out of 5 stars