Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Cinema File #291: "12 Years A Slave" Review

Steven Speilberg's Schindler's List set the bar pretty high in terms of depicting the epic scope of history's greatest tragedies, encapsulating the horrors of the Holocaust about as completely and as viscerally as one possibly could in a single movie. Though many have tried, no film has come close to it when trying to address America's own bloody past, be it the slaughter of the Native Americans, or the institution of slavery. Steve McQueen seems to be keen to take up that challenge with his latest film, assembling a travelogue of the life of a slave in all its inhumanity and evil, and if only because the last movie to tackle the subject was last year's brutally unsentimental action romp Django Unchained, 12 Years A Slave feels like it should be a much needed authentic antidote. Unfortunately, in its rush to raise the hackles of modern moral outrage, it forgets a few of the basic tenants of storytelling, ultimately serving as little more than a polemic against something every decent person already accepts as horrifying and despicable (outside of the GOP anyway).

12 Years A Slave is the story of Solomon Northup, a free black man living in New York in the 1840s with a wife, children, and generally happy life, all of which is robbed from him when he is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Being a true story taken from the direct account of the man who lived it, it would already be insensitive to criticize the structure of the narrative as one would a fictional piece, even before you get to the part about slaves and torture. Having not read Northup's autobiography personally, I can't speak to the fealty this film has to its source material and can only give it the benefit of the doubt that its depiction of the man's life is as respectful as possible. The problem is that even though the story is set up to be completely about him, Northup is never really explored as a character beyond the trauma of his plight. At the risk of sounding callous, in addition to being heartbreaking, the personal anguish of a man forced into slavery, whether for twelve years or a lifetime, should amount to more of a take away than "Slavery was terrible."

In a way, the film suffers from the same problem as Fruitvale Station did earlier this year, namely that just because a true story is harrowing and seemingly filled with dramatic potential on the page, it doesn't automatically mean it would work as a movie. Reading Northup's own words as he describes his twelve years of torment would no doubt be very intense, akin to reading The Diary of Anne Frank with full knowledge of the events that followed, but translating that empathetic response to film requires more than just a litany of outrageous examples of man's inhumanity to man. Northup never really learns anything throughout his journey, and he never really grows as a person. His life is taken from him and then given back some years later, but he is essentially the same man throughout, just more burdened by the weight of his experience, and because I didn't actually go through any of those experiences with him directly, I can never connect with him as well as I think I should be able to.

What the movie lacks in complex characterization, it more than makes up for with an endless onslaught of real life historical horror, depicting the dark side of humanity at its darkest (at least in the American experience) without hesitation or restraint. If only as a primer for a new generation perhaps too far away from it, and without a Roots-style cultural touchstone to draw from, 12 Years is useful as shock value for something that truly should be shocking and never forgotten, but other than that, it has very little to offer as a movie. The performances are good and the cast is filled with some of today's most talented and engaging actors, but they are all so one note and shallow that it just feels like a waste of so many great people. Paul Giamatti and Benedict Cumberbatch show up for all of five minutes a piece, while others like Michael Fassbender and Sarah Paulson overstay their welcome, chewing the scenery with unrepentantly evil caricatures never given any room to grow even as villains.

There is a moment about two thirds into the film where Northup pauses and stares directly into the camera for a good minute of screen time, with a painful, haunted look on his face as if he is beseeching the audience itself to help him escape his suffering. This image more than any other best encapsulates the film for good and for ill, powerful in its raw expression of one of this country's greatest sins, but otherwise bereft of anything else meaningful to say about this era of history. Maybe there isn't that much more that needs to be said, and a similarly quiet moment where Northup is left hanging, struggling to keep himself from choking to death as the world nonchalantly passes by, probably says as much as anyone needs to know. In both of these scenes you acutely feel as if you are there in his place or right along with him, unable to help, and maybe that's enough. And yet, I can't help but feel like something is missing.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Saturday Night Jive, Episode Five: The No Show Show

Okay, yeah, sorry. I've been gone a few days. Combination of Holidays, Sickness, Out of Town Vacations, and Overtime. Will make up for it in the weeks to come. For now, here's the latest episode of Saturday Night Jive. It's our first show done on an off week, so we do a retrospective of the first few episodes of the season we didn't cover yet, and explore the new cast in depth. Also, White Guy Rap! Enjoy.


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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Saturday Night Jive, Episode 4! - That Was A False Tidbit, You Fucker

Check out the latest episode of Saturday Night Jive, where my brother and I discuss the latest episode of SNL, this week focusing on the Christmas episode featuring host Jimmy Fallon and musical guest Justin Timberlake. Listen as we have are first genuine disagreement as to an episode's quality when George valiantly tries to defend the notion that two marginally decent sketches justifies like ten shitty ones. We also discussing corpsing in the wake of the ultimate corpser, jaccuse us some Tina Fey of hypocritical clapter bashing, and explore just what you can fit inside your butt while its boogieing. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas


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Monday, December 23, 2013

The Cinema File #290: "Hellbenders" Review

Though I’m not personally faithful, I’ve always been fascinated by the mystery and mysticism surrounding organized religion. The ancient liturgy and institutionalization of magical thinking is the closest thing we have in real life to the sort of secret archives of wizardry seen in works of literary and cinematic fantasy, and the idea that creatures and spells of myth and legend exist today in some form is naturally intriguing to the nerdy Terry Pratchett kid inside me. The complicated and sometimes dark history of the church, particularly the Catholic Church, only adds to the fun of this trope, lending just enough credibility to tales of Da Vinci Code style conspiracy theory and the horrors of exorcism and demonic possession. It’s a subject tailor made for entertaining fiction precisely because it is so fantastical and yet purported to be completely true.

Inspired by the writer/director’s own graphic novel and not to be confused with a short-lived web cartoon, Hellbenders is the story of a secret interfaith council of ordained priests who battle the forces of darkness with the unique tactic of applied damnation. The idea is brilliant in its simplicity, that if a demon possessing a human victim cannot be exorcised through any of the normal means, a last ditch “nuclear option” can be enacted in which the exorcist invites the demon into his or her own body, and then kills himself, dragging both his soul and the demon back to Hell. The only catch of course is that for the priest to do this, he or she must be “damnation ready” leading a life of regular sin and debauchery in order to transform a human soul into the demonic equivalent of cement shoes.

Hellbenders is The Exorcist meets Ghostbusters as written by a 25% less clever Kevin Smith. It hits that weird sweet spot of dark humor and inspired silliness, occasionally coming off as too crude for the sake of being crude, but in a context where that sort of excess is the most forgivable. The premise alone is so novel that it’s a wonder it’s never been thought of before, though in practice it’s somewhat reminiscent of Hellblazer, the comic book most well known for its protagonist, the wandering moral reprobate John Constantine. If I could point to one big problem with the film, it is that like Hellblazer, one character outshines everyone else in the story, while unlike Hellblazer, Hellbenders is actually trying to be an ensemble. Then again, it’s pretty hard to upstage Clancy Brown, especially when he’s given a role as cantankerous as the foul mouthed Angus, and his presence alone is enough to justify the ticket price.

Somewhat lower on the scale of major problems is the scope, which feels a little stifled considering the cosmic implications of the plot. This feels like a movie that really needed a bigger budget than it had, and while I’ve never read the original graphic novel, I can only assume that short of Brown’s performance, it probably works a lot better on the page where anything and everything can be depicted with no additional cost. The supernatural elements are well done, particularly an extended sequence in a basement that sets up the main conflict of the film, but this and many other scenes just scream for the kind of prosthetic and CGI work that so many worse written films are able to take for granted. Being a modern-day dark fantasy comedy with religious overtones, it kept putting me in mind of Dogma, one of my favorite movies, and as a result I was constantly waiting for something as memorable as the giant Shit Monster, but regrettably, it never came.

Even so, my hope for the equivalent of animated humanoid feces notwithstanding, Hellbenders is the kind of low budget movie that really rewards a love of fringe cinema. You probably won’t ever see it in a theater near you, and for the most part it will probably fade away for all but the most willing and committed enough to seek it out. I can’t say it’s so self-evidently great as to be guaranteed a future of cult status, and in a marketplace suffering from a glut of entertainment options, it’s hard to predict whether it will ever break through an over-saturation of crap to reach all the people who would be inclined to watch a movie as ambitiously niche, but it certainly deserves whatever exposure it gets, and I’m happy to do my part. If you happen to see it at your video story or on VOD and you have a suitable lack of sacred cows to enjoy it, definitely give Hellbenders a chance.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Cinema File #289: "Don Jon" Review

Sorry movie, when the best thing in you is Tony Danza in a sleeveless shirt, you have to know you've got some problems.

I never got the chance to review last years science fiction blockbuster Looper when it came out in theaters, since it was a few months before I started reviewing movies on a regular basis. Suffice it to say, I was among the stark minority of sci-fi fans who was unimpressed. Well, actually, I was very impressed - with the first half, but once the narrative jumped from the city to a boring ass farm with an even more boring ass telekinetic kid, I felt like a lot of potential was wasted, as if a great time travel movie without an ending and a terrible Carrie rip off without a first act were haphazardly jammed together. Nonetheless, the public at large loved it, providing the long awaited breakout role for its star Joseph Gordon Levitt. Now a household name following the equally lackluster but successful Dark Knight Rises, Levitt brings us his writing and directing debut with Don Jon, and like many examples of his recent acting work, it weirdly fails miserably to live up to his obvious talent.

Don Jon follows the titular Jersey douche through a series of romantic and sexual adventures as he learns just how shallow and empty his body image obsessed, porn fueled life has become. The trailer for this movie struck me at the time as some of the worst marketing for a film that I had ever seen, promising a story about little more than a guy who loves working out and watching porn. Turns out, the marketing was regrettably spot on, its just the movie that fails to live up to expectations. Jon comes across like the other friend we never saw from Pain And Gain who didn't go off on the wacky murder adventure, because he was too busy doing the same stupid shit every night to ever do anything remotely interesting or exciting. Broad stereotypical characters fill his world, none more two dimensional than the Don himself, which is only made worse when the movie tries and utterly fails to say something important about the kind of life he leads.

Porn addiction, and more broadly the way in which ubiquitous Internet porn has left a generation of young men ill-equipped to deal with real sex with real women, is an issue that lends itself well to dramatic examination. Its an important cultural problem that's rarely discussed or analyzed in fiction, and the lack of seriousness and depth with which Don Jon deals with it is both sad and kind of strange considering how much of a focus is placed on it. The silly tone Don Jon forces upon the audience so bluntly is just not right for the subject matter. This movie needed to be more Shame and less Jersey Shore, more willing to go to the dark places that sexual obsession leads to, and less willing to descend into comic buffoonery. I just can't take any of this seriously, even when the movie so desperately wants me to. Its as if it is trying to ease me into a serious topic with all the fluff, but it forgets to actually make the point it was trying to make.

Jon feels like a character from an Adam Sandler movie who somehow got lost and found himself in another film altogether, where the rules that once justified his stupidity no longer apply, and his faults are obvious and unavoidable. The entire movie is just one slow drag to this idiot learning this completely self-evident lesson that anyone with even an ounce of introspection wouldn't need to learn at all, let alone with so much heartbreak involved. The only reason he's momentarily protected from learning the truth about himself is because everyone around him appears to be just as stupid as he is, save for one voice of reason who comes across as the only one real enough to actually belong in this world of misplaced cartoon characters. The structure of seeing his routine unravel, first for the worse, and then finally for the better, is only a reminder of just how monotonous and endlessly frustrating this movie is.

A bad movie is one thing, but a bad movie that could have been and should have been so much better is quite another. When proven talent is involved with a project that is designed to address a vital concern in a clever, interesting, and thought provoking way, to see it all fall apart and stumble together into something like Don Jon is practically a tragedy. Its not enough that I can't enjoy it, but I keep thinking of the movie I could have been watching, and how this smirking goon robbed me of it because making time for the Markie Mark sing-along was so much more important than actually addressing anything meaningful. My fear is that the obtuse Don Jon is crafted to be relatable to the kinds of young dumb males Levitt is trying to persuade with his unsubtle polemic against one-sided lust, and I don't want to believe they exist in such large numbers as to make this necessary. At any rate, the caricature ruins whatever goodwill attempt was being made to sway them.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Cinema File #288: "Enough Said" and "Violet And Daisy" Double Review

Pursuant to my longstanding personal obligation to seek out the final posthumous films of deceased actors, I recently sat down and watched two films produced before the death of Sopranos star James Gandolfini, but released shortly afterwards. The first was the independent romantic comedy Enough Said, co-starring Gandolfini as a divorcee who falls in love again with a masseuse played by Julia Louis Dreyfuss, who finds out that one of her new clients is coincidentally her new man's ex-wife. Its always a delicate subject whenever a movie represents the final work of someone who died, especially when they did so unexpectedly before their time, and its always a little heartbreaking when the film doesn't live up to the caliber of what we've seen before from them. Regrettably, Enough Said falls into this category.

This just doesn't feel like a story that could have ever sustained an entire movie. Its more like a sitcom plot, like a lost episode of Fraiser where he dates the ex of one of his patients, and erudite wackiness ensues. The main conflict is telegraphed from the first few minutes and from then on the whole movie is just waiting for the fallout, which based on the low key pacing you know won't be as satisfying as it is set up to be. In between we get a lot of meet-cute dating dialogue and a few plot threads involving the two leads' respective college age kids that seem wedged in to pad the running time, but none of it really builds to anything. Its sweet and heartfelt in spots, but not emotionally impactful enough to ever take advantage of it, and by the time the story predictably unfolds, its all just a pleasantly inoffensive waste of time.

Perhaps because I found Enough Said to be so lackluster, I think I may have enjoyed the second posthumous Gandolfini movie a little more than I otherwise might have. Violet and Daisy is the polar opposite of Enough Said, pulpy, violent, hyper-stylized, and almost defiantly lacking in substance, all about having fun with characters and twists that unravel if you think too hard about them. It follows two impenetrable teenage hitgirls hired to kill a mysterious man who seems to invite his own execution, leading to an off-kilter day in the life of people who live in a comic book world just slightly unlike our own. It too never really comes together, and its hard to look at it as anything more than a derivative pastiche of indie crime movies past, but it was entertaining enough that I was able to forget the uncomfortable coincidence of a deceased actor's character begging for death.

Violet And Daisy is what you would get if the filmographies of Quentin Tarrantino and Wes Anderson had a baby, and it was born just a bit prematurely. Not fully formed enough to live up to any of its influences, its easy to see the great potential that is only slightly squanders through inexperience and a fundamental lack of anything meaningful to say. It goes through the motions of saying something, and presents itself very stylishly, but comes just short of actually doing anything with what it establishes. That being said, sometimes style is enough, or at the very least, compared to some movies where I get neither style nor substance, sometimes you just have to take what you can get. For all its sugary shallowness, its almost never boring and creates an intriguing setting that I want to see more of, just with a little more development. It put me in mind of the universe of Suda51's No More Heroes, with a bit of Gunslinger Girl thrown in, which gets my nerd heart all a flutter regardless of execution.

Neither of Gandolfini's last films are anything close to perfect, and as always, one would have liked a more fitting end to his too brief career, but then that's always a function of posthumous interpretation anyway. If Sean Connery's final film can be Sir Billi, than I suppose I can live with a spate of largely unsatisfying final moments from an actor who probably deserved better. When we look back on the dead, particularly on those who entertained us so much when they were alive, invariably we self-edit, remembering the best they had to offer while forgetting the missteps in between when we can. Only the absolute best and the absolute worst tend to survive any long term examination of an artistic life, and I can't say that either of these films, or really anything Gandolfini ever did was so bad as to be immortal in its terribleness. Then again, he's still got at least one more movie coming out either this year or early next year, so who knows.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Stop Or My Mom Will Podcast Presents: The Crypto Conspiracy - Christmas Special, Part One!

Check out the latest episode of my podcast Stop Or My Mom Will Podcast Presents: The Crypto Conspiracy - Christmas With The Krampus, Part One. We discuss a myriad of Christmas time monsters, delve deep in the fringes of The Christmas Conspiracy, and end on a fat related thought experiment that Mom continuously tries to ruin with her crabbiness. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Cinema File #287: "Homefront" Review

Action heroes, and by extension the balls to the wall action movies they’re born to helm, aren’t what they used to be. In an age when all of our favorite superheroes and alien planets as intricately detailed as Pandora can be depicted onscreen with relative ease, movies about regular guys who are really good at punching other guys in the face just don’t seem to pack the same, well, punch anymore. In a way, Jason Statham feels like the last of a dying breed, defiantly resisting the pull of his 80's ancestors to resign himself to Expendables-style self parody (even as he takes a paycheck from them now and again). Most of his starring vehicles to date including his latest Home Front have at least been passably entertaining and technically well made with interesting fight sequences and stunt work, but at the end of the day, the whole enterprise feels more than a little redundant.

Homefront follows Statham as a retired DEA agent just trying to live a normal quiet life with his daughter in a small town, only to be dragged back into his old world of bad guy punching when he runs afoul of a shiftless would-be meth kingpin who decides that a dead narc might be his ticket to the big time. We tend to get a movie like this about once a year, where Jason Statham kicks the ass of (insert cliched bad guy here). Sometimes its terrorists, sometimes garden variety criminals, and this time its meth heads. Typically one would expect that all other things being equal, each film would attempt to escalate the threat posed to its recurring star so as to maintain a level of interest in whether or not he can kick enough ass to win in the end, which makes the set up of Homefront both somewhat deflating, and in a weird way that much more interesting.

It would be easy to deride Homefront for its choice of villain, a dumb, freewheeling meth cooker named Gator played by the eminently non-threatening James Franco, but in context the vast disparity between him and Statham's ex-cop in terms of level of badassery seems to be the whole point, and a welcome twist on the usual formula. Gator doesn't have to be a criminal mastermind to be a threat, he just has to be a guy with nothing to lose. Sure, the scene in the diner designed to be the Heat moment between the two has none of the tension of the Michael Mann film, but while these two adversaries are talking, all Gator needs is one other person willing and amoral enough to go after a small child waiting at home for her father. That's the ever present danger of this movie, not that Statham might be overcome by a superior foe one on one, but that his vulnerability as a father will be exploited as a weakness, and for the most part, it works.

Unfortunately, this is really the only thing the movie has going for it, apart from what you would usually expect from a Jason Statham action romp. There are a few fun tweaks that surprise, in particular a scene where he rigs a meth lab to explode by turning light bulbs into flash bombs, but overall, the slightly more clever than usual set-up still gives way to the same escalating series of hand to hand fight scenes, and nothing really ends up in any way other than what you would reasonably expect. Its the kind of movie you should be able to map out in your head completely after seeing the trailer, because you've no doubt seen it enough times before, and there isn't enough new to justify running through the same beats again. I found the natural unraveling of the villain's plan more engaging than anything our hero was doing even after his daughter was placed in harm's way, and I don't think I was supposed to.

The whole movie almost feels like a comment on the structure of action movies past, where the normal lives of bad ass protagonists are upended by the complex machinations of impossibly sophisticated villains. The conflict of Homefront literally begins in the school yard, where a fight between two children escalates as the parents get involved, one of whom just so happens to be related to a criminal with independent designs on moving up in the drug game. If this weren't written by Sylvester Stallone, someone who knows his way around the tropes of action movies, I might chock this up to coincidence, but I can't help but wonder if he had a greater purpose here that was lost somewhere along the way as something potentially interesting was forced into the mold of Just Another Statham movie. As it stands, its probably just slightly better than most in that category, or at least it feels like it wants to be, even if it never quite manages to evolve beyond its cookie cutter format.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Cinema File #286: "Her" Review

We like to think that the thing that defines the human species, that which elevates us and separates us from the animals, is our intellect, our ability to perceive ourselves and conceive of things like philosophy and civilization. And yet, when it comes to actually relying on that definition, it is just as often our emotional dimension that makes the difference. In the recent documentary Blackfish for example, it isn’t simply that the whales are possibly as smart as we are, but that they are almost certainly more emotionally adept than humans that makes us sympathize with their plight. At a time when the state of technology is evolving to the point where our traditional understanding of what constitutes intelligent life might also soon need to evolve, Spike Jones’ latest film Her suggests that the biggest problem we’ll have in acclimating to artificial life might not be what we think of them, but how we feel about them.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Cinema File #285: "Kiss Of The Damned" Review

Rounding out my impromptu trilogy of female-centric vampire movies from the past year, Kiss Of The Damned is a trashy throwback to 70's exploitation cinema with presumptions of artsy flair and just enough knowing nods to the old school horror canon to almost make you forget how shallow and messy it all is. It begins in the dark woods as a demonic, blood soaked killer stalks its prey and howls at the night, with a title card font taken straight out of a Hammer movie, ultimately promising more than it is capable of delivering. There are more than a few memorably stylish moments, maybe just enough to justify one viewing, but in its meandering attempt to do too much with too little, it fails to live up to the classics it is so obviously trying to emulate.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Cinema File #284: "A Madea Christmas" Review

In my long and strange journey to become the internet's reigning expert on all things Madea, I've unexpectedly gone from an uninformed detractor to probably the closest thing you could call a Madea fan while still maintaining a respect for quality cinema. While I can't go so far as to call any of the movies featuring her good, they have all had at least the one saving grace in the Madea character herself, a refreshingly boisterous if somewhat rambling anti-heroine speaking truth to nonsense in a moral universe clearly tailor made to find her in the right. More often than not the black and white world she inhabits strains credulity and patience as lessons either heinous or obvious are wedged down the audience's collective throat, but then what better context is there for shallow platitudes and conditional unrealism than a Christmas movie?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Saturday Night Jive, Episode Three! - Not To Be Racist...But You Can Be Racist

Hey gang, check out the latest episode of my weekly SNL recap podcast Saturday Night Jive. This week we talk about last nights episode featuring perennial host John Goodman and musical guests Kings Of Leon. We get all hot button with some particularly racy news, slog through yet another less than stellar episode with a host given far too little to work with, briefly touch on some of our favorite hosts, hosts that never were, and future hosts that may currently be rotting corpses, groove on some Father Guido Sarducci trivia, and try to pretend our mother isn't sitting in the room quietly. Enjoy folks.


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Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Dirty Sons Of Pitches Podcast - Episode 66: Die Hard In A..., Now Available!

Hey gang, check out the latest episode of my podcast, The Dirty Sons Of Pitches, where we pitch Die Hard In A Something movies just in time for Christmas, relate the wonders of an opening night jaunt to see Madea's Christmas, spell Boobs upside down on a calculator, trend on Twitter with #dicktache, and Asylumize the top grossing movies of the year with special guest Casper Van Dien. Enjoy!


Friday, December 13, 2013

The Cinema File #283: "Byzantium" Review

I have a word document on my computer dedicated to rough drafts of my reviews, and at the top of the first page is a list of films that I have recently seen, but have yet to write about. Typically this list changes by the day as I attempt to review most if not all of the movies I see, but occasional there are one or two movies that linger for weeks, or even months. The Tina Fey dramedy Admission probably hung around the longest, stuck in the top spot until I finally gave up, unable to think of anything meaningful to say about it. Byzantium is a close second, but not for lack of an analytical approach. I just really wish I could pretend this movie never happened to me. Unfortunately, since I already reviewed one of the better vampire movies of the last few years, I suppose it’s only right that I tackle one of the worst.

Check This Out!: Stop Or My Mom Will Crossover On Another Podcast?

My mother Andrea, co-host of Stop Or My Mom Will Podcast, just did a guest spot on another, presumably more popular and listenable cast on Blogtalkradio hosted by Tessa Dick, wife of legendary science fiction author Phillip K. Dick. If you like our show but would prefer it with 100% less me in it, and want to hear some raw unfettered mom talk about all things Kennedy, check it out via the link below.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Stop Or My Mom Will Podcast: Episode 11 - Part One. Now Available!

Hey guys, check out the latest episode of Stop Or My Mom Will Podcast, which is actually part one of an old unreleased episode, as this weeks Crypto Conspiracy was delayed due to not quite technical difficulties (translation: screaming fights). Enjoy this discussion of something or other from a few weeks ago. 

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Schlockbusted #9: "Fright Night 2: The New Blood" Review

I suppose this was bound to happen sooner or later. The dueling impulses of horror movies to generate endless sequels and invite modern remakes of classic films was a recipe for the kind of confusion brought about by a movie like Fright Night 2: The New Blood. Is it a sequel to the recent remake of Fright Night, or a remake of the original Fright Night 2, or both? Its billed as a sequel to the remake, but features a female villainess clearly evocative of the antagonist of the original Fright Night 2, and otherwise the plot is a reboot of the original Fright Night with no narrative connection to the previous remake. I'm at a loss for how to classify this movie, and even more bewildered by the fact that despite being a chintzy straight to DVD knockoff of one of my favorite 80's franchises, its one of the better vampire movies to come along in a long time.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Cinema File #282: "The Wind Rises" Review

When you think of the history of Japan and airplanes, what's the first image that pops into your head? Yeah, I know, its uncomfortable and more than a little unfair especially in light of the warm relationship between America and Japan today, but sometimes these kinds of associations are so powerful that they defy our desire to move past them. The Wind Rises, the supposed last film from Hayao Miyazaki, is particularly preoccupied with this conundrum, charting the life of an innocent dreamer trapped in the gravitational pull of an inevitable war that threatens to turn his dreams into the stuff of nightmares. I say this is the supposed last film of the great animation director because this isn't the first time he's announced his retirement, and if his latest is any indication, one hopes that he might still have some more left in him.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Saturday Night Jive, Episode Two! - Small Penis Jokes...Really?

Check out week two of our ongoing podcast tribute to Saturday Night Live. This week we dissect the latest episode featuring Paul Rudd and the cast of Anchorman 2 with musical guest One Direction. Could this be the worst episode of the season so far? We ask and answer the question fairly quickly, and then explore the harsh world of the SNL writers room, sling some Cleghorne! related trivia, reveal the worst recurring character ever, and talk about the ironic joy of Mike Myers movies. Go nuts peoples.

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Dirty Sons Of Pitches Episode 65: Disney Dystopias, Now Available!

Hey guys, another week, another episode of The Dirty Sons Of Pitches, this time uncut and extra dirty with a half hour more of ums, uhs, and easily editable tangents as we experiment with a new format that lets us be lazy and get these out at a more reasonable time. This week the pitch is horrible futures for children, inspired by the teenage dystopia films Catching Fire and Ender's Game. We also talk superhero news, famous deaths, Disney-fi classic scifi horror tales, and find out how the sausage is made. Enjoy.

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Schlockbusted #8: "Horrors Of War" Review

Depending on who you are and where you're from, chances are you've probably not heard of this movie. Its rare and even took me a while to track down, and I would never have heard of it and wouldn't be reviewing it at all if I didn't have a personal connection to it. Horrors Of War is a Nazisploitation movie (as I've said before, a genre near and dear to my heart) made by a crew of local Ohio based filmmakers who I have come to know through my participation in the Columbus Independent film scene. I learned of this movie via a dickish review posted to the Mid-Ohio Filmmakers Association Facebook page that I will not link to or reference beyond this point, because the guy who wrote it can go fuck himself for various reasons that need not be addressed here. Still, I felt that just based on the fact that people I knew coincidentally made something so in line with my tastes, I had no excuse not to check it out and tell you all what I thought about it.

The Cinema File #281: "An Adventure In Space And Time" Review

I know I'm a little late on this, but I wanted to make sure I covered it before the Christmas Special anyway. With all the fanfare and retrospective love surrounding the recent 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, I'm surprised I haven't heard more about the feature length docudrama released about the show's first years. Written by long time new Who and Sherlock writer Mark Gatiss, An Adventure In Space And Time is easily as fitting and as moving a tribute to the history of the series as the special it was meant to help promote, and works so well on its own that I almost feel bad that we had to wait this long for a milestone to justify its production. Not sure if it will get a larger release as it seems to have been overshadowed by the 50th and the upcoming last outing for Matt Smith, but it would be a shame if more Whovians weren't given the chance to see it if they understandably missed it the first time around.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Dirty Sons Of Pitches, Episode 64: Halloween Special, Now Available!

Check out the latest episode of The Dirty Sons Of Pitches, our Halloween episode, just in time for Christmas. Journey into the fiasco that is our make-up for a lost episode, where we pitch Stephen King movies in honor of the recent Carrie remake (remember that movie? no?), pitch a surprise sequel to The Odd Life Of Timothy Greene and learn the horrifying truth behind the Green Mile (Hint, it involves water borne plant life and penises). Also, because I was there, Quantum Leap references abound! Enjoy.

Download Directly HERE
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