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Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast: 2013 Oscars Special


In this very special edition of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast we break down the 2013 Academy Award, this Sunday, February 24th.  Will "Argo" make The Academy rue the day they didn't nominate Ben Affleck for a best actor award for "Gigli?"  Will another French Revolution occur with "Amour?"  Will we ever get to see the SyFy Original movie, "Zero Dark Thirty-One: The Return of bin Laden?"

All of this and much, much more in our special Oscar edition of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast.  Below are the categories we cover in the podcast, with our favorites BOLDED.

Best Animated Film: FRANKENWEENIE
PIRATES: BAND OF MISFITS
BRAVE
PARANORMAN
WRECK IT RALPH

Best Screenplay Adapted: CHRIS TERRIO-ARGO
LUCY ALIBAR & BEN ZEITLIN-BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
DAVID MAGEE-LIFE OF PI, 
TONY KUSHNER- LINCOLN
DAVID O. RUSSELL-SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Best Original Screenplay: MICHAEL HANEKE-AMOUR, 
QUENTIN TARANTINO-DJANGO
JOHN GATINS-FLIGHT
WES ANDERSON & ROMAN COPPOLA-MOONRISE KINGDOM
MARK BOAL-ZERO DARK THIRTY

Directing: MICHAEL HANEKE-AMOUR, 
BEN ZEITLIN-BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
ANG LEE-LIFE OF PI
STEVEN SPIELBERG-LINCOLN
DAVID O. RUSSELL-SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Best Supporting Actress: AMY ADAMS-THE MASTER
SALLY FIELD-LINCOLN
ANNE HATHAWAY-LES MISERABLES
HELEN HUNT-THE SESSIONS
JACKI WEAVER-SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.

Best Supporting Actor: ALAN ARKIN-ARGO
ROBERT DENIRO-SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
 PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN-THE MASTER
TOMMY LEE JONES-LINCOLN 
CHRISTOPH WALTZ-DJANGO UNCHAINED

Best Actress: JESSICA CHASTAIN-ZERO DARK THIRTY
 JENNIFER LAWRENCE-SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK 
EMMANUELLE RIVA-AMOUR
QUVENZHANE WALLIS-BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
NAOMI WATTS-THE IMPOSSIBLE

Best Actor: BRADLEY COOPER-SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK 
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS-LINCOLN
HUGH JACKMAN-LES MISERABLES
JOAQUIN PHOENIX-THE MASTER
DENZEL WASHINGTON-FLIGHT

Best Picture-AMOUR, 
LIFE OF PI
ARGO
LINCOLN
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD 
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
DJANGO UNCHAINED
ZERO DARK THIRTY
LES MISERABLES

Click on the link below to download the podcast and enjoy folks!

Show Notes

Official Academy Awards Site 
Django Review
Silver Linings Playbook Review
The Master Review
Zero Dark Thirty Review

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.

Click HERE to listen to podcast

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Friday, February 8, 2013

London Calling: V For Vendetta

FORGOTTEN

With the Oscar season here and the summer movie season fast approaching, I wanted to talk about a film I think fits into both.  Now comic book films are usually shrugged off as just popcorn fluff.  Most times, they are.  To this day, however, there hasn’t been a comic book film that has challenged me intellectually more than V For Vendetta.  It is one of the most intelligently made, beautifully shot, well performed films of the genre.  But sadly for some reason, it is FORGOTTEN.

V For Vendetta plot revolves around a knife wielding masked terrorist/freedom fighter trying to take down an oppressive British government in the not too distant future.  I put terrorist/freedom fighter because the film blurs the line between the two.  It makes you question the difference and presents the perspective of people on either side of the chaos.  Some would argue that the character of V is clearly the hero and the government is bad.  However, when you really get into the specifics of V’s acts, it is hard to paint him as a true blue hero.  Even an antihero for that matter.  Robin Hood robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.  V is out for vengeance, admittedly so.  He kills in cold blood.  He kills innocents.  He kidnaps.  He tortures.  He does whatever it takes to accomplish his goals.  You might say the ends justify his means, but his acts seen through a different spectrum can easily be construed as terror.  That is why I love this film.  It can be dissected and analyzed even to this day.  The Avengers is my favorite comic book movie of all time, however, V For Vendetta is much meatier when it comes to substance.

Comic book legend Alan Moore is famous for angrily dismissing and disavowing any adaptations of his work.  This is thanks primarily to the abysmal League Of Extraordinary Gentleman.  I wish he’d take a slightly lighter stance on this though.  It might be easy for me to say but, films aren’t bad solely because the filmmakers take liberties with the source material.  I detest Michael Bay’s Transformer films and Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man not just because they changed things.  I detest them because they are poorly written, horribly performed, lowest common denominator catering tripe.  Their changes weren’t done to add anything new or stimulating to the material.  They were made for convenience sake.  The same cannot be said for V For Vendetta.  Yes, V is a warmer character in the film than he was in the comic book.  However, I think that makes him even more complicated when compared to the coldness of his methods.  Yes, the fascist vs. anarchist theme was more liberal vs. neo-conservatism.  However, that is a lot timelier for today’s political atmosphere and still has the nod to the fascist's ideas of purity from the comic book.  My point being that the alterations made in V For Vendetta do not weaken it as a story.  It merely updates it. 

The Wachowskis, the source material meddlers in this case, exist in a weird place for me as a film fan.  I was highly disappointed with their conclusion of The Matrix trilogy, but still respect the fact they always take crazy chances.  They entrusted the directing duties to long time collaborator James McTeigue, while staying on to write and produce.  However, their fingerprints are still all over this picture.  Finding and concentrating on the heart of their cinematic worlds is a common Wachowski m.o..  Where a film like V For Vendetta could have just fallen into the basic action vehicle cliché, the Wachowskis don’t let it.  There are genuinely moving moments in the film that still stun me.  The action scenes are terrific, but always serve as a tool to tell the story.  Not the other way around.

Before The Dark Knight came along, V For Vendetta was my choice for best ensemble cast performance in a comic book film.  Strange category, I know.  However, it is always a relief and a thrill for me when I see great talent trying to do great work in a genre film such as a comic book movie.  It thrilled me in History Of Violence, it thrilled me in The Dark Knight, and it thrilled me in V For Vendetta.  It is still a common misconception that the genre should be treated the way Schumacher treated Batman.  But there can be some amazing work turned in with the cape and cowl subset.  For example, this is by far my favorite performance by Hugo Weaving.  Yes, even more than his iconic Agent Smith.  Odd, seeing as we never see his face and that he was a last second replacement for James Purefoy.  Despite his Oscar, I’d put Weaving’s V right up there with Ledger’s Joker.  To accomplish the subtleties of V’s rage, anguish, humor and theatricality through an emotionless mask with only a voice is no small feat.  Portman, who I’ve loved since Leon: The Professional, seems to be playing a stereotypical damsel at first.  Much like she did in Thor.  However, Evey has the strongest arc in the film.  Her performance highpoint happens during the film's big twist.  Her emotional journey during the four minute long scene hints at the Oscar caliber performance she had in her in the years to come.  Other than the leads, you have stellar supporting performances from John Hurt, Stephen Fry, Roger Allam, and the unsung anchor of the film, Stephen Rea.  There is absolutely no phoning it in here.

V For Vendetta doesn't get nearly as much love as it should.  Even from it's creator.  It seems to get misplaced amongst it's lesser comic book movie brethren   For me, however, it is a film that shall never be FORGOT.  Remember, remember...to watch it....then tell me I'm wrong.  

London Calling: The Great Muppet Caper

The Great Muppet Caper - Whimsical

My first exposure to The Muppets wasn't any of their movies, it was actually "Muppet Babies" which for me, still goes down as one of my favorite cartoons of all time, and the best cartoon of the 1980s.  There was nothing wrong with it; it had "Star Wars", "Indiana Jones", and pretty much any pop culture reference that you could think of at the time.  It was smarter than the kids that were watching it, and for my money, still holds up pretty well.  The Muppet movies didn't really come around for me the first time around, in fact I remember watching most of them on VHS when my dad recorded them for me.  Think about it, "The Muppet Movie" was released in 1979, and to say the least I was the last thing my parents had on their mind at the time.  However, when I was old enough to know how to operate the VCR and go through the stacks of VHS recordings that we had in our house, it was that fateful day I popped in 1981's "The Great Muppet Caper" starring all of your favorite Muppets; from Kermit the Frog to *John Cleese, yes, John Motherf*ckin' Cleese is in this movie.

Like most Muppet fare the plot is going to include plenty of hijinks, celebrity cameos, and humor that goes well over the intended audiences heads, including one in "Caper" that refers to a guy cheating on his wife.  Jim Henson had some balls on him.  Any who, we open "Caper" with our three heroes, Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo in a hot air balloon talking about the opening credits.  Next thing they know their balloon is going down right in the middle of a crowded street which breaks out into our first musical number.  Further hijinks ensue that involve a case of mistaken identity, stolen diamonds, and a love triangle between a frog, pig, and Charles Grodin.  Good clean family fun.

What stands out, like most Muppets movies, are the songs.  The highlight is "Happiness Hotel" that has the sound of a blues, zydeco, and a big band mash-up that works perfectly and will be stuck in your head for days.  Some of the other songs get a little sappy, but there's still a whimsical element to the music that can appeal to the young and old alike.

While the setting of the movie takes place in London, it could really take place anywhere.  This isn't "The Muppets Take Manhattan" where the city is almost as big a star as The Muppets, but you still get a chuckle from some of the dry British humor we all know and love.

If you've only seen 2011's "The Muppets" with Jason Segel and Amy Adams, which is fine in it's own way, do yourself a favor and treat yourself to "The Great Muppet Caper" that has plenty of mad-cap antics and no cheap Disney tie-in's.

*Disclaimer:  Of course I know John Cleese isn't a Muppet, but he might be the king of silly walks.

Fun Fact:  Score one for the U.K.  "The Muppet Show" premiered first across the pond, September 5th, 1976.  It premiered 22 days later on the 27th in the U.S.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hyde Park on Hudson

Hyde Park on Hudson: Mixed

(2012) 94 min  -  Biography | Comedy | Drama 


The film is good. I found it mixed thou, do to the films focus. 

The issue here is we're presented with almost two different stories in a short 94 minute film. In the beginning we start with the relationship with FDR and Daisy (his sixth cousin) and that's fine. But then King George comes to Hyde Park (First time a King and Queen of the United Kingdom visited America) and that's fine too. But the two just don't seem to mix well. Sure the story between FDR and Daisy is okay, but to me the fun parts are with FDR and King George. Here we have two of the world's most powerful people, and they both have disabilities.

King George has issues speaking and FDR can't walk. At a time of world war this is a story that is simply amazing. So I found the relationship between the two a hell of a lot fun as these two men find out that they're more similar then they would of thought. Then the film goes back to Daisy and I just kept wanted it to head back with King George. This kept happening and I kept thinking why couldn't the whole film be about FDR and George. I enjoyed the way the film looked but the script I thought lacked focus.


Bill Murray was awesome. I really enjoyed him
playing that of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I also thought Samuel West as King George VI was good too. The rest of the cast was pretty good but like I said FDR and King George's relationship is the best thing about this "mixed" film.


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