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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Theory of Everything

METHOD
The Theory of Everything - Method

Following the SAGs, and the win by Eddie Redmayne (now that's a SAG and a Golden Globe for Redmayne) I finally decided, "Screw it, I need to find out what all the fuss is all about." This brings me to "The Theory of Everything," the, some might say, ultimate story of Stephen Hawking and his fight against ALS with the help of his first wife. At it's core, "Everything" is what you would expect in a melodramatic biopic. There are happy moments, sad moments, moments of triumph, moments of loss, and many more moments. However, and I'll be the first person to say maybe I was wrong, the performance of Redmayne is method and pretty extraordinary, but is that enough to drive a film to greatness?

So, the story of "Everything" is pretty well known at this point, especially if you know the story of Stephen Hawking, a man who's career is nearly torpedoed by Lou Gehrig's Disease......or so we think. We also see the up-and-down relationship between Hawking and his first wife, Jane, played by Felicity Jones. Other than that we get a few scenes when Hawking talks about black holes and radiation, but other than that, it's a film about what two people will do to keep both a relationship and career working.

With that being said, is "Everything" a good film? Meh, it's simply okay, as a film that is. This is the same problem that I had with "Foxcatcher." The performances in this film and "Foxcatcher" are very well done, yet the film itself is simply "okay." Nothing in particular stands out in "Everything" other than the fact that Redmayne buries himself in the mythos of Stephen Hawking. The mannerisms, speech, and pain you feel is real. You feel that Redmayne IS Hawking.

What also detracts from the film, for me at least, is the metaphor of between love, black holes, and Hawking's disability. Sure, I know you need a plot device that both summarizes his theories and coincides with his relationship with Jane, but it seems forced and all together cliché. There is also the issue of his theories essentially glazed over. There are two scenes where his theories are brought up and slightly talked about. I also find it hard to believe that his theories were all based on love and the metaphor that he was a "star" being sucked into a black hole. Again, just my issues with hiding a serious subject inside a pseudo-cheesy love story.

The rest of the cast is decent enough with Jones pulling her weight and even the future Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) putting in a good performance as Jonathan Jones. Another thing I like is the conflict between Jane's Christian beliefs and Hawking's agnostic sensibility, but again, while it's nice they touched on that aspect of their life together it seemed rushed and merely a footnote.

In conclusion, will Redmayne do what many people thought the unthinkable and upset Michael Keaton in this year's Oscars? There are two things that I'm noticing at this time. With so many people comparing Redmayne's performance to Daniel Day-Lewis' in "My Left Foot" (which won Day-Lewis the Oscar) the odds are improving for him. Second, I liken "Everything" to "Amoure" another film that gained major momentum going into the Oscar season, and even dealt with very similar content. Combine that with the fact that Julianne Moor will likely win her first Oscar for "Still Alice" another film dealing with a character with a debilitating disease, this could be the upset that not many saw coming until now. While "Everything" isn't "everything" it's cracked up to be, it's one of the best male acting performances of 2014.

If you like this review, VOTE FOR US HERE: http://www.geekcastradio.com/2nd-annual-gcrn-awards-2015

Fun Fact: Hawking's seminal book "A Brief History of Time" was published in 1988 and has sold over 10 Million copies.

GCRN Nomination Celebration




Most people would celebrate an award nomination with a nice, shared glass of champagne.  Simplistic Reviews celebrates by singing their ass off and challenging anyone to best them.  Thanks to The Geekcast Radio Network and the fans for the nomination!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Taboo Films: A Serbian Film

SERBIAN
A Serbian Film - Serbian

Since we are in a bit of a swoon when it comes to new films to start 2015, I felt it only appropriate to start a new series of films covering some of the more notorious and taboo films to be released. I tried to do something like this about a year ago, sometime around Christmas, but the idea lost steam, mainly because watching a lot of these types of films is a grueling and not all around pleasant experience. So here I am again, trying this again, and I figured if I was going to go all in I might as well start with one of the more notorious film in recent years, 2010's "A Serbian Film," a film that is so Serbian it might turn you Serbian.

So, "A Serbian Film" stars Milos, a former porn star who now has a wife and a young son. As money is slowly dwindling away, Milos decides to take a mysterious offer from a man named Vukmir. With the deal sealed, Milos begins his work with Vukmir which starts "innocently"with standard porno fare, but things begin to take a dark turn as the days progress, including a two-day period where Milos must re-track his steps after passing out and waking up in his own bed covered in blood.

Let me put this out there; "Serbian" is sick, disgusting, and extremely exploitative, but while it is a pretty reprehensible film, that doesn't mean it doesn't have a point. According to director, Srdjan Spasojevic, the film is supposed to represent the way that the Serbian government has fu*ked it's people over for decades. and Spasojevic means fu*ked. "Serbian" goes beyond what most people, even with the worst of taste, would be in a film. There is murder, necrophilia, pedophilia, incest, and literal skull fu*king throughout the film's "edited" 99 minute run time. I mention edited because the film needed to be edited down an extra 19 minutes just to be suited for an NC-17 rating. Not many directors have to cut that much just to make a film barely viewable for a super select audience.

In the vein of films like "Salo," "Martyrs" "Irreversible" and "Cannibal Holocaust," "Serbian" is a shock to the system. However, what I will say about it, is that similar to "Irreversible" and other films of that ilk, it's shot very expertly and looks incredibly sharp. While the imagery will surely disturb you, that isn't to stay that the film looks bad.  Aside from the photography, the acting is also fairly decent. Srdjan Todorovic, who plays Milos, gives a convincing performance as a man who is still living in his own shadow while trying to provide for a family under extremely harsh conditions.

I wish there was more to write about this film, but it really just boils down to the fact that people will either seek this film out to watch, or avoid it entirely. I believe that any part of a well-rounded film diet consists of equal parts film and trash. And again, I'm not calling "A Serbian Film" trash, even though I'm sure many people will see it that way, and yes, duly noted, its an extreme film and features very graphic imagery that will put a lot of people off, but so did "The Passion of the Christ." While I don't whole-heartedly recommend "A Serbian Film" I do think it's a film experience that might make you "Hmm, why are films like this being made if not just for exploitation purposes. There has to be another reason." Whether there is another reason of not, it's still a film worthy of your time, either for sick curiosity, film experience, or just that challenge of watching "rough cinema."

"Fun" Fact: "A Serbian Film" was in fact shot in Serbia, over the course of 61 days.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine - Cobra

EXTREME

Welcome back to another “Action Movie Time Machine”. As we continue our trek into the realm of action films that have a flair for the more macabre, “Horror Movie Killers”, we will be looking closely at Sylvester Stallone and a Danish model who teach a killer cult how to love again in “Cobra”. All aboard! The “Action Movie Time Machine” is now departing.

The year is 1986. RUN DMC made Aerosmith popular again with “Walk This Way”, everyone learned not to take soap-operas so seriously when “Dallas” had all been a dream and “The REAL Ghostbusters” started kickin' ass and takin' names.

THE SKINNY
Cobra” begins with a nameless mad man, armed to the teeth, who has strolled into the local supermarket and begun blowing people away. All in the name of something called “The New World”. The local police call in their special weapon, Marion Cobretti, aka Cobra, Sylvester Stallone. Cobra isn't one to take it easy on a violent perp. And in moments the mad man is stabbed in the chest and unloaded on. Cobra and his partner are what the police force affectionately call “The Zombie Squad”. They're the guys who take cases no one else wants. The bottom line.
 
As the crime-scene is being cleaned up and the dead loaded into meat wagons, Cobra is harassed by the media – questioning his often deadly tactics. This is recurring theme of the film. That, and the idea that a revolving door policy keeps criminals on the streets and peaceful citizens in terror.

Aside from this days events, the city has been shaking in it's boots. There is a serial killer on the lose known as the “Night Slasher”, who has been slashing and stabbing his victims for weeks now. Cobra and his partner Gonzales, Reni Santoni, have been brought in to help find the killer. Maybe their unique brand of gun-slinging detective work are sure to make the case break wide open.

While Cobra and Gonzales hit the streets to rattle some cages, the killer...or killers strike. Late one night as young Ingrid, Brigitte Nielsen, is on her way home from a photo shoot, she witnesses a woman being murdered and gets a clear look at the face of one of the killers. The leader of the group, who is unnamed but we learn is the Night Slasher, Brian Thompson, instructs one of his underlings, who is a cop, to find Ingrid's identity by using her license plate. This group of killers is a cult, bent on ushering in their order of “The New World”. Whatever the hell that is.

Why is it a cult? Well there are several scenes that show the group of killers in black performing some sort of ceremony held in what looks like a parking garage. They are chanting and clanking axes and other bladed weapons together. It's no Stone Cutters, but it'll have to do.
 
Once the Night Slasher and friends learn who Ingrid is they set out to kill her, but she narrowly escapes and reports the attack to the police. This is where Ingrid and Cobra meet, bump uglies and Cobra promises to protect her from the maniac cult.

The Night Stalker uses his police resources to find out who is working on the case and this results in several more attacks on the life of Ingrid, Cobra and Gonzales. One of these attacks involves the Night Slasher going after Ingrid while she's being looked after at the hospital. A 20 something woman being attacked by a silent stalker with a big knife. Nothing has reminded me more of Halloween 2. Just another reason “Cobra” is getting the “Horror Movie Killers” treatment.

One of these attacks involves the cult converging on our protagonists as a biker gang. This becomes a chase, with Cobra and Ingrid running for their lives. They end up at a near by refinery. After the cult is dispatched, one by one at the hands of Cobra, Cobra and the Night Slasher go head to head. The Night Stalker eggs Cobra on, in typical 80s bad guy fashion and the two throw down in a round of fisticuffs that ends with the Night Stalker being impaled on a giant hook. Cobra operated the hook like a crane and directs the Night Stalker into some sort of industrial furnace until he is no more.
 
The film ends with Cobra and Ingrid riding off into the sunset on one of the cultists motorcycles. The End.

THE VERDICT
“Cobra” is the spiritual successor to films like “Dirty Hairy”. What both “Cobra” and “Dirty Hairy” share is a cop forced to push the envelope in order to do his job. A cop who struggles against the limitations of the bureaucracy he works for, in a city that is getting more violent every day.

But in this case, “Cobra” is more extreme. Instead of Hairy, who kills to protect himself while protecting  citizens, Cobretti kills because his world is kill or be killed and the citizens just get in the way. Instead of a lone killer, there is an entire cult of killers. And the same it true with the underlying social commentary. The police work of Dirty Hairy is handicapped by scrutinizing reporters, policy makers and the city itself who vilify Hairy for not being politically correct, and of course, using excessive force.

“Cobra” paints a world were criminals are so common, even Granny has to shoot two or three hoods on her way home from bingo. The criminals has banded together in some lose organization, or cult, to further spread murder and mayhem without any clear goal. How someone might take notice of crime getting worse year after year by looking at faceless, nameless statistics. Oh, and there is also excessive force.

Over all, “Cobra” isn't a terrible movie. Stallone is fine. The action is fine. The underlying message is fine, albeit overly sensationalized in a way that only a mid-80s Reagan voter could concoct, but otherwise fine.
I guess my problem with this movie is it's villain. Who us this cult? Why is it a cult? Other than general mayhem, what do they want? What is their goal? I understand the idea of crime being looked at as a statistic and how it seems to middle America that the boogey man is around every corner, but this wasn't developed well enough. I like the idea and maybe it was just lost in translation between the Stallone, the writer, and George Cosmatos, the director.

A much better depiction of America being terrified of itself can be found in “The Purge”, or even better yet “The Purge: Anarchy”. Everyone who has the urge to kill is set lose upon the city to do what they will with little or no explanation as to why they are doing the things they are doing. Just danger around every corner for the protagonist. This is the world that “Cobra” lives in.
  As the 80s continued, action films got more and more bleak and this is a fair example of that. I love how the 80s flicks became filled with doom and dread. “Cobra”s dark nature can be entertaining and watching a lesser known Stallone flick is a lot of fun. But for my money “Dirty Hairy” is the cop for me. Next time, we'll be paying ol' Chuck Norris another visit as he kicks the ass of a supernatural killer.

I’m Cory Carr and this concludes another trip on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, Semper Fi Punk!

For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Open Windows

CLOSED
Open Windows - Closed

It's strange how a trailer can make you want to see a film, but upon seeing said film, you really have to question your judgement. This is exactly how I felt about "Open Windows." There is an interesting premise, smart camerawork, and a few other things that standout, but I feel like this could have been a made for TV Lifetime or CW movie.

"Windows" is the tale of Jill Goddard, played by Sasha Grey, who is doing a press junket for her latest film "Dark Sky." In the wings is Nick Chambers, Jill's biggest fan, played by Elijah Wood. Nick, having won a contest to meet Jill, receives the bad news from her "manager," Chord, that Jill is going blow him off for a night with her boyfriend. While Nick is heartbroken, Chord convinces him "don't get mad, get even." Add in a group of hackers, a case of mistaken identity, a kidnapping, a car chase, and some explosions, and that's "Windows" in a nutshell.

Where do I start with this movie. I'll say this, it's not a bad film per say, but the fact that it's so frenetic and there are so many things happening at the same time it's a little confusing and it really distracts from the movie. It almost seems like the director really wanted to show you everything he ever learned about the Internet, hacking, and spying, roll it into a webpage view, add shaky cam, and boom, you have this film.

While the production is messy, I actually liked the acting. Wood is effective as playing the same character he's been playing since he finished up the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy; the creepy looking man who still happens to look like a 16 year old kid. The other revelation is Sasha Grey, and I'm just not saying that because she is incredibly easy on the eyes, but she can actually act relatively effectively. Her portrayal as pretty much herself, is fun and just campy enough to be entertaining. Did I mention how good looking she is in this film.....

Overall, the premise of "Windows" has potential, but it trips all over itself with its technological thriller premise and editing style. If there is anything to watch it's Wood's desire to keep making small independent films that have promise, and of course, Sasha Grey.

Fun Fact: At one of the festivals the movie was screened at, the director, Nacho Vigalondo, said it was OK for the audience to slap him on their way out if they didn't like the movie.

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast (Ep. 36) January 2015

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY



It's a brand new year and a brand new episode of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast.  This month the boys are not just joined by a Vern...they are joined by The Vern from The As You Watch Podcast and The Vern's Video Video Vortex.  They pop his Simplistic cherry with a good ol' game of Kill, F&%k, Marry.  And like all guests, the boys decide to go Inside The Podcaster...yes...it's as gross as it sounds.  Also...Julie and Vern admit their feeling for each other.  All this and more on this January 2015 edition of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast

Show Notes
Bill Cosby
Deadpool Dead
No Bourne Crossover
Wolverine Dead
Quicksilver & Scarlet Witch No Longer Mutants
Fantastic Four Josh Trank Set Report
Batman v Superman Split

Music Notes
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Theme
G.I. Joe Theme
Thundercats Theme
Birds & Brass By Sort Of Soul
Action In Memphis By Johnny Pearson
My Flows Is Tight By Lord Digga
Inside The Actors Studio Theme Angelo Badalamenti




                           Check us out on FacebookTwitterYouTubeLetterboxd, and Pinterest

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Unboxing/Review: Rotten Rentals > VHS Packs & Horror Collectibles

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Ready to try something a little different?

Here we go!

We start our journey with an unknown package from my Simplistic Reviews Brother Matthew...



Simplistic TV: Agent Carter Premiere Episode

SPIRIT
Maybe it's because I'm an unapologetic Marvel "fanboy".  Maybe it's because strong female heroines like Ellen Ripley, Beatrix Kiddo, and Sarah Connor have always been more interesting to me than their stereotypical square-jawed Dudley Do-Right male counterparts.  Maybe it's because several other shows in the same genre, including its parent company predecessor, underwhelmed out the gate.  Maybe it's because my male physiology reacts to seeing the flawless Hayley Atwell by raising my endorphin levels to a staggering amount.  Hell, it may be all of those reasons combined which resulted in my enjoyment of the premiere for Agent Carter. 

Agent Carter, a spin-off of Marvel's best One-Shot short film of the same name and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., takes place about a year after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger and follows that film's standout character, Agent Peggy Carter.  Carter, a war hero of the highest order, is now forced to find her way and try to do her job as a spy while stuck in a chauvinistic, male driven world keen to keep her serving coffee and answering phones.  So yeah, it's like Mad Men meets Alias.  Truthfully, the series gives Marvel a real opportunity to flesh out the Peggy Carter character.  Thus, bringing more understanding as to why Cap' still pines for her and why she would be the one chosen as the first Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Carter has got the no nonsense determination of a Nick Fury and the beautiful but deadly charm of Black Widow.

"Love The Hat."
In defense of Agent Carter's less enjoyable programming peers, shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Constantine, and even (gulp) Gotham have story arcs meant to be spread across the normal 20 to 26 episode season structure.  Agent Carter is meant to be a strong, short arching, cinematic punch of 8 episodes; much like a standard UK television series.  (Which is why UK television is of a higher quality than American television in my opinion.  Although, that's a conversation for another day)  However, it is clear from at least the first two episodes that showrunners Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas are confident in what they are doing, know what their show needs to accomplish, and know how to SMOOTHLY insert elements of its comic book and MCU source material in a way that enhances the experience instead of hindering it.  (Ahem!  Gotham.  Ahem!)  And really, it's just plain fun.  The 40s era SPIRIT and charm has always been a great vessel for any absurd or unbelievable concepts the show wants to try.  (See: Indiana Jones)  And don't worry about punches being pulled either.  Agent Carter may not be Boardwalk Empire in terms of graphic violence, but it is not from a lack of trying.  There is death and brutality in this female led, 40s era, 8 o'clock, comic book show, owned by Disney that may surprise you. 

Hayley Atwell seems to be born to play this role.  You can see why Marvel had the confidence to give her a big showcase show like this that she has to practically carry alone.  She not only nails every countering line to the volley of sexist insults hurled her way, she seems to have the ability to share an instant chemistry with whichever actor they put across from her.  She fortunately gets to separate herself from Scarlett Johansson and Ming-Na because they both play very guarded characters.  Peggy Carter is guarded in a different way in my opinion.  While Melinda May and Black Widow use lies to protect themselves, Carter, armed with truth, almost dares anyone wanting to crack her shell to step up try.  Her confidence as a character and Atwell's portrayal of that confidence is perfect.

Dominic Cooper, although having a minor role, is still great as Howard Stark.  He does not take the easy way out by doing a Robert Downey Jr. impersonation.  He leans more toward the Howard Hughes/Citizen Kane type of billionaire-genius-playboy-philanthropist.  My one tiny gripe would be the Edwin Jarvis character, played by James D'Arcy.  D'Arcy is a great choice for the role and plays Jarvis well, but I hope the writers turn up his snark a bit more.  I realize I am contaminated by Paul Bettany's brilliant A.I. version, and I know they are utilizing the role reversal of Peggy being tough and Jarvis being foppish.  I just want the banter between the two of them to be a little more biting, much like it is with Downey Jr. and Bettany.  It is there between the two...but I'm greedy for more. 

The rest of the supporting cast is fine in their roles, more or less not getting in the way of the story.  I say that hoping the Lyndsy Fonseca waitress character Angie either amounts to something much bigger or falls a little more to the wayside.  Shea Whigham's character Roger Dooley is a preferable boss to Peggy Carter than Bradley Whitford's Agent Flynn from the Marvel One-Shot.  Dooley seems to fit better in the era than Whitford's Agent Flynn did.  Now, that may just be because I'm used to seeing Whigham on Boardwalk Empire.  However, I like to think it's his gruff and unapologetic use of chauvinism as apposed to Flynn's snarky approach.  Whigham is clueless to Carter's activities, but I don't see him as a cliched idiot. 

While staying up to see a humdrum Ant-Man trailer, I managed to find something even better cooking right under my nose.  Agent Carter is a show that hits the ground running with a quality to it that might catch you off guard.  It is a welcome addition to the Marvel universe and seems to bring hope that Marvel shows to follow will also learn from its predecessors mistakes.  Scan yourself for vita-rays...have someone tie you to a chair...turn on some Benny Goodman...oh and tip generously...watch it...then tell me I'm wrong.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine - Hero and the Terror

MISFIRE

An odd thing happened recently as I was milling through my movie database. I noticed a strange similarity. During the '80s, there were a handful of action flicks that didn't just have a villain bent on revenge or world domination. These villains were all formed out of horror chiches. So, all aboard the “Action Movie Time Machine” as we travel to the '80s to find slashers and murderous cults in the genre of action.

The year is 1988. Michael Jackson wasn't yet the butt of a joke and instead was in his own anthology film “Moonwalker”. A group of teenagers were “Saved By the Bell”, and Stephen Hawking becomes a bestselling author with his book “A Brief History of Time”.

THE SKINNY
Hero and the Terror” is about detective Danny O'Brien, Chuck Norris, who has become a bit of a celebrity since he captured Simon Moon – a man who has committed a series of vicious murders in which he stalks women, snaps their necks and keeps them as rag doll trophies. It's explained in passing conversation that Moon was abused as a child and has grown up deranged. No, this isn't a Slaughter Film review, even though we're in horror movie territory.


O'Brien has since been given the nickname “Hero” by the local media. A name that he laments. O'Brien is the type of guy who's too modest to accept the praise and would rather avoid it all in place of some hard detective work.

Things aren't all rainbows and lollipops for O'Brien. Since he apprehended Moon, he has been terrorized by reoccurring nightmares of Moon on his killing spree. He reaches out to a psychologist to help interpret and overcome his dreams, who he later develops a relationship with and even knocks up. Between his night terrors and his pregnant girlfriend, Kay, we get to see a just how complicated and caring O'Brien is... But I just wanna see Chuck Norris deliver some justice to the skulls of mindless thugs in the form of a roundhouse kick. Am I right?
O'Brien's nightmares become reality when Moon escapes from his prison cell and disappears into the rural wilderness. Actually, he steals a van, rams it through the facilities guard gate, then off a cliff and into the ocean. LOL He escaped only to, seemingly, kill himself in a car accident. Oh, but Moon lives to kill more women.

Once the bodies of young women start turning up in Los Angeles, the media explodes with theories that Moon has returned. The Mayor, played by Ron O'Neil – aka “Superfly” himself, calls in the chief of police and O'Brien to take a look at the evidence and re-assure the public that these recent killings are not the work of Moon. Of course O'Brien can't do that.

Things spice up when one young woman turns up missing and another is found dead outside the town's recently renovated historic theater.

O'Brien orders a search of the theater – from top to bottom – suspecting that Moon, injured and weak from his car ride over the cliff, made his way to the vacated theater. The search reveals nothing, but O'Brien takes it upon himself to investigate further. In the attic above the theater, O'Brien discovers a series of catacombs. This doesn't make much sense to me. These catacombs look more like sewer tunnels. Why would these be above a theater? I don't know, I'm just along for the ride.

O'Brien follows the tunnels for a while before he finds Moon's roost. A room willed with candles and several more dead women that Moon was saving as his trophies. Moon appears from the shadows and a firght breaks out that leads through the attic of the theater and onto the roof.

O'Brien delivers some sweet kung-fu justice before he manages to get behind Moon to choke him out. In classic slasher movie tradition the killer comes back to life for one last scare. O'Brien throws Moon through the theaters skylight, and he falls to his death.
The film ends with O'Brien visiting his girlfriend in the hospital -- she just gave birth to their child. He hobbles through the hospital halls, broken and beaten by Moon, as he grabs a priest to wed the them there in the hospital. The End.

I guess O'Brien didn't need a shrink to cure him of his nightmares. Just a healthy dose of murder.

THE VERDICT
“Hero and the Terror” has potential, but it lacks in story telling. The direction and/or editing leave something to be desired. The plot and characters are just fine, but my god, everything this film has in it's favor is completely avoided. As if it were on purpose.

My first problem is with the killer who isn't developed enough to be a true “terror”. Even though Moon follows in the footsteps of other silent killers like Jason, “Friday the 13th, and Michael Myers, “Halloween”, there isn't enough suspense to make him, or his actions terrifying. The fact that Moon never speaks is a bit of a missed opportunity to expand the idea that he's deranged. We should get a glimpse into the mind of the man behind all the killings. Unfortunately, Moon exists only for O'Brien to have something to do.

O'Brien's girlfriend, Kay, being pregnant and having second thoughts about her life isn't important and too much time is spent on it. The pregnancy is a just a way to show that there is more to O'Brien than the other, more action packed characters portrayed by Norris. The problem with this is that people don't watch Chuck Norris flicks to watch him share his emotions.

Speaking of emotions, Norris isn't the best actor, but by no means is he a BAD actor. However, in this movie, he seems stiff and uninteresting. Again, I point my finger at the director. As if no one explained to the actors how they should act, and many of them deliver their lines devoid of emotions.
 It's a shame Chuck Norris wasn't in more better movies. Some aren't bad, but largely they go unnoticed or forgotten. But not anymore! Lets see what other Chuck Norris flicks I can uncover with the “Action Movie Time Machine”.

I’m Cory Carr and this concludes another trip on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, Semper Fi Punk!

For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Foxcatcher

RELUCTANT

Foxcatcher - Reluctant

 As 2014 trickled away, the push for all the potentially Oscar nominated fare slowly arrives in my neck of the woods, or courtesy of the Internet. Until the day arrives that I begin to receive screeners to watch at my leisure instead of "borrowing" from other sources, this is the reality of the situation. Now that that little rant is done let's get to "Foxcatcher," a film that wants to be so good, and it is for the most part, but it's reluctant to be as good as it could be.

"Foxcather" is the true story of the US Olympic Wrestling program and John Du Pont, the eccentric millionaire heir to the Du Pont fortune. Leading up to the 1988 Seoul Summer Games, Du Pont wants to bankroll and make his estate, Foxcather, the official training facility of the US Wrestling Team. Du Pont invites gold medalist, Mark Schultz, and his brother, David, to help train for the Games, and while Dave declines as to not uproot his family, the Mark leaves to join du Pont and carve out his own Olympic legacy. Over the course of training, Mark's life and career begin to fall apart as du Pont blurs the lines between "coach", friend, father, and trainer.

Here is the thing about "Foxcatcher," the less you know, the better off you will be. Personally, I knew next to nothing about this true story and it helped my enjoyment of the film quite a bit. To be honest, it's the same well I felt when I was watching "Moneyball." The way that Bennett Miller weaves true stories into tales of mythic proportions is quite amazing and the level of performance he gets from his actors is also something to be applauded. However, unlike "Capote" and "Moneyball," I find "Foxcatcher" to be Miller's most reluctant work to date, and perhaps it's because he is dealing with a much more personal and tragic story, but it feels like something is being held back for much of the over two hour run time of the film.

This isn't to say that "Foxcather" isn't a good film; it's quite good, but similar to the issue that I had with another one of my top films of 2014, "Whiplash" the acting performances outshine the totality of the film itself. While both Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo have been getting the bulk of the accolades, and rightfully so, it's Channing Tatum, whose turn as tortured Olympic wrestler, Mark Schultz, is the unspoken gem of the film. Tatum has been on a tear lately with great comedic turns in the "21 Jump Street" films and showcasing some real acting chops in "Magic Mike" but his acting in "Foxcatcher" is on another level. He is what makes the film go and his scenes with Carell's du Pont and Ruffalo's David Schultz, are amazing. He's come a long way from "Step Up" if I do say so myself.

Speaking of Carell, he continues to impress and has come a long way from his days as Michael Scott from "The Office." His take on eccentric millionaire John du Pont is haunting and reminds me a lot of Phillip Seymour Hoffman's take on Truman Capote. It's taut, creepy, and child-like as du Pont is truly a "man" in need of purpose and finds it in Mark until times get tough.

The last thing I'll bring up is the actual setting of the du Pont residence which gives "Foxcatcher" an almost horror movie feeling with a touch of "Fargo" thrown in. The Foxcatcher estate is creepy and whether covered in a thick layer of fog or a white blanket of snow, the hollowed grounds add a creepy element where you almost expected a masked killer with an ax to appear from behind tree.

"Foxcatcher" while great, is flawed, and it's mainly in the pacing. I feel like 15-20 minutes could have been cut from the film and the same story could have been told. With all that being said, however, I truly enjoyed the film and just the acting alone makes it one of the favorites of 2014.

Fun Fact: Wrestling was first introduced in the ancient Olympic Games in 708 B.

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