Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Dearest Blog, yesterday I used my trip "recovery day" to catch up on the weekend's cinema. On my agenda: the locally-filmed drama Out of the Furnace.
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't have learned from the trailers.
After four tours of Iraq, a soldier (Casey Affleck) returns home and gets himself in trouble with a brutal criminal (Woody Harrelson), leaving his hard-luck brother (Christian Bale) to try and sort things out.
Trailers for Out of the Furnace were promising, and--with this group of actors--how bad could it be, right? Well...
The cast is, to a person, very very good, but unfortunately a full third of the dialogue is unintelligible. It's like a whole movie full of Ennis Del Mars! I can't say the accent/diction would have been the actors' call. I can say I live near where this movie is set and was filmed, and nobody around here talks that way. It was a very poor choice and almost lost me before the film even hit its halfway point. Christian Bale gets plenty of "I never learned to read!!" Oscar-clip moments, and his co-stars don't come up short in that regard, either. Affleck has some solid moments as the veteran coming off the rails, and Harrelson is especially effective as the film's baddie. The lovely Zoe Saldana holds her own with her decorated co-stars, in a more limited role.
Out of the Furnace conveys hopelessness and despair with every frame. From the dying mill to the family's claustrophobic home to their ugly neighborhood, all of it looks like someplace you'd never want to be, which is exactly where the main characters are...not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. Bale's character might well have been called "Job" for the bad luck he endures, and that seemed very contrived after a point. Much like Gravity before it, the number of things that had to go wrong to get Out of the Furnace where it's going were too unbelievable. The movie also shows its hand pretty early on, leaving little in the way of twists or surprises. The first act is painfully slow and, while the finale picks up a bit, I still lost count of how often I checked the time. In my sparsely-attended weekday screening, a couple people left and didn't come back.
Out of the Furnace clocks in at 116 minutes, which feels like about eight hours. It is rated R for "strong violence, language, and drug content."
Out of the Furnace is a hard film to rate, weighing the huge discrepancy between top-notch performances and the lack of anything else to recommend it. It definitely gets a full point deducted for making me listen to Pearl Jam, a band I despise with the fire of a thousand suns, not just once, but twice!! I suppose we'll say, of a possible nine Weasleys, Out of the Furnace gets four and a half.
Until next time...
I liked you better when you were Batman!
The first teaser trailer for Gareth Edwards redux of Godzilla is out and it does its job perfectly, setting up tone and atmosphere.
We don’t get a clear view of Godzilla but it sure looks like it’ll actually be Godzilla and not some unrecognizable beast like the 1998 film, which also had an excellent teaser trailer I might add. For now, I’ll give Gareth Edward the benefit of the doubt…..
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Frank (Bruce Willis), Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), and Marvin (John Malkovich) fight an unrelenting onslaught of hired killers, heavily armed terrorists, and powerful government officials in their desperate race to prevent a missing portable nuclear device from falling into the wrong hands. Sir Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Lee Byung-hun, and Catherine Zeta Jones co-star. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
Director: Dean Parisot
Cast: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren
Release Date: Jul 19, 2013
Rated PG-13 for pervasive action and violence including frenetic gunplay, and for some language and drug material.
Runtime: 1 hr. 56 min.
I’ll be upfront and say that I enjoyed Red 2 much more than I probably should have. It’s overlong somewhat predictable and incredibly stupid but it delivers the kind of mindless fun I look for occasionally. Dean Parisot direction is far from perfect but he excels with the outlandish action set pieces which are lots of fun. Unfortunately there are plenty of dead spots throughout, the film could have easily been trimmed by a good half hour. By the end of the film even the action pieces start to drag on because the film just seems to go on forever. Still, the cast is clearly enjoying themselves with expanded roles for Mary-Louise Parker and Helen Mirren which I consider a positive. Anthony Hopkins and Lee Byung-hun inject some good energy while Catherine Zeta Jones isn’t nearly as effective as you’d expect. Bruce Willis is on cruise control letting the supporting players do the heavy lifting. Red 2 is a film that’s easy to watch and just as easy to forget.
A low-level pot dealer poses as a family man in order to pay back a debt to his supplier in this comedy starring Saturday Night Live alumni Jason Sudeikis. When David attempts to perform a good deed and gets robbed in the process, however, his supplier Brad (Ed Helms) is none too happy. Now, in order to pay Brad back before the hammer drops, David must retrieve a big drug shipment from Mexico and sneak back across the border undetected. It's a risky job for sure, but with the help of a few neighbors David might just pull it off. With sardonic stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston) assuming the role of housewife, teenage misfit Kenny (Will Poulter) posing as the awkward son, and rebellious Casey (Emma Roberts) filling in as his sister, David slips on some khakis, and starts heading south. Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, and Ken Marino co-star. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Will Poulter, Emma Roberts, Ed Helms
Release Date: Aug 07, 2013
Rated R for crude sexual content, pervasive language, drug material and brief graphic nudity.
Runtime: 1 hr. 50 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure, Comedy
We’re the Millers is fun raunchy little romp of movie with cartoonish characters in cartoonish situations. It’s well aware of the type of film it is but for some reason it wants to tack on a redemptive ending for some generally bad characters. Personally I’ve never understood why raunchy comedies feel the need to teach its characters a lesson especially when it doesn’t make sense. Jason Sudeikis’s character is more or less jerk, albeit a funny one, throughout until he has his A-HA moment in an eye rolling moment. I know I’ve probably belabored the point about the ending but it does kind of leave a WTF taste in your mouth. Regardless, the better portion of the film is consistently funny while remaining fairly harmless for an R rated film. Aniston, who I can’t stand for some reason, is solid throughout even though her chemistry with Sudeikis is extremely forced. Will Poulter is lots of fun while Emma Roberts comes across as nondescript in an underwritten role. We’re The Millers isn’t going to be considered a classic but it’s the perfect kind of comedy for a lazy afternoon.