Tuesday, September 27, 2011

'50/50' Trailer


Film: 50/50

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception), Seth Rogen (Funny People), and Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air)

Director: Jonathan Levine (The Wackness)

U.S. Release: September 30th, 2011 (Rated R)

Genre: Drama & Comedy

Runtime: 99 minutes

Seth Rogen is no stranger to the "close friend of someone with cancer" role, just recall his 2009 film Funny People where he was opposite of Adam Sandler. While on the set of HBO's Da Ali G Show, when Seth Rogen found out his friend Will Reiser had been diagnosed with cancer, he insisted that Will write a script. Lucky for all of us Reiser complied and developed 50/50, the film loosely based on his own life experiences.

50/50 tells the story of Adam (played by Gordon-Levitt), a 27 year old who is caught off guard when his doctor tells him he has cancer. Adam researches the rare form that he's been diagnosed with and discovers its survival rate is 50/50. He breaks the news to his girlfriend (played by Bryce Dallas Howard), his best friend Kyle (played by Rogen), and his mother, all of which react very differently to the unwanted surprise. With the help of his hospital appointed therapist (played by Kendrick), we watch Adam come to grips with the severity of his illness and learn how to cope with this harsh reality.

50/50 is a success as both a comedy and a drama. Director Jonathan Levine finds the perfect balance between the opposing extremes, and it culminates in a very natural and authentic film. The movie is powered by the strong performances of all of its lead characters. This is the best I've ever seen the film's star Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his onscreen best friend Seth Rogen. The two have an unmatchable chemistry that deeply resonates with the audience. It was a perfect job of casting.

In addition to the film's superb acting, 50/50 is a well paced and delivers laugh out loud comedy throughout the entire film. Seth Rogen is certainly on point as his character never misses with any joke. I haven't seen a dominating comedic performance like that in years. Rogen was so unforgettable that he deserves to be recognized during the awards season. Even though the film is downright hilarious, the comedic portions never seem to take away from the deep, dramatic feel intended for this type of subject matter. Joseph Gordon-Levitt anchors every intense scene and he's extremely believable in the role. The film is well rounded and highly entertaining to say the least.

50/50 is the best movie I've seen so far this year and an absolute must see. All of its characters are properly developed and spot on in their deliveries. This is a wonderful job all around, from the writer Will Reiser, to the entire cast, all the way to the director Jonathan Levine. The film is sure to evoke numerous emotions from the audience, and you'll even catch yourself laughing hysterically throughout the ordeal. The movie opens in theatres on Friday September 30th, so don't be a fool, rush out to see 50/50.

Stars: 4 stars out of 4

Grade: A

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fall & Christmas Movie Outlook

It's an annual event. Every Fall through Christmas Season it marks the film industry's best of the best. Last year, for example, we had to wait around until after the Summer to see Oscar Nominees such as The King's Speech, 127 Hours, Black Swan, and many others.

This past Friday, Brad Pitt's Moneyball kicked off what hopefully will be another fantastic season of award caliber films. Here's a list of other highly praised films that will be released in the upcoming months:


50/50 - September 30th

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen star in Will Reiser's true story of a young man's desperate attempt to overcome his diagnosis of cancer. I have already seen the film and it's a must see. It opens on Friday, so expect my review soon and definitely check it out.

Take Shelter - September 30th (limited release)

Boardwalk Empire's own Michael Shannon stars in this thriller about a financially hardened husband and father who begins to spend the last of the family's money on building a bomb shelter after he has apocalyptic visions. Take Shelter has been raved about at every film festival it has been at, so I'm sure it's a can't miss.


The Ides of March - October 7th

With a star-studded cast including George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti, The Ides of March is a political thriller about the dirty games people play that are necessary to get ahead in Washington.

Like Crazy - October 28th

As the big winner at Sundance this year, Like Crazy follows a British student who falls in love with an American student but she must leave the country when her visa is up. We saw last year's Sundance darling Winter's Bone garner a ton of recognition at the Oscars, so let's see if Like Crazy can do the same.


J. Edgar - November 9th

Leo stars in Clint Eastwood's biopic of J. Edgar Hoover, one of America's most controversial figures. DiCaprio is yet to win the BIG ONE, so many are predicting this performance to finally pay off.

The Descendants - November 23rd

After the recent passing of his wife, George Clooney stars as a distant father trying to keep his family together. Clooney's performance has been raved about, and many critics alike have been praising the film.


The Iron Lady - December 16th

When isn't Meryl Streep atop of the Oscar Buzz? Once again she steals the show with her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The film almost seems like a direct parallel to last year's Oscar champion The King's Speech.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - December 21st

Director David Fincher tackles one of Sweden's most popular films of all time. The film follows Daniel Craig as a journalist trying to unravel the mystery of a woman who disappeared 40 years prior.

We Bought a Zoo - December 23rd

Starring Matt Damon as a father who moves his family to the southern California countryside in hopes of renovating a struggling zoo, this film is the prototypical feel good, family movie for the holiday season.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - December 25th

Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock are center stage in this drama about a 9 year old boy who is convinced his father (who died in the 9/11 attack in New York) has left a final message for him. The boy travels around the Big Apple looking for the lock to a key his dad gave him before he died, in hopes to gain some sort of closure.

War Horse - December 28th

A young man and his horse are separated during World War One. The horse is sold to the cavalry and heads to the trenches, while the young boy (who is too young to enlist) heads to France to find the horse.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Moneyball Trailer 2011 HD


Film: Moneyball

Starring: Brad Pitt (Inglourious Basterds) and Jonah Hill (Superbad)

Director: Bennett Miller (Capote)

U.S. Release: September 23rd, 2011 (Rated PG-13)

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 133 minutes

September is ending and we find ourselves in the midst of the Fall season once again. This means many things to many different people. For fans of cinema, it means that after a Spring and Summer of mediocre films to sort through, there will rarely be a weekend without a top notch release. And for fans of American's greatest pastime, it means the baseball playoffs are about to get underway. But if you're a fan of both, the end of September in 2011 means Moneyball, the latest baseball picture to garner some serious Oscar buzz.

Moneyball follows the real life story of Billy Beane (Pitt), the general manager for the Oakland Athletics. After a promising run at a World Series title in 2001, the financially capped Athletics were unable to bring back a trio of talented players, placing a large amount of pressure on the team's general manager. But when Billy Beane meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), the pair decide to take Oakland's team philosophy in a different direction. Rather than trusting scouting reports, Beane and his sidekick use a statistical approach to assemble a cheap, yet productive baseball team for the 2002 season. An approach that some believe changed major league baseball forever.

Director Bennett Miller, who fared pretty well in 2005 with his award winning film Capote, attempts to recapture the glory with his second picture. Moneyball effectively grabs the audience at the start of the movie. Fresh off an Oscar win for Best Adapted Screenplay, Aaron Sorkin displays his talents once again. The witty dialogue is a welcoming touch, however the script loses its flare as the film's runtime begins to mount. Furthermore, the plot (or the lack of one) unravels at a yawning pace. And while the pace is tolerable, the declining dialogue adds to the misery at times.

Despite the drawn out feel of the movie, Moneyball still provides a real and authentic experience. Brad Pitt gives a believable, but by no means brilliant, performance. In fact, Jonah Hill may be the movie's guiding light. Hill feels natural as Peter Brand, the backbone of this philosophical transformation being carried out by the Athletics. Throughout the film, the acting is strong and effective enough to drag the audience to the finish line.

As a big fan of Baseball, and having some background knowledge of Sabermetrics (the statistical approach used by Beane and the organization), I found it was easy to follow the film. However, trying to imagine Moneyball through the eyes of ignorance, I believe some moviegoers unfamiliar with the sport will find it hard to appreciate the subject matter. Miller attempts to create another personal story to Beane's character outside the world of baseball, yet the film fails to address that area enough. As a result, when the final credits roll and we hear Beane's daughter sing a song for her father, I couldn't help but feel unmoved by the scene. There was a real story there that the writers and director could have done a better job of developing.

I had high expectations for Moneyball and ultimately they were never reached. I went into the theatre hoping for a home run, but it felt more like an RBI single. Similar to 2010's The Fighter, Moneyball is too uneventful and non-climactic for my taste. There are enough positives to the film to get you from start to finish, yet it isn't the easiest of rides. Many of you will see the film regardless of this review, but to get the most out of Moneyball as possible, heed my advice and curb your expectations.

Stars: 2.5 stars out of 4

Grade: B-

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Extended Trailer

In 2009, the Swedish hit The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo captivated audiences worldwide to the point where many deem it unnecessary for director David Fincher to remake the film. Nonetheless, Fincher has finally released a new, extended trailer to hopefully sway skeptical moviegoers. You can check out the trailer by clicking here, courtesy of Empire Online.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

J. Edgar Trailer Finally Arrives!

After months of anticipation, Clint Eastwood's newest biopic J. Edgar starring Leonardo DiCaprio has been unveiled to the world. The two and a half minute trailer shows Leo in what could finally be his first Academy Award winning performance (knock on wood). Many critics are expecting Eastwood's latest film to garner a ton of attention during 2012's award season. To see the trailer on the website www.IMDB.com, click on the link below.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gosling Contemplating Retirement??

NEWS FLASH! Ryan Gosling has no intentions of acting for the rest of his life. In a recent interview with The Times, Gosling spilled the beans on how he sees his future in Hollywood panning out. Hopefully for our sake he'll reconsider. You can read more on the topic, courtesy of Movie Line, by clicking the link below.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Drive - Movie Trailer (2011) HD


Film: Drive

Starring: Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine), Albert Brooks (The Scout), and Carey Mulligan (An Education)

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson)

U.S. Release: September 16th, 2011 (Rated R)

Genre: Action

Runtime: 100 minutes

Director Nicolas Winding Refn was born in Denmark and after living out his teenage years in New York, he returned home to his European birthplace. At an advanced screening of Refn's latest picture Drive, the director graced the audience with his presence for a short Q & A session. It's easy to see the European roots play an integral part in his daily life, everything from his accent, to his physical presentation, all the way to his film making. Therefore his films offer a foreign sense of style, creativity, and authenticity that most audiences haven't seen before. And believe me, Drive is no different.

Ryan Gosling stars as an unnamed stunt driver in Hollywood who periodically moonlights as a getaway driver for some extra cash on the side. But when a heist goes terribly wrong, he learns that a contract has been put on him. Desperate to save his own life and the lives of Irene (played by Mulligan) and her son Benicio, the driver must seek revenge on the crime boss (played by Albert Brooks) trying to kill him.

Drive is an experience like no other. Refn creates such a retro, yet fresh viewing experience. The opening credits and soundtrack are all a throwback to the 80's, which is the decade known for branding revenge movies. However, Drive transcends the cliche, over-the-top revenge films of the past 30 years. It's suspense is genuine and its delivery is stylish. Refn has his own sense of flare that translates beautifully to the big screen. And the blaring 80's music used to segue from scene to scene adds a unique element to the film that intensifies the emotions brought out by the movie. It's no surprise that Refn won the Best Director award at this year's Cannes Film Festival in France for Drive.

In addition to the wonderful directing job by Refn, the movie would not have been as successful without the fine performances by all of its characters. Albert Brooks shows his range as an unforgiving mob boss. As the director pointed out in his Q & A, Drive marks the first time Brooks has ever killed anyone on screen. This surprised me because Brooks seems so natural in the role. Furthermore, Ryan Gosling needs to be praised for his brilliant work once again. His character is almost like a superhero. A normal, vibrant man by day, and a dark, violent criminal by night. Gosling does a remarkable job showing you the two faces of this individual. Also, the attention that he commands in every scene throughout the second half of the movie is amazing. You don't want to blink, in fear that you may miss something unbelievable. Gosling gives another unforgettable performance, that may land him some recognition come awards season.

There are a few other things worth noting about Drive. The film is gripping, suspenseful, and very violent at times. It's a beautiful blend of art and cinema that will extract a wide spectrum of emotions from the viewing audience. If you think you can withstand some of these violent scenes, I highly recommend getting out to theatres and seeing Drive.

Stars: 3 and a half stars out of 4

Grade: B+

Monday, September 12, 2011

WARRIOR Trailer - in theaters September 9


Film: Warrior

Starring: Tom Hardy (Inception), Joel Edgerton (Animal Kingdom), and Nick Nolte (Hotel Rwanda)

Director: Gavin O'Connor (Miracle)

U.S. Release: September 9th, 2011 (Rated PG-13)

Genre: Drama/Action

Runtime: 139 minutes

I remember when I first saw the trailer for the new Mixed Martial Arts flick Warrior nearly three months ago, and believe me I was hooked. Having grown up in a home with two older brothers, I could relate to the magnitude of the premise rather easily. And not only did I find the concept of the film intriguing, but the fact that some of Hollywood's best young actors (Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton) were anchoring the cast made it that much more appealing.

Warrior is primarily set in present day Pennsylvania (both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia). At first we're introduced to Tommy Reardon (Hardy) who shows up unexpectedly at his father's doorstep. This meeting marks the first time the pair has seen each other since Tommy and his mother walked out on the family years ago. Paddy Conlon (Nolte) is a recovering alcoholic approaching 1,000 days of sobriety, yet his haunted past embodies the massive amounts of psychological abuse he caused to his wife and two children. Across the state in Philadelphia, Paddy's other son Brendan Conlon (Edgerton) is a Physics teacher who has married his high school sweetheart and raised two little girls. However, heart complications to his youngest daughter ultimately set the family back financially. Struggling to make ends meet Brendan returns to what he knows best, MMA fighting. When the underdog finds his way into a 16 man winner takes all tournament, Brendan must square off against his estranged brother Tommy for the $5 million dollar cash prize.

Director Gavin O'Connor once again delivers an epic sports tale that reaches far beyond the cage these men fight in. O'Connor, who also scored big with his portrayal of the 1980 U.S./Russia hockey showdown in Miracle, elegantly crafts a wonderful story of determination, redemption, and forgiveness. Warrior's lead actors Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton resonate on screen and play their characters to perfection. Hardy as the dark and mysterious war stricken soldier with unimaginable demons in his closet, and Edgerton as the loving father desperate to do whatever it takes to provide for his family. It's remarkable to see these two men blossom from a terrible situation into polar opposites, illustrating that tragedy touches us all differently. It's also worth mentioning that Hardy's character Tommy is unquestionably one of the meanest characters I've ever seen on the big screen. Despite the glaring performances from the film's leading characters, perhaps Nick Nolte shines the most. Nolte, who may actually earn some awards season recognition for his role, is flawless as the born again father who's seen the error in his ways and is longing for forgiveness from his two sons. His range is uncanny as you see a wide variety of emotions from his character.

Although Warrior contains brilliant acting, there are a few noteworthy downfalls to the film. For starters, there are an abundance of cliche aspects to the movie that cannot be overlooked. There are plenty of overdone elements drawn from pictures like Rocky and The Fighter. Furthermore, Warrior often at times lacks believability, but at the end of the day who doesn't love an underdog story?

For any fan of sports films and gripping family dramas, Warrior will easily satisfy. The two hour plus runtime zips by thanks to O'Connor's ability to maintain a compelling story. I had high expectations for this movie and I still went home mesmerized by its closing scenes. Warrior is a sure knockout and I highly recommend getting to the theatre and checking it out.

Stars: 3 stars out of 4

Grade: B+

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Contagion (2011) Official Exclusive 1080p HD Trailer


Film: Contagion

Starring: Matt Damon (The Adjustment Bureau), Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road), and Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes)

Director: Steven Soderbergh (The Informant!)

U.S. Release: September 9th, 2011 (Rated PG-13)

Genre: Thriller/Drama

Runtime: 105 Minutes

Sometimes when a movie has an overbearing cast filled with star-studded actors and actresses, the movie turns out to be flat. Hence, when I saw Steven Soderbergh's lineup for his latest film Contagion, I became an instant skeptic. With a cast including major names like Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude law, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard, and John Hawkes, Soderbergh must have had his hands full finding screen time for each of them. On the flip side, at least you know to expect some good acting.

Contagion follows numerous story lines as an unknown virus begins infecting the masses and causing a widespread epidemic. Doctors and government officials must work together to properly handle the situation, which consequently has a global impact.

With a premise similar to the mid 90s film Outbreak, Contagion successfully distances itself from its predecessor. The film not only spends time centering on the characters trying to stop the spread of the virus, it also focuses heavily on the chaos that would ensue if this hypothetical epidemic actually became a reality. Contagion offers countless suspenseful scenes showing violence and havoc in major cities being quarantined. In that regard, the film packs a powerful punch and an eye opening, realistic experience.

On the other hand, Contagion unsuccessfully manages to keep the audience dialed into the film. With an abundance of main characters and subplots, the movie leaves and revisits different characters at a crawling pace. There are moments where you may go 20+ minutes before you see a character again. All of these subplots make it extremely difficult for the audience to make a connection with individual characters. This is an obvious flaw that becomes overly evident in films trying to incorporate a large number of stars in its cast.

With Contagion, the acting will undoubtedly satisfy the audience and certain unique perspectives taken on by the film will intrigue as well. However, a sizable portion of the movie will spend time focusing on other stories which seem to add nothing to benefit the film. Had Soderbergh chosen to focus more on certain aspects of the film, and less on others, it may have resulted in a much more successful piece of work.

Contagion ends up landing in the realm of the mediocre. You should expect more out of such a renowned director and cast, yet trying to do too much proves to be problematic once again. Sometimes you can accomplish a lot more by just keeping it simple. I'd suggest holding out for DVD.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4

Grade: C+

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Apollo 18 - Official Trailer [HD]

Apollo 18

Film: Apollo 18

Starring: Warren Christie and Lloyd Owen

Director: Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego

U.S. Release: September 2nd, 2011 (Rated PG-13)

Genre: Horror

Runtime: 88 minutes

Many great horror legends have made it to space, namely Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th) and the Leprachaun. And with the new release Apollo 18, now the raw footage genre has officially made its trip to space. Unfortunately, the result isn't out of this world.

Apollo 18 claims to be a direct re-enactment of previously recorded footage about a classified NASA mission to the moon. The story follows three astronauts as they journey to the dark side of the moon and explains the real life reason why we have never returned there.

Similar to the likes of its predecessors The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, films like Apollo 18 gain notoriety using the unrealistic "based on a true story" tagline. The authenticity of such claims always become refuted, but the bottom line is the rumors help increase ticket sales. With Apollo 18, there is nothing in the movie to hook the audience. The first 25 minutes or so of useless improvisation and vague dialogue fails to create any sort of connection to the film's characters. Furthermore, the mystery of what's on the moon becomes evident rather quickly, but its plot is thin and dull. All of these factors culminate in the unsuccessful final product that is Apollo 18.

For any sincere fans of the horror genre, the film contains zero elements of a satisfying scary movie. Apollo 18 is, simply stated, boring and uneventful. There are no spine chilling sequences or lasting images that make this movie memorable. It's PG-13 rating should help re-enforce the idea that Apollo 18 is a sham of a horror film.

Avoid seeing this movie. It's a complete waste of time and there's nothing to be gained from it. If the trailer caught your attention and you're eager to see the film, take my advice and AT LEAST wait until it's out on DVD. You'll thank me later.

Stars: Half a star out of 4

Grade: F

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Seven Days in Utopia - (Official Trailer)

Seven Days in Utopia

Film: Seven Days in Utopia

Starring: Lucas Black (Get Low) and Robert Duvall (Get Low)

Director: Matt Russell

U.S. Release: September 2nd, 2011 (Limited - Rated G)

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 99 minutes

Lucas Black and Robert Duvall collaborated on screen in 2010 for one of the year's most memorable films, Get Low. The movie garnered much acclaim early in the year, but it became forgotten over the passing months which left Get Low virtually unrecognized during the awards season. The duo joins forces once again in their latest picture Seven Days in Utopia. Directing the film is newcomer Matt Russell, who is somewhat of an unknown throughout Hollywood. With a bare resume and a cast of talented actors including Academy Award winners Robert Duvall and Melissa Leo, the pressure is surely on for Russell.

Seven Days in Utopia follows Luke Chisholm (Black) a young, successful golf amateur attempting to turn pro. With his pressure filled father as his caddy, Luke leads his first professional golf tournament entering the 18th hole. However, when disaster begins to mount on the final hole, Chisholm loses control and has a meltdown. He shoots a 14, and begins to feel like his golfing career is over. While on a drive to clear his head, Luke accidentally crashes his car and is aided by a local named Johnny Crawford (Duvall). Crawford, an ex-golfer himself, promises to help Luke find his game again if he spends the next seven days in the town of Utopia, Texas.

There's plenty of things wrong with the film Seven Days in Utopia. It's G rating aligns with the fact that it feels more like a born again Christian advertisement than a moving drama. Russell fails to bring together a talented cast with an intriguing story, leaving the final product to feel unauthentic and overly flawed. There are parts of the film where the movie begins to turn the corner, but then it inevitably reverts back to its propaganda feel.

Despite a gifted cast, Seven Days in Utopia never reaches a point of satisfaction. Duvall, at times, is reminiscent of his Get Low character Felix Bush with a southern wit, and charm that gives the film a sense of hope. However, too many other minor characters end up stealing screen time, and as a result the movie suffers. Furthermore, Lucas Black proves to be an insufficient leading actor. Perhaps partially at the fault of the director, Black falls short of taking the film to the next level.

Seven Days in Utopia is a decent idea for a script that never seems to translate well on the big screen. The film is an eyebrow raising combination of The Karate Kid meets Tin Cup meets a stereotypical B-rated Christian movie. In addition to its strange melting pot of elements, I was very displeased by the closing scenes of the film as they left a sour taste in my mouth. Not because of what's displayed on screen, but more so because of their counteractive effect on the story. I'd shy away from spending your time seeing Seven Days in Utopia.

Stars: 1 star out of 4

Grade: D+