Happy New Year everyone!
It's a real light week for new DVD releases because of the holidays, so I'm going to catch up on a few older movies I've been trying to write about.
December DVD releases often torture me with reminders of shitty movies I saw in August or September. This is one of them. It takes the found footage genre just a bit too far, with both overuse of the gimmick and complete lack of believability.
You can read my original review here, but I'll just sum it up for you with this: it sucked.
1 (out of 5) Death Star. Don't bother with this. Instead rent Duncan Jones' Moon starring Sam Rockwell.
A Good Old Fashioned Orgy
This didn't get the greatest reviews, but I thought it was kind of funny. Given the subject matter I thought it pulled some punches and wasn't quite as raunchy as you'd expect, so I was a little disappointed there. It does have a funny, likable cast, but again, I've seen guys like Jason Sudeikis and Nick Kroll in much funnier things, so it felt like they could have done better.
2.5 (out of 5) Death Stars. It's worth a rent, but don't go out of your way.
Initially, I saw the trailer and thought I might be into it. It features a likable cast (Sean Austin, Winona Ryder, Chevy Chase, Josh Holloway) and looked funny. However, the lead's, played by Mark Polish (who also wrote this), only distinctive characteristic seems to be that he looks like he could be Tom Cavanagh's brother. Who's Tom Cavanagh, you say? Exactly.
I didn't like this. It's a bad sign when a movie was made in 2009 but didn't get released until 2011. It's seemed like nobody acted like a real person or reacted like a normal person would.
1.5 (out of 5) Death Stars. Skip it.
Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil
I didn't like this either. I thought the first one was okay, but this just wasn't very interesting. Even the animation felt kind of generic. The first one had it's moments, but this didn't have any. That's really all I have to say about it.
1.5 (out of 5) Death Stars. Pass.
The River Why
As in 'why' did they make this movie? The movie opens with narration by the lead character, who sounds like someone learning how to read. He tells you that his family is a family of fishermen and his Dad is some kind of famous one at that. He also mentions his parents were polar opposites because one is a fly fisherman and one is a bait fisherman. That makes them polar opposites? I guess I don't know enough about the intricacies of the fishing community. Is this like East Coast vs West Coast rap?
The only good part is that there's this great scene when he insults his parents mercilessly and his mother punches him in the face, and he effing deserved it. Then he tries to ruin the dinner table by pulling out the table cloth, but he actually does the trick where the plates stay on the table, so then he just has to push all the plates off. That was hilarious (unintentional or not). Unfortunately this happens in the first 10 minutes of the film and then it's a giant bore of a movie.
Also, William Hurt speaks with a bizarre English accent for no real reason and it sounded like he was doing a Pierce Brosnan impression.
Overall, it's a terrible movie and a complete waste of time.
1 (out of 5) Death Stars. Don't rent it, don't watch it on cable, just...don't.
Watched it because of Take Shelter, as it also stars Michael Shannon and was written and directed by Jeff Nichols. Shotgun Stories has a similar feel to Take Shelter, but is way more rednecky.
It follows the story of two sets of step-brothers that are basically fighting after their father's death. In a way this felt like a redneck mob movie, in that one attack demanded a retaliation by the other side and then that would lead to something else.
It's an interesting story though. Good acting, especially from Michael Shannon. You can see why he's Jeff Nichols' go-to-guy. They already have another movie coming out called Mud that I'm looking forward to.
3.5 (out of 5) Death Stars. Give a rent sometime if you're in the market for a good drama.
A remake of the 2005 French film, 13 Tzameti, staring Mickey Rourke, Ray Winstone, Michael Shannon and Jason Statham. I watched it mainly based on the strength of the cast.
It's basically about an organized Russian roulette tournament. Why this tournament exists, I have no idea. While it has some tense moments, I didn't enjoy it all that much. This might work for some people, but I just wasn't into it. Plus, it's one of those movies that kept going when I felt like it should have been over already.
1.5 Death Stars. If you can stream it or catch it on cable, then you might enjoy it a little.
Burke and Hare
Here's another movie I really had high hopes for, but it just disappointed me. Anytime a movie stars Simon Pegg, I figure I'm going to enjoy it on some level. It also stars Andy Serkis and Isla Fisher, so I thought I might be in for a treat.
It's marketed as a black comedy, which I normally love, but I just didn't find it all that funny. The story loosely follows the actual Burke and Hare murders. It's directed by John Landis, and while not everything he's done has been great, I thought it would have at least gotten comedy part right. Oh well...
2 Death Stars. Again, if you caught this on TV one day, you might enjoy it.
The Devil's Teardrop
I started watching this and got a very TV-vibe from it, with how it consistently faded out like it was going to commercial. Then, I looked it up and found that it was a made for TV movie. As far as made for TV movies go, it's not the worst thing I've seen. It had a decent cast for a TV movie (Tom Everett Scott and Natasha Henstridge).
It's basically about the FBI trying to track down a killer. They are running out of time and only have a handwritten note to go on, so they bring in a handwriting analyst (Scott) to see if he can help them track the killer down. I found some of the handwriting analysis scenes interesting, but it's about what you'd expect as far as actual tension and drama.
2 Death Stars. I wouldn't go out of your way to watch this, but since this was a TV movie, you should be able to find it pretty easily.
This is a movie I've been waiting to see for a while. It got a real short theatrical run and even The Vine wasn't able to get it (even after they posted they were going to have it soon).
Brit Marling writes and stars in a movie about the discovery of, you guessed it, another Earth in our orbit. Marling plays Rhoda, a young girl that was just accepted to MIT. After driving home from a party and hearing on the radio about the new Earth discovery, she's distracted once seeing it in the sky. This causes her to get in an accident, killing a wife and kid and putting the husband in a coma.
She gets out of prison around the same time that John (William Mapother) comes out of his coma. As Rhoda was a minor when she got in the accident, her identity was never revealed to John. Rhoda decides to go to John's house and confess, but loses her nerve and decides to pose as a maid from a cleaning service and offers him free cleaning of his house. They eventually form a friendship.
This is not a hard sci-fi movie. If you can't get past the that premise and how the physics aren't handled correctly, then you'll hate this. It's another movie that has sci-fi underpinnings, but really isn't a sci-fi movie. It's more of a character piece, where you're watching Rhoda and John's friendship and how each person is dealing with the events and healing from it.
It's a little too plodding with the pace for me to not give it a higher rating though, but I did like the movie. It's also kind of painful to watch in points because you really understand the emotional states of both of the leads.
There are some great shots in the movie, especially when you see the second Earth in the sky. It's a nice looking movie.
3.5 Death Stars. I recommend renting this. I think it's a smart film.
The Art of Getting By
A troubled, but smart, slacker tries to get through his last few months of school. He meets a girl 'out of his league' and forms a friendship. Obviously, he's in love with her, but she just thinks of him as a friend. It's one of those type of movies.
Anyway it rolls along and you know where it's all going and how it's going to end. It's all very cliched. In the end, you find that you just don't care all that much.
It's a bummer because it looked good from the trailer and I actually liked the cast. This movie lacked the wit and charm needed to make it work. It's just not a very good screenplay and would have benefited from some punch-up. Paging Patton Oswalt, you're needed here.
2 Death Stars. This is another movie that I wouldn't recommend going out of your way and renting, but if you caught it on streaming or on cable one day, you might like it.