Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Refraction...How About a Review ~ HALL PASS

I am in a filmic refractory period following last night's Academy Awards that can only be cured by cutting loose and writing about some flicks...

Firstly, if you have seen the latest Entertainment Weekly, page #54-55 with Prince William on the cover, then you will see that EW is screaming to the world what I have been saying for the last year and a half...

AMC's Mainstreet Theater (Wikipedia Entry) is the mack daddy spot to catch all of your favorite flicks!  The aura of that building screams history in both structure and decor.  It is a must visit for cinemaphiles and historians alike.  If you really want to enjoy the immersive theater experience, you will love the in-seat butt-kicker bass tubes built into every seat.  AMC screams "Corporate America" in most of its operation, but they sure got this one right.  My home theater AMC Barrywoods 24 is my favorite because of the people.  When it comes to experience, nothing holds a candle to the Mainstreet!


The Farrelly Brothers, Peter and Bobby, have returned to the big screen after a string of lackluster efforts.  Personally, I think they lost something after Osmosis Jones, which while being a bit subdued compared to Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, and There's Something About Mary, stands as my favorite of their body of work.  I found their recent entries including Stuck on You, Fever Pitch, and The Heartbreak Kid only mildly enjoyable.  And after Me, Myself, and Irene being the first flick I went to with my in-laws, long before they held that title, I was scarred by watching such a spread of rubber dicks flanked by my future wife and mother-in-law...who picked this thing anyway!

Hall Pass suffers from the same problems as their other recent flicks...there are some great laughs, but all-in-all, the movie as a whole is only moderately entertaining.

Perhaps it is the topic of infidelity is approached in a manner that makes it depressing rather than hilarious, if that is even possible. 

Owen Wilson was a poor choice as the lead.  His role is too milquetoast and filled with an awkwardness he should be able to pull off, but doesn't.

Christina Applegate is funny, but again, only moderately so.  The real high points for me were the overall watchability of Jenna Fischer and the start to finish great presence in Jason Sudeikis.  Go KC boy GO!  I think this is the beginning of a fresh and new movie comic who hopefully will be successful in his transition to the big screen.  For all the questionable content in this present entry, that Sudeikis runs on such a high note, I have a good feeling.

This movie starts decent enough and actually ends with the trademark train wreck, over-the-top cluster that the Farrelly Bros actually do well.  But the center of this flick was too damn slow.  Not even the always funny JB Smoove could pull the guts of this flick out of the gutter.

Richard Jenkins does cameo in an out of character and enjoyable turn as the hound dog friend Coakley.  There is a memorable exchange between he and Owen that did put a smile on my face, but give that credit to the lovable Jenkins who is almost unrecognizable.

Yes, Hall Pass did take the weekend at 13.5 million, but what a paltry take!  And that #5, Just Go With It, checked in at 10.5 million, it managed to eek out a #1 in what can easily be qualified as a weak weekend.

I do have one thing to say before I shift gears...."Fake Chow."

3 of 5 Horns from The Reel Rhino.
Now for something completely different...

I want to say one quick word about Restrepo.  I was sure this flick, by Sebastion Junger and Tim Heatherington, was a shoe in to take Oscar gold.  That it did not, and Inside Job, did, mirrors American sentiment.  Yes, the economy is a critical aspect of every American's daily life, but the war in Afghanistan is as well...just not as obvious,

Restrepo should be required watching for every American citizen....for every young man, contemplating service, for every war protester and supporter alike.  I think this is the first real piece of cinema that captures the essence of this war.

I was moved like I haven't been in some time.  Like I have said in the past in watching 127 Hours and Into The Wild...this is a life-changing movie.  See it at all costs.  Netflix Watch Instantly is currently carrying it and it is a film to be consumed, but not really enjoyed.  Seeing the courage of these young men will fill you with pride, but seeing the terror and terrible conditions they endured, will keep you grounded in the fact that this is not a popcorn movie where the good guys always win...but instead a vicious dose of reality.

Until later...take care...

The Reel Rhino Oscar Pool WINNERS

The Super Bowl of Cinema has come and gone...(hold on while I compose myself...)

Below my homily will be the results of the 1st ANNUAL REEL RHINO OSCAR POOL.

I love movies and this year's Academy Awards was fantastic.  Franco and Hathaway were excellent hosts and that opening skit was very well done.  I think it is right up there with the Tyler Perry parody featuring Mike Tyson that Jimmy Kimmel featured on the after show.  I hope James and Anne are asked back or maybe go three-way with Hugh that is...

AMC Mainstreet
AMC Theater ran the second of their two BEST PICTURE SHOWCASE marathons this past weekends and the Kansas City Mainstreet Theater ran the coveted 24 hour, 10 movie marathon...very much in the vein of the Austin Draft House's BUTT-NUMB-A-THON. It’s that kind of event that gets me excited…the marathon for moviegoers. I can only wish that someday I will catch the 10-fer. That would be a hell of a boost for the yearly numbers! The tough thing for me is that I usually have seen all of the nominated films through the year and most of them more than once.

PS...The Mainstreet is a theater to be is the nice frontage for AMC you see in the Coming Attractions intro they are currently running before their features.

Matt and Megan, Oscar Marathon Hosts Extraordinaire
My local AMC Theater, Barrywoods 24, hosted its own marathon and they went all out to gussy up the show, including a glamorous Megan and a dapper Matt, two outgoing and well-spoken members of the AMC staff, who hosted the event. I love this kind of a good time…love it! With film attendance at its lowest point since 2002 and January 2011 box office numbers being the lowest in 20 years…we need more events and more good times like these.

AMC Barrywoods, worry not…you can always count on REEL RHINO to keep coming around….I paid $18 to see the Jonas Brothers 3-D Concert Movie two years ago…there is no price too high for me to see a flick. IN FACT…I just wrote a check to my good friend THE KID IN THE HELMET for our prime seats at the RED STATE premiere here in KANSAS CITY. With filmmaker KEVIN SMITH on site to introduce it and some of the cast present in the theater for a Q&A afterwards….I love it! Like I said…make it an event and they will come!

I would love to host an Oscar Party next year and my goal for the year is to build up Reel Rhino to the point where I could actually sustain something.  I have had 10,000+ visitors since I started tracking in September, so who knows?

So how did my Oscar Pool pan out?  Did the Reel Rhino take the coveted crown?  Sadly, I did not, but what fun would that be?

I will say that a famous phrase jumped to mind as I was scrambling to organize and then score this through the night....PRIOR PLANNING PREVENTS POOR PERFORMANCE.  I felt like an accountant on April 15th nearing midnight!

Here are the results...

RANK         WHO                   SCORE      #1 PICKS         
1                  Kristin                     19.5               18
2                 Adam K.                   17                 16
3            Pam and Scooter         16                 13
3               Rebecca G.                16                 13
5                  Capps                      15.5              14
6                Reel Rhino                 15.5               13
7                  Steven                      14                 13
8                  Tracie                       14                 12
9                Danielle F.                 13                 11
10               Susan H.                   12.5              11
11               Ashley V.                  11                 10
12                Troy M.                     6                   6

Queen Kristin
Everyone was asked to rank their top two choices for the awards...if their number one hit....1 point.  If their number two hit....1/2 point.  Ties were broken by the total #1 picks, and we ended up with only one true tie at #3.

In her honor, and to help her get over me using this lovely shot from her Lacrosse program player bio photo....I give you a photo spread dedicated to the reigning Queen of Reel Rhino's Oscar Pool....Queen Kristin:

The Reel Rhino and, make that Mrs. Kristin, at the celebration
following her wedding to my future producing partner, Mr. Jamie.
Killer Beez anyone?

Kristin, Z, and Tracie...Tracie is also known as Mrs. Reel Rhino.
Speaking of Mr. Jamie...
Even though it's 2007, I heard about this movie called
The King's Speech...If Rhino ever has an Oscar Pool, I'm picking it
across the board.  It's about British's gotta be good...
Kristin...I'm coming for you in 2012. :-)  For get to write a movie review of your own AND pick ANY movie that I will review on an upcoming post.  I'm thinking she'll pick Runaway Bride, or some other high brow fare!

Until later...have a great 2011 at the movies....


Sunday, February 27, 2011


In the order they were awarded...

BEST ART DIRECTION: Alice in Wonderland

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Wally Pfister, Inception








BEST SCORE: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network

BEST SOUND MIXING: Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, and Ed Novick for Inception

BEST SOUND EDITING: Richard King for Inception

BEST MAKE-UP: Rick Baker, Dave Elsey for The Wolfman

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN: Colleen Atwood for Alice in Wonderland




BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin for Inception

BEST FILM EDITING: Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall for The Social Network

BEST SONG: Randy Newman, “We Belong Together” Toy Story 3

BEST DIRECTOR: Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech

BEST ACTRESS: Natalie Portman, Black Swan

BEST ACTOR: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

BEST PICTURE: The King’s Speech

REEL RHINO OSCAR POOL - No $, Lots of Fun!


Scoring: 24 Total Points Available, One Point Per Category

You Choose a #1 and a #2 Pick for Each Category

If your #1 is the winner, you get one point.
If your #2 is the winner, you get ½ point.

If there is a tie in points, the person with the most #1 selections will win. If the tie persists, I will raise my hands into the air and scream: “WHYYYYYY!”

It was a great year for me and the movies…you can check out my year-end wrap-up posts from early January in the Archives. Want to know who you are up against: Reel Rhino Total Theater Films for 2010: 122. Total Minutes: 13102 = 9.1 days (running time). #1 Movie Pick of the Year: INCEPTION

You can e-mail your picks to me at:
Don’t worry about typing anything formal…just copy and paste the nominees list below and add a 1 and a 2 next to your two top picks.

All picks will be kept private until after the competition and other than mine, only the winner’s picks will be shared. For the purposes of fairness, my picks are listed below, so you all know I am keeping it honest.

The winner will get the following:

  • I will watch and review a movie of their choice.
  • The winner may provide me with a review that they prepare for a film of their choice and I will publish it on the Reel Rhino Blog. The post will be edited for appropriate language (this is a PG-13 show….for the most part).
Good Luck and HAVE FUN!!
2011 Academy Award Nominees

Best Motion Picture of the Year Nominees:
127 Hours (2010): Christian Colson, Danny Boyle, John Smithson
Black Swan (2010): Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver, Scott Franklin
The Fighter (2010): David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Mark Wahlberg
Inception (2010): Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas
The Kids Are All Right (2010): Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Celine Rattray
The King's Speech (2010): Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin
The Social Network (2010): Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Ceán Chaffin
Toy Story 3 (2010): Darla K. Anderson
True Grit (2010): Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin
Winter's Bone (2010): Anne Rosellini, Alix Madigan

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Nominees:
Javier Bardem for Biutiful (2010)
Jeff Bridges for True Grit (2010)
Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network (2010)
Colin Firth for The King's Speech (2010)
James Franco for 127 Hours (2010)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Nominees:
Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole (2010)
Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone (2010)
Natalie Portman for Black Swan (2010)
Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine (2010)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Nominees:
Christian Bale for The Fighter (2010)
John Hawkes for Winter's Bone (2010)
Jeremy Renner for The Town (2010)
Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Geoffrey Rush for The King's Speech (2010)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role Nominees:
Amy Adams for The Fighter (2010)
Helena Bonham Carter for The King's Speech (2010)
Melissa Leo for The Fighter (2010)
Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit (2010)
Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom (2010)

Best Achievement in Directing Nominees:
Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan (2010)
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen for True Grit (2010)
David Fincher for The Social Network (2010)
Tom Hooper for The King's Speech (2010)
David O. Russell for The Fighter (2010)

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen Nominees:
Another Year (2010): Mike Leigh
The Fighter (2010): Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington
Inception (2010): Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right (2010): Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg
The King's Speech (2010): David Seidler

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published Nominees:
127 Hours (2010): Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network (2010): Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 (2010): Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
True Grit (2010): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Winter's Bone (2010): Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year Nominees:
How to Train Your Dragon (2010): Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
The Illusionist (2010): Sylvain Chomet
Toy Story 3 (2010): Lee Unkrich

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year Nominees:
Biutiful (2010): Alejandro González Iñárritu(Mexico)
Dogtooth (2009): Giorgos Lanthimos(Greece)
In a Better World (2010): Susanne Bier(Denmark)
Incendies (2010): Denis Villeneuve(Canada)
Outside the Law (2010): Rachid Bouchareb(Algeria)

Best Achievement in Cinematography Nominees:
Black Swan (2010): Matthew Libatique
Inception (2010): Wally Pfister
The King's Speech (2010): Danny Cohen
The Social Network (2010): Jeff Cronenweth
True Grit (2010): Roger Deakins

Best Achievement in Editing Nominees:
127 Hours (2010): Jon Harris
Black Swan (2010): Andrew Weisblum
The Fighter (2010): Pamela Martin
The King's Speech (2010): Tariq Anwar
The Social Network (2010): Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall

Best Achievement in Art Direction Nominees:
Alice in Wonderland (2010): Robert Stromberg, Karen O'Hara
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010): Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan
Inception (2010): Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, Douglas A. Mowat
The King's Speech (2010): Eve Stewart, Judy Farr
True Grit (2010): Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh

Best Achievement in Costume Design Nominees:
Alice in Wonderland (2010): Colleen Atwood
I Am Love (2009): Antonella Cannarozzi
The King's Speech (2010): Jenny Beavan
The Tempest (2010/II): Sandy Powell
True Grit (2010): Mary Zophres

Best Achievement in Makeup Nominees:
Barney's Version (2010): Adrien Morot
The Way Back (2010): Edouard F. Henriques, Greg Funk, Yolanda Toussieng
The Wolfman (2010): Rick Baker, Dave Elsey

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score Nominees:
127 Hours (2010): A.R. Rahman
How to Train Your Dragon (2010): John Powell
Inception (2010): Hans Zimmer
The King's Speech (2010): Alexandre Desplat
The Social Network (2010): Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song Nominees:
127 Hours (2010): A.R. Rahman, , Dido("If I Rise")
Country Strong (2010): Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges("Coming Home")
Tangled (2010/I): Alan Menken, Glenn Slater("I See the Light")
Toy Story 3 (2010): Randy Newman("We Belong Together")

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing Nominees:
Inception (2010): Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick
The King's Speech (2010): Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen, John Midgley
Salt (2010): Jeffrey J. Haboush, William Sarokin, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell
The Social Network (2010): Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Mark Weingarten
True Grit (2010): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, Peter F. Kurland

Best Achievement in Sound Editing Nominees:
Inception (2010): Richard King
Toy Story 3 (2010): Tom Myers, Michael Silvers
TRON: Legacy (2010): Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, Addison Teague
True Grit (2010): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey
Unstoppable (2010): Mark P. Stoeckinger

Best Achievement in Visual Effects Nominees:
Alice in Wonderland (2010): Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas, Sean Phillips
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010): Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz, Nicolas Aithadi
Hereafter (2010): Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojansky, Joe Farrell
Inception (2010): Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin
Iron Man 2 (2010): Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright, Daniel Sudick

Best Documentary, Features Nominees:
Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010): Banksy, Jaimie D'Cruz
GasLand (2010): Josh Fox, Trish Adlesic
Inside Job (2010): Charles Ferguson, Audrey Marrs
Restrepo (2010): Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger
Waste Land (2010): Lucy Walker, Angus Aynsley

Best Documentary, Short Subjects Nominees:
Killing in the Name (2010): Jed Rothstein
Poster Girl (2010): Sara Nesson, Mitchell Block
Strangers No More (2010): Karen Goodman, Kirk Simon
Sun Come Up (2010): Jennifer Redfearn, Tim Metzger
The Warriors of Qiugang (2010): Ruby Yang, Thomas Lennon

Best Short Film, Animated Nominees:
Day & Night (2010): Teddy Newton
The Gruffalo (2009) (TV): Jakob Schuh, Max Lang
Let's Pollute (2011): Geefwee Boedoe
The Lost Thing (2010): Shaun Tan, Andrew Ruhemann
Madagascar, a Journey Diary (2010): Bastien Dubois

Best Short Film, Live Action Nominees:
The Confession (2010/IV): Tanel Toom
The Crush (2010): Michael Creagh
God of Love (2010): Luke Matheny
Na Wewe (2010): Ivan Goldschmidt
Wish 143 (2009): Ian Barnes, Samantha Waite



1-The King’s Speech
2- Inception

1-Colin Firth for The King’s Speech
2-Jeff Bridges for True Grit

1-Natalie Portman for Black Swan
2-Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole

1-Christian Bale for The Fighter
2-Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech

1-Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit
2-Melissa Leo for The Fighter

1-David Fincher for The Social Network
2-Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech

2-The King’s Speech

1-The Social Network
2-Winter’s Bone

1-Toy Story 3
2-The Illusionist


1-Roger Deakins for True Grit
2-Wally Pfister for Inception

1-Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall for The Social Network
2-Andrew Weisbaum for Black Swan

1-Eve Stewart, Judy Farr for The King’s Speech
2-Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, ad Douglas A. Mowat for Inception

1-Jenny Beavan for The King’s Speech
2-Colleen Atwood for Alice in Winderland

1-Edouard F. Henriques, Greg Funk, and Yolanda Toussieng for The Way Back
2-Adrien Morot for Barney’s Version

1-Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross for The Social Network
2- Hans Zimmer for Inception

1-Randy Newman for Toy Story 3, “We Belong Together”
2- A.R. Rahman, Dido for 127 Hours, “If I Rise”

1-Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, and Ed Novick for Inception
2-Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen, and John Midgley for The King’s Speech

1-Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, and Ed Novick for Inception
2-Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey for True Grit

1-Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin for Inception
2-Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz, and Nicolas Athadi for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

BEST DOCUMENTARY, FEATURES (Didn’t See: GasLand, Waste Land)
2-Exit Through the Gift Shop

1-The Warriors of Quigang
2-Killing in the Name

BEST SHORT FILM, ANIMATED (Didn’t See: The Gruffalo, Let’s Pollute, The Lost Thing, and Madagascar, a Journey Diary)
1-Day & Night
2-Madagascar, a Journey Diary

1-God of Love
2-Wish 143



Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Week Late, But That's OK...UNKNOWN and #4

Yes, we are into the meat and potatoes of the current weekend (Feb 26-27), and here I am posting about two of the main releases from last week.  It has been a crazy stretch at work so I am just happy I have been able to get out and see some of these flicks, let alone post on them.  Unknown took the weekend and I am Number Four was #3, with Gnomeo and Juliet splitting them at the #2 spot.  Last weekend gave us an acceptable weekend for new releases, with my favorite of them being covered in my last post, my bit on Cedar Rapids.

I saw I AM NUMBER FOUR with the infamous Papa Schmer, who is on the verge of becoming Grand-Papa Schmer, as The Kid in the Helmet and his lovely wife are days from ushering new life into this fine world.  I enjoy my film-going experiences with both Papa and The Kid, as they fall into the easily entertained range of opinion that I usually speak from as well.

I Am Number Four tells the tale of a group of aliens living on earth, hiding out from a an enemy race of aliens (Mogadorians) that had previously destroyed their planet.  Alex Pettyfer plays John, the titular Number Four, who is a prodigy from his home planet.  He is one of nine prodigies sent to earth to hide.  They are presented as some sort of protectors, who as they come of age, acquire powers that will help them in their journey.  The Mogadarians are trying to kill the nine prodigies, but the catch is they have to be killed in order.  We enter the flick just as Number Three is meeting his demise. 

John's protector is Henri, an alien from his home world who is played with the skill he brings to every role, Mr. Timothy Olyphant-astic.  Henri gives us most of the exposition which is a bit cliche, but helps keep the viewer in tune with the necessary orientation to the rules of the universe of this story. 

The love interest is presented in the form of Glee's own Quinn Fabray, Dianna Agron, as Sarah, the "normal" every-girl who happens to be smokin' hot and fully equipped with a psycho-ex-boyfriend who plays his part in the vein of  the Karate Kid-ish high school villain.

This film is based on a book by "Pitticus Lore." Pitticus Lore is the pen name for the writing combo of Jobie Hughes and James Frey.  Yes...James Frey of the fraudulent Oprah Book of the Month, A Million Little Pieces.  Apparently Frey has a publishing company in which he mass hires writers to churn out books with the primary intent to turn the books into movies.

I kind of like this idea, although I would imagine the source material may be a bit questionable.  A book need not be Shakespear to craft it into a fine movie, so I guess in a way I commend Frey for this shotgun brainstorming idea.  Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, and Marti Noxon did a decent job of adapting it into the screenplay and the real hero here is D.J. Caruso. 

Caruso is a talented young director who has to some extent, found himself under the wing of Steven Spielberg...that's not such a bad place to be.

This movie is produced by Michael Bay, and that fact is also quite evident.  I drew many parallels to Transformers (2007) including the final scenes of the movie.  This movie has a number of similarities to Transformers, that cannot be denied.  I won't list them here as my comment isn't a criticism as much as it is just is an interesting facet.

The movie spends more time than you would expect building up the characters, which adds to the overall enjoyment of the film.  It isn't just a hollow action film, but you don't necessarily fall in love with these characters either.  The Number Four series has a long way to go before we are talking a Bella and Edward kind of a fan base. 

And who might the Jacob be in this configuration?  That would be Number Six, another of the prodigies who is in constant pursuit of Number Four through the movie...not to hurt him but to help him.  She is a super hot blond played by Teresa Palmer...Palmer was recently the way-too-hot-for-Jay-Baruchel-girl, in Sorcerer's Apprentice.  When Number Six shows up, things get quite interesting.

Other primaries include Callin McAuliffe as Sam, the younger friend to John that plays more a role in the adventure than you would originally think and Kevin Durand as the Mogadarian Commander, the Mogadarians being the badie alien race that is chasing the Numbers and trying to kill them.

There are other facets of the film that are interesting... the outrageous technology they employ to try and cover their tracks as they move from place to place (that would be quite a web crawler indeed!) and the oh so cute yet mysterious puppy that John takes in near the beginning of their arrival in Ohio, which is where most of the film takes place.

When I said earlier that Caruso is the saving grace, I think that the last 35 minutes speak for itself.  For all of the cliches in this film, the last 35 minutes are BALLS TO THE WALL action that is shot in an very watchable manner.

I give I Am Number Four a 4 of 5 horn rating for a welcomed effort into the sci-fi adventure saga genre.  Spielberg and Bay's influences are noted and that I am a huge fan of Spielberg and a noted Bay apologist, I may be more slanted towards this movie than your average bear.


Unknown will be the #2 entry in what I hope eventually becomes the LIAM NEESON bad-ass trilogy.  Of course Taken from 2008 was the first and while this is a different kind of bad ass flick, it counts.  I cannot believe that Neeson is just under 60 years old.  My Dad is 61 and I can't picture him doing wire work or rocking out a couple of terrorist baddies (But he can frame the hell out of a house and he will always be one of my heroes!).  What will be the third point in the crown for Neeson's run at BADASS CINEMA?  He will be in the wild-idea of BATTLESHIP: THE MOVIE, the Peter Berg directed alien adventure fare based on the board game of the same name.  Will he be back as Hannibal in The A-Team the A-Team 2 even a good idea?  Lots of questions...that's what I love about this game...

I really don't want to get too much into UNKNOWN except to say that do not watch the trailer if you haven't seen it yet.  I enjoyed this movie, but all of its secrets were spoiled by the trailer.

I will say this, for his few moments on screen, Frank Langella was as good as ever.  That guy can deliver creepy and mysterious lines like a pro!  While Terrance Stamp is in that club as well, I would very much like to have seen Langella added to the Adjustment Bureau cast as he would have been perfect.  Perhaps, his Arlington Steward from THE BOX was too close to that kind of "Invisible Hand" controlling figure.

None the less, Langella is always fantastic.

Neeson evolves as an ass-kicker through the movie and he starts his adventure, seemingly married to a very wooden January Jones.  Dave Chen from the SLASH FILMCAST has an interesting theory as to why Jones gives us an off-again performance in a mostly on-again run of her last few years.  After an accident, Neeson loses most of his memory and when he goes to find his wife after four days in the hospital, he finds her...but there is someone with her who claims to be him.  

The accident was the cab within which he was travelling, crashing off of a bridge.  He finds an ally after he runs into trouble finding his wife, in the cab driver...a fantastic Diane Kruger.  Kruger was wonderful in Inglourious Basterds and made the National Treasure flicks more enjoyable, and she does a fine job of providing a bit of mysterious support to Neeson's Dr. Martin Harris as he tries to piece together the mystery of his life.

As I said, avoid the trailer at all costs.  Having seen the trailer, I figured this movie out about 15 minutes into the story.  I still liked it enough to give it a 3.5 of 5 horns.

I will be seeing local boy (to Kansas City) Jason Sudekis in Hall Pass and probably Drive Angry this weekend, neither of which has been reviewed very well.  Oh how far the Farrelly's have fallen.  I hope they are both good...Pass for the Laughs and Angry for the pure camp of it.  Cage is full blown hit or miss....let this one be a hit.

Until next time..take care...

The Reel Rhino

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cedar Rapids and Barney's Version - Reel Rhino Likey Likey

I tried hard ladies and gentlemen.  I tried as hard as I have in a long time.  I tried for the holy triumvirate.  Yep, I tried for a three-fer movie day! 

It has been many days since I have been to three movies in a day.  Hell, it's been a long time since I have even seen two in a day. 

I had hopes to go for the unspeakable 10 in 24 with the 10 Best Picture Nominees at the AMC Theaters Best Picture Showcase.  As a proud parent and husband, given the amount of hours I am away for work, shirking my familial duties for a straight day and then a day to recover.  Oh, but a boy can dream...maybe one day I will get to the Austin Draft House BUTT NUMB-A-THON...again, a boy can dream...

Here's how my little adventurous run at the three-fer played out(SPOILER ALERT: I don't make it...):

Friday, February 18th, 2011, 11:40am: CEDAR RAPIDS

I had been excited for the release of this flick since I watched the trailer from afar, while KIMBALIANO was dishing all the dope on the SUNDANCE haps.  Yes indeedee, this flick was a Sundance premiere. 

Many have seen the trailer and say it resembles something of a HANGOVER reprise.  The Hangover was a great film of the moment.  It has a place in the halls of comedy history and it will not soon be forgotten.  It may never be forgotten.  Cedar Rapids is no Hangover...

...but Cedar Rapids is a fantastically fun movie that has a pulse and a life force of its own.  The Hangover is hilarious for its malicious comedic BITE.  Cedar Rapids is a movie that has some bite, but also that involves you with the characters, rather than just laughing at them getting kicked in the balls or tazed in the face (although shiznit was pretty damn funny!).  The viewer relates to these "every"-people and you also happen to care about these characters while enjoying their wacky hijinx which fall into the realm of The Hangover-lite.
ED HELMS (aka Andy from The Office and Dr. Stu from The Hangover) plays Tim Lippe (aka The Lipster), an insurance salesman from small town Wisconsin, who gets called up to the big leagues when his office's #1 rep is killed in a tragic accident of unusual proportions.  This movie is the classic fish out of water story, as Tim heads to Cedar Rapids, even taking his first ever plane trip, to sweeten the "look at how innocent I am" pot.

This flick is set in the world of the Midwest insurance industry, more specifically at the yearly AMSI conference in Cedar Rapids.  All of the Midwest insurance agencies compete yearly for the Two-Diamond award, which for the last three years, has gone to Brownstar Insurance, Lippe's home agency Calamity is afoot in Cedar Rapids, the absolute Amsterdam of the States as far as insurance sales folks are concerned.  The best way to describe this movie, is to introduce you to the characters.  Helms plays our lead, our hero, our North Star.  And while we have already talked about him briefly, I will say that I think Ed Helms can act and that he has a bright future ahead of for the others...

John C. Reilly as Dean Ziegler - Ziggy is the life of the party...he is the only person that Tim was warned to avoid.  He talks dirty and has a blast no matter what he's doing or how other people feel about it.

Anne Heche as Joan Ostrowski-Fox - O-Fox is the sensible one, but she will tell you outright...Cedar Rapids is her Vegas, and what happens in Cedar Rapids, stays in Cedar Rapids.

Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Ronald Wilkes - Wilkey is Tim's assigned roommate and he gets them upgraded to the Junior Suite...check out these digs!...Wilkes is very business minded but also extremely tolerant of Zigs antics.  Wilkes rounds out the trio with Ziegler and O-Fox as the Three Amigos and the question stands...will Tim make the grade and join the gang.  The running gag through the flick is Wilkes love of the HBO series The featured prominently in the trailer.  Of course, Whitlock was one of the primaries on The Wire.

Sigourney Weaver has a supporting role as Tim's girlfriend, or at least what Tim thinks is his girlfriend.  Actually, she is a recent divorcee who is just doing the naughty with an old student.

Stephen Root plays Tim Lippe's boss, Bill Krogstad, and Kurtwood Smith plays Orin Helgesson, the president of the Insurance association hosting the conference in Cedar Rapids.  Both of these actors have given many fine performances in the past.  They are but props in this movie, really serving their role as far as needed, but doing nothing to greatly interest me in them at all.

The gem of this flick is Alia Shawkat, who plays Bree, the hooker with a heart of gold.  Yes, a cliched character if there ever was one, but she breathed new life into the role.  Shawkat is a force of nature who has been fantastic wherever she appears and Cedar Rapids is no different
This movie is not a straight has moments of comic bliss while really tugging on the heart strings as you watch Lippe grow from his sheltered self into has a little drama and a lot of fun.

A 4.5 of 5 horn effort for Cedar Rapids, directed by Miguel Arteta, an indie-ful guy with movies in his filmography like Chuck and Buck, Youth in Revolt, and The Good Girl.  Written by Phil Johnston and parked on the Screenplay Blacklist in 2009, this script has a sensibility that divides and combines comedy and drama with a light touch.  I certainly did like the tone and presentation of CEDAR RAPIDS and heartily recommend this flick to you.

Friday, February 18th, 2011, 1:15pm: BARNEY'S VERSION

Let me first say that Cedar Rapids let out at about 1:26pm, meaning I was certainly going to miss the previews at the showing of this movie.  I walked out of Cedar Rapids and realized that I was directly across the hall from the theater showing Barney's Version.  Oh boy, what a dilemma.  Do I do the two-fer-free-fer?  Of course not...the Reel Rhino don't roll like that (and by God, I savor those damn ticket stubs!).  I hit the Customer Service desk and grabbed my ticket and boogied down to the theater...just in time!

This is an ensemble piece of sorts, led by the titular Barney, as played masterfully by Paul Giamatti.  I was sitting in this theater, watching his wonderful performance and I couldn't help but think back to his days in the mid-90 when he was primarily a character actor (see also: Howard Stern's Private Parts where he was 'Pig Vomit').

The movie itself is the story of Barney Panofsky.  If Barney was a real person, this movie would play very much like a biopic, as most of what happens throughout is not crazy to consider as the sum of a real person's life.  Since we know it to be fiction, it is a well woven tale of love, life, and loss. 

The film is directed by Richard J. Lewis, who has had a long and successful career in television, which could be the primary reason why the scenes with Barney at work, running his production company "Totally Unecessary Productions," was so realistic.  In the film, T/U Productions was responsible for one of the longest running shows on TV..."O'Malley of the North," a show about a Canadian Mounty and all his mis-adventures...yes, this film is set in Montreal.  Barney is extremely successful in life and that Giamatti is so likable in general, it is not hard to fall in love with this character and this movie.

There are asshole moments where you do, in a flash, despise Barney, or at least disagree with some of his choices.  But as a movie that is really just follows the life of this can't help but root for him.  There is enough drama to keep things interesting and the writing is such that you will laugh and perhaps cry. 

Rosamund Pike on her side of a cliched "train platform"
scene that while seemingly corny, actually plays as
quite sweet.
This is a weighty movie but worry not about Giamatti carrying the brunt of the load, as he has a load of help...

Giamatti is supported by Dustin Hoffman (great work...loved every scene with him!), Minnie Driver, Scott Speedman, Rosamund Pike, and more.  Rosamund Pike becomes his wife, about midway through this film.  Until this movie, and other than her stint in An Education, I have always thought she was a bit wooden...not here!  Pike is fantastic as Barney's wife, and while the payoff is great when we get them together finally, the tragedy of what follows strikes a heavy blow.

As a side note, while watching I got thinking that no matter how much you like a character, it is all the more heartbreaking to the viewer, when the complete some unforgivable act, but it is so much more devastating, when the victim of their act is an innocent as well.  Just a small aside, but I guess if we didn't have controversy in the lives of our characters, we wouldn't have films as everything would be too boring.

The movie is bookended by a murder mystery in which Barney is the prime suspect.  The film opens with an old Detective (Mark Addy) confronting Barney at Grumpy's Bar (his appropriately named nighttime hangout) and while we don't immediately learn the details, we wonder from the word go, how will this murder fit into the tale.  After we come to meet Barney and this detective, we shoot back in time to the mid-70's, in Rome, where we meet a younger Barney and our story starts to unfold.  We tag along with Barney in linear fashion through his life from this moment forward.

I very much liked this movie and there were moments of great comedy and great tragedy.  The line about the Rabbi's'll know it when you hear, biting, and vulgar, it is both hilarious in its filth to hear spoken and endearing in the love it shows for a father.

4.5 horns of 5 for BARNEY'S VERSION.  It is a bit long at 2 hrs and 13 minutes, but I really didn't feel its length for the enjoyment of the film in general.

Oh, and as for the didn't happen.  Around halfway through the movie I got a call....we were waiting on a search warrant for a crime scene....oh but for work to interrupt an otherwise fantastic day. 

As my friend, THE G MAN once said ..."We knew the job was dangerous when we signed on...".

Oh how he was right....

I am Number Four and Unknown reviews coming soon as I can take a nap, play with my boy, do some husbanding, and then hit the theater again....

Until later, take care!


(PS: The Blogger spellcheck replacement for FILMOGRAPHY is FLAMEPROOF.  Heeheehee. It made me laugh and I wanted to share it.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sam O'Hare - My Hero

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts in all of the world, FILM JUNK, when the discussion turned to the miniature rowing scene in THE SOCIAL NETWORK.  Resident filmmaker Jay Cheel pointed out that for all the digital effects, the miniature scene was in fact a practical effect using a technique known as miniature faking, using tilt shift or lens tilt.

The Social Network was loaded with controversial digital effects, all of which I think are snow, digital breath, a digital twin....David Fincher loves his effects!  But this got my wheels turning as to how this was done and it got me out the running rampant on Google.

I stumbled on to two videos by a guy named Sam O'Hare.  Sam won the Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction in 2010 and this first film was an Official Selection of the AFI Film Fest 2010.  


So The Sandpit was the video I saw first, but I especially liked this next one.  It was shot at Coachella 2010 and it is beautiful.  In both videos, I am taken by the beauty of the night time sequences.  Check out this one...


There is some great original music by a band named HUMAN.  Both videos feature their tunes.

For a look behind the curtain, check out this site: where you can learn about the workflow that was sued throughout the making of The Sandpit.

This is a little off topic for my usual posts, but at the heart of my love of movies, lies a life long love of film making as well.  Coupled with my enjoyment of photography, these vids strike me as pure genius!

Visit Sam O'Hare's web page at and see more of his work!

That's all for now...until later, take care!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Reel, Really TIRED Rhino...

As I sit here, watching this all-Bieber inspired episode of GLEE, I am questioning the meaning of life, because Justin Bieber just inspires that kind of thank you.

I went and saw THE COMPANY MEN this weekend and when I was chatting up one of the AMC folks, another of the AMC faithful excitedly asked me if I was going to see the Bieber documentary.  I answered a resounding NO, and she went on to regale me of the merits and true talent of Justin Bieber.  I followed this up with the question: "How old are you?", fully expecting her to say 16 or 17...nope, she was 21.  Yikes.  No thank you, I'll say Bieberless for now.

THE COMPANY MEN was another story, though.  Yes, this flick splits the divide between depressing and uplifting.  Yes, to the average moviegoer, feeling sympathy for a man for having to sell his Porsche in order to make his mortgage, it didn't really resonate.  But when you see this man...Ben Affleck, a solid everyman in any role, fighting to keep his family happy, I think it actually works. 

Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Craig T. Nelson and Ben Affleck are all attempting to navigate the daily grind of surviving the recession our economy has been enduring for years.  Some of them are at the top and some of the bottom and they all seem to be operating in a tax bracket that few of us can relate to (but that's life in public service, I guess).  They all play their roles to perfection and in a turn as the blue collar brother-in-law, Kevin Costner adds some enjoyable scenes to this flick.

A much more inspiring offering than Up In The Air, which was one of my 2009 favorites, The Company Men offers the hope that Clooney couldn't find in the Air.  Both flicks deal with loss and surviving upheaval in what seem like insurmountable odds.  Up In The Air offers some closure in the form of self-realization, but what good is self-realization when the audience doesn't get to partake in the catharsis?  In Company, we endure with Affleck.  We go off to hang drywall with him, and we ultimately follow him through to his rebirth.  Air was enjoyable for its bleak tone, but there is something to feel when you get to rise with the phoenix.

The Company Men is an adult drama that plays well from start to finish.  Rosemarie Dewitt is spot-on perfect in the role of the supportive wife.  In addition to her superb performance here, I find her extremely watchable in everything she is in, including Rachel Getting Married, in the titular role.

The Reel Rhino says, 4 of 5 horns for this part-time bleak, part-time uplifting look at the tough economic times that is our America.

In the past two weeks, I also had the chance to take in SANCTUM and THE MECHANIC.

Both were completely watchable with merits in their presentation, while sadly maintaining a way of being generally forgettable. 

The Mechanic was essentially TRANSPORTER 4.  Jason Statham doing what he does best: kicking ass.  I enjoyed Ben Foster and I do suppose he continues to display the kind of skills that will elevate him into the action-hero genre.  But again, it was standard Statham.  Who doesn't like it, but we have seen it before.

SANCTUM looked beautiful and James Cameron knows it.  Sanctum was thoroughly enjoyable, albeit standard, survival story-telling.  The film was shot on Cameron's patented 3-D camera system and while it made for a real pretty picture, I didn't feel any more than standard peril or pity for these stranded spelunkers.  I feel bad saying that as it is based on real events, but while any tragedy deserves true mourning, this film tells the story in only mediocre fashion. 

Both The Mechanic and Sanctum get 3.5 of 5 horns from The Reel Rhino.

I hope to make CEDAR RAPIDS, I AM NUMBER FOUR, and UNKNOWN this weekend.  I haven't pulled a three-fer in a long time and with the 80 hour week I put in at the shop last week, I am pulling for an early departure on Friday.  Also on my radar are the OSCAR shorts programs (animated, live action, and documentary) playing right now at the Tivoli here in KC.

We shall see...

Until later, take care!


Thursday, February 3, 2011


Our World, Their War...

So in the aftermath of SNOPACALYSE: Kansas City on Wednesday, I managed to free my house and truck from its snowy covering and cleared my driveway.  Minus one slip and fall and ultimately one bruised right buttocks, all was going well.  I seemed to have conquered the universe...for the moment...

After 5 hours of shoveling, pushing snow, and battling the elements, I was ready to go to work...albeit 6 hours late, I was finally ready.  You see my "day job" doesn't allow me to be conquered by the elements.  I am a Crime Scene Investigator for the Johnson County Sheriff's Office in Kansas, and I promise, criminals don't care that it is snowing.  I managed to make my way out of my driveway and onto the streets, which were surprisingly well plowed. 

Four miles into my journey, my truck started shucking and jiving...travelling at about 60 mph, my truck began to dance in a manner that I was confident indicated a problem.  My check engine light came on, and after about 1/4 mile, it started blinking.  After I made my way to the roadside, I came to find out that the BLINKING meant CATASTROPHIC trouble.  I had no idea that Ford instrument panels were made by the same folks who worked for NASA.  Catastrophic engine trouble...that can't be good.

Maybe I should have been nicer to the old gal...
I was able to finesse the old gal to the mechanic's shop (Smart Car in KCMO), but nothing could be done until this morning.  The waiting game began.  Funny story...when I was shovelling snow, I packed the bed of my pick-up with snow for added weight to the four-wheel drive.  When I got to the shop, "the guy" told me he was going to pull it in the garage overnight to thaw out.  When I told him what I had done, he paused for a beat or two and just said: "Well that's unfortunate."  No joke.

So working in a position in which I have to be ready to respond, I am now (for just a few days at least) unable and boy do I feel helpless!  I did have the chance to call in to our Public Information Officer, Tom Erickson's BlogTalkRadio show with co-host Adam Crowe on the Johnson County Radio Network.

We talked about "CSI Stuff," so if you're into that kind of thing....give a listen (player embedded below).

Listen to internet radio with JoCo Radio Network on Blog Talk Radio

So my truck is in the shop...after 120000 miles of faithful service, the ol' Ranger needs some love.  Today is not a snow day...its not a vacation is a movie day!

I was looking through my library of flicks and I came across the 2007 offering, TRANSFORMERS.  THREE TIME Academy Award Nominee!!  Yeah, okay, so they were for effects and sound, but nonetheless! 

Tyrese, on the run from Skorpinok.
I was intrigued to watch the OUR WORLD, THEIR WAR making-of documentary and let me tell is fantastic!  That movie set looks like one helluva good time and as a lover of all things movie, it was fun to catch a glimpse behind the scenes.  May I say that although in Shakespearean terms, he is probably not so great, but I love Tyrese's delivery of those action-comic lines: "Left cheek, left cheek, left cheek!"

I believe I have shared in the past this terrible truth: I am a fanboy Michael Bay apologist.  I love everything he has done!  I hate that The Island was poorly received, primarily due to lack of Jerry Bruckheimer support (it was their first film apart), a controversy regarding the screenplay, and who knows why else.  After The Island, Bay picked up a gem of a producer (and am I posturing too much if I say mentor) in Steven Spielberg. 

I loved the Transformers as a kid and I love BOTH movies so far.  I am extremely pleased as a movie guy that Spielberg has been a producer on these.  His presence is felt.  And as for Bay, I think Pearl Harbor to far underrated and that Armageddon may be one of the greatest movies of all-time...

Okay, I went too far, but that Harry Stamper was one hell of a hero!

Bottom line, I can't wait for DARK OF THE MOON and I think Bay will deliver once again. 

Don't be a Bay-Hater...a BAYTER if you will.  It is a great ride at the theater and worth my dime any day.

File this under random defense of Michael Bay.

Until later...yours in movies and (in continued defense of his greatness Mr. Michael Bay),