Monday, November 21, 2011

A Plethora of Movies, Including Twilight....oooooohhhh....Twilight

Jeffe, did you say I had a plethora of movies?  Ah, yes El Whoppa, I did say you have a plethora of movies.

A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas - 2 of 5 Horns
Anonymous - 4 of 5 Horns
J Edgar - 3 of 5 Horns
Immortals 4.5 of 5 Horns
Our Idiot Brother - 4 of 5 Horns
Martha Marcy May Marlene - 4 of 5 Horns
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 - 3 of 5 Horns

Sorry for the delay folks!  I have been mighty busy...a garage sale, raking leaves, fighting takes a toll on a big fella!

As for the present moment (yeah, okay...this post is a few days old!), Mrs. Reel Rhino is out with some other ladies taking in the AMC Stubs Special Event, also known as, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I.  Ohhhhhhhh....Team Jacob....Team Edward!  Everybody get sooooooo excited.  Stay tuned for the Twilight review at the bottom of the page.

I am not a Twi-hater, but I do have fundamental problems with these movies.  I think the wooden acting has killed these films in a manner similar to the Hayden Christensen-Star Wars debacle.  This series would have been so better served by teens who could actual emote.  These kids, for their deep Shakespearean love, really fail to act like anything resembling real teens.  I hope these last two films are at least decent, as for all my complaining, I will have to still see it.

A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas: 2 of 5 Horns
FROM IMDB: "Six years after their Guantanamo Bay adventure, stoner buds Harold Lee and Kumar Patel cause a holiday fracas by inadvertently burning down Harold's father-in-law's prize Christmas tree."  

A sub-par entry into the H&K series, there are a few decent gags, but otherwise, this film falls completely flat.  I mean that IMDB synopsis pretty much says it all.  This flick is saved by the presence of Neil Patrick Harris only, as everything this guy touches, seems to turn to gold.

I only wonder what "the community" will think about NPH forsaking his gayness, even if for the sake of a comedic bit.  His bravery to live out loud was praised, but the whole thing is proclaimed a gag in this flick, as a ploy to get chicks.  I get the joke, and perhaps his supporters will as well.  I am a firm believer that in the name of comedy, all can be forgiven, but for such a sensitive issue these days, maybe it was too much too soon.

Other than a very enjoyable role by NPH, this film is clearly a must miss.

Anonymous: 4 of 5 Horns
FROM IMDB: "A political thriller advancing the theory that it was in fact Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford who penned Shakespeare's plays; set against the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I, and the Essex Rebellion against her."

This is the "real" story of William Shakespeare, as told by the master of disaster, Roland Emmerich.  "They" say that this is the first film by Emmerich that actually is a truly decent film.  While I believe that this is a truly decent film, I do think that Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, and The Patriot were all wholly enjoyable, albeit somewhat guilty pleasures.

Supposedly, the works of William Shakespeare were actually written by "Anonymous," and in a moment of haste, when the call for the talents of the writer of a stage play was being chanted, Shakespeare stepped up and took the credit.

This film was at times hard to follow, as events unfold in 3 different times and in a variety of venues.  And it is very much a period piece, with everyone dressed in drab garb.

But for whatever this film got wrong, it got right the presentation of a really enjoyable film spinning a tale that for some scholars, may be an actual portrayal of the history of The Bard.  It is one part drama, one part comedy, one part action....Check it out if you get a chance, it is a really decent 2 hours in the theater.

J Edgar: 3 of 5 Horns
FROM IMDB: "As the face of law enforcement in America for almost 50 years, J. Edgar Hoover was feared and admired, reviled and revered. But behind closed doors, he held secrets that would have destroyed his image, his career and his life."

I will lead with this: this film WILL take the Oscar for Best Makeup.  For the three leads, Leo, Armie Hammer, and Naomi Watts, they aged them perfectly.  The old detraction from their appearance was the jarring nature of hearing Leo speak through an old man's body.

This is a film with great potential, but far less delivery.  It is a thinker, not a doer, and it plays out as a procedural of J Edgars life, with too little action but for a couple of dynamic arrest scenes.

The speculation to J Edgar's personal proclivities is the interesting aspect of this movie.  There were some high points on the history of the FBI's major cases, most notably, the Lindbergh Kidnapping.  I found the presentation of the kidnapping and investigation very plain.  Now I speak from a position of insider authority on the Lindbergh case as I have studied it and presented on it professionally.  I think to an extent, this dulled this bit of the tale, and it covered a solid chunk of the flick.

What I did like, as a CSI myself, was the depiction of the creation of the FBI Crime Lab, not the first one in the country, but the first with the scope and impact that the FBI lab had on crime fighting, most notably at the time, the collection and categorizing of the fingerprints of known offenders.

All in all, I was entertained by this movie, but just not moved the way I have been in the past from the offerings of Clint Eastwood.

I will say there was a fair amount of hate in my theater, for every time the bits concerning the speculated homosexual behavior of the legendary lawman hit the screen, some of my fellow moviegoers felt the need to offer guffaws, and one guy actually yelled out "that's bullshit!" 

No my friend, you are the bullshit.

Immortals: 4.5 of 5 Horns
FROM IMDB: "Theseus is a mortal man chosen by Zeus to lead the fight against the ruthless King Hyperion, who is on a rampage across Greece to obtain a weapon that can destroy humanity."

I love the films of Tarsem Singh...for pre-viewing research, check out The Fall, from 2006 or The Cell from 2000...yep, The Cell...that flick with J Lo.  Both films are so vivid, the decent stories in each are forgiven for the stunning visuals.

Mirror, Mirror, the other Snow White click, is due in early 2012 and it will be Tarsem's fourth film and I have high hopes.  I also like the look of Snow White and The Huntsman.  If you haven't yet, check out the trailer.

Immortals is a really well made film, that like Tarsem's previous efforts, look beautiful.  This is an example of 3-D truly enhancing the product by giving great depth of field.

This is a fantasy, and there are bit with the Greek Gods intertwined with the story of the mortals, and the one who would save them.

Henry Cavill is Theseus.  Henry Cavill is the next Superman, in the Chris Nolan produced reboots.  Cavill shows himself here to be fully capable in the hero role.  His boyish looks have a sense of innocence that should translate well into the Clark Kent side of Supe.

Mickey Rourke plays King Hyperion in yet another role in which he seems to have born to play.

There is a fight sequence towards the end of the film that is Matrix-esque and for 2011, just as exciting.

Immortals is billed as being from the Producers of 300, and it is worth the billing.  Stephen Dorff is

Martha Marcy May Marlene: 4 of 5 Horns
FROM IMDB: "Haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia, a damaged woman struggles to re-assimilate with her family after fleeing an abusive cult."

This film may be best known for starring an Olsen, not one of the twins, even younger...Elizabeth Olsen, 22 years old, and a fragile being in this film, freshly escaped from a collective farm/cult.  She flees into the arms of a long lost sister, two years removed from each other's lives while she was living under the roof of "the family." 

The "father," Patrick, is played masterfully by John Hawkes.  Hawkes is coming off a banner 2010 having been nominated for best supporting actor for his role of Teardrop in Winter's Bone.  Not to typecast this force of the silver screen, but he was built for roles like this, a very similar character, hard and worn, to last year's Teardrop.

After two years in the family, Martha has had enough, and one morning, she hits the trail at the crack of dawn.  She calls her sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson), and after being gone for two years, she is more than happy to reconnect with Martha.

Martha is not forthcoming with what she has been through, but it becomes obvious to Lucy, that something is wrong.  It is also obvious to Ted (Hugh Dancy), Lucy's husband, who had never met Martha, and who is very astute to Martha's oddities.

The film is told in two parts, toggling back and forth from the beginning of Martha's run with the family and the beginning of her time again with her long lost sister.

The tension in this film builds as the running time continues...but it never rises to its billing as a thriller, which is really my only complaint.  The tension comes from Martha's experiences in the family and the discomfort that grows as Martha's social awkwardness grows less and less tolerated. 

I enjoyed this film and I think that Olsen, Hawkes, and Paulson will all be contenders come Oscar season, as well as screenwriter and director Sean Durkin, who has already been nominated for Best Breakthrough Director in the Gotham Awards.

Check it out, if for no other reason, to see something different from the mostly trashy flicks playing in theaters now.

Speaking of trash...

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1: 3 of 5 Horns
Now the Mrs. Reel Rhino disagrees with my feelings of mundanity towards this penultimate entry into the Stephanie Meyer series, but it isn't the first time I have disputed with my lady, and it won't be the last.

There were a few decent moments in this flick, but my chief complaint remains this is such a far fetched presentation of teens, let alone teens in love.  I guess living as long as Edward has, you could do little else but be a piney little whiner.

If you remember a few posts ago, I gave the Team Jacob flick, Abduction, a passing 4 of 5 horns review.  That review stands, and I also think that T Laut is one of the few people in this flick that can actually act. Lautner, Billy Burke, and Ashley Greene, and Anna Kendrick are really the ones in this that I find palatable.  Billy Burke because he;s a cool dude, Kendrick because she is legitimately talented albeit misused as a comic sidekick honoring the role she created before she hit it big, and Ashley Green because, well as Mrs. Reel Rhino put is, is adorable.

Lautner had me going full on Team Jacob, until that scene were he was wolfed out and has the meeting with his wold pack, him proclaiming "I follow no one....I am the grandson of a chief!!!!"  The wolfpack scene was re-dick-U-lous.

I didn't hate this movie...I just find it more silly than it had to be, and for a richer bit of acting, the story may actually have stuck a little more solid. 

Notice how I didn't mention Kristen Stewart....yep, that was on purpose.  I only hope she is asleep through much of Snow White and the Huntsman, which otherwise looks pretty damn good.  I'm not trying to judge, but she is terribly melodramatic.

See this movie if you must.  See it on the big screen if you plan on seeing it, as it will accentuate it just a little bit...speaking of accentuating the movie going experience.  There was a crying infant front and center.  The screaming lasted from beginning to end...intermittently.  When the baby wasn't yelling, the other audience members the baby's parents.  Nice.  See also, my last post on being an ass at the theater.  These people qualified whole hearted as a bunch of asses.  Nice one.

Our Idiot Brother: 4 of 5 Horns
From IMDB: "A comedy centered on an idealist who barges into the lives of his three sisters."

A formulaic, but enjoyable film, featuring Paul Rudd as said Idiot Brother.  This film has a star studded cast in Rashida Jones, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Steve Coogan, T.J. Miller, and Kathryn Hahn.

Basically, Paul Rudd is sent to jail for selling weed to a uniformed officer.  This act should give some insight to the intelligence level of the man, but what you also see out of the gate is the heart of this guy.  He is as compassionate and caring as he is idiotic, but most of his caring leads to more idiotic antics.

After being released from jail, we see him bounce from his mother's house, to each of his sister's, and back to his mother's.  In each scenario, Rudd's Ned gets involved in the lives of his family, and in each scenario, he gets them into hot water.

The formulaic part is that in the end, everyone is better for the chaos that has invaded their lives.  That is no spoiler, but only info as to the type of movie...for take away the f-bombs and weed dealing, and this would almost qualify as a feel good family film.

Instead, we have a really competent adult comedy with a decent feel good flow to it.

Check it out when you get a chance, which will likely be at home as this flick has already been through a pretty limited run in the theaters.


That's a lot of movies!  I am about spent and for now, I will bid you adieu.  Until next time, take care!
Reel Rhino

Saturday, November 5, 2011

TOWER HEIST Review and Am I an Ass...don't answer that.

So I'll cut to the "I'm an Ass" part first.  I did go and see Tower Heist this evening.  I would like to think that for around 150 movies at the theater a year, that I am a sensitive movie goer.

I hate when folks bring loud and inappropriate aged kids to the theater.

I hate when cell phones aren't set to silent and when these phones do ring, the person who owns it can't seem to sort out:  --a) where the phone is, and   --b) how to stop the phone from ringing in the darkened environment of the theater.

Even more so, I hate so very much, when people actually answer the phones in the theater.  Are you kidding are really answering the phone...

"I'm at the movies..."
"I'll call you back later..."
"Yeah, okay, I'll meet you there..."
"Tell Bob I said hi..."

Cardinal don't answer your phone at the theater.  I am on call, 24/7/365.  Usually 5 or 6 times a year, I will have a movie interrupted by a call out.  When my phone "rings," at the theater, it is set to silent.  I get up, press answer, and let the person on the other end of the phone listen to the movie as I walk out of the theater.

Bottom line, I hate inappropriate disruptions at the theater.

I am a considerate movie goer, but apparently today, I stepped over one man's line.

When the credits were approximately 3/4 of the way through, I pulled out to update the Media Stinger page.  If you don't use it yet, be sure to check out MEDIA STINGER to see what movies have scenes during or after the credits.  I use it for every flick I go see, to see if it will benefit me to stay until the lights come on.  I contribute when I can, and I got credit for getting the Stinger submission for Tower Heist, but not without a price.

When I pulled out my phone, and this was the first time it was out since the trailers ended, within seconds, a man sitting two seats to my right stood up, tried to tough guy tower over me, and said "THANKS FOR HAVING YOUR PHONE OUT DURING THE MOVIE!"  Caps indicate his tone, and I was quite frankly, flabbergasted.

My quick retort was: "I didn't!" to which he said "IT IS OUT RIGHT NOW!" 

I should have just uttered: "NUHHH UHHHHHH, POPPY PANTS!," but what I actually said was that I thought he was a real joy to be around and told him to get out of my face.  Now I have been losing weight, but at 335, I am still quite formidable.  He left immediately and no blood was shed or blows were thrown.  I was angry, but I still have self-restraint.

My statement regarding this interaction is this: for my agitation at others during a movie, I consider the trailers and the credits fair game for cell phone use, especially when there are no stingers at hand. 

I was sorry that this jackalope was upset and had he handled it differently, I would have apologized in kind.  But I stand by my take on credits rolling cell phone usage.

What say you Reel Rhinoites?  What are your boundaries for theater etiquette?  What is your worst disturbance at the theater story?

Mine relates to an infant child crying through the duration of Drag Me To Hell.  That screaming infant helped me on my own personal descent into hell...what theater behavior has got your goat...let me know in the comments or via e-mail, and if I get a good enough response, I'll do a follow up post.

Now, on to the show...

TOWER HEIST 3.5 of 5 Horns
This was a passable entry into the adventure heist comedy genre.  I will say that if this was an R-rate flick (it was PG-13), that Eddie Murphy would officially be back.  For what he could spout in this milder environment, he was channelling very well, a similar vibe he had in Trading Places, the 1983 classic Eddie Murphy/Dan Aykroyd flick.  If you've never seen it, stop reading right now and go do it.  I mean it!

Okay, welcome back.  

Brett Ratner specializes in movies that seem to avoid risk, giving us much of the same old stuff, rather than anything resembling new ideas.  I don't say that to be mean, but I find his films so middle of the road.  Not since 1998, when he gave us the original Rush Hour, did he really impress me as a director...Rush Hour the first was well paced and funny as hell.

Even Red Dragon (2002) and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) were based on previous properties and in both instances, these missed the bar set forth by their predecessors.

There really is an all-star cast here: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Alan Alda, Michael Pena, Tea Leoni, Judd Hirsch, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, and Gabourey Sibide.  For as great as that sounds, they all deliver fair performances, but Murphy and Sibide stand above the others, by far.

From IMDB: When a group of hard working guys find out they've fallen victim to a wealthy business man's (Alda)  Ponzi scheme, they conspire to rob his high-rise residence. 

Alda is a penthouse pimp who is adored by the staff at his high end apartment tower.  The bend to his every whim until they find out he is being charged with securities fraud, an investigation being led by Tea Leoni's free spirited FBI Agent.   

Our hero is Stiller's character, the apartment manager who is fired after taking out some aggression on Alda when he finds out they have been swindled.  He was canned along with Casey Affleck and Pena, and the three of them hatch a plan to get it all back, but they need help.

Broderick is evicted from the apartment, a former market expert, and he is brought in for his expertise.  

Murphy is a low level criminal who Stiller knows as a neighbor, and he is brought in as the expert in all things criminal.

Round out the gang with Sibide, a disgruntled maid who is about to be deported for an expired work Visa, and the gangs all here.

The vehicle for the MacGuffin (the cash) in this movie is a bit interesting, but I won't spoil it here.  The fact that the backdrop for this film is an apartment along the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade route, is also interesting.

Really that is a good way to describe this movie: interesting.

It is an interesting movie with a great cast, but the movie is never brought to the sum of its parts.  It is like Oceans 14, without Clooney or Pitt, and not nearly as good as any of Soderbergh's offerings.  I enjoyed seeing this, especially due to the resurgence of the Eddie Murphy I remember from my's hoping we can get this guy into an R-rated flick soon.  If they reboot Beverly Hills Cop with a rumored sequel, if it is PG-13, I will protest.

No more Meet Dave, no more Imagine That, no more Norbit...get back to the good stuff, baby.  And for the record, I am a Pluto Nash apologist...yep, like it a lot.  Get over it was the last time Randy Quaid was funny and overall, it is much more fun than anyone give it credit for.

Until later, have a Very Harold and Kumar Christmas...maybe that's up next for me...maybe Anonymous.  I haven't decided yet.  Who knows what the weekend will hold...just hopefully it doesn't involve any more verbal lashings by codgery old men.  A boy can dream...

Reel Rhino

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Puss in Boots, Margin Call - Reel Rhino (Mini) Reviews

Yep, mini reviews...that's all I have for you...

I gave the leaves in my yard round two this week, so I am a little tuckered out.  I would like to get this out there...I think that Adam Sandler's Jack and Jill will be THE atrocity of 2011.

There, I said it...I think they should reconsider the title, and change it to Battlefield Earth II.  What is he thinking?  Sandler can really be funny, sweet, dramatic, and more, but what in the hell is going on here?

This could officially be his first steps down Eddie Murphy Road...which hopefully Eddie, an insanely talented guy, is about to pull himself out of.  Tower Heist has had some early reviews that sound not so bad.  We'll see.  Who knows, Eddie's Nutty Professor was a blazing success, perhaps Jack and Jill will...nope, I can't even say it, let alone write it...

This poster is looks like a parody poster.  The thing is, its rated PG.  I am guessing this is being drummed out as a family movie.  I think it will flounder.

Puss in Boots - 3.5 of 5 Horns
This is the not so necessary spin-off  to the Shrek flicks, that perhaps wore out their welcome, by at least one film.  I guess Shrek Forever After was funny, but really their writers do a good job of channeling the zeitgeist of popular culture and film.  The Shrek flicks always also seemed to work in some hidden, yet very adult humor, without risking they not as savvy kiddies getting the jokes.

That is really what Puss in Boots got right...some well placed jokes, some decent action, and a really good looking presentation of the IMAX version.  But, what in the hell are the prices like in Denver...$17.00 for a matinee showing at the United Artists downtown theater?!?

That's a little too rich for my blood, but they do have a great auditorium for their IMAX screen.  Too much dough, though, too much dough.

Puss in Boots is an enjoyable, mindless day at the theater.  Antonio Banderas has charm, Selma Hayek is tone perfect as Kitty Softpaws....she is one bad kitty.  Zach Galifianakis plays Humpty Dumpty...he is as talented in voice as he is in person, but I think it is mainly because you can picture him making silly faces as he delivers each and every well enunciated line.

A passable effort...okay, an enjoyable one, but not mind-blowing and I stand by what I always say...I prefer originality to the same old thing, and this is sadly, the some more of the same old thing.

Margin Call - 4 of 5 Horns
A timely film, albeit this being a fictional tale, depicting in spirit of the fall of the Lehman Brothers investment firm.  I saw this on On-Demand, which is nice, but curious...why not the big rant from the theater owners here?

The cast alone warrants checking this one out...Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Stanley Tucci, Paul Bettany, Simon Baker, and plays out with something like a Glengary Glen Ross, just not exactly as engaging, and with a couple of gals thrown in, like Mary McDonnell and Demi Moore. 

This is an enjoyable film as a procedural on the dark side of finance.  It's relevance makes it more exciting, and generally speaking, being primarily a talkie, there are some decent thrills and tension throughout. 

Again, for a shorty review, I say see it, but save the big screen for big screen type flicks.  Check it out On-Demand, and enjoy a flick and send the message...if you build it, we will watch. 

Until later, take care...we'll see how Tower Heist holds up.  I'll be back soon with more to report.
Reel Rhino