FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS, LOVE WITH A TWIST

What saves this remix from taking a nosedive into oblivion is the cast.  Friends With Benefits’ Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake are the winners here who outdo Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher in their attempt to jazz up friendship with sex in No Strings Attached.  So if you haven’t seen the latter, then don’t miss Friends With Benefits, it’s a stitch.

 

Dylan’s (Timberlake) a young star as an Art Director in LA who seems to be getting along just fine with his fellow workers. On a lark he takes up an offer by New York headhunter Jamie (Kunis) to interview for an opening at GQ magazine to head up their Art Department.  Dylan gets offered the job and after a lot of coaxing by Jamie decides to take it, but on one condition, she be his friend while he transitions.  When their other relationships don’t pan out sexually, Dylan and Jamie turn to a mutual bedroom solution to that problem.

 

Jamie (Mila Kunis) and Dylan (Justin Timberlake)

Timberlake and Kunis save the film with their chemistry for each other.  The relationship has a nice romantic touch that really differs from the raunchy one between Portman and Kutcher in No Strings Attached.   The lead-in between the two in Friends With Benefits has a more realistic connection with Kunis’s character Jamie being more of a crutch for Dylan in the city of high energy and fast lane business.  And as far as the sex goes, it may not be as SPICY as Kutcher and Portman, but there’s more tenderness and passion here.

Will Gluck Director on the set of FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS

Director Will Gluck uses a lighter touch with his actors not overdoing the sexuality to make it the only interest in the film.  His ability to use Kunis’s comedic torch to catch Timbelake’s Dylan soft naiveté off guard makes many scenes funny that would ordinarily be filler in most films.  And when he brings in a scene that would turn most audience into a remorseful mood, he uses it to tighten Jamie and Dylan’s relationship even more.

 

Should you go see the film at the theater?  For those who have seen No Strings Attached it’s a maybe; for those who haven’t make it a date night.  Friends With Benefits is certainly worth the watch.

 

Friends With Benefits is rated R for sexual content, language and some drug material and it is no film to take immature youngsters.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  Friends puts comedy in the bedroom. (B-)

 

 

 

HARRY POTTER DH Part 2, A THUNDERING FINALE

It’s all about the action in part two of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  I can see why the filmmakers split the book for this final sequel as it would have been a long and drawn out affair if they hadn’t.  The special effects and CGI sparkle in this edition making the action explosive and adventurous.

 

Continuing where part 1 left off, Voldemort is found testing his new all-powerful wand.  Harry, Hermione and Ron have smashed another Horcrux (Voldemort’s death escape objects) and are searching for the final three in order to make him vulnerable.  When they find them an all out war begins between a horde of Voldemort followers, conjured creatures and the Death Eaters versus the Hogwarts class lead by Neville Longbottom, joining Hermione, Ron and Harry. But the final challenge between Voldemort and Harry strikes the final blow.

 

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Herminoe (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint)

 

Direction by David Yates who took over in 2007 with the series is courageous and impressive. He puts Harry into the action and in many cases with extras running in all directions yet the focus still stays on his main man. I like the way he brings back Longbottom, the Weasleys and others for one last great performance.  His ability to mix CGI with live action puts Yates up with the best of the directors of today.

Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort

 

Excellent Cinematography makes the film outstanding with amazing clarity even during the most hectic scenes with the cast running in all directions, CGI creatures entering the melee and Harry still the center of attraction.  Close-ups of Voldemort are amazingly hard to get due to special make-up, prosthetic pieces and computer graphic blend for his face, but that seemed to be little problem for the camera crew. I give a tip of the hat to the CGI crew for producing an incredible dragon.

 

It was fun to see the return to Hogwarts with all the people in the paintings running for cover, the moving staircases taking a lot of the action, Hogwarts castle resisting the onslaught of Voldemort’s wrath and more.  And many answers to the puzzling characters that came up during previous episodes are answered, friendships rekindled, and secrets are revealed.

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 has been rated PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images. See it in 3D and you can reach for a piece of Voldemort.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  A truly good ending to a great series. (A)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTO ETERNITY, A NUCLEAR CEMETERY

What you are about to see in the documentary Into Eternity is the Netherlands’s answer to an age-old problem.  The film attempts to answer the question; What do we do with the waste from the result of using nuclear energy that gives us electricity, submarine power and even yes the development of weaponry.  The Fins and Swedes feel they have found an answer and are releasing their film worldwide.

 

In documentary form officials, scientists and their spokespersons introduce a problem the government of Finland and Sweden are now facing, ‘Should they tell the people of the world where they are burying the waste from their Nuclear Power plants?’  You see, there is no scientific formula for reusing the nuclear waste that is the by-product of making the electricity the country uses (the same problem facing countries that have nuclear power plants throughout the world) therefore it must be burried.

 

In Finland they have buried their nuclear waste in a pit miles below their country in a rock bed that they believe will keep it from exploding, giving off radio active energy or any future contamination, forever. Their only dilemma is should they keep the place a secret so no one will find it for 100,000 years or tell each generation where it is and not to go near it for eternity?

 

Why would I want to know where this stuff is buried?  Well according to the documentary, some people may accidentally find it, an earthquake may disturb its resting place or even an unknown volcano may cause the stuff to be exposed.  Um, if they haven’t found a way to reuse the trash, and there is no other place to put it, then it’s best left unknown.  If in 50,000 years from now someone trips over it, then so be it.  Hopefully they already will have an answer to the reversal of nuclear waste.

 

There isn’t a lot you can say about the film.  Even though it drags a bit, seems like a self-serving pat on the back and gets repetitive, the message rings clear that if we are going to use Nuclear Energy for any purpose, the waste must be put in a place where it cannot be touched for 100,000 years.

 

I am neither a physicist nor an expert on what happens when humans get exposed to radiation.  But it seems to me it is something very bad.  If we are to live on the only earth we have, then all countries should follow in the footsteps of the Netherlands.

 

Is the message good?  ABSOLUTLY, and for that reason I recommend it for required viewing by every government agency, office and even the president/queen/officiate of every country in the world, especially if they are going to or are in the process of using plutonium for any reason.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  A HOT topic that needs to be addressed. (B)

The film is in English but has helpful subtitles as well due to the Finish accents.

 

NUCLEAR FACTS

Onkalo – the world’s FIRST permanent nuclear waste repository

 

Onkalo is a Finnish word for hiding place. It is situated at Olkiluoto in Finland – approximately 300 km northwest of Helsinki and it’s the world’s first attempt at a permanent repository. It is a huge system of underground tunnels hewn out of solid bedrock. Work on the concept behind the facility commenced in 1970s and the repository is expected to be backfilled and decommissioned in the 2100s – more than a century from now. No person working on the facility today will live to see it completed. The Finnish and Swedish Nuclear Authorities are collaborating on the project, and Sweden is planning a similar facility, but has not begun the actual construction of it.

Facts about nuclear waste

High-level nuclear waste is the inevitable end result of nuclear energy production. The waste will remain radioactive and/or radiotoxic for at least 100,000 years. It is estimated that the total amount of high-level nuclear waste in the world today is between 250,000 and 300,000 tons. The amount of waste increases daily.

Security standards

Radioactive waste is hazardous to all living organisms and exposure to radiation may result in death, incurable disease, as well as mutation of the genetic code. The security standards are based on theoretical assumptions, as humanity has no previous experience to build on with regards to radioactive waste. In Europe there is a security standard of 100,000 years for the minimum period that the waste must remain isolated from all living organisms; in the US it is 1,000,000 years.

 

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

February 16, 2010

 

Obama Administration Announces Loan Guarantees to Construct New Nuclear Power Reactors in Georgia

Conditional deal is major step towards restarting the domestic nuclear industry

 

Washington D.C. — Underscoring his Administration’s commitment to jumpstarting the nation’s nuclear power industry, President Obama today announced that the Department of Energy has offered conditional commitments for a total of $8.33 billion in loan guarantees for the construction and operation of two new nuclear reactors at a plant in Burke, Georgia. The project is scheduled to be the first U.S. nuclear power plant to break ground in nearly three decades.

“To meet our growing energy needs and prevent the worst consequences of climate change, we need to increase our supply of nuclear power and today’s announcement helps to move us down that path.  But energy leaders and experts recognize that as long as producing carbon pollution carries no cost, traditional plants that use fossil fuels will be more cost-effective than plants that use nuclear fuel.  That is why we need comprehensive energy and climate legislation to create a system of incentives to make clean energy profitable,” said President Obama.  “What I hope this announcement underscores is both our commitment to meeting the energy challenge – and our willingness to look at this challenge not as a partisan issue, but as a matter far more important than politics.”

The two new 1,100 megawatt Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors at the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant will supplement the two existing reactor units at the facility. According to industry projections, the project will create approximately 3,500 onsite construction jobs. Once the nuclear reactors become operational, the project will create 800 permanent jobs.

“This is a significant step by the Obama Administration to restart our domestic nuclear industry, helping to create valuable long-term jobs and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said.

Project sponsors include Georgia Power Company (GPC), Oglethorpe Power Corporation (OPC), the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG) and the City of Dalton, Georgia (Dalton).

For more information, please visit www.lgprogram.energy.gov.

https://lpo.energy.gov/?page_id=45

Some information supplied in this review came from Michael Madsen’s movie press notes

 

THE TRIP, BLATHERINGLY BORING

 

Corny and blathering The Trip documents a dining trip taken by Comic Steve Coogan and impressionist Rob Brydon as they travel across the north face of England.  Sometimes funny but mostly droll, the movie will probably not be appreciated by Americans unless they are decedents of Great Britain and understand why it is funny.

 

Here is the description of the film by the filmmaker; When Steve Coogan is asked by The Observer (A newspaper in London) to tour the country’s finest restaurants, he envisions it as the perfect getaway with his beautiful girlfriend. But, when she backs out on him, he has no one to accompany him but his best friend and source of eternal aggravation, Rob Brydon. As the brilliant comic duo, free styling with flair, drive each other mad with constant competition and showdowns of competing impressions (including dueling Michael Caines, Sean Connerys and Al Pacinos), the ultimate odd couple realize in the end a rich amount about not only good food, but the nature of fame, relationships and their own lives.

 

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in THE TRIP

Now, I don’t know how many of you know Steve Coogan (Ershon in The Other Guys, Hades in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Octavis in Night At The Museum, and Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days) but the aforementioned movie titles should give you a clue.  He has starred in many British TV shows and is well known on British Late Night and on US’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien.  So if you like the films or happen to like British humor, then that’s a good reason to see this film.

 

Rob Brydon has a huge following as a Television star in Britain appearing on over 50 shows.  In this film his comedy surrounds his ability to imitate famous actors and notables with a lot of tongue in cheek remarks. Not having witnessed his comedy prior to this film was probably why I couldn’t connect with why he kept interjecting famous voices whenever Coogan got the best of him.

A-scene-from-TheTrip

I couldn’t tell whether the cinematography was purposefully deplorable or Northern England has to be the dankest part of the earth.  Shots of even the more meaningful dining spots are so dimly lit that Coogan and Brydon loose all their expressiveness during the comical chat.

 

I was not impressed with the film as I found it boring, unimaginative, and not very funny.  The impressions of Michael Caine are good by both, but after ‘replaying’ the voice so many times in the film it becomes inane.  Maybe I am not a big lover of British Comedy; after all I don’t get Curb Your Enthusiasm, but I love Monty Python and Peter Sellers.

 

The Trip is not rated and should be left that way.  Although it is billed as a comedy be forewarned that Coogan and Brydon are professional Brits and do not pretend to be otherwise.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: See it only if you know what’s in bangers and mash. (D)


 

HORRIBLE BOSSES, CRUDE RUDE AND UNGLUED

 

Most everyone would like to be the boss, but in most instances there’s only one.  I hope my readers don’t have a boss as despicable as the ones in Horrible Bosses a nicely funny comedy directed by Seth Gordon.  Filled with a lot of hilarious situations, this film is perfect for mature adults. If you are not offended by sexuality and a lot of crude language then run to see Horrible Bosses.

 

The film centers on three friends Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) who have run into a stone barrier at their jobs.  Nick works for a twisted supervisor (Kevin Spacey) who has dangled a Senior Vice President carrot in front of him only to absorb the job for himself. Master accountant Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), loved by Mr. Pellit owner of the company he works for, has been groomed to take over when he retires, but his drug-addicted son (Colin Farrell) has other plans.  Finally, Dale a dental assistant to Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston) works in an environment of sexually harassment by his x-rated boss who makes her workday a play day.

 

The bosses are really sinister when it comes to management and the three friends plot to do something about it. When a very bad idea goes horribly wrong the boys find themselves in dire straits.

Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), Dale (Charlie Day) and Nick (Jason Bateman)

The three buddy characters’ actors deliver some very hysterical comedy and in most cases are well suited to their roles.  Bateman does a great job of making Nick the most intelligent of the group who keeps things in perspective when the three band together to take out revenge.  Day puts on his best comedy face for the very goofy role of Dale an engaged man who goes to work everyday trying to fend off Dr. Julia’s onslaught for sex.  And yes lets not forget Sudeikis who has to deal with a freaky Bobby Pellit and does so in a screwy kind of way providing some dark comedy of his own.

Dale fends off Dr. Harris (Jennifer Aniston) in HORRIBLE BOSSES

Director Seth Gordon (Freakononics) does a pretty good job of keeping the laughs rolling and the situations ridiculous.  His ability to tie the talent together boss to employee and a realistic trio of friends is truly admirable.  I like the pace, situations and resolve in Horrible Bosses making the film an above average comedy in my book.

The film isn’t perfect however and there are some situations that ‘shovel the corn’.  I found the ‘three stooges’ slapping childish, Aniston’s hypersexual lust way over the top, Ferrell’s Bobby Pellit frightfully chilling and Spacey extremely overbearing, but I guess in Seth Gordon’s mind that’s what makes this film fun.  Now I’m just saying, but if I had a nymphomaniac boss like Jennifer Aniston…well you fill in the blanks.

Horrible Bosses is rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language and some drug material.  The language is very raw and the sexual oriented gestures and innuendos extremely vulgar for anyone under the age of 17.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: Bosses tries for a Hangover, but gets kicked to the side of the road. (C+)

 


 

 

BRIDE FLIGHT, A LOFTY ROMANCE

A period piece with a lot of style, good acting and directing Bride Flight inspired by a true event provides a visual delight for romantics.  I liked the film for its characters, the interesting story and New Zealand photography.  If you take your romance served slowly yet gracefully then Bride Flight’s a delicious treat.

 

The story involves three intended brides, Ada (Karina Smulders) a young woman desperate for companionship, Esther (Anna Drijver) a holocaust survivor with dreams of being a designer and Marjorie (Elise Schaap) on her way to start a family, that travel to New Zealand following World War II.  The three become friends fast on their long trip from Holland.  During the flight Ada meets Frank (Waldemar Torenstra) who is on his way to start a new life in the far county and the two become enamored with each other.  When the four finally land at their destination they realize that a bond has been made, but to what end?

Ada Von Holland (Karina Smulders)

I like the way director Ben Sombogaart (his film Twin Sisters was nominated for an Oscar in 2002) weaves his tail making sure each of his characters are developed before throwing them into their new lives.  Although he takes a long time with the story his characters are amazingly addictive with charming qualities that induce you to want more.  Not overbearing with a single subject, he takes the three women and intertwines their relationships playing out each act as one story.

 

A fine cast lead by Smulders as the lovely yet romantically confused Ada graces the screen with a stunning performance that keeps the viewer wanting more. Smulders’ chemistry with Torenstra as Frank makes the romanticism realistic and compelling.  The two smolder up the screen with their love for each other.

Frank (Waldemar Torenstra) and Esther (Anna Drijver)

The cinematography of post WWII New Zealand showing the beauty and promise of the land helps the story along.  I liked the way Sombogaart fits his costumed actors into the rugged sets providing a step back into the past. Aided by some great natural formations, hot springs, 1940’s settlements and majestic mountains, the film becomes somewhat of a travelogue as well.

 

 

Bride Flight is rated R for a strong sex scene and some graphic nudity.  The film also contains a traumatic birthing scene and some violence.  Subtitles are provided for the Dutch language.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A nicely played out romantic adventure. (B)

 

AWARDS

Scottsdale Film Festival – Audience Award for Best Film
Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival – Audience Favorite Award
Rehoboth Beach Film Festival – Best Feature Audience Award
Newport Beach Film Festival – Best Feature Film, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Cinematographer, Best Screenplay

 


LARRY CROWNE, RIDES AGAIN

 

Opening up in a crowded market Larry Crowne takes a big chance that the romance filmgoer needs a break from all the explosive action now on the big screen.  But does this film have what it takes to go up against Transformers 3, Green Lantern, Super 8 and Bad Teacher?  Even Monte Carlo with its teen market will have a tough time.

The film centers on Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) a mild mannered man who is liked by his fellow employees at U-Mart.  In fact he has won Employee of the Month a lot of times.  On the last Friday of the Month he hears his name called over the store speaker to report to the break room.  The company is downsizing and since Larry doesn’t have a college degree they let him go.  Torn by this Larry goes home to rethink and downsize his life goals.  When the bank finds Larry with no job and late payments Larry decides to go to college and earn a degree.

Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks in LARRY CROWNE

From this point on the fun begins with Larry getting acclimated with the younger students and his new teachers.  But the movie wouldn’t be more than a average Indie if it weren’t for Tom Hanks (the film’s writer, producer, director and actor).  As an actor Hanks makes his character inquisitive, energetic, positive and involving the things that make a person interesting. As a writer he invests in the deplorable situation of job loss in order to capture his audience before showing them that there is always a way out.

 

His directing skills are not all that bad either, moving his characters in and out of the story after showing their lighter side of life.  Here he really stands out however, keeping his story tight, not giving his recognizable actor’s too much rope to take over the action and not spending a lot of time with Larry’s difficulties thus avoiding a sappy film.

 

Julia Roberts makes a good teacher and even provides a few Erin Brockovich moments that show her characters bold ilk.  Although the chemistry between her and Hanks is lacking in part, Roberts still sells herself well on the screen.

Hanks here with Cedric the Entertainer and Taraji P. Henson

Hanks throws in some good character actors like Cedric the Entertainer (his garage sale diva next door), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (a hottie fellow student), Bryan Cranston (Robert’s character’s husband in a midlife crisis), Wilder Valderamma (a jealous scooter ‘gang’ member), and many more recognizable faces to help his film with a comical touch.

 

The film is good and enjoyable to watch and though it received a PG-13 rating for brief strong language and some sexual content (a sensual kiss) should not be too over the top for mature pre-teens.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: It’s a film the older crowd will probably appreciate most. (B)

 


TRANSFORMERS, WITLESS YET MIND-BLOWING

 

Prolonged sequences of Sci-fi action violence, mayhem and destruction and that’s what the MPAA thought of Transformers: Dark of the Moon.  It’s all that and more in this exciting alien robot adventure by action director Michael Bay.  If you are a gamer, a science fiction movie lover or just get your thrills from astounding CGI then Transformers: Dark of the Moon is your ticket to ride.

 

LeBeof and Whiteley in TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON

In this third sequel of the Transformers we find Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) entering the work world following his graduation from college.  High on life he has dropped his old flame Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) and has upped his game living with high stylish Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley).  Holding on to her however get tough for Sam with no job and he finds himself conflicted.  From here on out in the 154-minute film Sam’s conflict continues in the middle of a hellacious battle between Autobots and Decepticons vying for control of the Earth.

Chicago on fire

Michael Bay goes all out in Transformer’s 3 kicking it up several notches with a plethora of explosive scenes.  He also does a little tribute to his awesome Armageddon with a space shot that out does the Bruce Willis flight.  The buildings in Transformers 3 get toppled in ground zero Chicago much like New York in Cloverfield, but that’s a good thing here since the treacherous bots bring about some incredible devastation.

Sentinel Prime and Optimus Prime do battle

The last 30 minutes of the film and scattered skirmishes between the soldiers and the robotic nemeses are absolutely amazing.  This time you get to see the relentless destruction of Chicago by a mega force not seen in the previous three Transformer films.  That’s the fun of Transformers: Dark of the Moon and worth the nearly 2-hour wait.

 

There are many silly relationships played out in the film including Sam and his meddling parents, Carly unwittingly involved with the enemy, Sam confronting Mearing (Francess McDormand) the head of security with his hero medal, a jealous interaction between Carly’s boss Dylan (Patrick Dempsey) and Sam, and so on throughout the film.  These are just distractions that only interrupt the film from the real reason you purchased a ticket, the battling transformers.

 

The 3D here is quite good especially in scenes where Sam slides down buildings and Autobots fight the Decepticons.  And the sound gets incredible with bullets whizzing behind you and explosions all around. I can only imagine what this film would be like in IMAX 3D.

 

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is rated PG-13 for intense prolonged sequences of sci-fi action violence, mayhem and destruction, and for language, some sexuality and innuendo.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A witless story but an amazing display of sci-fi excitement. (C+)

 

 

THE WARRIOR’S WAY, A BUTT KICKER ON DVD

 

Much like the spaghetti westerns of old The Warrior’s Way becomes a duel to the death with the sword as the weapon of choice.  I missed this one at the movie theater but on DVD the excitement and suspense gets so good I didn’t pause the film for a potty break.  The cast, direction and choreography tops most samurai melodramas and really kicks butt.

 

The film tells the story of Yang (Jang Dong-gun) a swordsman who has been brought up by the finest martial arts teacher.  With his clan’s enemies knocking on his door, Yang kills all but one.  Fleeing to America with the child of one of his enemies and looking to hide out with an old friend, Yang ends up in a run down amusement town that has lost it’s will due to a dried up Gold Rush and frontier marauders.  He takes over his deceased friends laundry business and starts a new life.  When the Colonel (Danny Huston), leader of the marauders, decides to make a visit to the town Yang teams up with Ron (Geoffrey Rush) and a bunch of clowns to defend the people.

 

The movie reminded me of films like A Fist Full of Dollars, A Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly only with the magic of modern day computer graphics, green screen and special effects.  The music and costumes here are brilliant adding to the realism of the enjoyable western.

 

This little gem has a lot of violent action, but deep down inside the story I found heart and a will to survive.  The fine acting by the whole cast makes The Warrior’s Way work with direction by Sngmoo Lee who introduces his characters as each scene develops until I was rooting for the good fighting the bad and ugly.

 

Kate Bosworth gives a strong performance as the young woman who was almost raped by the Colonel and then has takes her revenge.  In a well-choreographed fight with the Colonel, Bosworth show skills beyond anything I have seen from her in the past. She’s important to the film and great fun to watch.  But the film acting kudos go to both Rush and Jang Dong-gun for some amazing work. You will see what I mean when the two have their backs to the wall and an army of 100 bearing down on them.

 

The Warrior’s Way also has a few good bonus features including 13 exciting deleted scenes and a short behind the scenes montage.  I reviewed the DVD format, but the film is also out on Blu-ray.  It is rated R for strong bloody violence so please be careful with the disc after you’ve viewed it especially if you have youngsters in your home.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  ‘A’ for Awesome (A)

 

[TV RECAP] The Five BEST and WORST Things About True Blood EP 4.01

 

Sunday, June 26th saw the premiere of the fourth season of our favorite bloody addiction, True Blood on HBO. In fact, if you have access to the cable network’s new enhanced viewing site HBO GO (not everyone does) then you got to see a two hour double episode premiere. However, since that’s not the case for everyone, we’re only going to cover what we saw during that first hour in our Recap and Review. Man was it worth seven month itch. Read on for more …

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SEASON OF THE WITCH, THRILLER ON DVD

 

An action adventure with a good story, Season of The Witch makes for some great Entertainment and it’s now on DVD.  I actually liked the film better on DVD than when it ran in theaters because I was able to stop and rewind during some very intense scenes.  If you like a good suspense/horror film then Season of the Witch set in the time of the Crusades should be at the top of your list.

 

The movie opens with some awesome scenes of the Great Crusades with battles lead by warriors Behmen (Nicholas Cage) and Felson (Ron Perlman) who fight for Christian freedom.  But as the war goes on and the two find themselves slaughtering innocent women and children they decide to desert their battalion.  Months later they pass through a city where they have executed several witches blamed for a plague and are arrested for desertion.  In the meantime one witch has returned from the dead and monks at a far off monastery must read a special passage over her in order to destroy her being. In return for their freedom Behmen and Felson accept the job of taking her to the monastery.

 

Dominic Sena (Swordfish, Gone in 60 Seconds) does a super job of directing Season of the Witch.  He makes his characters real and exciting, creates an action packed suspense thriller and intermixes some awesome special effects.  I liked the way he develops the character of the witch (played by Claire Foy) making her innocent, then cunning, then monstrous.

 

The movie features some exceptional performances by Cage and Perlman as the two heroes who have to put their lives on the line to save the plague worn world.  I like Cage and even though he has had a few clunkers, this is surly not one of them.  His fine ability to make his character fierce in battle, sympathetic to the witch, then strong in the face of horror shows admirably here.  In support Perlman puts on an amazing show as Behman’s sidekick fighting with a vengeance while protecting his friend.

 

The film has some very good special bonus features including 7 deleted scenes (that should have been left in the film), Becoming the Demon (excellent for filmmakers and film buffs who want a partial lesson on CGI) On a Crusade (shows clips from the beginning sequence) and an Alternate Ending (I actually liked both endings).

 

Season of the Witch is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, violence and disturbing content so you may want to watch the film first before allowing immature children to join you.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: This one goes right into my library for future viewing. (B)


Stream SBTRKT’s Debut Album Now on The Hype Machine

 

South London producer SBTRKT just landed on our radar courtesy The Hype Machine and it’s stream of his self-titled debut album, due out next week. Seems he’s been circling the blogosphere like a shark with a series of singles, EPs, and remixes making waves and such.  Hypem is now giving everyone of us the opportunity to listen to the album in it’s entirety on their site, and we must say, it is gobsmackingly good yo. Read on …

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CARS 2, Hilarious and Exciting

and John Delia, Jr.

Cars 2

If you like action, mystery, and adventure, Cars 2 is for you. This time Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and his best friend Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), step out of Radiator Springs into an exciting but hilarious international adventure that doesn’t leave anything out. Lightning McQueen is challenged to race in the first-time World Grand Prix, which takes place in the streets of Japan, Italy and London.  While McQueen is trying to prove his racing skills to the globe, Mater finds himself thrown into the world of international espionage. Explosions and action packed chase scenes ignites the audience in an exciting ride of action and fun. Their skill, intellect and friendship are put to the test in a wild ride that would even give James Bond a run for his money.

Larry the Cable Guy did an awesome job again with Mater. Adding his great comedic skill along with the adventure he is set into. Mater is his usual self and entertains you with fun and laughter, along with some mystery and suspense. As usual you will follow one of your favorite characters through a world of Cars and laugh your way through it.

 

Michael Caine (Finn McMissile) and Emily Mortimer (Holley Shiftwell) do a great job of adding to the spy game and get you thrilled throughout the entire ride. They bring you into the action and guide the audience as well as Mater on a thrilling ride of suspense and adventure. Both do an excellent job of making their characters believable to the audience and keep you on the edge of your seat.

 

Owen Wilson (Lightning McQueen) along with Tony Shalhoub (Luigi) and the rest of the Radiator Springs cast give the audience what they want and even more. They bring the new challenge that Lightning McQueen must now complete, the World Grand Prix. Taken place in three beautiful locations around the world, the racing team of Lightning McQueen gives their fans all they got with speed, challenges and excitement.

 

I really enjoyed the 3D effects and how they were used it throughout the movie. The action brought me right into the film and gave me the feeling that I was right there with them. Pixar Animation Studios along with the directors, John Lasseter and Brad Lewis continued their excellence, by bringing the world of “Cars” in a new light and go one step further with the addition of mystery and suspense to their tale. They are able to show the world through a different set of glasses and bring the audience into the action and give them a great time full of excitement.

Final Analysis: It is a grade “A” film and a must see for all audiences. I am sure your kids will not let you miss this one. (A)

TREE OF LIFE, A MOODY SAGA

Could one compare the Cosmos with a 1950’s conflicted family?  With Tree of Life director writer Terrence Malick tries to do just that.  Although he may succeed on an existential level, a general audience will just see a family in disparaging change that picks at the heart and soul of their relationships.  I am not a big fan of the film and found Tree of Life to be preachy and more of a meditation on my own life problems.

 

The movie opens with grown up Jack (Sean Penn) now a successful architect thinking back on his life.  It quickly moves into the 1950’s where we are introduced to his father, Mr. O’Brien (Brad Pitt) starting a family in a rural American town.  As time goes by O’Brien starts to spiral down from a life-changing problem taking his frustrations and deep seeded pain out on his children.  With only his wife (Jessica Chastain) as a barrier young Jack resists his father’s domination while trying to hold his place in the family.

Mr. O'Brien (Pitt) repremands his son while Mrs. O'Brien (Chastain) looks on

The acting is superb with Pitt as the high-strung domineering father and husband.  His emotional state changes in the film from loving to a man with a rattrap inside ready to spring shut with the drop of a foot.  He brings up his children with a strong hand never showing any real emotion beyond contempt and anger during his discipline.  Jessica Chastain as the children’s mother takes as much of the focus off the boys as she can in an attempt to ease the anger displayed by O’Brien.  Her ability to show weakness and yet protect her children is just one of Chastain’s acting strengths she brings to the film.

 

Many films come to mind involving domineering males but most recently Revolutionary Road where changing times and employment affect a couple trying to raise their two children.  In Tree of Life Terrence Malick goes another step further and shows the hostile situation between father and son that forces a distancing of their love and a scar that remains forever.

 

Using Sean Penn as older Jack really doesn’t make any sense. In fact it is quite distracting since it is such a small part.  It tends to make me believe that there must be a shortage of good acting in the acting pool.

 

As the film opens and intermittent throughout Malick interjects flashbacks to the beginning of time, dinosaurs, the universe, long underwater shots and lofty moody hypnotic music that seems to indicate the presence of God.  I’m not too sure that the entire splendor is needed in the film and tends to bring to mind 2001: A Space Odyssey a film that almost put me to sleep with the Blue Danube Waltz music.

 

Tree of Life is rated PG-13 for some thematic material, but in my opinion parents should be cautioned that verbal abuse is quite excessive in the film.

 

FINAL ANALYISIS:  A preachy film with a derivative story. (C+)


 

 

‘LOUIE’ SEASON 1, A HOOT NOW ON DVD

If you love stand-up comedians and situation comedy check out Louie Season 1 an FX production now on DVD/Blu-ray.  The down to earth divorced comic puts on a great show and each episode gets funnier as the series plays out.

 

Louie travels the comedy circuit and includes his life trials in his monologue.  After giving a few minutes parody on a smidgen of a funny incident that occurred we are treated to a sitcom involving the subject.  Some of the topics include after divorce dating, high school bullies, indecent proposals, a weird doctor visit, and many more subjects cleverly performed by the very funny man.

 

I find Louie to be hilarious and I am a big Seinfeld fan.  It’s like getting a whole new look at stand-up sitcom that was originally introduced by Jerry Seinfeld in 1985 but a lot more provocative.  Louis CK puts together some great stand-up comics with most of them performing prior to the sitcom including the very funny Nick DiPaolo.

 

Later episodes get even more provoking than Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm with subjects that deal with religion, politics and sex.  Episodes include a challenging argument on gay sex, a visit to the doctors office where Ricky Gervais happens to be the physician who does some very gross things to Louie, and a parody on Christ that’s over the top.  Louis CK hopefully leaves some stones unturned for his new season starting June 23 on FX.

 

Louis CK is not new to the film and televison scene in 2008, Louis was seen in Diminished Capacity with Matthew Broderick, Virginia Madsen and Alan Alda and Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins with Martin Lawrence, Mike Epps and Cedric the Entertainer.  He also starred in the film, The Invention of Lying, alongside Ricky Gervais and Jennifer Garner, and had a recurring role on the NBC series, Parks & Recreation, playing Pawnee police officer ‘Dave Sanderson,’ a love interest of Amy Poehler’s ‘Leslie Knope.’

 

In July 2010, Louis was nominated for an Emmy® Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Special for his second one-hour special, Louis C.K.: Chewed Up.  Louis has also starred in two HBO One Night Stand stand-up specials, a Comedy Central Presents special and HBO’s 25th Anniversary Young Comedians Special.

 

The 13 episodes show comes on in a 2-disc combo pack with Blu-ray on the front and DVD format on the back of each disc. The bonus features include deleted and extended scenes, audio commentary on selected episodes and more.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A very funny show for the extremely mature. (A)