Monday, June 30, 2014

Breakdown of the First Half of 2014 Podcast: Proving Some Years That Great Movies Arrive Before the Fall

2014 has been a pretty strong year for movies so far. But the one downside of living in a smaller city and being over an hour away from Toronto (and even farther from TIFF Lightbox) I wasn't able to catch a lot of the high quality independent pictures that arrived in cinemas this year. Despite that, I still caught some smaller movies but also there was a surprisingly strong selection of mainstream fare. This week on the podcast, Scott and I both list our top five pictures of the year, also hand out some awards, and then look ahead to what is worth getting excited for in the second half of the year.

Podcast Outline: 

1:03  Most Memorable Cameo
5:50  Best Scene 
10:57 Biggest Delightful Surprise
18:47 Stand-out Leading Performance
32:06 Best Underrated/Little Known Picture
43:10 Most Disappointing/Worst Picture
50:27 Top Five Pictures of the First Half of the Year
1:20:42 Most Anticipated Pictures

Correction: When talking about Boyhood, I mention Robin Wright when she isn't even in the movie. I should have mentioned and would have mentioned if not for the embarrassing brainfart that Patricia Arquette plays the mother.  While I have you here, Ellar Coltrane stars as the boy whose name is Mason.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

This Isn't the "Into the Woods" You're Looking For, But Enjoy It Anyway

One of the motion pictures I've been most anticipating this year is the Christmas release of the popular Broadway musical, Into the Woods. Or at least, I was until it was reported last weeks that some major alterations have been made. After some reflection, I've realized that change can sometimes be good, and even though I'm no longer as excited about the picture, it still has a chance to be great. In this week's Collective Publishing article, I look at several great pictures that haven't been loyal to their source material and explain why it is okay Into the Woods may not be faithful to the stage musical.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Breakdown of 'Jersey Boys' Podcast: We Decide Against Singing the Entire Show

Scott and I review four pictures this week including the Clint Eastwood directed musical, Jersey Boys. We also look at a documentary from last year, a critically acclaimed graphic novel adaption almost everyone ignored, and a cult classic from the 1980s. On top of that, we also analyze how the blockbuster season had panned out this summer so far.

Podcast Outline:

00:42  Jersey Boys review
14:40  We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks review
29:11  Scott Pilgrim vs. the World review
42:50  Blue Velvet review
55:00  Analyzing 2014 Summer Blockbuster Season
1:10:28 Review Rundown

'Halt and Catch Fire' Ep. 4 Review: Donna is In Charge

Halt and Catch Fire so far doesn't have the most complex and intricate characters. The drama this week has helped push some out of their archetypes. Donna is definitely becoming the most compelling. I analyze why in latest review for BuddyTV.

Friday, June 20, 2014

'Gotham' Villain Trailer: All the Brooding with None of the Bat

Gotham is one of the most anticipated new series for the Fall TV Season. FOX is really hoping it causes the comic book fans to come out in droves. But do people really want to see a show set in the Batman world without Batman? I offer up my thoughts on the latest trailer over at BuddyTV.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Future of Female Roles in Blockbusters Given Some Hope by 'How to Train Your Dragon 2'

It feels like Hollywood completely forgets about an entire gender when making major studio tentpoles. Or at least, forgets to make them feel like real and critical characters to the movies. Women characters are almost always either the object to be fought for, the arm-candy to be kissed after a long battle, or the loyal housewife waiting at home for the hero to return. There are exceptions, but it mostly feels like big budget pictures don't have a place for real and authentic female characters. This summer there has been a glimmer of hope. The picture that has provided the most is the animated family feature, How to Train Your Dragon 2. I analyze the strong female characters from the picture in my latest Collective Publishing article.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Breakdown of '22 Jump Street' and 'How to Train a Dragon 2': A Good Case of Sequelitis

Scott and I review five pictures this week that include two hot sequels in the animated fantasy adventure, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and the buddy cop action comedy, 22 Jump Street. We also have some movies that we absolutely gush over and really want you to check out. But also for those that think we always agree on pictures, we have a major disagreement this week that will be up for you to decide who is right (psst. . . it is me).

Breakdown Outline:

00:46  22 Jump Street review
13:48  Chef review
30:15  How to Train a Dragon 2 review
44:02  Dead Man Down review
56:16  Frances Ha review
1:06:12 Review rundown

'Halt & Catch Fire" Ep. 3 Review: Dead as a Bird

Halt & Catch Fire has been working hard to make the three genius protagonists into underdogs again after they outsmarted IBM in the series premiere. The latest episode has done that by giving them some challenges that they may not be able to overcome as they try to design the first ever laptop. I discuss how successful the show was with its characters in my latest review for BuddyTV.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The 'Fargo" Series Hitting What Hollywood is Often Missing

Many movie critics will lament the passing of subversive, challenging, and complicated cinema that was prevalent in the 1970s. I don't think things are as bad as they got in the 1980s and early 1990s, but it is safe to say most mainstream pictures have a formula they like to follow. The cable TV landscape is now where the through-provoking dramas take place, and one of the very best is FX's Fargo. I look at what Hollywood can learn from the series in my latest Collective Publishing pop culture column.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Breakdown of 'Edge of Tomorrow' and 'The Fault in Our Stars' Podcast: Some Things are Worth Dying For Over and Over Again

Scott and I review five pictures this week that include news releases in Tom Cruise's latest sci-fi actioner, Edge of Tomorrow and Shailene Woodley's teenage romance, The Fault in Our Stars. We have lots of pictures to recommend this week and maybe will even introduce you to some intriguing pictures you've never heard about.

Breakdown Outline:

00:47  Edge of Tomorrow review
18:43  The Fault in Our Stars review
30:55  God Loves Uganda review
44:12  The Grand Seduction review
52:32  84 Charlie MoPic review
1:02:42 Rundown of Reviews

Saturday, June 07, 2014

6 Years. . .

It was six years ago on this date and this day of the week where I said the words "I Do." Without a doubt, the two most important words of life that have led to my biggest moments. But the reality is that any schmuck can blurt out those two words and agree to committing their life to someone, because as a human race, we're not always the best at thinking through the consequences. I think as the years go by and the wedding date become more distant, one tends to start elevating that day a bit more and putting more weight into it, because while it is the very important start to the most important relationship, its only value is essentially nostalgia and possible fondly remembering when one was thinner (and had more hair).

"I Do" are just words. Words that are your declaration to those in attendance that you are committing your life to the person you were staring at that moment (unless out of nervousness you were staring at your shoe or your great aunt Hilda). It is the work you do after that really matters. It is the daily reaffirmation that those two words actually had some meaning and not just something one said because it felt like the right thing.

There is no denying marriage is work. Love isn't some magical elixir that drives your through every day and makes it all gum drops and unicorns. Because sometimes that unicorn rams his horn in the most uncomfortable of places. Love exists. I really believe that. It is the feeling and drive that makes you push through to do the work that makes a marriage flourish.

Marriage isn't just work, but it is hard work. Maybe even gruelling and uncomfortable sometimes. It would be a lot easier to just get a single apartment and share it with a pet hamster (because if work isn't your thing then don't get a dog either -- besides, people seem to get less upset about a dead hamster). Marriage may be one of the toughest things a person will have to do in their life, because in the ideal, it never ends after you sign the papers.

But here is the thing about hard, gruelling, tough, and sometimes uncomfortable work, it isn't bad. Sometimes work that makes you strain and rise way above your comfort zone can be magnificent, rewarding, fulfilling, and amazing. Let me clarify right now that being married to Emily is most definitely magnificent, rewarding, fulfilling, and amazing.

It is just that where we are now and where we hopefully will be in 6 years has less to do with those two words and more about the work we're willing to put into our marriage. Work that intensifies when you decide to throw that lovely child into the mix. The work also creates the passion and reminds you why you said those words way back. The work is what makes the marriage real.

Work is saying, "I love you" when you don't totally believe it at the moment. Work is cleaning the house when you don't think it is dirty. Work is intricately planning a special weekend for your spouse when you'd rather catch-up on your House of Cards binging. Work is not buying the new toy so that you can afford that special weekend. Work is asking your spouse about her day and actually caring and listening. Work is telling the person how you actually feel, even when those feelings scare you. Work is the cogs of marriage.

Anything that can be considered a treasure and of priceless value demands one put forward dedication, focus, and here is that word again, work. If it really matters and if you're doing it right, not only is the end game rewarding but the actual work can be pretty spectacular too.

My marriage with Emily has resulted in almost everything that currently matters to me. Emily has taken sacrifices and kicked my ass so that I have something that resembles a writing career. As that career grows, I know she will continue to support (i.e. the ass kicking) my writing endeavors. I have a dog that I love and has been an incredible source of emotional support because Emily pushed that we had a dog (I was ambivalent at the time). Anyone who knows me, is well aware I'm a gushing father and that I love Everett dearly, and I can't imagine my life without him, and well, Emily is pretty responsible for that too. While I wouldn't necessarily call my house one of the most important things ever, I really dig living in a large home that feels like it is in cottage country and Emily deserves most of the credit for that too.

She is far more than my motivator and the one who gave me whole lots of amazing things. She is my wife. This means she is my best friend. My inspiration. My muse. In order to make sure she remains the most important person in my life and in order for her to be willing to be that person, I have to work hard to keep the passion, energy, and love going strong.

But our marriage is worth more than I could ever truly explain in words. I hope my work for the next several decades proves that.

I love you, Emily.   

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Hollywood Loves Those Remakes: Was the World Clamouring for Another 'Cliffhanger'?

In Hollywood's eternal search for the franchise, remakes of relatively popular but largely forgotten movies from the '80s and'90s have become one of the hottest trends. It will be bringing us movies like Cliffhanger and Stargate, and I'm sure someone who just got freed from a 20 year old time capsule is excited about that news. For everyone else? Well, just go read my latest Collective Publishing article for my own thoughts on this latest studio strategy.

Monday, June 02, 2014

'Halt and Catch Fire' Premiere Review: Can't Beat That 1980s Feeling

I have a soft spot for period piece pictures and series. I even admit that some are just aesthetic rather than a necessary part of the story. 'Halt and Catch Fire' justifies its setting by being a fictional insider's look at the 1983 home computer boom. I have my review up at BuddyTV.

Breakdown of Maleficent Podcast: Wronged Women and How They Roar

Or fly. Or weave spells. Or wield a bat. Or start a cult. Or get really drunk. Or various other ways that women deal with serious and traumatic issues. Or in the case of all the actors who are playing these women, put together some incredible performances that are worth checking out. It is a podcast loaded with movies worthy of some in-depth discussion and that is exactly what Scott and I serve up.

Breakdown Outline:

00:53  Maleficent review
19:52  Short Term 12 review
35:15  A Single Man review
44:01  Sound of My Voice
52:27  Will the rise of cable dramas replace wide-release character driven pictures?
1:07:20 Rundown of Reviews