Sci Fi Noise: Godzilla Parking Lot Review

Host Derek Coward gives his first impressions after seeing the newest Godzilla movie.

PLP – Episode 60 – Murder Mysteries Part 1

imageIn this episode we begin our new theme which is going to be a bit more fun than the previous one. We begin looking at Murder Mysteries with a discussion on the films: Murder on the Orient Express and Tell No One. We begin with a look at the classic Agatha Christie story directed by Sidney Lumet and starring a whole host of tremendous actors. We dig into our main character, how the premise is something that thrills us both as writers and what we thought of the end which was a little bit of a surprise to one of us. We then move into 2006 with a discussion on the French film Tell No One. We discuss our main character Alexander or as we call him, French Dustin Hoffman. We run through the plot in an attempt to make sense of it all as this one has quite a few twists and turns but is definitely a high quality film. It’s a fun discussion as we’re back to talking about some films that we actually enjoyed. Join us won’t you?

Music:
U2 – With or Without You

Facebook:
Eric Williams, Rachel Szelag, Plain Label Podcast

Twitter:
@EricWilliams79, @LadySzelag, @PlainLabelPod

http://plainlabelpodcast.tumblr.com
http://www.movienoise.com/plainlabel/podcasts/PlainLabelPodcast060.mp3

Kent’s Damed Movie Reviews: Neighbors

OK, I usually use quad posters anyway for these, but how could I not use the British version? They spell it with a U!

OK, I usually use quad posters anyway for these, but how could I not use the British version? They spell it with a U!

Over the last several years, it seems like every summer there is one break-out R-rated comedy. The Hangover, Bridesmaids, 40-Year-Old Virgin, American Pie, Ted… it may come early or it may come late, but there is almost always one. I would not be surprised if this year that hit was Neighbors.

This is not to say that Neighbors is as good as all of those aforementioned movies or even that it is as good as last year’s This is the End which involved some of the same people. However where that film required a lot of audience participation to get the most out of it, Neighbors should appeal to a very wide audience as it has an uncanny knack of reaching out to several types of people and it should largely please them all. It manages to be the kind of college frat comedy which has been cranked out since Animal House while also pulling in the audience which Judd Apatow found and exploited so well. Many post-college adults from their mid-20s to late-30s will identify with the new family headed by Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, who are coming to grips with the fact that they simply aren’t cool anymore (if they ever were in the first place.)

I had someone express doubts to me about seeing the film, thinking it was somehow a family movie. Rest assured, it is filthy. Zac Efron was already trying to distance himself from his Disney roots, though many of those efforts seemed from the outside to largely keep his persona intact and looked like a very slow, measured campaign. This will napalm that bridge. The fact that Orgazmo received an NC-17 rating and this movie didn’t is one more argument in my never-ending diatribe about the worthlessness of the MPAA’s ratings system.

The plot is actually decently structured and involves a couple newly adjusting to parenthood after putting all their money into a house. They obviously miss their old lives full of partying with their friends when they were perpetually exhausted for different reasons. Still, they seem mostly happy and are putting stock in the classic American dream, as it were. House, car, one-income household, kid…

Then the house next door is taken over by the kind of hard-partying, scheming, cliche frat that seems to exist only in movies, Suddenly their world is, to quote sitcom pitches that were old when Shakespeare was in diapers, turned upside down. While initial steps are taken to preserve the peace, eventually things erupt into all-out war between the parents and the frat, driven by its single-minded president played by Effron.

Nobody at all seeing this movie will think Rogen is breaking new ground. It feels like an extension of his character from Knocked-Up and, frankly, is that such a bad thing? He’s like that ratty hoodie that you don’t throw out because you know exactly what to expect from it. Byrne may surprise people a little bit with how much she throws herself into her role given there are some big ‘gross-out’ gags in the film and she’s involved with many of them. But after Bridesmaids it doesn’t seem like that big of a leap. Still, she really puts herself into the thick of it and keeps up with Rogen 100%. The big surprise is Efron. Is he funny? Not so much. But, and this is a big but, he shows an ability to let the other performers bounce off of him while not seeming completely like a straight man. The real head-turner is how dark he gets at times, dropping his bro mask and showing a person who has a simmering anger underneath.

It’s the dynamic between he and Rogen that really hits home as they are both in different stages of arrested development. Rogen has a desire to still be what he was when he was Efron’s age. He doesn’t want to be the guy that narcs, despite his responsibilities. While the movie takes pains to offer a decently balanced portrait, never showing either side to clearly be the ‘heroes’ of the piece, we’re obviously meant to side with the parents. The script cleverly uses an incident involving the baby to move things over to their side for good, despite the fact that they end up going too far themselves. War is hell, after all. Efron, meanwhile, is trying to make his mark and be enshrined forever in the trophy case of the fraternity. This is his attempt at immortality, knowing that there simply isn’t anything waiting for him once he finishes school and he becomes increasingly desperate and malicious with anything that stands in the way of him becoming a legend to be passed down in the annals of his brotherhood.

Another good aspect about Efron’s performance is that despite being provided a solid psychological motivation to make him more sympathetic, he never plays it up too much. He allows other members like Dave Franco and Christopher Mintz-Plasse to take some of that weight. Emphasis on ‘member.’ Franco seems to be channeling his brother at times with how weird his character can get, but I may just feel that way because I associate Franco the Elder with male genitalia so much at this point and there there is more of that in Neighbors than most comedies, even R-rated ones. Many of those jokes involve Mintz-Plasse who has very little to actually do and might have just shown up because he likes working with these guys.

The film provides several laugh-out loud moments and the fleeting bits of physical comedy serve as highlights. For some reason I think the editing feels off to me though. Quick pacing is demanded of most comedies, but sometimes things feel too breakneck for this kind of film with scenes jumping from one to the other fast enough to cause whiplash. In something like Naked Gun this is not a problem, but when a film is trying to establish an emotional connection like this one is, there may need to be a little more room to breath? I’m not an expert and maybe it will play better at home, but it was an initial impression. It could boil down to having a hard time establishing the passage of time. I am assuming it takes place over several months, but it feels like the whole thing may have happened in a week.

I would have a hard time saying Neighbors is a must-see comedy, but it is satisfying, funny and seriously messed up in spots. I think it will have a lot of rewatchability to it and you may as well see it before you hear about all the jokes from the people at work.

(Three and a half damns given out of five)

Aisle of the Damned: Episode XXII- Gary Shandling is Evil

Aisle of the Damned: Episode 22- Gary Shandling is Evil!

Greetings, movie fiends! In our first new episode of the year (the first of many, we promise), Bryan and Kent take a look at a Marvel 2-fer: The Amazing Spider Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Let us take you by the hand, dear listener, as we discuss the finer points of Cap vs. Man of Steel, the future of Chris Evans in the Marvel U., childrens’ movie adaptations in book form and the worst scenes in Spider-Man movie history. Not necessarily in that order.

SoGood

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music:

The Aquabats- Stuck in a Movie

DVDA- America, F*** Yeah!

Better Living Through Filmography Episode 1.1: Robocop

Robocop

A new feature for Aisle of the Damned! In Better Living Through Filmography, co-host Kent takes a look at classic films he is watching for the first time and looks at them through a lens of movies, pop culture and life.

In the first episode he views the 1987 movie RoboCop and discusses how his upbringing lead directly to him having not seen it before now in the essay, “RoboCopping a Feel.” (Sorry the audio quality is not the best. I’m new at this. It will get better.)

Episode 1: Joey Clift

ON THE MAN!

On the premiere episode of Comics on the Matt, I’m joined by writer and comic Joseph Clift. Joey and I discuss what got us into wrestling, if we were WWE(F) or WCW guys growing up, and what did we think of the recent Wrestlemania XXX. Joey also cracks open my brain by comparing a wrestling match to a comedy sketch and how

one builds and heightens. And then discuss Mr. T’s Hall of Fame speech. Listen and enjoy!

Links for Joey:

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Website here

Writing: 4th Wednesday of the Month for house team Tut: here

Improv and Sketch: Where Eagles Dare! here

If you’re a comedian/comicbook person/just into wrestling, let me hear from ya! Twitter.com/jurassicalien.

Ring Psychology sketch: Here

PLP – Pod Shots – Vanilla Sky

imageIn this episode, I’m joined by first time guest, the lovely, talented, and beautiful Ms. Anelle Strauss! In Anelle’s first episode we discuss the 2001 Cameron Crowe film, Vanilla Sky. Starring Tom Cruise, we discuss the film based on Abre los Ojos. We start out with a plot based discussion before moving into a “what’s real” “what does it all mean” type of analysis. We discuss the actors and how we feel they did in their assigned roles and if they were miscast or not. This is a film I’ve been wanting to review for a while, and I’m pleased Anelle was here with me to discuss it. It was a blast having Anelle on and you can expect to hear a lot more from her. Check it out!

Music:
Leftfield feat. Afrika Bambaataa – Afrika Shox

Facebook:
Eric Williams, Anelle Strauss, Plain Label Podcast

Twitter:
@EricWilliams79, @PlainLabelPod

http://plainlabelpodcast.tumblr.com
http://www.movienoise.com/plainlabel/podcasts/PodShots048.mp3

Kent’s Damned Movie Reviews: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

ASM2

I’m sure this will be a common refrain in the reviews of Amazing Spider-Man 2, but this is a film with a severe bought of multiple personality disorder. The parts that are good are absolutely splendid. It reaches higher highs than the previous film. But it also has lower lows and where they go wrong, they go full-steam ahead into the muck. Like the previous installment, it is a film that echoes the worst parts of Marvel’s franchise-building in Iron Man 2 and magnifies them. What makes this so frustrating, so absolutely maddening, is that the makings of a good Spider-Man movie are here and they are so close that you can touch them.

I really want to like this movie and there are parts of it that I adore, but it is so schizophrenic that it feels like three different movies at once. Seeing it in a double feature with Captain America: The Winter Soldier playing second only magnified the issues with the film, showing how these types of films can be done right (while understanding that Spidey and Cap are two completely different characters.) The point is that In its fervor to create a “Spider-Man Universe” that it can milk year after year (they’ve announced a plan to toss out a movie annually featuring characters like the Sinister Six and Venom), Sony has tried to shortcut the Marvel plan that slowly, over many years, brought them to being the biggest movie franchise in history. It’s easy to see why other companies want to emulate them. But Sony and DC seem to have missed the point of how well planned and executed those films are and how long it took to do it right.

So let’s get down to what the best parts of the film are. The things that director Marc Webb does right deserve a high level of praise and I want to give him his due for what works. I don’t intend to simply drop a deuce on his front door and leave. There’s too much to like here for that.

First off, Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield feel as if they were made for their parts and dropped into Webb’s lap from on high with a choir of angels singing “Is he strong? Listen bud, he’s got radioactive blood.” Their chemistry is off the charts and it leads to a welcome expansion of the seeds that made the first film work on the level it did. (I’ve softened on the first film in subsequent viewings, but I would not say my rating has changed.) Stone especially is such a welcome presence that I would say she seems wasted here if they weren’t relying so heavily on her. Her Gwen Stacy is, overall for the complete arc of the film, the best written and best performed character in this franchise. She was already in an ascendency in Hollywood, mostly from her comedy work, and it’s easy to see why. She has an easy charm, a disarming intelligence and she looks fantastic. Hopefully this will lead to bigger and better things for her.

Andrew Garfield does a great job portraying the wise-cracking side of Spider-Man and displays his everyman qualities very well considering he’s a muscled teen heartthrob. He had a few of those moments in the original movie and this is yet another example of the film improving on what came before by giving him more to do as Spider-Man. Taking advantage of not being hampered by an origin story, Garfield seems to be more free to be playful when he’s out doing the hero-thing. I’m not sure how much is him and how much is a stuntman/CGI at any given time (though it does look like there is a LOT of computerized Spidey in the action sequences) but he simply looks like he’s having fun for a lot of the run time. And when things get really serious he makes a subtle but appropriate mood shift. Man do I wish I could plug these actors into the Raimi series. I may not dislike Tobey Maguire, but his Parker feels all wrong compared to Garfield’s.

To go along with that playful attitude, we are given action sequences that simply feel a lot more… well, Spider-Man-like. His opening gambit chasing a hijacked semi-truck is so much fun that one wishes it could stretch across the entire film. The way he involves every day New Yorkers and his environment into his battles feels much more organic than in the first film where things like the construction crane sequence made me groan audibly and with force. The film looks much more confident to be itself with Peter’s brighter template and not confine itself as being so dour, emulating Nolan to a degree. And not only are the action sequences filmed better, but they are written better. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t laugh out loud several times over Peter’s quippy banter that feels lifted directly from one of the better comics. Not every joke lands and sometimes it feels like they’re trying too hard, but then so does Spidey in general sometimes, so it makes complete sense.

Now on to what unfortunately doesn’t work. I’ve got two words for you: Jamie Foxx. I’ve praised Foxx in the past after his work in Django Unchained. Of course I have seen him around since his In Living Color days. But his version of Electro is just completely off in it’s own little suborbital space station. His origin and character arc (or lack thereof) feel like they’re lifted whole cloth from one of the Batman films. Everything about the character reeks of 90s camp. From the bizarre combover to the obvious mental illness played for comedic effect to the sudden and inexplicable character changes that don’t constitute an arc so much as a schism. (As part of his plot, there’s also a male version of a female character from the comics named Dr. Kafka who is played as such a broad German mad doctor caricature that he reminded me of Mel Brooks in The Muppet Movie.)  It is all straight out of Batman Forever. The real problem with that is simply the fact that this movie isn’t Batman Forever and it doesn’t fit at all. I am not sure who’s fault it is that he was portrayed this way. Foxx has a tendency to be big and brash so it’s certainly conceivable that he could have insisted on hamming things up, but in the end Webb is responsible for getting him to have a tone that matches the rest of the film.

In the meantime, you have Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn. His performance is adequate but all over the place, starting out strong but degrading into hysterics. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that he ends up as Green Goblin. The advertising materials have made that quite clear. He is the most troublesome part of the film, not so much because they skip over Norman Osbourne’s tenure as the Goblin or how he turns himself into him (though those are part of a larger problem I’ll address in a second), but because the transformation feels so shoehorned into the film. It feels like Sony’s forced use of Venom all over again. You can practically hear the gears smoking in the writers’ heads trying to force certain elements into the story with a mallet simply to meet an expected plot-point and set up Sony’s required spin-offs. Like they’d done an Electro story and then were told they had to find a way to include Gobby. The reasons for Harry’s motivation are so undercooked that if you stuck a toothpick in there, there would be more batter than cake. It feels so much like Venom in Spider-Man 3 that you can practically hear Topher Grace.

(I’ll give it points for how it handles Rhino but it is difficult to explain that without going into spoiler territory.)

It’s good that Electro was used, even if I feel he was wasted. The use of The Lizard in the first film, for all I disliked about the story surrounding him, was one of the highlights. I’m glad they’re not trying to tell the exact same story the exact same way it was done in the Raimi films. But it feels like in their drive to distance themselves from that series (which, keep in mind, includes an installment which many people feel to be the best superhero film ever made) they are changing things for no other reason BUT to distance themselves and aren’t thinking things through long term. What is the big hurry when they’ve already committed themselves to being in the Spider-Man business for the foreseeable future? It’s not the change itself that’s the problem. At issue is the fact that these changes don’t make any logical sense and actually are imposing unnecessary restrictions on the films that they may not recover from and/or are wasting opportunities. Why in God’s name is this series so obsessed with tying every single thing that happens to Oscorp? I mean, we get it. Evil corporations are evil, blah blah blah. But the backstory involving Peter’s parents, which eats up a good portion of the film, has the same effect on Spider-Man as Burton’s grafting of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey had on Alice in Wonderland. It misses the point entirely. Spider-Man is just some random guy that was in the wrong place at the right time. Building a complicated mythology in which everything from Peter’s powers to his family history to every villain he fights being involved in some huge conspiracy with Oscorp is extraordinarily limiting. Its effect on these films isn’t just stretching credibility (even for comic book logic) but making things repetitious for a character renowned for having a bench of well-defined and diverse bad guys that lags behind only Batman and maybe The Flash.

The way this film is put together makes me feel like it is far more concerned with seeding future entries than what’s going on right now. It’s the same issues that people had with Iron Man 2 and the way so much of it was given over to SHIELD, except that movie was simply better made. (Rourke and Rockwell are better actors and Favreau knew when to pull them back, for one thing.)

I don’t like saying these things. I want a good Spider-Man movie. There’s still a chance of getting a good one out of this crew. But something has to change, be it the writers or the brass at Sony because right now they’re too focused on churning out mediocre films with moments of brilliance. Amazing Spider-Man 2′s best moments are head and shoulders above the first film, but it’s problems are greater and make it a step-down overall. I still highly recommend it to people that enjoyed the first film because you’re going to get something out of it, but it’s far from what it could be.

(Two and a half damns given out of five)

Filmographies: Sam Peckinpah Episode 5.

On the final episode of Sam Peckinpah, we discuss his last two films. 1978′s Convoy and 1983′s The Osterman Weekend. We then rank the films and announce our next director! Enjoy!Finalpeck

Episode 76 – Cap Cap Captain America!

 

Hey Y’all… We’re back with another high flying episode!  (that’s clever writing there)… Jared and Christian went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  And boy do we have some interesting things to say.  Did Christian love it?  Did Jared hate it?  You’ll have to listen to find out!!  Also, which actors do you think would be good in a super hero movie, and which actors would it be weird to see in a super hero movie?

You are listening to an archive episode of The Cinematic Misfits Podcast, originally titled The Cine-rama Podcast.