Archive for the ‘KT Personal’ Category

KT: Fright Night

Posted: August 22, 2011 in In Theatres, KT Personal, Reviews

I’m not a big fan of horror movies, per se, but JC is, so we went to see “Fright Night” on Sunday morning. I haven’t seen the original, so I can’t do any comparisons. I’m sure JC will.
I thought it was pretty good. Nothing that made my jaw drop, but overall, a fun movie.

Colin Farrell plays a great vampire – why he hasn’t before this outing, I don’t know. But he should! He’s got this great swagger about him and plays that sexy devil of the night just the way you want out of a vampire.

Anton Yelkin – I have really liked this dude ever since I saw “House of D” and “Alpha Dog” a few years back. I think he’s a real force to be reckoned with.

Imogen Poots – what a crazy name for this young actress. She reminded me of a young Sharon Stone. I expect to see a lot out of Miss Poots in the future.

David Tennant – I think this was a good transitional role (for American audiences, at least) from my favorite portrayal of The Doctor. David does a good job playing an ego-maniacal Criss-Angel-type with an actual heart underneath all the makeup and fake tattoos. It was good to see him again – the last time was live and in person in London where he’s playing Benedick in “Much Ado about Nothing.”

Christopher Mintz-Plasse – at some point he’s going to have to grow as an actor and play something other than McLovin. Still funny, but it’s starting to get old.

Toni Collette – she plays a great mom but I think she was way underutilized in this movie.

Two things that bothered me about this movie is (1) the way it was lit. I understand it’s a horror movie and it’s supposed to be dark, but man, this movie is DARK. Foggy, black, hazy, shadowy, hard to see. I get that it’s supposed to set a mood, but I thought it was a little overboard with the dark filters. It’ll be difficult to watch this movie with any lights on when it comes out on DVD. And (2) the special effects at the end of the film. We saw it in 2D, so I’m sure it was different in 3D, but the reveal at the very end left a really sour taste in my mouth.

If you want to see a fun, somewhat scary movie, give “Fright Night” a try.

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This is the movie I’ve been waiting for. Yes, HP&tDHpt2 was fantastic and provided great closure to the franchise, but this! This is a summer movie that I may just go see again in the theatre.

Saturday morning at 10am, (prime opening weekend viewing time for JC and I), we went to see “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” along with a packed-theatre full of rabid movie fans. The theatre was comprised of a great mix of people, mostly skewing older, but the younger crowd had a fair showing too.

After the 75 coming soon trailers, (including Steven Soderbergh’s “Contagion” – I’m excited for this one), the movie began. I was immediately sucked in. What I loved about this movie was the story! Yes, the special effects are fantastic and unmatched, but that’s not all the film has going for it. (See “Cowboys & Aliens”.)

James Franco has really shown himself to be a versatile little actor. I really like him in this role as super-genius scientist, Will. He plays a grieving son infused with a brilliant scientist who wants to make a difference in the Alzheimer’s community and is completely believable at every turn. The hidden gem of this film is John Lithgow, who plays Will’s papa in such a heart-achingly real performance that you want to rush out and give your own dad a hug after seeing him.

Brian Cox and Tom Felton (trying, in vain, to shake the Draco Malfoy off of him) play a sadistic father and son duo at a primate shelter – they embody everything that the apes would hate/fear in the human race, and they do it with such reckless abandon that it’s almost hard to watch.

Even the secondary characters, played by Tyler Labine (you may remember him from my favorite role in Zach & Miri – “Huck it, chuck it, football!”), David Oyelowo, and Freida Pinto bring something to the table and are not just ancillary people that you would care less about — they too are just as important as the Apes rise.

Director Rupert Wyatt shows that he is also on the Rise — this is a director I think we will see more from in the years to come. He shows that he can compete with the best of them and did a fantastic job setting the mood in this film. It would have been very easy to let the special effects run this film and people would have paid money to see a bunch of monkeys on the loose with nothing else going for it. Along with writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, Wyatt creates a world, not unlike our own, with rich characters that we care for and can personalize into our own lives.

So that’s it. Great movie.
What! Oh wait, I forgot about one teeny-tiny, really minute detail. Andy-freakin-Serkis. I am absolutely and completely BANANAS for Andy Serkis. He is the embodiment of expressivity and really gives life to head-Ape, Caesar.

Here’s the thing about the Apes. Not once did I ever think I was watching anything but Apes when watching this film. The effects are amazing, completely unmatched and hyper-real. While the trailer may creep people out, once you see Caesar for the first time drinking from a bottle, you will fall in love with this character.

One last point: this movie does more with the character development with the Apes than most movies do with people. Again, the filmmakers could have really just relied on bad-ass action sequences and crazy Ape-debauchery, but does not take the easy way out. Your heart breaks and aches for these Apes when they are mistreated for others’ amusement. With simple hand gestures and far-away looks to freedom, the Apes will touch on the most human parts of your soul.

There’s a great little addition after the credits begin too…so hang around for it! It made me go squeeeeeee!

Opening this week, August 5, 2011:

Rise of the Planet of the Apes – I don’t know much of the lore of the Planet of the Apes franchise. I’ve never seen any of the originals, therefore I found the re-boot a few years back with Mark Wahlberg bearable. Looks like they are re-booting it again, from the beginnings of the Apes rise to power.

This movie looks intriguing – definitely a summer popcorn flick. With a cast with the likes of James Franco, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton (fresh off the last Harry Potter, and trying to reinvent himself as someone other than Draco Malfoy), and the always fantastic CGI-stuntman/actor, Andy Serkis, I feel like the chops are definitely there.From what I’ve gathered, this movie is going to be intensely fun, with moments of heart-wrenching emotion and some pretty great action sequences. I’m looking forward to seeing this one this weekend.

The Change-Up – Seems as if Hollywood will always go back to the proverbial drawing board and rehash the old-switcheroo movies from the 80’s, usually involving a father and son (I always preferred the one with Fred Savage and Judge Reinhold). This time, we see long-time friends Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds switching bodies and lives. Is there really anything to say about this film? I will say this: every time I see the trailer, I keep switching out Reynolds for Dane Cook. Don’t know why.  Definitely a rental.

And for those with tastes a little more independent:

The Whistleblower – This one definitely looks like an Oscar contender for Best Actress. In this based on true events film, Rachel Weisz stars as an American police officer who takes a job in Bosnia as a post-war peacekeeper. This film looks pretty intense and rather cerebral and has an R-rating for, among other things, a “brutal sexual assault.” Be warned readers – this gem of a movie may be hard to watch. Rounding out the cast is Vanessa Redgrave, David Strathairn and Monica Bellucci.

Wow, I must be fired up about this movie to have rushed home so I can write this review. DISCLAIMER: Please, these are my opinions. As JC often says on the podcast, I’m right and so are you. Please don’t allow my review to cancel anyone’s plans of seeing this movie. Mr. Favreau spent undoubtedly a ton of money making this movie and needs to see at least a little return on investment. Also, JC will be posting his review in the next few days. I’m sure these reviews will give our readers just a glimpse into how differently we can see things sometimes.

There will be some spoilers — so, if you’re planning on seeing this film, read this review afterwards. Thank you!
OK, onto the flick.

I’d like to preface this by saying that when I first heard about this film, I was intrigued. Of course, I’m a big fan of Jon Favreau, ever since Swingers. I’ve enjoyed getting to know him as a director, as I am a big fan of Elf and Iron Man. I follow Jon on twitter and enjoyed reading his posts about filming and editing “Cowboys & Aliens” over the last twoish years. But, I would say over the last month or so, as advertising and marketing has ramped up for this film, and especially with Comic-Con last week and all the interviews, and the screening he had last week… I don’t know, my view started to change. I started to get annoyed with all the press. Perhaps this is because we are just coming off the Indy Film Fest, where we saw some fantastic films that people have poured their heart and soul into, and they will never ever get the kind of exposure that a big movie like this will receive.

Don’t get me wrong – I love me some big blockbusters. Anything Spielberg or Lucas – Abrams – even Bay from time to time (shush, you like him too) will get my movie-going money, especially at the theatre. Those types of movies just beg for big screen viewing. So I’m not saying that I’m only going to watch Independent film from now on – not at all.

There was just something about this movie that I did not like. JC wrote (something to the effect of) in his “Upcoming” post the other day that Cowboys & Aliens is just a western with some aliens in it. Yep. That’s what it was. SO — if you’re not a fan of westerns, this is clearly not the movie for you. OR FOR ME.

I do not like westerns. Never have. Never will. And that’s okay, it’s my choice. If you want to write me to tell me that I”m wrong for not liking westerns, please do! I love to hear why people like what they do. I don’t fault people for what they like, so I hope you do the same.

My main problem with this movie is… it felt very thrown together. Take out the aliens and it’s a poorly executed western. Take out the western and it’s a poorly executed sci-fi movie. I felt there was little-to-no character development, and the characters that were barely developed, I didn’t care for.

I love Harrison Ford. He’s great in everything – from “Star Wars” to “Indiana Jones”, to something as vulnerable as “Regarding Henry”. In this, that dynamic cockiness that we’ve all come to know and love — or even the sweet, unassuming man-child… that Harrison Ford is nowhere to be found in this film. He is hollow and wooden and one-dimensional. I don’t care enough about this character even NOT to like him! Then there is his twin in the film, Daniel Craig. He’s just as forgettable. Olivia Wilde definitely has the “I’m going to peer into your soul with my freakishly beautiful blue eyes” stare going for her, but it doesn’t save her performance. And the whole twist of her character? Completely unbelievable and what I thought was a severe cop-out. And don’t get me started on the little Airbender kid. (Noah Ringer)

Other fine actors rounded out the ensemble cast, and they were the only semblance of a saving grace in this movie. Sam Rockwell was wonderful as a bumbling simpleton. Clancy Brown played an unconventional preacher. And David O’Hara, albeit with very little screen-time, was the most believable character in the whole movie.

The aliens themselves were finely crafted, and I am happy that the trailers didn’t spoil how they looked. The special effects were the only part of this movie that saved it from being completely ridiculous.

This is a popcorn movie, where of course, you must leave all belief at the door. I did that, but I didn’t think I would have to leave good taste or an appreciation for a well-rounded movie at the door as well. This movie is all about the summer blockbuster, but I don’t think it’s going to stand the test of time that producers (all 12 of them) hoped it would. This will not be listed with Spielberg, Grazer and Howard films, and I think Favreau has taken a major step back.

Jon, you’re so much better than this.

When J.C. and I visited London in May of this year, we saw a movie called “Attack the Block.” It was released in the UK on May 11th. It’s being released in the US on Friday, July 29th.

‘“Attack the Block” is a fast, funny, frightening action adventure movie that pits a teen gang against an invasion of savage alien monsters. It turns a London housing estate into a sci-fi playground. A tower block into a fortress under siege. And teenage street kids into heroes. It’s inner city versus outer space.’

I’d like to first say, I really enjoyed this movie when we saw it in London. I hope that it does well in the US, but I don’t know that it will. I haven’t seen any advertising for the US release and whenever I’ve talked about it with friends, they have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s unfortunate, because I think it’s a movie that should be seen at the theatre, but I believe that this will become a great DVD release for people who enjoy these types of movies.

The thing that this movie has going for them is having the line on the poster: “From the Producers of Shaun of the Dead.” Yep, Edgar Wright is the executive producer on this one. Nick Frost (oh how I love you Nick Frost!) also has a small-to-medium role in this film. He’s definitely not a major player, although he gets top billing on IMDB.

“Attack the Block” is directed by Joe Cornish, who has written the screenplay for the upcoming “TinTin”.

This movie really is about the up-and-coming British actors that do a fantastic job in portraying inner city kids. John Boyega plays “Moses”, the lead actor that goes from punk to hero within the span of the 90 minutes of this movie. He’s a force to be reckoned with; I believe this is just the beginning of young Boyega’s career. I look forward to seeing him in more features. With the exception of Jodie Whittaker, who plays female lead “Sam”, you most likely have never heard of any of these actors. However, this movie does not need a hugely known cast. This movie is going to be a cult hit that you show your friends and they show theirs —- in the future, we will say, “oh did you know that he was in this little independent British film a long time ago?”

Honestly, I would not be surprised if this movie gets remade for American audiences a few years down the road, with an American persuasion. This could easily be staged in the projects of southside Chicago (or any major city) and strive for the same goals that AtB has already achieved. For this movie’s sake, I hope that doesn’t happen. I don’t want this movie to get buried.

The one thing I’m really wondering about is the language barrier. JC and I watch a lot of British TV and film, and have British friends, so it’s a little easier for us to understand the slang terms and heavy accents. The actors in this film have heavy South-London accents and it may be hard for people to understand the slang they use. I wonder if that will be a complaint of people that see it this weekend.

The Creature(s) in this film are pretty bad-ass. This is my type of horror movie… with goodly-timed jumps, a bit of comedic elements to break tension, and just enough horror to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. The soundtrack is very cool as well.

Overall, I’ll be glad when this movie is released on DVD/Blu-Ray. It’ll definitely have a place on our horror shelf.
If you want to try something else this weekend and get away from the big-budget blockbusters, give “Attack the Block” a try.

KT: “Apart”

Posted: July 25, 2011 in In Theatres, KT Personal, Reviews

I had the opportunity to screen Aaron Rottinghaus’ movie, “Apart” at the IIFF.  [JC saw it at the first screening and insisted that I see it as well.]  I wanted to offer my opinion on this film so that you can get a different perspective on it.

I am still processing what I watched on Sunday. I am grateful that we were able to interview the director, Aaron and have some questions answered.  [Listen to our next podcast to hear the interview with Aaron.]  The question I asked of him was regarding the screenplay: did he write it linearly or was it written the way we saw on the screen?  He said that he and co-writer Josh (also the lead actor) always wrote it out of sequence; this alone is a marvel to me.

J.C. had said to me after he saw the film the first time that he was reminded of “Donnie Darko” and “Memento.”  Honestly, if I hadn’t heard that opinion, I wouldn’t have seen those comparisons.  That being said, I think I viewed the film differently because of having this lens on.

This intelligent and complex film is hauntingly beautiful.  Rottinghaus and Cinematographer J.P. Lipa use shadow and light in order to invoke scene, setting and time period in a way to keep us on the right storyline.  Olyesa Rulin’s eyes are full of tragedy, and this adds to the beauty that she brings to the film.  I had a hard time connecting with Josh Danzinger’s main character, Noah, and I believe this is where I’m getting hung up on when thinking about whether I actually liked this film.

I suppose that the comparison I can offer is, just as with “Donnie Darko” is more appreciated after multiple viewings – when you find little nuances and things you may have missed the first time around – I believe the same will be for “Apart.”  I look forward to watching this one again upon its distribution.

Either way, Aaron Rottinghaus has made a beautiful, tragic film by developing real case studies, all while exuding a deeply personal and touching story.  It is definitely worth a watch.  However, I caution readers: do not try to figure out this movie.  Watch it – enjoy it – and let it unravel before your eyes.  Don’t ruin it by injecting your own thoughts or theories into the story.

The Indianapolis International Film Festival 2011 has come to a close, but that doesn’t mean our coverage is over just yet!  We have a few more reviews to write, a podcast wrap-up to record, and other thoughts to offer to our listeners about the festival.  Thank you to all our new readers (and thank you to the Film Fest for allowing us access to the films).  We hope that you continue to read and listen to our podcasts until the festival next year!

On Saturday night, we screened “These Amazing Shadows” in the Toby at 7:30.  This is the film that I had been waiting for throughout the entire fest and what I believe to be the very centerpiece of what the Film Festival is all about.

What do the films Casablanca, Blazing Saddles and West Side Story have in common? Besides being popular, they have also been deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and listed on The National Film Registry. THESE AMAZING SHADOWS, an 88-minute documentary, tells the history and importance of the Registry, a roll call of American cinema treasures that reflects the diversity of film, and indeed the American experience itself. The current list of 550 films includes selections from every genre – documentaries, home movies, Hollywood classics, avant-garde, newsreels and silent films. These Amazing Shadows reveals how “American movies tell us so much about ourselves… not just what we did, but what we thought, what we felt, what we aspired to, and the lies we told ourselves.”

 

“These Amazing Shadows” is a truly wonderful film that will awaken one’s love of one of the greatest of art-forms, film.  I think people tend to forget that film is an art-form and must be given the same respect and love as paintings, sculpture and other treasures that we find in an art gallery.  Fitting that the screening was at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

This film is not for just hard-core movie-buffs or film critics.   Movies can bridge the great divide between cultural and people groups, if only we extend the olive branch and take a chance on a movie suggestion.  How many times have you resisted seeing a movie because you think it’s “not for you” only to find out, once you watch it, that your life will never be the same?  I vividly remember being 17 years old and wanting to show my sister Baz Luhrman’s version of “Romeo & Juliet” — she wanted to watch Bryan Singer’s “The Usual Suspects.”  We argued back and forth about what we would watch that night, and I reluctantly gave in.  I didn’t know at the time, but that movie changed how I view and respect film and film-makers.

This movie however, is infinitely important.  As one of the interviewees points out in the film: movies are a great historical tool.  We can view a film fifty years after its creation and experience the cultural climate of the time period.  It is a live, historical artifact.  A thousand years from now, if the human race is still present in the universe, they will turn to films to recreate the past.  We must leave them something to reference.

This film made me laugh, gasp, cry and ultimately renewed my passion for movies.  I think that everyone should see this film – it is important!  It will be broadcast on PBS on December 29th.  See this link for other Screenings, hopefully in your town!

Thank you to the Indy Film Fest for choosing this film as the Closing Night Selection for the IIFF 2011.  Thank you to Kurt Norton, co-director of the film, who joined us via Skype for a brief Q&A session (I asked the 2nd question).  Thank you to the film-makers, producers, editors and to the interviewees, including the selection committee for the National Film Registry.