Sunday, February 1, 2015

I Know That Voice (2013)

Director: Lawrence Shapiro

Writer: Brandon Sonnier

Composer: ???

Starring:  TONS of great talent, John DiMaggio, Kevin Conroy, Jim Cummings, Jason Marsden, Phil LaMarr, Maurice LaMarche, Laraine Newman, Rob Paulsen, Stephen Root, Jim Ward, Billy West, Nancy Cartwright, Hank Azaria, Edward Asner, Clancy Brown, June Foray, Stan Freberg, Seth Green, Matt Groening, Mark Hamill, Gary Owens, Dana Snyder

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A documentary that puts a face to a face to all the voices that we know and love.

Plot: Seldom seen and often heard, the voice actors behind "Futurama," "SpongeBob SquarePants" and many other animated shows discuss their amusing craft



My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Sure.

Here's an underrated group of folks who don't get nearly the amount of credit they deserve.  When a big Hollywood animated film gets cast they usually fill it with movie stars regardless of their ability to act ONLY with their voice.  So often you get bland performances from voices you recognize because you've seen them act in live action films.  The REAL talent belongs to those folks whose main gig is voice acting.  They're the ones who put the bomp sha bomp sha bomp behind the animated visuals to the cartoons and films we grew up with.  That list of participants in this film is a fraction of the fine folks we get to see (and hear) in this documentary.  It's a gas to put a face to the voice.  I've been a huge fan of Maurice LaMarche, for example, for more than twenty years and I finally got to see what he looks like.  Granted, there wasn't a Goddamned thing stopping me from looking on the internet in all that time but there he was talking about his craft...and it's just that, a craft. That's one thing you'll glean from this by the time you're watching the end credits.  Like everything, there is an art to voicing animation and it's not just being able to do a funny voice like you do when you're hamming it up with your friends.  If you think it's that easy then you're wrong, or you're in that exclusive minuscule percentile that has a natural talent for it and you should be working in a studio instead of reading this silly blog.  It's currently on Netflix streaming.

The Recruit (2003)

Director: Roger Donaldson

Writers: Roger Towne, Kurt Wimmer, Mitch Glazer

Composer: Klaus Badelt

Starring: Al Pacino, Colin Farrell, Bridget Moynahan, Gabriel Macht, Kenneth Mitchell, Mike Realba, Ron Lea, Karl Pruner

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Trust. Betrayal. Deception. In the C.I.A. nothing is what it seems.

Plot: A brilliant young CIA trainee is asked by his mentor to help find a mole in the Agency.



My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Try not to think about this one and you'll be better for it except an hour in it'll probably hit you without too much effort.  Pacino is fun and Farrell does a fine job.  I like how the story plays with convention and cliches but what I don't like is how it gave up on those in the third act and decides to roll with a few.  That was shit.   Really.  It's one little twist after another and in the final half hour it goes typical Hollywood and rides that train 'till it gets to the station.  What a crock of shit.  Because of that, it boils down to no longer caring about the characters (except the wild Pacino man doin' his thing) or their fates.  What a missed opportunity.  How would I have liked it to have gone?  Beats me.  That would require me to spend time with this and that's not gonna happen.  The Touchstone DVD has some extras that I'm not going to watch like a 16 minute featurette Spy School: Inside the CIA Training Program...you know, like they're REALLY going to tell you a single truth about how they train (ugh), 4 deleted scenes with optional commentary from Donaldson and Farrell, and an audio commentary with the pair.  It's neat that Farrell participated at that level with the commentaries.  It's a real shame the ending went conventional after spending so much time (at least seemingly) trying to do something different in building up to it. 



Saturday, January 31, 2015

V/H/S/2 (2013)

Directors: Simon Barrett, Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, Gregg Hale, Eduardo Sanchez, Timo Tjahjanto, Adam Wingard

Writers: Simon Barrett, jamie Nash, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Evans, Jason Elsener, John Davies, Brad Miska

Composers: James Guymon, Steve Moore, Aria Prayogi, Fajar Yuskemal

Starring: Too many people to list.  Sorry, cast.

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Who's tracking you?

Plot: Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his house and find collection of VHS tapes. Viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be dark motives behind the student's disappearance.



My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I REALLY liked V/H/S (2012).  It was different and, what's more, the stories were well crafted and damn entertaining.  The wraparound story was weak but I'm not watching a horror anthology for the wraparound business.  The wraparound on this first sequel isn't as weak as the first film but it's got issues.  Again, I'm not watching this for that.  The best story was "A Ride in the Park" and it was the best by a good stretch.  I liked where it kept going, hitting one interesting beat after another.  The other stories were OK but there's little stuff with each one that bothered me enough to stop caring before it was over.  Some of these issues were present in the first film but the stories were told so well that I could overlook them.  Now these things are back in the sequel and they're totally unnecessary and bothersome. I'll watch the third one, hoping they try and stick to some semblance of realism (I'm getting sick and damn tired of seeing the images tweaking out like micro power outages or surges - it's getting fucking old and annoying as fuck).  I realize it's a difficult thing to pull off, using this found footage gimmick with the horror anthology. At least there was one story that was worth watching it for.  There's usually at least one. 

Blood (2012)

Director: Nick Murphy

Writer: Bill Gallagher

Composer: Daniel Pemberton

Starring: Mark Strong, Paul Bettany, Brian Cox, Stephen Graham, Zoe Tapper, Ben Compton, Natasha Little, Adrian Edmondson, Naomi Battrick

More info: IMDb

Tagline: You can't bury the truth.

Plot: Thriller charting the moral collapse of a police family. Two cop brothers, smothered by the shadow of their former police chief father, must investigate a crime they themselves have committed.



My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? No.

There's nothing fun about watching someone slowly breakdown during the course of a film, especially when the walls take forever to close in to the breaking point with one piece of bad news after another.  Well,  I guess taking too long to do would be worse.  I liked it OK and the performances are strong (good score, overall vibe, etc) but the pacing really hurts the film.  92 minutes feels like two and a half hours.  What makes it worse is that it doesn't seen necessary to take so long (even though it's relatively short for the type of picture this is).  Otherwise I liked most other aspects of it.  It's a very good story and I liked what the director was going for but the execution doesn't push the film like it needs. It also doesn't help that combining the pacing with the quiet, moody (but good) score and the overall dark and bluish color correction makes this an almost perfect storm for taking a nap if you're not ready for it.  I suppose I'd have to watch it again and really give it some thought into how it could be better.  I kind of want to just as an exercise but what the hell do I know.  I haven't shot a single frame of film for anything.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Hitler's Children (2011)

Director: Chanoch Zeevi

Composer: Ophir Leibovitch

Starring: Bettina Goring, Katrin Himmler, Monika Goth, Rainer Hoss, Eldad Beck, Niklas Frank, Yael Bedarshi, Adi Piper, Samuel West

More info: IMDB


Plot: A look into the lives of the descendants of the top Nazi officials who worked under Hitler's command.



My rating: 8.5/10

I don't mean to sound like an advertisement for Netflix streaming but I love this service.  I get to discover all kinds of wonderful films that I normally might not find.  This is one of them.  It's absolutely fascinating on so many levels.  One thing that couldn't escape me, even after the picture had long finished, was how it must feel to be the offspring or close relative to someone who did such horrible things.  Think about that for a moment.  You're a small child.  Your father runs a huge death camp but all you knew of your time there was a beautiful home and garden (on the camp grounds), a privileged lifestyle and a loving family, not ever knowing what was going on just a few feet away.  Then suddenly the war ends and your father is tried, convicted and sentenced to death.  And now you spend the rest of your days without a father, not knowing until years later what the truth was.  All you knew of him was he was a good and loving father and husband.  Wow.  That's got to be a major kick in the balls. And then you spend the rest of your life trying to deal with that.  And to maker matters worse, people look at you with hate and contempt even though you had nothing to do with your father's sins.  That's just one scenario and there are several people in this documentary that have similar and varying stories.  One man has spent his entire life trying to find anything positive about his father.  Think about that one.  It's leisurely paced with a undercurrent of a subdued score.  The moment that will always stick with me is when one of the subjects visits the concentration camp his father ran.  A group was visiting at that time which included the son of a man who was murdered in that camp.  These two share a moment that is so powerful and genuine that no fictional film could come close to achieving.  Wow.  I'm tempted to buy the DVD but I can't find out if it has any extras.  I'd buy it now if it does.  I'll probably wait until I'm ready to see it again and get it (if it's no longer on Netflix, that is). 

Shooters (2002)

Directors: Glenn Durfort, Colin Teague

Writers: Louis Dempsey, Andrew Howard, Gary Young

Composer: Kemal Ultanur

Starring: Adrian Dunbar, Andrew Howard, Louis Dempsey, Gerard Butler, Jason Hughes, Matthew Rhys, Ioan Gruffudd, Jamie Sweeney, Melanie Lynskey, Emma Fielding, David Kennedy, Joe Swash, Ranjit Krishnamma, Nitin Ganatra, Walter Roberts

More info: IMDb

Tagline: In the tradition of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Plot: Gilly, fresh out of prison, and J, a hustler with a major drug problem, just can't shake their criminal ways.



My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Jeez, here's a grim picture.  While I didn't care for any of the characters (but I kept wondering if I was supposed to), it held my interest but only slightly.  Without giving it too much thought as to why I'm going to say it was the story that was lacking.  The performances were quite good for what the film required but none of the characters gave me a reason to like them or invest in them enough to get sucked into the story so that things mattered.  I'm glad I stuck with it, though, because the ending was fantastic.  It's bleak as shit and I really dug it.  Fans of British crime will dig it the most. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Rescue from Gilligan's Island (1978)

Director: Leslie H. Martinson

Writers: Sherwood Schwartz, Elroy Schwartz, Al Schwartz, David P. Harmon

Composer: Gerald Fried

Starring: Bob Denver, Alan Hale Jr., Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, Judith Baldwin, russell Johnson, Dawn Wells, Vincent Schiavelli, Art LaFleur, Norman Bartold

More info: IMDb

Plot: When a decaying Russian satellite crashes on the island, the Professor uses a key component for a barometer. With that device, he learns that a massive wave is going to swamp the island. In desperation, the castaways lash their huts together into one structure in order to have any chance to ride the disaster out. The wave strikes the island and the hut is swept out to sea. Once there, Gilligan accidents starts a fire trying to cook a meal and nearly burns the floating hut down. Occupied with stopping the fire, the gang fails to notice that the smoke caught the attention of a naval helicopter who summoned a ship to rescue the castaways. In triumph, they return to Hawaii, only to learn that things have changed over the years and they will have trouble fitting in. To further complicate matters, two Russian spies are after that the key component that Gilligan now wears as necklace.



My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

As a kid in the 70s I loved this show.  A few years ago I watched the pilot, the first time I'd seen an episode as an adult, and it wasn't that bad.  It fared better than I'd hoped.  It's still a dumb show but there's something about it that tickles me.  That's kind of how I felt about seeing this for the first time in nearly 40 years.  Yeah, it's bad but it's also got some incredibly funny, laugh out loud moments and that really surprised me.  The business with the two spies (Schiavelli and the other guy) are cringe-inducing with the over the top broad comedy.  But what was funny were the individual moments we got with each of the main characters.  The Professor turning down sex with his hot students was priceless.  He's clearly a man of science. The same goes with The Howells, Ginger and so on.  The film knows exactly what it is and it gladly pokes fun of itself and the show that spawned it.  I can't recommend this to anyone who wasn't a fan of the 60s TV show but I can (with reservation) for those who have.  Oh, and the one thing that was REALLY strange was not having a laugh track.  That was bizarre.  Since this is in the public domain you'll be able to see it in any number of places for free online.