Month: April 2015

Big Eyes Is Burton Getting Out Of His Own Way

Big-Eyes-posterI have experienced trouble in my film-addict lifetime attaching much emotion to Tim Burton movies. Yeah, Beetlejuice and Batman are classics and will always be signature Burton. Ed Wood was mad fun but didn’t hang with me for too many years. Big Fish was the biggest surprise because it did connect. Lately, though, his efforts haven’t left much of an effect. I see his films and shake my shoulders and think to myself, “Maybe next time he will mix in a little of that Big Fish spectacle with the Ed Wood madness and tell a simple tale.

Well, his latest feature, Big Eyes, is exactly that. A simple straight forward tale that is sweet, odd, a little dark, and doesn’t shy away from the obsessions that ordinary people have with gifted artists. Tim Burton doesn’t apply too much black paint to this heartfelt true story of a brilliant painter hiding in the shadows of her showboating husband for 10 years. He just tells the story and lets the chips fall. He also lets a talented pair of actors in Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz take this movie and run with it. (more…)

Game of Thrones: HBO’s New Goldmine

When Sopranos and The Wire retired, there was some doubt at HBO on the idea of keeping up the powerhouse premium cable network’s dominance for the upcoming years with original series. Documentaries and original HBO films have kept them stocked up on Emmy and Golden Globe awards. Veep has collected a couple awards. HBO Sports continue to thrive while losing NHL’s 24/7 series and Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s theatrics to Showtime. Throughout the adjustment period, Game of Thrones has reigned as the powerful original series that dominates the waves when it airs.

George R.R. Martin’s hypnotic bloody pulp of medieval exotic battles revolving around The Seven Kingdoms has everyone’s attention as round 5 from the ammo chamber of writers/creators David Benioff and D.B Weiss begins tonight. Let’s look at a few things to keep an eye on this season. (more…)

Furious 7 Delivers The Action And Tugs At the Heart

I remember where I was when I watched The Fast and The Furious. The first film that launched the careers of Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Michelle Rodriguez into the

imageHollywood stratosphere of invincibility. I saw it with my dad at Esquire in St. Louis when the theater was a hot spot. The theater was only half full because the cast was a bunch of nobodies then. Unknown faces yet interesting ones. The soldier who died for a little girl in Saving Private Ryan in Diesel. The ill fated quarterback from Varsity Blues in Walker. The tough fighter from Girlfight in Rodriguez. Who were these people? Rob Cohen directing the flick with barely a resume. Here was this cheap little independent action flick about hot rod cars, muscle bound men and tough babes. Innocent, simple, ridiculous and entertaining. By the end of the film, something else peeked up and showed its head. A heart. Something most action films dispose of before the credits begin and before the first bullet is fired.


When I Got Hooked On Banshee

Meet The New BossBloodied and beaten to a pulp, a sheriff tells his deputy, “Meet The New Boss” before exiting the casino. This was the moment I got hooked on Cinemax’s Banshee, a TV series that has grown in popularity during its third season, which climaxed Friday night in a hail of gunfire but ended on a quieter note between two men who aren’t that different from each other. Seeing Kai Proctor(Ulrich Thomsen) and Lucas Hood(Antony Starr) come to a healthy understanding of each other was shocking, especially to the guy who can describe the real moment they became sworn enemies.The end to Season 3 made me think about that time, long ago, when this was just another show and I was only a mere fan.  Let’s take a ride back in time real quick.

The third episode of Season 1, titled “Meet the New Boss”, was the hour that officially tied me to the wagon, got me on twitter talking to the cast and really immersed me in the mythology that this show was going after. The episode didn’t end with some massive monologue or big poetic line, but a bloody man collapsed and hanging on the ledge of a bar. The entire hour was built around the idea that an MMA superstar was in town to fight at the casino, and it was supposed to be a huge money maker for Proctor, an Amish crime lord who loomed over the town wearing the “Don’t Fuck With Me” sign and “I can buy your morality” glare to go with it. He ruled and every sheriff had knelt at his feet or died trying. Until Lucas Hood came along.

Forget the fact that his name really isn’t Lucas Hood, and that it’s merely the latest name this mysterious, quiet and deadly loner has picked up in his tornado shit smashing storm of a life. Forget the fact that five into his first stop in town at the Forge, he got into a fight and watched the real sheriff die. Forget the fact that the man took Hood’s identity permanently due to his good friend, Job, who happened to design every computer software in the world. Forget all of that. In this episode, Hood made a choice to do something righteous. Something that wasn’t born out of greed, getting ahead or a survival tactic. (more…)

Foxcatcher is a Misfire

FOXCATCHERCall me crazy, but I am not sure Foxcatcher works as a film. It’s definitely not Oscar worthy or even worth watching in a theater. It is an ambitious attempt from director Bennett Miller(Capote, Moneyball) but the overall effect of this film is overly bleak, boring and involves a heavy miscast. When I left the theater, I thought to myself, “Not a bad film but also not really that good.” It’s a sad story so the bleakness is expected but the execution is just erratic. Maybe that’s unfair to Miller due to the subject matter(not bedtime material) but I feel like I was sucker punched here. Promised a juicy steak and got a chewy piece of beef.

What’s the tale of the tape? A true story about a pair of Olympic wrestling brothers(Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo) connecting with a strange, rich and 100 % creepy John Du Pont(Steve Carell) and their lives suddenly become entrenched in opportunity, sadness and ultimately, tragedy. There’s no need to reveal anymore because there isn’t much more to tell.

Carell plays the tortured isolated and needy older man longing for some friendship and the gimmick of his performance shows up too often. All I can see is the prosthetic nose and an actor trying to stretch instead of seeing a true performance. Like his character, Carell just wants to play with the big boys and looks out of place. He is miscast here. I don’t buy his performance and it’s key so the wheels start to roll off the more screen time he gets. (more…)

5 Reasons to Watch RESCUE ME on Netflix

5 Reasons To Watch Rescue Me on Netflix

Denis_Leary_in_Rescue_Me_TV_Series_Wallpaper_4_8001.) If you want a clear cut, blunt force trauma styled tribute to 9/11, you can stop looking and come here. It’s seven seasons and layered with some of the best writing on television but it never forgets where its original aim is pointed. The tragic day in New York launched this show and the series circles back with dignity and honor. Denis Leary(Creator, Writer, Star) screened it at local firehouses in New York.

2.) It can go from comedy to drama in a scene. It will make you laugh one moment and cry the next. Leary’s writing is top notch and that’s because it’s darkly cynical and powerful without being preachy. The fireman here are well versed in bad decisions, heroism and are wack jobs, but in the end, their appeal is versatile.

3.) There are the regular easy to spot and love series moments. A fireman having problems with women. The overweight jokes are there but well written. The storylines are familiar and easy to digest. The show isn’t complex and doesn’t forget that people who watch the show need to see potent yet comfortable material.

4.) Be careful when you are watching this show because that rug you are standing on could be pulled out from under you. Major characters die and they do it without a buildup.

5.) The show never grows tired. In seven seasons and 90 plus episodes, Leary and the gang created something powerful, funny and easy to spread around. You won’t feel anchored to the floor but your attention and eyes will be glued to the screen.

Start watching now on Netflix. All episodes are there. The show wrapped up its run on the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. This is one of those shows that you don’t put in your queue. It gets clicked on right now.