Thursday, June 30, 2011

Movie News

No, You're Gonna Tell Me Something Today, Tough Guy. 

      It's no secret. I'm a gluttonous sucker for gangsters. "Hans, *booby,* I'm your white knight." Kobayashi scoffs down Nathan's hot dogs. I scoff down bouts between criminal hotshots. It may be a subconscious byproduct of my Sicilian roots (the birthplace of "the Five Families"). Or, it may reflect my cinematic upbringing, by which, I mean, an adolescence regularly accompanied with countless trips to the theatre (the elitist spelling, I know), where my prepubescent eyes dovetailed into the real sensible kids stuff; you know, The Untouchables, Goodfellas, True Romance, Reservoir Dogs, Carlito's Way, Casino, Pulp Fiction, Heat, Donnie Brasco, Snatch. Perhaps, this tumultuous mobster childhood (criminality is in the eye of the beholder) explains my most recent dissertation: the one where I shamelessly professed my love for all that is De Niro and Pacino. Man, I love them gangsters. All the chummy talk aside, I just got word through the Internets that an awesomely titled project, Gangster Squad, just received an HGH injection: a dosage of Breaking Bad. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What I've Been Watching: 1st Edition

Tuning Into The Classics

      I'm going to experiment with a new segment (bi-weekly, monthly, who knows?) called "What I've Been Watching." Beyond the intention of renewing interest in classic cinema, this segment represents an opportunity for me to underscore some of the "great" films that I've been watching recently. So, consider this debut segment, a repository of the classics. Films from Godard, Truffaut, Bergman, Fellini, Herzog (and so many, many more) will be featured prominently. Enjoy! And as always, I encourage feedback and discussion.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Robert De Niro vs. Al Pacino

Say Hello to my Little Friend, Robert De Pacino

       I reaffirm my faith in the beauty of cinema almost routinely. The most joyous moment in Francois Truffaut's The 400 Blows (one of my favorite films) occurred when young Antoine and his family ventured to the cinemas; cinema, as both an escape from delinquency and birth of inspiration, is one of Truffaut's most poignant and recurring themes. Fast forward to today. My fondness for film is like a rose in full bloom. "A guy told me one time, 'Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner." That's a quote from the memorable diner scene in Heat. It's one of those spectacular cinematic moments that deserves a "where were you when you watched Robert De Niro and Al Pacino square off before the camera, mano-a-mano" disclaimer. That scene represents the formative stages of my obsessive love for film. I was young, but I snuck into the R-rated showing of Heat. And I'm eternally grateful for my youthful mischief because cinema thrust upon me with an unrelenting intensity. Towards the latter part of their memorable on-screen exchange, Pacino warns De Niro: "You know, we are sitting here, you and I, like a couple of regular fellas. You do what you do, and I do what I gotta do. And now that we've been face to face, if I'm there and I gotta put you away, I won't like it. But I tell are going down." And De Niro responds: "There is a flip side to that coin. What if you do got me boxed in and I gotta put you down?...We've been face to face, yeah. But I will not hesitate. Not for a second." So, in keeping with their underlined spirit, I ask only one favor: briefly suspend your knowledge of the final act in Heat and imagine what would happen if De Niro and Pacino, in a purely artistic sense, faced off?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Movie Promotion

VIP Red Carpet Screening of Captain America: The First Avenger

      Promotional opportunities seldom, if ever, arouse my curiosity. That's about to change. A polite individual from the Visa Outreach Team contacted me regarding a marvelous fan opportunity. If you guys and gals like movies as much as I do (and I know most of you can easily answer yes), then Visa is giving us the chance, however slim, to win a trip for two to the Captain America: The First Avenger screening. The best part (if one of us wins) is we get to see it before it opens in theaters on July 22. Oh, and one minor thing: we'll be in the company of celebrities, which for you ladies, means a chance to propose to Chris Evans
      What's the catch, you ask. Just vote for your favorite city to host the VIP Red Carpet Screening (the 'entry form' link can be found below). The sweepstakes conclude on Friday. I apologize, but I was only made aware of this unique opportunity the other day. Your precious vote will also give you a chance to win other great prizes: 

Grand Prize: A 3-day, 2-night trip for the Grand Prize winner and one guest to the city that wins the screening (as determined by voting) , including round-trip, coach class air transportation from a major U.S. gateway airport nearest the winner's home to the winning city, double-occupancy hotel accommodations (one (1) room), ground transportation to/from airport and to/from the VIP Red Carpet Screening of the movie,and a $500 Visa Gift Card for winner only to attend a VIP Red Carpet Screening of the movie, Captain America: The First Avenger, on July 19, 2011 or July 20, 2011 (date will be determined after voting has concluded), including two (2) tickets to a VIP Red Carpet Screening of the movie. Actual value of trip prize depends upon the city of departure, city of the screening, time of travel, any air transportation fluctuations and on current market conditions at time of prize fulfillment, and any difference between the stated ARV and the actual value if any, will not be awarded; Approximate Retail Value ("ARV") $4,990 each.

Three Hundred (300) First Prizes: Two (2) Movie Tickets redeemable at; ARV $38 each.

One Hundred (100) Second Prizes: an AM/FM Retro Radio ARV $18.30 each. ARV of all prizes: $28,200.


Visa Signatures' VIP Red Carpet Screening of Captain America: The First Avenger Sweepstakes (the "Sweepstakes") is open to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, 18 years of age and older as of June 9,2011 ("Eligible Participants"). Void in Puerto Rico and where prohibited.

Limit one (1) vote/entry per person and per Facebook account per day. That gives us a chance to cast three, in the words of Charlie Sheen, "Winning" votes. Well, fingers are crossed.

VIP Red Carpet Screening of Captain America: The First Avenger Sweepstakes Entry Form

VIP Red Carpet Screening of Captain America: The First Avenger Sweepstakes Official Rules

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Movie Review: Super 8

The Magic 8 Ball Knows All
(Minor Spoilers)

      Ask the magic eight ball a question: who is J.J. Abrams? J.J. Abrams is a purveyor of mystery and suspense. It is certain. But a more arresting realization can be gleamed from the co-creating mind of Lost. Beyond the scope of fortune-telling toys, I posit this belief: J.J. Abrams is a spectacular visual artist, a storytelling savant who wields his magical wand under the unique rubric of filmmaking. He is a tenured, world-renowned professor, the Indiana Jones of imagination, and he teaches a master's level course. He calls it, brashly but befittingly, the art of a movie. Beyond a terrifying waiting list, a number that's equivalent to the legion of Miami Heat haters, what does that all mean exactly? 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Short Film Review: Madeleine Zabel

Mad-dy World, Mad-dy World

      The world, beginning with the aughts, has been indoctrinated into the far-reaching tentacles of a seismic cultural realignment, byproducts of an impertinent mass consciousness. The ripple effects have decimated doctrines of normalcy, replaced conventions with hysteria, and necessitated an oversaturated media whose lifeblood is celebrity mania. No short film has ever conveyed this sense of, what I'll call, the madness of the media, better than director Chris Shimojima's Madeleine Zabel. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Movie Review: X-Men First Class

Flying High

First Class is not only synonymous with a classy, comfortable form of air travel (remember that Seinfeld episode?), it's an apt descriptor for Matthew Vaughn's sturdy X-Men movie. And after flying First Class, much like Jerry Seinfeld, I can't go back to coach.

      Imagine you’re about to board a commercial flight. No seat assignments have been communicated in advance. Your buttock is flummoxed. You step foot on the aircraft without the faintest idea of where to lower your gluteus maximus. A flight attendant by the name of Matthew Vaughn ushers you to that lovely place, a cushiony contraption replete with luxurious accoutrements befitting a person of high-class comfort and prestige. It’s conveniently nestled in the front section, prime real estate for air travelers, not to mention exquisite panoramas. It turns out that Mr. Vaughn is actually a film director masquerading as a flight attendant/pilot. And to your astonishment, you’re now firmly aboard a marvel-ous flight, destination comic book heaven. So fasten your seat belt, make sure your seat back and folding trays are in their full upright position, and enjoy the ride. Despite the very real threat of nuclear apocalypse, there’s no need for emergency exits; this isn’t The Last Stand. You’re in First Class baby and privy to the best amenities, both visual and emotional. Yes, Fassbender and McAvoy, I would like some more. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Two Cool Videos

Text at Your Own Risk

      Be forewarned. If you don't like what I have to say, then expect repercussions. My retribution will involve one of the 100 Greatest Movie Threats of All-Time: "Don't mess with the bull, young man. You'll get the horns." I'll be raining down on you with such fury, you'll be wondering if the person pummeling you senseless is Mike Tyson. Ah, but I'm kidding. As a partial, not pseudo pacifist, I leave the fighting to the movies. Only in the movies can extreme forces of good and evil be imagined and realized...not imitated.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Movie News Roundup

Unchained and Biblical

      Batting leadoff today is a story, from Wednesday, that portends a very compelling possibility; imagine Leonardo DiCaprio in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. If the story unfolds as expected, we won't have to imagine it. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Movie News Roundup

Fickle Film

      Like any archetypical Clint Eastwood cowboy, I'll be donning a hat. We can call it the movie marshal's hat; Eastwood preferred a beaver felt Stetson made famous in Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy. As an enduring cultural icon, Eastwood's name is synonymous with tough-talking-no-nonsense banter. So, I'm going to pay forward his legacy of straightforward talk. It's a spirit that cannot be effectively translated to words, of course, but I'm going to do my best. After all, stubbornness in spirit is also a primal facet of The Man With No Name. I'll be corralling the genuine and barefaced movie news of the day (sometimes the week/month/year), assuming the news is worthy of underscoring, and offering my brief analysis. My fierce pal, Dezmond of Hollywood Spy fame, also deserves some of the recognition for this post' inspiration. As the James Bond of movie news, he's consistently on the ball, reporting developments that appeal to moviegoers across the world. Kudos, my friend.
      As we know, film news developments are fickle creatures. Interesting, timely news is not only beholden to whimsical decision makers, but earnest, around-the-clock reporters; predators of information, eager to broadcast the latest and greatest snippets of anything remotely topical. I believe Clint Eastwood, in an entirely different context, said it best: "if you want a guarantee, buy a toaster." But Eastwood also famously stated: "I tried being reasonable, I didn't like it." Therefore, the inherent unreasonableness of reporting shall not deter my willingness to underscore, what I deem, the interesting movie developments of the day. And with that charming nugget of wisdom, let's get to today's news.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Movie News

Hooked On Trailers

      Is it just me or does every summer movie season feel like Hollywood's deliberate attempt to introduce moviegoers to a new Bond character: you know, trailers galore? The busy blockbuster-laden landscape of movies represents, for studios, what Christmas time means to retail/online merchants: BIG business. The influx of new and more polished looks at some future blockbusters is always met with great anticipation. The summer of 2011 is no different; Green Lantern, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Super 8, 30 Minutes or Less and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; Part 2 represent some of the studios' more hopeful attempts to draw hordes of moviegoers to the box office. Whether you want to see the breathtaking world of Oa, the nefarious exploits of an evil transformer/alien robot copy machine, ascertain the "secret" of Super 8, watch Aziz Ansari mold the minds of young, impressionable kids or witness the final showdown between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort, the summer of 2011 offers something for you; something unique to your sensibility. For the most recent, jazzed-up trailers, hit the jump.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Person of the Week

Cool To Be Fuller Yourself

      Sam Fuller is one of the beloved mavens of low-budget filmmaking. The energetic proprietor of pulp storytelling is responsible for pioneering a predominantly primitive style. But, like any great movie-making influence, Fuller also dabbled in other forms of film: notably, acting. Ah, you don't believe me. Well, I have definitive video proof. And the proof is in the witnessing; in my case, the revival of my "Person of the Week" crown. Yes, the crown, like MJ in '95, is BACK...and to Sam Fuller and Al Pacino, go the spoils.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Movie Review: The Hangover Part II

Hungover, Dehydrated and Drowsy

      It was the best of Zach Galifianakis. It was the worst of Zach Galifianakis. The Hangover Part II is a bigger, a badder, but not a better amnesiac-ridden remake of the Wolfpack's virgin descent into infinite debauchery.