Movie Review: The Company Men

The Company Men was one of those movies that really came and went without so much as a whimper.  Starring Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Maria Bello, Craig T. Nelson and Kevin Costner.  It was directed by tv luminary John Wells, creator of some of the biggest shows ever (who also happens to be a Peter Stark grad).  You assume that a movie that just disappears like this is just not any good… but I’m here to tell you it is pretty good.  It’s not going to make your top ten list, and it isn’t groundbreaking.  The Company Men is made with just enough heart, technical skill and really good acting that it should not have suffered the quick demise it had.

Ben Affleck was likeable as a salesmen who loses his job after twelve years and finds the world is a cruel place.  Chris Cooper is great as the guy with thirty years experience.  Maria Bello is one of the better actresses over forty – and seems to have a realism that most other actresses just can’t pull off.  She has model-type looks and the body of a twenty-something, but for some reason she has this tough exterior and it grounds her.  I am not a Tommy Lee Jones fan when he plays stoic.  I do, however, love Tommy Lee Jones when he has a tinge of rebel to his character.  Like in Under Siege.  Here he plays a corporate #2 who is disillusioned with his company and the path they are taking.  He is floating in the abyss until he pushes back a bit.

I also really enjoyed the relationship between Affleck and his wife played by Rosemarie DeWitt.  Where most films like this have the wife either being overly supportive or a complete bitch, Wells does a great job of playing DeWitt on the fence.  This is a couple stretched to the absolute limits… of course they are going to have their problems.  But she is supportive when she needs to be, and to the extent she needs to be.

In films such as this, I value realism… and truth.  And everything about this film rang true.

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Movie Review: Horrible Bosses

So, now that I know that Ed Helms and Jason Sudeikis are not the same person… I have a fresh perspective on Horrible Bosses.  I love Charlie Day (and can watch him read the phone book), like Helms/Sudeikis and thought Bateman was serviceable as the average guy in a bad situation. But now that I know Sudeikis is Sudeikis and in real life goes out with Olivia Wilde it actually hurts my opinion of this movie. Because his character Kurt is the one who gets the girls in this film… and it was funnier for me when I thought Helms was breaking out of his shell.

Now what do I think? It’s a totally ridiculous concept, with totally ridiculous plot points… but done by a team that knows this. They even point it out. Charlie Day works for Jennifer Aniston and she is blackmailing him into sleeping with her.  It’s insane.  She’s one of the hottest women on the planet. And one of the characters points this out.

It’s better than Hall Pass, but not as good as Cedar Rapids. If you look at this film as a bunch of little moments it is can be funny. As a whole it adds up to a lot of nothing.

 

Movie Review: Cedar Rapids

I hate to admit this… but I just spent the last few weeks thinking that Ed Helms and Jason Sudeikis were the same person. It was baffling to me how Helms could be in every studio comedy that came out last year… then I realized that Sudeikis is a living breathing person. I’m still not sure who I like better (probably Sudeikis because of his performance in Horrible Bosses)… but I did enjoy Ed Helms in Cedar Rapids.

In the film he plays the straight man, Tim Lippe.  Not much of a stretch for Helms.  But lets make one thing clear – this is John C. Reilly’s movie.  He steals every scene as the Dean-sy – Dean Ziegler.  He talks too much, he drinks too much and he is pretty awesome.  I have been down on Reilly in comedy roles recently, but even though he is playing a character here it all feels real.

The plot is sort of pointless here and they have this wrap up at the end that takes all of five minutes, but that’s not what this is about.  It is about a guy with zero real world experience stepping out of his comfort zone.  And it is ridiculous… in one scene he goes off to a party with a prostitute and starts smoking crystal meth and doing coke.  But you’re not rolling your eyes, at least I wasn’t.  It was done with a deft hand.

Anne Heche is good.  Isiah Witlock Jr, from The Wire and 25th Hour, is awesome as a fellow insurance salesman who bonds with Helms and Reilly.  He can say the word ‘shit’ better than anyone alive.  Seriously.  It is a lot of fun seeing him in a comedy.

All-in-all this is a fun little movie… and at just under 85 minutes it is definitely worth your time.

Movie Review: Red

It is to all our benefit that Red moves at a brisk pace… because it seems stuck in a time warp.  Not just because of its older cast.  The tone is something from a late 80’s, early 90’s action comedy.  A bit too zany for its own good.

The acting, as you would expect from the likes of Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren, is fine. It is what is asked of them that sinks the ship.  Brian Cox is tasked with putting on a Russian accent. John Malkovich is so over the top it hurts. And so is the action in the film.  Case in point, there is a scene where a woman aims a rocket launcher at our heroes and Malkovich steps out and shoots a single bullet at the same time.  The bullet strikes the rocket and the woman is sucked up in a fireball.

That pretty much sums up the entire film.  I like Mary-Louise Parker… it’s hard not to.  However, even she can’t save this.

Short of the Week

Now that my short film 4.2.3. is available online, the question nags at me – how do I get people to watch it?

I just stumbled on a site ‘Short of the Week‘ and immediately submitted the film.

You can go and vote and I’m guessing the more votes it gets, the better the chances of it being added to the site.

If you haven’t seen the short, I’d love for you to check it out.  Total running time is just under 13 minutes.

Best Surprise I’ve Ever Gotten

Since my ‘Behind the Scenes’ folder for White Space is over 100 gb’s, I’ve been going through and sorting it out.  Deleting pictures and videos that are unnecessary and the like.

I stumbled upon a video I didn’t know existed.  On the tenth day of shooting, Lauren hopped on a plane and flew out to LA from NY and surprised me on set.  She did this in the span of less than 12 hours – because the night before I was on the phone with her and jokingly challenged her to get on a plane.

She won that one.

Script Progress Report

I’ve got 50-something pages of Penny Black down.  But I’m truly only up to page 20.  Not bad though.  It’s really coming along and I’m starting to figure out exactly who Penny is.

Untitled Werewolf Hunter is up to page 32.  It’s bitchin’ and I just spent the day upstate (NY) doing a location scout. My buddy, who was also an Executive Producer on White Space and will be a producer on this film, has a cabin I can blow up/destroy and it sits on 35 acres.  I’ll post some pics and videos after I upload them to my computer.  Dikran’s also working on a revision of his latest spec with his writing partner, Rylend… so he’s splitting his time.  If I was a real scumbag I would have given him notes on that script after he finished this one.  But I’m such a swell guy.  And it all comes back around…

 

R.E.M. Dream Sequence and Me Eating Crow

We finished the first 6 pages of the R.E.M. graphic novel and Zsombor is penciled up to page 14.  In the story, which deals with sleep and the creation of a sleep chamber, there are a few times when the lead falls asleep and dreams about his lost love. My idea was to use a different artist for those sequences to really have them stand out as being different. There are about 5 or so of them and I thought it would add a nice touch to the book. We did it with Harbor Moon for John’s Tome and it worked well. Zsombor had another idea – he would ink the dreams a bit more scribbly/blurrier. However, he didn’t just say it.  He did it.

And I have to say, it is pretty awesome.

Movie Review: Adventures of Tin-Tin, The

Seeing The Adventures of Tin-Tin just a few days after Rango, I couldn’t help but be excited for the future of cinema.  The things filmmakers are able to accomplish visually through technically and craftsmanship is astounding. Although I think Verbinski left more of a personal stamp on his film, Steven Spielberg is no slouch and this thing is jaw-dropping at a visual level.

I listened to an interview with Spielberg and fellow producer Peter Jackson, who both made it clear that the most important thing to them in the animation process were the eyes.  And that giving the eyes life was the difference between being creeped out and a fulfilling experience.  I have to say – they nailed it.  There were some shots of this movie where I could have sworn I was watching a live action film.  It was just gorgeous and so incredibly real.

If there was one downfall it was in the story; it just wasn’t that exciting.  Spielberg isn’t just a master craftsman, he is the master craftsman.  So all of the action, settings and characters are top notch. There were some nice character moments and I particularly liked Captain Haddock, but the whole time watching this I felt like I was watching Indiana Jones-light.  Tin-Tin was never in much danger and the stakes never seemed to be all that high.

I don’t believe this film would offer much on a repeat viewing and in a few years when the rest of the world catches up to masters like Spielberg and Jackson, this film may look pedestrian.  However, right now, it is breathtaking and well worth seeing in theaters at least once.

Top 10 Films of 2011

I know, I know… we are 17 days into 2012.  But I was waiting for the co-host of my film podcast to get back from vacation to do our Best of 2011 podcast.  As that gets ready to air this Wednesday I am going to post my Top 10 films here.

Honorable Mentions

  • Super 8
  • Captain America
  • Midnight in Paris
  • Moneyball
  • Tree of Life
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Fast Five
  • The Adventures of Tin-Tin
  • Limitless
  • Ides of March
  • Insidious
All in all I thought it was a strong year for movies.  Some of the big blockbusters were a lot of fun, such as my #1 film, Captain America, Tin-Tin and Super 8.  And the arthouse films gave you more than enough to chew on.  Let me also say I have yet to see Shame, A Dangerous Method, Cedar Rapids, Beginners, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Our Idiot Brother.  So if I like them they will fall on my 2012 list.