Saturday, November 29, 2014

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens- Teaser Trailer (2015) (NR)

Not much to go on. Looks pretty. Millennium Falcon shot was the highlight. I'm still in. Too soon to say if it's good or not. Let's just take it one day at a time, people. Feel free to give your opinions... Discuss.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cuban Fury (2014) (R)

Director: James Griffiths
Starring: Nick Frost, Rashida Jones, Chris O'Dowd, Ian McShane
Rated: R

Normally, I am not the kind of man who would sit down to watch a film about dancing (unless, of course, given carte blanche to ridicule said film by my better half), but I had a feeling about the Salsa Comedy Cuban Fury (2014). With a cast consisting of some of the best the boys across the pond have to offer in Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead 2004), Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids 2011), and the ever compelling Ian McShane (Deadwood). Drop in the adorable Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation) and you have a very solid cast who are masters at comic timing. I first became aware of this movie a few months ago watching trailers one afternoon on my computer. Looked funny, never heard about it again, then it popped up on Netflix Streaming. One boring afternoon, my best gal and I sat down to give it a gander and had a really great time with it.

The story revolves around Bruce (played well by Frost), a former youth Salsa dance champion, who quit after a scarring event made him turn in his dance shoes. Now working as an industrial machine designer, he goes unnoticed by his co-workers. With the exception of Drew (a great turn as the heel for O'Dowd, often known for playing nice guys), the smarmy, fast talker of the office who has made a game out of humiliating Bruce every chance he gets. Never having any motivation to fight back before, enter Julia (Jones), the new head of their department and Salsa dance enthusiast. With both men seeking her affection, Bruce realizes that his only hope for love is to get back on the dance floor.

Now, one might read that and think, "Seen the whole boy meets girl and has to dance for her love crap before." But you'd be wrong. This my friends, is how you make a date movie. It has the sweetness of a chick flick that the ladies love and the gross out conversations about certain male bodily fluids being strew about that the men will find brilliant. In some messed up way, they crafted a film that one could watch with their mother, dad, significant other and pervy cousin Stew and still everyone will dig it. The comedy is funny, nothing special but keeps you laughing. The dance numbers are often comical but well choreographed when the real dancing starts, and the cast is likable. It's just a good, solid movie. Nothing more, nothing less.

So, you're bored on a lazy Sunday and looking for a fun watch, then may I suggest Cuban Fury. Es muy bueno! (thank you Google Translate)

Eat your heart out Jennifer Beals

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Future Predictions- Cooties (2014) (NR)

While dorking around the interwebs recently, I happened upon the plot line for a new film starring Elijah Wood. It was one of those movie ideas that is so silly that it just might work if put in the right hands. In my hast to locate a trailer for said picture, I was denied. So, with nothing but a poster and plot to go on, I have decide to start a new segment on the Mock Films Blog this week. Welcome to Future Predictions. Where I take what little I know about a project and see if I can predict if it will live up to it's pitch upon a future viewing. And with that I give you Cooties (2014) (not literally, It's just the name of the flick. Relax)

Cooties revolves around a school teacher (Elijah Wood) who is forced into a fight for his life when the students of the school become bloodthirsty killers due to a virus. Teaming up with fellow surviving educators, they try to escape the pint-sized horrors roaming the halls. 

The idea is a strong one. And the poster reminds me of the campy horror movie promos of the eighties. I think this could be a mean little picture with a ton of dark humor poured in. Co-starring Rainn Wilson and Alison Pill, the production has a ton of promise. But it is directed by two new commers i. the game, Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, so there is truly no scale to Really base this on. Guess we'll just have to wait and see. Stupid internet, not having a trailer. I though we lived in the future? oh, I'm sorry, internet. How can I stay mad at you? 

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night- Official Trailer (2014) (NR)

I just viewed the trailer for A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, the first Iranian/Vampire/Spaghetti Western ever made. Yeah, you heard correctly. And it is produced by Elijah Wood to boot. What more do you need to know? Give it a gander and let me know know what you think. Cheers.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Arachnophobia (1990) (PG-13)

Director: Frank Marshall
Starring: Jeff Daniels, Harely Jane Kozak, John Goodman, Julan Sands, Stewart Pankin
Rated: PG-13

Netflix has been throwing a slew of films into the streaming ethos lately that I remember loving in my youth (I'm in my thirties as i write this so you do the math) and I aim to see how they hold up against my preteen memories. I chose this flick because I remember it being a big deal and everyone went to see it in my neighborhood. Arachnophobia (1990) was hardly the Jaws (1975) of my generation, but being produced by Steven Spielberg helps put the picture in the wheelhouse. Does it hold up? We shall see.

Dr. Ross Jennings (Daniels), a general practitioner, wine enthusiast, and (you guessed it) arachnophobic, moves his city family to the a small town of Canaima, California to take over when the town's doctor retires from his practice. But his idyllic plans are sidetracked when a new species of spider makes its way from South America to the small community. Breeding with domesticated house arachnids, a new breed of seemingly harmless spiders are unleashed on the town. When the sweet but stern matriarch dies mysteriously, Jennings is blamed for her death due to misdiagnosis. Shunned by the town, Jennings begins to investigate the odd deaths of several other residents and soon discovers that the one thing he fears most is taking over Canaima. With the help of the local pest control expert (played memorably by John Goodman), Jennings tries to stop the eight-legged plague before it's too late.

Now, I remember liking this film very much when I was a lad, but I don't remember it taking so long to get to the punch. This film drags during the first act, trying to set up a lot of back-story. Not the worst thing in the world but it does get tiresome. The script is well written and could have easily gone towards the schlocky end of the spectrum but manages to keep the premise as highbrow as it can for the subject matter they where dealing with. I liked it, but a few edits could have kept this piece a bit tighter.

Practical effects abound throughout. A thing of beauty where you can find it these days. This is before the time of CG (anyone can do this badly on a home computer) effects and I saw it as a welcome change from what I have been fed over the last few years. Puppets, strings and elbow greased ingenuity helps to bring the feeling of fuzzy spider legs closing in on you to true fruition. It would have to be my favorite part of this strange little picture.

So how does Arachnophobia hold up to the cynical's test of time? It's a very watchable film. Not as good as I remember, but if you really want to be picky just skip ahead to the spider scenes and you won't be disappointed. Slow but well written, I say give it watch. If only for John Goodman, he's always worth it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The 'Burbs (1989) (PG)

Director: Joe Dante
Starring: Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher, Corey Feldman, Rick Ducommun, Henry Gibson
Rated: PG

Alright kids, time to jump into the Wayback Machine and watch a blast from the past. We are going back to a time before Tom Hanks was only seen as Oscar gold and wasn't afraid to go for the gut laugh. If you don't know of this time that I speak then ask your dad and watch this weeks slice of late eighties fun called The 'Burbs. This film is reminiscent of so many films of that time. Weird, off the wall flicks that seem like a stoner fantasy but for some reason, the kismet was there and they work. They shouldn't, but they do.

Driected by Joe Dante (Oh, you know we are going to visit the Gremlins, both 1 and 2, at a later date), The 'Burbs takes all of the old tropes of nosy neighbors and builds a slapstick horror around it. Ray Peterson (Hanks) is off from work and becomes obsessed with the strange new neighbors, the Klopecks, with a fair amount of goading from his friends (played hilariously by Rick Ducommun and Mock Films Blog alum Bruce Dern). With little or nothing to do with their free time, the three buddies spy on the eccentric activities of the new residents, like digging up their own yard in the dead of night or the odd noises emanating from their basement. As the strange behavior continues next door, one of the members of the block disappears mysteriously, adding to the speculation from Ray and his cohorts that the Klopecks may be a family of serial killers. What follows is a well crafted, keep you guessing mystery which brings genuine laughs to the audience.

I will admit that I had not watch this film in a couple of years and wanted to see it with fresh eyes in hopes that it holds up. Glad to tell you, it does. Hanks is amazing. One forgets that he cut his teeth in comedy and has a gift for physical gags and pinpoint timing. Carrie Fisher, Bruce Dern and even Cory Feldman all have moments that will keep you laughing, despite the dark subject matter. The jokes are sharp and everyone gets a chance to swim in the comedy pool.

I'm recommending The 'Burbs, if only because we don't get treated to out of the box style films as often these days. It was like the studio said, "Here take some cash and do what you want. We trust you." And I'm happy they did because I miss these strange little flicks of yesteryear. I may just have to give Joe Versus The Volcano (1990) another watch. Oh, wait. Another film that Tom Hanks is being funny in. See a pattern yet? I miss Tom Hanks making me laugh in places other than Twitter. But alas, I may just have to re-watch Bachelor Party (1984) to get my 'Funny Hanks' fix. But do watch The 'Burbs, it's amazing. Enjoy.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Scribbler (2014) (R)

Director: John Suits
Starring: Katie Cassidy, Garret Dillahunt, Michelle Trachtenberg, Michael Imperioli, Eliza Dushku
Rated: R

I found this flick while screening random trailers online and boy howdy did it peak my interest. The Scribbler (2014) from the trailer is the sort of film that makes you want to see it simply because you're not quite sure what the hell it was you just watched, and you want some more. (Also, I will watch anything with Garret Dillahunt. The man's great in everything.) Then you see the cast (Katie Cassidy, Garret Dillahunt, Michelle Trachtenberg, Michael Imperioli, Eliza Dushku, Gina Gershon, and Sasha Grey) and you say to yourself "This movie will either be the next thing I drive my friends crazy to watch or I will want to forget it ever happened." So, how did I like this movie? Keep reading, slacker.

Based on the graphic novel created by Dan Schaffer (who also adapted the screenplay), The Scribbler is as follows, Suki (Katie Cassidy), a young woman who suffers from multiple personality disorder, has been using a treatment called The Siamese Burn to kill off her multiples one at a time. It's a trippy form of electro shock which can be self administered with a portable version of the machine. ('Cause that's a good idea.) After much improvement, Suki is placed in a living facility for recovering mental patients who can live on their own while under observation. There she is met by a menagerie of interesting female characters each with an interesting quirk. Suki also starts up a "friendly" relationship with the buildings resident lothario, Hogan (Garret Dillahunt). Cured from his condition, Hogan decided to stay longer so he could swoon the ladies who come in and out of the facility, until that is, that they begin falling to their deaths one by one. Taken in for questioning, Suki begins to struggle with her most puzzling multiple, The Scribbler. A personality that communicates only through writing, The Scribbler begins to act erratically cryptic, forcing Suki to wrestle with the idea that her last treatment could possibly erase her real personality leaving The Scribbler to take over. There is a ton more but I don't want to give away too much. (And if I tried to explain it my ears might start to smoke.)

The Scribbler looks cool. The visuals are very stark, with small bursts of color to bring out a surreal tone. The story suffers from one shortcoming, however. It talks to the audience as if we know what is happening throughout, but you'll find yourself doing a bit of head scratching from time to time. Not a huge fault, but it tends to make one feel a bit left out of the film. Secondly, the acting in the supporting cast is very straight forward and none of them get to stray away from their stereotypes for very long, if at all. I will say though, the leads are written really well. Katie Cassidy does a fine job. From her mannerisms to her look, she keeps Suki believable. And refreshingly, she pulls off tough without overstepping into cliché territory, mixing in a soft touch to her fractured character. And not to beat a dead horse but Garret Dillahunt steals the show in this. He brings a likable quality to a hard to like character (Again, the man is great in everything). If I had one other complaint it would be the third act. The mystery is not all that interesting and has little to do with Suki's plight. Other than that, I am done complaining.

Grey Area. That's funny.
This film falls into a grey area for me. I did enjoy much of what it had to offer, but a couple of tweaks here and there could have made this movie great. In summation, eye candy. Check. Good concept. Check. Tight story. Not so much. Watchable. Yeah, I'd recommend it, but don't get your hopes up too high. Just shut your head off and see how you feel at the end. It's not the worst trip I've ever been on.

I'm telling you. He's great in everything.