Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Movie Review: Django Unchained

For any of you who think I have a severe Quentin Tarantino bias, let me just say that I disliked "Death Proof."

Now that that's out of the way, "Django Unchained" may have just stolen the top ten list of the year in one fell swoop. It may lack the audacious perfection of "Inglourious Basterds," however this messy masterpiece is bold and brilliant in its own right.

"Django Unchained" rightfully opens with the theme music from 1966's "Django," a film that is similar with this Django only in name. This is the first time that Quentin has made a Western that actually takes place in the appropriate era and locale. This is not modern-day Los Angeles, Tokyo, or Nazi-Occupied France. This is Texas in the years just before the Civil War.

Django (Jamie Foxx), a quiet slave with a sharp tongue and a deadly grin, is freed by Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Foxx is fantastically deadpan and unpredictable as Django. Unsurprisingly, Waltz displays his incredible way with words as the verbose dentist-turned-bounty hunter. There is a giant tooth on top of his carriage. I don't why any of that is important, but it sure is funny.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Movie Review: This Is 40

Comedies aren't supposed to be over two hours long. Then again, Judd Apatow is a very ambitious guy. He likes to let his camera run long, and he doesn't shut it off until he feels like he's ready to shut it off. "This Is 40," which clearly comes from a very personal place, at first made me want to check my watch. However, once the credits began to roll, I realized that I wouldn't have minded if it ran a little longer.

"This is 40" is a "sort-of sequel" to "Knocked Up." It would be better labeled as a spinoff, a title which is usually reserved for television. It takes the struggling married couple Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) and their two daughters Sadie (Maude Apatow) and Charlotte (Iris Apatow) and puts them into their own little world. Pete desperately finds ways to escape. He's given up on his fantasy baseball league and seems more content sitting on the toilet with his iPad. Debbie, meanwhile, is fed up with feeling under appreciated and keeping everything together on her own. Naturally, this causes some problems.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Movie Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


It took just one musical cue from "The Hobbit" to remind me why I fell in love with the "Lord of the Rings" series in the first place. Perhaps it has been widespread anger on the Internet that's given me nothing but low expectations for "The Hobbit." The result is better than I thought it would be: it's a movie that's all over the place, but one that is very good at being all over the place.

Seeing as the film version of "The Hobbit" was released after the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Peter Jackson gets to give us some nice little winks to a series that ended nine years ago, especially with some surprise cameos. "An Unexpected Journey," the first part of this "Hobbit" trilogy, opens with a long prologue providing more details on the history of Middle Earth. To be honest, I wouldn't have minded if this prologue went on longer. It gave even more life and depth to this imaginary world. From the perspective of someone who didn't read the books, "The Hobbit" succeeds best when it is providing small details and expanding the mythology of Middle Earth. With that, this movie has a true purpose.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top 10: TV Shows of 2012


10. 30 Rock

"30 Rock" hit a bit of a rough patch at the beginning of 2012. However, it bounced back for its seventh and final season and has turned out some of its best episodes in years. Most notably, this season saw Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) finally tying the knot in a wedding that was both moving and wacky in a way that only "30 Rock" could deliver. "30 Rock" is one of the best heirs to the sitcoms of the 70s with its fearlessness in tackling race, political, and gender issues for huge laughs. In fact, it ended the ridiculous "are women funny?" debate with a monkey wearing a suit. No other show on TV can deliver so many jokes in such a short span of time. "30 Rock" might be winding down, but the many doors it opened for the flood of single-camera comedies that have emerged over the years will always be present.


9. Archer

"Archer" is far and away the best animated show on TV. A spy spoof that puts "Austin Powers" to shame, "Archer" proved that its spectacular first two seasons were just a warmup for how perfect season three would be. Few comedies currently on TV have plots as smart and intricate as "Archer" does, whether the bumbling heroes are trying to get rid of a dead body or fight villains in outer space. What makes "Archer" so unique is the neat little backstories it gives to all of its characters, which expanded in ever satisfying ways this season. For example, Archer's constant literary references suggest someone much smarter than he acts. "Archer," however, never has to hide its sophistication. It continues to be one of the sharpest satires currently on TV.


8. Homeland

I was a late convert to "Homeland," and I am not ashamed to say that I caught up in less than one week. "Homeland" hit a bit of a rough patch this season. However, those who immediately jumped ship need to learn a thing or two about TV history, and that "Homeland" is in the same company as some pretty great shows that have had faulty seasons and then bounced back. Even in the implausibility, there has still been plenty to love about season two. The show made a pretty risky story move early on and then built it up to an interrogation scene that was one of the most finely acted and scripted in TV history. However, this season went through a few big bumps in the road. One was literal (a car accident that was worth it only for allowing actress Morgan Saylor to shine) while others were illogical (see: Skyping with a terrorist on a Blackberry). Yet, I was still compelled to watch "Homeland" from week to week, and discuss with every other fan I knew. Many other shows have gone through rough patches early on, and I have faith in where next season will take us.


7. Happy Endings

The funniest show currently airing on network TV (while another one is still in an overlong hiatus) is also the most underrated. "Happy Endings" took the concept of "twenty/thirty-something friends" in a big city to insane new heights throughout seasons two and three. It does self-referential better than most shows on TV, and it knows when to be over-the-top and when to be human. "Happy Endings" doesn't just succeed in its endless mocking of sitcom tropes, but also how natural the ensemble feels together. Often, it just feels like a tight-knit improv group going crazy in whatever direction they desire. Plus, it has my favorite married couple on TV (Brad and Jane) and the most hilariously non-stereotypical gay character since "The Sarah Silverman Program." In the vein of "30 Rock," "Happy Endings" could probably cram more funny into five minutes than most shows ever could in an entire season.

I think it's the pronunciation that sold me.

6. Game of Thrones

2012 was the year I got back into fantasy. "Game of Thrones" was one of the many shows this year that helped push the medium forward, as it pushed its own storytelling ambitions in new directions and away from its source material. It truly blurred the difference between film and television with the episode "Blackwater," which contained a battle as epic as anything in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. What I always liked best about "Game of Thrones" is that even when it travels into the territory of dragons and the undead, it still remains incredibly grounded, as this story is much more of a political allegory than a battle of good versus evil. If "Game of Thrones" has proved anything to me, it's that moral ambiguity is way more interesting than battles of absolute good against absolute evil. Without it, where the hell else would we get amazing characters like Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Cersei (Lena Headey) Lannister, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), and Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson)? Well, I think I know how everyone feels about Joffrey.

joffrey slap

View the top 5 after the jump

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Top 5: Stand-Up Specials of 2012

My interests have taken me in a weird, unexpected place in the past few months. Since last summer, I have found myself greatly exploring and obsessing over comedy. It is something that I've always liked my whole life, but never thought I could actually see myself becoming a disciple of. But after an improv class and a few shots at standup at various open mics (they are hard to come by in Upstate New York), that is starting to change. I find quotes from Louis C.K. floating around in my head as often as lines of dialogue from "Pulp Fiction."

Many believe you can't overanalyze comedy too much. This is true. Sometimes, you can't explain laughter. However, I believe you can mine out deeper meaning in comedy. Stand-Up began to change in my eyes as I began to watch and listen to entire albums. The more you do that, the more you pay attention to themes and transitions as well as jokes. Here I have a list of five stand-up specials from this year that shocked me, moved me, made me think, and most importantly made me laugh uncontrollably:

5. Animal Furnace (Hannibal Buress)


Like the great show he once wrote for ("30 Rock"), Hannibal Buress is a joke-spewing machine. "Animal Furnace" is Buress' second hour-long special, and his next leap into becoming one of the funniest people in America. Buress has honed his act beyond just a lot of jokes and he proves that he is a fantastic storyteller. He mocks himself a lot for being overly angry about a lot of issues that don't matter, but the first few tracks have some pretty thorough takedowns of TSA agents and a bunch of cops in Montreal who gave him a ticket for jaywalking. Then his beat-by-beat commentary on an article written about him at a college that he performed at shows that he would make a great roastmaster. Many have compared Buress' voice and delivery to that of Mitch Hedberg. It's an apt comparison: Buress can pick apart the mundane and make it funny in ways you never imagined.



4. The Special Special Special (Maria Bamford)

If I ever meet Maria Bamford, I'd like to give her a hug, because she seems likes the nicest person imaginable. She's also one of the funniest and most original comedians of our time. Bamford's latest special, appropriately and hilariously titled In "The Special Special Special," Bamford doesn't perform in a theater, or even a comedy club, but rather in her own home, with an audience made up of only her parents. I have never seen stand-up so dependent on the audience's reaction. Bamford goes through her usual manic routine of impersonations, which is made even more awkward by the fact that the targets of much of her ridicule are sitting right in front of her. Then, Bamford goes into darker territory than ever before, as she chronicles her ongoing battle with Depression in a way that is both funny and inspiring. In a few meta moments, she completely stops the show so she can go to the bathroom, take cookies out of the oven, and give her beloved pug his medicine. With her stand-up, Bamford invites us into her brain. With "The Special Special Special," she invites us to be a part of her life. Buy it here




See the top 3 after the jump:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Top 5: Most Anticipated Holiday Movies

December is an exciting time. Not only because everyone is decorating their trees, lighting their Menorahs, or doing whatever people who celebrate Kwanza do. This is the time when studios release the very best films they have to offer. Often, the closer we get to the Oscars, the better the quality of movies get, until the dumping ground season of January begins. Here now is my list of films that will make December 2012 memorable, even if the world doesn't end:

5. Les Miserables

I've never been a big fan of musicals, but the history buff in me really wants to see a big, epic musical about the French Revolution. I never saw "Les Miserables" on Broadway, but seeing that the French Revolution was not a very happy time in world history, this definitely won't be a musical where people sing and dance and suddenly all of their problems disappear. A song certainly can't stop a guillotine. "Les Miserables" is directed by Tom Hooper. I still think it's unfair that his "The King's Speech" beat out both "Black Swan" and "The Social Network" for Best Picture, but that guy truly has a gift for bringing the past to life.


Coming to Theaters: December 28



4. Not Fade Away

"Not Fade Away" is David Chase's directorial debut in film. If you don't know who David Chase is, you really should: he created "The Sopranos." "Not Fade Away" brings him back to New Jersey, and even reunites Chase with the state of New Jersey Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) himself. But those expecting a profanity-laden tale of gangsters might be disappointed, as this is instead a coming-of-age story about a rock and roll band. I saw another coming-of-age story about a band earlier this year  called "Fat Kid Rules the World." I was thoroughly disappointed by it, but I have a feeling that "Not Fade Away" will be infinitely better. It has "Almost Famous" potential. Plus, with a title inspired by a Rolling Stones song, it seems that "Not Fade Away" has its head in the right place.


Coming to Theaters: December 21



View the top 3 after the jump:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Movie Review: Skyfall

Now, this was the James Bond I've been waiting for. Or, more accurately, I didn't know there would be a James Bond quite like this.

After 2006's masterful "Casino Royale" redefined the series, 2008's mediocre "Quantum of Solace" set it back another few years. 007 makes a major comeback yet again with "Skyfall." When James Bond was rebooted, the intention was to radically start England's greatest secret agent over from scratch. Now, everyone seems comfortable enough with Craig in the role to bring back some classic Bond tropes. I didn't realize how much I even missed them until "Skyfall."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Movie Review: Argo

Ben Affleck pulled off the impossible and made a movie about the making of a movie that isn't cheeky or ironic. Then again, it's hard to be overly ironic when the movie you're making is fake and you're dealing with a hostage crisis.

"Argo" plays perfectly like a classic thriller: it's smart, suspenseful, and fun. "Argo" is both an entertaining thriller and a disturbing document of a very bad time in history.

"Argo" is equal parts reenactment, documentary footage, and artistic license. It starts off with a nice refresher  on the past 60 years of Iranian history. In just about a minute, it makes much more sense out of what happened to that country than CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News ever could combined. It goes up to 1979, the year in which the Shah was overthrown and the Iranian Revolution began. Director Ben Affleck gives us a full fledged reenactment of the Iranians breaking into the US Embassy in Tehran. This scene would have felt overlong, if it wasn't so important to the rest of the story, and directed with nail-biting intensity.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Movie Review: Lincoln

How do you bring one of history's most famous and important people to life, when the only knowledge we have of them is from still photos and documents? Simple: bring in Daniel Day-Lewis. Not only can that guy act his way out of a paper bag, he would also spend an entire year studying the life of a paper bag in order to prepare for the performance.

"Lincoln," however, is the first time I've seen Daniel Day-Lewis in a performance that doesn't totally dominate every frame of the film. No, he is also guided by an impressive ensemble, who will surely take home the big ensemble prize at the SAG Awards.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Top 5: James Bond Movies

The jetpack from "Thunderball": the peak of bad special effects humor.
This weekend, "Skyfall" opens in theaters. "Skyfall" marks a remarkable 50 years of the existence of James Bond onscreen. Directed by Sam Mendes ("American Beauty," "Road to Perdition"), "Skyfall" has already been receiving early raves.

No matter how repetitive or ridiculous it gets, I will have a strong fondness for the Bond series. Thanksgivings of my childhood were usually marked by watching the Bond marathons on AMC or TNT (or whatever other network showed them) with my dad and brother. From my years of watching, I compiled a list of my favorite Bond films, building up to number one. Here are my five favorite Bond films:

5. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

It's hard to fill the shoes of Sean Connery, but I believe Roger Moore did as good a job at it as anyone could. This is my favorite Moore installment, and it certainly doesn't shy away from the Cold War inspired madness of the time. While the villain's objective of creating a new civilization under the ocean should be completely ludicrous, it doesn't feel as unrealistic in light of climate change. Plus it's got a hot Bond girl, and Jaws, one of the few villains in the Bond series who got to come back for another film. If only Oddjob didn't meet his end in "Goldfinger," him and Jaws would have made a great team of villains.



4. Dr. No (1962)

This is where it all began. Bond had much less weapons to use, so he mainly relied on his own cunning. And while ejecting car seats are cool, it's even cooler to see Bond having to use his own wits, like watching "Spider-Man" try and scale the city when his web blasters run out. And speaking of spiders, there's a great scene where Bond battles a tarantula, which has the kind of slow-burning suspense rarely seen in movies anymore. I had the distinct pleasure to go to a beach screening of "Dr. No" while at Cannes this summer. To say that "Dr. No" has aged is an understatement. To say that because of that "Dr. No" is no longer funny or exciting to watch would be a lie.


See my Top 3 after the jump:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Movie Review: Seven Psychopaths

This is one of my favorite movie stills of all time.
"Seven Psychopaths" is one of those film in which its title is also the title of the screenplay a character is writing in the film. However, it's not one of those films that just ends with the final scene being typed out, so we can take comfort in knowing that everything that just happened was only in some writer's head.

"Seven Psychopaths" is an insane deconstruction of action movies that I loved every minute of. Perhaps Hollywood has reached a tipping point when it comes to telling crime tales, and "Seven Psychopaths" is exactly what it needed to put it back in line. Meta films walk a very tight rope, and "Seven Psychopaths" manages to consistently stay in line.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Rosemary's Baby: My Favorite Horror Film

Three years ago, I released a list of the five best horror films in honor of Halloween. However, three years is a long time and I am certainly not the same person I was back then. Naturally, both my opinions and taste have changed since then.

In 2009, I hailed "The Silence of the Lambs" as the best horror film ever made. I admit that I have never been the biggest fan of horror films. Zombies and slashers have never quite done it for me. So I think it would be more appropriate to say that this new post is about my favorite horror film. Seeing as I have yet to watch "Night of the Living Dead," I don't feel totally qualified to judge which horror film is the absolute best ever made. While I still consider "The Silence of the Lambs" a masterpiece, I have come to realize that "Rosemary's Baby" is truly my favorite horror film of all time.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower


Usually, romances based on Smiths mixtapes and friendships based on vinyl collections* are on the list of things that annoy me most in movies. However, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" makes all these little obsessions feel authentic.

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is based on a novel that I now feel the need to read. This is a rare adaptation that was actually written for the screen by its original author. This is also the directorial debut for author Stephen Chbosky, who should spend more time directing movies in his future.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Movie Review: Looper

Director Rian Johnson is exactly what movies need. Perhaps the best way to break Hollywood out of cliche land is to play into the most typical of genre conventions and then turn them completely on their heads.

"Looper" must be the work of someone who doesn't finish until every little detail is drawn out, and every possible subplot comes full circle. There's a lot to get through and a lot to sort out, but the fact that the ending pulls it off in an unpredictable way makes it work all the better.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Seth MacFarlane to Host the Oscars

This morning, it was announced that Seth MacFarlane will be hosting this year's Oscars. While my thoughts on MacFarlane are always a little mixed*, for once I can say that the Academy made a smart choice.

I like MacFarlane as a person, and have a lot of respect for him. I cannot even fathom how he has three shows on television and still has time to write and direct a feature film. Also, he did a fine job hosting "SNL" this season, because the guy just looked like he had a blast being there.

In recent years, the Academy has seemed to have trouble figuring out what kind of host they want. With MacFarlane, they get it all: he can sing show tunes, dance around, do impressions, and tell jokes. While he connects primarily with a younger audience, he will also keep the older voters and guests entertained with his Sinatra-like singing.

I can now anticipate that the show will be less of a drag to watch this year. MacFarlane will certainly be more lively than James Franco, and fresher than Billy Crystal. Maybe this will open some doors and in the future we will get other multi-talented hosts such as Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon (who had to back out from hosting duties). Still, I am going to take this time to complain, because this is the Oscars, and the Oscars always come with something to complain about. Can the Academy ever get a host who will be sharp, funny, and a little provocative in the same way that Jon Stewart was? Could someone like Louis C.K. or Patton Oswalt ever host? Only in my wildest dreams.

People Who Could Make Great Hosts in the Future: John Mulaney, Stephen Colbert, Conan O'Brien, Donald Glover, Tina Fey, Jon Hamm, Neil Patrick Harris

*On the one hand, Seth MacFarlane created "Family Guy," which had three of the best seasons of any animated show ever. On the other hand, Seth MacFarlane also ruined "Family Guy." And again, on the other hand, he created "American Dad," a show which is consistently underrated.

Here's MacFarlane's Spot-On Ryan Lochte Impression:



One of my favorite "Family Guy" moments ever. I can only imagine this is how MacFarlane felt upon hearing the good news:


Monday, September 24, 2012

Analog This: My 2012 Emmy Winners

I think everything that can be said about the many problems with last night's Emmys has already been said. Instead of ranting about Jon Cryer and "Modern Family" ruining everything, I will just say that I am happy that Louis C.K. got rewarded both for changing standup comedy and pulling off perhaps the greatest fart joke ever and making it last for an entire episode.

Here are my winners for the best the year had to offer in television. Keep in mind that many of these people and shows weren't even nominated for Emmys this year (after the jump):

Movie Review: The Master

"The Master" has already been hailed as a masterpiece by many. I don't know if that word is exactly right. It is too confounding and too hard to solve in one viewing to already be hailed as a work so perfect that it dwarfs all other films that come near it. The whole thing is like a dream you're trying to recall: it's messy and sometimes hard to fully piece together, but it is ultimately engrained in memory.

"The Master" opens up at the end of World War II, as Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) cruises listlessly on a battleship returning home from the Pacific. Like the beginning of Paul Thomas Anderson's previous feature "There Will Be Blood" (which deserves to be hailed as a masterpiece), "The Master" starts off quietly. We are asked to observe humans as if we are observing animals at a zoo. This is important, as the cult this film revolves around believes that humans and animals aren't too different.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Movie Review: Sleepwalk with Me

Even though "Sleepwalk with Me" focuses on bad relationships and near-death experiences, you may feel eerily comfortable. Mike Birbiglia reminds everyone in the first few seconds that we are watching a movie. He also tells us to turn our cell phones off. "Sleepwalk with Me" is like watching a very well directed standup special: the comedian will take you on this journey and no matter what is said, you will have to be on his side or get out.

Birbiglia's life story is funny, interesting, and inspiring enough to have been turned into a one man show, podcast episode, book, and now a movie. The story has worked in every form. Birbiglia uses film to its fullest advantage to capture some of the best and worst parts of this time in his life, and he proves himself to be as skilled of a director as he is a writer and comedian.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Top 6 Most Anticipated Fall Films

6. Argo

Surprisingly, Hollywood is very accepting of stars who reinvent themselves. After the bomb that shall not be named (but I'll do it anyway: "Gigli"), Ben Affleck established himself as a fine director with "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Town." In "The Town," he showed that he also isn't bad in front of the camera. And now comes "Argo," which has earned rave reviews at the Toronto Film Festival. "Argo" takes Affleck out of Boston, as he makes his first foray into historical drama. It's about the recently uncovered CIA mission to use a fake movie as a way to get into Iran and free the Americans taken hostage in 1979. It's a story that sounds almost too fascinating to be true. "Argo" looks like a smart political thriller that I'll enjoy because it speaks in a language that I can understand: movies. Also, Bryan Cranston is in it. Unless he decides to star in "Rock of Ages 2,"* he can do no wrong in my book.

Coming To Theaters: October 12


5. Looper

Director Rian Johnson is skilled at toying with genre conventions ("Brick"). I can't wait to see what he has in store for science fiction. The concept of "Looper" is already boggling my brain, yet the idea of Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing a younger Bruce Willis is kind of brilliant.** I am always prepared for disappointment  but I am envisioning this being a film along the same line as "Blade Runner" and "Minority Report." Both of those films were misunderstood upon their original releases, but gained future followings. I am hoping that "Looper" breaks through in a big way, because Hollywood still needs to see that original ideas can succeed. No matter what happens, I believe "Looper" is the kind of film that will get better and make more sense upon repeated viewings.

Coming To Theaters: September 28


4. Seven Psychopaths

It's been four long years since Martin McDonough's brilliant debut feature "In Bruges." His sophomore effort, "Seven Psychopaths," looks just as twisted and funny but with less existential dread. "Seven Psychopaths" takes us into the underworld of dognapping, which I didn't even know existed. While its poster is very similar to the poster for "Snatch," I believe this one will be nowhere near the same, as McDonough isn't just constantly trying to rip off Tarantino. Plus, it boasts a nearly perfect cast that includes Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, and Sam Rockwell. No word on whether or not, like "In Bruges," this one will also include a midget being karate chopped. I will say that I have no idea what will happen in this movie, and that unpredictability is what will make it so fun.

Coming To Theaters: October 8



See the top 3 after the jump:


Monday, September 3, 2012

Analog This: Breaking Bad and the Crystal Blue Side of the American Dream

"Now you're looking for the secret. But you won't find it because of course, you're not really looking. You don't really want to work it out. You want to be fooled." 
-The Prestige

As always, SPOILER ALERT.

Could there have been a more perfect song to put into a "Breaking Bad" episode than "Crystal Blue Persuasion"? I wonder how long Vince Gilligan was waiting to use that song, because tonight's episode, "Gliding Over All" seemed like the perfect place for it. Tonight, it was more apparent than ever why Walter White's crystal blue meth is both the best and worst thing to ever happen to him.

"Gliding Over All" was one of the most important and exciting episodes of the series, which I tend to say about almost every episode. However, this one was different than most "Breaking Bad" episodes. Most episodes tend to pick their pace wisely. One week we will get an action packed thriller and the next week will be slow-burning exposition and character work. However, the mid-season finale gave us a little bit of both.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Analog This: It's Not Just About Walt This Time

Just in case this wasn't the first thing to cross your mind: SPOILER ALERT

"Breaking Bad" is the closest thing to must see TV that exists during a time where seeing a program live doesn't really matter to most people anymore. While watching it live is not mandatory, it is certainly an event. To me, watching live television has often felt like finding out some amazing secret before anyone else does. And finding it out at the same time as a certain chunk of the country that I've never met before felt like a strange bonding experience.

This right there is the beauty of television, and with TV changing so rapidly, "Breaking Bad" deserves to be the poster boy for a new era. It earned it long ago, and it certainly looks like it has no intention of ever giving that title up. It is not earned by Nielsen ratings, but rather by pure quality. Just like Walter White, it has crushed its competition just by being the best at what it does.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Analog This: A Blockbuster Summer for TV; Maybe Less so for Movies


No one can deny it at this point: there is something wrong at the movies. Tentpoles and remakes just won't seem to go away. A good movie feels like a treat that is too good for its own good. There is good hope when something like "Moonrise Kingdom" can find an audience. However, when even Batman can't deliver, there must be a problem. However, one place I couldn't find a problem this summer was on television. While film has already broken down so many barriers, TV is just figuring out how to do the same thing.

This summer (well, it's been a long time in the making), cable and basic cable networks have nailed the formula down and created an entertainment experience that can sometimes rival even a great film. Now that everyone has a DVR box and access to the internet, shows can carry long stories in ways they never could in the past. Here are the shows that created a Blockbuster summer for the likes of AMC, FX, and HBO, amongst others:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Movie Review: Celeste and Jesse Forever

"When we can't change a situation, we're forced to change ourselves."

Leave it to the Sundance sweetheart to give us hope about love while strumming the tune of "Love Stinks." "Celeste and Jesse Forever" is the first foray into screenwriting by actress Rashida Jones (and writing partner Will McCormack). If Ms. Jones decided to quit her day job, I wouldn't mind, as she's found herself a great new talent.

The opening of "Celeste and Jesse" almost had me groaning, as its opening looked like a slideshow made on Instagram, or a book called "What Hipsters in Love Do." Luckily, the rest of "Celeste and Jesse" is neither of those things. Rather, "Celeste and Jesse" is something of a chameleon. At first sight Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) seem like a perfectly happy, perfectly sane couple. However, what they are doing is not at all normal, as they are actually getting divorced. The first scene, in which the two of them playfully fight over a cigarette in the car is so well done that it totally through me off once the big revelation came around.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Movie Review: Ruby Sparks

"Ruby Sparks" begins with the most terrifying moment in any writer's life: the moment of staring down a blank page. It is also an exciting moment, because a story is about to be born. But, it is more terrifying because now you have to think of ideas, and a lot of them will end up being terrifying.

If this quirky (that's a very good word to use here) film does anything right, it is capturing what it feels like to create a unique character, and then have the character and story engulf your own life, and become a part of it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Movie About Dognapping You've Always Dreamed Of: Seven Psychopaths Trailer

I only post trailers for movies when it is something I am irrationally excited for and have irrationally high expectations for.

Today, the trailer for "Seven Psychopaths," the new film from Martin McDonagh, was released. McDonagh's last film was his 2008 directorial debut "In Bruges" which remains one of my favorite films of the past five years. "Seven Psychopaths" has McDonagh re-teaming with Colin Farrell, whose abilities as a comedic actor remain severely underrated. It also stars Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken, who are two of my favorite actors, as well as Woody Harrelson, who I like most of the time. It also has Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) sitting on a toilet, just in case you were dying to know what that looks like.

The story seems to revolve around criminals who kidnap people's dogs, return them, and then collect the reward money. "Seven Psychopaths" could be somewhat less dark than "In Bruges," if there are as many animal reaction shots in it as the trailer seems to portend. However, based on "Bruges," McDonagh is not one who will let criminals get away with their wrongdoings unscathed.

Are you as excited for "Seven Psychopaths" as I am? Have you seen "In Bruges" yet? If your answer to the latter question is no, go rent it right away. Watch the trailer for "Seven Psychopaths" below:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Analog This: Breaking Bad a.k.a. The One Where They Rob a Train

SPOILERS AHEAD!

This week's episode of "Breaking Bad," entitled "Dead Freight," once again proved that the show that is never bad just keeps on getting better.

Obviously, somebody had to pull out the Jesse James comparison once the only solution to the methylamine shortage turned out to be a train robbery. This is not surprising, as Walt is starting to believe more and more that he is Jesse James. Here is someone who will push it to the very end without the fear of death. Maybe it's time something bad happened to him, something that will finally make Heisenberg cease to exist. And that final straw may have come loose tonight.

Each season of "Breaking Bad" reminds me of the Tortoise: slow to start, taking its time at the beginning, and then taking off and not stopping. Tonight was like the taking off point kicking things into high gear. This momentum should get us through the remainder of this final season.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Movie Review: The Campaign

"The Campaign" didn't necessarily need to exist. Jay Roach could have just shot footage of Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis together in the same room, and I still would have bought the ticket. However, the fact that "The Campaign" gives them a purpose makes it all the better.

At this point, political satire has nailed down all of the main points pretty well: politicians will do anything they can to win, and they will also take any excuse to label their opponents as Communists. But the devil is truly in the details, and the challenge is in finding ways to make stale jokes seem fresh. The best example might be when Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) accidentally punches a baby in the face. The baby punching isn't the funniest part; the fact that the scene is played out in slow-motion really seals the deal. And here I thought that showing the clip on every single talk show would make it less funny in the actual movie.

At the beginning of "The Campaign," Ferrell's Brady is going around telling everyone from auto workers to Filipino amusement park ride operators that they are the "backbone of America." Political junkies will be surprised by how well versed writers Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell in American political jargon. This isn't quite "The West Wing" penned by comedy writers ("Parks & Rec" and "Veep" are more in that league). It's more like if "Step Brothers" focused on a bunch of Washington insiders. That is very high compliment.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Movie Review: Jeff, Who Lives at Home

Finally, a slacker "comedy" where no one utters the words, "what are you going to do with your life?" Instead, there is a fair heaping of "get your ass of the couch." I find this much more reasonable and realistic.

"Jeff, Who Lives at Home" is a nice film that's also more than a nice film. It's about a slacker, but it's also about a hero. To my greatest surprise, this is a refreshingly irony free ride.


Jeff (Jason Segel) is 30 and still living in the basement of his parents' house, which drives his widowed mother Sharon (Susan Sarandon) crazy. Jeff has but one simple task for the day: buy a new wooden panel for the broken door. Even this proves difficult for Jeff. While Jeff is a slacker, he certainly isn't lazy. Let's call him a very motivated stoner lost in his own little world.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bane: Before and After

Before seeing "The Dark Knight Rises," I thought that I would be pondering questions about morality and Batman's place in the world. Instead, I just wanted to know what Bane's (Tom Hardy) voice sounded like before Christopher Nolan altered it.

But thankfully, as it always is, YouTube was there to answer my prayers. Thanks to gangsterturk25 (I don't even want to know what that means), we can now know what Bane sounded like before and after. And while Bane was harder to understand in the original version, that voice still seemed so much more fitting. That is both because a man in a mask shouldn't be easy to understand, and Bane should be scary and unintelligible. His old voice sounds closer to Sauron and Darth Vader. His new voice, as many on the Internet have perfectly noticed, sounds like a less-than-stellar Sean Connery impression. And when he says "your punishment must be more severe," he sounds like an excited game show host announcing who the winner is. Believe me, Tom Hardy will impress you once "Lawless" comes out later this month.

Watch the video below. That opening plane crash sequence is so much more awesome when you forget about the fact that it has nothing to do with the rest of the movie.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The 2012 Sight & Sound Poll: Is Vertigo Really the Greatest Film of All Time?

Every ten years, the British Film Institute's Sight & Sound Magazine releases a list of the top ten films of all time. For every year from 1962 until 2002, Orson Welles's "Citizen Kane" was hailed as the greatest film ever made. And for the past fifty years, it has become conventional wisdom that "Citizen Kane" is indeed, the greatest film ever made.

This time around, Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" was crowned as the greatest film of all time from votes by 846 movie experts. I am not sure what constitutes a "movie expert" in BFI's eyes, but it certainly isn't Pete Hammond or Brett Ratner.

Now, I don't consider myself a complete movie expert just yet. I don't think I'm completely certified until I've seen at least one Robert Altman film that isn't "Popeye." I should also check out "Lethal Weapon" already. But I can say that "Vertigo" is an excellent film, and one that is worthy of the growing influence it has gained over the years. Most people probably don't remember that "Gigi" (just one letter off from being "Gigli") won Best Picture that year. However, no one will ever forget that "Vertigo" didn't even get nominated. As a filmmaker, getting a spot on a list is actually a much bigger honor than getting a chunk of gold in the shape of a naked bald dude.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Movie Review: Your Sister's Sister

"Your Sister's Sister" opens with an unusual eulogy. Jack's (Mark Duplass) brother Tom died one year earlier, and friends and family gather to honor him. But Jack isn't satisfied with all of the kind words, as Tom was a jerk who acted kind to get ahead. And for that, Jack respects him. This is mainly what "Your Sister's Sister" is: a lot of people talking about what they think is wrong about conventional wisdom. And if you can tell from this first scene that you won't like this, then you can get out.

In "Your Sister's Sister," the characters talk. And they talk. And then they talk some more. It is the very definition of Mumblecore. However, Mumblecore is a terrible name. The characters aren't mumbling and bumbling about nothing, they are actually having deeply thought out, entirely realistic conversations.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Welcome back, Batman.
"The Dark Knight Rises" will elicit hours worth of conversation. However, it won't be about the political subtext ripped from today's headlines as you might have expected. It will consist of a lot more pondering about where Christopher Nolan went wrong, and how the finale of a masterful saga could be such a dissapointment.


When Christopher Nolan first brought "Batman Begins" to the world, he was introducing a brand new Batman to a new generation of fans. Then, when "The Dark Knight" came out, he had made something unlike any action movie made before it. In "The Dark Knight Rises," he tends to rely on all of the uninspired tropes that he was once so good at ignoring. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Analog This: The Emmy Snubs of 2012

Emmy nominations came out this morning, and I'm celebrating them the same way I celebrate every awards ceremony: honoring those who didn't get nominated! Yes, I understand at this point that these awards ceremonies are all politics, but it's still fun to complain. 


I am going to do my best to be nice and not call out any specific, undeserving nominations right here. Instead, you can all get right to reading my list of the most egregious snubs after the jump:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Analog This: Live Free or Die, Breaking Bad Season 5 Premiere

You're not the boss of me now.
Warning: Spoilers ahead! So if you don't like spoilers (and based on the Internet buzz around "The Dark Knight Rises," I can tell that people really don't), read on with caution.

It is fitting that the first episode of the final season of "Breaking Bad" would begin the same way that the pilot did. In the pilot, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) looks at the number 50 spelled out in his bacon. In the season five premiere, entitled "Live Free Or Die," Walt was digging on swine and turning his bacon strips into the number 52. During this mysterious flash forward, Walt had aged two years and since that time, he has gone from caring, mild-mannered chemistry teacher to downright evil meth cooker Heisenberg.

I may not be qualified to say that "Breaking Bad" is the best drama ever on television. After all, I still haven't seen "The Wire," and I've only seen "Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under" episodes here and there. However, I can say this: "Breaking Bad" is the best drama I have ever seen on television, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Movie Review: Beasts of the Southern Wild

For a film about struggle after a hurricane, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is surprisingly as life affirming as it is tragic. Then again, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is the only film of its kind you'll see that also has prehistoric creatures randomly roaming around.

Hushpuppy, the six-year-old protagonist of "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is more curious than precocious. It's nice for a change to see a young lead who's willing to learn more about the world as opposed to simply thinking they know everything about it. As Hushpuppy, newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis is, as many before me have already said, a force of nature. Such a label is not an exaggeration. I will say this now so I don't have to repeat myself later: Wallis is on her way to becoming one of the youngest actresses ever to be nominated for an Oscar.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Movie Review: To Rome with Love

Besides a few new shooting locations, Woody Allen hasn't changed a lot during the span of his career. Not that he has to. Every one of his films open with the same white font against a black background as classical music plays. It never gets old.

"To Rome with Love" opens in this same way. However, this time around, classical music will become a pertinent part of the film. The film opens with a crossing guard on a busy street in Rome, who is the first narrator introduced. As is the typical narrator in a Woody Allen film, he directly addresses the camera while in front of it, instead of only existing as a voice offscreen. This makes sense, as Allen's films seem to be a way of letting his odd subconscious run wild. "To Rome with Love" doesn't come near the same territory that "Midnight in Paris" dwelled in, yet it is almost always exciting and funny. "To Rome with Love" is told in four vignettes which never interlock, and never should. Three of them thematically fit together. Another one is kind of just there and has just a few inventive moments. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

After the disaster of "Spider-Man 3," which all but destroyed the hero that made superheroes box office gold, the world wasn't exactly craving more Spider-Man. "The Amazing Spider-Man" isn't the superhero movie we needed, but we got it, and it's actually a stellar installment of the myth of a man in red spandex.

To compare "The Amazing Spider-Man" with Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" is to tiptoe on a tightrope, as saying that the new one is better than the old one would be potentially putting down something that I deeply cherish. "Spider-Man" was one of the first movies I watched multiple days in a row when it first arrived on DVD, and it spurred an interest in comic books that led me to a giant box full of them in the attic (benefits of having an older brother). But then again, what makes "The Amazing Spider-Man" work is its ability to build on and improve the flaws of its predecessors.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Top 5: Films to Watch on the Fourth of July

This list was almost going to be a list of the top 5 "America Movies." It made sense in my head, but not on paper. Then, it was going to be the most patriotic movies. However, every movie that came to mind seemed to involve Mel Gibson. Instead, I've decided to make a list that is a little bit of both. The following list contains films that may either evoke a deep sense of patriotsism, or just portray everything America is capable of in the best way possible (that can be in either a positive or negative light). Some involve criminals, bloodshed, and comically excessive vomiting. Here is a list of five great movies (presented in alphabetical order) to watch on the Fourth of July:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Movie Review: Safety Not Guarenteed


WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED

It all starts with one of the greatest premises I've ever heard: a group of journalists investigate a classified ad stating, amongst other things: "Someone to go back in time with me." No, the ad is not a joke, and while "Safety Not Guaranteed" is a comedy, it does not treat the subject matter as such. There is a big difference between being mean, and prodding delicately. 

"Safety Not Guaranteed" is a Mumblecore film that is light on the mumbles. To call it a straight-up comedy would be a disservice. To call it a dramedy also wouldn't quite be the right word. It falls somewhere else in between.

Aubrey Plaza plays Darius, who can be added to her collection of sarcastic, anti-social sad sacks. While I feel I should be tired of it at this point, like I felt with Steve Carell in "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," I strangely feel like this is the only role Plaza should be playing. Every time she plays a character like Darius, it is as if she is revealing some new layer of her true self.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Movie Review: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

This basically sums it up.
Don't get me wrong, Steve Carell is one of the funniest, most likable actors working today. But with his past few features, and his latest, "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," he has a created a new film archetype: The Sad Insurance Salesman.

The Sad Insurance Salesman is a male in mid-life crisis. His wife will have cheated and then walked out on him because their marriage has lost all sense of excitement. Basically, the Sad Insurance Salesman might as well say, "I'm really nice, but I'm also boring."

This, in a way, can also define "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World." It is nice at parts but in the end, it is unsatisfying and lacks chemistry.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

On A Second Viewing: Moonrise Kingdom

One viewing of a Wes Anderson film simply isn't enough. His films are like the aftertaste of a good meal that won't go away, and you never want them to go away. Or, a painting where you notice more going on in the background with a more watchful eye. Or, an even more apt comparison here, like a symphony that sounds even better when broken down into smaller pieces.

In "Moonrise Kingdom," young heroine Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) looks at everything through binoculars. She says that it makes things look closer, even when they aren't very far away. She also believes it is her super power. I like to imagine that Wes Anderson looks at every film he makes through a pair of binoculars, and that he shares this super power with Suzy: he can see every minuscule detail of life up close in the most vivid of ways.

Through each one of his works, Anderson is inviting the audience more and more to stare into the binoculars at the idiosyncratic universe he has created. After seeing "Moonrise Kingdom" at Cannes, I immediately knew that one viewing wouldn't suffice. And while I try my best to go in with little to no expectations, I knew I would like it better the second time around. And that I did. It is not that I didn't like "Moonrise Kingdom" the first time around, it is just that I liked it for different reasons. The first time, I liked it because the Transitive Property of Wes Anderson* required that I like it. I liked it even more on viewing number two because I saw that once again, Wes Anderson defied his detractors and made yet another film in which the characters were more than just cutouts standing against pretty backdrops.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

For No Apparent Reason of the Day: Bill Murray Gives a House Tour

Here is a video of Bill Murray giving a tour of the house in "Moonrise Kingdom." "Moonrise Kingdom" opened a few weeks ago, and I've already seen it, so there seems to be no apparent reason that I'm posting it. However, this video contains Bill Murray.

 I can't tell if Bill Murray is joking or serious most of the time he speaks, which is probably what makes him so mysterious and so awesome at the same time. I take everything he says as words of wisdom. Which is why, after this video, I will never wear short pants again, as according to him doing so is asking to get robbed. Genius.

Also, seeing the details that go into making a set on a Wes Anderson film never ceases to amaze me. I need to see "Moonrise Kingdom" again, and as soon as humanly possible.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Analog This: Mad Men Season 5 Finale

Jessica Pare: Humanizing French Canadians Since 2010.
Warning! May contain some minor spoilers for the season five finale. Read with caution.

Two years ago, when the previous season of "Mad Men" was drawing to a close, I claimed that the fourth season was the best season yet (I'm also not entirely sure I actually knew what the word "dissertation" meant). I take it back, because season five blew every other season out of the water. And unless season six can work miracles, and I know Matthew Weiner is good at doing that, it will be tough to top this one.

Yet, the season finale, entitled "The Phantom," was a little bit disappointing. It was definitely not a bad episode. I think my expectations for "Mad Men" are a bit too high. But when a major character dies a week before, it seems a little peculiar to only mention the tragedy once the week after. And while throwing in Don's brother was a nice touch (it tied in with his guilt over Lane's death), it felt a little bit out of nowhere considering the fact that Don was less haunted than usual by his past this season. As did  the cliffhanger, which questioned whether or not Don would return to his adulterous days.

Nonetheless, it was still a fitting way to tie together a fantastic season. A lot happened this season, and I'm hoping this list below can account for as much of it as possible. Here are some of the reasons why season five was so damn good:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Movie Review: Prometheus

Look familiar at all?

Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" is like a sci-fi opus from a better time in the history of sci-fi films. And I would know, because I like to pretend I grew up then. 

"Prometheus" rises above because for once, it is a movie interested in actually exploring what lies in space, as opposed to just killing everything not from our home planet. If you give Ridley Scott a space ship and weird space creatures that like to impregnate people, he will create his best work. Basically, he needs to stay out of Medieval England and French vineyards.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

It's Here! The Premiere of the Django Unchained Trailer

I definitely didn't need a trailer to get me excited for "Django Unchained," but I'm not complaining about the fact that the first trailer has finally been released.

While the trailer for Quentin Tarantino's last film, "Inglourious Basterds," misled viewers to believe that it was nothing but a Brad Pitt fest, the "Django Unchained" trailer seems to be showing exactly the kind of film everyone expected it to be. And no, that is not a bad thing at all. "Django" looks to have a perfect mix of serious and awesome action and hilariously inspired exploitation. It also opens with a Johnny Cash song and includes Christoph Waltz channeling Hans Landa and Leonardo DiCaprio saying "rambunctious" in the most sinister way possible.

But it's time for me to shut up now, and time for you to watch this trailer*:


Note: This trailer comes via The Film Stage, a site dedicated to movie reviews and news. I began contributing to it today. Check out the site here: http://thefilmstage.com/

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Reel Deal Tries to Become Internet Famous: Photobombing Salma

Being internet famous is not just any ordinary kind of fame. Achieving internet fame suggests that you may have done something that you wouldn't normally do.

Well, I'm about to do something I never thought I'd do on The Reel Deal: post a meme. Or create one.

The following photo was taken at the Cannes Film Festival, and submitted to me by my friend Spencer Lucas (the girl in the photo I am still unsure of but if you find this, please come forward). The man is Ennio Morricone, cinema's greatest composer. In the background is Salma Hayek. I don't know what she's doing, but she has pulled off one of the most hilarious inadvertent photobombs I have yet to see. 

Success is achieved only by doing, and you have the chance to make Photobombing Salma a reality. For all of you PhotoShop junkies out there, create the funniest variations on Photobombing Salma that you can, and send them to me (ian@reeldealblog.com). I will post my favorites in an upcoming post. Just a tip: my favorites will probably be the funniest, so the more inappropriate and random situations that you can place Salma into, the better. 

Here it is, Reel Dealers. Photobombing Salma:


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Mud & Killing Them Softly: The Lost Reviews of Cannes

The line for "Killing Them Softly." But was it worth the wait?
While at Cannes, I watched "Killing Them Softly" and "Mud." However, I never got to publish reviews of them. Here they are now.


Killing Them Softly



 When Brad Pitt is in your movie, you are bound to get plenty of attention from the French.

"Killing Them Softly" surfaced with some bad early buzz but received favorable reviews when it actually opened. I compare it to "Lawless" simply for the reason that they are both gangster films. "Lawless" has the makings of a minor American classic. It goes for something a little more old fashioned, yet very refreshing. "Killing Them Softly" goes for brutal and meditative, and gets halfway there.

Here is a film that has a standout script, but doesn't bring its characters anywhere. The dialogue is detailed and familiar-sounding enough that it mimics real conversation. The banter between Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) gives "Killing Them Softly" a nice, humorous heart. While Brad Pitt is the selling point, McNairy and Mendelsohn are the film's true stars.

That is not to insult Mr. Pitt's role at all. Many people were unimpressed by his performance, but he did everything right as a very professional hitman. "Killing Them Softly" felt like a knockoff "No Country for Old Men" morality tale, with Pitt's Jackie Cogan substituting for Anton Chigurh. Like Chigurh, he has an calculated and mysterious air to him. Unlike Chigurh, his moral compass is less fascinating and less defined. Without giving too much away, the title refers to Cogan's standard of killing his victim from far enough away so as not to become emotionally attached. Strangely though, Cogan kills many people up close, and that doesn't seem to change him in any way, shape, or form.

I'm Brad Pitt, and you're not.
The story of "Killing Them Softly" is quite simple: it is about a hit being pulled off. And if you follow that brief premise, it delivers on that exactly. "Killing Them Softly" was directed by Andrew Dominik of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" fame. "Killing Them Softly" replaces the open spaces of the west for the confined, gritty backdrop of New Orleans. What "Jesse James" has in silence, "Killing Them Softly" has in dialogue.

"Jesse James" ran over two and a half hours long. It is said that an original cut of "Killing Them Softly" is about the same length. I would very much like to see this version, as what was shown at Cannes felt like a summed up version of a much better movie. I'd like to see how much more depth, and what new directions, Dominik had intended for the characters. I'd like more scenes with Frankie and Russell, and more with the Bukowski-type Mickey (James Gandolfini), who has some of the film's most entertaining scenes.

I admire "Killing Them Softly" for its ambition. The film takes place during the 2008 presidential election, and uses this event as a means of criticizing the greed of American capitalism. It seems to exist in a world of many Gordon Gekkos. I am not sure if Dominik's point totally came through, but I believe a second viewing, and a longer running time, might clear some things up. I will say this though: the final line of "Killing Them Softly" will end up on an AFI Top 100 list one day.

After the Jump: Mud

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Analog This: SNL Without Andy Samberg and Kristen Wiig

Last night, Andy Samberg announced that he will not be returning to "Saturday Night Live" in the fall. This was a sad, yet expected announcement. Expected as in I expected this to happen much longer ago, as Samberg has been a star for many years now. But he needed to stay because without him, "Saturday Night Live" would have been a much different show.

Samberg may have saved the show from irrelevance by launching his first Digital Short, "Lazy Sunday," in 2005. With the Digital Short, the show found a way to survive in the 21st century. Of course, promising new cast members and a Sarah Palin impression would also help, but let us not forget the importance of the Digital Short.

With his band The Lonely Island, Samberg has released two albums, and I pray that a third be on the way at some point in the near future.

Samberg does not get nearly enough credit for being such a versatile performer. He can sing, tell jokes, and act. While Samberg's videos are usually what he is best known for, he could do a few good impressions, including one that got him in trouble with Mark Wahlberg. I worry for Samberg's movie career if he chooses more projects like "That's My Boy." However, I am optimistic if he instead makes more movies like "Hot Rod." "Hot Rod" mixes a whole lot of insanity with a whole lot of heart, and dozens of YouTube worthy moments.

After the jump: Kristen Wiig, and some video highlights.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Reel Deal Goes to Cannes Update #12: And Cut (Reflections)

                                                      Photo Credit: Robbie Ezratty
Side Note: Putting parenthesis in a title makes it seem like an 80s pop song. 


Time is a funny thing, in that it goes by both quickly and slowly simultaneously. Two and a half weeks felt sometimes like a month, and sometimes like a day.

My time at the Cannes Film Festival was probably the best time of my entire life. It is an experience that I hope I can do again, but I don't know if it can ever be replicated in quite the same way. There was so much to learn and so much to see that I can barely process it all. I decided the only way to do so would be how I process almost anything in life: through writing.

As someone who makes lists a lot, both of things I like and things to do, I decided that I could somehow summarize my experiences into a list that might teach you a little something about the nature of film festivals. Here is what I learned while at the Cannes Film Festival:

The Reel Deal Goes to Cannes Update #11: The Best Posters

The funniest part is how serious the poster is. I can't wait for the sequel "No One Wannna Talk To You."


Estimated Box Office Gross: $8,073,590.


France gives us "Rust & Bone." We give them "Ice Age 4." Fair trade.

"Hi I'm Mark Wahlberg. Let's go talk to some French people."

It says on the poster, "the best Norwegian comedy of the year!" I wonder what the competition was.

No further explanation necessary.

Is this the poster for Tracy Jordan's next movie?

I'm surprised this one hasn't been made yet.


"The missing 'O' is a symbolic metaphor for Bollywood's fall and decline!" -Aspiring filmmaker who will never get a movie made.