Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Movie Review Anchorman 2

I was going into the seventh grade when "Anchorman" came out. I was just the right age to be completely inspired and blown away by a fairly raunchy PG-13 comedy. Watching the original "Anchorman" was basically a right of passage for anybody around my age. If you can't quote it by heart, then there might be something wrong with you.

So of course something this iconic called for a sequel.

"Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" knows at this point that it is kind of a big deal. Hell, it even has "The Legend Continues" in its title. That means that unfortunately, like many other sequels, it lacks the surprise of its predecessor.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Top 10 Movies of 2013

Year-end lists sometimes seem self-defeating. Taste and opinions change over time. What I liked this year might fall out of favor a year later. I can already tell from lists I’ve made in the past. For example, in 2010, I said that “127 Hours” was better than “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” However, I would re-watch “Scott Pilgrim” over “127 Hours” any day. Part of making a good end of the year list is to try and predict what will also be good five years down the road while also living in the spectacular now (SORRY I HAD TO). 

Making this list drives me crazy, but it is also one of my favorite posts to write. Thinking back helps to put the entire year into perspective. For instance, I found that some of the best films of 2013 had much in common. 2013 in film meant economic woes, nostalgia gone wrong, and exploration of what it means to be a success. Along the way, there were some great laughs, songs, and explosions. 

Here is my list of the top 10 films of 2013:

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Movie Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

Image via Slate
"The Wolf of Wall Street" is the rare film in which its trailer is not misleading. If you came anticipating flying midgets and strippers with money taped to them, that is exactly what you will get.

Although he has dipped his toes into very different territory over the years ("The Aviator," "Hugo"), Martin Scorsese returns to the world of crime and money again and again. Each time, he seems to have something new to say about it, and gives us another rags to riches villain to engrain into our memories.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Movie Review: Saving Mr. Banks

Image via The Guardian
Hollywood loves nothing more than itself. So I guess it's fitting that a movie about Walt Disney was made by Walt Disney Pictures. Walt Disney made a movie about Walt Disney whether you like it or not.

That sets the tone for "Saving Mr. Banks," a sometimes dark but mostly sugarcoated view of a Hollywood story that didn't necessarily need to be told, but here it is anyway.

In actuality, “Saving Mr. Banks” is not even that much about Walt Disney, even if it was one of the film’s major selling points. It is really about P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), the eccentric author of “Mary Poppins.” Mrs. Travers (as she would want you to call her) is the farthest thing from a sellout, but she is strapped for cash. Disney, who is played here by a mustached Tom Hanks, wants to buy the rights to “Mary Poppins” from her for a film, but Travers won’t do it until she can approve of Disney’s vision. So he sends her from London to Hollywood to work on the script.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Hits of the Holiday Season According to Your Grandparents

Land of Grandparents
It's the holiday season. Between Christmas and New Years, you will probably be spending a lot of time with relatives you don't normally see.

If you're spending time with your grandparents, prepare for a lot of talk about how everything was better in the past, and how you're part of the worst generation ever. It's annoying but it's family, so you love them. And there's no better way to connect with family than through a trip to the movies.

Movie titles are hard, and your grandparents might have trouble remembering some of those names. Luckily, they wisely find a way to get around this: by coming up with their own titles. Some of these make no sense, and some of them are much funnier and more creative than the original titles. In order to bridge the confusion of the generation gap, here is a key to the big movies of the holiday season, according to your grandparents:

A Second Viewing, A Second View: Inside Llewyn Davis

SPOILER ALERT: This review is filled with SPOILERS for "Inside Llewyn Davis." If you don't want SPOILERS for "Inside Llewyn Davis," do not read beyond this point. I put SPOILERS in bold/caps lock because you see, I'm trying to make a point. 

A Coen Brothers film can be great on one viewing, but no Coen Brothers film has been truly watched until it has been seen at least twice.

So far, I have gotten a mixed consensus from the few people I know who have seen "Inside Llewyn Davis." For every time it topped a bestof list or got an A+, it also got a negative review. But Joel and Ethan Coen never really get full acclaim across the board, except in the cases of "Fargo" and "No Country for Old Men."

The legacy of "Inside Llewyn Davis" will take time to sort out, but I figured now was an appropriate time to sort out a few things about the film that you and me, but mostly me, might have been having trouble with. Here is my SPOILER heavy rundown of "Inside Llewyn Davis":

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Trading Places: A Christmas Classic Worth Celebrating

Black Friday has passed, but Americans still need something to fight about. Christmas has arrived, so fighting over the best Christmas movie seems like the logical next step.

If you are fighting the War On Christmas Movies, you probably fall into one of five camps:

1. Your Favorite is "It's a Wonderful Life": That means you have probably watched all of the AFI List specials.

2. Your Favorite is "Home Alone": You grew up in the 90s. Also, you have a thing for setting up booby traps in your house.

3. Your Favorite is "A Christmas Story": You will watch it during the entire 24 hour block that runs on TBS on Christmas Day. Also, you're probably Jewish and couldn't convince anybody else to go see something in theaters that day.

4. Your Favorite is "Die Hard": You understand that "Die Hard" isn't a Christmas movie in a traditional sense. But you don't care, because you are way too cool for school.

5. Your Favorite is "Jingle All The Way": Haha we get it. You like being ironic and you probably own a pair of bacon socks from Urban Outfitters and also you're probably me.

However, I would like to stage a coup, and add a sixth film to the battle. Would anybody care to join me on Team "Trading Places"?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Movie Review: American Hustle

Here Comes the Sun(glasses). Image via TotalFilm
From the very beginning, "American Hustle" announces that it is only sort of based on true events.

Fitting, as this is an historical event so complex and bizarre that the whole truth simply could not do it justice. This is where movie truth steps in and offers a helping hand.

"American Hustle" constantly blurs the line between real and fake. In fact, the film opens with Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) giving himself the most passionate combover you'll ever see. Irv's life philosophy is to fake it until you make it. He kind of has to, as this is part of his job: Irv is a con man, and a very good one at that.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Movie Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

"You see Mr. Powers...I love gooold!" Image via WhatCulture
If insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again expecting different results, then it is the perfect word to describe my viewing of the "Hobbit" series.

"The Desolation of Smaug" is at least a little better than its predecessor "An Unexpected Journey." However, it still feels like a lot of filler space for a trilogy that did not need to be a trilogy.

"Smaug" begins with a prequel-to-a-prequel introduction where Gandalf (Ian McKellen) meets Thorin (Richard Armitage) at the Prancing Pony (a fun callback to "The Fellowship of the Ring"), and the two of them set the entire "Hobbit" adventure in motion. This little scene is there simply to declare that Thorin, and not Bilbo (Martin Freeman), is the main character of "Smaug."

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ten Sequels That Outdid The Originals

Sequels. Who needs them?

We do. Because we demand them.

Sequels are made for many reasons. Sometimes, they are a necessary continuation of the original. Other times, they are a cash grab that the market demands.

Some sequels try too hard to match their predecessor and ultimately forget why the original was even good in the first place. Others take the good elements, expand on them, and then add something new. When that happens, the sequel can often be better than the original.

This December, both "The Desolation of Smaug" and "Anchorman 2" are coming out in theaters. Well, at least one of them has big shoes to fill. In celebration of Hollywood's continued sequel mania, I have decided to compile a handy list of sequels that surpassed their predecessors. Feel free to leave your thoughts/yell at me for not including "The Empire Strikes Back" in the comments:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Movie Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

Cat in the big city. Image via Rotten Tomatoes
Yes, Joel and Ethan Coen have given us a musical biopic. It doesn't mean they had to give you one about a real musician. Or even make the movie you wanted to see.

"Inside Llewyn Davis," the Coen Brothers' first film in a very long three years, is a welcome return to the big screen. It is the perfect awards season film that is also an anti-awards season film. It's a tale for the holidays that wears its icy heart on its sleeves.

Like most Coen Brothers films, "Inside Llewyn Davis" is based on something else, but how much it's based off of that thing is questionable. Davis is based on Dave Van Ronk. Most the songs in the movie are his, but Davis' personality is different. This mystery just adds to the charm.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Movie Review: Nebraska

Image via Buzzsugar
Watching a director who has always directed their own writing suddenly bring somebody else's vision to life is always interesting. "Nebraska" marks the first occasion that Oscar winning writer Alexander Payne has directed a screenplay written by somebody else. Maybe the fact that it takes place in his beloved home state helped out a bit.

"Nebraska" marks Payne's first foray back into his home territory since 2002's "About Schmidt." However, it takes some time to get there. "Nebraska," like "Fargo" and "Chinatown" before it, are about more than the setting that their titles suggest. "Nebraska begins in Billings, Montana, the current home of the Grant family. Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is the patriarch of the family, whether he is aware of it or not. Woody is a sad man living a sad life. He walks with a slouch and acts like he never wasted any potential because he never had much to begin with.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Eight Nights of Hanukkah, Eight Entertaining Jews: Night #8

This is what I found when I Googled "Adam Sandler Jewish."
The old insult goes, "Jews run show business." To that I say "thanks." 

Jews make up about 0.2% of the world's population yet they have always been a loud (emphasis on the loud) and prominent voice in film, television, music, and comedy. 

The next eight days are Hanukkah, which is not the most important Jewish holiday, but we do get presents. For each night of Hanukkah, I will share one Jewish entertainer who has had a big impact on me. For the eighth and final night of Hanukkah, let's talk about Adam Sandler:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Eight Nights of Hanukkah, Eight Entertaining Jews: Night #7

Image via Wikipedia
The old insult goes, "Jews run show business." To that I say "thanks." 

Jews make up about 0.2% of the world's population yet they have always been a loud (emphasis on the loud) and prominent voice in film, television, music, and comedy. 

The next eight days are Hanukkah, which is not the most important Jewish holiday, but we do get presents. For each night of Hanukkah, I will share one Jewish entertainer who has had a big impact on me. For the seventh night of Hanukkah, let's talk about Stanley Kubrick:

Monday, December 2, 2013

Eight Nights of Hanukkah, Eight Entertaining Jews: Night #6

The old insult goes, "Jews run show business." To that I say "thanks." 

Jews make up about 0.2% of the world's population yet they have always been a loud (emphasis on the loud) and prominent voice in film, television, music, and comedy. 

The next eight days are Hanukkah, which is not the most important Jewish holiday, but we do get presents. For each night of Hanukkah, I will share one Jewish entertainer who has had a big impact on me. For the sixth night of Hanukkah, let's talk about Judd Apatow:

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Eight Nights of Hanukkah, Eight Entertaining Jews: Night #5

Image via LA Times
The old insult goes, "Jews run show business." To that I say "thanks." 

Jews make up about 0.2% of the world's population yet they have always been a loud (emphasis on the loud) and prominent voice in film, television, music, and comedy. 

The next eight days are Hanukkah, which is not the most important Jewish holiday, but we do get presents. For each night of Hanukkah, I will share one Jewish entertainer who has had a big impact on me. For the fifth night of Hanukkah, let's talk about Sarah Silverman: 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Eight Nights of Hanukkah, Eight Entertaining Jews: Night #4

This is one of my favorite pictures ever taken.
The old insult goes, "Jews run show business." To that I say "thanks." 

Jews make up about 0.2% of the world's population yet they have always been a loud (emphasis on the loud) and prominent voice in film, television, music, and comedy. 

The next eight days are Hanukkah, which is not the most important Jewish holiday, but we do get presents. For each night of Hanukkah, I will share one Jewish entertainer who has had a big impact on me. For the fourth night of Hanukkah, let's talk about Larry David:

Friday, November 29, 2013

Eight Nights of Hanukkah, Eight Entertaining Jews: Night #3

The old insult goes, "Jews run show business." To that I say "thanks." 

Jews make up about 0.2% of the world's population yet they have always been a loud (emphasis on the loud) and prominent voice in film, television, music, and comedy. 

The next eight days are Hanukkah, which is not the most important Jewish holiday, but we do get presents. For each night of Hanukkah, I will share one Jewish entertainer who has had a big impact on me. For the third night of Hanukkah, let's talk about Steven Spielberg:

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Eight Nights of Hanukkah, Eight Entertaining Jews: Night #2

The old insult goes, "Jews run show business." To that I say "thanks." 

Jews make up about 0.2% of the world's population yet they have always been a loud (emphasis on the loud) and prominent voice in film, television, music, and comedy. The next eight days are Hanukkah, which is not the most important Jewish holiday, but we do get presents. For each night of Hanukkah, I will share one Jewish entertainer who has had a big impact on me. For the second night of Hanukkah, let's talk about Woody Allen:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Eight Nights of Hanukkah, Eight Entertaining Jews: Night #1

The old insult goes, "Jews run show business." To that I say "thanks." 

Jews make up about 0.2% of the world's population yet they have always been a loud (emphasis on the loud) and prominent voice in film, television, music, and comedy. The next eight days are Hanukkah, which is not the most important Jewish holiday, but we do get presents. For each night of Hanukkah, I will share one Jewish entertainer who has had a big impact on me. Let's start off the festivities with Mel Brooks:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Six Movies You Won't Want to Miss in December 2013

Image via Business Insider
Well, it's almost Thanksgiving again. And you know what that means: time to start thinking about Christmas!

December is always an exciting movie month. Its when the less explosion-y blockbusters come out, and the small movies that normally wouldn't get much publicity finally get the spotlight. This looks like a particularly good December that will hopefully make up for some of the more lackluster months of 2013. Come on Hollywood, this is when you get to show everyone that movies are still relevant!

In order to ensure a great holiday season, here are the December releases that I am most excited to see. Join me in the excitement, people. It's the least you can do since, you know, I can't celebrate Christmas:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Here's the thing about sequels: they are usually at their best when they are planned and more importantly, when they come at the center of a trilogy.

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," the second installment in "The Hunger Games" series, and the umpteenth edition of Hollywood's colon obsession, shines as an outstanding blockbuster long after the end of the regular blockbuster season.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Movie Review: 12 Years a Slave

Image via Salon
WARNING: Spoilers for real life. According to the Internet, this is now something I have to say. 

Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" is about as intense and emotionally devastating as you might expect. Then again, a drama about slavery probably couldn't go any other way.

"12 Years a Slave" is a great film that I don't think I can ever watch again. And that's a compliment. It plays like a series of terrible atrocities that you wish you had never witnessed, but you feel like a different person for having viewed history from a new perspective.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Top 10: Movies That I Shamefully Haven't Seen Yet

There's only so many hours in a day, and my potion that can help you survive without sleep has yet to be approved by the FDA.

Having said that, I can't see every movie ever made. This is a fact that has driven me crazy for my entire life. That might also be because I don't have many actual problems to deal with. Who knows.

Anyway, I try to watch every movie that I think is important to see, but I also just want to see ones that interest me personally. That means that a lot of classics get missed. The point here is this: I am not perfect. I still have a lot of movie watching to go.

I decided to compile a list of ten movies that I also can't believe I haven't seen yet. Many of them are Oscar winners and AFI list toppers. Mainly though, they are movies that people walking down the street yell at me for not seeing.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wes Anderson Releases a New Film (Sort Of)

I'm a day late here, but I figured I'd post it anyway. Yesterday, Wes Anderson released a new short film called "Castello Cavalcanti." Now, I usually form an emotional response to anything Wes Anderson makes pretty quickly, but I am still trying to figure this one out. As usual, it's beautiful to look at. But, what is it about?

It looks pretty, but "Castello Cavalcanti" made me realize how Anderson's characters are even more important than the visuals. I like the pretty visuals and the fact that everything looks like a giant toy, but it could use more dialogue like "that's the last time you put a knife in me!" and "get your ass the hell off of my boat!" All I'm saying is that I'm still not sure why this ends with Jason Schwartzman ordering a bowl of spaghetti. Because Italy, I guess?

It definitely can't beat "The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders," but its solid enough to make the wait for "The Grand Budapest Hotel" more bearable. Watch the video below:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

My Most Anticipated Releases of November 2013


Alexander Payne has been on a hot streak basically since the beginning of his career. After "Sideways" and "The Descendants," "Nebraska" brings the director back to his home city of Omaha for what seems like his turn even further into dramatic territory. Plus, Will Forte has a shot to show his dramatic chops (I know that they are there) and generally awesome person Bob Odenkirk gets a big role [Note: Saul Goodman was supposedly relocated to Omaha at the end of "Breaking Bad." Hmmm...]. For great, little character-driven stories and perfect dark humor, Alexander Payne never disappoints.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I have yet to read any of the novels in the "Hunger Games" series, but I was a big fan of the first movie, which was a thoroughly entertaining dystopian blockbuster. Since I have no background knowledge of the story, I am excited to see where "Catching Fire" brings the story next. Also, this will likely only increase my love for Jennifer Lawrence. Let's just hope that the baboons that I saw in one of the commercials are less ridiculous than the giant mutated dogs from the first installment.


Ever since the moment I heard that Spike Lee was directing a remake of "Oldboy," I had no clue what to make of it. Why mess with Korean perfection? Could anybody ever recreate the pure shock of the octopus or hammer scenes? Still, I can't help but be more curious than angry about this remake. It has a stellar cast (Josh Brolin, Sharlto Copley, Samuel L. Jackson), and its easy to forget that outside of his often annoying media presence, Spike Lee is an incredibly talented director. Let's just hope this is more "Inside Man" than "Miracle at St. Anna."

No Country For Oldboy: Josh Brolin, who looks like he's auditioning to play Bruce Wayne stuck in the pit in "The Dark Knight Rises."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Analog This: The Pete Holmes Show Is Quietly Reinventing Late Night

Image via PopWatch
Late night isn't what it used to be. Besides the fact that most people are just watching the highlights online, there's just way too many hosts and way too many shows to choose from.

During the 11 PM hour, I have to choose between Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Conan O'Brien, who are all personal heroes of mine. Two weeks ago, Comedy Central kicked off "@Midnight," which proved to be a surprisingly smart and fun way to combine TV and social media into a game show format. There's a reason that Chris Hardwick now hosts everything ever.

Then one week later, "The Pete Holmes Show" premiered on TBS at the exact same time. After two or three episodes, I was sold. Granted, I was already a huge fan of Pete Holmes through both his standup and his podcast "You Made It Weird." Holmes' standup is endearingly goofy and consistently sharp in its observations. "You Made It Weird" focuses on a loose conversation that is funny and enlightening and often pushes the three hour mark. Holmes is both one of the most talented stand-ups working today, and host of a podcast that is often better than some of its more well-known contemporaries.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Movie Review: Evil Dead (2013)

Image via YouTube
Well, if you're going to remake a classic that didn't need to be remade, then you might as well remake it like this.

"Evil Dead" pulls a Sean Parker and removes the "The." While it would be funny if this was the only change made in this remake, "Evil Dead" defies a lot of expectations by actually being its own movie. Unlike the recent "Carrie" remake, "Evil Dead" knows exactly what kind of movie it wants to be: a spectacularly gory horror movie. At that, it definitely succeeds.

Once again, "Evil Dead" begins with a group of young adults heading up for a pleasant weekend in a cabin in the woods. At this point, you'd think that people would watch enough horror movies to know that you're probably screwed if you go to stay in a cabin in the woods.* Even if reminders of "The Evil Dead" past abound, including the car, a deck of cards, and that ticking clock, this new group has no clue what they're in for.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Beginners' Guide to Horror as Written by a Beginner

Image via Villains Wiki
Well, it's Halloween. You know what that means: time for people to pretend they care about horror movies for one month!

And it's really a shame that this obsession will go on for only a month: Horror movies do not get all of the respect they deserve (I blame found footage). Sure, horror is starting to get attention on TV ("The Walking Dead," "Hannibal," "Bates Motel," fifty new witch shows all premiering on Lifetime), but cinema is really where the genre began, and where it is at its best.

Unfortunately, horror has been one of my pop culture blind spots for years. I have been lucky enough to take a class about the genre and explore it more on my own and have a newfound appreciation for it. Maybe it's my fault for thinking that "Saw V" represented every horror movie ever.

What I am trying to say is that I am a relatively new horror fan. Unfortunately, I cannot dig up any obscure examples to show how savvy I am, as I've only seen one movie made by George A. Romero. However, I can be your Introductory Horror Spirit Guide, and lay out the basics. In my opinion, these are ten essential horror movies to kick off your love of horror movies with. Let me remind you that you can watch horror movies after Halloween ends:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Great Lou Reed Musical Moments in Movies

On Sunday, rock 'n roll pioneer Lou Reed passed away. It's a testament to the genius of Lou Reed's vision that a kid growing up in the 2000s could listen to "The Velvet Underground & Nico" for the first time and feel the same way somebody did when they first heard it in 1967.

I am proud to say that I still have a Velvet Underground poster hanging in my room, and that every time I give any album from either The Velvet Underground or just Lou Reed another listen, I hear something new every single time.

Besides being a multi-talented musician, Reed was an artist in many other forms. He made a few short films himself. He never got into feature acting, which is a shame, because I think he could have played a great, enigmatic villain or basically anybody who transfixes you with so few words.

Yet, one way Reed will live on is through the many movies that used the music that him and the greatest rock band ever created. Here I have just compiled a few of my favorites:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Top 5: Ridley Scott Movies

"Okay, Russell just don't sing anymore."
Ridley Scott has had one of the longest, most successful, and diverse careers of any modern director. He can hop between genres and themes with absolutely no problem. He takes his time between films so every time one comes out, it feels like an event, even if it turns out to be terrible (I'm looking at you, "Robin Hood"). 

"The Counselor," directed by Scott and penned by Cormac McCarthy, comes out today. Reviews have been mixed so far, but I still look forward to seeing it. Basically, I will see any movie that has a third act filled with monologues as well as Javier Bardem dressed like Hunter S. Thompson.

After the jump, check out my five favorite Ridley Scott movies:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Analog This: Homeland- Run Dana Run

This is a recap of episode four of season three of "Homeland." The episode is "Game On." 

I have no idea what's keeping "Homeland" together right now. Each story seems to constitute its own separate show. It's about time some character came in, "Lost" style, and declared that everybody needs to go back. I'm pretty sure Matthew Fox is actually looking for work.

The one common factor keeping everyone together this season is a feeling of imprisonment. Tonight's episode is called "Game On" but it feels more like a groan than a game changer. This is the episode where everyone tries to run away. Some found great success (Carrie), while others found themselves walking into yet another trap (Dana).

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Movie Review: Carrie (2013)

Poor Carrie White. 37 years later, and she still can't catch a break. The latest update of "Carrie" is not a total facelift, but it does take the White family and places them in the present day. If you've already seen the original, you might be interested to see how much more the White family feels out of place in 2013 than 1976.

Even for newbies, I believe the story of "Carrie" is well known enough at this point that I shouldn't use too much time to lay it all out. Carrie (Chloe Moretz) is still a misfit, and her mother Margaret (Julianne Moore) is still a religious fanatic. Carrie still gets bullied, gets covered in pig guts, and then gets sweet, sweet revenge.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Top 10: Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Favorite Movies

Also, footballs should not be thrown on roofs.
Movies get a lot wrong. And when I say a lot I mean a lot

Jumping off of my piece from the other day, what you make of those mistakes is up to you. I try to avoid them because while they are probably better to know, they can also ruin the movie. However, they can also be hilarious depending on how wrong they are. I decided to do some research on IMDB, and I compiled ten of my favorite mistakes, and another list of five "mistakes." Did I just ruin your favorite movie for you? Well good, it's ruined for me, too. Let's bond over sadness. 

Read the list below: 

Trailer Park: The Grand Budapest Hotel

A.K.A. The Hipster "Hangover"
It was only a matter of time before Wes Anderson made a film where every single character has a mustache.

This is about the millionth time I will say this, but Wes Anderson is one of modern cinema's best directors. Today, the first trailer was released for his upcoming film "The Grand Budapest Hotel."

While every Wes Anderson film basically has the same aesthetic (yellow font, colorful walls, etc.), you can always expect a different story. "The Grand Budapest Hotel" looks like some kind of murder mystery. Indeed, there's a girl in it named Agatha, who is possibly an allusion to Agatha Christie, who much more educated people tell me was once a famous crime writer.

The only thing that could possibly worry me about "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is that it already seems to combine a lot of Anderson's other films ("The Darjeeling Limited," "The Royal Tenenbaums"), and Ed Norton already seems like he's playing a pretty similar character to the one in "Moonrise Kingdom." However, these are just assumptions. One trailer cannot tell me so much. For now, I will just assume that Willem Dafoe will once again have an awesome accent like in "The Life Aquatic."

But just look at the rest of that cast. Ralph Fiennes is not one normally known for comedy (although he is hilarious in "In Bruges"), but he already had me cracking up in this trailer. The cast is one of the most important parts of a Wes Anderson joint (characters are so important), and Fiennes seems like a perfect fit for Anderson's weird little world.

Wes Anderson has been on a roll lately: his last two films were "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "Moonrise Kingdom." I have faith he can win me over once again with "The Grand Budapest Hotel." March 2014 can't come soon enough. Watch the trailer below:

Can Gene Hackman please come out of retirement just to star in one more Wes Anderson film? 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Can't We All Just Get Along: Truth in Film

Can't We All Just Get Along is a segment in which I take a hot button issue in the entertainment world and try my best to see both sides through, and then try even harder to pick a side. 

In the past, an acclaimed box office hit had at least a few months of a grace period before the backlash set in. Now, all it takes is a few hours.

When somebody wants to pick a film apart but doesn't have any actual problems with its writing, directing, acting, editing, etc., then the next logical step is to attack its plausibility. Over the past two weeks, the two biggest hits at the box office, "Gravity" and "Captain Phillips," have come under fire mainly from people who don't work in or write about film.

This whole kerkuffle began the same day that "Gravity" was crowned box office king. Astrophysicist and generally awesome human being Neil deGrasse Tyson sent out a series of Tweets criticizing the scientific accuracy of "Gravity." His comments came under fire because how dare he know real science. And where was he when "Jimmy Neutron" came out? Somebody needed to tell the world that human children can't actually breath in space without a suit.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Analog This: Homeland- Tower (Of David) Heist

This is a recap of episode three of season three of "Homeland." The episode is "Tower Of David." 

Most chatter about "Homeland" nowadays is marked by debate on whether or not the show is good anymore. Rarely have I seen a show fluctuate between great, okay, and horrible so often, and sometimes just within the span of a single episode.

"Tower Of David" is not the best episode in the short history of "Homeland," but it is definitely one of the most different hours that the show has done. This was the least politically driven episode in a while. To prove how far away it would be going from Washington politics, the episode opened with a sunny beach that might as well have been stolen "Lost" B-Roll. After a bunch of men spoke Spanish (with no subtitles to be found), a bloody and dying Nicholas Brody pops back up. America's favorite sleeper cell agent is finally back!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Movie Review: Captain Phillips

People praise Paul Greengrass for his sharp action directing and quick cuts. What he rarely gets credit for is that he is the rare action director who realizes that there is no way to be prepared for tragedy. This is why "Captain Phillips" doesn't start on a boat.

It's just another day, and just another mission for Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), who's preparing for umpteenth mission as captain at sea. He drives with his wife (Catherine Keener) to the airport and talk about anything but his trip. They talk about their children and lament about how lazy good for nothing punk kids are today.

The trip seems simple enough, like something he's been doing for years. The ship he's commanding is meant to bring supplies around the horn of Africa, which, if you didn't already know this, is not the friendliest place in the world. Nonetheless, a job is a job and Captain Phillips is the definition of salt of the earth. However, what Phillips is about to find out is that this isn't like any other job he's had. Captain Phillips is about to get his mojo back.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Kumar Pallana: A Life In Quotes

Yesterday, Kumar Pallana, perhaps my favorite accidental actor in Hollywood died at the age of 94.

Pallana was discovered by Wes Anderson and the Wilson brothers at the coffee shop in Dallas which he owned. They then gave him a small role in "Bottle Rocket." Then he just kept popping up again and again until he became just as memorable a part of Anderson's world as colorful wallpaper and Kinks songs.

I don't know why Pallana was always so funny to me. Maybe because he would just pop up, say one barely audible line, and then disappear. Or maybe its because in "Rushmore" you can spot him in the background of one shot playing with a giant necklace, and he never says a word at all.

I remember him best as Pagoda in "The Royal Tenenbaums," who was apparently an assassin in Calcutta at one point in time. In honor of Kumar Pallana, I have decided to compile all of my favorite lines of his from "The Royal Tenenbaums":

"The black man ask her to be his wife."

"There he is."

"There he goes."

"You son of a bitch!"

"Oh shit man!"

Here's the obituary from his hometown paper.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ten Years and Counting: How Kill Bill Changed My Life

It all started with a shelf at Barnes & Noble. I had just turned twelve and had gift card money to spend. And when I had a Barnes & Noble gift card, I was a man on a mission.

I was browsing around the DVD section. I wasn't normally one to take risks in life and buy something before I had seen it, but something told me I needed something new. Also, "Return of the King" wasn't out yet. I stumbled upon a copy of "Kill Bill: Volume 1." I heard it was good, the commercials were really cool, and Uma Thurman looked irresistibly sexy in her yellow jumpsuit. So I decided why not. That night, I popped it into the DVD player (remember those things?), and was never the same again.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Spoiler Review: Gravity

Spoiler Review is a new series where I will review movies that require many spoilers in order to review them properly. This is my review of "Gravity." This goes without saying: SPOILER ALERT.

Every time a movie comes out that uses 3D really well, like really really well, I never hesitate to call it the second coming of cinema. "Avatar." "Hugo." "Life of Pi." Yes, I do strongly regret giving "Avatar" that much credit.

I don't want to say "Gravity" has changed the game. It's just responded to the tools of our time so well and it has done what many others only wished they could accomplish. More importantly, if you ever doubted that the wonder of the movies has been stolen by TV, then look at "Gravity," and you'll understand that it never went anywhere.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Movie Review: Gravity

"In space, no one can hear you scream."

This is now the famous tagline from "Alien," and the basis for "Gravity." "Gravity" hasn't been advertised as a horror film, but it captures the fear of being alone in space better than most others that have tried way too hard to do so.

"Gravity" marks the long awaited return of Alfonso Cuaron who last directed "Children of Men," which is still one of my favorite films of all time. Like "Children of Men," there is no indication of when the camera starts and stops rolling. Cuaron is one for relentless action. Immersive might not even be a strong enough word to describe "Gravity." I get the feeling that Cuaron just wanted us to float in space with him forever. There were multiple times where I felt short of breath. Apparently, you don't need any dimensions beyond 3D to get all your senses this invested in a movie.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Analog This: A Helpful Guide of Whether or Not You Should Keep Watching Homeland

I swear...no more Skyping with terrorists.
Spoilers for the season three premiere of "Homeland" to come. Assume there will be spoilers for old episodes of "Homeland," too.

A funny thing happened as "Homeland" was on its way to becoming TV's best drama: it decided to go completely downhill. But "Homeland" wants you to know that they're trying really hard to make a comeback. They let us know by devoting the entire "Previously on..." segment of the season three opener to what was essentially a highlight reel of the entire series.

I get it, "Homeland." There was like two or three really awesome parts of last season. But Dana and her stupid boyfriend still murdered someone (before he got blown up) and Nicholas Brody Skyped with a terrorist on a Blackberry while standing next to the vice president. So I guess you could say things weren't going too well for them.

So, should you keep watching, or not? The season three premiere showed some promise, but also some drawbacks. Here, I will present some highlights from the premiere, and its up to you to decide whether or not you should keep up with "Homeland."

Chris Brody: He's really tall now. And still has nothing valuable to add. I just want someone to give him a show where he reviews HD TVs.

Dana Brody: In retrospect, making Dana a murderer last season was pretty dumb. During the long gap in "Homeland" time, Dana attempted suicide. This is a more grounded, dark, and interesting territory for the character, and a good chance for actress Morgan Sayler to show off more of her acting potential. I just hope they don't make much out of her sending the nude selfie. Like, that her potential new boyfriend is a Senator's son and it causes another political scandal. It just seems too obvious.

Jess Brody: Sorry fans, but there was no Jess Brody nudity this time around. Just some deep and dark insight into her past and her family's history with suicide and depression. Oh great, more interesting character insight. I blame the Puritans.

Jess' Mom: Here's a new character. Already not a big fan of her. She just seems to be there to tell Jess that she's parenting all wrong. She reminds me of Claudette from "The Room." That's not a good thing.

Carrie's Mental State: Carrie is still torn up about last year's events at Langley. She blames herself, and I'm not sure if she really does or if that's a way to make her cover story more convincing. Either way, she's trying alternative medicines, but it doesn't seem to be helping so far. She's on trial for treason. I need to start the Carrie cry count, because this episode was a doozy.

Where in the World is Nicholas Brody?: Not sure. Surprisingly, he wasn't in this episode at all. Maybe he's with Saul Goodman in Nebraska. Or somebody sent him to Belize. Guys, I miss "Breaking Bad."

Better Call Saul (Berenson): It's really hard to complain about Mandy Patinkin. He's like Jewish Santa Claus. He's facing a lot more pressures now. As de facto head of Homeland Security, he has to deal with the possibility of a revoked charter, more terrorists, and the Nicholas Brody/Carrie bomb. Plus, Saul has personal issues to deal with. He's the most sane character on the show, so I really hope he doesn't fall into the vortex of insanity.

New Problems, New Possibilities: Maybe I'm alone here, but the most interesting conflicts on this show are the internal issues being dealt with at Langley. It feels more relevant given how, you know, we don't have a functioning government right now. "Homeland" has some great characters, and I think it would be even better if we got to see them evolve this year. Instead of just chasing terrorists, which we've seen before, I'd love to see some personal struggles. How does someone keep an entire government agency, and themselves, together? But it's a fine line to walk because...

...I don't want a courtroom drama: "Homeland" runs into the possibility of slipping into implausibility and simply being a show about chasing terrorists. This was a problem it faced last year, which is why it nearly slipped into complete "24" territory. However, I also don't want to see it become just a courtroom drama. Too much of old white people (because, American politics) arguing over abstract political issues could get dull. So if "Homeland" is to get back on its feet, it needs to balance internal and external threats. Oh, and bring Nicholas Brody back.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Analog This: Breaking Bad- Goodbye, Mr. Blue

This is a recap of episode 16 of season 5 of "Breaking Bad." The episode is "Felina." IT'S THE FINALE. 


Well, well, well then. That's all I can think of saying at first. There's a lot to say. 

First of all, this definitely isn't the ending you expected. Nearly every prediction made by the Internet was wrong, proving that Reddit can't write a TV show. Or at least not one as good as this. 

Continued After the Jump

Monday, September 23, 2013

Analog This: Breaking Bad- Granite State of Mind

Let's play a game: "Mad Men" or "Breaking Bad"?
This is a recap of episode 15 of season 5 of "Breaking Bad." The episode is "Granite State."

The more Walter White loses, the easier it is to see what is really underneath all of that rage and greed. Without his money, family, or meth empire, Walt is a lot of anger, and a lot of misguided pride. As per usual, Walt's emotions are ruining his life.

"Granite State" is the first episode of this season to receive such a mixed reaction. But come on people, everyone should have been prepared for something nowhere near as good as "Ozymandias." Even Vince Gilligan thinks that last week's episode was the best one they ever did. "Granite State" is not the best episode of "Breaking Bad." It has some odd pacing problems, and it definitely isn't the one of a kind, gut-wrenching experience I've come to expect based on the past few episodes of "Breaking Bad." This may have been a bridge episode, but it was a very important one. 

Continued After the Jump

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Movie Review: Touchy Feely

If you were to watch "Touchy Feely" for any one reason, it should be for Josh Pais' performance as Paul, a dentist who's basically dead inside, or "wan," as his sister Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) keeps describing him.

"Touchy Feely" is the latest film from Lynn Shelton, who is a secret weapon in the independent film world. Her loose and mainly unscripted films are refreshing in a world dominated by formula and safety. With "Touchy Feely," Shelton feels like she is trying to move towards something more structured all while holding on to the characteristics that have defined her work as a filmmaker. Yet, there is a difficulty in balancing the two, and it is not achieved here.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Breaking Bad: Analog This- The Wizard of Ozymandias

This is a recap of episode 14 of season 5 of "Breaking Bad." The episode is "Ozymandias."


That would have been an apt title for tonight's episode. And just as poetic. It was one of the last things that Hank ever said ("My name is ASAC Schrader. And you can go fuck yourself.") and also the one thing I couldn't stop saying over and over again throughout "Ozymandias." I think I needed this little mantra. It reminded me of how cathartic cursing can be.

I know that I am always talking about how amazing "Breaking Bad" is every week but I feel like up to this point, I was being a tad hyperbolic. "Ozymandias" may be the show's finest hour. If it is not the absolute best, then it was the show's most horrifying and emotionally devastating. Appropriately, many critics are already comparing this episode to a horror movie. This episode was a horror western directed by Rian Johnson, who's proved himself to be excellent at mixing and matching genres through the likes of "Brick" and "Looper."

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Can't We All Just Get Along: Texting in Theaters

Nobody knows how to act out emotions like a stock photo model.
Can't We All Just Get Along is a new segment in which I take a hot button issue in the entertainment world and try my best to see both sides through, and then try even harder to pick a side. 

Let's face it: the traditional film viewing experience is in trouble. Who wants to pay $15 to be quiet in a dark room with strangers for two plus hours when you could be sitting at home in your underwear sending SnapChats of Instagrams of your cats reenacting the opening of "Raiders of the Lost Ark"?

Ever since cell phones became readily available for the masses, it has been difficult to power them down. This has been an especially big problem for movie theaters, an environment that requires absolute silence (besides laughs or screams) and attention. Yet, people take no issue sending out that text or finishing that level of Candy Crush that just can't wait. People have no problem turning off their phones on an airplane, but I guess the threat of crashing is scarier than the threat of not being able to hear what Brad Pitt just said.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Analog This: Breaking Bad- Dumb & Dumber

This is a recap of episode 13 of season 5 of "Breaking Bad." The episode is "To'hajiilee."

Walt has spent the past five years (real time, not "Breaking Bad" time) outsmarting everyone he knows. It turns out though that Walt's ego, the same thing that's always helped him get out of trouble, could also cloud his judgement. Finally, the joke's on him. 

Only on "Breaking Bad" could a cathartic moment suddenly be turned into one of fear and pain. When Walt finally got handcuffed, it felt like a moment that was long time coming, which is probably why this episode alluded to the pilot so much. Of course all the hurt happens under the direction of Michelle MacLaren, who's directed some of the show's most twisted episodes. And hopefully once "Breaking Bad" ends, she'll become a fine movie director, hopefully funded by Megan Ellison

Friday, September 6, 2013

Analog This: Trapped, Trapped, Trapped in Orange is the New Black


Is TV as we know it dead?????!!!!! Is Netflix the only place we can get good shows now????!!!!!!

No. TV is alive and well and Netflix holds promise as a lead distributor for the future. But I'm not in the future predicting game; I'm in the "Orange is the New Black" fan club. We are few and we are annoying, but we know great television when we see it.

"Orange is the New Black" is based on the true story of Piper Kerman, a waspy shiksa* who ends up in prison for a crime she committed years earlier. The show takes a lot of liberties from there. It starts through the eyes of Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) and then expands far and wide, populating the prison with an array of colorful characters. These are the kind of characters who normally aren't portrayed on television, and they're often the kind of people you never meet when you're a sheltered white boy from Connecticut. That's what good stories are all about: expanding your world and introducing you to the kind of things that your own life might be too short-sighted to ever see.

While watching "Orange is the New Black," I was reminded of an unlikely companion show: "Lost." Like that sci-fi drama, "Orange" uses the medium to its fullest extent by leaving its setting through flashbacks. This allows the characters to be more than just their present selves; in prison, you're not the same person you were on the outside world. In order to understand the new person, it is necessary to also see the old one. Also, if "Orange is the New Black" is "Lost," does this mean they're going to start having flash forwards later on? And does that mean Jason Biggs is the smoke monster?

But I digress. "Orange" is the second show created by Jenji Kohan, the first being "Weeds." If the last few seasons of "Weeds" left a bad taste in your mouth, then consider "Orange" as Kohan's way of pressing the reset button. This is a brand new world with an episode structure that literally allows endless possibilities.

"Orange is the New Black" is not just that female prison drama. This is a show about people who happen to be prisoners. Emphasis on the people part. That's why it expands to the characters' lives outside of prison, so there's a taste of life outside the prison walls. "Orange" is as much about life in prison as it is about people trying to maintain normality in a very abnormal place.

I wish I did a run through of each episode individually, and tried to cover the little moments that can get lost during binge watching. That will be for another time. So for now, I will try and recap all the best little tidbits of this awesome first season:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Top 5: Jack Nicholson Movies

Hold on, getting a poster of this in my room right now.
According to some recent reports, Jack Nicholson has retired from acting. Then, according to some other reports, Jack Nicholson hasn't retired from acting. I'm not sure which is true, but I really want to write this article.

It has been nearly three years since Nicholson has been credited in a movie and it doesn't look like has any projects planned for the future. And at the Oscars this year he seemed, well, old (apparently, his retirement is due to memory loss). I'd love some more Nicholson but if he decided to call it quits now, he'd be leaving behind an amazing legacy. Besides maybe Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Newman, few actors have had such consistent records. And most importantly, "The Bucket List" isn't the last credit listed on his IMDB page.

So I don't know if this is the end of his career or not but either way, it's never a bad time to celebrate Jack Nicholson. Also, this is a really fun way to put off my homework. 

Read On After the Jump: (Movies are sorted in order of the year that they came out).

Monday, September 2, 2013

Analog This: Breaking Bad- Every Dog Has His Day

This is a recap of episode 12 of season 5 of "Breaking Bad." The episode is "Rabid Dog."

Tonight's "Breaking Bad" episode requires a little history lesson on the "Breaking Bad" universe. So for just a brief moment, let's go back to season two. Remember that pink teddy bear that fell from an airplane that signified that Walt's selfishness could lead to an airplane crash? Well once again, Walt can't do anything without ruining the lives of others. In "Rabid Dog," Walt showed that if he was going down, his whole family would be going with him.