Elsewhere Review: Under the Skin

Aliens that abduct people and do really horrible things with them.  An alien that looks past her job and into exactly what it means to be the things she’s tasked to collect.  Heavy, man.

If I had to grade Under the Skin, I’d give it a B.  Truly avant-garde filmaking, and not just for weirdness’ sake.  But it’s a love/hate proposition that not everyone will clamor for.

As always, clicky on the hyperlink for the original piece!

***

Movie Review: Under the Skin

Twitview — Scarlett Johansson bares more than her skin in this acid-trip sci-fi story.  And it pays off.

You’re probably used to seeing Scarlett Johansson being an A-#1 Badass lately.  With The AvengersCaptain America: The Winter Soldier, and the upcoming Lucy, she’s all sortsa fierce.  But in Under the Skin, she plays a no-named alien whose mission is to lure men to a black room, where they’re sucked into a pit and…well, not quite sure.  Director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast) gives you an intimate look into the life of a creature that lives to carry out her orders.  It’s a fascinating look, and a damn intriguing film.  Truth be told, you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it.  Glazer’s strange, wandering storytelling, and his freaky way of giving no character a name will either drive you bonkers, or allow you to sink in and immerse yourself in the story.  Think of Under the Skin as a sci-fi art film, one that’s more interested in mood and performance than substance.  It asks the question what does it mean to be human, and gives no real answers.  If you’re okay with that, you’ll be amazed at the performances and themes in the film.  If not?  Well, you’ll most likely want to see me roast in hell for telling you this movie is fascinating stuff.  Potato, po-tah-to.

under-the-skin-movie-poster

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Redmayne as Hawking in Theory of Everything to hit in November

Eddie Redmayne as Hawking

Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in Theory of Everything (image: http://www.mirror.co.uk)

Well, this looks interesting. The bummer is, we’ll have to wait ’til November to see it. Do I smell an Oscar contender?

Theory of Everything has Eddie Redmayne (Les Misérables) as Stephen Hawking, and just that is enough to get me in the door.  I’m dying to see how Marius Redmayne portrays the genius scientist.  I’m especially interested in Hawking’s collegiate and romantic relationship with Jane, a woman who was to become his wife of 25 years.  (Mostly because I’m too lazy to get my hands on Jane Hawking’s book Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen.)

Read on for the full press release!

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Feast your red-rimmed eys on 420 — The Documentary! Just in time for Sunday.

420_doc

C’mon now.  Yeah, this Sunday is Easter, and it’ll be Passover ’til the 22nd.  But what you really want to know about is Weed Day, amirite?  Yeah, this Sunday — when everyone normal will be celebrating with family…but then again why be normal? — the hip kids will be celebrating 4/20, the kinda-sorta national holiday affectionately called Weed Day.

Wanna take the high road (oops) and get some learnin’ in, rather than sitting around watching Grandma’s Boy or Idiocracy for the umpteenth time?  (Grandma’s Boy and Idiocracy are classics, yo.  No hating here.)  Why not stream a little weed culture through that talking box over there?  420 — The Documentary is a “thought-provoking film chronicling pot culture and the changing attitudes surrounding marijuana over almost eight decades of prohibition, culminating with legalization in two states.”  Maryland could be in on that legalization action, so get your facts straight…even if you may not be.

Wanna read all about the film, and check out how you can stream this doc via cable (and the usual non-cable streaming suspects first thing next month)?  Read the full press release after the jump!

And no y’all.  How many times do I have to tell you that you can’t smoke Easter grass?  Fine.  Do you.


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Review In A Flash: Rio 2

rio2Sometimes I’m too lazy for a full-out piece.  Sometimes everything I’ve got to say about a film can be summarized in a sentence or two.  Sometimes it’s both.  So herewith, a quick-n-dirty on Rio 2:

Before:  Oh boy!  I do love kiddie films!  I wonder if I needed to watch the original Rio, because I haven’t.  Ah well; Muppets Most Wanted was a hoot,I’m sure I’m in the right headspace for another fun flick.

During: Oh boy.  Maybe I should have thought this through. The animals are gorgeous and incredibly detailed.  The humans though?  Really slapdash.  The animators should be ashamed.  Other folks that should be ashamed are the folks that wrote the music.  Kristen Chenoweth can do no wrong, but “Poison Love” (with Flight of the Conchords‘ Jemaine Clement as evil cockatoo Nigel) goes on a bit too long and gets too weird.  At the end of the song you could have heard a pin drop in the theater; nice trick with a place full of kids amped on Sno-Caps.  With all the pretty birdies, focus on Busby Berkley numbers people.  Chenoweth’s frog Gabi is damn cute though.  Wonder if they’ll be selling versions in stores?

After: I’m ready to kill any adult that brings a sick kid to the movies.  Fear me.  The way Rio 2 plodded along, zipped by, then plodded some more didn’t help; I feel like I’ve been on the world’s most boring roller coaster.  This film should have focused on one or two storylines, not a baker’s dozen.  By the time credits rolled, I’d long since given up caring what would happen to Blu’s family in the Amazon, or if Nigel the cockatoo would get his revenge, if Jewel’s dad would like Blu (and how Blu would deal with rival Fernando), or if the Amazon rainforest would be saved by the insipidly-drawn humans….  More of the adorable Rapping Sloth please!  (Bless you, Amy Heidemann.  You are one damn talented voice actress.)   The 3D was okay but definitely not necessary.  The kids in the theater were laughing their respective hind parts off though, so guess Rio 2 did something right.

If I had to grad Rio 2, I’d give it a C.  Kids will eat this up, but parents will find the jumbled storytelling and off-kilter pacing tedious.

Elsewhere Review: Draft Day

If I had to grade this, I’d give it a C+.  It’s a bit above average, but lacks what’s necessary to bring it up to the really good stuff.

As always, clicky the title for the original review!

Movie Review: Draft Day

draft day onesheet

Twitview: Just like the NFL, good enough isn’t good enough.  Fun, but lacking.  3 stars.

There’s something about Draft Day I can’t seem to pin down.  Taken in pieces, it’s a fun film.  The scenes with Costner’s Clevenand Brown’s GM Sonny Weaver Jr. dealing with other GMs are funny, light and definitely Dude Banter at it’s best.  Then there’s Jennifer Garner, Ellen Burstyn, Denis Leary, Chi McBride: all amazing.  Kevin Costner’s doing some of his best work in ages.  Frank Langella is tearing up the screen with wicked glee as Cleveland Browns owner Anthony Molina (not to be confused with the real owner of the Browns, Jimmy Haslam).  There’s also several almost fully fleshed-out wannabe ballers with their own well-crafted backstory (my favorite: Chadwick Boseman as a truly good-guy player that just wants to go pro).  And all the NFL pomp & circumstance of the big day, complete with the NFL’s blessing (which means the climax really feels like you’re in the thick of it.)

But.  Why don’t I absolutely love Draft Day?

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Baltimore Screening of Transcendence: Free passes y’all!

transcendence_onesheet

Johnny Depp ala Max Headroom (look it up, kids).  Paul Bettany being gorgeous.  Morgan Freeman being awesome.  What more could you want?  Oh, the synopsis?  Here you go, one Transcendence synopsis coming right up:

TRANSCENDENCE
In Theaters and IMAX on April 18
Rated: PG-13
Run time: 119 mins
transcendencemovie.com

Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him. However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed—to be a participant in his own transcendence. For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can…but if they should.  Their worst fears are realized as Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power, to what end is unknown. The only thing that is becoming terrifyingly clear is there may be no way to stop him.

Ooh.  The Depp is in the Machine!  Wanna check it out?  Well, here’s how….

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Why I won’t be watching House of Cards on Netflix.

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(Photo: House of Cards)

Dear Netflix Honchos,

I’ve been reading about how your House of Cards production company has been strong-arming the Maryland General Assembly, asking for millions of dollars in tax incentives to shoot in Maryland. Or y’all will take your ball and go home.

Really? How very…um…asshole-y of you. I don’t know if you realize, but my state is teetering on a budget precipice, trying to make ends meet. Or perhaps you know but don’t give a rosy red. As of Monday, the increase was dead, but MD legislators pulled a fast one and moved the money you demanded out of the NON-PROFIT ARTS FUND. Like a loan shark, you demand or else, and the self-serving toadies acquiesced. But what happens when local artists find themselves without funding, just so y’all can stay here? You’re not going to help us with that, are you? Didn’t think so.

Apparently Kevin Spacey was lobbying in Annapolis this week, hoping for votes to approve the increase. So basically, he’s saying screw Maryland artists, hooray for Hollywood! Mr. Spacey, may I suggest an alternative; if you’re so gung-ho for more House of Cards money, why not pay it out of your own pocket? Problem solved!

I say that if Hollywood wants location shots – whether they’re in Baltimore, Washington DC or Hollywood, Florida – they shouldn’t balk at the price, instead of leaning on local governments to bend to your will at the expense of local programs and taxpayers. “But we bring money!” you cry! Sure you do. But the local Maryland arts scene brings more money to the state than you do.

You get what you pay for people. And you know y’all have the money. You just think you’re entitled to use someone else’s.

Love,

AF

PS: your show is a downer. Couldn’t get past episode 4 of season 1. All the fine acting in the world doesn’t make up for that. All the fanfare surrounding your show feels like so much DC Metro & Hollywood bandwagoning.

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