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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Witness for the Prosecution (1957) - Review

Billy Wilder directs this witty, engaging courtroom drama overflowing with great characters entangled in a trial that not only hold your interest, but have you longing for films of yesterday. 

Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power) is accused of seducing and murdering the rich old widow in order to inherit her fortune.  Vole, of course, claims he is innocent and was simply befriending a lonely woman.  No one seems to be buying it except for the superb Charles Laughton as Sir Wilfrid Robarts, a criminal lawyer with a taste for brandy and cigars who ignores the advice of his doctors to take the case.  He is the only chance Mr. Vole will be set free. 

Full of twists, turns, revelations and questions you will stay interested interested throughout even if it plays a bit melodramatic.  Along with an engaging story and a supporting cast full of familiar faces, the lead performances are certainly a draw here; Laughton's performance is delightfully inflated and offbeat, Tyrone Power's is relatable as the wrong man and Marlene Dietrich as Vole's cold and mysterious wife can't help but demand your attention.  Sit back and experience why some films are called classics. 

8 out of 10

Friday, August 23, 2013

Superman Vs Daredevil... er... Batman Gets Its Batman

It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.
I am annoyed.  Bane size annoyed.  The news broke late last night that they have cast the man behind the cowl... Batman.  Since Warner Brothers screwed up Superman... again, they knew they needed to make a big move to save the franchise if they were ever to get the long rumored Justice League off the ground.  They made that power move when they decided to to start developing the Superman Vs Batman film, announced for 2015.  Awesome, right?  You would think so.  I was one of those that heard the news and being the part geek that I am, the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up as I watched the Comic Con announcement of the film that would combine the two greatest superheroes ever created.  For weeks we waited for a name to be attached to the film.  This was not as easy of a task as you would expect since the very popular Christian Bale reportedly turned down a $60 Million paycheck to reprise the role.  With a $60 million offer out there, you knew Warner Brothers was serious about casting the right man for the part.

That is, until now.  The new Batman for the highly anticipated, the geek dream of dreams, the superhero film to top all superhero films is... drumroll please... Ben Affleck.  Sound the dying trumpet from Price Is Right.  The guy that won the Best Picture Oscar for his highly overrated piece of shit, Argo - the same guy that for some strange reason was not nominated for his performance in the highly rated POS Argo, whose beard had more personality than he did in his own film, the same guy whose poor acting and role choices in such movies as Gigli and Daredevil sent him into exile, turning him into a punchline... yep, THAT guy is your new Dark Knight.  To that I say Argof*ckyourself.

I usually try to keep emotion out of my writing, but I must admit, I am pissed.  So much so, I have come off a temporary hiatus from the site (one not taken by choice, but rather because of a lack of time as I make some career moves) to bitch about this terrible, terrible decision.  There were rumors that the role would be filled by Ryan Golsing or Josh Brolin... you know, actors.  Instead we get Hollywood's newest, undeserving golden boy... Affleck.  And before you call me a hater (you know who you are) I like the guy, I rooted for him to rise above his career drought and to be at least the mild success story he deserved.  Gone Baby Gone and The Town were fantastic films, both superior to Argo.  After watching them though, I NEVER said to myself, "boy that guy can act."  The news gets worse, while doing a little research for this rant I just learned that Affleck is also lead in the adaptation of "Gone Girl" when it comes to the big screen, a film I was looking forward to.  Great TWO major disappointments in one day.  No wonder I am writing at 2am.

There is not much more that I can say other than Hollywood REALLY screwed up.  After waiting for half a decade they delivered us a new, barely acceptable Superman.  After making some massive mistakes with the film they decided to do what any clear thinking person would do, they kept the same director that is blamed for single-handedly messing up that reboot and to the mix Ben Affleck and you have a recipe for disaster.  You couldn't handle this more poorly unless you were doing it on purpose.  Has anyone checked to see who is on the board over at Warner Brothers?  Any chance a Mr. M. Bialystock is a big shareholder at WB?

There was a rumor stating that Affleck was offered to helm the Justice League film.  If this was their way of locking him down to the direct by handing over a role he surely does not deserve... shame on you Hollywood.  Shame on all of you.  Remember, with a Justice League on the way this will most certainly not be a one and done for Mr. Affleck (unless they can kill both franchises with one Batman and Robin sized disaster) he will be Batman for years to come as they setup the Justice League film for a later release.  My kids will get to grow up with Ben as Batman... that makes me sad.

I am going to go now.  I certainly can bitch some more, but that is all it will be, bitching.   There is nothing anyone can do now.  Our fate is sealed.  That is, unless you push for change the easiest way possible.  Do not give your money to the film.  Let Warner Brothers know you are not interested in this uninspired piece of casting.  When the film comes out, I WILL see it.  But know that when I do I will buy a ticket for another film and sneak into Daredevil Vs... Batman Vs Superman.  If I wrong, which I pray that I am, I will buy a ticket for the film.  Sadly, I do not see that being necessary.

Until then, I am going to sit here and wait for someone to announce this is a joke as I reminiscence about some of the better Batman castings, starting with Clooney, Kilmer, that dresses up like Batman in Times Square...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Parkland Trailer

What looks like the first real contender for this year's award season, Parkland has an amazing cast and Zac Efron. Hoping this film is good enough to get the incredible Paul Giamatti a nice golden trophy - he deserves one.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Jiro Dreams of Dreams of Sushi - review (2011)

A documentary about sushi that is about so much more than sushi.  The film focuses on Jiro Ono an 85 year-old master sushi maker, whose life is so focused around the culinary delight that he dreams of it.  Over the years his efforts have paid off - his sushi is world renowned.  To get reservations you need to book a month in advance.  His restaurant follows his philosophy (and he offers quite a bit of philosophizing) that is it important to be the best at one thing and focus on it, so much so that sushi is all he serves - no appetizers, no desserts, no blooming onions, just sushi.  Watching this artist work at his life's passion and listening to him describe the how even after decades of trying to perfect his craft he continues to strive to improve it is inspiring.  While doing so he passes down little tidbits of wisdom to the audience and his two sons (both looking to be his successor) that can be applicable for anyone, not just sushi makers.

The delightfully direct Jiro is enough to keep you entertained for the short 82 minute run time, but there is much more to the film; it offers an insight into the restaurant business, a sibling rivalry, a look at Japanese culture and other subtexts that flesh it out.  If any of the above interest you or if you are just interested in sushi check the film out, just don't do so on an empty stomach, the shot after shot of perfectly prepared sushi may be too much to handle.

7.5 out of 10