Monthly Archives: September 2011

Genre Spotlight: Mystery, Alaska

I play hockey and I fornicate, ’cause those are the two most fun things to do in cold weather.

Those who know me know that I am a huge hockey lover beside a movie lover. So when we decided to do a month dedicated to sports, it was a no-brainer for me. The only question was “What hockey movie to review?” 2004’s Miracle about the 1980 USA Olympic team was a consideration. I even contemplated 1986’s Youngblood with Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze. Sure there are The Mighty Ducks movies as well. Ultimately I went with 1999’s Mystery, Alaska. Sure there is also 1977’s Slap Shot, but I felt I couldn’t do that movie enough justice with a review for that is the Holy Grail of hockey movies.

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Moneyball (Devil’s Advocate Review)

Let’s get this out-of-the-way first: Moneyball is not a movie about baseball; it was never intended to be a movie about baseball. And, in an unbelievable turn of events, the book Moneyball is not about baseball.  It is a story with baseball as a backdrop; more a lesson in how baseball is a business first, dwelling and hand-wringing over the bottom line, always looking to buy low and sell high. So don’t expect to see a lot of spring training montages or heated rivalries or late-inning home run heroics. Actually, that last one you may see, but don’t get your hopes up.

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Killer Elite

I’ve been wracking my brain for more accurate titles for Killer Elite…maybe Killer Not-So Elite, Killer Amateur, or Killer Movie Clichés perhaps. With that said, I assume you can tell where this review is going.

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Ask the Advocates Episode 8: Best Animated Movie

This week Mike and Rene discuss who is the king of animated films.

Submit your questions today.

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Ask the Advocates Episode 7: Movies That Made Us Cry

This week the Advocates discuss the films that have made them cry unabashedly, like wee little lads who have skinned their knees.

Thanks and much virtual love goes out to listener Callum Reavey for submitting this question.

Submit your questions today.

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Episode 89: Drive

This week the Advocates go for a ride with Ryan Gosling at the helm, as they talk Drive.

Listen as they discuss polarizing violence, Carey Mulligan, and 80’s synth pop.

Give us a listen because we have a license to thrill…but mostly drive.

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Moneyball

Of the two Michael Lewis books made into movies in recent history, I’d have to say that Moneyball has a leg up over The Blind Side. Why you ask?  Well first of all, no Sandra Bullock. Big check in the plus column.  Second of all, the story is neither exploitative or schmaltzy. And third of all, and I can’t stress the point enough, no Sandra Bullock.  Everyone wins.

Moneyball is the story of a major league baseball team and the general manager who is given the task of putting together a team with limited funds. Billy Beane, played by the ever so talented Brad Pitt, enlists the help of Jonah Hill’s Peter Brand to help put together a team that stays within their means.

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Devil’s DVD Disappointment: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

To say the hype and expectations for the third movie in the Transformers movie series were greater than the previous installment would be an understatement. After disappointing reactions from Revenge of the Fallen, even Michael Bay himself acknowledged that he was going to do what he can to make Dark of the Moon superior to its predecessor.

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Genre Spotlight: Driven

Driven is an open wheel racing film, directed by Renny Harlin and starring Sylvester Stallone, who also wrote and produced the thing. It centers on a young racing driver’s efforts to win the now defunct ChampCar World Series, while being aided by a retired veteran, and hindered by his own self doubt.

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Drive

“If I drive for you, you give me a time and a place. I give you a five-minute window, anything happens in that five minutes and I’m yours no matter what.”

Every now and then, I am genuinely surprised by a movie. I try to avoid trailers as much as possible now because they tend to show all of the good scenes of a movie. I don’t really read movie reviews too much either for the same reasons. I don’t mind spoilers, but movie reviewers and critics love to give specifics for everything. Which inevitably ends up spoiling something. I might see a movie because of its director or star, but lately I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff at random. Drive is a movie that I knew almost nothing about before seeing it other than the fact that it starred the guy from The Notebook (Ryan Gosling) and looked like a throwback to the car chase movies I had seen as a kid (Bullit, The French Connection). Drive turns out to be the best surprise for me at the movies this year.

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3

Hanna (Sophie Rois) and Simon (Sebastian Schipper) are a more-or-less happy couple in their 40s – professional, successful, and comfortable together even if the spark has long since fled the building. Living under a constant cloud of aging, dying and general new-millennium malaise, first Sophie then Simon independently meet and fall for Adam (Devid Striesow), who awakens in each of them a new lust for life and perhaps a new outlook on our times and society as a whole – for them, and for all of us.

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Episode 88: Summer Wrap Up

This week Jonathan, Mike, Rene, and Mike take a look at the summer that was.  From Norse Gods to haunted space crafts and everything in between, we review the films of this past summer.

Give us a listen because this episode is big and size matters.

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Ask the Advocates Episode 6: What Film Deserves a Video Game?

This week Joe and Mike discuss what films should be made into video games.

Submit your questions today.

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Shaolin

Amitābha”

Shaolin is the latest historical epic to hit the theaters from overseas and it’s another example of how some genres Hollywood can never get right. It’s a good action drama. The closest Hollywood can get to that usually is The ExpendablesShaolin, starring a who’s who of Chinese kung fu and action movies (Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Wu Jing), is a drama with some great action scenes in it. It’s a mess of a movie that redeems itself in the last hour.

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Warrior (Devil’s Advocate Review)

I’ll tell you what: you do that to someone on the street and they’d lock you up and throw away the key! Break out the yellow tape, Sam. Tommy’s walking away from the cage like he’s leaving a crime scene.

Warrior like almost every other movie out there currently is not anything original. In the day and age of movie remakes. Warrior takes a bit of other previously done movies and adds new twists.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Bridesmaids

I have never been a bridesmaid. Probably not shocking based on my gender, appearance, and lack of ovaries. I have, however, been in many wedding parties. Not only that, but I’ve been the best man in at least six weddings (the last being that of Joseph “Mumbles” Wilhelm). Why you ask? Because I am literally the best man there is…for the job. And even then I still, always, screw up some aspect of my responsibilities. Now, imagine you put an insecure, self absorbed, lady-child in charge of everything. Would anything go right? Read the rest of this entry

Genre Spotlight: Homeboy

This was supposed to be a review of Raging Bull. I’d seen it before, but couldn’t remember if I liked it or not, so I figured, hey, why not revisit it for the theme month? Then I started watching it and remembered I really don’t like Raging Bull at all. So I hopped onto Netflix to find a different sports movie to watch; I settled on Mickey Rourke’s 1988 film Homeboy. You may be thinking, Homeboy? I’ve never heard of that. I assure you, there is a reason. In short, I had made a terrible mistake.

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Contagion

Contagion, Steven Soderbergh’s return to “mainstream” cinema, boasts a lot of big-named Hollywood stars, but at what cost? For each plot thread picked up by a Damon or a Fishburne just as many are left to flounder without consequence or reason.

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Episode 87: Colombiana

This week Toor and Mike travel to Colombiana, where the seats are plentiful, the whiskey flows like a river, and the cliches are in full bloom.

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Ask the Advocates Episode 5: The Internet’s Effect on Filmmaking

This week Mike, Rene, and Mike field a question from Twitter follwer @FilmFundsEU (formerly GetFilmsMade) regarding how the internet has changed the way films are made.

Submit your questions today.

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Burning Bright DVD

A young woman in a vest and a pair of shirts and her autistic brother are stalked around a boarded up house by a hungry tiger unleashed on them by their step father.

Ok, stop. Now, if that doesn’t sound fun to you, then there’s really not much point you carrying on reading this review.

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The Troll Hunter DVD

“We need a change in troll management.”

The last few years have brought some great ideas and movies from Europe. The [rec] movies and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Millennium trilogy) are both good examples of this. Now I’d say you can add The Troll Hunter to that list. A mix of horror comedy and mockumentary, The Troll Hunter is a fun horror movie with a great imagination and an even better sense of humor.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Thor

“I still don’t think you’re the god of thunder… but you ought to be”

Marvel Studios (the movie branch of the comic publisher) struck gold with Iron Man – a movie whose success they’ve been trying to replicate ever since. Does Thor once again capture lightning in a bottle, or is the thunder-god’s movie just a passing drizzle? Read the rest of this entry

Genre Spotlight: Bend It Like Beckham

“Honey, all I’m saying is there is a reason why Sporty Spice is the only one of them without a fella.”

Ah, the early 2000s, when David Beckham was king, the Spice Girls weren’t quite a distant memory, and Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain were kicking ass and taking names in front of a world audience. It was a new millennium, the entire world appeared to be changing before our very eyes, and every soccer-playing teenage girl just knew in their hearts that it could be all theirs, if only given the chance.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: X-Men: First Class

Set to tell the tale of the early days of how the X-Men came to be is the prequel of sorts to the previous X films is X-Men: First Class. Matthew Vaughn directs this film to show the origins of the two main leaders of the warring factions in the mutant community Charles Xavier aka Professor X and Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto.

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Apollo 18

Based on overheard pre-show conversation, Hollywood has apparently left many younger-ish moviegoers with the impression that the ill-fated Apollo 13 was our last attempted mission to the moon. The Apollo program actually continued on for three more years and four more successful moon landings, missions which saw the first deployment of Lunar Rovers and the famous miles-long driving of at least two golf balls (Alan Shepard, Apollo 14). By 1973, however, with budget cuts, waning public interest in the space program, and increased attention being paid to the Skylab project, the planned Apollo missions 18 thru 20 were unceremoniously cancelled.

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Ask the Advocates Episode 4: Most Coveted Movie Prop

This week Mike and Joe discuss the movie prop they would most love to own.

Submit your questions today.

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Episode 86: Fall Preview

This week all of the Devil’s Advocates gather to discuss the films of the fall season.

They look at what they are looking forward to and what they are looking forward to avoiding.

Give us a listen because fall is short and winter will soon be upon us.

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Our Idiot Brother

Our Idiot Brother is more therapy than comedy; a cinematic trip to the psychiatrist – if the psychiatrist is a shaggy, magical hippie. In a deserved lead role, Paul Rudd is the idiot (and shrink) in question – a man dumb enough to sell drugs to an uniformed officer, yet smart enough to solve life’s petty problems in 90 minutes or less.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Hanna

If you happened to catch last year’s Dogtooth you understand what kind of affect raising a child in an extremely sheltered way can have. Director Joe Wright’snewest film Hanna is a movie that looks at this aspect but takes it in another direction, think more James Bond and less psychotic brainwashing. Saoirse Ronan plays Hanna, a teenager who grew up in a Finland forest along with her father Erik, played by Eric Bana. Hanna is taught to hunt, to survive on her own, and try to appear to be a normal 16-year-old to whomever she may run into, no matter what language they speak. The two aren’t living in the forest hunting wild game because they enjoy the taste of reindeer. Erik and Hanna are in training, training for an inevitable showdown with CIA agent Marissa played by Cate Blanchett. An electronic beacon is eventually triggered that tells the CIA where the two are hiding and the hunt is on. But who’s hunting who here?