The Moose On Facebook

Yeah, it’s been a fairly quiet week here on the blog, mainly due to my trying to catch up on some stuff offline and also trying to get some longer more original posts ready, rather than simply feeding you the latest trailers and what-not. However, I did want to take a moment to mention that I have posted some interesting links and a few videos that I’ve run across on the Durnmoose Movie Musings Facebook page, and to encourage you to go there and give the page a “Like”, even if you’re already a regular “follower” of the blog. That way you’re sure not only to get the updates when I post new articles here, but to keep up with all those “little things” that I think might be interesting to you guys but don’t feel really inclined to do a full write-up on here or are simply links to videos or articles that say what I might say just as well as (or better than) I could, so… Also, your “liking” and sharing posts from the page there -and the page itself – helps your friends to see it, and who knows, they may just thank you for turning them on to all the fun going on here (he said with a smile).

So howzabout giving you friendly movie-loving moose a hand and heading over there and checking out what’s been going on? All ya gotta do is click right here.

 

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Saturday Double Feature: Jersey Boys (2014) and…

Okay, let’s start with a quick recap of the “rules”, shall we? The basic idea here is to take a movie that is out in theaters now, and pair it up with another movie from the 1980s or before. Sometimes the connection will be obvious, and sometimes it’ll be a little less so, but that’s part of the fun.

This week’s big opening is obviously going to be Clint Eastwood’s filmic version of the stage play Jersey Boys, which is the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

This is not however. Eastwood’s first attempt to bring a music legend to life on the big screen. No, that honor – along with the “honor” of being the other part of today’s double feature – goes to Eastwood’s 1988 film Bird which featured Forest Whitaker as Charlie “Yardbird” Parker.

So what do you think? What would you choose for a double feature with Jersey Boys? Leave your thoughts in the comments, along with ideas of any other upcoming movies you’d like to see “double featured”. Consider it, if you will, your chance to challenge me to come up with an interesting pair.

Until next time, Happy Viewing!

Standing On The Edge Of Greatness – Edge Of Tomorrow (2014)

eot1The problem with Doug Liman‘s Edge of Tomorrow is not that it’s a bad movie. It’s not. I actually found myself thoroughly entertained by it throughout its entire running time, and I thought that the design for the alien invaders was especially striking. It does a really good job of taking its basic premise and carrying through on it providing a few really nice touches along the way.

Nor is the problem in that basic premise. If you’ve seen the trailer, then you know that what we’re dealing with here is basically, as it has been repeatedly summarized, “Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers“. And there’s a reason you keep hearing that. It’s because that’s what the movie is. Unfortunately, that’s also all it is.

Yeah, I know, I’m the guy who repeatedly defended Pacific Rim for delivering exactly what it promised – Giant Robots Beating the Heck out of Giant Critters. And yet here I am slamming Edge of Tomorrow for basically doing the same thing. The difference is that with Pacific Rim the whole point of the exercise was that sense of sheer spectacle, and unfortunately for Edge of Tomorrow, it doesn’t have that to build up to, so when it gets where its going, well, even though it is, for the charaters and the audience, the first time we’ve actually reached that part in the story, there’s really nothing new to see. There are no plot twists that haven’t been telegraphed from miles off, there is no new sense of wonder, there is nothing that the movie aspires to beyond its tagline of “Live, Die, Repeat”.

eot3I’m sure it’s been noted elsewhere that Edge of Tomorrow is really the perfect video game movie, since the entire premise is that all the hero has to do is die and he wakes up at the last savepoint and resumes with the knowledge that he gained last time around trying to make it further into the adventure before he dies again and once more wakes up where he was to try to make it a bit further. And there’s no problem with that at all – as long as one is satisfied with watching Tom Cruise play the game as opposed to actually playing it yourself.

eot2Again, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike this movie at all, and found it had some nice entertaining touches along the way to its inevitable end. It’s one of those really almost-great movies that are perfect for a Summer afternoon when all you want to do is sit in a theater, eat some popcorn, and pass a couple of hours. And in a way, given the limitations of its premise, I think director Liman has done everything he can to bring us a perfectly good entertainment. (And honestly, the movie gains a couple of extra points for not being a number two or a prequel or anything like that.)

It’s just not one that I think I’ll ever, unlike its protagonist, see a need to repeat.

Top 250 Tuesday #210 – Videodrome (1983)

Continuing to wend my way through the Sight and Sound Top 250 Greatest Movies of All Time. This week, it’s #210 on the list, David Cronenbergs Videodrome. For a longer introduction to this series and a look at the full list, just click here. And if you want a heads-up on what I’ll be watching for next week in case you want to watch along, just head on over to the Facebook page or follow me on Twitter (both of those links are also in the sidebar) where I’ll generally be posting that info later in the day.

vd1David Cronenberg’s Videodrome is, honestly, one of those movies that I have kind of actively avoided watching since it was first released in 1983, and I’m not really sure why. I suppose at first it may simply have been that I missed it when it was in the theaters (though really at that point, I was actively seeking out anything that even vaguely looked like a horror or sci-fi movie) and then after that, when it came out on VHS there were simply other things that I wanted to see more.

But even since then, whenever the opportunity to watch it has come along, I’ve just said – at least in my mind – “No, thanks” and moved on.

I suppose it could be in large part due to the build-up of the Croneenberg “brand”. After all, he is a director who is somewhat renowned for a particular type of “body horror” that has never really appealed to me. Much like modern day directors such as Eli Roth, whose aim seems more towards seeing how far he can go towards turning his audiences’ stomachs rather than providing actual horror, Cronenberg, by reputation at least, has always seemed to fit into the same mold. Or, considering the time period in which he actually made Videodrome, perhaps he can be said to have shaped that mold to begin with.

At least, as I said, that has been a large part of his reputation, and that’s why I approached watching this film with not a small amount of trepidation.

(It was even something that the promise of seeing Debbie Harry, aka Blondie, topless couldn’t overcome, even in my teenage years when she was considered “Hawt!” and my hormones were running rampant and guiding my viewing choices as much, sometimes, as anything else.)

vd2Anyway, with all of that as background, you can understand why it’s taken me so long to get around to a movie like this one that might otherwise seem a somewhat natural fit for me. And why it’s likely to be a long time before I actually view/write up some of the other movies on the list like Salo (which is number 228).

So, what did I think of the movie itself? Well, I’ll be honest, it had both its positive and negative points for me, but the short version is, though it certainly isn’t a movie for the squeamish, neither is it simply a movie made to push the boundaries of good taste without reason. And I suppose it is that which has given it lasting resonance and earned it its place on this list.

vd3The basic set-up for the film is this: Max Renn (James Woods) runs a UHF television station in Toronto which specializes in outre programming, and who is always on the lookout for the next big thing which he can use to shock his audience and keep them watching. (Kids, get your parents – or possibly even grandparents at this point – to explain UHF and VHF television stations to you – it’d take more time than it’s really worth for me to do it here and now.) Upon being shown a couple of short clips of what appears to be a torture-filled and perhaps even actual “snuff” (meaning one where people are truly killed on camera) TV show called “Videodrome” which seems to be originating from Pittsburgh, Max decides to attempt to track down the creators of the show to see what he can find out about it and attempt to license it for his own station.

In the meantime, he also meets and begins a relationship with a sadomasochistic psychiatrist and radio host named Nikki Brand (hte aforementioned Deborah Harry) who seems interested not only in seeing how far she can push Max to go in their relationship, but in pushing herself further than is at all healthy and perhaps, if they can track down the studio that is producing the Videodrome show, even appearing on it as, as she puts it, a “contestant”.

vd4It turns out that the Videodrome television show is only the tip of the iceberg, however, and that there is a much more far-reaching and much more sinister plot afoot involving physically changing people into machines, reprogramming homeless people into an army of drones, and… well, perhaps I should leave the rest for you to find out on your own.

So, did Videodrome, the movie, actually live up (or is that down?) to my expectations? Well, for the most part yes, especially when one considers the time frame in which it was made and the fact that for the most part the effects had to be done practically, as opposed to simply “adding them in post” as woud be done today. And though there can be no denying the gore and violence of the film (as evidenced by the pictures accompanying this write-up), they all appears not simply to appall the viewer but in service to the plot and to what Cronenberg (who also conceived the idea and wrote the script) is trying to say, both about society then, and about the trends that he saw coming.

So while I have to say that Videodrome is certainly not a movie for everyone, it is also not a film that is without a purpose and, for a certain segment of movie lovers who are willing to endure (or who even enjoy) an extensive level of relatively realistic gore (again, the word “realistic” needs to be taken within the context of the time period within which it was made) it could turn out to be well worth watching.

 

An Ex-Batman Is Also An Ex-Birdman. But What Can He Do Now? – Here’s The New Trailer For Birdman (2012)

bird1Sorry about not posting a lot lately folks, but it’s just been one of those weeks. Still, when this trailer crossed my desk, I knew I wanted to get it up ASAP. Michael Keaton‘s upcoming movie Birdman, which is being directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu  looks to be not only incredibly meta, but also, from the look of this trailer, both powerful and fun.

With a cast that also includes Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, and Amy Ryan and the subtitle The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, this is obviously not your typical superhero movie. As a matter of fact, it’s not a superhero movie at all, but a look at what happens when an actor known for an iconic portrayal of a superhero tries to stage a late-in-life comeback by mounting a Broadway adaptation of Raymond Carver’s play What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.

Check it out:

Saturday Double Feature: Chef (2014) and…

Okay, let’s start with a quick recap of the “rules”, shall we? The basic idea here is to take a movie that is out in theaters now, and pair it up with another movie from the 1980s or before. Sometimes the connection will be obvious, and sometimes it’ll be a little less so, but that’s part of the fun.

I’m not sure exactly why, but one of my favorite movie sub-genres is what I guess you would call “food” movies, of more specifically perhaps, restaurant movies. Maybe the reason is that they tend to feature people either discovering or trying to perpetuate their true passions in the face of either indifference or outright opposition. For example, one of the movies out in limited release right now is Chef which boasts a surprisingly all-star cast including Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt and John Leguizamo (the movie was also wrritten and directed by Favreau, which may go a long way to explaining its star power):

Of course, this is not the kind of movie you want to watch if you’re on a diet.

Anyway, besides my l0ve for the genre, I also I decided to feature this one for today’s double feature because it gives me a chance to spotlight another all-time favorite of mine, Juzo Itami‘s 1985 feature Tampopo. It may not be quite so full of star power – though it does boast Ken Watanabe and Tsutomu Yamazaki, among its cast – but it does have one thing going for it that the newer film doesn’t. It is filmdom’s first “ramen western”:

I do feel I should warn you that the the film itself is not quite as straightforward as that trailer suggests, as it takes some very interesting turns and actually brings together some very disparate scenarios. For instance, here is another (unfortunately unsubtitled, though it really doesn’t need them) scene where a number of young ladies are being taught the “proper” way to eat a plate of spaghetti:

Actually, since I’m planning to try to catch Chef sometime this afternoon, and I have Tampopo here on disc, perhaps I’ll have to go ahead and run this as my own personal double feature today.

So how about you? Do you have your own favorite restaurant or “foodie” movie? Obviously, there are a lot of others I could have picked, so I’m curious to see what other pairings you might come up with for this one. Plus, since as I noted above, this is one of my favorite sub-genres, I’m curious to see what suggestions you might have of films that fit it that I might have missed, so please leave your thoughts in the comments, along with ideas of any other upcoming or current movies you’d like to see “double featured” here. Consider it, if you will, your chance to challenge me to come up with an interesting pair.

Until next time, Happy Viewing!

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When Apes Go To War – Here’s The New Poster For Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014)

I have to say I really like this new Dawn of the Planet of the Apes poster. There’s a certain power to it that really beings a sense of excitement to the proceedings, and it definitely seems designed to stand out from the run of the mill “character” poster that we see far too often. With the powerful image of Ceasar on his warhorse rising from the water, and the blue sky which is certain to stand out from the “darkness” inherent in so many other posters on display lately, if I wasn’t already completely on board for this flick, this would certainly put me over the top. I haven’t seen it “in the wild” yet, but can’t wait to see how it looks when it hits the cineplex. I have a feeling it’s really going to stand out and draw a lot of attention to itself, which is exactly what great poster design is supposed to do.

ape

 

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