Poll: Which Films Are You Most Looking Forward To Seeing In November?


Last month, at this time, we asked you which four films you were most looking forward to seeing in the month of October.  The results are in and it appears that October is going to be all about The Thing, Footloose, The Rum Diary, The Skin I Live In, and The Ides of March.  Thank you to everyone who voted.

Here’s November’s poll.  As always, you can vote for up to four films and write-ins are accepted.  So, let us know — which films are you looking forward to seeing in November?

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6 More Quickies With Lisa Marie: Beginners, Hall Pass, Horrible Bosses, Paul, Prom, and Terri


When I swore to myself that I would write a review of every new film I saw in 2011, I failed to take into consideration that 1) I see a lot of films, 2) I have a day job, and 3) I’m like Ms. ADHD.  So, as part of my effort to catch up, here’s 6 quickie reviews. 

Beginners (directed by Mike Mills)

Beginners opened with a lot of critical hype earlier this year and, though it’s not quite as great as it’s being made out to be, it still deserved the majority of that praise.  At the very least, I retain better memories of Beginners than I do this summer’s other similarly hyped film, A Better Life.  Ewan McGregor is an artist who struggles to come terms with the death of his gay father (Christopher Plummer) while falling in love with a French actress (Melanie Laurent).  The autobiographical film effortlessly shifts from flashbacks to Plummer’s life in-and-out of the closet to McGregor’s relationship with Laurent and the end result is a meditation on love, secrets, and life.  Most of the pre-release buzz dealt with Plummer’s performance but, honestly, Plummer is good but you never forget you’re watching Christopher Plummer and Goran Visnjic, who plays Plummer’s boyfriend, overacts.  The film really belongs to Ewan McGregor who gives one of his best performances in this film.  Seriously, does any actor fall in love as wonderfully as Ewan McGregor?

Hall Pass (directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly)

Best friends Owen Wilson and Jason Sudekis are given a “hall pass” (i.e., permission to cheat) by their spouses (Jenna Fischer and Cristina Applegate).  The film’s forgettable but seriously, guys, don’t go asking us for a hall pass, okay?  One interesting point is that this film was co-written by the guy who won the first season of Project Greenlight.  Remember that show? 

Horrible Bosses (directed by Set Gordon)

Jason Sudekis also appeared in another comedy this year and if Hall Pass is one of the year’s most forgettable comedies, than Horrible Bosses is one of the best.  Basically Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Sudekis are stuck working for horrible bosses (played by Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, and Jennifer Aniston) and they decide that the only way to handle the situation is to commit mass murder.  There’s a lot I could say about this film but chances are, you’ve already seen it.  Therefore, you already know that this is a rare dark comedy that actually has the guts to be truly dark.  You also know that the entire cast brings an almost heroic sincerity to their often bizarre roles with Charlie Day’s misunderstood sex offender as an obvious stand-out.  Probably the best advice that I can give in this review is to enjoy and appreciate this film while you can before the inevitable sequel comes out and screws up all these good memories.

Paul (directed by Greg Mottola)

I didn’t see Paul when it was first released in theaters because the trailer really made it look kinda awful.  However, I did eventually give it a shot OnDemand and I was pleasantly surprised.  Two English sci-fi fanboys (played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) are taking a road trip to visit all of the major UFO sites in the U.S.  This leads to them meeting an alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) who is being pursued by the typical guys in black suits.  Anyway, this is a predictable film and the balance between the serious and comedic is often a bit awkward.  However, it’s still a likable film and how can’t you enjoy watching Pegg and Frost?  They can make even the lamest of jokes hilarious.  Kristen Wiig steals the film as a fundamentalist who, upon being enlightened about the nature of the universe by Paul, embraces blasphemy with endearing enthusiasm.

Prom (directed by Joe Nussbaum)

No, I did not force Jeff to take me to see this when it was first released in theaters back in April.  I tried, mostly be saying things like, “Wow, Prom looks like it would be a funny movie to see and spend the whole time making mean jokes about and making all the little tweens in the audience cry…” but he saw through my ruse and, if memory serves me correct, I ended up seeing the second worst film of 2011 (a.k.a. The Conspirator) instead.  Anyway, I ended up seeing Prom OnDemand last month and it’s not really that bad.  It’s not good either.  It’s just kinda there.  In other words, Prom is incredibly meh and that’s one thing prom night should never be.  (I loved my proms, by the way, and, whenever things seem overwhelming, I often think to myself, “If only every night could be Prom Night…”)  Prom is forgettable and inoffensive but come on, tweens deserve better films.  They are the future, after all.

Terri (directed by Azazel Jacobs)

Terri made me cry and cry and was one of my favorite movies of the summer.  It’s a surprisingly poignant film that worked wonders with material that, at first glance, seemed awfully conventional.  Terri (played by Jacob Wysocki) is a sensitive, obese teenager who is taken under the wing of an unconventional assistant principal (John C. Reilly).  It’s a familiar story but director Azazel Jacobs tells this story with care and sensitivity and Wysocki and Reilly bring their characters to life with such skill that you can’t help but get caught up in their story.  Terri’s loving but senile uncle is played by Creed Bratton, who proves here that he’s capable of doing a lot more than just parodying himself on The Office.  When I went to this movie, two old women sitting behind me went, “Awwww!” at a scene where Wysocki spontaneously hugs Reilly.  The film earns the sentiment.

Most of these films are available via OnDemand or are currently available on DVD.  Horrible Bosses and Terri are scheduled to be released in October while Beginners will come out in November.

Thoughts on the Battlefield 3 Beta


I received an email from Electronic Arts this week, letting me know that the Beta for Battlefield 3 was available to play about 48 hours from the main release. Everyone should be able to play it today, and from what I can tell, it’s well worth it for Battlefield Fans. This is just a quick synopsis of playing the game.

I feel like someone out there has been paying attention to the shortcomings of the Bad Company games, and it looks like it’s coming across nicely.

So far, the Beta works off of one huge map. As always, the battle is broken down into three areas within this map. The first of these is a large park. The second moves into a subway system and the third expands out to a city square. It almost feels larger than what was available in Bad Company 2, but is roughly the same size. It seems that a number of changes were implemented, particularly in the explosions in the game. A lot of changes have been implemented, particularly in some of the movements of your character. You now have the ability to go prone and vault over low obstacles. Going Prone has already proven effective in a number of game sessions as fireteams now lie in wait near the foliage close to the demolition targets. It’s become much harder to be able to see anyone when making your way into a situation. That’s a very nice touch, considering that in the past, the most one could do was kneel.

The game still works off of the Class system from previous BF games, but the graphics have been updated considerably. While it may not be very noticeable in the first part of the battle, once you reach the subway, it’s nice to see how large the world you’re in is and what you can do with it. When you throw down a package, it’s a very large box, compared to the small ones in Bad Company Two.

The guns in the game are interesting. The opening gun for the Assault Class remains the M16, but the Specialist class has the M4 as a starting rifle. Additionally, playthroughs on this map will allow you to unlock various attachments such as scopes and new weapons. Though I haven’t seen it first hand, the game explains that laser attachments and flashlights will actually blind a person when shined at them. The guns (the shotgun in particular) appear to be a little overpowered, though that could be my playing a little too much Gears of War before starting BF3. It’s tactical, as always.

One thing I would like to see (unless I missed it) was Night Vision. There is one area of the game, where it’s almost completely dark and is really almost impossible to see anything. You have to pause and look for where the shots are come from and just fire in that general direction. It would be nice to see, if it’s there.

Overall, Battlefield 3 is really shaping up to look like an intense game. I’m eager to see what other maps they’ll have in store later on.

Scenes I Love: Zombie


Lisa Marie picked her favorite scene from Lucio Fulci’s classic Zombie (aka Zombi, Zombie Flesh Eaters) and now I counter with my own favorite scene from this film.

This scene has a simple set-up. The wife of the doctor researching zombification on the island of Matool gets herself in a sort of a pickle. Zombies have laid siege to her island home and most of her servants have either fled into the night or have become zombie chow. She’s barricaded herself in a room as zombie begin to batter down doors to get to her. It’s in the sequence where she has thought herself safe as she’s barricaded the door to her room when the hand and arm of a zombie breaks through the door (for some reason quite flimsy and prone to splintering) and grabs her by the hair and begins to pull her out through the splintered hole in the door.

I could continue to describe the scene, but I think it’s better for people to see why this scene is the one I love from Lucio Fulci’s Zombie.

Scenes I Love: Zombie Vs. Shark


Okay, so I realize that this is a pretty familiar scene.  Along with being one of the highpoints of Lucio Fulci’s seminal Zombi 2, it was also used — out of context — in a television commercial a few years ago.  I can’t remember what the commercial was for but I do remember being ticked off whenever I was on twitter and I saw people who had probably never even heard of Lucio Fulci going, “Awww!  I love the Shark/Zombie makeout commercial!” 

(Oh!  Wait, I do remember — it was one of those “Windows So-and-So was my idea!” commercials.  God, I hated that advertising campaign.)

Anyway, here’s a scene I truly love, shown in its proper context — the Zombie/Shark fight from Lucio Fulci’s 1979 masterpiece Zombi 2.  One thing I always wondered was whether or not that the shark came back as a zombie shark.

I kinda hope it did.

What Lisa Watched Last Night: Terra Nova Episode 1.1 — “Genesis”


Last night, I actually put off watching Dancing With The Kinda Stars so that I could catch the first episode of Fox’s much-hyped sci-fi series, Terra Nova.  This show was produced by Mr. Mainstream himself, Steven Spielberg.

Why Was I Watching It?

I was beaten into submission by the nonstop commercials.  Now, I have to admit that the commercials seemed to represent everything that I traditionally dislike in my entertainment: political subtext, “inspiring” speeches, and Stephen Lang.  However, it also had dinosaurs and seriously, who doesn’t love dinosaurs?

What’s It About?

Okay, we’re several years into the future and the Earth looks a lot like Blade Runner.  Why?  It turns out that Al Gore was right and ManBearPig has basically messed up the entire planet.  However, there is hope!  There’s some sort of tear in the whole space-time continuum and stepping through it allows a few lucky citizens to go back to the Island from Lost.  However, since this is the FAR future, nobody remembers Lost so they think they’ve actually gone back to the prehistoric past.  In the prehistoric past, time travellers are living in a small community that is overseen by a vaguely menacing guy who we suspect might secretly be evil because he’s named Nathaniel and he’s played by Stephen Lang.

Anyway, there’s this family that has issues in the future and since Jeremy Kyle is long dead (we can only hope), they can’t go on TV to work it out.  So, they go through the time portal.  The father — who is a fugitive from future law — quickly becomes a part of Nathaniel’s security force.  Meanwhile, the teenage children get all rebellious and there’s these guerillas who live outside the compound and they’re led by a woman who might as well have been played by Michelle Rodriguez but wasn’t.

Oh!  And there are dinosaurs!  Yay!

What Worked?

The show is filmed in Australia and, as a result, it’s really pretty to look at. 

I make fun of Stephen Lang a lot because I honestly believe that he gave one of the worst performances in cinematic history in Avatar.  (Fortunately, he was acting opposite Sam Worthington, who can make anyone look like an Olivier by comparison.)  But, I have to admit, Lang is well-cast here and comes the closest to anyone in this episode to actually being memorable.

The dinosaurs are impressive and fun to watch.  Unfortunately, the fake dinosaurs often displayed more personality than the living actors but still, who doesn’t love dinosaurs?  Hopefully, in a future episode, the annoying and way too English talk show host Jeremy Kyle will come through the portal and get devoured (in slow-motion) by one of the dinosaurs.  I may start a letter-writing campaign.

What Doesn’t Work?

A lot.

My biggest complaint with the show was that this episode really put the sloth into the giant sloth.  Seriously.  Lost took its time as well but the show itself was never boring.  Terra Nova, at least in this episode, seems to feel that elaborate special effects are a proper substitute for interesting characters, witty dialogue, and anything else that might organically create narrative momentum.  I actually ended up falling asleep during the final 30 minutes of the show and had to watch the finale off of the DVR.

The dinosaurs were impressive but the rest of the show’s special effects were rather predictable and a little on the bleh side.  The time portal looked like every other time portal in the history of science fiction and the dystopian future looked a lot like Blade Runner but without any of the small details to make it feel like anything other than CGI. 

I am officially bored with shows that use global warming as a plot point.  Seriously, they’re always so smug about it. 

This show is being compared, by many people, to Lost.  Like Lost, the scenery is beautiful and the plot has the potential for a lot of secrets and mysteries to be uncovered.  However, Lost also had a lot of quirky, interesting characters and that’s something that Terra Nova, on the basis of this episode, is lacking.  The first episode of Terra Nova felt a lot like Lost if Lost had only focused on Jack Shepherd and Michael Dawson.  Terra Nova needs its own Sawyers, Hurleys, and John Lockes. 

Now, I want to make clear — my comments here are strictly based on seeing Genesis and a lot of my criticisms could be due to the fact that it’s just the first episode.  Hopefully, as a series, Terra Nova will — much like Lost and Fringe and other comparable shows — evolve beyond the strengths and flaws of the first episode.

“OMG!  Just like me!” Moments

Much like Nathaniel’s rebellious daughter, I would also go a little stir crazy if I was stuck in that highly regimented, socialistic commune.  Seriously, the commune looked like a really bleh place to live.

Lessons Learned

Dinosaurs are neat and global warming is tedious.

Let’s Second Guess The Academy: 2006 Best Picture


Hi there and welcome to the latest, long-delayed edition of Let’s Second Guess The Academy.  Previously, we second-guessed the Academy’s choice for best picture of 1990, 1994, 1998, and 2002.  It seems only fitting that we now jump ahead another 4 years and reconsider the race for best picture of 2006.

The Academy nominated five films for best picture 0f 2006.  Those films were Babel, The Departed, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, and The Queen.  They ultimately named The Departed the best film of 2006.  Were they right?

And now, here’s my favorite part of second guessing the Academy.  What if none of the five nominated films had been released in 2006?  Which other films would you have nominated?  Below is a list of some of 2006′s most acclaimed and memorable films.  You can vote for up to 10 replacement nominees and write-in votes are allowed.

As always, vote once, vote often, and have fun!