From All The Cats And Humans At The Shattered Lens, We Hope You Have You Had A Wonderful Holiday!


“Merry Christmas, movie house!”

“And happy New Year to you … in jail!”

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus….”

“Now wait a minute, Susie. Just because every child can’t get his wish that doesn’t mean there isn’t a Santa Claus.”

“You must believe in Mr. Kringle and keep right on doing it. You must have faith in him.”

“Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…”

“How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?”

From all of your friends at the Shattered Lens, we hope that you have had a happy holiday and we look forward to sharing more with you in the year to come!

Here’s The Latest Teaser For Black Panther!


2017 is nearly over and soon, we’ll be obsessing over the films of 2018!

And one of the films that we’ll definitely be obsessing the most over will be the latest installment in the MCU, Black Panther!

Just in time for Christmas, a new teaser has dropped for Black Panther and here it is:

Playing Catch Up With The Films of 2017: The Boss Baby (dir by Tim McGrath)


I have to admit that The Boss Baby is an animated film that I have mixed feelings about.

Actually, that shouldn’t be surprising.  The Boss Baby is the epitome of the type of film that is disliked by critics but loved by audiences.  It got fairly dismissive reviews but it also made a ton of money and apparently, there’s a sequel in the works.

It’s a product of Dreamworks Animation, which has always basically been Pixar without the edge.  If Pixar films often seem to be about the animators working out their own personal issues through their work, the films from Dreamworks are often distinguished by just how little is actually going on beneath the surface.  If Pixar specializes in crowd pleasers that challenge you to think, Dreamworks specializes in crowd pleasers that invite you to sit back and relax.

(Of course, that’s a generalization.  Dreamworks is responsible for the Shrek films, the majority of which I absolutely love.  At the same time, as much as I love Pixar, I would warn against giving too much thought to anything in the first two Cars films.)

Anyway, The Boss Baby is the story of Ted, a little baby who wears a suit and tie and who sounds just like Alec Baldwin.  Strangely, only his older brother , Tim (Max Bakshi), appears to see anything strange about any of this.  Everyone just dismisses Tim’s concern as a product of Tim being jealous of his baby brother and, to a certain extent, they have a point.  The older children are always jealous of their younger siblings.  (Fortunately, I was the youngest of four so I never had to be jealous of anyone.)  Still, it turns out that Tim is correct about something being strange about Ted, who has actually been sent into the world on a secret mission.  Francis E. Francis (Steve Buscemi) is the CEO of Puppy Corp. and he’s conspiring to make puppies cuter than babies.  The Boss Baby has to stop him and he only has a few days to do so before he forgets how to speak and turns into an ordinary baby.

It’s a surprisingly busy plot and a lot of it feels as if it was ripped off from the Toy Story films.  Instead of talking toys, we’ve got a talking baby.  Just as Toy Story 3 featured a lengthy chase scene and a bitter villain, The Boss Baby features a lengthy chase scene and a bitter villain.  Much as how every Toy Story movie ended with a rumination on what it means to get older and grow up, The Boss Baby ends with a rumination on what it means to get older and grow up.  Many times, The Boss Baby feels like a compilation of scenes and characters lifted from other animated films.

At the same time, the idea of a baby wearing a suit and talking like a New York tough guy is undeniably cute.  I’m not the world’s biggest Alec Baldwin fan but, in this case, it’s perfect casting.  As the film itself makes clear, babies are cute.  This is especially true when they’re animated and you’re not the one who has to change their diapers or clean up after them.

There’s a thin line between keeping an audience happy and pandering and, often, The Boss Baby steps over that line.  It’s a very derivative film, one that never reaches either the comedic or the emotional highs of a good Pixar film.  However, the baby is cute and sometimes, that’s enough.

 

Playing Catch-Up With The Films of 2017: Churchill (dir by Jonathan Teplitzky)


2017 is shaping up to be the year of films about Winston Churchill.

For instance, Dunkirk has been an Oscar front-runner ever since it was released last summer.  Winston Churchill does not actually appear in Dunkirk but his shadow hangs over the entire film.  Whenever Mark Rylance says that he’s doing what the prime minister requested him to do, we know that he’s talking about Winston Churchill.

Darkest Hour, which I hope to see this week, features Gary Oldman in the role of Churchill.  For most of the year, a lot of people (like me) assumed that Darkest Hour would be a definite best picture nominee and a probable winner.  While the film seems to have lost a little of its luster, everyone still seems to agree that Gary Oldman is not only going to be nominated by best actor but that he also has a pretty chance of finally winning.

However, before either of those films were released, there was Churchill.  Chuchill received a very limited release in June.  It starred Brian Cox in the title role and it took place in the days leading up to D-Day.  It follows Churchill as he struggles with self-doubt.  He is haunted by nightmares about the men he lost while a military commander in 1915.  He worries that he is being marginalized by the Americans (represented by John Slattery in the role of Dwight D. Eisenhower).  He worries that if he authorizes the invasion of Normandy, he’ll run the risk of losing whatever prestige he has left.  What if the invasion ends in disaster?

That question right there is the main problem with Churchill.  If you know anything about history, you know that the invasion of Normandy was a victory for the Allies, albeit a costly one.  Therefore, for this film to maintain any sort of suspense about what ‘s going to happen, it has to be viewed by people who don’t know about history.  But people who don’t care about history probably won’t be interested in watching a somewhat stuffy film about Winston Churchill.

Despite a few surrealistic nightmare sequences, Churchill ultimately feels like it belongs more on PBS than a movie screen.  It doesn’t surprise me to learn that the majority of director Jonathan Treplitzky’s work has been for British television because Churchill really does feel like a heavily edited version of a 6-hour miniseries.  You watch and you’re impressed by the production values and some of the performances but you find yourself wondering if certain have scenes have been cut out.  If Churchill had been made for HBO, I imagine that Brian Cox and Miranda Richardson (as Churchill’s wife) would be Emmy front-runners.  But, as a feature film, it feels like a decidedly minor portrayal of a major figure.

One final note: all films about the British government during World War II are required to feature at least one scene with King George VI.  Colin Firth, in The King’s Speech, remains the best George.  Laurence Fox in W.E. was the worst.  In Churchill, King George VI is played by James Purefoy.  He doesn’t have a big role but he does a good job with it.  To be honest, I wish that his role had been bigger because he and Cox are entertaining to watch when they’re acting opposite each other.

 

 

Cleaning Out The DVR: Escaping Dad (dir by Ross Kohn)


(Hi there!  So, as you may know because I’ve been talking about it on this site all year, I have got way too much stuff on my DVR.  Seriously, I currently have 193 things recorded!  I’ve decided that, on January 15th, I am going to erase everything on the DVR, regardless of whether I’ve watched it or not.  So, that means that I’ve now have only have a month to clean out the DVR!  Will I make it?  Keep checking this site to find out!  I recorded Escaping Dad off of the Lifetime Movie Network on December 16th!)

One of the good things about Escaping Dad is that the film’s premise is right there in the title.  Not only does it let you know exactly what type of movie you’re about to watch but it’s also helpful if you’re like me and you only have a ten minute attention span.

“What movie is this again?”

Escaping Dad.”

“Oh yeah.  What’s it about again?”

“Escaping Dad.”

See, how that works?

Anyway, in this case, the Dad in question is Darren (Jason Wiles).  Darren is abusive, manipulative, and unfaithful.  He’s just the type of Dad that anyone should want to escape from.  However, Darren is also the district attorney.  That means that, if you try to escape from him, he can bring the entire police force down on you.  He can issue an Amber Alert and he can control the media coverage of the escape.  In the world of Lifetime, district attorneys are all-powerful.  You don’t want to mess with them.

However, Darren’s wife, Erin (Sunny Mabrey), decides to flee Darren and she takes her teenage daughter (Grace Van Dien) and her diabetic son (Andy Walken) with her.  (Her son has a habit of going into shock whenever the film needs an additional moment of drama.)  Erin has gone out of her way to keep Darren from tracking them down but her daughter has a boyfriend and, as soon as you see her texting him from the cheap motel where they’re staying for the night, you just know that Darren is going to be able to track them down.

Fortunately, just when things are starting to look hopeless, Erin meets a kind-hearted trucker named Wes (Trevor Donavon) and Wes not only helps them out but he also saves the entire movie.  Or actually, I should say that Donavon saves the movie by giving such a good performance as the tough but good-hearted Wes.  He and Sunny Mabrey have a lot of chemistry and it’s entertaining to watch them play opposite each other.  The film goes out of its way to show that Wes is everything that Darren is not.  “This is a real man!” the film seems to be shouting and Donavon gives a performance that proves that point.

Actually, I liked Escaping Dad even before Trevor Donavon showed up.  Yes, it’s yet another Lifetime film about an abused woman trying to escape her psycho husband.  But it’s well-made and well-acted, as well.  Jason Wiles is totally hissable as Darren and the scenes between Erin and her children felt totally authentic and believable.  The film makes good use of the scenes of Erin driving down one endless highway after another, leaving us with no doubt that she’s not only on a journey of escape but she’s also on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth.

All in all, I liked Escaping Dad.  Keep an eye out for it.