Red Band Trailer: Sex Tape


Hey there, loyal Shattered Lens readers.

So, as you may have noticed, I am running really far behind as far as getting all of my film reviews done.  Along with reviewing the two films that tied for first place in my latest What Should Lisa Watch Poll, I also need to review the last few films that I saw in theaters and on Lifetime.

I apologize for all of the delays but fear not — I will get caught up!

Until then, here’s a red band trailer to consider.  Just judging from this trailer, Sex Tape appears to be a one joke film.  However, I like Jason Segal and I enjoyed Bad Teacher so I will keep an open mind as far as Sex Tape is concerned.

 

6 More Films That You May Have Missed: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Goon, Headhunters, Jeff Who Lives At Home, The Philly Kid, and Safety Not Guaranteed


Hi there!  Continuing my effort to get caught up, here are six more films that I saw earlier this year but, for whatever reason, had not reviewed yet.

1) Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (dir by Alison Klayman)

One of my favorite films of 2012 was this revealing documentary about the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei.  Filmed over the course of two years, this film follows Ai as he uses the tools of social media to try to stand up to the oppressive Chinese government.  In the film’s strongest scenes, Ai reveals how the government attempted to cover up the massive destruction of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake.  For his efforts to give identities to the victims of this natural disaster, Ai is beaten by the police and eventually imprisoned.

Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry is a film that should be seen by anyone who thinks that any greater good can be accomplished by sacrificing personal freedom.

2) Goon (dir by Michael Dowse)

Based on a true story, Goon tells the story of Doug Glatt (played, in a winning performance, by Seann William Scott), a Boston bouncer who joins a minor league hockey team.  Eventually, he gets called up to play in Canada and faces his idol (and new rival) Ross Rhea (played by Liev Schreiber) on the ice.  Along the way, he also romances a hockey groupie (Alison Pill) and befriends a burned out teammate (Marc-Andre Gondrin).

I have to thank Arleigh for suggesting that I see Goon because, otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have given this film a chance.  I don’t know much about sports in general and I know even less about hockey.  (Leonard is our resident hockey expert here at the Shattered Lens.)  However, Goon turned out to be a truly pleasant surprise, a sports film that even someone like me can enjoy.

While the film’s plot may be predictable, director Dowse and his cast tell the story well and they all manage to strike the perfect balance between humor, melodrama, and sentimentality.  Seann William Scott is usually not thought of as being a versatile actor but, on the basis of his performance here, he deserves to be reevaluated.  Williams makes Doug Glatt into a truly likable thug and he and Alison Pill make for a very cute and likable couple.  When you start watching Goon, you know where the journey is going to lead you but that doesn’t make the trip any less enjoyable.

3) Headhunters (dir by Morten Tyldum)

In 2012, one of the best thrillers to be released in America was this import from Norway.  Roger Brown (played by Askel Hennie) is Norway’s most successful corporate headhunter.  Along with having a beautiful wife, Roger also has a mistress and all the other material trappings of wealth.  Despite this, Roger is insecure over only being 5’6 and he deals with his insecurity by pursuing a second, secret career as an art thief.  When Roger discovers that Clas, his latest client, is having an affair with his wife, Roger breaks into Clas’s apartment and steals a valuable painting.  However, it turns out that Clas is not only a trained mercenary but he’s also a psychotic killer and soon, he’s pursuing Roger.

Headhunters is a truly exciting film, one that actually keeps the audience guessing with each twist and turn.  Best of all, the film features a truly memorable lead performance from Askel Hennie.  Playing the type of character who, in the past, would have been played by Klaus Kinski, Henie makes his sleazy character into an odd likable and compelling hero.

4) Jeff, Who Lives At Home (dir by Jay and Mark Duplass)

Jeff (Jason Segal) is a 30 year-old unemployed stoner who lives in his mother’s basement and who spends his day obsessing on the movie Signs and talking about his belief in Destiny.  One day, he gets a phone call from some one asking for “Kevin.”  Jeff reacts by finally leaving his mom’s basement and searching for this mysterious Kevin.  Meanwhile, Jeff’s brother (Ed Helms) is convinced that his wife (Judy Greer) is cheating on him and Jeff’s lonely mom (Susan Sarandon) spends her workday at work getting messages from a secret admirer.

Not much happens in Jeff, Who Lives At Home and the film dares you to get as annoyed with Jeff as everyone else in his family.  However, when taken on its own mellow terms, this is an enjoyable and occasionally even moving film.  It helps if you really like Jason Segal and seriously, who doesn’t?  Susan Sarandon gives a touching performance as well and the filmmakers make excellent use of Helms’ needy persona.

5) The Philly Kid (dir by Jason Connery)

Dillon (Wes Chatham) is a college wrestler who is wrongly convicted for the murder of a police officer.  After spending ten years in prison, Dillon is paroled and returns to his home in Baton Rouge.  Managed by his friend Jake (a manic Devon Sawa), Dillon becomes a cage fighter and ultimately finds himself fighting for his life against corrupt promoters and a crooked cop.

The Philly Kid is a pretty uneven film.  The plot will never surprise you and, halfway through the film, The Philly Kid descends into over-the-top melodrama.  However, both Chatham and Sawa give good performances and, as directed by Jason Connery, the film’s many fight scenes are vivid and exciting to watch.  The film was filmed in Baton Rouge and it makes good use of the Louisiana atmosphere.

The Philly Kid may ultimately just be a genre film but it’s a well-done genre film.

6) Safety Not Guaranteed (dir. by Colin Trevorrow)

Kenneth (Mark Duplass) is the type of person that we’ve all met at some point in our life.  He works as a clerk in a grocery store and spends his time talking about his dead girlfriend and how secret agents are watching his every move.  He also claims to have built a time machine and posts a classified ad where he asks for someone to volunteer to go back in time with him.  The ad is spotted by Jeff (Jake M. Johnson), a smarmy magazine writer in Seattle who travels to Kenneth’s hometown in order to investigate (and, it’s later revealed, track down an ex-girlfriend).  Accompanying the reporter is Darius (played by Aubrey Plaza), a disillusioned intern who has her own reasons for wishing that she could go back into past.  Following Jeff’s orders, Darius approaches and befriends Kenneth by claiming to be interested in his ad.  While the well-meaning but paranoid Kenneth trains her for their trip into past, Darius finds herself falling in love with him…

Safety Not Guaranteed is one of those low-key, sweet natured films that I simply can’t help but love.  The film views it’s damaged characters with a wry compassion and it wraps up its story with one of the best endings of 2012.  Aubrey Plaza is best known for being sarcastic on Parks and Recreation but, with this film, she shows that she’s capable of doing a lot more.

It’s Time For The Annual Self-Important Post About The Year In Film So Far


For the entire past week, something has been nagging at me.  I knew that there was something that I needed to do but I couldn’t remember what it was.  Earlier today, however, I was reading the latest critical blathering about the state of cinema over at AwardsDaily.  As usual, that site’s editors were whining about the fact that the Social Network didn’t win best picture and also the fact that my generation is apparently the “WORST.  GENERATION.  EVER” and blah blah blah. 

Fortunately, however, reading that  post reminded me of what I had forgotten: We are now at the halfway mark as far as 2012 is concerned.  This is the time of year that self-important film critics (both online and elsewhere) tell their readers what type of year it’s been so far. 

So, without further ado — what type of year has 2012 been so far?

(By the way, you can also check out my thoughts from July of 2011 and July 2010 as well.)

(Also, please understand that the act of me posting this in no way guarantees that I won’t change my mind several times within the next hour.)

Best Film Of The Year (So Far): Cabin In The Woods. Compared to both 2010 and 2011, this has been a pretty slow year so far.  There really hasn’t been a Hanna or an Exit Through The Gift Shop type of film so far.  Instead, there’s been a handful of nice surprises, quite a few pleasant but somewhat forgettable films, and then quite a few films that i wish were forgettable.  Cabin In The Woods, however, was a nice little valentine to horror fans like me and it’s a film that actually gets even better with repeat viewings.  Runners up include Bernie, Damsels in Distress, Brave, The Hunger Games, Safety Not Guaranteed, Moonrise Kingdom, For Greater Glory, Jeff, Who Lives At Home, and the Avengers.

Best Male Performance Of The Year (So Far): Jack Black in Bernie.  Runners up include Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man and Jason Segal in Jeff, Who Lives At Home.

Best Female Performance of the Year (So Far): Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games.  Seriously, just try to imagine that film with someone else in the lead role.  Runners up include Susan Sarandon in Jeff, Who Lives At Home, Aubrey Plaza in Safety Not Guaranteed, and Greta Gerwig in Damsels in Distress.

Best Voice-Over Performance Of The Year (So Far): Kelly MacDonald in Brave.

Best Ending Of The Year (So Far): A 3-way tie between The Cabin In The Woods, Safety Not Guaranteed, and Jeff, Who Lives At Home.

Best Horror Film Of The Year (So Far): The Cabin In The Woods

Most Underrated Film Of The Year (So Far): The Five-Year Engagement, a sweet and funny movie that was just a tad bit too long.

Best Bad Film of the Year: Battleship.  Yes, the movie represented some of the worst impulses of big-budget filmmaking but I had a lot of fun watching it and Alexander Skarsgard was to die for in that white Navy uniform.

Worst Film Of The Year (So Far): The Wicker Tree.  I could make an argument for both Rock of Ages and The Devil Inside here but no…just no.  As the Trash Film Guru put it, “BURN THE WICKER TREE!”

Biggest Example Of A Missed Opportunity For This Year (So Far): Seeking a Friend For The End of the World.  A great performance from Steve Carrel can’t save a film that has no idea what it wants to be.

The Get Over It Already Award For The First Half of 2012: The Devil Inside, for being the most tedious example of a “found footage” horror film yet.  Coming in second: Rock of Ages, for reminding me that my parents had terrible taste in music.

The Trailer That Has Most Outgrown Its Welcome: The Perks of Being a Wall Flower.  “Be aggressive…passive aggressive…” Okay, shut up, already.

The Cameron/Fincher Bandwagon Trophy (Awarded To The Upcoming Film That, Regardless Of Quality, Will Probably Be So Violently Embraced By People Online That You’ll Be Putting Your Life In Danger If You Dare Offer Up The Slightest Amount Of Criticism): The Dark Knight Rises

The Ebert Award (Awarded to the upcoming film that will probably get  positive reviews based on the film’s political context as opposed to the film itself): Zero Dark Thirty

The Sasha Award (Awarded To The Film That I Am Predicting Will Be The Most Overrated Of The Year): Lincoln.

The Roland Emmerich/Rod Lurie Award For The Film That I’m Predicting Will Be The Worst Of 2012: Honestly, it’s really hard to imagine a worse film than The Wicker Tree (though, to be honest, Rock of Ages comes pretty close). 

Films I’m Looking Forward To Seeing In The Future (An incomplete list): On The Road, Lawless, The Dark Knight Rises, Cosmopolis, Django Unchained, The Hobbit, The Great Gatsby, and especially The Master and Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina.

And there you have it.  2012 hasn’t been a great year so far but there’s still a lot of time left.

Unless, of course, the Mayans were correct.

An Underrated Quickie With Lisa Marie: The Five-Year Engagement (dir. by Nicholas Stoller)


When Jeff and I recently went to see The Five-Year Engagement, we literally had the entire theater to ourselves.  Seriously, that evening, we were apparently the only two people who took a look at the showtimes for the AMC Valley View and say, “Let’s see the Five-Year Engagement.” 

Now, I’m not complaining because, quite frankly, we enjoyed having that theater to ourselves. However, later that night, I found myself thinking about the empty theater and the fact that very few of the film lovers in my circle of friends had expressed much interest in The Five-Year Engagement.  The critics, in general, have been kind to the film but audiences seem to view it as a Netflix film at best. 

That’s a shame because, oh my God, The Five-Year Engagement is such a sweet film!  Seriously, I loved this movie!

Produced by Judd Apatow and directed by Nicholas Stoller, The Five-Year Engagement is a romantic comedy about a chef (played, quite well, by Jason Segal) and a psychologist (played by Emily Blunt, who is apparently destined to star in 65% of the romantic comedies released this year) who get engaged and end up remaining engaged for the next five years as the marriage ceremony is continually delayed by everything from Segal’s best friend marrying Blunt’s sister to the couple moving to Ann Arbor when Blunt gets a job working at the University of Michigan.  Along the way, various relatives die while still waiting for the blessed event and Segal and Blunt’s relationship struggles to survive against the distractions of everyday life.

The Five-Year Engagement isn’t a perfect film.  As often seems to happen with films produced by Judd Apatow, the film is about 20 minutes too long and sometimes the mix of sentimentality and crudeness is a bit awkward.  I could have done without an extended sequence in which Jason Segal (after having settled into life in Michigan) is revealed to have briefly turned into a crossbow-weilding survivalist. 

However, in the end, those flaws don’t matter because the Five-Year Engagement is, at heart, a sincerely sweet movie.  Jason Segal and Emily Blunt have a very real and very likable chemistry.  They make for a cute couple and you really find yourself hoping that they stay together.  Playing, respectively, Segal’s best friend and Blunt’s sister, Chris Pratt and Alison Brie both provide strong comedic support.  One of my favorite moments features Brie attempting to give a toast at Segal and Blunt’s engagement party and quickly dissolving into teary gibberish.  (Admitedly, one reason I loved this scene is because I did the same thing when I attempted to give a toast at my sister Megan’s wedding.)  Brie and Blunt also have another hilarious scene where they find themselves discussing realtionship matters while pretending to be Elmo and Cookie Monster.  It’s an odd but ultimately truthful moment.

Ignore the naysayers.  The Five-Year Engagement is sweet movie that deserves to be seen.

Lisa Marie’s 10 Favorite Songs of 2011


Continuing my series on the best of 2011, here are ten of my favorite songs from 2011.  Now, I’m not necessarily saying that these were the best songs of 2011.  Some of them aren’t.  But these are ten songs that, in the future, will define 2011 for me personally.  Again, these are my picks and my picks only.  So, if you think my taste in music sucks (and, admittedly, quite a few people do), direct your scorn at me and not at anyone else who writes for the Shattered Lens.

By the way, I was recently asked what my criteria for a good song was.  Honestly, the main thing I look for in a song is 1) can I dance to it and 2) can I get all into singing it while I’m stuck in traffic or in the shower? 

Anyway, at the risk of revealing just how much of a dork I truly am, here are ten of my favorite songs of 2011.

1) What The Water Gave Me (performed by Florence + The Machine)

Musically, 2011 was a good year for me because it’s the year that I first discovered Florence + The Machine.

2) Only In My Double Mind (performed by Centro-Matic)

This is a great song from one of the best bands to come out of North Texas.

3) Man or Muppet (performed by Jason Segal and Walter)

Featuring lyrics from the brilliant Bret McKenzie.  This song makes me cry every time.

4) Immigrant Song (performed by Karen O, Trent Reznor, and Atticus Ross)

Say what you will about David Fincher’s rehash of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, it had a good soundtrack.  This cover of Immigrant Song made the film’s first trailer bearable.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t really featured in subsequent trailers, being replaced by Daniel Craig going, “I want YOU to HELP ME catch a KILLER of WOMEN.”

5) Friday (performed by Rebecca Black)

Yeah, yeah, I know.  It’s a terrible song and you know what?  That’s why I can’t help but love it.  Listen, there are thousands of terrible song released every year but there are none quite as a terrible as Friday.  The genius of Friday is that it took everything that we associate with terrible music — nonsensical lyrics, insane autotune, a socially irresponsible message, creepy rappers who show up out of nowhere and for no good reason — and then just smashed it all together into the YouTube video that refused to die.  Add to that, a few months ago, me and my BFF Evelyn got like totally drunk and then wandered around the streets of Dallas singing this song at the top of our lungs and I swear, every guy who passed by yelled words of encouragement at us. 

(And, by the way, if you’re going to hate someone, hate on Fred Phelps.  Leave Rebecca Black alone.  Life’s too short.)

6) Hold it Against Me (performed by Britney Spears)

Yeah, yeah, I know.  Everyone loves to hate on Britney blah blah blah.  This song is fun to sing in the shower and you can dance to it.  And, quite frankly, that’s all I need.

7) Beard (performed by Burning Hotels)

This is from another North Texas band.

8) Fucking Perfect (performed by Pink)

An anthem.  (Yes, I know this song came out in 2010 but it was important to me in 2011 so I’m listing it here now.  So there.)

9) Love Is The Drug (performed by Oscar Isaac and Carla Gugino)

From the Sucker Punch soundtrack comes this sneakily subversive cover.

10) No Light, No Light (performed by Florence + The Machine)

Finally, what better way to end this list than with some more of Florence + The Machine.

Finally, I want to close this list with a song that came out long before 2011 but it’s an important song to me and it was sung by someone who we lost far too early this year.

Coming tomorrow: ten of the best things I saw on television in 2011.

Here Are The 2012 Critics’ Choice Movie Award Nominees


Earlier today, the Broadcast Film Critics Association announced their nominations for the 17th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards.  The BFCA is the largest of the so-called “major” critics’ groups (and, interestingly enough, it’s also the newest and the least prestigious) and it has a fairly good track record of predicting the actual Oscar nominations.  The awards themselves will be handed out on January 12th, 2012 in a self-important, kinda seedy ceremony that will be broadcast on VH-1.   

BEST PICTURE
The Artist
The Descendants
Drive
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
Moneyball
The Tree of Life
War Horse

BEST ACTOR
George Clooney – The Descendants
Leonardo DiCaprio – J. Edgar
Jean Dujardin – The Artist
Michael Fassbender – Shame
Ryan Gosling – Drive
Brad Pitt – Moneyball

BEST ACTRESS
Viola Davis – The Help
Elizabeth Olsen – Martha Marcy May Marlene
Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton – We Need to Talk About Kevin
Charlize Theron – Young Adult
Michelle Williams – My Week With Marilyn

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kenneth Branagh – My Week With Marilyn
Albert Brooks – Drive
Nick Nolte – Warrior
Patton Oswalt – Young Adult
Christopher Plummer – Beginners
Sir Andrew Serkis – Rise of the Planet of the Apes

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Berenice Bejo – The Artist
Jessica Chastain – The Help
Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids
Carey Mulligan – Shame
Octavia Spencer – The Help
Shailene Woodley – The Descendants

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Asa Butterfield – Hugo
Elle Fanning – Super 8
Thomas Horn – Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Ezra Miller – We Need to Talk About Kevin
Saoirse Ronan – Hanna
Shailene Woodley – The Descendants

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
The Artist
Bridesmaids
The Descendants
The Help
The Ides of March

BEST DIRECTOR
Stephen Daldry – Extreme Loud & Incredibly Close
Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
Alexander Payne – The Descendants
Nicolas Winding Refn – Drive
Martin Scorsese – Hugo
Steven Spielberg – War Horse

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius
50/50 – Will Reiser
Midnight in Paris – Woody Allen
Win Win – Screenplay by Tom McCarthy, Story by Tom McCarthy & Joe Tiboni
Young Adult – Diablo Cody

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Descendants – Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – Eric Roth
The Help – Tate Taylor
Hugo – John Logan
Moneyball – Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, Story by Stan Chervin

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
The Artist – Guillaume Schiffman
Drive – Newton Thomas Sigel
Hugo – Robert Richardson
Tree of Life – Emmanuel Lubezki
War Horse – Janusz Kaminski

BEST ART DIRECTION
The Artist – Production Designer: Laurence Bennett, Art Director: Gregory S. Hooper
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – Production Designer: Stuart Craig, Set Decorator: Stephenie McMillan
Hugo – Production Designer: Dante Ferretti, Set Decorator: Francesca Lo Schiavo
The Tree of Life – Production Designer: Jack Fisk, Art Director: David Crank
War Horse – Production Designer: Rick Carter, Set Decorator: Lee Sandales

BEST EDITING
The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius and Anne-Sophie Bion
Drive – Matthew Newman
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
Hugo – Thelma Schoonmaker
War Horse – Michael Kahn

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
The Artist – Mark Bridges
The Help – Sharen Davis
Hugo – Sandy Powell
Jane Eyre – Michael O’Connor
My Week With Marilyn – Jill Taylor

BEST MAKEUP
Albert Nobbs
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
The Iron Lady
J. Edgar
My Week With Marilyn

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Hugo
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Super 8
The Tree of Life

BEST SOUND
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Hugo
Super 8
The Tree of Life
War Horse

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
The Adventures of Tintin
Arthur Christmas
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots
Rango

BEST ACTION MOVIE
Drive
Fast Five
Hanna
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Super 8

BEST COMEDY
Bridesmaids
Crazy, Stupid, Love
Horrible Bosses
Midnight in Paris
The Muppets

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
In Darkness
Le Havre
A Separation
The Skin I Live In
Where Do We Go Now

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Buck
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Page One: Inside the New York Times
Project Nim
Undefeated

BEST SONG
“Hello Hello” – performed by Elton John and Lady Gaga/written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin – Gnomeo & Juliet
“Life’s a Happy Song” – performed by Jason Segel, Amy Adams and Walter/written by Bret McKenzie – The Muppets
“The Living Proof” – performed by Mary J. Blige/written by Mary J. Blige, Thomas Newman and Harvey Mason, Jr. – The Help
“Man or Muppet” – performed by Jason Segel and Walter/written by Bret McKenzie – The Muppets
“Pictures in My Head” – performed by Kermit and the Muppets/written by Jeannie Lurie, Aris Archontis and Chen Neeman – The Muppets

BEST SCORE
The Artist – Ludovic Bource
Drive – Cliff Martinez
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Hugo – Howard Shore
War Horse – John Williams

The BFCA has obviously made a lot of nominations and some of them are interesting but I have to be honest: the BFCA as an organization annoys me with how they’re always bragging about how big they are and how they’re so good at celebrating the conventional establishment wisdom.  So, I’ll just say that its nice to see Hanna getting at least some sort of recognition (even if that recognition is kinda minor.)

Scenes I Love: Jason Segal loves disco in Freaks and Geeks


So, I’ve recently discovered an old show called Freaks and Geeks which, despite only actually airing for one season over ten years ago, appears to be popping up everywhere in syndicated reruns.  Freaks and Geeks was about high school students in the early 80s and basically starred a bunch of people who later went on to become famous — Seth Rogen, James Segal, and James Franco (!!!!) all got their start on this show. 

Anyway, today’s scene that I love comes from an episode of Freaks and Geeks and features not only a very fit Jason Segal disco dancing but a nicely disheveled James Franco playing a rpg as well.  Seriously, this whole sequence is just too adorable for words.