Love on the Shattered Lens: Blue Crush (dir by John Stockwell)


Released in 2002, Blue Crush tells the story of Anne Marie Chadwick (Kate Bosworth).

Anne Marie lives in Hawaii and she’s got a lot going on in her life.  Because her mother recently abandoned her daughters so that she could run off to Las Vegas with her good-for-nothing boyfriend, Anne Marie is practically raising her 14 year-old sister, Penny (Mike Boorem).  Anne Marie is also working as a maid at a beach-side hotel, where she and her two best friends, Eden (Michelle Rodriguez) and Lena (Sanoe Lake), spend their time cleaning up messes and trying on the guests’s clothes.  I have to admit that, if I was a maid, I’d probably try on the clothes too.  However, after watching Blue Crush several times, I can tell you that the last thing I would ever want to do would be to work as a hotel maid.  Seriously, some of the messes that Anne Marie, Eden, and Lena had to deal with were so disgusting that I had to look away from the screen.  Bleh!

Anne Marie and her two friends are also surfers!  In fact, surfing is pretty much what their lives revolve around.  Anne Marie has been invited to compete in an upcoming competition but she’s haunted by an incident that occurred several years before, an extreme wipe-out that nearly caused her to drown.  (Despite all of the beautiful surfing footage, this film does little to alleviate my own extreme drowning phobia.)  Despite Eden’s encouragement, Anne Marie isn’t sure that she has what it takes to get back into the competition circuit.

Unfortunately, there’s a group of NFL players staying at the hotel and they totally trash their room and leave a huge mess for the maids to clean up.  (At one point, Lena finds a used condom stuck to the bottom of her shoe and totally freaks out.  I would have to.  I once moved into an apartment that was already inhabited by several friends of mine and, while I was cleaning, I came across like nearly a hundred used condoms hidden in every nook and cranny of the place.  I mean, I was happy that everyone was having sex but seriously, don’t just leave your condom on the floor after it’s been used.  Pick up after yourself!  Anyway, where was I?)  Fortunately, however, one of the players is a totally hot quarterback named Matt (Matthew Davis).  Matt and his fellow players hire Anne Marie and her friends to teach them how to surf.  Matt and Anne Marie end up falling in love, mostly because they’re the two best-looking people on the beach.  With Matt’s support, will Anne Marie be able to conquer her fears and compete in the competition?  It would be a really depressing movie if she didn’t.

 

So, let’s see.  What do you we have here?

We’ve got lots of pretty shots of pretty people running along the beach in slow motion.

We’ve got a soft-focus love scene between the best-looking people in the movie.

We’ve got a ton of exciting surfing footage.

We’ve got a thoroughly predictable plot that still kind of works because everyone involved is so good-looking.

Yep, this must be a John Stockwell film.

Seriously, John Stockwell is one of my favorite directors because he always delivers exactly what he promises.  He makes films about beautiful people in beautiful places and if that’s not enough for you, too bad.  He’s a genre director and makes no apologies for it.  There’s a refreshing lack of pretension when it comes to John Stockwell’s filmography and it’s hard not to appreciate the universe that he creates in films like Crazy/Beautiful, Into the Deep, In the Blood, and this one.  It’s a universe where everyone knows that they’re in a genre movie and they behave accordingly.  It’s a world where the scenery is beautiful, the people are attractive, and nearly every problem can be solved by a kiss or the proper one-liner.

You could probably make the argument that the storyline of Blue Crush is shallow and a bit obvious.  I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with you.  But who cares?  Kate Bosworth and Matthew Davis have a tone of chemistry, the Hawaiian scenery is gorgeous, and well, I just kind of love this movie.

 

Fast 9 – The Fast Saga revs things up with a trailer.


When it comes to the Fast and Furious franchise, Tokyo Drift is my favorite, followed closely by Fast Five. I thought the franchise should have ended at 7 with the death of Paul Walker, but the show went on with The Fate of the Furious. They managed to close off all of the loops between the earlier movies, After a bit of a spat between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson, Johnson branched off with his character Luke Hobbs and Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw on their own film, Hobbs & Shaw. 

Not to be left behind, we now have the ninth entry in the franchise. F9 reunites director Justin Lin with Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Michelle Rodriguez, and Nathalie Emmanuel. John Cena (Bumblebee) plays the villain this time around, as a thief with personal ties to Dominic Toretto.  With this trailer, we see a few very familiar faces, including Tokyo Drift’s Lucas Black and Sung Kang. How Kang’s character Han is still alive, I don’t know, but we’ll find out this May when the film releases.

Enjoy.

Music Video of the Day: Wake Up Call by Steve Aoki and Sidney Samson (2012, dir by ????)


One of my New Year’s resolutions was to …. *checks notes* …. share more from Steve Aoki on this site so I guess I better get around to honoring that resolution by sharing the oddly disturbing video for Wake Up Call.

“WAKE UP!”

I’ve actually come across some online criticism of Wake Up Call, with the most frequent complaint being that it sounds “messy and confused” but personally, I think that’s kind of the point.  It’s all about the sensation of being jarred awake, of being snapped out of a dream and into the real world.  Everyone wakes up messy.  Everyone wakes up confused.  The messiness is kind of the point here.  Seriously, whenever I wake up, it always takes me a few minutes to realize where I am and then it takes me even longer to get my hair out out of my face.  Sleep is messy, which is why I try to get as little as possible of it.

As for the video …. AGCK!  I mean seriously, what the Hell is going on?  Is Steve Aoki trying to kill Clifton Collins, Jr?  Or is Michelle Rodriguez just dreaming that Aoki is strangling her …. well, I want to say lover but they don’t really appear to be too much in love.  Who is dreaming in this video and who needs to “WAKE UP?”  Personally, I think Michelle Rodriguez may have seen what Clifton Collins, Jr. was dreaming about so she summoned Aoki from her own dreams, specifically so he could be her vessel of vengeance.  To be honest, the whole thing kind of feels like a Jean Rollin vampire film to me.  And yes, yes …. I know that I tend to compare anything that is the least bit surreal to a Jean Rollin vampire film but that doesn’t make the observation any less pertinent.

Of course, it’s also possible that there might not be any definite explanation as to just what exactly is happening.  Perhaps the point.  Like life, the video may mean whatever we want it to mean.

Now, I will admit that I did attempt to search around online and find what other people thought this video was about.  Unfortunately, almost every link that I followed led me to someone talking about the video for Maroon 5’s Wake Up Call.  I’d actually like to see someone remake Begin Again with Steve Aoki in the Adam Levine role.  I think that would be hella interesting.

Anyway, enjoy!

Here’s The Trailer For Steve McQueen’s Widows!


Widows is one of those films that I’ve been looking forward to seeing since I first read about it.  Based on a BBC miniseries and featuring an amazingly talented cast, Widows is also director Steve McQueen’s first film since the Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave.

The film deals with four women whose husbands are all killed during a failed heist.  The widows, under the leadership of Viola Davis, join together to pull off the heist themselves.  That may not sound like a typical Oscar movie but Widows has got tremendous buzz.  Plus, you’ve got a cast that’s full of past Oscar nominees and winners (Viola Davis, Robert Duvall, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Liam Neeson) and actors who seem to be destined to be nominated some day (Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, Andre Holland, Carrie Coon, Garrett Dillahunt).  All in all, there’s a lot of reasons to get excited for this one!

Here’s the trailer:

Here Are The Nominees From The Women Film Critics Circle!


The Women Film Critics Circle has announced their nominations for the best of 2017!  The winners will be named next week!

BEST MOVIE ABOUT WOMEN

BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN

  • “Detroit”
  • “First They Killed My Father”
  • “Lady Bird”
  • “Mudbound”

BEST WOMAN STORYTELLER [Screenwriting Award]

  • Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”
  • Maggie Greenwald, “Sophie And The Rising Sun”
  • Dee Rees, “Mudbound”
  • Angela Workman, “The Zookeeper’s Wife”

BEST ACTRESS

  • Sally Hawkins, “Maudie”
  • Sally Hawkins, “The Shape Of Water”
  • Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
  • Cynthia Nixon, “A Quiet Passion”

BEST ACTOR

  • Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me By Your Name”
  • Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
  • Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
  • Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

BEST YOUNG ACTRESS (Under 21)

  • Seo-Hyun Ahn, “Okja”
  • Mckenna Grace, “Gifted”
  • Brooklynn Prince, “The Florida Project”
  • Millicent Simmonds, “Wonderstruck”

BEST COMEDIC ACTRESS

  • Tiffany Haddish, “Girls Trip”
  • Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
  • Margo Robbie, “I, Tonya”
  • Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”

BEST FOREIGN FILM BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

  • “A Fantastic Woman”
  • “First They Killed My Father”
  • “In The Fade”
  • “Thelma”

*ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: For a film that most passionately opposes violence against women:

  • “Maudie”
  • “The Light Of The Moon”
  • “The Rape Of Recy Taylor”
  • “Wind River”

*JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD: For best expressing the woman of color experience in America

  • “Girls Trip”
  • “Mudbound”
  • “Step”
  • “The Rape Of Recy Taylor”

*KAREN MORLEY AWARD: For best exemplifying a woman’s place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity

  • “Battle Of The Sexes”
  • “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story”
  • Mudbound
  • “The Post”

COURAGE IN ACTING [Taking on unconventional roles that radically redefine the images of women on screen]

  • Sally Hawkins, “Maudie”
  • Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
  • Michelle Rodriguez, “The Assignment”
  • Charlize Theron, “Atomic Blonde”

COURAGE IN FILMMAKING

  • Amma Asante, “A United Kingdom”
  • Kathryn Bigelow, “Detroit”
  • Angelina Jolie, “First The Killed My Father”
  • Dee Rees, “Mudbound

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN AWARD [Supporting performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored]

BEST DOCUMENTARY BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

  • “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story”
  • “Faces Places”
  • “Jane”
  • “Step”

WOMEN’S WORK: BEST ENSEMBLE

BEST FEMALE ACTION HERO

  • “Atomic Blonde”
  • “In The Fade”
  • “The Shape of Water”
  • Wonder Woman

BEST EQUALITY OF THE SEXES

  • “Atomic Blonde”
  • “Battle Of The Sexes”
  • “Professor Marston And The Wonder Women”
  • Wonder Woman

BEST SCREEN COUPLE

BEST ANIMATED FEMALE(S)

  • “Coco”
  • “Loving Vincent”
  • “The Breadwinner”
  • “Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming”

BEST FAMILY FILM

Film Review: Furious 7 (dir by James Wan)


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Regardless of what you may think about the rest of Furious 7, the final ten minutes will make you cry.  They made me cry and, before I saw Furious 7, I wasn’t even really a fan of the franchise.  It’s not a spoiler to tell you that Furious 7 ends with a tribute to both the character Brian O’Connor and the actor who played him, Paul Walker.  While Dominic Toretto (played, of course, by Vin Diesel) says goodbye to Brian, we see a montage of clips of Brian throughout the previous Fast and Furious Films and it’s so poignant to see how Paul Walker transformed over the course of the series, going from being a somewhat bland teen heart throb to becoming a genuinely charismatic leading man.  Watching the montage, you can see that Paul Walker was still growing as an actor and you’re reminded of just what a shock it was when we first heard the news of his death in 2013.

And, of course, we’re very aware that, as Dominic is saying goodbye to Brian and we’re saying goodbye to the actor who played him, Vin Diesel is saying goodbye to his friend.  That Diesel and Walker were friends on-screen and off is no secret.  In fact, that friendship has always been one of the big appeals of the Fast and Furious franchise.  The films are about a group of people (mostly men) who care about each other and who aren’t ashamed to admit it.  When Dominic delivers the film’s final monologue, it’s really all about Vin saying goodbye to Paul.  By the time the words “For Paul” appeared on the screen, there was not a dry eye in the theater.

The death of Paul Walker adds an undeniable poignancy to Furious 7 and it’s sometimes hard to separate the real-life tragedy from what we’re watching on screen.  But here’s the thing — Furious 7 works as both a heartfelt tribute to Paul Walker and as a wonderfully over-the-top and fun action movie.  Furious 7 is a burst of pure adrenaline and style that epitomizes everything that you could possibly want out of an action movie.

Jason Statham plays Deckard Shaw, a former government assassin who has a personal vendetta against Dom, Brian, and practically everyone else who has ever been a Fast and Furious movie.  Statham isn’t in a lot of scenes but whenever he shows up, he kicks ass and watching Furious 7 was probably the first time that I’ve ever truly understood Statham’s appeal.  How impressive is Jason Statham in this film?  He puts Dwayne Johnson in the hospital, that’s how impressive he is.  And what’s amazing is that after watching their fight scene, you totally believe that Jason Statham could put Dwayne Johnson in the hospital.

Another government agent, Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell, having a great time), offers to help Dom take out Deckard but first, Dom and his crew have to do a favor for Mr. Nobody.  They have to rescue a hacker (Nathalie Emmanuel) from an African warlord (Djimon Honsou) who is obviously based on Joseph Kony.  That hacker knows about the location of a device that will allow the government to track down Deckard but the device has already been sold to a billionaire who lives in Abu Dhabi….

Ultimately, the exact specifics and logic of it all doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Chris Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, and Dwayne Johnson are all back and they’re all a lot of fun to watch.  What matters is that the cars look good and the stunt work is just as amazing as you were hoping.  What matters is that the film features things that you never thought you’d see — like cars parachuting down to a mountain road and jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper.

This is an exciting film.  It’s a fun film.  It’s an entertaining film.  It’s a stylish film.  And, ultimately, it’s a film that will make you cry.

What more can you ask for?

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Trailer: Furious 7 (Extended)


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We saw the Super Bowl trailer of Furious 7 (formerly known as Fast & Furious 7). Well, here’s the extended version of it with more Jason Statham mayhem added to the mix. We also get The Rock get beatdown by Statham. Then again we’re all pretty much aware that Statham probably is the only person can put a beatdown on the Rock.

It looks like the summer blockbuster season starting out earlier and earlier with each passing year. Furious 7 is set for an April 3, 2015 release date.

Fast & Furious 7 – The Super Bowl Ad.


Universal is up again during the Super Bowl with this trailer for Fast & Furious 7, which has Vin Diesel’s Dominick Toretto and his family facing off against Jason Statham, who plays the brother of Luke Evans’ character in the last film. As usual, it looks like there will be some crazy car stunts, and there seems to be more in-air acrobatics (which is weird, for cars). We still don’t know how the story will deal with the passing of Paul Walker, but they appear to have their action scenes all set.

Fast & Furious 7 (or Fast 7) opens in cinemas on April 3rd.

 

Trailer: Furious 7 (Teaser)


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To much fanfare we finally have the teaser trailer to the latest adventures of Dominic Toretto and his band of misfit drivers.

Now officially titled as Furious 7, the latest film in the franchise goes further away from it’s street racing roots and into the spy thriller and superhero genres it drifted into with Fast Five. Even the title alone sounds like a superhero team straight out of Marvel Comics. It’s almost as if I expect to see Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Daredevil and Elektra plus three other furious heroes fighting the good fight.

The teaser pretty much teases the sort of over-the-top, physics-defying action scenes we’ve come to expect from this franchise. It’s almost as if with each new film they up the ante as to how much universal laws Dom and his crew will break in order to entertain it’s massive fan audience.

Furious 7 is set to ride and die this April 3, 2015.

Quick Review: Fast & Furious 6 (dir. by Justin Lin)


url-6Thinking back on the original Fast & Furious film, I still find it hard to believe it’s done so well over the years. The longevity of the films owe a lot to the Saw series, which seems fitting considering that the original director of that film will take over the reigns for the next installment. Both series have managed to take events from all of their films and weave this strange tapestry with it. Once you think one story is over, the writers somehow jump back to an earlier scene and pull out a new thread for everyone to follow. Gimmicky? Perhaps, but it works, at least for this tale.

To sum up Furious 6 in a nutshell, Dominic Toretto’s team has to help Hobbs (the lawman who was after them in Furious 5) stop a former SAS agent who is using cars to facilitate his acts of terror. Why get involved, one asks? Hobbs sweetens the deal by showing Dom that his formerly believed dead girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is…wait for it….not dead, and is working with these bad guys.

It’s like General Hospital with Cars. I’m such a sucker for this franchise.

If you’re new to the Furious films, the opening credits sum up the last 5 movies in a Spider-Man 2 like montage. You have your main heroes, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker), who are kind of like criminals only they take down bad guys to better others (or themselves). Along with them is Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), who is the mother of Brian’s baby boy, Jack (not to be confused with Jack Jack from The Incredibles). Then there’s the crew, made up of most of the characters from all of the Furious films leading up to 6:

From 2 Fast 2 Furious, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Tyrese Gibson return as two friends of Brian’s. Tej (Bridges) is the team hacker (wouldn’t be complete without one) and Roman (Tyrese) is the comic relief.

From Tokyo Drift (the 3rd and my personal favorite) comes Sung Kang, who plays Han. While he met his end in that film, every movie after the 3rd takes place somewhere before this film, believe it or not. This makes the ending of Tokyo Drift a little baffling when you see Toretto at the end of it. No matter what the writers decide to do with future installments, they’ll eventually have to circle back to how Dom got there.

From Fast & Furious. (No. 4) – We have Gal Gadot as Gisele, a former IDF member who was an accomplice to a drug cartel leader. Ironically, Gadot actually did some work with the Israeli forces, which I found interesting. She is the only member of that film to come back to the series as Don Omar and Tego Calderon sat this one out.

And finally from Fast Five, you have Hobbs (The Rock) and his former partner from Brazil, Elena (Elsa Pataky).

So, you have the setup. One of the things to understand about this (and some of the earlier ones) is that you’re working in a “Popcorn Reality”. The action’s all well and good, but in the course of all the driving, you’ll almost expect to see at least one or two action scenes or stunts that just don’t make any kind of practical sense. These GTFO moments are in great supply in Furious 6 – A runway chase that lasts a good 15 minutes, yet seems impossibly long for any plane to actually use for a take off. A “flip” car with the ability to send other cars launching into the air. In any other movie, most people would scoff and walk out. For this, it’s almost the norm and if you don’t care, it’s actually fun. Lin has been able to take the chase scenes about as far as they can possibly go, and I can’t really imagine what else they could try to push things, really.

Of particular note is Luke Evans, who plays the villain, Shaw. I didn’t really care for him in Tarsem’s Immortals, but  was good here, trying to be as much a Bond baddie as he can. Another addition is Gina Carano, who takes the place as Hobbs partner this time around. She’s a bit more light hearted here than she was in Haywire, and gets to showcase her fight skills. However, in a movie that’s already packed with stars performing particular roles, she doesn’t really have much to truly do other than to be Michelle Rodriguez’s sparring partner. Not a terrible thing, just something I noticed.

Is it worth it? Well, considering that most of the movies that came out since Fast & Furious 6 was released haven’t fared too well (Yes, I’m looking right at you, After Earth), it’s a safe bet if you also understand that this all revolves around cars driving very smooth and fast with near unlimited shift points. If you don’t like cars or racing, this might not be your cup of tea. There’s a lot of shooting at some points, which might  round things out for action fans. It’s a quick way to burn 2 hours. If you also managed to see at least the last film in the cinema, then this is a given – though you’ll probably be able to put 2 and 2 together before the story’s half done.

Also, do stick around once the credits start, as there’s a scene that will come up to help lay the groundwork for the next installment.