Movies

The Do Over (Adam Sandler Film)

Posted on June 27, 2016 at 6:22 am

Adam Sandler has been to make odd films that are funny yet totally unbelievable, though his goofball personality seems to compliment them well and the movies for the most part are watchable; very entertaining overall for most of his films.

With the Do Over the script is loose and not that well put together and it quickly jumps from one scene to the next and becomes clearer later as to what is going on, so thankfully you can understand what’s going on eventually.

In short the film is about a couple of guy’s down-on-their-luck, who decide to get together after a reunion and make a plan to meet up and party. After the party one of the guys drugs the other guys and blows up the boat they were partying on in a bid to fake his own death. After getting new identities for both of them, the guy who dragged tries to check out his old life only to realise he has already been replaced in his job and that his wife is already ready to move on with her ex husband like nothing happened. So together they take on this new life which soon starts to fall apart, and they get into even deeper trouble as they try to find out what’s going on. Somebody is trying to kill them and one of the guy’s knows more than he is telling and eventually the secret gets out, so they have to then work together to get out of the situation they are in.

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The 5th Wave (film)

Posted on May 20, 2016 at 5:36 am

The story focuses on 16-year-old Cassie Sullivan (played by Chloe Grace Moretz) and her younger brother as they try to survive in a world devastated by the waves of an alien invasion that has already decimated much of the population, and destroyed many of the major cities across the world.

With the first wave came the EMP that wiped out all electronics. The 2nd was an attack which triggered massive tsunamis that wiped out the coastal cities and caused massive earthquakes and floods around the world. The 3rd came a weaponised version of the Avian Flue which wiped out much of the remaining population, and only the strongest survived. After the 4th wave, came the alien snipers shooting any survivors they found wandering around; they look and act human, so now humans can’t even trust each other, and trust no one.

Cassie Sullivan goes to rescue her younger brother after her father is killed and her brother taken away by soldiers.

As the story progresses she realises that the 5th wave is already happening and they aliens have made themselves look human and are pretending to be soldiers helping the survivors, but they are after the kids to turn them into weapons so they can use them to kill other survivors after brainwashing them to think they are the enemy.

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Snowman’s Land

Posted on October 28, 2012 at 2:52 pm

When low-rent hitman Walter (Jürgen Rißmann) accidentally kills the wrong person, his boss tells him he’s gotta take a break. Against his better judgment, Walter takes a tip from a friend about a job up in the mountains some 2,000 miles away, on the promise that it will be “like a paid vacation.” Upon arrival, his car gets stuck in the snow, his obnoxious partner Micky (Thomas Wodianka) gets on his nerves, and Berger (Reiner Schöne), the man with the assignment, isn’t there, only his wife Sibylle (Eva-Katrin Hermann). Walter and Micky are left to twiddle their thumbs waiting for Berger while Sibylle causes trouble, and events quickly spiral out of control.

Writing out the summary of Snowman’s Land makes it sound sort of like In Bruges, and for a twenty or so minutes, the film has a nice understated absurdity to it. After realizing he’s shot the wrong guy, Walter gets the right target in his sights, but holds up the picture next to the guy’s face, just to make sure. His meditating boss tells him about a sort of lightbulb therapy and how to pretend you’re on a distant, warm beach while staring into them for a few hours every day. The chilly mountains make for a nice backdrop for something goofy but violent to happen.

Sadly, when something violent finally does happen, director/writer Tomasz Thomson doesn’t seem to know how to escalate. The film sets up a tricky situation for Walter and Micky, but it struggles to wring an exciting or funny scene from it. The film plods along at a glacial pace as the two men lounge in Berger’s hotel-like mansion, watching fuzzy TV and sneaking into the areas Sibylle tells them are off-limits. True to the role, Micky is indeed fairly obnoxious, and probably not as funny as Thomson or Wodianka think he is, and the viewer will probably relate to Walter in the worst way in under twenty minutes.

Of all the characters, Sibylle is the most interesting, but the role is pretty minor; the character hops in her car and drives away for a good 15 minutes of the movie, and she’s only given so much to do when she comes back. It seems, for a minute, that the film is going to perk up with her presence, but it doesn’t last. Instead, the movie moves onto Berger, who is not a particularly interesting character; he’s sadistic and highly suspicious of his two new hires, but he’s also pretty bland. Another actor might’ve been able to infuse some comic energy into the role, but Schöne only perks up for a few seconds at a time.

As the movie twists and turns through the story, it becomes clear that Thomson doesn’t really know where he’s going. Power shifts from Berger to others, back to Berger. Walter and Micky are okay one minute, and not okay the next. Walter tries to leave, but the film artificially stops him. At the center of all of the chaos is Walter, who doesn’t seem to know why he’s been stuck in this hell, nor how to change and escape from it. Like every other plot development, the film’s finale feels arbitrary, with all the affectation of having conveyed something satisfying and meaningful, but none of the substance.

The DVD
I guess when working on a foreign film with no stars, there’s nothing stopping a designer from taking the arty route with DVD cover design. I don’t know how well it conveys the story of the film, but it’s certainly memorable and neat-looking. The disc comes in an eco-friendly Amaray case, and there is an insert promoting other Music Box releases.

The Video and Audio
When the action isn’t out in the bright, snowy hillsides, Snowman’s Land spends most of its time in dingy, underlit rooms with a heavy blue palette and lots of shadow. Many scenes are shot at night. This could spell disaster for a DVD transfer, but this 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation handles contrast and color just right — I watched very closely, but I didn’t find a single instance of banding, which is pretty remarkable. A hint of compression or resolution-related haloing is visible, as well as maybe a touch of crush, and the image is sometimes on the soft side, but that’s it — a fine transfer.

Sound-wise, Snowman’s Land is a sparse experience. The film’s atmosphere is all about the eerie emptiness of an empty mountain far from civilization, so there aren’t a lot of opportunities for this German Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track to show off. The unique squeaky pop-crunch of someone walking through snow, the distant call of birds and twigs snapping, echoing voices in a spacious, empty house, the distant sound of a thumping boombox, and the occasional gunshot are all rendered nicely, with the occasional hint of directionality. English subtitle translation seems fine. A German Dolby Digital 2.0 track is also included.

The Extras
The one extra is “The Making of Snowman’s Land (19:33), a pretty standard behind-the-scenes featurette. Points for being heavy on interviews rather than clips from the film, and the footage of the trailer the filmmakers shot to sell the film is interesting, but it’s not too heavy on information otherwise. A shame the promo trailer isn’t included all on its own.

Trailers for Henning Mankell’s Wallander, The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch, Viva Riva!, and Mesrine play before the main menu. An original trailer for Snowman’s Land is also included.

Conclusion
Snowman’s Land gets off on the right foot and has an interesting look in a striking setting, not to mention a handful of laughs, but it’s aimless overall. If Thomson had spent a little more time punching up the comedy and refining the story, there might’ve been a minor masterpiece in the story and characters, but as it is, it’s a rental at best.

Please check out my other DVDTalk DVD, Blu-Ray and theatrical reviews and/or follow me on Twitter.

Posted in Movies

Escape in the Fog (Sony Choice Collection)

Posted on October 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Light-footed little spy flick, with just a suggestion of supernatural overtones, from director Budd Boetticher, Jr. producer Wallace MacDonald and Columbia Pictures’ “B” unit. Sony Pictures’ own M.O.D. (manufactured on demand) unit, the Sony Pictures Choice Collection, which caters to movie and TV fans looking for those hard-to-find cult and library titles, has released Escape in the Fog, the 1945 WWII espionage programmer from Columbia, starring Nina Foch, Otto Kruger, William Wright, Konstantin Shayne, Ivan Triesault, and Ernie Adams (and look quick for a cameo by Shelley Winters). Enthusiasts of “B” programmers, rather than Boetticher cultists, will find Escape in the Fog to their liking; it’s clean but anonymous. No extras for this okay-looking full-screen transfer.

Night on the foggy San Francisco Bay Bridge, 1945. Eileen Carr (lovely Nina Foch) is stopped by a beat cop (Dick Jensen) who advises her to go home (“You never can tell what will come out of the fog,” he gravely intones). Sure enough, he’s right; a taxi pulls up, and out spill three men, two of whom are about to spike the third. Eileen screams…and awakes in her room at the Ye Rustic Dell Inn in Northern California, where fellow guest, Barry Malcolm (William Wright), standing anxiously at the foot of her bed. Eileen dreamed the murder, but what’s truly unsettling is that Barry was the victim in the dream―a man she has never before met. Enjoying breakfast together later that morning, the two find out about each other: Barry has been doing “a little psychological warfare” work he can’t talk about, and Eileen, an honorably discharged Navy nurse, is recently out of the hospital after “cracking up a little” when her medico ship was sunk underneath her. A casual invitation from Barry to travel with him to San Francisco is met with an equally agreeable “yes” from Eileen, and they’re off…however, sinister forces are aware of Barry’s true vocation―espionage agent―and head Nazi operator in Frisco, clock repairman Schiller (Konstantin Shayne), is made aware of Barry’s imminent arrival. Once Schiller learns Barry’s mission, courtesy of a bug planted at Barry’s control agent Paul Devon’s (Otto Kruger) home, the race is on to retrieve Barry’s vital papers…and for Eileen to stop her dream from becoming a terrifying reality.

There’s not much you can write about Escape in the Fog…precisely because it’s such a successful, mainstream example of its genre: the quick-flash 40s “B” programmer. No fat. No flourishes. Just clean, anonymous A-B-C storytelling, shot in as fast and as efficient a manner as possible, with little or no time spent of fleshing out characters or filling in plot holes. Escape in the Fog‘s director, Oscar Boetticher, Jr., is of course “Budd” Boetticher, Jr., who would soon make a name for himself in Hollywood directing Randolph Scott Westerns, several of which would later be recognized as important milestones in the genre. However, at this earliest point in his directing career (according to Boetticher himself), these “B” efforts were without personal distinction for the director, serving as little more than training exercises for the novice helmer. Certainly that’s the way the studio “B” units were set up, anyway, regardless of whether or not Boetticher may have wanted to aesthetically express himself. Within the factory-like production methods of the studios, the programmers were even more rigidly controlled in terms of budget and shooting methods; even if the producers had wanted to let the contract directors have some artistic license, there wouldn’t have been time or money for complicated set-ups or experiments.

And the same goes for Escape in the Fog. Written by Aubrey Wisberg (The Horn Blows at Midnight, The Man From Planet X), Escape in the Fog‘s biggest drawback stems from its “B” second-bill DNA: lack of adequate run-time to more fully develop the story and characters. While all of the spy shenanigans in the movie are thoroughly ordinary (with some admittedly nice touches, such as Wright’s amusing danger signal when they’re locked up in the clock shop: he writes “Hail Japan” on a magnifying lupe and reflects it off his lighter onto the shop window), what could have been potentially fascinating about Escape in the Fog―Foch’s mental instability and her supernatural premonitions―is completely ignored. A character admitting to “cracking up” in the military, especially a woman, wasn’t exactly a clichéd stereotype in these WWII-era movies, but Escape in the Fog only has Foch simply state her condition once…before it’s dropped completely. Same thing with her ESP powers. I think Wright says something like, “Remarkable,” when her premonition is proven correct, but that’s the only comment Escape in the Fog makes on this intriguing element of the storyline, a facet of the plot that proves utterly superfluous since nothing is made of it (no one says anything about the potentially scandalous nature of unmarried Foch and Wright going to Frisco together for a week, either…). That’s too bad, too, because without those oddball elements, Escape in the Fog plays like any other number of “B” programmers from those days: speedy, mildly entertaining, but wholly undistinguished.

The DVD:

The Video: I thought the full-screen, 1.33:1 black and white transfer for Escape in the Fog looked a bit grainy, with digital noise particularly during the fog sequences. Overall, though, the image was sharpish, with an adequate gray scale.

The Audio:
The Dolby Digital English mono audio track was adequate, with a bit of fuzz and hiss, but acceptable for viewers used to these older titles. No subtitles or closed-captions available, however.

The Extras:
No extras, not even a menu: it just starts up, and loops.

Final Thoughts:
Boetticher completists may look in vain for signs of their favorite director’s touches in this anonymous little spy thriller. It’s too bad enough time wasn’t available to explore the ESP aspects of the story, as well as developing more thoroughly Foch’s psychologically damaged character. A rental is best for Escape in the Fog.

Paul Mavis is an internationally published movie and television historian, a member of the Online Film Critics Society, and the author of The Espionage Filmography.

Posted in Movies

The Kathy Griffin Collection: Red, White + Raw

Posted on October 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm

The TV Specials

The double-DVD set Kathy Griffin: Red, Hot + Raw presents seven of the outrageous redheaded comedienne’s made-for-cable standup specials in one snarkilicious package. Each special comes with Kathy’s swear words uncensored – and without Bravo’s jarring commercial interruptions. An attractive price ($24.97 MSRP) and bonus footage cut from each special sweeten the deal.

The live standup routines in Red, Hot + Raw, filmed in 2009-11, cover a transitional time in Kathy’s career. The earliest sets were performed at around the same time that production wrapped on the final, sucky season of her reality show Kathy Griffin: My Life On The D-List. At this point, her public persona has been molded to match the glitzy, bitchy tone of the network she stars on – she’s still a hoot and a half, granted, but it’s a long way from the lady who slept in her makeup and schlepped to thankless corporate parties seen in the first few D-List seasons. Though I kinda miss that old Kathy, her gossipy, trash-talking everygirl appeal is still out in full force here.

Even within the two years that these specials cover, one can see a subtle change in Kathy’s humor. The first one, Balls Of Steel, contains the kind of savage barbs against celebrities (including a spot-on accounting of Whitney Houston’s weird appearance on Oprah) that she’s notorious for. There’s still plenty of hilarious celeb-bashing here, although it seems like these days her biggest swipes are saved for easy targets (the Palins, the Kardashians) or reality TV participants. As good as she is at talking smack about pseudo-celebs or hypocritical politicos, she is at her most gut-busting when describing whatever trashy TV fare strikes her fancy. Okay, her pontifications on the Real Housewives are pretty dull (and they come up with such frequency that one has to wonder if Bravo contracted her to mention them every time), but her incredulous takes on Hoarders and I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant alone are worth the price of this set. Before Kathy, I had no idea that stuff like Little Chocolatiers and The OCD Project even existed. Listening to her gab about that stuff is better than watching it in the first place.

The last four specials on this set (50 & Not Pregnant, Gurrl Down, Pants Off and Tired Hooker) came about as part of Bravo’s deal to have her do four specials throughout 2011. Conisdering that it usually takes a comedian months, if not years, to find the right jokes and fine-tune a monologue, Kathy does surprisingly well with this heavy workload. She’s especially fresh and feisty on the Gurrl Down special, taped with a receptive audience in Boston. The only times that she seems to be straining for the funny is when she talks (often) about her tippling ma, Maggie, or relays (boring) stories about her wacky doings with famous pals like Anderson Cooper and Cher. The strain especially starts to show in Tired Hooker (what an apt title), a listless set where she veers toward the vulgar (including, shudder, her own sex life) and behaves like a chatty, wound-up spaz – at least it gives a little insight into how she reacts when the material isn’t working as well.

It needs to be mentioned that some of the topics covered here are dated (hey, remember when Kate Gosselin was hot?), and those who never really liked Kathy’s comedy in the first place will not find anything enlightening here. Everybody else will find a lot to enjoy on Red, Hot + Raw.

Shout! Factory’s Kathy Griffin: Red, Hot + Raw contains the following seven specials, spread over two DVDs:

Disc 2Locale; DateKathy’s Look; Set DecorTopics Covered Boston, MA; May 14, 2011GURRL DOWN t-shirt; blue backdrop with glowing, hot pink columnsBin Laden’s porn stash, Michelle Bachmann, Anderson Cooper, My Strange Addiction, Real Housewives Costa Mesa, CA; August 27, 2011Simple black blouse, huge belt; gigantic three-panel dressing screen with gold filagreeKim Kardashian’s wedding, Casey Anthony/Nancy Grace, Marcus Bachmann, lunch with Gloria Steinem Atlantic City, NJ; November 19, 2011TIRED HOOKER t-shirt, ironed-out hair; Jersey shore photo with floating green orbsKim Kardashian’s split, Hugh Jackman, Nancy Grace on DWTS, Grindr, crappy infomercials, Cher

Video

While there’s a little bit of softness creeping in (Kathy seems to have recently gravitated toward the Vaseline-lensed photography), the picture quality is generally pleasant, and filled with vivid color that never overwhelms. Given the amount of footage on each disc, there aren’t a lot of issues with the mastering. The image comes formatted to 4:3 Full Frame on Balls Of Steel and Does The Bible Belt; 16:9 anamorphic widescreen on the rest.

Audio

All seven specials sport a basic stereo soundtrack that is clearly mixed, serving its straightforward purpose well. No subtitle options are supplied.

Extras

A good deal of Bonus Unaired Footage abounds on both discs, presented in submenus with listed topics and “Play All” feature organized within each special. Totaling over an hour, the excised bits actually come off much funnier and wonderfully mean-spirited than expected. In many cases, the producers deleted the footage from the Bravo broadcasts simply because there wasn’t enough space.

Final Thoughts:

No longer on the D-list and prone to babbling about her alcoholic ma and her wonderful famous friends, Kathy Griffin: Red, Hot + Raw nevertheless packs a lot of trashy fun into its two discs. Shout! Factory has assembled the comedian’s 2009-11 stand-up specials in an attractive and affordable package. If you ever felt like spending several hours with a chatty gal pal who digs crappy reality shows, train-wreck celebs and hypocritical conservatives, this is the way to go. Recommended.

Matt Hinrichs is a designer, artist and sometime writer who lives in sunny (and usually too hot) Phoenix, Arizona. Among his loves are oranges, going barefoot and blonde 1930s movie comedienne Joyce Compton. Since 2000, he has been scribbling away at Pop Culture weblog Scrubbles.net. One can also follow him on Twitter @scrubbles.

Posted in Movies