Archive for August, 2010

30 Aug 2010

Get Low

No Comments Reviews

If crunk master Lil’ Jon taught us anything from his hit song “Get Low,” it’s that “getting low” should be an enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, it seems that director Aaron Schneider (“Two Soldiers”) completely missed that concept when making his first full length feature film, “Get Low.” With solid, yet uninspired acting and uneventful plot that never reaches its slim potential, this low budget indie flick never reaches any heights.

Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Lucas Black star in "Get Low." Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

Starring Academy Award winner Robert Duvall (“Crazy Heart”) as the disgruntled elderly hermit and introvert, Felix Bush, “Get Low” is simple tale of redemption and understanding.

Realizing how little time he has left on Earth, Bush begins to plan his own funeral in which he personally plans to attend… alive. Coordinating this event with Quinn’s Funeral Home director Frank Quinn (Bill Murray, “Fantastic Mr. Fox”) and Quinn’s assistant Buddy (Lucas Black, “Legion”), Bush says he intends to host this event so that the townspeople can come and tell their own stories of what they know about the old geezer’s dark and muddled past. Basically, Mr. Bush wants to host his own roast.

While making the arrangements and working to promote the funeral, Buddy realizes that there might be other motives behind the faux funeral – Bush doesn’t want to hear stories about himself, rather, it is he who actually wants to set the record straight on how he gained such a miserable reputation.

As amusing and inspiring as the premise may sound, the problem is “Get Low” never makes anything of it. Though the first half does a fine job of introducing this crazy old fart and Quinn’s eagerness to take advantage of him, most of the film is bogged down with the notion that Bush is a tortured soul in need of retribution. With all the fun, besides a few clever lines and entertaining mishaps, sucked out of the film, viewers are forced to sit through a series of back stories that prove fairly uneventful and tedious. When the big reveal into why he has been in seclusion finally comes, the reason is hardly as dramatic or shocking as to what the story seemed to be leading up to. In short, the film’s heart, its moral, is about as flimsy as its main character’s feeble legs.

And while it’s always easy to blame a still developing plot for being the reason you stick with a bad film, in “Get Low’s” case, it is actually the veteran cast that is to blame. Each performance in this film holds just enough credibility that they tease the audience in believing acting will make viewing worthwhile.

Recreating Clint Eastwood’s Walt Kowalski in “Gran Torino,” only with a lot more facial hair, Duvall dives into the role, body and soul. Simply cranky and stubborn at first, it is his emotional evolution in the film’s final sequences that is truly moving.  But when it comes down to it, this performance holds nothing in comparison to some of Duvall’s work from ten to even 30 years ago.

The same can be said for the consistently hilarious Murray. Showing more “Lost in Translation” emo than “Ghostbusters” quirky, Murray delivers lines with exquisite comedic timing, making his commentary on life, money and his dying business the highlight of the film. Funny or not, it’s still Bill Murray phoning in a performance.

The rest of the cast, including the usually dreadful Black and a small part from the charming Sissy Spacek (“Four Christmases”), add nothing to the story in their somewhat stereotypical supporting roles. Even the banjo heavy southern score and the visually appealing, yet generic, cinematography of an early 1900’s community can’t propel this film from bland mediocrity.

Proving how integral emotional payout is in quality filmmaking and storytelling, “Get Low” stands not as one of the worst films of the year, simply the most useless.

‘Get Low’
Release Date: Jul. 30 (limited), Aug. 27 (wide)
Director: Aaron Schneider
Starring: Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Lucas Black and Sissy Spacek
Rating: PG-13 for some thematic material and brief violent content.
Grade: D+

24 Aug 2010

Insight's Summer Movie Awards

No Comments Opinion, Published Work

There and gone. Many can relate that to M. Night Shyamalan’s career, but really it’s a better description of our now extinct summer break. While many might have spent their fleeting summer days floating the Truckee, plumping up at barbeques, or re-discovering a hatred for endless road work, I made the Reno cinema scene my bitch. Or maybe it was vice-versa…

No matter the case, Hollywood stuck to tradition by releasing an abundance of throwaway action flicks, with a few quality pictures sprinkled in between. So to follow suit, I will also mimic a Hollywood tradition by handing out awards to the best and worst movies of the past three months.

"Make up your mind you stupid top!" Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures.

Best Movie – “Inception”

Not since director Christopher Nolan’s last film two years ago (“The Dark Knight” anybody?) has a film not only been able to live up to expectations, but literally sodomize those expectations into submission. Deftly blending an intricate and always captivating story with masterfully choreographed action sequences, “Inception” is the king of summer blockbusters. Mix in some fine performances from Leo and company, with yet another epic score from master “bass” composer Hans Zimmer, and you’ve got yourself the best movie that the Oscars probably won’t recognize this year.

Worst Movie – “The Last Airbender”

The Last Airbreaker. Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

I almost feel guilty of a serious offense for mentioning Mr. Shyamalan twice in the same article. If you thought “The Happening” was bad, take comfort in knowing it is laughably bad. “The Last Airbender,” not so much. With dialogue seemingly written by 5th grader (not of the “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” breed) and acting as stiff as Conan O Brien’s hair, even Mr. Hankey would say this movie stinks.

Best Sequel/Remake/Adaptation – “Toy Story 3”

In their third outing, Woody, Buzz and the rest of the plastic gang bring us along for their most emotional and exciting adventure yet. Maintaining its dominance as the studio with the biggest heart, Pixar delivers its most mature film to date in the finale to its most cherished franchise. Hearts will race during the daycare escape sequences, guts will burst with laughter when Buzz turns Flamingo dancer and tears will flow during Andy’s college goodbyes.

Most Ambitious Movie (that kinda sucked) – “Salt”

Angelina Jolie is the definitive female action star. We get it. The only problem is, she is also the definitive action star in a series of action blockbusters with ridiculous plots. Between “Wanted’s” ‘Loom of Fate’ and now “Salt’s” in, out, on the side, and in between country alliances, the stories have become too obscure to just be able to sit back and enjoy the ensuing chaos on screen. Not to mention that my horny college male alter ego was severely disappointed with the lack of nudity.

Least Ambitious Movie (that was actually good) – “MacGruber”

“Saturday Night Live” films are about as useful to the world as Billy Mays infomercials – they hold no relevance in your daily life, but damn are they fun to watch. In its opening song, “MacGruber” amusingly references its absurdness by singing, “Yes! He made a f*^&ing movie!” Not since “Dumb and Dumber” has a movie channeled so much stupid and shoved it in your face. Speaking of shoving, kudos for “MacGruber” star Will Forte for sticking a piece of celery up his ass to divert the bad guy’s attention. Way to serve your country soldier!

"This celery doesn't belong in my mouth..." Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Most Disturbing Movie – “Splice”

Science in general creeps me out. All of these flesh eating microorganisms and irritated bowel syndromes worry me enough, let alone the idea of gene splicing. So, at its heart, “Splice” is an intriguing and scientifically grounded movie that produces thought on basic human nature and the instability of life. On the surface though, “Splice” is a film about a couple of douche bag scientists who “screw” with genetics, creating a disfigured creature that is into incest and bestiality.  The ‘Heeby Jeebies’ don’t even begin to describe my post-movie emotions.

Other Awards/Recognitions

"GREAT SCOTT! These piranha are time traveling!" Photo courtesy of Weinstein Company.

- Funniest Movie – “The Other Guys”
- Funniest Sequence in a Movie – Furry walls and Jeffries in “Get Him to the Greek”
- Best Action Flick – “Knight and Day”
- Best Action Sequence in a Movie – Rotating hallway brawl in “Inception”
- Biggest Disappointment – “Dinner for Schmucks”
- Best Indie Flick – “Cyrus”
- Best Cameo – Christopher Lloyd as the eccentric fish ‘doc’ in “Piranha 3-D”
- Best Movie that Makes a Shout-Out to my Hometown of Winnemucca – “Love Ranch”