Archive for September, 2010

27 Sep 2010

BLOG: Hollywood Briss – Introduction and Reviews Galore

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Welcome to the Hollywood Briss; a savvy little blog chock full of all the film reviews and Hollywood news one movie geek can bear to write about in one week. From theatrical to DVD/Blu-ray critiques, to new trailers and recent casting decisions, this blog has everything except objectivity (well, maybe a little… I am still a journalist).

For the opening post, I will talk about Oliver Stone’s first attempt at a sequel, “Wall Street: Money never Sleeps,” and give a few brief recaps of other films now in theaters. Also included will be a look at movies debuting on DVD/Blu-ray this Tuesday and my favorite new trailer.

On the Big Screen:

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (PG-13)

Shia LaBeouf is about to get even (stevens) in "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps." Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.

Summary: After serving an eight year prison sentence for insider trading and other mischievous acts, Wall Street trading legend Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas, “Solitary Man”) is making his way back into the spotlight. Jake Moore (Shia Labouef, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”), an aggressive trader making his way up the corporate ladder and Gekko’s future son-in-law, turns to Gekko for advice when his original stock exchange mentor dies. Working against a market collapse and new forms of greed, the two combine forces to bring down Bretton James (Josh Brolin, “Jonah Hex”), the man who, directly or not, played a part in destroying their careers.

Review: It’s been 13 years since the original “Wall Street” and while the market sure has changed, director Oliver Stone’s idea of greed has stayed the same – It’s good until it does you bad. In the very disjointed “Money Never Sleeps,” Stone’s modernized look at Wall Street tackles too many ideas without expanding on them enough to pack the punch it’s 1987 predecessor did. Transitioning from 40 minutes of advanced Wall Street lingo, to a clichéd father/daughter reunion, to a multiple twisting revenge/back stabbing subplots, the coherence is sincerely lacking, even if the acting maintains character authenticity. With flashy editing and soundtrack channeling the cockiness of its lead cast, the movie tries to be cool, but is really just blah.
Judgment:
An Average Cut (C)

Also in theaters:

The Town (R)
Think “Gone Baby Gone,” but replace the premise of stealing children with the act of bank robbery. Ben Affleck’s (“Extract”) second stab at directing brings the same dreary character based drama found in his directorial debut. The robberies are well choreographed, the plot is engrossing, and the accents are thick, but nothing about “The Town” screams masterpiece like such similar titles as “Heat” or “Point Break.” While Affleck has undoubtedly made a remarkable comeback and should be respected as a creative artist, it will be awhile until we should admire his work.
Judgment:
Makes the cut (B)

Ali Larter and Mila Jovovich star in "Resident Evil: Afterlife." Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures/Screen Gems.

Resident Evil: Afterlife (R)
Returning to the director’s chair for the first time since the original “Resident Evil,” sc-fi/action director Paul W.S. Anderson (“Death Race”) takes this undying series to new visual heights, but new lows in about everything else. “Afterlife” is the quintessential example of how filmmakers can concentrate so hard on the visual aesthetics that every other aspect of the film is put on the back burner. With a hard synthetic feel and sound, the fourth “Resident Evil” adaptation is a fully captivating experience when the 3-D action is pumping and the dialogue is non-existent. With the plot being a clone of “Extinction” and the characters even more one-dimensional than ever, the highlight and downfall of this movie is in fact its 3-D.
Judgment:
Should Have Been Cut (D+)

On DVD/Blu-ray This Tuesday:

Iron Man 2 (PG-13)
Tony Stark’s return marks even more comic fantasy action goodness and sarcastic humor. New characters are everywhere and old characters’ limits are tested. While the plot is slightly outlandish, the entertainment value is just as high. This is 2010’s definitive throwaway summer blockbuster.
Judgment: A Cut Slightly Above the Rest (B+)

Skiers and snowboarders beware... "Frozen" is available to rent on DVD and Blu-Ray this Tuesday, 9/28. Photo courtesy of Anchor Bay Films.

Get Him to the Greek (R)
The spinoff to “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” ups the vulgarity and perverseness, but loses its footing in a train wreck of rock n’ roll emotions. Russel Brand and Jonah Hill’s journey to Hell, Vegas, L.A. and back is a roller coaster ride that won’t leave you wanting more (or losing your lunch), merely happy you had the experience.
Judgment: Barely Makes the Cut (B-)

Frozen (R)
An indie horror flick that received little recognition in theaters hits home video with some bite; frostbite that is. “Frozen” is the story of three stereotyped teenage skiers/snowboarders who get stuck on a ski-lift after the resort closes for the week. During the film’s prolonged 90 minute duration (45 minutes would have sufficed), viewers get to witness the three evolve as they are forced to figure out a way off the lift alive. Broken legs, torn off flesh and ravenous wolves highlight the surprisingly gore and tension filled flick. Even if some aspects come off as silly (worst supporting actors of the year = those persistent wolves), the ominous tone and disturbing subject matter will undoubtedly put most in a state of unease.
Judgment: Makes the Cut (B)

Trailer I’m ‘Digging’ this Week:

Due Date (Nov. 5, 2010):

That wraps up this review heavy edition of Hollywood Briss. In the upcoming weeks, expect less critique and more commentary on other Hollywood happenings. And to start a new tradition, each blog will end with a different quote that has stuck with over the years. This week, the featured quote is from the 2005 smash hit comedy “Wedding Crashers:”

“You shut your mouth when you’re talking to me!”
Mrs. Kroeger

06 Sep 2010

Machete

No Comments Reviews

A nude Latina chica with the perkiest breasts this side of the border and curves as smooth as a coke bottle, straddles a tall, dark stranger. Groping the side of his muscular thigh, she asks in an inquisitive, yet sultry manner, “What is this long hard rod you’ve got here?” In low raspy voice the stranger replies, “That is my machete.” This girl has gone and f*^&ed with the wrong Mexican…

Danny Trejo is Machete. Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.

Based on director Robert Rodriguez’s (“Planet Terror”) now not-so-fake trailer that was featured during Rodriguez’s and Quentin Tarantino’s “Grindhouse,” “Machete” brings the blade slinging legend to life.

Three years ago, Mexican federale and all around badass, Machete (Danny Trejo, “Predators”), was betrayed by his government and was forced to watch as Torrez (Steven Segal, “A Dangerous Man”), a Mexican drug lord, brutally slew his wife and daughter. Today, Machete illegally lives across the border in Texas, working as a gardener for hire. Life is simple until a political businessman named Booth (Jeff Fahey, TVs “Lost”) gives him an ultimatum – Either kill die-hard anti-immigration Senator McLaughlin (Robert Deniro, “Everybody’s Fine”) and receive $150,000 for his services or be deported back to Mexico.

Machete reluctantly takes Booth’s offer unknowing of the political conspiracy surrounding the Senator. During the assassination attempt, Machete is betrayed once again by those he is working for. With only two options, either run and hide or fight to uncover the truth, Machete, with the help of an undercover cop (Jessica Alba, “Valentines Day”) and sexy female freedom fighter (Michelle Rodriguez, “Avatar”), decides to take justice into his own vengeful hands.

A new action star isn’t born in “Machete,” Machete is the one giving nasty, unfiltered, blood covered action birth. Machete is a man who will slice you open, yank out your large intestine and use said intestine as rope to secure himself as he jumps out a 10 story building. You think James Bond gets girls easy? Machete gets two girls at once – a mother and her daughter. He knows the score and always gets the bad guys. This is “Machete.”

Exploitation cinema gets seriously exploited in Rodriguez’s follow up to his now cult classic “Planet Terror” (his half of “Grindhouse”).  No filmmaker can purposefully make a crappy movie more over-the-top outrageous better than Rodriguez.  In “Machete” the dialogue is cheesier, the tits are bigger, and the blood flies higher. Even the music, composed by Rodriguez’s Mexican style rock band Chingon (Spanish for badass), is more in-your-face awesome than usual (especially when the hot and heavy porno beat starts to play when things really start to get dirty).

While a coherent plot isn’t necessary, Rodriguez’s screenplay packs a punch with an extreme look at immigration ideas straight out of today’s headlines. Deniro’s McLaughlin is an exaggerated red-neck conservative whose rallies draw white-trash citizens carrying signs with pictures of Uncle Sam saying, “I want you to speak English!” With the help of his patrons and border patrol Nazi-esque guard Lt. Stillman (Don Johnson, “When in Rome”), the Senator will do anything to get re-elected so he can finally get that electrified fence erected along the border.

Linsay Lohan plays a daughter gone wild in "Machete." Image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.

Keeping his cinematic family intact, Rodriguez recycles most of the cast from his previous films, with the addition of some high profile faces. In his eighth film under Rodriguez’s direction, Trejo embodies Machete with a ferocity unknown to mankind. As the “only seen through video conversations until all his minions fail and his expertise is needed to get the job done” drug lord, Segal has fun taking his legendary action status to another level.

Alba, M. Rodriguez and Electra and Elise Avellan (R. Rodriguez’s nieces) all heat up the screen with their undeniable sexiness, but it is actually Lindsay Lohan who steals the show. First seen on-screen as a drugged up mess in a hooker’s outfit, Lohan succeeds in her attempt to spoof her real-life through a movie role. Add to that a nude sequence and a scene involving her mowing down bad guys with a rather large machine gun and she lands a comeback role as momentous as Tom Cruise’s in “Tropic Thunder.”

Obviously geared towards “Grindhouse” fans, “Machete” is unlikely to thrill those who don’t understand the purpose behind exploitation genre. For those of us who do know a great shitty movie when we see one, “Machete” is waiting.

‘Machete’
Release Date: Sept. 3
Directors: Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis
Starring: Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Steven Segal, Robert DeNiro and Lindsay Lohan
Rating: R for strong bloody violence throughout, language, some sexual content and nudity.
Grade: A-