Friday, December 27, 2013

Netflix Instant TV and Movie Picks

Now that the holidays are almost over, it's time to face a new year of movies. Rather than head to the mall this weekend to stand in endless lines to exchange gifts, I vote to hang out at home, kickback, sip on leftover eggnog, and watch some awesome movies.

This was recommended to me by a college friend when we were talking about the passing of Peter O'Toole. This film gave O'Toole one of the his eight nominations, and going off the recommendation, is one of his stronger performances. 

This was one of my favorite documentaries from The Dallas International Film Festival a couple years ago. It follows four high schools and various theatre students during their musical season leading up to the Freddy Awards, which are like a local version of the Tony Awards. It's a sweet little film which showcases the joys and hardships of being a high school theatre student.

I feel a tad bit embarrassed that one of my 6th grade students has seen this movie, yet I have not. Now, I can remedy that before I head back to school. Plus, I'm a sucker for early 90's special effects. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Disappointments of 2013- Javi's Picks!

As always, we'll be a very stereotypical movie blog and make a bunch of lists. First up (so we can end the year on a high note) are our disappointments of the year. The unofficial theme here is "Directors That I Really Respect and Like Who Made Bad Movies."

Check out my picks below.

Netflix Instant TV and Movie Picks

Greetings everyone! It's the final weekend to get all your shopping done, and if you would rather avoid the malls, like me, then I have some Netflix Instant suggestions for you to watch while you shop online from the comfort of your home.


If you missed this film in theatres or when CNN aired it, now is your chance to see one of the best documentaries this year. I was blown away by this film. It's tense, eye-opening, and lives up to all the hype surrounding it. It's definitely one of those documentaries which will (and already has) change the way the public feels about a certain subject. 

I saw this documentary during the Dallas International Film Festival a couple years ago. It's very dense and goes into great detail about the water crisis all over the world. It's an almost overload of information, but it brings to light a problem that many of us are unaware of.

After watching the two suggestions above, what better way to cleanse your palette than with a cheesy dance film? We are suckers for dance films with great dance scenes but horrible acting. And STREET DANCE is great and laughable entertainment. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013


HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, more than any other movie in the DreamWorks roster, showed how terribly marketed their movie are. The year that the movie came out, Jonesy and I saw this movie so many times because of the amazing story, and the 3D was better than anything AVATAR was doing. Now, thanks to MTV News, we have a new full-length trailer. Check it out below.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES Trailer Drops and Caesar Looks Fierce

It's been almost three years since we got a re-prequel-boot of Planet of the Apes franchise. No one, especially me, expected anything out of RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, but low and behold, I was pleasantly surprised and the film even made my top ten that year. Now, we get our first teaser for the sequel, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Here's the synopsis:
A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth's dominant species.
Check the trailer after the break.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Red Band 22 JUMP STREET Trailer Is Going To College!

21 JUMP STREET was one of Jonesy and I's favorite movies of the recent memory. It's one of those types of movies that stays better with repeat viewings. Now, with the recent wrapping of principal shooting, the Sony Pictures YouTube page has revealed the new red-band trailer. Check it out below:


Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by: Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Guillermo Del Toro
Starring: Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Richard Armitage, and Aidan Turner
Synopsis: Picking up right after the events of the first movie, Bilbo and the Dwarves make their way to the Lonely Mountain to reclaim Thorin's throne. 

Yesterday, we brought in a guest writer, Travis, who's somewhat of a (very appropriately) self-named Tolkien nerd. You can check out his review here, which is laden with spoilerific goodness. Or you can check out mine after the break, which is fairly spoiler free and comes from the point of view of a not-so Tolkien nerd.

INTERSTELLAR Teaser Drops And We Still Know Nothing!

INTERSTELLAR is director Christopher Nolan's first film since he finished his Dark Knight trilogy. As usual, we don't know a lot about the film, and even with this first teaser, we still know next to nothing!

Bits of information about INTERSTELLAR has surfaced. Here's a very, very basic plot description thanks to Deadline:
INTERSTELLAR will chronicle the adventures of a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.
Check out the trailer after the break!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG Review - Travis' Expert Tolkein Nerd Take

Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by: Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Guillermo Del Toro
Starring: Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Richard Armitage, and Aidan Turner
Synopsis: Picking up right after the events of the first movie, Bilbo and the Dwarves make their way to the Lonely Mountain to reclaim Thorin's throne. 

Consider yourself warned, some spoilers are ahead. Read at your own risk.

Let me introduce myself; my name is Travis, and I’m a Tolkien nerd. With nearly 40 books about/written by/relating to-Tolkien on my bookshelf, I’m that guy who at one point opted to find and learn the differences between Quenya and Sindarin, the two primary Elvish languages created by Tolkien in his Middle Earth. Every year, I read something Tolkien-related, whether it’s my dozenth time through the trilogy or a quick jaunt through the Children of Húrin, so I’ve spent some time geeking out to this man’s creation.

With that being said, my anticipation for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was a killer, rising to near fanboy giddiness a mere hours before. While many people didn’t quite like the first installment, mostly due to the addition of non-Hobbit texts, I absolutely loved it. See, at the end of The Lord of the Rings Tolkien added a number of appendices to help fill out the story so people didn’t have to go back and read a number of other texts. Included is a timeline of major events, including the time Gandalf entirely disappears in The Hobbit. Because that’s what Gandalf does. In the middle of another epic leg of the dwarves’ quest to the Lonely Mountain, Gandalf disappears, and we never know what happens. Peter Jackson still held the rights to use the appendices, so he took it upon himself to mix in some of the missing story lines for The Hobbit. The plus sides? One, more action is included as Gandalf met with the White Council and did some major Sauron butt-kicking in Dol Guldur. And two, Peter Jackson could turn two movies into three.

But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. The feeling of the movie was outstanding. Ringing in just shy of three hours, I didn’t even feel the need to look at my watch. Jackson keeps everyone entertained with an incredible escape via wine barrels, an eye-catching display of Legolas’ physical ability, and some creeptastic moments in Mirkwood. Smaug the dragon looked so powerful and so real. He was just as witty as in the book and just as evil.

Some of the best scenes foreshadowed Jackson’s previous endeavor, a touching moment in Mirkwood Forest where Bilbo brutally and ungraciously murders an infant spider simply because it was too close to his precious ring. While this was a departure from the book, I felt it adequately conveyed the power the ring holds over its bearer. In the book we never truly know who the necromancer is, however we find out via the appendices and the trilogy that it’s Sauron. Jackson could actually put that moment into this film, and it came across brilliantly as a visually-stunning fight scene between Gandalf and the flaming eye himself. It truly captures the epic-ness of what’s going on in the world.

However, here is where the problem lies. The Hobbit, the book, is not epic. It is a story told by Bilbo the hobbit as he is swept away on an adventure with a bunch of dwarves. They do a lot of talking, walking, singing, and eating. Occasionally there’s a sticky situation they have to remove themselves from, but not like Jackson made them to be. If you reimagine the movie without the band of orcs constantly chasing the group, then

you have a better feel of the book. In fact, I feel Jackson wanted so much more action that he cut out some great set-up scenes that are central and important to the mythology. The scene for Beorn in the movie was a fraction, a shadow, of what the book displayed. All we discover is that Beorn doesn’t like dwarves, but houses them, feeds them, and gives them horses to make it to Mirkwood. That’s it. And speaking of Mirkwood, while we got a wonderfully creepy glimpse of the spiders, Jackson really failed to show Bilbo’s cunningness, not simply physically, but linguistically and psychologically as well. He’s not merely able to outmaneuver the spiders, but also outtalk and outthink them.

Anyone can search for Tauriel in The Hobbit and find enough people who are angry and venting about the inclusion of a female elf in a major role. I didn’t necessarily mind her character, but felt it was trite. Jackson mentioned that the book is very male-centric, which it is, and it was necessary to include a female. I’m fine with this, but Jackson made her nothing more than a catalyst for a love interest. Tolkien included Eowyn in the trilogy not as a love interest, but as a force of feminine nature all herself. In fact, all love scenes are reserved for the appendices, where we discover about Arwen and Aragorn. So sure, there needs to be a female character who isn’t the beautifully frightening Galadriel, but why reduce her to a love interest who can shoot an arrow and heal?

See, the issue here is far more than Jackson’s inclusion of a ridiculous number of orcs- chasing-dwarves scenes or elf maidens good at fighting or an awkward love triangle between Legolas, Tauriel, and Kili. The issue is that Jackson could have included all of these in a way that didn’t change the story, but he didn’t. In fact, Jackson changed a considerable chunk of the story solely to get to the point where Tauriel and Kili have some time together to bond. I don’t want to detail out every little thing that Jackson changed for this to occur, but it ends up splitting the group into pieces. That wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t being chased all of the time. The elves wouldn’t have left Mirkwood if they weren’t being chased. In Jackson’s effort to make The Hobbit a more engaging story that feels like the trilogy, he removed the original feeling and heart of the book to make it more palatable for people who haven’t read it.

Despite my criticisms, the movie was total eye candy. Though there were some totally unnecessary CG mishaps (I’m looking at you, GoPro shots in the rapids), it was a feast to watch. It was equal parts adventure and fun, with engaging performances by the entire troupe. The movie definitely scratches that “I want to see more of Middle Earth” itch. Concessions in the transference of books to movies are a necessity, but this time I feel Peter Jackson went a bit too far. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Netflix Instant: Movie & TV Picks - Genre Edition!

 This has to be one of my favorite weeks for Netflix Instant releases that include an old favorite and two efforts by acclaimed directors. Check them out below!

I love, love, love this movie. Saw back in Fantastic Fest 2012 and its imagery has burned it self into my brain. It deals with a sound engineer from England taking a job with an eccentric Italian Giallo director. The violent subject matter surrounding the fictional movie starts to take a toll on him and things start becoming a little surreal. You can see my review from the festival here

Don't know anything about this except that director Johnnie To is a badass director according to my other movie friends and that this is one of his better efforts. It deals with a drug dealer turned informant to the police and the cat-and-mouse game they play. Is the drug dealer being truthful? Or merely wasting the police's time to his own benefit?

Director Ben Wheatley is one of my favorites working today. This is one of his "comedies," which if you're familiar with his work is using the term very lightly. The movie deals with a newlywed couple in their honeymoon. The wife ends up finding out that her new husband is a killer, and that she might be into that notion. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

WHAT'S IN A NAME? (LE PRENOM) Review - Javi's Take

Directed by: Alexandre De La Patellière, and Matthieu Delaporte
Written by: Alexandre De La Patellière, and Matthieu Delaporte
Starring: Patrick Bruel, Valérie Benguigui, Charles Berling, Guillaume De Tonquédec, and Judith El Zein
Synopsis: What starts out as a simple joke about a baby's name during a dinner party becomes an intense and revelatory evening for a group of friends.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

GODZILLA Trailer Will Blow You Away

The wait is over. We've had some teasers but now the first official GODZILLA trailer as well as a new poster are here. Thanks to the Godzilla Twitter account and Youtube page, you can check it out below.

JUPITER ASCENDING Trailer Drops and Charming Potato Shows Off His Manly Elf Ears

The Wachowskis have become somewhat polarizing filmmakers. It seems you either love what they put out or hate it. Even if their works aren't universally loved, they're masters at world building and creating visually stunning films.

For their follow up to CLOUD ATLAS, which we adored last year, The Wachowskis are back with another fantasy/sci-fi film, JUPITER ASCENDING. Check out the synopsis below:

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things.  Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning toilets and an endless run of bad breaks.  Only when Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along – her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.
Check the trailer after the break!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

South Asian International Film Festival Review: QISSA: THE TALE OF THE LONELY GHOST- Jonesy's Take

Directed by Anup Singh
Written by Anup Singh
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Tillotama Shome, Rasika Dugal, and Tisca Chopra
Synopsis: A man will go at any lengths to have a son to carry on the family name.

South Asian International Film Festival Review: I.D. - Javi's Take

Directed by: Kamal K.M.
Written by: Kamal K.M.
Starring: Geetanjali Thapa and Marari Kumar
Synopsis: When a painter passes out at her apartment, a woman must find out the identity of the man.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Netflix Instant: Movie & TV Picks - Random Picks Edition!

So this weekend in Dallas, we're frozen in thanks to a crappy storm. This is a perfect reason to not leave your couch and watch a bunch of movies. Here's four (!!!) picks to get the weekend going.

South Asian International Film Festival Reivew: ANKHON DEKHI- Jonesy's Take

Directed by Rajat Kapoor
Written by Rajat Kapoor
Starring: Sanjay Mishra, Rajat Kapoor, Seema Pahwa, Taranjeet Kaur, Maya Sarao, Namit Das, Manu Chaddha, and Brijendra Kala
Synopsis: A middle aged man goes through a mid-life crisis and begins questioning various aspects of his life. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013


When the reboot of Spider-Man came out just last year, it was met with mixed reviews. The script lacked cohesiveness and focus, which was a shame because Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield were fantastic in their respective roles. Before the first film was even finished, the studio had already green lighted this sequel, so here's to hoping to a more solid script and better film.

Here's the synopsis:
We’ve always known that Spider-Man’s most important battle has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker finds that a greater conflict lies ahead. It’s great to be Spider-Man. For Peter Parker, there’s no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen. But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro, Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn, returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: OsCorp.

Check out the trailer after the break!

South Asian International Film Festival Review: ANIMA STATE - Javi's Take

Directed by: Hammad Khan
Starring: Uns Mufti, Malika Zafar, Osman Khalid Butt, Johnny Mustafa, Sobia Rasheed Khalid Saeed, Hammad Khan, and Waqas Ahmed.
Synopsis: A mysterious man in Pakistan goes on a killing spree and no one seems to notice.