Friday, February 28, 2014

Netflix Instant: TV and Movie Picks

If you're having trouble filling out your Oscar ballot for the party you're going to on Sunday, put in one of these films to clear your mind before you have to pick which Best Live Action Short..which we all know can absolutely ruin your ballot.

This is the latest documentary from the 30 for 30 series that, as you can tell from previous Instant posts, I'm a tad obsessed with. This one takes a look at ice skating's most infamous scandal, the feud between Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. 

This film made waves when it won the Palm d'Or at Cannes this year. But then rumblings came out about how unnecessarily sexually graphic it was. If you shuffle through the people who can't handle those sorts of movies, all the reviews around the film state how raw and truthful this depiction these girls' relationship was. This was on my list last year to see, but never got around to it. Thankfully, I can watch it now.  

I haven't heard much of this film but it has two aspects I thoroughly enjoy: actor Jonathan Groff and the script is based on a David Sedaris short story. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

An Evening With John Williams At The Drafthouse

This past Sunday the Alamo Drafthouse DFW put on a special event, An Evening With John Williams. There were two films that night, HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN and INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, and before each film was a 30 minute set of music played by the Richardson Symphony. The orchestra didn't play music from every John Williams score, though that would be a wonderful night of music to experience, but they picked six pieces including SUPERMAN, JAWS, RAIDERS, HARRY POTTER medley, E.T., and STAR WARS.

In true Alamo fashion, there were drink specials during each show. Harry Potter had delicious adult and kid friendly "Butterbeer" milkshakes, and Indiana Jones had a sweet, yet tart mixed drink aptly named, "The Ah….Venice." Unlike most symphony performances, the theater opted to leave the lights all the way up during their set. No film scenes or pictures on the screen, just us and the music. At first I was afraid the lights would take away from letting myself be immersed into the performances, but I soon found out that it doesn't matter, music will grab hold of you in any light.

As the symphony played each piece, a little-kid-type smile crept over my face and all the movies began to play through my mind. Superman flying through the air; the tense anticipation as the Jaws was about to attack; Indiana Jones running from the boulder; Harry, Ron, and Hermione staring into the distance at the end of film six. And then, when they started playing E.T., I had a response that I wasn't ready for.

Clay Couturiaux, the conductor and music director, prefaced this piece with a story about how John Williams was having trouble creating music for the end of E.T. Spielberg told Williams to create whatever he wanted, and Spielberg would cut the film to fit the music. After hearing that story, it makes sense how emotional the finale of E.T. is. I never saw it in theatres, but we had the VHS at home, and I literally watched the film so much I wore out our copy. There would only be a certain number of scenes I would watch: Elliot and the Reese's Pieces, Drew Barrymore screaming when she sees ET, and of course, the bike flying sequence. When the music swelled and the orchestra played through the finale, I became overrun with emotions. I was instantly transported back to my living room floor, eyes focused on the screen, watching ET say goodbye to Elliot. All of this was running through my head, and I found myself pushing back tears. Had the theatre been dark, I would have been sobbing like a baby, but I held it together as best I could. Once the piece was over, I realized I hadn't been breathing either, so I gasped for air as I joined the audience with applause.

This is what I love about movies and music...the reaction it can cause. I know music plays a major role in film making. It's easy to search the web on think pieces about music toying with the audiences' emotions too much to get the right emotional reaction. Williams' score for ET definitely was written to pull those emotions out from you when you watch the film. But what I was shocked at was the visceral reaction I had from JUST the music. I haven't seen E.T. is over 20 years, but my childhood connection to it was stronger than I realized.

The rest of the set was equally fantastic, and it was a treat to hear the Imperial March from STAR WARS live. The audience at both screenings gave standing ovations at the end of the performances. Seeing both of the films on the big screen made me equally as giddy. I hadn't seen AZAKABAN since it was released in theatres, and I had never seen CRUSADE on the big screen before. Couturaux stated that he was surprised what an instant hit this was, "The players and the audience thoroughly enjoyed the experience. As we were leaving, many audience members shared requests for future performances." James Wallace, the creative programmer for The Alamo Drafthouse, was surprised no one fainted with how awesome the performance was. He hints that there could be more collaborations between RSO and Alamo: 
This was really an experiment that proved to be extremely successful. It's always a gamble doing something like this - bringing in a 40-piece ensemble to perform in the theater and all that goes into making an event of its complexity happen. We obviously hoped and thought people would show up but if people don't, think about how awkward that could be; a skilled group of players playing for only a few people! But that was not the case at all considering that we had not one but two SOLD OUT shows in our biggest house not to mention one of the greatest responses to any event we've put on. So, all that to say, no plans right now but we'll definitely be doing another event with the RSO in the near future...only bigger, better and more awesome!
As someone who doesn't get out to the symphony as much as I would like, this was a real treat to experience. And I very much look forward to future events like this one.

If you want more information about the RSO, please visit their website here! And you can always find out about more events at Alamo DFW here!

Netflix Instant: Movie & TV Picks

Hey guys, this week we have a nice and random mix of movies to check out during the weekend. Check them out below!

IN SECRET Review: Javi's Take

Directed by: Charlie Stratton
Written by:  Charlie Stratton, based on the novel "“Thérèse Raquin” by Emile Zola
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Oscar Isaac, Tom Felton and Jessica Lange
Synopsis: A young woman forcibly married to her cousin engages in a steamy affair.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Here's Your Favorite Bunch of A-Holes, THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

I have admit that when it comes to the Big Two, I'm more a DC Comics dude. But I'm also very much willing to admit when they're messing up in the movie game. The fact that Marvel has garnered enough goodwill to try to pull something as nuts as GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is a testament to how well they have built their movie universe and their reputation . This is currently the only movie that I'm really looking forward in the summer. Check it out below.

Charming Potato Busts a Move in The 22 JUMP STREET Trailer!

A few months ago, a red band trailer of 22 JUMP STREET dropped, and we got to see our favorite undercover cops back in action as they go off to college. A new trailer is now online which shows us more gags, laughs, and meta humor that directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are experts at.

Check the trailer after the break!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Netflix Instant: TV and Movie Picks- 70's Edition!

It's Valentine's Day and if you're already sick of sappy romantic comedies and not ready to binge watch season two of House of Cards yet, I have some Netflix picks for you this weekend. There's always a "list" for bloggers. It's that magical list of films that slipped through their fingers year after year. Movies in which spur responses like, "What do you mean you haven't seen this?" and "How can you write about films when you haven't seen this yet?" These are three films for me that I should have seen by this point but haven't. And they're all from the 1970's. Enjoy.

The movie that spawned the wildly successful T.V. series about the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. It's a smart, black comedy with a fantastic ensemble cast. 

This one had been on my list for years because of the famous exchange off-camera between Hoffman and Olivier. Hoffman had used a method acting technique when he was preparing a scene in which his character had been up for three days, by staying up that long himself. Olivier asked him about it, and when Hoffman told him what he did, Olivier replied, "Why don't you just try acting?" I've also heard it's a great thriller, but that story has always stuck with me.

My Bruce Lee knowledge is sorely lacking. And this is one I've also heard about for a long time, and it's known as one of the best action films around. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


It pays to be friends with Christopher Nolan. First time director, but long time cinematographer, Wally Pfister, has an all-star cast for his first sci-fi film, TRANSCENDENCE. Whether or not he can stand on his own as a director remains to be seen.

Here's the synopsis:
Dr. Will Caster is an artificial intelligence researcher who strives to create a machine that possesses sentience and collective intelligence. Extremists who oppose technological advancement target him, but their actions drive him toward his goal. Caster also wants to become part of the new technology, and his wife Evelyn and his best friend Max Waters, also researchers, question the wisdom of this drive. Caster's goal to acquire knowledge becomes one to acquire power, and he seems to be unstoppable.

Check the trailer after the break!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

THE ATTORNEY Review- Jonesy's Take

Directed by: Yang Woo-seok
Written by: Yoon Hyeon-ho and Woo-seok Yang
Starring: Song Kang-ho, Kim Young-ae, Oh Dal-su, and Im Siwan.
Synopsis: An attorney takes on a high-profile case of a young college student accused of communist actions in 1980s Korea.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Movie Review: THE LEGO MOVIE - Javi's Take

Directed by: Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Written by: Dan and Kevin Hageman, Phil Lord, and Chris Miller
Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrel, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Will Arnett and Alison Brie.
Synopsis: When an average, run-of-the-mill minifigure, Emmet, comes across an ancient relic, only he can stop the evil President Business from destroying the world. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Netflix Instant: Movie & TV Picks- XXL Edition

It's been a very chilly last few days in Dallas, and while the weekend will be warming up, I know there's quite a few of you taking refuge in your couch and due to my negligence, I didn't have a post last week. To make it up, we have a XXL edition of this column. Check out my pics below.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Surprisingly, this is the first TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXCTINCTION post in a long time. There's really been very very little information revealed about the movie so far beyond the fact that there will be Dinobots and cars that turn into robots.

Here's the synopsis:

"As humanity picks up the pieces, following the conclusion of  TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON', Autobots and Decepticons have all but vanished from the face of the planet."

"However, a group of powerful, ingenious businessman and scientists attempt to learn from past Transformer incursions and push the boundaries of technology beyond what they can control - all while an ancient, powerful Transformer menace sets Earth in his crosshairs. The epic adventure and battle between good and evil, freedom and enslavement ensues." 

Now we have our first teaser trailer for the movie. Check it out after the break.

Sportsball Trailer Watch: THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2

This spot is short and sweet. The first (of the rebooted) Spiderman film suffered from a bad script but saved itself because of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Thankfully the duo is back again, and here's to hoping the writers learned a thing or two from the problems of the first 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 the trailer after the break.


If you're not a fan of the Super Bowl, there's always one shining aspect of this night…all the movie trailers!

First up, we have the second trailer for CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. We were treated to a trailer a few months ago, but this new one looks fantastic.

Here's the synopsis:
After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel’s ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy—the Winter Soldier.
Check it out after the break!