Tuesday, March 31, 2015

New MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Trailer: Cars! Spikes! Explosions! Metal chastity belts! Guys with flaming guitars!

I'm not sure if it was the editing or the just the insane post-apocalyptic vibe, but this new MAD MAX: FURY ROAD has me so pumped, I think I'm going to go run 10 miles! I won't really say much else. Check it out after the break.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Local Haps: March 30th - April 5th

After a week off recovering from South By Southwest, I'm back with a plethora of screenings all throughout DFW to keep you busy. I'll be real, the weather is way too nice to be inside watching movies. Still, if you've already seen the excellent WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS and IT FOLLOWS, then check out these special screenings below

Friday, March 20, 2015

IT FOLLOWS Review - Javi's Take

Director: David Robert Mitchell.
Writer: David Robert Mitchell.
Actors: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi and Jake Weary.
Synopsis: After a young woman is cursed and being followed by a creature, she must figure out how to get rid of it. 

Netflix Instant: TV and Movie Picks

It's a pretty light week at the movies, and many people's Spring Break is coming to an end. If you need to detox this weekend and rest up before going back to school or work, here are some great films and a TV series for you to enjoy.

INSURGENT Review- Jonesy's Take

Director: Robert Schwentke
Writer: Brian Duffield and Akiva Goldsman
Actors: Shailene Woodley, Kate Winslet, Theo James, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, Octavia Spenser, and Naomi Watts
Synopsis: Tris is back trying to overthrow Jeanine and her master plan to wipe out Divergents.

This review originally ran on CentralTrack.com

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Local Haps: March 16th- March 22nd

Spring Break happened for some last week but is happening for others this week. Whether you're off this week or sad to be back in school this week, there are plenty of great movie events to get you through the dull of March. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

CINDERELLA Review: Javi's Take

Director: Kenneth Branagh.
Writer: Chris Weitz.
Actors: Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Sophia McShera, Holliday Grainger and Helena Bonham Carter.
Synopsis: You seriously don't know this story? Come on now!

This review was originally published at Central Track.

In the wake of Christopher Nolan's Batman reboot, we've faced a nonstop deluge of characters from our youth being thrown into adult, and often violent, situations.
Dark and gritty updates? Yeah, they've been the big trend in Hollywood for a minute. And not even Disney's been immune to it: Its live-action updates of ALICE IN WONDERLAND and MALEFICENT both went this way, with the latter even containing some rape allegories. Fairy tales be damned, shit's been getting pretty real in the theaters lately.
So it's rather refreshing, then, that CINDERELLA  bucks this trend. Much like its protagonist, it's a movie full of hope and humor -- one that kids and adults can appreciate alike.
This is not to say, however, that this incarnation falls right in line with the 65-year-old animated film of the same name. It doesn't. Actually, this new version is better written, especially when it comes to character development and motivation. Of course, it's still fantastical: A lot of scenes -- from Cinderella's mice friends to her stepsisters' garish dresses -- look like they were taken right out of the cartoon. But whereas Cinderella, her stepmother and her prince were all blank slates who served the plot for no real reason before, they're all three more fleshed out and believable this time around.
Cinderella, the character, is ultimately defined by the mantra given to her by her dying birth mother: "Have courage and be kind," our lead is told in this early scene. It's a strong, positive message -- and it's the attitude she develops in kind that, despite her beauty, ends up truly captivating the prince.
Lily James shines in this title role. She steals the movie with her charisma and her facial expressions carry the film. As her Cinderella searches for the best in every situation, her face clearly shows that her stepmother's abuse is getting to her.
There's in fact plenty for James to play with in this take: Richard Madden -- playing a named prince (Kit) this time through -- is basically channeling his GAME OF THRONES character Robb Stark here with his portrayal of a prince whose responsibilities to his father and the kingdom very much clash with those of his heart, but that doesn't mean he's phoning it in. He's solid in the role, and even better when collaborating with James. Cate Blanchett's stepmother too is improved, and finally given a satisfying source for her cruelty was towards Cinderella. There are even times early on in the film when you could sympathize with her character's plight, and Blanchett just brings a real pain to the role.
Overall, though, it's an upbeat film -- almost too much so, in some regards. One of the integral parts of Cinderella's story is all of the suffering and degradation that she must endure at the hands of her stepmother and stepsisters. Here, however, it all feels fairly glossed-over. Most of this tragic part of the story is told via montage, with only a few extended scenes here and there. The same can be said of Prince Kit's slightly more political problems, each of which is resolved in minutes or with relative ease. Combined, these plot leaps are a little problematic; the conflict in this film could certainly be greater.
Another area of restraint can be found through the use of both the fairy godmother character and Cinderella's mice companions. Here, though, it's effective. Helena Bonham Carter's fairy godmother cracks a lot of jokes and is a hilarious presence in the few minutes that she appears on the screen, and the mice add a levity to the film's darker scenes even when relegated to background shenanigans. They don't dominate the story as they do in other tellings. In this version, they just support it -- and quite well, at that.
On the whole, this CINDERELLA fits the bill of a well-known story told in an exciting way. There's depth and dimension in both the plot and the characters here.
Kids in tow or not, it's a worthwhile watch.

Netflix Instant: Not at all Scary Friday the 13th Edition!

With today being Friday the 13th, it would be totes easy to just recommend a bunch of rad or underseen horror movies. Instead, today I'll recommend three fun picks devoid of big dudes with machetes. Check them out below! 

Yeah, yeah. I've talked about this show before and with high praise. But I'm highlighting Australian comedy DANGER 5 again is because Netflix has the second season now! This is a huge deal because back when S2 made its US debut, there was still fear that the last few episodes would be delayed indefinitely due to the terrorist attacks in Australia at the time. Thankfully, we have all of them now so sit down and binge watch them while you sip on the Perfect Beyond Chunderdome.

I almost feel bad Jonesy isn't talking about this movie, but whatevs. I'll be honest, it's a bit of a shame that this came out the same year as THE LEGO MOVIE because it's such a good standalone story and a great sequel to the original. The world has now had dragons for a while and we get to see new designs which are all delightful. This is a must-see.

With all of the jibba jabba surrounding Spider-Man's "return" to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's easy to forget that there's already an awesome Spider-Man working within an MCU-esque setting. This cartoon shows a high-school aged Peter Parker being trained by S.H.I.E.L.D's Nick Fury to be an even better hero. Spidey leads a team of young heroes, Iron Fist, Nova, Power Man and White Panther. The animation is great, the show is hilarious and each episode is great on its own and adds to the overall story. And to top it off, it has Spidey interacting with all of the Avengers AND Phil Coulson (voiced by Clark Gregg himself) is his principal! Who needs live action when you have this?

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Local Haps: March 9th to March 15th

Now that Dallas is not a winter wasteland, you're able to go out and go see some rad movies! Or maybe go out for a walk or drink at a patio. I'd recommend some movies myself, but that's just me! Check out some special screenings after the break.



Director: Ken Scott.
Writer: Steven Conrad.
Actor: Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco and Sienna Miller.

This review originally ran at Central Track

UNFINISHED BUSINESS is one of those movies where it's not hard to see what the people behind the film are trying to accomplish. Unfortunately, it's also one of those films where the execution of that clear aim is way off the mark.
Also? It's predictable and, worse, it's unintentionally comedic at times.
Here's the deal: We've seen this film many times before. In other words, yup, it's another movie starring Vince Vaughn playing the typical Vince Vaughn role. This time, he's Dan Trunkman, a high-rolling salesman for a metals supply company with a future to call his own on his mind. Fed up with the grind of working for a bigger corporation, he tries to strike out on his own with a ragtag group of followers named Tim (Tom Wilkinson) and Mike (Dave Franco). Along the way, we follow the ups and the many downs of this trio as they try to close in on the biggest score their fledgling company's ever seen.
To be frank: There really aren't too many honest-to-goodness strengths to this movie. The closest thing it has to a saving grace is the at-times charming comedic chemistry of its leads.
All three of these characters are at different points in their lives, and those differences are the basis the majority of the film's too-few laughs. Tim's an old man who's been around the block a couple of times and has a jaded attitude as a result. Dan is still very much the go-getter type, practicing his speeches all while trying to keep his shit together. And then there's Mike, who's both the funniest and the most troubling part of the movie: He's a sweet and insanely awkward guy just starting his first "adult" job and he gets some of the film's most memorable lines.
But here's why Mike's character isn't so great: UNFINISHED BUSINESS all but explicitly states that Mike is autistic -- and, while the movie seems to change gears a very little bit once that truth comes to light, it still implores audiences to laugh at him rather than with him. So, sure, he says some funny things here and there. And then you realize what's going on, and it just feels dirty. Franco's not to blame for any of this, of course. His performance is seriously amazing when you compare it to his other roles -- it's tough to believe, for instance, that this is the same guy from NEIGHBORS. But his Mike is constantly the butt of the jokes here -- and, almost exclusively, it's because of his intelligence and/or his mannerisms.
Also gross? There's just an insane amount of product placement going on in here. Look: We know that financing movies sucks nowadays and that you have to get your bills paid where you can. But you have to do it gracefully. The fact that our leads' fledgling company offices inside of a Dunkin Donuts is fine. Having one of these characters praise the use of a certain app to find a hotel is another thing altogether. Same goes for when Dan takes off some of his fancy shoes and the camera lingers on the logo for an extra second or so. Maybe this wouldn't be so noticeable if this wasn't a film that's trying to cultivate an anti-corporation message. But that's exactly what this film is trying to do, and moments like these just undermine that whole effort.
Meanwhile, don't even get me started on whatever the hell this film is trying to do with Dan's family. They're tossed in to represent some sort of anti-bullying theme, and it's all very weird, and they only show up at the most inconvenient times. Their screen time is wholly wasted.
In the end, none of these elements come together. The story is weak and flimsy, the movie is constantly at odds with its themes and even the well-executed jokes come with concern. The leads are strong, but their talents are wasted.
Unless you're desperate to catch a matinee or out of Netflix options a couple of years from now, don't let UNFINISHED BUSINESS waste your time, too.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Netflix Instant: TV and Movie Picks

I think the snow is finally thawing down here in Dallas, and Spring Break is about to start. Perfect timing. There are loads of great titles to catch up on, and if you need a break from House of Cards, like me, here are some great titles for you to enjoy to help you procrastinate on spring cleaning. 

THESE FINAL HOURS Review- Jonesy's Take

Directed by Zak Hilditch
Written by Zak Hilditch
Starring: Nathan Philips, Angourie Rice, Kathryn Beck, and Daniel Henshall 
Synopsis: There is 12 hours left before humanity is wiped out forever, and James is helping Rose find her family. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Alamo Experience: 90s Will Make Love to You

*Note: this article originally ran on CentralTrack.com.

As a franchise, the Alamo Drafthouse is fairly notorious for its special presentations. They really do it all in this regard: They show old films, they bring in comedians to mock bad movies, and they even have a running series called The Action Pack, through which the theater presents quote-along and sing-along screenings every month. 

Over the years, I've heard a lot in particular about these sing-alongs, where music videos are shown in all their glory and with the closed-captioning on -- y'know, so you can properly learn that it's "hold me closer, tiny dancer" and not "hold me closer, Tony Danza." 

Having never been myself, though, one thing that I didn't quite understand was how these sing-alongs jived with Alamo's no talking policy. But now all of my questions and speculations have finally been answered.

Last week, I went to my first sing-along.

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON Trailer is Smashing!

It feels that sooner than later we are going to hit Peak Superhero Movies. Just looking at the next 5 years alone can make you think that. It doesn't mean, however, that we won't have a good time getting tired of comic book movies. All of this goes to say that the new AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON trailer looks rad as hell. There's a lot more implied plot points here and even themes that might carry out all through CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. The trailer comes courtesy of the ridiculous Twitter marketing stunt and Marvel Entertainment YouTube page and you can check it out below.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Local Haps: March 2nd - March 8th

I know 75% of you have got some bad cabin fever. So get out of the house and go see some movies!!!!

Monday, March 2nd
Alamo Drafthouse:  Tonight's main event is the thankfully early monthly AGFA Secret Screening at 7:00 pm. As always, you don't know what you're going to get but it will be fun as hell.

Texas Theatre: The documentary SONS OF LIBERTY screens at 6:00 pm. It deals with the way that corporations control all of the information in this country. Very scary stuff.

Tuesday, March 3rd
Alamo Drafthouse: Tough Guy Cinema presents one of the best movies of the 90's, director John Woo's perfect distillation of crazy Nicolas Cage and John Travolta performances, FACE/OFF. It all goes down at 7:00 pm.

Texas Theatre: Tuesday Night Trash returns with the grimy cyberpunk movie, DECODER at 9:15 pm. It's a semi-adaption of a William S. Burroughs story, The Electronic Revolution. As always, TNT is free. You can check out the trailer here.

Before that at 7:00 pm, they'll be hosting the SHOW US YOUR SHORTS! showcase of local filmmakers' shorts all competing for a prize! Admission is $5.

Wednesday, March 4th
Alamo Drafthouse: One of my favorite movies of all time, GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH is screening at 9:00 pm. If nasty little green creatures aren't up your alley, how about you dance and sing along to some of New Wave's greatest hits at the next Sing-Along at 8:00 pm?

Thursday, March 5th
Alamo Drafthouse: As if you would want to miss this CLUELESS quote-along at 7:40 pm?

Granada Theater: In an interesting turn of events, it seems my favorite music venue in all of DFW, the Granada Theater is starting to show cheap movies with drink specials. This week's offering are HEAVY METAL at 7:00 pm and then SUPERBAD at 9:00 pm. Both are a mere $3 per ticket.

Texas Theatre:  It's actually the whole night at the Theatre. Starting off at 7:00 pm, there's a screening of the music doc RECORDS COLLECTING DUST and then at 9:30 pm, there's the monster movie by director Adam Green, DIGGING UP THE MARROW.

Friday, March 6th
Texas Theatre: PICK OF THE WEEK! The traveling EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE! video tour comes to Dallas tonight at 8:00 pm. For those not in the know, EIT is a bizarre found footage collective who compile all of this weird stuff they find on VHS tapes, DVDs and all sort of assorted media. It's awkward and funny and a little disgusting but it's never boring!

Saturday, March 7th
Alamo Drafthouse: PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! is what you will be saying if you go to the WAYNE'S WORLD quote-along at 7:15 pm. Or if you prefer your evening to be a little classier and a lot more British, you can check out the next installment of the Bondthology series with 1987's THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (aka the first movie with Timothy Dalton) at 7:00 pm.

Texas Theatre: There's a one-time screening of director Joe Lynch's EVERLY at 7:00 pm with a director Q&A over Skype right after the movie. I got to catch this movie at last year's Fantastic Fest and I have to say that despite some of the questionable sexual politics it's implying, I had quite a good time with it. Salma Hayek is such a bad ass action star in this and she carries most of the movie like a boss.

Sunday, March 8th
Alamo Drafthouse: If you've never seen Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller VERTIGO, you can cross it off your shame list at 1:00 pm. Then, continuing the Avenge the Alamo series, is THE INCREDIBLE HULK, the really underrated movie starring Edward Norton. And finally, the masters of cinematic comedy, Master Pancake will be lampooning the very lampoon-able FIFTY SHADES OF GREY at 5:00 pm and 8:15 pm.