Posts Tagged 'bradley cooper'

The 2015 Biggie Awards (& My Top 10 and Bottom 5 of 2014)

The 26th Annual Biggie Awards

[UPDATED WITH WINNERS!]

for achievements in film for the year 2014

(click on any image to see the full-size version)

A year like 2014 is precisely why I created my own awards to begin with. It’s a year when the Oscars and I disagreed perhaps more than we ever have. I dutifully watched the Academy Awards this year, as I always do, but I had little to no rooting interest, as almost none of my favorite movies were up in the categories they should’ve been recognized in. Though you’ll find quite a bit of overlap in our acting nominees, I only agree with 3 of the Academy’s 8 Best Picture nominees, and they passed gas on nearly all of their technical categories. What else is new?

I thought 2014 was a good year on the whole, but not great. Maybe a B+ if I were to grade it. The barometer I use in judging an entire year is how many movies I put on my all-time “Movies I Love” list. This year, there were 21 new entrees on that list. There were 22 in 2013 and 25 in 2012. For perspective, the most ever is 31 from 2000. None of 2014’s entries will wind up in my all-time top 100, but that’s a tough list to crack any year.

Continue reading ‘The 2015 Biggie Awards (& My Top 10 and Bottom 5 of 2014)’

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Mini-Reviews: FAST & FURIOUS 6, THE HANGOVER: PART III

Two movies. Two reviews. Zero tolerance. Let’s get right into it. MINOR SPOILERS ahead.

fast_and_furious_six_ver3All roads lead to this, and this road leads to 5 more sequels.

Well, at least in this instance the trailers were honest. Fast & Furious 6 was exactly what I thought it would be, to the letter. It met my expectations with the precision of a neurosurgeon, the precision of a finely tuned Michael Bay explosion, or the precision of a LeBron James flop. Oh, you want more? Fine.

The problem with Fast Five being so successful is that the filmmakers’ only thought going into 6 was, “We have to go bigger!” This is the least creative, most brainless solution to the What do we do now? quandary, but it’s also the one that sells the most opening-weekend tickets, which is all Universal ultimately cares about. Fact is, bigger is NOT always better. In fact, it rarely is. It simply makes things more complicated.

Continue reading ‘Mini-Reviews: FAST & FURIOUS 6, THE HANGOVER: PART III’

Mini Reviews: THE GREAT GATSBY, PAIN & GAIN, THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES

As 2013 continues to slog along, I continue to wait for a truly great film to be released. On my nomination ballot for next year’s Biggie Awards, I still don’t have any movies under consideration for Best Picture, Director, or either screenplay categories. At this point, 2013 is looking a lot like 2009. Hopefully that changes in the coming weeks. Is Star Trek Into Darkness as good as J.J. Abrams‘ first Trek outing? Will Man of Steel live up to the fast-rising expectations? Please, movie gods, let’s hope so.

Anyway, here are my thoughts on 3 recent flicks that I’ve seen, none of which rocked my socks, but all of which are worthy of comment. Minor SPOILERS ahead.

great_gatsby_ver15

After being delayed 6 months from its original release, The Great Gatsby finally opened last week to a surprisingly strong $50 million weekend. The film is directed by Baz Luhrmann, who may be hit or miss, but one thing’s for sure; he’s a visionary, and I can appreciate that. His last film, 2008’s Australia, was a huge disappointment, but I’m a big fan of Romeo + Juliet (which began young Leonardo DiCaprio‘s meteoric rise as a heartthrob) and Moulin Rouge!, one of the best (and easily the most original) musicals of the last 20 years. He’s very much a love-him or hate-him kind of director, because his visual and editorial style is very IN YOUR FACE. In fact, I despised Moulin Rouge! after the first time I saw it- even going so far as to tell people it was one of the worst movies I’d ever seen, but for whatever reason, I gave it a second chance and “got it” the second time. Summed up, The Great Gatsby is very much a Baz Luhrmann film.

Continue reading ‘Mini Reviews: THE GREAT GATSBY, PAIN & GAIN, THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES’

Things I’m Sick Of

This is a list of random things that have been annoying me lately. Basically, a series of mini rants that aren’t worth doing as their own posts but put together might give you some amusement. It’s also nice just go get this stuff off my chest, which is the primary reason this blog exists.

Here are nine (9) random things driving me bonkers:

-I’m sick of the lame ideas we’re hearing about the potential Star Wars spinoff movies. If rumors are to be believed, LucasFilm/Disney is considering doing standalone films for Han Solo, Yoda and Boba Fett in addition to J.J. AbramsEpisode VII. I’m a lifelong Star Wars nerd, and I’m sorry, but these ideas couldn’t be less interesting from a creative standpoint. It’s like they took a focus group, and 25 people were asked, Who is your favorite Star Wars character? And of course, aside from Darth Vader, most people would answer Han Solo, Yoda or Boba Fett. When given this information, predictably, Disney’s response was, “Oh, well then let’s make separate movies about each of those characters! Ka-ching, mothafucka!”

Continue reading ‘Things I’m Sick Of’

THE HANGOVER: PART II – Review and Analysis

DISCLAIMER: I’m just copy/pasting this review from the one I posted on Facebook, with a few additions and clarifications. There’s no need for me to go into much more detail on this movie, but I do want to say a couple more things about this “franchise” in general.

The Hangover: Part II is so similar to the original that it could just as easily be called a remake as a sequel. Despite how much I enjoyed the film, I can’t help but feel insulted by how little they changed from the first one. There are two noteworthy differences between The Hangover and Part II. One is the new location (Bangkok) and the second is the prominent use of a monkey, which you could actually argue just replaces the prominent use of a tiger in the first movie. So the location may be the only major difference. Instead of the lame “Part II” subtitle, they should have just called it The Hangover: Bangkok. In the long history and tradition of Hollywood sequels, this may be the least original one ever made. And that’s saying something.

What’s missing here, as every reviewer before me has noted, is the freshness and the surprise of the original. The question isn’t “How will this end?” anymore, it’s “What new jokes will we see to get us from the same beginning to the same ending?” And that’s really all it is; new jokes and new situations to end up at the very same places.

Having said that, the movie is very funny. Not quite as funny as the original, but I was LOL’ing fairly frequently. However, a lot of the new jokes made use of male nudity that I can only describe as…excessive. This movie has more dicks in it than a feature-length porno. And that’s not an exaggeration. Very disturbing. I also thought too many of the jokes were centered on Zach Galifiankis‘s Alan character. If Alan wasn’t the one being funny, every time someone else was funny, there’d be a cut to Alan showing his funny reaction.

Overall, the cast is good. I liked Ken Jeong having an expanded role, I thought they made pretty good use of the brother-in-law-to-be (the kid who gets “lost” this go-around), but make no mistake: this one, though focused around Ed HelmsStu character’s wedding, is all about Galifianakis. I’m not totally sick of it yet, but I’m at least weary of his act. I think of anyone in this cast, Ed Helms has the brightest future. I can easily see him moving into drama and following the Tom Hanks model, though obviously not with that level of success. Audiences will eventually tire of Galifianakis, especially when he’s eventually given his own movie to himself. Then the next pudgy, hairy comedian will come along with a new shtick, as seems to be the tradition in comedy. Bradley Cooper isn’t required to do much for his character, but he’s fine enough. I did think Paul Giamatti was underutilized in his little part, but it is what it is. The focus has to stay on the primary characters. As per the first film, the women in this one have little to do, least of all any comedy, and are even more irrelevant than the women in the first movie. At least there, a couple of them had things to do other than scream into a phone, “Where are you?!” If you want to see women being funny, Bridesmaids is still playing and worth your time.

Finally, the filmmaking, as always with Todd Phillips at the helm, is superb. The movie looks better than almost any other comedy, because Phillips is an excellent visual director. He doesn’t tone down the quality of the filmmaking just because he’s making a comedy, and I respect that a lot. He also doesn’t need to be wasting his time with sequels like this. I still hold out hope he’ll expand and do other genres, as he clearly has the talent. The cinematography here is gorgeous, he shoots in nice wide angles, and the editing is equally skillful. I think Phillips could make an action movie or a drama just as easily as he handles comedy.

In the end, my original fears about why this was even made were confirmed. There was no NEED for another one, and they sure as hell didn’t come up with a story good enough to warrant a sequel. It was done for money, and nothing else. These characters started as mostly realistic people who exist in the real world, and now they’ve become this cartoonish “Wolfpack” that we’re now supposed to EXPECT is constantly getting into these kinds of situations. Actually, that’s the clever thing they pulled off here. They’ve set it up so that if there’s a Part III, we’ll no longer be surprised. At the end of the movie, they basically state that this is what they are now, a group of normal guys who sometimes end up doing absurdly insane shit while they party. It doesn’t score many points for originality, but it does set them up nicely for another movie, whether we want to see one or not.

Again, I really enjoyed this movie, I like these characters, and I laughed a lot, but I have literally never seen a sequel with such an uninspired plot structure, and that laziness in storytelling, done just so everyone involved could cash in even more on the success of the original, is just WRONG. It actually offends me. I’ll tell you this right now; if they make a third one with the same cast and same director with the same structure again, I will not pay to see it in theaters. You have to draw the line somewhere.


“I feel like I’ve shot this before.”

And that’s the end of my original review. I did enjoy the movie, but I can’t include it with the original on my “Movies I Love” list, because I can’t love anyone who has as little respect for me as this sequel did.

Of course, Part II had a massive opening weekend. It opened on Thursday the 26th, giving it a 5-day Memorial Day opening. It took in $85.9 million between the Wednesday night midnight shows and Sunday for the weekend, and when you include Monday for the 5-day weekend, it’s already made $135 million on a +/- $80 million budget. It’s over $200 million worldwide. That’s easily the biggest opening ever for an R-rated comedy. If there’s a positive to take out of this, it’s more evidence for the stupid Hollywood suits that people will show up en masse for an R-rated movie. Yes, it was a sequel, but still. I’m not all that impressed with those numbers, because it’s going to take a huge plummet this weekend once audiences realize they’ve been duped. Despite this mega-opening, and for the reasons just stated, I’m still calling that it will not outgross the original (which finished at $277 million).

The bad news? Warner Bros. has predictably already put a third Hangover into development. They’ve hired writer Craig Mazin (who co-wrote Part II and had a hand in Scary Movie 3 and 4) to starting working on Part III. No, there are no plot details and the main cast, as well as Todd Phillips, have said they won’t commit to a third one unless there’s a good idea. Then again, they also said that about the second one, so that tells you how concerned they are about “good ideas” when a huge payday is involved. To be fair to Phillips, even he has said that if there were a third one, he wouldn’t want to have the same structure as the first two, and I will choose to take him at his word on that. Again, I just don’t think any of these guys could say no to this guaranteed payday on Part II, and I can forgive them that. I can forgive that once, anyway.

As I said above, I will not see a Hangover III in theaters if it’s the same people doing the same thing for a third time. I don’t think that’s gonna happen, though. Mazin joked that he’d like to see the third one end with many of the main characters dead from their newest adventure. If the movie had that kind of balls, I’d be excited about it. There have to eventually be some kind of consequences for these guys and the people around them. But how do you make that funny? Well, I’m not the one writing it, that’s their problem to figure out. I just don’t believe Warner Bros. will allow them to be that brave with it. But if that’s the direction they’re thinking, I’m on board. You cant’ just put these guys in another new city (Amsterdam has been thrown around) and have them go through one crazy night of partying. There has to be some evidence of their actions other than a camera phone or digital camera. Regardless, going forward I will view The Hangover as a standalone film, and I’ll simply refuse to acknowledge the sequel(s) as existing in that same world. Whatever helps you sleep at night, right?

-We’re halfway through the first season of Game of Thrones, and it continues getting better and better. For today’s Recommended Listening, I found this excellent video the other day of a dude covering Ramin Djawadi‘s theme song on the electric guitar. Love it.

and of course, the original:


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