Alec Baldwin

Movie Issues: Rise of the Guardians

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Movie Issues: Rise of the Guardians

This week the guys go and get their holiday animation on! They watched the 2012 animated flick, Rise of the Guardians. You know, that movie where Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, The Sandman and Jack Frost all have to team up and fight The Boogie Man. Yup! It was really the only “easter” flick we could come up with. So please download and enjoy as we talk all about the flick, WonderCon and Agents of SHEILD. It’s another full episode of their BS.  Read On

Movie Issues: The Shadow

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Movie Issues: The Shadow

This week the guys watched the 1994s The Shadow. The story of pulp hero Lamont Cranston who learns to “cloud men’s minds,” a form of mystical, psychic hypnosis that allows him to influence others’ thoughts and bend their perceptions. With his new power he becomes The Shadow and hero from 1930s New York. But wouldn’t you know it, last descendant of Genghis Khan wants to take over the world and it’s up to The Shadow to stop him. You know….like one does. So please download and listen as we discuss The Shadow, The Oscars and all sorts of geeky stuff!

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It's Complicated

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How lovely to see a romance and flirtation and obstacles in a comedy based on history and life connections rather than lumbar tattoos and skateboarding talent. Even lovelier is getting to see the funny and playful Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin emobdy a divorced couple circling each other, drawn by the heady scent of unfinished business. What an extra treat to see Steve Martin (in Serious Actor mode, mostly) orbiting their complex dance and do what he does so well: be charming and sincere.

After 10 years of being divorced, Streep is still awkward about Baldwin’s young, hot wife Lake Bell, but Meryl and Alec still have a wonderful comfort to them when Bell is not around. Streep is luminous and gorgeous, even more so than when she was in Mamma Mia — she’s a stronger romantic comedy contender than I have seen all year (sorry Sandy!). Baldwin is all gruff confidence and unaware selfishess, wheedling his wants out of his ex without a care in the world. Watching them together, you root for them, even knowing why they divorced. Watching Streep groove on her own empty nest self-actualization, you root for Martin to win her heart. Truth is, no one is probably good enough for this awesome woman, except her amazing house and her fantastic little clutch of friends (Rita Wilson, Mary Kay Place, and Alexandra Wentworth). Maybe.

Fun romantic comedy standard hijinks ensue, with some great extra funny supplied by John Krasinski, iChat, and a little mary jane. Characters are perpetually doing the math on the last time we… remember back in… they’ve been apart for… it started about X years ago… which keeps our historical perspective primed while we watch first-date-worthy giddiness muddle the heads of our leads. We get a strong sense of their history, one we become fond of without ever having experienced, and yet we also love Streep being finally happy for herself. Everyone is so freaking charismatic you almost forget to appreciate the great, adult story. It’s not an old person’s movie but it is an extremely enjoyable one that should be watched by second-bloom folks of all ages.

The kids of the divorce are a little fragile and flatly portrayed, as if the screenwriter/director Nancy Meyers can only imagine what it would be like to be a child of a divorced couple. How the tables have turned, youth culture! Now you’re the boring ones. For all the complicatedness of the emotions Streep and Baldwin navigate, it’s still a smooth ride to huge grins and hearty guffaws, with excellent performances.

MPAA R- some drug content and sexuality

Release date 12/25/09

Time in minutes

Director Nancy Meyers

Studio Universal Pictures

Comments Off on The Aviator (2004)

The Aviator (2004)

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You may think that Leonardo DiCaprio is too boyish to play eccentric millionaire and aviator Howard Hughes; I know that was my first thought upon glimpsing the Leo-prominent poster. It was also the reason I almost didn’t see this movie, and I hope to convince you fine folks out there to resist that impulse and check this film out.

Director Martin Scorcese thankfully turns out a very different film from his Gangs of New York here. In this film we get to know the man, see the myth from the inside and the outside, feel all around it like a blind man trying to appreciate a sculpture. We get to see a man who we cannot begin to understand, and then come to understand him (as well as anyone could). DiCaprio is suited physically for Hughes’ 19-year-old 1920’s Hollywood mogul days. Later, in the Spruce Goose days, he’s the spitting image of the crazy innovator, and you almost completely forget his youthful frame.

It’s interesting to see a man’s passions and his demons intertwine so subtly at first and then destructively and fascinatingly. DiCaprio pulls off a difficult task of keeping a man who was practically a cartoon waiting to be drawn in the realm of realism, and playing him without vanity watering him down. His shrewdness never falters even when he knows he is falling apart; he protects himself with money and charm, but the brains are really what keep him up.

Cate Blanchett steals the movie by channeling Katherine Hepburn’s spirit. At first the physical dissimilarities (as with any famous person playing another famous person) were too jarring, too distracting; but in short order she embodies the great Kate and she rules every inch of this movie that she graces just as the woman she portrays did – in those days especially. I was previously unaware of their connection, but if John Logan’s script is accurate, theirs is one of the great could-have-beens in Hollywood history.

The production design is marvelous. I couldn’t tell how many planes were actually built for this film (a sincere compliment to the effects crew) but the intimacy Hughes has with certain crafts demands a real plane and you can feel what it must have been like back then to see these new changes in the avionic and aeronautic fields.

The movie ambles along, happy enough just to present events and uses an interesting structure to knit the times of Hughes’ life together. It has a strange feel to get used to (rather like getting used to Cate as Kate) but once you’re in it starts to work. Perhaps it’s like flying a plane for the first time. Scorcese peppers the movie with solid supporting actors like John C. Reilly and Alec Baldwin (but how does Danny Huston merit a role?), but the real stars are Cate and Leo. It’s an interesting period piece about an interesting man who lived at just the right time in our history to live this extraordinary existence.

MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 12/25/04
Time in minutes 168
Director Martin Scorcese
Studio Miramax Films

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Cats & Dogs

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Cats rule. Not according to Cats & Dogs, however, which was decidedly pro-dog. If you’re a huge dog fan (and somehow can ignore the fact that all property damage except a wee little bit of knife-throwing was done by dogs), you should enjoy Cats & Dogs. The dog acting is fantastic, actually – multiple dogs on screen with different actions and motivations, and plenty of decent puppets. Cats aren’t such sell-outs, so the cats’ best moments are compliments of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop (they did the upsettingly realistic dalmatians in 101 Dalmatians). Overall, it’s like a high tech live action Roadrunner cartoon. The violence (that the pets enact against each other) is cartoonish and leaves no scars, unlike Babe 2, so kids who are old enough will not be freaked out by the idea of a cute little beagle getting karate-kicked in the head by a Siamese cat. Also, it looks fake enough (most of the time) that the slightly younger kids(if they aren’t kept in a closet) will know it’s not real.

Human performers Elizabeth Perkins and Jeff Goldblum know that they are mere set pieces for the real canine-feline drama, and they regrettably dial in their performances. Goldblum, with the most potential for comedy as the distracted wacky scientist, gets more laughs as a result of his ludicrous Science! costumes than for anything he contributes. Goldblum is quite funny when he wants to be and it made me want to weep to see him slip past this movie without leaving a mark. The adult potential of the film is used mostly for trying to resolve father-son problems, rather than slipping in jokes only adults would get.

The voice talent was culled from comedians, TV actors, and Oscar nominees/winners, and the blend is actually pretty good. Joe Pantoliano sort of reprises his Matrix role as a Chinese Crested who is the surveillance comm for the dog team. Alec Baldwin and Susan Sarandon are wiser, older dogs with a complex back story (barely touched), and they hint at greatness in their brief scenes. Michael Clarke Duncan is a hair-blind sheepdog, no doubt unconscious that his character is playing into human racial stereotypes that fell from Hollywood fashion around Poitier’s heyday. The more major the character, however, (Lou and Mr. Tinkles) the more unrecognizable the voice, which works for the film. Is it Tobey Maguire? I don’t even remember and I don’t care to look it up – the important thing is, Lou is a convincing, naive puppy with charm and spunk, and Sean Hayes’ Mr. Tinkles is evil, impatient, and gruff. Jon Lovitz is a very stupid pug-faced tabby, perfect face casting for the character.

The effects are cool, and the best jokes are the small ones, the little parodic winks at every spy movie ever made. Every gadget, every crazy death toy, every insane fight sequence, evokes memories of James Bond, the 60’s Avengers, even Police Squad. One kidnapping sequence (there are more than one) is straight out of a classic Warner Bros. cartoon, appropriately enough. It’s not derivative so much as an homage – and it is this that saves the film from being just another talking animal movie. Unfortunately, too much doesn’t make sense when it should and too much else is over-explained when it doesn’t need to be, and the cats are portrayed as clearly more incompetent than they should be. My cat would have whipped that army into shape.

We all walked out amused and satisfied, but it is definitely a summer popcorn movie and not the next Babe.

MPAA Rating PG
Release date 7/4/01
Time in minutes 93
Director Larry Guterman
Studio Warner Brothers