Lance and Berg saw a movie. That movie was Jupiter Ascending! Hear our review of it and our recommendations. We try not to spoil it initially so you can hear the bare bones review and leave before we really get into the movie. As this is the first HAR in a while we tend to tangent off the movie. Listen and Enjoy.
Another week and another new HAR! This week I decided to review a “new” release from another of my favorite bands, The Gaslight Anthem and their “B-Sides.” Without any more fluff and rambling lets get into it.
Collecting their b-sides from the Side One Dummy years this release comprises several acoustic tracks, covers, radio spots, live and digital exclusives. For completist (for which I am one) this will round out their early years from unknowns to knowns. Some of the tracks are different versions of their more notable songs.
Let me first state that I truly enjoy all of these songs except maybe one. I think what really comes through is the bands talent at writing songs and Brian Fallon’s ability to alter and tweek these songs in multiple ways giving new layers and depths to songs that are already pretty deep. Some of the acoustic tracks are just Brian and his guitar, others are truly different acoustic tracks with added instruments, changed tempos, altered lyrics and a different vocal delivery. Examples of this can be heard in track 7, “Great Expectations,” and track 10, “Boxer,” to name two.
As for the covers on this album the one that I like the most is “Tumbling Dice.” Now, it may just be due to my love of the Rolling Stones but I could listen to this song over and over again. I’ve heard many covers by The Gaslight Anthem up to this point. Their iTunes Session album consisted mostly of covers and there are numerous others to be found on YouTube, this band seems to have an uncanny ability to take songs and present them faithfully or recreate them as their own. I’ve always enjoyed covers and I think it is a great way to also get to know the band and those that influenced them.
The Bad and Ugly:
I’m joining the two categories here because I do not have too many negative criticisms to warrant seperating the two. For the bad I would choose the “State of Love and Trust Live” tack. It is not that I dislike the song and I understand the band loves Pearl Jam, for me, it is a personal preference that there isn’t much to distinguish it from their studio recording of it. The real benefit of having this album, as stated above, is the difference from the studio recordings that set it apart.
As for the “ugly,” I would lean towards the selection and their availability already. Most of these tracks can be found elsewhere and I would have enjoyed more. Last year I purchased the “singles collection” boxset of 45s. All of which are the same as the B-Sides LP. The packaging was better and had a nice asthetic that cost more but gave more, I feel. Is it more convienent to have them on one LP and not having to go through the process of switching out 7” after every song, yes, but the tedium is overshadowed by the presentation of each single and the collectors item that accompanied.
Addressing the song selection, though I enjoyed what was given I would of loved to have a double album comprising all that which is hard to come by. For example, the “Antonia Jane” and “Queens of Lower Chelsea” tracks came from the KEXP interview Brian did just prior to the release of “American Slang” LP, on that performance were other songs too that I would have enjoyed as well as the version placed here. Furthermore, versions of “She Loves You” BBC and the record store release of “Misery” EP would have rounded it out nicely.
The Wrap Up:
All in all I”m happy with the release. Gripes aside, it is a good rounding out for fans. Will this bring in new fans? That is something I’m not so sure of. Those already familiar with the band are fully aware of their talent and ability to change up songs for different presentations. If anything it further demonstrates the song writing and crafting of the band to make songs that are good in any setting.
Til next time and please remember that I don’t really know anything, I’m just half assing it.
Welcome back H.A.R., I know it has been a while since I reviewed anything on this page. Let me just say that there has been a lot going on with FUNNY and personally for me. But, I return with a review of Against Me’s new album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Without any further bs or recap on my part lets get into it.
The Album: Synopsis and History:
Originally slated as a concept album that follows the life of a trangendered prostitute that has now morphed into a personal confession, of sorts, of frontwoman Laura Jane Grace and her public transformation Against Me! has given fans their most intimate glimpse into an artist in some time. In order for this album to come out the band’s lineup has changed, moved from a major label to their own indy, Total Treble, and has taken four years to debut. (I could go more in depth here but feel that would detract from the album itself)
The Good: (I must preface this with saying that I was alread a huge Against Me! fan so I will admit to a little bias)
There is so much good in this album I don’t rightly know where to start. Running time. At 29 minutes there is no filler and they get right to the point making it crisp, concise and straight to the point. More often than not concept albums get to be grandiose and bloated. Sometimes they turn out great (Titus Andronicus’ “The Monitor,” or even Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.”), other times you get an album that has flashes of brilliance but loses the audience inbetween (The Clash, “Sandanista.”).
Lyrics. LJG pulls no punches and doesn’t let the album get p.c. or mired in commercial appeal. In the opening title track she sings about wanting to be seen like other girls but instead being viewed as just a faggot. Then follows questions of how does God see a trans person, the desire to fit in, denegrated as an enemy or lifted up, loss of friends, a sincere ballad to her daughter, and striking back at the world. I’ll admit that this is a base over simplification of the lyrics of the album but I could spend too much time analyzing each song and I feel that is something you should explore yourself.
Production. I’ve read too many commentors on other sites bemoan the production of this album saying it was under produced. First, Fuck You. Second, what do you want? It was these same commentors that hated “New Wave,” and “White Crosses” because they were over produced. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of either album though with plenty of time I can enjoy them as they are. (side note: if you mix those albums in with an all songs playlist that jumbles them alphabetically they mix in well) With this album Against Me! returns to the diy roots and does it all in-house. I had no trouble hearing the lyrics, feeling the hit of the instruments or following along. Plus, with them doin it themselves I got a sense of nostalgia and felt a throwback to early AM! albums.
Black Me Out. The closing track that any fan has heard already doesn’t disappoint. If, in the last four years, you’ve seen them play live or sought out new songs on YouTube you may have already come across it. Hearing it produced and from a studio doesn’t take anything away fom the song, in fact, I think it solidifies it as one of their staple songs that any fan will continue to sing along to at shows. (It is my favortie on the album)
The Bad and The Ugly:
I honestly don’t have anything to put in these categories about the album itself. Here I’d like to address Entertainment Weekly’s twitter style review of the album (because, lets face it, it’s not shit by Beyonce or Lorde nor holds the commercial appeal of Top 40). They said the album could benefit from some catchy hooks that would be radio friendly. I think they missed the point of the album entirely and will be on the wrong side of history on this one. If the album had those pop-style catchy hooks the album could have suffered from a watering down effect. As it is, the album is gritty while remaining crisp and direct.
It is my hope that this band and album help expose the flaws in the scene that I love and helps correct the stain that goes counter to what punk itself stands for. For too long we’ve allowed racism, sexism, homophobia run rampant through our genre. Like Leftover Crack once stated, we speak of unity but then divide ourselves along those lines. There are so many talented artist in our scene that don’t get a fair shake because of fear and hate. Maybe exposing that flaw and speaking openly about it will help start the discussion that leads to change.
So, Against Me! “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” gets five stars, or two thumbs up….whatever. Listen to the album and make your own decision because in the end...I’m only half assing it.
1/2 Year In Review
How about something different? Berg here, bringing you the story so far in music, my half year review of the best (my favorite) albums of 2013. Or maybe just a list with a little explanation. First, let me state that I am not a musician but an extremely rabid fan and constant consumer of albums. Second, I know what I like and why I like it. My main purpose behind this is to maybe expose you to something new. Our monthly playlist gives you samples of songs we are digging, this list will give you complete albums.
1. “The Future Is Cancelled,” Captain, We’re Sinking.
Not only is this album at the top of this list but this release has edged its way into my top ten albums of all time. Starting off frantic and edgy with “Adultery,” it then transforms itself into larger narrative with “Brother” through “Shoddy Workmanship.” Reoccuring themes of abuse, addiction, abandonment, love and loss, desperation and hope. Using melodic/hardcore punk with lo-fi and sincerity this album is a delight to the ears. Well, at least, mine. My favorite is the three song set of “You Have Flaws,” “Lake,” and “Here’s to Forever.”
2. “The Bronx IV,” The Bronx.
With their fourth self titled release LA’s The Bronx have continued their path of total rock sonic destruction along a heavy riff trail and powerful vocals. They have steadily progressed from stooges influence to a more straight up rock sound. Every album they’ve released has upped the ante to get more in your face. On a side note I saw them open for Bad Religion in April and it was a phenomenal set. They are also playing this years musicfestnw. Take my advice, go see them. My favorites of the album are “The Unholy Land,” “Style Over Everything,” and the slower “Life Less Ordinary.”
3. “Ordinary Silence,” Mixtapes.
Another year and another release from Mixtapes. That may sound like a detraction but it is not. Let me just say that their release last year, “Even On The Worst Nights,” was an exceptionally good album and I was leary of another release so soon. But it was unfounded, “Ordinary Silence” is very mature and a quality album. They still have songs that are very funny but they mix in songs that are personal and poignant. My favorites of the album are “Everything’s Eventual,” “A List of Things I Can’t Handle,” and “Be the Speak That You Change About.”
(Mixtapes will be playing Backspace Saturday July 13th)
4. “Leavetaking,” Elway.
The Colorado boys release a all around solid album. Full of literary references and catchy hooks this sophmore release from Red Scare Record delivers where others sometimes falter. With 12 songs and a running time of just about 34 minutes they rarely go over 3 minutes per song, which means straight to the point rock and roll. My favorites are “The Salton Sea,” “Prophetstown,” and “There Is A Line.”
(Elway will be playing at Backspace with Masked Intruder, Sam Russo and Sundowner for the Red Scare Across America Tour on August 2nd)
5. “Banquets,” Banquets.
What can I say? Another band from Jersey delivers. A little more refined, a better recording mix than previous releases. Still, they have the chops to eventually play bigger and bigger crowds. Great vocals with lyrical content, slow at parts and fast where it needs to be. If you don’t go and at least sample this album then you’ve done yourself a disservice. Check out “Call It A Comeback!”
6. “Signed And Sealed In Blood,” Dropkick Murphys.
There is no reinventing the wheel for this band or this release. They know what they do and they do it well. Having cultivated a massive following by smart marketing and merchandising they have become a household name. However, they still have not lost sight on what has brought them here. Sing-a-longs and songs of unity dominate. The best songs on the album are the ones that deal with family. Plus, they do a Christmas song! My favorites on the album are “Burn,” “Don’t Tear Us Apart,” and “My Hero.”
I know there was only six and I logically should have stopped at five but who the fuck cares? I mean, come on, I’m only half assing it anyways.
Hobbs has Dom and Brian reassemble their crew in order to take down a mastermind who commands an organization of mercenary drivers across 12 countries. Payment? Full pardons for them all.
Director: Justin Lin
Writers: Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson (characters)
Stars: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson | See full cast and crew
Fast and Furious 6
The team returns, this time on the “good” guys side, to do vehicular battle with a group of motorized “terrorists.” With the added incentive of a believed to be dead member hanging in the balance. The high octane franchise keeps revving its engine for a sixth installment. Now, the nitrus fueled review...
Bringing it all together! The sixth installment attempts and succeeds at pulling together loose plot threads to bring all the films in the franchise together. Furious 6, the unofficial title as the previous was Fast 5, is actually the fifth film leading into Tokyo Drift (the third film). That is right, we got some star wars backward action going on. That shouldn’t come off as a criticism. Director Lin does a magnificent job of giving resolution to fans questions as to how it all fits together. Speaking of Lin, he does a wonderful job at keeping fans interested while giving high speed action (albeit not plausible) with “heart.” It appears that the good guys are super heroes of sorts but without the special powers, unless you count souping up cars and doing physics defying extra vehicular feats as super human powers. I’d be inclined to think so. Lin infuses the “heart” being the repeated belief of the principles that family is everything and you should do whatever it takes for family.
The Cast. I was recently asked what the draw of this franchise was to so many people. I ventured my hypothesis as its racial diverse cast that does not necessarily lend itself to stereotypes. Yes, there are some acknowledged ones but they are also lampooned to great comic effect. Moreover, the actors seem to own these particular roles just as seriously as any I’ve seen. The comfortable familiarity within the actors chemistry is contagious. The women are tough and smart and do not fall into the frail and girl in distress cliche that some summer popcorn blockbusters fall into. Overall I think this is one of the major draws of these flicks.
Set Up! One of the best parts of Furious 6 to me is the set up and acknowledged seventh installment, probably coming in 2015. I can not go into detail here for that would spoil too much. However, I was getting up to stretch and use the lavatory during the initial run of the “first” credits when Big Cat (Lance) motions me to return to my seat and I was rewarded with the payoff which also is the link to Tokyo Drift. Take my advice and stay the extra five minutes to see it, which is better than ten plus minutes for any Marvel movie.
Contradiction. Some of this appears in the good as well as in this section. Gone is the “realism” of the very first Fast and Furious for the physics defying stunts worthy of any bond flick or cape movie. I’m not asking for accuracy, but, come on, two people sailing through the air in different directions collide and ones trajectory is not altered but takes over the others without altering it one bit. Furthermore, said individual lands on a car windshield and is safely cushioned by it. No blood or broken bones!
Another gripe is how long is that final runway? Answer, long enough!
Finally, I’d like to go back and count how many times “family” is said in this film. Just for shits and giggles.
The white British high end car salesman. I won’t say anymore, you’ll see it yourself. Also, I won’t see my favorite member of this cadre anymore. Again, you’ll see.
The Wrap Up:
This was an extremely fun movie. Go see it! I’d even venture to give it a solid five out of five for being exactly what I expected it to be. A high octane popcorn-action flick. Never taking itself too seriously in the right parts and the right amount of “heart” in the other. Turn off your brain and suspend your disbelief. Movies are about escapism at its basic core. This was that and more. Even that which I found bad I still put in the good section. That should say something. (For a brief talk about this movie you can listen to episode 14 of FUNNY where Lance and I talk a little about it)
So, that’s my take. But, honestly, what do I know...I’m only half assing it!
After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, 2 more credits »
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana | See full cast and crew
Star Trek Into Darkness
How do you write a spoiler free review of a tightly wrapped movie without giving away anything to those who haven’t seen it yet? The answer is very carefully. So, here is my (Berg) review of Star Trek Into Darkness.
When last we saw the crew of the Enterprise Kirk was made Captain and Spock had lost his home world of Vulcan. It was the new beginning of their friendship and the start to a new universe in Star Trek lore. As Into Darkness opens we are on the planet Nibiru and the crew is intervening in the possible destruction of the native population. Their goal is to save the planet without revealing themselves and violating the prime directive. Needless to say their mission didn’t go as planned. Meanwhile a rogue starfleet officer is setting up an act of terrorism in London. The stage is set for one of the most anticipated sequels of the summer...
Visual Candy! Star Trek was very visually appealing and tight. I normally do not go in for 3-D because, generally speaking, it is a waste of money and unnecessary. However, this time I splurged and felt rewarded for that. Maybe it’s that Sci-Fi lends itself to better effects because with scenes in space the majority is digitally rendered. Moreover, scenes in the interior of the Enterprise, especially in the brig, seem to add extra depth. A layer, if you will, that gives a different perspective. My favorite use was when the Enterprise made the jump to warp. The look of the ship stretching itself was used in the first Abrams adaptation but this time they added “warp lines” or a lingering dust that was just plain cool.
Tension-Tension-Tension and role reversals! The acting, for the most part, was very good and believable. Everyone seemed to buy into their roles and relish their opportunity to distinguish themselves. Especially within the tension of on-going conflict, whether it was Kirk and Spock, Kirk and Scotty, Spock and Uhura, Enterprise and Starfleet, you name it there was a draw to it that speaks of authenticity. Not everyone is always going to get along and agree but the real treat is to see the inner conflict resolution in order to get the job done. As for role reversal, I can’t delve too far in without revealing too much. So let’s just say the way in which characters flipped within the story made sense.
Tiny treats, Bit roles, and cameos. Here was little things that made me smirk. On Admiral Marcus’ desk was little models of past ships of relevance. On it was two ships in particular that was delightful. One was Zephrym Cochran’s nuclear powered warp ship as seen in Star Trek First Contact and the other was the NX-1 Enterprise from the last Star Trek t.v. show starring Scott Bakula. Showing that up until the previous movie forever altering the time line thus creating a parallel universe was some symmetry in Star Trek lore. Speaking of Admiral Marcus, was that Peter Weller? Hell yes! Robocop himself is in the freaking movie. That was geek gold. Who the hell is that creepy looking dude with the weird voice on the Enterprise bridge? It’s an Observer from Fringe!! I know I shouldn’t have loved it that much but I did.
One last thing. The atmospheric bird of preys. That is right, Klingons and the beloved ships, sort of. When the crew gets to Cronus we get early versions of Birds of Prey and they rocked. Serving as atmospheric attack ships and troop deployers.
With the story that was chosen it felt like a piece of originality was forsaken in order to revive old hat. Granted, the filmmakers chose to be somewhat original in reviving a past story arc, it still felt like they missed a golden opportunity to do something different. Don’t ask me what that would be because this is not the place for it, besides it would again be revealing too much.
Too much cliches and pandering to die hard trekkies. As a fan of the series I think Mills stated it best when he said that they took every opportunity they could to wave something in your face that only “true” fans would know. Some might see this as rewarding loyalist in a way the first film did not. However, it was unnecessary and a little too obvious. For an example, see the trible.
As a guy let me state this first, Alice Eve, you are smoking hot. The scene involving her in her underwear was completely unnecessary. We know Jim Kirk is a dog, the early scene with him and two alien twins in bed tells us that. But the blatant pan to Alice’s character changing in the shuttle craft serves no purpose. We know she’s hot! I got a lot of flack from the guys when I tried making this point but I stand buy it. Furthermore, there were several sequences that were unnecessary. The whole opening part on the planet Nibiru could have been cut and saved some of the budget for other things. They referred to it so much in the first act that you would have known what happened without needing to see it. As a counter point Mills made a great assessment. The passing fan or uninformed would not necessarily know what the prime directive is and that sequence was a demonstration of it and the consequences. With that point I’m on the fence.
This might seem weird considering my previous review or a strange obsession but what was with Simon Pegg’s hair. It was a terrible dye job and I do not remember from the original series Scotty’s hair being that red. To me it was a black going gray. I have no clue as to why it struck me in that fashion or why it continues to stick with me but it does.
Lastly, Anton Yelchin is too good of an actor to not use him. I know Checkov is a principle character on the fringe but it came off that they really that they really didn’t know what to do with him script wise so they threw him in the background.
The Wrap Up:
Though I had some problems with this movie I did really enjoy it. I went twice on opening weekend and have labored with this review. I think what did me in was too many expectations. I repeatedly told myself that they were not going to go the direction they ended going. That being said I did have fun and reverted to a wide eyed geek on a visual adventure. My favorite scene was early in the movie with Kirk and Pike. I take that back, any scene with Kirk and Pike was awesome. It might have been the chemistry between the actors, the writing, or just the father-son relationship that spoke to me.
Where do we go from here? That seems to be the 64,000 dollar question. With Abrams out the door to do Episode VII the directors chair is vacant for some new blood. Although, I think I would advocate for a proven hand to helm the next one. I’d still like to see Abrams produce through Bad Robot and Orci and Kurtzman write but lets give the captains chair to Nicholas Meyer or Ron D. Moore. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Well...that’s my take. But what do I know...I’m only half assing it. Add procrastinating as well to this one.
StorylineMarvel's "Iron Man 3" pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy's hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man? Written by Jawadjee
H. A. R.
Berg here! Welcome to my innagural review to the newly renamed reviews page of the FUNNY website. We tried ManDate and Shitty Movie Friday but they didn’t necessarily work. I hope in the future weeks and months to have plenty of reviews here ranging from movies and music to concerts and books. Hopefully with reviews coming from the rest of the crew as well as some guest reviewers. Enjoy!
Iron Man 3
In the Avengers there is a scene upon the SHIELD hover-carrier where Captain America (Chris Evans) asks Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) if you take away the armor than what are you? To which Tony replies, “billionaire, playboy, genius, philanthropists.” Iron Man 3 attempts to answer this question. [get exact quote here]
In Iron Man 3, the first follow up to the Avengers, we get a different Tony Stark. A man profoundly affected by the events in New York and coming to terms with the “new” world in which he lives. Gods and super-humans seem to go against all that Tony believes in, but he must adapt and move on to stay relevant and useful. So, the movie....
This is not your typical Marvel movie. I would say that this is less an action movie and more of a psychological thriller. In fact, I would say that for about ⅔ of the movie it’s more Tony Stark than Iron Man. He appears in the suit only briefly. Focusing more on that question asked by Captain America. Who is Tony really? As he calls himself in this movie, “the mechanic.” The guy who is good at fixing things. That includes eventually fixing himself and his fractured sense of reality.
The acting! Everyone appeared to be on the top of their game. Stellar performances from Guy Pierce and Gwenyth Paltrow, Ben Kingsly and James Badge Dale as well as the expected snarky and quick witted performance from Robert Downey Jr. keep this movie flowing all the way through. It appeared that all the actors were relishing their roles. Sometimes in the past with comic book movies actors seemed to take their characters over the top and give campy performances. It seems the legacy of Nolan’s Dark Knight series that even if you’re in a fantastical reality you can still have a sense of realism. I think my favorite performance in the movie was given by Don Cheadle. It appeared that he had grown in the Col. Rhodes character and played off of Downey better than in Iron Man 2 where I felt he was too cardboard. Some might say he was the straight man to Downey’s more colorful add lib persona and it worked.
Shane Black. How hard was his task of following up the Avengers, completing the Iron Man trilogy (which is debatable), taking over from Jon Favreau, and avoiding the third act (movie) pitfalls. (See all horrible third entries: X-Men, Spider Man, Superman). Director and co/writer Shane Black, hand picked by Downey, took Iron Man and put his own spin on it. From the opening it was evident that this was his movie. Starting with a black screen and a monologue, set during Christmas, and the focus being character driven as opposed to situational. Black seemed purpose driven to give a different kind of comic movie that didn’t end with everything being status quo and “hunky dory.” Black also gave several unexpected plot twists. It was refreshing to not see the hook coming for a change.
The liberties taken that diverge from the comic. It is hard to write this section while avoiding spoilers. Let’s just say that by the end of the movie many story threads from the comic are discarded or altered. Though this is normal in the Marvel cinematic universe it appears that they took it to extremes with this movie. The need to wrap up Iron Man, Downey has contractually fulfilled all his obligations to Tony Stark/Iron Man, meant that they took story leaps that will forever change the character from what he is in Marvel’s comic universe. As well as overarching bad guy threads. However, for me, this didn’t take away from the movie as much as through the future into question.
Where the hell was AC/DC? For three movies, Iron Man 1 and 2 and the Avengers, AC/DC was the soundtrack to Tony/Iron Man. Nowhere in this movie did any of the bands songs get played. Granted, it being set during Christmas meant Christmas music but come on! Even I, not being the biggest fan of AC/DC, felt there should be at least one sonic appearance.
Happy’s mullet. In the opening flashback to Bern, Switzerland Jon Favreau’s hair was atrocious. The comedic effect was evident and Stark did make fun of it but wow.
The Wrap Up:
I really did enjoy this movie. I’ve seen it twice already and will probably see it one more time. My favorite scene involved Tony and a young boy in the Tennessee sequence where a joke was thrown at the young man involving his father leaving. I will not spoil it here and you’ll have to see it for yourself to get it.
Lance commented to me that this was less Iron Man 3 and more of Tony Stark 1. I tend to agree but also wonder aloud if we’ll ever get another Iron Man solo movie? Will Downey return to the character? He has said that he is getting rather old to keep up with the younger actors that are the principles in the other Marvel franchises. With the amount of money this movie has made and the faith placed in Joss Whedon for Avengers 2, I can see Kevin Fiege throwing gobs of money at Downey for him to make at least one more journey as Tony Stark.
As this is the first movie into Phase II, I’m left with the feeling that this is the beginning of several films that will throw all characters into disarray and ultimately ending with some resolutions in Avengers 2. I’ve long since had the notion that Marvel’s phases are in fact apart of a greater scheme that this is really one giant movie with the phases actually being the acts. As with all plays that are divided into three acts the middle is usually where the protagonist(s) are in chaos and doubt. I believe that before we, as an audience and fans, get to the Avengers sequel all the universe will be in question. Like at the end of the Empire Strikes Back with the revelations and our heroes in jeopordy we can only guess as to what is coming next. (For a good take on what’s to come check out Entertainment Weekly’s piece in the May 10th, 2013 issue #1258).
So that is my take. But, hey, what do I know....I’m only half assing it!
Friday night Berg and Lance we and checked out the new movie Dead Man Down. For a starting point, there is the cut and paste description of the flix from imdb.
In New York City, a crime lord's right-hand man is seduced by one of his boss's victims, a woman seeking retribution.
It stars Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper, and Terrence Howard. It was written by J.H. Wyman and directed by Niels Arden Oplev.
Now after Lance and Berg sat in the theater, with the one seat spacer between the two of them, they emailed back and forth reviewing the movie. This is a trial run on this format, so please comment below and provide feedback.
LANCE: Before we get into anything that can be viewed as any Spoilers, What was your overall view of the Movie? For me it was a mixed bag, the movie never found its voice. The tone and the feel jumped all over the place. I think the screen writers vision, and the directors vision were never in line. Even with that weakness, as a whole, the movie was entertaining. There were some great performances. What did you think?
BERG: For me the movie had a lot of potential. Some of which it lived up to and in other areas it fell far short. It was basically two movies, one a stylized noir piece and the other an attempt at Hollywood action flick. Within those two styles is a certain pace which this movie couldn't decide on. That being said I found several performances that I enjoyed along with some textures that stuck with me after the movie was over. What performances did you think were great?
By far the best overall performance was by Noomi Rapace. She portrayed the damaged soul that was Beatrice. She had multiple “moments” where she fully became her character. She had every aspect of the character displayed on the silver screen perfectly. This was absolutely on display in the car on the way to the second date. The subtle gestures and minor expressions she gives, give you more insight into Beatrice what she is thinking or feeling than any voice over ever would. Also F. Murray Abraham, who played Colin Farrell’s mentor Gregor. He ate the screen up, I couldn’t get enough of his screen time. What actors/actresses did the most for you in this film?
I will echo your sentiment that Noomi Rapace was fantastic, however, the actor I couldn't help but be drawn to was Dominic Cooper as Darcy. From his opening speech to the subtle humor he displayed, as when he jokingly refers to himself as Columbo, he completely embraced the nuances of his character. His characters motivation was clear and believable, and I found myself conflicted when I was rooting against him. Credit of his performance also goes to the writing in that his character was one of a few that actually was fleshed out. Lance, what performances were poor or altogether not needed?
Terrence Howard. Outside of one scene, his performance was flat, tired, and boring. He mailed it in. I will admit he isn’t my favorite actor, and I feel he is over rated as a whole. Maybe that factored into me view. To his credit, the scene of him sitting down in the construction site, portions in the preview, he was great. All of the gang members, and the Albanian Gang were not flushed out at all. They were just the typical goons you can see in every movie. Who performance disappointed you?
I don't want to get on the Terrence Howard hate train but, yes, his performance seemed to lack luster for a man whose had several good performances in the past (see Hustle and Flow). However, I think I'd rather talk about Armand Assante. Don't get me wrong his delivery was superb. But his character's appearance was so short and underutilized that I feel they could have done without it. It was just a means to set up a sniper sequence. Maybe there were more scenes that were cut out, I don't know. Ultimately, for me, it was a distraction. Was there anything else that you really enjoyed and/or disliked?
Some that you brought up as we were leaving the theater, and you were 100% correct. The cinematography work and shot selection in this film was breathtaking. That and the feeling this was a waste of potential. There were so many things about this film that were going in the right direction. What about you, any other elements you want to talk about?
The last thing that comes to mind is a song. Now, I don't know what the song is called, nor who sings it, whether it's old or new, and I couldn't find any information on it. But there is a song that appears twice in the movie. Once when Beatrice comes home from a disappointing date with Victor and she wants to be alone and consoled, and the other was during the epilogue and credits. The texture that this French singer conveys was breathtaking. The sound transfer of the needle hitting the wax of the vinyl was visceral. I found myself smiling as I walked out of the theater. Overall, how would you rate this movie, and would you suggest it to others?
Yeah I would suggest people give this film a chance. It is probably a DVD pick more so than a must see in theater. The last action scene is the only aspect that really needs to be seen on the big screen. Overall I would give it a solid 3 on a 5 point scale. How about you Berg, what is your final take and rating on Dead Man Down?
I think people should give this movie a chance also. Elements really work on the big screen so if there's an inexpensive theater nearby go check it out, otherwise wait for DVD. I give it a decent 3.5 out of 5.
Til the next ManDate, and remember... leave space between ya!