Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Movie Talkback - Peace on Earth (1939)

The Holiday Season is almost over, but after coming back from Houston and still in the festive mood, I thought I'd share one of my favorite MGM animated one-reel shorts from 1939, Peace on Earth. Directed by Hugh Harmon, the short is about a post apocalyptic world where animals have replaced man. It's animated beautifully, the story is timeless and timely, and frankly I love these old cartoons.

So sit back and enjoy a story where two young squirrels ask their grandfather: who are these "men" from the lyric 'Peace on Earth, goodwill to men'...


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Movie Talkback - Cinema 2009

So last year, a man by the name of Kees van Dijkhuizen uploaded a video on youtube that celebrated the year of movies in 2008, showing clips from movies played over a fantastic soundtrack. Well Mr. Kees van Dijkhuizen is back and frankly has outdid himself with his new video, a celebration of Cinema 2009.

What I like so much about the video and the job that Kees van Dijkhuizen has done is that it has clips from every kind of movie (good or bad, indie or blockbuster), and like a movie or not, the video really expresses the joy it is to be a moviegoer, the joy of watching a film and finding anew something you love, something with the power to transfix you.

So to Mr. Kees van Dijkhuizen, we here at the Cinema Cafe Podcast salute you and thank you for your efforts. You are a man among men, a movie lover among movie lovers and it was a pleasure to see your work.

Sit back and enjoy the video, a celebration of Cinema 2009...


...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Movie Review - The Box (2009)

This 2009 sci-fi horror film is written and directed by Richard Kelly (of Donnie Darko and Southland Tales fame) and is based on the 1970 short story Button, Button by Richard Matheson (he of I Am Legend fame). The Box stars Cameron Diaz and James Marsden as a married couple who are presented with a box and with a button by a stranger who offers them 1 million dollars if they press said button. The only drawback is that if they press the button someone they do not know will die. Is the price of a complete strangers life worth a million dollars, and once the button is pressed, is there a way back from the knowledge that you were the cause of someone’s death?

The question in all of the incarnations of Button, Button is, “what is it to know somebody?”, a universal question akin to what’s the meaning of life and why is South Park so funny. And this movie plays with that concept further, by tying it’s structure around the writing of French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, the thought that since there is no god, no creator, in Satre’s words, “we are left alone without excuse.” Basically since one cannot explain their own actions and behavior by referencing any specific human nature, they are necessarily fully responsible for those actions. Which is basically why I’ve always enjoyed all of Richard Kelly’s films, even his heavily flawed sophomoric effort Southland Tales- all his movies deal with some form of existentialistic thought.

Anyway, the original 1970 short story was first published in Playboy (see, people can really read Playboy for the stories) and was originally adapted for the 1985 reboot of the Twilight Zone television series. The Box even has a Twilight Zone type soundtrack, the sweeping horns, the striking violins, all to leave the viewer with a sense of paranoia and dread. I was wondering how they could drag out what has always been a short story and a 30 minute television show to a near 2 hour film. I needn’t have worried, because I absolutely loved this film, and it’s easily one of my favorite films of the year.

For a director with only 3 films under his belt, Kelly has an amazing eye. The tracking shots, the camera angles, watching this film, you can really tell that the man directing the film really lives and knows a lot about films. Every shot just seems to fall into place. The Box is a slow burn though, a very slow burn, with nearly 2 hours of set-up until the payoff, but anyone familiar with Kelly’s work already knows to expect that. But it’s because of it’s slow burn that makes The Box so compelling, so mesmerizing.

For me the weak point of the movie was Cameron Diaz. She really can’t act, and the choice to give her a soft spoken southern accent, akin to Anna Paquin’s X-Men, Rogue and Sookie Stackhouse from True Blood, is a really odd choice since it adds nothing to the story and makes her character seem at odds with the world around her. And hey, Cameron using an accent ain’t helping her acting. James Marsden is a passable Cyclops and Frank Langella (who many may know as Skeletor from the He-Man move) is absolutely fantastic as always as the man behind the box and movie, Arlington Steward.

For anyone that has seen the Twilight Zone adaptation, this film acts as almost an extension of that television episode. The first 30 minutes of the film are the Twilight Zone episode, and the film continues after the episode for those wondering about the consequences, the what happened after the episode ended to the characters. The remake ending was always inferior to the original story ending, but it was the only ending that Richard Kelly could follow that would have a necessary sequel. So basically the movie tries to add to the tv ending with more of a surreal Donnie Darko sci-fi bent that comes out of nowhere, and being a fan of the Button, Button and Donne Darko, I really really liked what Richard Kelly was going for here. Sadly this film has been out for over a month now and has only grossed 14 million domestically on its 30 million dollar budget.

So yeah, all in all, a definite, “bring your lunch from home because you do not want to miss this one” rating. A sadly overlooked gem of 2009, one that I hope will find a larger audience once it hits dvd.



Thursday, December 24, 2009

Episode 53: The Princess and the Frog and Avatar

Hello there and welcome to the 53rd episode of the Cinema Cafe Podcast, the bi-weekly, twice monthly film podcast by the fans, for the fans. Join us each week as we review new movies releases, look at some dvd's, talk some film news and share our general love for all things cinema. The main goal is to have some fun and hopefully provide the listener with some helpful insight. We are back and the podcasting world is alight once again.

This week we have a treat: it's our 53rd episode, which means we've been bringing you "weekly" content for over a year now. This week we take a look at 3 movies that have been recently released or are on dvd. With that said here's a look at what we discuss on this weeks podcast:

* Avatar
* The Princess and the Frog
* September Issue
* Top 5 List: Worst Movies of 2009
* Upcoming movie releases for the weekend of 12.25.09

Also, film news and more, only on the Cinema Cafe Podcast. We hope you enjoy and happy movie watching.

Thanks as always to all our loyal listeners for sharing the ride with us as we've reached this milestone for the show. It's all due to your support that we have kept things going and we hope you continue to share the ride with us in the coming months.

We're now on Itunes so head there and subscribe to the Cinema Cafe Podcast. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What I Think Of: The Princess and the Frog (2009)

In this week's podcast, we will review September Issue, The Princess, and the Frog, and Avatar.
For this particular post, we'll focus on this 2009 Disney movie, the first 2D movie since Home on the Range.
It was great watching a Disney princess film just because I haven't seen one since Mulan, which was ages ago. The overall story is a classic one--a girl in distress, and she needs to find her way out of the situation she's in and falls in love with a prince, while still looking beautiful. But what I like about this movie is that it took a classic story, and made it it's own. I know that sounds a bit cliche but here's a few examples of what it's still unique.
1. The princess, the lead character, is black, and she's not an African princess but an American girl who grew up in New Orleans, which brings me to my next reason.
2. The location is New Orleans, LA and the time period is early 20th Century. This is not a far away land, or some distant time, long long ago. Granted it's not contemporary, but the place and time is still identifiable to us (or at least our grandparents perhaps?).
3. Changing the story for an updated audience. It seems like these days, kids have "higher" thresholds for content that may be perceived as more mature. In the movie, the villian was definitely darker than most villians of Disney past, and also *SPOILER ALERT* the movie does touch on death, where a lot of times it seems to be glossed over. *SPOILER END* The story itself on how it evolves also isn't very "typical."
The one thing that was slightly a disappointment was the music, there were only 2 pieces that I thought were enjoyable and the others fell flat. But I still enjoyed the movie so I'd give it a "Bring Your Lunch From Home" because you do not want to miss it.
Hope you enjoy the review / the movie.

-Penny



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Trailer Talk - Karate Kid remake


So Sony has finally released the first trailer for their upcoming Karate Kid remake starring Jaden Smith as Ralph Macchio and Jackie Chan as Mr. Han, the Mr. Miyagi mentor type that can't speak English. Seriously though, I'm a big fan of the original, but it's frankly awful and should have stayed in the 80's. Yes, Jaden Smith is still the bane of all the acting gods, like he's slapping the face of all the people who see acting as a serious craft. And yes, since this takes place in Beijing, China they are techincally practising kung-fu instead of karate, but who the hell cares!!! None of that detracts from how this remake is still a bad idea, although I must admit, it does look very sleek and... fun??

The one thing I don't understand, in the original film, Ralph Macchio beat up a bunch of white kids in Cali who learned their craft from a martial arts studio in a strip mall, so yeah, maybe he could have beaten them after learning karate during one long summer. However, Jaden Smith is going to China and beating up kids who have learned martial arts in Shaolin temples since they were young. Seriously?!! Check out the trailer below and thanks for Firstshowing for it. Again it looks like it could be decent so fingers crossed. The picture above from the final tournament fight already looks better and I love the fly and chopsticks homage/spoof.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Movie Talkback - Alma (animated short film)

I wanted to mention a 5 minute animated short film I came across called Alma, about a little girl who comes across a small shop with a doll displayed in the shops window, that looks surprisingly very much like her. And you know what people say curiosity did to the cat right? Ran right over her. I don't have much inform concerning the short, but here's some information about the short's director directly from the films site, http://almashortfilm.com.

Alma is Rodrigo Blaas’ first short film as a director. Originally from Spain, Rodrigo Blaas has worked in animation for more than ten years, in Spain and in the United States.

Seizing the possibility of directing his first independent short film, Rodrigo Blaas asked some of the best artists in their field to take part in this independent project: French animator Bolhem Bouchiba, character designer Carlos Grangel and Sergio Pablos, ArtDirector Alfonso Blaas, music composer Mastretta and sound designer Tom Myers.


It's a bit freaky, weird and cute, all things that make Alma a winner for me. It's been making the festival circuit and winning awards and for a short time (I don't know how long) you can view the short for free. I've added the video below so check it before it's gone. It's definitely worth your time. Here's a big congrats to Alma's director Rodrigo Blass and here's hoping we see more from him soon.


Alma from Rodrigo Blaas on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Movie Talkback - Panic Attack (Ataque De Panico!)

I want to take the time to mention a fantastic, almost fairy-tale like story. Basically, an unknown producer from Uruguay, Fede Alvarez, shelled out about $300 to create a cool video of a robot invasion in Montevideo, the capitol of Uruguay. The four-minute short, "Ataque de Panico!" (Panic Attack) features huge (slow moving) weapon-wielding robots that blow stuff up. Panic Attack looks amazing, and when you take into account that the film cost 300 bucks, wow, it looks like it cost 100 times that much. But the story doesn’t end there.

Fede Alvarez told the BBC, "I uploaded 'Ataque de Panico!' on a Thursday and on Monday my inbox was totally full of emails from Hollywood studios." Long story short, a bidding war ensued. The offer he pocketed: A $30 million deal with Sam "Spidey" Raimi's Ghost House Pictures to direct a sci-fi thriller set in Uruguay and Argentina. So yeah, from 300 bucks to 30 million, sounds about right to me.
So congrats to Alvarez and it’s always nice to hear a good Hollywood story rather than stories of the rich getting richer and making bad movies.

So check our Panic Attack on below and let me know what you think. It has a very Neil Blomkamp vibe to it, so I'm very excited to see Alvarez’s upcoming movie.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

What I think of: The September Issue (2009)



In this 2009 documentary by R.J. Cutler, we follow the bitch in charge editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine, Anna Wintour. But it's not just about Wintour, her bob hair cut, her large Chanel sunglasses, and her cold expressions, we also get to know a little bit about the "other" people that make Vogue, well Vogue. There is a sympathetic look at Grace Coddington, the creative director at Vogue who was once a model (though you may not have known it by first glance) and the struggles and battles she has in this passive aggressive manner with Wintour. You feel bad for Coddington because as the audience you are supposed to love to hate Wintour and you do.

As a documentary however, this story doesn't keep you interested very long, unless you are into fashion and running a magazine. I enjoyed it because of the subject matter but I can see why others may find it boring. There was a story but it wasn't told well and it didn't keep you hanging to wanting to know more. As discussed with Joshua, a good documentary, no matter the subject matter should keep you interested all the way through.

I give this a DVD rental for those who are interested in fashion.

-Penny


Monday, December 7, 2009

Episode 52: Ninja Assassin and New Moon

Hello there and welcome to the 52nd episode of the Cinema Cafe Podcast, the weekly film podcast by the fans, for the fans. Join us each week as we review new movies releases, look at some dvd's, talk some film news and share our general love for all things cinema. The main goal is to have some fun and hopefully provide the listener with some helpful insight. We are back and the podcasting world is alight once again. This week we have a treat: it's our 52nd episode, which means we've been bringing you "weekly" content for over a year now. So to celebrate this auspicious day, this week we take a look at 6 movies that have been recently released or are on dvd. With that said here's a look at what we discuss on this weeks podcast:

* Ninja Assassin
* Twilight: New Moon
* Whiteout
* Black Dynamite
* DVD Reviews of the 2009 rom-com starring Justin Long, Taking Chances, and of the classic 1971 Clint Eastwood cop thriller, Dirty Harry.
* Upcoming movie releases for the weekend of 12.11.09

Also, film news and more, only on the Cinema Cafe Podcast. We hope you enjoy and happy movie watching.

Thanks as always to all our loyal listeners for sharing the ride with us as we've reached this milestone for the show. It's all due to your support that we have kept things going and we hope you continue to share the ride with us in the coming months.

We're now on Itunes so head there and subscribe to the Cinema Cafe Podcast. Thanks!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Episode 51: Precious

Hello there and welcome to the 51st episode of the Cinema Cafe Podcast: the new weekly film podcast by the fans, for the fans. Join us each week as we review new movies releases, look at some dvd's, talk some film news and share our general love for all things cinema. The main goal is to have some fun and hopefully provide the listener with some helpful insight. We are back and the podcasting world is alight once again. This week we have a treat: a look at 1 movie that has been recently released, as well as a quick look at a few other films. With that said here's a look at what we discuss on this weeks podcast:

* Precious
* Quick looks at the 2008 HP Lovecraft documentary, Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown and of the 2009 sci-fi comicbook adaptation, Surrogates
* Upcoming movie releases for the weekend of 11.27.09

Also, film news and more, only on the Cinema Cafe Podcast. We hope you enjoy and happy movie watching.

We're now on Itunes so head there and subscribe to the Cinema Cafe Podcast. Thanks!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Episode 49: 2012

Hello there and welcome to the 49th episode of the Cinema Cafe Podcast: the new weekly film podcast by the fans, for the fans. Join us each week as we review new movies releases, look at some dvd's, talk some film news and share our general love for all things cinema. The main goal is to have some fun and hopefully provide the listener with some helpful insight. We are back and the podcasting world is alight once again. This week we have a treat: a look at 1 movie that has been recently released, as well as a quick look at a few other films. With that said here's a look at what we discuss on this weeks podcast:

* 2012
* A look at the trailers for the upcoming movies, Salt and Kick-Ass
* Upcoming movie releases for the weekend of 11.20.09

Also, film news and more, only on the Cinema Cafe Podcast. We hope you enjoy and happy movie watching.

We're now on Itunes so head there and subscribe to the Cinema Cafe Podcast. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Episode 50: Invention of Lying and Boondock Saints

Hello there and welcome to the 50th episode of the Cinema Cafe Podcast: the new weekly film podcast by the fans, for the fans. Join us each week as we review new movies releases, look at some dvd's, talk some film news and share our general love for all things cinema. The main goal is to have some fun and hopefully provide the listener with some helpful insight. We are back and the podcasting world is alight once again. This week we have a treat: a look at 1 movie that has been recently released, as well as a quick look at a few other films. With that said here's a look at what we discuss on this weeks podcast:

* Invention of Lying
* DVD Review of the 1999 independent crime thriller, Boondock Saints.
* Upcoming movie releases for the weekend of 11.13.09

Also, film news and more, only on the Cinema Cafe Podcast. We hope you enjoy and happy movie watching.

We're now on Itunes so head there and subscribe to the Cinema Cafe Podcast. Thanks!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Episode 48: Why so short?

Hello there and welcome to the 48th episode of the Cinema Cafe Podcast: the new weekly film podcast by the fans, for the fans. Join us each week as we review new movies releases, look at some dvd's, talk some film news and share our general love for all things cinema. The main goal is to have some fun and hopefully provide the listener with some helpful insight. We are back and the podcasting world is alight once again. This week we have a treat: a look at 1 movie that has been recently released, as well as a quick look at a few other films. With that said here's a look at what we discuss on this weeks podcast:

* Sorority Row
* A quick look at the 2006 Will Ferrell dark dramedy where fiction imitates life in Stranger Than Fiction
* Upcoming movie releases for the weekend of 10.02.09

Also, film news and more, only on the Cinema Cafe Podcast. We hope you enjoy and happy movie watching.

We're now on Itunes so head there and subscribe to the Cinema Cafe Podcast. Thanks!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Podcast News and Oktapodi

Sorry for the lack of updates everyone. As you may have noticed, there wasn't a new podcast posted this weekend and that's because [drumroll please]... we didn't do one. However do not fret, I'll have something up for all our faithful listeners and readers around Wednesday or Thursday, so look forward to that and thanks for the patience.

To hold everyone over, I am posting one of my favorite animated shorts, 2007's Academy Nominated short from France, Oktapodi. It's the cute, quick and oh so charming story of two octopuses, or is that octopi, in love. Check it out, enjoy and I'll talk with you all soon.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Leftover - Work of Art: Artwork (2008)

Last night, I was in a mood to listen to some classic 80's melodic rock, and nothing says classic 80's melodic rock like the group Toto. While watching the video of Toto's Rosanna, a commenter on the video mentioned a group called Work Of Art, who released an album named Artwork last year. Always curious about new music, I decided to check it out. I gave the album a listen on YouTube, and needless to say, I was blown away. It's like someone in Sweden cloned Toto and let them loose on the public to wow crowds and nostalgic 80's music fans, like me. Like I said, they are a Swedish group, and they have said that they were highly influenced by 80's Rock. To quote their MySpace page influences, "Toto, Toto and Toto!! Well, ok, we also enjoy listening to following bands; Journey, Giant, Mr. Mister, Chicago, Maxus, Pages, Jeff Paris, Saga, Pride of Lions, Survivor, Vince Di Cola, Winger, Mr. Big, Tommy Denander, etc." The only way it could get better for Josh is if they said Wham!

If you were to play this album for someone, they'd definitely think that you were playing an 80's album, because it essentially is. The vocals, the sounds, the lyrics, and everything just scream cheesy 80's melodic rock. In my opinion, this is one of the best things to come out of Sweden since Let The Right One In. I've already bought the album, and if you like 80's melodic rock as much as I do, I highly recommend this to you as well. I'm only sad that I'm just hearing about this group now.

-Greg

Monday, September 14, 2009

Episode 47: 9

Hello there and welcome to the 47th episode of the Cinema Cafe Podcast: the new weekly film podcast by the fans, for the fans. Join us each week as we review new movies releases, look at some dvd's, talk some film news and share our general love for all things cinema. The main goal is to have some fun and hopefully provide the listener with some helpful insight. We are back and the podcasting world is alight once again. This week we have a treat: a look at 1 movie that has been recently released, as well as a quick look at a few other films. With that said here's a look at what we discuss on this weeks podcast:

* 9
* A quick look at the 2008 independent romantic drama, that's not a porno as it's name would suggest, it's Good Dick.
* Upcoming movie releases for the weekend of 9.18.09

Also, film news and more, only on the Cinema Cafe Podcast. We hope you enjoy and happy movie watching.

We're now on Itunes so head there and subscribe to the Cinema Cafe Podcast. Thanks!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Leftovers - Derek Jeter Ties the Iron Horse!

Okay, I won't lie. I solely put this Leftovers up here to stick it to Josh. Last night, Derek Jeter, shortstop for the Yankees, tied Lou Gehrig for most amount of hits for a Yankee player, ever. With one more hit, Jeter will take the Yankee hit lead and set the new bar for future Yankees players to aspire to. Honestly though, watching Jeter do this has made me feel kinda old, as I can remember back in 95-96 when he first debuted for the Yanks. He really has come a long way since then. Like watching Don Mattingly back in the 80's and early 90's, watching Derek Jeter over these years has truly been a pleasure, and it's good to know that his number will join many great Yankee numbers in retirement.

The other stat I read that also amazes me is that Jeter is only 26 steals away from the Yankees franchise record for most stolen bases, held by Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, without a doubt the best lead off hitter in all of baseball. It's honestly more of a testament to how great a player and base stealer that Rickey was, as it's taken Jeter 13-14 years to reach 300, while it took Rickey Henderson 4 years as a Yankee to get 326. I really just wanted to shake Rickey's hand when I saw him in the Mets locker room this year. Damn professional atmosphere. Anyway, here's to you, Derek Jeter. May you enjoy all of your future franchise records while hanging out at Broome Street Bar.

-Greg

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Leftovers - Football Season is Here!!!!


Wow, it's been forever since I did a "leftovers" segment (the part where I talk about stuff not necessarily movie related) on the show and the first time I'm going one for the blog. What could prompt me to bring the segment out of retirement? Well, it's time for a very special part of the year, a season I long for with bated breath, going into near drug withdrawal symptoms when it's over. Yes, it's time... it's FOOTBALL SEASON!!! Time for barbecues, time for Fantasy football, time for my NY Jets to disappoint me yet again, as I go into week long coma's waiting for Sunday to role around.

But the reason why I bring all of this up is because of a fantastic video from The Onion, America's finest fake news source. It's a video all about the Detroit Lions, the only football team in the modern era of the NFL to go win-less during a season, striking a blinding 0-16 to the sports gods themselves. Just some backstory about the NFL: every year many of the professional football players participate in mentoring programs, going down to the inner cities and spending times with kids less fortunate, trying to be proactive role models, someone the kids can look up to as they grow up in a harsh world. Well The Onion video has the NFL players mentoring the Detroit Lions players who are so excited to meet some of their "favorite" professional players, because well, after going 0-16, they are anything but professional. It's funny, hilarious, and sadly, oh so true. So sit back and enjoy because tomorrow, September 10th, brings an end to all our suffering, yes it's Football time!!!



NFL Players Mentor Troubled Detroit Lions

Monday, September 7, 2009

Episode 46: Extract

Hello there and welcome to the 46th episode of the Cinema Cafe Podcast: the new weekly film podcast by the fans, for the fans. Join us each week as we review new movies releases, look at some dvd's, talk some film news and share our general love for all things cinema. The main goal is to have some fun and hopefully provide the listener with some helpful insight. We are back and the podcasting world is alight once again. This week we have a treat: a look at 1 movie that has been recently released, as well as a quick look at a few other films. With that said here's a look at what we discuss on this weeks podcast:

* Extract
* A quick look at the 2008 independent dark comedy where corporate production equals happiness in Visioneers.
* DVD Review of the 1998 romantic comedy that was the "inspiration" for 2000's Road Trip, Overnight Delivery.
* Upcoming movie releases for the weekend of 9.11.09

Also, film news and more, only on the Cinema Cafe Podcast. We hope you enjoy and happy movie watching.

We're now on Itunes so head there and subscribe to the Cinema Cafe Podcast. Thanks!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What I Think Of: We Are Wizards (2008)


Imagine a world where wizards rock n roll, where musicians sing songs about Harry Potter and his friends. Imagine a world where instead of lyrics like "don't stop believing" there are lyrics like "my father's rich, your fathers dead" sung by a group called Draco and the Malfoy's. Sadly such a world exists within this documentary and yes the lyrics of all the songs are just as bad and just as lyrically incorrect.

I'm not going to get into why this documentary is frankly one of the worst documentaries I've ever seen (poor editing, no cohesive narrative, no back story on the people portrayed- just a complete mess), just imagine a world where Harry Potter Year 4 and Harry Potter year 6 rock out to sold out gymnasiums of screaming 12 year old girls, where being geek is chic, and where 25 year old guys sing to get groupies (and yes the groupies are 12 and yes I leave you to your own conclusions). We Are Wizards bills itself as a documentary about the fandom of the Harry Potter universe. Do not be fooled!!! It's just about the rock n roll, and we're all the lesser for it.

If you have Netflix you can check this out right away on instant watch. If you finish this film, your eyes glued to your television right to the end, well, than you're more man than me since after 20 minutes of wizard rock I was defeated. Again, terrible documentary but must be seen just to see the unbelievable.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What I Think Of: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

Way back in the 1980's, my dad & brother, both who were into anime, showed me this film...kinda. I say kinda, because the version I saw was called Warriors of the Wind, which was a cut version of the original Japanese film, named Kaze no tani no Naushika. Back in the 1980's, the majority of Anime that was shown in the USA, whether movies or cartoons, did not have the best of dubbingm and were sometimes cut. Especially the cartoons. They were dubbed horribly, but since we were children, we didn't really care that much. That was the case for me with this film, but as I grew older and learned of such things, I always wanted to see the true version of this film. Thanks to the new owners of Marvel Comics releasing Studio Ghibli films on DVD, I was finally able to see Hayao Miyazaki's genius in it's true form.

Our heroine, Princess Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, is a peace loving girl who can communicate with the insects of the Toxic Jungle, like the Ohmu, the intelligent giant armored caterpillars who's eyes dictate their mood. When a ship crashes into the Valley of the Wind, Nausicaä and the citizens of the valley get caught up in a war between Tolmekia & Pejite, with the Tolmekian's taking over the Valley of the Wind to retrieve a creature of unimaginable power. What will become of the Valley of the Wind? Will Nausicaä be able to stop this war and save her people?

For those of you who watch anime, you have most likely seen the work of Hayao Miyazaki, who's makes timeless movie after timeless movie, at least in my opinion. Out of all of Miyazaki's movies, this is my personal favorite. Even though the Warriors of the Wind version was cut, I was always enamored by the world he created, and the visual way he brought it to life. This was one of the movies that got me into Japanese animation in the first place. The vibrant beauty of the Valley of the Wind, the unique design of the insects of the forest, and the awesomeness that was Nausicaä's glider just won me over from an early age. Not to mention that the soundtrack to the movie is simply beautiful, which is to be expected from any of Miyazaki's films. This film is considered to be the first Studio Ghibli film, even though it was made before Studio Ghibli was founded. I have yet to see Miyazaki's latest film, Ponyo, but with his constant track record of animated masterpieces, much like Pixar, I cannot wait to see it.



-Greg

Movie Talkback - The Expendables Pushed Back

The Expendables, a movie with a cast that can only be described as "action perfection", has sadly been pushed back from it's April release to August 10, 2010. According to a Lionsgate Twitter post, or "Twat" as Josh likes to say, the release of The Expendables would coincide with their release of their comic adaptation Kick-Ass. Personally, I'm not sure how to take this. I mean, I am definitely looking forward to Kick-Ass as well, but I thought The Expendables would've been a great movie to open up the fabled Summer Blockbuster season of movies. On the other hand, it might be a great way to close the season out too, because as I said, this "action perfection" cast might just be too good to open up the Summer Blockbuster season with, as nothing would be able to top it. Are my expectations high for this movie? You better believe it!

-Greg

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What I Thnk Of: Sita Sings the Blues (2008)


I talked about this wonderful independent animated film way back in one of our earlier podcasts. To call this film brilliant, audacious, mesmerizing, and an incredible single-minded vision would do this film a disservice since it must be seen to be believed. Written, produced, directed, and animated entirely by American artist Nina Paley, Sita Sings the Blues, is a 2D computer animated retelling of the Hindu story of Ramayana, interspersed with narration by Indian shadow puppets and with musical interludes voiced and sung by 1920's jazz vocalist Annette Hanshaw. It's a lot to process, with 4 different types of animated styles and again, it was all done by one animator!!! God, this film is amazing. And even after the passing of many months since I first saw this movie, its beauty still haunts me.

You can watch it free at: http://www.sitasingstheblues.com/. The reason and story behind why the movie is under common's licensing is almost as good as the actual movie, so go to the site and check it out. I guarantee that after watching it for free, like me you'll rush out to buy the dvd, if only just to help, however little, this wonder animator named Nina Paley that breathed something so magical into life by herself where you can't help but marvel at such an achievement.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Episode 45: The Time Travelers Wife

Hello there and welcome to the 45th episode of the Cinema Cafe Podcast: the new weekly film podcast by the fans, for the fans. Join us each week as we review new movies releases, look at some dvd's, talk some film news and share our general love for all things cinema. The main goal is to have some fun and hopefully provide the listener with some helpful insight. We are back and the podcasting world is alight once again. This week we have a treat: a look at 1 movie that has been recently released, as well as a quick look at a few other films. With that said here's a look at what we discuss on this weeks podcast:

* The Time Travelers Wife
* A quick look at the 2008 British all-ages fantasy film in The Secret of Moonacre, and of the 2009 Robin Williams starring dark comedy, Worlds Greatest Dad.
* DVD Review of the 2008 crime scene cleaning comedic drama, Sunshine Cleaning
* Upcoming movie releases for the weekend of 9.04.09

Also, film news and more, only on the Cinema Cafe Podcast. We hope you enjoy and happy movie watching.

We're now on Itunes so head there and subscribe to the Cinema Cafe Podcast. Thanks!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What I Think Of: Nacho Libre (2005)



Honestly, I don't know what it is about this film (maybe because it's so ungodly bad), but every time this terrible movie is on TV I can't help but drop whatever I'm doing and watch it. Jack Black is awful, the costumes, the pastels, the dialogue, the scripting, my god what a mess! And yet, just like a train wreck, I can't look away, can't avert my eyes from the carnage. And now, 4 years later, somehow against all odds I've seen this film for the 12th time. Maybe it's my love for Luchador Wrestling, maybe it's because this film has wrestler's named: El Skeletor and El Chino and a black wrestler named El Snowflake- I don't know, but whatever it is, there's some kind of allure this film has where every part of my mind and body screams this is a terrible film stop watching it, and yet I must! Nachooooooooooooo!!!

I was a fan of husband and wife directors, Jared and Jerusha Hess's first film, Napoleon Dynamite, their odd type of storytelling that appears dated and yet somehow modern (like how characters dress like they're from the 80's but use modern cell phones). But it's because of Nacho Libre that I have very little hope for their upcoming 2009 film, Gentleman Broncos, a film that after wtaching the trailer I can't believe it exists, like it's some bad Saturday Night Live skit, or SyFy channel original movie. But this post isn't about Gentleman Broncos, but rather Nachooooooo!!!! Viva La Nacho, Viva La Luchador, and yes I am deeply ashamed of my confusing love for this unholy terrible film. Watch Nacho Libre at your own risk, like a young boy's confused sexuality growing up, this film is scarring.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Episode 44: Inglourious Basterds

Hello there and welcome to the 44th episode of the Cinema Cafe Podcast: the new weekly film podcast by the fans, for the fans. Join us each week as we review new movies releases, look at some dvd's, talk some film news and share our general love for all things cinema. The main goal is to have some fun and hopefully provide the listener with some helpful insight. We are back and the podcasting world is alight once again. This week we have a treat: a look at 1 movie that has been recently released, as well as a quick look at a few other films. With that said here's a look at what we discuss on this weeks podcast:

* Inglourious Basterds
* A quick look at the 1978 Italian WW2 action B-movie, Inglorious Bastards, and of the special Rifftrax edition of Ed Wood's 1959 crap masterpiece, Plan 9 from Outer Space
* DVD Review of the original 1931 Universal Horror classic, Frankenstein
* Upcoming movie releases for the weekend of 8.28.09

Also, film news and more, only on the Cinema Cafe Podcast. We hope you enjoy and happy movie watching.

We're now on Itunes so head there and subscribe to the Cinema Cafe Podcast. Thanks!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Trailer Talk - Avatar

Not to be confused with M. Night Shyamalan's Avatar: The Last Airbender, this is James Cameron's 10 years in the making epic that supposedly will revolutionize the way people view films. Here's the synopsis:

Avatar is the story of an ex-Marine on the planet Pandora who, as an Avatar - a human mind in an alien body - finds himself in a desperate fight for his survival and that of the indigenous beings called Na'vi.

How great will the filmmaking technology on display be that Cameron's been working on for the last 10 years? Well, say what you will about Titanic, but the special effects in that movie revolutionized filmmaking at the time. Will lighting strike twice? Check out the trailer below (thanks to FirstShowing) and you be the judge.





Two things that you need to first note about the movie. 1) Its shot entirely in HD so you don't get the real feel for the movie without the trailer being in Hi-Def and 2) The film will be in a totally new immersive type of 3D that Cameron has created which looks so good, filmmakers that have seen it say that they will no longer shoot movies the traditional way, but will use this type of 3D filmmaking from now on. So those are just two things to keep in my mind while first impressions of the trailer swim in your head.

As for me, I think the film looks beautiful, a wonderful mix of sci-fi and fantasy. However, the trailer does give off a Final Fantasy: Spirits Within vibe to me, which is never good because that film was the first film to utilize photorealistic cgi and was an absolute terrible mess. Still Avatar is a movie I've been waiting all year to see. My expectations are absudly high for this film and if it's not the revolution in cinematic filmmaking Cameron purports it to be... I may just sit and cry, sobbing in the dark theater as my fellow movie patrons file out and Penny looks on at me in disgust. Please Cameron, I trust you. Please don't make a grown man cry for dissapointment. Please?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What I Think Of: Deep Blue Sea (1999)

Continuing with my aquatic reviewing adventure, lets turn back the clock a decade to this gem of a movie, Deep Blue Sea. Now, before I describe what the movie is about, which should be obvious from the poster, I want you to take a look at the list of films the director, Renny Harlin, has directed. Just some of those gems should give you an idea of what kind of films this man directs, and still continues to direct, like with 12 Rounds. What amazes me is that I've seen most of his 90's flicks and almost none of his gems for the new millennium. Shame on me, as except for Cliffhanger...maybe, I'm probably a shameful, closet fan of his action movies. Cutthroat Island might be up there on the Cliffhanger list, but I haven't seen it in so long to be sure. I'll probably rectify that soon enough. However, Deep Blue Sea I was definitely a fan of, for it's sheer, sheer absurdity.

Mind you, I am a fan of this movie, but it's not very good. It doesn't matter though, as it's your basic summer blockbuster, Jaws wannabe, and it has one of the best scenes with Samuel L. Jackson in it. The scene was so great, Dave Chappelle even mentioned it during his Samuel Jackson beer commercial. This movie also stars Thomas "I wish Travolta wasn't my Punisher villain" Jane as your typical movie "insert here" expert. Regardless, Saffron Burrows character, Dr. Susan McCallister, is making bigger, smarter, faster, meaner sharks in order to cure Alzheimer's Disease. Naturally something goes wrong, the sharks are loose, and the team must escape before they are killed in hilarious, summer blockbuster ways.

Okay, perhaps I was a little hasty in saying this movie is a Jaws wannabe, because Jaws was more of a horror/thriller, whereas Deep Blue Sea is more of an action flick, just with sharks. These are some impressive sharks too, as they learn how to plot, plan, and even swim backwards to charge up their attack. Deep Blues Sea is ripe with cliché and even makes fun of it with LL Cool J's character. What makes me like this movie is that it really doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is or what you expect. I went into the theater with little expectations, expecting sharks killing humans in hilarious ways, and that's precisely what I got. To me, that is an enjoyable movie experience. Now, I have to go back and watch Cliffhanger, Cutthroat Island, and his newer films to see if I enjoy them like I did Deep Blue Sea. Although, from what Josh has described of 12 Rounds, perhaps I'll skip that one.

-Greg

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What I Think Of: Second Skin (2008)



I'm a hardcore geek at heart, if there's something geeky that you can think of (Magic the Gathering, Astronomy, writing workshops, Dungeons and Dragons, Star Trek conventions, comic book and anime conventions) I've probably done it and loved every minute of it. God, looking back at just that sample list makes me depressed. But there's one thing I've never done and that's play MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games). Frankly due to my obsessive personality, I'm scared. I fear that if I started playing games like World of Warcraft or Everquest, I would get lost in their worlds and live and wear a well, Second Skin.

What is the world of MMORPG gaming? Here's a video spoof created by one of my favorite webseries called, The Guild, a series about people who play World of Warcraft. It's a show created by Felicia Day, who sings in the video. You may recognize her from a bunch of tv shows, but I know her best from one of my favorite Joss Whedon creations, Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog. Sure this video spoof is geeky (it may not make much sense for those unfamiliar with online gaming) but it's still quite funny and will introduce to the world of MMORPG's.





Okay so yeah, MMORPG's is just another way for people to feel connected, real or not. But what is this Second Skin movie? This is a fascinating 2008 documentary that follows seven people addicted to MMORPG's, and chronicles their lives as they fall in love, get fired from jobs, start families, battle addiction, become obese and sadly in one women's sons case, commit suicide. It's a fascinating look into a little known world that unless you live in it you have no idea how it feels or what's it about, a world that over 50 million people inhabit for 40+ hours a week, living second lives, while the crushing weight of reality closes in. I don't get it and it scares the crap out of me. Still, this not an anti-MMORPG movie, but rather a celebration of comradery and friendship. Sure the documentary is bias and I wish they showed you more how these MMORPG's are destroying the people's lives, but hey, that's the stereotype and it would have been all to easy for the filmmakers to fall back on such simple tropes.

So yeah check out Second Skin, if only to see a world that you can't believe exists. Check it out free on Hulu (it was rated the number 1 movie on Hulu when it was first released) or rent the dvd when it comes out August 25th.