Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Episode 65: Movie Review Rundown Extravaganza!!!

Hello there and welcome to the 65th 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.

It's been a while but we are back for your podcast movie loving enjoyment!!! I know we were gone for a while but I promise that we are back to our usual schedule of bringing you movie reviews twice monthly. I know I missed doing the show and I hope everyone missed listening to it. This week we have a movie rundown extravaganza as we try to recap all the movies we haven't had the chance to review yet. That means 11 new movie reviews for your listening pleasure. We hope you enjoy and thanks for listening.

With that said here's a look at what we discuss on this weeks podcast:

* June movie reviews - Toy Story 3, The Karate Kid
* July movie reviews - Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Predators, Salt, Sorcerer's Apprentice, Inception
* August movie reviews - The Other Guys, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Expendables and...
* Upcoming movie releases for the weekend of 9.03.10 and 9.1o.10

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 also on Itunes so head over there and subscribe to the Cinema Cafe Podcast and don't forget to post a review! Thanks!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fantastic Short Film Friday (NSFW) - The Pro (animated)

And we are back with another weekly installment in our Fantastic Short Film Friday series, as we look to showcase films released in the "lesser" known form of cinema- the short film.

This week we have for something a bit... a bit... different I guess you can say, and very NSFW. Here is an 8-minute animated short called The Pro which is adapted from the original 2002 graphic novel of the same name by Garth Ennis and Amanda Conner. This short is just crass, wrong and very adult in nature - so adults only here people!! - but I can't lie, I enjoyed the hell out of the original short graphic novel when I first read it back in 2002, and I enjoyed the hell out of this animated short adaptation, although it leaves out some of the better... um... situations found in the graphic novel. Seriously this is NSFW.

Basically this is the story of a prostitute who gets superpowers and joins the League of Honor to fight crime because it pays better. There's foul language and some sexual situations so people easily offended should look away. But if you're into comics like I am and would enjoy seeing a satire where Superman, Batman, Robin and Wonder Woman all play second fiddle to a prostitute with superpowers, check this out.

What more can I say? Just... yeah check it out and hopefully you enjoy it as much as I do.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Book Review: The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson

Publication Date: 1952 in US
Format: Paperback


Lou Ford is the deputy sheriff of a small town in Texas. The worst thing most people can say against him is that he's a little slow and a little boring. But, then, most people don't know about the sickness--the sickness that almost got Lou put away when he was younger. The sickness that is about to surface again.

Joshua's Take: 4.0/5☆

Why I picked up the book: because I love me a good, hard crime novel and the recent movie adaptation got me all kinds of giddy to read this original cult classic. Oh, and it has a blurb from Stanley Kubrick, I mean come on, what more do you need?

The serial killer genre has always been a popular one especially in books, where the average citizen for a few hours and days can look inside the mind of a killer, live inside, and yet peacefully go back to their ordinary daily lives with a flick of the wrist, the closing of the front cover, f it ever got to be to much. Anthony Hopkins brought the world to a standstill in 1991 with his terrifying portrayal of everyone's favorite cannibal Hannibal Lecter. And in that same year, Brett Easton Ellis brought everyone's mind's to a frenzy with American Psycho, and then with 2001's movie adaptation which made Christan Bale into one of the most charismatic, outrageous and apologetically tragic "hero's" in recent memory. Then came HBO's Dexter, and now it seems like rooting for the serial killer has become chic, become popular culture. But if one were to ask me, what is one of the greatest example of a serial killer novel, a work written from the POV of the character, I would have to say it would be Jim Thompson's 1952 cult classic, The Killer Inside Me.

I'm not going to talk about the story since I don't want to give anything away. Just go into this with an open mind, blind to all the twists and turns, and you'll be begging for more. This is an amazing read, one that is so realistic, so relentless, so unflinchingly cruel and paranoid, a work with words that literally crawl inside your ears, pounding away at your ear drums in a rhythmic staccato of mayhem, that you have to wonder, was Jim Thompson this brilliant or this demented? Thompson's prose is almost staccato, brilliant bursts of short, clipped sentences that make the story and the lead, Lou Ford, all the more terrifying, like each word is brooded upon before said.

The greatest thing a writer can do is make the reader feel like they're inside the mind of the characters, and Jim Thompson does that so convincingly that you wish he wasn't as great of a wordsmith. Director Stanley Kubrick once said of the novel that The Killer Inside Me was, "probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered" and I couldn't agree more. What's so frightening is that Lou Ford appears like the everyman, the country hick that's in every small town down throughout the state-lines. He's somebody you would feel comfortable asking for directions, even feel pity for his lot in life. From a distance, Lou's crimes would be horrific but tempered, however inside the mind of Lou, the only narrator of a sick play, that's when you move on from horrific to mind-altering. Even better is that with Lou being the only narrator, with every crime and murder being told only by him, you have to question how truthful the whole story is, how far can you take his words at face value and even if you want to. I can only imagine outcry there must have been when this book hit stands back in 1952.

Here is a brilliant work of fiction that perfectly fits what the term "noir" is, a term that feels watered down as every publisher and movie studio looks to coin their works "noir." It's a short read, one that I read as I traveled back and forth to and from Houston, 8 hours total, a short work that will stay in your mind for years to come.

I'm really looking forward to watching the movie adaptation which got a very limited release back in June and stars Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba. Just thinking of those actors in the lead roles sends my mind to endless fancies.

Here is a story where every character is tragic and one where sadly everyone gets theirs, a powerful and painful look into the mind of a killer, who realizes what he's doing is wrong, even wants to stop, but can't, because of the "sickness", a sickness that could very well be breeding deep down inside all of us if we ever choose to look. A must-read.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fantastic Short Film Friday - Heartless: The Story of the Tin Man

And we are back with another weekly installment in our Fantastic Short Film Friday series, as we look to showcase films released in the "lesser" known form of cinema- the short film.

This week we have for you an amazing 23-minute short about everyone's favorite Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz called, Heartless: The Story of the Tin Man. From Whitestone Motion Pictures, the short is written and directed by Brandon McCormick and co-written by Charlie Wetzel. It's wonderful, tragic and well, it made me want to re-read the original classic series. What more can I say?!!

Here's the official synopsis from the film's website:

Based on the backstory of one of the most beloved children╩╝s novels of all time comes the extraordinary love story between a simple woodsman and a beautiful maiden. Not having many possessions but wanting to marry his maiden, the woodsman sets his heart to build a large and beautiful cabin.

L. Frank Baum wrote the back story to the Tin Woodsman in his book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Heartless: The Story of the Tin Man is Whitestone Motion Pictures retelling this little known story of the tragic arc of a beloved character who was once human, made of flesh and blood that turned into tin.

Sounds great, right? Frankly I'm stunned by the production quality and cinematography of the short film. It's muted, dark, and perfectly befitting the story told. Heartless brings a wonderful steampunk quality to L. Frank Baums classic and if there's one thing I like more than zombies, it's steampunk. The story is moving, it has a fantastic voice-over and narrative, the costumes look great (which is rare in short films) and honestly, this is what that awful 2007 Tin Man mini-series by the SyFy channel should have been. It's sad when a 23-minute short is better then a 4-part big budgeted miniseries on TV. You really are terrible SyFy channel!!

To find out more information about the short including the soundtrack go: here.

So there you have it- a fresh, new, minty film for lovers of the Wizard of Oz, Tin Men and of course, shorts. Enjoy!!

Heartless: The Story of the Tin Man from Brandon McCormick on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Playlist

This 2010 action comedy is adapted from the 6-issue graphic novel of the same name created by Bryan Lee O'Malley and is written and directed by Edgar Wright (of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame). It's easy to summarize this movie, but truly difficult to convey the absolute brilliant geek righteousness of it all. Basically Michael "Emo" Cera stars as Scott Pilgrim, a listless 20-something who is the bassist for the not very good indie rock band, Sex Bomb-omb. One day he meets the woman of his dreams in Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), an aloof 20-something package delivery girl. Just as things start to blossom, Scott finds out that in order to continue dating Ramona, he must battle and defeat her 7-evil ex's. Battle after battle, can Scott survive and win the true affections of Ramona, or in the end is all love doomed with the eternal question, "continue?"

As the days have gone on since I intially first watched, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, there's been a huge and continued backlash towards the star of the film, Michael Cera. No other actor in recent memory calls forth such vitriol from movie goers everywhere as the eternal man-child, the emo-epicness that is Michael Cera. His detractors cry out that he's the same in every movie, just always slightly moving his face, pouting and generally being an overall wimp. Frankly I'm stunned by this. Not only because I can't understand why so many hate the guy, I mean truly from-the-bottom-of-their-heart hate the guy, but also because I've always liked his style. So with all the hate in the forefront of my mind, I decided to rewatch his Scott Pilgrim-ish turn as Nick in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. While my initial observations still hold true, it's more a soundtrack than movie (and the soundtrack isn't very good), a more documentary of NY music culture that indie-love story, and yeah I'm still way to old for the movie (where no adult appears to exist in the Logan's Run style that is NY of the movie), I have to say that I enjoyed it on my third watch. Perhaps after 2 repeat viewings I've just grown accustomed to it's mediocre character and plot development, but the movie and it's culture, it's panache washed over me on my third viewing and damn if I didn't enjoy it. I even went on ebay looking to buy a Yugo, but then again, I don't have a death wish.

Going back to Scott Pilgrim, this role is the ultimate Michael Cera-type role. I mean he's still the same nebbish, emo loser in a band, who's still reeling from a heartbreaking break-up (I mean this is the exact same character from Nick and Norah), but here he's more assured of himself, an almost oddly defined "playa" who can fight and will physically fight for the woman of his dreams. Here is Cera writ large, defined as the modern geek culture hero, a skinny guy with no muscle definition that can kick the butts of Superman and the Human Torch. Preach on Cera, preach on. But that's just Michael Cera's performance, what about the rest of the movie?

If you're a fan of the original graphic novels you won't be disappointed. It changes a lot of the story, the relationships, the battles, but all for the better for an adaption to the silver screen. The movie never let's up once, as the story moves from battle to battle, a hyper-imaginary world where video game fighting in "real" life is all part of the norm, and extra lives exist, where a geek who's pick-up line starts with, "do you know that "Pac-Man was originally called Puck-Man", can get the hottest girl in the room- very true to life- as music video-like cuts edit by at breakneck speed, and rhythm consistently pounds the screen with notes a la "Rock Band", a world where Superman got his superpowers from being a Vegan. Brilliant.

Sure there are some flaws to the movie- since it movies from battle to battle there is very little character development, and sure there's just a little too much going on the screen from time to time, an adrenaline pump for the ADD generation, and yes I get that people hate Michael Cera and this whole movie is Cera being Cera x10- but the jokes come a mile a minute, the comedy never feels forced or flat, playing for both the high-intellectual to the slapstick, and while there is very little character development, the characters are endearing, and unlike in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist here the soundtrack is absolutely fantastic.

The casting and acting are also pitch-perfect. Michael Cera embodies the spirit of Scott Pilgrim to the T and Mary Elizabeth Winstead really feels as if she was just born from the page to the screen. But the two actors that stole the movie for me were Kieran Culkin as Scott's gay-roommate Wallace Wells and newcomer Ellen Wong as Scott's jail-bait former girlfriend Knives Chau. Kieran Culkin is just brilliant and hilarious and the best of the comedy in the movie comes from his character. Ellen Wong is just the most honest, endearing and heartbreaking character in the movie, and while you may think Scott is an ass and Ramona is at times a mean spirited woman, you only ever want the best for Ellen's Knives Chau. Out of all the characters in the movie, Knives is the most honest and true character in the movie, a girl we all know or knew at one point in our lives, a reminder on what it means to be young.

I must admit that while watching the movie, I never thought it was too "geeky", too niche, as my friends cried out with joy as the music from Final Fantasy, Zelda, Seinfeld and Mario Brothers played in the background of the movie. As the credits rolled and I smiled to myself thinking, "damn that was one amazing movie" and one that while not based on a video game, was the best video-game movie I have ever seen, I turned to my "Ramona" and asked what did she think. She went on to lament that she didn't get a lot of the jokes, and pressed asking "why did the words, 'bam, ring, vroom and zip' keep appearing on the screen", words that I never thought twice about always thinking they belonged. As she continued to reiterate her hatred for Michael Cera, I began to wonder if this movie was too "geeky", too niche for the general mainstream public. And then when the boxoffice results came out and the movie came in 5th, with a measly 10 mil take, I began to come to grips that my love for this movie may not really translate for everyone.

Still with that said, I enjoyed the hell out of Scott Pilgrim vs. the
and give it a "bring your lunch from home because you do not want to miss this one." I cannot wait until this hits dvd and blu-ray so I can watch it over and over again and marvel at what the tagline of the movie succinctly puts, "it's epic epicness."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Leftovers: LOST Epilogue (Leak?)

Looks like there's a 12 minute epilogue for LOST that will be on the blu-ray/DVD release. There is a minute and a half clip that can be found here but it seems that /film leaked the full 12 minute clip but if you go to the original posting the video doesn't work and if you dig further, it's been pulled! WHY was I not up at 2:30am when Joshua found the clip??? Anyway, if anyone finds it, please email cinemacafepodcast@gmail.com or shopgirlpenny@gmail.com. In the meantime, I've included the one and a half minute clip with Greek? Russian? subs. Sorry, it's the best I can do.