Everyday life in the ‘burbs comes with its fair share of mundane problems. Just don’t sweat the small stuff, right? Unfortunately for the characters in The Details, they fail to let go of the small stuff and, before they know it, their suburban life is on the edge of complete disaster. Jacob Aaron Estes, director and writer of The Details, reminds us just how absurd these suburban issues can be with an exceptional cast and a darkly comedic plot that entertains but doesn’t really bother to go past the superficial.    

Tobey Maguire (Spiderman, Pleasantville) and Elizabeth Banks (Wet Hot American Summer, The 40 Year Old Virgin) star as unhappily married couple Dr. Jeff and Nealy Lang. They decide it’s time to expand their family and have another child. Jeff takes this opportunity to focus on landscaping his backyard in a mission to create the perfect backyard lawn. He puts down new sod one day, and, the next, he wakes up to a catastrophe: raccoons have torn up the grass. Thus, this wildly absurdist film begins, and the actions Jeff takes to rid himself of the raccoons simultaneously mirror and enhance his problems.

Movie sequels are rarely good, especially ones that have a decade or more gap between them.  Luckily, Tron: Legacy was able to break free from this stigma and was one of the few good movies in a mostly lackluster year of film.

When watching the movie, I remembered the wonder and awe that used to come from experiencing a Disney movie and, for a moment, forgot what an evil corporation it was.

The movie is far from perfect, but extremely enjoyable.  The story moved slowly at times, but I found this refreshing, as most movies these days try to shove far too many side plots and superfluous scenes in just to make it more fast-paced.

Sony Pictures Classics bought Take Shelter blindly before it had even premiered at Sundance 2011, a rare occurrence in the indie film world. This happened for one main reason: Michael Shannon. Shannon (Oscar-nominated for Revolutionary Road) gives a gripping, powerhouse performance as Curtis LaForche, a man plagued by apocalyptic visions. Thanks to great writing and direction by Jeff Nichols (Shotgun Stories), the story, pacing, and supporting cast add to Shannon’s performance, which serves to sink us deeper into this sci-fi, psychological drama.

LaForche lives in rural Ohio and is husband to a beautiful wife, Samantha (Jessica Chastain), and the father of a young, hearing-impaired daughter, Hannah (Tova Stewart). He works for a construction company day-in and day-out, but, slowly, nightmarish visions paint an entirely different picture of his life and future. His love for his family and his desire to protect them heighten his fears, and he focuses his anxiety-ridden energy into building a costly storm shelter in his backyard. The shelter becomes the focal point of the film, and his drive to complete it mirrors his rising level of worry.

I was lucky to attend the Sundance premiere of Kevin Smith’s highly anticipated horror flick Red State, starring up-and-coming actors Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner, and Nicholas Braun, as well as established actors Michael Parks (Then Came Bronson, Twin Peaks, Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2, Grindhouse), Oscar-winner Melissa Leo, and John Goodman.  When I arrived at Eccles Theater in Park City, Utah, I was greeted by a huge line and a mix of protesters: half, serious religious picketers, half, ironical picketers, which included Kevin Smith himself, as well as a teen with my favorite sign that read: God Hates That I Couldn’t Get Tickets To Red State.  The film centers on a trio of high school youngsters (Angarano, Gallner, and Braun) who, out of a combination of sheer boredom and raging hormones, respond to a woman’s internet sex ad in the hopes of having an ill-planned, and ill-fated, gangbang.  Smith leaves his signature mark on this film with witty banter, unapologetic plot twists, and overt social critique, but his own style ultimately ends up hurting the film. Watching Red State was a hard-to-swallow experience, as there is as much good as there are short comings, and I was left with the frustrating—and not uncommon—sentiment that hidden somewhere in this film was the potential for greatness.

Greetings to you, noble internet surfer.  It is your humble correspondent heretofore known as YHC.  YHC has not taken the time out of his busy schedule of watching others polish his ivory tower in order to traipse into a plebian “movieplex,” so YHC would like to take the time to diffuse this seemingly glaring obstacle regarding the ability of his effectively reviewing Boondock Saints II: All Saints’ Day.

 

Hello, my dozen of fans.  It is I, your jovial misanthrope, Paul Pakler.  I am going to briefly explain why I review movies (without having seen them).

1:  I live in New York City, where ticket prices harbor around $12 a pop.

2:  Most movies are f@#%tarded.

3:  If you still don’t understand, reread Reason Number Two (and replace “Most movies” with “You”).

So, without further (Midsummer Night’s) ado, let’s review some s@#$%y movies!

 

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