Friday, May 25, 2012

FORCED PERSPECTIVE, Ep.15 – May the Force Be With You, Part 1

In honor of the 35th Anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars film (“A New Hope”), is PROUD to present FORCED PERSPECTIVE, Episode 15 – May the Force Be With You, Part 1 – the first of 2 Star Wars-themed episodes. Join SportsGuy515 and Adolfo, along with special guests Big D, Mr. Eddie, and Hamza (b.k.a. Dave) as they take you back to a galaxy far, far away with almost 3 HOURS of in-depth discussion of the Original Star Wars Trilogy – “A New Hope”, “The Empire Strikes Back”, and “Return of the Jedi”. Plus, classic Star Wars video games, the Special Editions, our Star Wars memories, and MORE! A MUST-LISTEN EPISODE! DOWNLOAD/STREAM NOW!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

DVD Of the Day - Star Wars: The Complete Saga – Blu-ray Review

Check out the full review of the entire Star Wars Saga on Blu-Ray over at SuperFriendsUniverse

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Tomas Alfredson
2011 • 127 Minutes • 2.35:1 • United Kingdom

Principal Cast: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, John Hurt, Mark Strong, Tom Hardy
Screenplay: Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan from the novel by John le Carré
Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Robyn Slovo
Cinematography: Hoyte Van Hoytema

For twenty-five years we’ve been the only thing standing between Moscow and the Third World War!

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a troubling film to review. By this I do not mean to imply that it is not a good film. In fact it’s quite good. Very good. Also, very deserving of the recent Oscar nominations it has earned. The problem with this film is that the one major criticism that most critics have of the film is one that I as well echo, but I will nonetheless recommend to you fine viewers. But more on that in a minute.

We’ve been brought up in a culture where spy movies are, for lack of a better term, “cool.” James Bond, the most famous fictional spy of all time, is the height of every male fantasy combined into one slick package. He’s a bad ass. He gets all the ladies. He dresses to the nines. He gets to play with cool toys. He blows stuff up. He drives fast cars. In a word, he’s awesome. Even modern day spies like Jason Bourne or Ethan Hunt play off of this archetype. Even a parody like Austin Powers pretty much follows the exact same pattern.

What we get in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a spy movie that, well, is actually about SPIES. What a concept. Instead of running around blowing stuff up and having sex with gorgeous woman (as awesome as THAT is), this film focuses on the day-to-day life, intrigue and danger of actually spying for another country, becoming a double agent (in some cases a triple agent) and all the people that get caught in the literal and figurative cross-fire.

To describe this plot is a little troubling, and that’s where the criticism comes in. The film has so many twists and turns that most critics (including this one) had a hard time actually following the plot to the point that when the double-crossing secret agent is revealed at the end of the film, it’s almost anti-climactic. That said, as confusing as the film can be, I can’t really knock it. Let’s face it as much I love Goldfinger or The Man with The Golden Gun, those films have highly improbably plots with over-the-top supervillains, improbable action sequences and ridiculous end-of-the-world scenarios. Yes… that is all great fun, but it ends up being filed away as escapist entertainment (not that there’s anything wrong with that.) This film’s plot revolves around a covert British espionage organization trying to find a Russian mole within its ranks during the Cold War in the 1970s. Revealing any more of the plot would head into spoiler territory, so I’ll leave it at that. What results is actual spy work. Agents work to investigate the situation. Can we trust him? Whose side is he working for? Who is the mole? What information does the informant have? etc.

There’s no explosions. No gun play. No cool gadgets. No hot blondes in bikinis. Yet, the film still works and it works well… mostly because of its incredibly strong supporting cast.

There’s been a long running joke that in the last 10 years the Harry Potter films have kept every British actor employed as it seems every famous English face has appeared in that franchise. Well, now that the series has finally wrapped up, looks like Tinker Tailor has managed to keep most of them working.

Gary Oldman plays the lead character in George Smiley, perhaps the most ridiculously named spy in the history of… ever. Don’t let the name fool you though, as Smiley is decidedly bad ass. He doesn’t punch anyone or cut the wires on a bomb at the last second, but he is certainly a spy you never want to cross. Does this come as a suprise to anyone, however? Oldman is a consistently amazing actor that delivers every single time. It doesn’t matter if he’s playing Sex Pistols legend Sid Vicious, the prince of Darkness Count Dracula, Stansfield the psycho cop, Sirius Black, Commissioner Gordon or a semi-retired spy… slam dunk performance every single time.

Mark Strong shows up in a supporting role, shockingly NOT playing a villain. (NOTE: I don’t consider this a spoiler because even though everyone in this film is a suspect, it’s pretty clear early on that Strong’s character is not the mole.) Strong has played the villain in Sherlock Holmes, Green Lantern and Kick-Ass and he finally gets a mainstream role that doesn’t require pure villainy. He is understated and fascinating as a spy-in-hiding.

This is Colin Firth’s first mainstream film since winning the Oscar last year for The King’s Speech, and surprisingly this is more of a supporting performance. Firth is good as always, but his screen time is limited, which doesn’t give the audience enough time to see him stretch his acting muscles.

Tom Hardy, Toby Jones and John Hurt also pop up in supporting roles, giving the usual strong performances that we have come to expect from them at this point.

From a production standpoint, everything works. The costuming, make-up/hair and art direction seem to fit the 1970s UK atmosphere that this world is set in. The cinematography is beautiful and the film is edited at a decent enough pace.

In short, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a movie you’ll have to pay extremely close attention to, because literally everything and anything could be the clue to who the Russian mole is. It is confusing, no doubt, and you may have to watch it at least twice to catch the subtle clues and understand the ending. That said I applaud the filmmakers for not dumbing down the final product. An excellent, albeit confusing, spy thriller.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Le Samouraï (1967)

This post was originally published as part of the DVD of the Day series at Superfriends Universe on January 11, 2011.

Le Samouraï

I never lose. Never really.

The Stats

The Director:  Jean-Pierre Melville
The Cast:  Alain Delon, Nathalie Delon and François Périer
The Release Date: 1967
The Runtime: 105 Minutes

The Lowdown

Jef Costello is the perfect hitman. A bad ass who made our Top 100 Movie Bad-Asses, Costello meticulously plans his assassinations out to every detail and he never, ever gets caught. One night, however, he’s seen by witnesses after offing a night club owner. Suddenly, the people who paid him off as well as his alibi all betray him and he’s driven into a corner trying to escape.

An unfair criticism of French films (and foreign cinema in general) is that it’s generally regarded as “art house.” I went to school to study film, so a name like Jean-Pierre Melville holds some weight over the pretentious film snob crowd. What is great about this film is that it gives both the art house audience and the entertainment-only audience a good hybrid. Yes, it’s a movie about a hitman… but it’s really quite beautifully directed.

Melville’s old school. He fought against the Nazis in World War II as part of the French Resistance.  So call him a pretentious director, I dare you.

The crime films of the 40s seemed to have had quite the effect on Melville as this movie is clearly inspired by those noir classics. Pay attention. It’s a film about a hitman, but there is very little in the way of “action.” There are no gunfights and no overly-choreographed fight scenes. There is killing, violence and a chase sequence, yes, but they are there to serve the story, much like the noir films of the 40s. The film relies on 2 major things to tell the story: Melville’s camera work and Alain Delon’s acting. He barely speaks in the film, but his acting is so spot-on that you know exactly what the Jef Costello is thinking purely through body language. After all, he essentially only has 2 facial expressions the whole movie. Which works as a character device, because, after all this guy is a stone-cold killer… he wouldn’t show much expression anyway. He’s also the fastest draw on a gun that you’ll see in pretty much any film. If you don’t walk away from this film without thinking that Jef Costello is one of the greatest bad asses of all time, then there is no hope for you.

The camera work is brilliant. Melville knows exactly where to put the camera to convey intrigue, suspense, etc. The dialogue is almost non-existent, so everything is achieved mostly through camera work. That is a rare accomplishment: Minimalist filmmaking that produces a film with maximum entertainment value.

Final word: One of the greatest hitman movies ever made.

Watch this film if you like movies such as:




Saturday, May 5, 2012

FORCED PERSPECTIVE, Ep.14 – An American Bully in the Woods (*2012 SUMMER PREVIEW*)

Join SportsGuy515 & Adolfo as they review some of the last major releases before the start of the 2012 Summer Movie Season, including Bully, American Reunion, Titanic 3D, The Cabin in the Woods, and The Five Year Engagement, before diving into a full-blown 2012 SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW. Plus, their DVD of the Week, Adolfo’s live Extreme Rules experience, Criterion DVDs, comic book geekiness, and MORE! DOWNLOAD/STREAM NOW!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Top 25 Superhero Movies

This Friday, Marvel's The Avengers blasts off the four-color panels and into theaters, with The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man hot on its heels.  Ever since X-Men hit theaters in 2000, the superhero movie genre has enjoyed a nice resurgence.  While there have been some groaners (*cough*Green Lantern*cough*), we've also enjoyed mega hits like the Spider-Man franchise and the Batman reboot.  So sit back as The Essential Films counts down the Top 25 Superhero Movies of all time.  Oh, and while we usually only consider theatrical releases, some straight-to-video features have made their way on to this list as well.  Enjoy.

#25 - Kick-Ass (2010)
Three assholes, laying into one guy while everybody else watches? And you wanna know what's wrong with me? Yeah, I'd rather die... so bring it on!
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Screenplay:  Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman based on characters created by Mark Millar & John Romita Jr.
Stars:  Aaron Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Nicholas Cage

#24 - Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
I'm not gonna kill him, Abe. But I am gonna kick his ass! 
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Screenplay:  Guillermo del Toro, Mike Mignola based on characters created by Mike Mignola
Stars:  Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, John Alexander, James Dodd

#23 - Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
- Do you want to kill Nazis? 
- I don't want to kill anybody. I don't like bullies; I don't care where they're from. 
Director: Joe Johnston
Screenplay:  Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely based on characters created by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby
Stars:  Chris Evans, Haley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving

#22 - Watchmen (2009)
We can do so much more. We can save this world... with the right leadership. 

Director: Zack Snyder
Screenplay: David Hayter, Alex Tse based on characters created by Dave Gibbons & Alan Moore
Stars:  Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson

#21 - Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)
You know, kids, a lot has changed since your old Uncle Joker's been away. New Gotham, new rules, even a new Batman. But now I'm tanned, I'm rested and I'm ready to give this old town a wedgie again!

Director: Curt Geda
Screenplay:  Paul Dini, Glen Murakami, Bruce W. Timm based on characters created by Bob Kane & Jerry Robinson
Stars:  Will Friedle, Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Angie Harmon, Dean Stockwell

#20 - Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Can't be too careful with all those weirdos around. 

Directors: Eric Radomski, Bruce W. Timm
Screenplay: Alan Burnett, Martin Pasko, Paul Dini, Michael Reaves based on characters created by Bob Kane & Jerry Robinson
Stars:  Kevin Conroy, Dana Delaney, Hart Bochner, Stacey Keach, Abe Vigoda, Efram Zimbalist Jr., Mark Hamill

#19 - V for Vendetta (2006)
- What was done to me was monstrous. 
- And they created a monster. 
Director:  James McTeigue
Screenplay:  The Wachowski Brothers based on the characters created by Alan Moore & David Lloyd
Stars: Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, Stephen Rea, John Hurt, Stephen Fry

#18 - Superman II/Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (1980/2006)
Come to me, Superman! I defy you! Come and kneel before Zod! Zod! 
Director:  Richard Lester, Richard Donner
Screenplay:  Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman based on characters created by Joe Schuster and Jerry Siegel
Stars: Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Terrence Stamp, Margot Kidder, Ned Beatty

#17 - Batman Returns (1992)
- A kiss under the mistletoe. You know, mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it.
- But a kiss can be even deadlier... if you mean it. 
Director: Tim Burton
Screenplay:  Daniel Waters, Sam Hamm based on characters created by Bob Kane
Stars:  Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Danny Devito, Christopher Walken, Michael Gough

#16 - Thor (2011)
Oh, no... this is Earth... isn't it? 
Director: Kenneth Branaugh
Screenplay:  Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne based on characters created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård

#15 - RoboCop (1987)
Dead or alive, you're coming with me!
Director:  Paul Verhoeven
Screenplay:  Edward Neumeier, Michael Miner
Stars:  Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Don O'Herilhy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith

#14 - Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)
America's champion, Superman, went down in defeat several hours ago. An exhaustive search has found no sign of him. Here at the Cape, the greatest minds in the free world, are now working on a plan to stop this monster before it reaches the coast. We cannot panic.
Director:  Dave Bullock
Screenplay:  Stan Berkowitz based on the graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke
Stars:  David Boreanaz, Miguel Ferrer, Neil Patrick Harris, Keith David, Lucy Lawless

#13 - The Crow (1994)
I knew I knew you, I knew I knew you. But you ain't you. You can't be you. We put you through the window. There ain't no coming back. This is the really real world, there ain't no coming back. We killed you dead, there ain't no coming back! There ain't no coming back! There ain't no coming back!
Director:  Alex Proyas
Screenplay:  David J. Schow, John Shirley based on characters created by James O'Barr
Stars:  Brandon Lee, Rochelle Davis, Ernie Hudson, Michael Wincott, Bai Ling

#12 - X-Men (2000)
- Magneto's right: there is a war coming. Are you sure you're on the right side?
- At least I've chosen a side.
Director: Bryan Singer
Screenplay: Bryan Singer, Tom DeSanto, David Hayter based on characters created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Stars:  Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Halle Berry

#11 - Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
Now, that was rude. The first boy blunder had some manners. I suppose I'm going to have to teach you a lesson so you can better follow in his footsteps. Nah, I'm just gonna keep beating you with this crowbar. 
Director: Brandon Vietti
Screenplay:  Judd Winick
Stars:  Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, John Di Maggio, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Isaacs

#10 - Batman (1989)
- Jack, listen... maybe we can cut a deal?
- Jack? Jack is dead, my friend. You can call me... Joker! And as you can see... I'm a lot happier.
Director: Tim Burton
Screenplay: Sam Hamm based on the characters created by Bob Kane
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger, Michael Gough, Robert Wuhl

#9 - X-Men: First Class (2011)
Listen to me very carefully, my friend: Killing will not bring you peace.
- Peace was never an option.
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Screenplay:  Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Stars: James MacAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence

#8 - Batman Begins (2005)
Gotham's time has come. Like Constantinople or Rome before it the city has become a breeding ground for suffering and injustice. It is beyond saving and must be allowed to die. This is the most important function of the League of Shadows. It is one we've performed for centuries. Gotham... must be destroyed.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Screenplay:  David S. Goyer & Christopher Nolan based on characters created by Bob Kane
Stars:  Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman

#7 - Spider-Man (2002)
Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words: "With great power comes great responsibility." This is my gift, my curse. Who am I? I'm Spider-man. 
Director: Sam Raimi
Screenplay:  David Koepp based on characters created by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko
Stars:  Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Cliff Robertson

#6 - X2: X-Men United (2003)
You know all those dangerous mutants you hear about in the news? I'm the worst one.
Director: Bryan Singer
Screenplay:  Zak Penn, David Hayter, Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris
Stars:  Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellan, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen

#5 - Iron Man (2008)
"Iron Man". That's kind of catchy. It's got a nice ring to it. 
Director: Jon Favreau
Screenplay:  Mark Fergus, Hawk Otsby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway based on characters created by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby
Stars:  Robert Downey, Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Leslie Bibb

#4 - The Incredibles (2004)
Remember the bad guys on the shows you used to watch on Saturday mornings? Well, these guys aren't like those guys. They won't exercise restraint because you are children. They will kill you if they get the chance. Do not give them that chance. 
Director: Brad Bird
Writer: Brad Bird
Stars:  Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Lee

#3 - Superman: The Movie (1978)
I'm here to fight for truth, and justice, and the American way. 
Director: Richard Donner
Screenplay:  Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman, Robert Benton
Stars:  Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, Margot Kidder, Ned Beatty

#2 - Spider-Man 2 (2004)
I believe there's a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams. 
Director: Sam Raimi
Screenplay:  Alvin Sargent based on characters created by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko
Stars:  Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Alfred Molina, James Franco, Rosemary Harris

#1 - The Dark Knight (2008)
 Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn. 
Director: Christopher Nolan
Screenplay:  Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan based on characters created by Bob Kane
Stars:  Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman