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Stuck In Love Movie Review

Y’gotta love a movie with tons of heart.  “Stuck In Love” is just such a movie. It cleverly ties all things together into a gorgeous bow in the shape of a Hollywood ending.  Bill Borgens (Greg Kinnear) is a very successful writer & pretty pathetic at love.  His ex-wife, Erica (Jennifer Connelly) was driven into the arms of another man.  Then there’s Bill’s free-spirited daughter, Samantha (Lilly Collins.) When it comes to having sex, she’s a Point A straight to Point B person. She’s not a dabbler.  Bill’s son, Rusty (Nat Wolf) is engulfed in his awkward teenage phase.

Bill gets by, sexually speaking, thanks to his frisky neighbor, Tricia (Kristen Bell.) She often stops by to drop off a package, herself. It’s quick, easy & tearing Bill apart inside.  Enter Lou (Logan Lerman.) He’s just a nice guy who meets Samantha & sets out to be her friend.  It’s great to watch the ice thaw on Samantha over the course of the film.  This is a well-written movie & a well-acted movie. It reminds me of ‘Love Actually” & that’s one of my favorites. I highly recommend it.  Rated R.  Follow me on Twitter @leoquinones. You can also hear me every Saturday host The Film Freak Movie Talk Show every Saturday at 4p PST on KFWB NewsTalk 980 AM Los Angeles or online at www.kfwbam.com



The Way Way Back Movie Review

Steve Carell is hands down one of the nicest people in show business.  That’s why it’s such a shocker seeing him play Trent in ‘The Way Way Back.’ Audiences will gasp at his sheer & utter douchey-ness.  It’s perfect.  He’s a bully & his target is Duncan (Liam James.) He’s just a kid who happens to be the son of Pam (Toni Collette), Trent’s girlfriend for the summer.  It’s no secret, kid’s have been taking crap from adults since the beginning of time. What makes this movie so memorable is you feel like you’re the one getting dumped on, hard.  It’s an amazing feeling when you start to flinging it back into adult’s faces.

Duncan escapes daily verbal beat downs from Trent by taking a part-time job at Water Wizz.  It’s there where he meets the water park’s fast-talking, fratboy owner, Owen (Sam Rockwell.) These two just hit it off & from there on out, Rockwell steals the movie.  Trent’s mission: To make Duncan’s summer vacation miserable. Owen’s Mission: Be the best Wing-Man, have a blast & make Duncan a man.  Along the way, we see first crushes, parents who can’t handle their liquor, obnoxious neighbors who live to gossip & a lazy-eyed kid who lights up the screen!  Written & Directed by Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, throw on a swimsuit & don’t miss ‘The Way Way Back.’ Rated PG-13.  You can Follow me on Twitter @leoquinones. You can also hear me host America’s Longest Running Movie Talk Show, The Film Freak Movie Talk Show every Saturday at 4p PST on KFWB NewsTalk 980 AM Los Angeles. www.kfwbam.com

 



The Lone Ranger Movie Review

I had so wanted for this particular movie to transport me back to the Old West. Didn’t happen. How can The Lone Ranger possibly utter the phrase,”Let’s do this”?  In the past 2 years, just about every woman heading into the gym has used that exact same phrase, “Let’s do this” as their pre-workout status update.  What’s next? Tonto finds his way using Google Maps?

Two things I thoroughly enjoyed. One, Director Gore Verbinksi’s exotic shooting locales.   There are some beautiful shots in this movie. Two. The bad guy. Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner). The make-up application was 2 1/2 hours every day of shooting.

My personal take: I know when CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) takes over the screen. These days, most audiences know too.  So why on earth would you saturate it with so much CGI into a movie set in 1869? To make it more exciting? What’s more exciting than just plain Cowboys & Indians?  What’s more exciting than the thunderous roar of running horses?  What’s more exciting than a good old-fashioned Western? It just doesn’t work.  Tonally, this movie was all over the map.  Serious Western? Revenge Film? Buddy Comedy?  The Lone Ranger will work for boys between the ages of 9 and 14. But even then, the film goes on forever at 2 hours 29 minutes.

The Lone Ranger is a runaway train from the beginning. Too bad it’s headed in the wrong direction.  I’m sorry for the bummer news.  I love movies.  Follow me on Twitter @leoquinones.  You can also hear me every Saturday at 4p PST hosting America’s Longest Running Movie Talk Show, The Film Freak Movie Talk Show on KFWB NewsTalk 980 AM Los Angeles. Listen online at www.kfwbam.com



Interview: Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio Writers of Despicable Me 2


Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio are the writing engine the drives animated movies like, “Despicable Me,” “Horton Hears A Who,” “The Lorax” & now “Despicable Me 2.” They’re two guys who love what they do. The movie is funny. I sat in a theater full of kids &they cracked up the entire time.  By the way, The Minions are coming & they are getting there own movie.  You’ll find out all you need to know about the world of ‘Despicable Me’ right here.  I hope you enjoy the interview. Just like Gru, you can Follow me on Twitter @leoquinones. NO MINIONS WERE HARMED DURING THE COURSE OF THIS INTERVIEW!



WORLD WAR Z MOVIE REVIEW

I loved World War Z. It’s got everything I want in a Zombie film, without all the slow-paced dread. As in every Zombie epic, when you get bit, you’re baked. Pretty Standard. Gerry Lane (BRAD PITT) is an EX-United Nations Investigator.  When the UN-explainable outbreak goes global, Gerry’s ex-boss offers his family safe harbor aboard an aircraft carrier miles out at sea.  It’s then when Gerry sets out to trace this virus all the way back to the identity of Patient Zero.

The locales were not as they seemed. The Philadelphia outbreak sequences were actually shot in Glasgow, Scotland.  All the signs, billboards & automobiles were switched out to American. In the center of the city, an abandoned bank, which was about 50,000 square feet, doubled as Zombie Headquarters.  This abandoned, Old Bank of Scotland was gutted & transformed into 4-floors of film crew catering, rotting wardrobe & intense Zombie make up applications.  Another huge sequence in Jerusalem was actually shot in Malta.

What’s interesting to me is the the way each zombie had it’s own story.  Mayes Rubeo, the costume designer says, “If you look at every zombie we have, every one of them has a specific design, including the aging of wardrobe, the condition of their clothes & the amount of blood.  We wanted to portray each one as an individual in a certain stage of the epidemic.” I kid you not, there’s even a zombie inspired by the very creepy & cold movements of  Anton Chigurh, the villain from “No Country For Old Men.”

The next challenge was applying mass behavioral traits to this strain of zombies.  Director MARC FORSTER employed a ‘Swarm Theory,’ which is basically a pattern of movement seen in nature…..Forster added, “It’s the way flocks of birds, (schools of) fish or (Armies of) ants move together. There’s almost a swarm intelligence to it. I thought it would be interesting to see these zombies, who have no intellect since they are the walking dead, react in this swarm mentality. ….as a whole, there is an unconscious conscience.”  There are scenes that will have you gasping for air & jumping right out of your seat. Perfect Summer Popcorn fare.

“World War Z” is really not that gory at all. In fact, it’s rated PG-13.  Brad Pitt said, he did the film so his young sons could enjoy it.  Follow Leo on Twitter @leoquinones.  It is truly the best way to prepare for a zombie apocalypse.

 



MAN OF STEEL REVIEW

With Marvel’s global success of ‘The Avengers,’ Warner Brothers & DC Comics have so much riding on ‘Man of Steel.’  The filmmakers simply must deliver the goods. I feel that they have. You’ve got all the epic fight sequences, action, special effects, science fiction & pyrotechnics. But you’ve also got an origin story from which you can now build.  Let me put it in simpler terms.  If you take one step back, you realize, that “Man of Steel’ is the greatest pro-adoption film since 1959′s “Ben Hur. ”

Finally, the credit is given where it is due, to the Kryptonian & human parents of Kal-el/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill). Jor-El (Russell Crowe) provided a chance for his son to prosper with a life on another world.  The parenting bond was then handed to earthlings Martha Kent (Diane Lane) & Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) & then finally back to Jor-El.  These are the people most responsible for birth of Superman. Flaws are what makes characters more interesting, and it is Clark Kent’s fight within himself that drives this version forward. Lois Lane (Amy Adams) plays the modern day reporter to perfection.  Her character’s actions tied everything together is a way that made perfect sense.

As for me, I believe “Man of Steel” is the reason why we go to see movies.  It’s another world.  It’s OK to fell like a kid again. Give it a shot. I had a complete blast.  You will too. One more thing. This could be really dark for younger children.  FYI, at the very end of the film, there’s no scene of Superman meeting Batman for hero sandwich, there’s nothing. Hey, one could always hope right?  Follow me on Twitter @leoquinones, Lois Lane does!

 



STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS MOVIE REVIEW

Director J.J. Abrams knows how to slap together a fun movie. “Star Trek Into Darkness” has most everything. Sometimes I enjoy simplicity.  The movie has a beginning, a middle & an end.  Less interpretation, more up on the screen.  I will say, in this installment, character development was scrapped over more action sequences.  But hey, I’m OK with that. It’s time for a summer popcorn movie & it’s not Oscar Season. The heartbeat of the movie is the complex friendship between The Human: Kirk & The Vulcan: Spock.  Chris Pine & Zachary Quinto provide the spark that ignites the entire movie.

The Crew of the Starship: Enterprise, headed by Captain James T. Kirk has been given their latest mission.  But it’s really less of a mission and more of a Black OP.  NO SPOILERS HERE. Trekkies will absolutely love subtle and notso subtle references to the original 1960′s TV series.  Maybe they should call him James T. KINK.  He just goes for it, every single time & I dig that.  I advise you to seek passage aboard the Enterprise & strap in for it’s 5-year mission.   I had a complete blast.  Just like Scotty, Bones & Ohura you can certainly follow me on Twitter @leoquinones.  Q-Out.

 

 



THE ICEMAN Movie Review

“The Iceman,” Richard Klukinski (Michael Shannon) was a contract killer for the mob. Legend has it, he’s whacked over 100 people.  Based on a true story is the statement that drives this film. New Jersey: 1964. Richard Klukinski is a man living the American reality. He’s just another guy trying to get by on a modest salary.  His paths cross with mid-level mobster Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta) & suddenly he’s got a new job & a new title: Hitman.  This thing turns into Diners & Deathbeds, in a hurry.

Michael Shannon was born to play this guy.  When he’s up onscreen, you really can get hypnotized by his intensity.  His acting is on point, hitting every single tone. Klukinski’s wife Deborah (Winona Ryder) for the most part accepts the fact the her husband is a good man, who happens to work a white collar job on Wall Street.  Ryder adds in layers of doubt about her husband’s career, but never really calls him out on what he’s really up to. I think it’s the best thing Winona Ryder has ever done. Other supporting players include rival assassin, Mr. Freezy (Chris Evans) & low level enforcer, Josh Rosenthal (David Schwimmer).

This movie is an absolute must-see. In lots of period films, I can see beyond the frame & envision set people off to the side holding Starbucks, awkward light rigs, bulky cameras & everything else you’ve seen on a movie set.  Director, Ariel Vromen & his production team wove every detail into the fabric of the films.  You can see details down to the the lamps, the cars, the wardrobe, the lighting. It’s all right there & never lets the audience think, ‘oh, this is just a movie.’

About two years ago, the young director convinced Michael Shannon to participate in a 1-day screen test.  This screen test, unlike many others would be a fully-produced scene.  The idea was to film an intense scene & use it as bait to attract money to back the film.  Anyone can provide a clip from “The Iceman.” What I’ve got for you is so much better.  It’s the actual screen test with Michael Shannon & Michael Wincott. (The Crow, Hitchcock) You’ll know this great actor when you see him in the clip. Let me set it up.  Wincott is playing Mr. Freezy, the other hitman that Chris Evans plays in the movie.  The pressure of cops & killing is getting to these guys.  They are desperate.  The dialogue is pretty much word-for-word as you’ll see in “The Iceman.”  Wincott & Shannon nail it. Makes me wonder, why didn’t they keep Wincott in the film.  “The Iceman” is Rated R. Go see it.

Follow on Twitter @leoquinones

 



PAIN & GAIN MOVIE REVIEW

Truth is stranger than fiction. “Pain & Gain” is a true story about 3 dudes with way more brawn than brains. The events unfolded between October 1994 & June 1995. Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is on course to be a low income personal trainer for the rest of his life. That’s exactly what he doesn’t want.  Then is fate crosses paths with a passionate, inspirational, unorthodox & foul-mouthed self-help guru, Johnny Wu. (Ken Jeong) Daniel lives by Wu’s motto: “If I feel I deserve it, the universe will serve it.” The problem: Lugo thinks he deserves everything at all costs, no matter who gets hurt, no matter what the consequences.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is by all means getting better & better as an actor. Here he plays ex-con, Paul Doyle. A man drawn to his demons.  Rounding out the nefarious trio is Adrian Doorbal. (Anthony Mackie.) Another personal trainer who’s always strapped for cash.  When Daniel recruits these dudes, it’s about one thing: Targeting one rich person & taking everything they own. It’s a very twisted way of achieving The American Dream.

So who’s the unlucky mark? Enter local businessman, Victor Kershaw (Tony Shaloub) He was just at the wrong gym, the wrong time  with the wrong personal trainer. Hey, it happens.  As you’ve seen in the movie’s trailer, Kershaw is about to have his life turned inside out.  Over the course of the film, the criminal masterminds are anything but disciplined.  Just looking at the trio execute their crimes, makes anyone who’s ever watched any of those CSI TV shows think, “Geez, these idiots are dropping a million clues, traces, evidence & traceable steps.”  You watch, there’s gonna be a “Pain & Gain” drinking game. Drink everytime they leave a clue. Get a designated driver. You’ll be doing copious amounts of shots.

NO SPOILERS: I liked the fact the Daniel Lugo ran his operation like Ethan Hunt of “Mission: Impossible.” He was just so awful at it. What’s more amazing, is his team back him on everything, even murder.  You know it’s just a matter of time before these idiots get caught. “Pain & Gain” is a good time at the movies. Follow me on Twitter @leoquinones, Tony Stark does.



DJANGO UNCHAINED MOVIE REVIEW

Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” takes us back to the year, 1858, two years before the Civil War.  I appreciate any attempt to bring back Westerns. It’s a genre ripe for a resurgence.  The setting works:  A bounty hunter (Christof Waltz) teams up with a slave, Django (Jamie Foxx) to capture criminals & ultimately help find & free Django’s slave wife. (Kerry Washington)

There are excellent scenes within the film. You’ll enjoy textbook Tarantino dialogue exchanges. Leonardo DiCaprio turns in an excellent performance as a savvy & sinister slave owner, the callus Calvin Candie.

As a whole however, this wasn’t one of my favorite Tarantino films.  Going back a few years, ‘Inglourious Basterds’ was utterly brilliant.  The Hans Landa character played by Christof Waltz, in my opinion, should have remained inside the world of ‘Inglourious Basterds.’ Instead, I kept seeing Hans resurface in ‘Django Unchained.’  I know everyone else did too, but won’t admit it.  Let’s compare.  In ‘Basterds’ he was dubbed ‘The Jew Hunter.’ Here he’s The Bounty Hunter. For some reason I can’t explain, he also hails from Germany.  Oh, & he speaks at least (3) languages, just like Hans Landa.

This is just nit-picking now.  Why do certain directors always feel compelled to hurl themselves into their own movie? It stymies me. Why does Quentin do this?  My first thought every time I see him onscreen in one of his own films is: What is Quentin doing?  It catapults me out of the movie! No one in Hollywood will admit this. They all want to work on one of his movies. I’m not an actor. So again I ask Quentin, Why insist? Why?

Final note, “Django Unchained” is still better than 85% of what’s out in theaters.  It’s worth watching. You can follow me on Twitter @leoquinones

 

 

 



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