Michael Jai White calls into the show. He’s now starring in Skin Trade which also stars Dolph Lundgren & Tony Jaa. As you’ll discover, Michael always likes to keep his audience guessing. You’ll also see him soon, alot of him, in Chocolate City. Follow on Twitter @MovieInterview @MichaelJaiWhite @ThePopcornTalk on Instagram @TheMovieInterview
Oscar Isaac is rapidly building a body of work that’s sheer quality. His new film, Ex Machina is destined to be a Science Fiction Classic. He’s also criss-crossing galaxies in the next three Star Wars films as X-Wing fighter pilot, Poe Dameron. In this interview, Oscar breaks down what inspires his character choices. I also asked about his rising stardom & of course, Star Wars.
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Mark Wahlberg kicks off 2012 with the new R rated action flick, “Contraband.” Leaving behind a life of crime & going legit is Chris Farraday’s (Mark Wahlberg) new life plan. He’s got two growing sons & a smokin’ hot wife, Kate (Kate Beckinsale). In family, there’s always that certain screw up. Someone who’s playing on the wrong side of the tracks. This time it’s his brother-in-law, Andy(Caleb Landry Jones). He’s breaking the law & he’s not very good at it.
In my opinion, drug dealers in Contraband never read the book, Drug Dealing For Dummies. Page 169 clearly states, “No Drug Dealers or Drug Buyers Should Ever Program Each Other’s Last Name Into Their Personal Cell Phones.” Who does that? I’ve watched enough episodes of “24” to know that that leaves a digital trail. So back to the story, Andy gets in way over his head with said drug dealer Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi)(who’s real last name BRIGGS is actually programmed into Andy’s cell phone!) Swear to God.
One more thing I have to call out. During an “un-monitored” maximum security prison visitation, Chris tells his jailbird pop he’s gotta go back into the business of running contraband to bail out his wife’s brother. Hello Guard, anywhere? Hello!! While the first half of the movie is slow-building, things do heat up in the second half.
Panama is pickup point. The clock is ticking because, the ship’s captain (J.K. Simmons) has a schedule to keep. Chris has to obtain ill-gotten booty & get it back onto the ship undetected. During which, he’s got to navigate his way though poverty-stricken streets of Panama with zero GPS, just memory. It’s here where he meets up with an old business contact, a drug lord (Diego Luna) who’s expanding from smuggling, drugs, counter-fitting to armed robbery & murder.
With Briggs terrorizing Chris’ family back on the mainland, he’s gotta score and score big time no matter what or his family is dead. He’s desperate & his actions become more & more daring. The question: How far would you go to save the lives of your wife & kids? The action is there, no doubt about that. I just wish the film on the whole was more clever ala 2003’s “The Italian Job.”
America is currently faced with #Occupy Everywhere. The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. “Tower Heist” is a movie hitting the box office with precision timing. It’s basically the one percenters vs. the ninety-nine percenters. Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) is a billionaire Hedge Fund Manager who lives in the Penthouse high above The Tower. Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) manages the residence like a hotel. He’s all about customer service. He and his staff are at their beckon call 24/7.
About a decade before, Josh asked Mr. Shaw for a favor, a business favor. Representing Tower employees, Josh asked Shaw to invest their life savings. As you’ve seen in the trailer, Shaw gets arrested & all the money is gone. Infuriated, frustrated & cheated, Josh decides to take his team’s money back the swindler. This sets the story into motion.
An unlikely team of bandits is assembled. They are, a down and out Wall Street investment broker, Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) a concierge with a very short attention span, Charlie (Ben Affleck) a bellhop with visions of grandieur, Enrique Dev’Reaux, (Michael Pena) who’s nicknamed The Puerto Rican-Mohican, a Jamaican maid with attitude & hormones (Gabourey Sidibe) & a small time street hustler, Slide (Eddie Murphy.)
Together, they’re after $20 million. The build up was very good. You could see things clicking & working. I also liked Special Agent Claire Denham (Tea Leoni.) She played a likable agent who sympathized with the fraud victims & clicked with Ben Stiller’s character. It was good to see Eddie Murphy returning to familiar territory. After all, he’s played a few of my all time favorite characters like Billy Ray Valentine: Capricorn in “Trading Places,” Reggie Hammond, “48 Hours” & of course, Axel Foley in “Beverly Hills Cop.”
I’m sure Eddie’s early worked inspired director Brett Ratner. It was vintage 80’s Eddie & that was good to see back on the big screen. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Everything with Tower Heist was working until the Tower Heist itself. On another note, last year, I was diggin’ “Iron Man 2″ until the lame sequence when Jon Favreau was driving through the Monaco Grand Prix– inthe wrong direction!
POSSIBLE SPOILER, BUT WHEN THE HECK, IT’S IN THE TRAILER. The movie derails into the very same lameness when the caper resorts to driving a speeding truck through the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade– inthe wrong direction! It turns into a slapstick vibe when marching band trombone players are jumping out of the way. It’s pretty bad.
In closing, the first two-thirds of Tower Heist are enjoyable. In my humble opinion, the heist could have been more clever, more daring & most of all more believable. It’s OK if you’re in the mood, but certainly won’t be remembered as a great heist film. If that’s what you’re into, rent the original or remake of “The Thomas Crown Affair.” It’s the very definition of a clever heist movie.
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Antonio Banderas’ voice is simply perfect for the animated feline, Puss in Boots……oh, and the Nasonex Bumblebee. Puss In Boots finally steps out into his very own adventure. This story takes us to a time and place years before the feisty feline ever met a wise-cracking ogre named Shrek.
This a prequel I like to call, #OccupyFairyTale. It weaves in familiar characters like the dude with those crazy-magic beans, Jack, (voiced by Billy Bob Thorton). Or the dude who’s rightfully afraid of heights, Humpty Dumpty (voiced by Zach Galiafinakis). Oh & there’s furry love too with Kitty Softpaws, (voiced by Salma Hayek).
Puss In Boots is silky smooth with all the lady cats, but come morning, he’s makin’ tracks. The story synopsis: Running from the law, Puss is an outlaw, with wanted posters adorning his hometown. As kids, Puss In Boots & Humpty Dumpty were thick as thieves living in the same orphanage. They both had a dream, they’d one day get Jack’s crazy-magic beans, plant the beanstalk & ascend to rarefied air, the place where a magic goose lays Golden Eggs, (by the dozen).
That scheme gets put into motion. If there’s a theme for the young ones here, it’s trust issues. Trust your friends. They may sometime betray you, but that’s life. Learn from it. There’s plenty of scenes that involve swordplay & dancing. I’m confident all the kiddies will be spellbound for the 90-minute running time.
My favorite parts of the movie were when we see the little things cats do. Scratching, cleaning, rubbing & purring. I especially enjoyed seeing Puss In Boots order up a straight shot of milk in a western saloon. Hats off to the animation team.
This is a fun movie. Kids will love it. As for movie critics who gave it an F, do us all a favor, just quit. Can’t you let kids enjoy a movie without snooty criticism? Does every single movie need to be an Oscar contender starring Helen Mirren? Get out of the business.
This movie is being touted as Puss In Boots 3D. There’s an option here as many theaters are showing it in 2D. You can easily save a few bucks there. If you want honest movie reviews, I’m always here. Get the Film Freak iPhone – iPad app. It’s the app that saves you money on movies. Just search Film Freak.
Justin Timberlake continues his non-stop acting assault. Last year, he took on the part of real-life Tech Wiz, Sean Parker in “The Social Network,” this year the romantic comedy, “Friends with Benefits” & now the Sci-Fi Thriller, “In Time.” Set in the future, “In Time” is a simple story about the “Haves” & the “Have Nots.”
The currency isn’t money, it’s seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months, years, decades & tens of decades. In this world, humans age until their full growth peak of 25 years old. That’s when everyone stops aging. The time display on your forearm allows just one more year of life. One year, not a second more or less.
The way to stay alive in this game (of life) is obtain more time. Beg, borrow, steal. Most people are poor and only have one or two days worth of time. You get up, work & you’re given a few precious hours, another day. Just enough hours so you have to come back the next day, just in the nick of time.
Timberlake plays Will Salas, a guy in the ghetto who lives day to day. He represents the masses. In a twist of very good fate, Will finds himself with more time than he ever dreamed. Imagine, you were walking down the street & you found a wheelbarrow filled with thousand dollars bills & it was all yours. So now Will is upwardly mobile. He was to mix it up with the ultra rich. This is where society takes its time, because they have more than they could ever use.
It’s there where he meets Sylvia Weis, (Amanda Seyfried) a woman who comes from time. Her father, Philippe Weis (Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser) owns & operates the largest Time Lending Company on the planet. Long story/short, Will & Sylvia make a run for it. I like the cops of this world: Time Keepers. Cillian Murphy plays Raymond Leon, a time cop that’s been on the beat for well over 50 years. Sylvia finally learns what life is like when you can only live it day to day.
The film is set and filmed in Los Angeles for a specific reason. People in LA seem to be much more obsessed with youth & the idea of staying young. Take note. You won’t see any graffiti in the movie, because people in this world just don’t have time to waste on such nonsense. I liked how people in the ghetto were always rushing. No choice. If you only had 12 hours before you ‘Timed Out,’ you’d hustle, double-step & eat your food on the run every single day.
At the end of the day, it’s a Robin Hood story of stealing time from the rich & giving it to the poor. The filmmakers aren’t being coy. This is social commentary. Those on the political right will have a field day dissecting “In Time.” It’s all about redistributing wealth. Those on the top want to keep it all while those on the bottom are quite literally dying in the streets because they’re out of time.
“In Time” is rated PG-13
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Alexandre Dumas’ “The 3 Musketeers” has been around for ages. Films of this famed trio dates all the way back to 1939. The most recent incarnation was 18 years ago with Charlie Sheen as one of the musketeers. Swashbuckling! Winning! 2011 gets its brand new musketeer makeover. The cast includes, D’Artagnon (Logan Lerman), Athos (Luke Evans), Aramis (Matthew MacFayden) & Porthos (Ray Stevens). Also along for the ride is Cardinal Richilieu (Christoph Waltz), Milady de Winter (Milla Jovivich) & finally the Duke of Buckingham, (Orlando Bloom). The question: Did Bloom ‘defect’ the Pirates franchise or was he written out? Either way, he’s back to get his sword-fighting ya-yas out again.
Let’s be clear folks. This isn’t Oscar worthy material. I will say, this type of movie had to be the kind of movie you’d go see on any Saturday afternoon anywhere from 50 to 75 years ago. Pure adventure & the wondermint of film. That’s what I thought about. Ease up on the artsy-fartsy angle critics. Yeah, the acting was just OK, yeah I can see the computer generated imagery in the background, yeah the dialogue speech accents are all over the place, except France, where the story takes place. I’m willing to overlook these things. Why? The bigger picture.
There was also cleverness in the form of aquatic assassins, hidden traps & passages ALA Indiana Jones, wonderful props, swords, weapons like grappling guns, detailed costumes & excellent production value. There were cool ideas there. I try to point out the good things as much as possible. The crowd I saw the movie with, were all having a good time. That’s key.
I’m pretty sure the studio is going after a much younger crowd. This movie borrows heavily from “Pirates of the Caribbean,” & even “The Princess Bride.” (I counted at least four subtle & not so subtle references to one of my all time faves! All except the priest saying Mah-wage). There’s a serious market for young, active moviegoers. I think kids anywhere from 8 to 18 will really enjoy this adventure.
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I can barely remember John Carpenter’s 1982 version of, “The Thing,” which is the exact reason why it’s being remade in 2011. This time, the studio is going after young customers. It’s no secret: Teenage males drive box office sales! “The Thing” is tailor-made for a new generation ready for a good scare. All the usual suspects are here.
Close your eyes & you’ll hear the high-pitched squealing from, “Alien.” There’s a ton of “Alien” here. Remember, the company man who only wants to contain & monetize the specimen at all costs, even human life? What’s most obvious is seeing Kate Lloyd, (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) take on the female heroine persona ala Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley. It’s all there right down to the flame thrower.
So if you take away the baggage of seeing the other two versions of, “The Thing,” as if they never existed, odds are you’d have a heckuva good time at the movies. Again, that’s for first timers. As for me, there’s nothing new to report here. I’ve seen this movie already. “The Thing” is rated R for bloody, Sci-Fi images.
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