Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

For the fans, A:AoU certainly has a lot to offer, with more characters and that certain kind of Marvel excitement and fun. However, the film itself is standing on shaky ground in its attempt to replicate the way the first pulled its heroes together in a big joint film. And like the first film, the action is big and generally fun, but the extensive CGI battles can lack weight. Not to say that the CGI ever looks bad, because it doesn’t. In particular, Ultron and Vision look spectacular and their moments are some of the best in the film.

The opening of the film kick-starts with a fight between the Avengers and Hydra forces, with some great moments that look pulled from their comic book origins. And while the end of the fight throws a number of plots devices in rather clumsily, this is forgivable as said devices become the plot itself and then lead the action. The plot’s basic structure involves Tony Stark trying to create an A.I., Ultron, for worldwide protection, until Ultron determines that humanity would be better off starting fresh so that he can lead them to a better future. Ultron wants to divide and conquer the Avengers, using them for his plan with the help of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, super-powered brother and sister that want revenge against Tony Stark. So it’s up to the Avengers to find a way stop Ultron and his thousands of robotic bodies.

One great scene is after a big party when the Avengers try to lift Thor’s hammer, because the scene feels natural and helps punctuate the later animosity, as well as coming into play later in the film amusingly. The film puts its action pieces together well with some great moments during the finale. The second half of the film has calm moments between battles, such as on Hawkeye’s farm, and these moments are effective in keeping the film paced well. The first half is focused on a lot of set-up and character moments and it montages to keep the pacing feeling less rushed. However, because the second half of the film takes time to slow down, it makes the bigger battles more effective in terms of impact.

Black Widow’s character development was a controversial (everyone’s favourite word) subject for many fans, and I can see why. Personally, I don’t see what’s so awful about her and Bruce Banner being interested in each other, considering that I thought I saw inklings of that in the first Avengers film, but oh well. I liked that the film shows more of how valuable of a team member she is, from being able to bring Hulk back to Banner to her mission skills and quick thinking (such as rigging up a Morse code device while trapped), but her backstory is a bit less of a strong point. It’s important to learn and add something to her character in how she thinks of herself, but it lacks the skill that Captain America: The Winter Solider had in fleshing her out while keeping an element of mystery that fits her character. If you’re a fan of Hawkeye (as I am) you’ll be pleased to hear that he’s given a much stronger role in the film in and out of battles that reminds the audience that among super-soldiers, geniuses, the Hulk, and gods, he’s a normal guy, but can offer something vital to the team. Plus, he’s one of the funniest members. One more character I want to mention is Vision, because he’s visually impressive and poses a lot of questions for the MCU in terms of his power-source. Paul Bettany does a fantastic job representing Vision’s emotions through his eyes, and his design as a whole is fantastic, and I want to see more in future. A lot of the other characters are explored in terms of their relations as a team, focusing on their dynamics between (and sometimes during) large battle scenes. These group interactions are often hit or miss in terms of effectiveness, just because it can feel like a lot of set-up for later films like Captain America: Civil War.

Joss Whedon’s dialogue is another case of hit or miss, because there are some great character moments in the dialogue, and it keeps the tone light without sacrificing too much emotional elements. However, it also devolves into ‘quip-speak’, where the characters are more interesting in making snappy dialogue back and forth. The humorous ones between Hawkeye and Quicksilver are fine but the quips in more serious moments aren’t as effective because it feels like the standard ‘we need an emotional moments but we want to play it cool and not overly dramatic’ which is something that is becoming rote for Marvel. And to some degree, that works for keeping the film’s lighter, but the constant use leaves it feeling stale.

Ultron’s presence in the film is a welcome one as he makes for a charismatic villain (thanks to James Spader’s great vocal performance). He’s one of the best parts, and his character keeps the film moving forward. However, unlike Loki’s goal in The Avengers, which had been developed from Thor and continued as his character, we’re only introduced to Ultron here, so exactly who he is and what he wants is only just established in this film and limited as such. At the very least, he’s in the battles more and is a very active antagonist that proves to be a challenge for the heroes, leading to some great battles.

Once again, will fans like Avengers: Age of Ultron? Yes. And will non-fans? Probably. It’s a summer fun film, with big battles, star power, and special effects. It doesn’t have the unique and vibrant style of Guardians of the Galaxy, and it’s less tightly put together than Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I’m excited to see what’s next for the Avengers however, and while A:AoU isn’t the strongest Marvel film to come out, it’s still entertaining to watch the heroes come to life on the big screen.


Paper Towns (2015) Review

A young man and his friends embark upon the road trip of their lives to find the missing girl next door.

Even though Paper Towns is one of my favorite books if not my my favorite, I will not let that interfere with the quality of my review of the film adaptation. First things first this film captures the soul of the novel but other than the black santas, beer sword, and the great white wall of cow. Paper Towns is nothing like the book and that doesn’t bother me, but if your the kind of person who gets upset by that sort of thing you might not like it. If your like me and can look past that you will find a coming of age story that is on par with the works of John Hughes. the best moments of this film come from the highlighting of Q,Ben, and Radar’s friendship. I will tell you one thing  if Nat Wolff continues down this path of film choices he will become the next Miles Teller. This film made me laugh when i was supposed too. Especially at the pokemon theme song. So in the end Paper Towns is the modern day Stand by Me and for that reason in a year filled with Lightsabers, Dinosaurs, and Superheroes. Paper Towns will not be forgotten. 6/10

#259 August 19, 2015

Sheila writes: In the films of Spike Lee, the characters often break the fourth wall and speak directly into the lens. There’s a break in the action, and the dialogue spoken to the camera feels almost like it’s from a documentary, with the “talking head” giving us more information for context. In this cut from the wonderful video-site “Press Play,” watch the best To the Camera moments from Spike Lee’s films.


The Hateful Eight (2015). Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Channing Tatum, Walton Goggins, Samuel L. Jackson. Synopsis: In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunters try to find shelter during a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception. Will they survive? Opens in US theaters in limited release on December 25, 2016, with wider release to follow on January 8, 2016.

Tab Hunter Confidential (2015). Directed by Jeffrey Schwarz. Synopsis: The story of matinee idol Tab Hunter from teenage stable boy to closeted Hollywood star of the 1950s. Release date TBD.

The Keeping Room (2014). Directed by Daniel Barber. Written by Julia Hart. Starring Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld, Muna Otaru . Synopsis: Left without men in the dying days of the American Civil War, three Southern women - two sisters and one African-American slave - must fight to defend their home and themselves from two rogue soldiers who have broken off from the fast-approaching Union Army. Opens in US theaters on September 25, 2015.

Sicario (2015). Directed by Denis Villeneuve. Written by Taylor Sheridan. Starring Emily Blunt, Jon Bernthal, Josh Brolin . Synopsis: An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico. Opens in US theaters on September 18, 2015.

Ride Along 2 (2016). Directed by Tim Story. Written by Phil Hay . Starring Olivia Munn, Ice Cube, Kevin Hart . Synopsis: As his wedding day approaches, Ben heads to Miami with his soon-to-be brother-in-law James to bring down a drug dealer who’s supplying the dealers of Atlanta with product. Opens in US theaters on January 15, 2016.

Dad’s Army (2016). Directed by Oliver Parker. Written by Hamish McColl . Starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon. Synopsis: A cinema remake of the classic sitcom “Dad’s Army” (1968). The Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard platoon deal with a visiting female journalist and a German spy as World War II draws to its conclusion. Opens in theaters in the UK and the US on February 5, 2016.

Shanghai (2010 - long-delayed release!) Directed by Mikael Håfström. Written by Hossein Amini. Starring John Cusack, Gong Li, Chow Yun-Fat . Synopsis: A ‘40s period piece which revolves around an American expat who returns to Shanghai in the months before Pearl Harbor due to the death of his friend. Opens in US theaters on August 21, 2015.

A Tale of Love and Darkness (2015). Written and directed by Natalie Portman  (based Amos Oz’s memoir). Starring Natalie Portman, Makram Khoury, Shira Haas . Synopsis: A drama based on the memoir of Amos Oz, a writer, journalist, and advocate of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Release dates TBD.

The Forbidden Room (2015). Directed by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson. Written by  Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Robert Kotyk, John Ashbery, Kim Morgan . Starring Udo Kier , Roy Dupuis, Clara Furey, Louis Negin, Geraldine Chaplin, Charlotte Rampling. Synopsis: A never-before-seen woodsman mysteriously appears aboard a submarine that’s been trapped deep under water for months with an unstable cargo. As the terrified crew make their way through the corridors of the doomed vessel, they find themselves on a voyage into the origins of their darkest fears. Opens in the US in limited release on October 7, 2015.

Rocco and His Brothers (1960 - being re-released, new trailer). Written and directed by Luchino Visconti. Starring Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori, Annie Girardot . Synopsis: Having recently been uprooted to Milan, Rocco and his four brothers each look for a new way in life when a prostitute comes between Rocco and his brother Simone. US re-release dates TBD.

Trumbo (2015). Directed by Jay Roach. Written by John McNamara (based on the book by Bruce Cook). Starring Bryan Cranston, Elle Fanning, Diane Lane. Synopsis: The successful career of Hollywood screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, comes to an end when he is blacklisted in the 1940s for being a Communist. Opens in US theaters on November 6, 2015.

Men and Chicken (2015). Written and directed by Anders Thomas Jensen. Starring David Dencik, Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas . Synopsis: Men and Chicken is a black comedy about two outcast brothers, who by getting to know their unknown family also discover a horrible truth about themselves and their relatives. Release dates TBD.

The Transporter Refueled (2015). Directed by Camille Delamarre. Written by Bill Collage, (characters by Luc Besson). Starring Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson, Gabriella Wright . Synopsis: In the south of France, former special-ops mercenary Frank Martin enters into a game of chess with a femme-fatale and her three sidekicks who are looking for revenge against a sinister Russian kingpin. Opens in US theaters on September 4, 2015.

Life (2015). Directed by Anton Corbijn. Written by Luke Davies. Starring Joel Edgerton, Dane DeHaan, Robert Pattinson. Synopsis: A photographer for Life Magazine is assigned to shoot pictures of James Dean. Opens in the UK on September 25, 2015. Other release dates TBD.

Louder Than Bombs (2015). Directed by Joachim Trier (Ebertfest attendees from 2013 will remember the screening of Trier’s haunting “Oslo, August 31st”). Written by Joachim Trier , Eskil Vogt . Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Ryan, Rachel Brosnahan . Synopsis: The fractious family of a father and his two sons confront their different feelings and memories of their deceased wife and mother, a famed war photographer. Opens in Norway in November, 2015. Other release dates TBD.

Chevalier Athina (2015). Directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari. Written by Efthymis Filippou, Athina Rachel Tsangari. Starring Giannis Drakopoulos, Kostas Filippoglou, Yiorgos Kendros . Synopsis: In the middle of the Aegean Sea, six men on a fishing trip on a luxury yacht decide to play a game. During this game, things will be compared. Things will be measured. Songs will be butchered, and blood will be tested. Friends will become rivals and rivals will become hungry. But at the end of the journey, when the game is over, the man who wins will be the best man. And he will wear on his smallest finger the victory ring: the Chevalier. Release dates TBD.

About Ray (2015). Directed by Gaby Dellal. Written by Nikole Beckwith . Starring Naomi Watts, Elle Fanning, Susan Sarandon. Synopsis: A teenager transitions from female to male, and his family must come to terms with that fact. Opens in the US in limited release on September 18, 2015.

By the Sea (2015). Written and directed by Angelina Jolie. Starring Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Mélanie Laurent . Synopsis: Set in France during the mid-1970s, Vanessa, a former dancer, and her husband Roland, an American writer, travel the country together. They seem to be growing apart, but when they linger in one quiet, seaside town they begin to draw close to some of its more vibrant inhabitants, such as a local bar/café-keeper and a hotel owner. Opens in US theaters on November 13, 2015.

Fathers and Daughters (2015). Directed by Gabriele Muccino. Written by Brad Desch . Starring Amanda Seyfried, Aaron Paul, Diane Kruger. Synopsis: A Pulitzer-winning writer grapples with being a widower and father after a mental breakdown, while, 27 years later, his grown daughter struggles to forge connections of her own. Release dates TBD.

Deadpool (NSFW trailer. 2016). Directed by Tim Miller. Written by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick. Starring Morena Baccarin, Ryan Reynolds, Ed Skrein . Synopsis: A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers and adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Opens in US theaters on February 12, 2016.

Tim Burton’s “Vincent”

Sheila writes: In 1982, Tim Burton made a 6-minute animated film for Disney, featuring stop-motion, called “Vincent.” (This was only a couple of years before Burton’s major debut with “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.”) “Vincent” is a collaboration with the great Vincent Price, one of Tim Burton’s idols. Price does the narration. The short film also includes a tribute to Edgar Allan Poe. Check it out!

The Young Person’s Guide to Max von Sydow

Sheila writes: In honor of the latest cast member to join HBO’s “Game of Thrones”,’s very own Glenn Kenny has written a wonderful two-part essay over on It is called “The Young Person’s Guide to Max von Sydow.” You don’t have to be young to enjoy it, of course. Kenny goes through the actor’s dauntingly great filmography movie by movie. Kenny writes: “He’s … a genuine legend, a giant among actors of BOTH stage and screen, and the lean, severe face of several unforgettable characters in more than a handful of capital-G-Great movies, and a bunch of very good ones. In this and a subsequent post, please find an illuminating and, I promise, enjoyable primer to the work of this amazing actor.” Here are links to each essay:
The Young Person’s Guide to Max von Sydow, Part 1
The Young Person’s Guide to Max von Sydow, Part 2

Metropolitan” Turns 25

Sheila writes: It’s hard to believe that Whit Stillman’s strange and compelling comedy of manners “Metropolitan” is turning 25 years old! There’s a great interview with director Whit Stillman in BOMB Magazine about the film. Emily Buder at Indiewire has written an essay about “Metropolitan”, and its depiction of a bunch of socialites and their dates hanging out in formal wear, and why it still has such a hold on audiences. Roger Ebert wrote, in his 3-½ star review of “Metropolitan”, “[Stillman] has made a film Scott Fitzgerald might have been comfortable with, a film about people covering their own insecurities with a facade of social ease. And he has written wonderful dialogue, words in which the characters discuss ideas and feelings instead of simply marching through plot points as most Hollywood characters do.”
Here is the original trailer for “Metropolitan”:

The 20 Best Documentaries of 2015 (So Far)

Sheila writes: It’s already been a stunning year for documentaries, and Indiewire has compiled a list of the 20 best documentaries (so far). What have been your favorite documentaries of the year thus far?

Free Movies

Mr. Imperium (1951). Directed by Don Hartman. Starring Lana Turner, Ezio Pinza, Marjorie Main. Synopsis: A beautiful singer/dancer turned actress and playboy crown prince turned monarch have their clandestine romance interfered with by their changing circumstances.

Watch “Mr. Imperium.”

Three Came Home (1950). Directed by Jean Negulesco. Starring Claudette Colbert, Patric Knowles, Florence Desmond. Synopsis: The true story of Agnes Newton Keith’s imprisonment in several Japanese prisoner-of-war camps from 1941 to the end of WWII. Separated from her husband and with a young son to care for she has many difficulties to face.

Watch “Three Came Home.”

Meet the Boyfriend (1937). Directed by Ralph Staub. Starring Robert Paige, Carol Hughes, Warren Hymer . Synopsis: A heartthrob singer, Tony Paige decides to wed a Swedish actress. His manager doesn’t want this because he is afraid of Tony losing female fans so he takes up a $300,000 insurance policy if Tony does in fact wed. Tony soon meets a girl name June Delaney on a bus who doesn’t swoon over him like other girls.

Watch “Meet the Boyfriend.”

from All Content

#259 August 19, 2015

All Content, films

via topandamazing
#246: Departures (2008)

When and how did I watch this? August 22nd, 2015, on Amazon Prime. Had I seen this film already? No. What did I know about the movie before watching it? Another foreign film, this time Japanese; something to do with a cellist. What do I know about it now? One of the best films I’ve ever seen.  Several moments that demand contemplation and reflection, and while some of the customs demonstrated…

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Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling Continue to Be Our Ultimate Fantasy Couple: See Them on the Set of Their New Film!

Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling Continue to Be Our Ultimate Fantasy Couple: See Them on the Set of Their New Film!

Well, if it isn’t the world’s most adorable on-screen couple being their typically perfect selves! Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have just begun filming their next movie, La La Land, a musical romance set in L.A.. And naturally, the beautiful twosome could not look more fabulous in their retro-inspired costumes while on set on Wednesday, Aug. 19. PHOTOS: Emma’s best red carpet moments While filming…

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Chasing Amy • director Kevin Smith

Holden and Banky are creators of a comic book, and while on the convention circuit Holden becomes smitten with Alyssa - a fellow comic book creator who to Holden’s dismay is a lesbian. The two decide to forge a friendship and eventually Alyssa and Holden shock everyone by deciding to date.  However, no one in Holden of Alyssa’s circle seems able to accept their relationship and stress takes its toll.

There are some Kevin Smith movies I love, but for the most part I wouldn’t consider myself an avid Kevin Smith fan. However, what might be my favorite aspect of Kevin Smith and his films is that he is a card carrying geek and it shows in his work. The monologue in this film about Star Wars and Darth Vader is one of the most hysterical geek rants I’ve ever heard.

I also greatly appreciate that Smith can deliver poignant moments well. One of the best scenes in the film is the one in this video clip here, were Silent Bob sums up Holden’s emotional issue and the mistakes he’s about to make. I love that in the middle of a comedy emotion can still have it’s place.

Smith will always be a filmmaker that entertains and makes movies that are worth watching, and many would argue that Chasing Amy is his best film.

“15 months, 12 shows, uncountable memories, numerous new friends, 8 states, 2 best friends, 1 band… Hellyeah it’s time for a novel of a #FlashbackFriday

I did make a statement once that I wouldn’t post pictures of my face for anonymity reasons, but this is a clause in that statement. Some of the best moments in life are captured on film and I’m too proud of these moments not to showcase them. Back in May I made a novel post about celebrating a one year anniversary with Hellyeah. @estacina and I discovered them at RAF last year and we’ve been traveling to attend shows ever since. Here we are at 15 months and the love and respect I have for this band and their crew has only increased. Some things come into your life and completely change it for the better. A lot has happened in the last year but one of the highlights has always been seeing this band. I’ve always found it incredible to find something that encourages you to become a better person, to re-evaluate your outlook on life, and to change your way of thinking. I’ve overcome some of my biggest anxieties with the help of this band. I’ve learned to let go. I’m learning to live in the moment. I’m focusing on never making the same mistake twice because I’ve been handed unfathomable second chances. I’ve had so many "I Can’t Make My Life Up” stories that when I’m old and feeble, I’ll be a helluva hit in an assisted living facility. ;) Ha!

To tie it all in - none of this would have been possible without the Hellyeah guys and crew. They’re going into the studio after a tour overseas and at Shiley Acres we had a chance to speak from our hearts and say “Thank you for changing our lives. It’s been incredible.” Chad, Kyle, Tom, Brady, VP - thank you so much for all of the fucking amazing shows, the good times, the heavy metal therapy, for putting up with us showing up in random states ;) , and always showing nothing but respect and kindness towards us.
To the Hellyeah crew - especially @hellyeah_pking, Marcus, Jake, Jeff, Bri-Dog, and Luke - thank you for everything and treating us like part of the Hellyeah family. Love the Band, Respect the Crew!
Thank you the memories - and all the hugs!

See you next time!“ by @theafterlifedoctor on Instagram

I’m so sad bruh I actually liked Kate Mara as Sue Storm and Miles was really good at being a geeky ass nerd baby Reed and honestly the whole team was casted pretty well. The best moment of the whole film was the very end when they were joking about who got what part of the new lab and it was like WOW finally this film isn’t so emo!! But then it was over like 😒