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116. Green Book – This Just In (#170)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, This Just In is a subset of The 250 podcast, looking at notable new arrivals on the list of the 250 best movies of all-time, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Peter Farrelly’s Green Book.

At time of recording, it was ranked 170th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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56. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (#16)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This time, Miloš Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

To avoid prison on a statutory rap charge, charming misfit Randle McMurphy secures a transfer to a low-security psychiatric ward for evaluation. What initially seems like a cunning plan to serve out the rest of his sentence in more soothing surroundings quickly evolves into a battle of wits for the hearts and souls of the hospital’s residents.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 16th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: Home Again

Home Again is an attempt at a classic screwball comedy where anything resembling a hard edge has been softened to a smooth felt.

Writer and director Hallie Meyers-Shyer is clearly hoped to construct an old-school Hollywood farce, centring on a relatively recently singled mother who finds her world turned upside down when three handsome young strangers move into her guest house down the end of her garden. Naturally, Alice Kinney cannot anticipate how quickly these three young aspiring film makers will disrupt her family life, but the situation quickly escalates in a relatively unthreatening manner.

Home Again has a solid premise and a charmingly committed performance from Reese Witherspoon, but the movie feels far too gentle to really work. There is something strangely bloodless about Home Again, which means that the movie often struggles to get its own pulse racing. There is a sense that Home Again is far too worried about the possibility of offending anyone, even its own characters. Home Again is a film full of selfish, shortsighted and manipulative characters, but it never allows them to embrace those qualities in a way that might threaten the happy ending.

Home Again feels far too comfortable in itself to really work.

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The X-Files – Hollywood A.D. (Review)

This September, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the seventh season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Harsh Realm.

And now as we drift off the laughing agents and back to the graveyard , we see the Lazarus Bowl lying discarded beneath a tree.

A SWITCH, a broken tipped branch of the tree gets blown by the fan’s wind force down toward the plastic grooves of the replica as we move down toward it, we can read a “MADE IN ISRAEL” sticker on its bottom – the branch reaching toward the plastic,  like a woman’s arms to her lover —

Close on the splintered wood making contact on the colored plastic like a phonograph needle on vinyl —

And now MUSIC COMES UP – scratchy like an old record, the fourth track from BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB, in a superior interpretation rendered by Mark Snow, called “PUEBLO NUEVO” – a beautiful stately cha cha instrumental —

We pull back wide as APPARITIONS appear to rise from their graves, rotting, but standing at atte ntion and then —

When the music kicks in, they begin to dance, all of them, in the round – dignified, changing partners… we hear the bones creaking, we see the gentlemanly half skulls smiling…

And now by the magic of Bill Millar & Co., the GREEN SCREEN becomes the rest of a HUGE GRAVEYARD with corpses dancing  stately and dignified upon it as we begin a slow pull out to a heavenly perspective…

This is what life’s about. This is what the dead would do if only they could. As we slowly fade to black, the band plays on.

And we end.

 – David Duchovny takes his bow

Everything ends.

Everything ends.

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Non-Review Review: Entourage

Entourage is surprisingly inoffensive.

It has been four years since HBO’s showbiz comedy went off the air. In many respects, Entourage feels like a class reunion – even to somebody unfamiliar with the source material. There is a lot of affection here, no real sense of tension or stress. Everybody is perfectly comfortable, and the entire film has the feeling of something that everybody involved has been doing for quite some time. Anything that looks like a rough edge has been smoothed off, so the film glides along without any meaningful obstruction.

All at sea...

All at sea…

Entourage is not a great film on its own terms. However, it is not trying to be. Instead, it feels like an affectionate slice of nostalgia. It is telling that most of the cameos in the film tend to nod towards older actors and audiences. At one point, Johnny “Drama” Chase reflects that he was cast in the table read of The West Wing and he finds himself competing for roles against David Faustino of Married With Children. Faustino is just one cast member of Married With Children to cameo. Entourage feels familiar and safe, and entirely comfortable with those attributes.

The result is a functional cinematic adaptation for a show that probably did not need one. The stakes in Entourage never feel particularly high, the characters never seem particularly worried. It seems like Entourage was produced in the same way that it was intended to be enjoyed – in a rather relaxed and cordial fashion, without any real verve or energy.

Going for Gold...

Going for Gold…

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Non-Review Review: Electric Boogaloo – The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015.

There is a lot of affection on display in Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films.

Sure, it’s the kind of affection that comes qualified with awkward laughter and wry self-aware sarcasm, but it seems like a lot of the participants in this documentary exploring the eventful life of the infamous film studio are pleasantly surprised that the ride lasted as long as it did. If there is one big recurring motif throughout the film, it is sheer wonderment at how the studio managed to continue operating – churning out questionable film after questionable film. There are commentators who seem in awe at the factory-like conditions of the studio.

americanninja

To be fair, Electric Boogaloo does afford a platform to those commentators with legitimate grievances against the studio. Writers lament the changes that their scripts went through, actors make observations about questionable choices made by directors, partners observe the difficulty of dealing with material churned out by the studio. More than one commentator offers their own crude impression of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. However, most of these observations come from a place of mild bemusement or open awe at what the studio got away with doing.

Writer and director Mark Hartley covers an impressive amount of material in his documentary, even if it suffers a bit from lack of focus. There is an incredible energy and sense of fun about the whole project – acknowledging that Golan and Globus had a tremendous influence on how the movie industry currently works, without romanticising their process. Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is a fascinating watch for any film fan.

cannonfilms

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Non-Review Review: Birdman (or, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Birdman is a staggeringly cynical piece of work.

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s showbusiness satire has its knives out from the opening sequence, and never puts them away. It is a movie that is relentlessly snarky and bitter about just about any facet of the artistic process. The movie seldom pulls its punches, lawing into its targets with a vengeance. There are points where it almost seems too much, where it feels like Iñárritu might be better served to pull back or ease off for a moment as the film becomes just a little bit too much.

Showtime!

Showtime!

Then again, Iñárritu turns the film’s relentlessness into a visual motif, structuring Birdman as one long unbroken take. This structure is only slightly disingenuous. While there are any number of “cheats” that allow Birdman to stitch together multiple takes, the end result is still a hugely ambitious and impressive piece of work. Even viewers as cynical as the film itself may find themselves marvelling at some of the incredibly fluid transitions and extended sequences. Birdman‘s anger might occasionally come close to suffocating, but its energy is infectious.

That is to say nothing of the performance at the centre of the film, with Michael Keaton playing a washed-up has-been celebrity desperately (and pathetically) fighting for artistic credibility after a career spent in blockbuster cinema. One of the more interesting aspects of Birdman is that it seems just as dismissive of the attempts at artistic rehabilitation as it does of the original “sell out” work. Birdman is a wry, clever and vicious piece of work. It is also a phenomenal accomplishment.

You wouldn't like him when he's angry...

You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry…

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