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Non-Review Review: Runner Runner

Runner Runner feels like it should be a lot more fun than it winds up being. For a film about gambling, it lays the cards on the table pretty quickly. It’s a story about an ambitious young man who is offered wealth and success, only to eventually discover that the price is nothing less than his soul. As such, our plucky young hero has to keep all the plates spinning as the walls close in around him, trying to keep his head above water and the wolves from his door. There are, of course, other clichés I can throw in there, but these will do for now.

As such, Runner Runner isn’t about originality or insight, borrowing heavily from far better character studies and morality plays – even the casting of Justin Timberlake as a nerdy internet-savvy college student feels like a riff on his role in The Social NetworkRunner Runner is all about the execution of these familiar high concepts and plot points. Unfortunately, the movie never seems too invested in its stakes, or too engaged with the game it is playing. When the chips are down, Runner Runner can nothing but fold.

I want to believe this is the same look Ben Affleck had when reading the internet's response to Batffleck...

I want to believe this is the same look Ben Affleck had when reading the internet’s response to Batffleck…

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Trailer for Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom…

This has been doing the rounds for a few days, but I’m still quite excited for Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming HBO drama, The Newsroom. While I’m not quite as fond of The West Wing as most are, I’ll concede that the dialogue and characterisation of the first four seasons were almost flawless, and I’m a huge fan of Sorkin’s work on both The Social Network and Moneyball. Taking place inside a network news show, The Newsroom should allow Sorkin to explore the culture of news broadcasting, and should provide ample fodder for his superb cast. Seriously, look at it – you’ve got Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Alison Pill and Dev Patel. It’s starting on HBO in June, and I can only hope it’ll be coming to Sky Atlantic shortly thereafter for us Irish and UK television junkies.

This is getting added to the planner, even though I’m already well behind on the other shows I’m following (and trying to catch up on retroactively). Check out the trailer below.

Fresh Perspectives: Classic Directors and Not-so-Classic Films…

I caught Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety at the weekend, and I have to admit, I liked it. I’d only heard the movie mentioned in passing from time to time, never discussed with the same reverence as Space Balls or Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein, but never with the same bitterness as Dracula: Dead and Loving It. It never really made it on to any conscious “to see” list with any of the great works from iconic directors. However, I really enjoyed it. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t consider it a forgotten classic, or a misunderstood gem overlooked in Brooks’ impressive filmography. It has its flaws and problems, but I enjoyed it. In fact, while I wouldn’t consider on par with some of his stronger films, I dare say that I actually enjoyed it more than some of them, despite the fact I hadn’t heard that much about it. In fact, I can’t help but wonder if I enjoyed it more because I hadn’t heard that much about it.

High expectations can lead to monstrous results...

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5% Solution: Why the Oscars’ New First-Preference Rule is a Step in the Wrong Direction…

We’re officially out of the summer blockbuster season, which might lead you to believe that it was time for us film folk to have a bit of a rest. After all, we’ve been yammering on about “box office this” and “3D that” for quite some time now, and it makes sense we’d use the lull to compose ourselves. Of course, we can’t – it’s time to start Oscar-speculating. Because I’m situated in Ireland, there’s no point in me putting together a list of potential nominees, as it would just involve plagiarising countless individuals far more informed than myself. However, I have been thinking quite a bit about the latest amendment to the Academy’s infamous “ten nominees” amendment to their Best Picture nomination process: whereby every nominee will now be required to have at least 5% of the first preference votes. The more I think about it, the more I don’t like it.

Not quite the gold standard anymore?

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Non-Review Review: 30 Minutes or Less

This movie was seen as part of Movie Fest, the rather wonderful film festival organised by Vincent and everybody else over at movies.ie. It was well worth attending, and I’m already looking forward to next year. Good job all.

It’s kinda strange to watch 30 Minutes or Less. It’s an entertaining enough farce that is carried mainly by its superb primary cast, but it feels strange because the viewer gets the sense that the film might have worked better as a quirky caper film instead of a flat-out comedy. I enjoyed the movie, even if it wasn’t really in the same ballpark as Ruben Fleischer’s early film, Zombieland. I spent most of the movie with a smile on my face, rather than laughing out loud.

Banking on another great comedy...

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Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World: Oscars 2011

You know what? I’m not actually that ticked off with the Academy Awards this year. In fact, as I mentioned in discussing the nominees, I was quite happy with the candidates up for the award. Now, nearly a week after the ceremony, I must concede that I’m generally relatively happy with the way that the awards were divided up on the night. CinemaBlend summed up the ceremony as a “group hug” to movies released in a great year for cinema, and I find it hard to object to that succinct summary.

By all accounts, the hosting was a bit of a drag...

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GoSave Deals…

The guys over at Simply Zesty sent this link on, and it’s something close to my better half’s heart, so I thought I’d share it. Basically, GoSave.ie is a website that runs deals on Irish businesses, and donates a certain percentage of their costs back to charity. It’s a very handy way of supporting the local economy, which is – understandably – a source of concern for many people in this day and age. If you’re Irish, and interested in this, you can check them out on Facebook here or by clicking the link below.

Note: I am sharing this link because I think it’s the kind of thing that might be important people viewing the blog, and I know that supporting local industry matters to some people very close to me in my personal life. I’m not earning or receiving anything in return for this post, nor does it represent a direct endorsement of the service – I’m merely sharing something that some readers might find interesting. It’s unfortunate that this sort of thing needs to be clarified, but it’s important that I am open and transparent with you, the reader, on why I post a link to a corporate website.