Author: Travis Losh

Fading Gigolo

Overview: Murray, a broke old man, devises a plan to make some cash. Antidote Films; Rated R; 90 min. Standard: John Turturro has built a reputation as one of the best character actors out there. I have long thought that this is exactly what he deserves: a large scale, leading role. If nothing else, being the most reliable and solid piece in the early Coen films warrants the opportunity.  Turturro taking the helm as the director/co-lead actor (he plays Fioravante) for this film caused an initial influx of prejudiced love on my end, and it took a little while...

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Makin’ a Sport of it: Directors Appearing in their own Films

The master of many things, Alfred Hitchcock (or AH, as I like to call him when buzzed on Hitchcock day) might be most famous to the general public for his cameos in his own films. From a bus rider (his most common manifestation), to a pedestrian for a stroll, he would find a way to appear in the smallest part possible. We’re celebrating his birthday pretty hard today (Hitchcock Day is like Cinco De Mayo for snooty cinephiles), so we are going to take it one step farther and have a look at directors who also like to cameo...

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Running Wild for Sixty Years, Brother: The Five Best Hulk Hogan Cameos

Today, brother, we’re gonna take a trip through the acting career of Hulk Hogan. Hulkster rips through movie cameos the way his 24 inch pythons ripped through the WWF. Hulkamania got its start in the squared circle, but Hogan always had his eye on the silver screen.  To celebrate his 60th birthday, I’ve listed  his top 5… well, not necessarily good, but his top 5 appearances on the big screen, brothers!  So, grab your vitamins and say a prayer because whatcha gonna do when Hulkamania on the silver screen run’s wild on you! 5. Rocky III I wonder what the writers/producers where...

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Five Underrated Animated Films You Need to Watch

  Guys, I love a good animated film, but often, as my colleague Josh Rosenfield established yesterday, many of the best ones are under-appreciated.  Ask anyone under the age of forty about their favorite animated films:  the Toy Story series, The Lion King, Spirited Away, familiar classics are the first to come to mind. And yes, these standard, well-known films bring tons of joy to viewers and have their spots amongst the greats. But, with a deeper look you can find films that offer much, much more. Let’s take a look at the top 5 most underrated. 5. South Park:...

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Enemy

Overview: A man looks to speak to his exact lookalike after spotting him in a film. Roxbury Pictures; 2013; Rated R; 90 min Complex:  Film can do a lot of things. It can tell a story that inspires, lead people to think, motivate , change lives… and much, much more.  Director Denis Villeneuve understands the power and influence film has on its audience as proven with his films Incendies and Prisoners. Enemy stands as proof not just of Villeneuve’s understanding of the capability of film, but of his assurance that he can stretch those boundaries. This film offers a complex...

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DVD Review: Open Grave

Overview: A man wakes up on a pile of dead bodies with no memory. After escaping, he breaks into a house where he meets others in the same situation. Atlas Independent; Rated R; 102 min. Knowing: Director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego (Apollo 18…ha) clearly did not realize the potential of the script in front of him. The story unfolds in similar fashion to the Resident Evil series (the groundbreaking videogame, not the terrible movies), a favorite of mine. But, largely, Lopez-Gallego and crew simply missed the mark here – not only in the naming of the film but the focus.  More seasoned hands...

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Snowpiercer

Overview: A large group of survivors board a train after a global warming experiment kills off most of the world’s population. Opus Pictures; 2014 Rated R; 126 min. Direction: Joon-Ho Bong is one of the best directors in the world today.  With a track record that showcases films like Mother and The Host, fans of the Korean director have come to expect high quality from each of his features. Well, what I didn’t expect from Snowpiercer is something this damn fun. On paper, this film seems shallow. A dystopian future where everyone is trapped on a train after some scientists...

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Big Budget Buffoonery: Who Wins When Directors Get the Boot?

Last week, news broke that Marvel Studios had split with Director Edgar Wright, and the director was removed from the Ant-Man project over creative differences (ahembullshitahem).  It has been speculated that Marvel (read Disney), tyrannical and hungry for more power and money, wanted Wright’s name and not his vision. We’ll never know for sure what movie we missed out on because of the auteur’s departure.  It hurts already to think about.  But it is not an incident without precedent. With that said I have decided to explore other examples of combatant directorial changes over the years to determine how, historically, this sort of break up pans out. Superman II – Richard Donner Vs. Ilya Salkinds The Story: On the backs of  the Salkind’s and Warner Bros. Production in 1977, Richard Donner began shooting two films at one time, Superman and Superman II (now more commonly known as “The Peter Jackson”). This proved to be too much to balance and production was halted on the second film. Well, after the first film was finished, Salkind, like a regular swindling villain, decided that, even though 85% of Superman II had already been shot, he would hand the reigns (and directing credit) over to Richard Lester. Lester then re-shot portions of the film to weight his credit. Salkind desired a film that was  “more campy” and I guess Donner was spending cash...

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Million Dollar Arm

Overview: A down-on-his-luck sports agent recruits players from India via a well thought out competition. Walt Disney Pictures; Rated PG; 124 min A solid mix: As we’ve come to expect from Disney produced sports films, this movie does a lot right when it comes to feel good movie tricks. Where it stands out the the most, however, is its surprising blend of the Bollywood style with Hollywood tradition. Combining these styles can be a tricky proposition. Both offer a very different definition of “flashy.”  Here the flashy, musically-toned Bollywood style provides a relieving break from the paint-by-the-numbers familiarity that can weight...

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Choosing My Future…From Sci-Fi Movies!

Intro So, as I wind down this educational path I’m on, I thought maybe it would be a good idea to seek some guidance for my next few steps in life (or at least, that’s what my parole officer suggested).  I scheduled an appointment with my college adviser last week and he sat me down and presented it to me plainly.  “Travis, you’ve got to find the future that works best for you.”  The advice hit me hard, but I realized:  he’s got a great point.  I don’t know if we’re on the same page, though… But, here’s how...

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The Ten Worst Athletic Performances by Good Actors

Introduction Before I was a small-time movie writer, I was a high school athlete, believe it or not.  I love sports and I love movies.  And I can say with some degree of certainty that these two worlds should not ever intersect.  There have been some delightfully atrocious performances by big name actors in movies about sports.  Hey, don’t get me wrong, you don’t want to see my point guard teammate perform a soliloquy, either.  Hand my halfback a movie camera and all you’ll get in return is some high grade shirtless mirror selfies.  These two worlds just don’t...

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Draft Day

Overview: It’s Draft Day in Cleveland and General Manager Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) is doing his best to bring a Super Bowl back to the city. Summit Entertainment; Rated R; 109 Minutes. The Bad:  Phone conversations are displayed through an odd and off-putting split screen technique , segmenting the action into boxes.  The application of this technique  makes the film feel like a labored trip through a comic book, featuring Roger Goodell as the super hero 87% of the time. All I could think of the whole time was Spider Man 3… Yeah, Spider Man 3 (the bad one)....

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Pompeii

Overview: “Oh, look, a volcano! Lets build our city there, then try to be Rome. Hopefully Paul W.S. Anderson doesn’t make us look really stupid in 2014. Boom! Ruuuuun!”–– The People of Pompeii (probably). Tristar Pictures/Filmdistrict; 2014; Rated PG-13; 105 minutes. A Whole Bunch of Shit: This movie is so constipated it hurts. The whole mess is painful and pointless. I can’t imagine the amount of time and money wasted here without getting stomach cramps. Anderson tries to flex his creative muscle but damn… does he fail miserably. First off: he had to borrow the back-story from one of...

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Lone Survivor

Overview: On the hunt for an al Qaeda operative, a team of Navy SEALS find themselves in a fight for their lives. 2013; Rated R; 121 minutes An American Point: I know, as a civilian, I could never understand the psychological effects brought on by the harsh reality of war, and this film gave me a glimpse. But the film’s brand of patriotism seems a bit superficial, calculated.  It is a manipulative demonstration, a disservice to the lives of these real life fallen heroes who never deserved to be utilized as marketing ploys under the false premise of artistic pursuit. The Problem: By presenting us with real shots of seals banding together, and later by displaying their open willingness to put themselves in danger, Lone Survivor succeeds only in showing us the brutal murders of these brave soldiers rather than showing us who they were as men. Director Peter Berg (The Kingdom, Hancock) was more focused on how they died as he inelegantly depicts the sad end of each soldier. The shocking slaughter of Axe (Ben Foster) is particularly jarring.  We see Axe roll against a tree, his final effort for survival.   An enemy pulls up his rifle and shoots.  The bullet takes Axe in the forehead. His lifeless battered body falls and lies against the tree.  It leaves us shattered. Imagine being the family members of that specific...

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Frances Ha

  Overview: From the minds of Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig comes this quirky “comedy” that follows Frances (Gerwig), an aimless apprentice who lacks dance skill but understudies and teaches at a dance studio. 2013; Rated R; 86 Minutes. The Blunder: What the hell is wrong with Frances. Frances.  Oh, Frances The weird, slow-minded, socially-challenged title character. She struggles with every aspect of her life and lies to everyone around (including herself. After turning down the opportunity to move in with her boyfriend to appease her roommate Sophie (Mickey Sumner), Frances returns home to find out that Sophie is moving out. Left alone Frances shacks up with some equally, dull pretentious characters. The movie continues in this direction as Frances’s life grows more and more pathetic.  The dreary dialogue and self-absorbed, emotionless characters she encounters along the way will bore viewers unconscious. Her friends are annoying and her roommates are infuriating. From struggling “artists” with rich parents and no rent responsibility to the boring and over-opinionated, Frances’s social circle places her problems in a contextualized frame.  Having to hang out with these types of people seems measurably more difficult than not getting a part in the dance recital.  And when her friends do offer help, it seems an empty gesture with no companionship. Everything about this feels shallow and contrived and I have to wonder if the presentation of...

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