The Expendables 2

Director: Simon West

Notable Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Liam Hemsworth, Randy Couture, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Nan Yu

Rating: R

Review:  Longest.  Casting.  List.  Ever.  Jeez, I think I ran my word count out already just listing every action star Stallone could convince to pop in for a quick gun fight.

So here we are, reviewing a film with quite possibly the greatest action hero line-up in history.  There’s no doubt The Expendables 2 was set up for glory, but with so much hype surrounding nothing but nostalgic casting choices, one had to be nervous proper due diligence would be done as well to support the local talent.  The Expendables itself left much to be desired, but that was the past baby.  The Expendables 2 was everything I wanted and more, being nothing but enjoyable blockbuster fun served via heaping helpings of testosterone exploiting fun, fully embracing the B-Movie action genre and going for nothing but balls to the wall action.  Director Simon West (Con Air/The Mechanic) proved and invaluable resource in setting up extravagant shoot outs and pummeling fight scenes, challenging Con Air for silly ensemble cast beat-em up glory.  Every minute outdid the last, every explosion out blew the previous, every punch packed a harder whallop…you get my drift.  The Expendables 2 is hands down summer 2012’s quintessential blockbuster hit, providing unmitigated entertainment no soul can deny.  Even just thinking back on the film, I feel like someone just injected me with a syringe full of raw red meat, crushed up dumbbells, a fully lit cigar, and the blood of John f#cking Wayne himself.  The Expendables 2 is nothing but an action-gasm of epic proportions.  Think that quote will make the DVD cover?

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NNWIJ: Don’t Go Into The Woods (2012)

Director: Vincent D’Onofrio

Notable Cast: Matt Sbeglia, Jorgen Jorgensen, Soomin Lee, Casey Smith

Rating: R

Review:  Well we certainly don’t get a plethora of musical slashers films (or smasher films as I should call this one), but actor Vincent D’Onofrio has decided to give it a whirl.  Filmed on his own woodland property in Woodstock, NY, the D’Onofrio scripted/Sam Bisbee scored Don’t Go Into The Woods awaited my viewing until the free option on Netflix became available, and for good reason.  With a cast of unknowns and a sledgehammer wielding stalker, there’s not much to love about the tongue in cheek self aware musicians who foolishly ignore the title of their own movie.

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NNWIJ: Deep Red (1975)

Director: Dario Argento

Notable Cast:  David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia

Rating: R

Review:  Ok, I know I’m about to commit horror fan blasphemy, but after watching Dario Argento’s Suspiria, the word “underwhelmed” rolled off my tongue.  I know, I know, Argento was a huge influence on the genre and a classical genius, but I was expecting so much more.  Be it outdated effects, shoddy audio quality, and general lacking in intensity, I wasn’t hooked.  But when my favorite horror website Bloody Disgusting released a list of movies that every horror fan has to see, you’re damned right I made it my mission to check off every single one, because I scored embarrassingly low for a cinema fan who brags the horror genre as his most knowledgable.  I realized my shortcomings existed in old school horror though, and with Deep Red right on my Netflix Watch Instantly menu, I decided to revisit Argento’s work and start my horrific journey.  It’s a good thing too, because Deep Red gave Argento new life in my eyes, peaking my interest and readying me to power through his entire collection.

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Ted

Director: Seth MacFarlane

Notable Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi, Patrick Stewart

Rating: R

Review:  Seth MacFarlane’s big screen debut was only a matter of time, but the question at least on this critic’s mind pondered if the boundary pushing funny man could break away from “Family Guy” fame.  So in order to do so, it only figures he starts with a smart talking teddy bear that sounds exactly like Peter Griffin.  Great.  After watching the first trailer all my brain could process was “Peter Griffin has turned into a talking stuffed animal and Ted will be nothing more than an hour and a half long episode of “Family Guy” itself.”  And you know what?  Ted was freaking hilarious.  I’m a huge “Family Guy” fan myself, MacFarlane’s humor is right up my alley, and Ted is a raunch romp into the sick and twisted mind of Seth MacFarlane himself.  In the immortal words of Arizona Cardinal’s coach Dennis Green – “Ted was who we thought it was!”

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NNWIJ: Cold Fish (2010)

Director: Shion Sono

Notable Cast: Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Asuka Kurosawa, Denden

Rating: R

Review:  Dude, Japanese cinema is some crazy stuff but man can they command a story infused with demented fun despite running over two hours.  Cold Fish delves into the crazy underground game of tropical fish sales…yes apparently there is a seedy backstory in Japan for this market…and follows lowly store owner Mr. Syamoto (Fukikoshi) as he’s taken under the wing of superstore rival store owner Mr. Murata (Denden).

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NNWIJ: Atrocious (2010)

Director: Fernando Barreda Luna

Notable Cast: Cristian Valencia, Clara Moraleda, Chus Pereiro

Rating: R

Review: 2011’s answer to cult hit Paranormal Activity?  Now THAT’S Atrocious.  See what I did there?  C’mon Bloody Disgusting Selects, you’re better than this.  One of the first movies supported by BDS, Atrocious boldly goes where every hack director trying to capitalize on the whole first person camera fad has already ventured.

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NNWIJ: Battle Royale (2000)

Director: Kinji Fukasaku

Notable Cast: Takeshi Kitano, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda

Rating: UR

Review:  Took long enough for Kinji Fukasaku’s hauntingly engrossing “fight to the death” picture to be freely distributed in the US.  Of course, I did whatever I could years ago to get my hands on a copy of Battle Royale, but it’s time all those Hunger Games groupies bow down to a superior pint-sized royal rumble flick.  You think Katniss and Peeta had it rough?  How about putting an explosive time limit on The Hunger Games, making all the competitors school room friends, ramping up weaponry, and having the games represent an all too horrifically sensible way to compensate for overpopulation?

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Men In Black 3

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

Notable Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alice Eve, Bill Hader, Will Arnett

Rating: PG-13

Review:  Another year, another month, another week, another un-original remake/reboot/unnecessary sequel cash-in.  So here again, ten years after the last attempt, yet another franchise attempts to be reborn for monetary gain.  Men In Black II warranted no sequel, and such a large gap never yields beneficial results.  Damn the man and his greedy pockets!  Fight the machine and support original cinema!!  Or crumble like I did and go see Men In Black 3 anyway, eating away my shame with a jumbo popcorn slathered in buttery yellow goo.  If you’re going to sell out, might as well go all the way, eh?  Yes, I’m just as much part of the problem as I am proclaimer of truths.  But yet I sat through Men In Black 3 smirking, then chuckling, then laughing?  Am I enjoying myself?  Could this be?  Did Men In Black 3 break the trend of re-incarnations better left dead?  I would say so, considering Sonnenfeld’s three-qual might in fact be the best Men In Black yet.  Both Agents J and K aged like a fine wine, and the introduction of Josh Brolin as youthful K offered a bold new take on a familiar alien world.  Not just aliens, but time traveling aliens threatening history as we know it!  I get a little excited for nostalgic pieces like this, curious how directors will spin the past and enjoy famous cameos as celebrities mimic personalities from the past.  But hey, that treat might just be for me.  The real treat?  Actually liking MIB3.  No mind erasing neuralizer needed after either!

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Monster Brawl

Director: Jesse T. Cook

Notable Cast: Dave Foley, Art Hindle, Lance Henriksen, Jimmy Hart, Kevin Nash, Robert Maillet, Herb Dean

Rating: UR

Review:  Holy mother of the horror gods sent to deliver us from B-Movie heaven, a fake wresting tournament featuring all the old school classic scare monsters?  How couldn’t this slugfest rule?!  Well, I’ll get to that actually, but Monster Brawl‘s idea rules in theory.  Of course an indie horror couldn’t procure the rights for big name baddies like Freddy and Jason to participate in this horrific battle royale,  but f$ck if they could unearth “Mouth from the South” Jimmy Hart from the dead.  Could you ask for much more nostalgic wrestling fun?  Producer/actor John Geddes involvement sparked my interest just having watched his beautiful zombie drama Exit Humanity, but made prevalent was the fact that Jesse T. Cook single handedly laid the rules for Monster Brawl.  For an event of terrifying proportions, Monster Brawl lacked a cohesive story and was a gimmick watch directed at die-hard horror fans, banking audiences would flock to see who would hoist the belt for “Most Violent Creature of all Time.”  Monster Brawl is the equivalent of turning on Pay Per View to Halloween Havoc and watching Frankenstein lumber out instead of Booker T, complete with a clichéd announcing team and time-wasting introductions.  But even the WWE tries to build some drama, be it comparable to watching a ‘roid raging soap opera, more than I can say for Monster Brawl.  Fantastic on paper, but translated to screen Cook’s B-Movie gets stuck dangerously close to tapping out.

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Jeff Who Lives At Home

Director: Jay Duplass/Mark Duplass

Notable Cast: Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon, Judy Greer, Rae Dawn Chong, Steve Zissis

Rating: R

Review:  Championing the “Mumblecore” movement are the Duplass brothers,  striking awkwardly again with Jeff Who Lives At Home.  But what is “Mumblecore” you may ask?  No worries, enlightenment to follow.  “Mumblecore” stands for a certain type of filmmaking featuring typically amateur casts and low budgets, focusing on “naturalistic” dialogue aka everyday conversation.  All is true for Jeff Who Lives At Home except the whole amateur acting detail, as the Duplass brother’s domination of “Mumblecore” now attracts actors like Jason Segel and Ed Helms to participate within a genre providing realism over fantasy.  It’s funny because I’m an advocate of the idea movies are supposed to transport us out of reality and somewhere new, yet a whole genre exists simply telling it how it is.  When done right, these average joe flicks remain just as entertaining as their made up counter parts.  But when done wrong, man they bomb.  Do audiences really want to watch actors play out their most mundane actions, or relive days better forgotten?  Lucky, the Duplass brothers balance Jeff Who Lives At Home with equal parts entertainment and truthfully harsh story telling.  Another genre film that won’t resonate similarly between all, but the Duplass brothers create relatable characters and plausible scenarios commenting on our bland daily lives.  And that, my friends, is wonderful “Mumblecore.”

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