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movie podcast

The Pestle Movie Podcast

The Pestle is a new movie podcast hosted by Wes Evans who is a director, writer, and actor, along with Todd Sapio who is an actor, producer, and musician. Together, they review films and look to provide interesting tidbits and insights into the filmmaking process.

Sometimes they find a particularly interesting theme to discuss, or a camera technique being used in a clever way. For instance, in the movie Warrior they do a deep dive into the various techniques used to immerse the audience in the world of the film and that represent the various relationship arcs taking place throughout the movie. In Wonder Woman they analyze the ways that feminism is represented as well as the visual effects.

As far as movie podcasts go, this is one of the best film podcasts around and very much worth the time to listen and appreciate that they stay on topic instead of riffing on irrelevant things that have nothing to do with the movie they’re covering, because they have so much to say on any given movie you never feel like you’ve wasted your time listening to each new episode. I highly recommend The Pestle Movie Podcast!

Here are a few of my favorite episodes for you to listen to:

Interstellar:

Warrior:

Guardians of the Galaxy 2:

“The Boys Are Back” Movie Review

“The Boys Are Back” is a tender view of a hurting family, this film is a jewel of acting, photography and story. Based on a true story, this follows Joe Carr (Clive Owen) who has recently lost his wife, and now he needs to connect with his son while juggling work and another son from his previous marriage. The tagline says it all, “Growing up can be the adventure of a lifetime.”

Why you’ll like this:
Great simple family-drama, if you enjoy movies like “Hearts in Atlantis” or “October Sky” then this should be up your alley.

The acting is absolutely flawless, and I cannot think of a single role that went flat at any point. Clive Owen continues to show his brilliance as a character missing his wife and learning to be a father. He’s astoundingly genuine in his anger, frustration, love and determination. Having such a lead must have made it easier on everyone else, but that does not diminish how fantastic and nuanced every character shines on-screen. Nicholas McAnulty and George MacKay play the sons, the latter being 6 years older, and their chemistry is magical yet they bring stark differences to the table, one being a wild-child, the other being a sensitive introvert in need of father. Simply outstanding performances, I may go as far to say that “performance” is a cheap word when describing it, they simply felt real and honest. The entire cast (including Emma Booth, Laura Fraser, Julia Blake, EVERYONE) sunk me straight into the story and moment, as true a compliment as any actor can receive.

Acting can go unusable if not filmed properly, but director Scott Hicks was perfect in his execution. The entire film lived in this higher floating moment, kind of a nostalgic memory ranging from forlorn and yearning to feeling the sunlight hit on a cold autumn day. The music played right into these still-life moments using light acoustic guitar strumming in a melancholic direction. Even after the credits rolled it was hard to turn it off, beautiful music. In this regard it reminded me much of “Garden State”, where the music serves to really underscore the drama and fill this resonating undertone to everything happening.

Why you won’t like this:
No deeper subplots worth mentioning, this is a straight forward drama.

The story itself remains rather simple in nature, but I think the best dramas live in simplistic narrative so as to leave room for the emotional journey of its characters. While I’m not a huge feel-good story kind of guy, this movie seemed to teeter between heart-felt indie drama and mainstream drama, but it never sells out and never extorts your emotions. Clive Owen made me sit down to watch, but the collaborative effort made me want to revisit this underseen film.

4 out of 5 stars.

Starring: Clive Owen, Emma Booth, Laura Fraser, George McKay, Nicholas McAnulty
Director: Scott Hicks
Genre: Drama
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hr. 44 min.
Release Date: November 6, 2009

“Waiting for Superman” Movie Review

"Waiting for Superman" movie poster“Waiting for Superman” is a passionate documentary about five kids, from very different backgrounds, who are relying on a broken education system to kick their lives off on the right foot. While this is a film that dives into the world of our public schools, it really is centered around how it all plays into the lives of these children, so ultimately director Davis Guggenheim allows us to draw our own conclusions, but the writing is certainly on the wall. The system is broken, but it isn’t hopeless.

Why you’ll like this:
Expertly made documentary; very interesting view of the education system; the kid’s are amazing

There’s a lot of nooks and crannies this film shines a light on, many of which I was not previously familiar. I was very pleased though that this was not a partisan documentary effort, it felt natural to lay the blame at both parties, because everyone elected seems to promise that it’s time to fix our education system, and yet we remain stagnant. One of the bigger shocks to me was the notion that this isn’t necessarily a socio-economic problem either, in the public school system everyone seems to be about evenly affected.

My favorite section of film revolved around the Harlem Children’s Zone founder Geoffrey Canada, who gives us the movie’s namesake. If nothing else can be said about this documentary, I think it’s well laid before our eyes that there’s a lot of very passionate people who have the desire to see the children of our country receive a great education, and Mr Canada is certainly a champion of this notion. He believes so thoroughly that kids anywhere in our country can learn and keep up no matter their background, that he decided to take on one of the hardest sections in our country, Harlem, and has been wildly successful proving that it isn’t about a child’s ability to learn, but rather the expectations we place on them.

I can only find one small nitpick of an issue in this excellent documentary, and it’s that I was hoping for a look into different styles of education. Not in terms of “let’s teach them songs to help with math”, but more of a dive into the very roots of our education style. I’ve always heard that our school system was born to teach us to be good factory workers, “do a task until the bell rings, then start a new task…”, and I was hoping to see or learn more about where our philosophic approach to education came from, and if there were other ways to teach rather than just relying on good ol’ Science, Math & English for a few hours every day.

Why you won’t like this:
You care neither for learning (ironic) or for documentaries period.

But again, the focus of this movie more than anything was about the kids, who are in the middle of a system so wrecked by teacher’s unions and bureaucratic nightmares that their biggest hope rests in winning the education lottery, where they’ll get to attend one of the coveted charter schools. There’s so much information here that alone warrants a viewing, but there’s tons of heart and hope, and it’s bound to stir up passion. I would beg anyone to watch “Waiting for Superman”, because a well-informed group of people will understand that it’s in our best interest to have an educated youth for a whole host of reasons, but why they aren’t getting the best education is something we all need to seek to understand, and this film is a great step in that direction.

4 out of 5 stars.

Director: Davis Guggenheim
Genre: Documentary
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hr. 42 min.

“The American” Movie Review

"The American" movie poster“The American” is riveting in the most unexciting of ways, but riveting nonetheless. The most recent film that this reminds me of is Polanski’s “Ghost Writer”, which I thought was only okay, but I feel like “The American” was fantastic in its retro-execution (no pun intended). However, this is certainly one film that’s like a fine wine, you certainly need to have the palette in order to appreciate it.

Why you’ll like this:
Slow methodical pacing; great cinematography; excellent acting; character-driven plot

George Clooney plays Jack, an assassin hiding out in Italy waiting for the dirt from his last job to shake itself out while also taking on his final assignment. Posing as a photographer he attempts to keep his presence minimal, after he puts together the weapon for a cooperating hit-man he fully intends to leave behind this life.

This is not an action movie, but oddly, there may actually more bullets fired than words spoken. No prologue, no epilogue and no exposition, everything you need to know is written on Clooney’s face. With such a remarkable lack of information it may be easy to write the acting off as simple furrowing of the brow, but if that’s the case then it’s the best brow furrowing I’ve seen in some time. Clooney is absolutely magnetic, there’s a weighted presence to everything he does on-screen, the life of a hit-man is ripe with regret and solitude. Both of which never goes unnoticed thanks to fantastic pacing, score, cinematography and of course acting.

“The American” was brilliantly shot, making complete use of the Italian backdrop. Not a lot of steadicam usage, instead opting for more classic filmmaking, using set shots allowing people to enter and leave the frame rather than tracking with them. It becomes a very stark contrast in mindset when there’s a transition from peace to danger-mode, really great storytelling through photography.

Why you won’t like this:
Not an action film, no explosions or dead bodies flying everywhere.

A graceful film that never rushes towards anything you cannot predict, in this way it feels like a relic dusted off from an AMC vault. However, if you’re wanting something closer to “Syriana” or “Bourne Identity” then this is the wrong locale to post up for, you may be better catching “Machete” or “The Expendables”, there’s far too much nuance in “The American” to be confused with any of those movies. However, if you’re in the mood for something contemplative, then there are subtle thrills to be enjoyed in “The American”.

4 out of 5 stars.

Starring: George Clooney, Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten
Director: Anton Corbijn
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hr. 43 min.
Release Date: September 1, 2010

“The Last Exorcism” Film Review

“The Last Exorcism” ultimately fails to deliver the promise of a very simple premise, instead it decides to exercise my wallet. It’s not that there isn’t a good setup, because there is. It’s not that there’s no compelling characters, because there are. It really boils down to re-hashing old “Blair Witch” ideas, and I wasn’t the only to say it.

Why you’ll like this:
You have to see every single horror movie about exorcists, and you love them all.

The film opens with the revelation that a minsterial child-prodigy has grown to become a renowned Protestant exorcist, but the only problem is that he’s lost his faith in demons and the whole religious game, but that doesn’t stop him from making a buck off the racket. His conscience leads him to invite some documentarians with him to his final exorcism so that he can reveal and dispel the practice for what it is, a joke. Let the mind-bending ensue.

The entire film is shot in documentary style, much like other films such as “The Blair Witch Project”, “Cloverfield”, “Paranormal Activity”, etc. Towards the end of the movie it did start to grate on me and give me a bit of a headache, but I guess sitting in the front row in this type of movie will produce that affect. This style is generally used to generate a hyper-sense of reality, to make us feel like we’re just watching what was popped into the VCR, except with some superimposed labels mixed in…because that’s what you do after a terrifying experience, make sure you label people’s names with digital effects.

I actually did like the setup, it provided a great context and excuse to see some screwed up stuff. I suppose they just forgot to add it in. The minister is an interesting guy, and the possessed girl is highly likable and sweet. The build up of the first two acts based on these characters makes you wonder how crazy is this going to get once it finally hits the fan. Somehow they managed to let it hit the fan and then completely kill the momentum, a pretty difficult feat it would seem.

Why you won’t like this:
The third act fails to impress, and the closing scene doubly so.

Ultimately, this felt like a mash-up of Christopher Lee’s “To the Devil a Daughter” and “Blair Witch”, but if you have me thinking of other productions in the middle of watching your own then you probably failed. This isn’t a horrible movie, and in a sense it’s genius, because it’s a metaphor, the minister who has lost his faith represents the filmmakers, but rather than just deciding to stop being a minister/filmmaker he decides to humor us, “put on a show” that we want, take our money and leave, while we’re slack-jawed that we fell for it. Bravo, mission accomplished, great long-con fellas. Next time can you make a movie about a kid who steps off a carnival ride and slaughters the carney for the awful entertainment value?

2.5 stars out of 5.

Starring: Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Louis Herthum,
Director: Daniel Stamm
Genre: Horror
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hr. 27 min.
Release Date: August 27, 2010

Travel Tips: Backpacking for Beginners (Traveling Abroad)

I’m a big fan of backpacking. There’s lots of adventure and you never know what the day holds. I’ve taken a one-way flight into Mexico City and burned up three weeks to get back to home-base, which for me is Austin. I’ve also run all over the Dominican Republic, as well as marched through five countries in Central America. Through these excursions there’s been good decisions, bad decisions and a few lessons learned. Here’s some of those lessons.

1. Know the language.
Obvious? Sure. However, “knowing the language” does not mean to figure out the bare minimum and tote a book around. One of the greatest parts of traveling into other cultures is meeting the people, and not having a fundamental grasp of the local language can come across as disrespectful and puts a wall up between you and the locals, foreigners certainly don’t need additional barriers to work through. Even if you’re going to an English speaking country, it’s wise to practice listening to the local accent to break-in your ears. Traveling abroad is a fantastic opportunity to work on your language skills, so knowing the fundamentals will enable you to hold more than a simple “Hi, my name is…” conversation, which of course allows you to pick up new words and phrases, as well as get recommendations, some of the most amazing experiences aren’t in the best of books.

“some of the most amazing experiences aren’t in the best of books”

2. Be Friendly.
Again, somewhat obvious, but really it’s easy to be so uptight about your safety that your scowl makes you unapproachable. I’ve found that the world is a lot safer than we’re led to believe, many countries thrive on our tourism and make laws centered around protecting Americans. I was actually backpacking in Honduras during the recent turmoil with Zelaya, and other than a couple military checkpoints (where the guards were more concerned with drugs than anything else) it was no different from any other country I’ve been in, people were still friendly and helpful.

It’s important to be yourself. When I’m traveling I tend to be real loose and outgoing, I’m constantly cracking jokes and being silly, it’s always a hit with the natives. More than once I’ve been given rides, shown around town, I even got a home-cooked meal. A bus ride got me seated next to a 10 year old boy, we talked a little and he and his mom shared their food and drink with me, made sure I got off at the right point, corrected any Spanish mistakes, it was a great experience! In Mexico, a conversation at an arcade turned into a night on the town and learning some of the local legends, good eateries and an awesome Italian icee dessert. In the D.R., waiting at a bus stop to hop to a new town, me and my buddies made a friend who, upon arriving at the new town, took us to meet his mother, then found/negotiated a hotel room for us, we in turn treated him to lunch.

Now, I know I said that the world isn’t as dangerous as thought, but exercising your judgment is always advisable. Don’t deal with drunk people, don’t wear jewelry or flash your bills around. You stand out as a foreigner, presumably carrying some money, so if possible, don’t always carry it all on your body. I have the advantage of being six foot, four inches and over 200 pounds, so I probably don’t come across as the easiest target. So, use your judgment, but don’t let fear rule your ability to make friends.

3. Keep a log.
I always take a small notebook, and at the end of each day write down what I did and anything else that stood out such as a running joke with my travel buddies or an argument with a cabbie (more than a few of these). Taking a trip is nice, but being able to pick up my log and re-experience my trip whenever I like is priceless. It’s a good way to wind down the night and empty your thoughts for posterity.

4. ALWAYS negotiate BEFOREHAND.
It’s really that simple. Never get in the taxi until you know how much it will be once you’re at your destination. You kind of have to deal with the fact that you won’t get the same deal as locals, but if the price doesn’t feel right then just walk away. It’s the best sales tactic you can have, there’s always another taxi, another shop around the corner, another tour guide wanting your business, ALWAYS. Sometimes you may walk away only to find out via other negotiations that it was actually a good deal, no shame in going back! Often when you walk away from a pitch you’ll start cutting to the real deals.

when you walk away from a pitch you’ll start cutting to the real deals

I remember getting dropped off at the border of Nicaragua, and as soon as me and my two friends exited the taxi we were absolutely swamped by 20 guys with bicycle powered rickshaws, screaming and shoving for our business, it was absolute mayhem! We couldn’t get 2 seconds to ourselves to talk it out, and the pitch was, “Pay whatever you like, once we get there you can pay whatever you think it was worth to you.” Naturally, once we got across the border, through customs and at the new bus stop the cries were, “Hey, that’s not enough! Come on buddy, it was worth more than that, yes?” They got a big fat, “No, we had an agreement. That is more than generous.” and then I walked away. It would still have been smarter to establish an actual number before using the service. Guilt trips are the biggest tactic abroad, do not fall for it. Hotels, tour guides, all of it, know what’s expected of you before getting in the car or using the service.

5. Don’t be a slave to your itinerary.
Naturally, it’s good to have something lined up, some ideas about what you would like to see and do. I usually research a few things, have some ideas but honestly, other than my flight in and out, I don’t do much planning. It’s nice to not be set in stone. When I flew into Belize, I absolutely hated the Belize City, which is where we thought we would post up for a few days, but we checked out a few hotels then decided to just bounce immediately to northern Belize, turned out to be a phenomenal decision! We got to Orange Walk and got an amazing lodge on the river where I got to pet a wild crocodile (old and toothless for the record, but wild nonetheless I tell ya!), the scenery was gorgeous and the staff made quick friends of us. That would not have been possible if we pre-booked a room in Belize City, a gamble, yes, but backpacking is a gamble in itself!

Your itinerary is needed of course, it should include bus routes and times which are infinitely useful. If you’re backpacking, you should just be open to changes. Our first night in Santo Domingo, we ran into a couple Green Peace workers, and when we told them our time-frame and goals (see the culture, visit Haiti, have fun), they wrote out a few destinations that ended up basically being our bible for the trip! We bussed up to the border of Haiti, checked it out (first time I’ve ever had a culture shock, by the way), hit some beaches, jumped off of waterfalls and met tons of amazing people.

Now, a lot depends on your traveling personality. Backpacking isn’t for everyone, there’s generally a lot of uncertainty involved and being genuinely interested in other people’s culture is advisable.

There’s a lot more to consider when backpacking of course, take gifts, pack light, give yourself enough time, but most importantly smile a lot and you’re sure to have some memorable moments, because I think backpacking gives something unique that resorts can’t give you: adventure.

“Knight and Day” Movie Review

"Knight and Day" Movie poster“Knight and Day” is the absolute epitome of a bunch of Hollywood executives sitting in a room, trying to formulate the perfect movie, and it sucks. But hey, it sucks perfectly. I’m not some anti-Tom Cruise guy, I loved “War of the Worlds”, all the “Mission: Impossible” movies, and I’ll be willing to see whatever else he comes out with next, but this is definitely not how you make a comeback, by patronizing movie-goers with soulless paint-by-numbers film garbage.

Why you’ll like this:
You like the mindless predictable action-comedy film genre.

“Knight and Day” is about the everyday super-hot, yet somehow still single, girl in her late 30s who crosses paths with the more friendly American James Bond in his quest to stop evil people from doing evil things, while clearing his name and making sure no one he deems worthy gets hurt, everyone else be-damned. Let the super-cool action and hilarity ensue!

This movie is a mess from head to toe. The characters are drawn as well as my stick-figures, with the generic dialogue to match. The story is as involved as a knock-knock joke, and the action sequences are as original as Lady Gaga (HEY Gaga, you’re the lovechild of Madonna and Andre 3000, you’re not new!). Frankly, insulting this movie even feels like a waste of time, I should honestly just copy/paste other insults in order for it to be fitting, but even I’m not that lazy.

The biggest shock for me was that there were so many actors that I respect involved. Peter Sarsgaard is one of my favorite actors, I hope he made a pretty penny off of this, because I’d like to see him involved in better projects. Same goes for Paul Dano and Viola Davis, those are three tremendously talented actors who should in no way be associated with trash like this, their talent far exceeds the mundane generic movie like this. We’ve come to expect Cameron Diaz to work on pop films, and Tom Cruise was clearly in dire need of some good publicity, so I can’t say they lose any respect since it was only there in moderation to begin with.

Why you won’t like this:
You respect yourself.

When you have an uninspired script, director and actors, then you can really only come away with a total waste of time. I refuse to let a film that relies on stupid villains (and audience members), old hat jokes, and a stupendous amount of luck get anything positive said about it. A horrid attempt at taking my money, luckily a friend paid for it at the dollar theater, so the joke is on you Hollywood, but how do I get my time back? I’ll find a way, and it’ll be original when I do.

1 out of 5 stars.

Starring: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Dano, Viola Davis, Maggie Grace
Director: James Mangold
Genre: Action, Comedy
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hr. 49 min.
Release Date: June 23, 2010

“The Expendables” Movie Review

“The Expendables” was the modern day 80s flick, and I mostly enjoyed it, but it does all depend on your expectations. If you’re looking for an involved plot then stop it, there’s no Christopher Nolan attached to this film. If you’re looking to emotionally connect, then you’re once again missing the point of what we’ve got going on here. There’s only two questions you should be asking yourself: 1) How big are the explosions? 2) How many people get their ass kicked? That’s all that matters, and it’s really all that’s delivered.

Why you’ll like this:
You devour raw meat directly from the side of a still breathing baby calf, and smile. (That’s code for you only want to see a mindless action film with some action icons.)

Stylvester Stallone wrote “The Expendables” with the intention of gathering a ton of action studs to deliver a testosterone induced cinematic death-coma. Originally he went after all the old school stars like Steven Segal, Van Damme and even Chuck Norris, but could only come up with Dolph Lundgren, and a cameo from Bruce Willis and Schwarzenegger, so he filled it in with more modern day action stars Jason Statham, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Mickey Rourke. They all play mercenaries who do whatever dirty work needs gettin’ done, until they come across a mission that gives them a shot at redeeming a small part of their soul. Bullets enter stage right.

I liked the medley of big-time action heroes getting on screen. I was surprised that of all of them Jason Statham really gets the most screen time and story development, but considering that he’s easily the most consistent actor of them all then maybe my surprise is unwarranted. The opening sequence of death by our squad is rather simple and not eye-popping, but that’s all made up for in the last 30 minutes, so much skull cracking and explosions that it really only should be witnessed with the fellas. In-between there’s still plenty of car chases and butt kicking, just not quite as fun as the climax.

The obvious sore spot is the character development, story and dialogue. Sly has put out some really solid stuff lately with “Rocky Balboa” and “Rambo”, so I was somehow a little disappointed that he didn’t put a bit more effort into creating some characters that didn’t seem to be cut out of cardboard, or a story that was a bit more than of the “save the girl” variety. I didn’t let that ruin my enjoyment of course, but I had this small side of hope that he’d not only deliver a great action movie but maybe even pack in some authenticity with it as well, but not so much.

Why you won’t like this:
You’re expecting something with more depth than “The Marine”.

So yeah, the story is dumb, the characters are simple, the dialogue is laughable and the wit is left somewhere out in the haze of gun-smoke, but I freaking enjoyed myself. At one point, stuff starts blowing up and you don’t even know why it’s exploding, it just needed to, and that’s good enough for me.

2.5 out of 5 stars.

Starring: Stylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, Charisma Carpenter
Director: Stylvester Stallone
Genre: Action
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hr. 43 min.
Release Date: August 13, 2010

“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” Movie Review

"Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" movie poster“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is full of win. I can’t say I’ve read the comic book, ERRRR, graphic novel, but Edgar Wright did a phenomenal job of creating a universe where everything makes sense, even when it shouldn’t. The debate will now rage on whether this gets the belt for movie of the year, my money is still on “Inception” for that, but this is no featherweight, it’s a full fledged Iron Mike lacing up, only using pink gloves to throw you off the scent until you’re inside the ring getting a classic jaw-crushing blow.

Why you’ll like this:
Quick-cutting, comic book style storytelling; tons of geeky references; young love storyline; *plenty* of top-notch action; verbally, visually and auditorially funny.

The plot: Scott Pilgrim likes a girl. Scott Pilgrim wants to date the girl. The girl has a past. The past includes seven evil exes. If Scott wants a future with the girl, his present includes a clash with the exes. And clash they shall, in heroic comic book and vintage video game style. “FIGHT!”

There’s a lot to be said for the visual effects here, but halfway through the movie I absolutely had to pause and marvel at the editing. I mentioned “Inception” for good reason, the editing in “Inception” was masterful, and “Scott Pilgrim” is the only serious contender if not outright winner in the category. The thought of working out a single scene makes my head spin, but it’s all quick and furious, yet still makes time to breathe out a story with a heartbeat, and “Inception” can’t even claim that. Splicing together so much story, action and character development while making it seem so easy and logical can’t be easy, especially while still trying to retain the comic book roots, I guess it helps to stay close to the source material.

The Scott Pilgrim world is constantly fleshed out with graphic visual aids, video game noises (particularly my favorite game of all time), and well-timed character reveals. It’s all mixed together perfectly, like an Iron Chef making his specialty dish with the most random ingredients, all coalescing in harmony to practically reinvent flavor. Yes, I’m gushing. Few films these days make me feel like something new actually happened, something fresh that reminds me why I love movies.

The cast is also on the money. A lot of relative unknowns accompanying Michael Cera, Chris Evans and Jason Schwartzman. Alison Pill (HBO’s “inTreatment”, which she also is great in) keeps her angst on display, but my favorite is absolutely Ellen Wong playing “Knives Chau”, she’s all nails in such a critical role, going toe to toe with nearly everyone in the movie and more than holding her own. If anything else needs to be said about the supporting cast then it must be said about Kieran Culkin, playing Scott Pilgrim’s roommate “Wallace” and he feels almost like a main character unto himself, so much confidence and soul, a great highlight. As for Cera, he’s good, he’s not quite his normal boyishly awkward and insecure self, but for the most part he is, mixed in with a lot of excellent action sequences that gives his character an edge and it made me sit straight up and consider: Your saturation point just may not have arrived yet good sir.

Why you won’t like this:
If you don’t like music or “new fangled” anything.

If there’s one thing to take away from this, go see the movie in theaters. I could tell from the voracious clapping that the “graphic novel” fans were thoroughly pleased with whatever crazy references they were catching, there’s plenty to be caught. Hopefully the world will take up the Scott Pilgrim challenge, the winner here is clearly everyone. Rarely relying on cliches, you feel like you explore every nook and cranny, without a stone unturned, and never getting bored. So, without ruining any story elements I’ll simply say that it’s pretty brilliant stuff.

5 out of 5 stars.

Starring: Michael Cera, Chris Evans, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jason Schwartzman, Ellen Wong
Director: Edgar Wright
Genre: Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hr. 52 min.
Release Date: August 13, 2010

15 Great Indie Films You Didn’t See

Simply put, an independent film is one made outside the influence/funding of a major studio. Just because a film is an indie doesn’t mean it has to be shot on a budget of $2,500 over 4 days of non-stop filming. So, by that definition you would say Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” is an indie film, likewise “The Terminator” is also an independent movie. It is in that spirit that I present to you, in no specific order, 15 independent movies you may not have seen that you should:

15. Bella (2007)"Bella" film poster
Set in New York, this drama focuses on a day in the life of a pregnant woman getting to know a troubled chef. Much in the vein of “Before Sunrise”, this is a well told story that takes you on an emotional journey to find family.
Genre: Drama, Romance

14. Cashback (2007)
From across the pond, “Cashback” revolves around a college student who has his heart broken and uses his sleepness nights to make money at a local grocery store. We frequently take trips through his imagination as he stops time and appreciates a moment. What I loved about this was the great blend of visuals with a melancholy score in sync with well-developed characters.
Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy

The Wackness poster13. The Wackness (2008)
1995 New York, “The Wackness” is the tale of a kid between High School and his first year of college. No friends and a steadily breaking homelife, he sells drugs to save for tuition and finally gets a shot at the girl of his dreams. Ben Kingsley is the pitch-perfect cracking therapist and Olivia Thirlby the would-be girlfriend. The best mid-90s hip hop and an engaging story makes this a must-see.
Genre: Drama

12. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)
A WWII story of a Nazi commander’s son who stumbles onto the concentration camp his father runs  and makes friends with a Jewish boy on the other side of the fence.
Genre: Drama

11. Gigantic (2009)
Paul Dano plays a quiet young man who gets hooked in with an odd Zooey Deschanel, a rich girl who starts affecting his plans to adopt a Chinese baby.
Genre: Drama

10. Gone Baby Gone (2007)
A Boston detective’s journey through various cases. The big surprise here is that Ben Affleck directed a hell of a film and his brother is a flat out excellent actor.
Genre: Crime

"A Guide to Recognizing to Your Saints" theatric poster9. A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)
An excellent coming-of-age set in New York during the 80s. Robert Downey Jr returns home and remembers (as played out by Shia LaBeouf) the trials of seeing friends die and end up in prison. Even Channing Tatum knocks this one out of the park.
Genre: Drama

8. I Am David (2004)
As far as WWII concentration camp survivor movies go, this is by far the most innocent of them all. A child escapes from a camp and makes his way through Europe to deliver an important letter, meeting a variety of helpful characters along the way.
Genre: Drama

7. In Bruges (2008)
Perhaps my favorite Colin Farrell performance ever. Fine, that isn’t saying much, but this is one of the more brutal comedy/action films I’ve seen to date. You owe it to yourself to see this one.
Genre: Thriller, Black Comedy

6. Match Point (2006)
Woody Allen’s least “Woody Allen” film he’s ever made. A crime drama about a tennis pro who has an affair, Allen pours on the suspense and details.
Genre: Crime, Drama

"My Blueberry Nights" film poster5. My Blueberry Nights (2007)
If you haven’t seen any of Wong Kar Wai’s films, you should probably start with “ChungKing Express” or “In the Mood for Love”, but this is a great treat to see his work in America with English actors. His unique style translates perfectly as he sculpts the journey of a woman who takes the longest path across the street of her life.
Genre: Drama, Romance

4. Sunshine Cleaning (2009)
Amy Adams alone should sell you on why you should see this, she’s fantastic no matter what she’s in. A fun dramatic comedy about her starting her own business and trying to live up to her glory days as the High School prom queen…of course, a business as a crime scene clean-up service isn’t so high brow.
Genre: Comedy, Drama

3. Wristcutters: A Love Story (2007)
What really happens to people who commit suicide? Apparently they end up in a life more "The Fall" movie Posterdrab than the one they left, no smiling, laughing or happiness. After hearing his girlfriend is also wandering in the same afterlife, Zia ventures forth with a Russian rocker and sees the oddities in the bitter hereafter.
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy

2. The Fall (2008)
You should remember the name Tarsem Singh, someone who still believes in finding actual scenery for films rather than creating them in a computer. He filmed this in 39 countries and it’s one of the most gorgeous and visually stunning films on celluloid.
Genre: Fantasy, Drama, Adventure

1. Adam (2009)
How this one was overlooked last year is beyond me. Well, I guess that’s the lot for great indie dramas. An excellent story about a girl, Rose Byrne, who falls for a guy with Asperger’s Syndrome (Adam Raki). If you like dramas, then you’ll love this.
Genre: Drama, Romance