Its more absurd, crude and irrational than the ones before it, but Little Fockers the third installment in the Meet the Parents franchise cant hold a candle to the beloved original, or even the mediocre sequel.
The plot of Little Fockers, more than anything else, is an excuse to get a bunch of talented actors into one film. Ben Stiller stars once again as Greg Focker, who's still married to Pam (Teri Polo) and has two kids. They live a dreadfully stereotypical marriage, and things are going just fine. Then the overbearing father-in-law, Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro), invites himself back into their lives. Jack has some heart problems, and realizing that he wont be around forever, he tells Greg that he is next in line to take over the family. Yes, Greg will someday become the Godfocker.
This leads to a mess of bad jokes and unnecessary cameos, the most notable coming from Harvey Keitel. De Niro and Keitel teaming up again? I hate to ruin it for you, but Little Fockers is no Taxi Driver.
A movie about synchronized swimming would usually seem like a lame idea, but with The Swimsuit Issue, director Mans Herngren has made an entertaining film that balances laugh-out-loud comedy with a well-written, believable story. Watching a group of middle-aged men throw on Speedos in the hopes of gaining a sense of purpose is comical in itself, but when the men try to force themselves to overcome their insecurities and battle through adversity in a womens sport, the film only gets funnier.
Fredrik (Jonas Inde) is tired of feeling like a loser who's passed his prime and has long since failed to establish a strong relationship with his daughter, Sara (Amanda Davin). Fredrik and his friends debut a gag synchronized swimming video (at a wedding reception, no less) in which they all wear womens bathing suits, with the participants surprised at how much the wedding guests enjoy it. A wealthy woman in attendance then asks the men if they would perform a similar routine at one of her parties for comedic entertainment.
Whos the Caboose? is finally being released on DVD in the U.S. a mere 16 years after its creation. Written and starring Sam Seder, as well as Sarah Silverman before she was a star, this 1995 mockumentary is as low budget as they come.
The film begins with a brief introduction about some New York art students who set out to make a documentary about a rare fatal disease plaguing homeless people. They quickly find that topic too depressing, and shift their focus to Susan Undermans (Silverman) trip to Los Angeles for pilot season. Pilot season, we are told, is the time period each year in L.A. where actors are auditioning for new television series. So it should come as no surprise that Whos the Caboose is a prequel to a TV mini-series titled none other than Pilot Season, which was out in 2004.
Directed by sibling duo Colin and Greg Strause, Skyline isn't all bad, but it's just a few steps away from being a low-grade, made-for-TV science fiction flick. The only differences between this movie and something you would see go straight to DVD or on cable in the wee hours of the night are some solid special effects and a cast of actors weve maybe, sort of seen before.
The movie follows Jarrod (Eric Balfour), who brings his girlfriend (Scottie Thompson) along on a trip to Los Angeles. Their business there is pleasure, as they are meeting up with Jarrods long-time buddy, Terry (Donald Faison). The style of the opening scenes in South L.A. and the musical choices almost feel like something out of a teenage television soap opera like The OC or Gossip Girl.
Following a party at Terrys penthouse (he is filthy rich), the group of people who are spending the night are awoken by a powerful blue light coming from outside. One party member stares a little too long into that light, and gets sucked right in.
Seriously, do not go toward the light.
The opening bars of Les Miserables have made my heart go pitty-pat since the age of 14. There's just something about this play the Goliath of musical theater that gets those of us who go full-nerd for stage musicals right at the throat.
In fact, if I'd known this anniversary concert was happening at London's O2 Arena, I would've thrown financial responsibility to the wolves and booked my happy ass on a flight to England in a heartbeat. Having it on DVD is, I suppose, an acceptable concession for my ignorance.
For the purists out there, you should know going in that this is not the original cast. Colm Wilkinson doesn't make a stage appearance until after the finale, and Lea Salonga is playing Fantine, not Eponine. And if none of that made sense to you, the rest of this review is going to look like alien hieroglyphs.
During a time when sexual and artistic expression were highly frowned upon, William S. Burroughs a controversial figure to say the least challenged society to question itself and its motives. As one of the leading writers of the Beat Generation, Burroughs had a significant influence on art, music and the literary world. In Yony Leysers interesting documentary, A Man Within (Oscilloscope Laboratories, $29.99), significant details of his life are revealed.
As a forewarning for those who are put off by material that is dark, grotesque and sexually explicit: This isn't the movie for you.
In a film about the life and career of a musical icon that is blind, there is perhaps no aspect more important than sound quality. Thats why the new Blu-ray version of Taylor Hackfords film, Ray, starring Jamie Foxx, is a must-see. The life of music icon Ray Charles is brought to life in magnificent audio and visual clarity.
The musical performances, some of which are new to this release, are all unique. The jazz bar environment is brought to the viewer in a way that is clear and vivid. The brass from the trumpets and saxophones gleams, beads of sweat are visible percolating on the musicians faces, smoke fills the air and every footstep or movement on stage can be heard.
The recording sessions in the film are very elaborate in the Blu-ray edition, creating a sense of being right there in the studio as small details (like the hum of the microphone and the crispness of the instruments) are captured. One of the best performance scenes involves a full symphony, as Ray record the hit, Georgia On My Mind.
As I mentioned in a previous concert review, just the thought of Police tunes squashed into a symphonic mold nearly made me nauseous. All I could hear in my head were Lawrence Welk-versions of Roxanne and King of Pain, and it seemed ludicrous that these versions of classic Police songs could ever find a favored place in my music collection. To prepare for the concert, I even listened to as much old Police as I could find in an effort to indelibly etch the memories of those versions into my head. This, I thought, would help me recognize my favorite songs somewhere amidst the violins, cellos, harps and horns. As it turned out, Id forgotten about the genius of Stings musical talent, and all that pre-concert listening was completely unnecessary. (Photo at right by Jeff O'Kelley)
The Symphonicity tour featured some of the best Sting and Police songs as presented with the combined talents of Sting and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra (under the direction of Maestro Steven Mercurio). The result was fresh and unique versions of songs like Every Breath You Take, Shes Too Good For Me and even the trademark Police hit, Roxanne. While the traditional framework of an orchestra can come off as somewhat stale and stuffy, Mercurio had the ensemble rocking out and even pulling off some cool, choreographed dance moves. The esult was a very laid-back concert experience that allowed even the most jaded fans to shed their preconceived notions of what to expect, and actually enjoy the evening.
Im not going to lie: The first thing I did after opening the excellent new Back to the Future Trilogy 25th anniversary Blu-ray package (Universal, $79.99 MSRP, but its been advertised below $50) was skip all the content about the movies, and jump straight into a bonus feature covering Back to the Future: The Ride. Opened at Universal Orlando in the early 1990s, BTTF: The Ride has loomed large in my memory both for the humorous quality of the content (involving Biff Tannen running amok in Doc Browns time travel institute) and for generating epic wait lines. Included in this set are all the lobby shorts the crowd would watch while waiting to board, followed by the pre-flight briefing and the film from the ride itself. Despite my couch not gyrating in time with the film (or inducing nausea), theres real nostalgic power in chasing Biff through time on your home flat-screen.
Of course, nostalgia is the key when talking about Back to the Future (BTTF). During the films original 1985 release, the nostalgia was that of baby boomer audiences looking back at the 1950s with a longing for a kinder, simpler time. Watching BTTF now, I was struck by my own nostalgia for the 1980s specifically the filmmaking of the era. BTTF is an early production of Steven Spielbergs Amblin Entertainment the iconic Steven Spielberg Presents appearing above the title in all marketing materials and the film pairs a sweet innocence (boy goes back in time and fixes his parents relationship) with high geek sensibility (time travel paradoxes, 1.21 gigawatts, a freakin Delorean). This geek-sweet mix was Spielbergs trademark in the 80s, with other Spielberg-produced Amblin titles from the era including The Goonies, Young Sherlock Holmes and Gremlins.
Earlier this year, I was lamenting the lack of hot, archival video releases from these now-geriatric British rockers. Then, just the other day, I noticed that Best Buy was selling the new-to-DVD concert film, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rolling Stones, for eight bucks. I had never seen it, really, and who has? It had a proper theatrical release back in the day (1974), both in quad-sound and mono, then it sank like a stone(!) for the better part of 36 years and hasn't seen a U.S. release in a home format until now. And I'll just say, it is something of a crime that what could very well be the best live document of this band has been languishing in some vault for all of this time.
It would not be overstating it to say that these guys could be uneven in their live performances. Sometimes they were just plain awful. When you read about their studio experiences, you realize that it took a whole lot of patience to come up with a classic Rolling Stones recording that would stand the test of time. Of course, they succeeded at that again and again, but these were painful births. Their acknowledged masterpiece, Exile on Main Street, came together only through extreme perseverance. So to expect them to deliver the goods consistently in a live setting is silly and guarantees you will be disappointed. The DVD extras from the Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! re-issue are a prime example. They make you yearn for the dangerous-but-solid band that you know the Stones can be. (And I say "can" instead of "could" because the last time they played Tampa, I was kind of astonished that it was as edgy and iffy as I wanted it to be.)