Ep. 82 – Independence Day: Resurgence, Finding Dory, the tragic death of Anton Yelchin, the terrible new Ghostbusters song from Fall Out Boy, and a quick NBA Finals wrap-up

June 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Podcast

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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod talk “Independence Day: Resurgence,” “Finding Dory,” the tragic death of actor Anton Yelchin in a freak accident, that awful new “Ghostbusters” song from Fall Out Boy, the fellows give their hot takes on the NBA Finals and preview our “Boogie Nights” screening at Alamo Drafthouse Park North.

[00:00-19:10] Intro/”Boogie Nights” screening tease

[19:10-29:24] R.I.P. Anton Yelchin

[29:24-45:00] That awful new “Ghostbusters” theme song

[45:00-1:01:03] “Independence Day: Resurgence” review

[1:01:03-1:14:36] “Finding Dory” review

[1:14:36-1:30:19] Wrap-up/tease/NBA Finals recap

Click here to download the episode!

Only Lovers Left Alive

May 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska
Directed by: Jim Jarmusch (“Broken Flowers”)
Written by: Jim Jarmusch (“Broken Flowers”)

Taking a realistic approach to the idea of two vampires who have been living and loving on this earth for centuries, unconventional writer/director Jim Jarmusch breaks the mold with “Only Lovers Left Alive,” a fresh and distinctive entry into the vampire genre. For those who like their vampires to sparkle like diamonds like they do in the “Twilight” series or – on the opposite end of the spectrum – live like gorehounds and quench their insatiable thirst any way they can, Jarmusch’s cool, laid-back vampire story probably won’t do anything for you. Art-house film aficionados, however, should be pleased to see what Jarmusch is able to do with his non-formulaic narrative, especially with perfectly-cast actors Tom Hiddleston and Oscar winner Tilda Swinton in the lead roles. The result is undeniably tasty.

For a couple of undead characters who have been around for centuries, vampires Adam (Hiddleston) and Eve (Swinton) sure do have this whole “living” thing down pat. Adam, a depressed and reclusive musician, lives in the most lifeless part of Detroit while Eve has found a happy existence living in Morocco. It makes sense that vampires, who have been together for hundreds of years, would probably take some time off from inhabiting the same space so they won’t grow tired of each other.

Adam, however, is depressed. His only real link to the outside world is Ian (Anton Yelchin), the only “zombie” (AKA human being) he can stand to be around, who provides him with rare stringed instruments to purchase. Upon seeing that Adam is acting more emo than usual, Eve decides she’ll fly out (on an airplane, not as a bat) for a much-needed visit. The two are enjoying their time together until Eve’s immature sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) turns up and does some really vampy things, which send Adam and Eve’s lives into a tailspin.

Along with the fact that Adam and Eve don’t live together, Jarmusch pays attention to other details that would come up if vampires really existed, which makes “Only Lovers” all the more believable and authentic. For example, when it comes to nourishing themselves with human blood, it wouldn’t make much sense if the couple lived off the necks of real people in the 21st century (haven’t you seen “CSI?” They’d be arrested or always on the run). Instead, both have their own personal hook-up to blood that keeps them from having to murder everyone they meet. Adam pays a doctor (Jeffrey Wright) handsomely for it; Eve turns to a famous 16th century playwright (John Hurt) for her premium-grade sustenance.

Jarmusch, whose past films include the wonderful “Broken Flowers” starring Bill Murray and “Stranger than Paradise,” takes on a different tone than his previous work. There is an underlying sadness to “Only Lovers” that paints an intriguing picture about what it would be like to live forever. While there are many people out there who would love to discover the Fountain of Youth, Jarmusch raises interesting issues about mortality and about just how much living one person can do when you know you’re always going to wake up the next night.

This film was screened at the 2014 South by Southwest Film Festival. For more coverage, click here.

Star Trek Into Darkness

May 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Kiko

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch
Directed by: J.J. Abrams (“Star Trek”)
Written by: Roberto Orci (“Star Trek”), Alex Kurtzman (“Star Trek”) and Damon Lindelof (“Prometheus”)

Already having given audiences the best “Mission Impossible” film of the series with the third installment in 2006 and the best “Star Trek” movie with his hip revamp in 2009, director J.J. Abrams attempts to top himself again by joining up with the Starship Enterprise in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” a solid follow-up to Abrams’ first foray into space seven years ago. It’s more proof that you don’t have to be a Klingon-speaking geekboy to find this franchise one of the more fascinating big-budget sci-fi projects to hit the mainstream in the last four or five years.

Of course, if you are one of those hardcore “Star Trek” fans that won’t be happy with the shape of Mr. Spock’s ears in comparison to Leonard Nimoy’s or looking forward to nitpicking any number of creative choices Abrams makes that are different from the original TV show, then it’s probably best if you stay home and Netflix “The Trouble with Tribbles.” This isn’t your grandfather’s “Star Trek.” For those interested in another fresh take from Abrams and have the open-mindedness to let things go, then “Into Darkness” just might be the popcorn movie of the pre-summer.

Working loosely off 1982’s “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” which is what most “Star Trek” aficionados agree is the best of the original films, we join the crew of the Enterprise as they search for John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), a former commander who has gone rogue. On his trail and reprising their roles from the 2009 film are Chris Pine as Capt. Kirk, who was recently relieved and then reinstated as Captain; Zachary Quinto as Mr. Spock; Zoe Saldana as Uhura; Karl Urban as Bones; Simon Pegg as Scotty; John Cho as Sulu; Anton Yelchin as Chekov; and Alice Eve as new and attractive science officer Carol Marcus. When they catch up to Harrison on a Klingon planet, the crew is shocked to learn there is more to their manhunt than simply eliminating a powerful villain.

Aside from the outstanding action sequences and set pieces that packed its predecessor, “Into Darkness” also takes an effective emotional turn with the relationship between Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock. Kirk’s massive ego and bullheaded nature and Spock’s reluctance to break regulation frame their interaction very well. Pine and Quinto once again take command of the characters in the same way William Shatner and Nimoy did in the late 60s. Sorry, purists, but those roles are theirs now.

With today’s technology catching up to Gene Roddenberry’s creation, the universe feels even more volatile, which makes for an exciting adventure with this crew. Who knows how long Abrams will stay on board (now that he’s been dubbed to lead the new “Star Wars” movie in 2015), but he’s laid some great groundwork for a dozen more and has taken the storytelling to a place few directors have gone before.

Like Crazy

November 18, 2011 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence
Directed by: Drake Doremus (“Douchebag”)
Written by: Drake Doremus (“Douchebag”) Ben York Jones (“Douchebag”)

When the Britain-born Anna (Felicity Jones) and American Jacob (Anton Yelchin) begin their relationship, they know that eventually Anna’s college career will be over and her school visa will run out, sending her back to England. When that day finally comes, she decides she can’t do it, and overstays until she returns to London briefly. When she tries to come back into America, she is denied entrance and Anna and Jacob must face the challenge of keeping their relationship intact when they can’t physically be together.

Jones makes her mark in her American film debut with a very strong performance, one that will lead to many major roles in the future. While her character is eccentric and quirky, her natural beauty and smile light up the screen, as she provides so much of what makes these kinds of movies so charming. Her chemistry with Yelchin is also strong, and both performances are genuine and believable.

“Like Crazy” is an independent film in its truest sense. The characters bond over their love for Paul Simon, create quirky gifts for each other and many of the scenes of them together are put together in montages reminiscent of a movie trailer or music video. Most of the dialogue is improvised and it was shot on a microbudget using a Canon digital SLR that is available to consumers. That doesn’t affect the movie however, as it is mostly well composed. The improvisation of dialogue perhaps adds to the authenticity as the fights between Jones and Yelchin are very convincing.

The film starts off strong as we see two people in young love, trying to deal with problems that accompany being in a long distance relationship. They struggle to communicate due to the time differences, spend tons of money on flights for just weeks of time spent together and even kick around the idea of seeing other people when they can’t be together. But as the film goes on, the relationship between Yelchin and Jones begins to feel more like an obligation, and the desire to see these two be together starts to wither. Towards the end of the film, the characters slowly begin to lose their charm, alienating the audience as they sink into misery.

“Like Crazy” is a good relationship drama in many ways, one that deals with long distance relationships accurately and with sincerity. Jones shows moments of being a truly captivating young actress, but the narrative stretches itself a little too thin and ultimately makes for a film that is solid, but unspectacular.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Anton Yelchin & Dave Franco – Fright Night

August 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Interviews

During an interview with me at the Highball in Austin, actors Anton Yelchin (“Star Trek”), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (“Superbad”), and Dave Franco (“Charlie St. Cloud”) talked about their remake of the 1985 horror comedy “Fright Night,” which now stars Colin Farrell as a powerful vampire who moves into a suburban neighborhood and feasts on teenagers one by one.

Vampires seem to be the only horror movie creatures that are given this kind of sex appeal on a consistent basis. You never see a shirtless zombie showing off his abs.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse: (Laughs) Not yet.

Why do you think so many women are attracted to the idea of vampires?

Anton Yelchin: I think the point at which vampires connect with you is through the neck, which is essentially a sexy zone.

Chris: And they can only be out at nighttime.

Anton: They can only be out at night, right. And they’re immortal.

Chris: They’re not losing flesh like zombies or growing hair like werewolves.

Anton: Yeah, they’re more like enhanced human beings that are immortal. I think people lust for immortality. There is this sexuality that comes with staying young forever.

Chris: Yeah.

Anton: They’re also extremely well hung.

Dave Franco: Vampire cocks.

What about from a guy’s perspective, though? You don’t see as many men lusting over female vampires.

Dave: We were just talking about that actually. What about Salma Hayek in “From Dusk Till Dawn?”

Chris: Yeah, Salma Hayek!

Anton: Salma Hayek!

Well, sure, there are some exceptions but if you were to walk into a bar and saw a female vampire, would you try to pick her up?

Dave: Psht, yeah!

Chris and Anton: (Laughing)

Chris: I mean, it depends. In “True Blood” there are some sexy female vampires that nibble on guys, but don’t turn them, right? So, if that was the case, then yeah. That would be fun as hell.

Anton: Yeah, I’d be down to get nibbled on.

Is there anything you guys are really scared of?

Dave: People.

Anton: Yeah, people.

Chris: I mean, I’m still just scared of spiders.

Dave: Are you really?

Chris: Yeah, really. I freak out.

Anton and Dave: (Whispering) Pussy.

Dave, have you given Chris a chance to redeem himself and try to beat you in another “You’re So Hot” competition?

Chris: He defeated me!

Dave: Ah, man, we have another one in the works with two girls this time and we’ll possibly make a cameo.

Anton: I watched that on the set of “Odd Thomas” and I was in the car with Willem Dafoe and he was saying all the shit you guys were saying.

Dave: Fucking great!

Chris: That’s awesome!

Terminator Salvation

May 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin
Directed by: McG (“Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle”)
Written by: John D. Brancato (“Catwoman”) and Michael Ferris (“Primeval”)

What should have been a war for the ages quickly turns into an exercise in mechanics as director McG and team are somehow able to disconnect 25 years of apocalyptic mythology and groundbreaking cinematic moments with “Terminator Salvation,” the fourth installment of the sci-fi franchise.

Although director Jonathan Mostow helped spur the downward spiral with “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” in 2003, he at least left the final scene of the film wide open for someone else to take the reigns and drive the story to the inevitable war between man and machine. We’ve all anticipated it ever since Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) met face to face with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s killer cyborg in the 1984 classic. Instead, McG and unproven screenwriters John D. Brancato (“T3”) and Michael Ferris (“T3”) seem to feel that just because the foundation is there they can throw it into cruise control. Sadly, no one bothered to tell them that fans deserved more than a few loud explosions and artificial nostalgic moments.

The film starts with an introduction to Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), a death row inmate who signs his body away to science before he is executed for murder. Marcus unknowingly returns as a cyborg years after Judgment Day has occurred. With no memory of his past life, he roams the smoldering ruins until he meets Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), who fans will know as the human sent back in time in the original film to protect Sarah Connor (Hamilton) and sow the seed that would later become John Connor (Edward Furlong in “T2,” Nick Stahl in “T3,” and Christian Bale in “Salvation”).

As the “prophesized leader of the Resistance” against the machines, John knows his future and the future of mankind lies with two things: the destruction of Skynet, the artificial intelligence network behind the nuclear holocaust, and the survival of his teenage father, a member of the Resistance. Marcus and John’s paths cross after Kyle is snatched up by a machine and taken back to Skynet. John is left to decide whether or not to place his trust in Marcus not knowing if he is the type of terminator that has been sent to destroy him.

The rescue mission, however, doesn’t happen until after a series of impressive special effects and some terrible choices in dialogue, narrative, and female characterization (Moon Bloodgood, Jadagrace, Helena Bonham Carter, and Bryce Dallas Howard do absolutely nothing to progress the story). In “Salvation,” the machines are the stars of the show – and well they should be – but not to the detriment of anything that resembles human emotion (Bale blasting off on viral audio doesn’t count). What McG and writers replace it with instead is 11th-hour metaphorical wish-wash that centers on the strength and resiliency of the human heart. Where that heart was for the rest of the film is anyone’s guess.

Charlie Bartlett

February 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Robert Downey Jr., Hope Davis
Directed by: Jon Poll (debut)
Written by: Gustin Nash (debut)

If anyone is trying to remember where they’ve seen actor Anton Yelchin, chances are you first spotted him in the 2006 teenage crime drama “Alpha Dog” as a kid who is kidnapped for a debt owned by his older brother. Although the film unsuccessfully tries to balance itself between hard-hitting biopic and care-free street speech, much of the well-acted true-life story comes in part from the young actors who give the movie its spotty emotional spark. If anyone does it the best, it’s Yelchin.

Here, the kid plays the titular character in “Charlie Bartlett.”  Yelchin is a classic-looking talent reminiscent of Anthony Michael Hall in “The Breakfast Club” and Matthew Broderick in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” which is why he works so well as the extremely likable lead character. Problem is that “Barlett’ isn’t a John Hughes film and it’s evident Yelchin is starring in a first-time film for both the director (Jon Poll) and writer (Gustin Nash).

It’s not to say that “Bartlett” isn’t a worthy attempt. The story revolves around a prep high school student who finds his true calling in life when he appoints himself as a psychiatrist and prescription drug dealer at his new school.

When Charlie is expelled from his “nth” private institution for selling fake IDs to his classmates, his mother, Marilyn (Davis), who has some issues of her own, decides public education is her son’s final chance to clean up his act. Charlie isn’t a troublesome kid at all. Actually, he is respectful, friendly and an overall nice guy. But with some concerns in his home life (his father is incarcerated), he has no other choice than to express himself and draw attention in any way he can.

Peddling pills, which he has received from his shrink, from the boys bathroom quickly makes Charlie a popular person to know at his suburbia high school. Where he once was the dweeby new guy who wore a crested sports coat and was picked on by the rebellious bully, Charlie reaches iconic status on campus and has everyone’s head turning, especially alcoholic Principal Gardner (Downey Jr.), whose daughter Susan (Kat Dennings) he has started to date.

Although it manages to stay away from more of the obvious and shallow stereotypes that plague teenage comedies today, “Bartlett” really can’t decide what type of film it wants to be. As a quirky indie flick, it’s no “Rushmore.” As a laborious drama, the script doesn’t support its full intentions and leaves its characters scraping to project their personalities in the waning moments. Sadly, it doesn’t occur soon enough.

Who is Charlie Bartnett anyway? Yelchin might have his Natalie-Portman-by-way-of-“Garden State” moments, but there’s only so much a few eccentricities can uncover about our leading man.