Ep. 136 – Fantastic Fest reviews of The Death of Dick Long and In the Shadow of the Moon, and we play the movie-lovers’ card game Cinephile

September 29, 2019 by  
Filed under Podcast

This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody reviews a few films leftover from his time at Fantastic Fest, The Death of Dick Long and In the Shadow of the Moon, and then Cody and Jerrod play a few rounds of the new movie-lovers’ card game Cinephile.

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Thanks for Sharing

September 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Gwyneth Paltrow
Directed by: Stuart Blumberg (debut)
Written by: Stuart Blumberg (“The Kids Are All Right”) and Matt Winston (debut)

In recent years, there’s been a focus on the topic of sex addiction, especially in the realm of celebrities. Stars like Charlie Sheen, Tiger Woods and David Duchovny have been proclaimed as sex addicts with the latter two actually checking into rehab to work on their conditions. Despite their efforts for treatment, a debate rages on whether or not sex addiction is even a real thing, or rather an excuse or justification for infidelity or promiscuity. While the attention of sex addiction in the media has been on celebrities in the spotlight and under the microscope, Hollywood has recently taken a look at regular people in their sex addictions. The film “Shame,” for example, showed a very dark side of the addiction, revealing self-destructive, dangerous, and obsessive behaviors akin to any other type of dangerous dependence. While “Thanks for Sharing” doesn’t quite delve into the pitch black tone of a film like “Shame,” it is nonetheless an interesting look at sex addiction and its impact on relationships.

Adam (Mark Ruffalo) is a recovering sex addict who is celebrating five years of sobriety. To keep him on the right track, he continues to attend meetings run by his sponsor Mike (Tim Robbins). Also attending meetings is Neil, (Josh Gad) a doctor whose addiction and deviancy is bordering on unmanageable. Each of them, in various stages of their addiction, struggle with relationships, primarily Adam, who is hesitant to jump into one with Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow), a love interest he meets at a party. Together, the three help each other through their 12 steps and fight the urge of temptation to keep themselves from falling off the wagon.

The successes of the film can largely be attributed to the strength of its core set of veteran actors in Ruffalo, Robbins and Paltrow. Robbins is great as the patriarchal figure in a few different relationships, and provides a solid presence throughout the film. Ruffalo and Paltrow work great on screen together and their relationship is the best pairing throughout the film. “Thanks for Sharing” also features a strong turn from Gad, who has tended to overdo things in previous films. Gad’s plays for comedy aren’t as successful here, but his attempt at drama is quite nice and he adds a lot of solid traits to his schlubby character.

With Ruffalo’s and Robbins’ characters currently “sober,” the first half the film is less of a focus on how their addictions are harming them now, but rather what the impact of their previous lives has on their current lives. Ruffalo’s character, for example, only allows himself to use electronics when absolutely necessary and cannot be in the same room as a TV to rid himself of temptation. There is a certain level of embarrassment that Ruffalo plays when courting Paltrow’s character that is evident. It’s really interesting to watch that relationship play out knowing what we know about his character’s past.

The writing of the film is one of its stronger points, with a levelheaded script that avoids cliché for the most part. Of course, Robbins’ character has a rolodex of adages and sayings that he spews off the top of his head, but it’s believable when you considering he has been leading group meetings for years and years. The strong writing is most evident in the portrayal of these intimate and intense meetings with people bearing their souls for one another. The film captures these meetings and the darker parts of sex addiction relatively well, without ever getting too gratuitous.

That being said, the film can be a little uneven at times.  A few of Gad’s obsessive and perverted behaviors are a little silly and the first half of the film strives for a bit of a humorous tone with mixed results. The back half of the film is nearly exclusively somber in tone. One story in particular is over the top in its execution, but the film manages to just barely stay grounded. It’s not a perfect film by any stretch, but “Thanks for Sharing” is a decent little glimpse into the world of addiction and the struggles that addicts go through to maintain sobriety, even years after becoming clean.

Iron Man 3

May 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley
Directed by: Shane Black (“Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”)
Written by: Shane Black (“Lethal Weapon”) and Drew Pearce (debut)

After the roaring success of “The Avengers,” the biggest question facing the Marvel cinematic universe was “What’s next?” Since 2008, with the release of the original “Iron Man” film, everything that came afterward—vehicles for Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk—was a build-up (for better or worse) to the epic team-up adventure of last summer. And boy, did it deliver, wowing critics and audiences on its way to becoming the third-highest grossing movie of all time. But after all of that (Marvel calls it Phase 1), what could they possible have in store for fans?

Marvel’s answer: go back to square one and kick off Phase 2 with “Iron Man 3.”

While the film does reference the events that took place in New York City that involved gods battling aliens, “Iron Man 3” plants its feet as a stand-alone adventure. A rattled, sleepless Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has spent every waking moment since “The Avengers” tinkering with different designs for his Iron Man suit, which are at number 42 at this point. As a result of his erratic tinkering, though, Tony’s domestic life with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) has begun to suffer. Enter handsome Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), a scientist with connections to both Tony and Pepper. He’s come peddling his highly unstable treatment for regrowing lost limbs—a treatment that may be tied to murderous terrorist the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).

For having the unenviable task of following one of the biggest films ever, “Iron Man 3” does pretty solid work. Director/co-screenwriter Shane Black (“Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”), stepping in for Jon Favreau, gets to stretch his legs in an adventure that’s refreshingly free of table-setting for whatever next year’s Marvel movie will be. Somewhat surprising is how little time Downey spends in the Iron Man armor, though the film’s climax more than makes up for it.

Not everything works, however, and the legacy of what came before it weighs a little too heavily on the film. Don Cheadle, returning as James Rhodes, again doesn’t get much to do. He flies around in his War Machine armor (now re-christened and repainted as the red, white, and blue Iron Patriot) for a little while busting up potential terrorist safe houses until he gets kidnapped and has the armor stolen from him like a punk. And the movie never really answers the nagging fanboy question: “Why not just call in the rest of The Avengers?” when Stark’s days get darkest. I appreciate that Tony Stark is a badass genius with incredible technology at his fingertips, but couldn’t the Hulk or Captain America or even that chump Hawkeye have chipped in to take out a goon or two?

Iron Man 2

May 7, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell
Directed by: Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”)
Written by: Justin Theroux (“Tropic Thunder”)

If personality makes up the majority of a superhero’s likability, Iron Man should be considered the Marvel comic book character you’d love to hate.

That’s not to say two-time Academy Award-nominated actor Robert Downey Jr. has lost all the charisma that made the 2008 original blockbuster film so downright entertaining and original. Even when Downey Jr. isn’t donning the maroon and gold mechanical suit that transforms him into a weapon of mass destruction, he has another captivating persona he can fall back on.

Meet Tony Stark. While you might know him from the first “Iron Man,” the sequel, aptly called “Iron Man 2,” allows us to meet the man inside the machine on a more personal level. In the film, Tony seems to be running on fumes. As Iron Man, he can still hold his own against anyone that comes his way, but as a mortal, the genius billionaire industrialist has a serious problem.

The power source embedded in his chest, which is keeping him alive, is also slowly poisoning him. Along with his health issues, Tony is butting heads with the U.S. Senate, who wants him to turn over his Iron Man machinery. The Senate says his invention is a threat to national security especially if a country decides to copy the technology and use it against the U.S.

Tony refuses to relinquish his work stating that it would take years for someone to duplicate what he has done. He is oblivious to the fact that Russian physicist Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) has already engineered his own version of the suit and fastened it to himself to transform into the electromagnetic super villain known as Whiplash. When he teams up with Tony’s major weapons competitor Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), the two set out to develop an army of drones that would take the arms race by storm.

Replacing Terrance Howard from the original, Don Cheadle plays Lt. Col. James Rhodes, who later attempts to put a stop to Tony’s destructive ways caused by his alcohol problem. Although he manages to spiral downward fairly quickly, love interest Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) doesn’t give up on him that easy. Neither does S.H.I.E.L.D. front man Nick Fury (Samuel L.  Jackson) who makes sure Tony’s talents aren’t wasted. His stubbornness to join the secret agency known as the Avengers will be short-lived since all these Marvel movies are linking together for one giant superhero reunion in the next few years.

No matter what is being planned for the future, “Iron Man 2” is able to stand on its own. It works well with enough action sequences, fight scenes and some interesting characters, none of which match the humor and charm of Downey Jr. who again makes the movie his own personal and egotistical show.

Iron Man

May 12, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrance Howard
Directed by: Jon Favreau (“Elf”)
Written by: Mark Fergus (“Children of Men”), Hawk Ostby (“Children of Men”), Art Marcum (“Shadow of Fear”), Matt Holloway (debut)

Flamboyancy goes a long way when it comes to superhero attractiveness, and in “Iron Man,” actor Robert Downey Jr. delivers the character’s unique mythology with enough exuberance you almost forget about letdowns like “Spider-Man 3.” It seems like someone has finally found his niche in the mainstream.

In Marvel’s “Iron Man,” based on the comic book by Stan Lee and crew, Downey Jr. plays billionaire weapons manufacturer Tony Stark. Call him a genius. Call him a lady’s man. Call him a war profiteer. If Tony is anything, it’s confident in his ability to provide the U.S. military with the most sophisticated weaponry ever created by man or machine.

Completely satisfied with his self-indulgent life of fast cars, loose women, and high-powered technology, Tony’s attitude toward his profession changes drastically when his convoy is attacked and he is kidnapped by insurgents in the Middle East. He is there to demonstrate to the U.S. Air Force the destructive power of his latest missile, the Jericho.

The tables are turned when Tony, while imprisoned in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan, is forced to build a Jericho missile for the enemy by using other Stark Industry weapons the insurgents have somehow gotten their hands on.

Believing they will most likely kill him whether or not he complies with their request, Tony, who has been injured and must now wear a magnetic device on his chest to keep the shrapnel from entering his heart, decides to instead use the scrap metal provided for him to build a full-body armor, which can be controlled from within like a robot.

Thus, the prototypical Iron Man is born and later enhanced once Tony gets back home and begins working on a model as sleek as his personality. There to keep all his day-to-day responsibilities in check is Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), a loyal assistant who will most likely become a more integral part in Tony’s life in a future sequel.

Yes, sequels are in this franchise’s future, which means, unlike one-hit flicks like “Daredevil,” there’s actually some gusto behind the directorial style of Jon Favreau and a solid start for “Children of Men” screenwriters Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby and their team of comic book adaptors.

Despite some hollow characters played by Paltrow, Terrance Howard, and Jeff Bridges (Iron Monger just isn’t that interesting), it’s Downey Jr. who takes control of this entire prelude from start to finish. The others, however, are just making their debuts (Howard gives us a clue that he could be donning his own metallic suit in a future film), so it will be fascinating to see where the story can take us from here.

Don’t call Favreau Christopher Nolan just yet. Place him somewhere around the vicinity of Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man”) and thank whoever needs to be thanked for casting Downey Jr. and passing on names like Nicholas Cage and Ashton Kutcher.