Deadpool 2

May 22, 2018 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin
Directed by: David Leitch (“Atomic Blonde”)
Written by: Rhett Reese (“Deadpool”), Paul Wernick (“Deadpool”), Ryan Reynolds (debut)

Ignore the fact that “Deadpool 2” is one of the six live-action superhero films being released in theaters in 2018. Moviegoers love the specialty genre, and damned be any outsider who proclaims half a dozen action-packed pictures from the Marvel and DC catalogs is excessive. When a company is pulling in billions worldwide, it’s not good business acumen to turn your back on the genre.

That said, it’s also obvious that after so many additions to so many franchises, things are bound to get a little repetitious. Sometimes the best films don’t stand out from the crowded field. Besides a super geek, can anyone really tell the difference between “X-Men,” “X2,” “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” if shown a random fight scene? It’s no wonder critics fell for “Logan” so hard. It was fresh and new and not so Marvel-y.

In “Deadpool 2,” which is also technically an X-Men movie, director David Leitch (“Atomic Blonde”) and returning screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick decide the sequel should basically mirror the original, except this time with a pissed-off kid and a much-anticipated villain thrown into the mix. The combination should appease fans of the series who get a hard-on for pop culture references and extreme meta humor. But depending on your threshold for snark and self-awareness, “Deadpool 2” could either be a quippy masterpiece or a catty backhand to the face. Wherever you fall, it’s safe to say viewers can at least agree that it’s unapologetically crude and that Ryan Reynolds once again proves he is the perfect choice to play the titular anti-hero.

A quick spoiler-free synopsis (since Reynolds himself tweeted out a plea last week to “not say a fucking word about the fun shit in the movie”): Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson (Reynolds), is emotionally devastated after tragedy strikes. As he does in the original, he teams up with a few of the lesser-known X-Men, including newcomer Domino (Zazie Beetz), to try and corral Russell (Julian Dennison), a young, powerful mutant who has gone rogue. Also on the hunt for the mutant kid: Cable (Josh Brolin), a time-traveling, techno-organic bad dude (good dude?) driven by vengeance. How’s that for vague?

Aside from an interesting storyline or any real character development, “Deadpool 2” delivers on what it promises — a butt-load of double entendres, mostly funny comic-book humor, effective music choices (including a new Celine Dion song — ha!), exaggerated, “Kill Bill”-style violence and Reynolds hamming it up and delivering one-liners that will likely become memes in a few weeks. If you’re looking for anything else, Deadpool has a message for you: fuck off.

Ep. 114 – Deadpool 2, and Cody’s evening with the Duplass Brothers

May 20, 2018 by  
Filed under Podcast

This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review “Deadpool 2,” and Cody recaps An Evening with the Duplass Brothers in Austin.

Click here to download the episode!

Ep. 113 – Avengers: Infinity War (SPOILERS start at 10:02)

April 28, 2018 by  
Filed under Podcast

The CineSnob Podcast RETURNS to discuss the biggest superhero movie ever, “Avengers: Infinity War!”

WARNING: Cody and Jerrod talk spoilers starting a 10:02, so tread carefully, true believers!

Click here to download the episode!

Hail, Caesar!

February 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Sicario

October 2, 2015 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve (“Prisoners”)
Written by: Taylor Sheridan (debut)

As a life-long Texan, in the last 30 years I’ve seen Mexico’s border towns along the Rio Grande go from quick day trips where you could buy cheap tequila and handmade leather belts to cartel-run nightmares where violence rules and American tourists fear to tread. Four years ago, I stood on a rooftop in Eagle Pass, Texas – looking half a mile down the road into Piedras Negras – and wondered if it would ever be as safe as it was when I was a kid to pay 20 cents to walk across the international bridge. After seeing the fantastic “Sicario,” however, I’m thinking the border may not be somewhere I – or anyone else – will be able to safely visit (or live) again.

When a raid in suburban Phoenix looking for kidnap victims turns into a house of horrors and costs several Phoenix PD officers their lives, FBI special agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is invited to join a shadowy inter-agency mission with the CIA led by Matt Graver (Josh Brolin, sporting a perpetual shit-eating grin) and assisted by the mysterious Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro). Macer tags along to El Paso, only to find Special Forces soldiers gearing up for a grab-and-go mission into Juarez, Mexico, that culminates in the sort of casual international violence that would be an act of war if the interaction was between any nations other than the United States and Mexico. As Mercer dives deeper into the hell on Earth that is the Mexican border and the war on drugs, she finds herself torn between trying to cut the head off a snake via less than legal means or live with a never-ending war.

Director Denis Villeneuve isn’t shy about portraying Mexico as an essentially lawless hellhole dominated by drug cartels and unspeakable violence, a point of view that may serve to validate the ramblings of Donald Trump to certain interested parties. Politics aside, Villeneuve stages most of the action through Mercer’s point of view, pushing the character past her limits by making her a pawn in the game between the CIA, the cartel, and whoever it is Alejandro answers to. With explosive violence bubbling beneath the surface at times – none better than a white-knuckle traffic jam on an international bridge – and solid work from Blunt, Brolin, and Del Toro, “Sicario” is timely and powerful enough to excuse some minor faults that, from time to time, seem to place Del Toro’s character outside of the reality the rest of the movie inhabits. Even so, “Sicario” remains one of the best movies of the year.

Inherent Vice

January 8, 2015 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson (“The Master”)
Written by: Paul Thomas Anderson (“There Will Be Blood”)

It’s always gratifying to be able to go back and revisit the work of auteur filmmaking genius Paul Thomas Anderson, especially when his narrative sprawls into something your head is unable to put together after only one viewing. Truth be told, it took me a handful of screenings of “Magnolia,” “Punch-Drunk Love,” and “The Master” to fall madly in love with each of them (it was love at first sight with “Boogie Nights” and “There Will Be Blood;” “Hard Eight,” his first film, is good but not great). With his seventh feature film “Inherent Vice,” Anderson has done something that I honestly didn’t think he was capable of doing as a storyteller. After only experiencing the film twice, very little of it absorbed me emotionally in the way any of his past six films have done and, for the first time, I don’t feel like any amount of times I see the film to discover all the nuances of it will make me like it much more.

Maybe it’s because Anderson adapted “Vice” from the novel of the same name by reclusive and complicated author Thomas Pynchon (the first time Pynchon has ever allowed his work to be made into a film) and decided to capture the essence of what the writer put on the page no matter how convoluted it might turn out. Maybe it’s because, like Anderson always does, he wanted to show audiences something they had never seen before and prove just how vast his range really is by making a comedy neo-noir film with a dash of slapstick. Whatever the case, “Vice,” unfortunately, is the first Anderson film I cannot recommend. It’s highly inspired filmmaking and Anderson recreates the haziness and hippiness of 1970s Los Angeles with appeal, not to mention all the characterizations are extremely unique, but that screenplay (oh, that frustrating, confusing screenplay) is not something I’d consider a triumph no matter how close to Pynchon he was able to get. As eccentric as some critics might call his past work, it doesn’t get close to the off-tempo mess that is “Vice.” Anderson plays to the beat of his own drum (and I love that about him), but he’s influenced here by a higher power. Pynchon is in his head and it shows for better or worse. That might be great for Pynchon’s diehard fans, but he uses Anderson as a link to the outside world and it’s Anderson who is the one that comes out with the short end of the stick.

Labor Day

January 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Josh Brolin, Kate Winslet, Gattlin Griffith
Directed by: Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air”)
Written by: Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air”)

It’s a definitive strike one for four-time Oscar nominated director/writer/producer Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air,” “Juno”) with his new film “Labor Day,” a ridiculous love story adapted from a novel by Joyce Maynard, who, based on the way the film plays out, might come from the same school of fluff romanticism as Nicholas Sparks. We’re not quite sure what Reitman saw in the novel to engage him in this project, but whatever it was, he fails to translate that narrative into anything believable on the big screen. With such a strong track record since he started making features in 2005, it’s an extreme disappointment all around.

In “Labor Day,” single mother Adele (Kate Winslet) and her son Henry (Gattlin Griffith) are approached by Frank (Josh Brolin), a stranger in a department store, who asks for their help. Feeling threatened, Adele and Henry drive him to their home where they learn Frank is an escaped convict and wants to use Adele’s home as a hideout until it’s safe to hit the road at night. His plans to lay low, however, turn into something completely different when Frank and Adele start falling for each other. Blame it on the way Frank’s manly hands caress the dough when he teaches Adele and Henry how to bake a peach pie or the fact that Adele is a lonely, desperate woman, but the connection between the two is far more eye-roll inducing than could ever be imagined.

Sure, in every romance there is room for a little corniness and scenes to sweep viewers off their feet, but what Reitman presents here between Winslet and Brolin would’ve been better portrayed on the cover of a novel where a scantily clad Adele is pressed against Brolin’s bare-chested, chiseled physique while the two stand in a meadow with the title “Convict’s Seduction” printed in script under them. Their relationship is that absurd. Adele’s fantasy – if that’s what you want to call it – is that insincere. Let’s also not forget the film’s other shortcomings, which include a series of flashbacks that do nothing for the pacing of the film; a secondary and extremely underwritten storyline where Henry is experiencing his own sexual awakening with a local girl; unnecessary and lazily written narration read by Toby Maguire, who plays an adult Henry; and a handful of plot holes, one of which shows Frank playing Mr. Fix-It for Adele in full view of the neighbors even though he’s supposed to be hiding out from cops.

“Labor Day” is a frustrating film, especially since everyone involved simply should’ve known better. Winslet and Brolin seem invested in their characters and are try to sell their love as something magical and complex, but without a script to support their efforts, “Labor Day” ends up being a waste of a lot of great talent, not to mention a long weekend.

Gangster Squad

January 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer (“Zombieland”)
Written by: Will Beall (TV’s “Castle”)

As enjoyable as director Ruben Fleischer’s 2009 film “Zombieland” was (and to a lesser extent “30 Minutes or Less” in 2011), his foray into the criminal world of the 1940s with “Gangster Squad” is far from having the entertainment value a cast of this magnitude demands. It’s a glossed-over crime drama that feels like it’s been pulled straight from the Sunday funnies.

Hamming it up for the camera is two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn as gang leader and former boxer Mickey Cohen (an over-the-top role much like Al Pacino played in “Dick Tracy). If you need to know anything about Mickey, it’s that he owns everything in the Chicago area. You want guns? Go to Mickey. You want drugs? Mickey’s your man. You don’t play by the rules? Guess whose sending his tommy gun-toting goons to fill you with holes. Mickey.

On the right side of the law is Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin), who is given the task of recruiting a team of renegade police officers to do what very few lawmen would be brave enough to do: cross Mickey and his thugs and shut down his mob syndicate. Nevertheless, Sgt. O’Mara (with the help of his concerned wife, who “hand picks” the men she feels would best suit the job; a ridiculous notion) finds his men. They include Officers Coleman Harris (Anthony Mackie), Max Kennard (Robert Patrick) and his right-hand man Navidad Ramirez (Michael Peña), Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi), and Sgt. Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), the latter of whom has started to bed Mickey leading lady Grace Faraday (Emma Stone) because he can.

Aside from wishing it could be just as enticing as Brian De Palmas’ 1987 film “The Untouchables” (or any other acclaimed film in the genre of the last 75 years for that matter), “Gangster Squad” is not much more than a collection of talented actors playing dress up in their parent’s closet. Although the story based on true events, it’s diluted by Fleischer’s style-over-substance approach, which worked well in “Zombieland,” but not so much here. Will Beall’s screenplay also leaves much to be desired in character development. Each member of the skeleton crew Sgt. O’Mara fashions together is thinly-written.

What is a bit meatier, however, is Fleischer’s eye for ultra violence, which is bountiful throughout “Squad”  but ultimately gives the narrative minimal boost. If Fleischer and Beall focuses as much attention to the relationships and characters arcs as they did ripping a guy in half between two classic cars, “Gangster Squad” could’ve been a contender…at least in the amateur ranks.

Men in Black 3

May 25, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld (“Men In Black”)
Written by:  Etan Cohen (“Tropic Thunder”)

Released in 1997, the first “Men In Black” was a breezy, quirky summer movie hit that succeeded in blending an original, humor-and-alien-laden script with big-budget action and special effects. In the process, it also confirmed Will Smith’s mega-star status after he starred the year prior in the blockbuster hit “Independence Day.”  Of course a follow-up was a no-brainer, and everyone’s worst instincts took over. Infected with deadly sequel-bloat, 2002’s “Men In Black II” was a half-baked mess, an empty collection of CGI strung together by a limp screenplay that seemed more concerned with expanding minor kid-friendly jokes from the first film into full-fledged main characters than recapturing the satirical edge that made the original so enjoyable. What was once a promising franchise had been spectacularly mishandled, and when years went by with the summer movie season being ceded to comic book superheroes, the world at large figured the series had been left for dead. Never underestimate the power of an established name brand in Hollywood. No matter how creatively compromised, there’s always room to make money.

Directed once again by Barry Sonnenfeld, “Men In Black 3” opens deep within the walls of a lunar prison built to house dangerous intergalactic biker-ish criminal Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement, one half of Flight of the Conchords). With the help of a beautiful woman and a cake concealing a spidery/crabby cohort, Boris is able to escape and set in motion his plan to seek revenge on the man who locked him up and took his arm: Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). When K’s partner Agent J (Will Smith) learns Boris’ plan involves traveling back in time to kill K before he can deploy a planetary defense system, J jumps back to 1969 just before Boris’ arrival. J’s plan goes awry, however, when a young Agent K (Josh Brolin) apprehends him, forcing J, once again, to break through his future partner’s stoic demeanor in an effort to save the planet.

While this second sequel is easy to dismiss sight unseen, taking into account how much the last movie missed the mark and the fact that these characters have been in a deep freeze for 10 years, the end result is surprisingly enjoyable. “MIB 3” effectively ignores the second film entirely, with nary a mention of K’s five-year hiatus as a postmaster or Frank the Welcome-Wearing-Out Talking Bulldog. Instead, it tosses us directly into the day-to-day duties of K’s and J’s decade-and-half partnership as if they never missed a beat. While Jones comes off a little tired and disinterested (and really, his role is more or less a cameo), Smith seems invigorated by being back in the action/comedy/sci-fi saddle. Being the fish out of water suits Smith well and the movie really kicks into gear when he arrives in 1969. Credit Sonnenfeld and screenwriter Etan Cohen (“Tropic Thunder”) for not shying away from the perils an outspoken, well-dressed black man would face in the late-‘60s, especially when he’s driving a stolen car and carrying a weapon. The real standout, though, is Josh Brolin’s killer take on Agent K. Perfectly matching the cadence and demeanor of Tommy Lee Jones, Brolin makes the perfect foil to the wizened Smith, evoking with a wink the relationship established in the first film that made the characters so appealing. Clement also shines as the menacing, slightly-underwritten Boris, especially when he’s given the chance to dole out some trademark deadpan humor. And a cameo by SNL’s Bill Hader as Andy Warhol flies in the face of what you’d expect and brings big laughs in the process.

So whip out the neuralizer, zap away all memories of the second movie, and enjoy the film as the satisfying “Men In Black” follow-up adventure we should have gotten years ago.

True Grit

December 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld
Directed by: Joel Coen (“No Country for Old Men”) and Ethan Coen (“No Country for Old Men”)
Written by: Joel Coen (“No Country for Old Men”) and Ethan Coen (“No Country for Old Men”)

While the Coen brothers have dabbled with western themes in a few of their past films including “The Big Lebowski” and “No Country for Old Men,” the duo has finally tightened up their boot straps and given us their own dusty, old-fashioned take on the genre with such craftsmanship you would think they’ve been doing it for years. Without comparing the film to John Wayne’s original of 1969, the Coen’s version stands on its own with noteworthy performances by Jeff Bridges as a marshall out to get his man and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, who steals just about every scene she is in.

Josh Brolin – Jonah Hex

June 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Interviews

It’s safe to say Academy Award-nominated actor Josh Brolin has never played a role like the title character in “Jonah Hex.” Based on the DC Comics series, Jonah Hex is a disfigured bounty hunter who must stop Hell from unleashing on earth.

Brolin, who started his career in Hollywood in the classic adventure movie “The Goonies” in 1985, has since starred in a number of memorable films including “No Country for Old Men,” “In the Valley of Elah,” and “W,” where he portrayed President George W. Bush. In 2008, Brolin earned his first Academy Award nomination for his role as former San Francisco supervisor and Harvey Milk assassin Dan White in Gus Van Sant’s “Milk.”

During an interview with me, Brolin talked about the theme of revenge, his initial thoughts about the script, and why you could count him in if a sequel to “The Goonies” ever happens.

Were you able to identify with the character of Jonah Hex in any way?

I don’t think I identified with the character at all. He’s a very sad character who is broken and very angry. He’s a massive drinker and someone who has trouble making romantic commitments. I did have a lot of fun playing him because there are not a lot of consequences to his actions.

So, what does it take to immerse yourself into a role that is nothing like you and based very much on fantasy?

You do a lot of research and read a lot of things and watch a lot of different movies. I made sure to watch a lot of Robert Mitchum and Charles Bronson movies. The characters they played were somewhat serious but they also had the ability to have some levity and give some great one-liners. “Jonah Hex” comes from a premise that is very dark. But we also wanted to have some fun and make this revenge tale come together.

The theme of revenge in “Jonah Hex” is something many films, of course, have tackled in the past. Do you think vengeful tendencies are something that is inherent in all of us or is it just something fun to explore in movies?

Look, we’re not all sociopaths but I think we all have that thing inside of us where jealousy creeps into envy or vengeance creeps into sociopathic tendencies. But I think we’re all fairly able to deal with our own anger. At the same time, we’re not dealing with someone who is taking our family [like Jonah Hex].

I guess it all depends on the type of person you are whether or not you would seek out revenge.

Yeah, different people have different abilities. The thing with a revenge tale is that it’s not real. I think we can all identify with where that comes from, but now we are making it into a hugely dramatic situation that is completely blown out of proportion. I mean, this guy lives in this constant purgatory. It makes it totally fantastical. But then, even if you’re riding your bike down the street and some guy throws a rock at you most people will want to stop the bike and do something about it. Normally you don’t because not everyone is a bully like that. “Jonah Hex” is a manifestation of those wants and needs.

Jonah Hex is unlike any character you’ve played before. What was it about the comic book world that made you want to be a part of it, especially after MTV quoted you saying when you first read the script you thought it was “awful?”

I said awful because I thought it was really gimmicky. But once I started imagining different actors in it and all the possibilities of what we could do that became really interesting to me. It seems to me – in hindsight – that the movies that I decide to do are the movies I react to the most. I said no to Oliver Stone three times for “W.” There have been some movies that I haven’t done because I couldn’t see myself doing it. Sometimes it takes the confidence of somebody else telling you that you can do this and that they can see you doing it. “Jonah Hex” is a type of movie I’ve never attempted before. The risk became very interesting to me. It was fun to make although it was a pain in the ass to deal with those prosthetics. But at the end of the day you want to be able to look at the movie and say, “I’m really glad I did that” no matter what hardships you go through.

You’re not just an actor. You’re involved in all facets of the movie industry. Does that hinder or help you when you’re on the set? Do you try to go beyond your responsibilities as an actor?

Yes, but I’m always respectful of directors and studios and producers. I respect the creative process. John Malkovich brought in a lot of ideas [to “Jonah Hex”]. I try to bring in as many ideas as I can. Even if I’m doing something like “No Country for Old Men” I’m trying to think of the entire story. I try to not be narcissistic and think, “How can I look good in this” and instead think “How does this lend itself to the story and the big picture of everything.” There’s no particular reason why I’m like that. It’s not like I want to be like that or force myself to be like that. It’s just my natural perspective.

“Jonah Hex” director Jimmy Hayward said to play the title character you needed this “badass attitude.” Is that something you have to maintain even when the cameras aren’t rolling?

Nah, man, we try to have as much fun as we can. I’m constantly thinking about what we can do better. I’m sure I have “that look” on my face whatever “that look” is because of the prosthetics and because of the intense heat and humidity of Louisiana or the fact that I had three layers of wool. That definitely lead to whatever scowl I had on. I think if we [had shot the movie] at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles it wouldn’t have been the same character.

Producer Richard Donner recently stated that a “Goonies” sequel was “a definite thing.” If that is true, would you like to be a part of that project?

I’ve talked about it with them off and on about the possibilities of that. I saw Steven [Spielberg] in the street a couple of months ago and I asked, “What’s the reality of this, man? Is there a script? Are we going to do it?” He told me there’s been a bunch of different scripts and we’ve talked about it, but nothing has come up that we want to really fasten ourselves to. But, yes, I’m loyal to [“The Goonies”]. That was the beginning of my career and it was an incredible shot that they gave me. I feel the same about Richard and Steven as I do about the Coens. To me I love them as filmmakers and I would probably do anything they wanted me to be involved with unless I thought the role was ridiculous.

Milk

December 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, James Franco
Directed by: Gus Van Sant (“Good Will Hunting”)
Written by: Dustin Lance Black (TV’s “Big Love”)

With all the governmental conspiracy in the news today (we’re finger wagging at you Gov. Blagojevich) and a blast-from-the-past take on the Richard Nixon scandal in the upcoming “Frost/Nixon,” a story of positive political effort is always welcomed even if the film ends on a tragic and all-too-real note.

The life of protagonist Harvey Milk (Sean Penn in an Oscar-worthy performance) in the biopic “Milk” is one of pain and rejection, but also one of perseverance and hope for a country caught in a social crossroads in the 1970s. The film, of course, becomes more prevalent today with the aftermath of Proposition 8 still looming in California causing the line between human rights and gay rights to blur more and more as both sides fight to define marriage.

In “Milk,” the Gay Movement is brought to the forefront through powerful storytelling and an interesting combination of narrative and old footage of news conferences, rallies, and the uprising of gay men and women through the streets of San Francisco.

Penn captures Milk’s essence in one of the best performances of the year. As Milk, he is able to skillfully develop the character between the different stages of his life – from a novice business owner to a gay rights activist to his election as a member of the city’s Board of Supervisors, a position that offered him a taller soap box to stand up on behalf of his fellow gay constituency.

While Penn is the virtuoso in this political opera, his supporting cast is just as riveting. As Milk’s first lover Scott Smith, James Franco (“Pineapple Express”) brings out the most human side of the larger-than-life politician. Franco’s affection for Harvey as a man and his affliction to understand him as a man of the people is valuable in seeing the entire picture. As Dan White, the man who ultimately ends up assassinating Milk and San Francisco mayor George Moscone (played by Victor Garber) in 1978, Josh Brolin is a complex character worthy of dissection. Between him and Franco, at least one of them should have an Oscar nomination come January.

It’s also great to see director Gus Van Sant ascend from his last three provoking albeit lesser-known films known as the “Death Trilogy” (“Gerry,” “Last Days” and “Elephant”). He goes a bit more mainstream in “Milk” but never bends in ways that are out of his element.

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