Movie News

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Ron Howard Lists

Dan Here:

Time for another round of Best Of Lists.

Previously we have listed the Best Of Concert MoviesMovie BarsMatt DamonJohnny Depp

Today, Academy Award winning director Ron Howard's new film, RUSH hits theaters.
It's an action flick set around 1970's Formula 1 racing and focuses on the rivalry between the sport's two top drivers, James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl).
The South of North/South Film, Chris Henson, has already seen it and given it high praise.
You can read his full 4.5 Star Review here.

For some folks, Ron Howard is an actor.
He's Opie from 'The Andy Griffith Show' or Richie Cunningham from 'Happy Days'.
Those shows were beyond belief huge and ubiquitous in a way that is impossible to duplicate.
Over 30 million people saw Fonzie "Jump The Shark", and that only gave it 3rd place that week.
He was a huge star as an actor, but his transformation into a top director is how I think of him.
So it's time for . . .


Chris's Review: ‘Rush’ is a focused, heart-pounding thrill ride

America has a unique relationship with sports. While the rest of the world idolizes soccer, we here in the U.S. obsess over football, baseball, and basketball – college, pros, and fantasy. But over the past several years, NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) has emerged as a major interest for sports fans as well.  

Like football, NASCAR is a mostly unique-to-America phenomenon (though it does have an international presence).  It is not that people in other countries do not love fast cars, adrenaline-pumping races, and the threat of high speed crashes - in fact, they like their racing even faster and more dangerous. 

Formula One Racing (F1) is not unknown in America, but it definitely takes a backseat to NASCAR. Because of this, a movie about F1 race car drivers could be a rather risky proposition for Hollywood. Or is it an advantage because most do not know much about it or one of the sport’s most famous rivalries?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dan's Discs-- IRON MAN 3

Today, IRON MAN 3 has been released on Blu-Ray and DVD, no word on the Laserdisc.
Director, Shane Black and star, Robert Downey Jr. breathed new life into a franchise that was at a crossroads and the result is one of the best Marvel films to date. 
You can read my full four star review here.

Let's face it, IRON MAN 2 was a debacle. 
Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell are great actors, and Jon Favreau can direct.
However, the film suffered from flat dialogue and a Tony Stark that wasn't very likable.
It did not recapture the charm of the original and is an average sequel at best.

Then, THE AVENGERS was unleashed on the masses.
It was great, it tied in all the characters well and made an insane amount of money.
We knew there would be AVENGERS 2 (and obviously, 3).
So how many more times were we going to get to spend two hours with Tony Stark?

IRON MAN 3 is one more big adventure with our old wisecracking pal.
The action is great and the dialogue is snappy. 
Stark is funnier than ever and Pepper Potts' expanded story line is welcome.
It's the perfect follow-up to AVENGERS and could be the highest grossing film of 2013.

In my mind, I know that there will be an IRON MAN 4, but that's it.
At least for Robert Downey Jr., who is so iconic as the Iron Man, he is impossible to replace.
Looked what happened when they named Ben Affleck as the new Batman.
People freaked out over a character who has been played by 4 different actors, in 15 years.
I pity the actor who will step into the Mark 2020 Suit. 

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Chris's Review Roundup (Aug & Sept)

When I am not posting articles here at North/South Film, I also cover film news and events in New Orleans for several different outlets, mainly After putting in my dues for a couple of years, I finally started getting invited to local press screenings and Hollywood studio-backed events.

Most of the movies I get to review are indie, foreign, and documentaries, but every now and then, I get to attend advanced screenings of the big-name films – and  I have posted those reviews on North/South (Elysium, 2 Guns, Blue Jasmine, etc.).

But instead of double-posting all my reviews both here and there, I decided to do a monthly film review round-up with links to all my published reviews in one post.

Lots of these movies are still in theaters or can be seen On Demand. So if you would like to read one, some, or all of them . . . check out the reviews after the jump (and thanks for reading!):

This Week in Movie Trailers: Robocop, Parkland, Grudge Match, Escape From Tomorrow, Under the Skin, and Blue is the Warmest Color

Well, it has certainly been awhile (3-4 weeks, at least) - and for that, I apologize. But we are back now with another exciting installment of This Week in Movie Trailers. And given the lengthy lay-off, I have got plenty of them for you, so let's get started.

RoboCop (Dir. José Padilha)

In 2028 Detroit, when Alex Murphy - a loving husband, father and good cop - is critically injured in the line of duty, the multinational conglomerate OmniCorp sees their chance for a part-man, part-robot police officer. A remake of the beloved 1987 Paul Verhoeven film.

Starring:  Joel Kinnaman, Abbie Cornish, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Jay Baruchel, Jackie Earle Haley, Michael K. Williams, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Release Date: February 7, 2014

Parkland (Dir. Peter Landesman)

A recounting of the chaotic events that occurred at Dallas' Parkland Hospital on the day U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. 

Starring: Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton, Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Colin Hanks, Ron Livingston, Tom Welling, Mark Duplass, James Badge Dale, and Jackie Earle Haley

Release Date: October 4

Divergent (Dir. Neil Burger)

Beatrice Prior, a teenager with a special mind, finds her life threatened when an authoritarian leader seeks to exterminate her kind in her effort to seize control of their divided society.

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ray Stevenson, Miles Teller, Zoe Kravitz, Mekhi Phifer, Maggie Q, and Kate Winslet

Release Date: March 21, 2014

Grudge Match (Dir. Peter Segal)

A pair of aging boxing rivals are coaxed out of retirement to fight one final bout -- 30 years after their last match. 

Starring: Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, Kim Basinger, Kevin Hart, Jon Bernthal, and Alan Arkin

Release Date: December 25

Blue is the Warmest Color (Dir. Abdellatif Kechiche)

The story of a young lesbian couple's beginning, middle and possible end. 

Starring: Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos

Release Date: October 25 

Check out more trailers, including: Great Expectations, Homefront, Escape from Tomorrow, A.C.O.D., Under the Skin, Grace of Monaco, The Book Thief, and many, many more after the jump!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Today, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS hits store shelves.
If you read our Best Of The Year So Far, then you know that this is my favorite film of 2013.
It has laughs, incredible action, great call backs to the Trek Universe and once again, J.J. Abrams shows that he is one of the best directors working. I didn't think it was possible for INTO DARKNESS to surpass 2009's STAR TREK, but it came awfully close and was so good, I saw it twice.

When we rejoin Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and the rest of the USS Enterprise crew, they are attempting to stop a volcano from destroying a far flung planet. Kirk, as usual, is not exactly stewarding by the book and it could have dire consequences for the whole team. As in STAR TREK, the exciting opening sequence sets the tone for the film: 
Kirk tends to fly by the seat of his pants, but at what cost?

As we get our answers, Abrams again concocts the perfect mixture of action, humor and heart. The jokes and references come fast and often. We get Spock one-liners, sight gags and witty banter, while the exposition is seamlessly integrated. The film moves quickly and never gets boring. If all movies could move at the pace of IRON MAN or STAR TREK, I'd live a happier life.

In addition to all of the favorites from the first film (including my homie, Keenser), we have a few newcomers that factor in heavily. First is John Harrison (played extraordinarily by Benedict Cumberbatch), who is a Starfleet officer gone rogue and committing acts of terrorism. By now, you probably know that Harrison is not exactly who/what he seems (gloriously, the secret was unspoiled for me), resulting in some great thrills. Cumberbatch blew me away and gave this movie what the 2009 TREK didn't have: a great villain.

The next newbie is scientist Carol Marcus (Alice Eve). She has deep ties to some of the powers that be and also has some sparks fly with our Captain. She fits right in with the rest of the witty characters and was a welcome addition to a series that really only has one other female character. I would have been satisfied with more adventures from the same old crew, but Cumberbatch and Eve both contributed well and I would hope/assume they are both back for the next installment.

In an age where almost everything is a sequel, Abrams has made the best one, two film combination in years. Think I'm being hyperbolic? THE GODFATHER PART II, EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS were the last time that a second film in the series even came close topping the original. STAR TREK and STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS are top level work, on the grandest scale, that entertain from start to finish. Or more simply, the reason that I go to the movies.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dan's Discs-- NOW YOU SEE ME

NOW YOU SEE ME is an action/thriller that didn't have great action and wasn't very thrilling.
It also wasn't funny, which seemed impossible on paper, considering the cast.
Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco and even the usually serious Mark Ruffalo, are all very good comedic actors. Plus, we've already seen great chemistry between Eisenberg and Harrelson in ZOMBIELAND, which is easily one of the best comedies in years. 

All of them, plus Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Mélanie Laurent, in a caper/heist film revolving around bank-robbing-magicians should have made for a great afternoon at the cinema. However, the film almost wholly abandons the jokes after the first fifteen minutes and goes down a rabbit hole of exposition, repetitive action and side story after side story, that are all there to tie-in to the big "surprise ending". Now I won't spoil it for you, but I trust that it won't be that shocking to anyone who made it through the first 100 minutes. Was it truly terrible, no, but it's boring to the core. There has already been news that a sequel will be made, but that is entirely box office driven. After all, movies that don't cost a lot, but make a lot are still what studios want most.

At least one funny thing happened as a result of this movie:
Jesse Eisenberg destroyed an ill-prepared (and for the record, embarrassingly bad) "reporter" during a press junket. She eventually went on TV to call him a bully and the video has almost a million hits, so I'm sure this was the best possible result for her. He was sharp and curt, but I for one was glad to see somebody who takes their career seriously and isn't there to sell his soul, hyping up a film that isn't that good. Check out the video below and form your own opinion, but it definitely made me like and respect Eisenberg, even more. I'll take great comedy as I can get it.

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