Movie News

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Jamie Foxx Lists

If there is one thing we like to do here at North/South Film, it is argue about movies. In what we are hoping to turn into a more regular posting, The North and I have presented dueling Top 5 (sometimes 10) Lists for Stanley Kubrick, Michael Bay, and just last week, the late director, Tony Scott.

This time around, with the opening of White House Down (the second “Die Hard in the White House” movie of the year – Read my review of the first: Olympus Has Fallen here), we decided to see how the past movies of its star, Jamie Foxx, stacked up.

Foxx has a fairly diverse filmography, especially since he began his career almost solely making dumb comedies before radically shifting gears towards more serious fare. Since his big Oscar win a few years ago, he has been in a string of supporting roles in comedies and action films and few failed dramatic turns. With big upcoming roles in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the Annie remake, Foxx's varied resume continues to grow.

So without further ado, let’s see how Dan and I rank the films of Jamie Foxx:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Top 10 Best Movie/Video Game Combos--Part I: Dishonorable Mentions

I have been on a mission to find the greatest Movie and Video Game Combination of All-Time.

The criteria was simple:

1. The Movie and the Video Game Must Be Directly Related.

We can call this THE WIZARD rule.
When I asked for submissions, many people said THE WIZARD and "Super Mario Brothers 3".
Of course I would love to count THE WIZARD!
It is one of my seminal films and I truly love it.
I've seen it well over fifty times.
Lucas Barton was my hero and idol. 

However, THE WIZARD is NOT eligible for this title.
If they had made an NES game based on the film, where you travel the country side with you brother on a skateboard, no doubt it would have been included in the Top 10. 
Alas, we were deprived of a Jimmy Woods side-scroller.

Same thing for THE KING OF KONG and "Donkey Kong" are both great, but are not eligible.

2. The Movie and the Video Game Do Not Have To Be Identical.

Meaning, any game and film combination from the same franchise counts.
For example, HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN as the movie and "Harry Potter and The Chamber Of Secrets" as the game. 
The game does not have to be the exact iteration of the film.
It's a franchise wide combination.

3. Pinball Machines Don't Count

It's a whole different discussion.
There are tons of great pinball machines based on movies.
In fact, you name a big movie and it probably has a decent pinball machine.
So sadly, The Adams Family Pinball, which is truly great, was ineligible.

4. The Movie Must Have Gotten A Theatrical Release.

Click Below To See Which Combos Did Not Make THE TOP 10 in our Dishonorable Mentions

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dan's Discs--The Incredible Burt Wonderstone


When THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE was about to be released, I posted this.
Basically I was writing down my inner debate on whether or not I should venture to the cinema to check it out. I broke it down into a Pro and Con List:

The Pros: 

1. Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey .--- That's a quality Big 3. 
2. I enjoy Olivia Wilde, James Gandolfini and Alan Arkin. --- Nice Support Staff.
3. Don Scardino. --- He's from TV, but that TV was Directing/Producing '30 Rock'. 

On paper, we have a good movie. 
Carell always delivers.
Jim Carrey is making his comeback this year, with this and KICK-ASS 2.
So we "go to there" , right?
Not yet. 

The Con:

1. The reviews are not good.  Not Good At All. 

A 38% on Rotten Tomatoes pretty much means one thing: it's not funny.
The score is not because reviewers dislike Steve Carell.
In fact, they love him. 
Good comedy, usually gets recognized.

Comedies are venturing into harsh territory in the age of social media. If they are definitively hated by reviewers, that opinion can have serious repercussions at the box-office. I wanted to see THE INTERNSHIP, but less than three weeks after it's release it's already gone from all my local theaters. Same story with THE HANGOVER PART 3. It was supposed to be a blockbuster, but after it was savaged online, it disappeared quietly and quickly. 

I am not beholden to reviews, but when it was all said on done, I skipped the theater trip for WONDERSTONE, and waited for today's release. The film did terribly at the box-office, but hopefully it's high points will be enjoyed on DVD. I also had forgotten until today that this was one of James Gandolfini's last roles. He does have a few performances that were completed before his death and have not been released, but for now, WONDERSTONE is the answer to a trivia question. I have no idea if this movie is great, good or terrible, but with all of the comedic star power, I'm going to bet you won't regret dropping the $1.28 at a RedBox.

Can we still have great comedies?
Of course.
I thought THIS IS THE END was very funny and I have high hopes for THE HEAT, which comes out this week. Deftly, they have not allowed any reviews of THE HEAT to be posted yet, which is the right play in this new era. You want your best jokes and material to hit in the theater, not on somebody's computer. They have not saturated the trailers with every gag in the film. The jokes shown are relatively tame, and you know that the rest of the movie must be pretty wild because it is R-rated. If a comedy is really funny, it doesn't stay a secret for very long, but increasingly, if reviewers give it the kibosh, it might be in trouble at the box-office. However, you are always going to want to head to theater for a laugh, it's therapeutic. So once in a while, save the reviews until after you see it.

Follow Us On Twitter For Movie News: @NorthSouthFilm

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dan's Review--WORLD WAR Z

(Spoilers Only If You Have No Clue What The Movie Is About)

The un-dead are everywhere.
If you have turned on a TV or a computer in the last five years, you know what I'm talking about.
The TWILIGHT franchise, 'The Walking Dead', ZOMBIELAND,'True Blood', "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies", 'The Vampire Diaries', etc. These films, books and television shows, plus many more, about the living-dead who terrorize us (and in some cases, save us) have become insanely popular and mainstream. You are more likely to hear somebody talking about Zombies and/or Vampires than talking about baseball. WORLD WAR Z is a thrilling film that takes the zombie apocalypse craze to a level we have never seen before. It is a refreshing entry into a genre that has been limited by repetition and it gives us the next step in the zombie evolution: speed. 

The film begins with a very good title sequence. Scenes of everyday, human life, intercut with scenes of nature. At first everything in the scenes are normal, then slowly grow more and more disturbing. The effect is exacerbated as the rate at which the shots are shown increases in frequency. Scarier stuff, coming faster and faster. Remember the Wonkatania-tunnel sequence in WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY? It's like that, except you know this is only the beginning of the horror.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Tony Scott Lists

First there were The Stanley Kubrick Lists.
Then The Michael Bay Lists.
Now we will take a look at the director who changed the Action Movie genre forever.

Today would have been Tony Scott's 69th Birthday.
He left us too soon, but gave us many classic films and carved out a legacy in the business.
Big films, with big stars, innovate cinematic techniques and a signature style. 
That's how I would "define" Tony Scott's work.
He directed 16 features and we've both ranked our Top 5.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Happy Birthday Roger Ebert/Past Ebert Archive

This Tuesday marks a little departure from the norm, here at North/South.
This will be the first (and only) Tuesday where there will be no new edition of Dan's Discs.
That's because today would have been Roger Ebert's 71st Birthday!
In addition to his birthday, there has been amazing news that acclaimed documentary director, Steve James, will be making a doc on Mr. Ebert, titled LIFE ITSELF (which was also the name of Ebert's amazing memoir, which you should buy, here). 

Ebert and James have a true connection because it was Ebert whom championed James' seminal film, HOOP DREAMS (which is in My All-Time Top 5 Films).
I can't wait for this and it is already my most anticiapted release of 2014.
You can follow the making of the film on twitter: @EbertMovie
Now let's take some time to celebrate a man who gave so much to film fans across the world.

As you may have already read, we are huge fans of Mr. Ebert.
His death has left a huge hole in many hearts, as well as changed Thursdays forever.
I tried my best to thank him, but I could never express enough gratitude for what he gave me.
While we will not get new reviews from the master, we still have the wealth of his past writings to read, dissect and enjoy. 

His genius should not be forgotten and that was why I began the recurring column, Past Ebert.
I would guess that I have read over a thousand of his reviews and most of his books.
Please take some time and read through our Past Ebert posts and enjoy the work of one of the Greatest American Writers of All-Time. The links at the bottom of this page will take you to our posts and the posts have links which will redirect you to, which is the best film rabbit hole in existence. You can spend days, and I have, on his site and you will learn more about film and writing than you could have possibly imagined. 

Below is a list of all the previous Past Ebert columns. In addition to checking them out, please go to our Twitter timeline (@NorthSouthFilm) because in the Tweets from 4/4 to 4/5, there is a life's worth of stories, pictures, videos, reviews, thoughts and thank yous to man that many people in the film community attribute their chosen careers and passions to. I RT'd more than a hundred posts on those days and I promise that if you love Ebert you will not be disappointed.

Roger Ebert may be gone, but he will not be forgotten.
Thank you, Mr. Ebert, for everything you did for a film-obsessed kid from Vermont.
I will always, see you, at the movies.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Dan's Review--MAN OF STEEL

Zack Snyder loves action.
The director of other rollicking films, like 300 and SUCKER PUNCH, has honed his passion in MAN OF STEEL, the newest reboot of the Superman Franchise. Here, he plies his trade with incredible ambition and gives us possibly the biggest and most destructive fight ever put on film. However, the massive action sequence dominates the movie and leaves us wanting more from the story and more connection to the would-be Superman.

The film starts on Planet Krypton with the natural birth of son, Kal-El, to Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and his wife. The birth constitutes a violation of the law on the planet, which uses genetically engineered births to further their political and societal motives. The planet itself is in peril, due to the mining of their natural resources at the planet's core. Jor-El advises Krypton's Council to abandon the planet and take with them a "Codex" containing the history and genetic information necessary to re-engineering their species if need be.  

General Zod (Michael Shannon) of the planet's military forces, who along with Jor-El, also advocated against the resource mining, uses his command to stage a coup. He wants the Codex for his own motives and will stop at nothing to build a new and better Krypton. With the planet facing certain doom and now the possible loss of it's salvation, Jor-El sends the Codex along with his newborn son to Earth, where he hopes he will choose his own path and become something special. Zod and his rebels are stopped and sentenced to banishment, but Kal-El has certainly made his first enemy, as Zod vows to find him.

I was pleased that when we first get to see Kal-El on Earth that he is fully grown (and played well by Henry Cavill) and has use of some of his powers. MAN OF STEEL avoided a classic origin story trap of a linear plot. Instead of having to wait an hour for our hero to become our hero, we get to see him use his abilities right away. Of course we want to see how he grew up and his struggle to understand what/who he is, but this is done through the use of flashbacks throughout the film, as his past and present stories are interwoven.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

This Week in Movie Trailers: Wolf of Wall Street, Anchorman 2, Snowpiercer, Salinger, and Diana, plus Hobbit and 300 sequels

This week we have another jam-packed selection of new movie trailers (15!) to share with you. So let's get started . . .

My favorite part of this maybe Ethan Suplee dancing in the background
This is a big one, so it automatically moves to the top of the list (this one & my Most Anticipated List) - the new trailer for Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street hit tonight. Needless to say, it looks awesome. I have already read so many comments saying the film looks Goodfellas-like - and that ain't a bad comparison.

The Wolf of Wall Street stars Leonardo Di Caprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, John Favreau, Kyle Chandler, John Bernthal, Rob Reiner, Ethan Suplee, and Jean Dujardin. The film is based on the memoir by Jordan Belfort. It lands in theaters November 15.

Another update, this time it's the first trailer for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which came online late last night. So of course, I had to add it to the list immediately!

The trailer looks . . . well, pretty funny. Needless to say, we are still really looking forward to it, regardless of the first impression. The whole gang is back - Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell, David Koechner, and Christina Applegate, plus a whole helluva lot of cameos that are far too many to list.

Third, we have the new trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second film in the new trilogy from Peter Jackson based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkein. 

To be completely honest, I just got around to seeing the first film – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – and I was a little underwhelmed. By no means is it a bad movie, just not nearly as entertaining or enthralling as The Lord of the Ring series. The new films skew quite a bit more toward the family-entertainment side of things, but this trailer has gotten me a bit excited again. It looks a lot more enticing and I am excited to see some new blood (Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch), plus more Lee Pace and the return of Legolas (Orlando Bloom).

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smog hits theaters December 13.

Fourth, is a film I am pretty interested in seeing – Snowpiercer. In a future where, after a failed experiment to stop global warming, an Ice Age kills off all life on the planet except for the inhabitants of the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe and is powered by a sacred perpetual-motion engine. A class system evolves on the train but a revolution brews.

Snowpiercer stars Chris Evans, John Hurt, Ed Harris, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, and Tilda Swinton. The film is based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige and is the English-language debut of South Korean director Joon-ho Bong (The Host, Mother).

Snowpiercer has no U.S. release date yet, but I would be surprised if you did not see it out by the end of the year.

Next, we have 300: Rise of an Empire, the seemingly unnecessary prequel/sequel to 2006’s ridiculously over-the-top and bro-tastic 300 (I am not a fan, in case you couldn’t tell). Both films are based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller (Sin City).

With original director Zack Snyder off making Man of Steel, the sequel turns to Noam Murro as director. Lena Headey returns as Queen Gorgo and Rodrigo Santoro is back as Xerxes. But other than that, it is brand new cast (and clearly, a brand new story) of lesser stars and relative unknowns, save Eva Green. 300: Rise of an Empire hits theaters in March of next year.
Check out more trailer after the jump:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


The North Here:

With MAN OF STEEL anticipation reaching a fever pitch, we should look to the past for solace.
So it's time for another edition of PAST EBERT!

From what I have gathered from the MAN OF STEEL trailers, clips and articles there is definitely going to be material that is similar to Richard Donner's 1978 classic, SUPERMAN. I think MAN OF STEEL will do well to pay homage to a great film that is often overlooked. Especially now that SUPERMAN's place in history should be lauded more than ever before. 

Comic Book properties are dominating the box office now, but this was an incredibly original film when it was released in 1978. I think a lot of modern audiences can't really enjoy a film with visual effects that are now outdated. If you show a kid TRANSFORMERS, don't expect him to be blown away by STAR WARS. With jaded audiences, past films don't garner the credit and respect they deserve. Well guess who did credit and respect SUPERMAN? Yup. Our hero, Roger Ebert.

Mr. Ebert gave the film the highest seal of approval with his 4 Star Review.
He then went further and wrote an essay on it for an edition of 'The Great Movies'.
You can read the full essay here in which he praises the special effects. 
Here is an excerpt:

'"Superman's" most influential element is probably its special effects. Superman did lots of stunts in his earlier incarnations in movie serials and on TV, but rarely had effects like these been linked to the genre. Some of his heroics are frankly laughable, as when he descends to the bottom of a rift in the earth caused by an earthquake and literally pushes the early back up into place. Or when he flies into the exhaust of a missile and tilts it off course. And in the height of absurdity, he flies so fast around the planet that he reverses time and saves Lois Lane' life. The problems of logic presented by that stunt beggar the imagination.
But the point is, these effects on a vast scale are done well, and they upped the ante in the superhero genre. They are done traditionally, with back projection, traveling matte shots, blue screen, optical printers and all the other tools rendered obsolete by CGI. Is it only my imagination that the old-fashioned effects seem to have more weight and presence?'

It's smart thinking, real talk (and great writing) that separated Roger Ebert from the crowd. In one paragraph, he criticizes the absurdity of some of the effects, but understands that past visual techniques have a certain gravitas that make films like SUPERMAN and STAR WARS unique. Sure the effects in MAN OF STEEL and EPISODE VII will be "better" than the predecessors. Whether or not they will stand the test of time, like their ancestors have, remains to be seen. Enjoy the next iteration of the Man Of Steel, but don't forget the places he's been.

Follow Us On Twitter For Movie News, Links and Reviews: @NorthSouthFilm 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Today is a very special New Release Tuesday at North/South.

When Chris and I started this site, there was a certain, yet-to-be-released film that sparked a war.
We had nothing but trailers, stills and interviews on which to base our opinions.
Yet somehow each of us had a visceral reaction to the forthcoming release.
They just happened to be completely opposite.
I thought the film could be great and Chris gave it absolutely no chance to even be watchable.
In the end, one of us would be "right" and the other chastised ad infinitum.

Here's how it went down:
I was not shocked when Chris told me OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL would be "awful".
At the time there were really only two options: be excited for Sam Raimi's vision or be weary.
The film had so many questions to answer that it was obvious many people would be skeptical.
Could it live up to the original?
Could James Franco really carry the film?
Would it be dark like Tim Burton's ALICE IN WONDERLAND?

I played devil's advocate and in this post and brought all of the key questions to the table.
I also used to it take a shot at Chris by exposing that he doesn't really like THE WIZARD OF OZ.
I even brought in our in our mutual hero, Roger Ebert, to further embarrass him.
Chris was forced to defend himself and his positions on both films, which he did, here.
There was no going back from there.
The first blog war had begun.
And once the film was released there was a clear winner (me) and a loser (him).

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL was/is a great movie!
I gave it 4 Stars out of 5 in my full review and I implore you to watch and enjoy this film.
It has good humor, lots of clever nods to the original and is visually stunning.
It is not dark, but it is more real and adult than the original.
In addition to the wonderful direction by Sam Raimi, you get the best out of James Franco.
Franco's Oz was always going to make or break this film and I am glad to say, he was great.

The film was a resounding hit and is definitely one of the best films I have seen this year.
I would not be surprised if it gets some awards attention for the visual effects.
Of course not.
Dorothy and the gang earned their place in history and they will never be forgotten.
However, let it be know that The Wizard has risen again and is truly GREAT AND POWERFUL.

Oh, and don't forget that I was right and Chris was so very, very wrong.

Follow Our Twitter Feed For Everything Movies: @NorthSouthFilm

Friday, June 7, 2013

This Week in Movie Trailers: Machete Kills, The To Do List, A Most Wanted Man, Insidious 2, and Filth

Again this week, I have got a whole heckuvalot of new movie trailers for you to peruse, criticize, and get excited over. So let’s get right to it:

First up is Machete Kills, the Grindhouse-styled sequel from Robert Rodriguez.

In his third big screen appearance (first as a faux trailer in the Rodriguez/Tarantino double feature Grindhouse, then later in his own full-length spin-off), Machete – played by the always great Danny Trejo – is recruited by the U.S. government to take down an arms dealer.

I loved the faux trailer and was mildly amused by the first film, not sure the gimmick has the legs to keep going for another whole movie (or the already rumored threequel, which supposedly send Machete into space!)

Joining Trejo this time around are Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, Cuba Gooding Jr., Edward James Olmos, Demian Bichir, Amber Heard, Jessica Alba, Sophia Vegara, Vanessa Hudgens, Lady Gaga, and Antonio Banderas. Machete Kills his way into theaters September 13.

Second is Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen’s annual appearance at the movie theater this year.  

Now I love Woody Allen, but even his most ardent fans cannot deny his spotty filmography over the past decade-plus. For every Match Point or Midnight in Paris, there is an Anything Else and You Will Meet a Talk Dark Stranger. But this new trailer looks promising, but then again, so did some of the others. I will always have faith in Woody to come through every now and then, but I am realistic – hopefully this one ends up in the plus column.

As usual, Allen has packed the film with a star-studded cast, including Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, Louis C.K., Michael Stuhlbarg, Sally Hawkins, and Andrew Dice Clay. Blue Jasmine graces theaters June 26.

Check out more new movie trailers after the jump:

Chris's Review: ‘The Purge’ is serviceable, but lightweight and befuddled thriller

The Purge has an interesting concept ripe for satire and/or social commentary. Once a year, during the government sanctioned “Purge,” all crime (including murder) is legal for a 12-hour, overnight period (that means no emergency services either) – so basically like a Hunger Games for criminals and revenge seekers. Thanks to this one terrifying night, where people run around like wannabe assassins and horror movie villains, the year round crime rate and other unsavory aspects of society (like unemployment, etc.) are at all-time lows.

By 2022, The Purge has been in effect for a few years after being put in place by a group calling themselves the “New Founding Fathers” (who are, of course, the only ones completely protected against harm). The Purge is designed to serve as a catharsis for American citizens, giving them a chance to vent all negative emotions and express dark impulses.

But this, like most things, all boils down to money. Wealthy people can afford protection – security devices, gated neighborhoods, and ultimately modifying their homes into fortresses – whereas the poor, especially the sick, weak, and/or homeless, are basically left defenseless and fodder for those so inclined and looking to release some culturally accepted carnage.

Chris's Review: ‘This is the End’ is over-the-top and cartoonish comedy delight

This is the End is a comedy film made for a certain demographic – and you should already know if you fall into that targeted group or not. If you have not been enamored with the comedic stylings of Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, et al., then you are surely not going to like what they have in store for you this time around either.

This is the End is essentially these guys (plus Jay Baruchel and Craig Robinson) playing exaggerated versions of themselves (some more so than others), hanging out for an hour and 45 minutes in a singular location with only each other and a barrage of demeaning insults, potty humor, and drugs to keep them company. Basically, if you do not want to actually hang out with these guys, then you should probably stay away.

Plus, nice guy Michael Cera plays a ridiculous douchebag, so there's that

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


When I heard they were going to make a fifth installment of the DIE HARD Series, I was psyched.
I absolutely love DIE HARD and DIE HARD: WITH A VENGENACE.
I've seen both, dozens of times and they really never get stale for me.
Bruce Willis as John McClane is at the top of the list when you refer to "Action Heroes".
I also actually really like DIE HARD 2 and LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD.
I thought LIVE FREE was so absurdly wonderful and I loved Willis for going with the flow.
He got the idea that McClane can do anything that they want to film and played along.
Can McClane jump cars into flying helicopters and hold onto a crashing fighter jet?
Sure, it's a movie.
So, I expected more of the same fun from A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD.
My expectations were not met.

The dialogue is bad, the story is not very good and the action sequences were rough.
I thought that the action is LIVE FREE was absurd, but that it was done well.
Here we get a lot of low budget fireballs and explosions.
All while McClane reconnects with his estranged son, who just happens to be in the C.I.A..
The whole production felt rushed and forced.
We have not seen McClane's son since the original when he was like three years old.
I know they brought back his daughter for LIVE FREE, but that felt genuine.
This was clearly a case of, "We need a younger guy to carry the action.".

The smart, snappy dialogue of previous films in the series is completely gone.
It is replaced with jumbled exposition (who was the bad guy again?) and cliche quips.
If you love the series, you are going to see this movie because you have to.
But I doubt you will ever want to rewatch it.
They couldn't get a big budget for this movie, which was needed do the series justice.
I guess they thought that McClane just didn't have another great run in him.
I guess they were right.