Friday, December 21, 2012

Jack Reacher

Adapting the story from Lee Child's novel "One Shot," writer/director Christopher McQuarrie reteams with his frequent collaborator Tom Cruise for Jack Reacher, a murder mystery with a morally murky protagonist at the center. It's a decent thriller with an interesting story, and though it features the occasional shining moment, it's mostly just a by-the-numbers procedural tale that will keep you entertained for a couple of hours. The movie isn't nearly as boring as its idiotic and generic title, but when all is said and done, it'll be lost in the hoopla of more prestigious films as 2012 comes to an end.

Jack Reacher
Writer/Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Jai Courtney, Werner Herzog




Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Nearly ten years after Peter Jackson wrapped up his vision of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy with the Best Picture-winning Return of the King, he's taking us back to Middle Earth with the first entry in The Hobbit trilogy, An Unexpected Journey. With a few familiar faces in front of the camera and a handful of fresh ones to lead the adventure, Jackson manages to capture some fantastic moments here but still can't shake the feeling that this story didn't need to be stretched over three movies.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Django Unchained

Following up his wildly acclaimed 2009 film Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino returns to the big screen in 2012 with Django Unchained, a sizzling genre exercise that allows the filmmaker to check off a box that has eluded him thus far in his career: the western. It's one of QT's most direct and linear productions to date, but as you might suspect, this isn't your average cowboy tale. Stuffed with great performances, impeccable direction, and an amazing screenplay, the film might be a bit too stuffed; it drags a bit in some sections, but don't let its runtime scare you away. This is one of the very best movies to hit theaters this year.

Django Unchained
Writer/Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson



Saturday, December 8, 2012

Zero Dark Thirty

After winning the Academy Award for Best Picture for The Hurt Locker in 2010, Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal are back with a film about the United States' ten year hunt for Osama bin Laden. Though we already know the outcome, Boal and Bigelow manage to make the film riveting, suspenseful, and intense throughout, similar to the way Ben Affleck thrilled audiences with his own political period piece, Argo, earlier this year. Based on firsthand accounts from people who were involved at every step of the real story, Boal uses his background as an investigative journalist to take us inside the search for the world's most dangerous man and, though a bit of dramatic license is occasionally taken, show how finding him came down to the fortitude of a single woman.

Zero Dark Thirty
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Mark Strong



Saturday, November 10, 2012

Miami Connection

If you're the type of moviegoer who enjoys films that are poorly made, terribly acted, only semi-competent in executing action sequences, but ones with tons of charm and enthusiasm, Miami Connection just might be your new favorite movie. Made in 1987 and promptly forgotten, someone at Drafthouse Films bought a copy of it using Ebay and is now releasing it for the world to see. The plot involves a synth-rock band named Dragon Sound full of Tae Kwan Do black belts who battle drug lords and a gang of motorcycle-riding ninjas to stop the cocaine trade in Orlando. And the final product totally lives up to that ridiculous premise.

Miami Connection
Co-writers/co-directors: Y.K. Kim, Richard Park
Starring: Y.K. Kim, Vincent Hirsch, Kathy Collier, William Eagle


Friday, November 9, 2012

Lincoln

For his entire life, the man and myth of Abraham Lincoln has mystified Steven Spielberg. The director has wanted to make a Lincoln-centric film for years, and he actually came close to doing it with his Schindler's List star Liam Neeson in the lead role. But the project was eventually scaled down and reworked to cover a small period in the 16th President's life surrounding the ratification of the 13th Amendment, and (with no offense to Neeson here) the incomparable Daniel Day-Lewis stepped in to fill Lincoln's shoes. With the film hitting theaters just days after a major presidential election in America, it seems like as good a time as any for the world's most famous director to tell his version of these historical events.

Lincoln
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Skyfall

The future of James Bond was looking a bit shaky following the disappointing Quantum of Solace and MGM's recent financial troubles. But once they got things sorted out behind the scenes and selected American Beauty and Road to Perdition director Sam Mendes as the man to helm this newest entry, excitement for Bond's return began to gradually ratchet up to a fever pitch. Freed from the Vesper Lynd storyline of the past two films, Mendes uses Skyfall to take Bond to the next level while, at the same time, looking back on what has made the character such an indelible and iconic mainstay in pop culture. The result is a very solid Bond entry that culminates in a breathtaking action climax and a setup for another entry that will have longtime fans itching to see the next film as soon as the credits roll on this one.

Skyfall
Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rise of the Guardians (AFI Fest '12)

In a post-Avengers world, it's easy to peg Rise of the Guardians as just another attempt to capitalize on the "superhero team-up" format that has made Marvel boatloads of money so far and has Warner Bros. scrambling to keep up with their Justice League film not too far away. There are similarities, for sure; the main characters here are legendary icons essentially imbued with superhero powers, they must overcome their differences to battle a common enemy, and they're each a larger-than-life character that could lead his or her own film. But this movie has enough heart and tender moments to put cynics' minds at ease, and with a dash of humor and an occasionally dark arc in its hero's journey, Rise of the Guardians rose high above expectations.

Rise of the Guardians
Director: Peter Ramsey
Starring: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, Jude Law


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook (AFI Fest '12)

When director David O. Russell's family boxing drama The Fighter had its world premiere at the AFI Fest in 2010, the audience slowly realized we were being treated to one of the year's best films. Two years later, the same can be said for Silver Linings Playbook, Russell's newest movie that maneuvers between comedy and drama as well as a star running back threading through the defense on a football field. Russell's script provides a fascinating look into the lives of a few people who don't exactly have their lives together, infusing football, family, and a classic movie romance together with excellent performances from Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro.

Silver Linings Playbook
Director: David O. Russell
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker



Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Flight

It's been twelve years since Robert Zemeckis made Cast Away, and the director has opted to spend the last decade avoiding live action and experimenting with motion capture technology in films like The Polar ExpressBeowulf, and A Christmas Carol along with producing the biggest flop in Disney history, the 3D disaster Mars Needs Moms. But with his newest film, Flight, Zemeckis proves that he still has a great eye for character, drama, and action, and even after stepping away from the arena for so long, this old dog still has a few tricks left for us.

Flight
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Kelly Reilly



Monday, October 29, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph

With Pixar dominating the animated film world over the past few years, it's a common mistake to assume they're the only studio putting out anything worthwhile using that medium. So one might assume that when Disney puts out a new animated movie centered around video game characters (a genre that has been notoriously hard to crack in Hollywood), the result could be less than spectacular. But through a perfect synthesis of story, voice casting, and wonderful animation, Wreck-It Ralph is not only one of the best movies about video games ever created, it's also one of my favorite movies of the year.

Wreck-It Ralph
Director: Rich Moore
Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Holy Motors

"Bizarre" doesn't even begin to describe Holy Motors, the first film in twelve years from French director Leos Carax. But if you're willing to endure what are sure to be some of the strangest sequences you'll see on film, you'll be rewarded with a refreshingly unique story and a lead performance that rivals (and possibly eclipses) Joaquin Phoenix's work in The Master as the best of 2012.

Holy Motors
Director: Leos Carax
Starring: Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Sleep Walk Base Jumping with Alan Trehern

The Trehern tower is currently COVERED with VHSs!  And they're all horror movies for the Shocktoberfest here at NJNM.  Lots to watch so far, but now I get the chance to write down my thoughts.  Now, imagine yourself falling asleep, relaxed and dreaming; now, look down at your stomach and see good ole Freddy Krueger trying to rip himself out of your intestines!  Yeah!!  Bitchin' right?!?!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cloud Atlas

If I had to guess a single adjective that will appear in the most reviews of Cloud Atlas, it would be "ambitious." But that truly is the perfect word for the latest directorial effort by the Wachowskis, who teamed with Run Lola Run director Tom Tykwer to bring David Mitchell's 2004 book - which many deemed "unfilmable" - to the big screen. A crisscrossing tale of six connected stories that span hundreds of years, this is a hard sell even with its A-list cast. But the result is a powerful and emotional piece of pop entertainment that, like most of the Wachowski's best work, is equally adept at combining thrilling action and philosophical explorations into one cohesive whole.

Cloud Atlas
Writers/Directors: Tom Tykwer, Andy and Lana Wachowski
Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Doona Bae, Jim Broadbent


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sinister

After receiving rave reviews from the festival circuit earlier this year, Sinister heads into theaters a week before what's sure to be a box office juggernaut in Paranormal Activity 4, and since the two films share producers, they're hoping to have a very good October. While there two share a similar haunted house vibe, Sinister has a bit more going on underneath the surface to go with the scares, making it a must-see for horror fans this month.

Sinister
Co-writer/Director: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, James Ransone, Michael Hall D'Addario


Monday, October 8, 2012

Seven Psychopaths

Following up a great directorial debut like the cult classic In Bruges would be a tough challenge for any filmmaker, but writer/director Martin McDonagh is back with a more lighthearted movie that still carries his hallmarks of great dialogue and tons of violence. With memorable performances, a wacky plot, and a nice mixture of humor and bloodshed, Seven Psychopaths is one of the most enjoyable movies I've seen in a theater this year.

Seven Psychopaths
Writer/Director: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken


Friday, October 5, 2012

Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007

Did you know that Eon Productions, the company responsible for producing the James Bond films, takes its name from the phrase "everything or nothing"? This is one of many interesting tidbits planted in Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007, a new documentary premiering today on EPIX that chronicles the creation of the iconic British super spy character by writer Ian Fleming and charts Bond's roller coaster history to the big screen, as well as his adventures on it.

Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007
Writer/Director: Stevan Reilly
Starring: Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Dalton, Daniel Craig


Taken 2

It's telling that Taken 2 director Olivier Megaton started as a graffiti artist before he became a filmmaker, because you often stumble out of his movies in a daze feeling lightheaded and dizzy, as if you just spent the past 90 minutes huffing fumes. After the disastrous Transporter 3 and the critically reviled Columbiana, it's shocking that Megaton was given another chance to direct an action picture, and Taken 2 is just as good as that resume would indicate. Which means, of course, that it's terrible.

Taken 2
Director: Olivier Megaton
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Rade Serbedzija


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Friday the 13th: The Series Review!

Returning to Crystal Lake Way Too Often with Alan Trehern

If you come to NotJustNewMovies for good movie reviews, you may wanna go ahead and avoid this installment in the Spooktacular Shocktoberfest Big Horror Movie Scare-A-Thon.  If you enjoy slashers, gashers and bloody thrashers, then the Friday the 13th series is for you!  Zip up your janitor jumpsuit, tighten that horrifically mauled hockey mask and machete your way to adventure with NJNM's COMPLETE JASON MOVIE OMNIBUS REVIEW !!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Looper

Rian Johnson's 2005 teen noir Brick and 2008 con man film The Brothers Bloom are two of my favorite films of the past decade, so naturally I was curious to see if Johnson's talents would continue to grow with an ambitious science fiction idea and a comparatively huge budget this time out. The writer/director gamely rose to the challenge; Looper is easily one of the best films of the year, and instantly positions itself as one of the best time travel movies ever made.

Looper
Writer/Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt



Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson makes films, not movies. For those who don't think there's a difference, watch The Master and then watch practically anything else; there's an undeniable craftsmanship that pervades every frame, and a certainty and singularity of vision that is very rare in the "film by committee" age of Hollywood in which we're living. Anderson has grappled with religion before, most recently in There Will Be Blood, but this movie isn't quite the searing critique on Scientology you may have heard. From the opening moments of the film, in which the camera pans over the top of a quiet sea and suddenly we're blasted with the loud opening notes of Johnny Greenwood's score, Anderson seems determined to challenge our preconceived notions about what we're about to see.

The Master
Writer/Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lawless

John Hillcoat's Lawless may seem a bit late to the game by exploring the illegal manufacture and distribution of alcohol during Prohibition because HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" has been mining similar territory for a few seasons already. But Hillcoat's film was in development for years, under various titles and even with a wildly different cast, before it was finally financed and brought to the screen by Megan Ellison's Annapurna Pictures. The result is one of the year's most gripping films: a great drama with a compelling story, fantastic performances, and stylish direction that immediately stands with the best pieces of art that explore this time period.

Lawless
Director: John Hillcoat
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce



Thursday, August 23, 2012

Premium Rush

It's a coincidence that Top Gun director Tony Scott died in the same week that this film hits theaters, because writer/director David Koepp's Premium Rush is the Top Gun of New York City bike messenger movies. The story is ludicrous, but much in the same way that Scott's kinetic style inspired countless men to sign up to be Navy fighter pilots after watching his movie, Koepp and his team know how to make riding a bike look freaking cool. A departure from the serious cinematic realm in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt generally likes to operate, Premium Rush is a goofy, fun film with memorable and ridiculous action scenes. 

Premium Rush
Co-writer/Director: David Koepp
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Jamie Chung


Monday, August 13, 2012

The Expendables 2

Before it hit theaters in 2010, many pegged The Expendables as the return of the 80s and 90s action movie that fans had been clamoring for. Its cast was the biggest group of cinematic heroes ever assembled (like The Avengers, but without any spandex), and I even wrote a now-embarrassing editorial expressing my hopes for the film before it entered into production in 2009. After a disappointing first film, The Expendables 2 reunites the action hero cast and adds even more big names to the fray, thankfully correcting many of the problems in the first entry and this time realizing that for a movie like this to be entertaining, everyone just has to have a little fun.

The Expendables 2
Director: Simon West
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Ultimatum provided a perfect capstone to Matt Damon's Jason Bourne character, with the closing shots mirroring the opening of The Bourne Identity as we see the recovered amnesiac floating face down in the water. It's a perfect ending to the series...but there's more going on than we thought. In a fresh twist, series writer Tony Gilroy (now directing as well) and his brother Dan (The Fall) have crafted a brand new story that does something very interesting: the final minutes of Ultimatum play out in the background of the first fifteen minutes of The Bourne Legacy, connecting the worlds and pulling back the curtain on machinations that we've never seen before but were always working behind the scenes during the previous films. Jeremy Renner stars as Aaron Cross, an agent at another clandestine organization known as Outcome, and he must fight to stay alive when the events of Ultimatum go sideways and the plug is pulled on his program.

The Bourne Legacy
Co-writer/Director: Tony Gilroy
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton


Monday, August 6, 2012

The NJNM Podcast: Ep. 100 - The Quest (Guest: Jared Blanchard)


In this week's momentous 100th episode, Tyler and Ben bring the original team back together with Pat Miller and Jared Blanchard to discuss Jean-Claude Van Damme's 1996 film, The Quest.




Introduction
Character Name Game Intro - 2:23

Media Consumed
Tyler
Recounting Various Adventures at the UCB Theater - 3:05

Jared
"Frasier" - 5:35

Pat
Cloud Atlas trailer - 8:25

Ben
Captain Eo at Disneyland - 12:55

Review
The Quest - 19:18

Wrap-Up
Tyler Drops A Bomb  - 49:03
Listener E-mail/Voicemail/Twitter - 51:10
Character Name Game - 54:08
Where You Can Find Us - 56:00

"Frasier" Guest Caller Montage

Friday, August 3, 2012

Total Recall (2012)

Talk about an unnecessary remake. This wasn't just a poor facsimile of the original, it was as if director Len Wiseman ran Paul Verhoeven's 1990 original through a copy machine so many times, perpetually copying each copy, that every last ounce of intelligence and thematic relevance found in the first movie faded away, leaving only the basic story foundations intact. Total Recall is a sad and perfect example of "all style and no substance."

Total Recall
Director: Len Wiseman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The NJNM Podcast: Ep. 99 - Kazaam and Steel (Guests: Free and Eli Reyes from GeekTyrant)



In this week's episode, Tyler and Ben are joined by Free and Eli Reyes (from GeekTyrant.com) to discuss Paul M. Glaser's 1996 film Kazaam and Kenneth Johnson's 1997 film Steel.


Introduction
Character Name Game Intro - 3:55

Media Consumed
Tyler
Conan - 5:00
Steel Panther - 7:05

Eli
Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story - 9:10
Roasted Glacier - 12:05

Free
BBC coverage of The Olympics - 13:25

Ben
Wreck-It Ralph early press event - 17:10
Total Recall (2012) - 18:00

Review
Kazaam - 24:00
Steel41:28

Wrap-Up
Next Time: The Quest  - 1:08:25
Listener E-mail/Voicemail/Twitter - 1:10:55
Character Name Game - 1:21:30
Where You Can Find Us - 1:22:48


Articles Mentioned: Early Look at Wreck-It Ralph & Video Blog

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The NJNM Podcast: Ep. 98 - Conan the Barbarian (2011)


In this week's episode, Tyler and Ben discuss Marcus Nispel's 2011 film, Conan the Barbarian.



Introduction
Character Name Game Intro - 1:35

Media Consumed
Tyler
Doraleous and Associates - 2:30
Raw 1000 - 5:46
70's comics for "Conan the Barbarian" - 9:45

Ben
The Help - 12:00
The Captains - 13:59
Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story - 17:30

Review
Conan The Barbarian (2011) - 21:50

Wrap-Up
Next Time: Kazaam and Steel  - 54:50
Listener E-mail/Voicemail/Twitter - 56:30
Character Name Game - 1:04:50
Where You Can Find Us - 1:05:48

Articles Mentioned: 12 Great Directorial Debuts (That I've Seen)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

"Every search for a hero must begin with something every hero requires: a villain." - Mission Impossible II

(Vague spoilers throughout.)

Christopher Nolan's conclusion to his Batman trilogy is an emotional and compelling look at the redemption of a hero. It's got terrific performances from many of the cast, great action beats, glorious IMAX visuals, and an impressive sense of scope that we haven't yet seen in one of his Batman movies. It's a long film, though, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't drag a bit as it approached the climax, but the ending is so fantastic that it nearly makes up for the film's problems along the way. The Dark Knight Rises is a worthy but flawed follow-up to the best movie of the series, and a fitting culmination to Nolan's interpretation of one of the world's most iconic characters.

The Dark Knight Rises
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt


The NJNM Podcast: Ep. 97 - The Fifth Element


In this week's episode, Ben and Tyler discuss Luc Besson's 1997 film, The Fifth Element.



Introduction
Character Name Game Intro - 2:13

Media Consumed
Tyler
Ted - 2:56
Faster - 6:40

Ben
Dredd - 9:25
Comic-Con 2012 talk - 16:11

Review
The Fifth Element - 23:47

Wrap-Up
Next Time: Conan The Barbarian (2011)  - 52:15
Listener E-mail/Voicemail/Twitter - 53:26
Character Name Game - 1:08:04
Where You Can Find Us - 1:08:58