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Episode 121: Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider – ‘The Campaign,’ ‘The Bourne Legacy,’ and more

12 August 2012 2:10 PM, PDT

0:00-5:10 – Introduction; poison oak; dreams of giant zits; disavowal of tangents

5:10-20:15 – “The Campaign” review

20:15-32:40 – “The Bourne Legacy” review

32:40-44:25 – Qotw (replacing an actor in a movie franchise)

44:25-47:45 – “Hara Kiri: Death of a Samurai” review

47:45-52:30 – “Ruby Sparks” review

52:30-1:02:10 – “Hope Springs” review

1:02:10-1:09:15 – Box office challenge update; how Eric might survive as a vegetarian; then more gross conversations about gross things; wrap-up and goodbyes

Qotw: In honor of Whitney Houston in “Sparkle,” what dead performer do you wish had made one last movie before they died, and what would it be?

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- Jeff Bayer

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Searching for Sugar Man

11 August 2012 1:31 PM, PDT

Searching for Sugar Man

Directed by: Malik Bendjelloul

Documentary

Running Time: 1 hr 26 mins

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: August 10, 2012

Plot: A documentary about the mystery of Detroit songwriter Sixto Rodriguez, who wrote two albums in the early 70s and then was rumored to have killed himself.

Who’S It For? You don’t have to know anything about the musical artist Rodriguez before seeing this documentary. But you will definitely be a fan of him after you leave.

Overall

Twenty minutes into Searching for Sugar Man, I thought I was watching a ruse. It had to be. How could I have never heard of this musician, if his two albums were reportedly so great? (And this is when the film had only shown me a couple songs). With comparisons to Bob Dylan being thrown around, I figured this “Rodriguez” guy was just a parody of Dylan, much like Ricky Fataar parodied »

- Nick Allen

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Celeste and Jesse Forever

11 August 2012 1:29 PM, PDT

Celeste and Jesse Forever

Directed by: Lee Toland Krieger

Cast: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Will McCormack, Ari Graynor, Chris Messina, Eric Christian Olsen

Running Time: 1 hr 31 mins

Rating: R

Release Date: August 10, 2012 (Chicago)

Plot: Celeste (Jones) and Jesse (Samberg) try to maintain their friendship as best buds despite going through a divorce.

Who’S It For?: If you’re a fan of either Jones or Samberg, prepare to see a different side of both, and don’t expect this story of an unusual love to be very funny.

Overall

Celeste and Jesse Forever is the type of movie that’s missing one crucial conversation. Some movies put characters through this conversation, and the relationship is saved because of it. Or at least, this type of conversation upgrades a samurai sword fight to a one-shot western duel. And you know exactly what conversation I’m talking about.

Considering the friendship »

- Nick Allen

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The Campaign

10 August 2012 11:35 AM, PDT

The Campaign

Directed by: Jay Roach

Cast: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Dylan McDermott, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd

Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins

Rating: R

Release Date: August 10, 2012

Plot: Long-time congressman Cam Brady (Ferrell) faces tough competition from newcomer Marty Huggins (Galifianakis) after the latter receives strong support from an evil corporation looking to bring Chinese child labor factories to North Carolina.

Who’S It For? This R-rated comedy isn’t geared toward a specific political party, but it is for anyone with the responsibility to vote. This satire is fitting for any election season, in any democratic society.

Expectations: Due to the lead casting alone, I put this behind The Dark Knight Rises on my “Top 7 Anticipated Summer 2012 Movies” list.

Scorecard (0-10)

Actors:

Will Ferrell as Cam Brady: Aside from, well, Galifianakis, no one may be better at playing the winning loser than Ferrell, who provides a funny representation of an »

- Nick Allen

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Tsr Exclusive: ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ Interview with musician Sixto Rodriguez and director Malik Bendjelloul

10 August 2012 11:31 AM, PDT

Anyone who has seen the trailer for Searching For Sugar Man knows that the title character has indeed been found (but there’s much more to his unbelievable life story than that). If you’d prefer to keep Sugar Man a mystery until after you see the film, please bookmark this interview to refer back to after you’ve had your own discovery of this man’s unbelievable story.

In our age of instant music sharing, it seems like any artist can get recognition with a hip enough music video or high amount of followers on Twitter. Searching for Sugar Man, directed by Malik Bendjelloul, is a documentary about Sixto Rodriguez, a great talent from the early 70s (think poppier Bob Dylan) who slipped through the cracks of notoriety (at least in America). It is the story of a man’s disappearance, as well as it is his unbelievable return. »

- Nick Allen

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The Bourne Legacy

10 August 2012 9:30 AM, PDT

The Bourne Legacy

Directed by: Tony Gilroy

Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton

Running Time: 2 hrs 15 mins

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: August 10, 2012

Plot: A super solider (Renner) is being hunted by the government who created him.

Who’S It For?: Those you loved the trilogy and are willing to have an open mind following Renner instead of Matt Damon.

Overall

There are bigger stakes with The Bourne Legacy, even if the film feels smaller than what came before it. Whether you call this a reboot, extension, evolution or a spin-off, I’m thrilled with where this franchise can go.

This time around, Aaron Cross is a different kind of Bourne. It appears government/military agencies have different types of super soldiers or spies to choose from. Once he realizes that he’s being hunted, like anyone/thing, he reacts. His hope lies within the system that created him. »

- Jeff Bayer

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Tsr Blog: How to Make ‘Batman’s Robin’ from ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

10 August 2012 9:00 AM, PDT

If you haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises, you might want to bookmark this article, and come back later. There will be spoilers.

I have an idea. I know Christopher Nolan is supposedly done with his Batman trilogy. He also clearly set up the idea of where his Robin originates. Below is an idea of where a spin-off film could go. This idea picks up immediately after The Dark Knight Rises ends.

Batman’s Robin

John Blake discovers the Bat Cave. Alfred is traveling the world. Commissioner Gordon retires, attempting to repair his relation with his family in Cleveland. Bruce Wayne and Selina are out of the picture. Foley is now in charge of the police. That’s right, he was wearing a bullet-proof jacket and didn’t die. Long live Modine!

Gotham hails Batman as their fallen hero. He is an untouchable icon who saved everyone. John takes »

- Jeff Bayer

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The Bourne Legacy

10 August 2012 8:00 AM, PDT

The Bourne Legacy

Directed by: Tony Gilroy

Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, David Strathairn, Joan Allen, Oscar Isaac

Running Time: 2 hrs 15 mins

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: August 10, 2012

Plot: A spy (Renner) for the C.I.A uncovers a plot by the agency to poison other agents just like him.

Who’S It For?: If you miss experiencing Jason Bourne movies, you’d be better off getting your hands on the original trilogy. If there’s some empty hole in your soul that craves to see second-grade spies being chased around by people with Bluetooth headsets, then fine, The Bourne Legacy does indeed have both. Just don’t go to this one expecting to actually see Jason Bourne, who only makes an appearance as a mug shot.

Expectations: Jeremy Renner has proven to be a fine action movie commodity, especially in the previous Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. If it matters at all, »

- Nick Allen

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The Campaign

10 August 2012 8:00 AM, PDT

The Campaign

Directed by: Jay Roach

Cast: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Dylan McDermott, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd

Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins

Rating: R

Release Date: August 10, 2012

Plot: Long-time Congressman Cam Brady (Ferrell) thinks he’s going to easily get re-elected, but along comes newcomer Marty Huggins (Galifianakis) who gives him a run for his money.

Who’S It For? This R-rated comedy is for those who like watching aggressive, exaggerated characters do a lot of mean, stupid things.

Overall

I’ll be honest, I like my comedy best when I have someone to root for. Tommy (Chris Farley) or Navin (Steve Martin) give you hope and laughs. I’ve loved Ferrell in Old School and Elf, but the only time I have loved his aggressive comedy is Anchorman. What helps that role is the distant world (the ’70s) that surrounds him, plus he’s not the biggest fool in the film. »

- Jeff Bayer

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Tsr Exclusive: ‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’ Interview with writing/acting duo Rashida Jones and Will McCormack

9 August 2012 2:11 PM, PDT

Written by actress Rashida Jones (I Love You, Man) and her actor friend Will McCormack (Boiler Room), Celeste and Jesse Forever is an unusual out-of-love story about two people who try to maintain their best friendship despite being unofficially divorced. Although the two writers were never married in real life, the film (directed by Lee Toland Krieger) is inspired by their own relationship, with Andy Samberg playing Will’s “part” opposite Rashida Jones as Celeste. McCormack is in the film as a drug-dealing friend of Celeste’s named “Skillz.”

In an exclusive interview, I sat down with the amicable writing duo for  a chat about their first film. Amongst many things, we talked about their first produced project, the key to good stoned acting, and we also had a very real conversation towards the end about Jones’ perspective on platonic relationships.

Celeste and Jesse Forever opens in Chicago theaters on August 10.

Will, »

- Nick Allen

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‘Killing Them Softly’ starring Brad Pitt and Scoot McNairy – trailer review

9 August 2012 11:01 AM, PDT

Killing Them Softly

Directed by: Andrew Dominik

Starring: Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Scoot McNairy

Rating: R

Release Date: October 19, 2012

Trailer Score: 9/10

Thoughts by Tsr: Andrew Domink’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is one of my favorite films of the last decade (and probably among my all-time favorites), so to say I’ve been looking forward to what he does next is a bit of an understatement. Reteaming with Brad Pitt and surrounding him with a terrific cast that features James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta, and Scoot McNairy (who seem to be doing uniformly excellent work) only boosted my excitement. I was a bit surprised by the tone – there is more humor in this trailer than I was expecting, not that that’s a bad thing – but what comes as no surprise is that Killing Them Softly looks fantastic.

I will admit I didn »

- Shane T. Nier

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‘Paranormal Activity 4′ directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman – theatrical trailer review

9 August 2012 10:59 AM, PDT

Paranormal Activity 4

Directed by: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman

Rating: Not Yet Rated

Release Date: October 19, 2012

Trailer Score: 6/10

Thoughts by Tsr: All the Paranormal Activity films have enough effective moments to keep me coming back every October. The third film rather successfully went back in time, and now this one looks to be jumping ahead a bit (relative to the events of the first two). It’s not exactly clear how this one ties into the greater mythology – with the series’ penchant for using footage that isn’t even in the final films, guessing can be a dicey proposition – but judging from the last shot it appears we might be returning to the Katie/Hunter story. While that would be as good a place as any to take the series, I do wish it was clearer as to whether or not that is what’s going on here.

I »

- Shane T. Nier

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Hope Springs

8 August 2012 10:00 AM, PDT

Hope Springs

Directed by: David Frankel

Cast: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell

Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: August 8, 2012

Plot: A couple (Streep, Jones) who have been married for 30 years attend intensive marriage counseling in Great Hope Springs, Maine.

Who’S It For?: This quiet story (which is more serious than it is funny) might offer a good vacation from summer blockbuster fatigue. However, the film is just as quaint as its equivalent type of experience — sitting outside and having a meaningful chat with someone, which is also something that can be done outside of showings of Total Recall.

Expectations: I hadn’t seen more than half of the trailer, but that smirk on Streep’s face on the poster had me a little worried (much like Jones’ face on the same poster). What sort of evil plan would she be cooking up next, after »

- Nick Allen

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The Babymakers

8 August 2012 9:47 AM, PDT

The Babymakers

Directed by: Jay Chandrasekhar

Cast: Paul Schneider, Olivia Munn, Kevin Heffernan, Nat Faxon, Wood Harris, Jay Chandrasekhar

Running Time: 1 hr 35 mins

Rating: R

Release Date: August 3, 2012 (Chicago and VOD)

Plot: After finding out he’s sterile, a young husband (Schneider) tries to steal back his last deposit at a sperm bank so that he can impregnate his wife (Munn).

Who’S It For?: The Babymakers is one of those R-rated movies that’s best enjoyed by 13-year-olds, even though the MPAA says otherwise. But considering that this movie is now on Video On Demand, it should be easier for young men to access this without having to say, “Yo, gimme a ticket to Moonrise Magic Mike Kingdom.”

Overall

Attempting to show the goofy aspects about being a guy through expression of juvenile humor, The Babymakers is a comedy whose grossness becomes nearly unacceptable. It’s fine for »

- Nick Allen

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‘The Paperboy’ starring Zac Efron and Matthew McConaughey – trailer review

8 August 2012 8:18 AM, PDT

The Paperboy

Directed by: Lee Daniels

Starring: Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack

Rating: Not Yet Rated

Release Date: October 5, 2012

Trailer Score: 6/10

Thoughts by Tsr: I came out of Lee DanielsPrecious generally positive, but I wouldn’t say I was clamoring to find out what he would do next. Then The Paperboy was announced and my interest piqued. Pete Dexter’s novel of the same name isn’t something I’ve read, but the general sleaziness of the story and the cast Daniels assembled made me very interested. Unfortunately, this first look is sort of all over the place.

The opening moments of this trailer are rather effective. If it had stopped after the 45 second mark I would probably be much more positive, but the split screen nonsense sends it off the rails a bit. It’s not an especially well cut trailer and even borders on incoherent at times. »

- Shane T. Nier

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‘The Big Wedding’ starring Amanda Seyfried and Robert De Niro – trailer review

7 August 2012 10:39 AM, PDT

The Big Wedding

Directed by: Justin Zackham

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl

Rating: Not Yet Rated

Release Date: October 26, 2012

Trailer Score: 2/10

Thoughts by Tsr: When I saw the poster for The Big Wedding I thought it was a fake movie. It even featured Robin Williams as a priest looking photoshopped in from the seminal 2007 film License to Wed. Then I discovered it was very real and hoped that the cast could elevate it above the usual romantic comedy tedium. Well, this trailer has made one thing clear: no amount of past Oscar winners could make this anything other than another hopelessly generic waste of talent.

This thing is rife with uninspired slapstick, unfunny jokes, talented actors looking bored out of their minds, and Katherine Heigl. None of those things result in an enjoyable time at the movies. Names such as Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, »

- Shane T. Nier

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Killer Joe

6 August 2012 2:21 PM, PDT

Killer Joe

Directed by: William Friedkin

Cast: Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon, Juno Temple, Matthew McConaughey

Running Time: 1 hr 43 mins

Rating: Nc-17

Release Date: August 3, 2012 (Chicago)

Plot: A father (Church) and his son (Hirsch) hire a killer (McConaughey) to murder an estranged family member in order to collect the insurance money.

Who’S It For?: Do you like your comedy dark? Okay, how about extra, extra crispy? And then kicked around in the mud, and then shoved in someone’s mouth? That’s Killer Joe.

Read Nick’s interview with playwright/screenwriter Tracy Letts Read Jeff Bayer’s SXSW review of “Killer Joe” (9/10)

Overall

If Killer Joe had some bigger wits about it you might be able to accuse the film of being a less enjoyable Coen Brothers movie. It’s got the setting (Texas), the concept of a collapsing scheme that takes nearly everyone down with it, »

- Nick Allen

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