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‘Into the Woods’ nearly killed me

13 hours ago

Into the Woods

Written by James Lapine from the musical by Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine

Directed by Rob Marshall

USA, 2014

 

Normally, I’m a fair and agreeable chap who approaches each movie with an open mind.  I must warn you, however, that my review of Into the Woods will be neither fair nor agreeable.  I will not be fawning over director Rob Marshall, who seems clueless as to what his own movie is about, nor will I be singing the praises of Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim, who has probably written grocery lists more pleasing to the ear than these tunes.  What I will be doing is trying to deconstruct one of my most grueling cinematic experiences of 2014.

So you’ve got this great idea.

You want to combine the four fairy tales, “Cinderella (Anna Kendrick),” “Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford),” “Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) and the Beanstalk,” and “Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy),” into one big story. »

- J.R. Kinnard

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‘Unbroken’ captures Zamperini’s suffering, but not his spirit

13 hours ago

Unbroken

Written by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard Lagravenese & William Nicholson

Directed by Angelina Jolie

USA, 2014

An unrelentingly grim affair, Unbroken excels at its realistic portrayal of dehumanization, but fails to capture the indomitable spirit of its protagonist.  Angelina Jolie’s film is an impressive technical achievement, and her hero’s journey is undeniably gripping, but there aren’t enough bright spots to warrant a trip into this kind of darkness.  Simply put, this amazing story is the stuff of documentaries, not a glorified passion play.

You can’t make up stories like Louis Zamperini’s life.  A High School track star who shocked the world with his unexpected performance in the ’36 Berlin Olympics, Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) found even greater fame for his horrific wartime misfortune.  Zamperini, a bomber during World War II, crashes into the Pacific after his plane suffers engine failure.  He and two surviving crewmates, Phil »

- J.R. Kinnard

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‘The Imitation Game’ is a capable thriller, but fails to decode its hero

13 hours ago

The Imitation Game

Adapted by Graham Moore, from the book by Andrew Hodges

Directed by Morten Tyldum

UK | USA, 2014

Secrets are power.  Whether it’s an indecipherable code controlling the fate of millions or one man’s closeted sexuality, secrets can topple the mightiest of empires.  The Imitation Game follows Alan Turing’s race to break the German Enigma code during World War II, all the while hiding a secret that threatens to destroy him.  Bolstered by a commanding performance from Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game is a propulsive espionage-thriller bookended by well-intentioned, but hopelessly awkward melodrama.  It’s a good film that could have been great had it stayed focused on Turing’s obsessive codebreaking.

“We were at war with the clock,” laments a desperate Alan Turing (Cumberbatch).  He and his crackerjack crew of code breakers are entrusted by the British Secret Service to decipher Enigma; Germany’s daily »

- J.R. Kinnard

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Burton’s ‘Big Eyes’ is bigger than his stomach

13 hours ago

Big Eyes

Written by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski

Directed by Tim Burton

USA, 2014

It’s difficult to imagine what Tim Burton was trying to accomplish with his latest effort, Big Eyes.  Tonally, it’s the most confounding movie of the year, pinging wildly between drama, surrealism and farce.  Even the actors seem confused, with each adopting a different approach to their character.  From the stilted dialogue to the awkward pacing, everything about this movie feels scattershot.  Big Eyes is more than an ambitious disappointment… it’s just plain bad.

The premise of Big Eyes is ripe with dramatic and comic possibilities.  Margaret (Amy Adams) is a desperate housewife on the run with her young daughter in the early 1950s.  Though the shallow script never fleshes out her character, it seems likely she’s been down this road before.  Perhaps that’s why her daughter always looks so sad.  We’ll »

- J.R. Kinnard

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The Nostalgia Files: ‘Scrooged’ (1988)

14 hours ago

  Scrooged

Written by Mitch Glazer and Michael O’Donoghue

Directed by Richard Donner

USA, 1988

The story of Scrooge is one of literature’s most enduring and beloved tales. It is a universal tale of redemption and a staple of Christmas lore. The Bill Murray vehicle Scrooged was released in 1988 and it is one of the more unique adaptations of Charles Dickens’ masterpiece. It isn’t your typical take on Scrooge but that’s what makes it all the more fun. There are funny cameos and quirky action sequences all firmly anchored by both Murray’s brilliant lead performance and Richard Donner’s solid direction. With Christmas soon coming upon us, Scrooged is the perfect cinematic gem to be viewed with the whole family.

The film is pretty straightforward and focuses on Frank Cross (Murray), a bitter TV executive, who takes out his frustration on his lowly assistant Grace (Alfre Woodard »

- Randall Unger

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The Beautiful/Terrible Loop: ‘Portal’ and the dark reality of endless possibilities

14 hours ago

Portal/Portal 2

Valve Corporation

PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac

The Portal series is home to Valve’s most deliberately uneven and deliriously uncomfortable of narratives. The seemingly innocent fun of cutting holes between dimensions and using them to pass tests or accomplish tasks is offset by their brutal after-effects and the havoc which they can wreak. Likewise the witty banter and amusing dialogue of characters like GLaDOS and Wheatley are immediately rendered moot by the homicidal and power-hungry psychological states that each AI shows when challenged or placed in a position of authority.

It’s a place where nothing makes sense really. In any of the situations from which the tormented protagonist, Chell, awakens, the players reaction can change from amused intrigue to existential terror in a blink.

As a dystopia, the setting of the Portal series is unique in that it tells us very little about the nature of the »

- Mike Worby

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Happy Holidays and Thank You for Your Continued Support

20 hours ago

Hey, Sound On Sight Nation. - It’s been a crazy year at Sound On Sight. Not only did we launch our new game section, but we managed to increase our Facebook likes to 10 000 followers, and our Tumblr account now has over 200 000 followers. Our comic book section is stronger than ever, and we now have over 85 writers contributing world-wide. We attended the Cannes Film Festival for the very first time, and along with that, we also managed to cover over 40 more festivals across the globe including Tiff, Sundance, Fantastic Fest, SXSW and Fantasia. We reviewed over 75 TV shows this year, and launched several new podcasts – and best of all – our readership has dramatically increased. In less than a week, our flagship podcast will release its 400th episode, and if you count it’s spinoff show Sordid Cinema, we are on track to record our 500th episode this January. All that to say, »

- Ricky

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The Televerse #173- Top 20 TV Series of 2014

24 December 2014 12:18 AM, PST

The podcast’s year-ending Best Of extravaganza begins this week with Simon and Kate’s picks for the Best TV Series of 2014, focusing on their Top 10 shows, but expanding to cover 22 different highlights of the year in television. Simon and Kate go show by show, talking about what prompted them to include, or exclude, each series from their lists. Please share your Top 20 in the comments!

Minor spoilers (though we avoid the biggies) for: Adventure Time, Mad Men, The Americans, Hannibal, Fargo, Orange is the New Black, Veep

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The post The Televerse #173- Top 20 TV Series of 2014 appeared first on Sound On Sight. »

- Kate Kulzick

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Sound On Sight Podcast, Episode 399: ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies’

23 December 2014 10:29 PM, PST

With the release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Peter Jackson has (supposedly) completed his work on the blockbuster-film adaptation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. In order to assess the new movie and the series’ lasting impact, Ricky and Simon brought in special guest Tony Nunes of the Hey You Geeks! podcast. And hey, just for kicks, we talk about the Sony hack and the controversy surrounding The Interview. That segment comes right after we figure out just what that fifth army is. (Seriously, though, we’re still a little hazy on that point.)

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- Sound On Sight Podcast

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‘American Sniper’ stumbles, but Bradley Cooper shines

23 December 2014 9:00 PM, PST

American Sniper

Written for the screen by Jason Hall

Directed by Clint Eastwood

USA, 2014

After unsuccessful forays into musicals and political biopics with Jersey Boys and J. Edgar, Clint Eastwood returns to more traditionally masculine material usually associated with his filmmaker persona. With American Sniper, he tackles the drama and real-life accounts of Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle, but as compelling as the on-the-ground combat is, the real story worth telling is largely ignored for the pyrotechnics.

The film begins with an unnecessary  exploration of Kyle’s childhood as his father lays out all of humanity into three simple categories: wolves, sheep and sheepdogs. It’s a message young Chris takes to heart as he grows up into a man who sees little else but black and white. After witnessing the events of 9/11 he signs up for the Navy SEALs. Bradley Cooper bulks up considerably to play Chris Kyle, packing »

- Colin Biggs

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‘The Gambler’ nails the look, but misses the feel of the original

23 December 2014 2:30 PM, PST

Caution: The endings of both Rupert Wyatt’s film and the 1974 original are discussed in the editorial below.

The Gambler

Written by William Monahan

Directed by Rupert Wyatt

USA, 2014

Usually the first thing added to a film when it is remade is glitz. American films from the 1970s had their own distinct, philosophical quality to them, something that inevitably gets lost in translation when the material is put to screen again by a new team of filmmakers. Still, the one thing I didn’t anticipate while watching screenwriter William Monahan and star Mark Wahlberg tackle The Gambler was a lack of visceral thrills. Director Rupert Wyatt’s film nails the look of 1974′s The Gambler, but it lacks the feel of the original.

Jim Bennett (Wahlberg) — changed from Alex Freed (James Caan) in the previous film — is a gambler. He earns his money as a literature professor, but the tables »

- Colin Biggs

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‘Questionable Content’ melds the mundane and the fantastic

23 December 2014 12:54 PM, PST

Questionable Content

Written and illustrated by Jeph Jacques

Ongoing, 2003-present

Updates Monday-Friday

Questionable Content is an indie, romance, tiny robot, slice-of-life webcomic started in 2003 by writer/artist Jeph Jacques. Jacques uses the comic to make his living. He sells ad-space, as well as plenty of merchandise including t-shirts with creative phrases like “Yolo” (You Obviously Like Owls) and “Clearly I have made some bad decisions”. I own the second one. The nearly twelve year-old series has given birth to some other fantastic concepts as well, including Jeph’s band Deathmᴓle. The band originated within the series and Jeph brought it to life, playing all the instruments individually and mixing the tracks himself.

The series centers around Marten Reed and his circle of friends as they go about their lives in a small Massachusetts town (I’m from Ohio, so if it isn’t Boston, I figure it’s a small »

- Cory Weddell

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The boys are back in trailer for ‘Entourage’ movie

23 December 2014 12:41 PM, PST

Have you been missing a little Drama in your life? Well don’t be sad baby bruh, because the trailer for the Entourage movie has finally entered the building.

It’s got everything you always loved from the HBO original series: fake movie trailers, La bros walking in straight lines down the street and never once talking over one another, Ari’s fits of anger, Mark Say Hi to Your Mother For Me Wahlberg. Kevin Connolly’s E is mostly quiet in this trailer, because how much whining over Sloan do you need in one trailer anyway?

The Entourage movie hits the club in Summer 2015. Check it out below. Ohhh Yeaaahhhh!!!!

The post The boys are back in trailer for ‘Entourage’ movie appeared first on Sound On Sight. »

- Brian Welk

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Katherine Waterston joins ‘Jobs’ as Apple founder’s wife

23 December 2014 11:58 AM, PST

Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs film Jobs has gotten more updates than a version of iOS. Now Deadline is reporting that Katherine Waterston, the lead actress in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, has joined the film as Chrisann, Jobs’s first wife.

Early this week, there were numerous reports that Kate Winslet was in early talks to join the film alongside star Michael Fassbender and Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak. But just like Natalie Portman’s role before, she too seems to have been scuttled.

Of course, any casting news about this film has to be taken with a grain of salt, as it was only a matter of days before Christian Bale was cast and then dropped out. And of course Danny Boyle was not the first director on Aaron Sorkin’s project, with David Fincher being the first to go. Even Sony and Scott Rudin dropped the »

- Brian Welk

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The Televerse #173- Top 20 TV Series of 2014

23 December 2014 12:04 AM, PST

The podcast’s year-ending Best Of extravaganza begins this week with Simon and Kate’s picks for the Best TV Series of 2014, focusing on their Top 10 shows, but expanding to cover 22 different highlights of the year in television. Simon and Kate go show by show, talking about what prompted them to include, or exclude, each series from their lists. Please share your Top 20 in the comments!

Minor spoilers (though we avoid the biggies) for: Adventure Time, Mad Men, The Americans, Hannibal, Fargo, Orange is the New Black, Veep

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Download the unchaptered mp3 version in a new window

- Listen to the m4a version on iTunes Listen to the mp3 version on iTunes m4a RSS feed mp3 RSS feed

The post The Televerse #173- Top 20 TV Series of 2014 appeared first on Sound On Sight. »

- Kate Kulzick

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The Affair, Ep. 1.10: “10″ brings everyone’s feelings into the open

22 December 2014 6:29 PM, PST

Maura Tierney, Dominic West

The Affair, Season 1, Episode 10: “10″

Written by Sarah Treem

Directed by Jeffrey Reiner

Airs Sundays at 10 pm Et on Showtime

Noah and Alison both walking out on their families last week represented the culmination of several strains on both their individual marriages, of which the affair was only one. With both of them confronting the source of their unhappiness and extricating themselves from it, this week’s season finale focuses on the aftermath of their decision, in a strong finish to the season that sees the fight between the Lockharts and the Soloways come to a head.

It’s intriguing to watch Helen and Noah’s relationship in light of their separation last week. While Noah has been honest in the past about why he married Helen, this episode provides some insight into why Helen married Noah, shedding some more light on the relationship in the process. »

- Deepayan Sengupta

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Justin Lin now set to direct ‘Star Trek 3′

22 December 2014 5:49 PM, PST

A few weeks after Roberto Orci was removed from ‘Star Trek 3′ and left the director’s chair open, leaving the 2016 film in a bit of trouble, it has been reported by Cbr that the ship now has its captain in the form of Fast Five’s Justin Lin. The director is known for revitalizing the Fast and Furious franchise with Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift and directing the three following films. The franchise improved with each installment and proved that Lin has some serious action directing chops. His next work will prove if he can direct slower character focused work in the second season of HBO’s True Detective.

At this time it is not known how much, or even if, the screenplay for the film, which Orci co-wrote, will change. Little about the plot is known other than the film will be set in deep space and chronicle a »

- Max Molinaro

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The new ‘Better Call Saul’ teaser is all about the money

22 December 2014 4:26 PM, PST

The latest teaser for Better Call Saul might only be 30 seconds long, but this snippet gives fans a real taste of the show’s scope and tone. I’m not expecting the series to be better than Breaking Bad, but I’m confident that Vince Gilligan and co. will deliver another thrilling hit series. Better Call Saul premieres at 10 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8 but will air on Mondays at 10 p.m. in subsequent weeks. Watch the teaser below.

Better Call Saul is the prequel to the award-winning series Breaking Bad, set six years before Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) became Walter White’s lawyer. When we meet him, the man who will become Saul Goodman is known as Jimmy McGill, a small-time lawyer searching for his destiny, and, more immediately, hustling to make ends meet. Working alongside, and often against, Jimmy is “fixer” Mike Erhmantraut (Jonathan Banks), a beloved character introduced in Breaking Bad. »

- Ricky

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‘Big Eyes’ is a fairy tale in disguise

22 December 2014 3:59 PM, PST

Big Eyes

Written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski

Directed by Tim Burton

USA, 2014

At first glance, Tim Burton’s latest, Big Eyes, appears to be a departure from the filmmaker’s general proclivities towards the grotesque and fantastical. Scissor-handed youths, murderous barbers, and obnoxious ghouls are nowhere to be found in this deceptively straightforward biopic of kitsch-master Walter Keane and his wife, Margaret. A cursory glance at the film might lead one to question just what Burton thinks he’s doing in the realm of realism.

Granted, this isn’t the first time that Burton’s examined life in the “real world.” His 1994 biopic Ed Wood offered a look at the life and work of the cult Z-grade director of films such as Plan 9 from Outer Space. But even then, the subject’s attraction to topics that spawned films widely considered to be among the worst of all »

- Max

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‘SNL’ revives Dr. Evil and spoofs ‘Serial’

22 December 2014 1:25 PM, PST

As part of their Christmas special with host Amy Adams, this weekend’s Saturday Night Live had a little holiday fun with one of the hottest recent hits in 2014 pop culture: the blockbuster podcast Serial. Cecily Strong took on the role of host Sarah Koenig, but threw in a little twist, investigating whether or not a man named Kris Kringle could actually deliver toys to every house on Earth as he claimed. Find out whodunnit below:

But that wasn’t SNL’s only surprise this weekend. Also nestled under the Christmas Tree was Mike Myers reprising his role from Austin Powers as Dr. Evil. Dr. Evil addressed Kim Jong-un directly in response to the events surrounding The Interview, but also played fan service as well. See his stint below:

The post ‘SNL’ revives Dr. Evil and spoofs ‘Serial’ appeared first on Sound On Sight. »

- Brian Welk

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