|Index||10 reviews in total|
The Cinema Snob Movie is a treat for fans of Brad Jones's internet
review series, even as it tries to extend its appeal to a broader
audience. It has a lot of humorous moments, but starts to get bogged
down towards the end.
The film provides an origin story for the Cinema Snob character, who started out as wannabe exploitation filmmaker Craig Golightley but adopted the persona of a film snob to impress a film commissioner for some filming permits. Things become complicated when a series of gruesome murders begins.
The film is at times very funny, with the best moments coming from Noah "The Spoony One" Antwiler. Although there are some in-jokes for fans of the web reviews, the film doesn't mine that vein too much. Indeed, given that most people buying this DVD will be fans of the series, it might have been better to cater to the fans a bit more.
The film has a good message about liking movies you actually enjoy rather than whatever critics tell you to like. However, the last twenty minutes of the film get bogged down in too many unnecessary scenes. The movie is about a half hour too long, an issue that besets most of the Brad Jones / Ryan Mitchelle collaborations. Still, it's well worth your time.
I first saw this movie back in December of 2012. My main reason for
getting this film is because I am a huge Cinema Snob fan. I'm not going
to give the movie a 10 out of 10 just because of that. The movie was
great, but not a masterpiece. After viewing it numerous times, I
noticed some editing and continuity goofs such as placement of
characters and reaction shots, but they are few and far between. Also,
some of the actors are definitely stronger in substance than others to
the point where I just don't enjoy seeing them on screen, but they are
small roles and they aren't that bad. This can also come from me just
wanted to see the characters I enjoy more (Craig, Neal, Dan, Gene and
Nancy). They just feel more natural and real to me. Some could have
used more takes as they delivered their lines, but that's why I'm bring
my rating to a 7 making it a good movie.
Speaking of the good, the story and style was very much like I would expect from Mr. Jones himself. A story of murder, sex scandals and film taboos is something that can really stick out.
The film has its fair share of funny moments with its quick cuts, responses from the characters, such as Neal offering Craig and Nancy a cookie after some grim news. I absolutely love Craig's deadpan reactions to certain actions that take place as if he just dropped his mug of coffee. These parts just had me laugh out loud. Another favorite of mine has to be the presence of Noah Antwiller from The Spoony Experiment. He has such a natural look when on camera and I enjoyed every moment he made an appearance as the eccentric rich man of Springfield.
Before I continue to gush, I just want to get to the point, which is I appreciate this film. I'm not going to put it on a pedestal or anything. It's simply an enjoyable, solid movie. The plot was simple but fun. I feel comfortable sharing this with friends who do not know of Brad Jones because we can all appreciate the low-budget films filling in two hours of enjoyment. It does a good job overall leaving my final rating at 7.
As a fan of Brad's work across the board, I can say that I enjoyed the
film for its meta humor but still found it lacking from a mainstream
perspective. Without knowledge of the personalities behind the
characters (such as Noah Antwiler's contributions as "Spoony" or Ed
Glaser's work on TGWTG.com), the movie will fall flat for those
unfamiliar with their body of work.
POSITIVES The Cinema Snob is an entertaining character and is the engine which drives Brad's other work. For every experimental project, there needs to be a mainstream draw to interest the viewer. One would not be interested in Star Wars fan fiction, for example, if one had no knowledge of the Star Wars franchise to begin with. "The Cinema Snob Movie" is a major boost to the weekly (or bi-weekly) reviews Brad does as his cantankerous, barefoot reviewer on thatguywiththeglasses.com. It provides depth to the universe in which he lives and opens new avenues for characters to appear in the future.
The cinematography is miles ahead of anything Mr. Jones has done in the past, shown in superior framing of scenes and more compelling camera angles that seem very appropriate to the mood. Jillian's addition to the cast always feels organic (marriage helps that along, I guess), so the romantic scenes aren't as awkward as they could be. The story itself is also an interesting narrative, as we're taken from "story A" (the producer's quest) to "story b" (the murder mystery) in a seamless transition. The "who done it" aspect is played very well and the resolution is quite entertaining and comical.
NEGATIVES One of the casting choices acts as a minus here. Jake feels like an odd choice as the "buddy" of the Snob, especially since Jerrid is the built-up character in the site's main series. His acting isn't terrible, but at times he seems to be a bit too boisterous and overzealous in his effort to sell the scene. It ends up bogging down the entire first half of the film and making the viewer wish Jerrid was waking up with the pizza stuck to his cheek.
The biggest drawback in the film is also its strong point. Without the meta humor attached to the main Cinema Snob review series, the film will fall flat for those unfamiliar with Jones' other work. Although the jokes stand on their own, the casting choices lack any "big names" to prop the film up, relying on the viewer's knowledge of TGWTG's cast of characters to draw interest in the movie. The performances of the actors are by no means awful, but they are average enough to warrant a big name that could have acted as a cheap draw for potential fans.
I would like to start off by saying I am a fan of Brad Jones and The
Cinema Snob. I love his movies Freak Out, Cheap, and Midnight Heat. I
think Game Boys is fine, I'm not the biggest fan of Paranoia or Hooker
with a Heart of Gold, but we'll get to that later. With that said, I
was expecting to love The Cinema Snob Movie, so I bought the DVD,
popped it in and was blown away at how bad it was. I feel terrible for
saying that because I see the love and the effort put into the making
of the movie from the director, actors, writers, etc. but I just felt
so let down by this movie. Before I talk about the bad, I'll talk about
the things I like: 1) The cast...for the most part. Brad, Orlando,
Jillian, Noah, and the array of side actors in the film club all do a
great job, there are weak links, but I'll get to that. 2) The writing.
While I have some problems, I felt the story was well enough written
that I was watching to see what happened next, I may have gotten bored,
but I couldn't turn it off. 3)The directing. On the one hand, the
point-and-shoot style of filming is a little too bland for my taste, it
works for a comedy, and it works as a joke in itself after the
characters talk about how their style of filming is such. I felt the
movements were naturalistic, the cuts during the murders do well in
concealing the effects while letting you see enough to leave an impact.
Now for the bad: 1) Jake and Ryan. I'll be the bad guy and say I hate Jake as an actor and personality. I don't find him funny, I find his delivery stilted and awkward, and I can't stand his voice. I know that last one is an unfair criticism, but it really is a distraction for me in any of Jone's work even Midnight Heat. His delivery is awkward here too and I dreaded anytime he was on screen. As for Ryan, I am a huge fan of him as an actor and personality. He was a stand out in Freak Out despite such a small part and was one of my favorite parts of Cheap. Oddly enough, he lacks the personality he showed in those films, and I know that was intended, but just because it was intended doesn't mean it works. 2) The pacing. This movie is over two hours long. The murder plot doesn't come until the second half. Most of that first half is just telling jokes, which, fair enough it's a comedy, but if you want to have a murder mystery too, shouldn't that be introduced a little sooner? It's just a personal preference. 3) The look and sound. I do not like Paranoia, Hooker with a Heart of Gold, and The Cinema Snob Movie for similar reasons, but the one that connects them all is their look. I'm not talking about how their shot, but how their shots look. It's too clean, but not clean enough. On the one hand I feel this is an unfair statement as it shows Team Snob is growing as filmmakers, but on the other hand I miss the look of his old movies. For some reason, it's easier for me to accept bad audio and bad lighting than it is for me to accept sort of good lighting and OK audio.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Cinema Snob Movie is a non-canonical origin story to "The Cinema
Snob" series. On the surface it does appear that way. But like an
artichoke, when the layers are peeled back and the heart is exposed we
realize the film has a much darker tale underneath.
So let's peel back those layers and expose what is at heart here.
Clue #1 the DVD artwork done by David Gobble. At first glance, it may not seem out of place. But does it capture the tone of the film? Not really.
Or does the image of Brad's face jutting out of the shadows, his head rest on his fist like Rodin's The Thinker, impart a message to the viewer? Perhaps its hinting at a darker, more thought-provoking story lying deep within.
The Lloyd Approved DVD describes the plot as:
"When small time exploitation filmmakers Craig (Brad Jones) and Neil (Jake Norvell)are denied filming permits by the snooty head of the local film commision (Note: their spelling mistake), Craig's only option is to go undercover as a pretentious film snob. But once accepted by the group Craig finds himself thrust into a strange and deadly mystery surrounding the very secretive club."
On the surface, this does appear to be what the film is about. And after watching it you would say "But of course, that is exactly the movie I just watched." Except it isn't.
Clue #2, the film's lack of logic and reality. Now this is a big one. Some of the actors come off like they are in a different movie. Craig has normal reactions to things. However Neil, and most of the other characters, do not.
There are murders occurring and yet (spoilers) never once do the real cops show up.
Is there an explanation for all this? Yes.
You see Craig Golightly is the killer. The film we are watching is his reconstruction of reality in order to alleviate guilt from himself.
When viewing the film from this angle, it's amazing how much sense everything makes. It's classic Freudian Wish fulfillment, where Craig is now the hero who saves the girl.
Clue #3 "Craig's Serial Killer" is Det. Ted Adams. Why does he do it? For revenge. Does this make any sense at all? Not a bit. The only way Ted could have the knowledge to pull this off is if he is actually Craig.
When does the first murder occur? When Craig joins the film club. You see, Ted Adams is Craig's version of his evil self. He's overweight, whiny, misguided. The story about his father- that's Craig's father and this fuels his insecurities about his own filmmaking.
Why did Craig kill all these people? If the events in the film are a reconstructed reality then Craig has the ability to re-arrange the order of the murders.
In reality Dan Phillips, Nancy's husband, is the first one to die. All the other murders are done by Craig and Nancy to prevent the police from learning about their affair.
Clue #4 Identity issues. Craig Golightly sounds like a fake name. Perhaps it's a pseudonym being used by the killer. The contrivance of making Craig into a pretentious film snob is actually a storytelling technique used to clue us in. For after that, he takes on the persona of Vincent Dawn. In one revealing moment, the "cops" even point out that Craig mistakenly told them his name was Vincent. Why did he lie? Because he forgot his real name wasn't Vincent. Something seem a little off about that excuse?
Now, let's break the story down to it's brass tacks.
Craig, along with Neil, is trying to make a film called Black Angus. But they are having troubles putting it together and on top of that, Craig is insecure of his abilities because of his father's career.
He joins a local film club, headed by Dan Phillips, in order to boost his confidence. However he is looked down on by everyone because of his taste in films. Phillips himself is the worst offender.
There is only one person in the group who respects and encourages Craig. And that's Nancy, Phillips' wife. Soon the two start having an affair. At some point, Dan learns about the affair and confronts Craig. Craig loses control and suffocates Dan. He tells Nancy what he did, and she helps him cover up the murder.
But soon others in the film club become suspicious. The affair had already been gossip and now with Dan's death, the group suspects foul play. Nancy and Craig start to bump off people one by one in order to protect themselves. Nancy seems to get turned on by it, while Craig is both repelled and excited by the power.
Unfortunately the cops do catch on. Only they don't suspect Craig. They arrest Nancy thinking she acted alone. Nancy maintains her innocence and doesn't rat on Craig. Craig, in order to save Nancy from the police, enlists the help of Neil and an actor but their efforts prove unsuccessful.
Neil ends up helping Craig find a Lawyer. The lawyer is Gene (Noah Antwiler). Gene is rich, knows everybody, and seems to be Craig's last hope for freeing Nancy. Gene is unsuccessful and Nancy ends up getting the death penalty. She dies, never incriminating Craig in their crimes. Craig walks away from the whole thing a free man.
In order to remove the guilt he experiences following this, Craig constructs this new reality: a reality where he becomes the hero, where he saves Nancy from the cops, and where he is finally able to make his film Black Angus.
I highly recommend this brilliant thriller. See it twice. Once for the story told on the surface. And the second time what's buried beneath the layers; the story at the heart of the artichoke.
Due to the nature of the film, I must explain prior to my review that I
am not in any way a "fan" of Brad Jones or Cinema Snob. My introduction
to his work came very indirectly through his ties to Nostalgia Critic
and Channel Awesome. I do not have the experience needed to fully
appreciate a "made just for fans" movie; this is my introduction to the
work of Brad Jones.
There are some negative aspects that I feel must be discussed upfront. The cinematography is very much amateur-grade: lots of hand-held camera shake, camera shake where there was no excuse for not using a tripod such as stationary establishing shots of houses, complete failure to add proper lighting, select shots that are poorly framed, and continuity errors across cuts between different viewing angles of the same shot (bottles changing position on tables and a hand that vanishes are the most egregious errors that come to mind.) The sound design leaves A LOT to be desired as well, from the audio levels in the same conversation being significantly different between speakers to the ambient sound of traffic suddenly cutting in when the POV changes. The movie is two hours long but probably could have been executed in 90 minutes if some of the unnecessarily slow parts were cleaned up. There are some instances where the acting is unconvincing. If this was even a "low-budget film" by the industry definition, this would be enough to earn it a review that boiled down to "what is this crap?"
Fortunately, this isn't such a film, and I didn't go in expecting anything with apparent high production values. This film was obviously a labor of love and provided something for a bunch of like-minded friends to work together on. The great thing about this film is that it doesn't even try to take itself seriously. It's obviously made to appeal to people who are "in" on Brad Jones' previous work, but despite being an "outsider," I found myself able to enjoy it. Being able to appreciate the "WTF? factor" is crucial to enjoyment of this film, because that's what makes it amusing. On the surface, it's littered with flat, minimally expressive dialogue, but that's what makes the more ridiculous parts so worthwhile. You find yourself caught off-guard and suddenly laughing at what seemed like a contrived, knuckle-dragging story just seconds earlier.
I can forgive amateur production if the story is decent and the execution is clever. This film was hard to watch in the beginning since I was not used to the "flat" dialogue and sneaky subtle humor, but by the time the credits rolled, I found myself wanting to watch it again, if for no other reason than to pick up on the subtle humor I missed. I also appreciated the special effects; they can be quite a treat, and it's fun to stop the video and try to figure out how they pulled them off.
If you'd like to see a no-budget film that's executed pretty well, this is definitely a good choice. It's not a very serious film, but it isn't supposed to be, and while I am certain that some people would never be capable of appreciating it, you owe it to yourself to give it a chance.
EDIT/UPDATE: I've seen this film many times over now, and having done so brings some new perspectives. I've watched some key Cinema Snob reviews that get referenced in this film and realized that I would have enjoyed it more had I seen these episodes first. There seems to be a plethora of in-jokes and references to Cinema Snob episodes. This is both understandable and acceptable, but as a newcomer to the works of Brad Jones it detracts from the enjoyment of the film a bit due to not understanding the meaning behind these seemingly random utterances. I've also noticed that enjoyment of the story drops sharply as it transitions away from snarky comedy halfway through. As with Brad's previous film Paranoia, the later parts of the film have issues relating to continuity, transitions, and too many scenes dragging on for far too long. Audio and lighting problems are still present and obvious when they happen...and dear lord, SO MANY of the supporting characters are NOT convincing actors at all!
All of that being said, each watch of The Cinema Snob Movie has become more and more enjoyable to watch every time I see it, especially as I look up the incredible number of actors and films name-dropped throughout and better understand what they're talking about. The cringey moments of really bad acting start to become funny as well. If you want a movie that can both feed into a MST3K/RiffTrax mocking session with your friends and give you a bunch of genuine laughs as well, you'll definitely appreciate this one. As far as no-budget feature-length films by amateurs goes, it's very hard to find much better, and if you have an interest in making your own films, you can learn a lot by watching it, especially from the commentary tracks on the DVD.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I finally received my copy in the mail, it was a sort of Christmas
present to myself I guess.
Based off the character of the same name from the internet show, Brad Jones delivers a solid film that his fans would appreciate. Though it is a problem if you are not familiar with the type of movies he reviews or the humour you might find yourself a little lost. Having some knowledge of exploitation movies really is a must when it comes to anything the Cinema Snob related, not like other "ThatGuyWithTheGlasses" critics who review more mainstream bad movies.
What I like about The Cinema Snob show is that I learn about movies I would have never known existed and could see that when a film was mocked there was some level of passion for the film even when it was being riffed (Though not all movies, ones of the Nukie variety). The movie is set up as an origin story for the Snob who is really an exploitation filmmaker posing as a pretentious critic in order to secure permits to film "Black Angus", an exploitation flick set in the 70's. I could relate to dealing with the struggles of making an independent film and having to deal with a lot of red tape.
I did find the performances funny, they worked for a film of this size. Without giving too much away there is a murder plot that happens almost an hour in that is darkly funny and works well with the film's subject matter, it begins to turn into an exploitation movie (One character gets stabbed with a cellphone but the killer gets a little carried away and doesn't stop there). Brad's friends make appearances of course including Noah Antwiler better known as Spoony, Jake Norvell plays Neil the director, this movie's answer to Brad Pitt from True Romance but with an arc. Also there is Mr.Jones' wife and an actor from the the movie Parenthood which I was convinced wasn't true because it was listed on IMDb but you'll have to see for yourself.
If you are expecting it to be like his other movies that were more run and shoot like Midnight Heat or Hooker With a Heart of Gold you might be disappointed (You do get things like good lighting and cinematography though). It's too bad Black Angus isn't a real film because when I go see Django Unchained and it ends up sucking I can't say, "Well, it was no Black Angus"
When I received the DVD, my older brother looked at the box and read
the back, and his response was "Wow, there is nothing I would rather
watch less". To this, my reaction was simply "First, no one is asking
you to. And second, it's not for you". Little did I know that this is
actually one of the major themes of the CS's cinematic debut.
Firstly, Nostalgia Critic may have been the gateway drug to TGWTG, but the Cinema Snob is the reason I keep coming back, especially after the tremendous loss of theSpoonyOne from the site (he is a close second to CS as my favorite), and to see these two still working together just made me so glad to see them not deprive the internet community of their amazing chemistry. I hope their collaborations continue for years to come.
Brad Jones is one of the most charismatic and witty personalities on the internet, and this is simply a showcase of his immense talent, brought to us by the talented folks he has managed to surround himself with. That said, while the film does lose momentum a bit in the third act, it never feels rush or poorly paced. TeamSnob has something important to say about the state of culture, and uses their time on film wisely. Also, Springfield has never looked prettier during the day or more sinister at night.
Brad carries the show, no question about it. Craig Golightly's alter ego is clearly a manifestation of the conflict within him, the desire to make something important but only being able to make trash. But trash this ain't. This theme was also sort of looked at with the CS's subplot in the TGWTG film 'To Boldly Flee'. What lives on, integrity or infamy? Beauty or shock?
Special mention has to be made of Noah Antwiler aka Spoony. He absolutely steals every scene he is in. I've always thought Spoony was naturally talented and effortlessly sharp, and he really hits a stride here. Orlando as well really gets it and owns his Vladmir character, spewing out one of the best lines in the whole movie near the end. They both play it just wacky enough that the jokes work, and they seem to exist just outside the real world. The rest of the actors who make up the film club are excellent mock-ups of the various reasons why people get into art films - to be pretentious, because they were shamed into it by being told their taste was wrong, because they have voyeuristic fantasies, etc. Each is like a little call-out to the Eberts of the world.
The film making and direction are top notch, and really display their growth as a production crew. Ryan and co. are clearly learning from their past works like 'Hooker' and 'Paranoia'. The pacing and editing are tighter, and the timing of the jokes really hit 80-90% of the time. It sometimes even rivals a lot of major independent works. TCSM is in a world of it's own, and it allows itself to really indulge in it, very much like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, even going so far in one bar scene to use what could be called a trademark Sunny gag ("Yeah, I'm still here").
Alas, there are always a few shortcomings, and they had to do with casting. I think Jake was fine as Neil, but I don't think he really quite fit the role, especially opposite someone with the personality of the CS. Not that he was terrible, but something about the mixing made him sound like he had a lisp, which I know from the CS site he certainly doesn't. It was a little distracting. Brian Lewis's Scott Bakula was a complete throwaway. I really dig the guy, but he was wasted here. AND WHERE WAS JERRID? But nothing spoiled the overall film, and these are minor squabbles from a devoted fan. I was laughing out loud too much to really be dragged down by them.
From the worst modern independent films (Birdemic) to the best, this should rank up there as one of the top from the Internet 2.0 era. With most independent films of this kind, you usually find yourself forgiving the shortcomings and looking the other way when a glaring flub occurs because you are constantly reminded of the limits of the film makers. Any message or emotions are lost because the audience is too distracted by the miracle that a completed film was even made. But there was rarely a moment that took me out of the story here. I got their point, and it came across with style and quality.
The message, as others have pointed out, is great: don't apologize for your taste. Do what you love, and love what you want to. The CS is the perfect vehicle to make this point - he himself is the contradiction in most creative people. His reach exceeds his grasp. You watch his series, and the humor comes from the fact that his intellect and his taste are completely opposite and always fighting within him. And who wins? The viewing public.
Bless them for trying to make a film that reached beyond the fanbase. People who get the CS and the generation of internet reviewers born from the MST3k era will love this film, and people who don't get it, that's okay. They're not supposed to.
ps - props to Big Box Model Jillian for giving up the goods.
You need to be a little familiar with the character and the tongue-in-cheek self-satire to really make the most of the movie. It is a good showing of the bits viewers have come to love out of the Snob & Co. without feeling like a clip reel. Genuinely funny but don't bother trying to explain it to your mom. If you aren't a loyal Snob fan how the heck did you find the movie? How did you find the review page on IMDb and what are you doing here? Stop spending so much time on the internet. You should punch your friends for making you watch something without context as you'll spend a brief moment of confusion followed by anger at a colossal Dickasaurus Rex.
So this movie is the movie that finally usurps the shawshank redemption in the IMDb top 250 ratings? Interesting to say the least. After watching paranoia and all of Brad's other "quality" films i can say without a doubt that this movie Isn't THAT good. At least this movie has commentary tracks from 3 different sources which is more than most homemade films offer. Also it's good to see that it was handled by a more professional team than most of the other Brad Jones films. But still this fanboy-ism (not a word but should be) needs to stop. We all seen this when the dark knight rises came out as well which was only really an OK flick. I'm not even sure if all the people in that excited category are real people on this page. Like when you look at independent films and all the comments and threads on release day are obviously people who worked on the film itself. Not saying Brad would do something like that to draw attention to his film cause i'm sure that type of stuff irritates him as well but at least two of them are probably people making multiple accounts. Still as a whole the lighting was good and scenes really work when they work, except for some over saturation in the park scenes this was excellently shot. But come on now? A perfect 10? Be serious now people cause that stuff just ain't right. Didn't hate it but also felt amateurish but like I said it is still miles above "hooker with a heart of gold" or "paranoia" which is the only one i should be comparing it to since it was the only one that was actually sold on DVD as well. This is miles above all Brads other movies and deserves to be watched if you are a fan. Well done script that could have been executed better but did not disappoint with technical prowess far above and beyond anything seen in paranoia. I like that it tries to be not just for fans and tries to be it's own self contained movie. I can see what everyone who worked on it was going for but yeah if you aren't already a fan then you aren't gonna enjoy this.
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