The Red Shoes

January 19th, 2014

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1948/133 mins./Not Rated

“The Red Shoes” grabbed me from its very first moments. A man stands inside a building. Outside an unruly mob bangs at the door, demanding to be let in. Who are they? An invading army? A lynch mob? What is happening? Why are they so desperate to enter? What could they possibly want so badly? The man unlocks the door and barely gets out of the way before a stampede of college students floods into the building. It is then revealed that this building is an auditorium and these young people have come to see a ballet. Immediately, I was intrigued. I would expect this behavior for a group of outraged people demanding justice for a grievous wrong or even a bunch of fanatics coming to a particularly important sporting event (a playoff game, perhaps) but…a ballet performance? To inspire this kind of behavior, that’s got to be one hell of a ballet.

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The Sign of the Cross

January 10th, 2014

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by Dale J. Nauertz
1932/125 mins./Not Rated

“The Ten Commandments wasn’t a fluke. If you doubt this, for some reason, look no further than “The Sign of the Cross”, a 1933 sword and sandals epic by Cecil B. DeMille. It shares many attributes with that later Easter standard: Biblical leanings (of course), occasional cheesy dialogue, vampy femme fatales with designs on the hero (Claudette Colbert plays a particularly unfaithful empress here), and thousands of extras. It’s still suitably spectacular, but without the glorious Technicolor of “Commandments” it doesn’t impress as thoroughly as it could.

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The Avengers

May 14th, 2012

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2012/PG-13/143 mins.

Reviewed by Dale J. Nauertz

Well, here it is: the movie that it seems every non-”X-Men” movie of the past five years has been leading up to, ever since that bonus post-credits scene of the original “Iron Man”. Every inexplicable moment involving Samuel L. Jackson, every unresolved issue, every thing that didn’t seem to belong in one of those movies was supposed to be explained in the eventual “Avengers” movie. Five movies ranging in quality from good to “meh” were all supposed to culminate in this one. I’m not sure if Marvel was hyping up this film as much as they were setting it up for disappointment. If “The Avengers” didn’t deliver on all the unresolved issues and unanswered questions in “Iron Man”, “Captain America”, “The Incredible Hulk” and “Thor” then not only would “The Avengers” be a disappointment, but it would retroactively make those films even worse, even more incomplete. Plus, with such catastrophic hype behind it, how could this film not fail to live up to expectations? It seemed, at best, to be a big marketing opportunity for Marvel’s film division: combine four of its second-tier heroes in a movie that would draw in the fans of each of those heroes, giving them a bigger box office take than any of these heroes could achieve on their own. I figured it would be like Marvel’s “Wild Hogs”. John Travolta, William H. Macy, Tim Allen and Martin Lawrence all do okay box office individually, but combining them in one film gave Disney a surprise hit. Maybe combining four superheroes that do okay box office (though not in the same league as, say, Spider-Man) might bring the same results, only on a larger scale (which it has, big time). It did not, however, seem like a recipe for a great film.
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The Incredible Hulk

May 8th, 2012

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2008/PG-13/112 mins

Reviewed by Dale J. Nauertz

When it comes right down to it, The Hulk is perhaps the least original character in the Marvel Universe. I mean, really he’s just Dr. Jeckyll/Mr. Hyde crossed with Frankenstein’s monster. He’s pure id and he’s huge and that’s about all there is to him. But he’s also one of Marvel’s most popular characters. Aside from Spider-Man, he’s probably the most well known of all Marvel’s creations. No one ever said originality and popular success go hand in hand. The Hulk speaks to something dark about the human condition, but something that lurks within each and every one of us. He’s the guy who loses his temper when he’s drunk or when he’s cut off in traffic. He’s the guy who does something horrible and then feels awful about it the following day. We can relate to the Hulk, that’s why he endures, despite his somewhat derivative nature. That’s why filmmakers keep trying to make a great film about him. There’s so much potential in the idea of the Hulk, so much room for deeper exploration of the human psyche.
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Iron Man 2

May 1st, 2012

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Reviewed by Dale J. Nauertz

At the end of my review for the original “Iron Man” I wrote that I was “giddily awaiting the inevitable sequel”. After having seen it a couple of times now, I really wish I had just stuck with the sequel in my own head.

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Captain America: The First Avenger

April 30th, 2012

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Reviewed by Dale J. Nauertz

With the nation (and, judging by the early foreign box office figures, the world) firmly in the grip of “Avengers-mania” I felt it was the perfect time to revisit the films of the individual superheroes that form Marvel’s ultimate supergroup. And if we’re going chronologically (according to the comics at least) then why not start with the “first Avenger”: good old Captain America.

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Extended Editions: The Unkindest Cut of All?

February 7th, 2011

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Jabba looks like he's had some work...by the same surgeon who worked on Meg Ryan.
by Dale J. Nauertz

It was just announced (perhaps a month ago) that “Star Wars” is finally coming to Blu-Ray. As those who have listened to our podcast for more than five minutes probably know, I love “Star Wars”. It is, perhaps, the first piece of popular culture I ever loved. In theory the news that these films are finally making their debut in High Definition should make me excited. Instead, it merely pisses me off.

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Jones finds himself Out of Commission

November 3rd, 2010

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OOC 68

Jones makes a guest appearance on the Out of Commission podcast over at Warpath TV. Listen in horror as Kaptain Carbon and Epileptic Peat try to convince Jones that “Piranha 3D” is a good movie and that Tom Cruise’s birthday isn’t worth celebrating. Jones gets his revenge by boring them to death with Star Wars trivia and reading a rejection letter to Epileptic Peat, Liam “Taken” Neeson style.

Listen: Out of Commission Episode 068
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Podcast Episode 19: In Mel We Trust

October 8th, 2010

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Dale and Jones come to the defense of Mel Gibson, reflect on their childhood celebrity crushes, and discuss the possibility of 1990’s era Nicole Kidman showing up on Jones’ doorstep.

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Movie Review - Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

August 8th, 2010

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Reviewed by Dale J. Nauertz
PG-13 / 112 Minutes / 2010

If Woody Allen were into video games instead of old jazz music, “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” is the kind of movie he would make. Now, I realize that Woody Allen isn’t the hippest filmmaker in the world (I doubt many of his fans are under the age of thirty) but I’ve always found him to be, surprisingly, one of the most experimental. Woody breaks the fourth wall more often than nearly any other filmmaker. He’s also integrated animation, toyed with genre conventions, tinkered with the very art of storytelling itself, and explored social taboos in a playful, lighthearted manner that nonetheless does not make light of them, more than any other filmmaker that comes readily to mind. Especially in his comedies, Woody Allen eschews the rules that constitute the so-called “reality” of other films but he does so in order to make cogent and well-thought-out points about the rules, relationships, phobias and psychology that govern our day-to-day existence. (It goes without saying that I am talking about his BEST movies. In films like “Deconstructing Harry”, “Celebrity” and “Curse of the Jade Scorpion” he’s simply going through the motions, using his often ingenious and revolutionary filmmaking style either to make the same damned points he’s been making for more than thirty years or to make points that no one not named Woody Allen could relate to.)

With “Scott Pilgrim”, Edgar Wright addresses the thorny relationship dilemmas that plague damned near everyone in the most irreverent and bizarre way possible. In short, he structures the quest of his nerdy hero (Michael Cera) to win the woman of his dreams (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) like a video game. Namely the sort of old school game where you had to blow into the cartridge to get it to work properly (the only video games the film mentions by name are Tetris, Pac Man and Super Mario Brothers, and I think that’s intentional). After Scott and his dream woman (her name is actually Ramona Flowers) begin dating, he learns that he must defeat her seven evil exes in order to keep seeing her. Each of these exes appears in turn and Scott must vanquish each one in order to move to the next level…of his relationship.

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Netflix, Inc.


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