Inside Pulse » Genesis Rodriguez A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Mon, 15 Sep 2014 21:00:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse no A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse » Genesis Rodriguez Blu-ray Review: The Last Stand Tue, 21 May 2013 15:00:31 +0000 It’s been a full decade since Arnold Schwarzenegger was the centerpiece of an action film, but after a brief stint in politics he’s back in the saddle and ready to rip through bad guys with endless amounts of ammunition once more. The Last Stand is Schwarzenegger’s first film back, and it definitely gives him a lot to work with in terms of both action and acting ability – but the real question is, does he still have what it takes?

The answer, in short, is hell yes. Schwarzenegger is 66 years old and he’s still doing some great stuff here. Of course, he’s not in the pique physical condition he was in years ago; however, it works for him here. He looks older, he moves slower and he always feels his age, but it all works because that’s what the character is supposed to be.

Schwarzenneger stars as Ray Owens, the sheriff of Sommerton, a small town in Arizona that’s adjacent to the Mexican border. This is a town where everyone knows everyone else’s schedules and business, and where almost the entire population will up and leave on a road trip to support the local football team. That’s exactly what happens here, as everyone clears out leaving Sommerton feeling like a ghost town of sorts – and good thing too, because trouble has just arrived.

Running parallel to what’s happening in Sommerton is what’s happening in Las Vegas, and that is the FBI – led by Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) – transporting third generation cartel boss Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) to a new location. Not one to miss an opportunity, Cortez has an elaborate escape planned that goes off without a hitch. Now Cortez is on the run with an FBI agent as a hostage (Genesis Rodriguez) in a ZR1 Corvette, which is clocking speeds of almost 200mph as it heads towards the Mexican border.

Now this is a movie that requires you to remember that it’s just supposed to be a fun action movie. There’s lots of illogical and convenient stuff that happens, so if you’re bothered by things like, “So the bad guy never has to stop for gas?” or, “How does a Corvette crash into a SWAT Humvee, cause it to flip, and continue driving away unscathed?” then this movie isn’t for you.

Basically, the FBI has absolutely zero resources to get to the town of Sommerton before Cortez arrives there so it’s up to Owens and his ragtag crew of deputies to stop the drug lord before he escapes back into Mexico. Luckily, there’s a guy by the name of Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville) in this town who’s a collector of all types of military artillery, so they’re well stocked when it comes to firearms. Like I said, this movie requires a suspension of disbelief to be enjoyed.

But if you allow for that, it is quite the enjoyable experience. Schwarzenegger delivers the goods, and comes off as human as he ever has – with just a smidgen of invulnerability to keep things fair. He’s got a few great comedic scenes, especially one that takes place in the diner nearing the latter half of the film. There are a few one-liners, and while most of them fall flat, it’s still fun to watch Schwarzenegger going against the odds once again.

On the supporting front, Arny’s deputies include actress Jaimie Alexander, actor Luis Guzman, Zach Gilford, and Rodrigo Santoro. Alexander fills the heroine role really well, and some may recognize her from the Marvel hit Thor, where she played Thor’s friend Sif. She’s got a great look to her, and the acting chops to back it up so here’s hoping we see more of her in the near future (aside from her role in the upcoming Thor: The Dark World). Guzman has some great comedic moments, and he and Schwarzenegger play well off one another. Knoxville is also fun to watch, and plays well off the rest of the cast as well.

On the villain front, Noriega does a solid job as Cortez, which definitely wouldn’t have been easy considering he spends almost the entire film inside a car. Usually a villain’s master plan doesn’t involve simply driving at high speeds, but it works well enough here. Peter Stormare (Armageddon) plays Cortez’s right hand man, and since he’s free to roam around outside of car, he gets to have a lot of fun terrorizing the town of Sommerton, and we get to enjoy watching him do it.

The Last Stand is director Kim Jee-woon’s US film debut, and it likely won’t be his last. He’s got a unique vision when it comes to bringing his action films to life, which is apparent to anyone who saw The Good, The Bad and The Weird. While The Last Stand film wasn’t a financial success, it’s still an entertaining story told through action and humour. It’s also quite gratuitous in terms of violence, though usually in a humorous manner, so it fits right into the tone of the film.

The Last Stand isn’t close to being one of Schwarzenegger’s top films, and while he’s a legend in the genre it’s still been 10 years since he starred in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, and a lot has changed on the action front since then in terms of what audiences expect. That said, The Last Stand is a lot of fun if you allow it to be, and it’s the perfect film for Schwarzenegger to ease back into our collective consciousness and tell us that he’s back.

The video and audio transfer for the Blu-ray is incredibly well done. The visuals are sharp and vivid, and the contrast in colours and shades between the FBI story and what’s going on in Sommerton are very well done. The audio mixes also come through beautifully, with the dialogue, sound and score all rising to the occasion.

Not in My Town: Making of The Last Stand This feature runs at just over 28 minutes in length and is pretty informative overall. There’s lots of interviews with cast and crew about what it’s like to work with Schwarzenegger, and how so many of the actors in the film grew up watching him and never thought they’d get the chance to work with him. We also get to hear from Schwarzenegger quite a bit about how he felt getting back into the swing of things, and doing a few stunts he thought he’d never do again after being in office.

Cornfield Chaos: Scene Breakdown – This is an 11 minute feature that basically goes through the climactic cornfield chase scene and how complicated it was to shoot. It’s an engrossing 11 minutes and definitely worth checking out to both fans and young filmmakers, as it really shows how complicated things can get and how precise things have to be before the camera even starts rolling to make sure they get the footage needed.

The Dinkum Firearm and Historic Weaponry Museum Tour – This feature is also 11 minutes in length and here we get to learn about how they designed the museum which stores all the firearms they use against the cartel.

Actor-cam Anarchy: With Johnny Knoxville and Jaimie Alexander – This feature is just over 10 minutes in length and cuts between Knoxville and Alexander, each of whom have cameras, as they walk around set interviewing various crew members and talking about what they’ll be doing that day.

Deleted and Extended Scenes – The deleted scenes here hit the eight-minute mark, and are quite boring overall. They were clearly cut to keep pacing moving, and the fact that they didn’t really add anything doesn’t help either. Same goes for the extended scenes, which rack up to 14 minutes in length.

For a film that didn’t perform well at all at the box office, The Last Stand was given quite a few juicy features on the extras front that will make fans happy. The overall transfer is beautiful, and the movie itself is a lot of fun if you throw logic out the window as soon as you hit play.

Lionsgate Presents The Last Stand. Directed by: Kim Jee-woon. Written by: Andrew Knauer Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Jaimie Alexander, Johnny Knoxville, Luis Guzman, Eduardo Dillard, Peter Stormare, Genesis Rodriguez. Running time: 107 minutes. Rating: R. Released: May 21, 2013. Available at×120.jpg

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The Last Stand – Review Sat, 19 Jan 2013 23:00:37 +0000 Welcome back Arnold … welcome back

The world of action movies, and cinema itself, has rapidly changed since Arnold Schwarzenegger last starred in a movie. Arnold remains one of the icons of the genre but the genre itself has shifted. Instead of one man armies, or even plucky everymen saving the day, the modern action hero is more likely to wear spandex and have special powers. The biggest films of 2012 involved comic book heroes saving the day; the world may not have moved on but the days of Arnold being the biggest star of them all are probably over. But there has long been a need for a good old-fashioned hero instead of a drama dork in tights to save the day; it’s the reason why The Expendables franchise has managed to find a market.

For a generation raised on action films involving large than life actors and characters seeing guys who save the day because they have superpowers is a bit disheartening; there’s a disconnect between a regular guy (or even an above average guy) overcoming the odds instead of someone wearing spandex who has powers because of some quirky origin. There has to be a place in the world for the action hero saving the day with nothing more than his fists and a few machine guns, right?

Enter The Last Stand … or as it should be known “Return of the greatest action hero ever.”

It’s a fairly simple premise. Sherriff Ray (Arnold Schwarzenegger) was once an LAPD supercop who left the action of the big city to be the lead law enforcer of a small border town. All is quiet usually as his wacky deputies (Luis Guzman, Zach Gilford, Jaimie Alexander) get into wacky shenanigans with the local gun nut (Johnny Knoxville). That is until an FBI agent (Forest Whitaker) screws the pooch and lets a notorious drug kingpin (Eduardo Noriega) get away and on the run to Mexico. He’s also in possession of a super-Porsche that can’t be caught by them. Only one thing stands in his way: the Sherriff and his deputies. There they’ll make a final stand to keep him from getting away.

It’s simple and effective, not particularly good either, but it possesses the one thing most modern action films don’t have: a genuine action hero. There’s nothing in this film we haven’t seen before and don’t see coming from many miles away. There aren’t any surprises, just notes to hit. It hits them well but this is a film that would’ve found its way to store shelves instead of theatres without its main star. And that’s what separates this film from being a run of the mill direct to video action thriller starring a character actor of some significance: the presence of the Austrian Oak.

Schwarzenegger may not be a brilliant actor but the one thing he has more than enough of is his charisma and presence. Arnold’s sheer presence elevates this film into being respectable because of his presence alone. This isn’t a particular good Arnold role, as he doesn’t do much more than play Arnold Schwarzenegger, but despite being fairly limited in character he adds more than enough charm to make it worthwhile. It’s interesting to see what Arnold does without dialogue than what he does with the pithy one-liners and smart acre responses. His physical presence always has been much more important than dialogue and in The Last Stand we feel the danger because he does.

This is a man who’s seen people die, and die badly, and been the one to kill people in bad ways as well.

It takes an actor with the gravitas of Schwarzenegger to pull it off; in part because he’s been in action films spanning nearly thirty years that we can feel his reluctance to be the warrior he once was. When young men discuss living lives of danger he knows the aftermath because he was once young; he’s seen more than he cares to and his life of relative peace and quiet is more important than being the biggest badass on the block. It’s a similar role to Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven in a lot of ways.

A lot of the similarities come because Kim Ji-woon has crafted the film as a sort of modern western as opposed to a traditional action film. If you replaced cars with horses and wagons you’d have a western based on how the film is designed. From basic plotting points to character motivations this is a western in every facet sans the modern setting and weaponry. Ji-woon has basically crafted his version of Rio Bravo in a lot of ways; from the rooftop shootouts to the final fight between Arnold and Noriega on a bridge this is a western updated for a modern era. It’s no coincidence that the lead character is a Sherriff with a number of deputies that fulfill the traditional archetypes of a western.

In the span of things this is the perfect comeback vehicle for Schwarzenegger. This is closer to Raw Deal instead of Predator in the pantheon of Arnold films. If you had to classify it it’s probably the best of a pack of films that can be called “Lesser Schwarzenegger” like Conan the Destroyer and Eraser. It’s good but clichéd, hitting every possible high note but not breaking the ceiling from respectable. It’s not a great film, marginally a good one at best, but in a year expected to be filled with men in tights battle CGI monsters that isn’t a bad thing.

Sometimes a bit of the old school is worth it.

Director: Kim Ji-woon
Writer: Andrew Knauer
Notable Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Johnny Knoxville, Forest Whitaker, Rodrigo Santoro, Genesis Rodriguez, Jaimie Alexander, Zach Gilford, Peter Stormare, Eduardo Noriega×120.jpg

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Blu-ray Review: Casa de mi Padre Wed, 18 Jul 2012 22:00:21 +0000 Casa de mi Padre is the funniest film I’ve seen this year, and Farrell shows up at the top of his game.]]> Fans of Will Farrell know that his style of comedy can usually be looked at as an acquired taste. They don’t follow the run-of-the-mill genre formula, and are usually filled with jokes that are completely nonsensical; but this is also why they’re often so hilarious.

Casa de mi Padre is likely Farrell’s biggest gamble to date, as it is his usual style of comedy done completely in Spanish. That’s right, the entire film is subtitled and spoken in a foreign tongue, and yet, it ends up being one of his funniest, most original movies to date.

If you’ve ever seen a telenovela and don’t speak a foreign language, then odds are you weren’t watching it for the story. That said, you likely picked up on how melodramatic things could get just by listening to the acting taking place – unless you watched it on mute, in which case I’ll lump you in with those who haven’t seen a telenovela and explain what it is in the first place. A telenovela is basically a soap opera that is popular in Latin America, and as most know from North American soap operas, they can get quite outrageous and ridiculous with their storytelling.

Casa de mi Padre is basically an extended telenovela, with a hilarious story that gets more and more ludicrous as time goes on – but in a good way. To keep things fresh, Farrell, writer Andrew Steele and director Matt Piedmont also throw in plenty of violent shootouts, forbidden romance, and one of the most beautifully shot love making scenes since Team America: World Police. In short, the movie is basically the love child of a Mexican western and a telenovela on melodramatic steroids.

The story is quite simple if you peel away all the layers that eventually cover it in hilarity. Farrell stars as Armondo Alvarez, a quiet rancher who has stayed and worked on his father’s land since he was young. It isn’t until his brother Raul (Diego Luna) shows up back home with his new fiancée (Genesis Rodriguez) that Armondo begins to notice how empty his life truly is. However, when it is discovered that Raul is mixed up in the drug trade and a rival cartel wants to destroy the Alvarez family, along with their ranch, Armondo must find it within himself to defend his family’s honour before all is lost.

Believe it or not, that’s the simple explanation, and it branches off in many different directions from there. The genius of the film is just how aware of itself it is, constantly breaking the fourth wall, while throwing in major continuity errors (in set design and clothing, not plot) from time to time just for the hell of it. There are also times when the cast will just break out into song, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them found their way into the Best Original Song category at the Oscars next year (mainly the Bond-esque opening theme “Casa de mi Padre” sung by Christina Aguilera, or the hilarious “Yo No Se” sung by Will Farrell, Efren Ramirez and Adrien Martinez.)

While I want to get into the acting, I think I’ll touch on the production side of things first. This film looks absolutely brilliant from start to finish. There are numerous jokes involving the set design, and how cheap some of them look compared to others where plenty of money was spent. Piedmont has a wonderful eye for visuals that he used while directing, with most of the camera shots fitting perfectly with the style the film is going for, adding hilarious emotional elements to scenes aiming to be serious – at least in the eyes of the characters. Steele, a former writer for Saturday Night Live, should also be commended for his hysterical screenplay that does its best not to let the viewer catch their breath. There are so many jokes either being said or happening in the background, that repeat viewings are a requirement in order to take it all in.

Now, on to the actors, who impresses in even the smallest roles. First off, Farrell gives one of his best comedic performances to date, and this isn’t only due to the fact that he speaks seemingly flawless Spanish throughout the entire film, though that is infinitely impressive. What really elevates Farrell’s role is how serious he takes the film, with his delivery of lines not only coming across fluent and smooth, but also with meaning and emotion.

While the story makes fun of itself constantly, the characters within it act as though they aren’t aware of this fact, and treat these serious turns of events happening in front of them as one would in reality. This goes for everyone involved, as their superb acting abilities help make a movie that constantly looks to pull the audience out of the story with laughter completely engrossing at the same time.

The supporting cast is just as brilliant as Farrell, and I’ll start by praising Rodriguez, who has a background in the Latin soap operas. This, of course, gives her an advantage over some other members of the cast, as she knows how to play the melodramatic card, and how to play it well. Even with that experience, however, it’s clear that she’s got a lot of talent, which she’s just beginning to try and prove north of the border (some may recognize her from Man on a Ledge or Entourage.)

Luna is perfect as Armando’s polar opposite, and has a wonderful chemistry alongside Farrell, and great comedic timing. That’s true for most of the cast, however, as they all just click so well. Gael Garcia Bernal is fantastic as cartel boss Onza, and while some may not recognize the name, they may recognize the face, as he’s the one who does the Gillete “Masters of Style” shaving commercials alongside Adrien Brody and Andre 3000. The late Pedro Armendariz Jr. is also fantastic as Armando’s father in what turned out to be his last role. There are many more worth mentioning, such as Ramirez and Martinez who play Armando’s friends, but the line must be drawn somewhere, and just know that everyone was terrific.

Casa de mi Padre is the funniest movie I’ve seen this year, with exceptional performances by all involved, and a flawless execution of the style of film it was going for. That said, it’s definitely not going to be for everybody, but you should at least give it a chance before deciding which side of the border you land on.

The visuals for the film are fantastic, with a wonderful transfer that really captures the visual style the movie was going for. The warm tones and golden colour palette really add to the overall vibe as well. The audio quality is also fantastic, with beautifully rendered sound effects and a musical score that really captures the different moods of the film. With the film being in Spanish, many would believe that the dialogue quality doesn’t matter as long as the subtitles are legible, and that’s true to a degree; however, the language is beautiful, and it comes through smoothly with no distortion, which only adds to the quality of the picture.

Audio Commentary by Director Matt Piedmont, Writer/Producer Andrew Steele & Will Farrell – This is a nice commentary for those who enjoy the film and want to get a bit of an inside look as to how certain things were done, or why. Having all these major players come back for the commentary is a treat, so it shouldn’t be missed if possible.

The Making of Casa de mi Padre This feature comes in at just under 16 minutes in length, and we hear from the cast and crew who talk about the film and their different experiences working on it. There’s also a lot of jokes being thrown around by all, which makes this an entertaining feature to watch, though some may not like how it takes time away from learning how and why things were done. But that’s what the commentary is for in this case!

Deleted Scenes – There are 10 deleted scenes that add up to just less than 20 minutes in total. While I went through a few of them, it’s quickly obvious why they didn’t make the final cut of the film. For some, the film may already be a bit awkwardly paced, and these scenes would have done nothing but slowed it to a crawl at certain times.

“Fight for Love” Music Video –
this is a music video starring Will Farrell and Genesis Rodrigeuz, and it almost feels like a deleted scene from the movie. If it was, that’s unfortunate as the musical numbers really added to the film. If it was just made as an extra, well it’s a great song, with a funny video and it’s definitely worth watching.

Commercials – There are four different faux commercials found here that all play off the satirical universe created in the film. They’re quick and harmless with some being funnier than others (like the cigarette brand with the slogan “They’re the cigarettiest!”)

Pedro Armendariz Jr. Interview – There’s also an interview with Armendariz Jr., who as mentioned above, died in December 2011. With this being his last role, it was a nice gesture to put this interview in this package for fans of his and the movie.

Casa de mi Padre is the funniest film I’ve seen this year, and Farrell shows up at the top of his game. Wonderful performances by everyone involved help elevate this to another level entirely, while the filmmakers captured exactly what they were going for and delivered it perfectly. Highly recommended.

Lionsgate presents Casa de mi Padre. Directed by: Matt Piedmont. Written by: Andrew Steele. Starring: Will Farrell, Diego Luna, Pedro Armendariz Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, Efren Ramirez, Adrian Martinez, Gael Garcia Bernal. Running time: 84 minutes. Rating: R. Released: July 17, 2012. Available at×120.jpg

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Blu-ray Review: Man on a Ledge Wed, 13 Jun 2012 02:50:50 +0000 Man on a Ledge aims to give that same sort of “anything can happen” vibe (a la The Negotiator), but unfortunately it mostly falls flat]]> Back in 1998 I went and saw The Negotiator starring Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey, and when I left the theater at around 1am I was more awake than I was when I went in two hours and twenty minutes earlier. The film successfully brought me to the edge of my seat time and time again, and when it was all said and done, my nerves were shot and I felt like I’d just gone through everything right alongside the film’s characters.

Man on a Ledge, which stars Sam Worthington and Elizabeth Banks, aims to give that same sort of “anything can happen” vibe, but unfortunately it mostly falls flat. The story is about an ex-cop named Nick Cassidy (Worthington) who was framed for stealing a diamond from wealthy real estate tycoon David Englander (Ed Harris), and is now trying to prove his innocence. In order to do so, Cassidy has to literally go out on a ledge (in this case, it’s a ledge on the side of Roosevelt Hotel) and get the attention of the entire nation.

The thing is, this isn’t the only story going on. At the same time, Nick’s brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) are across the street attempting to rob Englander of the same diamond his brother was already framed for stealing so that they can prove his innocence. Meanwhile, back on the ledge, Nick asks specifically for police psychologist Lydia Mercer (Banks) to be the one who tries to talk him down.

The main problem is that, unlike the lead character in The Negotiator, who tries to clear his name by taking hostages himself, there’s never really any tension brought on by Nick being out on this ledge. He’s out there, he’s got the attention of people, and he technically could fall at any moment, but everything moves a little too cleanly for us to ever really be worried about him during the first two acts. We learn very early on that he’s on the ledge in order to cause a distraction that will allow his brother to break into Englander’s vault and retrieve the diamond, so the place where the most tension should be found — the ledge – is a place where we can almost sit back and relax while watching.

The heist portion of the film is also a bit lackluster, especially in suspense, simply due to the fact that Joey and Angie are almost used as comedic relief to break the supposed tension that Nick’s ledge act should be causing. So when it all comes down to it, neither story brings any tension, which really hurts a film that aims to be a thriller, as it’s hard to create a good thriller without any thrills.

Now I’m all for movies that require you to turn off your brain and enjoy, but Man on a Ledge asks that to be done quite a bit too often. There are so many implausible scenarios that they begin to weaken the overall story, and so much relies on characters doing exactly what needs to be done in order for things to go in Nick’s favour that it’s almost laughable as they do. This leads right into the final confrontation, which is so anticlimactic that it makes the rest of the film feel like it’s been a roller-coaster ride.

That said, the movie isn’t exactly boring, it’s just not exciting. Worthington fills a spot that could have been played by anyone, and Banks is decent, but their chemistry just never gets to where it should be, mainly because there’s no real reason for us to care about them. Sure, we want to see good prevail, but aside from that, these characters are just vessels to get us from point A to point B in the story.

Man on a Ledge isn’t a bad movie; it’s just an average movie. It lacks the tension and thrills needed to bring it to a level where it keeps audiences on edge throughout, and so much relies on so many things happening that it can never really be taken seriously. However, if you do find yourself still interested in seeing it, you likely won’t feel like your time was completely wasted once it’s done, and that’s got to count for something, right?

The audio portions of the film work well enough, with the street sounds of New York coming through nice and clear, along with the crowds shouting and the wind blowing as we watch the characters up on the side of this building. The visuals are also quite strong, with only a few grainy scenes, but overall a solid transfer onto Blu-ray.

The special features are minimal; however, for a film that barely made a blip on the box-office radar, even a small making of feature is better than nothing.

“The Ledge” – This is a 15-minute featurette that covers the making of process of the film. Cast and crew talk about shooting on location, and on a set built to look like the side of the building. They also touch on how each actor stepped outside onto the ledge before shooting in order to see how it felt. Needless to say, most of them did it once and never thought about doing it again.

Trailer with Commentary by Elizabeth Banks – This is a first for me, and I’m sure a first for many, as Elizabeth Banks actually gives a commentary to the film’s trailer. There’s no film commentary, but the trailer is covered. In the end, it’s actually a funny two-minute piece, where Banks talks about how she’d still “tap” Ed Harris, and so forth.

Man on a Ledge is a movie that passes time, and that’s about it. It lacks thrills and tension, which are key aspects to any thriller, but it still ends up being watchable to a certain degree – so long as you don’t allow yourself to really think about what’s happening while watching.

Summit Entertainment Presents Man on a Ledge. Directed by: Asger Leth. Written by: Pablo F. Fenjves. Starring: Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, Anthony Mackie, Genesis Rodriguez, Ed Harris. Running time: 102 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released: June 5, 2012. Available at×120.jpg

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Casa de Mi Padre – Review Sat, 17 Mar 2012 14:00:03 +0000
It also translates into Black Dynamite Was Funnier as well

Casa De Mi Padre is a 10 minute sketch that could be funny on Saturday Night Live. Or as a fake trailer for a Grindhouse type film. As a feature length film, however, it fails in both being a lampoon of a Mexican telenovela as well as a cheap exploitation style film from the 1970s.

The film has a fairly simple premise. Armando (Will Ferrell) is a rancher who’s brother Raul (Diego Luna) has come back to the family home. He’s also a drug dealer, as well, but has a beautiful fiancée in Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez). When a rival drug dealer by the name of Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal) massacres their family at their wedding, it’s up to Armando to get revenge for his family. Throw in a romance between Armando and Sonia, of course, and you have a melodramatic Mexican telenovela type of film.

Unfortunately this isn’t all that funny.

It’s a rife parody of the melodramatic nature of the genre, of course, and nails a lot of good moments that deserve lampooning. It doesn’t actually get very comedic, though, and that’s a problem. The ability of a satire to be effective is to lampoon material while also being funny in its own right. And it’s not, at all.

It’s hard to fault Will Ferrell for this. He normally plays this sort of buffoon character fairly well, even in bad films, but somehow in adapting a new language (the film is completely in Spanish) the comedic power behind his dialogue disappears. He’s not entertaining or even interesting on some level; he’s just a protagonist, nothing more. But the occasional bad film from Ferrell is ok; somehow wasting his talent in a film this poorly doesn’t feel as bad as the rest of the cast.

It’s a shame because this is a great collection of Hispanic talent. It gets to be painful after a while to see a cast this talented being so painfully bad. When you somehow manage to get Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna in a film with substantial dialogue and good characters, yet somehow manage to be completely bored by it, you know something is wrong.

Every moment in this film somehow manages to feel flat because there’s no comedy to go with a very strong satire. Casa De Mi Padre won’t be the first film of the year, probably far from it, but it’ll be in the team picture.

Director: Matt Piedmont
Notable Cast: Will Ferrell, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, Génesis Rodríguez, Pedro Armendáriz Jr, Nick Offerman, Efren Ramirez, Adrian Martinez
Writer(s): Andrew Steele×120.jpg

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Man on a Ledge – Review Sat, 28 Jan 2012 12:00:24 +0000
Jumper episode doubles as generic heist film

Man on a Ledge is in its own way a cinematic rope-a-dope. It begins as a “jumper” film and changes into a generic heist film. Sam Worthington as a former NYPD officer now escape convict directs eyes skyward as he stands on a ledge of the Roosevelt Hotel. As all eyes are on him, his two associates are a block away trying to steal a $40 million diamond.

The setup involves Nick Cassidy (Worthington) being wrongfully accused as an accessory to a diamond theft. Having served two years of a twenty-five year stretch in prison, he seizes the opportunity to escape while using his day pass to attend his father’s funeral. But rather than hightail it to a nearby state or to Canada, he books a room at the Roosevelt Hotel and orders some lunch and champagne before writing a suicide note. Then to further the curiosity of what he is doing here, Nick wipes his fingerprints off the silverware and the other objects he touched in room. When he specifically requests officer Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks) to be the negotiator it becomes apparent that Nick has an ulterior motive beyond that of making his body artwork on the pavement twenty stories below. That motive happens to be being the decoy so his little brother, Joey (Jamie Bell), can steal the diamond – for real this time – from the man who set him up, David Englander (Ed Harris).

Although the man on the ledge angle is an intriguing distraction to an ongoing heist, the film, unfortunately, dissolves into something all too familiar that becomes more unbelievable with each action and added plot hole. As the film progresses it’s easy for the viewer to get caught up in the thrills. It’s only when you slow things down that you begin to pick it apart and see that the thrills are cheap and the payoff isn’t without consequence.

Danish director Asger Leth makes his American debut with Ledge and shows a deft touch when it comes to pacing, knowing when to slow it down and when to pick it up. Sadly, the screenplay lacks the same deftness. Added plot points point to predictability, and by the time we reach the finale all logic is thrown out the window if not the ledge. If you can accept this then Man on a Ledge might fulfill a ticket purchase. However, coming from a writer who has an affinity for films that involve any combination of heists, con artists and hustlers, Man on a Ledge is a lesser entry in the genre canon.

Not helping the situation is Sam Worthington, who either has one of the best agents in Hollywood or has a lot of blackmail material that allows him starring vehicles. His character has little in the way of charisma and his accent is laughingly atrocious, going to Aussie when he yells or gets really aggravated. Jamie Bell, on the other hand, as the brother is better in his role despite not doing anything flashy. He at least has eye candy Genesis Rodriguez to help him pull off the heist. She overacts most of the time, but she is afforded one unwarranted moment on camera that will get a reaction from male viewers.

Elizabeth Banks as the negotiator appears to be the only person in the cast that seems to have some emotional growth that comes from the situation. The primary action is Nick’s revenge, but her small back story of living with the jumping death of another NYPD officer sees her with a healthy disposition when everything is done.

As for the other supporting players, Anthony Mackie is wasted in his limited role as Worthington’s former partner. Writer-director-actor Edward Burns shows up for a coffee and takes a seat on the couch. No, really, that’s pretty much his performance. He says a few lines of dialogue and tries to maintain some imposing presence as a cop on the scene at the hotel, but eventually regresses to drink some lukewarm coffee and sit in the background. Ed Harris, as the villain, is your typical money hungry evildoer who most of the 99% will come to despise. He has some fun scene-chewing moments but appears distracting with his miracle brow that seems Botox enhanced in one shot and not in another. Then there’s Kyra Sedgwick who has proven herself a worthy interrogator on TV’s The Closer here playing against type as a TV reporter. Her performance is mere window-dressing as she gauges public sentiment to the spectacle above.

Man on a Ledge tries to be too smart for its own good and ultimately backfires at being a convincing heist. The plot twists are textbook or don’t make much sense. In a month where studios tend to throw material at the screen and see what sticks, it’s an average release that gets worse with each passing scene. Best to skip it as it will probably become a regular filler on TNT in the future.

Director: Asger Leth
Notable Cast: Sam Worthington, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris, Elizabeth Banks, Edward Burns, Anthony Mackie, Kyra Sedgwick, Genesis Rodriguez
Writer(s): Pablo F. Fenjves×120.jpg

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Man On A Ledge Special Extended Preview [Video] Mon, 23 Jan 2012 21:00:37 +0000 Summitt Entertainment has provided a special preview to Latino Review about the film, which you can watch below.

Plot Summary: In the heart-pounding thriller “Man on a Ledge,” Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) makes a desperate and life-threatening move to prove his innocence after he is framed for the theft of a rare, prized diamond. Recently escaped from prison and with nowhere else to go, Nick climbs onto the ledge of a towering skyscraper, inviting the eyes of New York City to anxiously watch as one wrong step could mean plunging to his death. But as one police negotiator soon learns, Nick’s daredevil stunt, captivating the eyes of the public and media, masks a dangerous ploy to reveal the truth about his tarnished name.With the help of his brother and with time running out, Nick’s intricate plan must work perfectly, but when you’re on the 25th floor ledge of a building, going down takes on an entirely more hair-raising meaning.×120.jpg

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First Look: Arnold Schwarzenegger On The Set Of The Last Stand Thu, 03 Nov 2011 15:00:16 +0000 Taking time from the film to take a picture with Jaimie Alexander, Johnny Knoxville, and Luis Guzmán, the first picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger on the set of The Last Stand has been revealed.

Plot Summary: Schwarzenegger stars as Sheriff Owens, a man who has resigned himself to a life of fighting what little crime takes place in sleepy border town Sommerton Junction after leaving his LAPD post following a bungled operation that left him wracked with failure and defeat after his partner was crippled. After a spectacular escape from an FBI prisoner convoy, the most notorious, wanted drug kingpin in the hemisphere is hurtling toward the border at 200 mph in a specially outfitted car with a hostage and a fierce army of gang members. He is headed, it turns out, straight for Summerton Junction, where the whole of the U.S. law enforcement will have their last opportunity to make a stand and intercept him before he slips across the border forever. At first reluctant to become involved, and then counted out because of the perceived ineptitude of his small town force, Owens ultimately accepts responsibility for one of the most daring face offs in cinema history.×120.jpg

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