Inside Pulse » Ray Liotta 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. Thu, 30 Oct 2014 15:00:13 +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 » Ray Liotta Blu-ray Review: The Place Beyond the Pines Wed, 07 Aug 2013 03:00:37 +0000 The Place Beyond the Pines is the type of film that actors love to sink their teeth into, as it’s filled with some great tragic characters that have a story to tell. ]]> The Place Beyond the Pines is a film you can’t really prepare yourself for beforehand, as it’s not a predictable cookie-cutter formula, nor is it a simple point A to point B story that can be described easily. It’s a movie best experienced in the moment, just as we live life, as that’s exactly what the characters in the film are doing. Throughout, they make choices, and then they must deal with the repercussions of those choices that can span generations.

Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper are two of Hollywood’s hottest stars at the moment, and The Place Beyond the Pines not only has both in starring roles, but also sees them deliver two of their best performances to date. Gosling plays Luke Glanton, a motorcycle stuntman that travels all over with state fairs. Luke hasn’t had an easy life, and while his past is only hinted at, it’s clear he’s likely had quite a few brushes with the law and isn’t the type of guy you want to take home to meet mom and dad.

When the fair he works for returns to the small village of Altamont, New York a year after its last visit, Luke is visited by Romina (Eva Mendes), an old fling of his, and finds out he has a one-year-old son named Jason. Fearing that his son will turn out like he did with no father around, Luke quits his job in order to remain in Altamont and provide for Romina and Jason, while also being a part of their lives. With no real skills outside of motorcycle stunts, Luke turns to robbing banks in order to help make ends meet. Police officer Avery Cross (Cooper) crosses paths with Luke during this period in his life, and the meeting will alter both their lives forever.

Co-writer/director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) really knows how to bring characters to life on the screen (of course, a superb ensemble cast doesn’t hurt anything either). The way characters interact with one another, react to situations and just deal with life in general feels so natural and real that it’s easy to forget you’re watching a movie at times; instead feeling like voyeur peering in as these lives unfold.

The film does take a turn sometime during the second act, and time jumps forward and we’re introduced to a teenage Jason (Dane DeHaan), as well as a teenage AJ Cross (Emory Cohen), who is Avery’s son. Cianfrance handles this extremely well, so the change isn’t jarring – especially since characters from earlier in the film remain in the story. Still, the focus changes from Luke and Avery to that of their children, and how choices their parents made are now affecting them.

While the work done by DeHaan and Cohen is top-notch, their story isn’t as riveting as that of their fathers, and because of this the film does lose a bit of momentum. While Luke and Avery’s lives intersected naturally, Jason and AJ feel somewhat forced together at first in order to keep the story moving. Still, as things slowly unfold over the course of the final act there’s a sense of suspense and uncertainty that Cianfrance is able to muster thanks to the strength of the rest of the film; however, whether or not the final 30 minutes delivers will depend heavily on the individual viewer.

Even with the minor speed bump in the final act, The Place Beyond the Pines is a film that shouldn’t be missed. Not only do Gosling and Cooper deliver stellar performances, but Mendes really elevates the part of Romina, adding layers to a character that could easily have been cliché-ridden and forgettable if played by a lesser actress. Cianfrance has done it once again, proving to be a director who knows how to craft a story filled with characters that will remain with viewers long after everything fades to black.

The Place Beyond the Pines looks fantastic on Blu-ray, as cinematographer Sean Bobbitt beautifully lights the film and none of that is lost in this wonderful transfer. The audio also comes through quite nicely, with all mixes coming through and complimenting one another beautifully.

The film is actually really light on extras, as it would’ve been nice to see some of the training work that Cooper and Gosling went through for their roles – especially Gosling training on the bike.

What we do have are the following:

Deleted and Extended Scenes – There are four scenes here, all of which were rightfully cut out entirely, or shortened for pacing. They all come in at just under 10 minutes in length, and are only worth checking out if you really want to get every last offering that this Blu-ray offers you.

Going to The Place Beyond the Pines This featurette comes in at an incredibly short four and a half minutes; the first two minutes of which feel like promotional material with the film with brief snippets of interviews intertwined with clips from the film. The final two minutes sees Cianfrance talking more, as well as Gosling and Cooper talking about why they signed on for the movie.

Feature Commentary with Co-writer/Director Derek Cianfrance –
This is the bread and butter of the special features, as Cianfrance is a great storyteller even when speaking on commentaries. He’ll give insight about how things went during the shoot, and also where ideas came from and how some of the story came to be. Definitely worth checking out for fans of the film.

The Place Beyond the Pines is the type of film that actors love to sink their teeth into, as it’s filled with some great tragic characters that have a story to tell. It’s a gripping tale about the choices made by fathers and how they come back to haunt them for generations to come.

Sidney Kimmel Entertainment Presents The Place Beyond the Pines. Directed by: Derek Cianfrance. Written by: Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio and Darius Marder. Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, Emory Cohen, Dane DeHaan, Ray Liotta. Running time: 140 minutes. Rating: 14A. Released on Blu-ray: August 6, 2013. Available at×120.jpg

]]> 0
Blu-ray Review: Killing Them Softly Wed, 27 Mar 2013 18:36:28 +0000 When people say crime doesn’t pay, they usually don’t mean it in a literal sense. Though that’s exactly the case in Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly, as not even the criminal underworld is immune to an economic crisis. The script is an adaptation of the novel “Cogan’s Trade” by George V. Higgins, and Dominik takes that literary world and brings it to the real world, filling his film with audio and video of George W. Bush and Barrack Obama talking about America, and the recent economic crisis it’s incurred.

These clips aren’t vital to understanding the film, so if you’re watching and only getting the gist of what’s being said on the radio by one of the presidents, or what’s being said on a TV in the background, then don’t stress, as it’s more an extra layer on an already well-crafted, self-explanatory story.

The film begins with a low-level thief named Squirrel (Vincent Curatola), who is well beyond his years of actually committing crimes himself – mainly due to continuously being thrown in jail – sitting in his dry cleaning shop with another low level thief named Frankie (Scoot McNairy), who’s barely scraping by at this point in his life. Squirrel has a potential job lined up, but he needs Frankie to find a partner in order to pull it off. This brings Frankie’s Aussie pal Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) to the table, and while Squirrel isn’t impressed, his options are low.

The job is to rob a mob-protected card game, which is usually a death sentence; however, Squirrel knows that a guy named Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta) is overseeing the games, and that years ago, Markie actually robbed the games himself. Time went on, bosses changed, and eventually word got out that Markie did it and it was all a good joke to be had, as everybody liked Markie. Though Squirrel says that if they do it again, Markie will be the fall guy, as they’d naturally think he’d do it again since he got away with it once, and nobody would be the wiser.

So Frankie isn’t a dumb guy, but times are tough, so he agrees and they do it. The thing is, Russell isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, and he blabs to a friend of his about the job, and that friend just happens to work for the mob boss that they stole from. Enter Brad Pitt. Pitt stars as Jackie, a hired hitman who is brought in by the higher ups to right these wrongs and help fix the economic tailspin that this robbery has caused within the criminal underworld.

Pitt is fantastic, and he has some great back and forth conversations with both Richard Jenkins (Cabin in the Woods, Six Feet Under) and James Gandolfini (The Sopranos). Jenkins plays a man known only as “Driver” in the credits, and he’s basically the guy who tells Jackie what the bosses want him to take care of. He’s the middleman, and he and Jackie spend quite a bit of time inside Driver’s car going back and forth about various characters, and the state of the world of crime as it is today.

For instance, nothing comes easy for Jackie from the moment he arrives, as nothing can get done without a “board” agreeing to it. Even then, they’re hesitant to make any major waves, and Jackie simply doesn’t understand their reasoning behind most of the decisions they make. While they’re thinking about the bottom line, they’re missing how things are in the real world, leaving it up to Jackie to try and talk some sense into Driver when it comes to relaying messages back up top.

Gandolfini plays Jackie’s friend Mickey, who used to be a go-to guy for taking care of “business” but has fallen off the wagon in recent years, now facing prison time for a hunting rifle he never used, and eager to drown himself in booze and prostitutes. Mickey is just another blatant case of how the world around Jackie has changed, and how nothing seems to be simple anymore.

The film has some really well shot action scenes, though this is definitely a dark comedy with shades of action from time to time, so don’t be looking for a big hitman type film with guns blazing – this one is all about what happens in between. The scenes shared between Pitt and many of his co-stars are what really make this film special. He shares some great moments with McNairy, and McNairy not only holds his own alongside the renowned A-lister, but actually steals quite a few scenes as well.

In fact, there aren’t any bad performances in this one, as everyone really brings everything to the table no matter how small their role may be. Dominik has a great eye for visuals, and he and editors Brian A. Kates and John Paul Horstmann really make this film flow seamlessly together and a nice, smooth pace. While the film is violent, Dominik never goes over the top or gratuitous with what he decides to show. And while there’s usually a lighter sense of dark humour floating about, the initial robbery is incredibly intense to watch, with Dominik getting the viewer right in alongside the crooks.

Killing Them Softly is a really interesting idea mixed together with some superb acting, and some beautifully shot, and wonderfully lit scenes, thanks to the work of cinematographer Greig Fraser (Zero Dark Thirty). The dialogue is sharp and witty, and the story is intriguing and fun, with just enough suspense to keep you on edge between laughs.

The video transfer of the film is quite strong, with the night scenes coming through crisp, yet dark and filled with shadows, and the days looking as sunny or overcast as they should. The audio transfer is also top notch, which is good for such a dialogue heavy film.

Deleted Scenes – There are a few deleted scenes, though some are more extended scenes over deleted ones. There’s nothing really of note here, outside of a bit more backstory on one character that really didn’t fit into the overall picture, so it’s easy to see why it was cut.

The Making of Killing Them Softly This featurette runs at six minutes in length, and is just your standard cast and crew talking briefly about the film, working on it, and what they thought about the experience.

Killing Them Softly is a witty and entertaining film that’s filled with political metaphors and comparisons to the economic crisis in the United States without ever coming across as preachy, politically biased or anything other than fun. Dominik really knows how to weave a strong story together, while bringing the best out of his actors and that’s exactly what he’s done here.

Inferno Presnts Killing Them Softly. Written and Directed by: Andrew Dominik. Based off the Novel “Cogan’s Trade” by: George V. Higgins. Starring: Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn. Running time: 97 minutes. Rating: 14A. Released: March 26, 2013. Available at×120.jpg

]]> 1
Just Seen It Movie Review: Killing Them Softly [Video] Thu, 13 Dec 2012 04:30:01 +0000 Thieves rob a mob-backed poker games and make off with a load of cash. So professional enforcer Jackie Cogan,, is brought in to track them down. But as he digs deeper, the situation gets more complicated. Starring Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini and Richard Jenkins. Directed by Andrew Dominik. Written by Andrew Dominik (screenplay), George V. Higgins(novel). Produced by Dede Gardner, Anthony Katagas, Brad Pitt, Paula Mae Schwartz and Steve Schwartz. Genre: Mob Crime Drama. Sean, Leah and Liz review Brad Pitt's newest mob drama with an all-star cast. Starring Sean Wright, Leah Aldridge and Liz Manashil. Directed by Amy Taylor. Edited by Zack Delman. Sound Design by Aaron Fink and Nick Isaacs. Produced by David Freedman(@ShowRunnerDave), Cooper Griggs, Aaron Fink(@AaronEvanFink) and Pedro Raposo. Watch us every Saturday at 6PM Pacific on PBS OC or at!

]]> 0
Killing Them Softly – Review Sat, 01 Dec 2012 19:00:14 +0000
Crime doesn’t pay like it used to.

In a year that has been one of the best in terms of cinema, particularly fall releases, Killing Them Softly may be one of 2012’s best surprises. Here is a crime drama that imbues a 1970s aesthetic to our current times. It is gritty with trash-strewn locales. Unglamorous with unscrupulous characters. This isn’t Marlon Brando going to make you an offer you can’t refuse. This is Richard Jenkins playing middleman, passing along messages as if today’s mob resembled a middle-school classroom.

The story is set in an impoverished Boston neighborhood that Ben Affleck probably considered for Gone Baby Gone or The Town but felt was too rough. Just the sight of trash and standing water in puddles is enough to warrant a tetanus shot. The time period is 2008 after the Wall Street financial collapse and Barack Obama’s election.

When George V. Higgins published the novel Cogan’s Trade, for which KTS is based, in 1974 he probably never envisioned that a filmmaker would take his ’70s novel and contemporize the story. But while writer-director Andrew Dominik may change the period the crime thriller still feels from that era because of the production design and how characters interact. The automobiles driven are older and show some wear, and the interior bar scenes look no different than a ‘70s dive, minus cable television. Dialogue-heavy conversations happen in person (not on cellphones).

Those looking for a fast-paced crime story filled with shootouts and violence may be disappointed with Killing Them Softly. The pacing is slow but deliberate. The film may be ninety-seven minutes long, but the brevity of the dialogue makes it seem longer. That’s not a disservice to the film; actually, the dialogue is one of KTS’s strongest attributes. The subject of the conversations are filled with guttural language, but also filled with black humor to lighten the grim mood. As for violence, there is some, including one of the best-staged “beat ’em to a pulp” moments. Big credit goes to the foley artists and their emphasis of each knuckle crack and body shot. The beating is extreme to the point that you may be forced to look away. Ironic that flesh on flesh violence would make some squeamish as opposed to a hit that takes place some scenes later. Slo-mo and in the rain, Dominik films the killing in balletic fashion. Almost like Cirque Du Soleli if the performers were carrying firearms.

At the onset we are introduced to Frankie (Scoot McNairy), an amateur thug who gets wrapped up in a robbery masterminded by dry cleaner-cum-wiseguy “Squirrel” (Vincent Curatola). Needing a second guy for the robbery, Frankie offers his friend Russell (Ben Mendelshohn), a grungy-clothed, oily-skinned Aussie who looks like he fell asleep in a dumpster. The two hit a poker game run by Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta), a low-level guy who once bragged about setting up a robbery for one of his old poker games. Driver (Richard Jenkins), a mouthpiece for those who run the local mob, calls in hit man Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) to settle the matter. Jackie is methodical in his means of determining the punishment that needs to be exacted, but he is by no means pleased that his moves have to go up the flagpole for consensus approval. So when Jackie incorporates another assassin (James Gandolfini) to assist with the job, the decision proves reckless.

Much like the opening scene to Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs we see how criminals interact when they aren’t doing a job. Robbery like murder-for-hire (in the case of Killing Them Softly) is treated as such: a job. There’s no silver lining or brass ring to strive for. It’s just a career opportunity, albeit for those that suck on the teet of society’s underbelly. Being a hit man is no different than being a garbage collector. Trash is always involved.

Jackie is as cynical as they come. He sees the writing on the wall and his pocketbook is suffering because of it. Because of the economic malaise, he is forced into accepting a lower fee for his latest murder-for-hire assignment. Bob Dylan was right: “Times, they are a-changin’.” In what is arguably the best closing scene in a film this year, Jackie makes his point known about all the “hope and change” rhetoric sold to Americans.

The Godfather and its follow-up may be the epitome of the gangster picture and certifiable classics, but I have always been more fascinated in the demythifying nature of mob life. What Martin Scorsese showed with Goodfellas and David Chase continued with The Sopranos continues again with Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly. Maybe it’s seeing their fall from grace and how the golden goose of opulence has tarnished.

Brad Pitt, who has been turning out one strong performance after another like clockwork, again delivers as Jackie. Pitt is equal parts charming and deadly. When he offers advice on what to do with Markie, he is in favor of putting him out of his misery with a bullet minus the roughhousing beforehand. No pussyfooting around. If you are going to killing him anyway, why should a thug’s knuckles suffer?

James Gandolfini, who is no stranger playing hit men having done so in The Juror, The Mexican and most memorably in True Romance, plays Jackie’s friend Mickey. Most will find him loathsome, playing a hit man who has lost his edge and is now drowning his sorrows with alcohol and prostitutes. His part has no overreaching story arc and seems to act more as a reminder to Pitt’s character. If you stay in this profession long enough this is likely to become of you. Richard Jenkins plays the mob’s press secretary as it is expected of him, and Ray Liotta is rather adjusted in his role, as if his Henry Hill character from Goodfellas got tired of Witness Protection and decided to visit Boston.

Wickedly cynical, Dominik makes sure to incorporate strong music cues (Johnny Cash’s “When the Man Comes Around” plays as Jackie is introduced) and excerpts from political discourse throughout the film in the background on TVs and radio. Senators John McCain and Barack Obama are making promises while the country still suffers. Scoot McNairy’s character is the picture of desperation. At one point he tells his story of trying to get a job that was organized by his parole officer. The job, its location and working hours, as compared to his living arrangements and lack of transportation, made it impossible to get there. He may be a criminal, but his struggles to make ends meet shows that when pushed to the limit we do anything as a means to survive. Not helping his situation is having a junkie for a friend in Animal Kingdom’s Ben Mendelshohn. Mendelshohn’s character and his appearance make you grateful the film wasn’t presented in Smell-O-Vision.

Killing Them Softly likely won’t be enjoyed by most. It’s an anti-gangster movie much like Dominik’s last film, The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford, was an anti-western. He incorporates a real-world problem and applies it to the criminal underworld. If you want a straight-up crime-thriller then avoid KTS. This is a film for those who like heaping servings of dialogue and conversations. Basically, if you know the works of Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty, Rum Punch – aka Tarantino’s Jackie Brown) then KTS is the film for you.

Director: Andrew Dominik
Writer: Andrew Dominik, based on Cogan’s Trade by George V. Higgins
Notable Cast: Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Vincent Curatola, Ray Liotta×120.jpg

]]> 1
Brad Pitt Stars In New Trailer For Killing Them Softly [Video] Mon, 26 Nov 2012 05:00:11 +0000 The latest trailer for Killing Them Softly has been released. You can view it below.×120.jpg

]]> 0
New Trailer for The Details with Tobey Maguire Mon, 24 Sep 2012 11:00:23 +0000 The first trailer for Tobey Maguire’s latest has been released. You can view it below.

Plot Summary: When a family of raccoons discover worms living underneath the sod in Jeff and Nealy’s backyard, this pest problem begins a darkly comic and wild chain reaction of domestic tension, infidelity and murder.

]]> 0
Monday Morning Critic – Goodfellas, Henry Hill and Hollywood’s Mafia – Super Fly Mon, 18 Jun 2012 12:00:11 +0000 Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

I remember writing something in depth about Rocky a while back, which you can read here, and thinking about the parallels between that film and The Godfather in how they looked at their subjects in comparison to other film standards. And I had always intended to write more on that, as I didn’t cover it like how I wanted to and the death this week of Henry Hill kind of spurred me on.

Henry Hill, famously played by Ray Liotta in Goodfellas based off the true crime novel “Wiseguys” by Nicholas Pileggi, was a mobster of some repute made famous to a certain degree by the novel and film. A soldier in the Lucchese family, he was behind the Boston College point shaving scandal as well as a number of other high profile incidents. Hill had always wanted to be a gangster because it meant being somebody as opposed to just being nobody that does anything substantial with the requisite mortgage, job, wife and 2.3 children.

Being a connected guy, a criminal, is something that appealed to Hill because it meant he was more than just some guy; he was a rock star of sorts. It’s easy to see why the lifestyle appealed to him: Hill grew up poor (and died poor) but lived like a king during his years as a soldier in the Lucchese crime family. There’s an appeal to the lifestyle that’s easy to see; we all want the good life but few of us ever actually get it. Hill wanted it and took what he wanted without regard to the law, like most petty thugs.

That’s the one thing you need to know to understand the motivations of Henry Hill in the film and in real life but the one thing that always fascinated me is that Goodfellas functions as a sort of opposite to the romanticized notion of La Cosa Nostra. The Godfather is a beautiful film, one that inspired Mafia Dons to want to be Marlon Brando and wax philosophical as opposed to the thugs they generally were, but there’s a reason why I never really considered it to be the seminal work about the Mafia in America. The rise and fall of Michael Corleone, while making for remarkable cinema, never captured the mob like how it ought it to be captured.

Henry Hill was in reality the kind of guy Michael Corleone would’ve been … it’s just that no one wants to really admit it. It’s the one thing that’s most amusing when you compare Goodfellas and The Godfather on that level. It’s the difference in the way each character arc is designed.

We can like Michael at first and then less as he becomes the sort of vicious man his father was. Power doesn’t corrupt, but maintenance of it hardens a man’s soul. Being head of a crime family means you can’t deal with things in a peaceful way most of the time and get what you want; his father put a horse’s head in a man’s bed and Michael had no qualms giving the order to kill off his rivals in one fell swoop. His is a tale of a man who’s rise to power took away the thing inside him that causes an audience to like him; it’s why The Godfather is more of a tragedy than anything else. Michael is a war hero who accepts that his father is a bad man but wants nothing to do with it. His brothers, do though, but Michael is to be the one who is out of the business and clean. Life intervenes, though, and he’s set on the path to become the Godfather.

It’s a grand story and even the third film, which was good but not brilliant, completes the story. Michael may have everything but he still dies alone; there’s something poetic in all of it. He’s the mobster that’s romantic in notion; The Godfather is about a man’s rise to power and how he loses himself along the way.

Henry Hill was just a dirt ball who hung out with other dirt balls because they had easy money schemes. There’s no grand operatic character arc for him and no fall for him to take as a person. He wanted to have the nice suit and the pricey car but never wanted to work hard enough to earn it legally. It was easy for him to take and Henry Hill is a bad man who always was bad. He just found people to indulge that aspect of his personality early in life. He was destined to do bad things and found out early that it was his nature to be a bad man.

He’s the mobster you see on the news being arrested and go “yeah, that’s a mobster.” There’s nothing romantic about it and Goodfellas ought to be the film we look at when we think of the mob. But it never is; we want that grand notions of honor and Omertà in the same way we want to think of boxers like Rocky Balboa instead of Jake LaMotta. And historically we look at Godfather as the better film.

The Godfather holds up better as a film on a historical level because of what happened after; as films they’re both masterpieces but Coppola’s film is held in a little better regard because of where everyone went afterwards.

The Godfather was the place where Al Pacino and James Caan started their paths to becoming legendary leading men. Robert Duvall has had a fairly spectacular career, too. Talia Shire is iconic as both Connie Corleone and Adrian Balboa. Marlon Brando’s Godfather changed the way Mafia dons presented themselves. Diane Keaton is spectacular, only surpassing it in Annie Hall. John Cazale may have died before his time but every film he starred in is a classic. Every main role from the 2012 perspective is astonishing; back then most were burgeoning but now it’s “wow.” Francis Ford Coppola counts this amongst the number of great films he made over the years, as well.

Goodfellas essentially boils down to the last truly great performance from Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci’s peak and Ray Liotta’s only truly brilliant performance. It’s more of “last hurrah” than anything else, it seems, as no one from this film really hit a peak higher than this film. Martin Scorsese would count this among the number of great films he made that would be denied an Oscar, something that wouldn’t be rectified until The Departed. Goodfellas fits the historical perspective of just another film that Scorsese got screwed over for instead of its rightful place as the definitive film about the mob.

That’s what not getting an Oscar does.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – Super Fly

When it comes to blaxpoitation, there are a handful of films that really get remembered among the sheer volume of cinema from that era. One of the biggest is Super Fly, mainly because it has a great soundtrack to it.

It’s a fairly simple story. Priest (Ron O’Neal) wants to get out of the drug-pushing business. But he wants to do it with a big bankroll and as such he conspires with his partner to pull off one last score to net $1 million dollars. But things seem to be conspiring to keep him either dealing cocaine or in prison, or dead, as Priest’s desire to get out of the business conflicts with his apparent high level ability to deal cocaine.

It’s an intriguing film and one of the better films of the genre. Blaxpoitation is an interesting genre to look back on and if anything Super Fly is an interesting look back at an era.


What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – A historical fiction about how the Civil War was fought between an ass-kicking Abe and vampires.

Skip It – I love Timur Bekmambetov’s visual sense and loved his Night Watch series … but watching the trailer for this I noticed something amusing. People were laughing, hard, by the end of this. This has all the makings of “camp classic that wasn’t intended to be a camp classic” I think.

Brave – A Scottish girl shoots arrows at things to keep from being forced to marry wimps in badass Scotland.

See It – It’s Pixar. Pixar doesn’t disappoint; they may not hit a home run all the time but they hit that respectable double without blinking.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World – A pre-apocalyptic film where Steve Carell and Keira Knightley spend their last three weeks on Earth with one another trying to find a measure of peace in the world.

See It – Knightley is always intriguing to see when she isn’t in period costuming and Carell always has one film between his big budget comedies that’s small and engaging.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .×120.jpg

]]> 3
Michael Shannon Cold As Ice In Poster For The Iceman Mon, 26 Mar 2012 17:00:38 +0000 Take Shelter star slicked back and ready to fire in first poster for The Iceman. ]]> If you missed last year’s Take Shelter, you missed one of the strongest performances of the year with Michael Shannon playing a father who experiences vivid dreams and hallucinations of what he thinks may be the storm to end all storms. This year, he goes from the psychological to cold and calculating as he stars in The Iceman, a true-to-life hitman chronicle directed by Ariel Vromen (who previously helmed the features Rx, Danika).

Based on Anthony Bruno’s non-fiction novel The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer, the project looked to pick up steam when James Franco and Benicio Del Toro looked to star, but then the production struggled to get off the ground. Instead, the project has obtained a decent cast. In addition to Shannon, Iceman star Ray Liotta, Chris Evans, David Schwimmer and Winona Ryder.

The story follows the exploits of Richard Kulinski (Shannon), a most notorious mob hitmen who claimed over 100 kills all the while keeping his identity secret from his wife and kids. Schwimmer plays fellow hitman Josh Rosenthal with Liotta as his mob boss Roy Demoe, Ryder as Shannon’s wife and Evans as his mentor.

The Pulse: You had me at Michael Shannon and hitman. Seriously. The guy has been on fire of late. Ever since his turn in William Friedkin’s Bug, I’ve been keen to follow what projects he’s considering. And with his Oscar-nominated turn in Revolutionary Road and his above-mentioned work in Take Shelter, Shannon definitely has range. The Iceman may be a so-so docudrama about a ruthless killer/family man, but with Shannon in the starring role I’m more than intrigued.×120.jpg

]]> 0
DVD Review: The Son of No One Sun, 26 Feb 2012 22:00:16 +0000 The Son of No One is that Dito Montiel is too interested in recreating a crime version of [A Guide to Recognizing Your] Saints than he is in new material.]]> Somewhere deep inside of Channing Tatum there’s an actor waiting to come out. While most film goers know him for big studio projects, most of them designed in a way to show him without a t-shirt on in the same way Matthew McConaughey has found himself, something occasionally leaks out. A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and small roles in Public Enemies and Battle in Seattle showcased that the actor is more than just a pretty face and a good set of abs. There’s something more to him than being a pretty face of the moment; Tatum has some acting chops he occasionally displays when he’s not starring in studio drivel. The Son of No One is another role for the actor to showcase his acting chops.

Jonathan (Tatum) is a second generation cop assigned to the same Queens neighborhood he grew up in. Assigned to reopen a double homicide based off the handiwork of a reporter (Juliette Binoche) that implicates a cover up by the lead detective (Al Pacino) in the case, his father’s former partner, Jonathan is stuck in a quandary based on his past.

It’s an interesting film as it’s about a man coming to grips with the past, and his upbringing, but the shocking thing to all of this is the talent involved. You’d have thought that with Tatum, Liotta, Pacino and Tracy Morgan (amongst others) that this would’ve been a fairly substantial release in 2011. But unfortunately it wasn’t but it’s not a shame. Why?

It’s not good enough to try and find more than a niche audience.

The problem with The Son of No One is that Dito Montiel is too interested in recreating a crime version of Saints than he is in new material. Using similar techniques in layering the past to illuminate the present, Montiel seems to be establishing a style all his own. While he didn’t use the technique in Fighting that film felt less personal this film and Saints did. That was a studio film and these are indies, which can be more daring and filter a viewpoint through a narrower lens.

The film itself has interesting moments but unfortunately it feels more like a generic crime thriller going through the motions than anything else. There’s nothing to distinguish it from any number of films in the genre and it’s a shame because it feels fresher than most. Tatum is a good lead, in spite of the horrible moustache, and he gives an admirable performance. There’s hints of some talent being brought out and considering this is his third film with Montiel any brilliance in him would’ve come out by now. Montiel knows how to film Tatum and bring out more than just the pretty face lesser directors have done for him in the past; the fact that he’s a somewhat engaging lead instead of just a pretty face in big studio fare has to be an accomplishment in and of itself.

There’s a reason why The Son of No One never got a wide release: it doesn’t do anything interesting or unique in the genre.

There’s a Commentary Track with Montiel and Executive Producer/Editor Jake Pushinsky as well as some Deleted Scenes

If you’re a crime film aficionado, this is a nice but deeply flawed film in the genre.

Anchor Bay presents The Son of No One. Written and Directed by Dito Montiel. Starring Channing Tatum, Tracy Morgan, Al Pacino, Katie Holmes, Juliette Binoche, Ray Liotta. Running time: 94 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: February 21, 2012. Available at×120.jpg

]]> 0
New Pictures of Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta from Cogan’s Trade Fri, 17 Feb 2012 12:00:58 +0000 Six new stills from Cogan’s Trade have found their way online; you can view them below.

Plot Summary: Jackie Cogan is an enforcer for the New England mob. When a high-stakes card game is heisted by unknown hoodlums, Cogan is called in to ‘handle’ the problem. Moving expertly and ruthlessly among a variety of criminal hacks, hangers-on, and bigger-time crooks, Cogan gets to the root of the problem and, with five consecutive shots from a Smith & Wesson thirty-eight Police Special, restores order to his corner of the Boston underworld.×120.jpg

]]> 0