Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Director: Kevin Smith

Cast: Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson, Brandon Routh, Justin Long, Jeff Anderson, Katie Morgan, Jason Mewes, Traci Lords

Synopsis: Zack and Miri are two life-long friends living together and unable to make ends meet.   Despite having no romantic attraction to each other, they decide to make their own porno film together, after seeing how well it went for other guests at their high school reunion.

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30 Day Film Challenge Day 14 – The Film That No One Expected You To Like

Film Nerd’s Choice: Jersey Girl

Choosing a film for today on the movie challenge was perhaps my most difficult choice to date.   The simple fact is, anyone who knows me knows that I love movies in every shape, fashion and form, so no-one dares assume summarily that I will not like a certain type of film.   Bride of Film Nerd was even unable to answer the question for me, but she has an added advantage of knowing the select sub-genre of films I do not like, and there is not a Wayans Brothers film yet that I have broken the trend on yet and loved.

So that left me with remembering a Kevin Smith fan once telling me that Jersey Girl had no relation and none of the quality to the films in the Smith View Askew Universe.   To the uninitiated, I refer to the quintet of films that was Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back (Clerks 2 was released subsequent to Jersey Girl).   I can see why I was given this negative review of the film.   However, I can appreciate that Smith was trying to make a different type of film.   A widower played by Ben Affleck is left raising his young daughter alone when new love interest Liv Tyler comes into his life.

The film was not mind-blowing… I have not seen it subsequent to my first viewing, but I also did enjoy it at the time, even if just as a passing fluffy film for the evening.   As I recall, the film only sucked when real-life Affleck partner at the time J.Lo was playing the first wife.   Her exit was sad, but when the ever adorable Liv Tyler took her place, the film took brilliant leaps forward.   Also, Affleck’s on-screen daughter (Raquel Castro) was definitely cute and had a good, significant role to play in the proceedings too.

I will not give a rating, as my memory of the film is too hazy.   I will say it did make for a good night in, however.

 

Jersey Girl on IMDB

Jersey Girl on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKKMGajqnms]

Die Hard 4.0 – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Len Wiseman

Cast: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Maggie Q, Kevin Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Synopsis: Many years after the last instalment, Die Hard returns.    McClane gets drawn into a terrorist attack that is targeting the realm of information technology.    Given his previously well established technophobe status, the side-kick duties go to Long’s Matt Farrell, a hacker whose activities unwittingly contributed to the initiation of the chaos.

A review by Film Nerd.

There was a mix of dread and anticipation when this film was originally announced.   Sure, Die Hard is a great franchise and ripe for a fresh instalment.   But Bruce Willis has aged considerably, so could he still pull off the big scale action blockbuster.   The naysayers need not have feared, as not only is Willis still convincing in an action role, the other important half of the equation, the laconic wit, is 100% in tact.

Making technology the enemy was an inspired choice.    If anything has been evident in this films predecessors, it is that McClane has never been a fan of all the mod cons.   As such, he is placed out of his depth immediately.   Without someone guiding him through, chances are him being successful would have been implausible.    Enter hacker Matt Farrell, another great big geek boy for Long to add to his long list of similar roles.   Before even seeing the film, I realised this partnership would determine the success of the film.   Thankfully, Farrell is not just a whiney inept tag-along type.   Yes, the director does exploit the fact that these two guys are from completely different realms, but Farrell becomes a worthy companion to McClane, and steps up to the plate when it is required of him.

Olyphant also is deserving of mention.   His villain actually has some pretty interesting motives, subverting the classic terrorism or bank heist macguffins of the previous films.    His history is shrouded to begin with, but as the layers are peeled back, matters do get more interesting.   Maggie Q has little to do overall, except be an arse-kicking vixen, a role she has also played in Mission: Impossible III.   I believe she is next to appear in a renewed television series Nikita, one of the many American rip-offs of Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita.    She does have the potential as a good actress, so this may not be a bad thing.   I would have liked to have seen her character here developed more though.   The other major cast member is Mary Elizabeth Winstead, as McClane’s daughter Lucy.   She does achieve a lot in a relatively small role, and as mentioned in my review of Scott Pilgrim, she is an actress I intend to keep watching from this point on.

From a drama perspective, the film does achieve some brief moments of depth.   More so than any of the other films to date, the script explores the implications of what it is for McClane to be a “hero”.   It is not all roses and cotton candy, that is for sure.   That said, it simultaneously explores his motivation to step up when needed.   It is an interesting angle for a franchise born in the ’80s, but it was perhaps a vital link that connects this films with the expectations of modern audiences.

On the flip side of the coin, the other important thing to mention is the action.   It is regularly over the top, and scenes of McClane hanging on to a fighter jet to avoid falling from a destroyed bridge do stretch credibility to breaking point.   If you are going to criticise the film for this though, you are clearly missing the point.   Simple fact is, Wiseman has recognised that what propelled the action in the previous films is a constant sense of fun, and the action here delivers just that.

This is a perfect film for already established fans of the film franchise, as well as being a good introduction to the uninitiated (I can see Bride of Film Nerd reading that line with a bit of trepidation… not without reason as I think I will introduce her to this film at some point).   My personal recommendation is to sit back and enjoy the ride.

4 stars (out of a possible 5)

Die Hard 4.0 on IMDB

Die Hard 4.0 on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EUJYh32KVw]

Dogma – Alan Rickman Week

Director: Kevin Smith

Cast: Linda Fiorentino, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Alan Rickman, Chris Rock, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Salma Hayek, Alanis Morissette

Synopsis: The Catholic Church is looking to revamp its image, instituting an event permitting the forgiveness of all sins.   Two angels exiled from heaven take this as an opportunity to be forgiven and re-enter heaven.   However, if they succeed, it will make the demands of God void, and as such spell the end of all existence.

A review by Film Nerd.

At the time of its release, Dogma was considered a very controversial film… a comedy about Catholic Faith which represents the clergy as exceedingly foolish.   To those that took this perception, though essentially being very accurate, have missed an even deeper message that this film is trying to convey.

This is the fourth film in Kevin Smith’s View Askew production series, that began with Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy, and that was followed by Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Clerks II.   Aside from Smith directing, and many of the lead cast returning from various films in each of these to play different roles, the one clear connective thread in this series are Jay and Silent Bob, here cast as “prophets” to help guide Fiorentino’s Bethany on her heaven-sent quest to prevent two exiled angels, Bartleby (Affleck) and Loki (Damon), once again gaining access to heaven and ending existence.

The plot sounds pretty heavy, but it is shot in the same tone as the other comedy’s in this series, with big ideas conveyed with buffoonery and a great sense of fun.   Bethany is the straight guy in the proceedings, surrounded by absurd characters.   She receives the quest from the Metatron, the angel that acts as the voice of God, and delivered in Rickman’s unique tones.   He is a character full of sarcasm, especially as he is not permitted to imbibe alcohol after Bartleby and Loki’s drinking antics that got them expelled from heaven initially.   Jay and Silent Bob have already been mentioned, and are no different from any of their other outings, so fans of that schtick, like myself, can sit back and enjoy.   Chris Rock is as ever brilliant, playing the thirteenth disciple, the one that was never mentioned in the bible because he was black.   For me the real surprise of this film when I first saw it was Affleck and Damon.   The shine had started to wear off of their run post-Good Will Hunting, but here they do show the depths they have to offer, Affleck included, putting the viewer in the position of wishing to see them defeated, but also completely understanding why they are willing to go to such lengths.

If easily offended, especially in matters of faith, it is nor worth your time seeing this through, given that it is very irreverent.   If you are curious on another perspective on faith, however, this film has something for you.   As in the end, this film is actually not against people having a system of Faith, the source of its satire being more specifically organised religion.   So of course the Catholic clergy would be concerned about their patrons viewing it…

4 stars (out of a possible 5)

Dogma on IMDB

Dogma on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20CRw3XdETA]