In the seat:
In the seat:
Release date: 9/23/11
Lionsgate (home video release)
Directed and written by:
Michael Parks – Pastor Abin Cooper
John Goodman – ATF Special Agent Keenan
Melissa Leo – Sarah
Kyle Gallner – Jared
Michael Angarano – Travis
Nicholas Braun – Billy Ray
Stephen Root – Sheriff Wynan
The host reviews were just slightly mixed. Tony was a Kevin Smith fan up through Jersey Girl but believes that Smith’s movies have not “grown up” over the years. Darrell had to force himself to watch the movie. Jill felt that it could have been good as one or two different movies but Smith didn’t solidify what this particular movie was going to be; things were meshed together and just didn’t work out. Even the credits at the end were broken up into three groups (Sex – Religion – Politics). All of them did agree that the performances by Michael Parks and John Goodman were fantastic.
Red State was billed as a horror movie, but once you get past the three teenage boys being captured by the Five Points Trinity Church, there is no more “horror.” When the phone rings and wakes up Agent Keenan, this introduces almost a “second” movie. The violence from this point on is more akin to an action movie than a horror movie.
This same dividing line, the introduction of Agent Keenan, also divides the two political statements in the movie; that of religion and that of the government.
The hosts all agreed that there are two elements of evil in this movie (Cooper and the government) but neither is the one true monster. The hero is Agent Keenan but was he truly redeemed at the end? Yes, he was.
Darrell didn’t like the hand held camera shots, he found it very distracting and thought it didn’t add anything to the filming. Tony thought there was too much off-screen violence; he wanted to have a more visceral reaction to the film. Jill questioned if Smith’s message was that we (the audience) are being duped… the media portrays all of these right-winged groups as monsters but the real ones still exist in the shadows and we’re being distracted from what the real monsters are doing.
Darrell brought up that Samuel L. Jackson was considered for the role that eventually went to John Goodman.
Smith wrote the role of Pastor Cooper for Michael Parks after seeing his performance in From Dusk Till Dawn. Smith said that if Parks had not agreed to be in the film, he would have dropped the project entirely.
Smith did not initially know that Michael Parks was a country singer early in his career (1960s & 1970s). Many of the country-gospel songs sung in the film were suggested by Parks during filming. Three of the six songs listed in the soundtrack were performed by Parks. After the film was completed, Parks re-recorded the songs onto an album.
Smith had stated that the original ending of Red State continued through with the trumpets signaling the Rapture. After Cooper tells Keenan to shoot him, Cooper’s chest explodes, followed by the remaining family members’ chests and the government agents’ chests exploding one by one. During these deaths, the ground shakes and splits, and Keenan curls up on the ground and closes his eyes. When he opens his eyes he sees the last agent killed with a giant sword coming out of his chest, which is being wielded by an enormous armored angel. The angel looks at Keenan, puts a finger to his lips, and says “Shhhhh”. The angel then flies off into the sky, and as the angel banks out of the picture the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse descend.
It has been widely acknowledged that there are ten “easter eggs” in this film. One is known, but the remaining nine will only be discussed by Smith once they are discovered by fans. I searched online for quite some time but I couldn’t find if any one had uncovered any of the other easter eggs. The first one is that Sheriff Wynan enters and exits the film with a shot to the face. Tony wonders if another one is that Keenan was named after hockey coach Mike Keenan, as Smith is a well-known hockey fan.
Your Producers for this episode were:
This episode was recorded: 1/11/2012
John Ottway is a solitary man who’s dealing with huge depression since losing a woman who’s very important to him. He’s run away from his undefined past to work security for at an oil-drilling site in Alaska. His security work involves the hunting down and killing of dangerous man-eating wolves that are a constant threat to the workers. His solitary existence leaves him with little compassion for the men he works with, but still he diligently does his job. He’s up for some leave time and joins some fellow employees on a flight to Anchorage when something happens with the plane he’s on and it crashes, Ottway and a handful of men survive the crash and now must fight for survival in the midst of the elements and the wolves.
The Grey is the latest movie from director Joe Carnahan and star Liam Neeson who last teamed together on the movie version of The A-Team. Prior to this, Carnahan also directed Smokin’ Aces and NARC. I had a decent time with both The A-Team and Smokin’ Aces though I wasn’t necessarily bowled over by either of them. NARC on the other hand was a different story, it was an absolutely terrific film and I’ve been hoping for Carnahan to hit me the same way since. The Grey certainly comes a lot closer though I do have a couple of issues with the movie.
Those issues involve the slow pacing of the film and little development for the film’s side characters. I absolutely get why the film is slowly paced- this is pretty much a impossible situation to survive and so it’s inevitability would be natural to be drawn out, but here it’s just drawn out a little too long and it feels it. Though Neeson’s Ottway is the character we’re essentially following in the film, we’re also given a handful of survivors that are slightly drawn with little to get behind. One of these characters near the end of the film engages in some existentialism that just, at least to me, comes out of nowhere. It seems forced and while I suppose it could be argued that this really could result out of this situation, it just doesn’t quite ring true and further drags the pace of the film.
To be fair though, Carnahan’s set pieces involving the wolves and the survival tactics are quite well done. Liam Neeson is excellent in his part and certainly brings the needed intensity to the role. I think it could’ve been improved with having a couple less side characters from the start who could’ve been a little more clearly defined as the film progresses. With that definition, then some of the existential moments would’ve made more sense and would’ve been more poignant. The Grey isn’t a bad film by any means, but it could’ve been tightened up a little more. Tightening it up would’ve made it’s message about survival in an impossible situation a lot more pronounced.
If you’re wanting to see a movie like this that gets it’s points right on target, I’d suggest the thriller Frozen about three friends who get trapped aboard a ski lift and left to the elements to try to survive. It’s an extremely tight film with three very well-drawn characters that truly do make you give a damn on whether they survive. And as a final note, if you do choose to see The Grey, then you should stay through the end credits for one last little scene. My friends and I could literally feel some dissatisfaction from the audience from the abruptness of the ending of the film and of course by the time the end credits rolled, they had all left the theatre. This one little scene could’ve gone a long way to alleviating a little of that had they either stayed through it, or better… if Carnahan had placed it right after the main credits had rolled.
The hosts picks for this week are:
Jonathan (10 ¼”)
Andrew (8 ½”)
William Pall (<8″)
Lena (8 ¼”)
BD (9 ¼”)
Don’t be shy… in your picks this week, tell us… How many inches are YOU?!
Congrats to Cougron and Lena (Lay-na)… not quite sure who the LEENA person is 😉
Thanks to William and Lena for their work on putting the stats and this episode together.
Thanks also to Art, Scott and Tad for the voicemail.
Finally, welcome back, Art! Glad to hear your little one is sleeping through the night. Maybe our mail will be delivered in a timely fashion now. (Come on, that was too easy. Seriously though, congrats on your new mini-me.)
In the seat:
Important note about one of the hosts: David will be gone for the next 9 weeks. Now it’s Darrell’s job to disagree with everything Tony says (good luck, Darrell!)
David made at least four very specific, and slightly unsettling, references to his burning desire for Kathy Bates. While he had some very informative points about the movie itself, his lustful comments are pretty much all I’ll remember about this.
David states that Stephen King admitted that Misery was an autobiography of his drug addiction. He’s the writer (Paul Sheldon/James Caan) hobbled by his addiction (Annie Wilkes/Kathy Bates). Paul Sheldon crashing his car into a bed of snow (and the subsequent snow blowing around) is a representation of cocaine. At one point in the movie, Sheldon asks Annie Wilkes to take his pain away… another symbol of King’s addiction.
Tony remarks that the way the movie starts is a metaphor for King’s drug addiction – it’s something Sheldon/King is knowingly going toward and he loses control… driving on the ice, crashing, and being unable to dig himself out. He knows he needs to address his problem but he’s hobbled by his addiction… hobbled by Annie Wilkes.
It was also mentioned that this movie challenges the typical stereotypes of a horror movie while still being a horror movie:
Color was also brought up as symbolic in the early parts of the movie (red meaning that something bad is going to happen):
Darrell talks about the vast number of actors who were offered the role of Paul Sheldon, many of whom turned the part down because they didn’t want to be upstaged by the Annie Wilkes character: Jack Nicholson, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Richard Dreyfuss, Gene Hackman, Robert Redford and Warren Beatty.
Angelica Houston and Bette Midler were also offered the role of Annie Wilkes.
Stephen King was so impressed with Kathy Bates’ performance in Misery that he later wrote Dolores Clairborne with Bates in mind for the title character. He also re-wrote the character of Ray Flowers in The Stand as a female, so that Bates could play that part (Rae Flowers) in the mini-series.
In a discussion of all of the Stephen King movies, it was agreed that Shawshank Redemption is the best rendition, followed by The Green Mile and Stand By Me.
At approximately 38:00 into the show, David lists every Stephen King movie… really, every single one!
*For an added bonus, enjoy Misery, My Sweet Babboo (Robot Chicken)
Your Producers for this episode were:
This episode was recorded: 1/4/2012
While I don’t necessarily consider myself a writer first and foremost, I surely do love talking about movies and writing what I think is pretty reasonable commentary and criticism of them. Some days though, it can almost be like having your teeth pulled…
… and then other days, a gem like Haywire comes around and I just want to scream to the world about it. To say that I just “liked” this one would be a bit of an understatement.
Now, I admit to a bias on this; ever since I saw the trailer for it in September, I’ve been eagerly awaiting seeing it in theatres. Haywire is the latest movie from the highly prolific Steven Soderbergh, who just happens to be one of my favorite filmmakers. It’s his first pure “action” film, and so I couldn’t wait to see what he did with it. Add to this that it’s also the first feature film for Mixed Martial Artist Gina Carano, who I was just entranced with after seeing her as part of NBC’s revival of American Gladiators a few years ago. And taking it even further, this movie came about when Soderbergh, just by accident, happened to catch one of Carano’s fights on television. Soderbergh was just as entranced by Carano and stuck the idea of making a movie specifically for her in his mind. Now take this even further, and I find out later that it’s a reunion between Soderbergh and writer Lem Dobbs, who Soderbergh worked with on another one of his great movies, The Limey. Mix this whole combination together and you get one really slick piece of entertainment starring a woman who should become the next big deal in Hollywood.
Carano plays Mallory Kane, a former Marine who now works as an “independent contractor” for covert operations for the United States. Mallory’s just been involved in the retrieval of a particular person, and she’s thought that the job went well and is about to move on to the next job provided by her handler, Kenneth. The thing is, Kenneth has other plans about his future and this job becomes his opportunity to take out the one person who knows just a little too much about him, that person being Mallory Kane. Now Mallory’s on the run and trying to find out just why she’s been set up.
It sounds pretty simple and it is, but the way Soderbergh has made this and the way Dobbs wrote it, there’s nuance all the way through with a pretty complete picture of just who Mallory is and just what she’s capable of. This movie doesn’t have the budget of, say Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol but it still delivers the thrills in a big way. The look of the film is extremely slick and Soderbergh shoots the action scenes the way you want to see them; with his camera pulled back and you being able to see the complete action. Adding to the slickness of this whole production is a terrific score from musician David Holmes, who’s previously worked with Soderbergh on Out of Sight, Ocean’s Eleven and all of the Ocean’s sequels. I cannot say enough about just how cool the music is in this film, it really gives this action piece it’s own unique flavor and makes me want to own the soundtrack.
Soderbergh has assembled quite the cast for this production. You’ve got a great foundation of talent to give Carano excellent support. This cast includes Michael Fassbender (one of my very favorite actors out there right now), Ewan MacGregor, Channing Tatum (easily the best thing I’ve seen him in in quite awhile), Bill Paxton, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Douglas. All of these guys do solid work here and even though their parts vary in size, just having guys like this in the film gives it even more substance.
But make no mistake, the real star of this film is Gina Carano, and even with this excellent supporting cast, she does indeed carry the film. Where to start? Well, obviously her athletic skills should make her a pure natural for this, but you need more than that to make her a magnetic character and that’s obviously where Soderbergh comes in. George Clooney was certainly respected before he made Out of Sight, but when he made that film with Soderbergh, he turned himself entirely over to the director and Soderbergh in turn raised Clooney’s game considerably. Since then, the two have went on to collaborate on more films (including the Ocean’s series, and Clooney’s star has just shown brighter as a result of it. To me, it looks like Carano is doing the same thing; she’s turned herself entirely over to Soderbergh and Soderbergh in turn knows just how to make her at her very best for the film. But then you have her natural skills and when you see her in a fight sequence here, it’s totally authentic. And going even further, Gina Carano is just drop-dead gorgeous. There’s a couple of sequences in the film which call for her to be dolled-up and dressed to the nines and as far as I’m concerned, she gives someone like an Angelina Jolie a run for her money. I’m a big comic book fan and there’s certainly been a lot of talk about a Wonder Woman movie being made at various times. Well, if this movie gets made, Gina Carano would be an ideal candidate for the job. I really hope this is just the start for her and cannot wait to see what she does next in film.
I just had a blast with Haywire. It’s tightly made and Steven Soderbergh looks like he’s having a blast giving us his version of an action film. It’s been rumored that after his next three movies, he might be going into retirement, and while I can understand that, I hope he doesn’t do it. I still think he’s one of the very best filmmakers out there and it’s always nice to see him stretching his wings. Gina Carano is a star in the making and if her work with Soderbergh is any indication, I certainly hope that this is just the start of a new career for her in movies (and hopefully not just action pieces). I saw this with a group of four other friends and we all had a terrific time. Haywire is terrific entertainment and highly, highly recommended.
This week’s host picks:
And to track our current obsession: www.gamesbyemail.com
Tony’s Interesting Point (TIP):
Your Producers for this episode:
This episode was recorded: December 28, 2011.