Month: June 2014

4th of July Week

I have been sitting on a couple of films for a while that I haven’t reviewed yet.  It just so happens that two of them begin with the word “American.” So we will be doing them this week in coordination with the coming American birthday.  We will also be doing a film suggested to us for the holiday and possibly republishing others that work with the same theme. We won’t be going forward in the alphabetic order of our DVD collection so pretty much this will only be films starting with “N” and all the letters before.

Keep an eye out in the coming week for some American/4th of July themed films.  If you have any suggestions yourself feel free to send us a tweet with the suggestion.


Year: 1996
Directed By: Harold Ramis
Written By: Chris Miller wrote the short story and he as well as three others are credited with writing screenplay.


Following the unfortunate death of Harold Ramis I felt compelled to own more of his films.  The collection already features many as you can see by looking at The List but somehow it didn’t seem like enough.  This guy was a legend; he was a great comedy director and writer as well as a capable actor when his name was called.  I was a huge fan, and I felt a loss with his passing harder than I thought I would. I see Ramis as something greater than most because he was a multi-talented filmmaker that did everything.  He was more than simply a writer, actor, or director.  He was a filmmaker in every aspect of the process and he made some really funny films.  This film in particular had not been part of our collection before his passing but looking over the ones I didn’t own it jumped out at me.  I remember watching it when it came out back in 96 and thought it was just OK.  I don’t think it is necessarily an exceptional film now but I do like the collaboration of Ramis with Michael Keaton.  The pairing of two guys I grew up with that just aren’t that popular anymore made me pull the plug.  Sometimes I miss the days when one blasted ghosts with his proton pack and the other haunted criminals at night as the caped crusader.

Harold Ramis knew how to give a funny actor the freedom to do his thing.  It was one of the reasons he worked so well with Bill Murray both as an actor and director back in the day.  In this film he gave Michael Keaton the freedom to showcase his comedic talents.  I’ve never thought of Michael Keaton as a specifically funny actor, I have always unequivocally thought of him as Batman. Nevertheless he has proven more than once that he has the ability to play a great part in a comedy.  He was great as BeetleJuice and I sincerely hope for the opportunity to see him play that part again. The talk of a sequel to that one has heated up some and I for one will have my fingers crossed in anticipation. As for his part in this film; it gave him so much opportunity to be funny because he actually got to play four different sides of the same character.  I specifically thought about how funny he was in this movie when I decided to purchase it and don’t regret the decision. I think Doug1 is really cool because he is just regular old Michael Keaton.  Doug2 is cool because he gets so aggressively butch and macho as the movie progresses.  Doug3 is my favorite because I think the feminine Keaton is the funniest of the bunch.  Doug4 is technically the funniest but I always find myself laughing at Doug3 more.  It makes no matter as they are all great in their own way as brought to life by Michael Keaton.  I think I have sufficiently talked him up at this point.  His career took a spill for a long time but I’m hoping that things are turning around for him.  I haven’t seen the Robocop remake yet but part of the reason I look forward to doing so is because it was a big part for Keaton to get after a long time of not getting big parts.

I mentioned this movie to a friend of mine recently and it sent him on a tangent about how much he hated Andie MacDowell.  He specifically said she was in two of his favorite movies, this and Groundhog Day.  I found it interesting that both movies were made by Harold Ramis and imagine he liked MacDowell specifically.  I don’t get why my friend hates on her because I don’t see anything to hate.  I don’t know that she really brought a lot to the table in either film he mentioned but I think she fit the part in both movies well. It can be difficult to play opposite some actors, specifically someone like Bill Murray, and I think she did a good job of it.  Another little tid bit about her is that I used to work with a guy who met her at a screening of an independent film once.  She was long past her moment in the sun at the time and her presence was a bit surprising to him. He spoke fondly of her saying that she was both approachable and really down to Earth.

In order to appreciate this film you have to look past the flaws in storytelling and just appreciate the performance from Michael Keaton. They could have called this movie “The Michael Keaton Show” if they had been so inclined because that is pretty much what it is.  I think he deserves more recognition for the part if nothing else because he did an outstanding job portraying different parts of the same man.  As the working Doug he is appropriately macho, as family man Doug he is hilariously feminine, and as the mentally handicapped Doug he is funny in a way that only a child can be.  All in all Keaton pulled all the stops to be really laughable and I thoroughly enjoyed this film.  If you get the opportunity to see it then you should check it out.  It’s worth your time and a great opportunity to see the talents of two stalwarts of the late 80s and early 90s giving it another go as the sun set on their careers.  (I sincerely hope in time that statement turns out to be false for Keaton, I will never give up on the BEST Batman).


I used to watch this movie all the time when I was younger. I think my mom owned it. It’s hard to remember. I just thought how cool it would be to clone yourself. I also thought this was very far fetched and way off from anything I would see in my lifetime. Yet, today we are cloning all sorts of things and 3D printing almost anything. Human cloning has a whole other moral and ethical issue surrounding it, which I wasn’t even close to knowing when I was younger and watching this movie. And now that I am a working mom, I think this idea is greater than ever.


This poster is very 90s. I think it is simple, but works. The typography is playful, but could probably do a little more. Since the name of the game is cloning in the movie, maybe some science symbols or something could have been really clever to add into the title. I do enjoy all of the negative space in this poster. It is so simple, and rewarding. I think you get a very clear view of what this movie is about, just by looking at the poster. I like it and am pleasantly surprised.

NEXT MOVIE: My Life (1993)

Moonrise Kingdom

Year: 2012
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Written By: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola


How funny it is that so soon after we review Monster’s Ball we should come to another love story so equally awkward and awesome.  I think on paper the love story of a teenage girl and a khaki scout running away together to prematurely get married doesn’t sound so good but with the right guy at the helm it can become magic. I’ll admit that there are times during this movie that I feel a bit awkward because the stars are so young but it really takes nothing away from how cute and romantic their relationship is. Like all Wes Anderson movies this one is built on outstanding performances from a rich cast to go along with smart dialogue and unique direction.

I think Wes Anderson is one of the smartest filmmakers out there today.  Like a solo Coen Brothers act that makes something with a style of his own that never fails to be different and interesting.  I would never insult the man by trying to diagnose him myself.  I wholeheartedly believe this man more than most to be smarter than myself and I have no business trying to put his work under a microscope.  It’s incredible, its original, and it is a reminder to me that there are still fresh movies being made during this age of big budget special effects monsters. Wes Anderson is a director that knows how to develop characters during the time constraints of a film.  He draws top tier actors to his films and puts them all in a position to play a really memorable role. I don’t know where he found his two stars for this film but I thought the love struck couple was played by some outstanding young actors.  The supporting cast is as good as any I have ever seen yet these two kids manage to still really distinguish themselves. The star crossed lovers, Sam and Suzy, were played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward.  I don’t know what the future holds for them but they have the talent to grow into greats one day.

This was the first Wes Anderson film to feature Ed Norton and I hope we see more collaborations between the two.  I am and have long since been a big fan of Ed Norton. I do not know what’s been up with him for the last decade or so. He really blew up in the late 90s and early 2000s playing parts that left quite an impression on me.  Since then the only noteworthy thing he has done has been The Incredible Hulk and although I thought he was great as the mean green machine he burned bridges with the studio.  That movie was to be part of the cannon of films being made around The Avengers franchise but when Norton got into a dispute with the studio over a writing credit he was dropped like a bad habit.  His character was replaced for the big show and as a result there is a good possibility we don’t see anymore solo Hulk films for quite a while.  I think it’s a shame because I liked Norton as Bruce Banner and I would have liked to see more of his Hulk movies.  In this film he is awesome as Scout Master Ward and I think he fits in nicely with the Wes Anderson crew.

Bruce Willis and Frances McDormand were also collaborating with Anderson for the first time in this film and like Norton I think they fit in perfectly.  They are both in points of their careers where they can seemingly do no wrong when given the right opportunity.  For all his talent I think Bruce Willis makes a lot of crap these days but I am specifically thinking of the recent Die Hard sequels.  The man is too good of an actor to keep beating a dead horse in my opinion.  McDormand on the other hand doesn’t make stupid movies, and I love her for it.  Great actress that can never get enough credit.

The Wes Anderson regulars know what he wants now and their performances in his movies are always perfect.  Bill Murray is a legend and I love everything that he does.  He continues to be part of incredible films and I specifically love the way he has grown as an actor and entertainer over the long haul of his career.  Jason Schwartzman always plays an interesting character and this film is no different.  I have loved Schwartzman since his portrayal as “Cool Ethan” in one of my favorite comedies of all time, Slackers. That movie is largely forgotten and I rarely meet anybody who has even seen it but he is so damn funny in it.  In this film I specifically like the slow motion scene when Sam and Suzy are leaving the chapel as “man and wife” having just been wed by Schwartzman.

I have loved each and every film that Wes Anderson has made and this one is obviously no different.  I look forward to his most recent film, Grand Budapest Hotel, because I haven’t seen it yet.  Despite not seeing it I have already bought it and expect it on my doorstep the day it is released to video.  I have that much faith in Anderson that I will buy what he has made whether I have seen it or heard anything about it or not.  That isn’t something I can say for too many directors but I have no doubts about this one.  A truly remarkable filmmaker and in my opinion each and everything he does is worth your time.  He is still a young director so I hope we have a lot more to look forward to from him in the future.


I just love this adorable movie. It’s an interesting little love story about two kids, who I feel in the end teach everyone a little something about love. It takes a special kind of actor to pull off any Wes Anderson film, and I think he always does a fantastic job of finding actors who can portray so much depth even though they are mostly melancholy the entire film. Another note worthy thing about a Wes Anderson film is the opening credits. They are the most artistic in the business. It doesn’t get much better from an artistic opinion.


This is how you fit everyone in the movie into the poster in an effective way. No cheesy glows and fading, floating faces. One big group shot. Any other movie and this might be cheesy as well, but not this movie. Because it’s too intentional. It works. The coloring matches the movie and the scenery matches the plot. The typography is a little hard to read since the value of the yellow is really close to the blue behind it, but it’s strange and out of place because of the fancy script; yet this too works simply because everything in his movies are strange and out of place. Yes, I will admit I am biased, but this poster works for me. I was already interested in seeing the movie because it’s Wes Anderson, but just in case…the poster also makes me want to watch.

NEXT MOVIE: Multiplicity (1996)