Wow. Lots of stuff this week. I'm way late on posting this, so I'll spare you the pleasantries. I do want to point out that I'm trying out a new format this week, so let me know if you see any weird spacing issues. I tested it on a couple of different platforms and it seemed mostly okay, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear there are still bugs.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Yes, the first G.I. Joe movie was an unmitigated disaster. Whether you're an old school fan (like myself) or just a casual moviegoer, it was just a wretched, wretched movie. In this sequel, new director Jon M. Chu does almost everything possible to rectify the situation, outside of just rebooting the whole damn thing. It's not a great movie, but it's a pretty good one.
Starring: Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, Bruce Willis. Written by: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick. Directed by: Jon M. Chu. Rated: PG-13. Runtime: 1 hr 50 min. Released: 2013.
Short Term 12
One of the most critically-acclaimed films of the last year, Short Term 12 is a heart-wrenching tale about a foster-care facility and the struggles of supervisor Grace and at-risk teen, Marcus. Grace is played by rising star Brie Larson (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, 21 Jump Street), and one the most talented child-actresses I know, Kaitlyn Dever (TV's Justified & Last Man Standing) co-stars as Jayden. I've been wanting to see this one for a while.
Starring: Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Kaitlyn Dever. Directed by: Destin Daniel Cretton. Written by: Destin Daniel Cretton. Rated: R. Runtime: 1 hr 36 min. Released: 2013.
Okay, here's the short synopsis listed on this anime series' Netflix page: "After three unsettled battles for the mystical Holy Grail, an artifact that grants a miracle to those who hold it, a fourth war begins." Make sense? Yeah, I didn't think so either. But, hey, neither did Attack on Titan before I actually watched it and that show is fantastic. So I'm gonna recommend this one, too. I don't watch a lot of anime anymore, but this series looks intriguing and it's highly rated.
Starring: Kari Wahlgren, Matthew Mercer, Bridget Hoffman. Seasons: 2. Episodes: 26. Rated: TV-MA. Runtime (per episode): 23-25 min. Released: 2011/2012.
This is the epic mini-series that aired on History channel last spring, produced by reality show king Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel). A shorter, edited version is in theaters right now under the title Son of God. It's not my cup of tea, but it broke all kinds of ratings records so I know there's an audience for it. A sequel miniseries is under production for NBC, titled A.D.: Beyond the Bible.
Starring: Keith David, Roma Downey, Diogo Morgado. Episodes: 10. Runtime (per episode): 47 min. Rated: TV-14. Released: 2013
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
The first two seasons of Tony's new show on CNN. If you've seen his Travel Channel show, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, then you know what you're in for. Parts Unknown is essentially more of the same. Bourdain can be a prick, but damned if his travels aren't entertaining.
Starring: Anthony Bourdain. Seasons: 2. Episodes: 16. Runtime (per episode): 42 min. Rated: TV-PG. Released: 2013.
Another new CNN show. Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) takes on various jobs in order to explore diverse sectors of American life. I was a fan of Super Size Me and Spurlock's FX series, 30 Days, so I'm interested in checking this one out, too.
Starring: Morgan Spurlock. Seasons: 1. Episodes: 8. Runtime (per episode): 42 min. Rated: TV-PG. Released: 2013.
A Fantastic Fear of Everything
This British comedy was released two years ago in the UK, but is just now seeing release in the states. Simon Pegg plays a children's author who's now become a crime novelist and is increasingly paranoid that he's being targeted by serial killers. The reviews were mixed, and the fact that it never even saw wide release in the US is not a good sign, but I've been a fan of Pegg since Shaun of the Dead, so I'm willing to give it a chance.
Starring: Simon Pegg, Clare Higgins, Amara Karan. Directed by: Crispian Mills, Chris Hopewell. Written by: Crispian Mills. Rated: R. Runtime: 1 hr 40 min. Released: 2012.
Cartoon Network/Adult Swim
A huge number of shows from Cartoon Network and its nighttime cousin, Adult Swim, were added this week. A few of these were just added at the beginning of the month, but we're already getting additional seasons. Others we're just getting a few select seasons. Here's the full list of new stuff:
The Venture Brothers (Season 2), Samurai Jack (Season 2), Robot Chicken (Season 2), My Gym Partner's a Monkey (Season 2), Powerpuff Girls (Season 4), Johnny Bravo (Season 2), Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy (Season 4), Aqua Teen Hunger Force (Season 2), Ben 10 (Seasons 2 & 3), Ben 10: Alien Force (Season 3), Ben 10: Ultimate Alien (Season 2), The Boondocks (Season 2), Chowder (Season 2), Cow and Chicken (Season 2), Dexter's Laboratory (Seasons 3 & 4), Dude, What Would Happen? (Season 2), Ed, Edd, & Eddy (Seasons 3 & 4), Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends (Season 2)
This is another one of those "such-a-great-cast-what-could-go-wrong?" kind of movies. Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones...I mean, that's a winning line-up. And it's directed by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Léon: The Professional), one of my favorite action directors. According to the mixed reviews, the action is unsurprisingly decent, but the comedy work is stale. I still think it's worth a peek.
Starring: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones. Directed by: Luc Besson. Written by: Luc Besson, Michael Caleo. Rated: R. Runtime: 1 hr 52 min. Released: 2013.
This documentary traces the politics and emotions behind the eight year battle over what to build at the Ground Zero site at the former World Trade Center. Sounds like compelling stuff to me, and the critics are all over it: it's sitting at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Directed by: Richard Hankin. Not Rated. Runtime: 1 hr 32 min. Released: 2012.
I'm not sure about this one. The plot is intriguing: two high school film geeks decide to film themselves as they get revenge on a group of bullies called "the Dirties," and one of them takes it too far. But it was picked up and distributed by Kevin Smith's SModcast Pictures, and Smith hasn't done anything good since the 90's. Still, Smith wasn't involved until after it was completed, so maybe it escaped his reek.
Starring: Matt Johnson, Owen Williams, Krista Madison. Directed by: Matt Johnson. Written by: Matt Johnson, Evan Morgan. Not Rated. Runtime: 1 hr 22 min. Released: 2013.
Leap Year (Año Bisiesto)
This 2010 film from up-and-coming director Michael Rowe is a disturbing look at the life of a Mexico City journalist and the depths of depravity she allows herself to be subjected to by new lover, Arturo. Rowe won the Caméra d'Or for best first time feature film director at Cannes with this film, and it's been highly touted by critics around the world.
Starring: Mónica del Carmen, Gustavo Sánchez Parra, Marco Zapata. Directed by: Michael Rowe. Written by: Lucia Carreras, Michael Rowe. Not Rated. Runtime: 1 hr 32 min. Released: 2010.
I barely remember this one hitting theaters a few years ago, and it certainly didn't fire up the critics, but the premise is intriguing, and I know how many people love Channing Tatum. He stars as a Roman soldier searching for—oh, who cares. It's Channing Tatum with a sword and stuff. That's all you really need to know.
Starring: Channing Tatum, Donald Sutherland, Jamie Bell. Directed by: Kevin Macdonald. Written by: Jeremy Brock. Rated: PG-13. Runtime: 1 hr 54 min. Released: 2011.
That's G.B.F. as in "gay best friend," not "grey baboon farts." This independent high school comedy is about two gay students and the friction caused when one of them skyrockets in popularity by befriending the cool girls. It looks funny and it's got a strong supporting cast, including Natasha Lyonne, Megan Mullally, and Horatio Sanz. I'm thinking Mean Girls with a gay twist.
Starring: Michael J. Willett, Paul Iacono, Sasha Pieterse. Directed by: Darren Stein. Written by: George Northy. Rated: R. Runtime: 1 hr 32 min. Released: 2013.
I can't help it, I love these movies. And, yes, I've seen them all—right up to Leprechaun Back 2 Tha Hood. But let's be honest, this first film is the only one that's any good. And it always amuses me that a pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston is in this thing. (BTW, there's a TERRIBLE looking reboot coming out later this year called Leprechaun: Origins, co-produced by the WWE, with Warwick Davis replaced in the title role by some wrestler named "Hornswoggle." Blech.)
Starring: Warwick Davis, Jennifer Aniston, Ken Olandt. Directed by: Mark Jones. Written by: Mark Jones. Rated: R. Runtime: 1 hr 31 min. Released: 1993.
Interior. Leather Bar.
This is a weird one. James Franco co-directs and co-stars as himself as he works on a fictional project to recreate the 40 minutes of sexually explicit footage removed from the controversial 1980 William Friedkin film, Cruisin'. Now, the film itself never fully recreates that footage; it's more about the emotions and conflicts that Franco and collaborator Travis Mathews go through while working on the project. At only 60 minutes long, it's worth taking a look.
Starring: James Franco, Travis Mathews, Val Lauren. Directed by: James Franco, Travis Mathews. Written by: Travis Mathews. Not Rated. Runtime: 1 hr. Released: 2013.
John Milius was one of the most influential filmmakers of the 1970's. He was a friend and contemporary of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Francis Ford Coppola. He was a writer on the first two Dirty Harry movies, was nominated for an Oscar for writing Apocalypse Now, and wrote and directed Conan the Barbarian and Red Dawn. But he's been mostly blacklisted in Hollywood for the past two decades due to his extreme right-wing views. And I do mean EXTREME. Remember John Goodman's character "Walter" in The Big Lebowski? The Coens based that character on their friend, John Milius. Anyhow, this documentary follows Milius' rise and fall, with interviews from Lucas, Spielberg, and others.
Starring: John Milius, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg. Directed by: Joey Figueroa, Zak Knutson. Not rated. Runtime: 1 hr 43 min. Released: 2013.
From One Second to the Next
This one's a little unusual, but it's worth mentioning. AT&T commissioned this short film by legendary director Werner Herzog to highlight the dangers of texting and driving. The result is an absolutely gut-wrenching documentary that has been shown in schools and community centers around the country. It's been available for free on Youtube for a while now, but this Netflix release makes it more accessible than ever. At only 34 minutes, it won't take much time out of your day, but the message is so important. I highly recommend that you watch this one, especially if you have teenagers in your home that are of driving age.
Directed by Werner Herzog. Not Rated. Runtime: 34 min. Released: 2013.
Well, that's it for this week. Anything I missed? Drop me a line and let me know.
For more Netflix news and other nonsense, follow me on Twitter @barryerice.