Friday, November 17, 2017

Lusers (2015) - FFF - Through the Eyes of Cat

By Cat


Number Rolled: 163
Movie Name/Year:Lusers, los amigos no se eligen (2015)
Tagline:Que pasa cuando se juntan un Peruano, un Chileno, y un Argentino?
(What happens when a Peruvian, a Chilean, and an Argentine come together?)
Genre: Adventure, Comedy
Length: 95 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Bamboosa, Tondero Films, Netflix
Producers: Carlos Alcántara, Paola Barrera. Alejandro Carboni, Carlos Espinoza, Mercedes Tarelli, Miguel Valladares
Director: Ticoy Rodriguez
Writer: Fernando Castets
Actors: Carlos Alcántara, Pablo Granados, Felipe Izquierdo, Gaby Espino, Cristián de la Fuente, Mario Alarcón, Carlos Carlín, Marcela Guerty, Andrea Montenegro, Mariana Richaudeau, Rocío Rodríguez Presedo, Claudio Torres
Stunt Doubles: None

Blurb from Netflix: Three men from different nations must find their way out of the Amazon jungle -- on foot -- when they get lost on the way to Brazil's World Cup Final.

Cat’s Point of View: 

Selina is, unfortunately, a bit under the weather; and so she wasn't able to join in on this Foreign Film Friday review. In the meantime, while we're wishing her a speedy recovery, I get you all to myself.

Cue the maniacal laughter. Okay, not really, but I couldn't help myself. On to the movie!

Once again we blindly have reached into the grab-bag of foreign films on Netflix and pulled out a rather odd-looking one.

I was so confused at the outset, but what seems like a random scene at the beginning, eventually gets tied in with the story. Confusion gave way to annoyance pretty quickly, though, due to the rapid-fire dialogue. Sometimes the subtitles couldn’t keep up. I do get that part of that annoyance was likely intentional because of character development. 


There’s one in every group – someone who latches on to a topic and just rambles about it until people either want to flee or throw things.

The cultural rivalry between the various South American countries was up front and central to the journey of these characters. Of course, a lot of the stereotypes they were emulating and references went right past me because I’m just frankly not that well versed in such things. The good news was that the delivery was in a way that the point still came across and I still found things funny.

I’d have to say that this movie is something along the lines of a Latin America set of Stooges mixed with a three amigos theme, and tossed in a blender with your standard road-trip-gone-awry tale… just this one’s set in the Amazon jungle. 


Some of the film is just plain cheesy and a bit over the top, but that was all part of what made it a lot of fun. I really enjoyed this movie. It earned several laugh-out-loud moments that had my family looking at me funny.

If you’re in the mood to try something out of the ordinary, enjoy foreign films, and want a good laugh? This one might just be the movie for you.

Languages
Speech Available: Spanish, Polish
Subtitles Available: English, Spanish [CC], French, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – none
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – none
Metascore - none
Metacritic User Score – none
IMDB Score – 4.9/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3.5/5

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Jungle Book (2016)


Number Rolled: 26
Movie Name/Year: The Jungle Book (2016)
Tagline: The legend will never be the same.
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Family
Length: 106 minutes
Rating: PG
Production Companies: Fairview Entertainment, Moving Picture Company (MPC), Walt Disney Pictures
Producer: Molly Allen, John Bartnicki, Joyce Cox, Jon Favreau, Karen Gilchrist, Brigham Taylor, Peter M. Tobyansen
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Justin Marks, Rudyard Kipling
Actors: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, Garry Shandling, Brighton Rose, Jon Favreau, Sam Raimi, Russell Peters, Madeleine Favreau
Stunt Doubles: Travis Wong

Blurb from Netflix: Mowgli, who’s been raised in the jungle by wolves, leaves home on an adventure guided by black panther Bagheera and friendly bear Baloo.


Selina’s Point of View:
This movie felt like it was ten minutes long. That’s how you know it’s a good one. Time flies when you’re doing something you want to be doing.

I adored this version of The Jungle Book.

Clearly, I know the story. I grew up on the Wolfgang Reitherman (The Rescuers, Robin Hood, The Aristocats) version from 1967. Everything about it is pretty much seared into my brain – from the quirky voices to the catchy music. Just out of habit I figured I’d be very critical of this version. I mean, it couldn’t possibly live up to the cartoon film I grew up with, right?

It actually did.


The Jungle Book had some familiar songs in it, but it was almost like the cast acknowledged that the characters were singing. It steered away from anything I would actively call a musical. That set it apart and made it look less like a CGI version of the 1960s film and more like a stand-alone remake.

The story was pretty much the same. There were a couple of minor differences but, in the end, I’d say it was close enough that it’s a good introduction to the story for later generations that might not immediately take to something from half a century ago.

The people they chose to voice the various characters were absolutely perfect. I mean, could they really have chosen anyone better for Baloo than Bill Murray (Ghostbusters, Rock the Kasbah, Aloha)? Or Christopher Walken (Jersey Boys, Gods Behaving Badly, Hairspray) for King Louie?

I’m happy with what I saw today, and I’m going to look forward to seeing it again.


Cat’s Point of View:
When I first heard that Disney was putting out a live action film of The Jungle Book, I was skeptical. The nature of the animals that make up the cast would surely guarantee that pretty much everything would have to be CGI. Not only would it be impractical and dangerous to have live animals interacting on such a vast level with a child actor, it would be hard not to get the whole obvious animated rendering of animal mouths moving when they talked.

I am so very glad that they went the CGI route, though.

I was buying all of it. I was even shocked to learn that the film was actually shot in Los Angeles – not in India, where the story is actually set. All of the environment was animated in based on a boggling number of reference images from actual places on the Indian sub-continent.

It took me a few to put the pieces of my mind together again, because it was well and truly blown.

Once you are believing the characters, it’s easy to get sucked right in the rest of the way. At the very least, the film is a visual feast in its homage to the original. There are all sorts of little nuggets of reference – and at the same time there are a few minor shifts here and there that kept the material fresh instead of trying to become a frame-by-frame recreation.


My poor brain was further boggled when I learned that the young actor playing Mowgli, Neel Sethi (Diwali, The Kitchen, Food Network Star Kids), had his debut performance with this role. I’m seriously impressed. That young man will be going places. I really can’t be too surprised, though, because the casting was simply on point here.

While Bill Murray (Get Smart, Zombieland, The Grand Budapest Hotel) might have been a bit of a crazy choice for Baloo, it’s so nuts it works brilliantly. Sir Ben Kingsley (Ender's Game, Robot Overlords, Collide) had me forgetting that he wasn’t the original voice for the panther, Bagheera; and Idris Elba (Prometheus, The Take, Luther) delivered an intimidating Shere Khan.

Director Jon Favreau (Zathura: A Space Adventure, Cowboys & Aliens, Chef) and his production team get brownie points for the decision to gender-bend Kaa. Scarlett Johansson (We Bought a Zoo, Lucy, Rough Night) captures the hypnotizing essence of the sinister snake so well.

Can we talk about King Louie? Not only do I approve of the species alteration to the character, I about died when I realized he was voiced by Christopher Walken (Seven Psychopaths, Eddie the Eagle, Nine Lives). If you’re fan of Walken, there’s a hilarious Easter Egg that I refuse to spoil for you – but it’s there! His portrayal of the enormous ape was outright disturbing on so many levels.

All told, I really enjoyed what this live-action remake had to offer. I don’t know that it would replace the original in my heart but I remember my first experience watching it fondly, and didn’t mind watching it again at all. Given the quality of movie Disney was able to achieve with this film, I feel more comfortable keeping an open mind for the other live-action remakes slated for the future.


Languages
Speech Available: English, Spanish
Subtitles Available: English, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 95%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 86%
Metascore - 77/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.5/10
IMDB Score – 7.5/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4.5/5

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating:

P.S. Some songs and a cute little scene during the credits.

Movie Trailer:

Monday, November 13, 2017

Lizzie Borden Took an Ax (2014)


Number Rolled: 52
Movie Name/Year: Lizzie Borden Took an Ax (2014)
Tagline: It’s time to bury the hatchet.
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Length: 87 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production Companies: Sony Pictures Television
Producer: Teena Booth, Cindy Kerber, Michael Mahoney, Judith Verno
Director: Nick Gomez
Writer: Stephen Kay
Actors: Christina Ricci, Clea DuVall, Gregg Henry, Stephen McHattie, Shawn Doyle, Sara Botsford, Hannah Emily Anderson, Andrea Runge, Billy Campbell, Brett Donahue, Jeremy Akerman, John Dunsworth, Gary Levert, John Maclaren, Andrew Gillies, Andrew Bush, Glenn Lefchak, Brian Downey
Stunts: Randy Boliver, Melissa Kelly

Blurb from Netflix: This made-for-TV drama chronicles the scandal and enduring mystery surrounding Lizzie Borden, who was tried in 1892 for axing her parents to death.


Selina’s Point of View:
I mixed up my killers when I started watching the film, so I was a bit confused at first. I got Lizzie Borden confused with Elizabeth Bathory. If you know the story of the two killers, then you know that is a HUGE mix up. They are nothing alike in the slightest.

Needless to say, I got a much different film than I expected.

Now, normally, I like to go into a film without having discussed it with anyone first. It gives me a clean slate to figure out how I feel without any bias. In this case, my husband saw Lizzie Borden Took an Ax about a year or two ago and explained to me how he felt about it. As a result, I can’t know if my opinion is legitimate or if it was influenced by expectations.

I was unimpressed.


I do like Christina Ricci (Around the Block, Black Snake Moan, Cursed), she’s great in a lot of her stuff. I also think Clea DuVall (Veep, Passengers, Heroes), while undeniably type-cast, is rather underrated. However, I don’t think this movie did them any favors. I get that Ricci was supposed to act like an empathy-devoid psychopath, but she wound up reminding me more of Kristen Stewart (Clouds of Sils Maria, Equals, Personal Shopper) in Twilight (2008). DuVall didn’t really have that lump-in-the-throat worry that you’d expect her character to have, either.

In the end, I didn’t really enjoy what I saw. It was, however, relatively close to the actual story of Lizzie Borden; there was very little creative license taken, but it wasn’t anything special either. It definitely wasn’t enough to get me to want to watch the companion series.


Cat’s Point of View:
When we landed on this movie, I remembered that Christina Ricci (Penelope, War Flowers, Mothers and Daughters) was cast to play Lizzie; but beyond that, I’d forgotten it was a made-for-TV movie. That soon became evident when the odd scene transitions started happening at commercial break intervals.

Sudden fade-to-blacks aside, I thought the movie was fairly decent. It’s about on par for what I would expect from a Lifetime Channel movie.

I couldn’t find fault in any of the acting. The characters were compelling, and they had quite the cast assembled. Most notably, Clea DuVall (The Killing Room, Argo, American Horror Story), Gregg Henry (The Reunion, The Following, The Belko Experiment), and Stephen McHattie (The Strain, Orphan Black, Awakening the Zodiac) were stand-outs to me.


While, perhaps, not as well-known as some of the other cast members, I felt that Hannah Anderson (Reign, Shoot the Messenger, Jigsaw) also did a smash-up job in the role of Bridget. Her part was the glue that held a good bit of the movie together.

I enjoy a good period piece now and again. While I overall thought the film was fine, there was something about it that never really clicked with me. Some of it felt a bit repetitive.

All in all, I’m not sure that I’d seek to watch this movie again, but I probably wouldn’t rush to change the channel if I came across it on TV.


Languages
Speech Available: English, Spanish
Subtitles Available: English, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 43%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 35%
Metascore - 55/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.1/10
IMDB Score – 5.8/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3/5

Movie Trailer:

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Note

There's no Crowdfunding article this week. Some pregnancy-related stuff came up and I didn't have time to contact the directors to learn more about their projects.

Unfortunately, this means there may be no Crowdfunding article until after Thanksgiving on December 9.

See you guys then!


Saturday, November 11, 2017

But I Digress...Too Much Questing in the Galaxy?

By Cat


Out of the gate, I will tell you up front that Galaxy Quest (1999) is one of my favorite movies of all time. At its core, it’s about the intense love of fans for an entertainment property – in this case, a Sci-Fi television show that was, perhaps, cancelled too soon. 

Sure there’s your typical space exploration saga trappings familiar to the genre pioneered by Gene Roddenberry (1921-1991) with his ground-breaking series Star Trek (1966-1969). Of course, there have been so many incarnations of his vision since then. I’ve long been a fan – perhaps not to the degree of dubbing myself a ‘Trekkie’ (or ‘Trekker’), but the show and its universe holds a very special place in my heart. In fact, I’ve been rather heartbroken that I haven’t been able to watch the new Star Trek: Discovery (2017-) yet…but I digress.


Galaxy Quest was a spoof that poked at the behind the scenes of such shows and brought us the idea of ‘what if beings far outside our corner of the universe watched some of our stuff and misunderstood’ long before Pixels (2015) brought that concept (albeit in a different framework) to the big screen. It was funny and a labor of love done by fans, and for fans. 

I’m getting to the point, I promise. This isn’t solely a love-letter about the movie. 

Back in 2015, Deadline reported that Paramount announced that it was working on bringing the beloved movie to the small screen for a TV Series. Original writer, director, and producers were on board with this concept. 

 
This had me super excited – especially with rumors flying that they were working on bringing in the original movie cast. I may or may not have mentioned before that I am not the biggest fan of Tim Allen (Wild Hogs, Toy Story of Terror, Last Man Standing) – mostly due to being burned out on his grunting from the Home Improvement (1991-1999) era – but I really enjoyed him in his Galaxy Quest role.

 
Unfortunately, with the passing of legend Alan Rickman (CBGB, Lee Daniels' The Butler, Eye in the Skye) in 2016, amongst other casting issues, it seemed that this series would get shelved. 

Not so. 

Flash-forward to mid-August 2017. Deadline, once again, was in the lead reporting that this series still had a pulse when they announced Paul Scheer (Filthy, NTSF:SD:SUV, The League) was going to be taking over the writing. One of the original producers, at least, is still noted to be involved with the project; but beyond that, little is known about casting choices or even plot direction.
“Without giving much away, I don’t think there has ever been a better time to continue the Galaxy Quest story with the explosion and popularity of sci-fi films in recent years,” Scheer said. “To be able to create and be a part of this world is just mind-blowing, and I’m approaching this truly as what I’d like to see as a fan.”
They’re doing this without Rickman?


While Allen seems to have some of his production schedule lightened with the ending of his most recent show, it’s unclear if they’d be able to bring in Sigourney Weaver (The Cabin in the Woods, Chappie, The Defenders); considering her involvement in the filming of multiple movies on Pandora and future entanglements with xenomorphs, she seems pretty busy. 

I just don’t know. I think I would really need to get some more concrete details about the framework of the show before I can make my final decision as to whether or not I want to watch it. I am really trying to be open-minded here; but outside of replacing the cast (which seems heinously disrespectful) or writing in sad character exits to explain away those that don’t return, I don’t see it working as a concept. 

Maybe the aliens at the center of the misunderstanding in the movie might go around the galaxy kidnapping other crews? It doesn’t seem like it would have the same punch. The whole thing was centered on those specific actors from that specific show and the very specific starship built based on the series. 


Switching gears a little here, I feel it’s only fair to mention that I think the comparisons between Galaxy Quest and its potential series and Seth MacFarlane’s (Ted, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Family Guy) series The Orville (2017-) are off base. 

Sure, they’re both Star-Trek-like comedies with an occasionally cheesy ship captain and a crew rich in diversity – but that’s where the similarity stops. In my mind, The Orville runs parallel to the Trek series – showing a lighter take on the genre. Galaxy Quest had that fan and actor interaction, such as Allen’s character’s interaction with Justin Long (Planet 51, Yoga Hosers, Ghost Team) in his big screen debut. The journey of growth the actor characters go through between being ‘so over’ their old roles but chugging along in an effort to keep their bills paid, and where they end up at the end of the story wouldn’t be the same without that element. 

 
Unless MacFarlane is planning some huge 4th-wall break down the line to take the show into that territory, they’re nowhere near close. I seriously doubt he would do that, considering he’s gone on record to say that Galaxy Quest was not an inspiration for his show, and he’d only watched the movie once. Don’t get me wrong, though, I like The Orville and have enjoyed watching that series immensely. I just have seen too many references to both shows in the same breath that it needed addressing.

If you’re a fan of the movie, keep your eyes peeled for future developments. I can assure you I’ll be glued to the entertainment news feeds, myself. Hopefully, Paramount and Amazon won’t tarnish such a stellar story. (Or we might have to set loose the child-like aliens!)



For a little lagniappe, here's the original trailer for the Galaxy Quest Movie.



But I Digress... is a weekly column for trustthedice.com that can't be pinned down to just one thing. It's our celebration of tangents, random references, and general fan geekdom that both intertwines with, revolves around, and diverges from our movie-review core. In homage to the beloved Brit comedians, we want to bring you something completely different!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Heropanti (2014) - Foreign Film Friday


Number Rolled: 88
Movie Name/Year: Heropanti (2014)
Tagline: None
Genre: Action, Romance
Length: 137 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment
Producer: Siraj Kasmani, Rakesh Madhotra, Sajid Nadiadwala, Sameer A. Shaikh
Director: Sabir Khan
Writer: Sanjeev Dutta
Actors: Tiger Shroff, Kriti Sanon, Parth Akerkar, Anuradha Chandan, Karan Chhabra, Sandeepa Dhar, Sunil Grover, Priyamvada Kant, Sugandha Mishra, Prakash Raj, Howard Rosemeyer, K.C. Shankar, Dev Sharma, Devanshu Sharma, Shireesh Sharma, Samar Jai Singh, Vikram Singh, Jatin Suri, Raashul Tandon, Arun Verma, Karuna Verma
Stunts: Anal Arasu, Gn Murugan

Blurb from Netflix: Goons kidnap Bablu after he helps his friend run away with a powerful man’s daughter. While he’s held captive, he falls for the girl’s younger sister.


Selina’s Point of View:
Whenever I watch a Bollywood film from this era, I wonder if the entire genre was just really enthralled with late 80s, or early 90s, American films. There are so many aspects of this film that remind me of various movies I saw in my childhood.

The whole feel of the film, including that music video during the credits, was very early 90s action-romance. If it was in English, I’d have guessed it was made in 1992.

That said, there were some good things about Heropanti and some not-so-great things.

I have to start with a technical issue I had.

There was a sound problem, early in the film. At first, I thought it might be the way my TV was handling the type of music used for the fight scenes. I paused the film and tested my speakers against other similar music. It all came out fine. I then asked a few people to load up the film to the appropriate time stamp and they all had the same issue.


I don’t think it was done as an artistic choice. Around the 15-minute mark, there’s some music that sounds like it’s being played off of a worn-out VHS tape. The sound skips a little and gets fuzzy, the way it tends to do when you listen to something with harsh bass on bad headphones.

I reported it to Netflix.

I also didn’t like the positioning of some of the musical numbers. A couple of times it seemed to come absolutely out of nowhere, but I think that may be an issue I have with the entire genre… so I don’t hold it against this particular film.

On a good note, there were some visually stunning scenes, the acting was decent, and I found myself liking characters I wouldn’t normally like. The antagonist even managed to pull at my heartstrings a little and, considering some of the heinous things he was threatening, that’s a bit of a feat.

Despite the length of the film, which was significant, I did manage to enjoy it. It didn’t even feel all that long. If you’re a fan of Bollywood, give it a shot.


Cat’s Point of View:
I’ll admit that I wasn’t entirely thrilled to watch this movie today. My mood wasn’t ideal, to be honest. I do really try to keep an open mind even when I’m feeling meh. Surprisingly, however, this film won me over, anyway.

Somewhere along the line I forgot I was even reading subtitles – that’s a sign that a foreign film has hooked me. We’re not even going to talk about the tears towards the end – these were not the feels you were looking for. I have allergies, ok?! Fine. It was emotional.

This movie was a bit like they threw an action martial arts flick in a blender with the story of Romeo and Juliet. It worked in the oddest and yet most satisfying way.

When I say action movie – we’re talking some seriously crazy-good fight sequences. There were chase scenes and parkour…the works! There was a lack of explosions, but I don’t think anything that drastic would have been remotely called for so it wasn’t missed.


This film was the debut for the lead, Tiger Shroff (Baaghi, The Flying Jatt, Munna Michael). It’s said that he trained for three whole years to prepare for this role, and I believe it. He performed all his own stunts, and let me tell you that some of them had my jaw on the floor.

Some of the dialogue was a little cheesy, but that’s something I’ve come to expect from Bollywood movies of this nature. I’m not quite sure what the snow theme is all about – there was a similar sequence in the movie Krrish (2006) that I’d previously reviewed. I’m not sure if it’s something with thematic symbolism or a cultural thing, or if someone just thought it looked cool. It was a little odd in the middle of the movie, but hey – overall, it worked.

What it boils down to is that this film is a solid offering in the Bollywood genre with a heartfelt story, some comedic elements, romance, and a heavy dose of action well worth the nearly two and a half hours of view-time.

Languages
Speech Available: Hindi
Subtitles Available: English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, French, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 32%
Metascore - None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.4/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: PG-13

P.S.  Music video during the credits.

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Kevin Hart: What Now? (2016)


Number Rolled: 10
Movie Name/Year: Kevin Hart: What Now? (2016)
Tagline: None
Genre: Documentary, Comedy
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Hartbeat Productions, Universal Pictures
Producer: Dave Becky, Dwayne L. Brown, Nichole Celistan, Jeff Clanagan, Kevin Hart, Blake Morrison, Dana Riddick, Valerie Bleth Sharp, Pookey Wigington, Candice Wilson
Director: Leslie Small, Tim Story
Writer: Kevin Hart, Joey Wells, Harry Ratchford, Brian Buccellato
Actors: Kevin Hart, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Ed Helms, David Meunier, Joey Wells
Stunt Doubles: Ben Jenkin, Bethany Levy, Jalil Jay Lynch, Samuel J. Paul

Blurb from Netflix: Frenetic comic Kevin Hart hits Philadelphia and dishes on suburban wildlife, jean shorts and the fine art of getting even with a 7-year-old.


Selina’s Point of View:
I love, love, LOVE me some Kevin Hart (The Upside, Top Five, Central intelligence).

When I turn on a Kevin Hart special, I expect nothing less than awesome hilarity. That’s a good thing, because I never get any less than that. I always laugh, I’m always amused, and it’s always either relatable or so unrelatable that it’s even better.

Although I love comedy that borders on the political aspects of the world, like what you get from Lewis Black or George Carlin, Kevin Hart offers that bit of ridiculousness that lets you forget the big issues for a little while. We all need a break sometimes… and he’s always good for it.


There was a high-quality skit before the stand-up, it continued after the show was over. I think it was kind of unnecessary, but it wasn’t without merit. Just a little something extra for people who didn’t get to see the show live, I guess. I enjoyed it, but it might not be for everyone.

Where the stand-up is concerned, though, Hart was on point.

At one point he mentioned being creeped out by raccoons. I couldn’t laugh too hard at that, because I have my own animal kingdom creep-out issue. I hate kangaroos. I don’t find them cute. I’m fucking terrified of them. They’re like aliens, with their creepy limb-like tails and strange muscle-y nature. Ugh.


Cat’s Point of View:
I can’t tell you how excited I was when we landed on this comedy special as this mid-week review. I really enjoyed the last Kevin Hart (9mm, Get Hard, The Secret Life of Pets) show we watched, and I enjoy him in movies so, I figured this was going to be a shoe-in for a good time.

Hilarity ensued.

Upfront, I’ve got to say that I’m glad I didn’t try to watch this while my daughter was around. This special has some decidedly adult content in it – though, that’s not anything shocking or unheard of for a stand-up show. I remember not being allowed to watch Comedy Central, even when we didn’t have cable. My mom was just covering all the bases.

In any case, this was quite a different experience from the last Kevin Hart special we reviewed. I enjoyed the cinematic opening to the show. It paid homage to several movies while at the same time setting the proverbial stage for what was to come with some funny moments including cameo guests.


When it got to his Philadelphia show in the sold-out football stadium, things focused down to just Hart on stage doing what he does best – making fun of himself a lot. Of course, there was more to his act than just poking fun at himself. 

Some of it walked right at the edge of taste but he pulled it off so that it wasn’t awkward at all. Some of his material didn’t put him in a very good light – but you can bet I was still laughing. I just couldn’t help it. It was funny.

We’re talking topics that REALLY shouldn’t be joked about – and yet he did, and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t hilarious. I’m just saying.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this comedy special to anyone that enjoys this skilled comedian – and hey the action elements involved were actually pretty well done.


Languages
Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 77%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 58%
Metascore - 60/100
Metacritic User Score – 4.7/10
IMDB Score – 5.8/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, November 6, 2017

Little Boxes (2016)


Number Rolled: 26
Movie Name/Year: Little Boxes (2016)
Tagline: None
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Length: 84 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Kid Noir Productions, Mighty Engine, Related Pictures
Producer: Cary Fukunaga, Wyatt Gatling, Gary Gilbert, Jared Goldman, Jordan Horowitz, Ken H. Keller, Rosemary Lombard, Caron Rudner, Rose Troche
Director: Rob Meyer
Writer: Annie J. Howell
Actors: Melanie Lynskey, Nelsan Ellis, Armani Jackson, Oona Laurence, Janeane Garofalo, Christine Taylor, Miranda McKeon, Maliq Johnson, Nadia Dajani, Veanne Cox, David Ebert, Will Janowitz, Julie Hays, Dierdre Friel, Christian Whelan, Gabriel Rush, Mark Gessner, Jabari Gray, Yasha Jackson, Eric Charles
Stunt Doubles: None

Blurb from Netflix: After moving from New York City to a small town in Washington state, an interracial couple and their preteen son struggle to adjust to their new life.


Selina’s Point of View:
Little Boxes was a relatively interesting peek into the life of an interracial family looking to move their life into a town smaller than they’re used to. It’s a film that touches on racism, classism, paranoia, and gender roles. It actually went into a lot more than I thought it would.

From the trailer, I was expecting to see a lot of overt racism, but that’s not what I got. It touched more on the subtle side of things. Those things that a person might roll their eyes at but not immediately consider damaging. It then showed how that perspective damages a person, a family or a reputation more than you might have initially believed.


I live in New York, and my husband and I have been talking about moving to a smaller town to raise our daughter. Clearly, we don’t have to face a lot of the issues the family in this film does, but watching Little Boxes has still made me aware of the research that goes into more than just a house when you move.

I enjoyed the film.

There were a few minor cringe-filled moments that had me looking away from the screen, but I did my best to plow through them. In the end, it was worth.


Cat’s Point of View:
I remember coming across the trailer for this movie as I was putting together my list for this past April’s Top 20 movie recommendations. I can’t remember why this didn’t make the cut of my final list, but I do know that it was in contention for a good bit. Let’s just call it an honorable mention, now that we’ve gotten a chance to watch it.

I remember that I thought the story looked compelling and certainly relevant. It definitely delivered on that.

The pairing of Melanie Lynskey (Digging for Fire, Togetherness, 1 Mile to You) and the late Nelsan Ellis (Secretariat, Get on Up, Elementary) was magic. It’s a bit of a bittersweet note for me, considering Ellis passed back in July – just a handful of months after this movie released.

It was an odd feeling to both relate to the kid in this movie and his parents.


I moved a few times when I was young. While I only went at most one state away, or even just across the same state, there are always similarities in the experience even when going cross-country isn’t involved. I can only imagine adding culture shock into the mix would be absolutely horrifying. As it was, being the new kid and trying to figure out how to fit in is the universal plight of the relocated. I feel like Armani Jackson (Cooties, Grey's Anatomy, The Last Witch Hunter) did a bang-up job with his quest for acceptance in the new town.

While the story of young Clark Burns definitely struck a nerve with me, I found myself drawn to his parents. I appreciated the parallels and contrasts between what the young boy was going through and their own adjustments.

All told, I definitely enjoyed this movie. I feel like the film delivered on the promise its trailer made – providing moments of laughter and cringe rolled up in a well thought out family drama. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one.


Languages
Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, French, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 67%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 50%
Metascore - 53/100
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.8/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3.5/5

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: PG-13 

Movie Trailer:

Sunday, November 5, 2017

This Week in Crowdfunding (11/5/17)

By: Selina


Through “This Week in Crowdfunding,” you’ll find five of the best projects Trust the Dice found hosted on crowdfunding sights this week. These are Films/Web Series’/Shows of varying lengths and genres that we believe in. If you like any of the projects you see here, donate to them, tell your friends, and/or post it on social media.

These projects don’t just need money, they need people to care and spread the word that they exist.

Support creativity. Support indie artists.

Remember that every actor, director, writer, and movie you have ever fallen in love with had to start somewhere.

Trust the Dice does not, and will not, accept payment from project creators for
appearance on this list. Projects are chosen solely on the merit of the idea,
proposal, and people involved.



5 – Grayscale

                                                                                      
Crowdsource Platform: Indiegogo
Director: Nicole Sim Bao Ling
Writer: Nicole Sim Bao Ling
Other Staff: Natalie Balderas, Brielle Biscocho, David Benjamin, Nathan Baldonado, Michelle Cessna
Amount Requested: $2,000
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $415 raised by 25 backers.
Type of Goal: Flexible

This project has a very interesting plot. A world with no color allowed, where people are all forced to be exactly the same. The main character falls into some paint and winds up all different colors.

There are a lot of projects that offer people looking to be themselves something to hold on to. An idea that no matter how different they are, they’re not alone in wanting to be allowed to be their particular version of different.

Grayscale is a dystopian story with a lot to offer. The page is also laid out incredibly well. There’s no question as to where your money’s going or what the people involved are capable of. You even get to see some interesting storyboards in their trailer.

Lowest Fund Reward: $5 – Thank you! – We thank you for your support! It means a great deal to us, really. Every dollar counts.
Highest Fund Reward: $500 – Executive Producer Credit! – You are the bomb dot com. Thank you so much for your generous contribution! * Please note that we do not provide transportation and/or lodging.

4 – Relapse


Crowdsource Platform: Indiegogo
Director: Karl Jackson, Ambreen Razia
Writer: Karl Jackson, Ambreen Razia
Other Staff: No names available at this time
Amount Requested: $3,924
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $4,192 raised by 44 backers.
Type of Goal: Flexible

I studied Criminology and Sociology in university. Naturally, a dramatic film focusing on the rate of recidivism in the UK caught my attention rather quickly.

The prison system isn’t just about locking away criminals, it’s about rehabilitating people who have the capability to be better. A lot of people committing crimes do so out of ignorance or because they just don’t have access to other options in their life. When a person like that is convicted, prison is supposed to sort them out so that they can come back to the world and be functioning members of society.

Unfortunately, that’s not really how it tends to go.

The creators of this film, Karl Jackson and Ambreen Razia, made this film from their own personal knowledge. They’ve seen people have to try to readjust after being released, and they know exactly the kind of challenges those people can face. Furthermore, they want to hold a mirror up to society as they put things in perspective.

“We both have loved ones within our own lives who have been a part of the prison system, and upon release disillusioned with the systems efforts to help them rehabilitate, which is essentially the catalyst for re-offending. Having facilitated workshops in schools, PRU’S and prisons you become exposed to more complex human stories. It’s easy for us to disregard that section of society, especially when you feel that it’s got 'nothing to do with you' through our work we're trying to remind people that prisons are a close reflection of certain people's reality. And that the state of our prisons holds a mirror up to the state of our society and we want to look at that.”

Since this project was chosen for our top five, it has reached its goal.

Lowest Fund Reward: $13 – Password & Film Credit – See the film before it’s released to the public via special password-protected link, and have your name immortalized in the credits!
Highest Fund Reward: $1,308 – Executive Producer! – Legendary status!

3 – Come, Said the Night


Crowdsource Platform: Indiegogo
Director: Andres Rovira
Writer: Andres Rovira
Other Staff: Madeline Berger, James Edmund Datri, Colby Reed Miller, Ali Kazzaz, Amy Geist, Lew Temple, Nicole Sherman, Tate Birchmore, Max Page
Amount Requested: $50,000
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $1,425 raised by 25 backers.
Type of Goal: Flexible

Come, Said the Night is not your typical crowdfunded horror film. The plot runs a lot more in depth than a lot of the projects I come across. Normally, that would already be eye catching – but in this case, you have the added difficulty of working with children.

A lot of directors do believe that working with children can be difficult, especially when there’s some kind of mature content. There are some that won’t even attempt it. In this case, Andres Rovira explained a very different view to Trust the Dice.

“I enjoy working with child actors because they are still at that age where acting is a sort of backyard playtime which leads to a more honest performance. They don’t put on a theatrical song and dance for the audience, rather, treat it like they are method acting as cowboys and Indians and this, I find, is where some of the most natural performances comes from. In the case of our 13-year-old lead, she’s an incredibly well versed and mature actress for her age who knows the script better than I do, so I have no doubt she will handle the mature topics like a pro.”

His argument is a good one, and even makes me want to rethink the way I see child actors.

Come, Said the Night utilizes their child actors to tell a grown-up tale. It’s a horror that is meant to keep you on the edge of your seat right up until the end.

Everything Rovira seems to believe about horror films leads me to understand that his project will benefit from the love he shows in the genre. Even his use of the gorgon known in Greek mythology shows an innate understanding of fear and what best heightens it.

“The Gorgon is a combination of Greek mythology’s version but with my own modern twist. For example, the most popular Gorgon, Medusa, is well known for the snakes in her hair. I wanted to avoid the familiarity of this imagery because to me, fear of the unknown is the greatest fear. My approach to scaring audiences is to bring to life what scares me and I’ve always been disturbed by Bubonic plague doctors and masquerade masks. It’s that long beak-like shape that if caught at the right light and focus, will stay with you. With this new interpretation of the Gorgon, I want to create something iconic that will be remembered.”

Clearly, this is not a project to be missed.

Lowest Fund Reward: $5 – The Hum – You’ve heard the Gorgon’s hum. She has you now. As an inductee of the night, we will send you a personal welcome email, an official shoutout on our social media pages and access to all the behind the scenes updates. You are part of this thing now. No turning back.
Highest Fund Reward: $4,500 – The Never Forget – Receive a poster signed by the full cast, and a thank you video from the cast to you! +1 day on the set, attend the wrap party, 1 ticket to the world premier (food/travel $ not included), and yes, an associate producer credit! We’ll never forget your contribution to our film, and with all this you’ll never forget this amazing experience.

2 – Sober and Stoked


Crowdsource Platform: Indiegogo
Director: Scott French, Eugene Stiltner
Writer: Scott French, Eugene Stiltner
Other Staff: Tyler Valliant, Jenni Carney
Amount Requested: $50,000
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $4,657 raised by 48 backers.
Type of Goal: Flexible

This project looks like incredible fun backed with an important message.

Drugs and alcohol affect a lot of people – if not directly, then through someone they love. Addiction is no joke, and what’s worse is that there’s not often a way to help people who have succumbed to it. Not unless they want to help themselves.

I’ve seen a lot of addicts get pushed to clean up by people they love, and they ask what the point is. Why should they bother?

This film answers that question very simply. It states that the point is to live, to have fun, and to move on.

Getting clean is a huge step for any addict, and the creators of this project are very familiar with that. Together they fell to their darkest, but they were also reborn – phoenixes from the ash.

For a lot of people, getting clean might very well mean leaving behind all those friends that they once hung out with. Mainly because those friends might not ready to pick themselves up yet. A recovering addict can’t be around the same activities and substances that once dragged them down. Scott French and Eugene Stiltner were very lucky. Trust the Dice spoke to Stiltner and asked him about how he and French kicked their habits.

“I got sober a year before Scotty, and during that year I stayed pretty low key. When he had everything go down with him and he had his chance at getting sober, we were fortunate to reconnect and start surfing and riding together again. We always push each other hard when we ride or surf, just like we did partying, and now we get to do that in a way that actually has a positive impact instead of a negative one!”

That was the birth of their understanding on how the best things in life could substitute those things that hade once held them hostage.

Sober and Stoked is an important project, not only for recovering addicts but for the people who love and want to help them as well. If someone is helping a friend recover, they need to understand that their friend can’t just go back to the same habits they once had. Breaking a habit means breaking all habits that could lead to it.

Stiltner offered some advice to our readers.

“If you have to change friends, even if you have to stop talking to family for a while until you get your footing, you have to do it. These are the hard decisions in sobriety. You must remember that it is your life, your freedom, your health on the line. If others can’t be supportive, you must do whatever is necessary to not drink or use. For people who are trying to support someone in recovery, go to a coffee shop!  Go for a walk.  Go to a movie.  Go do whatever, and please, please, please, don’t have a cocktail, joint, line right in front of them while you do it!!”

This film has the potential to help thousands of people, because it’s made by people that understand. No other creators could tell the story as reliably as they will.

Lowest Fund Reward: $5 – Social shout out! – Ok, it’s not a marquee or anything, but you will get a social media shout out from us as a thank you for contributing! Every dollar helps, and we are super grateful for it!
Highest Fund Reward: $10,000 – Presenting Sponsor – The big fish presenting sponsor of the film! If you are a brand looking to get exposure to an exciting market of people who are embracing a positive and active lifestyle, this is the place for you! Gain positive PR in the fight against addiction and create a loyal base of supporters in the process. Contact us for details!

1 – Tales from the Edge


Crowdsource Platform: Kickstarter
Director: Ben Adams, Andrew Shire, David Spearing
Writer: Ben Adams, Andrew Shire, David Spearing
Other Staff: Raffaele Nocerino, Michael Macdermid, Steve Curtis, Charlotte Knight
Amount Requested: $17,873
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $3,605 raised by 56 backers.
Type of Goal: All or nothing

I was instantly drawn in to the well-made trailer for this web series. Even though it was just a description of what they were filming and why they needed the money, it was created like a story all on its own. I love when crowdfunding teams do that. It gives potential investors the ability to see the kind of work those behind the project like to do. It helps people figure out whether or not they are willing to invest in that brand of comedy or attitude.

Personally, morbid comedy is something I’m very much a fan of. When I did some work at the morgue, it was common to get through certain cases by joking. It’s a little odd when you think about cracking jokes about decomposition, but when I saw this trailer it almost made me feel a little nostalgic for that.

I don’t know how that works for most people, but yes, I just compared this project to cracking jokes while surrounded by bodies in varies stages of decomposition. Call me crazy, but I don’t think the creators of Tales from the Edge will mind.

Trust the Dice interviewed the people at Broken Toaster, but the responses were so humorous that I’m just going to copy and paste the whole thing here. It’s a first for this particular article series, but I don’t think anything else will properly prepare people for what kind of humor to expect from this project.

Trust the Dice: Thank you for agreeing to discuss your project, Tales from the Edge. Below are my questions. If you have anything to add, I’ll be happy to read it. I attempted to go to the town’s website you show on your Kickstarter page. Was that an expert fooling or just a broken link? (Judging from the way everything’s written, I can’t tell.)
Broken Toaster: Well that’s part of the mystery isn't it?! Does a magician tell you how a trick is performed...No.  Unless its the Masked Magician.  He's a right spoil sports isn't he?!
TTD: The Kickstarter page highlights your sense of humor very well. It’s easy to imagine what your finished project will be like because of that. What would you say have been the greatest influences on your humor throughout your life?
BT: Thank you very much. Yes we have and are influenced by such legends as Lenny Henry and great comedy duos like Hale & Pace and The Crankies.  However if you enjoy, The League of Gentlemen, Garth Marenghi's Darkplace and Murder Most Horrid then this is the viewing for you.
TTD: No one likes to think about coming short of success, but that’s what I’m going to ask you to do here. If your Kickstarter campaign does not reach its goal – will you create another campaign or try to find another way to fund your project?
BT: If this campaign doesn't work, we have a back up plan.  We've hired a farm on the East coast where we intend to meet up and all digest a lovely cocktail of poison and paracitimols, washed down with a nice Herbal Twinings Tea.
TTD: You mention, briefly, the possibility of adding two more episodes (I imagine this is part of your stretch goals). Do you have those two episodes mapped out yet? Would they occur after Dead and Breakfast or before The Aristocrats?
BT: We may top and tail the episodes by having one set in the 1940's and one set in the 2010's. Or we may just not bother and fill out the episodes we already have with filler.  You can never have enough walking shots in a script, a cut away of a flower or bloodied axe.  The possibilities are endless.
TTD: Do you foresee any significant differences between the filming of this series and the filming you’ve done for your YouTube content?
BT: We shall apply our usual strategy which is if you can't plan it well.  Simply throw money at the problem.  The web-series is going to be next level. The money will give us time to rehearse, refine and reward.
TTD: For people who are new to your content, what three videos from your YouTube channel would you suggest to get them started?
BT: The Tooth of Freddie Mercury from Drew, Bodies from Dave and Guess Who from Ben.  But I would say the 24 hour shorts are a great starting point if you want to get started on "The Toast".  

To show our faith in this web series, Trust the Dice has donated a small amount to Tales from the Edge.

Lowest Fund Reward: $1 – Bear Minimum, Fam – The bare minimum, or Bear minimum if you are from Peckham or a Bear. The size of the donation isn’t what counts, it’s what we do with it. Every $1 you give will go towards a part of production that we’d be a pound short for if you hadn’t donated. Mainly this will go on coffee, cigarettes, and renting the James Bond stage at Pinewood.
Highest Fund Reward: $10,503 – Nearly There Person – Because of you, we’re nearly there! We’ll shout you out every week as ‘almost there man/woman’ and you’ll be a part of the team basically, you can come to set, even be in it, we may even give you a line… but you don’t get any creative control of course, that’s just for us and you have to bring your own cigarettes & coffee to set.