Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Note From the Writers

A very significant person in Cat’s life has found herself in the ICU. Out of respect for her continued stressful situation, we have opted to take the week off and will return on Monday – either with Cat or with a guest writer.

We appreciate your patience during this difficult time, and we would like to request something of you.

Positivity exists in this world when people opt to put positivity into it. Right now, positivity is very important to us. At some point in the next few days, help someone. Hold a door open, help a neighbor unload their car, buy someone a cup of coffee… anything you are capable of.

When you offer positivity to someone their day gets better and they are more likely to be positive to someone else. There isn’t a whole lot we can do to help Cat at this moment, but we can try to make someone else's day better – and that still means a whole lot.

Thank you for being loyal readers of our blog, and thank you – in advance – for putting positivity out there.


Monday, September 18, 2017

No Post Today

Due to a family emergency, there will be no post today. The blog should return on Wednesday.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Firefly (2013) - Foreign Film Friday

Number Rolled: 70
Movie Name/Year: The Firefly (2013)
Tagline: None
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Length: 84 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production Companies: Producciones iAMredHam
Producer: Luisa Casas, Dimitry Elyashkevich, Ana Maria Hermida
Director: Ana Maria Hermida
Writer: Ana Maria Hermida
Actors: Carolina Guerra, Olga Segura, Manuel Jose Chaves, Luis Fernando Orozco, Alvaro Rodriguez, Pedro Luis Falla, Andres Aranburo, Maria Helena Doering, Maria Jose Romero, Nicolas Pena, Victor Alfonso Hermida Hermida
Stunt Doubles: None

Blurb from Netflix: After her estranged brother’s sudden death, young wife Lucia bonds with his fiancée, through their shared grief and finds herself falling in love.

Selina’s Point of View:
No thanks. Not my type of movie.

So much was exaggerated. I mean, five out of the first ten minutes of the film is in unnecessary slow-motion that makes it seem like one of the Telenovelas instead of a film. There were flashbacks within flashbacks as well. It was ridiculous.

I can deal with non-linear films, if they’re done well. This one wasn’t.

When I wasn’t rolling my eyes at the terrible interactions, I was bored out of my mind. This film was only 84 minutes and I feel like I’ve been watching it for three hours.

I don’t think cultural differences were the reason the film didn’t speak to me, I think it was just plain bad. And you guys know I’m the first to admit if I think there’s a culture shock factor.

I wouldn’t watch or recommend this film to anyone except maybe Telenovela fans.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’m a bit of a mixed bag after watching this movie.

Part of me is confused. Is this someone’s memoir? There’s a dedication in the credits that seems to lean my belief in that direction, but I have no idea. If that’s the case, though, it would help shore up some of the weak spots of this story.

Truth is quite often stranger than fiction.

Putting that aside, this was really oddly interesting to watch. While this was definitely a bit on the heavier end of drama – considering it dealt with tragedy and grief at the core of the story – it didn’t weigh me down the way I was afraid it would.

There was a lightness about some parts of the story that was surprising. I liked how some aspects of the story worked out, but the timing of events was just – off. I don’t know, that could very well just be me. The end was also highly predictable.

The good news, I guess, is that I didn’t hate it. I wouldn’t go far as to say that I enjoyed it – but the time spent watching didn’t feel onerous.

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

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.2/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating1/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 2.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ghost Team (2016)

Number Rolled: 81
Movie Name/Year: Ghost Team (2016)
Tagline: Paranormal investigation. No experience necessary.
Genre: Comedy
Length: 84 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: Tandem Pictures, Mott Street Pictures, East 2 West Entertainment, Preferred Content, Tale Films
Producer: Aleksey Ageyev, Tyler Ben-Amotz, Marc Bortz, Julie Christeas, Burr Dodd, Kenneth Filmer, Oliver Irving, Kevin Iwashina, Jeremy L Kotin, Jaime Marsanico, Clem McIntosh, Alex Sagalchik, Tagir Saydkhuhin, Schuyler Weiss, Ekaterina Yarotskaya
Director: Oliver Irving
Writer: Peter Warren, Oliver Irving
Actors: Jon Heder, David Krumholtz, Justin Long, Melonie Diaz, Amy Sedaris, Paul W. Downs, Tom Schiller, Joel Marsh Garland, Martin Barabas, Veronika Dash
Stunts: Seth Andrew Bridges, Drew Leary, Asa Liebmann, Brandon Alan Smith

Blurb from Netflix: With help from his best friend and a public-access psychic, a nerdy young man assembles his dream team of like-minded ghost hunters.

Selina’s Point of View:
I was expecting a relatively typical parody film, but this caught me by surprise. I wouldn’t actually categorize Ghost Team as a parody.

Sure, there were a few things they were making fun of, but this movie was a film with a real storyline and more than just a bunch of jokes thrown together. It was a comedy that stood on its own… and I really enjoyed it.

I’m generally not a fan of ghost hunter shows. This film made fun of those kinds of shows while still telling its own story. It was fun to laugh at the ridiculousness while still enjoying the entertainment aspect.

Jon Heder (Pickle and Peanut, The Tiger Hunter, Legend of Kung Fu Rabbit) was really good in his part. I’m not his biggest fan, but I believed him here. In the beginning, there was a scene that was meant to the exhibit the monotony of his life working at a copy store. I think that scene was very well done and was more successful than some entire movies can be. Oliver Irving (How to Be), the director, did a great job there as well.

I’m reeling a little. This is simply not the kind of film I expect to enjoy. I sat down ready to be disappointed, and I wasn’t. It did make my Top 20 for the month it came out, but it probably should have been higher on the list.

I’d recommend this film to comedy lovers. Don’t steer clear just because you think it’s a full-on parody. It’s not.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’ll be the first to admit that I tend to get a little skeptical at the outset with Jon Heder (When in Rome, Walt Before Mickey, Star vs. the Forces of Evil) projects. It’s partially lingering from Napoleon Dynamite (2004). I honestly don’t understand why that movie is so loved. It’s one of my least favorites of all time. We’re not talking about that hot mess, though. We’re talking about Ghost Team.

Point blank – I was really digging it. This was likely one of the least annoying roles that I’ve seen Heder in – live action, at least. (I absolutely adore some of his voice-over work.)

Also, they totally won cool points from me by involving my favorite paranormal investigation show team in the cast. Jason Hawes (Ghost Hunters Academy, Ghost Hunters International, Destination Truth) and Steve Gonsalves (Infanity, Ghost Hunters Academy, The World Within) were two of the core members comprising SyFy’s Ghost Hunters (2004-2016) at the time this movie was filmed.

I have long been fascinated with the paranormal, and have watched pretty much every episode of the Ghost Hunters series – including its spin-off shows. I’m sad that it’s no longer airing new episodes. All the same, it made this movie a little nostalgic for me as well as giving a giggle for poking at the paranormal television show genre. 

Thankfully, it stops shy of going full-on camp.

The good news is that you don’t really have to be a fan or even have watched any paranormal reality television to understand what’s going on and enjoy this movie.

All told, this isn’t the most original movie ever, and there are a few things a bit over the top; but it’s generally forgivable. The characters feel like they have some substance to them (even if that substance is wackadoo). Then, of course, you have exceptional performances sprinkled through – one of which is by Justin Long (Idiocracy, Drag Me to Hell, Planet 51).

This film might not have your standard horror movie gore or nudity, but it does have a few elements such as language and innuendo that might give parents of young children pause. I’d gladly recommend this movie to fans of the genre and anyone just in the mood for a few good laughs.

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English, French, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 11%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 33%
Metascore – 22/100
Metacritic User Score – 3.7/10
IMDB Score – 4.6/10

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

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

P.S. Short scene after the beginning of the credits.

Movie Trailer:

Monday, September 11, 2017

You Laugh But It’s True (2011)

Number Rolled: 1
Movie Name/Year: You Laugh But It’s True (2011)
Tagline: A journey from the township to the stage.
Genre: Documentary, Biography, Comedy
Length: 83 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Day 1 Films
Producer: Kyle Ambrose, Anthony Anderson, Delon Bakker, Adam Glass, Rabin Harduth, Kagiso Lediga, David Paul Meyer, Michael Mills
Director: David Paul Meyer
Writer: N/A
Actors: Trevor Noah, Loyiso Gola, Rabin Harduth, Kagiso Lediga, David Newton
Stunts: Matt Allmen

Blurb from Netflix: Fledgling South American funnyman Trevor Noah pushes through an avalanche of doubts and fears while preparing for his first-ever one-man comedy show.

Selina’s Point of View:
When I added this film to the list, I really thought it was a stand-up comedy special. I was caught a little off-guard when I found out this was actually a documentary.

We recently made the decision to add documentaries to our list, but this was added well before that.

I’m a fan of Trevor Noah (Afraid of the Dark, Pay Back the Funny, It’s My Culture) as the head of the Daily Show, but this doc was from years before anyone even knew Jon Stewart (Evan Almighty, Death to Smoochy, The Faculty) was retiring. At the point when this film was made, I’d never even heard of Trevor Noah. I probably couldn’t have named any South African comedians.

I’m not the biggest fan of documentaries in general, but I was absolutely fascinated by this one. It followed Noah through his journey toward his first one-man show, but it also went into his life in South Africa and the South African culture in general.

I didn’t feel like I was sitting in history class waiting for the teacher to stop droning on – which is how documentaries can sometimes make me feel. I felt like I wanted to know what was going on. I wanted to understand him. If anything, I believe this film may have heightened my appreciation of Noah in general, and not just as a comedian.

One of the things I loved most about this doc is that it showed points of view from various sides. They didn’t just show how Noah felt and why he was doing it, they also had negative commentary from other comedians. As a result, I got a greater feel for the entire picture and not just one side of things.

I would easily recommend this documentary to anyone that’s a fan of Trevor Noah, wants to know more about him, or has an interest in comedy and South African culture.

Cat’s Point of View:
This wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be. You Laugh But It’s True isn’t a comedy special like the last Trevor Noah (The Daily Show, Mad Buddies, Taka Takata) show we watched. This wasn’t exactly like the other comedy special we’ve reviewed that was part documentary, either. This was fairly straight-up documentary. There are a few bits here and there featuring Noah’s stand-up act – but it’s far less of the screen time than I would have preferred.

I’ll be honest that my enjoyment factor for this sort of thing is currently hampered by the underlying worry I’m experiencing for my family and friends in Florida as Hurricane Irma chugs its way through the peninsula. Partially, I’m a bit disappointed that this wasn’t a full-out comedy show. A little levity would help right now to take my mind off of the things I can’t control. I am seriously craving some escapism.

Learning about Noah’s life and background was interesting. I did learn some things about the South African apartheid situation that I hadn’t known before. I enjoy learning about other cultures. The timing was just off for me here.

The thing is, I’m not sure I would have felt differently if I watched this under ideal circumstances. The bottom line, though, is that aside from a few laughs here and there, I wasn’t all that entertained. Anyone looking to learn more about comedy acts in South Africa and wanting to gain a little cultural perspective might get a bit more out of it.

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

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 79%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 7.2/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating2.5/5

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

Movie Trailer:

Saturday, September 9, 2017

But I Digress... Inspirational Interlude

By Cat

First Harvey, now Irma. These destructive weather patterns seem to have a homing beacon to put my family and friends right in their crosshairs. Nerve-wracking is the understatement of the century. I know that I’m not alone and my plight of simply being hundreds and hundreds of miles away from being able to help is not unique. Both of us here at Trust the Dice have loved ones in Florida right now as this terror of a hurricane is working its way in that direction.

I don’t mention this to dwell on the fact or further sensationalize it – nor is it passing any sort of judgement on those that are not joining the clogged interstates in a bid to flee. None of that.

What I want to focus on today is giving you a second part in what seems to be becoming a series focusing on hope and inspiration. Last week was hope – this week is the latter.  (Though, I suppose my title gave that away!)

We all need some positive vibes right now. We cannot let ourselves get flushed in the vortex of the cloud-spin. (This is what I have to repeat to myself so that I don’t keep the Weather Channel on the TV 24/7.) With that in mind, I bring you 5 movies to inspire you (and hopefully not tread on your feels too much in the process).

5) *batteries not included (1987)

Viewing Options: Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu, Youtube Movies (purchase)
Director: Matthew Robbins
Actors: Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Frank McRae, Elizabeth Peña, Michael Carmine, Dennis Boutsikaris, Tom Aldredge, Jane Hoffman
Genre: Fantasy, Family, Science fiction, Comedy
Rated: PG
Length: 106 Minutes
More Information Here. 

IMDb Blurb: Apartment block tenants seek the aid of alien mechanical life-forms to save their building from demolition.

This has to be one of my favorite movies of all time. It runs you through a gauntlet of the full spectrum of human emotion (unless you’re an unfeeling rock – seriously). There’s comedy, romance, sci-fi, feats of the fantastical, tragedy, drama, action – you name it! I will admit that I had tears in a few places, but those little mechanical aliens are just so darn cute!

This movie was powerful enough to make an impact that resonated all the way into Saturday morning cartoons, where the Muppet Babies (1984-1991) used a diner scene from the movie in one of the imaginative adventures of the muppet toddlers.

This story was originally set to become a part of Amazing Stories (1985-1987), which was a TV series developed by Steven Spielberg. He thought it was so fantastic that he pushed to turn it into its own feature film, where he continued to support the film as one of its Executive Producers. Pair his genius with the movie score by the late James Horner (1953–2015) and you have movie gold.

How does it fit in with this theme? Simple. Hope, faith, The Golden Rule, and perseverance. The residents of the apartment block don’t really have any other choice (or desire) to relocate in the face of big business wanting to bulldoze it for “progress.” They stand their ground in the face of impossible odds and their hope is rewarded with assistance from the most unlikely of places –outer space. It’s not all that one-sided, though. It’s because of their own basic human decency and treating the little adorable flying saucer people well (we won’t count the hamburger incident) that the little guys are able to lend a hand as a thank-you.

4) Peaceful Warrior (2006)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu, YouTube Movies (purchase)
Director: Victor Salva
Actors: Nick Nolte, Scott Mechlowicz, Amy Smart, Tim DeKay, Paul Wesley, Ashton Holmes, Agnes Bruckner, B.J. Britt
Genre: Drama, Sports
Rated: PG-13
Length: 121 Minutes
More Information Here. 

IMDb Blurb: A chance encounter with a stranger changes the life of a college gymnast. 

This is the one movie on today’s list that I haven’t already seen. I actually stumbled across it recently out of curiosity when I saw the lead actor was in it. After looking into it a bit, watching the trailers, and reading some reviews; I am confident in listing this here.

It very well might fit the recipe of most sport movies – and even those based on true stories, as this one is. That’s not the point, though.

I think we all need reminders every once in a while that life sucks sometimes and we can’t change things that have already happened to us. What we can do is find the strength and courage to pick ourselves up and put things together again, even if things can’t be the same as they were before. We can still strive to exceed expectations – but not just that of others, but our own.

Everyone in the path of any of the horrible storms that have plagued our coastlines, and even those caught in the devastation of fires raging elsewhere in the country, or even the major earthquake in Mexico – everyone – will have a rebuilding and healing process in the coming months and years.

The more positivity and inspiration out there in the world right now, the better; I say.

3) The Spitfire Grill (1996)

Viewing Options: Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu,
Director: Lee David Zlotoff
Actors: Alison Elliott, Ellen Burstyn, Marcia Gay Harden, Will Patton, Kieran Mulroney, Gailard Sartain, Louise De Cormier, John M. Jackson
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13
Length: 116 Minutes
More Information Here. 

IMDb Blurb: Percy, upon being released from prison, goes to the small town of Gillead, to find a place where she can start over again. She is taken in by Hannah, to help out at her place, the Spitfire Grill. Percy brings change to the small town, stirring resentment and fear in some, and growth in others.

It has been a very long time since I’ve seen this film, but I remember it fondly. It was one of the movies that came to mind as I was trying to think of those that fit the themes of rebuilding your life, starting over, and a sense of community.

It’s not all sunshine and roses on the community front – but that’s how everywhere is. There are some people that are yapping about the disasters everywhere being some sort of cosmic or theological punishment and all sorts of crazy talk. Sadly, it’s part of the human condition for some people to be susceptible to believing such things.

What counts is how the members of the community that DO rally around the main character interact and how they protect her quest for a second chance and new beginnings.

2) The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain (1995) 

Viewing Options: Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu, YouTube Movies (purchase)
Director: Christopher Monger
Actors: Hugh Grant, Tara Fitzgerald, Colm Meaney, Ian McNeice, Ian Hart, Kenneth Griffith, Tudor Vaughn, Hugh Vaughn
Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy
Rated: PG
Length: 99 Minutes
More Information Here. 

IMDb Blurb: When an English cartographer must tell a Welsh village that their mountain is only a hill, the offended community sets out to change that. 

I had to throw some levity in here. There are comedic elements in other movies listed here, but they’re mostly stacked on the heavier side of things. This film is a fun romp where an entire Welsh community comes together to do something about what should have been otherwise impossible to change.

There are some crazy shenanigans hatched as the village strives to build their mountain out of a hill.

The key thing here is community working together to better their village – regardless of their individual motivations. It’s funny, it has heart, and a great underlying message.

1) Pay It Forward (2000)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu, YouTube Movies (purchase)
Director: Mimi Leder
Actors: Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment, Jay Mohr, Jim Caviezel, Jon Bon Jovi, Angie Dickinson, David Ramsey
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13
Length: 122 Minutes
More Information Here. 

IMDb Blurb: A young boy attempts to make the world a better place after his teacher gives him that chance.

OK. I was really on the fence about listing this movie, and, in my decision to do so, I felt it was necessary to ‘go big or go home’ by listing it as the #1 entry.

Here’s why. I hate the ending. I can’t think of anyone I’ve ever talked to that has seen this movie that has ever liked the ending. Hated it. It’s an unnecessary punch to the most sensitive of feels.

This is my disclaimer. I already warned you before about spoilers – but this is different. If you watch this, prepare for your soul to feel trampled on.

Even with my dire warning, and the inevitability of the scenes that immediately precede the credits, this is an absolutely outstanding movie. The concept of turning good deeds into the best pyramid scheme on the planet is phenomenal. It’s a concept more people should embrace. Be kind to one another. Treat other human beings with respect regardless of your differences. Help those in need if you are able – and it will spread outward in ripples that will make the world better.

After all the disasters and devastation, this is the sort of message and vibe I want to put out into the world. It’s the sort of impetus that had strangers hauling boats into flooded areas to help evacuate people from harm’s way. 

Tell someone you care about that you love them today.  The first ripples are small, after all.

But I Digress... is a weekly column for that can't be pinned down to just one thing. It's Cat's 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, September 8, 2017

We Are the Best! (2013) - Foreign Film Friday

Number Rolled: 9
Movie Name/Year: We Are the Best! (2013)
Tagline: Three girls vs. the world.
Genre: Drama, Music
Length: 102 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Film i Vast, Memfis Film
Producer: Anna Anthony, Jessica Ask, Serina Bjornbom, Marie Gade Denessen, Lars Jonsson, Christian Wikander
Director: Lukas Moodysson
Writer: Lukas Moodysson, Coco Moodysson
Actors: Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne, Johan Liljemark, Mattias Wiberg, Jonathan Salomonsson, Alvin Strollo, Anna Rydgren, Peter Eriksson, Charlie Falk, Ann-Sofie Rase
Stunts: Kimmo Rajala

Blurb from Netflix: Refusing to believe punk is dead, a trio of 13-year-old misfits form a band in spite of their collective lack of musicianship.

Selina’s Point of View:
First of all, punk’s not dead. It’s just yelling at you to get off its lawn.

That said… as much as I enjoy glimpses into the punk lifestyle of other cultures, this movie was not for me. I can’t really say there was anything wrong with it… it just didn’t capture or hold my interest. At all. However, it was more of a personal thing.

I lost any desire to watch about fifteen minutes in, and never really got it back again.

The actors were good, especially for children. However, the story was pretty basic and there didn’t seem to be enough to make it stand apart from others like it.

There were a few scenes, here and there, that were amusing. Either they made me smile slightly or cringe expertly… but they didn’t come along as often as I would have liked.

The ending was kind of nice, but I still wouldn’t watch it again.

Cat’s Point of View:
I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I didn’t really have any preconceived notions going in – I just hoped that it would be less about tween angst and more focus on, well, anything else. Seriously. My daughter just turned 14 and the struggle is real.

Thankfully, the film delivered something really special – in spades.

Not only was this a great movie about young friendship with a liberal dash of comedy – it was also a film about musical diversity and self-discovery. There were so many awesome things going on here.

There was a point where I was afraid that things were going to take a very dark turn, but I was relieved to find that they chose a different path with the story.

This somewhat felt like the tween Swedish version of SLC Punk! (1998). They obviously weren’t trying to retell that particular tale – it just had the same sort of vibe to it that worked well and made it enjoyable in spite of the occasionally uncomfortable moments.

All said, if there was a sequel to this film; I’d definitely want to see it. This won’t be for everyone, but I found it highly entertaining.

Speech Available: Swedish
Subtitles Available: English

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 97%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 78%
Metascore - 87/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.6/10
IMDB Score – 7.2/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5

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

P.S.  Some scenes during the credits.

Movie Trailer: