Friday, March 17, 2017

Dealer (2014) - Foreign Film Friday

Number Rolled: 98
Movie Name/Year: Dealer (2014)
Tagline: Welcome to Cocoland.
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Length: 74 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Multipass Prod, mad Films-Mi
Producer: Dan Bronchinson, Jean Mach
Director: Jean Luc Herbulot
Writer: Samy Baaroun, Jean Luc Herbulot
Actors: Dan Bronchinson, Elsa Madeleine, Salem Kali, Bruno Henry, Herve Babadi, Dimitri Storoge, Fatima Adoum, Didier Merigou, Maia Bonami, Tchewk Essafi, Sylvie Molinari, Lele Matelo, Sebastian Barrio, Yoni Nahum, Emmanuel Bonami, Franck Boss, Destin Lenord
Stunt Coordinator: Alain Figlarz

Speech Available: French
Subtitles Available: French, English

Blurb from Netflix: A small-time drug dealer hopes one last big score will send him toward a new life, but the next 24 hours will propel him on a dark and terrifying path.

Selina’s Point of View:
This was another film where the subtitles didn’t always match up to the dialogue of the film. That’s a huge problem because Dealer is VERY dialogue intensive. In fact, there was so much dialogue that it was impossible at some points to actually watch the film itself. When I could watch the visuals, there was so much torture porn that it didn’t sit well with me.

Now, I have seen plenty of torture-y films in the past. I’ve LIKED plenty of them. But there was something so disturbing about this one that it was hard for me to stomach. It was all essential to the plot, so that had nothing to do with it. There was minimal eye stuff as well. I don’t know why I was so disturbed by what I saw. I guess that kind of thing just happens sometimes.

The movie itself didn’t really sit well with me, though. I enjoyed some of the characters and the acting was good, but I found the plot incredibly predictable.

Dealer tried to do something different with an old and well-known recipe, but different isn’t always good. We all love to see something original that keeps us on our toes… but a sardine milkshake is original, too, and likely on the gross side.

The creators of this film tried and I must commend them on the attempt to give a fresh directing take on something we’ve all seen a hundred times. Unfortunately, instead of making the film feel fresh and new – it turned Dealer into something barely watchable and difficult to sit through. It was only seventy minutes and I feel like I’ve been watching it for three hours.

Definitely not my thing.

Cat’s Point of View:
Ugh. That is pretty much how I can sum up my reaction to this movie.

To be fair to the film, let me break that down a bit. I’ll start with the bad news.

The movie was on the frenetic side. The subtitles went way too fast. I don’t have any grasp of French beyond a handful of words and Dealer used few of them. I had to rewind a few times to catch dialogue I’d missed because of this insane pacing – and then there were blips of text that had to have been visible for only a few frames total; making it damn near impossible to read even when rewound.

They tried to get too artsy with it. While some of the shots were a visual feast – it just seemed to be done for the hell of it. If there was any meaning to it, it was some sort of symbolism that was just too far-reaching for this movie. There are a few scenes that do some frantic panning around where there are people with faces blurred out in horrible large pixels. Did they go out and film real drug dealers to give the film ‘authenticity’? Was it that they wanted you to think that they had, even if they were paid extras on a closed set? If this were a documentary, I’d run with it – but it wasn’t.

Then there’s all the ‘grit’ added in general. It’s obvious throughout the movie that they’re doing the old-fashioned movie-reel experience as explained in Fight Club (1999) with the little symbols that appear for a frame or so. There might have even been a few random unrelated frames inserted here or there – I could swear I caught flashes.

There was too much torture-factor in this one for me. I mean, seriously, on the level of Saw (2003) or Hostel (2005). I’ve seen far worse gore in horror movies, but there was something about some of the brutality in this movie that just had me wincing and wanting to look away.

The bright spot here was the performance by Dan Brochinson (Brigade Navarro, Show Buzz, Alien Grounds). Even against my will, I was on this ride with him and I empathized with him. Hell, I was even rooting for the poor bastard.

Would I watch this again? No way.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 43%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 2.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score1/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 1.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score1.5/5

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R (Not recommended for children of any age)

P.S. According to remarks made by the lead actor of this film during a film festival, the majority of Dealer is based on real-life events.

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Knowing (2009)

Number Rolled: 87
Movie Name/Year: Knowing (2009)
Tagline: Knowing is everything…
Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller, Mystery
Length: 122 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: Summit Entertainment, Escape Artists, Mystery Clock Cinema, Goldcrest Pictures, Kaplan / Perrone Entertainment, Wintergreen Productions
Producer: Todd Black, David J. Bloomfield, Jason Blumenthal, Topher Dow, Norman Golightly, Stephen Jones, Aaron Kaplan, Ryne Douglas Pearson, Sean Perrone, Alex Proyas, Steve Tisch
Director: Alex Proyas
Writer: Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden, Stiles White
Actors: Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne, Lara Robinson, D.G. Maloney, Nadia Townsend, Alan Hopgood, Adrienne Pickering, Joshua Long, Danielle Carter, Alethea McGrath, David Lennie, Ben Mendelsohn, Gareth Yuen, Liam Hemsworth
Stunt Doubles: Eddie Yansick

Speech Available: English, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish
Subtitles Available: English, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish

Blurb from Netflix: An MIT astrophysics professor and his son unearth a string of numbers from a time capsule that seem to reveal a cataclysm that will wipe out humanity.

Selina’s Point of View:
I had some knowledge of this film before I saw it. I had seen bits and pieces of the ending, but I saw it out of context so I can’t really say I was spoiled. Never-the-less, it was enough information for me to be able to suss out the ending pretty quickly. I will say that if I hadn’t seen those minor spoilers, I wouldn’t have been able to predict much at all.

Knowing had a really interesting premise, but that wasn’t the part I enjoyed the most. I rather enjoyed the execution of the plot. I mean, plenty of films have the same basic premise, but this one puts a spin on it that I rarely see.

I’m not surprised by the bad reviews that I’ve read about this film, however. The films that take the route Knowing took tend to get pretty rough reviews. It doesn’t matter who’s in the cast, how well they do, who the director is, or anything else; critics hate this kind of film. It’s unfortunate. Because films like this leave you guessing and kind of take the safety of tropes away from the audience. Due to the films being labelled ‘unpredictable’, instead of being judged on their own merits, they’re described as Shymalanesk and shrugged off.

That’s what I saw people say about this film. Quite frankly, I do not believe it felt like an M. Night Shyamalan (The Village, Devil, Lady in the Water) film. There was a twist, yes, but not one that was out of the realm of possibility. It wasn’t from far over in left field, there was ample fore-shadowing. If I had been more interested in guessing what came next than letting myself get engulfed in the film, I probably would have figured it out.

Aside from that, there were a lot of biblical references. None that I can really bring up by name without ruining the film, however. Personally, I liked the film’s basic interpretation of those references. I understood what they were talking about, but didn’t feel slapped in the face by them.

I wasn’t completely impressed with the acting. Most of it was good, but there were parts that left me wanting. I feel like it wasn’t entirely the cast’s fault, though. It’s tough making a grown-up film with kid actors. Sometimes they just don’t fully comprehend the content which makes it difficult for them to figure out what would be realistic acting in that situation.

When it comes down to it, even with the flaws, I enjoyed this film. I’d watch it again.

Cat’s Point of View:
Having already seen Nicholas Cage (The Wicker Man, Trespass, The Trust) in his future-predicting role in Next (2007), I wasn’t sure I was going to encounter anything new in this movie. There were some distinct differences, however, that set this movie apart from the film he worked on 2 years prior.

While the movie was somewhat predictable in places, I have to give it credit for being rather intense. There are some scenes that are just hard to watch. This is definitely not one to share with small children or anyone easily disturbed or distressed by graphic images. (Not the nudity kind.)

There are a handful of geeky Easter Eggs in the movie, though most of them would likely go over the average audience’s head. (I know they went right over mine – but I’m not into high math or astrophysics, either.) After you watch the movie, consider looking them up – looking back, I found them pretty neat.

There’s some shaky-cam in places that felt a bit jarring to me but it wasn’t anything that became a consistent problem.

For all that I thought I had things figured out – it’s possible that this movie could just surprise you like it did me.

I’d more than likely end up watching this again, and would recommend this one to Cage fans for sure. He’s actually pretty serious and not all loony in this one.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 34%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 42%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 2.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, March 13, 2017

Magic Mike (2012)

Number Rolled: 84
Movie Name/Year: Magic Mike (2012)
Tagline: Work all day. Work it all night.
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Length: 110 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Iron Horse Entertainment, Extension 765, St. Petersburg Clearwater Film Commission
Producer: Reid Carolin, Gregory Jacobs, Channing Tatum, Nick Wechsler
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Reid Carolin
Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Channing Tatum, Olivia Munn, Alex Pettyfer, James Martin Kelly, Cody Horn, Reid Carolin, George A. Sack, Micaela Johnson, Denise Vasi, Camryn Grimes, Kate Easton, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Kevin Nash, Gabriel Iglesias, Betsy Brandt, Mircea Monroe, Riley Keough, Maynard the Pig, Michael Roark
Stunt Doubles: Kyle McDuffie

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English

Blurb from Netflix: Veteran male stripper Magic Mike introduces a new dancer known as the Kid to the pleasures -- and perils -- of their profession.

Selina’s Point of View:
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this film, but I happen to enjoy Magic Mike. I mean, it’s not the deepest movie you’ll ever watch. If you took Save the Last Dance (2001) and Good Will Hunting (1997), mixed them together, removed the majority of their depth, and added a pinch of sexy absurd pointlessness – Magic Mike would pretty much be your product.

It’s kind of fun to see some shameless nudity geared toward those interested in men, also. I’ve seen plenty of films with female tits and ass prominently displayed. I happen to enjoy that stuff too, long as it fits the story and doesn’t turn into a ten-minute awkward out-of-place sex scene. (Clearly referencing BloodRayne [2005] there.)

My personal view on the film might have a little to do with the eye candy, but I also genuinely enjoy the characters and the story.

I do, however, also acknowledge that this is more of a guilty pleasure than a ‘must recommend to everyone I see’ kind of thing.

The thing is, I know Magic Mike doesn’t push any boundaries. It’s not going revolutionize filmmaking. No one’s going to look back at this film thirty years from now and call it a classic. You know what, though? It’s fucking entertaining.

Movies don’t always have to be deep. Sometimes it’s allowed to be about eye candy and a cute/mildly interesting story.

I’m not a critic. I don’t have to take into account the camera angels and the cinematography. Most of us in the audience don’t. So my final take from this film is that it amused the hell out of me and I enjoyed watching it. I’d recommend it to anyone who isn’t uptight about movies and feels like being entertained.

Cat’s Point of View:
I actually watched this movie for the first time when it came out in theaters. A group of us had a fun girl’s night of it. I’ve seen it multiple times since then – not generally all the way through, since I’m usually happening upon it by chance as it’s playing on one of the cable movie networks.

I’ll admit that I went into this movie thinking that it was going to be a fluff piece for the sake of earning the female moviegoer eye-candy dollar. It wasn’t really so much that I thought that Channing Tatum (The Eagle, Side Effects, The Hateful Eight) was incapable of helming a serious movie project – but with the subject matter, it was a bit hard to look at it any other way.

I am pleased to say that I was wrong.

This film had some layers within the plot and an actual story with substance. Truthfully, there’s supposedly only about 19 minutes of male exotic dancing in this movie. (Someone counted) With the film being not quite 2 hours long, that’s something.

I know, right? It was refreshingly surprising to me, too. Not that I’m going to complain about seeing Tatum, Joe Manganiello (One Tree Hill, Sabotage, Knight of Cups), Matt Bomer (Space Station 76, American Horror Story, The Nice Guys), and Alex Pettyfer (Beastly, In Time, Elvis & Nixon) gyrating in next to nothing. I will admit that I was shamelessly fangirling. Seriously, this was Manganiello fresh from his total-body transformation for his part as Alcide in True Blood (2008-2014).

I digress.

Before I get carried away extolling the praises of the cast, let’s take a look at the plot. I promise there was one. We’ve seen a few movies that have explored what women go through, to some extent, in the adult entertainment industry – namely films like Showgirls (1995) and Striptease (1996) and their ilk. We haven’t really seen anything from the opposite side of the scenario.

With the struggles that women face being taken seriously in society in general, one might even assume that guys would have it easy in this department. That’s not generally the case. This film takes a look at the struggle of the title character as he wants to expand his horizons beyond where his looks and dancing can take him. It’s also a story about friendships, and even a bit of legitimate romance.

There’s quite a bit of levity in the movie as well as exploring the darker side of this corner of the industry. I like the parallel’s drawn between Tatum and Pettyfer’s characters and how that plays out.

Of course, we can’t forget Matthew McConaughey (The Lincoln Lawyer, Interstellar, Kubo and the Two Strings) and his role in this film. There’s light and darkness with his character – and he even takes the stage to dance a bit. Unfortunately, one (or more) of the extras got a little over-excited and handsy during his performance and actually ripped his g-string. He worked it into his performance, though, and it fits right in with the movie.

I really enjoyed this movie. It exceeded my expectations; and while it might not be an Oscar contender, it was solid and I would definitely recommend it.

Alright, alright, alright.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 81%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 60%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 2/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 3.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

P.S. There’s a song sung by Matthew McConaughey near the end of the credits and some bits of the movie that play during the start.

Movie Trailer:

Sunday, March 12, 2017

This Week in Crowdfunding (3/12/17)

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 – Flicker

Crowdsource Platform: Indiegogo
Director: Alex Manzek
Writer: Susannah Martin, Daniel Kinney, Alex Manzek
Other Staff: Unknown
Amount Requested: $650
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $200 raised by 3 backers.
Type of Goal: Flexible

I was a little torn about this project.

I’ll be honest, if I thought there was something else in crowdfunding more worth mentioning, Flicker might not have made this list. There’s not a whole lot of information on the Indiegogo page and an attempt to reach someone working on this project was met with crickets.

It’s a shame really, because the trailer is intriguing. It does its job. It makes me want to know more. The problem is that the rest of the page doesn’t give me enough information to help satisfy an investor curiosity.

I can’t really suggest funding this TV pilot, though you may opt to after you see the trailer. Either way, I’d check back occasionally in case the creators opt to add more information.

Lowest Fund Reward: $10 – Our Deepest Gratitude – Any amount helps us get one step closer to making this show happen! – Items Included: Our sincere thanks.
Highest Fund Reward: $100 – Show Poster – Receive a printed copy of the show’s poster! – Items Included: Show poster, name in credits, BTS photo

4 – Evil Woman

Crowdsource Platform: Indiegogo
Director: Danny Turkiewicz
Writer: Unknown
Other Staff: Jonah Lazowski (Producer), Dylan Roast (Producer), Emily McNulty (Associate Producer)
Amount Requested: $7,000
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $2,040 raised by 8 backers.
Type of Goal: Flexible

There isn’t a huge amount of information on this project either, but there’s enough here for me to know that the creators have some really interesting comedic timing. That’s certainly important with the genre they’re working within – Dark Comedy.

Although there’s only a short blurb on what the film is about, it seems interesting. They’re also very specific and very clear about what they need the money for and how it will be utilized.

I wish we could have gotten a little taste of something about the film in the trailer that we don’t get from the rest of the Indiegogo page, but I still came away from it believing that the project has a significant chance of success if it were to get funded.

Lowest Fund Reward: $20 – You’re Just Trying to Help Out – You will receive a personalized hand written note from Danny Turkiewicz
Highest Fund Reward: $1,000 – Executive Producer – You will receive Executive Producer Credit, a personalized hand written letter from Danny Turkiewicz, a genuine smile from Danny the next time he sees you because he knows how much you donated, a private concert of Danny playing piano (must be able to travel to Los Angeles for private concert), and a romantic candlelight dinner with Ari Turkiewicz.

3 – Divided

Crowdsource Platform: Indiegogo
Director: Jessica Freund
Writer: Jessica Freund
Other Staff: Unknown
Amount Requested: $10,000
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $1,300 raised by 14 backers.
Type of Goal: Flexible

This student film covers a very serious and heart breaking subject.

I’ll be honest, I’ve seen many films that cover subjects like this: family’s separated by a war. In this case, it’s because of the Korean War. Culturally sensitive histories, such as what this film is based on, are very easy for people outside the culture to forget or turn their nose up at. Often, the horrors of those events can cause people to deny the truth or just kind of shrug it off as a one-time thing.

Clearly, humans just can’t stop killing each other because it’s never a one-time thing.

This film looks well thought out and well researched. The money being raised is for the usual things (such as filming equipment, casting, and post-production), but it’s also being used to ensure that the costumes and set designs are as historically accurate as possible.

When covering a sensitive history, the way this film intends to, accuracy is a key factor in whether the film succeeds or fails. The majority of viewers won’t notice that a style used in the film isn’t quite right, but there are plenty of people that will, even if it’s just the most minor thing, and use that information to trash an otherwise great film.

Divided is the second most ‘expensive’ project that I’m featuring on this week’s list, but the funds are definitely necessary. I think, if anything, that they may wind up needing more – depending on exactly where they’re filming and how long filming takes.

Either way, this project seems very worth a person’s time, energy, and money.

Lowest Fund Reward: $10 – Social Media Shoutout – With this $10 donation you will receive a shoutout on our social media platforms!
Highest Fund Reward: $1,250 – Executive Producer Package – With this $1,250 donation you will receive the VIP Package (signed copy of the script and personal thank you letter from director, signed DVD copy of the film from entire crew, signed poster from entire crew, digital download, and invite to the set), and an Executive Producer Credit in the film.

– Black Holes

Crowdsource Platform: Kickstarter
Director: David Nicolas, Laurent Nicolas
Writer: David Nicolas, Laurent Nicolas
Other Staff: Kevos Van Der Meiren (Producer, Co-Director), Lola Delon (Writer, Co-Producer, Actor, Soundtrack), Steve Little (Actor), William Fichtner (Actor), Conrad Vernon (Actor), Jon Amirkhan (Actor), Michael Tomasetti (Actor), Flying Lotus (Soundtrack), Sebastian (Soundtrack), Pepe Bradock (Soundtrack), Dennis Hamm (Soundtrack), Quentin Dupieux (Sound Design)
Amount Requested: $100,000
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $68,804 raised by 718 backers.
Type of Goal: All or Nothing

Above you will see the CGI Animated proof of concept for Black Holes.

I really have no reason to say anything negative about this project. The animation style is kind of kooky, but it definitely fits the plot. The entire thing is interesting and hilarious. The Kickstarter page is in depth and leaves very little to the imagination. Aside from that, the proof of concept is easily the best argument for people to donate money toward this project.

I had a hell of a time choosing between this project and The Other for this week’s number one spot. I flip-flopped between them several times before I scheduled this post and about twice after. Really, they probably should be tied, but we don’t do ties here.

It may not have the cultural importance of The Other, but it’s incredibly entertaining, well made, and just all-around awesome.

You can’t lose with this project. I can’t really expand on what the Kickstarter page covers, because it covers anything you could possibly want to know. I highly recommend you check it out and either donate or share.

Lowest Fund Reward: $5 – The Haggler’s Pack – For those who wish to participate but regret the almond latte they could have purchased with that sum. – Includes: Individual shout out from Black Holes’ Twitter account. Digital bundle w/ samples of storyboards, graphic research, etc.
Highest Fund Reward: $10,000 – The Geronimo Pack – This pack is best suited for true visionaries – Includes: Executive Producer credit on Season 1, take part in production meetings during development of Season 1, 4 tickets to any premiere + dinner with team, +Super-Fan-Pack

– The Other

Crowdsource Platform: Kickstarter
Director: Shilpi Roy
Writer: Brittani Noel
Other Staff: Brent Bailey (Actor), Anthony C. Kuhnz (Cinematographer), Leah McKendrick (Producer), Stacie Theon (Producer), Matt Marcy (Actor), Tammy Kaitz (Actor), Monte LaMonte (Actor), Zack Gold (Actor)
Amount Requested: $7,500
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $6,445 raised by 95 backers.
Type of Goal: All or Nothing

“So… what are you?”

Man, I’ve hated that question for my entire life. I’m not even the product of an interracial relationship, but I couldn’t get any straight forward answers about my roots until last year. I had family members telling me my dad was mostly Native American, others telling me that we were mostly Russian. For a long time, when I was a kid, people thought I was lying about my heritage because my answer always changed, but I was just repeating what one person or another in my family had told me. I swear, you’d think this would be the easiest question to answer, but it took me until I was 32 years old to finally get a straight and complete answer. Now I can say the majority of my background is Irish, but not everyone can eventually narrow it down to just one.

This project is not a documentary, but the viewpoint it delves into is a fascinating one. It takes a question that a lot of people find so super easy to answer and explains why it’s not the same for everyone. It doesn’t just go into how the main character relates to the rest of the world, but how she finds it difficult to relate to herself because of her multiracial identity.

The trailer is well made and it’s fascinating. Brittani Noel is incredibly well spoken and I have no doubt, just from what I’ve seen in the video and on the Kickstarter page, that she will do the subject justice.

I am almost certain that if this film reaches its goal it will be very successful at the festivals.

As our number one pick for this week, I’ve donated a small amount from Trust the Dice toward what we hope will be a fully funded, wonderful project.

Lowest Fund Reward: $1 – Join the “Others”! – Every dollar counts! Feel good knowing that you’re chipping in to make this film a reality. Good karma will be sent your way. You’ll also get access to exclusive updates on Kickstarter!

Highest Fund Reward: $2,000 – Executive Producer Credit – WOW, this makes you a massive part of “The Other” team! THANK YOU for believing in this & putting your skin in the game in a big way. You’ll receive official Executive Producer credit on IMDb and have the opportunity to witness various steps of the creative process, including access to the script, the opportunity to visit the set, and first looks at the rough cuts of the film. You and a guest will also be invited to our cast and crew screening as VIPs, and you’ll hopefully get to attend one of our festivals! (Note: travel and accommodations not included). Also includes a digital copy of the film, blooper reel, video thank you and personalized photo overlay.