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: