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.

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.

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

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.

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


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!