Film Review: Deadpool

by Gordon Elgart on February 12, 2016

The Mad Libs of comic book movies. This one’s for the fans.

Ryan Reynolds in costume as Deadpool. No feet. Apparently this is important.

Ryan Reynolds in costume as Deadpool. No feet. Apparently this is important.

The journey to theaters for Deadpool has been a long one. Ryan Reynolds played the titular character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine as a silent but deadly killer, which misses the entire thrust of the character. This character is a wisecracking, violent character known as “The Merc With a Mouth.”  After the utter failure of Green Lantern, a Deadpool movie with Ryan Reynolds seemed as far from reality as possible, but some test footage of a possible movie “leaked,” became a viral hit, and the movie was greenlit. Would this movie be the crass, irreverent, R-rated film that the fans want?

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Film Review: Zoolander 2

by Gordon Elgart on February 12, 2016

Yet another piece of evidence that comedy sequels don’t work.

Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson tell it like it is in Zoolander 2.

Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson telling it like it is in Zoolander 2.

Zoolander 2 (also seen in some advertising as 2oolander or Zoolander No. 2) starts with an exciting chase scene. Some mysterious figures on motorcycles are chasing a man in a hooded sweatshirt. They catch up to him in an alleyway, and riddle him with bullets. As he takes bullet after bullet in a shot that continues for 10-15 seconds, the audience goes from laughter to applause. Why? Because it’s Justin Bieber. That’s the comedic currency of this entire movie: celebrity cameos as punch lines.

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A modern romantic comedy with its heart and mind (and humor) in the right place.

50 Shades of Singledom

Fifty Shades of Singledom

It’s rare that I’m this nervous to write a film review! Perhaps it’s the fact that How to Be Single surpassed all my expectations. Or maybe its that I feel that by accidentally omitting any aspect that I loved about the film, I’d be doing the film a disservice. Maybe I’m nervous because I feel that my excitement for the film is a byproduct of being caught off guard by its hilarious yet sensitive handling of serious topics, and therefore maybe I’m overhyping it? The fact of the matter is that How to Be Single is one of the best romantic comedies in a long while, and does more than just continue the recent (wonderful) surge in female-led rated-R comedies. How to Be Single balances awkward conversational humor with crude humor exceptionally well and doesn’t let up even when its time for the story to enter ‘emotional climax’ mode, all the while sending strong messages about dating through adulthood.

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Sundance 2016-2

Spinning Platters continues its coverage of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, which ended last Saturday, Jan. 30th with its evening awards presentation (all the winners can be found here).

We’re highlighting 18 of the nearly 200 films shown at the Fest, so you can know what to look for in the coming year – and what to avoid – as many of these titles are purchased and widely distributed.

As a reminder, we are using our patented Viewing Priority Level (VPL) Guide to advise you accordingly:

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Film Review: Hail, Caesar!

by Chad Liffmann on February 5, 2016

A silly, subversive, colorful day in the life of a 1950s Hollywood studio fixer — as only the Coens can envision.

Channing Tatum the singing, dancing sailor.

Channing Tatum the singing, dancing sailor.

Expectations were high for Hail, Caesar! the new film from the modern great American filmmakers, Joel and Ethan Coen. Three years after their award-winning triple play of 2009’s A Serious Man, 2010’s True Grit, and 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis, the sparkling musical trailers for Hail, Caesar! began hitting the web, and suddenly Coen fever began spreading again. However, unlike the washed-out colors and quiet dramatic quality of the former titles, Hail, Caesar! seemed to promise bright colors, outlandish musical numbers, and an unbridled sense of fun. The question I found myself asking was — would Hail, Caesar! embrace the darkly comic bizarreness of early Coen films such as Raising Arizona and The Hudsucker Proxy, or the cynical chastisement of Hollywood in Barton Fink? Well, the answer is really ‘no’ to both. The most wonderful thing about Hail, Caesar! is that it has its own new brand of Coen humor, one of PG-13 lightweight, sarcastic and playful tones, but still filled to the brim with the filmmakers’ unparalleled attention to detail and love of subtle and not-so-subtle references.

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Zombie-slaying Bennet sisters worth cheering for. Zombies, not so much.

Victorian era badassery.

Victorian era badassery.

More influenced by 2005’s Pride & Prejudice starring Keira Knightley than the classic piece of literature by Jane Austen or the works of George A. Romero, Pride & Prejudice and Zombies, based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, is a mediocre popcorn flick. It’s not as campy or cheeky as I’d had hoped, nor as serious and emotional as it could be if it avoided being the former. Despite the PG-13 rating, there’s enough genre blending jokes and tame action to make the first hour an enjoyable piece of escapism. Unfortuantely, an apparent inability to conclude the story whilst providing a non-anticlimactic finish makes the last 30 min a bore — an uninspired CGI-filled bore. Yet PPZ can be taken in its entirety as a relative success. The failings don’t take away from what most folks will expect from a sci-fi period piece romance (not sure the appropriate genre?) based on a popular piece of spoof fiction.

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SF Sketchfest Review: Mortified (The Extra Dirty Version), 1/23/16 at Swedish American Hall

February 3, 2016

That Mortified has been selling out shows for the past decade shouldn’t surprise me. What should is that this year was my first time getting to find out why. It was Sketchfest 2016’s final weekend (Saturday, 1/23, to be exact), and while I had booked myself back-to-back shows for the evening, I wasn’t concerned since […]

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Film Feature: 2016 Sundance Film Festival Spotlights #1

February 3, 2016

Marking its closing with its annual awards ceremony, the 2016 Sundance Film Festival ended this past Saturday evening; you can see all the winners here. For the second year in a row, I braved the Park City cold, snow, and the ubiquitous Los Angeles UGG-wearing throngs to bring you spotlights of a fraction of the […]

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SF Sketchfest Review: Bring the Rock with Greg Behrendt and guests Dana Gould, Andy Kindler, Kate Micucci and Janet Varney, 1/23/16 at Swedish American Hall

February 2, 2016

Sketchfest is always fun. It’s even better, though, when I get to see Greg Behrendt, and most of all when it’s for Bring the Rock, as was the case for the final weekend of Sketchfest 2016 at Swedish American Hall. It’s even sweeter than usual, though, because it marks my fifth anniversary with Spinning Platters: […]

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SF Sketchfest Review: Hound Tall with Moshe Kasher at Stage Werx, 1/23/16

February 1, 2016

Hound Tall is one of my favorite podcasts, even if it can be hit or miss, I listen excitedly to every episode. The idea is an expert is there to discuss a topic and Moshe Kasher interviews them while three comedian guests do everything they can to get attention and create laughs. At its best it […]

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