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At some point this weekend, you are going to prop down on a seat and think to yourself, “You know what would go great with this sandwich? A movie!” But you don’t want to go all the way to your local multiplex- far too much hassle. Why not save 90% of what you’d pay on tickets and simply use Netflix or drive to a Redbox machine? Much better. And cheaper.
Here then, are a few Red Box and Netflix suggestions to make this whole process even easier, you lazy bastard.
Date Night Compromise: 50/50
Where do I find it: Redbox (As of Jan. 24)
Key Names: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception, 500 Days of Summer), Seth Rogen (Knocked Up, Pineapple Express), Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air, and a vampire series that will not be named).
Rundown: I was sort of surprised that this film wasn’t one of the ten Oscar nominees for Best Picture of the year. Finding comedy in cancer is challenging in and of itself, but the performances (specifically Levitt and Rogen) are what make it memorable. Sure, Rogen is pretty much playing himself (must have been challenging, he never does that), but it’s the right approach and leads to quite a few laughs when contrasted with Levitt’s character, a more serious, Type-A guy.
Ultimately, what might make this one of Rogen’s defining roles when we look back ten years from now, is the originality of the premise. Sure, there have been films that deal with cancer in the past, but how many did it through the eyes of someone in their mid-20s, something that happened to Rogen’s screenwriting friend, Will Reiser.
Reiser: “We initially thought of doing a parody of The Bucket List that we would call The Fuck It List.”
Rogen: “Instead of them going to like India and racing Mustangs they would, like, try heroin and, like, go to Thailand and kill someone, or some shit. Play Russian Roulette or something. A real fucked up version of The Bucket List.”
(From an interview with the NY Times Arts and Leisure Weekend.)
Stoner comedy: 30 Minutes or Less
Where do I find it: Redbox, Netflix (but not online)
Key names: Jesse Eisenberg (Social Network, Zombieland) Danny McBride (Eastbound and Down, Pineapple Express), Aziz Ansari (Parks and Recreation, Funny People), Nick Swardson (Grandma’s Boy)
Rundown: Some people are funny no matter what the situation. Aziz Ansari is distinctly one of these types of people, and given the downright ridiculousness of the premise writer Michael Diliberti came up with, Ansari hit this one out of the park as Eisenberg’s best friend. Much like in Parks and Rec., Ansari manages the funniest moment in just about every scene he’s scene in.
While loopholes in the plot abound, Eisenberg held his own in the starring role, getting away from the role so many of us associate him with (as Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, which was incidentally actually filmed after 30 Minutes or Less, but spent a hell of a lot less time in editing, apparently), instead playing a lowly Pizza boy with the unfortunate luck of stumbling into the life of two idiot friends played by Danny McBride and Nick Swardson.
McBride managed at least half a dozen solid laughs, battling through the sometimes impossible to ignore absence of logic at certain points within the plot. Sadly, nothing in the filmed topped his epic “you just got killed by a daewoo lanos…mother fucker!” Still, he and Swardson made a great pair of criminal…(what’s the opposite of masterminds…) and more than once Swardson successfully brought the audience to a collective cringe in his own endearingly creepy way, which is really what he does best.
A group of established funny people starring in a movie with a decent (albeit loophole-laden) plot? For it!
And finally, with it being award season and the Oscars just a month away (Feb. 26), we at NYFWC decided to add a temporary to new feature to Films Fridays called Oscar Watch. (It’s a feature, within another feature, disguised as another feature!) Now that the nominees have been announced, every week we’ll look at a film or two up for one of the more important Academy Awards (Best film, actor/actress, or director).
As always, there were a handful of legitimately baffling snubs. Considering the year he had, Gosling, a.k.a Steve McQueen the sequel, was again not nominated for Best Actor.
With the Academy, you always get hipster-levels of pretentiousness. The, “I don’t like it if EVERYONE likes it” attitude tends to be a recurring subplot. Don’t get me wrong, I was as happy as anyone when they pissed all over James Cameron and repeatedly chose “Hurt Locker” over “Avatar.” This time though, the snubs make less sense.
I can see Gosling’s “golden boy” status working against him, but you do have to wonder how “We Need to Talk About Kevin” was left out as were its leading lady (Tilda Swinton) and director (Lynne Ramsay). Same goes for “Shame” lead Michael Fassbender.
Similarly, shouldn’t have “50/50″ at least been up for the screenwriting award? Shouldn’t have the Harry Potter finale gotten some, ANY, love?
And to make matters worse, you have the overtly sentimental, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” nominated for Best Picture. Wrap your head around that one.
That aside, you never want to be the person that has nothing to say about the Oscars- it just makes you look like you only watch Kevin James movies. So, if you haven’t had a chance to see them, why not watch a few this month? We are. So on that note…
The strong Oscar candidate: The Descendants
Where do I find it: Unless you have a friend that happens to be a SAG member, you still have to cough up a few bucks to see it in theaters.
Key Names: George Clooney, and unless you spend a lot of time on IMDB, you probably won’t recognize many of the other names.
Why you should: This is one of the films in Triple Crown contention (Nominated for Best Film, Director, and Actor) and it’s easy to see why. Clooney perfectly captures the inner crumbling and exterior strength of a man whose world continues to fall apart around him. With megastars like Clooney, it’s difficult to temporarily forget they are who they are in films, but you find yourself getting lost in his character. The loose Tommy Bahama shirts certainly help. Well, “help” definitely isn’t the right word, but you get the point.
With this and the “Ides of March,” in 2011, Clooney has definitely gotten better at picking his roles. Now, after winning two of the biggest Golden Globe awards (Leading actor and best picture), “The Descendants” could very well get Clooney his first Leading Actor Academy Award.
- By Thomas Johnson @tjohnsonwriter
Check back every Friday for Redbox/Netflix film suggestions.
Welcome to Not Your Father’s Water Cooler!
You know those mind-numbing water cooler discussions about weather, pets and weekend activities? That soul-crushing small talk would be far less demoralizing if it included something you actually cared about.
Founded by two hoops addicts, NYFWC brings you the kind of water cooler chatter we dreamed of: a dialogue centered on hypothetical trades, basketball debates and of course, humor.
You'll also notice that from time to time we touch on other subjects. Whether it's films, music or pop culture, at NYFWC our goal is not merely to regurgitate information that is already flooding the tubes. Instead, we hope to provide thoughtful individual perspectives on the most important, interesting and entertaining topics of the day.