Author Archives: Mitch Hansch
The 27 year old NYC wannabe dancer named Frances (Greta Gerwig) is best summed up when a loose acquaintance compares her to her roommate Sophie (Mickey Sumner).
“You seem older but less grown up.”
In Frances Ha, the title character, Frances, is flailing her way out of youth, and as the kids say, is being one hot mess about it. Boys, money, and career choices are not her strong suit, always being prone to the irresponsible and just basically not being able to see/plan more than two steps ahead. When Frances’ BFF/roommate Sophie gets the chance to move out of Brooklyn (of course) and into Tribeca, that doesn’t fit into Frances’ budget. Sophie also has a serious bo’ and as besties do- the two start to drift apart, which Frances is not ready for.
Sounds like this could be the set up for a harsh affair, especially with Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Greenberg) as director, but Baumbach along with his script that he co-wrote with Gerwig make this the most upbeat and pleasant film of his career. The crisp black and white definitely adds to the film’s appeal and will no doubt draw comparisons to Woody Allen’s Manhattan. There is a silver lining of hope stapled throughout Frances’ awkwardness even when you want to smack (not literally of course) some sense into her.
Greta Gerwig has become that indie chick to me now- tall, not overly attractive, but nervously pretty, Gerwig has never been better than here in Frances Ha. A scene where the lovable Frances tries to pay for a nice dinner out by using her tax rebate, but has to feverishly find an ATM to pay for said dinner, and then is tormented over the $3 surcharge is showcased perfectly by Gerwig. Frances is a comedy that’s good for a Ha.
While Frances Ha is a pleasant uplifting film, it’s still not to the level of the greats that director Noah Baumbach obviously adores. Maybe a little down the road Baumbach can take the ambassadorship of quirky New York films away from Woody Allen, but not quite yet. There are French New Wave splashes here and there with a particular admiration for Francois Truffaut and that’s not really a complaint on my part, they’re just big french shoes for Baumbach to try to fill.
A feel good film for the lovable loser that lets Greta Gerwig shine.
Take a Drink: when Frances is called “undatable”.
Take a Drink: whenever Frances dances.
Do a Shot: whenever Frances moves into a new apartment.
I, and most of the rest of the world called shenanigans to the sequel of the wickedly funny and most box office successful Rated R comedy of all time that was nothing more than a mere carbon copy of the original. The sequel was such a bummer because with the illustrious Part II title instead of just calling it The Hangover 2, we knew they were most definitely gonna try to make this into a trilogy, and instantly all the steam was gone and after the ‘suckquel’ the best Part III could be labeled was redemptive.
Phillips and screenwriter Craig Mazin give us untied plot holes from the first film that we never realized were there in the first place. After an incident where the 40 year plus man-child Alan (Zach Galifianakis) gets a giraffe beheaded on the 405 freeway, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and the disposable Doug (Justin Bartha) take Alan on a road trip to Arizona to be dropped off at a rehab clinic. Before they can get there, poor Doug gets kidnapped after a west coast mobster named Marshall (John Goodman) hijacks the the four and gives them the ultimatum to track down Alan’s pen pal buddy, the even more insane Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), who’s responsible for stealing $21 million from Marshall.
I may not even classify this as a comedy but that’s not to say I didn’t laugh. A scene of Stu and Mr. Chow having to act like dogs while disarming house alarms had traces of the edgy humor from so long ago, and the money shot of Phil and Alan climbing down several tied white sheets as their dangling from the very tall Caesar’s Palace is effectively tense. Directly after that, a strobe-lit penthouse suite gives us just the tip of some of that daring audacity that Phillips is capable of.
Those laughs are the few and far between bright spots in a forcefully dark tone that is all too often vacant of dark laughs. Taking the high antics and raunchiness of the original and duplicating them almost step for step, but just in a different location was incredibly unimaginative, and it seems for The Hangover Part lll, director/writer Todd Phillips must have taken the criticism to heart. Completely getting away from the ‘night after’ concept, which I applaud, Phillips inadvertently also got away from making a comedy and his would-be epic conclusion is anything but.
Cooper looks like he’s on autopilot, Helms looks tired of waving his hands in the air frantically that he’s got himself in another situation, and Galifinakis at times looks like he’s going for Oscar gold trying to blend goof and drama but falls well short.
It’s almost as though Phillips apologizes for himself with an opening that rips a classic scene from The Shawshank Redemption, as if to say I won’t rip off my early material this time, but I will rip off others. It may have been a bold choice to go away from the first two films’ routine, but it still ended up the most boring of the three. Gone is the funny, and haphazardly a 2nd rate action-chase film replaces it.
Most to blame is Todd Phillips. Phillips wastes the ‘Wolfpack’ once again. It’s almost as if the letdown of the sequel made Phillips just try to get this one over with and collect a paycheck. There are moments of forced heart that include a horribly manufactured scene where Alan blunders trying to reconnect with the sunglasses-wearing baby from the original. Worst of all, is their limp re-entrance back to Las Vegas. This moment should be epic-ally grandiose and just plain awesome, but once again, it just passes us right by onscreen.
Sadly the funniest moment is of course in the credits, which gives us a taste of the pretty sweet debauchery that started the whole thing.
Overall, It’s hard to enjoy The Hangover without ever even getting a buzz.
Take a Drink: every time a fat comment is made about Alan.
Take a Drink: anytime a living creature dies.
Take a Drink: when Alan calls shotgun.
Down a Shot: whenever Alan fakes out on a handshake.
By: Mitch Hansch -
Jan Wolfhouse: [Barry picked up a woman] Are you sure you want to do this?
Barry Badrinath: Are you kidding? She’s hot as hell! I’m just lookin’ for a little slap n’ pickle.
Jan Wolfhouse: You’re drunk.
Barry Badrinath: Hey… I’m drunk, you’re drunk… everybody’s drunk!
(As always, there are spoilers if you read on)
Better than their previous effort in the horrid Club Dread, but nowhere near the amount of one-liners from their first film entry Super Troopers, the five man comedy troupe known as Broken Lizard drunkenly land somewhere in the middle with Beerfest. Beerfest is a movie best enjoyed when you’re viewing with your own set of beer goggles on. The story of a couple of brothers with the help of a few friends who must enter an Olympian-styled beer drinking competition to save the family name. Any film with a drinking movie montage deserves to be in the pantheon of Drunk Movie Moments Throughout History.
Release Date: 08/25/06
Interesting Fact: The shape of the final beer mug is in the shape of a big boot. Everybody refers to it as “Das Boot”, that means “the boat” in German. However, it also refers to the actor Jürgen Prochnow, famous for acting in the legendary German movie Das Boot.
Drunken Movie Moment: The whole movie is one big drunken moment but one in particular is when Jay Chandrasekhar’s annihilated Barry Badrinath believes he picks up a very attractive woman at the bar, but we learn through a filthy flashback sequence that that wasn’t the case.
By: Mitch Hansch -
Vic: You’re a weak man.
Tommy: Yeah, I know. That’s why I drink it straight. The ice cubes are too heavy.
(As always, there are spoilers if you read on)
In his directorial debut, Steve Buscemi’s Trees Lounge is a sad but funny character study into a barfly’s life. Buscemi plays lead Tommy, a 30-something who can’t get out of his own way and spends most of his time at the Trees Lounge bar after he “borrowed” $1500 from his boss and was fired. Trees Lounge is an indie’s indie with a plethora of small appearances from a talented cast that includes- Carol Kane, Anthony LaPaglia, Debi Mazar, Seymour Cassel, Michael Imperioli, Chloë Sevigny, Daniel Baldwin, Mimi Rogers, and Samuel L. Jackson.
MOVIE: Trees Lounge
Release Date: 10/11/96
Interesting Fact: David Chase used the same casting directors, Georgianne Walken and Sheila Jaffe, in The Sopranos after seeing this film. Michael Imperioli (Christopher Moltisanti), John Ventimiglia (Artie Bucco), Suzanne Shepherd (Mary De Angelis) and Elizabeth Bracco (Marie Spatafore) went on to appear in The Sopranos.
Drink of Choice: A shot of Wild Turkey and a beer.
Drunk Movie Moment: The day bartender of Trees Lounge offers Tommy $10 if he can just walk away from a freshly poured drink and go home. Tommy takes the $10 slams the shot and runs out of the bar.
By: Mitch Hansch -
Withnail: I must have some booze. I demand to have some booze!
(As always, there are spoilers if you read on)
Before there was The Big Lebowski there was Withnail & I. Highly rewatchable and even more quotable, Bruce Robinson’s 1987 cult classic serves as a darkly funny mirror into the drunk mind. Out of work actors Withnail (Richard E. Grant) and Marwood (Paul McGann) are poverty stricken but well-read drunks who, in need of a change of scenery, head to Withnail’s Uncle Monty’s (Richard Griffith’s) country cottage. Never far from alcohol obliteration or a nasty hangover, the two, especially Withnail, enlist in memorable antics, even if their characters can’t remember them the next day.
MOVIE: Withnail & I
Release Date: 1987
Interesting Fact: Although credited on screen only as “…and I”, Paul McGann’s character is named as “Marwood” in the script. It is widely believed that the character’s first name is Peter; although this is incorrect. This myth arose as the result of a misheard line of dialogue when Withnail and Marwood are enjoying drinks at Monty’s house. The only occasion Marwood’s name appears in the film is when it can be just be made out written upside down on the envelope he receives at Crow Crag.
Drink of Choice: Anything will do, but several shots of whiskey followed by a couple of pints is preferred. Lighter fluid in more desperate of times.
Drunk Movie Moment: Plenty to choose from, but I particularly enjoyed when Withnail is pulled over by the police for some incredible drunk driving. ” I’ve only had a couple of ales”, Withnail explains to no avail.
In the documentary Room 237 Rodney Ascher takes the in-depth pulse of five film historians, in particular their unique and sometimes kooky proposed conspiracy theories and observations on one of my top 5 horror films of all time. Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey Cocks, Juli Kearns, Jay Weidener, and John Fell Ryan don’t spend much time talking about the actual plot of The Shining, but rather the genius of Kubricks 200 IQ and the lengths he went to tell his own personal agenda.
Blakemore is convinced The Shining is an allegory for how the white man slaughtered the Native Americans, pointing out how Kubrick specially placed Indian logo Calumet baking powder cans. Nazi historian Geoffrey Cocks believes it’s all about the Holocaust, citing how the typewriter that Jack Torrence writes on is German made and changes colors in the middle of the film. Ryan points out some the better hidden tidbits, as in how the TV has no cord ( how come I never noticed that?) and the fact that Jack is reading a Playgirl magazine in the main lobby before he’s interviewed by Stuart Ullman’s hotel manager Barry Nelson.
The award for most out there conspiracy theory is a tie between Juli Kearns and Jay Weidener. Kearns gives us gold with mapping out of the motel, but her love for mythology stretches way too far when she points out a poster hung up in one of the rooms with a skier on that she is convinced is actually a Minotaur (I didn’t see it). Weidener tells us that The Shining is really just an apology for Kubrick filming the fake Apollo 11 moon landing. Yes its a bit odd that the moon is 237,000 miles from Earth, but Weidener loses me in his next breath when tries to dig deeper by telling us the key for room 237 is labeled ROOM No. 237 and that the letter R-O-O-M-N can only spell room and moon (not true- norm).
As someone who wrote over 100 film reviews last year, a documentary about any film classic would be tantalizing, but an obsessive study into Stanley Kubrick’s horror masterpiece, The Shining, is a cinephile’s paradise.
The fun of Room 237 is not picking and choosing which one of the five’s theories are correct but in the journey that a movie can take us on. How the beauty or the truth really is in the eye of the beholder.
The random Kubrick film footage along with staged theater goers spliced to transition from one theory to the next doesn’t do much to enhance this doc. It mostly just comes off as filler.
My biggest deterrent is that we never see the faces of the five, and after their names are initially announced, they’re never brought up on screen again, so I found myself often guessing who was who. Maybe Ascher did this to thicken the mystery, but really it just created confusion.
Room 237 is often fascinating and at times hilarious. It’s an interesting descent into the proposed mysteries behind Stanley Kubrick’s classic, The Shining.
Take a Drink: anytime says 237.
Take a Drink: whenever a scene is analyzed frame by frame.
Take a Drink: whenever footage is shown from a Stanley Kubrick film.
Do a Shot: for the Stuart Ullman penis joke
Olympus Has Fallen opens with lead presidential bodyguard Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) watching over the Commander in Chief Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart), the first lady (Ashley Judd), and their son Connor (Finley Jacobsen) on a family vacation at Camp David. Tragedy strikes after a freak car accident on the icy roads leaves President Asher a widower and Connor without a mother. Eighteen month’s later, Banning has been demoted to security of the Treasury Department when tragedy strikes again; this time in a terrorist attack.
Led by a steely, clean cut anti-American by the name of Chang (played by Rick Yune who basically did the same in Die Another Day) and a band of North Korean Rebels, American soil is not only attacked, but the White House is infiltrated and taken over. Banning, in near proximity, is the only person to survive the ambush and sneak into the newly enemy occupied territory. With radio contact to the U.S. War Room that includes Morgan Freeman playing Speaker of the House Alan Trumbull and now acting as president, Banning must save Pres. Asher and the other surviving detainees, including fantastically over-dramatic Melissa Leo as the Secretary of Defense, and stop Chang and foreign baddies the only way he knows how- with pain.
The glee I had during and after watching Olympus Has Fallen is fiercely palpable, and now all I want to do is sing its praises. Training Day director Antoine Fuqua celebrates the ‘one man against all odds’ that the 80’s and 90’s R-rated action flicks had in spades. Original-smariginal- Olympus Has Fallen is “Die Hard” in the White House, and it felt so good. It’s like Under Siege and Air Force One had a baby, and that baby grew up on a steady diet of bullet-laced dynamite and snarky catch phrases- yeah, it’s just like that.
Going into the movie, I wondered why the filmmakers went with a R rating instead of the all more public going-inclusive and generally better money-making PG-13. It’s because they wanted to give me my man card back. I not only got it back, but they gave me a spare for when I lose it watching Stephenie Meyer’s The Host next week.
You can tell Fuqua has a love for the high adrenaline genre, getting just about every detail right, which includes the ridiculous ones. A man looking for redemption and getting it with the fate of national security on the line?!?!- yes, please. Saturated in good ol’ fashion patriotism (a slow motion shot of a falling, bullet-ridden American flag against the blood orange dusk sky is over the top marvelous). Light on plot and highly implausible at that, Fuqua keeps his attention on the action, making for a very swift, incredibly tense, and surprisingly exciting thriller. Oh, and did I mention that the climax’s outcome rests on a countdown timer?!?!- yes, please.
Fuqua doesn’t let this become just an Expendables wannabe. As implausible as it gets, the terrorist attack can’t help but elicit a 9/11 comparison, especially as the Washington Monument’s destruction falls on American civilians. The intensity of Fuqua’s direction never allows these scenes to turn into exploitation, but gives us the “enough time has passed” courage to enjoy such popcorn fodder- popcorn fodder to be repeated later this summer with Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx in White House Down.
I was not a Gerard Butler fan, and then I saw him in this. Taking a break from his droll romantic comedies, Butler kicks butt and takes names and then uses those names to call attention to those whom he plans to put a knife in their head. Perfectly intense, but at the same never letting a good line pass him by, like the- “Lets play a game of F*#k off. You go first”, Butler’s Banning awesomely unleashes on the lead villain.
I just want to follow Butler’s Mike Banning as he keeps getting into sticky situations and saves other things that have fallen, and then in 20 years after the series has totalled 6, I’ll lose interest when Mike is forced to chase after his son, a character who’s oddly just being introduced now after all those years, and Mike gets sadly turned into someone he’s not by a silly director with a silly script. Not that that would ever happen, right?
I wish Olympus Has Fallen would have gotten the same budget as White House Down. The CGI is definitely spotty, just being a notch above some video games, but what the CGI lacked in effect Gerard Butler’s muscles didn’t.
Olympus is a ridiculously entertaining film of the highest guilty pleasure order.
Take a Drink: for every person shot in the head.
Take a Drink: for every person Banning does hand to hand combat with.
Take a Drink: every time Banning says the ‘F’ word.
Down a Shot: when the Pledge of Allegiance is started.
By: Mitch Hansch -
Engelberg: [Takes half-empty pint of whiskey from Buttermaker's glove box and holds it up] You’re not supposed to have open liquor in the car. It’s against the law.
Coach Morris Buttermaker: So is murder, Engelberg. Now put it back before you get me into real trouble.
(As always, there are spoilers if you read on)
In one of the more beloved sports films of all time, Walter Matthau plays the hard drinking and beer guzzling Coach Morris Buttermaker. A former minor league pitcher himself, Buttermaker gets hired to coach the little league leftovers of the very competitive 1976 North Valley League. The 70′s were a different time; a time that allowed Buttermaker to be never too far from some cold suds, which included a cooler always in the back seat of his Yellow Cadillac convertible and the baseball dugout.
MOVIE: Bad News Bears (1976)
Release Date: 4/7/76
Interesting Fact: Tatum O’Neal eventually landed the role of the curveball hurling Amanda, but before she got it Sarah Jessica Parker auditioned for it, Jodie Foster had it but chose to do Scorsese’s Taxi Driver instead, and Kristy McNichol had it but lost it last second to the Academy Award winner for Paper Moon.
Drink of Choice: Definitely Beer. While he most often chose the king of beers, Budweiser, Buttermaker is also seen drinking Miller High Life, Coors, Schiltz, and a classy PBR.
Drunk Movie Moment: During a practice, Buttermaker passes out in front of the children on the pitchers mound after finishing a 12-pack.
A prequel to one of the grandest and most beloved films of all time, huh?…ok…nothing like setting your sights higher than over a rainbow.
Where Victor Fleming’s 1939 masterpiece taught us the value of appreciating where we came from, Sam Raimi’sOz the Great and Powerful focuses on the journey of a man who wants to be great but first must learn to be a good one. Raimi has some extraordinarily big red slippers to fill by taking on a film that tells the story of how the wizard ever came to the land of Oz- before Dorothy ever clicked her heels three times to make it home (massive spoiler alert..sorry) in The Wizard of the Oz.
If I was to pick from five directors to take on a project of this magnitude, and in particular, a prequel to TheWizard of Oz, Raimi would be on that shortlist. What an amazing amount of pressure Raimi must have felt trying to live up to the original. To say the least, the Evil Dead and Spider-Man director does not suffer from munchkin sized cajones. On that note, I will say that try as Mr. Raimi might, Oz the Great and Powerful is nowhere near the magic of the original.
James Franco plays Oscar Diggs, the ethically challenged traveling magician who gets caught up in a Kansas tornado of his own and transported to the magical land of Oz. Oscar, who also goes by the name of Oz, quickly becomes toted as the hero to fulfill the prophecy to free the good people by ridding the land of a few certain wicked evils. If successful, Oscar will become king of the land with the riches and fame he so covets. Oscar is a flawed man indeed, but he is also a man who knows he’s a charlatan wand aspires to be a better man.
The original should never have been the measuring stick, that’s just unfair, but at the same time, I think it’s fair to ask for more than Sidney Lumet’s campy The Wiz starring Diana Ross and DYK and written by Joel Schumacher…weird. Overall, this journey down the yellow brick road is visually tremendous, dazzlingly beautiful, and once it finally gets into its groove becomes a delightfully adventurous ride that has Raimi’s signature style all over it.
The price you pay with prequels is that you fill in the blanks with already established elements from the original, but what screenwriters Michael Kapner, David Lindsay-Abaire, and Raimi’s great special effects get right are their original creations. Accompanying Oscar on his quest are a bellhop monkey servant, splendidly voiced by Zach Braff, and a tragically orphaned girl made from china who comes closest to grabbing the spirit of the original by helping our troubled wizard wannabe learn what it is to become a kind human.
The real shine of Oz are the three witches, even though some shine in crystal white and some in a darker shade of emerald green. Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis, and Michelle Williams are so strong as the female leads. Weisz sinks her nose into playing the big sister to Mila Kunis, who in turn uses those big eyes of hers to make her own journey down a different path. Williams, who has become one of my favorite actresses of her young generation, brings an adorable grounding to her good witch Glinda.
What Oz the Great and Powerful really suffers from is a weak opening act. Screenwriters Kapner and Lindsay-Abaire do well with enriching and filling out the details of the world of Oz but lost is the original’s enchanting charms. Even with Raimi’s technicolor tribute, making Kansas black and white that actually looks stunning in 3-D, the emotional and adventurous hook doesn’t come till well into the movie.
James Franco spends plenty of his screen time grinning like an idiot and trying to get his eyebrows under control as the flimflamming magician. Easily the easiest to look at of the Apatowidites, Franco made an admirer out of me with his dramatic turn in 127 Hours and showed off his bravo comedic chops in Pineapple Express, but a film of this grandiose nature seems to bring out the limitations in him (as did the huge stage of hosting the Oscars which, as we all know, did not go that well and probably cause Mrs. Hathaway a spell of binge drinking). Long paragraph short, Franco is still no slouch in his role, but it also gives me pause for his longevity.
With a beginning that felt like it must have come from any other director, Raimi delivers on his strengths from the second half on. A PG rated film that had moments that truly gave me frights (the monkeys are more evil) and suspense that sizzled all the way to the climax, Raimi’s Oz may not have been great but at times was powerful.
Take a Drink: whenever James Franco grins like an idiot.
Take a Drink: whenever evil monkeys turn up.
Take a Drink: whenever Glinda makes fog.
Take a Drink: for every lady who gets a music box.
Down a Shot: for Ted Raimi’s cameo.
Finish Your Drink: for Bruce Campbell’s cameo
By: Mitch Hansch -
Miles Raymond: Uh, I don’t know, I don’t know. Um, it’s a hard grape to grow, as you know. Right? It’s uh, it’s thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early. It’s, you know, it’s not a survivor like Cabernet, which can just grow anywhere and uh, thrive even when it’s neglected. No, Pinot needs constant care and attention. You know? And in fact it can only grow in these really specific, little, tucked away corners of the world. And, and only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, oh its flavors, they’re just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and… ancient on the planet.
(As always, there are spoilers if you read on.)
In Alexander Payne’s Best Picture Oscar-nominated Sideways, Paul Giamatti expertly brings hilarity to the mess of a man that is Miles Raymond. A debby downer by nature, Miles can’t break free from a growing depression that started two years ago with a divorce from his wife and trying to get his long gestating writing career going as he continues to struggles to get his 700 plus page novel published.
To say it mildly, Miles is a bit of wine connoisseur slash snob slash person who looks all to often to the fermented grape to deal with his sorrows. So dark comedy follows when a week before his best friend Jack’s (Thomas Hayden Church, who earned a Best Supporting Actor nod) wedding, the two embark on a week long excursion to the California wine country.
Release Date: 10/22/04
Interesting Fact: During an emotional scene in the film, Miles talks with great passion about Pinot Noir. After the release of this movie, sales of Pinot Noir wines rose by more than 20 percent over the 2004-05 Christmas/New Year period, compared to the same period the previous year. A similar phenomenon was experienced in British wine outlets. Miles is deeply disparaging, in a different scene, about Merlot, and sales dropped after the film came out. Ironically, Miles’s prized bottle of wine, a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc, is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, another grape Miles disparaged.
Drink of Choice: As you’ve already read, it’s wine, with a deep love for Pinot Noir in particular. But in the words of Miles, “If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any fu@#ing Merlot!”
Drunk Movie Moment: After Miles finally finds out his novel is getting passed for publishing, he freaks out at a lower rung wine tasting tour by guzzling down from a large wooden wine spit bucket.