Friday, August 6, 2010

“Movie Review: 'The Other Guys' - Delaware County Daily Times” plus 3 more

“Movie Review: 'The Other Guys' - Delaware County Daily Times” plus 3 more

Movie Review: 'The Other Guys' - Delaware County Daily Times

Posted: 06 Aug 2010 02:30 AM PDT

In this film publicity image released by Columbia Pictures, Mark Wahlberg, right, and Will Ferrell are shown in a scene from "The Other Guys." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures-Sony, Macall Polay)

NEW YORK (AP) --- If the mismatched-buddy cop movie seems egregiously overdone, the idea of a parody of that genre would seem especially needless — which is what makes "The Other Guys" such a wonderful surprise.

On paper, this could have been painfully lame. Will Ferrell is doing a variation on his tried-and-true film persona: the overly earnest guy who's totally confident and oblivious to his buffoonery. Mark Wahlberg, meanwhile, is playing with his screen image as a tough guy and a hothead, doing a version of his Oscar-nominated role in "The Departed." And the joke you see in the TV commercials — in which Ferrell blasts Little River Band's mellow '70s hit "Reminiscing" on the way to a crime scene — is good for a laugh but it makes you wonder, is that the best they've got?

It all could have been too familiar, too cute. But there are just enough tweaks to these characters and this formula — and a refreshingly weird, kinky streak throughout — that make "The Other Guys" an unexpected kick. It runs out of steam in the third act and probably could have been tightened a bit. And we didn't need the Powerpoint-style presentation over the closing credits preaching to us about corporate greed: We're all quite aware it's a problem. But the majority of it works.

A big reason for the film's success is that the action sequences are played totally straight. The chases and shootouts on the streets of New York are elaborately staged and detailed — down to the cliche that the bad guys always have crazy amounts of automatic weaponry but still manage to miss our heroes, even when firing from a helicopter. There's also an homage to John Woo that takes place in a glassed-off conference room with documents and bullets and bodies flying in artful slow-motion; again, because it's choreographed so well and not played cartoonishly, it's more effective.

The comedy similarly has a deadpan tone; it's self-aware but not tongue-in-cheek. This is not over the top like a "Scary Movie" parody, and that makes it more appealing, too. The tossed-off pop culture references feel naturally like a part of the fabric. Like the previous movies Ferrell has collaborated on with writer-director Adam McKay, "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," ''Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" and (with lesser success) "Step Brothers," ''The Other Guys" comes from a realistic, often understated place, which makes the wild moments pop out that much more. (Chris Henchy co-wrote the script, but Ferrell obviously had lots of room to improvise.)

Ferrell stars as Allen Gamble, a New York police detective with the demeanor (and wardrobe) of an accountant. He'd rather solve crimes from the comfort and safety of his desk, but he's always happy to support his colleagues with some hearty words of encouragement. Wahlberg plays his partner, Terry Hoitz, who used to be out on the streets and is itching to get back, but is stuck in the office with Allen because of an accidental shooting. (There's a flashback to it, and if you're a Red Sox fan, you'll enjoy it.)

The city's hotshot detectives (Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson, also toying with their larger-than-life personae) dominate by solving the most high-profile cases. But Allen and Terry stumble across something that looks shady involving corporate financial guru David Ershon (Steve Coogan), a sort of British version of Bernie Madoff. Coogan adds his own style of dry humor to the mix and is among a strong supporting cast that includes Michael Keaton, Rob Riggle and Eva Mendes.

And speaking of Mendes, she's crucial to a running joke that, surprisingly, works the whole time. We won't say much more about it, though. You should really meet and get to know these guys for yourself.

"The Other Guys," a Columbia Pictures release, is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, language, violence and some drug material. Running time: 101 minutes. Three stars out of four.

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Movie review: 'Middle Men' - Corpus Christi Caller

Posted: 06 Aug 2010 01:54 AM PDT

You'll probably want to take a shower after watching "Middle Men," just to wash all the "ick" off yourself. And that's a compliment.

This inspired-by-a-true-story film about the birth of Internet porn is giddily sleazy, full of convincing crazies and criminals, as well as the scumbags and wannabes who surround them.

Writer-director George Gallo seems to have been influenced here by "Boogie Nights" and "Goodfellas," not just in their subject matter but in their fast-paced, in-your-face hodgepodge of images, styles and music. (The soundtrack, featuring period-appropriate songs from Moby and Fatboy Slim and a particularly apt use of the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want," must have cost a fortune.) It's a predictable rise-and-fall tale of people who get in over their heads with no clue about how to get out, but at least it's fun while it lasts.

Besides, the details and the characters are what make these types of movies work. And Gallo, who previously wrote "Midnight Run" and "Bad Boys," creates some lively figures for many of his actors to inhabit. Giovanni Ribisi is gloriously over-the-top as former veterinarian Wayne Beering, who helps come up with the idea of distributing porn online in the late 1990s when he becomes bored with his own, um, inspirational material. Coked up and chain smoking, rambling and usually ready for a fight, he's a complete idiot but he might also be a genius.

The real brains behind the operation is former NASA technician Buck Dolby (Gabriel Macht), who creates a program within minutes that allows users to provide their credit card information online and receive photos and videos in return. (It almost seems quaint to look back at a not-so-distant time when Internet porn didn't exist, given how pervasive it is now.)

Neither of these guys knows how to handle the millions of dollars they make; at one point, even after they form an actual billing company and move into a legitimate office building, they forget a $2 million check that's just sitting in a desk drawer. But while Buck is just as much of a coke fiend as Wayne, he's comparatively coherent. So when they find themselves in deep trouble with a bunch of Russian mobsters (led by the formidable Rade Sherbedgia) and get beaten bloody in a trashed Las Vegas hotel suite, Buck kinda-sorta has enough sense to figure a way out.

Unfortunately, that involves bringing in the well-connected and opportunistic lawyer Jerry Haggerty (a perfectly ruthless James Caan), who in turn brings in Jack Harris (Luke Wilson), a Texas businessman with a knack for solving problems. And Jack is actually the one at the center of "Middle Men," the straight man amid these larger-than-life lowlifes. After all, someone's got to anchor all this mayhem. But Wilson plays him a little too straight. He's so low-key it's difficult to connect with him and, at least until nearly the end, hard to know whether his various alliances ever plague on his conscience.

Jack glides among and manipulates all these people with such blase ease, he may as well be ordering take-out over the phone. He has a wife (Jacinda Barrett) and two kids back home in Houston, but his work in Los Angeles which he likes to think of as above-board, since all he's doing is running a billing company keeps him away for longer and longer stretches. It also leads to a dalliance with a 23-year-old porn star (Laura Ramsey).

We get a lot of voiceover from Wilson probably too much but then again, there are so many intertwined characters perpetrating so many scams, perhaps Gallo felt the device was necessary to help us keep track of everyone and everything.

"Middle Men" is based on the experiences of Christopher Mallick, one of the film's producers, and it's hard to tell what's real and what's fictionalized. Maybe it doesn't matter though maybe it's just as well if we view it all as artifice and illusion, not unlike Internet porn itself.

"Middle Men," a Paramount Pictures release

Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language, drug use and violence.

Running time: 113 minutes.

Two and a half stars out of four

© 2010 Corpus Christi Caller Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Novato's Sonic Solutions teams with Widevine for movie streaming - San Jose Mercury News

Posted: 05 Aug 2010 07:06 PM PDT

Sonic Solutions of Novato and Widevine, a tech company backed by Cisco Systems and other investors, are working on a platform for retailers to stream movies to mobile devices such as Android phones and Apple's iPad.

The service - which combines Novato-based Sonic's RoxioNow online video streaming platform with Widevine's digital rights management and video technology - is expected to be ready for retailers by the holiday season, Sonic and Widevine announced Thursday.

Retailers will be able to send movies and other video content to the iPad and iPhone and devices running Google's Android and Research In Motion's BlackBerry operating systems. According to Bloomberg News, retailers such as Sears and Best Buy plan to use the platform.

"By teaming with Widevine, a clear leader in the industry, we are able to seamlessly overcome the technical hurdles of digital rights management and platform optimization behind the scenes, enabling our partners to deliver a compelling, hassle-free movie experience to their customers," Mark Ely, Sonic Solutions' executive vice president, said in a statement.

Sonic Solutions stock surged Thursday, closing at $9.02, up $1.10, or 13.4 percent. On Wednesday, Sonic Solutions announced first-quarter earnings that were ahead of expectations. Net revenue was $25.4 million, in line with the $25.5 million reported for the first quarter of the last fiscal year. The company's first-quarter revenue target was approximately $25 million.

Sonic's gross

profit for the first quarter was $17.7 million, representing a gross margin of 70 percent, compared to $17.6 million and a gross margin of 69 percent in the first quarter of fiscal 2010.

Thursday's video streaming announcement comes as consumers are changing the way they watch movies at home. Sales of DVDs have been falling and now DVD rental revenues are declining as well. In place of DVDs, consumers have been spending increasing amounts of time and money on digitally distributed videos.

Retailers such as Best Buy, which had large-scale sales of DVDs in the past, face a loss of that revenue unless they are able to offer digital video content. As an electronics retailer with its own line of branded TVs and other entertainment devices, Best Buy has also seen an opportunity to enhance sales of those gadgets by adding features, such as the ability to connect to the Internet to access digital videos and songs.

Last fall, Best Buy announced a deal with Sonic to launch a streaming video service that would be accessible from its Insignia brand TVs and electronics.

But the market for such streaming video services is becoming crowded. Among companies already streaming movies and videos to consumers over the Internet are Netflix, Blockbuster, Hulu, Google's YouTube, Vudu and And Apple, which dominates digital downloads of music and movies, has reportedly talked with Hollywood studios about creating a streaming video service.

Even if a company has the technology to create a streaming video service, that doesn't mean it will have access to the Hollywood-produced content that appeals to consumers. None of the streaming video services launched to date has a comprehensive collection of films or television shows.

Widevine was founded in 1999. Its investors include San Jose network-equipment giant Cisco, several venture capital firms, electronics maker Samsung and Canadian telecommunications company Telus.

Based in Seattle, Widevine has received more than $66 million in funding, according to TechCrunch.

"Widevine's technologies are arming the industry with the capabilities they need to provide today's consumers what they crave: their favorite entertainment on their preferred device at a time that most convenient to them," Widevine CEO and founder Brian Baker said in the news release.

"With Sonic, we will deliver an unbelievable mobile movie experience to the latest range of next-generation handsets," Baker said.

Read more Business stories at the IJ's Business section.

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Director of Justin Bieber's 3D Movie Drops Out to Concentrate on His Own Project - AceShowbiz

Posted: 05 Aug 2010 08:03 PM PDT

August 06, 2010 03:07:30 GMT

The Oscar-winning moviemaker walked away from working with the Canadian pop sensation to concentrate on promoting his new movie, 'Waiting for "Superman" '.

's upcoming 'movie memoir' has been dealt a setback - the director of the project has quit. Oscar-winner Davis Guggenheim walked away from working with the Canadian pop sensation on Tuesday, August 3 to concentrate on promoting his new movie, " ".

Paramount Pictures executives are said to have already begun a search for Guggenheim's replacement, reports The 3D movie, due in theatres in February 2011, will tell the story of Bieber's stellar rise to fame and will also feature concert scenes.

Previously, Justin Bieber was forced to clear up reports he is writing his memoirs - insisting he is "too young" to tell his life story. He wrote on Twitter that the book he is working on is just an illustrated behind-the-scenes look at his tour.



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