Tuesday, August 28, 2012


It is with great sadness that I have to say we are going to put “What is showing next on Hiatus” I have started back to school and with all of the commitments of life work and such I am unable to spend any more time on this blog. As the great Arnold said “I’ll be back”. I will return once we have some time to free up to go back to the movies.

I will still be blogging about movies on my other blog Movies IMHO. I will continue to go through the list of movies that every movie lover should see. This is one of the only lists that Roger Ebert has created and said needed to be seen to talk about movies with an educated understanding of the medium. I am going to continue to write the Movies 101 articles so I will still keep in touch via that outlet.

My focus of study is news journalism with a minor in cinema. So I am working toward fulfilling my goals of becoming a movie review critic.

I will still keep a presence in Facebook and twitter and look forward to continue to talk movies with you on line.

-Jon Rutledge
Fat Samurai Reviews

Friday, August 24, 2012


Pixelschatten – 85min – N/A

I started this blog to write about movies that surprise me. What Is Showing Next is dedicated to the simple act of just seeing a movie. No matter if it’s good or bad, having an experience that gives you something to think about is the point. You can get enjoyment from reflection on how much you enjoyed it and to bag on how bad a film was. With this gamble you see a lot of bad movies; Pixlschatten is one of those rare occurrences where you get to see this art form in its purest and most beautiful sense. This movie takes a slice out of a person’s life and we see a pivotal moment where a choice changes everything. We see the ramifications of those choices and enjoy the journey. This is a green light film.

Pixel (Ben Gageik) is young blogger in a small town and his blog was well known as the go-to spot for all the information on the cool crowd and what parties are happening. His circle of friends move on with their lives. His roommate Lutz (Adrian Thomser) is tired of the teasing he gets, his Girlfriend Suse (Zora Klostermann) is upset at all of the personal details that get published to the blog. Pixel sees life advancing for everyone except him. So he posts something that changes their lives forever.

The cast brings to life the charters with honesty and genuine feeling. They seem very comfortable in their roles and are completely engaging. The story is told from Pixel’s point of view in a Citizen Cane-esque format that puts us into the story. We see the blog posts happen without having to read them so this gives us a better feeling or what the blog posts are about. We are included in the events so we know what has transpired.

The other element to the story is the chorus of people in the comments section that bring their perception of the events. They have a good feeling of how comments sections are full of people who contribute to the topic and some are distracters. The mix of live action and the overlay of comments capture the experience of online communication.

Anil Jacob Kunnel Wrote and directed this film the idea was inspired when a local contest hosted by the German equivalent of PBS known as the ZDF asked for story submissions. The station hosed a contest where people voted online for the stories they liked most and the winner received funding for the production.

I think that big studio productions can learn something from this independent film. The true value of a movie is in the richness of the story, and well developed characters. Way too many movies are now all bout the eye candy and not about anything worthwhile. I don’t know who said it first but “a simple story well told” is personified in this film.

Warning Spoilers!!!!! Schauen Sie weg, wenn Sie nicht wollen, Spoilers zu sehen!!!

Caro’s(Caroline Suren) obsession with Pixel borders on the creepy. Her segregation from the group toward the end I viewed as her friends trying to hide the secret that Pixel was gone and shield her from the problem of how they carried on in his absence.

Pixel’s courage to break away from his life is astounding, but it does make me wonder what he is doing with his life. I know that he is not the focus of the film but what the blog’s effect on his friends was the main point. But you spend time with the character it does make one at least think about how he is doing.

I say this on YouTube with the CC turned on. The comment section of the films was so quick at times it was hard to read, I would like to see this dubbed in English. I think it would play well.

If you had someone else paying for the production of a movie what story would you like to tell the world?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Legacy – 135min – PG-13

If you were a fan of the previous films, don’t get sucked into watching it because it has the same name. I was expecting an action, adventure spy thriller and what I got was spy movie that was very slow paced, and had long stretches of exposition and set up. It felt like the writer/director (Tony Gilroy) was setting this up to be an origin story to base another three films on. With out of sync pacing and a story that seemed disjointed and out of place for the established universe, I felt lost at times and begin to wonder why I even care about the characters on the screen. This movie does nothing for the franchise and could have been skipped. This is a red light film.

Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is on a training mission in the wilds of Alaska, he doing training maneuvers so he is trying to complete and is fighting the wildlife and weather to accomplish it. The Agency is working to erase the Bourne project and everyone connect to it before a possible leak occurs. Eric Byer (Edward Norton) is a troubleshooter in charge of cleaning out this operation and preventing a scandal. Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weiss) is working on the drugs that were used to give the Bourne agents their super powers. Ok, there are no super powers but it does enhance them to higher than normal human reaction and thought. I am glossing over a lot of story here but it’s really hard to put so many story fractions into one short synopsis.

The story does incorporate some elements from the third movie. It’s hard to follow at times but from some of the people I have talked to even if you did see the third one, the connections are so faint that it almost doesn’t make any difference in clearing up the convoluted story line.

I have no issues with any of the performances. It really was the writer's fault for not giving them a better story to work with. Edward Norton was brilliant as a broody guy who scowls in a control room. Rachel Weisz gives a great performance of a brilliant woman under the stress of being taken out of her element, and Jeremy Renner is now my favorite action star. This movie was like a short sample of his prowess in this kind of film. He did a good job in Mission Impossible 4 but he really shines as the main character.

Tony Gilroy has lots of checks in the win column. He has a well proven track record as a story teller, his work on the previous Bourne movies to his work on Armageddon and Michael Clayton really highlight his skill. This is one that I think is a failed attempt to develop more of the universe from the previous films. The best description I have to explain what this movie feels like is developing Cross as a new player in this universe. It feels like they went out of their way to tell a lot of back story so the next one can kick right off into action. I just hope that he has not lost his audience in this gamble.

To indicate how slow this film is, I was at one point noticing that people were yawing during the film. I started counting as they became more entertaining than the movie. There were 25 yawns from about half way through the first half of this movie. I started to write my review in my notebook before the film was over, I was completely ungripped.

Spoiler Warring!!! No yawning beyond this point!!!!!!!!!!

Cross made a big show of hiding his meds and then going to the other agent saying he was out of meds. I have had long conversations on why he did this; some people say that it was a ploy to put himself into a position of submission with the person he was in contact with. You want the audience to talk about your movie but you don’t want them to spend all of the great talk time sorting out what your characters motivations are.

The other issue is that Cross and his pursuer, Byer never meet, and the impact of the message of "No more" on the mirror lost something when the main bad guy gets the message through a camera. I as a viewer wanted to have them meet, and they never did.

All of the action scenes were in the trailer and I think that was what lead me to believe this was an action film. Not so much really it’s just one long set up for a possible trilogy. When are they going to invest in a tripod for these films? Does every shot need to be on a not so steady cam? Even the meeting rooms where everyone is sitting down?

Movies seem to be made as one-shot gamble, rarely do they plan a story arc that spans over two or three movies. Do you think they should change that and really designate films as onetime stories or moves that you know are going to be done over several films?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Campaign

The Campaign – 85min – R

What better time to have a movie about a political race than right now? Unfortunately people are so tired of the political back and forth that seeing a move that lampoons this real life event just does not get enough steam. Sure, there are some truly funny parts but the overall tone of the movie is so over the top and contrived that it loses something in its delivery. This movie barely gets yellow light vote from me. It needs to have a recall election of the story and just focus on the things that make it funny.

Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) is a senator and has been for a while because he runs unopposed. His campaign manager, Mitch (Jason Sudeikis), has an easy time every election year -- just keep Cam out of trouble. Two evil CEOs known as “The Motch Brothers,” Glenn and Wade (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd) , see an opportunity to bring their sweat shop from overseas and place it in Cam’s district to save shipping cost. They set up a gullible Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) to run against him. The Motch brothers hope to put a puppet in power to give them access to DC regulators. They hire Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) to run Marty’s campaign. The race is on and no trick is too dirty.

My biggest problem with this movie is that there are no likeable main characters. The only one that I like is Mitch and he is only a side character. Cam is a dirt bag and embraces it. Marty is way over the top in his oddities and I found him annoying. The Motch brothers are slimy and completely despicable. I know this is a comedy that thrives on being overly absurd in its lampooning of the political process but there was no one to feel for.

Jay Roach is an interesting case study, his comedies are good the first go around, his stories get diminishing returns the more sequels that he does. Austin Powers was good, but the sequels were more of the same and did not grow the story any. Meet the parents is another example of how a great first movie does well and the second one was less impressive and lets not talk about the third one. This time his first go at this story was lacking more in the writing than the execution of the film.

I have to say that a little part of my soul dies every time I laugh at the baby getting punched. I just can’t help myself. it was a very funny bit and an excellent call back to that same baby with a shiner toward the end of the movie. They also did a very sloppy job of editing the film. There were continuity errors in many scenes. It was a mess of shots kind of thrown together. For instance they had a character with their hand up waving in the close up and then the long shot their hands down. The dialog indicated that no time had passed. Sloppy

Warring Spoilers!!!!!!! Only members of the election staff are allowed past this link. !!!!!!

Even in a comedy, the plans of the bad guys need to make sense. The Motch brothers are completely absurd in their plan. They seem to forget that they really only have to apply pressure on Cam and they can get what they want. If the came in and supported him from the start he would have been in their pocket and everything would have been fine.

Another note on the poor editing was the nipple slip scene. Guys, if you are going to have a partially bare nipple in the shot, realize it’s going to be the focus of the audience. In the first part of the scene it was barely showing, and then it would slip lower, then higher and lower with each edit. I was focused on it, err Distracted, I mean distracted by it, really the edits were that distracting, /Blush……/Whistle

Cam giving up his seat to Marty was completely out of character. He did not have enough time to develop a soul to actually truly warrant the selfless act. I would have him win, keep the seat and then take on the Marty honesty shtick and hire him on as the chief of staff. Motch brothers get screwed, people have a sappy feel-good ending and the characters stay true to their nature.

What is your favorite political move?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Total Recall

Total Recall – 118min – PG-13

If you were to take DNA samples from Blade Runner, I,Robot , Minority Report and the original Total Recall, splice them together with a dry political plot and give the filmmaker a lot of money you get today’s version of Total Recall. It felt like a studio gave a fan boy a big budget and he made a blockbuster level fan film. There are many flashy effects and action parts interspersed with long stretches of back story to carry you along. Now from a sci-fi action standpoint it does what it advertises, but overall it’s a yellow light.

The movie starts out with an injured Collin Farrell in a hospital trying to escape with a mysterious woman (Jessica Biel). SNAP he wakes up in bed. He is Douglas Quaid, a factory worker that has been having this reoccurring dream for a long time. He is married to Lori (Kate Beckinsale), an emergency responder. They live in a hovel of an apartment and barely scrape by. Life is getting Douglas down and he is having trouble sleeping because of the dreams so he goes to a place called ReKall to have some memories implanted to numb the pain of a bleak existence. It turns out he has already had his memory altered and his attempt at changing his memory triggers a police raid that kicks off a poorly paced action movie.

The differences from this and the original are primarily two main changes. First off, no Mars and no mutants, it all takes place on Earth. The world has gone through a war and the planet is completely unlivable except for two locations: Great Britian and Australia. The second is Lori Quaid is no longer shot in the head as she tries to convince Douglas to choose reality. She is a highly trained operative that chases Douglas throughout the movie. It's good to be married to the director.

Len Wiseman, who is famous for his Underworld franchise, directs this movie like a love letter to all the sci-fi movies that he has ever loved. He elbow pokes the viewers in the ribs with his heavy handed call backs to the original movie. I have a sore spot from where he hit me and giggled ”See that? See what I did there?”

The science in the movie is flawed and the political plot line is stale but the action is top notch. If you enjoy the genre and don’t look at the in-between parts, it does do well as an eye candy film. The hover cars and the robot chases are good. Bokeem Woodbine is way under-used as the factory worker buddy who warns Douglas off of Rekall. He has plenty of untapped potential and they missed out on giving him more to do in this film. He could have been much better than a Sharon Stone stand in.

Bill Nighy brings his “A” game like always but this time they only gave him a small part. John Cho also has a bit part, but owns what he has.

Spoiler warning!!! Only deep cover double agents that have been brain washed beyond this point!!!!

Ok, I am a fan of breasts and I have no problem with someone having three of them. I found no reason for them to throw in a three breasted prostitute in this film just because they had one in the other film. The reason she had three in the other film was because of the mutations. There were no mutants established in the story so there was no reason she was there. But she did look nice. I am not giving up my man card.

Having the main character start out in the “dream” laid down the groundwork that this was not real and the dream was reality. There was absolutely no doubt that the life he was living was a cover and his choices did not leave the viewer questioning anything he did. In the original you were left with a question of was it real or not?

Having a pipeline that connected Great Britian and Australia was way too much of a stretch for me. They started off with that gem of a hurdle to try and get past. Then having the humongous elevator to get from one side of the world to the other was just silly. Especially the scene where they shifted gravity. It looked cool, but I would have been pissed off if a person’s coffee mug or their car keys, or a book floated around and hit me in the head on my morning elevator ride. Seriously why are there objects floating around the cabin, are all these people new to this trip? Did no one hear the foreshadowing announcement that said gravity is going to shift?

What Philip K Dick story would you like to see on screen or do you think they should rehash Blade Runner next?