Movie Review: ‘Tusk’ Starring Justin Long, Michael Parks

“Is man indeed a walrus at heart?”

tusk movie posterThis is one of the pseudophilosophical questions posed in Kevin Smith’s new film Tusk, the first film adapted from a podcast (see Smodcast #259 “The Walrus and the Carpenter”). Not so much a horror film in the traditional blood and guts fashion, the Clerks director’s latest opus is more psychological – with plenty of humor mixed in throughout. And if you are a fan of the SmodCo podcast brand, there is no shortage of homage to be enjoyed.

Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) is one half of the duo who hosts the “Not-See Party” podcast, which centers around his travels to interview quirky internet celebrities (like the “Kill Bill Kid,” who chops off his own leg with a samurai sword). Wallace then explains his story to Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) who did “not see” what happened. Upon packing his bags for Canada to interview the the aforementioned legless star, he leaves his girlfriend Ally (Genesis Rodriguez) in the States – stating that he basically doesn’t want her to stop him from being entertaining. Ally is not a fan of his mean-spirited podcast antics, and wishes that the “old Wallace” she fell in love with would come back.

Wallace arrives in Manitoba only to find that the “Kill Bill Kid” has taken his own life, leaving him out the cost of his plane ticket and the interview he came for. As he drowns his sorrows at a local bar, he stumbles upon an ad posted by an old man who has lived “A life of adventure, with stories to tell.” Intrigued by the posting (based on the real-life Gumtree ad by UK hoaxer / eventual Tusk associate producer Chris Parkinson, which inspired the podcast), Wallace travels a couple of hours to a secluded mansion owned by Howard Howe (Michael Parks). After a couple of fascinating stories, and some delicious tea, Wallace find out that he has been roped into much more than listening to the old man’s stories.

Tusk is an absolutely fascinating film in many regards. Its origin is truly one of a kind, and to simply judge the film on its own merit would be doing it an injustice. With that being said, it may be Smith’s best looking film to date. Fans of the director are well aware of his self-criticism when it comes to camerawork and directing. Yet his latest work is full of interesting angles and thoughtful framing. Yet the real story is how Smith took a fake advertisement and turned it into an entire podcast, meticulously crafting what immediately sounded like a horror film – and then actually made it happen. There are lines in the film that are taken straight from the ad, and also descriptions from the podcast that come to life precisely how Smith and SmodCast co-host Scott Mosier envisioned them. Tusk is much more than a “dopey idea” coming to life; Tusk is proof of what Smith has been saying for years about doing what you love and following your dreams. To be fair, the director obviously has more resources and connections than most. But at the same time, Tusk was about as big of a stretch as any movie that you’d never thing would be made – and it happened.

What the film really lives or dies upon are the performances by the intimate cast. And in that regard, it thrives. We see Justin Long acting in ways we have never seen before in his career, dealing with a traumatic and terrifying situation. You have Haley Joel Osment, 15 years after his role in The Sixth Sense, along with Genesis Rodriguez who both give emotional performances. And most importantly, you have Michael Parks giving it 110% as always, and who never seems to let us down. Parks is chilling, and despicable, and absolutely wonderful all at the same time as the villain.

In the end, Tusk does exactly what it set out to do, and executes its mission with perfection. If you haven’t followed the journey starting from #WalrusYes to opening in theaters, you may not understand it. But for those who have been along for the entire ride, it just makes sense. If you are a fan of Smith’s work and the View Askewniverse, you already know that you will see the movie. Yet even if you aren’t, there is something so fascinating about the whole concept that never lets you look away from the screen no matter how much you want to. Do yourself a favor and listen to SmodCast #259 again after seeing Tusk, and tell me they didn’t pull it off.

59: ‘The Drop’ Starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini
the drop posterWell, whadayaknow? Hollywood actually released a movie this week. Seems the least we could do is spoil it for you. This week we discuss The Drop. Yet another in what seems to be a long line of “final” James Gandolfini movies.

All this plus a box office report from Kevin, Video Recovery from Dan and an honest-to-God email. If you guys aren’t careful we’re going to start thinking people are actually listening.

It’s Reel Spoilers #59: The Drop.

You’ve been warned.

Starring: Tom O’Keefe, Dan Graney, Joe Buttice, Kevin Brackett
Run-time: 1hr 6min

You can listen to the podcast above, subscribe to our RSS feed, or subscribe via iTunes. You can also find us on the Stitcher radio app for smartphones and iPads.

58: Reel Spoilers Rewound 2 – Deep Fried Taco Movies

deep fried taco movies

It’s a light week at the box office. The week’s sole new release couldn’t even crack the top ten. So we decided to bare our souls and reveal to you our dirty little cinematic secrets. That film that we know is a big steaming turd and yet…we can’t help but love.

Some call them “guilty pleasures” but we’ve never been one to take the easy route. We call them “deep fried tacos”. Why? Well, you know they’re not good for you. You know you’ll regret eating them. But you devour them anyway.

It’s Reel Spoilers #58: Deep Fried Taco Movies.

You’ve been warned. No, seriously. We’re warning you.

Starring: Tom O’Keefe, Dan Graney, Joe Buttice, Kevin Brackett
Run-time: 1hr 15min

You can listen to the podcast above, subscribe to our RSS feed, or subscribe via iTunes. You can also find us on the Stitcher radio app for smartphones and iPads.

Marvel Announces New “Miracleman” From Morrison & Quesada

Over the past year, Marvel has been releasing reprints of Miracleman (every issue has been out of print for the past 20 years) from British publisher Eclipse Comics. The book was written by Alan Moore and featured art from Alan Davis, Garry Leech, Chuck Austin, Rick Veitch, and John Totleben. Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham would pick the book as well.  The character has been involved in a decades long legal battle over who really owns the rights. At last years Comic Con, Marvel announced that they finally had the rights to issues and they would begin to republish the single issues in their original form.

This December, Marvel will release the first new Miracleman story in 20 years in Miracleman Annual #1. The book will feature an all new, never before published story by Grant Morrison.   The “long lost” story will be drawn by current Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, Vulture.com reports.

Is this a legit “lost story” written by Grant Morrison in the 80′s or is it something that the powers that be at Marvel have come up with as a ploy.  I refer you to The Sentry.  A “long lost” character  that was supposed to have been created by Stan Lee (shocker, he wasn’t). It was all a set up to garner attention of a new book and new character.

Whether it’s real long lost story or not, it’s exciting to see one of the best writers in comics take on the character.  The book will also feature a back-up story by Peter Milligan and Mike Allred along with a pair of variant covers by Gabrielle Del’Otto and Jeff Smith.

Here’s a look at some of Quesada’s pages from the book.  Credit to Comic Book Resources for the images.

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DOLPHIN TALE 2 Opens September 12! Enter to Win Passes to the St. Louis Advance Screening!

Enter for your chance to receive a family four-pack of passes to a special advance screening!

DOLPHIN TALE 2 - PosterIt has been several years since young Sawyer Nelson (Gamble) and the dedicated team at the Clearwater Marine Hospital, headed by Dr. Clay Haskett (Connick, Jr.), rescued Winter. With the help of Dr. Cameron McCarthy (Freeman), who developed a unique prosthetic tail for the injured dolphin, they were able to save her life. Yet their fight is not over. Winter’s surrogate mother, the very elderly dolphin Panama, has passed away, leaving Winter without the only poolmate she has ever known. However, the loss of Panama may have even greater repercussions for Winter, who, according to USDA regulations, cannot be housed alone, as dolphins’ social behavior requires them to be paired with other dolphins. Time is running out to find a companion for her before the team at Clearwater loses their beloved Winter to another aquarium.

Cast: Harry Connick, Jr., Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, Nathan Gamble, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Austin Stowell
Director: Charles Martin Smith

In order to enter the contest, e-mail us and tell us why you can’t wait to see the movie!

No purchase necessary. Void where restricted or prohibited by law. At the screening seating is not guaranteed and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Refer to screening pass for further restrictions. Screening pass winners will be drawn at random and notified via email. Limit one (admit-four) pass per person. Must be age 13 or over to enter.

DOLPHIN TALE 2 Opens September 12

57: ‘November Man’ and ‘As Above/So Below’

Episode #57 is a twofer as we spoil both The November Man and As Above/So Below. And, just to make things more enticing, we didn’t really care for either. We always do our best work when we don’t like a movie and we have some head-scratching questions about both films.

All this plus a Video Recovery from Dan and a box office report from Kevin.

It’s Reel Spoilers #57: The November Man and As Above/So Below.

You’ve been warned.

Starring: Tom O’Keefe, Blake Fehl, Dan Graney, Joe Buttice, Kevin Brackett
Run-time: 1hr 5min

You can listen to the podcast above, subscribe to our RSS feed, or subscribe via iTunes. You can also find us on the Stitcher radio app for smartphones and iPads.

56: ‘Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Starring Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt,

sin city 2 posterAre you hesitant to listen to an episode of Reel Spoilers until you see the film? Then this is the episode for you since we barely talk about this week’s film. And judging by the paltry box office chances are you didn’t see Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. And honestly there isn’t much to say…it’s more of the same only in 3D. So instead we talk about our dreams of becoming so popular that we can sell out (Blake Fehl bobble-heads, anyone?) and which movies were so bad that we actually walked out. And sometimes we even talk about Sin City. We’re crazy like that.

Plus, Tom gives us a Video Recovery of a movie that is worth talking about.

It’s Reel Spoilers #56: Sin City – A Dame to Kill For (kinda sorta).

You’ve been warned.

Starring: Tom O’Keefe, Blake Fehl, Joe Buttice, Kevin Brackett
Run-time: 1hr 11min

You can listen to the podcast above, subscribe to our RSS feed, or subscribe via iTunes. You can also find us on the Stitcher radio app for smartphones and iPads.

Movie Review: ‘The November Man’ Starring Pierce Brosnan

november man posterIf Tinker, Tailor, Solidier, Spy is croquembouche (the elaborate, ornate dessert), simultaneously being rich and decadent with its twisty, turny plots, and subtle and nuanced, with its labyrinthine undercurrents, then The November Man is a skittle.

There’s an approximation of what the spy/espionage genre entails, it’s just not actually there… which is why we have an agency handler saying things like, “I want eyes on him!” or a reporter uttering, “Let me get my dictaphone.”

Based on a series of books by Bill Granger, “The November Man” is a spy thriller/revenge flick in the vein of the Bourne series or Taken… but without the thrills. Or much of the spying. What we do have is not James Bond doing a lot of not James Bond stuff (unless James Bond liked to sit around and talk. Or walk and talk. Or just talk.)

Pierce Brosnan plays Peter Devereaux, a retired ex-CIA agent who left after a mission gone awry thanks, in no small part, to an impetuous trainee. As is often the case, Peter is pulled back in, and now, he’s facing off against his trainee… dun, dun, dunnnnnn.

The rest of the movie involves agency shenanigans, a boorish Russian presidential hopeful with a shady past, sex trafficking, a lady assassin/yoga enthusiast, drones that look like they were ordered from an outdated Brookstone catalog, and a complete lack of action set pieces.

Seriously, Marco Beltrami, composer of The November Man, has his work cut out for him as he adds notes of tension, terror, suspense or non-stop action to scenes such as: two guys in a cafe, two people walking around town, and a showdown at a scenic overlook that has as much action as a family of tourists all trying to get in the same snapshot before the timer on the camera goes off.

Brosnan is adept at adding a sense of style to any role – and he’s probably been eyeing some of that Liam Neeson work, as of late – so he does help bring a little substance to what amounts, as my buddy Tom called it, an airport novel of a movie.

With a sequel already in the works, The November Man may be a fine way to beat the heat, but you can pretty much check your head at the door.

The Long Box – Casting Call: “Batman: Under the Hood”

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With the recent rumors about the plot of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, I decided to take a look at one of my favorite Batman stories from the last 10 years.

The Bat-Franchise is one of Warner Brothers most lucrative properties.  The advantage of having Ben Affleck make his debut in a non solo Batman movie is that the character will be established in this film.  The door is wide open for a stand alone movie next. Why not start with a story about what happened to the second Robin, Jason Todd?

The current rumor is that there is a tattered Robin costume on display in the Batcave. The fanboys out there  know that Bruce kept the destroyed costume of Jason Todd (the 2nd Robin).  Jason was murdered by the Joker in the epic story line “Death in the Family”.

 

Here’s my idea on what creative team and cast could make this movie work.

The Concept:
In 2005, Judd Winick had the insane idea to bring the most hated Batman character back to life. Hey, it worked when Marvel brought Bucky back. Why wouldn’t it work for Jason Todd? Winick took his idea to the Powers That Be (Dan Didio) at DC, and they went ahead with the idea. Combined with the dirty and gritty art style of Doug Mahnke, these two men not only brought Jason Todd back from the dead, but they turned him into a bad ass vigilante.  The story would bring Batman’s greatest failure back from the dead. With appearances from Nightwing (Dick Grayson), The Amazo Android, The Black Mask, and the Joker, Winick crafts a tale that combines a mob movie, a detective story, and a blockbuster action flick all in one. DC even went so far as to make this story into one of their direct to video animated movies (Batman: Under the Red Hood).  It worked there, so why not the big screen?
Of course, there have to be some minor story changes. For one, you’re going to have to take out a lot of the henchmen/villains.  Mr. Freeze, Deathstroke, and a hodgepodge of C list characters make appearances when the Black Mask hires them to take out The Red Hood.  You can just change them to faceless mercenaries. Also, I would not open with a young Jason Todd being murdered by the Joker.  I think it was a mistake in Captain America: The Winter Soldier to expose the identity of the Winter Soldier in previews.  Sure, the comic fans will know, but keep it a secret until Bruce figures out who he is in the film itself.

55: ‘The Giver’ Starring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites

the giver poster

This week we give it to the The Giver. (Wordplay!) “What’s The Giver?” you ask. Why, it’s the latest dystopian-future, kill-fest for kids. They’re releasing them monthly now. And, just in case that doesn’t sound dreary enough for you they filmed this one in black & white. Well, large chunks of it anyway.

All that plus Tom reveals his connection to Ferguson (it’s not that exciting) and Dan has a video recovery which is more exciting. Well, his recovery is even if the movie isn’t.

It’s Reel Spoilers #55: The Giver.

You’ve been warned.

Starring: Tom O’Keefe, Blake Fehl, Dan Graney, Joe Buttice
Run-time: 1hr 11min

You can listen to the podcast above, subscribe to our RSS feed, or subscribe via iTunes. You can also find us on the Stitcher radio app for smartphones and iPads.

Read full Cash Crop Movie Review