Grudge Match

A Touch of Sin

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. A Touch of Sin Four stories of everyday people caught up in the maelstrom that is modern day China. Violence infects their lives, sometimes as victims, sometimes as perpetrators, and none of them will ever be the same again. Zhangke Jia‘s film made my list of 2013’s best foreign language films, and it marks a rare instance where Landon Palmer and I agreed on that assessment. In his own ‘best of’ list he wrote, “A work of national cinema meant primarily for an audience outside of its home nation, A Touch of Sin is a disturbing mosaic of contemporary global China, depicting the excesses and injustices of a country growing through an unprecedented combination of organized labor and capitalist exploitation. A potent combination of genre play and political commentary, Zhangke Jia’s episodic film is as much a masterwork of a tightly controlled, discomfiting tonal range as it is a revealing micro-examination of uniquely 21st-century forms of economic injustice. I believe we’ll be talking about this molotov cocktail of a film for years to come.” [Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

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GRUDGE MATCH-FILM

The idea of Rocky vs. Raging Bull is almost irresistible, and when it comes to that factor, Grudge Match has its moments. However, those moments aren’t enough to make a good movie. Indeed, Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro have been cashing their nostalgia bitcoins for a while now. De Niro seems to be taking every film that comes his way – good or bad – and relying more and more on his reputation rather than giving a good performance. It’s not just the Meet the Parents films that capitalize on this. In fact, The Family from earlier this year had a huge plot point to the film hinge on De Niro’s long career playing a Mafioso (resulting in a scene almost as awkward as the Julia Roberts gag in Oceans 12). Similarly, Stallone has been trying to spin his once-top-rated box office name into modern success. It worked with The Expendables and The Expendables 2, but pretty much everything else he’s tried to reclaim his 80s glory days has fallen flat. While I thought Bullet to the Head wasn’t bad and thoroughly enjoyed Escape Plan this past fall with Arnold Schwarzenegger, few others did.

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LAST-VEGAS

When Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, and Robert De Niro signed up for the geriatric Hangover caper Last Vegas, they firmly cemented themselves in a somewhat new genre: the coming of old-age story. These four men, all still in the primes of their lives and well-respected actors getting wonderful roles, felt the need to star in a film that constantly brought up two points: these guys are old guys, and these old guys still know how to roll with the youngins’. Why? These four could bust up Vegas any day, without having to get pushed in pools, or fistfighting bros, or seeing Freeman dance-shuffle to “September.” It’s a cry saying, “we’re still here, look how much fun we can have,” but nobody ever entertained the notion of them ever leaving. The wacky old men concept hasn’t just popped out of nowhere. In fact, some of the Last Vegas men are repeat offenders. The upcoming Grudge Match, starring Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro, is about two aging boxers who, quite literally, try to prove that they’ve still got it. It looks ridiculous and features a lot of jokes about how out of shape and old they’ve both gotten since their glory days. Why do the former Jake LaMotta and Rocky Balboa want to do this to themselves?

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Grudge Match

It’s the cinematic boxing match we’ve always dreamed of witnessing: Rocky Balboa vs. Jake LaMotta. It’s just happening about 30 years later than anticipated. But still! Rocky and the Raging Bull, together at last! Peter Segal‘s Grudge Match is a silly comedy starring Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro as aging boxing legends and mortal enemies. As Henry “Razor” Sharp (Stallone) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (De Niro), the boxers faced off twice back in the day but a tiebreaking match never happened. They’re bitter, to say the least. Fast forward to present day, and they’re looking to settle the score for good after a viral video spreads of them bickering during a video game shoot in their motion-capture suits. It’s kind of precious. Cue the insane workout montages and inevitable journeys of self-discovery:

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Jackie Chan

What is Casting Couch? It’s a column that has a lot of new casting news today, so settle in. Even after only two movies, the number of aged action stars who have yet to appear in Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables series has dwindled down to a select few. So, given his age, his lengthy resume, and the way he’s linked almost exclusively to the action genre, Jackie Chan has to be seen as one of the biggest fish out there that Stallone has yet to catch. It looks like that’s going to change in The Expendables 3, however, as Chan has told Cinema Online [via Coming Soon] that Stallone has invited him to join the cast of the film, and he has agreed to appear as long as it’s in a featured part and not just a cameo. Looks like we might finally get our chance to see Dolph Lundgren get beat up with a ladder.

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What is Casting Couch? Today it’s proof that if you star in something about sexy young vampires, you will continue to get more work. Warner Bros.’ Lego movie already had names like Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, and Morgan Freeman signed for its voice cast, thus making a stupid-sounding idea suddenly seem promising, but now they’ve really gone and made Lego into a movie that you can start looking forward to. Deadline reports that the film has just added Will Ferrell to its cast as the bad guy, President Business, Liam Neeson as the bad guy’s main henchman, Bad Cop, Parks and Rec’s mustachioed Nick Offerman as a revenge-obsessed pirate, and Community’s cheery-voiced Disney Princess Alison Brie as a member of the protagonist’s team who holds a powerful secret. That may just be the weirdest/most fun cast ever assembled, and it almost makes up for the fact that the movie is going to be in 3D.

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Michael Fassbender

What is Casting Couch? It’s where you go to make sure Elijah Wood is adding another new job to his calendar every day. Turns out, today he kept the streak alive, read on… Colin Firth and Michael Fassbender are two of the best actors on the planet Earth; objectively, inarguably. What a coup, then, that director Michael Grandage has landed both of them for his upcoming project, Genius. Based on a book by A. Scott Berg, Genius is a biopic that explores the relationship between Thomas Wolfe (Fassbender) and his editor Max Perkins (Firth). Turns out Wolfe and Perkins were great friends, but the kind who butted heads over everything. Sure, listening to two guys argue over word choice wouldn’t normally sound like a very exciting idea for a movie, but with these two actors on board it absolutely does. Add this one to your to-do list. [Variety]

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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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