Red

Directed by: Robert Schwentke

Synopsis: Based on the cult D.C. Comics graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer, RED is an explosive action-comedy starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren.

Frank (Bruce Willis), Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren) used to be the CIA’s top agents – but the secrets they know just made them the Agency’s top targets. Now framed for assassination, they must use all of their collective cunning, experience and teamwork to stay one step ahead of their deadly pursuers and stay alive. To stop the operation, the team embarks on an impossible, cross-country mission to break into the top-secret CIA headquarters, where they will uncover one of the biggest conspiracies and cover-ups in government history.

Release Date: October 15, 2010

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If you’ve watched cable television at any point over the last decade or so, chances are you’re familiar with what Movies on Demand is. They’re the company that’s teamed up with all the big cable companies, like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Cox Communications, RCN, Mid-Continent, and MetroCast, to bring one-click access pay-per-view movies to everyone’s cable boxes. Anyway, Comic Con is coming up, which means we’re starting to see cases of corporate synergy popping up all over the geek sphere, and the latest promotional deal is bringing quite a bit of comic book movie-related content to all of us non-cord cutters’ living rooms, including free supplemental features, coverage from the Comic Con floor, and more opportunities to rent geek-friendly movies than you can shake a stick at.

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Today is Grandparents Day. So where are all the movies aimed at Americans celebrating the holiday? Is it that we still don’t honor the occasion the way we do with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, even after 35 years of its existence? Or, is it that, in spite of always being proven wrong by movies such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Hollywood still thinks seniors don’t go to the movies? It might be a combination, though I did take notice the other day that the trailer for Parental Guidance arrived appropriately this very weekend. The comedy stars Billy Crystal and Bette Midler as a couple who have to watch their grandchildren while their daughter (Marisa Tomei) goes on a business trip. And the humor apparently comes from the elder duo’s generational disconnect from kids today. First question: Are Billy Crystal and Bette Midler are old enough to play grandparents now? Well, they’re in their mid-60s, which seems about right looking at it as someone who feels late to the parenting game myself. My mom and dad are in that age group, and though my kid is an infant, there are some people from my high school class already seeing theirs off to high school this year.

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Ernest Borgnine Oscar

Oscar winner Ernest Borgnine died Sunday in Los Angeles, according to Variety. He was 95. The consummate character actor was the oldest living Best Actor recipient (having won for his brilliant turn as a love-seeking butcher in 1955′s Best Picture winner Marty). Throughout his career, he played a wide spectrum of characters – getting to strangle Lee Marvin, calling upon his own military experience for several roles, and escaping from New York with Kurt Russell. He played towering figures and bit parts with equal gusto and shared a grand sense of passion and dedication to his art. There are more than a few of his films available to watch instantly, and Quint over at AICN (who had the privilege of speaking with the man) has a fantastic feature honoring Borgnine, There are few actors so skilled, humble and beloved. It’s funny, then, that is last role should be in The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez as a bitter old man looking back on a life lived without meaning. From the way fans, friends and family speak of him, it’s easy to see that that final role might be the furthest from his true personality. He will be greatly missed.  

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Criterion Files

One major misconception about Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors trilogy is that the films were originally and uniquely conceived as French films, reflecting the color of the nation’s flag through the color scheme of each film and embodying themes which based upon the motto of the French Republic: liberty (Blue), equality (White), and fraternity (Red). But Kieslowski was insistent upon the fact that the stories would have remained the same no matter the national context. The framing of these films through thematics and aesthetics tied to the French flag, the director states, arose as a matter of the trilogy’s source of funding. Thus, the thread which defines the trilogy was a creative accommodation to the circumstances of the film’s production. Kieslowski’s vision for these films, then, was firm, but not rigid – the particular details of this trilogy were not predestined or set in stone. This fact frees the viewer from seeing the themes explored in the Three Colors trilogy as predominately or uniformly based within a national and cultural context. Yes, there are aspects of the brilliant Blue (1993) that are indisputably French, or at least Western European (it’s hard to imagine Americans mourning a contemporary classical composer as a national treasure), but the rather arbitrary circumstances in which the film’s production reflective in the trilogy’s connective framework allows for these themes to permeate well beyond the borders of France itself.

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This was a hell of a year in The Criterion Collection. Between films about phantom carriages, angry jurors, beasts and beauties, stranded astronauts, international revolutionaries, and great dictators, Adam Charles and Landon Palmer found their wallets empty and their cinephilic obsessions sated. Here are their eleven favorite releases and upgrades of the year…

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This Week in DVD

Everything old is new again as two of the week’s best DVD releases are for films that are decades old including Giorgio Moroder’s 1984 redo of Fritz Lang’s classic Metropolis with music by Freddy Mercury, Loverboy and other 80s superstars. But don’t fret, there are also some solid new films to check out this week including Bellflower, Griff the Invisible, The Warring States and more. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Three Colors: Blue White Red (Criterion) Krzysztof Kieslowski’s thematic trilogy looks at France’s motto: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. Blue stars Juliette Binoche as a woman who suffers a terrible loss and attempts to free herself from life and its responsibilities with a kind of slow-motion suicide, but she instead finds true freedom through healing. Red features Irene Jacob as a young woman whose solitude is slowly shattered by unexpected friendships. And I have no clue what White is about. I haven’t even seen Criterion’s new set yet, but even a Criterion release of just Blue and Red would warrant an automatic purchase.

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This Week in Blu-ray

As you might imagine, This Week in Blu-ray is usually one of my favorite things to write during the week. It’s my chance to wax intellectual about something highly technical and lay down my absolute authority on the world of new-fangled home video releases. It’s an easy job, one that requires watching a bunch of great movies in high definition. Until we get to weeks like this one — weeks that are simply slow and for the most part, uninteresting. So I’m going to use it to debut a new article format. Here’s what is new, for those of you keeping score: we’ll begin with my Pick of the Week, because there is always that one movie that really deserves your attention. We’ll then move on to the usual sections (Buy, Rent, Avoid). Inside these sections you’ll find the titles I’ve had a chance to review (these will be the ones with pictures to accompany the reviews) as well as titles I wasn’t able to review, but feel confident recommending anyway (that confidence will come from having seen the movie in question). And at the bottom, you’ll see the list of other releases that, as always, are to be bought or rented at your own risk. My hope is that the new format will provide even more insight so that you can make informed Blu-ray buying decisions. You’ll have to let me know what you think. Red After seeing this movie for the first time this week, I cannot for […]

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This Week in DVD

The 83rd Annual Academy Award nominations were announced today, and while it was the usual predictable affair there were a few surprises to be found. Winter’s Bone doesn’t deserve a nod for Best Picture, but it’s great seeing John Hawkes’ brutal and brilliant performance get some love alongside Jennifer Lawrence. In news more relevant to this particular column the disturbing and darkly funny Greek movie, Dogtooth, has been nominated for Best Foreign film. It will lose to Biutiful, but it’s great to see it make the top five. And since it hits DVD (and Netflix Instant) today you can check it out for yourself! Titles out this week include James L Brooks’ classic film Broadcast News from the Criterion Collection, the visually rewarding and seizure inducing French flick Enter the Void, the all-star action romp that is Red, Ryan Kwanten’s Red Hill, the complete series box set of The Family Channel’s Zorro, and more.

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this shit late at night, what do you expect?

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In many ways, the end of the year is just like every other part of the year: we want to make lists. So we come up with lots of list ideas. One idea this year, like almost every year, is a list of the best action films. But this year, 2010, is special. This article is special. Why? Because this Year in Review article is going to kick off a brand new column that you’ll be able to rock and roll with every Wednesday in 2011: Bullet Points. Like The Coroner’s Report, Bullet Points will focus on a particular genre. I’m not talking down to you when I say that it’s action films,  though you probably guessed that pretty quickly. To kick off this column right and make 2010 just explode all over itself, we’re counting down our ten favorite action films.

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The nominations for the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards will have been out for almost an entire day by the time you read this, so you’ve undoubtedly had plenty of time to scratch your heads and wonder, “hey, what about that Coen Brothers movie?” And while we still don’t have an answer to that one, we can see that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (or HFPA, as they are known to their friends) did slip in a few surprises in their 68th year. Don’t let anyone say that they can’t still be hip. So here, along with a list of all the film-related nominees, is a list of five interesting and (sometimes) pleasant surprises.

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The Reject Report

Just as expected, DreamWorks Animation proved once again they are a force to be reckoned with in the world of animated feature films. Their latest outing, Megamind, led the charge this weekend, the largest opening weekend to the Fall movie season in box office history. When compared to other films in the DreamWorks Animation camp, Megamind topped the openings of such massive successes as the first Shrek, Madagascar, and How to Train Your Dragon. When also comparing these opening numbers, it seems a fairly safe bet that Megamind will both end up topping out around $200 million domestic and garner a sequel in the coming years.

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The Reject Report

As Admiral Ackbar so phlegmingly exclaimed, “It’s a trap!” You sit down in your seat at the movie theater to see the latest (last?) Saw film, you put on your 3D glasses, this triggers a wire to pull which drops a marble down a shoot which knocks over a pin which falls onto a switch which turns some gears which opens a doorway which allows a bowling ball to roll out which bumps into and starts a lawn mower which blows up and pops a balloon which causes a chicken to lay an egg which turns some more gears which opens Mikey’s front gate which turns some levers which opens a trap door which drops millions upon millions of dollars into Lionsgate’s pockets. That’s how that works. At least, I think it’s how it works. Maybe I shouldn’t be covering box office reports.

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The Reject Report

Two weekends in a row. Two cultural phenomena (as well as entries into a highly successful franchise) exploding into theaters. After Jackass 3-D broke October records last weekend, you might have thought movie goers would take a break, kick back as the weather gets cooler, and maybe carve out a jack-o-lantern. Nonsense, says the pool cleaner-hating demon! Get those people into theaters and let them feel the terror all for themselves. That’s precisely what millions upon millions of people did this weekend, as Paranormal Activity 2 opened to the fifth highest October opening in history. It now also holds the highest October opening for a horror film, beating out the $39.1 million The Grudge opened to in 2004. With a budget of only $3 million, you can be certain Paramount will be green lighting Paranormal Activity 3 in a matter of minutes.

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The Reject Report

The found footage demons have returned to the big screen, but they’re gonna have some poo jokes and 3-D beehive tether balls to contend with at the box office this weekend. The sequel to 2009′s surprise hit, Paranormal Activity, hits this weekend, but it’s placement at the top of the charts is not a forgone conclusion. A little film called Jackass 3-D is still riding strong in the wake of its record breaking weekend. Which of these “documentary” titles will end up on top? We’re not 100% sure, but, if we were the demon, we’d be watching out for flying feces.

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The Reject Report

Holy bungee jumping outhouse, Batman. $50 million can buy a lot of stitches for the painful stunts and soap for the gross ones. That’s how much money Jackass 3-D made this weekend, a new record for any October opening. We knew it was going to be big, and there was all likelihood it would end up coming out on top this weekend. However, now, in 2010, a decade after the original show premiered on MTV, the Jackass boys are riding stronger than ever. This could say so much about our nation. Do we like watching people humiliate, hurt, and horrify themselves for 90 minutes? Or is Jackass 3-D a welcomed release, the ultimate form of escapism that only comes our way every four years? This raises another question. Would the Jackass films be this successful if they were to come fast and furious like the Saw or Twilight series? Does that four-year gap between Jackass films help build the excitement for the next all the more, or does the gap stifle the sating of a public that would feast on it 24/7 if offered to them? The underlying, real-world implications and what this says about our culture (along with how this makes other countries view us) aren’t my forte. I’ll leave that to Landon. I’m just here to talk numbers, thank you.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr makes a complete and total jackass of himself by enjoying the hell out of Red and being more excited than he should about the prospects of Jackass 3D. He realizes that it may be the beginning of award season, but that won’t stop him from watching a movie about bodily fluids flying at the camera in 3D and getting mildly turned on by Helen Mirren firing a Gatling gun while wearing an evening gown.

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It’s been a long time since a single film has featured the acting talent assembled in RED. But if there’s one thing this halfhearted action-comedy proves, it’s this: even Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich (not to mention Mary-Louise Parker, Brian Cox and Ernest Borgnine) can’t enliven a story as deadly as that crafted by screenwriters Jon and Erich Hoeber, based on the Warren Ellis/Cully Hamner graphic novel. Co-opting the age old, out of retirement for one last fling blueprint, the film follows retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Willis) as he and his former colleagues are forced back into the game when government spooks try to rub them out. Heavily armed and dangerous geriatrics Joe Matheson (Freeman), the wiry and paranoid Marvin Boggs (Malkovich) and the distinguished Victoria (Mirren) assist Frank in some serious butt kicking, supplemented by quirky quips and knowing, wizened back and forth banter.

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The Reject Report

This week we are presented with a film that’s vile, disgusting, depraved, and whatever other hyperbolic keywords that might induce gagging throughout the audience. But, if you’re not someone who finds old people firing machine guns as disturbing or cringe-inducing as I do, then you also have the choice of watching the palette-cleansing melodrama of Jackass 3-D. It’s a horror-less weekend here just a few weeks out of Halloween, but it’s also looking to be the biggest weekend of the month.

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We realize that you’re probably sitting at home right now, chewing your own nails off and wondering what movies are coming out this month. Maybe you’re even wondering why no one on the entire internet has said anything about them by now. Strange, we know. Fortunately, Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius spent the entire month of September searching EBSCO Host, making phone calls to important producers and making fan trailers out of peanut butter and marshmallows to make sure that you, dear reader, are in the know about what’s coming out in October. Wondering why it’s a few days late? Because we don’t run it until it’s perfect. Or something. Anyway, just check out the movies to see what you wanna see.

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