Film Review: “Crazy Rich Asians”

CRAZY RICH ASIANS

Starring: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yoeh
Directed by: Jon M. Chu
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hrs
Warner Bros.
 
Romantic comedies can often be a dime a dozen with about as much substance contained in the atmosphere of Mars. Of course, there are brilliant, diamond-like exceptions such as 2017’s “The Big Sick” or 2012’s “Silver Linings Playbook.” While the new “Crazy Rich Asians” may not be nearly as creative or fulfilling as those movies, it’s still at least as good as an unpolished sapphire.
 
Directed by Jon M. Chu, best known for such “legendary” works as “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” and “Now You See Me 2,” “Crazy Rich Asians” is based upon the 2013 novel of the same name by Singaporean/American novelist Kevin Kwan. It begins in a flashback when Eleanor Young (Michelle Yoeh, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) is denied entrance into a posh New York City hotel when the white manager sees that she is of Chinese descent. What the racist manager doesn’t know is that Eleanor and her husband, whom we strangely never meet during the movie despite being very much alive, are the hotel’s new owners. It’s a scene that sets up her fierceness, which we later see in an unfavorable light.
 
Flash forward to present day when brilliant American economics professor Rachel Chu (played sweetly by Constance Wu, “Fresh Off the Boat”) is invited by her longtime boyfriend Nick Young (British/Malaysian actor/model/TV host Henry Golding) to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. However, charming Nick has not been completely forthright with Rachel when he reveals on the plane that he comes from a wealthy Singapore family, the scope of which she is too naïve to fathom yet.
 
Upon their arrival in Singapore, Rachel is swept away by a night out in Nick’s vibrant hometown with his best friend and his fiancé. Despite descriptions he gives of his family and their business empire, it’s not until Rachel visits her outlandish college friend Peik Lin Goh (Awkwafina, “Ocean’s 8”) that she learns just how influential the Young family is. The real problem, though, is not necessarily the vast gulf between Nick’s upbringing and hers. Instead, it’s the fact that she is an American of Chinese descent and not directly from China, which is something Eleanor is less than fond of.
 
So, between Eleanor and a myriad of jealous, petty Singapore girls who do everything they can to drive her off, Rachel has her work cut out for her if she wishes to see her relationship with Nick continue.
 
“Crazy Rich Asians” has nothing all that new to offer to the romantic comedy genre. It has all the prerequisite boxes you can check off like clockwork – resistant parents of one or both members of the couple; crazy, jealous exes; a goofy best friend that can always be depended upon; a goofy friend that no should ever count on; an impending marriage of some sort; etc. In that sense, “Crazy Rich Asians” is about as crazy as a block of wood.
 
Despite its stereotypical characters and plot we have seen a plethora of times in various forms, “Crazy Rich Asians’ still manages to be an entertaining flick. There are plenty of genuine laughs to be had, especially in scenes involving the hilarious Awkwafina and/or her character’s equally goofy father played by “Hangover” alum Ken Jeong. The romance itself will undoubtedly pull at some heartstrings plus there is a fantastic side story of eventual female empowerment that will make anyone feel good.
 
All in all, “Crazy Rich Asians” is a great date flick for any couple of any age, but don’t expect go into expecting to see something that truly separates itself from general, romantic comedy fair.

Crazytown’s Seth “Shifty” Binzer talks about new album “The Brimstone Sluggers”

Crazytown exploded on to the music scene in 1999 with their debut album “The Gift of Game”. The album spawned the single “Butterfly” which turned the band into an overnight success. After a long hiatus the band is back with a new single titled “Megatron” and a new album “The Brimstone Sluggers” set for release in the coming months. Media Mikes had the chance recently to speak with the group’s front-man Seth “Shifty” Binzer about the new album and single, the group’s reformation and their recent collaboration with the artist known as Boondocks.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us an update on the band’s new album?
Seth Binzer: This is a record that we started on about a year ago. Bret and I were going through some old demos and stuff and we thought it would be a good idea to put them out there. We went into the studio to start working on them and we ended up starting with a brand new song. From there we never stopped making new songs. The album ended up consisting of mostly new material with the exception of two/three songs. Those were songs that we started with DJ AM before he passed away.

AL: How did the song “Megatron” end up being the first single from the album?
SB: That song has really great energy and is just super fun. The whole vibe of the song is something that I think listeners will really enjoy when they hear it. This track was one of those that just sort of happened while we were in the studio. We were all excited when heard it so that’s really how it ended up being the first one we decided to release.

AL: What was it that sparked your interest to do a new Crazytown album?

SB: It was a mixture of things. Both Bret and I had gone through a lot of stuff and during that time gotten clean. We were both in a really great creative place where we both wanted to start making new music. I think Brett was a little more skeptical about starting back out than I was but once things got going it worked out great.

AL: You worked with an artist by the name of Boondocks. Can you tell us about the relationship?
SB: Boondocks is one of our crazy friends. He’s just a hilarious guy who also happens to be a military veteran. We met him thorough some mutual friends at Sullivan’s Clothing. He did a remix that I was really into so I started hitting him up on Instagram to come work with us. Everything sort of went forward from there.

AL: How did things work in the studio once you were there?
SB: It’s a pretty organic setting. Sometimes I just hear a riff or lyrics and create a song off of that idea but most times Brett usually comes up with a beat and then I will start thinking about lyrics and such. Boondocks was there while we were working as well so he would come up with things as well. Sometimes we would start with a guitar riff and go from there other times we would have lyrics and start that way.

AL: Are there plans to get out on the road in support of the release?
SB: We have a show in March with Yelawolf in San Diego and from there we have shows in Mexico City and a few other places. Things are sounding really great during rehearsals and its going to be good to get back up there on stage.

AL: What do you think will draw fans back to the band after being out of the scene for some time now?
SB: If they liked what Crazytown did with earlier stuff then they are going to like what we have going on now. Brett and I have developed as song writers and as people. Also this time around we didn’t have people telling us what we had to do with our sound. This is a record we wanted to make.

Product Review “Animated Crazy Eyes Candy Bowl”

One week till Halloween! But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still time for decorations! I recently made a trip to a Cracker Barrel location and came across a fantastic new product, which is the Animated Crazy Eyes Candy Bowl. I was walking around the Old Country Store with my two year old daughter, who ended up starring at this candy bowl and just laughing and I knew I had to have this for her. As much as I love scary Halloween decoration it is always great to have fun options as well.

This Frankenstein-themed candy bowl is not just a regular dish though, it is motion-activated that senses when a sneaky hand is getting ready to raid the candy stash. Honestly, this works great for us as well since we are able to keep an eye on your daughter when she heads over and tries to grab an extras piece.

The product features moving eyes back and forth and a little surprise at the end of each session. There are two modes for this candy dish, there is a “Try Me” mode, which only runs when you push a button on the top of the Frankenstein head. Then of course, there is the full on motion mode, which is the most fun. If you don’t live near a Cracker Barrel location, you can still pick this great item up online for only $14.99, click here.

 

CD/DVD Review: Motorhead “The World is Ours- Vol. 2- Anyplace Crazy as Anywhere Else”

Motorhead
“The World is Ours- Vol. 2- Anyplace Crazy as Anywhere Else”
Motorhead Music
Producer: David Pattenden
Music Tracks: 28
DVD Tracks: 28

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Motorhead are back with a brand new live CD/DVD/Blu-Ray release titled “The World is Ours- Vol. 2- Anyplace Crazy as Anywhere Else”. The release features 2 audio CD’s and both the DVD and Blu-Ray formats of the concerts featured on the audio discs. Produced by David Pattenden and released via Motorhead Music “The World is Ours- Vol. 2- Anyplace Crazy as Anywhere Else” is jammed packed with one louder goodness from start to finish.

Picking up where the bands 2011 live release “The World is Ours- Vol. 1 Everywhere Further Than Everywhere Else” left off Vol.2 takes things a step further with the big bonus being the 4 disc packaging which includes both standard DVD and HD Blu-Ray formats of the concert footage. The release includes performances from the bands 2011 Wacken Open Air Festival, Sonisphere and Rock in Rio appearances. Though the track listings of Vol. 1 and 2 are quite similar there is still enough different material contained on Vol. 2 to make it worth picking up. A definite nod should be given to mixer Cameron Webb who did a wonderful job with each of the 28 tracks. Songs such as “Iron Fist”, “The Chase is Better Than the Catch” and “Killed by Death” jump out of the speakers making you feel like you are in the front row. Lemmy’s vocals sound crisp and clear which only adds to the listening experience. When it comes to the video portion of the release be prepared to go to 11. Both DVD and Blu-Ray versions of the corresponding shows feature stunning visuals and great camera angles which capture all the non-stop action from both the band and the audiences view points.

Though I would have liked to have seen more in the way of special features in the video portion and possibly a bit more variation in the set lists the release is still a really great package plus I don’t think you can ever go wrong with multiple versions of “Ace of Spades” being included on the same album. If you want the live Motorhead experience without leaving the comfort of your living room “The World is Ours- Vol. 2- Anyplace Crazy as Anywhere Else” is going to be about as close as you can get.

Disc 1 CD Track Listing:
Wacken Open Air Festival
1.) Iron Fist
2.) Stay Clean
3.) Get Back in Line
4.) Metropolis
5.) Over the Top
6.) One Night Stand
7.) Rock Out
8.) The Thousand Names of God
9.) I Know How to Die
10.) The Chase is Better Than the Catch
11.) In the Name of Tragedy
12.) Just ‘Cos You Got the Power
13.) Going to Brazil
14.) Killed by Death
15.) Bomber

Disc 2 CD Track Listing:
Wacken Open Air Festival
1.) Ace of Spades
2.) Overkill
Sonisphere Festival
3.) Iron Fist
4.) I Know How to Die
5.) In The Name of Tragedy
6.) Killed by Death
7.) Ace of Spades
8.) Overkill
Rock in Rio
9.) Stay Clean
10.) Over the Top
11.) The Chase is Better Than the Catch
12.) Going to Brazil
13.) Killed By Death

DVD/Blu-Ray Track Listing:
Wacken Open Air Festival
1.) Iron Fist
2.) Stay Clean
3.) Get Back in Line
4.) Metropolis
5.) Over the Top
6.) One Night Stand
7.) Rock Out
8.) The Thousand Names of God
9.) I Know How to Die
10.) The Chase is Better Than the Catch
11.) In the Name of Tragedy
12.) Just ‘Cos You Got the Power
13.) Going to Brazil
14.) Killed by Death
15.) Bomber
16.) Ace of Spades
17.) Overkill

Sonisphere Festival
1.) Iron Fist
2.) I Know How to Die
3.) In The Name of Tragedy
4.) Killed by Death
5.) Ace of Spades
6.) Overkill

Rock in Rio
1.) Stay Clean
2.) Over the Top
3.) The Chase is Better Than the Catch
4.) Going to Brazil
5.) Killed By Death

Bonus Feature:
Festival Impressions W:O:A

 

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DVD Review “Like Crazy”

Directed by: Drake Doremus
Starring: Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Running Time: 90 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

“Like Crazy” starts off very well and draws you into the story and its characters but then leaves you very disappointed. I would have love to see more a better conclusion with this film. I am not sure if it just lost direction or focus. The romance is strong in the beginning but then looses its spark quickly. The acting though is superb and includes great performances from Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin.

The film follows the first real love between a British college student (Felicity Jones) and her American classmate (Anton Yelchin). During a short period the couple falls deep in love and are inseparable. When she violates her visa in order to stay a few more weeks before returning home, the real challenges are presented to the couple. They are unable to reunite due to issues with her re-entering the US due to visa issues. From there the couple needs to find how strong there relationship is and what they need to do to stay together.

The only special feature included on the DVD is a commentary track by director Drake Doremus, editor Jonathan Alberts and cinematographer John Guleserian. Worth a listen if you enjoyed the film otherwise passable. the Blu-ray contains a bunch more special features including deleted and alternate scenes both with pptional commentary.

Book Review “Crazy 4 Cult: Cult Movie Art”

Author: Gallery 1988
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: June 21, 2011

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I am going to start this review, very simply, if you’re a film nerd…this is required for you to purchase. If you are unaware of the annual LA, Crazy 4 Cult art show, you are probably not a good film nerd. This event caters to thousands of visitors, including high profile buyers like Kevin Smith and Edgar Wright. This is jam backed with various of our favorite pop culture films and character re-imagined in various forms are art. Honestly this book contains some of the coolest movie based artwork I have ever seen.

This beautiful hardcover coffee table book showcases the best of the first four years of the show. It features art inspired by movies like “Jaws”, “The Big Lebowski”, “Edward Scissorhands”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “The Shining”, “Tron”, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, “Office Space” and “The Evil Dead” series. Those are just some of my favorites, but honestly if I would list every single one of my favorites this review would be ten pages long. Plus I really enjoyed just flipped through this book and discovering all these great images. I encourage

What I really like most about this book is that the images are not limited to just paintings, there are dolls and even matches dressed and turned into crazy cult art. I really want to commend each and every artist who contributed to these pieces of art because they are so creative and imaginative. It honestly gives a new and fresh perspective on our favorite cult films. I really look forward to the next release of art from Gallery 1988, in fact they have a yearly calender that is also released if you need more cult movie art.

Film Review “Like Crazy”

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones and Jennifer Lawrence
Directed by: Drake Doremus
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 30 mins
Paramount Vantage

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

There have been countless movies about young love. From “Romeo and Juliet” (the one from 1968) to “The Notebook,” the notion of two people at the beginning of what they hope will last forever has been a popular topic. Built on two very strong performances, “Like Crazy” joins the list.

Jacob (Yelchin) and Anna (Jones) are Los Angeles based students that share a college class. Jacob, who is hoping to be a furniture designer, has exchanged glances with aspiring writer Anna, but hasn’t been able to work up the courage to ask her out. One day after class he finds a note from Anna on his windshield. “PS,” she adds, “I’m not a nutcase.” After an evening out where they discover a taste for whiskey and a love for Paul Simon, the two become inseparable. Their romance has one drawback. Anna is English and soon her student visa will run out. She promises to return in the fall on a work visa but, in a spontaneous decision (and what is young love if not spontaneous) she decides to just stay in the US. The things some will do for love.

Told in close-ups and slow fades, “Like Crazy” is a film that begins strong and kind of limps to an ending that mystified me. Like the recent “Martha Marcy May Marlene” the film moves along on the back of a strong performance (two here) then just stops dead. Which is disappointing because, when it’s on track, the film shamelessly captures and revels in the marvels of young love. Nervous laughter that turns into giggles. Casual glances and stuttering during small talk. Those are sure signs that you’re falling in love. The film takes a harsh turn when, because she overstayed her student visa, Anna is barred from returning to the United States, even as a tourist. She and Jacob pledge to be true but soon their phone calls are ending in a quick “Bye” instead of a breathless “I love you.” Both find others to spend time with but on the rare occasions they’re together (Jacob visits England) they begin to rekindle the old spark. But though absence makes the heart grow fonder sometimes it makes it forgetful.

Director Doremus, who co-wrote the film with Ben York Jones, shows a fine hand with character development. His camera lingers almost as if spying on Jacob and Anna as their relationship grows. During an early date at an outside café, rather than show them in a standard two-shot, or just cut back and forth in the same scene, he frames both of them separately. Even though you know they are sitting across the table from each other, they could be in separate rooms. Both stars give well crafted performances. Yelchin, probably more known for the recent “Star Trek” reboot and the recent “Fright Night” remake, hits the right notes as a young man whose life is turned upside down thanks to that funny thing called love. Felicity Jones is equally strong. Almost docile at first she rides an emotional rollercoaster as the relationships in her life move along. Solid supporting work is also turned in by “Winter’s Bone” star Lawrence and “Twilight” saga’s Charlie Bewley as other players in the game.

 

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Blu-ray Review “Crazy, Stupid, Love”

Starring: Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling
Directed by: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Distributed: Warner Brothers
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 118 minutes

Overall Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Crazy, Stupid, Love” is definitely well written and reminds me of the way I felt when I left the theaters for “Love Actually” (which is my favorite romantic comedy of all-time). I am not the biggest fan of Steve Carell and Julianne Moor, who are obviously the stars, but they are not too bad in this. The saving grace though is Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, who I absolutely love. They are both fantastic. Also notable supporting role needs to go to the simply hilarious Josh Grobon. I was not a major fan of Ficarra and Requa’s first film “I Love You Phillip Morris” but this one is definitely a good improvement.

The Blu-ray picture is decent but isn’t anything special since it is just a comedy.  It is clear though and the sound also is notable plays a nice balance between the score and the vocals. The special features included on this are actually pretty baron and does not even include a commentary from this high profile cast. The main extra is about 12 minutes of deleted scenes. Don’t get me wrong though these are some really great laugh-out-loud scenes which could have been put in the film but probably cut to keep it under two hours. The next extra is definitely passable called “The Player Meets His Match”, waste of time. The next one is fun but nothing special called “Steve and Ryan Walk Into a Bar”.

Synopsis: At fortysomething, straight-laced Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is living the dream: good job, nice house, great kids and marriage to his high school sweetheart. But when Cal learns that his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore), has cheated on him and wants a divorce, his “perfect” life quickly unravels. Worse, in today’s single world, Cal, who hasn’t dated in decades, stands out as the epitome of un-smooth. Now spending his free evenings sulking alone at a local bar, the hapless Cal is taken on as wingman and protégé to handsome, thirtysomething player Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling). In an effort to help Cal get over his wife and start living his life, Jacob opens Cal’s eyes to the many options before him: flirty women, manly drinks and a sense of style that can’t be found at Supercuts or The Gap. Cal and Emily aren’t the only ones looking for love in what might be all the wrong places: Cal’s 13-year-old son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo), is crazy about his 17-year-old babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), who harbors a crush on Cal. And despite Cal’s makeover and his many new conquests, the one thing that can?t be made over is his heart, which seems to keep leading him back to where he began.

 

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Film Review “Crazy, Stupid, Love”

Starring:  Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling
Directed by:  Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Rated:  PG 13
Running time:  1 hour 58 mins
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Fans of the television program “The Office” (the US version) were pretty sad this season when Steve Carell left the show.  After seven successful seasons Carell decided to do what countless actors have done before:  make that successful transition from tv star to MOVIE STAR!  In the past Carell has done some solid work in comedies like “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and “Anchorman,” as well as showing some serious chops in “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Dan In Real Life.”  Many actors before Carell have taken that big step.  From Clint Eastwood, Ryan O’Neal and Tom Selleck (good choice) to Shelly Long and David Caruso (not so good), many have taken that great leap only to land hard.  Not Carell.  As a man who must learn how to deal with all that life throws at him after his wife asks for a divorce, Carell gives, in my opinion, the best performance of his career.

Cal (Carell) and Emily (Moore) have been married for two plus decades.  One night at dinner, unable to decide what they want, Cal suggests they count down from three and then say it out loud.  Cal is floored when Emily orders “a divorce.”  He moves out of the house, leaving behind two very sweet children, Molly (Joey King) and Robbie (Jonah Bobo, truly the emotional heart of the film).  While drinking away his sorrows in the local singles bar Cal is befriended by Jacob (Gosling), who can see in Cal a defeated man who needs to discover life again.  While helping Cal Jacob is mystified by a beautiful woman (Stone) who resists his advances.  By the time the film is over, everyone will have, hopefully, found what they were looking for.

Brilliantly written by Dan Fogleman, “Crazy, Stupid, Love” is the perfect romantic comedy and the best one to come along since “Love Actually.”  The characters are fully developed and as you watch them you can easily identify them as someone you know.  It also helps that the film is perfectly cast.  As I mentioned above, the sky is the limit for Steve Carell on the big screen.  He proves himself a true romantic leading man here, as well as a fine actor.  Same with Gosling.  So great in heavier roles like “Half Nelson,” which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor and “Blue Valentine,” which criminally didn’t,  here he gets to have a few laughs, some at his expense.  Like Matt Damon before him, Gosling is beginning to become one of my favorite actors to watch on screen.  Moore and Stone are also strong characters, a rarity in this genre’.  The supporting cast, including Kevin Bacon, Marisa Tomei, Analeigh Tipton and a hilarious Josh Grobin, help the film maintain it’s fast pace.  But it is young Mr. Bobo that surprises with a performance that belies his 14 years.  His Robbie, more than anyone else in the film, has a handle on what love is and how it should be. And everything is held together by the strong direction of Ficarra and Requa, who crafted last year’s “I Love You Phillip Morris” with a deft hand.  No sophomore slump here!

In a summer of romantic comedies both good and bad, it’s nice to see that Hollywood saved the best for last.