Film, Film Reviews

Film Review: Pain & Gain

If there is one thing Michael Bay can never be guilty of, it is of not giving the people what they want. Based on a ridiculous true story, Pain & Gain is every bit the as glossy as it is muscle-bound; so inflatedly Bay that the ludicrous premise and wild characters are perfectly blended amongst the genuine, simple tone of its heart. Yes, it’s got heart.

Set in the sunset tones of Miami circa 1995, Pain & Gain tells the story of two well meaning, but frustrated bodybuilders (Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie playing real life convicts Daniel Lugo and Adrian Doorbal) chasing the American dream. Feeling trapped by their lifestyle but looking up into the stars, they concoct a ham-fisted plan to kidnap and rob a rich Miami businessman (played with menace by Tony Shalhoub). Along the way, they meet hulked up ex-con Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) and stripper Sorina (played in true exquisite Michael Bay fashion by model/actress Bar Paly), adding to the oft bumbling, hilarious, but all too serious crimes they commit along the way. This includes murder and dismemberment.

Yet as serious as the matter at hand, Bay’s saturated direction, fast paced action, slow motion tracking and some nicely placed T&A means you’ll spend most of the film laughing and having a great time than worrying about the victims of this terrible crime. You get a lot of shots from below (placed conveniently anytime a nice looking lady is wearing something skimpy), recycled shots from Bad Boys, and thankfully, dialogue that is required to be both dumb and stupidly hilarious.

Wahlberg as Lugo leads the charge as the less than intellectually astute ringleader of the heist, and while his muscles have stopped blood flowing to his brain, he is the most driven and forward moving character in the film. Give credit to Johnson, who amongst all his brute force, shines as a character that ends up being funny, warm and endearing in the end. We’re surrounded by a motley crew of recognized faces- from cameos to second stringers- Bay has compiled an extremely likeable cast that features Ken Jeong, Rebel Wilson, Ed Harris and Rob Corddry. All of whom never detract from the humour, spills, and pace of the film.

As the film concludes, there is an air of satisfaction to it all; the story is complete and we end up genuinely caring about those involved (yes, even the boneheaded criminals- which has drawn some controversy).

It’s been awhile since Bay let his ability to craft humour, action and sex in a likeable fashion without a great deal of computer enhancement. We forget that he’s good at the kind of buddy comedy humour he perfected in Bad Boys, and Pain & Gain is by far his best movie since (although one can argue the original Transformers movie has something to say about that). You can’t help think that Bay is still very much on top of his game.

Pain & Gain is bulked up, ‘roided, and pumped. It’s a little bit Bad Boys, a little bit Miami Vice, and a whole lot of funny.

Pain & Gain is now playing in Australian cinemas nationwide.

 

PAIN & GAIN
Directed by: Michael Bay
Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Bar Paly, Ed Harris, Tony Shalhoub
Released by: Paramount Pictures
Website: painandgainmovie.com

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Film, Sight & Sound, Trailers

WATCH: CBGB trailer

One of rock n’ roll’s most legendary clubs is getting the big screen treatment, and the first trailer for it has now made its way online. CBGB is the story of Hilly Kristal’s famed CBGB nightclub that vaunted to fame a gamut of punk, rock and blues bands through its history. Starring Alan Rickman as Kristal, the movie is a historical record of the names and acts that came through and made CBGB’s home- including Blondie, The Ramones, Talking Heads, Iggy Pop and Patty Smith.

While their music is featured, we get to see the Hollywoodized renditions of these noted characters, including Watchmen star Malin Akerman as Debbie Harry, Joel David Moore as Joey Ramone, Mickey Summer as Patti Smith and Foo Fighters’ drummer Taylor Hawkins as Iggy Pop.

Check out the trailer:
http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

This movie is either going to be really good, or really bad. As someone who has seen the fair share of CBGB-related documentaries, it feels as though the true historical legacy of the club and the bands will always be more interesting than a film version. The last one we saw, Burning Down the House: The Story of CBGB, was pretty good.

After much fanfare, the club closed its doors in 2006. If you’re wondering what the place is now, here is a photo we snapped in June of 2012 while we were hanging in the bowels of the Bowery. This photo makes us very sad.

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The second trailer for Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World has been released. The new trailer features more exposition into the sequel’s story; the reluctant teaming up of brothers as Thor and Loki fight a new evil. The film is the second instalment of Marvel’s ‘Phase 2’ following on the events of The Avengers.

Starring Chris Hemsworth (check out this photo our writer found of Thor in a mall in Indonesia), Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins, Thor: The Dark World is set to premiere November 8th.

 

Baseball

There’s (Still) Something About Alex Rodriguez

The Chicago White Sox have been an average team all year long. Coming in to August 5th, the toothless Sox had lost 10 games in a row, hampered by poor bats all season. Yet, the game this night was something a little different. Fresh from the announcement that Major League Baseball had suspended Alex Rodriguez for their part in the Biogenesis scandal, there was a buzz floating through the air at US Cellular Field. This buzz was, of course, because the much maligned Rodriguez would be making his return to the Yankee lineup, batting cleanup before his suspension kicks in on the 8th.

It’s been a bizarre season for Rodriguez, from his war of words with Yankees GM Brian Cashman to his continued drug scandal saga, it seems that everything we’ve talked about in regards to A-Rod has been about everything except for his baseball. But there’s just something about Alex Rodriguez isn’t there? After the announcement was made that A-Rod would indeed start the game at third, several thousand additional tickets were sold to US Cellular Field for the game, giving the Sox one of the best crowds they’ve seen all season long.

When the Yankees travel, their fans come to opposing ballparks in numbers, so it would be ill conceived to think that the additional thousands of attendees were all Yankee fans. Sure, probably a whole lot of White Sox fans looking for any kind of excitement at their ballpark, but probably a lot of people there to see the Alex Rodriguez trainwreck express.

At the preceding press conference, Rodriguez was still defiant, expressing disappointment in Major League Baseball’s decision to suspend him and the others involved with Biogenesis. He’s called his ordeal a “nightmare” and will appeal the verdict.

“What we’ve always fought for is the process and I think we have that and I think at some point we’ll sit in front of an arbiter and we’ll give our case. That’s as much as I feel comfortable saying right now.” – Alex Rodriguez

So what now Alex?

This series in Chicago could very well be the last time we ever see Alex Rodriguez play professional baseball in the Majors. His suspension, from August 8, running through the entirety of the 2014 season, will see Rodriguez around 40 years old when it’s all said and done, and with his declining skills, there’s probably little left in the exhausted tank. What a sad end to a career we all thought would be the shining beacon of hope crushing the giant melon sized asterisk that comes affixed to Barry Bonds’ career.

Rodriguez went 1-4 in the game, and the Yankees were crushed 8-1. The White Sox put an end to their terrible losing streak and not surprisingly, Rodriguez was not a major factor in the sporting aspect of today’s events. By the time the chorus of boos reigned in for his first at bat in the top of the second, Andy Pettite had already stunk up the mound and the Yankees found themselves down 3 runs.

Yet, here we are, all of us, talking about Alex Rodriguez and the end of his career. Still in the limelight and still drawing a crowd wherever he goes. It’s easy to forget that there were 12 other players suspended, but like with most of career, he was always much more to everyone that just hitting baseballs. Even as a shell of his former self, we can’t help but be transfixed by his traveling circus. There’s just something about Alex Rodriguez, still.

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Alex Rodriguez’s pre-game press conference:

http://player.espn.com/player.js?pcode=1kNG061cgaoolOncv54OAO1ceO-I&width=576&height=324&externalId=espn:9541555&thruParam_espn-uiautoPlay=false&thruParam_espn-uiplayRelatedExternally=true

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Having conquered the art of the screenplay, Juno-writer Diablo Cody steps behind the camera for the first time with her directorial debut feature Paradise.

Starring Julianne Hough (Dancing with the Stars, Burlesque), Holly Hunter, Octavia Spencer and Russell Brand, the film tells the tale of a young woman who lets go of her conservative upbringing after surviving a plane crash. Set in Vegas, the once tightly wound woman is set free to the backdrop of attempted alcohol consumption, “extravagant” tattoo art, and the desire to set free her spirit alongside a Vegas bartender (Brand) and a showgirl (Spencer).

The film is set for release later this year.

Just me or does Russell Brand come across as far less annoying than all of his previous roles? May actually be able to sit through an entire Russell Brand film.

Music, Sight & Sound

LISTEN: Mantra’s new single “Break Tradition”

Melbourne’s favourite goateed MC, Mantra, has debuted his new single “Break Tradition”. The rhymesmith’s latest track is from his forthcoming new album Telling Scenes, due September 13th.

An ex member of funk, reggae, hip hop outfit Illzilla, Mantra broke out solo with the release of his 2010 album Power of the Spoken, which earned itself ‘Feature Album of the Week’ on Triple J.

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