Screen Junkies » jason ritter http://www.screenjunkies.com Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews Sat, 23 Aug 2014 02:25:13 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.1 SXSW Review: Bag Of Hammers http://www.screenjunkies.com/general/sxsw-review-bag-of-hammers/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/general/sxsw-review-bag-of-hammers/#comments Fri, 18 Mar 2011 22:28:03 +0000 Fred Topel http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=202577 First time diretor Brian Crano made a movie that holds up with Hollywood fare, so if his next idea is more ambitious he could have the chops.

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Film festivals have made me really sensitive to first time features. If a first time director on a truly low budget can make a film that holds your interest, that’s a victory. If Martin Scorsese made A Bag of Hammers it would be a disappointment, but director Brian Crano made a movie that holds up with Hollywood fare, so if his next idea is more ambitious he could have the chops.

Ben (Jason Ritter) and Alan (Jake Sandvig) steal cars by posing as complimentary valets. Warning, if your funeral offers free valet service, don’t trust them. Alan’s sister Melanie (Rebecca Hall) wants the boys to get real jobs but really, waiting tables can’t compete with stealing cars.

They rent their side apartment to Lynette who moves in with Kelsey (Chandler Canterbury), and it’s clear she’s neglecting him. Lynette tries to get work but employment agencies won’t place her with limited skills. So when she leaves Kelsey alone, Alan wants to take care of him. That’s his conflict with Ben.

So Bag of Hammers tells a story with a beginning, middle and end. Alan and Ben have a lifestyle, something shakes it up, and they resolve it. I don’t think the story of car thieves taking care of a kid is going to to the box office, but people will see it, they’ll like it, they’ll move on, but the film can play.

Sandvig, who also co-wrote the script, keeps things light with his one-liners. They may not be quotable to college stoners, but they’re entertaining. Ben’s conflicted attempts to become a purse snatcher are pretty funny.

The dramatic moments are powerful. When Ben breaks the news to Kelsey, Ritter’s performance is sincere. They never play the heartwarming child card so it’s not obnoxious. Ben, Melanie, Alan and Kelsey all have some traumatic stories to tell.

Shot on the Red camera, the picture totally holds up. On a big screen, it looks like a Blu-ray. It’s clear, it’s sharp. That goes a long way toward making it look like a real movie. Obviously they had a bit more money than the shoestring indies who make do with consumer models, but Crano uses the frame well.

When picking a movie to see, whether on a film festival schedule or at a multiplex or on demand menu, A Bag of Hammers is a good choice. I knew two of the leads before so that makes it comfortable, and it’s well done so not a bad discovery.

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Rebecca Hall Is Wearing A Waffle On Her Head http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/rebecca-hall-is-wearing-a-waffle-on-her-head/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/rebecca-hall-is-wearing-a-waffle-on-her-head/#comments Wed, 16 Mar 2011 16:41:23 +0000 Wookie Johnson http://www.screenjunkies.com/?post_type=Video&p=201896 This trailer for SXSW favorite, A Bag Of Hammers, is dripping with offbeat. Like that towel your brother keeps under his bed.

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This trailer for SXSW favorite, A Bag Of Hammers, is dripping with offbeat. Like that towel your brother keeps under his bed. Jason Ritter and Jake Sandvig star as a pair of con men with an expertise for quirky scams – like stealing cars from funerals. They befriend the abandoned boy who lives next door before Rebecca “Wafflehead” Hall‘s interference causes tragedy to strike. Way to go, Wafflehead.

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Mark Webber Pulls A Will Smith http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-news/mark-webber-pulls-a-will-smith/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-news/mark-webber-pulls-a-will-smith/#comments Wed, 26 Jan 2011 17:07:10 +0000 Wookie Johnson http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=22403 Actor/director Mark Webber is gearing up to helm his second indie film, a touching love letter to the bond that exists between a father and son, in which he's casting his real-life toddler. Classic Hollywood nepotism.

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Actor/director Mark Webber is gearing up to helm his second film, a touching love letter to the bond that exists between a father and son. In a move of classic Hollywood nepotism, he’s casting his own two-year old son to star opposite him.

A few other actors have been cast in the Scott Pilgrim star’s untitled film. Michael Cera, Amanda Seyfried, Shannyn Sossamon, and Jason Ritter will all appear as versions of their true selves in the film about a single dad raising his son after the mother’s death. Webber says, “I’m getting them to show a real side of who they are and smash that up with people’s expectations of celebrity.”

Well, good luck getting them to respect your kid’s work ethic, man. I mean, c’mon. Does he even have head shots? If he wants to make it in this town he needs to get his start mopping up porn sets. It’s the rule. Porn sets. Cough syrup commercials. And then, if you’re one of the lucky, an episode of “CSI.” No line-cutting. (THR)

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Review: ‘The Event’ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/review-the-event/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/review-the-event/#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 Maybe I’m being unfair, but it really felt like “The Event” was just blatantly trying to be “Lost 2.0.” I know some shows take a few episodes to get going, but that wasn’t it. The very device of the show is contrived to build mystery artificially, meaning if they just told the story in order, it would be a silly sci-fi show, but they expect it to be more mysterious in flashbacks. More after the jump...

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Maybe I’m being unfair, but it really felt like “The Event” was just blatantly trying to be “Lost 2.0.” I know some shows take a few episodes to get going, but that wasn’t it. The very device of the show is contrived to build mystery artificially, meaning if they just told the story in order, it would be a silly sci-fi show, but they expect it to be more mysterious in flashbacks.

More after the jump…

Each sort of ac break focuses on one of the ensemble characters, and jumps back in time to explain what led them to the point where we meet them. Now, that’s not exactly the same as each episode focusing on a character and flashing back to a backstory that’s relevant to their present story, but come on. It’s flashbacks and it’s asking you to believe that the further back you go, the more significant the character will be, when they didn’t really sell it in the present.

The elements of  “The Event” are: everyman Sean Walker (Jason Ritter) seeming to hijack a plane after a vacation with Leila Buchanan (Sarah Roemer); President Martinez (Blair Underwood) with his policy of releasing foreign detainees against his advisers’ wishes; criminal mastermind conspirator type Sophia Maguire (Laura Innes) and her government contact Blake Sterling (Zeljko Ivanek); Simon Lee (Ian Anthony Dale) is the panicked agent with ties to Sophia, trying to stop Sean while screaming into a cell phone like Jack Bauer; and Leila’s father Michael (Scott Patterson), who if I tell you more about might be too much of a spoiler. Those may not be official character profiles, but that’s all that I got out of watching the pilot.

So by starting with Sean frantically holding a plane hostage then going back to see him on vacation with Leila and then back further to see him asking Michael for his blessing, then seeing the family conflict from Leila’s perspective… that’s supposed to make us understand how Sean got involved in a desperate situation. It’s no better out of order. Either way it’s a cliché and just a boring way to start a new series. You find out who’s connected to whom but that doesn’t make what they do any cooler. The scenes between Sean and Leila do well establishing the young relationship, but everyone else is so cliché.

Skipping around the story so fast is not suspense. It’s fake. Create suspense where you can tell us exactly what’s going on and it still works. I suppose it’s creepy when Sean’s on his cruise ship and everyone suddenly acts like they don’t know who he is and he hasn’t been going to the buffet all week. That’s standard techno-conspiracy though. Remember in The Net when they erased Sandra Bullock’s identity? Now it’s happening to Sean Walker.

Something does happen at the end that’s supposed to compel you to keep watching week after week, but it doesn’t seem to carry any stakes. What happens in the end is weird, but it doesn’t impact the rest of the world like flashforward or alien invasion. I’m not saying I want a bigger special effect, but the consequences have to be bigger than just “something crazy happened. Isn’t that craaaazzzzyyyyy???” By the way, I don’t think that’s “the event” either, it’s just some buildup to the even bigger event.

Actually, what this is is "Vantage Point: The Series." Remember that Dennis Quaid movie where they showed the same event from all the different perspectives? Only all they did was obscure different parts of the plot from certain characters’ vision. So it wasn’t really a mystery, it was a withholding of information. These stories and subplots could be told in order, only then you’d realize it’s not much of a story.

When Sophia and Simon or Sophia and Blake talk about the conspiracy, they refer to “the event.” I’ll buy that professional suits speak in vague terms, but if the only reason the event is a mystery is because you call it “the event” instead of specifically what it is, that’s going to be a letdown. When you reveal what “the event” is, we’ll just go, “Ohhhhhh. So it was that, but you called it the event to make it sound like a big deal.”

You know, we’ll all end up watching “The Event” for a few weeks just hoping it turns into something. I’m just calling it now. If “The Event” ends up not gripping the nation and becoming a phenomenon, I saw it coming.

"The Event" premieres Monday at 9/8c on NBC.

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