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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cinebanter #104 - MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

The mp3 of this show can be found here.

In this episode, Michael and Tassoula imagine themselves in other eras during their review of MIDNIGHT IN PARIS. In the Last Five®, Michael discusses the must-see film of 2011, while Tassoula indulges in several silly comedies. Tassoula also provides her report from the recent Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). The breakdown is as follows:

• 00:00 Intro
• 00:32 Discussion of MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
• Break
• 11:53 To Sum it Up
• Break
• 12:36 The Last Five®
• Break
• 49:24 SIFF Report
• 1:05:59 Credits

Michael's Last Five in this episode were: MEAN GIRLS, SUPER 8, TURKEY BOWL, ONCE and TREE OF LIFE. Tassoula's Last Five were: BRIDESMAIDS, EASY A, THE HANGOVER PART II, SUPER 8 and AMERICAN BEAUTY.

Want to contribute to the show and help with production costs and server fees? Click on the "Make a Donation" button to the left of this blog.

Special thanks to Vincent Do, Brad Daane and Mark Cummins for providing the original music in this episode.

Tassoula has reviews, musings and movie-related product links at Tassoula's Movie Review Blog.

Reviews and/or notes of movies Michael sees can be found at his MichaelVox website.

Feedback is always welcome - you may leave comments here or e-mail the hosts at

We hope you enjoy the show!

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HOT COFFEE Debuts on HBO Tomorrow

Tassoula recently reviewed this documentary when she screened it at the Seattle International Film Festival (see post below). Now, you can watch this film starting tomorrow, June 27, exclusively on HBO.

Here's the trailer:

For additional content from, click here.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

SIFF Sighting: HOT COFFEE (Documentary; USA)

Everyone remembers the lady who sued McDonald's for her coffee being too hot, right? We all thought she encouraged frivolous lawsuits and tied up the court system with a meritless complaint, right?

Well, this new documentary by Susan Saladoff may actually revise our judgments.

In the film, we're shown (very graphically) the burns that were left on said lady (the late Stella Liebeck) and given an exact play-by-play of what really happened.

I left thinking that McDonald's definitely should've paid her medical bills, but still believing the first awarded amount was ridiculously high.

But that is just the first story in the film: there are more, and the rest are worse. What they all have in common are the injustices suffered by innocent people in the wake of big business taking precedence over human life.

If that sounds like generalizing, just see the film and see for yourself. Though the slant is clearly biased, it's hard to ignore the facts, even if they are sometimes unbearable to digest.

You'll undoubtedly be moved to take action.

Hot Coffee screened at The 37th Annual Seattle International Film Festival.

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Thursday, June 09, 2011


In 2006, one of my favorite films at SIFF
was Who Killed the Electric Car? Directed by Chris Paine, it was an expose presented like a murder mystery, about the rise and eventual demolition of the EV1 electric car.

The audience laughed (and sometimes cried) at what was put before them, then were encouraged to act when they left the theater. To write to the government. To boycott GM. To get mad as hell.

And something worked.

As if by magic (er, American auto industry collapse), one of the most staunch supporters of the old school—Bob Lutz of GM—changed his mind and became an advocate for the creation and revival of electric cars.

So, Paine brought the band back together and created this follow-up documentary, Revenge of the Electric Car, to bring everyone up to speed (no pun intended) on what has transpired in the past five years.

The update is (thankfully) good news about the progress electric car creators are making, and a look at how happy all of the consumers are with the finished vehicles.

Like the first film, there are celebrity appearances—Danny DeVito, Jon Favreau, The Governator—though Lutz is by far the most interesting person on screen. But unlike the first film, there is nothing here that holds everything together.

Sure, the topic (and political slant) is consistent, but what's missing is the fun gimmick of the 'murder mystery' in the first.

Of course that same theme wouldn't work well here, but going for a different, humorous theme may have kept the pace a bit more agreeable.

Basically, if you have interest in electric cars, you're sure to smile a lot throughout; but if you're going to the film simply to be entertained and enlightened, you may instead find yourself checking your watch.

Sometimes sequels just don't deliver.


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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

SIFF Sighting: THE OFF HOURS (Drama; USA)

It seems there is always one film at the festival each year that has me debating whether to walk out or not. This year, that film was The Off Hours.

Set in a small town near Seattle, the main character Francine (Amy Seimetz), is directionless, unintelligent, loose and broke.

The men in her life are her roommate/former foster brother, a truck driver who visits the diner where she works, the boss at the diner (always sitting in a chair or coming out of the kitchen to tell people to get to work) and one female colleague who doesn't serve much of a purpose. Yeah, that about covers it.

It's one of those films that has you counting the 'independent' tags throughout instead of focusing on the (sad) script. Late night diner featuring old, half-full, glass coffee pot? Check! Depressed town with no hope of recovery? Check! Woman trying to 'find' herself? Check! Alcoholic, deadbeat Dad? Check!

The dismal part is that the main actress in this film can truly act. Though I cared nothing for Francine or her supporting cast of lifelong losers, I really did believe her, and that's a credit to Amy Seimetz, who brought her to life. I hope she continues on and gets a part in something more matched to her talent.

Unfortunately many will mistake this pretension for art, and that unfortunately, it is not.


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Thursday, June 02, 2011

SIFF Sighting: KILLING BONO (Comedy; United Kingdom)

Neil McCormick was a childhood friend of the members of U2. Like Bono, The Edge, Larry and Adam, he had big dreams of being a rock star. But his path took a different turn than theirs.

McCormick wrote about living the life of Bono's doppelganger in his book Killing Bono, upon which this film is based.

The book is hilarious, smart, sentimental—even sad at times—but very satisfying. The movie is some of those things, but not all.

First of all, Ben Barnes does a fantastic job of portraying McCormick. As someone who has spent a few hours with the real Neil, I can safely say that Ben captures his essence and energy well. He sort of looks like him too.

The rest of the cast is fine (though Martin McCann could've dialed down his Bono a bit; especially in the earlier scenes), and overall the characters are well-drawn. It was especially nice to witness the final performance of Pete Posthelwaite, who the world sadly lost earlier this year.

The screenwriters took great liberties with the truth, which is also fine, except for one scene that featured a gun. It was unnecessary. The dots that your brain can't help but connect while you're watching it (especially with an earlier reference to Lennon's murder) take the film to a much darker place than it needs to go.

That said, at the end of the day, Neil's story is a fun ride, and the fashion in which it's told here is pleasurable in the simplest way.

If you go in for a U2/McCormick history lesson, you'll most likely be disappointed. But if you enter wanting to have a laugh at the expense of a relatable hero who is his own worst enemy, you'll leave with a smile.


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