Episode 23 – A Castful of Dollars

September 22, 2010

A Castful of Dollars (right click and “save as” for download)

Hola Gringos! It’s time for your favourite part of the fortnight… New Casta!

This episode we have reviews of the Other Guys, Cyrus and Tamara Drewe as well as the usual fun with the news, DVD reviews, Castamind and all that other junk.


For those who want to play along; here are the other ten questions from Castamind. Don’t forget to email your answers to mail@castalavista.com, the person with the most right answers will win an actual prize. No cheating please and the competition closes 22:00 BST on Sunday the 3rd of October.

1. Early in Dirty Harry leading up to the first occurrence of the now imortal words “Do I feel lucky? Well do ya, punk?” he says: I know what you’re thinking: “Did he fire six shots, or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself.

So… did he fire six shots or five?

2. What gun did Callahan use?

3.  In Sudden Impact whilst confronting the suspect during the hold up at the diner Callahan comes out with another classic phrase:   What is it?

4. Albert Popwell played the wounded bank robber in Dirty Harry.  He also appeared in Magnum Force, The Enforcer and Suden Impact: Can you name / describe any of the characters in the subsequent appearances?

5. What make / model of car does Callahan drive in Dirty Harry?

6. What is Callahan’s badge number?

7. What generally happens to Callahans partners?

8. What happened to his wife?

9. How much did Callahan say his jeans cost in Dirty Harry?

10. Which film is not primarily set in San Francisco?  –  Where is it set?


Guest Review – Going The Distance

September 17, 2010

I do love it when we get to post a review without doing any of the hard work like actually writing the damn thing!

Fresh from her amazing review of Sex and The City 2 and a cameo in the highlights reel from our birthday extravaganza, Katie Dimaline (my future Mrs Wakeman) is here with her brief thoughts on Going The Distance, the new romantic comedy currently doing the rounds in cinemas around the UK.  The film stars Drew Barrymore and Justin Long as two 30-something-successful-and-attractive types who meet each other at the wrong time in one another’s lives and find their relationship stretched across the country as one lives in New York and the other San Fransisco. Will love find a way? Can long distance relationships work? Is this movie even worth a hoot? Find out all this and more in the following 600 or so words…

When I sat down for Going The Distance I was expecting it to be what has become the standard for Rom-Com’s these days in my view- a film that I would enjoy but that overall would be a bit insipid and far too conventional! There have been a few notable exceptions for me over the last few years; 500 Days of Summer; Knocked Up; anything with Paul Rudd in it. And it gives me great pleasure to report that with Going The Distance I was pleasantly surprised! The film is full of real warmth and genuine affection, inspired no doubt by the real life chemistry between Barrymore and Long. Some scenes even felt a bit like a reality show more that a movie [Chris here- some of the outdoor scenes in the trailer had a very low-fi, documentary feel to them so I’m not surprised by this comment] which I thought was excellent as I do love feeling like a fly on the wall!

As a survivor of a long distance relationship I was on the same page as the characters from the beginning. The endless phone calls, the tiresome fights over nothing and especially the jealousy! I thought it was a good call of the writer to keep both sides monogamous- it can and does happen [that’s what she thinks!]! I think it would have cheapened the film if they had let Long go home with his work colleague. Instead they made the decision to let her go home with the crazy friend and that was genius! Again this decision underlined the sympathetic way the film was written; it rang true for the many couples who have dated long distance and made it last.

Much like in 500 Days of Summer, with its super performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I thought Justin Long played a blinder in Going The Distance. His combination of aloofness and chivalry is heartwarming and great to watch. The film is really all about Long’s journey to finding his true self and finding love along the way. The problem however is that audience’s may not go into it expecting that.

Chris tells me that The Switch is really a story about  Jason Bateman’s character however Jennifer Anniston is front and centre on the poster campaign. Going the Distance is much the same; Drew Barrymore is the star draw of this film in the celebrity stakes, however in story telling terms our hero is Justin Long. I can appreciate that the bigger name might bring in more box office, but talented performers like Long and Bateman are being undone promotionally when their performances deserve more credit and fame!

As far as the actual film is concerned Long’s journey is conveyed well; you get that this is his story. We don’t interact with Barrymore’s friends and Long’s two male side kicks are truly funny- a classic line being “this is not a moustache, this is a time machine”. Plenty of scenes are stolen too by Christina Applegate as Barrymore’s sister. Funny at the worst of times, Applegate is given plenty of scene stealing material here and makes full use of her brief screen time- including a masterful way of controlling her misbehaving daughter!

Finally, this film was not without its moments that had me feeling exasperated and shouting at the screen and at times it got really stupid. For example we see Long searching for jobs in San Francisco, but when Barrymore gets a job offer there he flips out and decides he wants their life to be in New York…WTF? This was a blundering attempt to throw some drama into an otherwise mellow film and a real misstep in what is otherwise a fairly enjoyable night out at the movies.

And it had a happy ending!

Cheers Katie! Another belter. I love the fact that there is no attempt made to remember character names- why don’t we do that more often Chris M?

Episode 22B – Get Casta (1971)

September 13, 2010

Get Casta (1971) (right click and “save as” for download)

We hate to disappoint here at Casta La Vista and so it gives us great pleasure to fulfil our promise from last week and give you a catch up of five movies we probably wouldn’t have got round to reviewing otherwise.

Sit back, relax and enjoy reviews of; The Girl who Played with Fire, Piranha 3D, Grown Ups. Dinner for Schmucks and The Switch. We’ll be back with a full episode next week.


Five (six) movies that cure my hangover…

September 13, 2010

Chris M wrote a few articles recently of films he likes that the critics don’t seem to and in the hopes of cashing in on his idea I thought I would unveil a few choice cuts of my own that I love that perhaps other people don’t like (or that at the very least aren’t considered classics). The following is a list of films that remind me of mornings after the night before; those perfect hangover movies that allow me to forget it’s past midday and I’m still in my dressing gown!

Daddy Day Care & Cheaper by the Dozen

I’ll start off with a double bill because these two films come hand in hand for me; most times I watch one the other won’t be far behind. I love Daddy Day Care, and I am man enough to admit that at least 80% of the reason for that is because the kids are just awesome. Classic lines such as ‘Can you hear me now?’ ‘I missed’ and ‘I can change it’ (taken out of context those lines are meaningless- tough, you’ll just have to watch it to find out why they’re ace) are made that much funnier by a preschooler uttering them- one of which is Dakota Fanning’s younger sister! Fact.

The other reason I like it is because for probably the only time this decade Eddie Murphy is also watchable and for the most part this is because he doesn’t try to be funny. He simply drives the story, letting Steve Zahn and Jeff Garlin do the slapstick stuff and the kids be kids.

And speaking of old hats being watchable there’s Steve Martin in Cheaper By The Dozen, who this time earns points with me by doing his whole sarcastic, pratfall dad thing. Plot wise I don’t know; stuff happens, the teenage kids go through some problems, the nerdy kid gets accepted, but mostly the film is an excuse to see just how bad it might be to be a father with 12 kids whose wife then goes away for a month. Worth watching just for Martin and Bonnie Hunt’s opening montage/voiceover explaining exactly how they made it to the magic twelve- and a hilarious sequence involving a bouncy castle.

Jurrassic Park 3

I can appreciate people ragging on JP3 because it is nothing compared to Steven Spielberg’s original but Joe Johnston’s 2001 follow up (let’s forget The Lost World) light’s my candle because it is probably the closest we have had to a decent B-movie style flick from Hollywood in the last 20 years- with the exception of Eight Legged Freaks; another classic! Forget the plot, forget the characterisation, this is 90 minutes (and its short too by action movie standards) of people being chased by dinosaurs ALL THE FRIGGING TIME.

It takes 10 minutes for Sam Neill and his gang to wind up marooned on island #2 (the island Allan Grant HADN’T visited the first time around) and from then on in it is one thing after another as the troupe make their way through the jungle to safety. Pretty much everything anyone ever wanted from the concept of dinosaurs-meet-humans if you ask me. Bit of a ridiculous ending, but I’m willing to forgive it that based solely on the T-Rex/Megasaurus fight about 20minutes in.

Surviving Christmas

Everyone knows that I have a special place in my heart reserved for Ben Affleck (and if you don’t know that then where have you been?) and so it makes sense that when I am at my most fragile I might turn to a film that showcases his capabilities and charm. Surviving Christmas is B-Fleck on top form. Ben plays a selfish marketing executive who in an attempt to find Christmas pays a family that includes James Gandolfini, Catherine O’Hara and Christina Applegate to accept him as one of their own and create for him the perfect holiday season.

Here at Casta La Vista we love a good Christmas movie and Surviving Christmas is to me what Jingle all the Way is to Chris M. I have watched this film in May and still been into it. Critically the film was trashed and people added it to their list of films that prove Affleck is a waste of space. But like any good fanatic I just don’t listen to reason and factual evidence and instead enjoy a group of actor’s clearly only in it for the pay-cheque create a film that perfectly imagines the cynicism and turmoil of the holiday season, before wrapping everything up in a perfect-love-story finale. Perhaps the lack of effort by the cast actually aids the story as their disinterest in the film works well with their character’s disinterest in the holidays. At least two classic B-Fleck deliveries mean that this is always a go-to movie for me. And his smile makes my heart skip a beat.

The Royal Tenenbaums

The thing I love about Wes Anderson’s early work in particular is that every time I watch Rushmore, Tenenbaums or Life Aquatic (not really as much with Bottle Rocket) it is that particular film that instantly becomes my favourite Anderson pic. I’m choosing Tenenbaums for this though because more often than not it is the Anderson film I’ll go to first.

The Royal Tenenbaums isn’t a particularly short film but for me it rockets by as I spend the duration anticipating what is about to happen next and trying to decide if the next scene is one of my many “favourite scenes of the movie”. Critics can argue that Anderson’s work has a tendency to be over stylised, but for me Tenenbaums is the movie that backs it up with top class performances and a wonderful story. Forget about praising the ensemble as a whole; this film is all about Gene Hackman and he gives one of his best performances in years. He IS Royal Tenenbaum; every loathsome, selfish and manipulative ounce of him. I love a good movie bastard, they’re so much more fun to watch.

I love this film because every time I watch it I find it more hilarious and I always notice something new. It’s a perfect hangover cure because it forces me to pay attention and rewards that attention with a new laugh each and every time.

Old School

I end proceedings with probably the ultimate hangover film in many respects; my generation’s Animal House. The film that created the monster that is Will Ferrell. The film that turned Vince Vaughn back into a comedian. The film that people forget has Luke Wilson in it. The film that introduced us all…to THE DAN BAND.

Old School has it all for my hangover cure; belly laughs a plenty; good quality slapstick; top swearing; great villainy (Dean Pritchard is a brilliant character); boobies; great music; ridiculous cameos and homages; even a whiff of social comment on what it is to be a white-collar male.

Show me a man who doesn’t like Old School and I’ll show you a prick- it’s that simple. This film kept me alive during my first term at University and to see people only now showing Todd Phillips kudos on the basis of The Hangover is to forget that 7 years before he showed us the beauty of Zach Galifanakis he had found a way to tap into the potential energy of Will Ferrell and deliver us Frank the Tank. A movie so crass and shameless it has the balls to save it’s romantic ending for the last 20 seconds of screen time, and even then make it look like an excuse for a quickie. Brilliant.

So there you have it folks. 6 films that make me smile with unadulterated enthusiasm and wonderment. For me these films are entertainment-cinema at its best. Everyone has a list like this in them, why not tell me yours by leaving feedback in the comments section below?

Episode 22 – Get Casta

September 7, 2010

Get Casta (right click and “save as” for download)

It’s a good job were both so brilliant, otherwise this episode might never have seen the light of day – both presenters are now officially banned from moving house. Forever.

This long supposed return to regular audio form features the usual mish mash of news, reviews and silly sound effects. Cinematic offerings reviewed this episode: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Expendables, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and The Human Centipede. We’ll be back next week with a short show with a couple more reviews we wanted to shout up about.

Plus hey guess what? Because I’m incredibly anal, the length of this episode is exactly one hour. To the microsecond. Take that… er… someone!

Five reviews I probably should have gotten round to writing already…

September 1, 2010

Here at Casta La Vista we see a lot of movies, and every now and then there are ones which we can’t squeeze into an episode. When that happens, it’s often the case that one of us will write a wondrous written review – sometimes though we don’t (i.e. I don’t) seem to quite get round to it and these movies slip through the net.

Well no more! Here are five movies I meant to write about a little closer to the time but couldn’t be bothered never found the opportunity. To ensure that these reviews are actually written and don’t get lost in the Ether forever, I’ve set myself a 200 word limit on each one.

1. Greenberg
Starring: Ben Stiller

I’m going to jump in outright here and say I didn’t like Greenberg at all. It’s one of those annoying indie “comedies” with annoying indie people in it which decides to not bother really telling you an actual story and tries to push this off as being something artistic or creative. Fuck off.

Ben Stiller plays Greenberg, a guy who is basically a socially inept dick. That’s about it. You get ninety plus minutes of awkward conversations and “off beat” social situations. Awesome.

The thought struck me halfway through watching this movie that I actually didn’t care for any of the characters at all – with the possible exception of Greenberg’s friend played by Rhys Ifans – and this only served to make proceedings even more tedious. I found this movie to be entirely tiresome and would recommend avoiding it.

2. Splice
Starring: Adrien Brody & Sarah Polley

Splice is certainly a film to split audiences; part horror, part thriller, part science gone wrong – it focuses on two scientists who splice together DNA from various animals and, in a forbidden step, add human DNA into the mix. The film then follows them and their attempts at hiding and dealing with their “creation.”

I’ve heard both very good and very bad things about this film, which at its most basic level is essentially an allegory for the trials of parenthood – for my part I wasn’t its hugest fan; the situation gets out of hand quite quickly in many ways quite aside from the expected, and it never really seemed like a natural progression of events to me; choosing instead to focus on the more sensational possible outcomes of the situation rather than on the perhaps more prevalent ethical questions surrounding the use of human DNA (although these questions are touched on).

Having said that though there were scenes which elicited a very vocal and physical reaction from me in a way that no other film has this year (I was literally hiding in my t-shirt shouting “NOOO” at the time) so if you’re up for something a bit off kilter and different to your regular “monster creation gone wrong” horror movies, then this might be up your street.

3. The Karate Kid
Starring: Jaden Smith & Jackie Chan

Much has been said about this film already, in particular regarding its (perhaps overlong) run length at two hours and twenty minutes, but not enough has been said about the quality of those hundred and forty minutes. The Karate Kid is immensely enjoyable and manages to distinguish itself from the 1984 quite satisfyingly.

Jackie Chan is on his usual form, although in a much more toned down role – you’ll see very little of his usual slapstick shtick here and one of my biggest disappointments in the film is that he only has one fight – then again it is against a bunch of kids. It’s Jaden Smith then who carries the majority of the film and if he chooses the right films going forward, he could easily be one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in five to ten years time; he’s just that watchable.

The run time does however present a sticking point – as Chris rightly said in his If I had Kids feature earlier this week, two hours twenty is somewhat of an ask for a family film; then again that isn’t much different to any film within the Star Wars or Pirates of the Caribbean franchises – I’d happily categorise this film with those aforementioned as an extremely enjoyable family film that benefits immensely from the DVD advantage of being able to pause it halfway through.

So much for the 200 word limit, but if the Karate Kid doesn’t need to stick to its recommended 90 minute length, I don’t need to stick to mine either…

4. The Rebound
Starring: Catherine Zeta Jones

The Rebound is a perfectly charming rom com starring Catherine Zeta Jones as a mother of two trying to re-establish herself both personally and professionally following a messy divorce. She meets a guy who’s a bit too young for her and then some stuff happens.

For the most part this is your standard quite enjoyable rom com fare, although the movie does baulk at tradition in the last fifteen minutes and it’s here where I found it to be the most brave (despite the characters motivations for their actions being somewhat questionable) however, all this hard work is undone in the last thirty or so seconds with an ending written to please the masses rather than in trying to stay true to the established characters.

For those who are in to their rom coms, this is certainly worth a watch when it comes out to rent – potentially even more so with a bottle of wine and a big comfy couch to watch it on.

5. Salt
Starring: Angelina Jolie

I treated myself a couple of weeks ago to a release day double bill seeing both this and The Expendables (review next episode) and you know what? I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. It’s a very competent chase thriller that manages to keep the audience guessing throughout its run length. Interestingly, although Angelina (as the titular Evelyn Salt) is the protagonist we’re never really given a full account of her thoughts or actions until the final five minutes – an interesting stylistic change from the constant expositional hand holding we’re used to experiencing nowadays.

Certainly this isn’t for everyone and potentially my enjoyment was bolstered by my extremely low expectations – I’d say this is certainly worth a rent or perhaps a 241 Wednesday visit if it’s still showing near you.

And there you go, I should have done that ages ago really shouldn’t I? As always if you have any thoughts or opinions on the above and would care to agree or disagree then jump in on the comments below.