Sleeping with Other People - Review

R  |  95 min  |  Comedy
Review - Matt Mungle

**In select theaters September 18th*

SynopsisA good-natured womanizer and a serial cheater form a platonic relationship that helps reform them in ways, while a mutual attraction sets in.

ReviewAre Brie and Sudeikis strong enough character actors to salvage this meandering, poorly written, and completely uninspired sex comedy? Surprisingly, yes. In fact if you find yourself having to sit through this you will sort of gain a new respect for them both. But less for writer/director Leslye Headland. AS frustrated as you get with the repetitive scenes you find sympathy, somewhat, for the people in them.

Lainey (Alison Brie) and Jake (Jason Sudeikis) hook up for a one night stand in college and then do not see each other for over a decade. When they meet they find that neither has progressed at all in the world of dating and commitment. Lainey is still chasing after the same guy (Adam Scott) she was in love with in college and Jake just refuses to commit to anyone. They decide to become best friends with rule one being that they will not sleep with each other. Again. 

Both Brie and Sudeikis deliver solid and convincing roles. The subject matter could come off as campy or sophomoric but they both handle it with adult conviction. These are two people stuck in a friends zone but obviously destined for each other. They just have to find a way to see past all the other junk in their lives. 

It is written and directed by Leslye Headland who does a far better job directing than she does writing. The banter is too rehearsed and in no way believable. The wit comes across too thought out so that when delivered it seems deniable. The sexual moments may have seen cute and cutting edge in her head but play out as trite and out of place. 

This is an R rated adult film (for strong sexual content, language including sexual references, and some drug use) and I would not suggest it for a date night or to view with anyone you are not 100% comfortable with in a relationship. The dialogue and strong sexual content will be awkward for those newly acquainted or even certain mixed company


Interview with Karl Herbst - Hotel Transylvania 2

Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015)
PG  |  89 min  |  Animation |  25 September 2015 (USA)

I had the opportunity to chat with VFX supervisor of Hotel Transylvania 2, Karl Herbst. This guy is super legit in his field and I could have spent hours hearing him talk about his trade. But we take what we can get. Enjoy. 

Matt Mungle: Do you and your team have a special, personal celebration that you do opening weekend? Especially a film like this that so much went into. Is there something you guys do?

Karl Herbst: Unfortunately by the time we finish, everybody scatters. The team isn't together any more. Everybody is on to another film or even sometimes to another facility. Myself, Genndy [Genndy Tartakovsky - Director] and others who are on the film will text each other or email each other through the weekend as we're hearing the buzz and how audiences are responding. For the rest of the team unfortunately, everybody's moved on. The idea of everybody getting together and having a glass of champagne and say, "Hey, we did it." We end up doing that right as we finish and then we move on. Everybody moves on in some cases going right on to the next film that they're working on. 

MM: Let's go back in time a little bit then to that moment when your team put your final period on "Hotel Transylvania 2." Was there something in your mind when you first planned it, that you were, "Guys, we have to nail this. This is job one on this project." Then, at the end of the day going back and reflecting on that. Did you hit it?

KH: We obviously learned a lot in the first film. The first film was Genndy's first time doing full animation. He came in with a lot of reservations that we could actually get his style and do it. I think in some case he held back a little bit. By the end of that film, we knew that now from what we learned we need to go fix these areas, so that we can do this better next time. I think we hit some of them but not all of them. Part of it is letting the animators have a better sense of what Genndy's striving for. We worked on tools for that. 

Other areas were added support for cloth simulation, hair simulation. Those are very difficult to do in this style of animation. Then, we changed some of the rendering and lighting tools to not only the ... We're not trying to go for photo reel, but to give a little bit more sense of a live action lit movie when it's appropriate and then other times where it feels really graphic. Also, change our motion blur and not be physically accurate, so it gets more of the style of tree smearing that Genndy really likes from when he was doing stuff like "Samurai Jack."

MM: You talked about lighting which seems in most minds, it's like it's so ... Why would you have to light something that's animated? Is it so that we as an audience forget we're watching animation?

KH: Animation is drawing an outline and filling in, try it with color. In a lot of cases cell animation can take on having lots shadows cast in it and some sense of realism of how light would work. Computer graphics with the style that we're doing, we're building actual environments that are in essence scale modals of everything that you would have. We could actually build a scale model in reality of what this thing is and shine lights on it. That's what we do in the computer. A lot of cases though like in "Edge of Tomorrow," there you're trying to match physical reality. 

Here, we're trying to simplify that, so that we look at reality ... A really great thing is lens flares. Lens flares are something that happen when you shoot film or you shoot digitally with a camera. We want to use that because it's something that people know as a signature thing in movies, but we don't want one that feels like it happened for real. We want one that feels like it's designed. That's what we do. We try to simplify the shapes or designs the shapes to give us that affect of a lens flare that's done for animation. 

MM: Right. As we call them, the J.J. Abrams touch. 

KH: Yeah. Those were the real ones in those films. They use little laser lights that hit the lens with it to make certain types of blooms. Here, we're just designing our own to make that feel but not use reality so perfectly. 

MM: You touched base a little bit earlier when you were talking about hair and clothing. What were some of the obstacles and maybe some of the advancements in technology since the first one to this one that allow you to get that better texture so that it does look like you just draped the characters in something.

KH: Yeah. It's actually a combination of things. Again, we learned a lot on the first film. What we knew is that any sensibility to physical reality of how clothes work is not what he's [Genndy] looking for. That's a tall order for us because all of the things we use for cloth simulation especially are based on physics. We came up with a solution that's a blend of animation posing certain things and we might blend between that. We'll have the animation version of it where the animator actually sculpted it up into their pose. We'll run actual simulation just right out of the box without ... We're ignoring that. 

Then, we have tools where we can blend between the two. A leading edge of how a shirt [follow 00:05:25] across Johnny can be blended to the animation, but allow the back to flow. The difficulty with that Genndy style is the fact that anatomy doesn't mean much in the sense that Johnny can have really wide shoulders in one second and then have none at all twenty frames later. That would have basically turned his shirt into a potato sack that want to fall off of his body. We had to develop tools that could predict that stuff happening and re-setup what we call our sim garments along the way. It adapts to that so that the clothes wouldn't fall off or disappear. We're constantly learning, we're constantly adapting to whatever the goals are for our filmmakers. 

MM: From a personal perspective in what you do daily, has the technology made it easier or has it made it harder because it now makes you want to do more?

KH: It's both. I mean, there's areas that made it easier. The thing with it is, it's just a tool set. The artistry and the craftsmanship of what goes into these things is really ... You're always trying to make tools to make that easier but as you make that easier, the expectations of taking it farther goes up as well. Farther can mean lots of things.You can make a new piece of hardware that's twenty times faster and will bring it to its knees within three months. Right? We're always trying to go to that next level no matter what it is.

The craftsmanship in this film is a great example. We have a demo I think is going to go out soon that talks about how we animate in this movie, where it's three hours worth of work to make this one pose that Genndy really wanted for the mummy. We condense it down the three minutes, so you can see how much work goes into just getting this thing that's onscreen for three frames, four frames. 

You feel it when you watch it, but you have no understanding of how much work went into just that moment. Because to get that, you can't build rigs that can predict everything Genndy's going to want to do. There's a moment where the rigs that we do, the armatures that move our characters around, you can only go so far with those. Then, the animators are literally sculpting the model, it's like clay. That's where the complication comes in all the way through the pipeline which it brings up the artistry level for everyone else involved all the way down to where you light it and get it out in film. 

MM: It just seems like it would just be so laborious. There has to be an addiction and a drug, and something in this that drives you to go to the next project and go, "I want to do this again. As big a headache as this was and all the deadlines and the changes." What's that drug for you? When's that moment in the process where you go, "This is why I do it." 

KH: It really happens about the last third of the film. Because the schedules that we're on, how fast we're moving, it just feels like a massive adrenaline rush everyday. To be honest, those are days I can't wait to get to work. I can't wait to get in the screen room, see what we have for the day to talk about. Our days are long at that point. We go in the screen room at 9:00 in morning and not come out until 7:00 at night, just with a lunch break in between. I also know for myself personally, when we finish the film, I need two or three weeks to decompress. 

It took me about two weeks after I was out of the building when we finished that. You're standing there and you finally go, "Aaaaa," like that tension and get relief. That's also a time you start thinking about, "Okay, next time you got to this." You start applying that to the next project you're going to. I think we're addicted to improving image quality, improving the technology, makes that product and makes that performance better. We love it. Otherwise, I don't think we'd do it because it's really tough. It's a tough job to have. 

Finders Keepers - Review

R  |  82 min  |  Documentary
Review - Matt Mungle

**In select theaters September 25th**

Click here to hear my interview with Directors: Bryan Carberry and J. Clay Tweel 

SynopsisWhen his amputated leg is discovered in a grill sold at a North Carolina auction, John Wood finds himself at the center of a worldwide media frenzy. Believing the new-found attention to be his chance at doing some great things in an otherwise disappointing, wayward life, he's quickly swept up in the hysteria as the leg's enterprising buyer, Shannon Whisnant, then sues to regain its custody. 

Review: I will admit that I go into most documentaries a bit half hearted. It is not my favorite genre and it takes a quick, interesting hook to grab my attention and carry me through. FINDERS KEEPERS took about 90 seconds to lock me in and it kept me riveted for nearly the entire time. 

John Wood and Shannon Whisnant on their own are both interesting and entertaining pieces of small town Americana. How they both ended up in the same true life story is a question only the universe can answer. Wood is a good old boy trying to get his amputated leg back after it was sold in an auction. That alone is enough to make you scratch your head in amazement. Then you meet Shannon Whisnant. Hollywood has tried over and over to create the persona that is Mr. Whisnant. But once you experience the real thing, everything else will now seem mediocre in comparison. He is boisterous and cocky but so hilarious and sincere that you can't wait to see more. 

The documentary uses several archived news and television pieces to tell this true and remarkable story. The holes are filled in with interviews and on location interviews with John, Shannon, and their friends and family. If you lived in the North Carolina area during the time that this took place it is more than likely familiar. Seems that these guys were the top story for a while. And understandably so. Who finds a guys leg in a grill and then doesn't want to give it back? Or even better, who leaves their amputated leg in a grill in a storage locker?

This movie also uses the personal struggle of John Wood as the tendon that holds the bones of the story together. Take the leg away and his journey alone is one to study. But not so uncommon that it makes for a good movie. The moments spent on the sad and often depressing plot points rob the story of its light hearted humor. You want to laugh at the progress but John's story and even Whisnant's personal demons bring suck the wind out of the sales. 

FINDERS KEEPERS is rated R for language. Nothing more nothing less. John and Shannon are not afraid of the F bomb and it seems part of their daily vernacular. So it only makes since that it show up here. I give it 3 out of 5 high bids. The story and characters are worth the watch for sure. It is the Debbie Downer moments that keep it from being spectacular. 

Win tickets to see Just Let Go

For a chance to win a pair of tix for Monday night to Cinemark West in Plan TX send an email to giveaway@mungleshow.com with FORGIVENESS in the subject line. No cost or obligation. Tix will be sent to you via email before Monday afternoon.

Fathom Events, in partnership with Delilah Radio, Excel Entertainment and Propel Pictures, invites you to experience the inspirational true story of Chris Williams when Just Let Go comes to cinemas nationwide for special a one-night event on Monday, September 28.

On a cold February night in 2007, a devoted father of four and a seventeen-year-old drunk driver both received life sentences. In one violent, devastating instant, each faced a drastically different and uncertain future. But as Chris Williams sat in his demolished vehicle, staring at the car that had just caused the death of his wife, his unborn baby, his nine-year-old daughter, his eleven-year-old son, he committed to do something extraordinary: he would forgive.

Chris Williams’ story is the cinematic tale of how a person can forgive despite the retaliatory tendencies that surface within the dark corners of the human heart, showing the world that hope, love and forgiveness can overcome all when you let it go. In addition to the inspirational presentation of Just Let Go, audiences will be treated to an exclusive introduction from radio personality Delilah and a performance by renowned worship pastor and Christian recording artist Lincoln Brewster.

A Night of Forgiveness
Date: September 28, 2015
Time: LIVE at 8:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CT and tape-delayed to 7:00 p.m. MT / 8:00 p.m. PT
Expected Run Time: 140 minutes for entire event
Rating: PG-13
In select cinemas nationwide
For tickets and participating movie theater locations visit http://bit.ly/1N0ukU0.
JUST LET GO WEBSITE: http://bit.ly/1N0ukU0


Saint Laurent - Blu-ray™, DVD & Digital HD

R  |  150 min  |  Biography, Drama, Romance 
Review - Matt Mungle

Dive into the color and lush textures of the incredible life of fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent. Explore the mind of a creative genius, the intricacies that turned a haute-couture label into a worldwide phenomenon, and the glamour and decadence that followed Saint Laurent’s footsteps of fame and fortune.

It is rated R for graphic nudity/strong sexual situations, substance abuse throughout and some language. The film is in French with English subtitles.

Many have caught this on Netflix already but if you are a collector of unique and visually capturing films then this is a must own. 

It is a rock star story set in the world of fashion. Certainly an adult film but those who love their foreign flicks a bit tantalizing then this is for you!