Ellison & Penley: Episode 5
Ellison: Good evening everybody and this is the newest episode of Ellison & Penley. I'm Estefan Ellison.
Penley: And I'm Will Penley.
Ellison: Both of us have really been hitting the multiplexes lately so we will be talking about quite a few new releases, but we start off with a classic film from the 1970's. The controversial A Clockwork Orange, directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Malcolm McDowell is an intriguing film set in the near-future, involving a gang of "droogs" led by Alex De Large. They're constantly raping defenseless women and beating up old women for their enjoyment, but when Alex is arrested and taken to prison, he gets brainwashed and his life changes forever. This is a stunning film and that's all thanks to Kubrick's stunning direction and screenplay, which stand as his best work yet. However, Malcolm McDowell is also fantastic as Alex and gives one of the best performances of all-time that can gladly stand along the work of Nicholson in Cuckoo's Nest, Brando in The Godfather and Seymour Hoffman in Capote. Thumbs up! Viddy well, brother?
Penley: Viddy viddy well, huge thumbs up for me! I agree, McDowell is amazing as Alex and he really should have won an Oscar for this film. The screenplay is clever and inventive, incorporating an entirely new form of language into the film. Some may find this film disturbing, but I found it to be quite a wild ride.
Ellison: It is indeed a wild ride and I also must mention the camera work, which also deserves some attention.
Penley: Yes, the cinematography is fantastic. Just the opening shot is proof of that.
Ellison: And as a fan of classical music, I must commend Kubrick's excellent choice of music, especially the William Tell Overtue. Of course, he already proved his great taste to me with 2001: A Space Odyssey. Now moving on to current films, we have the animated film Over the Hedge. With winter now over, a group of animals wakes up from hibernation to find that their little forest is now surrounded by a town filled with humans. To help them, they enlist the help of RJ, a racoon with a dark secret. The only one who doesn't trust him is the main animal, a turtle named Shelby. Now, PDI Animation has only really impressed me with the Shrek films, but here is another good film they can add to their roster. What really puts this above the disappointing Shark Tale and Madagascar is the voice work. The actors actually fit the characters and some don't even sound like their real-life counterparts, most notably the always hilarious Steve Carell as a hyperactive squirrel. Thumbs up.
Penley: My favorite aspect of this film was the devilishly clever screenplay that's loaded with social commentary, most notably in the scene in which RJ describes a kitchen table as "the place where they worship the food." The animation and voice work are great, and this is currently my choice for Best Animated Film of '06 (yes, it IS better than Cars). Big thumbs up!
Ellison: But as we reveal later on the show, not the funniest. But yes, I agree, this is a good film that the whole family will enjoy.
Penley: Moving on to...lesser fare, we have Bryan Singer's highly-anticipated Superman Returns in which we find Clark Kent returning to Earth after disappearing to search for possible survivors from the destruction of Krypton. Upon his return, he finds that former flame Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has moved on with her life and is engaged to the successful Richard White (James Marsden). But that's the least of his worries, as villainous madman Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) has a brand-new scheme up his sleeve that could endanger the entire world. My God, why was this even made?! They must be joking, right? This is one of the absolute worst films I've ever seen. All of the performances are awful. Brandon Routh was completely miscast, as was Kate Bosworth. The immensely talented Kevin Spacey isn't even that great! What has happened here? The film is completely uninteresting and not entertaining at all. Even though it's just a follow-up to Superman II, they really should have re-introduced audiences to the Man of Steel. There is zero character development whatsoever. People who haven't seen the original masterpieces will probably be totally lost. I really would have liked it if they just re-started the Superman franchise as they did with last year's great Batman Begins. Superman Returns is dull, lifeless, boring, overlong and it has an awful, awful ending. This piece of garbage has Razzie written all over it. One of the year's worst, though that isn't saying much. Christopher Reeve is rolling in his grave (God rest his soul).
Ellison: Well, I liked it. I thought Brandon Routh gave a fantastic performance and Kevin Spacey was pretty good too. Now, I agree with you that Kate Bosworth didn't have the spunk that Margot Kidder had with the original and it doesn't reach the excitement of the first one, but the special effects were very well done. Thumbs up.
Penley: Now, I admit Spacey was pretty good, but Brandon Routh seemed to be just copying Reeve.
Ellison: However, about restarting the franchise, the thing is it would be a remake of the original. Tim Burton's Batman didn't start at the beginning, which was why Nolan did so. I've also read some people calling Luthor's plot silly, but aren't all super villain's plots silly. Doc Ock's plan was't that great either (but Spider-Man 2 is miles better than Superman Returns). Plus you have to admit that Parker Posey was very funny.
Penley: I did like her performance, it was one of the few saving graces of this awful, awful film. Big thumbs down for me. Go rent the '78 Superman instead.
Ellison: I agree with that last statement. Superman is the best superhero film ever made. Now, what is the final review of the series, mon frere?
Penley: Kevin Smith's 1994 film Clerks. became a huge sensation on video and it started a cult following for the man behind the film, who went on to make such masterpieces as Mallrats, Chasing Amy and Dogma. Twelve years later, he presents us with Clerks II, which finds Dante and Randal older and (somewhat) wiser. The Quick Stop has just been destroyed by a fire and they've made the move to Mooby's, a Disney-meets-McDonald's fast food restaurant that's just as bad as the Quick Stop was. On the day this film takes place, Dante is about to move away to Florida with his fiancee Emma. Things are complicated when Mooby's manager Becky...well, I won't spoil it. Meanwhile, Randal spends his time making fun of the insanely sheltered Elias, who has three passions in life: The Transformers, The Lord of the Rings and Jesus. Clerks II is a hilarious film, laugh-out-loud funny from beginning to end. But it's also a very sweet and poignant story. A story about two old friends dealing with the pains of being in their 30's. Admittedly, I cried twice during Clerks II. Kevin Smith's script is genius, filled with his trademark excellent dialogue and colorful characters. One thing that especially sets this apart from all his other films is the visual style, which shows that he's growing as an artist. There's all sorts of different set-ups this time (as opposed to the first Clerks., which usually stuck to the standard two-shot), most notably an amazing 360-degree shot that takes place during a heated argument behind Mooby's. I was very highly anticipating Clerks II (as anyone will tell you), and it met and immediately surpassed all of my expactations. It actually made its way into my top 5 after one viewing. BIG thumbs up!
Ellison: I agree! So far this is the best film of the year and the most fun I had at the cinema this year. I also must mention the performances from everybody, all of which are fantastic (Jeff Anderson and Jason Mewes especially). Jeff Anderson deserves an Oscar for this film, he's just AMAZING as Randal.
Penley: Jeff Anderson deserves an Oscar for this film, he's just AMAZING as Randal.
Ellison: There has even been talk on IMDb of Jeff maybe getting a Golden Globe nomination. Fingers crossed! I also found it to be Kevin Smith's sweetest film and fans of Clerks (such as ourselves) will really get into it. I also must point out that everybody at my screening were also completely enjoying what was on the screen and not a single Joel Siegel (a man people will be making fun of for generations).
Penley: Now, we've got a few announcements, right?
Ellison: Yes. I am afraid that this is our final episode, but we would like to thank our readers for enjoying the ride. You can still read our opinions on very films on the website. Any last words, Will?
Penley:I'd just like to say that I've had fun doing the episodes, and I'm sad to see them go.
Ellison: So, I hope all of you have enjoyed reading these shows. Good Night.
Penley: ...And good luck.