July 30, 2010
Well, I won’t delete this in case something drastic changes (and because the most looked up thing on this blog is probably my essay on the 10 Commandments likely being plagiarized in papers everywhere) but I’m done updating it. This never quite materialized into the site I wanted it to be, and I’ve accepted the fact that it never will. So, time to bow out.
If you want to discuss Casablanca, or Triangle, or Dinner Rush, or The Kids are All Right, or any movie…. or if you want to talk about how perfectly that one episode of Futurama parodies 2001…all that kinda stuff…most of you all know where to find me. And if not, just leave a note at the bottom of this page and I’ll still get an email about it.
July 4, 2010
For starters, what I think is a fairly accurate summary of the year 2010 in movies thus far. In short, it has been crap. It has been so depressing. I grant you that the end of the year is always the juicy bit anyway, but this has been a whole new level junk. Toy Story 3 has really been the only solid offer thus far. Inception might save us from a totally bland summer, but I don’t have my hopes too high. It makes me so angry I could just yell horribly obscene things. How convenient that…
Top 100 movie/TV insults of all time. I tend to hate these things. It’s usually very biased to whoever compiled it…and I’m sure if I looked at it more carefully, I could learn to hate this one too. But realistically, I thought of about a dozen very eccentric insults, and literally only one wasn’t covered. Though it was kind of a big omission. I mean seriously, Peter Pan busting out his best at the dinner table in Hook should have been in here. But from In the Loop, to Sandlot, to Casino…it is pretty well covered.
Woody Allen reflects on what he considers his best. While Woody Allen always keeps me intrigued, I wouldn’t have guessed half of his list as what he considers his best.
This one really got me thinking…anything you would have added to the list?
June 30, 2010
I’ve been watching this trailer alot. Not intentionally, it’s just that when watching World Cup on ESPN3, it is consistently showing. Over and over I thought to myself, “Huh…this movie looks ok.” The reason for thinking this, I’m ashamed to say, is because in the year 2010, we love it when Tom Cruise is crazy. I mean, we love it when all stars go crazy whether they be corrupt Disney folks to the old, repeat offenders. But it goes without saying that Tom Cruise holds a special place in our heart. One can’t speak of jumping up and down on a couch without invoking the thought of Tom Cruise, after all.
My guilt is eased a bit after reading this wonderful NPR article. Strange though, because the premise isn’t about Tom Cruise the nutter, its about Tom Cruise the goofball. But it is spot on. There was a while there where Tom Cruise had the golden touch to any movie. Whether it was the looks, the fact that he made it look to easy, or the fact that he gave us all an excuse to bust out “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” at karaoke bars everywhere, Tom Cruise wasn’t someone that seemed like he could fall from grace. But the fall seemed to come and seems insurmountable. Which is a shame. I want to genuinely believe when I see things like this incredibly vulgar scene from Tropic Thunder that this is a guy who can take a joke and laugh at himself.
Maybe, maybe not.
The numbers are showing that the people ain’t buying in. Maybe it is just being dominated by Toy Story, whatever saga of Twilight they are on now, or dare I even say Grown Ups. And as a quick aside, Toy Story 3 was AMAZING, I dare say the best of the series. Best “third” movie of all time? It just might be. But I digress.
I am willing to say that, for better or for worse, I’m willing to give Knight and Day a shot. I’ll wait til it’s in the cheap theaters perhaps, but this reminds me of the Tom Cruise I miss. A simpler time of slap bracelets, pogs. A time of “Show me the money!” and “Did you order the code red?” And I hope the rest of you can give the guy a chance to be that ridiculous guy that, if you are honest with yourself, you have to admit had a certain appeal back in the day. Maybe it will be horrible. Probably will be. But I for one am happy to see Tom Cruise trying to play this card. Valkyrie wasn’t going to work, I felt confident in that, and MI:4 shouldn’t work. It seems like a good play to me, so well done Mr. Cruise. Keep smiling that smile.
June 17, 2010
Let’s just get it out of the way: Paul Newman rocks his roles. Cool Hand Luke, The Sting, there’s alot to love. He is missed greatly. However, one role that doesn’t get as much praise on that grand circuit is his role as Frank Galvin in The Verdict.
It got nominated for best picture in ’82, and Newman himself was nominated for his role. No Academy Awards in the end though. Only at times did it strike me as the kinda movie that grabs the big awards…but no doubt the stiff competition didn’t help.
Things I didn’t like:
-This isn’t “by the book” in my limited knowledge of law. Don’t watch this if you want a realistic courtroom drama.
-One line from the end of the film, but lets get to that later in the spoiler area.
-Bad accents from some of the characters. Your in Boston, and unless you are trying to make a mockery of it, lets all get on the same page.
Aaaand that’s it. Positives time.
-Cinematography. Brilliant stuff. I love wide shots, I love panning shots, I love getting to know the environments my characters are in with all the right angles, close-ups, moving shots, and context. Through and through, beautifully done by everyone.
-The character arcs. This gets a bit more into the spoiler-y area, so lets save this.
-The unlikable likability of Frankie. Let’s be clear here, in what I hope isn’t a spoiler (it’s on the movie poster for Pete ‘s sake). Frank is being selfish in this movie. The plantiff and the defendents are ready to settle out of court. Only Frank feels the need to press the issue, as he’s decided to make this his one shot at reinventing himself. It’s not that he feels that much better about this case then others, or the people around him. He’s just hit that point in his life that he’s ready to throw the gauntlet down. Surely, that’s kind of admirable, but in another sense he is wasting everyone’s time. He is the only one looking to drag this out, not the other lawyers, plantiffs, judge, jury, anyone. Don’t get me wrong, you will feel the need to cheer for him, but he won’t make it easy.
– I’m a sucker for one-take shots. I’ve talked about this before with things like Children of Men. This (spoilers!!) one ranks high up there, though it definitely needs its context. So only watch if you need to remember how great it was…otherwise it won’t have its power. But for those of you watching it…the pacing of the monologue, the camera zoom, everything. Moving stuff.
– Paul freakin’ Newman. There, I said it again.
– Actually, the rest of the gang too. The love interest, the other lawyer, all the bit players make for a cohesive and interesting group to follow. Well performed, aside from the accent issues stated above.
– Ambiance of the beginning. I know this goes back to cinematography a bit, but it is worth special mention. It’s around the holidays. No music. In a dark bar, the dimly lit Paul Newman plays pinball (which we do hear) while sipping away at a beer. It’s dark. It sets the mood perfectly for a starting point. The holiday-ish looking font of the credits helps too. On the same token.
– ***SPOILERS! TONS OF SPOILERS*** The ending works in the same way. According to commentary, things were scripted to end in the courthouse. This is much better. But while we are there, my one gripe. We get it, Paul Newman wins the trial. But does the jury really have to bother saying, “Hey Judge, we want to make this extra painful to the defendent, can we ask for more money?” Just seemed unneeded and made the pacing a bit chippy for me. But back to the point. Courtroom victor, Galvin is back! And then, there’s Laura. Drunk as a skunk, calling Frank. There’s Frank, the opposite of the beginning. He isn’t drinking. In fact, if he picks up the phone, it’s likely the first time she has alcohol and he doesn’t. Laura has begun Frank’s arc, and after having played double agent and selling her morals, needs to learn the lessons Frank has. But that doesn’t even touch what that does to Frank and Laura’s relationship. Does Frank recognize where Laura is, and that she might still love him? Bear in mind, they never had a chance to talk, ever. The last contact they had was a hand to the face in NYC. There’s a lot he doesn’t know, there’s a lot she wants him to know. And the phone just keeps ringing. I love Paul Newman’s eyes and he states at the phone. Somehow in this era predating call waiting…he just knows who is at the other end of that phone line and what picking it up means. No talking, just ringing. And then, an abrupt cut to black. Don’t you just hate ambiguous endings? Heck no. As stated, I think we already know that Laura is starting this new arc. And whether or not Galvin let’s her back into his life, we need to believe that Frank is a force for good now, and is not corruptible. As we learned from his background, he had a good reason to lose faith in the system, but that jury is is so fond of restored his faith. Hopefully he, or the jury, can restore Laura’s faith. And while we don’t know what the future holds, for better or for worse, everything is as it should be. And that makes it everything ok in my book. ****END OF SPOILERS*****
Final score: 9/10. Great movie, get it on Netflix while you are waiting for good movies to come out this year.
June 8, 2010
Actually, the title is a bit misleading.
I just finished watching The Messenger. I’d had a few people recommend it to me. More so, it was part of the Woody Harrelrson renaissance that seemed to be going on in the world of cinema. Flesh it out with a little bit of Jena Malone and Ben Foster, and we had ourselves a movie with potential. But the entire time I watched this movie from last year, all I could do was think of Hurt Locker. Part of me wants to call this the anti-Hurt Locker, but that seems like it would imply that it is the antithesis of a “Best Picture.” I by no means wish to imply that.
The Messanger continues the trend to tell war movies that stay away from the war. It neither condones nor condemns the war. But both movies do more than make several references to Improvised Explosive Devices, the movies tend to come from the same heart. This is a story of soldiers trying to figure out their lives. This is a story of a dirty job. This is a story in which the character building all happens in the quiet moments of vulnerability.
For starters, Harrelson seems to be attracting very notable cameos. Zombieland was easily one of the best I’ve seen lately for its comedic value. But for potential scene stealing it has to go to the performance by Steve Buscemi in this film. Absolutely superb.
The middle bits, at times, dragged on a bit. And not in a way that drew out the development of the tale for me. It was more of feeling that while all the scenes were necessary, some needed a bit better editing. But that’s about as nitpicky as I can personally be, as the beginning and end (goodness the end was fabulous) that it is hard to genuinely complain.
I’m a sucker for hard movies to watch, mind you. This is a very hard movie to watch. You are watching the lives of two Army men as they go about notifying the next of kin of the death of their son or daughter. So this movie is not for everyone, but I think that if you enjoyed the characters of from Hurt Locker, you’ll enjoy this film. The characters are just as likable (or unlikable) in a tale as equally complex. I wish I could get away from comparing the two, but it was bound to happen. The Illusionist and The Prestige had this problem, and so did The Truman Show and EdTV (yep, more Harrelson, I got nothing). It just so happens that both films were Oscar nomination worth. But as is the case with my previous example, one tends to be better remembered then the other.
I really don’t want to get into the details of the film, all of the noteworthy moments won’t translated well onto blog. I didn’t find there to be classic quotes, only classic silences.
It actually in a very simple way reminded me alot of Six Feet Under. And no, not just because of Ben Foster. It is a story about people that you’ve never met before coming into your lives at the time of a loved one’s death. In a film, all of the characters are strangers to us. It is rare to see such vulnerability in characters that are strangers to each other.
But it isn’t simply the characters of the soldiers, much like Hurt Locker it is the character of the war. A new kind of PTSD. Or atleast a variation. It’s partly about the characters doing what the feel like they want to do, partly them doing the only thing they know how to do. It is compelling, horrifying, and yet all to relate-able.
In the end? 3.5 out of 5. The middle really did kinda feel like the wheels fell off a bit. While the film certainly couldn’t have just been family visit after family visit, I just didn’t get so on board with some of the middle. But the end picks the slack back up, and overall makes for a great film.
May 13, 2010
No doubt, the only movie with real buzz going for it at the moment is Iron Man 2. The reboot (is it even really a reboot?) of Nightmare on Elm Street got some buzz last week, but that’s about it on the radar at the moment. And while next year has alot of summer blockbusting already slated, I feel like this summer will be a bit slower with primarily Iron Man 2 to discuss.
In fact, it really is just next summer I’m excited for. As sure as I am that pretty much every sequel (I mean really, Hangover 2? Bourne 4?) will fail to live up to the love and adoration current series already hold, it’ll atleast be fun to go out and watch many of them on the big screen. That is of course, presuming they don’t get pushed back.
But back to Iron Man 2. What is there to say when Don Cheadle is your supporting actor? Summer blockbusters have been breaking free of their simplistic “popcorn movie” label it seems. Also amongst recent trends in summer blockbusters, in particular the superhero movie, I caught this article which, while very biased and undermines a few significant movies and their role to the equation, discusses the trend to go from world saving to personal challenges in our recent comic book movies. Iron Man 2 seems chief among them, without giving anything away much like the article, Iron Man is pretty much about man against self or man against rival, with not a significant amount of otherness at stake as far as the greater world is concerned.
Iron Man 2, in my opinion, is weaker then the original. But right now, I also feel like it is too early to judge, as Iron Man 2 is clearly a gateway to a whole different can of worms. Mickey Rourke is about as bad-ass a villain as you can be, while still being a super nerd. Again, my bias comes out. Give me superheroes who use technology and gadgets to fight the bad guys. I really am over radioactive spider bites and the like. But that is a whole different topic for a different day.
Also in Iron Man 2, a whole lot less fighting. For reference in recent summer fun, it’s like the anti-Rise of Cobra movie. Lots of character development, and when fights happen, they are over quickly and in a strangely satisfactory anti-climatic way. My favorite of all of this was actually watching the playful and almost childish relationship develop between Stark and Pepper. The scene in particular that really got laughing and enjoying the two playing off each other was when Stark brings Pepper strawberries. In googling the scene, I didn’t find a clip of it. But I did find someone else who enjoyed the character development. I won’t bother re-wording it:
His suit may be iron, but he’s still got feet of clay. Tony Stark may not be the same narcissistic jerk he was at the beginning of Iron Man two years ago, but that doesn’t mean he’s someone completely different either. The road to redemption is seldom so straight as that.
There’s a scene in Iron Man 2 in which Tony makes an extraordinary effort (extraordinary for him) to patch up a quarrel with his long-suffering personal assistant Pepper Potts. “Did you bring me strawberries?” she asks with only vestigial incredulity — and so, of course, we know that she’s allergic to strawberries. Tony, though, sees the silver lining: “I am getting better at this — I knew there was a correlation between you and strawberries!” He’strying to have the thought that counts.
Thanks to Steven Greydanus for writing it up for me.
It’s forced, it’s silly, and yet after having seen this guy who brazenly tells the world that he is Iron Man at the end of the first movie, well, I’ll take what I can get.
Go for the fun, enjoyable time that is a summer blockbuster. Watch the ridiculously stellar cast of A-listers and be entertained. Leave remembering the character development more then the fights. Barring the drunken Iron Man fight, you can remember that one.
May 6, 2010
Good Hair. Heard of it? It is worth your time. Utterly fascinating. Usually, “humorous” and “documentary” somehow end up coming out as mockumentary, or maybe a documentary that is somewhat hard to take serious period. And when you hear Chris Rock being tossed around as the name most associated with the film, and it is hard to tell just how serious of a film you are about to witness.
Despite being very entertaining in a very funny way, I found the undertones very engaging and intriguing. Both through the eyes of Chris Rock observing his daughters, or observing a culture, the movie looks extensively into the views of what makes “good” hair and just how far people are willing to go to achieve it. Whether it be through chemicals, import hair, or just accepting natural hair, Chris Rock explores it all. What I think I was most impressed by was just how much of a documentary it was. With such a big name going around asking the questions, I anticipated him taking over at every chance to crack a joke or make a witticism. I didn’t find that to be the case at all. The trailer even presents it as such, but in reality the movie is him asking the questions and letting people respond to their hearts content. In fact, the only times I found myself slightly edgy and wanting the doc to move faster was the Bronner Battle scenes. While those scenes felt like it was supposed to tie it all together, it just seems forced to me.
At the end of it all, and I don’t get to say this often enough, if the trailer intrigued you, you will not be disappointed. If the trailer didn’t spark anything, you probably won’t find anything worth your while in the movie.
And in 25 minutes, Iron Man 2 comes out…so more to come soon.
April 26, 2010
No matter how awkward I get in writing in this blog, nothing could be more awkward then the most classic movie discussers of all time duking it out. See it to believe it.
April 22, 2010
The List: If you check this blog regularly, then you probably also check IMDB regularly. But in case you somehow missed it, I found this mind-blowing article about a man’s quest to rank 10,000 movies (he’s 9,133 so far). And this isn’t just his own enjoyment after watching them, but after doing his own research into film, criticism, and a whole load of other things. For the record, presuming that’s about 2 hours per movie, that’s a bit over 833 days worth of movies. Whether or not you want to take his list as canon or just appreciate the article, it is worth skimming over. But in case you don’t feel like clicking your way through the links, #1 is Casablanca.
Also I’ve now added Surf Nazis Must Die to my Netflix queue. Do yourself a favor and check out the trailer.
I’m very impressed by the accomplishment and a tad jealous. It also got me wondering, what will his 10,000th movie be? Is he saving one for the occasion. In my own Netflix ratings, I’ve got 900 some rated. Should I pick out a special movie to be my 1000th? Or will it just me some lame moment where I recall that I’ve actually had to see Home Alone 4, and I rate it appropriately only to find out that I broke the 1000 Barrier? Tough call.
Why is Bullock so likable?: I have to admit that the whole winning a Razzie and an Oscar in the same season was gold to me. The fact that she has to trade out the Razzie she actually accepted is icing on the cake though…just a bit more oddly good publicity. I can’t help but wonder if others will soon be showing up at the Razzies, and in good sport accept their awards for contributing to the lives of people who get to make rifftracks everywhere.
April 20, 2010
Dive!: I just really want to see this, and doubt I’ll get the chance anytime in the near future. I don’t even think I’ll like it that much. It looks half Jackass-ery, half actually legit movement for social change. But trailers these days have that nasty habit of giving off all the wrong vibes. It seems to be doing alright in the indie circuit at the moment.
Bond 23: Delay indefinitely. This is probably the worst news since all of the teasing of Arrested Development. Just as everyone was really starting to like Craig. Just as things for the reboot were getting all juicy, we get this nasty note. Now, I highly doubt that this truly means no more Bonds ever. And if it does…no, let us not even go there. But the thought that Bond was finally starting to re-image himself much as Batman has done recently, it is horrific to think that there is no concrete hope for its near future. If someone does pick it back up, it it just get ANOTHER reboot? Ugh.
The Hangover: Yep, finally saw it this week. The verdict? Maybe it actually would be funnier the second time, but I’m not entirely convinced. I feel like much of the humor in this movie comes from learning with the boys as they retrace their steps. So had the movie not been so popularly advertised as having a Mike Tyson cameo, I would have mostly likely found this far funnier then just sitting around, waiting for it. That’s not to say all of the surprises were ruined, I certainly laughed pretty hard at some of the gags. Also, in all fairness, there are plenty of movies that have a “who-done-it” type component that are still just as enjoyable when you know exactly where everything is headed.
I think the parts I enjoyed the most from the movie, in reality, was the relationship between the three guys searching for the groom. I’d always presumed that the four guys were best friends, and while bringing their own unique personalities to the group it hadn’t occurred to me that the group would have the “outsider” factor. Alan (Zach Galifianakis character) is the perfect third man for the posse, and added a fantastic element of humor I hadn’t expected.
In the end, was it the funniest movie of the century? Not really. But was I entertained? Heck yes.