Monday, August 31, 2009

H2 No

For me, the best part of Halloween 2 was running into a cousin I hadn't seen in several years. I met his wife, we got caught up and we all vehemently agreed that Halloween 2 sucks. I missed Rob Zombie's original remake of Halloween that came out in 2007 yet I found the plot of the sequel shockingly easy to follow. Rob Zombie's main contribution to the Halloween story is his attempt to do what he did in The Devil's Rejects and give the monster a personality and explain the motivation behind the sadistic killings. Here's what that boils down to: Michael Myers is violently batshit insane and he kills people because that's what violently batshit insane people do. Since we already knew that, this movie is completely unnecessary.

Joining Michael Myers from the original film are Laurie Strode and Sam Loomis. Loomis, now played by Malcolm McDowell, is no longer a psychiatrist singularly obsessed with capturing and killing Michael Myers but is now more of a self centered huckster trying to sell a book about him. Laurie, though, is still Laurie except that she now has the misfortune of not being played by Jamie Lee Curtis and is now being played by Scout Taylor-Compton, an actress whose acting choices range from crying to screaming.

The movie picks up from what apparently was the end of the first one. Laurie shot Michael Myers after what I presume was a massive, bloody killing spree (remember, I didn't see the first one, perhaps it was the story of a tea party that only turned bloody at the very end). She's found wandering the streets in a daze by the local sheriff (Brad Dourif, a guy who usually is the one playing the psycho killer) and then the fun begins.

People in this movie are killed according to the ancient rules of slasher films. The fist two to die are the asshole coroners who apparently didn't bother to check Michael's pulse before they loaded him into their wagon. They then spend the trip to the morgue talking about how one of Michael Myers' victims had been really hot and that they'd love to have sex with her corpse. This makes them degenerates and degenerates always die in slasher movies and die they do when SURPRISE it turns out Michael is still alive. The deaths are chalked up to an auto accident despite the fact that one of the men was completely beheaded. Oh, yeah, MICHAEL'S BODY DISAPPEARED. Everyone still says he's totally for sure really most sincerely dead, you bet.

A year later, Laurie is now living with the sheriff and his daughter and she's having nightmares but it's okay because Michael is like so totally dead it's not even funny even though he's not and is actually on his way back to kill his sister because Halloween is approaching. Did I mention they were brother and sister? And that Michael is being guided by the spirit of his dead mother to kill Laurie so "they can be a family again"? And that this was Rob Zombie's attempt to make Michael Myers into a three dimensional character? I didn't? Well, now I did.

As a guy who enjoys killing, Michael is very lucky that Rob Zombie populated his world with so many people who are killable under slasher movie rules. As I said, he killed the two degenerates who wanted to screw corpses. He also ran into some rednecks, a group that's also okay to kill. After a few more degenerates, Michael finally gets to start killing the prime targets of any good psycho killer, Empowered Girls. Crazed axe-and-knife wielding killers HATE Empowered Girls. It doesn't matter how they're empowered. Being sexually aggressive is one form of empowerment that is sure to draw in slasher killers. Girls are not supposed to actually enjoy sex and, if they do, must die as I'm sure the asshole who was sitting behind me that mumbled, "She's asking for it," when a girl in a sexy Halloween costume agreed to go back to a guy's van would agree. The other, even worse category of Empowered Girl is the one who's smart and liberated. They may as well commit suicide when the cameras start rolling since they're not going to make it to the end anyway. I especially loathe Rob Zombie now since there was a point where I thought he was going to allow a smart, ballsy chick who didn't take crap from anyone to live. She didn't.

Halloween 2 is a huge waste of time unless you enjoy being offended and having your intelligence insulted. If that's the case, call Fandango and buy your tickets now. It was a toss up as to whether I would see this or the OTHER popular horror movie franchise sequel that came out this week. I wonder how they would have killed their smart and sexy girls. I guess I'll never know.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Another Reason To Love Twitter

Yes, it's really her.

@Lauren_Bacall Yes I saw Twilight my granddaughter made me watch it, she said it was the greatest vampire film ever.After the "film" was over I wanted to..

@Lauren_Bacall smack her accros her head with my shoe, but I do not want a book called Grannie Dearest written on me when I die, so instead I gave her a...

@Lauren_Bacall DVD of Murnau's 1922 masterpiece Nosferatu and told her, now thats a vampire film! and that goes for all of you! watch Nosferatu instead!

Lauren Bacall. On Twitter. Trashing Twilight. My life is perfect. Well, no, pretty damn far from perfect, but this makes it a little better.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Glorious Stupidity

Something that really bothers me when I see it is the inability some people have to distinguish fantasy from reality, particularly those who use fiction to support real life beliefs and preconceived notions. If you watch a lot of porn and think that the girl who delivers you a pizza can be convinced to blow you, you're almost certainly in for an unpleasant surprise which will at best lead to you never getting pizza delivered again. If your favorite show of all time is According To Jim and you think it's a good idea to lie to your wife and tell her you're going to help a sick friend when you're trying to get out of chores and go bowling, you'll wind up either sleeping on the couch or Divorce Court.

Today, I have yet another example of a right winger who has decided to use a work of fiction to back up her worldview and this time it's not even from Big Hollywood. When I first saw Inglourious Basterds, I was wondering who the first right winger would be to hold it up as an example of how torture works. The winner is Melissa Clouthier. She writes:
1. Enhanced Interrogation works:
It does? cool. I can't wait for all the real life examples she's about to provide to back that statement up.
The reason William Wallace from Braveheart fame was so remarkable was because he didn’t break. Nearly everyone, eventually breaks. When one gets a bad guy to spill the beans, good guys get saved. It ain’t pretty. But sleep deprivation, psychological discomfort, and in Tarantino’s case, a public head bashing are very effective means of extracting information.
Huh! Ok. It's not a good sign when she starts using one of the most historically inaccurate movies ever made as a real life example. The only example throughout her entire post of torture working is the scene in Inglourious Basterds where Eli Roth literally cracks open a German soldier's head with a baseball bat, after which his men give Brad Pitt's character the information he wants. Had that happened in real life, the German sergeant would most likely have given false information rather than face death. Why? Because false information is what you get when you torture people. If you clicked on that link, you found a list of real life examples of the ineffectiveness of torture. Had I been Melissa Clouthier or some other right winger, I'd have probably linked to the 2007 Reese Witherspoon movie Rendition about a man who gives false information after being tortured by a U.S. ally. Why didn't I do that? Because, though it does attempt to be an accurate portrayal of real life torture techniques, it's a work of fiction and, unlike Melissa Clouthier, I didn't need to cite fiction to prove my point. Unlike her, I was able to stay firmly in the real world because I'm right and she's wrong.

Clouthier goes on to lament that the villains in the movie were Nazis and not Muslims and how Good is great and Evil is bad and, finally, gives a real life example of an Iranian boy who was sexually abused by his government's officials for participating in the recent protests*, an example that works against her whole, "torture is a wonderful thing on par with puppies and ice cream," premise.

Here's my favorite part of the post:
The left resisted efforts to get involved in WWII. They didn’t want to see the atrocities of Japan, Germany and Italy, especially, because it didn’t fit their never ending selfish narrative.
She is clearly referring to leftists like Gerald Ford, a fellow who would go on to become a Republican President but in 1940 founded the isolationist America First Committee along with many other wealthy Republicans. I suppose we should all be happy that Republican President Franklin Roosevelt was in office back then along with his Republican Congress to beat back the isolationists and win World War II.

At least Clouthier is original in that she's not citing 24 as the Ultimate Proof Positive that we should brutally torture brown people until the entire Arabian Peninsula is the 51st state. Still, in the end, she's yet another right winger who desperately needs her world view reinforced through fiction since reality ain't cutting it. Melissa Clouthier reminds me of the Baroness in G.I. Joe which, according to her, means she should be imprisoned until the nanomites can be removed from her system. I hope that didn't scare her since, knowing her, she probably thinks I'm serious.

*She cites this as an example of the evil that Muslims do and why they should be destroyed but ignores the recent story of a boy who was captured by the U.S. at age 14 and spent seven years being tortured by Americans even though it was quickly apparent that he was innocent. To me, Melissa Clouthier's silence on this issue means she thinks Americans are also evildoers who should have their heads bashed in with baseball bats. I don't know why she hates America.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Look At My Briefs -- 8/27/09

Once again, I offer my faithful readers brief comments on various subjects that the Queen of England, through Royal Proclamation, called Look At My Briefs.

First off, my condolences to the the family and friends of Senator Edward Kennedy. Unfortunately, he fought for things like social justice and equality for all which means that, as far as a show biz themed site like this is concerned, he may as well not have existed at all.

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This headline does not exactly inspire one to think, "OMG THIS MOVIE IS GUARANTEED TO BE AWESOME."

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There are so many ways a new Oz movie could be good. For instance, if they followed the original stories of Oz author L. Frank Baum more closely than the 1939 Judy Garland musical did. There was a 1985 film called Return to Oz that, visually at least, tried to do that. The movie flopped and that pretty much shut down any and all efforts to bring Oz back to the big screen until now. It looks like the new movie with Dakota Fanning as Dorothy's granddaughter could possibly be attempting something like that. On the other hand, OH SWEET JAYSUS COULD THIS THING SUCK.
"You've still got Dorothy trapped in an odd place," explains co-producer Todd McFarlane. "But she's much closer to the Ripley character from Alien, than a helpless singing girl."
That would be the same Todd McFarlane who made the overrated comic book/utterly sucky movie Spawn. I would want Steven Spielberg or Tim Burton or...well, pretty much just them to make a new Oz movie. As always, we have to wait and see.

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I like it that people are watching True Blood. I'm sick of shows I like getting canceled. True Blood is the anti-Twilight. True Blood showcases a loving relationship between a vampire and a mortal woman instead of a stalker who has to be nagged into sex telling his girlfriend that she should take it as a compliment that he wants to brutally murder her. I also watch it for scientific reasons. I'm trying to see how long it will take before I'm sick and tired of watching Sookie Stackhouse get naked. So far, I'm still cool with it but who knows if that will change? I'll be publishing the results of my study in Scientific American.

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It turns out Inglorious Basterds is even better the second time you see it. This is not unusual for Tarantino films. In the second viewing, you're no longer worried about following the plot and can more fully appreciate things like dialogue, character development and obscure references. Also, I got to see the stuff I missed going to the bathroom during my first viewing. For instance, it turns out the whole movie was set in World War II, something I didn't realize because it was mentioned during a bathroom break.

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Two things I don't understand. Who were the genius marketing executives at two separate studios who thought it would be a good idea to release the newest installments of two high profile horror movie franchises on the same damn weekend? Also, who thinks it's a good idea to release a movie on September 11?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

September Mourn

September is one of my favorite months. The heat of the summer starts to break, the leaves start changing color (huge deal here in the Adirondacks) and you can start looking forward to Christmas. As a movie fan, however, I hate September in the way some people hate beets. Wait, that makes no sense. Some people like beets. I don't think they're all that great but I'll eat them if they're in front of me. This analogy blows but I ain't going back. MOVING ON!

September is traditionally one of the worst months for movies. This is because of a drop in attendance caused by the fact that people blew all their spare cash in the previous three months and that kids are going back to school and to college and are too busy trying to get back into that groove to go to the movies. This means that September generally has the year's worst major releases. (This doesn't count the smaller markets of prestige and indie movies released in September as they appeal to an older and more financially sound market than the people who line up hours in advance to see G.I. Joe and Transformers 2.) Resident Evil sequels, films based on video games and slasher movie remakes are your typical September releases. This September, though, seems to be a little different. As I look through the list of upcoming releases for September, I discover movies I actually want to see. Not many, of course, but it's way more the blank sheet of paper that normally qualifies as my "Must See" list for September.

The big one for the month is 9. A movie like this loaded with visual imagination, as far as I'm concerned, doesn't even really need a plot but it looks like they're tossing one in anyway. It takes place in a Terminator/Matrix type world where machines have taken over and wiped out humanity but darn it all if those clever humans didn't figure out a way to pass on some sort of spark or essence of human life into nine dolls that, somehow, will save the world. Yay! Either I'm wrong about the way this looks and it really, really sucks or the habits of the moviegoing public have changed in a way that could make 9 a hit and I didn't notice.

Another movie that might be good, though it doesn't inspire the confidence that 9 does, is the Mike Judge directed comedy Extract. Comingsoon.net's plot summary describes it this way:
In "Extract," writer/director Mike Judge ("Beavis and Butt-Head," "King of the Hill") returns to the fertile territory of the American workplace, rotating his perspective away from the white collar cubicle warriors of "Office Space" and towards a blue collar boss – a small business owner – who employs an odd cast of losers, loners and misfits in his flavor extract factory.
Personally, I think the guy's first mistake was populating his factory with, "an odd cast of losers, loners and misfits." I'd think you'd want competent employees but hey, what do I know? Extract stars Jason Bateman, probably Hollywood's most underrated actor, and it also has loads of other famous people and hey hey, Gene Simmons is in it too. Still, I'm worried that it's coming out the first week in September.

In case you were thinking, "Wow, this'll be the greatest September ever with no bad movies at all," think again. September is also giving us the movie Gamer in which Gerard Butler plays a guy in a simulated battle being controlled by by a video game player. Now THAT'S a September movie. Dumb plot, stupid dialogue (in the trailer anyway, maybe Tarantino wrote everything else) and cheesy looking sets and effects are what you usually see in this magic month. Also, an anti-video game movie? In 2009? What, couldn't get the film about the evils of the telegraph made so you did this instead?

We also have All About Steve starring Sandra Bullock. I'm tempted to really trash this movie but Sandra Bullock has had a habit lately of making movies that should have been godawful and having them instead be surprisingly watchable. The Proposal is an excellent example. That movie with its ridiculous premise should have been a viscerally horrific experience and instead it was...not awful. Still, I know for a fact that luck always runs out and I'm willing to bet that will be the case with All About Steve. Well, I wouldn't bet money. I'm not that sure.

And then there's Sorority Row, a movie where hot girls take off their clothes just before they get hacked to bits by a violent psychopath. Think that'll be good?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Raine Brings Pain That Could Be Called Insane

There's a scene in Kill Bill in which Uma Thurman's character, the Bride, is buried alive. Things go dark and her situation seems hopeless. We then flash back to the time where her boss, Bill, brought her to see a cruel martial arts teacher called Pai Mei. This sequence goes on for around 15-20 minutes. We see how the Bride is viciously mistreated and basically tortured by Pai Mei, including constantly forcing her to try to punch through a thick piece of wood to the point where her hands are bloody and disfigured. The scene shows us how the Bride became the superior fighter that she is, how she gained the ability to respect and even care for a cruel man like Pai Mei (which would shine light on her later relationship with Bill) and, most importantly, how, years later, she would have the ability to literally punch her way out of the coffin she was buried in and dig her way to freedom.

That's how Quentin Tarantino tells stories. Most filmmakers are very straightforward but he often goes at it from the side, often having people speak for several minutes in order to show us why their characters do the things they do and make the decisions they make. I've been reading reviews of Inglorious Basterds that say Tarantino has become an artist who has grown to a point of power that he can say no to people who try to change and edit his work when changing and editing is what he desperately needs. They say that much of the film is pointless and could be cut away for purposes of length and pacing. Had that been done, though, we would not have had the wonderful, nearly perfect opening scene.

We see a farm in Nazi occupied France belonging to Perrier LaPadite and his three daughters. They suddenly get nervous when a car drives up the road toward their farm. This is where we meet German Col. Hans Landa. He's looking for renegade Jews and wants to know if LaPadite knows where they might be. Landa is polite, witty, charming and even deferential to LaPadite. Landa goes on for a while with seemingly pointless questions and even asks if they can stop speaking in French and start speaking in English. What you come to realize is that Landa is a cruel, sadistic and probably a sociopath and that he's doing what he's doing to maximize LaPadite's suffering. Even holding the conversation in English had a malevolent purpose. The scene could have been two minutes long and Landa's merciless evil could have been established by having him simply march in with guns blazing. There are books on screenwriting that say it should have been done that way but, if it had been, we would have been denied scenes that provided a suspenseful and tragic conclusion to what was basically a separate short story and elevated Landa from standard movie protagonist to a screen villain on par with Hannibal Lecter.

We also probably wouldn't have had the scene where American Lt. Aldo Raine interrogates a German soldier. From 1942-44, Raine (Brad Pitt) led a group that the Germans called the Basterds, a squadron of American Jews who went behind enemy lines to commit acts of terrorism against the Nazis. Raine has little in common with Landa. Landa is charming and sophisticated. Raine is coarse and crude. They do share one trait, though. Raine is just as sadistic and merciless as Landa. Like Landa, Raine has found a way to channel his cruelty in service of his country. This is made obvious by the smile that forms on his face when a German sergeant he has captured refuses to answer his questions and he then gets to order one of his men to literally crush the German's skull with a baseball bat. When the surviving German answers the questions, Raine allows him to live but carves a swastika into the man's head.

Then you have another character who opens the story's third front, a girl named Shosanna Dreyfus. She's the only one who survived after Landa massacred her Jewish family. She created a fake identity and took over a cinema in Paris. A war hero who has had a movie made about his life becomes attracted to her and insists that the movie's premiere, an event to be attended by the German high command and maybe Hitler himself, take place at her movie house. This gives both Shosanna and the Basterds ideas on how to take all the highly ranked Nazis out at once and Tarantino a way to fight World War II using the thing he loves the most, movies.

I think it was Tarantino himself who compared his movies to a steak dinner. Sure, steak by itself can be tasty but it's even better if you include sauteed mushrooms, fresh asparagus, twice baked potato and a good red wine. That's how you have to view Inglorious Basterds. The meat of the story is the plot by the Basterds to take out the German High Command. The sides are the dialogue and extended exposition sequences and characters like the new father Wilhelm and the glamorous double agent Bridget von Hammersmarck that enhance the meat and make it more tasty. Then again, you could just chicken fry the whole thing and wind up with G.I. Joe.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Things I've Learned From Watching Movies Part 74

Being a batshit insane stalker really does help you land the love of your life. Keep stalking, America.

Cause, you know, video games are evil and and their inevitable ridiculous extreme will definitely lead to the ruin of society. (This might have been a relevant message in the year 1978.)

Some demons can kill men by drawing massive amounts of blood to certain parts of their bodies, thus denying it to vital organs. Did you get that? I'm talking about boners. Megan Fox gives men boners. Funny, right?

Also from Jennifer's Body, it's perfectly plausible that Amanda Seyfried was cast as the dorky, socially awkward unattractive best friend. Yep, perfectly plausible.

Some movies can only be described as "Bruce Willisy". If you're lucky, you're able to get Bruce Willis to star in them.

Zombies are mindless, determined flesh eaters. Try not to be staggered by that original concept.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Brief Hollywood

Today I once again delve into my favorite unintentionally hilarious right wing website Big Hollywood for an All Big Hollywood edition of Look At My Briefs.

Greg Gutfeld criticizes Barney Frank for daring to dress down and humiliate some right wing nut who called health care reform a Nazi policy. Gutfeld knows that Democrats at these events are simply supposed meekly mumble, "Bu...but it has nothing to do with Nazis," while they get shouted down by the insane protesters.

Bill Whittle, whose IMDB profile either doesn't exist or is laughable even by Big Hollywood standards, frames Obama's historic, record setting victory as America's first African-American President against a man who was once this country's most popular politician as a huge failure.

S.T. Karnick, a man who has in the past professed his love for ratings and box office failures like The Eleventh Hour and Land of the Lost, once again shows that he is the kiss of death for any piece of entertainment unfortunate enough to garner his attention and affection. In this case, it's The Goode Family.

Victoria Jackson doesn't realize how much she sounds like a stupid sociopath, probably because she's a stupid sociopath. (Full length analysis of her nutty screed here.)

John Nolte forgives any sins against good taste the Kardashian sisters have ever committed because one of them did what billions of others have done and chose not to have an abortion. Not mentioned in his article is the fact that, if Nolte had his way, the choice wouldn't have been hers to make.

And finally, Big Hollywood shows us that Sarah Palin has moved beyond the status of mere mortal and has attained a most sacred status in which even the tamest joke is forbidden. The joke that made their diapers wet is from the new Hugh Grant/Sarah Jessica Parker comedy Did You Here About The Morgans in which the two stars play a couple on the verge of divorce who are forced to enter Witness Relocation together in a small western town. When they see the female sheriff played by Mary Steenburgen firing a gun, Sarah Jessica Parker says, "Oh my God, it's Sarah Palin." That is not an offensive joke. It is the very definition of good natured ribbing. Had the line been, "Oh dear God, it's that stupid wolf slaying bitch Sarah Palin. We must give thanks every day that this crazy woman failed in her attempt to become Vice President and destroy our country. I hope someone knocks up her 14 year old daughter," then they would have had a reason to get mad. This is the very definition of Political Correctness from people who often criticize Political Correctness and it shows why Big Hollywood cannot be taken seriously.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Truth Is Out There

I have no desire to see a remake of Outland. It's not because I'm a huge fan of the 1981 original starring Sean Connery. It's the opposite. I think Outland is a stupid movie. It's basically a remake of High Noon and answers the question, "What would that Gary Cooper classic be like if it bore no resemblance to reality and everyone in it was an idiot?" The movie was set on a mining facility on one of Jupiter's moons. The miners were being given some sort of drug that was making them walk out of their headquarters and into the vacuum of the actual moon without a space suit. Eventually lawman Sean Connery shows up and ends up having a climactic shootout with the drug dealers even though he failed to get even a single one of the miners to help him.

Gary Cooper had the added dilemma of having to choose between a pacifist wife and his duty to the townspeople, a duty he still felt existed even though they had abandoned him. The folks behind Outland knew that character developments just get in the way so they didn't give Connery that problem. He showed up, swung his Scottish dick around for a while and had a shootout. No muss, no fuss. The people Cooper was protecting were salt of the earth townsfolk; farmers, bankers, shopclerks and such. It was understandable why they'd be afraid to face down armed tough guys like Frank Miller even if that meant leaving their friend to face down an armed gang alone. Connery, on the other hand, was among a group of tough guy miners far from civilization. It wasn't logical that each and every one of them would be wetting their pants at the idea of facing down the bastards who were responsible for the deaths of some of their fellow miners. Still, that's what happened. You also had one memorable scene of Sean Connery wanting to test the blood of one of the victims. Despite being dead for a couple of weeks, the blood flows out of the corpse in red liquid form the second Connery starts pulling back on the syringe.

I'm saying Outland was a stupid movie, a lame attempt to rip off a classic under the guise of science fiction. It was made by people who had zero respect for classic cinema and the genre of science fiction or, for that matter, logic or coherent storytelling.

As for the idea of a remake? Oh hell, go ahead and make it. I was about to write, "It couldn't be any worse," but then realized that God yes, it could be a metric crapload worse. It could be a Rob Schneider comedy or have Michael Bay as its director (Transformers Michael Bay, not The Island Michael Bay, a movie that was fairly decent). The main characters could be a teenage girl and a vampire. The lawman's partner could be a precocious kid. It could be worse. But you may as well do it. It couldn't be wor...damn it!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Latest Movie Pitch

My attempts at screenwriting never quite work out. I've come close with titles like Star Wars meets Ghostbusters. That never took off because George Lucas was being a prick about the rights to it. Then I had Star Wars meets X-Men. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson about George Lucas and the rights before spending two years writing that screenplay but I honestly just forgot. My latest effort, though, is so good I'll be surprised if it isn't the subject of a bidding war among all the major studios so pay attention. Three years from now when you see this on the big screen, you'll know you saw it here first.

It's called Cute Virgin Girl Falls In Love With Sexy Vampire. It opens in some small shithole of a town filled with the type of low rent rednecks that I'm hoping will flock to this movie in droves. We meet Angelica Kissface, a really cute teenage virgin who, for some reason, is considered to be unattractive by her high school classmates. She listens to a lot of indie rock, usually wears ratty jeans and T-shirts with Van Gogh paintings on them and often mocks people with such a dry wit that they don't know she just made fun of them. One day, she meets a new student named Jackson Dane. His intense good looks capture her imagination. By virtue of not being a fucking idiot, she figures out that the guy with pale skin, super powers and an aversion to sunlight is a vampire. He tells her that she smells extra sweet to him and that she should take it as a compliment that he wants to brutally murder her and drink her blood.

After a while of watching them mumble sweetly to each other, stare at stuff and not have sex, we meet a group of douchebaggy Eurotrash types who turn out to be evil vampires. They often say things like, "These human are nothing but cattle to us," always in a very bored and world weary tone. Naturally, they try to kill Angelica, all the while questioning Jackson's manhood when he protects her. "Why do you side with this sow over your own kind?" In a climactic battle, Angelica sits there with her thumb up her ass while Jackson and the douchebags fight it out. Jackson wins, of course and, as a reward for saving her life, gets to take her on a series of dates where they don't get drunk and don't get laid.

THE END -- until the sequel.

I can see this as a super profitable franchise. If it is, I'll finally have the clout to get my other movie idea produced. That would be my dream project, Cute Kids Go To Magic School And Fight Evil.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TTWILF

I know that the extraordinary can, after regular exposure, become mundane but, if I'm ever married to a time traveler, I'll always retain a sense of wonder about the whole thing and not think of it as a pain in the ass or the reason I can't plan dinner parties. This is one of the most incredible events in human history and it's treated like a disease.

The movie has a sad opening scene when 6 year old Henry DeTamble time travels for the first time during an auto accident. His mother is so amazed by the sight of her son disappearing that she fails to get out of the way of an oncoming truck and dies. Henry, on the other hand, goes back in time two weeks to see his mother reading to him before returning to the scene of the accident where his 20 year old self (Eric Bana) is waiting to tell him what's going on and that everything will be all right, which is a lie.

We then see the 20-something Henry return to the library where he works and he meets a woman named Claire Abshire (Rachel McAdams) who says she's met him several times since her childhood. She describes their first encounter in a meadow near her home when she was six when he showed up naked in the woods and told her he was a time traveler and that they were friends in the future. Here's a bit of advice to any of you six year old girls out there: if, while in the woods by yourself, you happen to encounter a naked man who says you and he are friends and that you shouldn't tell your mom about any of this, RUN AWAY AS FAST AS YOU CAN AND IMMEDIATELY TELL YOUR MOM. Henry visited Claire all through her childhood which is why she slept with him on what was technically their first date.

Rachel McAdams, by virtue of being one of the most adorable people alive, is pretty much the main the reason to see this movie. His time traveling meant that she had 20 years of visits to fall in love with him but he had to fall hard for her the first time he met her. Fortunately, it's Rachel McAdams so it's easy to believe he could so that.

So what are the reasons not to see the movie? Oh, where to begin. You could pretty much chuck the movie's entire supporting cast. They range from bland and forgettable to annoying. Representing both are their best friends, a married couple named Charisse and Gomez. Charisse (Jane McLean) is the forgettable one, something made apparent by the fact that I can't tell you anything about her. Her husband, Gomez, (Ron Livingston) steps up to represent the annoying side. He finds out about Henry's condition and turns out to be a reliable and loyal friend. Unfortunately, his endless stream of bad jokes also make him the kind of guy you want to kick in the face. We also have Claire's father (boring), Henry's father (annoying), a geneticist named Kendrick who manages to give some aid to Henry (boring) and, eventually, Henry and Claire's daughter, Alba (can be both boring and annoying).

The Time Traveler's Wife might be okay for fans of romantic tearjerkers. Then again, I'm a fan of romantic tearjerkers and I can't say I'm a fan. It's not horrible or insulting, it's just...bleh. Major events happened in the lives of these characters and I just didn't care. I mean, the guy was a freaking TIME TRAVELER and I didn't care.

So, there you have it. If you're a big Rachel McAdams fan or, even better, you've devoted your life to masturbating to Rachel McAdams movies (this could apply to both men and women, I don't judge), you might enjoy The Time Traveler's Wife. Otherwise, you won't.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Be An Alien

I was going to call District 9 the last gasp of the summer movie season but that title really belongs to G.I. Joe. The latter is a stupid, mindless action film that tends to be forgotten pretty much as you're walking out of the theater. This is typical of most movies you see in the summer and why, when people are asked how G.I. Joe was, the answer tends to be, "It was awesome," with no details given. District 9, on the other hand, is intelligent and thought provoking while still having exciting action scenes. This means the description for this movie will be, "It was awesome. There were these aliens and junk." Sure, that's not much better, but look at it as baby steps.

I was worried I wouldn't like District 9 because I had never seen the other eight District movies but it turns out my fears were unfounded since this isn't a sequel. Although the writer and director, Neill Blomkamp, did make a short feature a few years ago that became the basis for District 9. If you haven't seen the movie, you can get a good taste of it here (though the alien battle suit looks much better in the movie as opposed to the one in the short that looks like something made by cub scouts).

In the world of District 9, an alien ship landed in the South African city of Johannesburg in 1982. The reasons aren't 100% clear but it looks like they ran out of food for the 1.8 million alien passengers. The very large ship is still hovering over the city to this day while its inhabitants were set up in a camp that eventually became known as District 9. After spending a quarter century living in a slum, the aliens, derisively referred to by the locals as Prawns due to their vague resemblance to shellfish, are now often a very dangerous bunch. The citizens of South Africa hate and denounce the behavior that they have helped create. I'm not sure if Americans will notice the significance of black South Africans talking about the Prawns in the same way that white Afrikaners would talk about them during Apartheid rule, saying that they are a lesser, inherently stupid and violent race who deserve the oppression they receive.

The lead character is Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley), a mid level bureaucrat with a military contractor called MNU. Wikus is what I would call a small man. While not a horrible human being, he is the kind of person who will abuse power when it's given to him. He's risen as far as he has because he had to good fortune to marry the daughter of MNU's CEO. Because of this, Wikus is put in charge of supervising a mass relocation of the Prawns away from Johannesburg to a full fledged internment camp away from the general population.

Wikus expresses a certain amount of glee in the way that he's able to cruelly manipulate and push around the Prawns. This really shows up when, during the relocation, they discover an unauthorized alien incubator station (the Prawns must attain a license to have kids) and set it on fire. Wikus looks like he's closing to orgasm when talks about the wonderful popping sound that the baby Prawns make as they burn.

Things change for Wikus when he uncovers an unknown alien fluid and accidentally gets sprayed with it. It turns out the Prawns aren't as stupid as they thought. The fluid is a fuel they want to use to operate a command module they have hidden for over two decades that will allow them to take their mothership out of orbit. An unfortunate side effect of the fluid is that a human who gets exposed to it eventually turns into a Prawn. You can now see Wikus' problem. His left arm is the first thing to fully transform on him and his bosses at MNU see this as an opportunity. One problem they've always had is that alien technology is bioengineered so only they can use it and that includes their awesome energy weapons. Wikus, though, can now fire those weapons with his left hand. This gives them, with the approval of his father-in-law, the idea to dissect and study Wikus so he escapes and turns to the aliens that, up till now, he considered a lesser species.

District 9 is not perfect, but compared to just about everything that's come out this summer, it's Citizen Kane. It has some logical inconsistencies (I think Wikus would have sought medical treatment when his fingernails started falling out, for example) but it mostly tries to make sense and follow the internal logic of the story. Man, it seems so odd to use words like "logical" and "make sense" when talking about a science fiction film. At this point in the review I'm usually complaining about how the filmmakers reached a point in the story where they said, "Screw it, let's just blow everything up," or solved the plot's conflict by doing something impossible, like in Independence Day when they used a MacBook, a computer incompatible with 80% of the computers on this planet, to interface with alien technology and plant a virus. In District 9, even when stuff does start to blow up real good, it blows up for smart and logical reasons.

The movie 9 comes out next month and that looks like it might also be an intelligent and imaginative science fiction film. I have a feeling this will spoil me and make me think that Roland Emmerich's 2012 coming out in November will be smart too when, actually, it will probably look like it was made by people with brain damage.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Working For The Weekend

I nearly deleted this because I'm not really satisfied with it but I don't have time to write anything else and I already took a day off this week which means you're all stuck with this. Just know in advance that it's not my best work and lower your expectations. Basically, this is like when you wanted to take the cheerleader/quarterback to the prom and ended up going with someone who routinely challenges you to Star Wars trivia contests and likes to show you a picture of the sculpture he/she made out of boogers. -- MC

Summer's winding down and I say good riddance. I mentioned my allergies earlier and they combined with the season's worst heat and humidity (in the northeast, at least) to make this a miserable week. Still, allergy meds so I might actually be able to enjoy the weekend, both in terms of outdoor activities and the new movie premieres. With that in mind, let's go to the Tomatometer.

Of the three major releases coming out this week, the clear loser so far is The Time Traveler's Wife which is currently getting a rating of 35%. It's a sad fact of my life that I enjoy chick flicks* like this because I often can't find anyone to go with me. I have to sit there by myself surrounded by guys who got dragged there by their dates convinced that they're all staring at me and assuming that I'm gay. Anyway, I was wondering how this one would turn out. Are the critics who say it lacks narrative logic right or do they just have no soul? As a huge fan of narrative logic, I'm going to go out on a limb and say ALL YOU CRITICS ARE DEAD INSIDE AND THIS WILL BE THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER! Or not. Probably not.

Next up is Bandslam. The 80% rating is a surprise since this looked like some stupid teen film with a plot that went something like, "Who's going to win the big music competition? will it be the stuck up perfect kids or the nerdy losers who are actually much better looking?" By the way, if you think it's hard for a guy to go by himself to chick flicks, the experience is amplified when you're an obvious adult going by himself to teen flicks. I always feel like that creepy guy who throws beer parties for high school students. My favorite critical comment among those listed came from Julian Shaw who wrote:
Though not entirely naff, this teen film’s casting of Vanessa Hudgens is clearly an attempt to get High School Musical fans on board...
Gee, you think? I wonder how many years in critics school one has to spend before you're able to come up with such biting, insightful analysis. Anyway, I probably won't see Bandslam which means I just made an enemy out of Julian Shaw for no good reason. I will, however be going to see...

District 9, one of approximately 80 movies coming out this year with the number 9 in the title. I was going to call this the last gasp of the summer movie season but, really, that proud title belongs to G.I. Joe. The latter is a stupid, mindless action film whose entire plot could be scrawled onto a single square of toilet paper. District 9 looks like it's actually going to an interesting and thought provoking film about aliens being held in a government internment camp. I hope I'm not expecting too much from District 9 as that always leads to disappointment. I'm expecting it to be the greatest movie ever, a film going experience that will bring about a life changing epiphany and usher in a new age of light and goodness across the world. Is that too much?

*I enjoy all genres of movies, actually. When people ask me what type of movies I like, I usually just say "good movies". This usually causes them to stare at me as if I just discussed my favorite prime number and then say something like, "Oh, um, okay, I like movies where people get shot in the face."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Look At My Briefs -- 8/13/09

I'm still trying to deal with allergies and the fact that they often give me bronchitis this time every year. I managed to avoid the B-word last year, though. How did I do it? I give all the credit to a magical Cure All of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

Ernie Hudson will be playing a Baltimore detective in upcoming episodes of Heroes. You know what's weird? I like Ernie Hudson in just about everything he's ever done except for his most famous role, Winston in Ghostbusters. Why the Ghostbusters team felt (both the fictional one and the filmmakers) felt that Winston Zeddemore had to be added to the cast is a mystery to this day. The character kind of shows up in the middle of the movie and immediately starts dragging the movie down yet he gets to stand side by side with three of the best comic actors in the business when they face down Zul. I bet if Ghostbusters 3 ends up getting made, the character most prominently featured from the original cast will be Winston.

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Disney's going to make a movie about Anne Frank. Hmm, that didn't sound right. Let me put it another way. DISNEY'S going to make a movie about ANNE FRANK?!?!?! I can see it now. Cartoon birds will bring the Frank family food during their captivity while Anne sings about how she wants to be a normal girl. Many tense moments will occur as Nazis nearly discover their hiding place in the attic, including one scene where an overweight cat and a dachshund hilariously distract them just before they find Anne hiding behind a couch. The action packed scenes at the end will show the Franks heroically escaping from the the Netherlands and Anne sings a song about how we're all good in our hearts. Or...maybe not. David Mamet is writing the script so there's some real talent behind the project, though hopefully he'll include fewer F-bombs than his work normally contains.

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You know, I was just thinking about how we really need yet another fucking story about zombies.

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The only way Blair Witch 3 could possibly be a good idea is if the filmmakers intentionally tried to see if they could make a movie worse than Blair Witch 2. That would indeed be a daunting task. Face it guys, the first one was lighting in a bottle. You made an original, memorable and frightening movie for very little money and the world loved you for it. Give it up. Move on. If a 3rd one gets made, I guaran-goddam-tee you it'll involve a precocious
kid and an intelligent dog who smokes cigars saving the day and no one wants to see that.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Hate Summer

Late summer, actually. I'm allergic to pollen from plants that grow mainly in August so my life is miserable until mid-September or so. Anyway, dealing with allergy symptoms is why I'm taking today off. I should be back tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Kitchen Nightmares

I considered walking out of Julie and Julia when the following words popped up during the opening credits: Directed By Nora Ephron. Movies directed by Nora Ephron range from, "It was okay, I guess," to "Think we could get our money back?" (Sleepless in Seattle being an example of the first, Bewitched being an example of the second.) Julie and Julia comes close to being in the first category. This is mainly because of the actors. Meryl Streep plays Julia Child with the level of perfection you take for granted in a Meryl Streep performance and Julie Powell, a woman whose worship of Julia Child turned into a popular blog, a successful book and, now, a movie in which she's played by Amy Adams. I must confess that I currently have a huge crush on Amy Adams and that I would become her stalker if doing that wasn't so much work. Seriously, I'm supposed to hang out in bushes in the middle of the night all the while being eaten alive by bugs just so I can occasionally see Amy walk by her windows? No thanks. Anyway, I can assure you that my love for Amy Adams will in no way affect this review.

Amy Adams' portrayal of Julie Powell is the greatest performance given by an actor ever. She should win not only this year's Best Actress Oscar but every one given out for the next decade.

But seriously, she was pretty good. There aren't many actresses out there who are more lovable than Amy Adams, a fact that can be confirmed by anyone who ever saw Enchanted or Junebug.

The movie actually tells two stories. One starts in 1949 when Julia Child moves to Paris with her husband, Paul, after he gets a job at the U.S. Embassy there. This is where she first encounters, and falls in love with, French cooking. This story is spliced with Julie's story which begins in 2002. Julie Powell moves to Queens with her husband, Eric. The most amazing thing about this movie is that their apartment actually looks like an apartment real New Yorkers might live in and not one of these gigantic lofts you normally see in movies and television that, in real life, would cost about five grand a month. Julie works for a city agency that compensates 9/11 victims, a job that understandably takes its toll as the people with whom she deals range from belligerent assholes to horribly sad and depressed people. She finds relief in her love of cooking, something that, if her husband is to be believed, she's very good at.

The story is advanced by showing the parallels between the two main characters. Despite her love of Paris, she quickly becomes bored as she is a childless housewife in a place where she barely speaks the language and knows hardly anyone. She takes up a series of hobbies, finally settling on a beginner cooking class at the prestigious Cordon Bleu. When she wants to move on to the more advanced classes, the administrator, a woman who clearly has contempt for her, uses extreme passive/aggressive techniques to try to talk her out of it but Julia ignores her and enters the class where, after some initial stumbles, she begins to shine thanks to her competitive nature. Julie also feels lost and without direction, wondering what the next phase of her life will be. That's when she gets the idea to start the Julie/Julia Project, a blog in which she describes her efforts to spend the next year cooking everything in Julia Child's first cookbook. I guess in 2002 she really stood out from an internet that mostly consisted of Britney Spears Worship Shrines and Geocities homepages that were almost all blinking red text on a black background because she winds up gaining a large readership.

Movies like this have no way to cover their flaws. At least with G.I. Joe, you have explosions, campy villains, fast-paced CGI effects and women like Sienna Miller and Rachel Nichols fighting each other in form fitting leather outfits. All that provides even the worst movie with some entertainment value. Julie and Julia, unfortunately, has no exploding spaceships, jetski chases or half naked Maxim models to distract the audience from what's wrong with it, unless you happen to have an Amy Adams crush. What is wrong with it? There's really no sense of urgency or some conflict that won't be overcome. Julie's husband walks out on her at one point when she becomes too obsessed with her blog. Do you really think he's never coming back? Julie laments the whole movie about a recipe that requires her to bone a duck. Do you really think that duck will remain bones intact? Julia Child's story is even less of a mystery. Oh no, her publisher loses interest in her cookbook. Even if you know squat about her, we know from the Julie scenes that her book does get published and that it was an international best seller that made her a star chef.

It had its moments and I suppose I can offer a tepid recommendation or, as I said earlier, "It's okay, I guess." It does have lessons to offer, like how natural talent is nothing without hard work or how worshiping and imitating a great person can help you find your own voice but, then again, I already knew all that. I wonder if Amy Adams will be so offended by this review that she will never, ever be mine. Maybe that stalking thing would still work.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Joe The Dumber

PHEW! That was a close one. Last week, I was lamenting the fact that G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra was getting some excellent early reviews. This was counter to a prediction I made in one of my Movies I Haven't Seen posts that it would simultaneously suck balls AND blow donkeys. Since I have a perfect record in that category, I was rooting for it to fail, at least critically and behold, my wish was granted.

If you ever saw Team America and thought, "Man, this plot is awesome. I just wish it didn't have all those damn jokes," then G.I. Joe is the movie for you. Really, just about everything that happened in Team America happened in G.I. Joe, only the names changed. Destroy Paris while trying to save it? Check. Mad villain uses WMDs to create a new world order? Check. Big, dumb heroes fail utterly before finally defeating the evil organization? Check.

The movie opens in 1641 for some stupid fucking reason then flashes forward to some point in our near future. Christopher Eccleston plays McCullen, a guy who may as well have the words "I'M THE BAD GUY" tattooed on his forehead. Since it's obvious to everyone but him that he's a villain who intends to conquer the world, he decides go to elaborate lengths to steal some metal eating nanobots that were developed by his company instead of just loading them into his trunk and driving them out of the factory himself lest anyone suspect that he had anything to do with their disappearance, something that the good guys almost immediately suspect.

The military escort team transporting the warheads containing the nanobots is led by Duke, a character for whom I feel sorry because he's being played by Channing Tatum. Tatum is the actor you hire when you wanted Clive Owen but couldn't get him so you were willing to settle for Shia LeBeouf but couldn't get him either. Duke and his partner, Ripchord (Marlon Wayans), and the rest of their team get attacked by some group of evil commandos with way superior technology. So superior, in fact, that you'd think their goal of world domination would be possible without those metal eating warheads yet they seem focused on getting those. Duke recognizes the leader of the thieves as his ex-fiancee, Ana (Sienna Miller), though she mostly goes by the title Baroness these days. We find out in a series of long, dull flashbacks that Duke was apparently such an a-hole to her when they were together that she was driven to serve the cause of evil or something along those lines.

Duke and Ripchord get saved by the Joes, a super secret elite international fighting force who seem to have blown so much of their budget on their fortress beneath the Egyptian desert and their advanced weaponry that there was nothing left to hire a marketing firm to come up with a better name than "The Joes." The Joes fortress is so impenetrable that it takes Baroness and her partner in crime, Stormshadow, nearly 15 minutes to waltz in there and steal the warheads. The Joes discover that they're heading to Paris and head there at a leisurely pace while Baroness and Stormshadow weaponize the warheads and prepare to use them on the Eiffel Tower. Anyone who has seen the ads knows that they succeed in destroying the Tower but what you don't see are the scenes taken pretty much directly from Team America wherein the Joes actually manage to destroy way more of Paris in their pursuit of Baroness than Baroness herself did with the warheads.

Fortunately, at this point, they stop ripping off Team America and start ripping off Return of the Jedi when the Joes launch an all-out assault on McCullen's underwater fortress. Please note that, in 30 words previous to this sentence, I pretty much summed up the last 45 minutes of the movie. Had I added "lots of stuff blew up" it would have been 100% accurate.

G.I. Joe is a dumb movie but it didn't need to be smart to be entertaining. What it needed, desperately, were better jokes and a different actor playing Duke. Channing Tatum can look morose and that's about it for him when it comes to acting. When you're out acted by a member of the Wayans family, you know it's time to pack it in and go back to waiting tables. As for the jokes, very few of the lines that were meant to be funny actually made anyone laugh if the audience I saw this with was anything to go by, though I usually did chuckle every time Channing Tatum spoke.

I would love it if Hollywood would stop producing scripts based on known properties like G.I. Joe that look like they were written by fanfic writers. One has to question the sanity of studio heads who agreed to spend hundred of millions of dollars of their companies' money for movie that, story-wise, could have been written by guys like OptimusLover69 on Fanfic.com. The three worst movies of the summer season have been G.I. Joe, Wolverine and Transformers 2, all of which fall into the category I just mentioned. Then again, they all made heaps of money so it's doubtful that anyone major studio head will say, "That Clear guy has a point," and shut down production of G.I. Joe 2.

Best thing I can say about G.I. Joe: it wasn't as bad as Transformers 2. That a very low bar but they should take what they can get.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

John Hughes

I'm lousy at writing about people I love who have died. Better writers than I have already written many words on this subject and I really have nothing to add. One person, though, really stood out.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Kobayashi Moron

Today, I comment on yet another unintentionally hilarious article from conservative movie site Big Hollywood. They seem to be getting into a habit over there of favorably comparing Sarah Palin to famous science fiction characters. This time last month, Kurt Schlichter compared her to Obi-Wan Kenobi, a fellow who, against the advice of Yoda and the Jedi elders, insisted on training a kid who grew up to wipe out the Jedi Order and plunge the galaxy into decades of rule under a mad emperor. Hmm, that doesn't seem like a favorable comparison at all. Anyway, today we have another Big Hollywood regular, Leigh Scott, comparing Sarah Palin to Captain Kirk.
Then, as Sarah Palin announced her resignation, it hit me. Sarah Palin is Captain Kirk. Why? Because she just passed the Kobayashi Maru.
Oh goodie, another Big Hollywood attempt to spin Sarah Palin quitting her job as Alaska Governor as an act of victory and triumph by comparing it to something that never happened. In this case, that "something" is the Kobayashi Maru. For those of you who, unlike me, didn't devote your lives to Star Trek fandom, the Kobayashi Maru is a test given to Starfleet cadets to see how they handle unwinnable situations. It was revealed back in Star Trek II (and further dramatized in the recent Star Trek movie) that James Kirk became the only cadet in the history of Starfleet to beat the simulation after he rigged the program to make it possible for it to be beaten. Since none of that has jackshit to do with Sarah Palin quitting her job, you can see Leigh Scott's problem with trying to compare this fictional scenario to Sarah Palin's real life one. One does have to admire the mental leaps and bounds he makes, to do so. It's a type of thinking you normally only see in a schizophrenic.
Palin was faced with her own Kobayashi Maru. How could she effectively govern the state of Alaska while facing ridiculous ethics charges and the scrutiny of the national media? How could she increase her exposure in the lower 48 while staying true to the people in Alaska who elected her?...But Palin defied them. She changed not her strategy, but the very rules. She resigned her position, turning the state over to her loyal Lieutenant Governor to continue the plans and policies she put into motion. Like any good story, it was an unexpected twist, yet when viewed in retrospect it was the only way it could play out.
Okay, not bad, but here's the best part.
The notion that a candidate with scant command of policy, who either lacks experience or didn’t complete the duties of their elected position, is doomed to failure doesn’t take into account a little thing I call history. In 2008 this nation elected a President who spent the majority of his Senate term campaigning for his next gig. I only wish he had the class, respect, and decency for and towards his constituents to resign.
This is why I read Big Hollywood. When Leigh Scott boasted about his awesome grasp of history, it was one of the most unintentionally funny things I had ever seen on that site. Yeah, let's discuss this awesome thing called history. True, Barack Obama didn't have the, "class, respect, and decency for and towards his constituents to resign," his Senate seat while he campaigned for the Presidency. I can imagine Scott reading and rereading that sentence, probably using it as wanking material. What I'm sure Scott doesn't realize is that John McCain was also so lacking in respect for his constituents that he also neglected to resign his Senate seat when he ran for President, a fact that Master of History Leigh Scott was too busy jacking off to mention. And hey, history buffs, you know who also didn't resign from her job while she campaigned as McCain's running mate. Oh yes, Sarah Motherfucking Palin lacked the class, respect, and decency for and towards her constituents to resign.
Palin passed the Kobayashi Maru. She is qualified to command the ship. She has all the qualities we want in a captain; valor, principals, vision and most of all, the ability to change the rules.

...Go ahead. Write her off. Make a joke out of her. Be my guest. But that would be about as smart as marooning Captain Kirk on Seti Alpha V.

We all know how well that worked out for Khan don’t we?
Yes we do. Then again, Khan was a fictional character whose fate was controlled by a filmmakers who saw to it that James Kirk would be victorious over him. Sarah Palin, on the other hand, is a real person who doesn't have Gene Roddenberry looking out for her. She's a dingbat who can't even answer the question, "What newspapers do you read?" without embarrassing herself and thought that the American people would hand her the Vice Presidency if she just smiled, winked and implied that Obama was a terrorist. That worked out so well for her that she now has no political power whatsoever.

I'm sure history buffs like Leigh Scott can tell you what happened the last time someone tried this. Bob Dole resigned his Senate seat in 1996 to run for President, a move that worked out so well that he was beaten by a lecherous hillbilly. And that ends today's history lesson. Live long and prosper!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Look At My Briefs -- 8/6/09

It's been a long time since I've been in school and yet I still get that odd, icky feeling this time of year that my summer vacation is almost over. The fact that I haven't taken a vacation this summer seems to have zero impact on that feeling. Luckily, I have discovered that the cure is to sit back in front of my computer and luxuriously read another edition of Look At My Briefs.
Variety reports that Leonardo DiCaprio has picked up the rights to "Little Red Riding Hood" under his Appian Way banner.
When I read that, I thought, "Someone actually owns the rights to Little Red Riding Hood? I wonder if my mom and dad could get sued for the number of times they told me that story when I was a kid UNLESS they secured the rights to do so." This led to an embarrassing phone call that started out as a discussion about the finer points of intellectual property rights and how they relate to reading bedtime stories to your kid and ended with my dad lamenting the fact that he'd raised an exceptionally stupid child. It turns out I could have spared myself the humiliation since the actual Variety article makes no mention of anyone purchasing any rights.

Turns out Leo Dio is working on what is purported be a darker version of the Red Riding Hood tale than most people are used to. I look forward to tight asses losing it over the idea that the Pure And Wonderful Children's Tale will be polluted by evil Hollywood even though, as the Variety article states, the story used to be very dark and vicious before the Brothers Grimm got hold of it and cleaned it up. In fact, Neil Jordan's The Company of Wolves has already taken the Red Riding Hood tale and used it as a dark coming-of-age story.

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Wow, is it possible I was wrong about G.I. Joe? It's hard to argue with a 91% Tomatometer rating (as of this writing). I predicted that the movie would blow when I profiled it in Movies I Haven't Seen and, if it actually turns out to be something worth seeing, that will end my perfect record of predicting crappy movies. If I end up liking it, should I be honest and admit that fact here or should I uphold the strong internet tradition of firmly standing behind uninformed opinions no matter how much evidence comes along that the opinion was wrong? Decisions, decisions.

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I have not been a fan of Dollhouse but I did rent the first season DVD collection to see the unaired 13th episode titled "Epitaph One". It was an interesting episode and was meant to serve as the series finale if they got canceled though it hardly ended the story. It did tell you the ultimate purpose of the Dollhouse and what the eventual consequences of that purpose would be. Set ten years in the future, the personality imprinting technology used by the Dollhouse has radically advanced to a state where a few elites have imprinted most of the world's population. Those people are slaves and society is in ruins. It's nice to see that Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku had something in mind this whole time. Since they managed to get another season, here's hoping the series evolves from the dark, depressing Wrist Slasher of the Week it is now.

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I'm sure we've all heard that the Mayans thought time would end in 2012, but I wonder if the prophecy contained anything about all the crappy movies that event would inspire including this one. Oh well, only three...long...years till all that crap is proven false and we move on to the next doomsday prophecy.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

All The Lies That Are My Life

Harry Knowles today did something very interesting. Tom Arnold started a rumor that a sequel to True Lies would start filming in 14 months. Tom Arnold would love this since the highlights of his film career are True Lies and this, the best movie deal he was able to land after being in a Schwarzenegger film. I'm sure Arnold's career will turn around in 2010 when he appears in The Jerk Theory. It also has Danny Bonaduce, a fact that screams quality.

Anyway, Harry Knowles forgot what it was you're supposed to do on the internet. Instead of wildly speculating and posting outrageous rants based on nothing but that speculation, he emailed True Lies director James Cameron and asked if there were any plans to do a True Lies sequel and Cameron quickly replied with a polite and definite no. Hell, I could have done that if I knew James Cameron well enough to get a personal reply. My reply from James Cameron would have looked like this:

Hello Michael Clear.
Thank you so much for your recent email
concerning True Lies sequel.
I always love hearing from devoted fans.
Please be sure to check out my new
movie, Avatar, coming out this Christmas.
Sincerely yours, James Cameron

Anyway, good job on Harry's part. I'm not his biggest fan, mainly for his belief that he must inform the world every time a sexy actress gives him an erection, but he did well here.

So, why am I even commenting about this? Simple. I love that I have a reason to bash True Lies.

It took me a couple of years to realize what a really creepy movie this is. It starts off just fine with a Bond-style action sequence which, at that point in time, hadn't been seen in Bond films for many years. It then gets a bit dull when you discover that Arnold Schwarzenegger's character, Harry Tasker, hides his job as a spy from his wife, played by Jamie Lee Curtis. After he discovers that she's so bored with her life that she's thinking of having an affair, Arnold arranges for her to do a fake spy job in which she must dress up like a whore and meet some strange guy in a hotel room. It turns out that Arnold is the guy and he orders her to do a striptease.

When I saw this, I was mainly thinking, "Woo hoo, Jamie Lee Curtis is in her underwear." When I saw it again a few years ago, my thoughts were something along the lines of, "Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick, what made them think having a guy scare the shit out of the woman he loves and force her to strip for what she thought was another man would be entertaining?" It's really one of the more despicable scenes you'll ever see in what's supposed to be a light hearted action film. I'm tempted to pass extreme judgment on James Cameron but he's never really done anything like that before or since. Sure, Kate Winslet was stark naked in Titanic but that was her choice. Leo DiCaprio didn't tell her that he was actually a famous painter and that the nude picture of her he was sketching would hang in the Louvre.

So why did they think that was a good idea? Don't know. Maybe it looked better on paper than on film but I can't see a way to write "Shwarzenegger's character abuses and debases his wife" in a way that sounds good. Maybe Cameron himself is a misogynist and that's the only time it really slipped or maybe he just liked the idea of watching Jamie Lee Curtis dancing in her underwear. If his new movie Avatar contains a scene in which star Zoe Saldana is tricked into stripping, then we'll know.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Right Wing Movie Reviews -- Funny People

Once again I give space over to conservative blogger Gotterdamerung, a fellow who often wants to correct what he calls my horrendous liberal bias. Today, he talks about Funny People.

Hi all, Gotterdamerung here. I have never been a fan of Judd Apatow and it has nothing to do with the time a studio decided to make The 40 Year Old Virgin instead of my idea for a movie about two college age drinking buddies trying to get laid while entering a farting contest in order to save an orphanage. I simply, honestly can't say I've ever seen a film made by Judd Apatow that made me laugh. Really, what has he done that anyone could really describe as funny? He's never even had any of his characters participate in a farting contest, something I can assure you would be extremely hilarious and quite profitable for any studio willing to invest in the idea.

Well, my opinion of Judd Apatow has changed thanks to his new directorial effort Funny People. This movie works as a comedy, an insightful character study and, most importantly, as a searing indictment of Barack Obama's attempts to "reform" health care.

Adam Sandler plays George Simmons, a famous comic actor who is diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. What does he do when he learns of his illness? Liberals out there probably assumed he went to Canada or France or some other country with socialized medicine. If that's what they think, they're as wrong as when they say the Earth is older than 6000 years. No, George uses the good old American health care system that liberals hate until they use it to get a sex change operation or an abortion.

There's a lot of obvious humor in the film but the truly funny stuff is more subtle. I suppose it had to be in order to get past liberal studio censors. For instance, Sandler and co-star Seth Rogen have a great deal of fun making fun of a Swedish doctor's nationality and accent. The Swedish doctor, a man not born in this country, is obviously meant to be a stand in for Barack Obama, another man not born in this country. The fact that the Swede is also a doctor means that Judd Apatow is challenging our foreign President on his idea for wanting to chuck our entire health care system in exchange for a government agency run by the same people who run the DMV. Sandler and Rogen's insults toward the Swede were very cathartic for those of us who oppose Obama's attempts to take our country's hospitals and turn them into government run death mills with pictures of Barack Obama and Fidel Castro on the wall.

You should all go see Funny People and then write your representatives in Congress and tell them you oppose health care being taken over by Swedes with no sense of humor. Trust me, they'll know what you're talking about.

True, Funny People is still lacking a farting contest, but I'll take what I can get.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Funny Ha Ha and Funny Strange

Funny People seems to have confused a lot of people. From what I could gather, most of the audience that showed up when I saw it, especially the younger ones, were expecting an Adam Sandler movie. Instead, they got a movie with Adam Sandler. I've explained the difference before but it bears repeating now. Adam Sandler movies are films in which the main creative forces are Sandler and his old SNL writing buddies. An Adam Sandler movie is a gross, crude and usually unfunny film in which Sandler plays a larger-than-life character in an over-the-top fashion. The character is always annoying in some way, sometimes because of an unappealing personality, other times because of some physical aspect like a grating accent, often times both such as in Little Nicky. Adam Sandler movies often have funny scenes but are over all unsatisfying experiences. On the other hand, movies with Adam Sandler are movies in which Sandler was not the main creative force. Oh, he certainly has a hand in the direction of the movie and his character but the project is under the control of people like Paul Thomas Anderson, James L. Brooks or, in the case of Funny People, Judd Apatow. So far, movies with Adam Sandler have mostly been good, intelligent and unusual films and, unlike Adam Sandler movies, they don't contain scenes of walruses vomiting on hermaphrodites or fish turning a sickly shade of brown after being yanked out of someone's ass.

Funny People is one of Sandler's best movies, it's only real flaw being that it's too long. There's about 30 minutes that could have been cut out of the 2 hour, 16 minute film. Still, there are worse things you can do to a movie than have it fall into the "too much of a good thing" category.

Sandler plays George Simmons, a character loosely based on Sandler's own life. I think Sandler himself described George as what Sandler would have become had he made different decisions in his life. George is a movie star known for his over-the-top comedies such as the movie where he played a merman or when he became a baby with Adam Sandler's head. Simmons discovers he has leukemia and begins feeling that his life is empty despite his success and vast wealth. He has no truly close friends and lost the only woman he ever really loved over a dozen years earlier. He decides on a whim to drop in at a comedy club and do some standup, something he hasn't done in five years. He bombs because standup comedy isn't like riding a bike. You can't just jump back into it after years, even if you're one of the greats.

That is where Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) becomes involved in George's life. Ira is an aspiring comic who has to follow George who has the best set of his life mainly by making fun of how poorly George had done that night. George gets over his anger at Ira by admitting he'd have done the same thing. Ira isn't a particularly good comic and is currently sleeping on a foldout couch with his two roommates. One of them is Leo (Jonah Hill), another aspiring comedian who is actually getting paid to do it and Mark (Jason Schwarzman), a comic who has loves to rub the fact that he's landed his own sitcom in the faces of his roommates. It's an especially lame show but it does pay $25,000 a week so Ira and Leo can't really make too much fun of Mark. As I said, at the moment Ira isn't a very good comic but he does have potential that George recognizes so he hires him to be a joke writer and personal assistant. Because he really has no one else, George starts opening up to Ira about his health and his life in general. Ira's supposed to keep it a secret so he naturally tells his buddies all about it.

I'm making this movie sound very serious but it's not. It's loaded with humor such as when Schwarzman's character tells Ira that he will sleep with the girl Ira likes if he doesn't actually make some sort of move on her in the next ten days or when George tells Ira that he'll pay Ira $50,000 to kill him and spare George the pain of dying from a terminal disease and then laughingly calls Ira a sick freak when he doesn't immediately dismiss the idea. There's also George's insightful observation that the reason Ira doesn't have a girlfriend is because his entire standup act is about farting and jacking off.

Sandler and director Judd Apatow mine a great deal of the story from their own lives. They were roommates back in the 80s when they were both starting out in standup comedy themselves and the movie opens with home movies they made of them making prank phone calls. George's unrequited love is played by Apatow's real life wife Leslie Mann (who's in all of Apatow's movies) and her daughters are played by their real life daughters Maude and Iris. The movie also serves as both a critique of and a love letter to the world of standup comedy. Paul Reiser, Sarah Silverman and pretty much anyone else who ever stood in front of a brick wall talking about why they don't just build the plane out of the black box appears in the movie as George's show biz buddies. All these personal touches turn Funny People from a something you watch into something you experience.

If only it hadn't been so...damn...LONG. The sequence toward the end where George reconnects with his old girlfriend goes on forever. Hell, it probably started back up again after the closing credits. I wonder what the hell they'll put on the DVD. Normally you would show deleted scenes but this movie doesn't have any. The guy in charge of sweeping up the editing room floor had very little to do in this movie.

Still, I recommend you go and enjoy the very good 90 minute movie buried inside this 136 minute behemoth. One final note: there's a scene where Judd Apatow's little girl Maude sings "Memories" during a school recital and wow, can she sing. Judd, if this whole movie making thing falls through and you can't even get a deal to make straight-to-DVD sex Van Wilder sequels, you can always star with her in a Disney show where she puts on a blond wig and becomes a pop star.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Obvious Answers

The answer is no.

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