Monday, November 30, 2009

Kick Flick

Ninja Assassin should have been better than it was. I'm not sure why Jackie Chan or Jet Li or, going back a bit further, Sonny Chiba or Bruce Lee could make significantly better martial arts movies for a fraction of the budget this one had. I was excited to see Ninja Assassin too when I saw one of the writers was Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski. For some reason, I just assumed this would set the movie a cut above other mindless action flicks. I forgot that Hollywood has a century long tradition of shoving the work of good writers into its mouth, digesting it and filming what comes out of the other end, a tradition proudly upheld by Ninja Assassin.

If you couldn't tell by the title, Ninja Assassin is not a Jane Austen adaptation, a Pixar film or a romantic comedy about jaded New Yorkers in their 30s trying to find love. I'm not sure why they had to hire a writer like Straczynski when what ended up on screen looks like it was written by a computer. The plot is Martial Arts Movie Plot #3. A man trained from childhood as a ninja betrays his evil ninja master and goes on a one man crusade against his former ninja comrades.

Raizo (Korean pop star Rain whom I only know from a running gag on The Colbert Report) fell in love with a girl who was also being raised at some sort of ninja orphanage run by the cruel and malevolent master Ozunu (Sho Kosugi, star of some ninja movies much better than this). Raizo and Ozunu have a falling out after Ozunu kills the girl for trying to run away. Okay, if this scenario is any way accurate and there happen to be actual ninjas reading this, I don't want to tell you your business or anything but it seems like raising boys and girls together and expecting them to not develop an attraction to each other is really kind of dumb. For all I know, coed ninja dorms are the norm and no problems at all result from that situation but it still seems unrealistic. Moving on.

After the cute girl ninja died, Raizo for some reason went to Berlin. Why? I don't know. One thing I managed to learn was no one in Japan or Germany speaks Japanese or German since the default language for both countries seems to be English so that's good to know. Raizo and the ninja cult come under the notice of a law enforcement organization called Europol. One of the agents gets marked for death when she finds out that Europol seems to be under the corrupt influence of the ninjas. Why she didn't just go and tell Interpol at this point is a mystery. Still, she does manage to get Raizo to protect her which means she get to scream a lot while she watches ninjas beat each other up.

The plot isn't really important, of course. The important part of the movie is the action which wasn't that great. It earns its R rating by showing loads of guys literally getting chopped in half by Raizo's knife-on-a-chain thing that's been prominently shown in the movie's trailer so it wasn't because they were going for some PG-13 compromise. The problem is that the makers of this movie, up to and including famous action film producer Joel Silver* simply lack the imagination of the folks who make the movies of Jackie Chan or Steven Seagal or even the minds behind The Matrix that managed to make Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne look like black belts.

Who would have thought the people who came up with an original title like Ninja Assassin would suffer from a failure of imagination?

*Who hilariously claimed that "the martial arts movie has never really had its day" until this movie was made.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Stupid With A Capital V

Dear makers of the show V: FUCK YOU!

You're all total dicks. You're also huge douchebags. The only reason you're not bigger douchebags is because you're total dicks and it's been scientifically proven that a large, quantifiable amount of dickishness has the unintended benefit of limiting the level of douchebaggery so they lucked out there. When your dumb little show premiered, I was apathetic about it. It wasn't the worst thing on television. I could take or leave it. It didn't matter to me if it got canceled or managed to hang on for a second season. In fact, I didn't even see last week's episode and didn't care. I did, however, see this week's episode. Now I care. Now I'm passionate. Now I wholeheartedly root for its cancellation. Why? It's really more my fault than it is yours. See, the makers of V are shitheads and I hate shitheads. It's my problem.

I've never been one to be outraged by fiction. It happens from time to time. Movies like Bride Wars or the finale of Battlestar Galactica have been known to invoke a reaction that can be described as apocalyptic. Even then, I can pretty much let go any sort of political or social messages contained in fiction that either actually exist or, as is more often the case, people imagine are there. I've written many times about how annoyed I get when people who can't tell fantasy from reality hold up a work of fiction as proof and vindication of their worldviews. This has been the case with V. The fact that the show's producer is an openly gay liberal Obama supporter hasn't stopped people from seeing it as a strident criticism of the Obama administration. Ordinarily, I'd have commented on such stupidity but as I said, I simply didn't care enough to do so. Until now.

Tuesday's episode was a smorgasbord of dumb. I wonder why the aliens refer to themselves by their human names when they're alone since, for the most part, they seem to have at least a mild contempt (in some cases not so mild) for our species. I find it preposterous that humans are so incurious about where the V's came from and what their world and culture are like. We as a race seem perfectly content to allow powerful aliens to set up embassies, healing centers, soft serve yogurt stands etc. while knowing so little about them. Another storyline involves the human resistance led by Elizabeth Mitchell thinking it would be a good idea to let a dangerously unstable man take the lead in a plot to kidnap a V. There's also a story about a V impregnating a human woman without the aid of genetic engineering, something that Carl Sagan once said he found to be the least believable thing about Star Trek. This shows the scientific ignorance of the show's staff from the producers on down who probably think Africa is crawling with human/chimp hybrids. Anyway, all this was just run of the mill TV stupidity on par with generations of science fiction shows that have called a solar system a galaxy. What pissed me off? I guess I've buried the lede long enough.

The V's were attempting to infect humanity with something called R6. I'll be damned if I can remember what the hell R6 is supposed to do but I doubt it's good. Anyway, supposedly the V's were mixing this R6 in with some sort of super vitamin supplement when they were actually mixing it in with flu vaccine. Yeah, that's right, the makers of V decided to reinforce the fears of Jenny McCarthy acolytes who believe that vaccines are evil based mainly on evidence they found up their asses. It's very rare that you hear me groan at a television show's plot. The last time I did that was during the one and only episode of the now canceled Eli Stone I ever saw in which a lawyer receives visions telling him that vaccines cause autism.

I have no idea if the producers meant to send the message that people shouldn't take flu vaccine. In fact, knowing them, I'd say they put as much thought into it as they did the idea of human/alien hybrids. Still, we currently are in the middle of a global flu pandemic that is literally killing people and V comes along to tell the more ignorant members of our population who were on the fence as to whether they should take the vaccine that yes, the crazy paranoid cousin who said that the government is hiding the fact that vaccines make your belly button close up and cause your urine to catch fire just might have had a point.

So, I will now join the majority of the nation and stop watching V altogether. Until it's canceled, I will practice the dance I'm going to do on its grave.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Things I'm Thankful For

Up. Why can't Pixar make every movie?

Videos like this. I love Peter Serafinowicz:

Supernatural. It's a very underrated show. It has interesting horror storylines while also being funnier than most sitcoms.

Doctor Who. When you hear the DH theme song, you're pretty much guaranteed to be entertained.

My own bad ass.

Big Hollywood. Nothing has supplied me with more unintentional hilarity or column topics in the past year.

Twitter. I have a lot of fun on Twitter. If you're not following me, I'm sure you think you have a good reason no matter how wrong it may be.

Quentin Tarantino. Whenever you hear about a new Tarantino movie, you're convinced it can't possibly work then leave the theater knowing you've seen one of the year's best movies.

Roger Ebert. He's a great writer and so very often over the years he's seen things in movies that no one else manages to see. I wish he would adopt me, unless I had to do housework of course.

Avatar. I'm cautiously optimistic that it will at least work as a visual spectacle so it gets put on this list as a leap of faith.

The awesomeness that is I.

Archer Farms Monster Mash Trail Mix. I eat this mixture of nuts, raisins, yogurt and M&M's in theaters instead of popcorn now. It's not a low calorie food by any means but it is lower in saturated fat than movie popcorn so I can at least fool myself into thinking I'm being good to my body. Also, it tastes better so it's a win/win for me.

And finally I am thankful to you, my wonderful readers. I only wish there were more of you. Spread the word.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Look At My Briefs -- 11/25/09

As I anticipate possibly not posting on Thursday due to the fact it's a special day (I'm going to try on new pants that day and that always overwhelms me) I present a special Wednesday edition of Look At My Briefs.

Shouldn't this be Orson Welles and I?

I like Kat Dennings and am glad to see she joined the Thor cast. Sadly, it looks like a small part so, for now, she'll still be stopped in the street and be asked if she was the girl in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist who got fingered by Michael Cera. It's nice to be a working actress but it's still a hell of a thing to be known for.

The Fox Network gave us all a handy list of the shows that will premier next year, be cancelled after four episodes and be replaced by reruns of House and Lie to Me. Thanks, Fox.

Ninja Assassin comes out today. I wonder what it's about.

Good call, Producers Guild.

I'd like to meet the guys with top level college educations who think it's a good idea to take their sites off the world's most popular search engine. They seem like people who'd be really easy to beat at cards.

You really have to be a moron to think the extremely liberal Harlan Ellison is someone who should be held up as an example for conservatives. Fortunately for conservatives, at least one such moron exists.

The new clips from Avatar look a lot better than the ones that came out months ago but the title could still be Dances With Wolves In Space. This means that the spectacular visuals could get very old very quickly if coupled with a dumb story. But what am I worried about? Surely a top level movie studio would never commit to spending hundreds of millions of its company's dollars without making damn sure that it had a top shelf script, right?

If I find I don't have time to post for the rest of the week, have a good holiday, all. If I do find time, please have such a crappy holiday that you come here looking for solace.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Things I've Learned From Watching Movies Part 78

Shockingly, it turns out that yanking a guy's mind out of his head and cramming it into an alien body is a particularly bad idea.

New Yorkers that move to rural environments completely lose the use of their brains.

All of a nation's problems can be solved by rugby. By the way, the last time Morgan Freeman played a President, a comet hit the Earth. Let's hope this movie doesn't end the same way.

Brutally murdering little girls is bad. Thank goodness we have movies to tell us this.

There is no God.

Yeah, go ahead and rip off your own armored car. What could go wrong?

When a you start seeing a double of yourself, you should really just ignore what it says.

If you do nothing else, try to avoid being chosen by God to do, well, anything.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Gosh, has it been a year?

It will come as no shock to regular readers of this site that you are about to read a negative review of New Moon. I was rereading the review I wrote last year for Twilight and I see I did a very poor job of conveying my dislike for the film. That's a mistake I'm going to correct this year.

It's hard to spoil New Moon since all the major plot points are in the various ads and trailers. This gives me the luxury of describing all of the movie's epic and vapid stupidity.

The story picks up where it left off last year. Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is a girl who, through an entrancing mixture of slouching, mumbling and staring at the ground, managed to become the center of her high school's world. Every boy there fawns over her including a handsome vampire named Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Edward won Bella's heart by staring at her creepily, speaking with no passion or emotion and telling her flat out that her scent made him want to rip off her head and suck in every drop of her blood. You can see why she thinks he's so dreamy. Among the large number of other boys who are madly in love with her is Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), a member of local Native American tribe called the Quileutes, a word which I think translates as "Buff, shirtless athletes with pecs like watermelons".

After boring everyone for about 20 minutes, Bella manages to give herself a small cut at a birthday party being thrown for her by the whole Cullen vampire clan. This causes Jasper, the Cullen who always looks constipated, to spring into a blood drinking frenzy and go after Bella. This results in one of the movie's few action sequences, something that director Chris Weitz immediately shut down once he realized what was happening. Edward saves Bella but decides that it's now too dangerous for her to be around them so he leaves her behind in the the cold, depressing town of Forks, Washington and, as a punishment to himself, moves to warm, wonderful Italy.

Bella spends several months moping and listening to emo music before allowing the handsome Jacob to start romancing her. One of the movie's themes is that young girls should fall for frightening stalker types so, after Bella becomes dependent on him, he starts lapsing into angry mood swings and says he doesn't want to see her anymore. This only makes him more attractive to Bella so she keeps after him until she discovers he and some other members of his tribe are werewolves. After that preposterous scenario plays out, things start to get weird in the form of a vampire group called the Volturi who are quite possibly the most bored looking people in the history of cinema.

New Moon is a boring movie about dull people who manage to make encounters with supernatural creatures look mundane. To top that off, its fundamentalist worldview that girls should be the submissive pets of dangerous men is downright harmful. Even when Edward and Bella are parted, Edward never surrenders his role as her Priest Overseer and constantly appears to her in visions when she's about to do something she shouldn't like drive too fast or eat junk food. Like a good abuse victim, Bella keeps going back for more and more danger just so she can see Edward. There's another character named Emily who is engaged to one of the other werewolves and cheerfully stays with him even after he horribly scars one side of her face. I'm not sure if author Stephanie Meyer really believes that there is no level of abuse and pain that women shouldn't be willing to tolerate in order to be subservient to the men in their lives but that's how it comes off.* Luckily, the books and the movies aren't good enough to really pound that message home. Instead Twilight fans can immerse themselves in a mindless, dreamy romance and not be horrified by its anti-feminist message.

*If you want to see how much more crap the men in Bella's life are going to serve her, Google a synopsis of the next two books. Breaking Dawn especially is one of the most awesome mixes of revolting storytelling and unintentional hilarity I've ever seen.

Friday, November 20, 2009

How To Annoy Twilight Fans

New Moon has finally arrived in theaters. Since Twilight fans have seen fit to annoy me over the past year by taking a series of poorly written novels and a crappy movie and raising them to the level of cultural phenomenon, I will now return the favor and give you all some phrases guaranteed to annoy Twilight fans.
The vampires sparkle? Oh, that's rich. Like I would fall for that.
I won't say which one, but one of the vampires gets killed by Snape.
Why would Edward want Bella when he could get someone way hotter?
I'm really looking forward to Edward's lightsabre battle with Wolverine.
I've heard in New Moon we finally find out exactly what the Smoke Monster is.
Do you think Edward and Bella will survive after the neutrinos in the Earth's core cause the continents to displace?
Why do they have to walk to Mordor when Edward could just turn into a bat and fly the One Ring into Mt. Doom?
Does Edward finally come out of the closet in this story or is that in Breaking Dawn?
Is the douchebag level of the characters higher or lower in this sequel?
Do girls actually fall in love with you when you tell them that they smell so good you want to brutally murder them?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Look At My Briefs -- 11/19/09

Time for another collection of brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

I'm a big fan of author Warren Ellis so I'm pleased to that his Global Frequency is getting another shot at becoming a television series. I've seen parts of a pilot that was made in 2005 but failed to get picked up by a network. I consoled myself that now, at least, they wouldn't get the chance to screw it up. Now, it looks like it will get made and they'll finally get their shot at screwing it up. Yay?

Johnny Depp is the Sexiest Man Alive, eh? Once again, I have been ignored even though I have been assured on numerous occasions by my mommy that I am the handsomest boy in the world.. It's almost as if People's annual award was some sort of meaningless popularity contest.

A samurai movie with Keanu Reeves? Well, Tom Cruise managed to pull it off. Then again, he's Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves is in a category of actor commonly called "Not Tom Cruise."

I keep meaning to review V but haven't gotten around to it. Snap review: nothing special. If it got continues for years, I won't care (unless it improves). If it gets canceled tomorrow, ditto. I've also meant to comment on attempts by right wing thinkers to take a show about lizard people and turn it into some sort of searing allegorical indictment of the Obama administration. This article that showed up on, of all places, Big Hollywood should put an end to that. Should, but certainly won't. If it does get canceled, look forward to the theories that it had nothing to do with low ratings.

Isn't it time to put Jay Leno out of his misery? I could have told them that five primetime hours of a fairly dull talk show was a bad idea but no one listened to me. From what they say, Leno was given this because it's considerably cheaper to do his show than to produce 5 new, different shows. In fact, a lot of Hollywood people hate this whole situation because hundreds of people lost their jobs so Leno's show could go on. I don't know how low Leno's ratings have to go before they pull the plug but, if he were anyone else, he'd have been canceled around week 3.

Tomorrow is New Moon day so everyone remember not to look directly at sparkling vampires as you may go blind.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Moon

I saw 2012 and Moon on the same weekend. I wonder if, just maybe, the reason I was so hard on the former is because the latter set the bar so high. Moon is not a perfect movie but it shares something in common with more recent fare like Knowing and The Box in that, unlike 2012, it is serious, thought provoking science fiction. I've been a science fiction fan my whole life and I hardly ever see anything that can truly be described as such. Sure, in the technical sense, 2012 is science fiction. The science, after all, is completely fictional.

I don't want to give away too much of Moon's plot. I went into it not knowing too much so I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.

I suppose I can say that Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, a technician pulling a lonely three year tour of duty on a Lunar Mining Station. His three year contract is nearing its end and he's looking forward to going back to Earth to once again be with his wife and the daughter he's never met, at least not in person. His only company is GERTY, a robot voiced by Kevin Spacey. Clearly no one 50 years in the future has ever seen the movie 2001 because GERTY looks and talks a lot like the homicidal computer HAL from that movie. In fact, the station in which Sam Bell resides looks a lot like the 2001's spaceship Discovery One. That's probably intentional as is GERTY'S resemblance to HAL. I will say this: GERTY is not HAL, but GERTY is also not exactly what it appears to be.

Anyway, Sam only has two weeks to go when he starts hallucinating. This leads to an accident. When Sam wakes up, he's back in the station being tended to by GERTY who won't allow him out of the station. When Sam does manage to get out, he finds a man who looks exactly like him.

I love that there turns out to be an intelligent and logical reason for everything that's happened up to this point. I'm not going to say what it is, of course. I wish more people had seen Moon as it's entertaining as well as intelligent. This isn't a huge cerebral acid trip like Knowing. Moon is just a decent science fiction story told simply and well about a man who think he's losing his mind and finds out that what's actually happening is much worse. First time writer/director Duncan Jones can rest assured that I'll be first in line for his next movie.

I suppose no one is reading this because you're all out watching 2012. If so, you probably won't be mentally healthy to watch anything again until January which is right around the time Moon comes out on DVD. And yes Twilight fans, I intentionally fucked with you by titling this New Moon. Deal with it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's The Point?

I'm not sure why I'm bothering to review 2012. Everyone pretty much knew ahead of time it was going to be stupid but that didn't stop the movie from a worldwide gross of a quarter billion dollars in its opening weekend. The best thing I can say about it is that some morons out there will take it seriously and remove themselves from society in an attempt to survive the nonexistent global cataclysm of 2012.

In the first five minutes of the film you discover the bullshit reason that the world is doomed, something about neutrinos superheating the Earth's core. As he did in Day After Tomorrow, director Roland Emmerich treats the laws of science as if they were the loosely enforced guidelines of science. One of the characters, Super Action Scientist Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor), even says all this is impossible but it happens anyway. Unfortunately, in this movie it doesn't occur to anyone to build a ship out of Unobtainium and use it to detonate some nukes inside the Earth's core so the Earth is doomed. Surprisingly, this discovery is greeted with very little skepticism by the higher level members of the government who normally deny whatever godawful thing is on its way and say things like, "Do you know how much money we'll lose if we do what you want us to do?"

While everyone's running around trying to develop some sort of anti-end-of-the-world technology, we meet Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) and his family. These are the only people the movie wants us to give a crap about so that we won't care too much that five billion people died as long as they survive. Jackson is a writer/limo driver whose ex-wife played by Amanda Peet left him for a plastic surgeon, probably because he was a "plastic surgeon" and not a "plastic surgeon/limo driver." Thanks to the insights and resources only a writer/limo driver could possibly have, Jackson manages to figure out that the world is close to death and gets his kids, his ex and her new, better husband out of Los Angeles before it sinks into the ocean. Jackson then figures that the best bet for survival is to get a map from some crazy guy played by Woody Harrelson that he met in Yellowstone Park. This may all sound stupid to you but you must remember that people in 2012 will think on a higher, more sophisticated level that we in the more innocent days of 2009 can't possibly understand.

The plot, of course, only exists so they can squeeze in all those expensive CGI destruction scenes you've seen in the ads. So, were all the special effects-laden action sequences good enough to allow you to ignore the exercise in stupidity also known as "the plot"? Let me think. There was that one scene in Los Angeles where John Cusack just barely manages to outrun the oncoming destruction. Then there was the scene in Yellowstone where John Cusack barely manages to outrun to oncoming destruction. Oh, almost forgot when John Cusack went to Las Vegas and barely get the idea. This movie was 2 hours, 38 minutes of pretty much the same action scene over and over.

Broken down to its essentials, 2012 is South Park's head lice episode without the jokes. You can go rent that on DVD and save yourself 9 bucks and over two hours of your time.

The one good thing about 2012? It may keep some people from seeing New Moon. Wow, 2012 and New Moon in the space of seven days. Oh Lord, what have we, your humble servants, done to offend thee so?

Monday, November 16, 2009


Sorry all, busy weekend means nothing new today. Except this of course. Maybe if you just say, "This is awesome," then it will be.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I'm sorry, I can't do this anymore. I was going to take this even further but I just can't go on. For the last several months, I've been playing an elaborate joke on the entire planet. I never thought it would work or get this far yet, here we are.

There is no movie called 2012. Its existence was made up. By me.

Yes yes, I know. You've all seen the commercials of the Sistine Chapel and the White House being destroyed. Did it all on my iPhone. Man, those phones can do anything. Maybe you're wondering how I could afford to buy all that commercial time. Shows what you know. All I had to do was tell them these were public service ads for a charity that raises money for people who can't wipe their own asses. They never even checked. The big question is: how did I get actors like John Cusack and Amanda Peet to go along with this joke. Answer: I didn't. You'd be surprised what you can accomplish with a little makeup and a lot of Mexican day laborers.

The guy on the left was John Cusack. The one on the right was Amanda Peet.

So, there it is. I was planning on making everyone buy a ticket only to have them see a short film of me saying, "SURPRISE!" before you were refunded your money but enough is enough. Seriously, did any of you really think someone would spend millions of dollars to make some stupid action film based on Mayan death prophecies? Yeah, they might, but here's the real kicker. There never was a race of people called the Mayans. Yep, that was all me. I've been planning this for decades. It was remarkably easy to make up some pictures of ruins and pieces of pottery then get journals like Nature to publish my articles about the so-called "long dead Mayan civilization" and their prophecies that the world would end in 2012.

Anyway, here's hoping you've all gotten a good laugh out of this and that there are no hard feelings. I'm sorry if you were looking forward to seeing this movie. You can always go see A Christmas Carol or The Men Who Stare At Goats or just wait until next week and see New Moon. Hee hee, New Moon. Okay, I should confess now that New Moon is also one of my better save it till next week.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Look At My Briefs -- 11/12/09

I imagine the world will end tomorrow to prevent the release of 2012 which means I only have one more chance to present brief comment on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Kidman playing a married couple? Doesn't look like some soft core porn film with loads of gratuitous nudity but a man can dream.

This is a very funny takedown of the Twilight books. I didn't realize just how Mormon they were.

I feel sorry for Harry Hamlin. Clash of the Titans is the one film of his I can name off the top of my head and now they're remaking it. Still, that's the way of the world and you'd probably be more likely to stop hurricanes by complaining about them than you would all the Hollywood remakes. Let's see, Olivier played Zeus in the original. I'm guessing Anthony Hopkins in this one. *checks IMDB* Nope, Liam Neeson. I guess I'm losing my touch. I liked this movie better when it was called 300.

Oh no, ABC is canceling Eastwick. This means I'll never get the chance to watch the show I had completely forgotten was on. I wish I had been a fan of this show as the internet was always remarkably free of Eastwick spoilers so each new episode would have been a surprise.

Regular readers of this site know that I have in the past written about Big Hollywood contributor S.T. Karnick and his ability to doom any movie or television show that he likes. So far he has buried Land of the Lost, Eleventh Hour and The Goode Family. Last month, he gushed about the new Kelsey Grammer sitcom Hank. Well, not exactly "gushed" as he admitted it wasn't that funny but that we should all watch it anyway since it fit into his worldview and social agenda. So, will Karnick finally be able to break the streak and support a hit?

And now I present today's MEGA AWESOME MOMENT. Yep, a Dr. Horrible sequel is definitely in the works. Had Bad Horse stomped the Doctor to death yet? Will Penny be cloned, plucked from a parallel universe or be her own evil twin? Is it possible that this will completely suck several metric tons of ass? No way...okay, I take it back. Anything can be ruined for a variety of reasons. Still, this is Whedon and his peeps free from interference of any kind so I'm going to flip flop again and say no way will it suck.

This Sunday I have both the new Prisoner series AND new Doctor Who. I'm not sure but I think this means I no longer have need for human contact.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bizzarro World Movie Reviews -- 2012

For the past two decades there have been two names that dominated the world of cinema. These are the filmmakers against whom all others are judged and measured. They seem to exist on a separate plane, one to which mere mortals such as we cannot even imagine, much less enter. One of these two great directors is Michael Bay and the other, as if I even needed to tell you, is Roland Emmerich.

After sweeping the Oscars with last year's 10,000 B.C., many people expected The Great One to take some time off before even attempting to create something that had even a fraction of the cinematic greatness contained in that masterpiece. This caused many people to scoff at the idea that there would be a mere 18 month gap between what Roger Ebert described as, "A film of wonderful ideas so perfectly melded with images spectacular in both their imagination and their beauty that it makes one think Emmerich must have gone back in time and actually lived amongst the mammoth hunters in order to get this perfect footage." I am here today to tell you that these fears were unfounded and now look like the bitchy chattering of jealous schoolgirls trying to talk down something they don't understand. No sane person can look at 2012 and deny that The Great One has done it again.

In 10,000 B.C., Emmerich showed where we've been. In 2012, he shows us where we're going. True, this is science fiction but, as he did with Day After Tomorrow, The Great One insisted that this movie be so firmly grounded in scientific fact that Emmerich's critics have tried and failed to label it as riddled with factual inaccuracies and impossibilities. Lesser filmmakers would have taken the idea of a family trying to survive the end of the world and made it a simplistic action film but Emmerich's restrained use of action and computer generated special effects causes us to focus not on the spectacular devastation but rather on the human story of his richly drawn characters. When you see it, you think it must be an older film directed by Ingmar Bergman or Stanley Kubrick but no, it could have only come from the man who, in the past, has taught us all to be better people whether it's by having aliens blow up the White House or a monster from Japan rampaging through New York City.

It would be a crime to reveal any more of the plot here. When you see the movie, its unexpected twists and turns will carry you away into a world of pure imagination. It's the ultimate irony that, in these dark and depressing times, it is a movie about the world's end that will lift our spirits to new heights and make our society better. Don't just see 2012. Experience it!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Non-American Carol

My favorite movie adaptation of A Christmas Carol is a 1978 made-for-TV movie with George C. Scott as Scrooge. After watching the weekend's release of an animated Robert Zemekis directed A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey as Scrooge, I have a new favorite. It is now the 1984 made-for-TV movie with George C. Scott as Scrooge. Just checked IMDB and they said I was wrong before when I said it was made in 1978. It's saying a lot that this was one of Scott's better performances. Scott really understood Scrooge. Instead of simply playing him as a stern, selfish and greedy man, Scott added a wicked sense of humor and a dash of sadism that really fleshed Scrooge into something that made his ultimate transformation all the more special and interesting. Jim Carrey...doesn't do that.

I must warn you, if you are unfamiliar with the plot of A Christmas Carol, there will be spoilers. This means you've never read the book, scene any of the movies or watched that episode of Friends where Joey was visited by three ghosts who looked like Chandler, Ross and Rachel to help him realize that he should embrace the true meaning of Christmas by spending it with his friends instead of banging swimsuit models.

This movie stays faithful to the book and sets it self apart from other Christmas Carol adaptations with its wonderful animation. I didn't see it in 3-D (my local Regal Cinema actually bragged that the movie was showing in "Traditional 2-D") but still it was loaded with visual imagination. My favorite scenes were the ones in the past. When the Ghost of Christmas Past brought him back in time the whole world seemed brighter and more colorful, just the way we remember the past and Jim Carrey actually got me a little choked up when he started getting overwhelmed by the poignancy of it all, especially when he saw his late, beloved sister, Fan. Nope, I have few complaints about what Zemekis managed to show us and still remain faithful to the story with the exception of the car chase. Well, okay, a horse-and-buggy chase but it still seemed long and kind of dumb but that was the only thing.

I just wish Carrey's portrayal had been more like George C. Scott's. Maybe it's unfair to compare someone to one of the greatest screen actors who ever lived but that's where my mind kept going throughout the movie. Carrey was good in the role (he also played the ghosts) but he played it the way it's mostly been played for a hundred years. For example, Carrey said the line about Christmas lovers should be boiled in their own pudding with straightforward sternness whereas Scott's Scrooge chuckled at his own cleverness.

Still, it's a good movie and well worth your time. The 1984 version is also a good movie and worth your time so why not watch both? You'll have a Dickens of a time. GET IT? DICKENS OF A TIME? Oh God, I love me.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cameron Diaz Can't Keep Her Hands Off The Box

A few months ago, a movie came out called Knowing. It was a fascinating, engaging and often infuriating film that inspires both love and hate for it in me. Like Knowing, The Box makes you think it will be a simple, suspenseful mystery story with possible supernatural/science fiction elements then takes the story into such bizarre, unexpected directions that your brain gets whiplash. The downside here is that it's not as well made as Knowing which sucks for them because a movie has to be at least as well made as Knowing to get away with the stuff The Box tries to get away with.

Cameron Diaz and James Marsden play Norma and Arthur Lewis, a couple living with their son in 1976 Virginia. If this movie is anything to go by, everyone in 1976 was clinically depressed. Seriously, smiles are hard to come by and, when you do see one, it's usually either villainous or creepy. I don't know why Arthur is depressed. While he did get rejected for astronaut training, he still works for NASA which is one of the coolest things you can do and he has a wife who looks like Cameron Diaz. Still, I guess he would be depressed just to blend in. Early one morning, a locked box is delivered to their doorstep and later a well dressed fellow named Arlington Steward (Frank Langella) shows up at their doorstep to tell them exactly what the box is. It's hard to hear what he says at first due to a major distraction. Arlington Steward is missing a huge chunk of the left side of his face. This isn't just some makeup job either as the filmmakers used CGI to remove a portion of his face, onscreen anyway. I hope they didn't actually chop off a piece of Langella's face though, if they did, he can tell Robert DeNiro to kiss his ass the next time Bobby brags how he gained ten pounds for a role.

Anyway, as I'm sure you've seen in the ads, the box contains a button. Steward tells Norma that if she presses the button two things will happen. One, he will give her a million dollars and two, someone on the planet she does not know will die as a result of the button being pushed. She and Arthur have been having some money problems lately so, after, lengthy discussion, Norma ends up quickly pushing the button before she can change her mind and says, "It's just a box." This statement was based on the fact that Arthur opened it and found no machinery or transmitters of any kind. It was just a button and an empty box yet, somehow, Steward knew it had been pushed when he showed up to give them the million dollars.

It was around this point that I finally recognized this story as a cinematic adaptation of Richard Matheson's 1970 short story Button, Button. This made me think I knew how it would end but man, was I wrong. The story had an ironic and cruel twist ending whereas this one, well, I don't want to tell you except that ultimately the story is about two choices these characters have to make and that, each time, they made the wrong choice.

The movie itself feels like a melding of the films of David Lynch and Alfred Hitchcock yet, surprisingly, the director's name was Richard Kelly and not Dafred Lynchcock. The movie's direction and worldview now make more sense knowing it was written and directed by the guy who made Donnie Darko. Not much more sense, but some.

As I said, the style of filmmaking and storytelling is similar to that of Knowing and I've always said I have mixed feelings about Knowing but it still fascinates me. My attitude toward The Box is similar. It starts off as creepy suspense and from there pretty much gets on a train to Crazytown. It gets more and more outrageous until it finally reaches the ending I didn't like. Still, it interests me. I've gotten so good at figuring out movie plots that it was nice not to see where this one was headed, kind of like how Dr. Manhattan could overlook the deaths of millions because of his excitement that his ability to see the future had been impaired.

After writing this, I read Ebert's review and I think this sentence perfectly describes the experience of seeing this movie:
The writer-director, Richard Kelly, goes from A to Z using 52 letters, but his transitions flow so uncannily it's only when you look back that you realize you're off the road.
It took me six paragraphs to say what he said in one sentence. That's why he's a successful Pulitzer Prize winning writer and I'm some guy on the internet.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Naughty Trail Mix

Does this get you hot? LOL.

(Warning: you will not get this joke if you don't follow me on Twitter. And no, I'm not proud of what I've done here today.)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Stuff George Lucas Says If You Ask Him Questions While He's Drunk

"You know something I absolutely love that never, ever gets old? I think it's just great when people ask me if the Force is real and it's possible to actually become a Jedi. Really, you're neither stupid or insane to ask something like that so keep doing it."

"No, I don't mind at all that you just walked up to me in a restaurant and felt free to interrupt my meal to inform me that a parsec is actually a unit of distance and not a unit of time. Jesus, it was thirty years ago. Let it go."

"Greedo actually did shoot first, you say? Huh, no shit, really? I'm the guy who wrote both versions yet I had no idea so it's a good thing you came along. Dumbass."

"You think Lord of the Rings was better than Star Wars? Then why the hell aren't you bothering Peter Jackson instead of me?"

"You want me to take your Star Wars fanfiction home with me? Why not, I need something to wipe my ass with."

"What was I thinking when I made Howard the Duck? I only reveal that information to people I've kicked in face. Still want to know?"

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was hated by everyone, you say? Gosh, I was too busy counting the 800 million dollars in worldwide grosses to notice that."

"What sort of direction did I give Harrison Ford just before we encased him in carbonite? How the fuck should I know? Do you know how long ago that was? What were you thinking back in 1980?"

"How could an organization as ruthlessly efficient as the Galactic Empire that's run by a guy who can see the future allow the design flaw that allowed Luke to blow up the Death Star? Suck my dick, that's how."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Look At My Briefs -- 11/5/09

It's the first Thursday of November, an entirely non-momentous event that calls for another edition of brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

I normally would never condone people stabbing themselves but in this case it's not only understandable but it makes you wonder why more Blockbuster employees don't do it. Let's hope he didn't get the knife from Blockbuster or they'll charge him a late fee.

I didn't expect an Oscars ceremony hosted by Hugh Jackman to be the least bit entertaining only to be proven wrong. On the other hand, I think having Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin host next year's Oscars will be 10,000 pounds of awesome which probably means it'll suck on 10th-circle-of-hell levels.

It's a shame Whedon isn't serious about this as this certainly would be 10,000 pounds of awesome. (Think I'll make that my new catchphrase. It would replace, "Pour the lemonade, Admiral.")

This week's fantasy: New Moon turns out to be one of the greatest movies ever made, a fact that drives away hardcore Twilight fans and makes it one of the biggest money losers in history.

Summing up Big Hollywood: The Onion joking that they want Glenn Beck to die is the worst thing ever done in human history. Why, if Glenn Beck was to die, he would no longer be able to do awesome bits like fantasizing about putting poison into Nancy Pelosi's wine.

Speaking of right wing jerks trying to censor content, how much you want to bet that people who've never before considered watching Gossip Girl will now tune in because the PTC raised a huge stink about a threesome storyline on the next episode? Hell, I might watch it. You know, for research purposes. And for wanking material.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Abso-friggin-lutely Nothing

Taking the day off due to heavy workload. Also, have to tabulate my State Boob Inspector election results. Bye till tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rock The Vote

It's Election Day across the country and I need your help. I have decided to enter the political ring here in New York state so if you live there or know anyone who does then you can support my candidacy. I am running for the vaunted office of State Boob Inspector. If I win, it will be my responsibility to check out women's boobs throughout New York. This will not be something I do lightly or for personal pleasure but, rather, to someday be able to look into the eyes of my children and grandchildren and tell them that yeah, I made a difference.

One problem was that, when I went to register my candidacy, they kept insisting I couldn't as there was no elected office called State Boob Inspector. I then said to just register me for whichever politician is responsible for checking the breasts of every woman in New York state and they said there was no such office. This leaves me with only one option: Write-In Candidacy.

Sure, there may not be a State Boob Inspector now but I'm betting that, if they get enough write-in votes for me, in must be in the Constitution or something that they'd have to create one. I'm figuring about a million votes state-wide would accomplish this goal so, if you are a million registered New York voters or if you know a million of them, encourage them to write in a vote for me, Michael "The Mikester" Clear for New York State Boob Inspector. If I win, I'll start inspecting boobs tonight before I'm even sworn in.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Michael Moore Hates America

I finally got to see Capitalism: A Love Story and it wasn't what I expected. I think the best way to review this movie is to break it down to three individual parts.

1. Michael Moore Is Fat -- Capitalism, like all Michael Moore movies, is a mixture of humor, showmanship and stories that even the allegedly liberal media doesn't like to cover. Oh, sure, on the local level you see stories of people who lose homes in which their parents and grandparents lived but mostly they lament and tear their garments over the idea that CEOs will now have to struggle by on a meager $500,000 per year. The pundits on CNBC wonder how any company will be able to retain the people who wrecked the economy if their pay is limited like that. Michael Moore, on the other hand, insists on talking about how the average person is taking it on the chin and, in many cases, right up the ass either because they lost their jobs or fell for the con often supported by the folks at CNBC and other media outlets that they should be players in the world of banking and high finance.

2. Michael Moore Is A Fat, Rich, Commie Hypocrite -- Michael Moore is a liberal who isn't particularly well liked by the "liberal" media because Moore likes to remind them when they don't do their jobs. For instance, in this movie, Moore tells us how thoroughly the government, particularly the part of the government responsible for regulating the financial industry is infiltrated by people who worked in and got insanely wealthy because of the financial industry. Most media outlets simply dismiss this while Moore says it might not be such a good idea to appoint people to oversee financial workers whom they know as those lovely people they see at dinner parties. Because Moore says things like this, he receives from people like Wolf Blitzer and Maria Bartiromo something that people like the Treasury Secretary, both current and former, receive, that being scrutiny and skepticism.

3. Michael Moore Wants Us To Be Like Cuba With Himself As A Fat Fidel Castro -- Something Moore repeats throughout the movie is that capitalism is evil. This is something his critics bend over backwards to misunderstand. Moore has no problem with people who create a product, fairly sell it to the public and get rich as a result. Hell, that's how he makes his living, a fact used by his critics to brand him a hypocrite. The target of Capitalism:A Love Story isn't the guy who makes a tasty cupcake and manages to make a comfortable living by selling more cupcakes than other cupcake manufacturers. No, Moore would only start criticizing the cupcake guy if he started telling people that his competitors' cupcakes caused AIDS and then used his massive cupcake profits to bribe Congressmen with campaign contributions to get huge subsidies and tax breaks for himself that would be paid for by cutting Social Security payments to war widows while using a cheap, toxic corn syrup sweetened polymer for his cupcake filling. What I just wrote is a pretty good summation of the current state of capitalism as it exists today and it's also what Moore's movie is all about.

Moore's movie is a counterpoint to those in the media who preach the glories of individual wealth over common good. It's not a perfect movie. For example, Moore employs the trick he's used in every movie he's done in which he shows up in a place he knows he's not wanted in order to record them tossing him out. I don't feel like harping on its imperfections, though. I prefer to concentrate on the people who applauded at the movie's end and the generally positive discussion that ensued afterward. This fat hypocritical communist tells and shows us things that you hardly ever hear from people of his level in the modern media and for that we should all be thankful.