Friday, July 30, 2010

Down In The Boondocks

Today I've decided to continue my very irregular series of Liveblogs. As always, I must state that, if this were truly a liveblog, observations would have been posted in real time instead of being written ahead of time and posted at midnight. I just don't know what the hell else to call this. Pupablog would work but it sounds kind of gross so Liveblog it is. How this works is I pick a movie I haven't seen from Netflix Watch Instantly list and do a running commentary on it. The main purpose is for laughs which is why I've picked low hanging fruit like Hannah Montana and Species IV but, today, I'm going to do something that's such a cult classic that Regal Cinemas has shown it as a special event in just the past few months which means I may end up liking it and this whole thing will be a miserable failure, joke-wise at least. So everyone sit back and revel as my genius is exposed for the very first time to what is described as a quirky and violent crime thriller The Boondock Saints.

0:01:00 -- We open in Boston. I am not reassured by the fact that they chose the ugliest part of Boston to shoot their second unit exteriors.

0:03:48 -- Two creepy looking guys in black coats just walked up the aisle during a church service as the priest was speaking and no one objected or even noticed them. Maybe they're wearing those Harry Potter invisibility cloaks. Wait, one visiting priest saw them. He must have +5 vs. invisibility.

00:07:40 -- After some stupid, meaningless scenes at a meat packing plant, we've moved to a neighborhood Irish bar. The owner who has Tourettes for no real plot specific reason announces his lease on the bar will not be renewed. That's a shame because if there's one thing that's hard to find in Boston, it's an Irish bar.

00:08:30 -- Now everyone in the bar is being intimidated by gang of Russian stereotypes, the leader of which talks like Boris Badenov. I'm not exaggerating about that.

00:15:00 -- The bar scene faded to black before what looked like a major league fight was about to break out between the Irish guys and the Russians who had mistaken them for Moose and Squirrel. We see two dead Russians in an alley the next day which shows that the Russians' brilliant strategy of going after a barful of angry Irishmen with just three guys of their own somehow failed to pay off. Judging by this scene, the Boston Police Department only employs severely retarded people so it's good that Willem Dafoe showed up as FBI Agent Paul Smecker. Smecker wears a pink suit and listens to opera on a Discman (this is 1999) as he literally dances around the crime scene. As I suspected when I saw the bartender with Tourettes, this movie is making every character colorful simply for the sake of being colorful.

00:29:00 -- We've found out that, after getting their asses kicked in the bar, the Russians went after the film's heroes, the McManus brothers, at their crappy home. They cuff Connor McManus to a toilet and take the other, Murphy, out in the alley to shoot him. Why not shoot him in the apartment? Because that would have been inconvenient for the plot. Connor manages to yank the toilet he's cuffed to out of the wall and drops it from the roof onto the lead Russian. Connor obviously had years of precision toilet dropping training since he tossed it from 4 floors and hit the Russian instead of the other McManus brother who was right next to him. They also must be doing all this inside the Matrix since Connor jumped four stories down onto the other Russian and survived with nothing but a twisted ankle. We've also learned this is a very poorly written and directed movie. The music shifts from standard Irish fare to cheap electronic crap without notice. Camera angles and slow motion effects are done with the proficiency of a director just out of film school. Some of the dialogue is ok but most of it is stupid and, as I said before, the characters are all overly colorful for no good reason. This is a lousy movie which is AWESOME because that means by bad movie instincts weren't wrong.

0:50:00 -- Yeah, ok. The reason this movie is called The Boondock Saints is because Jesus, the Prince of Peace whose mercy is infinite, has called upon the McManus brothers to become ruthless, homicidal vigilantes. They respond to this call by doing what Jesus would do: they storm a room full of Russian mobsters and, in accordance with the Lord's wishes, shoot them in the face. They also show a sick, Christ-like sense of humor by making a friend of theirs think they are going to shoot him. Also, the movie is almost half over and Willem Dafoe's character is gay. All caught up? Cool.

0:52:00 -- They shot a cat. I like cats. Fuck you, writer/director Troy Duffy. Seriously, fuck you.

1:10:00 -- Just wanted to say I really miss Species IV. That movie also had film making incompetence on all levels but it also had a super sexy Swedish woman who kept taking off her clothes.

1:16:00 -- This movie is basically a series of episodes. The McManus brothers and their dumbass, overacting partner Rocco go from place to place shooting up bad guys in a stylized way. Willem Dafoe and his merry band of chunkheads analyze the aftermath, come up with jack and whine about it.

1:20:00 -- Jesus has apparently had second thoughts about employing His own personal hit squad so He caused an unintentionally hilarious fire fight between the vigilantes and some sort of super criminal called Il Duce. That's an Italian name so they naturally cast Scotsman Billy Connolly. Approximately 8000 rounds of ammo are shot by expert marksmen during this scene in which the two sides are both wide open and within 15 feet of each other. Maybe 3 shots actually hit their targets. Also Willem's hard to describe what he does here. Let's say that the time he played a villain who regularly leeched himself is no longer his most ridiculous role.

1:48:40 -- Yay, the movie's over. The McManus brothers and Rocco were captured by some Italian mobster stereotypes. They shot Rocco then left the brothers by themselves in the same way Blofeld used to leave James Bond in a shark tank by himself. They are assisted by Dafoe who, feeling that he could, in fact, find a way to go to even lower depths, dresses up as a woman* so he can sneak into the mob lair and make out with fat Italians before shooting them. He gets knocked out by Il Duce who then seems to have the McManus brothers where he wants them until SURPRISE it turns out he's actually their father and no, I did not make that up. The Clan McManus then breaks into a courthouse where a mobster is on trial and, after a pretentious and over-the-top speech, kill him. I know, I didn't see that coming either.

Have we learned anything from all this? I've learned three things. 1) I'm glad the 90s are over because they were loaded with crappy Tarantino ripoffs like this. 2)I don't know who the hell decides what is and is not a Cult Classic but whoever it is should be fired. And finally 3) If you're going to make a bad movie, make sure it has a hot, naked Swedish woman like Species IV did. I may watch that again.

* This includes a scene where Dafoe is writhing in sexual ecstasy on the floor. As a bonus, you get an upskirt shot. Seriously, why the hell is this movie a cult classic?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Look At My Briefs -- 7/29/10

So, we meet again. Now you shall se that student has surpassed the master when you read another round of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

What a shocking headline. I would have thought Transformers 3 would have Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen doing Shakespeare.

Oh, great, The Crow is being remade. Isn't that awesome? I can't wait to tell my grandkids that this was the day I heard about yet another big budget remake. I suppose I shouldn't complain since, if you're going to do remakes, The Crow is a good candidate. It had a decent premise that never panned out plus it spawned two even worse sequels. I hope they stopped at two, anyway. If they made more, I don't want to know. Who knows, maybe this remake will actually turn out all right HA HA HA yeah yeah, it will almost surely suck but I can dream.

Thanks to a glowing review that Leverage producer John Rogers put on his blog, I watched Session 9 streaming on Netflix and loved it. If you have Netflix, watch it as soon as you can. It's not a brainless slasher film though, judging by IMDB comments, it's sometimes lumped in with those. I had to think for a while to figure out what I had seen and what exactly had happened. You should definitely watch it to see what is possible for low budget horror films to do.

I was amused at entertainment sites this week as they reacted to Kim Kardashian's 14 year old sister, Kendall, posing for revealing bikini photos. Their basic reaction was, "We are outraged, OUTRAGED I SAY, at the sexual exploitation of such a young girl. This is wrong wrong wrong." The funny part of this would be the second part of their posts in which they would post the pictures. "Oh yes, we are outraged that these pictures, showcased prominently right here on this blog, exist. You can see for yourself as you view every luscious, forbidden inch of her in multiple page views why we have reacted so strongly to this enraging state of affairs." This is a typical example though I must warn you that the link is not safe for work.

God damn, do I have to hear Breaking Dawn rumors already? The 18 months between now and that movie's release are really going to suck. Still, six months after that, the Twilight Saga will end. Until they remake it. AAAAHHHHHH!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Salt Makes Everything Better

I make fun of preposterous plots a lot but the truth is that you can have the craziest damn plot imaginable and still make a good story out of it. Hell, one of the great classics of storytelling is a 2500 year old play about a man who, without his knowledge, kills his father and marries his mother before blinding himself. Then there's Hamlet, that play about the guy whose ghost dad tells him to kill his own uncle because said uncle killed him and then took Dead Dad's wife for his own. When he fails to do so, ends up getting poisoned along with his mom, who drinks poison meant for Hamlet, and his new Uncle-Dad who gets force fed poison by Hamlet*. That play is considered to be one of the best examples of writing in the history of the English language, a fact that always puzzles me since it's so loaded with cliches.

My point is that, if a story is well executed and told in an original way, it can be thoroughly preposterous and that brings us to Salt. You all know from the ads that Angelina Jolie plays a CIA operative named Evelyn Salt who gets accused by a Russian defector of being a deep-cover spy who is going to kill the current President of Russia so she escapes from a secure CIA location by doing things like jumping off a bridge onto a moving truck and driving a police vehicle off an overpass and barely sustaining a scratch even though she wasn't buckled or behind an airbag. Here's the thing about all that: what you've seen in the ads and trailers are the MOST believable parts of Salt. Despite that, it actually turns out to be a pretty good movie.

As the movie opens, we see poor Evelyn Salt being tortured by North Koreans who have arrested her for spying. She weeps and begs them to stop, insisting that she's not a spy. The North Koreans don't believe her because, well, she's a spy. Her husband, Mike, and closest associate at the agency, Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber), manage to get her out just in time for the real fun to begin. If you weren't sleeping during the first paragraph, you know that Salt is accused of being a Russian spy who is plotting to kill the visiting President of Russia. She handles this accusation by immediately doing things that make her look guilty such as running away and leading her fellow agents on a merry chase through the city as she tries to find her now missing husband. That probably all could have been explained if she hadn't gone ahead and killed the Russian President. Well, sort of. Kind of. Not really.

Salt actually has some genuine surprises, for me at least. It's nice that a big budget action film can still throw me for a loop like that as I normally call every twist and plot point within 20 minutes in movies like this and try to enjoy it for stunts, effects and jokes. This is surprising as Salt was written by Kurt Wimmer, author of such winners as Ultraviolet, the movie in which Milla Jojovich played a futuristic kind-of-vampire who lived and died and lived and died again before dying one last time before she lived thanks to one final, throw-away line of dialogue. Fortunately, Wimmer wasn't allowed to direct this time around and instead had the more capable hand of Dead Calm director Philip Noyce to give style, suspense and atmosphere to what by all rights should have been a really stupid and annoying movie.

Since it didn't anger me by insulting my intelligence, I guess you could say that, for once, Salt didn't raise my blood pressure. Get it? Raise my blood pressure? Cause, um, salt does that? Anyone? I am wasted on you people.

*Apologies for the spoilers to all these centuries-old stories.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I'm busy today but I'll try to make up for it by posting something tomorrow, my normal mid-week skip day. Until then, be good to yourselves and each other.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I Close My Eyes And I Drift Away

Normally when I toss around phrases like "best movie of the year" I'm talking about something that was released in the Fall in exactly 12 theaters nationwide that involves people in tights and corsets who speak in exotic accents about how horrible it is that classes and institutions keep us all apart as they deal with unrequited love and daddy issues while war rages. It feels unnatural to apply the term to a big budget studio action film being released in July in 2000 theaters that came in at #1 two weeks in a row. So, what am I talking about? Salt? Ramona and Beezus? Sorcerer's Apprentice maybe?

Nah, you all know I'm talking about Inception. Inception is the rarest of movies: a serious, intelligent and successful attempt at science fiction. Director Christopher Nolan does for science fiction what he did for comic book characters. He took it seriously and concentrated on things like story and character as opposed to most science fiction in film that is made by people who see it as an excuse to set the CGI department loose on an incredibly stupid script and then package the whole thing up as something that only joyless tightasses would criticize because the whole movie was meant to be fun. The amazing thing is that intelligent science fiction was achieved while also including neat special effects, car chases, gun battles and loads of explosions and it deserves a Best Picture Oscar just for that.

I don't want to give away too much of the plot although I've seen it twice and and may go see it again just too see if I can make an absolute determination about...well, let's just say certain details. I can tell you what you probably already know and that is that Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a man who has procured technology developed by the military that allows him to enter other people's dreams. He and his team use it for corporate espionage. They kidnap or at least manage to isolate for a time wealthy business titans and use the dream machine to extract their secrets which they then sell to the businessman's competitors. This all goes swimmingly until they do it to Saito (Ken Watanabe), a man who knew who they were when he saw them in his dreams and wants to hire them himself. His offer is one that Cobb cannot refuse and drives him to desperate lengths that put his team in danger.

Prominent members of the team include his main partner Arthur played by the increasingly impressive Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Arthur is the closest thing Cobb has to a best friend which, ironically, renders Cobb unable to confess some of his deepest secrets to him. The job of keeper of secrets falls to the team's newest member, Ariadne (Ellen Page). She was a college student identified by Cobb's father-in-law (Michael Caine) as someone who would be uniquely qualified for the job of Dream Architect and he was right. Wikipedia tells me she shares the name of a mythological character who helped a hero escape from the fabled Minotaur's Labyrinth and all I will say the name fully suits her as she helps Cobb battle a particularly nasty piece of his own subconscious. That's all I really want to say about the plot.

Inception has spawned a great deal of debate about what certain things meant and whether certain events even happened. If you want to, you can take everything at face value and enjoy Inception as a feast for the eyes and a high class action film but really, why the hell would you want to? There are so many mindless action films and stupid summer blockbusters that can be viewed without letting a single thought creep into your head. I'm glad there's at least one out there that not only fails to insult your intelligence but actually makes you think about and analyze what you just saw. And just think, they did all that without sexy werewolves or having grown men relieve themselves in a public swimming pool and yes, I will always hold up that scene from Grown Ups as the height of cinematic stupidity.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Some Guy Tries To Figure Out Inception

What the hell...I mean...what the hell...

Ok, all right, I think I have this figured out. You have that Japanese guy and he goes up to Leonardo DiCaprio and he says he wants him to dream up something new and that' no no, let me start over. Leo finds that girl from Juno, ok? And she's an architect, ok? With me so far? And then I think he wanted her to design some sort of city that can roll up like a carpet and then everyone starts floating because of that. Does that make sense? No, damn it, that can't be right.

Crap, why couldn't this movie have been more like Grown Ups? I had that down cold. They bitch about being old so they act like idiots and piss in a public pool and boom, everything's all right. But God forbid Mr. Fancy Pants Christopher Nolan make anything that simple. Nope, he has to do dreams and dreams within dreams and things that may not be dreams and then we get to see DiCaprio's wife who's either dead or a dream or both or neither. Frankly, I don't see a problem, not one single damn problem, that couldn't have been solved if every member of the cast had just gotten into a pool and pissed in it. They all could have had a good laugh, learned an important life lesson and gone on to a heart warming ending. Instead, I get buildings crumbling, people flying, winter turning into summer and back and is the ending heartwarming? I DON'T KNOW! I don't know if the ending is happy or sad or what. The credits rolled, the lights came up and I ended up making an ass out of myself by insisting to the theater manager that they must have left out a reel because the movie couldn't possibly be over.

Well you know what? Screw you, Christopher Nolan! Yeah, I said it. SCREW YOU, MR. "I'M TOO GOOD TO SHOW PEOPLE PISSING"! Don't even think I'll be going to see the next Batman movie and you know what I'm going to do with my Memento DVD? That's right, I'm gonna piss on it.

Whoa, WHOA WAIT A MINUTE! I think I got it. They're in Hell. Yeah, that has to be it. They're all dead and in Hell and that's why all their problems can't be solved by taking a leak in public. Damn, this all makes sense now. Or maybe they're just dreaming that they're in Hell...crap, I'm confused now. Maybe I should go see the movie again.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Look At My Briefs -- 7/22/10

It's hot out and I'm sweating and itching in places I didn't know I had. There is but one solution and that is another edition of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

Is a society truly free if you can't watch gay zombies having sex? I say Hell No!

It's Comic-Con time which means there's lots of big news in various forms of entertainment to report. However, since I was unable to go this year, I choose not to report on any of it and instead curse the very idea of Comic-Con and all that is associated with it. I may report if the Comic-Con building burns up and there are no reported survivors but that's about it.

Attention world: no, Bill Murray did not think that Garfield was written by the Coen brothers. This is what is known in some cultures as a joke, something Bill Murray has occasionally been known for. I've seen so many morons, especially on Twitter, who think he actually believed that.

Pretty much all I've heard up till now about Darren Aronofsky's The Black Swan is that it has a sex scene between Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman. This Variety article gives at least a few more details about the rest of the movie but all I really wanted to know about was the sex scene so I didn't pay attention. Another movie mentioned is one I'm especially looking forward to called The Town, directed by Ben Affleck. I (along with pretty much everyone who's seen it) loved Affleck's first directorial effort Gone Baby Gone and The Town, if the early buzz is to be believed, looks to be better. I think it was Leverage creator John Rogers who said on his Twitter feed that anyone who's done both Gone Baby Gone and The Town should be recognized as one of our great directors. I'm happy about this because I always liked Affleck and thought that those who have written him off as a has-been were way off base. Then again, no one forced him to do Paycheck or Pearl Harbor but he's not doing those anymore. Now he's doing stuff like The Town and hopefully this will keep him from being a joke on South Park*.

Supposedly, the new Star Trek film goes into production next year. The fact that they have a day to start production but no script and no director gives me nothing but optimism for the project. I'm just curious if it will be this or the next sequel in which Chris Pine will be forced by the producers to start wearing a toupee and a girdle.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt was great in The Lookout, great in 500 Days of Summer and great in Inception. Gee, I wonder how he'll do as the Riddler on the next Nolan-directed Batman movie. Really kind of hard to say. Seriously though, the Riddler is famous but he's more of an "in it for the money" villain unlike the Joker or Two-Face, both of whom were used up in the last movie. Considering how, at this pace, the next movie won't be out until 2028, the filmmakers have plenty of time to figure this out.

Nice to see that The Last Airbender is coming back. No, not as a dark and unpleasant live action film but as it was originally intended, an animated series on Nickelodeon. I just hope The Village, Lady in the Water and The Happening don't also wind up as new animated series.

*The makers of South Park have given us such wonderful live action films as Baseketball and Orgasmo so they certainly do have the street cred to take down that uppity Affleck.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nicolas Cage, Power Man

Sorcerer's Apprentice is the type of movie that, at best, will do no harm. It's kind of like the dog you pass in the street who looks a little funny, like he might rear up and bite you. You're hoping the dog will just keep sitting there as you pass by as you go your way and that it won't start approaching you or, worse, start summoning computer generated dragons. I'll say that, for the most, this dog of a movie doesn't bite. It lays there and watches you with vacant eyes and more or less leaves you alone. This is surprising as it was directed by Jon Turteltaub, the guy who made those retarded National Treasure movies. Remember when Nic Cage and Diane Kruger stole the Declaration of Independence? And poured lemon juice on it to find some stupid treasure map? Yeah, I wish I could forget too. Fear not though as there are no moments like that in Sorcerer's Apprentice. In fact, there's only one fairly memorable moment at all and that involved Nicolas Cage's 2000 year old sorcerer pretending to be a modern day New York City cop. An hour and 45 minutes resulting in 30 memorable seconds. That's the kind of movie you're dealing with here.

Cage plays Balthazar Blake, a former apprentice of Merlin who is now a master sorcerer. Balthazar managed to trap Merlin's arch nemesis, Morgana, in a nesting jar called the Grimhold along with Merlin's traitorous apprentice turned Morgana ally Horvath (Alfred Molina). Personally, as a student of Arthurian legend, I was embarrassed that I'd never heard of any of this before and am very grateful to Jon Turteltaub and Disney for enlightening me. Anyway, just before Merlin died, he tasked Balthazar with finding the Prime Merlinian (yeah, I know), a wizard so powerful that he would be able to finally slay Morgana. Fast forward to the year 2000 and we find Dave Stutler, a nice 10 year old kid in New York who goes on a field trip. He actually seems to possess enough charm to convince his classmate Becky to be his girlfriend but then loses the note that would have confirmed this. The note blows through the city before it winds up on Balthazar's door who recognizes him as the Prime Merlinian. Balthazar leaves Dave alone actually believing that Dave won't touch anything simply because he was told not to. In his first two minutes as a sorcerer, he releases Horvath from his 2000 year old prison thus endangering the entire world.

Balthazar and Horvath end up getting sucked into some sort of jar for ten years leaving Dave to grow up to be Jay Baruchel. Dave is a brilliant physics student whose school seems to give him unlimited resources to make what's basically a light show involving Tesla coils. Dave has spent the last ten years being hung up on Becky who rejected him after he went raving about the two sorcerers to his class. A jar of oil spilling into his lap that made him look like he'd wet his pants didn't help either but at least that made Becky remember him when he ran into her again. Dave has little time for romance though when Balthazar and Horvath escape from their prison. Balthazar convinces Dave to become his apprentice and then proceeds to teach
Dave how to do magic, an art that mainly involves mastering the use of CGI and it drags on from there until the eventual happy ending.

I suspect this movie exists because some mid-level Disney executive did what guys like he always do. He went through decades of Disney content trying to see how a few bucks can be squeezed out of one of their classic accomplishments. In this case, someone thought it would be a good idea to take the Sorcerer's Apprentice part of Fantasia where Mickey Mouse brings cleaning supplies to life that end up going out of control and turn it into a full length feature. That scene is even recreated here. It's basically the same concept that has given us live action 101 Dalmatians movies and Tinkerbell DVDs.

Still, it can be classified as Mostly Harmless and filed away in my "Forget This As Soon As You Publish This Review" file so I suppose that society has once again gotten away unscathed from some would-be blockbuster. Cage was good because he can play weirdos and make them look normal and Baruchel was far more appealing than he was in She's Out Of My League. That's about it for compliments. We should all consider ourselves lucky as it could have been a lot worse like when the live action 101 Dalmatians came out. They still haven't found all the bodies from that one.

Monday, July 19, 2010

How'd I Miss This Gem?

This post was meant for later in the week but, due to a busy weekend in which dragging my butt to a theater to watch Inception wasn't possible, I may as well put it up now. Hopefully, no one else has reviewed Inception so I won't be too far behind the curve when I finally get around to it.

Concentrating on the here and now, today I will now do one of my famous liveblogs of a movie currently available for streaming on Netflix. Admittedly, this was chosen as low hanging fruit so I can make sarcastic comments so if you've seen it and think it was the best movie ever, you may want to stop reading now. An actual liveblog would have been posted as I was writing it so you're free to sue me for using the term here. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy Species IV: The Awakening. I have somehow gotten to this point in my life without knowing there had been a Species II and III so I hope I'll be able to follow the story though I'm guessing it will have something to do with a sexy, horny female alien tearing her clothes off at any given opportunity in order to entice human men to have sex with her in so she can give birth to what will basically be an invading force of aliens. Oh sorry, I should have given a spoiler warning before typing all that. I could fix it but shall, instead, soldier on cause that's how I roll. I would go into how damn-near-impossible it would be for aliens and humans to breed but I somehow doubt that this will be the most unbelievable thing in the movie. Still, I haven't seen this so who knows. Maybe it will be really good HA HA HA sorry, couldn't finish that with a straight face.

0:00:07 -- So far, so good. Right now, the famous MGM logo is on my screen. They've made movies like Gone With The Wind and Ben-Hur. Maybe this will be just as good.

0:03:11 -- We've met Miranda, a gorgeous mythology professor played by a gorgeous Swede named Helena Mattsson whose main talent as a teacher is to give her male students permanent erections. Her uncle Tom (Ben Cross) is some sort of biology researcher who doesn't seem to think biology research has to have any sort of specific purpose. Seriously, he spends most of his time pulling some sort of resin off of old skulls. Has AIDS been cured leaving him with the free time to do this?

0:05:00 -- Apparently Miranda lives with her uncle. The dim lights and numerous burning candles set up an inappropriately romantic atmosphere for an uncle and a niece. Maybe Helena Mattson is from the southern part of Sweden.

0:06:00 -- And we have nudity. That didn't take long. Oh, nothing incestuous. Miranda left the house at night and we have cut to the morning where she's naked and unconscious in a park. Also, she has these blue veiny things on her body. I'm sure it's nothing.

0:12:00 -- In a plot reveal that will come as a surprise to no one, we discover that Miranda is one of those Species aliens. She never knew until now. That doesn't come as a surprise since she never thought it odd that she somehow developed a Swedish accent even though she lives in America with a British uncle. She kills several people using her main weapon of choice, that being a really crappy CGI tongue that cuts through peoples' heads. Uncle Tom apparently knows this because he injects her with some sort of anti-Species juice which transforms her back into a naked Helena Mattsson. I'm guessing the words "naked Helena Mattsson" are going to be used a lot.

0:20:00 -- Turns out Tom thought it would be a good idea to take some alien DNA and make an alien/human hybrid and then to take the product of that out of the safety of a lab and raise her himself among people. He then shows another example of fine judgment and takes her to some smart guy in Mexico instead of handing her over to the authorities even though she's killed several people. Also, it's been eight minutes since Helena Mattsson's taken off her clothes. I refuse to comment again until she does.

0:35:00 -- Nudity-wise, this movie's a huge disappointment. In every other measure though, it's pretty much what I expected. Tom encountered another hot alien chick while trying to look for some brilliant former pupil down in Mexico. The girl transformed herself into CGI which gave her one of those super tongues and the ability to leap over buildings yet he still got away. He also was almost killed by a male alien but managed to douse him with gas and burn him up. So far, I'm not too impressed with this invading alien force, at least the ones who aren't Miranda. I wonder if Ben Cross was as proud of this role as he was of the roles he played when he was with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

0:51:00 -- Tom found his old student, Forbes Malcolm (Dominic Keating, best known for his role in Enterprise, the show that killed two decades of successful Star Trek television series). Turns out Forbes slaps together these hybrids all the time. You'd think you'd need a lab with clean rooms and advanced equipment for all this but no, Forbes manages to knock em out in a run down warehouse. He tells Tom that they need to kill someone, drain the fluids and give them to Miranda. Or something like that. I was busy eating roast beef when they were talking about this. Man, that roast beef was good too. I may spend the rest of this talking about roast beef.

1:00:00 -- So they killed some Mexican hooker/thief and did some sort of infusion thing to Miranda and hell I don't know. The fact that her first act after being healed was to throw Forbes through a window says this may not have been the best of ideas but at least Helena Mattsson was naked again. You know, I'm starting to think maybe this movie was made as a cheap exploitation flick and not as serious science fiction.

1:15:00 -- I'm going to say two things I never thought I'd say. 1) It turns out that extending the natural lifespan of a homicidal alien/human hybrid is a horrible idea. 2) This movie makes no sense whatsoever. I'll do one more comment at the end and sum it all up then.

1:37:57 -- And that's that. All done. Miranda did the usual Species thing of trying to get pregnant so she could take over the planet but apparently thought the way this is accomplished is by brutally murdering men instead of having sex with them. She eventually figured out the flaw in her plan, got pregnant, killed some more people with her super tongue before dying. Dying completely naked, of course. Some other incredibly stupid stuff happened involving some other hybrids but that's the gist of it.

I do apologize to all the people who Googled "Helena Mattsson naked" as this article was obviously not what you were looking for.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bizarro World Movie Reviews -- The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Elitist critics like to look down their noses at what are unarguably the greatest movies of our time. Films like Grown Ups and The Last Airbender, both of which are unqualified modern classics, were both looked down upon by the same people who, after so many years, fail to see the genius of masterpieces like D.C. Cab and Saving Silverman. Today, we see the release of another brilliant piece of filmmaking that, predictably, is getting poor reviews and that's too bad because, twenty years from now when The Sorcerer's Apprentice is ranked alongside Citizen Kane and The Godfather as one of the greats of the screen, they who trash it now will look like fools.

The movie finally fulfills one of my long sought after dreams of teaming Nicolas Cage with a man who is rightly called the greatest actor of his generation, Jay Baruchel. Cage plays an ancient sorcerer named Balthazar who, for centuries, has battled his nemesis, Horvath. I usually make fun of people who take simplistic popcorn films and try to attach hidden meanings to them but, as I watched this movie, it became obvious to me that Horvath represents BP and his attempts to unleash monsters upon the Earth represents the oil spill. Cage's Balthazar is obviously meant to represent Barack Obama and Baruchel (whose character has the equally evocative name of "Dave") is all of the ordinary men and women trying desperately to clean up the Gulf. I simply can't remember a movie that had to courage and fortitude to inject such searing and topical social commentary into a big studio financed summer film.

If social messages in movies aren't your thing, however, you can enjoy this as an action/adventure film but even then it will delight and challenge you in ways that most escapist fare would never even dare. Sorcerer's Apprentice doesn't treats its audience like movie fans and not, like many other films do, as movie consumers. You can tell that it had the same innovative director that made the brilliant National Treasure films. This has the same wild spirit and commitment to quality and originality as those movies do but, and I didn't think this was possible, it surpasses those in ways that make this not only a standout in its genre but as sui generis in its own right. It is part of the genius of Sorcerer's Apprentice that, at first, you think it's a movie you've seen hundred's of times and you're tempted to dismiss it as trite and repetitive crap. That's ok though because, after a while, you begin to perceive and appreciate the film's multiple layers and the layers within those layers until you realize that the movie has surrounded you with so many layers that it feels like you can't breathe but you must or you'll never know how it ends and yes, I know that makes no sense but neither does the movie. It makes no sense but in a wonderful and glorious way that our language is woefully inadequate at describing. It must be experienced to be explained.

You must go see The Sorcerer's Apprentice and then you must take your family and friends and see it and they must do the same thing again and again until it has spread across the world like, well, like oil spilling wildly into the ocean. It will move us beyond what we are and, someday, forge us into a global family. Yes, like the producers of Sorcerer's Apprentice, I dare to think and dream things that others would call hackneyed, stupid and insane.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Look At My Briefs -- 7/15/10

Shockingly, the current plan to plug the oil spill in the Gulf has failed. What, then, is the answer? Perhaps it lies in my latest collection of brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

I've never seen I Spit On Your Grave. I only know about it because Roger Ebert usually refers to it as the worst movie ever made. It is, by all accounts, a horribly violent piece of crap with numerous rape scenes shown in an exploitive and titillating manner. Well, not only did some fucktards "reboot" it but they kept in the sexualized rape scenes and made the poster even more erotic than the original 70s version. I pity the poor actress who saw this as her big break and, perhaps talked herself into thinking the film had some sort of important social message or something. I hope this leads to roles for her where she doesn't have to be debased.

Finally, something that looks like it may be a decent film from M. Night Shyamalan. He didn't direct it but the script was adapted from his story which means he'll probably get all the credit no matter what his role in the movie. Of course, if it stinks, watch as he accuses the producers of stealing the story out of his desk and making the film without his knowledge. This is the kind of movie that Shyamalan should be doing, though. Small and intense films that center on characters more than cheap scares. That's assuming this movie actually does that. If it doesn't then at least Shyamalan gets the distinction of failing in two different genres this year.

I used to think Mark Ruffalo would be a good choice to play the Hulk's human alter-ego. Nice to see Hollywood is catching up to me.

I don't mind seeing a ripoff of Planes, Trains and Automobiles as long as it's a good ripoff of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Like, for instance, this movie. The trailer looks good anyway though this is approximately the one millionth movie, plus or minus 3. to claim it will be the next Hangover. I just hope the filmmakers don't think I'd be willing to sacrifice the laughs in favor of an important and heart warming life lesson about the importance of friendship.

The dumbest thing in this right wing look back at Independence Day isn't the writer's insistence that Americans all agreed with him that the real star of the movie is Adam Baldwin or that the reason the movie killed off the First Lady was so the Clintonian President would be free to date. No, this is the dumbest line:
Despite the preachy subtext of environmental-wacko-ism, and the unlikelihood of a hungover Quaid winning the day...
So, the most unlikely thing about Independence Day was Randy Quaid doing a kamikaze run into an alien spaceship. This was a movie in which countless people outran fireballs, Will Smith was to instantly master an alien fighter because he had once seen one fly and (my favorite) a Macintosh, that being the computer that's incompatible with most of the computers on Earth, easily interfaced with and disabled the computer system of the alien invaders. Okay.

If you saw the premiere of TNT's new police drama Rizzoli and Isles, you may be asking yourself the same question I did: why the hell is it called Rizzoli and Isles? Isles entire contribution to solving the crime in the pilot episode was to give a time of death. She did run an important test but only did so at the instructions of an FBI agent. The rest of her scenes consisted of a few casual chats and a pompous lecture about turtles. Rizzoli, meanwhile, risked her life more than once and barely escaped death in order to capture a pair of serial killers. She did all the work and it should have at least been called Rizzoli and Company. I didn't care for it too much anyway but I will give it another episode or two in case this turns out to be one of those shows that improved after its crappy pilot.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Most Dangerous Lame

Predators, like its 1987 "s" free predecessor, is one of those movies that you can mildly enjoy watching and then happily push it out of your mind. The only things I really remembered from the first movie were the Predators themselves and Jesse Ventura being told he was bleeding and responding, "I don't have time to bleed." No wonder Minnesota elected him. This movie is a bit fresher in my mind but I think what I'll remember in the future, if I think about it at all, is that Adrien Brody wasn't anywhere near being the horrible choice for the lead tough guy that I thought he would be. He's obviously been working out since I saw him do a love scene with Keira Knightley and (partly due to the poor lighting and awful camera angles but mostly because they were both so skinny) I couldn't tell who was who.

The movie opens with Brody dressed in combat gear falling from a few miles up for some unknown reason. Turns out he's wearing a parachute which is why the title isn't Adrien Brody Falls To His Death: A Short Film. Several other people also land in the same general area and we find out two things: With the exception of a doctor played by Topher Grace, they are all in some sort of business that involves highly trained violence and none of them knows how they got there. After seeing some subtle and not-so-subtle clues, they realize that they're not even on Earth. Then they get attacked by creatures they call dogs even though these dogs have leathery skins and are covered with large, bony spikes and Brody figures out that this planet is a game preserve and that the dogs had just "flushed them out" in the same way we flush out quail.

As far as plot specifics go, that's about the first 20 minutes and it's really all you need to know. I don't need to tell you when they first encountered the creatures that we, the audience, knew were there from the beginning. We haven't seen the Predators in film since 1990* when the unstoppable team of Danny Glover and Gary Busey took them out in Predator 2. I held out very little hope when I heard a new sequel was being made but it turned out to be, well, not awful. They borrowed one trick from the original film and populated it with recognizable character actors who were actually able to seem distinctive despite the fact that their personalities ranged from Asshole to Raging Asshole. I can several potential future governors in this cast and maybe they'll beat the record of 2 set by the first movie.

So, should you see Predators? If you want. It doesn't really matter. You'll be mildly entertained if you do and if you miss it, you'll survive. Was that passive/aggressive enough? And what movie was I reviewing again?

*I refuse to include those horrible Alien vs. Predator movies that aren't so much movies as they are excuses for movie theaters to take money out of your wallet.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I'm All a-Twitter

This has been another one of those busy weekends where I have no time to do even a half assed review or some lame comment on a right wing movie site. Rather than post nothing, I thought I'd give you all a real treat that you'll be able to tell your grandkids about and share some of the stuff I post on Twitter. Behold my awesome cut-and-paste skills.

Who cares if LeBron's going to Miami? I spent a week in Miami last year and no one gave a damn.

Two of the stars of "Predator" ran became Governors. With the release of "Predators", I vow to move to any state that elects Danny Trejo.

I'm trying to remember a book but I don't know the name and I don't know who wrote it/ It's about a guy named Doug, I think.

Thinking of sending my mom to a home that the local news often refers to as "The Snake Pit." No actual snakes there so I think it's cool.

Regal Cinemas says I can buy advance tickets to "Sorceror's Apprentice" with Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel. PHEW! What a relief.

About to see Predators though I'm upset that it wasn't given a dark, depressing 3D conversion.

Predators delayed a few minutes due to technical difficulties. Hoping I don't look back at this as the movie's highlight.

Phil Collins thinks gum is a vegetable. #philcollinsfacts

I'll root for whichever team has the most hot chicks promising to get naked if their side wins. #worldcup

Everyone in Holland: "Damn that fucking octopus." #worldcup

Don't feel bad, Holland. Let's go out and get your mind off the loss to Spain. We'll have paella and see a Pedro Almodovar movie.

And...that oughtta do it. Feel free to follow me on Twitter if you liked any of this. I'll be back with something a bit more substantive tomorrow.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bloody Awful

If you read this yesterday, you already know about an upcoming parody of the Twilight films called Vampires Suck. While I made my feelings well known on the movie's potential yesterday, I see this as an opportunity to do something I haven't done since February, that being Movies I Haven't Seen. I'm not really reviewing the movie, of course. I'm reviewing the trailer but I think I can make an excellent case against this movie based on the fact that A) the trailer sucks and B) every other movie made by this creative team has, to varying degrees, sucked. But hey, don't take my word for it. Watch the trailer for yourself.

EMBED-Vampires Suck - Watch more free videos

And...scene. What have we learned today? We've learned that a good parody film may be the most difficult type of movie to make. This is evidenced by the fact that the only really good ones have been made by Mel Brooks and the team of the Zucker Brothers and Jim Abrahams (the guys who made Airplane) and anyone who saw An American Carol knows that at least one of the Zucker brothers can't do it anymore. Still, I haven't seen the movie. Maybe it's funny, but the trailer (most of it anyway) sure as hell isn't

The trailer starts off with a bit of promise. I chuckled when Bella cut her finger and Jasper tied a bib around his neck but they promptly remove all the comedic promise out of the scene by doing something that is standard for the people who made Date Movie and Epic Movie. Another standard trick is to have celebrity lookalikes show up on screen and do, well, nothing. I'm fairly certain I'm supposed to laugh when Bella says, "Who's that?" and we see the cast of Jersey Shore but I'll be damned if I can figure out why we're supposed to laugh. The Jersey Shore cast just stands there doing nothing as does the Lady Gaga lookalike later on. That gimmick is a lot of things, none of which is funny.

Another huge comedy black hole that this crew loves to do in all their movie is to recreate scenes from other movies and add slapstick violence. In the trailer, you see Alice in Wonderland wandering the woods only to get shot by Edward. This can't be accurately described as, "not funny." Anti-comedy would be a good term for it as it seems to be actively trying not to get laughs.

One more thing: Ken Jeong, why? Was the money that good? Did they get every swimsuit model in Hollywood to blow you simultaneously? It's just a shame that you had to be the only recognizable face in this abomination.

To sum up, the people who made Date Movie, Epic Movie, Disaster Movie and Here Come The Spartans took all the lame crap they did in those movies, repackaged it and slapped in the Twilight characters. This has no chance of being good. Nada. Zip. Less than zero. Less than negative zero, if that's possible. If I'm wrong, I'll never know because life is too short for me to waste on even a free Netflix viewing. One piece of good news is that they're releasing this in August where it will face some actual competition as opposed to dumping it in theaters in September or January where the only movies it has to worry about are new Katherine Heigl comedies and documentaries about lamps. Maybe, just maybe, this will actually lose money and the douchenozzles who make this garbage won't be allowed to make movies anymore. We can only hope.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Look At My Briefs -- 7/8/10

As the nation swelters under record heat waves, only two truly effective methods for beating the heat have emerged. One, you can shake your fist at the sky and yell, "DAMN YOU, AL GORE. YOU JUST HAD TO PROVE YOU WERE RIGHT. SCREW YOU!" until you pass out and sleep until September. The only other proven and peer-reviewed method is reading my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

There's a trailer out for a Twilight parody movie I've mentioned before. Sadly, it was made by the same bottom feeders who made crap, unfunny products like Epic Movie and Date Movie. These asswipes think it's the height of comedy to recreate a scene from a movie, like Giselle from Enchanted entering our world, and then simply adding a scene where Giselle gets run over by a car. Ha ha. In my extremely not-so-humble opinion, there hasn't been a really good parody movie since Naked Gun and that was over 20 years ago. Anyway, you can watch the trailer here and see if this new one will break the 20 year losing streak. My assessment: anyone who's read my reviews of all three Twilight films knows that I hate them with a passion normally reserved for Nazi war criminals but I would willingly be strapped to a chair and have my eyes pried open Clockwork Orange style and watch all three of those again before I'd ever want to see this godawful piece of crap. Perhaps you will have a different opinion.

Predators comes out tomorrow and my gut tells me again and again that a sequel to a 20 year old action film can't possibly be good. However, as a man of science, I must allow the possibility that my preconceived notions are wrong. The fact that Robert Rodriguez is behind it and a 91% score on the Tomatometer tell me to open my mind and NO NO NO IT'S GONNA SUCK IT'S GONNA SUCK AAAAHHHHH. All right, I'm done ADRIEN FUCKING BRODY AS AN ACTION GUY? WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE TALKING TO? Gah, gotta stop that.

Based on his resistance to 3D conversion, Zack Snyder is now the greatest guy ever. 3D isn't all that great but anyone who's seen Clash of the Titans or The Last Airbender knows it's 70MM Cinemascope compared to the 9th circle of Hell that is 3D conversion.

If you read conservative blogs like Big Hollywood, you may have heard of Bill Whittle. His bio there lists him as a screenwriter and director but either he's far too humble to list any of his accomplishments in those fields or he has none. Still, that hasn't stopped him from creating Declaration Entertainment. This company claims it wants to take the movie industry away from the liberals who run Hollywood and have been forever tainted with the stank of foreign capital. How will he do this? By parting fools from their money, of course. He's quite literally asking for donations to finance his movies though he makes no indication as to who gets to keep the profits. My guess is they go to a charitable organization called the Buy Bill Whittle Lots Of Cool Stuff Foundation. I encourage you to read the synopses of proposed film projects that include a warmed over Robert Heinlein tale and a story about a man doing battle against Mexican caricatures. If these sound cool to you, you can make a donation and even get special benefits if you give more than $10,000. Donate $100,000 and you get some really awesome stuff like a plaque and a signed poster. That's good because if you were to use that money to finance an actual Hollywood film, all you would potentially get is a hefty return on your investment.

Oh, I shouldn't be so snarky. After all, if there's a anyone you can trust to take a hundred thousand bucks and turn it into a great movie, it's the guy with this hilarious IMDB profile.

And now, food for thought: as you're reading this, there's an up and coming director agreeing to helm the next Step Up sequel who has blotted from his memory the vow he made in film school to never sell out or compromise his principles.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Get Bent

Avatar: The Last Airbender is an entertaining animated fantasy show on Nickelodeon. It takes place in a world where people can telekinetically control the four elements, those being fire, air, wind and water. I've seen a few episodes of this show and, while it has its down moments, it can accurately be described as bright, fun, hopeful and whimsical. In the new movie adaptation of that show called simply The Last Airbender, writer/director M. Night Shyamalan takes those charming, entertaining qualities and wipes his ass with them.

Round this time last week, Shyamalan was dealing with charges of racist casting since the evil Fire Benders are all dark skinned while the good Water Benders, even though they were dark skinned and possibly Eskimo or Inuit in the show, were being played by a couple of adorable white teenagers. This was a little scandalous and kind of hard to defend but Shyamalan now looks back on that experience as a wonderful and innocent time full of possibility and expectation. He was still a few days away from scoring 9% on the Tomatometer and having his movie become the ultimate example of his decline as a filmmaker, the best case against converting regular movies into 3D and just becoming an all-around laughing stock. Still, the movie didn't do too badly at the box office. In fact, its $70 million take was actually pretty good. That leaves me with a question: what the hell is wrong with you people?

Airbender is the second movie I've seen this week in which most of the characters were clinically depressed. The story is happening in the context of a war and all but this is a children's fantasy, not Saving Private Ryan. Even if it was, the characters in that film weren't clinically depressed. In the original show, the titular character, Aang, faced situations that certainly made him sad but he was also in general a happy kid who really enjoyed the fact that he could bend the elements to his will.

In the world of Airbender, there are four different nations based around the four ancient elements. Each one has people called Benders who can move their own specific element with their minds. Born into each generation is a one person who can control all four called an Avatar and this time around, that person is Aang but he didn't want to make the sacrifices an Avatar has to make so he ran away and ended up, by accident, being frozen for a century. In that time, the Fire Nation got too big for its britches and decided to conquer everyone else when they hear that the Avatar is gone. They dominate the Earth and Water Nations but decide to pull a King Herod on the Air Nation because that's where the next Airbender is supposed to come from.

Skipping ahead a bit, we meet novice Water Bender Katara and her brother Sokka. They end up freeing Aang and his magical flying bison from his suspended animation and get the privilege of breaking the news that his entire race is dead. In his grief, Aang flees to the Spirit World (doing so is one of his Avatar powers). The Spirit World looks a lot like the real world except that it's shot through a blurry lens and you have an excellent chance of meeting a dragon who will dispense helpful advice and wouldn't you know, that's exactly what happens to Aang.

You know, that plot actually sounds pretty cool and it is. It's the execution that turns it into a giant suckfest. So much of the movie is dark and unpleasant to look at. I can only imagine how dark it would have been in 3D. I'm an admirer of M. Night Shyamalan and have always found that, even when his movies are failures, they're interesting failures. As a storyteller, I compare him to Stephen King because he takes fantastic situations and populates them with realistic and down-to-earth people. Until now. These characters are just depression-bots used to bring us down in between scenes of martial arts and CGI tidal waves. Even the depressed people of The Village weren't this depressed. The only real good news for Shyamalan is that it looks like he won't have "one of the biggest money losers" of all time on his resume and he no longer has to say that The Village was his worst movie. So, yay.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Freedom From Blogging

Yesterday was my true day off and that left me particularly uninspired to write anything. I usually take Wednesday off so I'll put up something then instead. Hope you had a nice weekend and consumed loads of beer and fried meat just like our Founders did 234 years ago.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Almost Over

Wow, the last seven months sure have flown by. The world seven months ago was a strange, innocent time. Back then, the Gulf of Mexico wasn't associated with the words "ecological hellhole" and no one outside of South Africa had ever heard of a vuvuzela. When I saw New Moon, I thought, "At least we have a year until the next one." Then I found out that the third Twilight movie Eclipse was going to be released just in time for the July 4th movie crowd. "NO!" Twilight haters railed. "That's not enough time. What about the children?" That argument didn't hold much weight since it's the children that like these movies so now we have to deal with the existence of Eclipse.

Twilight lovers break down into two camps, Team Edward and Team Jacob. Twilight haters also break down into two camps, Team Boring and Team Stupid. I, personally, don't like labels and try to promote harmony by including myself in both camps.

The movie opens with something that almost started to look exciting with a man being attacked by what you assume is Bella's vampire enemy, Victoria. Don't worry, Twi-fans. The filmmakers quickly shut that down and cut to some drippy, depressing scene that will be hailed by Team Boring fans of Edward and Bella reading poetry in a cornflower filled meadow. Bella, as she does many times throughout the movie, tries to nag Edward into premarital sex but Edward knows that, as a man, it's his job to guide his woman away from sinful and libidinous impulses and tells her that they must first marry before they can do it for procreation in the missionary position through a hole in a sheet. He also knows it's his job to protect her from mean old nasty stuff so she can concentrate on girl things so he withholds the fact that Victoria is back on the hunt for her. Sadly for him, Jacob shows up to do just that. Why this comes as a huge shock to Bella is a mystery as, in the story, only a few weeks have passed since they last encountered her.

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart do their usual awesome job of making Edward and Bella look like people trying to deal with being in love while also struggling with clinical depression. The two also manage to drag just about everyone around them into their pit of despair. Smiles are rarely cracked by anyone in the movie. Everyone in Edward and Bella's lives either looks depressed or possessed of some world weary aloofness that basically got set up to ward off depression. Taylor Lautner actually stands out in this crowd not only for the evidence that he does 500 situps a day but for the fact that he actually seems to be passionate about his life and what goes on in it. Instead of being weepy and introspective about the fact that Bella has chosen Edward over him, he seems genuinely angry about it. When he and Bella are alone, he actually grins at the idea that they get to spend time together. Taylor Lautner should be very happy that he's surrounded in these movies by people who went to Zombie Acting School because they make him look like Robert Deniro.

We're also treated to some depressing backstories. We get the heartwarming story of how Edward's foster father, Carlisle, made foster sister Rosalee a vampire after she was raped nearly to death, for example. We also see that Jasper, known to me as, "that guy who always looks like he has a huge stick shoved as far up his ass as it will go," was made a vampire by an opportunistic woman who would keep lots of newborn vampires around her then get Jasper to kill them for good after about a year. This sets up the final confrontation with Victoria as she is making an army of newborn vamps to battle the Cullens and Jasper gets to teach everyone how to fight them. It turns out that newborns are stronger than older vampires and would have an excellent chance of taking out the whole Cullen clan but don't worry, Jasper "Sun Tzu" Cullen is on the case with elite training tips like, "Do something unexpected," and, "Don't let them crush you." Seriously. Team Stupid loved those scenes.

The good news is that we're nearing the end of the Twilight saga. The producers have cruelly chosen to split the final novel Breaking Dawn into two films but that still means the end is in sight. In just two more films, the romance between a sparkling emo vampire and his mumbling girlfriend will be finished. After that, all movies will be good so that's a relief.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Pretty Much How The Author Envisioned It

In February, I did a sort-of liveblog of the Hannah Montana movie as viewed through the convenience of Netflix Streaming. I figured liveblogging a bad movie on Netflix would become a regular thing I'd do every few weeks. True to my word, I'm doing it again just five short months later.

Today's selection is a classic of American literature adapted to film so it could be a big middle finger to American cinema. The classic short story that serves as the movie's source material is Stephen Vincent Benet's The Devil and Daniel Webster. The movie I will now be reviewing that took that story and wiped its ass with it is called Shortcut To Happiness. Why Shortcut To Happiness? I guess because it sounded better than Trite and Generic Movie Title. I'd heard of this movie years ago and, when I tell others about it, they think I'm joking because director and star Alec Baldwin cast Anthony Hopkins as Daniel Webster and decided that the only actor with sufficient talent and gravitas to play the Devil opposite Sir Anthony was Jennifer Love Hewitt. If you decide to post anything in comments, please be honest and tell me you think I'm joking right now.

I have not seen this so all observations and comments will be made in real time. I'm just assuming it's bad because A) It has Jennifer Love Hewitt as the freaking Devil and B) the small bit of research I did, if true, says that the only place this movie in the world this movie ever got released was Kazakhstan. Kazakhs, please don't spoil this movie for your American friends until they're done with this article. we go.

0:00:50 -- OK, fuck it, I'm done. Don't really need to see the rest of this. It has those stupid animated credits you see in bad chick flicks. Hope you had fun reading what little of this there was.

AAAHHHHHH! OK, I'll watch a little more.

0:01:30 -- The credits are an animated Jennifer Love Hewitt/Devil breathing fire on what looks like a greeting card that the actual credits are on. Alec Baldwin once worked with Tim Burton and you can tell he absorbed a lot of Burton's visual imagination. So, twice in less than two minutes, I've been inspired to comment on something stupid. This should end well.

0:02:14 -- For a final bit of opening credits confidence building, we see Directed by Harry Kirkpatrick. This caused me to go to IMDB real quick as I thought it had been directed by Alec Baldwin and, sure enough, it was. He took his name off the project and, figuring Alan Smithee was too obvious, used the name Harry Kirkpatrick. I guess Baldwin is modest and didn't want to forever be known as, "The guy who directed that awesome movie."

0:05:45 -- Between the last comment and this one, an entirely different movie has been playing. We've been seeing a short story written by Baldwin's character, Jabez Stone, being played out. The content of the short story isn't important. It was just nice that it delayed the beginning of the actual movie.

0:07:30 -- Jabez Stone, once a poor 19th century dirt farmer in the original story, is now an unpublished author living in Manhattan. Acting and directing must have been too much for Baldwin because all his dialogue so far has been delivered in the style of a football player who's never acted before trying out for his high school's production of Our Town. Another sign of the oncoming doom is that Carrot Top has a small role and has actually outshown both Baldwin and Dan Aykroyd as Baldwin's foppish and overacting fellow writer.

0:20:30 -- Hey all. It's been a while. Since I've been gone, we've discovered that Stone is a decent guy who seems to have made the conscious choice to surround himself with douchebags. Really, there's no way to be involved with this many douchebags unless you seek them out. He works at a clothing store or, rather, he did until he gets fired by his douchebag boss for being helpful and polite to a customer and yes, I'm being serious. Dan Aykroyd, his douchebag best friend, rubs his nose in the fact that he's just landed a three book deal with a douchebag publisher played by Kim Cattrall. We do meet one sort-of-kind-of all right guy, a publisher by name of (drumroll please) Daniel Webster. No longer a dead lawyer as he was in the story, Webster (Anthony Hopkins) is now a live book publisher who agrees to have a short meeting with Stone during which he tells him to become a better writer, advice that could also have been given to the writers of this film and to the real life Alec Baldwin. Stone ends up getting beaten during a mugging though I figure this really happened when the other actors got pissed at Baldwin and "Harry Kirkpatrick" decided to leave it in.

0:40:00 -- Alec Baldwin, a man who has worked with Oliver Stone and Martin Scorsese, has inserted into his directorial debut music that sounds like it was generated by the demo button of a Casio keyboard and an interminably long scene of Stone decorating his new, upscale apartment. He got that apartment by selling in his soul, an act that occurred through a series of stupid circumstances and that was sealed not by a contract signed in blood but by director Alec Baldwin instructing Jennifer Love Hewitt to get half naked and beg him for sex. It's good to be the king.

0:45:40 -- Kim Cattrall just said, "There are no new ideas anyway." This movie is evidence of that.

0:50:00 -- Funniest moment in the movie so far: Dan Aykroyd getting hit by a car. I know it doesn't sound funny but if you'd seen the unintentionally hilarious pose Aykroyd struck as the car ran him down and the dumb cutaway scene that tells us Alec Baldwin didn't really know how to direct a car crash, you'd laugh too.

1:20:00 -- We're up to the trial for Stone's soul. Things I've learned since I last spoke: Alec Baldwin loves to direct things in slow motion and Anthony Hopkins is at least a little better at acting than Jennifer Love Hewitt although she definitely has better boobs so I suppose it evens out. Also, Hopkins no longer has to list that buddy cop movie he did with Chris Rock as the low point of his career.

1:42:05 -- Wow, this got long, better wrap things up. Daniel Webster won by making an argument for jury nullification in the form of pompous speeches about how we don't need success to be happy blah blah blah. History was reset and Stone went back to the beginning and OH MY GOD, THE MOVIE STARTED OVER. Thank goodness the end credits started to roll when they did.

I hope you enjoyed reading about something what, until now, was reserved only for the privileged eyes of Kazakhs. I now know why Alec Baldwin isn't hailed as one of Hollywood's great directors but oh, the price I paid for that knowledge.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Look At My Briefs -- 7/1/10

This is a big holiday weekend in America. Damned if I can remember why. Something to do with Jesus setting Americans free, I think. It doesn't matter to me. I'll celebrate the invention of licorice if I get the day off to do so. Maybe the reason will come to me after I finish another edition of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

I'm not sure how I slipped from my own reality into a crazy, backwards universe in which the new Twilight film isn't the worst reviewed movie of the week. That distinction belongs to The Last Airbender. I started worrying about Airbender when I first saw some of the cartoon series the movie was based on. It's a bright and whimsical show and the movie looks dark with depressed characters and it was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, a guy not known for directing laugh riots. But hey, maybe all the bad reviews are something Shyamalan arranged and an excellent movie will be the unexpected twist ending. We can only hope.

This teaser for Paranormal Activity 2 looks all right, I guess. I liked the first one a lot but never expected to see a sequel unless it was some straight-to-DVD suckfest that basically just paid the producers to use the name. I remain dubious as the first one seemed like lightning in a bottle but I'll still be happy no matter how bad it is as long as it once again buries this year's Saw movie like the first one did.

Speaking of crappy horror sequels, please tell me this title is some sort of joke that the entire internet is playing on me.

About a year and a half ago, I wrote with some interest about a movie called Caesar that would have been a prequel to Planet of the Apes. Sadly, the original director, Scott Frank who wrote Minority Report and directed the excellent The Lookout seems to be long gone from the project. It's now been given the more generic title Rise of the Apes and everything I read about gives me the sense that Scott Frank's vision of an intelligent science fiction story has given way to a vision of a crap sequel designed to make a few bucks based on its name. I could be wrong but if I'm not, the headline of the review I will write in 2011 will be, "DAMN YOU! GOD DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!"

There are actually two answers to the question in this headline. 1) If the sequel is like the comic book it's based on in tone, style and quality then Hell Yes! 2) If it's in any way similar to the first film then Sweet Merciful Fuck No!

Can I apply my points to the price of the ticket for this?

The Feds have seized the domain names of several free movie sites. This is good news for filmmakers who have often had to watch helplessly as their movies went stright from some guy's camcorder and onto the internet. I just wish they'd waited a few more days as this now means I'll have to actually pay to see Eclipse and The Last Airbender.