Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Once again circumstances have forced me to skip Tuesday. I'll try to post something on Wednesday, my normal day off.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Be A Giver, Not A Taker

Takers has a lot of lessons for the audience. For instance, I learned that, if you're a master criminal, you should listen to that gut instinct that tells you not to do a certain job. You also shouldn't change your master criminal rules like not doing a robbery just a few weeks after you did your last one. Another helpful hint is that, no matter how big the reward, you should really resist the urge that no one in a heist caper has ever been able to resist. You absolutely must NOT DO ONE LAST JOB AND THEN RETIRE.

Takers isn't great but it is watchable and that's pretty much all you can ask of a late August movie. It's about a gang of thieves led by Gordon Crosier (Idris Elba). Elba is a guy who has the acting skills to convince you that he's a strong, smart and competent leader of this highly successful group. His second in command is John Rahway (Paul Walker). The very handsome Walker is a guy who has the acting skills to convince you that he is a very handsome man. Walker should be playing lifeguards named Biff, not criminal masterminds. Seriously, movie, all the actors in the world and Paul Walker was who you settled on as the man to be the partner of the guy who played John Luther? Oh, never mind. He wasn't great but I suppose he did no harm. Rounding out the cast is Matt Dillon as Los Angeles Detective Jack Welles, Chris Brown, who kindly took time off from beating the hell out of whatever woman he's currently dating, as another member of the gang named Jesse and "T.I." Harris as Ghost, a former member who was recently released from prison. Rounding out the cast is Zoe Saldana who, literally, does pretty much nothing. I hoe she got paid a lot.

The movie opens with a flawlessly executed bank robbery while, across town, Detective Jack Welles and some sort of drug suspect mutually beat each other down at the same time Jack's partner loses his own suspect. I get grief from my office manager if I lose a pen so I can only imagine what it's like for a cop to lose a suspect but they won't have too much time to worry about it as they get called in to investigate the robbery. Being the ace detective that he is, Jack pretty much cracks the case wide open when he says, "These guys are good." Actually, when he's not abusing perps, Jack does some pretty solid police work and does start to connect the robbery to Gordon's team.

Speaking of them, they have their own problems when Ghost tracks them down. Ghost worked with them in 2004 and ended up being the only one who got arrested. He served his time without mentioning their names and now wants them to join him in some sort of reunion tour of crime. He has an idea to rob an armored car of $30,000,000 in 5 days but it turns out they have rules against associating with a known criminal, rushing the planning and not taking a year off between robberies. It will come as a shock to no one who's ever seen a heist movie that all these rules will be violated to the regret of everyone in the movie.

As I said, Takers is ok, all right, so so and mainly just made me shrug. Other than one really good chase scene involving Chris Brown, who shows us all that beating up women really keeps you in shape*, nothing really stands out. The reason for watching this movie is the same reason you climb a mountain, because it's there. It wasn't horrible and was often somewhat entertaining but, if you ask me about it a year from now, I doubt I'll remember it. With that ringing endorsement, run, don't walk, to see Takers.

* Yes, I'll mention that now and every time I talk about Chris Brown in the future. Deal with it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Old, Rotten Fish

Once again I've decided to do a Liveblog. It's not actually a liveblog as the rest of the internet understands it, of course. My rules for defining a post as such are simple. 1) It must be a movie I haven't seen before and 2) I must be reasonably sure it is absolutely godawful. This makes it possible to produce mercilessly cruel comedy. I almost did Confessions of a Shopaholic but this week's release of Piranha 3D put me in the mood for a different movie in my Netflix Instant Queue so please sit back and enjoy what, if there is a god, will be the very in a series of really bad sequels. Today's offering is 1987's Jaws: The Revenge.

0:01:00 -- The first minute has consisted of a point-of-view shot skimming along the dark, blurry ocean floor before surfacing to show us that the movie's title is, in fact, Jaws: The Revenge. I'm not encouraged by the fact that the title is written in the standard font used for cheap TV movies.

0:01:34 -- The opening credits gives top billing to Lorraine Gary, known to her fans as "Who the hell is Lorraine Gary?" A quick IMDB search shows that she played Ellen Brody, the wife of Roy Scheider's police chief character, in Jaws and Jaws 2. Fun facts: she also starred in a 1976 TV movie called Lannigan's Rabbi which, if it's available, will almost certainly be featured in a future Liveblog and her very last IMDB listing is this movie. This means it's either such a huge stinker that she couldn't find work or it's such a high quality film that she thought she could never top it. The credits also felt the need to mention that this movie is "Introducing Judith Barsi" who went on to have a huge career in not being famous.

0:10:47 -- The hero of the first two films, Martin Brody, has died from a rare condition known as "Roy Scheider having too much dignity to star in this crap sequel no matter how much money they offered." The new police chief of Amity, which I believe now bills itself as America's Great White Capitol to attract tourists, is his son Sean, a guy who has learned jack from his entire life's experiences. I know this because, if he had, he'd be living in Nebraska and not in a place where a hungry shark could get to him which is what just happened.

0:18:00 -- Ellen has formed a theory that this is some sort of super smart shark that specifically targeted her son as payback for the dead sharks from the first two movies. No info yet on whether this shark had a personal connection to the other two or if this shark is just trying to send a "You fuck with one of us, you fuck with us all" message. Anyway, her other son, Michael, convinced her to get the hell out of Amity and come home with him. To an island. In the Bahamas. In the same damn ocean the shark lives in. Jesus, what the hell is it going to have to happen to this family before they learn? Sharks with laser beams, I suspect.

0:18:30 -- Hey, Michael Caine is in this. You may think this could be a sign of a rise in the movie's quality but this was made during a time in which Michael Caine was legally required to be in every movie made including porn films. Also, his name in the movie is Hoagie. No movie character should be named Hoagie unless they're playing a fat, crude guy in an Animal House ripoff.

0:24:00 -- Michael works with a Jamaican named Jake played by Mario Van Peebles. This is my reaction to Van Peebles' attempt at Jamaican accent: HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!! Apparently, Michael and Jake are paid huge sums of money to observe shellfish by what I assume is a government agency that has never actually checked on their progress.

0:34:30 -- In a moment of unintentional hilarity, an obviously fake great white just tried to attack Michael. I yelled, "Michael, just hit the OFF switch," at the screen to no avail. How the hell did that damn shark track them down? He must have invented GPS technology or maybe he just paid off Huggy Bear. An observation I'd like to make is that this movie looks more like a TV movie than anything that was ever released in theaters. Everything looks cheap and many shortcuts were obviously taken. It was directed by Joseph Sargent, a guy who spent most of his career in TV (though he did make The Taking Of Pelham 1-2-3) and I suspect the reason he got the job is because they knew he could work with a TV movie's budget even though the unfortunate result was a TV movie. Oh, Michael survived because the shark forgot to use that Jaws theme music that makes it all powerful. He probably should have died if only for pompously declaring that the water was too warm for great whites earlier.

0:48:20 -- Michael and Jake had the genius idea to study the super shark instead of shooting it in the face. Right now, Jake is hanging near a huge piece of shark bait so he can stab it with a data transceiver. This will almost surely end well.

0:58:30 -- OK, to my surprise, that thing they did 10 minutes ago went flawlessly. Now, though, Michael has decided to abandon the shark hunt to return to his all important snail research. He's just gotten out of his submarine to do God knows what to the snails. I'm sure this will end well too.

1:02:00 -- HA HA HA HA! Oh sorry, forgot that you all can't see this. To everyone's great surprise, the shark showed up and ripped open Michael's sub. He took refuge in a sunken ship but he failed to take into account that the shark had some sort of previously unknown mystical power to follow him through tiny openings. Seriously, these holes are about half the shark's size yet every time Michael turns around, there's Jaws right behind him.

1:03:20 -- He got away. Hopefully Michael won't let this near death experience with a super shark that's targeted him for death interfere with his research on how often snails have anal sex or whatever the hell he's doing.

1:05:00 -- Not only did this dumbass get back in the water but he got attacked by a moray eel. Michael, the whole damn ocean is OUT TO GET YOU!

1:12:00 -- Ellen was on a beach full of happy tourists which, in Jaws movies, is like ringing the dinner bell. Super Shark somehow picked out her granddaughter and almost swallowed her. Luckily, amidst the kids, there was a 35 year old stuntwoman who was ready to be eaten. Now Ellen has taken Michael's boat and gone after the shark though, frankly, from what I can tell, her only options would be diplomacy or boycotting its Olympics. Michael and Jake have loaded themselves onto Hoagie's plane and gone looking for Ellen and, I assume, to gather some more snail data. I wish I could talk to Michael and remind him that his dad once took out a great white with a damn fire extinguisher so, really, how much of a threat is this thing anyway?

1:17:00 -- Hoagie landed his plane in the water near Ellen and appeared to get eaten after Michael and Jake swam to the boat but, obviously, Joseph Sargent decided the needed at least one decent actor so Hoagie gets to live for now. So, anyone got a FIRE EXTINGUISHER on the boat? Asking for no particular reason.

1:27:00 -- And it's over. Jake rigged up some sort of shark shocking device and, emboldened by his previous hanging-over-the-water stunt, hung over the water and got swallowed so YAY no more crap Jamaican accent. Michael kept hitting the switch on the shark shocker and the shark got shocked but kept coming anyway. Then the shark got stabbed by the boat's mast and it blew up. Why? It probably had something to do with the shark shocker but, honestly, I have no idea why and don't care enough to go back and look. Oh, having apparently found the cure for being eaten by a shark, Jake's alive but at least the movie's over.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Look At My Briefs -- 8/26/10

I'll have you know I interrupted a Parisian sex tour to come back and write you all another edition of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs. You're welcome.

I'll admit the trailer for the new television series The Walking Dead looks good despite being derivative of 28 Days Later and, well, every other damn zombie movie ever made. Still, I thought the trailer for AMC's other new show Rubicon looked good and that show ended up putting me to sleep. Deadline.com's comments section claims the graphic novel the series is based on was excellent and, if they hold to the graphic novel's spirit, the series will be excellent. Since the odds are that the spirit of the graphic novel was the first thing thrown out when the series was being story conferenced, we're doomed.

This NPR.org article about critics acting like they were too cool to enjoy Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is right on the money. Film critics who criticize the audience are usually mouth breathing ray-tards themsevles who only get off by belittling others to make themselves feel cool. If you'll hold on a minute, I must now look over past reviews to see if I've ever done and if I did, in fact, get off. I may have. I notice in my review of Vampires Suck I mentioned that really young people were the only ones who seemed to enjoy the film but that wasn't a criticism and, I think, this makes me awesome. Way better than those douche slaves in the NPR article anyway.

I've said before and I'll probably say again that I really admire the job James Cameron did on Avatar. Derivative plot aside, this MTV interview shows that he and his fellow filmmakers put a great deal of thought into not just the action sequences but even the tiny plot details like whether or not the passengers and crew on Jake Sully's ship age at the same rate. Science fiction set in the future or on alien worlds or, in this case, both, is difficult to do because you have to basically construct planets and the societies that live on them from scratch. Most filmmakers don't take the time to do that. Cameron did.

Lindsay Lohan was released from rehab because the doctors said she wasn't an addict. To prove it she said, "Watch, I'm going to do three bowls full of cocaine and then never do it again."

Yesterday morning, The Last Exorcism's Tomatometer rating was 90%. As of this writing, it's at 75%. At this rate, it will somehow be in negative numbers by Friday's release date. If it follows the path of Vampires Suck, it will then become a huge hit.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Couldn't Quite Mask The Fish Smell

I hate you, Piranha 3D. I really do. I was fooled into thinking this would be pretty good. It started off nicely but I guess you'd say the movie got weighed down but stupidity and grossness and ended up sinking to the bottom. Get that? Cause it's about fish...never mind.

The movie opens in an Arizona resort community called Lake Victoria. We see a fisherman played by Richard Dreyfuss as he becomes the unfortunate first victim of a previously unknown species of North American piranha and hey, wait, let me back up there. A fisherman played by Richard Dreyfuss? Oscar winning star of stage and screen? THAT Richard Dreyfuss? Hell, if they're using him in a bit part for the opening scene, what's the rest of the movie going to be like? At that point, I couldn't wait to find out. Turns out a great deal of the cast were people I'd not only heard of but actually liked. Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames, Adam Scott, Jerry O'Connell and Christopher Lloyd all got together to mess with my mind and make me think this movie would be something special. For a while, I thought they'd somehow brought Steve McQueen back from the dead but no, it turned out to be his 22 year old grandson, Steven R. McQueen.

Anyway, it turns out that piranhas have been living under the lake for about 100 million years but were just recently released from their underwater cave by an earthquake. Like all good movie monsters, they knew to pick the most inconvenient time possible to begin their reign of devastation. In this case, it turns out that Lake Victoria is a popular destination for college kids on Spring Break. On a side note, Lake Victoria also seems to have one of the most rigidly enforced No Fat Chicks policies I've ever seen. Every single college girl visiting the town that week looks great in a skimpy bikini and seems to have nothing better to do than gyrate around for the sake of public amusement. Mind you, this is not a complaint. It was one of the reasons I liked the movie at first. Anyway, like all resort towns, this is the time of year that Lake Victoria makes its big money so when Sheriff Elisabeth Shue responsibly suggests they close the lake after mostly eaten corpses start popping up in it, she receives the "Do you know how much money we'd lose?" speech and that sets the stage for the inevitable bloodbath.

But hey, it wouldn't be a monster movie if the Sheriff's kids weren't in mortal peril so her son, Jake (played by the young McQueen), accepts a job offer from Derrick Jones (Jerry O'Connell) who is there to film a Girls Gone Wild style video. To complicate Jake's life, Derrick manages to convince the girl Jake's in love with (Jessica Szohr) to come along. Jake's never bothered to tell this girl he loves her because he's a little bit of a pussy but this means that he can redeem himself by saving her from piranhas in the third act, a feat that should at least earn him a handjob.

Again, I liked the first half of the movie. There were jokes and loads of gratuitous nudity in between the increasingly suspenseful piranha attacks and then the bomb dropped and by that I mean the movie turned into a bomb. It was gory up till that point but around the end of the second act, the gore went off the charts. I suspect the writers and the director got together and said, "Is there such a thing as showing too many people getting their flesh stripped off by piranhas?" after which they all said in unison, "NO!" They also decided that you couldn't have too many piranha stunts such as having one go in through a guy's stomach and out of his mouth. Also, if you ever wondered if there was something worse than watching a piranha eat a man's penis, that would be having the same piranha loudly burp it back up IN 3D!

For no particular reason, I will now tell you that my least favorite type of ending is when the story doesn't really end so they can have leave room for a sequel. Is that what happens here? Sorry, revealing that would be a spoiler.

If all that sounds good to you, Piranha 3D is for you. If it doesn't, you may want to see Eat, Pray, Love or Vampires Suck or...or say the hell with movie theaters, stay home and rent Dr. Strangelove. That's my idea of a good time anyway. Yours probably involves sex.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Movie Sucks More

Vampires Suck is a bad movie. It's a really really really super really very much really a really bad movie. It's not bad because of a stupid plot. It's a parody of the Twilight films. This makes the plot immune from criticism because the movie isn't about the plot. The story doesn't take place in any kind of a real world but rather in some sort of nonsensical dream in which the filmmakers are free to do whatever they want. Explosions and bloody deaths can occur without notice. A character can suddenly be wearing an environmental suit and have it suddenly disappear in the next shot and it doesn't matter. This puts the filmmakers in the rare position of being immune to normal criticisms and demands that a plot make sense. All they have to do is be funny and, in that, they fail spectacularly. I mean epic level failure. Combine the failures of New Coke, Betamax and real estate derivatives and you still don't reach the level of failure achieved by Vampires Suck. Regular readers of this site know my hatred of this film's source material. I say now that I would rather be bound with my eyes pried open Clockwork Orange-style and forced to watch every moment of every Twilight film over and over again rather than have to watch even the opening credits of this stupid example of anti-comedy ever again.

It will come as no surprise to those familiar with their work that the makers of Date Movie, Epic Movie and Meet The Spartans have created a comedy that stands as a true three dimensional model of what lack of imagination looks like. This latest example of their work contains all their standard jokes. You have celebrity imitators who show up do nothing, movie scene recreations that are supposed to be funny because the characters get hurt in some way or people just getting thrown into stuff. For example, when the Bella character first sees the Cullen stand-ins, she asks, "Who are they?" Another girl responds, "That's Snookie, J-wow..." and then the scene cuts over to a group of Jersey Shore lookalikes. They're posing and doing nothing else. No references to or jokes about themselves or their show.

The funniest joke in the whole movie is when Edward and Becca (the Bella character) have their first kiss and Edward starts giggling in the same way that a 12 year old girls do when they receive their first kisses. Sadly, this brief moment of promise is followed up by a painfully unfunny extended sequence of Becca trying to seduce Edward and Edward fighting her off by tossing her though a ceiling. More than once. Ugh.

I noticed the one part of the audience that seemed to be enjoying the movie were kids around 15 and under. The younger they were, the harder and more often they laughed. I think this means the ideal audience would be children still in the womb. The fetuses will be entertained and their mothers can catch a decent nap so it's a win-win for all. Everyone else should avoid the movie at all costs.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Things I've Learned From Watching Movies Part 82

If you are a band of highly competent criminals, the one thing guaranteed to cause you nothing but pain is to say, "Let's do one last job."

If you're in a room with some girl who says she's the devil and proves it by climbing up walls, GET THE HELL OUT. I don't know what's wrong with these movie exorcists sometimes.

Any and all attempts to have a casual relationship will fail miserably and end up becoming true love, especially if you have lots of colorful, sarcastic and somewhat stupid friends.

If you're looking for someone to frame for murder for political reasons, you should probably do it to a guy who isn't named Machete.

The world will end in a silly and incoherent way though, judging by the evidence, hot babes will still have access to kickass personal trainers.

The clearest path to high school popularity is to launch a scheme both insane and nonsensical while making biting and world weary comments the entire time.

Somehow, having good abs makes you a criminal mastermind.

Don't get into an elevator with the Devil. Really, why did it take a movie to teach us this?

Remember, just because the calendar says you are a mature adult doesn't mean you can't still act like a complete ass.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Look At My Briefs -- 8/19/10

Yep, that time of the week again. Time to kick your shoes off, set a spell, listen to your favorite clog dancing record and read another edition of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

Vampires Suck came out yesterday. Piranha 3D comes out tomorrow. Basically, all the good movies have gone somewhere to die this week and all we is this crap. The producers of Vampires Suck should at least be honest and admit that the original title was Vampires Suck But Not As Much As This Movie Does. Oh congratulations Vampires Suck on what, as of this writing, is a rare zero% Tomatometer rating.

One movie I'm looking forward to is the new effort from director Darren Aronofsky called Black Swan. What caught everyone's attention a few months ago was the news that stars Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis would have a sex scene and, until I saw the trailer, that was all I cared about too. Now that I've seen the trailer, I'm looking forward to this bizarre psychological (and possibly supernatural) thriller. Stories like this are delicate and difficult to successfully bring to the big screen but, for now, it looks like Aronofsky pulled it off and I'm anticipating being very entertained by a look into a waking nightmare that also happens to have A SUPERHOT SEX SCENE BETWEEN TWO LUSCIOUS YOUNG WOMEN ok, I'm back.

This is one of the coolest lists
of DVD and Blu-ray releases I've seen...ever. Night of the Hunter alone would be worth it but Criterion is also putting out Easy Rider? Five Easy Pieces? Oh, my, and Modern Times. Everyone do yourselves a favor and see this and other Chaplin classics like City Lights before you die. If you die without having seen them, have the DVDs buried with you so you can watch them when the aliens resurrect you.

The headline reads "'Captain America' Director Defends 3D Conversion -- Will 'Avengers' Follow Suit?" Sorry Joe Johnston, the only acceptable defense would be, "They had a gun to my wife's head and said they'd kill her if I didn't do the 3D conversion." 3D is bad enough but those 3D conversions are how the residents of Hell have to watch movies. I've seen several and they've all sucked so I don't place very high the odds that Captain America is where that trend will change.

Oh, when I wrote about sucky movies coming out this week, I forgot to mention The Switch. That's the Jennifer Aniston/Jason Bateman romantic comedy that is equal parts delightful zaniness and pure evil where Aniston uses a sperm donor to get pregnant and Bateman, after getting drunk and accidentally destroying said sample, is also drunk enough to think it's a good idea to substitute his own love juice. This, I think, is the one movie that will not cause me to say, "It would have been awful if not for the presence of Jason Bateman," and it's also the one movie that they could have converted to 3D because at least them outrage could have been directed toward the unpleasant visual experience and not the celebration of some borderline form of rape.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love -- Guy Version

Once again, I've decided to throw the ladies out there a little bit of love. One big problem women have is that they expect you to allow yourselves to be dragged to see The Expendables or whatever the latest action movie is while they would refuse to see a movie you liked even if you slipped them poison and said you wouldn't give the antidote until the end credits of Letters To Juliet started rolling. Luckily, a solution to this occured to me: lie. Lie your ass off. Tell guys the latest chick flick is the bloodiest, most action packed ode to testosterone you've ever heard of. To aid in this effort, here is my fake review of Eat, Pray, Love. There you have it.

WOW! I mean just...WOW! I just saw Eat, Pray, Love and I'm so stunned by its supreme awesomeness that all I can say is WOW! over and over again. It's been a long time since I last saw nearly two hours of fun, pure and unapologetic masculinity on the big screen. The characters have a job and they do it without the moping, weeping and navel gazing so characteristic of even the most hardcore action flicks you see today and the most amazing thing is that this was accomplished with Julia Roberts as the star.

Julia play Diana Praylove though, due to the fact that she's always chewing red meat, mostly goes by the nickname Eat. Burned out after 20 years as a deep cover CIA field op, she's finally accepted a desk job at Langley when she receives a phone call from one of her former Russian contacts telling her that something big is brewing but that he can only give her the information in person so they arrange to meet in Italy but all she finds is his dead body and a suicide note. Unwilling to let this go, Eat looks around his apartment only to be greeted with a hail of machine gun fire from the building across the street.

When the gunmen stop to reload, Eat pulls out her 9 millimeter and takes them out with expert precision. She manages to get to one of them before he dies and says, "You have two choices you son of a bitch. You can tell me what I want to know and die quickly or you can stay silent and have your last moments on Earth be filled with more pain than you ever imagined. What's it gonna be?" Thus begins a journey of self discovery and bloodshed that spans three continents that brings Eat into contact with famous chefs, Chechen rebels, spiritual gurus, Somali pirates, new love and old vendettas that can only end in violence and fire.

Do yourselves a favor, men, and go see Eat, Pray, Love. Don't let the women in your lives drag you to some chick flick cause trust me, this movie reaches down, grabs you by the balls and doesn't let go.

There you have it. Just copy the relevant portions, show them to the man you're trying to trick and enjoy watching Julia Roberts trying to find new direction in her life through, food, travel and romance. If your man gets, mad, feel free to blame me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Remembering The 80s By Watching Men In Their 60s

I see The Expendables is creating a great deal of 80s nostalgia in certain circles, some to the point of fetishization. I'll admit it made me a bit nostalgic too. Though it uses some computerized special effects, this movie reminded me that, back in the 80s, no matter how bad the movie was, you had to show real people doing real things. You had to actually take your cast and crew someplace instead of filming the entire movie inside some guy's Macintosh. I was also reminded of the fact that the 1980s was the time that big studios stopped making smaller, quality films in favor of mindless blockbusters. I was also reminded that, with a few exceptions, most of those movies sucked and quite a few of the bad ones starred Sylvester Stallone.

Not only does The Expendables star Sylvester Stallone but he also wrote and directed it, a fact that becomes obvious when you hear the stupid dialogue. I've never understood how Stallone could be so good at writing and acting when it came to Rocky and so lousy when it came to writing and acting every other script and character. Stallone is very effective when playing stoic and solemn characters and very ineffective when called upon to do anything else. Luckily, Stallone had the wisdom to surround himself with decent actors like Jason Statham and Mickey Rourke. Hell, even Jet Li, a man to whom English is a second language, shows more acting range than Stallone.

Stallone plays Barney Ross, the stoic and solemn leader of a mercenary group called (cue "title achievement" music) the Expendables. He's also the only guy who has a real name. The only other one who comes close is Statham's Lee Christmas. Other members of the Expendables are Ying Yang (guess who played him), Gunner, Toll Road, Tool and Hale Caesar. The movie opens with the Expendables raiding a ship that has been taken by Somali pirates. These guys are the first example of a lesson the movie wants to teach us that is also a throwback to the 80s, that all the world's bad guys have various shades of dark skin. Later on we see Hispanic drug dealers and even the Caucasian Eric Roberts, who plays a corrupt former CIA agent, is deeply tanned. Anyway, the rescue is actually a fairly entertaining scene as the savage pirates refuse to acknowledge the fact that they're both surrounded and outgunned thus giving the mercenaries an excuse to shoot indiscriminately. Dolph Lundgren's Gunner, an out of control junkie, does what out of control junkies do and tries to hang one of the pirates even though they've been defeated. This causes his expulsion from the group, an action that surely won't lead to him cooperating with the group's enemies later on.

We move on to that scene that's been in the ads and trailers for months where Stallone meets with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis in a church. Arnie plays a rival mercenary and Willis is the guy who probably works for the CIA trying to decide which of these two he's going to hire to go down to some fictional Central American country and accomplish some sort of vague, nebulous goal. Thing about this is that, when this 5 minute scene ends, Bruce and Arnold are never seen again. Were I a cynical person, I'd suspect the movie's promoters of trying to fool people into thinking that they'd have much bigger roles than they did.

Anyway, they go down to this country, do some stuff, there are bullets and explosions galore and they're done. The end.

This isn't the worst movie you'll ever see. Like I said, with a few exceptions like a dumb scene where a nonexistent building blows up, much of what you see is old fashioned special effects and stunt work and that's a good thing. It's also a collection of dumb people doing dumb things in a way that, at best, is only mildly entertaining and that's not. Oh well, Stallone can get these guy back together in 20 years, make a movie using today's technology and methods and we can all talk about how 2010 was the Golden Age of Movies and that they just don't make movies like Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore anymore.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

How Hollywood Thinks

Hey all. You may have heard that Veronica Mars actress Kristen Bell's new movie You Again is about to be released in theaters. Kristen plays a woman in her late 20s whose brother is about to marry the former cheerleader who made her life hell in high school because she was socially awkward and unattractive. The problem with Kristen Bell playing an unattractive girl is that she looks like this:

Thankfully, You Again has some true creative visionaries lovingly guiding it from the printed page to the big screen and they have cleverly figured out an ingenious method of making the smoking hot Kristen Bell look unattractive.

Problem solved. I apologize to anyone who became physically ill at the sight of Kristen Bell with glasses and a slightly different hairdo, qualities that render her beast-like and unfit for the company of humans. You Kristen Bell fans need not worry though. Later in the movie, the glasses come off, the hair goes back to normal and she becomes doable again.

And that's how Hollywood thinks.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Kirk and Schlock

The time has come for yet another in my famously irregular series of Liveblogs. This is where I take a movie I haven't seen before and write real time snarky comments. I've said before that these must be movies available for streaming on Netflix but I really wanted to do this one which means there is an actual piece of plastic called a DeeVeeDee in my house. My one big wish right now is that I won't die before I mail this back. If I do, my family will think I was a Fundamentalist Christian and plan my funeral accordingly. Why? Because today's movie is Left Behind, an adaptation of what's probably the best selling piece of Biblical fanfiction ever. It stars God's Last True Prophet, Kirk Cameron. Please note that yes, I do spoil the entire movie. Ready? Set? No? Too bad cause here...we...GO!

0:00:50 -- Kirk starts reading a banal narration about how we should have known better about something. It may have sounded cool if Morgan Freeman, Patrick Stewart or Kelsey Grammer had read it but Mike Seaver did it instead so it doesn't.

0:03:15 -- The opening credits also served as an uninspired tourist video of Jerusalem. We learned that Jerusalem contains well known landmarks and that people there walk around a lot. A IMDB search shows that two of the writers have only written Christian films but one, Alan McElroy, went on to write Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever. This tells me we're in for a treat. The director is Vic Sarin, a man known for directing nothing. I'm guessing what I've seen so far was made possible by something known to film scholars as the distinctive Vic Sarin touch.

0:05:10 -- Filmed in the year 2000, the movie shows a massive bombing attack on Israel involving hundreds of fighter jets by the Iraqi Air Force. Cause, you know, Saddam had a huge Air Force. Remember?

0:09:45 -- Kirk Cameron's character, newsman Buck "Buck" Williams, was in Israel filming corn (seriously) and was ushered to safety into some nearby craphole that also just happens to be the nerve center of the Israeli Defense Forces. No one seems to think that maybe you shouldn't let a foreign journalist watch as your top military people try to save your country from a devastating surprise invasion but hey, what do I know about military strategy? This could be common. It turns out they had nothing to worry about since all the invading aircraft are mysteriously blowing up. Buck manages to get back outside and film some of the carnage and also manages to catch the real story, that being a crazy looking old man in robes speaking important sounding gibberish about war and covenants.

0:18:00 -- We've met airline pilot Ray Steele blowing off his son's birthday party so he could command a flight to London. Let me take a moment and say: Really? Ray Steele? Buck Williams? These are the names you're going with, movie? I can't wait to meet Mike Tiger, Steve Crush and Terrence "Duke" Hunter. Anyway, Buck got a call from some super nervous informant who has information about the planes that attacked Israel but won't pass on that information just yet. He'll do it later when he surely won't have died under mysterious circumstances. The informant's name, incidentally, is Dirk Burton so yeah, these are the names they're going with.

0:22:45 -- Two evil looking banker types call Dirk Burton a security risk and describe his job as "an Infotactics ferret." I guess that means his duties include collecting data and forming strategies to make his wild rabbit hunting easier.

0:30:00 -- Buck got onto a London flight that Ray was piloting just in time for the Rapture. You all know about that Rapture, right? That's where God takes the Earth's pious Christians body and soul up to Heaven to spare them the tribulations of the oncoming Apocalypse. As for the sinner? They get LEFT BEHIND. By modern Evangelical Christian standards, this means non-Christians, anyone who's had an abortion, people who say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas and those who voted to legalize gay marriage. Ray is still here because he was having an affair with a flight attendant but it looks like his wife and son got Raptured. He has a teenage daughter too and I knew the second I saw her that she would be LEFT BEHIND because, despite being a decent girl who told her father he should spend more time with his family, is obviously a sinner because she wears a nose ring. Seriously.

0:50:00 -- The story's been dragging along since the Rapture but those two evil bankers I mentioned before, Stonegal and Cothran, are about to launch their plan that somehow dominates the world by giving everyone cheap and plentiful food. Involved in this somehow is Nicolae Carpathia, another super duper manly-named dude who is a humanitarian that works for the U.N. This sounds like a good thing to most people but Evangelicals think of the U.N. as the world headquarters for witches who have gay sex with animals so he's probably the Antichrist. Meanwhile, we're also following Buck's thrilling attempts to rent a private plane.

0:51:30 -- In a totally unforeseen turn of events, Dirk Burton has been murdered. Also, I don't know how much money Infotactics Ferrets make but he was living in a 3 floor townhouse in NYC so when this is done I'm going to see if the local Learning Annex has courses in Infotactics Ferreting.

1:02:00 -- Nicolae Carpathia has a plan to rebuild the Temple of Solomon, an event foretold as a sign of the End Times and another sign that Carpathia is the Antichrist. He also wants to end world hunger and to establish worldwide nuclear disarmament which makes him the worst Antichrist ever. Meanwhile, Ray's becoming the kind of annoyingly religious person that even God gets tired of after a while. I suppose it's important since the one thing that kept Ray's perfectly decent nose-ring daughter from being Raptured was her lack of faith.

1:22:00 -- Buck is convinced that they're living through the Apocalypse when he meets Carpathia and discovers his enthusiastic plan to make pretty much all of the Bible's End Time prophecies come true.

1:36:00 -- And that's that. Carpathia killed the bankers who thought they controlled him and used some sort of Antichrist dark jedi mind trick to make everyone but Buck think they killed themselves. Buck goes back to Ray and nose-ring girl to do something or other to fight the Antichrist and the movie ends. As the hilariously awful electronic end credits music plays, I realize there's something that's always confused me about Apocalyptic Christian fiction. Why does Satan always do exactly what God said he would do when those prophecies also foresee the failure of his plans and the establishment of Christ's Kingdom on Earth? If the Antichrist happens to be reading this, I don't want to tell you your business or anything but you might want to shake up the game plan just a bit.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Look At My Briefs -- 8/12/10

Yes, it's that time of the week again. Thursday used to be known as the day that sucked because it wasn't Friday. Now pretty much the entire globe shuts down so they can all read another edition of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

Am I the only one out there who isn't particularly excited over the release of The Expendables? I like the fact that it relies on real people doing real things and not how well humans can interact with animation but, other than that, it's written by the same guy who thought it was a good idea to play a guy who thought the best way to win his son's love was to enter an arm wrestling contest.

Saddest thing about this article is that Mel Gibson is no longer considered to be a good choice to play Mad Max despite the fact that playing a madman is now no effort at all for Gibson.

Haven't gotten no definitive answer of this question since I asked it on Twitter so I'll ask it here. We viewers are three years into True Blood but how much time has passed in the show. I think it's only been somewhere in the neighborhood of a month. I'm just wondering how long it took Sookie Stackhouse to go from being a timid virgin waitress to engaging in mutual choking during sex with Bill.

As of this writing, The Other Guys has spawned six bitchy Big Hollywood articles complaining about its politics. Now, people who have seen the movie and aren't hardcore right wingers weren't aware it had politics. One of the villains does use his hedge fund to run a Ponzi scheme and another ends up getting bailout funds instead of going to prison. Big Hollywood thinks this makes the film a fiery left wing screed and thus, to them, The Other Guys is now a front in the culture war. Still, their efforts did have an effect. The Other Guys opened at #1. If Big Hollywood hadn't managed to successfully blunt its box office take, it would have opened at #0.

Speaking of entertainment criticism being clouded by right wing ideology, here's a critique of the CW's revival of the USA show Nikita. The writer, Jason Apuzzo, compliments the old show for its terrorist fighting storylines while criticizing the new show for making the intelligence agency itself the villain. Those of you who remember the series and the Luc Besson movie it was based on may have already seen the fatal flaw in this argument. The villain in every version of the Nikita story was always the intelligence agency that recruited her. Both the movie and the first television show had Nikita spending most of her time trying to outwit and fight against her vicious, evil employers who would have killed her had they discovered her efforts or even if she tried to quit. I can only assume that the writer never saw the original series or that he thought no one else remembered it thus freeing him to say whatever the hell he wanted to.

Honestly Blockbuster, your attempts to once again become the biggest hitter in the movie rental park are just adorable. Maybe you could try using the VHS format instead of Beta next. I hate Blockbuster for a variety of reasons and have been very happy watching the rise of Netflix and Redbox.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chucking Up

Remember on Monday when I wrote that the stupid plot of The Other Guys was all right because the film was so artfully constructed that I laughed anyway? Step Up 3D is an example of what happens when a stupid plot isn't handled that well.

Step Up 3D is a very odd movie. The dance numbers are pretty good and a few approach brilliance. Seriously, some of these look as good as any musical number ever put on film. Then there are the scenes where no one is dancing. These are mind numbingly retarded. Yes, that's an offensive word these days but this movie is offensive. In fact, if you ever think that you might be retarded, compare yourself to this movie. I guarantee that no matter what your limitations, you will look like Albert Einstein when measured against Step Up 3D. In fact, I'll never call a human being retarded again because they could never be as retarded as Step Up 3D.

Need proof? When the movie opens, you meet Moose and Camille who are played by...oh hell, they're played by someone and I'm not looking up their names. They were apparently in the first two Step Up films, a fact I only know from a magazine article. Yes, I must confess I've never seen the first two films and thus am ignorant of the lore of the Step-Up-verse. Anyway, Moose and Camille are high school chums who, for some odd reason, won't admit that they're hot for each other. They're about to enter NYU together which means there will be plenty of openings for getting hammered and waking up naked next to each other except for one thing: Moose joins a dance crew and never goes to class.

This happens when he accidentally enters a dance battle in the park against some guy named Kid Darkness, a member of an evil dance crew...let me say that again...an EVIL DANCE CREW called the Samurais. Everyone insists that Moose bested Kid Darkness despite the fact that Kid Darkness was approximately 80 bazillion times better than Moose. This brings him to the attention of Luke, leader of a good dance crew called the Pirates. The Pirates all live together in an old, rundown warehouse but OH NO the bank is about to take it away from them due to some obscure clause in their mortgage agreement that says they have to pay their mortgage in full and on time and not be six months behind on payments like they are now. About 20 people live there so if they all got jobs they could probably easily catch up on the mortgage but, instead of that logical and practical solution, they decide to enter World Jam and use the first place prize money to save their shithole of a home.

That plot was old when Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland were doing it in the 30s and yet, that's not the end of the rank stupidity. For example, the Samurais track Moose down and demand another dance battle. Moose runs and hides behind the other Pirates and Luke says, "You want him, you have to get through us." I just couldn't figure out what the hell they were protecting him from. All they wanted to do was dance. Moose was in no physical danger at all yet everyone lost their shit and acted as if he was.

Then there's Natalie, a very athletic and very cute dancer who shows up at the warehouse and causes Luke to act like he's never seen a girl before. She and Luke know each other for five minutes before he offers to let her stay there and she can tell by his smoldering good looks and perfect pecs that he couldn't possibly be a maniac who will cut her open, rape her corpse and wear her intestines as a hat. He asks Natalie to tell him about herself and she says, "All you need to know is in my dancing." Really? I saw her dance and had no idea about things like her credit score, which Ben and Jerry's flavor she liked and whether she'd takes it up the butt and yes, I NEED to know all those things. Seriously though, Natalie is actually hiding a huge secret, not an inkling of which was revealed in her dancing.

Have I mentioned the stupid 3D effects yet that make everyone in the movie look like they're standing in front of green screens the whole time? I haven't? Well now I did. I should also bring up the fact that, while not a single one of the written jokes was funny, the film is loaded with unintentional humor.

As I said, there's some great dancing including the part where Moose and Camille perform a Gene Kelly style number in the street set to the classic "I Don't Dance." As I also said, the non-dancing parts are where brain cells go to die. The only logical conclusion is that the filmmakers simply didn't take the non-dancing parts of the movie seriously. That's too bad as they could have had a great movie had they done otherwise. My advice is skip it and hope that they get the idea to release a special DVD that contains only the dance/musical numbers. If they don't, try to go one without ever seeing Step Up 3D.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Top 5 Conservative Porn Films

Hello. I'm too busy for original thinking today so, until tomorrow, please enjoy this repost of something from February 16, 2009. This has received more hits than anything I've ever done here which means it's either really good or people are accessing it so they can shoot out their monitors. Either way, I'll take the hits.

Once again, I've been contacted by Gotterdamerung, one of the country's top right wing bloggers who often posts here to "bring balance" to my work. Today, however, he is presenting a companion piece to National Review's recent compilation of the 25 Most Conservative Movies. He's asked to post it here before he cross-posts it to Big Hollywood so, here you go. -- MC

Hi all, Gotterdamerung here. I'm sure you've all been enjoying National Review Online's recent attempt to name the Top 25 Most Conservative Movies. Naturally, the Liberal MSM is giving far more attention to the upcoming Pro-Jihadist event known as the Academy Awards than to this but then, what else have we come to expect from them? All that aside, I felt that NRO's list, wonderful though it may be, was ignoring a significant part of the conservative movie viewing experience and yes, I'm talking about pornography. I know that porn is evil and makes Baby Jesus cry but it's a sad truth that, since Obama was elected President, it's become very popular. We on the Right would be foolish not to fully embrace this medium as a tool with which we can advance our agenda, increase our power and, eventually and ironically, legislate out of existence the very thing that brought about our ascendance. I went ahead and made the sacrifice of watching literally thousands of porn films and now present to you what, in my humble opinion, are the five best pornographic showcases of conservative beliefs.

5. Three-Hump-Dred: Just like the Zack Snyder blockbuster for which it was named, this movie chronicles the true-life events of King Leonidas and his army of 300 Spartans battling the much larger Persian army at the Battle of Thermopylae. This version, however, is hardcore all-male action in which the Spartans do not use weapons but, instead, attempt to fuck the Persians to death. The movie's climactic scene (in more ways than one) is a final encounter between Leonidas (played brilliantly by actor Dack Hammer) and the Persian Emperor Xerxes who, while definitely being bigger than Leonidas in every way, lacks the Spartan King's skill and stamina. In the end, the sheer numbers of the Persian Army leave the Spartans too drained and spent to go on. While technically a defeat, their sacrifice will never be forgotten. This movie does teach us all the lesson that we should stand up to our enemies and that's good. My only real problem with it is that, instead of Persians, the movie's villains should have been Iranians.

4. Night of the Living Dicks: A town which consists of nothing but men has to deal with some sort of disease which causes the dead to return as zombies with an insatiable appetite for gay sex. This movie serves as a searing indictment of the militant homosexual culture as many of the living actually choose to allow themselves to be molested by zombies instead of just running away. That's right, they chose to be gay. Also, the zombie cure created at the end proves once and for all that even gays realize homosexuality is something that can be reversed even though all the former zombies celebrated their newfound life by having a massive gay orgy.

3. The Chronicles of Bonia: Hardcore sexual content aside, this movie serves as an excellent example of conservative values. The mythical land of Bonia lives under the grip the White Bitch (porn actress Sierra Cherry) who orders all her subjects to have nothing but boring missionary-position sex. Her enemy, Aslan (not a lion here but instead a very well endowed black man played by well known porn star Chocolate Thunder) brings a family of 4 from Earth to go forth and teach the Bonians the wonders of oral and butt sex. The Bonians' choice of Aslan's superior sexual pleasures causes them to rebel against the White Bitch, a stellar example of the power of competition and the free market.

2. Everyone Loves Bush: From the title, I thought this would be a documentary that finally dared to tell the truth about the wondrous achievements of the Bush administration. Instead, this movie with an all-female cast turned out to be...well, not that. Still, the title itself can go a long way toward cementing the former President's legacy as one of our greatest leaders and that alone puts it at #2 on the list.

1. Best Upskirt Videos: This collection of short films made by guys who surreptitiously stick hidden cameras up the skirts of unsuspecting girls serves as a devastating expose of the dangers of feminism and female sexual self-expression. Had these girls been dressed more modestly in floor length skirts instead of slutty mini-dresses then the brave men who took these shots would not have felt forced to expose their undergarments (or lack thereof) to the world. I, for one, commend the filmmakers, Jizz Spiller Studios, for the service they have performed in exposing these unsuspecting girls as the floozies they are. The fact that Best Upskirt Videos did not receive a Best Documentary nomination this year, to me, is a greater insult than the much better known snub of The Dark Knight.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Plot, Schmot

The Other Guys is a surprise because a good comedy is always a surprise. I generally assume a comedy, and this goes double for big budget studio made comedies, will suck for the simple reason that so many of them do. Even if you manage to start with a funny script, it will generally get torn apart by the studio system that relies on marketing research and the judgment of executives who possess the sense of humor of an artichoke instead of the judgment of funny writers who write the funny scripts to determine what eventually makes it onto the screen. In the case of The Other Guys, I'm assuming the latter were in control as opposed to the people with MBAs.

The Other Guys is not a great comedy but it is a pretty damn good one. It's not good because of its starkly realistic plot mainly because The Wizard of Oz is more realistic than this. In fact, the plot is pretty damn stupid but, in this case, that didn't detract from the laughs. The Other Guys is a funny movie because the filmmakers found a way to take distinct and well drawn characters and keep them funny for the entirety of the movie. Movies like this usually run out of steam in about 30 minutes. If you're lucky, it stays funny until the final act when special effects and car chases take over. There were car chases at the end but even those were funny.

The movie opens with Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson playing Highsmith and Danson, two typical action movie cops. They jump on the hoods of moving vehicles, drive through buses, fire about 10,000 rounds of ammo in civilian populated areas and blow up buildings in pursuit of the bad guys. It's even acknowledged that they causes over $12 million in damages while chasing drug dealers who only had a pound of marijuana on them but no one cares. In the movies most realistic moment, they become so convinced of their invincibility that they jump off a 12 story building while chasing some bank robbers, an act that leads to their deaths. This leaves an opening in the New York City's hero department and Detective Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) thinks that he and his partner Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) can be the ones who fill that opening. This plan has a few drawbacks. One is that Terry was a rising star in the police department until the day he shot Derek Jeter. This was why he was partnered with Allen, a former member of the Forensic Accounting Unit who became an investing detective because...well, I honestly don't have a clue how he ever became a detective.

Allen is the Will Ferrell character, that being a guy who is generally a dimwit but also possesses extraordinary abilities that make him larger than life. Allen's super-Ferrell powers in this case are his ability to gleefully immerse himself in the bureaucratic minutiae of his job while maintaining a sunny attitude and the fact that beautiful, sexy women, for some reason, find him irresistible. Allen doesn't notice this. In fact, he routinely refers to his wife as plain even though she's played by Eva Mendes.

Allen and Terry start investigating some sort of illegal investment plot that's basically a child's introduction to economic malfeasance headed up by a crooked broker played by Steve Coogan but it really doesn't matter. As I said, the main plot has nothing to do with why The Other Guys is worth seeing. It's worth seeing because it's funny. The writers wrote funny things for funny actors to do and say. In the end, that's all you really need.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bizarro World Movie Reviews -- Step Up 3D

I want you all to know how lucky you are. You are all about to experience a rare privilege. I promise you that you will tell your children and that they will tell their children about this remarkable moment in history for this is the day that the world at large will be able to experience the wonder that is Step Up 3D.

I think I can safely predict that Step Up 3D will stand not only as a movie that speaks for an entire generation but as one that speaks for generations far beyond this one. I truly believe that people will look back decades and still flock to theaters to see it and, if theaters have ceased to exist, they will be rebuilt for the sole purpose of showing Step Up 3D.

What allowed this latest chapter set in the legendary Step-Up-iverse to shine is that this one is shot in 3D, a format universally recognized as something that always makes movies better. It's not at all dark, distracting, needless or headache inducing. Now, instead of seeing dancers on screen we SEE the DANCERS on SCREEN!!! I never truly knew what pop and locking was before I saw it in 3D. When I saw a young man doing it in the street outside the theater after the show, I lamented that I was seeing it in real life and not truly seeing it in 3D.

The story is as original as it is old. A group of dancers have set up a dancing halfway house in an old warehouse under the leadership of dancer/filmmaker Luke. Sadly. the owner of the building actually expects to be paid for its use and everyone who lives there is too busy challenging each other to dance battles to go out and earn some money so they did what you and I would do. That's right, instead of getting jobs, they enter a huge dance contest with the help of a girl named Natalie who's qualified to help them because Luke wants to have sex with her.

As you can see, the themes in that story know neither the boundaries of time nor culture. It can enjoyed by all the peoples of the world. I can envision Israelis and Palestinians sharing tubs of popcorn and perhaps even dance along with Luke and Natalie and everyone else on the screen and realize that they're not so different after all.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Look At My Briefs -- 8/5/10

It's too damn hot to write which is why you should all offer me very dirty sexual favors for soldiering on and whipping up this, another edition of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

Cinematical reports that Quentin Tarantino may write and direct The Shadow. The Shadow is one of my all time favorite superheroes. I have old Shadow comic books and copies of The Shadow radio show from the 30s starring Orson Welles that I still listen to from time to time. A Shadow movie was made in 1994 with Alec Baldwin that sucked as much ass as it's possible to suck and I would never call any new cinematic version of the Shadow a remake of that. Now that I've set that up, let me put this out there: Quentin Tarantino, if you make The Shadow into a movie, I'll blow you. I mean, I will literally put your penis into my mouth until you ejaculate. I've never done that to a man before but I promise that my lack of experience will be more than compensated for by my drive and enthusiasm. It's all up to you now, dude. Let me know one way or the other.

Oh great, the new G.I. Joe sequel will be made by the same guy who made the first one into such a piece of crap. Can't we just do a reboot and start over again?

I normally try to stay away from celebrity gossip but who the hell is calling Michelle Trachtenberg fat? Seriously, who? I see these stories in which she is supposedly being called fat but they never name the source of those accusations. I'd have to assume it's some sort of cult that worships anorexia as a god.

It's been forever since I last read The Forever War* but I remember it with enough fondness to be excited that it's going to made into a movie written by David Webb Peoples and (hopefully) directed by Ridley Scott. Please note that I will consider acts of terrorism to be a viable option if, as is more than possible, Scott loses control of the project and it ends up being made by a guy whose only directorial experience is making music videos who throws out characterization and dialogue in favor of 3D CGI. Until that happens, I can hope.

Big Hollywood slams Stephen King for calling Glenn Beck a nutcase and Rush Limbaugh a cynical huckster but they fail to realize that the simple solution to this problem is to get those two to stop being such huckster nutcases. You're welcome, Big Hollywood.

As I wrote this, I heard that California's Prop 8 had been overturned so I would like to amend my previous offer to Quentin Tarantino. Quentin, I will gay marry if you make The Shadow. Yeah, this just got real.

* Ha ha.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Keeping It Short

Let's take a look at upcoming films. This'll be so much fun I'll be surprised if you don't puke with joy.

I can't wait to see if the "It can't possibly get any worse" theory of filmmaking holds true for this movie.

I'm really looking forward to this because I can't wait to see Will Ferrell breaking new ground giving an over the top performance playing a character who is both dimwitted and larger-than-life.

I like chick flicks despite my lack of chick status but I feel like this movie's title is telling me what to do. I have enough people telling me what to do now so I'll pass.

Here's a movie directed by Sylvester Stallone. The last movie directed by Sylvester Stallone that had nothing to do with Rocky or Rambo was 1983's Staying Alive, an unintentionally hilarious sequel to Saturday Night Fever that tried to convince the world that women only use men for meaningless sex and that the music of Sylvester Stallone's brother Frank was something we should all be listening to. It failed to do either of those things. I'm sure this new movie will be good though.

I don't want to go overboard on how good I think Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is going to be but I do think it will do for movies what Jesus did for religion. Yes, I have high expectations and if they aren't met, I will be equal parts cruel and merciless.

You know what else sucks? Makers of cheesy parody films that wouldn't know funny if it came up and kicked them in the face.

This title tells me the movie is either about sports, sex, or a group of leather clad bikers roaming a post apocalyptic world looking for gasoline. I can't wait to find out.

It will only be the last exorcism if the movie loses money. If it's a hit, count on another three or four exorcisms.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Take A Good Hard Look Cause I'm Sailing On A Boat

I admit I'm not the ideal audience for Zac Efron's new movie Charlie St. Cloud. The ideal audience is teenage girls who are into guys who look like teenage girls and that's just not me. Oh, someday maybe, if they ever perfect the operation, but enough of that.

Charlie St. Cloud is the kind of maudlin melodrama that I always want to kick. It's the kind of movie that makes me say, "To hell with this free pass, I should have gone to see Inception again." The only reason I didn't walk out after the first 30 minutes when I saw exactly where the movie was going is because I wanted to write this review though now I'm thinking, "I could have just said I walked out after the first 30 minutes." I'll describe the film and you can see what I mean.

Charlie is an amateur sailor who's so good that he's going to Stamford on a sailing scholarship. Until this movie, I had no idea that sailing scholarships existed so maybe they were invented for Charlie because he's just that good. Charlie has an 11 year old brother named Sam. The movie goes to extraordinary lengths to tell us that Charlie really loves the kid for the sole purpose of making us feel bad when Sam dies. We get an extra helping of guilt and grief because Sam died because Charlie disobeyed his mom's instructions to stay home and instead took Sam out driving with him. A drunk driver crashes into them and they both have near death experiences which, for Sam, was near enough that he couldn't be brought back. A side effect of this is that Charlie can now see ghosts which means he can see Sam and he and Sam make a deal to meet every day at sunset to play catch.

Five years later, Sam and Charlie are still meeting to play catch and this is where the movie really...slows...down. Up till this point, the movie wasn't too bad. Oh, nothing I'd recommend but also nothing I couldn't sit through. It is when we move forward and meet the 23 year old Charlie that we are treated to the same three scenes over and over again. One is Charlie in his job as head caretaker of the town's graveyard trying to get rid of geese. I lost count of the number of times we saw Charlie running around banging trash can lids together in an attempt to get rid of the geese that infested the graveyard and were soiling the headstones. The second scene on an endless loop is the games of ghost baseball between Charlie and his brother during which they make small talk about the plot and call each other dicks. The third is Charlie trying to get together with a girl named Tess (Amanda Crew) with whom he went to high school who is now preparing to enter a six month boat race to South Africa. Charlie's attempts to get Tess's panties off usually fail because of his dead brother obsession but, you know, he's Zac Efron and he's the star of the movie so do the math. An honorary fourth scene would be Zac Efron standing around and staring at stuff. Could be Tess. Could be a sunset. Could be a goose. But he does it over and over again.

Mixed in and played along with the three scenes is what was supposed to be a shocking plot twist that I spotted the second it started to unfold. I then had to sit there for the next hour or so as the movie kept dropping hints about this event until the big reveal. I'm not sure if I was the only one to figure this out but I did notice a lack of gasps and stunned silences when they finally told me what I already knew.

Charlie St. Cloud director Burr Steers, a name you'd think would be synonymous with quality, does take advantage of the lovely scenery of this small Maine town* and he gives us plenty of shots of yachts sailing idyllically over beautiful seas and actors staring at lovely sunsets but that's pretty much where the movie's virtues end.

One more thing I want to address is the penchant for melodramatic ghost stories to have the dead tell the living that everything is so awesome in the afterlife but then have the same dead people actively encourage the living to go on living. If being dead is so awesome, why wouldn't you want your loved ones there with you? "I'm really better off being dead, beloved relative. It's the greatest experience ever so for God's sake, stay alive." Maybe only a limited amount of cream filled donuts are laid out every morning in the afterlife so you want to keep as many people here as long as possible because you keep getting stuck with glazed.

*I think it was Maine anyway. If not there then somewhere in New England. I don't feel like looking it up.