Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Call Me Snake

February 13, 2008

During the latter part of the last century, there were some movies that totally captured the imagination of 10th graders all across this great land of ours. Well, this 10th grader anyway. Movies like Escape from New York and The Road Warrior. They weren’t the kiddie fare of the Star Wars movies. They were gritty and people got killed in realistic, or at least realistic to 10th graders, fashion. It was all we talked about. We watched these movies every time they came on cable. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

The trailer for this movie makes me tumescent in anticipation. In fact, if you asked me to go up to the board and do a geometry proof, I would have to take my book with me to cover up my excitement.


I Am Almost Legend

December 15, 2007

I took the children to go see I Am Legend last night.


Because it is important for children to worry about mutant zombie vampires, that’s why.

Now I’ve been following this movie for quite some time. The Chuck Heston version has always been a personal favorite since childhood. I read the Mark Protosevich script online and found it to be acceptable, but for a troubled third act. It did not bring me joy to find out that the hackiest hack who ever hacked out a screen play, Akiva Goldsman, was brought on as a new writer. Nor was I pleased to find out that Will Smith was going to be playing Robert Neville.

My impotent and pointless objections from a few years ago to this news can be found here.

Pointless because this film exceeded my expectations. It isn’t great, but it’s good. As we left the theater, the boys and I agreed it was a solid B+. A couple of hours later, they upgraded it to an A-.

Here’s my only real complaint(s):

Minor spoilers follow.

The worst knock I can give this movie is that the CGI zombie vampires look like shit and aren’t that scary. Sure, they are creepy when it is dark and you can barely see them. But, when you get a good look at them, even Jar Jar Binks thinks they look lame. If you have seen any of the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies, you will feel a slight twinge of deja vu. The infected from the 28 Days/Weeks Later films are far scarier, because they were REAL PEOPLE. Trust me, there is a palpable sense of menace when a flesh and blood person is after you instead of something that the audience knows is essentially just ones and zeros. A couple of minor edits to the code and you’ve got the penguin from Happy Feet.

As an aside, we watched Transformers last night after getting back from the picture show. By comparison, Optimus Prime looked far more real than the mutant zombie vampires.

The Bob Marley stuff was a nice touch. Except, when you realize that the album that Smith is listening to is Legend. That’s when you start to groan audibly and can actually see Goldsman’s filthy prints all over the script.

The other example of his hackery is the butterfly plot device. The less said about this the better.

The third act is still problematic, but is an improvement over earlier drafts. My biggest gripe is that the title of the movie is fairly meaningless with the redaction of an important part of the original plot.

Taken without the context of the novel, it is still a good movie. The kids were scared through most of it and talked about it for hours afterwards. Hell, they are still talking about it this morning.

Now, at least they have a point of reference when I go on about our survival plans for after the mutant zombie vampire apocalypse.

National Public Box Office

August 26, 2007

Now that Hollywood is just about finished strip-mining every obscure television show/movie/cartoon from our collective childhood, they will next look towards NPR for their next round of creatively bankrupt releases.

From the folks who brought you the movie version of Prairie Home Companion comes these future blockbusters.

You, Me & Neda Ulaby

The Devil Wore Ann Taylor 

My Dinner With Andrei Codrescu

The Three Burials of Mandalit del Barco

In Like Corey Flintoff 

I’m Not Ron Rapaport

Cokie’s Fortune

Desperately Seeking Susan Stamberg 

and my personal favorite,

What About Bob Edwards 

Random Friday

July 27, 2007

Let us speak of motion pictures past, present and future.

**Can someone explain to me why Adam Beach wasn’t at least nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Ira Hayes in Flags of Our Fathers? Can someone explain to me why Alan Arkin won? Oh, that’s right. End of the career achievement award. Duh.

**The kids want me to let them watch the Reno 911!: Miami movie. After catching it On Demand this morning, I don’t think that is going to happen. There was so much objectionable material that I may have to watch it again before they get back from Florida.

**I heard there was a Simpsons movie coming out soon. Funny, I haven’t seen a lot of coverage about it.

**I’ve watched Superman Returns about 30 times now. It has grown on me. Despite the minor flaws, the unfortunate resemblance of Clark Kent to Max Fischer, and the slavish devotion to Richard Donner’s 1978 version, it gets the job done.

I’ve almost gotten past the miscasting of Lois Lane. I can’t quite get past the miscasting of Lex Luthor. Kevin Spacey seems like an inspired choice, and a worthy heir to Gene Hackman on the surface. But after a few minutes, it becomes clear that he is just bald Kevin Spacey, and not the greatest criminal mastermind of our time.

They should have used Clancy Brown. He would have been perfect. At least then you wouldn’t be wondering what Kevin Lex is doing with a girlfriend.

**Speaking of DC Comics, the new teaser for The Dark Knight is online. Tease is about right. All anticipation. No payoff.

**It may be the bourbon talking, but I would totally do Grendel’s Mother. It’s Beowulf time, beeeyaotch!

**I almost forgot about The Darjeeling Limited.  Or Bottle Rocket Goes To India.  Or The Royal Tenenbaums On A Train.    As long as it isn’t another Life Aquatic.  A couple of viewings of Bill Murray all hopped up on melancholy will make you want to shoot a spear gun through your mandible.

Oscar 2007

February 23, 2007


And the winner is….

It’s time again for my annual predictions of this year’s Oscar winners. Let’s get right to it.

Supporting Actress:
Adriana Barraza, Babel
Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi, Babel

I didn’t see any of those movies. The two from Babel will cancel each other out. I didn’t see that movie when it was called Crash, either. No one saw Notes on a Scandal. If the awards were held a few months ago, Hudson might have won it. I’m going with the kid from Little Miss Sunshine.

Supporting Actor:
Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children
Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond
Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Mark Wahlberg, The Departed

Didn’t catch any of these either. The Academy must be trying to make it up to Jackie Earle Haley for legendarily snubbing him for Bad News Bears. He still won’t win. Who keeps putting Djimon Hounsou in movies? That dude has the acting skills of Keanu Reeves on cough syrup. Eddie Murphy was a shoo-in until Norbit came out. Then everyone remembered that he’s still Eddie Murphy. If Marky Mark wins, he should change his name to Whoopi Tomei. The winner will be Alan Arkin, as this one is the equivalent to getting a lifetime achievement award.

Penelope Cruz, Volver
Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
Helen Mirren, The Queen
Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet, Little Children

The winner is Penelope Cruz. Oh, wait. You meant which one is the Best Actress? How the hell should I know? No, I didn’t see these movies. All I do know is, out of that list, the answer is Penelope Cruz.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond
Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson
Peter O’Toole, Venus
Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland.

Wouldn’t it have been awesome if I had seen just one of these? Don’t care about Will and Leo’s little after school specials teaching us about the value of whatever sort of moral tale they are bashing us over the heads with this year. Peter O’Toole should have gotten tagged for My Favorite Year, The Stuntman, The Ruling Class, Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Lion in Winter, Becket, or Lawrence of Arabia. He might get the consolation Oscar for this movie that no one saw. Gosling is playing one of the Nelson twins? Did not see that one coming. My money is Whitaker. He owns whatever picture he is in. Plus, it looks like this one is set in Scotland! Good enough for me.

Best Picture:
The Departed
Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

No idea. I don’t really care about The Queen or Babel. I wanted to see Letters From Iwo Jima and The Departed. My parents were going to rent Little Miss Sunshine when we brought the kids down for Christmas. They thought it looked like a family comedy. Like National Lampoon’s Vacation. They get all of their recommendations from either the blurbs on the box the movie comes in or the hillbilly woman who runs the local video store. I don’t think this is Scorsese’s year, again. It’s either Clint or the kid’s movie going home with the statue.

My final prediction: For the 79th year in a row, Jack Klugman will get snubbed by the Academy.

Man alive, did that suck. I watched something else from nine until ten, and when I flipped back, it was like I missed nothing. That show couldn’t have more boring and less funny if it had been hosted by Whoopi Goldberg. The only bright spot was Jerry Seinfeld’s routine before presenting Best Documentary. If you are looking for a host for next year, I think he might be available. The low point was Al Gore’s comedic turn with his faux-announcement. It was like watching Howard Cosell do double-takes on The Odd Couple.

As if any further proof were needed of what a phony, self-aggrandizing suckfest the Academy Awards have become, look no further than Best Song. Right after the cast of Dreamgirls (didn’t see it) blows the roof off the joint, they hand the award over to Melissa Etheridge whose only musical accompaniment was the sledgehammer she used to hit everyone over the head.

A Life Not My Own

January 3, 2007

Movies currently showing, any one of which I would like to see today:


We Are Marshall

The Good Shepherd

Stranger Than Fiction

Casino Royale

The Departed

Deja Vu

The goddamn movie that I will wind up seeing today:

Charlotte’s Web

Dakota Fanning in the Brittney Gilbert Fern role far outshines her voice over co-stars.  John Cleese gives a Python/Fawlty touch to his part as the lead sheep.  Steve Buscemi is more than serviceable as Templeton the Rat, but he’s no Paul Lynde.  All of the other animals were voiced by famous folks in a low-key way, that still made me spend more time figuring out who the voice actor was rather than pay attention to what was going on.

Which was probably a good thing.

Sinatra Warns Apes To Knock It Off

August 7, 2006

Singer gives Dr. Zaius 24 Hours to ‘Drop This Monkey Bunk or It’s Ring-A-Ding for You Bozos’.

The Quick Lebowski

July 21, 2006

This one is for you, Kitty.

The Dude abides.

Playing God

July 11, 2006

playingg5.jpg Set the WABAC machine for 1997.  David Duchovny was a big-shot TV star, Angelina Jolie was a virtually unknown ingenue, and no one was sure if this internet thing was going to catch on. 

The movie Playing God was on cable the other day.  I had totally forgotten that baby-faced Jolie was even in this flick.  Timothy Hutton and Duchovny got top billing over her.  That’s what a nobody she was at the time.  Now people wonder "Whatever happened to that guy from X-Files, or that other guy from Taps?"

Meanwhile, Jolie has to go to a country that 85% of Americans can’t find on a map to squirt out her kid.  That’s how crazy famous she is now.   By the way, if this is the best place you can take the kids for fun, you either aren’t real bright or aren’t trying very hard.

The movie itself isn’t half bad.  Duchovny neither impresses or disappoints.  However, Hutton is so over the top in the third act, the viewer is reminded of William Shatner singing Rocket Man as a comparison in subtlety.  The best line, however, comes from Hutton tossing a throw-away line about Jolie adopting some Chinese babies.  Who would have guessed that  she would base her entire life around it?

Who would have guessed this internet thing working out for that matter?


My Focus Group

June 30, 2006

Not every review of Superman Returns needs to quote Nietzsche or drop a reference to Cahiers du Cinema.  The best reviews come from the target audience.   At a sneak preview of the Will Smith tour de force, Wild Wild West when the credits started rolling and the lights came up, the ten year old in front of me exclaimed, "That was the worst piece of shit I have ever seen."  There isn’t a movie reviewer in America who can top that kid’s distillation of that particular piece of shit.

Yesterday, I took the Sugar Momma’s boys to see Superman Returns at the Opry Mills.  Here is their chock-full-of-spoilers review:

Did you guys like the movie?

8 year old:  Great,awesome! One of the best movies I’ve seen. When Lex Luthor put the crystal and the kryptonite into the water the ground started to crack and there was a new continent Lex Luthor called his own.
11 year oldIf you like Superman you have to go see SUPERMAN RETURNS!!

When did you start liking Superman?

8:   When I saw the first Superman cartoon a few years ago.  I started like him more when Sarcastro showed them to me.
11:  I’ve had an interest but just really started watching a few months ago.

What movies do you like better than this one? 

8: Home Alone 3.
11:  Home Alone 4 and The Longest Yard.  That one is so funny but it has some language that 8 shouldn’t listen to.

 What parts did you like the most?

8:  I liked when Lex Luthor threw the kryptonite in the water.
11:  When Kent Clark returns.

 What parts did you like the least?

8: I didn’t like it at the beginning when Lex Luthor had on a wig.
11: I liked it all.

Do you think the movie would be better in IMAX or on a regular screen? 

8:  I have never seen a movie on IMAX.
11: Regular screen…because I don’t like 3D  movies.  The glasses hurt my eyes.

Were there any parts of the movie that were confusing or that you didn’t understand? 

8:  When Lex Luthor made a new continent.  I didn’t understand why he did it.
11:  Lex Luthor had a wig on and was saying good-bye to his mother.  I didn’t know who he was. Sarcastro told me.

What makes Superman cool? 

8: His super powers and especially his flying.
11:  He can fly.

If you made this movie, what would you do differently? 

8:  I would change the beginning where you could see Superman born and his parents funeral.
11:  Change the boots Superman was wearing.