Thursday, September 29, 2011

Blogging is not writing. It's just graffiti with punctuation.

A new record was set at the local cinema tonight. I think I was almost in tears less than five minutes into Steven Soderbergh's Contagion. Yep, putting it out there. Now, there was no weeping mind you, but damned if I didn't tear up right out of the gate. I won't spoil it for you, but if you have a kid, it hits hard. Overwhelmingly hard. Yikes.

My mom is in town and she was cool with watching our son tonight, so me and the wife could go out. Shockingly, I dragged her to another movie that she was convinced she was going to hate (see my Apes review) but ended up enjoying. Now, she wanted to see The Help, and even pitched Moneyball, but the showtime for Contagion worked best, and...well, that was really what I wanted to see. Moneyball looks good, but last night my beating heart was bobbled in Carl Crawford's glove in Baltimore, and I honestly don't think I can manage any more baseball. It might take the 188 days till Spring Training to fully heal. Longer if the Yanks win it. Much longer.

Game over, man. Game over.
While we're discussing heartache and the evils of the world, let me tell you, this movie is scary. Very scary. An unknown virus wiping us out with brutal efficiency is more frightening than any CG-monster ever created. Seeing civilized-life crumble worldwide in a matter of days is unsettling enough, but seeing it so realistically portrayed physically hurts. I have never been so conscious of my hands and face before in a theater (that sounds dirty, but stay with me). I didn't want to move at all. I started to think about the back of the chair and the armrests - and got a bit itchy. Then, a guy in the theater started coughing. I almost shit*.

Bottom line? Check this one out. I didn't want to literally make love to it like I did Drive, but it was still a good time. Well, as much fun as you can have imagining your family die in front of you - but whatever. Minor sticking point. And for the record, Marion Cotillard is insanely beautiful. Wowzers.
 *this is actually my mom's favorite saying.Your mom might say "I was so surprised!" Not mine. She goes with the shit-line. Seriously.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My hands are a little dirty.

It's been some time since I've seen something that I unabashedly enjoyed. Tonight, I was afforded the opportunity to catch the intriguingly-badass flick, Drive. Now, I generally like to wallow in a good movie for a few days, but I really want to let this one consume me. I'm trying to replay some of the nuances over in my head, but it all keeps coming back to one scene in particular. I won't ruin anything for you, but it takes place in an elevator and it's incredible. And for me, it sums up everything that is utterly brilliant in this ridiculously-awesome movie.

Best film with Drive in the title? It's not New Jersey Drive. Sorry, Heavy D.
Let's just get this out of the way: Ryan Gosling is the frickin' man. Say what you want about the film itself, but his performance in The Notebook was excellent (for the record, I thought the movie was great). The only other role I remember him in was the lead in Lars and the Real Girl , but he was solid there, too. Yes, I know he is Oscar-nominated, but none of that matters. This role cements his legendary status. The math is simple. Very little dialogue plus toothpick times awesome scorpion jacket minus any hesitation in absolutely destroying someone equals unrivaled awesomeness. You can't take your eyes off this guy. Amazing.

There's something else, too. The vibe of this movie is all-consuming. The music and the visuals create this picture of L.A that is very intense. I haven't felt the city this much since the first time I saw Collateral. I think the soundtrack in this movie could potentially polarize some, but I was enamored with it. I honestly don't know how to describe it.

This lady can't catch a break with the fellas.
What I can describe, is the sheer brutality of the violence. Some of it is seared into my brain forever. Goodness. It takes a bit to get going, but when it starts, no punches are pulled. People get what's coming to them in very raw ways. If that Cajun guy thought Harry Brown was 'rough' - he's going to actually die watching this one. The shotgun scene alone was mind-blowing (hi-yo!)! And despite how graphic it may be, it never seems unnecessary. It just fits.

Really, I don't even want to go on with this. I'm barely making coherent points (shocking) and all I want you to do is see this film. I don't even know what genre this is. I don't know anything anymore. Except I will never lay hands on anyone that Ryan Gosling loves. Because he will kill me. A lot.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I can feel my thoughts...fragmenting.

Moon rocks are like lava rocks times a billion.
My crappy theater is awesome in one respect. They will let you use a free pass for a particular movie to see anything else. Today, I used an expiring pass to The Smurfs to catch Apollo 18. Now, I had caught wind that this 'found-footage' flick wasn't really anything special, but at 86 minutes, I figured I'd risk it. The premise was certainly intriguing enough.

A quick positive? These astronauts can hold a camera still. Yes, I was one of those a-holes who bought into the hype of The Blair Witch Project (I knew it was fake, but I didn't correct anybody if they told me it was real) and I caught that one in the theater, too - twelve years ago (goodness!). The lasting impression for me was the damn piss-poor quality of the camerawork. Oh, I mean authenticity - my bad. Anyway, this one is much easier on the eyes (and the stomach).

More importantly, the atmosphere is captured really well. The moon is creepy. It's cold and dark and there may or may not be homicidal Russians afoot. Even worse than a delirious Sergei and Vladimir, are the shape-shifting extraterrestrials that want to bore into your anus. Okay maybe not anus, but still. They want inside of you. Hey man, the moon is cold. Your ass? Pretty warm.

Deciding to follow footprints means you hate living.
So, is it scary? Not really. Though to be fair, there are two major jump-scares, each of which really got me. Other than those two however, it's almost too quiet up there. Though edited tightly, it starts to drag at times. And like many horror movies, once you fully see what we're dealing with, the wheels come off and you're just waiting for the credits.

Now, there's basically only two people in this movie and they both do a convincing job of dealing with all the lunacy (hi-yo!). What was not convincing, however, is that these two dudes were astronauts from the 70's. Nope. Didn't buy it. Dudes looked like they worked at Home Depot in the 90's.

All that said, I'm glad I saw it. I probably would have better enjoyed Drive or Contagion, but I wanted to get home to the fam. Matty started watching Star Wars today. He absolutely loves A New Hope and the whole galaxy of robots and aliens. See, those aliens are trying to help you, versus, you know, trying to enter you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Same play! Same hole!

Based on a true story. When it comes to my movie-going experiences, these five words have always bothered me. Today's film, The Express, tells the story of Ernie Davis, a running back for Syracuse University in the early 60's, and ultimately continues that doubt-filled trend. To be fair, even if half of what was shown in this film is true, this guy had an amazing life. Frickin' unbelievable, really.
No son of mine is gonna play any foos-ball.

Now, I've mentioned that I love sports. I definitely do. But between you and me, I hate college football. Maybe not completely (last weekend's Michigan/Notre Dame game was nuts), but enough that I basically don't know anything about it. Maybe I know where my favorite players went, but really-really, I don't care. Maybe growing up in Hawai'i has something to do with it, maybe going to a college that had no football team factors in as well - regardless. Football is played on Sunday. By professionals. And yes...Monday, too - you know-it-all bastard.

The point is that I knew nothing of this story. Nothing. And to say that there is some crazy stuff in here is a major understatement. Ernie Davis' story is incredible. His stats and ability (first African-American to win the Heisman) are amazing enough, but damn the ending floored me. Yes this movie is three years old (Hell, the story is over 50 years old), but I really don't want to spoil it (assuming you are  clueless, too).  I don't even know what to say.

And speaking of being speechless (huh?), was the 1960 Cotton Bowl really as nuts as it was portrayed? I'm pretty sure you could have stabbed someone in the eye in that game and it wouldn't have drawn a flag. The whole game played out like the opening scene of The Last Boy Scout. Minus Billy Blanks going on a shooting rampage. Oh, and it wasn't during an monsoon. Ridiculous!

Only steers and queers come from Texas. And, um, me
So, yes, I really liked this one. It's a sports movie. Which also means...cliche festival. But, it's interesting enough to rise above it. But if you're feeling saucy, look out for:
  • Lots of montages! Set to some oldies, no less.
  • Racist/jerkface opposing coach! Oh, that guy.
  • Funny fat dude? Indeed.
  • Dickhead linebacker...who comes around by the end? Check.
  • Rain Game! 
  • All the players sing a song together. Because, that's what teams do, bro.
Regardless of the tomfoolery I'm spewing, check this one out. It's very entertaining and E.D. is just a solid individual. If you've ever heard any of the stories of how Jackie Robinson carried himself in the face of overwhelming adversity, Davis seems to be quite similar. Truly inspiring. If legitimate heroes don't do it for you, well, you've got Cheddar Bob doing his thing. Yep.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Klaatu barada nikto.

Ah, 1951, I remember you well. You were the year that Bobby Thomson hit the shot heard 'round the world. You were the year the pill was invented (jackpot!). Oddly enough, you were also the year my father turned one. More importantly, you were the year that The Day the Earth Stood Still was released into theaters.  Gee Mister, has it really been 60 years? Holy Mackerel! (that's the last 50's style dialogue, promise)

Gort has awesome pants.
So, my wife is out of town for the next five days (stripper convention/extra-marital affair, according to my friends). It's just me and my two-year old son. While he naps, I'm trying to watch short, quiet movies. Literally, The Day the Earth Stood Still is only movie I currently own that's both. Brushing aside the also-included remake starring "Ted" Theodore Logan, I decided to give the old-school version a spin.

So many movies today get by on their special-effects alone. I like cool-looking fake-shit as much as the next guy (but if you ever, ever call special-effects 'graphics' - you deserve to have your balls ripped off in front of a green screen), but heading back sixty years will mean that any real enjoyment out of this one will have to come from the story.

Not surprisingly, this movie rules. Michael Rennie, who plays Klaatu, is awesome. He's this great mix of courteous, genius and mysterious. His relationship with the kid, Bobby (of course), is a bit on the creepy side, as is his robot sidekick, Gort. But somehow, he's still quite charming (even though he is threatening to destroy the planet). Maybe it's his space diamonds. Or, maybe it's his leading-man hair. Either way, I love him.

Some moments of awesomeness:
Storm Shadow + Michael Jackson = This outfit.
  • The 30 minutes the earth loses all power? Great! Times square at a standstill? Creepy. Lady trying (unsuccessfully) to make a milkshake?  Horrifying!
  • The immediate shooting of Klaatu upon arrival to Earth (he was offering a gift)
  • Gort's off screen ass-kicking!
  • You can see the strings!
THE ULTIMATE AWESOMENESS: The phrase Klaatu barada nikto was totally stolen in Army of Darkness. I never knew that. I'm now smarter than like, six other people.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

If your vagina is anything like my hand...there will be no problem.

I loved Pineapple Express. Frickin' loved it. Now, I've never met anyone who shares the adoration for that film like I do, but it doesn't matter. I laughed out loud. Repeatedly. So, when I saw the trailer for last night's film, Your Highness, I thought to myself; it will be mine. Oh yes. It will be mine.

By the time I die, I will have had two of those three hairstyles. Damn you, genetics. Damn you.
If only the Minotaur was on the poster.

I bought this on blu-ray along with Paul. I wanted to see both theatrically, but unless it's summertime, that's going to be a bit of a stretch. Anyway, I started with Your Highness because I figured I'd keep the Natalie Portman train rolling. I'm still kind of shocked that she appeared in this (on the heels of an Oscar, no less), but she is awesome as always. And super, super-hot. Goodness. So, you have that.

What you also have is a lot of Danny McBride. I think this guy is pretty funny, but his schtick is basically this: he's a dick, he's selfish, and he curses all the time. He begins the film as the world's biggest douche, but unsurprisingly, ends it being the Man. Predictable? Yes. But it was fun along the way.

One thing that surprised me though, were the action and adventure sequences. They were badass. The escape on horses, the Hand Monster-thing, and all the battles against Leezar and his Mothers (who basically shoot proton beams from Ghostbusters) were very well done (the budget was around $50 mil). You'd expect the action to be an afterthought, but it wasn't.

One last thing. What I found particularly hilarious, was the treatment of their servant, Courtney. There is so little regard for him throughout - it's great. The response he gets when he tells them it's his birthday almost made me choke. Oh, and when you can call someone a dickless traitor and it's true on all accounts, you've got yourself a winner! And if you don't laugh at Thadeous' necklace at least once, you have no soul. None.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

That was me seducing you. It needs to be the other way around.

One of the best ballet movies ever.
Remember that time your coach told you to go home and touch yourself? You were unsure, but you did it. With vigor. And then you realized your own mother was in the room, sleeping in a chair! That was so crazy! Wait. That wasn't you. That was Natalie Portman in last year's Black Swan. My bad.

Seriously, I don't know what to make of this one. I know it's critically acclaimed. I know that Natalie Portman won Best Actress. I know that director Darren Aronofsky is a frickin' genius. Got all that. I also know that I was slightly, just slightly, bored

Don't get me wrong, there is some creepy stuff here that certainly bothered my wife (though she's a total lightweight). Nina's descent into reaching the dark side of her self was an alluring mix of grotesque and sexual (couple of pretty hot moments in both regards). Groovy. But where it all lost me was the presentation. 70% of screen time is Natalie Portman's head. Either an extreme close-up of her always uncomfortable face, or the back of it as she walked hurriedly from room-to-room (almost video game-esque). I guess it's intimate and almost documentary-style, but for me, it grew tiresome. Oh, and never once did I buy Nina as an elite ballerina. She seemed to lack the confidence that someone at that level would likely exude. Whatever.

Damn it. I think I'm wrong about this film. I enjoyed the crazy shit a lot (the weirder stuff, not the mirror hijinks). The performances were outstanding as well. But for whatever reason, it just didn't resonate with me. Maybe I need to watch it again. At least all the scenes in her bedroom, as I'm not sure I understood those. Coach would want me to.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Charlie, here comes the deuce. And when you speak of me, speak well.

Susan Sarandon has been old my entire life.
I love baseball. I love movies. Shouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that I love baseball movies, too. I do, but I don't think I've seen enough good ones. Prior to tonight, I would say that my favorite baseball flick was Major League. I might cast a vote for The Sandlot as well, but that's it. I think.

Tonight's movie, 1988's Bull Durham was another classic that I've managed to not see in over twenty years. How is this possible, you (don't) ask? I refuse to watch movies on television. Refuse.

That nonsense aside, I enjoyed about 95% of this one. Crash Davis and Nuke LaLoosh don't trump Ricky Vaughn and Willie Mays Hayes, but they give it a good ride. Watching a flick like this for the first time, I saw clips and scenes that have been played in stadiums forever. Costner has most of them: his speech about 'the show,' his tipping of upcoming pitches, and even his improvised rain out. All awesome. My favorite scene however, was his ejection on the play at the plate. Never saw that one on the ol' Jumbotron. Probably because it's too long to show between pitches. Or, maybe, it's because of the liberal use of the term, um, c---sucker. One of those.

Standing room only in Durham.
The movie stalled at the times when things get serious. Luckily it's not for too long, but the drama drags it down nonetheless. I also never, ever bought Tim Robbins as someone who could throw in the upper 90's. I know that's nitpicking, but seriously, I think my 2 year-old son has a better delivery when he's whipping shit all over our house. Oh, and what to say of Susan Sarandon's character, Annie? Is she hot? Is she old? Is she a man? Is she a hot, old man? Too many questions, I know. But somehow, I feel like I want to answer yes to all of them.

By the way, I found a list of all the baseball movies ever made at Take a look and let me know what you think is the best one. And, no, There's Something About Mary doesn't count, no matter how awesome Warren is.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Do me a favor. Pull the trigger.

Do you recommend movies to your friends? I actually, try not to. At least in person, anyway. I always stress that I liked it. That's it. Here's a snippet of text between me and a friend from the other day.  Riveting.

Haspe: Have u ever seen 'Harry Brown.' Starring Michael Caine??
Haspe: This dude at the gym keeps telling me to watch it.
Me: No. It's a British gangster movie, right?
Haspe: I think so. The dude recommending it is this hilarious Cajun. Total character. But all he says is "dat movies rough man. Ain't nuthin nice about it. Rough."

I remember when I was a kid, we used to spend an hour in the video store trying to figure out what we wanted to watch (theatrically, we just saw everything). Recommendations might come from the clerk, or we'd just go with the coolest/lamest cover. Once, some doucher whole-heartedly recommended this. Goodness. Anyway, now, things are different. Now, you might hit up a trusted website (or a genius movie-blog). Or, you might get a text from 5,000 miles away, referencing what was more-than-likely a half-naked Cajun man. You know, that old story.
Pulling a knife on Harry? Bad move, brotha.
This guy's boss is record-setting creepy. Yeesh.
So was Foghorn Leghorn right about Harry Brown? Yes. This movie is rough. The opening scene is actually one of the more horrible things I've seen in quite some time. The home-video quality makes it much more chilling. Much.

The violence is shockingly effective. You have Michael Caine (who is just awesome, right? Like, Duvall-esque) as your star, so you think things like might be a little classy. Not so much. When people get it, it's fairly hardcore. Blood spurts. A lot. Unfortunately, it's of the CGI-variety, so in some scenes it looks great, while others it looks like The Expendables. Whatever. It gets the job done.

Did you see Taken? Very similar story here. One man, who is a former badass-mofo, wants to live the quiet life. Someone loved by that man gets mistreated. Man has to make wrongs right. With unflinching force. If you like that formula, you will like Harry. I did. The interrogation scene was so well done, I actually became bloodthirsty myself. But instead of killing someone, I just had some juice. And watched Harry methodically annihilate those British hoodlums. An added bonus is that you get to hear Michael Cain talk for an hour and forty minutes. That's so good, it's even great when somebody else does it. Or two people.