Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I don't like human beings.

Have you ever seen the show Shark Tank? This has somehow become my wife's favorite show. Anyway, the premise is simple: A quartet of rich people (the titular Sharks) are looking to invest thousands of dollars in the next big thing. Average schmoes desperately pitch them these ideas to entertainingly mixed results. Sometimes, they bite and invest willingly. Other times, they say the idea sucks and bail with the simple catchphrase, I'm out. Imagine with me...

Shark #1: Okay, our next guy is pitching a movie. Sir, are you ready?
Shark #2: This should be good.
Shark #1: Well, let's hear it. What's this movie about? Another comic book flick? Rom-com? What is it?
Guy: A creepy German doctor fulfills his life-long dream of surgically connecting three people.
Shark #2: I'm sorry, what did you just say? Surgically connecting?
Shark #1: I'm out.
Shark #3: Me too.
Shark #2: What a terrible idea. Just awful. I'm out.
Guy: Wait. Did I mention he connects them, ass-to-mouth?
Shark #4:  Let me get my checkbook.

You know, I thought that opening would have been better. The idea was novel, you know, combining the Shark Tank concept with a movie pitch as a way to open a new post. But, let's be honest, it was poorly written, sloppily executed and really not as interesting as it could have been. I mean, just because I had the idea, didn't mean I should have followed through with it. What was I thinking? And shame on you for even reading it.

Anyway, on Monday night, I managed to watch The Human Centipede. I was trying to end my month-long horror binge with something notorious in the genre, and this one certainly qualified (I almost opted for the original I Spit on Your Grave). It seemed fitting as Halloween approached, to aim high. Or low. Depending on your tastes.

Speaking of, my tastes have apparently changed as I've gotten older. Instead of being grossed out while having a good time, I just kept shaking my head and asking myself why? There was a little bit of why was this made? but much more of why am I watching this? It reminded me of this ultra awkward wet T-shirt contest that somehow broke out at a party I was at in college. While the idea sounded good on paper, it ended up being awkward and embarrassing. But, I suppose, each was memorable, even if for the wrong reasons. I guess that's something...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Honor thy consumer.

I'm a teacher. At an under performing school. We meet about test scores all the time. Then, we meet again. And again. Slowly but surely, we've stopped beating around the bush and openly admit we are teaching to the test. And while sitting in a meeting Friday afternoon, I thought to myself why do we bother teaching history? Now, I realize that this is one of the dumbest questions to ask, but when the test concerns itself with only reading and math (and eventually science), at some point I wonder when they'll eliminate history class altogether. We could use that time to teach more reading. And math. And eventually science.

Hours later I found myself at Cloud Atlas, marveling at its greatness. And while my earlier question about the validity of learning about the past was more of a joke about the present, this film proves over and over again the importance and relevance of history. The tagline, Everything Is Connected, doesn't even begin to describe the intricately overlapping nature of The Wachowski's latest. If you consider yourself a fan of film, I think you owe it to yourself to experience this movie.

As briefly as I can summarize it, Cloud Atlas tells six stories simultaneously. Each take place during a different time period, yet all share an infinite number of themes and experiences. Love, grace, honor and bravery exist in each story, as do fear, greed, prejudice and cowardice. Additionally, the motivations and desires of certain characters can be traced back to those who came before them. It may sound convoluted and heavy-handed, but in the hands of capable directors and actors, it is a fascinating watch. Our post-movie conversation was as spirited as any recap I've ever been apart of. Flem was damn near shouting. Trust me, that's a good thing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

However, please know, it is with sincere regret that I must now kill all of you.

I remember this time in seventh grade when I had a bunch of friends over my house. Throughout the night I was eating Cheetos by the handful. The first two or three were delicious. The next couple, not so much. After the eighth one, things weren't looking so good. As everyone else slept, I stumbled out of my bedroom, careful to avoid strung out kids sprawled on the floor, and headed toward the bathroom. Even though it was mere steps away, I didn't make it. I threw up this incredible amount of bright orange sludge. Clueless, panicked and half-awake, I returned to my room and pretended the whole thing never happened.

Dark Shadows marks the eighth time that Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have worked together. And while this professional relationship peaked early with the unforgettable Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Ed Wood (1994), things have been inconsistent since. That's probably putting it kindly. In fact, the last two, for me, have been borderline disasters. Maybe not to the level of hours-old orange retch, but still. These guys are too talented to misfire at this point in their respective careers.

Dark Shadows is the film adaptation of some old soap that means nothing to me. Here, we are privy to the tale of Barnabas Collins who has awoken in the 1970's after being cursed with eternal life hundreds of years prior. Barnabas (Depp) has always had his way with the ladies, and things are no different when he awakes. More pressing however, is his sullied family name and business. And speaking of family, turns out they're all a little...wait for it...quirky. I know, I know. Shocking.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

It means there's a twelve-foot great white shark in here.

There are few moments that all of us will remember forever. These instances where time stood still and society, hell, humanity united in awe of a completely transcendent event. Close your eyes. Think back to 2006. Where were you, when you first heard Samuel L. Jackson utter, Enough is enough! I've had it with these motherf--king snakes on this motherf--king plane. 

Maybe I'm half joking, but I fully believe Snakes on a Plane was a watershed moment in contemporary cinema. For a minute, absurdly titled, low-concept movies were cool. Really cool. Mainstream, even. Now, the DTV market had been churning out messes like that for years, but now there was a dash of legitimacy to them. In my mind, this is the moment that every ridiculous idea was just so stupid, it might work.

I think the 's' in theaters is a little presumptuous.
Despite the latest flick I've seen ending up with the incredibly lame title of Bait, more fitting would have been Sharks in a Grocery Store. Well, fine, that title is f--king lame, too, but at least it would get your attention. After catching this one (hi-yo!), I can see why they went for a more serious title. Because that was their angle, for the most part: serious.

Now, that doesn't mean the movie is completely terrible, but it does mean there are going to be entirely too many minutes where people are talking/I'm not giving a shit rather than where sharks are eating faces/I'm fully engrossed. Keep that in mind, when you never, ever watch this, okay?

Let's revisit stupid ideas for a second (and yes, actually renting this is on the list). After a freak tsunami devastates a coastal city, a group of people are trapped in a flooded grocery store. With two massive sharks. Yes, the sharks got inside, but there's no way out. Oh, and minutes prior to this, we had a failed robbery in said grocery store. Because, you know, why rob a bank, when your town has a f--king grocery store. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

There is no life in this body.

I remember this time in the 90's, when I was traveling through Europe on business. I was using a dodgy British accent, trying to blend in, but even I'll admit it fooled no one. One particular rainy night, when I was almost asleep, three women silently entered my room. I was startled, but it seemed as if they appeared out of nowhere. Let's just say, that's when shit got real. And just as things were really heating up, the old man of the house barged in the room and ruined everything.

Oh, wait. That wasn't me. That was f--king Keanu Reeves.

My wife was fairly alert on Friday night when we sat down to watch something. I told her that I wanted to watch a horror flick to keep the theme going, she wanted to watch anything but. I thought by putting on Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula, I was somehow meeting her in the middle. Turns out, not so much.

Dracula is arguably the most well-known film adaptation of author Bram Stoker's 18th-century novel. Vampires had been around for a few decades when Dracula was published, but this novel was the genesis of the Dracula character as we know him today. I'm not the biggest fan of Drac (or vampires in general), but I certainly respect the creation of such a legendary character.

What I didn't appreciate, however, was this film. Released in 1992, Dracula seemed years older than that and felt incredibly dated (and that's odd, considering it's a period movie...tee hee). It was beautiful at times, and featured an epic performance from the frighteningly intense Gary Oldman, but by the end I was hoping someone would drive a stake through my heart. Or at least, that a giant wolf creature would have its way with me. One of those.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The wind must have blown it open.

Lewis Black has a great bit about anticipation being the best part of life. His point, is that the moment just prior to whatever you've been waiting for is actually the pinnacle of the entire experience. The rest is just a letdown. This is an absolute truth when it comes to watching horror movies. Seeing whatever it is that is tormenting everyone, can't match the level of intensity in the seconds prior to the big reveal. The best thing about not knowing for sure, is there still the possibility that this could really happen. Things are still realistic.

The Cabin in the Woods fails on the realistic angle almost immediately, which removes damn near all the scares, unfortunately. But, it succeeds on just about every other level. While I enjoyed the characters, the acting, the violence and all the little things, what has stayed with me days later is the concept. Just when I feel that every self-referential and/or ironic angle has been played out, somebody comes along and rejuvenates the genre. Writer Joss Whedon and director Drew Goddard are two such somebodies.

For anyone who hasn't seen the flick yet, you might as well bail here. Oh, and people who like well-written and thoughtful posts, you kids should probably head out, too. I'll hold the door for you.

Sadly, I knew about the observation/lab angle going in. I tried to avoid any prior knowledge, but I inadvertently caught half a preview somewhere. But even knowing that much, still didn't prepare me for the awesomeness. And I'm not really talking about the ultimate ending (honestly, that kind of lost me, despite being cool visually), I'm really focusing on the contents of the program. Rooms and rooms of the worst things imaginable is so f--king badass it makes me want to squeal. Imagine if they could had licensed some of the horror legends, thereby making every horror flick ever true? I would have shit pure delight for at least a week. Maybe two.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Holy rabies!

No, Dad. I don't want to see that one. It scares me.

This poster is all the plot summary you're getting out of me.
That's what my son kept telling me, every time I mentioned the idea of going to the movies this past Saturday night. As I assume I will do throughout his entire life, I reassured him that it's going to be okay. And while for a minute or two, I felt like the world's worst father, in the end that's exactly what Hotel Transylvania was. Okay.

Actually, it might have been better than that - or worse. I'm not really sure. What I do know is that my three year old son loved it and that's all I was hoping for. The fact that me and the wife chuckled a few times? Pure bonus.

Adam Sandler rounds up his usual stable of friends for yet another trip into that semi-awkward family territory he has has grown so comfortable in. Yes, there's a message about the importance of family and acceptance, and yes it's entirely too sentimental. But, at the same time, it entertains with enough laughs (both cheap and clever) to ultimately get a passing grade. Goodness, you had me at Steve Buscemi.

Because if I weren't a clown, I'd be a murderer.

You know that old story, where the shy, not-so-attractive guy, falls in love with the incredibly hot woman? And this chick, who of course, has a psychotic (though undeniably handsome) boyfriend, strings him along regardless. You ever see that one? Of course you have. Friday's flick told that familiar story yet again, but that lovable loser? He's slightly different. Instead of being a timid, bookish introvert with glasses, he's a murderous, dual machine-gun wielding clown, sworn to a life of revenge. With glasses.

I'm not even sure where to begin with 2010's The Last Circus. While a fairly straightforward tale of unrequited love for the most part, this flick bounces all over the place as well. Part black-comedy, part action/horror mash-up, and maybe even part historical allegory (sorry, but my knowledge of Spain's bloody history is nonexistent, at best), director Alex de la Iglesia has crafted a visually stunning epic with all the subtlety and grace of a punch to the dick.

And while the aforementioned crotch-shot never happens, many surprisingly gruesome things do. Opening in Madrid in 1937, but chiefly set in the early seventies, The Last Circus follows numerous unsavory characters in a downtrodden traveling circus. The main character is Javier, an overweight punching bag, who joins the circus as the unenviable sad clown, due to a personal life filled with misery. Things perk up, literally, when he meets Natalia, the alluring (and curvy) female star of the show. But, not too shockingly, she is already taken, and her man is the raging alcoholic/super-douche of the group, Sergio. Javier should glance at her rack and run in the opposite direction but instead decides it would be better to stick around and fall in love. Bad move, that.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Stop punishing yourself, Sarah.

Being the hugely influential trendsetter I am, I've decided to try to watch more horror movies this October, to gear up for Halloween. I know, I know - revolutionary idea, right? Wait, what's that? Everybody does that? Well, damn.

Okay, how's this? Instead of just watching any horror movie, I'm going to dig deep and watch a shitty one. I bet that's never been done before.

This is the same face I made when the movie ended.
Maybe shitty is too strong, but overall, I was pretty disappointed with Silent House. I'm not sure what I expected, but as someone who rarely watches horror movies (my wife can't stand being scared), I was hopeful this little flick could give me a few decent jump scares. And while the setup was intriguing/creepy enough (though inherently ridiculous), eventually, it all became tedious and frustrating.

The plot is simple, if not just a little bit silly. A girl and her dad are fixing up their old house in an attempt to sell it. To lend a hand, is the moderately-creepy uncle. All of this? Reasonable enough. Creepy house, small But, the power is out. And, due to pesky kids, every window is boarded up. Hmm. I guess that explains why it's pitch black in the house, despite the fact that it's f--king daytime. Whatever, I'm still on board. Oh, what's that? Your cell phones don't work up here? Well, then. F--k this.

And while my rational mind had problems with this one, other parts of my body had a good time. The reason? A very convincing (and oddly attractive?) Elizabeth Olsen. She doesn't have much to do, but I enjoyed watching her do it. [Even I see this has taken an unsettling turn] All I'm saying is that I enjoyed her performance. And her shirt (i.e the real Olsen twins).