Monday, January 30, 2012

Is the divorce final?

Pretty much looks like my wedding night.
Question: Which Hollywood Action Heroine could seriously kick my ass? All of them, sure, but for arguments sake, let's look at the usual suspects, shall we?

Angelina Jolie? Maybe. So thin and mother of like, nine? She seems kinda crazy, though. She'd bite if she had to.  Push.
How about Linda Hamilton? The Terminator version probably could , cause I'd destroy Dante's Peak Hamilton. No doubt. Oh, she resembles my wife too, so there'd be inspiration.  
Kate Beckinsale? If she's in the leather suit - yes, too distracting. Civilian clothes, oh, I got her.  
Mila Jovovich. Bitch, please. I'd just hand her my multi-pass.
And finally, how about Uma Thurman? Well, she's tall. And she might be packin' a Hanzo sword, so my money's likely on her.

Without a doubt, the star of Haywire, Gina Carano, could take me. Shit, she could probably take me and every woman I've just mentioned at the same time. Sounds like a sexy way to go, if you ask me. Very sexy. Let's put that together.

No thank you. I take it black. Like my men.
So, before I lose you to the wonders of the web, let me tell you that this movie is very, very cool. It's directed by Steven Soderbergh, and features all his trademarks. Still camera? Check? Badass grooves? Double check, here. Long, uninterrupted shots that create that documentary style? Yep, even in an action movie. Oh, and my favorite Soderbergh trick of them all: ridiculously awesome cast who show up for even the smallest of roles. I recently caught The Girlfriend Experience [review], and surprisingly, both flicks have a lot in common. Chiefly, an alluring female lead.

Now I know how I want to die.
Gina Carano is captivating. She is insanely sexy, both when she's dressed for an evening among adults or when she's slamming a gate on a kidnapper's chest. Seriously, you can't take your eyes off of her. And luckily, in this movie, you won't be given a chance to often. You can probably count the scenes she's not in on one hand. And if she's not onscreen she's probably just buying time before she drops in and roundhouses someone in the face. Fantastic. I thought to myself more than once while watching this: All the special effects in the world can't replace an actual beautiful woman. Especially one that kicks in faces.

Now we got ourselves a real twizzler, here.
I had some Yays and Boos ready to go, but I really need to get some sleep. I hope that this movie isn't the last we see of Carano, I mean in good movies. I'm sure she could turn out DTV stuff like Steve Austin or Dolph Lundgren in her sleep. Hopefully, she'll turn into a female Jason Statham, who's as prolific as anybody in Hollywood (seriously, does that guy not do movies?) They are both physical forces, but Statham is a pretty charming and charismatic, too. Carano exudes similar qualities, but her acting ability wasn't exactly stretched (just like Grey in The Girlfriend Experience). That said, I'll be first in line to whatever she does next. Hopefully a sequel. One that actually tries (damn you, Hangover!).

Even though I loved it, let me award bonus points for the following examples of ass-kickery:
  • Oh my God. There's a deer in the car.
  • Extraction scene slo-mo. So cool.
  • No music in any fight scene? Brilliant.
  • Best last line ever.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

In my bottom?

Here was my plan. I was going to take an old post, maybe even one that was pretty funny, and just tweak a few things here and there. I'd keep damn near every joke in place, and I'd even refer back to others repeatedly. It was going to be so easy. I was basically going to just phone the whole thing in. Oh, you might find it momentarily amusing, but in the end you'd have been pissed that I didn't even really try. I mean how hard is to change things up? Well...

The Hangover Part II surprised me. Being as late to the party as I am, of course I had heard all the bad things about this flick. I just never thought that it would be worse than I expected. While I found the original to be hilarious when I first saw it, this one just hurts.

I want to talk about the first movie for a minute. Walking out of the theater that night (6/12/09 with my pregnant wife and my brother Nikos) I'm sure I thought that I had just seen one of the funniest movies ever. Ending with the newly-found photographs was a fresh way to send the audience laughing their asses off.

But then, I watched the movie again. It wasn't that funny. Legitimate comedic classics, like Airplane! for example, are always funny. You could be in a rotten mood and somehow that movie will make you smile, if not crack up entirely (well, at least me anyway). The Hangover just didn't have legs. And now, it's essentially been remade. The results aren't pretty. It reminds me of the line in A Bronx Tale: The saddest thing in life is wasted talent. So let's get drunk and try to figure out how we ended up with the Yays and Boos, Bangkok-style.

Okay, fine. The boner joke here was pretty funny.
  • Though I didn't really laugh much, the scene in the back of the strip club was pretty hysterical. Classic Stu.
  • More Ed Helms is a good thing, even though he's permanently stuck in screech mode.
  • Less Ken Jeong is a great thing. I've grown tired of his one-note schtick.
  • He was bound to show up, but Iron Mike is always welcome. Well, Iron Mike + Murray Head (Thanks to Phong) anyway.
Maybe in the third one Doug will get to do something.
  • It takes forever to get going. For. Ever.
  • Zach Galifianakis, in the first one, was a person. A very odd person. Here, he's a cartoon character.
  • Never thought I'd say that a monkey would actually make things worse. Bring back the baby, please.
  • Stu's in-laws. First, Wifey is way too hot and young. Second, Dad is like the Thai equivalent of Mark Wahlberg in The Departed. Oh, but drive a boat through a lavish wedding...and he's yours.
  • What the Hell was with the flashback starring kids? Was that supposed to make it funnier? It didn't.
Well, I'm done. I think that I put more effort into this post than anyone did into the creation of this movie. I'm looking at you, Bradley Cooper. You're better than this.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

First Lady, I'm sorry I pimp-slapped you into that china cabinet.

Well, it turns out that I'm not black. I know, I know, you're shocked. I only mention race because last night's badass flick, Black Dynamite, got me thinking about whatever it is people are referring to when they say black cinema. I guess it means the films are aimed at the interests of African Americans, but in my opinion, only those who like (more often than not) bad movies. Granted, there have been many "black" films that I have really enjoyed over the years, and Black Dynamite was certainly one of them. Does anyone say white cinema?
This poster is better than at least 20% of the movies I watch.

Black Dynamite is an excellent parody. I remember my older brothers watching blaxpoitation and kung-fu flicks when I was a kid. I really can only recall a few things about both genres (in my mind, they completely overlapped): funky beats, ridiculous costumes, fighting, shooting and the occasional titty. Black Dynamite satirizes all of that in the most loving way possible. For the first fifteen minutes or so, I thought to myself, this is the best movie I have ever seen. Not funny, or funniest, simply the best. Period. It was so spot on and awesome, I could barely handle it. I wanted to kick down a door and just start punching and/or doing bitches.

Tiny. Get Pimpin Jake out of my trunk.
Michael Jai White, who for me, was only in Spawn, absolutely owns as our main man Black Dynamite. He is not only an incredible physical presence (dude is jacked), but he delivers each ridiculous line with the most deadpan sincerity I've seen in a long time. It makes me smile just thinking about it.

"Donuts don't wear alligator shoes."

"Ha-ha! I threw that shit before I walked in the room!"

Look. I could quote this one for the rest of the post (and potentially, the rest of my life), but I simply can't do it justice.  Maybe I should just head to the Yays and Boos, Bad mamma-jamma style.

Excuse me... is that 'sex panther' you're wearing?
  • Anaconda Malt Liquor! Might taste good going down...but, damn.
  • What's funnier than an old lady getting kicked across a room? Wait. I know this one. Nothing.
  • The boom mic. Brilliant.
  • Overly explained flashbacks!
  • Nunchuks. Simply not in enough movies.
  • The mere mention of half a titty killed me.
  • It's not the first time it's been done, but when the lyrics to the background music exactly explain what's currently on the screen you have to love it. Have to.
  • Roscoe's Chili and Donuts. 
  • Everyone delivers their lines like they're reading them off cue cards. It's frickin' great.
  • The scene in the pool hall where the thugs talk all kinds of shit to Black Dynamite as he's walking away is hilarious. Turns out he was just flipping the open sign around.
  • The secondary cast of characters are all pretty legit guys. Even better are their character's names. Cream Corn, Sweet Meat, Kotex, Fiendish Dr. Wu, Chicago Wind and even Mo Bitches. If I were still in high school I would have had Chocolate Giddy-Up screened onto my basketball jersey.
  • And even though there's a ton more, I'll leave with you with the scene when they figure out the evil plan. Genius.
Totally leased that helicopter from the Catalina Wine Mixer.
  • Even though it's short, I think it might have, just barely, overstayed its welcome. By like a minute or two.
  • Not enough ass-kicking. I could watch BD jump kick fools for the rest of my life.
  • No enough booty. BD is way too smooth to only hit the hay a handful of times.

Bottom Line: Even if you're overly white, I think you'll dig, the Black Dynamite.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

When the American planes come...the creatures...very mad.

Imagine you're trying to decide on a movie to watch and you come across a movie called Explosions. On the back of the box it says, "The best explosion movie ever made!" You're thinking, well, shit, I like explosions. I like them's alots. So you rent it, hurry home, and within the first minute of watching it, there it is! An awesome explosion. Knocks you on your ass. But then, something happens. It's a full hour till you see another one. And there's only a handful more by the time the flick ends. Are you pissed? Well, that's the predicament I found myself in watching 2010's Monsters, written and directed by Gareth Edwards.

Worst question ever: Do you find giant squids frightening?
With the right expectations, this movie will impress you. After finishing it, I foolishly checked around online for the overall consensus. For every, "breathtakingly original" there was a "the most boring movie ever made." I wouldn't say that I'm firmly ensconced in either of those camps, but I did like it. A lot. It's quiet. Pops Racer likes quiet.

If you care to, read some stories about the production of this movie. Regardless of how you feel about the final product, the production tales are impressive. For example, the crew consisted of two people and all the dialogue and (to some extent) the locations were improvised. Wow.

Also worthy of praise, are the two leads. I didn't recognize either, but they were stellar. The guy starts out kind of douchey, but ends up very solid. The girl, who I found intermittently stunning, was also incredibly affecting as well. The onscreen chemistry was palpable. I think I read that they became a couple off-screen after filming. If that's true, you can clearly see it coming during all the quiet moments of Monsters. Let's just say there's quite a few of those.... So, what's Spanish, for Yays and Boos. Nikos?

Cameron Diaz + Girl I loved in High School = Whitney Able
  • Some of the visuals are breathtaking. I thought, at times, this is the most gorgeous blu I've seen.
  • Spielberg homages, perhaps? I'm going with nods to Jurassic Park and Schindler's List
  • The vigil scene. Hypnotic.
  • Great intro. Military cameras were clutch. We all need a theme song.
  • Lake scene! I was confused at first, but it was very well done. Initially, I was thinking oh, shit - robot sharks!
Okay, so it's just like District 9. Except there's no guns. Or action.
  • With the budget, this actually deserves to be up in the with the Yays. But without those considerations, it's kind of a Boo.
  • Ruthless Mexican Ferry Operator. You should be ashamed, cabrón.
  • Homeless Person! You're not an actor, are you? I'm sorry and I'm scared.
Final Question: So, movie fans...who are the titular Monsters? I have three guesses. Let's hear yours.

I'm sure Ringling has its own vet.

My wife and I watched Water for Elephants today. One shot. Start-to-finish. That may not seem like much to you, but as parents of a two and a half year old, this is nothing short of miraculous. Also adding to the implausibility of everything - she didn't fall asleep. Sure it was from three to five in the afternoon, but still.

We used to be people that would go to the movies on a whim. Maybe twice a week. Once, I remember we saw The Devil Wears Prada on a Thursday night. We were leaving the theater when this shady guy comes up to us and offers us free tickets to a special showing of Crank. We looked at each other, shrugged, and decided to go in for a super-awkward double feature. That ship has sailed, friends. Something like that happening now involves numerous phone calls, heaps of guilt and maybe an adrenaline shot to the heart (to keep the wife awake). Oddly enough, our son was born three years later to the day (don't worry about how I know that, but it's true).

Hmm. This seems suggestive.
Ridiculously pointless anecdotes aside, I have to say it again: the book was better. Please don't think I'm any kind of serious reader, but I did happen to read this one about a year ago. I honestly had no idea that it was being turned into a film when I began the book, I simply bought it because it was dirt cheap on Amazon and I had just got my Kindle (best present ever). So, yes, two of the last three movies I've caught have been books I recently read (if Legion was ever a novel, it'd probably look like a Super Nintendo instruction manual). I mention this, only because knowledge of the story skews the review. It has to.

They shoot horses, don't they?
I don't want to bother with the differences or anything like that - no time. I'll start by saying Pattinson does well as Jacob (I had a Edward/Jacob line, but we're way too classy for that here). Sure, he sort of only has one mode here, the aw, shucks this is real great boyish charm thing, but it didn't bother me. The guy's charming. Reese Witherspoon, didn't quite work for me as the star of the spec, Marlena. Physically, she handled the role well (swear she did some of the stunt work), but I couldn't get beyond her looks, specifically her um, face. I don't know, she looks old and...well, pointy. I asked my wife what she thought and she went with "beautiful," while I'm leaning toward odd. I thought she was pretty hot in Cruel Intentions and the first Legally Blonde, but now...not so much. The only reason I mention this is that lusting after her has some serious ramifications (a very Basterds-esque Christoph Waltz) and if you're going to risk everything, well...yeah.

Bingo! How fun! But, I digress. Where were we?
What does work 100% is the cinematography. This movie is truly a loving portrait of depression-era circus life. Granted, there's not a lot of competition, but I found it quite alluring. Other highlights include Rosie the elephant, an incredibly charming elephant who damn near steals the movie from its trunkless counterparts. Also, I want to mention the kickass-ness of the film's climax. Obviously, some of it was CG, but all of it was awesome.

BOTTOM LINE:  This movie is not required reading, but I thought it was enjoyable. Oh, if you've got a lady-friend nearby, she'd probably like this more than Legion. And Crank, too (let us never ever speak of Crank 2). Not sure about The Devil Wears Prada. That shit's got Streep in it. You don't mess with Streep.

Friday, January 20, 2012

I'm being punished for something. I know it.

I probably need to start drinking. Maybe even fire up some hard drugs. Other than verbally destroying it with friends, these are quite possibly the only two ways in existence to enjoy tonight's suckfest, 2009's Legion. I wasn't expecting much - trust me, but I was expecting, at the very least, effort. Maybe the special effects guys broke a sweat, or even the always-passionate Charles S. Dutton. But the writers? The director? Those bastards were hanging out, playing Nintendo during this one.

A knife or a sub-machine gun. What would Jesus use?
Mentioning video games makes sense because that's probably what this script should've become. Granted, it'd probably ended up as a rather shitty game, but at least the plot holes and atrocious dialogue would've been easier to swallow. Take this exchange:

Slutty Girl
What the Hell is that?

It's clouds, what do you think they are?

Damn, I hated this movie. But to be fair, I think it deserves a breakdown.
Let's crank out the Yays and Boos, Angry God style.

They say the number one killer of old people is retirement.
  • Shoot the bitch! The scene pictured to the left is pretty awesome. Oh, it's completely ridiculous, but it features a badass old lady. She's dropping the C-word, eating fly-covered raw steaks, and chompin' necks with her nutso baby-teeth. Oh, and she's like the scurrying champion of F**ktown, USA.
  • This one guy gets hit by a car and it's pretty sweet. Actually caught me off guard, too.
And now, the meat...
This picture says all you need to know about this one.
  • The premise! God is so angry at us he possesses some people to kill others who are protecting an unwanted baby? Um, couldn't you just possess the mother and have her kill herself? But then we wouldn't have time for...
  • Ice Cream/Alaskan King Crab Man! This guy rolls up in an ice cream truck, transforms (no one else did that) and then gets shot instantly. Good thing you grew an extra two feet though, before getting riddled with bullets, asshole.
  • Speaking of bullets, there's a seen where Paul Bettany grabs this gigantic machine gun and heads outside to fight the baddies. He shoots it four times, throws it to the ground, busts into a John Woo-spin, then opts for two pistols. Made me furious. It's like Jason Voorhees putting down a chainsaw, unnecessarily somersaulting, and whipping out a butterfly knife. Scratch that. My example rules.
  • Holy shit, I almost forgot the scene where the father is crucified outside. He's covered in boils and screaming incessantly. What happens in the next two minutes will either make you want to laugh hysterically or take a crap in your hand and carefully feed it into your blu ray player so that you and the machine are even-steven.
  • Amish Boy from 1987 (the official credit isn't much better: Minivan Boy) - Maybe the height of absurdity is this little bastard's role in the chaos. Tyrese saves your white ass and this is how you repay a brother? Your mom's going to be pissed that her sweatshirt has 19 bullet holes in it. Oh wait, she was probably possessed and sent to walk slowly into gunfire. Never mind.
  • How many times are you going to rip off The Terminator? My count was three. 
  • Though, I've got at least a dozen more, I'll end with the baby. Baby, your mom hates you. She smokes like a chimney. And, she didn't even need to recover after delivering you. I've taken dumps that laid me up longer than her post-birthing down time. Oh, and guess what? You were dropped. Yeah, it's true. But to be fair, it was in slow-motion - so there was plenty of time to make a diving catch. But...about an hour later you were in a car accident traveling at speeds over a hundred miles an hour. Guess what? Somehow, you're okay. You came out of the whole thing completely unharmed.
Wish I could say the same...
(the only reason I watched this tonight is that my copy of Black Dynamite from Blockbuster was broken in half. What the shit is that?)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lie still. I’ve never done this before. And there will be blood.

When I first saw the incredible trailer for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo I felt powerless against it. It will be mine. Oh yes. It will be mine. David Fincher, Daniel Craig and Trent Reznor? Any of these three would've been enough to get me to the theater. Combined? Hopefully, I could manage to keep my pants on when I got there. Hopefully.

This pose? Totally stolen from the Brown-Vangel wedding announcement.
But then something happened. I decided that I had to read the book first. Now, why bother with the book at all (if there's going to be a film version)? Why not read one of the thousands of great books that will never be brought to the big screen? I used to stand by that reasoning (and maybe still do), but I was compelled. So, with twelve days before it hit theaters, I began tearing through the novel. Using the awesome public library service on my Kindle, I was good to go. Mission accomplished. Small things aside, I really enjoyed it. Bring it, Fincher. Let's see what kind of madness you can add to this sordid tale.

But, I had another idea. I have to see the original Swedish version first. I must. That plan failed. Good thing, too. I mean, one story, three versions, in one month's time? That might've driven me to murder someone and an adjacent animal. Like a parakeet, perhaps?

So after many near-misses at the local theater (see below), the ride finally came to an end last night. The verdict? Well, like the power going out during the climax of the movie (sad, but true), it might surprise and disappoint you.

Delicious meatballs, yes. Cell phone coverage, no.
First, as the old saying goes, Hype's a bitch. What's that? No one says that? Oh. Regardless, my own expectations are definitely/partially responsible for this one not kicking my ass. Second, as the old saying actually goes, The book is always better. It's cliché, but it's true, too. I know, you can't say that without sounding like a smarmy douche, but what am I gonna do? Oh, don't you roll your eyes at me.

I did not hate this movie. I liked it very much. I honestly think if I'd never read the book, it would have floored me. But take away any element of surprise (and some key omissions) and you're left with nothing but some Yays and Boos. And to that, I say skål.

If this guy wins an Oscar, they should shove it up his ass.

  • The introduction. Arguably the best title sequence ever. I was so amped, I wanted to punch everyone in the theater in the face out of happiness.
  • Flashback sequence + Highlighting the police reports was simple, but effective.
  • The cast is great. I really liked Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger. Yeah, I went Plummer.
  • The camera loves crotches and asses. That's weird. So do I. 
  • Any scene that provokes or displays revenge is as graphic as it is awesome. Off the charts cringe-inducing.
  • Nudity. I'm talking about the happy kind. Not the rape-y kind.
  • Not sure if it was in the book, but I loved the idea of being polite vs. being killed. The fear of offending is stronger than the fear of pain. That's pure genius.
Tattoos and ass pain? She gets as good as she gives.
  • We now have a tie with American Beauty for worst shower scene ever.
  • The professor from Good Will Hunting, Stellan Skarsgård. You just can't trust this prick. (it's too obvious) 
  • Cat killing. Even though I'm a dog person, never really been a fan.
  • Is it weird if I like Daniel Craig, like, more than a friend?
  • When I inevitably end up in a torture den, I hope they fire up the Enya. Sail away, sail away, sail away.
  • And finally, the numerous, inexcusable differences that my twelve-year-old-girl-at a-Harry-Potter-movie-mindset couldn't let go of...
The worst offenders in no particular order: 1) Cecilia Vanger. In the book, she was sexy and they got it on frequently. In the film, she's kind of, um, ugly and consequently no booty-time. 2) The ending? C'mon now, I wanted a bloomin' onion. 3) Lisbeth! She is frickin' unrelentingly weird and introverted in the book. I mean, you can't make sense of her at times. In the film, she's basically an action hero. Kicking ass, doing bitches and dropping one liners. Yippi-ki-yay, Ms. Salander.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I just missed your heart.

Not long ago my dad helped me paint the kitchen in my house. We each started on opposite sides and within a couple of minutes he was standing there, arms folded, waiting for me to finish my half. Painting a ceiling doesn't require all that much skill, but I could feel his eyes boring a hole into my skull. My confidence was waning, and mercifully he took over and finished. He then proceeded to lecture me on the fundamentals of painting: the way to hold the brush, how much paint to apply and he even went after my edging technique. The only reason I mention this is because it really helped me relate to last night's protagonist, Hanna. Her dad is just like mine, except replace kitchen with people and paint with murder.

Okay, hold on - murder? Well, assassinate would probably be a better term, but in Hanna the line is routinely blurred. This young girl kills many highly-trained grown men, mostly because they'd probably kill her first, but also because that's what she was born to do.

I had heard many things about this flick and word on the street was that it was genre-defying and unlike anything-you've-ever-seen! That hype, courtesy of some online critics (and the Blockbuster lady), actually worked against the movie. Had I expected nothing, I bet I would have loved it, but being that I was really looking forward it to it, I think it falls into the decent category instead of the mind-blowing boner jam I was anticipating. Let's just get to the Yays and Boos, huh?

Unabomber Hoodie + albino tendencies = Killing Machine
  • Let's send in a dummy version of Hanna's mark. I'm sure that'll end well. Snap.
  • Chemical Brothers provide the Tron: Legacy-esque beats. Brilliant.
  • Girls kissing? Even if it's innocent and pure, is it still awesome? I'm leaning toward Hell, yes.
  • Usually old people get spared bullets to the head. Notice the usage of the word usually.
  • Okay, let's get serious. The scene where Eric Bana gets off the bus and proceeds to kick ass in an underground parking garage is one of the most inspirationally badass that I've seen in a long time. I immediately watched it three times in a row. They might've hidden an edit or two, but I didn't see it. This scene alone is worth watching the entire movie for. Short on time? It starts at 1:04:28.
I 'd have to live to be a million to ultimately decide if Cate Blanchett is hot.
  • Contaminated blood? I guess Anakin's not the only one with a high midi-chlorian count.
  • ...which allows her to grab the undercarriage of a speeding Hummer and not get torn in two. Okay.
  • Trolling the abortion clinics? Classy.
  • German Assassin Guy who loves hermaphrodites? Dude, you're frightening and all, but you also look like 3/4 of everyone I've ever seen working at IKEA. Nice shorts, bro.
  • Lastly, how did Sophie not get punched in the face? I'm going to pretend that she did, though watching that one guy get carved like a pumpkin may have lasting effects on her English-sluttiness.
And with that, I'm gone. It's 17-14 at halftime in a game I don't care about. I'm not sure the 49ers can hang on to this lead with out a killer quarterback. Someone like Joe MontHanna. Hi-yooooo! Give it up for...synergy!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Let me tell you, all women, ulimately are evil.

I've been together with my wife for over eleven years. Dating, jealousy, taking the next step and things of that nature are distant memories. We concern ourselves more with pressing issues like nap time, potty-training and finding a moment to have conversations about anything other than our son. That said, Steven Soderbergh's film, The Girlfriend Experience did manage to evoke some of those old feelings in me. Regardless of where you are in your life in terms of relationship status, I think you'll be able to connect with some of the feelings on display here. But, be careful. It's not going to be easy.

If you had to guess what **** means are you going with **** or ****?
Soderbergh has, arguably, a wildly varying résumé. He creates movies for the masses (hmm, let's go with...Erin Brockovich) and for complete niche segments (Bubble, anyone?) too. The Girlfriend Experience is certainly small-time, with the lead actress being Sasha Grey, more known for her porn days (she has since 23) on the computer screen than for lighting up the silver one. Anyhow, Soderbergh goes all artsy or experimental - I'll let you label it.

This movie runs only 77 minutes and there are countless scenes that use a non-traditional approach, some of which will drag on, making the movie seem significantly longer. For example, there was a scene in a restaurant where a light in the background was in focus but neither of the two characters speaking were. It might've been subtle at first, but the scene lasted for a couple of minutes and had zero cutaways. Goodness. The lack of closeups, camera movement and any real visual flair may suit the cold, sterile nature of the main character, but it can be a real test for someone watching it. Especially, when you start it after you should have been sleeping.

Soderbergh + Vegas - Clooney = The Girlfriend Experience.
My lame interpretations aside, there is a lot of cleverness to the story as well. Our girl Sasha, plays the burgeoning escort Chelsea. Chelsea is living quite the sweet life. She is revered by her clients and generally seems pretty happy with herself. Shoot, sometimes she doesn't even have sex with the guys, they just talk to her and she seems to really listen (my vote? we can talk after). She even has a pretty decent boyfriend who somehow manages to be cool with his lady-friend turning tricks for a living. They have some ground rules, but c'mon, man! Very few men that walk this planet could handle the relentless jealousy that would come with having a hooker as your significant other. Or is that just me?

Anyway, it's interesting to see their stories mirror each other. Seemingly things will end up okay for these two, despite the shaky economy (a major undercurrent for everything). Their goals are very much the same and both are trying to grow their businesses, both are trying to get a leg up. Chelsea is the clear bread-winner, but her man is doing what he can. Everything's cool. But then something happens, rules are broken, and ultimately, things begin to unravel.

I don't find her that attractive. Smells like cabbage. Small hands.
What doesn't unravel, are Ms. Grey's clothes, shockingly. Yes, I know that's what you've been waiting for in this review, isn't it? Despite her pedigree, you salacious types will be utterly disappointed. I think the best you'll get is about five-eighths of a nipple and some darkness-encased nudity. I honestly didn't care, but for a movie about a hooker starring a porn star, it's rather tame with the friskiness. But you're on the internet as we speak, so...problem solved.

Two guys in this movie I'm compelled to mention: Blogger Guy: You sir, are a genius. Paraphrasing: I'd love to rate you for my website, you know, offer you up to some finer clientele. Sound good? Cool. Oh, but I can't recommend you know. If you can't trust a guy who runs his adult website out of the back of an abandoned Mattress Warehouse, who can you trust?
Jewish Jeweler Guy: Thanks for the tip about gold. Now see how long you can hug me before.... Oh, never mind. My work here is done.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sydney Briar is alive.

If I invited you to my house and told you we were going to watch a zombie flick, you'd have certain expectations, wouldn't you? No, I'm not talking about microwave popcorn and a Bossman Junior, weirdo. I'm talking about the movie itself. You'd probably be thinking of one or more of the following, right? Small group of survivors, hordes of the undead (runners or amblers) and some crazy violence, typically involving a shotgun or two. Fair enough. Well, what if I told you we were watching 2008's Pontypool? And what if I told you that it basically had none of those zombie-flick staples? You'd be pissed, wouldn't you? But what if I told you it was good? Real good. You'd be happy, huh? Yes you would. But then I'd tell you that we're totally out of popcorn and I'm not that type of guy and you'd probably leave all upset and stuff. Hmm. Sorry about that.

Pontypool. Panty pool. Pont de Flaque. What does it mean?
Wow. Anyway, after watching a romantic comedy (see below) with my wife, I sneaked back downstairs and finished Pontypool. I had started it on Friday, but literally passed out at about the midway point. I hate to watch films in two parts, but it's either that or falling asleep during a rerun of Extreme Couponing with the wife. And let's pray that never happens.

Because I think horror is the genre that relies on the soundtrack more than anything, I decided to watch the blu-ray on my laptop with my Airwolf-style headphones on. What a difference it made.

Without giving too much away, this movie is about something very strange happening in a small, Canadian town. We don't really (or ever) see anything happen, we simply experience it real-time with a three-person crew at a dingy radio station.

Holding it all down, is the DJ, Grant Mazzy (brilliantly brought to life by Stephen McHattie). His voice is so incredibly riveting, it's hard to put into words. I loved it.

Answer most commonly given: "I want to see what he'll say next."
For the first 45 minutes or so, I was stunned. Yes, I hadn't seen anything, but it didn't matter at all. I was in the station with them. I had no idea what was happening and I was terrified. My wife interrupted me once when the traffic guy, Ken, was reporting from his hiding place and I almost snapped at her. This shit's life or death, f**k the clothes in the dryer! Intense.

But somewhere along the way - I think it was when Dr. Mendez shuffled in - it lost me. Everything is going to shit and I started to care less and less. The buildup was so good, so incredibly strong, it made the payoff feel like a mic to the junk. And the ultimate reveal made me feel like I was very, very stupid. I either didn't get it and I'm dumb, or I did get it and it's dumb. Whatever. It wasn't enough to sour how much I enjoyed the first half. Not even close. Though the scene after the credits was baffling when I needed it to be amazing.

No matter what, I want to thank my sister for this one. I'm sorry I didn't love it as much as you did, but I'm still giddy you bought it for me. Your powers are useless on me, you silly billy.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

After college I was really into cargo pants!

Friends with benefits. I had never heard of this concept until I got to college. Maybe the vernacular didn't make it to Hawai'i, or maybe I simply was too much of a dork to be offered these delicious extras to camaraderie, but this idea was foreign to me for my high school years. Jeez, elementary kids probably know what the term means these days. Or they simply opt for the classier label, f**kbuddies.

Did you ever make a vagina by combining hands with a friend? Cause I didn't.
Goodness. Anyway, all that nonsense leads us to the first of last night's flicks, the appropriately titled, Friends With Benefits. I picked this one up with the wife in mind (that sounds dirty), thinking that she enjoys a good (and recently released) romantic comedy. I had read some decent things, so I figured, well, why not? Throw in the bonus of a fairly hot Mila Kunis plus a usually bankable Justin Timberlake, and good times are guaranteed, right? Let's just say that why not? quickly became why bother? and tiptoed near why God?

Okay, that might be overselling the awfulness - but it is kinda bad. I'll throw the initial blame on Timberlake, because as good as he is on SNL (the guy is a funny bastard), he seems to lose his footing here. The dramatic bits fall flat. Strike two, is actually the R-rating. I know. If you read this blog often (and you don't), or if you have ever spoken to me in a car (and you haven't), you realize that I love a good curse word or two (or nine-hundred), It's true, I do. But here it seems unnecessary and forced. Where old-schoolers Doris Day and Rock Hudson would have had rapid-fire banter that was clever but still somewhat sexual, Kunis and Timberlake just copiously curse quickly and have the worst movie-sex since MacGruber [review]. On top of that, just about everything else comes off too damn perfectly. I know, by federal law, romantic comedies have to be cutesy, but this one takes it too far, too often.

I was going to bring sexy back, but instead I'm going with the Yays and Boos. Ready?

I feel like destroying something beautiful.
  • Emma Stone shows up for a minute and is the best thing about this flick.
  • Woody back on the court? Somebody call The King and Duck. 
  • Luke from Modern Family? Love that kid.
  • I Will Follow You Into the Dark might be the best song ever. Especially for...
  • ...Richard Jenkins. Who classes up anything.
  • suck-a-bag-of-d**ks = Louis C.K., right?
I'm the king of the world, on a boat like Leo...
If you're on the shore, than you're sure not me, oh.
  • iPad jokes? Someone had to be first.
  • Shaun White. Not funny, bro.
  • Her mom, the middle-aged slampiece.
  • Can gay people be subtle? Not according to bad movies.
  • Butt double. Technical foul on Kunis.
  • Child oncologist is a douche! Really? So, I guess if that guy is just in it for some trim, all men are evil.  Makes sense.

As I might've mentioned, this was the first film on Saturday. I'll probably type up the review for the second one tomorrow. Hint? Two words: Grant. Mazzy.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

To me, it was a hotel room.

You know what? You should get naked. Yep. Take everything off. Then, if you can swing it, cover yourself in Vaseline, or better yet, paint. Got it? Good. Now, let's kick some ass.

Like De Niro in Raging Bull, Hardy literally transforms himself.
Wait, that sounds crazy doesn't it? Well, that little game plan seemed to be one of the main character's go-to moves in today's film, 2008's Bronson. Tom Hardy, soon to officially everywhere as Bane in the last of Nolan's Batman films, completely loses himself in the role of Britain's most notorious inmate. Seriously, it might take me you some time to shake the recklessly fantastic performance Hardy delivers here. The menacing stare that breaks into a smile (or is it the reverse?) has stayed with me hours after the film. It's creepy, but it's also pretty badass.

Obviously, I was pretty excited to watch this one. I actually opened it at the mailbox and rushed it into the PS3. Instantly, I was hooked. The opening sequence is mesmerizing enough, but the monologues and eye-contact will demand your attention. Bronson, as insane as he is, is a pretty likable guy. That may be romanticizing it a bit, but I felt like he was principled enough. He didn't kill anyone. I mean, that's cool. I could hang with that. And by hang with, I actually mean run from. Quickly.

If I remember correctly, Charlie Bronson originally got seven years for robbing a post office. From that initial sentence, Bronson earned himself thirty-four years total with thirty of that being in solitary confinement. Three decades spent alone in a cage. Goodness. Now, this guy is basically an animal (he does fight a rottweiler, um, awesome) so I guess he deserves it. I mean, how else do you punish someone who loves prison? Oh, I know. Art class.

Lessons learned from Professor Bronson:
  • Next time I'm looking for a job, I'm going to go ahead and pass on any prison librarian positions.
  • Viggo Mortensen? I'm going to need your gold medal for "dick-swinging, ass kicker." Sorry, Aragorn.
  • If I'm in a jewelry store and I decide to smash someone's head into the glass case, I should probably tell somebody else "Happy Christmas" on the way out. Wouldn't want to be rude.
  • Insane asylums? Terrible. Rooming with the guy who smears his own dookie on his face? Even worse.
Nicolas Winding Refn, director. You? Genius. This and Drive have earned you my undying affection. Be gentle.

Oh, and my wife came home while I was watching this one (Matty was sleeping). Of course, I paused it to help her in the door (she has a million bags). Also of course, I inadvertently paused it on one of the numerous full-frontal dong shots. Oh my. What are you watching?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I don't know whether to help you or euthanize you.

Thank you, I just had it stuffed.
I don't really remember anything specific about being an eighth grader. I remember the girl I had a crush on (a lovely, blue-eyed girl named Heather) and everything, but I don't remember doing anything overly dramatic about it. In Crazy, Stupid, Love. one of the main characters, a 13 year-old named Robbie, repeatedly one ups himself with awkward, stalker-esque claims and gestures of an undying love. It's painful to watch, but luckily the rest of the movie isn't.

Steve Carell is the Jedi-master of the downtrodden everyman. As likable as he is, he's often playing someone that the other characters in the story can't stand. We buy it because we like Carell, but at some point he's going to have to play a genuine douche - just to mix it up. Even super-villian Gru in Despicable Me turned out to be a solid guy.

Anyway, I thought this was pretty enjoyable and <gasp!> actually, surprising at times. My wife called a few of the turns (she routinely makes me feel stupid), but there was one in particular that we didn't see coming. It might be the romantic comedy equivalent of The Sixth Sense. Okay, that might be overselling it, but whatever, maybe I'm just slow. I'm stupid. You're smart. I was wrong. You were right. You're the best. I'm the worst. You're very good-looking. I'm not attractive.

Excuse me, your balls are showing.
Um, anyway, another thing that movie has going for it is Ryan Gosling's character, Jacob. He starts out very charming and smooth, wanders into dishonest scumbag territory then sort of comes full-circle into likeable good-guy. He also comes off like the white Hitch. Regardless of being slightly derivative, his character is fleshed out enough that despite being a man-whore, he's a pretty solid individual. Pretty much like me, except for the man-whore thing. Oh, and he's handsome. And strong. And wealthy. But other than that...we're like brothers. Twin brothers.

  1. Turns out I kind of miss Kevin Bacon. Must've been that badass commercial....
  2. Thank the dear Lord that Julianne Moore was not from Boston. Like nails on a wicked haad chalkboard.
  3. Josh Groban? Really?
  4. Guy who gets laid all the time is really unhappy. Oh, movies. You so crazy!
  5. Worst 8th grade graduation speech ever.
  6. Best 8th grade graduation present ever.
I just read something in one of my wife's magazines that suggested it takes roughly half the time spent in a relationship to get out of it. Sound numbers, unless you screw David Lindhagen.

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    The hardcore can't understand.

    How do you follow up a forty-five year old French film? With pandas. Lots of pandas.

    Kung Fu Panda 2 surprised me. It starts off with this involved back story about a power hungry peacock who would attempt to rule China with an iron fist. Read that again if you have to, but the point I'm making is that it's kind of serious. There are large sections of this movie that are quite dark (both literally and emotionally). I bought this for my son (that's what I say when I purchase animated movies that I have to see) but I really don't think he'd enjoy it (yet). I was thinking lots of skadooshes and some colorful fight scenes, but this one has a strong message and a very emotional core. And yes, it should surprise no one that more than once I found myself holding back the waterworks. First Toy Story 3 and now this? I'm a mess - I know.

    I don't answer the door when I'm eatin'.
    Awkward visuals aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the second chapter of Po's journey. The story is simple yet compelling (as any good family film should be) and the theme really resonates.The idea of not letting your past dictate your future applies to the entire audience, both young and old (though maybe not the super wee ones). To make it even stronger, it really compliments the message of the first film, too - that of being true to yourself despite how others may see you. Groovy.

    So, I'm thinking that despite having a extra heavy dose of Jack Black this isn't really a kids movie. At all. Yes, I realize that adults usually don't line up for movies featuring talking and fighting animals, but if you don't get hung up on the visuals you'll find yourself with a decent revenge tale laced with a fair amount of ass kicking and life lessons. And yes, while I'm typing this I can see that poster to the left. Oh, it won't sway me.

    Since I don't have any Booos (except an inexplicable lack of Monkey), I'm gonna roll out with a sixer of Yays!
    This is a pretty sweet chase scene.
    1. Speech from too far away? That's brilliant.
    2. Any time that Crane's jaw drops.
    3. Michelle Yeoh. Second best goat ever (first place? The Goat. As in, first time he used fists Goat)
    4. Damn adorable baby pandas. So cute and lovable.
    5. Obviously, the animation is stellar. Especially the fireworks. The boat battle, too. Whoa.
    6. The ending. Awesome.