Friday, June 29, 2012

Cool kids never have the time.

A fellow movie blogger, the esteemed Movie Waffler, asked me to contribute to a kickass blogathon he is running. The hook? Write a piece about film using the year of your birth as the launching point. So, it got me thinking. What good movies came out in 2002?

Oh wait, I just write like I'm ten. I was actually born in September of 1979. Goodness. Do you know how far down you have to scroll when entering your birthday online? Far. Very far.

So, I headed to the internet to do a little research about dear 1979. Guess what? Some great films came out that year. Films such as Kramer vs. Kramer, Apocalypse Now and the original Star Trek movie. Guess what else? I haven't seen any of them.

My theory is that seeing these films, for me, is the equivalent of bumping into yourself during time travel. Something bad will happen and the future will be altered in countless, horrible ways. Logical, no?

While my credibility wanes, you have to give me some points for seeing Alien theatrically. Fine, being in the womb at the time, I (hopefully) couldn't actually see it - but I was there, damn it. My point (always takes a while), is that I didn't think I could do the year justice without having seen some of the best it had to offer. So, I thought of something else. Instead of discussing what film gave to 1979, how about we take a look at what 1979 gave to film?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bring the small glasses.

My two-year old son is adamant about clearly identifying the world into two categories: boy things or girl things. He will tell my wife that she can't watch a certain television show (usually baseball) or play a certain game (usually baseball) because it's for boys, Mom. He will then insist that certain songs on the radio are girl songs and that we can't listen to them. The list goes on and on and I find myself routinely trying to convince him that it's okay for boys to like girl things and girls to like boy things. Being that I am his father and he inherently tunes me out, I enlisted some professional help. Who are these parenting wizards, you ask? Well, the good folks at Pixar, naturally.

I seriously wonder how many millions of dollars were spent on Merida's mane.
Okay, not really. But I wanted to expose him to the less princess-y side of female characters, and more pressing, to entertain the kid for a few hours. Tuesday's film, Brave , succeeds on both fronts.

Outside of the previews, I didn't really know what I was getting us into. I did the relatively responsible thing of looking into the questionable content aspects of the reviews and stumbled upon a major part of the story I wasn't prepared for. That being the curse that Merida asks for (but ultimately must undo), of course. Perhaps that was clear to everyone else in the world, but I didn't get that out of the trailers I had seen. I thought we we're in for let-me-be/I-can-take-care-of myself movie. Brave is that, but it's more of an examination between the relationships between children and their parents, more specifically, between mothers and daughters. Cue the John Mayer (or just punch me in the balls, either one).

The bar is impossibly high, but for my money Pixar delivers yet again. Coming off of last year's soulless Cars 2 [review], they were bound to return to form, and they did. I had read somewhere that this film may seem lacking in that the fantastic isn't as front and center as some of their other films, but the emotional core that makes Pixar films matter sure is. I wasn't the wreck I was near the end of Toy Story 3, but I was certainly vested in the relationship between Merida and her mother. Combine that touching story with the trademark adventure tale and you've got yet another winner from the most bankable force in movies this side of James Cameron (speaking of, do we need three more Avatars?). Goodness.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Look away, Abraham.

This past Sunday I was out in the backyard playing with my wife and son. Though I really didn't want to, my wife convinced me to set up a Toy Story themed Slip N' Slide. It took all of five minutes, but there was a problem. No one would go down the damn thing. My son is only two, and he was content just running near it. My wife, in a bikini, could not be convinced (I was positive there was no way her top would stay on) despite my badgering. At just over six feet and woefully out of shape, I didn't think I could conquer it, um, logistically. I think the whole thing is maybe 12-15 feet long. What is probably a sign of things to come in fatherhood, I sucked it up (and in) and went for it. It hurt and really wasn't that much fun, but for a split f--king ruled.

Not sure why that chair is out in the woods...
Hours later, I headed to the mall to  catch Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I know, I see some dumb shit, but this one genuinely interested me. Hold on, hold on. I actually read this book a few years back and found it to be an entertaining fictionalization of U.S history. Lincoln is arguably the most recognizable of our former presidents and mixing his incredible life story with vampire ass-kicking turned out to be a hell of a ride. A legitimate illegitimate brother of mine, Flem, had read the book as well (in probably an eighth of the time) and we both thought it would be a decent action flick. Fast forward three years and there we were, 3D glasses and all.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Thank you...for the movie, today. It was a gift.

As kids, I think we're all pretty much lost. Fitting in can be utterly taxing work (a lot of finding everything funny, there). The opposite, truly not caring what others think, isn't easy either. I should know, not only was I kid - obviously, but as a middle school teacher, I'm surrounded by them. Combine all that growing up and figuring-it-out chaos with the loss of a parent, and you've got a child's worst nightmare. But in the hands of Martin Scorsese, this is the stuff of dreams.

I loved Hugo. From the magical opening shot throughout the train station to the very sweet ending, I was completely enamored. I realize this isn't a stretch by any means (this was a Best Picture nominated film), but it seems like it's been some time since I've seen something so rapturously entertaining. And surprising.

Despite having planned on seeing this theatrically, I didn't know much about this. I knew it was a kids movie,  and I knew Scorsese directed it, but that's about it. Maybe it was the impending holiday season, or maybe a personal indifference to the marketing, but I was essentially clueless to story. And even more of a pleasant surprise: the cast. The kids were both brilliant, truly, but I got the most joy out of Sacha Baron Cohen's Station Inspector (and to lesser extent, the always excellent Ben Kingsley). Cohen does a lot with what could have been a very one-note character. Truly excellent.

Also excellent, is the presentation, specifically the camera work. Seriously, the camera can go anywhere in this film. It spins and it swoops all over the place. The train station is perfectly brought to life and the camera explores every inch of it. And despite not taking place outdoors or in a city of highrises, everything has such a striking verticality to it, it's breathtaking. I wish I had seen this on the big screen (and in 3D, while we're at it).

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What a horrible day. It's only a miracle that I'm alive.

I debated on putting this one up here. I thought it was going to be so ridiculous, which it was, but I guess it says something about me that I would even watch it in the first place. I was skimming through some of the random movie channels I have and found myself looking through EPIX3. I programmed Warrior, which I hear is really good but I missed theatrically. Most everything else I had already seen. So I stumbled across this one, and the title was so absurd, I was hooked. I had to watch it. Had to. Former friends, may I reluctantly present Nude for Satan.

I don't know what's with the 4or thing.
I know. This is the same sight where I've reviewed two Muppet films. I thought I would mix it up a bit, and that a weird Italian horror "movie" would be just the thing. Yes, Nude was pretty clutch, but the Satan thing intrigued me, too. As a kid, I remember my older brothers watching weird-ass scary movies and often the Devil was involved. That stuff really messed with me. Slasher films were funny, but The Exorcist? Terrifying.

The only scary thing in this movie is that it actually exists. If this film were dug up in a time capsule future generations would just shudder and re-bury it. Well, after admiring the sweet rack of Rita Calderoni, anyway. Sorry, but outside of that there is little to recommend here. The story makes no sense, the acting (and dubbing?) is atrocious, the special effects insanely bad, and, and almost no violence whatsoever. Once a lady gets stabbed, but it's pretty tame. Oh, and I don't think Satan is actually even in this film. There's a creepy guy dressed like the owner of a Dracula-themed pizzeria (DominO's Postive, perhaps?), but that's about it. His most frightening qualities are his teeth and his ability to disappear faster then you can say questo film colpi.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ebert wouldn't wipe his crack with this trash.

I used to wait tables on a beach in Hawai'i. As anyone who has worked in a fancy (ish) hotel can attest - you see your fair share of celebrities. I remember one of my fellow servers (despite often being referred to as waitress) Greg, a giant of a man, running up to me girlishly excited to tell me that I had none other than Alex Trebek in my section. Perhaps Greg was the biggest Jeopardy! fan alive (though, um, intelligence didn't appear to be his strong suit), but I didn't see the reason for the madness. Especially when I got to table 24 to find the sitcom father of Mike Seaver. I'm sorry, let me phrase this in the form of a question: Who is Alan Thicke?

Years later, I found myself at another dead-end job, this time at a warehouse in Oaks, Pennsylvania. There, we filled orders for copier parts all day, every day. I was a loyal employee to what was a rather shitty job. One day, a man came to Philly that made as excited as giant Greg. I'm speaking of none other than the star of last night's flick, Bruce Campbell.

Um, Boss, my wife's car brokedown in Philly. I gotta go get her.

My Name Is Bruce is a film made for (and about) the kind of people that would leave work early to meet Bruce Campbell. That doesn't mean it's good or anything, it's just got a very narrow target audience. You're reading a movie blog, so you already know about Campbell and his schtick, And if you don't? Stop reading and go watch Army of Darkness. Now.

When I told my friend Flem this one was in my queue, he immediately uttered Oh, that sucked. It was horrible. Then he clucked and made robot noises. I think. Anyway, the bar was pretty frickin' low already, and Flem's eloquent words utterly demolished my expectations. Bruce Campbell is a self-admitted B-movie star. Friends, on it's best day, this flick is a C movie. Take Campbell out of this? You'd be more entertained watching a dog take a dump. On your lawn.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Leaving the zoo was the best thing that ever happened to us.

It's very late, and I am hours removed from a ten-hour drive from South Carolina to where I live in Pennsylvania. Supposedly, we were on a vacation - but somehow I'm more exhausted than when we left. Going to the beach for a week is an odd thing. We stayed in a condo, and day after day saw and interacted with the same people. There was Ohio Larry, who might just be a professional at beach-going. I met Big Fat Guy from Boston, who had to tell me how much the Red Sox do indeed suck. We ended up spending way too much time with a family from North Carolina, Robbie and his wife Ashley, and their two cute kids, Jackson and Caroline. And finally, not from Ohio, not fat at all, and definitely not parents, were The Sisters. Two young (hopefully college age) girls that did nothing but lay around in the skimpiest of bikinis for no less than ten hours a day. One being impossibly hot, the other looking exactly like Tom from blink-182. Seeing the same characters over and over again can get annoying, but sometimes, it actually adds to the fun.

On Thursday night, my wife and I took our young son to see Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted. The slightest mention of afro circus would send my son into a giggling frenzy, so we knew this would be a winner. On top of that, we have Madagascar 2 on blu ray and have probably watched it twenty times. He likes the young cub version of Alex in the beginning and I almost soil myself every time Moto Moto shows up. It may not be funny out of context (or, at all), but just YouTube it or something. Hysterical.

It's not just those two either. This universe has launched a slew of solid characters. From Alex the Lion (Stiller) and Marty the Zebra (Rock) to the Penguins and their awesome leader - Dreamworks has created a stable of funny animals. The third flick adds a few more, too - though the standouts are the T-1000esque Animal Control officer (McDormand) and the intellectually average sea lion (Short). Shockingly, for me, these characters resonate right near the top of animated flicks. Blasphemy? Perhaps.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

You know that I will settle for nothing short of greatness, or I will die trying.

My mom was pregnant with me when she saw Alien. I imagine at some point she wondered if the being  inside of her was going to burst out of her stomach and start attacking everyone's face. Fortunately, no. Well, not quite. I destroy humanity by pointless rambling and typos. Anyway, last night, in the midst of a minor storm in South Carolina, my older brother and I tried to coax our mother to go to the movies with us to see the origin story of those famous creatures. Despite raising four boys (and a girl) my mom replied, I don't like monsters. 

If only the poster could make that screaming/siren sound from the trailers.
Ah, Prometheus. I wanted to love you so much. I wanted you to be the best thing ever. I wouldn't classify my feelings as disappointment, no, just not what I'd hoped for.  Probably the way my mom would describe most of her kids, oddly enough.

I had avoided reviews (and essentially, the internet) the way a biologist avoids slippery, white alien beings. Wait, like he should have avoided them, for the week leading up to the release of Ridley Scott's latest. The ultra-effective previews were the main culprit, as you couldn't turn on the television without seeing one of the kickass trailers.

Real quick. My excitement did get kicked in the nuts when Coors Light and the NBA Playoffs (on ESPN) were being tied into Prometheus. Apparently, nothing says outer space alien origin story like Lebron James and beer that tells you when its cold. Although overrated and nonsensical do sort of correlate.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Can't wear underwear. Balls don't fit.

I think since my son was born, my wife and I have been out together five times. Two weddings, three dinner-and-a-movies, if I remember correctly. My mom is visiting us from Hawai'i, and ideally, she will be watching our son periodically so that we can go out and enjoy ourselves. She might not be the best babysitter, but she's gotta be better than Jonah Hill.

Looking around online, I couldn't determine whether 2011's The Sitter was a direct remake of 1987's Adventures in Babysitting. The stories share a similar plot, but one huge difference exists. I could watch the ultra-sexy Elizabeth Shue forever. Jonah Hill, while at the time rather buxom himself, not so much.

To his credit, Jonah Hill is a pretty funny bastard. His trademark under-the-breath insults are on full display here. So if you enjoy his schtick, stop reading and go give this one a spin. I think I spent more time looking at the titles available in my closest Redbox than I did watching this one (81 minutes? Yes, please).

Now, this guy is seriously the worst babysitter ever. He's rude, indifferent around kids (um, he hates them), and pretty f--king lazy. Oh, and he's way more interested in hooking his girlfriend up with some candy than the well-being of the three rotten kids. Of course, that's how it begins. But guess what? Major surprise! He actually has a heart of gold. Guess what else? In the end, not only will he love the kids, but -shocker- they'll love him too.

Goodness, I've been working on this review on and off for a few days now, so let's break this one down, adventures-in-blogging style.

Inadvertently pushing women down is always funny.
  • Sure, it's an awful song, but I Want to Sex You Up might be a candidate for the soundtrack hall of fame.
  • Their characters leave a lot to be desired, but you can't go wrong with the duo of JB Smoove and Sam Rockwell.
  • Blithe, the daughter, is really cute. The bible is a hot book.
  • Sweet Morrissey reference.
  • It's so small, but I died when he punched the clothes at the ghetto TJ Maxx.
  • For the rest of my life, I will refer to The Devil Wears Prada as Devil Wears P. Seriously.
  • Getting Fontained into a shelf is hysterical. Hill just buckles. Dude started out such a nice guy, too.
  • I like the idea of ranking my best friends. You're my eighth best friend just for reading this.
He has his moments, but strange things are afoot at the Circle-K.
  • He might've come around by the end, but I hated Rodrigo. I wanted to punch this kid in the juevos.
  • Man, not reciprocating in the bedroom? The ultimate boo.
  • I like weird shit, but the underground gym? Almost too weird.
  • Okay, I consider myself moderately charming, but Jonah Hill's like a Jedi with that shit. He scores multiple hotnessess, despite being a fat prick. The sistas love this fool. As does Method Man, naturally.
Look, I've been working on this one for days and I'm relieved that it's finally over. What was the holdup? Well, my son basically freaks out as soon as I'm on the laptop. Maybe I should have someone watch him, huh?

What's that? You're interested? You know I can't pay you, right? Okay, cool. Just leave your contact info in the comments. Thanks. Should be safe, finding childcare on the web...