Thursday, November 29, 2012

The moon is just a chip shot away.

I spend a considerable amount of time on this blog mentioning and discussing women in film. Okay, by women I more or less mean breasts. I think we can all agree that the female form in its natural, unencumbered glory is an incredible thing, right? Right. But on the other end of that spectrum is the awkward awfulness of the naked man. Sure, some of you out there enjoy that type of thing, but be honest with yourself: There's nothing sexy about some dude's sweaty junk in your face.

Magic Mike is yet another instance of director Steven Soderbergh proving that he can do whatever the Hell he wants. Helming a male-stripper movie might be a risky movie for numerous other directors, but not this guy. If I heard that his next movie was going to be a live-action VeggieTales movie, I wouldn't be shocked. He does what he wants, how he wants. And even if you don't want to watch mostly-naked dudes jiggle their balls for two hours, you have to respect his.

While a few of the performances are special, the story itself is anything but. Matthew McConaughey plays Dallas, a slightly older, bongo-playing businessman whose business happens to be entertaining the ladies. He has a small stable of guys that dance at his small-time club, though he dreams of bringing the flapping-dong action to Miami. His main draw, is Magic Mike, played by The Sexiest Man Alive Channing Tatum. Mike can shake it with the best of them, but has the oh-so dreamy dream of building custom furniture. Complicating everything, is The Kid. Mike recruits him to the club and for some unknown reason, falls for his sister. Hearts will be break, bottoms will be hit and, yes ladies, penises will be pumped.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A weed by any other name is still a weed.

At one point in my life, I was a high school janitor. Hold on. This happened when I was in high school, not after getting out of prison or something. Looking back, the job was equal parts terrible and awesome. Terrible, because I had to clean a f--king high school (the biggest offender? The buckets in the girls' bathroom - Dear God). Awesome, because I had access to any room after hours. And one time, my friends used my big-ass key ring to go on an Ocean's Eleven style break in. Their goal? The acquisition of a VHS tape, used annually in 9th grade English. Two words: Juliette's boobs.

Sadly, that moment of glory is all that remains in my memory of my introduction to Shakespeare. I'm more than familiar with a few of his stories, but being that I'm pretty much a complete idiot, have never investigated them otherwise. Well, that is until me and the family sat down to watch 2011's Gnomeo & Juliet last week. 

Real quick, even though no one cares, humor me. What do you think came first, the title or the story? Doesn't it seem that some jerk came up with the name Gnomeo and then figured, Gnomeo. Gnomeo and Juliet.
Someone get me my laptop. Now.
Fine, that's not how it went at all, but still. There's no way someone said, we should make a movie about garden gnomes! is there? Well, you're still reading this, so I suppose anything is possible.

Anyway, on to the flick itself. Very loosely based on the play, Gnomeo and Juliet is yet another cutesy piece of fluff that's loaded with an all-star cast and features the bastardized works of a musical legend. It's pretty to look at, has a very short run time and has all the hallmarks of every average animated flick that gets a theatrical release these days. Talking animals, droves of indecipherable things, and even a dance number or two, round out a very typical love story. Though that's to be expected considering how many times the original source has been used (or misused, perhaps?). It's not to say that there aren't clever bits, but overall it simply wasn't my cup of tea. And for the record, it lost my son to repeatedly jumping off the couch and bothering the dog, and lost my wife to snoring like an 800lb man. It's not terrible. It's just not awesome, either.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Were you expecting an exploding pen?

As I've mentioned countless times, my actual job, allegedly, is teacher. Every day I go to war with middle school kids and try to convince them of the importance of words and reading. And every day, someone says that reading is doing too much. Though they probably use to because they don't read enough to know the difference between the two. They just want to go on the computers or iPads and play games and take pictures of themselves. Very few really buy what I'm selling. Higher ups say that we've got to change the way we teach, that traditional ways just aren't good enough anymore. We need to make everything a project, an experience, that resonates with the kids. Times have changed they say. Once, I was even told don't teach them anything they could simply Google.

I love Daniel Craig so much I actually hate him. Handsome, charming bastard.
I don't know what industry you're in, but chances are, in the name of profits and bottom lines, it is becoming less about people and more about machines and technology.  I feel your pain. So does Bond. James Bond.

Before I really get started, let me admit it right now: I'm not a big Bond guy. At all. Yet despite that, I had a blast with the latest entry, Sam Mendes' kickass Skyfall.

The story is pretty straightforward. Bond must get back a stolen hard drive that contains the identity of numerous embedded agents. Naturally, an exceedingly badass chase ensues and Bond recovers it rather easily. He nails some hot broad with a groovy accent aaand...credits. 

No, wait. That's not it. Bond dies and the hard drive finds its way into the wrong hands, thereby putting dozens of lives in peril. Eh, close enough.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

That's an awful lot of chocolate for one man, Fred.

At my high school, there was an end-of-the-year tradition where the graduating class would dig up a section of the sidewalk and bury a time capsule beneath it. And by time capsule, obviously I mean Tupperware container. Anyway, I remember the things to be preserved were of varying levels of quality. Photos, notes and mixtapes (yes, I said tapes, f--k you, I'm old) were acceptable enough, though sometimes things would go awry. I vividly remember a couple of guys putting in large amounts of their artwork. And by artwork, obviously I mean countless drawings of dicks.

If there was ever an ultimate movie time capsule, I think 1974's Foxy Brown deserves a spot. And like the aforementioned drawings, it perfectly captures the goofy absurdity of the time it was created. Those graduating high school seniors drew and colored hundreds of shafts (and balls). These filmmakers crafted a film filled with badass ladies, kung-fu and dialogue often bolstered with liberal use of the word motherf--ker. Oh, and both featured their fair share of titties. The way I see it, upon an unearthing years later, each of these endeavors will charm whoever finds them, no matter how crude they are.

Pam Grier is a force on the screen for a number of reasons. First, she's gigantic. Tall, thick and incredibly buxom, she is oddly alluring. But more than her appearance, is my  second reason, her presence. For all the previously mentioned reasons, she commands your attention and can (and will) kick the shit out of you if she doesn't get it. If you don't believe me, check out the scene in the, um, Female Trucker Cantina. It's magic.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I'd hate to be accused of not killing him when I had the chance.

There are exceptions, but for the most part, work sucks. Worse than being at a job you hate? The always dreaded team building activity. 'Mandatory fun' as a friend puts it, often makes a regular shitty day seem precious. But even worse than spending time with co-workers in a forced situation? Being murdered. I don't mean what happens to your soul day after day, I mean actually. Oh, and worse than that? Well, I don't want to ruin it. Let's just say it involves something sharp. And an ass.

Held over from my month-long pledge to watch nothing but horror movies, Severance managed to avoid being lost in DVR purgatory. I don't know what drew me to it, as all I was going on was the one-sentence summary provided by the good folks at the Dish Network program guide. I hadn't heard of any of the mentioned actors, but proceeded to dive in. And even though it took me three attempts (I keep slipping into mini-comas), overall it was a bloody, good ride.

Initially, everything is on the up-and-up. A small group of people who work for some weapons/defense company are on their way to the ubiquitous cabin in the woods. And while sequential murder isn't supposed to be on the agenda, team building is. The characters begin fairly one-note. Douchey Boss? Check. Overly Nerdy Guy? You bet. Quiet Lady and Pretty Girl are here as well, along with Confident Man and his friend, Druggie Perverted Guy. Oh, and there's Black Guy, too. Each is given a moment or two to flesh out their characters, but as they are picked off one by one, there's only two or three we'll ever really care about. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Top shelf.

Then you better start swimmin', or you'll sink like a stone. For the times they are a-changin'.

When we headed to the movies this past Wednesday night, my wife and I noticed that a mainstay of the mall, the arcade, had closed up and was now vacant. And while this is rather inconsequential for either of us, our three-year old son was saddened, despite thinking it was simply closed, as we so often tell him.  A week ago it seemed like the arcade would outlast a Skynet attack, but the mall recently instituted a ban on unaccompanied minors under the age of 18. The arcade had joined the ever-growing list of childhood things likely never to be heard from again.

Coincidentally, we were taking him to see Disney's latest animated feature, Wreck-It Ralph. It was our fourth anniversary and we thought it would be fun to take the little guy to the movies. He's three, and has already developed an interest in video games (the kid loves Skylanders), should I say unfortunately?, so we thought this would be perfect for him. And while it didn't hold his interest the whole time, the wife and I were enamored. This is a very sweet and charming film.

Ralph is a miserable and misunderstood guy relegated to a life he has grown tired of. Like many of us, his days are incredibly repetitive and uninspired. He's a bad guy. But, as Zangief puts it, heeez not a baaad guy. Simply put, Ralph is tired of being alone. Despite his initial quest being greedy and self-centered, ultimately Ralph finds meaning and a place in the world. And by that, I mean, he finds family. And as any parent will sigh and then tell you, that really is all that matters.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A dog living in a palace is still a dog.

I don't know how it is with you, but my iPod is loaded with countless songs I immediately skip when they come up in the shuffle. The only reason they are even there in the first place is because they take up so little room and I foolishly tell myself there might be a time when I want to hear it. Certain songs however, are always welcome. For example, the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" never, ever gets skipped. It's fun, it makes you want to move, and most importantly, everything about it screams vintage, old-school goodness.

Saturday morning, a friend and I caught a matinee showing of The Man with the Iron Fists. I went because I've always been down for the ridiculousness of old-school martial arts flicks, and Chad went to support the directorial debut of RZA (dude has some major love for the Wu-Tang Clan). And while initially this movie was like a classic 70's jam, eventually I think we both felt like skipping to the next number. It's like a great three minute song that happens to run just under six.

Terrible music analogies complete, let's talk about the story. Seems a large amount of gold needs to be transported through China. Along the way, it will travel through Jungle Village, home to various gangs, whores and a whole host of undesirables. Complicating matters even further, are a few epic fights, double and triple crosses, curiously spicy ribs, badass weaponry and the most titty-free brothel ever put to film. Stuck in the middle of all this, is the local Blacksmith, played by RZA. This guy wants two things: 1) to live a decent life with his ladyfriend (she's a whore, but hey - the best whore) and 2) to keep his actual arms attached to his body. Spoiler alert! Oooh. About that...