Archive for July, 2008

I realize that Kevin is currently on vacation, but hey, let’s do this anyways.

Noises Off! is a movie within a play.   We start off with the cast and director preparing for the very first show of a comedic play that will be touring, a play that starts out well but rapidly becomes tiresome due to the running gags of slamming doors and people missing one another.   The cast stays mixed up, primarily because of a confusing (but funny) series of turns involving props going on and off the stage.   The film is set in three parts:  the initial rehearsal of the first act, the first act halfway through the tour and the first act at the end of the tour.

Noises Off! works for several different reasons: one, the writing is superb and two, the actors are all in fine form, including two that may surprise you:  John Ritter and Christopher Reeve, who both give excellent performances.   Michael Caine is cynically hilarious as the director of the play, and Carol Burnett is perfect as the touring actress of some stature who’s sick of the grind.   Watching the actors run through the play is funny, because you get asides where they’ve broken character, or so on and so forth, but you also get to see behind the curtain and look at the comedy behind the comedy in what’s going on backstage.    The  rehearsal’s funny, but when things go wrong, they go outstandingly wrong and in a variety of hilarious ways.  Watching the actors fall apart is just as humorous as watching them put their characters together.

All in all, it’s a great, witty comedic film.

Kevin, wherever you may be, thank you, good sir.   I owe you a beer (figuratively, I suppose) for this one.

In fact, I liked it so much, it just scooted to the top of my “To Buy” list.

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I see a lot of confusion in the movie blogosphere about the upcoming movie Twilight, based off of the popular book series by Stephenie Meyer. Twilight fans are a hardcore little group, and the amount of internet buzz they’ve helped generate for the movie is insane. But…your rank and file movie fan has no idea what this is all about.

Friend, you are in for a real treat.

Twilight‘s a lot like Peeps. For those of you without access to Peeps – the horror, I say – let me explain. Peeps are marshmallows covered in colored sugar that traditionally have been sold at Easter. (The Peeps people have realized the marketability of these things at other holidays and have seized on them, but they’re mostly associated with Easter). They were originally sold as these mounds of marshmallow shaped into the form of a chick and covered with fine, granulated sugar in a variety of colors – mainly pink and yellow, should memory serve me correctly.

One Peep is good. But before you know it, you’ve wolfed an entire box down, you’ve gone temporarily insane from the sugar high, your mouth is coated with pink sugar and you end up face down on your bed, with half your teeth having already rotted out of your skull from the massive sugar consumption, a nasty headache and a killer feeling in your stomach.

So, Twilight‘s a lot like that. It’s essentially the book form of movie-crack.

My inner twelve year old liked Twilight. My grown-up self has serious issues with it (namely, some bizarr-o, bad portrayals of a “healthy” romantic relationship) but I won’t touch on that here. Instead, I’ll give you the basic rundown of the story and some snicker-worthy factoids, so you’re prepared.

And oh yeah, it’s behind this little separator, so all of you who wish to remain unspoiled may do so (although why in the world you would want to remain unspoiled for Twilight is perfectly beyond me).


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Somewhere, J.D.‘s laughing at me, I feel fairly sure.

Okay, I get the premise of this film.   Princess Raccoon is actually a raccoon spirit trapped in a human body who falls in love with a human prince with typically dramatic results.   It’s a fairy tale!

It’s got singing and dancing and huge musical numbers.   It feels a lot like a lot of film productions of The Nutcracker do where it seems to be shot on a theater set.   But mostly…my head hurts.

My head hurts from the talking golden frog and the weird raccoon masks.  My head hurts because of the weird scenes in which the Prince and Princess go sailing down a stream that’s straight out of a Japanese watercolor.   My head hurts because that was an awful lot of pretty costuming and scenery to jam into my brain in a very short time period.

My brain can’t quite churn through it all.   I liked the story, but it feels like the plot takes a distinct back seat to whatever the director can shove into the movie like golden raccoon traps and an enormous palace full of singing guards and simpering handmaidens.   The costumes are to die for.   The makeup’s exquisite and Zhang Ziyi is awesome in this (I can see why J.D. loves her so).

I really, thoroughly enjoyed it.   It was out of my comfort zone, but in a great way.   The problem is, I’m not quite sure to put into words exactly what Princess Raccoon is because I’m not quite sure there’s been anything in my memory, at least, that can even serve as a reference point for this movie.

It feels odd that a movie should leave me stricken and at a complete loss for words, but Princess Raccoon managed to do just that.   It’s…almost indescribable.

It’s pretty, but it felt like such a mind-bender.    It’s the cinematic equivalent of having a double shot of warm sake with a peyote chaser.   It’s a bizarrely beautiful movie.    In its oddity, there’s a lot of awesomeness there.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to lie down and take a few aspirin.   I have a feeling this movie’s going to give me some fairly weird dreams.

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Gentlemen, I apologize profusely.   Your condolence cards for being left off of the first post are in the mail and shall be arriving shortly.

JOHN CUSACK – Even with Must Love Dogs and crap of that ilk, I still love Cusack.   Mainly for Grosse Pointe Blank and things of that nature.   I always feel iffy on High Fidelity but I still love him in that movie.  Plus, tall, dark, handsome.   You get it, right?

KARL URBAN – Oh god, do not even ask me to justify this one.   Let’s just let it go, okay?   I mean, he’s been in some pretty good fare, like Lord of the Rings and I was so ungodly happy that he landed the role of Kirill in The Bourne Supremacy but Pathfinder?   DoomGhost Ship?    Sob, a thousand times over.


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Soooo, my dearests, Piper over at Lazy Eye Theatre (I seem to be mentioning Piper quite a bit lately, no?) tagged me for the 12 Movies Meme, where the rules are as follows:

1) Choose 12 Films to be featured. They could be random selections or part of a greater theme. Whatever you want.

2) Explain why you chose the films.

3) Link back to Lazy Eye Theatre so I can have hundreds of links and I can take those links and spread them all out on the bed and then roll around in them.

4) The people selected then have to turn around and select 5 more people.

Well, unluckily for you, I’ve downright bit my nails to the quick thinking about the movies I would select and I’ve taken so damn long that there’s no one left to tag, it seems like!   So if you want to be tagged, consider yourself…tagged!  I will tag Allison at Nerdvampire’s Film Blog because I’m curious to see what she says.

First of all, if someone actually let me run 12 movies at some place like the New Beverly (which is rapidly gaining some sort of hip, chic street cred due to the fact that they let guys like Edgar Wright & Eli Roth come in and program long ass film festivals), I’m sure A) no one would care and B) someone would probably get fired as a result of my movie choices and or other options, but here we go.



Out of all the eight million and one half Nightmare on Elm Street movies, this is my favorite.   Sure, it’s  a pure shlocky sequel slasher flick, but it’s got great death scenes, a great premise and Zsa Zsa Gabor.   Come on, what’s not to love?   That, and I wanted to make a popsicle stick version of Nancy’s house too!


Sure, it’s totally cliché to pick Suspiria, but it really is a landmark horror film.  I often describe Suspiria to people as a supernatural slasher film if Willy Wonka decided to take some hallucinogens and try his hand at movie making.   Never has death been so artfully pretty, really.    Who doesn’t want to see Suspiria on the big screen?



I know this may really shock some people, but I’m not too keen on musicals.  It’s not that I don’t like them, but they’re not like horror movies for me:  they’ve never really grabbed me.  Unless you count The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (and the movie that will follow this one).   It’s just…an awesome film, and there’s some measure of greediness here because this is a movie I would probably chop off my right arm to see on the big screen once, just once, dammit!


Really and truly, I could probably take or leave Frank Sinatra.  But it’s Marlon Brando that makes me have uber-love for Guys and Dolls.  That and the musical numbers are so darn catchy.   True story:  I once had the uh, Guys and Dolls soundtrack in my car and I was um…car singing…and um…I was stuck in traffic next to a dude in a Kia who thought my musical tastes/car singing was hilarious.   And I’m sure, not in a good way.   But really, it is my favorite Hollywood movie musical and I would love to see it in a theater.   (How does War Games get a one-night-only theatrical re-release and not Guys and Dolls?)


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Soooooo, Piper over at Lazy Eye Theatre had this fantabulous post about how some movies?  Best left to the vague recesses of your memory, where you treasure them fondly and gloss over the crap parts.

For me, Mystery Men is one of those movies.

I remember seeing Mystery Men when it first hit DVD and really enjoying it.  I thought it was pretty funny at the time.  Now, not so much.

The premise is a little funny; inept, lesser “superheroes” have to ride in and save the day after the city’s internationally known superhero goes missing.

I Netflixed this for a bit of familiarity before I start on this epic series of Reader’s Choice and now I feel…disappointed.   What should’ve been a nice palate cleanser turned out to suck.   It’s not that Mystery Men can’t be funny; rather, Mystery Men takes a handful of funny jokes and throwaways and runs them ragged making an entire movie out of them.   Too often the same bits are repeatedly continuously throughout the movie.

There’s something exceptionally off about Janeane Garofalo and I can’t figure out what it is.  I loved her in Wet, Hot American Summer but in this one I just found her to be the grown up version of Daria.   Ben Stiller and the rest of this crew (including Paul Reubens, Jesus) are completely unfunny.   The one saving grace is William H. Macy as the Shoveler, who plays his role pretty honestly and therefore carries scenes through rougher patches.

Dude, even flipping Geoffrey Rush is awful in this.   And it makes me cry sad tears that Eddie Izzard is in this (oh, Eddie, why?) as a disco-obsessed villain.   Greg Kinnear as Captain Amazing might have as well stuck a sign around his neck that said “DOING IT FOR THE PAYCHECK” because he obviously doesn’t care much.   He just looks lazy throughout the entire thing.

And after wasting that time, I wish I had left Mystery Men back on the proverbial shelf, right where it belongs.

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You know, I’m all for liking actors who are immensely talented because they’re immensely talented…but every so often, you just have to go with the gut reaction, “Mmm, pretty”.   It’s not reasonable, sure, but it’s part of why some actors are cast.   And if you’re me,  you go for the ones that everyone else is thinking, “Him?  Really?”

In some ways, it’s really quite shameful, considering I’ve sat through an awful lot of crap for the ones I find irrationally attractive.

Nobody squees quite like J.D. squees, so this post is in his honor.

The following are the certified beloved actors of 1,416 and Counting, simply for the fact of…uh… “Mmm.  Pretty.”

ADRIEN BRODY – I sat through King Kong for you.   P.S.:  Make some better movies.   P.P.S.:   What’s with the wanna-be rapper stuff?  It’s seriously harshing my pretty buzz over here, Adrien.   The man rocks a suit, that’s for sure.

CHRISTIAN BALE – I have no problems with your movie choices, Christian, not even Newsies.   Please salvage Terminator 4 for me.  Yay!   John Connor will finally be smokin’!

CILLIAN MURPHY – Have a sandwich or seven.   You’ve got those very nice cheekbones and pretty blue eyes but you look like you weigh approximately seven and a half ounces, Cillian.   I’m worried you may break, and then where would I be?   Also, there’s no marks against you for movie choices, at least none that I know of.


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Okay, you need to see this movie, if you haven’t already.

Wristcutters: A Love Story is really the story of Zia (Patrick Fugit) and his quest to find his girlfriend in the afterlife.   All suicide victims go to a special afterlife, a purgatory of sorts, where no one smiles, everything is old and run down and which has a partially bleached out, faded look to it.   The entire world is populated only with suicide victims, so much so that one of the characters Zia encounters in a bar likes to play a game that involves guessing how complete strangers offed themselves.

Zia’s friend is Eugene, a Russian rocker whose family also killed themselves, and he forms a sort of odd family bond with all of them.  Eugene and Zia don’t spend their death any more productively than life; they hang out in bars and drink, while Zia reminisces of the girlfriend he dearly loved that he left behind.   A chance encounter with an old friend (Jake Busey, in a fantastic cameo) clues Zia into the fact that his girlfriend killed herself as well and is somewhere in their realm.    Zia convinces Eugene to tag along with him while he hunts Desiree, the girl he loves, down and the two start a crazy road trip involving a car with broken headlights and a black hole under the front passenger seat, a quirky hitchhiker named Mikal, and a varied cast of odd characters that they meet along the way to finding Desiree.

Wristcutters is a fairly original story, and the three leads, played by Shea Whigham, Patrick Fugit and Shannyn Sossamyn, are really, really good.   Patrick Fugit always seems to pick really good roles that fly just under the radar and he’s consistently impressed me in everything he’s been in as being a pretty sturdy actor.   Wristcutters is no exception.   Shea Whigham, I think, probably had a fairly difficult time with this one, although he does excel – but his character, the Russian rocker Eugene, is based off of the lead singer of Gogol Bordello, which would be difficult for anyone to attack, I think.  It’s good to see Shannyn Sossamyn, who I felt had much more in her than being in movies like A Knight’s Tale and 40 Days and 40 Nights, attack a meatier role with a little more depth than she has taken on previously.

The film attacks dark subjects without ever being overly depressing and most of the time winks an eye at the topics of suicide and life after death with darkly humorous tones.   And the overall message of the movie is a good one and a positive one.   It’s a good film with a great center to it that manages to be good from the first frame to the last, and it’s probably one of the few movies I’ve seen in quite a while that made me feel like I wanted to rush right out and buy it simply because it was that good.

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Al Pacino kills it in this movie.

Al Pacino plays Sonny, a down on his luck kind of guy who feels pulled in eighty different directions and who decides his best course of action is to rob a bank.  Of course, his plans go awry and his “perfect” robbery quickly turns into a siege, where Sonny and his hostages are holed up inside the bank, and the media descends like a pack of vultures upon the story.   It’s based off a real-life story, which is one of these stories that makes you agree with the old saying, “Truth is stranger than fiction”.

As Sonny’s best laid plans fall all apart, the story becomes more and more bizarre, when the police discover one of the reasons Sonny needs the money is to pay for his lover/wife’s sex-change operation to turn from male to female.   Nevermind that Sonny’s already married with children to another lady, and the news media can do nothing but air the more sordid details of Sonny’s life non-stop.

Al Pacino used to not just play himself, a fact I’ve lamented on this blog several times.   The older he gets, the more it seems like Pacino just plays himself over again, which is sadder when you look at his early body of work.   This is a far different character from any he had previously played, and he does it with a large amount of skill.   He manages to make Sonny, who’s pretty self-absorbed and who we see in moments of intense, trying stress, fairly likeable to the audience and more importantly, easily relatable to the audience at large, which necessarily isn’t the easiest task given some of the things that go on in Sonny’s life – it would be easy to dismiss him at large as a “freak” were it not for Pacino’s handle on Sonny.

In fact, Pacino’s scene where he runs outside the bank and leads the crowd in a chant of “Attica!   Attica!   Attica!”   is classic and should be remembered as such.

The most interesting thing about Dog Day Afternoon to me is how it relates in the present day.  Released in 1975, this is pre-Perez Hilton, pre-TMZ and before any of this constant barrage of paparazzi and entertainment reporting on what Britney Spears had to drink at Starbucks yesterday.   I think it’s harder for this film to have an impact nowadays because of the constant stream of information we have going on from celebrities to robberies to whatever, when this was such a newsworthy and bizarre story to so many people.  What was once bizarre is today commonplace, and it’s a little interesting to see the messages contained in a 1975 film about the media and this story.

It’s a very well made movie but lacking the punch it had in the ’70’s.   The changing times have changed what Dog Day Afternoon means to a whole new generation, I suppose.

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Okay, so it’s no secret that I have crazy love for Keanu Reeves.   Yes, I know he’s not a good actor, but there’s always been something about him that’s struck me as earnest and down to earth, and I kinda like that.  Plus, for someone who doesn’t have that much talent, he seems to work the best he can with what he’s got.

Mr. Reeves has made some excellent movie choices and he’s made some absolutely rotten ones.   So, without further ado?   Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly that Keanu Reeves has made.


Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure – The role Keanu’s probably best known for is probably the one he hates the most.   How many brains has Ted Logan been burned into now?   Sure, it’s not a bastion of haute cinema, but Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a gift that keeps on giving.   It’s one of my favorite movies of all time; it’s instantly quotable; it was eighty kinds of fun.   It’s still fun, and Reeves’ portrayal of the pleasant yet dumb Ted, who wanted nothing more in life than to rock out as a member of Wyld Stallyns, is so endearing, how can you not love him?

The Matrix – That Neo exclamation of “Whoaaa” really captured us, didn’t it?  Well, the whole stopping bullets and being “The One” thing helped too, but the Wachowski brothers’ movie about a dystopian society battling the machines solidified Keanu’s place in film history, that’s for sure.   Aside from the almost universally despised sequels, the first Matrix shocked the everloving hell out of everyone and really, didn’t everyone want to see Keanu Reeves just kick ass and take names some more after seeing this?

Speed – Here Reeves played the uber-brave, “I always get my man” kind of SWAT dude by the name of Jack Traven.   Sure, Speed wasn’t the best movie ever made, but Bruckheimer and Bay have essentially been riffing off of Speed and creating variations thereof for years, right?   And we liked Sandra and Keanu together.   Dennis Hopper’s bad guy Howard Payne is quoted muchly amongst my older sister and I when we’re together, mainly because no one delivers lines quite like Crazy Dennis Hopper.   (Pass the ether, please?)   It was fun and the epitome of the popcorn movie, and I can tell you that Older Sister and I have probably both watched this millions of times, primarily for Keanu Reeves’ Arms, which should’ve had a movie of their own.   (Seriously.   Damn.   The man had smokin’ arms in this one.)


Point Break – Keanu’s an FBI agent, and he’s not going to let you forget that.   I mean, I can understand how Point Break has it’s good points (because I love it, I’m not going to lie) but that doesn’t mean it’s bad.  When your entire movie rests on the shoulders of Gary “I’m On Crack” Busey and Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze has to seriously shore up the movie as one of the main bad dude surfers, you have a problem.   Bonus points for hilarious, unintentional comedy between Busey and Reeves.   This is why Keanu Reeves needs a good director.   No offense, Director of Point Break.

A Walk In The Clouds – Okay, this movie was so bad, I don’t remember that much of it.   I remember I saw it because, well, Keanu Reeves was in it.  I remember there was a lot of awkwardness, a pregnant chick, some forced and stilted dialogue, and wasn’t there something about stomping grapes in there, too?   Or was that Captain Corelli’s Mandolin?   Oh my god, no one should ever confuse your movie with Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.   That alone is a pretty big “oh, no” kind of signal, but I remember when this movie came out there was a lot of pointing and laughing and snorting at Keanu’s expense.   Oh, Keanu.

Chain Reaction – Y’all, Keanu Reeves played a science researcher.   That’s right, deep breaths and laugh it out.   I mean, it was a forgettable science-action thriller of the early to mid nineties, but Keanu Reeves as a science researcher?   Are you joking with me?    Who decided on that as being believable?   Come on, I love the man, but we all know he’s been smoking something for years that will not allow him to correctly spell things like “depleted uranium”.   Gimme a break.


Youngblood – Keanu (very early on in his career) played a hockey goalie in this Rob Lowe tour de force.   Did you know that Reeves actually was a hockey goalie before becoming an actor?   He was.   This movie’s not awful because of Keanu Reeves.  It’s mainly awful because of the terrible script, the cliches and eye rolling worth crap contained in the movie, the combined suckitude of Rob Lowe and apparently a consistently drunk Patrick Swayze, but Keanu certainly didn’t help matters any.

Johnny Mnemonic – Okay, I love this movie.  It’s certified 100% 1,416 and Counting Movie Crack, for sure.   But god, is this movie terrible.  I mean, the special effects are horrible, the dialogue is awful and Keanu’s delivery makes it really, really laughable (literally).   It always shocks me that Dina Meyer still finds work as an actress because she is that terrible (who else would be in Starship Troopers and Bats, in an unironic way).  Henry Rollins is in this, which I imagine took him years to live down, for God’s sake.   Let me put it to you this way:  the fate of humanity comes to rest on Ice-T, Keanu Reeves, Dina Meyer and a goddamn dolphin.   Yes, a DOLPHIN.  Who can hack the Internets, or something.   No, I wasn’t on drugs when I watched this.  That really is the plot.

The Devil’s Advocate – Hey, does anyone remember a time when Al Pacino played another character besides Al Pacino?   I mean, Pacino’s schtick gets old, fast.   And haha, he’s playing THE DEVIL!   Keanu Reeves’ Southern accent is suitably atrocious, and poor Keanu looked so lost and confused throughout the entire thing.  Even Charlize Theron looked like she had no clue what to do.  It’s a miserable little movie, one that is wholly unfulfilling and doesn’t give you much to work with in the end.   And it certainly doesn’t help that half the movie it feels like Reeves is begging Al Pacino to help him carry the movie and all Al can do is make with the crazy eyes and say, “Look at me, I’m Al Pacino!”   A god awful movie, for sure, but one that’s not even god awful enough to mock or be good-bad; it’s just awful.

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