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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.

MONDAY – HORROR

NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET III:  DREAM WARRIORS

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!

SUSPIRIA

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?

TUESDAY – MUSICALS

THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG

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!

GUYS AND DOLLS

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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