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Archive for December, 2008

Happy New Year!

Thank GOD 2009 is almost here!

I’ll be spending tonight attending a hockey game (Stars vs. Devils, in case you’re interested), but since I’ll probably be laying low the next couple of days, a bit early – here is your hot old man of the month for January:

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Oh yes, it’s Alan Rickman.   And if you have the audacity to wonder why?

Any man who is tapped to play the voice of God must have one hell of a set of vocal cords, yes?

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Endings Blog-a-Thon: Clue

Oh, that sneaky little dude we all love named J.D. He nearly snuck his Endings Blog-a-Thon by me but he wasn’t quick enough!

When I think of endings, I think of the only movie that has multiple endings.  Actually, it has multiple justified endings (Lord of the Rings:  Return of the King, I shan’t say anything at all.  Much) that make sense within the story, which is essentially a variant on playing the actual board game.

Given the fact that the premise of Clue is, as above, based on a board game, there was a lot for the writers to create.

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Just as you played the board game with different endings, so ends Clue.    Each ending retains certain similarities; the quote “Communism was just a red herring” is used in each, as is the chandelier crashing to the floor of the foyer.

That’s what could have happened, right?   But here’s what really happened…

The final ending is just the icing on the cake.  Instead of leaving anyone out, every character is guilty of something.

Mr. Green: “They all did it!  But if you want to know who killed Mr. Boddy, I did.  In the Hall, with the revolver.   Take ’em away, chief…I’m going to go home and sleep with my wife.”

For a movie based on a board game, Clue is sharply written even withstanding that fact.    Such wittiness is reflected right there in the distinct endings portrayed, with the final being a well-intentioned wink and a nod to the game.   Every character commits a crime with every weapon in every room.   No viewer is left out, not even the lame guy in the back who was picked last for dodgeball and could never figure out that it was Professor Plum in the conservatory with the candlestick.    Clue manages some incisively snarky humor throughout the film, directed more at ’50’s Americana than the game itself, but it returns to its humble roots in the end and that…that is where it really shines.

In this age of the forgettable adaptation of everything (I am looking at you, whoever is making Monopoly into a movie), you have to wonder…why don’t people look back as a guidepost to Clue?   It’s a solid movie with a stunner series of endings – endings that can only work because of its pedestrian but unique inspiration.

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Here is the inherent problem with Domino: As a slick, uber-stylized action flick with no basis in reality, it’s actually kind of fun.   Sure, it’s outlandish and over the top, but some of the best action flicks are.   However…

Domino was marketed as and is supposed to be the life story of Domino Harvey, a bounter hunter from Los Angeles that stood out because she was female and because she was the daughter of Laurence Harvey and a fashion model.  Domino the movie is a souped-up, ultra-stylish version of Harvey’s life on PCP.

You can ask viewers to suspend a lot of disbelief, but asking them to suspend this much disbelief (multiple shootouts, a climax ending in massive explosions, lots of dead bodies and a twisty-turny plot, as well as Keira Knightley as a badass) is almost criminal.   Domino Harvey led what was in essence a very different life and she did not even make it to see the finished product, dying of a drug overdose before the movie was completed.

If you regard Domino as standard action fare, then it is not a disappointing waste of time; Tony Scott actually makes the film look very cool with the way he shot and processed it.   The ridiculous aspects of the film are humorous, but typical, and they can be enjoyable.

The problem lies in asking a viewer to believe that this life story is based in any sort of fact beyond the basic outline of Domino’s life, especially when she met a tragic end shortly before the film’s release.   Tiresome are the life philosophies of Film Domino and it’s regretful that the Real Domino never had a chance to appropriately comment on her thoughts on the film.

Aside from the fact that Keira Knightly looks like a shotgun recoil would break her shoulder blade clean in two and she looks awfully out of place as a no-nonsense, tough as nails kind of girl, it is a fun movie – as long as you can fully distance it from the real life person with the admittedly, probably more interesting story that could have been told.   It is a film that takes enormous liberties with its subject matter and should be treated as such.

That being said, compared to shit like Gigli, this stuff looks like it could’ve won an Academy Award, and I’ll take Knightley looking as though she’s just sucked lemons as an attempt to come off as a grimacing, tough bounty hunter any day over Lopez as a lesbian gangster.

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As far as the “big name” Hollywood films on the Worst Movies Ever slate, I do have to say that this festering pile of puke is the worst.   BY FAR.

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Larry Gigli (Affleck) is a rank and file mob guy who is entrusted with a task by his boss:   to babysit the mentally handicapped brother of a federal prosecutor while the mob boss puts the screws to the prosecutor.   Gigli does as he’s told, only to have a beautiful cohort show up, enlisted to keep the buffoonish Gigli on task and out of trouble.  The fact that she’s a lesbian only complicates things for the two.

It’s not fair to call Gigli a trainwreck, because that would imply that a proverbial train had left the station.   No, this one is doomed from the beginning.   Affleck and Lopez, for all their real-life relationship drama, have no chemistry whatsoever.   The puppet sex scenes in Team America had more spark than these two.

The idea and themes of the movie aren’t difficult, but Affleck’s character is a complete and total idiot.   He’s without charm or any sort of affable quality; instead he meanders through life, a greasy, ill-mannered slob who is unsympathetic at the least.   Lopez’s character of Ricki, the lesbian mob gal, is equally unappetizing.   She’s meant to be an articulate, educated person who attempts to smarten Gigli up a bit, but Lopez never, ever appears to seemingly grasp the philosophy spouting forth from her lips.    When she does, it comes across as pandering and vaguely coherent; in fact, pandering is the best way to describe her in this film, as she only seems fully comfortable in the scenes where she has to utilize her body or show off her distinctly ample ass.    An ass is a difficult thing on which to center a role.

Even with Affleck and Lopez stinking up the joint, you could hope to find passable sustenance in the supporting cast, but Justin Bartha’s turn as the mentally challenged person smacks less of honesty and more of a bad Saturday Night Live impression of Rain Man.   Christopher Walken and Al Pacino turn in boring performances that only run a few minutes long.

All in all, that’s not enough to justify it as a Worst Movie Ever; what finally lumps it into that category are several things, most importantly being the ending premise of the movie that has two separate prongs.   The first is the mild, anti-climactic resolution at the end.  Every story has conflict, and Gigli’s quiet questioning of his life and his career isn’t enough to satisfy the payoff at the end, where he and Ricki walk off into the sunset, scot-free.    Most of the movie is a rough mess of the two babysitting a parody of a brain-damaged person, so there’s no satisfying end to the movie.  Secondly, the premise that a lesbian can fall in love with a man and suddenly have a “change of heart” is offensive at best – what furthers that from offensive into eye-rolling territory is that Ricki would ever even find something to find attractive about the obnoxious Gigli.   I have to say, I vaguely remember lesbian and gay alliances being wound up something wicked about Ricki’s sudden move into a heterosexual relationship and I can now say for good cause; it’s blatantly stupid, completely off-base and pretty ignorant.   What is the real slap in the face is that the supposed educated Ricki would find anything attractive about the schlubby Gigli, who only experiences a minutiae of growth due to severe, serious pushing by Ricki, and even then only wants to experience a carefree life free of hassles, as long as he gets the pretty lesbian.

It’s a shallowly unsympathetic movie that is boring, not entertaining and absurdly vacuous.   Out of all of the big-name, box office bombs that I’ve watched, it really is the worst of the worst, mainly because it is just all over the place, really.   If there’s any good parts to it, I was too distracted by the bad to notice the good.

Then again, I still have I Know Who Killed Me to watch, so that could easily dethrone Gigli. Maybe.

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I didn’t really know how to review this one. I walked around a lot, thinking to myself out loud. I puzzled, I brainstormed, I concentrated. “Self,” I said, “How in the world do you do justice to Armageddon? I mean, it would be helpful if ‘Michael Bay’ were an adjective, because all the unholy suckitude contained in his movies could be summed up in the world michaelbay, thereby cutting this to the quick. I don’t know, I feel as though it’s cheating to just say: MICHAELBAY.”

And then I nodded with myself, as I am bananas, and went to go look at the IMDB page for Armageddon, where lo and behold, it was a Christmas miracle as inspiration struck. I felt like a Who down in Whoville!

I came upon the trivia pages where this little factoid stuck out at me:

Regarding the film’s premise, Ben Affleck asked director Michael Bay, “Wouldn’t it be easier for NASA to train astronauts how to drill rather than training drillers to be astronauts?” Bay told Affleck to shut up.

You know me. I have the condition known as “overactive imagination” and this sentence immediately made that condition go into overdrive. I imagined Bay screaming profanity at Affleck, tiny dribbles of spittle forming at the corners of his mouth, before he began to claw at his hair and convulse. I could see Bay topping his tantrum off by flinging himself into the craft services table, where he began to spasm angrily and flail his limbs aggressively while screaming, “FUCK YOU, AFFLECK!” amongst half-stale donuts, coffee stirrers and powdered creamer.

So, thus, a review of Armageddon in conversations with Michael Bay.

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Charlton Heston:  Look, Michael, as flattered as I am to be narrating a thirty second spot of dialogue for the beginning of the movie, doesn’t this feel unnecessary?   And perhaps baiting the audience, a bit?

Michael Bay: Shut the fuck up, Moses, and add more gravitas.

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Editor: Michael, are you sure you want that on there?   “A Michael Bay Film”?

Michael Bay: Keep your trap shut, moron.   Everyone will know that this work of epic genius is mine, all mine!   My words, my thoughts…my fireballs exploding awesomely!

Editor: Good point.  I think we should keep this on the shitty…er, I mean, completely amazing film.

(more…)

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A Merry Early Christmas to You

First of all, have you joined the cool kids club known as Twitter?   Just a reminder that you can follow 1,416 and Counting updates on Twitter.

Secondly, to the good and great people who read this blog:   a very merry Christmas to all of you.   To all those who have read, commented and participated in this blog, you have my many great thanks.

As of this post, this is my 200th post, and the blog has a little over 34,500 hits since starting here on WordPress in February of this year.    My dashboard tells me that 1,637 comments have been left on 1,416 and Counting since it’s inception (probably half of those are mine, you know).   In comparison to many other blogs on the great and good Internets, 34,500 hits and almost 1,700 comments is diddly-squat, but I have to tell you that I could never have imagined that I would ever reach that number some months ago when I started.

To the many people who have stopped by, commented, read, linked me on your own blogs and others’ blogs:  you have given me an already fantastic present — the gift of your valuable time, which is so very much appreciated.

I don’t know that I could repay the favor to all of you, but I do hope all of you have a very safe and merry Christmas, Hannukah, or whatever holiday you may celebrate at this time of the year.

In the meantime, I’m working on Armageddon but the epic, arrogant, egotistical Bay-ness deserves the full, healthy workup, so expect that tomorrow night, and I’ll catch all y’all on Saturday.

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They should’ve just called it “Testosterone in Overdrive”.

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Brian Spilner is an undercover police agent assigned to infiltrate a group of fast-living street racers whom the police suspect are guilty of organizing and perpetrating raids on 18 wheelers carrying high priced loads of electronics.   Spilner successfully gets into the tight-knit group of racers but doesn’t count on befriending the leader, Dominic Toretto, or falling in love with his sister, Mia.

At first glance, The Fast and The Furious is a slick, souped up flick that features cars, girls and more car races than you can count on your fingers, but upon closer examination the terrible flaws in the movie begin to stand out.    It’s not even suitable enough to be movie crack, I’ll put it that way, that’s for sure.

I mean, it’s just terrifically awful in every sense.  While the car chases and cars are impressive, Ja Rule (what the hell was he doing in this movie anyways?) pontificates philosophically to Brian that “it’s not how you stand by your car, it’s how you race your car”.   Wow.    How deep is that?   I believe a wise man once said, “No shit, Sherlock”.   Hey, what can you say?   The same guy that wrote this movie wrote S.W.A.T. (and remarkably enough, Training Day, which is light years better).

It’s pretty clear to everyone involved throughout the movie that Brian is a cop and that the Toretto team is indeed the gang responsible for the trailer heists, but no one seems to fully clue into this.   You wonder at times if these people aren’t in need of a crash helmet and a Sherpa guide just to survive through everyday life.

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Paul Walker really is no great shakes.    There’s something tiring about watching a man struggle through a movie; at times it’s as though you can see the rusty wheels turning in his head as Walker attempts to remember his lines, contort his face and hit his mark appropriately.  It’s awkward, it’s forced, and it’s at times really painful to watch.

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Walker’s character, Spilner, is so incredibly thick that it’s draining to watch.   He avoids thinking even remotely about the fact that Toretto could be the truck robber that it’s spasm-inducing to watch.

But more than anything, the heavy overdose of testosterone and uber-manliness  is what finally wears a stretched movie raw.

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Toretto feuds with other racers; his own team feuds with each other and it’s a strange brew of men proving themselves through women, cars and pure violence.   It’ll make your eyes roll right on out of your head because I anticipated at least someone either pissing on another person’s leg to mark their territory, a headbutt, or a “Me Tarzan, You Jane” moment by the end of the film.

The ending hinges on Brian and his choices as a police officer and a friend and he chooses to let Toretto have the easy way out and escape.  When I was a kid, my dad used to call movies like these “lowest common denominator” movies, in the sense that only the lowest common denominator of the population would attend and not question what they had just seen – like the massive gaping plotholes and ridiculous aspects of the film, as well as the movie’s message – but instead love the movie for the slick, surface glossiness.

The Fast and the Furious is little more than a thin, dribbling gruel of macho style and it’s not very entertaining even for that.

What is shocking is that they will now have squeezed three sequels out of this thing when they weren’t pumping much into the first one in the first place.

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