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Archive for February, 2009

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If you want a movie as dull as a box of rusty razorblades, then Glitter is definitely your ticket.    Talk about a snoozefest…

A struggling singer – Mariah Carey – was abandoned by her single, lounge singer mother at a young age and since then, she’s been struggling for professional acclaim and the ability to find her mom.  A promoter comes along and offers Billie, the young singer, and her two friends a job in a group.  It really turns out to be that Billie is the real singer while another girl, Sylk, gets all the credit for the vocals.  A DJ spots her as the real singer and from there, Billie’s career takes off, but can she survive choices between friends and careers?   And what, pray tell, will Billie do when the promoter comes back for his chunk of the pie, putting her on-the-rocks relationship with the DJ in peril?

If you’re already bored senseless, then imagine stretching out that overworn plot into a two hour movie.    Here’s a shocker:  Mariah Carey in my opinion isn’t as awful as everyone made her out to be.   She’s barely passable as an actress but I have to say, I’ve seen a lot worse in the past few months.   What’s really sickening about this one is the performance of the supporting cast.   See Terrence Howard before he was all well-known, cheesing it up as a sleazy promoter.   See Da Brat, she of The Surreal Life and rap fame, playing one of Mariah Carey’s best buds in what may be the most annoying yet bland portrayals I’ve ever seen of the best friend/hanger on.

More than anything, Glitter refuses to deviate from the clichés of movies before it, nor does it offer up anything spectacularly original or interesting.   Two hours of Maria Carey trying to make her celluloid mark isn’t very interesting at all.   I’ve had more fun during dental procedures.

Worse yet, Glitter is set in the ’80’s in a period of dance-pop and New York clubs, something which is decidedly not easy on the eyes.   Two words:   camel. toe.   It’s not pretty and it’s not any easier to look at in spandex, stretch polyester or some sort of silver-y outfit that looks vaguely space age.   (You could probably cover the space station with the material from that outfit).   It doesn’t bring on any warm feelings of nostalgia to see people running around in hot pink and hats with the brims flipped up; it adds another layer of cringe to an already sad, vapid movie.

The ending of Glitter is indicative of the whole movie:   the now-famous, successful daughter shows up in a limo and spangly formal dress to meet her long-lost mother who has turned into Suzy Homemaker out in the country.   Trite, boring, and uninteresting, it’s amazing the few theatergoers who braved Glitter made it out of the theater without leaving copious amounts of vomit in their respective wakes.

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On Saturday, Ajay and I attended the Best Picture Showcase at AMC Northpark, which showed all five Best Picture nominees in one day.    This was made possible by the kind people at AMC who let me take along someone with me.

All in all, it was a fairly enjoyable day; and outside of the fact that AMC let me go for free, I would’ve gladly paid to go see this.  (You can’t beat $30 for an all day pass for five movies plus free snacks.)

In the interest of time and saving your Google Readers and whatnot, below here are my thoughts on each of the Best Pic nominees:

The Reader: Easily the most disappointing film of the day.   Scott has a great post here on it and I can’t disagree with much he says.   For a movie about German guilt post-Holocaust, there’s really not much guilt.   Hannah Schmitz, the character accused of war crimes, is remorseful for very little.  “The dead are still dead,” she tells Ralph Fiennes’ character.   And Ralph Fiennes doesn’t do a lot of wallowing in guilt.   He mainly feels sorry for himself and sorry for Hannah.   Not much time is spent reflecting on the actual atrocities that happened which Hannah’s been convicted for.   Michael’s own sense of personal shame at boinking a Nazi prevents him from doing the right thing and admitting a key piece of evidence during a trial.

It’s two hours of a combination of self-pity and stubborn refusal to own up to any sense of personal responsibility.   When Michael’s finally taken to task at the end of the movie for being pretty much a self-centered jerk, it’s nothing the audience hasn’t been thinking for the previous two hours.   I can see what the filmmakers intended for the message to be, but they missed the mark.

Frost/Nixon: Good, but not great.   I do have to say that I’m personally really burned out on Nixon movies, myself, and this does little to offer up anything new to the Richard Nixon Cinematic Mythos.   I liked Frank Langella and the rest of the cast, it’s just that the subject matter is really, really tired.   And it was just kind of a decent film – not something I’d give an Oscar.

Slumdog Millionaire:   I was so relieved that Piper over at Lazy Eye Theatre didn’t seem to think that Slumdog was the film equivalent of sunshine, rainbows and puppy dogs.  Honestly, I thought I was the only one.   To be frank, I liked the way the story was outlined and I liked the performances from all involved.   What I felt was middling was the direction from Danny Boyle – fanboys, set your phasers to ‘stun’, I guess – which is just the same old bag of tricks from him.   I would see certain shots and realize, “Oh, yeah, I’m watching a DANNY BOYLE film, that’s for sure”.   He’s not a bad director, it’s just that this definitely isn’t the best Danny boy’s done, and I don’t think it was a Best Picture winner, for sure.   Also – I really didn’t get the whole ‘feel-good’ aspect of it that other people seemed to get from the movie.   A kiss at the end does not balance the two hours of brutality and poverty I witnessed before.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – More like “Give me an intermission for a bathroom break”.   In serious need of editing, that’s for sure.   Also, the film runs awkwardly; the beginning all the way up until about 1955 felt stilted at times and definitely slow as molasses.   Once you hit the ’50’s, it hits a good stride and you don’t notice it anymore.    Cate Blanchett and Taraji P. Henson were amazing.   Brad Pitt – I hate to say it – was kind of cardboard-y.

Milk – easily the best film we saw that day.   Everything ran smoothly and nothing felt slow.   Sean Penn was an absolute knockout and I say that as someone who loathes Sean Penn.   And talk about a talented group of supporting actors.   Franco and the lot were really, really good.   It was just a great movie all the way around and one that I personally felt was better than Slumdog, but that’s just me.

Did anyone else see any Best Picture nominees this year?

Also, I’ll have a couple of pictures up from the screening later on, if you’re interested.

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Academy Awards Liveblog

There’s so many questions for tonight. Will we see a new and exciting Oscar broadcast? Will there be any surprises? More importantly, will we see Hugh Jackman shirtless? Deep, meaningful questions, you know.

Right now, they’re running the red carpet so as soon as the actual ceremony starts, I’ll be blogging with updates at every commercial break, so there you go.

My reviews of the Best Picture Nominees will be up shortly as I have just now fully recovered from sitting in a theater all day yesterday, but I have to say thanks to the great AMC people who let me and Ajay attend yesterday. Thanks, guys!

And in case you’re wondering, the nasty sinus infection I have is not doing anything but exacerbating my natural combination of cynicism and sarcasm.

7:30: Duly impressed by the curtain that seems to be made entirely out of diamonds. They probably had Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio back stage weaving that in exchange for the two finally getting a damn Oscar.

7:37: Hugh Jackman is knocking out a powerful musical number surrounded by sets that look purposely constructed from salvage yard materials. Poor Hugh Jackman. He’s not a great singer but you can tell he’s hearkening back to Billy Crystal. Incidentally, he does sing better than Billy Crystal, that’s for sure.

7:39: Hugh is talking to Mickey Rourke and holy shit, does Mickey look like an ex-pat drug dealer from Tijuana? WHAT IS UP WITH THAT SILVER FRONT TOOTH, Mickey Roarke? You crazy, crazy man.

7:42: Woah, they brought back Tilda Swinton, Eva Marie Saint, Whoopie Goldbert, Goldie Hawn and Anjelica Huston for this award? Tilda, incidentally looks fiercely amazing, even though she’s wearing a knotted up flour sack. With lipstick.

Also, I love that they wrote a Sister Act joke for Whoopie Goldberg…but the ass-kissing overkill that each lady is introducing is eyerolling. “Love is timeless”, eh, Goldie Hawn? Yeah, no shit.

Cruz wins the award for Vicky Cristina Barcelona…I have no comment. I hate Woody Allen films. Yeah, go ahead, eviscerate me in the comments. I HATE WOODY ALLEN AND I WILL NOT BE ASHAMED. But Cruz is pretty sweet.

(more…)

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Please Excuse The Mess

This weekend it’s my goal to start getting the blog set up under its own domain and everything nifty like that so we shall see how that goes.   If stuff goes a little haywire, my apologies and please stick with me, since I’m definitely technology-challenged.  Hmm.

A friendly reminder that Saturday I’ll be tweeting all day at the AMC Best Picture Showcase here in Dallas with reader Ajay, so check out my twitter and follow along if that’s your thing.

…And lastly, since all the cool kids are doing it, I have an Amazon store.   No, really!  All you have to do is click here and surf through it (it’s in the very early stages).   Hmph.  You can also click on the link in the sidebar.

That’s about it for now, I think.   Wait, am I forgetting something?   No?  Yes.   Yes…maybe?   Who knows.

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See if you can spot the addition I made to Troll 2‘s incredible movie poster:

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Yes, when your movie is called TROLL 2 and has nary a troll in it, I think that’s a good barometer for how the rest of the movie will pan out.   (Wikipedia says that it was renamed Troll 2 to tie it to a “better known” movie or whatever but who cares.   It’s still got “Troll” in the title.)

Troll 2 starts out in a boring fashion as a family in a quiet suburb has decided to do an exchange with another family from a small town called Nilbog.   (Spell it backwards.)   Youngest child Joshua is a normal boy, save for the whole “talking to his dead grandad” part of the equation.   Dead Grandad used to read Joshua bedtime stories about evil goblins (I wonder what that could be…backwards) and shows up fortuitously to warn Joshua that the town of Nilbog is a place of great evil.    Grandpa’s reduced to being a disembodied head in a mirror with an added dash of doom and gloom.

Joshua’s nagging and annoying older sister somehow convinces her boyfriend to come along for the ride but tears into him about bringing his friends along everywhere.   The reason I mention this is because the boyfriend’s stupid enough to bring his friends along to Nilbog .  He’s also stupid enough to listen to the screeching overtones of a harpy that’s let her perm sit too long and sink into her brain.

The family heads out to Nilbog but Joshua is informed via Dead Grandpa not to let any of the family eat any food in Nilbog.   It turns out these goblins spike people’s food and turn them in vegetables, which in turn they eat.   It turns out they’re vegetarian goblins and he warns Joshua that the family is in mortal peril.

It leads to one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen in a movie – Joshua takes a leak on the family’s dinner to prevent them from eating it.

It’s understandable that Joshua’s dad is more than a little peeved; he utters a quote that psycho-rabid fans of the movie love.   “You can’t piss on hospitality!”   Indeed, Joshua’s dad, indeed. However, it does appear that you can urinate on roofied food that will turn you into an ugly spatter of zucchini slime.   I don’t think that counts as pissing on hospitality.

The rest of the movie is basically the family and the caravan of the boyfriend and his friends running around the town, getting vegetabled? vegetated? vegetized? as the family comes to the shocking realization that Joshua’s actually right.   Of course, it only takes their house being surrounded by the entire town and telling them that they will eat their food or DIE VIOLENTLY to kind of shake them awake to reality, but come on guys – when haven’t you found yourself in that situation?

It’s not without some hilarity though.  Troll 2 is not just a “worst movie ever” for it’s lack of trolls.   It’s also famous for employing non-professionals in acting capacities, so the entire movie is kind of acted out like this:

Whoever this man is, I want to thank him for greatly enriching my life.   It’s been a long time since I giggled that hard and it was worth the Dr. Pepper that went up my nose for it.   “OH MY GAWWWWDDD,” truly.    The actors making up the townsfolk either work in two ways:   You are either treated to a shot of a catatonic person with terrible hair, or you’re treated to scenes of “acting”, by which I mean that every scene consists of high drama and creepy overdone physicality ALL THE TIME.

What’s hilarious is you have to wonder if someone realized a day into this shoot how terrifically awful this film would be and said, “Aw, fuck it, let’s just make it awful as can be”.    At least that’s what I’d like to believe and I admire determination, myself.

I guess the icing on the cake for me is that shortly before Dead Grandpa goes bye-bye he offers up a brown sack to Joshua to use in a case of “mortal danger” – a secret, dreaded weapon that can wipe out the goblins.   What would it be?   What could possibly wipe out the hordes of latex-covered, sack-cloth wrapped, food doping goblins?

Believe me when I say, my sweets, that I’m not lying about this – HAND ON THE HEART – that the secret weapon is a double decker bologna sandwich.   Oscar goddamn Meyer is the ONE THING that takes these hideous, vegetarian creatures out.   Good old fashioned American pork byproduct saves the day again!

I haven’t told you all the good (bad) stuff about Troll 2, mainly because it’s fun to watch (if you’re planning on knocking back a few).   And who knows, you might want to watch it and have a few funny scenes come your way, but please be prepared (and don’t forget your bologna sandwich).

I don’t even know why people take drugs when there’s movies like Troll 2 to be watched.

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I have previously reviewed House of the Dead here but it was submitted for the Worst Movies Ever, so I rewatched it.   Again.   I think this is the third time around.  It gets more abysmal every time I watch it.

I’d ruminate on what exactly is wrong with Uwe Boll but I find myself afraid to even contemplate it a bit.   See, he can’t be making Michael-Bay-esque millions off these slightly above straight to DVD flicks.   I don’t imagine Uwe Boll continues to churn out vomitous schlock merely so he can swim through mountains of deutschmarks like Scrooge McDuck.  I also don’t imagine that he considers what he makes good.   Boll has never struck me as a film freak or fan, but someone who just views this as his job, his 9-5 profession.   What, then, drives him to turn out movie after movie based on a slew of less than stellar videogames?   Is it a pathological need to not be famous but notorious?   I have no clue and I don’t really know that I want to find out.

All I know is that if someone lets him do another movie with a gratuitous amount of 360 degree shots in it, I will not be held responsible when I call in sick to work and tuck in to watch Die Hard 27 times straight to get the Boll-stink out of my head.

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Is the abyss looking back into me?  Not sure.

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Yahoo Movie Mom, I respectfully disagree.

There’s a certain sense of dread and sadness that I feel when Netflix rentals arrive in the mail.   This sense was only amplified when I tore open an envelope to reveal this piece of work and I wish I was wrong about it.  I really, really wish I had something nice to say.

Bratz, in case you don’t know, are a bunch of dolls that have freaky overlarge heads and crackhead eyes that sell like hotcakes to little girls.  Of course they had to have a live-action movie tie-in; that’s pure, good business sense, right?

The overwhelming theme of the movie is to stay true to oneself and to overcome the power of cliques; each of the Bratz has talents in a specific area that a snobby girl at their new high school uses to force them into specific social groups.   Two years down the line, they never talk and it takes a school food fight to reconcile the friends.   The snobby, authoritarian girl at the school will not let them flaunt the rules as such, however, and most of the movie is devoted to the Bratz versus Snob Girl.

Try as I might I can’t look back to my teen/tween years and imagine liking this at all.  For all the schmaltz about “best friends forever!” and “loving yourself for who you are” the movie’s chock full of non-acceptance; geeks are given makeovers, the math nerd who the brainy Brat falls for has his glasses pulled by her immediately.   Honestly, for all the movie’s exhortations that it is about self-love and acceptance, it’s too shallow to get that far.   It’s more about the pretty costumes and stupid jokes it’s busy cracking, too busy patting itself on the back for including relatable girls from all backgrounds, too intensely focused on the girls’ bond that seems sealed as much by fashion as it is by some semblance of friendship.

I’m tired of watching movies made for little girls and grown-up girls that focus on the healing power of chit-chat about lip gloss or picking out stylish outfits together.   One girl is into science and math; one is a talented soccer player; one is into journalism and singing and the last is a cheerleader extraordinaire.   Yet the girls spent countless hours – as much time as they do, if not more, on their own personal strengths, talking about lip gloss and high heels and perfect accessories.   Look, I don’t doubt this is important to women.   Stupid lip glosses are important to me – I recently found the perfect shade of apricot lip gloss, but I didn’t spend twenty minutes waxing poetic about it to my best friend and I never did when I was in junior high.

I long for a movie for girls that does not push this stuff on them hand over fist.  I can’t imagine the target audience for Bratz is actually high-school age, probably younger – and while there’s nothing wrong with being obsessed with fashion, I’m tired of almost every female character I watch in movies – for young women and old – seemingly driven and obsessed by something as perfunctory as mascara.  Clothes and makeup are but one part of life for anyone and I wish… I really wish… that some movies really and truly reflected that for women.

And while the Bratz girls fall apart at the seams, they’re too perfect to feel real.   The ending of the movie, where the girls form some sort of super singing group to defeat the Snob Girl at the talent show, simultaneously gain acceptance from their parents and win the approval of their school just feels hollow and stupid.   Perhaps I shouldn’t hold it to higher standards, but it’s boring and lame.   If I were twelve?   I would’ve rather watched The Blues Brothers, but then again, I was a weird kid, I suppose.   It’s so heavy on the schmaltz you feel almost like you’re in a sugar-coma by the end of the flick and there’s nothing satisfying about it.

I suppose kids might find it feel-good, or inspiring, or whatever, but I just see another marketing tie-in with a thin veneer of self-help babble laid over the top.

Blech.

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