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Archive for the ‘Movie Crack’ Category

Nothing like celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with some stereotypical, unrealistic, Lucky Charms-accented Irishmen, eh?

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The Boondock Saints takes place in South Boston, where a pair of Irish immigrant twins, Connor and Murphy McManus (played by Sean Patrick Flannery and Norman Reedus) are living in near squalor, attending church faithfully and working in a meatpacking plant.   A twist of fate lands them in a situation where they realize that they have a chance to take out society’s trash and act accordingly, believing it to be a mission from God.   Special Agent Paul Smecker of the FBI is hunting the killers, believing them to be mixed up in a mafia war.   The McManus brothers have a friend, Rocco, who’s a ne’er-do-well package boy for the Italian mob that begins to help them after he does nothing but royally screw himself all the way through the film.  All storylines intertwine at the end, depicting a hyper-stylized version of what happens when you take “justice” into your own hands.

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Let’s get it out of the way first:  I never understood the hardcore Boondock Saints fans.   I love the movie but mainly because it’s an over-the-top epic; entertaining, yes, but completely absurd.   I lived with this guy in my dorm in college who used to draw the twins’  “VERITAS” and “AEQUITAS” tattoos on his hand, who took the film so seriously that it was almost hilarious.   He also looked like a velociraptor, but that’s a story for another time.   Anyways, there are a lot of people who love this movie as if it is the Holy Gospel of Irish Saintly Men Killing People.   You won’t find that here.

Take for instance, Connor and Murphy McManus.   These twins are devoutly Catholic, sport any number of religious tattoos and work in a meatpacking plant.   Yet they also speak eight thousand languages, are well versed in fighting, guns and killing folks, and generally seem to be perfect.  They’re also your stereotypical hard-drinking Irishmen.

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When Agent Smecker shows up, it’s because the McManus brothers have killed two Russian mob guys who attacked them in their home.   He’s paired with three of the most brainless Boston cops ever, to the point of being unbeliveable.  Detective Greenlee, pictured above, theorizes that the mob guys were smushed to death walking home from St. Patrick’s Day celebrations by a “huge fuckin’ guy”.  If Detective Greenlee is representative of the Boston Police Force, then there must be a slew of families in Boston who have been told their family members were stomped to death by the Jolly Green Giant, smothered by the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and assaulted by the Tooth Fairy.   Smecker promptly schools the detectives and continues to brow-beat and deride them throughout the entire movie.

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The only way this could get more cliché is if these two had donuts stuck in their claws.   Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Willem Dafoe remains the prime reason to see this movie.   Willem Dafoe as Agent Smecker is an eccentric nutso.   Dafoe swallows every scene up, masticates it and spits it back out at the audience.   It’s hard to notice anything else on screen, which is why I think so many people are disappointed he’s not coming back for the sequel.

Dafoe’s Puccini-listening FBI agent who’s barely holding on to his sanity throughout the investigation reaches his prime point at the most audacious, ostentatious part of the whole shebang.   The McManus brothers and their bumbling friend Rocco go after a made man who’s a “sick fuck”, only to be confronted by a hired gun named Il Duce.   The Italian mob has hired Il Duce to dispose of the pesky Saints and the two sides do their damndest to blow each other away right in the middle of suburbia.

The suburban firefight is probably the most memorable part of the movie save for one scene, primarily because Willem Dafoe goes completely fucking crazy.

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Watching the utter magic, no, the beauty of a crazed Willem Dafoe conducting a fake orchestra while he loses his everloving mind with the violence in the background is grade A stuff.

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It’s not as magical, however, as watching Willem Dafoe dress in drag and seduce mafia dudes to go in and rescue the Saints, who have been captured by the mafia guys.

When Il Duce is released from prison solely to tackle the Saints, his release is anything but subtle:

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Hello there, Billy Connolly.

A cage?

What’s perverse is the ending.    Il Duce turns out to be the twins’ long lost father; the three then team up with the Boston police department to take matters into their own hands and make sure a mafia don is punished ‘properly’ since it appears he will be acquitted at trial.   They, of course, cannot take a quiet approach.   They execute him in full view of the public at his trial.

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The Boondock Saints is not an understated film.   It’s loud, obnoxious and requires a tremendous sense of disbelief in many ways to buy it at all.   It’s through mainly Flannery, Reedus and Dafoe’s charm and quirk that the movie sails through, something the sequel may be lacking in since Dafoe won’t be there to manage the lion’s weight on his shoulders.    I don’t think that you would have had The Boondock Saints without the influence of Tarantino hanging spectral-like over the film.

For all that, the film is an enormous amount of fun, in its own way – overblown accents and gratuitous violence and all.   I’ll be shocked if the sequel can measure up to the original, but you never know.

(And if you’re looking for further stuff on the making of the movie, you can watch this awesome documentary called Overnight, which is about the writer/director’s meltdown through pre-production, shooting and post-production.   Strange stuff.)

Oh, and speaking of gratuitous…

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

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You know, I kind of have a love/hate relationship with Arnold Schwarzenegger.    It’s the predictability factor; you can count on any Arnold Schwarzenegger movie having some bad puns and the requisite “I’ll be back” quote but there’s something comforting in that.   He’s like Old Reliable; you can watch almost any Schwarzenegger movie and feel like you’ll be somewhat entertained and there’s no nasty surprises headed your way.

The Running Man was the first Schwarzenegger movie I have any memory of seeing; I still love it as much as I love Terminator 2.  Of course, T2 is the far superior film as The Running Man is pretty much a piece of ’80’s glitzy crap that remains at the bottom of Schwarzenegger’s resume.   It’s a movie that’s often forgotten.

As an adult, I’d probably mock this one to no end.   You know, your childhood days have a funny way of affecting your views on movies though.  I remember watching this one on cable with Older Sister when we first got cable – when cable seemed like something so new and fancy that my sisters and I nearly died when my parents signed up for cable service.   I estimate that Older Sister and I ran through several hundred viewings of The Running Man over the years either on lazy weekend afternoons or sugar-fueled late nights.   It’s funny, because we never mocked The Running Man but yet Older Sister and I made running cracks out of every other Schwarzenegger movie.

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These graphics were totally sophisticated. Er, for 1987. Can you tell?

The first thing you should know about The Running Man is that it’s based on a Stephen King book.   Granted, King wrote under his pseudonym Richard Bachman, but in my humble opinion, King starts out with a really good “What if?” kind of situation and gives it a great fleshing out.   Having a Stephen King story as your basis is a strong point.   It’s probably the best point of the movie, I think.

Of course, they changed it up from the original source material but… hey.

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Okay, so basic plot outline time.   Think of your typical dystopian future and add in Schwarzenegger as Ben Richards, an Army type who refuses to fire on civilians during a food riot and is relieved of command, but not before his subordinates carry out orders to kill the rioters, which include innocent women and children.   Richards is carefully portrayed to be the rogue soldier who caused all this and he is thrown in prison.

While in prison, Richards meets up with Weiss, a techy type who’s a part of The Resistance (they’re resisting lots of things, but mainly it seems to be ICS, the main television network) and Laughlin, a hardened fighter.  The three escape prison and Richards takes a woman hostage and forces her to travel with him to Hawaii to complete his escape.   Unluckily for him, she manages to rat him out – but not before a TV producer and host notices the escape footage of Richards.  The TV host is Damon Killian, the face of the world’s most popular television show, The Running Man, and he’ll stop at nothing to get Richards on the show.

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I can think of no finer example of genuine movie crack than Dracula 2000.

It’s a godawful movie.   It hammers you over the head with the subtext; the idea of (spoiler!) Dracula originally being Judas Iscariot is nothing new; it takes characters from the original Bram Stoker novel and warps them beyond recognition.   It’s nothing new or inventive, but yet it somehow manages to entertain me and my admittedly low standards.

The plot is ridiculously simple:    Van Helsing now owns an antiquities dealership in London, England.   He has stayed alive for many years to keep watch over Dracula by injecting Dracula’s blood and using its restorative powers to keep his body going.    (And here I thought milk alone did a body good.)    Some of his shifty employees break into his ubersecret vault to steal whatever precious jewels lay inside only to discover a single, silver coffin containing – GUESS WHO?    Ignorant of its contents, the sneaky employees smuggle it over to America to sell on the black market, but Van Helsing finds out and follows them.   A non-shifty employee of Van Helsing’s, Simon, tags along against Van Helsing’s wishes and soon discovers that Van Helsing has two missions:   recapture a now-escaped Dracula and protect his daughter Mary, who was born after Van Helsing started shooting himself up with Dracula essence.   This makes her a prime target for Dracula, who now wants her.   And not just in the whole “I shall suck your blood” kind of way.   More like the eternal kind of way.

Sucks to be Mary!

Jonny Lee Miller is in this movie and he is bad, bad, bad.  Not in a villainous way, in a “I really needed the money but I’m phoning this one in” way.   He’s got to be the most boring performance in the movie.   This movie could use a lot less Jonny Lee Miller.   He basically just runs around and is all English.    Really.   He pretty much is like, “Cheerio, where’s the Earl Grey?”  Oh, Jonny – you had such potential post-Trainspotting.   Stupid Sick Boy.

You know who else is in this movie?

VITAMIN C!

You guys remember her, right?   Her annoying Graduation Song is on the radio at the end of every school year; it’s practically a rite of passage nowadays to be forced to listen to this song on repeat if you’re graduating ANYTHING, I think.   Yep, she’s in this one too as Mary’s semi-skanky friend who thinks she’s going crazy.   Her name?   Wait for it…wait for it…Lucy Westenra.

Ohhh, yeah.   She’s nothing phenomenal as an actress, but she beats Mr. Union Jack Lee Miller up there, that’s for damn sure.

Here’s the selling point of the movie.   The one, the only…Gerard Butler.

Screencap courtesy of Movie Screenshots, since my screencapping software decided it was TOO GOOD to cap Dracula 2000.   Uh huh.

DAMN.

It really was the first movie role that brought Butler to the attention of American women everywhere and even I have to admit he looks positively gorgeous here.   Plus, I will say that Butler does pull off the whole ageless evil thing quite well, considering what he had to work with here (:cough: not much :cough:) and the quality of the acting near him.   Sure he’s cheesy at points but not only is he pretty, you can tell he doesn’t take himself QUITE that seriously as Dracula, which is actually…nice.

Bottom line is that the special effects are pretty awful and shockingly, Danny Masterson of That ’70’s Show Fame and Omar Epps, he of the future role of Dr. Foreman, put in bit appearances here.   It shouldn’t charm me.   The movie falls somewhere distinctly in the middle of the heap as vampire flicks go, but there’s something redeemably charming about the movie.   Is it doddering Christopher Plummer as Van Helsing?   Or perhaps Gerard Butler’s blank, vacant, listless Dracula?    Maybe it’s Dracula’s badly-acted Vampire Brides.   Who knows?

I probably have no excuse for liking it but what really puts me into the realm of the pathetic is the fact that I’ve seen at least one of the sequels (there are two).   And yes, they were nothing to write home about either – but they also lacked the charm of the first.

However, if you asked me any day to pick between Dracula 2000 and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I would easily choose the Gerard Butler fare ANYDAY over that Coppola piece of crap, even if it does have Gary Oldman in it.

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So, today was a blissfully serene day. I got some good sleep in; I lounged around for a while and did some nerdy things while I let my back rest a bit, since I apparently did something not nice to it this weekend. And after a while, I came to a startling realization: my day just would not be complete without a viewing of Lethal Weapon.

I love Lethal Weapon like some people love family members, you guys. Over the years, I have a steady stream of movies that I watch at Christmas and Lethal Weapon has become one of them. This year, I’m early on my viewing, but hey, whatever.

Two cops are partnered together with sometimes disastrous results, given the fact that Riggs (Gibson) is suicidal and Murtaugh (Glover) is a tightly-wound family man who’s just looking forward to retirement. They stumble upon an apparent suicide that turns out to be much more than that, and hey! Gary Busey is in this movie!

Ladies (and some gentlemen), do you remember a time when Mel Gibson was smoking hot? Ah, the days of old when Mel was cute as hell before the anti-Semitic comments and before drinking enough to classify his liver as a hazmat area and long before he looked like he was dragged over ten miles of bad road and then beat with an ugly stick.  It was a time when we could all watch Clueless and silently agree with Cher when she said, “Well, I remember Mel Gibson accurately, and he didn’t say that. That Polonius guy did”.  The good old days, you know. You remember, right?

I do. Lethal Weapon is like…the pinnacle of Mel hotness.

Even with that skanky hair, he was still cute.

Shallowness aside, Shane Black writes a killer movie, I’ll give him that. Not that I normally pay attention to such things, but the man’s dialogue is snappy as all get out, and you gotta love the buddy-cop aspect between Riggs and Murtaugh. Witness:

Murtaugh: See how easy that was? Boom, still alive. Now we question him. You know why we question him? Because I got him in the leg. I didn’t shoot him full of holes or try to jump off a building with him.
Riggs: Hey, that’s no fair. The building guy lived.

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I promised y’all some non-horror, so here it is.

And I never said Movie Crack was a pretty sight, you guys.   Some of you may disown me, some of you may swear at me, but God as my witness I sure as hell love this movie.

There’s something insane and crazy about Spice World,   It is, quite possibly, the stupidest movie ever made ON PURPOSE.

Made at the height of Spice Girls mania, the movie’s nothing more than a blatant attempt at making tons of money off the fame of the Spice Girls while enabling them to run around in some seriously awful clothing doing the silliest things on the face of the planet – attending dance boot camp, meeting aliens, and partying on their double decker Union Jack bus.  It’s bad, guys.   It’s BAD.    Who cares about the story when you can have the Spice Girls frolicking all over the place?

Of course, the movie takes some time to poke fun at the paparazzi and at the public’s impression of the girls, but THAT’S NOT WHAT WE CARE ABOUT, IS IT?   No, friends, the bestest part of Spice World is the magic of the celebrity cameo.

In the words of Edina Monsoon, “Let’s get celebritied up!”

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I was talking to a good friend of mine (and sometimes 1,416 and Counting commenter) about her thoughts on Empire Records.  Her answer?

“Where do thoughts come from?  They just appear!”

What makes Empire Records so infinitely watchable is the sheer fact that not only is it light-hearted fun, but it’s quotable like very few other movies.

Empire Records isn’t overly complicated.   A group of cool misfits work at the hottest independent record store around.  They’re the kind of artsy types you envied in high school, and their much put-upon manager Joe is privy to one heck of a secret:  The guy that owns Empire Records is planning on selling it to a large corporate chain called Music Town.   When one erstwhile employee discovers this, he takes the nightly deposit to Atlantic City and attempts to make more money in the hopes of saving the Empire, only to lose big and come home empty handed.   All this craziness leads to a chain of events in one major day for the store that affects everyone involved.

One of the great qualities of Empire Records is that while it’s got an awful lot of characters in it, it does two things remarkably well:   it makes you care about every character, and every character’s story ties up nicely at the end of the day.   With a bunch of employees, a stuck up, almost totally washed up pop star coming into the store plus his manager, a thick-skulled shoplifter who introduces himself as “Warren Beatty” and a cavalcade of nutty customers, that’s a lot of ends to tie off.

And then there’s all the various drama:   Rex Manning Day occuring at the store, where the washed up singer comes to sign autographs and two of the female employees are very excited about Rex appearing there; the deposit getting gambled away by Lucas (Rory Cochrane); the battle to save the Empire from corporate interference; the love triangles; one employee’s suicide attempt, and so on and so forth.   You never feel swamped, though – just intrigued and like you’re along for the ride.

Plus, this movie has Renée Zellweger and Liv Tyler before they were all famous and some such.  (Although it does beg the question, what the hell ever happened to Rory Cochrane, who played Lucas?  I thought his career would have fared better than it has.)  Another goofy highlight is Maxwell Caulfield playing Rex Manning, the cheesy, arrogant pop star, which is probably Caulfield’s best known role besides being the straight-laced exchange student in (…gulp) Grease 2.

I really cannot think of one movie that’s quoted more than this one amongst my group of friends.
Seriously, the movie’s like one big cookie jar of one-off jokes and zingers that work well in almost any situation.    Nothing inspires a laugh in my circle of friends more than, “But…it’s Rex Manning Day!

Said friend mentioned at the top of this post?   She still has Empire Records on tape where she taped it off TV way back in the day (and I’m talking when we were in junior high school together).   Does shrieking at each other, “Shock me, shock me, shock me with that deviant behavior!” ever get old?   Not really.   Empire‘s one of those movies that’s best shared amongst a group of friends on a night when you really just need some sugary-sweet fun – and over the years it’s never gotten overly cloying or nasty.   Every time I watch it, it’s just as good as the first time around when I was probably 13.

There’s been 10 years of sustained viewing of this record and I’m still not sick of it, that’s for sure.

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The first time I watched this movie, I kind of felt like, “Is this movie a joke? No, they’re for real! They’re for real! Holy cow, they’re serious. Oh my god, this is awesome in such a bad way.”

Jack Ryan is all business. First he takes on the Soviets. Now he takes on…one crazy dude from the IRA.

The first irrational quibble I have with this movie: Sean Bean isn’t Irish. I say again, Sean Bean isn’t Irish. He’s not Irish in the slightest, as far as I know, and every time I see Sean Bean, I picture that heavy English accent coming out of his mouth, not an Irish one. I can’t say how well he does at the Irish accent, but this dude is the English bad guy in every American film…and I’m supposed to buy him as Irish in this? What? No! Look, I know we give a lot of roles to people who aren’t necessarily from that country who can pass the accent, but I didn’t like it very much when Anne Hathaway played Jane Eyre. (Seriously, now.) I know Sean Bean’s cute and all (really, why do you think I sit through this film repeatedly?) but wasn’t there an Irish actor somewhere willing to take this part? Didn’t they have Liam Neeson on speed dial or something? He’s cute and Irish! Two birds! One stone! (Plus he’s old! Which, as we all know, appeals to me! Hey, now I’m really curious. Did Liam Neeson even get a call to be in this movie? He would’ve been so much better than Sean Bean.)

Secondly, Sean Bean always seems to look in this movie as though he’s about to shiv you for your Big Mac. I mean, the guy looks like he hasn’t taken a shower in eight years and from his complexion, I deduce he might have a touch of the consumption. It’s just gross. And he’s kind of….mullet-y. It’s a bad look. A bad, greasy, tuberculosis-ridden look. Why do you make the pretty guy so ugly, Hollywood?

Thirdly, the whole story setup is just…oh, me. I know it’s based on a book, but bear with me please – the white knight American rides into save the fancy English people from the nasty splinter faction of the IRA? And then is targeted because he killed one of the IRA dude’s brother? Said IRA guy travels all over the world evading the CIA specifically to come kill Jack Ryan? Uh…implausible at best, but I’ll let it slide.

Luckily for us, though, Sean Bean plays eeeevil so very well, even going after Jack Ryan’s wife and daughter, while Ryan tries to catch up in a station wagon. Yeah, Jack Ryan’s very macho and all, tooling around in his Ford Taurus station wagon. And, you have to give Bean’s character credit: He really does live by the motto “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”. Nothing stops this dude! I wouldn’t be surprised if some day Hollywood made Patriot Games 2: Sean Miller Rises From The Deep because this guy just doesn’t quit.

Somehow, Sean scrapes together his crack team to infiltrate Jack Ryan’s home in the northeastern United States where a whole bunch of people are gathered (not before he’s traveled to a terrorist camp in North Africa though. What a vacation) to throw an annual “Jack Ryan Is Awesome” party or something, and Miller dies in one of the most unbelievably crackheaded ways I’ve seen – Jack Ryan bludgeons him to death with a boathook.

Really? After everything this man has survived? Bombings, shootings, interrogations, prison, traveling to North Africa which is probably dangerous if you haven’t had your shots, attempting to murder innocent women and children, tracking Jack Ryan all over the globe and he dies via boathook?

How very unfulfilling. Make a zombie Sean Miller sequel, Hollywood, I dare you!

All in all though, it’s such an addictive movie. I can point out to you twenty things I laugh at every time I watch the movie, but yet I watch it again and again. Is the combination of Harrison Ford and Sean Bean too much for me? Perhaps. God help us all if they had actually cast Liam Neeson in this film.

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