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Archive for the ‘Movies In General’ Category

I can’t recall when I first saw The Day The Earth Stood Still, but I do reckon that it was most likely with my mom.  To say that my mother is enthusiastic about this movie is understating it a bit; I think it’s actually one of her favorites of all time.

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An alien spaceship lands in Washington, triggering fear and suspicion worldwide.   Out steps an alien, Klaatu, bearing an important message for all nations of the Earth.  Along with him is Gort, a sinister looking robot.   Humans mistakenly believe Klaatu may attack them, so they shoot him.  After he’s locked up inside a hospital, he escapes and blends in with Earthlings, learning more about our culture and ways before convincing a fellow scientist to have a meeting of the greatest minds on earth so he can spread his message to all nations equally.   The message?   Embrace peace or perish.

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The Day The Earth Stood Still is a sci-fi classic and with good reason:  it belongs to none of its knee-jerk, reactionary brethren of the decade.  (Them, anyone?)  Instead of being a frightful tale of how atomic power can go dreadfully wrong (duck and cover from those giant ants/spiders/creatures, kids), it’s a slow-burn tale of how we are the horrific ones.

Bad special effects aside, it’s the theme and central idea to the movie that still play to a modern audience.   The fear of outsiders, the fear of global destruction and the fear that we may not be the big fish in the food chain we perceive ourselves to be are all still very relevant – Soviets or no Soviets.  Klaatu’s indignant frustration at the stupidity of the people of Earth but kindly outlook on the mother and son duo that he befriends are exemplary of human traits, sure, but none of us had the power to reduce Earth to a cinder.

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The man in the silver rubber suit is no longer as terrifying as he once was, nor does Klaatu’s then high-tech spaceship strike anyone as being anything other than ultra-retro, but the disturbing, unsettling feeling that The Day The Earth Stood Still conveys is that we do have a choice – Klaatu or no Klaatu – to decide our own fate.  It is our own stupidity and as Klaatu puts it, our own irresponsibility that gets in our way.  It is our choice to be smarter or be a lot deader, even if there’s no giant alien robot around to police the hell out of us.

We still live with the threat of horrible things looming over us.  It’s no longer worrying about the Soviets dropping A-Bombs and the idea of the KGB looming large over the capitalist stronghold of America; now it’s militant religious terrorists, dirty bombs and bioterrorism.   To be typically crude:  same shit, different day.   In other words, Klaatu’s message is something that still resonates because we’re still behaving in the same fashion.   We can doom ourselves … or not.

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Arguably, while the humans are left with a choice to DON’T BE SO STUPID or DIE IN A MASSIVE FIRE, FOOLS, Patricia Neal is the initial savior of humanity.  It is she that gives Klaatu a chance; it is she that helps him evade capture and it is she that goes to Gort the giant robot and makes sure he A) doesn’t blow shit up everywhere to avenge Klaatu after he’s been killed and B) resurrects Klaatu.

In other words, Patricia Neal?  Is the shit.  Also, thanks to Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal and some screenwriters, we have the immortal words the Evil Dead franchise ticks along on:   Klaatu barada nikto.

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My mom’s recollection of this is that it was really cool back in the day.  She was awed by the sound on the special edition.   One of the things that sells The Day The Earth Stood Still is the creepy, semi-disturbing music which runs to and fro through the film.   (Good job, music composer.)   She pointed out how freaking alien Michael Rennie (Klaatu) looks in his oversized suit and scary-lean figure.   And above all, the special effects still seem real to her, and I imagine the movie has a whole realm of meaning to her that it will never have to me, primarily because even though we live in times with fear, I never had the threat of having atomic bombs rained down on me by Nikita Khruschev.  (I also never lived next to a SAC base, which my mother also did, right when a bunch of Americans and Russians were thinking hard about pushing some little red buttons.)

I think it is this movie that gave me my love of sci-fi; not sci-fi for fantasy’s sake, but the kind of sci-fi that makes a larger point.   The Thing and other movies of that ilk all have bigger questions in mind than just what they are at face value and I think… I think this comes from early viewings of The Day The Earth Stood Still with my mom.

If you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting for?

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All the movies I need to see in theaters between now and December 31st, 2009:

That’s just the ones I really, really want to see.   I know I’ll end up seeing others.    I, uh, just wish I had some sort of theater discount right now.   That would be … great.

Did I miss anything?

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No reviews tonight.  I’ve actually watched a fair amount of movies lately; Australia, Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation and other rewatches, but I haven’t had the bug to write them up.   Honest to God, I don’t know when I’d get the time to sit down and take notes on Australia.  Sucker is long.

So instead you get a mish-mash today of links and pretty pictures, as I try to get back into the swing of updating regularly.

Brief self-serving promotion:   You should follow me on Twitter.

Since I was just talking about Deadpool, here’s a hilarious Marvel/DC video – Deadpool and Watchmen:

I don’t know what kills me more; “I’m a Marvel – WHOA!” or the idea of a Rorschach/Deadpool sitcom.   Yes, it is funny and yes, you should watch it now.   I may have watched it multiple times and giggled like a freak every time.

New G.I. Joe trailer: Look, we all know by now this movie will be made of sweet cracky suck, but behold, Christopher Eccleston (the man will be a Hot Old Man Of The Month one of these months, I swear).   That cheesy effect of the Eiffel Tower degrading/falling over must not be the most insane thing in the movie for them to put it in the trailer.   I, uh, have no excuses for wanting to see this hot mess.

Slashfilm has new Inglourious Basterds posters for Pitt & Roth: Screw Brad Pitt, let’s look at ELI ROTH.

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I smell bad, bad Photoshop.   What in the name of sweet hell is going on with his face in that picture?   It’s like he’s a Ken doll.   Did they airbrush that scruff on?  Did they hire the guy who did the Zombie Wax Liam Neeson Taken poster to do this one?

New Star Trek Pictures: I wasn’t too excited for Star Trek originally; I know, that’s geek heresy and I deserve to be interrogated by a Klingon inquisitor or something.    After looking at these and hearing an early review from a friend, I’m ready to go see Star Trek. I’m taking my Star Trek loving mom for Mother’s Day to see this one.

Blah Blah Blah Blah District 9 Trailer: Consider me underwhelmed.  So underwhelmed, I might catch it on basic cable five years from now.

Final Girl talks about sucky ’89 horror: Say what you will, but I LOVES me some Deep Star Six.  Miguel Ferrer!   Mutant monster things!   I watched it a lot when I was a kid.   That, and The Abyss, I think, are my earliest childhood memories of underwater “monster” movies (let’s not get all cranky about The Abyss being a monster movie now, you know what I mean).

Jason from Invasion of the B Movies is writing a book. Which is awesome, and that’s pretty much all I gotta say about that.

Now, who can outgeek each other in the comments section, hmm?

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Eli Roth’s making a big, blockbuster New-York-gets-destroyed kinda movie.   Via Slashfilm.

He won’t discuss what’s going on in the film, just that it’s on the level of Cloverfield, but it’s something completely different.    Maybe Eli’s making When Fanboys Attack or something of that ilk.   (At least that’s what they’re going to do over this movie, as if they weren’t after him enough.)

I’m slightly less confused, though, when I see that he’s going to package a full version of Thanksgiving into this – if a studio wants the Eli Roth Destructo Movie, they have to make Thanksgiving as well.   Via the Slashfilm article referenced above:

According to a new interview with the director, he’s planning to shoot n $80 million actioner this fall and then, in the immediate three weeks following, bash out a feature length version of Thanksgiving for $5 million.

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Studios who want to take on the actioner will also be expected to go for Thanksgiving, with Roth offering them only as an indivisible package. Who could turn down an Eli Roth movie for just $5 million?

Well, to be fair, Lionsgate hasn’t turned down an Eli Roth movie for that amount – to my knowledge.   Slashfilm claims that Roth might have just pulled figures out of the air, but Roth made Hostel and Hostel II on paltry sums (both under $5 mil if I remember correctly, don’t quote me on that) mainly by shooting with tight budgets, relatively unknown/lesser known actors and shooting the two in foreign countries.   (I also want to say that he deferred his director’s salary on Hostel II to have extra budget room, but I can’t remember for sure.)

Roth does claim that Thanksgiving will be:

“The sickest, bloodiest, most violent slasher movie. I want to make the highest body count slasher film I can.” (Quote from the Slashfilm article.)

Well, count me in.  And if that means I have to sit through Eli Roth Does Cloverfield in order to get the ticket grosses higher so I can see Thanksgiving done up all gory-like on the big screen, I’m willing to make a sacrifice, uh huh.   I still don’t get why the big-budget movie is necessary, but hey, that’s just me.

And look, I missed QT on American Idol last night, but guess what?  Slashfilm has the exclusive video from AI previewing parts of Inglorious Basterds.   I know I’ve said I was shaky on Brad Pitt’s accent, but I am totally freakin’ sold on it now.  Also, we get our first look at Mike Myers (he’ll only be in the movie for about five minutes, tops, if I recall correctly).  You get Quentin creepily leading the set in group cheers.   “Let’s do it one more time!  Why?   (chorus)  BECAUSE WE LOVE MAKING MOVIES.”   God, he comes across as one of those annoying bosses that makes you do team building exercises like the ones featured in those disgusting American Airlines commercials.  Yuck.  Aaaaand, there’s even a teensy-tinsy snippet of Eli Roth strutting with the baseball bat.

Three words:  Arms. Of. Roth.

Yeah I said it.   Check it out here.

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A Few Things

So, I believe the Worst Movies Ever are officially over.   To those of you whose films I did not review – my apologies, but Netflix did not stock them.  I still have them in my queue for the future, if and when they become available.

Rest assured, I’m using the next few days to refresh my memory on all the shit you guys threw my way in order to declare a winner and some runners up.   Just so you know where that’s going.

Now, I have an enormous stack of movies to review, a screener movie, and some other miscellaneous stuff.   And I’ve been obsessively perusing movie news but goddamn, it is slow out there right now.   The last news story I read was James Cameron’s way over budget on Avatar.   This is only news if you didn’t know that James Cameron goes over budget on every damn movie he makes.   It’s that kind of slow-like-molasses time for movies in general on the internet, which makes me bored.   Jesus.   But…even with stuff to do and things to look up and news to not care about…

For some random reason, I had to sit down and rewatch The Usual Suspects because it does not get much better than Gabriel Byrne as Dean Keaton, yes?

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If only Keaton hadn’t run afoul of Keyser Soze, eh?  Sigh.

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Hello, Gorgeous

J.D. and I were discussing in the comments on the last post about Eli Roth’s attractiveness and I came to the startling realization that I find Mr. Roth to be hot, in that smoking hot, fan yourself and stick your head in the freezer to cool off kind of way.   But!  Wait!   It didn’t used to be that way.   I used to think he was so homely!   How did this happen – this slow build to fancying the pants off him, as they say?

That’s not even a rhetorical question.   I want someone to explain this to me, dammit.

(It’s partly his arms. The more he shows those arms, the more I get what old fashioned ladies in my neck of the woods used to call ‘the vapors’.)

I give up.   Let’s not hate, let’s appreciate:

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I mean, really now.  Stare long enough at that, walk away for a bit, and see if your opinion of Eli Roth changes.   Maybe?

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I was compelled to post this one.   Compelled, I say!   Why?  I look at this picture and hear in my head, “Five syllables:  DE-REK ZOO-LAN-DER”.   I can still laugh at Eli Roth at this point.  A few months from now?   I’ll probably be a Rothian pod person, so sorry, dudes.  No more laughter after that.

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The hat. The arms!   The stubble.  The swoon!   Oh goodness me, the HAT.  I’ve got ten imaginary dollars that Mr. Roth is a huge Spice World fan.  (You know you like it too, shush.)

And I know some of you might hate the Hostel flicks, but look at his face:

amd_rothHave a heart.

(Some of these photos were taken off Eli Roth’s Super Awesome Official MySpace Thingy.  Uh…here’s hoping no one gets pissed about that.)

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Ahhh, Yes.

I felt mired in drudgery today after sitting through another – another! – Lindsay Lohan movie last night.       I felt a trifle worried about finishing the worst movies ever.   How would I finish?    How many different ways can I say “this movie sucks” without becoming a repetitious bore?  (Oops.  Too late.)

And then I read John Scalzi’s column over at AMC on why video game movie adaptations by and large blow chunks and this buoys me a bit:

Up until recently the nation of Germany allowed for some nice tax benefits if its citizens invested in film production. This in turn benefited a German director named Uwe Boll, who went about snapping up the movie rights to a number of video game titles and cranking them out fast and cheap. This was a nice set-up for Boll, since he’s been able to make a nice living playing filmmaker. It wasn’t nice for us, because Uwe Boll makes movies like monkeys drive trucks.

The phrase “Uwe Boll makes movies like monkeys drive trucks” is enough to give me a little more vigor.

That, and Eli Roth introducing Torso at the New Beverly Cinema.  Sure, Eli may not be my favorite actor but I like his movies.   And his arms.

Hmm.

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Happy 16th, kiddo.   Enjoy it!

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Ah, Takeshi Kaneshiro.   What doesn’t he make better?

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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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