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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Adventures of Ford Fairlane


The Adventures of Ford Fairlane – Unbelievable

I have a love/hate relationship with Renny Harlin.  Sure he made “The Long Kiss Goodnight” “Nightmare on Elm Street 4” and “Cliffhanger” but he also made “Cutthroat Island” and “Deep Blue Sea,” so I wouldn’t call him the most reliable of directors, but if you give the guy the tools he can certainly succeed.  Case in point, “The Adventures of FordFairlane.”

It’s hard to believe, but Andrew Dice Clay, at one point, was the hottest comedian on Earth (and this isn’t an Earth 2 type of thing that DC pulls).  I mean the dude was selling out football stadiums, he could do no wrong, that is until he quit smoking and got fat
 
Anyway, Ford Fairlane, Mr. Rock n’ Roll Detective, is on the case of his career, but he hates Disco, especially Disco Express, I mean they blow dog, you know what I mean.  But don’t tell that to Lt. Amos (Ed O’Neill) because in a matter of seconds he’ll break out his old dance moves, and “Booty Time” will commence.

With a crap ton of cameos (Tone Loc, Morris Day, Shelia E) and Wayne Newton as the villain, I mean Mr. Vegas as the main villain of a movie, how could you not love this movie!  Ford Fairlane…..I fucked him, ohhhh!

Fun Fact:  No koalas were harmed in the making of this film.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cloak & Dagger

Cloak & Dagger: Imaginary

Cloak & Dagger came out in 1984 (a fantastic time in movie and music history) and it holds up over all this time, even with the weak dated graphics. This is one of those films that you watch when you where younger and it sticks with you...Forever!

Why watch this film? Well...Do you like video games? Do you like 80's films? Do you like good kickass films? This film is a good reason films are made. And today if you want to escape from the real life and sit down and enjoy a solid 101 minutes this film is for YOU!

It's a fun kid's film to watch. Yep thats right. It's a family film even though people get shot and killed, especially from the 11 year old main character. When people say they don't make them like they used too, here is a example. Could you imagine a kids film today with kids shooting spys? Yeah I too was totally born at the wrong time.

Without spoiling the story, it's simply about a 11 year old kid named Davey (I know, such a dated name) who stumbles onto classified information hidden in a game cartage. And spys chase him down to retrieve the cartage.

This film also has one of the greatest scenes you will always remember. After seeing these two older people help this kid, that no one believes including his own father, your nightmares begin. I won't even try to write it...
Watch this clip to see what I mean!

Trust me you will love watching this film!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Another Earth

ORIGINAL
This review will be shorter than some of my others.  Not because Another Earth is not a good film.  It and Inception are probably the two most ORIGINAL films I've seen in a decade.  Its because Another Earth is a film that is reliant on its reveals.  Where that can be bad in some instances, it is totally rewarding here.

All I'll say about the plot of Another Earth is that it revolves around a post adolescent girl and a fateful night that changed her life and the life of everyone on the planet forever.  Well, two planets to be precise.  Cryptic enough?  Good.  Its worth the reveal.  Another Earth is a moral dilemma picture in the same vein as Doubt or Gone Baby Gone with a very interesting twist thrown in.

The casual and simplistic way first time director Mike Cahill shoots each scene adds to the film's charm.  He gets a great performance from his cowriter and star Brit Marling and a stand out performance by William Mapother.  Does the last name Mapother sound familiar?  No?  It should, because its the real last name of William's slightly more famous older cousin Tom Cruise.

Another Earth is certainly another film that'll have you thinking and talking about it way after you've finished seeing it.  It deserves more awareness than it has gotten.  See it...be surprised that its one of "those" films...then be more surprised its actually more than that....then tell me I'm wrong.

The Fountain

AMBITIOUS
For as long as this film has existed, I've been led to believe it sucked.  Not just by friends or critics.  But by the behavior of people behind its creation.  The Fountain was a passion project by director Darren Aronofsky that was originally slated to come out after his masterpiece Requiem For Dream.  Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett were to set star in it.  However, late in the game, Pitt and Aronofsky began having creative difference and Pitt walked out on the movie.  In the 11th hour, Warner Brother tried to get Russell Crowe to fill in but he declined.  Cate Blanchett left after it seemed the film would never get made.  The project was finally shelved.

Now that was enough for me to think this film was going to be horrible. Films Pitt seem to have creative differences on tend to end up sucking. See the horrid The Devil's Own and State Of Play. Aronofsky eventually got to make the film after agreeing to a way less budget and recasting with Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. The result was a flop at the box office. It was booed at the Venice film festival and maligned by critics.

So, I rushed out right away to see it! No, I waited. Waited until this year to see it. With my expectations set to the proper low standard, I watched the film. As I began to watch it, I kept waiting for whatever it was people saw in it that was so terrible. Ten minutes passed. Then thirty. Then fifty. Then after two hours, the film was over. I sat there as the credits rolled and wondered to myself, "what was so horrible in that?" I didn't have the desire to bang my head against a wall. Its a film that resonated in my mind days after I saw it (Unlike Some Films I've Seen Recently) and the things that resonated weren't bad.

Don't get me wrong. The Fountain is not an easy film to watch. Its the love story of two characters who may or may not be three sets of characters spanning three different time periods. (The Wachowskis will attempt a similar feat with Cloud Atlas) Its about the intangible ideas of life and death and ultimately acceptance without bridges or arrows pointing that out to the audience. Its subtext and analogies. So, I can understand why people may hate it.

There are things that can't be denied about this film, plot structure be damned. Matthew LiBatique, Aronofsky's long time cinematographer, is literally showing off in this film. The Fountain is a feast for your eyes. This is undoubtedly the BEST performance of Hugh Jackman's career. He has to carry this film much like Hanks did in Cast Away. And the film will have you asking questions and debating the message it provides for years.

The Fountain is AMBITIOUS filmmaking around a time where most films cower behind the categories of safe and easily marketable. It may appear to be a sh*t sandwich on the surface with its production woes, critical reception and box office failure, but it would be a mistake to dismiss it completely. If you have the time and don't mind giving your brain a bit of a work out, give it a watch. It isn't an abomination. And after you watch...it'll be hard to tell me I'm wrong.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Skin Deep

Skin Deep: Cockfighting

This film is simply about a womanizing writer with a drinking problem. His life is falling apart, he has writers block and is still in love with his ex-wife. He's trying to fix his problems but keeps seeing woman who he must have.

Overall its a great film. Some very funny scenes including a very well known cockfighting scene.

John Ritter's acting just steals every film he was in and this is one of them.

Watch this it's Funny, it has John Ritter, it's a underrated film and its a Blake Edwards film.



Spawn

Spawn: Shit

Well it's about a mercenary who gets killed. He goes to Hell and is turned into a soldier for the Devil's army.

Thats it...

The Story is fine, but its the late 90's (1997). So sadly like most films from the 90's unlike T-2 (1991), Jurassic Park (1993), who the Director worked on and somewhat ID4 (1996) the CGI sucks! Really any other film from the 90's has such bad CGI. Somethings in this film look fine but the worst is Hell, especially the Devil, who you would think "should" look good. When the Devil talks his mouth stays open? He might be the worst thing you have ever seen. Seriously its that bad! You would think if they couldn't get the Devil to work and look right, they just have him in the darkness somewhere where all you see is the Devil's eyes. I mean, I even remember in '97 when I saw this film on HBO the Devil still looked like shit. Such a easy fix, yet I guess they give up.

Lets be honest there are a few other big issues with this film but the worst that makes this film unwatchable was the Devil's look.

By the way this film won a Best Special Effect award in 1997. Only award it won, yet I have no idea how...Oooo and ILM did the special effects, yep that Industrial Light and Magic. If you don't know who that is google it.

Your world will be blown because you will see clearly they gave up on this film.

Now I gotta go delete my browser history since I googled this film...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Simplistic TV: Suits

UNDERVALUED
There hasn't been a lot of great lawyer shows in a while.(I hear Damages is ok but I'm still in the process of watching it.) Probably not since David E. Kelly's show Boston Legal. I don't count any of the Law & Orders because they focus solely on the cases and let the personal lives of the characters fall by the wayside. Making it a show about law and not about lawyers. However, the USA show Suits is finally a return to the lawyer show. And not just a Boston Legal or an Alley McBeal type show. Suits harkens back to Steven Bochco's 80s classic LA Law, while still having modern appeal and wit.

Created by Aaron Korsh and produced by Doug Liman, Suits in a nutshell is this. What if a higher functioning Rain Man joined a law firm headed by Tony Stark. An interesting concept to say the least. Most people dismiss USA Network shows as procedural fluff. And some of them are. However, Suits has fast become one of the network's stand outs. I attribute it's steady increase in quality to the fact they begun downplaying the Rain Man gimmick actor Patrick J. Adams portrays in Mike Ross. If you rely on a gimmick, viewers will begin figuring out your shows before they're over. It's the Batman utility belt method. No matter what jam Batman gets in, the viewer is just waiting to see what deus ex machina he'll whip out to solve it. Suits recognized it wasn't the premise that was the strength of the show, rather the relationships of the lawyers. That is where the show shines.

Harvey Specter, the Tony Stark-like hot shot lawyer, is played brilliantly by Gabriel Macht. An actor who you'll probably only remember from this travesty. What Macht and Robert Downey Jr.(Yes, I've noticed how many times I mention him) do with both their characters is make them an *sshole but still an *sshole you can like and root for.

Suits walks that tight line of Boston Legal fun and The Practice seriousness.  And it walks it well.  Its a show that week in and week out presents UNDERVALUED performances by its cast and satisfying weekly stories that allow them to flourish.  You haven't experienced real joy until you've seen a Harvey Specter ownage of Louis Litt.  Give the series a chance....the first episode especially...then tell me I'm wrong.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Simplistic TV: Sherlock

BRILLIANT

I am a big fan of Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes films.  That may be because I think RDJ is my favorite actor working today.  However, the best version of the famous detective is definitely the BBC series Sherlock.  It is possible to be a fan of both the way I am because they do possess significant differences.  And not the fact that the films are set during the 19th Century and tv show is set during modern day.

For example's sake, here is Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock.  And here is Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock.  Robert Downey Jr. nails the manic and playfulness of Sherlock Holmes.  While Cumberbatch, an actor who will be a household name after next year's Star Trek 12, nails Sherlock Holmes's cold stoic BRILLIANCE.  Both work tremendously.  Downey Jr. gives Sherlock a bit of a giddiness at his own intellect when explaining clues.  Cumberbatch treats it more like an uncontrollable condition.  His delivery feeling similar to someone fed up answering a nagging five year old who constantly keeps asking "why?".

Both Jude Law and Martin Freeman are equally great as Watson.  Law, mostly for theatrical sake, plays Watson a bit more over the top while Freeman keeps Watson's frustrations with Sherlock more internal.  Though, we do see Freeman's Watson at the beginning of his relationship with Sherlock while Law's Watson is well used to him by now.

All that said, the most important thing in creating a great incarnation of Sherlock Holmes is getting the chemistry right.  And Sherlock does this as well if not better than the films.  While the films give you more style, the tv show gives you more substance.  Its mystery first and set pieces second.  Thats what puts this ahead.

The series does cheat its substantiveness a bit by having each season broken down into three 90 minute episodes.  They play like mini movies and are each enjoyably different while still connected through a ongoing plot thread.  Don't be alarmed by the modern day setting either.  Sherlock fits into our world smoothly and creates interesting situations that 19th Century Sherlock couldn't do.  Like interrupting a police press conference by texting all the reporters simultaneously the truth the police chief is leaving out.

That leads me to mention a storytelling device the editors use on the show.  To illustrate how Sherlock's mind works, the show uses in scene captions to draw the audience to his conclusions instead of having him always explaining everything.  This is very well done, as apposed to how Tony Scott overuses it in some of his films...Domino comes to mind.

An American version of this modern day Sherlock Holmes is in the works now.  However, I am sure it won't have the same quality acting, writing, directing, and teeth this show has.  You watch one episode and it'll hook you.  Go ahead...watch one...I'll wait.......still waiting........see?  Tell me I'm wrong.

The Scout



The Scout: Curveball

It's a Baseball film. If your're a Baseball fan or comedy fan, I'm sure you will enjoy this film. There is a nice turn around where you find out a "dark" past which switches nicely from baseball to real life. Also a handful of cameos including George Steinbrenner, Bob Costas, Tony Bennett, Keith Hernandez and a few more. The story is that of King Kong which gives a nice spin on a Baseball film that we have never really seen before...Hey if you have sometime to kill, it's not a bad film to kill with. Plus it's always a win win Albert Brooks.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises (Matt's Take)

The Dark Knight Rises - Scope



Growing up, I could give a damn about DC Comics.  I couldn't relate to Superman, Wonder Woman was a chick, and I didn't have any jewelery, so screw the Green Lantern.  Hell, I'll say it, I didn't even care about Batman.  It took me a long time to really develop a relationship with The Dark Knight being that I was way more of a Marvel Man anyway.  I don't remember going to the theaters in 1989 to see the second "Batman" movie (yes, I'm still counting the Adam West "Batman" movie as the first one) but I distinctly remember going to the movies in 1992 with my parents to see "Batman Returns."  It wasn't like anything that I had seen before: Dark, moody, Gothic, and the music (don't get me started, I've been a Danny Elfman mark since "Beetlejuice")  But even while being impressed by "Batman Returns," I never got into the comics, I still cared way too much about X-Men and even Image Comics' "Spawn."

This brings me to Chris Nolan, the man who took over the Batman franchise after it had been thoroughly fisted by Joel Schumacher and his bat-nipples.  Nolan, who had already made a name for himself with "Memento," was the last person you would have thought could helm a Batman re-boot, but people thought the same thing about Tim Burton after he did "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" and the aforementioned, "Beetlejuice."

Within Nolan's Gotham City, the Scope increased movie by movie, moving away from one man's fight against crime to a city finally banning together to fight against a force so big that it even overwhelmed Batman.  "The Dark Knight Rises" takes many of its cues from three books in my opinion:  "The Dark Knight Returns" "Knightfall" and "Vengeance of Bane II."  Moving away from the fantastic elements of these books, Batman, and Bruce Wayne, face real world problems such as lost friendship, hopelessness, and bankruptcy, and it is just enough to wear him down to the point of Bane being able to "break him."  With Batman out of the picture, the movie points the focus directly on Gotham, its police force, and average citizens, and this is my biggest problem with the movie.  The point of the Batman is to inspire average citizens to step up and take on an enemy greater then them and fight.  The movie really only comes down to a few characters, mostly cops, who fight, while the citizens are huddled in their home, hiding.  I have a problem with this, and while Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) tries to inspire the citizens drawing Batman insignias on walls, it seems like a forced act from Nolan.

But this is a small gripe, and takes nothing away from what Nolan has created;  a living, breathing city that you actually care about and don't want to see destroyed.  There are points in the movie where you completely forget that this is a Batman movie, which is amazing, and tells you something about the filmmaker, who has crafted a story that could, unfortunately, happen.

As far as acting and characters go, I enjoyed Tom Hardy as Bane, even if he did sound a lot like an out of breath Sean Connery.  I thought his eyes told his story, and despite the fact that he was a ruthless terrorist, you still saw a human being looking for his place in the world, very much like Batman in the counterpoint.  Anne Hathaway was fine as Selina Kyle, and you did see some sassy Michelle Pfeiffer in her acting and mannerisms, and the more I think about it the addition of an extra "hero" in Gotham did lighten the load for Batman.  But the standout for me was Michael Caine.  He has brought more to the Alfred character then any other actor and his portrayal in "Rises" was heartbreaking and got me choked up a few times.  You finally see how much he cares about the Wayne family and their legacy to the city of Gotham.  Overall, the acting was as strong as you're going to get from a comic book movie.

As far as Easter eggs go, there were quite a few that I thought worked very well.  The inclusion of Lazarus Pits were told in an interesting way with Bruce Wayne giving Selina Kyle the "Clean Slate" program, a practical way of explaining exactly what the Pits do.  Also, the little mention of "Killer Croc" by Blake was awesome and shows that the writers love to throw little bones to the comic fans.

Overall, the first true Batman trilogy was a complete success.  All three movies exuded different emotions, "Begins" with hope, "The Dark Knight" with apprehension, and "Rises" with dread, but the Scope of the movies grew and grew until Nolan had created a series of movies that will be held up as a litmus test for not just comic book films, but film in general.

Fun Fact:  "The Dark Knight Rises" has the biggest ensemble of Batman's rogues gallery (not counting the Adam West "Batman")  Bane, Catwoman, Killer Croc, Ra's al Ghul, Scarecrow, Talia al Ghul are all seen or mentioned in the movie.  And I'd like to believe that Bane's right-hand man who was an expert sniper is a nod to "Deadshot."  Just saying.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Split Second

Split Second: Throwaway

It's the kind of film that you see when you're a child and it sticks into you're mind till you reach age 24. You sit down one day and pop it in. It's not bad, but not good. You watched it once, so you throw it away never to be watched again...because it's a Throwaway.


Simplistic TV: The Newsroom

HEAVY-HANDED


Now let me make something clear. I love Aaron Sorkin. I love A Few Good Men. I love The American President. I love Charlie Wilson's War. I love The Social Network. I love Moneyball. I love Sports Night. I ABSOLUTELY love The West Wing. I even sorta loved Studio 60. But its in my nature to love them. I'm a writer. I love to see movies or tv shows where the emphasis is on the writing and not some 'epic' explosion sequence involving Shia LaBeouf.(I haven't ragged on Transformers in a while) And Aaron Sorkin's stuff is always all about the writing. Newsroom is no different. However, Newsroom's greatest strength is also its main weakness.

A show about a borderline Republican tv news anchor seems like a walk in the park subject for Sorkin. And it is. A news show gives him the opportunity to talk about a multitude of things going on in the world and have it not feel forced as it sometimes was with West Wing and Studio 60. But its too easy. And because its too easy Sorkin seems to fall into his own trappings and reaffirm his critics as to his knack of overwriting a scene or an episode. Subtly abandoned for clear cut messages he is trying to force feed. He flexes his writing chops and his agenda to the point where predictability begins to leak in. In essence, Sorkin is the pretty girl at the party who KNOWS she's pretty. People like me eat it up while others might not want the hassle of a cerebral workout while watching a ten o'clock show on HBO.

All that said, Newsroom is worthy of your attention. It has great actors. It has great ideas. It has Jane Fonda and Sam Waterston swearing. All good things. However, it is a hard pill to swallow for the Sorkin uninitiated. And even with a supposed middle of the road politically affiliated main character, it leans very liberal. Case in point, last weeks episode had a character LITERALLY punch a television with Rush Limbaugh babbling on it. This is something I've come close to doing on a number of occasions but it is still a little HEAVY-HANDED.

The media have bashed Newsroom for some of the reasons I've brought up. However, I think they really bash it because the show shines a light on some of the shady and unscrupulous things the media actually does to get a story or avoid telling one. And BOY it is about time someone did that. Watch it...then tell me I'm wrong.

Something Wild

Something Wild: Sunday

By Sunday I mean if you're free on a Sunday and it rains and you're stuck inside, then this film isn't too bad to sit and watch. Jeff Daniels gets kidnapped by Melanie Griffith and they go on a adventure. Melanie robs a liquor store, steals cars and has sex with Jeff, all in all it's not bad. It contains a ton of cameos and Ray Liotta pops up as the ex-boyfriend of Melanie's character. He gives a frighting performance which make me wonder way he Scorsese never worked again after Goodfellas (one of my all time fav). It's not a bad film, check it out on a rainy day.

The Dark Knight Rises (JP's Take)

The Dark Knight Rises: Marvelous

---Caution Spoilers ahead---
2012 has been such a damn good year for films...and we have more to go...I'm looking at you Skyfall!
But-

The Dark Knight Rises is a fantastic film.

and my favorite this year...(Here is a small write up of what I liked and didn't like. When TDKR comes out on Blu-ray, I will do a detail review on all three, the likes and non-likes).

Listen I have read many reviews saying how many people thought it was just fine and not that great, well I believe they're wrong. The biggest problem really is the structure of the story. It seems they tried to jam in what could of been two films, especially the first half. On my second viewing I notice it works a little better then the first showing. I'm gonna guess and say the story structure was a bit jarring probably for some people at first but it didn't get to me too much after a few showings. There are a few other issues including Blake knowing Bruce was Batman and a few plot holes but thats fine, shit happens.

Okay thats really it. Now on to the good stuff! This film is made for a Batman Fan! If you don't know much about Batman I'm gonna guess its a bit tougher (Talia, Bruce and Selina's romance, the alluded to Killer Croc and so on). All the great call backs to Begins and Dark Knight work. The story is great. The acting is fantastic. The Cinematography is perfection. That IMAX was mind blowing awesome! Action was top notch and the best of the three films. Music is and like always, kickass. This is the best acting of Bale's Batman. Catwoman is wonderful and sexy. Bane in my mind works excellent. He looks and sounds great too. We finally see Batman meet his match physically, which I love. In my mind its on the same level as The Dark Knight, if not a bit better. Because The Dark Knight is a great movie for all to love. The Dark Knight Rises really is more of a great Batman film for Batman fans to love (and also non-fans too). With all that you also have the parallels of whats going on in our real world and the film strike me emotionally and work beautifully by doing that. Sadly I have a feeling this film will be a time capsule of the darkness this world we live in has become. But more importantly this film completely finishes a modern classic trilogy.

Sure it may not be a perfect film but how many perfect films are there? Honestly I can count them all on one hand. But its a great film and a fantastic Batman film. We finally got to see Bane done great and it was in a realistic way on the big screen. Talia finally pops up in a film (I wish she was in it longer thou) which I'm happy to see and like her father says in BB, stabs Bruce in the heart (emotional) and Batman (psychically) and a ending that I feel was the perfect ending to complete a perfect trilogy...and NO I don't think this new "Robin" will go on and do films in the future but it just all seems to work for me.

I really love this film, I find it simply amazing and if you don't like it thats fine I don't care, because I loved it. To me it brings back that classic feeling of going to the movies, which many films don't have anymore. But you can't say this film isn't emotional. Especially Alfred's scene at Bruce's grave, I've never been moved that much in all my years with anything Batman. It's tough not to be bias when it comes to Batman. It's really the only thing I ever loved, It's really the only reason I live. I grew up on Batman (especially The Animated Series which is the only reason my parents bought a VHS recorder) it means so much to me, so this film puts a smile on my face, a very big one. Us Batman fans have been to hell once, lets hope Warner Brothers take a few year off and focus on something else other then rebooting Batman because we now have our perfect trilogy and I want to enjoy it for years to come because these films are and will always be legendary.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Quantum Of Solace

MISUNDERSTOOD
Now I think Dark Knight Rises is a good film.  But the real highlight for me when I saw it was the IMAX Special Skyfall trailer that played right before it.  Now I love James Bond films.  I especially love 'Daniel Craig as James Bond' films.  His stint as Bond, Skyfall seemingly included, shares a particular theme as Nolan's Batman trilogy.  They are both exercises in the tearing down and rebuilding of iconic characters in a different form than the preconceived notions of the mass fan base.  Much like Dark Knight Rises will be panned in the coming days by critics who didn't see it as a satisfying display of their expectations, Quantum was panned for that very reason.

Casino Royale is amazing.  Stupendous.  Terrific.  Adjective after adjective synonymous with good.  I loved how Craig portrayed Bond.  His attitude.  His wit.  His determination.  He really got to the meat of the character.  A good man.  A man who wants to do whats right.  A man who will not accept defeat.  And a man who's feelings about resorting to extreme violence to accomplish his goals rival that of even Dexter himself.  The film gave you everything.  Great action.  Great acting.  Great villains.  Great set pieces.  Bond girls.  Mystery.  I could go on.  The film, however, ends on a cliffhanger.  An acceptable one, but a cliffhanger none the less.  That fact is where Quantum of Solace comes in.  That fact is why I think Quantum of Solace is MISUNDERSTOOD.

Dark Knight Rises is not a stand alone film.  It is the culmination of an arc.  Its a cog in a giant machine.  Accept it for that and any negative opinion you have may sway a bit.  That said, Rises takes place YEARS after The Dark Knight.  It at least has that bit of a buffer between stories to start fresh as a film.  Quantum gets similar criticism because people say it doesn't feel like a complete story.  And I don't blame people for thinking that.  They are right.  Quantum of Solace is not a stand alone film either.  It is just the very long final act of Casino Royale.  Quantum is a direct sequel.  Its the ONLY direct sequel in the Bond franchise.  And the damn thing takes place mere MINUTES....MINUTES after Casino Royale.  If you view it in that light, it makes more sense as to why it is the way it is.

I wish they would do a version where they stick Quantum at the end of Casino and play it out, much like what Quentin did with Kill Bill.  The movie would be Lord Of The Rings long but it would be one grand arc of Bond's origin story.  Quantum is about Bond's rage.  Its the result of what happened to Vesper at the end of Casino.  That is not a stand alone theme for a movie.  It is a great theme for a final act.  I watch it with that in mind and always enjoy the hell out of it.  I mean, its not like it has horrible acting...its still Craig as Bond...and he's perfect.  Its still Dame Judy Dench as M.  Still Jeffrey Wright as Felix.  The cinematography is beautiful.  The action is still crazy good.  And I love the lurking idea of some evil organization controlling everything.

For as good as Skyfall looks, it owes whatever ease of making it and success it has to Quantum Of Solace.  Quantum did the dirty work of finishing off a storyline that Skyfall can choose or not choose to hint back to.  By the end of Quantum, Bond is finally a complete character.  He is finally the Bond we remember.  Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace just showed us how that transformation happened.  Watch it again...then tell me I'm wrong.  




The Dark Knight Rises (DJ's Take)

GRAND
You're either a Beatles man or an Elvis man.  You're either a Marvel man or a DC man.  Full disclosure, I am a Marvel man.  That doesn't mean I hate DC.  It means I was raised on Spider-Man and The Punisher and The Fantastic Four.  So, my sensibilities make me root more for Marvel to succeed than DC.  However, there are certain heroes in each company that supersede bias.  For Marvel it would be Spider-Man.  For DC it is The Dark Knight.

I have loved this trilogy.  Even though Chris Nolan does tear away and dismiss nearly all the things that make Batman a comic book character in exchange for realism.  A gamble that worked.  A gamble that could ONLY...ONLY work for Batman.  (DO YOU HEAR ME YOU TWO?) Nothing flashy...nothing fun....bleak....realism....and we ate it up.  But it wasn't the realism that sold Nolan's Batman to me.  It was his world building.  His scope.  Making everything seem so GRAND yet keeping it contained mostly in one city.  Gotham City.  The name I would have called this movie over The Dark Knight Rises.  This film isn't really about Batman to me.  Its about Gotham.  Batman is barely in it.  And we see how a city tries to survive and hold out without him.  When the sh*t started hitting the fan in this movie, I kept muttering to myself..."This looks like a job for Superman." or "Where is the Justice League?"  But Nolan isolated this trilogy into the loneliness of realism to not have to worry about those things.  He wanted it to be about Gotham City.  That, to me, is the point of The Dark Knight Rises.  The point of the entire trilogy.  A symbol giving a city's citizens strength to protect themselves.  To rise up and be their own heroes.  And in that regard, Nolan knocks it out of the park.

No.  Its not perfect.  No.  Its not better than The Dark Knight.  No.  I didn't like it better than Avengers.  But Yes.  It is a must watch.  For GRANDNESS alone it is a must watch.  You will feel the hopelessness and uncertainty of who is going to save the day right along with Gotham's citizens.  You will love everything Joseph Gordan Levitt does.  Though there is a final bit with him that is a little hit or miss with avid comic book fans.  You will wonder what the hell Bane is saying sometimes but will never wonder how dangerous and scary he is.  You will realize that in a film of terrifically portrayed bleakness, Anne Hathaway's scenes as Selina Kyle are probably the only ones that feel fun.  You will be saddened as a DC fan at the end when it dawns on you that Warner Brothers will now attempt to tear this entire trilogy down to reboot the franchise. 

The Dark Knight Rises is probably the only way you could end this series.  By itself, if we knew more were coming in this universe, it would be worth nitpicking.  But as a denouement to probably one of the GRANDEST trilogies since The Lord Of The Rings, it rises to the occasion.  Christopher Nolan made Batman into Lawrence Of Arabia.  And for that, we should thank him.  Watch it...then tell me I'm wrong.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Zack and Miri Make a Porno


Zack and Miri Make a Porno - Long
I consider Kevin Smith somewhat of a personal hero of mine.  Not only is he not afraid to take chances (Red State) but this guy dropped everything he had into his first movie and he was successful and got the chance to keep making movies.  Yes, he's hit a few roadblocks along the way (being too fat to fly, "imploding" at Sundance 2011, "Cop Out") but the guy makes movies for his fans, and not to mention himself which I respect.


When "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" came out there was some fan fare, and it did decent in the theaters, but for me the standout was one scene with one character and one actor with the surname "Long."  In genius cameos, Brandon Routh aka the Superman that everyone hates aka Dylan Dog aka Todd Ingram, plays Bobby Long, the high school heart throb that Miri (Elizabeth Banks) has always been secretly in love with.  Meanwhile Zack (Seth Rogan) has recently made the acquaintance of one Brandon St. Randy (Justin Long) a film star most famous for the coming-of-age tale "You Better Shut Your Mouth Or I'm Gonna Fuck It."

In five short minutes Justin Long and Brandon Routh received pardons from me for both "Live Free or Die Hard" and "Superman Returns," respectively.

Fun fact: Kevin Smith wrote one of the original scripts for a Superman re-boot that involved a giant spider (later taken by Wild, Wild West). "Zack and Miri" stars an actor who played Superman, while Kevin Smith co-starred with Justin Long in "Live Free or Die Hard".

Justified

CHARACTER
Elmore Leonard has made a career out of creating great characters.  So much so, they tend to pop back up again in other stories and films from time to time.  This cross film character appearance thing Marvel is doing with their superheroes...it was done before with Ray Nicolette in Out Of Sight & Jackie Brown.  That said, two of Leonard's characters get more airplay than the rest.  Karen Sisco of the previously mentioned Out Of Sight and Raylan Givens.  Givens made his first appearance in a tv movie based on the Elmore Leonard book called Pronto.  He then made his reappearance on his own show Justified.

So, what makes Raylan special?  The same thing that makes the show special.  He has CHARACTER.  From his trademark cowboy hat and southern charm, to his always simmering rage and quick trigger finger.  Played brilliantly by Timothy Olyphant, The Deputy US Marshall of Harlan County is layered with CHARACTER.  But he's just the anchor of the show.  Justified, in it's brief stint on tv has become the show to watch if you want to see uber interesting characters and interesting performances to boot.  It might be the only show I can remember seeing where the hero's arch nemesis is probably just as beloved as the hero himself.  That arch nemesis being Boyd Crowder.  Brought to life by Walton Goggins, Boyd Crowder is the Joker to Raylan's Batman.  However, you respect and love his wit, his brains, and his rapport with Raylan.  The character was supposed to die in the pilot but was so good they made him a staple on the show.  Raylan and Boyd's relationship is the life blood of Justified.   

Justified at its core is just a modern day Western set in a country town.  But the plot of the show isn't what makes it great.  Its the placement of the amazing CHARACTERS in different situations and seeing how they react to one another.  One moment Raylan or Boyd or Dickie Bennett or Wynn Duffy or Robert Quarles or Limehouse could be smiling and laughing with you.  Then, at the drop of a hat, shoot a dozen holes right through your chest.  Its a CHARACTER driven show that is easily my favorite show on tv right now. You won't be able to watch just one episode.  Go ahead.  Watch one...then tell me I'm wrong. 

The Amazing Spider-Man

DESPERATE 
DESPERATE to keep the property at Sony to thusly prevent a possible Spidey sighting in Avengers 2, which would thusly lead to Marvel Studios earning an estimated BAGILLION dollars. (I Rounded Up)

DESPERATE to win over the hipster/Twilight audience with its emo, big haired, recluse, douche hero and his "Ready To Turn My Back On Everything, Including My Own Self Worth" love interest.

DESPERATE to make the film grim and dark like The Dark Knight, but sadly only accomplishing to make it poorly lit and soulless.

DESPERATE to be special and different with a highly promoted yet LAME half-baked Spidey secret origin, which they abandon before the film's midway point.

DESPERATE to not be like the first trilogy while poorly attempting to steal things from it.

DESPERATE to cast great actors but then relegating them to being only exposition spewing wallpaper.

DESPERATE to redefine the hero's core mantra but only managing to debase it into a vague, poorly delivered shrug of a purpose.

Some say the greatest inspiration is often born through desperation...good words.  I, however, don't see inspiration here.  I see a middle aged hoodlum, who managed to get a gun, trying to hold up a liquor store.  Unfortunately the cops showed up too fast and he is now using an old Korean woman as a human shield, desperately holding on to what little semblance of hope he has of escaping.  A slew of dumb ass decisions piling up to result in a chalk outline on a splotchy linoleum floor.  THAT is The Amazing Spider-Man.  If you waste your time and watch it, you'll be hard pressed to...tell me I'm wrong.

Get the Gringo

Get the Gringo: Entertaining


Mel Gibson kinda lost it the last few years, in film and well...real life.


But this film clearly shows he truly hasn't lost it, well mostly in film anyways. Gibson's acting is a gift to viewers, because when you watch him perform it's pure fun! He brings back that Lethal Weapon fun that so many of us miss. Mel Gibson is a damn good actor, enough said... Just don't piss him off or he'll slap you!



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Good The Bad And The Ugly

MYTHICAL
There are some people that don't see the appeal of Westerns...(cough! cough!)...mostly women...(cough!) There are some that think them to be boring art pieces where nothing ever happens....(cough! cough!)...women mostly...(cough!)...studies show it...(cough! cough!) And that is...(ahem)...okay. On paper its just movies about cowpunchers or farmers during post Civil War America living their lives. But Westerns, to me, are American fairy tales. You know the girly ones with the knight rescuing the damsel in the tower from the two headed dragon. Those stories are European based and don't hold the same relatable appeal. (Not that many castles in the states) Cowboys are our knights in shining armor. But their armor is a little less shining. They rescue damsels. But there had better be a payday involved. They deal with the occasional monster. But its usually either a corrupt sheriff or a gang of bandits.

Grandfather of the Western, Sergio Leone, understood this concept and thrived in bringing those tales to the big screen. From Fist Full Of Dollars to Once Upon A Time In The West. He saw the American frontier as a place to take regular cowboys and make them into MYTHICAL heroes or antiheroes as the case may be. The Good The Bad And The Ugly was perhaps the best one of his films that personified that concept. And to be in on it gag. You have a hero with no name that all but winks at the camera before a gun fight. A villain that, for as evil as he is, still has a code. And a lovable scoundrel you shouldn't be rooting for but do anyway.(There wouldn't be a Jack Sparrow without a Tuco to pave the way)

You ever wonder which character began the worship of Clint Eastwood? You want to see where the term 'Mexican Standoff' comes from? You want to watch....SPOILER ALERT...probably the best prequel ever made? You remember that awesome opening scene in Inglourious Basterds? You want to see where Tarantino got the idea from?  You want to hear one of the greatest movie scores of all time?  It is all in The Good The Bad And The Ugly. If you want to show someone who doesn't like Westerns a film that might sway their opinion...THIS is the movie. Watch it....then tell me I'm wrong.

Die Hard

 QUINTESSENTIAL

That budget wasting/cgi wasting/oxygen wasting Michael Bay has proven to us that anyone can do an action film. However, not just anyone can do it well. There is one action film that ALL other action films are judged to when it comes to greatest ever. And that is the QUINTESSENTIAL action film Die Hard. No, there wasn't some racial stereotype of a robot blowing up random things under the shadow of the American flag while some Victoria's Secret runway model struggles to put words together in an attempt to get the director's d*ck hard. (I hate Transformers if that wasn't clear)

No, there isn't a square jawed, Zzzzzzzz...boring, goody-goody, untouchable, unflappable, hero that relates to the audience as equally well as a f*cking block of wood. No, the villain wasn't some dumb faceless one note straw man for the hero to do battle with. Die Hard was about a regular guy who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time against a sophisticated and scarily realistic criminal. Yes, it has explosions. Yes, it has one liners.(Possibly The Greatest Of All Time) Yes, it has unbelievable stunts. But at its core is a normal guy doing amazing things NOT to just save the day, but to survive. In doing that, Die Hard put us in the shoes...or bare feet...of John McClane....And that's why it works so well. That's why its the best. 

As far as legacy is concerned, it was the benchmark example on how to pitch and/or promote an action movie for years. "Its Die Hard in a grocery store!" "Its Die Hard in a school!" "Its Die Hard in space!" Terminator 2 comes close but Die Hard was the first action film to have the perfect balance of action, story, performances, comedy, and pure spectacle. If you're one of the alarming number of people living under rocks and haven't seen it, watch it. If you have seen it, watch it again....then tell me I'm wrong.

Lethal Weapon


Lethal Weapon: Perfection

Only a handful of films can hold a title under, "Greatest Action Films of All-Time". Lethal Weapon is one of them, mixing the perfect blend of Action with Comedy into a fantastic 80's standout film.

If you don't understand the title of the film, then I'll come kick your ass.


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