Month: November 2012

November 8, 2012

Double-ovember: Live And Let Die

RISKY

First, we’re going to replace the tried and true Sean Connery with relative unknown Roger Moore for Bond.  Then we’re going to give him the first African American Bond girl.  Then we’re going to give him the first African American Bond Villain.  Then we’re going to base the story in Harlem, urban Louisiana and a fictional island nation.  Finally, we’re going to throw in supernatural elements like legitimate fortune telling and voodoo.  To say that Live And Let Die was a RISKY proposition would be an understatement.  Though its most thought of as “Bond versus The Black People”, Albert Broccoli’s can take solace in the fact that they brought 007 into a world he’d never gone before.

The culture shock to the franchise was no accident.  Blaxploitation was big at the time and the studio looked to jump on that bandwagon.  And financially, it payed off.  Though, with such a departure from the normal Bond fair, the film itself feels like its a rushed, poorly constructed amalgamation.  Director Guy Hamilton has directed four of the most iconic Bond films of all time.  Live And Let Die is easily his weakest outing.    
When Sean Connery dropped out as Bond, the studio wanted to cast an American actor.  Everyone from Burt Reynolds to Clint Eastwood were considered.  Thankfully, they went with the star of The Saint tv series Roger Moore.  Moore is infamous for playing Bond with a lighter tone than any other actor in the part.  But while Live And Let Die has painfully slapstick moments in it, Moore plays Bond mostly straight compared to his later films.  He wasn’t as good as Connery but audiences could now buy him as Bond.

Rosie Carver, played by Gloria Hendry is the first African American Bond girl.  And that is about as fascinating as she gets.  If you thought Agent Goodnight was a vapid character, Rosie makes her look like Beatrix friggin’ Kiddo.  Again, this era of cinema was replete with shallow, one-dimensional female characters.  But even for that time, Rosie is way more femme than fatale.  Her counterpart in the film, Solitaire, doesn’t fair much better in that regard.  However, she is at least an interesting character.  Would be conquerors using soothsayers to guide them stretches as far back as Macbeth and as recent as that 300 and Immortals.  Jane Seymore, famous for Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and selling strange jewelry, does a decent job of making Solitaire stand out as a character.  Unfortunately, her storyline is underutilized and abandoned as most of the more interesting characters in this film are. 
Kananga…oh boy…Kananga.  Overconfidence is usually the undoing of most Bond villains and film villains in general.  But no more so than Kananga.  There are at least five times he has Bond dead to rights.  Not only does he not kill him, he makes a point to explain master plan and show off supposedly secret facility.  Dr. Evil would even raise an eyebrow to this.  The phrase, “Let me show you exactly how it works Mr. Bond” should never be uttered by a Bond villain.  Its much better to see Bond figure it out himself and save himself rather than relying on dumb luck and dumb villains.  As a character, the only positive I could say about Kananga is that he has style and charm on par with Bond.  However, he is incredibly small potatoes for MI6 to deal with.  His plan?  From the way the film started, I thought Kananga had a beef with MI6 and was systematically taking them out.  Sadly, that is not it.  I’ll have to wait until Friday to get that storyline.  Kananga, however, plans to get the country addicted to heroin so he can become the world’s biggest drug dealer.  Yes, really.  As the first African American Bond villain, the stereotypical corner he’s painted into is nothing short of laughable.  This was a job for the DEA or Shaft or Kojak.  Not a British secret agent.  It just feels like a waste of 007’s time.  Kananga’s henchman Baron Samedi is memorable but again, completely squandered.  His showdown with Bond lasts about as long as it takes James to order a martini.  You set up a character that apparently can never die and just shuffle him away.  
Live And Let Die is a bit too discombobulated and drab for a Bond film.  It’s only real accomplishment is the successful launch of Roger Moore into the role of Bond and an Oscar nominated title song.  A song that ranks in my top 3 of best Bond songs of all time.  Sing it along with Paul…hop in your “pimpmobile”…yes…there is a “pimpmobile” in it…go see…then tell me I’m wrong.   
November 6, 2012

Election Day Special: Dave

Dave: Unique
(1993, 110mins, Comedy)

Originally I was reviewing 1995’s Nixon. I always thought it was a underrated film, one that was well acted and directed. But as I was watching it, I said it just the same old, same old. I wanted something I thought was unique. I then remembered the 1993 film, Dave. Here’s a film that has no historic importance and is made up completely from the ground up.

The story is simple, the U.S. President has a stroke. He’s now in a coma and the news is kept quiet. Why? Because this President was “getting around” and if this got out, it could be potentially a large scandal for the country. A temp agency owner who looks exactly like the President is now a part of this. He is put in the President’s place to keep the scandal at a stand still with no one noticing any issues.

This idea in the end becomes a big back up plain that works perfect for the former and new President. The original President isn’t a likable guy, in fact even the first lady doesn’t like him. The new President is a likable guy. When he comes into the Presidency, he also in turn restores the Presidency. But the real pleasure of this film is the little pieces that not to many people notice. I tried to think of another film that centered around a President and it didn’t even tell you his party. I think this might be the only one. This creates a generic President and the film doesn’t get wrapped up into the two parties. This is something that doesn’t happen much in films about politics, which make things even more enjoyable.


Kevin Kline shines in this film. (Like every film he is in)

Perfect in casting I would have to say.
And the rest is awesome…

Sigourney Weaver
Frank Langella (lovely evil!)
Kevin Dunn
Ving Rhames
Ben Kingsley
Charles Grodin
Laura Linney
Bonnie Hunt
Directed by Ivan Reitman

All around a perfect cast that stands out.

All in all this is a fun film to watch. It’s even family friendly and one I think everyone would get a kick out of watching where all one guy wants only to do good for the country.

November 6, 2012

Election Day Special: Bulworth

Bulworth – Gimmick

Now here’s a gimmick for you; take Warren Beatty, a poster child for White America, make him rap and booty dance with Halle Barry while dressed in mid-90s hip-hop fashions all the while on the run from a supposed assassination attempt.  Sound good?  Well, some of it is, while some of it comes off as a feeble attempt to address the fact that politicians are just put in place to give “we the people” a sense that we “voted” them into office while the truth is that they are in the pockets of interest groups and lobbyists.  That’s 1998’s “Bulworth” in a nutshell.

I could stop the review right there, but watching “Bulworth” in my less politically enlightened days and watching it now proves to me that this film didn’t get the credit it deserved when it was released* and how it was a zeitgeist for politics not only in the Clinton-era, but in the Obama-era now.

As I prefaced, “Bulworth” is the story of California Democratic Senator, Jay Billington Bulworth, running for re-election in 1996 (which was also the year in which Bill Clinton was running for re-election against GOP candidate, Bob Dole).  In hope of keeping his seat, Sen. Bulworth has transitioned from a typically Liberal stance, to a more “back to traditional American values” Conservative stance.  Upset with his new political agenda, as well as his broken marriage, Bulworth takes a contract out on his life in hopes of his daughter inheriting a substantial life insurance policy, which is given to Bulworth by an insurance lobbyist .  Not fearing reprisal, Bulworth begins a newer “political agenda” where he takes off his filter and starts telling his supporters and critics what politicians really think about them.  From going to a black church and explaining that the African-American community doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of politics and telling the Jewish community that their Jewish paranoia is actually real, Bulworth lets it all hang out, including his tongue while dancing with Halle Barry in an after-hours hip-hip club.

Beatty, a known friend of the Democratic establishment, skewers politicians from the left and right, as well as the 24 hour media coverage of politics, which plays a major part in the overall plot.  He points out how struggling members of our society get swept under the rug and find other “elected officials,” case in point, Don Cheadle’s drug dealer character, L.D.

Speaking of Beatty and Cheadle, the acting is quite strong.  Some of the supporting roles include Sean Astin, Oliver Platt, Paul Sorvino, and Jack Warren, with Platt as a standout, playing a campaign manager caught between the preservation of his career and “loyalty” to his candidate.

The things that irked me, and this plays into the whole gimmick, is the pounding rap soundtrack throughout the film.  Trust me, I love gangsta rap as much as the next hip-hop head, but it was unnecessary in some scenes.  The other problem I had was the use of a “chorus” by way of two black girls who essentially become Bulworth’s hype girls.  Personally, I found it a little obnoxious, annoying and didn’t really understand its place besides maybe comic relief, which falls flat.

Overall, “Bulworth” is a good political satire that tackles some of the hard issues, and to be honest, there hasn’t been another movie that was combined both tongue-in-cheek humor with something thought provoking in the political comedy genre .  Yes, we all know that special interest groups and lobbyists run Washington (as much as we want to tell ourselves that they don’t) and the middle class is disappearing while America becomes a two-class system.  The one thing that does hold “Bulworth” back from being a great movie is that hip-hop gimmick.  It works at times, but it becomes a joke in and of itself, and almost becomes cringe-inducing once you see Beatty in a skully and baggy pants.  

*Yes, the movie received plenty of recognition from the Awards circuit (Academy and Golden Globes) but it wasn’t widely distributed and was able to make it’s production costs back in it’s theatrical run.

Fun Fact:  There are 111 uses or derivatives of the word “fuck” used in the film.  Clocking in at 108 minutes, that is more than one “fuck” per minute.  1.027 to be exact.

November 6, 2012

Election Day Special: Election

SURPRISING
On this election day, I wanted to talk about a film that really encapsulates what most modern elections, especially this one, are about.  A revenge seeking electorate creating a candidate that looks great superficially but is merely an empty shell underneath, then propping up said candidate to satisfy their own deeper resentment for his opponent, no matter what lines they cross.  That film my fellow Americans is the 1999 comedy Election, starring Matthew Broderick, Chris Klein, and Academy Award Winner Reese Witherspoon.  
Election is a film that caught me by SURPRISE when I first saw it.  This was Chris Klein’s first film, Witherspoon wasn’t big yet and Broderick was dead to me after Godzilla.  So, I wasn’t expecting it to be as funny as it is.  The wholesome setting and simple story mixed with the quirky and sometimes dirty humor is a terrific combination.  It is much like Fargo in that regard.  Election and Citizen Ruth were director Alexander Payne’s beginnings in finding the abnormal in normal modern society.  They are the roots for his later films About Schmidt, Sideways, and The Descendants.  Though, Election is a little more slapstick than the rest.  Some of the jokes are subtle and hidden, like the the way Tracy Flick’s block letter buttons and posters seem to look like something else if squint at it.  Then some are just over the top hilarious, like Mr. McAllister’s encounter with a bee.   Overall, Election is as great as it is because of its characters and the performances of the actors playing them.  So, I want to focus mainly on that.  
Tracy Flick is simply amazing.  She is that girl you hated in your chemistry class that reminded the teacher to give out homework.  The girl who had a fuzzy pink scrunchy that matched her fuzzy pink sweater that matched her fuzzy pink pen cap.  The girl that would stalk the halls like a hungry lioness, accosting people with a clipboard and guilting them into participating in a food drive or a blood drive or a clothes for blind Indonesian midgets drive.  Man, I hated that girl.   Reese Witherspoon plays this overly ambitious go-getter in a scarily accurate way.  Amy Poehler, whether she admits to it or not, owes her entire character of Leslie Knope from Parks And Recreations to Reese.  Tracy Flick is Leslie Knope in high school.  It is uncanny.  Reese has gone on to do many things since, including winning the Oscar for Walk The Line.  However, when I want to point to a great Witherspoon performance, I point to Tracy Flick every time.  
It is a bit surreal watching Matthew Broderick go from being the teen rebel to the vindictive and devious authority figure.  Shows I’m getting old.  Though, Broderick plays the character of Mr. McAllister in a more sympathetic way than Dean Rooney.  His performance, as well as all the performances in Election, are done in a way where you can understand where each character is coming from.  When I first saw this film, I saw Mr. McAllister as the bad guy.  However, the older I got, the more I began to side with his point of view.  The one crying shame about Broderick is that he does such a great job in this film but in the same year he does such a horrid job in this one.  
Bar none…Bar…none, this is Chris Klein’s funniest performance.  Well, I’m not counting his unintentionally hilarious performance in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li.  Paul Metzler is the unsung comedic force of this film.  His aloof, matter of fact, ho-hum nature is so funny and SURPRISINGLY real, I was convinced for a while that Klein was pretty much like Paul in real life.  All of the narrations in this film are funny but his make me laugh the most.  
A lot of kudos should go to actress Jessica Campbell.  Her portrail of Tammy Metzler and her tragic side story is one of the most heartfelt moments of the film.  She feels real in the role and makes the emotions of a teenage sexual identity crisis seem genuine and still funny.    
Election is one of those movies that gets overlooked when it comes to great comedies.   It proves you can still get a belly laugh out of an audience without a flatulence joke or some once great comedian dressed in a fat suit.  Go out and vote…PICK FLICK….watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.  
November 5, 2012

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Two Kinds Of People (Episode 9)

The world isn’t complicated.  Its simple.  So simple, that everyone in it can be broken down into to kinds of people.  See which one you are.

November 2, 2012

Double-ovember: The Man With The Golden Gun

STYLISH

The first Bond film I’m reviewing this month was the first Bond movie I ever saw.  So, it might explain my love for Roger Moore.  Yes, Sean Connery is the best Bond.  Yes, Moore was more punchline than punch.  But as a kid, he was my introduction into the world of Bond.  And the world of The Man With The Golden Gun was a world that shattered any preconceived notions I had for a good guy versus bad guy film.

James Bond isn’t some “golly-gee” farm-boy from Smallville who does whats right no matter what.  James Bond isn’t some selfless trust fund baby who strikes fear in the hearts of criminals when night falls.  James Bond isn’t some nerdy photographer with superpowers who is entirely hung up on responsibility.  James Bond is actually…well…an asshole.  Hell!  He’s somewhat of a misogynistic asshole.  Double Hell!  He’s somewhat of a cold blooded murdering misogynistic asshole.   James Bond doesn’t wear a mask to protect the people he cares about.  He doesn’t use an alias to protect the government he works for.  He doesn’t fight fair.  He doesn’t follow orders.  He might technically be the worst spy on paper ever.  And we love him for it.   He’s the longest running antihero in cinema history.  Bond does things that we want to do, but our better natures won’t allow us to.  And he does them with STYLE

The Man With The Golden Gun, or Bond IX, is about 007 tracking down and killing the world’s  deadliest assassin before he returns the favor in kind.  An assassin that uses a golden gun.  Um…that’s it.  Sure, there is a solar energy subplot tossed in there, but its more sub than plot.   The film can be summed up in caveman terms.  Bond hunt bad guy.  Bond find bad guy.  Bond kill bad guy.  It is such a simple and badass premise, its a wonder why Hollywood action films nowadays, other than Dredd 3D & The Raid, overcomplicate themselves.  The Man With The Golden Gun sets up a fight between two pitbulls and lets them duke it out in the final act.    
A Bond film is usually measured by three primary factors.  The Bond girls, the Bond gadgets, and the Bond villains.  Let me start with the girls.  Unlike our misogynistic hero, I like it when Bond’s femme fatales have equal footing with him.  Sadly, in The Man With The Golden Gun, the Bond girls are lacking in any type of equality.  They fall into archetypes used many times before and after this film.  The reluctant mistress of the villain and the admiring rookie agent.  However, they serve as little else than a subservient pawn piece for Bond to move around.  Maud Adams’s character of Andrea Anders pales in comparison to the character of Octopussy, who she played years later.   Mary Goodnight is literally described as the “astoundingly dumb blonde British agent”.  So you know what you’re getting there.  You can attribute the minimized Bond girl personality to either the era or the fact they wanted to focus more on the villain.   However, it becomes a glaring weakness of the film.  
As far as the gadgets go,  they are few and far between in this film.  The only one of any real importance is the infamous golden gun.  Again, when I was a kid, nothing was cooler than Christopher Lee assembling his golden gun and blowing someone away.  Being older now, I can see how people can see it as goofy.  However, you have to respect the elegance and simplicity of the idea.
    
The Man With The Golden Gun has arguably the greatest Bond villain of all time in Francisco Scaramanga.  He is played superbly by the always devious Christopher Lee.  A cousin of Bond scribe Ian Fleming.  Allow me to put his awesomeness in the proper perspective.  For recreation…RECREATION MIND YOU…Scaramanga practices killing people by…KILLING PEOPLE!  He makes arrangements for their arrival to his home, disarms himself, pays them…TO TRY AND KILL HIM…then beats them to the punch.  He’s so cool, the cold open of the film is entirely dedicated to him.  He has skill.  He has STYLE.  He has a third nipple.  Uh…yeah…he has a third nipple…but who cares?!  He more than holds his own with Bond.  To this day, I measure all Bond villains to him.  And Nick Nack.  Ohhhhhh Nick Nack.  It takes balls to have a henchman in a Bond film be a dwarf.  Herve Villechaize’s great performance propelled Nick Nack into becoming one of the most iconic Bond characters of all time.  There wouldn’t be a Mini-Me without a Nick Nack.   
In the lexicon of Bond, The Man With The Golden Gun always stands out near the top.  Not because it is the best film.  Its not.  It stands out because it possesses so many of the STYLISH elements of the James Bond franchise.  Put on a tux…order a martini(You know how)…sing along with Lulu…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.  
November 1, 2012

MONTH IN REVIEW

FAV of the month

Creepshow 
Review

SoSo of the month

Burial Ground

HATE of the month

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Review

TV SHOW of the month
 The Walking Dead, Season Three Premier
Review

November 1, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, Silent Night Deadly Night: Part 2

Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2: Breathtaking
(88mins, 1987, Horror)

Prologue:

Unlike the first film I did not get to see this in the theater. Hopefully one day I can (its one of my goals in life). After seeing the classic Silent Night Deadly Night, I needed to watch it again. I looked high and low for the DVD and finally stumbled a pond a double feature with an, at the time unknown, Part 2—Wait what a Part 2? I bought that DVD right away. Once it came I popped it in the player and made some popcorn, little did I know that film would changed my life forever. I called the gang that saw the first one and told them to come over so we could all get together to watch this film. It made so much of an impression on us we couldn’t stop quoting the film. We never seen a film had so many classic lines like this. This was the days pre-YouTube and if I said GARBAGE DAY!, no one would know what the hell I was saying. This is the B-movie of B-movies, one that will live long after I’m gone. I have nothing but love for this badly made film.

NAUGHTY!

Ricky Caldwell: “You tend to get paranoid when everyone around you gets dead.” 

Ricky Caldwell: “Fuck off… Doc!” 
NAUGHTY!
Review:
This film is one of my favorite comedies of all time. The problem with that statement is it’s not a comedy but a horror film and lets okay with me. Every aspect of this film is funny as hell. Eric Freeman’s acting is the most amazing thing on film stock ever! Each word is overblown and almost every time he talks he moves his eyebrows up and down. It’s extremely noticeable onscreen, never has something been so noticeable. His acting is so bad here, its a one of a kind of pure greatness. I’m not make this a personal thing with Eric Freeman because he had nothing to work with, it wasn’t his fault. Well he is part of it but in fact he is what makes this film watchable. I would like nothing but to interview him or even write something he could act in, something needs to happen nowadays he’s that awesome.
Chip: “Listen Bud… that’s what she said when I fucker her brains out on the backseat of old Red here.” 

               NAUGHTY!
The whole film is 88 minutes. More then half of the film is the first one. Yep thats right they use the first film as flashbacks to the point it is more material then part 2. The funny thing about this is Ricky didn’t have a lot of scenes in the first one. So Ricky tells about Billy’s scene which he couldn’t have known about. He wasn’t even in the room in these flashbacks, so how could he have
known? And he didn’t get to talk to his brother about the murders because Billy was killed. I have never seen any film do something like this, where a sequel uses the first film more then the new storyline. Sure you need to tell the viewer what happened to the family but not a hour of footage of the first film. Not sure if this was something planned or maybe to cut production cost. They writes say this was do to the first film getting dropped out of the theater. the producers wanted to re-edit it or make a part 2 with the first films footage to get it back in the theaters. Ether way the very little footage of a Part 2 is amazing enough to even out do the first in the crazy/funny/goofy category. 
They even used it for the movie they go see at the theater!
NAUGHTY!

Ricky Caldwell: “My old lady couldn’t afford to send me to college. So I got a job. I was washing dishes, dumping trash… all that sort of shit. I think you’re gonna like this next part. It sounded like some squirrel getting his nuts squeezed.”
(Watch this video to see the single greatest part in any film ever!)
Ricky Caldwell: [Wielding an axe] “Oh Mother Superior! I’ve got a present for you!” 
 NAUGHTY!
Epilogue: 
Even with the all the plot holes and the using of a ton of the first film’s footage for a sequel, this film still stands out as a B-Film masterpiece. Honestly both the first and second films are pure gold. Can’t say that about the others that follow, but when people quote a film without seeing it or knowing a damn thing about it, that’s when you know you have something special.

And boy is this film special.

NAUGHTY!


November 1, 2012

31 Nights Of Halloween, FDR: American Badass

FDR: American Badass: BADASS

Werewolves, Werewolves, they’re everywhere! 

Who can save the day? Who with the silver bullet can kill all these damn Werewolves?…

FDR, that’s who!

Yep its pretty Badass!

Unlike Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

FDR runs with it and it works! They understand the subject matter of this film and they really do a fantastic job with it.

What can I say about this film but from start to finish my face had a smile on it. It is very funny, it has a vulgar, goofy humor to it… which I love way too much of!

To summarize the story without giving anything away. The film starts with an attack from a werewolf, which during this time FDR contracts polio after being bite from a werewolf. During his  hospital stay, he decides to run for president.  We also find out that the werewolves might of come from Germany.

With the help of Albert Einstein’s wheelchair of death, FDR wins WW2 single handedly.

“I think the Werewolf might of come from Germany”


Franklin D. Roosevelt is played by Barry Bostwick this time around and its perfect. He really is the best thing about this movie. The dialogue is written with words like Cock, Mother Fucker, Bitch, Pimp and Word. It works so amazingly! The dialogue is the funnest thing I’ve heard in years. With FDR saying Pimp and Word just kills me.

Also another president pops up. Honestly I keep hoping they make a spin off with…Please make one, Pretty Please!

“This is Albert Einstein he’s a real jackass…”

Now there a few scenes that lack. They could of been a bit better. But with all the crappy films that I keep seeing come out anymore, I really look over that and give this film a high grade. Its a good time that you shouldn’t pass up.


Please watch this trailer and tell me it isn’t funny!

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