Friday, December 31, 2010

The Howling Man.

This is part of The Twilight Zone Marathon that is going on today and tomorrow on SyFy; "The Howling Man" plays tonight at 11pm Eastern, 10pm Central Time. It's a rare episode that isn't always included in many of the video collections, or at least it never used to back in my day. It's worth checking out. There are a few nerdy parallels to LOST, best of all the line by Brother Jerome about the mysterious prisoner, something about not talking to him, for if he speaks to you it will already be too late?


"You can catch The Devil, but you can't hold him long."

Happy 2011, Everyone!

Balls of Fury

Balls of Fury, 2007, directed by Robert Ben Garant. Written by Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant.
starring: Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken, George Lopez.

"Down-and-out former professional ping-pong phenom, Randy Daytona, is sucked into a maelstrom when FBI Agent Ernie Rodriguez recruits him for a secret mission. Randy is determined to bounce back and win, and to smoke out his father's killer -- arch-fiend Feng." (IMDB).

Hmmm. I didn't hate it. I didn't really care for it much, but you know, I would probably stop on it if I were flipping channels late at night. There were some funny moments and you know I dug the Def Leppard. My husband thought it was hilarious and asked me about thirty times WHO PUT THIS ON THE SHIT LIST? He thought it was awesome. (enough said).

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Box.

The Box, 2009, directed and written by Richard Kelly.

"A small wooden box arrives on the doorstep of a married couple, who know that opening it will grant them a million dollars and kill someone they don't know." (IMDB).

I'm sure everyone probably knows this already, but this feature film is based on a short story that was originally made into a (new) Twilight Zone episode, Button, Button in the late eighties. I came across a pretty sweet blogger who has the original youtube posted, if you're interested in seeing it; Mare Winningham (Wendy, wearer of the scuba-suit support hose from Saint Elmo's Fire) stars as the wife.

The Jaded Viewer

So really, I didn't hate this as much as I thought I would. I very nearly had to get up and walk around when Norma (Cameron Diaz) first opened her mouth, number one, a southern accent, and number two, a teacher of philosophy? CAMERON DIAZ AND SARTRE? Please. And her playing a mother is probably the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen in my life; the woman from Throw Mama From The Train is more maternal than Cameron Diaz. She's very pretty though, prettier in this than probably anything else I've seen her in. And after a while the bad southern didn't bother me anymore, probably because it was disguising her normal grating voice, so it kind of ended up working, you know?

I also liked a lot of the mise en scene; this takes place in 1976, so there was plenty of patterned wallpaper, which (secretly) I love. Norma has a scene where she's putting hot rollers in her hair, fun!
The story is . . . interesting, I'll say that. And while I appreciate trying to incorporate something awesome (The TZ) into a bigger picture, drawing on events from the writer's own life, I think he really bit off more than he could chew with this whole thing.

1. The Box Story
2. The Planet Mars business
3. The disfigured man a link between them?

It got too ridiculous near the end. And they kept changing their own rules and adding more and more layers to something that was already a little far-fetched. I think the original story worked simply because less was more. The guy dropped off the box, they pushed the button, he picked it up, "AND NOW I'M GIVING IT TO SOMEONE YOU DON'T KNOW." The End. We didn't know how he knew they pushed it, we didn't know where the box came from and we didn't need to--it would have been unnecessary. I realize that in order to flesh a 20 minute short out into a full length film they needed to take some liberties in extending the plot a little, and I give him full marks for being interesting, I suppose, but I just didn't really dig it all that much.

P.S. A few good friends and I redid our own version of The Box for an eleventh grade English project; one ending had a Scooby-Doo "meddling kids" twist with a completely random character we made up by the name of June Monday. I was the box-deliverer, three friends were button-pushers, and one other was the unfortunate victim, decorating a Christmas tree singing a St. Nicholas Day song my German Teacher Mother taught us the year before. She ended up biting it right after "Lustig, lustig, tra-la-la-la-la." It was a good time.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Crossroads, 2002, directed by Tamra Davis. Written by Shonda Rhimes.

I think star vehicles are effective when the character the star is playing = close in character to the star herself. This film would have been a lot more believable if they hadn't put Britney in the role of valedictorian and future doctor. (Clint Eastwood doesn't play a hairdresser).

And this was well before she got all . . . public with her bare vagina and K-Fed and all the bat shit, but she is a cute girl with a cute, toned body that LOOKS CUTE IN UNDERWEAR. If I were Lynn Spears I would have made sure my daughter knew this instead of taking to flashing her shit around town like Sharon Stone.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

All About Steve.

I tried to watch this a few months ago. I can't remember why, maybe to cause myself some discomfort or as punishment, but I turned it off after about thirteen minutes. So I was a little apprehensive about doing it again. . .

All About Steve, 2009. Directed by Phil Traill. Written by Kim Barker.
starring: Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, Thomas Haden Church.

"Convinced that a CCN cameraman is her true love, an eccentric crossword puzzler trails him as he travels all over the country, hoping to convince him that they belong together." (IMDB).

Yeah, it was horrid. To be fair, the director had only done television up to this point and the writer had done exactly one other screenplay, but yeah, who okayed this? Since I actually made it through the whole thing this time and could appreciate the message, if you could call it that (Bullock's character, Mary Horowitz is eccentric, kooky, and annoying but in the end realizes that she likes herself just the way she is), I also learned that the entire film and the roundabout way it actually *gets* to that end is completely random and unbelievably thrown together. And this is my beef with Sandra's films and chick flicks in general: PUT SOME WORK INTO IT, PEOPLE! I saw How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days back when it first came out, thinking I would hate it but I ended up kind of digging it because it played on stereotypes about annoying chicks. I'm not trying to be harsh or unsentimental, but this was just a story of an annoying chick being annoying. I guess the strongest point of it (for me) was that it let me know that at least I'm not that bad. . . 

Something Nice: Sandy physically looked very cute in this and she has really nice legs.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Boat, cave, boat.

Finally! Sorry I've been away for a while. I "did" Christmas this year (with my hubs) and I actually ended up making quite a few of the gifts as well, so it became crunch time this last week while I put the finishing touches on felt Gabbas, cross stitches, and this really excellent Twilight Zone thing I made for my brother.

Can I pull off the impossible? It's December 25. Out of the initial list of 39 films (the 39 steps?!) I have watched 14 and added another film. This leaves me 26 films in six days. I don't see it happening, but as with the October list, I'm in it to win it, so I'll finish it even if it takes me well into January, which is a long ass month anyway.


Titanic, 1997. Directed and Written by James Cameron.
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet.

"Fictional romantic tale of a rich girl and poor boy who meet on the ill-fated voyage of the 'unsinkable' ship." (IMDB).

I remember seeing the preview to this film on another rental many months before it actually was released;  what stuck the most was of course one of the final scenes when the ship, vertical, actually sinks with Jack and Rose are clinging to the railing. It gave me goosebumps, for probably an entire day, seeing that. And really, this is a fine example of what the film can do vs. what it does lamely: the action scenes are amazing, the dialogue and love story are merely marginal if not annoying. 

I don't think Kate Winslet deserved to be nominated for an Oscar for this, I think the Academy just gets aroused when Brits sink low enough to do American accents. I thought Rose's scenes were boring, mostly because I never liked her as a character. This is mostly for personal reasons, and I can see how the class differences between the characters were important to the love story, but still I found her distinctly unlikable. Old Rose, Young Rose, they both rubbed me the wrong way from the very first. "They called Titanic the ship of dreams, and it was. It really was." Then, moments later, "To everyone else it was 'the ship of dreams.' But to me it was a slave ship. . ." YEAH, BOO-HOO, ROSE. You want to jump off the back of the ship? BE MY GUEST. Be careful not to damage the beading on your thousand dollar gown on your way over, hmmm? This is a bit reactionary and bitter, but my old man taught me one thing: There is always someone worse off than you. The surest way to earn my disdain (which I'm sure everyone cares loads about) is to be a person who won't see this. Am I really supposed to get behind Rose's eyes with her stupid complaining and having to take a few bitch slaps from Cal when there are hundreds of poor Irish kids who are slated for freezing and drowning? Perspective. (I was *extremely* worldly, empathetic, and intelligent when I was Rose's age, btw.) 

Leo was a little clunky, and far less annoying. But by God Cameron can do action. The real film starts once that iceberg hits, and from there it was a tense, well-driven story. Showing how each level of the ship was affected by the water rushing in? Awesome. The scramble to make it under the water-seal doors as they came down? Awesome. The different ways the characters had to backtrack and swim through dead ends and flooded hallways? Awesome. There were two moments in this film when I cried; 1. the opening, when Horner's instrumental theme came on over the still shots of the ship and 2. when the violinist refuses to leave the deck and reels the rest of the quartet back to play that seriously emotional song (as everyone jumps off, falls, or drowns). The scene of the people desperately hanging on to the priest as he prays also gets me a little weepy, I cannot imagine what an experience like that, chaos and sure death on that wide a scale, would be like; one woman (I think holding onto a child) clung to a structure and just repeated over and over "it will be over soon. it will be over soon." My friend Julie told me when this film was first released that the very worst part for her was seeing the Irish woman telling her children a bedtime story and tucking them in bed, knowing that they would all soon be dead. I didn't have kids at the time like she did, but I do now, and the scene is probably the saddest thing that happens in the film. Heavy. It's not a perfect film, but it's definitely an important one. 11 Oscars, many of them well-deserved. 

The Descent, 2005. Directed and Written by Neil Marshall.
starring: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Jackson Mendoza.

First off, I don't even know if this was the correct The Descent, there were about three of them listed on IMDB, but it seemed to be ridiculous enough, so I'm going with it (although one of the others did actually star Luke Perry, so that may have been fun, too).

"A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators." (IMDB).

Maybe Directors just shouldn't be Writers. Or Vice Versa. This was badly pieced together and didn't have any flow or continuity when it probably could have with a better writer. I was completely caught off guard with how things went, although I thought the film got much more interesting once those creatures started popping up inside the cave. The overall feeling of the film at first seemed to be really lame and Spice Girl-ish (Yey, we're awesome chicks that can raft and explore caves! WOOO! Let's jump up and down and scream!) so when they're suddenly thrust into this weird, dark predator-setting, it seemed a little jarring. The beginning and ending seemed a little forced and random. So it's bad, but (almost) a kind of good, cheesy bad. 

Speed 2: Cruise Control, 1997. Directed by Jan de Bont, Written by Graham Yost.
starring: Sandra Bullock, Jason Patrick, Willem Dafoe.

"A computer hacker breaks into the computer system of the Seabourn Legend cruise liner and sets it speeding on a collision course into a gigantic oil tanker" (IMDB).

Well, this might have been better without the entire first scene and nearly all of Jason and Sandy's dialogue. Willem is marginalized, and while no Bobby Peru, is interesting enough to watch, I guess. Action films need to have clever or comical dialogue. Good examples of this are Tom Arnold/Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies:
1. "What kind of a sick bitch takes the ice cube trays out of the freezer?"
2. "The guy is a goddamned used car salesman, this just keeps getting better and better!", or even Keanu and Jeff Daniels in the first Speed film:
3. "I'm gonna go home, have some sex." "Harry, you're gonna go home and puke." "Yeah, well, that'll be fun, too."

The back and forth with Jason and Sandy was painful and uncomfortable because they both suck and they had sucky writing, and the film just kept on giving more and more of this. I'd say the last ten minutes are the only ones worth watching because no one is speaking. And I'm guessing this is no where near the worst I'll be seeing from Ms. Bullock so far as I haven't even approached the chick flicks yet (shudder).

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Inching Along. . .

I have 29 more left on the list. PLUS Battlefield Earth. Why do I always overcommit myself?
The next three below were all very. . . blah, it's the best word I can use to describe them.

Desperate Measures, 1998, directed by Barbet Schroeder. Written by David Klass.
starring: Michael Keaton, Andy Garcia.

I'm not putting in an IMDB synopsis because it seems to mess with the HTML and line spacing, and I don't have time for that, so in one line? COP GETS CONVICT TO AGREE TO BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT FOR HIS TERMINALLY ILL SON; THINGS GO WRONG.

This did nothing for me. Keaton is usually good, or at least entertaining, but in this he was just not cast right, I don't think. Andy Garcia is among the long and distinguished list of celebrities I'd like to get in the sack, but even he was lame. It was acted all right and put together fine, film-wise, but nothing ever really grabbed me. It's one of those films you can walk away from (many times) and not really care if you've missed much. Blah.

Lady in the Water, 2006, directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan.
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard.

I'm surprised that I wasn't on board with this; it's about writing and stories, after all. It was just too ridiculous, I think. Again, could walk out for a few minutes and come back not caring at all if I had missed anything. Bad Television Lady, I know. I should have been right up close, taking notes, but I can usually tell within the first few minutes if something is going to be worth my time, and this just seemed like a huge boner kill from the word go. Blah x 2.

The Bodyguard, 1992, directed by Mick Jackson. Written by Lawrence Kasdan.
Starring: Whitney Houston, Kevin Costner.
She was seriously stunning in this.

Ha! This wasn't on the list, was it! But I felt justified in making the executive decision to include it for a few reasons, 1. I kind of like it. 2. Everyone I knew in high school *hated* it, violently. 3. Kevin Costner needs to be on this list, it's just a given. 4. I can sometimes get a little . . . blunt and bitchy when it comes to the things I write about films, and I don't want to stomp on anyone else's preferences or make it look like I'm in any way being elitist or a know it all about all this---I admit, some of the things I like are cheesy and not great. I'm human. Opinions are like . . . well, you know.

First off, did you know that there were two pretty major nods to classic cinema in this?
1. Rachel (Houston) wears a metallic silver faux armor when she gives the impromptu performance at the club, referencing the character of Maria (when she turns into a crazy sex-robot) in the film German film Metropolis; there are actually scenes from the film on screens in the background as Rachel sings, too!
2. Farmer (Costner) takes Rachel to see Yojimbo, (English translation: The Bodyguard) directed by Akira Kurosawa. Akira Kurosawa is probably one of the greatest directors, ever. I obviously didn't catch either of these two items when I first saw the film, but seeing them last night brought a smile to my face.

The love story is cheesy, the action is mostly minimal, but I thought both actors were good in their roles, believable. The bigger issue here is how completely this film brought me back to 1992. I was sixteen then, with horrible skin, a severely moody disposition, and pining always for the same jerk that deflowered me and then cheated with about half the population of Renville County. I was very much someone who was influenced by a Frank Farmerlike bodyguard who might someday show up and carry me away, probably not unlike the next group of girls in the late nineties would later be by Leo's Jack Dawson in Titanic. And while I'm not the biggest fan of Whitney Houston musically, I think the soundtrack was really quite good, I listened to it hours on end during wrestling tournaments in high school. These memories weren't exactly my favorite ones ever, but it's funny how a (shitty) film has the ability to stir them up, isn't it?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Bounty Hunter, Vanilla Sky.

This was a really unpleasant duo.

The Bounty Hunter, 2010, directed by Andy Tenant. Written by Sarah Thorpe.
starring: Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler, Gio Perez.

"A bounty hunter learns that his next target is his ex-wife, a reporter working on a murder cover-up. Soon after their reunion, the always-at-odds duo find themselves on a run-for-their-lives adventure." (IMDB.)

You know a film is pretty flat when the best thing about it is KE$HA'S music. And I'll say this delicately, as Jennifer Aniston is looking damned good for 40----she's not 23 anymore and Friends is over. Gone are the days of standing around and making repeated and frantic limb gestures while everyone else gets the zingers. Looking pretty isn't really enough. (B O R I N G).

Vanilla Sky, 2001, directed by Cameron Crowe. Written by Alejandro AmenĂ¡bar.
Starring: Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz.

"A successful publisher finds his life taking a turn for the surreal after a car accident with a jaded lover." (IMDB). 

Some people like this. I fricking hated it, more than I've ever hated a film before in my life. And before anyone starts jumping to conclusions, it's not because of Tom Cruise, although I don't really like him, and it's not because of the chances the film takes on the twists in the narrative--if anything THAT kept me watching the screen instead of putting a pillow in front of my face and covering my ears. I hated this film because it was THE. MOST. WRETCHEDLY. written and acted piece of garbage I have ever had the displeasure of seeing. I'm not talking about the story, I'm talking about the screenplay that became this film. The dialogues were literally the shittiest of the shitty, shitty lines read by shitty actors that the shitty director thought were permissible? In the film American Movie, Mark Borchardt is sitting (stoned), watching his radio show being performed and later says, "I was no longer paying attention to the actors and the performances. I realized I was no longer a director; there were stilted performances and I did nothing to rectify the situation."

(!!!) ET TU, CAM?

Of course, Oliver Stone also said once that some actors just don't take direction. He worked with Cameron Diaz himself (Any Given Sunday) and she seemed to be equally cringe-worthy in that. Gag.

And what was with the music, popular songs fading in and out at ridiculously inappropriate times? I don't care what kind of Rolling Stone guru you were, almost every piece of background music was a jarring disruption in an already speed-bumpy movie. 

I hated everyone in this and every line uttered. WORST. FILM. EVER. The end.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dexter Season Finale.

It's been a few days, and I can honestly say I'm . . . content with how things ended. I do feel like I need to address the Lumen factor, since people seem to either love or hate her run on the show.

Being who I am, I cannot express how much I really wanted a happily ever after for Dexter, and I thought maybe Lumen could deliver that. The scene where he brings Harrison over to the house and Lumen just swings him in the air and into her arms? Oh, what might have been. I want Dexter to be happy. And after Lumen's descent into revenge killing, I changed my idea of happily ever after to TEAM DEXTER AND LUMEN, Rape/Murder Avengers and Specialists (don't think for a *moment* that the little Bonnie and Clyde reference Deb dropped a few episodes back was wasted on me). That never would have worked for longer than maybe one episode, but it was a fun pipe dream.

The deeper theme that I dug this season was that of the victim refusing to be a victim. Lumen's dark passenger is a horrible one. Don't forget that Debra Morgan was the only one who really put herself into the shoes of those rape victims; in a show like this that focuses on violence we the viewer (together with the fictional homicide department) become desensitized to these crimes, but the writers still managed to treat the subject matter respectfully. The things that happened to those women were literally the most disturbing things possible. What would it take for a homicide detective to look the other way when a vigilante starts dishing out payback? THOSE RAPES. Lumen's desire for revenge and catharsis after killing each of her attackers was warranted; this might be going too far, but women are likely to appreciate this more than men.

And while this wasn't my favorite season, I appreciate the risks they took with the overall theme, it was major. And Quinn is fast becoming the hottest thing on wheels! I still remember the scene where the tide started to turn with him the season before this one, pulling up in his Cadillac with Deb in the passenger seat, gangster rap blasting? Damn, you've got my vote!

Masuka's best season. More, please!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Beware the Fury of a Patient Man: Punch Drunk Love.

Punch Drunk Love, 2002, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Written by Paul Thomas Anderson.
starring: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

"A beleaguered small-business owner gets a harmonium and embarks on a romantic journey with a mysterious woman." (IMDB).

Before I say anything, I'll say that I *loved* this, loved it in the theater, loved it ever since, and loved it last night. But I can absolutely see how it would really annoy the piss and blood out of people. The score alone was like tin foil on fillings, but I think everything worked as a production because that uncomfortable flow, that tense anti-Sandler-like weirdness (I dare speculate) was the point of it all. I don't think they marketed this as a traditional comedy, but they maybe should have warned people about it since I've talked to about a million people who truly hated this film.

This is why I liked it:

1. I think Adam Sandler did this role really, really well. "Yeah, no, I gotta stay here. I can't leave, I gotta stay here." It was an interesting, believable portrayal of a man who has been beaten down his whole life (by women). I cheered every time he broke something or started beating up inanimate objects.

2. I won't get too political with this (light hearted blog), but those sisters? Horrible human beings, all of them. Shrew/wife-beater/bully, it's all the same to me. 

3. The love story was amazingly well done in the midst of all the erupting chaos. Those scenes where Barry (Sandler) stands with all the ringing, the scolding, the questions, and the forklifts crashing, I realize this is not a traditional picture of what happens in mixed company, but I thought it was a really skillful take on building anger and frustration, and not one that's limited to the socially awkward. Had this not ended well between Barry and Lena I would feel very differently about it, but as things were, I was extremely pleased when all was said and done. 

4. Uncomfortable humor (as a genre) I don't think really got going maintstream until The Office (American production wasn't until 2005), so I don't think that many people quite anticipated this sort of humor, especially from Adam Sandler. Paul Thomas Anderson seems to have a gift for it---one of my very favorite scenes from Boogie Nights was Dirk Diggler's (Mark Wahlberg) uncomfortable deadpan on the couch in the cocaine house with the exploding firecrackers and Jesse's Girl blasting? It went on forever and I'm sure it annoyed people but man, I thought it was killer! Life is full of those weird, awkward pauses and blank looks, isn't it? People say strange things. People lose their tempers. Families members are weird to each other. Humanity is crazy! 

So as Dexter's season finale airs tonight, I'll be taking a break from the shit-fest. I can barely wait to see what tomorrow's mail holds in store for my netflix, if the mail carrier can actually get here, of course. We just got done with the biggest blizzard in at least a couple years over here! 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Happening

The Happening, 2008, directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
starring: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel.

"A strange, horrible and unprecedented crisis begins in Central Park. A high school science teacher, his wife and a young girl do what they can to survive it." (IMDB).

I'm kind of at a loss. What exactly was the point? This would have been ridiculous even as a 30 minute short, let alone a feature length film. (Although if it were a 30 minute short, he would have done well to study Jordy Verill's lonesome death in Creepshow before proceeding; a little ridiculous comedy could have made this much better). And while I appreciate the concept of heralding us all to treat the Earth better, this could have been better disseminated by instead doing a documentary on the amazing chemistry-changing abilities of plants, using some of the suicide scenes as crazy, what-if scenarios for shock value. 

Was this supposed to be scary? The acting sure was. And I suppose I can give that old girl, Mrs. Jones, some credit for being extremely Mother Bates during all of her scenes, but other than that? Blaaaaah. For a tiny moment toward the end, I actually thought that the M. Night Shyamalan Twist was going to be that crazy old Mrs. Jones was really some sort of botany-crazed witch who had learned to communicate with her garden and was consequently getting the plants to make everyone crazy at her command. I think that would have been a better story, actually.

And I couldn't stop giggling at this ridiculously serious Marky Mark; it was as if each scene was an out take of Dirk Diggler explaining to Amber Waves the organization method of his wardrobe ("they're sorted by color as well as designer. . . ")

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pearl Harbor, part deux.

Pearl Harbor, 2001, directed by Michael Bay. Written by Randall Wallace.
starring: Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, Josh Hartnett.

I hadn't ever seen the ending to this film as I think we left the theater about forty minutes in. I just finished the second disk and surprisingly, there were some positives.

1. Alec Baldwin. He stole every scene he was in. Thank God.

2. There was less talk and more action than the first disk, again, thank God.

3. A few assorted scenes of the preparations for the final mission, the guys screwing around, laughing, and later their loaded looks (at each other) when they realize they're pretty much doomed. This sort of sentiment is *crucial* in a war film, this Band of Brothers understanding. It's like the trash dump scene in Toy Story 3; we're dying and I'm scared, will you hold my hand? Humanity. It's a must. And while Michael Bay is no Spielberg, I still cried (a very tiny bit). Shut up, Matt.

So that there was the good. Some items that needed improvement?

Wasn't this Ted Striker's painting in Airplane?
SOUTHERN ACCENTS. Don't do this. Especially don't do this when your actors are young and, sorry, inexperienced. There are two actors who can do accents, Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro. If you absolutely must do the accents, hire MOSES SUPPOSES to go over lines with them, frequently.

LENGTHY DIALOGUE THAT GOES NO WHERE. The writer, Randall Wallace is no stranger to epic stories, he also wrote Braveheart and We Were Soldiers, and these were no where near this cheesy in dialogue. Script doctor. Look into it. The entire first disk could have been cut by at least half; everyone's lines were awful. Redo all that and this film could have actually been something.

RESPECT OUR SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN. If you are making a film about actual events, especially surrounding a war, then don't try to pull some Top Gun/Titanic/Crimson Tide rip off. People lost their lives for Christ's sake, it shouldn't be a music video or a lunch box, it should be tribute. Give these people the Goddamned common courtesy of some original, thoughtful ideas.

This film did not have to be this bad.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Minutes from Pearl Harbor, part one.

There are TWO son-of-a-bitchin' disks on this thing. Two.
M. Night Shyamalan is looking pretty good right now. . .

Matt walks into the room:
Matt: What the hell is this?
Me: Pearl Harbor.
Matt: What? Why?
Me: It's still the shit fest, you know.
Matt: (groan). I wanted to watch that documentary on black metal.

A few minutes later, Jon Voight comes on.
Matt: Who the hell is that?
Me: Jon Voight. He's FDR.
Matt: Nice makeup. He looks like Fat Bastard.

What seems like hours later, the actual "battle scenes" begin. (Lines and lines of cheesy, odious dialogue).
Me: Can you mute it, please?
Matt: (acts as if I've said nothing).

More horrible dialogue. I am cringing and have my eyes closed.
Me: Please. Mute it. Can we just watch the rest of this on mute?
Matt: (giggles). You wanted a shit fest.
Me: Can you at least turn it way down, like WAY down, then, please?

INTERMISSION comes up on the screen. There is another goddamned disk of this yet to be watched.

Under The Cherry Moon.

Under The Cherry Moon, 1986, directed by Prince. Written by Becky Johnston.
starring: Prince, Jerome Benton, Kristin Scott Thomas.

Yes, well this was quite bad.

I don't think I'd ever even heard of it before, so when I read the synopsis I was a little intrigued. (Two friends from Miami are in the Mediterranian are enjoying life by scamming money off of rich women...)

It took me three separate occasions to get through this, but I suppose I'm glad I stuck with it in the end as it's seriously the best thing from this list so far (which isn't saying much, really). Don't get me wrong, it's definitely horrid, but I could maybe dig a little of what it was trying to do, which was to be a Prince production of a faux art film. If you've seen An American in Paris or anything from the French Poetic Realism/ New Wave genre, you'll probably note the influences, although in this film they're flat and extremely cheesy: talking to French kids on the streets, tight extreme close ups on Prince's face, mostly during the beginning, the whole doomed relationship aspect, and so on. It's almost as if Prince went to the library and looked up FRENCH CINEMA, HOW TO: 

"these films often center on characters living on the margins of society, either as unemployed members of the working class or as criminals. After a life of disappointment, these shabby figures find a last chance at intense, ideal love. After a brief period they are disappointed again, and the films end with the disillusionment or deaths of the central characters." (Bordwell and Thompson, Film History, An Introduction, Second Edition, 2003).

When it comes to cinema, I tend to agree with Harry Dunn in that I DON'T KNOW, LLOYD, THE FRENCH ARE ASS HOLES. . . French filmmakers are skillful and they're obviously creative and brilliant, but this is just not really my thing. More on this during Mafia March when I'll try to tackle the Italians. . . 

Moving on. There are two things that could have saved this film
1. Having it be silent, as in no dialogue whatsoever, I'm not kidding, or
2. Getting an actual writer to do it.

There were a few moments that I kind of enjoyed, one was VICTOR MAITLAND (Beverly Hills Cop!) as the father, and secondly, the song Kiss just starting up suddenly when they're in that convertible, and honestly, I fricking hate that song but somehow it worked. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Gigli, Nothing But Trouble, and Mortal Thoughts.

This is going to be a serious test of my endurance, these first three nearly destroyed me.

1. Gigli, 2003. Directed by Martin Brest, written by Martin Brest.
starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez.

"The violent story about how a criminal lesbian, a tough-guy hit-man with a heart of gold, and a retarded man came to be best friends through a hostage." (IMDB).

My response to this summary? There is no real violence, the criminal lesbian and tough-guy hit man are completely clueless in their respective roles, and while they spend a lot of time digressing about their own caricatured attributes, ("Women don't need penises,"/"I'm an Original Gangster,") there is never any validity to anything. Riki (Lopez) was a lesbian but decides to go for Gigli (Affleck). It's also interesting that despite having what is most likely the world's best body, Jennifer Lopez delivers nothing but void. Gigli claims he's a hard core gangster, but he really just shuffles around and cowers to his equally worthless gangster boss. The cameos by Christopher Walken and Al Pacino are as pointless and random as the rest of this film; I cannot believe anyone involved actually stuck this out to the end. I blame the writer; there was nothing that was going to save this wreck.

And far be it from me to be dramatic, but somehow I got sick while I was watching this, probably because Matt kept pulling the pillow away from my face (trust me, the film was still awful with just the audio present, so it wasn't like I was getting relief). Every scene was torture. I think I asked about six times "how long have we been watching this?" ---this is a two hour film. There was a lot of kicking and flailing, and the next day my stomach was sore from having such a fit. I had a drink next to me on the floor and I seriously couldn't risk having a single sip of it because I was already so nauseated. So honestly, since there is nothing that can make this film tolerable (except maybe earplugs and a blindfold) so far this is safely THE WORST FILM EVER MADE. All films henceforth will be judged at least partially on whether or not they are better than GigliMartin Brest? May God have mercy on your soul. 

2. Nothing But Trouble, 1991. Directed by Dan Aykroyd, written by Peter Aykroyd.
starring: Chevy Chase, Demi Moore, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy.

"A businessman finds he and his friends the prisoners of a sadistic judge and his equally odd family in the backwoods of a bizarre mansion." (IMDB).

I think what happened here was that Dan Aykroyd's little brother wanted to, you know, do something major, and unfortunately, no one had the stones to tell him his story was a complete waste. This film was just one big mess. I would probably be able to forgive Demi Moore, she's not a comic actor, but the rest of them should have known better. There was no real organization to anything that happened, I'd try to break down some sort of summary but there's really no point because the story is so incredibly lame you'd probably think I quit watching and just made it all up. 

It's better than Gigli, however, and here's why: 
1. There is a funny scene of Dan Aykroyd (playing a warthog-faced buffoon) eating a hot dog. It's obnoxious and gross, but funny.
2. The Granddaughter (who is John Candy in drag) dangles her enormous undergarments in Chevy Chase's face. It made me chuckle a little because it was a very Chris Farley thing to do, even though it was before Chris Farley's time. 

So it made me laugh twice. Everything else was utterly absurd. 

Yes, Keitel again. No nudity. Too bad.
3. Mortal Thoughts, 1991. Directed by Alan Rudolph, written by William Reilly and Claude Kervin.

"Cynthia comes forward to talk to detective John about the murder of her best friend's husband. The story is told as a series of flashbacks... James was a bullying, verbally and physically abusive husband. His wife Joyce has, on a number of occasions, expressed her intention to kill him. One night when all three are at the fair, Joyce has a row with James, and Cynthia helps James back to the van. But later he was found dead." (IMDB).

This is also a mess of a film, but with the added bonus of New Jersey accents. There is a "twist" at the very conclusion that reveals that Cynthia (Demi Moore) was really the one who killed James (Bruce Willis), and this creates a few more questions about the rest of the film, the most obvious being, SO WAS ALL OF YOUR TESTIMONY BULLSHIT, THEN, OR JUST THE PART ABOUT YOU NOT KILLING HIM? Then again, you're so happy that the film has ended, you will most likely decide not to push it any further. This film was very bad, but less bad than the previous two. Seeing all the acid washed jeans and big hair made me a little nostalgic for 1991. For like, ten seconds.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Lineup.

All right everyone, here are your WORST FILMS EVER MADE: (categorized and everything).

High Profile Disasters (vodka)
1. Gigli
2. Nothing But Trouble
3. Desperate Measures
4. The Happening
5. Pearl Harbor
6. Speed 2
7. Mortal Thoughts
8. Titanic
9. The Bounty Hunter
10. Lady in the Water
11. A Thin Line Between Love and Hate
12. The Wicker Man
13. The Box
13.5 Vanilla Sky

Misunderstood/Rubbed People Wrong (beer)
14. Punch Drunk Love
15. Altered States
16. Cloverfield
17. Under The Cherry Moon
18. Freeway
19. Chronicles of Riddick

Low-Budget/Ridiculous (rum)
20. Funhouse
21. Troll
22. Descent
23. The Mutant Chronicles

Cheese (whiskey)
24. Bring It On, Again
25. Bedazzled
26. The Pink Chiquitas
27. Stepbrothers
28. Blades of Glory
29. Anchor Man
30. Balls of Fury
31. Eight Crazy Nights

Chick Flicks (malt beverages)
32. Nights in Rodanth
33. Friends With Money
34. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
35. All About Steve
36. You've Got Mail
37. Hope Floats
38. Crossroads

Hopefully I can finish this without becoming a certified alcoholic.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Breaker, Breaker. Bad Lieutenant.

Breaker, Breaker, 1977, directed by Don Hulette.

"Truck driver searches for his brother, who has disappeared in a town run by a corrupt judge." (IMDB).

This stars Chuck Norris, and funny enough, it's the first Chuck Norris film I've seen. That said, you can't really *tell* it's Chuck Norris, as he's quite young and his martial arts skills as showcased in the film were a little boring, despite the fact that he'd accomplished quite a lot in competitions before becoming an actor.

In trying to come up with something to say about this production, I was reminded of a strange situation I was involved in during my senior year in high school. I was playing piano for something, and for some reason, my parents decided to show up to watch this. Also, I was pulled over by a highway patrolman on the way there, an Elvis-impersonating one. Not kidding. Anyway. It was a very interesting situation, group of people, etc. Apparently my dad didn't say much, only that 1. "This place looks like the warden at Stillwater opened the cells and asked them if they wanted to come to a wedding," and 2. "Can we get the hell out of here?"

This film was a little like that, as in Any of you Hillbillies wanna be in a film? Line up, and spit your chew out before the camera rolls over you. Naw, you don't need to rehearse your lines. And just duck when Norris comes at yeh, see? Hell no, we ain't need no choreographers, just lift your leg up a few times, pretend like you kickin' em in the head and we all good.

Although I did like all the truckers DRIVING OVER THE TOWN at the end, that was sweet. Thanks, VD. And what the hell was up with that bartender and all her crazy dolls?

Bad Lieutenant, 1992, directed by Abel Ferrera.

"While investigating a young nun's rape, a corrupt New York City police detective, with a serious drug and gambling addiction, tries to change his ways and find forgiveness." (IMDB).

Speechless. I wouldn't even know where to start. When I told Matt I was watching this the other night, he said, "Because you haven't seen enough of Keitel's cock to last you a lifetime?" (Indeed. Gary Reynolds, one of my fave film professors referenced his full frontal in The Piano as proving "what's good for the goose is good for the gander. . . ")

Yeah, no thanks. I need to get this disk out of my house, it's like a Horcrux or something.

DECEMBER FILM LIST (worst films ever made). I'm closing it tonight, so if you want in, you have until midnight. I have a list; it's already making me shudder. Topping the list are Sandy, J-Aniston, and Will Ferrell.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I have two films yet to finish for November (Bad Lieutenant and Breaker, Breaker). On the schedule for December is something I like to call WORST FILM EVER MADE. Tell me what you feel to be the worst film ever made, your experience watching it, anything else you want to add, and I'll send you a Dharma Initiative coffee sleeve (if you want it). I'm thinking of coupling each film viewing with some sort of extravagant drink as well, so as to maybe lessen the clench factor. So if you have any ideas for good accompanying drinks, shoot me those, too.

But no Jag-bombs.

And if you could try to go easy on the Sandy films, I'd really appreciate it.

Also, check out
Donald's Holiday Marathon  if you're interested in films of the season.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Inglourious Basterds and The Departed.

These are the sorts of things that made me quit being a music major halfway through the first quarter in my fourth year and decide to do film instead.

O Quentin, My Quentin: Inglourious Basterds, 2009, directed by Quentin Tarantino.

"In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a group of Jewish-American soldiers known as "The Basterds" are chosen specifically to spread fear throughout the Third Reich by scalping and brutally killing Nazis." (IMDB)

This is not Tarantino's finest film. Diane Kruger, blah, Eli Roth, NO (bears don't have loud outbursts, just let your bat do the talking) and the scene in the basement pub was ages longer than it should have been, but other than that? Still very enjoyable. Brad Pitt is an excellent buffoon. I loved Melanie Laurent as Shosanna (in fact, would I be in the market for any more children down the road, which I'm not, the name would be Emmanuel (le) were it a boy or girl, after Shosanna's vengeful alter-ego). Music, killer, as always. Good use of the John Ford doorway at Lapadite's place ala John Wayne in The Searchers, ala David Carradine in Kill Bill, or any other outsider who is not *supposed* to come inside. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) however, does come inside.

Oui, Shosanna!
Was there ever anyone so slippery? Or cunning? Every scene he was in gave me goosebumps. It was hard to know how to feel about him, obviously he's evil, but he's brilliant and sneaky too. And as it turns out, not above getting caught in his own web of lies. First he loves his nickname, then he hates his nickname? "You don't know why you hate the rat, you just do," (vermin as some sort of obvious metaphor for the Jewish people, yet, this great Jew-hunter is unable to identify someone he shot at as she sits inches from him?) This fascination I had with him quickly turned to disgust once he started chawing that damned Apfelstrudel; chewing noises are where I draw the line. Nonetheless, best supporting actor in 2009, I think it was right on the mark.

The greater theme here, as always, is DON'T FUCK WITH ME. This is why I love, love, love Quentin Tarantino. I think he must dig his mother a lot, because he writes such amazing stories and illustrates such powerful scenes of women's struggles, while not taking anything away from the men. This sort of thing Is. My. Bag, baby.

Irish Mean Streets: The Departed, 2006, directed by Martin Scorcese.

"Two men from opposite sides of the law are undercover within the Massachusetts State Police and the Irish mafia, but violence and bloodshed boil when discoveries are made, and the moles are dispatched to find out their enemy's identities." IMDB.

The Cranberry Juice Dispute.
I love this, too. Some of the scenes between Matt Damon and Vera Farmiga were a little uncomfortable and clunky, realistic, I guess, but just not great.  Everything else was right on. Music killer, as always. Were there any VO narratives on freeze frames? I can't remember. Oscar for Marty, best director of 2006 and God Dammit, it was about time. And although I really, really enjoyed this, something about those Italian thugs from Providence getting whacked just didn't sit right with me in this, ("let's not cry over some spilled Guineas,"); one of them had to be connected to Paulie, right? Boston ain't that far away from New York, right? Right?

Textbook verbiage on theme in a Martin Scorcese picture? "spiritually-charged moral conflict." (A Short History of the Movies by Mast and Kawin) I prefer the DeNiro variety; I think I'll put Casino on the books for December, yeah?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The Book:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling, 2007.

I read it shortly after its release, at my mother's house in Olivia while we waited for what ended up being close to three full months as our house was put back together after a roofer ruined it. But that's another post. I am sad to say that on my first reading, I missed probably 40% of what really happened simply because I wanted to get to the end, to finish it, because I was that jazzed about knowing how it would all wrap up, so I speed-read and finished it in probably a day or two.  I was emotional, more then than I am now as I was five months preggo and concerned about the house and all that was going on, but I'm pretty sure that I cried from about the twenty-third chapter on to the end. As I felt with LOST, Rowling could have pretty much wrote any damned thing, no matter how ridiculous, and I would have swallowed it happily. It's sad when things you like come to an end, granted, we all need closure and catharsis, but it's still a bittersweet thing. There are cheesy things about this book, this specific, final installment of the series, but I swallowed them happily.

My very, very favorite passage:

"He closed his eyes and turned the stone over in his hand three times. . . Lily's smile was widest of all. She pushed her long hair back as she drew close to him, and her green eyes, so like his, searched his face hungrily, as though she would never be able to look at him enough.
'You've been so brave.'
He could not speak. His eyes feasted on her, and he thought that he would like to stand and look at her forever, and that would be enough."

I can't read it without crying.

And while I appreciate the recurring, snappy little bits of prose that have been part of the series from the beginning ("Ron agreed with the sole proviso that their next move took them within reach of a bacon sandwich," or "Snape flapped after the girls, looking ludicrously bat-like, like his older self.") it's the story of these people that really captured me.

The Film:

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, part one, 2010, directed by David Yates.

This, more than any other, was a film for fans of the book. If you didn't like the book, it's almost certain that you will not like this film. The thing I liked most about this film was its subtlety. If you know what's happened and you know what's coming, then you will see this film as a brilliant Valentine to the book, and all of the books previous. If you don't know the names of the characters (and if this bothers you), then you have no business being in the theater. Each time a supporting character, old or new, is introduced, the writers have done their homework; there is just enough background given or somehow otherwise referenced that we still feel as though we're in the loop.

Ollivander: Wandmaker. Owns Ollivander's Wand Shop. You should remember him. Also referenced by the woman being interrogated by Dolores Umbridge at the Ministry; "I didn't steal my wand, I got it at Ollivander's!"

Elphias Dodge: Friend of Dumbledore's. Wrote obituary in Daily Profit shown in one of Harry's first scenes before he leaves Privet Drive (camera lingers on name and photo in an obvious way). Speaks with Harry at Fleur and Bill's wedding. Mentions Aberforth Dumbledore, who will become important in next film.

Xenophilius Lovegood: should need no explaining at all.

Bathilda Bagshot: Writer of History of Magic. Referenced by Elphias Dodge and Aunt Muriel at Fleur and Bill's wedding.

This is a great film because they refuse to spoon-feed you. There is subtlety (certain scenes just end and fade to black as though they were little vignettes), there is comedy (Mad Eye Moody in the flight of the 7 Harrys and dialogue, George Weasley's silent expression changes as he watches Harry and Ginny make out), and dammit, there IS action.

The opening sequence at Malfoy's ends with Nagini eating the Muggle Studies professor; it's played down, but the snake is interesting. Flight of the 7 Harrys; it's tense and exciting. The revelation of Kreacher's secret and his subsequent capture of Mundungus Fletcher; this is not exactly Michael Bay-style jets flying over a salute-level action, but it's interesting, and driving! The Ministry of Magic. Encountering Nagini at Godric's Hollow. The Destruction of the Horcrux. Bellatrix at Malfoy Manor. The Animated re-telling of the story of the three brothers. Voldemort has the Elder Wand.

I hadn't ever been to a film on opening night before; experiencing this was amazing. There was applause (mostly for DOBBY!), there were tense, hushed speculations being reasoned (whose patronus led Harry to the sword?) and there were sniffs and tears (I'm thinking mine were probably the loudest). I had a great time. And while I honestly *cannot wait* for the second installment of the film, I have a very strong suspicion that I will walk into the theater, sit down, open my bag of skittles, and promptly start bawling because I will not want it to end. I made bets with myself during the night of LOST'S finale as to just how long I'd be able to keep it together-----I watched the special before the actual feature, you know, the ones where fans wrote in their LOST goodbyes and they edited them onto scenes from the show? Yeah, complete water works.

To be continued in July. . .