Zandalee (1991) Review: A Nic Cage performance that gives me hope for the future

January 13, 2014 § 2 Comments

My last post on this site, besides the one telling you that I was coming back to this site, had to do with being 30 (I’ve since turned 31, though I still tell people I’m 30 — it’s just easier?) and how I was looking forward to the decade ahead of me. I wouldn’t say that my life has turned to shit since then and I wouldn’t say it’s blossomed into fairy dust either. It’s just been an existence – my own existence – and it’s given me a lot of time to think.

To think my own thoughts, to live inside of my own head, to be the only one to answer my own questions (the ones that Google or Wikipedia can’t answer) and to continue to exist. I moved out of a two-bedroom apartment that I shared with a roommate and for the last four months have been living alone in a small (but comfy) studio apartment. So by remaining single I haven’t only gotten less alone, I’ve gotten lonelier. To fill the void of that loneliness I eventually found my inevitable destination, the place that I’ve come to expect all people would turn to after a few months of solitary confinement, is of course the life work of one Nicolas Cage.

The preeminent Hollywood acting figure of the last 30 years.

I chose my words as carefully as I could there, because Cage is so many things all at once. At one time and at no time, Cage can be Bruce Willis or Tom Hanks or Joaquin Phoenix or (and this is probably the most important distinction) Steven Seagal. Some of the best movies I have ever seen star Nic Cage and some of the worst (read: best) movies I’ve ever seen star Nic Cage.

So I decided to fill the void of my heart with the volume of work produced by Cage. As I have done with sports for many years, I turned Nic Cage into an Excel spreadsheet that I could then look at, examine, study, and with any luck, understand. Imdb listed just over 60 credits to his name that have been released and are available for public consumption, and I have seen less than half of them. Most of which were in the latter part of his career, almost completing ignoring how Cage trudged through Hollywood for his first 10 years of “acting” (those quotes are up for debate, as is so much that is connected to Cage) until finally becoming a bankable box office star with The Rock in 1996.

Was “early Cage” going to be the same as “early Metallica” or “early Saved by the Bell,” in that it would the only good, pure, true form we see of an artist before they are “ruined” by the power of fame and money? Or, did Cage only improve over time, finally reaching his pinnacle of acting success with Adaptation in 2002? Or is Cage’s entire career linear — just a mish-mash of the bad-good-terrible-great-ohmygodwhatshappening-awesome-aNationalTreasureMovie?

When I look at Cage’s career as a whole, I think about my own career:

“What should accomplish in my first 10 years as a writer?”

“When does my career as a writer actually start? From the time I started writing or from the time I started to get paid for writing or from the time anyone noticed that I was being paid to write?”

“Can I excuse past actions under the claim that “I was young and I didn’t know what I was doing!” or should I take more risk and more chances because I can make such excuses? And would that attitude not allow me to be more free than someone who truly relied on their craft as financial support?”

“Who the fuck is Nic Cage’s agent?”

And not only thinking in terms of career, but in life. I’m 31 now and I look around and I don’t see my friends as having accomplished a lot either. I only know of one who is in an actual relationship. All of us are still working for “the man” and all of our dreams still exist as nothing more than that; dreams.

Nic Cage was born on January 7, 1964 in Long Beach, California. He turned 31 in 1995, before winning an Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, before his “big three” movie deal that catapulted him to action movie stardom (The Rock, Con-Air, Face/Off), before the National Treasure franchise, but not long before. By then he was a movie star, a top-billed actor you could sell as the lead in It Could Happen To You, but he hadn’t quite reached the pinnacle of success he had strived for.

But he was close.

I am now 31 and living in Long Beach, California. I have not quite reached the pinnacle of success I have strived for. I am not even entirely sure if “strived” is a proper past tense of “strive” because the editor gives me a squiggly red line but Merriam-Webster says it’s okay, though I still have doubts. Am I on the precipice of my Leaving Las Vegas or am I on the edge of my Kiss of Death? Have I even reached my Fast Times at Ridgemont High?

In 1991, Cage made a movie called Zandalee. It was directed by Sam Pillsbury, who’s biggest credit is Free Willy 3: The Rescue and who’s most recent credit is National Lampoon Presents: Surf Party (2013) starring Matthew Lillard. It was written by Mari Kornhauser, the same woman that would go on to write F.T.W. in 1994. (Amazingly ahead of it’s time if only the FTW didn’t stand for Frank T. Wells, the title character played by Mickey Rourke.)

For what Zandalee lacked in directing and writing talent, it made up for in star power.

The cast didn’t only include Cage, but other well-known actors such as Joe Pantoliano, Steve Buscemi, Marisa Tomei, Ian Abercrombie, and Viveca Lindfors. Besides actors, it also had Judge Reinhold, Aaron Neville, and a then-unknown and still-unknown Erika Anderson, who played the title role of Zandalee. (FYI: Zandalee is a name.)

Zandalee is available on YouTube with over 18,000 views, and the description of the video is only a biographical paragraph on Anderson, leading at least one writer (me) to believe that Anderson herself (or a family member) was the one to make Zandalee available for free on the internet. Which of course was stopped by nobody for copyright infringement, because who really cares?

Nobody even cared in 1991 when the film was instead slated as a direct-to-VHS American premier rather than a theatrical release, presumably because someone at the studio watched it.

While I was nervous when I began to watch Zandalee, worried that it would simply be bad rather than laughably-bad, I was dead wrong. Despite some boring bits here and there, I quickly realized that even in 1991, Nic Cage was Nic Cage. His entrance into the movie (a bachelor party scene with strippers quickly cuts to a hallway and a silhouette of Cage leaning over, putting his hands on his knees, and spinning his head around like he’s at a rock concert) immediately released any tension I was feeling about the film and allowed me to enjoy the next hour and a half.

Cage’s brilliant insanity continued throughout the movie as he started a love affair with Zandalee, the wife of Reinhold’s character, from screaming “Fuck! Shit! STRIKE (rips shirt off) ME DOWN!” in a church, to covering himself in black paint as he has a mental breakdown in the final 15 minutes of the movie. The bonus of seeing a young Buscemi (when he kind of looked like a normal guy) to seeing nudity on YouTube (there are minute marks in the comment section that I thought correlated to insane Cage moments but instead pointed to Anderson-is-naked moments) and seeing Joey Pants in a dress (he plays a cross-dresser in the movie for no good reason) to a cameo by Tomei and Reinhold just trying his hardest to be an actor (with the worst Southern accent I’ve probably ever heard) make Zandalee as entertaining as I’ve come to expect any movie starring Cage.

I now carry that hope into my own life, as a person floundering through his own existence. At a time when I don’t know where I am at in both my personal life and my career. I don’t know if my “Zandalee” is in my past or my future, but I know that pleasant surprises exist all over a person’s timeline.

You just have to be willing to look.

Zandalee Stats:

- Cage’s 15th feature film

- Runtime, 100 min

- 4.3 on Imdb, making it tied (with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance) for his 3rd-worst rated film.

- No U.S. box office

- Budget unknown

- Cage hair: incredibly fake looking mullet, three muskateers-style goatee. In other words: top notch.

Zandalee is available on YouTube for whenever you want to watch it. I believe that the 18,000 views on YouTube would be a fair estimate of the total number of people to actually see this film for what it’s worth.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 Nic Cage’s.

 

“boys have a penis, girls have a vagina”: the simplest, yet most effective joke ever told

March 18, 2013 § 1 Comment

I don’t have much to say today.  If you’re wondering what Subway’s response to my complaint was, so am I.  Denise apparently did not take my email very seriously, which is bullcrap because what if the world is completely robbed of Sub-Standard?  All I’m asking for is one chance, lady-who-responds-to-Subway-customer-complaints.

I just want to point out a quick observance of something we are all probably familiar with but something I also have never put much thought into.  For the purpose of… there is no purpose.  Appreciate it with me because I’m lonely?  Yeah, I guess that’ll do.

I was seven when Kindergarten Cop (1990) was released.  When you think about it, Kindergarten Cop is a great movie because it’s one of those movies that should transcend at least a couple of generations.  I enjoyed it when I was 7 or 8 and saw it.  I feel like it should also appeal to someone that was in high school at the time, or older, but then again this is completely untrue for me to claim because I am totally biased.  I will never be able to see Kindergarten Cop in the way that someone born in 1960 is able to see Kindergarten Cop.  I watch it now and I still love it, so that’s why I feel like it’s something for adults, but a lot of that is based in nostalgia.

Yet I have no idea how an Arnold Schwarzenegger-Penelope Ann Miller vehicle would be anything but a hit.  Not to mention Miko f***ing Hughes, the most child actor of my generation.  And it was Hughes that stole the show by delivering the line of the movie, the quote that should bring down the house whether it’s full of 7-year-old’s like me, or older people like my mommy and daddy.

>>>>>>>>>>>>

I was sitting here today thinking of stand-up comedy and joke-telling and came back to one of the classics: The differences between men and women.  Of course, “Women be shoppin’!” is one of my all-time favorites, with Dave Chappelle delivering the classic line in The Nutty Professor.  It’s simple comedy (terrible comedy when not done ironically, which obviously it was here) that gets to the base of “what’s the joke about the differences between men and women?”

Women like to shop and men don’t!

Not much different than “black people walk like this…. but white people walk like this!”  We laugh at our differences and that’s all observational humor is meant to do, laugh at who we are and what we can relate to, but “Women be shoppin!” was very, very simple.  But you can get even more shallow than that.

I never thought about the joke in Kindergarten Cop as anything more than that, just a joke, and perhaps it could be said that it’s even a “lazy” attempt at humor, but now I see it as more than that.  It’s more like the most perfect joke there is, because it points out the differences between men and women.  No, it points out the difference between men and women.  It’s exactly, to a tee, who a kindergarten student would do for observational humor if he was giving a stand-up routing to his class.  And now I love it more than ever.

Never forget:

Boys have a penis, and girls have a vagina.

Indeed they do, Miko.  Indeed they do.

 

The Room: The Book

November 30, 2012 § 3 Comments

Writing “a book” can be rather daunting if you’ve never done it before.  Just ask me: I’ve never done it before and I’m daunted!  However, I think I’ve stumbled upon a book idea that is not all that daunting because really it would just be a collection of essays on one particular subject.  It’s a subject that I’ve spent countless hours going over in my head, I once started a blog about it, and I know that I could expound upon the subject for at least 500 pages without even feeling like I had fully covered it.  (Though I won’t write 500 pages.)  If you’ve read the title of this article, then you probably already know that I’m talking about the 2003 Tommy Wiseau film, The Room.

The Room isn’t just considered to be one of the worst films ever made, but I believe that it’s one of the most thought-provoking movies in the history of cinema.  No fuck that, it is the most thought-provoking movie ever made.  I have seen a lot of deep movies that made you think, but none quite like the mind-taxing phenomena that Wiseau somehow produced almost a decade ago.

Last night I was having a conversation with my roommate about a line of dialogue.  Let me repeat that: Last night I had an entire conversation (that could have gone on forever if we had wanted it to) about a single line of dialogue.  It seems like it is so simple, but The Room is somehow layered unlike most movies and the most amazing thing about it is that it was probably just an accident.  (The use of the word ‘probably’ also hints at the fact that there’s a thread of possibility that it was not an accident and the world has just been trolled by Wiseau.  In which case, my brain is Humpty Dumpty.)

The character of Johnny (Wiseau) is one the roof (again) and talking to Denny (how much I could talk about Denny…) and discussing what movie they should go see.  Denny asks Johnny and Johnny replies: “We could see…. Oh Denny, don’t plan too much.  It may not come out riiiight!”

Immediately my mind races:

- Don’t plan too much, for it might be all a wasted exercise.

- How much planning is too much planning?  Because in this case, the only “plan” that Denny proposed was deciding on a film before you get to the theater…

- Why is Johnny brushing off Denny here?  It seems as though perhaps Johnny could just be completely oblivious as to what movies are out, what movies even are, and instead pushes back on Denny with a lecture about planning.

- We’re talking about going to see a movie here.

- Then I also wonder, since we ARE talking about a movie here, is this sort of meta-commentary on the film itself?  Was Tommy saying “Look, don’t plan too much on making a movie because in the end it might be shit.”  OR was he saying “I actually DID plan too much, this is my life’s passion, and look what we have here even after all of that careful planning?”

Ultimately I don’t believe that Johnny and Denny ever actually went to see a film that day.  Maybe they should have planned better.

That’s what can come about from a single line of dialogue, and I’m paraphrasing.  A single scene, such as the masterful Chris-R scene, would take forever to analyze.  Or the “Hi Doggy” scene, Jesus.  So now I begin my journey towards writing up as many essays on the movie as I can, both analyzing scenes and trying to hopefully find answers on the intent and result of what happened in The Room.  It’s not something that I could just let rest.  It doesn’t really matter if anyone reads it, I’m not sure that there’s much of a market for it, but we’ll see what comes out the other end.  I’m not sure what’s going to happen, that would be too much planning.

 

Birdemic “Hanging Out With My Family” Lyrics

November 7, 2012 § 5 Comments

Birdemic is easily one of the best movies ever made and I can’t say that I could find many better ways to spend 80 or so minutes of my time.  Imagine writing a screenplay that was 20 pages long and then thinking, “Damn, I need to find out how to make this last 80 or so minutes.”

- Really long scenes of people just driving

- Really long scenes of people walking to the next scene

- Awkward pauses, hundreds of unnecessary beats between dialogue

- Full “people dancing to songs” sequences

And there you have, “Birdemic: Shock and Terror”!

I was just listening to the Grammy-winning song “Hanging Out With My Family” by Damien Carter and thought “Man, I need to read those lyrics right now!”  But alas, I couldn’t find them transcribed anywhere on the internet.  Hey, I have a blog.  And I can do whatever the hell I want here.

So finally, internet, here are the lyrics to “Hangin’ Out With My Family” by Damien Carter from Birdemic:

(speaking) (inaudible) long time, show me some money, I think somebody’s callin’, gotta go. (laugh) 

(chorus)

Just hangin’ out, hangin’ out

Hangin’ out with my family, having ourselves a paaaarty

Just hangin’ out, hangin’ out

Hangin’ out with my family, having ourselves a paaaarty

 

A cool summer breeze, make me feel at ease

The barbecue is roarin’, and Uncle Phil is scorin’!

Big Mama’s in the kitchen, and everybody’s wishin’

That she’s fixin’, their FAV-orite dish

 

Just hangin’ out, hangin’ out

Hangin’ out with my family, having ourselves a paaaarty

Just hangin’ out, hangin’ out

Hangin’ out with my family, having ourselves a paaaarty

Just hangin’ out, hangin’ out

Hangin’ out with my family, having ourselves a paaaarty

Just hangin’ out, hangin’ out

Hangin’ out with my family, having ourselves a paaaarty

 

Young ladies are doin’ their make-up, and the brother’s can’t wait to HOOK up

Just gots (?) on the radio, and I hear somebody say HEL-LO

So grandma starts to dancin’, and grandma starts to prancin’

To make sure that the fellas, don’t try any glancin’!

 

Just hangin’ out, hangin’ out

Hangin’ out with my family, having ourselves a paaaarty

Just hangin’ out, hangin’ out

Hangin’ out with my family, having ourselves a paaaarty

 

 

There you have it!  This has NOT been an edition of my “Terrible Lyrics” series.  These are clearly superior to any Ke$ha song ever.  Just a song about hanging out in the summer, summer, summertime with Uncle Phil (wow) and brothers hookin’ up with grandma’s that are dancin’ and prancin’.  (I can’t endorse that all of these lyrics are 100% accurate but they are at least 95% accurate.)

Maybe Damien Carter can enlighten us.

And you got to read them without 17 pop-ups and freezing up your computer like most lyrics websites!

 

 

The Best Horror Movie Sequels

October 31, 2012 § 6 Comments

It’s the most wonderful time, of the year

There be werewolves and demons

and teenagers screamin’

They’re full of good fear

It’s the most wonderful time, of the yeaaaaarrrr!

Happy Halloween!

I was born and raised on horror movies.  Well, that doesn’t sound right because it makes it seem like my mom forced me to watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre before I could do my homework.  I was born, then I was raised, and as that was happening I developed a love for the macabre.  Probably to the point where other parents would say “that’s one weird fucking kid.”

Oh well.

Through the years I’ve gone through phases and stages where I’ll take a step back and not watch a scary movie for awhile, but then like a drug addict or food addict (as I know all too well) I will go on binges.  There’s the Halloween Horror Challenge that I did where you watch 31 scary movies in October.  (I completed the task in about two weeks.)  Or the time I worked at Hollywood Video and they let you rent three movies at a time for free.  (In the 6 months that I worked there, I watched over 300 movies.)

Still single, ladies!

With that being said, I’ve obviously seen a lot of horror movies and just about every horror movie franchise movie worth (and not worth) watching.  Here are my favorites (and worst) of all those series:

Sleepaway Camp III (Imdb: 4.9)

 

Angela Baker (who is clearly not the woman on the cover, but is played by Bruce Springsteen’s little sister) was definitely one of my first killer crushes.  I think I actually saw the Sleepaway Camp sequels before I saw the original, which is good because I might have never watched them if I had done it in reverse.  The first movie is actually pretty boring, and then all of has a sudden disturbing and shocking ending out of nowhere, and that might have ruined me for the series (and “girls”) forever.

Pamela Springsteen showed up for the next two however, and everything was going to be okay.  Sleepaway Camp II hits all of the right notes of a campy, cheesy horror flick that is desperately trying to nibble off of the leftovers of the Friday the 13th franchise, but it falls a bit short in one area that #3 excels in: Being terrible.

If I’m going to watch a campy, cheesy, gratuitous horror movie, then I want it to be as bad, cheesy, and gratuitous as possible.  The premise of SC3 is that a program unites teens from bad neighborhoods and good neighborhoods in order to build camaraderie towards the two sides, while camping.  Because if there’s anything that inner city kids want to do, it’s camp with rich kids.  If there’s one thing that rich kids want to do, it’s camp with city kids.  And racism?  The movie has plenty of it.  Actors and actresses in their late-20s (and possibly 30s) playing teenagers?  Hey, that’s the way of the world in 1989.

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland is not a Waste-of-Time.

Worst: Return to Sleepaway Camp.  A pointless attempt to revitalize the franchise without Angela.

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (part 5) (Imdb: 4.3)

The Two Goreys

A close second was probably Jason X, the Friday movie that wasn’t afraid to say “fuck it, we’re going live!” and be so satirical that if you understood satire you’d absolutely love it.  But Friday 5 has always been and always will be, my favorite Friday the 13th movie.  Period.  (The first one actually isn’t very good.)

Friday the 13th 5 has it all:

- Corey fucking Feldman

- Teens having sex in the woods

- Flashbacks

- Teens having sex in cabins

- A punk rock chick

- A young black kid named Reggie

- Reggie’s older brother “Demon”, who gets killed while taking a shit

- Crazy kids, because this one is set in a halfway house in the woods

- Seriously, the main character Tommy was attacked by Jason as a kid and so when he grows up where do they send him?  TO A HALFWAY HOUSE IN THE WOODS!  Don’t they have any city halfway houses?!

I could go on forever about this, such as the first scene at the halfway house where a teen murders another teen and saves Jason some work, or the surprise ending, but that’s plenty.

Worst: Friday the 13th Part II. Why?

 

 

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part III: Dream Warriors (Imdb: 6.3)

NOM-NOM-NOM-mare on Elm Street

Heather Langenkamp? Check.

Laurence Fishburne? Check.

A young, hot, and sexy Patricia Arquette?  Triple-check.

Probably the best casting job of any of the movies (Sorry, Johnny), Dream Warriors manages to excel as both a good movie and a ridiculous Nightmare on Elm Street movie.  The Nightmare movies provide value to the horror market because anything is possible in a dream.  That’s where they can either go horribly right or horribly wrong (looking at you, Freddy’s Dead) but in this case it goes horribly right.

Set in a mental institution for teens that can’t sleep because of Freddy, Arquette and her new buddies struggle to survive as he comes and gets them anyway because if he didn’t… well, that wouldn’t be a very good installment in the franchise!  In this case, the dream warriors use their powers to try and defeat Freddy because “Hey, we’re in the dream too, let’s make shit happen.”

The deaths are all solid (TV on the head, hell below the bed) and you actually feel something for the characters.  About as rare a quality as you’ll find in any horror franchise sequel.  And why not?  Academy Award-nominee Frank Darabont co-wrote the screenplay.  It was also only one of three Nightmare films that Craven was credited with co-writing.  Dream Warriors isn’t just one of the best in the Nightmare series, it’s one of the best horror sequels ever.

Worst: A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)  There have been some bad sequels in this franchise, but nothing compares to an almost shot-for-shot remake of one of the ten best horror movies ever made.  Psycho’s remake seemed to have some kind of point, the Friday the 13th “remake” was an original story, but the Nightmare remake was the same thing as the original but incredibly worse.  It was a fucking travesty and likely why the series looks dead for now.

Scre4m (Imdb: 6.2)

“Now younger and sexier!”

You can’t fuck with me on the Scream series.  The original was the movie that shaped me as a movie fan, as a horror movie fan, as a person that wanted to write screenplays.  The first two sequels were fine movies, but I knew in my heart that nothing could touch Scream.

“I’ve seen that movie twenty god damn times!!!” as Casey Becker would say.  Except that I’ve seen Scream more like 100 god damn times.  I wanted to memorize it word-for-word, stab-for-stab.  So my expectations for any sequel would be both high (because it’s got Neve Campbell, my love, my heart, my inspiration) but low because it’s not the original.  However, Scre4m (or “Scre-four-em” as I pronounce it) actually exceeded expectations by a mile.  Tons of kills, lots of interesting characters, a good story, and the funniest installment in the franchise by far.

In fact, one of the best pieces of horror satire this side of Shaun of the Dead.

I have no idea if Scr5am could ever hope to match it, but Kevin Williamson is contractually-obligated to write it if they do make it, so it couldn’t be that bad.

Worst: Fuck you, there is no worst Scream movie.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (4.8)

Muy bien!

Finally, it’s time to hit on the franchise of the day, Halloween.  And it’s the most difficult one of all, but not for the right reasons.

1. Halloween is one of the best movies ever made.  But it was great based off of suspense, not off of kills.  John Carpenter never directed another installment, and subsequent sequels basically only had one thing on common: Michael Myers.  Therefore, none of the sequels were ever that great and often blended together.  They could never re-create the suspense of the original, instead trying to do what every other franchise does: Kill everybody in the world.

2. The franchise has taken serious turns and gone through incredibly different phases, much like an actual kid growing up.  Could we say that Halloween: H20 is the best sequel, because it returns Jamie Lee Curtis and also has LL Cool J?  Could we say that Resurrection is the best because it’s probably the most-watchable-terrible movie in the franchise and has Tyra Banks and Busta Rhymes?  Could we say that Rob Zombie’s Halloween is the best because it takes chances unlike any other in the franchise?

Yeah, we could probably say all of that.  There are definitely installments that are terrible (I count 3 of them) but none that were ever phenomenal.  They’re all flawed.  So why Halloween 5?

There’s something about the character of Jamie Lloyd that I just always identified with.  She’s one of the few horror “heroines” that I ever invested emotionally into.  I cared about the relationship she had with the older females in 5 and wanted them to survive.  I couldn’t tell you a whole lot about the plot, it probably doesn’t even exist, but I did care about Jamie.  I can’t say that about anyone in Rob Zombie’s version, or about the one that had Paul Rudd, and definitely not about any motherfucker in Season of the Witch.  Halloween 5 (and 4 because she’s in that too) are probably the ones I’d put on today if it were Halloween.

Holy shit, it’s Halloween!

The Worst: Halloween 3: Season of the Witch and Halloween 2 (2009)

I will never forget the disappointment I faced in sixth grade when on Halloween my friend Doug and I rented Season of the Witch from Blockbuster and then kept saying, “WHERE THE FUCK IS MICHAEL MYERS?!”  What a piece of shit.  But then 27 years later, Rob Zombie made a sequel to his own pretty-good version of the franchise and might have actually made Season of the Witch watchable in comparison.

Halloween 2 is one of the few movies I’ve ever turned off.  I almost always finish a horror movie that I start.  That’s how bad that piece of shit was and it probably ruined Zombie, a director that used to be one of my favorites, for me forever.

Stop trying so hard to be edgy and focus more on something that’s actually good.  I know that you can, but you’ll never touch another Michael Myers film again.  Maybe nobody should.

Happy Halloween, you fuckin’ freaks!

Hot Girls From My Childhood: Melinda Clarke As A Zombie!

August 24, 2012 § 3 Comments

I think that a criticism of this series might be that I come off as a male chauvinist.  That it’s sexist to call women “hot” or possibly implying that I think attractiveness is all that women are good for.  That idea is what one might call, “Bull.  Shit.”

I love women.  If anything, I am a feminist more than I am a chauvinist.  I was raised by a woman, and only a woman.  I grew up with only women.  I am probably single partially for that fact because I am not handy around the house and I can’t change the oil on a car, but I definitely relate well to women.  Did you not have any crushes as a kid?  Did you not hang a Mark-Paul Gosselaar poster in your room?

Of course you did.  We all did, men and women alike.  He’s Mark damn Paul freaking Gosselaar.

The reason that I personally like this series is that it gives me an opportunity to reminisce, not on famous sex symbols, but of the lesser-knowns.  Perhaps the forgottens.  The women that shaped the tastes I have in other women as of today, which is probably why I am single because of course none of them are attainable to a schlub like me.

I should have had a crush on Kimmy Gibbler instead of Alex Mack.  (I feel so creeped to write that at 29 that I feel the need to remind everyone that I was 12.)

One such woman actually was a woman from the moment I fell in love.  I was only 11 or 12 at the time, but Melinda Clarke was already 24.  If you looked at her today, you’d say “Oh yeah, of course she’s beautiful.  I mean come on, she’s gorgeous” if you are the type to use “gorgeous.”  I am usually not because I guess I’m not secure enough in my manhood to do so, but I just did so what the hell am I talking about?  Look at her today:

 

Well, probably not literally “Today” because holy crap that would be fast to get a picture on the internet and have it as one of the top results on Google Images.  It also looks like it’s taken at the Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards (“what kid doesn’t look up to Melinda Clarke?” he said sarcastically) and I’m almost certain that those weren’t today.  I know because I definitely still watch them.  (Again, why do I have to come off so creepy?  Maybe this whole thing is a bad idea)

Yes, Clarke is a bombshell.  If you “didn’t have a thing for redheads” you’d probably question your entire life once you saw Melinda Clarke.  You might try olives or mushrooms again because maybe you were wrong about those too.

However, when I fell in love with her, she didn’t look anything like this.  Not only because she was younger, but because she had an entirely different kind of make-up on.  When I fell in love with Melinda Clarke… she was a zombie.

 

If you’re asking yourself, “What the hell is wrong with Kenneth?” then welcome to the club.  I’m questioning some things about myself at this very moment.  But then again I do feel justified for this crush.  She is about the most beautiful 1993 zombie ever.  Or at least in 1993, since I basically just pigeonholed my whole statement there into that year.

Background:

I was and am a major horror movie buff.  I grew up watching them from a very young age.  I ran to the horror section at Blockbuster every time my mom graciously took me there, and then the teenager behind the counter would say “Stop running, freak.  This is a Blockbuster.”

The Return of the Living Dead is my absolute favorite zombie film of all-time, with exception to Shaun of the Dead, which I’d classify maybe a little bit more of a comedy than a zombovie.  (Yeah, I know that zomedy works better there, but you can’t tell me what to do.  Who are you, the word-mashing police?)  It’s not the most popular choice for best zombie film ever made, but it’s my choice.  Opinions are funny that way.

Well, this is not Return of the Living Dead, in case you didn’t know, but it is Return of the Living Dead 3.  Melinda (who at that time went by “Mindy Clarke”) plays Julie Walker, a rebel without a cause who is in love with her boyfriend or something something zombies.  Plot doesn’t matter here.  What matters is that she was a cute 24-year-old girl that became infected and then started to transform her look into the craziness you see before you.

 

I don’t know exactly what it was.  The shit in her face, her naturally good looks, or the partially exposed boob, but I fell in love.  I didn’t realize until just this moment that my love of damaged women must have started right around this time. (holy shit that’s a whole ‘nother issue.)

But yeah, this is like the ultimately-damaged woman.  She was a young, beautiful girl with her whole life in front of her and then she started to turn into this flesh-desiring beast who mutilated her body and could not be saved… yet me and her fictional boyfriend would have done anything to be with her no matter what.  There’s probably a message here that goes deeper than the undead, sort of like a metaphor for young people that become addicted to life-altering drugs, but I think I’ll just keep it simple with the “She’s a zombie!” thing.

I was such a horror movie dork in fact that I subscribed to Fangoria Magazine.  Not the usual first-thing-you-subscribe-to magazine for most kids, but I know what I wanted and my mom was cool enough to let me have it.

One day, this arrived:

HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS?

Not only that, but it contained a full-length poster of Melinda Clarke as the zombie Julie Walker!  This was my dream come true.  Now I knew exactly who I would hang up next to The Goss.  At this moment, Clarke was my main squeeze.

Over time, that faded.  Clarke became a television “star” of sorts, skipping from show to show and probably definitely now best known for The OC.  But not for me.  For me, she’ll always be my zombie bride.

In conclusion…

Yes, I am single.  Why do you ask?

 

 

 

 

Tom Hardy, Channing Tatum and the Hollywood “Star” System

August 15, 2012 § 11 Comments

Don’t ask me how or why certain articles prompt me to write a response, but sometimes they just do.  As a person that is not only passionate about movies, but about “how Hollywood works,” this new article on The Hollywood Reporter is forcing my hand to write a rebuttal based on one statement that is untrue:

That Channing Tatum is a major star and that Tom Hardy is not.  That’s simply bullshit.

Now, the article cites “top studio executives” and “one mega-agent” rather than make the bold statement on it’s own, but THR still has to back up any claim that they put on their own site and magazine.  I would:

A) Ask that they tell me what qualifies as a “mega-agent” because it sounds more like a lesser-known Marvel sidekick. and…

B) Tell me why Tatum’s career has ballooned to the level of a “Tom Cruise” and Hardy’s has not.

It pains me to even go down this road because I’ve been a Tatum fan for years.  Before Ryan Gosling stole my man-crushed heart, Tatum was one of the first guys that I had to come out for and say, “Yes, I am a straight man and I like Channing Tatum and acknowledge that women should find him attractive.”  That’s about as hetero as I can say it.  But THR blatantly glosses over Tatum’s failures with… “weathered a bunch of flops.”

Did he?  Did he really just “weather a bunch of flops”?  How do we fine weathering that storm?  Because we should really take a closer look at the flops.

I first recognized that Tatum might actually have some talent in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, but it was the Step-Up franchise that got him noticed on a “this guy might be a blockbuster sell” to Hollywood and the box office.  So he starred in a movie that had the “concept” to be a box office or critical success, and it was neither.

Remember “Fighting”?  No?  That’s probably because you are a human and Fighting was a fairly crappy and forgettable movie (5.3 on Imdb) that didn’t make money ($23 million worldwide.)  Do we blame the Terrence Howard sinking ship on that one?

Well, Tatum got his guaranteed franchise success that year with GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra.  The film pulled in $302 million worldwide, BUT… Cost $175 million to make, is based on one of the most generational hits of the last 50 years, and was not very good (5.7 on Imdb.)  With or without Tatum, it makes some money and gets a sequel.

Next, Tatum uses the looks to get into a Nicholas Sparks movie, The Vow Dear John, and it pulls in $80 million on a $25 million budget, but the critical success is still lacking.  Again, could the movie have not made $80 million on simply the sell of “Nicholas Sparks”?  Some girls and guys needed a good cry, and so they spent $40 on a date night.

He does a supporting turn in The Dilemma and that doesn’t help keep the Vince Vaughn/Kevin James movie from becoming a major flop.  ($48 million on a $70 million budget.)

He does the low-key film The Son of No One with Al Pacino.  A real opportunity to get critical success, if not box office success, and it doesn’t get either: 5.1 on imdb and 18 on metacritic.

His supporting turn in Haywire also doesn’t keep it from becoming a box office and critical flop.  It was only last year that The Eagle was released in theaters, and it scored slightly better with critics (55/100 metascore) but makes $27 million on a $25 million budget.  Lucky that they didn’t spend John Carter money on it, otherwise Tatum’s career could have been over, but he still kept getting chances.

It’s good that he did because that’s when the three movies that THR mentions come out: The Vow, 21 Jump Street, and Magic Mike.  Yes, Tatum has starred in three hits in 2012 and his star has never shown brighter.  The Vow made $125 million on $30 million.  21 Jump Street made $201 million on $42 million and could be the funniest movie of the year.  Magic Mike was the real surprise, hitting $111 million on only $7 million.

The total value of his year: $437 million on $79 million budgets.  That’s about as solid of a year as you can get and I can understand why “mega-agents” and “top studio executives” are locking their doors and closing the shades while they think about what it would be like to work with Tatum right now.

But that doesn’t change the fact that THR contradicts itself so obviously:

“The era is long past when a star like Tom Cruise could launch a career with Risky Business and Top Gun, then stay in the stratosphere for decades.”

Tatum had flops from 2009-2011.  He’s had three hits.  Why is his career now so different even though THR itself says that you’re only as good as your last hit?  What if you had asked “mega-agent” this question six months ago?  What about a year from now if GI Joe: Retaliation disappoints?  If nobody cares for The Bitter Pill (starring Tatum, directed by Steven Soderbergh.)?

And if Tatum is going to collect $10 million to star in the Roland Emmerich movie White House Down, how much money is it going to have to make in order to keep Tatum on the A-List?  Because if what THR says is true, then it can flop and he’ll still be getting more chances, because that’s what A-List stars do.  They don’t get blamed for flops as much as a director or a studio or an unforeseen disaster.  You can still put $100 million or more into a movie based on the name recognition of a Christian Bale or a Leonardo Dicaprio.  Are we saying that Tatum is now at that level?

And that Tom Hardy is not?

I’ve already said it, though I think as of now it seems like I feel the opposite of this, but I really like Channing Tatum.  I was excited to see his comedy chops in 21 Jump Street and I think he killed it.  But that doesn’t mean that I can’t refute a claim that Tatum is “A-List” and Hardy is not.  Especially since Hardy is just a better actor.

That’s not to say that Tatum is a bad one, it’s only that Hardy is one of the best actors to gain fame in the last 20 years.  Watch The Take, Bronson, Layer Cake, Inception, or Warrior and tell me that he’s not one of the most pleasing actors to watch on film.  Hardy is an excellent mix of “just crazy enough” to seem like the type of person that’s going to push himself to take on roles that will challenge people’s perception of him, even if it makes him uglier.  Or fatter.  Or crazy.

It reminds me of some of the same things we’ve seen over the years from Bale, Dicaprio, Gosling or Heath Ledger.  Challenged to be “heart throbs” and then crapping all over that notion by maybe losing 60 pounds for one role and then covering yourself in makeup for the next.  Of course, they also take on the “box office” roles, as long as they appeal to what they want to do.  Not just for the money or because they want to be on “The A-List.”

Of course, that is going to hurt Hardy in a “challenge” such as this, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t take on any role he wants, even if the budget were for $200 million.  This Means War was indeed a failure, but Hardy has already starred or co-starred in several of the top rated movies on imdb:

Inception, Dark Knight Rises, and Warrior are all on the Imdb Top 250.  The early reviews on Lawless are very positive, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy had critical success.  Not to mention the highly underrated movies Bronson and The Take, which you should go watch on Netflix before you finish this sentence.  It helps when directors like Christopher Nolan want to work with you, but it also says something when directors like Christopher Nolan want to work with you.

Right now, everything could be riding on Mad Max: Fury Road, which comes out next year and is currently set on a budget of $100 million with Hardy as the new Mad Max.  Making $200 million worldwide would probably be considered a failure.  But if it makes $500 million worldwide, is that now going to be enough to consider Hardy on the “A-List”?  Based on a box office receipt?

If you looked just at Tatum’s box office pull for 2012 and nothing else, it would be easy to see why he’s considered the hottest actor in Hollywood.  Which is why his schedule over the next three years is full.  He’s booked solid.  Tom Hardy isn’t.  It gives Tatum a lot of chances to succeed, but also a lot of chances to fail.  The book on Hardy will come after he’s finished with Mad Max, and then maybe he’ll choose a low-key move or maybe he’ll pick a big budget thriller.  According to Imdb, he’s got nothing going on after Mad Max, and I couldn’t tell you exactly why that is.

Maybe Imdb just doesn’t know some things.  Maybe Hardy doesn’t want to talk business until he’s done filming Mad Max.  Maybe he gets shitty cell phone service in Australia.  But it’s not because he’s not talented.  It’s not because he’s unqualified.  It’s not because the top directors don’t want to work with him.

It’s certainly not because Hardy isn’t on some “A-List” because I think if you were choosing between the two, the decision would be pretty easy if you wanted to make the best movie possible or needed to sell either “HARDY” or “TATUM” on a movie poster.

I don’t know why I took it upon myself today to defend Tom Hardy or to question Channing Tatum, but I did.  Both are good.  Hardy is better.

Let Me Spoil That For You: In Time

August 5, 2012 § 5 Comments

Unexpectedly, I’ve come to like Justin Timberlake as an actor.  He has been good on his appearances on Saturday Night Live, he was good in The Social Network, and he seems like a natural actor with good turns in lesser-known films like Alpha Dog.  He hasn’t had any one turn as a starring actor that has stabilized him as a guy that can carry a movie, and after watching In Time, I’m not sure that he ever will.

It’s not that JT was especially bad as an actor in the movie, but I have to question his choices on films and agents, because this is absolutely one of the dumbest movies I’ve ever seen.

The basic premise of In Time is interesting: Currency in the future is time and instead of earning money and spending money, you earn and spend time which is kept on a green-lit counter on your forearm.  When your time runs out, you die.  People stop aging at 25 and then you’ve got a year which starts counting down immediately.  The awkwardness of everybody being 25 starts immediately when Timberlake’s mom, played by Olivia Munn, Wilde turns “50″ but still looks like Wilde Munn.

It really opens up my eyes to the fact that it’s a good thing that our parents look older as they get older.  I don’t think any of us want to think of our parents as “hot.”  The movie is fast and loose with the whole “age 25″ thing as the movie goes on.

Timberlake, 31, is just one example.  But then there’s Johnny Galecki, 37, Vincent Kartheiser, 33, and Cillian Murphy, 36.  It’s like an older version of just accepting that everyone in Beverly Hills 90210 was supposed to be in high school.  Okay fine, I can accept that, but I can’t accept one of the worst screenplays ever constructed.

The movie starts out with Timberlake as just a boy who loves his mama and she has three days left, but nobody ever seems too worried about having only a day or two left, or even a couple of hours.  So not worried about it that his mom even gives JT “30 minutes for lunch” and then JT gives five minutes to some little girl on the street even though she has plenty of time and he has less than a day.

Later that night, with only a day left, JT decides to go out to a bar (for what reason, we do not know, but all he tries to do is get his best friend Galecki to leave) and ends up saving a guy from getting killed.  This guy has been flaunting his 116 years all night in buying drinks for everyone and now “Minute Men” are here to kill him or steal it or something.  It’s not really sure because JT says that they don’t want to rob him, just kill him because nobody should have that much time.  But JT saves him, for what reason, we do not know.  I guess because he’s the good guy?

That should be obvious enough right?  We knew going into the movie that Timberlake would be the good guy, the protagonist, but you’ll end up being surprised with how his character turns.  He ends up saving the guy but the next morning the guy gives JT his remaining 116 years and kills himself.  We don’t know why.

After he kills himself, these other guys show up to the body but it’s not really explained why because these aren’t Minute Men like from before, this is a group of men led by Cillian Murphy that immediately show up to try and find where the guys time went. Why they know that he died so soon, where to find him, how much time he had?  We don’t know why.

JT’s first move is to go to his best friends house and give him 10 years, this we can understand why.  Then he goes to meet his mom at the bus stop but she’s not there because she couldn’t afford the bus.  It went up to 2 hours and she had only an hour and a half left.  The bus driver wouldn’t let her ride for free and pay later, even though she would die.  Why he was so cold?  We don’t know why.

She runs and runs to meet her son but wasted too many minutes trying to get help and whatnot.  Why didn’t they setup to meet with a little more time left?  Why cut it so close?  We don’t know.  But she dies running into his arms and apparently this sets off JT to do something.  What?  We don’t really know.

JT decides its time to get out of his time zone so he travels to the rich district known as “New Greenwich” (get it?) and everybody seems to immediately notice that he’s not from here because he’s running and hustling around and everyone in the rich district takes their time because they have time.  He decides to go to the casino and spend his newfound time.  Why?  We have no idea.

He gets into a hand with Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men) who is really rich and goes all-in.  He risked everything to get to this point even though he was a very big long shot.  (I play poker and let me explain it like this: JT had an inside straight draw, meaning that he had to get a 7 with one card left in order to win.  That gives him an 92% chance of losing.  Yet he risked it all.)  He ended up winning over 1000 years on the hand.  He tells Kartheiser that it wasn’t a risk, he knew he would win.  How?  We don’t know why.

So Kartheiser ends up inviting the guy that just took hundreds of years off of him to a party at his mansion.  Why?  We don’t know.  JT buys a 59-year sports car.  Why?  We don’t know.  Immediately at the party he makes lovey eyes with Amanda Seyfried, Kartheiser’s daughter that he met at the casino, and they go off into the backyard which is actually a beach.  This is when JT really lays the charms on by suggesting they go for a swim but she’s like all “What? I’m rich, I don’t swim!” or something but it’s one of those really setup cliche lovey moments that immediately intertwines the two as soulmates, right?  Okay, fine, whatever.

But then when they get back in the party, Murphy and his goons (one of which looks exactly like Nick Carter and I really wish that it was) are there and they say that they just need to talk to JT.  Kartheiser is like “Okay” and then without asking they just take him upstairs into a room.  Its kinda rude to be conducting interviews in another dudes house without asking permission right?  But they accuse JT of killing that original guy for his 116 years and they take away all of his time except for a couple of days or something.  Why?  Why not at least give him enough himself in a court of law?  By now JT had over 1000 years and you’re accusing him of stealing 100+ years, so why take all of it?  In the future, cops can just kill you?

Ok.

Except that JT ends up escaping easily by hitting a couple of goons in the face and then, get this, stealing a gun and taking Seyfried hostage.  Like, this girl that he just met and made a lovey swim with, he’s now holding a gun to her face and kidnapping her.  They escape in his new car and get chased down.  The car chase that ensues is not only boring but incredibly cliche as JT ends up driving backwards for awhile and then just getting away.

That sums up the action part of this action move pretty well… its incredibly boring and stupid and easy and cliche.  He escapes danger without much effort.

With only a few hours left, it’s now morning and they’re driving back to his own time zone and then all of a sudden drive over a tire strip and they flip over in the car into one of those man-made ravines in an accident that looks like it should kill or at least seriously injure somebody, but it just knocks them out.  Now they’re back to the Minute Men, not the cops, and those guys steal their time.  Not all of it of course, because that would end the movie, but just enough.  Just enough for JT and Seyfried to find a pawn shop and trade her diamond earrings in for two days.

How did the Minute Men know exactly where to put the tire strip?  We don’t know.

At this point, JT is basically a bad guy, right?  He was falsely accused of killing that guy, but now he’s committing real crimes.  He kidnapped Seyfried.  It’s not “cute.”  It’s not “chivalrous.”  He just kidnapped her.  A swim in the ocean on your first night together doesn’t give you the right to take someone hostage and almost get them killed.  Then as the movie goes on, they BOTH turn into criminals.

They end up robbing the time lending banks that her father owns.  The film tries to turn it into a whole “Robin Hood” thing by stealing the time and then giving it to the needy, but they never explain why any of this happened in the first place.  Yeah, that’s right, they never explain it.  You’re just supposed to accept that the government has given everybody only 25 years and a year, and that some people will get to live forever.  But no real antagonist in the government is ever given.

Is Cillian Murphy, a cop doing his job, really the antagonist?

Or Vincent Kartheiser, a businessman who we’re supposed to hate simply because he has money?

The Minute Men are obvious antagonists because they kill and steal for time, but they’re hardly a big picture “bad guy.”  If anything, the bad guys have become JT and Seyfried as a Mickey & Mallory, Bonnie & Clyde, Robin Hood & Patti Hearst duo.  Except that I have no real reason to care about them, like them, or root for them.

After a 10-year reward is put on the heads of Seyfriend and Timberlake, the Minute Men track them down to a hotel and decide to “fight” to the death.  Fighting is basically the stupidest thing I’ve seen in a science fiction action movie since Equalibrium, except way dumber.

Basically you hold hands with your opponent and the person that has their arm turned over until the other person runs out of time, wins.  Yep, that’s IT.  You expect that there’s more to it?  There isn’t.  Timberlake loses most of the “fight” until he has just seconds left and then he turns his arm over.  OH MY GOD, LOOK, HE TURNED HIS ARM OVER!  Then he takes all of the guys time and takes a gun out of his shoe and shoots the other three Minute Men, who all have horrible reaction time.  And that’s how the Minute Men get killed.

JT and Seyfried decide that they need to steal enough time to balance out the rich and the poor and so they steal a million years from her father.  Again, her father isn’t really the bad guy here.  Maybe he’s greedy.  Maybe he thinks that it’s okay if a few people die for a few people to be immortal, but he hardly setup the system.  Who did?  We don’t know, really.

If you think about it, the system was always going to fail.  The people in poverty would die out in a very short amount of time.  They only have 25+ years and so you eventually will not be having as many babies as you’ll have deaths.  The rich people will never die.  Steve Jobs would never die.  Paul Allen would never die.  Even people of moderately high wealth like a baseball player or actor would probably be able to live for thousands of years.  They’d have lots and lots of kids.  The poor wouldn’t.

So eventually the system would topple over when only rich people lived and the poor people died.  There is no 1% without the 99% to give them all our money.  The whole concept of In Time, ultimately, is flawed.  And if it’s not flawed, well, it’s never explained.  Just like nothing is ever explained in the movie.

Murphy is eventually and cleverly killed when… his time runs out.  Wait, that’s not clever.  That’s just a thing that happens.

So JT and Seyfried end up just barely getting some extra time… in time…. and then decide that they need to steal more time and give it out to the poor.  By now they’ve just fully turned over from the good guys in the movie, to bad guys.  They’re just criminals by now.  Huh.  Okay.  Well, interesting move, I’ll say that!

Fin.

In Time had some good production value.  It has good actors like Murphy and Timberlake.  But wow, what a shitty story.  The script was, without a doubt, one of the flimsiest, cliche, unexplained, boring, plothole-ridden, pieces of crap that has ever been given a big Hollywood budget.  Usually bad screenplays are only greenlit when a star decides he or she wants to be in it.  I can only imagine that JT decided this would be a hit, that it was a good movie, and so they made it.  He was also really wrong.

Writer/Director Andrew Niccol, who wrote Truman Show, Gattaca, and Lord of War, I thought was better than a piece of shit like this.  I guess he wasn’t.

If there’s a reason for why he made this terrible movie, it was never explained.

At the Movies: Why the Theater Has Always Been a Special Place to Me

July 21, 2012 § 6 Comments

A lot of people seem to have that memory of the first time they went to the movies.  Their dad taking them to go see a family movie, a cartoon, maybe even something R-rated, and then being amazed by the magic and the spectacle.  I don’t remember the first movie I ever went to see in theaters, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been changed by the experience of going to the movies.

Many of my most treasured memories come from when I was at the movies.

I remember going to see Back to the Future part II and how excited I was when they previewed part III at the end of it, and how upset I was that it was going to feel like forever until it was released.

I remember going to see White Fang with my sister, a rare moment when we hung out together as kids, and then her telling me to hold her seat when she went to the concession stands because the theater was packed.  A family came by and asked if the seats were taken and I was young and frightened by all people back then, so I just say “No” and my sister lost her seat.  We had to sit separately, once again meaning we wouldn’t be “hanging out” together as kids.

I remember seeing There’s Something About Mary as a teen and not realizing that you could laugh that hard.  The term “rolling in the aisles” made so much sense finally.  Everybody in there was amazed, in tears, and in pain.  It’s one of those experiences that truly defined why it was important to see a funny movie with a large group of people.

I remember when my mom took me to go see The Sandlot.  It wouldn’t be long after that until I became a snotty kid that didn’t want to be seen with his mom, but we both really loved that movie and had a great time.

I remember going to see Jurassic Park three times in the theater, because you just had to.  One of the times I went with my uncle in North Carolina, a man I’ve probably spoken to three times, but we really loved that movie and that experience.

I remember going to see The Others with a group of friends.  At one point near the end, a woman pops up and scares the crap out of you, and one of my friends literally ran out of the theater and didn’t come back for the last 15 minutes.  We were probably 18 or so at the time.

I remember seeing The Sixth Sense with a buddy after hearing all the hype about the twist and then somehow, beyond reason, despite how everybody was talking about the twist and looking for the twist, being completely fooled and still not knowing what it was.  Walked out of the theater with jaw dropped.

I remember also seeing Signs for my first time at the Cinerama in Seattle and having a great time.  There seem to be a lot of people who hate that movie, but I love it.  Part of the reason I love it is because of the experience I had at the Cinerama with hundreds of other people.

Even by myself, I’ve had dozens of good times in the theater.  I’ll never forget the summer day when I had no one to hang out with, so I went to the movies.  It was a middle of a Wednesday, nobody else was at the movies at all.  So I went to four of them in a row, just sneaking in: The Descent, The Night Listener, World Trade Center, and Miami Vice.  I’ll never forget that.  I’ll never forget how much fun I could also have in a completely empty theater.

My ex-girlfriend and I went to at least 50 movies together.  I kept every ticket stub, including the one from our first movie date (Dead Silence.  Sorry, I love horror movies and she loved to please me.) and then took every stub I ever saved and put them on a card for her.  She had no idea I had saved every one.

I could literally go on forever talking about the great times I’ve had a movie theater.  How those moments have made me the person I am today, how they shaped my life, changed me and gave me a different view of the world.  It’s not just about seeing the movie anywhere, sometimes its about seeing the movie at the theater.  (Remember how f-ing great Avatar was in the theater and how awfully terrible it is anywhere else?)  It’s one of the few times that you’ll just sit down with strangers for a few hours and co-exist, just as long as they don’t talk, and not be strangers.  Or going there with a new romantic interest or acquaintance that could turn into a buddy, and bonding.

The times you may have went there with your dad, or mom, or the whole family, and finding that even if a movie is “expensive” these days, you can still have a great two hour experience for under $20.  I love going to the movies almost as much as I love doing anything.

Yesterday some sick, depraved, piece of shit did something that’s going to change how we view going to the movies for a very long time.  The ripple effect of what he did on Friday morning is going to ruin hundreds, or thousands, of lives.  It makes me mad to know what he did, but I guess we’re the lucky ones.  We’re the ones that get to be mad, and not the ones that have to deal with losing a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter, a lover.  I can’t imagine what they are going through at this very moment.  I only know that it’s upsetting to sit where I sit.  To think about this tragedy happening at all, and also happening in a setting that I love and cherish so much.  A place that’s supposed to be safe, even if right now it seems so obvious.

I’m still going to go to the movies.  I’m still going to love the experience.  It’s still going to be a major part of my life.  I think we all are, with the exception of those that are dealing with what they have to deal with right now.

I may not remember what exactly my first movie was, but I definitely haven’t gone to my last.

Movie Monday: The Cabin in the Woods Review, It’s a Real “Game-Changer”

April 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

“Game-Changer” was the word of the day on Saturday.

That’s what my friend said he had heard in reference to the movie The Cabin in the Woods.  “It’s supposed to be a game-changer!”  That’s when the word game-changer really flipped the script on our day and everything we thought we had known about adjectives was changed.  Our game’s had been changed.

But what about the movie?  Was it really a game-changer for the movie industry and specifically for the horror genre?  Did Joss Whedon (the name that was heavily attached to the project and promotion even though the film was directed by first-timer-in-the-chair Drew Goddard) just change everything we know and expect about horror movies?

Boy, the game will never be the same!

Or it might.  These things go in cycles.  The horror genre is changed like every five years: Halloween was a game-changer by popularizing the slasher genre.  Scream was a game-changer.  Saw was a game-changer.  The Ring was a game-changer.  And now, The Cabin in the Woods is the latest film to put a new direction on the horror genre.

Cabin set out, like Scream, to put a mirror on the genre and say “This is what you are.  This is what you do.  Now, this is what we think about it and we’re going to use every cliche to our benefit and call you out for it.”

The movie doesn’t over-explain how any of what they are doing is possible, letting the viewer decide for themselves whether or not they want to fill the (many) plot-holes of Cabin but did Whedon and Goddard under-explain?  You know, by leaving so many questions for the viewer?  It would be nice to think that the movie didn’t sort of use a cop-out by the end of it, but when you release yourself from worrying about it you’ll find that you just had the most fun at a movie that you’ll have all year.

Any horror fan should recognize how great The Cabin in the Woods really is and just enjoy that you’ve got a very talented group of people making a $30,000,000 horror movie (a lot for the genre) just gave an homage to a genre that I hold very near and dear to my heart.  There are a lot of crappy horror movies but Cabin shows that when great people decide to dip into the genre, they can create something that gives you positive emotions for 90 minutes.

Isn’t that the whole idea of going to the movies anyway?  To feel something?  To escape?  I laughed, I jumped, I rooted for the characters, I gained more appreciation for Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford, I saw the genre take a new direction for the foreseeable future (Welcome back to a sci-fi/horror mix of copycats!) and the game has been changed.

I can already see that I’ll probably watch The Cabin in the Woods 20+ times in my life, depending on how much longer I actually live.  It’s going to spend some time in my PS3 when it hits blu-ray, that’s for sure.

The game-changer gets a perfect score: 10/10.

Also saw:

  • 21 Jump Street.  Really great.  9/10.  Surprised at just how funny it was and I’m not even the biggest Jonah Hill fan these days.  I actually like Channing Tatum more than Jonah Hill.  He’s just so…. dreamy.
  • Re-watched: Ducktales The Movie.  Because I spit hot fire.
  • Re-watched: Scrooged.  An underrated Bill Murray movie?
  • Re-watched: 50/50.  I liked it better the second time around, but I still don’t think it’s all that great.

 

 

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