Movie Monday: The Hunger Games, Anchorman 2, Reviews for ATM, Apollo 18

April 2, 2012 § 1 Comment

For the first time ever, this blog is getting a little structure.

Well, sort of.  I’ve decided that because of the randomness of KennethAuthor that it would be beneficial to both of us if I just started designating Monday for movie talk.  I love movies and I love writing about movies, at one point in my past I was going to be a movie critic, so now I can use this forum to get it all out.  And Mondays will be the day for that.

To help me stay somewhat chaotic though, this originally turned from just being movie reviews of the films I saw from the past week into my thoughts on movie news as well and whatever else tickles my fancy because if I know anything about Mondays, it’s that I need my fancy tickled more often.

The Hunger Games Wins the Box Office Again, Now at $365,000,000 Worldwide

I haven’t seen The Hunger Games yet or read the books, so no, this is not a review and I won’t pretend that it is a review.  It wasn’t long ago that Hunger Games was what I called the time between dinner and 4th meal.  I just like box office numbers, so I want to talk about THG….

 

The most important thing to remember about box office numbers and records though is how much the circumstances change over the years with things like inflation, midnight openings, and the amount of theaters and screens that a movie plays on.  THG opened to $152 million in it’s first week, third most all-time.  What’s more impressive is the fact that it took 60.8% of the total receipts that weekend; only two other movies in the top 100 for opening weekends have taken in more than 50% and those were Valentines Day (90th, 50.9%) and Watchmen (95th, 51.4%)

What’s kind of amazing to me is that the first book came out in 2008 and now less than four years later, it’s a movie franchise that will end up being worth billions.  The only reason I haven’t seen it yet is because of the PG-13 rating and comparisons to Battle Royale, but I’ve now heard from friends that they were shocked at the PG-13 rating.  I didn’t want to see a family version of Battle Royale, I would rather just watch Battle Royale.  My concerns have been eased though and I’ll go see it soon, probably.  I can’t wait to find out if Jennifer Lawrence eats or not.

Anchorman 2: Ron Burgundy and the Crew are Coming Back, Filming in February 2013

News team! Assemble!

It’s hard to remember what the Hollywood atmosphere was like eight years ago, but try… I remember being in college and having my friend tell me that I had to go see this movie Anchorman.  I was skeptical and the movie wasn’t exactly full of movie stars and wasn’t getting a whole lot of buzz.  I know that sounds crazy to say now, but it’s true.

This was the first movie written and directed by Adam McKay.  Will Ferrell was “Frank the Tank” but could he carry really carry a movie?  Only the most hardcore of Freaks and Geeks fans had ever heard of producer Judd Apatow.  Paul Rudd?  Not even close to being a star.  Steve Carrell?  I think I recognize him from The Daily Show.

Even Seth Rogen had the most minor of parts, not as a cameo… but because Seth Rogen was a nobody.

In the course of the last eight years, all of these people have become major players in the film business and it all basically started with Anchorman.  Do you think Carrell would have ever gotten The Office and 40 Year Old Virgin if it wasn’t for his breakout performance as Brick Tamland?  Do you think that 40 Year Old Virgin would have even ever been made it if Anchorman was a total failure?

In addition to all of that, the entire trend of “multiple takes improv” filming basically became popular because of Anchorman.  I’m not going to say that Anchorman invented the style (because it didn’t) but after it became a cult hit and one of the most quoted movies of all time, the copycats came out in full effect.  Some did it well, others did not.

After years of fans begging for it, Paramount finally ran the numbers and decided it was time to give us the sequel that all of the people involved promised that they actually wanted to make.  It’s time to find out whether San Diego stayed classy or not.

Movie Review: ATM

ATM (2012) directed by David Brooks, written by Chris Sparling, and starring Josh Peck, Alice Eve, and Brian Geraghty.  Now Playing On Demand and on Amazon Instant for a robust $10

Unless you won the lottery last week, save your ten bucks.  ATM is basically “Two guys, a girl, and a vestibule.”]

What happens when three co-workers stop off at an ATM machine late at night and are terrorized by a mysterious dude in a winter jacket without any real weapons?  Better yet, what happens when an incredible set of circumstances and unexplainable decisions leave three friends in a position that they could have avoided if they just did any number of things differently?

ATM is basically a “bottle episode” horror movie, which I usually like.  Recently, the movie Frozen was about two guys and a girl stuck on a ski lift over night and the film shares about 100 things in common, except that Frozen seemed exceptionally more believable.

Question: Why did you park 100 feet away from the ATM?

Question: What are the odds that three people would be standing anywhere in America and none of them would have a cell phone in 2012?

Question: How impatient do two people have to be in order to go check on their friend in the ATM booth when only one person needed cash?  Is one minute really that long of a time to wait?

Question: The ending… really?  Really?

Question: No, really?

This movie has a ton of frustrating questions and very few answers.  But on the bright side, screenwriter Chris Sparling has at least expanded his setting from his first movie “Buried” by a good 150 square feet.  I can only assume his next movie will take place in a Taco Bell/KFC.

Movie Review: Apollo 18

Apollo 18 (2011) directed by Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego, written by Brian Miller, and starring Warren Christie and Lloyd Owen

“The found-footage-movie that you’ll wish was never found!” – Me, right now

I will give props to the ambition of Apollo 18.  A low-budget space movie that legitimately pulls off “being in space” and with good special effects, considering.  In the history of these types of movies, dating back to Blair Witch Project and continuing on with movies like [REC] and Paranormal Activity, you will have a certain cliche of criticisms: too shaky, too boring, not believable.

I personally never had a problem with the “shaky shot.”  I didn’t think that any of the Paranormal Activity movies were boring.  I bought into Blair Witch Project from the beginning and enjoyed the hell out of it.

Apollo 18: One of the most annoying, boring, and unbelievable movies I have ever seen.

“You’ll vomit from the constant movement!”

“Just when you think something is going to happen…. It doesn’t!”

“Who said that two random astronauts talking about nothing in particular wouldn’t be worth 75 minutes of your time?  Me!”

When it was all said and done, there was barely more than an hour of the actual movie and by minute 20 I was begging for it to be over.  Apollo 18 was a movie that I will never give a second chance to, it was terrible.  Producers didn’t allow the movie to be screened for critics, and now I know why.

I give it 2 out of 18 moon rocks.

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My 100th Post: Thank You Mom

March 20, 2012 § 7 Comments

For whom the first 99 posts and the rest of my life would not exist.

Go back to what I wrote yesterday and you won’t see my mom.  Go back to what I wrote a week ago and see if it has anything to do with my mom and you’ll find that the answer is obviously “No.”  Go back a month, a year, or decade and none of it really had much to do with my mom.  Sharing a few memories here and there about my childhood and adulthood and sure, there will be mentions of her, but for the most part I have written about sports, movies, and my poor excuse for a dating life.

That is my life: Writing, sports, and movies.  It’s what I live for and what I could never do without and while you won’t usually hear me mention my mom believe this: Not a damn word I’ve written would be possible without her.  It’s not just because of the “miracle of life” and how she brought me into this world, it’s more about how she helped me navigate through it and I can sum that up in one word: Encouragement.

It’s pretty ridiculous to believe that your son is going to write a movie that gets made by Hollywood or that he’ll win an Oscar or “make it big time.”  I mean, it’s downright delusional and the practical thing to tell your kids as they get older is that they’ve got to start focusing on how they’ll find a real job so that they can pay their bills and be financially secure.  That believing you’ll become a professional writer is about as reasonable as believing you’ll be a race car driver or an X-Men superhero.  But I did believe that I’d become a professional writer and I did believe I’d join up with the X-Men and it’s all because of one person…

Mom.

It was my mom that saw my passion for films when I was very young.  It was my mom that took me to the video store when I was absolutely desperate to see something new.  It was my mom that allowed me to watch horror movies, even if I was a little too young, but only because scary movies were my absolute favorite and without which I would have never become a writer at all.

It was my mom that took me to see movies like The Sandlot, even if I did get those “embarrassed to be seen with Mom” feelings as I got a little bit older.  It was my mom that sent out dozens of letters to my favorite actors and had them send back autographed pictures addressed personally to me.  It was my mom that stopped at Blockbuster on her way home from work one summer day to rent Scream, the movie that made me want to write.  It was my mom that setup a “Hollywood themed” college graduation party.  It was all my mom… the same person that gave me this dorky personality.  :)

My mom was the one that followed my sports writing, even if she didn’t care for sports.  My mom was the one that encouraged me to move to Los Angeles three years ago, even if it did mean that I was quitting my job without a new job waiting for me in LA.  Every single bit of my inspiration to be a writer, from John McClain in Die Hard to Punky Brewster and MC Hammer, has at least one fingerprint left on it by a certain person; My Mom.

If I sat here and told you that raising two kids as a single parent wasn’t easy, I’d be fabricating a conclusion to a scenario of which I have no experience.  I was only the kid, so who the hell am I to pretend to know what it was like to raise me and my sister?  The best guess that I could come up with is this:  Really.  Fucking.  Hard.

I sat for a moment today and thought about how I was coming up on my 100th official post on KennethAuthor and reflected on the past year and what I have been able to accomplish in that time.  Starting with Ray Guilfoyle at FakeTeams.com letting me join up as a blog writer for fantasy sports, finally getting back into a rhythm on writing articles again.  Then seeing the website grow exponentially in that year and getting recognition from SBNation.com and feeling proud that I had a small part in that.  From there, Danny Kelly at FieldGulls.com asked me if I wanted to write for my favorite Seahawks blog.  Hell yes, that was like a dream come true.  From OkCupid I came across the profile of Jen Friel at TalkNerdyToMeLover.com and asked if I could get a guest spot and she graciously allowed me to post something every Thursday on her amazing website.

In addition to all of that, Danny asked me to help write on Seattle.Sbnation.com so that I could write on all things Seattle sports and I even recently started a YouTube channel for FieldGulls, finally starting to realize my dream of turning written word into video.  Back in December, I reached out to fellow TNTML writer Melodie Tao about any advice she could give me on marketing and she suggested that I start my own blog and have yet another medium to write, except now I could write about anything under the sun.  It was awesome to be able to become a writer on already established websites, but to be able to see KennethAuthor grow and then get FreshlyPressed… it all made my heart swell up with pride and think that maybe I could finally be on my way to become a professional writer.

So an immense Thank You to Ray, Danny, Jen, and Melodie.  Without you guys, I don’t know where I’d be today.

And without my mom I would have never met any of you.

Thank you Mom for everything you’ve done.  Thank you for believing with total conviction that I could accomplish my dreams.  Thank you for the thousands of dollars spent on trips to the movie theater, the video store, and the writing teacher.  Thank you for always being proud of my work, even if you sometimes disagreed with it’s content.  Thank you for seeing my vision as well as I could see it myself.  Thank you for being “delusional” and for being a dork.

Today I still sit here as a writer making a few bucks a month and without a movie or an Oscar to my name, but still with the dream kept alive and my mind as sharp as ever.  None of that would have been possible without you Mom, and I wanted to just take this moment to tell you how much your support and guidance means to me.  When I finally get that Oscar nomination, I know just who my date will be…

Mom.

Love you always,

Kenny

Netflix Memories: The Gate (1987)

March 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

It’s amazing how fucking stupid we are when we’re kids.

It’s no wonder that as adults (technically speaking) we see kids television, movies, and music as being “quite shitty” but we understand that it’s just because kids usually like to keep it simple.  Don’t over-complicate it, just make a watered-down movie that will make kids laugh and scream in joy because it doesn’t take much to do that.  I guess what we don’t quite get to live down is watching kids grow up and realize just how stupid their favorite movies are.

For example, I remember watching Mac and Me as a very young child and LOVING IT.  I thought it had great story, adventure, and a classic tale of a boy and an alien and I stuck with that story for a very long time.  Why change it?  I didn’t bother to actually watch Mac and Me for years but I never forgot how it made me feel as a five year old.  I should have stuck with that story.

Mac and Me is the dumbest fucking movie ever fucking made.

Forget the fact that it’s a complete ripoff of E.T. or that it’s basically a 90-minute commercial for McDonalds, it’s just a terrible movie and it’s only redeeming quality is just how terrible it is.  (At least do yourself a favor and watch the dumbest dance sequence in cinematic history.)  But that’s just part of being a kid; loving really stupid shit and being ignorant of what is good and what is not.  It doesn’t matter when you’re a kid if it’s good or not, it only matters if it made you happy for a little while.  Mac and Me did that for me as a kid, but it also made me feel like a damn idiot as an adult.

Another movie that’s similar in that respect, but not quite as bad, is The Gate.  A movie that I recently revisited on Netflix Instant watch.

If you’re unfamiliar with the movie, I’ll break it down like this: Stephen Dorff (what’s the point of giving the characters name when he’s played by a young Stephen Dorff?  It’s Stephen fucking Dorff!  And he’s 12!) and his sister Al (played by a not famous person, although she looks like the big sister in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids!  Although, I guess that actress isn’t famous either) are left home alone for the weekend by their parents.  A lightning storm or something forces the tree to fall over in the back hard and landscapers have to dig it out and leave a big hole in the backyard.  Dorff and his loser friend Terry (no offense loser) go to the hole and find a geode (a rock with pretty insides.  I am not breaking this down because I think my audience is dumb, I honestly wouldn’t know what a geode was if not for The Gate) in the ground and let’s just say it has magical powers because I have no time to pretend like it doesn’t.  We know where this is going.

(My apologies for all of the parentheses.)

They take the geode into Dorff’s room and then it like burns some ancient evil words onto a piece of paper and they repeat the words: Aka kuto alla meta.  Which is an anagram for “A Oatmeal Talk Auk” and that’s not in the movie but I’m giving it to them for free.

But uh oh everybody, the house is now cursed or something and demons are going to be released in Stephen Dorff’s house!  That night, his sister Al is having a a party and like most high school parties, they stop and tell ghost stories.  And like most times when kids sit around and tell ghost stories, one of the girls swears that she can make a person levitate.  And like most attempts to levitate Stephen Dorff, it works!  And like most times that a bunch of people actually see a person levitate, people basically shrug it off like no big deal.  That’s all.  He just floated in mid air when that girl said “Watch I can make Stephen Dorff float in mid air.”

When all the weird shit in the house begins to happen, Stephen Dorff and his friend Terry realize that it’s some effed up stuff and that they have a serious problem (like when their loving dog mysteriously dies and they get over it in a couple hours) or the levitation and Terry brings over a terrible metal album and explains all this stuff about demons and why demons are probably coming out of the hole in the backyard.  Seriously, 12-year-old Terry knows more about demons than a Satanic Book Shop Owner.

In order to keep the demons from getting out of the hole in the backyard though, the guys have a good plan: Put a piece of wood over it….  Really.

This doesn’t work and hilarity (horror?) ensues.  Terrorizing Dorff, Terry, Al, and the Lee sisters for the next 40 minutes or something.  Who are “The Lee Sisters”?  Fun Fact: They are the only other people besides the Dorff to become famous, even though they have a relatively small part in a relatively small movie.  They are played by Kelly Rowan (The O.C., One Eight Seven) and Jennifer Irwin (Eastbound & Down, No Strings Attached.)

I won’t “ruin” the rest of the movie for you, and I also am just sick of talking about it.  The movie left some images in my mind that sort of always stuck with me, such as an eye in Stephen Dorff’s hand that he has to stab and little claymation demons running rampant in the house.

It’s one of those movies that I would never forget, except for all of the important details that made it really stupid.  The Gate has a lot of sentimental value for me (like going to Blockbuster on Fridays with my mom and running straight to the horror section and picking out a different VHS every week, probably renting The Gate several times) but otherwise turned out to be a pretty horrid movie.  This is properly exemplified in its 5.4 rating on IMDb and its 33% Fresh Rating/45% Audience Rating on RottenTomatoes.  There is a reason we usually don’t let kids rate movies or have respected opinions on movies, because I would have easily given The Gate 10/10.

That’s not to say that The Gate is all bad.  I mean, it’s got The Dorff and the Lee Sisters and it has some interesting moments, while also being unintentionally funny at times.  Here are some interesting facts about The Gate, both good and bad:

  • It’s a Canadian film.  I feel like I should have opened with that.  It would have made a lot more sense if I said from the get-go that it was a Canadian film.  I never knew that until this morning and then that did sort of explain a lot with just one word: Canadian.  No offense to my Canadian readers :) xoxoxoxo.  (It doesn’t really help if I say “No Offense” does it?  I love many things Canada, I promise.)
  • Don’t worry, the Dorff isn’t Canadian.  He was born in Atlanta, Georgia.  This was his film debut.
  • Dorff was nominated for a Saturn Award (a nerdy science fiction/fantasy awards show) for Best Performance by a Younger Actor, but he lost to Kirk Cameron for the “body switch” movie, Like Father Like Son.  The following year, the award went to Fred Savage for the much different “body switch” movie, Vice Versa.  Note to young actors, if you’re not in a “Freaky Friday”-type movie, what are you doing with your life?
  • He was also nominated for a Young Artist Award for leading actor in a horror film and lost to Corey Feldman for The Lost Boys.  Other winners that year included Patrick Dempsey, Fred Savage and River Phoenix.  Ohh… eighties, how I love thee.
  • The Gate won the “Golden Reel Award” at the 1988 Genie Awards, a ceremony for Canadian films.  The Golden Reel is given to the highest-grossing film of the year (The Gate grossed $13.5 million) which is rarely the best film of the year.  Other winners include Meatballs, Porky’s, Johnny Mnemonic, and Air Bud.
  • A short documentary named The Gatekeepers was made in 2009, about the making of The Gate.  I have not seen it.  I will search for it now though!  If only to find out if people can actually levitate in Canada and that’s why nobody at the party freaked out.
  • A 3D remake directed by Alex Winter (yes, Bill S Preston, friend of Ted Theodore Logan) was in pre-production for a long time around 2009-2011 but I can’t find any updates on it recently.

You can watch The Gate right now on Netflix Instant, and you can see the Dorff scowling and trying to give a sexy look somewhere in Hollywood.

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I Love You, Wendy Peffercorn

March 14, 2012 § 2 Comments

I was 10 years old, at the movies with my mom, and perhaps had a connection to a fictional person for the first time.

The Sandlot is one of the greatest family movies, coming-of-age stories, and collection of young characters of our time.  It’s not just about a group of kids trying to get back a baseball, it’s about so much more than that.  It’s about making a connection with a father-figure when you don’t have one.  It’s about making friends in a new town when you’re alone.  It’s about going outside of your comfort zone and pretending to have a passion for something just so that you’ll have friends.

Sure, it’s about baseball, summer and overcoming your fears.  It’s about banding together to accomplish the impossible, about doing anything for a friend, about being there for people you care about.  About the ways we grow together, and the ways we grow apart.

When you think about it and consider it all, The Sandlot is an amazing movie and I feel blessed to have been around the same age as the boys that starred in it.  The players in the film are all so different and yet they are connected by one commonality: baseball.  And within that, they find themselves connected in so much more, despite their different backgrounds and personalities.

And we could all find someone to relate to you.

Are you a Smalls?  The insecure kid that feels out of place, like every day of your life is the first day at a new job?  Sweet and innocent, with a simple goal of finding joy and comfort?

Are you Benny the Jet?  The leader.  The kid that had the world at his hands and yet, never acted like it.  Humble, level-headed and brave?

Are you a Ham?  The one that uses humor as a defense mechanism and does it with the skill and wit of a person twice your age?

A Yeah-Yeah, a Bertram, a Kenny DeNunez?

We should have all been able to identify with someone in the movie.  To understand the emotions that they were going through, even without them having to say a word.  It may have been a “kid’s movie” on a few levels, but there is a reason that some “kid movies” are timeless.  Because they don’t capture a time period (Case in point: The movie is set in 1962) they capture a feeling.  Some feelings are timeless.

Me?  Well, despite my hefty frame and my penchant for throwing insults and jokes to make friends, I don’t consider myself a Ham.  No, definitely not.

You could see the pain and emotion in Squints eyes and face when the boys arrived to the public pool for the first time.  His soul was not only in love, but it was in pain.  The pain of knowing that his dream in life was not only magnificent, but it was irrational.

Wendy Peffercorn.

The beautiful and statuesque Wendy was not only a picture of perfection, but she was noticeably and significantly older than Squints.  And Squints… well… he seemed like an “L-7 Weenie.”  Big glasses, giant mouth, and just a kid.  But the heart wants what the heart wants.

Who can’t relate to that?  Just because I was ten, I knew what that felt like and had my share of crushes.  None of which seems realistic or attainable in retrospect.  I was focused on whoever was the most beautiful and kind girl that I knew at the time and I had blinders on, despite the fact that I didn’t feel I was in their “league.”

Still, the heart wants what the heart wants.

This movie that had so many themes and story lines had at least one more to give: Unrequited love and passion will always be unrequited if you never make yourself known to the person and show her that white knights do exist.  Even if Squints “move” was a bit creepy and not recommended for future use (you may have charges brought against you) it was his “now or never.”

That last day at the pool, he made it known.  “I can’t take it anymore.”  And so he did what he had to do… he took  a chance.

His plunge into the pool was so metaphorical that it can’t not be seen: Squints was drowning.  He was drowning and he needed Wendy Peffercorn to save him or he may never breathe again.  The thought of not being with Wendy was killing him and it was Wendy that gave him the ability to breathe again.

“Holy shit, did he just do that?”

Squint confirms, even if dishonestly, “Been planning it for years.”

This is certainly not good for Squints in the long run, but at least he got his kiss from Wendy.  At least he now knows what that moment of happiness felt like, even if it was only for a couple of seconds.  He did it, he knows.  Amazing.  And then he looks back at the pool, knowing that this will be the last time he sees Wendy Peffercorn, the love of his young life.

She gives him shame.  He feels the shame and hangs his head.  We told you not to do it Squints…

And then she gives him a smile?  A SMILE?!

Squints moment of happiness won’t only last for a couple of seconds.  He floated home that day.  Now Wendy knew who he was and beyond it all, gave him a smile.  This is a feeling that would last For-e-ver.  For-e-ver.  For-e-ver.

The Babe’s short appearance in Small’s dream said it best:

“Everybody gets one chance to do something great. Most people never take the chance, either because they’re too scared, or they don’t recognize it when it spits on their shoes.”

I’ve had my Wendy Peffercorn’s.  At least a dozen.  It’s the curvy blade that sticks deep in your chest and doesn’t kill you; it’s killing you.  Over and over again without relief.  That’s childhood love… before you can process it.  Sometimes, we still can’t.

Beyond just being the funniest character in the movie (Before my clothes go out of style) that’s why I can relate to Michael “Squints” Palledorous.  He was a boy of love.  A boy of passion.  He set his sights high and then he took a plunge for love.

I got that.  I knew that.  I just never got the smile back.  But at least for a moment when I was ten, I could live it through Squints and get an idea of what that felt like.  Thank you Squints.  Thank you Sandlot.

I love you, Wendy Peffercorn.

Oscars in Retrospect: The 2004 (77th Annual) Academy Awards

March 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

As we sit here now (you’re sitting probably right now you internet-loving freak) we’re looking back at the winners and losers of the 2011 Academy Awards and judging them for how good or bad they are.  But is that really how it’s supposed to work?  Isn’t our opinion more relevant after we’ve let the dust settle and have had time to process what just happened?

Seriously, process it!  Maybe years from now you’ll chuckle at one of Billy Crystal’s opening lines.

The true test of a great film is how it holds up over time.  Avatar held up for about a day until you forgot what the 3D experience was really like and all you were left with was a live-action Pocahontas featuring hair and tail sex.  I’m all about sex scenes, but this one just felt wrong and it always will.

Will The Artist be worth a damn to any of us in five years or will we look back and see that it won simply because it was so much different than the other nominees and not because it was a great movie?  Did it win the award only because the other eight movies weren’t all that spectacular and was it rewarded just because it entertained the members of the Academy in such a surprising way that they were just like “Fuck it.”?

I don’t know the answer to that as of yet.  We won’t know the true answer to how it holds up over time until time has passed.  So, what can we do today?  Use passed time to look back at old entries of the Oscars and ask ourselves again, “Was that the right decision?”  Not only that, but it can be fun to look back at some of the winners and losers and see how it changed their lives, if it did at all.

Enough with the introductions though (Got that Billy?), let’s get on with the show, starting with 2003:

What Happened to the Best Live Action Short Directors?

I was asking myself this the other night… what the hell is going to happen to these people that got nominated for Live Action Short?  Does it change their lives?  Do they go onto an awesome career of making short movies that nobody will ever see?  Or are they given the opportunity to step their game up and try their hand at Live Action Features?

Winner – Andrea Arnold for Wasp

Arnold is a former British actress that decided to try her hand at directing.  Wasp was her third short and she won an Academy Award for it.  I still find it weird that we have short films.  After all, they’re really not made for anyone to watch.  I mean, sure, you want someone to watch them, but at their heart you know that only a handful of people ever will.  Yet, it’s a gateway and it’s the perfect way to practice your skills.  It’s a necessary part of becoming a director.

Wasp ran 26 minutes long and was apparently about a woman going out on a date.  I don’t freaking know, I have obviously never seen it.  But the Oscar was a catapult into Arnold directing the feature film Red Road which opened the door for the well-acclaimed Fish Tank and her latest feature, Wuthering Heights.  She is basically a full-time working director that probably won’t have to worry about starving any time soon.

Gary McKendry was nominated for the short Everything in This Country Must.  He had no other credits on his resume until 2011 when he directed the action film Killer Elite.  I don’t know what causes a seven year gap between an Oscar nomination and your first feature, especially a feature starring Jason Statham and Robert DeNiro, but McKendry seems to have caught his break.  He’s working next on a trilogy called Joseph and the Girl.

Ashvin Kumar was nominated for Little Terrorist.  He is currently a critically-acclaimed documentary filmmaker in India, trying to get past the countries censorship laws.

Since his own nomination in 2004 for 7:35 in the Morning, Nacho Vigalondo made several more shorts until writing and directing the very good Spanish film Timecrimes.

Finally, Taika Waititi of New Zealand was nominated for Two Cars, One Night and is turning in a very diverse and prolific career.  He directed Eagle vs Shark, several episodes of The Flight of the Conchords (and now his buddy Bret McKenzie has an Oscar), and he directed the pilot episode of the new MTV show The Inbetweeners, the US version of the British series.  His film Boy was a New Zealand smash hit, and he even had an acting part in the film The Green Lantern.

Best Documentary Feature

This was the year that Michael Moore famously stated that he wanted Farenheit 9/11 to be considered for Best Picture and not Best Documentary.  It was not nominated for Best Picture, so it was not nominated.

This was also the year that Morgan Spurlock ate a shitload of McDonalds, which made him famous.  It only made me fat.  What the fuck?

The winner, and probably deservedly so, was Zana Briski for Born Into Brothels.  Today, Briski is doing a bunch of charity work to make sure more kids are born into nurseries and shit, which is a good thing.  It is her ONLY credit.

Best Actor – Jamie Foxx for Ray

2004 was kind of the year that Foxx went from “Maybe this guy can be a funny leading man” to ” maybe this guy can be a serious actor.”  He had sort of started the jump with roles in Ali and Any Given Sunday, but his previous starring credits were in Bait and Breakin’ All the Rules.  Bait got him no nominations, but in 2004 he starred in Ray and co-starred in Collateral with Tom Cruise, both were great performances and he was double-nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.

Did it solidify him as a serious leading actor?

Well, he made the not-so-wise decision of co-starring in the terrible Stealth in 2005, had a small part in Jarhead, then co-starred in the forgettable Miami Vice.  He was actually much more successful as a singer in 2005 when he released Unpredictable, which debuted at number two on the charts.

His next “This is an Oscar movie kinda movie!” was The Soloist, and it was weird and sad more than good or Oscar-worthy.  Followed up with more forgettable parts (Law Abiding Citizen, Valentine’s Day, Due Date, Horrible Bosses) and it doesn’t seem like his Oscar win really vaulted him into Tom Hanks territory.

However, he’s starring in the title role of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained this year as a slave that becomes unchained.  I’m looking forward to it and maybe it’s an acting decision that finally steps in the right direction again.

Best Supporting Actor Nomination - Thomas Haden Church

Lowell is back!! Lowell is back!!

I admit that I was really excited to see THC make a comeback when he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in Sideways.  It’s always nice to see a surprise story or a comeback story, especially from someone you enjoyed watching so much on television as a kid.  As Lowell Mather on Wings, THC was a treat to watch play the dimwit alongside all those other dimwits.  But he was the dimwittiest!

(If you watch the first episode of Wings and the final episode of Wings back-to-back, it’s like a mini-movie.  Except that Lowell turns into Antonio, played by Mr. Monk, Tony Shalhoub.  Available on Netflix Instant so you can do it tonight!)

When he left Wings in 1995, Church sort of fell out of the view of most of the public’s eye.  But he was still working consistently on TV and Film, just not in any major parts and not in many major movies.  Until Alexander Payne hired him for Sideways and he played a womanizing fun guy that’s about to get married and go on a wine trip with his depressing, sad-sack buddy.

Per Wikipedia:

During the audition, Church stripped naked to read the audition scene, later saying “To me it was painfully obvious… I was reading the scene where Jack comes in naked and there has to be in-born vulnerability in the scene.”[6] (He later found that he was the only actor to strip down for the audition).[7] Sideways earned acclaim for Church, for which he won an IFP Independent Spirit Award and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

He didn’t win the award (That went to Morgan Freeman for Million Dollar Baby) but it should have given him enough cred to show that he’s “not Lowell Mather” anymore.  Did it?  Sorta!

Church is working way more consistently in film and even in a lot of high-profile movies.  Most of them aren’t very good (Spiderman 3, Easy A, All About Steve) but work is work!  He’s co-starring in John Carter, which I’ve been told is the “first blockbuster of the year!”

I’d like to see him get some work that’s actually really good, but it’s good to see THC back where he belongs.

Best Picture – Million Dollar Baby

This is the most important question of all: did The Best Picture hold up better than the other nominees over time?  Baby was up against The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray, and Sideways.

Full disclosure; I watched most of Finding Neverland and didn’t care that much for it.  Okay, you’re not Peter Pan but you’re about the writing of Peter Pan.  I get it.  That’s cool.  I’m sure it has it’s fans (a lot of them) but not in a million years would I have named remembered this as a Best Picture nominee.

Ray.  Neat movie.  Watchable.  I watched it a couple of times.  Jamie Foxx is good in it.  It’s the one about Ray Charles, right?  Yeah, I remember when he goes blind and his mom is like “oh no!” and he’s like living in the South in 1920 and there’s a trough and his brother dies or something, right?  That was sad.  Then he becomes a famous musician and then a drug addict.  And it stars Joaquin Phoenix.  Right?  Oh, that’s another movie?  But it’s very similar?  My bad.  Ehh… Biopics.  They are what they are.

Sideways.  What a good little movie.

The Aviator.  I think a lot of people look back at The Aviator and say it was really underrated.  I’ve heard a lot of people say they like it.  I seem to remember back then, a lot of people said that they didn’t like it.  I think it has improved with age.  It actually has the lowest score on IMDb (7.5) of any of the Best Picture nominees.

Million Dollar Baby still has the highest score at 8.2.  I guess against these four movies, it could still hold up as the Best Picture.  That’s why it is a damn shame that the Best Picture of the Year wasn’t nominated for Best Picture of the Year.

Kill Bill: Vol 2 was not only better than Kill Bill (which is GREAT) but it holds up on it’s own as a film and is actually a much different film than the first.  Did you know that only three people die in KB V. 2?  It’s not that violent.  It’s artsy.  It tells an amazing story that’s spread out over years.  It’s perhaps the best thing that Tarantino has ever done.  But unfortunately, a lot of people hate on Quentin Tarantino.

I am obviously not one of them.

He’s very polarizing, so it’s not often that he’ll get nominated for Best Picture or Best Director, at least not often enough.  Personally, I think he’s shown such a wide range of directing style that he’s one of the best living directors today.  He’s much more like Martin Scorsese than he is as “some guy that always does the same movie, over and over again.”

How does Inglorious Basterds look like anything else he’s ever done?  How does Kill Bill 1 even compare that much to volume 2?  Is Death Proof anything like Reservoir Dogs?  Yeah, they’ve all got “Tarantino dialogue” but stylistically they’re all very different.

At the very least, it should have been nominated for much, much more.   In fact, it was nominated for zero awards at the Oscars.  David Carradine rightfully got a Golden Globe nomination, as did Uma Thurman.

Follow me on Twitter or something, whateva, whateva, #dudesweat

Oscars in Review: There Were Reasons to Love and Reasons to Hate

February 27, 2012 § 2 Comments

I have been a fan of the Academy Awards since I was a little kid, rooting for those that I wanted to win and against the pretentious ones that I wanted to lose.  I held the Oscars in high regard and figured that this was the only way that they would get the recognition that they deserved.

And then I grew up.

The older I get, the more jaded I get towards the ceremony and the easier it is to recognize how smug and awful most of the night is.  For one actor to stand on stage and to praise other actors by describing their work as “breath-taking” or “heroic” is a slap in the face of the english language.  Did you really watch The Help and gasp and go “Oh my GOD!  This acting is AMAZING!” as you tried to regain the ability to breathe?

I’m not taking anything away from the fact that there are good actors and bad actors.  That there are good actors and great actors.  And that there are people that are so on top of the game, that I watch certain movies just for the acting.  But the same can be said about any field.  There are amazing doctors.  Amazing dentists.  Hell, there are people out there that can manage the shit out of a TGI Fridays but we don’t go around acting like they re-shaped the wheel into a more efficient design.

They’re just actors.  They’re given a script and direction and they’re told what to say, and some of them say it perfectly and so we nominate them for awards.  Which is all fine and good, but can’t we just say “Hey, Meryl.  Nice work.  That was pretty cool what you did there.  I didn’t see it, but from that 30-second clip, I’d say you probably did pretty good.  It didn’t change anyone’s life, but you were asked to do a job and you got paid for it and now you might even get an award.  Congrats.”

If we’re praising anyone for making a movie, then let’s do the honorable thing at least and rank directors and writers ahead of actors.  Let’s also give props to the editors and special effects and sound people that make an actors performance worth watching in the first place.

With that, this years ceremony did have some highlights that made me happy to watch the Oscars this year.  Surprises (and I don’t mean Meryl) that make me think that there’s hope for the awards show in the future.

And then there was a whole lot of shitty ass-kissing.  Here’s what I liked and what I didn’t:

Loved – Nat Faxon and Jim Rash win Best Adapted Screenplay (with Alexander Payne)

Imagine my surprise when I looked up and saw “the guy from Beerfest and Club Dread” not only on the Oscars telecast, but walking up to accept an award!  What the fuck?  I didn’t know he was a writer!

Then when standing on stage, I look over to the right and HOLY SHIT IT’S DEAN PELTON!

I didn’t know he was a writer either!

A little digging shows that Faxon and Rash previously co-wrote the 2005 TV movie “Adopted” and then six years later they team up with Payne to co-write and adapt the novel for The Descendants into an Academy Award-winning screenplay.

That’s the kind of story that makes all aspiring writers hopeful that work hard can eventually have a happy ending.

Now stop threatening to cancel Community, NBC.

Hated – The opening 10 minutes

It’s very hard for any comedian to be funny and edgy and on the forefront of “what’s funny” very late into his or her life.  Billy Crystal is no exception.  If you wanted “funny” during the Oscars or an example of someone who has been funny for 30 years, you should have followed @normmacdonald during the telecast.

Hey, let’s have a kiss between Clooney and Crystal!  Hey, let’s throw in Justin Bieber!  YEAH, BIEBER FEVER, LOL!  How about Crystal in black face doing his Sammy impression?!  Yeah, that’s still gonna be good!

No, no.  None of it was good.  Then Billy came out, told a couple “jokes”, did a regrettable music number because “it was expected of him!” and then we could finally start giving out awards.  Everyone wake up, we’re giving out the awards now, we promise!

Which awards?

Not the good ones.

Oh, okay.  :(

Loved – Bret McKenzie, It’s Hard Out Here for a Conchord

Okay, the category of Best Song is so outdated that they only had two nominees but it’s still cool to see half of Flight of the Conchords win an Oscar.  A few years ago they were known to nobody in America.  And then they were known to a few people.  Now, Bret’s got an actual Oscar.

With Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy nominated for awards, McKenzie, Rash and Faxon as winners, there’s more and more hope that comedies will get more proper due at the Oscars.

Worst Presenter Skit of the Night – Robert Downey Jr in “The Presenter” documentary.

Every time something good happened, it seemed like producer Brian Grazer wanted something awkward to happen.

Hey, let’s take a cocky actor and have him be over-the-top cocky as a guy that’s documenting his life as a famous presenter and then have a camera crew film him going up to the mic to present an award for best documentary and mock the whole idea of making a documentary in the first place!

And throw in Gwyneth Paltrow because as an actress with little comedic background she’ll know exactly how to play off of it.  It won’t be awkward at all!

Best Presenter Skit of the Night – Zach Galifinakis and Will Ferrell

There wasn’t much to choose from.  Chris Rock was great, too.

Loved to See Win – Ehhh

I actually thought it was neat that Streep won for the first time in 30 years.  I thought it was cool that Christopher Plummer became the oldest winner.  Though is it fair that Plummer can win for playing a gay man but Tom Cruise gets nothing for always playing a straight man?

I had almost no rooting interest in anything this year.  Drive wasn’t nominated.  The rest of the movies were whatever.  I have not seen many of them and have no interest in seeing most of them.

It was a bad year for “Oscar” movies in 2011, and we can only hope that we’ve got some better choices for next years Oscars.

And a host that’s been funny in this century.

Hated – “Go to the Movies!”

Throughout the night, the ongoing theme was “Isn’t it great to go to the movies?” with montages of famous people talking about what inspired them to become actors or directors and there experiences of going to the movies and being inspired by the magic of film.  It continued throughout, including Tom Cruise presenting the award for Best Picture by again explaining how great it is to see a movie in the theater with a crowd of people and enjoying each and every frame of picture and sound.

Sure, some movies have to be seen in the theater.  If you saw Avatar in a 2D television, then you saw a really shitty movie.  If you saw Avatar on the big screen in 3D, then you saw a really shitty movie that had some amazing special effects.  However, I’m remiss to think of how that compares to seeing Moneyball on the big screen or enjoying The Help with a hundreds of strangers.

No, seeing those at home is just as good if not better and a hell of a whole lot cheaper.

Look, we get it.  You’ve just bought a Jacuzzi for your dog and installed it on the roof of your summer home in the Hamptons, and now you’re worried that your latest movie will only make $75 million.  So, Hollyweird bands together on Oscar night and tells millions of people that they need to go see your latest 3D remake or Queen Elizabeth (your dog) won’t have a place to relax when your cokin’ it up with your fellow millionaire actors this July.

But you aren’t really making it worth it to me, and your plea is falling on deaf ears.

Here’s a deal: Make better movies and make better deals with theaters so that it doesn’t cost me $40 dollars to take a date to go see Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 and I’ll go see more movies.  For now, I’ll stick to Netflix and On Demand.

Oh, and when you do make a great movie, let’s say… Drive… then nominate the shit out of that bitch.  Otherwise, I’ll stop watching the telecast that begs me to go see more movies, too.  And hire Louis C.K. or Steve Carrell to host.

Follow me on Twitter @Casetines

Hot Girls From My Childhood: A.J. Langer

February 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

This series profiles people that may not be household names, but have beautiful household faces and helped structure my childhood as a boy that likes girls.

Last time around, I wrote about Shawnee Smith from The Blob as a late-80’s crush.  When I was writing that I thought to myself “Wasn’t she in Escape from LA?” but I couldn’t find her on the Imdb page.  It turns out that I wasn’t thinking of Shawnee… silly me, I was thinking of the beautiful A.J. Langer instead.  For some reason, I was always getting the two confused, but I’ll never do that again.

I believe that the first time that I really took notice of Langer was in Wes Craven’s disturbing horror movie The People Under the Stairs, but that probably wasn’t the first time that I saw her.  The first time that I laid eyes upon her was probably in one of her first television roles, seen here:

That’s a 16-year-old Langer as Melissa in an episode of Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, titled “Jerry’s First Date.”  Who was this beauty?  How come Jerry got to go out with her?  How come I was always losing and Parker Lewis wasn’t?

I was only 8, but I’d work hard, get in shape, move to Hollywood and marry this girl.

Lust turned to genuine love that same year when she co-starred in The People Under the Stairs.  She played Alice, a girl trapped in her own home that was so innocent you couldn’t help but want to be the man (or boy) that freed her from the evil people that kept her locked away.  If Fool could save her and win her heart, why couldn’t I?  He was only three years older than me!  Who wouldn’t want to save this face:

Even if it meant that I had to be some freak who lived under the stairs and had bitten my own tongue off, I would find a way to make out with A.J. Langer.

She got a major part on the short-lived show Drexell’s Class starring as the daughter of Dabney Coleman and the sister of Brittany Murphy.  (The show also starred a young Jason Biggs and Matthew Lawrence.)  I remember nothing of this show and I don’t know if I even watched it, but if I had ever seen this in the credits, I certainly would have:

Beauty Contest: Over.  We have a winner.

Over the next several years, after Drexell’s was cancelled (couldn’t have been her fault), she had guest spots on a bunch of shows that guaranteed that I would never let her leave my dreams: Blossom, Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, In the Heat of the Night, Camp Wilder, Baywatch, The Wonder Years, and Beverly Hills, 90210.

The Wonder Years is a show that especially shaped the “hot girls from my childhood” because any boy of my age was basically growing up with Kevin and wanted to hook up with Winnie, or at least see Kevin do it.  And when they weren’t working out, there were always plenty of other girls.  Hello Lisa Berlini:

Not AJ Langer

Finally, finally, finally in 1994, we got Langer once a week, playing a high schooler, and on cable television.  My So-Called Life is always going to be remembered as a revolutionary breakthrough, critically-acclaimed, and cancelled far too soon by millions of fans… I’ll just call it “The first time I realized I loved outcasted, rebellious, mis-understood chicks.”

“Rayanne Graff” was the bad influence on Angela Chase (other hot girl from my childhood, Claire Danes) that shaped the beginning of the show.  Girls may have fallen in love with the show because it was the first time a TV show really “understood them” and Jared Leto, but I had this:

A.J. was 20 and beautiful and a TV star, and I was 11 and chubby and raced micro-machines, but somehow we could make it work.  Right?

After 19 episodes, the show was taken off of the air but that was probably a good thing since we could always have that moment in time captured in the very middle of the 90s and many of the people that worked on the show went on to have long careers that still happen today.  (Even Ricky and Brian still work consistently.)  That show was so 90s that we have pictures like this that basically say, “Hey Kenny, remember when you were 12?”

After My So-Called Life, I’ll never forget seeing Langer continue to be a misunderstood rebel, only this time holding a machine gun in a pink pants suit in the underrated Escape from L.A.:

I would gladly let her take me hostage after the world goes to shit.

Langer continued to work throughout the rest of the 90s but semi-retired in the 2000s.  It’s understandable though because in 2004 she married into royalty and had two kids.  She is now known as “Lady Courtenay” to some, including her husband the Lord Courtenay, son of the Earl of Devon.   And when the Earl of Devon passes away, she will become a Countess.

She suffers from fibromyalgia  and recently began acting again, with a recurring part in Private Practice.  Okay, I will never watch Private Practice, but I’m sure she’s really good in it.  Because she’s AJ Langer and I love her.  It turns out that all I had to do was be a handsome man of royalty and she could have been mine.  In the meantime, I have People Under the Stairs on VHS.

Thank you AJ.  You look even better today than you did when I was eight.

Follow me on Twitter @casetines

Red Box Reviews: Take Shelter, Shark Night 3D, 30 Minutes or Less, Our Idiot Brother

February 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Here’s my impression of a guy that’s trying to distract you from the fact that he rented and watched four movies this weekend instead of going out on a date or making something out his life:

Hey, there sure are a lot of ways to watch movies these days!

There was a time not so long ago that you had to go to a movie theater to watch a movie.  That was it.  And if you’re local theater wasn’t playing what you wanted to see, tough shit!

As of today, here are a few ways that I can watch a movie:

  • Go to a theater. (LOL!)
  • Buy a DVD or Blu-Ray. (DOUBLE LOL!)
  • Download it.
  • Netflix Instant.
  • Hulu (for a crappy selection of movies.)
  • Amazon.
  • Time Warner On Demand.
  • Red Box

Red Box still has an advantage over the rest of those services because it’s only $1.20 (now) and there’s a greater selection of New Releases that I can watch almost instantly.  I mean, it’s convenient considering that I am at the store anyway at least four times per week.  Netflix Instant has shitty new releases.  On-Demand and Amazon cost 5x as much.  Downloading feels dirty now.

This weekend I was at Albertsons and decided to see what was in the Red Box.  I found Take Shelter and Shark Night and then was offered a free movie (basically) so I decided to give Hangover II a second chance.  When returning those movies the next day with several hours to kill, rented 30 Minutes or Less and again offered a free (basically) movie and rented Our Idiot Brother.

Here are four quick reviews:

Take Shelter starring Michael Shannon, 120 minutes, Rated R

“Hey you want to see this movie?”

“What’s it about?”

“Well, this guy has visions and is going crazy, or is he?”

“Huh.  Who stars in it, Michael Shannon? LOL!”

“Actually, yeah.”

“Okay, then let’s watch it.”

Shannon is one of the best actors around, even if he is typecast as a lunatic these days.  He’s just so damn good at it.  He’s been around for a long time, and did you have any idea that he was in Groundhog Day?

He slowly worked his way up the ladder, quietly sitting in the back of your sub-conscious with supporting work in movies like Vanilla Sky, 8 Mile, Bad Boys II, and Pearl Harbor.  He got his first shot to star in a “man that guy is NUTS!” movie by co-starring with Ashley Judd in the William Friedkin film Bug in 2006.  He was then nominated for an Oscar for his lunatic role in Revolutionary Road in 2008.

He is now mostly known as Agent Nelson Van Alden (a lunatic) in Boardwalk Empire.  He’ll probably get nominated for another Oscar after his performance as General Zod in Man of Steel in 2013.

In Take Shelter, he plays a family man in farm country (I’m just going to say Kentucky for the hell of it.  I’m sure I’ll remember where it was set here in a minute.  Or maybe I won’t.  Does it matter?  They live on a farm, kind of.  Okay?) who starts having nightmares of a storm coming.  The worst storm you ever done seen.

The nightmares turn into visions and it’s starting to effect his life and ruin his marriage.

His wife is played by Hollywood fast-riser Jessica Chastain, and now I’m in love with another red-head.

The movie is very suspenseful throughout and you’re left wondering more about “What does this mean?” more than you’re wondering about if he’s crazy or if it’s really happening.  Because it’s Michael Shannon, I kept just assuming he was crazy and that he needed some help.  Either way, it’s more about Shannon giving another great performance.  It’s one of the best $1 million budget movies you’ll ever see, and I’m surprised that they got it made for so little.

(So far I haven’t gotten to mention that co-starring with Shannon is his Boardwalk Empire buddy Shea Wigham, another favorite of mine.)

Shannon alone is enough to rate this movie as a Class 5 storm.  (Out of 7 classes.  That I just made up.)

Shark Night 3D starring Sara Paxton, 91 minutes, Rated PG-13

Let me just say this: I LOVE bad movies.  I love movies that are so horrible that they are entertaining but I also love movies that are just sort of 90 minutes of gratuitous filler.  The Piranha remake would be a perfect example of this.  Piranha was pretty stupid, but the kills were great and there was plenty that went into it to give it an R rating and make it watchable.

If I had realized that Shark Night was rated PG-13, I would have never bothered.

Beyond just being incredibly boring when it lacked the two key components of a “teens killed on vacation” movie (Nudity and blood), it was just INCREDIBLY stupid.  Like, one of the stupidest movies I have ever seen.  But it was not so stupid that I was laughing throughout, I was just shaking my head in total disapproval.

I kept thinking that this movie was rated R and was waiting for at least something to keep my attention piqued, but nothing ever happened.

You want a plot?  Okay.. .dear God, am I really going to try this?

Malik wants to thank his tutor Nick for helping him pass his test which means he can keep his scholarship and not go back to the ghetto of Baltimore, so he takes Nick and his video game nerd roommate Gordon out to the lake cabin of Sara, who Nick has a crush on.

First of all: Racist, Racist, Racist, Racist.

Second of all: In the first scene, Malik, Nick and Gordon don’t seem like friends.  In the second scene, they are BEST friends.

They get to the lake and it turns out that not only is Malik an expert water skier (must have learned on the streets of Baltimore) but there are sharks in the lake.  Lots of different kinds too.  How did they get there?  Was it because of hurricane season or does it have anything to do with that redneck that HAS SHAVED HIS TEETH INTO SHARK TEETH?  Hmm… I DONT KNOW.

This movie sucks on so many levels that I can’t even explain it.  It’s got a 3.9 rating on Imdb, which seems appropriate because anything under a 3 might be watchable for how bad it is.  Shark Night is not.  It’s got zero redeeming qualities.  No matter how hot Sara Paxton is:

This hot

It will never give you your 91 minutes back.  Avoid this movie like you’re avoiding lake sharks.

30 Minutes or Less starring Jesse Eisenberg, 83 minutes, Rated R

The most positive thing I can say about this movie is that it has Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari, Nick Swardson, and Michael Pena.  It’s probably the funniest that Swardson has been in awhile, it’s classic McBride, and it showed that Ansari probably could at least carry half of a movie as a co-lead.

I’m a little over the whole “Eisenberg neurosis” thing and over-saturated with him being him, but the supporting cast is enough to make this watchable and very funny at times.  The fact that Swardson plays a moron that’s able to build a sophisticated vest bomb that can be detonated by a phone is a little far-fetched, but seeing as though it’s a comedy I am willing to let that slide.

McBride plays the son of a lottery winner (played well by Fred Ward) that wants his dad to die so that he can inherit a few million dollars and open up a tanning salon that’s a front for a prostitution ring, but he needs $100,000 so that he can pay a hitman (played by personal favorite Pena) to do the job.  That’s when he forces Eisenberg to rob a bank and get the hundred G’s.

Comedy ensues.

It’s not the funniest movie ever.  It’s not the most clever “heist movie” ever, if you call it a heist movie.  But there are worse ways to spend 83 minutes and it’s only 83 minutes.

Plus, Bianca Kajlich nudity alert.

The movie was directed by Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer, but this is a far cry from Zombieland.  It’s entertaining, but not THAT entertaining.

I give this movie 20 out of 30 minutes.

Our Idiot Brother starring Paul Rudd, 90 minutes, Rated R

How good should a movie be that has Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Steve Coogan, T.J. Miller, Shirley Knight, Rashida Jones, and Adam Scott?

If you said “Very, very, very good” then you’ve probably set your expectation levels too high.  Because as good as that cast can be, the material here was just lacking.  If anything, I’d like to just see Rudd, Coogan and Miller in a comedy together (that would have been a good Three Stooges) and see how that plays out.

There’s just a lot of weird mis-casting choices here in an attempt to pack as many good comedic actors into one film as possible, but very little about it works.  Rudd works as a lazy and misguided hippy and Miller as the hippy that replaces him.  But not much else did.

Like Rashida Jones as a suit-wearing lesbian?  Or Coogan as an asshole husband and documentary film director?  It really made me sad to see Coogan cast in a role that wasn’t funny at all.  And then Banks cast a brunette with a terrible haircut?

Rudd is forced into a situation where his bitchy ex kicks him out after he returns from jail and is forced to go find a place to live because he can’t find a real job.  I didn’t know the exact premise of the movie going in, but about 20 minutes later I had figured out where the next 70 minutes were going to take me.

There are very few characters in this movie to root for except for Rudd, but all of his sisters are either awful or misguided in their dislike of their brother going into the third act.

It was too predictable and not funny enough to warrant a second viewing from me at this point.  It might be worth a single watch because of Rudd though and a couple of decent chuckles.

I give Our Idiot Brother 2 out of 4 siblings.

Follow me on Twitter @casetines

 

 

Spoiled Movies: Buried with Ryan Reynolds

February 14, 2012 § 1 Comment

In this series, I give you the full synopsis and spoil the endings of movies that maybe you are curious about but don’t want to watch.  If you don’t want to know how Buried ends, don’t fucking read it.  But it’s a movie that takes place entirely in a coffin, so it might not appeal to most people.

Here is Buried:

Ryan Reynolds wakes up in a coffin, one of our worst fears.  I say “our” because none of us want to be buried alive, burned alive, or drowned.  We want to die in our sleep, or have Scarlett Johansson slit your throat while she’s fully nude.

Reynolds finds a cell phone in the coffin and then he makes some phone calls.  We find out that he was working as a truck driver in Iraq when he was in a convoy and attacked by insurgents and then he woke up in the coffin.

Frankly, why would anybody go to Iraq if they weren’t a soldier?  What kind of an idiot does that?  Either go to Iraq because you want to fight for the country and be given guns and grenades or DON’T FUCKING GO TO IRAQ.  You might just get buried.

He calls 911, they can’t help him.

He calls the FBI, but loses a signal.

He calls his company, CRT, but if there was an emergency he was supposed to call a DIFFERENT number, so he’s fucked there too.

The people that kidnapped him call him and are like “You are soldier?”

“No, I’m not a soldier, I’m a truck driver!”

“What kind of man come to Iraq and not work as soldier?  Are you fucking idiot?”

“Yes. Yes, I’m a fucking idiot, but let me out, please. I’m not a soldier.”

“$5 million by 9 PM.”

“Dude.  I’m a fucking truck driver and I CHOSE to come to Iraq because I needed the money.  Are you kidding me?”

“Your embassy.”

“Fine.”

He finally gets the number he needs and finally is able to talk to people who believe him and know that he’s actually buried in a box in Iraq and that they’re working to find him.

Thirty minutes in the movie he talks to a dude that’s got the 411 on what he really needs to do.  First of all, turn your phone from vibrate to ring tone in order to conserve battery life, but that’s just a good tip whether you’re buried in a coffin in Iraq or not.

They also tell Ryan that they don’t negotiate with terrorists and too bad, so sad.   But they’re working to find him and get him out of the box.  (Finally, Brad Pitt will know what’s in the box.)

The terrorist calls again and is insulted that he’d be called a terrorist.  Ehh… yeah, you’re kind of a terrorist my dude.

Reynolds is like, “They’re not going to pay.”

Terrorist: “$1 million money.”  (Racist.)

Like many audience members, he starts to get bored and plays Words with Friends on his phone, waiting to be rescued.

He talks to the British guy that’s helping him again and gives him the number of the terrorist.  Oh yeah, the racist stereotype terrorist tells him that he wants him to make an anti-America movie in order to be released, but the British guy is like “No, don’t do that.  If you make a video, say you fucking love America and say God Save the Queen, too for me, okay?”

Are terrorists the only people that movies are allowed to be racist about?  I mean, I guess I was defending terrorists there.  But it’s also racist against Middle Eastern people.

So Ryan and the British guy talk about someone else that this happened to named Mark White and the British guy is like “We found him and we’ll find you too.  We already have a solid lead.”

The terrorist is named Jabir and is played by Jose Luis Garcia Perez.  Holy shit, that’s like 10 times more racist.  They basically hired the most Spanish-sounding name ever to voice an Iraqi terrorist because they clearly think that terrorists sound like Mexicans.  This reminds me of Cliff Curtis.

This is Cliff Curtis:

He’s an actor from New Zealand with a unique look.

This is Cliff Curtis in Training Day, as a Mexican gangster:

This is Cliff Curtis as a terrorist in Collateral Damage:

Here he’s a fucking caveman in 10,000 BC

God, what an awful fucking movie.  I’m happy that Cliff Curtis can be so diverse though and play any race, sex, religion, or age.  Cliff Curtis as Tina Turner in The Tina Turner Movie.  Cliff Curtis as a tree in Trees.

So, Ryan Reynolds made the video saying “Fuck America.”

Then a snake crawls up his pants because the movie was really starting to lag and now we got a snake to deal with.  If I had been buried alive in Iraq for an hour and then saw a snake, even as deadly as this one probably was, I’d probably be like “Are you fucking kidding me snake?  I’m pretty much in a “This can’t get any worse” situation, and I fucking mean that.  No amount of snakes can top the fact that I’m buried alive in Iraq.  Sorry to disappoint you.”

He throws some shit on the snake and then burns it and it crawls back out through the hole it came in.  No biggie.

Ryan Reynolds calls his mom in an old folks home to say “Goodbye” just in case.  It’s sweet, but Jesus, how old are you Reynolds?  How old were your parents when they had you?  I mean… it’s kinda weird.  His mom has Alzheimers and shit and his dad is dead.  Thats the type of shit people go through when they’re 50 usually.  Are you 50, Ryan Reynolds?

There was another person kidnapped, a woman that worked with Ryan, and he has been trying to keep the terrorists from killing her too.  They send him a video of her being shot in the head.

The British guy, his name is Dan, is like “Why’d you make that video you jerk!?” and Ryan is like “Fuck you man.  They killed my friend.”

And Dan is like, “Your anti-American video already has 47,000 hits on YouTube.”

So what Dan?  Do you know what I would do to get 47,000 hits?  Terrible things.  Awful, anti-American, anti-human, anti-kitty things in order to get 47,000 hits in less than an hour.  If anything, we’ve finally unlocked the key to getting a bunch of YouTube hits.

The top of the coffin breaks and sand starts pouring in, but there’s 26 minutes left.  I hardly think he’s in danger or that he’s about to get out.  Ryan Reynolds actually says, “I got sand coming in, I probably only got half an hour until it fills up.”

Less than that, buddy!

Now he’s talking to Alan Davenport, voiced by Stephen Tobolowsky who is better known as Needle Nosed Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day.  Tobolowsky has 212 acting credits.

He tells Ryan Reynolds over the phone that he has been fired by CRT because he says that he was fucking that girl that was just murdered on video, and that goes against his contract that says you can’t fuck co-workers.  Basically, they’re trying to get out of paying off his life insurance to his family.

At this point, it’s the first time I actually care about him getting out of the coffin.  So that he can go kick Ned Ryerson in the throat.  I am now fantasizing about how awful I would be to the person that told me that I was fired while I was buried in a coffin, after seeing my girl get murdered, and then being told my family would get no life insurance if I died.

Mmmmm…. Revenge fantasies….

The top of the coffin is really letting in sand now and about to break.  At what point do you start to consider making a break for it?  Yeah, you probably won’t make it but I would probably think that it’s possible.  What if he found out he was buried in 6 inches of sand?

Ryan leaves a goodbye message on the phone for his family.  He leaves his clothes to his son.  Which would make sense since apparently Ryan Reynolds is 50, his son is probably 25 or so.

As the movie winds down, the Mexican guy playing a terrorist says, “Where is money?” and he tells Ryan he knows where his family is and he’ll kill them if he doesn’t make a video of “you show blood or I show blood” and send it.

Hey, I do similar things with chicks and cell phones when I’m wasted but I don’t ask them to show blood.

He cuts off his pinky finger and sends the video.

All of a sudden the top of the coffin opens up, light pours in, people are saying “Are you okay?  Talk to me, are you okay?!” and it seems he’s safe.

Haha, fake out.  Ryan Reynolds was just hallucinating.  Awesome.

But wait, he gets a call from British guy and he says “WE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE, WE’LL BE THERE IN THREE MINUTES!”

He gets a call from his wife Linda and says, “They’re coming for me, it’s going to be okay. And I love you.” and she’s like “Oh, I love you too baby!” and he’s like “I’ll talk to you soon.  Kisses.” and she’s like, “Come home to me.”

And then he talks to the British guy again, “We’re almost there!” as the coffin is nearly full of sand and then the British guy says, “Oh God.  Oh my God.  I’m so sorry Paul.  It’s Mark White.  It brought us to Mark White.”

They found the other dude that he said was alive but wasn’t really and Ryan Reynolds died.

The End.

Now wasn’t that better than watching it?

Follow me @casetines

Hot Girls From My Childhood: Shawnee Smith in The Blob

February 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

We all remember the first time that we saw Shawnee Smith, and for every person that time is different.  Literally, for every person in the world it is different.

For the uneducated, Smith is Amanda in the Saw movies.

For people over 60, she was the girl in Becker.

Or perhaps for you, she was one of the little girls in this 1981 McDonald’s commercial.  I wonder if Shawnee and “other girl” are still best friends?

For me, I first noticed her beautiful face in one of the most underrated horror films of the 80s: The Blob, co-starring Matt Dillon.  No, no, that’s not right.  Well, they couldn’t get Matt Dillon, so they hired the real-life version of Johnny Drama and the actor who plays Johnny Drama: Kevin Dillon.

When Drama recounts his “glory years” on Entourage, he’s basically talking about that time he starred in The Blob and guest starred on Tales from the Crypt.  It took K. Dillon nearly 20 years in the business to finally get the respect needed for him…. to play himself.  Good luck with Johnny Bananas.

Shawnee Smith shared a similar fate.

She has been acting for basically her entire life, and made her on-screen debut in the 1982 version of Annie, when she was 12.  She was 18 when The Blob (I seriously have written blog EVERY TIME and had to re-type it) came out, but co-starring in a righteous special effects horror movie wasn’t enough to put her over the top.

But she did have a bunch of small roles that kept her at the forefront of my fantasies.

Look how cute she is in Summer School (1986)

Then The Blob

Wow, that smile.  Such as in Who’s Harry Crumb? (1989)

And continued to show up in The Stand (1994), The X Files, Leaving Las Vegas (1995), and Armageddon (1998) so that I’d never forget how badly I want to kiss her face.

For most people, it seems that they’ll always know Shawnee as “Amanda in Saw” but most of those movies are shitty.  They might know her as Linda in Becker, but I never watched that shit.  Ted Danson is only funny when he’s on Cheers, Curb, or Whoopie.

The Blob isn’t a great all-around movie, but if you can get past Kevin’s face, it has some great kills, special effects, and most importantly a smile could melt my blob of a heart.

Shawnee, you’re 12 years older than me, but age is just a number.  Besides, when I first fell in love with you, you were only 18.  If anything, I’m a perv for liking a girl so young. Let’s party.

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