Friday, July 25, 2008

I'LL BE BACK

COMPUTER VIRUS IS CURRENTLY RUNNING RAPID ON MY PC. GETTING IT REPAIRED. I HAVEN'T STOPPED THE BLOG. EXPECT (A TON) MORE REVIEWS ONCE THIS SHIT GETS CLEANED UP. CROSS YOUR FINGERS- SHOULD BE THIS WEEK.

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO WONDERED WHERE I WENT ON MYSPACE. I DELETED MY ACCOUNT. MORE TROUBLE THAN WHAT IT WAS WORTH. SO I DIDN'T DROP YOU IF THAT'S WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT. YOU CAN ALWAYS REACH ME VIA COMMENTS HERE- AS MY BUDDY TYLER DID WHEN FOR SOME REASON I CALLED "I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK & LARRY" AS "I KNOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK & LARRY". THAT'S WHAT GETTING OUT OF WORK AT 1AM WILL DO TO A MAN.

LARRY

SORRY FOR THE ALL CAPS. I JUST FELT LIKE USING THEM.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD DO AMERICA (1996)

BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD DO AMERICA

Rating
: PG-13
Length
: 81 minutes
Directors
: Mike Judge (Office Space; Idiocracy) and Yvette Kaplan (“Beavis and Butt-head”; “King of the Hill”)
Writers
: Mike Judge (Office Space; Idiocracy) and Joe Stillman (Shrek; Shrek 2)
Starring
: Mike Judge, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Robert Stack, Greg Kinnear, David Spade, David Letterman, Cloris Leachman, Richard Linklater, Eric Bogosian. Tracy Grandstaff

I remember seeing “Beavis and Butt-head Do America” on it’s opening Friday back in 1996. I went with my good friend Diana, some pretentious doofus named Phil, and a kid who’s name escapes me that was mentally challenged (maybe?) and his big deal around school was that he thought he was Vanilla Ice. Before the move started, the Vanilla Ice kid (I can’t believe I don’t remember this kid’s name) went in front of the crowded theater and danced and free-styled. Nobody seemed to notice or care, but I thought it was pretty funny (in a kind way). Then the movie started and honest to God when I popped a copy of it into the DVD player the other day to watch it, I didn’t remember more than a couple of scenes. I watch a lot of movies, but I usually remember at least a little of the movie, especially one that was as culturally popular as this one was at the time. If you weren’t around at the time, “Beavis and Butt-head” was the “Friends” of the Gen X youth. Watching the movie I wondered why that was. I haven’t seen an episode of the show in quite some time either, but I imagine it would have more novelty than the film has. When the show first started, my friends and I used to complain about the video commentary that would interrupt the actual episodes. Now I understand why it was necessary. The characters are funny, situationally, only in small doses. There were reasons the episodes were short and the videos were included. The movie itself is now painfully dated and uncomfortably unfunny. It’s like a home video you and your buddies filmed in middle school and unearthed your senior year of high school. “But it was hilarious back then…” The jokes in the movie are stale and deal a great bit with Beavis’ masturbation issues. I laughed a couple of times, but the laughs didn’t feel very natural. They felt kind of like pity laughs. When the end credits rolled and that goddamned Red Hot Chili Peppers “Love Rollercoaster” cover played for the millionth time in the movie (they killed that song on MTV and the radio when the movie was released), I recalled the Vanilla Ice kid and I laughed. That laugh wasn’t a pity laugh. I guess a kid pretending to be Vanilla Ice and beat boxing is more dated than a “Beavis and Butt-head” movie, but it saddens me to say that in 2008 the Vanilla Ice kid holds up better.

Download Soundtrack MP3:
Red Hot Chili Peppers- Love Rollercoaster
Engelbert Humperdinck- Lesbian Seagull

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Friday, July 04, 2008

I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY (2007)

I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY
**

Rating
: PG-13
Length
: 110 minutes
Director
: Dennis Dugan (You Don’t Mess with the Zohan; Big Daddy)
Writers
: Alexander Payne (Election; Sideways), Jim Taylor (Election; Sideways), and Barry Fanaro (Men in Black II; Kingpin)
Starring
: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Jessica Biel, Dan Aykroyd, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Allan Covert, Rachel Dratch, Richard Chamberlain, Nick Swardson, Dave Matthews, Lance Bass, Rob Corddry, Robert Smigel, Richard Kline, Nicholas Turturro, Dan Patrick, John Farley, Mary Pat Gleason, Dennis Dugan

Alexander Payne and Jim Payne (Election; Sideways; About Schmidt; Citizen Ruth) co-wrote this movie? What the fuck? Okay, now that I got that out of the way, I can start the review (apparently even highly respected Oscar winners still need to earn a living? I don’t know, this still confuses the hell out of me). Hmm, let’s see- oh yes- “I Know Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” is a movie starring Adam Sandler and T.V. “star” Kevin James as a couple of macho fire men who have to get married in order to provide a life insurance policy for widowed James’ children (Cole Morgan and Shelby Adamowsky). Ladies and gentlemen, let the gay bashing and balls and dick jokes commence! And that they do! But don’t worry, by the end of the film, there’s a lesson to be learned- I think it’s that even though gay people are gross and weird and different and stuff they’re okay, you know, “as long as they don’t pull any of that ‘gay shit’ on me”. Just picturing Payne and Taylor sitting at the computer typing some of the dialogue in this movie warps my brain in ways I didn’t think was possible. Still, I’m sure you noticed that I gave the movie a very generous two stars. Why? Because I suppose it serves it’s point. It was made for the exact reason that it displays itself. Is it going to make the frat crowd that worship Sandler any more tolerable for homosexuals? Doubtful. But it kind of tries (in a way like calling a gay guy a “fag” and then telling him later in secrecy that “hey dude, I’m sorry. I know I was out of line”. In fact, one scene even has Sandler protesting the word “faggot”). Sandler’s character, Chuck, of course, is a ladies man- he’s Mr. February in the “Fireman’s Hunk Calendar”- and James’ character, Larry, is still mourning the one year plus death of his wife. So the crazy comic shenanigans they get into while adjusting to their “new lifestyle” are bound to give the usual Sandler fans some chuckles (James is a lame duck- he’s strictly for sitcoms. He just doesn’t have the crossover appeal for the movies)- and granted, a few of the jokes do work. Some fall very flat- including a extended gag involving tough new firefighter, Duncan (Ving Rhames), who is inspired to come out of the closet thanks to Chuck & Larry doing so. The state doesn’t quite buy the marriage so they send an investigator (Steve Buscemi) out to snoop around. In defense, the two have to hire a lawyer (Jessica Biel), who is conveniently super hot, and Chuck falls for. Wonder what’s going to happen there? It’s predictable, occasionally offensive, occasionally stupid, but also occasionally funny. I wonder if we have Payne and Taylor to thank for those funny moments- even though I’m sure they get red faced whenever someone mentions this movie to them. If you had a Best Screenplay Oscar wouldn’t you?

Download Soundtrack MP3:
David Bowie & Queen- Under Pressure
Radiohead- High and Dry

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

THE LOVE GURU (2008)

THE LOVE GURU
½

Rating
: PG-13
Length
: 88 minutes
Director
: Marco Schnabel
Writers
: Mike Myers (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery; Wayne’s World) and Graham Gordy (War Eagle, Arkansas)
Starring
: Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Ben Kingsley, Stephen Colbert, Romany Malco, Meagan Good, Omid Djalili, Jessica Simpson, Val Kilmer, Mariska Hargitay, Verne Troyer, Kanye West, Jim Gaffigan, Rob Huebel, John Oliver, Rob Blake, Telma Hopkins, Deepak Chopra, Graham Gordy

Remember how funny “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” was the first time you saw it? How “yeah baby!” and “shagadelic” and all those annoying catch phrases hadn’t been imitated by every single male that went to your school (in my case a very southern school- nothing beats hearing a redneck in camouflage doing his best “do I make you horny?” every single day in gym). Then came the next “Austin Powers” and the joke got old fast, but that didn’t stop the third “Austin Powers” where the jokes had become so old and overused they might as well have been Fatty Arbuckle vehicles. That’s what Mike Myer’s latest movie, “The Love Guru”, is like- except the jokes get third “Austin Powers” old ten minutes into the movie and then there’s still another hour and fifteen minutes to go. What happened to Myers? Was I the only one that found “So I Married an Axe Murderer” funny? Ditto both the “Wayne’s World” movies (particularly the massively underrated sequel- weird for Myers)? “Austin Powers” literally ruined the man’s comedic talents. I still stand by the first film as being extremely funny, but the sequels… well, we’ve all ready been down that path in this review. But the point is, Myers believes the multi-million dollar success of the “Powers” and “Shrek” franchises have given him the freedom to do whatever the hell he wants and he seriously believes just because he’s the Mike Myers people will watch it and think it’s funny. How quickly everyone forgets “The Cat in the Hat” fiasco. Here Myers plays a character that wouldn’t fill a six minute “SNL” sketch, yet alone a feature film, named Guru Pitka- a self help guru who is considered the second best in the world compared to some other guru. Pitka dreams of being number one and appearing on the “Oprah Winfrey” show. The only way to do that, apparently, is to reunite a hockey star named Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) with his estranged girlfriend (Meagan Good). The problem is that the girlfriend is involved with rival hockey star, Jacques Grande (Justin Timberlake- overdoing it a bit, buddy). There’s also a romantic subplot involving Pitka and Toronto Maple Leafs owner Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba- actually trying her best, but you know she has no one blame but herself- she keeps making these kind of movies- i.e. “Good Luck Chuck”). But let’s get down to what “The Love Guru” is really about- cramming in as many penis and shit jokes as humanly possible in under ninety minutes that won’t force the censors to let the film get an “R” rating. That much the movie accomplishes. If that sounds like the type of movie for you- well you’re dreams have been answered.

Download Soundtrack MP3:
Mike Myers- 9 to 5
Mike Myers & Manu Narayan- More Than Words

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

GIGLI (2003)

GIGLI

Rating
: R
Length
: 121 minutes
Director
: Martin Brest ("Scent of a Woman"; "Meet Joe Black")
Writer
: Martin Brest ("Going in Style"; "Hot Tomorrows")
Starring
: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Justin Bartha, Lenny Venito, Lainie Kazan, Missy Crider, Peter Van Norten, Shelby Fenner

I avoided “Gigli” as long as I could even though there was a burning curiosity deep inside of me that wanted to watch it. I had to see how bad it really was. I started watching it when I was in Reno and couldn’t make it past the thirty minute mark. It was bad, I thought to myself, but not that bad. Sure enough, upon finally completing the entire film, the movie isn’t as bad as the general public was lead to believe. However, make no mistake this is not a good film. The immortal Jennifer Lopez line “gobble, gobble” will go down in history as one of the worst in cinema history. Let’s face it, the Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez relationship was so played out by the point of the movie’s release that the critics went in hungry, waiting eagerly to rip it apart. And they did, so much in fact, that it still gets mentioned when bad movies are brought up (it is currently ranked #80 on the Internet Movie Database’s Bottom 100 list). I can’t defend the movie and I don’t want to, but I will say that I have seen much worse in my lifetime. Affleck stars as Larry Gigli, a low level hood who is assigned a mission to kidnap the mentally challenged son (Justin Bartha) of a district attorney. When he arrives to pick up the young adult-ish Brian, he runs into his new partner, Ricki (Lopez), a sassy lesbian whom didn’t know she had a partner in the assignment and neither did Gigli. Uh-oh! He’s a piggish, male chauvinist and she’s a bitchy man hater- combined with a silly ol’ retard and this is going to make for one crazy road trip! (Wherever they’re going). Sure enough, an unlikely love story develops between Gigli and Ricki (leading up to “gobble, gobble”) and they also both grow attached to the lovable and dim Brian, who thinks the whole time that they are driving to the “Baywatch”. At a minute over the two hour mark it’s a wonder what anyone was thinking. Editing this down to ninety minutes or so and a couple of re-writes and maybe, just maybe this might have worked. After all director Martin Brest isn’t Uwe Boll. He’s an Oscar nominee for “Scent of a Woman” and he directed the Brad Pitt starring remake of “Meet Joe Black” that remains unseen by me, but everyone else seems to love. So what went wrong? Way too much press backfired (the other “Bennifer” movie, Kevin Smith’s “Jersey Girl” also bombed commercially and critically)? Did Brest give himself a script that just wasn’t workable (his first script since 1979)? I say that it’s just a mess all around. The all too brief cameos from Christopher Walken and Al Pacino bring so much to the table in this film, that in a normal movie it would just be considered scenes featuring them- here their scenes are the movie. Gobble, Gobble.

Download Soundtrack MP3:
Sir Mix A Lot- Baby Got Back

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I couldn’t find the trailer for the movie on YouTube for some strange reason, so here’s the best part of the movie instead:


Monday, June 30, 2008

KISSED (1996)

KISSED
***

Rating
: R
Length
: 78 minutes
Director
: Lynne Stopkewich ("The L Word”; Suspicious River)
Writers
: Lynne Stopkewich (“The Atwood Stories”; Suspicious River) and Angus Fraser (“Terminal City”; A Girl is a Girl)
Starring
: Molly Parker, Peter Outerbridge, Jay Brazeau, Natasha Morley, Jessie Winter Mudie, James Timmons

Kissed” isn’t exactly about a very often used film subject, you know, being about necrophilia and all (unless you count those dozen or so ‘backwoods’ horror films like “Hills Have Eyes” and why should you?). Movies that tackle issues that audiences usually walk into with preconceived notions against the protagonist’s actions have it tough. Take “The Woodsman” for example- a movie where Kevin Bacon played a child molester recently released from prison. That film tried to give a human face/soul to people that the human race generally doesn’t give one too. I didn’t like the movie because I thought it tried too hard and even still it was tough to find Bacon’s character sympathetic. Comparing child molestation and necrophilia is an apple and oranges kind of deal. Is it more wrong to take advantage of a helpless child and scar him for life or to be taken advantage of when, you know, you’re dead? Sandra Larson (“Deadwood”’s Molly Parker) has had a fascination with death her entire life. As a young pre-teen (Natasha Morley) she and her best friend, Carol (Jessie Winter Mudie) would collect road kill and give them proper burials, but at night Sandra would return and dig up the graves and hold the bodies. In any other movie, this would be where the film would start turning into the horror category. Here it is weird, yet her fascination is so passionate it’s hard to explain. One day, after gathering road kill, Sandra and Carol undress and dance in the woods and Carol catches Sandra rubbing a dead animal in a rather sexual way all over her neck. The friendship, naturally, ends right there. Now grown up, Sandra is distant and has just earned her dream job working at a morgue. She even gets a boyfriend, Matt (Peter Outerbridge), who likes her even after she confesses to him that she has a fantasy of sleeping with a dead man (Molly Parker is hot and all, but that is devotion). It doesn’t take too long before Sandra makes that fantasy a reality. So what is the film about? A grown woman who is into necrophilia and trying to juggle having an actual relationship where “live” sex just doesn’t do it for her. How do you make a relationship like that work? More importantly how do you make a movie like that work? Somehow Canadian director Lynne Stopkewich does it. It is also, most impressively, her debut film. The movie depends so much on Molly Parker’s performance and she delivers. It was the role that after years of mingling in made for T.V. movies and cancelled shows, she finally broke into the indie world. Now she is finally getting her due as an amazing actress and what a job she does here. Kevin Bacon, a decent actor, just wasn’t strong enough to sway the audience in “The Woodsman” the way Parker does here. Her passion and need for love is displayed so delicately that even though she is, without question, not all there mentally- you understand why and just kind of accept it. I think it goes without saying that this is not a film for everybody, so please don’t Netflix it and then call me a lunatic for recommending a movie about a girl that sleeps with dead guys (it really is done rather tastefully, believe it or not). I thought it was well made and under extremely difficult circumstances too. It’s easy to make a movie about assassins or cute animated robots and make them accessible to practically everybody, but to make a movie like this and have it accessible to anyone is a challenge. Stopkewich and Parker are up for it and they pull it off. Hey some people have foot fetishes, others have dead people fetishes. We live in a strange world.

Download Soundtrack MP3:
Sarah MacLachlan- Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

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Friday, June 27, 2008

FAMILY GUY PRESENTS BLUE HARVEST (2007)

FAMILY GUY PRESENTS BLUE HARVEST
***

Rating
: Not Rated
Length
: 48 minutes
Director
: Dominic Polcino (“Family Guy”; “The Simpsons”)
Writer
: Alec Sulkin (“Family Guy”; “The Late Show with Craig Kilborn”)
Starring
: Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Mila Kunis, Mike Henry, Chevy Chase, Beverly D’ Angelo, Leslie Nielsen, Rush Lumbaugh, Patrick Warburton, Adam West, Judd Nelson, Phil LaMarr, Lori Alan, Mike Hucknall, Alec Sulkin

The power goes off at the beginning of the “Family Guy” spoof of “Star Wars”. Bored and with nothing to do without T.V. (an old “Simpsons” trick), Peter Griffin- the father of the family for those who are from another planet that haven’t heard of this show- decides to tell a story. Of course, the story is the “Family Guy” take on the first “Star Wars” movies- the one from 1977- I’m not going to get into all that Episode this and Episode that bullshit. Seeing the success that Cartoon Network’s “Robot Chicken” (co-created by “Family Guy”’s son Chris, Seth Green), Fox decided to package the episode as a stand alone DVD and even made a “collector’s edition” that included a useless extra disc of bonus materials and a t-shirt (there’s a funny bit at the end where Chris mentions that “’Robot Chicken’ did this months ago”). There is apparently an intense rivalry between “Family Guy” devotees and “Simpsons” devotees about which show is better (if you ever get a chance to read this message board battles do so- because if you’re feeling down about your life, you’ll feel much better afterwards). To me, “The Simpsons” wins hands down, even “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane admits his show wouldn’t even exist without it. I feel “The Simpsons” has the upper hand simply because there is deeper character depth and it doesn’t rely solely on pop culture and repeat gags (not to say that it doesn’t use both of them, but just not to the phenomenal extent that the latter does). “Family Guy”, however, does what it does very well and I have laughed my ass off many a times at it, so in my book it succeeds and to go back and forth on which show is better is pretty ridiculous when both are damned well entertaining and serve their purposes quite brilliantly. For instance, “Family Guy”’s use of pop culture humor is what makes it able to carry a forty eight minute spoof “Star Wars” and make it absolutely hilarious, when it’s done you even want more. The show has fun here and it’s evident that everyone involved is giving a film that practically everybody worships a loving jab. Peter is Han Solo; Chris is Luke Skywalker; Lois is Princess Leia; Brian is Chewbacca; and Stewie is Darth Vader. Meg is reduced to a brief cameo as a one eyed creature during the trash compactor sequence (in which a stoned C-3PO (Quagmire) saves the day). The show follows the plot of the movie pretty straight forward throwing in it’s trademark humor and what can I say? It works. It even works better than those four or five episodes they strung together previously and tried to market as “The Family Guy Movie” about Stewie and time travel… and well, that’s a whole other review. If you like the show chances are you’ve all ready seen this (it’s not like I’m really breaking out an advanced review here or anything), so you know what I’m talking about. If you do like the show and you haven’t seen it, then you should, you’ll enjoy it. If you’re a “Star Wars” fan that hasn’t seen this or “Robot Chicken”, then I recommend that you Netflix or Blockbuster both of their "Star Wars" spoofs and I guarantee you you’ll at least get a few laughs- even if you don’t feel the force is too strong with either of them. It is, however, strong enough to make me laugh and that’s good enough for me.

Download Soundtrack MP3:
Family Guy Theme
John Williams Orchestra- Theme from “Star Wars

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

WANTED (2008)

WANTED
**

Rating
: R
Length
: 110 minutes
Director
: Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch; Day Watch)
Writers
: Michael Brandt (3:10 to Yuma (2007); 2 Fast 2 Furious), Derek Haas (3:10 to Yuma (2007), and Chris Morgan (The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift; Cellular)
Starring
: Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, James McAvoy, Terence Stamp, Common, Kristen Hager, Thomas Kretschmann, Marc Warren, David O’Hara, Konstantin Khabensky, Dato Bakhtadze, Chris Pratt, Lorna Scott, Scarlett Sperduto

Wanted” is “Fight Club” amped up to be a live action video game. Watching the film opening night at the theaters, which I feel I have to add the crowd was oddly silent for a change, I kept expecting the film to stop and give me the option to press the “X” button to continue on from the dialogue sequences to start playing the game again. It deals with Corporate America anonymity/frustration and what if you got to toss all of it away to become a really cool assassin that hung out with a gang of really cool assassins that had gnarly nicknames like “Fox”, “Gunsmith”, “The Butcher”, and “The Exterminator”? I mentioned “Fight Club” not only due to the Corporate America similarities but also due to the fact that the film feels it needs to tack on a really boring “see it coming a mile away” twist (nothing like the “Fight Club” twist- don’t worry I didn’t spoil it for you- if you don’t see the twist coming anyway, then you were probably text messaging during most of the movie instead of watching it). The action scenes are a clusterfuck of the last few “Mission: Impossible” movies and, of course, “The Matrix”. Are they boring? No, not really. They are entertaining for the most part. They are a tad obnoxious though. The cinematographer (Mitchell Amundsen) feels he needs to throw out every cool hyper image he can at us until, alas, we do feel like we are playing “Wanted” the video game, instead of watching “Wanted” the movie. James McAvoy stars as Wesley Gibson. A Corporate American drone who has a bitchy fat boss (Lorna Scott) who berates him, a bitchy girlfriend (Kristin Hager) who’s sleeping with his best friend (Chris Pratt), and as he tells “Fox” later in the film he “doesn’t know who I am!”. Don’t we all, buddy. Try going to my job for a day and going through twenty fours in my shoes. But that’s besides the point, we are aware of Wesley’s angst through his (once again) “Fight Club” styled narration and then he has a near assassination moment at a conveince store by a rogue assassin (Thomas Kretschmann). He is “saved” by Fox (Angelina Jolie) and quickly informed that he is the son of a recently murdered gun for hire that was part of an alliance that Fox is also part of. Wesley being the son of someone in the alliance has it in his blood to be a natural born killer and through some played out training sequences with neato camera visuals we see that it is, in fact, true. Next step, the band of assassins- who happen to figure out who to kill next due to some weird code that is printed out on some kind of cloth- need to take care of the scum that killed Wesley’s father. Wesley, reluctant at first to join, changes his mind after he finds his father’s savings ($3 million plus) in his bank account)- and in one of the movie’s most enjoyable sequences gets to quit his job and give his best friend what’s coming to him in style. He also gets to show his girlfriend that he can do much better when shows up at their old apartment to retrieve a gun and Fox makes out with him in front of her just to piss her off (who wouldn’t want that?). The entertainment aspect of the movie, I suppose, is not it’s problem. As you will see if you click the Rotten Tomatoes link below, the movie currently has a 73% overall rating, which honestly shocked the hell out of me when I pulled it up. Critics certainly are a finicky bunch aren’t they? Slamming something decent one week (“The Happening”) and then praising a re-hased rather unoriginal action picture they next. I guess even critics sometimes fall victim to a movie’s flashy style-over-substance (which admittedly can work if done correctly) just like normal audiences do too. “Wanted” is not a bad movie, it’s just kind of an arrogant one. It wants to let you know that it has all this style, but it doesn’t want you think hard enough to remember that this isn’t the first time you’ve seen something like this. Guy Ritchie and the Wachowski Brothers were doing this ten years ago. If you see this movie, you will not be bored. You will more than likely guess the plot twist early on and then you can just turn your brain off and watch things go “boom” for the rest of the movie. I’d say you could just watch Angelina Jolie too, but she kind of isn’t in the movie as much as advertised and she’s starting to show her age a little too. When I see her now, I don’t see an actress like I used to (I, for one and call me crazy, never thought she was the hottest lady ever- that award belongs to someone I know). I see a tabloid queen. Her acting skills here don’t do much to make anybody forget that either. The one-liners the dialogue weak screenplay (three screenwriters folks- all of whom have worked on "Fast and Furious" sequels) give her and all the others don’t do much for anybody- her, McAvoy (looking odd not dressed in Victorian era costumes), or Morgan Freeman. But, hey, it’s summer right? These are the kind of movies that are supposed to be coming out. So explain to me how “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” did it so much better (and smarter)?

Download Soundtrack MP3:
Danny Elfman- The Little Things
Danny Elfman- Fate

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY (1988)

BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY
***½

Rating
: R
Length
: 107 minutes
Director
: James Bridges (Urban Cowboy; The China Syndrome)
Writer
: Jay McInerney (Gia; David Lynch’s “Hotel Room”)
Starring
: Michael J. Fox, Kiefer Sutherland, Phoebe Cates, Dianne Wiest, Jason Robards, Kelly Lynch, Swoosie Kurtz, Tracy Pollan, John Houseman, Annabelle Gurwitch, David Hyde Pierce, Jessica Lundy, William Hickey, Charlie Schlatter, Sam Robards, Reni Santoni

Bright Lights, Big City” is one of my favorite drug movies (aren’t they all?) and it is certainly one of the more underrated ones. Based on the memoirs of screenwriter Jay McInerney, the movie is propelled by a powerhouse performance by none other than Marty McFly himself, Michael J. Fox. Yeah, that’s that right, a powerhouse performance by Michael J. Fox. You read it right. After watching him yuck it up on “Family Ties” and adequately go through the “this is heavy Doc!”s in “Back to the Future” (not to mention fucking “Teen Wolf”), Fox really proves himself as one hell of an actor here. The real shame, despite the movie’s anonymity, is that he was never really given the chance to give another performance like this. There was “Causalities of War”, but he was stuck with the Charlie Sheen “Platoon” part while Sean Penn got to chew up the scenery. Then it was off to forgettable clunkers like “Life with Mikey” and “Greedy”, until his eventual return to TV with the lame “Spin City” (only to be replaced by none other than Charlie Sheen). His extremely unfortunate bout with Parkinson’s disease has forced him out of the business and watching this movie is not only depressing due to it’s subject matter, but also due to a talent that was generally wasted by what was surely management that preferred to market Fox as Alex Keaton and Marty McFly. What a shame. There’s a sequence here where a wasted Fox gives what Roger Ebert has all ready beaten me to the punch on as describing as an amazing monologue about how lost he is and how it’s the best work of Fox’s career. He plays a thinly disguised version of McInerney named Jamie Conway here. He works for a successful magazine as an editor, but spends his nights coked up and drunk with his best friend Tad (Kiefer Sutherland). He is habitually late to work, having to stay late to make up assignments that he usually butchers anyways, and has to rely on the kindness of a caring co-worker (Swoosie Kurtz) whom he doesn’t even have the decency to show up to meet for a scheduled lunch date. Conway is still busted up over his failed marriage to Amanda (the ever beautiful Phoebe Cates), who also got hooked on coke and then became a big deal in the modeling scene and left him. The coke problem has gotten more and more out of hand until it’s taken over his life. He loses his job and finds the endless nights of partying with Tad blending together. Black screens pop up with white words printed on them that read things like “Monday- What ever Happened to Sunday?”. I was never a big fan of cocaine personally. I didn’t like the way it made me feel, but I identified with why people would like it, why they would love it. It’s a drug, that like the girl that screws Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Basketball Diaries” tells him will make him “fuck like Superman”- I interpreted that more as feel like Superman. The only problem is, like every drug (sorry to get so drug preachy in all my drug movie reviews lately by the way), it has it’s built in kryptonite and once it starts to take effect you start to feel less and less like Superman and more and more like a regular person- or worse yet, not even a regular person. Just a shadow. That’s what “Bright Lights, Big City” is about- wanting to be Superman, but ending up being just a shadow.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
New Order- True Faith
Bryan Ferry- Kiss and Tell

Buy the DVD Here
Buy the Soundtrack Here

IMDB
Rotten Tomatoes


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

SECRETARY (2002)

SECRETARY

Rating
: R
Length
: 104 minutes
Director
: Steven Shainberg (Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus; Hit Me)
Writer
: Erin Cressida Wilson (Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus; My Lunch with Larry)
Starring
: Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Spader, Jeremy Davies, Lesley Ann Warren, Amy Locane, Stephen McHattie, Erin Cressida Wilson, Jessica Tuck, Oz Perkins, Lily Knight, Lacey Kohl, Steven Shainberg, Patrick Bauchau

I had been recommended “Secretary” for years from various people. “It’s weird”, they would say, “You’ll like it”. I always find it funny when people recommend movies to me that they think that are “weird” because a) most of the time they aren’t very weird b) despite the fact that I watch a good amount of independent cinema, does that make me a weird movie fan? It’s not like I have a poster of “Eraserhead” hanging up in my room (though I did have a picture of David Lynch under my “heroes” section on my now deleted Myspace profile). “Secretary” is, in fact, not a weird movie, which is not why I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it, because it wasn’t a good film. It was shallow and wasted a wonderful and brave performance by Maggie Gyllenhaal- who gives it her all and let’s the director do what he wants and he wastes her. James Spader, usually a great addition to any film, doesn’t cut it as a romantic lead. He is weird and although his character, Edward Grey, is offbeat, he comes across more as creepy than misunderstood. When he starts spanking his new secretary Lee (Gyllenhaal) - the scene doesn’t come across as sweet as some critics/fans have stated or sexual, but as disturbing. I didn’t want Lee and him to fall in love. I thought her character was too sweet and good for him and I’m pretty sure that’s not what the director Steven Shainberg was going for. Edward Grey seems more likely to end up on the front page of a newspaper as a newly discovered serial killer than as the guy that sweeps up Lee in a piss stained wedding dress to whisk her away to a happy ending (you’ll have to see the movie to understand, but really, if you want my advice, I wouldn’t bother). The movie has gained cult status due to it’s dealing with S & M and such, but it doesn’t really divulge into the subject as much as it’s been hyped or perhaps should have. There are some spankings and such, though it doesn’t feel sexy or romantic. Maybe I don’t understand, I don’t know, but if the point of “Secretary” was to help me understand then it didn’t get the job done. It’d be fired.

Download Soundtrack MP3:
Cake- I Will Survive
The Faint- Agenda Suicide

Buy the DVD Here
Buy the Soundtrack Here

Website


Monday, June 23, 2008

MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO (1991)

MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO
**½

Rating
: R
Length
: 104 minutes
Director
: Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting; Drugstore Cowboy)
Writer
: Gus Van Sant (Drugstore Cowboy; Elephant)
Starring
: River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, Jim Caviezel, Flea, James Russo, William Richert, Chiara Caselli, Udo Kier, Grace Zabriskie, Michael Parker, Jessie Thomas, Rodney Harvey, Brian Wilson, Tiger Warren, Gus Van Sant

Gus Van Sant and the word pretentious just go together. I think he himself is woefully aware of his own pretentious leanings and plays towards them and doesn’t care if you, the viewer, like it or not. For that I highly respect him. After receiving his first best director Oscar nomination for the extremely overrated “Good Will Hunting” (after the Oscars really fucked up and omitted both him and Spike Lee in 1989 for Van Sant’s “Drugstore Cowboy” and Lee’s “Do the Right Thing”), he was all set to go in Hollywood. His prior try out for the non-indie circuit, the wicked and excellent dark comedy, “To Die For”, didn’t make a big enough splash to ensure him a front door entrance. “Good Will” certainly did though, and after the curious scene by scene remake of “Psycho”, he made a cookie cutter “Good Will” clone called “Finding Forrester”, which rightfully failed at the box office (“Who’s the man now, dawg?”). What to do next? Make a trilogy of extremely slow paced, beautifully filmed movies about real life and how people actually react to situations: “Elephant”- one of the best films I’ve ever seen- a thinly disguised take on the Columbine massacre; “Gerry”- about two men who get lost in the desert and have to face the fact that they are probably going to die; and “Last Days”, the only unsuccessful one (in my opinion)- a fictionalized account of Kurt Cobain’s final days before his suicide. He hasn’t gone back to the studios since and all three of those films were either highly praised or highly criticized, with you guessed it- the word “pretentious” being the front runner of all the critiques. Yet, these were many of the same critics that adored Van Sant’s follow-up to his career breakout “Drugstore Cowboy”- a movie called “My Private Idaho”- a gay road trip movie based on Shakespeare’s plays “Henry IV” and “Henry V” (modernly updated naturally). The movie, mainly due to it’s gay content and River Phoenix’s outstanding performance, has gained a massive cult audience since it’s release and is considered Van Sant’s masterpiece by most critics. How they can let this one slip by without the “P” word being thrown out and rail on “Gerry” is beyond me. “Idaho” literally screams with pretentiousness at the viewer from the screen. The sex scenes, for example, are shot with the actors/actresses standing completely still, shot by shot moved into different positions, yet never physically moving themselves. Not to mention the use of the Shakespeare dialogue (long before Baz Luhrmann made it cinematically acceptable). The movie also wanders around rather aimlessly. It’s gay hustler heroes- Mike (Phoenix), a narcoleptic who desperately wants to find his mother, and Scott (Keanu Reeves- very, very good believe it or not), a traveler in the world of depravity as his father’s fortune will soon also be his own- kind of just show up from place to place. Hustling in Portland, going to Europe in search of Mike’s mom, Mike waking up alone in Idaho… It’s certainly not a movie for everyone and when it was over I wasn’t sure if it was a movie for me. I do consider myself a fan of Van Sant. Even when he fails, as in “Last Days”, I admire the heart and soul he puts into his pictures. He is no lazy director and he is someone who generally appreciates that he has the opportunity to make motion pictures and gets the chance to use them as an actual art form instead of as a cash cow (minus “Finding Forrester” of course). “My Own Private Idaho” is a love it or hate it kind of movie, though I found myself stuck right in the middle of love and ambivalence instead. It was hard to ignore the brilliant performances, but it was also hard not roll my eyes a lot. “We have heard the chimes at midnight”.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
The Pogues- The Old Main Drag
Madonna- Cherish

Buy the DVD Here (Criterion)


Sunday, June 22, 2008

COME EARLY MORNING (2006)

COME EARLY MORNING
**

Rating
: R
Length
: 97 minutes
Director
: Joey Lauren Adams
Writer
: Joey Lauren Adams
Starring
: Ashley Judd, Diane Ladd, Laura Pepron, Tim Blake Nelson, Jeffrey Donovan, Scott Wilson, Stacey Keach, Ray McKinnon, Jeff Nichols, Jason Davis, James Cotton, Pat Corley

Indie actress veteran Joey Lauren Adams (and former longtime girlfriend of Kevin Smith) has paid her dues. She’s been in a lot of your favorite movies- “Dazed and Confused”, “Chasing Amy”, “Mallrats”, “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”, “Bio-Dome”- er, scratch that last one. If you don’t know her by name, you’ll instantly recognize her by her look and voice (which isn’t to everyone’s liking), if you aren’t a big independent movie fan than you’ll probably know her best as Adam Sandler’s lawyer girlfriend in “Big Daddy”. Always a very talented actress, Ms. Adams makes her film debut with the disappointedly flat and uninspired “Come Early Morning”- which is a real shame given the talent involved. It’s not so much that it’s a bad movie. Adams shows signs of being a very capable writer and director. She has a good ear for dialogue (as I imagine any longtime girlfriend of Kevin Smith would probably pick up) and knows what she’s doing behind the camera. The problem, I believe, is her confidence level. I think, even given the extremely familiar storyline, with an extra push and a little more creativity that this could have been a step above the rest. Instead it barely came to theaters and made it’s television premiere on Lifetime- where to be honest many of it’s viewers might have been a bit bored. Ashley Judd gives another remarkable and unheralded performance as Lucy Fowler (Adams was originally going to pull a Woody Allen and also star, but opted for Judd instead). Fowler is a southern woman who works diligently for a construction firm during the day and then spends her nights getting drunk and picking up one night stands. She doesn’t have much of a support system. Her dad (Scott Wilson) is a local guitar legend who has a drinking problem of his own and her roommate (“That 70’s Show”’s Laura Pepron) silently watches as Lucy destroys herself, wanting to help, but unable to. One day, Lucy meets Cal (Jeffrey Donovan) at the local bar and he asks her on an actual date. She can’t remember the last time she had an actual date and when they share their first kiss, she also is astonished that she can’t remember the last time she kissed someone sober. And so the story goes- will Lucy get her act together? Will she slip up and loose Cal- the one good thing that has come into her life in years? Will she finally bond with dear old dad? It’s a predictable and safe movie, driven by Judd’s powerhouse performance and a game supporting cast, but it’s all too familiar. You know where the movie is going five minutes in and then it’s a very slow ninety more minutes to get there. I do believe that Joey Lauren Adams can write and direct a wonderful film, though this one might not be it, there is one in her. Let’s hope that practice makes perfect.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
Billy Joe Shaver- Old Chunk of Coal
Merle Haggard- Silver Wings

Buy the DVD Here
Buy the Soundtrack Here

Website


Friday, June 20, 2008

FINDING AMANDA (2008)

FINDING AMANDA
***

Rating
: R
Length
: 100 minutes
Director
: Peter Tolan (“Rescue Me”)
Writer
: Peter Tolan (America’s Sweethearts; Just Like Heaven)
Starring
: Matthew Broderick, Brittany Snow, Steve Coogan, Maura Tierney, Ed Begley, Jr., Peter Facinelli, Bill Fagerbakke, Jack McGee, Katy Mixon, Kate Micucci, Mighty Rasta, Daniel Roebuck, LeeAnn Taylor, Luke Van Pelt

I’ve gotten so used to Matthew Broderick being a stick-in-the ass obsessive compulsive in all of his movies for the past seven or eight years now, that I was amazed to see him actually having fun in a movie for a change. “Finding Amanda”- directed by longtime Hollywood sap screenwriter and one of the creators of FX’s great “Rescue Me” Peter Tolan- is a small, character study comedy that relies a lot on Broderick. Although he is not the only character the movie chooses to focus all it’s attention on- after all the movie is titled “Finding Amanda”- if Broderick would have phoned it in like he has been for what seems like forever (or at least since “Election” and “You Can Count on Me”) the movie simply would not have worked. Brittany Snow, as Broderick’s runaway hooker niece Amanda, also gives a wonderful performance and her chemistry with him is right on target (screen chemistry, not romantic- don’t worry). It’s surprising that Tolan, who has penned such sappy romantic-comedies as the dreadful “America’s Sweethearts” and old episodes of “Home Improvement”- has made a movie about real people suffering through real emotions. Tolan’s time and effort on “Rescue Me” has obviously paid off and the mix up of the charm he can bring to the screen (“Just Like Heaven” was one of his better scripts) and the reality of the television show he writes/produces/directs makes for a pretty audacious debut. He doesn’t go down the sappy path and he doesn’t go down the “shock value” path (as much as I like “Rescue Me”- the show is all about shock value). Broderick stars as Taylor Peters- a former drug addict and alcoholic who has decided to leave himself one vice in gambling at the horse track. His long suffering wife (Maura Tierney- great as always) is getting fed up. His explanation that he needs at least one vice to keep himself going doesn’t make any sense to her and when Taylor learns that his niece has run off to Las Vegas to become a prostitute, he decides the only way to redeem himself and win his wife back is to go and rescue her. He believes that Las Vegas is the perfect place to do this (or so he tells his wife) so that can stare down the face of gambling temptation and rescue his niece from the hell she is most certainly in. Taylor, of course, immediately begins gambling and almost stumbles upon Amanda by accident- and here, unlike other movies, is a refreshing change of pace because Amanda is not in hell. She is actually pretty happy with her life- happier than her uncle. Taylor can’t understand why, but in all reality he is too focused on himself (gambling) to wonder if that’s even true or not. “Finding Amanda” is a very interesting and great little gem that somehow managed to slip through the cracks and not get a theatrical release. It will be becoming out on DVD in mid-September and I’m sure by then you’ll have forgotten all about this review- but if you happen to be perusing through the “New Release” section at your local Blockbuster or whatever and you see it. Give it a shot. You may or may not love it, but you’ll at least get a kick out of seeing a little bit of Ferris Bueller back in Matthew Broderick.

Download Soundtrack MP3:
Jefferson Thomas- Thursday’s Girl (Right Click and “Save As”)
Kate Micucci- Out the Door (Right Click and “Save As”) (Note: Song isn’t in the movie, but Kate is and I like her)

Listen to an interview with Matthew Broderick & Brittany Snow Here
Listen to an interview with Matthew Broderick and Peter Tolan Here

Pre-Order the DVD Here (Release Date: 09/16/08)


Thursday, June 19, 2008

WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END (2007)

WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END

Rating
: R
Length
: 93 minutes
Director
: Joe Lynch (Furious Angel)
Writer
: Turi Meyer (Candyman: Day of the Dead; Leprechaun 2)
Starring
: Henry Rollins, Erica Leerhsen, Texas Battle, Daniella Alonso, Steve Braun, Aleksa Palladino, Matthew Currie Holmes, Crystal Lowe, Kimberly Caldwell, Wayne Robson, Ken Kirzinger, Patton Oswalt

The original “Wrong Turn” was a pretty dull addition to the “psycho cannibal hillbillies in the woods” subgenre of horror. Not a lot happened and when it did it was nothing particularly worth noting (or remembering for that matter. The only thing I could recall from the first film when this one started was that Eliza Dushku and Jeremy Sisto were in it). “Wrong Turn 2: Dead End” is a step up as far as at least having more action and I think it will please horror fans who are into gruesome, gory deaths (one of the fist victims is literally sliced right in half and her two separate parts are dragged away). Does that make it a good movie? No. It’s still a bad movie, but fans of the genre might enjoy it and I think the filmmakers would pat themselves on the back if that is the case. Regular filmgoers or casual horror fans aren’t going to be as easy to win over. The script is full of awful one liners (there’s a drinking game for Henry Rollins’ ones alone just waiting to be invented) and the plot is nothing different really, except they’ve put a reality show twist into it. Rollins stars as some gung ho game show host who drags a bunch of dorks out to the woods to try to complete a “Survivor” like contest in order to win a large set of prize money. I assume, given that it is a sequel, that this is the same set of woods that the first film took place in and this is the same set of psycho hillbillies that terrorized the last batch of victims (or the same set of psycho hillbillies that survived the first film- like I said, I don’t remember much). Anyway, things quickly start to go haywire and the hillbillies begin picking off the cast members one by one, etc, etc. Nothing new. Rollins continues to show that has no place being in the world of acting, yet someone he continues to pop up in movies. Star Erica Leershen shows some actual talent as the smartest of the group. Hopefully she won’t be relegated to direct-to-DVD horror sequels for the rest of her career. So, to sum it up. “Wrong Turn 2: Dead End” might win over gore fans, but it’s probably not going to win over movie fans. But if you’re renting it or leaving it on TV when it comes on, you probably all ready know that.

Download Soundtrack MP3:
Eddy Grant- Electric Avenue

Buy the DVD Here

Website


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

MAY (2002)

MAY
**½

Rating
: R
Length
: 93 minutes
Director
: Lucky McKee (The Woods; All Cheerleaders Die)
Writer
: Lucky McKee (The Woods; All Cheerleaders Die)
Starring
: Anna Faris, Angela Bettis, Jeremy Sisto, Nora Zehetner, James Duval, Ken Davitian, Kevin Gage, Nichole Hiltz, Merle Kennedy, Will Estes, Roxanne Day, Samantha Adams, Brittney Lee Harvey, Lucky McKee, Jason Thornton

I’ve heard about “May” since it came out and have always debated renting/buying it. As time has grown since it’s release it seems to have gained a sizeable cult audience. I learned before watching it for the first time last night that an acquaintance of my girlfriend and I’s picks her boyfriends by their reaction to this film- that alone could make an interesting story. Though, to be fair I suppose, the lead character of May Dove Canady is your classic socially awkward loner. All the Goth girls you saw at school that didn’t run in cliques? That’s May. She dresses different, acts different, but is, when the film opens, an innocent person who just wants to be loved. Her loneliness and desire for human connection is what drives her over the edge. Fans of the film seem to have disagreements about what category it falls into- comedy, horror, tragedy. There are elements of all three, but tragedy would fit it best- though any movie where someone stabs their eye out with a pair of scissors is probably going to end up under the “Horror” section at Blockbuster. May, is indeed, quite lonely. She works at an animal clinic along with an immigrant doctor (“Borat”’s Ken Davitian) and a beautiful, flirtatious lesbian named Polly (Anna Faris- wonderful as always) who lets her intentions for May be well known. May kind of likes Polly too (“You have the perfect neck”, she tells Polly. May likes perfect body parts), but she finds herself infatuated with a local loser named Adam (“Six Feet Under”’s Jeremy Sisto). Adam has the perfect hands and shows a returning interest in May, but not the same kind that she has for him. After Adam, a lame aspiring filmmaker, shows May a short film he made in which two lovers bite and kiss each other with their own blood, May gets the wrong idea and scares Adam off. She can’t quite let Adam go so easily and she’s starting to grow tired of Polly’s interest in other girls (After May catches her with another girl, Polly tells her: “you’re still my main girl”). If only she could create the prefect person, just like the ceramic doll she was given as a child. The doll that remains in it’s case and seems to communicate with her. May starts to go off the deep end and although there’s no excuse for her actions, it’s hard not to sympathize with her. Angela Bettis gives an amazing lead performance. Her voice and subtle character nuisances are perfect for the role. It would be hard to imagine any other actress here instead. Director Lucky McKee has a keen eye for visuals (and a love for Kim & Kelley Deal's music), but his story development needs a little work. It’s been said that a more lengthy section involving May’s tough upbringing was edited out of the movie before it’s final release and at an hour and a half, the movie wouldn’t have over stayed it’s welcome by including it. The movie is also bound to repulse some viewers. It is a disturbing picture. There are funny moments and lovely, beautiful sequences, but underneath May’s heart may beat with a sad lonely thud, yet the thud also has a connection with a demented mind. So in the end is it really May’s fault? Don’t we all want the perfect person? Perhaps the most disturbing thing about “May” is that maybe we can all in some way identify with what she’s looking for.

Download Soundtrack M4As:
The Breeders- Oh!
The Kelley Deal 6000- When He Calls Me Kitten

Buy the DVD Here
Buy the Soundtrack Here


Monday, June 16, 2008

JOY DIVISION (2008)

JOY DIVISION
**½

Rating
: R
Length
: 93 minutes
Director
: Grant Gee (Meeting People is Easy; Blur & Radiohead videos)
Starring
: Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Tony Wilson, Martin Hannett, Rob Grettin, Anton Corbijn, Annik Honore, Pete Shelley, Lesley Gilerr

I want to give the new Grant Gee’s new “Joy Division” documentary a higher rating, but somehow I am unable to. It’s got all the right essentials to making a good documentary and it’s a band that I truly love and believe deserve a well done documentary. Maybe it’s because a lot of the familiarity of the material is all ready widely known by even slight Joy Division fans (I am always surprised to find people that can name off that Ian Curtis was listening to Iggy Pop’s “The Idiot” when he offed himself). Then again, maybe it’s because the movie has a severe case of bad timing- coming just a short time after the Ian Curtis bio-pic band photographer Anton Corbijn’s “Control” made a big splash (well, for an Ian Curtis bio-pic- I mean there was serious Oscar talk for Best Actor) - that we all ready know the story that is going to be told to. We get the standard interviews with the surviving band mates and only a few slight mentions of post-Divison’s morphing into the equally brilliant New Order. All the other essentials are here, including the always awesome, sadly late Tony Wilson. I think the problem may have been by trying to mix up the routine doc materials with some experimental bits (nothing too extreme- don’t worry) - usually just doesn’t mesh well. However, there are some chilling recorded interviews with Curtis and a heart rendering side by side of Curtis and New Order performing together twenty years apart. So Joy Division fans- you will probably not have a problem with the film. I didn’t have a problem with the film, because even though I know the story so well, they’re still one of my favorite groups. I do have a problem recommending it to the average documentary or regular film go-er, because I do think it could have been better and been more powerful and different enough to stick out without selling out- kind of like “Control” did but as a documentary. Your regular Joy Division fan may be enticed, but someone who hasn’t had much exposure to them (think “I’ve only heard ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and I thought it was the Cure, for like, ever!’) might not be and this band is too important to have that done to them. If you watch a movie/documentary about this band and don’t come away from it impressed with the influence they’ve had on a lot of your favorite music and a respect for Ian Curtis (if a somewhat sad one though), then the filmmakers weren’t as responsible as they should be have been. That or this band just isn’t your cup of tea. In that case, you’re -really not going to like it.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
Joy Division- She’s Lost Control
Joy Division- Atmosphere

Buy the DVD Here

Website


Sunday, June 15, 2008

YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN (2008)

YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN
*

Rating
: PG-13
Length
: 113 minutes
Director
: Dennis Dugan (I Know Pronounce You Chuck & Larry; Happy Gilmore)
Writers
: Judd Apatow (Knocked Up; The 40 Year Old Virgin), Adam Sandler (Billy Madison; Happy Gilmore), and Robert Smigel (“Saturday Night Live”; “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”)
Starring
: Adam Sandler, John Turturro, Rob Schneider, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Chris Rock, Nick Swardson, Dave Matthews, Mariah Carey, Lainie Kazan, Charlotte Rae, Kevin Nealon, Robert Smigel, Henry Winkler, Ahmed Ahmed, George Takei, John McEnroe, Bruce Vilanch, John Farley, Dennis Dugan, Anne Marie Howard

Ah, 1995. There was a small theater in Hobe Sound, Florida (you remember it if you used to live down there) that was about twenty miles north from West Palm Beach and twenty miles south from Stuart. Hobe Sound was a very boring little town where there wasn’t much to do but get stoned and go to their shitty little movie theater- which only played two titles at a time and they were titles that had usually been out for a bit. Yet, somehow in 1995, the Hobe Sound Theater got a hold of “Billy Madison”. “Saturday Night Live” was still cool back then (Sandler was still on, so was Chris Farley, Kevin Nealon, etc.) and Sandler had slowly emerged as the “next big thing” and “Madison” was his first official starring vehicle. I laughed so hard that tears rolled down my face. My friend Jason Orazi and I saw it and then parted ways and I went to visit my friend Richard, who also lived in Hobe Sound. I was laughing so hard trying to explain the movie that it was pretty much a given that we were about to go watch it. I saw “Billy Madison” three times that day. I bought Sandler’s comedy album, “They’re All Gonna Laugh at You”, and dutifully saw “Happy Gilmore”, “Big Daddy”, and the others are soon as they came out. I excused “Bulletproof”, but then came “Little Nicky” and “Mr. Deeds” and the animated “8 Crazy Nights”… need I go on? I don’t know if it was because I was getting older if or if it was because Sandler was just getting less funnier. Since “Big Daddy” in 1999 (which showed signs of Sandler slipping, but was still decent), he has made two good films: the brilliant, underrated “Punch Drunk Love”, which he gave the performance of his career, and the sweet romantic-comedy “50 First Dates”. Coming up on ten years since “Big Daddy” and I decided that it was, in fact, that Sandler was getting less funnier. Where as “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” had solely been funny due to my age at the time, Sandler was guilty of losing it. I caught “Madison” on Cinemax one late, sleepless night in Reno and while I didn’t laugh as much as did when I was younger, I still got some chuckles out of it. It holds up, where as something like “Ace Ventura” does not. Sandler is a greedy man guilty of selling out his talents for twenty million dollar paychecks to appear in crap like “Click” and yes “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan”- the latest of his lazy, cheap laughs vehicles. The goofy, irreverent fun that made “Madison” and “Gilmore” stand apart is long gone, replaced by repeated “fart” and “cock” jokes. Since the film has comic genius of the moment Judd Apatow’s name stamped on it (he was one of the three screenwriters that included Sandler and longtime collaborator/”TV Funhouse” creator Robert Smigel), it figures it will be able to grab in the “date movie” crowd because Apatow put out “Knocked Up” and “40 Year Old Virgin”- both perfect “meet me in the middle” date movies. My will they be angry. There isn’t any Apatow present that I could find in this mess. Just a one note character Sandler created named Zohan, that’s a mock up of an Iranian terrorist, who prefers to be a professional hair dresser in New York City over being an ace assassin for his ‘people” back home. There’s a lot of “it’s funny because it’s taboo” terrorist jokes (that by the way aren’t funny), Zohan dancing around like a moron waving his crotch in everyone’s face, and… I don’t know- the movie is almost two hours long and it seems like it’s never going to end. I kept sitting there waiting to laugh. Waiting for something, anything to make me laugh. It didn’t happen. You don’t want to mess with the Zohan because he’s a dangerous man, you don’t want to mess with the Zohan because he’s an incredibly unfunny man.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
Stereo MCs- Connected
Adam Ant- Strip

Find Showtimes Here

Website


Saturday, June 14, 2008

CANDY (2006)

CANDY
**½

Rating
: R
Length
: 108 minutes
Director
: Neil Armfield (Twelfth Night; The Castanet Club)
Writer
: Neil Armfield (Twelfth Night)
Starring
: Abbie Cornish, Heath Ledger, Geoffrey Rush, Tom Budge, Tony Martin, Holly Austin, Noni Hazlehurst, Luke Davies

It’s hard to make a drug movie without making drugs look fun. Even the anti-drug movies are often mistaken as glamorizing addiction (“Trainspotting” for example). To a filmmaker’s credit there is that certain allure to why people use and to quote “Trainspotting”- there is an upside to using drugs after all- “we’re not fucking stupid. Or at least we’re not that fucking stupid”. The upside, of course, is not really an upside in the long run because the addiction eventually ruins everything and the upside ends up becoming a long, lost forgotten memory. That is what the heartbreaking drug movie, “Candy”, is about and it’s one of the only drug movies, along with “Requiem for a Dream”, that does a good job in showing that while drugs can cause the user pleasure, it is not worth the aftermath. “Trainspotting” is my all-time favorite film and while it did- unintentionally- provide me with a fascination with drugs, I still strongly believe it is an anti-drug film- though that movie did have a “happy” ending or at least an ending that hinted towards being happy. “Candy” is not that type of movie. It’s also not as good as “Trainspotting” or “Requiem for a Dream” and it’s bleak outlook, though brutally honest is what sometimes goes against it. People that complain that a lot of modern horror movies are nothing but torture films could make the same complaint here. The movie’s two protagonists, Candy (Abbie Cornish) and Dan (the late Heath Ledger- who tragically died the way his own character here might have), suffer through 95% of the movie. The drug glamour scenes are done and out of the way ten minutes in- Candy has all ready suffered a near fatal overdose and has whored herself out to a pawn shop owner for a few extra bucks so her and Dan can score. “Candy” is not a movie about the good times, it is a movie strictly about the bad times. While it may be not be as an intense as “Requiem for a Dream” was, if you found that a bummer at least you had the visual eye candy to ease your sorrow. “Candy” is told very matter of factly, without camera tricks or a thumping techno soundtrack, it is quite frankly (and trust me on this) one of the most realistic drug movies ever made. Candy and Dan are young lovers who at the beginning of the film have a lot of blooming talent- Candy is a painter and Dan a poet. They swim together in a pool, embraced in each other’s arms, lips interlocked. It is sad that an hour later into the film, they can barely to stand be around each other without substances. They try to kick, but end up stealing to use. They lie to each other. There is paranoia and jealousy. The movie goes to a lot of dark places other drug movies haven’t touched. That being said, it is almost too much to take. For me personally, the movie hit a little too close to home at times and I had to pause it to take a cigarette break. There is a dead baby sequence in here that trumps the dead baby sequence in “Trainspotting”- something I thought could never be trumped. “Candy” is like watching someone else’s nightmare, unless you were unfortunate enough to live through a similar nightmare. So the question is- do you want to watch something so painful for nearly two hours? Does this qualify as entertainment or does it just qualify as a stern warning to anyone that thinks there is glamour to that kind of lifestyle? If sitting in a car while your wife sleeps with a dirty old man for an extra twenty dollars so you can both get high for a couple of hours seems glamorous, then “Candy” is a movie that you need to watch. If you all ready feel that that’s something that you could never see yourself doing, then maybe you should watch it anyway. But don’t say I didn’t warn you when you the end credits roll up. An accurate drug movie is not going to be a good time and it’s not going to leave you with a good feeling- just like the real deal.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
Tim Buckley- Song to the Siren
Soul Coughing- Rolling

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Buy the Soundtrack Here (Import)

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