Monday, January 31, 2011

February Movie Blogging

There are seven posts on Filmchaw's front page AND NONE are by ME! This is an outrage! And in Black History Month at that! Somebody get me Martin Luther King Jr on the batphone!

Anyway, here's what I've been up to:

I'm Still Here


I was fine with this movie until I started to get bored about three quarters of the way through and googled it and found out it was a "mockumentary." Fuck is that?! So this was supposed to chronicle Joaquin Phoenix's meltdown and retirement from acting and foray into rapping. That was fine. It was compelling even. Douchey and self involved, but, hey I have eleven fifty blogs, so who am I to judge. BUT ALL MY DAMN HELL ASS BLOGS ARE REAL! Although a fiction blog has been...wait...where was I... yeah... so I thought I was watching reality, then found out I wasn't and then I was annoyed.

Buried

So in keeping up with my main man Ryan "totally NOT Canadian" Reynolds. I rented this flick. It's called Buried. The box cover is a dude in a coffin. That's the plot. Dude kidnapped and buried alive in Iraq for ransom. So here's the thing. If you're claustrophobic at all stay away. Cause really, the whole movie takes place in a box. I liked it, it was scary...there are some contrived moments that made me roll my eyes because DUDE there's already a guy buried alive, do you need extra drama here? No. But your heart will race. It ends well.

The Old Maid

Old timey movie starring Bette Davis. She plays an old maid. Well, and a whore. Her cousin dumps this dude to marry another dude, Bette Davis feels all bad for the first dude and shags him. Gets knocked up. Has to fake an illness and “move out West” to have the kid. Then she has to take in thirty war orphans to hide the kid. It’s weird. And for the record, Bette Davis’ eyes? Also weird.


Guess Who


Totally thought I was going to hate this movie. I didn’t. I’ve never seen the original though, so I get the feeling the cavalier way that Bernie Mac is irritated that Ashton Kutcher is white doesn’t quite capture the impact of the original. Bernie Mac’s wife annoyed the hell out of me though. No idea why he married her. Certainly don’t get why he’d want to renew vows to her. This may be part of my ongoing irritation with the way black women are portrayed in movies, especially comedies. Oh, um, plot? Bernie Mac’s daughter is getting married. Guy is white. Hijinx.

The Oxford Murders

DUUUDE! This movie is sooo good! Not the least of all because Owen from Torchwood is in it and I'm kinda in an obsessed with Dr. Who stuff moment in my life. Torchwood is an anagram for Doctor Who! Wait...where was I...oh yeah, so the Oxford Murders is a murder mystery (duh) but you SO WON'T figure it out! But not in an annoying way where they pick some random dude you see one time and make him the killer annoying... SO GOOD! AANNNDDD the movie convinced me that I am not bad at math. In fact, I'm a brilliant mathematician! TOO BRILLIANT for you not-as-brilliant-as-me math people to understand my brilliance. There is only one flaw in the movie, but I assume I only spotted it because I'm so brilliant.


Bride and Prejudice


Look. I absolutely loved the first two hours of this movie. Why on earth was this movie longer than two hours. I dunno. It’s a Bollywood romance. Starring Sayid from Lost! And the new lady from that Fox series starring Chance and the big black guy from Pushing Daisies. But no one watches that…so Sayid! It’s an Indian Pride and Prejudice thing with a white American named mister Darcy and an Indian girl. They are proud and prejudiced. But mostly there is singing and dancing. And brightly colored costumes! Oh, that life were a musical! I would say “my life” but I know my character would die early in the second half.


Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason


OMG! It’s another Pride and Prejudice themed movie. I so didn’t plan that! This movie is awful. But Colin Firth… nope, not even worth it to see him fighting in a fountain with Hugh Grant. Well…um…okay, so how about you rent the movie, skip all the way to like the third to last chapter and watch him fighting in the fountain with Hugh Grant.

Cyrus

This movie stinks. It stars that stupid Knocked up guy. Not the main one, the other one. It’s HORRIBLE. It’s just 90 minutes of footage of socially awkward people with undiagnosed mental disorders and we’re supposed to laugh. Wretched.

Cry-Baby

Every now and then I find a Johnny Depp movie I've missed. This is the first time I've regretted my due diligence. Ugh. Why would he do this to us? WHHYYY??? WHYYY? Okay, it's a very old movie and maybe he was just young and starving... What's it about? He's a bad to the bone teenager in a rockband called the cry babies. He's sweet on a good girl square. Will she cross over to the wrong side of the tracks to be with him or stay on the straight and narrow with her grandmother? Yawn. It maybe is also supposed to be a spoof of Grease cause there's singing and dancing and a car race thingy.

Takers (2010)

Vomitous. I had to, unfortunately, watch the first half twice cause I had no fracking clue what was happening and then the second time through, I discovered this was intentional cause it was supposed to be a clever double reverse double triple reverse double cross. It’s idiotic is what it is. Everybody dies. Everybody is in on everything. IT’S STUPID. Ooh, but they do shoot Zoe Saldana in the face! Almost worth renting…


Easy A [Blu-ray] (2010)


This movie was GENIUS! I avoided it at the video store for a long time cause it looked like just another raunchy high school movie for me to hate. But instead, it’s a raunchy high school movie to love! Very funny. Great script. Brilliantly acted! Yay! Hooray! Definite renter!

Plenty (1985)

Every now and then, I come across a movie that forces me to ask google one very important question. That question is “what the fuck was (insert title) about?” Plenty is that movie. Google didn’t know either. Meryl Streep was lovely in it though. O_o *scratches head*


Yours, Mine & Ours (2005)


Awww, this movie is like the Brady Bunch, if the Brady Bunch involved 18 children and forty-five pets and the dad from the Sound of Music. It’s cute.

Phoenix & Griffin
Total bummer terminal illness movie. I'm writing this review before the end cause, well, I'm sleepy. But so far, it's pretty standard tearjerker fare with a not awesome twist about 30 minutes in. Best lines: Griffin: What is it you always used to want? Phoenix: George Clooney Griffin: I'm being serious Phoenix: SO AM I. GEORGE CLOONEY and if you really love me, you'll get him for me.

Twelve (2010)

This movie is about rich, promiscuous Upper East side prep school kids who do drugs all the time. It’s told vignette story style and shows how their worlds collide. It wasn’t totally awful.

Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010)

THIS MOVIE WAS GREAT! Okay, it was probably just good, but I was expecting such sucky sucktacularness that the coherency of the story floored me! This movie actually made sense! I KNOW, right?! If I wrote those little quotes on DVD boxes the one for this would read “An ending finally worthy of the franchise’s beginning.” It’s a nice gruesome wild ride, right from the gory opening scene to the kickass finale! Yay! Saw is back just in time to not make anymore.

The Social Network [Blu-ray] (2010)

This movie was brilliant! I was riveted from start to finish. Though, I did come away feeling like all the parties involved are douchey assholes. But hey, they did go to Harvard. I am not exactly surprised. That Jesse Eisenberg may have just vaulted himself up from being the poor man’s Michael Cera to being someone whose name I might remember. Justin Timberlake finally finds a role I can believe him in. Brava. Slow clap.


Machete


Okay, seriously, this movie is just pure bloody fun. Like. Really. Don’t look for a plot… though there is something about a drug kingpin lord killing his family or trying to take over the world, I dunno. The dude that plays Machete kills people. With a machete. Enough said. Oh and he has sex with Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez… oh and there is lesbianism. Between Lindsay Lohan and her mother, if you’re into that sort of thing. And a guy gets crucified. So to recap: Things die and people have sex. You’re welcome.

The Hills Have Eyes [WS] [Unrated] (2006)

I was in the mood to be scared. So I rented this. I was not scared. I was annoyed. This movie is stupid. The bad guys are really disabled people. How am I supposed to be all rooting against the disabled? COME ON! Eyeroll.


Devil [Blu-ray] (2010)


I had such low expectations for this movie once I saw that it was brought to us by M. Night Shyamalan that I actually ended up enjoying this movie. It’s about five strangers trapped in an elevator when they start dying off. The superstitious guard starts to think the devil is near and is behind it. Knowing that it was M. Night Shyamalan, I expected it to turn out to be something else, something dumb like…food poisoning. But it wasn’t. It’s formulaic and if you are as avid a consumer of popular television and film, as I am, you will figure it out before the end. But at least it wasn’t a dumb bullshit ending like all his other movies except Unbreakable and the Sixth Sense.

Dinner for Schmucks (2010)

I am going to copy and paste a previous review now: This movie stinks. It stars that stupid Knocked up guy. Not the main one, the other one. It’s HORRIBLE. It’s just 90 minutes of footage of socially awkward people with undiagnosed mental disorders and we’re supposed to laugh. Wretched. Except insert the names of that guy from the office and the dude who played Cher’s stepbrother in Clueless. I really hope this isn’t the future of all comedy now. Blech.

The American [Blu-ray] (2010)

This movie wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t great. But I was interested. I kept waiting for stuff to happen though…it creeps. And then when stuff really starts to happen, it’s over. Oh, Clooney plays an assassin who tries to quit. Yeah…lemon.

Red (2010)

This is starting to become a bona fide movie genre. Old men wanting to keep playing the action heroes. This stars Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman as ex CIA guys who come out of retirement when their compatriots start getting picked off one by one. There is a ridiculous romance story tacked on. But for the most part, things get blown up and bad guys get shot. We should not be encouraging old men to run around shirtless with weapons though. Action movies are the domain of the young dammit. Get me Zac Efron’s agent on the line.

Secretariat

Red followed by Secretariat! See what I did there? This movie was FANTASTIC! Disney just knows how to make you love a movie even when you know how it ends. Yes, you will be on the edge of your seat, holding your breath until the final photo finish! Go, Secretariat, Go! Weird to see Lafayette all normified though.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole [Blu-ray] (2010)

DUDE. DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE. This movie is terrible. Awful. God awful terrible. It’s my own fault though. I rented a movie about talking samauri owls. I did that. Like, on purpose. I deserved what I got.


Mother and Child (2009)


This movie is told vignette style about women and the children they adopt or gave up for adoption or are living as an adopted child. It is designed to make sure you start crying the minute you put it in the player all the way to when you take it back to Blockbuster. Evil manipulative bastards. I need a tissue. Or a box.

Along Came Polly

It's when a movie like this arrives in my mailbox that I realize that I must truly hate myself. What else would possess me to ask someone to send me a movie starring Ben Stiller AND Jennifer Aniston? WHY? This movie looked awful, I thought it was gonna be awful and VOILA It totally delivered!

Babies

Speaking of delivering. This movie just looked cute. Then it came. The previews are longer than the movie, which follows women on four continents through the last weeks of pregnancy through the first year of their babies' lives. It totally reminded me that WYGANT TURNED ONE YESTERDAY! I was too hopped up on painkillers to remember yesterday. Bad Aunt Stephane. Anyway, the movie is basically like watching strangers' home movies. There is lots of boob action. Oh, and you will hang your head when the Chinese baby is driven home from the hospital on a moped and the African baby is biting it's way to dominance, but the San Francisco baby is bolted down in a car seat with a helmet on its head at the grocery store. Oy.

The Client

This is a super old movie starring Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Sarandon that I remember wanting to see when I was a kid because the commercial shows the kid hiring a lawyer for a dollar and I thought that was so awesome. And yeah, that was pretty much the best part of this Grisham story about a boy on the run from the mob after the mob lawyer tells him the mob secrets before killing himself. It's not good.

Nowhere Boy

This movie is about teenaged John Lennon. He is living with his aunt and uncle when his uncle dies and his mother comes to the funeral. They rekindle their relationship, much to the chagrin of his aunt. They sneak around behind Aunt Mimi's back. She teaches him to play the banjo and he decides to become like Elvis and recruits all his schoolmates into his band called the Quarryman. Or something. The actor who plays John is compelling and the woman who plays Aunt Mimi, is very famous and wonderful...can't remember her name just now. She's got like three of them...she was in Four Weddings and a Funeral....damn. Anyway, the movie is good.

Jump

Brought to you by the same people responsible for Kung Fu Hustle. About 1/3 as good. But it's cute. It's basically the same as ever other movie to feature the phrase "I just want to dance." So...you know, there's a dance off and someone sprains an ankle during the final showdown.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

TIme-Delayed Oscars: 1993

So last week was fun. Unforgiven was voted the winner, as expected, with a surprisingly (to me) strong showing for Malcolm X. Except that the votes went up AND down. What do I know?

Either I am in a much more charitable mood or this year was just STACKED. Lots of movies to cover. Let's do it.

If you think I'm making a snarky joke
about Schindler's List, you're crazy.
Here's a list of ALL the movies of 1993.

The Keepers

Army of Darkness - The lesser of the Evil Dead movies is still (arguably) the funniest. "Good guy, bad guy ... I'm the guy with the gun." It is a little bit criminal, isn't it, that we live in a world where Shia LaBeuf is an action star, while Bruce Campbell toils in obscurity? Nonsense.

Benny & Joon- Does this one survive? It probably doesn't belong on this list. It does have a notable early Johnny Depp performance as a Buster Keaton worshiping fool with a heart of gold. Also, it features that "I Would Walk 500 Miles" song. I may be alone in half-remembering this movie half-fondly.

Carlito's Way - Al Pacino and Brian DePalma before losing their fastball. Sean Penn just as he was finding his. An under-rated gangster gem.

Dazed and Confused - The American Graffiti of a new generation. I love this movie, man. I get older...it stays the saaaame great. This is one of those films that I knew before I was even finished watching it that it was an enduring classic. Packed with big stars before they became big stars, a great script, and an almost magical invocation of a specific time and place (it will make you nostalgic for the seventies even if you weren't alive then), Dazed is the goods.

Falling Down - The movie that presaged the Tea Party. An angry nameless white collar drone (Michael Douglas in one of his career-best roles) goes on a cathartic and impotently insane rampage one sweltering Los Angeles day. "I'm the bad guy?" mumbles the guy who has just kidnapped his kid.

The Fugitive - Tommy Lee Jones pwns in this movie, especially the famous drainage pipe scene. He even took home a best supporting actor Oscar for his troubles, and that's why we still remember a decent action movie that overachieved into a Best Picture nomination.

Gettysburg - I haven't seen this yet (I know, I know. Let's just say this is one of those movies that nearly get me killed when people find out I haven't seen it. For a select few, it may be the most fervently beloved 4-hour movie of the decade.

Groundhog Day - In 1993, this was a minor hit for Bill Murray. Over the years, Groundhog Day has become a beloved classic, and has entered the canon of The Greatest Comedies Ever. Its safe to say this is the consensus best Bill Murray movie and performance. "Bing!"

In The Line Of Fire - Malkovitch malkovitch malkovitch malkovitch. Malkovitch. Malkovitch malkovitch malkovitch? Malkovitch!

Jurassic Park - It was a hell of a year for Stephen Spielberg, was 1993. He didn't just turn in one of the most lionized films of all time (more on that soon). He also had the biggest hit of the year, a movie that just so happens to have also been the CGI game-changer presaged by the liquid T2000 cop in Terminator 2 a couple years back. When it comes to action/adventure/summer spectacle movies, there's before Jurassic Park and after Jurrasic Park. It all started with those dinosaurs.

Menace II Society - This one is starting to be forgotten a bit. I loved this movie, and it still seems to me to have been operating on a totally different wavelength than any of the other "hood" movies of the 90s. Where did this genre go, anyway? Are there still earnest movies about inner city violence? That ending still gives me chills. I wish the Hughes Brothers had gone on to do anything else worth mentioning.

Much Ado About Nothing - Not Kenneth Branagh's best Shakespeare adaptation (Henry V) or his most ambitious (Hamlet), but certainly his most accessible and fun. Even Keanu stinking up the joint is horribly enjoyable and enjoyably brief. I do wish Branagh was still making Shakespeare movies. His reading of "She loves me? Why, it must be requited." is both hammy inspiration.

A Perfect World - I doubt anybody remembers Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven follow up, which I'll never understand. It doesn't qualify for this list, it's never mentioned anymore, I doubt anybody watches it, but it. Is. Great. Kevin Costner is awesome in it. No, really. It's got an all-time excellent little kid performance. Clint Eastwood says "I do like tater tots." I don't know what else you people want.

The Piano - Art house fave that won Holly Hunter an Oscar, launched Anna Paquin (also Oscared), and presented us once more with another lingering gaze at Harvey Keitel's junk (no Oscar). You may think I'm obsessed at this point but for about three years that guy would just NOT keep his damn pants on. Anyway. This film is absolutely gorgeous and haunting, and though I think it's more admired than watched these days, it's not forgotten.

The Remains of the Day - People keep talking about how brilliant Anthony Hopkins was in this. I guess I'd better go watch it again. Eighteen-year-old me saw it in the theaters and hasn't thought about it since, but then eighteen-year-old me had considerably different tastes.

Rudy - So the little runt gets a sack. Was this movie any good? It must have been at least a little. It keeps getting brought up.

Schindler's List - Wow. I think this movie is absolutely amazing. I don't want to see it again. We'll talk more about it down the page a bit.

Searching For Bobby Fischer - Highly under-rated movie about life, fathers and sons, expectations, talent, and chess. I think this one has just enough love to make the list . . . for now.

Short Cuts - Every single working actor of 1993 appeared in this movie (seriously, check out the cast list on IMDB), one of the early "everybody is connected" ensemble films later epitomized by lesser movies like Crash and Babel. This one distinguishes itself from those in that it is good. Vintage late-period Robert Altman, this one.

Sleepless In Seattle - Horses, horses, horses. Um. Sleepless is ridiculous. People still like it, though, because Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are charming together. But for real, she leaves her fiancee the day before her wedding to meet some dude she heard on the radio. That's fine, she doesn't have to stay with a guy that she obviously is ambivalent about, but she just dumps the poor guy and doesn't even bother telling him. Years later, in You've Got Mail, we're also expected to have the warm fuzzies when Meg Ryan falls head over heels for the guy who crushed her business and her dreams. Nora Ephron is messed up. Is she Zac's mom?

So I Married An Axe Murderer - The best of all Mike Myers movies. You want to argue? OK, fine. First of all, Stephen Wright, Phil Hartman and Alan Arkin all have very funny cameos. Next, they use Big Audio Dynamite on the soundtrack. Also, features the "look at the size of that boy's heed" scene and some great parodies of beat poetry. Finally and most importantly, no sequels that recycle the exact same jokes. Check and mate.

Three Colors: Blue - The first entry from Krzysztof KieĊ›lowski's beloved Three Colors trilogy. It lives on with art-house fans and cineastes, if not in the mind of the larger movie-watching public. Juliet Binoche is fantastic in this portrait of grief.

Tombstone - Does Val Kilmer at least get a Best Supporting Actor nomination if there's a do-over? This was a pretty stacked year (DiCaprio, Ralph Fiennes, Tommy Lee Jones, Malkovitch Malkovitch), but he at least gets a nod, right? He IS this movie, and gives one of the most entertaining performances of the year.

True Romance - Um, where to start? The only Tarantino script to still feel like a Tarantino movie without the benefit of QT's direction. Christian Slater at his career apex (which doesn't sound like much, admittedly, but man, he's good in this movie). Brad Pitt as Floyd. Gary Oldman as Drexel. Michael Rappaport as Dick "shoot 'em! get 'em" Ritchie. James Gandolfini in a dry run for Tony Soprano. Bronson Pinchot in a hilarious turn as total LA movie scum. All this, yes, and more. But the most indelible takeaway will always be Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper sitting in a darkened mobile home, understanding each other perfectly."I'll have one of those Chesterfields now, if you don't mind." Chills.

What's Eating Gilbert Grape - No movie with this title will ever be forgotten. Also was the point of entry for many movie fans of a young actor named Leonardo DiCaprio, who's still sort of trying to be this good again.

Schindler's snifter. (OK, just one. I'm only human.)

And the Time-Delayed Oscars Go To . ..

Best Picture

Real Nominee List: The Fugitive, In the Name of the Father, The Piano, Schindler's List, The Remains of the Day

Today's List: Dazed & Confused, Gettysburg, Groundhog Day, The Piano, Schindler's List

I have less doubt about this than any other movie of this decade. Schindler's List rightly took the big prize in 1993, and it would clearly win again today. Some fault Spielberg for bringing to much of his trademark gloss to a Holocaust movie, other detractors have opined either that a story that is about survivors fails to face up to the horrible reality, or that the subject is just too serious for the form. Allow me to make this point: That's stupid. Schindler's List is shattering, almost relentless, one of the most perfectly-calibrated movies of the decade (OK, the 'Schindler's farewell' scene is a little too schmaltzy, but it's the exception that proves the rule). Schindler remains one of the most fascinating biographical characters in movie history, a manipulative and exploitative war profiteer possessed of a slow-burning conscience. Ralph Fiennes gives what is (to me) beyond a doubt the best performance of the year. And if you scoff "*cough* manipulative *cough*"when the descendants of the Schindler's List Jews come over the hill ... I don't know what to say to you.

My Pick: Schindler's List

Actor

Tom Hanks won for Philadelphia, a well-meaning movie that teaches us that gay people are Just Like Us. Also, AIDS patients are People. The message is true, but it all just seems a little quaint today. His 1993 Oscar basically kick-started Hanks' run through the nineties as our greatest actor, but I have to tell you, I don't think he'd win the re-do. Anthony Hopkins is greatly admired for The Remains of the Day, but he just won for Silence of the Lambs. I'm calling it for Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, a rare win for a purely comedic performance. Murray's only become more respected as an actor over the years, and his performance in 1993 is now recognized as one of his best. The movie would fall flat without Murray's subtle shifts of attitude between iterations of identical scenes acting as signifiers of his current mental state: disbelieving, frantic, suicidal, and, finally, accepting. Watch all the Ned Ryerson scenes and be amazed.

Actress

Holly Hunter is awesome. Also, she was awesome in The Piano. Also, I'm tired of writing so much. Let's let her keep her Oscar, unless you have other suggestions.

What was the best movie of 1993? Go vote at FilmChaw!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

3.5" Movies: Machete

When I first heard of Robert Rodriguez many years ago, it was when he was mostly known as the director of El Mariachi (1992), an amazing and violent Spanish-language movie about a mariachi who was mistaken for a killer. He later went on to create the American "sequel", Desperado (1995), a fantastic movie itself, starring Antonio Banderas and Selma Hayek, which built upon the story of the mariachi desperado. Finally, a third film was made in the loose trilogy, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, in which el mariachi gets involved in yet another convoluted murderous plot starring, in addition to Banderas and Hayek, Johnny Depp.

Like the Mariachi trilogy, Robert Rodriguez's career has gone from Spanish-language films to Americanized films, to American popcorn films. The same man who brought us the ultraviolent El Mariachi has more recently brought us the Spy Kids trilogy and Sin City (a decent film in its own right, but closer to popcorn than filmhouse). With Grindhouse, he attempted to bring back the camp with co-director Quentin Tarantino. Rodriguez's portion, an apocalypse zombie flick called Planet Terror, was an interesting homage to old school B-films, albeit one that had its share of problems. Machete, meanwhile, was the outgrowth of one of the fake previews attached to the Grindhouse films.

On its own Machete is an interesting film. Ostensibly, the story is about a former Federale, Machete played by Robert Rodriguez alum Danny Trejo, who gets wrapped up in a political assassination and immigration issues in Texas. The movie, like Grindhouse, was intentionally done in a camp style meant to imitate B-movies of days past. As a pure homage, it works in its own ways. As a film, it falls short.

Don't come to Machete expecting sincere acting, a well-planned storyline, or believable action. Come instead for the oddity that is seeing A-list actors (and some not A-list actors) doing hack jobs in D-list parts. The story itself is not bad, necessarily. Suspension of belief is necessary in heavy doses, but overall, the story is interesting in a sex and violence sort of way. But if the movie lacked its amazing cast, the novelty of B-list homage would quickly become little more than a gimmick. The story on its own just cannot carry the weight of this movie.

About that cast. Robert Rodriguez used several actors from previous movies. Cheech Marin, for instance, is a Rodriguez regular, as is Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez and James Fahey (for you L O S T fans, those last two are cop Ana Lucia and pilot Lapidus). But much more intriguing is the involvement of Robert De Niro, Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba, and, to a lesser extent, Don Johnson and Steven Segal.

Once could guess why Johnson and Segal would accept roles in this schlocky film. Both could probably use the career boost and/or the paycheck. Oddly (or interestingly) Segal turned down a role in the Expendables, so apparently he has some ability to turn down a script, but on the other hand, Rodriguez, as a director, has a bit more cred.

The real oddity is the involvement of De Niro, Lohan and Alba. Deniro plays a local politician with a poor Texas accent and an over-the-top anti-immigration demeanor. Frankly, he is miscast, and the entire time, he just seems out of place amongst the poor acting and slapdash plot. I am no longer the fan of De Niro I once was (movies like Analyze That will do that to you), and this goes into the category of films De Niro seems to be in for the paycheck. I will give the writers and casting some credit though. De Niro's Texas accent is piss-poor, to the extent that it can be a distraction, but late in the script, the character admits that he isn't even from Texas and is faking the accent. Nice save.

The story behind Lohan's involvement is somewhat obvious. She needed the money and a chance to be in an actual movie again, and this was her chance. Unfortunately for her, she has very few lines and certainly none worth actually "acting." In fact, she seemed to be crammed into the plot as a straight-up novelty. She isn't even in her best scene, that being when she and the actress playing her mother make out with Machete while topless in a pool. Yes, that looks like Lohan topless, but its a body double.

But what about Alba? To be fair, Alba seems to pick her movies by throwing a dart out the window and accepting a script from whoever the dart hits. For example, Little Fockers, Valentine's Day, The Love Guru, Good Luck Chuck, The Eye, and Into the Blue. I leave out Honey because she shows her midriff enough that it gets a pass. Frankly, that list explains it all. Alba does not know how to pick a movie, and this one is no exception.

To me, Alba's stock is hit the hardest by this movie. She plays an extremely one-dimensional role using one-dimensional acting. You could argue that this is part of the B-movie allure, but there is a way to pay homage without abandoning all logic. Nothing her character does makes sense, and Alba delivers her lines in a way that makes her character even less believable.

This movie is probably ideal for the 3.5" screen and 15-minutes-at-a-time viewing schedule permitted by my iPod and train trip to work. You can pick it up and enjoy the cheesiness of it all without worrying about things like plot or continuity. Even so, I still give this one a 4 out of 10 in general, and a 6 out of 10 for iPod viewing.

Until next time, keep 'em 3.5"!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

83rd Annual Oscar Nominations

Geez...this looks like a really tough field. And for once, I've seen a majority of the nominated best picture films.

Best Picture
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3?
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Best Direction
Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for True Grit
David Fincher for The Social Network
Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech
David O. Russell for The Fighter

Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem in Biutiful
Jeff Bridges in True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network
James Franco in 127 Hours
Colin Firth in The King’s Speech

Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman in Black Swan
Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine

Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale in The Fighter
John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner in The Town
Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush in The King’s Speech

Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams in The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo in The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit
Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom

Friday, January 21, 2011

Time-Delayed Oscars: 1992

Cross-posted at The_Goat_Speaks.

OK, enough with the intro. You know the drill by now. Let's look at a year and see what movies have lasted. I think you'll agree with me that 1992 was a monster year.


The brothers of Delta House, from left to right:
Flounder, Otter, and the Duck of Death

Here's a list of ALL the movies of 1992.

Aladdin - It's a Disney movies, and not many of those fade away into Bolivion, not when they're hooked into the biggest marketing-assimilation machine the world has ever seen. This one is notable for a song ("A Whole New World") that truly embodies the quality "puke-tastic", some standard-issue Disney racial stereotyping, top-drawer animation that still holds up, and a bunch of hack pop-culture references from Robin Williams that have really, really, not. Worse, those dumb insta-dated jokes have become the new standard for kid's movies. Shame on you, Aladdin. Shame on you.

Bad Lieutenant - Harvey Keitel became famous in the early 90s for frequently going middle-aged full frontal in defiance of both the tastes of the audience and the will of a loving God. This movie was sort of the beginning of that. It's also remembered by some as a searing portrait of faith and mercy amid moral squalor, so it's got that going for it. Keitel is great in this; Little Harvey, even the ladies agree, is pretty much entirely unnecessary.

Basic Instinct - Wow, was this a bad movie. But Sharon Stone shows her business for approximately 3 nanoseconds, so this was a major hit. I just mentioned genitals in back-to-back paragraphs.

The Crying Game - Make that three. 1992, the year of the genitals!

Batman Returns - I don't think that anybody remembers much of this beyond Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman, but she was totally iconic. In other news: Michael Keaton played Batman. Twice. Was Matthew Broderick unavailable? Can we get a Congressional investigation on this?

El Mariachi - I almost left this out, but Robert Rodriguez's debut keeps coming up mainly because he apparently made it for seven bucks and a bag of cold McDonald's cheeseburgers. Has anybody seen this?

A Few Good Men - Seems like it must be the most-quoted movie of the year, and also of the year before it and after it. An enduring classic that totally skims over what a reckless and almost criminally negligent lawyer Tom Cruise is (they annoyingly make Demi Moore's superior officer attorney ineffectual and borderline-stupid to try to cover up the fact that Caffey is a hack). Remember how he was in the shadow of his legend lawyer father, but then by the end, he'd surpassed the legend? Remember how Tom Cruise used to get this Top Gun subplot shoehorned into every single movie of his? Anyway, Jack Nicholson delivers one of his best performances in a long career of great performances and just steals this movie from everybody. Some people even forget that he's the bad guy. In fact, he's basically Dick Cheney, so I'd have to say a large part of the country forgot that he's the bad guy. After all, we want him on that wall. We NEED him on that wall. And we can't HANDLE the truth. Let's not forget that in movieland, that's the guy who gets carted off to jail. Ahem. Off my soapbox now.

Glengary Glen Ross - A sleeper in 1992, David Mamet's take on the soul-death of (five) salesman has grown into a true cult classic. If A Few Good Men isn't the most quoted movie of the year, then it's this one. In fact, thanks to Alec Baldwin in a career-defining walk on performance, this IS a more quoted movie than Men. A cast so talented that it's almost a joke (Alan Arkin in what seems like 8th billing; Jonathon Pryce in a bit role) headlines some of the most hard-boiled dialogue and darkly comic ever captured. "Who told you that you could work with men?"

The Last of the Mohicans - Say my wife and I are at the mall. Say we decide to go to different stores, and then meet up a half hour later. There is about a 90% chance that I will look at her with a barely contained and almost feral love, a love born of desperation, and breathe: "Stay alive. I will find you." So I remember this movie for that. I also seem to recall that the last 30 minutes of this were pretty amazing. Anyway, this movie happened before Daniel Day Lewis decided to typecast himself as a scary megalomaniac with a mustache who enjoys long walks on the beach, hording money, and murdering people. Not that I dislike that aspect.

A League of Their Own - "There's no crying in baseball!" will keep this movie alive forever, but it's a genuinely worthy sports movie, and much much funnier than the "very special episode" would lead you to believe. Also? This movie also gave us Rosie O'Donnell, and everybody is very grateful, I'm sure.

Malcolm X - Denzel Washington is out of control in this. It's a Spike Lee joint, which means that it is sometimes overly didactic and occasionally silly when it means to be earnest, but it is never boring. Still remains one of the most interesting and unconventional entries in the biopic category among major releases over the past couple decades.

My Cousin Vinny - This movie gets unfairly maligned, ironically because of its success -- namely, in winning a surprise Oscar for an at-the-time unknown television actress named Marisa Tomei. I think it's high time we reassessed Ms. Tomei's career in light of a couple decades of solid (sometimes Oscar-nominated) work. Also, it wouldn't hurt to stare at her for a while. A long while. Where was I? Oh yes, this was a very funny movie. Joe Pesci can be a little too broad in comedies, but in this one 'broad' was very much the point.

The Player - A stylish return to form from Robert Altman. Tim Robbins stars, and Hollywood plays itself. The self-conscious opening tracking shot aping the opening shot from Touch of Evil is itself now the stuff of legend.

Reservoir Dogs - Huh, what do you know? So this was a year that screened A Few Good Men and Glengarry Glen Ross, it yet it turns out that neither of them is the most quoted movie from that year. Along with Glengarry Glen Ross, this is movie that has gained the most ground since it came out, but Dogs has wedged itself much further into the collective subconscious. Quentin Tarantino's debut can now be seen in the context of his career so far, and Dogs is clearly not just a flash in the pan or an intriguing start from a promising young director; it's an opening salvo from the world's most prominent cinematic remix artist. With its crooked time-line, hilarious pop culture dialogue, and trend-setting retro score, the QT template was fully in place. But the true value of Tarantino -- the fact that all the flash and style is in service of something -- is also there already, as an inverted moral code masticates our notions of the role of protagonist (cold-blooded killer Mr. White) and antagonist (principled undercover cop Mr. Orange).

A River Runs Through It - And thus begins the merciless reign of King Brad Pitt. You know how in medieval times, the king could sleep with your wife on your wedding night? King Brad Pitt is like that, except in this case, your wife doesn't mind. This is not progress. This movie is boring but pretty. The cult of Brad keeps it somewhat alive.

Scent of a Woman - HOO HA! This movie (from the director of Meet Joe Black and Gigli) was awful. Al Pacino sort of saved it and now sometimes people think it isn't awful, but you have to trust me on this. It so thoroughly is. Chris O'Donnell is Bland. I don't mean that blandness is a quality of his. I mean that Chris O'Donnel is Bland. Kind of like how God is Love. The ending, while rousing in a HOO HA! sort of way, makes no sense at all. The central conflict is sort of dumb. The protagonist (Charlie) is unlikeable. Are you getting a sense of how I feel about this film?

Single White Female - This pot-boiler has been completely forgotten, I think, except that the term 'single white female' still is used to mean 'creepy friend who emulates you too much' or just 'crazy roommate.' So there's that.

Unforgiven - One of the all-time great Westerns; in a way sort of the Last True Western. Almost certainly if one were to ask for the best movie Clint Eastwood ever directed, this would be the consensus pick. It won Best Picture in 1992. It's hard to believe that something could unseat it.

"Kid, what did I tell you about interrupting me during my squintin' time?"
And The Time-Delayed Oscar Goes To . . .

Best Picture

Real Nominee List: The Crying Game, A Few Good Men, Howard's End, Scent of a Woman, Unforgiven

Today's List: A Few Good Men, Glengarry Glen Ross, Malcolm X, Reservoir Dogs, Unforgiven.

I'll be honest: I think Unforgiven still takes it down, but it's pretty close. A Few Good Men is still warmly remembered -- in fact, Jack Nicholson might filch Best Supporting Actor from Unforgiven's Gene Hackman in a do-over -- and more timely now than it was when it debuted. (What are we willing to become to feel safe from our enemies?) Reservoir Dogs and Glengarry are also contenders. But Unforgiven is undeniably great. It's the year's Big Damn Movie, and it earns every bit of its praise. Still, I'm very interested in how this vote will shake out.

My Pick: Unforgiven (but Reservoir Dogs is very close)


Best Actor

This could get dicey. I have already been clear (crystal) about how I feel about Scent of a Woman. On the other hand, it can't be denied that Al Pacino, who took his only golden boy for this film, is magnetic. He's the only reason to watch this movie, and it's a pretty good reason. Also, if he hadn't won for this, there isn't much else after for which he could have won. The guy really should have an Oscar, so I'm fine with him winning his award for polishing a turd.

Nevertheless . . . let's consider our premise here. This is the Oscars if Hollywood were able to do it from a more sober remove of 10 years. If that were the case, my friends, I submit to you that the man who was Michael Corleone (twice) and Tony Montana and Serpico and Daniel Day Afternoon and many others would already have won an Oscar. I mean, really, 10 years after the fact, is 1974's sentimental favorite Art Carney playing an old guy who loves his cat still beating the star of The Godfather II ?

I don't think they Academy would need to honor Pacino here. I think Al would already have his hardware. And it can't be denied that after Scent, Pacino has been stuck in HOO-HA mode, maybe forever. With each passing year, his performance looks less and less like a revelation and more and more like the hammy sign of things to come.

What I'm saying is, I think the award goes where it should have all along: Denzel Washington in Malcolm X. He was ferocious, amazing, it was his best performance. It was the performance of the year. It was one of the performances of the decade. Hook the brother up.

Best Actress

Emma Thompson won for Howard's End. Now, Emma Thompson is a fine actress, and I'm sure she was quite good in this, but do you know what I never hear anybody talk about at all, ever? Howard's End. Would you watch this on purpose?

It was a hard year out there for actresses in leading roles, though. I am scanning for something that would be a surefire win. Thompson may take it by default, but I think that Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns might have a shot. You know what? I think it goes to Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny. Hear me, now: It was a lead role, not supporting. She was really, really good in it. And it's finally starting to sink in that she's a fantastic actress. Tomei is my pick.

What was the best movie of 1992? Your country needs you to vote!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Time-Delayed Oscars: 1991

Cross-posted at The_Goat_Speaks.

I’m enjoying taking a trip through years past; right now it seems likely that I’ll move back to 1980 – 1989 after I’m through with 1990 –2000 retrospectives.

After reading through the comments, I think a few points of clarification are in order.  First, if I list a movie as a “survivor”, it doesn’t mean that I think it is good or bad; it just means that I think that the movie has been collectively remembered.  Thus, I’m leaving out movies that I remember very well indeed, but which I think have been largely forgotten.  The question I ask myself is:  Is it likely that anybody at all is watching this right now?  If the answer is “probably not, or, if so, it’s a pretty huge coincidence” – then I leave it off.  The result is that I’m probably ignoring your favorite movie.  I’m sorry.  I’m leaving out some of mine, too.  Perhaps we need a Precious Forgotten Snowflake category to this.  In fact, I think that The Grifters, which I did mention for 1990, probably belongs to that category.

Secondly, when I talk about whether or not a movie would win an Oscar today, I do not mean “what movie do I personally think is best?”  I mean “what movie would the actual Academy of Motion Pictures vote for if they had a chance to vote now, with the benefit of hindsight?”

To be fair, I think I will list my choice for best picture as well.  That way you can accurately berate me, if you want.

Thirdly, I was right.  The poll shows Goodfellas in a landslide.

Also, Real Dawn Summers voted for Ghost in 1990, yo.  For Best Picture. Ghost.  Without shame.  Best Picture.  Ghost.

Can somebody get her some help?

"Hello, my name is Hannibal, and I'll be giving you nightmares tonight.  Is
this your first time entering into a symbiotic psychodrama with us?"

OK then.  As Prof. Flava Flav, PhD (University of Funkacology) once said “Let’s do this like Brutus, cuz we knew this.”


And here’s the contenders.

Barton Fink – I’m probably going to list 90% of the movies that the Coens have made.  As time goes on, and they become more and more prolific, it’s pretty clear that there are two of the major film-makers of our time, and thus their pictures will keep getting revisited.  I haven’t seen Barton Fink since it was new on video in 1992, when I most certainly didn’t get it.  I have a feeling that 36-year old me would have a different take than 17 year old me.  Also, the “We’re going to see an R-rated movie!  Barton Fink! Barton Fink!  Barton Fink!” joke in The Simpsons remains one of my favorite random-ass pop-culture jokes that show has ever produced.

Beauty and the Beast – Still probably the Disney gold standard.  If you like princess movies, and don’t mind ignoring the somewhat squicky bestiality overtones and the fact that the Beast is really a total dick . . . the songs are good.  Anyway, my daughters all love this movie, and they love Snow White, which is 70 freaking years old, so I am guessing that Beauty and the Beast will last for a long, long time.

Boyz n the Hood  -- Cuba Gooding Jr. before the Oscar and the talking dog movies, and the shame.  Ice Cube in jeri-curls.  Larry Fishburne.  Not Laurence.  Larry.  Are you kidding?  Don't know if this movie holds up (I seem to remember a really head-poundingly obvious STOP sign being used, like, totally symbolically).  At the time, there was nothing else like it. 

Cape Fear – I think this one is primarily remembered for inflicting Juliette Lewis on the world.  Also tattooed Di Niro laughing menacingly and smoking a cigar in a movie theater.  Also reminds me of Sideshow Bob stepping on the rakes.  This will be the last Simpsons reference, I promise.

Defending Your Life – Underrated Albert Brooks/Meryl Streep comedy that has achieved minor cult status.   Enough people have brought this one up to me that I know it lives on.

The Doors – Actually, I don’t know how well this is remembered, if at all.  I think it brought back the music of The Doors for another generation, though.  Don’t know how your feel about that.

Father of the Bride  -- This movie actually hasn’t survived, but it is notable for being the moment when Steve Martin gave up on being funny, and Hollywood began their long slow slide into the Remake Crevice. 

The Fisher King – I love this movie.  Jeff Bridges is fantastic in this, the first role I saw him in.  Tom Waits as a societal traffic light.  The thin line between sane and  . . . less sane.  Robin Williams singing “Lydia the Tattooed lady.”  Michael Jeter belting out Ethel Mirman to Amanda Plumber.  And, especially, the Grand Central Station dance.  One of Terry Gilliam’s best.

Fried Green Tomatoes -  This is the movie that let us know that it’s all right to kill a man and serve him to your customers as BBQ if he was really really mean.  Also, Chris O’Donnell gets hit by a freight train.  Who doesn’t want that?  (Spoilers!)

Hudson Hawk – Sometimes utter failure can keep a movie alive in our hearts.  Bruce Willis stars in one of the biggest flops of all time.  Go back and check it out and tell me it isn’t pure midnight movie fun.   Come on, all together . . . would you like to swing on a star . . .

JFK – Back, and to the right . . . back, and to the right . . . back, and to the right . . . Remember when Kevin Costner and Oliver Stone were relevant?  This movie’s accuracy has been questioned, and it presents a discredited crackpot unambiguously as a crusading hero for The Justice; nevertheless, it is an electric political/courtroom historical drama, and probably the focal point for modern conspiracy theory.  Still a classic.

Point Break – This movie is a great hunk of Velveeta cheez.  It has The Busey.  It has The Swayze.  It has The Keanu.  It is completely ridiculous.  I.  Am An F!  BI.  AGENT!!

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – Easily the funniest movie of 1991.  Kevin Costner is hilarious as a mullet-headed Midwestern farm boy who is under the delusion that he is British, while Morgan Freeman tags along as his long-suffering psychiatrist.  Also notable for that horrid Brian Adams song.

The Silence of the Lambs – One of the most well-respected thrillers of the past decades.  Sort of kicked off the serial killer movie in earnest, especially the one in which the brilliant young agent has to get inside the killer’s head.  We’ll forgive it for that, though, because it was a very, very good movie.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day – I could be wrong, but I think this began James Cameron’s long string of getting in way over his head, spending way way too much on a movie that could never recoup the money, risk his entire career due to his obvious megalomania . . . and then deliver a mega-blockbuster that makes all the money back with a couple billion profit on top.  He’s the king of the world, and T2 is still one of the great enduring action movies.

Thelma & Louise – Plenty is memorable about this chick flick meets fugitive movie, AKA: Bonnie & Bonnie. Indelible performances from Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon.  Brad Pitt’s first major role.  Iconic ending.  It sort of got shoved into the ‘message’ movie ghetto, but these days I think it’s remembered for what made it memorable: hardcore dwarf sex scenes.  Wait, no.  Strong performances and cinematography.  Heh, um . . . forget I said that other thing.


"A quarterback tried to make a 'pass' at me.  I ate his throwing arm with
favre beans.  You see what I did there?"
And The Time-Delayed Oscars Goes To . . .

Best Picture

Real Nominee List: Beauty and the Beast, Bugsy, JFK, The Prince of Tides, The Silence of the Lambs

Today’s List:  Beauty and the Beast, JFK, The Silence of the Lambs, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Thelma & Louise

This is awkward, but we’re entering into a stretch of movies where I think the Academy probably got it right – that is to say, they would probably make the same choice if given the chance again.  Silence of the Lambs won in 1991, and it would win a re-vote.    It seems obvious that Silence would win in the lineup above; but when you consider that all but forgotten movies Bugsy and The Prince of Tides were considered genuine contenders at the time.  (I think that The Prince of Tides got destroyed by the Simpsons episode where . . . never mind).  So, good for them for picking the all-time classic over the flash-in-the-pan Oscar bait.

My Pick:  The Fisher King

Best Actor:  Kevin Costner was so brilliantly hilarious in Robin Hood, but let’s face it, the Oscars are biased against comedic performances, so we might consider him.  We’re still not ready to deal with Keanu Reeves’ line readings in Point Break.  And honestly, Anthony Hopkins really was a supporting actor in Silence if you go by screen time.  The movie’s character arc actually belongs to Jodie Foster.  Not that any of this matters:  Hopkins dominates his movie; he’s simply playing one of the most iconic film characters of all time.  He won then; he wins now.  Wow, this is getting boring.  Why couldn’t they have given the award to Nick Nolte so I could say, “Can you believe Hopkins didn’t win this year?”


Best Actress:  Jodie Foster won for Silence.  She was excellent in this; in many ways she gave the more important performance.  Her Clarice Starling held the movie together.  But she never did that ff ff ff ff lip thing after saying she ate a census worker's liver with fava beans and a nice Chianti, so not as many people remember that it's actually her movie.  Nevertheless, she's still not all that vulnerable to reassessment. Her only competition came from Thelma and Louise themselves, but Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon are believed to have split one another’s votes.  In the past 20 years, I don’t think there has been a consensus that one was superior to the other.  I think these days Linda Hamilton might get some love for T2, but the award is probably still Foster’s to lose. 

This was a long way to walk for no sugar.  Stupid unchanging 1991.

What was the best movie of 1991?  Vote or die!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Old Doctor Who

Guest poster VinNay here. Ms. Summers requested a list of old Doctor Who episodes to watch, so here it is. This list assumes you have watched all of the new series (9th-11th Doctors). If not, go watch them already, and come back in a few weeks.

1st Doctor

The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve (4 episodes) -
Location: Paris, France. 1572.
Plot: Tensions between Protestants and Catholics.
Companions: Steven Taylor and Dodo Chaplet (her first appearance).
Historical Figures: King Charles IX of France, and Catherine de' Medici
Notes: This is only available as audio, and it is one of three Dr Who serials where all video has been lost. If you find a copy, BBC will pay you handsomely, and private collectors will pay you even more handsomely.

2nd Doctor

The Mind Robber (5 episodes)
Location: The Void, a realm outside of space and time.
Plot: Fantasy land weirdness.
Companions: Jamie McCrimmin and Zoe Heriot
Notes: The character called the Master in this episode in NOT the same character as the renegade Time Lord of the same name.

3rd Doctor

Inferno (7 episodes) -
Location: Earth. 1970. Parallel Earth. 1970
Plot: In a parallel universe, Great Britain is under a fascist regime.
Companions: Liz Shaw. The Brigadier General (U.N.I.T.)
Notes: Last appearance of the original TARDIS console.

The Time Warrior (4 episodes)
Location: Earth, 1974. Earth, Middle Ages.
Plot: Bandits in the Middle Ages find a crashed Spaceship.
Companions: The Brigadier General, Sarah Jane Smith
Notes: First appearance of both Sarah Jane Smith and the Sontarans. First mention of Gallifrey.

4th Doctor

The Ark in Space (4 episodes) -
Location: Space Station Orbiting Earth. ~35th Century.
Plot: Suspended Animation. Insect creatures. Cataclysm on Earth.
Companions: Sarah Jane Smith. Harry Sullivan.
Notes: Connects to 11th Doctor episode The Beast Below.

Genesis of the Daleks (6 episodes) -
Location: Gallifrey, Skaro (Dalek homeworld)
Plot: Beginning of the Time War. Time Lords send the Doctor to stop the Daleks from ever existing.
Companions: Sarah Jane Smith. Harry Sullivan.
Notes: Meet Davros.

The Hand of Fear (4 episodes)
Location: Earth, 1976, Earth, 150 million years ago.
Plot: Sarah Jane finds a fossilized hand that is 150 million years old.
Companions: Sarah Jane Smith
Notes: Last appearance of Sarah Jane as 4th doctors companion, sort of.

The Deadly Assasin (4 episodes) -
Location: Gallifrey.
Plot: President of the High Council is assassinated. The Doctor is the prime suspect.
Companions: None.
Notes: Set between Sarah Jane's departure and Leela joining the next story. The only story of the classic series to feature the Doctor without a companion.

The Robots of Death (4 episodes) -
Location: Remote Desert on a distant planet.
Plot: Crew of Miners start getting murdered.
Companions: Leela
Notes: Referenced by the 2007 Christmas special Voyage of the Damned.

The Talons of Weng-Chiang (6 episodes) -
Location: London, 1890's.
Plot: A fiendish plot involving Chinese tongs, disappearing women, an Oriental stage magician, a murderous ventriloquist's dummy and giant rats in the sewers.
Companions: Leela
Notes: Great episode, but beware of racial stereotyping.

Season 16 aka The Key To Time (26 episodes) -
Locations: Varies
Plot: The Doctor must recover the pieces of the Key to Time.
Companions: Romana I, K-9 Mk-2
Notes: Just watch the whole season.

City of Death (4 episodes) -
Location: Paris, France. 1979.
Plot: Mona Lisa is Stolen.
Companions: Romana II
Notes: Romana is the Doctors snarky Time Lord Companion. Some people think River Song might be a regenerated Romana. I'm not one of those people. Written by Douglas Adams.

5th Doctor

Earthshock (4 episodes)
Location: Earth. Some time in the future.
Plot: An investigation into the murder of a team of scientists in a complex of caves. Deadly androids are patrolling the tunnels, but what are they protecting... and for whom are they working?
Companions: Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan.
Notes: Last story to feature Adric.

The Caves of Androzani (4 episodes)
Location : Androzani Minor.
Plot: The Doctor gets caught in the politics and dangers of mining spectrox, the most valuable substance in the universe.
Companions: Peri Brown
Notes: Best regeneration in Doctor Who history. Also, this satisfies my including the 6th Doctor. There will be no further mention of the 6th Doctor.

7th Doctor

Ghostlight (3 episodes) -
Location: London. 1883.
Plot: Doctor takes Ace back in time to visit an evil house.
Companions: Ace
Notes: First story in the "Ace Trilogy" exploring Ace's troubled past.

The Curse of Fenric (4 episodes) -
Location: Earth. WWII
Plot: The Axis are the least of Earths problems.
Companions: Ace
Notes: Lots of people hate Ace, but she was the proto-Rose. Second story in the "Ace Trilogy."

8th Doctor

The Doctor Who TV Movie, also known as The Enemy Within (1 episode) -
Location: Skaro, TARDIS, San Fran 1999,
Plot: Daleks convict The Master of evil deeds and his remains are given to The Doctor.
Companions: Grace Holloway
Notes: 1996 film attempt to revive the Doctor Who series. The only televised appearance of the 8th Doctor. The most steampunky version of the TARDIS to date.

Other

The Three Doctors (4 episodes) -
Location: Gallifrey, Anti-Matter Universe
Plot: The Doctors (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) must stop Omega from destroying the Universe.
Companions: Jo Grant
Notes: This movie gives some history to the Time Lords and how they became what they are. Some people think River Song is Omega. I am not one of those people.

The Five Doctors (movie)
Location: Gallifrey
Plot: Someone is plucking all the incarnations of the Doctor (1-5) out of time and placing them in the Death Zone on Gallifrey, where they will meet old friends and enemies and play out the deadly Game of Rassilon, for the ultimate prize.
Companions: Tegan, Vislor, Sarah Jane, Susan, Brigadier, Romana.
Notes: I'm kinda meh on this movie, but others seem to like it.

Other Other

Some other episodes that may be of interest -

The Tenth Planet - 1st Doctor - 1st appearance of The Cybermen.
The Daleks - 1st Doctor - 1st appearance of The Daleks.
Spearhead From Space - 3rd doctor - 1st appearance of Autons
Doctor Who and the Silurians - 3rd doctor -1st appearance of the Silurians.
The Mark of the Rani - 6th doctor - 1st appearance of The Rani. Some people think River Song is The Rani. I am not one of them.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Time-Delayed Oscars: 1990

Cross-posted at The_Goat_Speaks.

I read somewhere that somebody read somewhere that Matt Damon said somewhere that the Oscars should be on a 10-year time delay. You can fact-check me if you like. If it turns out that I was wrong and he said 5 years, or that it was actually Matt Dillon or something, shut up. It doesn't really affect what I'm going to do. It's just a lead-in. Gawd, you can be so nitpicky sometimes, you know?

Anyway, the point (in my mind) is that it takes a while for movies to be processed through critical consensus and the cultural hive mind to enter into some form of canon, and that the Oscars, which take place while some of these films are still being shown, is simply not a very accurate gauge of which of these movies is going to make it.

Let me give you an example. A Beautiful Mind won Best Picture in 2001. Now, many of you may be like me. You saw it. You thought it was pretty OK. You really haven't thought of it since.

Perhaps I am wrong on this. You may even think it was great, a keeper, an all-time classic. Me, I doubt it. I don't think it has the legs. I think it, like How Green Was My Valley in 1941, will only be remembered for having won the big gold boy and not much else.

How many of you have sat down with a bowl of popcorn and How Green Was My Valley lately?

You know what came out in 1941?

The Maltese Falcon with Humphry Bogart.

The great Preston Sturges comedy Sullivan's Travels.

A little movie called Citizen Kane.

What do you think would win the Oscar if they were giving it out today?

So anyway, this got me thinking, which I do sometimes. What movies of today will survive? Which ones are going to be remembered in ten years, twenty years, even fifty years? What if we were to put on our hindsight glasses and check out which of yesterday's films have lasted? Instead of going back 10 years per The Bourne Suggestion, I've decided to roll it back 20 years for a very good reason. 1) I want to do a few of these; 2) I doubt I want to do more than 10, so 1990 - 2000 is just fine. After that, I can either quit, or do 2000 - 2010 year-by-year if I feel like it, or just do 1980 - 1989. Nothing can stop me.

These are the movies that I personally think have lasted. Note I'm not saying they're all GOOD. But for one reason or another, they've lasted, and will probably continue to last in the collective memory.

Here we go.

When Henry Hill laughs, he doesn't mess around.
He just hoves open his laugh hole.
Click for All The Movies of 1990

The Survivors (According to Goat)

Dances With Wolves -- Certainly not the best movie of the year, but better than people remember, mainly for the buffalo hunt scene, an unvarnished (to my eye) look at Lakota culture, and because it was exactly the sort of role Costner should play. Still ponderously long.

Darkman -- This isn't as well-remembered, but many critcs have rediscovered and re-appreciated this minor cult movie. It's notable for featuring a pre-Spider Man Sam Rami as director and a pre-stardom Liam Neeson in the title role. Also for being totally nutso.

Edward Scissorhands -- This is generally remembered as one of the best -- if not THE best -- of Tim Burton's flicks, and the first early indications of how weird and wonderful Johnny Depp was willing to be.

Ghost -- Really this is only here for that Unchained Melodies clay pottery cheeseball love scene, which reached some kind of iconic status. 40% of Demi Moore didn't even exist when the scene was shot. This was actually nominated for Best Picture.

The Godfather III -- This isn't fondly remembered, and therefore it's a little bit underrated. Only a bit. It will be remembered because it is riding the coat-tails of its more sucessful cousins.

Goodfellas -- I don't think I have to say more, do I? OK, I will. But later on.

The Grifters -- I'm not sure this con-artist story is remembered, actually. I almost didn't mention it. But its really good, so I think it will keep coming up from time to time. It was one of the last relevant Anjelica Houston performances and one of the first for Annette Benning. John Cusack nearly gets killed by getting gut-punched, if you like that sort of thing.

Henry & June -- The first NC-17 movie. That is all.

Home Alone -- Macauley Culkin will never escape this. Neither will we.

The Hunt For Red October -- This one certainly won't still be on the list in another 10 years. Maybe it shouldn't be now. However, it was the first big Alec Baldwin role, and Sean Connery made no attempt at an accent in his role as a Russian, because he is Sean Connery, and you can go to hell.

Jacob's Ladder -- A mind-bender movie before its time. Tim Robbins is excellent in this. We should be glad it was shot before M. Night Shyamalan was out there.

Joe Versus the Volcano -- I'm pretty sure this flop has reached cult status by now. It's easily the most re-watchable Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie.

King of New York -- Is this just me? My introduction to Christopher Walken and Laurence Fishburne. Still among my favorite performances from both.

Miller's Crossing -- As long as the Coens keep knocking them out of the park, most of their movies will remain relevant. This gangland movie is one of their very best, though. Almost the best movie of 1990 in my opinion. And yet somehow, it remains only the second-best gangster movie of the year. More soon.

Misery -- Nobody's forgetting Kathy Bates in this anytime soon.

Postcards From The Edge -- Almost didn't include this, but I've been seeing lots of Meryl Streep love for her performance here lately.

Pretty Woman -- This (awful) movie will be one of a handful of movies from 1990 that will probably still be remembered in fifty years.

Quick Change -- Bombed in 1990. Today, remembered as one of Bill Murray's best.

Reversal of Fortune -- Jeremy Irons won Best Actor for this, and that's pretty much all that's notable. I don't think it will make this list if we revisit in 2020.

Tremors -- Might just be me. One of the most fun movies of that year. I think the people who remember this one love it. It'll live on as a classic B-movie.

Total Recall -- It had a lady with three boobs in it. Not a single man aged 30 - 50 has forgotten this. I promise you.


The Time-Delayed Oscar Goes To. . .

What do you mean I'm shot through the head?
Shot through the head how?  In what way? 
You mean I'm bleeding?  I'm some kind a corpse? 
In what way am I dead?  I'm dead to you how, exactly?
Best Picture

Real Nominee List: Awakenings, Dances With Wolves, Ghost, The Godfather III, Goodfellas.

Today's List: Edward Scissorhands, Goodfellas, Miller's Crossing, Misery, Pretty Woman

We're starting with an easy one here. Best Picture was awarded to Dances With Wolves, a well-made Kevin Costner white-man-among-the-Lakota period epic. I've noticed a lot of derision thrown Dances' way, partly, I think, because Kevin Costner hasn't done much of note in a decade, but mostly because it won the Oscar instead of the movie that pretty much everybody agrees was the superior film: Martin Scorcese's gangster amazement Goodfellas.

I'm putting up the poll on the FilmChaw blog, but I'm pretty sure I'm right on this. Most people remember Goodfellas as one of the greats. There's little doubt in my mind that it would have taken top prize for Best Picture and a director statue for Scorcese.


Best Actor

Jeremy Irons won in 1990. Honestly, I thnk it is a crapshoot who would take it if there were a do-over today. Irons is a fine actor who was probably very good in what is basically a forgotten movie. De Niro in Goodfellas was mainly supporting, as was Joe Pesci (he won for supporting and obviously still would). I don't know if there's enough love for Ray Liota's lead performance to win. Other possibilities include Christopher Walken for King of New York, Johnny Depp for Edward Scissorhands, and Gabriel Byrne for carrying Miller's Crossing. Alec Baldwin in Miami Blues and Michael Rooker in Henry: A Portrait of a Serial Killer gave performances that are still sometimes talked about, even if their movies really aren't given much love. Walken's probably my pick, but that's just a personal preference. I think it was a weak year for the category, so a consensus hasn't built up.

Best Actress

Kathy Bates won in 1990. I think it's reasonable to assume she'd still win in an iconic role.


What do you think?  Vote!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

New Year, same old insane movie consumption rate:


The Girl Who Played with Fire
This movie was crap. Which is too bad because I loved the book. I’m glad they are remaking these movies because these Swedish versions are terrible. The girl who plays Lisbeth is all wrong. And the actor who plays Mickey is too old and flabby. There is a graphic lesbian sex scene in this one for those who are interested in that sort of thing. ("There is nothing gay about lesbians." - VinNay)

Hollywood Shuffle

I liked the message of this movie (i.e. that black actors should reject stereotypical roles in Hollywood films) but the fact that it employs those very stereotypical prototypes to make the point AND that most of the actors in it have gone on to be some of the most egregious offenders… well, I raise my eyebrow.

Special

This movie is weird. Gracie recommended it. It stars one of those actors you recognize but can’t name, as a guy who signs up for a drug trial and starts to experience supernatural powers. He’s dropped from the drug trial and then finds himself on the run from "The Man" who wants to make sure he never tells his story. That… or he’s a delusional nutcase.

Carolina
This is a campy feel good eighties type movie. Sassy straight shooting grandma is raising her ne'er do well son’s three daughters. But she’s tough and controlling and then one of the daughters wants to break free or something. And there’s a love story involved.

Across the Universe
This movie is not at all what I thought it was gonna be. I thought it was the story of how the Beatles were formed. It’s not. It’s about hippies in 1960s New York. And there’s singing and weird psychedelic special effects. I liked it though. But the last scene kept skipping on my DVD player, so I can’t tell you how it ends. But it’s one of those movies where you get the feeling that even if you saw the last scene it wouldn’t really make a difference. You know, like in The Usual Suspects.

The Good Guy
Oy. I don’t know what it is about the former stars of the WB, in this case Rory from Gilmore Girls, that causes them to star in these horrible horrible romantic comedies. This piece of crap is neither romantic nor comedic and the whole time you’re watching it, you wonder how Alexis Bledel sleeps at night knowing that she has subjected her fans to this.

You Don't Know Jack
I thought I was pro euthanasia and so I thought this biopic of Dr. Kevorkian’s life would be interesting. Turns out…wrong on both counts. Al Pacino is so dreary (and yes, I know this dude is Dr. Death, but still. Kevorkian was hilarious on that Michael Moore TV show!) The story is poorly plotted AND ultimately turned me against his cause. Epic fail.

Shrek Forever After

I LOVED THIS MOVIE! I also loved the first Shrek, but hated the second Shrek and then wanted to murder people after the third Shrek, so I almost skipped the fourth Shrek altogether…but I’m so glad I didn’t! It was terrific and empowering, but sweet and hilarious! The villain is great, Fiona’s great, even donkey isn’t as annoying as usual! Definite rent! DEFINITE!

Youngblood
Drizz is officially no longer allowed to recommend movies to me. Or Hollywood is officially no longer allowed to make movies about hockey. I’m not sure which. Blech. Rob Lowe is young and cute though. But the story is so predictable and all the actors are horrible. Blech. Did I say blech? Cause blech. Oh…um it’s about a country kid who gets a shot to make it in the hockey big leagues, but he falls for the coach’s daughter instead. And then he quits, but then he realizes he’s not a quitter and goes back. Or something. BLECH.

I'm Gonna Git You Sucka

O_O I guess this movie was funny in parts, but it’s a satire of black buffoonery that just isn’t satiric enough, so it’s pretty much just black buffoonery. And as Townsend points out in Hollywood Shuffle, there are jobs at the post office. Well, actually, I don’t know. We’re still in a recession… are there jobs at the post office?

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep
I thought this movie was FANTASTIC! It’s about a little boy who finds a water horse and tries to raise it in his bathtub. He’s a sad little boy because his father has gone to war and his mom is running a boarding house for soldiers. Turns out his father was killed, but his mom keeps lying to him about it, but he figures it out sorta. It’s cute. Triumphant!

Princess Kaiulani (2009)

This movie is AWFUL! DRECK! I rented it cause the previews make it look like Mulan – with the defiant Asian princess girl all fighting for her country, but THEN it turns out she’s fighting MY country! What?! But not even really fighting. And the accents are terrible and there are no good looking people anywhere. And then she dies of a broken heart and Bill Clinton apologizes to the people of Hawaii for what we did to them in the 19th century. Whoops. Did I just ruin it for everybody? YOU’RE WELCOME.

Midnight Run (1988)
BLECH. This movie sucked. I fell asleep four times. I hated everybody in this movie. EVERYBODY. None of it made sense and…ugh…I can’t remember who told me to rent it, but I want to fight them. It's about a bounty hunter who has a week to transport a criminal from New York to California to get a 100K payday. But the feds are chasing him, and a drug lord and competing bounty hunters. Dumb dumb dumb.

Tetro (2009)
This is one of those Vincent Gallo arty black and white movies. I didn’t like it, but Vincent Gallo also reminds me of people I generally hate, so that may have colored my view of it. It’s kind of a weird film and you guess the “shocking surprise” ending about 15 minutes in, and then you spend the next 2 hours of the movie rolling your eyes. No bueno.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)
VOMITOUS. UGH. Would prefer oral surgery. It’s terrible. Run RUN AWAY. It has a promising opening 15 minutes and then it’s an avalanche of diarrhea down a mountain AND IT’S LIKE THREE HOURS LONG! RUN.

The Town [Blu-ray] (2010)
This movie got such great reviews I was excited to watch it. Even though I am no Ben Affleck fan. It was wretched. Okay, maybe not Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps bad, but bad enough. There are some exciting chase scenes, but the conclusion doesn’t make any sense. The plot doesn’t really make any sense. You never for one second believe anything any of the characters say or do. BLAH. And there are no zombie nuns, so double blah. #RUDE #MISLEADING


Salt [Unrated] [Blu-ray] [Deluxe Edition] (2010)
No lie, I loved this movie! Angelina KICKS SO MUCH ASS! See, unlike The Town, this movie is well written and acted, so as implausible as the plot may be, you believe it because the actors are great and it’s action packed and you are willing to suspend reason because you are having such a good time. And the movie doesn’t promise zombie nuns only to give you Ben Affleck doing an annoying Boston accent. #Stillbitter

The Winning Season (2009)
Feel good tale of a hapless girls basketball team and their alcoholic coach who persevere and end up having…wait for it… a winning season. Meh.

12 Men of Christmas (2009)

AWFUL AWFUL AWFUL. Please note: I LOVE KRISTIN CHENOWETH. LOVE. I watched that weird Pushing Daisies show because of her. I gave Glee a third chance because she was guest starring a lot. Saw her on Broadway, listen to her songs everyday on my Droid X. And yet. Every second she was on screen in this movie I wanted to shove something sharp into my face. Oh, it’s the romantic comedy of a big city girl moving to Montana. And there she finds the love of a mountain man. Something sharp. Real real sharp.

Shrek Forever After (2010)

Yeah, I rented this movie twice. And watched it like six times. Get it.

Disney's A Christmas Carol (2009)
Blech. This movie is like animated, but not. Like that Polar Express movie. It’s not very good. I recommend you just reread the book. Or watch the Dr. Who episode with Dickens.

The Other Guys [Blu-ray] (2010)
WRETCHED. I swear, if I ever meet Marky Mark, I’m punching him in the face for this. Again, a promising first 20 minutes followed by sheer utter complete nonsense. I don’t even remember how this ends, or I would tell you and ruin it for you so you don’t make the mistake of renting it. They don’t die though, cause I feel that might’ve made me warm up to this movie a bit.

Despicable Me (2010)
THIS MOVIE WAS GRRREEEAAATTTT!! Oh my gosh! The kids are ADORABLE, Steve Carrell is PERFECT! The story is hilarious, but warm. Perfect PERFECT PERFECT! Even though the plot device makes little to no sense. But oh my gosh it’s so cute, you die.

Flipped (2010)


This is one of those coming of age tales that Macauley Culkin and Anna Chumsky would have starred in if this were 1991. I dunno, it’s about a 8 year old girl who decides she loves her 8 year old boy next door neighbor, but he thinks she’s weird and runs away, but then when they’re 16, he realizes she is the only one for him. Yawn.

Amor, Dolor y Vica Versa (2008)
This movie is creepy and weird. But ultimately, I think good. I think. It’s weird and hard to explain. There are many dream sequences and the lines between reality and those dreams are blurred. I told you. Weird.

Elf [WS] (2003)
I think I was probably the last person on earth not to have seen this movie. It was great though! Very funny and sweet and YAY Christmas is saved. Whoops…eh, I didn’t ruin anything, everyone else has already seen it. Oh, who wants to see a picture?


You’re welcome.

Inception [Blu-ray] (2010)

This was the first movie I saw on my new 100 inch home entertainment center. Needless to say, it scared the crap out of me and I was afraid to be alone in my living room for two weeks. This movie is totally like Shutter Island, but hey, I loved Shutter Island, so more power to Leo.

Going the Distance (2010)
So, you totally think this movie is gonna suck, but then… IT TOTALLY DOESN’T! Hooray! Drew Barrymore and Justin Long have real chemistry. Their relationship makes sense, it’s almost as good as that Boston Red Sox maniacal fan movie! Loved it. And the ending is perfectly unexpected.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010)
I had given up on Nicolas Cage, but he comes back strong in this one! He co-stars with the guy from She’s out of my league, a movie I hated by the way, and it’s fun and magical, though the love story makes no sense for all the reasons the love story in She’s out of my league made no sense… that dude is patently unattractive.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)
I dunno why I keep renting these movies. I find all the characters excruciatingly boring. This installment is no exception. Oh, but now she loves the werewolf boy too. So, there’s that. Some of the fight scenes were cool.

Eat Pray Love [Theatrical Version/Extended Cut] (2010)
This movie is pretty much as bad as you’d expect. Rich lady divorces her husband to have sex with a Spaniard in India. Or something, I dunno. It was boring, but the food looked good.

The Expendables (2010)
LOL. This movie is exactly as advertised. Things blow up. Girls are kissed hard on the mouth and things blow up.

The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009)
DUDE! This movie is FANTASTIC. It’s a mystery suspense thriller with crazy twists. I was surprised at least twice! EXCELLENTLY acted and written and directed. Brava.


The White Ribbon (2009)
This is another arty black and white movie. I dunno. It’s about mysterious tragedies that happens in a small town shortly before World War I breaks out. I KNOW there was some message about the human existence that I was supposed to get…but…er… Also, it was in German.