Friday, May 22, 2009

Todd Phillips Has a Thing For Wang

I guess that it is fitting that I had a headache throughout the entirety of the Hangover. That is not to say that it was induced by the film, however. Standing outside in the sun without sunglasses to shade my delicate eyeballs for great lengths of time surrounded by fat, wastes of life chowing down on fast food while roaming in scooters spells a good chance for my head to swell.

Signing up for sneak preview programs affords me the chance to see upcoming movies that I have been interested in but unfortunately too indebted to afford. On the other hand, I am "afforded" the chance to build a tolerance to the other group of people that use these services: poor, obese things that either have succumbed to their shear massiveness and now move about with the help of a struggling Hoveround or are on their way to the same inevitability with cane in hand. I'm used to sitting at home in a more or less controlled environment. When in public I am forced to keep my mouth shut and resist the urge to jump onto the lap of a human beanbag chair and whip it repeatedly, urging it onward toward the middle of the street by removing their headphones expectorating the clash of top-40 and whispering "mush". The result is a twitch that starts in my eye and slowly builds to a crescendo encompassing my pate as I labor to unravel why people do this to themselves. At this point I have to remind myself to calm down lest I end up like the guy in Scanners.

At this point I should embrace humanity's collision course for failure and make light of the situation but I fear the consequences will send me into a never ending fit. That said, after three hours of waiting for the movie to start, I was joined by my friends Phil, Jonah, Oinkey, Cash, and a new acquaintance, Andrea(?), in a very enjoyable flick. Having not been a fan of Todd Phillips previous comedy, Old School, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself forgiving the woman who was talking behind me and enjoyed the ninety minute Hangover.

I don't know if I have been watching the lamest comedies for the past number of years or if I have entered into a universe where only Wayne's World, Anchorman, Ace Ventura, Dazed and Confused and Solomon Brothers exist. Most comedies fall flat for me either through bad writing or because I am desensitized to the point that I need hairy, Asian balls on the screen to muster up a chuckle. I am here to say that the Hangover is HILARIOUS. I don't say this lightly. I loathe watching comedies except for the aforementioned few. I'd rather spend my time watching rape-revenge or borstal system movies filmed twenty years ago. I'm going to catch this one again either in the theatre or when I buy it on DVD. There is a new breed of comedic actor now and I am excited about the new direction in which these filmed gags are being taken.

I'm not going to list a run-down of the movie's plot because that is not what is important. I'm not sure that this will be that type of blog, anyway. The important thing is that you go see this movie with a friend or loved one when it comes out. Enjoy it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Afros Do Not Belong In the Future

"TODAY IS OUR INDEPENDENCE DAY!!!" Bill Pullman the Suck once said. This, however, is not our independence day from silly Terminator movies. Today, along with my friends Josh, Jonah and Brad I observed the new Terminator movie, Terminator: Salvation. What befell my eyes, I believe, was an honest attempt at the future story line. The movie, directed by McG, was a step above the third film in the series but had none of the heart that the second film had. The main thing that sets the third and this one apart is the color pallet and the absence of our favorite Californian governor. The film sets a tone with it's drab greys and browns and dust throughout, a far cry from the daylight and bright colors of Rise of the Machines. The set design is very good. I can bet a good portion of the film's budget was utilized in creating a believable world. The buildings and sets looked worn and crumbling as if a sneeze will knock down some of the structures amidst the sands. As a post-apocalyptic world should be. Yet, in spots, all that stood out was some poor lighting, pulling me right out of the experience.

Another complaint was the stupid mute eight year old girl. I have no idea what purpose she has in the story except to infuriate me. She doesn't say a word the entire film and yet has a fair amount of screen time. Add on top of that a giant, wild afro. Yes,in the post nuclear destructed world she inhabits there are no barbers and, yes, she lives with Kyle Reese eating dingo or whatever, but, that doesn't excuse the her blatant Hollywood hair or her lack of emotion. I'd like to think that if a building was falling around you, the fright just may might be palpable or if the leader of the human resistance was close to dying I wouldn't expect to see her being the only one in the background looking as if she just missed her first acting lesson and picking her nose.

With the exception of Michael Ironside, Moon Bloodgood and Sam Worthington, every other actor within the film should have been replaced. Common's perfectly sculpted beard has no place within the confines of film. Period. Helena Bonham Carter, though bald-headed, should have been eschewed from the DataDyne storyline, and yes, Christian Bale, or, dare I say Batman, could have been looked over for someone else. The look of John Connor, through Mr. Wayne, I mean, Bale, was there. The belief in him and the struggle for the human race was not. The Batman voice is back in full force and that is exactly how it sounds: forced. There were a few moment when standing side by side I could not distinguish who was talking, Bale or Worthington. That is not a good direction. I wonder if Sam Worthington would have been more convincing as John Connor. He was the best part of Salvation. I'm taking it that his organic heart within his metal skeleton was the "heart" of the film.

I am a fan of needless explosions and there are many in this film. I was riveted in a few of the film's action sequences, especially the first that introduces John Connor to us. In an extended shot we follow him from the exterior of a helicopter to the inside where he pushes a dead body from the pilot's seat, which he climbs into and proceeds to, unbelievably, take off. The shot follows his ascent from the ground, to his his connection with a rocket, through the descent to the ground and his unbuckling of the seat belt. To which he falls to the top of the screen, as the heli has landed on it's roof. This was a well directed sequence and there are others to add to it.

As I understand, this is McG's first true action film and I am going to say that it is a very good effort. May I repeat "effort" and not success. The direction and screenwriters relied heavily on throwbacks to the second film so much as to include, but not limited to, basically the same set design and cues from the climax between Arnold and Robert Patrick in the metallurgy plant. The fight between the two terminators was reminiscent of the showdown between the T-800 and T-1000 and when Kyle Reese is sent up an elevator, it recalls Arnold sending John Connor up almost the exact same one.

This "review" may seem altogether harsh but, as it stands, my Best Movie Ever pedestal has on it's surface seated Terminator 2: Judgement Day and this fourth movie in the series just does not compare. James Cameron was right in ending his involvement with the series after the second. He achieved the vision he set out for. The future war between man and machine is enticing but there is no heart to this tale, just Batman playing war.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Batman: The Killing Joke

After a month of pestering Josh to lend Alan Moore's take on the Joker origin story I sat down to dive headfirst into the wacky and hallucinatory world that is the Joker's mind. At once I noticed the beautiful visuals and the stunning coloring that gave the pictures a roundness that is lacking from most comics that I have had the chance to read. But my pleasure ended there. Having just exited the world of 1980s New York with Moore's work of art, Watchmen, I had high hopes for this book. What sat before my eyes was a ship-shod poor excuse for a story. The book is over before it begins and the implications that the Joker is trying to drive Comissioner Gordon mad with the shooting of his daughter and the fun ride providing photographs of her prostrated in all her gory detail are ultimately underwhelming. The Joker's efforts to drive the Commissioner insane should very well have involved more than twenty in-world minutes of horror. Commisioner Gordon is a strong man and the Joker knows that. He is a "by the book" guy and it would take much more than that to make him forget his scruples. Batman is an afterthought, and while this is the Joker's story, he definitely could have had a larger part. As for the Joker... I'm sorry but a normal man taking a job with the mob because of financial hard times and falling into a chemical bath does not make for a riveting origin story. Yes, Alan Moore writes a slightly intertesting spin to how he went mad but purely falling into a pool of chemicals and coming out laughing like a hyena doesn't make me say "wow, that's awesome." In fact, Tim Burton's Joker went through the same process. The mystery surrounding the Joker in Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" is a far more compelling because we don't have it spelled out in ten pages, but it's left to our own imaginings. Overall, it was a half hour well spent but, ultimately, I was disappointed. Alan Moore is a crazy man. After watching "the Mindscape of Alan Moore" I will look forward to reading any of his work. In any case, I am reading V For Vendetta next. Hope it is better.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Saturday May 9, 2009. Start of something.

So today, as per usual, I spent my Saturday cordoned off on my throne, exploring the finer films of our time. Today could be the start of a series of blogs that chronicle what I watch and spend my limited time doing. Or it could be the start of a short series of needless Internet chatter. I haven't made up m mind yet. I'm really tired now so I better start before I fall asleep.

Film I

Good luck Chuck

Director: Don't Care.

I had heard that this flick was a hoot. Previously had never thunk it to see. Glad I did. Having never laughed out loud at most comedies I was pleased to find myself constantly stifling my laughs as to not wake my girlfriend. I like Dane Cook. I'm a terrible person. Plus Jessica Alba is now hot in my book(pants).

Film II

Death Sentence.

Director: James Wan.

Star: Kevin Bacon.

As I am not a huge fan of the torture porn genre or a fan of the first Saw film at all I believe that the film would have passed by my eyes unseen had it not been for the bald Kevin Bacon on the cover of the DVD. I'm pretty glad I picked it up. A thoroughly better film than Saw, I found myself actually riveted by the happenings onscreen. While I could find little to no pity or empathy for Kelly Preston's character or her children, the less whiny artists and hockey players the better, I almost believed in Sir Bacon's performance. His depiction of a father who seeks revenge for the deaths of his family was by no means phoned in. This film most likely had backing by the studios because of the obvious success of the Saw films but I'm sure was mishandled when being promoted. I had never heard about this until it hit DVD. It is a shame because I would have enjoyed a night out at the cheap theatres, Pabst in hand, watching the destruction caused by Kevin Bacon.

Self note: Seek out more James Wan.
Self note(reprise): Checked Scratch further viewings of James Wan flicks.

Film III

Thriller: They Call Her One Eye.

Fucking Christ. Brutal. Young girl is raped and therefore never speaks again due to the mental distress. Years later, she gets picked up by pimp at bus stop, sold into prostitution and hooked on heroin. After lashing out at customer, her eye is taken by pimp and is given one more chance to behave. Now, eye patch in hand, the young woman, with one day off a week, uses it to train in gun handling, martial arts, and driving skills with the extra money earned from her Johns and her unfortunate-looking Jane. In a series of revenge killings that I can only describe as beautiful and vicious( displayed through the use of some interesting slow motion photography) I was taken aback as I rarely am in reaction to the cinematic violence. There is a sort of realism and feeling that flows freely from this film. I'm not sure if it is the graininess of the film or through the performances of the actors but I will be seeing this again and searching out the actress's other works.

Also watched the last chapter to Dogville. Impressed by the delivery. Also watched the Fifth Element. Forgot how good it was.
OK. about to fall asleep. feeling sick. this has been a terrible post. will refine.