Monday, December 28, 2009

UP IN THE AIR - MY REVIEW




The best way to see Up In The Air is to go with absolutely no preconceived notions. Don't listen to all the best picture of the year hoopla or how brilliant the script is, just go and watch it completely uninformed. I say this because about ninety percent of what I heard or read on Up In The Air simply isn't true. It's not the best picture of the year by a long shot and the script isn't brilliant it's actually kind of obvious and flawed.

All that being said Up In The Air is a really enjoyable movie with awesome performances, a movie I would probably have liked even more if I hadn't been so gung ho to see the greatest movie this year. This is another film drawn from the pages of a book though I'm not sure if the novel suffers from the same flaws as the script does. Director Jason Reitman (who co-wrote the script) has no sense of discovery in Up In The Air, everything that's going to happen is pretty much laid out by halfway through the film.

Up In The Air is the story of Ryan Bingam (George Clooney) a man who flies all around the country firing people for bosses too cowardly to do so themselves. He loves his life of flying 300 plus days a year and living hub to hub with no personal connections to ruin it. From the very start Reitman hits us with the symbolism in a heavy handed manner. Bingham packing everything into a little suitcase, his personal speaking engagements where he tells the audience to symbolically stuff all they own into a backpack in order to see how it weights you down etc, etc. Okay, we get it, Bingham's perfect little life isn't going to be perfect for long.

Just in case that symbolism wasn't enough enter the two sisters, one of whom is getting married. Bingham isn't close to them and he doesn't see them much, a fact we could have picked up on without the scene telling us all this. Hiss kooky sister has cut out a big photo of herself and her fiance that she has people holding up in front of famous places so it looks like they were there. Bingham being a traveler is asked to take some shots. When he tries to put the plus sized photo into his suitcase it doesn't fit.

Did you catch the symbolism there?

As the film progresses Bingham is forced to reevaluate his ideas on life on both a professional business level. Business wise he's forced to deal with the changing way his company wants to fire people and a new young upstart named Anna Kendrick (Natalie Kenner) who Bingham takes along so she can learn the ropes. Ahhhh, the second hitch in his neat little life, the symbolism grows even wider.

The personal front is in the form of Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) a beautiful business-type who is essentially the female version of Bingham. They meet and begin a relationship that will put his I-want-to-be-alone idealism to the ultimate test. What director Reitman does in the first forty minutes is set everything up like a chess game instead of a film. Nothing seems to be growing naturally a problem Reitman also had directing Juno where he set up the pins to knock them down instead of building characters for the film.

The main problem I have with Up In The Air is that once the pieces are in place you can see how they will play out no matter how hard you try to deny it. You know how the family issue will end up, how the relationship with young upstart Anna will resolve itself, you can even see the curve in the road involving Alex Goran if you've ever been to a movie. Once those things are figured out the rest of the film sort of loses its purpose and you begin checking your watch or moving around in your seat.

What's worse is the curve in the road with Alex involves so many jumps in logic that the entire relationship seems more like a set up for the end than anything else. The same can be said for the Anna resolution to the point there's even a scene that almost screams "NOW YOU KNOW WHAT'LL HAPPEN TO ANNA!!". Up In The Air feels as if somebody leaned over halfway through and said "Let me tell you how this movie ends".

However there is one very strong reason not to be too hard on Up In The Air and that is the performances. It could be sold that George Clooney's performance single handedly saves the movie. He is charming, smarmy, dignified and funny. You end up rooting for a guy who gives you every reason not to root for him.

Natalie Keener is awesome as the young upstart Anna Kendrick, a part which is not easy to play. Too much one way and you hate her and won't believe her resolution, too much the other and she becomes too likable to be believed as a young business shark. Keener also straddles the line between wordly entrepreneur and clueless young girl with little life experience. She never seems phony or ill at ease, instead simply melting into her character.

Jason Bateman is the "Robert Duvall from The Road" of Up In The Air. He's not on screen for long but when he is he totally owns it. Playing Bingham's asshole cutthroat boss Bateman is so enjoyable I wanted more of him and less of everything else. Even the bit parts of Bingham's sister are played beautifully.

The only one note performance is from Vera Farmiga as Alex Rogan and I think that's more of the design of her character than her acting chops. She isn't given much to do besides look sexy and toss out witty one liners, which is too bad because she gets swallowed up by everybody else.

All in all Up In The Air is a solid movie with some great moments and kick ass performances. Reitman needs to learn how to let a script breathe and allow for the nuances that make a film seem natural instead of set up. I will say this for him though, he does a great job of showing how hard lay offs hit people and makes each individual so real your heart bleeds for them. Up In The Air is a classic "rental" movie. It doesn't need to be viewed on the big screen and in smaller digs you can focus less on the many potholes and more on the amazing performances.

A SINGLE MAN - MY REVIEW




Have you ever seen a movie that you really wanted to be great but it just couldn't get out of its own way? A Single Man is just such a film, one so stylized that it loses the story and so focused on creating texture and mood that it's all your left with. Telling the story of a gay man (Colin Firth as George) during the Cuban Missile Crisis who has lost his lover to a car accident A Single Man is based on the 1962 novel by Christopher Isherwood. The novel has been long held as one of the first in the gay movement and here fashion designer Tom Ford has attempted to bring Isherwood's book to life. It's ironic that Ford makes his home in the world of fashion because A Single Man is a great looking film. The problems come when the subtext of the book or the depth of the characters tries to come out and is strangled by the aesthetics of the movie.

From what I can gather Isherwood's novel is simply a second by second account of George's life after losing his partner Jim and attempting to live a normal day in his normal life in Los Angeles as an English professor. It goes into George's first meeting and then life with his lover Jim, the death and life afterwards as well as his friendship with drunken divorcee Charlotte (Julianne Moore). Ford attempts to visualize this inner monologue with various film tricks that overwhelm the script as oppose to enhance it. For instance when George is living his post-Jim life everything is saturated and grainy, as if you were looking at the movie through a film over the lens. If something or someone catches George's eye or he's having a particularly intense memory the color becomes very rich and very deep. While that might have worked using it sparingly Ford uses it so often it just becomes a hiccup that constantly takes you out of the movie.

Along with that there's an overuse of slow motion, quick cuts to simulate memories all happening at once, flashbacks, etc. A Single Man which purports to be a quiet movie suddenly becomes visually very noisy so it can't ever find a rhythm. Without that what you're left with is a series of scenes that don't really lead anywhere. The really frustrating thing is that all of these scenes are wonderful (save for Julianne Moore who is obviously making a bid for Oscar glory here) especially Colin Firth. His restrained performance with flashes of genuine anger and emotion carries the entire movie. Ford might have been able to get away with letting Firth carry the film except for his crack-like addiction to stylized movie tricks.

For instance there's one use of slow motion and grainy color that is so badly edited myself and a few others I spoke with all thought we were seeing a flashback to George's childhood. Suddenly we're told no these are his next door neighbors who George has a strained relationship with. These kinds of little issues continue throughout the movie so you never get to settle in and enjoy what's going on. Halfway through you're on guard waiting for the next trick to appear. The movie does find somewhat of a pace by the last twenty minutes but at that point I had given up caring.

A Single Man, in the hands of a more experienced filmmaker, could have been one of those quiet movies that just comes along and knocks an eye candy filibuster like Avatar right off the top spot. Instead it's a meandering visual exercise that plods along until finally limping to the finish. You can see on screen how powerful the book must've been, especially for the times, but that power is never translated. Hopefully if Ford continues to makes films he'll learn a little more about restraint and subtlety. If not then maybe he should head back to the runways where that kind of eye serves a better purpose.

THE GREATEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE EVER!!!




I have no words. It's just brilliant.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS - MY REVIEW



When Heath Ledger passed away it looked as if the latest Terry Gilliam film
'The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus" would go the way of Gilliam's Don Quixoteas; a movie derailed by hardship and tragic circumstances. Instead the acting community rallied behind the film (especially Johnny Depp, Colin Ferrel and Jude Law) and helped Gilliam finished what could be his best movie since Time Bandits. Lacking the annoying confusion of 12 Monkeys or the schmaltzy nature of The Fisher King, Parnassus is a complete statement, a story devoid of gimmicks or pretentious director tricks. This is the movie Gilliam was born to make, the one that all his other movies were practice for. It's interesting because it shares a lot of the same visual elements as Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes but where as that seems tacky and forced Parnassus is fascinating and necessary for the story.

Telling you the story behind Parnassus would be akin to walking out of a theater in 1980 screaming "VADER IS LUKE'S DAD!!!" but suffice it to say there hasn't been a more layered or compelling story in film this year. Gilliam does a great job of controlling his visual style by giving himself two separate realities to play in; the real world and the world of imagination. The real world is London and Parnassus is the man behind a traveling carnival show featuring his daughter Valentina (Lily Cole), his assistant Percy (Verene Troyer) and his apprentice Anton (Andrew Garfield). This misfit family stumble upon a stranger named Tony (Heath Ledger) who changes their lives and the direction the act will follow forever. The imaginary world and how it ties into the real world is just something you'll have to experience for yourself.

What makes Parnassus so good is how the script, direction and performances string together to form an unbreakable rope that weaves this elaborate tapestry and never let's it get out of control. Gilliam is so restrained in this film that when he does get to go off it becomes brilliant instead of over-the-top. This restraint allows him to place layer on top of layer from the script with out Parnassus becoming confusing or convoluted. With so much going on there is always a sharp focus on story so you never begin scratching your head wondering what the hell is going on. Gilliam relies on the audience being intelligent so there's no spoon feeding but he doesn't hide the silverware from you either. Combining both strong story and direction allows the film peel away layer after layer so the audience is held captive by what's going on.

Performance wise everybody is not only wonderful but also perfectly cast. Christopher Plummer has one of the toughest jobs because Parnassus is both a magical entity to be feared and a drunken fool to be laughed at. His choices in life make him reprehensible but if the audience doesn't sympathize with him the film will be lost. Plummer has to make an annoying, egotistical drunk somebody we root for and he does it masterfully. Tom Waits, the actual physical embodiment of the world cool, is perfect as Mr. Nick aka The Devil and I even loved Verne Troyer who I usually can't stand. His world weary assistant is the voice of reason throughout the film and Troyer knows it. He doesn't mug for the camera or try to be Mini Me, instead he plays his part with razor sharp talent.

The hot-as-ten-suns Lily Cole steps up the plate as Valentina, Parnassus's young daughter who is starting to come into her own. It would be easily with the retina scorching looks that Cole has to play her character as overly sexy or overly spoiled but Cole walks the line very well. By the film's end you still understand that she's anatomically crippling but you're much more focused on her performance. The real gem of the movie is Andrew Garfield as Anton because he is the soul of the entire piece. Garfield holds his own with Ledger, Plummer, and anybody else he acts alongside. Anton is the moral center of the carnvial troupe but he's never preachy and his ability to show vulnerability without it being weakness is a nice change of pace. Garfield can be charming, annoying, brave or laugh out loud funny, switching all of it at the drop of a dime. I expect big things from this young man in the future.

As for Ledger's performance, well, it's almost hard to watch. Seeing him on screen in Parnassus and remembering his turn as The Joker you really see what an incredible talent he was and how tragic his loss is. Ledger's turn as Tony is perfect, almost like a song. Ledger is not afraid to get dirty, to put his good looks on the back burner and be what the character neesd him to be. His play as Tony is dark but compelling. You don't trust his character but you really want to hang out with him. if The Joker was Ledger going completely off the reservation then Tony is what would happen if he walked to the edge and started waving to people. Tony isn't all there but he isn't crazy, that ability to keep us guessing is ultimately what ties the movie together.

The Imagniarium Of Doctor Parnassus is a machine of many parts all working together in perfect order to bring you one of the best movies of 2009. As he gets older Gilliam is becoming a better storyteller without losing his ability to make things visually fascinating. I'm so glad this movie was finished and found a way to be released. It's a movie everybody should see, talk about, and then see again. I'm hoping seeing this will remind filmmakers that you can make something composed of elements of fantasy without sacrificing what makes a great film because at the end of the all my blustering that's what the Imagnarium Of Doctor Parnassus is.....a great, great film.

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG - MY REVIEW




I don't usually go to Disney movies, mainly because they aren't what I remember growing up. I came of age on Disney fare like 101 Dalmatians, Lady & The Tramp, Pinocchio, The Jungle Book, etc. Since the success of The Little Mermaid Disney has taken a different approach to both animation and songs with their releases. With that in mind I was less than amped about going to see The Princess And The Frog but you'd be amazed what you're forced into by extended family during Christmas. What I expected were some chuckles, a couple of toe tapping numbers and maybe a movie I didn't hate. What I didn't expect was a thoroughly charming and exceedingly entertaining film that harkened back to the Disney I grew up with.

The Princess Frog centers on Tiana who, through a series of only-in-a-Disney-movie circumstances, becomes a frog after kissing real life Prince Naveen who was reduced into his own amphibious stature by voodoo witch doctor Dr. Facilier. From there it's a whole lot of jazz inspired songs and kooky characters that help the two try and become human again. Princess And The Frog takes several departures from the more recent Disney fare starting with the animation. Instead of the bright colors and clean backgrounds of movies like The Lion King or Beauty & The Beast, Princess and The Frog opts for a darker look, more shadows and more mystery. The characters themselves have that old school fluid look, one that screams it came first from the imagination and then through the pen of a Disney animator. Think of Baloo from The Jungle Book and you'll understand what I mean.

Disney also returns to their darker themes in Princess And The Frog. The bad guy her, Dr. Facilier, is really evil and the imagery used along with him has a tone that might even be too strong for young children. It's much more in the vein of the evil witch in Cinderella or the haggard old woman who hands Snow White the apple than the buffoon like nature of Tarzan evil hunter or the mean-but-witty style of The Lion King. Disney really shows how Facilier is involved in the dark arts and the price you pay for mixing it up with voodoo demons.

The Princess And The Frog is also a much more personal movie from the characters to the musical numbers. Instead of over-the-top celebrity voiced caricatures these are much more subtle and human (irony noted) personalities. For instance the jazz loving, horn blowing friendly alligator Louis could have been played to the hilt thus making him annoying. Instead he's played just grasping the edges of too much and that allows him to be endearing. Same with firefly Ray who has to be one of the most fun characters Disney has had in a while. You even manage to create a soft spot for Tiana's spoiled, rich best friend Charlotte La Bouff who could've been played as so spoiled you hated her more than the voodoo priest. Instead she's a sweet girl who is just a little off center and you can't help but laugh with her.

I was impressed with how personal Disney even kept the musical numbers. Sure they're big and involved but they aren't the show stopping, all encompassing, money shot musical hoe-downs that Disney has been churning out for the last ten years or more. I think part of what makes the Princess And The Frog such a personal and muted film is its reliance on Jazz to build not only the soundtrack but the story. Creole, southern New Orleans Jazz is some of the warmest most personal music ever made. When you center a story like this around that kind of warmth there's nothing you can do but make a film that echoes that type of personal connection. Something like "Under The Sea" or "Hakuna Matata" would never have worked if blown from a dirty New Orleans Jazz trumpet.

There are so socioeconomic problems with The Princess And The Frog that have to be addressed. The much touted "First Black Princess" isn't a princess at all, at least not through 97% of the movie. Instead Tiana is a poor black girl who can only work as a waitress to make money or cook for her rich white best friend. Her dreams are impossible for her to reach until she has the help of a big strong man. That seems a little surprising from a girl who has Oprah voicing her mother. None of this is anything that makes the film bad or unenjoyable but I would be remiss if I didn't mention it. The only bizarre vibe to the movie is it feels like Disney was trying to sidestep the whole "First Black Princess" thing which wasn't necessary. Regardless of all of this I enjoyed the movie immensely and was happy to be brought back to my childhood if only for a couple of hours.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

MY TOP 25 BEST AND WORST MOVIES OF THE LAST DECADE




Wow, how fast a decade goes. I don’t know how many films have been released over the last ten years or how many I’ve seen both in the theater and on DVD but I have managed to find my top 25. Putting together this list was awesome because I was reminded of some great (and not so great) movies that I had forgotten came out during the last ten years. This list is purely the movies I felt were the best of the last decade so I’m sure folks will disagree. However you feel about my list the best I can hope for is that it inspires you to make your own. So without further ado here are my 25 Best Films Of The Last Ten Years:



25. Spirited Away (2001):


I’m not by any stretch of the imagination an anime fan. For the most part I find it to be a genre filled with characters screaming at each other with giant eyes or standing at rakish angles while their hair blows around. Spirited Away however is the exception to that rule as well as simply a brilliant film. Wonderfully written, beautifully animated and filled with an incredible sense of soul, Spirited Away is the benchmark by which all anime films should be measured.



24. Elf (2003):

It’s rare that a modern holiday film becomes a classic but Elf definitely falls into that category. What makes this movie work outside of great direction from Jon Favreau and a really wonderful script is the casting. Everyone in this movie is perfect for their part from Will Ferrell’s charming and hysterical Elf Buddy to James Caan’s corporate dad who has lost his way. I dare anybody to watch this movie and not get filled with the Christmas spirit. Easily my favorite new holiday movie since Scrooged.


23. Capote (2005):

Some films are ensemble pieces, some are tour de forces for one actor and some have both going on. Capote has an incredibly strong supporting cast but the movie’s focus is the heart stopping performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote. To say Hoffman nails the performance is to do a disservice to how incredible he is in the film. The movie is a prime example of how perfect casting and a flawless script can combine to make a classic.



22. Milk (2008):


Having seen the documentary on Harvey Milk (the first openly gay man elected to public office) I was sure the movie wouldn’t offer anything else to the story. What I didn’t count on was Sean Penn’s subtle and nuanced performance as Milk nor how balanced the script would be. The film neither praises nor judges Milk but simply presents him as the flawed and important human being he was. A real actors movie if ever there was one.



21. Dogtown & Z Boys (2001):


Though I grew up with the Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Lance Mountain era of skateboarders I was always infatuated with the Dogtown crew who basically invented modern skateboarding. This documentary directed by Dogtown legend Stacey Peralta could be the greatest skateboarding documentary ever. In depth interviews chronicling the rise and fall of the Dogtown crew combined with a spot on a music selection makes this a must see even if you’re not into skateboarding.



20. The Wrestler (2008):


I fucking hate Mickey Rourke but I loved this movie. Perhaps it’s my love of professional wrestling or that I’m a sucker for a hard luck film but The Wrestler was a surprise to me when I saw it. Rourke lost his usual idiot tough guy act for a much more subdued performance and Darren Aronofsky reels in his over the top style to direct a really human story. The Wrestler is about love, loss and the realization that you’re moment in time is gone. I was also amped because while not a sad ending The Wrestler didn’t end sappy.



19. Shaun Of The Dead (2004):


Some folks may find this entry on my list as a travesty but I just don’t give a fuck. Not only is Shaun Of The Dead laugh out loud funny but it also managed to reinvent the zombie genre by adding a romantic comedy element. Outside of the sheer greatness of the movie Shaun Of The Dead also introduced us to actor Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright. Shaun Of The Dead is the first zombie movie you can take a date to. That alone makes it awesome.



18. No Country For Old Men (2007):


Take an amazing book by Cormac McCarthy, mix well with the Cohen Brothers direction, add a generous heaping of great performances by Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem and you get easily one of the best movies of 2007. One of my favorite aspects of the film is that it stuck with the bizarre turn of events that made up the book. The Cohen Brothers weren’t afraid to allow the audience to believe the movie was about Josh Brolin when really it’s a film about Tommy Lee Jones and how he sees the world. Anybody adapting a movie from a book should see No Country For Old Men and take notes.



17. Let The Right One In (2008):


While the rest of the world was creaming their pants over vapid and pretty vampires the Swedes came along with not just a great vampire movie but also an important one. Let The Right One In takes the Vampire ideal and humanizes it using it as a metaphor for co-dependence. The two child actors show more range and more depth of ability then most adult actors could possibly dream of. The end is brutal and disturbing in a way so few films can even touch.



16. City Of God (2002):


This Brazilian film about organized crime in the city of Cidade De Deus blows away any attempt an American film has ever made on brutality or crime. This is a movie that takes no prisoners and flows with the speed of a runaway train. I was also incredibly impressed with how hopeless the movie is, how unflinching in the face of true criminal brutality it was. As harsh as the movie is the violence is always used to paint a picture of how hard it is to live and rise above the poverty and crime. You will not find a better crime drama film anywhere.



15. Finding Nemo (2003):


This is the penultimate Pixar film, easily the best one they’ve done so far. Finding Nemo opens with one of the most shocking and depressing openings in Disney history before settling into a wonderful family adventure. The best part of Finding Nemo is the writing, which is first rate. This is a very grown up film about a father and son dynamic and about letting go of tragedy in order to move on that just happens to be animated. The characters here are so well defined that you really care about all of them. I defy non-animated film to be this well rounded and emotionally complex.



14. American Splendor (2003):


What makes this film adaptation of Harvey Pekar’s comic book series work so well is how the filmmakers actually lifted what makes the comic work and put it into the movie. In the series various different artists giving each comic a unique vibe draw Pekar’s scripts. The film does the same thing by not only using actor Paul Giamatti to portray Pekar but also involving Pekar himself as well as animation of the artist all to tell the story. The script is very sharp and Giamatti is brilliant in his performance. If you’re a fan of the comic you’ll love this film and if you’re not this film will make you one.


13. Sideways (2004):


I see a lot of movies and few if any have a perfect script. Sideways has a perfect script, absolutely flawless in every aspect. There isn’t one wasted scene; one shred of dialogue that doesn’t belong and all of it weaves together to tell a wonderful story of a loser’s second chance at love. Paul Giamatti is brilliant as the loser author facing a mid-life crisis, as is Thomas Haden Church as his smarmy actor buddy about to get married. Sideways switches on a dime from incredibly funny to poignant but never feels forced. Like I said, a perfect script.



12. Brick (2005):

You wouldn’t think that a modern film based in a high school that’s written like a noir crime drama would work but Brick knocks it out of the ballpark. Put simply this is the story of a young man trying to avenge the death of the ex-girlfriend he never stopped loving. Playing each side against the other like chess pieces our hero manages to bring down an entire teenage criminal empire. Wonderfully written and directed with a star making performance by Joseph Gordon Levitt.



11. The Life Aquatic (2004):

A lot of people bitch at me because this is my second favorite Wes Anderson film (the first is Bottle Rocket) but I stand by my declaration. This is one of the few Wes Anderson movies that isn’t obviously quirky and the performance by Bill Murray as the vaguely scummy down-on-his-luck deep Sea Explorer is his best since Scrooged. The script is funny and touching as well as filled with fantasy wonderment. The Life Aquatic is another movie with flawless casting. Owen Wilson gives one of his finest performances as Murray’s estranged son mainly because he doesn’t play “Owen Wilson”. People can wax philosophical about the greatness of the Wes Anderson’s other films but The Life Aquatic is easily one of his most important.



10. High Fidelity (2000):

This movie could be the story of my life if I owned a record store. John Cusack plays a music snob in the middle of a harsh break up also forced to deal with his insane workers who also live to collect and talk about music. The script based on the book is so perfectly written that anybody with an obsession for music will identify with it. I even loved Jack Black in the film and I fucking hate that guy.


09. Amelie (2001):

When I saw this movie for the first time I didn’t really remember it because I was too busy trying to figure out how to find Audrey Tautau and make her fall in love with me. Once I realized that wasn’t going to happen I watched the movie again and fell in love with it. Amelie is the gentle and magical film about a shy waitress who strikes out to change the lives of other people. This quiet and beautiful film is a testament to how great filmmaking is universal and that true stories with great characters subvert any language barrier.


08. There Will Be Blood (2007):


A movie that again proves just how fucking good Daniel Day Lewis is. Lewis plays an oil barren on a ruthless drive to acquire wealth at the cost of everything else. There Will Be Blood is a tour de force film, a movie where everything else is a shadow while Lewis is the sun. It’s not that the other performances aren’t top notch because they are but this film is all about Lewis. Watching his turn from simply driven to totally insane with greed almost to the point of being evil. The last scene between Lewis and a fake preacher could be one of the best in film history.


07. The Station Agent (2003):


Another quiet film in the vein of Amelie The Station Agent is a simple story about a lonely man who has committed to being alone. His master plan is thrown into turmoil when he meets and aggressively friendly barista and a troubled woman dealing with the death of her son. The Station Agent is a movie all about performances starting with the awesome Peter Dinklage and moving on down the line.


06. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006):


This is my favorite Guillermo Del Toro movie by far mainly because it’s his best effort of combining realistic elements with the fantastic. Labyrinth is a film focusing on a girl who loses herself to a world of magic during the brutal Spanish Civil War. Filled with creatures both awesome and terrifying Labyrinth volleys between really brutal scenes of war and the dark imagination of the heroine. Complete with an ending you wouldn’t expect Labyrinth again shows how great art transcends language.


05. Adaptation (2002):

Adaptation is a script movie, a film that’s driven mainly by the complexity of the written word. Charlie Kaufman’s script is so incredible that the performances really don’t matter. Though Nicholas Cage and Meryl Streep are awesome in the movie nothing comes close to how incredibly intricate the script is. Starting out as drama about a script writer trying to write about a flower without being reduced to clich├ęs the movies suddenly switches into an action film for the last third. You’d think it wouldn’t work but it does mainly because of how Kaufman introduces the action element. Trust me this is the best written script of the last decade.


04. Requiem For A Dream (2000):

For anybody, including me, who read the Hubert Selby Jr novel the idea of a movie version, seemed implausible. The book is written in such a bizarre fashion that turning into a film would have obviously meant the filmmakers had to destroy the novel. Except that Darren Aronofsky decided to lift the entire book and just lay it down as a movie. The bizarre prose, the brutality of drug addiction, the non-linear narrative, its all here. The biggest travesty of the movie is that Ellen Burstyn’s genius portrayal of a lonely house mom turned drug addict lost the Oscar to Julia Roberts bullshit tight shirt turn as Erin Brokovich.


03. Good Night & Good Luck (2005):

This is one of those movies that should be shown to all film students in hopes they learn the lessons they need. A brilliant script, amazing performances all around (I even liked Robert Downey JR) and spot on direction by George Clooney combines to make this docudrama on Edward R. Murrow’s fight against Joseph McCarthy great from end to end. David Strathairn’s portrayal as Murrow should have won him the Oscar and the film should’ve won one for Clooney.


02. O Brother Where Art Thou (2000):

Another Cohen Brothers genius film this time based on Dante’s Inferno. Only The Cohen’s could’ve turned the Inferno into a story about three rednecks trying to escape the law. This movie flawless from the script to the performances to the music and was the first movie that made me see George Clooney as an actual actor instead of a pretty face. Every single scene is a tiny masterpiece that weaves together into a tapestry of intricate stitching that ends with one of the most genius films of all time much less the last ten years.


01. The Dark Knight (2008):


Yeah I know some people will balk at my choosing a superhero movie as the best film of the last ten years but they can suck my ass it smells. Like it or not this movie is an amazing crime drama masked as a superhero film. Director/Writer Christopher Nolan is one of the few who can make a comic book film without it feeling off because he keeps it totally grounded in reality. Christian Bale reprises the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne and manages to bring a sense of humanity to Batman that others have failed to (see Michael Keaton). The power of the film rests in the performance of the late Keith Ledger as The Joker. Nobody has ever gotten inside this legendary villain the way Ledger did and man did he bring the evil. To me this is the last Batman film that needs to be made simply because it won’t be outdone. Instead, like with the original Superman, we’ll probably be stuck with awful sequels one after the other.


So that’s it, the best films of the last ten years at least in my eyes. Which bring me to my next batch. The WORST films of the last decade.

25. The Matrix Revolutions (2003):

Yeah I know lots of people think these movies are brilliant but lots of people are fucking wrong. This Terminator rip off featuring slow bullets, flipping around and Laurence Fishburne as the black Yoda was a pretentious mess. Worst of all was this last entry which decided “Hey, fuck it, we don’t need logic or a decent story we’re the fucking MATRIX!!!”.

Neo fights a bunch of Mr. Smith clones, kind of strikes a Jesus pose and then everything is kind of okay? What? It was so clear that the Wachowski’s ran out of ideas especially when they tried to end the movie with this spiritual dribble about man and machine. This movie sucked so badly that even fans of the movie hated it. Oh yeah and news flash for Hollywood Keanu Reeves can’t act so just give the fuck up already.


24. Cat In The Hat (2003):

Somebody should just kill Michael Myers seriously lets just get it done. Not only because he isn’t funny, not just because he made me suffer through both the Wayne’s World and Austin Powers craze but mainly for taking a beloved Dr. Seuss character and mouth raping it. Myers and his cronies managed to take The Cat In The Hat and turn it into a mean spirited, way too colorful abortion of a movie that Myers should be ashamed he was part of.


23. White Chicks (2004):

Studio Exec: See this is funny this is really funny. See, see white people are laaaame and white girls are super laaame, we all know that. So lets take two with it funny Damon brothers with their streetwise I-don’t-care-attitude and have them dress up like white girls because that shit IS FUNNNNNY!!! Oh SHIT I’m fucking laughing myself into a bloody orgasm right the fuck now!!

Wait though Mr. out-of-touch studio exec; don’t we need like a plot? Studio Exec: Hey, dickweed didn’t you hear me? The black dudes will dress up like white girls and really show the audience how lame white girls are. Why are you bothering me with plot and shit you fucking dumb ass? Black dudes…..dressed as white chicks…..you don’t see the fucking genius here? IDIOT!!


22. The Pledge (2001):

I usually like Sean Penn’s films but this pretentious exercise in playing on people’s emotions was just laughable. Jack Nicholson is way past the point of being anything other than a caricature of himself so watching him “emote” is more hysterical than poignant. The script is a plodding self-aware mess that strives to touch us by trying to draw us into the life of a man we don’t care about. Nicholson’s character has no real base line so nothing he does feels real, more just something that gets him to the next scene.

The film is also boring, boring, boring. The Pledge moves at a pace so slow you begin to think it’s moving in reverse and that you’ll never get out of the theater. The end of the movie also particularly offended me. Clearly Penn and his buddies realized these scenes amounted to nothing so they threw in a twist that turned an already bad film into an utter failure.


21. Daredevil (2003):

It’s rare that I can pick out exactly when a film turns to utter shit, right down to the millisecond. Daredevil is one of those rare films though to be honest it didn’t start off that great anyway. Ben Affleck couldn’t have been a worse choice for Daredevil save for maybe Jack Black or Verne Troyer. The film starts off bad but watchable right up until the scene where Affleck and Jennifer Garner (who really just can’t act) as Elektra have a kooky one-liner fest while sparring in a playground. From that moment on it’s as if everybody involved with the movie pulled their pants down, took a big shit and then rubbed it under the audience's nose.

I was also not a big fan of making Michael Clark Duncan into The Kingpin. I love the guy as an actor but The Kingpin is white and Duncan looked uncomfortable throughout the entire movie. The worst of it was Colin Farrell as Bullseye. I don’t know which Hollywood big wig Farrell has a picture of with a live boy or a dead girl but this no talent hack somehow continues to work. His turn as Bullseye was so gaspingly bad I would vote for the Razzie Award to be reshaped into Farrell’s head in his Bullseye costume.


20. Texas Chainsaw Massacre Remake (2003):

I hated this vomit pile for so many reasons it’s hard to list them. First off the original is one of my favorite movies of all time and this bastardization of it was offensive to me. Gone is the terrifying snuff film aspect of the original replaced by what largely amounts to Kids From The Real World Vs Leatherface. Secondly I loved that the filmmakers decided to dress everybody not in actual seventies clothing but in modern fashion clothing that's designed to look retro. It looked more like a van filled with Calvin Klein models lost driving to a shoot than hapless kids in real trouble.

I hated that they expanded the Leatherface family into this all-encompassing red neck conspiracy plot and that Leatherface wasn’t just a fucking nut bag but had a skin condition which is why he wore the mask. Star Jessica Beil went through hell and fought Leatherface while the entire time her wife beater tied above her stomach never dropped. I guess the most disappointing thing was that it was co-produced by Tobe Hooper the director of the original. Dude you should know better!!


19. Gigli (2003):

To be honest I kind of loved this movie for one reason; the fact that it ground Ben Affleck’s career to almost a complete halt and pretty much ended Jennifer Lopez. Trying to figure out the plot of Gigli is akin to trying to guess what kind of metal the staple in your cock is made of. It’s pointless and doesn’t help the pain at all. Gigli was not only one of the worst scripts ever written but also could never figure out what it wanted to be so it settled for being god awful. This was also the first in a Grand Slam of shitbomb movies this decade from the once great and now laughable Al Pacino.


18. Some Kind Of Monster (2004):

Nothing makes me angrier than watching a bunch of privileged rock stars whine and bitch like little girls about how hard it is to be privileged rock stars. The once great Metallica are shown here going through relationship therapy while recording St. Anger, easily one of the worst records in the history of music. James Hetfield becomes a 12-stepper crybaby while Lars Ulrich continues to be the shallow, untalented dickweed we all knew he was. Ulrich only seems happy when he’s selling art and getting rich. Playing the drums just seems to aggravate him, probably because he sucks at it.

The best part of the film was watching Jason Newsted walk away from the band because of how awful they had become. Poor Kirk Hammet basically turned into a Goth chick right before our eyes. Some Kind Of Monster is not only hard to watch but should be used by a court of law to force Metallica to break up.


17. The Chronicles Of Riddick (2004):

Instead of berating this movie let me just share a story with you. In 2005 I was sent to Africa to film a pilot for the Discovery Channel. I spent a month in the mountains of Surma, deep in bush country with absolutely nothing to do. The only thing at my disposal to pass the time when we weren’t filming was my laptop and its ability to play DVDs. I had rented The Chronicles Of Riddick because I really enjoyed Pitch Black so I figured the sequel would at least be fun.

I popped it in my laptop on a day where weather kept us waiting for hours and hours. The film was so bad that even bored out of my skull and desperate for anything to pass the time I couldn’t finish it. I watched it in shifts of 20 minutes, which was more pain than I could stand. I guess Captain CAAAAAVEMAAAAAN making a sci-fi epic just doesn’t work.


16. Catwoman (2004):

I was hard pressed to put this on my worst list mainly because it was so damn funny I did get a bit of enjoyment out of it. Catwoman the movie is to the character from the Batman comics as Episode I is to the original Star Wars. Any film that has me uninterested in Halle Berry half dressed in tight leather must be really bad. I know there’s a plot in there somewhere but it’s hard to pick it out between huge guffaws at the “acting” and “script”. I pretty much checked out when villain Sharon Stone’s power was revealed to be that a certain type of make up made her skin hard as rock. Catwoman Vs Rock Chick? Thanks but no.


15. 88 Minutes (2007):

This is the second film on my Al Pacino Suck Job Hat Trick list. This abysmal “thriller” is so bad that I sat staring at my TV when it was done trying to will myself to forget it. About twenty minutes in I was hoping that the title was the actual running time but sadly the film is almost two hours, two monstrously bad hours proving once again that the Al Pacino we all knew and loved died in some bizarre accident and was replaced by either a pod person or his secret identical twin whose hearing problem forces him to yell all the time.

Pacino gets poisoned for some idiotic reason and has 88 minutes to figure out who did before he dies. From there Pacino parades around with hot college students like that creepy old overly tanned guy you see at the bar trying to pick up young girls. Pacino yells, pauses, yells some more and then yells again. You can see the end coming almost from the opening credits, which makes the film even harder to sit through.

Nicely done Al, ‘priciate it.


14. Righteous Kill (2008):

I saved the best of the Al Pacino Suckjob Hat Trick for last mainly because it also shows that Robert DeNiro is now just as big a joke as Pacino. In yet another gritty cop film (anybody else getting tired of those) Pacino and DeNiro play…..I shit you not…..cops named Turk & Rooster. In this way re-hashed plot criminals set free on technicalities are being killed and the detectives begin to think it’s the work of a vigilante detective. GASP!! No way, what a fucking envelope pushing idea this shit is.

The plot isn’t the worst part of the movie, the stars are. DeNiro and Pacino simply can’t accept the fact that they are old and not sexy anymore. This isn’t Taxi Driver and Serpico, these are two old guys who make utter fools of themselves trying to trade snappy, “gritty” dialogue. The biggest fantasy in the movie comes with DeNiro’s relationship with this super hot Detective especially the gruesome shot where we get to experience DeNiro fucking her from behind. The big twist is so obvious that if you don’t get it make sure to slap yourself several times across the mouth.


13. Freddy Got Fingered (2001):

Studio Exec: "Ok, ok, I know I was way off on the White Chicks movie but this time, this time I’ve got it. My fellow movie execs what’s funnier than child molesting? That’s right, NOTHING!! Let’s get the always funny Tom Green to direct a movie with a handicapped love interest that we can make fun of and a subplot involving child molestation. Holy Jesus Shit Christ will we clean the fuck up on this. That Tom Green, he’s funny right? Right? The kids love ‘em some Tom Green right? Right?"

The only good thing about this movie is it ended Tom Green’s career and when that happened it showed Drew Barrymore for the shallow star fucker she really is. This movie isn’t just bad it’s disgusting, so much so that the people involved with it should be piped in the knees.


12. Speed Racer (2008):

Another Wachoswki failure this adaptation of the beloved cartoon brings the idea of suck to an entirely new level. It’s almost like a reverse Roger Rabbit where humans get to inhabit a cartoon world. If you want to get the feeling of watching this movie without seeing it here’s what you do. Eat a lot of spicy food and junk food. Wait until your stomach really hurts and a sugar headache begins. Then sit cross-legged and squeeze your head as hard as you can. Don’t stop….DON’T STOP!!

When the food hits badly shit yourself and rub around in it all the while continue squeezing your head. After two straight hours of wallowing in your own feces and squeezing a migraine between your hands stand up and run as fast as you can into a wall.

Actually forget it, the movie is still worse.


11. Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008):

One thing I can say about the last ten years is that film wise it seemed focus on running my childhood. From the travesty of the new Star Wars films to all the remakes to this vile and disgusting entry into the Indiana Jones pantheon nothing that I held sacred as a child was allowed to go unmolested. I don’t know why somebody won’t slap the shit out of George Lucas until he realizes how awful his work as become but apparently it’s not going to happen. From the kick off of this movie it doesn’t feel like an Indiana Jones movie but rather Harrison Ford playing dress up.

Is it Indy protecting himself from a nuclear blast by jumping into a refrigerator that's the worst? The appearance of Shia Labeouf as a Indy’s illegitimate kid named…ready for this…Mutt? Perhaps it was the waste of Cate Blanchett or the spider monkeys that knew to fight the Nazis? Perhaps it was the awful plot featuring a giant crystal alien skull that looked more like a frat bong you’d pick up at Hot Topic than anything else? No, what made it so bad was that it was so forced. This was obviously done to try and make money off of fans wanting to see another Indy movie so the filmmakers threw in everything but the kitchen sink instead of giving us a great story or memorable characters. I’ve long been in the minority of people because I only liked Raiders Of The Lost Ark but even die-hard fans hated this entry.


10. Kill Bill 1 & 2 (2003/2004):

I have to hand it to Quentin Tarantino, it takes a special kind of talent to make a samurai action epic this boring but man does he rise to the occasion. Kill Bill is one great fight scene stretched out over two movies and involves a plot so stupid that even for Tarantino it’s bottom feeding. The main issue is that Tarantino is way too in love with his own dialogue so it never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever ends….EVER!! Scenes go on and on with no end it sight to the point that I was hoping Uma Thurman would kill me.

Tarantino also spends too much time trying to show us how nerdy and cool he is. From the opening section when a male nurse drives a pink and yellow car that actually says Pussy Wagon the film spends entirely too much time proving it cool and thusly forgets to be good. Tarantino has always sucked but this is a new low even for him. A drop dead boring, hard to watch movie about Samurais, how does he do it?


09. The Brown Bunny (2004):

Vincent Gallo needs to be killed.

Not just because he’s awful but because he stands self-righteously upon his crappy work and tells us that if we don’t like it’s because we don’t understand art. What a load of shit. Gallo’s movies suck giant loads of ass and The Brown Bunny is his worst yet. Gallo plays a motorcycle racer on a trip haunted by his ex-girlfriend yadda yadda blah blah blah. This movie is a convoluted boring mess, not art. Gallo claiming this film as art is tantamount to a guy filming child porn in black and white using weird camera angles and saying that's art.

The movie got a lot of attention mainly because in it actress Chloe Sveginy actually blows Gallo in one scene. The ironic part is that if Chloe was sucking my cock while I was watching this I’d still hate it. Fuck you Vincent Gallo, fuck you.


08. Revenge Of The Sith (2005):

I know all of these movies blew chunks but I chose this one because it was the last and the worst. It was also Lucas’s last chance to try and redeem these films to which he failed miserably. The same wooden dialogue, bad plotting and horrible direction that plagued the first two are apparent in this one as well. What makes this film worse than the others is that Lucas minimizes the turn of Anakin to the Dark Side to such a point that it makes no sense. One second Anakin is crying for having killed Mace Windu then literally five seconds later he’s on his knees pledging eternal devotion to the Emperor. Five minutes from that Anakin is killing kids. What?

Star Wars fans waited for twenty years to view Anakin’s turn to evil and this what we got for it? I’d also like to just lend a mental note to Lucas that a fully armored out Darth Vader screaming “Nooooo” is fucking lame. The birth of Luke and Leia is rushed to the point that it negates some important scenes in the original trilogy. This film and the two before it have rendered me a non Star Wars fan, something I never thought would happen.


07. Saw (2004):

I’m all for suspending disbelief and even accepting that modern horror movies aren’t scary but Saw is so fucking stupid nothing works to ignore it. Let’s see the main killer, riddled with bone cancer, manages to set up elaborate traps and beat up cops. The killer also manages to stay absolutely still on the floor of a dungeon while his two latest victims go back and forth trying to escape. Those points are silly but not my main problem.

The main issue I have with the film is that the Saw killer is doing this to teach people a lesson that don’t appreciate all they have. Then for some reason he forces a hospital orderly that was never anything but nice to him to do terrible things thus rendering his whole motivation pointless. I’ll put it to you this way, the film is so bad and lacks cohesion to a point that the Saw 2 and 3 were mad simply to explain the giant holes in the first one.


06. Grindhouse (2007):

And here folks is yet another Quentin Tarantino failure which also includes a failed film by Robert Rodriguez. The concept here was to make two movies wrapped in one film like the old seventies super gore violence double features and of course it fails. Rodriguez’s film is the better of the two, which is to say his pile of shit doesn’t stink as badly. His zombie movie is too riddled with kooky extras that try to simulate seventies movie watching e.g., cigarette burns, the film melting or flipping up and down, for it to be enjoyable at all.

The real travesty is Tarantino’s crap fest where a guy goes around killing girls by crashing his car into them. Poor Kurt Russell is trapped as the killer who gets himself into full on automobile accidents in order to kill people. Forget that this is the most illogical idea ever (wouldn’t cops impound his car after say the third accident) the last section is some of the worst filmmaking ever. Russell’s next victims just happen to be a gaggle of stuntwomen who fight back and suddenly this guy who crashes himself into cars is crying a saying he’s sorry because they do fight back. Tarantino can’t write, he can’t direct, STOP giving him movies please!!


05. Hostel (2005):

Further proof that Eli Roth needs to have his hands chopped off to keep him from ever making films again comes Hostel. This film is a pointless, mean spirited gore fest that sucks so badly if I ever meet Roth I will kick the shit out of him and take back the price of admission. The “plot” centers on some kids kidnapped to be used as torture subjects for rich people. Yep, that’s it, that’s the entire plot. If you really love watching innocent people scream and beg for mercy for an hour then this movie is right up your alley. The funny part is that I had the same reaction watching the movie.

Roth seems to think if he makes a movie gross enough he can hide the fact that he can’t write dialogue or create real characters. This is hack filmmaking on an entirely new level, one that presents style as substance and tries to prove it’s a good film simply because it shocks. Eli Roth wants to be cool; he wants all the gravy that comes with being a filmmaker but without the work. This is why he makes shitty movies and tries to call them “New Horror”.


04. Halloween Remake (2007):

This film should be shown in every film school across the board because it fails on every single level a film can fail on. Acting, writing, directing, plot, cinematography, costumes, and music. Christ I’ll bet the food on the catering truck was fucking spoiled. Rob Zombie takes everything that made the original Halloween so wonderful and gives it a thorough ass raping in order to make what amounts to a bloody stool sample on screen.

Rob Zombie’s writing is so sophomoric it baffles me that the project was green lit. He has no sense of pacing, flow, or how to get characters to sound like anything other than mannequins regurgitating the vile dialogue. The sad thing is for a generation of kids this will be the Halloween they remember.


03. The Happening (2008):

I have never liked anything M. Night Shamalamadingdong has ever done, ever. His first R rated movie The Happening has solidified my assurance that he is a hack director that needs to be stopped. The Happening is about an organized strategic strike by pissed off plants. Yep, that’s who’s killing everybody, plants. Plants release a toxin that forces people to kill themselves. Sadly this didn’t include the people involved in making the movie.

The acting is so bad that I literally thought this was all a joke, a big put on by M. Night to see how bad he could fuck with us. The plot is also magical in its complete lack of connections to anything else. No plot point connects to anything else so the movie becomes a mess of bad scenes with acting reminiscent of bad local theater. While not as offensive as the Halloween remake The Happening is another film that fails on every single level possible. Look at it this way, I could watch Zooey Deschanel pick lint from her toes and be happy but I couldn’t stand her for one second in this movie.


02. Battlefield Earth (2000):

This is not only one of the worst movies of the decade this is one of the worst movies ever made. Imagine Heaven’s Gate but only the space version. I suppose basing a movie off of a novel by L Ron Hubbard the inventor of the Scientology cult would seem like a bad idea except when you’re a blind follower of said cult. Enter John Travolta and his empty eyed mannerisms to save the project and star in it.

The plot, if you can call it that, involves Travolta as a giant alien with dreads and Rob Zombie clothes who ends up fighting the Forest Whitaker dreadlocked alien with Rob Zombie clothes for the control of Earth, or something like that. Battlefield Earth is a bad sci-fi adventure dreamed up by 12 year olds on a lazy Saturday given a huge budget and star power. I can’t believe after this insipid drivel came out that people still flock to Scientology. I will say this for it though; if you get high and watch it Battlefield Earth is laugh out loud funny.


01. Surveillance (2008):

Well this is it, the worst goddamn movie of the last ten years. This giant smelly piece of shit beats out Glitter, Deuce Bigalow and all the other front-runners as the absolute worst thing committed to film in this decade, maybe in any other. Mean spirited, badly directed, stupid, violent, horribly written, badly edited, this film is the absolute slimy bottom scraping of the film world. Bill Pullman and the rest of the cast should have their Equity cards revoked and be forbidden from acting in anything else simply for their association with this movie.

The best is that it’s the second movie directed by David Lynch’s hack fuck daughter Jennifer Lynch who took a fifteen-year break after her last film abortion Boxing Helena. I’m not a big fan of David Lynch but at least the man has style, ability and flair. Jennifer Lynch is to filmmaking what a blind surgeon with three fingers is to brain surgery. Lynch should be forbidden from ever making movies again as well as having a recurring fine each year for even putting this movie out.

Plot wise this film has nothing to do with anything. Lynch just wants to make her point so she tosses in characters and moments that don’t work simply to get to the next plot point. The end twist (which is that Bull Pullman and his partner aren’t FBI agents they are actually the killers…there I spared you) is easy to call but you’re brain can’t wrap itself around anything so stupid so you keep denying that’s what’s gonna happen. When it does you’re left with a blind rage to feed everybody involved with Surveillance to tiny maggots so that their deaths are long and painful. Fuck Jennifer Lynch, fuck her bullshit movie and fuck all the people that put it out or showed it. Shame on you!!

Well that’s it, my best and worst list for the last ten years. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Happy Movie Going
Iann

Thursday, December 17, 2009

FRANK FRAZETTA'S KIDS NEED TO BE KILLED.




So how is this for scum shitty from the third level of hell. While genius artists Frank Frazetta is suffering from dementia at the age of 81 his kids are circling like sharks drawn to fresh blood. Three of Frank's kids want to sell off all of his paintings and pocket the cash while his other son Frank Jr. is awaiting trial for breaking into the family museum to try and steal the paintings. Even more bizarre is that Frank Jr is claiming he broke in to keep the paintings from being sold by his greedy siblings. Here's a news report on the whole weird ordeal.




I don't know who to believe here all I can see is the total lack of respect Frazetta's kids have for who the man was to the world of art. The fact that three of Frazetta's kids would callously sell off his art is simply reprehensible. I hope Frank JR was being straight about wanting to return control to his dad but this doesn't paint a great picture for him.

Meanwhile one of the greatest artists ever suffers from dementia.

I hate everything

WANT PROOF THE X-MEN MOVIES ARE IN TROUBLE--HERE IT IS




Remember Bryan Singer? He was the big time director that made X-Men 1 & 2 and then jumped ship to direct Superman Returns. Well Singer's take on Superman wasn't very well received and ever since he's been trying to get back into the good graces of the X-Men movie folks so he could come back and try to save his career. Meanwhile the X-Men movie folks are in just as much trouble after a two shot failure of X-Men inspired films.

X-Men 3 was a travesty, a joke, a bad punchline to a joke nobody wanted to hear. Brett Ratner totally fucked the entire X-Men series into the ground and they weren't really that good to begin with. Then came Wolverine which made lots of money but was so bad it gave new meaning to the word bad. People were so disappointed with both of those films that it looked as if the X-men franchise was in trouble. Then there was the stirring that X-Men: Origins Magneto was the next movie and the end seemed imminent.

So now the two have merged to try and save both Singer's career and the franchise. This week Singer announced he'd been tapped to direct X-Men: Origins: First Class, a prequel of the first X-Men movie showing how the Xavier school came to be and the falling out between Charles and Magneto. Here's what Singer had to say:


"This is the formative years of Xavier and Magneto, and the formation of the school and where there relationship took a wrong turn," [Bryan] Singer said. "There is a romantic element, and some of the mutants from 'X-Men' will figure into the plot, though I don't want to say which ones. There will be a lot of new mutants and a great villain."

I don't know, a prequel? Really? Do we need to see what happened before the X-Men movie when truth be told what's needed is a 4th X-Men movie to try and right the whole series again. I'm also worried Singer will be so afraid he's going to make another Superman Returns he doesn't let himself be himself on this one.

I guess only time will tell

THE RUNAWAYS TRAILER BRINGS MIXED FEELINGS



This new Runaways trailer has hit me on a couple of levels, which I think may be a good thing. First of all I was happy to see that they actually made Kristan Stewart look pretty much just like Joan Jett in that era. The original photos looked pretty bad but on screen I'm digging what I see. I also like the way the film is shot. It's blown out and grimy looking, much the same as the era The Runaways came from.

I only have two issues with the trailer. The first is that it makes The Runaways film seem like it might be a surface only docudrama. Most of the time when Hollywood whips out movies like this they are just an edited series of events without much digging beneath the stories we've all heard (see Walk The Line for a great example of this). I'm hoping The Runaways is a little deeper than the trailer lets on but who knows. My other big problem is that I'm now sexually attracted to Dakota Fanning and that makes me feel kind of dirty. Yeah, well, you view the trailer and tell me I'm wrong.

IRON MAN 2 TRAILER KIND OF MAKES ME WANT TO SEE IT.



So I was not a big fan of Iron Man. I didn't like Robert Downey JR as Tony Stark, I thought the Pepper Potts character was played all wrong but mostly I was just bored by the fact that it was a long American Chopper episode in that they did nothing but build the goddamn suit for the whole fucking movie. I kept waiting for that dude with the mustache from American Chopper to walk in screaming

"PAULY lets build an Iron Man Biiiiike"

With Iron Man leaving my cold my excitement for Iron Man 2 was nill. This week the new trailer was released and while I'm not one hundred percent sold I'm more on board than I was a month ago. I still think Robert Downey JR sucks as Tony Stark (You complete me? Really?) but the last ten seconds of the trailer make me want to see this movie. I also think Whiplash will be good if the S&M shirtless number we're seeing is only the first incarnation of his outfit. Add that to Scarlett Johanson in tight leather and things are looking up for the movie version of old shell head. Here's the trailer

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A PRETTY AWESOME LOOK AT THE DISNEY/MARVEL COMBINATION



This really needs no words.


Kisses
Iann

NEW STUFF ON TRON IS LEAVING ME TORN




See, ya see, look at that photo and tell me the upcoming Tron: Legacy movie doesn't look like it's going to kick ass. Today this photo and a teaser poster for the movie were released, both of which are killing me. Not in my usual way of despair and hatred but in the fact that this movie won't hit the screens until December of 2010. Just as I was sitting down and choosing a body lotion with which to use to pleasure myself over these new Tron goodies my extensively huge cock (yeah, so forget what she said) suddenly went flaccid when more Tron news hit the airwaves.

Apparently Daft Punk are going to be handling soundtrack duties.

Well that fucking blows giant chunks of shit all over my reality don't it!? For those of you who don't know Daft Punk is this techno-y, dance dance revolution, move on the floor fucking lame party band that had a few miserable hits a while back. While I don't much care whose body they're rocking I don't want them mucking about with my Tron movie. Tron may have flashy lights and cool synthetic looking sets but no, it is not a giant Dance Club. If the producers try and turn the vibe of the movie into that in order to sell a few more tickets it's going to suck ass.

See the computer world Tron lives in is a scary and evil place, one that by this time has grown exponentially in size and power. If the filmmakers remove that element just to make it cool they will have another Sin City on their hands. The Sin City comics made Sin City look like an evil hellhole that you never would want to be caught in, a place so devoid of a moral center just walking into its limits would change you forever. The film made it look like a stylized dance club where celebrities went to try and pretend they were cool, violent, street thugs. All the danger was sapped out of it as was the excitement leaving mainly famous people trying to be cool. I don't want Tron to go through that same transformation, it'll ruin it.

However, I am getting my grove back looking at the movie poster. Think it's wrong to feel a warm tingle over a poster? Well buddy boy check this shit out:

Friday, December 4, 2009

YET ANOTHER CLUE SPIDER-MAN 4 WILL SUCK




Let's be honest with ourselves as a people. Let's really boil down the reality of what we know collectively and agree on at least one constant in the universe, one thing that can be built onto to hold the fabric of reality as we know it. This is an absolute truth that, while disputed by some, is proven again and again by the examples. This harmonic convergence of circumstances that we can call reality is this:

The Spider-Man movies fucking suck.

Yes I know, it's a simple reality but one that can no longer be denied. The Spider-Man movies have been clunky, badly paced, horribly written and basically an affront to anything that was ever good about Spider-Man at all. Think I'm wrong? Think I've just got a big case of sour grapes? OK there buster crab let's check out the evidence and see what the fuck might be up. I have a feeling once I go all CSI on these "films", then put on my sunglasses and walk away while The Who screams in the background we'll know whose right.

First of all they made the Green Goblin look like a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger and had him cackle like a 1930s villain standing over a damsel tied to train tracks. While her alabaster breasts heaved amazingly in the sweaters and her fire engine hair made you want to show her your own self-made spider webs Kirsten Dunst sucked as Mary Jane. She just walked like a zombie through the entire film mumbling and screaming. Then there was the badly executed sub-plot with Harry Osbourne played with drunken rich kid boredom by James "One Note" Franco.

Then came Spider-Man two which was just boring, unendingly boring. All of the "I'm not gonna be Spider-Man" stuff plodded through without any point. The only worthwhile part of that movie was Alfred Molina who was way underused and then killed off? Why would they kill off Doc Ock? What fucking possible point does that make?

Finally there's Spider-Man 3 which was such a shit storm even fans had to hold their noses. Emo Peter Parker, a dance sequence, Topher Grace as Venom?, A sympathetic Sandman? Plus the most egregious sin of all introducing and then totally wasting the character of Gwen Stacey, only one of the most important people in the history of Spider-Man. It was like Sam Raimi and his buddies walked into the theater, pulled their pants down and took a big shit. Then stayed around and smelled it and rubbed it on the walls then called it a movie.

That all being said the most honest appraisal of our current culture is that Shit Floats so obviously these movies made huge bank off of mall crawling idiots and frat jocks who just bought a Batman t-shirt from Urban Outfitters. With all of that money yet another sequel is spawning forward: Spider-Man 4.

To make sure we understand how stupid the filmmakers find us, Spider-Man 4 is rumored to not only feature one of the stupidest of all Spidey's villains "The Vulture" but also something called The Vultress. So, let me wrap my fucking head around this latest pebble of Hollywood genius. Instead of giving us The Lizard (which seems natural since Dr. Conner has been in two of the four movies) we'll be handed the old man in the big flying suit. Oh good, just what I've always wanted to see, Spidey slap it out with the geriatric crowd. Apparently John Malkovich is in talks to play The Vulture which I guess is as good as anything else they could come up with.

Besides the massive suckatude of that the rumor that Anne Hathaway would be playing Felicia Hardy AKA The Black Cat is now being debunked. In what can only be called the stupidest move in Superhero movies since allowing Shaq to play Steel, Hathaway is apparently going to play The Vultress, a female Vulture.

I will repeat that

Anne Hathaway might be The Vultress, a female Vulture villain.

Well that's a good fuck idea, that took a whole bunch of bright thinking on the part of the reprehensible swine aka producers. I'd maybe give Sam Raimi the benefit of the doubt except he's become just another Hollywood victim, a guy who fell from grace by believing his own hype. Want proof, go watch Evil Dead 2 and then Drag Me To Hell and tell me two very different souls didn't made those films. A Vultress? Seriously, seriously......FUCKING SERIOUSLY!!!? It's not bad enough we'll watch one silly guy in a skin tight Vulture suit, we now will have to watch Hathaway in one and trying to be sexy. Sorry chimp, it's hard to be sexy in GIANT FUCKING WINGS!!!!!

Why not just find the guy who played Hawk on Buck Rogers and let him play Brother Vulture. it'll be a whole goddamn avian theme that Spidey will have to do battle with. I'm bummed that they might go this route but I'm not surprised. Marvel has been so busy jerking itself off with lotion purchased by Disney dollars they could care less what happens to their characters.

I hate everything

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

MY TOP 15 ALBUMS OF 2009




Technically 2009 has 29 days left but it's close enough for me to list my top 15 albums for this year. It was a tough decision but these are the records that moved me this year. I hope you dig the list.



15. Russian Circles: Geneva




14. Wolves In The Throne Room: Black Cascade




13. Death: For The Whole World To See




12. Sunn O))): Monoliths & Dimensions




11. Pelican: What We All Come To Need




10. Doomriders: Darkness Comes Alive




09. Tom Waits: Glitter & Doom Live




08. Gentlemen Losers: Dustland



07. Shrinebuilder: S/T




06. Rakim: The Seventh Sign




05. Baroness: Blue Album




04. Mos Def: The Ecstatic




03. Helen Money: In Tune




02. Woody Guthrie Box Set




01. Antony & The Johnsons: The Crying Light

Monday, November 30, 2009

THE ROAD - MY REVIEW



Let me start this whole thing by saying that The Road is one of my favorite books of all time. It began my love of Cormac McCarthy and I, like most, became very skeptical at the idea of a movie version. The book is so personal, so intimate that I couldn't see how filmmakers would be able to bring that to the big screen without getting caught in the trappings of "post apocalyptic" cliches. Thankfully director John Hillcoat has decided he'd rather make a wonderful movie than a money maker. The Road isn't going to be a huge hit because it is bleak, unforgiving and relentless. This isn't the post apocalyptic movie with a pocket of survivors building a new world or someplace where the sun still shines and the grass is still green. This is the end of the world as we know it and there is nothing to do but survive each day.

The Road tells the tale of a father (Viggo Mortensen) and son (Kodi Smit-Mcphee) trying desperately to make it further south to the coast where the father believes will be more hospitable living conditions. Through their journey the father is torn between teaching his son the harsh realities needed to survive and not driving the humanity from him completely. The world they venture through is a horrible place covered totally in ash where humans keep other humans in living storage to eat and trying to make friends could kill you. The boy and his father who are never given names exist solely for each other and that devotion is as much warmth as the movie allows you to have. Much like the father and son the audience lives only to see the world through their eyes.

The hardest part of adapting a book like The Road into a film is simply that, well, it isn't a book. In McCarthy's novel the focus between the boy and his father is so nuanced and written so poetically that you're allowed to forget the back drop. The human story is all there is and it never gets lost in the shadow of what post apocalyptic America must look like. Though writer Joe Penhall's screenplay is astonishingly good as well as pretty faithful it's still bringing the written word to the screen. No matter how intimate the shots or the scenes are it's still against a back drop that, now visible, is hard to ignore. This could've been an issue that sunk the picture if not for the performances which continue to bring the focus back to the relationships.

Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-Mcphee keep The Road anchored to reality simply by allowing you to believe that what they see is simply their reality. They have now awe, no surprise, the horrors we are witnessing for the first time are common place to them. By keeping that sense of reality going the two actors are free to bring life to their relationship and they do it in spades. I've read some reviews that state Mortensen is one note through the movie but they either didn't see the film or slept through large chunks of it. I would also make sure you don't go to the restroom or you might miss where Robert Duvall steps on screen and does more in five minutes than most actors do in an entire movie.

The other thing that makes The Road work is how Hillcoat manages to weave striking imagery without beating you over the head with it. One of my favorite instances is when Mortensen and Mcphee are walking through a city and for a brief flash they're stepping over bodies with money all around them as well as watches and jewelry. It only lasts a millisecond but says so much on how fast things can change. That kind of imagery is all through the film as are powerhouse moments that grab your heart and squeeze it until you're chest hurts. If you watch the scene when Mortensen finally lets go of the memories of his wife (played admirably by Charlize Theron) and you're not moved then you should leave the theater and find out what time Old Dogs or New Moon is playing.

I've heard some critics say that The Road is too bleak and too unforgiving and that there is no hope in the movie and still others balk that there's too much humanity at the end because of a dog (yep, that's what they said). While they argue for snob points they've missed the point. The Road is exactly what an adaptation should be, the perfect blending of the written word and the visual medium. This movie could not have been the book simply because it's a movie so all liberties taken were more out of necessity than marketing. The Road manages to keep all the intimacy and humanity of the novel against this visual backdrop that would swallow lesser material. The Road is the first film in a long time that reminds me how once upon a time film was an artistic medium that had the power to change the world.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

THE TWO BEST VIDEOS I'VE SEEN IN MANY MONTHS



The first is a Muppet cover of Bohemian Rhapsody, the second is a Twilight movie I'd actually go see. No need for long explanations, just watch.






Thanks to Boing Bing and Topless Robot for these