Thursday, March 26, 2009


I was serious when I told all my friends that Twilight is so bad that watching it can make me a better director, I really, really believe that. I truly can’t believe that a movie this bad made it into the marketplace as a serious movie, a movie that has managed a large following and a quickly turned around sequel.

What I can safely say is that the television screen is much kinder to Twilight than the theatre screen was – but that’s not saying much. I still think my favorite thing about Twilight might be the color palette.

One of the cardinals rules that Catherine Hardwicke broke in her directing of Twilight is one of the biggest no-brainers in the book: when you are trying to convey important or intense emotion you stay on your characters, usually in a close-up or some other way that makes the character front and center – you as an audience member need to feel what they are feeling and you have to SEE the character to do that. During most of the intensely emotional scenes in the film Hardwicke not only decides to edit constantly so you can’t keep a beat on the characters, but she also likes to trail the shots far way from the actors and into the scenery or at such awkward angles that it pulls the audience out of the moment because they have to reorient themselves to what they see. IT robs the film of any chance for the audience to emotionally connect to characters or situations and what’s the saddest is that this happens the most when the two main characters are together.

An advantage to the DVD is that one of the special features is extended scenes; the disadvantage is that Hardwicke decides to introduce these scenes. This is a disadvantage because Hardwicke explains that these scenes were shortened because they hurt the pacing of the film. I watched the extended scenes. What the scenes contained can be explained simply in two words: character development. There was a conversation between Bella and her father that explained more of their relationship as well as revealing that the town folk are wary of the Cullen’s, Bella and Edward discuss his blood thirst for her, and two more scenes that allow more time for the main couple to actually have a reason to fall for each other. Cutting these out is an amateurish move by the director because she felt the movie was moving too slow. I am not a fan of exposition, but what Hardwicke cut can’t even really be considered exposition – it’s moments that help motivate your characters and make them and their world three dimensional.

Though the films sequel New Moon is my favorite book of the series, after Twilight the only thing that can make me excited about the film is the fact that Hardwicke and her entire creative team has been replaced.

Edward Cullen: What did you expect? Coffins and dungeons and moats?
Isabella Swan: No, not the moats.
Edward Cullen: Not the moats.

The Hitch-Hiker

The Hitch-Hiker
Originally uploaded by jovisala47
Gil & Roy are on their first road-trip away from their wife and kids in a very long time and decide to deviate from their planned course; unfortunately, the men also decide to do a good deed and they pick up a hitch-hiker. This new passenger turns out to be escaped convict Emmett Meyers who is on a highway killing spree as he flees. Emmett takes the men into Mexico and the men are hostages as Emmett mentally tortures them and attempts to rip their decency and camaraderie to shreds.

The Hitch-Hiker is based on a true story and decides to announce this to the audience before even the titles play. This may not be the same movie it would be if made today (the gore & torture aspect would be played up in today’s horror-porn market), but it is nonetheless a biting and scary picture of a real life situation. Emmett is as amoral and insane as they come, and Gil & Roy were just out minding their own business and they pay the price for being good citizens.

What is really enjoyable about The Hitch-Hiker is that it is a straight out cautionary tale. Gil & Roy are punished because instead of doing what they told their wives they were going to be doing they decide to do something else and the men spend several days being held at the mercy of a mad man not knowing if they’ll make it out the other end alive. This story is as hard-boiled as it gets and even if it is a true story it is noir through and through.

I will be completely honest and say that until a few years ago I had no idea who Ida Lupino was; I was completely shocked to find out she was the only female director to be working in the studio system. Lupino made movies when it was even more than a boys game than it is today and she made them well. The Hitch-Hiker was the first Ida Lupino movie I’ve ever seen but it definitely won’t be the last. I always thought the only true woman directors I could idolize were modern ones like Kathryn Bigelow, but I am thrilled to find a strong, talented female filmmaker from decades past.

Director: Ida Lupino
Writers: Ida Lupino, Collier Young
Roy Collins: Edmond O’Brien
Gilbert Bowen: Frank Lovejoy
Emmett Meyers: William Talman

Roy Collins: You stink, Myers! You smell! Just like your clothes! Sure, you'll make it to Graymas, but they'll catch up with you and put you out of your misery. You haven't got a chance. You haven't got a thing except that gun! You'd better hang onto it because without it, you're finished!

Monday, March 23, 2009

I Love You, Man

Peter is a girlfriend guy; he doesn’t have many male friends and everyone knows it, he just gets along with females more than the average dude and he never thinks anything of it. When Peter gets engaged to his girlfriend Zooey he overhears she and her friends discussing his lack of male friends and decides to rectify this. Peter takes uses his brother, the internet and any kind of interaction he can to start meeting guys in an effort to find his best man. In the perfect example of opposites attract Peter finally meets Sydney who is a dude’s dude to his very core. However, what Peter doesn’t count on is the fact that by finding a best man he’s added a third person into the relationship he has with his fiancée.

I can’t believe I Love You, Man was as unique and original as it is; I can’t believe it hasn’t been made before. I Love You, Man is the flip side of Swingers - it’s the men a little further along in their lives as they become friends, rather than watching the hijinks of the men who already are each others lives.

What is really unique and fun about I Love You, Man is the sheer representations of “man” that are in the movie; each is unique, complete and you clearly know each of the types. Peter is the man who hasn’t accepted his manhood, Sydney is the man that is too much of a man for his own good, Barry is the man’s man who wants poker nights and a sexy wife, Robbie is the straightest gay man you know, Tevin is the cheesy, too-primped man slut who wants to prove his superiority, and Lou Ferrigno is the Hulk – the types go on. Each of these characters represent a personality and a relationship not just a joke and a punch line which is what makes this comedy original and funny.

The jokes in this movie are just as fun as the trailer promises. Jon Favreau’s Barry is the funniest prick in film and one of the funniest yet most disgusting scenes deals with a drinking game between he and Peter. I also love the jokes that you get in the film because Robbie is gay. I feel like I can’t talk about the best parts of the movie because this is a new release and I don’t want to spoil the comedy for those that are going to see it.

To sum up I Love You, Man I’d have to say that it’s a “chick flick” for men. The standard formula of boy-meets-girl applies, but it’s guy-meets-guy – in a not gay way.

Director: John Hamburg
Writers: John Hamburg & Larry Levin
Peter Klaven: Paul Rudd
Zooey: Rashida Jones
Hailey: Sarah Burns
Denise: Jamie Pressly
Barry: Jon Favreau
Joyce Klaven: Jane Curtin
Oswald Klaven: J.K. Simmons
Robbie Klaven: Andy Samberg

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Ray & Claire are spies that are tired of the game; they meet on a chance assignment and continue to pursue each other afterwards until they come up with an idea – the decide to get out of the government game and get into the corporate one – they are going to play a mega corporation and sell one of it’s secrets. All Claire and Ray have to do is find the right company and set up the con, all while trying to learn to trust each other because they’ve fallen in love.

Tony Gilroy quickly came onto my radar with Michael Clayton, and Duplicity is a spectacular follow-up to the Oscar nominated film. It is easy to make a complicated film, but it is hard to make a complicated film that actually makes complete sense and Duplicity makes sense. The film is smart, witty, quirky and utterly planned & effortless.

As I watched Duplicity I kept thinking that something in the film wasn’t clicking, that for all the complications and turns the plot was making that it just wasn’t what it should be. I should not have doubted Tony Gilroy. Everything that I thought was missing, everything that I hoped might be in the movie was in the movie – but it wasn’t revealed until the end. This is a movie that is going to rise higher in people’s esteem on repeated viewings. The last five or so minutes of the film not only give the film an entire other level, but the banter between Ray and Claire is some of the best in the film – while a bit more subtle the lines for me carried much the same importance as the last lines in Some Like It Hot. The ending of this film distinguish it from any heist movie that has come out in the past few decades.

Director & Writer: Tony Gilroy
Ray Koval: Clive Owen
Claire Stenwick: Julia Roberts
Howard Tully: Tom Wilkinson
Richard Garsik: Paul Giamatti
Duke: Denis O’Hare

Blazing Saddles

There are two rules in my world that apply to comedies: 1 – there are very few genuinely good comedies & 2 – no one does comedy like Mel Brooks. I think Blazing Saddles is a perfect comedy, one of Mel Brooks best. By any other filmmaker this film would be an insanely racist film, yet because Brooks doesn’t make fun of one race, he makes fun of everyone – Jew, African, Chinese, Irish, American – Brooks doesn’t care.

Blazing Saddles is one of the only movies I can recite almost word for word; when I watch the film it is practically a sing-along. The entire concept of the film is funny to me; the pioneer town of Rock Ridge gets the first black sheriff because the lt. governor wants to piss off the residents and drive them out so the rail road can go through the town, this sparks madness in all the best comic forms.

My favorite character in Blazing Saddles has always been The Waco Kid (aka Jim) played by Gene Wilder. Wilder starred in several of Mel Brooks films and his style of comedy perfectly blends with Books; Wilder has a sense of understated exaggeration in Blazing Saddles that makes him the perfect partner for Cleavon Little’s Sheriff Bart.

I challenge anyone to watch Blazing Saddles and not laugh hysterically at the end of the film. Brooks somehow manages to make breaking the fourth wall logical to his world, carry on the comedy in a way you didn’t expect and then push you back into the original film world without skipping a beat. It all works because of how much Brooks commits to it; it’s perfectly summe dup by Slim Pickens when his character tells another actor “Screw you, I work for Mel Brooks!”

Director: Mel Brooks
Writers: Mel Brooks, Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor & Alan Uger
Bart: Cleavon Little
Jim: Gene Wiler
Taggart: Slim Pickens
Hedley Lamarr: Harvey Korman
Lili Von Shtupp: Madeline Kahn
Gov. Lepetomane: Mel Brooks
Mongo: Alex Karras

Bart: Are we awake?
Jim: We're not sure. Are we... black?
Bart: Yes, we are.
Jim: Then we're awake... but we're very puzzled.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Some Like It Hot

The Livin' End
Originally uploaded by Dill Pixels
Aside from being a Wilder obsessed person I had to see Some Like It Hot because it’s consistently considered as one of the top films of all time, it also has one of the most famous last scenes in film history.

Probably the most famous of all of Wilder’s films Some Like It Hot revolves around Joe & Jerry, poor musicians trying to make a living in Chicago in 1929. Initially, the men are employed at a speak easy and narrowly escape a police raid, the next day they have a second stroke of bad luck when they witness one of Chicago’s most notorious mobsters take out 7 people. Knowing they are hunted by the mob Joe and Jerry escape with a band gig all the way to sunny Florida, the catch is that it’s an all girl band.

Perhaps what is the best selling point of this movie is the wit and sizzle that Wilder manages to get out of every line, exaggerated look and comic double-take that Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon deliver. This is a comedy that is a melting pot of perfect elements; Some Like It Hot is the perfect mixture of drama, comedy, and gender confusion.

Almost everyone that knows anything about the history of film knows the last line, the last reaction of Some Like It Hot - Jack Lemmon reveals to his beau that he is in fact a man and the response is merely “Well, nobody’s perfect.” It’s considered one of the best moments in cinema, I saw it before film school, I studied about it while in school, and have watched numerous AFI specials where it is brought up. I really didn’t think that after all that saturation I would find the end of the movie funny; I was so surprised at how largely I reacted to the final scene – especially the final line.

I kid you not, if you think you don’t want to see Some Like It Hot because you know the joke already just bring yourself to watch the film. I can almost guarantee that you will be laughing through the entire film and the end will grab you like you’ve never seen the joke before.

Director: Billy Wilder
Writers: Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond
Osgood: Joe E. Brown
Joe: Tony Curtis
Jerry: Jack Lemmon
Sugar: Marilyn Monroe

Jerry: Will you look at that! Look how she moves! It's like Jell-O on springs. Must have some sort of built-in motor or something. I tell you, it's a whole different sex!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cassandra's Dream

I don’t think Cassandra’s Dream is a movie you watch and enjoy, but I got over that qualifier for a movie long before film school; there are quite a few movies that are more than worth seeing but you can’t say they were an enjoyable experience. Cassandra’s Dream is best described as a Greek tragedy or human morality tale, these characters are set on a self destructive path and keep pursuing it because they think there are no other options than simply plowing straight ahead.

In the film Ian & Terry are incredibly close brothers; Terry constantly gets in trouble with gambling and drinking but it otherwise happy with his life, where Ian is being forced into managing the family restaurant and is always dreaming of the bigger and better. However, when Terry becomes in debt over his head to loan sharks, and Ian meets an actress he wants to escape into the Hollywood life with both must ask their uncle for money; their uncle agrees to help them with anything as long as they need it because of their family bond but he also asks for a favor – he needs them to kill an ex-associate.

What I can really say about this movie is that it is well crafted and meticulously planned by Woody Allen; while you know all of his characters are headed for inevitable doom you still are able to connect with them empathetically and want Terry and Ian to be able to dig their way out of their mistakes. Cassandra’s Dream deals with not just the toll taking a life creates in these brothers, but the inner turmoil they experience from the moment they are asked to do it. Allen also does an excellent job juxtaposing the two brothers as each has an incredibly different reaction to the situation they are thrust into.

I am starting to feel that I have a personal preference towards Allen’s comedies, but I do think he makes really good dramas. His dramas tend to be just a bit too heavy for me.

Director & Writer: Woody Allen
Ian: Ewan McGregor
Terry: Colin Farrell
Uncle Howard: Tom Wilkinson

Saturday, March 14, 2009

BIll & Ted's Excellent Adventure

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is perhaps best summed up by the movies tag line – “history is about to be rewritten by two guys who can’t spell”. In 1988 San Dimas Bill & Ted are trying to start their band Wyld Stallions and about to flunk out of high school unless they get an A+ on their oral history presentation; Rufus comes back from the future to set Bill and Ted on the path to an A+ to avoid their imminent separation (which would be disastrous for the future) and lends them a time machine to aid in their history report.

I love this movie. Perhaps the best thing about Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is that they don’t pay attention to the traditional rules of time travel. These kids do anything and everything in time and by not being hindered by the rules we have collectively set on time travel the jokes and silliness play funnier and fresher than they could in any other time travel movie.

This is one movie where rules are out the window. If you expect any kind of logic or continuity to how things should logically happen you will be terribly confused. It is best to just sit back, relax and let Bill & Ted have their world and just enjoy the jokes as they come.

One thing that struck me as I watched this movie again is the fact that George Carlin is in it; Carlin died recently and honestly, I really enjoyed that man. While he does have a only a small part in the film I really think that no one else could make Rufus so memorable.

Go watch Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure to catch a slice of the 1980’s that was pretty dang memorable and remember

San Dimas

High School

Football Rules!

Director: Stephen Herek
Writers: Chris Matheson & Ed Solomon
Ted: Keanu Reeves
Bill: Alex Winter
Rufus: George Carlin

Ted: Dude, are you sure we should be doing this?
Bill: Ted, you and I have witnessed many things, but nothing as bodacious as what just happened. Besides, we told ourselves to listen to this guy.
Ted: What if we were lying?
Bill: Why would we lie to ourselves?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Snow White: A Tale of Terror

I had another round of remote roulette – it’s been a strange day. This time I spotted a strange little movie I’d seen only once before, Snow White: A Tale of Terror.

I am a person that love mythology and fairytales in all shapes and sizes, but let me tell you this one is a little too dark and strange for me – and I am a person that loves the Grimm brothers gothic tomes. But when they made A Tale of Terror they not only made Snow White dark, but they changed elements of the story and I both applaud the filmmakers for this and question it.

In Snow White: A Tale of Terror Snow White is a noble woman (not a princess) named Lilly, the dwarves are gone and replaced by dirty miners, and the prince is not a prince but an arranged marriage, and the real “prince” is actually one of the miners. But by far the strangest thing in this version of the tale is the “queen” played by Sigourney Weaver. Weaver plays her well, but this version of the character is twisted, into the dark arts, and mentally deranged. There is also a strange sexual theme running through this whole movie that just doesn’t seem to fit. I understand that the original subtext of the Grimm story does have some sexual subtext, but this is downright overt.

I suppose I recommend that you catch this one if you are into fairy tales, but other than that this film can be forgotten.

Director: Michael Cohn
Writers: Thomas Szollosi & Deborah Serra
Lady Hoffman: Sigourney Weaver
Lord Hoffman: Sam Neill
Lilly Hoffman: Monica Keena
Will: Gil Bellows

Lady Hoffman: You seem quite alive, for a little wench who's been rotting in the ground. I felt you stir. The moment you took your first breath, it was like a knife in my heart.
Lilly: You have no heart.
Lady Hoffman: That's too simple.

Tropic Thunder

Tropic Thunder 3
Originally uploaded by Deadly x Design
Tropic Thunder is still one of the funniest movies to have come out in the last decade no matter how many times I watch it; in fact the more I watch it the more I become impressed with the skills of director and actor Ben Stiller. I still do not quite understand how you direct a movie in which you also act in but Stiller does this in every film he directs and Tropic Thunder shows all the skill of a veteran director.

I enjoy watching Tropic Thunder with people that know very little about it because it seems like they never expect what is actually in the film. Sometimes it’s a cameo like Tom Cruise that surprises them and sometimes it’s merely the nuts and bolts of the film. As my younger brother expressed to me last night after watching it for the first time; Tropic Thunder makes no logical sense, yet somehow it’s all corralled in a way that makes the story make perfect sense and become utterly hilarious.

I truly cannot recommend this film enough and the more I watch it the more I become firmly aware that not only is the in my top five favorite films of 2008, but I think perhaps Robert Downey Jr. should have gotten the best supporting actor Oscar.

Kirk Lazarus: Being an actor's no different than being a rugby player or a construction worker, save for the fact that my tools are the mechanisms that trigger human emotion.

Ghostbusters 2

In Ghostbusters 2 the entire paranormal crew is back only this time the fame that exploded around them five years earlier has turned on them and they are now hasbeens that not even the mayor they rescued will take calls from. However, the paranormal can always be relied on to shake things up and it does as Dana’s infant son has strange things that begin to occur around him and the boys uncover a literal river of negativity running under the city that is causing more of the paranormal to come out.

I don’t think that Ghostbusters 2 is as funny as the original, but it is definitely a worthy effort and makes me wish they might actually partake on a third installment. I was quite impressed in the follow up film that the writers chose to make the boys less successful; it definitely upped the comedy factor in a few senses and I have to say that I really laughed out loud when it was revealed that Venkman was now a host of a psychic TV talk show that no one will go on.

I have to give credit where credit is due and compliment Sigourney Weaver. This is a woman who can play just about any role (and has) and shockingly in the Ghostbusters series is a match for Bill Murray, her warm personality versus his dry and dark character is incredibly entertaining and you would not think that could be the case.

I would have to say that there is enough to Ghostbusters 2 to keep the audience entertained, but that if the leads can ever find it in themselves to make a third film in the series it would be adored by fans everywhere.

Director: Ivan Reitman
Writers: Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis
Peter Venkman: Bill Murray
Ray: Dan Aykroyd
Dana: Sigourney Weaver
Egon: Harold Ramis
Louis: Rick Moranis
Winston: Ernie Hudson
Janosz: Peter MacNicol

Ray: Ungrateful little yuppie larva. After everything we did for this city.
Winston: Yeah, we conjured up a hundred-foot marshmallow man, blew the top three floors off an uptown high-rise, and ended up getting sued by every city, county, and state agency in New York.
Ray: Yeah... but what a ride.

Monday, March 9, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

When I heard that the non-fiction, self-help book He’s Just Not That Into You was being made into a movie I rolled my eyes. I totally didn’t understand why that would happen or how it could make a good film. However, now that I’ve seen He’s Just Not That Into You I do have to say that I found the film to be thoroughly enjoyable.

For anyone that’s been living in a cave for the past 5+ years He’s Just Not That Into You is the book that dispels all the romantic mythos that we girls hang onto so tightly, the signals we look for if a guy likes us, the reasons he might not be calling, etc.; the book gives the simple answer – if the guy is not pursing you, he’s just not into you.

To translate this into a movie the screenwriter centers on about 10 characters, all going through various parts and kinds of relationships: Gigi is the single and mingling one who dissects everything from the opposite sex, Connor is hopelessly into Anna, Anna is the hottie who convinces herself the married man will fall for her but dangles the other men in her life on a string, Ben married his college sweetheart Janine but didn’t want to and is trying to find a way out, Alex is the restaurant manager who has shut himself off to the opposite sex thinking he has the game figured out, Neil is the good guy in a committed relationship to Beth but can’t stand the thought of marriage, Beth is the successful working woman who loves Neil but wants a proposal, and Janine senses her marriage is going badly but is distracting herself in every way possible. By using these characters the screenwriter tangles together a complex web of relationships that touches on just about everything under the spectrum of love and life and somehow each and every character manages to undergo a gentle and important arch.

My hat goes off to Ken Kwapis for managing to take such a complex story with a myriad of characters and make it not just into an intelligible movie but an entertaining and charming one. I honestly think that He’s Just Not That Into You is the movie that they were trying to make when Someone Like You was made but He’s Just Not That Into You is infinitely better. I also really enjoyed the transitional device in the film of the “interviews” and titles; it was reminiscent of When Harry Met Sally and worked very well.

One of the best things about this film is the cast. This film has an enormous amount of talent in it and is one of the best ensembles I’ve seen in a very long time.

Director: Ken Kwapis
Writers: Abby Kohn & Marc Silverstein
Gigi: Ginnifer Goodwin
Connor: Kevin Connolly
Anna: Scarlett Johansson
Ben: Bradley Cooper
Alex: Justin Long
Neil: Ben Affleck
Beth: Jennifer Aniston
Janine: Jennifer Connelly
Kelli Ann: Busy Philipps
Mary: Drew Barrymore

Gigi: Maybe his grandma died or maybe he lost my number or is out of town or got hit by a cab...
Alex: Or maybe he is not interested in seeing you again.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


So apparently today is a day that I am playing remote roulette, next on the menu was Honey with Jessica Alba.

The only way I can describe this movie is it is the classic rags-to-riches meets hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold story, minus the hooker. Honey is an incredible dancer that lives in the slums and gets discovered in the club she works at; soon she is dancing her way through the music video industry until she makes the fatal mistake of not sleeping with the director that discovered her and her career ends as abruptly as it began.

This movie is the cliché, but it’s still kinda cute. I wouldn’t pay to see this movie, but it wasn’t horrible. Jessica Alba does have an onscreen presence and I am happy that she has gone places since Dark Angel went off the airwaves.

Director: Billie Woodruff
Writers: Alonzo Brown & Kim Watson
Honey: Jessica Alba
Chaz: Mekhi Phifer
Michael Ellis: David Moscow

Missy Elliott: You, you need to call M.C. Hammer and let him know you're stealing his stuff. Ya'll two crazy people in here.

Buying the Cow

David is afraid of committing to his girlfriend of 5 years by marrying her; she goes to New York for work and he is left with the ultimatum of figuring out if he wants to get married or break up. This leads David onto his search for his soul mate – or at least figuring out if the soul mate concept exists.

I definitely watched this movie because it was a game of remote roulette. I was bored, I have many, many movie channels, and I had never heard of this movie – and it had Ryan Reynolds. So I stopped, started working on something else and watched Buying the Cow in the background. This is definitely a movie that should be viewed on TV – the commercial breaks and feeling glad that you didn’t pay for this movie definitely improves it.

The single best thing about this movie, and probably the reason I left it on is Ryan Reynolds. Reynolds is an actor that definitely deserves a lot more work and acclaim that he has gotten and watching movies like this definitely underscores this; in Buying the Cow Reynolds is a side character, but he definitely steals the show. Other than Reynolds, the movie is completely unmemorable.

Director: Walt Becker
Writers: Walt Becker & Peter W. Nelson
David: Jerry O’Connell
Sarah: Bridgette Wilson
Mike: Ryan Reynolds
Jonesy: Bill Bellamy
Amy: Alyssa Milano
Tyler: Ron Livingston

David Collins: You're the only people I've ever told.
Mike Hanson: Yeah, can you keep it that way? It makes you seem kind of creepy.


I did see and enjoy Watchmen in less than 24 hours. This film is quite good, entertaining, and worthy of adoration. However, that being said there are some problems with Watchmen.

I do have to say that my first pet peeve with Watchmen is some of the music. I understand that Snyder wanted to keep the music rooted in the era of Watchmen but for me when two of the songs were used it ended up being utterly laughable.

The first was the use of Flight of the Valkyrie’s when we first flashed to Dr. Manhattan & the Comedian participating in the Vietnam War. This was such a cliché and took me out of the moment completely. After Apocalypse Now that song cannot be used without very specific connotations and imagery. It shouldn’t be used for Vietnam any more.

Secondly, I thought using the song Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen when Nite Owl & Silk Spectre finally hook was downright laughable – and I’m not the only one that thought that – a majority of the audience at both showings I went to laughed at this song choice and this is not supposed to be a laugh educing scene.

I must also express without giving any spoilers that I liked Watchmen but after reading the graphic novel I am not sure if I like how they changed the ending. The original ending in the graphic novel plays on the very 1980’s mentality that was afraid of the outside world; now the ending plays to the very contemporary mentality of the enemy within and I am not sure I like that. I think time will tell which is the better ending.

What I do have to say is that I am very sorry that Alan Moore fel the need to exclude his name from the credits of Watchmen; Moore has been burned time and again by the Hollywood system and when he found out Watchmen was going to be a reality he took his name off of it without ever considering it. As rumor has it Moore refuses to ever see the film. Ultimately, I think that is quite sad as Watchmen preserves as much of Moore’s tale that is physically possible.

Edward Blake: God damn I love working on American soil, Dan. Ain't had this much fun since Woodward and Bernstein. Congress is pushing through some new bill that's gonna outlaw masks. Our days are numbered. Till then it's like you always say, we're society's only protection.
Dan Dreiberg: From what?
Edward Blake: You kidding me? From themselves.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Originally uploaded by Alessandra Ogeda
I watched Penelope again today; this movie is adorable and I think it hold up on repeat viewings. This is a fully imagined fairy tale that is light hearted and fanciful to its very core.

Watching the movie again I have to say that Catherine O’Hara as Penelope’s mother is perhaps my favorite character in the movie. She is so meddling, overbearing and frivolous that she is the perfect antithesis to the wicked stepmother in Cinderella. She has some of the best lines in the film and is perhaps one of the best comical mothers I’ve ever seen on screen.

I must also commend the director Mark Palansky. Too often there are fantasy films where the unique worlds are just not unique or realized enough, but in Penelope this is a complete, whole world that is one of the most adorable, realized worlds that I have seen on film since a movie like Pitch Black. I would like to see another movie come out of his imagination.

Jessica Wilhern: Penelope, just one man, one man.
Penelope: And he'll run too! They always run. Why can't you accept that? For seven years I've been watching them run. Do you have any idea how that makes me feel? Do you?
Jessica Wilhern: I'm sorry, but we just can't quit.
Penelope: We can, because no matter how much I want to believe there's one man who won't run away, one man who... who...


Watchmen: Comedian
Originally uploaded by AsceticMonk
Since its publication there has been the universal theory that Watchmen is one of the single most brilliant pieces of literature ever written, and possibly right next to Atlas Shrugged as one of the most unfilmable pieces of literature.

I am one of the ones that agrees - Watchmen is unfilmable – but Zach Snyder may have gotten as close to filming Watchmen as anyone can every hope to get. There are simply things in Watchmen that cannot fit into a movie: Hollace Mason’s autobiography, the news stories of missing artists & scientists, the relationship of Sally with her husband/manager, the newsstand, the black freighter, the lesbian cab driver; if everything that were in the graphic novel were in Watchmen the movie would have to be at least six hours long, or 2-3 separate movies.

Watchmen at its core is the story of a group of retired superheroes; it is told from the perspective of a world that is our reality (only slightly tweaked to change history), a world that actually relied on heroes until they began to see them as a threat. The question behind the story is how do these characters deal with being more than the average citizen when they are no longer allowed to use those skills. For some it eats away at who they are, some have no sense of identity, one feels like he is no longer a member of humanity and only one of them remains active despite being a wanted man. This is a story that explore the morality and humanity of the superhero myth.

When reading the graphic novel my favorite character was Comedian, which is actually quite disturbing as he is possibly one of the most amoral characters in history, but he is the character that galvanizes the plot of the story, and he is by far the most symbolic of all the characters. In the filmic version Comedian is played with brilliance by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. I have loved watching this man at his craft since I discovered him on the CW’s Supernatural and I hope he has a long career on the big screen.

All in all Watchmen is a damn fine interpretation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel, but it does have a few things I have issues with. However, that is for a different review as I saw Watchmen twice in less than 24 hours.

Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: David Hayter & Alex Tse
Laurie Jupiter/ Silk Spectre: Malin Akerman
Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan: Billy Crudup
Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias: Matthew Goode
Walter Kovacs/Rorschach: Jackie Earle Hayley
Edward Blake/Comedian: Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl: Patrick Wilson
Sally Jupiter/Silk Spectre: Carla Gugino
Hollis Mason/Nite Owl: Stephen McHattie
Richard Nixon: Robert Wisden

Adrian Veidt: It doesn't take a genius to see the world has problems.
Edward Blake: No, but it takes a room full of morons to think they're small enough for them to handle.

New York, I Love You

Originally uploaded by FameJournal
New York, I Love You is the second in the Cities of Love series; this is a ongoing film of anthology films that focus on stories of love, love of the romantic kind and love of the city in which they are set. For those not familiar with the definition of an anthology film it is a group of short films, usually based around the same topic. All of these short films have differing directors and writers and are stitched into one movie.

The first in the Cities of Love series was Paris, Je T’aime. While the differences in the “style” of Paris vs. New York are subtle the basic differences are that Paris was much more fanciful, and the Paris installment did not “stitch” together; while I love Paris, Je T’aime very much it did suffer from each vignette feeling separate and cut off from the others. New York, I Love You does not suffer from this; in order to feel more cohesive New York does not simply jump into the next short, instead it segways or transitions to each new story by meandering around the city. Characters even pop in and out of the background of each others stories to further the feeling of a cohesive environment that all these stories are set in.

My favorite story in the entire film probably had to be the segment with Ethan Hawke. He plays a writer who tries to smooth talk a woman outside of a bar.

I know that what I saw of New York, I Love You was a preview screening this appeared to be a fully finished version of the film – titles, credits and all – and yet I remember hearing that New York, I Love You would contain the directorial debut of Scarlett Johansson. Scarlett is even listed in the directors credit on IMDB and yet her short film segment is not in the movie. I did enjoy the directorial debut of Natalie Portman though.

This is not a film series that everyone will enjoy. However, if you want to experience a non-typical movie, or just something very fun, beautiful and meaningful this is something you should see. New York, I Love You is not a typical romantic comedy.

Directors: Faith Akin, Yvan Attal, Allen Hughes, Sunji Iwai, Wen Jiang, Scarlett Johnasson, Shekhar Kapur, Joshua Martson, Mira Nair, Natalie Portman, Brett Ratner, Andrei Zvyagintsev & Randall Balsmeyer
Maggie: Jacinda Barrett
Molly: Rachel Bilson
David: Orlando Bloom
Mr. Riccoli: James Caan
Johnny: Hayden Christensen
Isabelle: Julie Christie
Gus: Bradley Cooper
Alex: Chris Cooper
Lydia: Drea de Matteo
Garry: Andy Garcia
Writer: Ethan Hawke
Jacob: Shia LaBeouf
Mitzie: Cloris Leachman
Ex-Girlfriend: Blake Lively
Rifka: Natalie Portman
Hooker: Maggie Q
Camille: Christina Ricci
Abe: Eli Wallach
Anna: Robin Wright Penn
Prom Boy: Anton Yelchin

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Prom Night

prom night
Originally uploaded by hypostylin
Prom Night is a classic horror film; pre-teen’s Nick, Wendy, Jude & Kelly play a game in an abandoned building and end up bullying younger Robin Hammond who accidently falls out a window to her death, the kids are terrified of getting in trouble so they make a pact to never tell what happened and flee the scene not knowing someone saw them. Robin’s death is blamed on a sex offender captured shortly after her death, and the children never deal with it until six years later on prom night they begin to be stalked and terrorized.

In my opinion Prom Night is utterly stupid. I found it unintriguing, hard to follow and basically bland. I honestly do not understand why this movie is considered a horror classic. I could really like someone to explain that to me.

Other than the thin, incoherent plot what really bothered me was the literal look of Prom Night. The film looks like it was shot on video and though my guess is it was shot on a budget bigger than Halloween, Halloween looked better. Prom Night looked like it was over lit and washed out.

What was interesting about Prom Night was the editing. While I am not 100% the editing trick was done well, it was interesting. The director chose to juxtapose images in flashes to create an ominous setting for the killer so that we never get a complete picture of how he operates or even what he looks like until he is revealed at the dance; the same trick is used to integrate the past into the present. It’s interesting, if a bit overdone.

I also have to say that the disco dance number that was inserted into the middle of the movie was completely stupid and out of place. I don’t understand why it was there or why exactly it went on for so long.

On the positive side it was incredibly interesting to see Leslie Nielsen in a serious role. Though the way he was written was an incredible problem for me; he is the principal of the school and he literally goes to the prom and then disappears for the rest of the movie. Question to the screen writer: where did he go????

Director: Paul Lynch
Writer: William Gray
Mr. Hammond: Leslie Nielsen
Kim Hammond: Jamie Lee Curtis

Kim Hammond: You seem a little anxious, Wendy. By the way, who are going with tonight?
Wendy Richards: It's not who you go with, honey. It's who takes you home.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Miss Congeniality

Miss Congeniality is the tale of Grace Hart, an FBI agent who is less than a girlie girl. When the Miss United States Pageant is threatened the FBI decides to get involved by putting an agent into the pageant; Grace becomes Gracie Lou Freebush and is forced to become the pampered, pulled together girl she never thought she could be to try and find the terrorist. Along the way fellow agent Matthews, pageant consultant Victor and the pageant contestants make Grace realize perhaps she can be more than she thought.

First and foremost my favorite character in this entire movie is Michael Caine’s Victor Melling. Not only does Victor have the best lines in the film, but Caine is utterly convincing as a prissy, uptight gay man who cares more about posture and hair flips than finding a criminal. Caine is absolutely perfect. I would also be remiss if I didn’t comment on the entire supporting cast. William Shatner is Stan the pageant host, Candice Bergen is Kathy the pageant runner, Ernie Hudson is the FBI Assistant Director, and Benjamin Bratt is Agent Matthews. Every character is unique, quirky and utterly memorable.

Sandra Bullock is perfect as Grace Hart. So many actresses could not pull off the transformation of unrefined to super model in one film but Bullock does it, and her comedy timing is perfect. I honestly believe that the movie rides on Bullock’s shoulders and from her serious moments to pratt falls she excels.

While I doubt the sequel is worth seeing the first Miss Congeniality is incredibly entertaining.

Director: Donald Petrie
Writers: Marc Lawrence, Katie Ford, & Caryn Lucas
Gracie Hart: Sandra Bullock
Victor Melling: Michael Caine
Eric Matthews: Benjamin Bratt
Kathy Morningside: Candice Bergen
Asst. Director McDonald: Ernie Hudson
Stan Fields: William Shatner
Cheryl Fraiser: Heather Burns

Victor Melling: In place of relationships, you have sarcasm and a gun!
Gracie Hart: Oh, I have sarcasm? When every word that comes out of your mouth is dripping with disdain?
Victor Melling: Ah! But that is because I am a miserable, grumpy elitist - and that works for me!