Friday, December 31, 2010

And Now For an Off Topic Subject (The Golden Globes)

            So the nominees for the Golden Globes (the inbred child of the Oscars and Emmys) have been revealed and oh dear God I need drink.  Never has there been so many choices that are misplaced that it makes you wonder if the voters were either schizophrenic or blowing the competitors. In all seriousness, the nominations are a great example of what if the voters did not see all the eligible films on time, or worse vote based on popularity than quality. Anyway here are:

Top 3 Golden Globes Nominees That Should Lose

3. Dexter for Best TV Series-Drama

            As a fan, I have to admit that the 5th season of Dexter was unbelievably weak.  On the bright side Michael C. Hall is fantastic as usual as our friendly neighborhood serial killer, Dexter Morgan.  The problem is that the entire story arc was unfocused.  It started great with a simple cat-and-mouse plot when Quinn believes Dexter killed his own wife, Rita.  Then, the show adds a story about Dexter saving a victim of one his routine "victims" who is part of torture club that is secretly run by the most popular motivational speaker in Florida. There is so much lay out required through every episode that the main villain doesn’t do anything except pretend to be Tom Cruise in the film Magnolia. It does not help that there were more unnecessary subplots in this season than half a season of Glee, most of which are forgotten by episode six and then they are spontaneously resolved on the finale.  In the end, Dexter is a good show that experimented with a bad idea, like a fish thrashing in the jaws that is AMC, the home of Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead (I was not paid by AMC).



2.  Glee for Best TV Series-Comedy or Musical
           
            Send in the hate mail but let’s be honest here, the quality of the show has faltered ever since “The Power of Madonna”.  The continuity of the story is absolutely broken, like Memento if it was a musical, brighter and twice as pretentious.  The student body could have high appraisal for New Directions in one episode and be despised by everyone to the point even the teachers would throw shoes at them in another episode. Why? Well, because the script says so. Ryan Murphy realized that as soon as everyone likes New Directions then any sense of conflict is lost, too bad he thought that the only way to fix this is to mind-wipe the entire school and hope that the audience only pay attention to the songs.
            What makes a musical so great is that they can tell a story through acting, singing and dancing. Is there a more exhilarating way for characters to tell a story or express their feelings than to just burst into song for no reason and dance to an orchestra for that doesn’t really exist? No. Were they kitschy? Yes but they were always done with such grace, athleticism and bliss that the audience wished they lived in that kind of world, it is escapism its purest.  Glee had that escapist touch for those first eight episodes and then became aware of it’s own potential, as a product for iTunes.



1.  The Tourist for Best Actor, Actress and Motion Picture- Comedy or Musical

            This movie asks a lot questions like, what the #$@^ planet Earth? No seriously what the *$&# is an espionage thriller doing in the comedy/musical category? Was The Tourist so bad that the voters thought it was parody of Hitchcock movies? But most of all, why?  It’s not like there was not any good comedies this year like Get Him to the Greek, Toy Story 3, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Kick-Ass (even Date Night had better reviews than The Tourist). The Tourist will and should lose this award, because if this is a comedy then Eclipse is the funniest film since Animal House. To add the brown icing on this $%!#-cake, both Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie earned a nomination for their roles in The Tourist, in the Comedy or Musical category… again there is nothing funny about The Tourist.
            In reality there only one reason why The Tourist was nominated, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie are in it; these two are essentially the modern day incarnations Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn (Depp being Hepburn and Jolie being Grant). The Golden Globes are known for trying to create a good show without have hiring an entertaining host or keep the show from exceeding the ¥ hour mark by nominating the most popular (sexiest) stars on the lot.  This happens every year with various results (Tom Cruise made a career out of these) but never has an award show seemed so desperate that the voters had to break their own rules for the sake of pandering to stars.  Hopefully Depp and Jolie will see through this scheme and stay home otherwise they will just be like the rest: only in it for the money.

So there you have it, a psycho thriller that became self indulgent, a musical-comedy series filled with recently lost potential and a thriller nominated in the wrong category for the sake of having star power at the ceremony… Happy Holidays.


Fasten your seat-belts, it's going to be a bumpy night - Bette Davis

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pop Quiz Answers

1.  True. From his 1928 film Steamboat Bill Jr. here is the gag:



The front of that house weighs about 3 tons and if Buster Keaton was off by 2 inches… well you’ve stepped on a bug before.  Half of the crew stayed home on the day of shooting making it the first and probably last strike that film employees had an understandable cause. Actually, Buster Keaton would find out in the 1930’s, during a routine physical, that he had broken his neck in 1924 without realizing it; so in hindsight he would’ve been fine because he is $#@!ING INVINCIBLE.

2.  True. A word of warning, you may need to perform an exorcism on your T.V after watching Guinness Book of World Records holder for the Most Profane Animated Film of All-Time.

3. True. James Dean played a lead role in only three movies before he died in a car crash. He got an Oscar nomination for only East of Eden and Giant. No love for Rebel Without Cause is blasphemy but 2 outta 3 isn’t bad.

4.  True. There are two different box office records: Domestic, which is how much money a film has technically made, and Adjusted to Inflation, where the profits are based on the idea of how much money the film would have made if the ticket prices were same price as the current average ($8.00). While Avatar holds the Domestic record, it is in 14th place in the Adjusted to Inflation record ($773,179,400), number 11 is 101 Dalmations ($794,342,100). So basically if 101 Dalmatians sold the same number of tickets as it did in 1961 at same price as a ticket is in 2010 it would have made more than Avatar. Don't believe me? Check out this link to Box Office Mojo.com: http://boxofficemojo.com/alltime/

5.  False. This is really depressing. Bruce Lee died in Jan. 20 1973, 6 days before Enter the Dragon was released in Hong Kong. Even more depressing is that the Chinese studio Golden Harvest decided that Bruce could finish his contract by using stock footage (including footage of his funeral) and body doubles for Game of Death 1 and 2.

6.  True/False. Mel Gibson is technically a psychotic douche bag.

7.  True. Funny story: In the old days, film had to have a copyright indictor under the title card.  On the week Night of the Flesh Eaters was going to premiere the distributer, the Walter Reade Organization, wanted to change the name to Night of the Living Dead. So they did, but they forgot to replace the copyright indicator before the premiere. In the end, anyone who noticed that the copyright was missing claimed ownership and George A. Romero did not get a penny of the profit.

8.  False. Hattie McDaniel won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in the film Gone With the Wind in 1939. Still, Halle Berry is still the first African American to win Best Lead Actress in 2001 for Monsters Ball.

9.  False. Midnight Cowboy was rated X for adult content, adult language and strong sexual content but in 1969 it won Best Picture. But around the time the X rating became NC-17, the MPAA reviewed Midnight Cowboy again and it rebranded with an R rating.

10.  True… and its gonna suck. 






Drink game: Take a shot if anything in this trailer reminds you of the Twilight Saga

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pop Quiz!

Hello fan(s), since I can't type fast to save life, I'm phoning it in this month with a quiz. There are only 10 questions and they are yes-or-no questions. Pleade type the answers on the comments section. Is there a prize? Yes, bragging rights.  
  1. Buster Keaton was known for performing his fairly elaborate stunts, but is it true that his most dangerous stunt required him to just stand still?
  2. Is it true that in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut the average amount of time between curse words is 6 seconds?
  3. Is it true that James Dean got an Oscar nomination for 2/3’s of his lead roles?
  4. Is it true that 101 Dalmations sold more tickets than Avatar?
  5. Was Bruce Lee's last film was Game of Death 2?
  6. Is Mel Gibson is a douche bag?
  7. Did Night of the Living Dead go into public domain the year it was released?
  8. Was Halle Berry the first African American woman to win an Oscar for acting?
  9. Not a single movie with an X rating won Best Picture at the Oscars, yes or no?
  10. Is Hollywood making a movie based on Little Red Riding Hood?
Answers be on the blog next week.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Halloween Special (keep reading or the psycho behind you will stab you.)


Horror films are probably the easiest or most difficult criticize, most likely because it is often difficult to take them seriously. Everyone with “standards” will argue that each horror film has the same premise. There is an evil entity that wants to kill everybody and there is a group of idiots that get snuffed off because they don’t know how to call the police. Of course the psycho and I don’t have any “standards” so here is our list of films to watch on Halloween. These are not necessarily the best horror films of all time but the most fun. They are spooky, fast, and they don’t %#$@ around with stupid stuff like social commentary. All they require from you is popcorn, pizza, a twelve pack of soda and (if you’re a jerk) the candy that you decided not to give to the kids.

6 “Must See” Flicks for Halloween

6. Evil Dead & Evil Dead 2

The premise of the Evil Dead series is fairly simple. Bunch of idiots go hang out in a cabin, one them finds a book full of evil, they read it and evil shit happens. But the films are so outrageous that the plot just slips away into pit of gore and silly makeup. The films tone was not like any other horror film at that time. Back then filmmakers had conformed to the style sixties-seventies B-movie horror, which were all serious and dark in tone. Sam Raimi, the director, preferred the old Universal horror movies like Frankenstein and Dracula; he also liked cartoonish comedies of Abbot and Costello. Raimi’s personal tastes are shown throughout this carnival show of series with a shit ton of goofy monsters, some ridiculous death, and absurd catchphrases told by the man with the world’s biggest chin. Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 are like those spook houses at the county fair, there plenty of scares but hilarious in hindsight.
But seriously look at that chin
5. Halloween (1979 version)
Oh shut up, it was inevitable that Halloween would show up on the list. Sure it started the trend of the slut massacre and it was clearly shot in the spring instead of the fall, but it’s still awesome. For one Michael Myers is (in my book) the best slasher villain of all time. Myers is like a psychotic ninja; he is silent and clean about his murders, not like Jason or Freddy Krueger who just make an unnecessary mess and be annoying. But what makes these deaths so horrifying is that every character is relatable instead of likable. Protagonists often are given “a past” to gain sympathy votes from the audience, that does not work in horror flicks. The character has to be bounded to the routines of reality. For example, Laurie Strode is just an ordinary girl who’s only secret is a crush for some guy. A sense of familiarity puts the audience in the shoes of the characters, which makes the experience more personal. That could be YOU getting stabbed; Michael Myers could be REAL and he maybe in your front yard right NOW. But it could be worse…
4. Alien
Here is a great way to get fired, pitch the story of a towing ship, in outer space, that discovers an alien that greets people by raping their faces. It dies but then another phallic looking alien pops out of John Hurt and tries to kill everyone. Oh and the alien is covered in KY Jelly (seriously that’s what the slime is). In all seriousness Alien has one of best taglines of all time: “In space no one can hear you scream.” Not only does it sound glorious it points out what makes Alien so great. Our victims are stuck on spaceship where the only help is gazillion light-years away, they are not trained soldiers and the only weapons they have would probably do more damage to the ship than the monster. The crew is quite literally at the mercy of the alien and it’s appetite. Now that’s #$%@ing scary.
3. The Thing
There is a scene in Halloween where a little kid is watching a movie Thing From Another World”. Apparently John Carpenter really liked this filmed because he decided to do a remake that cranks the crazy up to eleven. The film is basically Alien set in Antarctica but it stands out because of two things. 1) It has Kurt Russell who is so awesome that his name is the last thing Walt Disney ever wrote. 2) The monster is *&^%ing terrifying. The monster is basically the Shoggoth meets the aliens from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It is twisted goo that can create tentacles, slip into the cracks and suck the life out of the living. Even freakier is that the monster can impersonate somebody that it has killed, which makes the survivors a little uneasy. Actually they get more paranoid than a pot-smoking McCarthy, but that is what makes The Thing so awesome. The only flaw it has is that this theme of paranoia and weird monsters just reminds me that this is the closest thing to a H.P Lovecraft film that Hollywood can produce. Apparently they’re afraid that Cthulhu will give them to much money.
One can dream...
2. Night of the Living Dead
Ah yes the great zombie apocalypse, the end of the world scenario that just keeps on giving. Whether they ran or limped to their prey, or if they are in a mall or Jamaica, there are always good times to be had with zombies. While zombies have been shown on film before (White Zombie, I Walked With a Zombie) they never were the iconic lurching, man-eating freaks until Night of the Living Dead was created. But underneath all of the zombies and carnage is, shockingly enough, a story. A bunch of scared people trapped in a cabin that’s surrounded by the undead. There is a jeep outside the cabin but it needs to be refueled and help is implied to be on the way. Should they escape and risk getting surrounded or wait for help that might never come. That is it, no bimbos, old badasses or mad scientists in this film. It’s just a group of scared people trying to work together in order to survive. Good times.
1. Plan 9 From Outer Space
It is only the greatest film of all time. This sci/fi horror epic has… I can’t even be sarcastic about this movie. Plan 9 is awful in so many ways; to nitpick on everything is like counting to infinity, but I’ll try. First, if your alien race fails to invade a planet more than 8 times then it’s time to think about peacekeeping tactics. The director Ed Wood was infamous for never filming a second take, so when someone knocks down a tombstone or makes a stupid face, it’s in the picture. Bela Lugosi (famous as the original Dracula) was advertised the star of Plan 9, unfortunately he died before production so they use a body double who had to cover his face with a cape, they also keep using the same 2 minutes of stock footage of Bela spinning around in a field like it was going to waste. The script can be summed up with this actual line from Plan 9: “I saw a flying saucer… it was shaped like a huge cigar.” For context, they don’t look like %^&#ing cigars.
Cataracts are a b*tch ain't they?
Of course Plan 9 From Outer Space is not exactly an Oscar winner or scary that is not why it’s on the list. Plan 9 is on the list because it is a hilarious train wreck that even the kids can enjoy. A common practice is to drink every time an on-stage goof happens, but I don’t recommend because the game would be over 30 minutes. Better yet, just watch Plan 9 with a bunch of friends and you shall feel the awesome power that is sarcasm. Exploit this power and you shall feel enlightened.
Honorable Mention
Rocky Horror Picture Show is the infamous schlock/sex musical comedy that has confused the minds of many children with songs like “Sweet Transvestite” “Dammit Janet” and the ever-catchy “Time Warp”. While this movie may be fabulous enough to hold the record for longest running theatrical release record; three rules have to be followed in order to get an enjoyable experience.
Rule 1: Only watch this in a movie theater (it is often shown at midnight at most independent or art house theaters.
Rule 2: Be prepared to question your sexuality.
Rule 3: Bring a newspaper or umbrella.
Well that’s the list. Feel free to comment on anything you love or hate about article. Better yet tell me what is your favorite Halloween movie. It can help improve my library, plus Devin “Katosepe” Sloane will not be as lonely.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I’m Back (in Black… and with a list)

So yeah, I’m back on the blogosphere after having the most epic adventure of my life. But as much as I want to talk about how I sailed around the world and defeated Cthulhu, I’ll just skip that and head straight to the topic.



Pussy

The great irony about animated films is that they are the most time consuming and complicated films to make yet they’re always pigeonholed as kiddy fare. This makes sense because goofy character designs are easier to provide movement than anything realistic. They were also only meant for entertainment back in the old days and nothing else; heck one of the first characters, Gertie the Dinosaur, was created out of a bet.

While the shorts made in the days of yore are classics in their own right, animation truly hit its stride when they were expanded to feature films. Whether made with watercolors or blocks of clay, animated films have become a genre that can embrace the fantastic and cerebral at the same time. So… %$#@ it here’s my list.


Top Six Animated Movies

#6. South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut

Here’s a great way to get fired from a studio. Go to your boss and pitch the idea of a spin-off to a crudely animated show about potty-mouthed little kids who live in a mountain town that would scare the shit out of Ozzy Osbourne, and make it a musical. In spite of a premise that was designed to fail, South Park: BLU manages to not fall into any of the clichés that would usually ruin a spin-off. The humor is hilariously rude just like in the show, characters are not exaggerated personalities of their TV counter parts and the musical numbers are surprisingly good parodies of show tunes (with song titles like “Blame Canada” and “Uncle Fucka” they better be sophisticated). But the reason why it works so well is that the creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone give this film a sense of political relevance in very hot button issue at the time it was made. Sure the film is immature but when someone questions censorship or Saddam Hussein’s sexuality, South Park: BLU will provide an answer.


Together Forever

#5. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Snow White, the first animated feature length film ever made, a film that was so successful that it catalyzed the institution known as Disney (I worship thee \o/). Its story is so great that to put it in any Top Film list has become a cliché. Hopefully this cliché continues for many reasons, the film is beautiful, filled with lush backgrounds and loaded with rich characters. Also if I didn’t put it on this list then the Queen will probably kill me in my dreams. Seriously, in spite of its wholesome family movie image there are some f^$ked up scenes in this movie. Sure the conversations about cutting Snow White heart out might slip past children but that evil forest with every tree looking like Satan’s minions is why kids don’t go camping anymore. The Queen’s hag disguise is why little kids don’t wanna go to Grandma’s house and eat her apple pie that looks delicious but its clearly poisoned cuz she put some white powder in it and she’s watching you, she’s always watching. What I’m trying to say is that Snow White and the Seven Dwarves ruined my childhood. Anyway, it’s an amazing film that Walt has put a lot of effort into creating when he could have easily phoned it in (thankfully he didn’t).

#4. Pinocchio

So after stunning the world with Snow White Walt had realized that the only a top it is if he made a deal with Satan. Thankfully, Satan was a huge fan of Disney’s work so all he asked for was a cameo in Fantasia. So with Satan’s help Walt created Pinocchio, the famous tale about the wooden puppet who wants to be a real boy. With the exception the story this film is probably one of the hardest movies to describe because it takes ideas from various genres and blends them together like the worlds greatest milkshake*. It starts out like classic Disney kid fair with the iconic Jiminy Cricket sneaking into Geppetto’s house when Pinocchio comes to life and everyone starts singing and dancing. This chipper attitude fades into the dramatic as soon as a hatchet-wielding puppeteer threatens the poor kid. Then it just gets terrifying as soon as The Coachmen comes into play. But enough about the plot, what makes this film great is the title character himself.

Unlike the typical “modern family” anarchistic, Pinocchio to me acts like an actual child, naïve, energetic, yet kind. He doesn’t ignore Jiminy warnings for the sake of rebellion, he just doesn’t know better, but he learns from the consequences of his decisions and that’s surprisingly rare in family films.
*The best shake by the way requires the blending of three scoops of rich chocolate ice cream, half of a banana and some 2% milk. Then pour it into a tall tiki cup (yes it is necessary).

#3. Spirited Away

When Walt Disney died, there were two stories about what happened after his death. The one story being that his body was cryogenically frozen and placed underneath the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland. The other being that he possessed a man named Hayao Miyazaki, the undisputed leader of Japanese animation. While the former story makes sense (he will rise again) it’s kind of cheap to say that Hayao Miyazaki is the modern Disney because his ideas are clearly his own. Spirited Away is a good example, the plot is similar to Alice in Wonderland but that is where the Disney connection ends. The plot is darker, in that (without giving away too much) it’s about a girl named Chihiro and her struggle to stop her parents from becoming a dinner entrée at a bathhouse where gods and spirits are the main customers.
While that poor summary makes it sound stupid, the script and characters are anything but dumb. What Miyazaki (writer, director, head artist, dancer, etc.) does is that while he provides a whole crowd of extraordinary characters he forgoes exaggerating their behavior (a common flaw in modern Disney. Their personalities are civilized, dynamic and cannot be easily defined as good or evil, their actions define their image. Heck the main antagonist is a single mom trying to keep a business afloat. Sure, Chihiro is a bit of a whiner, but if someone threatened to kill my parents for food and the neighborhood turns into Halloween-Town, I would shit bricks as well. But one thing’s for sure, Spirited Away is a great story about self-worth and growing up.

#2. WALL-E

Charlie Chaplin would be proud. The film going audience has been use to sound in film in since 1927 (81 f@#king years) and Pixar, the king of computer-generated animation, risks throwing it all away on a movie that revolves around robots that don’t say anything beyond beeps and whistles. That takes a lotta balls, more than I want to think about. Anyway the risk paid off since it made enough money to buy the Holy Grail twice over so it just proves that Pixar can make anything into a good movie, unless it is about newts.

Anyway odds are if you’re alive then you saw it so I’ll keep it short. The story takes in a future Earth that is loaded with so much trash that the humans have evacuated, leaving many WALL-Es (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth Class) to clean up the planet. Seven Hundred years later, there is only one left. Even though WALL-E continues to do his (it’s?) job he prefers to collect random things like rubber ducks and lighters, he even befriends a cockroach. Then he watches an old tape of Hello Dolly and wishes someone could hold his hand, and then you cry like a bitch.

#1. Princess Mononoke

Magnum opus is a popular (tacky) Latin term that is used to describe an artist’s greatest work. This phrase can describe Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, F.W Murnau’s Nosferatu, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and of course Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke, a film so well crafted that it’s almost disturbing. It safe to say that Princess Mononoke is the most beautifully drawn animated film of all time. Each landscape is painted with great elegance and detail. The creatures (oh the creatures) not only look great but also burst with childish originality; it’s like Miyazaki asked a bunch of teens to describe the monsters in their dreams to find inspiration, or nightmares.


Oh Shit Run!!! (Side note: What’s weirder, the worm beast or the fact that one guy is riding an elk?)

The story is simple enough, the prince is stricken with a curse that will eventually kill him, and so he goes on a journey to find a cure. What he finds is a mining village that is clearing the surrounding forest for iron ore. The forest is home to the title character and various gods, and they hate deforestation as much as they love killing people. Then it comes down to a battle of man versus nature that’s so f$#king epic that only the Japanese can create it without a hint of pretension.

It’s almost like the Lord of the Rings trilogy but condensed and Japanese. While both stories should placed on shrine, Princess Mononoke is more satisfying in a philosophical standpoint. There are many powerful themes in like environmentalism, pantheism, culture clash, feminism, and war after the invention of gunpowder; okay so they pop up like prairie dogs on meth, yet Miyazaki paces it so well that it is easy to follow and does not feel heavy handed. But Princess Mononoke would not be as entertaining and heart wrenching if not for Miyazaki’s ability to create such genuine characters.

The characters follow the same rules as in Spirited Away, rich with a hint of ambiguity. I don’t know how Miyazaki does it but he writes some of the most realistic. They are not good because they are endearing (though they do have charm) but because they are human. Each character has a flaw or two but they have so many redeemable qualities that you can’t help but love them.
Princess Mononoke is a gracefully drawn film that is just as awesome as it is earnest. The film is an original tale that should be seen many times over. The only flaw though is that it’s further proof that America can start great a thing but Japan will make better than us.

4 Honorable Mentions

Persepolis: French movie about an Iranian girl’s life, sounds weird but it’s visually remarkable and politically relevant.

Beauty & The Beast: Aside from the Beast being naked throughout the movie it’s good clean fun.

Anything made by Pixar: Come on.

Animaniacs: You gotta appreciate a show that can do a joke about fingering Prince without the censors noticing.



Classy

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Taking a break (and he's outta here!)

Well as you can tell, I am not able keep up with my usual deadline these days. While it is in bad taste blame someone… I just have too much on my plate, I’m writing different papers for a summer class and I’m moving to a new house. So I have decided to take a break from writing until I finish moving and unpacking. I will still be watching movies as usual, it’s not like I have a girlfriend or anything. Anyway, I want to give you a list of movies that all of (six of) you might find interesting.

Listed by decade

1920 (silent era)

Sherlock Jr. (comedy, if you don’t like this then skip to the 30’s)

Nosferatu (horror)

Metropolis (sci-fi)


30’s

M (German thriller)

King Kong (you know what this is)

A Night at the Opera (Marx Bros. comedy, they’re not Communists)

Angels with Dirty Faces (Christian film… with booze and guns)

The Thin Man (Murder mystery… even more booze)


40’s

Double Indemnity (Film Noir, according to Wikipedia… it’s a thriller)

White Heat (Gangster flick)

Casablanca (a man’s movie)

Notorious (Hitchcock)

Pinocchio (for something more optimistic)


50’s

Seven Samurai (Akira’s best)

Rear Window (Hitchcock 2)

Strangers on a Train (Hitchcock 3: Return of the Hitchcock)

Diabolique (French mystery, it even made Hitchcock nervous)

Singin’ in The Rain (Musical!!)

Rio Bravo (Western)


60’s

Once Upon a time in The West (Western… oo wee oo wee oo)

Cool Hand Luke (Paul Newman’s finest)

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (aka Paul Newman and the Moustache)

8½ (a sequel to 7¾)

Black Sunday (Vampires when they weren’t whiney b*tchs )

2001: A Space Odyssey (LSD is optional)


70’s

The French Connection (It’s a lot grittier than it sounds)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (dumb characters, bad script, cheap sets, good stuff)

Chinatown (They cut Jack Nicholson’s nose, ‘nuff’ said.)

Young Frankenstein (pronounced Fronc-un-steen)

A Clockwork Orange (the classic WTF movie)


80’s

Raging Bull (Rocky for smart people)

The Untouchables (the last Kevin Costner film that was actually good)

The Thing (This is why I’m not going to Antarctica)

Akira (it’s not a Kurosawa biopic)


90’s (all animated, cuz this decade was depressing)

Toy Story (Cuz Pixar made it)

Beauty and the Beast (the peak in Disney’s comeback)

Princess Mononoke (if Disney was Japanese and cool)

Iron Giant (there’s a giant robot, its cool)


200X (I guess that’s what they call it)

Spirited Away (More Japanese Disney!)

WALL-E (Try not to cry)

Pan’s Labyrinth (not related to “Labyrinth” so don’t complain that David Bowie is not in it)

V For Vendetta (the best Wachowski Bros. movie that doesn’t have Keanu Reeves in it)


I’ll be back.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Akira and the Space Cowboys (I couldn't think of a better title)

Here are two things you should know about Akira Kurosawa. 1. His name is the third most difficult male name to spell and pronounce in the world (losing to Yngwie J. Malmsteem and Sergei Eisentein respectively) 2. He is the best director to ever come out of Japan and probably the world. Every serious filmmaker from Martin Scorsese to Francis Ford Coppola have been influenced by Kurosawa’s work, Steven Spielberg (according to Wikipedia) called him “The pictorial Shakespeare of our time.” Among the people who are under Kurosawa’s influence is George Lucas. George (for the mole-people who live under ground) is famous and infamous for creating the “Star Wars” franchise including its vile prequels and Christmas specials.


And F***ing Ewok cartoons

George Lucas is and I mean it with the highest respect for him, a nerd for westerns and samurai films, especially films by John Ford and Akira Kurosawa. The old west influence in “Star Wars” is fairly obvious since the landscape of the desert planet Tatooine was inspired by John Ford’s regular use of Monument Valley as the film set. Han Solo is the product of taking Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name” and giving him the cranky wit of John Wayne. Then are the blasters, and that saloon… where was I going this? Anyway, Akira Kurosawa influence on “Star Wars” is shown through one of his films in particular, “The Hidden Fortress”

The plot is rather basic, there are three nations, one good, one evil and one is neutral. The good nation’s princess is in hiding and needs to go to the neutral nation in order to be safe. She is smuggled through enemy territory with the help of her badass bodyguard, a shy slave girl and two unlucky shmucks. While the plot is not identical to “Star Wars” there are quite a few element that were borrowed by Lucas. While the main characters are bodyguard and the princess, the story is told through the two schmucks’ points of view, just like C-3P0 and R2-D2. There is a spear fight that resembles light saber battles not because of elaborate choreography but for how long it takes for the first strike to occur. Both the spear fight and the Vader vs Kenobi battle have a psychological tension to them that brews when the opposing are on guard and just stand there, waiting for someone to crack. Finally there is the relationship with the princess between and the bodyguard, and the use of frame wipes… now I’m starting to sound like a conspiracy theorist.

There is a fear that in for something to be original that everything as your own idea otherwise it is plagiarism, but that is not true. Of course George Lucas is not trying to be being imitative, he simply liked “The Hidden Fortress” and when he was making “Star Wars” he used borrowed ideas from the other to create unique product, that’s how inspiration works. In fact, as great as Kurosawa is, he would be a lesser director if he did not worship the director John Ford (he even wore dark glasses to emulate John). See? There is no point in arguing if any filmmaker, like Lucas, is a hack if there own influences had their own influences, otherwise every film is just a shitty rip-off of Edison’s first recordings.


Happy 4th of July weekend

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Elizabeth (a Man's Man's Man's Movie)

Lets me be honest, I hate period pieces. It’s not like they are poorly made but because they are unbelievably bombastic. They always have these costumes that look pretty but look they were not practical even by 15th century standards. The films are always longer than the average battle on “Dragon Ball Z” and everyone has so much make up on that they look like the band Kiss or Boy George.


So I was skeptical about watching a movie based on the early years of Queen Elizabeth. But instead of watching the melodramatic fashion show based on a Jane Austen novel, I see three people get scalped and burned at the stake, because they were Protestant. Holy shit “Lord of the Rings” was not this hardcore. What makes this film even more surprising is that after this execution, it never holds back. As soon as execution ends, Elizabeth sent to The Tower to be interrogated, Bloody Mary dies, Liz becomes queen and now everyone hates her, even the Vatican and they are suppose to keepers of the peace. Joking aside, Elizabeth was caught between a rock and hard place as soon as she becomes Queen. She fights her way around the ruckus with her wit and with the help of her advisor Francis Walsingham (played by a terrifying Geoffrey Rush). In the end she wins back her people but sacrifices her innocence, which is a catalyst for the Virgin Queen persona.

The highlight of this film is definitely the acting and the characters. Not a single character feels irrelevant to the plot. It helps that each actor, including minor actors, are acting like it’s the last performance of their life. Daniel Craig plays John Ballard like he was James Bond’s ancestor. Joseph Fiennes somehow manages to give a man-whore some actual complexity. But the best performance is without a doubt Cate Blanchett as The Virgin Queen. It’s not because Cate plays Elizabeth well, it’s because she is Elizabeth. She finds the innocence and humor of a character that has yet to become a legend, and when she does, it’s probably the only time in movie history that a reincarnation feels tragic.

“Elizabeth” is a great film because disobeys rules of it owns genre to tell a thrilling story. If you are a fan of “Lord of the Rings” then this feature might surprise you. If on the other hand you prefer to watch “Becoming Jane” you should probably wait 3 years. 5 angry priests outta 5.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Cook (I'm PMSing again)

I'm not in the mood to review a movie this week, I mean Christ it's summer. So as collateral for this weekend I'm showing you for the first time (if you are not my parents) the incomplete short film I made for a college course. Unfortunately I can't show it on this site because it's too damn big. Even on YouTube I had to convert it to AVI so that it could fit in the site. Hold on... I found a loophole.

So here's the film, watch and laugh at it lameness.




Saturday, June 5, 2010

Gunga Din (well look at the time)

After watching the psychotic’s wet dream that was “Battle Royale” I had to watch something that was simpler. Nothing Oscar worthy, any deep thought will make me want to punch kittens, just a good vs. evil adventure. I need a film that has a feeling of escapism, something epic and most of all something optimistic. But unfortunately “Star Wars” was not available on Netflix, so I went for the next best thing, but my “Raiders of the Lost Ark” DVD has a crack so I just watched “Gunga Din” instead. “Gunga Din” is a black and white adventure movie made back in the late 30’s that takes place in 1880 British India.

According the movie (because it’s based on historical “facts”) there is a growing murder cult in India known as the Thuggee. For the love their goddess Kali, they are destroying villages and strangling soldiers. So when the cult starts tampering with wire communications, it’s up to three sergeants, Cutter, Mac and Ballantine (played by Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. respectively) to find this cult. Too bad these guys are not most competent soldiers in world. Cutter would rather search for lost treasure than fight a cult. Mac really treats elephants like little kids but worst of all Ballantine is getting married… and going into the tea business. And to the horror of his companions, Ballatine’s fiancé is visiting their base.

So then there is this large subplot about Cutter and Mac trying to make Ballantine reenlist in the army again. While Mac tries to convince him through words, Cutter goes for the less sane route. Cutter spikes the punch with elephant medicine at Ballatine’s party, which nearly puts one sergeant into a coma and instantly kills a bouquet of flowers. He also tries to convince both them to on one last temple raid together, but unfortunately the person who wants to go is their water carrier Gunga Din who… I better stop before I spoil the ending.

The film is really entertaining action movie in a surprisingly restraint manner. The mood of the film is always somewhere between positive and goofy. The camera moves smoothly through each battle scene. Actually for those use to watching stuff like “Rambo” or “Band of Brothers” to tears by the film’s relaxed pacing and political incorrect depictions of war and India. As fun as “Gunga Din” is, it is difficult to recommend it because the Indian people in the film were not actually Indian. They were mostly Italian actors in brown makeup.

But what can anyone expect from a movie made in the 30’s, taking place in a foreign country? Martin Luther King Jr. was only 9 years old when this movie was in theaters. Yet the ending of the film ironically bashes racism thanks to the title character’s bravery (I won’t tell you what he does). This film is if anything, a time capsule of a moment when Hollywood was about to become culturally smarter than it was in past. It is not politically correct, but it still entertaining film that has good intentions… for its time of course.

4 drugged elephants, outta 5 and a sad face, :(

Friday, May 28, 2010

Battle Royale (or the story about the worst field trip ever)

When it comes to film every country has a different style of storytelling. British films have a sophisticated sense of wit, Italy rely very realistic character with ordinary lives, and the U.S.A loves boobs and 3-D effects. While it may not be the best, the country with the most unique style is definitely Japan. Now when I say their films are unique, I mean their films are downright psychotic. Underneath the Godzilla films and the anime (especially by Hayao Miyazaki), there are these violent horror films that throws mercy right out the window. Among them is the unpredictable kill-fest, “Battle Royale”.

The film takes place in Japan in the near future where the adults fear the youth. So as a way to discipline them, the government sends one lucky 7th grade class to an island, where they are forced to kill each other until one person is left standing. The students have bomb collars on their necks that explode if they try to leave the island. Also there are transfer students, one is a former winner of the game, and the other volunteered for shit ’n’ giggles. And I thought my life sucked.

While this premise alone is shocking to make a decent thriller the filmmakers go two steps further by with a multi-story concept and a countdown. What happens throughout the film is that it switches from student to student to show how they react to their situation. For example, one group tries to hack into the island's security system and one boy makes the most of his time by finding the girl he has a crush on. This allows for each character to develop into more than just moving targets. Which makes it even more horrifying when they eventually die, and when someone does, the evil teacher reminds the students how many of them are alive.

Christ lets take a puppy brake

Sure some of the kids are violent (like the psycho who volunteers to play) but that’s because the adults are terrible role models. They are either sadistic monsters, spineless idiots or they are just not there when the kids need them the most. No wonder the nations youth are in anarchy, the adults never grew up at all.

This film is very deep, even by horror movie standards (yes there are standards) but its not heavy-handed. Every character is well written and relatable which is quite a feat with 40 students. The photography is not extravagant as most action film, it’s simplicity provides room for seamless editing. While its premise might make some people seasick, it is one of smartest horror films made in the 21 century. 5 exploding collars outta 5.