Friday, August 31, 2012


Here is a peak into how the blog sausage is made here, I just spent a good 10-15 minutes trying to figure out if there was a song that used the word "Anticipation" in the chorus to start off this blog post. I don't think it exists, but if it happens to, and not the Carly Simon one, let me know. But it did lead me towards the Human League's "Fascination" which is never a bad thing. (And thank you, Erica, for trying to help me out, if she doesn't know the song it probably doesn't exist.) So enjoy that anyway:

Now, first a caveat: this entry is going to be very similar (some might say a ripoff) of a fellow blogger's post from a couple days ago Peter Swanson did pretty much the same post a couple of days ago and beat me to the punch on this one (and let's be honest, maybe my next post, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it) I don't think there is too much crossover in our readership, but you should read his stuff he's an actual, for real writer, and he's much more eloquent than I am (obviously). There is no way to prove this, of course, but I did have the idea to do a post about what I am looking forward to in the Fall, but it stayed as just an idea in my head, and then Peter beat me to it. But, and I am paraphrasing here, like Jesse Eisenberg said as Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, "If I had idea the for a blog post, I would have written the blog post."  Or should have, but here I am riding on his shoulders. And some of the sentiment is the same:

For one: Fall
Fall, in general, is my favorite season bar none: football returns, pumpkin/cinnamon/spice goodies are around, Halloween, sunny but not super hot (it's hitting the 90's even today), hearty beers/hearty meals, oh man it's so great. And Halloween starts off that sweet spot of holidays that runs through Thanksgiving (also an amazing holiday) to New Years. Of course then there is the drudgery of Winter, but we'll just have to deal with that later.

I am not yet anticipating a lot of television shows and books, these things will have to totally take me by surprise. I mean I am looking forward to old favorites coming back ( some like 30 Rock, for their final season) but off the top of my head I can't say anything new that I am looking out for just yet. The same with books, but I hardly catch those early on anyway.

Music is going to be a surprise too, a lot of the albums for 2012 that I had been waiting for have come out, so I look forward to discover ones that I didn't realize were coming out or were new to me. I know how this is going to sound, but Animal Collective is releasing their new album next week and I have heard a couple songs, one being the one below, and it's not for every taste, but I am looking forward to it now (I skipped listening to the whole thing when it leaked so you never know)

Now, though, I have movies to look forward to. Here they are in order of release date:

The Master (9/21)

Paul Thomas Anderson's movies are amazing to look out and usually more than a little esoteric. I look forward to see exactly what he does with this story of a man behind a Scientology-like cult. It's not exactly going to be what we are expecting, I think. And I am not even sure exactly what I am expecting but it is always an experience, for sure.

Looper (9/28)

 Rian Johnson has tried his hand at hard boiled noir set in a high school  with Brick and a fascinating, take on the con man story with The Brothers Bloom. Here he takes on the action/sci-fi/time travel genre in what the principle actors are saying some of the best stuff they have been in. I just wonder if I am going to get used to whatever trick they used to make Joseph Gordon Leavitt's face look more like Bruce Willis'.

Argo (10/12)
Who would have thought that Ben Affleck could transform himself from an actor into a director whose movies people REALLY anticipate. He gets himself WAY outside of Boston for the first time in this supposedly true story about an attempt to free American Embassy workers from Iran. The cast is stacked and it looks like it could be really interesting.

Seven Psychopaths (10/12)
Could go either way, but I remember sleeping on Martin McDonagh's first movie In Bruges because the trailer made it look so terrible, and it turned out to be one of the best movies of the year. While this looks to be a bit more amped up, I am hoping for at least a good time, that the writing is just as sharp, and he already has an amazing cast to work with. He seems to love these underworld types, he even worked with them in his a play, A Behanding In Spokane.  So I look forward to seeing what he can do here.

The Man With The Iron Fists (11/2)

Hahaha the Wu Tang mastermind finally gets to put out his own Kung Fu flick-co-written by Eli Roth with (supposedly) Quentin Tarantino's blessing. The RZA has an encyclopedic knowledge of kung fu movies (which he has demonstrated on DVD commentary tracks) so it will be interesting to see what he does with his own. The soundtrack alone seems amazing. And he somehow got Russell Crowe to be in this thing. I am hoping for a bloody, good time here.

Skyfall (11/9)
I actually saw the second Bond with Daniel Craig, Quantum Of Solace, twice in the theaters and I gave it short shrift at the time. Later, I came home one night and it was on again, and while still not great I found it to be better than I originally thought (but I had also been drinking). But still not great. Casino Royale set the bar SO high so it is understandable to have a drop off in the second one, but here is hoping they return to some of those heights in the third. It will be cool to see a new, much younger, Q too.

Lincoln (11/16)

I am always wary of big budget biopics, but they are doing something here that I usually like a little better when it comes to these unwieldy things. They are focusing on the last four or five years of Lincoln's life instead of his ENTIRE life, so that's starting out on the right foot. Also having Daniel Day Lewis is another good thing. And I think it is always interesting seeing how Spielberg handles these things.

Zero Dark Thirty (12/19)
Another stacked cast (with Kyle Chandler!) and a director with a proven track record. Even if I only knew her from The Hurt Locker, which was amazing, I would be excited to see Kathryn Bigelow's take on the killing of Osama Bin Laden. If she can make things as tense as she did with The Hurt Locker, and I trust that she can, then it should be something not only timely but special. 

Let's face it though, even if she hadn't directed The Hurt Locker, she would have already reached GOAT status for this classic action movie (and no I am not being facetious):

This Is 40 (12/21)
 This one could be real tricky, I feel like with a different cast and a different director this could be really insufferable. But I am hoping for something funny and maybe heartwarming. Tip the scales too much and you have the last part of Funny People. But I am willing to give it a chance, especially with Apatow at the helm.

Django Unchained (12/25)
A new Quentin Tarantino movie is always an event. And also an excuse to get away from the family or bring them with you on Christmas Day to see it when it opens. This is sure to be controversial (it always is) and maybe he might be going to revenge well once too many times, but let Quentin be Quentin and let him follow his very particular muses. I am always fascinated by people that want him to change and, well, be someone else or do something different. Keep thinking outside of the box like you do and kept making fascinating hopefully interesting and fun movies is what I say. 


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Hit The 50 Movie Mark (and beyond)

Roller Boogie (1979) (49/50 movies)

 I should have saved this one for the VERY last movie, but I was so excited to find it on Netflix Instant (yes, that's a plug, please sponsor our blog) and then to share it with Tina that I just couldn't wait. So here we go, another blogger said that this movie was actually one of the unofficial trilogy of roller disco movies from around this time with Skatetown, U.S.A. (starring a young Patrick Swayze!-I am kicking myself for missing this at the Brattle Theater) and of course, the classic, Xanadu. Made on the relative cheap in eight weeks to try to cash in on the roller disco "craze" which lasted for all of five minutes, the producers were hoping to have another Saturday Night Fever on their hands, unfortunately they missed the mark. (Seriously the < a href="">IMDB Trivia Page
for this movie is a real gem.) It doesn't have the intense campy classicism of Xanadu BUT it does have a plot that dance movies in general have aped before and after: trying to save their local roller disco spot from local gangsters who want to build a mall, and a couple of twists lie therein, and god bless, of course they have a car vs. people on rollerblades chase scene in there, and a beginning with a synchronized roller skating routine down the boardwalk. I mean it is generally ridiculous, the two leads, well Linda Blair seems narcotized and Jim Bray seems, well, he seems like he got hit in the head with a board a lot, but if there was ever a movie of it's time and frozen in amber , it's this one. Jim Bray, of course, this is his only acting turn since, and I actually predicted this before I checked on it, he was a roller skating champion at the time (275 trophies) and they definitely didn't need him for his acting ability.
Rick James pretty much sums up the filmmaking philosophy of the time:

The Change-Up (2011) (50/50 movies)
Well, I hit my 50 movies mark in rather ignominious fashion with this unfunny body swap movie, which opens with Jason Bateman as a harried dad who gets a faceful of poop from one of his babies. It looks like chocolate pudding and things don't go up from there. He switched his body with Ryan Reynolds, his playboy friend living a freewheeling lifestyle in a role Ryan Reynolds has never stopped playing. Listen, the body switch comedy reached it's apex with the Judge Reinhold-Fred Savage comedy, Vice Versa. And yeah, lessons are learned and people discover they love their lives and the people in it yadda yadda yadda. There is nothing new here, it's just wrapped up in what the movie thinks is super edgy humor that really isn't.

So obviously I am going to keep writing about movies, so maybe for the rest of the year I'll add a "plus one" or something, not that anyone is keeping track or truly cares, but you know, it's the kind of stuff I think about.

Heckler (2007) (+ 1 movies)

I am as surprised as anyone about this, but I have to admit that Jamie Kennedy's documentary, Heckler, really made me think, and I can't decide whether he has a point or not or just that performers are going to be naturally more annoyed by criticism of any endeavor. Let me back up, this starts out as a straight forward look at heckling as it pertains to stand up comedy, the idiots at a comedy show who feel the need to yell out or yell at the people on the stage. But then it broadens out to criticism in general, and I have to admit that it made me think, I am not sure whether or not their points are actually right, but it did make me think. It did make me of think of one thing, and I know people involved in a creative endeavor would understand this: I think I understand that knee-jerk reaction to having put in time on a movie for awhile, maybe even a year or two of your life and then having it cut down by shmoes like me who have an internet connection. And it does raise some interesting questions to because even the most terrible movie (see above) people put time and effort into it. Kevin Smith was in a movie with Jennifer Garner, I am forgetting the name of it, but I mean it was a movie that never made an real impact, be he wrote about the day-to-day about making that movie, one where he just acted, not directed, and even the amount of work that went into something like that is pretty amazing. On the same tack a universally reviled movie like Jaws: The Revenge, I happened upon a making-of documentary of that, and even the amount of work that went into it, and even the smallish details is pretty extraordinary, even when the final product is...shall we say, not so great. I guess the moral is I can keep talking about movies and what not (see above, I obviously haven't stopped) but maybe sometimes it's just generally worth it to remember that human beings actually put there time and energy into these endeavors whether they came out well or not, or even, whether we (or I) actually liked it or not.  I know, when I turned this thing on I never thought that it would be so thought provoking but it really was.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Beastie Boys and the Meaning of Life: An Ode to MCA

It would be impossible for me to remain silent following Adam Yauch’s passing. The Beastie Boys meant more to me than any other musical group ever has or ever will. They hit me at a time in my life when music, self-identity and youth were swirling around in a nebulous morass, and they provided a bit of a roadmap on how to view the world and how to act in it. It may seem like I am overstating things, but they really meant that much to me. They really did.

I grew up straddling two different worlds. On one side was the mostly white, working-class, Italian-American town I grew up in. Not a half-mile down the road was one of the roughest cities in Massachusetts, largely Latino and immigrant. It wasn’t like living in a cosmopolitan cultural hub such as New York City, but it made me more worldly than you’d expect, and it exposed me to various aspects of each culture. One of those aspects was music.

From the white kids in my hometown, I encountered 80s pop and hard rock. I fell in love with hair metal and cheesy 80s hits, both of which I adore today. From the Puerto Rican and Dominican kids (and from Yo! MTV Raps), I heard hip hop and rap music. I felt like I was one of a select group of people whose taste inhabited both worlds. During my early teenage years (a time when music is an integral part of your self-identity), I wasn’t sure how to navigate these contradictory tastes. I wasn’t one thing or another; I was a lot of both. When Check Your Head dropped in 1992, everything suddenly started to make sense.

One of the most enduring memories I have of junior high is me and two friends running around my house with the TV cranked up full blast dancing and rapping along to So What Cha Want. Here was a band I could finally relate to. They not only rapped, but also played their own instruments. It felt almost revolutionary at the time.

This is all well and good, but what did the Beasties teach me?

Follow your muses. Be true to yourself. Do some good in the world. And have a little fun doing it. Aren’t these lessons we could all learn from?

One story has always stood out for me that highlights this lesson. This is from DMC writing about the Beasties in Rolling Stone:

“The first time we toured with the Beastie Boys was the Raising Hell tour in 1986: Run-DMC, Whodini, LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys. We were playing the Deep South — Crunkville, before there was crunk — and it was just black people at those shows. The first night was somewhere in Georgia, and we were thinking, "I hope people don't leave when they see them." But the crowd loved them, because they weren't trying to be black rappers. They rapped about shit they knew about: skateboarding, going to White Castle, angel dust and television. Real recognizes real.

It may seem like a cliché, but I saw that staying true to yourself and following your interests in an authentic way was a great step toward finding yourself and gaining respect. This is critical for any teenager, or even any human being, to learn. 

I wasn’t a hip hop guy, I wasn’t a rock guy, I wasn’t a jock, I wasn’t a nerd. I was a mix of all those things. So were they. They rapped about Isaac Newton, doing illicit things to girls with whiffle ball bats, the New York Knicks and even tried to free Tibet.

This mix led them to become perhaps the most influential tastemakers in pop music in the 90s. They released a criminally underrated magazine (Grand Royal) that popularized the term ‘mullet’ for the haircut, they had their own record label and influenced fashion to the point that I looked like Mike D for a good 8 year stretch.

But let’s bring things back to Adam Yauch. He wasn’t necessarily my favorite Beastie; that was always Ad Rock. But in reading the obituaries and listening to the interviews with other members of the Beastie Boys and people close to them, it has become clear that Adam was the beating heart of the group. And in the end, Adam was the one I probably came to respect the most.

He started off just as wild as the other two, if not the most wild. Although they were parodying the frat boy lifestyle, they eventually embraced it. MCA was perhaps the first to see how empty it could be. While recording Paul’s Boutique, he began to take hallucinogenics and explored his spirituality. This eventually led him on a journey to Asia, where he encountered Buddhism.

The wildest of the Beastie Boys was now on a spiritual quest. Part of this was discovering the plight of the Tibetan people in China. He organized the now-legendary Tibetan Freedom Concerts that helped the issue attain a prominence in America that surprised many observers. But when the cause started to overwhelm him, he knew to step back and return to his first love, music.

Despite this increasing spirituality and attention paid to social justice issues, Adam never lost his sense of humor. He created a Humpty Hump-esque alter ego, the famed director Nathaniel Hornblower, who supposedly hailed from a nook in the Swiss Alps. He even crashed the stage at the MTV movie awards dressed as Nathaniel when Sabotage didn’t win best video of the year in 1994:

Adam also embraced growing up and maturity without ever losing that sense of playfulness. He rapped about having grey hair. He felt contrite about some of his antics and misogynism he displayed as a youth. In response, he dropped a few legendary lines on Ill Communication’s 'Sure Shot' about having respect for women, something you don’t hear much of in hip hop, a fact even a lover of the genre such as me has to admit.

Perhaps the thing that really stands out to me now is that he kept trying to stretch his artistic boundaries and follow his interests where they led him. He started to branch out into film, making a well-received documentary about standout high school basketball players in 2008 called Gunnin for that #1 Spot. His production company Oscillascope helped distribute the ill-as-hell Banksy “documentary” Exit Through the Gift Shop in 2010. Yauch was also behind the incredible Beastie concert film “Awesome, I Fuckin Shot That”, which was put together using hand held cameras from the audience.

That’s probably the last lesson the Beasties gave me, and maybe the most important. Never stop growing. I’m 34 and I just started to teach myself piano. I made a vow to start writing more. There are plans to learn another language. We may grow up, we may grow older, but we have to keep challenging ourselves and embracing what life throws at us. We need to put ourselves out there, but also know when to withdraw and move on. And maybe most critically of all, we need to have a sense of humor about everything. Life is too short to take ourselves too seriously. Maybe you shouldn’t dress up like someone from the Swiss Alps on MTV, but definitely have some fun once in awhile.

So Adam Yauch and the Beastie Boys: thank you for everything. You helped me make sense of my life during a pretty confusing time. You showed me that things would be OK if I stayed true to myself and followed what I loved. You taught me that it’s essential to keep searching. And, most critically, to have a sense of humor about it.

 RIP Adam Yauch aka MCA aka Nathaniel Hornblower. You certainly left the world a better place. Namaste. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

It Was A Busy Weekend

Actually, it was pretty laid back, which is good every once in a while you know? I was able to watch a few movies. On that note: I felt particularly movie nerdy on Saturday night (it's a thing-look it up).  Tina went out to see some friends so I was left alone to fend for myself. On Sunday we would talk about what other husbands might do with their time when their wives go out with their lady friends and your friends are all busy? She thought that it must have something to do with sports or porn (we were painting with a broad brush but still....) Me? I delved into some over 3 hour film epics from the early eighties, of course. Here is what I saw this weekend in chronological order of when they were released:

Heaven's Gate (1980) (45/50 movies)
 Is there another movie around that is as difficult talk about as an actual movie, separating it from the intendant baggage that comes along without it? There are very few that comes with as much baggage as Heaven's Gate. Everyone knows the old stories: how because of Michael Cimino's insanity with this picture it pretty much brought to end the filmmaking era of the 70's that was defined by the directors having as much control as possible in crafting their personal visions, while also pretty much bankrupting a movie studio. The movie was so infamous that it inspired it's own book, Final Cut which having finally watched the movie, I'd really like to see now. See? Now that I have all this off my chest and out of the way: the movie.
 You know I actually really liked Cimino's The Deer Hunter but it is unbelievable, after winning all those Oscars, how much leeway United Artists seemed to give him while making what is essentially an anti-Western. He pulled a lot of Kubrickian tantrums, like tearing down whole (and real) buildings that had been built as sets, with an insane addiction to realism at any cost. I'll have to read the book and report back but how he was allowed to do this is just baffling to me, because Stanley Kubrick he definitely was now. From the opening at Harvard (which was shot in England) you get the sense that this movie is groundlessly in love with itself. And to be honest, it's all a bit of a muddle, there is some intriguing ideas in here, overall it is about some wealthy landowners coming down hard on the immigrants moving out West, how the West was Won sort of thing, with a love triangle thrown in there. I dunno, he definitely wanted to make a Western that wasn't exactly a "Western" with the downbeat ending of many a 70's film. But, my goodness, I'm not sure how much this would have helped anything but one of the indulgences they couldn't wrest away from Cimino was the editing, and part of the reason this thing is so long is because he has say gun battles that are not interestingly filmed in the first place go on for way longer than they should have. It's interesting because the Criterion Collection is releasing a director's cut of this movie in December and I am wondering if they are 1) going to clean up the look, there are some lovely shots here but overall it looks muddy and 2) A director's cut? Does that mean it's going to be longer? I don't see how that would make things better. I mean ultimately I think it is an ambitious failure, which might mean something if it didn't come along with the rest.

A side note though, it is interesting watching this to see all these younger actors, or younger actors at the time: Jeff Bridges and Sam Waterston have fairly substantial roles, but then Mickey Rourke shows up and so does Terry O'Quinn in his second movie role, and Brad Dourif, who I recognized but had to look up
The last thing I learned through this is that Jeff Bridges was/is a photographer, he would regularly take pictures on all his sets. The one above is from the set of Heaven's Gate. He actually has a whole book of his photographs out.

One last story about Jeff Bridges and this movie, like I said Michael Cimino had actual real, new buildings built out on the prairies or whatever, one of which was the whorehouse where Isabelle Huppert, the prostitute in the middle of the love triangle, lives and works with the rest of her women. At the end of shooting Michael Cimino offered this building to whomever wanted it and Jeff Bridges took it, dismantled it, got it driven somewhere South where his ranch was and set it back up again. So Bridges now owns that whorehouse on some piece of property. He says it has bullet holes in it from the making of the movie. I thought that, at least, was pretty great.

Reds (1981) (46/50 movies)
 Now here is a 3-hour plus epic I could really sink my teeth into. What's remarkable is that this is obviously a labor of love for Warren Beatty (and, from what I read about it, he had been trying to bring it to the screen for something like ten years) What's nuts about it is that he got it made (directed and co-wrote it) in the early 80's in Reagan's America of all places. It's about American journalist John Reed, the only American buried in the Kremlin, becoming involved in the Communist revolution in Russia and hoping to bring it's spirit and idealism to America. It's just as much about that as it is about labor politics and the fracturing of the labor parties/socialist parties in America, all seen by John Reed. But how do you make something that could be a dry history lesson to the average audience into something more interesting? Beatty seemed to find his hook with the love affair between Reed and Louise Bryant, played here by a really great Diane Keaton, and how in this tumultuous time they lose each other and get back together throughout. Them being reunited at a train station at one point is genuinely moving. The writing here is great from the little character moments to the big action scenes (seriously there are seens of Reed and Bryant trying to find each other by moving through the steppes through Finland and Russia and evading the authorities) It's all really interesting with some really good performances. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that Jack Nicholson's performance as Eugene O' Neill might just be one of if NOT his best performance.

Never Let Me Go (2010) (47/50 movies)

 Based on the book by Kazuo Ishiguro, this movie takes place in an alternate history version of England where in the 50's they started perfecting the technology to clone people and then use the clones to harvest for their organs. In the process doing away with great many illnesses and disease. The movie focuses on three friends (Andrew Garfield, Carey Mulligan, and Keira Knightley) as they slowly find out, from the mysterious boarding school they all attend together, what their actual, true purpose is and how they all cope with that reality, and how they put off the inevitable. Overall, it's a really sad movie, as you might be able to tell just from the premise, but is also very mannered in that specific English way, no Bruckheimerian "The Island", here. It's more like "Remains Of The Day" meets "The Island", it's definitely an interesting take on the material, even though I didn't feel quite so engaged the whole time. One thing is sure, it has some beautiful cinematography at times. Especially when they escape to try and find one of their former teachers from the school in this seaside area of England that looked pretty amazing. It's interesting also to see Andrew Garfield in a somewhat early role before he became Spider-Man, and Carey Mulligan is really good as usual.

The Campaign (2012) (48/50 movies)

A disappointment considering I like a lot of the people involved, and that includes Will Ferrell, Zach Galifiniakis and Adam McKay, who produced, but I wish had directed. This movie just could not have it's cake and eat it too, it wants to be both a McKay-esque crazy comedy with two nuts going at it, and a trenchant political commentary, and it fails at both. To be fair, there were SOME laughs, but they were few and far between, and maybe I was punchy but too many of those laughs came from dog reaction shots, so that pretty much sums that up.


R.I.P. Tony Scott

Just yesterday, as I am sure everyone knows now, director Tony Scott died in an apparent suicide. Tony Scott would release a movie and for better or for worse you could always tell a Tony Scott movie because if there is one thing he had, it was definitely his own style, whether it was put to the best ends was, as per usual, up to the viewer. One thing is for sure, no matter what you thought about Scott, or what you thought about his latter-day output, or even individual movies, there was at least one movie in his filmography that everyone could say they loved whether it was Top Gun or True Romance or Crimson Tide (and the list goes on). Whether that was just a guilty pleasure or whether you thought it was an action classic, was also up to the viewer, but I bet nearly everyone has that one favorite Tony Scott movie. In fact just a week ago, I was talking to my brother and Top Gun came up for some reason. He told me that when he was in graduate school when he needed some time to unwind he would go to the school's video library, take out Top Gun and watch it in the library. He said he must have watched dozens of times if not more during that time. Love or hate him, I am willing to bet that many people have at least one, if not more, Tony Scott movies they really enjoy. Obviously, it's sad when anyone dies, but it's sad when someone with a unique style, and it was definitely unique whether you always liked what he was doing or not, which he brought to something that can be so generic as the action movie genre, decides to leave this world much too early.

This entire tribute was taken from the great Kim Morgan's of Sunset Gun among many many other places, mostly because I couldn't have said it better. This is from her Facebook page:

"I'm absolutely stunned and saddened by the death of Tony Scott, a director I greatly admired and one of the most interesting filmmakers I've ever interviewed. He told me of all his pictures, his favorite movie was True Romance: "I love all 
my films, but True Romance was the best screenplay I ever had. And all that was Quentin [Tarantino]. It was so well crafted. But I did change the end. Originally in Quentin’s version, Patricia [Arquette] pulls over on the freeway and she puts a gun in her mouth. I shot the film in continuity, so by the time I got to the end of shooting the movie I had fallen in love with the two characters and it was a love story so I wanted these characters to live." Rest in peace Tony Scott."

Of course, as usual, the The AV Club has a really good obituary for him.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Two More Movies

Bachelorette (2012) (43/50 movies)
I caught this on On Demand and I think of any movie can prove just what a special accomplishment Bridesmaids actually was it's this one. Bridesmaids nailed the ideas of growing up around a story that juggled being funny and being heartfelt and was able to keep all those balls in the air. Here, with Bachelorette it can't handle it and it mostly leads to some jarring tonal shifts. BUT and here's the big but, not big enough where I can say you should run out and see this right away, but perhaps it's worth a look someday: for the most part I did enjoy it for reasons that are both surprising and not surprising: 1) Party Down reunion with Adam Scott and Lizzy Caplan! 2) A Surprisingly funny turn from James Marsden of all people, and Isla Fisher I found really funny, if not sort-of one note, and 3) I am a sucker for a movie that gets people stuck in a problem or "adventure" that they have to figure out over the course of one evening: here the macguffin is their friend's ruined wedding dress. Your mileage is going to vary here because this isn't Kristen Wiig and these "friends" are waaaay more acerbic, sometimes to the point of wondering why the bride would be friends with them (but then again being grandfathered in from high school actually explains a lot). There is one thing I REALLY did like about this though: the two people getting married, the guy was just a regular, tall, good looking guy and, and this SHOULDN'T seem or sound revolutionary, but the bride is played by Rebel Wilson, who played the sister half of the British brother-sister combo that Kristen Wiig lived with in Bridesmaids. My point being is I like the fact that this is a big girl marrying a hunky guy and besides some references to what people used to call her in high school it's never made into a thing, beyond the fact that her friends can't believe that she is one getting married first, but that's also because they are kind of horrible people. It's never a thing, and her more conventionally pretty friends are left on the sideline watching her getting married, and, as I said, this shouldn't seem like a dominant idea is being subverted, but in the world of the rom com (or, let's be honest, popular cinema in general) I feel like it really is.

Warrior (2011) (movies 44/50)
WOW. After Tina and I finished watching this the other night all we could do was sit an stunned silence. It speaks volumes about the writing (and acting) on display here that movie so filled with not only sports movie cliches, but clearly preposterous twists leading up to the final showdown never felt marred by this preposterousness.There’s absolutely nothing new here, but Warrior wrings every last bit of rousing, feel-good energy out of the tired sports-movie template to create a hugely entertaining movie that just happens to be about MMA. Warrior hits the trifecta of great acting, vicious beat-downs, and not one but two populist underdog tales that hit all the right spots.  It’s Rocky times two: Twice the violence, twice the underdog story, and twice the acting abilities. I mean even the fact that they manage to shoehorn in an unstoppable Russian fighter and it STILL doesn't detract says a lot (played by Kurt Angle, of course). Just a note on the acting front: one of the things that I found/funny interesting was the fact that here was a British man (Hardy) and an Australian (Edgerton) playing Irish-American brothers from Pittsburgh. True Confessions: I may or may not have been tearing up from the time the brothers (spoiler?) have a confrontation on the Atlantic City beach until the end. May or may not have happened, who can tell?


Monday, August 13, 2012

Happy Birthday, Alfred Hitchcock

Oh, to be able to have a birthday party and have Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in attendance.