Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Where Are They Now? The 80's Skin Flicks

What happened to the 80's Skin Flick?

A group of guys, maybe in college or maybe older, set out to take a vacation on the beach or head to the mountains to do some tanning/skiing. Someone has a kick-ass beach-front house/cabin at the foot of a mountain or has a friend who owns a kick-ass beach-front house/cabin at the foot of a mountain. The babes flow like wine and they have names like Candy and Sunny. Wet t-shirt contests are the criteria for which all women are judged. The beer bongs go on for miles. No ethnic stereotype goes unexploited. No illegal drug goes unused. The hair is big the breasts are bigger. And most importantly, the skin is on parade for all to see.

What happened to this lost art?

I'm talking specifically about Spring Break, Hardbodies and Hot Dog The Movie. Every childhood male fantasy projected against a big screen in full-glorious technicolor. Simple plots where the biggest conflict is whether a guy can win the big splash contest and nail the hot lead singer of the all girl band within the same day. Man, those were the days. And why can't we have more of them? With the amount of shit that goes straight to DVD, why can't we still have a few gems such as these? Give me back the thongs and the roller skates and the hot tubs and the skinny dipping and the sex in public places.

Am I asking too much? It's not like you would have to tap Paul Haggis to write. Just grab a dude. Any dude. Give him a sixer or a twelver, a couple of pencils, a simple plot line like Uncle Jerry has owned a Ski Lodge/Beach Hotel for 35 years but a local land shark threatens to tear it down for a shopping mall if Uncle Jerry can't make his payments. Nephew Jeff and his two buddies Fish and Scooter come to help Uncle Jerry save the Lodge/Hotel. Lock the dude in a hotel room for about a day to write and voila, you have your next Bunny Season or Sunny Tails or Thongs and Beer Bongs (you have my permission to use any of those).

It is time for the pendulum to swing back. For all of us to lower our standards just a bit, to regress a pinch and remember what got us through our tumultuous teens. It is time again to expect that if a woman is wearing a white t-shirt, it's going to get drenched. It is time again for bunnies to have long blond hair, big gorgeous racks and to hop from bed to bed. It is time again for the 80's Skin Flicks. We have waited long enough.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Enough About Oscar


I didn't want to write anymore about Oscar and here I am. I am so pissed about how pissed people are getting about the show. Man, it's getting out of control. Mark Ebner needs to seriously get things into perspective. Has everyone turned into Steven Cojocaru? Enough with the catty remarks.

With a few exceptions, I'm pretty much with Burbanked on this whole thing. It's an award show. It's not a science. Millions of people watch it. Good luck getting them to agree on anything. So just watch it, have some drinks and enjoy yourself.

No presenter will ever be up to snuff. No single film will be that deserving. No actor will be humble enough, or say enough. Accept the facts and move on.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Top Five Tuesdays (T5T) goes chrome dome

Man, did you see Jack Nicholson at the Oscars?

Sorry, stupid question.

Who knows why Nicholson did it. For a movie? Is this the equivalent of Laura Flynn Boyle's pink pixie dress a few years back? Anyways, there seems to be a lot of eight ball going round these days. So let's not shy away from it, let's embrace it.

Give me your Top 5 movies with someone who is bald.

1. Citizen Kane Orson Wells goes cue ball in his later years as Charles Foster Kane.

2. Apocalypse Now Marlon Brando insanity is only heightened by his chrome dome.

3. Pitch Black Vin Diesel plays Riddick the anti-hero in this great sci-fi movie.

4. American History X Nothing goes better with "curbing" then a beefed up, skin-headed Ed Norton.

5. V for Vendetta Natalie Portman goes sans locks for this role and still manages to look smokin' hot.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

What if...

Oscars are over, let's move on shall we?

I grew up loving comics. Still do, but since I've grown I call them Graphic Novels. Makes me less embarrassed.

Anyways, growing up I loved all sorts of comics. And especially the "What if..." comics. What if Captain America ran for President? What if Aunt May had died instead of Uncle Ben? What if indeed. It's fun to think about these things. What series of events would have followed. Would Peter Parker still be Spiderman? And although I don't read those comics anymore, I still like to play the What if... game.

I was watching Sin City last night and every time I see that movie, I appreciate it a bit more. I think maybe when I first saw it, I may have hyped it a bit too much. So I was originally disappointed by it, but impressed by what it had done visually. Seeing it more makes me appreciate the stories being told and the writing. Especially the story "The Big Fat Kill" with Mickey Rourke playing Marv.

Marv: I'll stare the bastard in the face as he screams to God, and I'll laugh harder when he whimpers like a baby. And when his eyes go dead, the hell I send him to will seem like heaven after what I've done to him.

I also enjoyed "That Yellow Bastard" with Bruce Willis.

Hartigan: An old man dies. A young girl lives. A fair trade. I love you, Nancy.

So gritty. So surreal the images and the dialogue. It's not the way people really talk, but you wish it were.

So this time when I watched it, I paid less attention to the visuals and more to the writing and I couldn't help but think of The Dark Knight series also written by Frank Miller. Miller borrows a lot from himself. Marv and Hartigan are two sides of Bruce Wayne, the failing old man and the rage that still keeps his heart ticking. And so I played What if...

What if Rodriguez and Frank Miller had done the Dark Knight series. How fucking cool what that have been? The same look and dialogue, ripped literally from the pages. Man that would have been something. I didn't go as far with What if... to decide who would have played Bruce Wayne, or the Joker.

So if Rodriguez and Miller would have made The Dark Knight it begs the question - what of Tim Burton's Batman? It was good at the time, but it's dated now. The Prince soundtrack doesn't hold up, and the movie never aspired to be anything more than a comic book movie. Nicholson as The Joker was a master stroke, but I think his persona took away from the overall creepiness of the character. In the end Batman wasn't dark enough.

And then what about Batman Begins? It was better. Much better. Nolan captured the fear and rage of the man behind the mask. And he made him real. A lot more real than Batman did. In Batman he was a comic book character. In Batman Begins Bruce Wayne was a real man. More along the lines of the struggling character of Miller's Dark Knight. And not only does Batman Begins play well as a comic book movie, it plays well as a movie. You don't have to love comics to love this movie. So What if...

What if we could go back in time and change things? Rid the world of Batman and Robin? Absolutely. But risk the chance of Schumacher not screwing up the franchise only for Nolan to come in and save it all over again? I'm not sure. But to see The Dark Knight on the big screen the way it was on the page. What if...

That really would have been something.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Grindhouse Trailers Are Here

I wrote in a previous post how SXSW had a trailer competition for the upcoming Grindhouse movie.

We'll they're here. Thanks to Abattoir - Rue Morgue's Blog for the post on the trailers.

There are good, bad and ugly. I've seen a few and I agree that the Cong Of The Dead trailer is pretty damn good. It looks like some have sunk a bunch of money into these trailers and they're at least worth a view.

Why I Love Oscar

I have spent the last week beating up on Oscar.

I wrote a few comments on blog The House Next Door. Robert had written a very good post as part of the Contrarian Blog-a-Thon at scanners:blog about why he didn't care much for A Clockwork Orange (it was actually a deeper examination then just that, but I'm simplifying here for the purpose of getting to my point). A lot of people called Robert a Kubrick-hater for what he had written and I said that those people are missing the point. You have to love something to pick it apart. Or why bother.

Haven't we all heard the timeless phrase we beat-up the things we love? Okay, maybe not. But I always have high hopes for Oscar. And believe it will do the right thing. But the people behind Oscar are human and with humans there are errors. Like missing Scorsese for Goodfellas or Glen Close for Dangerous Liaisons or not nominating United 93. The arguments go on and on and a lot further back then I have taken them. I could be skeptical and dismiss Oscar as an awards ceremony that is nothing more than a bunch of Hollywood people patting themselves on the back. A ceremony that's more interested in marketing than true work. But I can't be that way. I want Oscar to mean something. And for that to happen, I have to try to keep it honest and call bullshit when I see it (it's funny, I talk as if I have some kind of influence.)

So that's why I've beat up on Oscar this past week. Because I want it to be the best award it can be. Not to be dismissed by some as a meaningless award. I want it to mean something so that when someone says "this is the best picture because it won the Oscar" no one debates it. But that's near impossible because art is subjective so there will always those who love certain movies and those who hate them. But I think Oscar can do better. And I want it to. Because I love it.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Some Wounds Never Heal

In 1990 Martin Scorsese lost to Kevin Costner for Best Director and at that moment a sword plunged into me piercing skin and veins and nicking major arteries and damaging fully-functional organs. It was painful and bloody and I screamed and did a little crying.

It took years and years of rehab at a nice L.A. location that has really good coffee and an on-the-premises massage therapist named Chloe. I had to learn to walk again and form sentences and how to trust and smile because man was I messed up. I mean can you blame me? Kevin Frickin' Costner who mowed down a field of corn to build a baseball field pulled down the trophy of trophies for Dances With Wolves. And there sat Marty, I'm sure flipping off every academy voter from behind his lush red chair trying to grin and bear it. And can you blame him? How can you not mention Goodfellas and masterpiece in the same sentence. And who the hell wants to get into a discussion longer than 3 seconds about Dances With Wolves.

So here we are some 16 years later and I am somewhat back to normal, but that wound has still never healed. It has re-opened a couple of times. Like when James Cameron won for Best Director. But I am much better now, thank you.

So you would think that since there seems to be no doubt that Scorsese will walk away with Best Director come Sunday, the wound would heal once and for all. Not true. Why? Because it's a gimme. It's a make-up for past wrongs. Scorsese doesn't deserve it for The Departed like he deserved it for Goodfellas. Not even close. The stars were aligned for Goodfellas and the Academy missed it. They fucked up. The Oscar will look pristine and shiny when Scorsese holds it, but it will be damaged goods. And that still hurts.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Little Picture That Shouldn't

There has been word that Little Miss Sunshine might prove spoiler come Sunday night at the Oscars for Best Picture. I'm sure there are lots of people who would just be giddy to see this cute little feel-good film take the top honor.

But not me.

Why? Because Little Miss Sunshine is nothing more than a cute little feel-good film. There seems to be some confusion between movies that make you feel good and good movies. Are they mutually exclusive? No. But when I saw Little Miss Sunshine I thought it was a nice movie. Not a great movie. A nice movie. I laughed at how crass Alan Arkin's character was and I laughed at the end when the little girl did her unexpected dance. Steve Carell did a nice job and I'm always a fan of Greg Kinnear. It was a road-trip movie with pretty cut-and-dry characters. No real complexities or heavy layers. And don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the movie. But let's not make it more than it is. And you know what? I'll hate the movie then. The little feel-good movie will be the movie I bad-mouth at every opportunity because if it wins Best Picture, it didn't deserve it. That's how I'm wired, good or bad.

So when I heard that it could prove spoiler, I thought oh no, here we go again. Last year, Oscar did the same thing with Crash. It was the unexpected. It was the underdog. You could practically feel the momentum gaining for Crash during the ceremony. Crash was hardly a feel good movie and I would argue that it wasn't even a really good movie. Unless you love plot-lines that are about 20 years old and a script written with one of the heaviest hands in Hollywood.

I can see the thinking. Voters checking the Little Miss Sunshine box thinking they are sending a message that says "hey, Oscar likes independent movies." And that's a load of crap. The Oscars shouldn't be about sending messages or making up for past mistakes (Scorsese anyone?) or trying to create a good headline "The Little Picture That Could" or "The Sun Shines On Little Miss Sunshine" or "Little Miss Golden Sunshine" or "Not a cloud in the sky, Little Miss Sunshine wins Best Picture." It should be about awarding the best movie, the best performance, the best writing, the best whatever for that year. It seems that it has become a political mess. And giving top honors to the feel good movie when it isn't deserving isn't going to make me feel any better about Oscar.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Will Wes Anderson Ever Get An Oscar?

I think few would debate that Wes Anderson is one of the greatest filmmakers directing today. And if you're willing to debate it, I'm game.

But despite his impressive filmography thus far, and his promising future, the question can't help but be begged - will Wes ever walk off stage clutching the golden bald man. And then the question that follows is - do we care? Not if it means losing the quark and humanism that is his signature. I would hate to see him compromise, make his characters a little bit less off, his subject matter more serious, his plots a little more appealing to the masses.

But yeah, I would like to see him get the coveted award. If not for directing, maybe writing.

So does Oscar catch up with Wes or does Wes change for Oscar?

It's hard to say that his movies haven't been clicking on all cylinders. Rushmore was nearly flawless. And I would argue that Royal Tennenbaums was even better. So what's missing? What needs to change? Does he need more history? More films under his belt? Or will he forever be seen as a brilliant director that is nothing more than a square peg trying to fit in the round hole.

And then if he does win an Oscar what will become of him? Will he be the same? It hasn't changed Soderbergh any. So many questions. Very few answers. The book has yet to be written for Anderson. And I'm waiting for the next chapter.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

When Oil and Water Mix it's Punch Drunk Love

This is my second post for the Contrarianism Blog-a-Thon: Do the Contrarian (III) at scanners:blog.

I love it when actors do the contrary.

When comedians do serious fare. When serious actors do comedy. It's a little gimmicky, but I like it nonetheless. The only problem is that when this happens it usually has less to do with performance and more to do with marketing. It's not honest.

But when I first saw the names Adam Sandler and Paul Thomas Anderson together, my interest perked. A comedian doing more serious fare and a serious director doing something a little more comedic (Your peanut butter is in my chocolate. No your chocolate is in my peanut butter).

And I wasn't disappointed. Punch Drunk Love is a romantic comedy like no other. Just ask the dozen or so people that walked out within the first 15 minutes expecting another Waterboy or 50 First Dates. They should have stayed because what followed for the next hour and twenty minutes was a romance sliced like no other before it.

There's no reason why it should work between Lena (Emily Watts) and Barry (Adam Sandler) and maybe it doesn't once the cameras turn off. The two are about as contrary as you can get. Barry is a sad sack that's constantly haunted by his seven sisters controlling his every move and that has made him a bit strange. Before he meets Lena, his happiest moments are at the grocery store buying Healthy Choice Pudding and fantasizing where he's going to go with all the airline miles he's going to win through the loophole he's discovered in the sweepstakes. Lena on the other hand is a sweet attractive woman who in reality could do much better than Barry. But maybe she needs a project. Or maybe she's as lonely as Barry and it is their attention towards one another that fulfills their relationship. Either way, it works because as the title suggests, it doesn't matter how weird and wacky love gets, you just go with it.

It's true that Adam Sandler does an excellent job as Barry. Paul Thomas Anderson made a wise choice in casting him, using his physical awkwardness as an advantage. And Sandler has always had an intensity about him that has consistently come out in his comedy. Anderson uses this to show the desperation in Barry's character, as first seen in the violent conclusion of the birthday party. And every time Philip Seymour Hoffman steps in front of the camera, he is solid gold as Dean the sleazy owner of a mattress warehouse that doubles as a phone sex operation. But really there are two scenes that make this movie for me.

The first is when Barry and Lena are in bed together. They engage in some very strange pillow talk.

Barry: I'm lookin' at your face and I just wanna smash it. I just wanna fuckin' smash it with a sledgehammer and squeeze it. You're so pretty.

Lena: I want to chew your face, and I want to scoop out your eyes and I want to eat them and chew them and suck on them.

Barry: OK. This is funny. This is nice.

This is the first real connection between the two, albeit a strange one. But it's simple and honest. All guards are down and they are both putting themselves out there for one another. There's no trial time with this relationship, no chance of warming up. This is the way that Barry is and Lena reciprocates in kindness.

The second scene is towards the end when Barry confronts Dean at the mattress warehouse.

Barry: I didn't do anything. I'm a nice man. I mind my own business. So you tell me that's that before I beat the hell from you. I have so much strength in me you have no idea. I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine. I would say that's that mattress man.

In this paragraph of dialogue is the core of the movie and really the core of every romantic movie. Love makes you feel great. It makes you feel like you can do anything. But no one has captured it like this. They've given the character a little more spring in his step, or made him nice when he was mean before, but no movie made the character invincible. And that's what love is when you take Hollywood away. It's invincibility. Dean could be ten times Barry's size and Barry would have said the same thing because nothing can bring him down. Not his past, his sisters, not the fear of a strange man, and certainly not the unknowns of his newfound relationship.

This movie is more than Adam Sandler and Paul Thomas Anderson going against type. It's about two unlikely people falling hard, and we can't help but fall right with them.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Grandpa Joe The Imposter

This post is an entry for the Contrarianism: Do the Contrarian (Part III) at scanners:blog.

Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory
, the childhood fantasy that we all grew up watching, is not without its darkness.

And let's be clear that I'm speaking of the original and not the hack-work that is Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, the remake by Tim Burton.

Mr. Slugworth is a deep dark character that lurks in places light doesn't reach. He quickly comes out to whisper a deal in the ear of an unknowing child and then just as quickly retreats into nowheresville.

The Wonka Factory is a dark place, unknown and unexplored for years and years. Who knows what things come out of that place, other than the best Scrumdidilyumptious bars one's ever tasted.

The Oompa Loompas are dark little creatures that go about their everyday business, but are they peaceful? If I were to pet one would I pull back a stump? And why so glum with their music?

And Willy Wonka himself might be the darkest figure of them all, with his little asides to no one but himself and his quick and blase dismissal of every child. And what of his soliloquy on the WonkaTania.

There's no earthly way of knowing. Which direction we are going. There's no knowing where we're rowing. Or which way the river's flowing. Is it raining. Is it snowing. Is a hurricane-a-blowing. Not a speck of light is showing. So the danger must be growing. Are the fires of hell a glowing? Is the grisly reaper mowing? Yes! The danger must be growing. For the rowers keep on rowing. And they're certainly not showing. Any signs that they are slowing!

But he's not. None of these things can hold a candle to the darkness that is Grandpa Joe. Contrary to what everyone has come to believe, Grandpa Joe is not the sweet, lovable old-man everyone thought he was.

Case in point. How many years does Grandpa Joe lay in bed with Grandpa Georgina and Grandma Josephine while Charlie and his Mom toil, washing clothes and delivering papers so that they can survive? 10 years? 15? And when Grandpa Joe does have money what does he spend it on? Tobacco for himself. Does he need tobacco to survive? Absolutely not and it's quite obvious that the family has no disposable income to speak of. But I'm just scratching the surface here.

So Charlie loses his head and buys himself a Wonka bar after the hype of the contest has passed because it is thought that everyone has won. But he finds a Golden Ticket because the last winner was an impostor. Charlie quickly runs home to tell everyone about the great news and in passing says that he would love to invite Grandpa Joe, but he knows that would be impossible because Grandpa Joe has been bed-ridden for years. Or has he?

Suddenly, Grandpa Joe can walk. Sure he stumbles here and there, but sure as anything Grandpa Joe can walk. When things are all gloom and doom, Grandpa can't move to save his life. But when there's fame and fortune to be had, Grandpa's kicking up his heels. When he sings "I've got the golden ticket" is not in reference to the Wonka ticket, but to the gravy train he has been riding for years.

So what does Grandpa do with his new found vigor? Does he fold some clothes for Mom, change a bed-pan or push a broom? No, he gets dressed and goes with Charlie to the rave to end all raves.

For years I have buried this harsh truth, unable and unwilling to confront what was right in front of me the entire time. Grandpa Joe, while probably a very friendly man with a quick handshake and how-do-ya-do, is one of the most manipulative, deceptive movie characters to grace the big screen. Hats off to Jack Albertson for pulling off a role that makes Keyser Soze look like a girl scout.

Happy Self Love Week: The Directorial Cameo

I'm going to finish off this week with the ultimate act of self love which is the directorial cameo.

When did the directorial cameo begin?

Jean Renoir in La Bete humaine?

And why did it begin in the first place? To save money? Because there was no one better? Out of desperation? Out of ego?

No matter, the directorial cameo is here and here to stay, so it's worth examining. So let's break it down. There are lots of degrees of the directorial cameo.

There's the see if you can find me cameo a la Alfred Hitchcock.

There's the has some dialogue but not too much as to botch the movie cameo which belongs to the likes of Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Mel Brooks.

There's the director title isn't enough so I'm also going to star in it cameo and that goes to Spike Lee, Albert Brooks, Orson Wells and Clint Eastwood.

And then there's Woody Allen. I have loved him in Sleeper and Love and Death and Annie Hall and Radio Days and Crimes and Misdemeanors and New York Stories and good God somebody stop me. And when Woody isn't starring in his own movies, he's casting someone that can play his own neurotic, stammering bad self, like John Cusak or Will Ferrell. It wouldn't be so bad if Woody didn't put out about six movies a year.

There's no denying that Alfred Hitchcock's cameos are cool in that he makes it a point to not stand out. I would have to say that Scorsese's cameo in Taxi Driver is both brilliant and deeply disturbing. Spike Lee is excellent in all his movies. David Lynch playing agent Gordon Cole makes me laugh every single time. And I would have to argue that I can't really see anyone else in the role of Charles Foster Kane other than Orson Wells and knowing how egotistical Wells was, I'm not sure there was no one better to understand the character than him.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure that there has been one single movie that has suffered because of a director casting himself/herself. It might have been better, but I don't know that it was worse. But then again, I haven't seen Steven Soderbergh in Schizopolis.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Happy Self Love Week: Jennifer Lopez

Outside of Out Of Sight, I'm not sure that Jennifer Lopez (I refuse to call her JLo, dammit I just did) has ever proved that she should be taken seriously. But she seems to think differently. Evidently, she is only to be referred to as "No. 1" by her guards. And they are not to make eye contact or speak directly to her.

And more recently, she sent a recording studio a three page list of demands including changing all the light bulbs so they make Jennifer look more "desirable."

I have an idea about how to make Lopez look more "desirable." On her knees, kissing my ass.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lovesick Blog-a-Thon: Damn You John Hughes

Growing up, I loved John Hughes movies. Still do. But they screwed me up, man.

The beautiful Prom Queen doesn't wake up in the arms of the geek she's never paid attention to and immediately fall in love. There are no settings pretty enough, no parents willing enough, no tables strong enough, no clothing flame-retardant enough for me to celebrate my 16th birthday or my 36th which is actually today. But Sixteen Candles made me believe it could happen.

I cannot make a Kelly LeBrock hottie from my computer that shows me some love, makes me overcome all my short-comings, makes me popular and then hands me off to another hottie more my age. But Weird Science made me hope it could happen.

But the truth is, it doesn't. Life rarely provides you with a nice little bow in which to wrap things up. Things are much more complicated than that. But that's why we go to the movies. To see the perfect ending. To forget our troubles for at least an hour and a half. And while I'm jaded and skeptical about movies, I do so much love the perfect ending.The long shot of Sam kissing Jake over the cake. Of Ferris kissing Sloane in front of a piece of art in The Chicago Art Institute. It is far-fetched sure, but it is what I want to believe could happen. So simple, so peaceful, so perfect.

But that's movies. And this is life. And in life I have no Hollywood perfect moments. But I do have perfect moments. I have the seconds in-between my children hitting one another or yelling for us to get a glass of juice where I can kiss the small of my wife's neck and smell the baby-powder she wears and then remember that exact smell the first time I kissed her in her apartment and how wonderful that was and still is and how lucky I am to have found my partner in life. One that I love and makes me feel so loved. Granted, we were not silhouetted against a perfectly lit piece of artwork, but it was perfect.

I also have two children that when they don't make me crazy because they're not listening, or pinching too much, or not pooping when they should, amaze me with something they say or something they do and for that moment everything is perfect and I love my children so much it scares me because if I lost them I could not live. Granted, there was no perfect soundtrack playing underneath us, but the moment was still perfect.

It's taken some years and a few ramblings such as this, but I have gotten over my John Hughes complex and accepted life as it really is. Time made up of perfect moments poorly lit and slightly botched by mediocre dialogue by a less than photogenic man who must be the nephew of the director because why the hell else would he be cast in this. But perfect moments, nonetheless.

You can find the Lovesick Blog-a-Thon at 100 films.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Happy Self Love Week: James Cameron

In 1997, everyone sips the same drug-laced drink and claims that the floating turd that is Titanic is some kind of masterpiece.

Except a few. Among them is the L.A. Times.

"What audiences end up with word-wise is a hackneyed, completely derivative copy of old Hollywood romances, a movie that reeks of phoniness and lacks even minimal originality."

This enrages James Cameron and he demands that the reviewer get fired.

Later that year, James Cameron wins Best Director at the Oscars, forever tainting the award. During his acceptance speech he shouts out "King Of The World!"

What have you done lately Kingy?

Top 5 Tuesdays (T5T) Gets Romantic

It's Tuesday, February 13th. A day before Valentine's Day. So lay it on.

Give me your Top 5 romantic movies. Give me the sap, baby.

Sub category: I will also accept the top 5 hottest sex scenes.

Here are mine.

Punch Drunk Love Adam Sandler and Emily Watts are as unlikely a romantic duo as you can find, but this works. And I have never seen a movie capture the power that love gives you the way that this film does.

Sabrina The remake with Harrison Ford. Man, something inside must be broken, but I loved this movie.

Four Weddings and a Funeral Andie McDowell almost kills it with one of her last lines "is it raining, I hadn't noticed" but this movie still holds for me.

Sixteen Candles This is a dream. The geek gets the girl and Sam gets her man. I will forever love this movie.

When Harry Met Sally This movie is great because you really feel the length of their relationship. The awkwardness of a friendship becoming something more and then the discovery of love.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Happy Self Love Week: Vincent Gallo

It's Valentines week and what better time to feature people who love themselves far more than anyone else ever could. Which leads me to my first person, Spooky Gallo.

Spooky Gallo of the Buffalo 66 and The Brown Bunny fame (man I'm funny) has agreed to put himself up as an escort for the ladies on his website. Yes it's true, if you want the lanky spook you can have him (sorry dudes, just the ladies) for just $50,000. Only $100,000 for the weekend or if you're a lesbian couple.

But before you call and place the order, you are asked to screen The Brown Bunny to see if you can handle him.

Tell you what. I'll pay $20 if someone can get close enough to knee him in the balls so hard he will never reproduce.

Needy Film #2 After Hours

It's time again to speak of needy films. And this needy film is Martin Scorsese's After Hours.

Heard of it?

When you step back and look at Scorsese's filmography, it's easy to gloss over this film and forget that Scorsese won the Best Director at Cannes for it. And with all this talk about the grittiness of The Departed, it's important to remember that Scorsese has some pretty good comedy chops too.

The plot is simple. Imagine a nightmare. Any nightmare that involves you being trapped and trying to get out and bad things are happening all around you. That's After Hours.

More specifically, it's about Paul (Griffin Dunne) a bored computer programmer and how he meets Marcy (Roseanna Arquette) one night at a coffee shop. She invites him over later that night to SOHO and it is in SOHO that Paul gets entangled in a complicated web of unfortunate events over the next 12 hours or so.

This movie is so fast and furious that it literally screams for repeat viewings. The first time I saw this movie, I hated it because it got under my skin so much. The second time, I had a blast. Scorsese takes after this material with such zest, how can you not?

What I love so much about this film is Scorsese's knack for comedy. Who knew that the same guy that could make you squirm with a brutal beating could also make you double over in laughter. Scorsese leaves the intensity of Mean Streets and Taxi Driver behind and creates comedy so subtle, you have to view this movie again (or at least pause a lot) to pick up every nuance. There is no better example of this than when Paul meets Julie (Terri Garr) a miserable waitress who thinks that it's still the 1950s. Julie invites Paul up to her room and it's there that if you blink you'll miss the wall of Aqua Net cans and the mouse traps that surround her bed.

The other thing you can't help but noticing about After Hours is the cinematography by Michael Ballhaus. The camera wanders through scenes picking up every small detail as if through the eyes of Paul. When the scene is boring, the camera is locked down. When the scene is fast and furious, the camera fluidly zooms through the action. At the beginning of the film as Paul educates a new employee, his eyes drift as the employee drones on to Paul. Scorsese could have communicated Paul's boredom and despair with a blank stare, but instead the camera picks up every mundane detail that Paul sees. Papers shuffling, carts wheeling by, etc. Ballhaus makes you feel Paul's desperation. Later when Paul enters a punk-rock club, the camera is everywhere moving furiously from one thing to the next.

At the end of the movie, as Paul gets dumped off in front of the building in which he works, you know that Paul's night of misadventure is over and a new day of monotony is about to begin again. And even though you know Paul has been put through the ringer, you can't help but think he's a little bit better for the hell he has just been put through. And so are we.

Movie trivia: The script is written by Joseph Minion. It was his thesis while at Columbia Film School. Think he got an 'A'?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Truth Hurts George

George Lucas bags on The Empire Strikes Back and nerds everywhere start lifting weights to kick Lucas' ass.

This weekend as George Lucas was at the Publicists Guild Award and thanks to The Hot Blog, this is the quote that came out of his hole as he presented the award to Sid Ganis, who was the in-house publicist on Empire:

"Sid is the reason why The Empire Strikes Back is always written about as the best of the films, when it actually was the worst one."

Episodes 1 through 3 sucked so bad that I hope Lucas goes to his death bed haunted by the fact that the best one of the bunch is the one he had the least to do with.

Now it's true that Empire almost bankrupted Lucas and that Kershner was not great to work with, but it's also true that Empire is the best one and that Lucas has single-handedly destroyed this franchise. Lucas needs to take that bitter pill and choke on it a bit.

Gag Time With Rupert

It's Gag Time again with your stars Rupert Murdoch, owner of 20th Century Fox and his wife Wendi.

Rupert: Hey Wendi, come here.

Wendi: What is it?

Rupert: Okay listen up.

Wendi: Okay.

Rupert: Are you listening?

Wendi: Yes

Rupert: Okay here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to stare and point at a spot on your blouse and then I'm going to say that you have spilled something on your blouse. You are going to look down trying to see the spill and that's when I'm going to take my finger and flick your nose, catching you off guard and making me laugh. Alright?

Wendi: Rupert, why are you telling me this?

Rupert: Hey Wendi, you've got a spot on your blouse right here.

Wendi: ....

Rupert: It's right here Wendi. Why aren't you looking? Okay anyways, I've got this hand buzzer. I'm going to ask you to shake hands and when you do, you're going to get a small shock from the buzzer. It's going to scare you and I'm going to laugh.

Wendi: I'm leaving.

Rupert: Wait, where are you going? I haven't explained how I'm going to surprise you with this whoopee cushion.

Note to Rupert: Thanks for letting everyone in on the gag by announcing that Fox is going to do a Borat 2. Dumbass.

Friday, February 9, 2007

In Loving Memory Of Original Thought

Today at 3:45 p.m. central time, Original Thought was pronounced dead with the discovery that the movie Spies Like Us was going to be remade. Original Thought had been on life-support for several years, trying to battle cliched ideas and remake after remake after remake. It was thought to have not been able to recover from the frame-for-frame remake of Psycho, but Original Thought made a miraculous recovery only to be leveled by this recent bit of bad news.

Mystery somewhat shrouds the death since no one seems to know why Spies Like Us would be remade. It's not like it was a good idea to begin with.

Original Thought is survived by three kids, Creativity, New and Imaginative, all who are currently very ill.

Original Thought's Family asks that you donate large sums of money to independent cinema.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Plot Farm 1.2

It's time yet again for another edition of Plot Farm where I give you 10 words or phrases to help you create your very own original movie plot. Use them all or only a few. It doesn't need to be a novel if you don't want. Just a paragraph, or a sentence. What would you pitch to a studio?

Let's see it.

A hot summer
A competition
A camera
Daddy issues
A machine gun
Special forces

My Generation Movie

Everyone has a generation movie. One that defines them, their thoughts, their feelings.

The Big Chill was a huge generation movie.

For a while I didn't have a generation movie. I loved Say Anything and Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, but I was still too young when that stuff came out. It didn't feel completely like it was talking to me.

But then I saw Fight Club. And everything changed. Fight Club talked of materialism and filling the shoes already purchased for you and following the path well traveled. It talked of sleeping through life and not really feeling alive. And I thought, that's me. Not completely, but yeah that's me.

Granted Fight Club is extreme if taken literally. I didn't walk away from that movie saying that I need to get in a fight and blow up buildings to truly feel alive. I saw the metaphor of what happens when you take away everything that you think you stand for. Or everything that you think stands for you.

I am a Generation Xer. I stand for nothing except what people have tried to label me with. Even Generation X is a label. I have no great depression or great war that has helped me. There were no great protests to help define who I am or who I belong to. We are a generation of everything else. A sloppy mashing of different things from different generations. And Fight Club said "Fuck That" you define yourself.

"You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world."

We all need a little Tyler Durden in us. An alter-ego that keeps us honest and makes us take chances and calls bullshit when we get all caught up in stupid shit.

To me the pivotal scene in this movie, the one that sums it up about who we are and what this movie is about is the scene where Tyler pulls Raymond K. Hessle out of the convenience store. He asks Raymond what he wants to be. Raymond says he wants to be a Veterinarian. Tyler tells him that Raymond is to leave this aimless job to go and do what he really wants. If he sees him at this convenience store again, he will kill him. And as Raymond runs into the night, Tyler says this quote:

"Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessle's life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever had."

That scene and that quote hit me the hardest. How many of us are going through life in situations we hate? Relationships we hate? Jobs we hate because we are too afraid of shifting direction. Of taking chances. Of saying fuck it all, throwing everything we know or have been told away to begin again.

"It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything."

And to me what Fight Club says and stands for surpasses my generation and creeps into every generation. It's not just Generation X that obsesses with Paris Hilton or drives around in expensive cars trying to cover for the fact that they are not happy with their lot in life. It's all of us.

And when all that is said and done, Fight Club is just one helluva kick-ass movie.

So that's my generation movie. What's yours?

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Top 5 Tuesdays (T5T) Is Torture

Alas, the Superbowl was two days ago which signifies the official closure of football. So I'm depressed. The Pro Bowl doesn't count.

And I don't care for basketball which is the only thing on right now, so that doesn't help. And don't get me started on golf.

I'm a football and baseball guy, so until baseball gears up, there's this dead zone for me where I aimlessly flip through channels, watching nothing. And now ESPN and local sports radio serve no purpose for me. I am a man without a direction.

It's torture. Torture I say.

Which leads me to the subject of this new Top 5 Tuesday which is going to be about torture.

Give me your top 5 torture scenes in a movie.

Here are mine.

1. Marathon Man - Laurence Olivier digs away at Dustin Hoffman's mouth and asks over and over the infamous phrase "is it safe?" Kills me every time.

2. A Clockwork Orange - Man where do I begin? Take your pick. This movie seems to be filled with torture scenes, but I would have to say the scene where Malcolm McDowell and his droogs rape the woman in front of her husband. Unbelievable torture for the husband.

3. Reservoir Dogs - Michael Madsen (Mr. Blonde) takes pure joy in torturing a police officer he has captured, and when I mean pure joy I actually mean cutting off the cop's ear.

4. Swimming With Sharks - Frank Whaley spends hours torturing his boss Kevin Spacey. It gets really dicey when he gives Spacey several paper cuts. Ouch.

5. The Deer Hunter - Robert Deniro and John Voight and Christopher Walken engage in a sadistic game of Russian Roulette where they have the pleasure of gambling with their own lives. If that wasn't torture enough, they get repeatedly slapped around by some Viet Cong man who continually yells "Di-di Mao".

Monday, February 5, 2007

M. Night's Big Problem

Recently M. Night Shamalamadingdong was caught in the bathroom masturbating to pictures of himself.

His assistant was worried when she heard moans coming from his bathroom. When the door was opened, Shamalamadingdong's assistant found head shots of Shamalamadingdong, press sheets from The Sixth Sense, Signs and The Village and his Box Office reports spread all across the floor. And of course there was Shamalamadingdong in the most vulnerable position a grown man can find himself in.

His assistant wasn't surprised and neither was anyone else. Shamalamadingdong has engaged in self love for a long time now. And now it has become a chronic habit (it is said that at time of climax Shamalamadingdong will yell out things like "except for Pixar, I have made the four most successful original movies in a row of all time!")

Nina Jacobsen at Disney warned him about his nasty habit when he was making The Village, but he wouldn't listen. And she warned him again when he was writing Lady In The Floater. It got so bad that Shammy broke off ties with Disney and went over to Warner Brothers who apparently is perfectly fine with obsessive self on self action.

Of course, his habit got no help from Michael Bamberger who wrote The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shamalamadingdong Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale. That book's God-like treatment of Shammy has just made things worse. Since that book has been released, people can't get Shammy out of the bathroom.

It seems to be catching up with him, though. There's word that Shammy is trying to sell his script Green Planet and the studios ain't buying.

Look Shammy, The Sixth Sense was a nice surprise and I would argue that Unbreakable was even better. But you're not curing Cancer here and as Brando once said "never confuse the size of your talent with the size of your paycheck." Stop the self-love before it's too late.

My thoughts are with him and his family at this great time of need.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Best Poster Of '07?

I know, I know, here it is the first part of February and some jackass thinks he has seen the best poster of the year thus far. I hate it when a critic prematurely praises a film as one of the best of the year. How does he know that? Has he seen everything for the rest of the year? No, it's mostly just a gimmick so you read his review.

Okay, so I'm the jackass. But this poster is pretty damn good. For several reasons.

First the art work. Yes Pulp Fiction did the pulp-fictiony illustration style before, but it's been a long time and actually it seems more appropriate for this film because of the scandalous nature of the film.

Second the line. "Everything is hotter down South" right next to a picture of Jackson holding a long chain.

Third the title. Who isn't a little intrigued by the title Black Snake Moan? Come on.

Fourth is Ricci. Ricci is all tramped up and in the corner of the magazine, looking all wanting.

So I'm probably premature on my praise of this poster. So what. It's cool. And so is the trailer.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Kevin Smith's Loco 10

Kevin Smith has posted his top ten films of 2006 on his blog My Boring Ass Life and guess which movie he has included? That's right, Clerks II.

He defends himself saying he made it so of course he thinks it is one of the best movies of the year. So does that mean Jersey Girl would have been one of his top 10 in 2004?

I'm happy for Kevin Smith that he likes his work. Good for him. But to include it among The Departed? And The Last King Of Scotland? Come on, man.

It's his blog so he can write whatever the hell he wants, and this is my blog so I'm going write that he's blowing himself by including his movie among the top 10 of the year.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Lazy Eye Gets Some Ink

Allow me to play a little rat-a-tat-tat on the ole horn for a second.


Now let me tell you about a movie blog that has featured yours truly in a little Q&A.

The blog is called DVD Panache and it is written by Adam Ross. Adam is a true gentleman for asking me to do what I love to do and that is talk about movies. And in doing so, he has shown some love for his film brothas and sistas. And for that I am grateful.

Every Friday, DVD Panache features a different Q&A with different film bloggers titled Friday Screen Test. The first feature was with Andy Horbal who writes No More Marriages (Andy by the way is a lot more thoughtful in his responses)

And Adam has written an especially nice review of Lazy Eye Theatre to boot.

I could go further in my praise of Adam's selfless act, but it has already been written for me by Andy and I would just be hacking from him.

It makes me a little goosepimply to see someone display my wares and being from the Midwest I will give my usual "aw shucks" and "I'm not deserving" but I'll get over it. I'm young in this blogging stuff and I can use the help.

Thank you DVD Panache and Adam.

Needy Film #1 Fandango

There are films out there.

Films that for one reason or another never hit mainstream. They lay there on a rental shelf or on, un-rented and un-purchased. Not because they are not great films, but because no one knows about them. I call these Needy Films. They need a hug from you but first you need to know these Needy Films so I'm going to introduce them to you periodically.

Maybe you've seen them, maybe you haven't. If you've seen them, then tell me I'm right or wrong for loving these movies. And if you haven't seen them, give them a shot. You might be surprised.

So here's my first Needy Film. It's called Fandango. Heard of it?

Long before Kevin Reynolds and Kevin Costner had a major falling out due to the floater known as Waterworld, they made movie magic with a little film called Fandango.

It's a story about five Texas fellas known as The Groovers who have graduated from college and are set out to have one last fling before they are sent off to the Vietnam War. They are headed to the Mexican border to "dig up Dom" a phrase which doesn't make much sense until the end of the movie.

As a road trip movie, they encounter many adventures i.e. jumping out of planes, having a fireworks battle in the middle of a graveyard and my personal favorite, an attempt to hook their car up to a moving train because they have run out of gas. But it's not so much the adventures that got me, it's the study of male friendship. I think this is only really true of guys, but a lot of friendships whether they be childhood, College or whatnot are friendships of convenience. This movie is a study of when all the drinking is done and all the stories are told, are you really friends with these people? And as the car barrels down the road towards Mexico, The Groovers discover what kind of true friendship they have.

The movie stars Sam Robards and a young Judd Nelson, but it is Kevin Costner that shines in the Peter Pan role, a theme hinted throughout the movie. At first you can't help but love his carefree attitude, but as the movie goes on you accept the responsibility of growing up as the characters do. It's unavoidable. Costner's character knows that the road doesn't end in Mexico, it keeps going onto bigger things like adulthood.

And that takes us to the ending, a 15 minute montage of scenes beautifully set to music by Pat Metheny, a jazz musician from Missouri. The montage takes you through Sam Robards' character reuniting with the fiance he almost deserted and how a small town prepares for their last-minute wedding. There is a history between Costner's character and the girl Sam is marrying and you see that unfold and the hurt the two share in a matter of seconds as the montage ends.

No matter how many times I see this, I can't help but get all Niagara Falls when it's over. Like The Groovers, you've been on an adventure down a back road at 100 mph with Elton John on the radio, a case and a half of beer in the cooler and not a care in the world and just like Costner's character you wish the Fandango never had to end.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

A Plea To Sam

Mr. Raimi,

Not sure if you're a fan of Lazy Eye Theatre (I'm pretty new), but I'm a fan of you.

So just in case you're reading, I'd like to ask a favor. I mean, I figure you owe me since I put down $7 for the first Spiderman and well, let's just say I didn't get my return on investment. Now you've more than made it up to me with Spiderman 2, but let's just say that you still owe me. So that being said, I was wondering if you could release Crimewave on DVD. I know, I know, you don't think it's your best work, but hey let's quit being so selfish alright. It's not really about you now is it. It's about your fans. And I'm pretty sure there are quite a few of them that would like to add that DVD to their collection.

I know Evil Dead was the beginning of it all, but it seemed like with Crimewave you started to find your groove. And seriously, Bruce Campbell was pretty fantastic. Really when you think about it, there couldn't be the comic-book fun of Darkman or the Spiderman movies without Crimewave. And who knows what would have happened with the Coen brothers if they didn't have Crimewave to cut their writing teeth on. Maybe no Fargo? Who knows.

I know you're super busy on Spiderman 3, but seriously don't you have an assistant director who can watch the shop a couple of days while you make this happen. It would be great if you could call up Bruce and do a dual commentary, but hey beggars can't be choosers right? So what do you say? Quit being a selfish bastard and give us Crimewave on DVD already.

No need to call me, just post a response and a date of the release here. And don't have one of your assistants do it because I'll know.

Many thanks and forever a fan,