Monday, April 30, 2007

Paying Proper Respect

Moviezzz (or should I call him my muse) has inspired me to write another post. He pointed out that I didn't include one of the best if not the best chase scene in my Chase Mayhem post. That being the chase scene from Bullitt. That caused me to comment that I didn't really care for the chase and man, I could hear the collective jaws drop.

First let me say that what Moviezzz has done is to demonstrate all that is great about blogging and movie blogging specifically. First, I have written something that has caused him to write something in response. That gets me all goose-pimply because that's why I do what I do. But further, Moviezzz has extended the debate past my page and put it on to his and as a result that has inspired weepingsam at The Listening Ear to post his favorite chase scene. To me, this is what it's all about and if all of you out there feel so moved to continue this further and write about your favorite chase scene on your blog then by all means, please do.

It's obvious that the Bullitt chase scene is the foundation for a lot of great chase scenes. And probably the inspiration for every chase scene to ever be filmed in San Francisco, but to me there are so many better chase scenes out there. Chase scenes that are shot better, edited better, more interesting and more action packed. The most recent chase scene from Death Proof immediately comes to mind. So that raises the question where does the praise lie? With the inspiration or the better execution? And even that statement is debatable because by saying "better execution" I'm already alluding that I think something is better. But for the sake of argument, let's keep it.

I love comedy and know that we wouldn't have There's Something About Mary and Caddyshack and Young Frankenstein without first having Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy and W.C. Fields. And I will willingly sit down to watch any of those first three movies, but you would have to hold a pretty big gun to my head to get me to watch those latter three. Why? I just don't think they're funny. I understand what they've done in the scheme of things, but I just don't enjoy them.

On the flip side, I get all uppity when people quickly dismiss John Carpenter for I think that he is one of the masters of modern horror. He, along with Wes Craven, George Romero, Dario Argento and David Cronenberg are responsible for much of what we see today. We wouldn't have a lot of it, if it weren't for those people. And I'm sure a lot would argue that the Dawn Of The Dead remake is superior because it's faster and scarier and bloodier while at the same time there would many, including myself, crying fowl saying you wouldn't have one without the other. And while I very much liked Zodiac, I couldn't help but compare it to All The President's Men and in doing that, I realized that All The President's Men is a much superior film.

The argument changes for every generation. I'm sure that there are a lot of people who would much rather see Cary Grant on the screen then say Brad Pitt. There's evidence of this when you hear someone describe an actor as a "modern day Cary Grant" or a "modern day Audrey Hepburn." For the longest time, I thought Roger Moore was the superior Bond because that's what I grew up with. And then I went back and watched Dr. No and Goldfinger and Thunderball and I realized that Connery was the best Bond. But then I saw Casino Royale and made the claim that that was the best Bond movie ever. And people responded with "better than Goldfinger?" and I said yes. And then the eye rolls and audible sighs were quick to follow.

When I had first learned of Kill Bill, I had read that it was influenced by several Martial Arts movies. So I wanted to watch them and see what Tarantino used as his inspiration. So I watched The Drunken Master and Iron Monkey and The Five Deadly Venoms and while I liked some bits of those movies, I didn't enjoy them half as much as I enjoyed Kill Bill. And yet, Enter The Dragon beats all of them hands down.

And Blow Up is a good movie, but I would much rather watch Blow Out over and over and over again.

The argument of inspiration or better execution really tests the timelessness of a film. All The President's Men is a good example of this. And I would put Renoir's Rules Of The Game up against Gosford Park any day of the week and there's 60 years between those movies. Nathanial over at Film Experience Blog recently talked about Blade Runner and I would still argue that that movie is the best science fiction movie around. Lucas and Cameron be damned, Blade Runner is better. And I'm sure there are a lot of people who might call me an old hack for saying that.

As always, films are creative and subject to different interpretations and judgments. And I think I've confused myself by taking both sides of my argument. The thing is, I don't think I'm wrong for not liking the Bullitt chase scene as much as I should or liking another chase scene better. But I would be wrong for not paying it the proper respect because it deserves it for all that it has done, whether I like it or not.

Tom Cruise = The New Michael Jackson

This coming July Tom Cruise will turn 46 and that made me realize something. There will be a whole new generation that knows Tom Cruise more as being a Scientologist whack then for being Joel, the guy who sang "Old Time Rock and Roll" in his underwear and bedded an oh so hot Rebecca De Mornay. Or Maverick the pilot guy who bedded the oh so hot Kelly McGillis. Or Cole the racer guy who bedded the oh so hot Nicole Kidman. Come to think of it, nowadays you've got a better chance of seeing Tom Cruise on the cover of a US Weekly or Star talking about his off screen drama then any kind of drama he's creating on screen.

And while this may be sad and depressing to some, I am elated by it. Why? Because we need a good freak around here. It's taken some time but Michael Jackson has finally learned to lay really low and stay clear of any cameras. That leaves a big vacancy in the freak department that desperately needs to be filled because in this crazy circus we live in, we all need a three eyed bearded elephant woman to stare and gawk at and make us feel better about ourselves.

And here's the good part. Tom Cruise is already primed and ready. He's already doing the job and he hasn't even been asked. So I say welcome Tom, you freak of freaks. Keep it up because you've got big glittery shoes to fill.

Somebody call Martin Bashir.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Chase Mayhem

Somebody's always running away from something or running toward something.

That's the chase.

Love it or hate it, movies got 'em. And have had them for a long, long time. And as is always the case in movies, the more different the chase, or the bigger the chase the better. So cinema history has shown us a good many different ways to engage in a chase. On foot, in car, in boat, in the air, on lightcycle, in spaceship, and probably anything else you can imagine. The weirder the better it seems. Although I will say that the recent chase scene in the opening of Casino Royale gives me faith that classic chase scenes are still alive and doing quite well thanks to a good script and proper direction.

All good action movies have some kind of a chase in them. A good guy chasing a bad guy, a bad guy chasing an innocent guy, a bad guy chasing a badder guy. All good romance movies involve a chase between a man and a woman, or a woman and a man, and if we're really lucky a woman and a woman. And all good horror movies involve a chase of some kind. Usually someone running away from something scary into something scarier.

There are lots of chases and I've highlighted a few and judged them as all good chases should be judged: What kind of chase is it, the setting of the chase, the length of the chase, and the enormity of the chase and the big finish.

The Blues Brothers

What kind of chase: A car chase involving several cop cars. Not incredibly original. But the fact that the Blues Brothers are driving a cop car making it cop on cop action takes it up a notch. Rank: 7

Setting of the chase: The streets of Chicago and then inside a mall. The mall is good. Rank: 9

The length of the chase: About 5 minutes. The chase is so fun, the time flies. Rank: 7

The enormity of the chase: Did I mention it was in a mall? Retail gets scattered everywhere and hundreds run for cover as The Blues Brothers wreak havoc. Rank: 8

Best chase quote: "They're not going to catch us, we're on a mission from God." Rank: 9

The big finish: The Blues Brothers get away and leave the mall through a display window of JC Penny. Did I mention they were in a mall? Rank: 8

Overall rank: 8


What kind of chase: Actually a race involving lightcycles in a parallel universe that exists inside our computers. Jeff Daniels is being chased down by the MCP and is making him play games in hopes that he will die. Rank: 8

Setting of the chase: Inside a computer somewhere. A giant green grid surrounded by large walls and heavily guarded by big machines. The computer generated animation over live action was breakthrough for the time and still is amazing to watch. Rank: 9

Length of the chase: The race runs only about a minute long and they escape the grid and get chased by tanks. It all only lasts a couple minutes, which is the perfect amount of time. Any longer would seem self-indulgent. Rank: 8

Enormity of the chase: Three programs die in the process and Jeff Daniels sends a shock wave rattling the MCPs circuits. Rank: 6

Best chase quote: "Wow". Wow indeed. Rank: 7

The big finish: They win the race and get away. No big fireworks. Rank: 6

Overall rank: 7.3


What kind of chase: Parachutes and hang gliding. After fleeing a plane, Bond (sans parachute) is chasing after the pilot in pursuit of his parachute, while being chased by Jaws who of course wants to bite his neck. While a mess of a bond movie, this opening chase scene is fantastic. Rank: 10

Setting of the chase: The air, baby. Nothing above and the hard ground below. Rank: 8

Length of the chase: The actual chase is only a couple of minutes. As cool and original as this chase is, it isn't long enough and the coverage is lousy due to the bad double for Roger Moore. Rank: 6

Enormity of the chase: Not big at all. This chase really affects no one besides I guess the birds. Rank: 4

Best chase quote: "Any higher Mr. Bond, my ears will pop." Classic cheesy Bond. Not really a fan of the cute talk: Rank: 6

Big finish: Jaws tries to bite Bond's leg, Bond pulls the parachute cord leaving Jaws tumbling towards the earth. Jaws' cord fails and he goes plummeting into a circus tent. Whah, whah, whah. Rank: 3

Overall rank: 6.1

Silence Of The Lambs

What kind of chase: On foot between Starling and Buffalo Bill. No running, just a cat and mouse where you expect Bill around every corner. This is a creepy creepy scene. Rank: 8

Setting of the chase: The labyrinth of rooms in Bill's basement where it seems that every door that Starling opens exposes a new horror. Rank: 10

Length of the chase: About six minutes which seems like six hours because it's so damn creepy. You want it that long and don't want it that long all at the same time. Rank: 9

Enormity of the chase: This affects every big boned woman in America who is afraid that their skin is one day going to be used to make a nice suit for Bill. This is America's most wanted man so the impact of getting him dead or behind bars is big. Rank: 8

Best chase quote: "Catherine Martin? F.B.I. you're safe." Don't you believe it. Rank: 7

Big finish: As if the tension wasn't enough, Bill shuts out the lights and puts on night vision goggles and suddenly we go from Foster's P.O.V. to that of Bills as he gets ready to attack her. It is a truly terrifying scene to see the terror on Clarice's face as she tries to figure out where Bill is in the room. Finally, a glimmer of the glasses shows up and Clarice squeezes off round after round until Bill is on the ground. And you still don't feel safe. Rank: 10

Overall rank: 8.6

Raising Arizona

Kind of chase: On foot and in the car and on foot again and in the car again. It's not terribly original, but the alternating is fun. Rank: 7

Setting of the chase: A surreal life where everybody's packing and isn't afraid to shoot. The chase begins in a quick shop, goes through a grocery store and through a house. It's fun, funny and one hell of a ride. Rank: 8

Length of the chase: The actual chase is a little over five minutes. It covers a lot of settings and a lot of ground. Rank: 7

Enormity of the chase: Hi's bad habits die hard and it stirs quite a pot involving a teenage store employee, the grocery store owner, a bunch of dogs, the local authorities and of course a very pissed off Ed. Rank: 8

Best chase quote: "Son you got a pantie on your head." Rank: 9

Big finish: Hi escapes in the car with Ed and gets away unscathed. It's not a huge finish, but you find yourself trying to catch your breath at the end. Rank: 7

Overall rank: 7.6

The Dead Pool

Kind of chase: It's car versus remote controlled car. Interesting. Rank: 9

Setting of the chase: The streets of San Francisco. Not original but I've never seen cars catch air like this before. Or at least a remote control car catch air like that before Rank: 8

Length of the chase: Around 4 1/2 minutes. Maybe a few too many jumps, but overall a good time. Rank: 7

Enormity of the chase: Callahan disrupts a lot of Bay area people with his crazy driving. And he's supposed to keep the peace. On the flip side, everyone seems to love the remote control car, especially when it jumps some boxes on the sidewalk. Rank: 6

Best chase quote: "Times up Callahan." Rank: 6

The big finish: The remote control car slowly pulls under Callahan's car. Callahan waits and waits and just as it parks under his car, Callahan takes off to avoid the bomb. He succeeds only in saving his skin. His partner dies in the explosion and the bad guy gets away. Rank: 7

Overall rank: 7.1

Road Warrior

What kind of chase: Cars and trucks and motorcycles chasing a tanker. In real life, this would be boring, but this is the future and Mad Max is at the wheel. Rank: 8

Setting of the chase: A post apocalyptic world set in Australia where there's nothing for miles. Rank: 6

Length of the chase: I've only included part of the chase, but it's a long one. Around 15 minutes. It's a great action sequence that deserves all this time it gets. Rank: 8

Enormity of the chase: They're not disturbing anyone but you feel the fate of the future is in the balance with this chase. If the gas gets in the hands of The Humongous, bad things will happen. So this is big. Rank: 8

Best chase quote: No quotes of note, and that's just fine since there are only about 20 lines in the whole movie. Rank: 6

Big finish: About everyone dies, except that Land Of The Lost kid with the boomerang and Mad Max. The tanker is overturned and Mad Max discovers that he was hauling sand this whole time. It's the big double cross and Max was mad already. Now he's really mad. Rank: 10

Overall rank: 7.6

Basic Instinct

What kind of chase: Car chase. Nothing truly original. Rank: 6

Setting of the chase: The mountains of California. The cat and mouse pursuit of Douglas and Stone makes you feel that if Hitchcock were still directing, he would shoot a scene like this. Rank: 10

Length of the chase: About a minute and a half. Short, sweet and intense. Rank: 8

Enormity of the chase: They're not shaking the pillars of heaven, but they are creating a bit of havoc around some afternoon traffic in a pretty treacherous area. Rank: 6

Best chase quote: None. Not really needed. Rank: 5

Big finish: Douglas stays in line with Stone for a while and then almost goes nose to nose with a bus. He decides then to back off a bit and let traffic slow down. Stone gets away. Rank: 6

Overall rank: 6

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Time Lost

Jim over at The Moviezzz Blog has written about a recent Time magazine article about the world of film blogging. The Time article got Jim thinking and Jim's article got me thinking (isn't this a crazy world?). Time's article talks about fanboys (Jesus I hate that label, and it isn't even referring to me) and their blogs about movies. Time talks about The Movie Blog and and Dark Horizons. And you know what? They missed it. They missed an opportunity to talk not about the flavor of the month (that being fanboy or Harry Knowles) but of film lovers. Not pimply faced kids or grown men for that matter who write about if the upcoming Hulk is going to be green or grey or whether that really is a picture of Heath Ledger as The Joker. True film lovers who celebrate the anniversary of Annie Hall as Edward Copeland recently did. Man, they missed a great site in Edward Copeland on Film. Edward has purchased the second season of Twin Peaks and he is watching an episode every Tuesday night and reporting about it as if a regular show again. That's not geeky, it's a great idea that celebrates great TV all over again. And as an incredible fan of Twin Peaks, I can't wait to be right there with him. How about The Rec? How about it? How about Ray who minces no words when he doesn't like something (the first thing that attracted me to his blog). He's having a Summer Movie Tournament this entire summer. Actual brackets and you pick which Summer Blockbuster you think is going to make the most money. Or Nathanial at the Film Experience Blog who every morning randomly stops a movie exactly at 20:07 and writes about the scene and dialogue. It's strangely telling and Time missed it.

Time also missed Burbanked, a great blog out of Pittsburgh who recently dissected why a one sheet poster for the upcoming movie No Reservations sucks so bad. Or Damian at Windmills Of My Mind who shares my disdain for Michael Bay and Eli Roth and who wrote such a thoughtful article about the Virginia Tech shootings and how it relates to entertainment, it should be required reading for everyone. And then there's Joseph at itsamadmadblog2 who covers the more mainstream and then opens my eyes wide about great unknowns like Lovers Of The Arctic Circle. Or Neil at The Bleeding Tree who loves zombies and all things trashy. Neil recently hosted the Trashy Movie Blog-A-Thon where bloggers took extreme delight in what others might call celluloid waste. I myself was more than happy to revisit an old favorite in The Beastmaster. And speaking of Blog-A-Thons, J.D. Judge (who's 14. Really? 14?) at Joe's Movie Corner is taking a new approach to recruiting for his upcoming Ghiblog-A-Thon. If you don't participate, he will come after you. And Time missed them.

They missed Adam at DVD Panache who features a different movie blogger on Friday Screen Tests. An idea that's so incredible I am re-amazed by it every Friday when I read his blog. Or Lucas at 100 Films who has a new project Uber-Indie Project which features relatively unknown movies like Mutual Appreciation and gives them a bigger voice in which to be heard. Or Asterisk at Movie Reviews (such as they are) who scares me with his photo but engages me with his eclectic collection of movie reviews. One day it's Hard Candy, the next it's The Family Stone. Or Pacheco at the always under construction BOHEMIANcinema who lives a few lives on his blog. One of journaling, one of criticism and one of writing the ongoing tale of Bohemian Williams. And of course there's The Moviezzz Blog, who without him there would be no reason for this entry. Jim keeps me on my toes by the interesting subjects that catch his eye whether it be for a recent story on Richard Gere or a forgotten video by The Cars. But what I love best is recent features, a whatever happened to, on female stars from great teen movies like Better Off Dead and Can't Buy Me Love.

Good lord, I'm exhausted. Has anyone ever linked that much in their life? Have I set a new record? It's for a good cause. These are the true movie lovers and there are plenty more too. Going to The Movie Blog to discover about movie blogging is like going to San Fransisco and hanging out at Fisherman's Wharf all day. It's touristy. And Time magazine took the grand tour while missing all the great stops along the way. But I haven't. And thank God for that.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Shootin and Smoochin

I'm for Genaro's, but then, what do I know? I'm a bear. I suck the heads off of fish.

If you know this line, then you know of the wackiness that is Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, my new favorite movie.

Man I love this movie. I can pick it up and watch it any time. Still don't really understand it though. Who is the real bad guy, what's his motivation, who is his real daughter and who was that chick in the wig? But who cares.

Val Kilmer (Gay Perry) is excellent as the gay cop with the dry wit. I much prefer the puffier Val. He doesn't take himself so seriously. He should pursue the comedic route more often. It has turned out better for him. Where would we be without Real Genius and Top Secret?

Robert Downey Jr. (Harry Lockhart) is of course excellent. He never ceases to amaze me with his talent. I especially liked him in this because he plays an idiot of sorts. His characters are usually just that "characters" and it was nice to see him play more of an average Joe as opposed to the smartass know-it-all.

And Michelle Monaghan (Harmony Faith Lane) I could watch on a three minute video that's looped to play all day long. She plays the crush of Harry's that has no idea what she's doing yet seems to have it all together.

There are two scenes that do it for me.

The first is when Harry is in the bathroom taking a piss. He is talking with Harmony and not really paying attention. Meanwhile there is a dead woman in the shower next to him. Harry catches a glimpse of this and of course then turns his body towards the corpse and begins to piss all over it. He wants to stop himself but can't. It's a weird, funny, crazy scene all at once. And it's at this point in the movie when I knew I was on to something.

Harry: I peed on the corpse. Can they do, like, an ID from that?

Perry: I'm sorry, you peed on...?

Harry: On the corpse. My question is...

Perry: No, my question. I get to go first. Why in pluperfect hell would you pee on a corpse?

The second scene that got me is an easy one. It's an easy gag, but it's played beautifully.

It's toward the end of the movie and Harry tries to play bad cop at this point. He's questioning a thug as to the whereabouts of Harmony. He puts a bullet in the chamber of his gun, spins it a la Russian Roulette. Of course he assumes that the gun will click an empty chamber making the thug piss himself and tell Harry everything. And of course, the gun goes off and he shoots the guy in the head killing him instantly. Like I said, it's an easy gag, but it happens so fast you really don't see it coming. It's so anti-action movie because there's no tension, no drama, no close-ups. It just plays out in real-time. And it once again re-enforces Harry's character as this everyday idiot who tries to be suave and detective-like, but can't seem to get anything right.

Perry: What did you just do?

Harry: I just put in one bullet, didn't I?

Perry: You put a live round in that gun?

Harry: Well yeah, there was like an 8% chance.

Perry: Eight? Who taught you math?

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is the equivalent of an average evening that you planned with your friend that went crazy wrong and turned out to be one of the best nights of your life. Everything about it feels fast and crazy and in the moment. It says a lot about the movie that I still don't get it and love it as much as I do. Or maybe that says a lot about me. Either way, it's worth viewing and reviewing several times.

Movie Brackets. What The F?

Ray over at The Rec has come up with a great idea. A Summer Movie Tournament. I'm not a fan of basketball, but this is a tournament I can get in to. So here is my entry. My predictions. Early word on Spiderman 3 is not good (not that that usually has anything to do with a movie making money) but my money is on Pirates 3. If you want to get in on it, the deadline is May 3rd.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Lest We Forget Running Scared

Somehow, somewhere the 1986 movie Running Scared fell through the cracks of the bright and shiny Hollywood streets, and my question is why? Is it not a great comedy? It is. Is it not a great buddy movie? It is. Is it not a good action movie? It is all of these. And what's more, it takes the traditional buddy cop movie and pins it so hard on its ear you would think you were second row at the WWF.

Can you think of a more unlikely pair than Billy Crystal (Danny Costanzo) and Gregory Hines (Ray Hughes)? And to play hard-nosed cops? But it works. The two play off each other like a regular Crosby and Kay, all smiles and wise-cracks. And Crystal is allowed to seamlessly work in his shtick without Hines seeming awkward or like he doesn't belong. The two are the anti-Lethal Weapon. The cops who don't seem like cops. And what's more, they don't really want to be cops anymore. Running Scared focuses on the cop mid-life crisis if you will. What happens when cops stop shooting and start thinking.

Ray Hughes: Pointing a gun at a police office. Can we waste them for that?

Danny Costanzo: I think so.

When the two have a near death experience at the hands of a drug dealer, the captain sends them on their way to Key West to take a break. It's here that they get away from the cold streets of Chicago into the sun and fun of Florida. And it's here that Michael McDonald works his sweet music magic, capturing all the carefreeness that is Florida in the song "Sweet Freedom." Well, that's all it takes. Crystal and Hines are ready to turn in their badges for good and open a bar in Key West. But the drug dealer Julio (Jimmy Smitts) who almost killed them before is out and about and ready to pull down a big drug deal (with Crystal's ex-wife as captor) and just like that, the two are back in the thick of things, busting through doors, firing big guns and forgetting to ask questions later.

Lab technician: This is real shit. This coke is pure shit.

Ray Hughes: It's good shit, right?

Lab technician: I mean bad shit.

Ray Hughes: Bad shit like "this shit is bad?"

Lab technician: It's shit shit. This shit isn't worth shit. There's barely enough coke in here to attract the dogs. Anybody caught on the street with this would get killed.

Of course they win in the end. Of course they do. And Crystal gets back together with his ex-wife and Crystal and Hines skip Key West and stay cops (if this is a spoiler to any of you, God have mercy on your soul). But this movie isn't about the formula. It's what they do with the formula that counts. First, it's the pairing of Crystal and Hines. It's risky and unexpected and it's brilliant. Second, it's the premise of cops not really wanting to be cops anymore that gives an otherwise traditional buddy movie, some depth and a soul. Third, it's Peter Hyams, an otherwise serious director (The Star Chamber, Outland, 2010 The Presidio) tackling comedy and doing it so well. And then of course there's Snake (Joe Pantoliano). Before there was Leo Getz from Lethal Weapon, the crook turned side-kick, there was Snake. An unexpected and refreshing inclusion to the formula not that there was any risk of tiring of Crystal or Hines.

Ray Hughes: Listen, Snake, here's the situation: I have this gun here. Now I am going to take the gun out and I am going to shoot a lot of holes in the door. If you are standing if front of the door, what can I tell ya? Some of the holes are gonna be in you. Ya catching my drift, Snake?

While I praise Running Scared for knocking the buddy cop formula so well, I also have to recognize how well it follows it. The comedy is there and surprisingly it still holds up well (although the Menudo joke falls hard). And the action is excellent. The car chase that takes place on the L in Chicago is arguably one of the best chase scenes of any movie. And the final showdown between the pair and Julio is as satisfying an ending as you could ask. Not too much and not too little.

A great buddy cop movie with an unlikely cast directed by an unlikely director. And yet, lightning never struck twice. Crystal and Hines never paired again. Hyams went back to serious fare and Joe Pantoliano never dyed his hair red again. And Running Scared slipped through the cracks, hardly to be remembered and rarely to be referenced, with the exception of this guy right here.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I Heart Alicia Keys

Man, I love this woman.

Don't ask me about her music because I don't listen to it.

Don't ask me what she's like because I don't know.

I just like looking at all the pretty pictures.

And I will say she is what attracted me to Smokin' Aces the other day. Because as I have said, I love this woman. To see her as a hit-man in lingerie was too much to pass up. And I wished I loved Smokin' Aces as much as I loved Alicia Keys. The movie just didn't seem fun and I thought it would be a fun movie. And too much talk about death and dying and going to hell and all that. I don't like movies that have a lot of killing and then try to be sensitive about it.

And maybe I'm getting too old, but this movie seemed very violent to me. Can I get a ruling on this? Why am I perfectly fine with the violence of OldBoy (a movie that will slowly be banned by everyone because of some idiot) and not okay with it in Smokin' Aces. Maybe it's because there was motivation in OldBoy and no motivation in Smokin' Aces. In OldBoy, Dae-Su was trying to right a wrong and discover why he was imprisoned for 15 years. And while he had a seedy past and obviously a lot of enemies, you cared about his character and what he thought and how he felt. And Piven's character was such an asshole, I didn't care who popped him, just as long as it was long and painful.

Unfortunately, the few minutes that Alicia Keys wielded her gun in her dirty lingerie was not enough to make me love this movie. Because Smokin' Aces didn't have what is needed for any movie to be great. And what is that kids? It's great writing. It's the basic essence of what makes a movie great. And yet, it is the least valued. Save the casting money and spend it on a great writer. But keep Alicia Keys because man, I love that woman.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Long Live Dirk!

Long before Dirk Diggler was swinging his sword around, another Dirk swung his in a game called Dragons Lair. In 1983, Disney threw its hat in the video game ring with the game called Dragons Lair. And then later, there was another called Space Ace. They weren't true video games, more like really cool choose your own adventures. If you're not familiar with them, the games consisted of a series of animated scenes and you had to navigate Dirk through them by moving your joystick one way or another. If you chose the right way, Dirk moved on in the story to save the princess. If you chose the wrong way, Dirk died a terrible death. And man, I dropped like a couple hunny in quarters easy playing those games.

Despite blowing away the competition (Pac Man, Asteroids and Donkey Kong) the games didn't last long. It was my understanding that the technology was too advanced. The machines were always breaking down and I think it cost too much to maintain them.

Well, Dirk is back on PS3. It has been announced that they will be relaunching the game Dragons Lair. They are going back to the old story, sweetening the animation by Don Bluth and re-releasing the game.

It will be interesting to see how people react to it since gaming has evolved so much since then. But for me, it's almost worth dropping the money on PS3 just to play it again.

correction: AMS and Cinematronics created Dragon's Lair. Not Disney. My bad.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Flogging Bovies and Much

Linking, linking, linking

J.D. Judge over at Joe's Movie Corner tells us how much your blog is worth.

Glenn Dunks at Stale Popcorn writes an open letter to all who did not attend Grindhouse.

StinkyLulu shows us how to create the soundtrack to our lives.

And finally The Rec has a great game coming up in The Summer Box Office Tournament. Sign up and win a prize.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What Say You? Should Print Be Dead

I love my print. In my basement lie boxes of Premiere, Entertainment Weekly and Hotdog Magazines. I'm a collector. A pack rat if you will.

I can read a magazine on the can, or in an airplane. I can read one in a box. With a fox. I can go back after five years and see if a well-reviewed movie still holds up. I can look back at past trends. How directors have changed. Look at how hot Meg Ryan used to be before her plastic surgery. All that stuff.

But I love my movie blogs, too. They are immediate and much more interesting in what they say. I don't have to wait for a special edition to come out to cover my favorite subjects. They are probably being written on-line right now and all I have to do is find them. And I can comment on what I read. Debate it. Or praise it.

The truth is, print is dying a slow death. The announcement of Premiere is just the beginning, I fear. So should it die? Should it evolve? Will we all be lost if our magazines go away, or be better for it? Or is all this just crazy talk.

What Say You?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Weinsteins Effed It Up

This is my last post about Grindhouse. Promise.

The second weekend didn't bode well for Grindhouse. I was ready to chalk up the first weekend's poor B.O. to Easter weekend, but it looks like nobody wants to see the movie. Why? Because I don't think they know what to expect or how to react. And don't give me that the movie is three hours long. Titanic was 3 hours and 17 minutes long and everybody lined up for that piece of shit.

Where I think they messed up was in the marketing. Grindhouse is not your normal movie outing, so why market it that way? So here's what I was thinking. Actually it came to me shortly after I saw it in Austin.

What helped the movie for me was having Tarantino and Rodriguez set it up. Not that I wouldn't have enjoyed it otherwise, but they help set the mood.

So here's what they should have done.

Go on a 3 to 6 month tour with the film, like a concert. Rodriguez and Tarantino show it maybe once or twice a night and only at cool venues (No Multi-Plex). And they set up each and every screening. The lines would be amazing and the buzz would be incredible. Then after that time, they give it a general release.

The purpose of making Grindhouse was to make going to movies an event again. What better way then to market it like an event. It's a missed opportunity and the Weinsteins are to blame.

Top 5 Tuesdays (T5T) Gets Animated

If you haven't seen The Venture Brothers on Adult Swim then there is still a chance to save your soul. The second season comes out today on DVD. It's an amazingly funny show and if you are fan of the old Johnny Quest series or The Tick animated series, you have to see it or pick up the DVD.

So anyway, in honor The Venture Brothers Season 2, give me your top five favorite animated series.

1. The Venture Brothers - Natch

2. Aeon Flux - The original Liquid Television stuff is sexy, bizarre and something out of a strange dream.

3. The Simpsons - Tastes like burning.

4. The Family Guy - In one episode Stewie breaks all the blood vessels in his left eye when he tries to squeeze out a fart. If that's not cartoon comedy, I don't know what is.

5. Scooby Doo - The reason I got up at the ass crack of dawn every Saturday was to see Shaggy and that crazy dog.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Why David Lynch will never work for Jerry Bruckheimer

Not that we ever had to worry about that.

My Comedy Penis

You don't know this about me, but I have a comedy penis.

I'm not going to get in to where it's located or how big it is, just know that I have one. When I see something funny, it gets hard. And when I see something not funny, it gets limp.

For example, my comedy penis is fully erect through most of Blazing Saddles, Super Troopers and Anchor Man. And it is limp when I see movies like The Benchwarmers.

My comedy penis was confused today when I saw Blades Of Glory.

My comedy penis likes Will Ferrell very much. And when Will came on the screen, the blood started rushing and things started happening. But then like news of a double homicide, here came John Heder and my comedy boner went limp. My comedy penis tried to not think of John Heder and instead let Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler and Will Arnett get him all excited. But just when things were looking good again, John Heder would come in and whine and deliver some line annoyingly. After awhile I think my comedy penis went to sleep.

My comedy penis also talks to me. It says that John Heder should not do comedy anymore. Or I should skip any more John Heder movies if I ever want my comedy penis to work again.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Electric Boogaloo. It's the 80's.

A lot of my childhood took place in the 80s and I never thought I would look back at it with so much glee. But how could I not? Some of my favorite movies came from that time. The 80s were such strange times for politics, for fashion, for movies, for writing, for cartoons, for toys, for everything. It just seems like the 80s abandoned everything. There was no looking back or looking forward. Everything was in the moment. And can you think of another decade besides the 60s that is so identifiable? You can see a trend, a movie technique, a word and know immediately that it came from the 80s. It was a pretty amazing decade to grow up in.

So you can imagine my elation when I stumbled upon not one but two blogs dedicated strictly to the 80s. The 80s Blog and 80s Films.There was talk of everything. Tango & Cash. Smurfs. Commodore computers. Devo. Fricking Fraggle Rock. Pitfall from Activision. The Road Warrior. Bad cartoon Christmas specials. It was glorious.

So check them out and jog a memory or two. I did and it was fucking great.

Friday, April 13, 2007

In defense of Quentin

Well it happened. A little earlier than I imagined but still, it happened. The ugly mob is forming against Quentin Tarantino again because a guy has come out saying that he originally had the Grindhouse idea back in 2003. Here is the story, albeit a one-sided story.

To me it seems a little surprising (and yet not surprising at all) that this story has come out the week after Grindhouse was released. It's not like the double feature concept of Grindhouse snuck up on any of us. We've known it was going to be back to back movies for at least six months now. At least. But nonetheless, I'm not buying it. Why? Because I like Quentin Tarantino. Why? Because he makes interesting movies.

Why are we wasting one ounce of strength beating up on an interesting filmmaker when the Brett Ratners, Simon Wests, Nancy Meyers and Michael Bays of the world are out there making boring ass film after boring ass film and getting paid wildly for it. Doesn't make sense.

There aren't many filmmakers these days whose movies I look forward to. Scorsese, DePalma, Cronenberg, Anderson, Mann, Payne, and Tarantino are a few. For me, it's impossible to say that any one of Tarantinos movies have been a failure because he does what so few directors do. He doesn't treat me like an idiot. His stories are fun and interesting and his dialogue is smart and snappy. Every movie he makes is a reminder of how fun it can be to see movies. What an enjoyable time it can be to tell a story, to listen to good writing, to see interesting characters. And I just can't find the will or the strength to say anything bad about that. Hollywood is too screwed up for us to focus all our ill will against one of the good guys.

And yet if this story is true. If Tarantino did rip this idea off from a couple guys he saw at a party, then what we're witnessing is a director whose career is over at the age of 44. And if that's the case, then time will be a lot harsher to him than any of us could ever be.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

If loving Blog A Thons is wrong, I don't wanna be a right

First, let me say thanks to all who participated and who submitted their reviews to the John Carpenter Effect: A Blog-A-Thon (and to all who helped spread the word). And a really special thanks to Lucas at 100 films. It was through him that I was introduced to Blog-A-Thons and he gave me honest feedback when I was trying to land on my subject.

As Adam at DVD Panache pointed out, Carpenter had one hell of a decade. Man, looking at his films as an overview, the 80's were really amazing for him. But in looking back with excitement, you can't help but look at his career now and and not be depressed. Carpenter is a bit too willing to sit back and collect checks (and even help out) as his movies get remade over and over again. And unlike Romero and Craven and Cronenberg, it seems that he really has no desire to keep his hat in the ring. But nonetheless, I found a lot of John Carpenter lovers out there, and that's like one big warm blanket to me. And I hope that posting here was able to bring a little traffic to your blogs as well and introduce you to new bloggers sharing the same ideas as yours.

Now let me break for a moment with some thoughts regarding Blog-A-Thons in general. I love them. Why? Because they make me a better blogger. With Blog-A-Thons:

1) I'm more thoughtful in my writing. I find myself spend more time to get my posts right. I think that's good for the few readers I have or think I have.

2) I get to experience new and different opinions and new and different blogs. And once I read those opinions and blogs, I can share my ideas with them. Isn't this in essence what blogs are all about? I am not one who is happy with high traffic and no comments. If I receive no comments, then in my opinion I did not pick the right subject matter, or the right point to make. To me the point of a blog is to engage and cause interaction. If I'm not doing that, then I think Wal-Mart is having a sale on journals and I might as well be picking up one of those.

3) And finally for purely selfish reasons, Blog-A-Thons draw new traffic to your blog.

So I say keep the Blog-A-Thons coming. Please. I will participate when I can and as often as I can. And I already have another Blog-A-Thon subject in the hamper which I want to host at summer's end.

So here's a complete list of Blog-A-Thons that are coming up (I also list them in my sidebar). And if you've got one and want to promote it, then e-mail me at because I willingly want to be the Blog-A-Thon Daddy to all of you. I got this list from Edward Copeland. So maybe that makes him the Daddy and me the Mommy. Or at least the dirty little tramp he has on the side.

June 21-25

The Filmmusic Blog-a-Thon at Windmills of my Mind

July 7

"The performance that changed your life" Blog-a-Thon at All About My Movies

July 13

Friday The 13th Blog-a-Thon at Final Girl

August 5

The John Huston Blog-a-Thon at TheSophmoreCritic

August 27-29
The Bizarro Blog-a-Thon right frickin here.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Let The John Carpenter Blog-A-Thon Commence

"I've come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum."

Today begins The John Carpenter Effect: A Blog-A-Thon and it will continue through Wednesday. I have unleashed this Blog-A-Thon right after the opening of Grindhouse which I have argued is one endless tribute to John Carpenter. Even today as he sits back to play video games and smokes cigarettes, John Carpenter continues to influence modern entertainment with his directing, his composing, his writing, his producing, his characters, whatever.

You can post your links in the comments so I can link up to them or you can e-mail them directly to me at Title them John Carpenter or Blog A Thon. Thanks.

Now let me have it!

Karen is the first brave soul over at Voyages of the HMS Swiftsure. She gives us her take on Prince Of Darkness.

Adam Ross over at DVD Panache highlights the Decade John Carpenter was king in John Carpenter's Decade.

I offer up some suggestions to current and future horror makers in my post Today's Horror Prescription: More Carpenter.

Jim at The Moviezzz Blog gives his take on Carpenter's career with John Carpenter.

Becca at No Smoking In The Skull Cave features every homage you can think of but were afraid to ask with The Influence is Obvious: References to John Carpenter's Movies.

Robert at Nadalander gives us a look at part of Carpenter's stint in TV with Someone's Watching Me: The Elusive Masterpiece.

Rumsey over at Not Coming To A Theater Near You gives us two reviews of some Carpenter faves Big Trouble In Little China and They Live.

Toby at An Interesting Take On Film gives us his thoughts on The Thing with Paranoia and Loss of Identity: John Carpenter's The Thing.

Ogg at Oggs' Movie Thoughts makes us appreciate Prince Of Darkness all over again.

His name is Guy. He has a blog called The Short Fat Kid. And he has some thoughts on Snake et all in Everybody loves the (anti) hero.

Neil at The Bleeding Tree talks about Carpenter's influence on the one and only with The John Carpenter Effect: John and I.

Jane at Average Jane gives us her opinion on Carpenter's career with Average Jane Goes To The Movies.

Ogg is back. And he has some more thoughts on Carpenter. More specifically the oft overlooked Assault On Precinct 13.

Karl writes about The Carpenter Effect over at KGB Productions, Inc.

Keep 'em coming.

Today's Horror Prescription: More Carpenter

I have spoken in the past of John Carpenter’s influence on helping shape modern horror. After all, it's the main premise of this Blog A Thon. There would be no Freddy Kruger, no Jason Voorhees, no My Bloody Valentine, no Terror Train, no April Fools Day without Halloween. The special effects of The Thing helped usher in a new level of creature effects in horror and sci-fi. And quite possibly there would be no Robert Rodriguez the director without Escape From New York.

But in looking at the current state of horror movies, I think we’ve lost sight of what made Carpenter's movies so great. Halloween had little to no blood in it. Same with The Fog. And Christine. Granted The Thing was filled with grotesque images, but still it was central to the story. The horror was in seeing this creature take the shape of an everyday human.

I guess the definition of the word horror has changed. To me, what made a movie horrifying was in the telling, not the showing. The idea that one day a harmless little boy could dress up in a clown suit, kill his sister and then become a possessed serial killer is far more terrifying then watching him chase down and kill babysitter after babysitter. The scene where Michael stands in the doorway with a white sheet draped over him still scares the shit out of me. I remember that scene far more than the strange and different ways people have been killed in the Final Destination or Saw movies.

In a recent article Eli Roth says that people are looking to be horrified. They want to scream. But last time I checked, I never screamed when I saw someone’s intestines falling out. I screamed when I watched Michael Myers’ face slowly appear out of complete darkness right behind Jamie Lee Curtis. Or when I watched a person I thought for sure had been dead, suddenly sit up from a hospital gurney and walk across the room in The Fog. Or when an unknown figure passes in the foreground and a crew member asks "who's there?" in The Thing. Or when I see the headlights of Christine appear out of the darkness and charge down the road at bullet speed. It's not about the kill, it's the build up. How long can you sustain the suspense and still make it suspenseful.

I think in a constant effort to continue to show different instead of better, we’ve lost track of what’s scary. Even Carpenter himself is guilty of this. He seems to be taken with the current state of horror, even abandoning his signature touch opting more for gore with movies like Vampires and Ghosts Of Mars. What I think everyone needs to do is to get back to the roots of horror. More theater of the mind and less theater of blood. The Blair Witch Project was a smash hit and it never showed the witch or one ounce of blood. Malevolence, a movie I have reviewed recently, was made just a few years ago and it proudly resurrects all the old traits of great horror movie making.

Roth seems to be constantly searching for reasons to justify his movies and others like them. He says that today’s horror movies are just a reflection of our current society. To me, the idea that one day a dirty bomb could be released in New York City is simply terrifying. I don’t need to see people’s faces melting from radiation to make me more scared. He even goes on to blame Tarantino, saying that ever since the ear removal scene from Reservoir Dogs, violence has become more prominent in movies. Not sure when the last time Roth has seen Reservoir Dogs, but Tarantino never showed Madsen cutting off the cop's ear. Nor did we ever see Hannibal Lector bite off the woman’s tongue. We saw it in our heads. And that’s far more terrifying than anything we could see on the screen.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

They Call Him... Dar

In High school, I once spent an entire class sifting through a dumpster in search of my retainer, which I had placed inside a milk container. I don't mind trash much.

So it is without guilt, without handi-wipes, without anti-bacterial soap nearby that I proudly tell you to watch The Beastmaster as part of the Trashy Movie Celebration Blog-A-Thon over at The Bleeding Tree.


Marc Singer in a loin cloth for one. This guy is B Movie glory. Promising once as the blind man in If You Could See What I Hear, Singer surrendered to what was inevitable: a career filled with TV cameos and cheap Corman knock offs. He stars as Dar, the heir to King Zed (I say that as if it means something important). Dar has special powers because he came from the belly of a cow. Let me say that again... he came from the belly of a cow. He's an old-timey Dr. Doolittle with the animals being able to communicate with them and see through their eyes.

Next up is the red-headed Tanya Roberts, Charlie's bad angel. She sheds what little cloth she's wearing to show off what God gave her, and in case you're wondering, those two fellas are glorious to behold. It's only a taste of what her later movies would reveal, but it's a sweet sweet taste. I can't remember what else she does in this movie.

Rip Torn plays the evil guy Maxx. Larry Sanders Show be damned, this is Rip's best comedic performance to date. He's all evil with pointy eyebrows and a schnoz that rivals Cyranos. He sacrifices babies and wants to take over the kingdom from King Zed. He wants Dar dead because it is prophesied that Dar will rise up and kill Maxx (I say that is if it means something important).

And then Holy Shit here comes John Amos. He plays Seth (Seth?) a staff wielding guard of King Zed who helps Dar get his great revenge against Maxx. His two nostrils co-star with him and man are they pissed. Their names are Jeff and Frank and they spend the entire movie in full-flare.

And the last character of note is Don Coscarelli, the director. Everything this guy touches turns to bizarre. Phantasm still haunts me to this day and Bubba Ho-tep is something else completely.

But this movie is more than a who's who of crazy movie careers. This is swords and sorcery. This is greased bodies, swinging swords and flying arrows. This is good versus evil with three witches in pasties thrown in for good measure. If Conan The Barbarian is the Rolex of this genre, then The Beastmaster must the Bolex. Just as good at half the price.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Time to get your Blog A Thon on

Get your genius on because two Blog-A-Thons are coming up very soon.

Head on over to The Bleeding Tree for the Trashy Movie Celebration Blog-A-Thon.

And then rest up because you're going to need it for The John Carpenter Effect: A Blog-A-Thon right here at Lazy Eye Theatre starting April 9th.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Zombie No More

I can't take it anymore.

The idea that I live in a world where Rob Zombie could be considered a legitimate director makes me want to jump out a window. Coming this Friday, Grindhouse will be be released and and it will billboard some great directors: Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, Edgar Wright. Directors who are shaping modern cinema today. And coming this Friday, Rob Zombie will be mentioned among them. The guy who made The Devil's Rejects, a moronic attempt at something not even close to a movie. And now, the trailer of Werewolf Women of the SS, the lowest point of an otherwise great concept of a movie. And based on this evidence, I'm sure he is now in the middle of completely botching a Halloween remake, killing what is one of the best horror movies ever made.

So here's what I ask. Label him something else. Anything but a director or a filmmaker. And if you're drawing a blank, here are some suggestions:

lead singer of White Zombie
donut lover
breather of air
man with hot wife
bad hair man
the guy who performed "more human than human"
person with all limbs
guy who doesn't hate birds
purveyor of nice nose hairs
bike rider
a punk ass bitch
cowboy hat wearer
a descendant of monkeys
resident of Haverhill, Massachussettes
denim lover
human being

Just don't call him a director. It places him in a category among Martin Scorsese. Among Wes Anderson. Among Quentin Tarantino. John Frankenheimer. Jean Renoir. Francis Coppola. And hundreds of others that are so deserving. But not him. Not now. Not ever.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Real James Bond

Have you seen this? It's an episode called "Homeless James Bond." It's part of a show on VH1 titled Acceptable TV. It's pretty damn funny. You can find other episodes here or on Youtube, everything from a game show called "Who Farted?" to a show titled "Joke Busters", where they try to find the origins of jokes. The premise was created by Jack Black and the people behind Monster House. Good to see Jack Black doing something funny again.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

What Say You? The Big Lebowski

I'm starting a new idea.

I'm young in this blogging business and have big dreams for Lazy Eye Theatre. Big dreams, I tell you. And aside from a few commentary debates, there's been very little chitty chatty on the old blog. Maybe that will come with time, but I'm impatient. And like I've said before, I'm needy. So I'm starting something new, titled What Say You? where I create a debate topic and then let the cards fall where they may.

My first topic is one that seems to create some debate whenever I bring it up. It's about The Big Lebowski. I'm a big fan of the Coen Brothers but I think they missed the boat on this one. Whenever I tell friends I don't like it, I get blank stares (I think I actually go down a couple of notches on the old friendship meter) and then I'm told to watch it again. I think I've seen it three times now and still haven't found what makes it so great. But maybe I'm an idiot.

So here goes.

The Big Lebowski: Comedy gold or a blight on the Coen's resume.


Top 5 Tuesdays (T5T) Goes To Vegas

I'm in Las Vegas right now on business. I love the place. It's one gigantic tribute to waste. Money, electricity, taste, whatever. And you have to have one of those places. So anyway, I was thinking since it's Tuesday, give me your Top 5 movies that are shot all or partially in Vegas. If you need some help, go here.

  1. Ocean's Eleven (remake) - "They might as well call it Whitejack!"
  2. Casino - "Listen to me Anthony. I got your head in a fuckin' vise. I'll squash your head like a fuckin' grapefruit if you don't give me a name."
  3. Swingers - "Oh Mikey you don't want all that "Pirates Of The Caribbean" horseshit, or the "Rock and Roll Grunge Tip". Guys like you and me gotta kick it here, old school."
  4. Lost In America - "As the boldest experiment in advertising history, you give us our money back."
  5. Go - "Just so we're clear, you stole a car, shot a bouncer, and had sex with two women?"

Even if you don't give me your list, tell me what you think of the Top 5 Tuesdays series. Keep it or dump it? Be honest.

Monday, April 2, 2007

The Big Shiney Stars of Grindhouse

This is my final entry to the Grindhouse Premiere experience. Man, that sucks.

It's impossible to talk about Grindhouse and Death Proof in particular without mentioning two outstanding performances.

First is Kurt Russell. Man, I love this guy. What an amazing career he has and he usually gets unnoticed. But not here. Not by me. A child star that dodged the traditional drug abuse, he has weathered the Captain Ron's well and chalked up quite a roster of films. And he's peaking well with Death Proof.

In Death Proof, Russell plays Stunt Man Mike. And he plays it brilliantly. What threw me is how he plays his character at first: that of a harmless, borderline annoying washed up stunt man. But then the darkness creeps in and suddenly all the innocence that he once portrayed makes him that much more scary. Because you think that at one time, he was an average guy. A guy you could meet at a bar and throw a couple back while watching a game or sharing a story or two. And it's this innocence that makes his character work so well with the women he stalks as he lures them in with his "aw shucks" attitude. And he can turn it on and off whenever needed. In short, Russell provides a soul to an otherwise purely evil character. But Russell delivering an outstanding performance is not news to me.

So let's talk about the Newbie. And that is Sydney Poitier. As I watched her strut down the hall of her apartment in the opening of Death Proof, then plop herself down on her couch and take a big ole hit from the bong that rested on her coffee table, I thought "who the hell is this woman?" So beautiful, so cool. And then as the movie went on and she delivered her lines with a slow purr and chewed up every scene she was in, I thought again "who the hell is this woman?" And when I saw her in person at the premiere, standing tall and proud and beautiful in her long white dress, I thought that I needed to find out who the hell this woman was. She is Sydney Poitier and it was sheer pleasure watching her on the big screen.

Pay attention viewers because my guess is this is not the last time we will see her. She is destined for incredible things.