Monday, July 30, 2007

The Online 100

So here's the story. Cinema Fusion asked around and got a bunch of on-line bloggers and editors to contribute their lists of the Top 100 Movies. From there, they narrowed the list of movies down to 502 and sent the list to everyone. The on-line bloggers and editors were then asked to choose from the 502 and put together another list of their Top 100. I put mine together and then submitted it. Just recently, Cinema Fusion published the final list. It's not in response to the AFI's more recent list. It's not trying to be the Slamdance to Sundance. It's just a list. I'm quite surprised about the list, actually. Ghostbusters stuck out like a sore thumb. In my opinion that movie doesn't represent comedy like Caddyshack or Young Frankenstein. And American History X gets included but not All The President's Men? And no Wes Anderson or Steven Soderbergh to be found. And not many foreign films. And a bit too much Sci-fi for my tastes. And the ranking is strange. Dr. Strangelove is a great movie, but to be number 3? But you know what? It's not my list anymore. It's a list of 50 people. I've never subscribed to the concept by committee idea because I can't really support this list anymore. And I doubt anyone is 100% happy with this list. It only represents some of my tastes. But as I said before and I'll say it again, it was a great idea by Cinema Fusion. And it's interesting to see what everyone came up with, even if I don't necessarily agree with it. I was honored to be included.

So here it is. I've highlighted my original picks in red. Check it out and have at it.



The Online Film Community’s Top 100 Movies

100. Nosferatu (Murnau, 1922)
99. Cinema Paradiso (Tornatore, 1988)
98. On the Waterfront (Kazan, 1954)
97. Blue Velvet (Lynch, 1986)
96. Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino, 1992)
95. His Girl Friday (Hawks, 1940)
94. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Jackson, 2003)
93. Toy Story (Lasseter, 1995)
92. Notorious (Hitchcock, 1946)
91. The 400 Blows (Truffaut, 1959)
90. Ghostbusters (Reitman, 1984)
89. 8 1⁄2 (Fellini, 1963)
88. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Herzog, 1972)
87. Leon (Besson, 1994)
86. Touch of Evil (Welles, 1958)
85. Modern Times (Chaplin, 1936)
84. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Capra, 1939)
83. To Kill a Mockingbird (Mulligan, 1962)

82. The Manchurian Candidate (Frankenheimer, 1962)

81. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Cameron, 1992)
80. North by Northwest (Hitchcock, 1959)
79. King Kong (Cooper/Shoedsack, 1933)
78. Manhattan (Allen, 1979)
77. Ed Wood (Burton, 1994)
76. American History X (Kaye, 1998)
75. The Maltese Falcon (Huston, 1941)
74. Groundhog Day (Ramis, 1993)
73. The Conversation (Coppola, 1974)
72. The Bicycle Thief (De Sica, 1948)
71. The Graduate (Nichols, 1967)
70. Network (Lumet, 1976)
69. Halloween (Carpenter, 1978)
68. The Rules of the Game (Renoir, 1939)
67. Do the Right Thing (S. Lee, 1989)

66. Heat (Mann, 1995)

65. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Jackson, 2001)
64. Aliens (Cameron, 1986)
63. Silence of the Lambs (Demme, 1991)

62. The Incredibles (Bird, 2004)

61. A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick, 1971)

60. The Apartment (Wilder, 1960)
59. The General (Keaton/Bruckman, 1927)
58. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1928)
57. Unforgiven (Eastwood, 1992)
56. L.A. Confidential (Hanson, 1997)
55. 12 Angry Men (Lumet, 1957)
54. The Shining (Kubrick, 1980)
53. M (Lang, 1931)
52. Memento (Nolan, 2000)
51. The Bridge on River Kwai (Lean, 1957)
50. Double Indemnity (Wilder, 1944)
49. The Big Lebowski (J. Coen, 1998)
48. Sunset Blvd. (Wilder, 1950)
47. This is Spinal Tap (Reiner, 1984)
46. Run Lola Run (Tykwer, 1998)
45. Goodfellas (Scorsese, 1990)
44. E.T. (Spielberg, 1982)
43. Singin’ in the Rain (Donen/Kelly, 1952)
42. The Searchers (Ford, 1956)
41. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Leone, 1966)
40. Raging Bull (Scorsese, 1980)
39. Once Upon a Time in the West (Leone, 1968)
38. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Forman, 1975)
37. The Princess Bride (Reiner, 1987)
36. The Usual Suspects (Singer, 1995)
35. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Gilliam/Jones, 1975)
34. Fight Club (Fincher, 1999)

33. Brazil (Gilliam, 1985)

32. Annie Hall (W. Allen, 1977)
31. Back to the Future (Zemeckis, 1985)
30. Die Hard (McTiernan, 1988)
29. The Third Man (Reed, 1949)

28. The Matrix (Wachowski/Wachowski, 1999)

27. The Wizard of Oz (Fleming, 1939)
26. Schindler’s List (Spielberg, 1993)
25. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Gondry, 2004)
24. Lawrence of Arabia (Lean, 1962)
23. Fargo (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1996)
22. It’s a Wonderful Life (Capra, 1946)

21. Apocalypse Now (Coppola, 1979)

20. Seven Samurai (Kurosawa, 1954)
19. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)
18. Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960)
17. Rear Window (Hitchcock, 1954)
16. The Shawshank Redemption (Darabont, 1994)

15. Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1976)

14. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)
13. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (Lucas, 1977)
12. Chinatown (Polanski, 1974)
11. Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, 1994)
10. Alien (R. Scott, 1979)
9. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Kershner, 1980)
8. The Godfather Part II (Coppola, 1974)

7. Jaws (Spielberg, 1975)

6. Blade Runner (R. Scott, 1982)

5. Casablanca (Curtiz, 1942)
4. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg, 1981)
3. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Kubrick, 1964)

2. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)

1. The Godfather (Coppola, 1972)

Contributor’s Websites

Cinema Fusion
Cinemathematics
Coffee Coffee and More Coffee
Combustible Celluloid
Cultural Snow
DVD Panache
Drinking Song
Eddie on Film
Film Babble
Film Experience
Film Grotto
Film Ick
Film Junk
Film Rotation
Film School Rejects
Filmspotting
IGN
JoBlo
Lazy Eye Theatre
Lucid Screening
Mad About Movies
Movie Patron
Movie Picture Film
Obsessed With Film
One-Hundred Films
Rotten Tomatoes
Salon
Screenrant
Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule
Slashfilm
Sophomore Critic
Talking Moviezzz
That Movie Site
The Cinematic Art
The Documentary Blog
The Movie Blog
Thompson on Hollywood
Throwing Things
Twitch
Variety
Windmills of My Mind
Y Kant Goran Rite

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Gwen Verdon Shakes The Hump

The more things change, the more things stay the same. Below is Gwen Verdon performing to the song 'Mexican Breakfast' performed by Johnny Mondel (I think) and choreographed by Bob Fosse.



And here is the same footage to the song 'Walk It Out' as performed by the group UNK. It's pretty damn uncanny how the two synch up.

Friday, July 27, 2007

D'OH


Remember my comedy penis?

I have one but it's been quite flaccid lately. Not a lot of stuff to laugh at. The Simpsons Movie didn't really help it much. It turns out that my comedy penis is mostly stimulated by Chief Wiggum. When he was on the screen, my comedy penis would get all excited. Unfortunately he was on the screen for about 30 seconds total. The rest of the time, my comedy penis was confused. It talks to me and here's what it said.

Comedy Penis: This is the Simpsons, right?

Me: Yes.

Comedy Penis: THE Simpsons.

Me: Yes. THE Simpsons.

Comedy Penis: Not a bad knock-off.

Me: No.

Comedy Penis: Then why aren't I more excited?

Me: I wish I knew.

Comedy Penis: So when does Superbad come out?

The Simpsons Movie plays like a 90 minute episode that's not very funny. And it's hard to do something epic for a movie when you've done so many epic episodes already. I remember one episode where a meteor was going to hit Springfield and everyone got in Flanders' bomb shelter. That was episode was funny because not everyone could fit in the shelter and Homer wanted to vote out Flanders. He would insist that the mob throw out Flanders and then immediately apologize to his kids for doing so. I didn't feel that kind of edge in the movie. Instead of edge, what I got was Homer flipping people the bird, Marge saying 'Goddamn' and we got to see Bart's wiener. That's why I spent my $9 bucks? I should have stayed home, watched a rerun and laughed at better jokes for free.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hey Hollywood! Lay Off Lady Liberty


I flew into New York Monday evening. It was raining and had been all day, so we were re-routed to a different runway at Laguardia. Not a big deal, but it meant I didn't get to see The Statue Of Liberty on my entry. Not sure if I would have seen her anyways due to the weather. But it got me thinking again of that 'Coverfield' trailer I posted about last Friday. Upon re-watching it, I don't really care for it at all due solely to the Statue Of Liberty head shot at the end. It's too much. Too cliched. Is that supposed to make me angry? Make me think that New York and the rest of the world is in serious trouble by a monster that means business? Instead it made me yawn and wonder why someone would take such an interesting approach (documentation style) and then cap it with such cliched material. Does that make it epic in its feel all of the sudden. It seemed to work for Independence Day. Watching The Whitehouse blow up made us think we were watching an earth-shattering movie for a moment, instead of a turd.

But this isn't the first jab at Lady Liberty and it certainly won't be the last. It seems that the message is: if you attack Lady Liberty, you're making a serious statement. Much like if you want to tell Hollywood you're truly a lesbian, you must date Ellen DeGeneres otherwise you're just playing around. Anyways, here is a list of some other Lady-Haters.


The Simpsons Movie




The Day After Tomorrow




Superman II




Escape From New York























Planet Of The Apes





This is not a political statement, just a request for Hollywood to get some new material.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Drink It Up Indie: The Butler Brothers

About three months ago, I was contacted by Brett Butler. He said he liked my blog and wanted me to review some films that he and his brother had directed/produced/edited/and everything else. At first, I thought his e-mail was spam. Who was I to judge their work? They didn't know me. But I was glad they contacted me and I was honored to see their stuff, so I told them to send it my way.


They sent me two films: Bums and Confusions of an Unmarried Couple. After watching both, I want to hang with Brett and Jason, The Butler Brothers. There's no doubt they are witty, insightful and have an enormous knowledge of film. They have a talent for dialogue and have the ability to weave pop culture references into their movies seamlessly. Their acting is not bad and seems honest and the camera work is loose and spontaneous. It works with the themes of these movies and is a good example of how a limited budget causes you to be more creative in your thinking.

I first watched Bums and I have to admit, while I liked the performances of Jason and Brett, and the dialogue was sharp and fast, I didn't care much for it. It really has nothing to do with the movie as a whole and absolutely everything to do with my tastes in general and the station I am in in life. I compare it to the likes of Kicking and Screaming and SuBurbia and I know that's high praise because those movies are both very good for what they do, and there was a time when I loved 'talkies' such as this, but that time has passed. As a husband and father of two I don't find myself too often sitting around and contemplating relationships with my friends being that I'm in a good one myself. That being said, I found myself identifying much more with their second movie Confusion of an Unmarried Couple. In it we find Dan (Brett Butler) recently broken up with his longtime girlfriend. Dan's brother has asked him to produce a video diary of his feelings during the break-up. It's an annoying commitment that Dan has carried through with and the video footage of his one on one with the camera provides a nice narrative for the entire movie. In addition to the one on one interviews, the camera is loose and flowing very documentary style. The conversations between Dan and his girlfriend are back and forth. Very few cuts.

The sign of good writing is the ability to show an unwavering honesty in the characters and the subject matter. I felt this early on as Dan confesses to the camera that since his break-up he can't masturbate without crying. It's sad and you know it's true because it's so specific. The reason for the break-up is because Lisa (Naomi Johnson), Dan's girlfriend, cheated on him with another woman. Probably my favorite part of the movie is when Dan describes the different kind of women he would consider having an affair with. He goes through descriptor after descriptor (the small breasted red-head with a lot of freckles, the woman with the boyish body) and you can't help but take glee in the possibilities. Dan weighs in on the girl/girl relationship and I was pleased to see that he didn't make the predictable comment of being turned on by it. Instead, he says it hurts just as much as if it were a guy, because Lisa is sharing those sacred feelings once reserved for Dan with someone else. That's heartbreaking no matter who it is.

I enjoyed Brett's performance of Dan for the sole reason that I couldn't get a complete handle on him. Is he sincere in his journey to get back Lisa? If so, why is he continuing to gather his things throughout the apartment? At one moment he's sentimental, the next sarcastic and unforgiving. Dan is best when he's one on one with the camera. It's there that his dry wit comes through and his performance seems the most honest. The same can be said of Lisa. She is much softer in the interviews than she comes across in the apartment. In her conversation's with Dan, Lisa's character is so defensive that it was hard to find the spark that made Dan want to try to get her back. And if there's a fault in the movie, it's that there isn't much depth to Lisa's character. She seems to go from bitchy to bitchier. But her stubbornness is right on. She was wrong but won't admit it. It's the sign of a good relationship and friendship that it takes the movement of heaven and earth to get one to admit they're wrong. I would say that over 50% of bad marriages or relationships are not a result of one bad thing, but a series of small unresolved issues due to an unwillingness to apologize.

In the end, Lisa and Dan's relationship seemed mostly physical in nature. Lots of time was dedicated to talk of sex which is not surprising in a healthy relationship but in lieu of any true spark between the two we are left with sex. And sex ain't bad if it's good. And it seemed good between the two. Towards the end, Lisa offers up that it seems she and Dan always have sex after a big fight. That follows with the idea that the two are always looking for reasons to have sex. It's not just the act of having sex, it's a reason for having it. And to me, that brings up an interesting take on the movie itself. Was the break-up between Dan and Lisa for real or was it just another elaborate plan. A chance to revive a sex life that may have become stale. All documented by Dan's brother. I may be delving a bit too deep here, but I found it an interesting approach if it was intended.

Hats off to the brothers for creating some pretty damn interesting cinema. The two are currently traveling around from film festival to film festival with their movies. This August 3rd, they will be screening Confusions of an Unmarried Couple at the Wreck Beach International Film Festival. Not a bad life. Drinking beer and talking about movies. Where do I sign up?

You can find The Butler's Brothers work on sale at Amazon.com.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Revisiting The Howling

This post is for The Monster Squad-A-Thon going on at DVD Panache.

I have seen The Monster Squad but for the life of me cannot remember a single bit of it so I was relieved to hear that Adam opened up this blog-a-thon to any monster movie. And when I think of good, fun monster movies, I think of The Howling. Joe Dante is great admirer of the older monster movies as revealed in his film Matinee and there is no better homage to this than The Howling. Not so terrifying as fun and amazing. This was the first werewolf movie where man turned to wolf before our eyes without a series of dissolves. I can remember as a child, sneaking away from trimming the Christmas tree so that I could watch cheeks bubble and chests expand. An American Werewolf in London received all the acclaim, but The Howling beat it to the punch being released just four months earlier in April of 1981, as opposed to August of the same year.

Upon watching it again, I was surprised to find it a bit silly. While I always felt this was not a traditional horror movie, I was a disappointed to find upon revisit that it followed all the 80's horror cliches a bit too well. This is no more evident than in the scene where Karen (Dee Wallace) encounters Eddie (Robert Picardo) in the doctor's office. In 2007, the awe of the special effects is gone and what is left is the skepticism of a 36 year old man. In this scene, there's about a three and a half minute window for Karen to get the hell out of dodge, yet she stays and watches. It's obvious that she must stay and watch because we as viewers are witnessing the horror through her eyes. But, come on.


Look, Eddie is pulling a bullet from his brain.



Um, Karen. You might want to leave.



Oh, and look. Eddie's cheeks are bubbling up and his eyes have rolled back in his head.



Wow, I know this is some pretty strange shit you're seeing but you should probably leave
now Karen.



Hey everybody, Eddie's fingernails are jutting out of his hand.



Um, Karen? Hate to be a buzz kill, but unless you're getting your serious kink on, now would be a good time to leave.



And now Eddie's chest is violently protruding from his shirt.



Karen? You there?



Yep, and now his ears are getting pointy and are coming out of the top of his head. That's not where ears come from. They come from the sides of the head. The sides.



Look you twisted bitch. You better get the hell out of there.



And here comes the stretching snout.



Oh, acid. You threw acid on him. Nice move Karen. But did you have to wait until the transformation? Why not throw it, say... three minutes ago.


Being Indpendent In The Film World

In my time blogging thus far, I have had the pleasure of coming into contact with several independent filmmakers. And more than that, I've been asked to view their work and comment on it. It truly is an honor and a bit intimidating. I will say that you look at an independent film completely different from a commercial release. Or I do, at least. There are not the easy devices of commercial films to guide you along. You understand in viewing these films that in watching commercial features, you take a lot for granted and you become lazy in your viewing. It's easy to compare a scene of a commercial feature against the director's previous work or another movie of the genre. And a lot of creativity is lost because budget constraints are rarely a concern. John Sayles was asked what he would do with 100 million budget. He said he would make ten, 10 million dollar movies. Raimi himself even said that big budgets would force him to be less creative in his thinking. This of course was before the Spiderman franchise. I ask you to watch Spiderman 3 and see if Raimi has lost any of the creativity that was on constant display with the Evil Dead trilogy.

I went to film school, so I have a small inkling of the dedication it takes to make a short film or complete a full-length feature. The raising of money, the begging of friends, the job of director/cinematographer/writer/best boy, the balls to put pen to paper and then to put those ideas on film or video. These are brave and dedicated and perhaps crazy people who make these films. They show tremendous will to work their day jobs and then shoot at nights and weekends. And some do it not to be the next big thing in Hollywood, they do it because of a deep passion for film and storytelling. And they do it in places like Pittsburgh or Kansas City or Arkansas or Canada. Before I even view a single frame, I have tremendous respect for these people, for they have done what I never did and few others have.

In the next day or so I will be reviewing a couple of pictures from The Butler Brothers and a short from Lucas McNelly. It is my pleasure and my honor to do so.

Unleash The Monsters


Adam at DVD Panache is hosting the Monster Squad-A-Thon. It begins today and is going through the 26th. Remember, your post doesn't have to be specifically about The Monster Squad, it can be about any monster movie.

Friday, July 20, 2007

What Say You: The New Godzilla?



Here is a new trailer from producer J.J. Abrams. It had me until the Statue Of Liberty head which felt a bit too much like Independence Day. But besides that it's pretty damn cool. So here's the question: is it the new Godzilla or something completely different. The people on Youtube seem to think it's the new Godzilla.

WHAT SAY YOU?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Michael Bay Can Write?


I had no idea. But here's proof. From Jim Emerson's scanners:blog, a letter written by Michael Bay published in the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Evidently, Bay is an avid reader too.

To the Editor:

The Northwest Herald’s movie critic, Jeffrey Westhoff, seems to be woefully out of touch with pop culture.

The “Transformers” movie’s $155 million seven-day haul is the biggest non-sequel opening in box office history. Numbers like that usually mean positive word of mouth on the film is huge, and people are going back.

A friend of mine, Steven Spielberg – he’s pretty smart about film – said Westhoff’s review was idiotic. Westhoff’s a critic who actually reviewed his dislike for the director, rather then reviewing the movie, like his job description prescribes. Westhoff talks about the director being an “egomaniacal hack.” ["Michael Bay turns 'Transformers' into pile of scrap metal."] Well I don’t believe I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting Westhoff, though it sounds like he knows me. If Westhoff actually did know me, he would find me to be a pretty down-to-earth, nice guy.

I implore the editor to give Westhoff a little relaxation and sunshine, clear his head, let him rediscover that movie-going is supposed to be a fun experience.

Maybe even help him get rid of his hatred.

Michael Bay
Director of “Transformers”
Los Angeles, Ca.


Last time I checked there was something called freedom of speech. Westhoff is as free to call Bay an 'egomaniacal hack' as Stephen Spielberg (so he's friends with him now?) is to call Westhoff's review idiotic. This harkens back to the time that Cameron called for the resignation of the reviewer from the L.A. Times who didn't like Titanic.

I have worked with several production people who have worked with Bay when he was directing commercials. They know him to be anything but a 'down-to-earth' guy.

Go away Bay. Go far, far away.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Joystick Controls The Movie



What if Atari made games based on movies from the 70's? What if indeed. A friend of mine stumbled onto these bad boys from the site Atari Age. It's hard not think what these games would be like. For example if I played Deliverance would I have the choice of picking between Burt Reynolds or one of the backwoods rednecks? If I were Burt Reynolds I could float down the river shooting redneck after redneck that popped up behind bushes and on top of cliffs very much like River Raid. Or better yet, I could swing from limb to limb dodging banjo playing in-breeds much like Pitfall. Or I could be the rednecks and I could... well... I could sodomize?











Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Feedback Requested

I'm currently courting other templates for my blog. There are some really pretty and friendly ones. They're more structured and have rounded edges and seem more organized.

It's not that I don't like my currently template, I want to stay friends and all, it just seems a little unruly. I don't like so much how the text shapes with the size of the window.

I honestly would like to know what you think. Should I go a changin or not? Or is this a ridiculous post.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Harry Saves Summer

Just when I thought all was lost this Summer, Harry Potter waves the magic wand and all is good again. I saw Harry Potter and the Order Of The Phoenix this past Friday night and it was great. Not the best, but for the fifth movie in the franchise, really damn good. I am amazed that this franchise has held up as well as it has. Harry Potter has survived four different directors including Chris Columbus twice and yet they have stayed true to the characters, the look and the tone and you don't feel that the directors are having to compromise to stay true to this. Everyone fits nicely within the fold. The acting is also there, as is the writing, and the special effects. Nothing has faltered.


In this episode, Harry is under scrutiny because no one believes that Lord Voldemort is truly alive and kicking. The Ministry Of Magic is not prepared to accept that they have to face their greatest nemesis once again and Harry spends the first part of the movie trying to clear his name. Once it is suspected that Dumbledore too believes that Lord Voldemort is back, the Ministry tightens the grip on Hogwarts by sending in Dolores Umbridge, played wonderfully in bright pink by Imelda Staunton. She is both funny and terrifying within seconds of each other and her inclusion is a shining example of how far this franchise has come. Gone are the days of cute magic and quirky characters. Dolores Umbridge is a character developed for the older clan with much more depth and substance. The most amazing scene is the first exposure to Dolores' office. Plates with pictures of cats on them, fill her walls. And because this is a Harry Potter movie, all the cats are alive within the plates purring and licking themselves and even going in and out of little kitty doors within the plates. As Dolores enforces her strict policies on the children, fluffy white cats 'meow' in the background. It's as funny as it is creepy.

Dolores stops teaching actual spells to use as defense against the dark arts altogether and Harry and the crew begin to get restless. As Harry begins to make believers out of the students, they all band together and begin to learn spells from Harry, since Harry has actually faced the Dark Lord twice now and has lived to tell about it. It's here that you really feel that Harry is 'the chosen one' as he motivates the young troops and begins to teach them. I appreciated how this was handled, unlike something like Matrix where we are reminded every 5 minutes that we are among 'the chosen one'.

What I am most impressed with is how each of these movies have reflected the age and experience of the characters. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was very sweet and fun because we were just discovering this magical world. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire did a very good job of capturing the awkwardness of the teen years. It was darker, but yet there was still an innocence about it. Well, those days are gone because innocence is lost. The teen years are in full effect and the great battle between good and evil looms. There is no place in this movie for 'wow, magic sure is neato' and thankfully is was missing.

The battle at the end between Lord Voldemort and Dumbledore is the stuff Summer Blockbusters are made of. Walls shake and windows break as spell after spell is cast. You feel the true power of both these wizards and it's cool as hell.

If I had complaints it would be that the movie feels a bit rushed in places. New characters are introduced and not really explored. The character Nymphadora Tonks is a good example of this. On the surface she seems interesting, but her part is very small and other than the fact she has colored hair, I didn't really get much sense of her. We may learn more in the next movie. I myself know nothing of her because I have not read any of the books. And while Hermione and Ron were central to the plot in the past, they feel tacked on in places. This is a bit disappointing especially since the theme of this one is 'you can't do everything alone Harry'. But those complaints are nit-picky in the grand scheme of things.

So I say let the rest of the summer suck, for I have seen the blockbuster to beat them all. And isn't it a bit interesting that in order for me to enjoy the magic of summer movies, I actually need to see a movie about magic. Thanks Harry. This summer isn't a wash after all.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Working the 502


You've probably read about this by now, but Cinema Fusion has done something pretty cool in creating an Online Film Community Top 100 Movies. Maybe it's in reaction to the AFI's Top 100, or maybe it's just a group of people doing the on-line film community thing. Either way, it's a great idea. A few weeks ago, I posted My 100 movies and I was supposed to submit that to Cinema Fusion for consideration, but I didn't read directions and well, I never submitted my list. But I'm pleased and surprised to see that 81 of my picks were still in the 502. And despite my lack of submission, I have been allowed to help narrow down the list and rank them so thanks for that. In the 502, I found a lot of surprise inclusions (X-Men 2, Big Trouble in Little China), some surprise omissions (Sleeper, Traffic. La Femme Nikita) and found that I was able to redeem myself with some new picks that I missed in my original 100 (The Hustler, The Sweet Hereafter and Slapshot). Not to mention I was delighted to see that Army Of Darkness was still there waiting for me so thanks to the people who picked that.

So here it is. I marked my original picks in red. Goodfellas being the best of them all. And here's a note: ranking is hard. Does The Insider deserve to be four spots ahead of The Hustler? And does Army Of Darkness have any business being 15 spots ahead of The Last Picture Show? Honestly, I'm not completely sure, but that's what I'm going with.

100. Matrix, The (Wachowski/Wachowski, 1999)

99. Shawshank Redemption (Darabont, 1994)
98. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (Burton, 1985)
97.Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Cameron, 1992)
96. King of Comedy, The (Scorsese, 1983)
95. Raising Arizona (Coen, 1987)
94. City of God (Meirelles, 2002)




















93. Se7en (Fincher, 1995)

92. Pinocchio (Luske/Sharpsteen, 1940)
91. Scream (Craven, 1996)
90. Tootsie (Pollack, 1982)
89. Iron Giant, The (Bird, 1999)
88. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Kershner, 1980)
87. Meet Me in St. Louis (Minnelli, 1944)
86. Sideways (Payne, 2004)
85. Sweet Hereafter, The (Egoyan 1997)
84. French Connection, The (1971)
83. Slap Shot (Hill, 1977)





















82. Road Warrior, The (Miller, 1981)

81. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Gilliam/Jones, 1975)

80. Saving Private Ryan (Spielberg, 1998)
79. Miller’s Crossing (Coen, 1990)
78. Brazil (Gilliam, 1985)
77. Videodrome (Cronenberg, 1983)
76. Rushmore (Anderson, 1998)
75. Three Kings (Russell, 1999)

74. Dawn of the Dead (Romero, 1978)

73. Grosse Point Blank (Armitage, 1997)
72. Princess Mononoke (Miyazaki, 1997)
71. His Girl Friday (Hawks, 1940)
70. Seven Samurai (Kurosawa, 1954)

69. To Kill a Mockingbird (Mulligan, 1962)

68. Vanishing, The (Sluizer, 1988)

67. Lord of the Rings, The: The Two Towers (Jackson, 2002)
66. Caddyshack (Ramis, 1980)
65. Third Man, The (Reed, 1949)
64. Fly, The (Cronenberg, 1986)
63. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Stuart, 1971)

62.
Deliverance (Boorman, 1972)
61. Apocalypse Now (Coppola, (1979)

60. Goldfinger (Hamilton, 1964)
59. Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1976)

58. Shining, The (Kubrick, 1980)






















57. Deer Hunter, The (Cimino,1978)

56. Graduate, The (Nichols, 1967)
55. Rear Window (Hitchcock, 1954)
54. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Spielberg, 1977)

53. Crouching Tiger, HiddenDragon (A Lee, 2000)

52. Fargo (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1996)
51. Verdict, The (Lumet, 1982)
50. Do the Right Thing (S Lee, 1989)
49. Robocop (Verhoeven, 1987)

48. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Kubrick, 1964)
47. Mulholland Drive (Lynch, 2001)
46. Blazing Saddles (Brooks, 1974)






















45. Aliens (Cameron, 1986)

44. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (Tarantino, 2003)
43. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Capra, 1939)

42. Boogie Nights (PT Anderson, 1997)
41. L.A. Confidential (Hanson, 1997)

40. Broadcast News (Brooks, 1987)

39. Last Picture Show, The (Bogdanovich, 1971)

38. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg, 1981)

37. Heat (Mann, 1995)
36. Player, The (Altman, 1992)
35. Unforgiven (Eastwood, 1992)

34. Escape from New York (Carpenter, 1981)

33. Spirited Away (Miyazaki, 2001)
32. Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, 1994)

31. Die Hard (McTiernan, 1988)

30. Silence of the Lambs, The (Demme, 1991)

29. Jaws (Spielberg, 1975)

28. Election (Payne, 1999)





















27. Dazed and Confused (Linklater, 1993)

26. This is Spinal Tap (Reiner, 1984)

25. Army of Darkness (Raimi, 1992)

24. A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick, 1971)

23. Godfather Part II, The (Coppola, 1974)

22. Blade Runner (R. Scott, 1982)

21. Manchurian Candidate, The (Frankenheimer, 1962)
20. M*A*S*H (Altman, 1970)

19. Oldboy (Park, 2003)

18. Hustler, The (Rossen, 1961)
17. It’s a Wonderful Life (Capra, 1946)
16. Rules of the Game, The (Renoir, 1939)

15. After Hours (Scorsese, 1985)

14. Insider, The (Mann, 1999)

13.
High Fidelity (Frears, 2000)





















12. Godfather, The (Coppola, 1972)

11. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)

10. Young Frankenstein (Brooks, 1974)

9. Fight Club (Fincher, 1999)

8. Out of Sight (Soderbergh, 1998)

7. Blow Out (De Palma, 1981)

6. Thing, The (Carpenter, 1982)

5. Royal Tenenbaums, The (Anderson, 2001)

4. North by Northwest (Hitchcock, 1959)

3. Blue Velvet (Lynch, 1986)

2. All the President’s Men (Pakula, 1976)
1. Goodfellas (Scorsese, 1990)


Friday, July 13, 2007

Jason Promotes Teen Abstinence

This post is part of the Friday The 13th Blog-A-Thon going on over at Final Girl.

You can talk about condoms and abstinence in the classrooms and on TV all you want, but the truth is, nothing curbs teen sex more than a good old fashioned decapitation. Or a sharp instrument through the throat. Or being sliced in half by a machete. These are the teen sex rules as established by Jason Voorhees and they are not negotiable. If you are teen-aged and engaging in any kind of funny business with a member of the opposite sex, about to engage in it, or even thinking about engaging in it, here are the facts: you will probably be killed by Jason. And it won't be pleasant. If you're lucky, he'll make it fast and just slit your throat. But most likely he will slowly squeeze your head until your eyeball pops out and then you will die shortly after.



Sean S. Cunningham should be getting check after check from the U.S. Government for starting the best anti-teen sex message ever: Teen Sex = Death. Leave your STD and teen pregnancy stories for someone else. My advice, when your son or daughter turns 13, give them the Friday The 13th Collection: From Crystal Lake to Manhattan. Celebrate their birthday, wear some hats, blow some horns, eat some cake and ice cream and then pop those suckers into the DVD one after another. And continue to do so until even the mention of sex turns your kid into a limp, heaving mess much like Alex from A Clockwork Orange.

Yes, thanks to Jason Voorhees, not only did I never attend camp, nor go in a canoe until I was about 25, but I thought twice before I touched a boobie or hopped in the sack with any girl for fear that Jason would be there shortly after the deed to punish me for my wrongdoings. Actually, my looks had more to do with my lack of 'teen play' but for the purpose of this post, let's just blame it all on Jason.

Bold Oscar Predictions



I have watched the trailer to There Will Be Blood endless times. It is an incredible trailer. I have always been amazed at how P.T. Anderson has been able to grasp his characters and the time periods he explores at such a young age. The scenes of this trailer remind me of Coppola and The Godfather. No one takes the time to light a scene the way he used to. And the so called 'advancement' of film has practically eliminated the lights and darks of old, taking away from the visual drama that can make a single scene so powerful. But these shots and this movie look to bring all that back.

My friend Brian has an uncanny ability to make spot-on Oscar predictions. He predicted that Penn would take the Oscar from seeing the Mystic River trailer. Not the movie, the trailer. Long before there was talk about Swank for Million Dollar Baby, he predicted she would take the Oscar. Now I will attempt to do the same. Based on this trailer, I predict that P.T. Anderson will be nominated for Best Director this year. I'm not going to go as far as saying he will win it, but I will say he will be nominated. Maybe this isn't as bold as I wanted it to be.

Bad Luck. The Friday The 13th Blog-a-Thon.

The Friday The 13th Blog-a-Thon begins today over at Final Girl. I am not thinking that I will be able to participate because of my crapola schedule, but we will see. Anyways, head over there and participate already.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Blogophone


So Alan over at Burbanked tagged me with an interesting idea. The Blogophone. Played much like the 'pass it on' game of our childhood. He writes something, passes it on, I interpret it as best I can, and then I pass it on to someone else. There are rules to this. There are always rules.

  1. At the bottom of your post, include your version of the statement, changed or not.
  2. Pass it along to one single blogger.
  3. Link your post back to mine here.
I'm a little deaf in my left ear and the old Blogophone wasn't working as well as it should so bear with me on this. But as best as I can tell, this is what Alan had to say.

Please flip me and ride hard, oh wiseman because I respect you and understand. I don't wear course material because it transforms my skin into something resembling the career of Michael Bay.

Sure, it's a little gay but that's what I heard. At least that's what I think I heard.

I in turn will tag SamuraiFrog at Electronic Cerebrectomy. Have at it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I Loves Me Some Zombies



First there was Night Of The Living Dead.

Dum, dum, dum.

Then came Dawn Of The Dead.

Dum, dum, dum.

The Day Of The Dead.

Dum, dum, dum.

28 Days Later.

Dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum.

28 Weeks Later.

Dum, daa, daa, daa, daa, daa

And now.

Daa, daa, daa, daa, daa.

The next chapter in the zombie saga.

Daaaaaa, daaa, daaaaaaa, da, da

Fido.

Whaaaaaa, whaaaaa, whaaaaa, dum, dum whaaaa, whaaaaa.

Fido is a movie that asks the question: what if we won the war on zombies and then made them our slaves. It's a great concept. Evidently it came out June 15th. And evidently Kansas City does not love its zombie movies because it never came here.

Here's the website. If you get a chance, check it out. I guess I'll have to wait until DVD. Son of a...

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Gross Inacuraccies Displayed


When I watch a movie, I am willing to concede some things. Some facts. Historical accuracies. Laws of physics. Common knowledge. All that, all in the name of entertainment. For example, there's no way John McClaine grabs ahold of that vent opening to stop himself from plummeting to his death in the elevator shaft. Yet, I'm okay with that and still hold Die Hard up as one of the best action movies I've ever seen. And there's no way Farmer Ted ends up with Jake's girlfriend. No way she tells him that she enjoyed waking from her drunken slump in his arms. Yet, I still enjoy Sixteen Candles immensely and offer no apologies for liking it as much as I do. And last time I checked a Goose cannot cock-a-doodle-doo like a rooster as the movie Babe suggests, yet I still hold that movie in high esteem.

All that said, I can no longer turn a blind eye to something I witnessed recently. In receiving my Meatballs DVD, I quickly popped it in the machine and watched it from start to finish. Towards the end, Camp Northstar takes on Camp Mowhawk in the annual not-so-friendly Camp Olympics. The two camps prove their muster time and time again in the Potato and Sack Race as well as Basketball, Swimming and several other contests. I am willing to believe that Spaz can calm his jittery hands and shaky legs for a few moments in order to win the Stacking Contest. I am even willing to allow myself to believe that Rudy can overcome his social anxieties to win the final race and put Camp Northstar on top. But I cannot for one second forfeit everything and accept that Larry Finkelstein makes a formidable hot dog eating contestant. No sir. Not this guy.

We are an advanced society. Our cell phones are small. We have microwaves. I can play 'Guitar Hero' wirelessly. We have the Internet providing us constant news and information. We have thousands of TV channels to choose from. As a member of this advanced society, I cannot allow my advanced brain to come to grips with Larry The Fink as hot dog champ. Now that I know what I know about hot dog eating contests as taught to me by Kobayashi and Chestnut.

First, we must look at the man. That man being Fink. Clearly, he's not in speed-eating shape. Contrary to popular belief, the fat guys cannot eat the most. It's the little guys that do the best. Kobayashi is 160 lbs and Chestnut is 230. And are we to assume that Fink trained? Kobayashi trains by eating cabbage to stretch his stomach. Or was Fink just chosen because he likes to eat?

Second, Fink has no style. His 'face stuffing' technique has miles to go to reach the 'Pac-Man' like chomping of Kobayashi. I believe more hot dogs ended up in Fink's cheeks than in his stomach.

Third, was this event properly sanctioned? The Internationl Federation of Competitive Eating clearly states:

Safety is the first consideration in any sport, and the IFOCE insists that all sanctioned competitive eating matches take place in a controlled environment with the proper safety measures in place.

The IFOCE will not sanction or promote any events that do not adhere to the highest safety regulations. The IFOCE believes that speed eating is only suitable for those 18 years of age or older and only in a controlled environment with appropriate rules and with an emergency medical technician present.

The IFOCE is against at-home training of any kind. The IFOCE strongly discourages younger individuals from eating for speed or quantity under any circumstances. The IFOCE urges all interested parties to become involved in sanctioned events -- do not try speed eating home.

I would bet Fink is barely 18 and thus completely unsuitable for this type of competition. And the great outdoors are hardly a 'controlled environment' to host this type of event. I saw no doctor on the premise. Was anyone trained in the Heimlich Maneuver? And who's to stop a Grizzly from coming along and laying waste to all of them. And would it be worth it? What price gluttony Mr. Fink?

As an advanced society, these are the things we must consider when watching our movies. Even if those movies are titled Meatballs.

Bubblegum Tastes Sour


Am I not to have any fun this summer?

Honestly, the expectations bar is set pretty damn low now. I just want to be entertained. I just wanted to see something cool. Is that too much to ask?

I went to see the biggest piece of bubblegum the summer has to offer yesterday. I unwrapped it and popped that thing into my mouth waiting for the sweet sensation to overtake me and send me on my happy movie-going way. But the bubblegum was hard to chew. And my taste buds were taken aback to find out that this was not raspberry, my favorite flavor. It was sour apple. I don't care for sour apple. Not one bit.

Alright, enough with the cute analogies. Transformers was not good. I had been warned by several of you, but I walked into that dark theater anyways hoping for the best. And I got the worst. So shame on me. The Michael Bay dog has bitten me several times now and I keep going back to try to pet it. But now it makes sense to me. After all his movies, it finally makes sense to me. Michael Bay should not be directing features. I know that sounds a bit obvious to those of you who hate him most. But it's true.

I'm in advertising so I had heard of Michael Bay long before his ambiguously gay action partnership with Jerry Bruckheimer. Michael Bay was one hell of a commercial director. One of the best. His eye for entertainment in a 30 or 60 second time frame was unbelievable. He could cast just the right kind of character. The hero with the square jaw that looks good dirty and casts a nice silhouette against a bright red burning sun. The quirky guy with the buggy eyes, the silly hair or the crazy glasses that you would recall in the 15 seconds he was on your TV screen. And the girl. The beautiful girl with the perfect belly and the hint of peach fuzz around the belly button that with a little misting, and the light just right, you had one heck of a sexy shot. There is no depth to these characters in his commercials because you have no time to establish them. So you have to make them big, boisterous and completely on the surface. That, my friends is Transformers to a tee. All style and no substance. And although it was Michael Bay, I was hoping for a bit more.

Shia LaBeouf plays Sam Witwicky (everyone in the movie mispronounces his last name. Isn't that cute?) His performance is simply perfect if you have the attention span of about five seconds. Everything this kid does is quick, loud and anxious. Every line is delivered as if he's on the verge of screaming. I wanted to smack him. His dog is a cute little something or other that looks interesting enough to be in a movie. The dog has a broken front leg. We don't know why it's broken and the fact that it's broken has no bearing on any of the story. Again, it's just an interesting visual device to spice up an otherwise played story. In a 30 second commercial, a little dog with a cast on his front leg would be very funny. In a two hour and thirty minute action movie, it's stupid. Megan Fox plays Mikaela Banes. She was cast because her stomach was perfect. There's a scene where she helps Sam restart his car. She lifts the hood and we get a good gander at that stomach and suddenly I thought I was watching a Diet Pepsi commercial and instead of Megan Fox, I was looking at Cindy Crawford. The rest of the characters are about as deep and completely forgettable. I know this is a science fiction movie, but please make some attempt to create a somewhat real character. Why spend all that money to make the special effects look real if you're going to have the real people be so fake?

So what of the robots? Of course they look incredible. Was there ever any doubt? But they get lost in all the fast-paced hoopla and I often found myself wondering who were the Autobots and who were the Decepticons. I will say that despite my confusion, the fighting at the end was pretty incredible.

The rest of the movie is composed of slow motion shots and helicopters against red suns and soldiers walking down tarmacs getting ready for the fight. Everything that looks good in five second increments. Everything that would look great in a commercial, but looks disjointed and pasted together in a full-length feature. I often found myself asking why some of these scenes were even included of course knowing that they were included for no other reason other than they looked cool. But unfortunately, Transformers was not cool. And for $145 Million dollars, my robot better be frickin' cool.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Spectacle Of Fearsome Acts: Bill The Butcher

This entry is part of The Performance That Changed Your Life Blog-a-Thon over at All About My Movies.

I can't say that there is one single performance that has changed my life, but there are several that have left me awe-struck. And not necessarily whole performances. It can be one scene. If they nail that scene it makes the whole movie. One particular performance that left me inspired was Daniel Day Lewis as Bill 'The Butcher' Cutting in Gangs Of New York. This performance stood out to me for several reasons. Most importantly, it told me that Scorsese's career wasn't over. Not by a long shot. Scorsese hadn't directed a really good movie since Cape Fear and some might argue that Goodfellas was his last truly great film. I'm not saying that as a whole Gangs Of New York was a great film, because it wasn't. It is a deeply flawed film, but it is not without its moments. Moments where we are witnessing the Scorsese of old. Moments where you think his best movie is still out there. And in seeing how wonderful this scene is, it made me wish the rest of this movie were as perfect. I felt this same way with The Aviator. The scene with Kate Blanchet on the golf course is magnificent. So perfect in everything. It tells me that Scorsese's best work is on a more personal level. As big as Goodfellas was, it was still a very personal story. While it documented mafia life, it was not epic by any means. And by keeping it personal, Scorsese kept himself at his best.

In this scene, Amsterdam (DiCaprio) is sleeping with Jenny (Diaz). He wakes up to find Bill sitting in a chair beside the bed, wrapped in an American flag. The room is quiet, the tone is serene yet this is one of the most uncomfortable scenes I have ever witnessed. Up to this point, Day Lewis has established himself as the most ruthless man in the Five Points. It is a testament to his performance that even in rest, his character is menacing. Day Lewis knows this and he plays to it. We do not know why he is there. Is he angry with Amsterdam for sleeping with Jenny? Is he on to Amsterdam, knowing that he is the son of 'Priest' Valon? It may be both of these things, but Bill never leads on. Instead, he talks to Amsterdam about the power of fear. It is a threat, disguised as a life lesson.

As Bill sits, wrapped in the flag that justifies all his hate and violence, he tells the story of Valon, the last man he killed worth remembering. He is not boisterous or proud. Instead, he is sad. Amidst all the hatred and fear that Bill displays, we see a hopelessness about him. You can see the toll that his crusade has taken on him and you can see in his eyes that despite all the fear he has created, the battle still rages. He cannot make it go away.

It would be very easy for Day Lewis to play his character big. But it is in his subtleties where he excels. The intensity in which Day Lewis delivers every line suggests that at any moment the chair could turn, a knife could be drawn and all hell could break loose. And despite all his fear mongering, Day Lewis brings reason to Bill and gives him a heart and soul. And for the lingering moments of this performance, Day Lewis makes this monster of a man not seem like a monster at all.

Friday, July 6, 2007

8 Things Movies


I am the slow fat kid, constantly out of breath and being tagged all the time.

I have been tagged by Jeff at Culture Snob with the 8 Things Meme.

Here are the rules:

  1. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  2. People who are tagged write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
  3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
I have done the 8 Things Meme before, but this time it's going to be all about movies.

1. I might single-handedly be responsible for Sean Penn shooting Indian Runner in Plattsmouth, Nebraska. I was working at the Nebraska Film Commission in charge of sending out photos of locations in Nebraska when production companies had requests. Sean Penn had requested a 70's looking small town and I sent pictures of P-Town. Next thing I know, Sean Penn is sitting in the office of the Nebraska Film Commission.

2. While on production in L.A., I had dinner with the Executive Director of the Film Division of the production company Anonymous Content. We were shooting commercials with Anonymous at the time, and he was eating dinner with us for some reason or another. He had to continually excuse himself to take calls from Gore Verbinsky who was editing Pirates Of the Caribbean and saying it was going to be terrible.

3. I once worked at a video store named Entertainment Video. We were asked to wear bow ties and I refused.

4. My favorite movie candy is Sweet Tarts, which no one carries anymore. I have not found an equal.

5. In film school, I shot a three minute film on Super 8. The day before I was to turn it in, my dog chewed up all the film. I could honestly say that the dog ate my homework. My professor didn't think it was funny and gave me an 'F'.

6. In college I wrote a letter to John Carpenter asking why he favored the "trapped theme" in so many of his movies like Assault On Precinct 13, The Thing, Escape From New York and Prince Of Darkness. I am still waiting for a response.

7. I cried so hard during Million Dollar Baby that I told my wife I thought I was having my period.

8. My ultimate dream is to one day buy an old theater, serve Sweet Tarts and show my favorite movies.

The 8 Things Meme ends here. Tonight! I will not tag anyone else.

Post Holiday Blog-A-Thon

The 4th is over, time to get back to work.

Tomorrow is the Performance That Changed Your Life Blog-a-Thon over at All About My Movies. Good topic. A sea of ideas from which to choose. Get crackin.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

My Angry 10

Damian has posted a list of his bottom 100, and it's a good list as far as lists for the worst movies ever go. So I tried to follow suit with a bottom 100 of my own. Man, it's hard. I only got about 30 bad movies. Why so hard? There are plenty of crappy movies out there. But I couldn't find 100 movies that were completely awful. So devoid of anything that I would list them as the bottom 100. Even in the worst movies, I find something that I liked, a performance, a scene, a line... something. The truth is, it's a lot harder coming up with a bad 100, than a good 100. But it's not hard for me to come up with my Angry 10. Movies that when I see them they make me furious for reasons I will go in to below. So here they are, ten movies that make my blood boil.

Titanic My hatred of this movie began soon after I saw it. My first reaction to it was that it was a special effects masterpiece but James Cameron has no business trying to retell history. And at the heart of this history is a story told so many times, it's ridiculous. A rich girl falls for a poor boy. She shows him culture and he shows her how to let loose. And how many times did I hear people defend this movie saying "yeah, that story is pretty cliched" or "yeah, Cameron isn't very good with dialogue." Then why on God's green earth did it win almost every Oscar possible? Last time I checked, the best picture award was awarded to a movie that was near flawless in every category. And the best director award was given to a director who could pull performances from actors never seen before. I didn't see any of that in Titanic. If there was a technical director award to be given for the Oscars, no doubt James Cameron has won it several times over. But as a true director of drama? Not a chance. And the arrogance that James Cameron displayed after this movie came out soured me on his whole career.

Good Morning, Vietnam: Under proper direction, Robin Williams can deliver a pretty good performance. As proof, I offer The Fisher King, The World According To Garp, Insomnia and Good Will Hunting. But when a good director lets Robin "do his thing" the result is this movie. How can we for one moment get caught up in the drama of the Vietnam war or the heroic role that Adrian Cronauer served during his time there when Robin Williams continues to annoy with his constant bickering. Okay, I get it. You do impersonations. I get it. You're goofy. I get it! Unfortunately, Barry Levinson didn't learn his lesson, for he let Williams off his leash again with the movie Toys. Another good story destroyed by Mork.

Cars Pixar is running on fumes and there is no better evidence of this than Cars. The laughs are few and far between and the story is lifted directly from Doc Hollywood. There needs to be something more to their movies than cute and cuddly chotchkies. And Pixar better turn it around soon because the 'wow' factor of 3-D animation is fading and the simple story lines aren't cute anymore

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Why aren't more people crying fowl over the career of Tim Burton? This is the guy who began with bright, beautiful and creative stories like Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Beatlejuice and Ed Wood and is finishing his career as the remake... er.... sorry... re-imagining King. Tim Burton came out on Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, saying that he didn't like it because it wasn't true to the book. Never mind that the original script was written by Roald Dahl and Gene Wilder gave his best performance to date. Gene Wilder came out on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and said that the only reason Burton was remaking this movie was for money. Burton answered with a resounding 'yes' saying that that's why he's in business. I think somewhere in there Burton thought he was making a good point. This movie offers nothing more to the original than cartoony performances led by Mr. Cartoon himself Johnny Depp. Here's an idea, let's take a dark, complex character and turn him into a Michael Jackson wannabe. Lest we forget, there's also the soundtrack from Elfman which pales in comparison to the original and sets so busy they take away from any drama that the original captured so well.

Every Kevin Smith movie since Dogma Remember when Kevin Smith was a judge at Sundance? Remember? Remember when Kevin Smith was making thoughtful movies with a sense of humor like Chasing Amy and Dogma? Remember? Now Kevin Smith has created a nice little place for himself in the film hall of fame as the guy who created "the thinking-mans Porkys" over and over again. Don't know what I'm talking about? Watch Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Clerks II, or better yet wait for his upcoming Zack and Miri make a Porno.

Pearl Harbor Like Titanic, I can't stand it when history is being told on the big screen by lesser directors. I mean, Michael Bay was fresh off of Armageddon, why shouldn't he direct one of the most historical events in American history? Sheeesh. Not only did Michael Bay give false characters even falser courage, he tried to give the Japanese a heart. Maybe they had one, but who the hell is Michael Bay to tell me so? And for the record, Franklin D. Roosevelt would have never used his handicap to make a point. The cherry on top was that Bay and Bruckheimer tried to market this as the action movie of the year. Have our war heroes ever been treated with such disrespect? Stay with bad action flicks Bay, and keep the hell away from my history.



A History Of Violence
I have been a longtime fan of David Cronenberg and have admired his career up until this movie. This is Cronenberg trying to be David Lynch and the result is disastrous. The middle-America acting is fake, the sex scenes are laughable, the violence too violent and William Hurt hits eleven on the overacting meter only to slightly edge out Maria Bello. But that's all fine with me. So Cronenberg delivers a bad movie, so what. Only everyone has praised him for it. This is the movie that puts Cronenberg on the map. Not The Dead Zone, not Videodrome, not The Fly not eXistenZ. It's a movie where Cronenberg is not Cronenberg. And nothing makes me more angry.

Crash Can there be any better example of how out of touch L.A. is with reality than this movie? Wow, race relations are bad in Los Angeles? Really? Paul Haggis said that this story came from a dream he had. Well he must have been sleeping while Grand Canyon was playing on the TV, because Lawrence Kasdan told this story over 15 years ago. And he did it with a much lighter hand. And the fact that this movie went from relative obscurity (a very early DVD release) to win the highest Oscar shows that any movie is a contender if you put enough money behind the marketing of it.




Something's Gotta Give
Congratulations Nancy Meyers. You made both Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson deliver dogshit performances. Two of our finest actors now have a permanent blemish on their careers thanks to you. Unless of course, you want to burn this film. And if that's the case, let me find the lighter fluid.

Elephant Gus Van Sant at his laziest. Elephant is nothing more than a 30 minute idea stretched into feature length. Loosely based on the Columbine shootings, this movie focuses on an average day in a high school, only it ends in mayhem. The long scenes are used to capture the monotony of every day school life in contrast to the horror that is looming, but to me it's just a device Gus Van Sant uses to stretch out a mediocre idea instead of filling it with real depth. Van Sant also casts non-actors to further capture the reality of what we are witnessing. It's a good idea, only he puts them in horribly cliched scenes. Teenage girls finish their lunch and then make themselves lose it in the bathroom like clockwork. And we never understand why the two boys are driven to the violent conclusion. Because they're gay? Geez. Next you're going to tell me they weren't breast fed by their Moms. We should demand a little more from the director who gave us Drugstore Cowboy.