Sunday, May 31, 2009

Silly Rabbit, Pixar Is For Kids

About 15 minutes into Up I found myself in a certain situation. I was desperately fighting back tears. Desperately. I've found myself in this situation a lot with the more recent Pixar films.

Let me just say how amazing this is. Especially with Up. That the characters can look so cartoon-y (square fingers, anyone?) and yet still be able to tear your heart out. Kudos to Pixar and director Pete Doctor for excellent storytelling. Let me preface all this by pointing out that I'm still writing about the first 15 minutes. Specifically the love story montage. It was magical. Some of the best storytelling I've ever seen. And when I watched it, I forgot for a moment that I was in the middle of a theater filled with screaming kids watching a cartoon with stupid 3-D glass on. But then Up slides into familiar territory. It's like someone burst into the room and yelled "hey, wait a minute! This is a cartoon."

Don't get me wrong. Up was a good film. But it was like watching a really smart kid phone it in.

Pixar is no doubt at the top of the game, but I'm not sure it's at the top of its game. I appreciate that Pixar continues to redefine animation, but I feel I'm being served little morsels instead of really big chunks. I think it's time for them to do something truly revolutionary.

If you've seen the movie already, you know that Toy Story 3 is up next for them. And completely contrary to this entire post, I'm very excited for that. But after that, I'll be looking for something more. They've whet my whistle with Up. And now I'm ready for them to serve up something truly spectacular.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!"

Friday, May 22, 2009

Don't Terminate Until You See The Whites Of Their Teeth

It's 2013. Civilization as we know it is over. Robots have become aware and taken control. There is no political system. The few people that are still living are living underground. There really is no food to speak of. No running water. Barely any cars. But look on the bright side, there seems to be an overabundance of tooth paste. And not just any toothpaste. The whitening kind.

Sure, I'll believe that robots take over the world. That they are so smart, not only are they self-sustaining, but they are actually able to evolve. I'll buy that shit. I'll buy that they discover a way to make human tissue live on metal. No problem. I got all that. But hold the phone. Wait, what are those? What the hell are those things? White teeth? Okay, you just lost me. No credibility any more. Pack it up. You want me to swallow this, you gotta make those choppers nasty and chipped and barely hanging in there. Why would you drop millions upon millions of dollars to create robots that roam an apocalyptic world, but not drop a couple of dollars on some coal or something to dirty up everyone's teeth?

After watching Terminator Salvation, one can only deduce that in the future you have two priorities. Killing robots. And keeping them pearlies so white your friend or loved one can see themselves in them. To brush their teeth, of course.

Excuse Me Sir

I have a problem. You see, I've got this pipe that needs lighting. And I've got a match that needs striking so that I may light my pipe. And well I hope you don't find me rude, but I've noticed that you have a hump on your back. You wouldn't mind if I use that hump to strike my match so that I may light my pipe, would you?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Top 5 Tuesdays (T5T) Is Beholden To the 'Stache

It's Mustache May at my workplace, so I've decided to sport one in honor of it.

In my 38 years on this planet, I've never grown a mustache. I've had countless beards, a few burly sideburns and some chin-growth, but never a mustache. Why? Because it takes guts to grow a mustache. Because a mustache can't be dismissed. Because a mustache says something. What it says is up for debate. But as these little whiskers have come to be on my upper lip I've noticed a lot of change. And it's all due to the 'stache.

For example:

My mustache makes me coffee every morning while I am sleeping.

My mustache filters the air to my nose and makes it lemony fresh.

My mustache is self-cleaning.

I've put my mustache in charge of my finances and now I'm debt free!

My mustache holds back a little bit of every meal and is making a special dish to be revealed later.

My mustache just got on Twitter and already has thousands of followers.

My mustache has started its own religion and Tom Cruise has already quit Scientology to join it.

Little children scurry to open my car door. Not for me, but for my mustache.

I can now communicate perfectly with walruses.

In France, my mustache goes by the name of ALDRIC and is well-known in all the fancy little coffee-houses.

And finally, my mustache wrote this post while eating a footlong meat-lovers sandwich with extra peppers and didn't spill a thing on the keyboard.

So in honor of my mustache and all the mustaches out there, give me your Top 5 movie mustaches. Here are mine in no particular order.

1. "The Saddle" on Burt Reynolds as the Bandit in Smokey and the Bandit

2. "The Worm" on Willem Dafoe as Bobby Peru in Wild At Heart

3. "The Shit-Stain" on Kevin Heffernan as Farva in Super Troopers

4. "The Grand Performer" on Daniel Day Lewis as Bill "The Butcher" Cutting in Gangs of New York

5. "Ye Olde Sage" on Wilford Brimley starring as someone in any movie he's ever been in

Monday, May 18, 2009

TOERIFC Monday - Dancer In The Dark

Please join in the conversation over at Doodad Kind of Town. See you there.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Counting Down The Zeros - An Anti Hero For The Year 2001

When I originally saw The Royal Tenenbaums in the theater, I wouldn't say I was impressed by it. That's to say it didn't play to my expectations. I loved Rushmore for its eccentricities and for the strange camaraderie between Blume and Fischer. But truth to tell, Rushmore is easy to like. Its quirk plays to a larger audience. So I suppose I was expecting more of the same with The Royal Tenenbaums. At the time, I should have praised Wes Anderson for not digging into the same bag, but instead I criticized him for it.

Upon further viewings, I have come to love this film. I have said it before, and I will say it again - The Royal Tenenbaums is as close to a piece of art on film as I have ever seen. Every scene is perfectly framed. Every movement, perfectly choreographed. Every line, perfectly delivered. There are so many things to write about this film. I could do a weeks worth of material, but I'll spare you all from that. Ric at Film For The Soul has told me that for Counting Down The Zeros, I have carte blanche which may or may not be a good thing. So instead of writing a traditional review, I'm instead going to write about my favorite character of the film, Royal Tenenbuam.

Royal Tenenbaum is a piece of work. At one moment repulsive, the next touchingly sweet. Royal calls them as he sees them, and does so with the tact of a five year old. One can stand around and debate whether Royal is an asshole or simply just a son-of-a-bitch for hours. The evidence is certainly there. But then you'd miss the fact that he is the glue of the Tenenbaums. As dysfunctional as all of them are, they are less so when Royal is around.

After being separated from his wife and family for several years, Royal attempts to get back into the family fold by faking stomach cancer. It's a shrewd ploy, but it plays off the universal truth that crisis brings us together. Crisis makes us forgive and forget. But there's a lot of forgiving and forgetting to be done and Royal hasn't given himself much time.

One can always question Royals intentions. Does he still love Etheline? Does he even love his children? The story plays as if Royal is attempting to redeem himself. To ask forgiveness. His disease is fake, but Royal truly acts as if he has one last shot to make things right. Only times are different. The children are grown up and they are facing real-life problems. Richie's suicide. Chas' inability to deal with the death of his wife. Margot's attachment issues. Even Eli's drug addiction. But like all anti-heroes, Royal falls into each situation and rises to the occasion.

What makes Royal so amicable is that he's played by Gene Hackman. It's hard to imagine anyone else playing this character, which goes to show how perfect Hackman made it. Played by a lesser, this could have been a disaster. All asshole and no heart. There is a struggle within Royal of wanting to do bad, but trying to do good and Hackman always keeps a good balance without tipping one way or the other. Hackman does just enough to show that Royal is redeemable without going overboard. There's an exchange between Royal and Richie towards the end of the movie. When Royal tells him that this near death experience has given him a new lease on life, Richie reminds him that he's not dying. Royal's response to this is "but I'm going to live." It's a great line not only for its humor, but for the volumes it says about the character. And Hackman delivers it with a kind of glee that makes you love the character, even when he's bullshitting you. And there's another line around the same time. Royal says "the past six days have been the best six days of probably my whole life." The narrator then follows with "immediately after making this statement, Royal realized that it was true." Even without the narration, you believe Royal because Hackman's performance makes it true.

As much of a character as Royal might be, he's still a real person, facing real problems. Take away all his quirks, and he's just a guy looking for redemption. It's a universal message and what I think is interesting is the way Wes Anderson has spun it. There are those who believe that some things can never be mended. That if you let the problems go too long, the pain becomes too deep. Yet, the story of Royal and the Tenenbaums tells us that it's never too late. That love comes in many forms and that love is unconditional. And because of that even the worst characters are redeemable. Even Royal.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Now That's How You Start A Movie

While I toil away writing my Royal Tenenbaums post(s) for Counting Down The Zeros (can you sense me toiling?) please enjoy this music video from Depeche Mode. And whilst you find yourself enjoying it, imagine how much cooler it would be if it was the beginning of a movie.

Thanks to Pitchfork for the video.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

With All Due Respect To Jackie Earle Haley

When I originally saw The Bad News Bears, Kelly Leak was the coolest thing ever. He had the glasses, the girls and the bike. His "fuck-you" attitude was the perfect compliment to the stick that was up Coach Roy Turner's ass. On top of that, the kid could swing a mean bat.

But that was then. Now I'm a parent. And a coach. And if a little bastard like that took to the field with his motorcycle, dozens of parents would have to hold me back from putting my size 12 up his ass. My, how times have changed.

Monday, May 11, 2009

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

Friday, May 8, 2009

Get Your Vulcan Kink On

I've been doing a lot of confessing lately. Well, here's another one. I've never seen a complete episode of Star Trek. Yep, it's true. I've seen most of the movies, but not one single TV episode. I'm living proof that you can live without having seen a single Star Trek episode. And it's not by weird happenstance. Nope. I avoided that show. If it was on, I changed the channel. Instead I think I watched Lavern & Shirley reruns and had one hell of a time doing it.

And because I missed all the episodes, I must have missed the part (or parts) dedicated to Spock and Uhura getting illogical between the sheets. Is this old news or is this from the mind of J.J. Abrams?

One can only imagine how this came to be. I mean, surely Uhura made the first move. Or maybe not. Maybe Spock laid down a couple of these lines along with some sweet Romulan Ale.

"Once you get to know me, you're going to want to Klingon to me for the rest of your life."

"There is an old Vulcan proverb that states: I wanna bag you like some groceries."

"Did a photon torpedo hit the bridge or did you just rock my world?"

"Are you Cytherian? Because you just abducted my heart."

"I think it's only logical that I slip my wiener into you."

"Baby, I'm going to take you to a place you can't beam back from."

"I may be Vulcan, but I'm hung like a Gallamite."

"Let me check your settings because somebody set your body to stun."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Movie Confessions

I like the pointy ears of a hobbit, but the pointy ears of Spock bug me.

I often criticize others for liking a certain movie even if I have never seen it.

I love strong female characters almost as much as I love Kate Beckinsale in a tight and shiny werewolf killing suit.

I hate Michael Bay with the passion of 10 angry gods, but if The Rock were on TV I would probably watch it.

I often criticize remakes, yet some of my favorite movies are The Thing (1982), Ocean's 11 (2001), The Fly (1986) and Cape Fear (1991).

I prefer Blow Out to Blow Up knowing full well that there wouldn't be the former without the latter.

I usually watch foreign films dubbed in English.

Chances are very good that I will choose a movie I've seen 10 times over a movie I've never seen.

I might argue that Young Frankenstein is the best comedy ever made, never having completely seen a Charlie Chaplin, W.C. Fields or Harold Lloyd film.

I own both of the Matrix sequels on DVD.

And finally, my movie food of choice is Sweettarts and a large Diet Coke.

This feels like a Meme, but it's not. But if you want to treat it as such, consider yourself tagged.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Top 5 Tuesdays (T5T) Loves A Rainy Day

I don't know where you live, but where I live there's been a lot of rain. A lot. I mean - water in the basement where you've never seen water come in before - kind of rain. And I've tried everything. Weird dancing to appease the Gods. I've offered up my oldest child as a sacrifice. I've yelled at the sky. I've attempted to erect a small invisible dome over my house that holds out the rain but that birds can safely pass through. Nothing is working. It's still raining. A lot. But ultimately, what can I do? It's out of my hands. And you know what they say, if you can't beat them... make some hay. No wait. That's not it. If the glass is half full... shame on me. Shit, what was it again? Fool me once... and then something about an early bird. Damn. Oh well, you know what I'm saying. Hopefully.

So this Tuesday, give me your Top 5 Rainy Day movies. Movies that if it's cold and wet on the outside make you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.

Here are mine in no particular order. Note: I won't attempt to justify any of these selections because honestly, I don't know why I like them on rainy days. I just do.

1. Goonies

2. All The President's Men

3. Jaws

4. Paint Your Wagon

5. North By Northwest

Monday, May 4, 2009

"He would scream out, "Surrender Dorothy!" That's all! Just "Surrender Dorothy!"