Monday, March 30, 2009

Dreamworks Animation Is The New Hanna-Barbera

While it's true that Hanna-Barbera gave us childhood favorites like Scooby Doo, The Flintstones and Hong Kong Phooey, one wouldn't say they necessarily advanced the art of animation as a whole. Sure, we have fond memories of the repeating background that Fred ran past over and over and over again, but we were just kids. Looking back, it's sloppy. Worse yet, it's lazy. I want my cartoon backgrounds deep and rich with detail. And I want my characters fully functional. Not just an arm or a leg. I want the whole body moving. What am I, chopped liver?

At it's height of popularity, Hanna-Barbera was at it's worst. Demand became too high, budgets too low and the work suffered. Corners were cut. And those corners were then cut. As a result we got The Pebbles and Bam Bam Show, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels and Smurfs. It was slop, even by kid's standards. They capitalized on a sure-thing and tried to repackage it thinking no one would notice.

The same thing is happening with Dreamworks Animation. The days of awe associated with computer animation are done. We need more. Fortunately, Pixar understands this. Films like Ratatouille and Wall-E continue to break-down and build back up what we have come to expect with animation. Films like Shark Tale, Madagascar, Over The Hedge, the continued Shrek franchise and most recently Monsters vs. Aliens have not. They appear original, but they're just retreads voiced by Chris Rock, Reece Witherspoon and Will Smith and backed by a marketing budget that could fund dozens of independent films.

Maybe I was hoping for something more with their latest. Seriously, how can you not have fun with a movie titled Monsters vs. Aliens? Maybe someone in a dark corner of a far off theater did. Of course my children liked it. I just wanted to shake them (quick someone call family services) and tell them they deserved better. That their three dimensional characters should have a little more dimension. That their family fun should be a little more funny. But it didn't seem to matter. The 3D glasses were on, the popcorn was plentiful and the explosions were loud. It was like a Michael Bay film, only animated. And shit, that might just be worse than a Hanna-Barbera label.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The New Stooges Movie Is Already Hilarious

MGM has announced its intentions to make a Three Stooges movie. And what's amazing is it's funny already. It's funny and they haven't even rolled an inch of film. Not one frame and it's hilarious.

Let me lay it out for you before milk shoots from my nose.

Benecio Del Toro is going to play Moe. That's right, Moe.

Sean Penn is going to play Larry. Uh-huh. You got that right.

And Jim Carrey is going to play Curly. He's going to put on an additional 40 lbs, because that's all that really separates him from Curly.

The Farrelly Brothers are to direct. And according to them, they've long had their eye on Del Toro to play Moe. Seriously folks, I can't make these things up.

I'm all for casting against type, but this seems a bit extreme to me. Then again, I'm not sure who I would cast in this because, I'm not sure why it needs to be made. The Three Stooges is pretty timeless comedy to me. But who am I to say? They've remade worse things. And by worse, I mean better.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Say You? To Fang Or Not To Fang

So this past weekend, I injected myself with a somewhat large dose of vampires. I watched Twilight and Let The Right One In. Overall, it was a nice dosage. Not too overpowering. I was surprised with Twilight and pleased with Let The Right One In. But call me old fashioned, I was missing the fangs. What's a vampire movie without the fangs? Yeah, they've been done to death, and maybe if you've seen one fang you've seen them all, but give me a little somethin', somethin'. Flash me a pointy tooth, you know for the effort.

But maybe I'm too old fashioned. Maybe fangs are played. They're there, we know they're there, so why do we have to see them? Maybe vampire movies have evolved to such a place that we don't need to see them anymore. Or maybe these vampire movies are missing on what makes a vampire movie a vampire movie.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Top 5 Tuesdays (T5T) Off The Top Of Your Head

This Tuesday we're wide open. Give me your Top 5 movies. Doesn't have to be your most favorite movies. Just the ones you're thinking about right now. This very instant. This second. Let me have it.

Here are mine in no particular order

1. Brick I just saw a poster for The Brother's Bloom and I wondered if it will be as good as Brick because that was a fine movie.

2. High Fidelity Always a favorite, any time of the week.

3. Rachel Getting Married Still my favorite movie of last year.

4. Get Shorty The kind of fun-loving, double-crossing movie I was hoping Duplicity might have been.

5. Fright Night My recent rash of vampire movies has me longing for it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Some Sympathy For The White Devil

(A note to those of you who have yet to see this, this post is riddled with spoilers.)

So I finally got around to seeing Gran Torino. First, let me say that this film is first-class schmaltz. Underwritten at times, overwritten at others and heavy-handed in all the other places. I find myself gunning for Eastwood's respect as a director. His motive as of late seems to be to sneak in a movie under the radar just in time for the Oscars. And yet I don't feel he is held up as a great director. I wouldn't expect to see his name among Martin Scorsese, Francis Coppola or Steven Spielbergs'. Maybe that's just me. And maybe that's where Gran Torino failed - because the expectations were so high. And perhaps that's where the audience failed as well. Lest we forget, Clint Eastwood also directed Blood Work, Space Cowboys and The Rookie among others. That's not to say that he's necessarily a bad director, it's just to say that the guy isn't always gunning for gold every time. Or at least not gold in the form of a naked man named Oscar.

About half way through Gran Torino, I eased up a bit. I stopped trying to figure out why he made this film and just started to enjoy it. And I found it was enjoyable. It has been said that this will be Eastwood's final role. And if Eastwood wants to end his career with this film, then it seems fitting. Because it's impossible not to watch this film without referencing all his others. He has made a career out of his snarl. Out of his one-liners. And this movie is full of that. And the burden that his character Walter carries with him is not unlike the burden that Eastwood carries from all his roles. He has made a career out of being angry. Of being the man who does it his way. As Dirty Harry. Or the Man With No Name. He does it without guilt or shame. And now, as is true with all people, the man carries it with him. There's even a nod to Paint Your Wagon with Eastwood singing the final song.

There is a scene in particular that I would like to bring up. It's about three-fourths of the way through when Walter has just beat up one of the Hmong gang members. In retaliation, the gang shoots up the Hmong family house next door to Walter. In addition, they have raped the daughter, Sue. As she enters the house, bruised and bloodied, Walter is filled with rage. He stomps off, unable to provide comfort that doesn't come in the form of anger. It's natural to think that Walter's emotion is that of revenge. The film up until that point had explored Walter's newfound feelings towards the Lor family, especially towards the son Thao. But I think Walter's anger is directed at himself. If you're a parent, you know the love associated with that. A love greater than the love you share with your spouse. It's a scary love, because your children are your weakness. If you give yourself to them, there's a lot at risk. And risk like that is terrifying. This is what Walter feels at this moment. A love that he probably has never felt before. Not for his wife and certainly not for his children or their children. And he's angry because of that. I found this scene very touching because I have never experienced a scene that captured these feelings so well. And while Walter always seemed to have broken sentences to explain himself throughout the film, I was pleased to see that he was speechless for these few moments. And it was during these moments that I was reminded of how good a director Clint Eastwood can be.

At the end of the film, Walter has one final confrontation with the Hmong gang. He speaks to them with a snarl, but his mission is that of compassion. And it's fitting that he goes out in a blaze of glory - attempting to light a cigarette no less. It's as if to say to everyone in Hollywood, I've retired this jersey. Place it on a wall somewhere and no one better even fucking try to wear it ever again.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Diabolical Plan

If I were a bad guy in a movie. I'm not, by the way. But if I were. A really, really bad, bad guy that was either really skinny and bald and walked around in a long white lab coat, or maybe a really well-dressed bad guy with a three-piece suit and a pipe and a full head of hair, I'm still bouncing that all around. So anyway, I'm a bad guy. And I'm rubbing my hands together and scheming. Scheming. Scheming for hours on how to destroy this or that. And I've got a secret lab built on an island no one knows about and an assistant that's either a nasty guy with some sort of deformity or a real hot woman that's only attracted to me because of the incredible power that I wield, I'm still bouncing that all around. So anyway, like any kind of self-respecting bad guy I need to have a secret weapon. One that no one has thought of. One that brings stoic men to tears. I mean, I'm a bad guy so I need that, right? But here's where I zag a bit in the bad guy handbook. My weapon is not a ginormous warhead. It's not a destructo-beam. It's Jon Stewart. Yes. He shows up and I rub my hands together and let out a creepy cackle and I say "Behold! My secret weapon." And then there's laughing. And some pointing. And maybe a "Jon Stewart, the comedian? You've got to be kidding, right?" Only I'm not kidding. It's Jon Stewart. The guy who everyone is always underestimating. And calling out as "the comedian." That is until they sit across from him and he breaks them down piece by piece until nothing is left. Not even a shell of their former selves.

That would be my secret weapon. And I would be the most feared bad guy around.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Impossible Truth Behind Snake Plissken's Eye Patch

A while back I watched the film Doomsday and I have to admit I liked it. Sure it was a piece of shit, but it was a piece of shit that payed a lot of homage to one of my favorites, Escape From New York, even down to the eye-patch the oh-so hot Rhona Mitra sported.

Speaking of eye-patches, let's talk about them a bit, shall we? What I thought was interesting is that in the film, they explained how Rhona's character got that eye-patch. And they actually reveal what's behind the eye-patch. And that got me thinking about Snake. I often think about Snake. Like when I'm at a vending machine and I push B4 for a nice bag of pretzels and that little curly piece of metal spins, but not enough to let the nice bag of pretzels drop so that I can partake in their salty goodness. That's when I think of Snake. And I ask myself "what would Snake do?" He would probably light a smoke and then put his size 16 boot (he's always a giant when I think of him) through the glass and take everything. That's what he would do. But I digress.

So I was thinking about Snake. And I thought, I've seen Escape From New York a hundred times and I have no idea why Snake wears that eye-patch. He just does. But then I thought, it would be kind of cool to think up why Snake got that eye-patch. Did someone put a bullet in his eye? A shiv? And what is exactly behind that eye-patch? Maybe nothing is wrong at all. Maybe it's all for effect. Maybe that snake tattoo is a temporary one. Nah, man. That shit is for real. That's Snake. He probably put that tattoo on himself in a mirror. Okay, I'm digressing again.

So allow me to start a somewhat interesting Meme here. Or at least interesting to me. Here's the assignment:

1. Explain to the world The Impossible Truth Behind Snake Plissken's Eye-Patch. Could be a one word sentence (pussy) or could be a seven page novella (boring). Whatever you choose, but tell us all why Snake got the eye-patch.

2. Tag five bloggers asking them to create their own stories about the eye-patch.

3. Of course link back to Lazy Eye Theatre so that people know where this originated. And to those of you who got tagged by someone other than me, post your link in the comments section, I would love to read what you came up with.

Okay, now with the tagging. If I have missed on someone who desperately wants to do this, please go and do so. The more the snake-ier.

Dirty Robot at Flimopia

Alan at Burbanked

Samuraifrog at Electronic Cerebrectomy

Becca at No Smoking in the Skull Cave

Reel Whore at Reel Whore

elgringo at He Shot Cyrus

Stacia at She Blogged By Night

Marilyn at Ferdy On Films

Jeremy Richey at Moon in the Gutter

Paul Rodgers at Careful With That Blog, Eugene

JA at My New Plaid Pants


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Top 5 Tuesdays (T5T) Loves The Living Dead

Resident Evil 5 comes out in just a few days. I look forward to it with complete and utter terror. I can't wait to play it, and yet I know it will scare the piss out of me. Yaaaay! It's fun to be me.

In honor of its upcoming release, give me your Top 5 zombie movies. Here are mine in no particular order.

1. Dawn of the Dead (1978) "Every dead body that is not exterminated becomes one of them. It gets up and kills! The people it kills get up and kill! "

2. Night of the Creeps "What I'm going to need is your standard flame thrower. "

3. Shaun of the Dead "Just look at the face: it's vacant, with a hint of sadness. Like a drunk who's lost a bet."

4. Evil Dead II "Then let's head on down into that cellar and carve ourselves a witch."

5. Return of the Living Dead "See? You made me hurt myself again! I broke my hand off completely at the wrist this time, Tina! But that's okay, Darlin', because I love you, and that's why you have to let me EAT YOUR BRAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIINS!"

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A World Worth Saving?

At the beginning of The Incredibles, Mr. Incredible complains to an off-camera interviewer that the job of a super is never-ending. He says "no matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved! You know, for a little bit? I feel like the maid; I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for... for ten minutes!"

In a nutshell, this is the conflict at the heart of Watchmen. No matter how much saving gets done, things just get worse. The problems get bigger. They get more complex. Not only that, the heroes of Watchmen have to deal with a society that really doesn't want them anymore. In the eyes of the public, they have lost their luster and so there is bitterness. With the people. And with the heroes. Why save the idiots if they don't appreciate it? And why save them if they just go and do something stupid again?

Gone are the days of Superman. Of the heroes with unconditional love for all things. When you think about it, we've been creeping towards this. Towards this kind of film. We want to see our heroes a little more human. We want to see the scars. To see the bruises. We want to see the cracks in the characters. It's why Batman keeps coming back to us in so many different forms. Rooting for Superman is like rooting for the Yankees. It's not hard and it's not very interesting.

I left the theater Friday night, not feeling like one who had just walked out of a movie based on a comic book about super heroes. I was not charged. Not invigorated. I think the word to describe my feelings would be that of helplessness. If ever there were a time to release this film, it would be now. And yet, it may be the absolute worst time for this movie to be released. Because right now, we sure have made a mess of things. And right now if Superman existed, we would be down on our knees begging to be saved. Without question. Without judgment. So that we could get on with our lives with the risk of making the same mistakes we did before. Unfortunately, things aren't that easy. And Alan Moore knows this.

Moore's vision of this world is not a good one. What does it say about his story that the most conscientious character, Rorschach, is seen as a sociopath? Or that Dr. Manhattan who could save the entire world with a snap of his fingers would rather move to Mars and start a new species? And it doesn't say a lot that his vision has more or less come true 20 years later. I would take pleasure in saying that Moore was nothing but a cynic. To say that this movie was outrageous fantasy much like 1984. But here we are. Not at the brink of nuclear disaster. But in a current economic state of woe brought on by ourselves. And it begs the question: do we deserve to be saved? And if we are saved, will we just go and make things even worse?

It's a great question. A logical one. And yet Watchmen is the first super hero movie to ask it and dare to answer it. And damn if director Zach Snyder doesn't do a good job pulling it all off, mostly because he never steps too far from his material. In 300, I would say that Synder was guilty of taking himself too seriously. But here, his ego serves the picture well. At no time did I ever stop and think how ridiculous all the characters were. If I have a criticism however, it would be that Synder doesn't completely abandon the super hero movie formula. The story of Watchmen is about exploring the humanity of these heroes. But when these heroes fight, it's as if they suddenly have superhuman strength. Bones are snapped like twigs and bodies are thrown through the air like pieces of crumpled paper. And I don't know about you, but I think I'm done with ramping as an interesting visual device.

In Batman Begins, we never get to see what would have happened had Batman not foiled Henri Ducard and Ra's Al Ghul master plan. In Watchmen, we are not afforded such a luxury. And maybe we shouldn't be. The problem with Superman is that he creates a false security. We know that when he's around everything will be alright. And because of this, we never learn to be better people ourselves. We're always looking over our shoulders for someone to save us. Without question. Without judgment. Watchmen tells us that Superman is a myth. That no one deserves absolution. And that if you want safety, it comes at a hefty price. One that we'd rather not pay. But it needs to be paid nonetheless.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I Need To Be Saved!

Quick! Somebody find me some trouble. A barroom brawl. A domestic dispute. Have me kidnapped. Place me in the middle of a drug deal gone wrong. Drop me in a dark alley with a wallet stuffed with money surrounded by a handful of shady characters. Make me a hostage in a bank robbery. Find me the nearest building on fire and put me on the top floor. Find me a runaway train and put me in the last car. I want to be saved by Laurie Jupiter, Silk Spectre II. Let her take my bruised and battered body into her arms. Let me bury my wounded head deep, deep, deep into her bosom and get lost in there for hours. Let her nurse my injuries and give me many sponge baths. Let there be dressing and redressing of me and my wounds. Let there be late painful nights where Laurie curls up in my hospital bed and tends to me. And tends to me some more. And some more. Then just as she is set to go out and save the world again, let there be complications in my recovery so Laurie can't leave my side. And then let there be rehab where she teaches me to walk again. And then let there be hugging. Lots of hugging. And then let there be slapping and tickling. And butt pinching and boob grabbing. And then when I'm well enough, let it happen all over again.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Limegreen Box Set - Jealous?

Behold. The Limegreen Box Set - a collection of movies, shorts and whatnot from David Lynch. I own it, I'm awesome for owning it and I'm not inviting any of you to watch it. Okay, maybe a few people. But only if they bring treats.

By the way, I took this photo. You don't know this, but my house is built mostly out of black marble so it makes it the perfect setting for taking photos such as this. And making porn movies.

Here are a few of the things that make the Lime Green Set the end all be all.

A collection of short films from Lynch

Lynch/Hurt interviews from Elephant Man

The DVD debut of Industrial Symphony No. 1

And a Mystery Disc which in all honesty I reluctantly put in my DVD player for fear it may cause the TV to attack me. But it turns out it is filled with loads of scenes that didn't make the final cut. Here's one. It's a doozy and a perfect example of how Lynch can create tension from practically nothing.