Monday, February 28, 2011

Here's The Problem With What Happened Last Night At The Oscars

It's good to know that the Academy doesn't learn from past mistakes.

When Tom Hooper received the Best Director Oscar last night, I died a little inside. Fincher didn't move, but then again, he didn't really move at all last night. I wondered if he was perhaps dead in his chair and someone had painted eyes on his eyelids. Maybe he was thinking that this was all crap and it didn't matter. Maybe he saw the hype train go down the tracks for The King's Speech and knew what was already going to happen. I heard all the talk. I heard the rallying cries behind The King's Speech, but still I fought. You're crazy, I thought. How could you not award Fincher for The Social Network? Everything in that picture was perfect. If you truly look at a Director being at the helm of the entire creative process, then Fincher was the guy. The acting, editing, writing, cinematography and music were all perfect. Nothing more outstanding than the rest. Just a perfect balance. I thought it was a no-brainer that he would win the award. But then everyone began to talk. King's Speech this and King's Speech that. Yes it's a good movie. Yes the performances were great. But it was familiar. It was easy. I can confidently say I have never seen a movie like The Social Network. I have seen several movies like The King's Speech. So I began to resign myself to the inevitable and I said to myself and anyone who would listen - if The King's Speech gets best picture, I'm fine with that. Just don't screw Fincher.

So when they announced Tom Hooper all I could think was "here we go again." It's Scorsese all over again. In a few years from now The King's Speech will fade from memory as just another good period piece. The Social Network, on the other hand will continue to thrive as a film that defined our time. And there will be regret. "Huh, maybe Fincher should have gotten the Oscar" people will say. And then Fincher will go on to make good film after good film and about 10 years from now Fincher will win best director for a lesser film. One that was good, but not deserving. And I'll root for him. And probably blog for him, as I did for Scorsese.

It won't be right. But I'll do it. Because this is the way the Academy works. And Fincher deserves it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Time Changes A Man

I have changed over the years. My hair has grayed a bit. My stomach has grown softer. My desire for hot sauce - stronger. My eyesight has weakened. I'd like to say I'm smarter, but maybe not. One thing is for sure: I once hated Westerns. Hated them. Couldn't and wouldn't watch them. The closest I ever came was Silverado and shoot, that ain't no Western lessen you city folk. You would think that this wouldn't be true. John Carpenter is among my favorite directors and every inspiration he had was born from a Howard Hawks' Western.

But, like I said, times change. And people change. And slowly I have come to love Westerns. It started with Unforgiven. And then expanded to the Leone Westerns. A week ago, I saw the original True Grit for the first time. And tonight I saw the remake. I have steered clear of a lot of Westerns because they involved John Wayne and I am not a fan. I've never really enjoyed what I have seen of him. He is the same character over and over again. And not a good one at that.

My impression of the original True Grit was that I loved the story. Kim Darby was excellent, Glen Campbell was terrible and John Wayne was John Wayne. The dialogue was good, but the delivery poor. It was like a stage performance. People didn't react to eachother as much as they waited to deliver their lines. But that was then, this is now. The remake is fantastic. This movie is very much a Coen movie - ripe with rich characters and witty dialogue. The story was made for them and you feel that they've been working their entire careers for such an opportunity. There were a few instances where I missed the original. And even missed John Wayne. As good as Jeff Bridges was as Cogburn, I felt he threw away the line "fill your hands you son of a bitch" and that is not a line you want to throw away.

So what gives? Has my steely reserve weakened or can taste in movies mature and change? I've known time to put movies to rest, but not to resurrect entire genres? I feel I have evolved. And now an entire pool of movies rests at my feet, waiting for me to jump in. Please feel free to guide me to your favorite Westerns in the comments.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

An Open Letter To HBO

To Whom It May Concern At HBO

My name is Piper. You may know me from such posts as My Comedy Penis, I Am Pathetic, and My Marriage Proposal To the Newly Single Kate Winslet among others. But enough about me. I'm here to talk about you. Actually to pitch you an idea. An amazing idea. An idea in which I will take no credit for. An idea that once you hear it, you can run with it, make millions and no one will be the better for it, as long as you send me small checks in the mail. Ready? Here it is.

You know the book World War Z, right? Yeah, yeah, I know that it's "supposedly" in production for a 2012 release, but here me out. No feature will do this book justice. I'm not even sure a trilogy would do this book justice. This needs to be a mini-series. A Brothers In Arms for zombies, if you will. Each episode can be a single story of the zombie wars. A different story each week. With love growing each day for the undead, this idea is a winner. And AMC's The Walking Dead is proving that it can work.

So like I said, just a wink and nudge and go make this happen. I won't tell anybody and you big head types can take all the credit.

You're welcome.

Monday, November 8, 2010

That's Not Noise, That's Music

About half-way through The Social Network, my father leaned forward, turned his head towards me and said in a voice that did not suggest he was in a crowded theater "what is that noise that keeps playing behind all the talking?" My response, "it's called a soundtrack."

One of the things that makes The Social Network worth seeing again and again (I have now seen it three times) is the way that it perfectly melds all the crucial elements of filmmaking. The direction, the acting, the storytelling, the writing and yes, the soundtrack. The fact that my father called out the soundtrack means that the soundtrack was worth noticing. And how could it not be noticed, it was created by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Each song, a menace. Each chord a dark fuzz that scratches the eardrums. Reznor creates the twisted darkness that Danny Elfman only wishes he could.

But what makes the soundtrack work is not just the soundtrack itself, but how it is used. It's practically a character in the movie. Setting tone, creating emotion and most importantly, moving things along. Songs like A Familiar Taste and It Catches Up With You perfectly capture the darkness of what is unfolding, but do it in such a way as to still suggest progress. It's brooding and uplifting at the same time. And Reznor and Ross' take on In The Hall of the Mountain King, along with Fincher's coverage of the crew race is really something to behold.

I have purchased the soundtrack and I randomly listen to it in the car. Each piece of music brings me back to the film. To each scene. The run across campus. The slo-motion shots of the Phoenix party. The music is literally intertwined with the film. Just as strong as the writing, the acting and the direction. It may be noise to my old man, but it's a pretty damn good soundtrack to me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Everything I Know In Life, I Learned From The Movies

Installment #1: How To Have The Best Breakfast Of Your Life.

In order to have the best breakfast of your life, here's what you have to do: First, go find a really shitty job. One that you have no interest in doing or sticking with, but you end up doing it and sticking with it because it's easy and it's a paycheck. Then let's say one day while you're in the middle of that really shitty job, a guy walks in to your the building of your shitty job with a gun. He takes you outside and holds the gun to your head and he asks you "what do you want to do with your life?" You stutter and probably pee and poo yourself a little, and you ask him to repeat himself. He asks you again, "what do you want to do with your life?" And then you tell him that you always wanted this other job, but schooling for that other job is really expensive. But then this guy tells you that you need to quit this shitty job and go to school for this much better job. In fact he says that he's coming back tomorrow and if you're still there, he'll kill you. So you run away and you run home. Then the next morning you wake up and you have the best breakfast of your life because you know you're not working in that shitty job anymore.

Thanks Fight Club.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Comfort Of Zombies

Things haven't been super rosy with Piper lately. Some shit has gone down. I won't bore you with all the specifics, but the biggest news is that my father-in-law passed away a couple of weeks ago. He battled a disease for over a year and lost to it on a recent Saturday morning. My wife is an only child so she has no siblings to draw from. It's been kind of dark around here and well, when times get dark, I like to turn to old friends. Zombies. That's right, nothing cheers my ass up like flesh eaters. Just pop in Dawn of the Dead and watch the deep dark room turn from sinister gray to rosy red in seconds. Watch Survival of the Dead, open the windows and let the cartoon birds perch on my shoulder and tweet "Happy Days Are Here Again." That's how it works. And if I'm not watching zombies, I'm killing them in Left 4 Dead and Resident Evil 4.

Call me a sick twist if you will, but there's just something comforting about zombies. Maybe it's because they're so damn disposable. Or maybe it's because it's October, but I'm craving those crazy canibals as much as they would crave me in a dark alley with some bacon salt and a gimp. This is how bad I've got it. I even don't mind The Walking Dead promos on AMC even tho I've seen them for the MILLIONTH TIME. I dreamt about zombies last night and I woke up happy. This is bad. But really, it's good. When times get dark, it's those cold zombies that keep me warm.

Monday, September 6, 2010

An Important Message From Machete

Hello. This is Machete. I have an important message for all of you out there. Especially for those of you who want to get laid. If you want to get laid, there's one thing you have to do. Kill people. But you can't just kill them by shooting them with a gun. That is too simple. You need to kill them in creative and interesting ways. Like with a carburetor. Or with a gardening spade. Then you will get laid. Here, let me break it down for you. You + Interesting Killing Technique = Getting Laid. That's how it works. Now if you're already good looking and you can land lots of hot women, then good for you. But if you're ugly and scarred and shit and you want to screw hot women like Jessica Alba, then kill people in really bizarre ways and then you will get laid by hot women like Jessica Alba. Thank you for your time.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Watch this.

Then click here.

Then pee yourself a little.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

My Dinner With Schmucks

Based on the marketing campaign behind Dinner For Schmucks, one might guess that the movie is

A) All about a dinner in which idiots are invited to dinner so that people may laugh at them

B) A comedy in the vein of Meet The Parents

C) A futuristic thriller about a family in the year 2050 who have hidden a special alien eye in the mountains of Stlumanthera in order to save the world.

Turns out Dinner For Schmucks is none of these. Oh sure, it could have been either a or b or if it were really good it could have been both, but it wasn't. I've been duped before on marketing as it relates to action and humor and performance, but not when it comes to plot. When I walked in to the theater last night, I thought I was going to see a movie about a dinner where a bunch of morons were going to try to out-idiot eachother. Instead I got treated to a real mess with a dinner during the last 20 minutes.

I should have known it was curtains when one of the first jokes of the movie is one I saw coming 10 miles away. Tim (Paul Rudd) and his colleagues watch an executive load up his car because he has been fired. Tim comments on how he would never want his job. How anyone would be crazy to want his job. Two seconds later, Tim is telling someone how he has to have that guy's job. As Fozzy The Bear would say to signify that there was a joke that was just told and you should laugh whether you thought it was funny or not "wakka, wakka, wakka." Aren't there rules somewhere that suggest if you're going to write a comedy, especially a comedy titled Dinner For Schmucks, that you might want to come out of the gate with a few good jokes?

I have not seen the original, so this commentary is not based on it being a lesser remake. It's just a commentary on how it's not a very good movie. And damn, it could have been. Great movies have been made about great dinner parties. This would have made a nice addition. Now I say all this, but truth be told there are a couple of nice parts. The stand-off between Barry (Steve Carrell) and Therman (Zach Snuffaluffagus) at the dinner is pretty damn funny. But the most interesting dynamic is between Barry and Darla (Lucy Punch) the stalker girlfriend. The sparring that happens between those two felt like old Clouseau and Cato from the Pink Panther movies.

Dinner for Schmucks seemed a natural fit for the current state of comedy. In a world where stupid comedy reigns, a movie that's literally about laughing at idiots should be be a feast. Unfortunately, it's just a promising appetizer for a dinner that never came.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Review Within A Review Within A Review Within A Review of Inception

A couple of days ago I saw Inception so I thought that instead of writing one review on it, I'll write several reviews within each other and possibly plant an idea in your head which you will in turn run with and unknowingly make happen all because of me. If none of this makes sense to you, then you haven't seen Inception so 1) maybe this will make you want to see this movie 2) maybe this will provide a moment of entertainment for you 3) maybe this will make you think I'm an idiot. If all goes well, you will get a lot of post for your buck. Several reviews for the price of one, which by the way is zero dollars. And you'll also get a fabulous idea to boot. So here it goes.

I think it's interesting that Inception stars Ellen Page, only it never mentions her anywhere in the previews. She has a rather pivotal role, but all the notice goes to Leo. Maybe Christopher Nolan really hates Juno, like I do. Maybe he saw Juno and hated that it was so caught up in its own clever vernacular and thus couldn't be taken seriously even though it dealt with a very serious subject. And hey doesn't Juno do for teen pregnancy what Pretty Woman did for prostitution? And hey didn't Juno really screw up her pop culture smarts when she said Thundercats Are Go instead of Thunderbirds Are Go? Thunderbirds was a terrible movie by the way. It really did the TV show a horrible injustice. If you want to see Thunderbirds done right, watch Team America: World Police. Did you know that the creator of Thunderbirds, Gerry Anderson, originally wanted Thunderbirds to be a live action TV series, but made them marionettes to save money? And what's Ben Kingsley doing as The Hood? Man, that guy will star in just about anything. Like Sexy Beast. Now there's a fantastic movie. I love to watch a really brilliant actor just chew up a role and spit it out. And Kingsley does that in about every scene he's in, but especially on the plane ride he never takes. But really, when I think of Ben Kingsley, I think of his geeky, menacing character in Sneakers. A fun movie to watch on a rainy day with the tween kid. But let me get more specific here and talk about the scene I really think of when I think of Ben Kingsley. And that's the one when he knows that Redford has broken in and stolen the black decoder box. So he does this kind of tip-toe run to his office. This geeky prance to his office. Now if I thought that my old friend who is really my nemesis had just stolen my little black decoder box that could help me break any code in the world and he may actually still be in my office, then I wouldn't do a geeky tip-toey prance in to my office. I would do a haul ass, arms a flailing full sprint in to my office and I would be swinging at anything that moved. In addition to Ellen Page, Inception also stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lukas Haas who both star in one of my all-time favorite modern day teen noir films and that is Brick. What a great idea. Let's breed very tall humans that can pick us up from our chairs in front of the TV where we've fallen asleep and take us upstairs and tuck us in to our beds. Then in the morning they could give us piggyback rides. Brick is what Romeo+Juliet tried to be. A really cool movie that bends genres and ties them in to really crazy knots. What saves Brick from not becoming a movie that's really about how clever it is, is that it has a sense of humor. It knows the fine line between clever and stupid. Did you get that? I just dropped a Spinal Tap quote in there. Within that review, within a review, within a review, within a review comes a Spinal Tap quote. You know, it's been so long since I've seen Spinal Tap that I may not consider it to be a great movie anymore. I still quote it often and remember it fondly, but it may not hold up with another viewing. I loved Waiting For Guffman when I saw it in the theater and if someone asked me today if it's a good movie, I would tell them it's a great movie, yet I have made no effort to watch it again. The thing that hit me the hardest when watching Inception was that I was thinking. I was wondering. I was going back in my mind to put the pieces together. When is the last time I had to do that? When is the last time a movie that didn't have David Mammet's name attached to it, do that to me? It was a refreshing experience. Inception is great fun. The idea of a dream within a dream within a dream is a really interesting proposition and I enjoyed that I could be stimulated with an idea rather than a visual shock and awe. Christopher Nolan knows, as any good filmmaker does, there are other ways to stimulate your audience that don't involve robots, explosions or 3-D. As for the specifics, I don't know that I share the same level of craziness about Leo that everyone else does. I think it's hard to grow up in the movies and not still have that childlike stigma attached. Spielberg brilliantly cast him in Catch Me If You Can, but I don't know that DiCaprio has officially grown up for the leading man roll. When he talks about his kids, I can't believe it. And when he suffers from inner turmoil about his lost wife, I can't really believe that as well. Inner anger I can buy as I did in Gangs of New York and The Departed. Thankfully, this movie didn't necessarily need an actor with enormous emotional depth. It just needed someone to take us from one scene to the next and Leo does that for us. But to me, Inception isn't so much about the acting as it is about the concept. And it's a great concept. Nolan knows how to put together a movie. And I might just call Inception a really good thinking man's blockbuster.

Now let me finish my cocktail with a naked Kate Winslet who is feeding me no-calorie chocolate cake before someone gives me a "kick" out of this dream.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Problem with 3D

I say "my problem" meaning I only have one, but actually I have several problems with the current Hollywood craze. Allow me to list them for you.

1. Before the beginning of the movie, a frame appears on the screen that asks you to "consider the environment and please recycle your 3D glasses." What it should say is "consider our pocketbooks and please give us back our 3D glasses, so that we may wash them in the special glass washers that we sell to the movie theaters for a large sum so that they may reuse them again for little cost." For this reason, I keep them, even if it means that I throw them in my kitchen drawer that gets random whatnot like screws and cards and tape and marbles and string. I take pride in the fact that I have not recycled these glasses because the stupid Hollywood machine is trying to mask its greed by acting like it's considering the environment. Every time I do not recycle the glasses, I give a sinister "he, he, he" as I twirl my imaginary sinister mustache. It brings me extreme joy.

2. 3D is not the future. It's the past. And the past is a gimmick. Like Smell-O-Vision or Odorama. It's a reminder that you're not watching a good story, but instead watching a movie. One that's probably not very good, but is covering up for it by making it 3D. What's next? Will Ford reintroduce the Edsel as the future of automobiles?

3. If you're going to do 3D, then by God do 3D. Have shit jump out at me and make me duck into my popcorn. Give me back Friday the 13th III in 3D with eyeballs flying at me and Treasure of the Four Crowns. If you're going to shoot something in 3D, make me feel it. Don't tell me that 3D adds depth. That's just a bullshit attempt of making 3D seem legit. Good cinematography adds depth.

Hopefully, this will do it. Millions will read this and say "Jesus, Piper. You're right." And then 3D will go the way of the Dodo. Until then, I'm going to keep my extra dollars in my pocket and spend them on something important, like SweetTarts.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Marriage Proposal To The Newly Single Kate Winslet

Hello Mrs. Winslet.

Hello Piper.

Oh wait. It's Miss now, isn't it.


Sorry to hear about that.


Massage your shoulders?



Did you want to massage my shoulders?

Do you want me to?

I'm fine. Thanks.


Excuse me?

I said. Ello.

Why did you say that?

To show that I can be English. Fish and chips?

No. No thanks.

So how long 'til you get back on the wagon?

You mean dating?

The clock's ticking Kate. Why date when you can just go straight to marriage.

It's going to be a while. I need some time.

Like 15 minutes or something?

A little more time.

I loved The Holiday.

You did? I thought you hated Nancy Meyers.

I do. But I love you. I mean, I like you. I could love you. I could be a great lover... of you. I would comb your hair. And we could cuddle after we... you know. I wouldn't get up and say I have to (air quotes) direct a movie (air quotes) or something like some deadbeat we know.

I'm feeling a little uncomfortable.

Would you like if I massaged your feet?

No, I'm fine.

Okay, let's play a game. Ready?


Do you like the color red?

Not really.

Okay, let's try this again. Do you like acting with Leonardo DiCaprio?

Leo is a fantastic actor.

That's not really the answer I'm looking for. Let's try this again. Do you like to breathe air?

I do.

I now pronounce you Man and Wife.

Hello Mrs. Kate Winslet Piper.

Wait. What just happened?

We're married, baby. And once you go Lazy Eye, you'll never go straight again.


Never mind. Let's just go and make this legit.