Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Island: NOW we're talking!

I cannot say enough good things about this movie. I remember when it came out and did terrible in the theaters. I read article after article about how awful box office receipts have been with the theater owners bitching at Hollywood for putting out crappy movies, etc. How folks missed the boat on this one is WAY beyond me.

I loved this movie so much I won't even do any spoilers. But here's the basic plot. It's far in the future where rich folks have learned how to cheat death by buying "insurance policies" with clones of themselves. So when that new heart or liver is required they have full sized replicas of themselves, ready to go. Sounds great. Our docile clone friends are kept in a secret facility where they hang out with one another, staying healthy and working their menial jobs. Whenever one of them is needed for the client, they are winners of a lottery whereby they are sent to a mysterious island to live out their days in nirvana. But here's pesky Ewan McGregor as Lincoln 6 Echo who has a few questions. This is not good and sets up this action-packed thriller nicely.

It doesn't hurt at all to watch Scarlett Johannsen in the role of Jordan. She's curvy and beautiful, Lincoln's special friend (they're not allowed to be boyfriend and girlfriend), is really a nice person and can kick ass too. I really liked the two of them together as they discover the outside world.

The scene stealer is Steve Buscemi as the crusty janitor/custodian character who befriends Lincoln. He tries to teach him the ways of the world but not too much - he wants to keep his job. The series of scenes where he helps the pair escape are hysterical. He gets all the best lines and delivers them snappily.

This flick contains many "movie miracles" where, during The Matrix-styled action sequences, our protagonists don't break any bones or lose any limbs or anything. That was to be expected so it didn't bother me too much.

Sean Bean stars as the clone company's director and I mention him because I like the way he plays the role and best of all, I liked the desk in his office. It's this futuristic light-box surface that uses a crystal pyramid as it's mouse. He instructs Lincoln to draw him a picture and "pushes" a pad of paper graphic across the desk while handing him a stylus. Lincoln scribbles away and then slides it back over to the doc to check it out. Very neat techie stuff.

This movie is a MUST RENT dvd. It's exciting, sensual, and cool. Watch it and tell me how stupid it is.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster: Or, how to hate Lars Ulrich ten times more than you already do.

I don't think I need to mention there are spoilers because the movie is a documentary. Also folks, if anyone reading this is *not* a Metallica fan you can stop reading right now. Please, click on one of my Amazon links or search something in Google. But non-fans need not be bothered by this post.

I would say I'm pretty late to the Metallica-fan game. I only started really liking and listening to them in the early 90's. I think I'm about done, however, being that the last time I saw them I paid upwards of $70 per ticket and felt kind of "eh" after the show. But my husband and I wanted to check it out nonetheless.

The premise of the movie, um, excuse me, documentary, is to record the making of Metallica's St. Anger album. At first, it's an intriguing view into the music production business. Is that how they write music? Is that how they come up with the lyrics? It seems so stupid: A bunch of really rich rockers sitting around together writing on little scraps of paper. But then their personalities get in the way and it gets interesting.

The most amazing thing happens in this movie. The members of the group work with a therapist to deal with their bassist Jason leaving the band (loss) and learn how to segue into another era of music making millions after twenty plus years of togetherness. At first I was like "are you guys for real?" but then I began to believe it. During their therapy sessions I was first reminded of typical reality TV shows where folks vomit up their innermost feelings with a gleam in their eye. That was what watching Lars was like. Then I saw James, our intrepid lead singer, who was so obviously uncomfortable you could see it onscreen. And Kirk, the peaceable one, squirming on the sofa while nervously glancing at the other two. "Are they going to argue? Yes, oh crap, they are."

And then James goes to rehab and is gone for a year! Right in the middle of shooting! We have scenes of Lars and Kirk sitting around wondering "is he coming back? I don't know if he's coming back." I don't know if it's the music or the money that brings him back but of course he does. So now we have the newly sober James with a restricted work schedule being bitchy at the others. I had to agree with Lars: "what do you mean I can't listen to the music at 4:01pm? [after James has left for the day] " He points out that part of being a rock and roller is flaunting the rules, being a rebel and all. Even though Lars is a despicable little bastard he was right about that.

I really enjoyed watching them turn on their therapist. That hapless dude never saw it coming. Here he is, slaving for months with these self absorbed millionaires, only to be kicked to the curb like some slutty little groupie. The movie makers don't really show HOW he has helped bring the band back together. He makes a few canned therapist comments like "how does it feel to say these things about your father, Lars?" It comes across as embarrassing and stupid.

Somehow, thanks to Bob Rock as always, the band finishes the album. A very telling scene occurred at the prison where they shot the video for St. Anger. As an aside I saw the premier of the video back when it came out and it was kind of raw. This did not cover the fact that the song sucks. But anyway there is James and he's standing on stage addressing a group of very scary looking convicts and he's shaking! I mean really crapping in his pants kind of scared! I even exclaimed as much to my husband who was not impressed. But I found that his blatant fear made him seem so human to me. That he could be so rich and famous but be reduced at the same time.

There was a funny scene of Lars having a session with Dave Mustaine who CLEARLY has issues with the way he was booted from the band early on. I really think poor Dave really needs to get over it and move on. But I cracked up when he revealed that people see him on the street and yell "Metallica!" taunting him openly. That's the best.

I'm so glad that we Metallica fans can breathe a huge sigh of relief that the band will go on. Lars can continue being smarmy, James badass, Kirk peaceful and their new bassist, whatshisname Trujillo, pysched to be alive and working in the band. Speaking of Trujillo you can see their effort to avoid what they did to Jason, which was to treat him like the red-headed stepchild for 14 years. That was really rude. But, now that I've seen this movie, I know it's because of James' commitment issues and Lars' I-don't-feel-close-enough-to-James issues. I'm not a big fan of Trujillo. I can see he's really talented but I don't dig his braids or the way he jumps around onstage. It's just me.

Cold Mountain: How to spend several hours being sad


Why do I do this to myself? This movie was an impulse borrow from my local library. Thank goodness I didn't pay for it. I broke several personal movie-watching rules by choosing this movie:

1. It's a chick flick (love story)
2. It's a war movie
3. It's a historical movie with horses in it
4. It's got an advertised unhappy ending
5. It's a serious movie with high quality actors

I already can't remember anyone's name in the movie so I'll use the actors first names for simplicity. You have Nicole Kidman playing the dutiful preacher's daughter in this hick southern town of Cold Mountain. I thought she was a little old for the role. At her age she would have been an entrenched spinster or Old Maid. But she's so pretty I got over it. Then there's Jude, the hunky carpenter, who also would not have escaped husband-hood in those days but we move on as well. As expected, the pair are quickly falling in awkward love but the pesky Civil War breaks out and he has to go fight. Their good bye kiss is really hot, however, and I got a little stomach leap when it happened.

Then we have the parade of war horrors on the battlefield and at home. We see, in gory detail, battle scenes of soldiers being brave and getting blown up. I wondered how I could find Braveheart so cool and this so not. On the homefront we see our little lady, unable to care for herself, frightened of a rooster while cowering under the porch. Hard times come to the mountain and there's a serious lack of food. There is also an unfriendly bunch of gangsters who impose their own version of military law over the town. All the news is grim and it takes a LONG time to go through it.

But wait! Jude, after being injured, decides to get the heck out of there and make his way home to Nicole. Renee Zellweger comes to the farm and gets Nicole to pull herself up by the bootstraps. Things are looking up for the ladies but Jude is having a really rough time of it on his journey. There's danger everywhere. He fights starvation by eating tiny live crabs in the swamp. He hides from soldiers hunting for deserters. He faces Yankee soldiers attempting to rape and kill an innocent woman. This is another LONG part of the movie and I kept thinking "when is it going to end?"

Finally our protagonists are together. Really hooked up and having a hot sex scene. Excellent, roll the credits. But no! Our gangsters show up to ruin the day. My jaw dropped and I thought to myself, "NO! Not after all he went through!" But there it was: Jude dies in his lover's arms in a beautifully shot scene on the snowy mountain. I was depressed for a day.

I have to do some shout out's for some folks: Charlie Hunnam played Bosie, a sadistic, albino looking gangster. I've never heard of him, but he was very convincing in his meanness. Natalie Portman played the widow living alone in a cabin with a sick baby. Her loneliness cut me to the core. Jack White played a musician-surprise! I was positively creeped out watching Giovanni Ribisi tangle with the bloated carcass of a cow. Ugh.

On a more positive note my husband rented "The Island" with Ewan and Scarlett. That's more my speed. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Kingdom of Heaven: A rags to riches to rags story


This movie had a heck of a beginning. The royal dad comes back from the crusade to pick up his really healthy looking blacksmith bastard son, Orlando. (He has some French name but I'll skip that). Orlando takes a pass, then changes his mind (I won't give away why, but it's chilling) and rides off to catch up with dad. Once he does, they reconcile and decide they're going to head back to the land of the crusades, Jerusalem. But here's the cool part: Dad is hooked up with this really cool band of knights, one of whom is this amazingly strapping looking German with braids in his blond hair. During a skirmish with another band of knights, he takes an arrow in the neck and continues to fight - an axe in one hand and a sword in the other. It was totally badass! Unfortunately he expires and is gone from the movie. I was sad to see him go. The remains of the crew head off to Messina. Before they can leave for Jerusalem, however, dad succumbs to his wounds and, in a bizarre ritual, makes Orlando a knight.

Here's where things get hinky. Orlando was presumably raised by his mom and somehow learns this blacksmith trade. That allows him to have these seriously beefy arms. (Nice) But his transformation to a knight somehow gives him the clarity of thought and education that a nobleman would (might) have had. There wasn't enough time to do a "becoming a nobleman" montage before dad kicked it. So where did he get so smart? Let's review the life of a serf in France in 1184: Live in a hovel, wear rags, toil from sunup to sundown, eat poor quality food (especially in winter), pay exorbitant taxes to the lord, repeat. Reading, writing and arithmetic weren't part of the package. Yet, once Orlando assumes his role as lord of his sandcastle, he is seen in his "home office" reviewing the accounts and WRITING things! Oh, and in his spare time, he woos the married princess and becomes an expert battle tactician. I find it hard to believe he would have the class for even being able to touch the bottom of her sandal. But hey, that's Hollywood.

The English dudes in this movie do a much better job at looking haggard and dirty. Even Liam Neeson was much more roadworn than Orlando as the blacksmith. I will NOT talk about Orlando's teeth, even though I really want to say how inappropriately white they were. No toothbrushes for serfs! No Crest! No dentists! I have an obsession with teeth.

You know who I liked in this movie? Jeremy Irons. He played Tiberius, the king's man-at-arms I think. He has this cool eye scar (not like in Alexander) that made him look fierce and authentic. I thought his name was odd, however. Tiberius is a good Roman name. I would have thought something Christian would be typical.

The best line in this movie was delivered by Liam. He says to his son: "I once fought for three days with an arrow through my testicle." That's good stuff. We chuckled.

This movie had a good start but petered off into a ho-hum boring, trite storyline of the boy who makes good. I couldn't buy his motivation or those of all who found him to be so compelling. Ridley, where's my Bladerunner?!

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Longest Yard: Adam gets his kicks in the can

I can't believe I picked this movie to watch by myself. I needed "Cheers" style friends (those who know my name), beers and nachos. That's the kind of atmosphere that really makes this movie pop. But whatever, I watched it anyway.

I usually skip Adam Sandler movies. I can't stand it when he uses that simpering lisp for his characters in roles such as "The Waterboy." But this was different. When it came out I read a couple of reviews that said, hey, this one's alright. And it was! I was amazed. Adam's character is subdued and sticks to dry humor. This allows the other characters, such as Chris Rock, to take center stage. Adam stood still in the middle of this motley crew and let them do their stuff. That was odd, but sometimes funny.

I found the casting also strange until I saw he was one of the producers. Then it made sense. I have a 411 for folks: Adam Sandler is not incredibly good looking, nor is he tall or especially buff. Did I believe he was a former star quaterback, now fallen from grace? No. I also couldn't believe that Courtney Cox would ever date him, but she was gone shortly into the film so it didn't really matter.

You know who I really liked in this film? Nelly. I had to go to imdb to find out his character's name: Megget. I couldn't remember because I never heard it correctly. What the hell kind of name is Megget? Why can't it be Bob or something easy? Anyway, Nelly was clever and engaging and had seriously ugly teeth, which as a prisoner, was believable to me. Go Nelly.

This is the way to watch a football game. I like football. It's fun and cool. But it's better when it's set to rockin' tunes and the whole game lasts about 20 minutes. Plus, you know which team will win. Your team! No annoying time outs, or commercials, just foot tappin' action.


During the movie we waited patiently to learn about Adam's point-shaving past. "That was never proven!" he exclaims. But his fellow inmates are skeptical. And then, in crunchtime, it finally comes out - he did it! That simple scene made it real for me. He was a true criminal, disgraced in his career, and he deserved to pay for his crime.

Sahara: A series of improbable events


Wow. Does Clive Cussler know how to spin a story or what? The plotlines in this movie were wound tighter than the Gordian Knot. There was not a loose thread anywhere. I liked that. Although I had a groin pull by the end with all my leaps of faith. I was worn out by trying to maintain a shred of believeability. But hell, that's what the movies are for, right?

Let's talk about teeth. Specifically, Matt's and Penelope's. It's no wonder they found each other attractive. They both bring new meaning to the phrase "megawatt smile." I'm not exactly sure how they do it, but I have never seen teeth bigger or brighter than on those two folks. Their dentists should get a bonus for that one.

Did I enjoy this movie? Yeah, I guess. It was really fun to watch on my new big screen tv (I'm in dvd-watching nirvana). Did I really like it? No. Not really. Maybe I could pretend that rebels in foreign countries could be sympathetic to Americans if it were a historical piece. But Sahara is a modern film and most likely our protagonists would all have had a bullet in the back of the head for their trouble, relatively soon into the film. But that would have made for a very unsatisfying 30 minutes or so.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Fair Game: A stinker of immense proportions.

*****SPOILER ALERT*****but no one will care.

I'll come right out and say it. Cindy Crawford's breasts are shown in this movie. Or a body double's. It doesn't matter. This is noteworthy because if this 1995 movie were made today, with the same actors (unlikely), there would have been only sexual tension in their banter in order to recieve the coveted PG-13 rating. This movie had enough of a stupid plot, dialog, and explosions to court the pre-teen market. But the boobs and the Baldwin-butt sex scene knocked the kids out of the running.

This was a really bad movie. And I typically enjoy them. I tried very hard to give Cindy the benefit of the doubt and I even gave her a small thumbs up as she told a bad joke with a goofy smile. What I'm ashamed of is Salma Hayek, cast as the fiery hispanic ex-girlfriend. She was shrilly overacting her part as she inexplicably worked to get Max' crap out of her apartment. I needed to know why she hated him so much. It was important to me. He seemed like a nice guy who was trying to get a new place. O.k., so they broke up. Why was she so angry? It didn't work.

There was the typical parade of villians with bad accents (Russian and Cuban) this time. They were really boring and predictable. I found the basis of the plot amusing - they were hacking into the PHONE LINES! Wow! That's catchy technology. They used MODEMS. This led to the annoying mistake. I could accept that they were tracking Cindy's location (through inexplicable mobile technology - a satellite on top of their black SUV?) when the cop uses her account to buy a pizza. Sure, the restaurant has it on file. She's a regular. But then, during their high paced race to safety, Cindy and Billy keep checking into hotels with her credit card. "Do you have any cash?" asks Max. Jesus, the woman was blown from her balcony by a bomb in her TV! "I have a credit card," responds Kate blithely. I saw her. She was wearing her blouse, (very short) skirt, and heels. I'll give them that she didn't lose her shoes in the lagoon but give me a break. She wasn't carrying her purse.

Yawn. I'll try to do better next time. I promise.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Hitch: A chick flick that gets some laughs

I swear, I must have been in the best mood last night. Maybe it was the holiday and all, taking the kids trick or treating, cracking a beer, whatever. But the man and I bought a movie-on-demand and there it was. As a quick aside, whatever happened to Pay-per-view? I thought that worked perfectly well and then they went and changed it. But onto Hitch.

Why did I like this movie? I have no idea. It was formulaic and adhered to it's script with gorilla glue: Hero Will Smith is on top but has no love. Hero meets girl, falls in love. Makes strides with her. She does a bad thing, relationship falls apart. Hero is down. Intrepid sidekick (Kevin James) points out the error of his ways. "Fight for her, you coward!" Hero pulls himself up by his bootstraps, chases the woman of his dreams. They get together. Cue wedding montage. That's boring stuff.

I probably liked it because of Will Smith and Kevin James. They were good together. Will plays the smooth, charming guy that gets the chicks. (Anyone remember his work with Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys?) Kevin played the awkward, anxiety ridden chubby guy with skill. They are both really funny! Their antics made me laugh.

Unfortunately, the women weren't funny. Eva Mendes was brittle, and I didn't buy her warming up to Will. The heiress, Allegra, was a cardboard cutout. They just carried her from place to place, propped her up, and had Kevin talk to her. Eva's sidekick was a weak little mouse with no brain. And maybe it was my TV, but none of them seemed particularly gorgeous or interesting. I had a hard time understanding why the men were falling for them so hard.

Odd script note: Both Will and Eva used the term of endearment "Pumpkin" in the movie. Will when speaking to that dastardly villian Vance, and Eva with her sidekick. But they never got close enough to use it with each other.

You know what? New York City gets a bad rap because of these movies. Folks who have never even been to Manhattan see these movies and think everyone lives in a penthouse, or in a loft in Soho. Did you check out Eva's apartment? We're talking millions of dollars. There is NO WAY a gossip columnist at the local rag (NY Post equivalent) would be making enough scratch to afford a place like that. We're talking multiple thousands of dollars a month. Not happening.

I think the way to enjoy this movie - and I really did - is to check your brain at the door. One must NOT think too much about it. I left my brain in a plastic pumpkin full of trick or treat candy.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Walking Tall: The Rock Gets Rustic On Their A$$

Hey everyone, sorry for the long hiatus. School started last month and I've been wiped. But I pulled myself up by the bootstraps and checked this little gem out of my local library this weekend. And what viewing pleasure it was - off and on.

As everyone knows Walking Tall is a remake of another Walking Tall movie. Which I thankfully didn't see. Without doing any spoilers here is how the movie goes: You kick my butt, then I kick your butt, then you kick my butt, then I open up a can of whoop-a$$ on you, and the movie is over. I think I got the number of butt-kickin's right.

This is a red neck movie with the oddest twist. Right in the beginning! The lead is The Rock, who is so handsome and charming with his 100-watt smile it's ridiculous. His hometown is up high (seemingly so) in the mountains where, presumably, from the red-necky accents and such, only white people live. Yet how to explain his lovely tan complexion? His mom is white and his dad black. Once we all get over our shock the movie proceeds as expected.

The other stretch of the imagination is that in this town, the mill has closed down. That's not so hard to believe it's just that the people yearn for the mill as part of "the good old days" when hard working, blue collar folks all made an honest living cutting trees down. (I'm not pulling the environmental card, folks, you can't make me do it)! Anyway, now that the mill is closed the town has gone to pot turning the kids into junkies, the women into sluts and the men into emasculated gamblers. A sad state of affairs caused by the casino's owners, the bad guys. Thank goodness we have The Rock. Oh, and Johnny Knoxville as his sidekick.

I keep trying to like Johnny in his movie roles (Men In Black II) and this one too but it's not working. I can't put my finger on it exactly it's just that I liked him best when he was entertaining me on Jackass, with buds Steve-O and Wee Man. Ah well.

I liked the guy who played The Rock's dad, Khleo Thomas, he was pretty righteous. (Cool name, too). I could have used a little more time with his character, however. There were allusions to the fact that he "put his guns down a long time ago" but storyline wasn't further developed. The other mystery was how The Rock returned to town. He hasn't been home in eight years, but is famous to the townspeople (the sheriff in particular). But The Rock doesn't know anything that's been going on and no one knows he's coming home. Why is that? Over Chinese food that night mom apologizes, "if I had known you were coming..." Later on they hinted about a disagreement with dad over his choice of career but after all his undisclosed heroic deeds I would have thought they would have patched things up sooner. After all, he shows up and moves right back into his old bedroom, ousting his nephew. Why can't he get his own place? Is he broke?

Anyway, all these irritants are not the point of the movie. It's the guns, the soft-core porn in the casino, and the fancy pickups with big tires. I really wanted to think this was a cool movie but it just didn't do enough for me. The Rock is pretty to look at, and he's so damn nice. While I never made it through Scorpion King, I hope he keeps trying. I think he just might.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Alexander: The true origin of the mullet

Poor Alexander. Or maybe it's poor Oliver Stone. He wanted to make this movie for SO LONG! And then he finally did and everyone said it sucked. I really tried to watch it objectively and I did see it had some interesting stuff. Like hair! Colin's dyed-blond mullet was just fantastic. Angelina's snaky curls were extra perfect. And Val's King Philip barbarian scruff was scruffy. Some warriors had short hair and some long. Did they have scissors in ancient Macedonia? Or did they just use their swords? Or daggers? Who cut hair? It's a mystery.

Early on in the movie Angelina did something I didn't like. She threatened Alexander (while he was in bed) with the snake she was holding, telling him to be careful, or the snake will strike. Well, that snake was easily identified as a ball python, which is a really nice, non poisonous snake. I used to have one as a pet, and he/she was really sweet. I miss you, Casey. But Olympias was kind of a crazy person, or so it seemed to Alexander. I found the movie fairly misogynistic. I worked hard to find one female character that Alexander wasn't afraid of and couldn't. He was threatened by his mom, dad's new wife, his own wife, you name it. The only woman he didn't seem afraid of was the babylonian princess and that's because she was more afraid of him.

What a pageant! This movie reminded me of the old MGM films I used to watch with my dad on Sunday afternoons. "Cue the elephants!" "You! Dancing slave girls! You're up next!" The screen seemed like it would bust with all the activity. Another thing I found amusing was the first big battle scene in Persia. I could barely keep up with the strategy and I guess no one else could either. So, just when I need it, a title comes up on the screen "Macedonian Center" and then later "Macedonian Left" to let all us non warrior folks understand what the hell was happening. I imagined Oliver viewing the dailies with the cinematographer: "Who are they? they look just like that other bunch of dudes!" "How will anyone figure it out?" (Photographer dude) "We'll just label them on the screen and then they'll understand." "Good, good. I like it." What a dope!

What about all those poked-out eyes? Did you see all of them? King Philip had such a scary facial scar I barely recognized Val Kilmer. O.k., he's a dude who has seen some battle. But then, in perhaps a macabre King Philip Lookalike contest I started seeing them everywhere! I counted at least four faces with similar eye scars. I'm always wondering if folks working on the film play tricks on us, the poor viewers. Were they playing a joke? Or was it just a bad year (or ten) for eye injuries? Huh.

Alexander, Alexander, Alexander. The world just isn't ready for an ambiguously gay world conquerer. Even the Greeks cried "Alexander wasn't gay! Alexander wasn't gay!" Audiences hated the gay scene so much Oliver cut it out just to sell some dvd's. What a cop out. Remember Braveheart? Remember Gladiator? Even Russell Crowe, as annoying as he can be, exuded significant manliness onscreen. And that movie didn't have one sex scene in it. In Braveheart, after the coolest battle scenes, the warriors went back to camp to rib each other and tend to their wounds. In Alexander, warriors went back to camp, washed the blood off and applied eyeliner. Even the characters in the movie were homophobic. Mom didn't seem to care but cautioned him to "get an heir!" and "remember your father!" who I guess was severely homophobic. I actually worried that Alexander was so gay he wouldn't even be able to be with a woman. But with enough slapping Rosario around he managed to make things happen.

Alexander was clunky and confusing to the non-Alexander the Great-historian. I was left guessing during the movie (what's his name?) (who the hell is that again?) as the story plodded along. But! Always a glutton for punishment I will soldier on and watch Troy next.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Training Day: How to ruin your night in 122 minutes

****SPOILER ALERT**** But you'll thank me

I completely hated this movie. Not because of poor acting - Denzel portrays a sociopathic corrupt cop with unerring accuracy. I loathed his character five minutes into the movie. Ethan Hawke does his best to play Jake, a hapless rookie trying to impress his new boss. But the problem is that the new boss is psychotic, and that's where the story loses me.

Perhaps if it had been called "Training Week" or "Training Month" I could have bought it. But what were they thinking? O.k., here's the pitch: (Sidebar - anyone who has seen Tim Robbins in The Player knows how it works) Idea guy has the first appointment of the day with the studio exec. The exec hasn't had his ambien wear off yet, and is pretty groggy at the Beverly Hills restaurant they are breakfasting at. The idea guys says, "here it is. A rookie cop spends the day with his new boss, the leader of an elite narcotics squad. The rookie wants to make good. But the mayhem starts when he quickly finds out this is one dirty cop. But instead of leaving he spends the entire day with him as he spirals deeper and deeper into the abyss of corruption that is LA's police force." The studio exec spots Bruce Willis walking past his table - "Bruce, baby! How ya doin'?" "Great!, great!" The exec turns back to the idea guy, "what were you saying? "Yeah, yeah, dirty cops in L.A. Do people get killed?" "I like it, I'll take a look."

In one early scene, before all the big evil has occurred, Denzel holds his gun to our young cop's head. Now, it's clear to all that this is one crazy ass mofo. But what does Ethan do? Does he run back to the squadroom (I assume it's called that) and say, "Jesus Christ I need a reassignment!" No. He caves in to the pressure. The movie lost me right then and there.

The biggest insult of all was when the credits rolled and I saw the director's name pop up: Directed by....Antoine Fuqua! I jumped off the sofa and clenched my fists. It's official. I refuse to watch anything else directed by that man. After being rooked into watching his EPIC film "King Arthur" I thought I had sworn him off for good. But this one snuck in when I wasn't looking.

Certain folks deserve some kudos. Macy Gray played a convict's wife and her drug deficient shakes chilled me. Snoop played a crack dealer, and while that might not be much of a stretch, he was wheelchair bound and it didn't stop his badass attitude. There was a good line delivered by Denzel as he walked past a plump latina: "Hmmm, mmmm, all that jelly, and no toast."

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Animatrix: The Wachowski Brothers watch "Heavy Metal" and get the munchies

These were really cool. Nine short movies created by the brothers showcasing CGI and Japanese anime. How cool is that? I was really geeked watching this last night. A rather strong warning at the beginning "this is rated R!" alerted me that this was no Matrix-as-cartoon fit for kids event. Whew! Thank God they were all in bed. True to its rating, it was violent.

What I liked about the films was that the animation for each was different. The first one, Final Flight of the Osiris, feels just like a game - except the characters get naked! That's her butt! I shut my eyes. Then we had some Trinity style jumps and an ashphalt-rippling landing that was way cool.

The Second Renaissance I and II gave us a history lesson with pretty obvious political parallels to real life. Machines getting crushed by tanks in Tienanman Square, for example. I felt as if I were watching scenes from Terminator with the rise of the machines stuff. Those two also had some trippy psychedelic scenes with lots of colors, dude. Made me feel like I was either going to have a grand mal seizure or a flashback.

My favorite film was "A Detective Story" which had a film noir feel to it with black and white comic book colors. Seeing '40's style items such as rotary telephones and typewriter mixed in with computer screens was a cool way of mixing the old with the new. In this film a Sam Spade-styled detective is hired to search for Trinity. He finds her, of course, which leads to an unhappy ending. It was perfect!

This DVD is for die hard Matrix fans. I was brought back to my memories of watching "Heavy Metal" on WHT, which for the young was our first foray into cable, Wometco Home Theater. I recently found I can buy a copy of Heavy Metal on tape or DVD. I think that's going to be one for the wishlist.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

National Treasure: Aw, c'mon Nick! What gives?

****Spoiler Alert**** But, who cares?

I watched “National Treasure” one night and was sorely disappointed. There is Nicholas Cage, acting his little heart out, for this yucky piece of formulaic Disney fluff. One of the characters even commented at the end, “well, you got the girl” to which Nick replied, “yes, I did” as he kisses the blond. [Gaaaack] I loved the tidbits of American history but the movie plot was so embarrassingly superficial my nose was permanently wrinkled. I hope the actors had fun making the movie and a few bucks on the side. And I’m sure a host of 10-14 year olds enjoyed seeing a grown up movie with Mom and Dad. Ah well.

Whoever executed the dumbing down of National Treasure deserves a spanking. It had the bones of a great “Da Vinci Code” style story and it could have had a tremendous edge. I was attracted to it because of Nicholas Cage and Jon Voight as well as Sean Bean as the villain. The comments section of IMDB reports “PG movies are back with a vengeance!” My sentiments exactly.

And how could I forget? Harvey Keitel! He plays the FBI agent who is chasing Nicholas Cage because he stole the Declaration of Independence. Like I said, for the heavyweights in the movie it was a real shame.

Pitch Black: Yeah, o.k., all right, I get it. (P.S. this is not a picture of Vin Diesel in the movie. I think those are espresso cups).

I was lucky to find a copy of Pitch Black at my local library. I watched it the other night and was very pleased! Although it lacked depth in parts, and made a few mistakes, it was a well done B movie. I wondered if Frye from the cartoon “Futurama” was named after the docking pilot from this movie. (She was the mistake: when they were skittering across the atmosphere, and the “windshield” blew out, she didn’t get burned or anything). But Frye was a great name for her character and I thought she lent a tough seriousness to the role.

Remember the end when Riddick got to the ship and was going to leave without the others? And Frye shows up? I thought he looked almost embarrassed as he attempted to help her into the ship, after breaking her spirit (or so he thought). But then she died and he had his Streetcar moment (“Stella!”) shouting “it was supposed to be me!” or whatever he said. Then he flew away with the black guy and “girl/boy” Jack.

I loved the junkie mercenary. He was a tough, kick ass kind of guy brought down by a habit. And shooting up in his eye was marvelously skin-crawling.

Maybe I was a little tired watching it but I found it difficult to figure out what everyone was doing on the ship. Did Jack belong to the antiques dealer? Where the hell was everyone going? Who were all those people? The woman with the long dark hair? And the ship seemed to be hit by unfriendly fire but they never seemed to agree why. I was trying to pay attention, really.

I thought hard about the second movie (Chronicles of...) based on the first. Riddick’s reluctant hero/criminal/superstrong/tough guy character isn’t fully explained. It seems he’s human but had the operation on his eyes so he could see in the darkness of prison. But did that make him blind in the light? I saw him looking around without his sungoggles on. What was this talk about his race being so special? The handprint on his chest?

The aliens were cool killing beasts and I wished we had seen them in the second movie. Not those stupid Necromongers. Maybe if they gave birth to the aliens it would have made more sense. I guess David Twohey has been taking Epic lessons from Antoine Fuqua. He said, “I can do that!” And Vin said, “Yeah, I’ll, like, be the star, and have all the cool lines, and the other dudes will talk like the guys who were in ‘I, Claudius’ on PBS.”

I decided to rename the Chronicles of Riddick to: “Pitch Black II: Not so dark.”

Friday, August 12, 2005

Million Dollar Baby: Darn those Oscar Winners!

I know it's really bad form to knock Oscar winners but I did not like this movie. I tried, though, but I just couldn't do it. I usually avoid obvious chick flicks like the plague but this one was cleverly disguised as a good movie, one that everyone must see. MDB wasn't a chick flick exactly, or a date movie. I put it more into the Grandma/Grandpa class with the aging Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman. Plus, it was sad, and, while I can appreciate honest movies without happy endings, this one hit too many sad buttons for one evening. (Whew! That was a lot of commas!)

Anyway, let's talk about the good and the bad. Danger, our boxing gym groupie, was a hoot. I enjoyed his antics and was genuinely pissed when he was attacked by those gym thugs. Lucia Rijker was excellent as Billie, the title holder Maggie fights. She was one scary lady, with her powerful shoulders and evil look in her eye. Reminded me of riding the bus in NYC.

I was confused about a couple of things with Maggie's character. One of the problems she had was her age. She's supposed to be "too old" when she's taken on by Frank. I can handle that she doesn't have much education but her goggle-eyed naivete runs really deep for a 31 year old. What has she been doing for the past ten or eleven years? Honing her waitress skills and dreaming about boxing? (I'm not even going to discuss her gross practice of stealing leftovers, it's too desperate). There's no man, or illegitimate kids about. Only the estranged relationship with her family. That didn't wash for me. Although I did like her flaw! In a candid moment she asks Frank an odd question: "how much does she (his daughter) weigh?" Reacting to his confusion she reveals, "in my family, trouble comes by the pound." That was a terrific line, and I loved it. Harboring a deep prejudice against the overweight humanized her for me.

One of my favorite characters was the F-bomb-dropping Catholic priest. We don't see him very often but I believed in his frustration with Frank and his annoying questions about faith. His advice to Frank at the end of the movie was right on, but, since Frank hasn't listened to him for the last 20 years he wasn't going to start then.

After being accepted by Frank, the training begins. With probably some more annoying voice over from Morgan Freeman, we get the workout montage. Every good transformation movie has a workout montage! Remember GI Jane? And those one-armed pushups? Ah, those were the days, Demi. But I digress. Anyway, Hillary's strength and physical fitness was something to be admired. And she can even be forgiven for wearing that ugly blue dress at the Oscar's for wanting to show off her back.

Sad to say, I found Million Dollar Baby really boring. It was about fifteen minutes too long and the pacing too slow. And while I don't want to do any spoilers here, I found the very end of the movie fell flat in the believability department. The type of thing that happens is, in this country, a crime that would have been investigated as such. Going off for a slice of pie didn't cut it for me. (No pun intended).

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Blade Trinity: Next Gen of Vampire Ass Kickers


I love surprises. Flowers, birthday parties, Christmas. Don't tell me what the present is! I don't want to know! Just surprise me. Which is what made me so happy about this movie. Who knew that Jessica Biel would be so fantastic as a warrior princess? And that Ryan Reynolds would deliver his lines with acerbic clarity while barechested? I mean, he *must* work out. Fabulous effort, Ryan!

I always like it when actors portray their characters with humility and Jessica did so elegantly. Perhaps I should thank the costumer but I loved her work with the bow and arrow and the zip up leather sleeves of her jacket. I appreciated that her boobs were under control. (Ryan Reynolds' were not, however, he flexed those pecs all over the place). The weapon of the day was the light-saber-bow-thingy which vaporized the vamps in a way cool fashion. She wielded it well.

Parker Posey never disappoints. In Blade she trades her mouthful of 'Best In Show' braces for a set of vampire teeth and acts sufficiently psychotic. Although I was a little skeptical as to why she didn't rip out Ryan's throat when he was slave chained to the floor, taunting her mercilessly. But we couldn't hurt him too badly, I guess. I would have liked a little bite, however.

Drake (Draco?) scared the pants off me in the beginning of the movie. I love a pop up! I really enjoyed the opening scene with the "soldiers" walking through the desert. I don't know if that was really Parker, but I thought - that's a woman! as she swung her hips and arms. I admit I was surprised when Drake took a human form. My mental image of men from antiquity include long hair. His military buzz cut was sexy, but modern. I forgave him when he too removed his shirt.

But wait a sec. What happened to Whistler? O.k., he doesn't get burned up in the warehouse because he comes back with Drake (doing his own dirty work, probably for fun) to steal the kid and Ryan. Then we don't see him again! Is he a vampire now? A ghost? Alive? If I missed something, please help me out.

Wesley does play Blade as kind of a cranky bastard loner but, in Trinity, he comes across as a little wooden, I thought. Although he railed at the team for the 'Hello' name tags, I found those funny. Nothing like a little in-your-face before you take 'em out. And as I mentioned before, what was up with the bicycle shorts? All my CSI watching has taught me that bodies are prepared by washing down with a hose prior to beginning the autopsy. Yet Blade leaps off the table - with pants on! I can just imagine him talking to the director: "My ass ain't going on screen. It's in my contract! You get me some pants or I ain't doing this scene!" I'm hung up about the pants.

One of my many favorite lines came from Ryan as Parker lay dying, "you wait here pumpkin, I'll go for help." I might not have gotten it exactly right, but that's about it. Another great line was delivered by Blade to the chief of police who was whining about being killed by the vampires if he snitched: "But they'll kill me!", he complains. "What?!, I'LL kill you, motherf***ker!" He seemed truly annoyed.

Call me crazy, but we're going to see Blade 4.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Constantine: Mr. Anderson sees dead people.

I wished they would have put Keanu in a sweater. It's time to lose the black suit, white shirt and black tie. Anyway Constantine is a solid-story flick well suited to the Halloween creepy movie season. I know I'm a day late and a dollar short on watching all these movies but that's what dvd's are for. Cut me a little, o.k.?

I really liked Tilda Swinton as the angel Gabriel. She was sufficiently androgynous when we first see the meeting with John in her man's suit and tie. She towered over him. Her clear skin and strawberry curls were a sharp contrast to what she was saying to Constantine: Re getting into heaven, "you're f**ked." My brain struggled to reconcile the non-angelic words with her appearance. What!? That's what happens when I don't really know the story going into it. Oh well.

I was impressed with Gavin Rossdale's smarmy performance as the demon Balthazar. With his slicked back hair and pinstriped suit he was pretty window dressing. Thank goodness his role was small so he didn't have much opportunity to screw it up. Musical crossovers can have disastrous consequences, right Mariah? Yikes.

Very honorable mention goes to our Mexican friend who finds the spear of destiny in the very beginning of the movie. In a non speaking part he manages to convey the desperation of being a scavenger and then showing real screen prescence through only facial expressions as he travels north to L.A. The herd dropping dead was a nice touch, too.

I think Satan was my favorite character. "Lou, what took you so long?" His red rimmed eyes and gooey black feet made my skin crawl. And I loved the tattoos peeking up from the neck of his white suit. I would have paid money to get a glimpse of those. (I want to get a tattoo in my hair so I was intrigued). The devil's appearance brought the story around in a real "who's your daddy" moment. A great plot twist.

I really need to see this movie again. Not for Keanu or Rachel but for the other supporting characters. They were much more colorful and interesting than either of them.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Incredibles: Not a (just for) kid's movie.

O.k., maybe it is. But this time the writers got it backwards. Ususally, a kid's movie is made with enough high level dialog and jokes to keep parents interested while the kids enjoy the bright colors zipping past their eyes on the screen. In The Incredibles, the story was SO good, and the dialog so relevant, that the good vs. evil part was much less important.

Storyline for kids: Superhero family fights bad superhero and his big monster machine

Storyline for adults: Superhero family currently in the witness protection program struggle to cope with the frustration hiding their true selves from others and function in their day to day lives. The parents deal with issues as perceived infidelity, differing parenting styles and emotional distance. And oh, yeah, they fight bad guys too.

The casting was of tremendous quality - Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, and Samuel Jackson as Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, and Frozone. I was so drawn in by the film I forgot I was watching a cartoon. My husband remarked that my son was wandering away in the theater and I said, "you chase him."

The DVD has some terrific extras such as an alternate beginning which is a little scary. Bob (Mr. Incredible) seems to accidentally cut off his own hand at a barbeque when distracted by an argument his wife gets into. Of course, since he's nigh invulnerable (yes, that's a Tick reference) the cleaver bends into the shape of his fist. It was a little dark (think of the children!) so I'm glad they went in another direction.

The villian, Syndrome, an embittered fan gone off the edge, has tremendous presence in the movie. He even had the best line: while spouting off to Mr. Incredible, our intrepid hero tries to make his escape. Syndrome says, "ho ho ho!, Mr. Incredible! You caught me monologuing!" I loved this movie.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Torque or "I love trick motorcycle movies."

I have to tell you, the motorcycle you see pictured here does NOT appear in the movie, "Torque." This motorcycle is mine, it's a Suzuki DRZ400SM. But on to Torque.

Torque, in one unremarkable evening, became one of my favorite B-movies. Our Tom Cruise lookalike lead, Martin Henderson, does a bang up job playing Cary Ford. The character's name is ironic because he presumeably hates cars. Yet throughout the movie various characters shout "Ford!" again and again which constantly reminds viewers of that ubiquitous American brand.

But everyone is great in this movie! I so appreciate how all the actors pulled off their parts in this movie without being too serious. And did you see Jesse James? And how they dissed him? I almost came out of my seat. The cameo was so quick and my mind reeled with "you gotta be kidding me!" The movie didn't need Jesse but we forgive them.

Sure, the story was weak in parts but the motorcycle stunts were outstanding. The chase scene through the grove of palm trees had my fists clenched. And there was a fight scene with chicks - on bikes! While clearly a rip off from Mission Impossible (I or II I don't remember) to change gender was inspired.

If you don't want to strain yourself mentally, rent this movie. The reason it's way better than Biker Boyz is, I'm sorry Laurence, that movie took itself way too seriously. Torque is an enjoyable romp in the B-movie, fast vehicle, genre and I loved it.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Welcome to the site! Let's get started.

A Knights Tale or Heath Ledger gets medieval on our ass.

A terrific rental! You know, I really enjoyed that juvenile piece of fluff. I haven't watched it in some time now but I remember the best parts. I have conveniently forgotton the bad ones. I remember frowning about the music during the opening scene (Queens' We will rock you) and then my eyes widening in surprise that the actors were stomping their feet in time to the music! That was good stuff. I thought, "what are we in for, here?"

The sprinkling of modern images in the film was clever. Remember the nike swoop hammered into his suit of armour by our female blacksmith sidekick? The one scene (and line) that made me laugh out loud was his cinderella-like preparation for the ball: The female sidekick asks, "you're not going to wear your hair like that, are you?" And Heath, looking sexily mussed, cheerily replies, "oh, is there another way?"

I'm glad Heath went beyond this film (and the Patriot) to make a movie like Monster's Ball. We'll pick that up another time. I have a meeting.

Thank you Chris!