Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Let the Good Times Roll

I can't believe I had never even heard of this fascinating documentary. In fact, I simply stumbled upon it after setting up something else to record on TCM. It is amazing. Amazing!

This movie came out at the height of the 50's nostalgia craze. Enough of Watergate. Enough of Vietnam. Enough of bra burning. Let's go back to the 50's!

The film wonderfully weaves together footage from the 50's with highlights and behind the scenes footage from an early 70's revival tour. The newer footage is priceless.

By the early 70's, these guys must have seemed like dinosaurs but, hell no! And the audiences knew they were seeing something special. Maybe seeing these guys in 1972 wasn't the same as seeing them in 1956 but it sure as hell was a lot better than seeing James Brown in '92 or Ray Charles in '97 like I did.

A few thoughts on the 70's footage:

- Chuck Berry is a dirty man.

- The Coasters were coasting. They didn't seem to care. The audience didn't either.

- Danny and the Juniors were washed up. I'm pretty sure Danny put the moves on any young thing wearing a skirt immediately following their set.

- How bout them Shirelles?

- Bill Haley reminded me of the middle aged Biff from Back to the Future.

- You'll die when Little Richard freaks out about the stage not being close enough to the people! The people! Later, he rips his shirt off and dives into the audience. Incredible.

- The Five Satins thanked God for letting them be so damn awesome.

- Bo Diddley!

- Chubby Checker continued to be grateful about how damn lucky he was to have a career.

- I love Fats Domino!

See this movie.

UPDATE:
Hot Tub Eric sent me this e-mail after reading this review. It reminded me of other things that I can't believe that I forgot to mention in my review.

"How great is that movie?! I can’t believe you didn’t mention BO grocery shopping and frying up chicken in an electric frying pan
backstage! By far, my favorite part. No personal assistant or chef – BO fries his own bird goddammit! Then he stuffs his face, throws on a shirt and goes on stage and KILLS IT!! LR was great as usual. Chubby was surprisingly good, but it think that’s because the band we’re playing out of their minds and totally doing their own thing. CHUCK slayed of course, but he’s lucky he didn’t have to follow DIDDLEY. Saying CHUCK is dirty doesn’t really do him justice. Certainly you know about his filthy ways?"

He then sent me a subsequent e-mail quoting of the lyrics from one of the Berry songs.

"“We did it in the kitchen, we did it in the hall, got something on my finger and wiped it on the wall” I was just listening to CB in the car this morning. Don’t trust anyone without some serious CB in their collection."

Directed by Robert Abel and Sid Levin
1973
TCM

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tell No One

A dude's wife is murdered. Years later, she begins to contact him through the internets but tells him not to tell anyone because they are watching. Very Hitchockian, right? Eh, whatever. It kind of reminded me of another French overrated hype from a few years back, With a Friend Like Harry. The ridiculous plot twists keep piling up on top of each other and then the film ends. Blah.

The film did have a few things going for it though. I did like the first 30 minutes or so. They kind of reminded me of Michael Haneke's Cache. The cinematography is great and one of the villains is a super scary female killing machine. Overall though, this movie is majorly overrated.

Directed by Guillaume Canet
2006, US Release: 2008
Blu-ray

Sunday, April 19, 2009

W.

Y?












Directed by Oliver Stone
2008
Blu-ray

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Frozen River

I wanted to like this more than I did. Visually, this film was stunning. And the plot of a down and out single mom who decides to help a struggling Native American woman make some cash by smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S. from Canada by driving over a frozen river is fascinating.

But there was just something about this movie that didn't quite gel for me. Melissa Leo was great though so I'm not quite sure what it was. Maybe it strained too hard to make bigger points about our society while trying to seem like it wasn't? I'm not sure. But I was a bit bored by this at times.

As a side note, the last time I saw Leo in anything was the final episode of Homicide. And I've got to say - the first time I saw her on screen in this film was almost as jarring as the first time I got a clear view of Mickey Rourke's face in The Wrestler. It must have been a tough 10 years for Leo.

Directed by Courtney Hunt
2008
Blu-ray

Monday, April 13, 2009

Baby Mama

Okay, so this was better than I expected it would be. Still, that isn't saying much, now is it?

And to be honest, there were parts of it I liked. And I think that I even liked it more than SHR. Fey and Poehler are always fun. But come on, this movie is ridiculous. I know we are supposed to watch a movie like this with a willing sense of disbelief. But the whole thing was just so darn lazy. For example, why set up the plot point of Tina Fey needing to okay her baby mama to make sure she got someone of a high caliber? As soon as Amy Poehler and Dax Shepard are introduced, it is clear that Fey would never in her right mind choose them. But I guess that's the point? Fey isn't in her right mind because the biological clock is ticking?

But the comedy has got to happen, yo! Poehler has to be the one! Fine, I get it. But why not just have it that Fey knows she can't do better so she settles for Poehler? Granted, the script sort of did that in the first few minutes but it still didn't quite seem feasible. This sort of laziness in the screenwriting would be forgivable if the movie were a bit funnier. But it's not.

Sigourney Weaver's character was tired after the first scene. Five scenes later, she still wasn't funny. And Steve Martin? Not funny. Not funny at all.

Plus, as SHR points out, Tina Fey plays the same damn character in everything she's in or at least this movie and in 30 Rock. Branch out a bit, Tina.

Beth was over the other day and her 5 minute discussion with SHR about this movie was a hell of a lot more entertaining than the movie itself.

Romany Malco was funny though. And that Greg Kinner sure is charming. Although as Beth pointed out, that court scene was completely useless.

Directed by Michael McCullers
2008
HBO

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The French Connection II

The French Connection is a classic. This film is not. But it is still a lot of fun. I mean, come on - the whole Gene Hackman being forced to become addicted to heroin and subsequent rehab 30 minute sequence is unbelievable!

The bad guy is so weaselly! Marseilles looks awesome! And that last shot (pun intended) is one of my favorite endings of any movie ever!

I really can't get enough Gene Hackman.

Directed by John Frankenheimer
1975
Cinemax

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Gran Torino

I kind of wanted to see this a few months ago but decided against it. When I was visiting MD a few weeks back, Stone Groove and I decided to see it. I had to talk him out of seeing The Reader in order to see this. I kind of wish that I hadn't.

This film had a few good moments - especially in the first half but it got really silly really quickly. The themes of the movie are well worth exploring but the script is often way too simplistic in a Crash kind of way.

Upon walking out of the theater, Stone Groove said, "I prefer Dirty Harry and I can't believe that we had to listen to Clint Eastwood singing over the end credits! That's the worst!"

Before heading to the theater, I mentioned to Hot Tub Eric in an e-mail what movie I was heading out to see. He responded, "I'm surprised you haven't seen Gran Torino yet. Not that its good, just that you see everything. It would have been good if it was just about an old dude coping with the fact that he's the last honky left on the block. That's a pretty universal story that hasn't been told too many times. Once they got into the Charles Bronson shit, it ruined it for me."

Agreed.

All in all though, at least this wasn't as bad as Mystic River!

Directed by Clint Eastwood
2008
Silver Spring 20

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Gomorrah

This was the last movie I saw in the theaters before the arrival of Double Trouble. I'm glad to say that I chose wisely.

I really am looking forward to seeing this film a second time. I've got to admit that I was a little bit confused during first viewing. However, that is completely my fault - I didn't realize that the movie was going to jump back and forth between 5 different stories. By the end, everything had crystallized a bit for me.

The film does a good job of showing many different facets of the reach that organized crime has in Naples - from the bosses to the regular citizens to businessmen to wannabe gangsters.

There are some truly memorable moments in this film. Every moment is worthwhile. Every line of dialogue works. And some of the characters are instant film classics - like the ones in the poster.

I didn't know much about the Naples mafia. They're bad ass - just like the city. SHR and I spent a couple of nights there in 2003 and it is definitely a city that keeps it real.

Directed by Matteo Garrone
2008, Year of U.S. Release: 2009
IFC Center

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Starting Out in the Evening

SHR likened this film to The Visitor. You know - the well worn genre of crotchety old literary types change their ways movie. Both movies she bailed on before the end.

While I didn't love that movie, I probably liked it a little more than this one.

I liked the 1st half of this quite a bit but got kind of bored in the 2nd half. Frank Langella was very good though. And if you need a Six Feet Under reunion of sorts, both Lauren Ambrose and Lili Taylor are in this. Hell, Richard Jenkins is in The Visitor. What's going on here?

Who wants to rent We Don't Live Here Anymore with me this weekend?

Directed by Andrew Wagner
2007
Sundance