Monday, August 31, 2009

The Final Destination

After seeing the previous installment (the first entry of this blog by the way), I swore off ever seeing one of these again in the theater.

But then ... the newest one came out in 3D! 3D! I had no choice but to go see it.

And now, I can with much confidence state that I will never see one of these again in the theater.

This was better than the last one but still not nearly as much fun as the first two. Or maybe it's just me. Maybe I've changed.

These movies have turned into the equivalent of porn. You sit through the non "action" scenes and the painful dialogue that ensue while getting excited for the money shots of crazy mayhem.

The last film had weird World Trade Center references. This one had weird racist overtones. Odd.

The 3D was good though. Although interestingly enough, even with all the knives and blood, etc., my favorite aspect of the 3D was a random shot of a BAND-AID floating in a pool.

Directed by David R. Ellis
2009
Court St. 12

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29

I had high expectations for this film and I was not disappointed. I was a little surprised at first at how low budget the film is but after 5 minutes, I was used to the pacing of it and loved it.

The film is about an incredible, incredible, incredible game between Yale and Harvard in 1968. Both teams headed into the last game of the season undefeated so it was an even bigger game than usual for the two rivals. Yes, the title of the film acts as a spoiler but it doesn't matter. In fact, it makes how the score ended that way that much more suspenseful.

The story is told through the liberal use of the television broadcast mixed with interviews of many of the players involved including Tommy Lee Jones, who by the way is a complete weirdo. His interviews were awesomely hypnotic. Every interview is solidly entertaining especially the defensive captain of Yale who basically is a big lying jerkface - but all the more entertaining for it.

The film is downright riveting at times. Quite a feat for a sports movie about a game where the final score is known from the beginning.

Directed by Kevin Rafferty
2008
Blu-ray

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Love You, Man

The first 15 minutes or so were pretty strong. Then it went way downhill. As charming as Rudd usually is, his character was pretty darn annoying in this movie. Plus, I think that this is the first time I didn't like Jason Segel in something.

Rashida Jones sure is easy on the eyes though.

There are enough enjoyable moments in this movie I guess but this is no Role Models, I'll tell you that much.

I take back any sort of ambivalent feelings I had about Role Models after seeing this. Role Models: A modern classic.

Directed by John Hamburg
2009
Blu-ray

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The World Of Henry Orient

This movie must have seem awfully dated by the time it came out in the height of Beatlemania. It is so early 60's in a Breakfast at Tiffany's kind of way.

Two teenage girls (one rich, one not so rich) strike up a friendship and through a series of ridiculous events decide to stalk a famous pianist played by Peter Sellers. The movie is downright ridiculous.

But it goes down smooth. Sellers is fine if a bit underused, the girls are funny, Angela Lansbury is awesomely bitchy, and Tom Bosley always puts a smile on my face.

I can't believe I've now seen five George Roy Hill movies in the past year plus: The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The World According to Garp, Slap Shot and now this. This one is by far the weakest.

Directed by George Roy Hill
1964
HBO

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Front Page

A very lightweight Billy Wilder to say the least. It took me forever to get through this. There were definitely fun parts but there were too many moments without Walter Matthhau or Jack Lemmon and way way way too much Carol Burnett. Why does anyone think she's funny? Plus, we're supposed to buy she's a prostitute? Please.

It felt like this was an attempt to cash in on the success of The Sting.

Then again, any moment that Matthau was on screen was golden. And I liked some of the bawdy humor. I also pretty much like every movie about newspapers to some degree. And Vincent Gardenia is great. Ok - maybe the movie wasn't that bad but it still isn't anything you need to seek out.

Directed by Billy Wilder
1974
HBO

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Betrayal

This is a pretty amazing documentary and is well worth seeking out. It is about a Laotian family who escaped from Laos for the U.S. They thought that since they had helped the U.S. during the war that they would be welcomed with open arms. Not quite.

The film weaves footage the family had shot from the 80's with recent interviews and a history lesson of what happened in Laos during the war. It is absolutely riveting. There's a lot more to say but I don't want to give anything away so I'll refrain but I will say that the title refers to more than just what the U.S. did (and continues to do) to people in foreign countries that help us fight our wars.

Directed by Ellen Kuras
2008
PBS

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Brother's Wedding

Burnett's previous effort, Killer of Sheep, is one of my favorite movies that I've seen over the past few years. This one isn't even close but it definitely has its moments.

Killer of Sheep put me in a trance in a good way. This film has points to make. Some of them are done well. Some are super clunky especially the climax which is super contrived.

Still, there are great moments in the movie. Burnett makes 1980's Watts feel like a perfect American version for a setting of an Italian neo-realism film. The overall idea of whether or not a black man is a sellout for becoming part of the upper middle class is an intriguing one to see explored in a movie. And the scenes of the 12-year-oldish girl hitting on the 30-year-old main character as he works in his family's dry cleaning business was absolutely hilarious - perhaps my favorite scenes of any movie I've seen all year. Incredible. In fact, all of the scenes of customers coming into the store are my favorite parts of the movie.

Thank you SHR for buying Killer of Sheep and this for me for a past birthday. I can't believe it took me so long to watch it.

Directed by Charles Burnett
1983
DVD

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Wonder Boys

My original review from 2000 where I ranked it at number 11 out of 75.

Wasn't expecting to like this as much as I did, but Wow! Robert Downey and his libido, the 3000 page opus Michael Douglas is working on, the Little Richard like bowler, the dead dog, the Katie Holmes mystique… what a fun movie. Pittsburgh looks like the best city in the world in this film.

My 2009 thoughts.

- I was disappointed at first but it grew on me. I wanted to punch Tobey Maguire in the first few minutes but even he grew on me by the end.

- I can't get enough Rip Torn.

- Michael Douglas was very good.

- The rock music on the soundtrack either felt way too obvious (Old Man to signify that Douglas felt like an old man) or way too forced (hey pump it up, we have a brand new Bob Dylan song to play for you!) to work.

- Pittsburgh still looks like the best city in the world.

- Who would have thought as Robert Downey and Tobey Maguire lounged in bed together that one day they both would be stars of their very own superhero franchise?

- The Katie Holmes mystique?

Directed by Curtis Hanson
2000
DVD

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Putney Swope

I'm fully willing to admit that if I had seen this movie in 1969, I might have loved it. But I didn't. I saw it in 2009 and I just couldn't get into it. It was dated - not in a bad way. But in a I'd rather try to make fantasy baseball trades late on a Sunday night than fully pay attention to this movie so I'll kind of pay attention to it kind of way.

Putney Swope is a black ad exec who gets voted in to be head of the agency when the head dies of a heart attack at a board meeting. He gets voted in because all of the old white men voted for him because they didn't think anyone else would and they each wanted to be voted in themselves. The rule stipulated that they couldn't vote for themselves.

Swope fires the white dudes except for one token one, brings in all black execs, and renames the company Truth and Soul, Inc. No more ads for alcohol, cigarettes or toy guns, etc. The ads are super trippy in a 1969 way. The government gets involved. This movie was nuts. I loved it -- sort of. But yet I didn't pay nearly enough attention to it.

And I didn't even make any trades on this night.

Directed by Robert Downey Sr.
1969
DVD

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Smokey and the Bandit

I think I'd only seen this once before but have absolutely no idea when. Could I possibly have seen it when it was originally released in 1977 when I was only 4-years-old? For some reason, I'm pretty sure that I saw it at the White Flint Mall. Maybe my parents will remember.

Anyway, this movie is absolutely ridiculous and completely ludicrous. I loved it --- in 5 minute increments. If I watched it for 10 or more in one sitting, I wanted to kill myself.

Everytime I was thinking I couldn't take anymore, Burt would giggle or Jackie Gleason would make some racist comment that I couldn't believe he made and I'd be pulled back in just to see what happened next.

Some thoughts:

- Damn! Burt sure wore tight jeans.

- I want to have a Dukes of Hazard marathon right now.

- Was this movie just a ripoff of Vanishing Point or what?

- SHR almost gave up earlier than she did but Burt broke the 4th wall and spoke directly to the camera. She gave it another 20 minutes.

- I loved the Jerry Reed songs including the great Eastbound and Down.

- The chemistry between Sally Field and Burt was negligible.

- The dialogue was so incredibly bad but oh so good. For example - Jackie Gleason is told by someone over the phone that what he is asking is not germane to the situation. Gleason's responded, "It has nothing to do with the Germans!"

- Is Buford T. Justice the best movie character name ever?

- I still can't get over Gleason's line to his son, "I can't believe you came from my loins. I'm going to go home and punch your mother in the mouth."

- I'm thinking I might give Part 2 a chance. It's on HBO all the time this month. Instead of trying to transport a truckload of beer, this time the payload is an elephant! An elephant that's about to give birth!!!!!!! How could a movie with a scenario so awesome not be good? It's downright impossible for it to suck.

Directed by Hal Needham
1977
HBO

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Standard Operating Procedure

I've seen all of Morris' documentaries and I'm sad to say that this might be my least favorite. Not that it is bad, it isn't. But I've seen this story told before. Rory Kennedy's HBO doc Ghosts of Abu Ghraib came first and Alex Gibney's Taxi to the Dark Side is better.

Granted, the Lynndie England segments are fascinating. Also, I hadn't ever seen video footage of the events - another plus. And Danny Elfman's score is very good.

But coming on the heels of Fog of War, this seems like a real letdown. I was kind of bored during parts of it. And the re-enactments often seemed amateurish rather than illuminating.

This movie will be important for historical purposes but for my viewing purposes in the midst of Double Trouble summer '09, it was not enough for me.

Directed by Errol Morris
2008
Blu-Ray

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Kung Fu Panda

When I saw the poster and the preview for this last summer, I completely wrote it off. It looked terrible to me. And I'm pretty sick of Jack Black at this point. It seemed like the kind of movie that would have plenty of kicks to the crotch kind of jokes.

But I was very pleasantly surprised that the movie was pretty darn good. I mean, yes, there was one crotch kicking joke. But that is acceptable, I suppose. And Jack Black turned in perhaps his most restrained cinematic performance ever - as an animated panda!

The cast is great. The animation was fantastic. The fight scenes were very good - maybe Christopher Nolan can learn how to better stage better action scenes for the next Batman installment by learning from this movie.

SHR really liked the movie but especially liked the first half. She was giggling the entire time. Of course, she especially liked the food parts. The second half became a lot more violent than I thought it would be. This would scare the hell out of a 6-year-old. SHR didn't like how the panda had to flex his butt cheeks in the middle of a fight - she wonders if Jack Black has to do that in every movie now. She said he did it in Nacho Libre. I have no memory of the preview of that movie so I'll take her word for it about Black's buttocks and the flexing that it does.

One minus though - even though it was obvious that Kung Fu Fighting would be on the soundtrack, I really don't ever need to hear that song again. At least they saved it for the credits rather than a big montage during the movie itself.

Directed by John Stevenson
2008
HBO