Thursday, December 29, 2011

80s Music Video of the Week: Hungry Eyes

Maybe this will actually be a weekly thing. Anyway... I just wanted to listen to this song again:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

The first half of this trailer is crap, but the second half is amazing:

Monday, December 26, 2011


I don't normally see movies like this. When it comes to movies, I'm sort of like a hot shot producer at a movie studio: I like easy to understand films that sound entertaining and can be summed up in a single sentence story pitch:

"It's like Die Hard, but in an old folks home."

"It's about a retired Chicago firefighter who's forced back into action because there's a fire devastating the South Side and only he can put it out."

"A guy goes blind, which is ironic because up to that point, he's always loved being able to see stuff."

You know what I mean. Shame is nothing like that. Shame can't be summed up in a single sentence, and probably not even in a single blog post. It's a slow-paced, thoughtful, maddeningly-vague art house film that doesn't have anything remotely resembling a traditional story structure or central story arc. So it wasn't really my kind of film, and I can't even say that I liked it, but I certainly respected it and won't say that I didn't like it either.

Shame is about... I dunno. Let's just say it stars Michael Fassbender as some rich, successful New York yuppie who's also living a secret life as a raging sex addict, and hilarity ensues. Just kidding about that last part. This isn't a very funny movie, nor is anything that happens the least bit fun or all that entertaining, but it is interesting and it was never boring. The movie basically consists of Fassbender going to his nondescript job, then going home (or to a hotel, to a bar, or just some alley) and having lots of sex. All things considered, he didn't show much shame, nor did this film really do much to make sex addiction look all that bad. All the women with whom he engaged in sexual intercourse were gorgeous, and everybody seemed to be having a pretty good time. Then again, this is a movie about a sex addict who looks like movie star Michael Fassbender. If they made a movie about a sex addict who looked like -- say -- me, there would be a heck of a lot less sex, and the movie would've gotten a G rating instead of an NC-17.

Michael Fassbender is a very wonderful actor however. I liked him in both Inglorious Basterds and that recent X-Men movie, even though neither film was all that good. He's just one of those actors who's always interesting and fun to watch, even if he's just sitting in a subway or jogging in a ten minute tracking shot that went on so long it seemed like it would be interminable. He really held this movie together, and I can't imagine it would've been the least bit watchable -- let alone actually kind of good -- with a lesser actor. Oh, and you see him naked too, so check it out if that's what you're into. And if that is what you're into, I think you'll be impressed. That's all I'll say about that.

The rest of the cast is pretty good too, even though this is definitely the Michael Fassbender show. His sister is played by the very cute and charming Carey Mulligan, and his boss (and only friend?) is played by that guy from 24 who got his hand chopped off by Jack Bauer because he was handcuffed to a bomb (Spoiler!!!). Then there were all the chicks Fassbender banged, all of whom were very lovely, very charming, and got very naked, if you're into that sort of thing.

Of course, I haven't said much about the plot or story because there really isn't much to say. This is one of those movies where nothing happens, and it just kind of starts and then stops randomly. Sometimes stuff happens, but mostly it's just people standing around or talking. But somehow... it kind of works. As I said, I was never bored, even if I was never really entertained either. Director Steve McQueen is definitely talented, and he has a sure hand with the camera and kept things moving and interesting, even though nothing was actually happening. If this guy ever makes that Firefighter movie I pitched, I bet it would be awesome. But Shame was just... a movie. If any of this sounds interesting, check it out. If it doesn't, fair enough.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Boy Who Didn't Like This Movie

Before I sat down in the theater last night to watch this movie, I knew only two things about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: The title, and that for the past two years or so I haven't been able to go anywhere without seeing somebody reading one of the novels. I saw the trailer once when it first come out months ago, and thought it was pretty neat but incomprehensible, but I'm a big fan of Daniel Craig (even since before he was James Bond!) and my friend wanted to see it, so I figured I'd check it out. After all, all those millions of people who read the books and saw the original Swedish films couldn't be wrong, right?

Wrong. Turns out, this movie was horrible.

I don't mean to say The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was a bad movie, since the story was interesting and well plotted, the cast was exceptional, the cinematography was gorgeous, the score was wonderful, and the entire production undoubtedly turned out exactly as the filmmakers intended. All I'm saying is that those filmmakers intended to make a horrible film, that I'm assuming was based upon a horrible book. I haven't read the book so I can't really speak to whether or not it was as horrible as this film, but I'll never know since I'll never read it. I'll also never see this film again, and I'm hoping that after I finish this review I'll never even have to think about it again.

This was ostensibly a mystery story, although any fan of the genre will have figured out the major twists and revelations almost immediately upon learning what the actual mystery is. I won't spoil anything, but it was very predictable, albeit interesting and well done. I described it as "ostensibly a mystery story," since it took a long time for that plot to get going, spending way too much time setting the mood and personality of the titular girl with the dragon tattoo, who I will charitably refer to as an anti-hero. If I decided not to be charitable, I would simply say she was one of the most reprehensible, unlikable, and downright awful characters I've ever seen presented as a heroine in a major motion picture. This woman was a sociopath who should've been locked up in an institution, not presented as some kind of hero.

The rest of the characters didn't fair much better, since everybody seemed to be rude to everybody else, except for the people with whom they were having sex, but sometimes also both. Daniel Craig, our other hero, is shown to be a not that nice guy too, since he cheated on his wife, then goes ahead and cheats on his mistress too. Daniel Craig, at least, is a wonderful, charming actor who has the talent and ability to create a likeable, interesting character out of this mess of a story. (But I never managed to figure out why he was the only person in this movie who didn't speak in a Swedish accent, but whatever.) I have no idea what Rooney Mara was doing, but I didn't like it. She spent the entire movie looking and acting like a ghoul. She didn't act so much as just stand there sucking energy out of the room.

Then there was the the rape scene, and all that other nonsense that director David Fincher loves to put into his films. This was a film for the people who saw his earlier film Se7en and came away from it thinking, "You know, there wasn't enough rape..." I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying this movie contains one of the most brutal and off-putting rape scenes in movie history, but I also don't care since I wish somebody had spoiled it for me. Here's the thing: I don't need to watch people getting raped and I don't want to watch people raped. This kind of crime certainly has a place in both literary and cinematic fiction, but this scene was so graphic and so disturbing, and yet served no real purpose that I could understand. I think there was a brutal rape scene just for the sake of having a rape scene, and then for the sake of having a scene where the girl basically rapes the man who raped her. None of this came into play again, nor did it ever tie in with the main story or serve any logical purpose within the context of the film. It was just horrible, and it took a film that would've just been kind of boring and bland and made me hate it.

I think maybe these rape scenes were in the film (and make no mistake: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo raped and tortured that man, making her just as villainous and disgusting as he was) were to create the illusion of a world where everybody is a sexual predator and where everybody is capable of horrible things. Or maybe director David Fincher and author Stieg Larsson are just creepy, weird perverts.

The mystery elements of the story were a lot better, at least the parts following Daniel Craig as he attempts to research and solve a murder from 40 years in the past. One the Girl shows up as his research assistant, it gets kind of dumb and loses focus, since her computer hacking and research skills border on the supernatural. This is one of those movies where there is nothing a hacker isn't able to do or find out just by typing a couple keystrokes on her macbook. She even manages to hack into a steal account and password numbers from a few dozen Swiss bank accounts, which raises the question of why she even has a job in the first place. Oh, and then the slow-paced, dialogue-driven mystery story culminates in a ridiculously over the top motorcycle chase scene.

Except that didn't actually "culminate" anything, since the film went on for another half hour or so even after the mystery was solved and any interest any audience member could've possibly had in the film vanished. Seriously, did anybody who saw this film not think it could've ended twenty minutes sooner?

But don't take my word for it, since everybody who read the books and saw the original films loved them all. I didn't think it was a bad film, I just kind of hated it. I found it incredibly disturbing, but it never earned the right or proved to me that it served any purpose at all. I didn't like the characters and I found the entire world-view presented to be so nihilistic and depressing and cold that it bored on the ridiculous. In other words, it's your typical David Fincher film.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Trailer

I suppose I should've waited to do my trailer round-up, since the Hobbit trailer was released online just a few hours later. Anyway, here it is, and it looks good!

I had a lot of problems with Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy of films, since I'm a huge fan of the novels and he took too many liberties and made too many unnecessary changes that really hurt the overall story and gutted the heart of some of the characters, but this one looks very cool. Also, the original Hobbit novel is more lighthearted and fun than the Lord of the Rings books, so it should be more in line with Jackson's somewhat whimsical film style.

Anyway, I'll see it:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More Movie Trailers

Bored on my day off, so let's watch some more movie trailers:

The Expendables 2
Two words: Hell yes!

Ok, two more words: Chuck Norris!

Ok, two more words: Jean Claude Van Da... wait, how many words is that? Anyway, I'm excited for this one.

Jack the Giant Killer

Does this look awful or kind of good? I can't tell, but I'm leaning toward awful. I mean, a big budget action extravaganza based on Jack and the Beanstalk? I guess if that sounds good to you, this won't disappoint. I'll probably rent it. Maybe.

Wait a minute! This isn't a trailer! This is more like a trailer for a trailer. Anyway, it looks pretty neat, even though Ridley Scott is pretty hit or miss for me, but his films are always interesting anyway. I think maybe I remember reading about how this film started out as a prequel to Alien, but then he changed it up and made it self-contained. Or am I thinking of a different movie? Anyway, I'm interested. I hope there's an actual trailer that comes out soon!

Wrath of the Titans
This might actually be the best trailer I've ever seen. I'm sure the movie is going to be really stupid, but boy is that a cool trailer. I'll definitely see this one, not only because it looks pretty awesome but also because I saw the first one in the theater so I have no reason to skip this one, since they look to be pretty much the same movie. This one looks like it has more monsters in it though.

Casa de me Padre
I have no idea what this is supposed to be, but I'm pretty sure I'm not interested.

Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie
From the blurb on the website:

"An all new feature film from the twisted minds of cult comedy heroes Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim."

I've never heard of these people, and judging from this trailer, I'm going to take "cult comedy heroes" to mean, "a couple of guys who aren't funny."

No interest in this one at all, but good luck to them, whoever they are.

Rock of Ages
I'm sure some people will think this looks like fun. I'm not one of those people.

Min in Black 3
Seems like too much time has passed for this to be the least bit relevant or welcome... but it looks like fun to me. I'll rent it for sure.

Titanic: 3-D
Why not? I can't wait to see that nude scene in 3-D!

Mirror Mirror
This looks obnoxious and nowhere near as cool as the that other film based on Snow White.

Peter Facinelli is my boy, and this does look kind of entertaining, but come on! Loosies? That's the worst title I've ever heard. I'll rent it. Maybe.

The Dark Knight Rises
I'm pretty sure I'm the only person on the planet who hated both Batman Begins and its sequel, so I'm probably the only person on the planet who isn't excited to see this third (and final?) entry in Christopher Nolan's Batman series of films. This trailer didn't change my mind, since it looks just as pretentious, boring, and downright un-Batman-like as the previous two films. I'm gonna sit this one out.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top 40 Guilty Pleasure Songs From the 90s

This took forever to put together and edit and finish, and I honestly have no idea why I even went to the trouble. I just had the idea one afternoon, and I couldn't rest until I finished it. Too bad my passion and dedication is limited to creating dumb Youtube videos and not, say, a cure for cancer, but such is my gift... such is my curse.

Anyway, if you like 90s music, check it out. If you don't, why are we friends?

(Oh... and SPOILER WARNING!! The Youtube thumbnail gave away that I ranked Mr Lover Man by Shabba Ranks at #22.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Quick Reviews

I am currently without internet until later next week (I'm switching my service from one company to another, and due to some poor planning on my part along with some incorrect info given to me by my previous company, I have week-long window with no service), so I'm just going to quickly post some comments on what I've done or watched lately as long as I'm at a coffee shop using wi-fi:

The Mechanic
I remember when the trailer for this came out and I thought it looked interesting, but then I never heard about it again and I forgot this movie existed. Then I saw it in my Netflix recommendations (probably because I give every Jason Statham movie five stars), and figured I'd check it out. Long story short... this movie is awesome and has quickly made me realized that when Statham makes a movie, I just need to go see it in the theater no questions asked.

This is an action-packed thriller about a hitman (Statham) who attempts to train the son of one of his victims, played by Ben Foster and Donald Sutherland respectively. But as action-packed as it is, it's pretty slow-paced and thoughtful for a Jason Statham movie. He never shoves a shotgun up some guy's ass or has intercourse with his girlfriend in the middle of the track during a horse race. I don't know if this will make sense, but The Mechanic is kind of a real movie that didn't seem written for Jason Statham, and Robert DeNiro or any other good actor could've been cast. Lucky for us, of course, that it stars Statham, since he's awesome. Oh, and so is his co-star Ben Foster, an actor I've always liked but never took for much of an action star. Would you believe me if I told you that the absolute best fight scene in this movie was Foster's and not Statham's? You'll know it when you see it.

I don't want to say too much about it since the story is full of interested twists and turns, but I will say that it's fantastic, entertaining, and a lot of fun. Check it out.

Super 8
This one probably deserves a longer, full review, if only because it was a huge summer hit and so beloved by critics and audience members alike. Well... I wasn't one of them. I just thought it was ok.

Look, I don't want to spoil anybody's fun by saying I didn't like this movie, since it was slick, clever, and well intentioned, but I also thought it was kind of pointless and boring. As an homage to the early 80s films directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, it works great, but all things considered, I'd rather just rewatch E.T. or The Goonies than some movie that's trying desperately to be like E.T. or The Goonies. I grew up on the movies Super 8 tried to emulate, so I respected what it was doing and did feel a certain kind of nostalgia, but ultimately it just made me want to rewatch the original films that first used these concepts, and to better effect and in more satisfying ways.

And, to be sure, the above paragraph was be being nice and open-minded. If somebody else wanted to comment that Super 8 was less of an homage of Spielberg's films and more of an out-right rip-off, you'd get no argument from me.

But forgetting all that, you might wonder how the movie stands on its own. And, as I said, it's ok. The cast is great, the acting is first-rate (especially by all the kids), and the special effects are about as good as you'll ever seen, but there was no real story or plot to speak of. It was two hours of build up to a five minute finale that felt flat and boring. Toward the end I stop caring about any of these characters and just wanted it to be over already.

But don't take my word for it, since a lot of people loved it. 

I'm not going to say much about this series, since I'm currently in the middle of season 2 and would rather review it after I've finished the entire run that's available on DVD since I have a lot to say about it, but it's so good I had to give it a mention all the same.

Damages, ostensibly a legal thriller starring Glen Close as a lawyer who specializes in class-action lawsuits against giant corporations, is one of the best TV shows I've seen in a long time. Just... go watch it. You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I have been a life-long James Bond fan since before I can even remember, but I'm a little ashamed to admit that I've only recently read my first James Bond novel. I have tried reading the original stories by Ian Fleming over the years, but for whatever reason I was never able to get into them, maybe because they were a little too dry and cold while the movies were over the top and exciting. I finally decided to give the series of books and stories another try because I'm planning a big James Bond movie review marathon at some point in the future and wanted to immerse myself as much as possible in the entire mythology, both cinematic and literary. I wanted to start with Casino Royale and work my way through the series chronologically, but I found a copy of Goldfinger for a dollar at my local used book store, so I started there.

And boy was this book awful.

Of course, Goldfinger is probably the best James Bond film ever made -- which makes it one of my picks for all time best movie ever -- so it had a lot to live up to since my expectations were so high. But then again, isn't the original book always better? Well, not in this case. I quickly discovered early on that Goldfinger might have been the best adaptation from page to screen in the history of film. Fleming may very well be a wonderful writer whose work I won't judge until I've read more, but it was clear that he had an idea for a wonderful villain and an overall concept but lacked any idea of what to do with these things in any real, satisfying way. Frankly, this novel is just a mess.

To begin with, it's so full of plot contrivances, coincidences, and simply unbelievable ideas. This novel opens with Bond accidentally running into some former acquaintance who asks to help him figure out how Goldfinger is cheating at their regular game of bridge, and then, after doing so, Bond is asked by M (his superior at British Intelligence) to look into Goldfinger's smuggling operation. Come on! The film fixes this ridiculous coincidence by having Bond assigned to Goldfinger first, and then using the fixed bridge game as their first introduction. Throughout, the novel is filled with these kinds of plot contrivances and logical oversights that the film smooths out and fixes with just minor changes.

Here's another example: Remember that iconic scene in the film where James Bond is bound to a table and about to be split in two with a giant laser, and he only manages to free himself by outsmarting Goldfinger with a bluff about Operation Grand Slam? Well, in the novel the scene is almost identical, but it doesn't end with Bond saving himself, but with Goldfinger simply deciding not to kill him at all, because he never intended to in the first place. In fact, almost every scene in this novel where Bond almost dies, he is repeatedly saved by another character or some other insane plot device that has you wondering why this stooge is out main character at all. 

And even forgetting the bad plotting and poor writing, but this novel is also incredibly dated, racist, and sexist. I don't want to judge a date novel by current sociological standards, but I find it hard to believe that even in the 50s and 60s people wouldn't have taken issue with how Fleming talks about women, lesbians, and Koreans. Both Goldfinger (or villain) and Bond (our hero) discuss at great lengths how Koreans are a degenerate, evil race of ruthless savages. At one point, Goldfinger rewards his Korean manservant Odd Job by letting him eat his pet cat. I was also surprised to learn than in this novel, Pussy Galore is a lesbian. Well... sort of. It becomes clear that neither Bond the character nor Fleming the writer actually believe that lesbians actually exist, because she ends up having sex with James Bond at the end anyway. She gives some nonsensical explanation that she always thought she didn't like men, but it was just that she had never met one until James Bond came along. Ugh.

I can only assume that by the time this novel was published, Fleming had become so popular and powerful a force in the publishing industry that he no longer allowed for any kind of editorial oversight. I honestly can't imagine any other way such a bad book could get published with some many problems that would've been easy to change. Skip the novel and watch the movie, since the bad book was somehow turned into a wonderful film.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Conan the Barbarian

Boy, nobody liked this one.

I'm a huge fan of Conan (the original stories by Robert E. Howard as well as the films from the 80s and the Marvel comics), so I was looking forward to it, but I never got around to seeing it in the theater. I was just too busy, I tried to see it with my friend Darryl and our schedules never lined up during this film's release, and, frankly, the overly negative reviews took away some of the shine. After all, that Conan TV series was bad enough, and I didn't need to sit though a feature length film that was just as bad or worse. As I said, everybody hated this movie, from the critics to the commenters on the IMDB immediately after it was released.

Here's the thing: If you saw this movie in theater after watching the trailer and didn't end up liking, you're just a friggin' idiot. This movie was basically a feature length version of the theatrical trailer. If you enjoyed the trailer enough to see the movie, there was no reason why you wouldn't like the movie itself. In fact, there was no reason why you shouldn't even like this movie better than the trailer, since it had way more gore and boobs and other stuff you can't put in the trailer. Granted, saying a movie feels like a feature length trailer isn't necessarily a good thing, but it's not all together a bad thing either, especially not when you're talking about a movie like Conan the Barbarian.

Long story short: This movie was awesome, and all those people who said it sucked can go eat my shorts.

I'm not going to say this was a masterpiece or recommend it for everybody, but if you are the kind of person who'd be interested in seeing a movie based on Conan, this was a pretty good one. The special effects and sets were outstanding, the action set pieces were a lot of fun, the cast was pretty cool, and there was lots of gore and ridiculously over the top sequences. It was also a pretty good Conan movie, looking at it as an adaptation of the stories by Robert E. Howard, of which I am a big fan. The character was pretty well represented, and they made him smart and well spoken as well as strong and fierce as he is in the stories, and the setting and universe seemed pretty much perfectly captured. The story was a bit weak and hard to follow but it was never boring or so confusing it became a chore to watch.

Was it as good as the 1982 version starring Arnold Schwarzenegger? Probably not, but it's maybe more faithful to the original stories if that means anything. John Milius is a better director than Marcus Nispel (whoever that is?), so the '82 film had a bit more depth, was more thoughtful, and seemed to have an actual story with a real character arc for the titular character. This 2011 version doesn't have any depth and the main character arc is tacked on and confusing, but it does have better special effects, a story that is more epic in scope and scale, and a vision of the Hyborean world that was just awesome. Also, Jason Momoa is probably a better actor and more handsome than Arnold was, but he lacks the star quality. The original Conan film turned Arnold into the biggest star in the world, but I don't think the same will happen to this new guy, even though he was perfectly decent as Conan.

So... check it out if you've been wondering if it's good. Well, maybe I shouldn't say good, since that word carries a lot of weight and can be so subjective. I should just say... check it out if you've been wanting to watch a movie where Conan slices up lots of bad guys and monsters and witches. Why did I even write this whole reviews when I should've just said that?