Sunday, May 4, 2008

Iron Man

Finally! A summer popcorn movie with substance, action, intelligent dialogue, and rounded characters. Somebody pinch me! Not since Shawna and I started SisterCritics in the late 90's have I looked forward to the summer movie schedule. Iron Man does a great job of Zamboni-ing the ice for the rest of the summer films to follow. The film takes its time to build Stark's character and set the tone for the rest of the film. Usually we open with Batman taking down a bad guy and then into the lair, but here, we see Clark Kent in his element until forced to find a phone booth. Favreau treated the script like a screenplay and not like an interpretation of a comic book. This is a film that happens to be about a superhero, not a superhero movie.

As a Robert Downey Jr. fan, I was sure he was going to be able to pull of the Stark portion of his dual personality - a womanizing, alcoholic, sarcastic, wealthy public figure, ahem, who finds himself needing a reality check and a change of priorities. Robert did a convincing job at both angles and, granted, he was hiding behind layers of CGI and plastic molding for a majority of the butt kickings, but he was still able to pull of a pathos necessary in the super hero. There's only two movies I can tolerate Gwyneth Paltrow in - SEVEN and ROYAL TENENBAUMS, but I'll give credit where it's due and say she did a good enough job with the Pepper Potts role that I didn't notice or hate her. Praise indeed to be sure.

However, the true heroes and the best part of the film were Stark's robots in the lab. I could have watched hours of him chastising and praising the Laurel and Hardy pals (hence the reason SHORT CIRCUIT was ever successful and why WALL-E will be a hit). The biggest laugh in the Cinerama dome Saturday night was based off of a fire extinguisher gag - simple but perfectly hilarious. I don't know about you, but it was nearly impossible to watch the Islamic terrorists speak and not hear South Park-ease in my head. I dare you to watch the scene where they find the Iron Man mask in the sand and NOT hear "durka durka jihad kerblakablah".

Looking at the Box Office from the past weekend, you've probably already seen Iron Man 10 times. If not, grab some popcorn and just sit back for a funny action packed movie with a little Suicidal Tenancies thrown in. (The band not a reaction you would have viewing the film I hope)

Monday, April 7, 2008


Booker Brooks, lest we forget.

I had all but prepared for the consistent Clooney head tilt/tick and the squinty Zellweger optical issue, even allowing Clooney a pass under the "promising Director" category for his fine work on CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND. Unfortunately, my preparations were frivolous and naive as 5 minutes into LEATHERHEADS, I was overcome with the feeling of uncomfortable fidgeting and the feeble attempt to remain interested. (Sidenote: I just watched JOHN ADAMS pt. 5 and am noticing my grammar is in it's utmost and proper English form tonight - bear with me). It seems Clooney was inspired by Howard Hawks ability to direct the rapid fire screwball comedy HIS GIRL FRIDAY and decided the public's endearing, "this generation's Cary Grant" title was reason enough for such an undertaking. Well public, I have a bone to pick with you. There is no actor who can compare with Grant's charm, acting chops, physicality, sense of humor, timing, let alone, his attractiveness whether young (HOLIDAY) or old (see FATHER GOOSE and try to tell me otherwise). So let's not be so quick to toss someone when his hair is parted just right and slicked back with the appropriate amount of product, somewhat resembles the debonair Grant, into the same league. He will always be "that guy who played Booker on ROSEANNE" to me.

Now. That being said, I would never suggest that Clooney hasn't found his sea legs and performed pitch perfect in OH BROTHER WHERE ART THOU? and MICHAEL CLAYTON. He's in his element in both films surrounded by writer/directors who are able to balance the fine art of their prose with some nifty camera angles. Clooney is his best when he is an actor or a director, but after seeing his latest opus, never should he bother to overburden himself with both heady tasks.

Whoever decided to insert grainy sepia toned still shots into the intro, I'd like to pick your brain and hear how you believed such a stutter step type device was helping to keep up with the fast paced consistency of the manly football game. Every "snapshot" gave us the audience, I'm averaging, about 2 minutes to properly stare at the image while listening to the hokey 1920's music in order for us to completely be indoctrinated into this time period. OR ELSE. The torturous intro aside, we were quickly shoved into the newspaper setting where we were asked to completely ignore Zellweger's inability to match Rosalind Russell's timing and good natured ribbing and just stare at that funny hat she had on. It's got a feather! See? That's comedy! Sigh.

Bear in mind, we're merely 10 minutes into the film by now. I'll do you the favor and not bore you with the next 40 minutes of detail, but just know that the set up is based on Zellweger's character getting the real dirt on Krasinski's wartime hero all American character, but at the same time, Clooney's character has devised a plan to enlist Krasinski into pro football in hopes to turn around the laughable league. Oh no! Two people depending on opposing outcomes! Never fear, we'll forget that completely tangible and understandable plot point and just make it about a love triangle. Zellweger falls for the adorable Krasinski while making googly eyes at Clooney who'd like to snag the snarky news gal for himself. Yadablahetc...

The movie is boring. It's not really about the rise of the pro football league. It's not really about war heroes and the tawdry efforts of the press to ruin everyone. It's not really about college students taking a risk on their livelihoods to join the pros. I think, albeit a hack attempt, it's about the importance of change, and the wisdom, and sometimes fear, that older men have about becoming extinct. It's about giving a nod to American troops, yet suggesting "the truth is out there". The edits are excruciatingly slow and the Commissioner scene was directed and cut with importance, as if we were watching the Constitution of the United States being signed. I'll leave it for you to decide if Clooney actually resorted to an obvious head nod in a train scene to direct an actor when to stand up. Don't worry, that sounds covert, but as evidenced by B.O grosses, you'll be renting this and have plenty of time to catch the obvious cue.

Sports fans, watch ESPN Classic. Screwball comedy fans, watch TCM. Romantic comedy fans, watch WE. There's better judgement and levity in an hour long episode of LITTLE PEOPLE, BIG WORLD than there was in this fumbletastic film.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Drillbit Taylor

I tried very hard to watch this movie with the mindset of my pre-teen's - every sarcastic comeback is probably hilarious that I'd be using by week's end, and every scene with the adults was no doubt boring, but slightly entertaining. This worked for the most part, but even at 13 I would have noticed the eerily similar plot structure and tone that DRILLBIT TAYLOR has in common with SCHOOL OF ROCK. Let me share the similarities:

In School of Rock, Jack Black pretends to be a substitute teacher.
In Drillbit Taylor, Owen Wilson pretends to be a substitute teacher.
In School of Rock, Jack is using the kids for his own rockstar purposes.
In Drillbit Taylor, Owen is using the kids for his own financial purposes.
In School of Rock, Jack teaches the kids how to play instruments and be a rock band.
In Drillbit Taylor, Owen teaches the kids how to stand up for themselves and self defence.
In School of Rock, Jack uses the quirky false name (albeit his roommate's) of Ned Schneebly.
In Drillbit Taylor, Owen uses the quirky false name of Dr. Ill Bit (I kid you not).
In both films, the kids turn their back on their mentors only to turn around and use their new found knowledge to overcome an obstacle, and eventually forgive their false hero's.

I could go on and on, but I think it's obvious that the framework had been set for DRILLBIT TAYLOR, Owen just had to show up and do his BOTTLE ROCKET/Dupree character again and keep it PG-13. But hey, if it ain't broke...

The kids, on the other hand, were actually funny and genuine - I especially loved the various musical theater t-shirts that Emmet modeled. They felt a bit naive and sweet, which in today's world, is refreshing as the younger generation is always shown as advanced beyond their years and angry.

I'm positive that Apatow and his Rogan disciples have completely no clue about writing strong, realistic female characters. The KNOCKED UP controversy (SHE would never date HIM) can now take a back seat to the hacky placement of Apatow's wife, Leslie Mann, in a decidedly idiotic teacher role. Her entire relationship with Drillbit is based off of her seeing him steal items from the teachers lounge and then immediate chemistry and the unbelievable allowance that she would buy the obviously made up Dr. Ill Bit name. Slapstick aside, perhaps we'd suspend disbelief that this wacked out teacher would like him, let alone, stay with him through a prison sentence were we given ANY sort of introduction to her character beforehand. All the guys are given a proper set up - heck even Danny McBride (who's hillarious) has a bigger character arc than Leslie Mann's character (who's name I can't remember and am not sure they even gave).

A netflix rental for those morbid people who want to see the pre-incident Owen Wilson and try to dissect if this movie had anything to do with said incident. Also a rental for anyone looking for a few cheap laughs and I'm positive a ton of extras that showcase the obviously cut for time material throughout. They did an edit hack job on the third act that I'm not sure even Steve Brill could recognize the remains. As for the theater, go if you're 13, stay home if you're 30.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


An open letter to Will Ferrell

Dear Will,

This is not an easy letter for me to write. You know how much I love you. I heart your brand of wacky humor more than I love a Venti Latte. And that's a lot. But now, I think you are hurting yourself. Now, I don't have a problem per se' with you tackling one high concept character after another, surrounding yourself with other comedic geniuses and tossing in meager story, just for kicks. But your new film, "Semi-Pro" takes this to a whole new level, and I'm not sure you even bothered with the story this time.

You play Jackie Moon, a strange entrepreneur with a bizarre "hit" single "Love Sexy" (which gets played no less than 5 times in the course of the film). Jackie buys a lesser team of the ABA, the Flint Tropics and becomes the owner/coach/promoter/announcer/player he always dreamed of. If this movie had been about you and your journey, a la "Anchorman" or "Talladega Nights" I don't think I'd have a problem. But, this story isn't about Jackie Moon.

It's about Monix.

Monix -- played by Woody Harrelson, is a washed up bench rider from the NBA, who has a championship ring he never earned, and has a lot to prove. Of course, I got no real introduction to the character...let me rephrase, I got an introduction. Jackie Moon introduces Monix to this Tropics team and basically tells me, the audience "hi, this is a new character, and you don't know this but he's actually the main character, even though you thought it was me. Enjoy the veal."

You can imagine my confusion and consternation when the story suddenly shifted and I wasn't sure who I was supposed to be following.

Will, you are funny. You deserve to be the main character in a movie like this. But in this movie...well, the story was either a distraction from you, or you were a distraction from the story.

I know what you're thinking right now. You want to say "relax, sugar-mammaries, it's just a goofy comedy!" It is a goofy comedy, you're right about that! And there are some high-larious moments, moments as good, and a few even better, than some in previously mentioned films in your oeuvre. The card-playing scene. Bear wrestling. Ridiculous costumed choreography. All fine comedic moments.

But the big question, the one I always ask myself at the end of every film, 'Will I want to watch this over and over again?' I can watch 'Anchorman' a lot. Talladega Nights has some good rewatchability to it. This film...I'm just not sure.

So, while I think you are funny and the film is funny in places, as a's not so good. Who knows, maybe I'll change my mind someday. I certainly have before -- a movie grows on a person sometimes, just like kudzu. But for now, I think you and I need a break from each other. It's not you, Will. No tears, my cuddly bear toy. I'll never forget the times we've had. The Ron Burgundy, Frank the Tank, Ricky Bobby fun of it all. And maybe someday, I'll even revisit Jackie Moon, and think fondly on all this, grateful that I gave us another chance.

Until then, stay strong. And classy, San Diego.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Oscarzzzzzz

Get it!?! I added "z's" instead of an "s" cause it's like trying to tell you that the show was boring and I made me sleepy, like when I had a cartoon bubble filled with zzzzzzzzzzz's above my head! It's funny! Just like The OsBores! I could have went with Osbores, so you're welcome!! meh.

I just wanted to voice my extreme happiness that Marion Cotillard won the Best Actress award for her AMAZING portrayal of Edith (in French pronounced strangely Eeedit) Piaf. Even though we here at SisterCritics are tough on the films we see, I'm all for giving credit where it's due, and she deserved that award plus all of Angelina Joile's roles in the future.

Also I wanted to voice my disappointment in seeing American troops showboated in a live feed to announce the anti-war nominated documentaries. Did anyone else feel slimy after that? Heck, even the winners of the award gave the stinkeye to the "fierce" soldier (don't ask don't tell) who announced them. Pro-war or Anti-war, supporting the troops is wholly American and a given, so the haughty Hollywood norm of polite applause was disgusting and disappointing.

As for the low viewership, perhaps that could be fixed by simply NOT showing us hours of clips of old Oscar footage. It only makes us pine for the days Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne were genuinely touched to get an award and the women dressed to impress, not to make the Blackwell list. I'm adamant that younger audiences SHOULD see every old movie possible, but here's a hint Gil Cates - Miley Cyrus alone does not the 13-18 demographic make.

Finally, enough of John Stewart hosting the awards. He's boring, he makes faces instead of jokes, and used to host Short Attention Span Theater on Comedy Central back in the day (reason enough). Ryan Seacrest would do a more sufficient job of keeping the show going. Did anyone see the Indie Spirit Awards? Rainn Wilson killed on that mock Oscars show, why not get him? I'd even prefer Ellen again before having to endure John Stewart's Wii playing filler again.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for the Oscars telecast having watched it every year I can remember. This year Shawna and I even had a party and made up little snacks like "Humble Apple Pie" for Atonement, Milkshakes for There Will Be Blood, and Burgers for the hamburger phone in Juno (a stretch but we needed sustenance). So as long as Hollywood is ready to pat itself on the back, I'll do my due diligence to to show up on my couch with snax and sweatpants dreaming of the day I can be there thanking my parents for not putting me in a mental institution for wanting to be in this crazy industry.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Rambo stars two of my favorite leads - Muscles and Bullets. The death count is somewhere around 236 kills for the short one hour 33 minutes. That's somewhere around 3 deaths per minute - Muscles and Bullets were probably very underpaid for the amount of work produced.

Some people are whinning that there's no story in this Rambo - WHAT? Did no one see the AFRICAN QUEEN? In homage fashion, Rambo, like Humphrey Bogart, is a loner who scoffs at the religious blonde missionary, but is convinced to take her and her crew downriver on his rickety boat. In true Bogart fashion, Rambo isn't about to let the woman down and saves her butt at every given moment even with the other Aryan skinny missionary men give him the stink eye. Rambo doesn't take threats well, but still manages to save the world and probably stop a war (like the vigilante Hepburn and Bogart) and save all their hinders in the end. So, erm, last I checked, helping blonde missionaries and killing bad guys was PLENTY of story, thankyouverymuch.

Ramafrican Queen aside, there's a great deal of rambling "Nothing changes" speeches, exploding heads, I'm guessing mosquitos, and rain. So something for the whole family pretty much. Kudos to Stallone who showed the real horrors of Burma. I seriously don't do well in those humid climates and I'm guessing, language aside, there's not much I have in common with the Burmese people other than that wicker rattan papasan chair I bought at Pier One. So in order to show my solidarity with stopping genicide in Burma, I boycot anything Burma and will only go visit if Stallone promises to carry me piggyback the whole time. Fair?

Obviously, not for kids or anyone who barfs at the sight of blood and people's throats being ripped out - BY RAMBO HAND! Do see it if you want to feel superior to a third world country and can enjoy a great, and simple, 80's style action flick.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


So this one time, I was late to a lunch and I felt soooo sorry, and I just kept apologizing over and over again, but the person I was meeting was so irate, they were like, "whatever, just be on time next time, ok?" I took that to mean I was forgiven, but I sooo wasn't.

So then, like, the *next* time I was late, the person was like, "seriously, do you own a watch?" Clearly I was not forgiven. Sheesh.

Of course, all of this is minutae compared to the humongous error made by a kid in "Atonement" which leads to prison, war, marriage, death...I mean, who knew? Fortunately for me, none of my transgressions of tardiness led to anyone going to jail or being in a war. Then again, I also haven't had the opportunity to indulge in a 5 minute tracking shot of Dunkirk. My life was a little empty until I saw that.

Keira Knightley needs to eat some pie. In fact, I'm thinking of going down to Marie Callender's right now and ordering her one of everything. The girl is a stick figure! At least when she was in "Bend it Like Beckham" she had muscle tone. Now she looks like she could break in half if she were standing in the way of her former soccer (sorry, football) playing self from a few years ago. I will say though, she's got pouty expressions down to a science.

And who knew Mr. Tumnus would be so hot? Actually, several people I know were like, "duh, James McAvoy is the hottest thing ever!" so it was apparently just me who didn't know the utter hotness of Hottie McHotterson.

And clearly Saoirse Ronan, the aforementioned kid with bad eyesight is awesomely good. If she wasn't the film would suck, but she's actually a good child actress, so yay for Saoirse.

I didn't read the book (Books bad! Movies good!) so I have no opinion on how this treats the source material, but I didn't hear too much whining as we left the theater, so it must have been okay.

The movie is very beautiful and it's nominated for lots of awards, so that means it must be good. Because I believe everything I read from other people.

Well, I liked it...I wouldn't say it's a laugh a minute -- it's a drama. You get what you pay for.

Oh and I don't care if you don't like this review. I'm not apologizing for it.

The Savages

Dysfunctional families are the bread and butter of quirky dramas. THE SAVAGES doesn't disappoint in this department. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney play siblings who are both screwed up in their own special ways. To make matters worse, they now have to deal with their father who is suffering dementia, and they face the tough choice of putting him in a nursing home.

It's a downer of a movie at times, no doubt about it. And seeing the scenes of Buffalo, NY in the winter just added to the sense of hopelessness. But the film is worthwhile, not only for the performances, but for what it says about the importance of family.

Here at SisterCritics, family is very important. I felt a real kinship to Laura Linney as she tries to help her brother (Hoffman) with a neck injury. I'm always fixing Julie's neck, and she tells me I should become a massage therapist. Apparently I have "magic fingers".

Living with an adult sibling is an interesting experience. It's like even though you are both older and more mature, there's still this little conditioned Pavlov's Dog part of you that reacts to words/actions of your sibling as if you were both squabbling kids again. This often happens with Julie and I when our discussions about doing the dishes or cleaning the floors turn into American Gladiator-like struggles for dominance.

I usually lose. Just like old times.

But I digress. Fortunately, my sister and I are not faced with horrifying decisions like whether to put our aged parents into a nursing home. Our parents are lively and young, and I wouldn't be surprised if we have to go into some kind of assisted living situation before they do. Hmm, perhaps we are already in assisted living and no one told us....

Right, so "The Savages". Was disappointed that Fred Savage wasn't in the movie. Also not happy that "Macho Man" Randy Savage was not in the film, as I think he would have been a good explanation for Hoffman's neck injury. Seriously, I totally buy the whole 'cousin Randy beat me up again' excuse.

But if I could return to the point of all this, 'The Savages' is a solid, well made film. Good script, good direction and a satisfying film. In its stark honesty there are the moments of levity, which keep you from wanting to jump off a bridge, and it is the humor drawn from the true to life that resonates.

It's good. Go see it. Just don't expect any professional wrestlers or child stars.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


So I've been anxiously awaiting the release of this movie forever. And when I say forever I mean, since I heard about it, which seems like forever ago. One of the few highlights/perks about living in LA has got to be the Mann's Chinese Theater. Not only did we get to see a sold out show with hundreds of other die hards, but there were celebs in attendance! Edgar Wright (director of SHAUN OF THE DEAD), Eli Roth (director of CABIN FEVER) and Diablo Cody (Writer of JUNO) were seen hanging out and saving seats. Also, just two rows behind us - that guy who played Tom Jeter from STUDIO 60! So beat that crappy AMC somewhere in the middle of Illinois! Ahem, but the real stars of the night were sitting in the seats next and behind us - the Bad Robot crew themselves! Shawna and I were invited by my friend (also the Associate Producer - ooh la la!) to join a bunch of them to see the film together. So what was already panning out to be the best evening ever was enhanced by our geek estrogen in love with all of these guys. I can't tell you the little hints and secrets here and there that we were privy to, but needless to say, all of these guys are cool and uber talented.

So the movie. Oh first - we got to see the STAR TREK trailer which rocked - a very origin story feeling with shots of the Enterprise at the futuristic Midas getting it's brake pads repaired. But again, I digress. The movie. Although some may get overly dizzy from motion sickness (ahem, my boyfriend), some of us were unfazed by the shaky cam and too enthralled with the death and destruction to be bothered. However, I was disturbed by one glaring problem with the film - The monster has feelings too people!

I mean, he gets shot down by a meteorite (watch for it in the end) not only onto a strange new planet, but in downtown Manhattan - of course he was scared! Are we supposed to judge his erratic behaviour as anything more than what Britney Spears gets away with on any given afternoon on the Los Angeles freeways? The monster was simply trying to get back to the apartment building of the girl of his dreams. He just got a bit lost in between all the similar looking architecture and skyscrapers! This is really a story of two men on the search for love - one man, one monster, one woman. At the end, when finally almost back to Central Park, the stupid human man gets to the girl first when we all know the monster could have easily pulled her out of the toppling building with much more efficiency and safety. And then there's the military - back off ok? I'm pretty sure you guys were just making it worse. A slew of projectile missiles went veering into the buildings no where near the GIANT monster - where did you guys learn to aim? And besides, you're just ticking him off, literally! All those little tick like monsters that fell off - they were not happy either I'm sure. So when we all sit and cheer for the demise of a poor little monster stuck in the middle of a congested city, I think we all need to stop and reanalyze our priorities.

But in all seriousness this movie is a great fun super ride that is short and sweet and full of scares! It even features great homages (intentional?) to GHOSTBUSTERS when the small group walk 30 some odd flights of stairs to reach one of their would be girlfriend's apartments. There were 22 flights to be exact in GHOSTBUSTERS, but the exhaustion was no doubt similar. The monster was destroying New York willy nilly in the same vein of the Stay Puft Marshmallow man, only lacked the grin and a sailor boy hat - actually he was pretty grumpy and accessory free.

All in all, a great Monster movie from the fleeing hoard perspective. Take a Dramamine, get some popcorn, and just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Monday, January 14, 2008

In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

In the Name of God, DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE. No, seriously. Don't see it.

What's that, you say? It's Jason Statham? Yes, but he's SLEEPWALKING. And he does some kick-ass fighting, but that seems to be the only time he's half awake.

What about John-Rhys Davies? The sadness in his puppy dog eyes speaks volumes. In fact I think I heard him say as he was riding a horse around "Remember when I got shrunk to dwarf size and had prosthetics slapped on my face for Peter Jackson? Remember how much more fabulous New Zealand was over Croatia? Good times...good times.

If you tell me that Burt Reynolds was a factor in considering this film, I kill you dead. Seriously, Burt doesn't look too bad, but that facelift looks better when he's laying down. He should have been laying down for the whole film, because his face looked very squished when he wore a helmet. Oh, and the hair dye for the beard and brows has to go (Thanks to Christian for noticing that little detail).

Hmm? Oh, you were jazzed about Claire Forlani and Leelee Sobieski? They were not jazzed about doing this movie. My comrades in torture mused whether there were any AA meetings needed after the film wrapped, because we think that alcoholics were born on set, trying to numb the pain of their lines with the sweet nectar of a few flowers. Leelee looks drugged, and poor Claire looks very distressed to be so far away from a day spa. I hope the paychecks were good.

Okay, lets face some facts, people. UWE BOLL. Do I have to say anything else? At least Matthew Lillard as a fey Duke had some fun on screen, but honestly, it was painful for me to think that Ron Perlman, who gets one of those rare chances to be seen onscreen without any makeup or prosthetics is reduced to walking a pig around (okay, it's only for a few minutes, but you get my point).

But wait! Kristanna Lokken is in it! Yeah, as part of the Cirque du Soleil troupe living in the trees. "We stay out of the affairs of men." As one of our filmgoing gang noted, "Their non-pacifism confused me." Meaning, they were all like "Get the heck out of our forest, Jason Statham and Ron Perlman and that other guy with dreadlocky hair and don't bother us...we're all girl power and stuff and boys are icky." And then by the end of the movie they were all like "yeah, okay you lived through two-thirds of the movie and even though the weirdo people controlled by Ray Liotta in his personal fog machine didn't bother us PERSONALLY, we'll like, throw in and help you out and stuff, because, you know, what the hell, right?"

Ninjas! I kid you not. There. Were. NINJAS.

*sigh* Yes, I just mentioned Ray Liotta, but there's a special place in film hell waiting for poor Ray. Imagine "Goodfellas" Ray for a second. Yeah...young, cute, piercing blue eyes, world on a platter. Okay, now Ray in this film...imagine, face-lifted, macking on Leelee (I audibly cried "Ew!" when he kissed her full on the mouth with what is left of his lips), and stockholder in the wind machine/dry ice companies. Oh but the blue eyes are still awesome.

Let's see...what am I missing? Oh yeah. The movie is about a Dungeon Siege, right? By my count, the actual siege of the dungeon is done by 4 people. Who all go in separately! Apparently they had to wait about five minutes after someone else would go in. I don't know if the place was at capacity and one more person being in there would violate some fire codes, but it must have been a pretty strict rule to keep them going in solo.

Let's talk battle strategy for a second. Okay, you as a powerful magic guy *Ray Liotta I'm looking at you* control a mindless army of Orcs...I mean, Krugs, and you outnumber the good guys about 4 to 1. But, you are in front of a dungeon. Catapults, fiery stuff, lots of manpower. Okay, so you've got to charge uphill. Bummer, right? But you still have like a gazillion Krugs, so no problem right? At what point in military strategy is it ever a good idea to make it rain on your army? Because then your mindless dudes, who, I think it's already pretty well implied DON'T HAVE ANY BRAINS OF THEIR OWN, start sliding backward on mud.

Okay, so magic dude isn't a brilliant military strategist. But what about our plucky army, sitting pretty at top of hill in the rain? You know, it'd be awesome to give up your position by charging down the hill toward the idiots scrabbling through the mud so you can die faster.

Now, why am I telling you all this? Because the palette of the film and the camerawork make it neigh impossible to figure out just what the heck you are watching at any given moment. During well choreographed fight scenes (or at least the ones that appear to be pretty good) Uwe and his DP apparently have ADD and don't want us to enjoy the skill and mastery in the fighting, because suddenly, in the middle of the scene, the camera will swing around wildly, barely tracking the action as if one of them said "hey, point the camera over there! I think I saw a Leprechaun!" And those are the scenes that are in focus.

Still not convinced? If you can endure the 2 hour 7 minute run time (supposedly we are denied another half hour of this greatness due to us being Americans -- those lucky Germans!) then you will be treated to the best rock songs ever written for a medieval fantasy film. Seriously epic.

This movie is full of FAIL. Lots of it. It isn't even a so bad it's funny film, it's a so bad it's really bad and kind of painful film.

If you have a death wish, or perhaps are trying to sleep for two hours (inadvisable due to noisy clashing of swords) by all means, this is your movie.

But, seriously, just don't. Okay? For me? 'Kay Thx Bai

Sunday, January 13, 2008

There Will Be Blood

I'm going to get a lot of heat for this review as it's not all butt kissy like all the reviews (I've not really read but inferred from) and critical praise TWBB has been getting. I liked it, but I was a bit "meh" about the whole 2 hour 38 minute affair.

Good points:
  • Daniel Day Lewis's accent and intricate performance.

  • That mute kid from LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE gets to talk in this one - and sometimes LOUDLY!

  • Capitalism is King!

  • That beatnik guy from PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED can still get work and was all thin and wirery and good.

  • Daniel Day Lewis gets to kill people and be all "I'm better and smarter than you and I control who lives and who dies!"

  • The guy (not Thom York)from Radiohead did the musical score.

  • It's sorta like GIANT.

Stuff that bugged me:

  • Very few, if any, memorable female characters featured at all in the film. Not that I'm a feminist, but would a Maureen O'Hara fiery red head type have KILLED anyone?
  • Lewis' evil capitalist pig character who gives financial sermons to the uneducated masses before buying out their land juxtaposed with a minister who sermons to the uneducated masses is a MUCH more interesting way into those characters and full of conflict. However we're never given the scene where the minister shows up to preaches the dangers of the oil mine (or whatever you call it) to his flock. We're meant to believe it's a wink wink inside struggle between only these two. Where was the rest of the town? It's hard to believe a tight knit Christian community wouldn't stand together in solidarity against Lewis and his men.

  • Daniel Day Lewis' character goes from 0 to 60 in terms of bi-polar behavior. One minute he's Charles Foster Kane building his empire and leaving the masses in his wake, the next a tender surrogate father who rescues his would be son from an oily geyser, only to transform again into a monster who mocks his deaf fake son. I'm all good with layered characters who aren't JUST good and JUST bad, but come on! The fine line between lunacy and lucrative was blurred and unfairly justified.

  • The musical score, albeit cool and David Byrne like, at times was confused and built to a bombastic frenzy only to end with something as soft and subtle on screen as a child sleeping. The music kept bringing me to a boil and then going, "oh wait, never mind, that action scene is later, carry on."

  • It was sorta like GIANT, but lacked a traditional narrative and only a handful of story lines to follow (rather than the kitchen sink approach).

Now, don't get me wrong, this is a good movie. It will wins lots of awards and continue to put Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day Lewis to work. This movie makes up for Magnolia for me - sorry if you thought that was the end all be all, but I still can't sit through that movie for more than the beginning and the frog shower end. However, it's not without its story flaws, which, for the most part give me the notion that Anderson has no one giving him notes at the studio level. If you're going to give these writer/directors free reign, that's to be expected, but as the great T.S Elliot said, ""Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers."

As the imaginary creative exec on this project, amongst the aforementioned items, I would have also suggested we see more of the outside world in the final 40 minute sequence. When the newly married deaf son comes back to Lewis and suggests he might like to start his own business. Show don't tell! I'd have given my left arm to see a shot that matched Lewis's opening scene mining solo, but now his son, digging away in Mexico. Only here we have hope that not only has the "son" learned how to run a business, he's learned how NOT to run an empire. Like father, like son, think about it won't you? In other words, Orson Wells felt it was more important to show Xanadu towering over us from a distance rather than keep us in the stately bathroom.

Go give it a whirl, if you're lucky enough to live in a town playing this rather arthouse piece. If not, Netflix it and enjoy the plethora of extras that will no doubt accompany the disc explaining the dangers of oil for money and how this was really an allegory for the greedy Bush administration. Only, wouldn't it be safer to drill in Alaska where very few people live to be bought out and killed by "the man"? No, you're right, let's continue to allow rich Saudi debutants live their debaucherous lives in the Hollywood nightclubs via our Shell Station contribution to their expense accounts. Woah, sorry for the political diatribe, back to happy fun time movie riffing to help bridge the red and blue gap back to a pretty purple.

Sweeney Todd

This film starred Johnny Depp. Nuff said.

OK OK, AND it was directed by genius extraordinaire Tim Burton.

Still need more reasons to see it? Sigh. You people are tearing me apart!!!

Sweeney Todd is not a musical, but rather, an operetta since it's more narrative and character building in it's musical numbers instead of "Go Go Go Greased Lightning". It's a dark foreboding tale of mistaken identities, unabashed revenge, and cleavage. I'm positive that were I to push my chesticles up to my neck I too could sing notes in the uppermost of range that would make Mr. Sondheim proud. Never fear, the men are squeezed down below where the costume designers had a field day with inseams and prosthetics.

Aside from bulges and lyrics, the overall look of the film is downright Burtonesque. Not since Merry Poppins has there been this much soot and dropping of "h's". It's dark and dirty look only helps highlight the disgusting secrets hiding out in the barber/pie shop. Depp and H.B. Carter are a match made in pasty heaven and their chemistry and chops help move the story at times even more than the whirlwind soundtrack. Alan Rickman is pitch perfect in his all too practiced upper class snobbery. And then there's the romance. To me, this is where the movie falls short.

I believe Burton was burdened with having to cut a great deal from the original musical and in turn lost the "so what" factor in the young lovers romance. The love songs are beautiful, but with little to no dialogue between them, we're meant to catch onto their love at first sight affair and care. (look out I'm starting to rhyme) Problem was that I didn't. Depp and H.B. Carter are far more interesting and anti-romantic and overshadow the fresh faced youngsters. By the end, I was hoping the two would die Romeo and Juliet style making for some great pies that would last at least a week.

If you were able to sit through John Travolta's obnoxious, indeterminate, and fluctuating accent in HAIRSPRAY, you should have no problem enjoying perfected British accents and a bit of fakey blood splatter. In fact, HAIRSPRAY would have been a great title for SWEENEY TODD in reference to the after effects his close trims give his customers. I'm here all week, enjoy the buffet.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Julie's Top Ten of 2007

I saw a handful more movies than Shawna did this year, but here's my list of my monkey paw picked favorites (#1 also being favoritest).

10. Lars and the Real Girl
9. The Darjeeling Limited
8. Zodiac
7. Juno
6. Waitress / Eagle vs. Shark (tie)
5. Sweeney Todd
4. Hot Fuzz
3. 300
2. The Assassination of Jesse James...
1. No Country For Old Men

I give Enchanted an honorary mention for being the feel good family movie of 2007.