Monday, June 30, 2008

Best Poster - Worst Movie: Harold


Oh, sweet Moses. This is the best poster I've ever seen.

I went to the film's website and watched the trailer.
This movie looks awful.


The plot: A 14-year-old attempts to cope with going bald.

The cast:
The kid from Disney's The Kid, the girl from Hairspray, Ally Sheedy, and everyone's favorite "why the hell is he in this movie?" actor, Cuba Gooding Jr.

The trailer: Embarrassing "take off your hat in class" scene. Check. School shooting joke. Check. Bald kid getting pantsed. Check. Rectal exam. Check. Child molestation joke. Check. Go-kart race. Check. Old woman mistaking the boy's age for his penis length. Check. Cuba Gooding Jr. doing the cabbage patch. Check.


It's official. Great looking poster, terrible looking movie. Shame.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Muchos Gracias

Seeing as Saturday is usually my highest traffic day I decided this was the day for praise and a little promotion for some great blogs. Here's a huge, mega-thanks to Kaleen, Marilyn, Kim, Megan, Daniel G., Rachel, Fletch, K. Bowen, Derek, Godard, Rick Olsen, Joe, Piper, Rob, and Taylor for leaving the most awesome comments this blog has ever seen. Thanks everyone, it made my month! Everyone else, go click on these links and read their blogs, they're pretty much amazing.




Here are the results from this week's poll question:
* It's doing great! Don't change anything. [5 votes]
* Posts should be shorter. [4 votes]
* Posts should be longer. [1 votes]
* Post more frequently. [2 votes]
* Post less frequently. [1 votes]
* More reviews of new movies. [3 votes]
* More reviews of old movies. [2 votes]
* Other (leave a comment on the latest post) [2 votes]

Thanks to everyone who voted this week. I may repost the same question this week to give people more time to leave some feedback. Here's what the people want so far: shorter posts about newer movies. Sounds good to me. I'll try to work on that. Also, to the two people who voted "Other" and didn't leave any comments as to what "other" things I should change, feel free to let me know.




Some cool things happened this week:
* I hit my 1,300th view. 300 of those views were from this week alone.
* My last two entries were part of Lazy Eye Theatre's Bizarro Blog-a-Thon.
* He Shot Cyrus was featured as part of the Large Association of Movie Blogs.
* He Shot Cyrus will also be featured next month at DVD Panache!
* I added a few new blogs to my blogroll. Go check those out as well. Also, if you'd like to be on my blogroll, just let me know and I'll check out your page.




After a half dozen people found my blog by searching for Diane Lane I decided to try out a little experiment. How many people will end up here if I link to this picture? More than with this picture? We'll see.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Casting The Office Movie

So, as you've all heard by now, they're making a movie out of TVs hit comedy, "THE OFFICE." As it turns out, during the writers strike, not everyone was taking time off work. Ryan Howard, who writes in addition to acting on the program, got together with some friends and wrote a movie script destined to hit theatres sometime in early 2010.

Rumors have been flying ever since the news broke. Some believe the movie will be a giant finale for the show. Others have guessed that it will serve as a bridge between two seasons. Either way, it's too early to tell. The writers have been extremely tight-lipped as to what the movie will actually be about.

One persistent rumor is that not all of the current cast members will be participating in the feature-length project. This has lead to guessing games as to which roles will have to be recast. According to NBC Executives, the project is still in the earliest of development stages. They promise to keep us updated as all final casting decisions are made.

This is really exciting news for all of us Office fans! It's sad that not everyone will be in the movie and that their roles are going to be recast, but until NBC releases more details, we're left to imagine. That's exactly what I did for today's blog. Here's a guess as to whom will play each character if the original actor/actress opts out. If you have your own guesses, PLEASE, leave a comment with your perfect casting choices!

Here we go. The cast of the new Office movie!


Stephen Colbert as Michael Scott

Clearly the funniest and most talented comedian to come off The Daily Show, Steven Colbert would make a perfect big-screen Michael Scott. Has Steve Carell ever won a Peabody award? I don't think so.

No one plays the boss like Mr. Colbert. He makes me call him that. I vote for a replacement immediately. Even if the movie ends up not getting made, the switch must still be made! Colbert's acting will bring an element of truthiness of which this show has never even dreamed.


Simon Pegg as Dwight Schrute
When it comes to comedy, the British do it best (except for Canadians). For all of you casters of doubt, if Simon Pegg can play Scotty from "Star Trek," then he can play Dwight K. Schrute. Both have weapon skills, dream of time travel, and have a fondness for beets. I can't really prove any of those points for Scotty. Hmmm.... Either way, a Brit is always funnier than a Yankee. It says so in the Bible...or the Constitution. I always get those two mixed up.


Ron Livingston as Jim Halpert
Livingston already played this role in a little movie called Office Space. If Livingston had turned and looked into the camera all the time, The Office could have never been made without copyright infringement. Krasinski has already proved that he's not ready to break into the big time with box office stinkers like Leatherheads and License to Wed. Better leave this one up to the pros.

Sexy Jenna Fischer as Pam Beesly
The first choice for the movie version of Pam was Amy Adams. Further deliberation pointed out that Adams had already appeared on The Office. Remember? She played the woman who sold handbags in the conference room.

I wouldn't want to anger the show's loyal fans (any more than the rest of this list is going to) and cast the same actress for two different roles. If Adams couldn't take the role, the only other woman who could play the adorable secretary/artist is Jenna Fischer. I surely hope she signs on because the movie needs her. She's by far the most important character on the show, wouldn't you agree?

Now, this is the movie version so everything has to be turned up to 11. Fischer has recently appeared in Blades of Glory and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. The picture (above, left) is from the Will Ferrell/Jon Heder ice skating movie. In short, Fischer was the only entertaining thing about that flick.

Sexy Pam is the Pam for the new millennium! Don't worry ladies, she's not the only one getting sexier for the movie. Just check out who's playing Ryan.


Paul Rudd as Ryan Howard
I told you. Just look at that picture. There's not one of my female friends who don't think that Paul Rudd isn't gorgeous. And look, he's already grown his "I'm a jerk now" beard!


Suge Knight as Stanley Hudson (Unhappy Office Employee)
In a shocking turn of events, two actors will be playing everyone's favorite crossword-loving grump, Stanley Hudson. For the first half of the film, hip-hop mogul and known felon, Suge Knight will fill the role of "Grumpy Stanley." But good times are coming. Rumors have it that Stanley's greatest wish is going to come true. He gets to retire. The double casting of Stanley and his retirement are two of the FEW plot details leaked out onto the internet this afternoon.

Reginald VelJohnson as Stanley Hudson (Happily Retired Version)
Since he gets to retire, Stanley's go no more reason to be grumpy. That's where the casting change comes into play. Everyone's favorite TV dad, Reginald VelJohnson, from "Family Matters" is the perfect choice for "Happily Retired Stanley!" "We're very excited to have him on board," says the NBC Executive, Kaleen Martin, "his name is always one on the tip of my tongue. When it came time to cast Stanley, I knew that Reginald VelJohnson would be the perfect choice."

Kyle Gass as Kevin Malone
It takes a musician to play a musician. In this case, it takes a guitar player to play a drummer. From Tenacious D to Scrantonocity, Kyle Gass would rock this role! It's the acting role he was born to play. Just give him enough time to practice his Police covers and practice stuffing M&Ms into his mouth, and he will blow you away. I met Kyle Gass once, he was really funny and an all around cool dude. I wonder if Kevin's "touched in the head" storyline will still be going on by 2010?

Hope Davis as Angela Martin
Hope Davis plays "something stuck in her craw" better than anyone. She often plays roles described as "the killjoy," "the weird woman," or the "everyone needs to be more serious! lady." Check her out in About Schmidt, American Splendor, or The Weather Man if you're doubting this casting choice. Plus, I think it's be funny to watch her make out with Simon Pegg.



The Ghost of 78-Year Old Lucille Ball as Meredith Palmer
This was a hard one. As it turns out, there aren't as many actresses out there who can play this level of messed up gal. NBC executives reached out to Amy Winehouse for the role but have yet to hear back from her coroner.

Then, as if in a dream, the image of television's Lucy appeared to me. Only, it wasn't Lucy from back in the black-and-white days. It was Lucy from 1989, right before she died from an acute aorta aneurysm!

The aberration spoke to me, telling me that she was up for the role. God had let her out of heaven to play an alcoholic with a driving record worse than Hulk Hogan's son. Apparently, dead people keep up to date on Earth's current events. I wonder if they read my blog.


A Bratz Doll as Kelly Kapoor
This one is self-explanatory.


Eeyore from ''Winnie the Pooh'' as Toby Flenderson
So is this one.


Pablo Francisco as Oscar Martinez
There is a HUGE lack in Latino actors getting work in Hollywood. After going through list after list of actors, movies, soap stars, I eventually remembered one of my favorite stand-up comics, Pablo Francisco. As much as I would have loved Gael Garcia Bernal to play Oscar, there's a good chance he would turn the movie into an NC-17.


Jason Sudeikis as Andy Bernard
He played Jim on SNL's Japanese Office parody but for the big-screen production, he'd probably be more suited for one of the supporting roles. We know he can sing. He can make us laugh. But can he get angry? Does he scream at people? Punch holes in walls? This in one case where an audition would probably be necessary. Sudeikis appeared on NBC's 30 Rock a few times. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't want to hire from within the NBC family.


Diane Lane as Jan Levinson

You're telling me this wouldn't be an improvement?


Raekwon the Chef as Darryl Philbin
Every movie these days needs a rapper in their cast. Why not one of the best rappers? Wu-Tang! Wu-Tang! The mastermind behind "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx" would bring a lot of energy to the set. Actually, he'd probably just bring a lot of cocaine to the set? Wait a second, can Raekwon even act? Well, I guess it doesn't matter. Just watch Ja Rule in the Assault on Precinct 13 remake. Rappers don't need to know how to act, they get work anyway.


Alan Arkin as Creed
Which fifty-plus actor could walk a day in Creed's shoes? None of them, I doubt. Who would want to? None of them, I doubt. The Office's resident weirdo, Creed is the guy who got Debbie Brown fired, then passed a card around collecting money for her, and then kept the money! Read his blog if you refuse to doubt his sanity.

After his performance in Little Miss Sunshine, one actor stood out ahead of the pack. Alan Arkin can play a psychopath/cunning old man. Just mash his performances from Sunshine and Wait Until Dark and you've got Creed in all his glory.


Mother Goose as Phyllis Lapin
This one is for all the hardcore reference-remembering fans out there.


I hope you all enjoyed my casting choices for the Office movie. This, like my last post, is a part of Lazy Eye Theatre's Bizarro Blog-a-Thon. Click the link to find out the details for this blog-a-thon. But in short, there is no Office movie being made. I would never dream of re-casting the show. And if this plays off like more of an April Fools Day joke, sorry. But that's the way things go with Bizarro.


Monday, June 23, 2008

7 Movies That Are Better Than The Godfather


7 Movies That Are Better Than The Godfather

Everyone knows that The Godfather is the most overrated film of all time. I don't even think that half of the people who talk about it have ever even seen it. Seriously, who has actually taken the time to get through this thing? It's like 5 1/2 hours and it's completely in Italian with no subtitles! I'm not planning on taking a language class just to watch some movie about a bunch of old men and their Catholic ceremonies.

Peter Griffin sums it all up here in this kinetic typographic display of genius.



So, here's seven movies that I'd suggest renting instead of The Godfather. I promise that all of the languages are English and that none of these movies insist upon themselves. Enjoy.


1. Jane Austen's Mafia!
If you want a movie about the mafia, save yourself the time and buy a copy of this Mafia! I could make a Top Ten list just covering the different ways Jim Abrahams' masterpiece is a better film than The Godfather. First off, the acting is superb. If any of you happened to catch The Godfather, maybe on late-night cable somewhere, congratulations. It was hard for me too.

If you happened to make it more than five minutes in, I'm sure you realized that Al Pacino's character, Michael Corleone, was a complete rip-off of Jay Mohr's Tony Cortino. It's disgusting. I'm sure lawsuits were filed. Acting legend, Lloyd Bridges outshines Marlon Brando (The Island of Dr. Moreau), like a bucket of shoe polish at a Bostonian/Clarks outlet store.

I know there'll always be copycats, but I just wish they'd leave the classics alone. Don't waste your time with the knock-offs, do yourself the favor of watching Mafia!, the only mob movie with an exclamation point in it's title (until Coppola decides to rip that off as well).


2. The Happening

*SPOILER ALERT*
The Godfather
blows compared to The Happening.
*SPOILER ALERT*



3. House Arrest

The kids in House Arrest wrote the book on how to be successful criminals. Sure, racketeering and murder are nice, but these kids locked their parents in the basement! In the basement! That's below the house!

When Ned and Janet Beindorf tell their children that they'll be divorcing, these little sociopaths decide that they've had enough. Stacey and Grover get their angry friends together and start taking over, house by house. Sound familiar? The mafia might take over an entire borough, but these sicko will come in your home!

Plus, all those Godfather fogies are old! I'm sure it's easy to get away with crimes when you have 60+ years of experience and driver's licenses. I'd like to see Don Vito pull off a successful double kidnapping when he was in middle school. I truly, truly doubt he would have had the foresight to call in sick to his dad's office using his "deep voice" in order to avoid suspicion. I truly doubt it.


4. Must Love Dogs
John Cusack. Diane Lane. Need I say more? No, I need not.



5. Kids

If my last post didn't prove this point already then allow me to explain once more. The best movies don't have plots. Ignore what those purist, hipster bastards from Cahiers du Cinéma keep trying to tell you. They do not know what they're talking about.

Coppola tries over and over again to keep a cohesive story going. If he knew anything about filmmaking, he would have just hired his friends to just sit around and have sex with underage teens. It worked for Roman Polanski.


6. Carpool
Another masterful piece of cinema featuring brilliant criminals and their intricate schemes. Unlike House Arrest, the criminal's age is a little older, his weight a little higher, his relation to Rosanne Barr a little closer. All that aside, Carpool is the modern day Rafifi.

A struggling carnival owner (Tom Arnold) decides to rob a gourmet grocery store to make some extra carny cash. When two other holdup men interrupt his robbery, Franklin Laszlo, is forced to take a hostage. Unfortunately for him, the hostage he chooses is in charge of his SON'S CARPOOL! The minivan filled with preteen rambunctiousness isn't heading to school today. It's actually heading on an action-packed afternoon which finds them being chased by an irate meter maid through a shopping mall.

Sounds better than some movie about an "aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfering control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son," doesn't it? Well, it is. Lots better. Also, did I mention that the irate meter maid is played by Rhea Perlman?

I thought that might do it for you.


7. The Godfather: Part III

Coppola finally gets it right! It took the archaic filmmaker almost thirty years to make a decent mafia movie. The characters are believable, the action is unforgettable, and the art direction is like looking into God's eyes and having him tell you that you are a good person.

Where the first two movies fail (can you believe they made three of these???) the third succeeds. We're just lucky they didn't decide to let a sleeping dog lie. After the second one, I was pretty sure that sleeping dog was dead. I just wish that someone would get off their keister and make a third Chinatown movie. The movie world's aching for it. How could it not be fantastic.

Al Pacino and Diane Keaton dish out the performances of their lifetimes. Forget what you saw from them earlier, I'm telling you, everything falls into place in The Godfather: Part III. This is the Godfather movie everyone's going to be talking about! It's a lot like the third Ninja Turtles movie where they go back in time and help out a Japanese village. Or the third Back to the Future movie where they go back in time and help out a Western town. It's a lot like these movies, except that no one goes back in time and no one helps anyone out.



Don't go check out the other blog-a-thon entries at Lazy Eye Theatre.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Kids (1995)

It sucked when I was a teenager and it still sucks today.

Kids is featured on Whitney's "Top 5 Movies I Dont' Ever Want to Watch List." I had seen it when I was younger so I knew what was coming. Having seen it before, I really tried my best to go into Kids with fresh eyes, which I pretty much did. I told myself, "it's been a long time since you've seen it, it's probably not nearly as bad as you remember." I was wrong.

I would have loved to record a collaboration with Rob over at Natsukashi for this one. Larry Clark's 1995 pseudo-documentary about a bunch of sexually aggressive little shits even worse than I had remembered. My memories, though not exactly nostalgic, included a scene where a kid drinks red Kool-Aid from a tampon, a vicious gang beating, and a rape scene involving an unconscious girl who just found out she has AIDS. That's just the stuff that I remembered. As I watched Kids again, it quickly became clear that there had been quite a lot that I had forgotten. Now I'm going to have to forget it all over again.

Kids was written by an 18 year old Harmony Korine. For those of you who aren't familiar with Korine, he's made movies like Gummo which is one of the most off-putting films I've ever seen. Other titles include and Julien Donkey-Boy and The Diary of Anne Frank (Part Two), the latter "used three movie screens to alternately show such disturbing images as a mentally handicapped man in a soiled diaper and the burying of a dead dog." (source) Gummo, in my opinion, is really interesting while Kids is not.

I can't say I've ever met someone who really enjoys watching Kids. I'm sure they're out there and we've probably met. But, for as long as I can remember, no one has ever told me that Kids is a movie they like. I'll let Dennis Schwartz over at Ozus' World Movie Reviews sum up what this movie is like. Over at Rotten Tomatoes, Schwartz gave it a coveted "Fresh Tomato" indicating a positive review. Granted, his full-length review allows a little explanation, but I'd say everything was summed up nicely in this sentence.

How does someone writes that and then click the "Fresh Tomato" button? Yikes.

There is very little redeeming qualities in Kids. Yes, the shooting style made the film's contents appear to be more realistic. Thanks. That doesn't change the contents. Here's just a laundry list of things I hated about this movie.

1. No one to care about. From Minute One, every character depicted is shown to be irresponsible, selfish, and disgusting. I understand having a single character like that, even a group of them, but every single character? That just doesn't work. When we begin to care about one of the characters they do something awful. An interesting result of this, however, is that these people come off as some sort of plague, infecting and corrupting all those they come into contact. When an innocent, young girl named Darcy begins to spend time with the film's main character, it's clear that her innocence won't be long-lasting. One of the last scenes sees to that.

2. Messages are convoluted and ineffective. The characters do whatever they want without facing any consequences. Even the one girl who gets AIDS doesn't care enough to stop her partner from passing the virus along to other people. It would seem that Clark would rather settle for shock value rather than putting the work in to make compelling narratives that actually say something. Scene after scene refuses to contribute anything to the film other than to add imagery to a constantly growing stockpile of perversion. By the end, that's all the viewer is left with. Clark shocks the viewer and then leaves them with an impression that seems to state, "well, that's just how life is." In Clark's world, even getting AIDS doesn't need to impede or hinder the rest of your life. It'd be a nice message if it wasn't accompanied by a side note that says "...so just keep sleeping around."

3. It could easily pass for a kiddie porn film. That might be good news for some *coughseeabove cough* but that's definitely enough to stop any form of recommendation coming from me. Young kids walking around in their underwear, or less, playing out sex scenes. What is this? A FOREIGN FILM? I think not! But in all seriousness, the movie made me feel really uneasy and not in a good way. Gummo made me feel really similar but the difference with Gummo was that that discomfort was paired with effective performances, an impressive style and art direction, and a strange sense of comedy that kept the film from completely alienating everyone viewing it.


Well, Whitney, thanks for letting me revisit something that would have made my "Never Watch Again" list. As I said earlier, my feelings towards Kids haven't really changed since my teenage years. I just hope that since than I've figured out a better way of communicating why it makes me want to drink from a tampon soaked in formaldehyde.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Otis (2008)

Contrary to the rumors flying around the blog-o-sphere, I do leave my house. Apparently, the United States Postal Service have been ignoring my "Please Deliver on Sundays" e-mails. Because of this, sometimes I don't have Netflix to watch! You'd think that the "4 Out at a Time" plan would be enough but clearly this is not always the case.

The worst is when I end up watching all four Netflix on a Saturday. I drop them in the mailbox fully aware that they won't get picked up for another 36 hours. Come Monday morning, they get picked up, transported to some sort of sorting center reminiscent of Dear God, and then they're off to Netflix (which I assume is some sort of magical land about thirty minutes East of San Jose, CA). Once the Wizard decides I'm worthy enough for more movies, the discs are delivered via magical Narnia-esque wardrobe, and I'm finally able to continue my quest for cinematical knowledge.

On one of these house-leaving expeditions, I made my way to a film festival about 30 minutes West of Netflix. Whitney from Dear Jesus, my faithful companion, accompanied me for a weekend of movie mania. Overall, the festival was a blast, and I plan on flying back from Utah for next year's festivities. But here's where leaving the house loses to not leaving the house. One of the films that I had been most looking forward to was M.I.A. As it turned out, Whitney and I would have to wait until the film was RELEASED ON DVD before we could see it. They expected me just to stay home and wait? Well, that's what I did. Three months later, the DVD has arrived! The film is Otis.



Now, before you get too excited, Otis is not a spin-off of Masanori Hata's insanely delightful animal buddy film The Adventures of Milo and Otis. Oh, I wish it was too. We're just going to have to deal with what we've got. Instead of a cuddly kitten searching for his precious puppy pal, we have a homicidal halfbreed who abducts teenage girls to reenact his prom. Sorry.




Here's the trailer. I don't know if it truly captures the comedic aspects of the film or the scary aspects either. The editor and I seem to have had the same difficulties with Otis. It's definitely scary, or at the very least, creepy. But it's really funny at the same time. We've all seen films that try for both, usually failing at one or the other. Otis succeeds.



The cast is incredible. Illeana Douglas and Daniel Stern play the parents who take law into their own hands. VIGILANTE JUSTICE! Douglas, as usual, stands out, always giving the movie she's in a little something extra special. For those unfamiliar with her, go rent: "Action" (the entire series), Ghost World, and Grace of My Heart. Even her smaller parts are memorable. Keep an eye out for her in Goodfellas.

Not to knock the rest of the cast, but Illeana Douglas outshines her co-stars like Anne Frank in a "Let's Be Quiet" contest. Whoever was in charge of her wardrobe for the VIGILANTE JUSTICE scenes deserves an Oscar. If you weren't too lazy to watch the trailer, I'm talking about the bandanna/goggles combo she sports while delivering the "...cut his fingers and toes off and blend them into a smoothie and make him drink it" line. Muy Classic. There's nothing like a take-charge mother ready to attach jumper cables to the anus of her daughter's kidnapper.




Speaking of this kidnapper, I know what you're all wondering. Is this another one of those movies where a really attractive guy seems normal at first but then turns out to be crazy way later? Is he the sort of handsome devil who you'd never expect to shove cats into ATM machines? Are the kidnapper's victims swept off their feet by such a debonair gentleman and it isn't until later that they realize they've made a mistake? You tell me.




Stepping up to the plate with a relatively small filmography, Boston Christopher, hits it out of the park. Actually, he'd probably get a triple. From Minute One, the beefy, brainsick Otis sends chills up your spine. We all know this guy. He's works a menial job, he wears a lot of high-tech computer gadgets, and he's probably posts on Craigslist's "Casual Encounters" under the name "Master Chieftess." You know you know this guy.

Otis has a sweet set-up. Stained mattress. Heat lamps. Nasty bathtub. Surveillance cameras. The only thing that's missing from this Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs Combo is a Hayden Panettiere-esque cheerleader. Unfortunately, Hayden Panettiere must not have heard her phone ring because her role was filled by Mel Gibson's whiny daughter from What Woman Want.

Ashley Johnson (the voice behind Gretchen in "Recess," the best cartoon since "Doug") does surprisingly well portraying a multi-layered character. Somehow, she refuses to allow her character to become stereotypical.

Jared Kunsnitz plays Reed, Ashley's troublemaker brother. The role doesn't call for much but he definitely isn't the worst part of the movie. Daniel Stern (the skinny crook from Home Alone) plays Ashley's dad. For as much as I loved the voice over work in "Wonder Years" and for as many times as I watched Bushwacked as a kid, it pains me to say that Stern wasn't exquisite in Otis. In fact, his performance made me realize why I hadn't seen him since the eerily prophetic Celtic Pride. Congratulations Boston! Sorry Mr. Stern.




The first hour of the film covers the kidnapping and the escape. Where the film really gets interesting is when the family subscribes to THE FREAKIN' VIGILANTE JUSTICE! How many times do I need to say this? Torture! Electrocution! Hilarity! One moment, I was laughing my ass off. The next moment found my jaw dropped and my vocal chords pushing out the words "holy schnikes!" Did I mentioned I happen to scream out 1995 slang when I get scared?

I don't want to give too much away, not any more than the trailer gives away. Let me just try to convince you to rent Otis using two words: Kevin Pollak. Bet you were expecting some more VIGILANTE JUSTICE! No, I"m talking about Kevin Pollack. That's right, Mr. Usual Suspects, himself. Victor 'Boss Vic Koss' Kosslovich, himself! It turns out, he and Illeana Douglas have a lot in common. While neither of them often have the main roles, they almost always outshine the lucky actors who get to star in their movies. Pollak plays Otis' brother who constantly screams at the touched terrorist to stop eating pizza, get a real job, and clean up the house. Here we find Pollak doing exactly that:



Otis is the cool movie you show your friends. Everything seems to fall into place. The performances work (even Stern's for the most part), the characters are believable while they do unbelievable things, and the cinematography / set / lighting / score / marketing / etc. are all effective. Some people (message board people) have spoken (typed) out against the ending. They're wrong. I'm right. I have a blog, so you have to listen to me. The ending rocks too. It's unexpected but fits in with the rest of the movie really well.

Like I said, Whitney and I had plans to watch Otis at the Cinequest Film Festival but when we arrived, we were informed that it had been picked up by a distributor and that all screenings had been canceled. Maybe it's just me, but I'd think that theatrical screenings would create word-of-mouth which would create higher DVD sales. I'm just a Cinema Studies student, not one of these hifalutin businessmen who cut in line in front of me at Chipotle. Anywho, Otis is out on DVD now, 100% Netflixable. Take a evening off from your busy lives and enjoy a really funny (and scary) film about young girls getting kidnapped and the families who enjoy
VIGILANTE JUSTICE!




And because I love you guys, here's a couple of great songs from a guy who is neither a family-friendly feline nor a portly pervert. Enjoy.

Otis Redding - Pain in My Heart (zShare)
Otis Redding - Stand By Me (zShare)
Otis Redding - (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay (zShare)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Say Anything - Dads in Media Blog-a-thon


Sunday marks the 100th Father's Day celebrated in the U.S. In honor of fathers everywhere, RC, over at Strange Culture, is hosting a "Dads in Media" blog-a-thon! That's right folks, a blog-a-thon.

Two movie dads jumped out at me right away. The first was Armand Goldman (Robin Williams) from The Birdcage. The second was John Court (John Mahoney) from Say Anything. Each of these could easily be found in my Top Twenty Movies lists but which one is the most blog worthy dad?

The first pretends to be heterosexual just to impress his son's Republican in-laws-to-be. The second scams money from nursing home residents in order to provide for his studious daughter. I've decided to write about John Court. Armand has a large support system backing him up but John is all on his own. Also, Say Anything develops the parent/child relationship a lot more than The Birdcage.




I recently saw Say Anything at San Francisco's greatest movie house, The Castro Theatre. Every couple months, this rad dude named Jesse Hawthorne puts on MIDNITES FOR MANIACS. Jesse's "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" Midnight Triple Feature featured Lucas, My Bloody Valentine, and this 1989 Cameron Crowe love story. Hopefully, you've all seen this by now and share my opinions on it. If you haven't seen Say Anything then you make Barbara Bush cry. You can bet I don't have proof of that.

* The first thing everyone thinks about when they think of Say Anything is how gorgeous John Cusack is.
* The second thing they think about is how he just might be the male version of Diane Lane...at least in gorgeousness.
* The third thing they think about is "I don't think either of those two things are true. Scott shouldn't speak for everyone like that."
* The fourth thing I think about is how Must Love Dogs should have been better.
* The fifth thing some people think about might be, "wow, what an awesome dad."


["What the hell is he talking about?"]

Single dad. Widower. Victim of an IRS Tax Audit. John is trying his best.

Dads get a bad rap. I come from a house where "The Simpsons" was off-limits. Other kids couldn't watch it because of the crudeness or the language but we couldn't watch because Homer was painted to be a bad dad. John Court is painted to be a good dad. He's funny, he's loving, and he'll do anything for his daughter, even if it lands him behind bars. John goes to jail because he loves his daughter too much...wait a second... that sounded wrong.

Let's start over. A single father. A widower. John tries to give Diane everything she wants. As it turns out, the only thing she wants is knowledge. Accepted to a top school in Europe, Diane has a couple months before she's off to begin the rest of her life. John's supportive and that's awesome. He's sad to see her leave, but he's more happy to see her succeed.

Enter Lloyd Dobler. A recent high school graduate, Lloyd plans on jumping into this crazy new sport called "kickboxing." He seems to be on the fast track to nowhere and he wants desperately to date John's daughter. John has him over for dinner where Lloyd makes a fool of himself, yet somehow, Diane still seems to be interested. She begins to spend more and more time with Lloyd and less and less time with her dad.





John handles things pretty well considering the circumstances. Diane's not going to be around for much longer. Lloyd doesn't appear to be a dream son-in-law. The amount of time he gets to spend with his daughter/best friend is getting shorter and shorter. He's getting pushed out of her life. If you asked me, I'd say he handled things pretty damn well.

Dads everywhere! Learn from John Court's example. Treat your children like adults and they will act like adults. Diane make her own decisions, and John supports her. Seems pretty simple doesn't it? Well, what about when the kid does something you don't like?

When Diane goes out to a party, she calls. When she's stuck on a life decision, she asks her dad about it. When she tells him that she just slept with Lloyd ...wait for it... he reacts calmly. Woah, maybe this is where that "movie magic" comes into play.



Quiz time!

Question #1: Your daughter comes home early one morning. She hasn't called. You've been up all night worrying. She tells you that she just slept with some wannabe Karate Kid in the backseat of her car. What do you do?

Do you: A. punch her square in the face? B. talk openly and calmly with your daughter, giving her any support she might need? C. ignore the problem, "America's Got Talent" is on.

If you answered "A," seek counseling. If you answered "B," you're either a liar or a better parent than I'll ever be. Shame on you or congratulations. If you answered "C," then did you see last week when that old lady tap danced like she was in a David Lynch movie? Scary, huh? Also, you kid just snuck out the window.



As great as John is, he's no angel. As most of you know, John is a CRIMINAL! He's supportive of his daughter but he supports her with STOLEN MONEY! Working at an old folks home provides plenty of opportunities for making that long paper. Elderly people = Easy payday. Okay, so John likes to help out old people in exchange for money that should rightfully go to their loved ones. But he IS their loved ones. When people don't come to visit their forgotten family members, they should have to forfeit all death profits. Forgetting Grandpa = Forget about that 20 Grand. Too bad the IRS doesn't see it that way.

In the second to last scene, we find John donning an orange jumpsuit. He got caught big time. Summer's over and Diane's off to Europe. How does she repay her dad for all the sacrifices he made to keep food on the table and $9,000 jukeboxes on the table? She sends her boyfriend and a letter. Enter Lloyd Dobler. In one of the most captivating scenes of the entire movie, John goes off on Lloyd, yelling "I don't deserve to lose my daughter!" Apparently, fraud was one of Diane's hot buttons. In a bittersweet ending, Diane and Lloyd take off into the air and far away from her dad.

John Court is a great dad. He does what he has to do to get by. Too bad hurting families (including his own), stealing money, and cheating the government was what he had to do. I wonder what he'll have to do to get by in prison. Yikes. Kids, don't let the bad outweigh the good. Diane quickly forgets how her dad listened, comforted, advised, provided, joked, loved her, and so much more. If there's a moral to be taken away from Say Anything it's that you are going to leave your dad to be beaten and raped in jail while you and your slacker boyfriend go live in Europe...say "goodbye" first. Happy Father's Day.

Here's something for the Google Searchers. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ten Trailers (and one picture) that are Exciting Me

Baghead


A group of wannabe filmmakers head into the woods to write the script that's going to make them famous. A dream provides the perfect image, a man with a bag over his head. All joking stops when someone donning that bag starts messing with them. Baghead is from the Duplass Brothers, who made a movie called The Puffy Chair which just got added to my Netflix queue. My initial reaction to the trailer is excitement. It could be funny. It could be scary. It could be really endearing. My gut's telling me that it's gonna be a mixture of all three.


Boy A


Some violent kids get sent to jail for murder. Eleven years later, Boy A is released. Lying low behind a name change and a lacking social life, Jack attempts to cope with a life freed from bars. His cover is blown, however, when he and a co-worker save the life of a young girl. Finding himself the center of a media frenzy, Jack appears to take off to the streets, his intentions unclear. This one's already won some awards at Tribeca and looks to gaining some buzz among film fans.


Glass, a Portrait of Phillip in 12 Parts


The title explains it all. Phillip Glass is one of the most amazing composers film has ever experienced. What? You haven't heard of him? Here's some of the movie he composed for: The Thin Blue Line, Candyman, Kundun, The Hours, The Fog of War, and Cassandra's Dream. What you haven't heard of these movies? Maybe you'd enjoy the work of Teddy Castellucci. Scott Hicks, the director of Shine, follows Glass for a year and interviews a bunch of really cool interviewees like Martin Scorsese, Ravi Shankar, and Woody Allen. What? You've never heard of them? Fuck you.


Miracle at St. Anna


Spike Lee's been in the news lately. Apparently, Lee's decided that the best way to promote his new movie is to talk trash about Clint Eastwood. A natural strategy. It seems to be working too. He's mad because there weren't any black soldiers in Eastwood's war movies. Eastwood got mad back. Eastwood's got a movie coming out too. Well, it's actually coming out in December. Anyone want to guess what the next six months are going to be looking like? Check this trailer out. Taylor, I'm talking to you. You're finally getting another war movie!


Monster Camp


OH YES! I have seen this movie and it is glorious. There's heroes, villains, and MAGIC! Here's the lowdown on Monster Camp. A group of nerdy kids get together to LARP (or Live Action Role Play). Bascially, they play real-life World of Warcraft. Foam swords, potion viles, and truckloads of virginity. What else can a (horizontally) growing boy ask for? Monster Camp is hilarious and really, really fun. I happened to see the world debut at Cinequest last year and met the filmmaker. Definitely keep your eyes open for this one. I'll let everyone know when it comes out on DVD too.


My Winnipeg


Sadly, I've yet to see a Guy Maddin movie. When The Saddest Music in the World came out it dropped below my radar and I still haven't seen it. Oops. My Winnipeg seems like one of those movie that I'm "supposed to see." Explaining this trailer will only make things more confusing. Watch it for yourself, I did you the favor of posting it for you.


Righteous Kill


Robert De Niro. Al Pacino. VIGILANTE JUSTICE!
Downlow warning: These Gods of 70s cinema are playing police officers! COPS! Who can forget the last time these guys plays boys in blue?


Righteous Kill is brought to you from the man who also brought you 88 Minutes. "I BROKE IT! I BROKE MY PHONE!" That movie sucked. This movie will probably suck. But there's no way I'm not going to miss it. VIGILANTE JUSTICE!


Sangre di Mi Sangre


Movies about illegal immigration always seem to jump out at me. In Middle School, one of my teachers showed us Gregory Nava's El Norte and I've been hooked ever since. From shorts shown at Cinequest to feature-length Hollywood flicks, lots of movies have tried to represent the struggles immigrants face when they look for a better life in America. This one takes an interesting twist with the premise. Two guys meet on a truck on their way to the U.S. One tells the other that he is on the way to meet his father for the first time. When he finally does track down his dad, it turns out that his former confidant has been posing at the fruit of his papa's loins. Hilarity ensues. Actually, from the look of the trailer, violence ensues...maybe murder. Should be entertaining either way.


Take Out


Another immigration story, this time about a Chinese delivery boy with a smuggling debt to pay off...in one day. Filmed in an actual Chinese food restaurant during work hours, this low budget movie was actually filmed in 2004. I remember seeing a trailer for this a couple years ago and, at the time, I really wanted to see it. A quick check at IMDB doesn't seem to highlight any sort of release date but for some reason, the trailer was up at Apple.com and caught my eye again. If this trailer is the only viewing experience I ever get with this movie then I'll die an unhappy man. If any of my readers happen to know Sean Baker or Shih-Ching Tsou, ask them to swing by He Shot Cyrus and drop me off some knowledge nuggets.


Towelhead



Taken from IMDB because I'm Mr. Lazy Pants: "Towelhead follows the dark, bold and shockingly funny life of Jasira, a 13-year-old Arab-American girl, as she navigates the confusing and frightening path of adolescence and her own sexual awakening."

While a trailer is no way to judge something like performances, it would appear that most of them seem to be pretty solid. I now realize that the world needs more "dark, bold, and shockingly funny" movies. Just the combination of those words is exciting for me. Sorta like "Zesty Cool Ranch."

Does anyone else catch a pedophilia vibe from Aaron Eckhart's character? I couldn't tell if the trailer was supposed to be alluding to that but it's certainly the vibe I picked up on. Eckhart really impressed me In the Company of Men a few years back and more recently, in Thank You For Smoking. If he does end up playing a pedophile, I'm sure he'll do a fine job. Chills just ran down my spine in a bad way. Not in a "my hot teacher just grazed my arm" sorta way.


JAMAL WOOLARD as NOTORIOUS B.I.G.


A trailer for Notorious, the remake of the Alfred Hitchcock classic (just kidding), hasn't been released yet. Woolard has the look. From what I've read, he's got the presence and the voice as well. Following the life and death of hip-hop God, Christopher "Notorious B.I.G." Wallace, the director of Soul Food and Men of Honor brings to life what Sly Stallone could only talk about doing. Stallone tried to make a Biggie Smalls movie for a while but it never got off the ground (collective sigh).

Go check IMDB for the rest of the castings. They're incredible. Having just finished "Unbelievable: The Life, Death, and Afterlife of the Notorious B.I.G.," it was really cool to see who Hollywood thought could play all these influential people. The casting for Tupac is perfect, in my opinion. This will be the movie of 2009 for me, I can feel it.


Alright, what did you think? Which movies are you looking forward to the most? Any of these look interesting to you? Trailers I missed? Drop me a line and let me know!

Them (2006)


A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how much I enjoyed The Strangers. The critics had almost universally dismissed the film as just another unimportant horror flick that didn't meet up to their collective standards. As it turns out, those critics don't read my blog. At the very least, they don't comment on my blog. I got a bunch of great feedback from you guys. Some of you were either excited to see The Strangers or had already watched it and really enjoyed it.

Thanks to Kim, Jonny, Taylor, Keith from The Kinetoscope Parlor, Rob from Natsukashi, and J.J. from As Little as Possible for dropping by and letting me know what they thought about The Strangers

The more I talked about this movie, the more people recommended a French thriller called Them. Using the same home invasion premise, I was told that Them was "Strangers done right." We'll see...


If you're too lazy to read this entire post, here's my verdict on Them: the first two acts are scary as hell, but by the end, all tension and suspense evaporates with the morning sun. I was so not scared that I decided to drop by the murder scene by my house and get some pizza. Oh, did I forget to mention that two people were killed 200 ft. from my house? Word to the wise, when a drunken a-hole demands that you buy him free pizza, you should probably buy him some.

Logging in at a slender seventy-seven minutes, Them follows a gorgeous schoolteacher named Clementine (Olivia Bonamy) and Lucas, her lover, through the worst night of their lives.

Just to give you an idea of who you'll be staring at, imagine Michael Cohen as the poor man's Oliver Martinez and Olivia Bonamy as the "living paycheck to paycheck but is holding out for that Christmas bonus" man's Diane Lane. Clear enough?



I don't want to just compare Them with The Strangers but since it's been presented to me as "The Strangers done right," then I think some sort of comparison is in order. Each movie has their strong points and weak points but it's safe to say that any slasher fan will find a hell of a lot to enjoy with either.

Like I said earlier, the first hour of Them is extremely stressful on the ol' ticker.
Them
+ high fiber diet - adult diapers = messy situation. Fortunately, the filmmakers leave the viewer an extra half hour to clean up before the credits roll.

Here's a rundown on good guys, the bad guys, and the location. If this doesn't give you a good idea of what you're getting yourself into...then I'm not very good at this.

The Good Guys

Clementine and Lucas make for a couple of decent victims. Their backstory is shallow but deeper than some other movies. Clementine teaches French to Romanian kids and Lucas is an writer who appears to be somewhat less-than-successful. Maybe all writers just look unsuccessful to me.

When push comes to shove, it's Clementine who's kicking the assess of their assailants. Clementine is rad. She takes all the risks, protects her man, and shows those hooded hooligans who's boss. Compare this to the sniveling, shrieking, Liv Tyler and you get a clear picture as to what a kick-ass woman should look like. Lucas is pretty lame but he serves his purpose, fighting back in overtime and proving not to be the absolute definition of 'sucktatude.'


The Bad Guys

Who? Why? How many? Who knows?

Individualism is not the defining characteristic of these baddies. Donning hooded sweatshirts and Chucks, a large group of mystery guests invade Clementine's proverbial talk show. They'll jack your car, stab your eyeballs, and even turn off the lights to make things scarier. There's one scene, and I don't think I'm giving anything away, but the bad guys puts this spaghetti in a bowl... Clementine puts her hand in it... well, I try to be spoiler-free here so you'll have to watch the movie.



The Location

Clementine and Lucas are trapped in their house. That's terrifying. Just the idea of home invasion has inspired a handful of really great horror films. (See: Funny Games) Even though you know every nook and cranny of your house, you still aren't safe. You know all the best hiding places. You know where the guns are hidden. You even know how to get from the Lounge to the Conservatory on a low die roll. But it doesn't matter, psychopaths always seem to be pretty determined.

Clem and Lucas' house is gigantic. She's a schoolteacher. He's a writer. I guess the housing bubble hasn't reached Romania yet. But affordability isn't the problem here, it's the fact that the house was clearly made for a horror movie. Lots of long hallways, scary attics and basements, and even a couple hidden rooms. They might as well have built on an old church, a nursery atop an Indian burial ground and a butchery. Everything just seemed too worked out.

Don't get me wrong, the scenes in the house work. I was sweating bullets that I tried shooting out of a water gun which was less fun than it sounds. The first hour is really scary but I kept getting taken out of it when I thought about the location. How convenient is an attic filled with hanging plastic sheets? That scene is actually scary as hell but the movie quickly loses it's steam afterwards.

Not to give too much away, but the most important factor in a home invasion movie is containment. Set the limits and stay within them. Them ignores it's limits for the last third of the running time. It doesn't add to the suspense because the containment factor is readjusted. In short, they go outside. It transforms from a terrifying "they're in my home" movie to "I'm going to hide behind this tree" movie. Which one sounds scarier? You're right.


This was one of the most difficult posts I've written for a number of reasons. Trying to avoid comparisons between Them and The Strangers was difficult because that's basically how I watched the movie. "Strangers done right." Well, I wouldn't quite say that. They both use the same premise in different ways but they have a lot of similarities too.

One nice thing about The Strangers is how the director left the story contained. It begins in the house and it ends in the house. There are a few outside expeditions but everything always gets drawn back to the starting point. The movie Cube just came to mind. It's really the best film to nail the confinement angle. Whooo, that's a good movie.

My advice is to check out all these movies and draw up your own conclusions. Then watch Funny Games.