Friday, April 30, 2010



Here's the lowdown on this event of the season. I want your best posts. The ones that make you the most proud. It's time to show off your skills, people. Everyone should participate because here's the best part: you've already written your entry!

You've got three weeks to make your choice. If you think you can write a post better than your fans have ever seen before then get to work! On May 21st, it's time to show the goods!  E-mail your links to: or leave a comment here.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I'll be e-mailing certain bloggers whose work I really admire and asking them to participate. If, for some reason, I forget to ask you...don't worry, I love your blog too and you should feel almost obligated to show off your analytical and literary skills.

Also, a million thanks to my good friend Laura for making this kick-ass graphic!

Question of the Week

Have you ever seen a movie at a Drive-In?

Month of Foreign

Whitney and I have a history of movie-themed months.  Month of Horror is coming up on its third year but we've decided that October is just too far away.  That's why we're watching 31 Foreign Films in 31 Days during the month of May.  Feel free to join us, read our reviews, and wish us luck.


Friday (Ten): Top 10 Superhero Movies

The Movie Case just released their Top 10 Superhero Movies list. It's great list, go check it out. In honor of their great list, here's another great list.

#10. The Crow

#09. The Fantastic Four (1994)
Production company, Constantin Film, was about to lose their rights to make a Fantastic Four movie. Thinking on their toes, the company did what they had to do. They made a Fantastic Four movie. They gave Roger Corman a miniscule budget and told him to get to work. What they didn't tell Corman (or any of the actors) is that they never intended on releasing this movie. Decades later, the movie is a cult classic, and only available to watch online. Things worked out well for Constantin Film, however, as they made two gigantic Fantastic Four movies in 2005 and 2007.

#08. Spider-Man
A recent re-watching of Spider-Man reminded me just how entertaining it really is. Great origin story, pro wrestling cage match, rad villains, and much more. Even though the casting of MJ still seems wrong, this is what I want from new superhero movies: a lot of fun.

#07. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze
1. Ninja Turtles lying half-dead in bathtubs is unacceptable.
2. I like my Turtles funny.
3. Ninja...Ninja Rap!

#06. Robocop
Robocop gets looked over too often. He hardly shows up on superhero lists and I think that's bullshit. He starts out human, undergoes a tragic accident, is transformed into a robotic cop with a license to kill. What about that doesn't sound like a superhero?

#05. Mystery Men
Everyone loves an underdog. This movie's full of them. A girl who throws bowling balls, a guy with anger management issues, another guy who's only invisible when no one's looking at him. William H. Macy plays a man who shovels well! Other than Meteor Man, this might be the most underrated film on the list.

#04. The Meteor Man
I recently wrote on The Meteor Man for part of my Kid Flicks series. You can read the post here.
#03. Batman Returns
Batman Returns > The Dark Knight. There, I said it. In my opinion, this is how the Batman comics were meant to be adapted. Burton absolutely nailed it. As fantastic as Ledger was as The Joker, this movie has a better Batman, better secondary villains (DeVito as The Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman), and a better overall plot. No Patriot Act subplots, plenty of henchmen, and best of all, no ridiculous Bale voice choking out every damn line written for him.

#02. X2: X-Men United
I just have a soft spot for X2.

#01. Unbreakable
Take what I said about Mystery Men and The Meteor Man back. THIS is the most underrated movie on this list. The Sixth Sense will always go down as M. Night's masterpiece and that's fine. But what isn't fine are the discussions that Sixth Sense is his only good movie. Unbreakable is my favorite superhero movie and it has zero explosions, no one can fly, and the action is minimal. But without the myths that Unbreakable examines, you wouldn't have any of the other movies on this list.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sandra Bullock Adopts Little Black Baby...

Maybe she'll teach him how to play football too.


Thanks for Writing Reminder

Diane Lane and John Malkovich are excited about Thanks for Writing.
You should be too.
Every comment earns you a chance to win prizes.
You should win prizes.
Fletch, Drew Danburry, and Simon Columb have.
You should be like them.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pixar's Posters

Toy Story: Pixar's first feature had a lot of characters to introduce to the world. Choosing to include the ensemble cast in the poster was a smart move. If your kid doesn't love astronauts and cowboys, maybe a dinosaur will suit his/her fancy. Little Bo Peep is prevalent, as is the recognizable Mr. Potato Head. Toss in a Piggy Bank, a Troll doll, Slinky Dog, and even a hard-to-spot Army Man and you've covered your bases.

I love the action of this poster. Buzz takes flight in front of sky-themed wallpaper. Woody's face is split between fear and disapproval, his two most-defining character traits. The title is secondary to the action, pushed over to one side to make room for the heroic spaceman's gallant pose. Maybe it's nostalgia but I'm in love with the title logo. The colors, the outlining around "Toy" and its unique shape. I only wish they would have brought the "Story" out a little, made it less flat.

Poster Grade: A-

A Bug's Life: Besides Wall-E, this is Pixar's most beautiful posters. Separate the illustrations from the movie and you've got a poster any kid would want on their wall. We've been shrunk down even smaller than the tiny bugs, giving us a great POV from below. I love that we're introduced to the characters through a leaf that's been partially eaten. It creates a sense of a "secret world" and that the bugs are as interested in us as we are in them.

The color of the leaf is the most appealing and pleasing color in existence. It's relaxing. Telemarketers should put pictures of this leaf in their cubicles as means of mental escapism. And look at Flik's shadow. Satisfying. A Bug's Life is not in my Top 3 Pixar movies but this is my Top 3 Pixar posters. Oh! The logo, I almost didn't mention the logo. Tell me that doesn't make you want to take a kid to the zoo.
Poster Grade: A

Toy Story 2: Foregoing with the ensemble cast, the designers decided to keep it simple by just featuring the two stars. One thing I forgot to mention about the first Toy Story poster is its lack of actor names. They got Tom Hanks to voice their star but you wouldn't know it from the poster. That takes balls. This time out, they tacked on their names in an ugly grey color that really should have been cropped off. The poster's clean but cramped, not too exciting, and overall, it's pretty lackluster. Although, adding the "2" to the logo resulted in a cohesiveness that the original logo was lacking.

Poster Grade: C-

Monsters, Inc.: Now that's a clean poster. The white background mirrors the Toy Story 2 poster but with full-length shots of new characters, it's utilized much better. If you're going to go with a blank, white background space, this is an effective way to use it. That being said, when your subjects are MONSTERS, why waste your poster space on a boring picture like this? When's the last time your kid had a nightmare about a well-lit monster just standing out in the open in an Awkward Family Photos pose? They had a lot to work with here but just delivered a lazy poster. Also, Sulley's face is annoying. And the title looks like bad 90s clipart.

Poster Grade: C+

Finding Nemo: AHHHHHHHHHHHH! Those fish are shitting themselves and they don't even know what's behind them! Not even those calming, soothing blues can slow their heart rates. They're pretty much going to die. This is what I want from a poster. Give me the drama, the conflict, the danger! Don't give me some bullshit sketch of your characters posing like good buddies in a yearbook club page. I want the life and death situation. That's what this poster does. And not only that, they done a stylish job with it.

Poster Grade: A+

The Incredibles: And now for something completely different. The bright reds and oranges are a sharp contrast to the deep blues Pixar usually uses. Compared to every poster before it, the action captured here is about 100x more intense. And it's definitely the only poster with a giant explosion. But even with the fireballs, flying villains, and UFOs, the Incredibles poster is pretty underwhelming. I stared and stared at this poster, trying to figure out why it didn't work for me. Finally, it hit me. It's their faces. Explosions aren't threatening to audiences when they aren't threatening to the characters. All of their facial expressions seem to be saying "Not too shabby, eh?" "We're not scared. You shouldn't be either." And I'm not. I'm bored. Do you know when I wasn't bored? When those fish were shitting themselves on the Nemo poster.

Poster Grade: B-

Cars: Honestly, there's not much I like about this poster. For some reason, car romance is hard to for me to buy...even when it's played against long, curvy mountain roads and out-of-place waterfalls. This poster is just as boring as every car commercial on TV right now. I'm just waiting for the APR financing figures. 0% Down? Wow, what a great deal. But even as boring and cliche the poster art is, the title logo is definitely Pixar's most polished so far and looks to have received the most thought behind it.

Poster Grade: C+

Ratatouille: I love posters, especially for animated films, that take a snapshot during the action. This is the complete opposite of the Monsters Inc. poster. Why just prop your characters up against a white space when you can pin them to a white door with giant knifes and forks? He's holding onto cheese, a classic rat image, but the tagline should serve as an example for all tagline writers. It compliments the imagery, makes sense, and sums up the entire conflict in a short, coheisive package. It's great. The title logo is clean, cute, and doesn't distract from the main imagery. Great poster.

Poster Grade: A

WALL-E: Again, Pixar delivers an aestetically pleasing poster that utilizes its color scheme perfectly. It's not the most interesting poster, in fact, it's not even the most interesting Wall-E poster, which can be found here. But since I usually grade the most recognizable posters, this is the one under review. My biggest problem with Wall-E's poster is the forced coheisiveness. It's too sectioned-off. Foreground: robot and rough terrain. Background Right: Rounded Spaceship. Background Center: Moon and Title. Background Right: Moon and Eve. Look at the Ratatouille poster. Everything's positioned together extremely well and when the eye relaxes ont he poster, it's led in one direction. When the eye relaxes on this poster, it doesn't know where to focus. They tried to include too much and ended up voiding out the emotion found on most of Wall-E's other posters. But overall, it's still satisfying and beautiful.

Poster Grade: B+

Up: No tagline. Just the word "Up" written in large, could-white text--slanted at an awkward angle Pixar was so proud of they used it again on the Toy Story 3 poster. The Up poster has a great sense of action, uses depth well, and gives you a pretty good idea what the movie's about. One of Pixar's greatest strengths has always been their ability to animate emotions. Dreamworks, on the other hand, specializes in this. The dog's happy. The old man's concerned about his present situation. And that fat kid's having the goddamn time of his life. I wouldn't put this on my wall but it's a strong entry into Pixar's poster collection.

Poster Grade: B+

Toy Story 3: We're back to the ensemble cast and this time there's Barbie. The happy-go-lucky crew of children's playthings look pretty worried. They haven't reached Finding Nemo levels of fear but there's definitely something worrisome this side of the camera. In a lot of cases, stacking characters like this will make the poster look forced, overstuffed, and unappealing. One of the perks of using digital designers is that you can pretty much get any layout result you want if you're willing to put in the time. The designers also abandoned the blank, white background of the second poster and adopted this satisfying tan. Great poster.

Poster Grade: A+

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Dear Bloggers Who Use Captchas,

please stop using captchas.
They're annoying.

More than once, I've written a comment, clicked "publish comment," exited out of the window before the screen reloads with that annoying box asking me to type "SingAPore coUCh."  And you better believe I'm not typing that comment again.  

I don't want to sound like a dick here.  I had a captcha when I first started until one of my readers demanded I get rid of it.  So I did.  And the results were the occasional spam comment all of which were easily deleted forever.  

So please, stop using captchas.  Your comments will go up, at least your comments from me will.

He Shot Cyrus

Director's Chair: Scorsese's Best Titles

The LAMB is holding the latest installment of their Director's Chair series from April 28th-April 30th. And while I'll also be submitting my two Scorsese Posters posts, I wanted to write something new for the event.

I got to thinking about movie titles, about how some of them become synonymous with their films, their poster art, or even a single iconic image. But I wanted to separate the text from their attachments (the signifiers from the signified) and rank my favorites--based on the premise that the words were being used as a title for a movie, but not necessarily the movie I already connect them with. In short, what do the words themselves represent and how do they work apart from the famous films?

Number 5.
Gangs of New York.
Right away, hundreds of images fly through my brain. The New York City skyline, gritty urban streets, graffiti, violence, police lights, police tape, hand signs, murder, blood, thugs, the East/West Coast rivalry of the mid-90s, youth, and on and on. Then the questions begin. Is this a documentary? What decades would it span? If it's a narrative film, what decade would it take place in? Are these present-day gangs armed with a heavy arsenal of automatic weapons or are they closer to Jets and Sharks? "DID THEY REMAKE THE WARRIORS?" would certainly have to be asked. This combination of words, Gangs of New York, immediately triggers imagery and prompts inquiries. Isn't that what very movie should do (I'm looking at you, Salt)?

Number 4.
What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?
I'm a fan of longer titles. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney. This one elicits thoughts of pick-up lines, crowded bars, maybe an element or two of danger. This could work for a colorful 1960s rom-com (think Cactus Flower) or a low-budget indie drama--possibly set in New York. On its own, WaNGLYDiaPLT (pronounced Wangly Dia-plat) is an interesting title but it does sounds a little cliche. Honestly, if I read this title in smaller festival lineup, I'd probably skip it. That being said, it inspired me to write a film based on my favorite pick-up line, Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car.

Number 3.
Boxcar Bertha.
Talk about triggering vivid imagery. This movie could be about circus freaks, an obese Depression-Era hobo, or even a female pro wrestler. Sure, those are all pretty similar, but the point is: Boxcar. Bertha. I'm interested.

If someone here asked me, "Have you ever seen Boxcar Bertha?" I would immediately open a new window and log in to Netflix. There'd be no way I could respond, "No, what's it about?" and then wait for their reply. If the DVD art didn't look horrendous (I will judge a DVD by its cover), it'd be at the top of my queue just waiting for me to send back Project Runway: Season 5, Disc 4. You've got to admire anyone willing to label their quality product with a name like this.

Number 2.
The Color of Money.
A lazier writer would have just named it "Green."

Number 1.
The Last Temptation of Christ.
What a great title. You're already familiar with the main character, you recognize the finality of the situation, and its got great cadence. The rhythm of the words hits you three times. The LAST TempTATION of CHRIST. The only thing the marketing people would have to do with make sure everyone knew it wasn't a "Christian" film.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Miraculous Merch: Bill Murray

Nakatomi Inc. is selling these amazing Bill Murray stickers. They've got quite a bit of other cool stuff for sale as well. They're 6''x6'' which is pretty sizable for a sticker. All of your favorite movies are here: Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Rushmore (I believe?), Lost in Translation, and of course, The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou. The pack sells for $12.00 and Nakatomi Inc. is offering FREE SHIPPING. I bought a pack last week and they arrived today. Needless to say, I'm in love. Buy some for yourself and some more for your friends.

Obama of Blogging!

The LAMMYs are here again.
I'd really appreciate a couple votes.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Question of the Week

At what age did you parents start letting you watch R-rated movies?

Friday Five: 3-D Sequels I Want to See

#5. Ninja Assassin
THEW!  THEW!  THEW!  Ninja stars!  Ninja swords!  Ninja fists!  NOW IN 3-D!  Blood splatter!  Guts spatter!  3-D SPLATTER!   
#4. Garbage Pail Kids
GPK got screwed over during its theatrical run.  This movie could have birthed the revival of so many cinematic extras.  Rumblerama for the farts.  Smell-O-Vision, again for the farts.  3-D for the flying puss and popping pimples.  What a missed opportunity.   

#3. My Dinner With Andre
Two hours.  Two characters.  One meal.  One movie.  Whenever I watch My Dinner with Andre, I feel pretty left out.  They two guys are having the fucking time of their life--telling stories, telling jokes, telling each other any fucking thing they can think of.  And it seems great.  I'm forced to play Fly on Wall and that sucks.  Adding a third-dimension might make me feel a little more included.

#2. Gummo
You can keep your Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom and your Last House of the Left because this is the most disgusting movie ever made.  Harmony Korine tests your gag reflex by using non-actors who are, to say the least, puke-inducing.  There's nothing like watching a little bastard-child eat spaghetti and chocolate bars in filthy bathtubs to make your morning.  The only thing that helped me get through this was the phrase "It's only a movie..."  Something tells me that a little 3-D might force me to forget that fact.

#1. Unfaithful
Come on, she's the Denzel of white women.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Stay Tuned for a Big Announcement

A big He Shot Cyrus announcement is headed this way.  Stay tuned.

Movie Posters with their Original Casts

Moviefone drew up some amazing classic movie posters featuring their original cast.  Some of them I'd heard before (Will Smith in The Matrix) but others are so horrific that they must be true. Here are a couple of my favorites and one of the most terrifying.

Honestly, this poster disgusts me. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How to Cover a Film Festival

I've been lucky enough to cover a few film festivals (Sundance, SXSW, and Cinequest) over the past couple years. Some of you have asked how I got hooked up with the gig so I've written up some steps for those interested in becoming a film festival critic.

1. Know the Right People -- This is probably the most important step. I got my MA in Cinema Studies in San Francisco. One of my classmates was the editor of Film Threat. We became friends and when he read my blog, he hooked me up. Connections are important but what's even more important is not to be a weasel. People know when they're being used and they don't like it.

2. Pay Your Own Way -- Most likely, you won't be paid for your critic work. In most cases, you'll have to help pay for your travel accommodations, food, lodging, etc. I finished writing my thesis in Utah which put me in a great position to attend Sundance. I took as much time off from work as I could afford, packed brown bag lunches, and drove into Park City around 8:00AM and drove back home around 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. Sundance ended up costing quite a bit for Whitney and I but it was completely worth it.

3. Attend Smaller Festivals -- Everyone wants to cover Sundance, which is why it's so difficult to get a spot. But these days, almost every big city has some sort of film festival. These festivals often have some great movies in their lineups and can be pretty accommodating for independent critics. In fact, Cinequest hooked us up with lodging and some food. They treated us like royalty, haha. Check out the websites for any festivals near your town and contact their press coordinators about acquiring press credentials.

4. Hone Your Skills -- This one sounds corny but when you're forced to squeeze reviews out between screenings or late at night when you'd rather be sleeping, being able to rely on your ability to concisely review the five movies you just watched back to back to back to back to back is necessary.

5. Be Known -- This is definitely one step I'm still working on. Theoretically, enough hard work will lead to exposure which will help you plead your case with press coordinators. Write lots of reviews, try to get on Rotten Tomatoes, and build your brand. Participate in blogging community activities (see: The LAMB), comment on everyone else's sites, and do everything you can (without being annoying) to expand the world's knowledge of your site.

Have you ever covered a film festival? What advice do you have for potential press members?
Have you always wanted to cover a film festival? Is this advice helpful?
Let me know.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kid Flicks: Sister Act (1992)

Every family has a movie (or movies) that, for one reason or another, takes the VCR/DVD Player hostage and receives more repeat viewings than it deserves. In our house, some of those movies were 3 Ninjas, D2: The Mighty Ducks, and The Meteor Man. These are just some of the movies I want to write about in my new series, Kid Flicks.

My mom has a love-hate relationship with Whoopi Goldberg. She loves anything she's ever done that wasn't R-rated. Mormonism = Cinematic schizophrenia. Because we were a PG-only family, I never saw Burglar or Girl, Interrupted but I did see Eddie, Bogus, and Theodore Rex.

Sister Act is the one we watched most of all. Our VHS tape literally broke due to overuse. I can't tell you how many times seen Sister Act. There was a point in my life where I knew all of the words to all off the songs. Hell, I knew all of the words, period. My family loved this movie. And don't think our love stopped at the sequel. Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit not only entertained us for hours on end but it also introduced me Lauryn Hill who I had a bit of a crush on throughout the mid-to-late 90s.

Looking back at this beloved childhood classic, there's one scene I feel needs some discussion. For those who haven't seen it, the movie follows a lounge singer named Doloris Van Cartier who witnesses a murder and goes into witness protection with a convent. When she gets there, the nuns have trouble conforming her to their conservative lifestyle. But before we go too far, can we go back to the murder?

An off-screen gunshot to the (head? chest?) was quite a scarring occurrence for single-digit age kids such as myself. Now, death in movies was nothing new to me (The Brave Little Toaster, anyone?) but this might have been my first assassination.

The rest of the movie is fun nun-themed hijinks. Lots of singing, a "Mashed Potato" dance scene, and some slight digs at modern-day religion. I loved it then, I like it now. Sort of like Lauryn Hill.

Most Memorable Sister Act Images
1. The assassination, of course.
2. "Hey Alma, check your battery."
3. Whoopi's lounge singer hair.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

3 Best Friends: Movies Featuring Colons in the Title

Rats: Night of Terror
Whitney's choice came all the way from Italy by the way of bad dubbing. Her hard work and YouTube surfing delivered this unknown gem. You see, the pre-colon section of the title lets us know that this movie is about rats. The post-colon section informs us that most of the movie will take place at night and more specifically, a night filled with terror. What's unclear to those who haven't seen it is...are the rats the terrorizers or the terrorized? Is this more like Ben or "Maus?" It's more like Ben. Only there are hundreds of Bens and some humorous (human) sex. Rats has the distinct honor of being the only movie in our marathon that isn't a sequel. And in a surprising twist, a Rats sequel has yet to been made. You'll just have to wait for Rats: There Got to Be a Morning After.

Rambo: First Blood Part II
My choice! Brian at Dear Jesus told me this was the best of the Rambo series and that I had to see it. It's gorier, way over the top, and just about as kick-ass as you can get. That's why I decided to watch it for the first time with whole bunch of people. Everyone piled into my living room and prepared for a grad-level course in vigilantism. The movie starts a little slow but picks up exponentially until the whole thing concludes with a helicopter fight not to be forgotten.

Critters 2: The Main Course
Critters is an underrated horror series. Giant furballs with lots of gnashing teeth. And they're from space. We chose this one to end the night because it was almost guaranteed to be a lot of fun. And it was. I tip my hat to Aaron because he picked my favorite movie of the night. And while Team America: World Police would have been good too, our three picks turned out to make one of the best 3 Best Friends Marathons yet.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Never having watched 2001: A Space Odyssey was my longest-held cinephile shame. That is, until yesterday's screening. For years, I avoided "Slow Walking on Spaceship Movies" the same way other people avoid "Boat Movies" or "Torture Porn." Solaris was most likely the culprit that began my distaste. Thanks to the 1001 Movies You Must See group, I've righted my greatest wrong.

Despite 2001 being one of the most written about and highest rated sci-fi films of all-time, I knew relatively nothing about it before yesterday. I knew Kubrick directed it and that it didn't star Michael J. Fox even though the poster wants to make you think he is. Going into the film without knowing the details was definitely the way to go. My opinions may have been skewed had I known there was 20-minute acid trip scene and another 20-minute section with men in monkey costumes. Coming in fresh, I was ready for anything and ended up loving everything.

I'll admit, the prelude started pressing my buttons right away but once the visuals arrived, I was hooked. Yes, the movie is long. Yes, the pacing is slow. And yes, the spaceship walking is extremely slow. But as a whole, 2001 was just as good as everyone said it was. It's 3:30AM so this won't be the most technical or thorough review but there are some thoughts that I have to put out there.

When I said that I knew little about 2001, I wasn't exaggerating. I didn't even know what year it was made. Once my wife told me that it came out in 1968, a full nine years before Star Wars, the imagery on-screen became almost unbearably impressive. Stories of ecstatic crowds cheering and applauding when the Star Destroyer flew from overhead have a way of floating around film programs. Star Wars was heralded as sci-fi's savior and a pioneer in visual effects. And while I don't want to take away anything from Star Wars, the visuals and cinematography in this film are, at the least, on par with it's sci-fi successor. It's the type of thing where writing about it may cheapen its impressiveness. I would urge anyone on the fence with this film to do yourself the favor and watch this film. Keep in mind, as Whitney pointed out to me, that it was released before the moon landing.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Naptime: Movies I've Fallen Asleep During

Inspired by a Jonny and Reed's discussion on their Gene Shalit Power Hour podcast, I decided to create an ever-growing list of Movies I've Fallen Asleep During.

After a traumatic LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring viewing, my friends dragged me watch the second installment completely against my will.  The Two Towers slipped me into a deep coma that couldn't even be interrupted by sword fights, dragons, or whatever the hell those movies tried to distract everyone with.

The year was 1999.  A friend and I had played N64 long into the night before dragging ourselves to an afternoon screening of Godzilla 2000.  For some reason, I don't ever fall asleep during the movies you'd expect.  I made it through Emma, A Taste of Cherry, and The Hours but for some reason, a giant lizard destroying downtown Tokyo makes my eyelids heavy.

Not every movienap experience happens at a movie theater.  Some happen at home.  I once fell asleep during a repeat viewing of Recess: School's Out.  I had seen it before so it wasn't a big deal (you don't want to miss the plot details of Recess: School's Out) but when I woke up later, the DVD menu screen was playing.  Here's where everything goes terribly wrong.  I only slightly woke up, was still too tired to get up, and had no power to turn off the TV.  On top of all that, the Recess menu screen is the most ANNOYING menu screen of all-time.  Its runtime is about 5 seconds, it plays the beginning of the Recess theme song, and does. not. stop.  Worst half hour of my life. 

More to come...

Friday, April 16, 2010

10 Movie Facts About Me (Meme)

I started a meme.
So far, one person has participated.
These are his (my) 10 Movie Facts About Me.

1. I've been quoted in a movie trailer.

2. During my first year working at Hollywood Video, I rented (for free, of course) over 1,000 movies.  That means at least three rentals a day, every day.

3. I've met Roger Ebert, Harvey Weinstein, William H. Macy, and a few other celebrities while at film festivals.

4. My favorite movie is The Warriors (1979).

5. My movie collection proudly holds over 1,300 DVDs.

6. I have two tattoos.  One of Doug.  One of Skeeter.

7. My first movie-going experience was to see The Adventures of Milo and Otis in 1989.

8. My biggest cinephile shame is that I've never seen 2001: A Space Odyssey (although...that will be corrected this weekend).

9. I married a blogger.

10. I've covered Sundance twice for

You know how this works.  I'll nominate six bloggers.  They'll write their own 10 Movie Facts About (Themselves) and link back here.  They'll nominate six blogger.  Next thing you you, we all know everything about each other.

I nominate:
Whitney @ Dear Jesus
Fletch @ Blog Cabins

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Miraculous Merch: House of the Devil

ATTN: All Merchandising and Marketing Directors,

when promoting an out-of-the-box film, please market accordingly.

One-sheets, Director's Cut DVDs, and star-studded soundtracks are fine when you're promoting a James Bond movie.  But when you've got The House of the Devil on your hands, be smart and cater to your audience.  Because when you do, you might come up with an amazing idea like this:

The House of the Devil has been released in a special DVD/VHS combo pack.  From the beaten-up packaging (complete with "New Release" rental sticker) to the oversized clamshell, they've spared no expense on this Miraculous Merch.

Available at for 31.49. 

Kid Flicks: The Meteor Man (1993)

Every family has a movie (or movies) that, for one reason or another, takes the VCR/DVD Player hostage and receives more repeat viewings than it deserves. In our house, some of those movies were Sister Act, D2: The Mighty Ducks, and The Meteor Man.  These are just some of the movies I want to write about in my new series, Kid Flicks.

African-American superheroes aren't easy to find.  For every Blade, Storm, and Bishop, there's about a billion other superheroes hosting paler complexions.  While researching for my thesis ("Hollywood's Depictions of Inner-City High Schools") I repeatedly came across journal articles discussing the lack of minority comic book characters.  Even with the emergence of the graphic novel, non-white heroes are still few in number.  I bring this up mostly because as a kid I LOVED The Meteor Man but had no idea just how important the movie was.

Robert Townsend is grossly underrated.  He's written, produced, directed, and starred in a a number of films that are equally underrated.  Don't believe me?  Get your hands on a copy of Hollywood Shuffle, a comedic satire aimed at the stereotyping of black actors in Hollywood. After you watch it, revel in the fact that this was his first film.

Townsend stars as Reed Jefferson, a mild-mannered inner-city citizen who comes into contact with a space rock that gives him superpowers.  He's strong, he flies, and he's backed up by a concerned Neighborhood Watch group.  Together, they take on The Golden Lords, a vicious street gang complete with matching hairdos and gold Slinkys.  

This is (to my knowledge) the only superhero film that directly addresses the issues of inner-city gang violence.  Other superheroes have fought random gangsters and thugs but Meteor Man worked with Bloods, Crips, and the police to stop street violence.  This came out in 1993, a time where Los Angeles was rioting over Rodney King and the East Coast/West Coast rivalries were beginning to heat up.  Gang membership was on a rise and their violence was too. Looking back, it becomes clear just how important Meteor Man was.  An African-American superhero who fought the real evils of the time. 

Another reason to check out Meteor Man is its huge ensemble cast.  Actors such as James Earl Jones, Bill Cosby, and Don Cheadle play prominent roles.  Townsend also embraced the hip-hop community by casting Big Daddy Kane, Naughty By Nature, Cypress Hill, and Another Bad Creation.  

Where I grew up, there were only three radio stations I could pick up: a country station, a hip-hop station, and a Mexican music station.  I didn't speak Spanish and I hated country.  That left hip-hop.  Cypress Hill's "Black Sunday" was released around the same time as this  movie and it didn't take me long to recognize B-Real as one of the gang leaders who helps Meteor Man at the end.  The soundtrack definitely played a part in my repeated viewings.

When I was young, I thought Meteor Man was the coolest.  I owned X-Men comic books but the movies were a decade away.  Superman wasn't my cup of tea and his movies were boring.  Batman was one of my favorites but his movies were deemed "too violent" by my parents.  That left Meteor Man.  His movie has awesome action, the ever-coveted rap music, and was funny.  And while it epitomizes "The Nineteen-Nineties" and looks completely dated today, it's still a fun watch and carries a message more important than most other superhero movies.

Memorable Meteor Man Images:
1. The gold Slinkys.
2. The newly united Bloods and Crips appearing on the rooftops--packing automatic weapons--to help a weakening Meteor Man.
3. Bill Cosby living in a basement.  For some reason, this really sticks out in my memory. 

The Meteor Man
Directed, Written, and Starring: Robert Townsend
Co-Starring: Eddie Griffin, James Earl Jones, Bill Cosby, Don Cheadle, and Sinbad
Release Date: August 6th, 1993
Studio: MGM

The Tobolowsky Files

Five years ago, I attended a screening of a film essay called Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party.  The 87-minute documentary centers on the infamous titular character actor (Groundhog Day, Mississippi Burning) as he tells stories. Whether he's alone or entertaining a group of friends over dinner, Tobolowsky recounts events from his life with the skill of a professional raconteur.  I was hooked right away.  I can't speak for anyone else in the theater but this was one of the more refreshing films of this particular festival season.  Anyway, the DVD eventually came out and I recommended to everyone who'd listen.  But ever since then, I've been wanting more.  More stories.  More Tobolowsky.  More.

Ten minutes after my last post was published, I stumbled upon my wish come true.  / is just wrapping up their first season of "The Tobolowski Files," a weekly series of 100% true, genuine stories told by the man himself.  They're great.  I've listened to three episodes so far and already, I've heard amazing stories about kidnapping, hippo escapes, and Dan Aykroyd's hat.  I found a goldmine.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Check Them Out

I've been on a PODCAST kick lately.  Here are five (film-themed) podcasts that I'm head over heels for.

The tagline says it all.  Nostalgia & Film 101.  Through Natsukashi, I've met (recorded with) numerous actors, screenwriters, and directors from my favorite films.
These two guys are great. Simon and Jo have embarked on "public podcasting" or "pubpodding" as I like to call it.  Give this show one listen and you'll be hooked.  Their episodes are broken up well, the hosts are extremely entertaining, and they aren't afraid to give He Shot Cyrus some shout-outs.

One of my favorite blogs has ventured into audio recordings.  I wholly recommend Episode 11 (w/Fletch of Blog Cabins) where the two discuss Desert Island DVDs, How to Train Your Dragon, and a movie I didn't care for, I Love You Phillip Morris.  These episodes fly by while you listen.  Thumbs Up.

Movies.  Music.  Gene Shalit.
From out of nowhere, a new podcast from my friend Jonny and his friend Reed.
Pop culture.  News.  Entertainment.
Subscribe on iTunes.  Enjoy in your ears.

Filmspotting sets the bar.  If you haven't listened to these guys yet, you're a schmuck in the schmuckiest sense of the word.