December 31, 2008

The Best Things That Did Not Make It On To Anybody Else's Best List

Everyone has got a list of the best of 2008, and yeah I think "Wall-E" was an amazing fable for the dangers of consumerism too. "Dear Science" by the TV On the Radio is an dazzling album and "Grand Theft Auto" is the best game of the year. But there was a lot more of 2008 than that, so here is my list of the things that did not make the other lists.

1. "You Don't Mess with the Zohan"- Yeah, it's stupid, what, did I clarify that, this movie is stupid. However, once you realize it's not "Milk" and you let go and go for the ride, you'll probably laugh. I happen to think Adam Sandler dancing to disco, cooking fish, eating hummus, being a professional hacky sack player, and and catching bullets in his nose is funny.
2. "The Strangers"- There is a scene in this movie where creepy strangers in masks are breaking into a house, records are skipping, and a young attractive couple is screaming in fear. Of course in the theater I was yelling and clinging onto my popcorn bucket like it was a life preserver and I was floating in the ocean. Otherwise, the movie is average, but that one scene. In the words of the pregnant mexican lady behind me, "ahhhh hellll no."
3. Young Jeezy's "The Recession"- Yeah, he is not rapping about social change or blowing your mind with word play. But whatever, Young Jeezy is a huge guilty pleasure because he raps about everything that you are supposed to hate about rap (guns, drugs, money, women) and makes it sound awesome. And if there isn't a cooler song about Obama then "My President is Black", then I don't know. "My President is Black, my Lambo's blue"
4. Obama Brushes Dirt Off His Shoulder- Yeah the other speeches made me cry, but no other speech gave such a clear message as "yeah, I am not only be the change the world needs, but I'm also cool enough to listen to Jay-Z"
5. "Wanted"- In the end, after the rats blow up the castle, the heavy metal starts pumping, James McCavoy, who is now the chosen badass warrior guy, busts through the glass and blasts so many people he can open his own dynamite factory. Yeah, no plot, no story, just action.
6. The Foot Fist Way- This movie is more quotable than Obama, yeah, I said it. Don't believe me, watch this movie. "I don't believe in belts."

December 30, 2008

Cred Confessions: Back to the Future

"Cred" Confessions: As in my movie credibility confessions. When I reflect on a movie that I should have seen, but for some bizarre reason I have not. I always believe that true movie people admit what they have not seen, rather than what they have.

So now that we got that definition squared away, I present my first confession: "Back to the Future." I always knew about Marty McFly and the puffy vest and the rock and roll dance, but what I didn't know was how simple yet extravagant the story is. Time Travel is some sticky shit, see the most reason "season" of Heroes for how it can be done wrong. But "Back to the Future" get's it all right, and I got to commend it for it.

I also get a kick out of watching movies from the 80's that are rated "PG." I mean back to the future contains the following things that would make the hair on the MPAA's neck tingle: weed smoking, swearing, underage drinking, underage smoking, sex, implied rape, and terrorists.

So yeah, the movie lives up to the hype. It's fun, smart, and full of some great performances. I'm embarrassed to say it took so long to see, but whatever now I know where that "where we're going, we don't need roads" line comes from.

December 29, 2008

I'm Back with Mike Lowwwrrrry

Thislalife is back up in this action flick called life. The holiday season is winding down and soon regular posting will resume, until then, sit tight. I was recently at a holiday party with youngsters present in and in between explain how dope T2 is, I had a moment of zen. I'll share them with you now.

1. Arnold Rules!!- If have not seen "Predator", "Commando", "Conan", or "Commando", go watch "High School Musical" because these movies are essential viewing for dudes on every continent.
2. "Bad Boys II" - Is the current gold standard for stupid action movie.
3. "The Dark Knight" is does not get worse with repeated viewings.
4. "The Expendables" is going to be a 80's action movie festival in the 2000's. This is a glorious thing because action films these days are either too serious (Valkyrie) or too fake (The Transporter).
5. Good Action films are timeless. I mean when I watch "Cobra," I get a kick out of it because it's a Cheetos cheese fest of action goodness. I also like the action, and good action knows no decade.
6. I watched "Little Caesar" last year, and even though it came out in 1931, it was fresh to me. In that film Edward G Robinson shoots a dude through the wall, a cool piece which of action cinema, which is also repeated in the 2003 classic "Bad Boys II." See that's what I'm talking about.

December 26, 2008

Benjamin Button, (I'm On Break)

I'm off doing some holiday things with my family. Posting to resume on Monday, in the mean time go see Benjamin Button.

December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone. I'll resume posting tomorrow with a run down of all (and there's a bunch) the films opening today. In the mean time, I'm off to see "The Spirit", just kidding. By the way if you don't know this is from the Christmas classic "Die Hard"

December 23, 2008

Elf: Think of the potential

Last year was the first time I saw "Elf." Yeah I know I was late to the holiday party, but, let me just say, if you haven't seen it yet, check it out. It's heart warming and pretty damn hilarious. It also contains pretty much the coolest snowball fight ever. Now it is possible that "Snow Day" had a snowball fight, but I would also say that it's possible that no one saw "Snow Day."

But back to the balls of snow, if this is the raw power that elves possess when it comes to snow combat, what the "H-E-Double Upside Down Candy Canes" are snowball fights at the north pole like? Rapid fire snowballs, constant ammunition, chilling (ZING!) accuracy, and never ending cheer. I'm not even going to go into the whole air support from the Reindeer thing, that alone is a whole other flick. I can see it now:

Red Nose
A Heart Warming Story of an Underdog who showed everyone the light.
Starring Paul Walker as Rudolph and Vin Diesel as Blitzen.

December 22, 2008

Home Alone Is a prequel to 24


Kevin McCallister, a.k.a. the angel faced child from the "Home Alone" movies (that's 1 & 2, not the lame sequels) is a master of improvised weapons, so therefore he must be a young Jack Bauer. If there is any doubt, check out McCallister's list of skills, keep in my mind, this is before his dossier even had him in double digits.

1. Master of Media Manipulation- Uses TV to trick the pizza man into giving him free pizza. A true genius.
2. Small Arms- Combat technique includes BB gun to shoot Marv in the head with painful (not deadly) accuracy.
3. Mastery of Nature- Uses punk brother's tarantula to inflict psychological and physical pain on. enemies.
4. Enlisting Civilians- Recruits creepy snow shovel man and even more bizarre bird woman to provide fire support.
5. Munitions Expert- See toilet full of gasoline example from the New York File (aka Home Alone 2)
6. Spiritual Combat- Like all true warriors, he prays before combat, then he eats dinner.
7. Master of Improvised Booby Traps- Cannot be understated. Uses nails, Christmas ornaments, hot wheel cars, giant lead pipes, paint cans, staple guns, tool chests, even bricks to thwart enemy movements.

So when Bauer returns on January 11th (so damn pumped for that), now you know where he got his movies.

December 21, 2008

Valkyrie: Is it ok to root for Nazis?

Between countless "Call of Duty" video games, history books and classes, Academy Award winnings films, and historical visits around Europe, I have learned that Nazis are pure evil.

So wrap your mind around this: if the Nazi's which so vile, why is a movie coming out where they are the good guys? In "Valkyrie" the Nazis are trying to kill the supreme evil Nazi Hitler, but I still wonder, was everyone involved in the plot 100% good.

A quick wikipedia session on the Clau Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) reveals he was a pretty decent guy who hated almost every aspect of the party. However, the plot was multi-faceted and it's tough to imagine that everyone involved was as noble at Stauffenberg.

Maybe I am just old fashioned, I just like seeing Nazi's meet justice's wrath for all their terrible actions. If anybody is getting back at the Nazi's, it's not other Nazis', it everybody else. For this reason, I'll be seeing "Defiance" before "Valkryie."

December 20, 2008

Saturday Nerd Post: More excited for Lost or Christmas?

I mean obviously I more excited about Christmas, but Lost is making it's case. After sitting through "Heroes" for the fall, I am so jazzed up for the return of Lost I asked for a ticket from LA to Australia from Santa. Of course this ticket comes with the assumed plane crash that would land me on the Island, where I could solve the mysteries. Damn, what a nerd I am.

December 18, 2008

Saying Yes To Will Smith Weekend Preview

Seven Pounds- You know those people who say things like "I love Will Smith, I'll see anything that he's in." It's time for them to prove their allegiance to the Fresh Prince, because I have no idea what this movie is about. You got Will Smith trying to right some wrongs, which apparently is very similar to the TV show "My Name is Earl" but I don't know anybody who watches that, so I guess Will Smith is in the clear. In the mean time I'll just be waiting for the next "Bad Boys" movie

The Tale of Despereaux- This is a movie about a heroic mouse who lives in castle. I know, you're wondering if the mouse cooks fine dishes. I don't know if he's an everyday Emeril, but I do know that the mouse has ears the size of Obama's. Perhaps this is a new trend, if you wanna be successful, you need to have huge ears.

Yes Man- There was a period of time in middle school where I was straight up addicted to the movies. Of course, this period was two weeks long and the movies that were big in the theaters were "Anaconda" and "Liar, Liar." In the end, I'm sure "Liar Liar" ages better than "Anaconda," so I'm not surprised to see that Jim Carrey is going back to that formula that had me addicted. Many people have compared this film to "Liar, Liar" and yes, all those people are all correct. However, in the same way I didn't line up for "Anaconda: Curse of the Blood Orchid" I won't be lining up to see "Yes Man." It's not my type of flick these days, if I want to laugh, I'll stick to watching "Step Brothers" on dvd. Boats n Hos!

December 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Steven Spielberg

Today is Steven Spielberg's birthday and to honor him, I figured I would break down some of my favorite scenes in his repertoire.

1. Hungry Raptors Hit The Kitchen- This classic scene from "Jurassic Park" nearly made me urinate in my sweatpants when I saw this in the theater. When that raptor opens the door you know he's not there for Spaghettios, he's there to eat kids.

2. Kari-mah, Kar-MAH, KARI-MAH- Another scene that seriously damaged my mind as a child. From "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," this sequence had some wicked evillllllll (notice the extra letters to exclaim the point) Indian priest ripping out some poor guy's heart. What makes the whole thing bonkers is the guy is alive when it happens and that the Priest dude (a.k.a. the guy with the headdress) is chanting some crazy shit that still lives on in my nightmares.

3. Boooby Traps- As a child I was fascinated by the booby traps in the Indiana Jones movie, but "The Beard" outdoes them all in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" where Indy has to go through not one but three elaborate traps to get to the grail. You know the stakes are high when the young terrified nazi tries to go through and his head comes rolling out like a soccer ball. Of course, it's not problem for Indiana Jones.

4. Hiding in Public View- This often forgot film has a great chase scene when Tom Cruise evades capture by hiding behind the things he knows are going to happen. It has been more done more recently in some effect in the "Bourne" films, but first done here it's effective and exhilarating.

5. Dude Eaten Off Toilet- So fitting that the guy who's a huge ass in "Jurassic Park" get's eating while sitting on the toilet. A great way Steven takes a movie that had me melting in fear (and awe) at the dinosaurs and makes it just a little bit funny. (readers note, from now on I'm going to use this clip on the blog to show when things are awesome, stay tuned)

December 16, 2008

Motivational Speeches!!!!! YEAHHHHH!

You know you've made it as an actor when your given "the speech" by a screenwriter. You know what I'm talking about, "the speech", so rousing, so earth shatteringly powerful you can just destroy it and become a screen legend.

Too often motivational speeches are usually associated with combat. Yet what can I say, if I was wearing heavy ass armor, clenching a blade, surrounded by my brothers is arms, and facing a blood thirsty army, I would want to some hero to get my all jacked up.

The crazy thing is these speeches are not that really hard to write, they are just hard to deliver convincingly. To prove this, I'll hit with a lil motivational speech for the holidays.

There will come a day, when the hope for the future is extinguished by the fires of evil. But let day come long after we have left this earth. Your destiny belongs to no one you but yourself, now go and celebrate the holidays I say! Celebrate!! Ahhhhhhh, ughhhhh"

Does an Eyepatch make you super cool or super lame?

I'm going to be airborne for most of the day, so I'll make this brief. Eye-patches are not cool in my book. It's not because Tom Cruise is wearing one in "Valkyrie", it's just that after thinking about it, I feel like they are completely un-necessary. I mean no disrespect to people who wear them in real life, I mean that's in a different story, but in thislalife, eye patches should only be worn by villains. And if villains do so, they should take the eyepatch off promptly which should then reveal a nasty scar or a creepy glass eye. Then and only then will we know how menacing they really are and reafirm what we already knew: eyepatches are weak.

December 15, 2008

Christmas Classics: Die Hard

My family has been having a Christmas caroling party for over 25 years (yes that means we go outside and sing Christmas carols). After the singing, the younger aged singers retreat downstairs to the basement and watch "Die Hard." If there are younger kids wanna know what's going on downstairs or what we're watching, I tell em we're watching a Christmas classic that may or not contain language as colorful as the Christmas tree lights, lots of blood, and oh yeah, it's the one of the best action flicks everywhere.

The film has a great holiday vibe to it. Whether it's "Christmas in Hollis" on the soundtrack, dead guards wearing Santa hats, or McClane taping guns to his back with the holiday tape, this film gets me all jacked up about the holidays.

But besides these cool little holiday stocking stuffers, what really makes this film so awesome are all the colorful characters. First you got McClane, who is so badass, new school action stars like Jason Statham should study him in class. Then you got Hans Gruber, aka the little shit who wants all the Christmas gifts (aka the money in the safe). And then there's Argyle, the limo driver, overflowing with the Christmas spirit.

So did I maybe freak out one too many kids by showing them Die Hard when they probably still didn't know the truth about Santa? Yeah, but whatever, getting freaked is a small ticket to pay when the film is action classic. And if the parents ask what we were watching down there: "It's a Christmas movie, Yippie Kay Yay!"

December 14, 2008

Sunday Trailer: Knowing

When I saw the first trailer for this flick, I thought it was going to suck. But this trailer has me thinking that this could be a surprise. Then again, this movie looks to be one of those films that looks like an "enjoyable thriller" but when it comes to the doing the deed of purchasing that ticket, I just can't fork over my cash.

December 13, 2008

Saturday Nerd Post: Is it cool to be a Rock Band?

It was early and I was awake, showered, and ready for whatever the day presented me. After breakfast I decided to play just a little bit o' "rock band", you know work on my guitar skills. I played a couple (5 songs), went to work, ate a meal, came back and played again. I started to think that I needed to practice more so I could rock harder. In time I could pulverize guitar solos of AC/DC "Let there be Rock," but it wasn't enough. I woke up earlier the next day.

This story above happens to many, and like many of the people who the enjoy the game, you gotta think if you being a guitar hero is not really what matters. I mean it's cool to wow friends with finger dexterity, impeccable rhythm, and fancy acrobatic moves, but seriously, you aren't really playing an instrument. It's like fat kids boasting about nasty at football because they play Madden, someone isn't getting the message.

So let's clarify, if you're nasty at Rock Band or Guitar Hero, you're just good a video games, pick up a real axe, try to shred and then we'll talk.

December 12, 2008

The Wolverine Trailer (a.k.a. The Day The Earth Stood Still)

FACT: The new "Wolverine" trailer is attached to "The Day The Earth Stood Still"

You know your movie is bad when you're advertising the trailers that are playing before it. That's like advertising that batting practice is better than the actual game. But question is does placing a big time trailer before a mega film add or subtract from the film going experience.

On one hand, a round of good trailers can prep the film for enjoyment. The audience is inclined to like the film because every trailer was so mind-expandingly awesome that they be all jacked up up .Whether it is the new "Heads are meant to explode" Punisher film or some depression junkies going to see "Revolutionary Road," a good round of trailers serve as the base hits leading up to what should be the grand slam of a film.

The whole other beast here is that if you're trailer is driving audiences to the theatre, what happens after they see what they came to see. They get up and head over to Cold Stone for some ice cream with extra flavors? They record the trailer, go home and and upload it to youtube? Or they sit through the film? Basically by attaching and selling the trailer, not the movie, you're already ruinining the film.

It's a tough debate, but damn, I'm going nuts waiting for "Wolverine", but slow down there champ, because there is so force in the galaxy that could make me see "The Day The Earth Stood Still."

December 11, 2008

The Curious Case Of The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

I saw this film last night at a screening with director David Fincher. And after viewing it I'm curious about a couple of things.
1. Why anybody would not see this film this Holiday season. It has romance, action, comedy, special effects that are so good you don't realize they are special effects, and most all heart.
2. How does Brad Pitt deliver a performance as the title character that is so simple, yet so deeply emotional?
3. Where has Cate Blanchett been or trained that made her into such an incredible actress? Did she study with acting Jedi or is the performance force just strong with her.
4. What events in David Fincher's life lead up to him making such an interesting movie about a person's life. Almost every part of a human's life is tackled in this film from the first time they get drunk, to first kisses, to death? But for a filmmaker who's past work has been so bleak, what changes in a person's life to lead them to make a film so life affirming?

So if you dont' get it, I loved this movie. It's a technical triumph on every level, but more importantly, it's immensely touching. Movies like this are rare, so treat youself and see it on the big screen.

December 9, 2008

Has Christian Bale Become Batman

Yesterday was a big day for Christian Bale. "The Dark Knight" came out on DVD and the new trailer for "Terminator: Salvation" was released. My how things have changed for the young man who once sung and dance in "Newsies." But after watching the Terminator trailer, I have this creeping fear that Bale, a skilled actor has become Bruce Wayne, aka The Dark Knight, aka Batman.

Christian Bale has some serious acting jobs, one must only watch "The Prestige" or "The Machinist" to see this. However, with Terminator he seems to be reverting back to the Batman "devil on vocal steroids" voice that he perfected in the two caped crusader films. If you don't know what I'm talking about check it out here.

But hope is not lost, Bale is also in this summer's "Public Enemies" with Johnny Depp, and considering that film is a gangster epic set in the 1920's, I don't expect him to tapping into that gutteral roar which is reserved for crushing robots and destroying jokers.

December 8, 2008

Three Cups of Tea aka You Can Do It

Whatever you strive to do in your life, you can do it. If you want to build a pool full of money so you can dive it into like Scrooge from duck tales, you can do it. If you want to make a movie about time traveling professors, you can do it. Because honestly if Greg Mortenson can build 30 schools in Pakistan you can do it.

Lost in the Himalayas after a failed attempt at the beast of mountain called K2, Greg Mortenson found himself in a small village in mountainous Pakistan. After the villagers nursed him back to health, he promised to return and build them a school. And although he had no house, no money, and didn't speak in the language, he returned with supplies and build a school for the villagers. Oh yeah, he then returned and build more than 30 schools all around Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He also started a non-profit group called the Central Asia Institute dedicated to building more schools and helping community. His story is chronicled in the awesome book "Three Cups of Tea," which I recommend to all of you.

So if you are ever doubting whether you can achieve your goals, think of Mr. Mortenson, I mean, if he can travel around the world, to help children, you can do anything you put your mind to, even if it involves swimming in money.

December 7, 2008

Can you wear shorts on Christmas

Out of all the holidays, Christmas is the unique because it's got a buildup. If it was a movie, it would have a dope montage set to a pounding 80's synth score. You have the listing making, gift buying, holiday parties, Christmas tree selection, Christmas tree set up, Santa Claus experiences, advent calendars, egg nog, "Die Hard" on TV (shit yeah!), and the promise of a great day at the end.

Yet here in LA, I'm not in the Christmas spirit, and honestly this bothers me. Maybe it's because I'm not at college and not getting rowdy as girls dressed up like Santa "helpers" go bananas to Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas." Maybe it's because I'm used to schlepping through snow, putting on one piece snow suits to shield myself from the snow, and straining my back shoveling snow. Either way, I'm forcing myself in Christmas mode, and here's a couple things you can do as well.

1. Get you Christmas music game up. Considering that I now live close to the LBC, this means I am bumping "Christmas Time in the LBC" by the Dogg Pound as I roll down sunset...with the windows down.

2. Get some fake snow and make a snowman. Granted having enough fake snow to make a snow man would cost you about 80 bones it's probably worth it.

3. If you missed it, watch "Die Hard," not that car takes out helicopter garbage, that real deal Christmas in Hollis Die Hard one. If you dont know, stay tuned I'll post on it tomorrow.

It's Christmas in LA, and it's different, it's a car chase to say the least. But hey, that's LA Life.

Sunday Trailers: Che

Well, right here, we have the trailer for the new film "Che" starring Benicio Del Toro. This film is interesting to me because it has pretty huge star with Benicio, a successful director with Steven Soderbergh, and an interesting subject, yet no one seems to be talking about. You'd think that all the people who have Che t-shirts would be lining up to see this. Yet then again, most people who have Che shirts have no idea who he really is.

December 6, 2008

Saturday Nerd Post: GTA IV Is the Illest.

My cool ideas usually involve ninjas, motorcycles, explosions, epic gunfights, and airborne cars flying through the air. Now if I want to make these ideas come to life I can either.
1. Become a famous movie director and watch them on the silver screen.
2. Draw them out in storyboards, write them in screenplays, and hope someone buys them
3. Turn on my xbox, start GTA and have my hero on the motorcyle drive his wheels onto a train and then shoot down a helicopter, dash to the ocean, get in a high speed boat chase, and die valiantly in a hail of bullets on the beaches of New York as the sunsets.

For now, I'm working on options 1 and 2, but option three is so easy. Thanks, GTA.

December 5, 2008

Friday At the Movies: Punishment

Punisher: War Zone opens today across the land, and like many of you, I, will not be seeing it. The fact that I'm not excited for this film, is a little heartbreaking for me because I consider myself a mid-level Punisher fan; I've read his comic, seen the other movies, played the video games, OK so But with this recent film, I can't help but wonder if this character has overstayed his welcome.

The character who was first introduced in 1974, really became popular in the 80's. He was the prototype embodiment of1980's vigilante justice, a fictional counterparts to the Bernie Goetz of the era. His origin is basically the same as Batman (family killed by parents, seeks vengeance), but unlike Bats, Punisher has no problem icing fools like a baker (ZING!).

Yet, vigilantes aren't that cool anymore. With this rise of Barrack Obama, suddenly people really don't need the bullet, cause the ballot actually worked for once. People don't want insane violence because it dominates the news (terrorist attacks and two wars raging). What do they want, apparently vampire romances, and heroes like James Bond and Batman, who are violent, yet know their limits. Unlike the 80's, where excess reigned supreme, looks like this Punisher just doesn't belong anymore (just so you know I spared you from a lame, he should be punished joke)

December 3, 2008

Rewarding The Risk-Takers

The new Kanye West CD, takes two elements of modern day hip-hop: the drum machine (Roland TR-808 Drum Machine) and the Auto Tune (a.k.a. T-Pain's best friend) and uses them to create something fresh. Don't get it twisted, doing this, especially, after the previous formula was working so well, is a huge risk.

But to be great, you got to take risks. In sports, you gotta run that gutsy play, take that big shot, steal that base. In business, you gotta, well, I'm not a business man, but I'm sure there is some risk involved. And in the arts, almost any project is a risk. With each painting, song, or film you're exposing yourself to the world. I mean look what happened to Britney Spears (that is if you consider her an artist). With this new Kanye disc, he's baring his soul, venting about his personal demons (which apparently are plentiful).

Yet this risk-taking can be toxic. It's fitting that in the same week Kanye's risky record comes out, another record "Chinese Democracy" by Guns N' Roses finally came out after over a decade of waiting. One one hand is the new artist, heading in a new direction, and on the other hand is the wicked old rock star finally delivering what was a risky project when Clinton was still President and not Secretary of State.

Sometimes the risk works out and sometimes it doesn't, I guess that's the way of life, whether it's in LA or anywhere else.

Is this the new hit youtube video?

Alright, I have no idea what's going in this video, but it takes me back to when I was a kid and saw "The Witches", which in case you don't know is a terrifying movie. Also if you didn't know "The Witches" is getting re-made, probably with the purpose of scrambling the minds of a whole new generation of kids.

Speaking of scrambling, this video is a like a plate of eggs (zing!). Think about these questions.

1. What are they scared of?- Is it the puppet? Why are there scared of a cute little pink puppet? What crucial slice of intel are we missing here.
2. The Boy Hides Behind The Other Boy- Why is he doing this? Doesn't this kid know the deal, you gotta be brave, and if you're freaked, don't grab onto your buddy. It makes things awkward later on.
3. Why is he hitting himself in the end?- This part is so strange, it reminds me of the part in "Signs" where the Alien is at the Brazilian birthday party.

Either way, this is a classic vid, on par with the legendary "video status."

December 2, 2008

Cheeky Bulls, Rovers, and Ladies: Welcome to Australia

Grandmas are the primary audience for the new film "Australia." For it is a film so old fashioned, so romantic, and so epic it would fit in in the giant epics of the past. Oh I did I mention that it's a great ride.

A great ride, that's my primary goal when going to a movie like this. Sure I like this super emotional, super heady, super oh-man-that-was-so-depressing-I-can't-eat-a-sandwhich-without-crying emotional (this is what happens when I see any
Clint Eastwood directed film).

Yet Australia is about as non-depressing as you can get. It's pure popcorn, it's popcorn covered in so much butter the bag is greasy goodness. It is non-stop traditional moviemaking and storytelling. Heroic cowboys, fish-out-of-water scenarios with beautiful ladies, sweeping vistas, nefarious villains, and adorable kids. Everyone has a happy ending (except the bad guys of course).

Too often we think of "ride" or entertaining movies as movies where
robots engage in battle royales, superheros shoot white stuff out their hands, or landmarks get destroyed. Australia is that ride movie, however it's just rolls along like a cattle stampede, yet instead of a cattle stampede, it's more a old fashioned Grandma stampede. And they're all rolling to theatre.

November 27, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire = The Dark Knight

"Slumdog Millionaire" and "The Dark Knight" are two shining examples of movie magic at it's finest. "Slumdog Millionaire", the new film from Danny Boyle, is a brilliant and touching study of what effect hope and optimism can have on people's lives. "The Dark Knight" on the other hand is a masterful and terrifying study on what fear can do to a society and an individual's character. Yet while "The Dark Knight" is the product of eight years of the Bush Administration, "Slumdog" is a product of the hope that begin to seep into the world with the emergence of Barrack Obama.

Both films show the physical and cultural effects a society can have a person. Just as the Bruce Wayne story could not exist with the massive skyscrapers and colorful citizens of Gotham, Jamal from "Slumdog" would not be succeeding on the show if it wasn't for the slums. However, beyond the physical is the cultural. Batman exists because he thrives off the fear of the criminals of the city. Jamal answers questions on the show based off cultural experience, a hodge podge of almost every cultural aspect of India, from cricket to celebrity figures to mantras on it's flag.

And finally, both films are very traditional stories at heart. Jamal is noble "knight" driven by never ending love for his princess. He undergoes many trials on his quest, including a climax with the King (the millionaire host (why is he the king, cause he's got the loot ). Batman is a knight driven to save his kingdom, at great personal cost to himself. However, where one film shows the toils of being a hero and believing in good, the other film soars on the power of hope.

November 25, 2008

Batman is Dead

According to numerous real news sources, Batman is going to die today in the final issue of his current comic run titled R.I.P.. Written by Grant Morrison, the current run of the comic has Bruce Wayne finding out some nasty truths from his past.

First things first, let's me real here. Batman is not dying, people die in comic books all the time. Superman died, he came back, sure he had to deal with some bullshit (alien supermen mainly), but the dude's back. Captain America died, he's back, I mean you think can kill the American spirit. Hell naw.

Second off, the timing of this could not have been better. Warner Brothers, which owns DC comics is having a Batman spectacular. First this comic event happens then The Dark Knight comes out on DVD and fanboys around the world explode in a brilliant burst of Batman love and spending.

However, the comic book geek in me has to get one thing out here. This "death" has the potential to be interesting because Batman is one of the most grounded superheroes. There are no powers involved here, so a death to the character would have to result in two things.

1. Resurrection: This would take the character into the realm of the supernatural, something that Christopher Nolan and the boys at Warner Brothers Pictures do not support.

2. A New Batman: Bruce Wayne such a huge part of the character. His guilt drives him, so anybody taking over would be strange.

Either way, DC and Warner Brothers are at a crossroads. I'm saying old Bat's will be back. Maybe even in time for the new Batman film.

I saw Twilight, yeah, I saw it

I mean it's not like I'm bragging about when I'm watching 24, drinking beers, and playing Gears of War 2 with the fellas, but yeah, I saw the vampire chick-flick fantasy film. And I gotta say, it's an effective film for it's core audience.

The core audience in this case are the women in the audience who were losing their shit whenever "hair man" Robert Pattinson graced the screen.

But by far the best scene in the film is when the vampires go play baseball in a thunderstorm. You see they use the crack of thunder to hit the crack of the bat as they crank monster hits. Of course, their superior vision, strength, and speed make it so even garguantuan hits are merely doubles or singles. Basically it's what the MLB would have become if steroid use was encouraged and required.

I'm sure that somewhere in the great graveyard of movie villians, Dracula is watching this scene and thinking, damn, dude, I never got to play baseball. I coulda hadda shot. But, I shouldn't shit on the movie, the ladies loved it. Me, I'm sticking with "True Blood."

November 23, 2008

Jack's back, the entourage continues, and the blood stay's mostly true

Last night on the television was a big one. Two popular shows ("Entourage" and "True Blood") ended their seasons and one hugely popular show returned after being absent for more than a year ("24"). I'm going to briefly share my thoughts of each of the three. Starting with the worst and ended up with the return of the modern day action hero, Jack "Torture Me" Bauer.

Just as plenty of girls flock to NYC to seek out their "Sex and the City" dreams, complete with Mr. Big's and cupcakes at Magnolia, "Entourage" is the same, except it's with dudes migrating to LA to seek money, power, respect, and babes. It's about friendship, sex, power, fame, fashion, more naked babes, and money. That being said, the season finale was decent, but not good enough. I don't care for Vinnie Chase cause he's a movie star, his problems are nothing compared to the rest of the world. My teachers at school always said "raise the stakes" and when you're a movie star trying to get a role, it's just not that interesting compared to saving African refuges.

This show, new this season, is "Twilight" for grown-ups and kid's who can get through their cable box's parental codes. Full of sex, blood, and violence, yet also jam packed with strong characters, the show has been a pleasant surprise. The finale was decent and wrapped up the major plot threads, it did a decent job of setting up next season, but it didn't pack that oh damn, shit, I gotta call my buddies moment as most finales do.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, so good to have my boy Jack Bauer back on the TV, taking names and getting tortured for the good of others. Full disclosure here, I'm straight monkey bananas about this show. I see past all the politics, improbable plot lines, weak seasons, and ultra-dramatic story arcs and see it for what it is. Pure, action spy dankness (that means good). This "movie" or warm for the new season was just what I needed. You had bad villians, new tag lines (Kill the Cock-co-roach!", and Jack Bauer throwing dynamite at bad dudes. The washington DC scenes were interesting enough to set up the season, but the real star here was Jack, saving the world, one African refuge at a time (he's even giving out scarfs). I'm pumped to have this show back. And those people who are counting, I think Bauer took down about 13 dude's last night. Hopefully the people at 24 kill count will keep track.

Sunday Trailers: The Wrestler

Not much to say about this one besides the fact that this movie looks incredible.

November 22, 2008

Saturday Nerd Post: Lara's Back

A big chested impossibly good lucking heroine avoids booby traps and fights exotic monsters. This is a sentence that gets teenage boys drooling and studio exec salivating. On paper the concept of "The Tomb Raider" franchise of movies, video games, and comics makes plenty of sense. Males of almost any age are into those things, and some women are into the female empowerment thing.

Since it first came out in 1996, there have been two movies, 16 video games, and a comic book series, yet the whole series never has been as face meltingly awesome as it should be. The video games were a little too buggy, the movies a little too silly, and the comics a little too objectifying.

The new video game is coming out now, so here's hoping it lives up to that initial promise

November 21, 2008

Friday Preview (Dogs, Vamps, and Drugs)

Dogs, vampires and superheroes, that is what we are working with this weekend at the multiplex. When you think about, that trio is almost guaranteed to deliver a hit. Throughout history, adorable dogs, blood sucking vampires, and buffed out superheroes typically deliver the goods, so why would this weekend be any different? Makes you think, when is the movie about a the vampire dog with superpowers coming out?

First up you have the
new Disney flick "Bolt" starring the voices of John Travolta ( a little note here, people make fun of Travolta for being a scientologist, but the dude was in "Broken Arrow" and the 7th grade classic "Face/Off", so he's legit in my book) and Miley Cyrus. I'm not going to see this in theaters, but if I watch it with my little cousins at Thanksgiving, I won't be complaining.

And of course, you have the "Twilight", the teen vampire romance action spectacular. It stars "hair man" aka Robert Pattinson and is about a chick that falls in love with a vampire in the
same town that Rambo is from ( I don't know if that is true, but the towns look the same). People are pumped about this movie, but when I say people, I mean girls who are dreaming of the day a dashing stranger who may or may not be a vampire sweep them away from their boring life. I had one of the books once and was going to read it, but my buddy's girlfriend snatched it from my possession. Tough break or a blessing in disguise?

And finally we have "Special", the new super hero starring Michael Rapaport as a guy who takes a test drug and may or may not have gained super powers from it. Rapaport is great character
actor who has been in many great films including "Higher Learnings" and the TV show "Boston Public." The concept of people doing drugs and thinking they are super-heroes is not original. Damn, I know some people who have smoked weed before and thought they had x-ray vision (dude I can see my bones dude, I'm tweaking out).

The Verdict
: Go see Bolt, it's Disney, it's a dog and doesn't involve vampires or drugs. It's good clean fun.

November 19, 2008

The Hate Problem with Prop 8

Proposition 8 is a state ballot proposition in California to define marriage as between a woman and man. Simply put it would outlaw gay marriage. Now I don't want to get to sucked into the moralistic debate that is gay rights. I will say I support gay people and the fact that people would discriminate or seek to deny them rights is un-American and wrong. I mean I'm from Boston, we were doing this Gay rights thing when Californians were deciding to elect John Matrix (that's Arnold name from Commando) as governor.

Now that Proposition 8 passed, the shit is really hitting the fan. Recently there has been a movement by people opposed to proposition 8 to gather voter information, and then protest anybody who supported it. The list is posted online. Check out this article here about the "list."

For example, take Scott Eckern, the artistic director of the California Music Theater, recently resigned to protect the non-profit organization when it was revealed he was on the list. Dude straight up lost his job because of his political standing.

For all the people who oppose Prop 8, doesn't the practice of going on witch hunts for people who oppose their beliefs to go with the very ideas of the Proposition, mainly discriminating against people for their beliefs?

November 18, 2008

Sport The Iguana (Coolest Pet Ever)

B Did's Bob Blake and I were the first to find Sport outside of the cage. My older brother (the one who had taken the cage outside) was lounging in the hammock and did not notice that our Iguana had escaped. We lowered out SS100 (Super Soakers, and such a screwed up ad) and approached the green pet with caution, yet our footsteps were like thunderbolts to his Iguana hearing.

Once he was on the run, B Dids, my brothers, and about six other neighborhood kids were in on the chase. We used the following items with no success.
1. Buttefly Net- Distinitgrated on contact
2. Lettuce trap- He ate the lettuce and kept running
3. SS 200- Did seem to mind the pressurized water blast
4. Water Balloons- Could withstand the water.

After all this, Sport climbed up a three story White Pine, chilled out for about 2 days and then disappeared for the months of May, June, July, August, and September. He was found when a friendly neighbor raked a pile of leaves off his lawn to reveal a very real iguana. Of course the man thought he had a found a dinosaur and promptly, had a heart-attack (he was fine) and called 911 to report the "6 Foot Green Lizard."

My family and I picked up Sport at the pet store that night. No longer a domestic animal, he was ferocious beast of the suburbs. He whipped things with his tail, bit objects even though he didn't have teeth, and was a master escape artist who had a knack for escaping around Christmas and posting up in the tree with the ornaments..

He was the coolest pet three boys with allergies could have ever have. He made the gold-fish terrorizing, meat eating, bad-ass fish we also had look like a boring version of Nemo. Later Sport, you had a good run. 16 years for an Iguana, with a life so full, is pretty damn sweet.

November 17, 2008

Viva La Hova, Viva La Musica

In the new James Bond flick, there is a remarkable scene staged in Austria at a floating Opera in Austria. Marc Foster, the director cuts between a chase, a shootout, the opera singer, and the actors on the stage. It's a fascinating example of how anything can change with a little bit of juxtaposition. A perfect example of this is the new mixtape "Viva La Hova", which takes Coldplay songs and matches them up with Jay-Z songs. Below are the singular versions of "Lost" by Coldplay and "Mama Loves Me" by Jay-Z.

Yet just like the scene in Bond, when the two of them are combined, the effect is something amazing. The written music of Coldplay accentuates the lyrical skill of Jay-Z, it adds more weight to his words, which are already poignant.

One can not say that the combination of two musical giants is not interesting, yet it should be surprising to anyone. In the 21st century, traditional roles are blurring in media. A movie star could be on TV shows, TV writers could be making huge movies, rap stars can be "making" records with rock stars, video games can sell make more money than movies. It's all new, it's all part of this world we live in and this LA life.

UFC is Cool?

Even though I love action movies, I've never really been a fan of live-action spectacles. Boxing is a sport that feels dated to me and my generation. It reminds me of a young Mohamed Ali, a pre-grill George Foreman, and people like Sonny Liston (he might be a saxophone player). I also have never gotten into UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). I always thought it was just two dudes wresting in a cage, and I'm not that into that.

This all changed Saturday night. Maybe it was the fact that the night before, I had just saw the testosterone driven "Quantum of Solace", or the fact I was watching the fight with some of my fraternity brothers from school while I was drinking mad beer, but I loved the UFC championship match of Brock Lesnar and Randy Couture. In case you were wondering Couture is the small dude getting his face smashed by the gigantic giant Lesnar, who is one of the frightening people I have ever seen. As for Randy, he reminds me of Santa Clause (no idea why).

There was something so crazy about just watching the two dudes compete. I felt like I was at the Coliseum, watching Maximus fight that dude with the tigers (minus the bloody ending). I liked the thrill of the fight, the roar of the crowd, and the fact that at any moment the fight would end. And while the fight was short (2.5) rounds, it was satisfying.

So perhaps I'm starting to like UFC, maybe this is part of growing up?

November 16, 2008

Sunday Trailers: Watchmen Trailer

Here we have the trailer for the flick " Watchmen." As someone who considers myself a level 5 comic book nerd, I have to say I'm just not that excited for this movie. It looks like they have taken a classic comic book that is so dense, so deep, and so emotional, and crafted an action movie out of it. If there ever was a time that people really need to read the book before the movie, this is the time.

November 15, 2008

Iron Man in James Bond

Yesterday, I saw the new Bond flick, I'll talk more about later next week. However, at many parts during the movie the "Iron Man" computer shows up. I'm of course referring to the hands on touch screen display that Stark using to build the Iron Man armor. The fact that this technology is in both James Bond and Iron Man (and also the classic Minority Report) supports my belief of the all these action flicks are connected.

Tony Stark Creates Computer (Summer 2008)------>Bond Uses it (Fall 2008)-------> It is Minority Report (which takes place in the future)

November 14, 2008

Life in the Era of JB (Bauer, Bourne, and Bond)

My mom once described James Bond movies as all about "killing people and throwing women in closets." In some sense every Bond movie up to "Casino Royale" was essentially about this. Bond was the smooth mack; a secret agent with the flyest gadgets, the right words with the ladies, and the deadly skills to dispatch enemies with gentle ease. Yet something happened: the world changed and James Bond changed with it.

The new Bond reflects the world of the 21st century. Villains are no longer simple dictators like they were in the cold war. The villains are corporate business men and small parts of organizations that span the globe. And with villains like these stalking the the seven continents, James Bond does not have time to eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, drink martinis, or chase women.

"Die Another Day", the last Brosnan, and traditional Bond came out in 2002. This means it had been in development for at least a year. In 2001, "24" aired it's first season and in 2002 the first Bourne movie came out. It is no coincidence that the Bond ("Casino Royale") after these two spy franchises was completely different.

The new spy in the 21st century is one of constant engagement, a.k.a he doesn't get nap time. Just as the Bush Administration created the "axis of evil", the new super spy, is one that is constantly on edge, and always willing to engage threats. Consider the following similarities.

1. All of their initials are JB. I know this is obvious, but's it still interesting on a semantic level.
2. All of them have lost someone close to them. Bond it was Vespa, Bourne it was the girl from Run Lola Run, and Bauer it was his wife.
3. All of them have served their country and suffered from it. Bond lost the girl he loved, Bourne has some deep memory problems, and Bauer is just a killing machine who has lost the ability to love.
4. All of them fight evil organizations, no matter if they are internal threats (Bourne, Bauer) to external.
5. All of them don't have time to play around with women. And if they do, the girl will probably be slayed, and I mean that it killing way, not the other way.

All the reviews of the "Quantum" say it is just a epic action movie that features no gadget or no scenes Bond cruising chicks. He can't, how can you, when you compete with the other JB's out there.

November 12, 2008

Waterworld Strikes Again

I recently caught about 20 minutes of this flick on cable and it got me thinking. Is "Waterworld" the shit? Or is it just shitty? I'll make the case for both.

Waterwold sucks ass compared to classic Costner movies like "Dances with Wolves" and "The Untouchables." The fact that people are surviving on this world of agua makes no sense.
Where are they getting their fuel from? What are they snacking on besides sushi? How exactly does that machine that turns pee to water work? Where are they getting their supplies? Why is everyone dirty if the world's biggest bathtub is constantly around them? Questions like this riddle the movie with holes, but chances are you didn't think about it, because the story was so damn stupid.

The Shit
Evil pirates drive jet skis. Look at that sentence, it probably made some producer in pre-production meetings smile cunningly. Everything in the flick is super dope. The MacGyver like boat that Costner drives, so damn fly. The scene where he takes the chick down to New York on a date to get dirt, so ridiculously smooth. The end, where they survive a "Waterworld" only to find land that looks exactly like "Jurassic Park", so damn meta (all blockbusters are connected man) All of it combines for a campy flick that is not to be forgotten.

The Verdict: Waterworld like Kevin Costner himself, just exists. It's not bad, it's not good, it's just there, popping up n cable to remind you that it was made, and at the time is was dope. However, it also reminds you of how stupid it is. It's like Costner, every now and then he has a movie come out, and people are like, oh damn, he's kind of cool, but then they don't go the movie*.

*Except Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, that movie is ill, not sick

Action Movie Catch-Up: The Professional

This is where I reflect on classic action movies I have just recently seen, and revealing to you that I haven't seen them until now, I'm revealing that I'm a little bit of a rookie.

Starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, and a young Natalie Portman, the film is directed by french action director Luc Besson. The story is simple: Portman's family is killed by a bad guy (Oldman) and she goes to live with the hitman next door (Reno). Eventually the shit storm that accompanies having your family get iced and then moving in with the hitman next door catches up to them.

1. Legit Action- None of the bullet curving bullshit or fancy car-chases, just badass dudes blasting each other with huge guns in gritty yet still Hollywood battles. It's not overly violent, it's not too cartoony, it's just right. The scene where Reno takes out an entire SWAT team is action gold, and I know my action gold like I'm running Fort Knox.

2. Solid Acting- From Natalie Portman's simple performance, to Reno learning how to love, to Gary Oldman's creepy spine twist, this film shows that even action movies can break the stereotype and have great acting.

3. Direction- Besson has made some big studio pictures (The Fifth Element) but it is clear in his use of close-ups, music, symoblic motiffs that he is a European filmakeer with his own style in his composition of shots and his story structure (Besson wrote the film) that he is on some serious deeper level business.

Conclusion: Classic, the film delivers, has tight pacing, great performances, and lives up to the hype. Check it out.

November 10, 2008

Great LA Debate: Window's Down or Up

Unlike, New York, the public transportation system here in Los Angeles is weak sauce. The consequence of this is that everybody drives everywhere. This leads to a wide variety of problems including smog, traffic, and whether you should listen to the radio or a mix tape. And then there the classic question: windows down or AC on?

1. AC- You can make like Mr. Freeze and seal the windows tight, and get those climate controls so precise you'd make Al Gore jealous. The benefit to the AC is that you are avoiding the heat. While the outside world may be sweltering you are locked away from the outside world in your own little refrigerated cocoon. The negative thing is that according to urban legend, or common knowledge AC wastes more gasoline. And if Al Gore is correct, the more gas you burn, the hotter the world will get, and quicky we will be living on "Waterworld" . It's a vicious cycle.

2. Windows Down- I'm sorry if the picture representing windows down is not as cool as the Mr. Freeze pic, but it's a great picture of a car with plenty of windows down. The benefits of having the windows down is that you can let the outside world in. You can hear the sounds of a city, smell the California air, and share your choice of music with the world. Make no mistake, if I'm on sunset, I'm bumping the freshest tunes. However, in the LA heat, with windows down, sometimes the heat can be unbearable.

The Verdict: Windows down, I'm doing as my ancestors did, air conditioners are for houses.