Jersey Housewives “Into The Lion’s Den”

With shows like Lost and Big Bang Theory coming to an end either for good or the season, I want to fill the void with some other shows. In this case it will be with my somewhat embarrassing addiction to Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New Jersey and New York. Even if you’re not watching either of these shows, I think anyone can enjoy at least the craziness of Jersey. There’s a completely crazy woman on this show named Danielle who really needs to be seen to be believed.

Before getting into all that nonsense though, I figured I’d let you know what happened with the rest of the episode. Not only did Teresea bring her new baby daughter home from the hospital, but she took her oldest daughter and what looked like 20 of her friends out for makeovers in a giant pink limo for her 9th birthday party. Being stuck in the car with that many little, probably spoiled girls? That’s my personal hell.

Meanwhile, Jaqueline went over to meet with her 20 year old daughter’s boyfriend’s mom and the pair go drunk on red wine. At one point it looked like they were going to make out. It was crazy andmade me cringe. Before that, two of Caroline’s kids when out to dinner with Jaqueline’s daughter and her boyfriend and the whole thing was awkward, but it was nice to see Albie grill the dude a little. Why his sister brought up marriage with them is beyond me though.

Earlier in the episode, Caroline’s youngest son’s friend comes over. This is the kid whose mom is seemingly friends with Danielle, the crazy woman. There’s a really awkward moment where Carline is talking to the kid about her relationship with his mom. Oh, also, she admits to shaving her face every morning.

Okay, so the big event of this episode was that there was this charity event being held at the Brownstone (which is co-owned by Dina and Caroline’s husbands). In the previous episode, Danielle (the crazy one) decided to get involved with this charity which is for a young girl with cancer. Of course, she’s all paranoid that being on their turf will be harmful to her somehow, so she brings in her parolee friend (who may have gone to prison for assaulting someone with a hammer) and Caroline’s kid’s friend’s mom. Oh, and we find out later, once they get to the Brownstone, that she also invited 10-20 other burly dudes who may or may not have paid for the event. Meanwhile, she’s talking to the mother of the child who the whole thing is for and telling her she’ll do anything for her, BUT SHE HAS NO MONEY! She’s just saying all this shit to be in the spotlight and making things about her.

But, that’s not all. Danielle things her entire entourage deserves their own big table. The main thug starts making some trouble, which gets the people working the Brownstone to put up another table, but Danielle never stops bitching about anything and eventually leaves, but she says she was kicked out, even though she wasn’t. There was also a moment before the mom-of-the-friend went into the event where Albie said “You’re in for a surprise because you’re over dressed,” or some such. The woman told Danielle who immediately became paranoid and later thought the whole table mishap was referenced by Albie.

All in all this woman is a complete narcissistic nut case. She thinks everything in the world revolves around her and that she needs friggin’ body guards INCLUDING THE LEADER OF THE HELL’S ANGELS TO GO TO A CHARITY EVENT. Aside from getting deservedly locked up, I hope all the people who defend her during this season watch the show and change their tune by watching all this craziness. Even with all that? I can’t wait til the next episode.

Kids Movie Double Feature: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) & Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (2009)

Hope everyone had a good Memorial Day Weekend, I sure did. Though we didn’t do a whole lot, the missus and I did check out a few movies, two of which were decidedly kid-based. I liked both of them, but one definitely more than there other. Let’s begin!

Last night we watched Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson’s stop motion rendition of Roald Dahl’s book of the same name. I’m a big Dahl fan, though I’ve never read FMF. On the other hand, I’m not a huge Anderson fan, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the movie. In the end, I liked it but the movie never really grabbed me. I loved the stop motion and thought it look amazing, especially when they did the moments where the characters move into the background but the camera stays where it is. It looks like a side scrolling video game in that respect and I kind of dug it. Aside from that, though, the movie looks like exactly what it is: a stop motion movie directed by Wes Anderson. Not being a huge fan of the man, it’s not a huge draw for me, but it looked good enough.

The plot is where the movie lost me. It’s not a bad one, but I feel like the movie might move a little too quickly and not allow the emotions of the plot to sink in. Or maybe I just wasn’t all that invested. I’m not sure what it is, but I didn’t particularly care about what was going on. I did like the voice work by George Clooney, Merryl Streep and the rest, but all they did was make me think that this was like a solo animal-filled Danny Ocean movie with the caper theme. Ah well, it wasn’t a bad movie and I’m glad I watched it because it looked rad, but I won’t be watching it again. I would imagine that Anderson fans will and did dig it though.

On the other hand, I really liked the CGI Cloudy With A Chance Of Meat Balls, based on the children’s book by Judi and Ron Barrett with characters voiced by Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Anna Faris, Mr. T (!), Bruce Campbell and a slew of others. I know that I read the book as a kid, but don’t remember it too much. The plot of the movie is that Hader’s character builds a machine that converts water into food. The machine accidentally gets launched into the sky where it starts raining food down on the town. There’s a lot of other stuff going on involving him and his dad and him trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to woo the visiting weather girl played by Faris.

The movie got me early on by starting off with young Hader wanting to be a scientist. I love that sense of inventing for invention sake and experimentation that you can only really get in cartoons and kids movies (it’s the big reason I love Meet The Robinsons). Personally, I get bogged down with actual science (not that I’m an expert by any means) and forget that wonder that comes from the youthful idea that you can invent anything you dream up.

In addition, the plot was fun and fast enough to not really let you get bored and it sucked me in right off the bat. The only problem was that the visual quality of the Netflix Instant went in and out, so the amazing CGI (I’d like to see this in 3D) went from being really crisp to being pixelated.

If you’ve got to watch a movie with some kids, I recommend this one!

Iron Mongering: Iron Man 2 (2010)

I hadn’t heard a lot of great things about Iron Man 2. Between friends and the Totally Rad Show guys, the reviews weren’t the greatest. I think those people are crazy. Sure Iron Man 2 had some problems, but overall, it gave me the things I found the original wanting: a really good final battle (the Iron Man vs. the drones was probably cooler than the final battle with Whiplash), a better actor portraying Rhodey and more action in general.

Some people complained that the movie was too long and maybe felt like there were too many characters which took away from the Tony Stark/Robert Downey Jr. goodness, but I disagree. It felt like a very well paced and balanced movie to me.

I’m not going to get too much into the plot because I’m sure some people haven’t seen it yet, but I will talk about a few things that I really, really liked. First off, Don Cheadle annihilates Terrence Howard’s performance. He should have been in the role from the beginning. Second, even though Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow wasn’t the kind of role I expected it to be, I like they worked her in and her fighting style was awesome to watch. I could definitely go for a movie with just her. Third, the comparison between Howard Stark (Tony’s dad, played perfectly by Mad Men’s John Slattery) and Walt Disney is perfect. It obviously wasn’t directly stated, but between Slattery sporting a Walt-like suit and telling the people at home about his idea for the future and Stark Expo aping the World’s Fair (a showcase for many of Disney’s creations that are still in the parks today), it’s on the screen. Plus, the way Howard helped Tony later in life was awesome.

The movie’s not perfect, though. There was one plot hole early on that I actually forgot in all the awesomeness towards the end, but I did think it was odd that Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash would allow Tony and Rhodey to communicate towards the end of the movie. Rourke was fantastic by the way. I however did not like two of the performances in particular that of the Sams Jackson and Rockwell. Jackson seemed to be playing his role as a buddy of Stark’s which just doesn’t wash for me. And for Rockwell, I’m kind of shocked at how much everyone liked his character, or liked to hate him. Yeah, he was annoying and douchey, but it came off as a bad Dana Carvey impression of that character to me. Hopefully if he shows back up in Iron Man 3, he’ll be a little less over-the-top.

All in all, I had a fantastic time watching Iron Man 2 (I love that they called it Iron Man 2, by the way, and not something with a colon). It had everything I wanted and actually topped my medium-sized expectations. Plus, for me at least, the first Iron Man movie seemed amazing at the time, but on repeated viewings I found it wanting. Maybe that will be the case with IM2, or maybe knowing that the sequel picks up on the potential of the first one and continues on will actually make me enjoy the original more.

Optikk

I got my Masters of the Universe Classics Optikk figure in the mail the other day and it inspired me to draw him in a cool action pose on a strange planet. I have absolutely no knowledge of Optikk’s deal aside from the fact that he’s a Space Mutant from the Adventures of He-Man cartoon. He could be good or bad, I’ve got no idea. Anyway, here’s the drawing. I colored it with colored pencils which might have been ill-advised, but I’ve got stuff to do and will scan it later. Enjoy.

Halloween Scene: Daybreakers (2009)

I think that last movie I saw Ethan Hawke in that I liked was 1997’s Gattaca (I still haven’t seen Training Day yet) which is interesting because I liked Daybreakers as well. They’re both futuristic science fiction flicks, Daybreakers just happens to have vampires. See, the idea is that vampires presented themselves to humanity demanding control of society, humanity said no and became hunted. Now, sometime later, all the humans are almost dead and the government and corporations are trying to come up with a supplement, but Hawke actually discovers a cure after meeting up with humans Willem Dafoe and Claudia Carvan. As you might expect, after figuring out how to replicate the cure, Hawke tries to spread it around (he never wanted to be a vampire in the first place).

On the whole I found the movie to be incredibly enjoyable and the high caliber of actors really added to the total product. The Daybreakers world is kind of like that of Planet of the Apes where the apes didn’t necessarily invent anything, but took over from humanity. In the case of Daybreakers, they improved things to fit their specific needs which makes for some really cool “huh, I didn’t think of that moments” like when the lights go dim and all the vamp’s eyes glow red and the cars which have been outfitted with cameras and plating so as not to let any sunlight in.

It’s touches like that that take this movie out of the usual “we’ve got to stop this big corporation from ruining the world” plot. Of course, the inclusion of vampires, obviously makes the whole thing more interesting. That mixture of genres really piqued my interest. The special effects are also pretty good, through they rely on CGI blood a little more than my liking (like when a car full of vampire’s hits an object and their blood explodes out the back–it makes sense in the movie, I promise). Overall, the look of the film is very solid and serves the movie very well.

There’s two other things I want to talk about. First off, I think LionsGate really screwed up in their ad campaign which made the movie look like The Matrix with vampires. What else would you think looking at the poster to the right? For what it’s worth, this image has very little to do with the movie. I don’t think this is too SPOILERY, but that’s where vampires house their personal blood supply. See, the company is a literal blood bank. You bring a human in, he or she gets hooked up to this machine for safe keeping. As the film goes on, vamps start taking their humans out as the blood shortage gets worse. So, the basic point is that, no, it’s not like The Matrix.

The second point, and this is definitely SPOILER territory, so skip ahead if you don’t want the ending ruined. The cure that Hawke discovers through Dafoe is that exposure to sun can actually undo the effects of vampirism as long as it’s cut off soon enough. Hawke recreates the process on himself and becomes human again. While trying to figure out how to make this a widespread process, he and Dafoe also discover that if a vampire drinks the blood of someone who’s gone from vampire to human, that vampire will turn human. I’m a little torn on this idea because it can be considered an easy out. Who would subject themselves to ridiculously painful burns to become human? How do you make that process actually work in a safe way? There are a lot of problems. On the other hand, I think the whole thing is pretty interesting and I bought it while watching. It was only upon further thought that I questioned things.

I can easily recommend Daybreakers to horror fans. In fact, I can’t think of the last vampire movie I dug. It’s not a grand slam, but it’s a good way to spend an hour and a half for sure.

Commercial Commentary: “Wow That Is A Low Price” Staples

I know I mentioned an earlier version of this commercial when I was trying to figure out the name of the guy who was in it, the Dave & Busters and Yellow Book commercials, but I’ve got to say it’s an increasingly annoying campaign. Anytime your recurring character shouts throughout the ad and annoys the shit out of people, I’ve got to chalk that up to a failure. What makes it all the worse is that the guy with curly hair who looks kind of like Paul Giamatti used to be on TV. And I don’t mean commercials. The dude’s name is Joey Slotnick and I remember him being on a short-lived sitcom called The Single Guy that also featured Jonathan Silverman, Ming-Na and Ernest Borgnine. He also had fairly regular roles on Boston Public (a show I never watched but hear was good) and Alias (though I honestly don’t remember him and I just watched that whole show in the last year). I guess you gotta pay the bills somehow, I just wish it wasn’t by annoying me on a nearly daily basis.

Ad It Up: Extreme Justice Colgate

Sorry for the bad phone picture on this image, but I don’t think the whole thing would fit on my scanner. I was floored when I started seeing these ads a few months back. I get the ones with Frank Quitely All Star Superman artwork of Superman and Super Lois Lane kissing and the Jim Lee art of Catwoman and Batman locking lips, but Amazing Man and Maxima by Tom Morgan from the cover of Extreme Justice #16? Wow, didn’t see that one coming. As some of you know I am a huge Extreme Justice fan, not that I’ve re-read it recently and have heard it make absolutely no sense, but I was a kid at the time and hadn’t been exposed to Image-like teams, so this made my mind melt with youthful awesoemness. Makes you wonder who they tasked with finding these images, right? There have got to be about a thousand more images of more recognizable “heroes getting the girl” (kinda sexist, no?). Oh well, it gave me a geeky little thrill, so I’m totally okay with it. Now to find out where those Wonder Twins have been hiding out after being introduced into actual continuity in this book (and also appearing in the background of, I believe, Final Night!).

Drive-In Couchfest: Country Blue (1973)

I bet I’ve put more thought into Country Blue than most folks, including some of the people who worked on the movie. As the next installment in the Drive-In 50-pack I was leery for two reasons, first, the previous entry was a pretty huge load of crap, and second, it’s got a 108 minute run time. Then once it started, I thought I was in for a real crap fest thanks to some awkward freeze framing, bad sound and inane cutting from action to the credits. But, in the end, I kind of liked the movie.

It must be said that this isn’t necessarily a good or original movie. Technically, it’s pretty bad and logically you want to scream at the TV, but some folks are really like that, so you can’t fault the story. The acting varies from person to person with the lead (and director thanks to talks with guys like Jeff Bridges and Robert Blake running long and threatening to squash the movie) varying from God awful to pretty good. The old man known as Jumpy is a ton of fun, as is the Ex Lax T-shirt he wears throughout the entire movie. And the lead’s girlfriend Ruthie, played by Rita Georg is stunning and not such a bad actress either.

The story revolves around Bobby Lee, a guy who can’t stay in one place too long. He just got out of jail for robbing a convenience store, but has his sights set on robbing a bank and moving to Mexico. Unfortunately for Bobby Lee, he’s kind of a dumbass. He and Ruthie rob the bank, her mask falls off and they refer to each other by their first names. THEN, after getting away, they rob a store and just stop to hang out near a lake only to get pissed when he reads a newspaper article that talks about how the bank president tricked him. So, of course, they go back and rob the bank again.

It’s a familiar story. Bobby Lee’s the kind of guy who just can’t let himself fit into society. He also doesn’t seem to try, not wanting to do the job Jumpy offers him. He wants a lot and doesn’t want to work to get it. There’s actually a pretty interesting metaphor that just kind of sits in some of the scenes without calling too much attention to itself: Jumpy’s monkey. The monkey’s in a cage in front of Jumpy’s garage always trying to get out. I was actually surprised that Bobby Lee didn’t break the little dude out before taking off. That would have been poetic.

I also want to compliment the cinematography. I know I trashed the technical aspects above, but there’s something about the filmwork here that makes it seem like a documentary, kind of like the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but without chainsaws. It helps that the southern setting (I think the movie takes place in Tennessee?) looks like a camera’s never been there before. Everything feels very authentic, so sometimes the not-so-great acting doesn’t really hurt the whole puzzle because it fits with overall picture. Like I said, I’m thinking about this movie a lot.

I do have to call bullshit on the ending though. Consider this SPOILER territory if you care. So, at the end of the movie, Bobby Lee’s adoptive mother helps break him and Ruthie out of prison. They’ve ditched the cops and are driving through the woods. All of a sudden he goes from being on a road and talking about his plan to get to Mexico to bushwacking through the woods with his car and flying off of a small cliff into a body of water. Huh? The editing is sloppy, so it seems to come out of nowhere. We see Bobby Lee pop up out of the water, thrash around a little, dive down twice and then swim back to shore where he presumably waits to see if the love of his life and his adoptive mother get out of the car on their own. What?! Seriously, I’d by swimming around there until I was about dead myself and I would imagine a bull-headed dumbass like Bobby Lee would do the same. I get that they probably didn’t have the budget or wherewithal to do an underwater shot, but the weird flashback montage they do show of the car as it was crashing didn’t help matters.

I can’t think of another movie that was such a rollercoaster of opinions for me. I started out thinking it was going to suck, then got kind of engrossed by the tragedy of the whole thing but then at the end I was left with a WTF taste in my mouth. I wouldn’t say that Country Blue is a must see by any means, but it’s been one of the more interesting movies in the Drive-In series.

I intended to go back and do some screen grabs of Jumpy’s Ex Lax shirt, the guy who looks like he could be Will Forte’s dad and the weird post-sex Ritz product placement, but alas, my computer won’t read the disc for whatever reason.

So Fresh & So Meat Episode 8

I’ve got to admit, I thought I wouldn’t be able to really get into this episode because I was rooting for Wes, but those feisty bastards still drew me in with a final exile cliffhanger that snuck up on me.

*I’ve lost a lot of interest with Wes out of the picture. Now it’s Kenny leading his bags of douche and Ev’s going to try and mewl in front of them in an attempt not to get sent home.

*With five teams left, alliances kind of don’t matter anymore. Laurel just said there’s only one team left they need to send home, but, duh, one of the teams you’re friendly with will still have to go home.

*What Ryan and Jenn don’t seem to realize is that they’re both pretty weak teams who have basically been kept around as fodder.

*Now Landon’s playing the game smart. He’s not going to be outwardly antagonistic towards Kenny, but he realizes that Kenny’s got two other teams to look out for, so he’s working with Ev.

*Watching Kenny and Landon try to talk strategy is pretty funny because neither of them are particularly sneaky.

*Apparently Kenny has agreed with Landon that whoever comes back after this exile won’t go into the next one before the final challenge.

*Haha, the challenge is pretty interesting. One person’s hanging in the middle like a pendulum, but the other person has to build a puzzle in the middle. So, the standing person has to keep pushing them/swinging them while also recreating the rock puzzle.

*Kenny and Laurel are up first, which is pretty hilarious to watch, especially when Kenny’s got about the whole thing finished when she busts right through it. Of course Kenny makes it out to be someone else’s fault. They do it in about 4 minutes.

*Pete and Jill go next and do it in a little over 3 minutes.

*Now it’s Jenn and Noor and they kill it in 2:22.

*Ryan and Theresa aren’t doing so well. No big shocker there. They quit when they realize their time sucks.

*Ev and Luke are up now. Wow, Ev just took Luke out pretty bad. Pretty hilarious. Luke seems to suck at lots, but I wonder if Ev’s just being mean. They DQ.

*Finally Landon and Carley are up and look like they do pretty well, but Jenn and Noor come out with the W.

*I think Noor will be coming back for more of these things. The rest seem kind of whatever.

*Wow, Jenn just said this was her first challenge win in four challenges. She SUCKS.

*Jenn and Noor are definitely picking Ev and Luke.

*Landon’s talking to Ryan about voting for Jill and Pete.

*They’re already in the room, how are they going to kill the remaining half hour?

*Luke and Ev are definitely in. Ryan bitched out and votes for Landon and Carley. So one strong team will be coming back which will potentially make it boil down to Kenny and Laurel vs. whoever comes back and one scrub team that will come in third place. Let’s be honest, Jenn and Ryan have been dead weight this whole time (it actually helped Noor win the challenge this time around actually) and Kenny will absolutely send one of them in ahead of himself before the final challenge.

*Ooh, TJ just said they better get ready right now. It’s night!

*Haha, Ev apologizing to Luke doesn’t come off as very apologetic.

*Carley seems to be losing it. She’s got no confidence and honestly, she doesn’t seem to be as good a competitor as Ev. If I were a betting dude, I’d bet on Ev and Luke, but I don’t WANT them to win.

*This is the exile that Landon and Carley already did, but it’s 50 more pounds. They don’t have to actually try the puzzles, but doing so will help cut the weight down.

*Ev and Luke finish the first puzzle first, but both teams are putting the weight in their buckets at the same time and L/C take off first.

*The whole thing being in night vision looks pretty creepy, like a horror movie.

*Ev and Luke are losing it. Landon and Carley are struggling with the weight too.

*Landon and Carley get to the second puzzle first and get it so they get to drop 30 pounds, but Carley’s walking around in a daze. She doesn’t look so good.

*Meanwhile, Ev and Luke are pretty far back, but Ev and Luke show up while he’s trying to coax her back into the game.

*This reminds me of them trying to drag Big Easy around, almost killing him.

*I think Landon is carrying all the weight for their team. That’s like 120 pounds. Carley has completely lost it. Medical people probably should be stepping in.

*Now the cameras are using actual lights instead of only night vision, it seems.

*Carley and Landon get to the next puzzle first. It’s one of those marble maze things. Carley’s still out of it, so Landon goes it alone. Ev and Luke get there while he’s still working on it and she’s sitting there.

*Ev decides not to even try, which causes some friction between her and Luke. She thinks if they stop, they’ll definitely loose to the other team.

*Landon finishes the puzzle. Carley seems drunk. He’s still carrying all the weight. Ev and Luke got to a sign that says you can remove all the weight and head to the finish and then they win.

*Ooh, apparently, solving the puzzle also takes time off your total, so Carley and Landon actually have 5 minutes to come back.

*GAH!!! To be continued?! SHENANIGANS!

*As much as I’d like to see Landon and Carley win, I wouldn’t put much faith in Carley’s ability to do much of anything in the next big challenge, another exile or the finals.

Quick Movie Review: Star Wars The Clone Wars (2008)

I’ve been on a pretty big Star Wars kick ever since I started writing the daily WTF Star Wars?! over on UGO.com’s The Goods section. I’ve actually been wanting to watch Empire and Jedi again recently, but didn’t thanks to being so busy pre and post vacation. Anyway, I did add the CGI Star Wars: The Clone Wars to my Netflix queue (though the missus and I are STILL waiting for the second disc of David Tennant’s last Doctor Who movie) and got around to watching it last night. I hadn’t really heard great things about the movie, mostly surrounding Anakin’s padawan Ahsoka being kind of annoying, but overall I thought it was a pretty good movie.

The action scenes are spectacular. It’s awesome seeing lightsaber duels done in a manner that truly reflects the skill and ability of the characters involved. I had never thought about it before, but Jedi and Sith Lords are basically superheroes, so they should move as such. The video games really nail this, while the original films don’t so much, but it’s fun to see it in an actual movie.

On the subject of Ahsoka, I didn’t find her annoying at all. Yeah, she’s a teenager and I guess that might get on some people’s nerves, but guess what? Luke Skywalker was annoying as hell! Don’t forget about that.

The story’s kind of simple, which isn’t really a bad thing as this is definitely aimed more at kids as a lead-in to the Clone Wars cartoon on Cartoon Network which I wish was on Netflix Instant. Jabba’s in it, so points for that.

My one big complain is the voices, specifically one: Obi-Wan’s. It’s been a while since I’ve watched Episodes II or III, but James Arnold Taylor seems to be doing a exaggerated impression of Ewan McGregor that just comes off as silly and over the top, which is a shame because all the other fill-in voices seem dead on. I actually had to look up to see whether Natalie Portman returned to voice Padme like Sam Jackson, Anthony Daniels and Chrisopher Lee had done for Mace Windu, C-3PO and Count Dooku respectively, but alas, it was another. So, all in all, Clone Wars didn’t completely quench my thirst for more Star Wars, but it did seem like a worthy entry in the series and, from what I hear, has lead to a pretty great series that I want to check out, so well done!