They Can’t All Be Winners

2009-02-25
2:06:36 am

I haven’t been having a ton of luck lately when it comes to watching movies. Aside from falling asleep about a half hour in exactly no matter how cool the movie, I’ve been picking some duds (though still a few good ones). I couldn’t even get into watching Repo: The Genetic Opera for some reason. I’m not going to pass judgment on that one now because I was really tired, but I wanted to keep our Netflix queue going so I sent it back.

I did not however like an action movie I tried watching last night called Kiltro (2006). I made it about a half hour into that one before I fell asleep. I was hoping for an awesome action movie (as advertised), but instead I got a story about a guy who likes to fight and has a crush on a girl who blah blah blah. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I want my action movies (and my giant monster movies for that matter) to be less talking and more destruction, unless they happen to be actually funny like Police Story 1 and 2. Again, I don’t really consider this a review, because I didn’t watch the whole movie, just letting you action fans out there know not to waste your time.

I also watched most of a movie called Hickey and Boggs (1972) which has a lot going for it in that The Warriors writer Walter Hill wrote it and Bill Cosby stars as a tough guy private detective along with Robert Culp who also directs. I didn’t have any problem with this movie, though it is a bit slow, I just haven’t finished it yet because it’s kind of long and it expires from Netflix on March 1. It’s in the same vein as Dirty Harry and is pretty cool, so I might finish it up today. Oh, and if you were wondering, yes it’s kind of weird seeing Bill Cosby as a tough guy, but he also pulls it off really well. It’s fun to watch. Again, not a real review, but just some thoughts.

That being said, I do have four ACTUAL reviews:

POPCORN (1991)

Man, the 90s were a weird time for horror movies. You’re looking at a time after the slasher glut greatly hindered the genre, but before Scream made them cool again. Popcorn is kind of a weird movie. The basic premise is that a college film club decides to hold a movie marathon to raise some money. But this isn’t any movie marathon, they’re showing movies with a gimmick like smell-o-vision or shock-o-rama. As such, they need an old movie theater to show their flicks in and a crazy old guy to help out (and then completely disappear) in the form of Ray Walston (My Favorite Martian). If you really liked the beginning of Scream 2 where there’s all kinds of craziness happening in a movie theater, then this is right up your alley as it seems as though a counterculture guy from back in the day wants his weirdo movie to be seen so much he’s willing to kill people for it (that’s not exactly the plot, but I don’t want to give too much away). There was enough quirky charm to keep me watching even though the movie isn’t awesome by any means. So, if that sounds interesting (oh and the fact that someone gets killed via giant fake mosquito), check it out.

THE ROCKER (2008)

I was really surprised with how much I liked this Rainn Wilson flick. I was also surprised with the huge number of cast members I not only recognized, but knew by name (for the most part). Wilson stars as a drummer who got kicked out of what became the biggest band of the 80s right before they blew up. Now, in modern times, Rainn’s down on his luck, but ends up joining his nephew’s band, which garners its own huge levels of success. Aside from the cast that includes Christina Applegate, Emma Stone, Jeff Garland, Jane Lynch (from 40 Year Old Virgin and a hundred other things), Jason Sudekis, Will Arnett, Fred Armisen, Jane Krakowski, Bradley Cooper, Lonny Ross (30 Rock), Demetri Martin and Aziz Ansari, I was really impressed with how well they pull off some moments that could have come off as cheesy. There’s also one part where Rainn offers up the emo lead singer some songwriting advice (paraphrase “let’s speed it up and switch it to I’m NOT bitter) and he actually takes it without flinching. Sure it’s kind of similar to a scene in That Thing You Do, but in this case the lead singer just decided to go for it instead of being a d-bag. The Rocker is one of those flicks that seems like it either went up against some huge other movie or their producers didn’t have the juice to put much/any advertising cash behind it, because there’s no reason that this shouldn’t have done way better (though I said the same thing after seeing Speed Racer, which I still really enjoyed, so what do I know).

I also watched a couple movies all the way through that I wasn’t really into and those were Bangkok Dangerous (2008) and The Crazies (1973). I’ll be honest, the only reason I wanted to watch BD is because I’ve laughed a million times at the Best of The Wicker Man video on YouTube starring BD’s Nic Cage. Man that’s a funny video. You can get to it here after reading an AWESOME article I wrote about horror movie remakes for ToyFare. Unfortunately, BD was no where near as ridiculous as I was hoping it would be (I mean, COME ON, it’s Nic Cage as an assassin!). Instead, it’s a pretty run-of-the mill story about an assassin who has all kinds of rules, but is starting to not want to be an assassin anymore. You’ve seen it a million times and this doesn’t really offer up anything new, unlike Grosse Pointe Blank which is completely awesome.

The Crazies (1973) is the first non-zombie George Romero movie I’ve ever seen. It was okay, but not all that interesting. Instead of focusing on characters and how they react to these crazy situations, it seemed like Romero was more focused on showing a lot of dudes in white hazmat-type suits rounding people up after a virus that makes people go bat-poop nutso, gets released in a small town. There’s nothing all that wrong, really, it just didn’t grab my attention like my favorite Romero (and horror) flick Dawn of the Dead does.

30 Rock and Roll All Night

2009-01-08
4:31:26 am

I’ve got to apologize again for my lack of posts. Things have been crazy, but I’ve been spending most of my free time watching movies and reading comics, so hopefully that will translate into more posts (if I don’t fall asleep first).

So, one of the first things I did when I started watching Netflix stuff on Xbox Live was add the first season of 30 Rock. When 30 Rock premiered I wasn’t all that into the show, which is strange because most of you know of my love of Saturday Night Live and I also watch The Office and My Name Is Earl which are on the same channel at the same time. I think part of the reason is that I started watching and REALLY liked Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip which is basically SNL on the west coast (as written by Sorkin). So, for whatever reason, it was hardly on my radar and I missed out on most of the first season. But I’ve been watching it since then and am a huge huge fan (I think it makes me laugh more than The Office now).

The one thing that struck me the most is that I had no idea how the series started. I just assumed it was an SNL-like show with a smaller cast and more dancers and that Liz and Jack were always friendly. Well, that’s not the case, as the first episode shows Jack’s first day, coming in and changing the Jenna-starring The Girl Show into TGS Featuring Tracey Morgan. Even though the series has been a lot of fun anyway, this made everything make a lot more sense.

There’s a lot of great episodes, including the one where Tracey goes on Conan Obrien’s show, but my favorite episode of the season has to be the one about Cleveland. As an Ohioan, it’s always great to see one of our cities on TV (especially Cleveland where my mom is from and my Grandma still lives). It’s what hooked me to the Drew Carey Show too. Anyway, I like that they kind of flip the script and make Cleveland out to be this cool, great place to run away to. The funny thing is that, according to Grandma (mine, not a character on the show) Cleveland and its suburbs used to actually be the hot spot for wealthy New Yorkers to summer at because of Lake Erie and it’s relative proximity to NYC. Go figure, huh? It’s kind of like hearing how many people went on their honeymoon to Niagra Falls. But anyway, I laughed for pretty much the whole episode and all the rest. If you’re a fan of smart comedy, you can’t go wrong checking out the first season. Some people say it’s a little slow in the first disc, but I’m not one of them. Definitely give it a disc, though, to see if you’ll like it. I ended up burning through the whole series in about three days.

Oh, also, I love Tina Fey. She’s the cat’s pajams as far as I’m concerned.

Go Go Gadget Rave

2008-08-08
3:58:38 am

As you can tell, I’ve been on something of an off and on ’90s kick lately. Mostly I’m just finally getting around to checking out flicks I never got to see when I was younger. I remember seeing the ads for Go (both TV and comic book, remember those?) and was curious (mostly because my fellow Christ the King grade school attendee Katie Holmes was in the flick). Anyway, I realized it was on my Blockbuster queue, bumped it up to the top and here’s what I thought.

Go (1999)

Written by John August (Charlie’s Angels 1 & 2, Big Fish, Corpse Bride)

Directed by Doug Liman (Swingers, Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Jumper)

Starring (deep breath) Sarah Polley, Katie Holmes, Scott Wolf, Jay Mohr, Timothy Olyphant, William Fitchner (Prison Break), Taye Diggs, Breckin Meyer, James Duval (Donnie Darko) Jane Krakowski (30 Rock) and Desmond Askey as the British guy

First off, it MUST be said that Go owes something to the films of Quentin Tarantino. Now, I’m not saying it’s a rip off or anything like that, but you definitely get a similar feel, especially with how the dialog is delivered by some the actors (especially Polley). There’s also the whole thing where the movie is told in non-linear segments. Again, not a direct lift, but considering Tarantino borrows a lot of elements for his films, I doubt he’d be too upset.

Okay, so onto the story. We start off with this chick Ronna who may or may not be 17, but is also getting evicted from her place and needs some money so she works an extra shift for her British co-worker. She gets caught up with drug dealers and cops and ends up getting hit by a car and left outside a rave to die. But that’s not all we see of her as we then hop back in time and follow a few other folks’ adventures and eventually see how they all tie together.

In general I like these kinds of movies. The kinds in which a few dumb mistakes lead to all kinds of crazy shit happening. Ronna doesn’t have enough money to pay for the ecstasy (or X as the kids call it), so she leaves Katie Holmes there as collateral. But it turns out that the guys who wanted it (Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf) are actually cops so she flushes the pills and then puts stolen aspirin in the bottle and trades the fake pills for Katie Holmes. She then goes to a rave with her friends (one of whom took TWO of the real pills, which Olyphant strictly forbade) and sells off the rest of the aspirin and allergy pills she stole from the grocery store at a rave. Olyphant (who’s freakin’ terrifying and funny at the same time) shows up, hears everyone talking about how this girl is selling the best X, chases her down and then she gets hit by the care. Holy crap, right? Right.

And that’s just part one. I gotta say, that, even as convoluted as the story may be, it’s a fun one and I definitely appreciate writer John August’s ability to keep so many characters straight and intertwine their stories so well. There’s characters that show up in this segment that show up in the next and everything ties together nicely. From what I hear, Crash is like this too, but I haven’t seen it yet. Plus, it’s crazy to go from this to Charlie’s Angels to working with Tim Burton multiple times.

The next section features the British guy (who works with Ronna and is her usual drug dealer, which is why she jumped up in the food chain and went to Olyphant himself), Taye Diggs, Brecken Meyer and James Duval going to Vegas, shooting a strip club bouncer and implicating Olyphant in said shooting (the British dude swiped his credit card which they used at the club). They head back to LA, which is apparently where the story takes place.

Holy cats, it turns out that Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf weren’t cops themselves, but working off a drug charge by helping Fichtner catch drug dealers. I think they might even be TV stars, but I kind of missed that part (that’s what happens when I get to the part of the movie I’m blogging about, I miss things). Hey Jay Mohr even invokes the title, nice work Jay. Okay, giving a play-by-play from here on out might get a little crazy, so I’m actually going to watch the movie for a while, Be right back…

Okay, movie’s over and it turns out everyone’s okay for the most part. There’s some weird scenes with Mohr and Wolf in Fichtner’s house, he’s married to Jane Krakowski and both he and his wife hit on the dudes (who turn out to be a couple). Anyway, they find out that they were cheating on each other with the same guy who’s at the rave. They’re the ones that hit Ronna with the car, leave and then head back to see if she’s dead and she’s not so everything ends up being okay. Even the British dude gets amicably shot in the arm by the bouncer whom he shot in Vegas.

So, I know I said I wasn’t going to summarize the movies so much, but Go seemed to fit the old style. Otherwise you’d have even less idea of what I’m talking about than I do and that doesn’t make for a very good blog post.

As you can see by this long summation, there’s a LOT going on with this movie and I love that. They don’t slow things down, you’ve just got to keep up or lose, which I like. I assume that’s what this blog can be like at times, especially after I’ve had a few and am on my third day trying to watch something. I also like the moral ambiguity of the ending. All these people who do relatively bad things end up fine and dandy (though I’m not sure if it’s physically possible to get hit by a car and left in a ditch for part of the night and still go into work the next day, but whatever).

In the end I recommend this movie to anyone who likes Tarantino flicks, X, Katie Holmes, crazy intertwining stories and raves. Side note, I’ve never done X, but if it makes you wear day glow pantaloons and dance around with glowsticks like a d-bag, I’m OUT. Just say no to lame, kids.