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.

Stranger Than Fiction

2008-08-04
2:54:22 pm

“Based on a true story” is one of those tags that tend not to mean too much on a movie poster. You can get anything from Monster to Texas Chainsaw Massacre under said banner. Of course, as you probably know, TCM wasn’t REALLY based on a true story, but borrowed a very few details from the life of serial killer Ed Gein.

Anyway, this post has nothing to do with TCM or Monster (which I haven’t seen). I happened to watch two “based on a true stories” flicks this weekend, 21 and The Bank Job. I actually had no idea that Bank Job was based on reality (or that it was set in the ’70s because I apparently don’t pay attention very well). Here’s what I thought.

I had 21 on my Blockbuster account for a few reasons. I dig Kevin Spacey (just not as Lex Luthor, sorry). I also really liked Jim Sturgess in Across the Universe (you guys should check that out). And finally, I like Vegas movies, plus the fact that this was actually based on a true story intrigued me. I’ve done absolutely no research on this, but I think I remember seeing something about these guys back in the day on the Discovery Channel. Could be someone else though. I do know that this movie was based on a book of the same name.

Anyway, it’s your standard, “normal kid enters a morally compromising world in order to make money and gets overtaken by it for a time.” The main kid’s a math genius and joins up with professor Kevin Spacey who has this crew that he teaches to count cards in blackjack. The main dude just wants to make enough money to pay for Harvard Med School, but he goes a bit crazy with the money and the strippers and what not. It ends with a kinda-twist ending that isn’t all that surprising, but I liked it overall. It’s a good movie to turn on while you’re doing other stuff because you can easily bounce in and out of the room without losing too much track of the story.

The same can be said for The Bank Job which I rented solely because of Jason Statham’s involvement. Like I said, I didn’t know much about it except for that fact that one of the best action stars in the world (yes, Statham) starred in it. I was actually expecting more of a flick in the vein of Transporter or even Ocean’s 11 (you know, flashy and what not).

But I was wrong. And I’ll be honest, the only reasons the movie that Em repeatedly called “dry” didn’t disappoint was because Statham’s so damn charismatic and because this bad boy was based on a true story. I, of course, did no additional research, but there’s just something about watching a wild movie like this that actually happened (to some extent).

The basic story is that Saffron Burrows convinces Statham to get his crew together and swipe the safe deposit boxes from a bank vault. They succeed, but it turns out that the government is after them because the crooks (or villains, as the Brits continuously call them muck to my delight) also snatched some compromising pictures and videos of officials and the princess. But, like Em said, it is a pretty dry movie, but I’m not sure if that’s because of the story itself or because everyone in the cast is British.

All in all, I’m glad I didn’t drop $10 to see either of these movies in the theater, but it was worth taking up a spot on my Blockbuster queue.