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.

Wild(er) and Crazy Flicks

2009-01-10
5:19:22 am

One of my favorite aspects of Xbox’s watch instantly option is that I can go through every movie offered online and add whatever looks even remotely interesting to my queue. Which is a great way to watch flicks by some classic directors. Within 24 hours, Em and I watched two movies by acclaimed director Billy Wilder (check him out if you’ve never heard of him, he’s probably most famous for Sunset Blvd. which is worth your time). I actually didn’t even realize that two movies I had already added were directed by him. I added Seven Year Itch because it’s regarded as a classic and Marilyn Monroe’s in it. Kiss Me, Stupid grabbed my attention because Dean Martin stars.

I’ll start with the movie that was…less good, which is Kiss Me, Stupid. There are two huge problems with this movie. The first is that it’s one of those stories where everyone’s lying to each other to make things easier and the whole time you’re yelling “just tell the truth” at the screen. Of course they never do till the end, because that would be the end of the movie. The other problem is that it’s just kind of creepy as the guy who played My Favorite Martian (and was also on Picket Fences) lets stranded crooner Dino (Dean Martin if you couldn’t figure out) hit on his pretend wife while he’s in the room. It’s even worse that Dino does it! It’s well acted and all that and they even incorporate some of Dean’s actual on stage antics in the movie, but, like I said, there’s just too many things taking me out of the movie. Em and I watched it while we took the Christmas decorations down and were both completely weirded out. Skip this one unless you’re a HUGE Dean Martin, My Favorite Martian, needlessly confusing story or Billy Wilder fan.

Luckily, The Seven Year Itch was awesome. The story follows a pocket book editor as his wife and kid leave New York City to summer somewhere only to head home and find out that the gorgeous Marilyn Monroe is living in the apartment above him. I’ve never seen Marilyn Monroe in anything but pictures (speaking of which, this movie has the famous subway/white dress scene (the the full-on image never appears in the flick). I freaking loved this movie. First off, it showed me a time period/practice I’ve never seen before. I had never heard of wives and kids leaving for the whole summer. Plus, I’m a sucker for anything set in New York City in the past. Next, the acting is fantastic. Marilyn doesn’t just seem like the dityz blonde (though she is both), there’s still some depth there without getting int he way. Also, the male lead Tom Ewell had some experience with the character as he played him in the original stage version. Even the smaller parts are all great. But what I really like about the story (and the basic story is very interesting as Tom tries, at the same time, to both be with and stay away from his neighbor) is that Tom gets to imagine all these different scenarios that we then see on screen. You know, kind of like Scrubs, but it doesn’t make me want to punch someone in the face. I highly recommend this flick.

Now a few general points of interest/thoughts. Just for the record, Wilder wrote and directed both flicks, though he didn’t write the play that Kiss is based on. I was surprised by the large amounts of sexuality and innuendo in both movies. I’m not sure if this was something that Wilder specifically dabled in, or if things were a little but more acceptable back then than we think, but there’s all kinds of sex bubbling around the surfaces (most obviously in the “will he have an affair” plot of Seven Year Itch). I was also surprised to see that Kiss Me came out nine years AFTER Itch (Kiss is from 1964, Itch 1955). First off because Itch is so much better, but also because Kiss is in black and white while Itch is in color. Just some interesting things.

Next up on my Billy Wilder list? Probably The Apartment from 1960 which stars Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray.