Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Too similar?: Eric Stoltz vs Suzy Amis

Surely, you've seen pictures of "x random person" who's a movie star lookalike. And you've seen those "separated at birth" photos, too, probably. Well it's my turn, so I'll focus on an attractive actress named Suzy Amis and an attractive actor named Eric Stoltz.

The photo on the right is of Stoltz, a well-known actor who got his start in the 80s. He's appeared in many comedies, dramas, indie films... He was the main star of Some Kind of Wonderful.

No, you'd've seen him in more than that. Recently, he was in a SyFy tv show called Caprica. He's the lead in Killing Zoe (yay!), The Prophecy and The Fly II. He was also in Rob Roy, Kicking and Screaming, Say Anything..., Singles, and Jerry Maguire.

Oh, what am I, on crack? You do know him - as Lance in Pulp Fiction! Yeah, he plays Travolta's drug dealer who helps him out when Uma's in trouble. Everyone remembers that dude because they remember the whole awesome scene.

On the other side of the world, you have Suzy Amis, who is James Cameron's current (and 5th!) wife. She played Jeff Bridges' spouse in 1994's Blown Away. I mean the one with Tommy Lee Jones as the villain, not the skinemax thriller with Nicole Eggert, Corey Haim, and Corey Feldman.

Amis has always had a striking, atypical look, so I'm surprised her CV isn't bigger. She's a pretty, thin red-head with vivid eyes and an unusual jawline.

Notice any similarity? Yeah, that's Suzy Amis. I'm not making a big deal out of nothing, am I?

Maybe this one picture isn't enough for you. Maybe you believe in the scientific method. Let's look harder, ok? On one hand, you have a picture like...:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lethal Weapon, reviewed backwards

This isn't an effort to show off. I'm just in one of those moods, so I'm actually reviewing a movie before I watch it again. Isn't that avant-garde of me? Aren't "avant-garde" things sometimes just "stupid?" Well, I've toyed with my style more than usual lately, and I chose a pic I know fairly well. I think I can stand on what I write about Lethal Weapon - and if I'm off the mark, I'll learn it during my post-review rewatch. Finally, I get to prove myself wrong...

For a lot of people, the 80s are a nostalgic time in American cinema - and not because that decade introduced "franchises" and "properties" that are still being used today. Sure, there were lots of great romantic comedies, like Splash and Big. And there were plenty of fun teen movies, like The Breakfast Club and License to Drive. But for many, the 80s were a golden period for action films.

Arnold Schwarzenegger ruled the roost, so to speak, with a string of exciting pictures like Predator, The Running Man, Terminator, and Commando. Bruce Willis transitioned from a bartender to a tv star, then made one of the best action films ever, 1988's Die Hard. It's extra-impressive, as many people thought they'd already seen one of the best action films ever just one year before - Lethal Weapon.

He's a con's worst nightmare - an LA cop who grew up in Australia.

The three names you're about to read are all people who are, rightly, a big deal in Hollywood: Richard Donner, Mel Gibson, and Joel Silver.
  • Silver appears in so many credits as "producer," it sounds like he has a monopoly on the industry - the Predator and Die Hard films, The Matrix, the new Sherlock Holmes franchise... If it had guns and explosions and at least one big-name star, he was likely involved. 
  • Donner is known for a wide body of work, especially this series, the first two Superman pictures, Scrooged, and The Goonies.
  • Gibson hasn't needed an introduction since 1987, when Lethal Weapon came out. If Mad Max hadn't made him a household name, this picture absolutely did. Now, of course, no one wants to introduce, much less meet, him...
Yet the smaller names are probably what made LW a guaranteed hit with audiences - Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) wrote an excellent screenplay. Danny Glover's talent and presence pulled in everyone who didn't care about Mel. And Gary Busey played one of the best "support villains" of the decade; he compares neatly to Kiefer Sutherland in The Lost Boys. Movie-going audiences never stood a chance. So, plot:

It's Christmas-time in LA, and we see a pretty young girl. She's wearing so little that she must have just had sex with someone. She takes some drugs, climbs onto the railing of her balcony, and falls straight onto a car below. Later, Narcotics detective Martin Riggs (Gibson) subdues a bunch of criminals in a pine tree lot. He handles matters well enough, then unleashes his rage and nearly shoots an unarmed crook. Later at home, we see him cry over a picture and put a gun in his mouth. It's a very "angsty" time of year, huh?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tumblr of Corp. Logos in Film, Say/Hear Anything

Fauxgo is a site that lists various fictitious company logos from movies.  Among others you might recognize is the Weyland-Yutani symbol from Alien and Aliens, or the "i" for Mr. Incredible, or the Duff beer label.
It's certainly a useful page if you want to research an article, or look up a fake corporate logo without, y'know, actually having to carefully watch a movie again. This website isn't just a pleasure, it might help me decide on a tattoo! I was pleasantly surprised to find the symbol for Cyberdyne Systems from The Terminator. Who knew it was a pyramid divided by a capital "Y?"

I'm also pointing out Lloydtube, a site that's a little weird to use. It's a pastel-screened image cap of John Cusack holding up his stereo; the scene is, of course, from the well-loved Say Anything... The neat thing about this comes from the box at the bottom of the page.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

David Cronenberg Blogathon, The Hangover/Simpsons remake, & 25 Pre-Fame Stars

As many of you may or may not know (or care), this blog is a member of the Large Association of Movie Blogs (yes, "LAMB"). They have a monthly Director's Chair feature, wherein LAMB sites submit their reviews and articles on particular directors. Much to my delight, they chose the fantastic artist David Cronenberg for this month's session. The feature goes up later today, so please read and enjoy.

I submitted my own reviews of Eastern Promises and Spider, as well as my link to a BBC documentary on "The Cinema of the Extreme," which is a perfect fit for this amazing Canadian man. I won't link to them here, because I already have a Cronenberg tag, and you can use that to see what I have to say about him.

Moving right along, the Film Drunk has posted to point out: a major Hollywood blockbuster follows not only a lot of the plot of one episode of The Simpsons, they use a lot of the same visuals too. What do I mean?

Vegas is a popular film destination, and it will naturally have a lot of the same imagery - chapels, desert, neon casino exteriors or brightly-lit interiors. Naturally, various stock people/performers will also appear; waitresses, blackjack dealers, and lounge singers are pretty much a given. It's ridiculous to compare, right?

Well, consider that in "Viva Ned Flanders," Ned and Homer Simpson run into famed boxer "Drederick Tatum" (what a great name) while they're in Vegas. In "The Hangover," the cast meets Tatum's obvious real-life inspiration, Mike Tyson. And that's only one thing they have in common.

Pitch Black Review (feat. 1990's Tremors)

Pitch Black was made in 2000 by David Twohy. It was created as a star vehicle for possible modern-Schwartzeneggar-replacement Vin Diesel. In many ways, it tries for the same feel as James Cameron's Aliens. It fails to match the quality of that 80's film, and my friends and I have often clashed over it.

You'll really get used to that silver-white image. They use it all the time.
I say Pitch Black is "a nice try," mediocre at best. In a fit of lazing on the couch with work-out soreness, I rewatched it, and my opinion hasn't really changed.

Pitch Black is set in the distant future (27th Century) that is credibly lived-in and realized. A ship is flying through space, and meets a pocket of fast-moving rocks that tear through the ship. These little collisions are deadly. Even tiny objects can move so fast that they go through walls and people, killing the captain and forcing the vessel to crash land.

With only two crew members surviving the attack of debris, the docking pilot, Carolyn Fry (Radha Mitchell), is left to try to save the ship, which is starting to enter the atmosphere of an unpopulated planet. Fry jettisons various sections of the craft, and realizes that her last, best hope is losing a section that carries 9 people in suspended animation. Desperate to save herself, she pulls on the lever that will toss them into the searing heat of reentry. Nothing happens.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Facebook puts Big Lebowski up for community viewing

Well, Facebook is going to make a big pop-culture splash into the online video rental world with The Big Lebowski. It'll cost you three bucks for 48 hours, but you can find a way to pass $1 discounts onto your friends.

But I started searching for it today, and it certainly isn't much now. The social theater page on FB's site is um, embarrassingly spare,especially with over 5,100 active viewers. Just look at it:

Not exactly jaw-dropping. My friends have more visually interesting, engaging fb pages; hell, some of my enemies do (tho I wouldn't know).

And then following the "App" link at the top of the page takes you the Social Theater website, which is also not particularly impressive. Still, I like hearing about new ways to rent videos online, even if I'd never use them. Does that sound contradictory?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How It Should Have Ended: Harry Potter

You don't always have to agree with someone to like their jokes, do you? Well, that's how I feel about the website How It Should Have Ended. They have web comics, self-made videos, reviews, and more. I can't give them my complete approval, because they are surprisingly positive about some sucky movies. I'm particularly referring to Tron: Legacy (4 stars?) and the A Nightmare on Elm Street remake (3 stars?!).

As... um, lenient or easily satisfied as they may be, I still find their H.I.S.H.E. videos to be funny, and I loved the one they made for the Harry Potter franchise. If you've read the books, you can see that their take is not only full of honest characterization, but it's funny and smart. You may even prefer it to the ending that you read somewhere by yourself. Or to the final act that you saw in a crowded theater (just scroll up slightly).

I like this Snape better than in the books or the films! He's like C3PO as a cool spy.

I got a kick out of the smart use of images and moments from the series, the clever resolution, and the interaction between the characters. I'll say "thank you" to the How It Should Have Ended people, and I think you should too. Thoughts?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Kevin Smith doing 2 more flix, Disney exec dismisses "stories"

I cover this news less because it's fascinating and more because I wrote before about Kevin Smith's choice to quit directing. Thus, I should at least follow through and relay the latest development: Smith will direct 2 more films, not one.

It's not the biggest development, tho - no "extra-talky 2012 Citizen Kane" or something. It's just that Hit Somebody, Kevin's pro-NHL player movie, will be split into two parts, in the style of Kill Bill. There's a joke here somewhere about masturbatory filmmakers who write long stretches of dialogue.

It's interesting enough news. This division has been made so that the 1st movie can focus on a boy who grows up wanting to play professional hockey. This will give the 2nd film proper breathing room to follow the adult career of the same person.

I'd've been impressed if he'd made both at once, but I like giving directors and screenplay writers more leeway. I also like that KS is probably using what he learned while releasing Red State. Most importantly to me, tho, I'm tired of Smith constantly talking about what a lazy stoner he is, so I like this move because he's actually showing some ambition.

Finally, there's attention on a now-infamous speech given by a Disney exec, in which he says that stories don't matter at all - only franchise/tentpole Summer releases. It's the sort of thing that is both (a) insulting and annoying, yet (b) so geared toward modern cynicism that I want to just ignore it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Great Jason Voorhees Bodycount pic, Peanuts + Jaws = Sweet

Someone made a smart movie mash-up, in comic form. At Snake Oil Comics, you can witness the cast of Charles Shultz' "Peanuts" as they go through the story of "Jaws." All i can say is that it's a great idea, perfectly executed.

The next entry is especially appropriate, since I reviewed the first 10 "Friday the 13th" movies not long ago. Unless you've seen all of them yourself, you can only imagine my happiness at finding an infographic chart that shows the number of kills in every "Ft13th" film. Unlike my own article, it goes through "Jason X" to include "Freddy versus Jason." And, even better, the graphics also show how each person dies. If you're a horror-minded person, it's real treat.

I'm done, enjoy and learn from the picture below.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New study on spoilers misses the point

AV Club recently posted a news article about a study on spoilers. The upshot of the results is that people do not really mind knowing details about a story before they experience it for themselves. Despite the whining and complaints made by dozens of internet message board members, it seems to make little difference when people know what they're in for.

Unfortunately, AVC's post didn't seem to understand that the study doesn't apply to the film industry very well. Why? Because the analysis was focused on giving advance knowledge to people reading books. I don't think that's really comparable to film spoilers at all.

Literature and film are totally different. Film is an audio-visual format that's usually requires 90-120 minutes of your time. Literature, however, is a visual-only format that needs much more time. Audio books are generally much longer than the time you'd need to read the original text.

An actual book, though, contains a lot more information than your standard film. And it has certain advantages - like an easier use of 1st/2nd/3rd person narration, and internal dialogue that's often awkward to convey in a movie. Comparing the two is like saying that 5-minute ride to a coffee shop is the same as driving from one coast to another. Or like comparing a 2-season tv show to a 3-film film franchise.

Monday, August 15, 2011

More Remake-itis, Walmart Streams Video too now

It's been a while since I've covered film news. Now I've got a bit to cover, all related to two familiar topics: remake-itis and "the streaming wars" (that's what I call it). This time out, all of my links are going straight to AV Club, so thanks to them (yet again) for filling me in...

The funniest "did you do that ironically?" bit of remake-itis is that the makers of 2005's failed Bewitched (Kidman and Ferrell) have been hired to remake Bewitched for CBS. AVC rightly points out the logic gap here: the original tv show was an earnest comedy with romantic elements, whereas the film was a cynical take on the ridiculousness of remaking the tv series Bewitched.

I know that tv networks need new shows, and that remakes are becoming more popular (Hawaii Five-0, Bionic Woman, The Prisoner, Charlie's Angel's forthcoming revival)... Seeing CBS attach itself to the same principles of "name recognition = more money" so thoroughly is disappointing and silly. And then we go from that to "oh wait, CBS is mentally unstable, dangerously so" since their choice was the guys who failed at this same (film) project already. It's like MC Escher went to Hollywood and did a lot of drugs while reading Charlie Kaufman scripts.

The same source also gave me a look at the Australian How To Train Your Dragon remake, adapted for the stage. It is true that I didn't see the movie, and it is true that Aussies have a reputation for not being fazed by all the terrifying creatures on their continent. Regardless, HTTYD was a kids' film, and the article rightly states that the dragons look completely horrifying and make frightening/disturbing noises. Watch below. God help you if you're not at least 12 years old.

Yeah, buddy I am afraaaaaaaaid, too. And I'm a grown man.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Blaxploitation Star Wars Youtube Gem

At long last! "Blackstar Warrior," an awesome Lando Calrisian blaxploitation version of Star Wars. The feel and look of it match the tone of the original series far better than the later prequels, continuing to prove something about a certain creator being both tone-deaf and hyper-wealthy.

I'm as proud to introduce this today as I was to highlight the Predator Musical or the Conan the Barbarian: The Musical. Don't you enjoy this as much as I do?

Or aren't you cool?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

1.5 Double Dip, 1/2 Quickie: X-Men Trilogy

Yes, it's a mashup of two site features, mixing a half-length Movie Review Quickie (only 3 films) and a really unusual Double Dip. I wrote a hefty X-Men review a while back. It was longer than I needed it to be, but I was setting up coverage of X2 and The Usual Suspects. & I guess it’s easier for me to praise or trash a pic than for me to call it “so-so.”

I'm going back to the well, but differently. This time, I'll briefly cover all the films, meaning I’ll tackle X-Men again, if quickly – and I’ll still reserving my long-form X2 review for later. So, it’s sort of a "1 & 1/2" or possibly even a "double-reverse" double dip. Confusing? I call it a bold, elegant, and startling act of symmetry; trust me on that.


In two sentences: Good people with powers spend their time learning about themselves and being constructive while bad people with superpowers try to scare humanity into not killing or "tracking" them. An untouchable runaway girl and a rugged man who heals anything get involved in an on-going struggle between 2 charismatic older Englishmen, a kind wheelchair-bound telepath and a brutal rebel who controls magnetism. Yes, that's an actual story.

You will believe a man can rock that hairstyle.

X-Men is at times hollow, weak, effective, heart-felt, cool, clever, dull, exciting, and dumb. The title's misleading, as the film zeroes in on mega-talented Hugh Jackman and his charms and rarely goes beyond him. Hugh's presence sells the pic, but he neither gets the whole film nor allows time for the rest of the cast, so he dilutes its purpose; at least he gets a proper arc.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Netflix, American Psycho's Eateries, and Cracked Filmshop Contest

Today, I'm going to quickly cover 3 online entries that are about the film world. First up is an article on Netflix. The second is a guide to restaurants mentioned in American Psycho. I'll mention the Cracked B-movie Poster Photoshop Content last, but pictures from it are all over this post. I'm like that.

Although it's not a response to my awesome post on Netflix' new pricing scheme, The AV Club released an article this week on the same topic. It's called (in part) "The Convenience Trap," & it's thoughtful, going into more depth about the subtext behind the change - what it says about businesses, entertainment, and the potential effect on Netflix users and online video watchers.

The article also touches on one issue that especially irked me; namely, Netflix destroying and then abandoning the physical video rental market. "Sell both smartly, stupid," seemed like a fair response on my part. Hey, The AV Club staff is professional (paid), and they add an interesting two cents on the topic.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pick your reviews, yall; August is gonna be dull

Which, I know, is an awful bit of self-promotion... Still, it's been 8 weeks since I've posted a site update - now I only have site updates scheduled for August. At least today's will be different and quick.

I'll take requests/suggestions/etc for films to cover. I have a long list of things to review - all the other Miyazaki pix, more from Cronenberg, Hitchcock, The Ramones in Rock n Roll High School, Rian Johnson's The Brothers Bloom... Still, there are many movies I haven't heard of, forgot about, or lost in the middle of my rental queue. If you'd like to see me tackle something, just call 'em out.

Of course, some requests are less likely to happen than others. I'm almost guaranteed to bounce pointless garbage - so probably nothing with a "4" (or higher) in the title, Human Centipede, X random porn film title, Breillat, The Brown Bunny, Michael Bay's work). And not anything I've seen & failed me in every possible way like Curse of the Golden Flower. I don't know that anyone can make a convincing argument for those...