Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Quick Note

Because life is full of unintentional comedy, my year-end post went up earlier today - went up incomplete. I still needed to finish two sections, so I pulled it. But that's not the embarrassing part.

No, the embarrassing part is that I actually did schedule a different post for today, but didn't change the date on the year-end entry. It would've involved two mouse-clicks to convert it to a draft, five to push it back to January.

In any case, I have some good news: the holiday review will go live in the next week or so, and I think you'll love my choice. Also, DJ is posting his own Year-End entry, which will most likely go up right after mine.

Sorry for the snafu! Happy New Year to all of you! I'll see you tomorrow with the first post of 2014!

And don't drink and drive! Take a taxi, or find a closet to sleep/have sex in!

Imposters #25 bonus edition - Grudge Match

What's really surprising is that they made two versions of this poster and released them together - as in, 20 feet away in the same subwsy statio nyou can see two wildly different images.


Okay sure, it kinda looks like a still image from the Fight Night series of boxing games, but that's okay. I like the gold lettering, even though I don't like a lot of the text.

For my part, I hate the second poster, as it robs what is presumably a movie about boxing of its vitality or competitive tension.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Great Moments in... Wilford Brimley's Life

Ah,... Hard Target! This 1993 action film is notable for many reasons. First, it comes from the time that Jean-Claude Van Damme would nearly replace Schwarzenegger and Stallone as the biggest action star. More importantly, it was John Woo's first Hollywood production. LA realized what a big international draw Woo was, and hoped to absorb some of the style of Hong Kong Cinema's finest auteur.

Of course, I also like to think of it as one of two contemporary films to use the premise of "The Most Dangerous Game." And while Surviving the Game would feature Ice T, Charles S. Dutton, and Rutger Hauer, HT had Lance Henriksen teaming with Arnold Vosloo to kill Yancy Butler's distressed damsel, and her protector/PI, who is called Chance. (yes, JCVD played a PI named "Chance")

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Reviewing with Others Pt. 65: Joshua Tree 1951: A Portrait of James Dean

My latest off-site review is up! This week, it's Joshua Tree 1951: A Portrait of James Dean, a visually-stunning movie that mixes real life and fictitious elements to depict the early LA days of the ill-fated actor, James Dean. You can read my whole review here.

The film provoked a lot of responses in me, most notably the out-of-nowhere gay sex scene that almost had me spitting out my coffee before I raced to Wiki to confirm that, yes, James Dean was bisexual. But the copious amounts of bare man-ass did not dissuade me, they served a story-appropriate role in this tightly-focused picture.


So much man-ass...

Friday, December 27, 2013

QftWo 12/23-12/29: Imposters #24 - American Hustle

How is it that we end up with a David O. Russell picture about the 1970's-'80's ABSCAM operation, but I look at its promo image and all I can think about is Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights:


Is it just me? I recognize that my response is solely down to a vibe I'm getting from the graphic. As you can see below, the BN poster was completely different:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Imposters #23, bonus edition - The Wolf of Wall Street

Martin Scorcese films are kind of a big deal. For a very long time, the man has not worked in a genre outside of Drama, but he is widely considered one of the best and most consistent American directors of the last 50 years or so. It's a big deal every time he makes a new movie, and for good reason: whether you "like" one of his movies or not, they are always well-made, with many elements to commend them.

And so I've been seeing a lot of posters for The Wolf of Wall Street lately. The one I saw three weeks ago filled me with conflicted feelings.



I kind of hate it. For one thing, it doesn't actually look like Leo up there. That could be anybody. Also, other than "huge-ass party, people be havin' fun," it doesn't say all that much. You have to sort of look closely to figure out that it's set in the 80's (I'm wrong, it's the 90's), and I suspect that will be lost on the younger people who see this promo.

And yet at the same time, this graphic is terribly different, and it does - if you know anything about the criminal it's based on - fit the story, and its themes. I just think it's not about the dude that's singing. Maybe it's about the party? Or it's 30 years in the life of a California estate's pool?

I guess you can say that I like it as a picture, but not as a promotion. Although I can imagine it being a smart choice for this huge image that's so busy, I am still amazed by the lack of info - title, lead, director, novel writer and screenplay adapter, as well as release date. With Marty named twice!

Calm down, Mr. Scorcese, you already won.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hunger Games/Running Man Musical

During this holiday season, which can be so stressful for so many - some people are alone or cannot be with their loved ones, others have serious problems that keep them enjoying the season, and everyone gets on edge as they struggle with the dreaded torments of holiday season shopping and travel.

So what better time to curl up with the imitated voice of an action star who looks at a modern franchise that feels eerily-familiar?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Reviewing with Others Pt. 64: No Look Pass

My latest indie screener experience is No Look Pass. It's about Emily Tay, a first-generation American who plays for Harvard University's Women's Basketball team. The documentary offers an intimate and revealing look into Tay's life, focusing on her fear that her family will learn of her lifestyle, as well as her hope to play in the pro leagues.

My review of NLP went live today and you can read it here at Man, I Love Films.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Imposters #22, bonus edition - Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Idris Elba is just the best, so I can't not throw a little love his way. Also, I like the poster design a lot.


Isn't that nice? It's got a great, strong retro style. And I love the way color is used, divided into sections, highlighting the negative space and the text, in addition to its subject. Red, yellow, and black with a fringe of green and careful use of white in the corner are easy on the eyes.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dec-March Schedule Update

Dear readers, be ye friends or strangers, here's the skinny:

It looks like I will have to cancel my holiday movie due to time constraints. It was set to go up on the 24th, and things might change, but I wouldn't bet it on it, at the moment. Sometime in January, is looking more likely... However, I have three bits of good news that easily balance it out.

1) You may know that I took a break from doing "proper" Question entries a bit ago (e.g., why did Luke drop his lightsaber when he beats Vader?). Those will return by or before Spring, 2014. In their place, I've had movie poster critiques - oh-so-cheaply "asking" what's wrong or right with these graphic ads. And, as of tomorrow, you'll get two poster entries per week.

So, if you like those posts... good on both of us, I guess.

2) Between the extra material and my Sunday off-site reviews, this means there will be something here almost every day for the rest of 2013. Saturdays and (probably) the 24th, aside, that is. They're all ready to go already, and I tried to save a lot of entertainment for this very stressful time of year.

3) I decided that I will not take my "blogcation" in January. I will truck along, at least 4x/wk, until mid-March, at the very least. At that pace, this site's 5th year anniversary in April will really be extra-special.

Thank you for reading, and I hope the ride is fun for us all...

Thaddeus/Half A Film Student

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Youtube Free Movies Update

It's been a couple of years since I published a pair of write-ups on Youtube's selection of free movies. A lot of people - even 'Net-savvy ones - simply didn't know that the video giant offered full-length features for free. And I do so enjoy finding legal ways to check out new things...


So, the other day, I decided to review those old links and see how things had progressed. I was not thrilled by what I found. So not thrilled that I won't provide direct links to every film I've pointed out below.

Bluntly, a lot of the movies that had been available are now gone. I am not sure whether it was from a change in rights, or if Youtube always intended to rotate its offerings, but I was saddened to see that you can't follow the link I posted for Hayao Miyazaki's infectiously-energetic The Castle of Cagliostro. It and Buena Vista Social Club are listed as "Private." And Ghostbusters isn't available in my country, apparently - I sure hope The Maldives enjoy it, though!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

QftWo 12/16-12/22: Imposters #21 - Anchorrman 2

The interesting thing about the posters I've seen for Anchorman 2 is that they trade really heavily on the popularity of the original Will Ferrell picture. Now, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy did make over $90M on a $26 million budget.

I guess what strikes me just as oddly is that this is a sequel to a film that came out 9 years ago - although the answer is right there in its box office take. Seriously, the first installment came out in 2004, and I have no idea why they'd wait so long to release the second. Oddly enough, though I never saw the original movie, I knew exactly what the annoyingly-obtuse poster below was for:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Great Moments in... Jackie Chan

Over a decade ago, I was sitting down with a girlfriend trying to explain to her why I loved Jackie Chan films so much. The woman I was dating had no love of punch-'em-up films, no familiarity with US-made brawlers like The Warriors and Bloodsport...

So how was I going to explain the appeal of Mr. Chan's work? What would I use to display his monkey-like climbing skills (it wasn't called Parkour at the time)? The way he'd engage 4 attackers at once? Or the way that he would inventively use anything in the environment - a chair, a desk, or hanging laundry - to give his fights so much ingenuity, humor, and grace?

Luckily enough, the day my love of Chan came up was also a day that one of his films was on cable at that exact time, so instead of telling her what it's like, I got to show it all in one great scene. Specifically, this scene:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Reviewing with Others Pt. 63: The 99%: Occupy Everywhere

First, let me warn you all that I have a lot of entries analyzing posters and I will exceed my 4-per-week schedule to include some good material and clean out old business before starting the new year.

Second, my latest indie screener experience is The 99%: Occupy Everywhere and you can read it here at Man, I Love Films. Check it out, and I hope you enjoy what I've written.

Friday, December 13, 2013

QftWo 12/9-12/15: Imposters #20 - Thor: The Dark World

I wish I had more positive things to say about this stand-up for the Thor sequel. To its credit, this actually is a nice image, with the god-appropriate weather effects...


But it's still so bland, believing it needs to do no more than show us a nice picture of Mr. Hemsworth without telling us anything about his latest adventure. The visual is great, but why is he bringing the lightning? Who is he fighting in the midst of a storm?

Sigh, I can't really find the energy to say anything more about it, especially since the people responsible couldn't...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bill Shatner Remixed Hilarious Gem

Honestly, I was a little conflicted at the end of last month. I found some nice Bill Murray and Great Moments In clips, but I also wanted a Fan-made Gem that would be guaranteed to leave people in stitches. I wasn't certain that I would have a real crowd-pleaser - until a few days ago, when I was directed by Chris Sims (he's been mentioned here before) to a sweet, sweet video of William Shatner.

From the context, it was behind-the-scenes footage that Mr. Shatner shot while filming Star Trek V: The Undiscovered Country The Final Frontier (thanks, DJ!). As even casual Trek fans may know, Bill is given to waxing philosophically, often with purple prose. But rather than simply mock Bill's words, the creators of this fine youtube video took the best and most insane statements and mixed it into a great, danceable song. It's got a retro-disco vibe that would make Daft Punk smile.

Let's take a look, keeping in mind that your laughter will likely be considered disruptive of the workplace:

Monday, December 9, 2013

Id-iology Director's Next to Preview in London, 12/19

First in July, then in September, I have promoted Will' Terran's forthcoming film, The Twisted Death of a Lonely Madman. And with good reason - I really enjoyed Mr. Terran's first film, Id-iology, even though it was a very difficult movie. While some critics would be inclined to dismiss the work - because it dealt with some ugly topics and was smarter than they were, is my guess - I embraced it.

So I am very happy today to say that Terran's next film is complete and there will be a preview of it in London next week. If I were going to be anywhere in Europe this month, I would be all over this, so please go in my stead.

And how can I not be intrigued when I go to the movie's official site and read this synopsis:
Adam hasn’t left his flat in six months for fear of being attacked. Creating conversational videos of his favourite movie star Starlet Maddinson has kept him just about the right side of sane over that time. Just about. One day a straightforward encounter causes Adam’s worst fears to come true when a malevolent psycho begins a campaign of intimidation and intrusion into Adam’s home. As the world shrinks around him and the company of Starlet Maddinson’s image turns on him, reality blurs with nightmare to tear Adam’s world apart.
The London Preview for tTDoaLM is taking place Thursday, the 19th of December, 8pm at the Roxy Bar and Screen. The movie is 82 minutes long. The director (Mr. Terran) and lead actor (Stewart O'Reilly) will be joined by other members of the production for a post-screening Q&A. Check out the Facebook event page for the preview:


Please go, gentle readers, and let me know what you think...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Reviewing with Others Pt. 62: How Do You Write a Joe Schermann Song

My latest indie screener experience is How Do You Write a Joe Schermann Song. It's about a composer/pianist who finds his life turned upside down when he gets the big off-Broadway break he's been waiting for at the same time that he meets his one true muse at an audition. The problem - because there's always a problem - is that his live-in girlfriend is also an actress, singer, and dancer.


I liked many things about HDYWaJSS? My review will be published today at noon, EST, and you can read it here at Man, I Love Films.

[Sorry, it took me until 1:15 Eastern to get the right link up. It has been fixed now!]

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bill Murray on Stern Astoundingness

This is a reasonably-lengthy interview that Howard Stern conducted with Mr. Murray some time ago. Bill is his usual charming self, mixing playfulness and candor - as seems to be his wont.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

QftWo 12/2-12/8: Imposters #19 - Nebraska

In this week's analysis of promotional material, we come to the poster for Alexander Payne's latest film. It is both nice and sucky at the same time. While I like the color scheme and layout in theory, it doesn't tell us anything about the film. It might have to do with the state of Nebraska, and is just a white on black profile pic of a man with thinning hair and glasses. The guy might be wearing a tie or some form of dress shirt.

Picture me rapt!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Reviewing with Others Pt. 61: Magic Valley

This was supposed to go up yesterday, but something kinda big came up. It took me a little more time, but I'm happy with my viewing experience, as well as the review itself.

And why not? I got very lucky in choosing to watch Magic Valley, a surprisingly-strong debut picture by Jaffe Zinn. If you want to learn what I liked about it, you can read my review here at Man, I Love Films.

Trolling Tom Cruise Just for Cheap News

So a few weeks ago, I stop in a grocery store on my way to a party, and I look at the newsstand. Sadly, this was the cover that I saw first:


For a long time, I've bent over backwards to not disparage Tom Cruise. I will reserve the better part of my logic for another day, but some of my attitude is based on the idea that I'm a good comedian and Tom represents a soft target in all the worst ways. Tom is good-looking, wealthy, and successful, all of which attract jealousy and a desire to see the guy fail. His public persona may grate on many, but it is largely positive, and I know that's deathly annoying for many people in this messed-up, ever-more cynical time...

More importantly, Mr. Cruise is the high profile face of a religion that's very unpopular. For my part, everything I've heard on the topic, and I really, really don't like what I've heard. At the same time, though, all religions sound kinda crazy and it's wrong to treat people differently for their (non-violent, non-discriminatory, non-abusive) religious beliefs.

Fortunately, none of that has anything to do with today's news. In case you didn't click on the image and read the text in the lower-right corner: Tom Cruise has a defamation case in court right now. That's when one person sues another for making public claims that could damage someone's reputation, livelihood, etc. The suit is against publishers who speculated that the actor has been a bad parent to his daughter, Siri. The suit is for $50 million.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

George Clooney Says, "Hollywood, Ignore Hedge Fund Investors"

[It took me almost 3 hours after posting to add some additional material. Apologies to everyone who checked it out early on, but I had made some updates and they didn't save properly] On Friday, August 2nd, I noticed an article about writer/director/actor/heartthrob George Clooney. The guy appears in news articles often enough, but in this case, he was speaking out against a certain person who is exerting influence on Sony film-making studios.

Now, as has happened so often in the past, this article shows us an individual who is smart and opinionated - and, most importantly, deeply-committed to the film industry.


In essence, the article is about an activist investor named Daniel Loeb. In case you don't know much about activist investors, here's the link to the Wikipedia page on the topic. For those of you who don't want to read it (and shame on you for being lazy), I can summarize the idea thusly: they're people with money who buy a lot of shares in a company and then tell all the other shareholders that the business they invested in isn't being managed properly. They then suggest various ideas for making the business more profitable.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Kick-Ass Review: A Good Bad Film

Kick-Ass is such a mixed, hit-and-miss film that I had a hard time reviewing it. On the negative side, I have a very limited number of compliments to give it. On the positive side, at the very least it drew some strong reactions out of me, which is to its credit. But even there, this created a problem because it left me with a lot of criticism to lay down on a film that is both (a) unimportant (it's not Eraserhead or even The Last Temptation of Christ) and (b) actually does some things very well.


Matthew Vaughn's 2010 super-hero action comedy follows Dave Lizewski. He's a typical teenage student - life sucks, but he's got a few friends, and there's a girl at his high school that he likes, even though he doesn't dare to ask out. Like a lot of young boys, Dave daydreams of being a superhero. But rather than pretend he's Iron Man or Batman, Dave raises the bar, buys his own superhero costume, then goes out to fight crime.

On his first attempt at vigilantism, Dave's beaten badly, then hit by a car, which leaves DL needing surgery and physical rehabilitation. And it's in these scenes that you see the spirit of the movie: the way Kick-Ass's comedy of embarrassment works is by having reality step in and kneecap people... then twist it all around by using incredible absurdity as a chaser.

In this case, the absurdist part comes when poor, stupid Dave looks up at his x-rays and realizes he has metal in his body like Wolverine; also, the damage from his injuries has left him a bit desensitized to pain. So, yes, trying to become a superhero and failing badly at it actually gives Dave the tools he needs to go back onto the streets as Kick Ass, a guy with "actual" super powers.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

QftWo 11/25-12/1: Imposters #18 - Birth of the Dead

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! It is the time that all of us in the US take an extra 1-to-2-1/2 days of off work to meet with family and eat copious amounts of food. Between the day off, the company, and the feasting, good moods abound - or, at least, I sure hope they do.

On a scheduling note, I've had difficulty getting as many indie reviews out as I promised. One was supposed to be ready yesterday, but paying work comes first, of course. As such, there will be posts here tomorrow and Saturday - and then I'll post an indie review on Sunday to kick off the last month of 2013!

There are many good posts to come here before the year is out, although I can barely believe it's almost over. Maybe I'll give everyone a quick December preview in one of my next 3 or 4 entries.

And, hey, speaking of unusual feasts, let's talk about braaaaaaaaains:


This poster for Birth of the Dead is excellent! I love the cartoony, caricatured style of the drawings, which neatly reference characters featured in George A. Romero's "X of the Living Dead" films.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Great Moments in... Fast Celeb Cameos

Thank god I found one clip with all the relevant sequences from Back to School! This is so much fun. Long story short, Rodney Dangerfield plays a very rough and dirty blue collar-type who became a successful businessman with a men's clothing store that caters to tall and husky men.

After his son takes off for college, Rodney's character decides to get his own bachelor's degree, too. However, pop is more interested in partying and paying others to do his work - even in the English Lit course whose teacher, play by Sally Kellerman, is his potential love interest. Here's what happens when Rodney's part tries to game the system:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Live-Action Dora the Explorer Trailer

At a recent dinner party, a relative made what's normally a faux pas by asking if the assembled people had seen or heard of the live-action trailer for a Dora the Explorer film. I don't have children, but I have been playing with my nephews, and this is how I got to see a couple of episodes of this wildly-popular kids' TV series.

Fortunately, that slight experience was enough to give me an understanding of the program's tropes: maps, some Spanish words, Swiper... And even with only two eps under my belt, I was laughing as hard as the three parents around me. College Humor's work on this thing is simply great.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Reviewing with Others Pt. 60: The Battery

My latest indie screener experience is The Battery. It's about .


How much did I like ST12? I genuinely think that this movie should be played in schools. But enough freebies - my review was published today and you can read it here at Man, I Love Films.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

QftWo 11/18-11/24: Imposters #17 - Catching Fire, 2

And so we've already reached the point where I'm re-doing the coverage given to an ad that I covered a few weeks ago. But I'm not being cheap, ya'll, this is for a totally different poster to promote the same exact film - in a smaller space.


That's the back of two side-by-side public payphones you're looking at. And, honestly, I think they should have gone with a different image altogether. I had a lot of compliments to give to the larger subway poster. This, on the other hand, looks like the upper-half of a 2nd or 3rd printing of a book you find in airport news stands.

While it does suggest more action than Jennifer Lawrence's standing pose in the earlier promotion, this is just a female archer who looks like she's going to shoot an arrow straight at you. But she's not James Bond! Moreover, this close-up doesn't get the nice color palette boost that the prior offering did.

And I have to say that while I liked the tagline I commented on before, "Remember Who the Enemy Is" is a pretty uninspiring and unclear set of words to use. Overall, I don't think that this poster will inspire people to watch this sequel, unless they already loved the prior film...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Simon Pegg & Nick Frost do Star Wars IV

Ah, this little gem is way-old, but it's still a fine piece of work. College Humor, whose name alone would normally get me to avoid their site, has been exceptional for amassing a large number of high-quality clips involving excellent actors in funny situations. I've gone from prejudiced skeptic to firm supporter.

All the way back in Spring 2011, they got together one of the hottest duos in film today - Simon Pegg and Nick Frost - to reenact the scene from Star Wars IV when C3PO and R2D2 land on Tattoine. It's not just a fine example of the chemistry between these two men, it's terribly, terribly funny.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bill Murray Body Slamming Stupendousness

A few weeks ago, Uproxx commendably added to my admiration of Bill Murray with a new video. Mr. Murray was on College GameDay, a program on ESPN.

But anyone who's been following these regular posts knows that Mr. Murray doesn't do anything typically, much less half-way. So, along with his usual charm and wit during the interview, Bill pulled out something extra for all the viewers at home: he body-slammed Lee Corso! Let's watch:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Reviewing with Others, Pt 59: I'm Me

My latest indie film review just went live. I'm Me is the story of an aimless 20-something who decides to go off his meds and start over. I had a lot of issues with the film, but it does feature fine cinematography and I liked the tone of many sequences.

Go here, to Man, I Love Films to read the my review.

QftWo 11/11-11/17: Imposters #16 - a case of you


This is very nicely done. I like the background, of course, the Brooklyn Bridge being partially obscured offering an atypical look at a now-common image. The perlescent sky is pretty enough (I love shooting those), but it also clashes nicely with foreground figures. Their placement close up in the frame, and in the lower right corner provides balance to the negative space in the upper left.

As much as I appreciate the more obvious aspects of the photographic composition, the overall look and text elements deserve praise as well. I like the length of the whole poster. It makes you look around at each section - which was when I smiled over the credits. For one thing, that's a nice group of actors to gather. Each name gets a nice amount of space, with an informal capitalization right up to the tagline.

The quick phrase works very well, too. It provides a fast plot synopsis while also revealing (what I assume to be) some of the story's tension.

In case you can't tell! I like this quite a bit. So on the basis of the poster I will look up films reviews and debate going to see it. The graphic designers involved deserve to feel happy and proud of themselves. I hope they get paid well.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Great Moments in... Insane Celeb Ads (Non-Japan Ed.)

Great Moments in... . This time out, I was browsing the web for a good set of clips from a Lance Henriksen film, and I stumbled onto this: a commercial for Flame beer, directed by Adam Strange. I didn't wanna alter my schedule, but I have too much respect for batshit insanity.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

QftWo 11/4-11/10: Imposters #15 - Delivery Man

From Wikipedia:
Meh is an interjection, often used as an expression of indifference or boredom, "be it as it may". It can also be used as an adjective (meaning mediocre, boring, or apathetic).

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Movie Review Quickies XIV: Overdue Edition

For MRQIV, I decided to tackle 7 films that I've promised to review here at some point or another. The lessened stakes allow me to at least express some thoughts on these pictures without having each review become a big deal.

At least two of these movies will receive a Double Dip treatment at some point in the future, but I do make good on my claims, whenever I can. And I can't do that unless I just suck it up and actually get these reviews out. So today's offerings are: Better Off Dead, Primer, Hot Fuzz, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, The Incredibles, and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.

Better Off Dead

Make no mistake, Better Off Dead is not just some piece of 1980's nostalgia, it's among the best comedies that I have ever seen, and I am grateful for this film's mere existence. When I mentioned Savage Steve Holland's masterwork here this February, I knew it would come up here at least a few more times.

BOD tells the story of Lane Meyer, a high school teen who's having the worst day of his life. It's nearly Christmas, and his girlfriend just dropped him like a bad habit. He pleads with her to stay, yet the bigshot jerk on the ski team has already snatched her up. He's consistently behind in his classes, and his job is both embarrassing and insulting. Also, his treasured car is now a total junker. It's all so unhappy - and so hopeless - that Lane has decided to kill himself... But every time he tries, he screws it up.

What's great about Better Off Dead is that it's one of the funniest black comedies you will ever see. Teen suicide is no laughing matter, but the filmmakers ease the pathos by packing the film with every kind of comedy out there: slapstick, satire, word play... My favorite element of this picture, though, is its sheer absurdity.

Early on, Lane's 12 y/o brother receives a book on how to pick up chicks, and you later see his room full of gorgeous women, in violation of logic, universal morality, and state laws. The paper boy is willing to hunt people down because of an overdue $2 debt. Everyone from teachers to the mail man thinks that it's okay to ask Meyer if they mind them asking his ex out.

Throughout it all, Better Off Dead is an insanely-funny, terribly-charming watch. Young Cusack is very charismatic as the leading sad sack, the crazy locals that make up the ensemble cast are endlessly entertaining, and the story is excellent. I could watch a dozen movies like this. Or I could watch BoD a dozen times (and I probably have).


Monday, November 4, 2013

Last Vegas' Odd Today Show Interview

I feel a little bad about this, since it's a Double Dip for a post from Friday. Just last week, I was discussing the Last Vegas poster. It didn't sound like my kind of thing at all, and the reviews were very not-positive. But I don't have any ill feelings toward the people involved. It's not like this is Epic Movie that we're talking about, here...

The four leads appeared last week on the Today show to promote their new film. News articles on Halloween touted the 1-hour co-hosting gig that the actors would undertake. And, apparently, it was not a rousing success. The poor guys didn't seem into the experience at all.

Unfortunately, I can't find a copy of the video to embed - NBC's video offerings are limited (it would take too long to explain how inadequate their site is in this regard). But I will direct you to a page where you can watch it, in addition to embedding two other interviews gone bad, below.

Friday, November 1, 2013

QftWo 10/28-11/3: Imposters #14 - Last Vegas

I'm conflicted on today's entry, the poster for Last Vegas, a picture targeting the nostalgia factor behind seeing several of Hollywood's most long-lived leading men. In case you don't know, this wide-screen-style image is on an advertising space directly above an entrance to NYC's subway system.

Really, the large print says it all: De Niro, Douglas, Freeman, and Kline. The CVs of these collected stars are pretty much awe-inspiring. This advertisement, then, is pretty much just promoting the facts of (a) these four present day old school thespians are in a movie together, and (b) they're in Vegas, for some significant event. Whether or not the event depicted therein are worthy of attention is presumably based on the fact that it involves these men.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Reviewing with Others Pt. 58: Rewind This!

I meant to do more of these off-site reviews this month, but that hasn't been... the smartest use of my time given my schedule. I saw Rewind This! two nights ago, and you can read my review over here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Silent Hill Revelations Review, for a Friend

I used to go to an eatery in Midtown almost every single workday. I have a bubbly, friendly personality, so I often chat with the people who work in a store I frequent, especially if we can talk in Spanish. One particular woman was always very nice to me – super-kind, really. And we talked about movies a lot once she learned of this site.

One day, I strongly recommended that she check out Looper while it was still in theaters. The next time I saw her, she told me how much she loved Rian Johnson’s fine film and, and seeing how she had followed my suggestion, she gave me one of her own – to go see Silent Hill: Revelations. Today’s post is dedicated to this wonderful woman. I think she is back in her own home country now, so I can’t speak to her directly in any other way than this post.

There were two problems with her request: as much as I’d hate to have someone do what I say and then not return the favor, I have been burned by a lot of horror films that were made after, roughly, 1996. The other part was just awkward... I could hardly respond to her intent appreciation for SH:R by saying, “Yeah, I was offered the chance to watch this for free and interview the director, and because the prior 2006 movie got horrible ratings, I turned it down.” It would’ve been true, but would also have seemed dismissive; instead, I just agreed – and hoped it would come out on Netflix soon.


I am, however, someone who strives to be honorable and I will always repay a debt, obligation, or promise. So when this film did come out on Netflix, I made damn sure to watch it. And that brings us to the review.

Silent Hill: Revelations starts with a dream sequence that instantly informs us that the lead, Heather Mason (Adelaide Clemens) has serious problems, and that her dad, Harry (Sean Bean), is accustomed to her vivid, shouting-out-loud nightmares. It’s clear that they bounce from town to town because they’re running from some sort of threat. Soon after, we’re with Heather on her first day at a new high school, and we quickly understand that she wants to avoid attention and emotional attachments.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Great Moments in... Film Screams (Schwarzenegger Ed.)

In late January, my good friend over at Wasted Degree sent me a link to a great Filmdrunk supercut of Arnold Schwarzenegger's screams. Yes, the unique (yet brave and strong) groans and cries from all of Arnie's films.

It's a lot of fun. This starts at 1982's Conan the Barbarian, and moves right up to 2002's Collateral Damage. Red Sonja is included, but The Terminator and its sequels aren't, as his cyborg actually never cried out - despite all the punishment he took. What a trooper!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Equilibrium Review - Very Unbalanced

2002's Equilibrium is an unexpected and difficult work. I actually remember hearing the early buzz about the picture on AICN - at the time, I think it was called Lithium or some such - and I was very interested in it. If you ever read Brave New World or 1984 or Fahrenheit 451, then you understand how appealing the "future dystopia" idea is. You might have also seen this in movies like Logan's Run, The Running Man, and Escape from New York, but I think it's best to stick to literature...

It's best, because Equilibrium feels like a combination of the three novels I just mentioned. In the future of the film that Kurt Wimmer wrote and directed, all emotions are outlawed (1984), everyone takes mandatory drugs (Brave New World) that dull any and all feelings , and cops harshly crack down on any offenses, which include the possession of literature and art (Fahrenheit 451). The setting of this Christian Bale film is fleshed-out quite thoroughly, a world where humanity has been deeply, deeply changed, with limited-to-no freedom of expression or thought.


So, of course I was interested, and of course I was disappointed that the studio gave the pic a shamefully-limited release (301 theaters, at the most). I rented this the day it came out on DVD, and I simply stood back in shock. Sure, it was changed a bit from what the early releases described, but Equilibrium seemed to make one big mistake for every impressive choice that it displayed.

Above all, this was an incredibly-ambitious movie that tried to go all-out with its ideas, and that deserves praise and respect. In this case, the lead is the best super-cop out there - but rather than stopping robberies or murders, he's destroying people's poetry collections and paintings. Christian Bale's high-ranking Cleric, John Preston, kills people, he doesn't save them - and every lower-ranking officer pretty much fears him.

QftWo 10/21-10/27: Imposters #13 - The Best Man Holiday

A most unusual call is The Best Man Holiday. The title does not really give a lot to work with. And it doesn't name any of the cast, even though the actors are clearly solid choices.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

David Lopan Style!

A while back, I promoted the gloriously-funny fan-made vid, "Batman Maybe." I did this in a post that was loaded with Batman-related goodies. Although I don't have a similar grab-bag for everyone today, I do have a pretty good video to share.

Yes, the same people who created "Batman Maybe" went on to make a parody of Psy's hyper-popular song "Gangnam Style," and they earned my love by making it about one of my favorite cult movies, Big Trouble in Little China.

If, like all good people, you love John Carpenter's "BTiLC" as much as I do, you should get a kick out of "David Lopan Style." Follow the jump link to the post's page and get ready to tame the burning blade!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gravity Review



With 2006's Children of Men, Alfonso Cuaron got on my list of must-watch directors. Children was my favorite movie that year, largely on the strength of several virtuoso long takes that created indelible images.


So I waited for Cuaron's next film. And waited. And waited. When news of Gravity first hit, I was excited that Cuaron was working with big stars (George Clooney, Sandra Bullock) but the plot description was maddeningly thin. Astronauts get stranded in orbit? Is that all there is? As the film got closer to release, I expected more details, but that was all I got. Deep Water in space.

Surprisingly, given those expectations, Gravity turned out to be one of the largest, most satisfying theater experiences I've had in years. Running a beautifully lean 91 minutes, Gravity provides an experience that is simultaneously small movie ascetic and blockbuster luxurious.

Friday, October 18, 2013

QftWo 10/14-10/20: Imposters #12 - Catching Fire

Easily one of the most anticipated movies of the year, Catching Fire is set to make a lot of noise next month, and it's not just going to be for the sight of Woody Harrelson with a gorgeous mane of hair. In the time since Jennifer Lawrence starred in its predecessor, The Hunger Games, her star has risen quite high, and quite quickly.


I was extremely skeptical of tGH. Only a sick day and a perverse sense of boredom got me to watch it. And, although I have no plans to see Round 2 in a theater, I do not expect it suck as I did the initial installment.

And I like the poster. The split image looks good, I like the eye-catching color scheme. Despite the lack of info that can be gleaned from the overall work, I really do appreciate the tagline. It's at least kinda cool, and I can't remember the last time that a poster's catch-phrase was (what seems like) a line from the film itself. This poster is a good job, in my opinion.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bill Murray Ongoing Baseball Exceptionalness

Another two weeks, another time to show some form of affection for the excellent Mr. Murray. This one won't be as long as the last, though. For one thing, I wanted to take some time to put into words just part of why I think he's so easy to respect and appreciate. For another, it needed some set up - y'know you might be wondering why the hell Bill Murray was with a member of the Armed Forces and jumping out of a plane.

This time around, all you need to know is that th beloved actor is a part owner of the St. Paul Saints, a professional baseball team that operates in a league outside Major League Baseball. The crowd is entertained by an enthusiastic chap they call "St. Paul Sieve." The guy zip-lines into the stadium and then goes toe-to-toe with Bill Murray! Let's watch:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Looper Has What Films Should Have


My biggest problem with Looper was trying to find an appropriate way to express how much I loved and enjoyed Rian Johnson's third picture.

Looper gives us the set-up immediately via Joseph Gordon-Levitt's opening narration. Thirty years from now, the three biggest differences in the world are that (a) many people have telekinetic powers, but only to a weak degree. (b) Motorcycles can hover a bit above the ground (woo-hoo!). Oh, yeah, and (c) the mafia of the 2070's got its hands on time travel technology, which they use to send people to the past - to kill those people secretly.

This brings us back to J G-L in the present day as he explains the film's title. "Loopers" are the killers in the past who are employed by the future mob. A hooded-and-bound victim arrives at a specific place and time, the Looper shoots that person, then incinerates the body. The targets also come with the killers' payment, and when the Looper receives gold instead of silver, they know that they have just "closed the loop" - by killing their future selves. It's cold, right?

As you might imagine, Gordon-Levitt's character, Joe, is not a very good person. He lives up to the flaws one would expect of a person who signs up for such work: he thinks he's "going steady" with a hooker who's just on the clock, and he takes a lot of drugs. Yet he's better than his peers - he's studying French and saving a (literal?) ton of his earnings for an eventual retirement in Paris.

Then one day on the job, Joe kills himself, and we see his future flash before our eyes.


Here's that moment - please don't watch unless you've seen the movie!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Reviewing with Others, Pt. 57: Cartoon College

I had a blogging snafu last night. Yesterday's post - another off-site review, was nearly ready to publish. Then I went out to meet some excellent friends of mine for a couple of hours. This experience turned into a 4-5 hour festival of fun, booze, and great conversation. I expected to get back home, wrap up my last edit, and then go to bed. That's not what happened at all - but at least it was for the best cause ever: fun.

Now, almost 24 hours after last week's post should've gone up, I can invite you to check out my review of Cartoon College. It's a documentary about a school in Vermont that provides training and an MFA degree to people who love to work in the artistic medium of comic books and graphic novels. I had a lot of fun with this doc, and I think many other people will, too.


If you'd like to read my review, please check it out here at the Man, I Love Films site. I will, however, return to my normal schedule. Please stay tuned for the review I worked super-hard to complete and polish - for Rian Johnson's exceptional sci-fi action pic, Looper.

Until tomorrow,

Half a Film Student

Friday, October 11, 2013

600TH POST! It's Love/Hate Time!

I am so happy to have hit this milestone. It's taken a lot of work, aided in part by the mass of screener DVDs I have received this year - seriously, I have over 40 sitting on a shelf in my bedroom, just waiting to be watched and reviewed.

I almost don't know where to begin, so I'll start with some site business first. On Tuesday, I added a quick site update, mainly to note that I would be attending an advanced screening of Carlo Carlei's new Romeo and Juliet, which comes out this week. I had a crisis at work, though, and had to cancel.

This is actually kinda fortunate, given the unflattering reviews.

I will have a new Movie Review Quickie up this month, and will try to complete two more for November and December. & I'll continue to write about posters each week until I have fully fleshed-out Question entries. My weekly Review with Others have returned from their September hiatus, but I've prepared several reviews for this site as well - some, of course, are for horror films, as is befitting for the month of October.


So back to the matter at hand: my last milestone post, for Net-flixation's 500th entry, was blessed. DJ's exceptional friend got us tickets to Marvel's employee screening for Iron Man 3 at NYC's premiere movie house, the Ziegfeld. I have no such pre-release gift to share with you today, so I will tell you what work I'm proudest of between #501 and #599, and then I'll talk a bit about the site.

It's been 5 months since that IM3 review, and it's actually not too hard to pick my favorites. If you ever wondered why I turn to poster critique as a break, just consider the amount of time and thought I put into most of the Question entries for which they are a substitute. Talking about bigotry issues in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom took a bit of effort, but I was rewarded by receiving more comments for it than I used to receive in a whole month.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

QftWo 10/7-10/13: Imposters #11 - Ender's Game

So, this week's poster is for the forthcoming film based on the insanely-popular futuristic scifi book series by Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game. That series was on my siblings' bookshelf forever, and yet I've never read it myself...


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Schedule Update

I'll have an off-site review for Sunday. More poster entries will come up as I'm not ready to return to proper Question posts yet.

I'm invited to an advanced screening for the new Romeo and Juliet film, for which I am excited...

See you all Thursday!

"Werner Herzog" Recites Curious George

We all know and respect Werner Herzog, right? I enjoyed Rescue Dawn, as you can read in my review of same. And this fine German filmmaker came up just last month when he made a very important no-holds barred 34-minute PSA about the consequences of texting and driving.

But today's post isn't about this fine artist's voice - it's about his literal, accented voice when he speaks English. Some clever person made a nice video wherein someone impersonating Mr. Herzog reads aloud an adventure with every one's favorite monkey, Curious George. It's a hoot.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Great Moments in... Film Disgust

Ace Ventura Pet Detective is an insane movie. It has tons of flaws but also a lot of laughs, and it performed very well in 1994, when Jim Carrey's popularity was starting to blossom. Since I just used the word "blossom," it's appropriate to stop writing now and just play the first clip.


Ace is reacting this way because Einhorn, who is the aggressive local police chief, kissed him very deeply just the other day. But that's not the real masterpiece of disgust that I want to get to today. It's all just setup for the next clip, which occurs at the end of the film:

Friday, October 4, 2013

QftWo 9/30-10/6: Imposters #10 - Riddick


So... chiseled, mean-looking dude's face; dark background, with nothing else visible; goggles; and glowy eyes.

This isn't really aiming high, is it? Also, if you're going to call back to the premise of the first film, which boiled down to "badass... with perfect night vision!" shouldn't it retain the original's title, Pitch Black?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Reviewing with Others Pt. 56: Dressed

After a break for my September blowout, my Reviewing with Others entries are back!

This week's post is for Dressed, a documentary about a guy who was abandoned by his parents and left homeless. Rather than being a depression-fest, this is a triumphal story about a guy whose hard work helped him overcome such bad circumstances in order to make his dreams come true: displaying his own clothing line at New York's world-famous Fashion Week.

If you'd like to read my review, you can check it out here at Man, I Love Films.

Quick Schedule Update

Long story short, my off-site posts will return, starting with a documentary review that will go live at 6PM today. They should appear every week, but I can't say more than that at the present time.

I was proud of what Net-flixation did last month, truly, but I want to keep the pace going and get even more hits this month. While I could not prepare a review of The Ipcress File for September, it should appear on this site before the year is over. October will have 4 posts per week, as I've done all throughout 2013, with the same schedule I've maintained this year.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Literal Trailer Music: Catching Fire

Tobuscus decided to have some fun with the frankly overwrought trailer for The Hunger Games' sequel, Catching Fire. I very much approve.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Recommended: Netflix gets BBC's Cracker

In 1993, the BBC began airing Cracker, a crime procedural that I feel greatly influenced television series for at least 15 years after - and, no, I'm not just referring to ABC's abortive remake of the show. Just as Graendal and Wide Sargasso Sea were narratives from the point of view of a "villainous" figure, so too was this one of the first real anti-hero TV shows.

Cracker begins with Robbie Coltrane's Fitz Fitzgerald losing money on the horses he just bet on. We immediately cut to the same man delivering a University lecture in which he hurls books by famous psychologists and philosophers straight at the seats of the students assembled before him. He closes this bombastic intro by asking, “Moral. What’s the moral?...” Then he answers by telling the people listening that they have to study themselves and “the dark recesses” of their own souls – and that only then will they have found “the right time to open a book.”


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Question for the Week of Sept 23 - 29 : Favorite Romantic Comedy

What's your favorite romantic comedy?

Well, I had a different question prepared for today, but I'm hyper busy, so I had to abandon that incomplete post so I could take on a Question that was almost complete. I'm increasingly unsure that I'll be able to complete my goal of 2 years worth of weekly Questions, but at least this is a question worth answering...

So I'll just give it to you straight: it's a three-way tie between The Princess Bride, Splash, and When Harry Met Sally. It's funny, as they're the same films I offhandedly named as my three favorites in 2011.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Recommended: Arrow


There's no bigger booster than a reformed skeptic. In the early 2000's, I was excited because The WB aired a series called Smallville, which was about Superman's teen years growing up in Kansas. I stuck it out for a variety of eps, but I grew contemptuous of the show - eventually calling it "Small, Vile."

Specifically, Smallville had two failings for every strength. It relied on the monster-of-the-week episode format excessively, and combined this with a refusal to progress the story and character because that would mean that they'd be writing about Superman, not a teen Clark Kent. Every nice bit of good dialogue was balanced out by a few groaners. The fx were used so sparingly as to be silly. And some of the acting was really, really not good.

It got old fast, is what I'm saying.

So 2012 rolls around and I learn that The WB's successor, CW Network, is airing Arrow, a series about Oliver Queen, aka the Green Arrow - DC Comics' vigilante Robin Hood figure who regularly teams up with Superman and Batman and others. And I assumed it would capital-S suck. I was even more skeptical because I heard that Smallville had added the Green Arrow to its cast - and though I had long-since stopped following that program, I did read some hilarious reviews about how bad Clark Kent's adventures really got.


So imagine my surprise when I checked out Arrow and it's actually quite good. I'm recommending it now, right? Surely something must have turned me around when I tuned in prepared to mock it mercilessly. The show was, simply put, a complete 180 from Smallville. Where the earlier series had poor dialogue, Arrow had good lines. Where the WB's effort was in stasis, the CW's showed constant plot, story, and character progression. While Clark Kent's outings featured poor special effects, Oliver Queen's adventures were full of good visuals and great fight sequences.

The story: we begin with billionaire playboy Oliver Queen's unexpected return to his hometown, Starling City. The guy disappeared 5 years ago with his father and some others; all of them were sailing on a yacht and presumed to have perished in a storm. Ollie comes home, but it's not all wine and roses. For one thing, our lead was a spoiled, irresponsible jerk - he never worked, always partied, and he left on that boat trip with his then-girlfriend's sister!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Abridged Scripts, a Fan-made Gem Site

A couple of years ago, Unreality Mag posted a great Fan-made Gem. I'd meant to share it for some time, but only got around to it now. The Editing Room is a site that specializes in writing one-page scripts that neatly mock major motion pictures. They're terribly funny, and since they're often only one page long, you'd have to be quite lazy to not read at least a few.


They're often fairly clever, and can be gut-bustingly funny the more familiar you are with any particular picture. This is a very fine idea, and it's been nicely-executed.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Great Moments In... Film Phone Calls

Today's latest installment comes to me from Clipnation, which has quickly proven itself to be one of the most useful web resources I will ever know - at least for films. You see, a couple of months back, Clipnation introduced me to one of the most insane phone calls to ever occur in the history of film:

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Twisted Death of a Lonely Madman Site Goes Live

Two months ago, I wrote about the teaser trailer for writer/director Will' Terran's forthcoming film, The Twisted Death of a Lonely Madman. I'm happy, then, to share a little more news about it today.

If you read my review, you'd know that I was very excited by Mr. Terran's prior movie, Id-iology. Even in the RwO post for it, I noted that the picture was difficult and thought-provoking. Given the ugly nature of the personalities and relationships on-screen, I might've simply felt repulsed by the subject matter, but it was instead rewarding because I could envision the artist's hand behind it all.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bill Murray 1980's Interview Impressiveness

Oh, irony of ironies! Less than a day after I update my Fair Warning page with good news about how solid I've been in removing typos, today's post went up with nothing more than a URL to Youtube. Well, after a long day of lawyering, I've fixed the accidental draft post that went up.

Bill Murray Appreciation posts were a happy addition to this site. They allowed me to pay tribute to a fine actor who I greatly admired in my youth, and who has continued to impress over the years since then.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

MRQ XIII: Guilty Pleasures Edition

It's been ages since the last one, but Movie Review Quickies are back! This time out, my 7 selection span a set of guilty pleasure films. We're looking at Brain Donors, The Man in the Iron Mask, Tango & Cash, Mallrats, The Kingdom, Disorganized Crime, and The Evil Dead.

Brain Donors

Brain Donors is a slapstick, mile-a-minute comedy that makes you believe that John Turturro could've been the next Jim Carrey. John plays a shifty, money-grubbing attorney who brings his pals, played by Mel Smith and Bob Nelson, into his latest scheme: to bilk as much money as possible out of a wealthy woman who wants to start a ballet company in honor of her recently-departed spouse.

This picture is ultra-light on plot, but it keeps the laughs coming hard and fast. Nelson and Smith provide excellent support, and it's entertaining to watch Turturro in pure manic overdrive. Some people really split on this picture, which was critically-panned, but people who enjoyed it still remember this 1992 pic and sing its praises.


The Man in the Iron Mask

In 1998, $35 million dollars went into an update of Alexandre Dumas' famous story of a king whose twin has spent years locked up behind a metal mask. A cast of highly-respected international actors - Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, GĂ©rard Depardieu, and Gabriel Byrne - were assembled to play the retired Three Musketeers, with Leo DiCaprio in the titular (and thus dual) roles. The scenery was lovely, as were the costume designs. And yet this movie is horrible.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

QftWo 9/16-9/22: Imposters #9 - You're Next/The Mortal Instruments

I have to give credit to whichever MTA worker decided to place these two posters next to each other. As you're about to see, today's advertisements both mirror each other and resemble each other head-on as well.

Let's start with the graphic for the latest Harry Potter hopeful, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. The first thing I noticed is that it shares the lackluster style of the Elysium poster from last month. The cast here, of course, has nowhere near Matt Damon's profile, so they take up less space - though they are still the dominant part of the image, and are in the same image.


Note that the "city" from the subtitle is even smaller and less-detailed than the futuristic backdrop for Elyisum. Then we have the upper section of the far-left side, which depicts... I'm gonna guess that it's a demon or the film's bad guy.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The World's End Review: Pegg, Frost, Wright Did it Again, in Style

I have a history with the makers of The World's End. I watched this team’s first collaboration, the exceptional UK series called Spaced, in 2004; although the series had ended 3 years prior, the comedy was (and is) still minty-fresh. However, Shaun of the Dead, which had most of the same principle players, was due to come out later that year, and I eagerly anticipated it.

I had some problems with Shaun’s shifts between pure comedy and straight, full-on horror, but as I sat beside my Spaced-ignorant friend, DJ, and we both immensely enjoyed its wit and style and jokes. Three years later saw the release of their next work, Hot Fuzz, and it made me fall in love with them even harder. How much did I like HF? I saw Fuzz on a date, and only 20-30 minutes in, I had already decided that I needed to take DJ to see it, in a theater, as soon as possible.

And, so, 6 years on, I was long-since stoked for the finale of the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy. 12 days ago, I sat down with DJ and my 2 good friends, Tom and Rachel, in a Brooklyn theater - we were all anxious for the latest installment of the combined powrs of Frost, Pegg, and Wright. The 4 of us began laughing shortly after the film began, we kept laughing throughout, and there were a series of excellent surprises that truly impressed us.



In case you know nothing about Cornettos or this trilogy.

The World's End is about Gary King (Pegg), a man who never did anything with his life. He glorifies his high school days – clearly his “peak” – and decides that he will gather his 4 now-estranged school mates. But he’s not doing this to seek help, or atone for past sins, or to re-connect with the people who knew him best. He want sthem to complete “the Golden Mile” with him, a 12-bar pub crawl that they attempted (and failed at) on their graduation day.

Gathering his distant pals is no easy task. For one thing, they’ve all applied themselves and become responsible businessmen and/or husbands. More importantly, however, they all despise Gary because he treated them terribly in the past. But after he manages to cajole each man – it involves lots of lies and confusing speeches – the men all agree to this silly trip back home.

Friday, September 13, 2013

QftWo 9/9-9/15: Imposters #8 - What Happened to JD Salinger?

I don't know why one would bother to make a film poster like the one below, which does so very little. It does nothing to convey anything about its subject or premise; there's just a release date and a title.

I was en English major and, like most people, I read this novel years earlier - in high school. And, although I'd like to think that The Catcher in the Rye has and will endure over time in US classrooms, I cannot imagine how anyone aside from J.D. Salinger's devoted admirers would be drawn into a movie theater by this advertisement.


Dear heaven, I have to assume that anyone short of a JDS fanatic would still be asking, at the very least, "who's in this?" Is this a work of fiction or is it based on real events?

The only praise I can give to such lackluster execution is that at least it reminds me of a Rothko painting I quite like. Yet, in terms of promoting a motion picture, I cannot imagine that the graphic designer involved was aiming for that effect.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Recommended: MST3k

In November, 1988, a local station in Minnesota premiered a show called Mystery Science Theater 3000. No one involved could have predicted how popular the work of a few comedians from the Twin Cities and Wisconsin would become, much less that it'd last 'til 1999.



The basic premise of this show was that a guy, Joel Robinson, was doing janitorial work in a Great Lakes-area laboratory when two mad scientists decided to send him up to a space station against his will. Stranded aboard the Satellite of Love, the scientists (often called "the Mads") force Joel to watch very bad old movies in order to record his response to the stimulus; they want to break his sanity. Joel fights back by turning vital parts of the ship into sentient robots that keep him company during these experiments.

The basic appeal is that Joel's main sidekicks - Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo - are knowledgeable, intelligent and extremely witty. The audience watches the picture at the same time as the three characters, who appear as a three-rows-behind movie theater silhouette while the films play out. They ad-lib lines, mock the on-screen action, and generally crack wise as the flick plays out. The writing is, above all, incredibly, unbelievably funny.

We've all been there: watching bad movies with our friends, making fun of what we're watching... But not everyone is a good comic, and some films are so bad that you can't come up with anything to make the experience fun, much less funny. To that end, the cast of MST3k goes above-and-beyond to generate real entertainment from what should be a painful experience.



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

You Shoulda Been a Movie: GTA III

Today marks the third installment of YSBaM, which now has its own tag on this site. I posted the last one, of which I'm super-proud, in 2012, while the first entry, which is also great, was published in 2011. They take some time to complete, so holler if you want more of these.

What feels like a lifetime ago, I played the second GTA for an hour or so. It was insane, and the overhead perspective made the game feel a little more generic – not in a bad way, but there were many top-down mayhem games out at the time, like Postal. I thought it had some neat features, but I wasn’t especially excited by it. I guess the main factor was the short amount of time I had with it.

Then one day I visited my brother, and fired up his new PS2 and introduced me to GTA III. It was love at first sight, or play, or whatever. All I remember was looking at the screen about 20 minutes into the gameplay and feeling a bit breathless. Here – in first person perspective - were living, breathing city streets with an authentic design. People walking on the side walk. Cars driving about. An elevated train rumbled by. The location even looked a bit like parts of Queens, or perhaps the Bronx.


It was nighttime, and before long, it began to rain as well. Claude, the main character, was racing toward a ringing pay phone to receive an interesting and illegal chance to earn some cash. Then with the press of a button, Claude pulled a guy out of a Camaro and took his car for a drive.

Suddenly, the pace of the game became propulsive. Where I had been sprinting and walking for three blocks, I was 5 blocks away in seconds; in fact, I was enjoying my new-found speed a little too much. A bad turn caused me to get my first wanted star for crashing into a cop’s car. As I sped away, I found myself wishing I had chosen a ride with better handling.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Too Similar #3: Alyssa Milano and Tamara Taylor

A while back, I noted that Eric Stoltz looks a lot like Suzy Amis (or at least very much related to her). The following year, I wrote how Justin Bieber resembles a young Corey Haim. Today, I'm writing about a similarity that I noticed over 6 years ago.

Alyssa Jayne Milano was born in Brooklyn in December 1972. Her breakout role came playing the housekeeper's daughter in ABC's 1980's hit comedy, Who's the Boss? As the snarky, street-smart, heavily-Brooklyn-accented Samantha Micelli. After that show ended, she enjoyed a low-key film career (the Arnie vehicle Commando may still be her biggest film), but most of her work has been in television. She was on Charmed, (the 1990's) Melrose Place, and My Name is Earl. This year, she starred in a show called Mistresses.

As you can tell, she's good-looking. And always has been, no matter what look she tries out.

Tamara Taylor, meanwhile, hails from Canada, the land of hockey players and beautiful women. She was born in September 1970, Her father is black, and her mother is white. And I swear to you all, this lovely female is a dead-ringer for Alyssa Milano.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Three Things About: Redbelt

In the interest of trying to boil my writing down into something more manageable, I'm trying out a new series, "Three Things About..." where I'll limit my commentary to three bullet-pointable items. For the inaugural attempt, I'm taking on David Mamet's Redbelt. Here's the trailer--the good trailer, which doesn't feature major spoilers:



1) The Inspiration: Redbelt is the story of Mike Terry  (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a Jiu Jitsu instructor in LA whose school is struggling financially, and who is pressured to fight professionally to make ends meet. Writer/director David Mamet was inspired by his own experiences with Jiu Jitsu, a martial art to which actor Ed O'Neill introduced him. And so we have the delicious image of black belt Al Bundy:



Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Great Moments in... Talking to Ghosts

A long time ago, Steve Martin played a widowed brain surgeon. He hits a woman with his car, then saves her life. He falls in love with her beautiful face and body. For the first time since his wife passed on, he's starting to have feelings for a woman.

He doesn't know that his victim/love is a cruel woman who marries rich men, cheats on them constantly, and kills them to inherit their property.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Question for the Week of Sept 2-8: I'll Have "a Beer"

Why, oh, why do people in films walk up to a bartender and say "I'll have a beer?"
HAHAHA, this is one of those classic and common bits of movie fakeness - like how often film characters drive in a car and look at a passenger they're talking to far longer than is safe. Or every phone number starting with "555." These are conceits, artificial things about the film or TV world that you're supposed to simply accept. Films and shows come with tropes: lots of rooms are missing a 4th wall, and actors seldom name their drink.

Admittedly, sometimes you don't get what you ordered.

While the one for drivers bothers me no end - sure eye-contact is important, but the two-second rule is far more so - I am fine with the "555" thing because it keeps people from being harassed because they happen to share a phone number used in a picture. Similarly, some people laughed at The Matrix: Reloaded for having obvious roll cages inside the cars in the freeway sequence. Those who complained are idiots.

Personally, it's easier for me to ignore the protection used for the stunt actors than it is to read that people died/were crippled in order to make a rollicking good action scene.

With that said, there are two kinds of people: those who drink beer and those who don't. If you're in the latter category, you see Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut walk into a bar and ask for "a beer" and it probably doesn't bother you at all. However, most post-college beer drinkers know that not all beers are created equal. Some people can't stand "stouts," like Guinness. Others sneer at the cheaper beers like Miller and Budweiser. Still others prefer foreign beverages or micro-brews.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Recommended: Moonlighting

My roommate and I have had some good movie conversations. The guy is intelligent and thoughtful, and his taste is both good and broad. But he's also a bit younger than me. The other day, we were talking about film superstar Bruce Willis, and it suddenly struck me that maybe he wasn't as familiar with Mr. Willis as I was.

That's when I decided to show him a Bruce Willis that I correctly guessed he knew nothing about. See, Bruce used to tend bar in Jersey (yes, that line from Die Hard was a genuine in-joke) before he made his name through acting. Very quickly, he made a stellar break-out as the male lead for a new ABC mystery/comedy/drama, Moonlighting. The TV series opens with former model Madeleine Hayes (Cybill Sheppard), who wakes up one morning to learn that her accountant embezzled almost all her cash and fled to South America. In seconds, she goes from an upscale life of leisure to having to worry about her finances.

Aside from her home and material possessions, the only thing her crooked accountant left her was the Blue Moon Detective Agency. Maddy goes to inspect her last remaining investment and finds that the staff is full of assorted kooks who goof off instead of working. Case in point: the employees' limbo competition in the main room. The receptionist answers the phones with long-winded greetings that always rhyme. Next, she meets the sole manager of this nuthouse, a licensed PI called David Addison (Willis).


Rather than act like a detective or a responsible leader, David's a loud-mouthed ringleader/flirt/big brother to his coworkers. He encourages them to mess around on her dime, which immediately shocks and infuriates Ms. Hayes. She intends to close the failing business, a fact which Addison responds to with guilt, flirtation, pleading, and finally, anger. Despite chasing her away, David genuinely wants to preserve the agency (and his own job), so he relentlessly pursues Maddy to convince her to give it a shot. He breaks through her insistence when fortune sends them a case loaded with danger and international intrigue.