Monday, March 31, 2014

Great Moments In... Hospital Scenes

The Naked Gun is one of my all-time favorites. As a comedy, as a film, as a story... It would take too long to describe, and brevity is the soul of something something, so: This moment is just a small example of the film's genius and overwhelming comedic power, but I would put it up against any hospital scene from any movie ever.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Jaguar's Clever Typecasting Ad

Thank you Hulu! This entry has to be a Youtube Gem, because it's a professionally-made Jaguar ad, so "fan" doesn't quite fit here. And yet the excellent delivery makes it actually feel like a Fan-made Gem. Anyway, watch as Sir Ben Kingsley, Mark Strong, and Tom Hiddleston enjoy the hell out of mocking British villain typecasting.

It's quick, it's punchy, it looks beautiful - quite sleek and dark, befitting the subject - and it's very funny. It helps that these guys are all solid actors, and they range from: an old favorite, like Kingsley, who's done some huge turns as antagonists; to Strong, who was in 25 or so movies between 2008 and 2013; to a new favorite like Hiddles.

Of course, after the second time I watched this, I had to stifle the reply: because of all those things your nation did

But let's not spend much time on such thoughts now...

I have a lot of respect for everyone involved in this, because it really is quite well-made, in the best possible spirit of an advertisement. There's also a double-length version:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Imposters #43: Bad Words

Much like so many who have seen Arrested Development - and the indie documentary about it that I reviewed last year - I have a great appreciation of and respect for Jason Bateman. I wasn't especially a fan before, but I certainly was after I watched the series. Without him, AD would be such a hard sell. What I'm trying to say is that I hope his career is successful and rewarding.

But I was in the subway system and I saw a poster for a film that he is directing. And, I have to say, I was... quite discouraged by the very look of it. Gaze upon the horror that is the Bad Words promo shown to mass transit commuters:

Seriously, I don't care if it's a poster for Bad Santa or Letters to Sarajevo or Die Untergang, that is one hideous graphic. Although I can imagine that some displeasing images could still get me excited or intrigued to see a film, this one just puts me off.

I will maintain neutrality when I sit down to watch a picture, but before then, you can be damn sure that I will be snide when I see words like "Michael Bay," "Zack Snyder," or "Rob Schneider." This poster, however, comes from someone I like - and yet it's the used tissue of movie posters. I don't want to touch it, much less look at it; I just want it gone, in the trash and out of sight... It's so ugly, all of my coworkers recall it, so I guess it is effective.

But, as repulsive and lackluster as the overall image is, I noticed one exceptional and brilliant element in it. You can only notice this effect, which is a lot like pointillism (tiny dots making up an image), when you see a shot taken from a couple of feet away, as seen to the left.

In effect and execution, the small-scale work here is exceptional. It's vivid, different, and it looks really cool. I am quite simply stunned that someone managed to work such beauty and technical skill into the design for an overall graphic that I find repellent and unengaging. It's like seeing the biggest roach ever, but with a lovely multi-hued butterfly pattern etched onto its nasty little shell.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Question for the Week of Mar 24-30: A Dumb & Dumber Sequel?

Well, it makes sense from a few different perspectives: (1) Dumb and Dumber was a huge success; (2) people still remember the title, that it starred Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, and that the movie itself was damn funny.

I have to give them credit for the title, Dumb and Dumber To, because that is actually funny. Also, Uproxx picked up on Daniels and Carrey tweeting the posters, which are also actually funny. However, despite the return of the Farrelly brothers, this approach ignores a lot of really basic facts - facts that would make people with good taste shy away from this project. Let's recount them now, shall we?

First, DaD set up the Farrelly brothers' success. They really nailed it four years later with There's Something About Mary, but the critical and box office response for their work since then has been a matter of diminishing returns. Me, Myself, & Irene, Osmosis Jones, Shallow Hal, Stuck on You, Fever Pitch? They took a two year break, then a four year break. None of these really mirrored their earlier hits, and their 2012 The Three Stooges movie was not universally loved, either.

Second, comedy and society and whatnot are totally different today than they were in 1994. Is anyone sure that the same type of comedy would play as well in this post-Juno, post-Borat, post-Hangover world?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Darth WHAT?!

Uproxx's Clipnation isn't perfect, but then they don't need to be. They do release (or point the way to) some great film-related material, like this hard-of-hearing Darth Vader:

Friday, March 21, 2014

Imposters #42: Need for Speed

Entry #700 is a big deal, isn't it? I mean, this time it falls sort of in between the gaps, with my own (and DJ's) year end summary coming out two months ago, and this site's 5th anniversary coming up next month. So I don't think I should list the posts I am proudest of yet - there will be time for that next month.

But I do want to thank everyone for reading and commenting here, and making this little labor of love easier and happier. You have my undying gratitude!

Unfortunately, today's graphic is a little too reminiscent of the Drive poster... Although I do like the color palette. I'm also fond of the shot composition, with the moody, half-obscured face of the film's lead. I can't tell if I like the title's font, but I definitely like the white text contrasting with the black, blue, and orange scheme.

Overall, I wouldn't call this poster too special, despite it being a decent retro effort.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

MRQ XV: Pleasant Surprises Edition

[11:25PM UPDATE: I owe 19 people an apology - an earlier draft posted by accident. I fixed it, and some typos, with the big changes going to the reviews for Dredd, Immortals, MI: Ghost Protocol, and Solomon Kane. I warn readers this can happen, and I couldn't leave work early to correct it all. I was happy I could make any fixes before the day was over.]

I said there would be no reviews for a spell, but I've been working on this entry for a while. All of the pix reviewed today were far better than I had anticipated, and I watched all of them via Netflix Streaming. Yet today's MRQ is a little different - I'm only covering 6 movies today, not the usual 7: The Numbers Station, Dredd, Immortals, Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol, The Hunger Games, and Solomon Kane.

The reason for the change is that I'm going to do a Multiple Review soon to tackle 2 films that were going to be reviewed here - Joss Whedon's Serenity and the German cult hit, Iron Sky; I wanted to give that pair some breathing room...

The Numbers Station

Jon Cusack and Malin Akerman make a very nice show for themselves in this nifty, slender picture that is wrapped around one main premise: that there have been random radio stations broadcasting codes, in the form of sets of numbers, since WW2.

tNS gives us the idea that these numbers are all signals meant to be received and interpreted by spies around the world. The numbers, as well as the locations from which they are broadcast, are given multiple layers of security to prevent anyone from understanding them, much less tampering with any part of the system.

What results is a low-key thriller that punches above its class in a lot of ways. The sets are great visuals that also create a great sense of confinement and claustrophobia. The narrative is told in a nifty, disjointed fashion that I found to be quite pleasing and creative.

Perhaps best of all, the movie is full of solid character work. In addition to sketching out the players vividly and quickly, each of them receive an arc - which is not seen as often as it should be even in pictures with larger budgets and higher-profile names attached. The picture leans too much on Cusack's Grosse Point Blank character, but it's still just fine.

And I have to love the fact that we arrive at several moments where the roles are forced to confront each other, their own choices, and the lives that they are leading. tNS is such a small movie that you'd never expect it to espouse some genuine existentialist themes and ideas - and yet it does. Whether or not it looks like it was filmed in the course of one week, the people behind this picture, especially director Kasper Barfoed, deserve a lot of praise.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Question for the Week of Mar 17-23: Worst Bad Guy Intro

What's the worst villain intro you can think of?
Hahaha, there are few things as painfully fun as beating up on something that sucks. Well, I won't give you one villain intro, I will give you four! (plus one protagonist/good guy)

The answer comes courtesy of the 1997 Simon West film, Con Air. And because both the intro and this moment truly stink, I will give it to you without commentary:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Batman Invades Christmas Classics

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! It's a special time - a time when Scottish bagpipes lead dedicated performers in parades around the country... And the observers "celebrate" the Irish by getting tanked, throwing up, and generally making choices that will hurt their parents and/or significant others.

I've been hanging on to this video for a spell. In short, Uproxx nailed it (again) - at the end of last year. I have to give them a lot of credit, although the last clip - which starts at 2:12 - is so funny that it really saves the whole thing...

Friday, March 14, 2014

Imposters #41: Non-Stop

It's odd - the poster for Non-Stop is in no way bad. It conveys a moment of action, one which should interest the viewer while also informing them about the film's story. It's considered incredibly dumb (and illegal) to discharge a weapon on a plane, but fine. Similarly, the tagline should engage a bystander even further - the protagonist is facing a deceptive and complex situation.

Yet it's hard to feel too good about this. Neeson is a fine dramatic actor, and Hollywood has been leaning on him a lot over the last 6 or so years to turn the man into an action star. Also he's Irish, so we already know life has treated him poorly. I guess if I want anyone to earn those big, fat blockbuster action paychecks, it's Mr. Liam Neeson, but...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Question for the Week of Mar 10-16: Actor's Biography

What is the dumbest or funniest actor's biography you've ever seen?
Do you ever go to used book shops? I recently had the pleasure to be in a massive used book store in a small town. Their catalogue and prices were impressive... As I wandered the aisles, I wound up spending some extra time in the Humor and Film/TV sections.

For a variety of reasons, I was drawn to their surprisingly-good selection of works. There were biographies on Tarantino and Truffaut, the novelization of Mel Brooks' High Anxiety... And then, sitting atop a box full of books, I spotted one of the funniest sights I have ever seen:

Right? Is that image not delicious? The Robin Williams Scrapbook, by Mary Ellen Moore, came out in 1979 - only 2 years after Williams started working in TV! It's a big deal when you're getting books written about you so soon, isn't it?

First, Robin Williams appeared in 1977 on NBC's The Richard Pryor Show, which only lasted 4 episodes. But Robin quickly moved on to a much more high-profile role: he played the alien Mork, who appeared in the 5th season of the hyper-popular program, Happy Days. HD's fifth season (1977-1978) was the #2 show on the air at that time.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bill Murray Tongue Twister Remarkableness

Uproxx again takes the cake, because I wouldn't have learned about this incredibly bad-ass display of linguistic skill if not for their keen eyes and ceaseless web-crawling. It really is kind of breath-taking, so I will stop gabbing and make with the video:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Schedule Update: Reviews on Hold

Hi, all. This is just a quick note to tell you all that weekly reviews are on hold for now. Over the weekend, the schedule section of my About page was updated to reflect that fact, but I wanted to make it official.

The main thing to keep in mind is that I still have four weekly posts lined up through at least the end of April/the start of May (this entry won't count as one of them). Also, I do have some reviews in the pipe for the next spell, I just won't have them on a weekly basis.

In any case, my next entries will go up tomorrow, the day after, and then again over this weekend Friday. Enjoy, please - I have some nice work in store for us all to enjoy...

Monday, March 10, 2014

Great Moments In... Villain Phone Calls

Half-Baked is, by no means, a perfect film. However, it has several funny parts. And, above all, it was smart enough to cast Clarence Williams III, a truly fine actor.

And then it was genius enough to basically make him a city-bound James Bond-style villain. Bask in the glory of this moment, my friends:

Isn't he the best?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Imposters #40: About Last Night

So I'm the first person to say that I'm glad to see a remake that transposes the race/ethnicity of the leads. In so many cases - as with the Rob Lowe/Demi Moore 1986 vehicle, About Last Night - the specific background of the characters doesn't matter at all. So why not make them not white?

Unless, of course, the Powers That Be think that nobody really wants to see a movie unless it's about a white wo/man...

In this case, I'm fine with the poster. I like the idea of using a few shots, like vignettes, to establish the feel of the picture, and elements of the characters and story. I think the taglines are just fine - two serious, then one that's funny, with all tied to the film's title.

And I like the pictures that they use. The topmost makes clear this is a mature movie, because its showing two people in bed, obviously talking or discussing something. You might think they're saying "peace" or throwing up gang signs, but I'm sure it's just rock-paper-scissors.

And this means that more "adult" men and women should enjoy ALN.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

How Thor 2 Should've Ended

Every time I think the HISHE crew has made me laugh as hard as they can, they find new ways to top themselves. Their take on Thor: The Dark World is particularly impressive:

I just hope that this doesn't cause you, the reader, to lose the next few hours scouring their older entries. Don't worry, I'll keep highlighting great Fan-made Gems over the coming months!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Join Me in Hating the Daily Breeze, Won't You?

Thanks to Uproxx, I know that this was their headline for the year's triumphant Best Picture, 12 Years a Slave:

Holy f--king c--ks--king m--herfu--ing b--ls--t, how the hell did that headline seem like a reasonable comment in this day and age? I had a whole other post prepped for today - I finished it two weeks ago, no less - but I couldn't sit by and let such random, wanton, foolish fu--ery go by unnoticed.

Hang your heads in shame, dear readers. And then write some hate mail to the Daily Breeze, a special edition of the LA Daily News.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Question for the Week of Mar 3-9: Rudy LIES?!?!

Rudy is the story of a guy who's not built for football, but his determination lets him beat the odds and take the field for the team he loves. Sean Astin's lead takes a lot of abuse, showing dignity and heart in a feel-good story that ends with his team demanding he get to play, him sacking a quarterback, and Rudy being cheered by name while carried off field.

So this week's question is: why did only half of that stuff happen? Why would Rudy, the heart-warming 1993 pic starring Sean Astin, lie about the achievements of its real-life subject?

I came up with this question because of something so annoying, I could only survive it by mocking it. The heating unit at the office kicked in with a clanging sound that was seconds apart for a spell, but persisted and built a steady pace. It had gone on like that for about a minute before I had to start chanting, "Ru-dy! Ru-dy! Ru-dy!"

Silly? Yes. But I made lemonade out of lemons, and my coworkers laughed.

Because I am a guy who thinks about pop culture a lot, even movies I've barely seen, I started thinking about the very random joke I had just made. I probably caught only two-thirds of this pic on cable, in the late 90's. But one thing I never forgot was what my football-loving friends told me long ago: that the film completely inflates everything Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger did.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Imposters #39: Vampire Academy

This particular poster has been very hard to shoot, and I don't mean just because it's an eyesore.

You can see a little bit of horizontal glare along the very top of the poster. It's caused by the fluorescent bulb overhead, but even posters that weren't so close to a light source had the same problem.

So it took a bit of work, but I finally got it down and took a shot without the glare.

The tagline is okay, but every other element of the poster is just horrible. And by "every other element," I mean:

the size - and, most of all, the clashing pink color - of the tagline; the uninspiring outfits worn by the two women in the ad; the extremely boring background, which is reminiscent of nothing, save for perhaps the Roman arch; the awkward banner with the film title and the names of the brother writer/director team (even though it's wise to advertise the names behind two classic high school stories); and, above all, the sickly and garish neon/lime green color that overtakes the entire image.

This represents a veritable "what not to do" of film promotional poster design.