Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hope Everyone Was Good Today

But not too good.

Happy Thanksgiving

This year, I'm thankful for my wife, my rabbit, having a heated home, having food to eat, having things to enjoy, having people who still dig my blog, having blogs I dig, Nintendo Wii, Tumblr, Hobo Trashcan, the success of Godzilla Haiku, the success of Chicks 'n' Pokemon, the music of Ray Charles, the ready availability of pornography on the internet, the continued existence of Kristen Bell and Go-Go Gomez, my family, and having a car that's not in good enough shape to drag myself out of the house on Thanksgiving Day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

If You Voted for This Woman, You Are Too Stupid to Live

Failin' Sarah Palin on the Korean conflict: "Obviously, we’ve got to stand with our North Korean allies. We’re bound to by... by treaty."

Like such as what, Charlie?

TV Report: The Blitz

Yeah, How I Met Your Mother, I'm going to need the Blitz to show up on about 6 or 7 more episodes this season.

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

Neil Marshall directed this movie about a Roman soldier (Michael Fassbender) stuck behind enemy lines, trying to lead a group of survivors back to Hadrian's Wall. It's like a pulp adventure--painted in broad strokes of life and death, very gory, with a group of likable characters in peril. Not quite the equal of the director's The Descent, but very, very entertaining. I especially dug David Morrissey and Liam Cunningham as two of the Roman soldiers, and Olga Kurylenko is surprisingly badass as the Brigantine tracker hunting them down. ***1/2 stars.

Very engrossing take on Oscar Wilde's novel, which turns the original story into something of a horror movie, but grabbed my attention and never let go of it. Ben Barnes is very good as Dorian--he seems all too happy to sink into moral decay--but the real star of the movie is Colin Firth as the friend who leads him there. Firth is perfect in this movie; deceptively casual when discussing what one should experience, then locking those eyes on Dorian in a commanding way that's almost terrifying. He can be a riveting actor when given a meaty role, and here is at his best. Good acting turns also from Ben Chaplin and my always lovely Rachel Hurd-Wood. A very atmospheric movie that's one of the best modern gothic horror movies I've seen in a while. **** stars.

Colin Firth again, this time as the bored patriarch of a very frivolous family in this adaptation of Noel Coward. I'm not the world's biggest Coward fan, but this movie really worked for me because, despite all of the farcical humor and bouncy editing--creative use of music, too--it took the characters and their concerns seriously. Jessica Biel is the best I've ever seen her as the American widow who shockingly marries--on impulse--a younger, immature man (Ben Barnes) who is supposed to take over the running of a crumbling estate. Kristen Scott Thomas has fun as the boy's horrified mother. Beautiful costumes. ***1/2 stars.

HEIDI (1937)
This is only the second movie I've seen with a non-teenage Shirley Temple, but I've liked them both (the other was Wee Willie Winkie, by John Ford). Granted, I haven't seen any of her full-blown musicals, but I'm surprised by how much I like her as a screen presence. Also, after watching this movie, I'm surprised I never noticed before how many elements are shared by Heidi and The Secret Garden. This is a handsome movie about a likable child played by a likable actor. ***1/2 stars.

This is a prime example of the kind of DreamWorks movie I tend to hate--built around the unfunny comic persona of an unfunny comic actor (Ben Stiller here), coupled with references to other movies, a midlife crisis and incredibly ugly character design. I've seen some of the concept art for the Madagascar characters, and it is surprisingly delightful; in action, in blocky computer animation, it's hard to look at for too long. Like the first movie, the only real laughs come from the lemurs and the penguins, who have a bigger role here. I don't like these movies. I just don't. * star.

Pretty, gentle, and nice, like the first two. Great character design, and here the other fairies get more to do than in the last one. I don't have much to say about it--these movies don't inspire much comment. They're just enjoyable and pleasant and then they're gone. *** stars.

Supremely boring remake of a horror classic. Typically, it's just an action movie with no characterization, no crescendos, and no tone. It's just there and it is fucking tedious. No stars.

PIRANHA 3D (2010)
Okay, this movie starts with Richard Dreyfuss in a cap and denim jacket, fishing in a boat and singing "Show Me the Way to Go Home" before being killed by a school of prehistoric piranha. Yeah, it's that kind of movie, and it is awesome. I loved this flick. It just unselfconsciously embraces what it is: a goofy, bloody horror pic with nudity and kids in peril and lots and lots of creative gore (KNB outdoes itself here). And finally, a filmmaker who appreciates Kelly Brook's body as much as I do. About damn time. I almost didn't want this movie to end, I was enjoying it so much. Based purely on how much fun I was having, **** stars.

A sweet movie that updates Ramona's world, but not her outlook on life. It's interesting to see a movie about kids that can be emotionally genuine without having to drag it down to the obvious and vulgar. It's not earthshaking, but it's so pleasant and reassuring, even as Ramona is dealing with being an outsider, making mistakes, nearly losing her home, and worrying about her parents' jobs and marriage. A great deal of this is due to Joey King, the little girl who plays Ramona. She is just wonderful. She's so good in this movie that I will be seriously miffed if they don't find a way to adapt other Ramona novels for her. She's so natural and charming, not at all the annoying little monster that could so easily be plugged into the role. The supporting cast is pretty charming, too, especially John Corbett (who I don't always like) as Ramona's father, and the wonderful Selena Gomez as her older sister Beezus. *** stars.

MACHETE (2010)
At one point in his career, Robert Rodriguez would've knocked this out of the park. Now, it's just another one of his throwaways that isn't as much fun as it should be, seems to have no real effort put into it, and tries too hard to be cool without earning it. And it's also a good reminder of just how bad an actress Jessica Alba really is. Anyway, I love Danny Trejo, and he was fun as hell as Machete Cortez, but... hell, it's not even really worth talking about, is it? Some of the cast is pretty good--Jeff Fahey, in particular--and some of the cast really sucks. Lindsay Lohan? Please. It's another pathetic reminder that all of her talent went up her nose and that her only great role was completely due to Tina Fey's writing. Lindsay plays a strung out wannabe nude model--basically, herself. I wonder if she even remembers she made this movie, or if they just dragged her around and told her what to say. Good gore, and Tom Savini's role isn't nearly big enough, but Rodriguez doesn't know how to pull off a third act anymore. Nice to see the Crazy Babysitter Twins, but most of the stunt casting is just distracting. **1/2 stars.

TSA Comment

I'm watching the news this morning, and of course we're getting travel updates out of O'Hare, it being the day before Thanksgiving and all. This year, there's a lot of talk about the TSA patdowns and full body scanners. I haven't been commenting on this because I've been reading about it everywhere and, since I never travel, everyone else's impression is probably better than mine. Yes, I have a very negative opinion of airport security right now, but so do a lot of people, and mine's not really unique.

I will say this, though: I'm seeing a lot of people interviewed on the news this morning who are quite clearly bending over backwards to say that the TSA has the right to do whatever they want. But when you look in the eyes of these people, they seem nervous. Like, if they don't seem happy to submit to whatever authority wants, they're going to get in trouble somehow. And that really bothers me. It's bad enough we're turning this country into some kind of soviet, with secret police and permission papers and random security checks. But when you keep submitting to violations of your person, you're telling your government you have no problem with this happening. It's not the right of the TSA to do this to you just because they tell you it's their right; and it's pathetic to watch this country give up more and more of its privacy and freedom because there's a small chance that a fairly rare occurrence might be stopped. Honestly, tell me how many terrorists the TSA has come across. None.

All I know for sure is this: if these same citizens, cowed into not making waves for fear of appearing sympathetic to terrorists, had gone to a foreign country and were told that they wouldn't be allowed to travel without being bathed in cancer rays and photographed in the nude, and then were told that by not submitting to the nude photography they were to be subjected to molestation by a security agent, they would be screaming for the US to do something about this violation. But because this is America and the word "security" gets thrown around, here it's okay.

Have fun traveling today.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ingrid Pitt 1937-2010

I'm very saddened to read that my favorite woman of Hammer Films, Ingrid Pitt, passed away today at the age of 73. Her birthday was only a couple of days ago; she'd had a collapse recently, and had been in the hospital in London.

Pitt, in addition to being an interesting columnist and writing the only reference guide to vampires I've ever enjoyed, starred in three of my favorite movies: The Vampire Lovers, Countess Dracula, and The Wicker Man.

Goodnight, sweet lady. You meant a lot to me.

Things That Are Too Awesome Not to Happen

The Cookie Monster Should Host Saturday Night Live Page on Facebook. I'm sure it won't ever happen, but I had to like the page, just in case it ever could, and because I really dig the idea.

Every once in a while, Becca and I talk about our dream SNL hosts. I guess that's a meme I could try: a dream season of Saturday Night Live hosts. Anyway, my first choice is always the Muppets. A Muppet hosting that show... well, I'd watch that, even if Kristen Wiig would end up doing one of her vast array of totally unfunny socially awkward characters.

Will Smith Sucks

ME: So, according to this website, the worst Halloween song is "Are You Ready for Freddy" by the Fat Boys.

BECCA: Yeah, that was pretty terrible.

ME: Of the surprisingly vast library of Freddy Krueger songs, the best one is "Nightmare on My Street" by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.

BECCA: I used to love that song, but I am so beyond sick of Will Smith right now.

ME: Well, I'll give you that, but the classics are still the classics.

BECCA: I'd rather see the Fat Boys in I Am Legend than Will Smith at this point.

ME: Okay, well, to be honest, I would totally see that movie. As opposed to the Will Smith version, which I haven't even bothered to see.

BECCA: Fuck it, I'd rather watch Disorderlies than Ali.

ME: Well... yeah, okay, me too.

Happy 18th Birthday, Miley!

Monday, November 22, 2010

70 Years of Terry Gilliam

Happy 70th Birthday to my favorite filmmaker!

Oh, Right, Hell's Kitchen

I forgot to write about it. Although, honestly, I think I also forgot I watched it. It's just getting harder and harder to watch. I don't like anyone, and even the most obviously talented people are a drag to be around. And with that month delay, it feels like this cycle of the show has been going on forever. And since this is, let's be honest, the worst cast of contestants they've ever had, who really cares? With no one to root for, I'm just watching Gordon go around in circles merely because I like Gordon.

Sabrina went home. Not a surprise; she's a brat, and the way she whined at being put up for elimination just confirmed that she's not mature enough for the responsibility of running a kitchen. Neither is Trev, who was also up and is even whinier (arguably), but unless someone actually cuts off someone else's finger this week, I expect Trev will be dispatched next.

Does it matter? Down to the final six and the kitchen is still being shut down. Fuck me. These people all suck.

It's not the worst show I keep watching on TV right now (that would be The Office), but it is a trial.

Kristen Bell Mondays

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Song of the Week: "Mr. Wilson"

Here is the opening track--a song about one of my heroes, Brian Wilson--from John Cale's terrific 1975 album Slow Dazzle. Brian Eno and Phil Manzanera play on this album, too, so it's got a bit of the Roxy/Eno feel to it, which may explain why I love this album so damn much. For my money, it's Cale's three albums for Island in the mid-seventies that are his best work.