Category Archives: Movies

Even More movies that Would be improved by the addition of a Giant Telepathic Squid

Let’s get right to it

50 Shades of Gray Grey

BDSM and Sensuality are nowhere to be found in this hollywood bean flicker about Dakota Johnson and some Dude who is #notmychristian. It’s a Hollywood take on a BDSM movie that doesn’t star Rosie O’Donnell and Dan Akroyd.  Without that dynamic duo, who has the time for it?

How would this movie be improved by a sprinkling of Calamari with evil intent?

Two Words.  Slimy Sex. Okay, three.  Slimy Wet Sex? No, moist.  That’s it.  Moist.  Everything would be moist.  I have it on good authority that moist is a wholly despicable word,  So I’ve taken the liberty to moisten this whole paragraph up in anticipation.  I got nothing, I remembered the Dan Akroyd Rosie O’Donnell Sex movie and my mind went to its happy place and didn’t want to come back.
Lemmie take another swing at this.
Christian Grey? Or Gray, what way is it.  Not Still stuck on Rosie in Bondage gear.
It was just startling, she was already middle aged and so was Dan Akroyd.  It’s called Exit to Eden.  THAT Movie could have used some human sized squid, to ink out our memories!  I have exactly three good memories about that movie and they have little to do with the movie itself.

King Kong

King Kong is the story about how a girl can go away on an overseas adventure, come home and her summer romance follows her home in steerage,  Things are all going well for him, he has a show on Broadway, he’s even the star; but when the Girl isn’t on his same wavelength he takes things to extremes and ends up getting hurt,

How could King Kong be improved with a Giant Squid?

For once the Giant Squid is not one of the “bad guys”  Gail finds herself alone in the wilderness; next to a blue pond when a massive, squishy head emerges.  Another Giant Monster.  It looms over her, tentacles caressing and teasing her, a massive beak just feet from her.  Fetid air around it.  It opens it’s mouth and… says “Gurrrrl, you should get away from Kong now, he’s only going to snatch you up and run away with you”
Later, standing over Kong’s body Gail gets a telegram with the words ‘I told you so.  Squid”

Mrs. Doubtfire

How could Mrs. Doubtfire be improved by adding a Giant Squid?

 

Re-Watching Pump up the Volume

Funnily enough I just watched “Pump up the Volume” again after many years and being even further from being the kid who loved Happy Harry Hardon; I found it EMBARRASSING to watch.

1) There were no popular kids who menaced our hero; nor where there obvious cliques that he did or did not inhabit.  His entire struggle was with shyness.  That’s his entire conflict.  He adopted HHH so that he could express the (often pointless) things that crossed his mind while bragging about his sexual prowess? Sound familiar?  Yep, just check out those earnest anonymous videos on YouTube or those anonymous assholes who run “Internet Radio Stations”  They are there, getting out of their shells, bless them.

2) He turns into batman half-way through the movie (after spending the first half playing Spider-man, oh will he give up his pirate radio station, NO HE IS THE HERO!) being Batman he is one step ahead of the police. who couldn’t get a warrant to search every house in 1000 yards of the house they magically located the wireless phone station at (more like 50 yards at most, but I digress)

3) The one and ONLY nod to his angst with other people is when he makes that weak attempt at looking hard at the “stuck up” girl (who was anything but uptight or stuckup, she seemed like a sympathetic character throughout, everyone did save for that kid who wanted SO HARD to be Billy Idol, who was kind of a massive dork)

4) White kids!  White kids! White Kids!  I know the demographic in some Arizona Communities skews to the pale, but jeezie kreezie, that whole movie was  a shitty dancing, white people problems -palooza.  No one was struggling with drugs or poverty or crime or really anything.  Beyond a vague sense of menace from the principal, coach and possible child molester guidance counsellor, it didn’t seem that anyone was particularly trod upon.  So what the hell were they all so worked up about?

5) Probably their crappy dancing.

6) It was the dancing.

So yeah, I watched it tonight was embarrassed about how much I liked it when I was younger, especially by how inspired I was by it.

It’s still a good movie; but when watching it with someone young I have to keep saying “at the time” and that makes  me cringe (since we could watch “Clueless” without making so many caveats)

 

Amateur Super Heroics sometimes involve nightsticks

Kickass01-NoWaytoStart

This is no way to get things going if you are going to pick up Amateur Super Heroics.  In fact, I might suggest that this looks like total failure.  This is the climax of issue one of Kick Ass (soon to be a major motion picture in theaters from Lions’ Gate).  The basic plot isn’t really that much, no real motivations except heroics (maybe dead mommy issues) and the desire to do something.  The “real” world has a share of the “Duff Man” styled super heroes running around being fat in tights.  Kick Ass looks to say “those are the posers, this is what happens when you really want to do something”

Things improve for our protagonist by issue two:

Kickass02-Better

I can’t say I was really into Kick Ass when it first came out, I had a full plate of Invincible and other standard superheroes and “alternate superheroics” (The Boys, Black Summer, Etc) do read.  So when Kick Ass wasn’t right there for me to read, I missed a few issues and then forgot about it.    It was violent and gritty, but “The Boys” showed superheropes getting their orbits cracked by a little scottish Simon Pegg.  How could Kick Ass compete?  A Movie is a good start.

The Intro seems to mirror the first pages of the Comic and the extended trailers looks REALLY amazing and the clips convinced me of Nic Cages commitment to the material.  It looks like Kick Ass will be setting the “Violent as a Japanese Guro Horror” bar for 2010, but really, I hope it’s not just ridiculous violence like Machine Girl or Tokyo Gore Police.

Review: The Dark Knight was Rubbish when compared to District 9

If Sharlton Copley is not up for an Oscar for best actor this year I will be very disappointed.  Eric Bana deserved on for his jocular killer in Chopper, Russel Crowe deserved on for his steeley eyed racist in Romper Stomper and Edward Norton deserved on for his Nazi-sympathizing lead in American History X.

As “Wickers” (that’s how I heard it – it’s Wikus)  Sharlton plays the kind of casual racist who seldom gets to be front and center; a man so craven and cowardly that his old bold act is to proclaim that he loves his wife and that he thinks she is an angel.  He casually refers to the Aliens as “The Prawn” in much the same way a southern preacher might put forth “The Negro” circa 1844.  Wickers is weak, obsequious and in love with the limited authority being the boss’ son in law gives him.  He doesn’t appear to seek the lime-light, save for the appreciation of his superiors and as a career bureaucrat he would put Hermes Conrad to shame, going so far as to point out the contraband around him even as he is being helped by the very people he casually dismisses as lower than him.

It is this performance, a real, vivid and at times sympathetic performance around which District 9 is drawn.  The sweaty, craven center of an amazing film tootsie-pop.  He cows to criminals and is easily frightened by the (typical) bald headed psychopath [security officer] who [we learn later] is in it for the killing.    The effects are great, the Aliens alive and interesting and the action sequences are legitimate action sequences, especially the very first bit of surprise action, which I will endeavour not to spoil.

There are two scenes that shine, the first is when Wikus is alone and dealing with his lot in life, the desperation, the need to hide his troubles from his friends and family; the second is the “twist” moment when Wikus is faced with the hard realities of his life and his place in the world.  The entire theatre held their collective breath and my wife was stricken by it, the performance was that powerful, his pleading, his praying his wishes for it to be taken from him.  Breathtakingly real and authentic.

I would hazard to rate this the greatest movie of 2009; greater than any single movie that has arrived this year.   Please, do not pass on a chance to visit a theater and see this movie

Why nostalgia isn’t good for movies

tank-girl-ice-t
Ice-T in his "Pool" Role.

Sigh, yet another top ten list on Digg.  Every day another list.  Crappy Top Ten lists (except for cracked who seem to have a good handle on such things) are thick on the ground these days and getting thicker.  Why bother with a substantive article about 80s nostalgia and the vagaries of movie production when one can just list their favorite tv shows and say “wouldn’t it be cool if Ice-T played Snarf?”

If you missed it; Ice-T played a mutant kangaroo in “Tank Girl”, it’s not a stretch to put him in a Snarf suit.

Face it;  no cartoon you enjoyed as a child will ever be a great movie.

Some movie adaptions of cartoons can be “acceptable” (I’m looking at you GiJoe and Masters of the Universe) but they can easily slide into awful (you too GiJoe, Masters of the Universe and Transformers, Flintstones, Spiderman 3, Batman Forever, Catwoman, etc).

I imagine the reason for this is the same reason we can’t enjoy the same music universally because our individual tastes and cultural lenses are so unique.  When someone tries to interpret why a given concept was so good, their own biases and interpretations will inevitably change the subject to meet their own vision, ruining it for everyone else who “loves it” as much as they do.

Take for example the “Addams Family” excepting the cultural touchstones that were added to the modern movie interpretations, the spirit of the original subject matter remains the same.  The characters are fairly tight copies of the originals, the house is a bigger budget version of the original and while more fleshed out than the original material, there were no significant characterization changes made.

Compare this to “The Transformers”  the stoic warriors from Cybertron who crashed to earth during the cretaceous period and spent millions of years in metal hibernation only to resume their fight in the modern era are replaced with pod robots who are clumsy led by a robot from Cybertron who says “My Bad” and another robot who pees on people.

This is a quality remake?  No this is inevitable.  Michael Bay looked at the Transformers and saw an opportunity to make his Robot Buddy movie.  A metal Bad Boys.

Except Transformers isn’t about cops or drugs or LA cultural commentary; it’s about an ancient war for scarce resources on an alien planet fought by refugees. This is where any adaption for movies would fall apart except in the most skillful of hands, because if you catch my drift from before, my interpretation is probably inaccurate for the general public too.

In 10 years, someone will remake Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

If someone was to remake Harry Potter as a homosexual love triangle between Snape, Draco and Harry it would still sell tickets, regardless of its fidelity to the source material.  This is the state of media and storytelling.  There is almost always an audience, but it takes a deft touch to reach a plurality of that audience.  Even when that audience is made up of fans of the subject matter.

The Harry Potter movies may even be a great example of why Cartoon Movie Remakes are doomed to failure.  Harry Potter is (for the most part) the consistent vision of a single creator telling a continuous story.  Cartoons are (with few exceptions) the product of multiple creators over many years often facing competing visions and cultural pressures.  Even the venerable South Park has uneven storytelling and writing, with wildly vacillating moral mores.  If a cartoon that has creators and producers who are so committed can be so wildly uneven, how can a toy-driven cartoon like “Thundercats” ever hope to be captured as a widely accepted and even acclaimed live-action product?

Fans who came to a product later in life would have a much different view of it if the cultural norms that bore it were no longer remembered or relevant.  GiJoe may have been about an advanced fighting force against a faceless and aggressive terrorist force, but there was a none-to-subtle “USA” vs “Russia” element that hung around it.   The GiJoe comics gave Cobra a more American origin (making Cobra a domestic Terrorist organization led by a former salesman no less – how Postman).  This proved to be somewhat more challenging to put on film, the producers and writers opting for “The Cobra Origin Story” instead of any concrete discussion of the Joes and their purpose (hint, in the 80s the Joes were formed to combat Cobra, or not, depending on who was at the reigns that day)

Which brings me back to my initial point, while reading this you’ve been thinking that here and there I’ve misinterpreted something about one of the cartoons or TV shows I’ve been talking about.  Or more egregiously praised or condemned something that you feel was worthy of neither or both.  Which is the crux of my previous piece on music and this as well.  Appreciation of art or creative works is so subjective, one cannot hope to please a plurality of people without first rendering the subject so inoffensive or so bland so as to remove all unique qualities from it, unless of course the work itself IS unqiue.  Remakes, by their very nature cannot be unique and instead must be reduced to their base elements in order to (if you will excuse the term) hit all the targets at once.  Thus Transformers was “Names, Object labels and Basic story” and Gi-Joe is “The Origin of Cobra” and Masters of the Universe was “Set AFTER the cartoon when Skeletor has won” because faithful remakes are impossible and are avoided by the very people who make them.

Transformers was easy, at least GiJoe would be a challenge

I strongly disliked the Michael Bay “Transformers” movie.  So much so that I didn’t crack the DVD my Mother in Law got me for Xmas.   It’s sitting up on my Random Crap shelf with some tea lights and Mr. Skull.  I hated the way the source material was just “character names, object labels and places” then the rest was just drek.  G.i. Joe:Rise of Cobra may not be the Museum Quality reproduction of the source material that say “Sin City” was; but it’s no Wing Commander (AND I LIKED WING COMMANDER).

They do in fact toss out “Yo, Joe!” on occasion, there is some fist pumping when “good things” happen for the “good guys”.  The Joes are pretty much and inoffensive, well-armed and proactive UN NATO strike team (mostly staffed and led by Americans).  It loses the “American Hero” aspect but gains some credibility, in a “near future” world, post Iraq and Afghanistan, would NATO allow the Americans to concentrate and recruit the best and most quirky soldiers from their ranks?  Probably not, but from a secret base in a Torture friendly nation, sure!

I’m going to try and dance around the movie a bit; as I want to encourage at least one other G.i. Joe fan to see it before the week is out.  I’ll break it down like this; if you liked the Original Mummy and don’t mind a bunch of clunking dialog (“you said that knowing is half the battle”) then this movie is for you.  There’s a couple of really great fight scenes, a great car chase and the “accelerator suits” give some of the best acrobatic run and gun sequences in the movie (they made it awesome, haters)

The concept of how Cobra is coming to “rise” is fairly believable; having the backing of the worlds largest arms manufacturer.  No prizes for guessing his identity.  I walked into the movie knowing who would turn out to be Cobra Commander; but I have to admit that the movie threw me a rope-a-dope on the big reveal, the only early Cobra character left out of this movie was “Major Bludd” who I guess we’ll see in a later movie if this weekend goes well.

I’m struggling with how to portray this movie as a “good” movie without giving away the plot.  Everything that was set up by the general consensus as “this too will suck” really didn’t suck.  It was charming.  The plot is just a way to get from fight A to chase B and on to explosion C.  There are thudding lines like “you and what army?  My ARMY” cue giant vehicle and surrounding allies.   It’s hokey and obvious and that is why it is a positive thing.

This is a movie based upon an unabashed boys toy that was simply a series of flashy space-age weapons with ever-more outrageous features.  This movie accurately captures that idea, super weapons and overpowered soldiers slamming into each other for goals that are outrageous; but not overtly national in their scope.

I strongly recommend this movie; if only for the spectacle and I promise no urine or genital jokes at all.

If I was making a Modern Highschool Romantic Comedy…

I finally turned on the Genius Bar to make some playlists this weekend, it took ages to scan and can my collection; but in the end I was happy with the playlists it was creating based upon songs I picked in my library.  Driving home listening to one of these lists I wondered, if Wes Anderson had the Genius Bar, how would his soundtracks look?  Would Zach Braff’s “Garden State” sound the same?

Then I meandered away to; what if I was using the Genius Bar to make a movie soundtrack?  What would the movie be about?  I thought about it a bit and decided that I would like to see a movie where a Nerd Girl falls in love with the cool Librarian at her school, he’s a student and a nerd.  However; they are both ugly as boots and ostracized by the school population as a whole.  The only problem is that the guy, Library Boy (Aaron) has become so twisted that he is a total misanthrope and unlike Christan Slater in Heathers, isn’t cool and self-assured along with it.  Both of them are clumsy and awkward, but only Nerd Girl (Jilly) is capable of normal human interaction, Aaron having long given up on people.

Jilly tries to get Aaron to interact with her; taking on his interests (the ones she can figure out) and reaching out to him through his younger sister (who is almost as odd and withdrawn as Aaron, but not so much that she doesn’t appreciate a friendly person).  Through perseverance and understanding Jilly convinces Aaron to come to her house and just hang out.  While watching TV on the couch he leans over and kisses her, music swells its “Let Go” by Frou Frou, he breaks off the kiss says “There, are you satisfied?” and turns back to the TV.

Jilly settles back for a bit and considers the matter, ugly or not she has a great personality and she doesn’t need to settle or fix this kid.  She tells him that she’s had enough and asks him to leave, he says “fine” and takes off home.   Jilly gets off the couch, calls a girlfriend and they make plans for the nearest ComicCon,  Jilly meets a nice Pokemon cosplayer named Janice they hit it off, at the end of the ‘Con Janice takes off her cosplay head, they kiss “Let the Drummer Kick” by citizen cope plays over the camera pull away as Jilly narrates Aaron’s total withdrawal from society and her own happiness with Janice.  “You can’t predict when love is gonna drop on your head, but when it does don’t  jsut let is bounce off you thick skull. Okay?”

The whole movie is narrated by Aaron’s younger sister and she narrates Jilly watching Aaron during the opening with:”You can’t predict when love is gonna drop on your head; and sometimes when it does you need to just cover up and run away. Okay?”

So Here is the playlist the Genius Bar made around “Let Go” by Frou Frou.  Obviously not all these songs would end up in the movie; but couldn’t you see My Moon is My Man playing over a long “girl staring at guy” scene, maybe a montage of girls and guys staring at each other around differing settings?  Maybe “Le Disko” playing over the Comic Con?

I think the Genius Bar did a fairly Good Job here, Wes Anderson: your muse.

Let Go Frou Frou
Goodnight and Go Imogen Heap
Look What Youve Done Jet
Fallen Sarah McLachlan
Memory Sugarcult
My Moon My Man Feist
Ocean Breathes Salty Modest Mouse
New Slang The Shins
Time Is Running Out Muse
Le Disko Shiny Toy Guns
chocolate Snow Patrol
Breathe In Frou Frou
Headlock Imogen Heap
Don’t Panic Coldplay
Canned Heat Jamiroquai
Shimmy Shimmy Quarter Turn Hellogoodbye
An Honest Mistake The Bravery
dashboard modest mouse
Open Your Eyes Snow Patrol
Let The Drummer Kick Citizen Cope
Swing Life Away Rise Against
Everything You Want Vertical Horizon
Mushaboom Feist
Just A Ride Jem
Gold Lion Yeah Yeah Yeahs