So, it's that time of year again. The football game is over (Dallas lost.), the secondary pies (i.e. the weird or ugly pies) are being consumed, we've already taken our walk, it's started to snow, and we've run out of books to read and conversations to have.
Which means, it's time for the Thanksgiving Movie TEST!!! Below is a list of the movies my family might have enjoyed this weekend. See if you can guess who wanted to watch what. (Some names will be repeated and some will not be used.)
____1. SHAOLIN SOCCER (starring Stephen Chow)
____2. CON AIR (starring Nicholas Cage)
____3. THE ALAMO (starring Billy Bob)
____4. HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (starring Jim Carrey)
____5. DECIEVED (starring Goldie Hawn)
____6. CIRCQUE DU SOLEIL: VAREKAI (starring circus performers in strange costumes)
____7. BELLYDANCE TRAY BALANCING TECHNIQUE: QUEEN OF FLOWERS (starring Neon)
____8. HARRY POTTER IV (starring everybody)
B. Football loving Bro-in-law
C. Assorted Children aged 13 to 5
D. Big sister
E. Little sister
F. Your Mother
Bonus Points: Guess which movie/s we DIDN'T see!
Monday, November 28, 2005
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
This movie is a documentary about a man named Henry Darger. Mr. Darger was an orphan who was raised in various asylums and ended up retiring from a janitorial job he held since his adolescence. When he died they found his room filled with a 15,000 page novel, detailed notes about the novel, an autobiography, and over 300 paintings illustrating his story.
It's an astonishing amount of work and a really really good documentary. The director dosn't make decisions but instead shows you this imaginary realm from Darger's perspective. It's actually most amazing that they managed to assimilate such a mass of stuff into a movie that's not very long.
Anyway, it's mind-blowing, in the true sense of the term.
Monday, November 21, 2005
I can’t make fun of all the devoted fans who dressed up like Harry Potter with capes and scarves (I noticed the Britany Spears-Schoolgirl outfit hottie with the cape got more than a few “Hey Baby”s) since I too, stood in line. I went to the midnight viewing of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on Thursday (technically Friday a.m.), and considering all the aches and pains that suddenly crop up between 12:30 am and 3:00 am, I really liked this movie. I’d give it a 9. I liked it way better than HP3.
This film is surprisingly good.
I went to see it with a sort of resigned attitude. I didn't believe anyone could do a re-make after the exhausting mini-series version done by A&E a ten years ago.
And, really, it isn't as true to the book (that I'v probably read twice a year since I was eight years old) as the A& E. However, that dosn't stop this from being a beautiful lush film. The scenery and costuming alone manage to communicate the old-world aristocracy vs peasants battle inherant in the matching of Darcy and Elizabeth and then resolves them with the French Revolution, Rights of Man, triumph of the human spirit sort of thing. Which is cool. I was delighted and astonished to see how real everything looked in this film. So often Jane Austin assumed the reader would know what things looked like. The cinematography showed me an England I'v never seen. It's glorious and refreshing.
Darcy is very good, if much softer than the Darcy we're all used to. He's trying just as hard to break out of his class restrictions as Elizabeth is trying to transcend them. One thing to note, he's never seen on a horse after he notes that Elizabeth likes to walk a lot. They end up getting engaged in the early morning mist they had both been wandering through like a couple of Romantic poets.
Everyone else is good in this film as well, except for Keira Knightly who can't act or at least can't be bothered to because she's perfectly content to make her overbite-y "I'm gonna eat your face and laugh while I'm doing it" face. So, if she gets a "Best Actress" nomination from anyone I'll be really pissed. However, I do believe this film should garner all sorts of other nominations. It's a breathtaking new look at an old favorite.
Friday, November 18, 2005
This is another Dollar Store find. It needs to be seen to experience the horror of it all. Compared to this, Mariah Carry’s GLITTER was Fabulous.
I bought this movie about a year ago. As I was unpacking and sorting through my DVD’s I thought maybe I’d give this movie another try before I toss it out. Who knows, it might be a holiday classic.
Well, Tim Allen’s SANTA CLAUSE this is not. It’s not even as fun and campy as an “Addam’s Family Christmas” could possibly be. This Santa version is more like “Santa vs. the Devil- meets It’s a Small World” with some Music-Dance- Theater’s interpretive dance numbers and a whole lot of bad dubbing.
The first time I saw this movie was last year with the nieces and nephew, and we only lasted thru 10 minutes of it.
Here we were expecting a cheesy, feel-good Christmas movie, something along the lines of “miracle on 34th St” and instead what do we get? A long boring musical into where we meet kids from around the world, which somehow transitions into dancing demons in Hell. My response: What the, Oh, it is Hell. We were all horrified, and turned it off. I’m sure the kids had nightmares. I know I felt dirty.
So this time, armed with Gatorade and muscle relaxers, and the beginnings of a cold, it wasn’t as terrifying as I remembered. (Please note: sick =lacking in mental judgment. For example; I watched Cat Woman the last time I was sick, and kinda liked it) [see CATWOMAN]
The dancing and singing devils weren’t that bad, but their outfits were. They had shakespereare-esque poofy shorts and tights. How terrifying can demons be in poofy pants? They didn’t’ have codpieces, thank goodness (this is a children’s movie)
By the looks of things, I’d say this movie was made in the 50’s or maybe the 60’s, I really couldn’t’ tell. The sets, such as Santa’s castle had the sparse, space-age pre-MOD look to it. (Before the lovely avocado green, this was orange and white with woodwork cutouts.
The gist of the story is this; the dancing devil is sent to earth by Lucifer (after threatening him with the horrors of ice-cream if he fails, quite funny) to tempt kids to be bad and steal and to not believe in Santa. Santa finds out about this plan, and finds two kids that resist the devil’s temptations. He then gives them the gift of their dreams on Christmas.
For a while during the movie, I forgot all abut the devil, since we get to see Merlin a wizard who is locked away making magical things for Santa, such as the machine to see all the kids in the world, hear what they are saying, the crystal ball to see kid’s dreams, and much more.
There’s a dream sequence with another musical dance number, this time with a bunch of life-size dolls. These dolls come to life and dance around a little girl. The dolls have 2 faces, a happy one on the front and a sad face on the back. This would be OK, but for the big black bug eyes the size of saucers, which makes the whole thing a dark scary version of Cirque de Soleil. I was waiting for the little girl to wig out, but she never did. (That’s what I want for Christmas, a 2 faced scary life-sized doll)
Then it’s Christmas Eve, and Santa’s 4 wind-up toy reindeer pull his sleigh around to deliver toys the devil shows up again and tries to stop Santa, but his plans are foiled every time. In the end, the little girl gets a pretty doll and a little rich boy gets the love of his parents who both –after drinking a smoking cocktail – realized they have to go home and se their boy. I don’t’ know about you, but I didn’t’ know Santa handed out free drinks, but much less smoking fancy ones.
Overall, I’d give it a 3. It’s crazy. (Try it with Robotussin, it might be better.)
[for more information see : http://www.kgordonmurray.com/history.html or http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053241/ or http://www.austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2000-12-22/screens_video2.html ]
This is the weirdest movie I have ever seen. Really. It sort of has the Dr. Seuss charm but somehow it's diluted by the muted colors of the 1950's and the disturbing images of small boys being locked up and starving tortured musicians.
So, what's this thing about? It's about a boy who hates his piano teacher. The boy falls asleep and has a dream that the local plumber helps him, eventually, free his mother from the trap of the fanatical Dr. T. I found it strange that this movie has about 150 men, 200 small boys, and only one (1) woman -- the boy's mother who appears to be stoned out of her mind most of the time. There are lots and lots of musical numbers, most of which are a bit too long, but some of them (the orchestra in the dungeon and the dressing of Dr. T) are really delightful. Also featured is the best "danced fight" scene I'v ever seen outside of WEST SIDE STORY.
I don't know what to think, actually. Some of the academic things I'v read say that it's Dr. Seuss' take on nazism, w/ Dr. T representing Hitler (sans mustache), and the little boys and musicians being placed in piano concentration camp. Or, they say it's an advertising campaign for raising your children in a loving and open way, as opposed to the "shut up and do as I say" old-school theories. Or, I could just be a NAMBLA promotional video. I have no idea. It's just too weird for me.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Bonnie Hunt is a genius. So is Steve Martin. It's nice when child actors are good. Hillary Duff ruined this film. It's cute (definately one I'd recommend for my nieces and nephew to watch) but it has some weaknesses in directing. (If you aren't going to use a prop more than once, don't build it and don't make us look at it.) With a lot of kids, there is a lot going on, and that makes it hard to tell all the stories. However, they do a pretty good job. I'll probably go see CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN 2 when it comes out in theaters 'cause, well, I want to support Bonnie and Steve. However, if Miss Duff happens to be "gone to college" and conveniantly NOT in the second movie, I'll be a lot happier about things.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
I found Marlon Brando’s “One-Eyed Jacks” at Naudy’s favorite store, BigLots. I don’t know what sold me more, the words “The one and only film directed by Marlon Brando” of the selling price of just $1.00! Either way, I knew I had to buy this movie.
The jacket goes on to say (and I have to quote here so you can get the full picture) “Marlon Brando’s first and only directing venture, is a stirring western classic (more like classic Lifetime For Women, my personal favorite, “I Woke Up Pregnant” ) featuring breathtaking cinematography (Brando had his own personal lighting, which was perfect) and a magnificent musical score. (Hum.. interestingly not a mention of any awarding winning performances) Not only did Marlon Brando direct this motion picture masterpiece, lauded as Martin Scorsese’s favorite Western, But Brando also took on the premiere role of Rio, a man betrayed by Dad Longworth (Karl Malden), his one-time partner in crime. The desperadoe’s falling out occurs when Rio and Dad are out on the lam following a bank hold-up in Mexico. As they are running from the law, Dad takes the opportunity to escape with the stolen gold, leaving Rio in the lurch. Because of Dad’s desertion, Rio is apprehended and sent up the river to do hard time. Years later Rio gets out of the slammer and goes after his double-crossing ex-partner to get revenge. He located Dad in California and is outrages to learn that the former outlaw has become a powerful, affluent sheriff. Now, not only are the two men at odds with each other, but they are on opposite sides of the law as well. The stolen gold has made Dad wealthy, and he would like nothing better than to be rid of Rio for good. (Probably since Rio is now putting the moves on Dad’s hot stepdaughter) but Rio has an agenda of vengeance and is willing to do whatever is necessary to finally settle the score.”
The story is just a backdrop to watch Marlon Brando. Brando knows he’s hot. He made a movie just for all the women in the world who were in love with him. There’s lots of Marlon reclining in that sexy, relaxed “I’m hot, and I know you want me” pose. I laughed quite a bit at the buttons about to pop off the too tight shirt straining across the beginnings of Brando’s poochy belly. Which made Brando’s smoldering “I’m too sexy for my buttons” look more funny than revolting. But I’m sure there were women in theaters audiences across America swooning at the sight. Except for the parts when I was distracted by the unflattering tight shirt, I did appreciate the cameraman, who made Brando look fabulous the entire time.
The opening shot is of Marlon Brando sitting on top of a counter, with his legs crossed, lighting a cigarette or playing with a gun or something, it doesn’t really matter what he’s doing, you just know he’s really saying to the camera, “Hello there, How YOU do’n? My first thought was “what a dandy” and then my second was “his legs sure are crossed tight”. And I won’t venture further with that.
Brando does a wonderful job showing all the many different facial emotions. (He has ‘Sexpot” down great) The first “here’s my emotion face” is manic/crazed. I swear he looks exactly like Billy Zane from Titanic and The Phantom and better yet, Arnold Vosloo, the priest Imotep thing in Brandon Fraiser’s The Mummy movie.
The whole ‘revenge’ thing is there, but mostly to serve as fuel for the love-interest to beg and plead Brando with “don’t kill my father”. (This “Western” really is a cheesy love story, not a John Wayne testosterone-y Western) This story is a romance novel’s version of a “western” since Brando seduces Dad’s stepdaughter, who then gets pregnant. Brando has to leave town since the law is once again chasing him. He of course promises the girl he loves her and he’ll be back for her and the baby. There’s a lot of blah, blah, blah, but you get the drift.
The movie is set in Mexico, and it’s a good thing I know Spanish, since there’s a lot of Spanish going on and there’s no subtitles. The Spanish Brando speaks is actually pretty good, and so is his accent. (Brando’s voice on the other hand, is another matter. When he speaks, I just expect Italian or something mafia to come out of his mouth. But once I got over that, it wasn’t too bad.) The only thing that’s in Spanish that’s remotely important is when the hot stepdaughter comes back from spending the night with Brando on the beach, and her mom asks her if she ‘slept’ with him and this time she says yes. All the other times it’s the standard “nothing happened”. But if you ask her in Spanish, she can’t lie or something. Everyone will be able to figure out what’s going on even by all the dramatic over-acting. So once again, it’s a Lifetime for Women love story that has a 60’s cheesecake (no beef here) actor.
I’d give this an 3-5 in general for but an 8 just for the Brando “I’m so hot” cheese fest.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Tom Cruise is a big fat jerk. Spielberg can still make movies. Sound effects are cool. People, particullarly when they are trying to not be eaten by giant alien thingys, are not cool. Tim Robbins is a freaking genius. Alien reconnaisance is lousy. Growing mold soaked in blood is disturbing. The cinematography is mind-blowing. It's definately worth the dollar-fifty I paid to see it, and it was nice to be in the cheap theater 'cause I caught myself talking through it.
Mostly I was saying "What a jerk!" Tom Cruise = someone I want to punch in the mouth.
Ya gotta love any movie that has the tag line "Go Kick Some Grass!!!" Steven Chow, who now is famous for KUNG FU HUSTLE, made and starred in this great film. I liked this more than KUNG FU HUSTLE. SHAOLIN SOCCER is funnier, has less violence, fewer in-jokes, and sillier stunts. It also has a soccer club called Team Evil, the Praying Mantis form of kung fu, and drag queens, which is pretty much all I need in a film. Definately a DVD that's going on the Christmas list.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
It's nice to know that, as an actor, there's a certain time of life when no matter how old you are or how bad the movie is, your talent isn't questioned. Michael Caine is one of these grand old men. So is Robert Duval. On the otherhand, it's nice to know that we havn't had to see Haley Joel Osmont for the past three years because this movie actually was that bad. Haley was cute in SIXTH SENSE and he's not growing up to be as ugly as Macauly Culkin but he's definately no Dakota Fanning.
Anyway, all that aside, the real fault of this film is in the directing. The director/writer is Tim McCanlies, who adapted the book The Iron Giant for the criminally-undervalued film. (THE IRON GIANT is brillant! See it!) Often people try to put too much junk into one moment (see: Jim Carrey), one story (see: Robert Jordan), one film (see: SECONDHAND LIONS), one sentance (see: this one!). It reminds me of a kid I used to go to school with. Gabriel was a jazz pianist and could make up new melodies and riffs with almost every breath. We all thought it was cool. (I was particullarly jealous since I couldn't make up even ONE melody that didn't sound like something else. I still remember my sister telling me I couldn't use my - I thought - original melody on a class assignment 'cause it "sounds like the theme song to Tarzan.") My theory teacher, a jazz pianist himself, didn't think it was cool. He always told Gabe that is was messy, that there was too much junk in his music, and throwing ideas at people wasn't music, it was just throwing ideas. The real music comes from one idea, maybe two, and then building everything from there.
The same principle holds true with this movie. There are four or five themes, too many "cry now 'cause this is touching" moments, some ploddish humor, and way too many loose ends by the end of the movie. The real charm comes from Michael Caine and Robert Duval who are such professionals that all the moments the director didn't direct are full of the brilliance these men always bring to a performance.
So, what's the final verdict on the movie that wanted to be BIG FISH? Writers should maybe not direct, don't trust a child actor to always be good, and old Lions (of the Stage) just get better with age.
Monday, November 07, 2005
This movie makes me happy. David Bryne is the lead singer for The Talking Heads and narrator / country-western-suit-wearing observer of this movie about a typical Texas town during the sesqui- centennial. Since I grew up in a typical Texas town during the sesqui- centennial (look! I can spell sesqui- centennial!) it makes me happy. But, more than that, I love this movie because there is a lot of strange stuff and Mr. Bryne just observes it. There's never any lambasting or opinion or judgement, he just watches it all, nods his head, and drives on in his privately-owned red convertable.
Incidentally there are also some really great Talking Heads songs in this movie, as well as a fabulous John Goodman, the best fashion show -- EVER!!!, and a mojo man. If you watch there are subtle commentaries on race relations and class distinctions as well as economic breakdowns in typical Texas which I almost missed because they seem so normal to me. To Mr. Bryne, though, they're totally alien, and it's through his quiet accepting eyes we see how strange and familiar True Stories can be.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Improbable. Icky. Not nearly enough male nakedness. These are the three things which come to mind as I think about TRANSPORTER 2. The picture shown here is the moment right before the skanky girl shows us the underside of her tounge while licking our boy Frank's face. Seriously nasty. Which fits since this girl is also seriously nasty. She's supposed to be a homocidal psychopath but I just think she's poorly-dressed and improbable. She might be thin enough to conceal two silenced .45's under her kinky nurse's dress but she is way too thin to remain standing on her 6-inch heels while shooting with both of them. Of course it's okay since Jason Statham runs around a lot while she's shooting and since she dosn't have the muscle strength to shoot straight it works out fine. If her bullet spread looks anything like mine when I'm trying use a Glock 9mm I imagine she's really only doing a lot of damage to the floor to her left.
Also on the improbable front, Frank manages to get a bomb off the underside of his car by scraping it on a hook hanging mid-air, refuses to hit a girl (he kicks her instead), and dosn't sleep with the love interest. Also strange, since the movie is set/filmed in Miami, there is only one Latino shown on screen and he's the bad guy. We do, however, see a lot of Africian Americans, which I found interesting. And, considering the rest of the film's elements -- one ethnic-looking child to save, lots of kung-fu moves, pimped out dark cars, two small-breasted iconic women (one chaste sweet mother and one vicious homocidal whore), incidental Russians, and no brown people -- it makes me think that this film is designed for an Asian/European audience.
They can have it. If Mr. Statham had removed his shirt for at least 45 more seconds, I might protest a bit more but as things stand I expect this will do very well overseas.