From the category archives:

Movies

Update: I originally posted this in November 2009 but am digging it out again as it’s decent, no one remembers it and I didn’t have time to get anything fresh together for Halloween 2015. Do you like the vampire films? Then please read on – you may find one you’ve missed.

Up and coming comedian, Bo Burnham, made a joke via Twitter two days ago that has stuck with me and induced chuckles ever since.

@boburnham: i cannot wait to see the next instalment of twilight. apparently, the real weakness of vampires/werewolves is shirts.

shirtless-twilight-boysEdward & Jacob only thought they had their respective weaknesses figured out.

Transylvania 90210, as I’ve decided to refer to New Moon for our purposes, premieres tonight across the universe and has set ticket pre-sale records that have left Spiderman and Lucas in the dust. It’s easier for me to believe that Vampires actually exist than to get my head around the popularity of these books and movies. Yes, I watched Twilight. In between shots of Kristen Stewart biting her lower lip in angst there was some semblance of a vamp tale. For many young people (girls), however, this will be their introduction to the rich lore of the fanged ones and that’s a frightening thought.

As a potential remedy that no one will pay any attention to, here are my 5 favorite batty flicks, and I’m hoping the legions of Mullen and Black fans get around to watching them before being forever convinced that the undead won’t kill you if only you have a secret crush on them.


Jerry Dandridge makes Edward Mullen look like Louis Skolnick

5. Fright Night: Yes, that Fright Night. Second only to Road Warrior on my “films to rent for sleepovers in the 80s” list, if you haven’t revisited it since legwarmers were in style – do yourself a serious favor. Chris Sarandon was born to play the slick vampire that moves in next door to Charley, creating a Disturbia sort of surveillance situation that leads less towards house arrest anklets and more towards exploding heads. Currently being blessed/cursed with the remake treatment. Hopefully not starring Robert Pattinson.


Swedish Girl Guides sell those little red fish door-to-door. Then fucking kill you.

4. Let the Right One In: This incredibly well-conceived, original and terrifying pool scene is the tip of the iceberg. I hadn’t even heard of this movie (it’s a Swedish film released only last year) until I started thinking about this article last night. I quickly downloaded it and can see why it has garnered such a fast vamp-fan appreciation. Uber-violent Stockholm romance with lots of children thrown into the mix as a bit of a differentiator. As for the title, watch the above clip and see if you think the little boy might have possibly just let the “wrong” one in. Come on – the Swedes have had it easy for a long, long time. It’s nice to see some bloodsuckers thrown into their fish-eating midst.

High on the list of nightmare-inducing movie scenes from my childhood.

3. Salem’s Lot: This Stephen King-authored spookfest was originally a TV miniseries, so when you plop down in front of the DVD release you’ll know why it clocks in at a whopping 3 hours. Directed by Tobe Hooper of Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame and starring Hutch (David Soul) the parts are better than the whole. James Mason is excellent in one of his last roles and I double dog dare you to find a scarier vampire movie scene than this spectre of a boy scraping the pane with his undead little fingernails (shudder).


“Gimmie a couple shots of whatever donkey-piss you’re shoving down these cocksuckers’ throats.”

2. Near Dark: The most underrated and overlooked film on my short list came out in 1987 to minimal applause, but has since evolved into cult status and holds a place near the top of every other “best of vampire” film list you’ll be able to find. Bill Paxton had made Aliens only the year before, and a little bit of Hudson spills over into his likewise over-the-top (and likewise no less awesome for it) portrayal of Severen. In spite of his mullet, Lance Henrikson personifies evil as Hooker and the above scene might just inspire you to head down to your local, get drunk and start swinging. Or dismembering.

The absolute pinnacle of nightmare-inducing movie scenes from my childhood.

1. Nosferatu: My preadolescence was a worse place for having accidentally run across this absolutely horrifying movie on PBS one Sunday evening during my 6th year on Earth. I’d be dreading the dark long before the street lights came on as a result. My cowardice is somewhat vindicated, however, because Count Orlock is no less terrifying to this day. Not bad for a movie that’s barely a fang shy of 90 years old. Also excellent in its own right is the 2000 film Shadow of the Vampire which imagines made-up funny and frightening events during the filming of Nosferatu. Casting Willem Defoe as Orlock probably saved the production thousands on makeup.

These are my personal favorites when it comes to blood-suck-fests, so don’t burst a vein because I left off Horror of Dracula or Lost Boys. Turn your dark side into lemonade, or something, and list your own favorites in the comments below. Happy New Mooning.

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Is SPECTRE a Masterpiece?

by Dave on October 24, 2015

in Movies

Let’s conveniently ignore the fact this blog has been dead for the better part of half a decade and get right back into the swing of things. I’ve yet to read an even mildly skeptical review of the 24th James Bond film, SPECTRE, and so my Autumn is officially made. The RT rating is 84%, so obviously bad reviews exist – I’m just saying I haven’t read them. Read on, then, knowing full well that convenient ignorance is as much of a theme here then as tight bespoke suits, vodka-based cocktails and accented villains. And that I’m still likely to die alone.

spectre

The Guardian: “Bond is back and Daniel Craig is back in a terrifically exciting, spectacular, almost operatically delirious 007 adventure – endorsing intelligence work as old-fashioned derring-do and incidentally taking a stoutly pro-Snowden line against the creepy voyeur surveillance that undermines the rights of a free individual.” – Snowden can go fuck himself sideways, but otherwise this is an entirely enticing blurb.

Variety: “The indefatigable agent’s solution, and in turn the film’s, is to get stoically back to work almost as if if nothing had happened, and let the baggage emerge where it may. And while Daniel Craig’s reputation as the series’ sternest Bond stands intact when the ride — rumored to be his last — is over, his half-smile count is higher than usual.” There are better quotes in the Variety review, but I had to pick this one due solely to the inclusion of my favorite word in the English language (see if you can guess). – Personally I don’t mind at all if Idris Elba becomes the next Bond as long as they retain Sam Mendes. Although letting Craig get away would be a tragedy akin to the lovely Vespa drowning in Venice.

What Culture: “One of the most common quarters of praise among all reviews (even the negative ones) has been for the film’s opening shot, a 4-minute single-take tracking shot which sees Bond weaving his way through Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival in pursuit of an assailant. It’s been called “a typically explosive affair” and “an instant all-time greatest moment in the franchise”, with many reviewers agreeing that it contributes to making the pre-title sequence one of the series’ most thrilling.” – Hit the link to see “11 early reactions you need to know”. Shitty Buzzfeed-style headline aside, #7 (there are lots of nods/easter eggs to previous Bond films) excites me to no end. I love that stuff as has been evident in the distant past. I promise to put together a list of those I notice here after actually seeing it. And to maybe shower and leave my house next weekend.

I’ll break down now, as it’s only fair I include one of the few negative reviews that’s making the rounds: “Austin Powers-grade cliches abound. Here is the villain openly inviting Bond to his evil lair for some reason! Here is the villain monologuing his evil plan in detail! Here is the villain attempting to kill Bond in the most elaborate manner possible, instead of just shooting him in the face!” – Your first Bond film, eh? Did you expect him to retire and start teaching kindergarten? The last sentence says it all: “After 53 years and 24 films, is it too much to, ahem, exSpectre bit more?” – I hope you die horribly in a laser-related accident which also involves sharks.

It’s good to be back, if anyone’s still reading, and I look forward to discussing the latest entry in this beloved franchise in a couple weeks with all 3 of my imaginary readers.

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Considering yesterday’s unenthusiastic summer movie post – this is uncanny. I just learned, via JoBlo, that Raiders of the Lost Ark was released 30 years ago today. My 7-year-old self hasn’t been the same since.

raiders-artIf I were tasked (by someone who was incredibly bored and probably unemployed/smelling of pee) with selecting just one movie to represent my childhood – it would be Raiders. History has been kind to the film – it didn’t exactly get poor reviews on this day back in 1981 (It has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes), but it’s legacy has grown considerably. What began as little more than a fast-paced summer blockbuster (resulting from a Lucas/Spielberg collaboration dedicated to serials from the 1920s) is now heralded as a cinematic benchmark frequently selected by critics as one of the best movies of all time…

  • Just this past March a TV special put together by ABC News and People Magazing voted Raiders the best action movie of all time.
  • In 1998 the American Film Institute voted it #60 on their list of the 100 best American movies, evah. To give context it outranks Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction and Unforgiven. By a lot.
  • It’s #22 out of 250 on IMDB’s list of best flicks.

But forget about established critics and accredited film society thingys for a second. As part of my own personal tribute I’m going to share just a few foggy Raiders memories from my distant childhood:

  1. My father must have also been a huge fan of the film, because he took me to see it 7 times. It’s how we bonded. How we related to each other – and I have no complaints.
  2. I remember him asking his sister, my Aunt Susan, if after seeing it she thought it was appropriate for a 7-year-old. Her exact response was “Well, there’s a little bit of blood, but I think he’ll be alright.” Which brings me to the next memory…
  3. After the first time we saw it, I ran ahead of my father and checked the back seat of his car for mummies.
  4. My friend Adam and I spent countless hours trying to beat the tie-in Atari 2600 video game. 30 years later it is still frequently mentioned as one of the hardest games of all time.

  5. I’d jump at any chance to accompany my Mother to the grocery store in Manotick, Ontario as I was determined to collect each of the 100 Raiders trading cards. After consuming near-fatal quantities of nasty pink-colored gum sticks, I only ever got 99 of them. The elusive card? That bastard, Belloq. And I still have all 99 in a photo album for which I actually won a Boy Scouts “collector’s” badge a couple years later.
  6. My grandmother gave me an Indy action figure during one of her visits, that had a spring-loaded arm which would crack a little cloth whip. I still have it.
  7. One of our neighbors, Terry (whom many years later I would end up working for in England) claimed he knew a guy who had a bootleg VHS copy and if we could organize $100 and two VCRs for the dub I could get one of my very own. Needless to say, he lived to regret telling me that. I don’t think the word “haunting” covers it.
  8. We bought the soundtrack on LP, which I then transferred to cassette, which then became the soundtrack of many backyard adventures, blasted via carefully-balanced ghetto blaster through my bedroom window.
  9. I remember friends and I acting out so many “takes” of the famous swordfight scene that David Fincher and Stanley Kubrick would have said in unison, “Enough already, kid. We got the shot.”
  10. Due to a glaring lack of actual Indy toys in the marketplace, Star Wars stormtroopers and Cobra soldiers frequently stood in for Hovitos, Thuggees and Nazis.
  11. I learned what a Nazi was.

Toht-meltingIf we forget our history we are doomed to repeat it. So in honor of this magnificent anniversary, take time out today and force a 7-year old child to sit through Raiders of the Lost Ark. And don’t let them close their eyes at the end, either. The children are our future, so teach them well and let them watch melting Nazis. Happy birthday, Dr. Jones.

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Today is the first day of summer and I’m normally geeking out with anticipation over at least one upcoming movie (or seven) by now. This year is definitely different though. I really couldn’t give a flying frick about any of them – and that’s not a good feeling. It makes me long for the summers of my childhood when there’d only ever be one or two huge movies released. I blame CGI for the big-budget overload every year. And Jar-Jar Binks.

It’s a weak, weak year for the summer flick. With only two possible exceptions, as I see it. The first is the reboot of Conan the Barbarian out on August 19th and creatively entitled, “Conan”. When I heard about it a year or so ago, and found out Jason Momoa would play the title role, I was unimpressed. After seeing Momoa on Game of Thrones, however, I warmed up to the idea. After seeing the red-band trailer which was released a few days ago – I take it all back.

The second is Cowboys and Aliens. I dig Daniel Craig and love Jon Favreau as both an actor and a director. The real reason I’m amped to see the movie, however, is that there’s a direct link back to my summer movie nirvana of yesteryear to consider – Mr. Harry Ford. He’s playing a villain but I will take what I can get in these strange, digitally enhanced times.

Cowboys and AliensThor was a good flick, but its release date on May 6th makes it a stretch for inclusion as part of the season. It’s also unbelievably difficult to get excited about superhero movies anymore. It’s like the little boy who cried “wolf”, but instead of warning villagers about an impending attack by a lycanthrope – he’s just standing up there on the hill beside pastures full of tasty sheep yelling, “Superhero movie! Um, superhero movie! Superhero movie?” The villagers quickly learn that the little jerk is full of shit, possibly autistic, and then stop listening.

The little guy just keeps on screaming: Thor, X-Men, Green Lantern, Captain America – and that’s just this summer. Over the next 2 years we can look forward to no less than a half-hundred-dozen additional Marvel/DC/etc. properties hitting the big screen – Deadpool. Ant Man, another Kickass, another Batman, un autre Spiderman, an additional Superman, one more Wolverine – but in terms of anticipation the queen mother of them all is undoubtedly The Avengers which is due for release on May 4th, 2012. That kid who’s supposed to be watching the sheep is going to be a little horse. I wonder if he also knows a little german?

 

So, yeah – Hollywood’s current summer movie output is completely overwhelming. This year alone there are about 20 big-budget potential blockbusters shipping in a 4-month period. We have all of the aforementioned plus Harry Potter, Planet of the Apes, Mr. Popper’s Penguins,  Smurfs, Transformers… and I wouldn’t cross the street to see any of them. What about you – seen anything good so far?

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Let’s Immortalize RoboCop

by Dave on March 3, 2011

in Movies

There’s always time during a busy day to help endorse a proposed plan to build a statue memorializing the main character of an uber-violent sci-fi movie I saw in a theater my Dad snuck me into in 1987. Always.

This video starring the law-enforcing cyborg himself, Peter Weller, is a slap-happy, nutty goof. The proposed plan to build a statue of RoboCop somewhere in downtown Detroit (where the truly awesome film and it’s far less awesome sequel are set) is not. Initially the Mayor said “no”. Then a surprising number of citizens countered with a resounding “yes”. Then a local businessman took it upon himself to raise $50,000 fricking dollars to see Officer Murphy’s titanium-encased remains immortalized for all time.

With both a healthy budget and positive public opinion behind the idea, which apparently started as a silly-natured Tweet, it’s not up to Mayor Bing anymore. But let’s get back to that businessman for a moment. I’ve since learned via his website, which just happens to be named after the evil corporation which first funds but eventually tries to kill Robocop in the film, that it isn’t his first foray into movie tie-ins.

”What did you do, Ray?!” – Dr. Peter Venkman

Also in Omni’s repertoire of phony products from movies made into the real thing for real world consumers?:

  • Stay Puft Marshmallows from Ghostbusters. Try not to think about them when facing a Gatekeeper of Gozer.
  • Brawndo Energy Drink from Mike Judge’s unsung Idiocracy.
  • Tru Blood beverage from HBO’s True Blood. In case that wasn’t abundantly clear.
  • Sex Panther cologne made famous, of course, by Mr. Brian Fantana in the modern comedy classic, Anchorman.

At first glance, raising money to build a statue of Robocop seems like Pete Hottelet’s nerdtastic labor of love. As I’m sure you’ve realized by now it’s also a brilliant viral marketing scheme. This probably isn’t the first you’ve heard of the statue – it’s been getting a ton of press over the last few weeks and I hope it happens. Because you can’t deny that fact that this actual prototype exudes class…

robocop-statue
"Sign the petition or there’ll be… trouble."

It’s breathtaking, and I’d definitely buy that for a dollar. Though I can’t picture something like this happening in too many other cities – take Boston, for example. No matter how enthusiastically people tried to sell it to the population as “art” it would fly about as far as one of those bronze ducklings. But we’re talking about Detroit here. A place where statues of fictional robotic peace officers, lesser-known Norwegian superheroes and maybe even one (possibly all four) of the Teletubbies will almost certainly raise property values. I don’t have anything against Detroit… I’ve just seen pictures. And that picture was 8 Mile.

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I’m Calling Kutcherbusters

by Dave on February 22, 2011

in Movies,Nerdery

Friends, Romans, countrymen. Listen to me very carefully. I was just directed towards a truly awful rumor by my favorite movie blog. Are you sitting down? I mean it. Take a seat, a deep breath and possibly a Xanax before reading any further.

Rumors of Ghostbusters 3 have been as persistent as rumors about the existence of actual ghosts. And now there’s evidence for an even scarier notion: Ashton Kutcher playing one of the leads.

We, as rational human beings and children of the 80s, can never let this happen. Never. Now, I’m not a radical, a bra-burner or one prone to protest. Until my mid-twenties, I thought that “activism” was the company who brought us Pitfall and River Raid. But I’ve got a petition on the brain. Petitions got Betty White on SNL, Jonathan Winters exposed to a new generation of unworthy fans and they can do wonders for a third ancient and long-suffering throwback – the Ghostbusters franchise. And by “do wonders” I of course mean “keep an already risky venture from becoming a guaranteed cinematic disaster the likes of Ishtar or Howard the Duck”.

Editor’s Note: I am a fan of both Ishtar and Howard the Duck. That doesn’t change the fact they shat the bed at the box office and are readily accepted by sheep who’ve never seen them as two of the worst movies of all time. Back to our regularly scheduled nerdery…

kutcherbustersI’m not going to try and act cool or pretend I’m kidding anyone who knows me. I’d love to see a new Ghostbusters film and I’ve even written about it before. It’s going to happen, with or without Bill Murray, and I do not want to see it fail. According to IMDB, some returning stars are already confirmed (Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis) and there are rumors of several exciting new additions (Bill Hader, Anna Faris). And, even though I’m disgusted, concerned and hyperventilating as a result of his Kutcher-related comments in the video above (as playful as they may have seemed), original director Ivan Reitman seems gung-ho for a return to Ghostly glory.

Mr. Reitman, please. Kutcher’s already demonstrated a penchant for dating marrying women dramatically older than himself. Don’t encourage him to whip out his proton pack and take it one sick step further. Busting ghosts might lead to banging them.

I’ll be watching this production carefully, folks. So you don’t have to. Because you have lives. Stay tuned for what might be my biggest topical dork-fest since the leadup to summer 2008’s return of a certain archaeologist. Dare to dream. Alone in bed.

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Nice to see you again, little Quizzlet. It’s been far too long. I’m making up my own questions this week. They’re deliberately crafted so I can cover a few topics on my mind which might not deserve an entire post. Please take a silly stab at them yourselves in the comments.

dave-kenzieAppetizer: How does it feel to be an Uncle?
Feel free to now think to yourselves, “Wait, THIS doesn’t deserve its own post, jerktard?” Relax. There’s no doubt in my mind that wee Bonnie Mackenzie will feature as prominently on my blog as she will in my life. I’m driving to Jay Peak this very afternoon for a little skiing and a whole whackload of doting. My camera is charging and you’ll be sorry that thought ever crossed your mind when you’re assailed by at least 7 baby videos on Monday. Oh for shame.

Soup: What movie should win the Oscar for Best Picture on the 27th?
I’ve now seen all the nominees except Toy Story 3. I bought it for my friend Mary’s kids but have heard it’s rude to open and watch a DVD before giving it to a child for Christmas. Regardless, at this time in our conversation I feel comfortable giving you my one/two-sentence opinions on the other 9 nominees in descending order of adoration:

  1. The Fighter: I loved this movie, can’t wait to see it again and sincerely hope that it wins. If you haven’t seen this yet, ask yourself, “why?” and then ‘speedbag’ your own breasts/ballsac.
  2. True Grit: I already knew every line of the original 1969 version but the Coens, Jeff Bridges and especially Hailee Steinfeld put thoroughly re-watchable (I’ve now seen it 3 times) fresh spins on the source novel.
  3. Winter’s Bone: The world desperately needed a redneck meth mystery and this one cooked up real good.
  4. The King’s Speech: The cast and director of my predicted winner did this amazing script proud while shedding light on a fascinating royal who’s been all but forgotten by history.
  5. Black Swan: No desire to see it again, didn’t exactly cry when it was over (although I did feel like taking a shower) but Portman deserves the nod for Best Actress.
  6. Inception: Definitely deserves the Oscar for Best Special Effects in a year full of standouts (ahem, Tron) but as a whole this embarrassingly overrated movie bored me. Shouldn’t be nominated in this category.
  7. The Social Network: Enjoyed Fincher’s work here as I always do – but I’m  tired of hearing about this flick and want it to go away.
  8. 127 Hours: Boyle and Franco made an impressive team but in a year already full of worthy contenders this nomination reeks of silly overstuffing as it has no chance of winning.
  9. The Kids are All Right: Gotta call it like I see it here – not that remarkable a film and more overstuffing directly related to Hollywood’s gay marriage fascination popular social themes. 

A quick note on what isn’t on the Academy’s list – I’m definitely not the only person who thinks that at least a couple of films on the above list should have been replaced with The Town. Affleck’s a bit of a douche but he’s definitely coming into his own behind the camera.

Salad: Did Gervais go too far at the Golden Globes?
Are you kidding, Quizzlet? He made watchable an obligatory, self-serving circle-jerk designed to appeal to the foreign press. Next year hold it in fucking Brussels. Any Hollywood heavyweight who shows up for an award show where The Tourist was nominated for best picture with a straight face deserves whatever Ricky dishes out. He’s one of the funniest humans alive and I have been a huge fan of his for over a decade now. Watch him tear Tinseltown’s elite a new one below…

Main Course: Which weekly TV series are you currently geeking-out over?
Glad you asked, Quizzlet. Season 2 of Justified starring Seth Bullock Timothy Olyphant started this week and rest assured that’s a very good thing. Better yet, grab yourself a jar of apple pie flavored moonshine and sit your damn self down in front of the TV next Wednesday at 10pm. But it’s not all redneck’s n’ roses – while one of my favorite new FX series got renewed, the woefully under-watched and underappreciated Terriers didn’t make it off the beach.

Time’s James Poniewozik ranked Terriers at #10 on his Top 10 List of television shows in 2010. The Daily Beast’s Jace Lacob selected the show as part of his top 10 shows of 2010. HitFix.com’s Alan Sepinwall ranked Terriers at #3 on his top 10 list for 2010 as well as #1 on his list of best new shows of 2010. The AV Club ranked it as their number 7 show of the year.

There’s no doubt in my mind FX knows how to market a new show. If I see one more promo for Lights Out or Archer I’ll probably start watching them (who am I kidding – I already do. FX shows rule). I think the network underestimated Terriers and the resulting lack of faith was reflected in the minimal advertising campaign. If there’s any good news, it’s that Terriers had a recurring plot arc which ran in one form or another through the entire 13 episode lifespan. That, coupled with the optimistic and open-ended finale, will make it quite enjoyable as a stand alone season. Seek out a torrent (shhh!) and I’ll post a link to the DVD if and when it’s released. Check out the awesome, cheeky little theme song below. We hardly knew ye.

Dessert: What is the airspeed velocity of a European swallow?
Enough already, Quizzlet. I have some work to finish up and still have to drive to Vermont today. I’ll see all you fresh-faced kids next week.

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Best & Worst Indiana Jones Costumes

by Dave on October 30, 2010

in Movies,Nerdery

imageI’m dusting off the fedora tonight for a Halloween costume which has evolved and improved considerably since the first time I decided to dress up as Indiana Jones 3 years ago. Granted, I took last year off in favor of a Predator costume – which just so happened to win first prize – but you can’t be Dr. Jones all the time. That would be exhausting. In addition to incredibly sad.

My 2010 additions include: Replicas of the Staff of Ra headpiece, the Hovitos fertility idol and a Sankara Stone all tucked neatly, and extremely heavily, away in a MK2 WW2 gas mask bag just like the one Jr. wears in the classic films. It should be noted that nowhere in said bag does there exist a female date for tonight’s party. Perhaps that didn’t need notation.

I think that if you up the ante considerably with improvements to a “timeless” costume the way I like to with my Indy ensemble it’s OK to wear it every other year or so. If you’re a Halloweenie who likes to stay trendy and in-the-moment, you can go join the undoubtedly enormous group of folks who’ll be dressing up as Snooki and Pauly D. this year. And then fist-pump yourself betwixt the buttocks.

My costume is pretty tight – I mean that in both senses of the word – but I’m not the first, best or worst to have ever donned this adventurer’s gay apparel. I was able to find a few individuals who could, however, rank well at both ends of the spectrum. See if you can tell which is which.

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Doing Indiana Proud
Indiana John” founded a great website for the true enthusiast which not only discusses the actual movie props/costumes in great historical detail, but also helps everyday movie-nerds such as myself get their hands on said sacred stuff. His personal costume has the whole look nailed, from the dark brown color of the jacket right on down to the slightly too-high pant legs. I wanna Halloween party with this guy. Just not on one of the years I’m wearing my own walking tribute.

 

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Pleats Release Me
There’s more than a few things glaringly wrong here – the least of which might be the Medic Alert bracelet. Trying to picture a Nazi standing over anyone announcing, “Give him some air – he’s an epileptic!” … just takes me right out of the mood. And the pleats in the wrinkly pants make me think that one of the red dot stops on this guy’s iconic Indy movie map must have been a T.J. Maxx “irregular” bin. Know your history, Mr. George Clooney look-alike, or you’re doomed to repeat it.

 

image

Something, Something… we Have a Problem
Were this meant to be a Matt Houston costume he’d have my vote for first prize. If Indy had ever been scripted as nipple-tortured by a nymphomaniac member of the Guardian Angels – again I’d be a huge proponent of this guy. As it stands, do your fucking shirt up.

 

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A Royal Raider
It looks like Prince Charles decided to complement son Harry’s recent Nazi costume with a little Jones of his own. And look – he finally found a use for that plastic belt he hadn’t worn since 8th grade graduation. I don’t know if that’s makeup on his face or if he was brutally battered on his way in from the parking lot. What I do know is that part of a good Indy costume should be the ability to fight off Girl Guides. Not my favorite example but at least he’s standing next to a sexy Thundercat which is more than I’ll be able to claim.

Play safe this evening, folks, unlike I did a year ago tonight when I totalled my car on the way home from the aforementioned costume-contest victory. Somehow that $25 gift certificate ceased to seem quite as cool when I woke up and saw my mangled whip in the cold light of day. It’s a lot easier to navigate when you’re wearing a fedora as opposed to a giant rubber Predator mask, so I’ve got that going for me in 2010. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Somewhere the ghost of Steve McQueen was surely thinking, “A little late on the brakes, kid.” And also very likely, “You’re going to die alone, nerd”. Happy Halloween!

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In Praise of Predators

by Dave on July 22, 2010

in Movies

predators-adrian-brody Reactions to this movie have definitely been mixed. I’ve read as many glowing reviews as I have negative. Personally I was very happy with Predators and especially enjoyed the many subtle ways in which it paid homage to the 1987 original. Truth be told, sometimes the nods were about as subtle as “Ol’ Painless” – but I’ll try to cover as many of them as I noticed rather than write yet another opinion piece.

Before I get into the list, which I’m having real trouble naming (“Predator vs. Predators”? “Nods to Predator within Predators”? “I am a Sad Bastard who Needs More Sunlight”? , I feel I should mention how and why this movie got made – and who was the driving force behind it.

Robert Rodriguez, of El Mariachi and Grindhouse fame, is a huge fan of the first instalment and rumor has it was working on his own script for a sequel as early as 1992. He never lost his zeal for the franchise and although he didn’t direct Predators, he produced it and I’ve read that many, many elements of his original idea for the sequel remain intact.

predators-sights“Guys, you seem to have me at a loss here. Anyone seen The Pianist?

Nods to Predator within Predators

  • The jungle setting: Obviously. It’s an alien jungle with some pretty freaky fauna but thick and dense all the same. You’ll notice many shots (light tricking down in streams, people scuttling off leaf-covered dirt hills, etc.) pulled directly from the first movie.
  • The firepower: It ain’t “Ol’ Painless”, and Nikolai ain’t Blaine, but the Russian mercenary has his very own strap-on minigun. “I ain’t got time to bleed.” “Do you have time to sample some of my nana’s borscht?” Also, the tiny twin machine guns carried by Danny Trejo’s character, Chuchillo, are almost identical to the one Dillon was rocking when his arm was sliced off in Predator. I saw Happy Gilmore again recently – what is it with Carl Weathers and losing limbs to creatures with scales?
  • The stand-offish, yawnsville, Latina pseudo-love interest: I’ll always think of her as “the chick from City of God”, but Alice Braga is a passable replacement for Anna – and is a much better shot. Incidentally, her character’s name in I am Legend was… Anna. Fate, perhaps.
  • The waterfall: In the original, Arnold goes over a massive, beautiful waterfall while trying to outrun the monster. In Predators, everyone goes flying off of one. Even though it’s now done with CGI as opposed to an actual stuntman – the camera follows them over and it looks really cool.
  • The mud: Just like Dutch did, Royce (Adrien Brody) covers himself in mud to foil the Predator’s heat-seeking visor. This isn’t an accident. Instead it’s the most direct tip-of-the hat to the first film you’ll see – but divulging more and that point would definitely cross over into spoiler territory.
  • The booby traps: The lethal creations made out of wood, vines, massive stumps and sharpened sticks are a lot more elaborate this time. They’re almost all cobbled together by the self-described “one who got away”, Noland, played to absolute batshit crazy perfection by Lawrence Fishburne. The last time Larry was in a jungle this thick he was helping guide Martin Sheen down a Vietnamese river to kill Marlon Brando.
  • The showdown with a sword: In Predator, Billy strips down, pulls out a giant machete and dares the alien to throw down Indian-style to help the others escape. In Predators the blade of choice is a Samurai katana wielded by Yakuza enforcer Hanzo – to a slightly better result then poor William.
  • Intergalactic taunting: “I’m here! Kill me I’m here!” sounds a little better with an Austrian accent, but Brody too belittles the beast to lure it into a pungee trap, or something.
  • Celebrity Impressions: The first Predator loved to impersonate Sonny Langston’s booming laugh and him saying “over here”. Our new friends do exactly the same thing but seem to have now mastered the dulcet tones of Trejo. See the video below for the great scene I’m referencing before YouTube makes someone take it down. Fuck a trailer.

It’s been a week now since I saw the movie and I also have to get back to my real job. What have I forgotten about? What have I missed? Please let me know in the comments and I’ll gladly update the list.

All of these little tributes to the source material may leave you wondering, homage is toomage? (I was conflicted as to whether or not I should make that joke, but I finally decided to pull the minigun trigger. No regrets). I think most fans, however, will relish them as Rodriguez obviously does.

predators-nikolaiSuddenly, a foxhole in Chechnya seemed a lot more appealing

You may ask yourself, where does 1990’s Predator 2 fit in to all of this? I didn’t hate it, but I’m not sure it will ever fit comfortable into the timeline. It featured 2 more big action stars of the era – Danny Glover and Gary Busey – and was a big budget, big city shoot-em-up where our alien friends descended on an urban environment (just another jungle, wink) to vivisect as many Rastafarian drug lords as they could get their three-pronged fist knife thingys through. It could have very well been called “Lethal Point Predator Break Weapon” and I’ll always remember it for being sampled heavily on Ice Cube’s album from a year or so later entitled, you guessed it, “The Predator”.

“Who is that?”
”Last person in the world you wanna fuck with.”

predators-nikolai-ol-painless I wonder how many copies of that record Adam Baldwin bought back in the day? He probably had a trunk full of CDs to give away to his buddies at parties. “I was sampled by Ice Cube, dudes!” Actually, upon closer IMDB inspection I now realize he was 30 when Predator 2 was made, where as I was 18. I’m obviously living out my own little sampled-by-Cube fantasy through him. So, what’s my excuse now that I’m 36 and writing this? Let’s wrap this up…

If you’re looking for a standard review you can see about a hundred of them over at Rotten Tomatoes which gives it an average rating of 63%. That doesn’t sound too impressive, but if you’re familiar with RT you’ll know that’s a pretty good showing. If you dug Dutch and the boys in the original as much as I did, and were as discouraged by the silly Alien vs. Predators afterbirth, you can’t go wrong here. So go on. Run. Get to the chopper. If only to take you to the theater.

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Praising the Unthinkable

by Dave on May 28, 2010

in Movies,Politics

unthinkable-movie-poster When considering all the embarrassing and damnable schlock that ends up on $10-per-head theater screens each and every last one of a given year’s 52 weeks (to the point parents end up having to take out payday loans on the web to keep their kids in Pixar flicks)  I find it tragic when a film of merit ends up banished straight to DVD. The term itself is a condemnation. In the minds of, well, everyone, “Straight to DVD” is actually longhand for “crap”. I was reminded recently that this is not always the case.

It may instead be politics or lack of a studio’s faith in a film’s potential profitability that sees a quality flick cast into the sin bin. It’s big business, after all. I think in the case of 2010’s Unthinkable it was a combination of both. After weighing the options surrounding public political opinion, a million dollar marketing budget and the difficult subject matter – I can’t say the powers that be made a bad business decision. So many will miss this smart, extremely well-written (save for some obligatory explication-type military dialogue), well-acted, gory and thrilling… thriller. Perhaps I can remedy that for a few of you. And if you’re not yet convinced – Superman’s in it too!

We need a synopsis here, but I’ll keep it quick and spoiler-free. Watch the trailer above for more of the the major bulletpoints. An Iowa-born American, ex-military, sends out a video claiming he’s placed nuclear bombs in three major cities set to go off in three days. All the agencies spring into action and converge on a high school gym where Younger a.k.a. “Yousef” is being held and interrogated. Samuel L. Jackson, Carrie Ann Moss and Michael Sheen earn their paychecks. A mysterious professional fingernail-puller, played convincingly by Mr. Jackson, is added to the mix and everyone begins to butt heads. Here’s an example of an exchange which I’m blatantly inventing – but it’s still pretty accurate:

“Don’t torture him! It’s bad. Take the bag off his head, Mr. Abu Ghraib. We’re human beings and Americans. We’re above this barbaric, medieval practice. What’s next – black plague and a jousting tournament?”

Actually, there’s going to be about 10 million less Americans able to stand around, patting themselves on the back like you’re doing right now if we don’t get this traitorous, bearded whackadoo to tell us where the 3 bombs are in the next 72 hours. So there’s that, Garafalo.”

And… scene. That dynamic is the crux of what I love about this movie. The peacenik FBI agent is horrified that any kind of interrogation is happening, let alone the creative style that Jackson’s “H” brings to the gymnasium. But we also see H as a family man, loving father and generally likeable guy who honestly believes he is doing his duty for God and country. So who is right and who is wrong? To what ends is it reasonable to travel to save lives before we lower ourselves to the level of a terrorist. And is it appropriate for one gym full of people to get to decide for 10 million oblivious citizens who are also one step away from becoming radioactive dust?

unthinkable-movie-2010 The great vengeance and furious anger of Uncle Sam

I mentioned the quality of the writing before and Peter Woodward (son of Edward “The Equalizer”) has crafted a story which bucks the political drivel we’re used to being spoonfed by Hollywood and will cause you to have to think hard about how much is too much. Alternately, if you enjoy being spoonfed might I suggest Matt Damon in Green Zone which deserves to have a sin bin all to itself – which is then steam rolled like a pile of post-Pope picture tearing Sinead O’Connor DVDs. And then doused in kerosene. And then set ablaze. With Matt Damon strapped down, also inside of the bin. So yeah, really fucking hated Green Zone.

I implore you to seek the Unthinkable out and watch it. Watch it all the way through until the last second before the credits roll. You may find your usual moral high ground highly unstable in those final moments. It’s a smart, engaging and challenging film which deserves a wider audience. And thus ends my popcorn Jihad.

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Repo Men: Uber-Violent Sci-Fi Smorgasbord

by Dave on March 30, 2010

in Movies

repo-men-poster

"For a price, any organ in your body can be replaced. But it can also be repossessed."

I’m starting to like Jude Law more and more these days, and it’s not because I’m taking a cue from yesterday’s announcement by Ricky Martin. Maybe it was his hilarious turn on Saturday Night Live earlier this month. Might have been my recent re-appreciation for Cold Mountain. Could be his breathtaking buttocks – I’m not sure. Where was I… Jude, Forrest Whitaker and Liev Schreiber lead the cast of Repo Men – a decent sci-fi action flick unapologetically cobbled together from memories of far superior works.

I’ll clarify that statement in a way which the most distinguished of laymen will appreciate: If the reanimated corpse of Phillip K. Dick somehow managed to impregnate itself using a turkey baster found in James Cameron’s curbside trashcan, the resulting butt-baby would be Repo Men’s second cousin. It’s like Blade Runner, Children of Men and The Harvest were dropped in a blender with a cow liver repossessed from a failing Denny’s. You know what… I’m going to stop right there before this gets silly.

“The Union” is a company which manufactures artificial organs and other body parts which are then sold to the everyman at extortionate prices. “You owe it to your family. You owe it to yourself” is a popular sales phrase. If you fall more than 90 days behind in your payments, said organ is usually repossessed by Union employees (ex-soldiers, tough guys and general scumbags) who come to your house in the middle of the night and literally cut it out of you. If the part was vital – say a heart – you’re left on the floor to die. This is all, apparently, perfectly legal in this vision of the future. The head Repossessor, Remy (Jude Law), leads the charge and from the number of pink slips (commissions) he and his partner, Jake (Whitaker), collect you’d think them both very wealthy men in no danger of disillusionment.

“Hey Jude. Don’t be afraid. Ever seen The Crying Game?”

Inevitably it all goes kidney-shaped as these plots tend to do and square-jawed Jude ends up on the wrong side of the scalpel. Despite several offers from his employers he seems intent on changing his ways and, in doing so, getting himself into a whole heap of trouble. Is it for love? Conviction? Because he read Who Moved my Cheese? To be honest I have no bloody idea. And, on the subject of bloody, you might as well throw a laserdisc copy of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre into the aforementioned blender too – because this flick makes Tobe Hooper look like Hans Christian Anderson.

Law’s motivation for throwing off the Union’s yolk, hanging up his taser and risking life and limb for his fellow debtors isn’t very clear unless you’re paying close attention. He makes a fast 180 – from repo/killing machine into blubbering sissy who can’t even make the first incision – in seconds. Potential spoiler: did the electric shock whack his morals back into place or is he raging against the Union because not only did they force one of their hearts into him, it was their faulty equipment that made the transplant necessary in the first place? The defibrillator-related plot twist at the end doesn’t help because it’s new information that couldn’t have affected his earlier motives. Actually, maybe simply paying attention isn’t going to help you here.

judelaw_repomen“What’s my motivation?” Deleted scenes shouldn’t always be so.

I also wasn’t on board with the speed in which he went from being the company’s #1 Repo Man to just another “job”. It’s literally minutes. He’s the employee to which all others aspire and then suddenly, in the space of a few edits, he’s suddenly broke, almost 90 days behind in his heart payments and about to be rubbed out by all of his best friends. I expect this movie was edited for time and momentum because it felt like necessary narrative progression was skipped –  I doubt you could even see the cutting room floor.

The romance is also rushed. One fleeting glance in a crowded bar leads to Law undertaking a multiple-day detox on a less-than-pretty woman who looks like she was just shat out of an elephant. Maybe I should wrap this review up, because the more I think about the film’s drawbacks the less I’m liking it. Still, despite its potholed plot and unsubtle influences I enjoyed Repo Men – just understand what you’re in for. It’s going to make a lot more sense if you wait to see it on DVD with what I am assuming are about 157 deleted scenes. And if you accidentally rent or Netflix Repo Man instead… you’re probably better off. I give it 2.5 repossessed spleens out of a possible 5.

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Crazy Heart is a bit schmaltzy. A bit sappy. The May-September romance between Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal is tough to buy into. Colin Farrell as the biggest country star in the world (and the hideous accompanying ponytail) is even tougher. Someone slap that casting agent on the back of the hand and make them work at the WB for a year as punishment. But the film’s music, oh the music.

I am a fan of “Classic” country but don’t give the time of day to “New” country. My opinions have been solidified in this respect having lived the last 2.5 years in rural Canada where I cringe every time one of the local 20-something girls stumble towards the jukebox at Duck’s Roadhouse. The songs on the Crazy Heart Soundtrack are new in the real world, but are meant to be the protagonist’s old standards in the realm of the film. And they sound old, and they’re awesome.

Leonard Cohen meets George Jones meets The Dude.

My favorite is “Brand New Angel”, a very sad, mournful song as you would probably expect after contemplating the title for a split-second. Someone has died, hence… right. The chord progression, minor/major back-and-forth coupled with Bridges’ own solid, booze-soaked vocals make for a real unexpected treat. It could just as well been called “The Whiskey Waltz” and kicked off a 30-year-old Kris Kristofferson record. Written by Greg Brown, the song accurately reflects the musical influences producer T-Bone Burnett suggested Jeff Bridges draw from when developing the character:

“In fleshing out Bad’s background, it was decided that his influences should extend beyond the country genre and that he should have an eclectic taste in music. T-Bone made a wonderful graph for me of the music that Bad might have listened to. Leonard Cohen was one of the guys we thought of.” – Jeff Bridges

jeff-bridges-crazy-heart Have a listen, see what you think and then seek out the movie. It gets a solid ‘B’ from little old me. The quality of the toe-tappers, coupled with Bridges’ convincing turn as the wedding and world weary Bad Blake, ensure you’ll be glad you did, partner. The soundtrack also features performances by Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall – and you can purchase an MP3 of "Brand New Angel” or the whole shebang right here: Crazy Heart: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Deluxe Edition) .

I wouldn’t be upset if Jeff beat out Jeremy Renner for best actor, and it’s definitely going to come down to the two of them. Morgan Freeman did little more than a great Nelson Mandela impression, Colin Firth is Colin Firth. Clooney’s performance in Up in the Air is as inexplicably overrated as the film itself. If Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett, who produced the soundtrack and composed “Weary Heart”, (the official theme from Crazy Heart and another solid tune), lose out to Randy Newman – I’m liable to swig back a fifth of Wild Turkey and find a truck stop waitress to impregnate/beat mercilessly. No one wants to see that happen, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, so do the right thing.

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And the Boston Accent Award Goes to…

by Dave on February 2, 2010

in Boston,Movies

One of the reasons I thoroughly enjoyed watching Mel Gibson’s new flick, Edge of Darkness, last night was that his Boston accent is frickin’ impeccable, dood. I mean it – you’d think he grew up on East Broadway as opposed to Sydney, Australia. I for one am glad the Gibber is back after a 7.5 year acting respite which was undoubtedly due to his drink-driving and comments about the chosen people. Talk about a bad night out. Badmouthing Jews in Hollywood will end your acting career quicker than stink-palming one of the Weinsteins.

martin-sheen-accent-departed The fact that Boston has been a hot movie location for the last few years can not be debated. There are many more Beantown-based flicks in the pipeline, too. That’s probably a separate post but I think we can breakdown the whole accent topic a bit further this evening. There have been some good Boston accents lately – Mel Gibson, Ed Harris (Gone Baby Gone), Alec Baldwin (The Departed). There have been some abysmal Boston accents lately – Tim Robbins (Mystic River), Cameron Diaz (Knight and Day… I’ve seen the trailer. Brutal), and the golden statue for worst Boston Accent evah in a feckin’ film goes to… Martin Sheen (The Departed). By a country mile, bruthah!

Affleck and Dicky school some high falootin’ Hollywood prick.

Am I wrong? What good or pathetic Boston accent attempts can you remember? And if anyone mentions Ben, Matt or anyone with the last name Wahlberg I’m gonna have your head examined for being a frickin’ retaaard.

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I never thought I’d find a YouTube audio/video mashup that amused me to the extent of my beloved Snatch Wars, but I was way wrong. Watch this little gem and marvel over the amount of time, patience and creativity that went into this. If you know anything about its creator or inception – please share.

Amazing Pulp Fiction Audio Mashup

Are you as impressed as I am right now? Do you have a favorite movie mashup we might not have seen? Do tell, motherfucker.

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When I re-read posts from the dawn of Pye in the Face, it’s been so long ago now that it feels like someone else wrote them. Especially if I haven’t seen them since the day they were published. Today’s throwback made me laugh out loud. Hard. I had to share.

Gremlins make poor Exorcists. Funny stuff.

Back in 2005 I mused about growing older, bemoaned how long I’d been in the same Boston apartment and started facing the fact that at 31 it was time to grow up. At least a little. My first baby step was to redecorate my bedroom.

Let me just say what you’re all thinking – My bedroom looks like the Chinese curio shop in Gremlins, if it were managed by a 12-year-old homosexual.

tinkerbell-pixie-1 Little did I know at that time the evil set of circumstances which was about to befall my immediate family. Almost five years on from when I first wrote this I now really know what it means to mature. And I suppose everyone’s reasons for eventually doing so differ from person to person. I was forced kicking and screaming into it nearly 20 years after I graduated from high school. You might have felt it hit you the moment you were handed your diploma. You might also be divorced now, never see your kids and work in a miserable middle management job which forces you to consider eating a gun every night by candlelight. So I’m comfortable with my former Peter Pan ways, Tink.

Read my full post about growing up and I hope you get a giggle.

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