Last Build Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2008 13:27:56 PDT
Mon, 08 Jan 2007 11:12:59 PSTWeek in ReviewOn Thursday, December 28th, I watched The Black Dahlia, DVD 500 for the year. Some said it couldn't be done, others said I would quit before I finished the project. But I ended up finishing with 3 days to spare. The only way I could think to wrap up a full year of obsessive binge watching is with a "Best" and "Worst" list. Worst Pretentious Art FilmNot only did Cowards Bend The Knee win this for the year, but maybe for the worst film of all time. It was shown for the first time at a museum. Which makes it an art film in my opinion. It's a film about hockey and sperm. Really. Ugh. Worst Use of Klaus KinskiI had numerous problems with Web of the Spider, namely that there was no spider in it whatsoever. And what started as a ghost story turned into a vampire story. Or maybe they were vampire ghosts. Who knows...the crime was casting Klaus Kinski as Edgar Allan Poe and only filming two scenes with him. Worst Titled FilmVampire Clan had no vampires in it. Nuff said. Worst Overall ProductionYoutube has better production quality than Soccer's Most Violent Fan Fights. Worst Film by a Guy Who Should Know BetterJim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes has the worst career performances of each and every actor in the film. Worst SequelBasic Instinct 2 was a worse drop off than the Highlander sequels. I was stunned they couldn't get a run of the mill average screenplay for the sequel, instead of something so horrible -- and after so long.Worst Made-For-TV Movie Made to Look LegitThere are many made-for-TV movies that look like theatrical releases on Netflix. From the opening titles, It's obvious that you're getting a second rate film. When I saw that Midnight Madness had both Michael J Fox and Paul Reubens in it, I queued it up, thinking it was an early '80s teen flick. It was a really bad made-for-TV film, with very little Paul Reubens at all. Worst CostumesIn Wassup Rockers, Larry Clark wanted to show a day in the life of poor Latino skateboarders who spend the time getting into trouble. The problem is, they're wearing really expensive designer clothes made to look trashy, like the $300 jeans that were "distressed" denim. Worst DVD TransferTo Kill a Jackal has the quality of a camcorder-in-the-theater bootleg. It looks like they filmed a DVD from a video on a TV. Only the center of the original picture is seen, and sometimes neither character talking to each other is seen. I never thought I'd say this, but Pan and Scan would have been better. Worst Amateur DocumentaryWhile well made, Why Won't Anyone Listen? fails on a deep level. The documentary is about a band that can't achieve success. It would've been good had the band been an undiscovered gem, but soon it's apparent the band isn't successful because they suck.Best Career MoveDenis Leary had some moments as a standup comic and is an archetype for the Angry Comic. But he followed that up with really bad choices in quite a few films. Then a few years ago, he got the lead in Rescue Me, which is the perfect role for him. Rescue Me is a well-written drama that focuses on the lives of firemen in the city.Best Unlikely Love StoryBadlands, a film inspired by the Charlie Starkweather killings, focuses on the relationship between the killer and his teenage girlfriend. Terrence Mallick directs his script, with stellar performances by Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. It's been knocked off quite a few times by now, in films such asDown In The Valley and Natural Born Killers, but was done best the first time around.Best Film That Drastically Switches MoodsThe Swimmer literally starts off sunny and bright and turns progressively darker until it's a black clouded, rainy mess. Burt Lancaster vows to swim through all his neighbors' pools on his way home, but along the way, we learn how much his life has unraveled.Best Foreign FilmThe dreamlike Kagemusha almost won this, but I have to hand it to Werner Herzog for Aguirre: The Wrath of God Watch this DVD twice, the second time with the commentary track on.Best Teen FlickI almost gave this to The Chumscrubber, but Brick's hard-boiled dialo[...]
Tue, 02 Jan 2007 00:25:57 PSTI love DePalma's films, but this is one of the slowest films of the year. There's one really awesome death scene involving two guys falling down a stairwell, but other than that, it's not much. Queue up The Untouchables and LA Confidential instead. I think DePalma's a brilliant director, but this is much like Bonfire of the Vanities: when he shoots for mainstream success, he fails.
Tue, 02 Jan 2007 00:19:26 PSTI am a big fan of the Charles Bukowski novel of the same name. It would make a much better series for HBO than a single film. While some of the stories stay mostly true to the text, it wasn't filmed as a period piece. The stories relate very much to the 1940's post-war America, and there are gaps in logic when the film is set in present day. And as a dedicated Bukowski nerd, there were two errors: Bukowski wrote on a typewriter, not on legal pads. The publication that occurs with him is from John Martin, who didn't publish him until 1968. The story in question was accepted to Story Magazine in the mid-'30s. But I'm a nerd. If you haven't seen the Bukowski-penned Barfly, see that instead.
Tue, 02 Jan 2007 00:12:13 PSTBruce Dern, Barbara Feldon, Geoffrey Lewis, Melanie Griffith, and Annette O'Toole. Is that enough? If not, it's directed by Michael Ritchie, right before he did The Bad News Bears.
Tue, 26 Dec 2006 23:22:12 PSTIf you liked Freaks and Geeks, you'll also like this series from the same creator, Judd Apatow. Undeclared showed the dorm life of college freshman, mostly on their attempts to have sex, but also at times, trying to make grades and get into fraternities. As with his other show, Apatow uses actors who actually look the ages they're portraying. Guest stars, such as Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller appear and steal the show. Unfortunately, there was only one season of this really well written and acted sitcom. Check it out.
Tue, 26 Dec 2006 22:51:27 PSTIt starts out as a Western, then soon turns into a Prison movie. Kirk Douglas is a man with a lot of hidden loot in the desert, who plots an escape against the will of Henry Fonda, the warden, who is a prison reformist. The cast from top to bottom is right on the money, except for Michael Blodgett, who is 30 but playing a 17 year old. The performances leave nothing to be desired.
Tue, 26 Dec 2006 22:44:13 PSTThere's a lot about this film that doesn't make sense or is even believable. But the point of this movie is cool cars and racing scenes, and none of that disappoints. If you want to see those two things, queue this.
Tue, 26 Dec 2006 22:34:37 PSTThis mockumentary about Bobby Dukes, a paintball player who was banned from the sport, is a lot smarter and funnier than I thought it would be. By now, the mockumentary has been done to death. Few do it well, as with any other genre, and this one should be included. If you like The Daily Show's Rob Corddry, you'll love him in the starring role of this film.
Tue, 26 Dec 2006 00:33:51 PSTThis is one of those films I picked because of the cast: Lee Van Cleef, Jim Brown, and Leif Garrett. It would've been an okay Western, but the quality of the transfer was so bad I didn't enjoy watching it. It's a standard '70s Western: a revenge story. Leif Garrett is out to avenge the death of his family, and Jim Brown is after the same guys to get his stolen gold back. Skip it. Not worth the time.
Tue, 26 Dec 2006 00:17:51 PSTI haven't read the Robert Penn Warren book by the same name, nor have I seen the original, so it's impossible for me to compare this to either of those. I did love Sean Penn's portrayal of fictional Louisiana governor Willie Stark. But the way it's filmed, it looks like a biopic of a real person. The sad part of this is James Gandolfini, who does a horrible Southern accent. It's more or less a Southern Tony Soprano.
Tue, 26 Dec 2006 00:06:34 PSTThere once was a real guy who answered an open tryout for the Philadelphia Eagles. He made it, otherwise there wouldn't have been a movie made about him. He played for several years. This is one of many Rudy-style knockoffs, about some guy who is told he isn't smart enough, strong enough, tall enough, or whatever to do what he wants to do. But yet, with enough heart, grit, and determination, he gets what he wants. Oh Marky Mark. Is there anything you can't do?
Mon, 25 Dec 2006 23:54:50 PSTThis is a road movie crossed with a family drama. While sometimes, I thought it was trying to be edgy and dark for the sake of it, in spite of the story, overall, it's an entirely enjoyable film with some really funny moments in it. It makes for a nice weeknight after-work viewing, not too heavy, but not stupid either. I expected a little more, as it is now #241 on IMDB's all time list. Not that good, but definitely worth queueing and watching.
Mon, 25 Dec 2006 23:41:31 PSTThis is an early Stanley Kubrick film. It's not very well known, and maybe his least interesting, but still, it's a good '50s boxer/crime flick. A boxer, washed up, gets mixed up with the wrong girl...but she's the right one for him. There's shady mobster guys, and lots of great Kubrick style camera work. It's a B movie, but really interesting, especially if you've seen his others.
Sun, 17 Dec 2006 21:51:39 PSTGene Hackman returns for the sequel as Popeye Doyle. However, there's little connection otherwise to the first film. I generally love Frankenheimer's work, but this is one of his to skip. Hackman does well with what he's given, but it's really not a lot with which to work.
Sun, 17 Dec 2006 21:45:26 PSTBill Castle was a true showman of the cinema. He invented fun gimmicks to get people into the theater. 13 Ghosts, in its original version, was one of these films. The audience was given special glasses with which to see the film, filmed in "Illusion-o."
Sun, 17 Dec 2006 21:34:54 PSTI usually like all the Larry Cohen movies, but I guess every director has his stinker. This is a really bad film. It's poorly acted, and it just looks bad. It looks like a student film shot on video. The premise and plot points are also counter to logic. I'm not sure what the story is with this one. I did notice that Cohen did not do commentary for this film.
Sun, 17 Dec 2006 21:27:10 PSTThe hosts: Peter Boyle, Desi Arnaz, and Jill Clayburgh.
Sun, 17 Dec 2006 21:27:41 PSTHosts: Buck Henry, Peter Cook/Dudley Moore, and Dick Cavett. By now the cast is taking over the show as a vehicle for themselves rather than a vehicle for the host. Belushi, Radner, and Chase are in the forefront of the show.
Sun, 17 Dec 2006 16:56:56 PSTI'm not sure what was added in to this version of the film, but it wasn't anything good. Warren Beatty plays Benjamin "Bugsy" Seigel, a man bent on birthing what we know as Las Vegas. This film received two Oscars and a slew of nominations, but I can't understand why. It's crap. When I saw it was coming on DVD, I took a look at its info, and queued it. It was nominated for best picture over Cape Fear, Thelma and Louise, Boyz in the Hood, and Barton Fink, and was beat out by Silence of the Lambs. So I figured it has to be good. Wrong. I don't get it. Beatty was horrible, the script all over the map, and the directing uneven. Skip this.
Sun, 17 Dec 2006 16:45:24 PSTI watch all the Teen movies I can get my hands on. It's from having a tweaked out childhood and also coming of age during the John Hughes era. Every couple of years there's a teen film that captures the awkwardness and difficulty just right. This is one of those films.
Sun, 17 Dec 2006 16:23:55 PSTThere's actually some funny moments in this, enough to make me like it overall. Mostly, Ricky Bobby's two foulmouthed kids killed me. Most of the film is Will Ferrell mugging and flailing for laughs, but the supporting cast of John C Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, and David Koechner hold up the script that was a lot better than I thought it would be. There are a lot of Redneck jokes that have been beaten into the ground recently, and this film smartly avoids being Joe Dirt On A Racetrack.
Sun, 17 Dec 2006 16:15:06 PSTRichard Pryor hosted with Gil Scott-Heron as musical guest. Those two alone should be enough to rent this disc. You may have seen the clip with Chevy Chase and Richard Pryor doing word association, but the whole episode is really good, and most of it was new to me. There are two Pryor sketches that far predate the Eddie Murphy episodes of SNL and the recent Chapelle's show.
Mon, 11 Dec 2006 02:34:54 PSTAlan Arkin directed this very odd movie. It's a surreal look at violence in New York City. For the life of me, I can't think of another movie to compare it to, nor can I summarize the plot. This film follows no rules of conventional story telling techniques in cinema. There are long monologues with still cameras, including a great speech by Donald Sutherland.
Mon, 11 Dec 2006 02:28:38 PSTYet another film about a guy trying to make a film. But this one is really good. Steve Buscemi is the filmmaker, an artsy type, who has no money. He befriends a weird mobster who wants to get him the money to make the film, and that's where the story takes off. The mobster puts Buscemi through a series of darkly funny obstacles in order to get the money.
Mon, 11 Dec 2006 02:19:37 PSTDirector Michael Ritchie is best known for his film The Bad News Bears. He also made this football film with Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson. Brian Dennehy also plays a footballer with panache. One of the main plot devices is that Kristofferson gets involved in some kind of weird self help EST style groups led by Burt Convy and tries to get the other players involved.