Archive for March, 2011

March 3, 2011

Movie Review: “Clerks” – The Beginning of a Marathon

When I look at all of the movies I haven’t seen (thanks to Flickhart.com… and it’s not as bad as it looks. I’m not quite up to date.), I decided that the best way to knock out a lot of the big ones were with marathons. This Christmas, my sister and I watched all 7 Tarantino movies in chronological order. Her favorite was Death Proof. Mine, if taken as a unit is Kill Bill Vol.1 & 2; alone I say Reservoir Dogs.

I digress.

My latest marathon will be Kevin Smith films. With all of the not-so-recent press about is “Red State” stunt where he opened the floor to bidders and then bought it himself as a statement against marketing or the studio system or something, I thought he would be a good subject. He also was a guest the other week on a podcast called Doug Loves Movies. So I’m now going to make my way through the Askewniverse and beyond. And maybe when I’m done I’ll be able to use Askewniverse in a sentence.

(**) “Clerks” is famously Kevin Smith’s first feature. The lore still holds that he made it for under $30,000. It was shot in black and white to save money. It was filmed in the store where Kevin Smith worked. They filmed after closing and stayed through until morning. That’s great and beautiful, but a backstory of a film shouldn’t matter in determining it’s worth.

Fortunately, the movie does stand on it’s own, but not too gracefully. This Godot-esque movie gives us a day in the life of Dante and Randal, two clerks in neighboring stores. Well, not too much happens. They have a lot of annoying customers. Many not annoying and indifferent customers. They play hockey on the roof. Dante gets in a fight or two with his girlfriend. That’s about it. Of course , that’s part of the absurd fun. It entertains in its ennui, it delights in its boredom, in the quotidian schlep that is their lives.

Randal is easily the most interesting, well-rounded, and funniest guy in the movie. He runs the video store and cracks lots of great film store jokes. Did I like him because I am a film nerd or am I a film nerd because I like him? Either way, he spews lots of great lines about porn, hermaphroditic porn, and sucking your own penis. In addition to summing up my own personal philosophy on humanity.

(Randal demands to go with Dante to the funeral)

Randal: I’m not missing what’s probably going to be the social event of the season.

Dante: You hate people.

Randal: But I love gatherings. Isn’t it ironic?

(Tangent: Here’s to hoping in “Dogma” Randal explains irony to Alanis Morissette.)

Unfortunately, I’m running out of good things to say. Jay of Jay and Silent Bob fame was unique and interesting enough. And this movie has a horrifying scene at the end involving Dante’s ex-girlfriend. Unimaginable. Beyond that, the movie was really kind of weak. The actor who played Dante isn’t worth remembering since he’s done nothing else and was probably a great Biff in his high school production of “Death of a Salesman” or some nonsense like that. His line delivery is entirely flat and his emotions are staged. His whining is so unbearable that you end up hoping he fails to make it out of his small-town life and is trapped as a convenience store clerk forever.

Perhaps that’s the point. while I got more of a Samuel Becket vibe, apparently Kevin Smith wanted this to be more like Dante Alghieri’s “Inferno” and each of the chapters of the movie mirrors a circle of hell. I would say that the screenplay is another strong point. The dialogue doesn’t always hit where it needs to, and maybe it wanders just a little too far from what needs to happen, but a pretty strong message is made throughout the film. Maybe they are meant to be stuck there. Maybe no can help them. Or maybe, like Randal’s poor Death Star contracted plumbers, they know what they are doing, and Dante and Randal are consciously damning themselves to a horrible and misguided demise.

And in case you were wondering, here is the list of movies Randal orders from the retailer. I’ll do some… research to see if any of them are real.

  • This isn't directly related to the movie at all, but it's real!

    Whisper in the Wind

  • To Each His Own
  • Put it Where it Doesn’t Belong
  • My Pipes Need Cleaning
  • All Tit-Fucking, Vol. 8
  • I Need Your Cock
  • Ass-Worshipping Rim-Jobbers
  • My Cunt and Eight Shafts
  • Cum Clean
  • Cum-Gargling Naked Sluts
  • Cum Buns III
  • Cumming in a Sock
  • Cum on Eileen
  • Huge Black Cocks with Pearly White Cum
  • Slam it Up My Too-Loose Ass
  • Ass Blasters in Outer Space
  • Blowjobs by Betsy
  • Sucking Cock and Cunt
  • Finger My Ass
  • Play with My Puss
  • Three on a Dildo
  • Girls Who Crave Cock
  • Girls Who Crave Cunt
  • Men Alone 2: The K.Y. Connection
  • Pink Pussy Lips
  • All Holes Filled with Hard Cock
  • Happy Scrappy: The Hero Pup
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March 3, 2011

Short Stack: Meet me in St. Louis!

I feel that a lacking aspect to the awards circuit experience is the mystery surrounding short films. Where do they come from? Who makes them? How does the academy choose?

In trying to make Oscar ballots around the world more predictable. I’m starting off with a responsible 2011 Short Stack circuit. I will follow every eligible film festival, and try to show their winners in some capacity. Fortunately, the short film year is October 1st – September 31st so we already have a few festivals to look at.

This one has been making the circuit for a while. As the trailer for “The Six Dollar Fifty Man” will tell you, it was in Cannes in 2009, and Sundance in 2010. It should be eligible again because of the St. Louis Film Festival, but it probably won’t make it far if it hasn’t already.

This next one looks undeniably a cut above. Mysteriously titled “The Armoire”, Jamie Travis’ latest short film completes his “Saddest Boy in the World” trilogy. In it, a game of hide-and-seek goes wrong when Tony is never found. This one has also been impossible to see but here is the trailer, and I was so obsessed I even watched a clip. It looks good and well made. It made be a little too light or ultimately underwhelming to make it all the way, but I could see it being shortlisted.

And click here to go to the NY Times short clip.

For the last winner, there is a little confusion. The Festival website says “Pixels” by Paul Emile Boucher won. Except that there isn’t a Pixels by him. It’s by someone else named Patrick Jean. Fortunately, it’s online and a heck of a lot of fun. So creative and well done. This is everything Logorama wanted to be and failed to execute 100%.

March 2, 2011

The Oscar Nominations: 2012 Predictions!

UPDATE: It’s nomination Eve in January 2012. My most recent nomination predictions are here! Look at them.

Well, it’s been a whole 3 days since the 2011 Oscars, and I’m done. Let’s give it a moment of silence, shall we? (*Think of your favorite Oscar nomination morning surprise here (e.g. John Hawkes! Or Salt for Sound Mixing!)*) On to the new year!

I thought it would be only wise to put up predictions a year in advance and see how awful, or phenomenal I can do. Here is a full list of predictions. Anything interesting?

AUGUST UPDATE: Here are my latest predictions. They’ve changed quite a bit in nearly 6 months. Only 45% of my nominations are the same.

Best Picture:

  • Albert Nobbs
  • Contagion
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II
  • Hugo Cabret
  • Moneyball
  • One Day
  • The Rum Diary
  • The Tree of Life
  • Young Adult
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March 1, 2011

Movie Review: “No Strings Attached”

(*½) I went into this movie with higher hopes than I should have had. This was Ivan Reitman. The Ivan Reitman! Ghostbusters! Natalie Portman was at the top of her game and I’m an Ashton Kutcher apologist. Add in Mindy Kaling and you’ve got a great night for me. Well something went wrong. The horribly disjointed end product fizzled out and underused all of my favorite actors.

The biggest problem with the movie is not in Natalie Portman’s character’s weak moral compass and capricious mood swings, nor is it in Ashton Kutcher’s wooden faced reaction to everything, including finding out his ex-girlfriend is sleeping with his dad (spoiler?). The worst part is the screenplay.

Do you know how you can watch a movie and when you’re done you think, “Gee, I could write a better movie than that?” This movie was so bad I literally started a screenplay. I knew whatever collection of words I put on paper would be better. It involved the most obvious exposition I’ve seen in a while, loose ends a plenty (her dad’s funeral?), crazy characters that are somewhere between over-the-top and senseless, and no actual emotions. 

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