Archive for May, 2011

May 27, 2011

Battle LA: “Maybe I can help. I’m a Veterinarian.”

“Battle: Los Angeles” 7/10

In a movie that was billed as the Black Hawk Down of alien movies, I guess great dialogue isn’t one of the things advertised. Nor is sense and logic. But intense fun is! And I’m sorry but if you were looking for a social commentary on military standards in Somalia Los Angeles then maybe you brought the wrong DVD home from the Red Box. This is Battle: LA. All I want are aliens getting blown up, Michelle Rodriguez to have one liners, and one inspiring speech about humanity and perseverance. Check, check, and check.

The plot is mostly non-existant, although it tries really hard to get you to care about these characters. Aaron Eckhart, character name not important, because of his mysterious past is somehow ranked below the new guy, all on his last week before retirement. Ne-Yo is getting married the next week. Someone else is from Africa. They all are surprised dispatched when those surprise meteors falling from the sky are actually alien spacecraft. Flying in the face of M. Night Shyamalan’s mentally handicapped aliens, these baddies actually need our water to survive. 

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May 26, 2011

Life and Times: Jack Black

The crazy eyes tell you he's funny.

Jack Black is something of an anomaly in the entertainment industry. And by that I mean he’s incredibly talented. He’s probably the only comedian I would describe as a triple threat and he’s actually funny (I’m looking at you Steve Carell). He also has an honest rise to fame. He worked hard, took small roles, and was just super talented and continues to make good movies. He’s even a Golden Globe nominee for School of Rock. I think that as soon as the right role about a mentally handicapped abusive father comes around, he’s got himself an Oscar nomination.

Jack Black officially has the most boring life for a celebrity and I’m fine with it. He’s going to be 42 years old in August and has been happily married for 5 years. He dropped out of UCLA to pursue an acting career (No degree? In this economy? Good luck!) and Tim Robbins remembered him and cast him in things.

But let’s take a visual history through the man’s mystical career, ja?

The first worthy thing  Jack Black did was guest star on the absurd sketch show Mr. Show. Here is easily the best sketch from that show, The Joke: The Musical. What you need to know? Earlier someone tells a bad joke. The joke goes like this:

A man goes up to a farmhouse and asks for a place to say and the farmer tells him he can sleep in the barn on one condition – the man cannot stick his penis in any of the three holes. So the man jams his cock into hole one and it feels great. He jams it into hole #2 and it feels mindblowingly good. When he rocks that bad boy into the final hole, he feels an incredible pain and what ever was touching him wont let go. The farmer returns the next morning to find the man in pain. The farmer describes that his wife was behind the first hole, his daughter was behind the second, and behind the third was the cow’s milking machine that won’t let go until it has 50 gallons of milk. The end.

See? Not funny. But you bet this clip is wonderful.

Black then landed himself an HBO series of his own, Tenacious D. The band actually came before the show, but it certainly all of its fame from this masterfully weird show. So weird. This is my favorite Tenacious D song, because really, whose isn’t it?

And then Jack got his break out role as best friend in Barry. I will just let the clip speak for itself.

Then he acted in a series of shitty movies and now Kung Fu Panda 2 is coming out this weekend! That’s the story. He’s really made himself known as just a generic comedy icon, but he’s actually got some great stuff on the interwebs.

My favorite thing is when celebrities do things on Sesame Street. It’s always weird looking at them in kiddie mode. Jack Black teaches us about the word “octagon” – because who better knows when to stop…

And here’s some shameless Kung Fu Panda promotion that’s actually worth watching… and you should click it.

And now, here’s a list of Jack Black’s 10 best movies as taken from IMDb, Flickchart, Metacritic, and Rotten Tomatoes:

1. High Fidelity
2. School of Rock
3. Kung Fu Panda
4. King Kong
5. Tropic Thunder
6. Ice Age
7. Enemy of the State
8. Dead Man Walking
9. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
9. Be Kind Rewind
9. Bob Roberts

That’s a really weird list considering he has cameos in most of them… Get on your shit J.B!

May 25, 2011

Short Stack: Pixar-a-thon!

While I recover from Cannes and continue to fail to find actual current short films, I’m gonna pussy out and start a little mini Pixar marathon. For an animation company, they aren’t exactly prolific when it comes to animation of any kind. In the last 27 years, they’ve only made 18 shorts. Sure 10 of them have been nominated for the only real short film award out there, the big Oscar, and yeah fine 3 of them even won. But I can still blame Pixar for anything. But not too loudly. They might hear.

Let’s get started with looking at Pixar’s first ever short, before Pixar was really even Pixar. This is “The Adventures of André and Wally B”. The narrative is non-existant and the characters are thinly drawn. But I don’t really think they were looking for more than “LOOK! COMPUTER ANIMATION!” And for 1984 I’m sure they achieved that. A good first stab, if not for the Donald Duck voice over on André. You kinda root for Wally B (get it? He’s a bee! Fucking clever!) to actually sting the guy in the face. And supposedly it was shown before “Brazil”. That’s an interesting companion piece…

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May 24, 2011

“Chasing Amy” – So why is her name Alyssa?

"It's not about who you love, but how"? Really? I think male or female might matter to some people. Just saying.

“Chasing Amy” 8/10

My Kevin Smith glacial marathon continues with the sexually charged “Chasing Amy” and I actually really liked it. Here Smith finally learns how to mix direction and a budget with his pop referential, super smart writing. It’s what I’ve been waiting for him to do and he figures it out movie #3. Not too shabby.

If you didn’t know, his hipster named Holden and Banky are two comic book writers or inkers or whatever. A bearded Ben Affleck is Holden, the relatable one, and Jason Lee plays Banky the Kevin Smith stand in of the movie (i.e. the bag of dick). Holden falls in love with local lesbian Alyssa, played by the girl with the most annoying voice ever, Joey Lauren Adams. Things actually turn into a bit of a sex comedy while having a great running commentary on sexuality and what sex means to different people without being preachy and awful. Alyssa is one of the least hate-able lesbian feminists out there for which there should be actual awards given out.

Holden and Alyssa ride a series of emotional ups and downs, as happens in any rom-com. It’s Banky that saves this from your generic “lesbian dates a straight guy” (whaaaaat?) movie. In the best friend role, he gets some serious comic mileage. There’s also a gay black guy who moonlights as a black power comic book writer played expertly by the clearly forgotten Dwight Ewell. It’s this colorful cast of characters, and the omni-present Jay and Silent Bob, that remind you you’re watching a Kevin Smith movie. That and the incredible dialogue. It’s like if Aaron Sorkin smoked a lot of weed and bought a heart at Target for a buck 95. Things get emotional, but not too bad.

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May 23, 2011

For Your Cannes-sideration

After seeing 20 movies at the 64th Cannes Film Festival, I’ve used my superior movie watching skills to pick out a few lucky people that I think are worthy of awards consideration. Cannes is a particularly hard festival to maintain the traction from because the American collective memory is equal to a goldfish’s memory. That is why I’m inducting some new members into my For Your Consideration hall because the American collective memory is equal to a goldfish’s memory. I’m not going to suggest my favorites, per se, although they are all performances I loved, but just the ones that might need a little help later on.

Best Actress:

Symbolism Alert: the blood red represents violence.

Tilda Swinton – We Need to Talk About Kevin

Queen Tilda has done it again. And the Academy will probably ignore her again after her breath taking language bending work in I Am Love and her underseen (myself included) turn in Julia the year prior. Here she brings the crazy and she brings it hard. She’s got my vote every year and I hope she pulls it through.

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May 22, 2011

Screenday – Palme D’Oracle – Cannes Predicitons

I may not have caught every In Competition movie, but I caught all of the good ones (sorry Ichimei – I heard you were a snooze) So before the big reveal tonight, here is my slate of predictions inevitable winners tonight.

Palme D’Or: “Le Havre”

Following the news that the most bothersome film on the planet, “Arirang” won for Un Certain Regard, I know that the gods of Cannes (DeNiro and friends) have to spite me and choose something that I hate or haven’t seen. So I’ll go with the French bore-a-thon critics are calling a “dry” comedy.

Grand Prix: “The Tree of Life”

Supposedly Olivier Assayas, the only sane member of the jury, has got a major hard-on for The Tree of Life. I think the others will respect the movie enough to give it the Grand Prix. And now that I’m on first name terms with the director, I don’t think Terry really needs or wants it. He’s just happy living in his own little bubble.

Director: Michel Hazanavicius – “The Artist”

The Artist most certainly will be rewarded somewhere, so I think this will be a great moment to give rising French director their stamp of approval. He nails the flash bang style of silent movies so well that it seems like a great fit without placing too much reverence on something is a really just a feat of vision.

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May 13, 2011

I Cannes’t be more “Restless”

Restless

Let’s get the ridiculous plot right out of the way. Enoch, played by Henry Hopper, a newcomer who happens to be Dennis Hopper’s son, has recently lost his parents, has dropped out of school, finds an obsession with death and hangs out at funerals for strangers, and now has an invisible friend named Hiroshi who is the ghost of a Japanese Kamikaze pilot from World War II. He is the very definition of indie movie quirk. At one of these funerals, he meets the terminally ill Annabel, played by Mia Wasikowska, better known as Alice in last year’s Alice in Wonderland.

If you haven’t heard the term before, Annabel is Enoch’s manic-pixie-dream girl – the girl who has her own set of undeniable quirks all under an unfailing positive attitude, falls in love with the troubled male lead, and through the powers of love cures his depression. The movie never takes any dramatic or unexpected turns, it ends just how it has to end, and you are left wondering most of the time why the ghost is a Japanese fighter pilot so consider the plot spoiled.

Fortunately, the movie is saved in the style category. It’s a pretty movie made by pretty people. Everyone’s clothing looks like it comes right out of a Calvin Kline ad as they run through the forest and discover run down but vintage houses. The two leads are breathtakingly attractive even though she is sporting a masculine haircut. The music is probably the most distinct aspect as its indie guitar melodies carry the whole film in this twee dream like space where their relationship seems destined to work.

The majority of the movie, however, is simply pretty people doing nothing. They play games with each other and with dead people, they trace their outlines in chalk as if they have died and the parallels between her dying and his dying inside are made all too obvious. Van Sant’s film hovers far too much on the clean and polished surface to incite any real emotions at all. And then of course there’s the kamikaze pilot. What is he doing there?

The promise of this movie is that Mia Wasikowska elevates her material into something almost real. She gives a finely nuanced performance and makes her screen partner a thousand times better, which still isn’t saying much for Henry Hopper. Sadly, one good performance cannot bring this movie out of the vintage-painted emptiness throughout.

It was bad but Cannes pun count: 3

May 13, 2011

“We Need to Talk About Kevin”

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Look! Red! Tilda! This is the whole movie in one frame with CANNES of soup.

Fans of the Lionel Shriver novel from which it’s based are the lucky ones. It’s supposed to be great, but if you haven’t yet read the book, you might be left a little bit in the dark. One of the four female directors here at the festival, Lynne Ramsay creates a highly stylized universe for the horrific events that distances the viewer while allowing the true emotional psychosis of her protagonist to fill the screen.

“Kevin” follows Eva (the always phenomenal Tilda Swinton) in the events leading up to and right after her son Kevin (Miller) commits a Columbine style high school mass murder. If you know this chilling outcome, pieces are laid through out the movie that as you pick them up you see exactly how he’s going to do it, completely unbeknownst to the other characters. The movie weaves the past and present together in a quite unsettling way so you feel every rise and fall of Eva’s emotions. 

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May 8, 2011

How many puns Cannes I make?

That’s right.

I will be going to the 64th Cannes Film Festival. I won’t only be going to ogle at the stars, I am the sole student going AS PRESS! I will have a fancy (but lowly) press pass, a comfy spot in the press box between Matt Lauer and Manohla Dargis, access to all of the Press Conferences where I can hear Johnny Depp do Keith Richards impresonations, and obviously I get to see all the films.

In case you don’t grasp the sense of occasion, this is more than a once in a life time experience for me. Your average movie nerd just can’t waltz into the Cannes Festival and throw back a box of Good & Plenty during a screening. It’s industry and press only and somehow I’m press.

Every day from now on, there I’ll post my every thought, prediction, review, critique, criticism, party hopping, press release, star photo, glaring opinion, diatribe or adoration right here. The festival officially starts on Wednesday the 11th, but I will be arriving late that night so I will miss only the opening film – and you might already know I hate Woody Allen so it’s no great loss here.

Let the Festival BEGIN!

Cannes Pun Count: 1

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