Saturday, December 19, 2009

Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Haven't written anything in the last week. I blame this on my chronic battles with apathy.

I've seen some movies as of late, though, and since I really am at a loss for other things to write about, I'm going to offer a few mini reviews... unless if my first one becomes a lot longer than I am planning it to be. Then it's going to be one review.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Verdict: Wes Anderson should stick to animation from now on.

It was pretty easy to see that his schtick was probably getting stale, as each film since Rushmore has slowly regressed in quality. But this whole animation thing injected a new life into him (you know, despite the fact that apparently he did jack squat during the making of the movie), and it allows him to indulge in even more whimsy than he's used to, and he gets away with it. Like the scenes in which the animals randomly break out into jigs whenever they fell upon some loot--if you saw Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman break out into a dance at a key moment in the movie, you'd think it's the stupidest thing ever put to film. But since it's animation, and it allows for more flight of fancy, it works.

It also helps that as a whole, the film is much more optimistic and joyous in tone and spirit than anything else he's done. Sure, it has its darker elements, but it definitely doesn't have Luke Wilson cutting his wrists over Gwenyth Paltrow set to Elliot Smith music either. This is probably due to the fact that, as a PG rated movie that is an adaptation of a children's book, the darker material had to be scrapped. But it's good, because the existential dilemmas that Anderson's characters began to feel started to seemed tacked on by the time The Darjeeling Limited came out.

There's a few minor problems. Mr. Fox has this trademark whistle that sort of grates on the nerves, and when someone finally mentions the whistle, they don't completely tear it apart as being stupid and pointless like I was secretly hoping for. And really, the characters really aren't all that engaging, and I honestly can't say that any particular part of the story bowled me over either.

But whatever. It was fun, joyous, humorous, and pretty much everything I was hoping for and then some. Sometimes that's all you need in a film.

RATING:


So it ended up just being one review. Oh well.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Review: The Hangover

Argh. What a frustrating movie.

OK, so here's the gist. I liked the movie. As you will see below, I'd rate the movie a 6 out of 10 (except that I'm posting pictures in place of actual numbers, so it'll be something like six fingered hand). It was pretty funny and quite enjoyable. Sure, it got to the point where so many things were going wrong that you wondered why they wouldn't just be in constant misery and constantly trying to solve everything at once, but the mystery that gives the film its structure holds up well enough that you remain intrigued throughout.

Here's my problem with it:

This was a terrible weekend. Just about everything went wrong, people got shot, the groom was feared dead, a tiger was kidnapped and then had to be sedated and dealt with, someone was kidnapped, someone gets married to a stripper in a drunken stupor... THIS IS NOT SOMETHING I'D LIKE TO REMEMBER AT ALL.

So what happens at the end? Everything is neatly tidied up. The groom is found, he gets happily married to a wife that forgives them for scaring the crap out of her, the father of the bride dismisses the fact that his car was destroyed simply because he realizes that "it's Vegas", they find out that they're $80,000 richer, one guy gets out of his abusive relationship and tries to begin anew with the stripper he married, and so on.

This is all bulls***. Complete bulls***.

It glorifies the "whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" mentality, and pretty much says that drunken debauchery is OK, cause you gotta let loose every once in a while. Which is true to an extent, but not if you go wild to the point of excess. As I sat watching the film, I felt there was an underlying emptiness surrounding the entire night. These guys, not even knowing what the heck they did, wake up to see that they are in all sorts of trouble. Sure, it's played to comedic effect, but it's also kind of sad. So it demanded a certain type of ending... even if you had to find the groom and get him back in time to be married, you can make it clear that the night out has created a rift between bride and groom, one that might not be repaired, you can make it clear that the other participants are worse off for the wear... you can make it fit within the mainstream audience's expectations that they end up surviving, but resist giving them a neatly wrapped bow.

So basically, I was just pissed at the end. And I began to imagine how all the frat boys are going to watch this and begin to plan their own Hangover-esque bachelor parties/Vegas trips, and then get in a crap load of trouble when they do something stupid and the excuse of "it's Vegas" does nothing to help them. I'm probably taking this too seriously. Of course no one is going to be inspired by the film to steal a tiger or anything. But I think it encourages debauchery, which I don't particularly find to be really all that cool. But maybe I'm alone on this one.

RATING:


Although really leaning towards 5. Maybe even a 4. I'm assuming the funny moments derived from the film will vanish from memory, and the bad taste will linger, so in like a year, it's probably a 4.

Review: Inglorious Basterds

I feel as if it's kind of pointless to review a Tarantino movie at this point, but whatever. You'll either love it or hate it. For me, this is a marked improvement over Death Proof, and probably his best movie of the decade.

A lot of what makes it such an enjoyable experience is that Tarantino lets the scenes play out and unfold before us. Which means that the film is heavy on dialogue. But that's OK, because it isn't of the Death Proof variety where it's basically long pieces of dialogue for the sake of dialogue. No, these scenes are long because these characters are trying to control the others, engaging in dialogue with the others to feel out any weaknesses they might possess. The two main scenes that I'm referring to is the opening scene and the scene in the bar in a basement, which build up in such a way that at anytime the incredible tension might seem to erupt at any time, and at when it does it is short, violent, and wonderful.

I don't want to say that this movie is a more mature effort, cause it does have a lot of cartoonish elements, but it does remind me a bit of Jackie Brown (which would be considered "mature") in that it seems a little bit more refined. And yet, it plays out sort of in the vengeful style that Kill Bill featured. A lot of people have written that the film plays out as as this anti-revenge fable, which in the case of this movie is pretty stupid from my viewpoint, cause the whole film is just Tarantino allowing the Jewish to kick the crap out of Nazis. It's not really deep at all, but it feels needed given how the Jews have been portrayed in Hollywood for so long.

The performances are all fairly solid. Of course, Christoph Waltz has pretty much been given every praise possible for his performance, and with good reason. But I also really liked Brad Pitt in his role; a lot of people seem to not have been as taken with his performance, which I think is because it is a much more comedic performance than anyone else gives. But it hits the right notes, and works awesomely in the scene at the movie premiere.

The only complaints I have is that the style of the film seemed a little all over the place--there's a random Samuel L. Jackson voice-over to give us the backstory for one of the characters, and it's pretty abrupt and not necessarily needed; another example has important historical figures pointed out with arrows that follow them as they weave through the movie premiere crowd, and it's kind of annoying--and there's not a lot of time devoted to developing the characters, aside from a few major figures. But still, when pretty much each scene has some great aspect going for it, it's hard to really nitpick too much.

RATING:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's f'n cold

But it's totally not a big thing.

Even though I'm shivering at the moment.

Minnesota sometimes likes to remind the world that it exists, and it does so by sometimes fulfilling its expectations as one of the coldest states. Most of the time it's really not cold at all, but this recent snowfall has hit quite suddenly.

Things that happened due to this:

1) Saw my first car accident ever, which really wasn't much of one, but still. As the snow was beginning to ramp up yesterday, I was at a bus stop when I heard tires screeching in front of me. A car was turning left, made a complete stop, and the car in the back couldn't come to a complete stop behind her. He kind of nicked her as she started to turn left, so the damage was minor, but still. It was kinda cool. I gawked a bit. They probably felt stupid being the first people to get into an accident of the 2009-2010 winter season (they probably weren't the first... but they were close, probably).

2) I went to work with two pairs of socks, long shorts under my pants, and about 5 layers on top. Usually I just go with the simple one pair of socks and just pants route, but I have to work a considerable distance to work, and I didn't know how well I'd hold up waiting for a bus for 10-20 minutes at 11:30-ish.

As it turns out, it was actually a more pleasant walk than it was going to work earlier in the day. One could most easily attribute this to the fact that the wind died down considerably. I attribute it to the fact that somewhere in the 6 hours between trips I became much more of a MAN. In capital letters and everything.

As it is right now, I consider myself a winter survival guru.

I survived this with flying colors, I survived my toes being completely frozen earlier in the day, I can survive anything. I'm typing this right now while the heat in my place is turned off. (I'm doing this with the use of a much more economically efficient heater fan, but ignore that for now.)

I can pretty much handle anything mother nature throws my way right about now. I am, for all intents and purposes, a machine.

Of course, now I'm going to tempt fate and it's going to be -40 tomorrow and all my windows will randomly shatter, but whatever. I'm cool.

(Get it? Get it? That was a pun, because of how cold it is outside.)

(It's actually funny. Seriously. I promise.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Vikings game...

I'm going to write as I'm watching the game tonight.

For the record, I've been going back and forth whether or not we win today. We completely dominated them last year... but they're probably still bitter about that and looking for vengeance... but we have a better team this year... but they're at home and probably need the win more... but the 49ers just lost so they'll have a 2 game cushion even if they lose...

But the Vikings haven't had many tough road games, and the one we won (Packers) was probably because Favre probably preferred death to losing that game... but the Cardinals aren't *that* great at home...

Right now I'm thinking they win by 4 simply because the Saints won, which will give the Vikings extra incentive to play well to keep up with them.

6:53: I'm trying to find some Motown Christmas songs online.

I determined that some of my favorite Christmas songs are either produced by Phil Spector or Motown, but I couldn't figure out which one it was that was making them all. It probably was a combination of the two, but I didn't assume that. All absolutes in this case, baby.

I've listened to Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift For You, and it doesn't fill me with as much Christmas goodiness as I expected. Although I've listened to it 1.5 times (my iPod likes to randomly run out of battery after 30 minutes of use sometimes...) so I haven't really fully ingested it.

7:10: In a way, it's a good thing that Favre came back instead of inevitably joining FOX's pregame show.

Because Favre seems pretty stupid. And might lower the already dismally low discourse on NFL pregame shows.

7:22: One day, some TV executive will realize that a primetime football game doesn't actually require some crappy song by a boring pop singer as its theme song.

I probably won't cry tears of joy or anything when that day happens, but I wouldn't look down upon anyone who did.

7:32: I don't think our defense is going to be stopping this offense. Fortunately, Hightower just coughed the ball up, so we're good for now.

Also, my fantasy team needs Sidney Rice to get about 200 yards and 3 TDs for me to have a chance of winning. So no pressure or anything.

7:45: Shiancoe catches ball, is ruled out of bounds, play gets challenged, gets overturned... and then the stadium erupts into cheers. So I'm guessing that a lot of Minnesotans have winter homes down in the southwest...

8:24: I feel like I'm about 264 pounds right now.

I think this is what eating strictly fast food will do to you over the course of the day.

Also, our offense has been doing jack today.

8:31: So basically, our only hope is that the Cardinals try to insist on running the ball. Cause we're going to get torched in the air. And then every single team will then realize that this is the way to beat us. And then we'll lose. Every single game. And lose the division to the Packers.

8:54: 21-10 Cardinals.

It's my mother's birthday today, Arizona. This is probably going to be her worst birthday if you keep throwing it and beating the crap out of us. These are the type of things you should consider. Cause being heartless bastards isn't ultimately rewarding.

9:19: Brett Favre just threw an interception.

It looked like a play in Madden, where I'm trying to throw to one guy but press a wrong button. He wasn't even looking where he was looking...

9:36: One of the reasons why I was in favor of signing Favre was that whenever we lost, I could then pin the blame squarely on Favre, which sounded like a grand old time to me. So since I haven't been able to do it much this year, I'm going to go all out now.

F***ING FAVRE YOU OLD COCKSUCKER. PLEASE HURRY UP AND CHOKE ON A PRETZEL SO YOU CAN STOP SABATOGING THE VIKINGS' SEASON.

That was a bit weak.

I didn't really mean it.

Favre, please start playing better. Pretty please. I'll forgive you for the fact that you've been a jackass for your entire life if you do.

I'm going to go ahead and stop writing in hopes that somehow, that will produce some sort of luck for the team.

I hate losing

Also, I should never ever play Madden again. It's really not as good as it once was. Also, it makes me snap heads off of action figures.

That is all.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Stuff

It's been a long day, and all of my reasonable senses are telling me to go to bed, but I'm not, so there.

I'm at home, but I had work today. I also wanted to be at home tomorrow for my mother's birthday, so I drove out there (50 minute ride) borrowing my Mother's car. Got off work at 11, then went to go hang with Sara for an hour or so. Then I just made the drive back home and got back around 1:30.

I do want to say, though... and I'm not going to write much more about it because it doesn't really make me want to say much more about it... but I watched Public Enemies last night, and it really wasn't that good.

I mean, it was good.

But I thought it'd be better. So I'm pissed off or something. I'd probably watch it again at some point in my life, but the whole movie seemed to revolve around the action scenes, with pretty much every other scene just setting the next action scene up. Not a bad thing, per se, but it didn't have much in the way of character development... and really, it didn't seem like it had much to say. And there was a lot of potential: you had the FBI using their pursuit of Dillinger as a way to make themselves stronger as a point of interest, you could tackle the celebrity that he sort of received... you know, something that makes the film a little bit more than "Johnny Depp robs banks, and Christian Bale tries to stop him."

Also, the Timberwolves have won 2 out of their last 4.

This means their record is now 3-17.

I'm thinking playoffs.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Review: World's Greatest Dad

First off, the DVD of this is probably the most wonderfully misleading case in the history of movie cover art.

Looks like a nice, safe albeit rated R Robin Williams flick, right? That's not all, but what does the back say? "Then, in the wake of an accident, Lance suffers the worst tragedy and the greatest opportunity of his life. He is suddenly faced with the possibility of all the fame, fortune and popularity he ever dreamed of, if he can only live with the knowledge of how he got there." Sounds intriguing, no? A little quirky, but not terrible enough that your mother couldn't watch it with you.

This movie has Robin Williams' teenage son die from auto-erotic asphyxiation, which Williams responds to by making his death seem like a suicide, complete with Williams writing a suicide note that ends up becoming a worldwide sensation. The first 30 minutes also involves a lot of various forms of masturbation, and it is indicated that this is the teenage son's only hobby.

Basically, I'm assuming a lot of unassuming people renting this probably won't make it past the first 30 minutes.

It's an interesting concept, for sure. The essence of the idea is that people glamorize others after they're gone (as well as glamorize their own relationship with said person) when in actuality everyone treats each other like s***. So Kyle (the teenage son) is a huge jackass and everyone hates him, but once he dies everyone LOVES HIM! And he's a saint! And Williams, the frustrated father who dreams of one day becoming a published author, decides to fake a suicide note and journal, publicizes it to everyone in the hopes of getting him some sort of long-sought adulation.

It's all a clever idea, see. Too bad the rest of the film isn't clever enough to live up to the premise.

Here are a list of the main things that bothered me:

1) The characters are flat, stupid, and unlikeable. The high school is rum amok with stereotypes, including your closeted jock and goth girl and all that. Everyone treated Kyle with little regard (and with good reason), but once they learn of his "suicide", they all pretend that they were great buddies. Instead of... you know, asking themselves why they treated him like crap, wondering about their role in his "suicide", and then deciding to honor his memory.

Williams' character comes off a little bit better, quite opportunistic but ultimately loving of his deceased son. Of course, there's not really much time in the film spent wondering whether or not he actually regrets using his son's death to his benefit, (which makes the ending kind of abrupt) which means an intriguing dilemma is put to the side for needless "humorous" scenes such as the one where Williams waits for his lady friend to finally choose the right dress to wear (which has untapped potential in terms of comedy, for sure.)

2) The fact that the suicide note is terribly written (from the portion that we see) doesn't help us buy the fact that anyone could become so moved by it. I guess it gives you the idea that the reason Williams hasn't made it as a writer is because he sucks balls, but I'm pretty sure that's not what they were going for. Also, apparently his journal talk a lot about how no one "understands" Kyle and that he's "hiding his intelligence" out of fear of being treated differently. Which is stupid as hell. No one should really buy it.

3) You know those Facebook/Myspace posts your friends used to do where they'd make a soundtrack for their life, and make all their choices hyperliteral so that the song played at their funeral would be something like "Funeral" by Band Of Horses? There's a moment in the movie where Williams grabs his secret stash, and then a song on the soundtrack starts with lyrics something to the effect of "I get high as a kite". It made me want to punch my computer screen. Needless to say, I didn't really like the soundtrack to the film.

I don't want to say that I disliked this, as I did enjoy certain parts to the film and Robin Williams was kind of decent. But it couldn't prevent the feeling of wasted potential.

RATING:

I would just like to say...

That this Tiger Woods situation confuses me.

Perhaps I haven't been paying close enough attention, but how did a story that started off with a car crash suddenly end up being about his extramarital affairs?

Also, why is everyone acting so surprised that he would be sleeping around? If you're rich and famous, people are going to be throwing themselves at you. The ratio of unfaithful celebrities to faithful ones is probably around 8:1.

Of course, the people who seem surprised are terrible sportswriters, so maybe my problem is that I've been just reading too much Rick Reilly or something.

----

Also, I'm planning on writing something later tonight. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fudge!

I just realized that I missed what is perhaps one of the better Christmas TV specials tonight. Of course I am talking about Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. What else would I be talking about?

I still somewhat plan to review all the Christmas special-y stuff I can get my hands on. Except that I haven't done anything yet... because it hasn't felt like Christmas yet. Except that it started snowing today, so that's somewhat Christmas-y. I'm still thrown off by the fact that I had an abnormal Thanksgiving... so the fact that it's December doesn't feel right.

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer is QUALITY, though (along with Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town). Usually Christmas specials are sort of cheap affairs with bad messages to try to make up for the lack of quality. But the Rankin Bass specials feel like a nice big 40s Hollywood production that try to provide an enjoyable experience with some nice songs and a little of suspense. It gives it a warm and familiar feel to it... which is great if you're making a Christmas special.

Also, even though it really isn't about Christmas the song "Why Am I Such A Misfit" from the special is considered to be my favorite Christmas song. Although I'm probably the only person that thinks so. A while ago I expressed my love for the song and someone said that the song was stupid.

It secretly hurt my feelings a lot.