12.21.2007

All I Need to Know I Learned From Brule

I don't really enjoy most of the live-action stuff on the cartoon network. The Tim and Eric show generally seems lazy, trite, and at it's very best it usually gets nothing more than a smile or me saying in a monotonous voice, "hey, that could be pretty funny." But then there's John C. Reilly, the academy award nominated actor who makes frequent appearances on the show as the character Dr. Brule. I can honestly say, this man is a genius. So now I present you with some clips of Dr. Brule.





and now my favorite, how Dr. Brule gets rid of leaves.



Why do I think these are hilarious? I don't care, they just are.
Here's Dr. Brule teaching you how to fight.



12.20.2007

Zack Newcott's Bestest Year In Music 2007




Well, the year is almost over, which means that every blogger on the planet is making their top list of what they have decided everyone else should love by now. Let's face it, this is really just an opportunity for hipsters to take lesser known bands and shove them into the faces of those who actually enjoy what they listen to, which obviously means I have to participate. So shove it readers, here's my list of the best albums to be released in 2007.

Flight of the Conchords - The Distant Future

Yes, the album from the comedy/indi/folk band who started the show who then released this album from the show based on their previous comedy material. it's confusing, but what we all should know by now that Flight of the Conchords is one of the best shows on television, if not THE best. So it makes sense that their EP album, which contains only a modest five songs (unfortunately lacking many of their best works), fits in well with this list.

Business Time

Jenny


Once - The Soundtrack By Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

The reason the movie Once worked so tremendously well is that the key players involved with the film were members of the same band, The Swell Season, who had previously proven their own excellence in music making. The soundtrack to the film is logically just as impressive as the emotional pull the film created. While a good number of these songs are repeats of the Swell Season's earlier release, it is nevertheless a solid album. One of the best movies of the year along with one of the best albums.
Here is a live version of their song Once.

Once

Bishop Allen - The Broken String

Yeah, you've already listened to him. He does that song "click, click, click, click" so adequately put to use by Kodak in their holiday commercials. Yeah, the rest of the album is great too and also isn't trying to sell you something. I suggest you listen to "Flight 180" before Jet Blue gets to it.

Flight 180

Rain


Fionn Regan - The End of History

The mellow melodies and subtle finger pickings of Fionn Regan serve to compliment his delicate lyrics in such a way that his songs become utterly delectable to the human ear. So, yes, his album The End of History is incredibly good. Listen to it, and then buy it.

Be Good Or Be Gone

Johnathan Rice - Further North

I first listened to Johnathan Rice from a recording of a live performance preceding David Bazan. If you know me, you know how much I love the Bazan, and since there is no new Bazan album to speak of this year somebody has to take his place. Johnathan Rice is more than qualified. In fact, he's all around pretty amazing. His lyrics alone show tremendous depth while his melodies are undeniably catchy. While I admit that I preferred his live solo performance, his completed album is fantastic.
If you would like to download his live performance here is the link:

Johnathan Rice Live


Page France - ...and the Family Telephone

When I listen to Page France, I get confused. Their lyrics are so good it hurts my brain. Combining biblical imagery with childlike playfulness, Page France manages to create an altered listening state where the strictly religious meld with the adolescent. I have resolved that essentially any meaning can be taken from their works, however their undeniably catching songs built upon minimalistic melodies make them mentally inescapable.

Here's a Telephone

Fountains of Wayne - Traffic and Weather

I listened to this album a good number of times, and although many of these songs leave you with a bitter aftertaste with the lyrical cynicism and sarcastic wit the band is known for, it's still written well enough to stick with you. Yes, it can be shallow, but is a shallowness it is self-aware of. It's catchy too.


The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour

I don't know how I came across the Weakerthans, but I'm really glad I did. This band is quite simply, charming. I really enjoy any listening session having to do with them. The lyrics are fun and inventive, ranging anywhere between a cat's soliloquy and bigfoot. There is also a depth here, in which the songs contain considerable depth. Meanwhile, they manage to twist their songs in such a way to create an emotional resonance which extends beyond a simple listen. This really is a great album, if not the best of the year.

Night Windows

Sondre Lerche - Phantom Punch

I can always recommend a Sondre Lerche album, even if it's not remotely related to the kind of music you're into. He is a tremendous musician and with his abilities as a songwriter his works manage to envelope qualities of every type of music raging back to the early 1920's. His new album is also very cool.

To Be Surprised

Phantom Punch

Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter

This is a pretty amazing album featuring demanding lyrics and beautifully constructed melodies. I can't recommend it enough, so listen to it.

Right Moves

12.18.2007

The Savages Review



The Savages
*****

If you're looking for a best picture of the year, you can't really go wrong with the Savages. I'm not saying it's MY best picture of the year, or that it's my favorite movie of the year. I'm just saying you couldn't go wrong giving it the title of best picture. It is artistically and expertly structured, engaging with both it's story and it's performances, and is simply fascinating to watch. Basically, it is a well made film. Whether the content is your cup of tea or not is up to you to decide.
The Savages is mainly about three people; a brother who recently deported his girlfriend back to Poland, his younger sister who has somehow received funding for her play, and their father, an elderly man who has demonstrated mental instability with his forgetfulness and tendency to smear his own fecal matter against the wall in spite of his belligerent caretaker. "Spite" is the key word here, as every action in the film has some undetermined decisiveness to it. Even the father's senility, in his forgetfulness of his children and his surroundings, could be construed as a choice. The characters harbor feelings of abandonment and loneliness, feelings which are only exacerbated by their own choices which tend to plunge them headlong into seemingly impossible situations. There is a lot of backstory here, and the film manages to show all of it without giving all of it away.
If there is anything certain about the Savages, it is that it is a very literary film. There is a lot to explore and distinguish, and there are certainly a lot of profound ideas concerning adulthood and the choices people make. With that said, I will again leave the movie up to you, because as a best picture that really is the most you can ask for. I highly recommend watching the Savages and would consider the ten dollars a solid investment.

12.11.2007

The Next Big Thing

So my brother Nick, his wife Susan, along with myself all went to get lunch today. Shortly after the meal, Nick and I being the finest of patrons, refilled our water cups with coke and began to leave. However, we faced the same difficulty. Us, being the strong and burly men we are, were also very lazy. VERY, lazy. So lazy in fact, that neither one of us wanted to carry our drinks while we actually drank them.
As you can tell, we were at an impass.
I, being strong, burly, and single, had to brave my laziness and actually hold my drink. Nick, who was far more fortunate in having a wife, however, was also unfortunate to have a wife who refused to carry a drink for his lazy ass.
Now let me interject here with an immensely valuable piece of information. Nick's wife is also pregnant. With that in mind, it didn't take long for Nick to see the valuable real estate (Nick is also a realtor) that was going to waste here. After all, how hard could it be to balance a drink on a stomach? I mean, some do it all the time.
With that, I present to you gentlemen an invention that will revolutionize the world as we know it!
Behold!



The Maternity Cup Holder Attachment! (patent pending)
Finally you don't have to be burdened by the cold hefty drinks which have tormented your hands!
What's that? You don't drink anything cold? Well for those early mornings you can pick up one of these!



The Coffee Maternity Cup Holder! (patent pending)
Just because SHE can't drink it doesn't mean YOU can't! Enjoy a piping hot beverage whenever she's around!

I know what you're going to say to me.
"How can this get any better?"
I'll tell you how.



TWINS!

So remember, that child isn't the only thing she could be carrying! Buy one today!

12.10.2007

Beowulf - Movie Review

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Beowulf
***--

I'm not really sure what to say about Beowulf, because I'm not really sure what exactly the filmmakers were going for. I mean, they had to know, right? There's no way that with such a high concept and high budget they'd let unnecessary snippets through. Right? But let me share with you my experience watching Beowulf.
There's a moment not far through the film where our central protagonist, Beowulf, shows up on the shores of Denmark. He's travelled through a fierce storm and naturally, the guy is hungry. Specifically, he's hungry for meat. I'm cool with that, the guy is hardcore.
So Beowulf, the mightiest of literary folklore heros, approaches King Hrothgar and humbly asks if he can taste the king's infamous mead. Now, let me interrupt here and note that Beowulf is presented along with very thick accents, so the word "mead" is essentially indiscernible from the word "meat." This became interesting the moment the kings wife replied, what we all heard as, "There have been many a brave soldier come to taste my husband's meat."
At this point, I, along with my fellow movie goers, bursted out laughing.
I just don't know. Was it on purpose? I'm just not certain. No matter what the case, Beowulf is filled with numerous other intentional innuendo's, which are often more awkward than funny.
When it comes down to it, the whole movie is stilted by a sense of awkwardness. The animation, although being quite beautiful, ironically fails to capture the majority of the main performances by often hindering the characters with lifeless, passive eyes. The voices, provided by a host of tremendously talented actors such as Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, John Malcovitch, and even Crispin Glover, remain the predominant source of life for these characters.
I would say within a year or two, this method of animation could be perfected and put into truly spectacular use. Beowulf, unfortunately, just feels soulless. Although it looks cool, is entertaining, and probably worth the ten bucks to go see, the experience is just hollow.

12.07.2007

Animals Mix-N-Match

In this day and age we don't even need to use actual science to know that all animals will someday evolve/mutate into truly awesome killing machines. So I've spent a solid two weeks putting together these composite diagrams of the most disturbing animals of the future.









To be fair, I did steal most of these from X-Men 3. Obviously, these animals do not characterize what some may refer to as "intelligent design," but I think if these drawings are a sign of things to come, we may have a lot to worry about. Studies show that the Japanese may already be working on a Rocket Wizard as we speak. I hear they have their top research team on it right now:

12.05.2007

Tell Me What's Wrong With This

I love them. I really do. but as I stated previously, I still don't understand the Japanese and probably never will. Some people have taken offense to this fact. Please, before judging me, you must realize that I don't even understand most Americans. So I need you to help me out by counting exactly how many things are wrong with the following video:



Yes. That was a lot of scrolling text. But apparently that's not the only problem with this video. Apparently two chefs were actually fired because of this. Can you guess what it was?
That's right. There's too much friggin beef on that rice bowl.
At least there is according to the Yoshinoya D&C Co. who apparently consider it a great dishonor to pile six heaping spoonfuls of food onto another food.
“It’s just a disgrace to treat food this way,” said Yoshinoya official Haruhiko Kizu, adding that the clip made him “feel sick in the stomach.”
I'm sorry. Excuse me Mr. Yingyangpewpew, here in America we don't consider activities like this "disgraceful." In fact, we THRIVE off of it. Here in the states those two men would have medals by now and be serving double the serving size, that's right, TWELVE heaping spoonfuls, at one of them fancy pants restaurants. You know, Arby's or somewhere.
Although, I have to admit, I still respect these people. After all, who knows the concept of disgrace better than a country where they sell such amazing products as this:



or this...



Did you see everything in that? Yeah, a pizza stuffed with:

* mayonnaise
* king crab
* shrimp
* beef w/ demi-glace sauce
* broccoli
* onion
* corn
* egg
* potato

And only for $32!
I said it before, but I'll say it again. I love the Japanese. I may have no idea what the frick they're doing, but I love those guys. This is a culture where I honestly think I belong. It's like a giant fraternity, where instead of weired initiation rituals you have to eat Mayo stuffed pizza for the rest of your life. It's beautiful.
Excuse me while I vomit my entire insides.

12.04.2007

How To Lose My Respect In The Fewest Words Possible

I consider myself fairly accepting of most people. Even if I don't agree with them or even like them, I will generally let them be. However, there are a few exceptions which I deemed necessary to place here, in my blog, which is a format notoriously known for pointless rants. Here are the top things someone can say to set me off.

How To Lose My Respect In The Fewest Words Possible



1. "Oh! Full House! I LOVE that show!"

A shorter version of this would be "I love Full House," or "Full House is the best," however neither of these are acceptable. Full House was a terrible, terrible show. In fact Full House and good do not belong in the same sentence. the show was actually originally named House of Comics and was about three comedians living together. Once ABC realized someone was trying to make an original show that was funny and entertaining, they proceeded to turn it into crap by blatantly stealing the storyline from Three men and A Baby, except adding more suck. I can't blame them though, who would think a show about a comedian living in an apartment with a host of colorful characters would be funny or successful? Oh. right. Well, critics noted how terribly unfunny Full House was, however since it had two twins on it people watched it anyway.
Full House does have some merit in its good family values, which obviously benefited the stars of the show who grew on to all be exceptional crack addicts.



2. "Citizen Kane is the best film ever made."

Comments like these are made everyday, and they are never really opinions. People state this as a fact, as if I should consider Citizen Kane to be the best film ever made. Why is this? Because people liked Full House and learned from an early age that they should never have their own opinion. I was a film major until every person I met told me Citizen Kane was the best movie ever. This made me realize how corrupt the film industry was, not with crime but with blatant a-holes. How did I try to confront this? I stated my own opinion. "I disagree," I said, "I think Dumb and Dumber is the best movie ever." To which they snapped back in a single breath "How can you say that?! Didn't you get the symbolism of Rosebud being the sled?!" Yeah, thanks for ruining the ending you d-bag. That's how bad Citizen Kane is, you don't even have to watch it to know how it ends. Man I hate film majors.



3. "I love My Humps!" "I watch BET." "Money in da Bank!"

Sorry man, or girl. While some rap is undoubtedly excellent, the majority is mindless idiotic dribble produced in a matter of minutes by vastly over payed, over hyped, hedonistic morons who are responsible in part for the downfall of our modern civilization. It's awful, truly and utterly terrible. Not to mention, it's all the exact same. Here's how to make an instant rap hit: choose any three random notes (maybe only two if your really lazy), repeat them, talk about booty/money/guns/drugs/alcohol, brag about how much you have of said possessions, make a music video, ride in biggest car you can find while waving and having sex with said possessions, get money, repeat. There. Everything I hate about current music.



4. "I don't care what you want to watch, the GAME is on."

This is the one I'll get the most heat about, and I will and have accepted that. I just don't get it. I don't get sports. Maybe hockey, I like how they fight. Other than that I see no purpose whatsoever in moving back and forth to achieve some arbitrary goal of which there is no beneficial purpose. Okay, so you have a bunch of friends over to watch it, can you imagine how many better things you and your friends could be doing? Just about anything in my book. "Oh wow, that guy is bouncing a ball, did you guys know Full House is on?" Yeah. That's right. I'd rather watch Full House than basketball. For me it's like choosing one level of hell over another. "Oh fire and brimstone? I think I'll just go for the pitchforks, thanks." The only problem is, I CAN'T BECAUSE YOUR TAKING UP THE TV, Eric. Geeze.



5. "You can't only have four things on your list, you have to round it out to five."

Yeah, thanks a lot for reminding me. I forgot about the five-by-five rule. Five things I love, ten things I want, when did we specify what numbers were aesthetically pleasing?! To be honest, i don't really mind this rule, I just felt as though I needed to wind things up. But still, it can be a little annoying, right? Right?

Michael Clayton Review



Michael Clayton
***--

Michael Clayton is what he is, and you can say just about the same for this movie of the same name. The man is the best at what he does. In fact, he is exceptional at it. The only problem is, no one is exactly sure what that is. In his words, he's a "janitor." He cleans up the legal mess others leave behind.
The film follows it's subject, Michael, as he is given the task of dampening the flames spurred by his former friend, and legal juggernaut, Arthur, who previously caused a significantly uncomfortable uproar at a deposition meeting and now threatens to make a very profitable and quiet case very public.
Michael Clayton is a legal drama. It is straight from the hardcover bindings of a Grisham novel. I myself have never been much interested in legal dramas, and as such am somewhat unable to provide a review which would be helpful to those who are. What I can say is that I liked Michael Clayton, the movie and the character. In fact, it's easy to say that what I liked best about this film are all the characters. They are brought so vibrantly to life by such vivid and exciting performances. The movie is filled with notoriously great actors such as the brilliant Tom Wilkinson, who in this case opens an entire Pandora's box of emotion through the course of the film. Without them the entire experience would have been an entirely forgettable experience.
Unfortunately for me, the film remains only slightly above that. While the performances are engaging, the dialogue tightly written, and the cinematography expertly handled, I know that after a couple weeks I will have completely forgotten about Michael Clayton. It's a shame, because it really is a fine film. It just is barely recognizable to me. However, I would still highly recommend seeing it. The film is highly intelligent and is immersing. Ten dollars worth might be a stretch, but a weekend rental is a definite thumbs up. Wait for it.

11.27.2007

Margot At The Wedding - Movie Review

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Margot At The Wedding
*----

This is a tough one for me. If you read my review of Darjeeling Limited you would know that I had high expectations for Noah Baumbach's new film Margot At The Wedding. Really high expectations. In my defense, his track record is tremendous. If you haven't seen every single one of his earlier films (Kicking and Screaming, Mr. Jealousy, Squid and the Whale) then I suggest you spend a weekend catching up, because I can sincerely recommend watching every one. But now we find ourselves with Margo At The Wedding, a film which I can not recommend anyone seeing without a seared conscience and a heaping spoonful of self loathing.
With that in mind, I must say, Margot At The Wedding is not a "bad" movie. At least not in the technical sense. I will point out what nearly every other reviewer will take note of. The acting is tremendous. The cinematography is striking and beautiful. The editing is tight and well done. In fact, just about every aspect of this film is well designed and expertly executed.
The trouble is with it's content.
Noah Baumbach has already proven himself to be an adept and brilliant writer. Even with his film Mr. Jealousy, his most prominent mainstream creation, he managed to create brilliantly clever dialogue, intriguing characters, and a creative storyline. And it worked. In his latest work, his refined skills are evidently portrayed. In my most favorite scene of the film the two leading characters, Margot (Nicole Kidman) and her sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) have an extended conversation while moving room to room. The scene is otherwise normal, with an exception to the fact that Margot appears to shut each window only a short time after Pauline opens it. Neither character mentions it, and it is fairly easy to overlook. What Noah does is he creates metaphors out of seemingly minute details. This scene illustrates the constant push and shove sibling rivalry which is ignored, yet constantly apparent. It's brilliant, but again, it's easy to overlook. While I'm all for subtle details, the movie severs all ties with it's greater audience as often as it can.
The closest I can come to describing the film is by saying it is the relational equivalent to Hostel. While you wont see anyone jam needles into peoples eyes, you will see people tear at each others emotional soft spots and expose their most hidden weaknesses. It causes the same kind of cringing, but whereas a film like Hostel can scratch that sickening itch, Margot causes you to break out into emotional hives which will reasonably not be relieved by the film's close.
Here's what Margot At The Wedding is. It's a great course in Film 101. Some wold call it a great character study. Frankly, it's a good lesson in what you can do in movies, but are better off avoiding. No doubt, this film will gain some followers. Those individuals will no doubt be college film majors and old people living in Bethesda MD. Unfortunately, I hate both of those people. Logically, I have no choice but to hate Margot at the Wedding. Save the ten bucks.

11.21.2007

Dear Jane Austen, You Suck.

So I was in Barnes and Noble yesterday, in the romance section as always, and I couldn't help noticing something peculiar. It seemed that every book I looked at was the exact same. I thought, surely Zack, this can't possible be! Verily I tell you, It was!
Now, I understand. Some people like the same authors. Some people even like the same books. What I have come to realize are these facts:

1. All women love Jane Austen

2. All women love Pride and Prejudice

3. All women are in love with Mr. Darcy

4. I am not Mr. Darcy.

These statements are all logically sound. Every woman really does love Jane Austen, and as a result, will spend the rest of their lives in pursuit of a fictional male character. I know what you would say, there must be exceptions to this rule. Right now I'll tell you, there aren't. I know this because I have previously learned rule number 5, all women are lying. You better be writing this down.
So if you don't believe me when I say every book was the same, let me supply you with a small fraction of books I came across:











There are literally HUNDREDS of these with varying titles.

Now, I'm going to come under attack for this. I know that. But being the first man to stumble across this vast network of a romantic novel conspiracy, the truth must be revealed.
Every girl book ever written IS Pride and Prejudice.
That's it. It's the same exact novel, cut and pasted, word for word. We just never realized this because the books bored the crap out of us. Heck, I don't think girls even know what it's about. It's like a virus, once exposed they are forced to re-read (and rewrite) the same book over and over again. Still don't believe me? Rent Vanity Fair. There. Told you. Same friggin story. Some women try to get creative and paste the chapters in a different order.
Nice try women, but you can't pull the wool over MY eyes.
Here's a little novel I decided to write:



BOOM. Instant bestseller.

11.13.2007

No Country For Old Men Review



No Country For Old Men
*****

One reviewer referred to it as taking all the lovable characters from "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" placing them in the desert, and essentially killing all of them. Frankly, that just about sums it up for No Country For Old Men, the latest in the line of movies from the Coen brothers since the ill-received Lady Killers. Of course this film has much more of a message going for it beyond "kill this, kill that," but at the same time I'm willing to question whether or not that really is such a great thing.
Say what you want, perhaps it is my own personal taste, but let's face it, the killing really makes this movie what it is. What the Coen brothers have excelled in is building up a tremendous storyline, and then showing us what would happen if it were to simply be torn to shreds. It is tremendously entertaining to watch. Take for example one spectacular shootout on the abandoned streets of a small town (I'm not giving anything away here). There is this unbridled man vs. man conflict, only met by the equally foreboding tension proceeding it. The ensuing fight is so bracing and jarring, you can't help but get involved yourself. For many films, moments like these are necessarily built up with long, drawn out, scenes of exposition meant to define character. Here, the characters are fleshed out in ways which are engaging and often terrifying. The highlight for me is one piece of dialog between the main antagonist, a merciless hitman, and a simple hearted gas attendant, who is faced with a fifty fifty shot at life or death.
I really feel no need to point how magnificent Javier Bardem is, or how wonderful his supporting actors Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin shine, because nothing needs to be said (and I'm sure every other critic will take liberties to say it). They're all great.
So here is my only gripe with No Country For Old Men, and that is my slight disappointment that the movie had to have some kind of message to it. Yeah, I get it's based off a book, and yes, messages do tend to help benefit the viewer beyond the theater. Still, I couldn't help but imagine how amazing No Country For Old Men could have been if it was made as a straight for the gut thriller. All those moments of tension and action are abruptly shifted to aid a message, which, I presume is probably about our need for tension and action. Maybe the film was to provide insight to the violence of man, and the violent nature of man's mind. Hmm, profound. But who cares? I already know the human mind wants to see violence, heck, that's one reason why most people would spend ten bucks to see a movie about a soulless killing machine. This is what we prepared ourselves for, so frankly, I would prefer to see a movie that built up to a big finale, rather than the deus ex machina we are already aware of.
What this film amounts to is a standard Shakespearian tragedy in structure, which in itself is a feat. The standard elements of a tragic hero, a villain, even one remaining character which signifies hope or wisdom. As one definition says, "a story of exceptional calamity, leading to the death of a man of high estate." In their definition of what men can consider "high estate" the Coen brothers have found a truly great film. I highly recommend watching it.

10.30.2007

The Top of the Bottom (most underrated movies)

We've all listed those numerous films we deem to be overrated. Whether it is those films praised by critics, or those with die hard cult followings, the fact of the matter is once something becomes popular, no matter how good it actually is, the subject itself becomes marred by it's following. For this reason we tend to criticize and focus on films such as Lost In Translation, Sideways, or anything by Wes Anderson, in order to justify the attention we provide for them. Ironically, this just causes us to focus more heavily on those films and cast aside others. For this reason I have decided to compile a short list of some of the most underrated films which were unfortunately ignored in spite of their brilliance or were simply misunderstood.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?!
(1988)
Yes, this classic film was a wild success when it was released, earning over double it's investment at it's initial box office gross. Without a doubt it was entertaining, but who could have guessed that twenty years later it would still stand as a benchmark in special effects. In fact, there has never been a better or more convincing combination of live-action film and traditional animation since this film's initial release. To top it off, the film was also incredibly well written, combining slap-stick comedy with an authentic film-noir mystery. It is easily one of the most post-modern films in existence, and you got to take your kids to see it. No matter how successful this film was in the box office, it was still the most underrated films of it's time and remains one of the most influential.

This one did well for itself. But it did influence some poor knock-offs that distracted movie goers, such as:
Space Jam (1996)



Mr. Jealousy
(1997)
I was given a copy of Mr. Jealousy and laughed at the box art. It honestly looks like something you'd find inside of a dollar bin at Wall-Mart. But once I started watching it, I realized I was watching a thoroughly charming, hilarious, and entirely artistic piece of film making. The movie was written and directed by Noah Baumbach, and anyone who knows who that is already has probably already seen Mr. Jealousy, or at least one of his other more notable films The Squid and the Whale and the brilliant Kicking and Screaming (no, you damned fool, not that piece of crap Kicking and Screaming with Will Farrell). He already has a fairly big following after his collaborated work with Wes Anderson, but ironically his most mainstream film is the one most frequently forgotten. Mr. Jealousy is charming in all the right ways and, yet, it fully captures the intricacies and troubles inherit with relationships. It is rare to find a film such as this where the characters are so utterly fleshed out and lively. The performances are just amazing as well, especially by the tragically underrated Chris Eigeman. I honestly would say, without any intention of sounding like an elitist film prick, that this may be one of his finest works.

Why it was overlooked:
Bottle Rocket



Treasure Planet
(2002)
There was Mulan, then Atlantis, then Lilo and Stich, and then Treasure Planet. Although Lilo caught the little one's attention, most people stopped watching after Atlantis. I can't blame them. Well, actually, I can. Because all of those people missed out on one of the finest and utterly beautiful Disney films in the past ten years of animation. Although the prospects of Treasure Island in, um, *cough* space *cough* may turn some people away with confused looks of perplexion, in retrospect the film in it's entirety is possibly the most profound metaphor for old technology in the new age. Take into account that this was one of Disney's last traditional cell-animated films before the animation department was entirely disbanded. Also take into account that the film was almost (quite literally in some cases) split down the center between 2D animation and CGI. The story alone is one that holds up and bravely, boldly, faces the subject of chasing dreams in the face of a troubling reality. The only individuals I have ever met who have criticized Treasure Planet are those who have never watched it. For them I feel tremendous pity.

Reasons it was ignored:
Previous Disney films
New Pixar Films

Dark City
(1998)
I actually remember watching a trailer for Dark City before it's release, seeing the strange characters, surreal set designs, and vague premise, and thinking "That's one I can miss." And I did. For a long time. Then, for some reason beyond me, the VHS copy of the film turned up in my house four years later, quite inexplicably, and ended up being watched. To my great surprise, I ended up seeing one of the most original and beautiful filmed science fiction works in recent memory. To put it simply, there really was no way to market this one. The story is one that is better experienced than through a two minute trailer. My best shot at summarization is that the main character wakes up in a city of perpetual darkness, without any memory of who he was, or hint of his previous life, except for the fact that there is a dead woman in his hotel room. Describing the rest is quite honestly absurd, but the logic of the film tends to make sense on it's own.
The film does have a few problems, but that isn't why it was pushed aside by moviegoers. You have to remember, this movie came out in 1999, on the heels of another certain sci-fi film which challenged reality.

Why it was overlooked:
The Matrix (1999)




Top Secret
(1984)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, say what you want, but before Val Kilmer exploded in popularity (mainly as Goose in a certain Top Gun) he was in this little doosey by the Zucker brothers. Of course, when placed between Airplane and The Naked Gun, it simply pales in comparison, but on it's own Top Secret is without a doubt one of the most original slapstick comedies in existence. Even if you don't entirely enjoy it(which is hard to imagine), you will without a doubt end up wondering what movie it was where they had an underwater western bar fight, or which one had that scene filmed entirely in reverse, or where they dressed up like a cow to infiltrate a base. Well, all those moments and more were in Top Secret. All in all, Top Secret is memorable simply for it's hilarious, but strangely surreal imagery. It consistently surprises, (literally) shattering one enemy when you expect it the least. In short, it's brilliant.

Reasons it was overlooked:
Airplane (1980)
Naked Gun (1988)



Pumpkin
(2002)
Ever heard of it? Yeah, neither had I. It's not surprising considering it's one of the most subversive, risky, and satirical films I have ever seen. And oh yeah, it might also be absolutely brilliant. The story focuses on Carolyn McDuffy, who is considered the "perfect" college student until her sorority decides to coach a mentally disabled team for a competition against another house. This is all fine and grand, until Carolyn falls in love with her parter, Pumpkin, a challenged discus thrower. What follows is hard to describe, suffice it to say that the film runs the gamut from "after school special" to practically slapstick. In spite of the irony, it is actually one of the most intellectually challenging films I have ever encountered, which is quite honestly why you may have trouble finding many other viewers who actually "get" it. Take for example a message board I came across on IMDB on which a group debated over the realism of a certain over-the-top car crash that takes place in the film. Only one person suggested it was for comedic value, and believe me when I say, it most certainly was. Still, I am tempted to let you know that I can easily imagine someone hating Pumpkin. I don't know how, it really is adorable in many ways. Still, I can see it. For me, I found it uplifting, challenging to popular opinions and beliefs, intelligent, charming, and ultimately hilarious. I mean, it is really, really, funny. The film is keenly self aware of what it is, and exactly what it is not. With that in mind, the movie stretches it's own boundaries by poking fun of itself. Whether you like it or not, it sticks with you, and for that reason I cannot recommend seeing this film more and makes it to the top of my list of most underrated, and forgotten, films.

A film responsible for this film's unfortunate lack of an audience:
Election (1999)



The Iron Giant
(1999)
Since it's original release, the Iron Giant has indeed grown to find true lovers of it's unabashed sensitivity, charm and undeniable heart. As a film it stands as an exemplary piece of storytelling, and with that it can occasionally be found referenced by a handful of scholars and critics. Still, there are people who have never seen the Iron Giant, and refuse to, either for their dislike for traditional animation, childish wonder, or science fiction. What they miss out on is one of the most compelling explorations of the human condition, the soul, and even metaphysical ideas. It really is one of the most intelligent films I have ever seen, and one of those mainstream films that unfortunately was swept away in the tide of CGI. It proves itself to be not only one of the best animated films, but one of the best films overall.

Reasons why:
Toy Story 2 (1999)
Tarzan (1999)
Matrix (1999)


Of course there are many more, many I haven't seen in several years. I'm sure the violent and entertaining, yet intelligent and decidedly self-aware, Starship Troopers fits on here. Still, this could go on for ages, and as long as there are popular films, there will also be films that are misunderstood.

10.10.2007

Halloween T-Shirts

So, I need to make a t-shirt design for Halloween (not necessarily a generic one) but am having a hard time deciding. Here are a couple ideas:







Post which one you like the most, or even better, an idea of your own.

10.03.2007

The Darjeeling Limited - Movie Review

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The Darjeeling Limited
****

In this day and age, it's hard to criticize a Wes Anderson film without feeling like a film snob. It's all too easy to say I loved it, and even easier to say I hated it. I could perhaps show off to those ignorant film-major chumps and talk about how this latest work by Anderson appears to be heavily influenced by Whit Stillman's Barcelona, and that it perhaps falls short of that film's intimate exploration of friendship and family in a foreign world. I'm not going to though, because what Wes Anderson, along with Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman, have crafted is a thoroughly enjoyable and charming film that is bitingly honest and meaningful at its very core.
The story we are initially presented with is the meeting of three brothers on a passenger train in India, adequately named The Darjeeling Limited. These brothers, played by Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman, have not spoken to each other in over a year. Through the means of abruptly violating the others trust they reveal their own stories, or at least their version of it, with whatever details they so decide to leave out. What follows is their journey of coming to grasp with death, denial, and family. You know, everything in The Royal Tannenbaum's, but this time with snakes, tigers, and trains.
While the subject matter is certainly not unheard of for a Wes Anderson film, the story is carried by its characters who each capture your interest with undeniable charm and originality. They are strikingly easy to connect with, yet quirky enough to consistently bring entertainment. Even more impressive is the methods in which they further develop. In this aspect the film hits an emotional string that emanates long after it is over.
So I could be a really terrible person and point out the obvious artistic correlations between the characters emotional baggage and their actual luggage, or a number of obvious visual metaphors thrown about the screen, but I won't. Instead I will say that the film is an overall wonderful addition to the Wes Anderson library and won't really let you down, that is, unless you expected something completely different. In that case I will act like a film prick and suggest waiting for Noah Baumbach's new film.
In the meantime, however, see it.

10.02.2007

Resident Evil: Extinction Review



Resident Evil: Extinction
**

The only question you may ask in regards to Resident Evil: Extinction, the fourth film in the series, is the dreaded question "Why?" Why do we need closure to a series about flesh eating zombies? Why should I see this movie if it is anything like the previous installments? Why does the main character have superpowers now? The answer, my friend, is "Why NOT?" This applies to all of the above, and then some.
There really is no reason to apply any type of rationalization to it. Yes, I know all the zombies were nuked at the end of Resident Evil Apocalypse. Yes, there really is no explanation for how the earth was essentially destroyed. The important thing is that now the protagonist of this story, Alice, can lift really heavy things and blow stuff up with her mind. I know, I know, that makes her "smokin'" in more ways than one. That, in a nutshell, is the entire experience.
I feel no need to explore the narrative further than zombies meet Milla Jovovich in the desert and they fight. Despite there being two previous installments, and countless video games, the back story is practically meaningless considering how much it swerves between mindless action and convoluted science fiction. Notice how I didn't mention horror. Here is Resident Evil's most meaningful (certainly not the most evident) downfall. Despite there being nine Resident Evil video games in circulation, the movie ignores every single one in pursuit of a below-sub-par action flick. The reason for this is that good horror requires you as a viewer to become emotionally invested in the characters, to mentally take the darkness into consideration and fear for human safety. It requires intelligence. This film was not made with, or for, that kind of viewing. In fact, I was astounded during the last ten minutes of the film to discover that Milla Jovovich actually has lines of dialogue. She performs them well, but my shock of actually hearing her voice left me incapable of determining a single syllable. I'm sure I didn't miss much.
Although we are used to the third film being the last in the series, I can fortunately say that this one is still left open ended enough to allow for future installments. So while you may be asking yourself how a flock of crows could pick through every block of Las Vegas, or how the evil Umbrella Corporation was able to outsmart every zombie with a (gasp!) chain link fence, or why everyone just doesn't chill out, the answer may be on it's way in the form of another sequel...
Or not.
But boy are those crows cool!

See it if you like zombies as much as I do.

9.27.2007

Into The Wild - Movie Review

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Into The Wild
*

It's hard to review a movie based off a book based off a true story conveyed through sparse first person accounts and second hand perceptions, but I'm going to try anyway. It's easy to look at this film and give it a solemn respect, if only in accordance to those who are dead. This respect however is hard to reconcile in conjunction with the subject of the film, Chris McCandles, during his somewhat haphazard and definitely confused journey across land and sea, and it is a respect I will temporarily remove so that I can adequately criticize his fictionalized counterpart.
I apologize if my earlier comment ruined the movie for you. If you don't want to believe the subject of this film is doomed, you can come to a similarly deductive conclusion by listening to the films narration, provided by the protagonists fictionalized sister in past tense, or watch the trailer, or just read the book. In fact there is no way you wouldn't expect this young man's inevitable fate unless you fell asleep from the start. I wouldn't blame you. The movie is two and a half hours long. Believe me, it feels much longer.
In case you haven't heard it already, here is my summarized version of Into the Wild:
Chris McCandles, or the self proclaimed "Supertramp," begins his journey into manhood as a recent college graduate well known for his crazy-go-nuts behavior such as jumping really high onto a stage to receive his diploma and quoting Tolstoy. Oh my, what a card! Sick and tired of his parents offering him a new car to replace his old one, Chris-or should I say Supertramp, decides he's going to abandon his loved ones and trek across the country.
Shut up, that's why.
In an effort to stick it to a wasteful consumerist society, Chris bravely burns all his money, ditches his car, and then gives all his college savings (I presume provided by his parents) to charity.
In perhaps his most valiant act, Chris proves his bravery by reading every book by Thoreau without looking at cliff notes once and then goes on to quote it to every poor bastard that crosses his path, even if it doesn't relate at all to the current conversation.
Those poor souls hold the very heart of this film with absolutely fantastic performances by Vince Vaughn, Kristen Stewart, Zach Galifianakis, Catherine Keener, Brian Dierker, and the wonderful Hal Holbrook. Even those portraying Candles family are powerful in their presence, especially the gripping William Hurt and subtle Jena Malone. In fact, just about every character and person in this film is wonderful when they appear on screen, everyone except the main protagonist, who just shows up kind of like that guy at a party who no one wants to admit they really hate.
The entire movie is essentially this: It's like one of those online viral videos of a guy doing something really stupid out in nature, except longer and with less meaning.
The protagonist, although faced with numerous brave souls who have actually seen life, instead ignores their apparent wisdom and instead attempts to provide his own, which never goes far beyond "You can do anything," but sounds more like "Look how strong I am." The most tragic part is that these people appear to actually listen to him.
There are strong overtones of overcoming family struggles and abuse. Even these ring hallow as our only evidence of this is provided by a hallow narration by the protagonists sister which isn't as expository as it is awkward. Brief flashbacks illustrate it, but it never goes far beyond a paper thin excuse for the main character's actions.
His memories of his family certainly appear to affect Chris, as is apparent when he audibly curses his father while in isolation during his last few weeks. The film skims a number of moral themes, notably happiness as a shared experience, yet never manages to develop it. Of course the main character realizes how great other people are, but you can't help but wonder whether this is a lesson learned, or a sudden realization that maybe someone else could help him pick the right berries next time.
What the realization should be is that forgiveness is the bravest act of all, for others as well yourself. His lack of forgiveness, for his family, friends, and society as a whole, drove him out into the wild, literally tore him apart and ultimately led to his death. Instead of sacrificing his pride, he instead choose to heed his own hedonistic desires and live entirely for himself out in the wild.
Why in the world does this film respect this kid? Why would anyone see his actions as bravery instead of cowardice?
This is an exceptionally well shot film. It often looks beautiful. As a film, it is actually okay. As a moral or even intelligent example, I fear for whatever influence it may have. For that I feel the duty to give it a terrible review.
If you want to see a meaningful and underrated adventure film I suggest the brilliantly constructed Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. This, on the other hand, is hollow at its core.
Don't bother.

9.25.2007

New Old Reviews - Zombie Edition

I haven't made a post in a while, mainly because I haven't been able to get to any movie screenings between work an classes. No movie screenings means no movie reviews, so I've kinda been stuck with just posting crazy Japanese videos.
I have on the other hand been able to watch tons of Netflix movies, which, although entertaining, are somewhat too old to provide an informative review. However, a good movie is a good movie, so I thought I'd share my thoughts regarding two horror films I watched this past week.

Slither
*****

Dawn Of The Dead (remake)
****

In case you didn't know it already, these two films are connected through the same writer, James Gunn who also directed Slither. I do want to point out the director of Dawn of the Dead, Zack Snyder, who has a very classy and attractive first name. His name aside, he also happens to be a tremendously talented director who knows his genre in and out.
Let's start out by saying Slither is by no means a good movie. The idea itself is reminiscent of what you might have seen in the corner of a Blockbuster store gathering dust between copies of Species 4 and 5. What Slither is on the other hand, is a great experience. In fact it's one of the greatest experiences I've had watching a movie in a long time. So keep that in mind when I explain that it is about flesh eating slugs from outer space that quickly latch themselves to the brains of unfortunate humans and turns them into mindless zombies who serve an alien lord who also has acquired a human vessel.
Did you catch all that? Yeah. It has everything. Gross slugs, violated humans, zombies, aliens, more zombies, and especially zombies.
So I guess you wouldn't want to bring a date to it. But then again, for such an unnerving subject, the characters are surprisingly human. Nathan Fillion in the role of the town sheriff is tremendous here, as he has already proven himself with Firefly, Serenity, and his numerous television appearances. Elizabeth Banks also shines. What the movie gets absolutely right is it's characters, who although frequently show lapses in logic, are surprisingly realistic and charming in their quirks. They are genuinely interesting and as a result they move the story and you along with it.
On the other side of the spectrum we have Dawn of The Dead, a remake of the original film of the same title. Whereas Slither genuinely provided a charming experience by finding a soft spot in your heart, Dawn manages to find a different soft spot by punching you in the stomach. In my opinion, this is one of the most grittiest and most epic zombie films I've seen.
But you don't have to watch the whole thing.
In fact the first fifteen minutes will suffice, because quite frankly, this movie has possibly the best first fifteen minutes of any horror film, and maybe any film documented. This of course is the beginning segment in which zombies first begin to make their terrible presence known. I won't explain it, because I simply cannot do it justice, but I will say the randomly exploding van made me realize I was watching movie history.
Apart from that however, the film somewhat stutters halfway through while the group of survivors decide to turn their poorly thought out plan of escape into a reality. As a writer, i understand the need for your characters to keep moving, but as an audience member you can't help but feel like they don't really have a reason to leave. Why don't they just take the advice from Shawn of the Dead and go to the pub until the whole thing "just blows over?" But maybe I'm thinking it over way too much. The exploding heads should be enough.
See both of them, but if you only have room for one in your queue, I'd go with Slither.

9.18.2007

Super Crazy Japanese Ad Game - round two!

It's been a long time, but I think we can finally start a new round of playing "Super Crazy Japanese Ad Game!"
If you aren't aware of what that game is, let me explain the rules.

1. Look at the beginning frame or first few seconds and guess the specified product being advertised before the ad ends.
2. Try to understand exactly what is going on.

Let's begin!
We'll start with an easy one:


1.


Tomattomattomat-toKetchupa!


2.
What. The. Srap.


3.
Completely tasteless.


4.
Completely tasty.


5.
Just scary


6.
I still don't get it.


Fortunately, all it takes is a sense of humor to get these milk commercials, which are in fact, very funny:

9.11.2007

Air Guitar Champion Releases the "Tiger"




Yep, I know it's the biggest issue that's been on your mind: The Air Guitar World Championship has just ended. It was a long strenuous journey, but for all those Pseudo-postmodernist-punk-rocking mimes out there, their hard work has finally paid off.

Here's the winner of this years competition, the returning champion Ochi Dainoji Yosuke.



However, his rivals were worthy opponents. Here are my favorite ones, as featured on youtube.

This guy gives the classic "Monkey wrench" the old air-five.






Of course, the night is never over until the Free Bird sings. This clip is actually from the 2006 competition, but is no less charming as all the air-guitar champions are united to play the one song no one is cocky enough to go alone.

9.07.2007

Trailer of The Week: AVP 2

If you don't know what AVP stands for already, then I can easily tell you won't get it.
That said, this is one of the most violent trailers I've ever seen, and I am friggin pumped.

9.05.2007

3:10 To Yuma Movie Review

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3:10 To Yuma Review
*****


From the 1930’s up to the 1960’s, the American western was the most popular film genre in existence. Since then the genre itself has slipped into somewhat of a niche market, nestled quietly behind classic film noir and the ever-popular kung-fu genres. 3:10 To Yuma was written as a short story by Elmore Leonard and appeared in 1957 as a feature film directed by Delmar Daves. The film was immensely popular, especially in Cuba where it is reported that for a time all Americans and non-Hispanics were called “Yumas.” However, I can’t blame you if you’ve never heard of it. I never actually watched it either. But like most classic westerns you’ve never seen, this one influenced many films beyond it.
Now, over fifty years later, we have the remake of 3:10 To Yuma, and despite the fact that I never actually saw it’s predecessor, I’m just going to go ahead and say this is not only the definitive version, but one of the best westerns in recent memory. This time it’s directed by James Mangold, who also directed the highly acclaimed Walk The Line, and is beautifully photographed by cinematographer Phedon Papamichael. While the film itself is pieced together expertly, its execution was plagued with problems. The production of the film was initially burdened by a freak snowstorm that covered the “barren” town with two feet of snow, which had to be removed and covered with new dirt. Keep an eye out for the “no animals were harmed” notice as well, considering that on the first day of filming a rider and his horse collided with a camera carrying vehicle, badly injuring the rider and resulting in the horse being euthanized on set.
Problems in production aside, the result is a wonderful looking, authentic, and expertly crafted film. The story takes place in drought-plagued Arizona, where Dan Evans, a civil war veteran played by Christian Bale, struggles to make a living with his wife and two sons. Meanwhile, the infamous Ben Evans, played by Russell Crowe, arrives in town to rob his twenty-second Southern Railroad cart. The notorious outlaw is captured in town, but his gang of murderous thieves wishes to prove their allegiance by helping him out. So while the cool Ben relaxes in the presence of the law, the heat grows ever higher for hired escorts like Dan.
What the film succeeds in doing is making each character cool and dynamic. Russell Crowe and Christian Bale play their roles so keynote perfectly that the audience immediately understands the high-wire balancing act they play between their morals and their responsibilities as human beings. The performances are in and of themselves provoking and worth watching, but the film is so well written that we are provided with equal amounts of action, black humor and dramatic intensity to consistently keep us interested.
What the film captures is that lawless, yet morally torn spirit evident in the revisionist westerns or “anti-westerns” of the classic genre. It certainly provides echoes of classics such as High Noon, and of course The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, but more importantly the film is a classic western in it’s own right and may be a sign of the return of this great genre itself. See it.

9.04.2007

Back from Mehico!

Well, the family vacation is over and now the blogging can begin once again. For those who don't know, the whole Newcott clan took a trip down the California coast to old Mexicana (that's Italian for Mexico). The important thing is that we're all back.
While I try to edit a little vacation home video, I thought I'd post a few little audio treats I found here and there among the many blogs I love to tune into to.

Here's a song by the 22-20s called Shoot Your Gun. 'Cause we all know a trip to Mexico is meaningless without celebratory gun shooting into the air.
22-20s - Shoot Your Gun

Ka-chow!

It was a long flight back home, luckily the direct TV's were on the fritz, so Jet Blue let us watch movies for free. Here's a great song about flying high called Flight 180 by Bishop Allen. I highly recommend listening to it in a dark room with headphones. It's a real cool one.

Flight 180 - Bishop Allen

Needless to say, so much family time definitely tired me out. Luckily, I was also able to spend a little time in Cali. Here's a song that kind of captures what being in California again felt like. It's by good old John Mayer.
Heart of Life - John Mayer

Is John Mayer not Indie enough for you? Well, neither are the The Killers really, but they understand with this ditty I never heard before called Indie Rock and Roll.
Indie Rock and Roll - The Killers

Surprisingly, I returned to find a beautiful day here in DC. SO here's one last piece to chill to by Donavon Frankenreiter called Beautiful Day.
beautiful day - Donavon Frankenreiter

8.21.2007

The Hunting Party Review

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The Hunting Party
****-

At the heart of The Hunting Party is one of those stories that you would hear at a dinner party, realize is one of the coolest stories you've ever heard, and then go on to tell at every other party you attend, only this time a little bit cooler than before. Well, at this party the story is being told by Richard Shepard, the director of the under appreciated The Matador.
This is the story of two journalists and one rookie reporter who arrive in post-war torn Bosnia only to become roped into a scheme to interview (or catch) the most notorious war criminal of the time. Their quest to find "The Fox" is obviously a dangerous one resulting in their unfortunate confrontations with a sketchy United Nations officer, a threatening bar tender, a menacing midget, and a soulless torturer. It is quite honestly insane, that is, considering that it is mostly true.

The rendition of this story stars the immensely talented Richard Gere, the young Jesse Eisenberg (Squid and The Whale), and Terrence Dashon Howard. While for the most part their performances are convincing and well portrayed, at times they barely manage to keep their lines from being too stale. This is more of a problem with the script than anything else. There are many occasions in this story that tend to be heavily melodramatic, usually involving lines with obvious political overtones or insightful voice overs. It's hardly distracting and at times actually works quite well, however it is something all too common in political thrillers and in this case, causes the story to ring somewhat hollow.

Of course, with all films "based on a true story," the audience is confronted with how much of a story is in fact true. In this case we are at least comforted with a disclaimer that reads: "This movie is based on actual events. Only the most ridiculous ones are true." That, along with a friendly reminder at the end to help clarify the facts, help to settle any left-over doubts. Still, you can't help but wonder about the actual people this story deals with. Unfortunately there is no documentation or evidence of the individuals themselves, in real life that is, provided in the film. Unlike the great American Splendor, a film which managed to blend the actual subjects and the actors who portray them, there is a severe lack of first hand accounts. As a result, the story is rendered the same amount of credit as though a good friend of a friend were telling you about it from across a table.
Who knows, perhaps that is the point. In any case, I was entertained and thoroughly interested up to the end. With all politics aside, it is a fascinating story. It's worth watching.

8.20.2007

Mr. Bean's Holiday Review



Mr. Bean's Holiday
*****

I will preface this review by simply stating that if you don’t get Mr. Bean, you simply “don’t get” Mr. Bean, and therefore, will in all probability not get this movie. So when you first see Mr. Bean slide the bolt lock on his miniature car, and stand cheerfully in church with his raffle ticket in hand, you better already be smiling along with him or laughing, because whether you like it or not, Bean is going on vacation.
In this film, Mr. Bean’s dialogue never goes far beyond the guttural “hello,” “choo-choo,” and the hallmark self-introduction as simply “Bean.” At the same time, it could be said that for however muted Mr. Bean is in his speech, he is immeasurably exuberant in his actions, which in this movie become exceedingly more and more intricate and at times highly choreographed. What makes every joke work though is the fact that every performer buys into each gag without any hindrance or second thought. By all means, a mock operatic performance should not be this hilarious, but Rowan Atkinson is so profoundly epic in his staging that it works tremendously well. Even the younger actors, usually a terrible weight in most “family” films, have great presence and are dealt with an adept and (in the case of Mr. Bean) careless hand.
Although there is a conceivable lack of dialogue for the most part, there is not one ounce of this film that is lazily constructed. Each choice is a smart and clever one. Even the location of the film in a foreign land is a brilliant choice as it lends Mr. Bean’s speech useless in the first place. Even without words, there is clever and strong writing evident throughout, all the way up to the clever conclusion. Whereas the previous effort to bring Bean to the big screen was essentially a rehash of old material, the majority of this adventure is all-new. Ultimately, the film itself is a fantastic journey that will at the very least enrapture the beauty of the European countryside with a cinematic flair.
As Mr. Bean’s dramatic arrival at his final destination suggests, everything works out perfectly. The film itself is brilliant in it’s design and execution. Frankly, I can’t recommend it more.

Here's Rowan Atkinson at his best:

8.17.2007

V for Vendetta Review



V For Vendetta
*----


V for Vendetta is the closest experience you may have to holding a sub-par college party in your home. At first everything seems great, there are tons of people telling great stories, and most importantly, there's a chance of seeing some action by the end of the night. Suddenly, however, everyone you hate starts to show up.
The first knock at the door is a girl, who although being very attractive, is a hard-core political activist. Her only purpose at the party is to hand out flyers and inform your guests of the horrors of war and capitalism. However, she is pretty, so you don’t mind looking at her while her lips blabber on and on about God knows what. This you can stand.
The second knock at the door is some guy named Louis who is quick to inform you and all of your friends that he is openly and proudly gay, that being gay is great, that he love’s being gay, that you should be gay too, and everyone who is anyone is gay. He also decides to hand out rainbow colored pamphlets while loudly singing songs from RENT.
The third knock is from that obscure acquaintance who refuses to smile, tell jokes, laugh, or speak above a whisper. He refuses to make any contact, yet decides to sit directly in the middle of the couch. Your friends may try to cheer him, and the atmosphere around him with light conversation, however that is quickly deadened by his random poetic quotes and literary references to minor works by famous dead authors. He too has flyers.
Finally, the last knock is from a religious activist. This guest is unique however, in that he does not provide flyers for one religion but every religion imaginable, except for Christianity, which he believes is intolerant of his “multi-religional” beliefs. You frown at the idea that he walked here in his bare feet and kindly ask him to not step on the carpet. He considers this to be discrimination however, and immediately disobeys.
And so, you find yourself knee deep in flyers, unable to move, and paralyzed in the realization that you no longer have a party, but a new-age convention of sorts.
This is essentially the experience of watching “V for Vendetta,” a film filled with so many messages, it is ironically rendered meaningless. With a lack of action, it hardly suffices as an action film. With the abundance of messages, it is overly convoluted. With a lack of humor it is soulless. With its focus on current issues, it is overexposed, trite, and uninspired drivel. All that remains is a bland still life with a pretty frame.
However, what a pretty frame it is. Natalie Portman shows off some impressive acting chops, at least in opposition to some of her earlier roles, but the real star of this picture is Hugo Weaving. In an underappreciated performance, he manages to make the frozen expression plastered across the mask of the mysterious protagonist come alive. Despite the permanent smirk, the character V manages to express his deepest sorrow through the subtlest actions. It is a difficult feat, but Weaving pulls it off impressively.
Nevertheless, the film never delivers. The antagonist in this film is a corrupt government with some very nasty secrets. The main characters, while seeking to better their country, never go much further beyond vengeance in their actions. While the means the government takes to achieve their iron-fisted rule over the people becomes clearly twisted, the movie fails to show citizens in clear duress. Every shot of a home has a nice furniture piece from Ikea, every person holds a trademark beverage, and each citizen eats his or her own breakfast in the morning. Sure, they live in fear, but the movie never really shows it beyond the obnoxious leader screaming at his officials. Right there, the film loses its credibility.
As far as the “brilliant” protagonist is concerned, his “master plan” never actually goes farther than blowing something big up.
In the end, we’re left with nothing more than a dry taste in our mouth. Nothing was gained by this experience and nothing was lost. It looks pretty, but I’ve heard this rant before. I’ve read it, watched it, and listened to it. Frankly, I don’t want to experience it again. The worst, I fear, is that now more ignorant people will think they know what they’re talking about in defense of “freedom.” Well, when it comes to this intellectual party I suggest spending less time with RENT by the stereo, and more time with Ray Bradbury by the punchbowl.

Dino-mite!

8.16.2007

Best Skittles Commercial Ever? I think yes.

Crazy Cat Pop-sensation

I honestly don't know. This may in fact be the most brilliant video I have ever seen, or the most embarrassing. Perhaps that lies entirely in the heart of the creator and where his intentions lie. However, the excessive cat licking may be part of the answer.



Where do I begin? or should I begin? What is all that stuff stockpiled in his freezer? I assume it's cat food. Enough for the cat and himself. And what of the dark dance club at the end, do his friends simply approve of his wild "cathouse" life-style? And at what risk is he putting himself licking his own cat? Although I do hear they are the cleanest animals. Does he always come out of the apartment like that? Where did he get that suit? And why, for the love of God, does he try to wink in the first place? I know he and Jar-jar Binks should exchange phone-numbers, they probably have a lot in common with their "Meesah cat's."

8.15.2007

"Be Kind Rewind" Trailer!!!

YEAH BOYEEEE!
The trailer for Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind is finally out!
I've been waiting WAY too long for this.

Rush Hour 3 Review



Rush Hour 3
*****

It’s the end of the summer, the time of the year when every movie you forgot was coming out just happens to arrive. You’ve served your duty in sitting through the elegant Harry Potter, the expensive looking Transformers, and the touching Once, but now you can finally enjoy Rush Hour 3, the new action/comedy featuring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. If you don’t know what it’s about, I can attempt to summarize it. Two LA cops, one who is African-American and one who is Chinese, are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. The movie itself is a combination of light-hearted action scenes with a hefty serving of comedy, often bordering on racist. I know what your thinking, comedy is fine with me, but racist jokes, especially pertaining to the Chinese dialect, are where I draw the rine. Werr, it’s rearry nothing to worry about, because, let’s face it, it is funny. Rearry funny. In fact, I found myserf raughing rearry hard throughout the entire firm.
The fact is, I could easily imagine someone becoming offended at any other film that attempted to make jokes such as these, but the characters in Rush Hour 3 are simply so kind and lovable, it’s hard to get angry at them. The movie itself is actually a testament to the great performances by Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan in how they are capable of creating characters so light-hearted and fun that the audience simply wants to stick around them for company. In fact, it could be said for all the jokes and sexual references in the movie that there’s hardly anything outright insulting, and in this day and age, that is quite a feat.
I can imagine it would be easy for any critic to criticize what’s wrong with Rush Hour 3; however, I’m simply at a loss for words. The movie is a sequel, specifically, the third sequel in the series. If it’s not what you’re expecting then you haven’t seen a movie in the past ten years. For me, it was everything I wanted. It is simply perfect for what it is, and if you don’t know what “it” is, then “it” is simply not for you.
What the movie certainly gets right is its characters, who are lovable right down to the supporting characters. There’s the sweet and surprisingly aggressive French cab driver, the intriguing and mysterious singer, and even the crazy knife-throwing-Asian lady has her charms. Everyone is dually accounted for, and they get their own fair share of screen time. Speaking of the screen, this film is beautifully shot too. If you’re looking for it, you’ll notice some wonderful cinematography that’ll make you wonder what director Brett Ratner will go on to do once the sequels stop rolling.
In the meantime, Rush Hour 3 is easily one of the most satisfying movies I’ve seen this summer. It’s a film that succeeds on the basis of its characters and downright creativity, which is more than you can say for many of the big budget movies to grace the screens this summer. See it.