Thursday, May 29, 2008

My 2 on Indy 4

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Release: 05.22.2008
Rated PG-13

2 hours, 4 minutes

***Updated Rating - 06.02.2008***
For Fans: Second-Run Seats ($$)
For Moviegoers: Full Price ($$$$) <> Matinee ($$$)


Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. (Harrison Ford), after a run in with the Russians and their leader Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett, The Gift), is scrutinized by the government during the height of the McCarthy communist scare. While departing for greener pastures, a young greaser by the name of Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf, Constantine) brings word that two of Indy's dear friends, 'Ox' (John Hurt, Hellboy) and Mari Williams ( Karen Allen, Raiders of the Lost Ark), have been kidnapped to help the Russians uncover the lost Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; or what people know as El Dorado. Indiana changes course, with Mutt in tow, to save his friends and perhaps uncover the secret behind the City of Gold.

I've debated a dozen different ways of writing this review. I started to just read the myriad of other posts and simply highlight those with similar views to mine. However, the handful of you that come here come looking for my opinion, so here it goes:

The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a satisfying installment in the life and times of Indiana Jones. By that I mean it satisfies the unspoken requirements of an Indy-level event; it's got the love interest, the sidekicks, the villains of the era, the larger-than-life action sequences inflated just beyond believability. These ingredients, plus his hat and whip, fuel another mystic quest of religious origin. Rumor has it director Steven Spielberg (War of the Worlds) even kept the quality of special effects in place so that Crystal Skull would feel more akin to its predecessors. That was problem number one for me. As an audience, our palates have seasoned over the last twenty years. Seeing an action film, especially one that thrives on being just on the outrageous side of plausible, is totally off-putting when it doesn't look real. As a viewer I can forgive a film made twenty-five years ago because its creators worked with what they had, but it's disappointing when the power is available and unused. I mean, damn, Lucas spent years polishing the old Star Wars, so why not give the Indiana Jones series a spit-shine?

I can forgive directorial prerogative and enjoy the spectacle and excitement. But what happened to the story development? The human element so familiar to the previous installments seems more of an afterthought. Revelations of, and reunions with, Indiana's past are squeezed into the crannies of the action, a complete detriment to the series's appeal. It's a shame because the actors are giving it their all. If you aren't going to give the character's history proper respect, then don't bother adding it to the story.

Dirty Undies
Over the years, the Indiana Jones films have gotten slimmer and slimmer in the categories of brutal violence and sex appeal, and Crystal Skull keeps up the kid-friendly trend. There's loads of bare-knuckle fighting and harrowing chases, but none of the associated bloodshed you'd imagine from the confrontations. It's easily the least violent and most chaste of the series.

The Money Shot
The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
is a worthy addition into the annals of the Indiana Jones chronology. I know it doesn't sound like it, through my nitpicking, but I loved Crystal Skull from a pure summer-movie standpoint. The inevitable comparison of the film to its brethren exposes the mystery of the Crystal Skull to be a rather weak story with a glossed-over footnote of Indiana's personal history. Simply put, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull meets the expectations of those who grew up with Dr. Jones but it does little to impress a new generation of Indiana followers.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, May 23, 2008

People I Want to Punch in the Face, Vol. 1

My wife has become disturbed at the frequency with which I have started using the phrase, "I just want to punch he/she/them in the face!" It's rather alarming at how quickly this list of punchees has grown over the last few months.

To help spread the hate, I decided to include you faithful readers into my random venting. I know it's a day or two behind the times, but to kick off my new feature it's a special three-fer; the most annoying of the recent Idol contestants!

Jason Castro

Brooke White

and last but not least...
David Archuleta

*knuckles cracking*

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Quickie: Young@Heart


Release: 04.09.2008 limited
Rated PG
1 hour, 47 minutes


is a documentary which follows the Young@Heart chorus from the beginning of their hectic seven-week rehearsal schedule until opening night in their hometown of Northampton, Massachusetts. The big deal? The chorus is comprised of members whose average age is 80 years old. Choral Director Bob Cilman started the chorus back in 1982 to perform showtunes, but its repertoire has evolved over the years to include complicated numbers by classic and contemporary rock and pop artists such as James Brown, the Clash, Sonic Youth and even Coldplay.

British filmmaker Stephen Walker caught this venerable choir's performance in London and followed them back to the States to get a behind-the-scenes look at what makes it all work. Walker interviews several choir members about their lives and why they perform. Eileen Hall is a spry 92 years old and you can tell Walker is smitten by her charms and energy immediately. Former member Fred Knittle, returning to the chorus after a long illness, is damn funny despite being tethered to an oxygen machine. Walker gets the giggles just being around him, or almost any other chorus member. Given that there are so many members in the chorus, it's clear that not all their stories could be shown within the film's runtime (and it's possible some members preferred not to be spotlighted). Walker intertwines snippets of the group's rehearsals and concerts with brief personal interviews and spices it up with a series of inventive music videos!

With only a couple of questions and a steady camera, the interviewees' tenacity and liveliness radiate onscreen. In just a brief stint, the Young@Heart chorus captivate audiences with their uplifting and heartwarming stories. Be warned that you may experience uncontrollable surges in your emotions.

Rigorous practice regimens, music video shoots, documentary interviews and world tours...I thought the Rolling Stones were the only elderly rockers able to maintain such a daunting schedule! Heck, Eileen has her own key to the nursing home so she can come and go when the attendants are sleeping. Young@Heart is a wonderful film that you shouldn't be reading about; you should be experiencing it.

P.S.- After seeing this film, check out their site to learn even more about these inspiring folks.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Other Other Boleyn Girl

I just caught wind of this story, and thanks to a running feature over at Blog Cabins labeled Fun with Sequels, was inspired to post. Turns out the semi-popular film The Other Boleyn Girl, starring the sexy, yum-yum trifecta of Eric Bana-Scarlett Johansson -Natalie Portman, is ripe for the sequel treatment!

The writer of The Other Boleyn Girl has penned another book called The Boleyn Inheritance, which will be the source material for the sequel. Instinctively I recalled the SNL skit featuring Ellen Page called The Other Other Boleyn Girl where Henry VIII not only met the two sisters but also many others. The funniest being Eunice Boleyn, played by Kristen Wiig, who returned from having sex with a horse to meet Henry.

Thinking this skit a perfect meshing of this news and Fletch's feature, I took up the search. After nearly an hour of scouring the internets to find this skit, I give up! The bitch company that NBC is has seemingly removed all links to said skit yet has made no effort to make it available for fans' consumption. For those that missed that wonderfully and aptly titled sequel, I'm sorry I couldn't provide it. But I'll be damned if I scrap this post after wasting so much time. Here's Kristen Wiig in a couple of recent SNL skits:

If you know where I can find The Other Other Boleyn Girl, hook me up!

Large Association of Movie Blogs

This Ain't No Jean-Claude Van Damme Flick


Release: 05.09.2008
Rated R

1 hour, 39 minutes

Matinee ($$$)

Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dirty Pretty Things) is a jiujitsu instructor who considers himself a true warrior at heart. After his pupil Joe (Max Martini, Saving Private Ryan) attempts to earn his black belt, a jittery woman, Laura (Emily Mortimer, Match Point), enters the dojo only to shatter Terry's window with Joe's gun. Terry's wife, Sondra (Alice Braga, I Am Legend), sends him to borrow cash from her brother at his nightclub. Terry's sense of honor keeps him from asking for a loan, but it does get him to rescue actor Chet Frank (Tim Allen, Wild Hogs) from some ruffians. Terry's honorable act draws him into a world where the activities of unscrupulous men threaten to tear him apart.

After watching Redbelt, I couldn't help but be reminded of those Jean-Claude Van Damme action classics where he's a skilled fighter always at odds with his moral fiber; what should seem to be a difficult compromise of his beliefs for the protection of a greater good (i.e., a decision which can not be taken lightly) is made in the span of a few slow-motion breaths followed by a wild-eyed explosion of his triple-take split kick to the opponent's head. Remember those moments? Well, Redbelt doesn't have those.

Leave it to writer-director David Mamet (The Spanish Prisoner) to craft a movie about fighting where the major conflicts with the character occur within his psyche and not against an opponent in a ring. Ejiofor is a sea of internal conflict. Mamet captures him deep in meditation in many scenes. Terry is held by his honor to abstain from fighting for competition due to its shallowness, yet needs to pay his debts and feed his family. He's offered the opportunity to win money by competing, though only after his warrior ideals have been compromised by people he gave the benefit of his trust.

Mamet doesn't focus only on the life of Terry. Mortimer's Laura deals with an inner turmoil of her own and seeks answers in Terry's teachings. Even Tim Allen, whose role is minuscule, seems mildly intrigued by the honor code by which Terry lives. Illustrating the amoral perspective are Mamet regulars Ricky Jay (Boogie Nights), David Paymer (State and Main) and Joe Mantegna (Body of Evidence). The beautiful thing about Mamet's scripts aside from their authentic feel is that they are rich in depth of character. On the negative side, some of these characters rich in depth were thin on story. In particular, a side plot involving Sondra disappeared for what I assume was a lack of time.

Dirty Undies
You'd hope that a fight film would have more actual fighting but like I said, this ain't no JCVD film. Redbelt opens with a fairly violent training session at Terry's studio with men twisting and grappling for control of the ring. There are a few other skirmishes, but it is clear that Mamet's focus isn't for the craft of the fight but for the underlying emotions compelling the opponents; great for gripping , intellectual drama but it sucks if you've come looking for carnage.

The Money Shot
Don't let Redbelt fool you into thinking it's a fighting movie. This here's a thinking man's fight, and I admit to analyzing the story's complexity days after viewing. The ending is especially poignant. The film could have been enhanced by more visually stimulating scenes, maybe not massive violence, but the blandness does linger.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Blah-berry Night

My Blueberry Nights
Release: 04.04.2008 limited
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 30 minutes

Second-Run Seats ($$) <
> Ma
tinee ($$$)

In her film debut, Norah Jones stars as Elizabeth (a.k.a Beth, Lizzie, Betty), a young woman who learns from local cafe owner Jeremy (Jude Law, The Holiday) that her boyfriend is seeing another woman. Night after night Elizabeth visits the cafe; at first, to sulk and skulk over her man, but eventually to eat blueberry pie and fraternize with Jeremy. Seeking answers, Elizabeth leaves New York for Memphis where she takes up waitressing at a bar and a diner to save for a car. She meets kindred spirits in Arnie (David Strathairn, Blue Car) and Sue Lynne (Rachel Weisz, The Shape of Things). Her next serving gig leads her to the Midwest and the wild Leslie (Natalie Portman, Closer) who furthers her quest for answers and an affordable automobile.

Let me start by chiming in on my familiarity with writer-director Wong Kar Wai's work. I have seen three of his previous films: Fallen Angels, In the Mood for Love, and 2046. Without a doubt, In the Mood for Love is my personal favorite and his strongest work. My Blueberry Nights...not so much. Wong Kar Wai has a very stylized direction full of vibrant colors and languid, savory scenes. All those films also revolve around relationships and love, time and distance. But watching My Blueberry Nights was off-putting. I compare Wong and his latest work to Tony Scott, another very stylized director who reached near perfection with the dark and manic Man on Fire only to overindulge, making Domino an incoherent, epileptic seizure. Wong took his palette of slow-motion shots and radiant hues and applied them with a paint roller, resulting in a film that fails to maintain its hold on viewers.

Norah Jones likewise fails to draw you in at every emotional level. Granted, for her first film role, she proves herself far more adept than many other singers-turned-actors (cough Beyonce cough). However, she didn't convince me when stronger emotions were required, leaving this sensitive piece lacking. Singer Cat Power ,a.k.a Chan Marshall, also makes a cameo that is likewise strained. But Jones' other costars all performed admirably. In particular, David Strathairn's sympathetic and unstable Arnie deserves a nod for best performance. The only thing more memorable than the performances is the soundtrack; a hauntingly perfect mood for the film.

Dirty Undies
If you didn't notice, the beautiful pedigree of the cast is worth the price of admission alone and probably is why I nudged this film towards the Matinee rating. Norah Jones just looks adorably soft and scrumptious. Jude Law with his effortless charisma is magnified with a layer of scruffy stubble. I was nearly ready to tap out of the film until Natalie Portman appeared in the final half hour. She literally lights up the screen with her smile, her presence and short fire-like curls of blonde hair. Even Rachel Weisz, whom I don't normally go for, was in an especially sexy way. Take a gander:

(Oh Natalie...)

The Money Shot
My Blueberry Nights is a very vivid and visual emotional journey. It's also an excellent case for when style outweighs the substance of the work. If you find this phenomenal, your head just might explode from elation when you see In the Mood for Love.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, May 19, 2008

Huh, huh, you said "Poll" (05.19.2008)

Hey, hey everyone! Long time no blog. Most of last week I was embroiled in an orgy of opium and women (read: working out of town and feeling generally crappy), making it nearly impossible to attend to my duties. Now that's passed and I promise to make up for my slackness this week.

I had a bit of an Art-Attack this past week, watching several Indy films which I'll be reviewing over the next few days. My wife called it my Red, Blue and Grey'll make more sense by week's end.

While you wait for my next update I thought it'd be appropriate to throw a new poll out there. I am stoked about the nearly released Indiana Jones film. After that, my sights are set on Dark Knight and Hellboy II in July. For the life of me, my tinglys for June's films are sort of absent. I was wondering if you stargazers were similarly unstimulated. So, by show of votes, let me know what the most anticipated film of June is. Here are the choices:

Nothing matters after Indy 4
You Don't Mess with the Zohan
Kung Fu Panda
The Incredible Hulk
The Happening
Get Smart
The Love Guru
Saving up for IMAX Dark Knight

The poll will be up until the end of May. You Vote Now!

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, May 12, 2008

Repeat Bidness: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

With Prince Caspian releasing this weekend, I am comforted knowing that I will use my complimentary IMAX tickets to instead enjoy Speed Racer, which has been garnering decent praise from some of the LAMBs. You may ask, but Whore, why do you not get all moist and tingly at the latest addition to the realm of Narnia? If you didn’t notice the trepidation in my May Trailer Trash, here’s a taste of the sourness left in my mouth by the flagship film of this series.

Rated PG; 2 hours, 23 minutes
Second-Run Seats ($$) <> Matinee ($$$)

"About as exciting as sitting in a wardrobe for over two hours can be!"

The Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, are sent to live with Professor Kirke (Jim Broadbent, Iris) in his country home to keep them safe during World War II. While playing hide and go seek, Lucy, the youngest child, uncovers a wardrobe and discovers it to be a doorway into the land of Narnia. Before long, all the Pevinsie children find themselves escaping through the wardrobe, only to become embroiled in the affairs of the oppressed populace. Narnia’s oppressor, the White Witch (Tilda Swinton, Constantine), soon learns of the children’s presence and seeks to destroy them.

Director Andrew Adamson (Shrek) takes the adapted screenplay of the C.S. Lewis book and does (what we assume to be) his best to bring the mystical land of Narnia to life. Indeed, some of the creatures are simply astounding. The special effects department went out of their way to make the Beavers, Maugrim and the wolf patrol, and Aslan the Lion fairly seamless in their interactions with the main characters and their surroundings. That’s why it’s especially disappointing that much of the remaining effects appear slapped together. For example, the children are many times shot with a ‘blue screen’ backdrop that resembles the quality of mid-80’s pornography. Also, the animation of the faun, Mr. Tumnus, doesn’t always mesh quite as well as hoped. On the bright side, the make-up used for Tumnus and the White Witch, as well as the centaurs, minotaurs and dwarves, help compensate for the shoddy special effects.

Ultimately, the major dilemma with the realm of Narnia is its shallowness. The characters and the story’s history are severely underdeveloped. From the confusing opening moments of the film, in which the Pevensies run for cover during a German air raid, you begin to wonder if this is the magical movie advertised over the last few months. This frantic opening pace quickly settles into a lengthy, somewhat plodding exposition on the superficial characteristics of Narnia. Very little is done in the way of providing stimulating conflict or tension with our little heroes. Some of the blame lies with the young cast’s marginal acting, but much of the responsibility should fall on the shoulders of the director and his producers who couldn’t sense the lack of heart in their final product. On the plus side, Georgie Henley is simply a delight as Lucy Pevensie. Dakota Fanning better watch her back because if Georgie gets her green card she will provide some stiff competition for America’s hardest-working child actress.

Dirty Undies
Bubkis! I can’t remember a single tantalizing moment of vulgarity, sexuality, or violence that really sticks to your ribs. The film does have a bit of violent innuendo, but the kid-friendly rating keeps the brunt of the exchanges off-screen in lieu of up-close and personal payout.

The Money Shot
When the credits finished rolling, I was fortunate to have a few friends to mull over the lamentable Chronicles I with me. The consensus was that, thanks to such phenomenal film series as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, audiences expect their fantasy films to provide a thorough and faithful homage to their favorite literary works. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has all the big-budget flash and tedious length associated with the aforementioned fantastic epics, but fails to balance the glitz with any substantial emotion or story. The beautifully crafted wardrobe housed a myriad of bedazzling furs, and in that respect ‘Narnia the Movie’ is similar; filled and trimmed with the same splendid yet hollow quality.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

A Winning Pair

What Happens in Vegas...

Release: 05.09.2008

Rated PG-13

1 hour, 39 minutes

Matinee ($$$)

Jack and Joy went to Vegas to forget their crappy lives.
Jack got drunk. So did Joy. They awoke as husband and wife.
Like oil and water they part, but then Jack and Joy win big.
Now they're stuck like glue in wedded bliss or 'til one reneges.
Pesky pranks and wacky friends make Jack and Joy so much fun.
Will they commit to life as one or split the cash and run?

Enough with the grade school rhyming! Let's get the skinny on What Happens in Vegas. Billed as Cameron Vs. Ashton a.k.a. Joy Vs. Jack, Vegas begins as a contest to see which actor can out-ham the other. Hand to the heavens, there's even a moment during this battle of the sexes when Ashton winks at the audience. Folks going to see this film aren't expecting exceptionally moving performances; they just want to be entertained through the lowbrow series of gags.

Laugh you shall, due in large part to Jack's friend Hater (Rob Corddry, Semi-Pro). This was a complete 180 from his over-the-top performance in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. Dennis Farina (Get Shorty), Michelle Krusiec (Saving Face), Jason Sudeikis (Semi-Pro) and even Treat Williams (1941) complete the list of talented and funny supporting cast members who sorely needed more screen time.

Vegas is a series of witty, cutting remarks and mean-spirited pranks that almost completely avoids delving into crude bathroom humor to dredge up a laugh. It's an inoffensive shuck and jive, like watching a television comedy sans the laugh track. Not surprising since director Tom Vaughan seems to have done more TV than films.

Dirty Undies
In the Cameron vs. Ashton battle, the winner in the arena of hotness is...Ashton. Cameron had a glistening sheen on her face for much of the film; she looked like a well-worn saddle that had been slathered with oil to prevent cracking. She did have a few F'n Hot moments, but against Ashton's pretty-boy charms and shirtless self it's no contest. Corddry plays the friend you won't claim as he inflicts both physical and oral damage with his uncouth schemes and vulgar ways.

The Money Shot
Technically speaking, What Happens in Vegas... is mostly a mess. If you're interested in this type of flick, it's because you're looking to laugh, not to critique the greatest piece of cinema ever written. Much like the city, Vegas promises cheap, shallow thrills and pays out.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Spank Bank: Rosario Dawson

Fresh off my 100th post, I decided to revisit my infrequent feature, The Spank Bank. The third deposit goes to a special lady who got the second-highest number of readers’ votes in my last poll.

This inductee has been a personal favorite of mine for a long time (just ask my wife). She also has the distinction of being the only inductee I have had the pleasure of meeting. Many know her as an actress, thanks to her extensive and varied body of work over the last thirteen years, but she’s recently donned her producer’s hat. This vibrant lady has ambitions to not only continue producing projects, but move into directing as well.

One last note: her induction also coincides with her 29th birthday. Let’s all raise our voices high and wish my newest Spank Bank inductee a very Happy Birthday!


The First Time My Eyes Met:
I remember this moment like it was yesterday, and not just because it recently played on Encore. Rosario first came to my attention in Spike Lee’s He Got Game as Jesus’s girlfriend, Lala. Ooh, Lala. It was a tiny role but it made a huge impression. She was the perfect combination of sexy and sassy that would become her trademark.

She had me at ‘Hello’:
In a severely underwritten, and dare I say, token role, Ms. Dawson portrayed Valerie Brown in Josie & the Pussycats. She may have been in the shadows then, but who’s playing lead now?!

Sexiest Movie Moment:
I don’t think she’s ever not been sexy. The Rundown and Sin City come to mind immediately, but her standout moment is as Naturelle in 25th Hour. There’s a sparkly little silver number that she wears out to the club, and the entire moment was shot as if the camera was lusting over her.

Let’s Never Speak of This Again:
This is a tough one. I lost weeks off my life suffering through Alexander just because she was in it. Her character was nearly nonexistent, and the nude scene was so spastic and bizarre it was intolerable. Well, almost. I still got a glimpse of her FINE body.

owever, at the screening of her first production, Rosario bashed The Adventures of Pluto Nash as her worst film. Given that we can at least enjoy her sexual ferocity for 0.5 seconds in Alexander, I’ll have to side with her. That Eddie Murphy film didn’t do her, or its audience, any favors.

It Brings a Smile to My Face:
Her first production, Descent. It wasn’t the absolute best film I’ve ever seen, but it was the first film where Rosario had the starring role. She wasn’t the girlfriend or one of a dozen characters in an ensemble. The whole film relies on her conveying a tumultuous range of emotions, and in that respect, it’s an amazing success.

My Biggest Regret:
I’ve seen most of the films where she has more than two lines so there is little left from which to choose. I’d have to say A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints ranks the top spot. It’s got a great cast, aside from the obvious.

Her Winning Feature:
This is a highly disputed area. When we met Rosario, my wife commented that she has perfect skin. I agree, but is it her best feature? I pored through my mental Rolodex and came across a disturbing trend. Rosario’s last three films, Clerks II, Grindhouse and Descent, all featured men adoring her feet (toenail painting, licking and sucking, respectively). Granted, it ain’t Hammertime in her shoes, but really? Her feet?!

Her body (feet included) is banging, but for me it’s her face. It always appears luminescent. Her large eyes and wide grin can be joyous and inviting one moment, and then with an arch of an eyebrow and a curl of the lip she looks ready to devour you alive.
Come and get it!

(Loving and Fun...)

(Lusty and Wild!)

If I could walk in his shoes:
This could have gone many ways. There was the tough-as-nails Gail from Sin City, the sexy Naturelle of 25th Hour, and the list continues. After much debate, I’d have to tell Brian O’Halloran, a.k.a Dante of Clerks II, to take a hike. I don’t think it would’ve taken me nearly as much time to dump the fiancé, paint some toenails and start making raunchy ass-to-mouth sex talk with Rosario’s scrumptious and funny Becky.

Most Anticipated Upcoming Project:
Explicit Ills, Eagle Eye, Seven Pounds, Poor Things, and of course, Sin City 2 are all at the top of my viewing queue. The upcoming project I’m most excited for is Killshot. Supposedly, this thriller was released in April. It’s not in my neighborhood but you’ll hear my screams of joy when it arrives.

My Dream of Working with the lovely Ms. Dawson:
If this ain’t a dream, I don’t know what is. One day in the not so distant future, Warner Brothers and DC Comics decides to pull their thumbs from their asses and start making more than a single superhero film every other year. I’ve helped my new writing buddy Joss work out the rough edges to his script, and now I’ve been tapped to direct Rosario Dawson in the title role of Wonder Woman. That’s right, Rosario Dawson as the Amazonian Princess. She’s smoking hot, exotically beautiful and she’s proven more than once that she can be compassionate, diplomatic or kick your ass, if needed. She’s killer in a pair of high-heel boots and I believe the golden brassiere would runneth over.

Wonder Woman is a great symbol of empowerment for women, making her worthy of Rosario’s personal passions, but it’s also pure blockbuster material. And who knows, if the film is a success Rosario and I might have to put the golden lasso to good use. Not that I’m into bondage – but for her I’d be willing.


I barely mentioned many of her roles, especially her more action-oriented films. Rosario is truly a woman of many talents, her comic book property, O.C.T. Occult Crimes Taskforce, included. If all you know about her are the more popular films, you’ve got to expand your knowledge, people!

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Celebrating Reel Whore's Centennial!

Stargazers! Can you believe that this is officially my 100th post?!

That's accomplishment enough in itself, but to spread the proverbial icing on the cake, I learned on the eve of my centennial post that I won a prestigious LAMMY in the category of Best Random LAMB Banner! I realized upon winning that I've never given my banner its props here on the site, so I present to you, the Reel Whore's LAMB Banner:

Thanks again to all my fellow LAMBs who voted for my banner!

To celebrate reaching the 100th post, I have pulled a few strings to get a special guest to perform here at Reel Whore. He's promised a quick magic trick suitable for ringing in my 100th! Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for GOB of Arrested Development!

Thank you, GOB! Keep up the good work and we'll keep our fingers crossed for your rumored
Arrested Development film (More details over at Sarahnomics).

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Golden Goose (Now with Red Accents!)

Iron Man

Release: 05.01.2008

Rated PG-13
2 hours, 6 minutes


Ka-ching! Did you hear that? It’s the sound of the till overflowing courtesy of the first film of the blockbuster summer. Marvel’s Iron Man opened this weekend to the tune of $104 million, pounding the competition into the pavement. In the vein of comic adaptations before it, Iron Man is an origins story, chronicling the evolution of brilliant, corporate mogul Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr., U.S. Marshals) into the red-and-gold metallic hero. His fast cars, fast women and devil-may-care attitude are thrown out the door when Stark is kidnapped by terrorists and ordered to build his latest weapon of mass destruction, the Jericho. Instead, Stark is inspired to build a metal suit to affect his own rescue. Once back in the comforts of his lavish lifestyle, the disturbing events of his abduction lead him to improve his unwieldy escape harness into a lean, mean, defending machine.

Any action film that opens rocking out to AC/DC’s Back in Black wins immediate brownie points. Cliché though it may be, when it works it works. Downey is both smug and charismatic; for all the reasons there are to despise Stark you can’t help but desire to be near him…Reporter Christine (Leslie Bibb, Talladega Nights) is proof of that. Also in continuous orbit around Mr. Stark are his assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow, Se7en), his friend Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard, Hart’s War) and his trusted advisor Obadiah Stone (Jeff Bridges, The Vanishing). The story development is quick-paced and tight. Director Jon Favreau (Elf) develops Stark’s transition from wild playboy to a man on a mission in a way that grabs audiences and consumes our attention. Favreau balances violent, gun-blazing action with sincere emotion and dedication to doing the right thing.

If there is a flaw to be found, I would point my finger at the pseudo-science of suit development. The series of sequences detailing the evolution of the suit had an engineer’s wet dream of a work space complete with intelligent robots, 3-D holographic blueprints, and endless wires, nuts and bolts. It also provided some much needed comic relief via a few failed test runs. Personally, I could have done with less production gadgetry in lieu of a few more test gags. Though I admit I come from a time when left-for-dead Officer Murphy wakes up transformed into the coolest cybernetic body (a.k.a. Robocop) sans the dull and plodding evolutionary jargon. The elaborate workspace made me speculate on the suit’s true limits and the safety of its pilot, but those less nerdy than I should not let my minor quibble deter them.

Dirty Undies
As a boozing, good-time billionaire, Stark has it all, even a private plane with ultra hot stewardesses who transform into strippers at 30,000 feet. Downey is charismatic, though a bit scrawny for a superhero. I guess Terrence Howard was hired to up the manly eye candy since he’s given little else to do. The earlier battle sequences are rapidly paced and satisfyingly destructive. I would have appreciated a more staggering scale of devastation in the climactic battle, but it works well enough to qualify as a proper superhero film.

The Money Shot
It’s taken a while but Marvel seems to grasp the idea; a quality cast really does help the end product. It also helps to have a well-developed script in the hands of a competent director who obviously cares for the material. I don’t think it quite reaches the success of Spider-Man but at least it’s a far cry from Daredevil-Hulk-Punisher-Ghost Rider…um, you get the idea.

P.S. – True believers will enjoy our staple cameo, Stan Lee. But those lovers of all film projects Marvel may want to stick around for a nice foreshadowing cameo after final credits roll.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Spontaneous Eruption of Dance

Calling All Stargazers!

The Dance Movie Blogathon officially began Sunday, May 4th! It has been brought to you by Ferdy on Films, etc. I had been promoting it on my sidebar until the banner somehow disappeared. Here’s the promotional image that used to be on my sidebar:

But you’re not here to ogle a Jessica Alba image…that’s for a whole different kind of post. You’ve come in search of my dance movie entry into the blogathon.

I don’t pretend to know what makes a choreographed dance sequence in a film brilliant or breathtaking but I know what I like. One thing I go wild over is when a great comedy takes it one step further by adding a smidge of music/dance into the mix. I refer to these moments as the Spontaneous Eruption of Music & Dance. One of my all-time favorite examples of this is after the climactic ending to The 40-Year-Old Virgin when Andy looks into the camera and begins singing Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In, which leads into an impromptu celebration of dance of Dionysian proportions.

But this isn’t a recent advent; another great example is Caddyshack, which is bookended by the now famous gopher gyrating to the semi-soulful sounds of Kenny Loggins’ I’m Alright. Great moments, but that’s not the film I am here to discuss.

I have chosen to revisit a film that won the prestigious honor as Most Memorable Music/Dance Performance of 2007 from my Confessions of a Reel Whore feature. I present, for your consideration…

Hot Rod stars Andy Samberg as Rod Kimble, a self-proclaimed stuntman. While his stunt antics are comical, they are also uneven, creating a less than spectacular film. No matter, though; stars Samberg, Bill Hader, Danny R. McBride, Jorma Taccone and, let me not forget, Chester Tam all provide a wealth of entertainment through dance. Here’s a quick rundown of all the great dance moments and why I love them so.

Andy Samberg: After a heated confrontation with his stepfather Frank, Rod storms from the house. Cut to a foggy patch of woods where Rod rolls in on his moped, fuming. He’s drinking and smoking but those vices aren’t enough to quell his anger. The only release for his aggression and frustration is by acrobatically punch-dancing to the groovy synthetic tunes of Never by the Moving Pictures. Though the solitary performance ends in an abrupt finale, rhythmically speaking, it’s great fun from start to finish.

Jorma Taccone, Bill Hader and Danny R. McBride: As Rod’s respective stunt crew, the trio is called upon to save Rod at any moment of danger. The most strategic rescue occurs when the film diverges into an attempt to force a clichéd romantic subplot between Rod and Denise (Isla Fisher). Seeing the scene falling into drudgery, the director has the fellas crack open their van’s side door and bust a move to the 80’s pop vibrations of Two of Hearts by Stacey Q. For first-time viewers, be sure to watch over Rod’s shoulder as the awkward dialogue is subverted to the spectacle of Hader and McBride.

Chester Tam: Andy Samberg may be the main character, but Chester Tam’s stint as Richardson is a show stopper. His character has only a few lines, but he’s not there for speaking, he’s there for gyrating! In a brief sequence by the community pool, a sopping wet Richardson thrusts away, fittingly, to DJ Rumpleskillzkid’s Thrust Away.

The director, knowing a good thing when he sees one, keeps Tam hidden until the third act. It is there Tam and his gyrating pelvis are unleashed upon unsuspecting audiences in a montage heightened by the dance mix The Real Bass by Brooklyn Bounce. Tam distributes flyers for Rod’s upcoming stunt by tossing them into the air in a sort of mock ticker-tape explosion, which he follows with the most insanely random yet mesmerizing marriage of comedy and dance in the entire film.

I hereby declare Hot Rod a masterpiece of impromptu dance as a source of comedy. You may say that it’s been done before, and in the years to come even more clever examples may surface, but Hot Rod has made an indelible mark in the annals of Spontaneous Eruptions of Dance.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Summer of LAMB - The Whore's Official Entry

After grueling hours pouring over box office receipts and celebrity trending, I was satisfied enough to submit my predictions to the LAMB's big summer prediction extravaganza, Summer of LAMB (SOL). I now post those same predictions here so that you may peruse them and a) marvel at my astute analysis, b) stare at the pretty pictures or c) ridicule me as the box office unfolds completely in opposite to my expectations!

Top Ten Films of Summer 2008
(May-August Releases)

1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - $400M
2. Iron Man - $325M
3. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - $300M
4. The Dark Knight - $290M
5. Hancock - $278M
6. Wall*E - $235M
7. Speed Racer - $220M
8. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor - $215M
9. Kung Fu Panda - $195M
10. You Don’t Mess With the Zohan - $145M

Also rans: The Pineapple Express, The Incredible Hulk, Meet Dave

Guaranteed Flop: Oh my Mike Myers how far you have fallen. I can’t see how The Love Guru will do anything but fail. I think it will also fail to the tune of $25M which we all know won’t even cover Myers’ salary.

I would have loved to throw in Postal here too but if you know a film is a flop before it is even released can you really predict it as such?

Rip Van Winkle Hit (sleeper): Would you believe… Get Smart will be the sleeper hit for a major release? I believe it.

If we’re considering limited and exclusive releases a la Waitress and Little Miss Sunshine fame, I’d have to go with Son of Rambow or Hamlet 2….yeah, that’s right Hamlet 2.

3 Movies I'm Moist With Antici…Pation For:

They kicked my baby mama to the curb in favor of Maggie Gyllenhaal but hey, Mrs. Cruise royally stunk up Batman Begins. We’ve got Bale back in the suit, returning cast members Caine, Freeman and Oldman reprising their roles, and Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart chewing up the scenery. How is this not on everyone’s must see list!

The House Bunny
Not what you expected? Well, I love me some Anna Faris!!! This will be goofy and predictable no doubt, but at least it’s not another installment of Scary Movie. Plus I still have the McPhever and this is looking to be the year of the Beverly D’Angelo comeback, so why not give this a try?

I remember getting online to see the Indiana Jones teaser and feeling tingly all over. Then I noticed the Hellboy 2 trailer was available and after watching the most breathtaking effects and wicked fight scenes, I was like Indy Who? You da man, Ron Perlman!

…If I could name one more flick that makes me all sweaty, it’d have to be Midnight Meat Train. That has to be one of the most ludicrous titles in recent film history but it’s going to be one helluva ride!

Let the summer box office begin!

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Traler Trash: The May Gang Bang

Wow! Welcome to my first official ‘Movies of Summer’ Gang Bang! Looking at the list over at IMDB, it looks like Hollywood decided to take it easy on me with only nine major releases. Granted, one of them is a Uwe Boll film. That’s like the syphilis guy showing up for the party…Yeah, that bad. Before I start lambasting Uwe Boll, let’s slide on into the roll call.

Exercise the right to Cinematic Celibacy.
Made of Honor (05/02) Raise your hand if your think Dempsey’s last great movie was Can’t Buy Me Love. Anyways, this trailer carries the stench of swamp-ass. I nearly had a Best Woman at my wedding, but some baby-mama drama kept it from happening. Trust me, it wasn’t nearly as interesting as it sounds, just like this film isn’t nearly as endearing as it wants to be.

P.S. – You’re my boy, Kadeem Hardison, but do you have to shuck and jive like a Chris Rock stand-in?

Postal (05/23) Uwe Boll is a genius. At directing? HELL NO! But knowing his reputation for making über-shitty video-game adaptations, he’s stirred up a barrage of controversy over the last month by calling director Michael Bay a “fucking retard.” His antics have garnered him more publicity than any of his films deserve. As for the film itself, it’s a--you guessed right--, video game adaptation that’s billed as a live-action South Park, but I recommend you stay home and enjoy authentic South Park instead.

Sex and the City: The Movie (05/30) I admit I’ve only seen a few eps of Sex & the City. Maybe by the end of the month I will watch them all. That said, I still won’t give a damn about seeing this. The official trailer manages to give away every lady’s storyline, but at least it explains how Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson’s role as token has been wedged into the plot. I sported major wood in my teen years for Kim Cattrall. As an adult, Kristin Davis held that honor, but nothing puts the soldier at ease faster than seeing Sarah Jessica Parker in the latest “fashions.”

(This makes my penis sad...)

It's Friday, I don't want to be Alone.
Speed Racer (05/09) Emile Hirsch as Speed Racer is perfect. Christina Ricci with bangs? Totally works. I’ve also loved every non-Matrix-sequel film the Wachowski siblings have made. All that considered, why do I have a NYEH kind of a feeling when watching this trailer?

(No Bangs. Eek! Yes Bangs..She Bangs.)

What Happens in Vegas… (05/09) A film premise based on a visitor’s bureau slogan seemed craptastic at best. One trailer later, I couldn’t deny its humor potential. Still, I despise the whole “See this cuz we’re two sexy stars having a blast while bilking you out of your cash” vibe the poster presents. If I find out Demi has a cameo, then all bets are off!

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (05/16) For those unaware, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was one of the most overrated films ever! Here’s hoping the gazillions they earned off the gullible helped to increase the special effects budget in Volume 2. Can thirteen hundred years improve the return of the Jesus Lion and the rugrats? Here’s hoping.

Moist with Antici...pation!
Iron Man (05/01) Trying to avoid seeing too many trailers for this is like trying not to breathe... [in droning tone] Iron Man Rocks. Must watch Iron Man. My world is Iron… um, sorry, where was I? Seriously, the story of a talented man rising above his substance-dependent and egotistical lifestyle to win the adulation of millions is reason enough to see this. And the Tony Stark/Iron Man origins story will be cool, too.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (05/23) After The Last Crusade I’d have never thought I’d live my entire twenties without an Indiana Jones sequel. Hell, who would’ve thought we’d see Harrison Ford take up the hat and whip in his late sixties?! Nevertheless, who isn’t excited that the holy trinity of adventure filmmakers, Spielberg-Lucas-Ford, finally made this a reality? Now let’s all pray that the old codger can manage to enunciate half his damn lines and not break a hip lest this be renamed the more appropriate Indiana Jones and the Silver Wheelchair.

(grumble, grumble. Are there monkey brains for dessert? grumble.)

The Strangers (05/30) If I see one good film featuring Liv Tyler this summer, this will be it (no offense, Mr. Norton). My skin crawls when I see this trailer, though for once, it’s not from Scott Speedman’s acting. Being the only major horror flick on the May slate gives it a must see for the terror-deprived (Midnight Meat Train was moved to August, damnit!).


Aren’t you just tingling with excitement for Summer 2008!? This is just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll be seeing lots more coverage in the weeks to come. Next up is my participation in the Summer of LAMB challenge.

Time’s a wastin’! I’ll see you at Iron Man this weekend!

Large Association of Movie Blogs