it was safe!
A little over two months ago, the doctors lured me into a world of slicing, dicing and drug-induced happiness to help remedy some chronic issues. Since that time, I have clawed my way back to normalcy, and to regular posting at the Whore.
The doctors think I am doing so well that I should come back to let them finish the job they started. As such, the site will auto-update beginning Monday and most likely continue for two weeks.
Like before, any posts made during this time will be marked by the auto-pilot heading. Don't think the Whore doesn't appreciate any comments you make during this time; just know it may be a while before I respond.
Also, when you stop by, don't forget to vote on this month's poll; I want to know "How will The Spirit move you?" In other words, what do you anticipate your reaction to be when you see The Spirit?
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
1 hour, 40 minutes
The Transporter, Frank Martin (Jason Statham, Death Race), is semi-retired, choosing to be more selective of his jobs. When his replacement 'stops by' his home and 'gives up' the gig, Frank awakes to find himself employed against his will. Fitted with an explosive bracelet that tethers him to his car, his only choice is to follow orders and deliver the package, Valentina (Natalya Rudakova), whenever and where ever Mr. Johnson (Robert Knepper, Hitman) instructs.
Though the director changes (it's now Oliver Megaton) the story stays virtually the same thanks to the writing of creators Robert Mark Kamen and Luc Besson. Like before, a simple job agreed upon under Frank's simple rules doesn't quite go to plan. As one character quips, "With you (Frank), it's always complicated." Transporter 3's stunts are especially complicated and barely plausible. The grandeur of the road chase on two-wheels and the BIG thug fight is instantly familiar as old Bond ploys. The train battle isn't nearly as ludicrous as Steven Seagal, a la Under Siege 2, with his speed-walk escape from the cascading explosion, but it's pretty close.
Even so, my biggest issue is with the premise that Frank's bracelet goes boom if he is farther than 75 feet from his car. I'm thinking that was a metric-to-standard conversion mistake. The intent had to be 75 meters. Otherwise, Frank and his package's arses would have painted the streets red ten times over. But that's the great thing about this series and over-the-top action in general; if you leave your brain at the door and just let the adrenaline rush consume you, it's great.
Statham's badass performance as Frank keeps you hyped. As a bonus he somehow manages to go shirtless not once or twice but four times! One of these tattered shirt, rippling muscle moments occurs during an intense fight sequence with Valentina watching. As Frank busts heads, Valentina's cute freckled expression transforms beyond bedroom eyes into fuck-me-raw-on-the-hood-of-your-sweet-ride eyes. At that moment I understood why Rudakova was chosen as Transporter 3's hottie. The action, while unbelievable at times, was still packed with excellently sequenced chases and fights with a smattering of explosions for good measure.
The Money Shot
Since producers are determined to turn Bond into a serious-natured commodity, action fans must turn to films like Transporter 3 to get that quick fix. As the holidays approach and theater screens become inundated with the emotionally heavy, award-hopeful fare, Transporter 3 is that serving of comfort food that helps leave those worries at the door.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
2 hours, 2 minutes
Second-Run Seats ($$)
With her mom and stepdad traveling the country, Isabella "Bella" Swan (Kristen Stewart, The Messengers) returns to her hometown of Forks, Washington to live with her father, Police Chief Charlie Swan (Billy Burke, Untraceable). The aloof Bella receives a warm welcome in high school, but feels drawn to the odd Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). The strange boy and stranger attraction draws Bella into an inhuman world. As her romantic fantasy with Edward becomes real, an outsider, James (Cam Gigandet), chooses Bella as his next murder victim.
I haven't read the Twilight series. I tend to dislike movies if I've read the book first. For perspective, I accompanied a Twilighter (a fan of the series). We both agreed the movie really makes you want to read the book - just to have proof the tween phenomenon is not as bad as this adaptation. Like to hear why? Here it go:
During the first half, Bella's angst and yearning is impenetrable. Bella is greeted warmly by the most diverse group of students ever for a town with a population of 3,125. Bella, in return, is rudely indifferent to the Mouseketeers, repeatedly turning down invitations and ignoring them. Unbelievably, their onslaught of kindness never falters. When Edward shares the screen, the duo mostly share intense eye contact. Their occasional snippets of conversation end abruptly and cryptically. At one point, Edward confesses to Bella he can read everyone's mind except hers. That's because she has the personality and aptitude of a doorknob. This budding romance is so frustratingly slow that even the camera goes insane; it's like riding a carnival Orbiter on a dreary day.
Having to establish the prevailing series arc doesn't help the pacing either for director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen). Several characters are irrelevant, but need introduction for the inevitable sequels. The excruciating slowness picks up after the one-hour mark when Bella and Edward finally reveal their love and he, his secrets. Edward manages to stop looking nauseated around Bella and she actually smiles; both improve the tale by leaps and bounds. If you're like a few from my screening, it won't matter because you've left long before the climax.
This barely deserves its PG-13 rating. Their love is a chaste one, though the then under-aged Stewart is a little agressive. Us adults are free to stare at the other 'high schoolers'; the glittering chest of Pattinson or the slight cleavage of Anna Kendrick (Rocket Science) is about all the heat this steamy tale musters. The climatic final battle was pretty exciting, with a little blood and some insinuated brutality. It probably wasn't that great, but I was feening for a fight fix after sitting this long.
The Money Shot
Hardwicke portrays Bella as a strong, independent young woman, the one thing my Twilighter buddy found improved from the needy character in the books. If you, like me, are one of the contributors to Twilight's huge opening box office, I feel your pain. If you haven't anted up yet, save your money. Us dupes have helped to greenlight the sequel; I only hope we'll know better next time.
Monday, November 24, 2008
One thing I enjoy most about the Monday Mood Music, aside from sharing my many favorite performers and songs with you, is always uncover interesting facts I never knew.
This week's selection was specifically written for a movie soundtrack by this great rock band. The film was most likely my first introduction to this band and their music still remains on our wePod today. On a side note, this particular film features Sean Connery, winner of my Favorite Bond poll. (don't forget to vote on the new poll!)
But my love for Connery and Highlander has nothing to do with this mood music selection. On this day, November 24, in 1991 Farrokh Bulsara, better known as Freddie Mercury the lead singer of Queen, died from bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS (wiki). It's really a shame he is no longer with us. I'd like to think were he here, he would still be touring with the energy of the Rolling Stones and not resigned to make album after album of covers.
In honor of Freddie Mercury's passing seventeen years ago, here's Queen with Princes of the Universe from the Highlander soundtrack:
Friday, November 21, 2008
Quantum of Solace
1 hour, 41 minutes
Picking up shortly after Casino Royale, James Bond (Daniel Craig, Layer Cake) brings the villainous Mr. White in for questioning. After an attempt on M's life (Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal), White escapes and Bond is in hot pursuit. The trail leads to the environmentalist Dominic Greene (Mathieu Almaric, Munich) and his lover Camille (Olga Kurylenko, Hitman). Bond must go rogue, disobeying MI6 orders, to prove Greene is part of a larger conspiracy known only as Quantum.
Bond 22 kicks off like a good Bond film should; with an action packed adrenaline rush that flows into the title sequence. The title sequence, a sandy silhouette of Bond, bullets and curvaceous babes was extremely satisfying for this fanboy. From there, the film continues with an action-heavy front end, though much of those scenes are an unrecognizable blur. One particular fight sequence instantly reminded me of the Bourne series. First, I blamed director Marc Forster (Monster's Ball) for being unable to shoot action properly; having to rely upon a frenetic, indiscernible flurry of shots. Ironically, my research uncovered that second unit director Dan Bradley was hired specifically for his previous Bourne work. Many PG-13 films tend to rely on blurred action to keep the film short while maintaining a faux brutality. Personally, I'd rather have stretched the run time of Quantum over two hours if it meant clearly-shot fight sequences and well framed chases.
Speaking of time, Casino Royale may have clocked in an hour longer, but Quantum felt just as long. The beginning action had to diverge into a lengthy exposition of Bond, Camille and Greene's stories to give the climax the proper umph. Craig still approaches Bond as a no nonsense, unstoppable force of reckoning. Kurylenko played Camille as stubborn, her story tragic, and she pulled off the anger and sympathy while still looking amazing. Dench played the normally unshakable M with a tinge of vulnerability at the thought of a powerful, secretive society right under her nose.
Car, plane and boat chases, highlighted by plain ol' ass-whoopings were plentiful, even if the action was a jumbled mess more often than not. Kurylenko was oh so hot, even with the barely explained scarring. My friends would have preferred to have seen more Gemma Arterton (and I assume her character), but Kurylenko was the appropriate fit to match Bond's fixated and hurried pace.
The Money Shot
I like the homages in Quantum; the Universal Exports business card and the Goldfinger scene helped to remind me this was in fact a Bond film and not some Shooter, Bourne or Transporter wannabe. The superb acting, story and the few allusions to Bonds of yore make Quantum of Solace a formidable addition to the 007 history. I, with five friends in tow, went into Quantum with expectations high. When we all exited expressing similar misgivings about the dark direction of the series, it couldn't let it go unmentioned. Bond has been a spy of unparalleled prowess for decades, it's time he starts to act like one.
I feel the conclusion of Quantum leaves the door open for the series to see a return to familiar ground. Here's a few things that will make this Bond fan extremely happy:
1) Hire a director that can balance well-developed story telling with coherent action sequences.
2) Get some new writing blood so you can lighten (just a bit) the weighty emotional turmoil of the characters.
3) M needs a Miss Moneypenny, if for nothing more than to give Bond a softer, more playful side.
4) We need a nearly unbeatable henchman. A big, burly mutha that Bond can't smackdown in five to seven seconds. He doesn't need any steel-rimmed hat or metal teeth gimmick, he just needs to present a challenge that can't be removed with fists.
5) Bring back the quips! A Bond is only as good as his banter and ability to laugh in the face of danger. I'm not saying go all "Snowboards and California Girls" on us, but a little fun is acceptable.
6) How about Bond have better gadgets than a cell phone that takes really great photos? Again, the car doesn't have to turn invisible, but can we get a tear gas pen?
7) Major Boothroyd a.k.a. Q must not be absent any longer! Hiring Ricky Gervais or Simon Pegg is a bit of overkill for such a small role. Might I suggest Alan Tudyk of Firefly fame or that naked stand-in from Love Actually, Martin Freeman. A charming fellow along these lines will help soften the rugged exterior of Craig-Bond. This, EON Productions, is non-negotiable.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wow! It pays to have a question worth asking. After dismal participation in my Ugly Betty poll, my James Bond poll yielded the highest participation to date; and ran for a fraction of the time! If you don't recall, I wanted to know which actor was your favorite Eon Productions' James Bond. With a total of 15 votes, here's the breakdown:
Pierce Brosnan, George Lazenby and Roger Moore got no love from the masses! Lazenby I totally understand given his single film turn. I don't get all the Brosnan haters. Like my buddy Will said, folks loved him when Goldeneye released but once Casino Royale opened folks were like, "Brosnan was shit!" Fine, be a fair weather Pierce fan, but there is NO EXCUSE for the lack of Roger Moore love. Sure, he was campy and he rarely did his own stunts, but damn if he didn't look and age better than Connery during his Bond stint. Plus Moore was smooth as butter with the ladies. For shame, people. For shame.
Timothy Dalton did get a single vote, but I assume someone's mouse finger slipped. Seriously, this man managed to re-energize the series in his first installment and murder it on his reprisal. To each his own I suppose.
Daniel Craig came onto the scene swinging in Casino Royale and managed to score 3 votes solely on that performance (the poll closed before Quantum opened). I had my doubts monkey-face would have the sex appeal and swagger to pull off Bond, but he brought all that and more to his debut. Tune back in tomorrow to see how I thought he fared in his reprisal.
Sean Connery blew away the competition. Damn straight! Connery set the tone for all Bonds to follow. He was suave and sophisticated, but wasn't afraid to beat a mo fo down, be it a nasty villain or sexy dame. Rugged and irresistible, he was the damn man.
I didn't vote in this poll. I have a rule of thumb about Bonds; the only great ones have made three or more films. That's right. You can't accurately judge a Bond on a couple of films. Sometimes Bond must be more debonair than destructive while others require tact more so than muscle. It can be difficult to balance all those elements in a single story. I have equal love for Connery, Moore and Brosnan. Connery is the no-nonsense original; the ultimate alpha male. Moore was the smooth operator; melt her panties instead of ripping them off. Brosnan brought class to the camp and sharpened the dulled edge of the character. I have much love for Craig, but until he turns in one more installment, he shall not attain true Reel Whore love.
*** New Poll ***
Enough with the Bond love...for now. It's time for a new poll to adorn my sidebar. I'll make this one simple. Everyone's heard the buzz about Frank Miller's The Spirit. Since its Miller's directorial debut I can't miss this film's debut. Still, my spidey-sense is tingling (I'd say I've got the whore itch, but that's just nasty). Anywho...
I'm wondering if we're seeing this Christmas release as not a sign of confidence in the product but as counter programming to Oscar potentials? How will The Spirit move you? Will The Spirit reach new levels of awesomenicity, will it sucka donkey balls or do you not give a damn? The poll will be up for a few weeks.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
DVD Release: 11.18.08
1 hour, 38 minutes
Second Run Seats ($) <
> Matinee ($$$)
The little robot that enamored summer audiences is now available for daily appearances on DVD. WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth-class) is the only functional robot left on Earth to clean the mess left behind by the populace's ultra-consumptive addiction to Buy N Large products. One day a ship lands leaving behind EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator). EVE makes WALL-E swoon; shirking his duties to follow her around even if it takes him to strange, uninviting reaches of the galaxy.
To me, WALL-E was instantly relatable. He took pride in his work, liked to collect nice things and watched movies in his spare time. Watching this dedicated little creature have his life turned topsy turvy in his courtship of a special lady friend is endearing and, dare I say, cute. When that adorable, budding relationship deteriorates into a Rock 'Em Sock 'Em chase plot with a heavy-handed green planet morality I lost all interest in WALL-E, his love story and the fate of humanity.
From all the rave reviews WALL-E garnered when released, its obvious many folks didn't take as much issue with the climactic third act as I did. Even my quibble with the awkward story shift is far from enough to make WALL-E unwatchable. It is, after all, a Pixar production which exist on a whole different level of excellence. Even if you're turned off by the conflicting premises WALL-E encounters, it'll be impossible to resist the lovable lugnut.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
DVD Release: 04.22.08
1 hour, 25 minutes
I think I can safely say I'm one of the last movie buffs to see this flick. It was always the next movie to watch at the theater, which then became the next movie to rent from Netflix. Now, it's safely on its way to another renter's home.
In a New York City high rise, Rob (Michael Stahl-David) enters an apartment full of friends. Lily (Jessica Lucas, She's the Man), and her boyfriend, Rob's brother, Jason (Mike Vogel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre) have organized a going-away party for Rob before he jets off to a new job in Japan. Rob's best bud, Hud (T.J. Miller), is documenting everything using a camcorder. They've even invited Rob's unrequited love, Beth (Odette Yustman, Walk Hard), who shakes things up. What really shakes things up begins in Lower Manhattan. The party deteriorates as the Big Apple comes under siege by forces unknown. As the city is evacuated, the friends must double back to rescue Beth and avoid being caught amid the destruction.
It's always nice to be reminded of all the beautiful people enjoying entertaining parties in the city that never sleeps. For that, you can probably thank director Matt Reeves's Felicity experience. The premise is a twist on the old Godzilla movies, only it exclusively follows the flight of a group of individuals in lieu of the city-wide panic. The jittery hand-held camera action was tolerable (mostly), but I couldn't help but cry bullshit more than a few times during the unfolding devastation. Hud repeatedly stresses the need to document the horrific events so people will understand what occurs. Personally, there comes a time in the escape--say, when I am trying to fend off attackers or when I'm attempting to traverse the roof of a near-collapsed building--that I'm going to say fuck posterity and shut the gorram camera off. Obviously, doing so would ruin the gimmick of the film and is therefore why the camcorder rests in the hands of the functionally inept character.
Overlooking that sticking point, Cloverfield is suspenseful and unrelenting. My only other issue is that Beth needed rescue sooner as she is way too sexy to be absent from this herd of hotties for so long. If you're looking for a decent adrenaline rush and can leave the expectation for realistic sensibilities and valid explanation at the door, Cloverfield is just the ticket.
Monday, November 17, 2008
There's been much ado about James Bond in the Monday Mood Music these past two weeks but it's time for a change.
I finally watched Cloverfield this weekend and a review is forthcoming. During the movie, I couldn't help but remember fondly my weekend afternoons watching old Godzilla movies on the fuzzy UHF channels.
It also reminded me of a great song that only gets radio play on my old college radio station, WKNC 88.1. Sadly, it's a station I never fully appreciated until my graduate years and one that I now cling to amid the onslaught of corporate radio. College radio, Cloverfield and Godzilla, however, really have little meaning in this song. At any rate here's the Flaming Lips with:
Such a great song. Yoshimi may not have saved me from any rampaging robots or monsters, but the mellow melody drowns out Beyoncé's new Single Ladies that's been forcibly inserted into my brain.
Friday, November 14, 2008
DVD Release: 03.13.07
2 hours, 24 minutes
Full Price ($$$$)
After Die Another Day wrapped in 2002 Pierce Brosnan officially “retired” the mantle of James Bond. The search began for the new Bond and many names surfaced; Clive Owen, Jude Law, Ewan McGregor, Henry Cavill, among others. Ultimately, the role went to Daniel Craig (Munich). Many people, myself included, wondered if Craig could measure up to the role.
Casino Royale opens in warm black and white with Bond verbally sparring with a fellow agent. The scene's mood, much like that of the audience, is one of anxiety. Then, like a splash of cold water to the face, the dialogue is interrupted by flashbacks to Bond in a gritty fistfight with an informant. The sequence ends in a familiar way: Bond with gun in hand spins on his heel to face the camera, a shot rings out, and the bleeding gun barrel wavers into the title sequence. Even with one of the quickest and dirtiest openings in a Bond film, the question--can the blue-eyed, blond haired Craig be Bond--was yet to be answered.
Casino Royale is a return to the origins of Bond. Newly promoted to 00 agent status, James is on a mission to follow a trail of bombers and blood money to find the funding source for terrorists. After disappointing boss M (Judi Dench, Tomorrow Never Dies), Bond continues his search which leads him to the banker Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen, King Arthur). Bond, accompanied by HM Treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), must infiltrate a high stakes card tournament in the hopes of defeating Le Chiffre, and thus destroy his organization.
Like many Bond films before it, Casino Royale incorporates the latest cultural fads to update this decades-old character. Bond plays Texas Hold ’em, villains text message, the buzzword is terrorism, and James even has an extended chase of a bomb maker where the two utilize their aptitude for the French extreme sport of parkour. But like every Bond film, the basics are still prevalent: the tailored tuxedo, the loaded Astin Martin, the dry wit and the martini shaken, not stirred. Director Martin Campbell (Goldeneye) reignites the series. He captures a look and feel of Bond reminiscent of the Sean Connery era. Scenes in the Bahamas have a vibrant, crisp almost Technicolor feel to them. Bond’s wardrobe is trim, stylish yet classic. In fact, a scene of Craig swaggering to the hotel in a white linen shirt and pressed, bluegray slacks immediately conjures an image of Connery. And if that isn’t enough for you, seeing Craig take a “spin around the block” in a 1964 Astin Martin will definitely hearken back to the films of yore. Much like Connery and Brosnan, Craig is a no-nonsense Bond. He meets danger head-on with unparalleled smugness and can spit lines that make women buckle at the knees. But when the time for talk is over, Bond throws down be it in slugfests or elaborate action sequences. Craig portrays Bond as a man on a mission, one which often requires that, without hesitation, he get his hands dirty.
As for the story, most classic elements remain. Aside from some spectacular cellular technology, Royale is fairly devoid of the standard array of Q inspired gadgets and Q himself. Even Miss Moneypenny got a holiday. Royale doesn't even have hat-throwing assassins or massive overgrown thugs to hinder Bond. At least, the film does have a brief appearance by Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright, Syriana). Mikkelsen has a seediness to his visage that’ll make Le Chiffre an instantly memorable Bond villain. And Le Chiffre’s special lady friend Valenka, played by Ivana Milicevic (Love Actually) says little but has an equally up-to-no-good look in her eyes. Speaking of women, Bond has a turn with breath-taking ladies Eva Green and Caterina Murino.
Casino Royale sets the record as the longest Bond film ever made at nearly two and a half hours. It was only near the end that the length weighed on me. I am uncertain whether it was due to tidying a few unwieldy loose plot elements or if I just needed a bathroom break. Despite these few minutes of languid storytelling, I wasn’t about to excuse myself no matter how briefly, from this riveting film. The only fault I truly have with the film is that it had one of the weakest title sequences in years, though the title song by Chris Cornell was on point.
As mentioned, Milicevic, Green and Murino provide a wealth of Bond-woman hotness. Murino in particular makes you wish Casino Royale could have been the first R-rated Bond film! But Craig is no slouch himself. He gets several opportunities to prove that Bond has to look as good out of his clothes as he does in them. Whether he’s rising from the ocean or being tortured for his secrets, Craig’s rock hard pecs and abs will make you think twice, maybe even three times about messing with Bond. Craig uses those mus-kles to beat down the bad guys with a callous brutality. This Bond film definitely spills more than its share of blood.
The Money Shot
So with the film watched and all that said, is Craig Bond? I must admit to being a Craig skeptic from the moment he was chosen for the role. But having seen the film, I say with certainty he has the swagger, the demeanor and the charisma to be Bond. I personally still think his face looks like that of a battered monkey at times but only in certain lighting. Primate poutiness aside, I can’t wait to see where Craig and the new era of Bond take the world, and I hope you will be as excited as I am.
Not to disappoint you, but this is not a post about some amateur video starring Adriana Lima giving a Dutch Rudder after a night of too much green tea and appletinis. This post is actually a double team review of two comedies featuring a ton of Judd Apatow regulars sans the Apatow influence.
1 hour, 35 minutes
Full Price ($$$$) <
> Matinee ($$$)
1 hour, 41 minutes
In Role Models, Danny (Paul Rudd, 40 Year Old Virgin) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott, Road Trip) are spokesmen for the energy drink Minotaur. After ten years at the firm, Danny's increasingly bitter existence leads him to some destructive shenanigans, leaving both he and Wheeler to do 30 days jail time or serve 150 hours of community service. Chosing the supposed lesser sentence, Danny and Wheeler join Sturdy Wings, mentoring Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Superbad) and Ronnie (Bobb'e J. Thompson, Idlewild), respectively. The two most difficult 'Littles' paired with the two most inept "Bigs," what could possibly happen?
Miri (Elizabeth Banks, Seabiscuit) shares a dilapidated apartment with her best friend Zack (Seth Rogen, Pineapple Express). Niether are particularly motivated to do any more than amble through life until their water and power are shut off in the middle of winter in Monroesville, PA. Zack, having recently met a porn star at their high school reunion, decides he and Miri should make an amatuer porno to earn quick cash. Enlisting friends and hiring some talent, the movie really starts coming together until complications arise from the friends, um, coming together.
I expected the hilarity of Role Models to be saddled on the backs of a couple of characters. Surprisingly the four fellows each share the burden, getting equal time in the limelight. Jane Lynch (A Mighty Wind) has a funny albeit bizarre role as the Sturdy Wings founder, Gale. While her and others are recognized as recent Apatow faves, the film is a product of The State crew, including Ken Marino (TV: Reaper), Keri Kenney-Silver (TV: Reno 911!), and director David Wain. The resulting combination is effective, producing a steady stream of laughter...relying only once on some minor bathroom humor.
Though Banks and Rogen, along with Craig Robinson (Walk Hard), have gained popularity through Apatow's films, you know Kevin Smith (Jersey Girl) is behind the helm when Jason Mewes (Mallrats) and Jeff Anderson (Clerks) also star. As usual, Rogen plays Rogen, only there are times when you can close your eyes and swear it was Smith talking. If there's one shining performance it's Justin Long (Accepted) in a brief appearance as Bobby Long, the outspoken partner of Zack and Miri's former schoolmate. It's obvious everyone is having a blast, running around partially to completely nude, spouting tons of raunchy dialogue in an effort to hide the fact that Z&M is little more than a romantic comedy a la Clerks II.
Paul Rudd truly is adorable, even when pouty and pissy. Seann William Scott does tone down the Stifler act, but his sexual escapades exposes not only a few women's bare chests, but his extremely firm buttocks and body. If your offended by expletive spewing kids, or expletives in general, Role Models will undoubtedly offend. Some fighting occurs, both mean and good spirited, but the foam weapons used make it funnier than violent.
As with most Smith fare, Zack and Miri is sure to expand your carnal knowledge base whether you wanted or not. Sex scenes are more laughable than explicit, but can be disturbing for those tamer in the bedroom. Porn stars Traci Lords (Blade) and Katie Morgan dominate the sex scenes (especially Katie's assets). If you are bothered by lots of raunchy sex and sex talk, nasty bathroom humor and the male form then maybe you should pass this by.
The Money Shot
If I had to choose between the two Banks-able projects, just looking at the marquee would be difficult. With Role Models and Zack and Miri Make a Porno both having a sampling of my favorite comedic actors and writers, you have to turn to the execution of their stories.
In the end, Role Models wins for being a well-balanced tale of awkward children reminding the adults life isn't any less awkward when grown. It's a little sugary, but the live action role playing and KISS references add a few fun twists along the way.
Zack and Miri is no slouch by any means. Not a Kevin Smtih best, but hardly a worst either. If vulgarity and goofy hits your funny bone just right, you'll find your money well spent. This is a must-see for fans of Justin Long. Though his part is small, it's not the size that matters, its what he does with it.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
With Quantum of Solace just hours away I have returned with a list of my favorite henchmen (or should it be henchpersons?) that have opposed Bond over the years. Like yesterday's 007 Women post, I have a few caveats:
1) These seven thugs are in alphabetical order, not ranked.
2) The greatness of the Bond film is not a factor.
3) The character's gimmick is usually a major factor.
4) These are memorable, and not necessarily effective, henchmen.
Here are the Reel Whore's
Character: Baron Samedi
Movie: Live and Let Die (1973)
This was a close call between Samedi and Tee Hee, but the deep laugh and general insanity of Holder wins out. While Samedi goes out like a bitch, being dumped into a coffin of snakes, it's fun to see him get the last laugh.
Character: Xenia Zaragevna Onatopp
Movie: Goldeneye (1995)
A female assassin who kills men by strangling them with her thighs; how could Onatopp not make the Reel Whore list? Seductive and severely imbalanced, Janssen plays this Bond nemesis perfectly. If he had to die, what better way for Bond to go than between her thighs?
Character: May Day
Movie: A View To a Kill (1985)
No one is quite as strange as Strangé. And who better than Grace Jones to play the lover of Christopher Walken's Zorin, May Day? Her hysterical laugh and flamboyance make her impossible to forget. Plus, she's one of the few women who seem more in control in the sack than Bond.
Movie: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979)
Richard Kiel has the distinction of being the only henchman to confront Bond in two films. He's massive, menacing and he's got metal teeth! Jaws, a force to be reckoned his first go'round, sadly becomes comic relief in Moonraker.
Character: Rosa Klebb
Movie: From Russia With Love (1963)
Cold and calculating, Lenya portrays Rosa Klebb as the scariest freaking agent of SPECTRE. From barking orders to making her minions squirm, Klebb is one woman you don't want to be locked in a room with. Especially since her weapon of choice is a poison-tipped shoe dagger!
Movie: Goldfinger (1964)
A character of no words, Oddjob was the manservant of Goldfinger, doing everything from caddying to assassinations. Oddjob's most memorable scene is beheading a stone statue by throwing his Metal Rimmed Hat.
Character: Nick Nack
Movie: The Man With the Golden Gun (1974)
The most diminutive henchman Bond has ever faced, Villechaize got no respect. Manservant to Scaramanga, Nick Nack filled roles from chef to assassin. He ran the island and all its psychedelic traps. Too bad his final fight was so utterly humiliating.
Once again, when I feared my memory had grown too fuzzy, I used the James Bond Multimedia to get the facts straight.
Don't like my tastes? Let me know which henchmen you remember most!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
With Quantum of Solace a few days away I wanted to list who I felt were the best and most beautiful Bond women from the near half-century of films. I want to make a few points clear going into the list:
1) These seven women are in alphabetical order, not ranked.
2) The greatness of the Bond film is not a factor.
3) The character's name is never a factor...well almost.
4) I omitted Bond villainesses, choosing to swoon only for the good girls.
Here are the Reel Whore's
Character: Major Anya Amasova a.k.a. Agent XXX
Movie: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Bach plays the Soviet, female equal of James Bond. The best spy in the field, Agent XXX works with and against Bond to stop the villain, Stromberg. She is fierce and independent and looks amazing in every scene, especially during the flooding of Atlantis.
Character: Giancinta "Jinx" Johnson
Movie: Die Another Day (2002)
Jinx, an NSA operative is also an equal to James Bond. She lives on the edge and isn't afraid to love 'em and leave 'em, even the sexually formidable 007. Her most memorable scene is without a doubt, the orange bikini-Ursula Andress tribute.
Character: Pussy Galore
Movie: Goldfinger (1964)
If ever a Bond woman's name added to their hotness, it has to be Pussy Galore. Despite the insane moniker, Blackman is a strong, defiant, enterprising woman (though the lesbian "conversion" scene is questionable). To this day, I agree with Mr. Bond's words upon first meeting her, "I must be dreaming."
Character: Dr. Holly Goodhead
Movie: Moonraker (1979)
With the most unfortunate name of any Bond woman, Chiles holds her head high in this so-so Bond film. As NASA astronaut and CIA Agent, the bright Dr. Goodhead teams with Bond to defeat the mastermind Drax and the brute force of his henchman Jaws; all while looking stunning in a yellow spacesuit.
Character: Natalya Fyordorovna Simonova
Movie: Goldeneye (1995)
A computer programmer in a Russian Space Control Centre, Natalya is as intelligent as she is sexy. Without her computer skills, Bond would not have been able to stop Trevelyan. Her most memorable work is watching her smugly trump her demeaning coworker, Boris.
Movie: Live and Let Die (1973)
A fortune teller for New Orleans drug lord, Mr. Big, Solitaire isn't as strong as other Bond women. She blindly follows the Tarot, a weakness Bond exploits. Still, from Seymour's first scene to when she's flipped up into a train bed, there's never been a more stunning damsel in distress.
Movie: You Only Live Twice (1967)
An agent of Tiger Tanaka, Bond's Osaka contact, Aki becomes invaluable to Bond in his pursuit of SPECTRE as well as his after-hours pursuits. Though Bond marries in the following film, her multitude of talents gives Aki the distinction of being Bond's first serious consideration of marriage.
I've seen these Bond films countless times over the years, but I found James Bond Multimedia to be an invaluable source for clearing up the grayer areas of my memory. Reviewing my choices I find it funny that two of my choices were Soviet/Russian characters. Considering that Daniela Bianchi (From Russia With Love) was barely edged out of my Top 007 and that I am extremely excited to see Olga Kurylenko this weekend, methinks I see a trend.
Don't like my tastes? Let me know who you're fave 007 Bond women are!
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sorry stargazers, no Beastie Boys here this week. I didn't want to do another play on the whole, Bond...James Bond thing like last week.
As you all I know, I am more than a little excited about the opening of Quantum of Solace this Friday. That's only four friggin' days away! I am even more excited thanks to the film's official song. Why? Three reasons:
I love Alicia Keys. She is amazing.
I love Jack White. He is amazing.
I love Bond movies. This song captures that essence, well, amazingly.
If you haven't heard Keys and White's collabo on Another Way To Die, crawl out from under that rock and give it a listen:
I can hardly wait to see this song's accompanying title sequence. This duet gave me such a sigh of relief. Rumor has it, Beyoncé Knowles was originally tapped to perform the new song, *shudder* She'd probably have wanted a part in the film, too. No thanks! We can do without another Madonna debacle.
Actually, If you're reading this Eon Productions and Ms. Broccoli, the next installment of Bond should feature a title song performed by the sexy, talented, international sensation Shakira. And if she wants a part, I'd have no complaints. Who's with me?
Friday, November 7, 2008
Can you believe it is already Friday? More importantly, it's the first Friday of November, so let's get the Gang Bang underway.
Since I was indisposed in October, I resorted to a series of Trailer Trash quickies to get through the month's new releases. While it tided me over, it didn't compare to the pulse-pounding onslaught of trailers at all at once. For November, IMDB says we have eleven major releases. Sweet, let's see what they are:
Exercise the Right To Cinematic Celibacy.
Madagascar 2: Escape to Africa (11.07) I didn't care one thin dime to see Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith or David Schwimmer voice dumb NYC zoo animals the first time. Why would I give a rat's ass about seeing the quartet reprise the lame idea in an African setting? No, no, no and NO I say to them all.
House (11.07) Taking a cue from the Simpsons, the horror-hopeful House is dropped a week after Halloween. While intriguing at first, the trailer turns tired as the guests of the B&B are prodded and poked a la Saw style to kill one to save the remainder. Shameless twists and turns are sure to ensue and if Michael Madsen is the big name draw, well...
Twilight (11.21) Buzz, buzz, buzz is all you hear about the novel phenomena known as Twilight, the tale of teenage vampire love. I recall similar praise heaped on Eragon years back and we all know how much that film sucked. I'm holding out hope Twilight will satisfy the romantics but us vampire lovers may find it lacking. Point in fact, Bella points out that Edward doesn't go out in the sunlight yet why is every scene of the trailer during the day???
It's Friday, I Don't Want to be Alone.
Bolt (11.21) The concept of a 3-D cartoon super pooch is exciting and cute until you learn two things. 1) The pooch isn't really an Underdog type, he's just delusional. 2) The cute pooch is voiced by John Travolta. The hamster and his ball meet the required funny as far as pudgy sidekicks go, but watching that ball fly out of the screen 3-D style may grow old quickly.
Four Christmases (11.26) Is it just me or is Vince Vaughn trying to become the new Tim Allen?! Granted this looks more tolerable than last year's Fred Claus largely thanks to Jon Favreau and Robet Duvall's insane looking characters. I am certain this will earn beau coup box office, but it will take serious convincing to pull me away from my time-tested holiday DVD stable.
Australia (11.26) The visually stimulating works of Baz Luhrman; Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge! open the Australia promo. The spectacular landscape looks worth the price of admission, but Luhrman films have never been steeped in such serious tones as these. I'm hoping his eccentricity will prevail over Nicole Kidman's bad box office mojo, but the trailer promises no such revelations.
Moist With Antici...Pation!
Soul Men (11.07) This is one of two films that feature the late Bernie Mac (the other being his voice in Madagascar 2). I was not going to miss seeing him in this hilarious-looking starring role. In fact, I've already seen it, so why not read my full review.
Repo! The Genetic Opera (11.07) Saw director Darren Lynn Bousman takes us on what can only be described as one freaky-deaky theatrical thrill ride. A futuristic world with organ transplants, debt collectors and lots of singing has contemporary cult appeal akin to Rocky Horror (unlike the wannabe MTV remake of RHPS, boo hiss!). But I digress. With Buffy costar Anthony Head playing the Repo Man, you can expect solid acting and singing. Paris Hilton's billing scares me, but fingers crossed she'll die an ugly death like in House of Wax.
Role Models (11.07) Though the Apatow shingle is nowhere to be seen, Role Models features many of Judd's regulars, specifically Paul Rudd. He and Seann William Scott are callous slackers who get out of jail time by serving 150 hours of community service as Sturdy Wings big brothers. They'll undoubtedly learn life lessons thanks to their mentoring, but it looks like we'll all laugh our asses off along the way. This film was made in support of the McLovin' Fund:
Quantum of Solace (11.14) Picking up immediately after 2006's Casino Royale, the return of Craig-Bond looks to continue its dramatic, action-packed glory. A bonus is that the smoking Olga Kurylenko is starring opposite 007. It's obvious I'll be there opening weekend, is there any reason you won't?
Transporter 3 (11.26) The third in the series doesn't promise much in originality, ripping off a Speed-esque gimmick to keep the Transporter (Jason Statham) near his vehicle or die. Unbelievable yes, but no need for the series to get realistic now. The best part, Statham is back to his few words-more action motif; a welcome change after suffering through the painful inner monologue of LAMB MOTM Revolver.
Limited Releases I did not review include The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Slumdog Millionaire, Christmas Tale, Special, and Sean Penn's Milk. I was tempted to tackle these as well, but I believe I ache enough already. See you at the theater!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
1 hour, 43 minutes
Full-Price ($$$$) <
> Matinee ($$$)
Marcus Hooks and the Real Deal rose to stardom in the sixties. Then Marcus (John Legend) realized his star would rise quicker without his backup duo, Floyd Henderson (Bernie Mac, Guess Who) and Louis Hinds (Samuel L. Jackson, Black Snake Moan). The Real Deal tried to make sweet music without Marcus but eventually parted ways due to some "personal differences."
Floyd ran a successful business and is now living restlessly in a retirement community. Jackson reprised his Coming to America role to portray Hinds's post-musical venture. After all these years, Marcus has died and the Real Deal is asked to reunite for a tribute at the Apollo. With only five days until the show, Floyd and Louis must dust off their polyester suits, vocal chords and retro-choreography while setting aside their issues to pay final respects to their friend.
Soul Men, directed by Malcolm D. Lee (Roll Bounce), is one of the last Bernie Mac films and he steals the spotlight. At the top of his game, Mac acts silly, raunchy and seemingly has a blast with his costars. Seeing Mac shout profanities at Jackson made me momentarily sad at his passing but he was just too damn funny to allow the depression to linger.
Proud, tough and obnoxious, Jackson is true to form. Both Jackson and Mac sing the Real Deal's hits, which helps audiences understand why their music careers never survived without Marcus. Instead of crafting "authentic" Real Deal hits, the songs are a selection from the classic Motown catalog.
Also unoriginal is the formulaic road trip romp to reach the Apollo. In dire straits, the duo must visit Mac's ex-wife Odetta only to find her daughter Cleo (Sharon Leal, Dreamgirls). Cleo is living with wannabe thug rapper Lester (Affion Crockett, The Boondocks) who hams it up as badly as Ray Liotta in Wild Hogs. There's even a White Chocolate ultra fan of the Real Deal and VH1 lackey, Phillip (Adam Herschman, Accepted), in charge of getting the duo to the show. Thankfully, Lee keeps the pace quick, not allowing audiences to ponder the goofy clichés and unrealistic events that hinder Soul Men's greatness.
Still, Mac and Jackson let both barrels loose with extremely vulgar insults, sexual shenanigans and some low key violence. Busty and booty-ful women parade around, some giving glimpses of nudity. Seeming as how pornstars are the new motion picture mainstay, Vanessa del Rio pops in, or rather, out briefly.
The Money Shot
Soul Men focuses on entertainers trying to reignite the spark in their lives. It's such a shame that Bernie Mac's light was extinguished so suddenly. As the credits roll, Lee honors Bernie Mac showing clips of Bernie discussing his success with humility and humor. Regardless of acclaim, fans will flock to Soul Men for Bernie Mac. As well they should, it's his show.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Remember, remember the fifth of November. In honor of Guy Fawkes Night and the rousing victory speech President-elect Barack Obama gave around midnight this day (EST), I thought it'd be appropriate to revisit this film:
V for Vendetta
DVD Release: 08.01.06
2 hours, 12 minutes
Full Price ($$$$)
By enlisting the aid of the talented and effervescent Portman alongside the haunting demeanor of Hugo Weaving (The Matrix ), McTeigue had the toughest work of story-telling covered. Portman, adept at playing opposite non-existent Star Wars creatures, proved equally extraordinary acting opposite an expressionless face. Weaving spouts extensive, emancipative dialogue flawlessly, imparting eloquence to the purported monster behind the mask. When V is not haranguing the tyranny of the society, he is delivering severe yet stylistic ass-whoopins to anyone attempting to oppress. Portman gets in a few one-two punches herself though it’s her conveyance of Evey’s revelations and subsequent evolution that grips audiences.
If audiences are unsure of the film’s intent; yes, it has political undertones. The story is designed to inspire unease with complacency and to urge freedom of thought as the precedent to all other freedoms. Clever wordplay is found to be sharper and more lethal than any bombs, daggers or karate gimmicks V utilizes. Multi-layered meanings and the repetition of symbols and situations help bond the lives of the main characters as well as the lives of the masses. Surprisingly, the film is not action-packed but sets an exciting and thrilling pace simply through discourse and careful sequencing while the plot unveils. V for Vendetta is a contemporary allegory worthy of attention for more than its stylistic filming.
Well, Portman doesn’t sport a thong a la Closer, but audiences would flock if they knew she dresses in a “Good Ship Lollipop” motif complete with a lacy pink dress, knee high socks and Mary Janes, and let’s not forget pin curl pigtails. Had a few scenes of that image been included in the trailer, the opening box office would’ve increased by another $5 million, easy. Fans of Natalie need not worry about her hairless head; she looks almost sexy enough to bring the Sinead O’Connor cut back into fashion. Those not interested in Portman will be out of luck as Vendetta is devoid of anyone else attractive, unless bloated Brits or gaunt interment-camp prisoners are your thing. The action is good and bloody but occurs infrequently. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially since the scenes shown are very vicious and violent.
The Money Shot
No doubt, Vendetta has a bone to pick with oppression, and more so with any society that allows oppression to persist. The director cloaks the film in a veil of action and style but Vendetta’s memorable dialogue, contributed by both the vigilante and onlookers, will ring in your ears long after viewing. V for Vendetta can best be summed up by Evey: “Artists use lies to tell the truth. Politicians use them to cover it up.” You should pay to listen to what these artists are saying.