Monday, August 31, 2009

MMM: Whistling 'Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah'...

Stargazers, can you believe September is right around the corner? What's even harder for me to believe is that in less than a month it will have been a year since I let the doctors get a hold of me. After all their slicing, dicing and watch-leaving, I had four long months of recovery and then BAM! it was back to the daily grind. Since February, movies have been my primary source of diversion. That is until now. Reel Whore is headed to DragonCon for my first vacation since July '08!

As I sift and sort my way through the massive tome the Con calls the Pocket Guide, I can't help but hum the only tune appropriate for an exciting road trip. Oh yes, as a child molded by eighties movies, this Monday Mood Music selection encapsulates the giddiness building within me. I can only hope I experience nothing as disheartening or frustrating on my excursion as Clark Griswold did driving the Truckster cross country in National Lampoon's Vacation.

I don't know about you, but Holiday Road is one helluva fun song. I always associate this song with Chevy Chase and the hilarious hi jinks of the Griswolds. Until today I never knew it was performed by Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac. I also never knew it had one of the most boring music videos ever. The blank faces, foggy background and red lighting tries to suck the peppiness right out of the song. If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's your chance to see Holiday Road in a whole different light:

Holiday Road - Lindsey Buckingham

...Praise Marty Moose! Holy Shit!

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, August 28, 2009

Counting Down the Zeroes: My Sweet Dick, It's Magic!

This post is part of COUNTING DOWN THE ZEROES, brought to you by IBETOLIS of FILM FOR THE SOUL.


*****************



Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Release: 06.18.04
DVD Release: 12.07.04
Rated PG-13
1 hours, 32 minutes


See It, Take a Friend, Buy the DVD!



The summer of 2004 was one of those fortuitous moments when the fantasy of the movies and my routine reality crossed paths. Having recently seen Dodgeball in theaters, my girlfriend and I were walking around quoting lines incessantly. One day, a flyer at our apartment announced a dodgeball game convening at the tennis courts. A resident with a handful of those hard rubber balls, inked with stylish Spongebob and Spider-Man artwork, beckoned us to join in the fun. This weekly stress relief evolved into joining our city league, and five years later, we still find ourselves enjoying this 'child's game.' Those who know dodgeball know it's not for the weak of heart...

Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn, Starsky & Hutch), owner of Average Joe's Gymnasium, has learned that his gym is near the brink of foreclosure; partly due to his laid-back business tactics, but mostly due to his rival, White Goodman (Ben Stiller, Zoolander). The narcissistic Goodman wants Joe's shutdown so he can add extra parking for the members of his corporate Adonis factory, Globo Gym. With little time, La Fleur and with his rag-tag band of employees and clients do the only thing possible to generate the needed cash: enter the American Dodgeball Association of America International Dodgeball Championship in Las Vegas. The Joes' quest and their pathetic dodgeball skills catch the attention of seven-time all-star dodgeball champion Patches O'Houlihan (Rip Torn, Men in Black) who offers his expertise to help defeat Goodman's Purple Cobras team, win the $50,000 and save their gym.

I hold writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber in high regard mainly because he, like me, believes Ghostbusters to be the best comedy ever made. Prior to Dodgeball, Thurber directed the Terry Tate, Office Linebacker commercials for Reebok. After shopping his script around, Ben Stiller's Red Hour Films picked it up, and with Thurber attached to direct, the fun began. In the commentary, Thurber mentions an old adage that "90% of directing is casting." In this instance, I couldn't agree more.


To read the full post, head over to Film for the Soul...

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Trailer Trash: The August 28th Quickie

It's the last weekend of August releases! The last two weeks were average looking at best and the same can be said of this week's cinematic choices. With all the pre-pre-Halloween horror now in theaters along with Tarantino's Basterds, methinks I'll be having a blood and gore marathon this weekend.

Here's just how exciting (from best to w
orst) these IMDb releases look:


Taking Woodstock (08.28) Of all the middling fare, this has the best chance for greatness. Ang Lee's take on Woodstock is intriguing, but watching Liev Schreiber rocking Cagney drag promises to be even more so. Demetri Martin and the ensemble cast should be a blast, but why wasn't this released two weeks ago, on the 40th anniversary of Peace & Music?

Verdict: It's Friday, I Don't Want to be Alone.


Halloween II (08.28) I was ultra-hyped to see Rob Zombie's definitive take on Halloween back in 2007. However, watching Zombie "complete his extreme vision" seems redundant. I enjoy unadulterated gore and Sheri Moon Zombie too much to skip this, but if the legend of Michael Myers needs to "conclude his horrifying rampage" in 2011, I may just pass.

Verdict: It's Friday, I Don't Want to be Alone.


Big Fan (08.28) Hearing about a movie starring Patton Oswalt, I expected a slap-sticky, hit-or-miss gutbuster. Instead this dark drama looks to be anything but. I hope this proves to be a breakout for Oswalt, but this may be far too depressing for sports fans with football season right around corner.


Verdict: It's Friday, I Don't Want to be Alone.


The Final Destination (08.28) Speaking of big fans, I always liked the Final Destination franchise. That said, this fourth installment, which scooped up a "The" dropped by Fast & Furious looks to be mainly cashing in on the Real crappy 3D fad. Since I haven't been disappointed by any of this series so far, the 2D version should at least be worth a a few bucks, more if they bring Tony Todd back.

Verdict: It's Friday, I Don't Want to be Alone.



You'll be happy to know Trailer Trash will return to full Gang Bang glory in September. Aren't you tingling with excitement? I am, and not just because Mike Judge's new movie Extract is opening, though Jason Bateman and Mila Kunis can cause uncontrollable urges in even the best of us.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Looks Great, Less Thrilling

Julie & Julia


Release: 08.07.09
Rated PG-13
2 hours, 3 minutes


Matinee



A couple weeks back, me and my two movie buds purchased tickets to our latest weekend distraction. As we entered into the theater lobby, something seemed wrong. As I looked around, I came to the only logical conclusion, which spun me on my heels and back out the door. I arched my head to the sky, certain I'd spy a hovering mothership. No, I don't live in Johannesburg and wasn't duped into thinking the prawns had landed. From the crowd within the theater's walls, I was certain it was Cocoon: The Return all over again. Seriously, I couldn't believe the gobs of elderly people weren't being led by Wilford Brimley astride a white stallion, or at the very least, Brimley on a Hover-Round painted white and trimmed in silver.

Turns out, the nursing home had loaded up the residents, delayed their ususal 4pm dinner, and dropped them off for the late afternoon show of Julie & Julia. Makes sense since most of these folks would have been young homemakers during the dawning of the era of Julia Child (Meryl Streep, Adaptation). Specifically, the film adapted and directed by Nora Ephron (What Women Want) focuses half its attention on the rise of Julia Child as a culinary force. Her story begins as she and husband Paul (Stanley Tucci, Swing Vote) move to France and continues as she writes her first cookbook.

Ephron balances Julia's story with that of Julie Powell, a struggling writer who starts a blog chronicling her endeavor to complete Julia Child's book of 524 recipes within a year. Amy Adams plays Julie and was largely recognizable by this geriatric crowd as Streep's costar in Doubt, the movie they saw on their last field trip. Where Julia and Paul are portrayed as a perfectly amorous couple, the relationship between Julie and her husband, Eric (John Messina, Away We Go), is strained by the stress of her blogging project.

In both worlds, the obstacles presented to Julie and Julia are never dire or degrading. Julia is despised by only one of her Cordon Bleu professors. Julie feels inadequate when compared to her more successful peers. Julie confides her marital troubles to best friend Sarah, played by Who's That Lady Mary Lynn Rasjkub (Sunshine Cleaning). Julia has to find a husband for her big sis, Dorothy, played by another Who's That Lady, Jane Lynch (Role Models). Julia and her colleagues write a French cookbook that is exceptionally lengthy. Julie has resigned herself to a government job instead of her writing dream. This is not so much a tale of overcoming overwhelming odds as it is a light-hearted romp over life's little speedbumps.

Dirty Undies
From the animalistic grunts and purrs of the aged audience, you would have thought we were watching Eyes Wide Shut or 9 1/2 Weeks. In actuality, the oohs and ahhhs were at the sight of the exquisite-looking meals prepared and eaten by the ladies. Butter-slathered filet of sole, decadent chocolate cake and beef bourgogne made many a viewer orgasmic. I have to admit, the meals were the most delectable looking things onscreen, and that's saying a lot, given I'd gobble up Amy Adams.

The Money Shot
Julie & Julia is as light anf fluffy as the Bavarian cremes you could whip up from Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Streep and Adams deliver the goods with their usual poise, though these portrayals didn't require that much heavy lifting. Still, the congenial costars and delectable food add a pinch of fun into an otherwise forgettable film.

LAMBScore:
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Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Double Team'd: Searching for Good DC.

We comic book fans have heard repeatedly about the on-again-off-again saga of DC comic titles at the hands of Warner Brothers Pictures. The Justice League was on; now it's off. Superman came back, but is now gathering dust on a shelf. The Flash was revving up, only to have the brakes deployed. We won't even get started on the repeated raping of my Wonder Woman hopes. Now rumors are that the Ryan Reynolds'-starrer Green Lantern is about to suffer from wishy-washy syndrome due to rising costs of an Australian production.

Luckily, the Animation arm of Warner Brothers knows how to put product on the street. Granted, they may not always do a bang-up job, but at least we comic nerds have two recent choices for our fix.


Wonder Woman


DVD Release: 03.06.2009
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 14 minutes


See It, Take a Friend, Buy the DVD!



US Air Force pilot Steve Trevor (Nathan Fillion, Serenity) crashes on an uncharted island. He finds himself at the feet of a race of warrior women, the Amazons. No man has ever set foot on the island of Themyscira. During his appearance, the war god Ares (Alfred Molina, Spider-Man 2) escapes from prison and begins to wage war on the world. By winning a challenge, the Queen's only daughter, Princess Diana (Keri Russell, Waitress), is tasked with being the first Amazon to enter the world of man to escort Trevor home and capture Ares.

I honestly don't get how Warner Brothers Pictures can't greenlight a Wonder Woman film. This animated tale rocked! The story, penned by Gail Simone and Michael Jelenic, sucks you in from the start. In the opening sequence, we see the Amazons in brutal battle with the armies of Ares. Though much is done in silhouette, viewers can feel the slicing of the blades and watch the carnage as heads literally fly. The rough-and-tumble is balanced with comedy; first at the awkwardness of Trevor in his foreign surroundings, and then by Diana as she attempts to manuever in strange lands.

The voice casting is perfect. Nathan Fillion's a hoot as the quick-with-a-line Trevor, but his voice carries the weight of the cojones to back up Diana in dangerous situations. If a live-action film ever goes forward, only Fillion should be considered for Trevor role. Unfortunately, I can't envision Keri Russell sporting the bracelets and lasso, but I think she could definitely fill any other Amazonian woman's boots.

There's not much more to say about Wonder Woman. An action-packed, captivating story and great voice casting combine to make the movie I only wish the studio would get off their ass to make. The only way to make it a reality is to show love for this well-deserving character by putting your money where your cinema wishes are.



Green Lantern: First Flight


DVD Release: 07.28.2009
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 17 minutes


Second Run Seats



While running simulations, test pilot Hal Jordan (Christopher Meloni, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle) is abducted by a dying alien. The alien's power ring has chosen Jordan to succeed the alien as a Green Lantern, an intergalactic police force. Jordan is taken to Oa, the home planet of the Lanterns' creators, the Guardians, where he is trained and evaluated by Sinestro (Victor Garber, Jeffrey) as to his worthiness to wear the ring. Meanwhile, the evil Kanjar Ro (Kurtwood Simth, RoboCop) works to develop a weapon that will rival the Lanterns' power.

After my Wonder Woman experience, I was stoked to see the marvels achieved with the adaptation of Green Lantern's mythology. Watching this, I got to ask, is that the best you got? The story and central conflict are taut and intriguing, thanks to the writing of Alan Burnett (Batman: Gotham Knight). The voice casting was solid, but lacked nuance. When you're dealing with a gaggle of blue-skinned, stubby floating aliens, it should really be easier to distinguish one character from another.

Voicing quibbles aside, the huge letdown came with the animation. The power of Green Lanterns is in their rings, not their physique, so I'd have preferred the gangly classic Sinestro to First Flight Sinestro's impressive Schwarzenegger stature. There are also continuity issues concerning the power rings that nagged at me. Those issues are minor when compared to the action. The awesomeness of a Green Lantern is its ability to fabricate any number of objects to resolve the conflict at hand. Occasionally, Sinestro wills into being a net or Jordan conjures a golf club, but by and large, the Lanterns just point and shoot green beams of energy like Old West gunslingers. Ingenious fabrications created through sheer willpower, not Mighty Morphin' blaster rings, are what makes the Lantern Corps cool.

I think the live-action Green Lantern film is a mistake. Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps would make a far better television series. Spend the first year focusing on Jordan learning the powers of the ring, then by season finale have the world of the Guardians and the Corps revealed to him, when bigger budgets would only improve the series. I've gotten off track a bit, but the point is Green Lantern is a complex mythology and a full length feature will be hard pressed to do it justice. First Flight made a decent attempt, but aside from being a passable entry into the DC DVD line, it never shatters any barriers.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, August 24, 2009

MMM: And It's Contagious

'Round here, Mondays begin with music. Those who check into this feature regularly may have noticed my tastes can be all over the place. Every once in a while, the Monday Mood Music and my movie lovin' cross paths. Such is the case this week.

After a month of waiting, I finally got to see two of my favorite yummy thespians, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, in their new film (500) Days of Summer. I'll save my critique for later this week, but I love a movie with music that really stands out (in the complementary way, that is). The music of (500) Days is such a soundtrack, spurring me to add it to my wishlist. I'd say I'd run out and buy it, but I have a feeling my wife may walk through the door with a copy within a day or two. I'd pretty much expected to remember the dreaminess of the leads, so coming away whistling several tunes in my head was just a bonus.

As such, this week's selection is the film's first song, Us, by Regina Spektor. Given my unhealthy obsession over piano-playing ladies, I hate to admit that I don't own any of the Soviet-born artist's albums. (500) Days has reminded me that during my next music bender, I will need to remedy this oversight. When digging into the details of this tune, I was surprised to learn that not only was this her second single (in the UK), it was also from her first album back in 2004. I'm much, much farther behind on her discography than I ever realized.

I'm sure you're not interested in my music collection's gaping Spektor hole; you want to hear this queer little ditty. The accompanying video is bizarrely brilliant, though the director may have had more than a slight preoccupation for Ms. Spektor's mouth; a fetish which I, too, have now contracted. Time to pass it along.

Regina Spektor - Us


Have you seen any movie recently where the soundtrack selections have spoken to you?

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, August 21, 2009

Trailer Trash: The August 21st Quickie

Thus arrives the third week of August releases. After last week's scattershot films, this week offers very little in more than ways than one. Lucky for me, lots of decent looking films are playing at the second-run theater. I have a feeling I'll be sitting semi-comfortably in a broken-down seat watching grainy prints with the waft of funky carpet in my nostrils. Ahhhh, cheap, dirty cinema.

Even though I'll be watching older
movies, let's not get it twisted. I'm here to talk about current releases. Here's today's release list according to IMDb:


Inglorious Basterds (08.21) You'd think I'd be chomping at the bit for Tarantino's latest opus, but honestly, Basterds isn't putting a fire under my ass. This is mainly because I've seen the teaser trailer sevenfuckinteen million times! Even though the newest trailer make it infinitely more interesting, if I have to look at Eli Roth's greasy shit-eating smirk once more, I'm going to vomit...profusely.

Verdict: It's Friday, I Don't Want to be Alone.


Casi divas (08.21 ltd.) After sitting through Food, Inc. and District 9 last weekend, I could go for something light and fluffy. If I were lucky, this would open here just for me. Following these four women in their endeavor to attain diva status looks to be fun and heartfelt. It'll also be a nice Hispanic hold me over until the new season of Ugly Betty returns.

Verdict: It's Friday, I Don't Want to be Alone.


Post Grad (08.21) This doesn't look all that offensive to my delicate palate, but it doesn't look appetizing either. The only reason I'm looking twice at this is the thin hope that a) Jane Lynch is in more than two scenes, and that b) Michael Keaton will be Mr. Mom funny and not White Noise painful.


Verdict: It's Friday, I Don't Want to be Alone.



My One and Only (08.21 ltd.) A movie about the formative years of George Hamilton will draw only those who remember the big one, or those still volunteering at the home after school. Plus, I'd have to sit and stare at Lemonface for a couple hours. Since I had my fill of clicking oxygen tanks with the Julie & Julia audience and I threw Zellweger a six-pence with New in Town, this will be a huge pass.

Verdict: Exercise the Right To Cinematic Celibacy.


***
Next week is the last week of August and you know what that means: pre-PRE-Halloween horror movies and more movies you've probably never heard of nor cared to. You won't wanna miss it!

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Here's a Quarter ET, Call Someone Who Cares

District 9


Release: 08.14.09
Rated R
1 hour, 52 minutes


See It, Take a Friend, Buy the DVD!




In this altered version of reality, a huge alien ship entered Earth's atmosphere and came to a hovering halt above the city of Johannesburg about twenty years ago. With the aliens having made no contact after several months, the military cut their way into the ship, discovering nearly a million bug-like aliens sick with starvation. The aliens were evacuated to a quarantine area to treat any possible sickness. Over the years this area, District 9, evolved into a slum and the aliens, derogatorily referred to as "prawns," outgrew their welcome.

The government with the help of a private company, Multi-National United (MNU), have decided to relocate the aliens to District 10, an area far away from the city limits. Energetic field agent Wickus Van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) has been promoted to the high profile position of leader of the extraterrestrial eviction force. During his first day, Wickus uncovers a bit of alien technology that lands him in the secret research labs of MNU. Panicked and alone, Wickus must rely on the alien "Christopher Johnson" to help him out of his predicament.

Have you heard how awesome District 9 is? If you haven't, you're hearing it now. Well, it is awesome from an audience perspective. From an alien perspective, the actual District 9 is shit. It's a junkyard of ramshackle homes. Aliens sift through garbage and attack humans for food, goods and money, which they trade on a human-run black market for weapons and cans of Pudi (a high-inducing cat food). Though the humans' actions created the district, it's the humans who want this blight removed. On this level, District 9 is a dismal and disturbing commentary on social behavior. The story creates a general unease about the blatant mistreatment and biggotry of the aliens.

The technical aspects are interesting. Writer-director Neil Blomkamp tells the stories of the aliens and Wickus's dilemma in a documentary style. Interviews with coworkers and friends of Wickus, newsreels, captured video footage and random security camera clips comprise much of the first-act exposition. This transitions to traditional storytelling as Wickus and Christopher fight to satisfy both their goals.

Blomkamp and first-time writer Terri Tatchell leave the explanations sparse. There is no explanation (as far as I could tell) as to how the humans and aliens communicate though neither speaks the other's language. Given this mockumentary assumes the audience is part of this alternate reality, such an explanation would be unnecessary. Unfortunately, the creators don't always stick to that decision and overexplain in some areas.

Dirty Undies
The actors must have worked for peanuts because it had to take the bulk of the $30 million budget to make the aliens look so freaking awesome! The attention to detail; the way they moved and reacted was jaw-dropping. The alien weaponry kicked ass. Watching humans explode like overripe melons is not for weak stomachs. My favorite part was watching a pig used as a projectile to disable the enemy. Seriously badass.

The Money Shot
Watching District 9, I couldn't help but think back to my formative film years watching futuristic tales like Robocop, Total Recall and Alien Nation. Aside from being awesome sci-fi action films, there was a concerted effort by the writers to craft a believable, albeit bleak, look at the future from a sociological perspective. Peering through that looking glass wasn't pretty, and neither is humanity's reflection in District 9. Like those films, there may be some dubious details, but the compelling story and unforgiving action will generate enough fuel to drive a franchise for years.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Goods Gave me 'A Don Ready'

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

Release: 08.14.09
Rated R
1 hour, 30 minutes

Matinee


In Temecula, CA, Ben Selleck (James Brolin, Catch Me If You Can) watches as his family car dealership dies a slow death, due largely to his inept salesmen. With bank debts looming, Selleck enlists the help of master salesman, Don "The Goods" Ready (Jeremy Piven, PCU), to move some cars. Ready, along with his team Jibby (Ving Rhames, Idlewild), Babs (Kathryn Hahn, Step Brothers), and Brent Gage (David Koechner, Sex Drive), hop a flight to Temecula with the intent of selling 200 cars over the three-day Fourth of July weekend. However, Ready's fixation on closing the deal with Selleck's daughter, Ivy (Jordana Spiro, TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer), throws him off his game.

Remember how last year's Step Brothers looked ridiculously stupid, but audiences just knew it had to be outrageously funny with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly hamming it up? Well, where that Gary Sanchez Production repeatedly stumbled in its execution, The Goods never misses a beat. Piven is perfect as the smarmy, silver-tongued Ready; even his jeans-and-tie ensembles kick ass. Rhames' love-deficient Jibby, Koechner's loud-mouthed Brent, and Hahn's inappropriately lustful Babs steal the show from the remaining cast. The supporting roles for familiar actors such as Rob Riggle (The Hangover), Tony Hale (Because I Said So), Craig Robinson (Knocked Up) and Ken Jeong (Role Models) aren't even characters so much as punchlines for Ready & Company.

If any of the one-dimensional supporters deserves special recognition it's Charles Napier (Annapolis) who manhandles the role of Dick, the dickish salesman. The Goods has a few cameos, but one in particular is the end all be all. As much as I'd love to spoil it, I won't. Even though it's August, this may very well be my cameo of the year!

The Goods is the first theatrical film release for Chappelle's Show director Neil Brennan. Brennan proves that even without Dave, he can still make audiences laugh until their sides hurt. The script by relatively unknown writers Andy Stock and Rick Stempson follows only the semblance of a story. The absurd premise hangs on by the barest of threads and everyone involved knows it, but no one gives a damn because they're having so much fun. Ready even advises at one point, "don't overthink it."

Dirty Undies
Within the first three minutes, audiences are treated to gyrating naked women, thanks to Ready & Company's penchant for hotcakes and hotties. Definitely my kind of movie. From the onset, it's clear Don and the gang are lewd and vulgar pottymouths. Instead of being offended, the Sellecks and their employees are equally crass, which makes for some delightfully raunchy comedy.

The Money Shot
The Goods is a series of funny sketches loosely tied to events at a car dealership. Counting both theatrical and straight-to-DVD markets, there's no telling how many crude, nonsensical comedies in this vein are released every month. The Goods is that finely-tuned, mindless comedy amid the lot of lemons; it's a deal you can't pass up.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, August 17, 2009

MMM: I Go to Work

This week's Monday Mood Music selection got stuck in my head as I was making changes to the site. If you've already answered the poll question, then you know where this is heading.

The funny thing is, aside from the title, the song itself really has nothing to do with reinvention or improvement. This old school jam was written by Mohandas Dewese, a.k.a. Kool Moe Dee, in the late eighties as a challenge to rapper LL Cool J. Back in the day, Kool Moe Dee and others claimed that LL was copping their styles. I don't really remember this beef, but after all I was twelve at the time. Most likely I had both my Kool Moe Dee and LL Cool J cassettes all stored in the same box ignorant of these rappers' conflict.

Twenty years later, there are whispers of Kool hitting the rap scene once more to treat audiences to some grown man hiphop. I guess he can't really tell us not to call it a comeback. Maybe his first single during his resurgence should be this song updated to 2009. What say you?

Kool Moe Dee - How Ya Like Me Now


By the by, I LOVE this video. The choreography and production values remind me of such a simpler time. It also reminds me that I probably thought this was the ish back in the day. My how times have changed.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Do You Know What Today Is?

Happy Sunday, stargazers! For those of you who may not know, today marks the two-year anniversary of the Reel Whore on the interwebs! It's been two great years, but so much time can take its toll on even the best of us. That's why for my anniversary, I opted for a face lift. Obviously, I also decided to expand a few things. Bigger can be better, right?

No operation is immediately seamless so expect to see slight adjustments around the edges as we continue to tighten those rather unsightly sidebars. Please bear with me.

I am curious to know your immediate reaction to the altered look. My vanity poll is up to the right. Feel free to leave more detailed criticism in the comments. Tune in tomorrow for the regularly scheduled Monday Mood Music.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, August 14, 2009

Trailer Trash: The August 14th Quickie

Week 2 of my non-Gang Bang Trailer Trash series continues. Though I enjoyed the photo-centric format of last week, with eight films releasing in theaters today, I thought it best to go the straight-forward route this week.

Here's the release list according to IMDb:


District 9 (08.14) Extraterrestrial detainees. Those two words alone should intrigue anyone to run out to see this. The mix of news broadcasts and handheld camera action is reminiscent of the awesome 28 Days Later and [REC]. I saw the teaser posters for D-9 at SDCC '08. I'm glad the wait is finally over!


Verdict:
Moist With Antici...Pation!


Grace (08.14 ltd.) The glimpses of story shown are twisted, disturbing and disgusting...some of the sickest stuff I've seen. Long and short of it, I've got my fingers crossed this will open here! For the rest of you, your willingness to see this should hinge on how the words 'undead baby' make you feel.


Verdict: Moist With Antici...Pation!


Paper Heart (08.14 ltd.) The Apatow crew hasn't worked in like, what, two weeks? Time to release a new movie. Now it's Knocked Up Jodi's turn to floor audiences with a quirky faux documentary about love. I could probably take it or leave it were it not for these two words: Michael Cera.



Verdict:
Moist With Antici...Pation!


Ponyo (08.14) It's rare that a non-computer animated kid's film even opens anymore. The only time one hits the mainstream is when there's a fantastic reason to see it. The two words I associate with the most fantastical and moving tales conceivable: Hayao Miyazaki



Verdict: Moist With Antici...Pation!


The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (08.14) Two words: Dumbass comedy. You could also say 'lowbrow comedy' or 'ridiculous shenanigans' if you're not into the whole brevity thing. Point is, the trailer makes it look like a laugh riot, but without any huge names (Sorry Piv) I plan to go in being cautiously optimistic.


Verdict: It's Friday, I Don't Want to be Alone.


The Time Traveler's Wife (08.14) Having not read the novel, the trailer doesn't really convey why this is worth the acclaim. I just see a dirty old man who gets his rocks off with his wife from her childhood to adulthood. Plus, he has the excuse that he's 'time traveling' when the arguing ensues. It's not completely lost on me though thanks to these two words: Rachel McAdams.

Verdict: It's Friday, I Don't Want to be Alone.


It Might Get Loud (08.14 ltd.) Lots of two word pairings could describe this flick: Jimmy Page, Jack White, The Edge, Electric Guitar. I've always been a big fan of White, but this is still a documentary at it's core which isn't my favorite type of film. But the kind I do enjoy; Music Documentary.


Verdict: It's Friday, I Don't Want to be Alone.


Spread (08.14 ltd.) Though it appears to be the Ashton and Demi story, it's more about a boy toy being tossed about the cougar's den. I'm curious as to why the sexy Margarita Levieva is now, after several movies, getting an 'Introducing' credit, but not enough to see this. If only the words 'Male Whore' had been 'Fred Garvin,' then we'd have a movie worth watching.

Verdict: Exercise the Right To Cinematic Celibacy.


Bandslam (08.14) Two words: Walden Media. This doesn't look painfully offensive to my delicate sensibilities, but unless Aly and Hudgens do some hardcore making out before the big Bandslam, I'll pass on this teenie-bopper fare starring a Shia LaBeouf wannabe.



Verdict: Exercise the Right To Cinematic Celibacy.

***

After the onslaught of this week's end-of-summer smorgasbord, next week promises to be much lighter with only half the number of releases. Come back next week to see what's in store.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Third Time's Charming Enough

Funny People


Release: 07.31.09
Rated R
2 hours, 16 minutes


Full Price




Ira Wright (Seth Rogen, Observe & Report) is a struggling comedian who makes ends meet by working at a deli counter. During open mic night at the Improv, Ira's set is bumped by an impromptu set by his idol, veteran comedian George Simmons (Adam Sandler, Spanglish). George's appearance is precipitated by his shock at learning he is dying of terminal leukemia. After an awkward exchange post-show, George offers Ira a job as his joke writer and personal assistant. George is looking to turn over a new leaf before it's too late and Ira's looking for his big break, but neither can handle what they find.

Aside from Sandler and Rogen, the latest story penned and directed by Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin) features tons of great actors, in addition to Apatow's immediate family: wife Leslie Mann (Drillbit Taylor) and their daughters Maude (Knocked Up)and Iris Apatow (Knocked Up). Ira and his more successful buds, Mark (Jason Schwartzman, I Heart Huckabees) and Leo (usual suspect Jonah Hill, Superbad) oscillate between witty bantering and bitter bickering as if they were goofy, annoying roomies in real life. Eric Bana (Munich) plays Mann's husband Clarke, having a blast while using his Aussie accent (for a change). The film has many other funny people in small roles like Aziz Ansari (Observe & Report) and Aubrey Plaza (TV: Parks & Recreation), but the film has a metric ton of awesome cameos from comedians, actors and musicians from Apatow's personal Rolodex. If anyone tries to ruin more than one of these, you should promptly punch them in the face and proceed to the theater to savor the hilarity for yourself.

Funny People is strongest when illustrating the comedians' varied lifestyles. Ira struggles to hone his craft while eking out a living and a life. Then there's Mark's shameless TV stardom and the lifestyle it affords him. Both seem insignificant when compared to George's level of paparazzi celebrity, which have blessed him with insanely plush trappings. In contrast, Ira is far more honest and emotional than George has ever been. This often strained relationship feels grown from a cornerstone of reality from a writer who's familiar with the challenges of a comedian's rise to fame.

What also rings true is George's desire to reconnect with his one true love. Here's where Funny People falters. I loved watching Mann, Bana, Rogen and Sandler make dramatic comedy on the subject of infidelity and second chances, but it adds significant length to an already lengthy story. I have to admit, the Apatow daughters are adorable, but it's obvious that daddy was not impartial enough to leave many of their extraneous scenes on the cutting-room floor.

Dirty Undies
I wonder if Apatow is looking to break some sort of record for the most times someone says fuck or refers to their dick. By the time Funny People ends, I felt I could describe, in disturbing detail, the width, length, blemish and curve of every star's cock. It's not because they whipped them out for measuring; they just referenced them so frequently you can't help but form an unimpressive image in your mind. Apatow makes a feeble attempt to detract from the cock talk with a nice pair of boobs, but once you've got a picture of Rogen's thickie etched on your mind's wall, there ain't no washing it off.

The Money Shot
Funny People has a biographical, possibly autobiographical, quality. It's this realism that makes an Apatow film more rich and accessible than a typical goofy comedy. But his third cinematic child suffers from a lack of tough love necessary to make it extraordinary. Despite these small stumbles, watching comedians shuck and jive in even the worst of situations makes for solid cinema.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Quickie: A Perfect Getaway

A Perfect Getaway


Release: 08.07.09
Rated R
1 hour, 37 minutes


Full Price



Cliff (Steve Zahn, Joy Ride) and Cydney (Milla Jovovich, Resident Evil), are gathering supplies to embark on a three-day hike along a gorgeous Hawaii trail to a secluded beach. En route they stop for hitchhikers Kale (Chris Hemsworth, Star Trek) and Cleo (Marley Shelton, Death Proof), but Cliff's wariness nixes giving them a lift. Along the trail, they meet Nick (Timothy Olyphant, Hitman) and are told by other hikers that the cops are searching for a couple who murdered some honeymooners back in Honolulu. Sticking with the survivalist Nick seems a good idea, until they meet his better half, Gina (Kiele Sanchez, Stuck on You).

The tagline for A Perfect Getaway effectively sums up the premise; 6 strangers, 2 killers, no getting away. Writer-director David Twohy (The Arrival) flexes mad skills by crafting equally compelling arguments for each couple to be labeled the killers, but is excellent at playing his cards close to his chest. The banter between Cliff, the screenplay writer, and Nick, the self-described American Jedi, is garnished with occasional literary devices; Twohy almost seems to be flaunting his story's excellent structure.

When the truth is revealed, Twohy uses a series of blue-tinged flashbacks to fill in the missing blanks. The washed out color grew off-putting and some of the flashbacks could have been replaced with dialogue in the first two acts had Twohy spent a little less time ingratiating himself.

The final act's action is tight, gruesome and violent, and leaves you wanting more. Having seen way too many movies, it's hard to find a thriller that keeps me riveted, but A Perfect Getaway did just that. To Twohy for accomplishing this feat, may I quote Nick when I say, "Outstanding."

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, August 10, 2009

Joe Doesn't Blow

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra


Release: 08.07.09
Rated PG-13 (Ha!)
1 hour, 58 minutes


Matinee




Duke (Channing Tatum, She's the Man) is tasked with safeguarding a payload of nanomite warheads built by McCullen's (Christopher Eccleston, 28 Days Later) company M.A.R.S. The convoy is attacked by an advanced group of terrorists led by the Baroness (Sienna Miller, Stardust). Were it not for a mysterious band of heroes led by Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, The Mummy Returns), the terrorists would have been successful. Duke and his buddy Ripcord (Marlon Wayans, Dungeons & Dragons) insist the warheads remain in their possession. They are escorted to General Hawk (Dennis Quaid, Vantage Point) at G.I. Joe headquarters.

Before I get started, let me clarify a few things. I was never a huge G.I. Joe fan as a kid. By the time my bus got home, I would catch the last half of Joe as I waited impatiently for Transformers, Thundercats, Voltron or whatever other cartoon alien show followed it. I had a handful of figures, but they usually got crushed under Optimus's tires. Then when I first saw the trailer for this movie, I expected this to be a steaming turd, rolled in powdered sugar and topped with dingleberries, that the studios were trying to shove down audiences' throats. If you caught last week's Trailer Trash, I insinuated that Marlon Wayans was going to be as annoying as a taint hair. Given these three pre-existing factors, you can imagine my surprise.

Serious Joe fans may be perturbed they changed a few of the characters' histories, but it worked well to tighten the expansive world into a more mentally digestible, though somewhat too convenient, story. The metal-munching nanomites may seem implausible, but no more so than a mission put on hold to allow two gung ho soldiers to complete a battery of tests to join the most elite fighting force in the world. The story marches doubletime, sparing audiences from getting bogged down in these shaky details.

I loved Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brick) in his small role as The Doctor. I've always liked Dennis Quaid and Christopher Eccleston, and though I'm not a fan of Marlon Wayans, he gave one of the film's better performances...when he wasn't tap dancing for cheap laughs. However, watching his costar Channing Tatum was like pulling teeth. Stephen Hawking could have delivered lines with more emotion, charisma and far better timing. While I'm bitching, I got nothing against Jonathan Pryce (The Brothers Grimm), but would it have killed them to hire an American to play the U.S. President?! Mummy fans will be happy that director Stephen Sommers (Van Helsing) finds jobs for many of his old cast, such as Arnold Vosloo (Blood Diamond) as the douchey Zartan.

Dirty Undies
Audiences didn't sign on looking for riveting performances; they enlisted for the action and mayhem. G.I. Joe goes above and beyond the call of duty, and in my opinion, its PG-13 rating. I LOVE violent action films, but how is watching a woman stabbed through the chest, followed by a man skewered on a fork lift blade, and topped off with a unknown-soldier flambé kid friendly? Excessive gunfire, explosions and death are an exciting and commonplace elements in G.I. Joe, so don't be surprised.

Director Stephen Sommers (The Mummy) fills G.I. Joe with grandiose action sequences even if they all weren't up to visual snuff. The opening sequence is awesomely violent and spectacular; it really hooks you. The tour through the Pit and the accelerator suit chase, among others, look about as awesome as The Mummy's special effects. That would be cool if it were 1999, but it's 2009 and CGI is much, much improved. Watching characters traipse in front of flat, matted backgrounds was more than a little disappointing.

Watching Sienna Miller strut around in black leather was not the least disappointing. Well, there is that scene when she's rocking a low-cut, black leather jumpsuit, bedazzled like she was Britney Spears, as she heads into battle. Hugely impractical. Speaking of huge, you should check out Scarlett's (Rachel Nichols, Star Trek) big green eyes. You won't notice them since her boobs practically burst from every military issue outfit she wears.

The Money Shot
G.I. Joe is far more entertaining than expected. Thanks to some seriously lousy acting and piss-poor special effects, it never achieves awesomeness. Still, Sommers and his small army of writers manage to make the fantastical elements of G.I. Joe seem believable, if only marginally. Having it firmly declared a hit, expect to see G.I. Joe: Cobra Returns and G.I. Joe: Serpentor, the Cobra Emperor and the spin-off series The Cobra Commander.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

MMM: Waiting 'Til the Shine Wears Off

This week's Monday Mood Music selection was a no-brainer considering I saw this group in concert last Thursday and their songs are still echoing in my mind. A hot, humid and rainy evening had been expected, but fortunately for everyone it turned out to be a rather mild, albeit dewy, night at the Walnut Creek Pavilion here in Raleigh, NC. Even better was the energetic performance Coldplay gave.

That's right, Coldplay; Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman and Will Champion (in case you knew only Mr. Gwyneth Paltrow). After the first few songs, the amphitheater went dark with only Martin talking. When the lights came up, huge yellow balloons were bouncing from the covered seats and grassy knoll! A laser light show shot multicolored beams from the stage and cannons spewed insane amounts of confetti everywhere.

The best part? Realizing the band was navigating their way through the crowd to an ad-hoc mini stage set up at the front of the lawn. Once there, they strapped on some guitars and performed about five songs acoustically, including a cover of Michael Jackson's Billie Jean. They eventually returned to the main stage and finished the evening. To top it off, we were given a complimentary nine-track live album as we exited (grab your copy here).

I expected the music to be good, but had never expected it to be that good. There was just a great energy. The only stumbling block was when Chris Martin thought it was Friday instead of Thursday, but he laughed at his own fuck up. In honor of a night (and my money) well spent, here's a live performance of my favorite song from Coldplay's latest album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends:

Coldplay - Lost

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, August 7, 2009

Trailer Trash: The August 7th Quickie

You know it's an insane start to the month when the Reel Whore can't start it off with a Gang Bang! It may turn out to be a good thing considering August has, like, fifteen movies slated for release. That's just a lot of celluloid for anyone to take in.

Instead of starting August with
a hard-pounding line-up of trailers, stargazers will be treated to a quickie summarizing each week's releases.

I've also decided to switch things up a bit. Since my time to write is sparse, I've decided to use pretty, pretty pictures to help take out the trash. A photo-heavy, quickie Trailer Trash; I know it's a lot of changes, but some of you stargazers may prefer it.

According to IMDb here's what's opening today (in no particular order):

Shorts: The Adventures of the Wishing Rock (08.07) The only reason someone would subject themselves to this:

is to help Robert Rodriguez bank roll these:

Maybe I'll just drop Robert a check in the mail instead.

Verdict: Exercise the Right To Cinematic Celibacy.

***

A Perfect Getaway (08.07) A thriller featuring three of my favorite nearly-megastars, Steve Zahn, Timothy Olyphant, and Milla Jovovich:

It may turn out to be crap, but I'll be there opening weekend to find out.

Verdict: Moist With Antici...Pation!

***

Julie & Julia (08.07) What could be better than a film starring Who's That Lady? inductee Mary Lynn Rajskub and Amy Adams portraying a woman who cooks for her man?!


Meryl, please demonstrate just how excited I am:

Honestly, I could watch an entire movie of Amy sucking her finger, but that'd be a whole different kind of film:

Verdict: Moist With Antici...Pation!

***

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (08.07) I've got three reasons to be excited about this:

One, Dennis Quaid as General Hawk
!
Two, Snake Eyes!


Three, umm, maybe those would make it FOUR reasons?

Problem is, to see all that I have to suffer through this:

and this:

and him:

Where's Derek Luke, Taye Diggs, Tyrese Gibson, hell, even Tyler Perry when you need him!

Verdict: It's Friday, I Don't Want to be Alone.

***

Join me again next week when I break it down for August 14th's nine releases, or as I like to call it; the end-of-summer colonic.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Quickie: Obsessed

Obsessed

Release: 04.24.09
DVD Release: 08.07.09
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 48 minutes


Second Run Seats



Derek Charles (Idris Elba, American Gangster) is living the dream of many a man; beau coup money, two fancy cars, a big new house and Beyoncé Knowles (Dreamgirls) as his wife, Sharon. Everyone knows Derek is a great guy with a perfect life, except the new temp, Lisa (Ali Larter, House on Haunted Hill). Lisa knows his life would be better if he'd just dump wifey and love her psychotic ass.

Elba gives a top-notch performance despite rumors of his regret for doing the project. Larter gives off a sexual predator vibe naturally. You'd hate to be trapped in a dark corner with her...actually, you'd love it until she goes all whack-a-doo over you. I can't believe I'm saying this, but Bey proved she's taken an acting lesson or two. Granted, her Houston twang defies the fact that Sharon was born in San Diego; maybe there's a Texas District in the city.

However, the story isn't without its problems. Derek is a bit of a bitch when it comes to women. He lets Lisa get way too carried away, and Sharon dictates terms to him as the problem explodes. Derek needed to run his house! Obsessed focuses on the Derek dilemma in the first two acts only to pull a bait-and-switch with a Bey-centric third act. That would be acceptable if we knew anything specific about Sharon other than she's a housewife who unpacks furniture in four-inch stilettos. Frankly, you enter the Sharon-Lisa confrontation with more emotional investment in the cuckoo blonde bitch, which is just weird. However, it's not as weird as the final frame focusing on Mrs. J Hova, cutting off Elba's mug in the process. WTF?

I went into Obsessed with LOW expectations and had them surpassed. A fun and forgettable film with enough pretty people to make it fairly painless.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Jizt: The Soloist

In this fast-paced world of blogging, tweeting and fly-by-night film voyeurism, sometimes one doesn't have the time to give a film proper treatment. More importantly, others do not always have the time to read it. Sometimes you just have to take it around back and squeeze one out in 1-2-3 quick licks. Think of The Jizt as the wham, bam, thank you ma'am of reviews.



The Soloist


Release: 04.24.09

DVD Release: 08.04.09
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 57 minutes


Second Run Seats



Cast: Jamie Foxx (Ray), Robert Downey, Jr. (Zodiac), Catherine Keener (Capote)

The Build-up: LA Times reporter Steve Lopez has been a victim of a selfish kind of love until he meets Nathaniel Ayers, a man with no home and a washed-out dream, and decides he's gonna make a change to this music prodigy's life.

The Blurt-out: When five minutes of celluloid are devoted to a Windows Media Player visualization, it's obvious the director has become self-indulgent.

The Jizt: The highest production values and most brilliant performances I've ever seen for a Sunday-morning charity infomercial.

What's wrong Nathaniel, It's just the littlest bit of Jizt.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, August 3, 2009

MMM: I Got Your Friend Right Here!

I caught Funny People over the weekend. No surprise there, right? It was another winner by Apatow, but I'll save the specifics for my forthcoming review. Now I usually don't like to spoil surprises, but I kind of have to because Funny People inspired this Monday Mood Music selection.

It's also appropriate because James Taylor is, more or less, a Carolina boy - North Carolina REPRESENT! He's been cranking out music since the late 60's and I figured if Apatow thought enough of him to give him props in his film, a fellow Carolinian like myself should give him some props on my site.

Without further adieu, here's back-in-the-day JT, sans the reflective pate:

James Taylor - Fire and Rain


Is it just me, or wouldn't Christian Bale be absolutely perfect to play Sweet Baby James in a biopic? At the very least they could get Alessandro Nivola! Either way, none of those fellas are getting any younger so someone needs to jump on that.

Large Association of Movie Blogs