Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Greatest Year in Movie History



Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,



Wednesday night, Izzy & I watched “22 Jump Street” starring Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill & Ice Cube… and yes, this is the sequel to the parody of a dated & preposterous TV show that they turned into a movie last year… so it has a LOT of things going against it. That being said… it’s actually pretty f**king hilarious. For those who don’t know the premise, two policemen in their late twenties/early thirties pose as high school kids in the original to bust a drug ring… and this movie picks up right after the last, except this time… they’re going to college. What changes? Well… not much really… except the students are even less willing to accept that these guys are students (which is odd cuz… yeah, you don’t need to pretend to be younger in college). Yes, the plot is pretty thin. Yes, the humor is a tad sophomoric & ultimately self-deprecating… but that’s exactly what you expect from this movie. There will be no Oscar nominations… students of stage & screen will not marvel at the precise emotions of the main actors… nor will thespians who fancy the Bard quote Ice Cube’s character during the next Shakespearian-inspired performances at Carnegie Hall… muthaf**kas… but it exists to create laughs… and it does that pretty damn well. If you’re into laugher, I’d definitely say check it out… you won’t be disappointed unless you’re expecting Channing Tatum to win an Academy Award (2017 will be his year, mark it now).



Later that night, we watched a movie that I hadn’t even heard of that came out last year called “Oculus” starring… well, Katee Sackhoff from “Battlestar Galactice” is in it… and Rory Cochran from “Empire Records” all grown up… and apparently the main girl was Nebula in “Guardians of the Galaxy” under all the makeup (Karen Gillan) but yeah, pretty exclusive & little known cast in this one. Anyway, the story is about a young 21-year old man who is recently released from a mental institution that he’s been in for 11 years since the bizarre killing of his parents in 2002. His sister (Gillan) picks him up… and basically takes him straight from the institution to the house where it all happened… and who else is there but the one they all blame for killing their parents… a 400-year old mirror. Needless to say, apparently mental health issues run in the family… but the man has been in the institution… and has learned that what he perceived to have happened, could not have happened. It was all in his ill mind. The sister, apparently hid her convictions a lot better, and is adamant to PROVE that the Mirror killed their parents… and has set up a “Ghost Adventures”-esque documentation area to observe it. Now, from this point in the movie, where it’s just the two of them, in this house, with the mirror, and their own perceptions of what’s real, and blurred lines between the past, present & reality in general… the movie is pretty f**king amazing. Honestly, it’s one of the best horror movies that I’ve seen in a long, long, long time. You’re genuinely intrigued as to what’s going on. Is the Mirror haunted? Possessed? Or is this just the delusions of two schizophrenics? Is one sane & the other isn’t? Then why are they seeing the same things? Is the Mirror controlling their minds? You don’t know what’s going to happen because it plays with perception & perspective… how they remember the past & how their present is manipulated by their senses… I just highly recommend that if you enjoy a good scare (and don’t worry, it’s actually pretty low on gore, though a few spots have blood) then go rent this movie as soon as possible. GREAT horror flick!!!



Thursday night, Izzy & I finally watched “X-Men: Days of Future Past” which is the latest installment of the X-Men movie series and the return of director Bryan Singer (first two & “Usual Suspects”). In this edition, it’s the year 2023 or so… and the world is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad place where these giant, adaptable, basically unstoppable robots called Sentinels are used to eliminate mutants… and not only that… but they wipe out anybody with genetics that could possibly produce mutants in the future… so basically everybody since that’s the nature of evolution. Mankind is basically doomed. Roll credits. No, wait! One of the mutants is able to… okay, go with me on this one… send somebody back through time using their own memories… wait… and then through their memories, they can change the past & save the future. However, to do this, they have to go back to “the beginning” which conveniently enough… begins in 1973, right in between the generations of the original trilogy… and the younger “First Class” version… sigh… f**k me, it’s “Star Trek: Generations” but with X-Men… and the time travel concept from “Butterfly Effect”. Awesome, right? Okay, so they send Wolverine back because… well, the reasoning is that he’s the only one that can physically withstand having his mind stretched back 50 years… but I was kinda raised on the whole point that Wolverine’s main weakness is that his mind is kind of a jumbled mess of horribleness that causes him to basically flip out at any moment… let’s be honest, it’s because Hugh Jackman is the star & he’s basically f**king timeless and can be the “anchor” for our frame of reality… so he’s sent back to change the past & save the future. Okay, seriously… as silly as it might sound… go check this movie out.



What I Liked:

• Overall, Just a Decent Comic Book Flick / Crossover / Reboot – That pretty much says it all… and let’s be honest, the whole point of this movie in essence… was for Bryan Singer to pull a Richard Donner. What’s that mean? Richard Donner directed the first two Superman movies (the good ones) and then was brought back to produce “Superman Returns” after a few sh*tty movies were made in between… basically to say, “You know what? Those bad movies… never happened in this universe now. We can continue & forget about that alternate dimension of hogwash.” Basically there was X-Men & X2… and then Singer went off to do… oh yeah, “Superman Returns” and there were a few bad X-Men movies made (X3, Origins: Wolverine & The Wolverine) but with the events of this movie… they kinda go, “Nope, never happened now. All better. You’re welcome.”

• Working Everybody into the Movie (except Rogue) – The cast of main characters is a tremendous amount. Something like two dozen or more… but they also did a decent job of giving the big names the majority of the scenes (Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, etc) while keeping a lot of the others to little more than cameos… and actually keeping some of the more annoying characters from the first movie as half-scene cockblockers (Cyclops) or out of the movie entirely (Rogue). Not an easy feat I’m sure.

• Quiksilver Steals the Show – Evan Peters (“American Horror Story”) plays the character Quiksilver who was always a favorite as a kid… and as the name might infer, he can run really, really, really fast… like the Flash… but if the Flash were a teenage smartass. He’s basically in the movie for two scenes… and they’re probably the most memorable ones of the whole movie… then for some reason, they send him back home because there’s no possible way that he could help them later on… you know, moments after he just broke one of the three most powerful beings on Earth out of the Pentagon almost single-handedly.

• Peter Dinklage – It’s really a shame that this guy can’t be in more movies or shows. It’s hard out there for a little person trying to make it in the average sized Hollywood game. However, it seems whatever he’s doing… he acting the sh*t out of it… and I’m glad that they were able to get him in this movie as the pivotal character Bolivar Trask (creator of the Sentinels) and actually give him some character depth.



What I Didn’t Like:

• Professor Xavier’s Legs – “WHY THE F**K ARE YOU WALKING AROUND???” That was my reaction to James McAvoy doing his best impression of The Dude when he first comes into the scene as 1973 Professor X… and it was kind of hard to focus on whatever they were talking about for the next ten minutes. Oh sorry, in case you didn’t know, Professor X is without the use of his legs… it’s the whole angle of having the most powerful mind in the world… but the flesh is weak & spongy… and at the end of “First Class” is the scene where he is crippled by a stray bullet. So to have him just gingerly walking into frame… you might see the reaction justified. Oh… and the reason for his walking? So… he’s an addict for the serum that makes it so he can’t use his mutant mental powers… and apparently what happens is when he’s taking hits of that, he can walk just fine… even run from time to time… but as soon as his powers come back, THAT’S what cripples him & makes him wheelchair bound. F**k you, movie! Too much going on upstairs to control the legs? Okay, I’ll take that. Then don’t throw in the f**king serum that makes it all better. Okay… done with that.

• Brutal Deaths – So… this is a PG-13 movies… but YOOOOOOOO!!! Some of the death scenes set in 2023 involving the unstoppable Sentinels & the last of the mutantkind… are pretty f**king brutal. Lots of stabbing through the torsos like shishkabob… bodies exploding… decapitations… and there’s quite a few occasions where somebody is choked the f**k out. Granted, there’s not a lot of blood… but still, pretty brutal… and because of the time travel component… it kinda happens a lot as they “reset” and play again.

• Bishop Cameo – In the 2023 scenes, we get our first glimpse at one of the biggest badasses in X-Men lore, the gigantic & thoroughly mullet-dreadlocked Bishop… and he doesn’t really disappoint… except you don’t really know who he is unless you’re a nerd or you think his superpower is dying epicly (see previous point). My big question though is… Where the f**k is CABLE??? It’s not really a complaint for this movie as there’s already a LOT of things going on… but Cable is a badass & he hasn’t been in a movie yet (queue “X-Men: Apocalypse”?). If you don’t know who he is… google it… but I can’t wait to see him played by Arnie? Or Stephen Lang (“Avatar”)? Or Mickey Rourke? Or Robert Patrick maybe (Izzy’s suggestion)? Anyway, good movie check it out.





Movies of 1994 (20th Anniversary)



As we come to year’s end… and I’m obviously watching a lot of movies from this year… I can’t help but think back to… what may hands-down be the greatest year in movie history – 1994. Twenty years ago now, all of these movies were made & released… and I think you’ll agree that they’re all quite EPIC… and probably all of them that you’ve seen have shaped your life in some way. Heck, if you’re a teenager, and you haven’t seen this movies, check ‘em out… well, most of them anyway. Anyway, here’s just a sampling of movies from that year that you might remember fondly…



Drama

• Pulp Fiction – Probably my favorite movie of all time… and the one that really put Quentin Tarantino, Uma Thurman, Ving Rhames & Samuel L. Jackson on the map… and rejuvenated John Travolta’s career. Yes, it was snubbed repeatedly for awards… but whatever, that’s Hollywood.

• Forrest Gump – Does it hold up? Yeah, I think so. Funny, tugs at the heart strings, a unique & memorable tale of a dumbass who apparently was involved in nearly every facet of American history from 1955 to the late 80’s… and then begat Haley Joel Osment with the crack-fiend version of Buttercup. In all honesty though, I love this movie & I don’t care what you say, nor should you care what I say.

• Shawshank Redemption – Morgan Freeman’s incredible narration career begins…

• The Client – Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones & the late great child actor Brad Renfro among others… is it bad that the first thing I remember about this movie is “Hey Ricky, how does an eskimo take a piss?”

• Above the Rim – Basketball + 2Pac’s role as Birdie = Movie gold in my opinion

• Immortal Beloved – Gary Oldman is Beethoven… that’s all you need to know… go watch it!!!



Action

• True Lies – Arnold at his finest! No, not Schwarzenegger… Tom Arnold! Okay, maybe both… and jailbait Eliza Dushku

• Clear & Present Danger – Jack Ryan: American Badass takes on Willem Dafoe… also starring jailbait Thora Birch

• Leon: The Professional – Luc Besson begins his oddly intriguing grip on action cinema… and Gary Oldman turns from Beethoven to a Badass… and jailbait Natalie Portman… hmm… a lot of legitimate jailbait in this year’s action movies…

• Natural Born Killers – Oliver Stone… Woody Harrelson… Juliette Lewis… coked-out Robert Downey jr… Tom Sizemore… Rodney Dangerfield cameo… and Tommy Lee Jones comes in & plays probably the craziest of all them… f**king classic movie

• Speed – Ladies & gentlemen, Academy-Award winner Sandra Bullock stars as the comic relief / love interest in this Keanu Reeves action behemoth

• Stargate – James Spader… Kurt Russell… Those badass Anubis warriors… Admit it… you f**king love this movie too… and probably the TV series… serieses? What’s the plural for series?

• Timecop & Street Fighter – Jean-Claude Van Damme had probably his finest year… time traveling cop & the leader of the American forces set to take out a Thai terrorist leader played by the late great Raul Julia… hmm… wasn’t his second in command Kylie Minogue in that movie?

• The Specialist – Sylvester Stallone also existed… as did Sharon Stone & James Woods… not their finest flick but it was Sly’s follow-up to the classic Demolition Man & let’s be honest… the only reason anybody went to see this movie was to see the sex scene where Sly gets up in the Family Stone… or see a lot of sh*t get blown up

• Blown Away – Speaking of sh*t getting blown up…

• On Deadly Ground – Steven Seagal also existed during this time… and he even DIRECTED this classic where the synopsis is… I sh*t you not, this is straight from IMDb “Mystical martial artist/environmental agent takes on a ruthless oil corporation.” Not only that… it also stars Michael Caine, Billy Bob Thornton, John McGinley, R. Lee Ermey & the great Sven Ole Thorsen

• The Shadow – Alec Baldwin vs. KHAAAAAAAAAANNN!!!

• Star Trek: Generations – Mentioned above in the X-Men review, but yeah, this movie brought Picard & Kirk together via wormhole (Nexus?) instead of sillier time travel ideas like thinking really hard about it

• Highlander: The Final Dimension – So remember that whole “Highlander II: The Quickening” thing? Yeah, forget about it… just add magic. Also, Mario Van Peebles is an underrated actor (not in this movie, just overall), Mako had a cameo, and Debra Unger was REALLY hot. That’s all I really remember about this movie…

• Double Dragon – Not the worst video game movie ever made (Super Mario Bros is still #1) but pretty close… Alyssa Milano is in it… Robert Patrick… but it’s really odd when the Lee brothers are played by Scott Wolf from “Party of Five” and the Iron Chef (“Brotherhood of the Wolf” is badass though).



Comedy

• Dumb & Dumber – This was the year that made Jim Carrey LEGEND!!! He started off with the underground classic “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”, followed up with this movie that’s regarded as one of the top of all time… and then finished it up with “The Mask” which was larger budget & launched the career of Cameron Diaz (and a few sh*tty sequels). Has any actor had a better year of work than Jim Carrey had in 1994? Especially from a comedy perspective?

• Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult – The finale of the great Naked Gun trilogy… and just to show you how much can change in twenty years, this movie starred both O.J. Simpson AND Anna Nicole Smith… and the main plot centered around terrorists plotting to destroy the American way of life… by blowing up the Oscars… and it was totally tongue-in-cheek. Fantastic!!!

• Addams Family Values – Okay, officially it was released November of ’93… but f**k it, this is my list & I’m including this masterpiece because I probably watched it a few dozen times in 1994. Deal.

• Maverick – Mel Gibson before he went f**king crazy… Jodie Foster before she went f**king crazy… Alfred Molina before you had to mention he was in a movie… and James Garner is all that is Man. Damn I wanna watch this movie now.

• Ed Wood – Tim Burton & Johnny Depp telling the story of probably the worst director in the history of cinema (before Uwe Boll). Great flick… lots of awards… Martin Landau… go see it!

• Don Juan DeMarco – Speaking of Johnny Depp, f**k you I love this movie… and the song! I am not ashamed.

• Clerks – This was one of the first really big indie films… and of course started Kevin Smith to being the living punchline/social icon that he is today. Keep an eye out for “Clerks 3” coming out next year I think… and “Clerks 2” really wasn’t that bad… I miss my donkey…

• Priscilla: Queen of the Desert – General Zod, Agent Smith & Guy Pearce are drag queens on a road trip across the Australian landscape… sigh… it’s actually pretty damn good

• Beverly Hills Cop III – Eddie Murphy was still funny twenty years ago… this is the one at the amusement park though.

• Milk Money – Watching this family film as an adult… is a thousand times more disturbing than watching it as a teenager. The premise is a kid (maybe 12 yrs old?) goes into town to see a naked woman with his friends (odd). While there he meets V (Melanie Griffith) who takes their money for a quick flash of her tatas. Moments later, she’s on the run from her pimp’s pimp (Malcolm McDowell) and goes home with this kid to hide out in his treehouse… but then she meets the widower father (Ed Harris) and the kid tries to hook them up. Trust me… it only gets worse from there really… but still fond memories

• Junior – “Okay Mr. Producer, so my idea for a movie… Arnold Schwarzenegger is pregnant…” “When can we start filming?”

• Cabin Boy – I f**king LOVE this movie… and can’t believe that Chris Elliott wasn’t a bigger thing. Fun fact: David Letterman’s best performance to date

• Wagons East – John Candy’s last movie… and he had to share top billing with Richard Lewis… sigh… it’s actually still pretty damn funny, an anti-Western

• Airheads – Today: “Okay Mr. Producer… Brendan Fraser, Adam Sandler & Steve Buscemi are…” “I’m out!”

• The Ref – Denis Leary + Christmas = “Holy sh*t is that Kevin Spacey???”

• PCU – The underground launching pad for future star Jeremy Piven… and George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic are essentially main characters… you really can’t beat it

• A Low Down Dirty Shame – Written & directed by Keenan Ivory Wayans as “In Living Color” stars were splitting off to take over Hollywood, a really underrated black detective comedy that should be mentioned more with the likes of “Undercover Brother” & “Black Dynamite”

• Blankman – Damon Wayans as an unlikely superhero… David Alan Grier as the voice of reason… Robin Givens as the love interest… and Jason Alexander in a wheelchair… hilarious

• Duckman (TV) – Yes, I know it’s not a movie… but this show is f**king awesome and I just mentioned Jason Alexander so… WATCH IT!!!

• Due South (TV) – Izzy would feel a little gipped if I didn’t mention that her favorite TV Show of all time didn’t start in ’94 too… about a lovely & infallible Mountie named Benton Fraser in the mean streets of Chicago… and I’m told that I’m very similar to Benton



Horror-ish

• Interview with the Vampire – “Legends of the Fall”

• Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – Kenneth Branaugh stars & directs the classic story with Robert DeNiro as the monster & Helena Bonham Carter as his bride… that’s right, Helena Bonham Carter in a horror movie NOT directed by Tim Burton

• The Crow – RIP Brandon Lee… seriously though… the son of Bruce Lee would’ve been Keanu Reeves if not for the mishap… think about it

• The Stand – I mention this 45-hour mini-series only because my uncle’s arm is apparently in a scene unloading bodies into a dump… I’ve actually never seen this… but it came out the appropriate year

• Wes Craven’s New Nightmare – This was actually my first introduction to the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series (remember, I was 13) but after watching it… my dad basically told me, “Okay… let’s watch the original… it’s better” but still… as far as #6 or 7 in a horror series goes, actually not that bad

• Wolf – Jack Nicholson is an aging publisher who gets bitten by a wolf… and he slowly but surely turns into a werewolf over the course of this movie. Michelle Pfeiffer is hot. James Spader is the master of playing the pricky young publisher moving in on Jack’s turf… but yeah, this movie is just a good reason to watch Jack play Jack… and it’s basically symbolic of two guys trying to mark their territory… love it

• In the Mouth of Madness – The year after Jurassic Park came out, Dr. Grant (Sam Neill) was in this John Carpenter movie about an insurance adjuster looking into the fans of a horror writer and… it just gets really weird & satanic… check it out… Jurgen Prochnow is cast perfectly

• Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation – Ladies & gentlemen, starring Academy Award-winner Matthew McConaughey & Renee Zellweger… the first of MANY Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboots… and if you’ve seen it… you know why I’m laughing about robot legs.



Family

• The Lion King – Still probably the best Disney movie…

• The Little Rascals – F**k I love this movie too… in spite of Whoopi’s cameo

• D2: The Mighty Ducks – Team Iceland… you don’t like them either…

• The Jungle Book – Why isn’t Jason Scott Lee in more movies?

• The Flintstones – I mean… for a Flintstones movie… eh…

• The Return of Jafar – HELL YEAH!!! The straight-to-VHS sequel to “Aladdin” which was actually okay…

• Richie Rich – Macaulay Culkin headlined this movie and “Pagemaster” this year… does it piss you off sometimes that a 13-year old can make a sh*t ton more money than you ever will?

• Angels in the Outfield – TONY DANZA!!!

• The Next Karate Kid – Ladies & gentlemen, starring TWO-TIME Academy Award-winner Hilary Swank as the more effeminate Daniel-son (Danielle-son?) in the fourth movie of the legendary series… hmm… do you think if there was a twist ending where she died at the end, would she be a THREE-TIME Academy Award winner?



The Rest

• Four Weddings & a Funeral – Yeah… no comment…

• It Could Happen to You – No… no, it couldn’t… but Nicolas Cage!

• Reality Bites – Ugh… I wanted them all to die when I saw this for the first time last year…

• Hoop Dreams – 13 year old me decided to watch this three-hour documentary about William “Bill” Gates & Arthur Agee, two kids from Chicago trying to make it to the pros… instead of “Billy Madison” & another movie that my brother decided to go see instead (early 1995)… he won that round… but still, great documentary… it’s tough to cover something like 15 years in less than three hours

• Quiz Show – Haven’t seen it… heard good things… directed by Robert Redford… won awards…

• Exotica – I just remember this trailer a lot… because it had Casey Jones (Elias Koteas) and it was the saddest, creepiest strip club that I had ever seen at the time…

• North – So while Bruce Willis was also revitalizing his career in “Pulp Fiction”, he also played a guy in a pink bunny suit in this flick… and with a ridiculously star-studded cast… directed by Rob Reiner… but just to put it in perspective, Bruce Willis was in a pink bunny suit… and Kathy Bates was an Eskimo mother… even though the first role of a ten-year old jailbait Scarlett Johannsen, one of the worst movies ever made…

• Exit to Eden – But not even the worst movie made that year… Dan Aykroyd & Rosie O’Donnell undercover at a sex resort… the best part about this movie… my mom picked it out when I was a kid. “Hey, this one has the guy from Ghostbusters & that girl from A League of Their Own! I’ll bet it’s hilarious!” She was wrong… but I still love her…



Seriously though, if you can think of a better year for movies… please share. I enjoy these little trips down memory lane… and now I’m gonna have to watch half of the above list again. Have a great weekend everybody!!!

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