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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Introduction/ a brief explanation of disturbitude and a warning!



Welcome my friends to my year in disturbing movies. Allow me, if you will in this weekly segment, to bombard your brain with some of the most disturbing imagery that some of the most disturbing filmmakers have ever put to celluloid. I bet you’re wondering why I would put myself through this sort of thing. I like to test myself; I’ve put myself through marathons of terrible movies on purpose. I’ve watched all the police academy films in one day. It’s just something I enjoy doing. It’s a great challenge and an honor to find the worst of the worst in disturbing cinema and put myself through it and then report to you my findings. I will admit a lot of these films I’ve seen already, but that’s how I know they’re so screwed up.

Disturbitude is a scale I created to describe the attitude of a disturbing film. How much is a filmmaker trying to get you in therapy? How successful are they? This all boils down to a 1-10 scale where 1 = either trying really hard and failing miserably, or not trying at all and 10 = mission accomplished, you’ll be checking in to the local mental health care facility after you’ve watched this, or perhaps even during.

A WARNING! – There will be spoilers in my reviews; I will be going into great detail of the disturbing scenes I will be watching. I do not, however, feel this is a bad thing because we all know that with this sort of thing, seeing is believing!

Also if you like what you read and feel that you have people who would enjoy my year in disturbing film or any of my film reviews, please feel free to pass this page on to them.

World's Greatest Dad - Profound




Let me pose a question; is it all right to lie if the lie turns out to be beneficial to a lot of people? Maybe I can explain that better. Lets say there’s this kid and no one likes him. He’s a pervert who’s borderline mentally handicapped. He is what most people would refer to as a douche bag. His favorite thing in life is a vagina, though it is a safe assumption that he’s a virgin. This boy likes to experiment while masturbating and peeps on his neighbors while they’re changing. Now let’s say in the act of autoerotic asphyxiation he accidentally kills himself. Ok now let’s say you’re the boy’s father and in one last act of kindness you decide to pen a suicide note for the boy and make it all seem like he was a tortured soul. The note leaks and people ask if the boy has written anything else. You, as the boy’s father, decide to take up the pen once again and write a journal for your now practically worshipped, completely idolized son….


(a new teen sensation or a twisted little pervert)

Here’s the basic dilemma in world’s greatest dad. No one likes Kyle Clayton. No one even particularly likes Kyle’s father Lance (Robin Williams). The story noted above takes place and this note and journal begin to affect people. One boy finds the courage to admit that he’s gay and later admits that he contemplated suicide, but the note and journal stopped him from doing it. The token Goth girl posthumously falls in love with Kyle. His image adorns everyone and practically everything in the school and they even want to rename the library after him. Now I pose the question again, Is it all right to maintain a lie when it’s creating a positive benefit for the masses? This is not a question for me to answer though, it can only be answered by one man, Lance Clayton and answer it he does.

Now here’s my aggravation, Robin Williams was in two movies in 2009. Bet you didn’t know that? I know you’ve heard of one of them, old dogs. A film that looked so bad just seeing the trailer made me angry and world’s greatest dad. Robin Williams has been around for a long time, He’s paid his dues and frankly should be at a point in his career where he shouldn’t have to make crapfests like old dogs. Especially when he’s proven on at least a couple of occasions that the man can act, given the right material (I’m looking right at you fisher king and one hour photo). Robin Williams plays dark beautifully and in this, writer and director Bobcat Goldthwait’s newest (yes THAT Bobcat Goldtwait) film he proves once again that he can play comedy serious and not ham it up.

Goldtwait proves that when a man knows his own material inside and out it’s only he who can evoke the emotional response required for any particular scene. He does a outstanding job with the direction in world’s greatest dad and I’m personally looking forward to seeing more work from him. To think that this is the man who spent years of his career screaming and talking funny as the punch line to his joke. Actually his small cameo in the film he speaks perfectly normal and I was almost a little weirded out by that, expecting him to bust in like his Zed character on police academy. I suppose I’ll just have to get over that on my own time.

World’s greatest dad is a profound and heart wrenching dark comedy by a man taking his first steps towards his future status as master of his craft. Let’s hope he doesn’t follow this up with a sequel to hot to trot.

5 accidental suicides out of 5

Next up: We’ll see, I’ve got several to choose from, but most likely black dynamite!

P.S. I just snapped some nice up skirt photos and I’m gonna choke myself while I masturbate to them, dial 9 and 1 and if I look like I pass out dial the other 1. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sherlock Holmes - for the holidays


yes it's a tad homoerotic


Some can argue that guy Ritchie hasn’t had a real hit since 2000’s Snatch. The one thing that can’t be argued is that Guy Ritchie has always been Guy Ritchie. Say what you want, but he has a distinct visual style that pops off the screen. There are few directors in the business these days who can say the same, Maybe Wes Anderson and as much as I hate to say it, Michael Bay.

Ritchie’s Vision of Holmes is a sight to behold on a big screen. I had some mild trepidation going into this one because the trailers really make it out to be a Jerry Bruckheimer film full of chase scenes and explosions. I’m happy to say this isn’t the case and exposition takes center stage throughout. That’s not to say there are none, but they’re done tastefully and only when appropriate to the story. Speaking of which…

If you didn’t know who Sherlock Holmes was before beginning this review I suggest maybe not worrying about the film so much and picking up a book. They’re well worth the read, especially if you like a good mystery, just making a suggestion. Anyway, our good man Holmes and his right hand man/Boswell Dr. Watson have just captured Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) and he is to be put to death. His final wish is to see Holmes, Blackwood tells him that he will return from the dead and continue his work in the dark arts. That’s the entire movie, that one previous line is essentially the entire plot to the film and the devil’s in the details. The thing that was always so great about Sherlock Holmes and I feel Guy Ritchie hits this nail right on the head is that he can deduce the infinite out of the infinitesimal. By the third act things should be clicking in your head and you should be putting everything together. It’s not an incredibly complicated mystery and some details are specifically left out (as Holmes was apt to do) so that when they are revealed you say to yourself “so THAT’S why he was licking the rock” or whatever he happened to have done.

Sherlock Holmes in the books was described by Watson as “bohemian” with little care for traditional organizational habits or grooming. So in that I applaud Robert Downey Jr. in his portrayal and besides whom better to play a borderline madman genius with issues. Another forgotten and mostly overlooked aspect of Holmes is that he was the first western martial artist. Holmes was a practitioner of an eclectic and odd little gem of a form known as Bartitsu (or as it was called in Doyle’s books Baritsu). Jude Law as Watson seems a perfect fit as well; he plays the equal parts keen observer and na├»ve dupe eloquently. I was glad to see Mark Strong; he’s one of those actors you know his face and you’ve seen him before, but you just don’t remember his name. Well remember it; I’m hoping that this helps him get more high profile gigs because he deserves it.


this face

Sherlock Holmes may not be Ritchie’s best film, but it’s a perfect litmus test to see what Ritchie can do with a bigger budget. I would definitely recommend it, though it’s not entirely important you see it in theaters.

4 Genius Madmen out of 5

Next Up: I Spit on your Grave – FINALLY MY YEAR IN DISTURBING FILM BEGINS!

P.S. then after that Daybreakers or perhaps my first SWV of the year!

P.P.S. you can check out this great article on cracked about Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes here

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Miss March – HORSEDICK (DOT) MPEG



I’m not gonna lie. I had kinda high hopes for Miss March. I’m a fan of the show the whitest kid u’know and Trevor Moore and Zach Cregger are the two main writers on that so it’s a bit disappointing that this was such a colossal turd. Speaking of shit, I hope you like incontinence humor because there’s plenty of it. Its spread all over this bagel like, well like bird shit pushed around with your windshield wipers. Oddly enough that’s pretty much the only shit joke left out of this one.

The “story” is that of a young abstinent Eugene Bell (Cregger) and his virginal girlfriend. They decide that they’re finally going to take the plunge and make whoopee for the first time after prom. Tucker (moore) is Eugene’s best friend, he’s also horny as hell and lacks the social skills to land all but the most desperate of women. Tucker decides that the best way to get prepared for his first time is with a couple of shots, but keeps them coming and eventually poor Eugene finds himself at the bottom of a set of stairs...with a toolbox about to land on his head…followed by the bookshelf everything was sitting on. Fast forward four years and Eugene is waking from a coma. Tucker figured the easiest way to wake him is with a well placed crack with a bat. Oh did I mention that this is less than twenty minutes into the film and the one real laugh of the film has already taken place. I forgot to mention it, well really I didn’t. You see, Eugene and Tucker have this friend Phil who is an aspiring rapper who named himself “HORSEDICK.MPEG” (played by the only talented actor in this thing, Craig Robinson).



So yeah Tuckers first thought is to bring Eugene to the playboy mansion after he wakes up because they find out Eugene’s girlfriend became a playboy playmate (the titular Miss March). To fill the time between Eugene’s awaken the boys are chased by crazed firemen. Why are they being chased by crazed firemen? Thought you’d never ask because this part is probably the most deplorable part of the film. Apparently Tucker is dating a girl with epilepsy; he’s clueless to what this condition is, but is quick to correct people when they call her “handicapped” well they go out for the 13 month anniversary of the day they first “boned”. He has this whole plan to get more sex and once she’s delivering oral pleasure this is when he figures it would be the best time to show her the strobe light he installed. Yeah THAT happens and now she’s clamped down so he figures the best way to get her off is to stab her in the face with a fork, repeatedly. Her brother is an insane fireman so he puts out an “APB”, didn’t realize firemen could do that.

So there you go, a movie filled with poop and seizure blowjobs and one funny character name HORSEDICK.MPEG, the end. I looked on IMDB for some memorable quotes and there weren’t any. Seemed fitting.

1 HORSEDICK.MPEG out of 5

Next up: probably Sherlock Holmes, unless I try to add more movies to my worst of the year list

P.S. I need a shower after watching this

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Avatar – Sexy blue cat people affect my bathing suit area



Let’s take a look back on the long and highly impressive career of Mr. James Cameron. In the course of 5 years in the eighties the man made 3 of the most recognizable names in Sci-Fi and action. The Terminator, Still my favorite of the 37 terminator movies (around that many, right?). Then he takes the reins from Ridley Scott to make Aliens, considered by many to be the best in the series. Lastly he gives us The Abyss, a classic through and through. On this alone Cameron could have easily rested on his laurels and never made another film, but rest he did not. He went on to make T2, True lies (maybe not he best work, but hey you gotta admit it’s a fun little flick) and Titanic amongst others.

A lot of people looked at his more recent work in drawing their conclusions about Avatar, Cameron’s newest. Big mistake people! James Cameron has already proven to us that he’s a master of sci-fi and he doesn’t disappoint with Avatar. Before I get going too far into the review I should note that I saw Avatar in 2-D and not in IMAX so all my opinions are based on my personal experience.

Cameron does not give you a moment to think. He immediately throws you on Pandora a small moon smaller than earth that can support life, just not ours. The atmosphere on Pandora is said to “knock you out in 20 seconds and 4 minutes later you’ll be dead”. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) had a twin brother, he died. This is a good thing for the recently paralyzed Jake because The Corporation his brother was working for has offered him the opportunity to earn some cash and even the surgery to get his legs back. You see, they made this little avatar thing specifically for his brother and now he’s dead. The only person who can control the avatar is the person it was made for, except in this case due to him being a twin, lucky right? Unfortunately, this is about the point where you’re going to start piecing the story together. It’s pretty derivative. Essentially it’s Dune, but who wouldn’t want to watch Dune again. Especially with a cast that features Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana, Michele Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel Moore and the incredibly badass Stephan Lang as Col. Miles Quaritch. The Col. Is the type of hard ass military man that should he find himself on fire, he might put it out as an afterthought, but only once he’s completed his objective.

The main reason why anyone is watching this is the visual FX. I have to say I was completely floored by just how great everything looked in this film. IT better look great, Cameron certainly spent enough spare change on it. Avatar is truly a film a decade in the making. Pandora is not just a set; it is a living breathing and, most importantly, feeling world. It is a world deeper than anything George Lucas has ever managed and is easily on par with middle earth (Weta worked on the FX so I cannot wait to see what else those kiwis can pull off). The natives of Pandora, a sort of giant blue cat people called the Na’vi. They can commune with nature through their tails and maintain a peaceful coexistence with the world around them. The Na’vi culture is so rich that is oozes on the screen. Many of their beliefs are taken from the Gnostics and Taoist spiritualism and hammered into place with a healthy dose of environmentalism.

The humans are there to find a rare and insanely expensive ore called Unobtanium (I’m guessing the pun is intended, everything else in the movie is). We’re the bad guys; this point is pretty much drilled into your head form moment one. And of course if we’re the baddies that means the head baddie is our good friend Col. Quaritch. One thing can be said for the good Colonel, The man is the sickest fucker in the film. You’re going to be on the edge of the seat every time he’s on screen; you ain’t ever seen a character like this. I now have a costume idea for next year, now where do I find a large cat to claw my head?



I’ve been asked if I felt the film was “anti-america”. I always reply “no” I think Cameron lets a lot of his political views find their way onto screen and there are some pretty obvious correlations made in the film, but when you step back and think about it most of the fuss makes little sense. It’s not a government starting a war for a hard to come by commodity; it’s a huge corporation with their own army of ex-military mercenaries. Regardless that’s a very little thing to quibble over. This is a “must see in theaters” movie, from what I’ve heard it’s preferable to see it in 3-D and I may try to make my way to a 3-d IMAX to see it again, but till then just know that it’s a pretty brilliant film featuring creatures that will bring back inappropriate memories of you masturbating to a certain female Thundercat when you were eleven in your old family home with the door that had no lock so you had to worry that someone might walk in on you. Oh and yes I DO have vivid memories of YOUR childhood home, I’m not talking about myself….I swear.

don't look at me like that Neytiri

4 ½ feral cat people out of 5

Next up: Sherlock Holmes and if we’re lucky the Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

P.S. I need a cigarette…..

This is it, the best of the best of the best

and the worst of the worst

Here we go

Top Ten of 2009

10 - Chocolate - The story of an autistic girl who kicks all sorts of ass.



9 - Ponyo - Reviewed on this site, go check it out



8 - Anvil: The story of Anvil - A documentary about a band spending it's entire career fighting to regain the fleeting moments of fame it had at the begining (Update: since the movie hit this year they've been getting a lot of support and have even played opener for AC/DC's most recent stadium tour, good for them. I can't think of a band that deserves it more) METAL ON METAL!!



7 - Observe and Report - The OTHER (and significantly BETTER) mall cop film of 2009. a must see if you missed it.



6 - UP! - Reviewed on this site, check it out. Also this movie has made me cry with every single viewing. Damn you Pixar for making such potent material.



5 - Star Trek - JJ Abrams reinvention of the series is the second best sc-fi movie of the year. It handles time travel better than any movie I've ever seen.



4 - Fantastic Mr. Fox - Reviewed here, check it out...it's FANTASTIC



3 - Moon - Isolation, insanity, depression...Who could ask for anything more?! Moon is my favorite science fiction film of the year and if you get the chance to see it you'll understand why. This is classic science fiction at it's best.



2 - Inglourious Basterds - read the review, ya basterd!



1 - District 9 - I have a friend who argues with me on the importance of this film. His biggest arguement is that the main character is "a wimp" as he so elegantly puts it. This does nothing but prove to me that he does not get the film and is obviously a product of 80's action films. District 9 was a breath of fresh air in a year of film rife with stagnant, putrid stench. I implore anyone who hasn't seen it to do so and to watch it with an open mind and an open heart. You can read my review on this site.



Honorable mentions: Funny People, The informant!, Zombieland, Tyson

Now on to the worst of the worst...
My Top Five Worst Films of 2009

5 - X-men origins: Wolverine - Up and coming filmmakers should look at this as what not to do with special FX.

4 - Armored - Reviewed here, go take a peek....I dare you!

3 - Land of the lost - oh Will Farrell how far have ye fallen and why'd you have to take Danny McBride with you.

2 - Paul Blart: mall cop - I probably should be allowed to put this on my list. I only made it five minutes in before shutting it off.

1 - Halloween 2 - I don't usually watch remakes and I try to avoid sequels to remakes, this is the only movie I've seen this year that managed to get less than one full star, Though managed to avoid the dreaded zero stars.

(Ed. Note: I feel this needs to be mentioned. I know I watched it after the fact, but Miss March completely deserves to be on this worst of the year list. So i'm adding it an a DIShonorable mention)

Every year there's one or two movies that just get way more credit than they deserve. Now it's my turn to knock it down a peg with my...

Most Overrated Film: The Hangover - This is a film that has few laughs and the ones they have are far between. Zach Galifinakis and Ed Helms carry this movie, I would have shut it off if not for them. The one guenuine laugh they got from me was during the end credits showing the pictures on the camera.
Honorable mention: I love you, man.

On the other end of the spectrum there are films that come out that don't get the credit they deserve. A prime example of this is 2008's Role Models, but this is 2009.

Most Underrated Film: Cold Prey - This foreign horror is well worth the watch. It didn't get much promotion here in the states, sadly.

Moe's Favorite character of 2009: Dug from UP! - Dug is a pleasure to watch and a joy to listen to, he's the epitome of adorable. You just want to pet him and take him home, because you love him.
Honorable mention: Hugo Stiglitz from Inglourious basterds

Moe's Favorite performance by an actor: this was a three way tie between Sam Rockwell, Christophe Waltz and Sharlto Copley (from Moon, Inglourious Basterds and District 9 respectively)

well that's it, There's 2009 in a nutshell.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Armored - Wore pretty thin


(I did a search on google for "armored" and found this picture of a fish, it's more interesting than the movie was)


The thing I love about writing reviews for really great movies is that you allow your passion to take over and the review writes itself. I’ve had situation where I’ll start writing and next thing I know it’s an hour and half later and I have this wonderful little review staring at me and I’m proud of myself. The flip side to this is the reviews I’m forced to write for terrible movies. They can actually be as easy as the goods ones when a fair amount of humor is involved in the process. Occasionally you get a movie that actually makes you mad to even think about it and that makes the writing of the review that much harder. You force yourself to write it despite the fact that it’s actually making you mad just in the process of writing. Take a guess what kind of movie armored is…..

I’m a fan of botched heist films, they have such potential to be hilarious or can go the other way and be gripping and filled to the brim with drama and antici……………pation. Armored fails on both these fronts, this is the story of a man who’s going to lose his house if he doesn’t come up with some money. The only thing different between armored and every other movie with the same story is that the man in question (in this case Ty Hackett played by Columbus Short) isn’t the person who has the plan to get the money. Enter Matt Dillon, whose character Mike’s relationship with Ty was never entirely explained. He’s a friend of Ty’s father and possibly even Ty’s godfather? They look about the same age so I’m not sure what the deal with them is.


(this is the pace of the film)

Mike, apparently inspired by one particularly unlikely urban legend about armored truck heists, gets the idea to rob their own trucks and hide the money till the heat blows over. This concept is so flimsy that if it were a bridge I wouldn’t risk putting a hamster on it. But as is apt to happen in these kind of movies, he had already convinced 4 other guys to do it and all he needs is Ty’s approval and it’s a go. After a visit from the child welfare office (which is hilariously misinterpreted by the younger brother jimmy “I kept telling her, you got a job, we don’t need no welfare!”) Ty is in for the job on one condition, no one gets hurt. So at this point in the review you should all know how the rest of the movie plays out. Sorry to tell you, you’re all probably 100% right.

The heist goes smoothly, they go to store the money and there’s a vagrant in the abandoned building they decided to use, they shoot him, this pisses off Ty who tries to save him, they kill the vagrant and all hell breaks loose. Ty locks himself in the truck, manages to attract the cops, cop gets shot and he somehow gets the cop into the truck. Ty eventually manages to contact help and the day is saved…seriously. Mix in some obligatory chase scenes add in a handful of the expected “twists” and just a touch of tacked on Hollywood happy ending and you’ve got yourself a direct to video release that somehow managed to hit the big screen. The biggest problem with this movie, aside from just about everything, is the best actors in the film (sans Matt Dillon) were grossly underused, This would have been the Direct to video event of the year for the people who like those (my usual movie going partner among them), but in the end all you get is the most predictable, generic film of the year. The only solace I have is that in a couple of months when it finally hits DVD, if someone asks me what I thought of armored, I can look them right in the face and say “what’s that?”

One Genuinely interesting part of the movie…out of five

P.S. How bad is it that I didn't even mention Jean Reno or Laurence Fishburne?

Next up: Invictus - a last minute blood replacement (get it, I made a rugby reference!)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox - Dare I say it was fantastic?


There are three kinds of people in the world; those who love Wes Anderson, those who hate Wes Anderson and those who have no idea who Wes Anderson is. He’s one of those directors that seem to inspire a certain amount of loyalty in his fans; His fans will typically forgive his lesser films because they know something brilliant is always right around the corner. This was the case with the Darjeeling limited, a film that I enjoyed, but was easily his weakest film. Needless to say I am a fan of Wes Anderson’s work, in fact I don’t think he’s made a film yet that I haven’t at the very least enjoyed on some level. I remember back in the late 90’s watching bottle rocket for the first time (before I was the film junkie you see before you now) and thinking to myself “wow” and I’ve followed that man’s career since.

I want to gush about this film, I want to go on and on about how I loved everything about it, how I loved the cast and the story and the animation, but I’m going to say this first. I knew I must have had some cosmic connection to this film when it started with a limerick, taken from the book, but nonetheless…

Boggis and Bunce and Bean
One fat, one short, one lean
These horrible crooks, So different in looks
Were none the less equally mean.

That says it all right there, it was fate.

The story Begins with Mr. Fox and Mrs. Fox (george Clooney and Meryl Streep respectively) in the process of stealing squab from a local farm when Mr. Fox in his infinite curiosity springs a trap. Mrs. Fox declares that she’s pregnant, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The conversation leading up to the trap sets the tone for fox and wife’s relationship. Fox does what he wants while giving the impression that he’s giving you an option, this eventually comes to bite him in his tail (while he still has it). Mrs. Fox asks him to give up thieving and for a good long while he does, but soon they move into a tree directly across from the farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean and he gets that itch for one more job and plots a heist on the farms, I won’t give away what happens, but needless to say it’s not as easy going as he suspects and eventually the farmers declare all out war on the fox forcing him and all his ground dwelling comrades into hiding.

Jason Schwartzman plays Ash, fox’s son, who is small for his age and desperately wants to be an athlete like his father was, playing the single most complicated game I have ever seen described. In this character is where we see where the heart of Anderson’s film really is. It’s the awkward dynamic between father and son where the director really seems to shine. Ash’s cousin Krsitofferson (voiced by Wes Anderson’s brother Eric) comes to live with them while his father is healing from double pneumonia and immediately the rivalry begins. Kristofferson is a natural talent, he meditates often and seems to give little effort to anything he’s doing, yet still does it flawlessly. He is both confident, yet sad. You’re reminded on several occasions that his father is sick and even though the father isn’t present you still understand the father/son relationship they have and you feel for him.

The rest of the voice cast is speckled with Anderson regulars and some surprising cameos that if you notice them you’ll chuckle. I didn’t actually notice till I read the credits at the end of the film. I’m not actually very good at picking out voices on animated films; I tend to get sucked into the story, a trait I’m very proud of. But you’ll notice the obvious ones; Bill Murray, George Clooney, Willem Defoe, Owen Wilson…etc. The biggest surprise to the cast that I got the biggest kick out of was Jarvis Cocker (lead singer of the brit band pulp) playing Petey, even performing a tune for the audience, with one of the funniest punch lines in the film or at least I thought so. And a Great little cameo from Mario Batali playing Rabbit, do I even need to mention that Rabbit is the chef? Probably not.

As is expected with a Dahl adaptation there is some wonderful word play used and as I’m not familiar with the source material I can’t say if the credit should go to Dahl or Anderson (probably Dahl), but whenever a character swears instead of simply bleeping it as would simply bring attention to it being a bad word. They simply say “cuss” the first time the audience is introduced to this it took me a second to realize what they were saying, but it soon became a running joke. Even going so far as to show one scene in the town where the word “cuss” is tagged on one of the buildings.

Badger: The cuss you are.
Mr. Fox: The cuss am I? Are you cussing with me?
Badger: No, you cussing with me?
Mr. Fox: Don't cussing point at me!
Badger: If you're gonna cuss, you're not gonna cuss with me, you little cuss!
Badger: You're not gonna cuss with me!

This is obviously played off as a joke for the adult members of the audience and a few kids may speculate what the word means, but I think once the parents let them know we may even see little kids swearing less because it’s so much fun to say “cuss”!

Fantastic Mr. Fox is just that, fantastic and is deserving of all the praise it’s been receiving, the only warning I would give potential movie goers is this. If you’re not a fan of Wes Anderson or perhaps you’ve never seen his films before, this may not be the one to start with. Watch Rushmore first and if you like it have fun with Mr. Fox. If you know you don’t like his stuff then avoid this one, it’s not going to change your mind, but as for me, I loved it.

Five fantastic foxes out of five

Next up: Armored – fantastic?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ninja Assassin – Not redundant, trust me

Its thanksgiving and I just finished eating my turkey, I wonder if I can bang this out before I pass out. Let’s take the chance…

The cast of Ninja Assassin reads like a who’s who of who? If you’re into Korean pop or by chance saw the brief rivalry he had with Stephan Colbert in 2007 you may know who Rain is. If you’ve seen the Brit-com coupling then you’ll recognized a slightly more aged Ben Miles, though to be fair, he’s the biggest name in this film. That’s not to say the acting is bad in Ninja Assassin, it’s not particularly great, but it’s about what you’d expect for an A budget B-movie. The focus is clearly on the action and it seems like a large chunk of the budget is put towards the CGI blood FX. Personally I’m a bigger fan of practical effects and would much rather see a gallon of real “blood” sprayed across the screen than a splattering of CGI blood that never lands and that has no possible way of maintaining it’s continuity, but I digress…

Let me say this first, Ninja Assassin is not a bad movie, though it did have a few faults, I’ll touch on those in a minute. The first two acts of this film were great. The opening scene is possibly one of the greatest bits of action I’ve seen in some time and the way Ninja Assassin plays with the ninja mythology is actually quite well done and does nothing to diminish my love for the darkness dwellers. The film tells the story of the ninja as that of supernatural beings, almost demons if you will. They slip in and out of shadows unseen and you’re standing there holding your heart before you can even see them.

Raizo (Rain) is a ninja of the Ozunu clan, Stolen as a child and trained to be a ninja under the guidance of the harsh clan leader. As is apt to happen with young boys and girls living together training to be ninjas, the young Kiriko falls for Raizo and helps heal his feet after an exceptionally brutal day of training. The flirtation never really develops beyond the occasional helping of the one another when they’re in trouble, but you can tell there’s something brewing under the surface. This all culminates the night Kiriko decides she’s going to leave the clan (apparently they frown upon this kind of thing in the clan). She kisses Raizo goodbye and scales the wall and of course, because they’re fucking ninjas, she’s brought back the following day to be dealt with. And dealt with she is, severely and poor Raizo can just sit there and watch.

This terrible event in his life apparently takes an awfully long time to matter to him and what seems like six or seven years later he decides to leave the clan after he’s called upon to “deal with” another fellow clansman who tries to leave. This is about where the real action starts, this is also where all the problems start, but I’ll get to those in just one more moment. Raizo successfully escapes and is living on the run, he also spends his days hunting down his former clansmen (get it? He’s an assassin of ninjas, a ninja assassin, if you will). At the same time (in a nearly pointless b storyline) Mika, A Europol agent, is uncovering a conspiracy going back a thousand years. Apparently the ninja can cover up all their trails except the paper trails left by bank deposits, yeah apparently ninjas accept wire transfers for payment for assassinations, who knew?

So aside from the fairly flimsy storyline, the film has a few other minor issues that struck me as rather irritating, A.) The director, James McTeigue, shoots the action so incredibly close that you may just get motion sickness trying to crane your head in the hopes you might catch a bit more of what the hell is going on! There are scenes in Ninja Assassin that if they had pulled back just two inches on the action you would have been hooting at how awesome the action is, but it was just lacking when you can barely tell what’s going on. This isn’t the entire movie, it seems to start around the time Raizo escapes the clan, I believe in that particular scene they zoom in and out so much that it’s like you’re watching an old home movie where your father is just discovering the zoom, I say your father because mine never bothered with most technology, but that’s another story all together. So here’s my advice to you Mr. McTeigue, pull it back a little bit, trust me you’ll be one of the best action directors in the market and everyone will love you. There are action scenes in NA that are shot wonderfully, so I know you can do it James. B.) I’m not going to spoil third act for you, so I will leave this complaint at this. The third act takes everything it builds up to with the first two acts and turns it on its ear. If they had followed the logical conclusion the story was heading this would have been an obvious five star movie, but sadly they do not and deservedly it does not get a five in my book…

Three assassinated ninjas out of five

Next up: Fantastic Mr. Fox - better be fantastic

P.S. Now I'm off to take a nap

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pirate radio – The boat that rocked


Sorry Philip Seymour Hoffman, I apologize Kenneth Branagh, my condolences; Nick frost, Jack Davenport, Rhys’ Darby and Ifans and to the rest of the cast. None of you are the star of this film, you’ve been shown up, you’ve been outdone and you’ve been made to look small. I sincerely feel bad for all of you. You all, despite a valiant effort, pale in comparison to the true star of the movie. The soundtrack! I’m not typically the type of guy who buys movie soundtracks, but I will more than likely be buying this one. A Stellar collection of rock, pop, soul and blues from, what the filmmakers so helpfully remind us is, the greatest era of British music in history. It seems obvious that a movie about a pirate rock radio station would have a lot of music in it, but they could have easily done this wrong. They could have easily stuck to the well worn and well known hits of the day and the majority of the population would have still enjoyed this movie, but it became apparent right from the beginning of the movie that filmmakers had a true love of the music as it is presented front and center and in several scenes actually steal the scene from the actors. A prime example of this is played out during a wedding scene where one of the shipmates is marrying a woman named Elinore, you’re probably already humming it to yourself (if you’re anything like me you are) and my guess is when they were making pirate radio (called the boat that rocked in Britain) they were thinking the same thing, so the scene closes with the entire cast singing “Elinore” by the turtles as the man carries his (soon to be ex) wife down the hall and into their room. I could discuss the music in the film all day, so I will forcibly remove myself from the topic. You’ve heard about the tutti fruity, now let me tell you about the whomp bomp a loo bomp ba lomp bam boom.

The story centers on a young man whose mother insists he spend some time on the boat that hosts the radio station “Radio Rock”, her motives are questioned later in the film, but I won’t discuss them here as it would be giving way too much away. While this is supposed to be the A storyline it quickly takes B billing to the frat lifestyle the boat offers. They spend a decent amount of time on each character and their quirks and before too long you feel like you’ve been on the boat with them the whole time. You get to meet the roster of radio personalities; the (fucking) count (Hoffman) and his love of expletives, midnight Mark (Tom Wisdom) who rarely speaks, even when he’s broadcasting (actual quote “wow *puffs cigarette* now *flips on new record*”), Angus (Rhys Darby) who no one likes, Doctor Dave (Nick Frost) who gets a LOT of woman for a big guy, News John (Will Adamsdale) who would gladly die for the news and weather, especially the weather, “smooth” Bob the dawn treader (Ralph Brown) who’s seen so infrequently that no one on the boat knows who he is when he first shows up, Simon (Chris O’Dowd) the morning guy and all around likeably awkward guy and last but not least “the legend” Gavin (Rhys Ifans) who seriously has the best wardrobe of the film, no one can pull off a purple velour suit like him. As well there’s the staff and the man in charge of the boat Quentin (Bill Nighy, in a roll showing that the dude can dance!) who runs the boat less like a father figure and more like that naughty uncle that your mom is probably right in not wanting you to spend too much time with.

On the other side of the dial is government agent Sir Alistair Dormandy (Branagh) who is desperate to get these, not quite, illegal stations off the air. He seeks the aid of a “clever young man” in Jack Davenport’s Twatt (pronounced exactly how you think it is), his name is the cause of many a laugh in the film, what can I say other than it’s a cheap joke, but boy does it work. I laughed each and every time I heard Kenneth Branagh say it. After several failed attempts he discovers a way to get the stations shut down, which directly results in the climax of the film, which is best not discussed as I’m not a fan of spoilers. The juxtaposition used between the raucous ship and the “stiff-upper-lip” government types is a wonderful running gag in the movie. On Boxing Day the Ship gets fortune cookies with facts in them and laughs it up when they realize it wasn’t a joke, Sir Alistair gets a joke, reads it to himself, chuckles and never reveals what the joke is “that’s enough excitement for the day.

There’s something wonderful about a cast of actors who understand drama and comedy on equal levels and pirate radio has this in spades. The comedy is flawlessly timed and the drama seems real, not phoned in or overacted, like most comedic actors like to do. In fact my only real complaint with the movie revolves around the editing. A lot of the movie is shot like a music video so there are jump cuts galore and most of the time this worked, but I feel it became a little too much. That aside, I say come for the music, stay for the comedy. It’s well worth it

Four Twatts out of Five

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Men Who Stare At Goats – all that staring gave me a headache


Ever watch a film and you notice one of your favorite actors is in it, but they’re being horribly misused? Welcome to the world of the men who stare at goats, this film is packed to the gills with stars. Not just any stars, big names that you’ve seen in dozens of films that you’ve loved and know they can pull off most roles thrown at them. Ewan McGregor, George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, Stephan Root and some names you may not recognize, but still deserve respect like Stephan Lang and Nick Offerman. Just take a moment to read that list again, now try to tell me you wouldn’t get excited to see a film featuring these actors. I would and I did and for the most part, when it works, it really worked, but when it didn’t you feel let down.

Remember when you’d get in trouble as a kid and you’re mother would say to you “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed”? That’s exactly what I’d like to say to the maker of this film, Grant Heslov (who actually wrote the very well made good night and good luck). I shouldn’t be too hard on the film though because I actually enjoyed it, but thinking about it afterwards made me realize that there were huge gaps between quality jokes. I’m going to write the whole thing off as inexperience in filmmaking and will hope that Grant Heslov has the chance to perfect his craft and give us the big budget comedy that the men who stare at goats should have been.

Ewan McGregor plays Bob Wilton, a news reporter coasting through life and his career until he happens on an interview with a man who claims he has psychic powers and can travel anywhere in the world without leaving his home. Bob brushes the interview off as a fluke and through generic plot developments finds himself in Iraq where he stumbles upon a gentleman that Bob thinks he can get an un-ambitious story about contracts from which of course turns out to be a man whom is mentioned previously by the psychic who was trained by the military as part of a top secret classified experiment. This would be George Clooney’s Lyn Cassady, a man who it doesn’t seem to take too long to get going at full speed about this “top secret” training he went through, which essentially the rest of the film. The story plays out in two running storylines set 20 years apart, but back story involves Lyn’s training and introduces you to the squad, explaining each member’s quirks and the “current” storyline taking place in 2002, which we find Lyn and Bob entangling themselves in what Lyn keeps referring to as “his mission”. The movie seems to stall out around the end of the second act and picks up again during the third act for about 10 minutes before the movie ends only to end, in my opinion, on a sour note.

The film is a disservice to Ewan McGregor’s ability as an actor and I feel they could have used the supporting cast better. The only character in the film I liked from beginning to end was Lyn Cassady. George Clooney did a fantastic job playing a man who we have a hard time accepting can do the things he does, mostly because he tends to fail at them a lot, but when he gets them right boy does he get them right. One other thing I rather enjoyed was the near constant use of the term “Jedi” Especially around Ewan McGregor. So as disappointing as this film was, it was still worth watching, even if I should have waited for DVD and not so bad as to make it to my list of terrible films of the year. It finds itself hovering right in the mediocre middle

3 ½ “Debleated” goats out of five

Monday, November 2, 2009

G.I. Joe - an old review i felt like posting


Alright let me get this off my chest first, GI Joe is NOT a good movie. not in any traditional sense of the word good. The script is terrible. The acting is sub par with a few shining exceptions and the story is laughable when it's not non existent all together. Now the real question in this case isn't if GI Joe is a good movie, because anyone with half a brain will tell you a resounding "no" with out even having to watch it. No the question isn't if the movie is good, the question is "did i like it?" the answer to that question is a half hearted "sure, why not". I felt kind of manic depressive watching this "film". I was like a 10 year old with a box full of joes getting ready to set up an epic battle during the action scenes, but the dialog scenes made me wish i could take a nap and let the next explosion wake me up.

I will not discuss the art direction or directing or cinematography of this film, most of the movie was done with CGI (poorly). I will also not discuss the storyline, because most of you out there that have heard of GI Joe know that it's an epic clash between good and evil. And there's that word, evil...one of the best things the movie had going for it was that the villains were not the same cobra that we got used to seeing in the cartoons, these guys are demented and pure evil and they don't concoct half baked ideas that get thwarted around every turn, they mean business and they let the audience know this pretty early on in the film. You spend a great deal of the film actually wondering if the Joes are gonna lose in the end and some would argue that they do. The movie sets up perfectly for a sequel, not like you had any doubt they'd make a second one.

One of the other brilliant parts of the film revolve around flashbacks. In this case storm shadow and snake eyes, the kids they got to play the young versions of them are amazing fighters and the scenes really carry entire sections of the movie making to hope that you'll get another flashback of them. The duke flashbacks are there as gap fillers in the story. They help explain things that are taking place in the present. the big twist is barely a twist and the other twist is fun, but not surprising. all in all a good romp laced with fun action sequences, the accelerator suit scenes in particular are rather fun to watch. the slow mo stuff they show in the trailer doesn't do those scenes justice. so I will be giving G.I. Joe 3 out of 5 stars, but to be honest if I could I would give it a 2 1/2. wait for the dvd unless you MUST see the explosions on the big screen

(note: this is an older review i wrote and i didn't really take my time with it, nor did I proof read it too well so cut me some slack.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

UP! - up and away in my beautiful balloon


They say your life flashes before your eyes before you die, well in the case of up! We see Carl Fredricksen’s (Ed Asner) life flash before our eyes in the first several minutes of the film. We see Carl as a young man longing to be an explorer. We see Carl happen upon his future wife, Ellie; we see them grow up together, we see them go through the good times and the bad times, we see them grow old and eventually we see the passing of Ellie. Never in my years of film obsession have I ever grown to love a character so fast and then subsequently shed tears for their lose than I do with Carl. If Pixar had decided to skip this intro to Carl’s life the film would have had a completely different impact, you wouldn’t have cared for him, he would have just been a cantankerous old man.

The premise is simple enough; it’s a story of a man going to extremes to do what he promised his wife they were going to do. They had decided many years ago to build a house at the top of paradise falls (based on angel falls in Venezuela) and seeing as the banks are hassling Carl to sell his home he decides the best thing to do is attach millions of helium balloons and fly his house there, sounds easy enough right? Actually the flying the house to South America part is actually very easy, It’s the people he picks up along the way and the adventures they end up going on that complicate Carl’s plan. Soon after Carl takes off he discovers that a young wilderness explorer named Russell on his front porch, he was under it when they took off looking for a snipe. When they get to Paradise Falls after a bit of bad weather they discover that they can walk the house to Carl’s desired destination. On the way to set the house down they encounter a bird and a dog that can talk via a special collar. Not to give too much away, basically the dog (Doug) works for a man who’s after the bird and the adventures for rest of the film are that of Carl trying to stop his one time hero (Charles Muntz voiced by Christopher Plummer) from taking the bird and Doug (who may be one of Pixar’s most lovable character ever) and Russell helping him against Charles and his band of killer, though loveably ordinary dogs.

Up! May very well be Pixar’s finest bit of animation, It takes the opposite view of ratatouille which went out of it’s way to be insanely detailed. Up! Tends to be more simplistic, but I find it fits the style of the story wonderfully. The film manages to blend emotional highs and lows, depression and elation seamlessly to produce an honest look at one man’s life. 5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, October 22, 2009

paranormal activity - did it live up to the hype?


I don’t believe in ghosts and I don’t believe in demons, but I understand why they’re considered frightening. There’s one thing that makes ghost stories that much more frightening than say slasher films or gore films. Where the slasher and gore films may be slightly more set in some sort of reality, ghost films aren’t. you can’t see the enemy pursuing, you never know when it’s going to strike, you’re filled with a constant knot of dread in your stomach and most importantly, you can’t fight back.

Paranormal activity manages to do one thing that American horror films have notoriously lacked, it fills you with a sense of unease, from the moment the movie begins you’ll have a knot in your stomach wondering when something is going to happen. When something does happen, you’ll feel the payoff for the wait is worth it. The film takes its premise very seriously; there are no opening credits, just a disclaimer stating that it’s a video documentation of what happened to this couple, not even a title screen, there’s also no closing credits which leaves you a little disconcerted when the movie ends. There’s a term I coined to describe this kind of movie, which until today I had used exclusively for a type of Japanese film. I call them “creep films”, because they creep you out. The Japanese usually do this by tossing startling imagery at you in the form of small boy ghosts and women covered in blood climbing through you TV to murder you. There’s nothing like this in paranormal activity, but the term still applies, as the movie is a ghost story, or more aptly a demon story. The film maintains this unease from start to finish, building to a crescendo in the climax in the final minutes of the film.

I’ll get to the thing everyone wants to know, will this movie scare you? Probably not, but depends on how easily frightened you are. There are some very disturbing images in the film and a few things that may even haunt you for a couple days after seeing the film. Overall, however, I would say the movie is more geared towards people who like to feel creeped out and have a sense that something really bad is about to happen and there’s nothing you can do about it. Dread permeates the film and it’s an uncomfortable ride witnessing what happens to poor Micah and Katie. The film strikes me as the type of thing that will end up being very polarizing, there are going to be the people who are going to say it wasn’t scary and therefore not worth wasting your time on, but I will argue this point. No the movie is not scary in the traditional sense, but it is frightening if you let yourself get absorbed into the film and with everything that the characters are going through. If you don’t think you can do that, don’t bother seeing the film. 4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Zombieland: follow the rules


Horror Comedies tend not to fair well in the box office, this doesn’t seem to be the case with Zombieland and there’s a reason to that. Zombieland is a brilliantly made film that also happens to be funny as hell from start to finish. The basic story follows a young man who’s simply referred to as “Columbus” (Jesse Eisenberg) as this is where he’s from. He encounters a man who will be referred to as “Tallahassee” (Woody Harrelson) who is, at this point in the movie, either the biggest badass left on the planet OR maybe just a tad mentally unstable, perhaps both? They decide for some inexplicable reason to join up and travel together after a humorously tense “stand-off”. It quickly becomes apparent that Tallahassee has some screws loose, but this ups the humor factor by many degrees and frankly if it weren’t for the antics of Tallahassee, a good chunk of the movie wouldn’t be nearly as good as it was. I am, however, getting ahead of myself. Columbus, you see, lives by a certain code of honor, a set of rules he’s established for his personal survival. Tallahassee lives by his own personal law as well, it’s much simpler and to the point “enjoy the small things” and in his case that consists of killing zombies, breaking stuff (“venting steam” as he puts it), and desperately trying to find the one snack food he so longs for.

The entire opening section of the movie after the opening credits is Columbus explaining and showing examples of his rules in action. The basics of which are cardio, the double tap (putting an extra bullet in their head to ensure they’re dead), always wear your seatbelt, limber up, don’t be a hero and always check the backseat amongst others. The rules must have worked for him because, frankly, looking at his past there’s no way he should have survived. Speaking of the movie’s opening, the credit sequence in this movie is easily one of the best I’ve seen this year, right up there with watchmen’s, actually the two are very similar despite the different content. It’s all super slow motion Shots of zombies attacking people while “for whom the bell tolls” by Metallica plays

The movie is set, quite literally, across the entire United States. They start in Texas and head east, Ohio and Florida respectively; where during a food stop/Tallahassee steam vent they encounter a couple of survivors named Wichita and Little Rock (played by the gorgeous Emma Stone and the still adorable though she’s starting to grow up Abigail Breslin). I don’t want to ruin some of the best scenes in the movie for you, but let’s just say eventually they “decide” to travel together. Wichita and Little Rock are heading to pacific playland, which they hear is zombie free. The boys “decide” to come along and they wind up in Hollywood, Tallahassee makes the brilliant idea of staying at some celebrity’s home, he describes the person as the “top of the A+” celebrities….it turns out to be Bill Murray, in one of the funniest cameos I’ve seen in a very long time.

I’m not going to discuss the end of the film, but will state that it’s very well done and has some wonderfully funny moments. All in all though I will end by saying that the casting on this film could not have been any better, every time I see Jesse Eisenberg in a film I like him more and more. Woody Harrelson is in top notch form and Emma Stone is proving that she can hang with the big dogs now, though it’s pretty easy when you have the co-stars she has in this. Zombieland does sway much harder in the comedy direction, but there are some good jump scares and the make up FX are done well, and the film is shot beautifully. There are some wonderful parts where if someone does something, or fails to do something on Columbus’ master list a graphic will subtly spring up in the background acknowledging this, little touches like this are what make the film so worth watching. 5 our of 5 stars

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Halloween 2 - electric bugaloo?


Now I pride myself on my extensive knowledge and even more extensive collection of schlock cinema, it's one of my greatest joys in the world. There's just something about a movie that is so bad that it's good, even if the movie is making you ill watching it. There is, however, a thing as so bad it's unwatchable, you know these ones. The movies that you only remember because of how bad they are, the ones that aren't even unintentionally funny; god monster of indian flats, the incredible two headed transplant, waterworld, and battlefield earth to name a few. These are films that are going to go down in history as the worst of the worst.

I do not feel that Halloween 2 belongs with these other films. It's sort of in limbo between so bad it's good and so bad it's unwatchable. You see there are good things about the movie, sadly these things usually only last about a minute or two in duration and mostly consist of death scenes. You see, the violence is the single best part of the film, but if you laid every death scene end to end i doubt it would be more than 20 minutes. Also zombie tends to blow his load early in the film...the last couple of death scenes are weak by comparison consisting of either; quick stabbings or strangling, something Michael's not exactly known for.

Rob Zombie, I truly believe, has overstayed his welcome as a horror film director. Maybe he can find himself a niche market with his next film the haunted world of el superbeasto. An animated film that I'm actually excited for, but i think his days as a horror director are numbered or at least I hope they are. I've been to many many films, especially within the last year and I have, before tonight, only witnessed one other walk out and that was during the collector. Tonight i witnessed not one, but five walk outs only one of which made sense because it was a younger child with his mom and she probably disapproved of the material. I mean, a woman did just get stabbed to death brutally with a knife, with a lovely follow up shot of the woman with a knife sticking out of her head. I do think it speaks volumes of the material that this occurred. The gentlemen I went with to see Halloween with eventually started riffing on the movie a la MST3K, of course lead by myself, which i think actually led to my enjoying the movie more than maybe i should have.

So let's discuss the things i enjoyed about Halloween 2. The violence was great and the gore was well done for a Rob Zombie film, but to be honest was rather shabby for horror movies in general. The gore in the collector for example was amazing comparatively speaking. The many d-list celebrity cameos margot kidder, weird al, chris hardwick and matt bush to name a few. Actually the casting for all the roles outside of the main group of girls is pretty darn great, especially Brad Dourif (wormtongue in LOTR) as the father/sheriff. The main cast of girls on the other hand were atrocious, including the usually delightful Brea Grant, it's not a good sign when the best things the main characters do is dress up like characters from another movie (in this case rocky horror picture show). The scene featuring chris hardwick as a saucy late night TV talk show host and weird Al as his sidekick could easily be considered the best non-death related scene in the movie and arguably the best scene in the entire movie. The best death scene hands down is the scene where Michael Meyers stomps in a man's head, it's brutal and amazing and might be one of the best deaths I've seen this year, but not worth the price of admission. In fact, there's nothing in the movie that even when combined make it worth the price of admission.

Should I discuss what I disliked about the movie? the short answer is "everything else", but it's more than that. Aside the story being half-assed at best and the direction they decided to go with key characters in the series. There are constant attempts by Zombie to make this and art film, he tries over and over again to make this appeal to the more cerebral audience by making it so fucking weird at parts that it's almost impossible to follow and if anyone out there knows the man maybe they can pass this on for me "STOP CASTING YOUR GODDAMN WIFE IN YOUR MOVIES!". she's terrible, pure and simple, she adds nothing to the film while simultaneously taking quite a lot away from it, this needs to end.

would I recommend Halloween 2? no, it's not worth, even for the good bits, as few as they are. I wouldn't even say wait for the DVD, it's not worth your money there either. Wait till it's available at your local library and get it there for free.


till next time it's your favorite movie snob, watching 'em so you don't have to!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ponyo - on a cliff by the sea


Do you remember when you were a kid and the adventures you'd go on? Do you remember how wild your imagination would go and the wacky situations you'd put yourself through? Ponyo, the newest from legendary Japanese director/writer Hayao Miyazaki (spirited away, princess mononoke) let's you relive some of these adventures only through the eyes of 5 year old Sosuke. Sosuke joins the pantheon of strong, young, independent lead characters in Miyazaki films, a trend Miyazaki has been doing for years.

The story begins when a young fish escapes from her father and is washed up onto the shore of a beach where Sosuke is playing, he saves the fish and decides he wants to keep it. He names her Ponyo and soon discovers that she has magical properties.This is one of those movies that makes you feel what the main character feels. You understand where he's coming from and even for a 5 year old, Sosuke is a wonderfully well rounded character. you fall in love with him from the moment he opens his mouth. Same thing goes for ponyo, with the added bonus of when she first opens her mouth she's a fish.

the marketing for this film is very much geared towards children. Even though i feel this is the closest thing to a kids film studio ghibli has ever made, some of the themes in the movie are very adult in nature. the characters are not "kids movie" characters and some of the animation looks like it was designed for adults tripping on acid, but then again most studio ghibli films are designed like that.

My opinion may be a little biased, seeing as i'm in love with the work of miyazaki. I have also never given any film of his less than 5 stars and it will not differ for ponyo. Though it may not be his strongest work, in my opinion that title belongs to the cat returns, i still absolutely loved this film and would recommend it to anyone who loves adventure and would like to be enveloped in the whimsy of childhood. the movie is perfect for everyone in the family, from 5 to 95, so long as they bring their imagination and their sense of adventure. five out of five stars

P.S. if you'rte not into animated films or japanimation, maybe this isn't the film for you OR maybe it's a great place to start

Inglourious Basterds - Spelling aside


There is no way for me to tell you just about anything about inglorious basterds without throwing two dozen spoilers in the review, there just isn't. So i propose this, I will tell you something small and forgivable and you can use this to decide if you still want to see this movie. You ready? here it comes....Inglorious basterds is not the movie that the trailers make it out to be. Sorry to all you folk out there thinking that this is a movie filled with action and snappy one liners designed to put as much gore on screen as thought possible (a la kill bill's crazy 88 scene). Yeah, this movie actually has a storyline and good dialog between characters you grow to care about as the movie progresses. Oh and the acting, oh the acting,the titular basterds (a group of jewish american soldiers) are Brad Pitt as Lt Aldo "the apache" Raine he is a breathe of fresh air and even director Eli Roth gets in on the action as "the bear jew" a character so menacing to the germans that they spread rumors that he's actually a golem. Til Schweiger as Sgt Hugo Stiglitz, who's character probably has the best introduction in the film as well as the best back story. B.J Novak of the office fame plays Pfc. Smithson Utivich, known as the little man to the germans, it's quipped by Christophe Waltz playing the scene stealing Col. Hans Landa "you're actually much taller than i expected you, the soldiers made you out to be a circus midget". Speaking of Christophe Waltz, he alone is worth the price of admission, He is in every important scene in the movie from the very first scene hunting down jews who are hiding to the final scene in the film where he has a memorable scene with Aldo Raine.

So like i said, this movie is not at all what one would be expecting from the trailers. I will admit i was amped for an action movie going into the theater, but was pleasantly surprised by what was laid out in front of me over the following two and a half hours. Tarentino weaves a story in chapters like a book, never leaving any one section too far in the dark before returning. The trailer also makes you think this movie is all about a bloodthirsty team of nazi killers behind enemy lines, when in actuality the trailer is almost entirely cut from scenes from the second chapter in the movie, which is entirely about them. They do play a major part throughout the film, but the movie is mainly split between three main story arcs. The Basterds, which obviously focuses on the exploits of the titular group. The Nazis, or more specifically one nazi Hans Landa and his ever present investigations into the basterds and lastly Frederick and Shosanna. Frederick is a nazi soldier and bit of a big time war hero and he's infatuated with a girl named Emmanuel, who is actually a jew in hiding named shosanna whom we meet at the beginning of the film escaping the nazis. the three storylines do eventually converge onto a single playing field at the end of the movie and it is quite and interesting climax for a movie already chock full of interesting tid bits. I won't give anything away, but I will say that Tarentino did rewrite history on this one.

One of the major drawbacks to this movie and really the only thing i didn't particularly like about it was it's length, but 99% of the movie was needed so i don't really see too many places where he could have trimmed down the 2 1/2 hour run time. The movie isn't by any means boring, but by the end you will be looking at your clock wondering how much longer have you got to go. Also i would say this is a movie for people who like Tarentino and hold similar tastes in films that he has because this was obviously designed for people who are into that style of warsploitation film and anyone who isn't will probably be turned off by the gore or the verbose dialog that QT is known for. My one other complaint is this and it's not even about this particular movie. Hey, Quentin can we maybe take a step back to the old you. The one who used to make edgy movies with edgy dialog and action and stop with these tongue in cheek homages to your childhood? We get that you have a lot of money now and you can make whatever you want, but I think it's either time to move on to your next phase or take a step back and return to your early style of filmmaking. I mean inglorious basterds was great, but maybe it's time for something new? 5 out of 5

(As a side note: I did return to see this movie a second time and it actually managed to get better uopn a second viewing. I truly believe this is Tarentino's masterpiece and if Chrsitoph Waltz doesn't wind up with at least a nod for best supporting actor i will be disappointed)