Tag Archives: movie reviews

Lincoln Log

In case you didn’t know, Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. And Steven Spielberg’s latest turd is here to tell all you kind folks out there how it all came to pass. But I’m here to tell you’s otherwise and just how Spielberg transformed Doris Kearns Goodwin’s The Team of Rivals from a fascinating book about the formation of Lincoln’s administration, and how he had the uncanny ability to delegate the various responsibilities to his formidable contentious cabinet members during the crisis of the Civil War, into a fucking children’s book about the fight for freedom for all mankind. Gross.

Now I’m definitely not saying I advocate slavery but aren’t we all still enslaved by the almighty dollar? Or at least by T.V. anyway. I mean, don’t even get me started about the shenanigans going on over Breaking Amish! While Daniel Day Lewis looks the part, talks the part, feels the part, but is not tall enough for the part, Spielberg deftly manages to Gandalfize him whereby cutting short the height of tables, chairs, doors, and Sally Fields’ legs – who is the epitome of the nagging fugly wife and gives General Petraeus wife a run for her money. Perhaps taking the Whig party too literal, the best prop goes to Tommy Lee Jones’ head rug while the rest of the cast proves to be the ugliest Hollywood crowd hem hawing like a bunch of kids playing with judge hammers.

Given that I’m a Lincolnite, (my handle is Honestabel if you haven’t noticed) as every time I walk by the Cooper Union building in New York City I never fail to salute and acknowledge that this was the place where he stood and coined the phrase “right makes might”, I was really looking forward to this movie to be right – but I had trepidations knowing that Spielberg has a tendency to schmaltz things up and appeal to the worst angels of my nature. This is definitely not one for the ages.

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Skyfail

A fucking moron could have told you don’t drink and fly before wasting 2 plus hours watching Robert Zemeckis’ Flight. But maybe it’s still worth the price of admission for the first 30 minutes alone which are riveting. And I’m not just talking about that spectacular plane crash but also the opening shot of the flight attendant’s T & A, Denzel’s butt crack, and the bump in the morning that proceeds the wreckage before this movie literally takes a nose dive.
In the wake of this, Denzel, who plays an alcoholic commercial airline pilot, struggles to pick up the pieces and along the way picks up a strung out woman (Kelly Reilly) recovering from an overdose of hillbilly heroin in one of those hotspot hospital stairwells. But this subplot romance is just an excuse to have somebody count all the fucking empty bottles of booze Denzel consumes and nag him to attend AA before his upcoming criminal liable investigation – where because of a defective mechanical part he saved the majority of the passengers, drunk as skunk, by using the old flying – the plane – upside down – trick. Though what was really defective was the old alkie father – estranged  from his son – trying to repair the relationship – trick. I mean we’ve all seen that before, and being that it is a big budget Hollywood movie we all know that corny redemption ending of course. As well as the loveable comic relief drug dealer, John Goodman, for all those pinheads in the audience still hung up on the silliness of such make believe characters in Argo. But maybe Goodman is on to something, with shades of Walter Sobchak, in that he’s able to be more animated than the other supporting cast that just read as a bunch of uptight corporate stiffs that represent the airlines interest in Denzel. At least his co-pilot was memorable as a Jesus freak.
If I was in Denzel’s shoes when asked who drank the vodka, I would’ve just simply said, “I don’t know” to the prosecutor – and rather than be behind bars, hit the bars after instead. And then order me up a vodka martini shaken, not stirred, to get myself in the mood to see Skyfall in IMAX this Friday! So fuck y’all!

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Hey You! Get Off of My Cloud!

To be fair, when it took me three sittings to finally get through that five minute Cloud Atlas trailer I knew we were in trouble – suspecting that like their previous lackluster, Speed Racer, the Wachowski Siblings again blew another astronomical budget ($102 million!) in hopes to recapture their critical standing from the revolutionary sci-fi The Matrix even though a decade has passed since. This time around with three directors (Tom Tykwer) and an overly ambitious script based on the much lauded novel that pundits said was unfilmable and I’d argue unreadable too.

With that in mind I thought I was completely prepared for this catastrophe but was only further disappointed when it was not the multiple story lines of pasts and futures, or it’s re-occurring cast that I had initially feared would leave me disoriented in a sticky stuffy theater – but instead the perpetual, mundane reincarnations in Dullsville left me worrying my weekend would be over before the movie. Thankfully I don’t believe in that past life jumbo because I’d hate to sit through this again.

Three hours exhausted on six interlaced plots unfolding in a barrage of non-linear cuts that span over 500 years, planets and terrains, these fruitless tales of love and the quest for freedom of young and old, crusty punks, Amish tongues, gay lovers, asian persuasions, and a stowaway slave all get lost and muddled together and as far as I can tell only linked by a fucking birthmark in the shape of a comet. And even though all were charged with a chase and showdown I honestly didn’t give a fuck what happened to anyone since they’re all going to relive their life somewhere else anyway…except for maybe that Green Dude. He was scary.

Hopefully the Wachowski’s will reinvent instead of resexing themselves after this debacle because the “true-true” is they know how to shoot movies but their highfalutin notions and gimmicky ways, like Tom Hanks performance, get in the way to making coherent works of art with some Kung Fu fighting. But at least it’s better than Seven Psychopaths. Then again, even afterbirth is better than that shit.

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Save it for the Birds

When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, ‘It’s in the script.’ If he says, ‘But what’s my motivation,’ I say, ‘Your salary.’ – Alfred Hitchcock

So last Saturday night I painfully sat through HBO’s The Girl, Tippi Hedren’s alleged account of her mental and sexual abuse from Alfred Hitchcock during the making of The Bird’s and Marnie – a borderline trashy gossip flick and a desperate attempt by Tippi to gain the spotlight one last time by accusing Hitch hindered her career even though he plucked her out from obscurity. But who am I to judge this supposed retelling of she said – he’s dead? Though I can’t see The Birds leaving her too traumatized as she went on to live with a houseful of live-in lions for her and her hubby’s flop Roar, putting all including her daughter at a serious risk of getting one’s head chomped the fuck off.

What I can say is that this made for cable movie was shot so bad that it belonged on Lifetime. This probably being the one reason Hitch is rolling in his grave. And I can’t imagine what Bernard Hermann must think of the atrocious score they laid under this turd.

The only inside story I came away with is that Tippi was a nickname given by her Grandfather. And that Toby Jones who plays Hitch, like his portrayal of Truman Capote to Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s, will once again root comparisons with the upcoming Hitchcock feature film with Sir Anthony Hopkins – which will undoubtedly steal all of Toby’s thunder, relegating him at best to an understudy, due to the fact that I can’t imagine how anybody could do worse.

 

As was well known Hitch was obsessed with blondes – The Girl prefaces with Hitchcock’s words; “Blondes make the best victims. They’re like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints.” How this is equated with Tippi I don’t know, since I’m not quite sure she was a victim but a more or less a flirt and terrible actress. Unless you consider some fat old perv hitting on you, whom happens to be a genius – sexual assault? Instead, I always found Roman Polanski’s take a bit more haunting when answering Robert Towne’s (Chinatown screenwriter) question on why he changed his ending to a tragedy – “Because beautiful blondes die in Los Angeles.” At least Hitch didn’t rape Melanie.

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ARGO FUCK YOURSELF!


First, let’s just get this out of the way, the only reason why the CIA gives a rats ass about Iran is the fact that it has one of the largest proven oil reserves. That being said, Argo begins with a montage of stock footage and a brief narrative history lesson on Iran’s political chaos and succession of dictators/supreme leaders in the 20th century leading up to the year of the infamous hostage crisis that we all know lasted until the minute after Reagan was sworn in – immediately arousing suspicions of a conspiracy, known as the October Surprise Theory. But that’s another story, probably for the limousine liberals like Oliver Stone and Michael Moore.

Anyway, Ben Affleck not only struggles to convince us that he is to be taken seriously as filmmaker, but also that this so-called taut, suspenseful, political caper thriller of six American diplomats who evade capture and are holed up in Iran is “based” on a true story – when in fact the actual escape depicted in this movie orchestrated by super shaggy exfiltration CIA expert, Tony Mendez, (played none other than hero Ben) was a complete fabrication and distortion (with maybe the exception of the shuttle bus engine not starting right away) and just an excuse for him to create nonexistent tension with cross cut editing and extreme close ups of all the diplomats sweating bullets trying to board a plane out of Dodge.

But don’t trust me, the side by side stills comparing images of 1980 vs. Ben’s vision during the end credits are proof positive on just how accurate this romp was or it’s sad attempt for authenticity. And yes I understand it’s only a fucking movie and the concept of dramatic license, but if you can believe this than you probably believe that Ben and Matt actually penned Goodwill Hunting.

To be fair I did find the cover story of a phony Hollywood sci-fi movie production to be fun and amusing, but it was killed by contrived snappy, cute dialogue delivered by Alan Arkin and John Goodman.

But it was credible enough to enamor all those old fogies like Rex Reed who’s year’s favorites include Hope Springs, and also able to distract them evil Iranians who were busy playing aliens and shooting finger space guns at each other before they jumped into cars attempting to chase a down a 747 plane as it’s taking off. Whoa, that sure was a close call! For a minute there I actually thought that they would paint the plane into a corner and kill them all! But thank God Ben saves the day and God Bless America.

“It’s a little like masturbation. You gotta know what you want, know

where you are going, it’s intuitive.” – Ben Affleck on directing himself

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Frankenburton Sparks

There comes a point in almost every artist’s life who has created a substantial body of work when they tend to become repetitive and consequently less innovative (kind of like this blog). But at least you can say they have an individual style and in some privileged cases a coined genre – such as Fellinesque, Kafkaesque, or the oft use Orwellian. I suppose Tim Burton falls into this sort but other than Ed Wood and Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, his stylistic vision is only fully realized through the stop motion animation medium – because the rest of his movies are marred with horribly contrived CGI sets and eccentric caricatures that are never able to transcend and translate to live action, especially Johnny Depp.

Though he tried with Corpse Bride, I think it’s fair to say Burton will never top The Nightmare Before Christmas, but this time around he makes a valiant attempt back to stop motion with his latest, Frankenweenie. Given that it’s a remake of his own 1984 live action short, it was refreshing to see it still shot in black and white with it’s visually dazzling cinematography and sets without the infestation of sellout hollywood fools. Reunited with past monster, Martin Landau, and true long time Canadian weirdos like Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Winona Ryder (MN might as well be Canada) and that ghoulie kid from The Middle, we are treated moments of true humor and good cheer without that patronizing tone in every other kid flick.

Though the movie would have been better with a bittersweet ending and the moral that sometimes you just have to let go of the ones you love – instead of – just use your ingenuity and you too can live happily ever after and be immortal…Cause I’m pretty sure that annoying brat behind me that kept kicking my seat and wouldn’t shut the fuck up probably never even heard of Old Yeller.

 

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Pooper

However implausible this Looper movie is I have to wonder if Jimmy Hoffa or Judge Joe Crater were done in with these same sort of tactics and also how the fuck these sci-fi movies always end up being chick flicks in disguise! I mean if you thought last year’s faux sci-fi movie, The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon with Emily Blunt was gay then wait till you sit through Rian Johnson’s Looper.

Set in the year 2044, a Looper, in this case Joseph Gordon-Levitt, basically awaits with a shotgun and tarp and executes Gitmo look alikes sent back in time by mobsters using an outlawed time machine in order to dispose of bodies because I guess CSI is so advanced in the distant future. Strapped to the backs of these faceless fuck ups are silver bars as form of payment which sounds good and plenty but it sure ain’t worth the ticket scratch nor time wasted waiting for the real draw of this movie, Bruce Willis.

And then that notion of being confronted with your future old self dealing not only with the conundrums of time travel but fighting for both of your survival and in fear of double crossing yourself by giving into the mobsters like Jeff Daniels, who’s not so much menacing as he is funny. But the movie goes south after the diner scene in which Bruce Willis and JGL sit down over steak and eggs to hash things out because the rest of this way too long film is played out on a fucking farm surrounded by cornfields with shotguns and an axe, a pick up truck, and a toy frog walkie talkie alarm to illustrate this futuristic high tech world.

Also, I won’t bother mentioning the annoying character of the little boy since he’s completely absent in all the trailers too. At least Writer Director Rian Johnson ditches his Wes Anderson aesthetic and is now ripe to be ridiculed as this video exemplifies.

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The Master Cleanse

“There’s a sucker born every minute.” – P.T. Barnum

Same as the Humbugs of the World can be said for the millions of worshippers that devote their life and money to Scientology – or for that matter the billions that actually believe God exists. The Master, brought to us by our reborn P.T. Paul Thomas Anderson, offers a compelling look of post WW2 America and the formation of a cult and it’s charismatic leader, Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), and a discharged navy seaman drifter, Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), who’s only vocation is taking portrait pictures, concocting a mean batch of hooch, and a compulsive need to fornicate with everything from dime store broads to sand crotch sculptures…but most of all to sustain his drinking habit and Freddie Freeloading ways.

What makes this movie so remarkable and mesmerizing is that Anderson, who clearly depicts Lancaster and all of his followers as a bunch of whackadoodles, actually has you identifying with Joaquin’s obviously disturbed character who runs away with this circus surrounding Lancaster. By shooting it from Joaquin’s point of view with several long takes (with or without dialogue) that are so beautifully constructed and impeccably shot and edited, it easily surpasses any of Anderson’s previous films. As for Joaquin, thankfully he’s still here affirming he’s one of the best actors of his generation. I mean, the scene when he’s in jail and totals a toilet alone will most likely win him the Oscar for best actor…that is if he doesn’t lose to Phillip Seymour for his off key rendition of On a Slow Boat to China (which is so truly bizzaro) while Amy Adams’ creepy performance lends a helping hand playing his wife and with his willie.

So what is Paul Thomas Anderson trying to say? Well, it feels epic in scope and subject matter, but in a nutshell it’s really just an intimate portrait of a friendship between two nonconformist men wandering around during an innocent Bible fearing, homo shunning, prosperous patriotic time in America – all the while hoodwinking the other lost souls and suckers preceding all other cults that will crop up in darker times to come…like those people who don’t poop for a month and drink cayenne pepper and lemon maple syrup. I prefer a shot of turpentine myself.


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ParAnnoyed

Focus Features and Laika were probably banking on the supposition that their movie campaign, “From the makers of Coraline” would attract legions of die hard fans…but I personally don’t know anybody who liked it and surely no kid knows the difference between stop motion and CGI. After Coraline fell short due to the confused demographics it catered to (given the dark horror genre it flirts with) ParaNorman reflects the same derangement by tritely reducing it to a boy hero with a sixth sense and a lame moral message – leaving adults duly unimpressed. That being me. My Dad always reminded me that kids cannot save the world, but back then we had The Mutant Ninja Turtles so it didn’t matter. It’s one thing to be belittled everyday in the office by corporate stiffs but it’s another to be told what to do by fucking Norman, an 11 year old puppet..

ParaNorman is a story set in small town Blithe Hollow, Massachusetts that still commends and glorifies it’s witch hunt execution from some 300 years ago with a statue of a witch in the town square. Kind of just like Salem.

Anyway, Norman can see dead people from the town’s past milling about but nobody believes him, not his family and especially not the other kids at school, where of course he is made fun of for being weird by all except one – a chubby kid rejected because he’s fucking fat? whom Norman befriends. But I soon felt a bit uncomfortable for the kids sitting next to me as Norman was constantly reminded that his Grandma was “dead, dead, DEAD, dead, DEAD.” While it’s not uncommon for death in kids movies – Bambi’s mom, Simba’s dad, Large Marge…I just can’t feature that sort of lack of subtly. But at least it’s better than this.

Sorry. Back to the movie – so Norman discovers that the Witch that was sent to the gallows was really just an innocent little girl ostracized like himself, who wants to come back from the dead and take her revenge against Blithe Hollow and curse it to ruins and destroy the people, kill the kids, hang the judges, crucify the cops, filibust the politicians, take hostage the hospitals, condemn the rich, capsize the poor, jumpstart the Mayan clock, disconnect TimeWarner Cable, eat the fishes, shit in the square, and rotate the tires…but guess who saves the fucking town? Fucking Norman by reading some gobbledygook in front of some stupid graves. Hells Bells!

It’s unfortunate that given the monster trend in which the stop motion medium began, with the current monster revival, that the film’s direction would turn so awry. (Harryhausen is prob turning over in his grave). I was especially disappointed to find out that after all of Chris Butler’s stop motion animation experience and 10 years dedication to this script – he and Laika had utilized as much CGI amidst the animation, thereby negating the purity of the medium which I truly love. I also found the overall setting in which this story takes place puzzling. Other than their cellphones it sure seemed like it was set in the 1980’s. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Laika is based in the sticks of Oregon, where not only do they still worship Steve Prefontaine but are also still stuck in an early 90’s time warp. Or maybe it’s just a case of arrested development? Personally I’d rather be cursed by a Were-Rabbit.

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Good Knight

The Dark Knight Rises has finally brought a shuttering conclusion to Nolan’s beloved Batman trilogy, and the legacy it will leave behind will overshadow and dissuade all new comers to revitalize the franchise as the bar has definitely been set not only for the cape crusader but also for every comic hero’s cinematic Hollywood blockbuster treatment. For what differentiates Christopher Nolan’s interpretation from the others in this genre is that it’s a reflection of our dark and disturbed times, hopes and fears, thereby elevating it to “art” and not just mindless disposable entertainment. I mean the cinematography alone is worth the price of a ticket.

Since the teaser trailers Batman fans all over the world have been chattering endlessly about the outcome and unveiling of the rival, Bane (Tom Hardy), and from which of the numerous graphic novels and lore the Nolan Brothers would derive from. Well I’m here to tell you I don’t know cause I’m no fucking Batman nerd but Tom Hardy gives a menacing performance with even more marbles in his mouth than Batman – and near impossible act to follow in Heath’s Joker.

Also with Bane we are introduced to the highly anticipated, and every boys’ wet dream, Catwoman. Now, I wouldn’t say I was disappointed when Anne Hathaway was first cast…I was fucking pissed! Almost as much as when they had to replace Katie Holmes with slouchy Maggie Gyllenhaal. But at least back then Katie was probably deeply devoted to Scientology and dressing fashionista Suri. Anyway, Hathaway didn’t exactly set the screen on fire straddling a bike in her black skintight suit, but with Bale’s acting chops there was a semblance of chemistry – though she seemed more into her roommate.

Marion Cotillard with her french peepers is seductive as always until she get’s behind the wheel…and Joseph Gordan Levitt’s mystery role is all what we suspected. But it’s really Christian Bale’s portrayal over the years – from Batman Begins to now – that makes this trilogy respectable and not even comparable to Tim Burton’s version (with 3 different actors playing Batman) which now in retrospect lacks any credibility because Batman is serious business to many of us and Gotham is a state of mind.

It was not as sad as the Toy Story trilogy end but comes a close second – and only because it concluded pretty much the way every other superhero movie ends (most recently The Avengers) where the hero not only saves the world from a ticking time bomb but then saves face by putting the costume aside opting for an auspicious beginning. Hopefully Christopher Nolan will do the same and won’t be tempted to make an Inception sequel.

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