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Django’s Basterds


Django Unchained

Writer/Director/Actor Quentin Tarantino is so full of himself and his eclectic influences that it obviously translates itself into his movies – and Django Unchained is no different. Now I didn’t know much going into Django, other than that Jamie Foxx is a slave and kills white folks down south, so I expected no less then the previous juvenile and offensive Inglourious Basterds – which was at least more than my Mom, who thought it was about Django Reinhardt.

Django Unchained

I’ve hoped this revisionist/mashup kick that QT has been on for more than a  decade is just a passing phase, since the only thing keeping his shallow movies fresh is the ever expanding pool of actors who continue to give great performances and know exactly how to deliver his idiosyncratic script dialogue (better so than himself) – the only original facet left in his productions.

Django UnchainedAlso, I get that Quentin is being Leonesque with his epic movie lengths but this one drags even more so, perhaps since it’s his first film without editor Sally Menke. With the overkill  Peckinpah slow mo, not to mention almost all of Leo DiCaprio’s performance – which is drawn out over an hour tour of Candy Land – we still don’t even make it to the Peppermint Forest or Ice Cream Sea.

Django Unchained

I guess I hold Quentin to a higher standard after his first two movies in some ways defined a new generation of the writer/director, but it seems P.T. Anderson and The Coen Brothers are the only mainstream ones that are at least evolving and striving for some semblance of profundity and not just silly entertainment. Then again maybe it’s just a sign of the times, I mean next year we got Grown Ups 2.

Django Unchained

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The Expected Hobble


The Hobbit( The Muppet Movie 2012)

The obvious inherent problem with prequels, specifically one so well read, is that we already know the eventual outcome – thereby lacking any kind of suspense. Worse, is the expected and accepted m.o. nowadays to milk every saga, and force the public (nerds) once again to fork over their dollars. But what insults me most is that this time around we really just needed one movie, not another fucking trilogy! In this case even Tolkien said as much, that it’s a single novel. And that’s coming from the pioneer who revised and cashed in on his forthcoming trilogy. Maybe if they cut out the lame preface, Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, and Hugo Weaving cameos they wouldn’t have to make up for the budget with the price of two more movies.

The Hobbit

But let me just cut to the chase, my problem with Peter Jackson’s much anticipated, The Hobbit, is that it spends way too much time on dwarf character development – from them eating and singing, to shitting and group circle jerks, when really it’s just Bilbo and Gollum that I came to see.

The Hobbit

The Hobbit

So the fact that it took two hours to see only fifteen minutes of the two is a capitol crime. And now that the next two installments will no longer have Gollum in them I may just tune out. But…Fuck! I really like Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins! So I guess I just might have to endure more fucking closeups of Ian McKellen’s sad eyes and stupid all knowing grins, ugh!

The Hobbit

Speaking of all knowing, I thought I was paying to see this presented in the much ballyhooed IMAX HFR 3D 48fps, but to my chagrin I found out afterwards that it was only playing in another IMAX theater and that my vision was instead blurred by how long the movie was. Leaving me further pissed that I also missed the new 9 minute Star Trek Into the Darkness trailer which was only shown in that faux IMAX theater too. So maybe I don’t know shit after all.

The Hobbit

METER

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Bardem Mayhem

A few weeks before Skyfall was released I bought the complete James Bond series on Blu Ray, which is by far one of the coolest packaged box sets yet – sleek and slim, with handsome slipcases for each individual disc laid in chronological order corresponding with a picture of each movie’s associated Bond Girl. With a space cleverly left empty for this upcoming movie, I noticed that there was no accompanying picture alongside the slot which made me wonder…only to soon realize after seeing Skyfall that the Bond Girl this time around is not the usual sexy, no name actress, but the frumpy lame dame Judi Dench! Of course Bond didn’t shag her, but who would’ve guessed he had a mommy complex?

Then again, there was a lot of Bond’s character and childhood revealed, along with introductions to Miss. Moneypenny and Q, that set this movie apart from the majority of others – and in turn makes it uniquely better. Of course it helps to have top-notch director Sam Mendes, and an artist like Roger Deakins as the DP to shoot stunning silhouettes in Shanghai and combat scenes through ice, water, and fire – unlike the usual hacks that they hire.

While Daniel Craig stunts are impressive the most outlandish feat is how he runs so fast in those flat shoes – jumping atop from one train car to the next.

But it’s the cat and mouse game between Bond and the villainous and flirtatious Javier Bardem that is really impressive – combining his charm from Vicky Christina Barcelona with a hair cut that rivals his No Country for Old Men, with the worst bite since Jaws.

Though with the technology and foresight to hack, relocate, and destroy British Secret Service I was hoping to see a subterranean lair made up in Lex Luthor fashion too.

Other than the minor foible of a weak opening credit montage and a 143-minute running time that put 2nd place Nobel Peace Blogging Award winner James Franco to sleep, I was wide awake in this long days journey into night that fits the puzzle of the innocence lost like what Rosebud was for Kane as Skyfall is for Bond.

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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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