Friday, May 30, 2008
- Finally! Kevin Smith has posted a teaser trailer for Zack and Miri Make A Porno, starring Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks. People are curious to see how the different comedic stylings of Smith and Rogen will mesh, but if the teaser is any indication, it will be worth watching several times. Check out the trailer at Quick Stop Entertainment.
- Going to see The Strangers tonight, because, well, it's either that or going to see that movie about three hookers and their mom.
- Don't forget about Paul's Brain Trust. You can click on the link to the right to find out more information and help out while you can.
- Sadly, this week we also said goodbye to Harvey Korman. Korman won 4 Emmys for his work on The Carol Burnett Show and is best remembered for his work with Mel Brooks in High Anxiety, History of the World and of course, Blazing Saddles. Hedy Lemarr (that's HedLEY!) has always been my favorite character in the movie and whenever my friend Jamie and I break into our Saddles routine, he plays Mel and I play Harvey.
Harvey Korman was 81. Meeting adjourned.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Paul Prischman is a DVD producer who has worked on the DVD releases for Spider Man 2, American Gangster, Kingdom of Heaven, Monster House, Gladiator: Extended Edition, Revenge: The Director's Cut and my personal favorite Blade Runner: Ultimate Collector's Edition.
Recently, Paul was diagnosed with Grade 4 brain cancer. The subsequent treatment is costly and efforts are being made to raise money for his wife and children in their time of need. Paul's Brain Trust has been established to take donations and raise money. One of their events coming up is a special screening of Blade Runner: The Final Cut with Sir Ridley Scott in attendance.
I will be attending this screening as a friend has already purchased tickets for the event. Yes, I am not above making such a noble sacrifice like going to see an amazing movie with a master director on one of the legendary Hollywood studio lots. I would go anyway, but if the money is going for a good cause then I'm all for it. If you click on the image on the right hand sidebar, it can take you right to the website. I love movies and my blog, but if we can all pool our resources and do something worth while with it, then I think that's a good thing. I actually like to do a lot of work myself with unwed mothers. *cough stripclub
Please check out the website and donate if you can. Times are tough all over, but I think most of us live a medical emergency away from financial trouble, so help if you can. This man is beloved by his peers, as evidenced by the outpouring of support and I'm sure everyone who reads this owns at least something that he has labored on.
Thanks for reading.
Originally posted on December 28, 2007. Reprinted with permission.
Films I Saw In General Release This Year - 2007
Across the Universe
Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Black Snake Moan
Blade Runner – The Final Cut
Blades of Glory
The Brave One
Gone Baby Gone
Harry Potter and the Order of the
I Am Legend
License to Wed
Lions for Lambs
Live Free or Die Hard
Music & Lyrics
No Country for Old Men
Shoot ‘Em Up
The Simpsons Movie
There Will Be Blood
Walk Hard – The Dewey Cox Story
There were plenty of good movies this year and man, I tried to see as many as I could. But I’m just going to try to tell you about as many as I can right now. Most of these are either available on DVD or still in theatres, I think maybe only a few are still in limbo. How should I break this down?
A few movie franchises came to an end, I think, this summer. Ocean’s, Bourne, Rocky and Die Hard, were amongst the series to reportedly come to an end this year. These movies were all great, especially Ocean’s and Bourne and even Die Hard was pretty good for being PG-13. Amongst the series NOT ending, include Harry Potter, Spider-Man, Pirates, Transformers, Ninja Turtles and Shrek. Didn’t see either Shrek or Pirates because I am a grown up. Of course, I dug Harry Potter (see review) and thought it was one of the best films in that series, and am completely looking forward to Yates making Half Blood Prince. I did see Transformers and am just going on record saying that I couldn’t get involved with a movie where robots kicked the shit out of robots and no main characters dying. However, I recently discussed with a friend that if Transformers 2 is a movie about the Lesbots versus the Vagicons, then I am totally there! “Oh man, that robot just knocked that other robot on its ass and it’s going down on it! This movie is awesome!” I remember Transformers when I was a kid and even then, I didn’t really dig them. But, I did love TMNT. I thought it really captured the Turtles as I remember them when I was a kid. And that fight between Raph and Leo in the rain on a rooftop it one of the best fight sequences all year.
There were some pretty terrific action movies this year and some pretty terrible one as well. I was really looking forward to Smokin’ Aces and was thoroughly disappointed in it. Piven was only in it for like ten minutes and then Alicia Keys and Common hook up for no other reason than they’re the only black people in the movie. Bourne kicked so much ass, as did Shoot ‘Em Up, but I probably Hot Fuzz would be my favorite of the year, for if Shaun of the Dead is truly a zombie comedy, then Hot Fuzz is an action movie first and a comedy second. And the only other movie to have a better final twenty minutes all year was Death Proof. Last to come down the line, but certainly not least was I Am Legend, which should have been called I Am Bitchin’ because not only was it a very serious film exploring important human and social issues, but may have established Will Smith as the finest actor of our generation. Ooh, if only we can get him in a Marty Scorsese movie!
FUNNY AS FUCK
Ok, hands down, funniest movie of the year, SuperBad. Nothing else even came close. Not even Hot Fuzz, the second funniest movie of the year. I loved Knocked Up, Bee Movie, and
There were just too many movies this year that are worthy of Oscar nominations and wins. Right now, the best movie of the year looks like No Country for Old Men. It was simply amazing. Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin were both brilliant and the film was gorgeous. Roger Deakins shot two beautiful pictures this year, the other being Assassination of Jesse James. Brad Pitt was great in that one, but the real performance came from Casey Affleck who tore in up in another awesome movie this year, Gone Baby Gone. The better performance in that picture was Ed Harris, who kicked so much ass, it was painful. And Ben Affleck showed that he might have some serious chops as a director. He would almost be a lock for a nod if he were not going up against a stellar roster which includes Ridley Scott, David Cronenberg, James Mangold, Robert Redford and even David Fincher. So, let’s go thru those movies quickly too. American Gangster was awesome (see review) and an almost certain nod for Denzel, probably Crowe too, but Brolin is the deserving one. Eastern Promises absolutely convinced me that Viggo Mortensen IS Russian and that Cronenberg has finally found a formula to make his movies digestible for mainstream audiences. to
I hated Across the Universe, driven mostly by my contempt for the Beatles. Ghost Rider was another awful movie, but really, really funny. I really didn’t like all but about a half hour of Death Proof, falling asleep whenever Kurt Russell was not on screen and no, the lap dance was not sexy. I wasn’t head over heels for Blades of Glory either, but Jenna Fischer and Will Arnett made it slightly watchable. I liked The Brave One but didn’t love it and felt the same way about The Simpsons Movie. Sorry gang, Family Guy forever, Simpsons never. Not going to beat up on Transformers or Smokin’ Aces anymore because neither one of them are worth it.
But Mike, you might ask, I get to see so few movies, what should I see? To which I reply, you should see whatever you want. I only write my reviews, blogs and critiques as general guidelines to help get the word out about some movies people might not have seen or even heard of in some cases. True, I write most of my reviews about bigger movies, but I always try to throw in nods and recommendations for others. There were many great films this year and I tried to see as many of them as possible. If you’re as passionate about movies as I am, you should make an effort to try to see at least one a week. Do what my friends and I do, and buy a ticket for a movie you really want to see, and after you watch it, sneak into a movie you were on the fence about. Then you can justify to yourself spending eight bucks on two movies in one night. If someone gives you shit, just tell them you’re still going to movies for the sake of art, you corporate Enron fuck!
On another note, I did get a chance to see Blade Runner on the big screen, something I simply did not get a chance to do when I was an infant. It was simply an amazing experience that I cannot even begin to describe, but one I would like to share with everyone. So, among my New Year’s resolution in looking into trying to revitalize the small locally owned and operated theatre. I want to be able to run a single screen with a hundred seats and show movies that have never played on a large screen in our lifetimes. Pretty cool, huh? Yea, we’ll see.
Top Five Films of the Year
1. No Country for Old Men
2. I Am Legend
4. Eastern Promises
5. Hot Fuzz
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Originally posted on November 5, 2007. Reprinted with permission.
Anybody who reads my blogs or know me personally, know that I have been extremely excited about seeing this movie. Denzel and Russell Crowe together again? I loved Virtuosity! So, I went with some of my smartest friends on opening night to catch it and we were not disappointed.
This movie is not perfect, only for the simple fact that nothing is perfect. But, it comes damn close. Although Ridley Scott is mostly known for making films like Blade Runner, Alien, Gladiator and Legend, he is also the man who made Thelma & Louise and Black Rain. American Gangster is a very straight forward movie and Ridley does not put forth so much effort into the visuals of the film, (although the movie looks great) but concentrates on telling the story of the two main characters and allowing the two main actors to take over the movie. Not to say that anybody could have directed, but only someone like Scott could realize the massive talents of his cast and allow them to become the main thrust of the picture.
The title of the movie tells you right off that it's a gangster movie, (although the teenagers sitting behind me thought the movie was about Denzel being a hot cop and Russell Crowe being hot too. Hot Cops! Taking over the town!) but it is also a cop movie. Set in
And in this regard, the movie achieves far more than any other cops and robbers flick ever has. For while certain cop movies try to hit you over the head with their message and self-righteousness, while too many gangster movies fall into senseless violence and anarchy (Scarface, I'm looking at you) without making you feel for the characters, American Gangster walks the fine line between being an engaging and exciting film based on a true story while at the same time, examining the larger issues behind drugs, war, business, government and justice. And honestly, I looked past the Vietnam War mirroring our current situation in
In the film, everything is about money. Frank wants to make it and Richie fights to do the right thing amidst the temptation of it. Frank is a businessman first and maximizes his profits on a superior product. Albeit, his product is a dangerous narcotic and the opinion of that is left to the individual viewer, but never forget that behind every great fortune is a great crime. Frank Lucas wanted the American dream, hence the proper placement of the word in the title. He tried to be the black Joe Kennedy and in surrounding himself with family, he tried to ensure they would be well off for generations, "white man rich, wealthy" as he explains to them. And even though big words like monopoly and trade infringement are thrown around, the fact remains that Frank makes his money by being shrewder than the competition and working on a smaller scale the same business model than the world was beginning to use (larger inventory, streamlining production and cutting out the middleman) and that Bumpy talks about in the beginning of the film. And while it might seem that the money issues only affect Frank, Richie has his own. And not just turning in a million dollars of dirty money, but in one scene he comments on how many people would be out of work if there were no more drugs on the streets. For me, it makes perfect sense because of my belief that the government is largely responsible for the influx of illegal narcotics into this country and that they are largely fighting to regulate the traffic, rather than eliminate it. Now, go back to the
OK, back to the movie and not the socio-political implications of it. Its great, with some really kick ass action sequences. And the supporting cast is fantastic. By far, Josh Brolin is amazing, stealing the show. I loved him in Grindhouse and cannot wait for No Country for Old Men. Chiwetel Ejiofor is an actor who is outstanding in everything he's in from Children of Men to Inside Man and other films without a male derivative in the title and he gets great play in this film and Frank's brother. And I was completely surprised to discover Cuba Gooding Jr. alive and acting and able to still do both pretty damn well as Nicky Barnes, a flashy gangster version of Rod Tidwell. Also, Joe Morton, the RZA, Kevin Corrigan and Ruby Dee are all great in their smaller roles.
American Gangster was well worth the wait and I loved every minute of it. A sure fire Oscar contender and an absolute DVD purchase when it comes out, I highly recommend everyone to go see it. After I spent about thirty minutes gushing over it, I was asked it if was better than The Departed, to which I replied, "Nothing is better than The Departed." But, it comes pretty close.
American Gangster, directed by Ridley Scott, starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe is available on DVD from Universal.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
What is it about the term or the idea of the MILF that is so arousing? It is the deeper Oedipal complex inside all of us or merely a flirtation with the forbidden and taboo? I don’t care, the MILF’s on my list are unbelievably hot.
Basically, the list came about after a long discussion with a friend about my number one. It quickly evolved into a ranking system and the explanation that the list needed to consist of women who had played roles as mothers, in films where the children figure into the story as importantly as they do.
5. Annette Benning as Carolyn Burnham in American Beauty
Not only should Mrs. Warren Beatty have won the Academy award for this role, but she looks absolutely stunning in the entire picture, outshines her younger teen counterparts and screams, “Fuck me, your Majesty!”
4. Lea Thompson as
True, she does not realize that she is a mother through most of the movie, or that she will be the mother or her crush. It gets slightly confusing, but the point is she is exuding sexuality at young Marty while he tries desperately to rebuff her advances. Way to go Marty, I don’t think anybody else could have resisted.
3. Sigourney Weaver as Janey Carver in The Ice Storm
I’m not sure if it’s the rocking 70’s hair styles, the cigarette smoking or the fact that I’ve had a crush on Sigourney Weaver since Ghostbusters, but when she toys with her son’s whip on the patio, I get a warm sensation on my back that needs to be scratched. Or whipped.
2. Rachel Weisz as Rachel in About A Boy
Rachel Weisz is gorgeous and really great as a single mother in this movie and always hot when speaking without her American accent. But she is at her hottest in a deleted scene when she shows up at Hugh Grant’s door and asks him, “What would you rather do? Watch Countdown or have sex with me?”
1. Ellen Burstyn as Lois Farrow in The Last Picture Show
Why do I love Ellen Burstyn so much? I’m not really sure, but her hurt expression on the couch waiting for a date that will not come and wearing sunglasses in the convertible before flipping everybody off remains the two images from that movie that stay in my mind. Yes, more than naked Cybil Shepard. I love the film, love Ellen and will watch anything she’s in. Congrats, Ms. Burstyn, you are the hottest MILF.
Monday, May 26, 2008
-Indiana Jones ends up earning the top spot with about $151 million dollars for its grand opening. I saw it twice this weekend and stand by my review. I did also catch Son of Rambow, which was a far more enjoyable film. Check it out if you get the chance.
- News from Cannes. Che was the only movie I really want to see and it won Best Actor for Benicio Del Toro. I hope this movie gets some kind of release here as so far, nobody has made an offer on it. Of course, it will be difficult to sell, not appeal to mainstream audiences, but fuck them, I have to sit my ass in a theatre for four hours and see this movie!
- Another item from last week that got me totally stoked. Apparently, Christian Bale has signed on as John Connor for THREE Terminator films, thus creating another franchise for himself. I love Bale and think he can do anything but to know he's going to be revitalizing a childhood favorite? Why don't you just tell me Cate Blanchett is going to make three new Alien movies?! Awesomeness.
- Sadly, I just heard that Sydney Pollack has passed away from cancer. He was a terrific actor, important producer and an Oscar winning director. He was 73.
Working on a few new things that I think should drop this week on this blog, in addition to reprinting some of the old stuff and of course, any important updates along the way. Thanks for reading!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Anybody who knows me knows that I love gangster movies. What you may not know, it that unlike Bill Murray movies, Star Wars, or cartoons, I came into them later in life. My parents were protective of me and like good parents, they actually monitored what I watched, so as a result, I was the only kid in my school that didn’t get to see Boyz N The Hood when it came out and in fact, I was not allowed to see it until I was 32. But, I fell in love with my favorite film (and my favorite director) Goodfellas when I was in high school. The Godfather, Once Upon A Time In America, Mean Streets, were all movies I saw in high school or later, as I rediscovered the great Warner classics like Public Enemy, White Heat and even last year, finally getting a copy of Howard Hawks’ Scarface on DVD. The only movie I did get to see when I was a kid, that has always been dear to my heart, was and is The Untouchables.
I watched it again last night in order to familiarize myself with it for this review and ten minutes in, I forgot I had a piece to write. The film is extremely well made, with engaging characters, fine acting, great writing and a sense of direction that moves the story along with suspense and excitement. The movie came out at a time that was dead for the genre after the financial flops of Godfather III and such films as Johnny Dangerously and Bugsy Malone. It revitalized the gangster movie and had audiences wanting more leading directly to the production of movies like my Goodfellas and Warren Beatty’s Bugsy. In addition, for being a commercially driven movie about a revisionist time in history, the almost “Wild Mid-West” era, it feels twenty years young and better than most of the movies that come out today. Coming after films that tended to glamorize the criminal lifestyle following the changing trend in gangster films after Bonnie & Clyde, it was important in re-establishing the ideas of cops and robbers in a historic context for a generation that had never seen the television series with Robert Stack.
For The Untouchables is, after all, a gangster movie about a cop. Told almost exclusively from the point of view of Eliot Ness and his team of Untouchables, one of the main themes of the film is the cop “becoming what he beheld.” I guess I am glad that I was allowed to see it when I was young, because the movie carries valuable moral lessons and asks tough questions of its audience. "What are you prepared to do? " "Never stop fighting until the fight is done." And of course, "I get NOWHERE unless the team wins". The heroes and villains are clearly defined in the movie and great pains are taken to put the audience on the side of Eliot and his team and to portray Al Capone as the charming cold-blooded criminal he actually was.
The best tool is the cast itself. Kevin Costner starred as Eliot Ness when he was mostly known for baseball movies like Bull Durham and Field of Dreams, but he had yet to break through with heavy roles in movies like JFK and Dances With Wolves. Although most people today think of him as a director and associate him with Waterworld, for a slightly older audience, Costner is a very skilled, very talented actor whose only weakness is the inability to work with an accent. (See Robin Hood-Prince of Thieves.) He plays
Now, I have gone on record as not being a fan of Brian DePalma, and believe I have used the phrase “whore to Hitchcock” in describing him, but this is one of his finest films and is the result of a director who had refined his technique, working at the top of his craft. The movies does have the two DePalma signature sequences, one being the voyeur point of view shot in Malone’s apartment and the second is the straight up rip off another director’s creation, specifically, Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin Odessa steps sequence. In all fairness though, for being a director who is know for being liberal with the term “homage”, this film is probably the most parodied of all his films and certainly of any gangster movie besides The Godfather. From the baseball bat speech to the liquor raids, the film has innumerable sequences which are instantly recognizable and have made the film a modern day classic and a new standard in the genre. Since DePalma is mostly regarded for his horror and thriller films, he uses those elements carefully here, with precise, even-handed violence and, in large part to Ennio Morricone’s score, creates a element of tension that keeps moving until the final five minutes of the film.
However, I would have to throw myself off a roof with
If you haven’t seen the movie in awhile, I implore you to watch it again. It’s such a great movie, with an easy to follow story, some humor and awesome action that it easily makes for what a friend of mine likes to call “rainy day movies.” And, if you check it out and enjoy it again, I ask for no monetary restitution, just that you check out another one of the highlighted films that you may not have seen before. Comment, post, agree, argue, debate, but above all else, watch more movies!
“Here endth the lesson.”
The Untouchables directed by Brian DePalma, starring Kevin Costner, Sean Connery and Robert DeNiro is available on DVD from Paramount Studios. Winner of one Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Sean Connery.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I just got back from seeing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and I feel… satisfied. I am satisfied in the knowledge that I was right. Crystal Skull was good. It was not great, but it was a good movie and I had fun. Also, because it was a showing and we were let in two hours before the movie started, some people brought beach balls and my friend Robert stabbed one with a four inch knife. Little did we both know it would be so foreshadowing.
I did not have high hopes for the movie and it did not let me down at all. The subplot of the artifact and the chase for it were far fetched and implausible, but the real story was the characters and their relationships. We get a lot of information in the beginning from what Indy was doing during the war to what happened to older characters. Instead of fighting Nazis in the Great War, now Indy is battling Commies in the Cold War. And to really believe it’s the Fifties, in the first twenty minutes we get Elvis, coupes and Shia LeBeouf, looking like Brando from The Wild One, as Mutt Ravenwood. A name as ridiculous to type as it is to say. The best part of the film, like Last Crusade, is the interaction between Indy and Mutt and the movie moves swiftly to give us the two of them adventuring together through
I enjoyed the movie for the all the nods to other Lucas/Spielberg movies, from the obvious Close Encounter nods to the not so obvious like Indy hiding in a refrigerator. There were the requisite Indy moments with snakes and fedoras. There were great
But, it was not without flaws. Besides the Spielberg Revisionist History 101 lesson, I was disheartened with some of the action sequences. Especially after Spielberg’s insistence they would shoot on film and do everything as practical as possible. As it turns out, not even the men behind Star Wars and
I enjoyed the movie, but it was certainly not the best of the franchise. While I was not so quickly deflated like a beach ball, I was bummed that I had waited almost twenty years for a movie that was not so awesome. Even with Phantom Menace, I knew Vader would grow up and fight Ewan McGregor. No such luck here, unless Shia becomes Sith Lord, Darth French Beef. If he is being primed to take over as the next Indy, then forgetting his other work and going off this film alone, I would look forward to watching it. He and Harrision are the best part of the film and if they make another one with the two of them on another adventure, I bet it will be better than this. Let me know what you think out there, as I’m sure we’ll all go see it this weekend.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is now playing everywhere. Like, everywhere. Find a theater, it’s there.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
While promoting the underrated 25th Hour, Edward Norton was quoted as saying he “…would play a walk on for Spike Lee.” And when asked which of Spike’s films his favorite was, his answer was He Got Game.
He Got Game was released in 1998 before Summer of Sam and after Get on the Bus, a period in between Malcolm X and Inside Man when Spike consistently directed quality movies that were largely ignored by audiences. He Got Game is the only film in that period to star Denzel Washington, but the real revelation in the film was Ray Allen as Jesus Shuttlesworth.
In his review, Roger Ebert called him “a rarity. An athlete who can act.” Ray Allen shines on the screen in many of the same ways he has for eleven seasons in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks, Seattle Sonics and now, the Boston Celtics. Under Lee’s direction, Allen uses pregnant pauses, minimalist dialogue and long looks in his first acting role. He is quiet and reserved. You can see the intensity in his eyes, yet he lets his game play and athletic prowess do the talking for him. And then he smiles. A big, wide smile that exudes a genuine love of the sport and explains away why the real Ray Allen spent over ten years toiling away for sub-par squads, playing his heart out and earning the hearts and respect of fans along the way.
Jesus Shuttlesworth plays ball the same way. In the movie, an ESPN piece about Jesus that features NBA players and NCAA coaches praising his virtues, could actually have been about Ray Allen. Future coach George Karl describes him as a player who “makes other players around him better.” Jesus is big and strong, but he is quick and smart. He’s the complete player, the total package, a prime time player, a diaper dandy. And, it is because the actor and character mirror each other so closely that Jesus Shuttlesworth has become iconic in the world of basketball. Never before in a sports movie have the two been equals. Did you know that the guy who played Jimmy Chitwood never played high school basketball? Jesus transcends the movie to become something of an idol that Ray Allen had to live up to. And he did as an eight-time All-Star and member of the gold medal winning Olympic team of 2000. Also in the same clip, the coaches talk about the character of the character of Jesus and the hardships he has endured, making him a better person and admirable young man they are falling over themselves to offer a full athletic scholarship to. Likewise, in his professional career, Allen has been awarded the NBA Sportsmanship award, been a spokesman for both the Jr. NBA program and the Thurgood Marshall scholarship fund, involved in numerous charities through his own Ray of Hope foundation and is held in general regard as an all around “decent human being”.
Sadly, Ray Allen has all but disappeared from the Celtic’s last playoff series against
When I was younger, athletes and actors were role models and people worthy of admiration and emulation. Unfortunately, more and more of those people these days are becoming caricatures of themselves and their professions. When life imitates art and art imitates life, it’s increasingly difficult to find characters on the screen like Jesus Shuttlesworth, when there are fewer athletes and actors to portray them like Ray Allen.
Save us, Jesus. Save us.
He Got Game is available on DVD from Walt Disney video.Update - Ray Allen scored nine points as Boston won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals and scored twenty five points in a Game 2 loss.
Monday, May 19, 2008
- Prince Caspian doesn't bring in $100 million or even a modest $70-80 million this weekend, managing only $66 million. Disney had hoped the Narnia movies would be their Harry Potter franchise, but I have heard that they are unsure about whether they will finish these movies. Despite the fact that production is moving on Dawn Treader, at this time, there are no plans for a fourth film. Will Caspian's performance have an impact on that decision? We'll find out.
- In more exciting news, Mary Elizabeth Winstead has been cast opposite Michael Cera in the Edgar Wright directed comic adaptation of Scott Pilgrim. Whew! Michael Cera, Edgar Wright, comics AND Winstead?! Grab the sleeping bags, because we're camping out for that bad boy. For those of you unfamiliar with Ms. Winstead from Grindhouse or Live Free and Die Hard, here she is.
- Kingdom of the Crystal Skull did not take quite the critic drubbing at Cannes that some people thought it might. More interesting though, is George Lucas' idea for another Indy movie, starring Shia "The Beef" with Harrison Ford coming back a la Sean Connery in Last Crusade. I'm holding off judgment on that until I see this new one. But I will say this. I do actually like the kid and think he can act. Check out A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints for further proof.
- Have you been following the Indy Blog-a-thon at Cerebral Mastication? There are some really great pieces getting thrown up over there. Read one of my favorites about Indy's lessons throughout the series here at Gateway Cinephiles. Damn, I was really looking for a J. Walter Weatherman joke there, but I lost it.
Friday, May 16, 2008
- If you liked the Indy blog, please, please, PLEASE check out Cerebral Mastication, a fellow blogger's site. He is hosting an Indy blog-a-thon and I was lucky enough to be on of her first submissions. Check out his site here at Cerebral Mastication and read some of the other Indy related blogs, it's all good stuff.
- A special thanks to Graham for giving me this heads up. Here's the box art for two titles I'm really looking forward to on DVD. No release date for Sarah Connor yet, but Spaced drops on July 22.
- Also. Encore has been running the terrible, terrible Death Proof for the past couple of weeks, but today they ran Grindhouse in it's entirety. I only mention that because I have a nostalgic melancholy feeling when I think I'll never be able to watch those movies as they were intended again. Is it as bad as watching black and white movies colorized? No, but I still die a little inside.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The Indiana Jones films are generally held among the top three greatest film franchises in history. While the movies never received the critical acclaim and Academy Awards like the Godfather films or the widespread cult following and expanded universe of the Star Wars series, Indiana Jones remains one of
I do not understand the universal dislike for this entry in the series. It seems that people who don’t like Temple of Doom are the same people who don’t like Last Crusade, so why would they bother sticking around for a fourth film when they have been let down over sixty percent of the time? Are they Star Trek fans? Perhaps my disgruntled contemporaries are looking at the films with a far too critical eye. Personally, I choose to think of the movies of my youth with fonder memories, remembering how they impacted me then and how they influence me now. In fact, as I write this, I purposefully failed to watch the movie again, relying solely on my memory.
I’m sure now, as I think back, that my main attraction to Temple of Doom was the character of Short Round. Johnathon Ke Quan was living out my dream on screen as a tiny brown kid, running around with Indy and providing the comic relief. His presence draws kids in by being the only kid in a movie aimed at kids, yet he is now widely held in contempt as some kind if predecessor to Jar Jar Binks. One of the most remarkable things about the movie is that it IS a kid’s movie, yet it never feels like one. For a movie that people call ‘too dark’, it has more comedy in it, I think, than Raiders. Speaking of dialogue, isn’t
I remember watching Temple of Doom at a family gathering once when I must have been around eight. It might have been the first time I saw the film because when the servants pulled the lids of the monkey skulls and the entire table began to dig into the brains, I cracked like a whip to the bathroom and threw up dinner. After brushing my teeth, I returned, undaunted, to finish watching the movie. It was the first time a movie ever made me vomit, but certainly not the last, thank you very much Patch Adams.
Playing devil’s advocate, I understand that while I may romanticize
The movies are amazingly interconnected of more levels than merely a timeline. The fact that characters rarely repeat is as significant as those who do. Karen Allen was the favorite Indy paramour and a no-brainer to return for the fourth film. However, her character in the first movie seems like an extension of Princess Leia and slightly out of place. The scenes between her and Indy are good, but they do not have the pop of the classic 1940’s film couples they were inspired by, like Bogart and Bacall. Kate Capshaw’s Willie character falls into the more established damsel in distress role with her sexual advances towards Indy, her singing career and her inability to ever save herself from peril. Their relationship has much more conflict to me, a very Moonlighting, love-hate, ‘let’s yell and slam doors when we really want to scream and tear each other apart’ dynamic. For me, the real love story in the movie is not even between Indy and Willie, but between Indy and Short Round. Foreshadowing the direction that the third movie would take, the father-son angle is obvious between the two, with Short Round idolizing Indy and Indy reluctant to embrace the father figure role, preferring Short Round as a partner and treating him like an equal. It pays off in Last Crusade when we learn of the relationship between Indy and his father, Henry and discover his father issues and most certainly will have repercussions in Crystal Skull with the reveal of his own son.
Before I seal this cavern up again, one question still perplexes me. Why does
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom will always hold a special place in my heart, alongside other sentimental classics from my formative childhood years, such as The Right Stuff, Beetlejuice and Full Metal Jacket. I can appreciate other people’s opinions and tastes. I only wish they could do the same and understand some people like movies with lava pits, elephants and car chases that occur on rails. Don’t trash a movie because it’s not as good as you remember or expected it to be. Especially when it’s something you used to cherish and hold dear. If everybody thought like that, there would still be fist fights breaking out over the new Star Wars movies. Ok, maybe just serious showing matches, but can we not let go of our anger, realize there are more movies for us to watch, worse movies for us to get upset about and that the lightsaber fights in I, II and III are WAY cooler? I implore you, dear readers. For as a wise Chinaman once said, “You listen to me, you live longer!”
Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom is available on DVD from Paramount. Don't be a schmuck, wait until Christmas and buy all four on Blu-Ray.