Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dr. Slumdog or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Blog Again

It has been a very trying week for me. On Monday, my wallet, cell phone and iPod were stolen out of my car. I went thru an abbreviated version of the steps of grief or coping or whatever you might call them. When I realized the iPod was gone, I was irritated. It's the second one that's been stolen from me, BOTH gifts from my mother. When I figured out that the wallet with ATM card, driver's license, forty dollars in cash and my cell phone with all my numbers in it were gone, I was enraged. And then when it dawned on me that all my pictures, videos and most importantly text messages from my sweetheart were now in the hands of someone else from whom I would not get them back, I became so depressed, I skipped work for two days. Then I began the process of getting my life back together, cell phone by debit card, one piece at a time.

Until I walked into Chase bank this morning. I went to go check on my claim because someone had taken four hundred dollars out of my account on Monday morning and the person over the phone assured me that I would have it back in a few days. However, after sitting and talking to a helpful young man at the branch, he called the claims department and put me on the phone with them. They explained to me they would not be crediting my account and listed a few frivolous reasons as to why they wouldn't. After some back and forth in which they explained they would not be able to help me any further and that they would not re-open my claim, I hug up the phone, calmly closed my account and walked across the street to Bank of America.

What does this have to do with movies? I'm getting there.

Let's switch topics again for a brief moment and get it out in the open. Terrorism is bad. We can all agree on that, I'm certainly not disputing it, but I want to say it, so everyone knows I'm on board when I say that I really don't concern myself with it. I don't know if it's living on the West Coast or having spent time in the Middle East, but let's table that for now and say I have a far more personal and valid reason for having an unfair prejudice against Middle Easterners. For as long as there is a heavily accented customer service rep NOT servicing me as a customer, I will hold these prejudices. For every slumdog that yells at me because he can't fix my computer, tells me I am eligible for a great new rate on my wireless plan or tells me that checking the ATM camera installed at their branch is "not what they do," I'll lump them in with the terrorists. And some of my very best friends, close friends are Filipino and that's close enough.

So, as I was driving home, cursing said slumdog, it occurred to me that if that awful movie's lasting legacy is a racial epithet against the very people the film exploited, then maybe there is some justice in the world. Or as they would call it 'karma.' Is this an outwardly racist post? I don't think so. Does it necessarily have to do with movies? Kinda. But, if it does tell you how movies play a part in forming my world views and shaping my personality, then I think that's a pretty good blog. And maybe I should start doing more of them like this.

Unfortunately, I was the one covered in the proverbial shit.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Better Not Bring Your Kids!

I had the day off from work and rather than go out to the movies, I stayed inside. After reorganizing three stacks of DVDs about three feet high each, I still couldn't pick one, so I threw in season two of Chappelle's Show, intending to watch it until my cousin called me. He texted me back hours later, but by that time, I was already too deep into the DVD to even care.

If you haven't never seen the show, you're missing out on one of the funniest shows of the past decade. Controversial, groundbreaking and genius were some of the adjectives used to describe the show at it's height and it holds up well even today. With the dearth of quality sketch comedy on television, Dave delivered strong quality episodes every week. His commitment to excellence drove him hard enough to walk away from the show after the season, but it remains an amazing testament to his talent and vision. Here are some of my favorite highlights from the second season.

Samuel L. Jackson Beer - I can't watch ANY Samuel L. Jackson movie without thinking to myself, "mmm-mmm bitch!" Especially when sitting in a quiet theater during a Sam Jackson trailer.

Law & Order - This is where the line between jokes and social relevance start to thin to the point of disappearance. From the 'jury of your peers' to Tron's pleading the 'Fif', this sketch is a comedy of absurdity, turning everyday well known conventions of then head and making a mockery of the government's pursuit of justice.

Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories - There was talk and rumors of Dave actually doing a Rick James biopic in the style of these sketches. If only they had come to fruition, we would've had the funniest musical biopic ever.

Making the Band - Trust me, the sketch is far more compelling than anything the actual show ever produced.

KneeHigh Park - I would probably let my kids watch KneeHigh Park. Lots of good lessons there.

Wayne Brady - There may never be a better skewering of a celebrity's public image than Wayne Brady's Training Day-inspired sketch. And if you get the DVD, watch the special features to see Wayne positively squirm at the thought of delivering his now infamous catch phrase.

Black Bush - Possibly the best political sketch of all time.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Coppin' Out (Of Creating A Clever Post Title)

I have always been a fan of Kevin Smith's movies, his scripts, his regular cast and his Askewniverse in general. I like it when he challenges himself with a film outside of his comfort zone, such as Dogma or Jersey Girl, so I was really looking forward to Cop Out. In his first large scale studio movie, he gets to direct one of the biggest stars in film in his comfort zone of playing a cop. And the teaming of Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan may have soured some people, but it pays off.

Those expecting Die Hard 5 or even Beverly Hills Cop 4 will be disappointed, but anyone who wants to see a comedy about two cops trying to recover one's stolen baseball card and test the fidelity of the other's wife will be hard pressed to find a pair of actors do it better. From the opening scene of Tracy trying to interrogate a suspect by quoting movies from The Color Purple and Schindler's List, the style of Smith's comedy is apparent, but clearly retrained as a result of working with a large budget and limited creative control. But, Willis and Morgan play well off of each other, and even better off of Adam Brody and Kevin Pollak as rival detectives. And my personal distaste for all things of The O.C. aside, I really want to see the movie where Adam Brody and Kevin Pollak star as a team of detectives. Although there are a lot of good supporting actors, including Rashida Jones, Seann William Scott and Jason Lee, they feel underdeveloped and are really just a way to steer us back to Willis and Morgan. By the end, it does become a bit predictable, but that doesn't take away from enjoying to movie up to that point.

And really, who wants a twist ending anymore? People see a movie like Cop Out and whine that's it predictable, then see a movie like Shutter Island and either lie their ass off saying they saw it a mile away or are at least gracious enough to admit their ignorance and complain that the movie didn't make any sense. And moviegoers of this generation, more than any prior, should be embarrassed by the spoils of riches the movie gods have blessed us with! We see more movies in one summer than used to be released in a whole year and you can watch almost any movie, any time you want! If you can find a cheaper way to kill two hours, be my guest.

Sorry about that but back to the movie. My two favorite bits in the entire movie were Willis' character saying he'd never seen Die Hard and Tracy Morgan doing his Cary Grant impression.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Godfather of All Podcasts

On the third episode of Big Mike's Movie Podcast, my friend Andrea and I talk about arguably the greatest film of all time, The Godfather. What more is there to say about the movie or the podcast, except listen to it now!

Monday, March 8, 2010

My Oscar Mission Statement

Last night, while watching The Hurt Locker win Best Picture for the 82nd Academy Awards, my excitement was subdued my the reminder that it’s not the destination, but the journey. And it was a long winding road last night to get The Hurt Locker into the winner’s circle. Lots of people have lobbed criticisms at the Academy for the show and the nominees, the voting/selection/viewing process and the eventual winners. While the Academy does have a host of concerns (pun intended), I am here to help with my guidelines for producing a better Oscar show.

We start at the top, with the host. If you’ve listened to my podcast (and you should), then you already know that my choice for host is Robert Downey Jr. Except for Baldwin, can you think of a host whose career and public image has been as low and as high as his? All the obligatory jokes at the audience members would work better because people have a genuine affinity for the man. Everyone in the town loves Downey and people at home love Iron Man.

On that note, he and Tina Fey were the best presenters of the night. Not just because I harbor crushes on both of them, but they engaged in the kind of witty banter that presenters can get away with. More importantly, they represent two types of stars that should present, A-list movie stars and respected industry stars.

No more Disney channels stars (no matter how long Disney owns ABC), no more children or siblings of celebrities, no reality stars and nobody who hasn’t worked in an Academy Award nominated film. Period. It is not that hard to find recognizable actors to give away the biggest prize in the world not named after Alfred Nobel. Presenters for next year will include, but not be limited to – Nicole Kidman, James Caan, Cate Blanchett, James Gandolfini, Anne Hathaway and Bruce Willis.

Furthermore, in continue to embrace the tradition of Oscar, the lifetime achievement awards will be brought back. If you can include a five-minute montage to horror films that inexplicably includes Twilight and excludes Shaun of the Dead, then you can good and goddamn well give five minutes to Lauren Bacall. Oh, and the In Memoriam montage should not exclude ANYBODY! Sure, Farrah Fawcett and Bea Arthur might have been TV stars, but they were in movies as well and when are they going to get another chance to be seen on that stage again?

Speaking of montage, and visual presentation in general, the YouTube mash ups for the best supporting nominations are ridiculous. I remember when you used to watch a movie and there was one scene that made you sit back and say, “There’s the Oscar clip.” It’s cliché for a reason and it needs to return. One clip per nomination. While I quite like the actor-to-actor testimonials for the leading nominations, you must make room somewhere and cutting clips for cinematography is not the place to do it. Removing the song performances could work, but not when you give the Jabbawockees (not even sure I’m using that reference correctly) some cardboard and let them dance through five score nominees. That is counterproductive.

Along with that, some awards can and should be awarded in tandem. Documentaries, long and short, animated, long and short, sound editing/mixing, costume and make-up, even screenplays or effects and art direction can be lumped together for the sake of the average viewer. Picture, director, acting, cinematography and editing should stand alone. Again, this will make more time for other things, including acceptance speeches and the same three commercials I saw all night long.

I know I will take some heat for this, but I must say it anyways. Though I have my own issues with the films of John Hughes, he is without a doubt an important American filmmaker. That being said, he probably does not warrant a fifteen-minute tribute in the middle of the show. Because unless I missed the same tribute last year for Ingmar Bergman, these types of tributes should be consistent or non-existent. The Gene Siskel tribute a few years ago was very effective. But, if Kevin Smith dropped dead tomorrow, I would still not round up Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Shannon Doherty and Liv Tyler to talk about how he changed the way we looked at the world through his unique vision. I believe it is safe to say that even without last night’s presentation, we won’t forget about John Hughes.

There should be more surprises. Sure, all of us in the blogosphere were surprised at the upsets in the screenplay categories, but that was about it. The lead up to Oscar season takes away from the suspense of Oscar night and though we may be part of the problem by handicapping the races and picking upsets, it is on the Academy to continue to shake things up in both the nominating and selection processes.

The ten Best Picture nominations was a good idea and it did work. As long as we continue to have five director nominations, there will always be five frontrunners for BP, so including five other nominees will only help will mainstream audiences, to highlight movies they haven’t seen and include those they have. You can show love for An Education, while showing love for The Blind Side, but we all know that neither of them is going to win. Picking The Hurt Locker was the right choice. People who think Avatar should have won because it made a lot of money and looked awesome are wrong. Oscar occasionally gets things right and they got it right this year. Which means…

The Academy Awards are awarded to recognize excellence in filmmaking. Not in making popular movies or pretty movies. It’s not about making movies with a message or movies that make stars out of unknowns. Embrace the traditions of Oscar and forget about ratings. It’s on TV anyways, who watches that? More actors, less stars, more films, less movies and more awards winners, less box office winners. Let us get back to what the Oscars really represent and if certain people cannot get on board with that, then leave them at the fucking station.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Big Mike's Movie Podcast Episode 2 -Oscar Wrap-Up

Thanks to all of you for listening to the first episode of Big Mike's Movie Podcast and for all of your positive feedback. It's been a lot of fun working on the first two and I will be recording the third episode this weekend and am planning future episodes as well. I'm really interested in getting as many different guests as I can, so if you are interested in coming on the show, feel free to contact me and we can talk topics and schedules.

In this follow up episode, Graham and I finish up the Oscar predictions, joke around about a bunch of stupid Oscar-y things and I drop the bomb on him with my awesome pick for next year's Oscar host. I'm calling it right now, so look alive people. Who did I name? You'll just have to listen!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Up In The Air

This review is part of the ongoing feature The LAMB Devours the Oscars. Read all of the articles on every Oscar category and all ten Best Picture nominations.

Rarely can a film be both timely and timeless, contemporary and classic, heart warming and
heart wrenching, heavy, humorous, that combines comedy and drama, scope and introspection, romantic, yet real.

Up In The Air is such a film.

George Clooney turns in what may be the best performance of his career as Ryan Bingham, career transition counselor. His job title is pure euphemism as Bingham is a hired gun brought in from the outside by companies forced to do mass layoffs. Bingham's matter of fact attitude about his work belies his entire outlook on life. He forsakes his sparsely furnished apartment in the Midwest to spend most of his life on the road, on the job and, of course, up in the air. He moonlights as a motivational speaker, sharing his philosophies with like minded business types, truly believing in every word of his speeches, imploring them to leave unnecessary attachments by the wayside. He streamlines his personal life as effectively as his daily routine, cutting back on baggage, personal or otherwise, and finds comfort in airport lounges, business suites and the exclusivity of frequent flier miles. But, his comfort zone is threatened when a young ingenue, Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), is hired on by his company to take the business into the future. Her plan to cut costs and fire people face to face over a computer monitor will ground Bingham permanently and he finds himself taking her on the road with him as they attempt to learn about each other's methods and prove themselves more effective. They learn from each other, share their personal ambitions, like Ryan's goal of ten million frequent flier miles and form a bond that is the emotional core of the movie. Along the way, Bingham finds a like spirit in the form of Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) who shares his lifestyle, life experiences and through their similarities, Bingham begins to look more at himself. He solicits her counsel when Natalie is heartbroken, he takes Alex to his sister's wedding and when he gets the call that he doesn't need to travel anymore, he wants her to be part of his new life.

Based on the novel of the same name by Walter Kirn, writer/director Jason Reitman pushed through the flashes of brilliance he displayed in Thank You For Smoking and Juno, by crafting a story that is much more subdued and serious, but without sacrificing the warmth and humor that is his family hallmark. He skillfully moves the action around the main force of Clooney while constantly keeping the story heading forward to it's ambiguous conclusion. The performances from the three leads are impressive enough to garner them all Oscar nominations, as feat accomplished by such films as The Philadelphia Story, The Graduate and Raging Bull. The supporting cast is peppered with familiar face Jason Bateman, J.K. Simmons, Zach Galifinakis and Danny McBride as well as using real people recently laid off from their jobs at the time of filming. That human touch, that sense of connection the audience feels to the characters, the world they live in and how closely it resembles our own, guided by Reitman and embodied by Clooney is what helps make Up In The Air the best picture of the year.

It's Here, Big Mike's Movie Podcast!

Yes, I have taken the plunge and recorded a podcast! I am still working out kinks, figuring out scheduling, content and guests, so please give it a listen and I am soliciting as much feedback as possible, so tell me what you think!

In the first episode, my best friend, Graham Greenlee and I discuss the everything Oscar this year. We talked for so long that we actually had to break it up into two episodes, then because I'm dumb, I lost the second part and forced us to re-record. It's been a labor of love for me so far, but I'm really pleased with what we have. But, we really analyze the Oscars and dissect the nominees as well as we can, giving you our picks for the awards show on March 7. You can download your official Oscar ballot to make your picks and check out the sites we mention which include Awards Daily and The Film Experience, both excellent sites.

You can find my podcast at on podOmatic at Big Mike's Movie Podcast and it will be available on iTunes soon as well. Of course, if you're on Facebook, you can follow Big Mike's Movie Blog on Networked Blogs and there are plenty of ways on the sidebar to the right for you to subscribe and share my blog.

So, to sum up, looking for feedback, content and guests and above all else, enjoy!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Who's More All-American than John Krasinski?

Rumors have circulated on the interwebs that the upcoming Captain America movie is narrowing the search for it's star. One of the names that has risen above the fray and is causing the most chatter is that of John Krasinski, star of The Office.

Let's look at this logically for a moment and put aside our heated devotions to both a recently deceased superhero who made his name fifty years ago and to pseudo-documentary sitcoms as well. John Krasinski is a great choice for Marvel to place a new franchise upon. Fanboys will say that he's not a big enough star, he's not tough enough or they won't be able to 'buy him' as Steve Rogers. Face the facts, not only do most people not even know Captain America's real name, Brad Pitt cannot play everyone and Cool World was a loooong time ago. Krasinski, on the other hand, is a younger actor, on the rise in both television and film and will bring an established fan base to the movie that might not otherwise see it. I am, of course referring to the tween audience who idolize Jim Halpert and have helped to make such schlock as New Moon open as big as The Dark Knight. Financially, it's a smart move for Marvel. Get him on the cheap and watch him blow up in the summer of 2011. Furthermore, Krasinski is recognizable without being a huge star. This is key for a very important factor. Fanboys, pay attention - if you want to see an Avengers movie anytime soon, Krasinski needs to play Captain America. The studio already has it's huge movie star to lead the franchise, and now they need someone to play off of him.

The casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man was not without some skepticism as well and I think we all know how that turned out. But let me tell you about another man. He was an actor, mostly known for his comedic roles and not though of as an action star. He was cast as one of this country's most iconic characters amongst outrage and disbelief from fans worldwide. He ended up becoming, in many people's mind, the definitive version of the World's Greatest Detective. That man was Michael Keaton.

Fortune favors the bold and bold casting makes for interesting movies. Love them or hate them, you had to like either Eric Bana or Ed Norton as the Hulk. Was Christopher Reeve an action star? When you cast those actors in these roles, you get Dolph Lundgren as the Punisher, Sylvester Stallone as Judge Dredd, and basically every single one of the Fantastic Four. John Krasinski as Captain America makes as much sense to me as Ryan Reynolds as the Green Lantern, Eva Mendes as Selina Kyle (my personal casting choice) or Heath Ledger as the Joker. Cast an actor who can bring something different to the character and watch them make magic.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

No Leaving Shutter Island

In the film Shutter Island, the characters are trapped on a small island in the Boston harbor that is home to a 'mental institution... for the criminally insane'. A monstrous storm pounds the island making it impossible for anyone to leave. But, director Martin Scorsese has crafted the film in such a way, that audiences will find it difficult to leave Shutter Island themselves.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays US Marshal Teddy Daniels, investigating a disappearance on the island with his new partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo). They are offered little to no assistance from the institution's administrator (Ben Kingsely) or doctors (Max von Sydow) and Teddy is tormented with migraines and images of his murdered wife (Michelle Williams). To go anymore further into the plot is to give away clues in a mystery that includes so many subtle nuances that, the ending aside, the film almost demands multiple viewings. Suffice to say that the movie taps directly into the era of the 1950's with it's Cold War paranoia, flashbacks of World War II and just being a simpler time when people still trust in the decency of mankind.

Like in The Departed and The Aviator, DiCaprio's performance carries the film. The character of Teddy Daniels is determined, troubled, clever, suspicious and human all at the same time. He has his own reasons to investigate Shutter Island and his own demons to exorcise. By becoming emotionally compromised, he becomes an unreliable narrator, but it is through his eyes that we view this story. Which makes it all the more compelling because as you identify with Teddy, you want him to be right about everything that is wrong. You want him to break from protocol, avenge his wife's death and unravel the vast conspiracy that evades the innermost secrets of the island. It's a strangely exciting ride, for how dark and macabre the film becomes, but it's a testament to both actor and director that you can care so much for a deeply disturbed and violent man.

The supporting cast in in excellent form as well, including the aforementioned actors, as well as Patricia Clarkson, Jackie Earle Haley and Elias Koteas. While most of them only appear for a single scene, they make the most of their time on the screen, in captivating shots lensed by Robert Richardson. Additionally, the flashbacks of Teddy liberating Dachau in World War II only make me salivate at the thought of a Martin Scorsese war movie.

Of course, no review of a Scorsese film would be accurate without mentioning the director. Shutter Island becomes a loving homage to films of the period, from the horror movies of Val Lewton and Jacques Tourner to the suspenseful psychological thrillers of Hitchcock. Replete with references and nods to these films and more, Scorsese gets the most from DiCaprio by utilizing his movie star power to not only mine the richer payoff of DiCaprio the actor, but by bringing to a larger audience his special craft at filmmaking, his respect and affection for cinema history and his knack for keeping it all so very entertaining.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Arrested Wednesdays #10

Well, I still haven't heard anything on that audition I wrote about last week (which you can read directly below this post.), which makes me think that maybe I should have done some more research first.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Arrested Wednesdays #9

Ok, so I have this phone interview tomorrow for a great opportunity with my restaurant's corporate headquarters for a chance to be in the new training videos they are producing. By time you're reading this, it will all be over but the judging. Basically, I have to answer a few questions, read a few pieces written for the video and just in general, blow their socks off. If you saw my little dog and pony show that I posted a few weeks ago, then you will have an idea of what I am talking about. I was talking to a friend of mine last night and saying how nervous I was about it. I don't usually get nervous, so when I do, it's even MORE nerve-wracking because it's such an odd sensation. I was reassured, re-inspired and generally talked down of the ledge. I went for a run and something occurred to me.

What the hell does this have to do with Arrested Wednesdays?

Well, as long as my interview doesn't go as badly as Tobias' in this following clip, I think I'll be in pretty good shape.

Thanks again, Arrested Development, for getting me through those tough times in life.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The End is Nigh

As if things weren't generally bad enough in the world right now, this season's movies didn't do too much to lift my spirits. Aside from a financial crisis that is two years old with no end in sight, a ever increasing presence of global warming (especially this past week in California) and the end of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, the dearth of exciting movies (not including Sherlock Holmes, BUT totally including Avatar) has been almost too much to bear. But, a duo of dreary, washed out films about the end of humanity left me with very different feelings and those movies were The Road and Book of Eli.

The Road stars Viggo Mortensen as the father of a young boy, wandering through a world in which some unexplained event has wiped out most of humanity. His wife, played by Charlize Theron, is unable to cope with the agony of knowing the fragility of her humanity decides to leave her family behind. Viggo travels with his son south, towards the coast, towards nothing in particular, but a hope for someplace warmer and safe from the roaming cannibal raiders that haunt the scarred landscape. Viggo struggles to protect his son and teach him to take care of himself until he is older and strong enough to protect himself.

Armed with nothing more than a down jacket and two bullets in a revolver that looks like it might fall apart after one shot, Viggo (his character has no name) tries to hide his fears from
his young son and attempts unsuccessfully to convey a convincing portrait of strength and courage. But, as the film progresses, and his health deteriorates, he becomes more manic and less of a loving father than a overbearing, overprotective father. His son takes on the traits of the nurturer and caregiver, not only caring for his father, but helping out a few of the lonely souls they meet along the way. By the end of the film, Viggo can only hope that he has taught him son well enough and the final scene leaves the audience with the belief that he has and actually provides a rather bittersweet ending.

The Road conveys a strong enough sense of plausibility that you can believe that this might actually be what the end of civilization will look like. I walked out of the movie thinking about what really mattered in life and what would be important to me if everything was lost. Who would I save? Who would I want to spend my final days with? However, in Book of Eli, the movie fails to bring across any of the emotion or levity of The Road.

Book of Eli begins with Denzel Washington as Eli, wandering through a world in which some great war has wiped out most of humanity. He hunts, scavenges and kills cannibalistic raiders in a search for fresh water and a charge for his iPod. When he happens upon a small town, it comes to light that he carries a book that self appointed mayor Carnegie (Gary Oldman) is desperate to get his hands on and Eli is steadfast in his refusal to give it up to him. The hunt begins again as Carnegie and his men chase Eli and Solara (Mila Kunis) across the sun drenched landscape of New Mexico. In the end, while Carnegie manages to get his hands on the book, a telegraphed twist renders the book useless to him and allows Eli the comfort of knowing he has completed his quest.

The film is paced poorly, uses unnecessary camera tricks to highlight otherwise pedestrian action sequences that carry no real weight and is chock full of odd cameos (Tom Waits? Michael Gambon? Malcolm McDowell as Einstein?) that pulled me out of the film, although I know the audience I was with had no idea who they were. If you make it all the way to the end and are at least mildly amused by the Zatoichi allusion, then you will probably appreciate Book of Eli for what it is. But, I got distracted by all the religious themes being thrown around and while I understand what was intended, I felt that a little more or a little less would have helped to serve the film better than the awkward medium it found itself in. And honestly, by the very end, I wished that I had just sat through Book of Mila, which looks like a far more interesting post-apocalyptic revenge action movie than the film I has just watched.

Friday, January 22, 2010

It's Official, I am Kreativ

I like the internet blog memes that get created and passed from blogger to blogger. I think it's a great way to interact with others in the blogging community and anything that increases visibility and attracts readers is a good thing. The only bad thing is being at the tail end where it becomes difficult to pass it along to someone, as they have already gotten it themselves. So, while I am grateful to be recognized by my peers, the hard part becomes finding other peers to recognize.

I was nominated for a Kreativ Blogger award by my friend Tom Clift of Plus Trailers. When one is nominated, they must perform certain tasks, which I shall attempt to complete now.

1. Thank the person who nominated you.

Thank you Tom. You are a gentleman and a scholar and I tip my hat to your ever gracious reception of any ethnic Australian jokes made at your expense. Well done, sir.

2. Copy the logo and paste it in your blog.

Done and done.

3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.

I think we're getting slightly redundant here, but here's a link to Plus Trailers.

4. Name seven things about you that people might find interesting.

This task in and of itself is interesting because of the way it's worded. Not the part about what other people may find interesting, but the part about NAMING seven things. I follow instructions to the letter, so here goes.

- my military record

- my preferences in women

- my devotion to the Red Sox

- my taste in film, television, humor and again, women

- my workout regimen (running outdoors to film scores)

- my various celebrity meetings, run-ins and photo ops

- my future, with women

5. Nominate seven other bloggers.

Seven is REALLY pushing it and I know I'm not even really going to even get away with eighty percent of these five.

- The Mad Hatter at The Dark of the Matinee, even though he roots for the Jays, he's ok in my book.

- Dylan Fields at Blog Cabins, who has helped me along more than he probably knows, but he's one of those guys who makes me want to blog better.

- Nick Jobe at Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob, because even if he hasn't seen a lot of classic films, you shouldn't hold that against him.

- Travis McCollum at The Movie Encyclopedia, because I admire his dogged determination.

- Finally, I got to give props to my boy Phil at Phil's Movie Blog. Write more Phil and join the LAMB!

6. Post links to the blogs you nominated.


7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs you nominated.

I think I might skate out on this last one.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

LAMB in the Director's Chair

A regular feature on The LAMB is LAMB in the Director's Chair and this time around, it is perennial Oscar contender Clint Eastwood. But, what would I write about, I asked myself. Should I finally review Invictus, one of my top ten films of the year? Would I write about his acting swan song Gran Torino? His spaghetti westerns, cop dramas or either of his movies with a monkey? In the end, I'm from the school of 'write what you know' so I chose the Eastwood film I've seen more than any other, the movie that introduced me to Clint Eastwood as a kid and the film around which my Eastwood impression is largely based. That film is Heartbreak Ridge.

As Gunnery Sergeant Tom Highway, Eastwood portrays basically the Marine Corps version of himself; ornery, tough and bitingly sarcastic. Charged with turning a unmotivated and poorly trained platoon of Recon Marines into "life takers and heart breakers," there's also a B-plot about his personal life and his impending mandatory retirement, but really the movie is just an excuse to get him to insult his Marines and eventually take them into Grenada. Though the movie is riddled with inaccuracies, it is beloved by Marines, young and old, those who recognize themselves and their friend in the characters as well as those who become nostalgic for 'the old Corps.'

Firstly, the most glaring and obvious error to any Marine is the location of the film. Highway's unit is part of Eighth Marines, Second Marine Division. I was assigned to Third Battlion Eighth Marines, Second Marine Division, stationed in North Carolina. Heartbreak Ridge is very clearly filmed on location in location at Camp Pendleton, California (where I was in fact born) and even had the support of the Marine Corps. They later withdrew support upon seeing the film because of the language. The dialogue rings true for Marines, as almost everyone has known either an old timer like Eastwood's Highway (I don't know how many times I heard the 'few good ain't it' joke when I was in), inept Lieutenant Ring or frustratingly idiotic Major Power. The film has even been cited as one of the great recruiting films for the Marine Corps. Recruits took comfort in the fact that if they had someone like Gunny Highway leading them into combat, they would make it home to a warm reception. As for myself, I always considered Tom Berenger's appearance in Born on the Fourth of July as my inspiration for enlisting but that's another blog. Historically, Heartbreak Ridge did actually exist in Korea, which was a major victory for the Army, explained in a toss away line from Sergeant Major Choozoo the he and Highway joined the Corps later. And while the Marines did invade Grenada, it was an Army Ranger unit that took the University Medical School.

Lima Company, recognize.

But, the movie is directed by Eastwood and shines on his star power alone. You actually believe him when he tells everyone that he's "drunk more beer, pissed more blood, banged more quiff and busted more ass than all of you numbnuts put together." His colorful language, trademark voice and cadence and subdued acting style made Heartbreak Ridge one of his signature roles in a long and distinguished career. And if you ever meet him in real life, and I have, find the courage that I couldn't and call him a "big leatherneck jarhead mother fucker."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Arrested Wednesdays #8

So, I was really try to find any clip from episode 9 of season 3, "S.O.B.s" which stood for 'Save Our Bluths.' In this episode, the family throws a charity dinner for itself to raise money for the company. In order to draw a crowd, they try to get a star to appear at the dinner and can only get Andy Richter's identical quintuplet brother, Emmet. Basically, I was trying to show some support for Team Conan in this whole ongoing mess, so instead, here's a clip of a nervous Buster. It kind of makes me think of all those NBC executives right now.

On a more personal note, since this is a post about television, rather than film and since it's my blog, so I get to say whatever the hell I want, I do want to re-emphasize my support of Conan O'Brien and
The Tonight Show. I remember exactly where I was when I watched the his very first episode earlier this year. I was spending the evening with someone very special and as we watched, I felt like I was looking into my future and was positively blissful at the thought of spending many more evenings on the couch with her and Conan. And though some time has passed and things don't seem as solid as they once were, (with Conan or that lady friend) I believe that good things are coming to those who are pure of intention and quick of tongue.

And Conan wrote the Monorail episode!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Famous Mike!

Though it is technically a film, (not a very good one) I just wanted to share a video I made for work with you, dear readers. Especially those of you who have never had the good fortune to meet Big Mike, now you can see what a dork I truly am.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Another Epsiode of the LAMBcast

Last week, my fellow LAMBs and I sat down and recorded another episode of the LAMBcast. I played host for the week and kept egging everyone on with question upon question and then looking for answers for everyone else. It turned into a marathon recording session and nobody seemed to want to give up on it, so we went all Tarantino on it and cut it into two episodes. In Ep. IX (which you can listen to here), we wax about Avatar and surprisingly, nobody really seemed to be in love with it. We play another round of Last Man Standing and turn in about 20 minutes of Trailer Talk, because let's face it, it's a new year and we've got a slew of new movies coming down the pike.

Coming soon, you will hear Ep. X which, in a bit good luck, we talk ad nauseam about our top ten flicks for the year. But, more about that later.

Thanks to everyone who listens or subscribes on iTunes to the LAMBcast. Unfortunately, I have been told that the hosting site will be going down in February, so we're either looking for a new home or possibly looking for corporate sponsorship, Fight Club-style. Regardless, I'm sure it will all get figured out and we'll keeping bringing you the LAMBcast as long as you keep listening to it.

And, an extra special thanks to me fellow LAMBs for not making me look like a complete idiot as host, Dylan of Blog Cabins, Tom of Plus Trailers, Nick of R2D2 and Travis of The Movie Encyclopedia.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Movies I've Seen In 2009

(500) Days of Summer
Angels & Demons
Away We Go
Bride Wars
The Cove
District 9
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Funny People
G.I. Joe - Rise of Cobra
The Goods - Live Hard, Sell Hard
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
The Hangover
He's Just Not That Into You
The Hurt Locker
I Love You, Man
Inglourious Basterds
The Invention of Lying
Jennifer's Body
The Men Who Stare At Goats
Observe and Report
Paul Blart: Mall Cop
Pirate Radio
Public Enemies
The Road
Sherlock Holmes
The Soloist
Star Trek
State of Play
Terminator Salvation
This Is It
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
Up In The Air
Where The Wild Things Are
X-Men Origins: Wolverine