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