Friday, April 27, 2007

Summer Movie Preview

May 1 is just around the corner, so here's a look at the upcoming blockbusters and/or massive money-losing failures. Can any film match Grindhouse for wall-to-wall violence? Can any film (in history) match Hot Fuzz for hilarity? Answers ahead! (Spoiler alert: no)

The Bourne Ultimatum
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 40%
Ok, here's the controversial one right off the bat. I really didn't care much for Bourne Supremacy. I thought it was really crappily directed by Paul Greengrass and shot in such a way that made the action scenes nearly unwatchable. I was disappointed to learn that Greengrass is directing this one as well --- damn you for being such an unlikeable douchebag, Doug Liman! Let's just hope things are a bit more streamlined this time around. Don't make another movie where I keep wishing Jack Bauer and Chloe will pop up to show Bourne and Julia Stiles how it's done.

The Brothers Solomon
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 75%
Did I cast this movie? Will Arnett, Jenna Fischer, Will Forte and half of the rest of the SNL cast? After all, movies from SNL-related people are always good. *crickets chirping*

Evan Almighty
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 70%
Bruce Almighty was one of the most head-scratching film experiences in recent years. I think I laughed just about once throughout the whole thing, since it never decided if it was going to being a comedy or a semi-mystical Groundhog Day-esque kind of movie. Fortunately, Steve Carell in the lead role means a far more straight-forward comedy, so I think this will be a big step up.

Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer
Chances I'll Enjoy It: An unfantastic 4%
So let me get this straight. The Hulk was a middling box office performer and a horrible movie. So they fired the talented director (Ang Lee) from the series, recast the lead and are now planning a sequel with entirely new talent. Fantastic Four was a middling box office performer and a horrible movie. But for this sequel, they're keeping the same hack director (Tim Story), and the same badly-cast-in-the-first-place actors. I'll be skipping this one. Activity time: check out the IMDB page for the guy who plays the Silver Surfer, Doug Jones. It's fascinating stuff. How does a guy get into that kind of acting career?

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 90%
One of the things I love most about the Potter movie series is the drafting of new directors for each installment. If Chris Columbus had kept mediocre-ing them up, I would've probably stopped watching. I'm interested to see what David Yates (a director I know literally nothing about and has very few films to his credit) can do with the material. He'll have to aim high to fill the shoes of Alfonso Cuaron and Mike Newell, but I'm presuming the producers wouldn't just hire some idiot to helm their franchise picture. After all, they turned down my application. I even offered to bring my own digicam to save budget money. Anyway, Imelda Staunton may well be a dark horse Oscar nominee as Dolores Umbridge, one of the all-time great villains in literary history.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 50%
Since Adam Sandler is the definition of a hit or miss comedian, 50 percent seems about right. There's actually a better chance that Kevin James will totally steal the whole film. Will it reach Deeds-ian proportions or make a Little Nicky-esque descent?

The Invasion
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 20%
Funny thing about Nicole Kidman. She may be the all-time leader in films where you say "Well, it was okay, but nothing special." She's been around forever, and yet I can only think of one of her films (Moulin Rouge) that I genuinely enjoyed and would recommend without qualifications. Also, the plot about a secret alien invasion sounds like the plot of literally all of those serial sci-fi dramas that popped up in 2005 in the wake of Lost's success and were promptly cancelled. In fact, I don't think I'll even see this movie. Why the hell am I wasting time on it?

Knocked Up
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 95%
This is almost guaranteed to be the funniest movie of the summer. Seth Rogen, Judd Apatow and Paul Rudd are the unsung heroes of the so-called 'frat pack' (the Ferrell-Vaughn-Wilson-Wilson-Black-Stiller axis), and plus it's got Katherine Heigl looking all hot. You really can't lose.

Live Free Or Die Hard
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 80%
John McClane and the I'm A Mac guy kicking ass? Sold. It'll be ridiculous, but there will be some good action. Will Bonnie Bedelia make a cameo? I'm curious to see if she's held up well over the years.

Lucky You
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 30%
Well, it's about poker, and Curtis Hanson is a good director, and I'm a fan of both Bana and Barrymore. The catch here is that it's a classic date movie, so I may not be able to see it. Sigh. When did this post turn into a Lavalife ad?

Mr. Bean's Holiday
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 25%
What year is this? Am I writing the summer preview for 1998, when this sequel would've been timely? What is Willem Dafoe doing as the villain? Is Rowan Atkinson hard up for cash? Questions abound.

Ocean's Thirteen
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 75%
I think I'm the only one interested in this movie. I don't care. There's nothing I love more than a heist movie. Not a con man movie (which is what Ocean's Twelve essentially was), since those are all totally predictable. But heist movies are usually great since it demands creativity from the writers. Ronin, Heat, The Lavender Hill Mob, Inside Man, Quick Change...the list goes on and on. The first Ocean's Eleven is one of the most rewatchable movies made in years. Plus, this one has Al Pacino, who is now a walking punchline thanks to the legendary 'Pacino checks his bank balance' skit on SNL.

Pirates of the Caribbean III
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 80%
Pirates II was a perfectly enjoyable action movie, and with only a year between viewings, I won't be as confused about the plot as I was last time around. When that British Navy guy showed up halfway through the last movie, I think it was intended to be a surprising moment, but I was just like, "Who? There were other characters in the big movie besides the big three, Geoffrey Rush and Jonathan Pryce?" By the way, has any anecdote about a performance been beaten into the ground as much as the one that Johnny Depp based Captain Jack on Keith Richards? Stanley Kubrick once questioned if we would appreciate the Mona Lisa as much if Leonardo had written 'The lady is smiling because she is hiding a secret from her lover' under the picture, since it would ground the painting's mystery in reality. I think the same is true of Depp. It turned a wonderful character into a guy doing an impression.

Chances I'll Enjoy It: 80%
What's not to love about a Brad Bird animated film? It's about a rat who wants to become a world-class chef, which brings to mind my brother's days working at Taco Bell.

Rush Hour III
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 10%
Oh my God, seriously? A third one of these? Come on. I'm sure Chan can still do some cool stunts, but let's take the bat away from the dead horse, people. Fun fact: Chris Tucker has not appeared in a movie since Rush Hour II. That came out six years ago! What the hell has he been doing all this time? Throat surgery to correct his voice's squeak?

Shoot 'Em Up
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 70%
Hopefully they spent longer on the script than they did coming up with a title. The big signature scene in this one is Clive Owen and Monica Bellucci having sex during a gunfight --- not with each other, presumably. If you're a professional assassin and you can't hit someone from such close range that you're actually copulating, you should probably look into another line of work. The film just went into a week-long reshoot, so....well, at least it'll be violent.

Shrek III
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 75%
If the category was "chances I'll enjoy it but vaguely feel that I could've waited for the DVD," the odds go up to 100 percent. Shrek II was cute, but I already felt like the premise had been a bit done to death in the original. Now it's just in blood from a stone country. I'm just amazed that Mike Myers turned his Scottish dad character from So I Married An Axe Murderer into a major animated film franchise.

The Simpsons Movie
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 95%
There's a chance the movie will end up going off the rails like many recent Simpsons episodes, but I find it hard to believe. There's been so much buildup to a Simpsons film over the years that Matt Groening and the writers wouldn't release one without it being awesome. The script is credited to a veritable all-star team of Simpsons writers past and present, with the one glaring exception being Ian Maxtone-Graham. That's like this book I just read by Chris "Mad Dog" Russo about his personal top ten lists in sports, and he had Mariano Rivera on his list of the top 10 baseball players of all time. Mariano goddamn Rivera. Ahead of like, Hank Aaron and Cy Young, among many others.

Spider-Man III
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 90%
This percentage may seem a bit low to those who know me, since I'm a huge Spider-Man fan and the second film is one of my all-time favourites. I just hope they're not trying to cram too much into what may prove to be the last film of the series, or at least the last with Raimi/Maguire/Dunst involved. You've got Sandman AND the new Green Goblin AND Spidey battling with the black suit AND (presumably) fighting the black suit as Venom. Not to mention the relationship subplots and everything else. I think it'll still be awesome and there is literally no chance I'll not see this on opening night, but there is a bit of trepidation.

Chances I'll Enjoy It: 90%
Judd Apatow is involved in the production, and it stars Michael Cera from Arrested Development. The trailer looks hilarious. I'd say this one looks to be SuperFunny! (Note: every joke in the film is funnier than that one)

Chances I'll Enjoy It: 5%
There was already a Transformers movie. It featured the voices of Orson Welles, Judd Nelson and Eric Idle. It was one of the great cinematic achievements in history. I'd think I'd rather see Michael Bay direct remakes of Citizen Kane, The Breakfast Club or Life Of Brian than to make a live-action Transformers movie. To paraphase the classic song, Bay don't "got the touch."

28 Weeks Later
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 60%
The original was very good, but the switch in directors and the fact that every zombie movie in history has led to terrible sequels isn't a good sign. The original was good because it was essentially a suspense film that happened to include zombies, whereas this one seems more like Resident Evil.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Two posts in the same day?

Oh, that's right! I've got a fevah!

Two links.... first, news of my personal stand-up record being broken by six hours and six minutes:

Second, a chilling cautionary tale of how a breakup can affect the lives of many. It's not quite 'stay together for the children' but still...
Things I Don't Get

* Laid

* How a bio of Jeffrey Jones could devote literally 10 seconds of a seven-minute segment to his arrest for child pornography in 2003 and subsequent registry as a sex offender. TVTropolis has a show called 'Whatever Happened To,' where recap the lives of a few TV stars from the 80's or 90's. A recent episode included Jones, who's one of those classic "Oh, that guy" actors but is best known as the principal in Ferris Bueller. The segment discussed his role in Bueller, how he appeared in several Tim Burton films, etc. and I was wondering 'Gee, this seems awfully fluffy for a guy busted for kiddie porn.' Turns out, it was. Here was the entirety of the mention: the voiceover said something like, "Things took a bad turn for Jeffrey in 2002 when he was arrested for possession of child pornography." It cuts to a talking head (one of those poor man's Michael Ian Black types who always appear on these types of shows) who says, and I quote, "He ran into a bit of trouble, but he's back working now. He was just on Deadwood, you know, that show where they say the F-word 60 times a minute." This was delivered in an oddly condescending tone, too, where to hear this guy talk, you'd think appearing on a foul-mouthed HBO show as worse than taking pictures of underage children.

This was outright bizarre. Why even feature Jones if you're going to gloss over the more newsworthy thing that happened in his otherwise unmemorable career as a public figure? This very same episode also had a segment on the guy who played Mr. Belding on Saved By The Bell, with the gist of it being he has barely worked in years due to being stereotyped in that role. I think a struggling acting career is a lesser sin than being a REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER.

In a future episode, "Whatever Happened To" looks at O.J. Simpson's life from his days as a football star to a film actor to ___________ to avid golfer.

* Why Jessica Biel is suddenly jailbait for older actors. In Illusionist, she was the romantic interest of Edward Norton, who is 13 years her senior. In Next, she's with Nick Cage, who is 18 years older. She's also the love interest for Adam Sandler in his new movie, and Sandler is 16 years older. Hell, even in Stealth, she was paired with Josh Lucas, who is 11 years older. It's not like Biel looks (or acts, but then again, she can't really act in general) older than she actually is, either. She's 24 and she looks 24. If I'm Biel, I'm shooting some upraised eyebrows towards my agent. Elizabethtown, Cellular and Summer Catch may have been shitty movies, but at least in those she was paired with guys within the American Pie II Rule Of Seven.

Also, Adam Sandler is older than Edward Norton? And only two years younger than Nicolas Cage? Jesus. That SNL cast really aged strangely. Sandler and Kevin Nealon look exactly the same. Mike Myers, Nora Dunn and Chris Rock look older, but still generally the same. Jan Hooks, David Spade, Dana Carvey and Victoria Jackson look a good decade older than they actually are. Phil Hartman and Chris Farley look like skeletons.

* How Joe Carter can hit a home run that wins the World Series with his team down in the bottom of the ninth....and some idiots at Fox rank it only the seventh most memorable baseball play ever. I know, arguing about the Best Damn Sports Show is an exercise in futility, but come on! Here's what ranked ahead of Carter's homer...

6. Hank Aaron's 715th career home run. A great historical moment, sure, but more of a career-long achievement than a singular play. Though it's funny that if they do another of these lists next year after Bonds breaks the record, this will probably still be ranked pretty highly while Bonds may not even make the list. Also further diluted by the fact that A-Rod may well break both records by 2016. And Adam Lind will then break that record by 2025.

5. Willie Mays' catch in the 54 Series. A helluva catch, sure. Some say that catch, even though it was in game one, saved the Series for the Giants. Gee, who else saved a World Series? Oh that's right, JOE CARTER, WHO HIT A GODDAMN WALKOFF HOME RUN. Also, not to diss Mayes, but do I see better catches on a near-nightly basis on Sportscentre? Yep.

4. Carlton Fisk's "go fair" homer in Game 6 of the 1975 Series. A great visual moment, with Fisk waving his arms. But Homer In Game 6 To Win Series > Homer in Game 6 To Extend Series That Was Then Lost

3. Bill Buckner's Error. Geez, the Sox finally won a Series. Let the poor man rest.

2. Kirk Gibson's homer off Eckersley in the 88 Series. This was pretty awesome given the context of the badly injured Gibson coming off the bench to pinch-hit, and it was his only at-bat of the Series. But still, Series-winner vs. Game One winner? You've got to look at context, folks.

1. Bobby Thompson's homer to clinch the 1951 pennant for the Giants. Would've been a good 40 slots lower if it weren't for the legendary radio call.

I can't help but feel there was some definite anti-Canada/small-market bias at play here. The only other Series-winning homer (Bill Mazeroski in 1960 against....the Yankees) was one slot behind Carter at #8. If Joe Carter had been a Yankee, this would've been a clear-cut #1. I base this on the fact that those three Yankee homers in Games 4 and 5 of the 2001 Series took up three separate slots on this list. Give me a break.

Some historical great plays that didn't make the list at all: Bill Wambsganss' unassisted triple play in the 1920 World Series......My unassisted triple play in eighth-grade softball.....Nolan Ryan headlock-punching Robin Ventura after Ventura charged the mound.....Randy Johnson accidentally killing a bird with a pitch.....Merkle's Boner ( Cobb, worst human being ever, jumping into the stands to attack a handicapped man.....Rance Mulliniks scoring the slowest inside-the-park homer in baseball history......Ken Keltner's two diving stops that ended Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak....Johnny Vander Meer's back-to-back no-hitters.....This minor league manager goes nuts

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


The title is more effective if you say it in the manner of the announcer in 'The Wizard,' i.e. SUPER MARIO BROTHERS............................................................................................................................................................(dramatic pause).............................................................................................................THREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEee

Ah, the Wizard. That will surely make a comeback when I make my list of the top Jenny Lewis movies. But anyway, onto the fun. None of these are in any particular order

Top Five Led Zeppelin songs
Hey Hey, What Can I Say
Battle of Evermore
Fool in the Rain
Gallows Pole

Top Five Who songs
The Real Me
Won't Get Fooled Again
My Wife

Top Five Rolling Stones songs
Midnight Rambler
Gimme Shelter
Tumbling Dice
It's Only Rock and Roll
Sympathy for the Devil

Top Five Radiohead songs
The National Anthem
High and Dry
Paranoid Android
Exit Music (For A Film)

Top Five Oasis songs
Don't Look Back In Anger
Live Forever
Rock and Roll Star

Top Five Elton John songs
Saturday Night's All Right For Fighting
Crocodile Rock
Don't Go Breaking My Heart
I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues
I Don't Want To Go On With You Like That

Top Five Johnny Cash songs (originals)
Flesh and Blood
Folsom Prison Blues
Delia's Gone
Big River

Top Five Johnny Cash songs (covers)
Rusty Cage
God's Gonna Cut You Down
I Hung My Head

Top Five Blur songs
Charmless Man
To The End
On Your Own

Top Five Tragically Hip songs
The Darkest Ones
So Hard Done By
Wheat Kings

Top Five Pulp songs
Common People
Bar Italia
Do You Remember the First Time?
Disco 2000

Top Five White Stripes songs
(on hold until Icky Thump comes out, since that album could throw things into disarray)

Top Eleven Bruce Springsteen songs
Thunder Road
Born to Run
Lost in the Flood
Stolen Car
Atlantic City
Bobby Jean
Dancing in the Dark
Tunnel of Love
My City of Ruins
Lion's Den

Top Ten Pearl Jam songs
Better Man
No Way
Life Wasted
Come Back
Hail Hail
Present Tense
Even Flow

Top Ten Beatles songs
When I'm Sixty-Four
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Here Comes the Sun
Back in the USSR
Cry Baby Cry
Here, There and Everywhere
You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
Lady Madonna
We Can Work It Out

Top Fifteen U2 songs
The Fly
Mysterious Ways
Angel of Harlem
With or Without You
A Celebration
All I Want Is You
In A Little While
Where the Streets Have No Name
Out of Control