Monday, April 18, 2011

Win Win

Win Win

When I was in middle school I was on the wrestling team.  Why?  I don't know.  I was pretty terrible and stuck at the 160 weight class while only weighing about 145.  I won a few matches here and there including a third place finish in the city championships in 7th grade but I was not really built for it.  My brother was good until he grew too much and wasn't strong enough to compete in his weight class.  I think that's why he quit, maybe he quit because the coach was an asshole.  That's a distinct possibility too.  I tell you this only so you know that I know a tiny bit about actual wrestling.  A real smidge.  But I know enough to tell you when wrestling on television or in a movie is dreadfully inaccurate which is almost always.  A list of movies with decent scenes of wrestling is really small.  I can barely think of any.  The scene in Rushmore is actually fairly accurate.  Oh, isn't there a scene of wrestling in Born on the 4th of July?  I feel like I've seen Tom Cruise straining under the force of another man, being pinned down by a bigger stronger opponent, breathing heavily, red in the face, yearning for some sort of release.  Or was that in some other kind of movie?  Anyway, the pinnacle of wrestling in movies has always been Vision Quest starring Matthew Modine.  I'll always have a soft spot for this movie, I've even read the book it's based on, but there is a new greatest wrestling (I'm not counting pro wrestling obviously, in that case the best wrestling movie of all time is No Holds Barred) movie and it's called Win Win.
Paul Giamatti plays a struggling attorney and high school wrestling coach named Mike Flaherty who can't seem to win at either one.  His practice is falling apart and his team is terrible.  Luckily, he married way out of his league.  Amy Ryan plays his wife, Jackie, who stays at home with the kids.  One of his last, precious few, clients is an older man suffering from the early stages of dementia named Leo, played by Burt Young.  In an effort to basically steal 1500 dollars a month from him, Mike decides to become his legal guardian.  He's is supposed to leave the old dude in his house as per his wishes but he sticks him in an old folks home so he doesn't have to bother with him.  Unfortunately, Burt Young's estranged daughter's son, Kyle, shows up at his now vacant house looking to stay with him which really puts Mike in a bind.
The kid that plays Kyle in the movie delivers a pretty strong performance.  The part is really written very well.  I don't think he strings more than two or three sentences together even in his big scenes.  Which, if you've ever spoken to an average 16 year old kid is pretty much what you get.  A lot of sullen single word respones and a lot of mumbles.  He doesn't talk like he's 25 expressing feelings he might have but would have no idea how to articulate.  I really appreciated that bit of screenwriting.
Mike and Jackie let the kid stay in their basement and enroll him in school after finding out that his mom is in a drug rehab facility.  Eventually Mike finds out that, as a freshman, the kid got second place in the Ohio State Championships.  So the kid starts wrestling for him.
The wrestling scenes are very accurate and fun to watch.  There is an especially great scene where Kyle has convinced one of the worst wrestlers on the team that he's ready for a match.  He isn't but it's fun to watch him try.  I've defintely seen some terrible matches just like that one.
Bobby Cannavale and Jeffery Tambor play Mike's assistant coaches.  Tambor is hilarious as Coach Vig.  Nobody can act as brilliantly put upon as Jeffery Tambor.  I think he has an amazing tour de force performance in  him.  He is sort of overshadowed by Bobby Cannavale in this movie though.  Cannavale plays Mike's longtime friend, Terry.  Cannavale is one of those actors who always cracks me up.  He hasn't failed yet.  Sometimes he is in some pretty crappy indie stuff but he always makes me laugh.  He is in top form in Win Win.
The movie gets complicated when Kyle's mom shows up and wants to take both Kyle and Leo back to Ohio.  She's an inept mother and a money grubbing daughter who nobody wants to be around.  This is the main conflict in the movie.  It's handled believably and honestly.  I won't tell you how it ends because for most of the movie it could go either way.
Every performance in this movie is pitch perfect.  It pretty much revolves around Paul Giamatti's excellent turn as Mike.  Amy Ryan is very good too.  Their relationship seems very real, it's not perfect but you get the feeling that they really love each other and are used to making things work.  Sometimes I think Giamatti gets extra acting credit for being ugly and out of shape.  But that's not really true.  He really is one of our best actors.  This is also the third gem in a row for Tom McCarthy whom you may know from the 5th season of the Wire.  He's previous two directorial efforts were The Station Agent and The Visitor both of which I really loved.  Go see Win Win even if you aren't into wrestling.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

News Flash! Nicholas Cage Arrested.

Nicolas Cage was arrested the other day in New Orleans.  He was there filming a movie.  It seems as though he got shit faced drunk and had a pretty heated argument with his wife about which house it was they were renting.  The police were called when the argument intensified.  Apparently Cage was insistent that the house they were renting was the one they were arguing in front of, which it was not.   What isn't mentioned in any of the stories and what I'm kind of dying to know is, how wrong was he about the house.  I mean, if it's a couple of doors down and all the houses look the same in that neighborhood, I could maybe see not being quite sure which one you've been staying in.  Especially if you got fucking hammered the way you can get fucking hammered in the 'Nola.  I get the feeling though that he was in the wrong neighborhood in the wrong part of town.  I'm also pretty positive that his wife knew exactly what house they were renting.
So by the time the police show up, Nicolas Cage has been witnessed attempting to drag his wife to a waiting cab by the arm.  She wouldn't get in and the cab driver wouldn't leave.  Apparently Cage just sat there in the cab then while everyone else just waited until the cops showed up.  He was then arrested for domestic abuse and disturbing the peace.  I guess he was also running around punching cars.  I bet it was the classic Cage freak out that's been missing from the last few Cage movies.  I also wonder if some wiseacre cop tried to slip this image in as his mugshot down at Central Booking:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Netflix Dare: Sinners

SINNERS wants to be two things at once, the television show MIAMI VICE and the movie GOODFELLAS. The opening credits feature a wah-drenched guitar wanking over a calypso drum machine beat playing over shots of Miami beaches complete with boats and bikini-clad women. Then we are treated not to a voiceover, but a talking head doing his best imitation of Ray Liotta. This is intercut with gratuitous shots of men jumping away from explosions while firing guns. At the end of this, ahem, homage to Scorcese the talking head poses a question. "Sinners. Who the fuck ain't one?" Well, I'm happy to report that SINNERS does succeed in being two things at once. A steaming pile of garbage and a rancid vat of mule scat.

I think the movie is called SINNERS because all the actors in it look like porn stars trying to make a stab at a non-pornographic movie. The movie itself makes about as much sense as the in-between scenes in a porno. SINNERS is about fourteen different characters. Sinners, if you will. After about forty minutes, keen viewers will be able to extract two main characters from the jumble. Rizzo, a shlub mafioso type, is the talking head featured right after the opening credits. His longtime friend is a Rambo-type living a life of seclusion complete with tai chi and spear fishing in a tropical paradise.

It's an incomprehensible mess. The plot is so thin that it is constantly padded with non sequitur scenes of guys getting shot or a pair of tits. The sound is so bad that the characters are either impossible to hear or that the voices are totally fuzzed out from overdriving the microphone. And remember when I told you that SINNERS wants to be two movies at once? I lied. It wants to be at least forty-nine movies. I have compiled a short list of the many, many directions in which the movie tries to go. Give SINNERS a play and see if I'm not right--if you have the stomach.

19 minute mark: "At The Water's Edge" sounds suspiciously like "Under The Sea" from THE LITTLE MERMAID. Enough redundant footage of a boat to make even Robin Leach queasy.

20 minute mark: TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE . . . note the synth punching up the "scare."

21 minute mark: Wallowing in a dim room alone with a voiceover talking about mental instability is more than a little reminiscent of APOCALYPSE NOW.

24 minute mark: THE BLUE LAGOON

29 minute mark: Camera in trunk shot from Quentin Tarantino's . . . well, take your pick.

32 minute mark: The romcom of your choice.

33 minute mark: THE RED SHOE DIARIES.

33 and a half minute mark: LAST TANGO IN PARIS.

Is it just me or does the the Lilith Fair sounding song at the 34 minute mark say "apply your lip action?" Great lyrics from this tender ballad.

36 minute mark: Perhaps the actor playing Rizzo isn't as bad as I thought. He can do a piss-poor Ray Liotta and a piss-poor Joe Pesci. A nice bit of dialogue here: "Hey, did you forget who you're talking to? This is the Rizzo. The Rizz, baby."

36 minute mark: WAYNE'S WORLD. I didn't know the line "and monkeys may fly out of my butt" would work in any other movie.

47 minute mark: Shot of character running shamelessly ripped off from FORREST GUMP.

50 minute mark: Sleazy nightclub scene complete with cage dancers taken from perhaps the greatest bad movie of all time, ONE MAN FORCE. Only this time it looks like the club is set up in some dude's basement.

1 hour 9 minute mark: RESERVOIR DOGS style Mexican standoff.

1 hour 23 minutes: Assassination of clergyman a little reminiscent of THE GODFATHER PART 3. And this movie sucks almost as hard as THE GODFATHER PART 3.

Fortunately for me, SINNERS was bad enough to be at least somewhat entertaining. I would even say that it's so bad it's good, though most of the enjoyable parts take place in the first half. The last half an hour got to feel a little bit like slow torture, but it could have been worse. I could have been dared to watch JACK again.

Netflix Dare: Nightmare Alley

 Nightmare Alley

Let me tell you something about this movie, I wish that a horse would kick me in the nuts so I could say, "Shit, that wasn't so bad."  This movie is unparalleled in its ineptitude.  Seriously, there's bad movies and then there's the movies that bad movies get together to watch and laugh at.  This is one of those movies.
The movie begins with me wanting to immediately turn it off and do some yard work or something.   Or it starts with a couple of assholes talking about something indecipherable.  I think they are talking about some sort of concert they went to but also it sounds like they are making fun of people that are exactly like themselves.  Then a bum gives them a comic book and stabs one of them.  And we're off!
This "movie" is seven short "films."  Trust me when I tell you that each one is legitimately harder to watch than the one that preceded it.  Trust me when I tell you that watching this whole movie will make you want to kill yourself.
Do you want me to describe one of the films?  There's no way I could possibly do most of them remote justice.  There's one where a woman is sunbathing near a pool and a great big fat guy lumbers up next to her and sits on the adjacent chaise lounge.  When I say great big fat guy, I'm talking Refrigerator Perry fat.  After he retired.  Anyway, he finds a convenient bottle of baby oil and, no questions asked, applies some to the woman's leg.  Instead of screaming and running away, she turns to him and says, "Oh, you're cute, why don't you come up to my place," or some dumb shit like that.  
Right here I want to stop and let everyone know that this movie is full of fat people.  I'm not a skinny dude at all but even I felt comfortable calling most of these people fat.  There's seven little films and every single one of them has a portly component.  Also, there are a ton of ill fitting jean shorts in this movie.  A ton.  Nobody's jean shorts are even close to what you'd call ill fitting.  That implies some level of fit.  There isn't a pair of jean shorts in this movie that had any business being on anyone's body whatsoever.  I hope the commentary track on the dvd has some interviews with the costume designer because I'd love to hear what they were thinking.
So this fat guy, who is wearing the most ridiculous of all the shorts (and no shirt), follows the woman up to her apartment   She pours them a couple of beers in some sort of novelty glasses but is rudely interrupted by her husband who is fat but not as fat as the original fat guy whom we've by now been introduced to as, I'm not making this shit up I swear, Luigi Orosco.  Say that name out loud, to yourself.  Was the very next thought you had, "That's the stupidest name I've ever been asked to believe is an actual name?"  I thought so.  So the woman's husband yells at her and she hits him on the head with some sort of frying pan.  Then she calls up Luigi and invites him back over for dinner.  She then serves Luigi her husband's head and one of his hands on a platter.  That's it, that's the end of the story.  It only lasts about five minutes which is the best thing about it.  
Between every little vignette some asshole shows up and says something you don't understand or makes references that don't make any sense.  He looks like this:
There is some sort of rubber prosthetic mask covering his face which makes it hard for him to move his mouth.  I'm pretty sure he was just opening and closing his mouth randomly which probably made it impossible to synch up the dubbed voice.  They could have at least tried though.  He is an obvious rip off of the Crypt Keeper of Tales from the Crypt fame and this movie is pretty much an attempt at some sort of Creepshow knock off.  I don't think I've ever seen a movie fail on so many different levels simultaneously.  Bad dialogue, bad plot, bad acting, bad cinematography, bad lighting, bad costumes, bad music, bad title sequences (normally not worth mentioning but they were terrible, laugh inducing even) make for one of the most arduous film viewing experiences of my life.  Good work, Silencio, but lets see if you make it through your dare.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Your Highness

Your Highness

What a piece of shit.  Not even a piece, it's not even good enough to be a fully formed piece, it's diarrhea.  Every single actor in this movie deserves to be taken down a peg by some sort of low level service person.  Every nice thing I may have ever said about James Franco I now take back.  127 hours sucked.  I'll take a shitty movie from Natalie Portman, I guess, but Zooey Deschanel is digging a pretty big hole with this one.  Danny McBride wears out his welcome with me in this movie.  Completely wears it out.  I don't want anything from him ever again.  I won't be seeing anything with him attached in any way.  This movie is that putrid.  I hold him responsible on multiple levels since he both wrote and starred in it.  It seems like he and Franco are both playing retarded people.  Seriously, I think Franco and McBride are both playing someone with mental retardation.  My big question with the movie though is what's with all the gay jokes?  It's like 80 percent of the jokes.  In the 80's you might have had a movie with a couple of random gay jokes but this is like they found a movie to mask a whole bunch of really unfunny homophobia jokes.
That leaves me with David Gordon Green.  I guess it probably is fun to do movies with your friends.  I mean, I bet these guys had a ball filming this thing.  But Green made one of my all time favorite movies, George Washington, and a couple of decent follow ups before he saddled us with this garbage pile and the equally unfunny Pineapple Express.  What the hell is he doing?  The only reason I didn't walk out of this movie is that I was feeling a little depressed and this felt like a suitable penance for everything I had one wrong in my life.  It wasn't, it was too much.



I'm going to come out and say it, I loved Hanna.  It's an art house thriller!  It's the best of both worlds!  Normally movies trying to straddle this line flop because they're too slow, removing the thrill.  Hanna is far from slow, even when the camera stands still your finds movement in the carefully wrought settings. It is, in my favorite shitty critic parlance, a non stop thrill ride.
Saoirse Ronan is great again, I've never seen her falter, though I haven't seen The Lovely Bones.  I totally bought her as the genetically engineered teenager out fighting skin heads and army men.  But I also bought her as the sort of Kaspar Hauser feral girl who knows multiple languages but can't turn off a television.  This movie does not work with out her.
The supporting cast is great as well.Olivia Williams and Jason Flemyng are subtle and skilled in their small roles as the parents of a family that befriends Hanna while traveling in Morocco.  Olivia Williams is especially good here.  She's just a role or two away from an Oscar nomination I think.  My favorite though was Cate Blanchett's top henchman played by Tom Hollander.  He goes with sort of a femme tennis pro for the role which I thought was fucking hilarious.  He has two idiot neo-Nazis as under henchmen who aren't that good at anything which is actually probably a more accurate depiction of henching.
Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett are both decent as the second and third leads.  Honestly I think they are overshadowed by the strong supporting performances.  Eric Bana is pretty interchangeable these days, I don't see all that much in his acting to separate him from a lot of actors but he isn't bad.  Blanchett is solid as usual as the villain.  She plays some sort of high ranking CIA operative, though I'm pretty sure the CIA is never explicitly mentioned, who exhibits both obsessive compulsions and a shoe fetish.  Both of which are ultimately her downfall.
The plot is fairly simplistic and not worth discussing at length.  There were a few holes in the movie but they weren't continuity holes so it didn't bother me that much.  Saoirse Ronan's and Joe Wright, they made Atonement together, are a great combination.  A lot of people are comparing this movie to Run, Lola, Run but I think this is better.  I haven't watched Run, Lola, Run since it came out and I bet I watch this one pretty regularly.  It's got that repeat viewing feel.  It's also infinitely better looking than Run, Lola, Run.  The scenes in Finland and Morocco are mesmerizing.  Go see Hanna, it's one of my favorites of the year so far.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ten Books I Wish Had Movies

These are books that I think could make great movies.  They aren't necessarily my favorite books.  I don't think most of my favorite books would make very good movies (The Movie Goer?).  These are books that moved me visually or that were told in a simple enough manner that, cinematically, they could be added to in a way that improved the story.  And a couple of them would just make fucking kick ass movies.  Here are ten books that I think would make great movies:

The Terror by Dan Simmons is both a fucking monster book and a fucking a monster book.  It's set against the backdrop of two British ships attempting to find the Northwest Passage.  It is ostensibly a horror novel that would have been just as scary without the monster.  I've never felt so cold while reading a book.  Great pacing, despite its size, and great characters allow the Terror to transcend the genre in ways even The Passage by Justin Cronin could not.  This movie would be perfect for someone like Guillermo Del Toro or Joe Wright to direct.

Apparently, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is in some sort of state of development.  It isn't listed on but I found a couple of other hints that a script was in the works.  Obviously there are many chances to fail in undertaking this large, intricate book.  It could be the greatest fantasy movie ever made.  Or it could be instantly forgotten.  So much would depend on the director's savvy in creating the world in which this book takes place.  I think it could be done.  I would love to see Anthony Hopkins chew the shit out of the role of Mr. Norrell.  Just chew it up and spit it the fuck out, Anthony.  Do it!   C'mon Hopkins!

Black Hole is the only graphic novel that I've ever read and really loved.  It's a pretty heart breaking bildungsroman.    I think this could be a live action movie.  I would want them to use make up and animatronics though, no CGI bullshit.  But it could also go animation, kind of the way they did Persepolis.  Charles Burns is partly responsible for Dog Boy from Liquid Television after all.

Have you ever read this book?  No?  Go pick up a copy and give yourself twenty minutes, you'll breeze right through it.  Abel's Island is the story of an Edwardian (I'm guessing) dandy mouse who is separated from his loving wife by a terrible flood.  He is left to his own, rather limited, devices on a small island in the middle of a raging (for someone mouse sized, that is) river.  It is legitimately harrowing for little Abel.  It is one of the most remarkable books I've ever read, I mean I'm just crazy about it.  I feel like it deserves the Fantastic Mr. Fox treatment.  In fact, I sincerely wish Wes Anderson had done this movie instead though I really love FMF.

This is a book that Lauren turned me on to late last year.  I'm not a huge SF guy but lately I've been venturing deeper into the genre.  This book is pure genius.  It's something I wish I could've read when I was much younger and still shaping the way I think about the world.  Visually this could be a most stunning movie.  The planet, called Winter, that the story takes place on is a geological wonder and the complicated gender of the Gethians could create interesting roles for both male and female actors.

I Look Divine is a book that I read on accident.  I thought I was picking up a Jonathan Coe novel that I had never seen before.  When I got home and noticed my mistake I decided to read it anyway and proceeded to do so in one evening.  I thought it was, quite simply, amazing.  Unfortunately it's pretty much a lost novel.  The story concerns the death of one of a pair of gay brothers.  The narrator, the older brother, is both disgusted by his younger brother's opulent lifestyle and in awe of the grandeur of his personality.  It's a homage to loving someone you really can't stand.  If this was cast right it could be a seriously good film.

The true beauty and wonder of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's story telling will probably never be able to fully blossom through the medium of film.  That's why I think his non fiction account of a sailor ship wrecked at sea could actually be his novel most ripe for adaptation.  I know Ang Lee is making The Life of Pi and that could be good but I think this would've been the better option.  And I kind of get a movie boner thinking about Gael Garcia Bernal playing the sailor.

Matthew Sharpe is one of my favorite under the radar authors.  He's so under the radar that he had a book come out and make it all the way to the trade edition before I even realized it had been released in the first place and I run a book store.  The Sleeping Father is his best.  It is also his simplest and most urgent novel.  I would love his acclaim to spread wider though it's admirable that he's deciding to stay with the small press publisher he's been with all along.  Someone like Jason Reitman or Tom McCarthy could do this justice.

Mieville's style muddled and a little inept at times.  But this idea is really cool.  It's basically a police procedural set in a city that exists in the same space as another city.  The people living in each city have to unsee what is happening in the other city.  I would really like to see what Charlie Kaufman or Spike Jonze (or both of them together!) could do with a concept like this.

This is a book I discovered on my dad's book shelf as a kid.  It's the story of a genuinely good man who, through economic circumstances, is forced to keep his liquor store open on Sundays.  When he is held up and subsequently shot to death, he, of course, descends straight to hell for that egregious discretion.  This is the beginning of the book, the rest of it takes place in actual hell.  Here I wouldn't mind some really adept CGI, if there's anyone doing really good CGI work.  Or shit, animate it Henry Selick style.

Sidney Lumet, R.I.P.

So long Sidney, thanks for all the Social Realism. Thanks for Dog Day Afternoon, 12 Angry Men, Serpico, The Anderson Tapes, The Verdict,  and Network.  I wish it wasn't too late to find out your secret.  The secret of how to get a decent performance out of Treat Williams (Prince of the City).    I guess it's also a bad time to bring up The Wiz and what you thought you were accomplishing there but let's not start doing that.  Seriously, thank you Sidney Lumet you made some of the greatest American movies.  And you gave Philip Seymour Hoffman that nude sex scene in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead which made me sort of self conscious about what I look like doing it.  But still, thanks.

Friday, April 8, 2011

I Saw the Devil

Jee-woon Kim's latest is a step in the right direction. I couldn't make it through his previous effort THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD. It just felt too much like I was watching a Bugs Bunny Cartoon. I SAW THE DEVIL has a much better title going for it and at least a tiny bit of character development.

In all honesty, I didn't react too strongly to this one. Some of the murder scenes are difficult to watch. Min-sik Choi turns in a convincing performance as the killer. His creepiness is enough to make you rethink his coolness in OLDBOY. The shots are well composed, the action is well-directed. All in all, it's a solid little revenge flick.

There are some things I'm not so crazy about. At two hours and twenty minutes, it feels a little long. There is also a rather long stretch in which Min-sik Choi's character lays low with another serial killer who has developed a taste for human flesh. This felt somewhat silly to me. I was unaware that serial killers pal around with other serial killers. Perhaps they belong to the same union. Maybe they met on Craig's List. I don't know. What I do know is that it took an otherwise serious movie into the realm of camp. If it were cut out entirely, it would do a lot for pacing.

It's good, not great and not for the squeamish. It's better than a lot of what's out there at the moment and worth a watch if you've got a free evening.

Monday, April 4, 2011

10 Best: Better Movie Than A Book

You hear all the time that the book is better than the movie made from said book.  It may typically be true but it isn't always the case.  For the record, I think that film and literature are such different mediums that they're hardly comparable and to compare and contrast at any great length is pointless.  I don't think any of the books on this list are great works but they were all at least decent reads.  I also could have practically made this a list of Stanley Kubrick movies.  Probably with the exception of Lolita, Full Metal Jacket and maybe a Clockwork Orange the movies are all better.  I also refrained from putting more than one movie based on a Stephen King novel.  I was able to kill two birds with one stone by picking The Shining.  I'm going to do a whole week of literature and film posts, this is the first, ten movies that are better than the books they were based on:

The Shining


The Exorcist

The Godfather

Children of Men

Rosemary's Baby

Tell No One

Red Lights


The Bridge On the River Kwai

Source Code

Source Code

There's a lot of pros and one dastardly con to Source Code.  The movie begins with everyone's favorite doe eyed soulful white actor, Jake Gyllenhaal, waking up in another man's body on a train heading into Chicago.  He believes he is Captain Colter Stevens (A stupid name and they find as many opportunities to say it as possible).  But there is some good news, he's sitting across from Michelle Monaghan, not too shabby.  He has nary a clue as to what's happening and pretty soon the fucking train explodes.  He comes to in some sort of capsule.  We're just as confused as he is and by this point I was still pretty riveted.  He learns that he is part of some sort of experiment where he is sent into this dead man's last eight minutes of consciousness in order to find out who planted the bomb.  Upon learning this, I thought about his first eight minutes and immediately knew who the bomber was.  It was way too obvious.  He is sent in over and over again, unable, for the most part, to get his bearings and figure anything out at all.  Duncan Jones really excels during this stretch of the movie.  He manages to make each 8 minutes both identical yet refreshing.  It's easily the best stretch of the film.
Gyllenhaal is actually pretty good in this role.  I usually think he looks like he has to take a dump, or that he just took a dump.  In his pants.  Those are his two acting looks.  Anyway, he was likable and had good chemistry with Monaghan.  Vera Farmiga and Jeffery Wright are never quite able to flesh out their characters, the are flat throughout.  Farmiga is some sort of science officer liaison and Wright her superior.  They are Gyllenhaal's contact to the actual world though from the beginning it's clear he exists in some unfamiliar context in the outside world.
Finally Gyllenhaal is able to pull his shit together and figure out who the bomber is.  He confronts him and gets enough information about him to enable Farmiga to direct police to his capture.  He's a pasty, affluent looking white guy named Derek Frost who was apparently going to detonate a dirty bomb in downtown Chicago because he thinks you have to reduce a society to rubble before you can build it back again.  Gyllenhaal's only wish after aiding the Air Force in his capture is that they send him back to the eight minutes so he can try and save all of the passengers and then die when the Source Code ends. I won't tell you the end, only that is impossible and terrible.
My big frustration with Source Code is that it is thriller masquerading as a hard SF movie.  For as many times as Jeffery Wright mutters, "Eh, it's quantum physics," there are an equal amount of times where things happened that completely defy all forms of physics.  I'm no going to break down every issue I had with the movie, you can go see it for yourself, because I don't really feel like working that long on this post.  But I'm also not going to completely dismiss Source Code because I still kind of liked the movie.  Duncan Jones' second effort is ultimately very watchable even with the huge plot holes.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Now on Twitter!

The Movie Goer is now on Twitter.  Follow me @walkerpercyhero.  It's more of the same obviously, only much more condensed.

Netflix Dare: Jack

JACK is the story of a young boy who suffers from a disorder that causes him to age at four times the normal rate and the trials he goes through as he attends a public school for the first time. Played with tenderness and pathos by the great Robin Williams, it is easy to believe that Jack is a ten year old boy in the body of a forty year old man. An all-star cast, featuring the likes of Bill Cosby, Diane Lane, Jennifer Lopez, Michael McKean, and Fran Drescher, are there to tee up the jokes for Williams to knock out of the park. But JACK is no mere laugh-fest. It's got a lot of heart. Directed with a masterful hand by Francis Ford Coppola, it belongs in the pantheon right alongside the director's best works, including THE GODFATHER, THE CONVERSATION, and APOCALYPSE NOW.

Wait. What I meant to say is that JACK is a total hunk of garbage. The movie itself seems to suffer from a disorder that makes every minute of it feel like four. It suffers from the same curse as the vast majority of movies ever made. It's horrible all right, but not horrible enough to be unintentionally funny. Even it's badness is mediocre. I think the only point that I even cracked a smile is when Robin Williams gets punched in the face at a bar by a guy wearing a silk shirt (who, according to Fran Drescher is "really tough"). But that's about it. Bill Cosby's soul patch is weird, but not enough to merit a chuckle.

You'd think that playing a ten year old would be a walk in the park for Williams, but there's a scene in the movie in which he just can't help himself and goes into his I-just-can't-rein-this-in shtick as if he were on a late night talk show. Coppola apparently didn't have the restraint to leave this bit of improvisation on the cutting room floor.

Other than that, if you like fart jokes, jokes that fall flat on their face, child actors, and cloying sentimentality, you might want to check this one out. When this round of the Netflix Dare came around, I thought I had been a bit too cruel in challenging the Movie Goer to watch HELLGATE. Now that I've seen both, I can safely say that I'd rather watch HELLGATE. And I think HELLGATE might be the worst movie I've ever seen.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Netflix Dare: Hellgate

I don't know where to begin.  I had never heard of Hellgate before I was dared to watch it.  How had I missed this insipid piece of shit?  Not only does the film itself defy all logic but so does the fact this isn't a cult classic on the level of Troll 2.  It makes me feel the way stupid people must have felt while watching Inception.  This movie is full of half composed narratives built on incomplete ideas inside ill conceived thoughts.
It all starts, I'm actually not sure I'm going to be able to do this, with literally the fruitiest motorcycle gang I have ever seen.  Wait, I guess it starts with two girls and a guy telling lame ghost stories to each other.  Then the fruitiest motorcycle gang ever.  They ride in slow motion and pump their fists like a bunch of guidos.  Now, I believe this is supposed to be the fifties but everything is is so remarkably eighties it's hard to tell.  The motorcycle gang does some brief terrorizing then kidnaps a local woman with almost no protest from anyone else in the restaurant.  I mean, the cook comes out with a shotgun and threatens them by shooting an empty table full of dishes then just watches as they kidnap the girl.  Some dude mutters, "Creeps." as they drive off with the girl screaming.  Pay attention to that guy though, he gives the best performance in the whole movie.  They drive off into a ghost town that is actually pretty populated.  I think it must be some kind of "attraction."  Somehow all the bikers and the girl get killed, I'm not sure how, I literally walked out of the room for twenty seconds and there was no way in fucking hell I was rewinding it.  Then I guess they became ghosts or zombies or something.
They cut back to the eighties where the guy that was Horsach on Welcome Back Kotter is in the same diner from the fifties where the "bikers" kidnapped the girl.  And they didn't change anything.  Nothing, exact same diner.  He needs directions to where the other people who are in the eighties are telling each other lame ghost stories.  He winds up cutting through this ghost town.  But at the same time the girl telling the story begins telling us about what happened after the kidnapped girl dies.  Apparently her dad ran the ghost town.  One day his caretaker finds some kind of crystal in a cave and uses it to reanimate a dead bat that he previously whacked with a shovel.  I'm sure you can guess what happens next, the caretaker takes the crystal back to his boss and he uses it to blow up a goldfish and reanimate some kind of turtle which bites his face in half.  Also, the turtle then explodes.  Then the crystal is turned on the caretaker and his face is melted off.  Don't believe me?  Check it out.  Melting seems to have gone out of vogue with horror auteurs of late.  In the 80's shit was getting all over the place, to each decade it's preferred method of sloppy killing I guess.
Obviously, now that it's the eighties again the guy that owns the ghost town has reanimated everyone that died and used to live there or something, including his daughter.  I'm sorry about being vague but I'm not being half as vague as the actual movie.  Some how Horsach almost hits her with his car and, Jesus, I can barely go on with this.  He takes her back to her house where she tries to blow him for some reason.  Then he freaks out and runs away.  Horsach finds his way to the house where the others are just in time to break up the worst sex scene I've ever seen in a movie.  Here it is, jump ahead to the 6:28 mark.  It is, of course, followed by a second sex scene only slightly less awkward.  
From here the movie completely devolves.  I thought the beginning of the movie was terrible but I had another lesson to learn in how fucking awful a viewing experience can get.  The four of them go back to the ghost town for some unknown reason, maybe it's just to do us a favor and move us closer to the end of the movie.  I don't really care.
The guy with the crystal proceeds to try and kill them while they lolly gag around the ghost town, presumably looking for his ghost daughter.  During this section of the film, the director really hits his stride.  His favorite techniques include:  the flat affect reaction shot, the shouted non sequitur, and the poorly lit shot. Have I mentioned that for some reason the guy with the crystal is wearing a boxing glove on one of his hands?  Well, he is.  Never explained.  Why bother?  The end of the movie is highlighted by two of the characters fleeing the ghost town at night only to still be driving within the ghost town in full daylight in the very next scene.  Classic.  Total classic.
This movie was almost twice as hard to watch as the last dare I accepted, Ghost Fever.  I feel like someone owes me money after watching this.  But who?  Netflix?  My fellow blogger, Ricky Caldwell?  I don't know, but I feel like I need to be compensated.  I'm going to say it's Ron Palillo because I saw his scrawny bleach white ass.  He owes me twenty bucks.