Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

31 December 2008

Gamera: Guardian of the Universe

Director: Shusuke Kaneko
Writer: Kazunori Itô
Released: 1995
Cast: Tsuyoshi Ihara, Akira Onodera, Shinobu Nakayama, Ayako Fujitani, Yukijirô Hotaru

30 December 2008

The Dead Hate the Living

Director: Dave Parker
Writer: Dave Parker
Released: 2000
Cast: Eric Clawson, Jamie Donahue, Brett Beardslee, Wendy Speake, Benjamin P. Morris, Matt Stephens

Mamma Mia!

Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Writer: Catherine Johnson
Released: 2008
Cast: Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Christine Baranski, Amanda Seyfried

Highlander: Director's Cut

Director: Russel Mulcahy
Writers: Gregory Widen, Peter Bellwood, Larry Ferguson
Released: 1986
Cast: Christopher Lambert, Clancy Brown, Roxanne Hart, Sean Connery, Beatie Edney

29 December 2008

Seven Pounds

Director: Gabriele Muccino
Writer: Grant Nieporte
Released: 2008
Cast: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Barry Pepper

28 December 2008

The Godfather

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Writers: Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola
Released: 1972
Cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard Castellano, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Abe Vigoda, Talia Shire, John Cazale

27 December 2008

The Blues Brothers

Director: John Landis
Writers: Dan Aykroyd, John Landis
Released: 1980
Cast: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Carrie Fisher, John Candy, The Blues Brothers Band

26 December 2008

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Director: Scott Derrickson
Writer: David Scarpa
Released: 2008
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Jaden Smith, Kathy Bates, John Cleese, Jon Hamm

25 December 2008

Christmas Vacation

Director: Jeremiah S. Chechik
Writer: John Hughes
Released: 1989
Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Johnny Galecki, Juliette Lewis, Randy Quaid

24 December 2008

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Director: Henry Selick
Writer: Caroline Thompson
Released: 1993
Cast: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara, William Hickey, Glenn Shadix, Paul Reubens, Ken Page, Edward Ivory

23 December 2008

Trust the Man

Director: Bart Freundlich
Writer: Bart Freundlich
Released: 2005
Cast: David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Billy Crudup

22 December 2008

Stripes: Extended Cut

Director: Ivan Reitman
Writers: Len Blum, Dan Goldberg, Harold Ramis
Released: 1981
Cast: Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Warren Oates, P.J. Soles, Sean Young, John Candy, John Larroquette

21 December 2008

Kicking and Screaming

Director: Noah Baumbach
Writer: Noah Baumbach
Released: 1995
Cast: Josh Hamilton, Chris Eigeman, Carlos Jacott, Jason Wiles, Olivia d'Abo, Parker Posey, Carla Buono

Teen Wolf

Director: Rod Daniel
Writers: Jeph Loeb, Matthew Weisman
Released: 1985
Cast: Michael J. Fox, James Hampton, Susan Ursitti, Jerry Levine,

20 December 2008

The Gold Bug

Director: Robert Fuest
Writer: Edward Pomerantz
Released: 1980
Cast: Anthony Michael Hall, Roberts Blossom, Geoffrey Holder

A Christmas Story

Director: Bob Clark
Writers: Jean Shepard, Leigh Brown, Bob Clark
Released: 1983
Cast: Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon, Ian Petrella, Scott Schwartz, R.D. Robb, Tedde Moore, Zack Ward, Yano Anaya

19 December 2008


Director: Ivan Reitman
Writers: Len Blum, Daniel Goldberg, Janis Allen, Harold Ramis
Released: 1979
Cast: Bill Murray, Harvey Atkin, Kate Lynch, Russ Banham, Kristine DeBell, Chris Makepeace, Sarah Torgov, Jack Blum, Keith Knight, Matt Craven

18 December 2008


Director: Ivan Reitman
Writers: Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis
Released: 1984
Cast: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, William Atherton

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Director: Dave Filoni
Writers: Henry Gilroy, Steven Melching, Scott Murphy
Released: 2008
Cast: Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kane, Ian Abercrombie, Kevin Michael Richardson, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Daniels, Christopher Lee

17 December 2008

The Conversation

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Writer: Francis Ford Coppola
Released: 1974
Cast: Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Frederic Forrest, Cindy Williams, Robert Duvall

St. Elmo's Fire

Director: Joel Schumacher
Writers: Joel Schumacher, Carl Kurlander
Released: 1985
Cast: Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Mare Winningham

16 December 2008


Director: Amy Heckerling
Writer: Amy Heckerling
Released: 2000
Cast: Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari, Greg Kinnear, Tom Sadoski, Zak Orth, Jimmi Simpson

15 December 2008

Vacancy 2: The First Cut

Director: Eric Bross
Writer: Mark L. Smith
Released: 2009
Cast: Agnes Bruckner, David Moscow, Scott G. Anderson, Arjay Smith, Trevor Wright, Beau Billingslea

STEVE says: Yeah, that's not a typo or anything. The IMDb has this movie listed with a January 2009 release date. We watched a screener. Which is cool because now I can honestly say I've seen the future of horror.

And it's bo-ring!

Within the first 20 minutes we're introduced to the two yahoos who run the Meadow View Motel, and learn that they're selling videotaped exploits of the young couples who've stayed at their fair establishment. No great shock there, as we already know the place is wired - having seen the first film. But when a decidedly suspicious looking "Mr. Smith" checks in with a young woman, and these yahoos watch as he first spreads a sheet of plastic over the bed, then proceeds to mount said young woman from behind and stab her in the back 20, 30 times... yeah, no real surprise there, either - having seen the first film!

The rest is no better. It's murder-by-numbers with the odd chase scene thrown in for good measure. Or, you know, to pad it out to its scant 86 minute running time.

And look, I'm just throwing this out, okay? For any direct-to-video prequels that may be in production at the moment: Don't use a number in the title. Don't use a number in the title especially if you're using a sub-title that refers to your movie being a prequel. It constitutes a supreme incongruity. That's the same sort of paradox thing that almost got Marty McFly killed.


14 December 2008

Ghost Town

Director: David Koepp
Writer: David Koepp, John Kamps
Released: 2008
Cast: Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear, Tea Leoni

NIKKI says:
Every now and again, I just need a hit of Ricky Gervais. I've listened to his radio shows and watched The Office so many times, that anything new is a bit like crack -- gimme, gimme. I know he's arrogant, I know sometimes his humour borders on the cruel, but I love him anyway. And I know he has a good heart -- he has cats, you know. And he has more non-whorish self-respect than so many other UK-comics-made-good (*cough*I'll-be-in-anything-and-suck-up-to-Kevin-Smith*Simon*Pegg*).

Well, I wanted to watch it for Ricky and ended up enjoying it on its own very simple terms. It's a sweet story about a cranky old bugger who dies for seven minutes and ends up able to see ghosts who all want something from him. It's a bit like Heart and Souls -- asshole-ish Robert Downey Jnr has to help his ghost friends so they can pass on in peace. The twist here is that Ricky finds himself falling for the widow of one of his new ghost friends. Complications ensue.

Standard and formulaic, for sure, but just too sweet to dislike. And the actors make it all extra-watchable. I used to totally hate Greg Kinnear for reasons I can't even remember now, but I've come to love him. (Probably due to his involvement in Loser -- my secret favourite movie of all time.) He and Ricky play off each other really well here, ad it's so nice to see a movie about people that, while predicable, doesn't go the most convenient routes. Kinnear remains a bit of a prick, which is to say he doesn't get any easy redemption. The movie just accepts that not everyone is perfect, that love and fidelity are complicated issues, and that people can forgive.

I really liked it. I know Ricky doesn't just do every script thrown at him, but I hope to see him in more.


13 December 2008


Director: Jennifer Lynch
Writer: Jennifer Lynch, Kent Harper
Released: 2008
Cast: Bill Pullman, Julia Ormond, Pell James, Ryan Simpkins, Kent Harper, French Stewart, Michael Ironside

NIKKI says:
Compelling from beginning to end. I could barely look away from it. Every beat, every motion, every shot, every word is deliberate and calculated to build a mystery while solving another one.

Here, a scenario is presented, as seen through the eyes of three people (and three of the most unreliable narrators you can get) -- a crackhead, a bent cop, and an eight-year-old. The story goes that the cop and his partner stopped the girl's family on a routine speeding check, with the crackhead and her boyfriend literally caught in the middle when they stop to help the family, unaware of the cops behind them. In minutes, all but those three witnesses will be dead. But who saw what? Who did what? How does it all fit together with the spree killers on the loose as well? Two FBI agents are brought in to interview the witnesses and find out the truth.

It's all about seeing -- what we see, what we notice about people, how we react to each other. It's about looking for the details within the bigger picture; within bigger, skewed pictures. What does it mean to witness something? And what is it that we really see when we watch other people?

There are layers to this film. It's so intricately put together. It's been so long since I've thought to myself half way through a movie, "This is brilliant." The writing, the direction, the imagery -- I'm amazed that Jennifer Lynch has only directed a handful of films. Her attention to detail blew me away. She visually represents her themes in these effortless ways -- the three cars on the road matching the three surveillance camera in the police station, for instance, and the red, white and blue of those cars. She adds significance and purpose to every single shot -- nothing is wasted. (Her dad could learn a few things from her. Haha.)

It's all just amazing. Can't recommend it highly enough.


12 December 2008


Director: Patrick Creadon
Writers: Patrick Creadon, Christine O'Malley, Addison Wiggin
Released: 2008
Cast: David Walker, Robert Bixby

NIKKI says:
So, oh my fucking god. The state of the world is worse than I imagined. And George W. Bush has had a more catastrophic impact on the world than I imagined (and I thought his war-mongering and his time as the Texacutioner couldn't be topped!).

This was less a documentary and more a horror movie. I gasped and jumped and couldn't believe much of what I was seeing. Even the beginning -- did you know that the economic crisis was predicted during White House speeches back in the days of Eisenhower? Pretty much every president mentioned in speeches throughout history how American people are spending more than they're earning. They all talk about the ramifications of that spending and massive debt generations are leaving for their offspring.

And now it's at crisis point. When they made this film, the National Debt was 8.7 trillion dollars and growing. America owes everyone and everyone in America seems to owe someone else and standards of living are plummeting because no one can afford anything. This movie details how the debt became so big and what needs to be done in order to get America's finances back in order.

Just like An Inconvenient Truth, the solutions are relatively simple, with great impact. But those solutions mean stepping out of our comfort zones and changing the way we live. I just don't know if I can see people doing that on such a large scale. Someone says it in this movie -- America does not respond until catastrophe. So, I can't see anything being done until the money literally dries up and Americans at large wind up on the streets. It's a tragedy. Maybe Barack Obama can do something about it?

This movie is highly informative, and simplifies much of what is happening as far as the debt goes to make it understandable. It's scary, really, just how easily it all can be simplified -- we spend too much, America spends too much, George W. Bush doubled the National Debt in just eight years in office. The movie uses cool little graphics to get its points across. It's also got some cool characters in David Walker and Robert Bixby -- men on a mission to inform America of its financial woes.

It's funny, educational, and terrifying as hell.


11 December 2008

Charley Varrick

Director: Don Siegel
Writers: Howard Rodman, Dean Riesner
Released: 1973
Cast: Walter Matthau, Joe Don Baker, Andy Robinson, John Vernon, William Schallert, Norman Fell

10 December 2008


Director: Paddy Breathnach
Writer: Pearse Elliott
Released: 2006
Cast: Lindsey Haun, Jack Huston, Max Kasch, Maya Hazen, Alice Greczyn, Robert Hoffman

NIKKI says:
You know for a brief moment I forgot horro movies could be so shockingly awful. This one got points from me for doing something a tiny bit different with the whole horror visions and magic mushrooms premise. But the people behind this one don't know what scary means. And so they fucked it all up. The guys here come from that black pus looking like blood school of horror -- the more black pus we can squeeze into out movie, the more terrifying it will be!

Sorry guys -- we also need atmosphere and tension and, here's a thought -- A STORY. A story, of course, that's not semi-cribbed from every horror film in the land that features religious cults and orphanages.

Nope, I could barely stay awake this was so effing boring. Lame! (Although the poster is mildly rad.)


09 December 2008

Futurama: Bender's Game

Director: Dwayne Carey-Hill
Writers: Michael Rowe, Patric Verrone
Released: 2008
Cast: Billy West, Katey Sagal, John Di Maggio, Tress MacNielle, Maurice LaMarche, Phil LaMarr, Lauren Tom, David Herman, Kath Soucie, Frank Welker

NIKKI says:
Okay, that's better. I enjoyed this one a whole lot more than the giant pink thing in the last Futurama movie. This one was relentless. It moved quickly and stayed on course and was just the right amount of ridiculous for 90 minutes. I liked it. I especially liked Bender's absession with Dungeons and Dragons and his quest for an active imagination.

"When will people learn that playing "Dungeons and Dragons" doesn't make you cool!"


08 December 2008

The House Bunny

Director: Fred Wolf
Writers: Karen McCullah Latz, Kirsten Smith
Released: 2008
Cast: Anna Faris, Emma Stone, Kat Dennings, Katharine McPhee, Rumer Willis, Colin Hanks

NIKKI says:
It could have gone one of two ways: Sweet and adorable with an obvious message but a fun way of getting there; or Obvious message but rude and stupid.

I was slightly concerned about the stupid in the beginning, but once House Bunny gets to the house and we meet her little Zeta charges, everything comes together and while it's all very predictable, and a little bit saccharine, it's all just too cute not to like.

So, a Playboy bunny gets (seemingly) tossed out of the mansion for being too old. with no friends or family or any place to go, she winds up on the doorstep of a sorority house. Looking for shelter and a place to fit in, she cajoles herself into the affections of the Zetas who she promises to turn from nerds to babes and get to keep their house, which, oh yeah, they are in danger of losing because no one will pledge there. I wonder what will happen?!?

It had its flaws but was ultimately just an enjoyable popcorn movie with cute girls and lots of pink. The best thing about the movie is Emma Stone who plays the Zeta leader, Natalie. We laughed more at her than anything else in the movie with her weird faces and her odd dialogue that was delivered so casually it all sounded like ad-libs. She was hilarious.

Verdict: Likable.


07 December 2008


Director: Mabrouk El Mechri
Writers: Frédéric Bénudis, Mabrouk El Mechri, Christophe Turpin
Released: 2008
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, François Damiens

NIKKI says:
I can admit it: About 1992, when Universal Soldier came out, I had a slight obsession with Jean-Claude Van Damme. I had to watch all of his movies -- my favourite, of course, was Double Impact, probably because there were TWO Van Dammes. I even once let a guy flirt with me at a B&S because he looked exactly like JC. Height and all.


Well, now it all comes full circle. JC, turns out, isn't such a big weirdo as his pseudo-existential, emotional ramblings in the press might have us believe. Yes, he's slightly out there in terms of his philosophies and life choices, but this movie demonstrates that he's not completely insane. He's actually kind of endearing. This movie gives him a platform to change the public record and to reveal actual human depths.

Aside from all the Van Damme revelations and love, this is actually a good film. JC is trying to get some cash from a Belgian bank to pay off some guys and to help rebuild his relationship with his daughter, but the bank isn't co-operating. Seems JC has just stumbled into the middle of a hold up. He is dragged into the back of the bank where he stays with the rest of the hostages while a tense negotiation plays out between cops and robbers.

The genius thing here is JC has been placed into a situation very much like one of his films. He's the underestimated tough guy placed in supposed peril who wham-bams his way out of of the place and saves the girl. But that doesn't happen here. He's still underestimated, but he's hardly a tough guy, and his drive to save himself let alone anyone else is extremely low.

So, what does Van Damme do? Well, that's the key to this story. Its smart, funny, brave, and actually really tense and well-constructed. You will root for JC, and you will see him a new light, and if you don't come away respecting him... well, you just have no heart.


High School Musical 3: Senior Year

Director: Kenny Ortega
Writer: Peter Barsocchini
Released: 2008
Cast: Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman

NIKKI says:
Why was I so excited for this? I may have gone mad, but I just could not wait to see a High School Musical movie on the big screen. My excitement was all held over from the rush I got when we saw the preview ages ago before Wall-E. The curtain, the sparkles, the basketball, stepping noises... Wildcats WOOH!

I am so lame.

So, it was okay. Actually, it was huge fun and I loved it. However, I did have some issues with it. Many, of course, are the same issues I have with all these movies. I was hoping some of them would have been fixed this time around but no such luck. Here now are my top four Problems With High School Musical 3:

4. Sharpay's redemption
Or lack thereof. Sharpay spends the whole movie being an utter cunt to everyone that threatens her dreams of starring in the final East High Super-Mega-Show. She, like Natalie Sands (bitch!) before her will stop at nothing to make sure poor Gabriella misses the final show allowing Sharpay to step in and be the star. Well, she sabotages Gabriella's role, and almost ruins her relationship with Troy and completely overrides and shits on all her East High friends.

BUT! At the end of the movie, at graduation, who should be sitting next to Gabriella, both smiling at each other, but Sharpay! I didn't see them make up. I didn't see anyone spill red wine on Sharpay's expensive white dress as comeuppance. I saw no redemption whatsoever for bitchy Sharpay. Not good enough!

3. Gabriella's icky sweetness that makes me want to punch her
Can we get this girl some edge? Can't someone dig up some cell phone pics of her dancing around with an ex-boyfriend from her old school? Can we find out SOMETHING about her that doesn't make me think she's as soft as jelly? Ugh.

2. Gabriella's utter lack of character development
So, she goes to pre-college or whatever it is and decides a few days later to leave Troy and not come home for prom or the big final show. Umm... how did she come to this conclusion? These movies have this awful guy-centric thing, or Troy-centric, maybe, that utterly discounts the women. Look at Sharpay -- between these two protags, you'd think the writers here know only of two kinds of girls: sweet-natured Gidgets or bitch-ass beauty queens. This, of course, is so not the case. I was hoping to see Gabriella in her own "Bet On It" moment, getting out her aggression somehow -- throwing candy canes? horseback riding? -- but, alas. It was not to be.

1. The look in Troy's eyes that is supposed to say "I love you, sweet Gabriella" but really says "Man, can we just FUCK already?!"
Was it just me, or did Troy have raging hormones where his eyes should have been? Watch him every time he dances with Gabriella. He is flat out screaming with his face: "I want you!" And, of course, the little tease denies him, which just made me want to take him home all the more to put him out of his freakin' misery.


Still, it was the best of the series with some great songs and some big cool dance numbers. I loved "Scream" and "The Boys are Back". It was just bigger and better as far as production goes. Pity they couldn't have ironed out some of my niggly issues. If only they were doing a fourth one...


06 December 2008

Thank You Mask Man

Director: John Magnuson
Writer: Lenny Bruce
Released: 1971
Cast: Lenny Bruce

Night of Dark Shadows

Director: Dan Curtis
Writer: Sam Hall
Released: 1971
Cast: David Selby, Kate Jackson, Grayson Hall, Lara Parker, John Karlen, Nancy Barrett, Thayer David

05 December 2008

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Director: John Hughes
Writer: John Hughes
Released: 1986
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jeffery Jones, Jennifer Gray

04 December 2008

Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show

Director: Ari Sandel
Released: 2006
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Ahmed Ahmed, John Caparulo, Bret Ernst, Sebastian Maniscalco, Jon Favreau, Peter Billingsley

03 December 2008

Baby Mama

Director: Michael McCullers
Writer: Michael McCullers
Released: 2008
Cast: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Greg Kinnear, Dax Shepard

Easy Rider

Director: Dennis Hopper
Writers: Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Terry Southern
Released: 1969
Cast: Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson

02 December 2008

The Orphanage

Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Writer: Sergio G. Sánchez
Released: 2007
Cast: Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep, Geraldine Chaplin

01 December 2008

Monster Man

Director: Michael Davis
Writer: Michael Davis
Released: 2003
Cast: Eric Jungmann, Justin Urich, Aimee Brooks, Michael Bailey Smith

30 November 2008

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Director: Tom Shadyac
Writers: Jack Bernstein, Tom Shadyac, Jim Carrey
Released: 1994
Cast: Jim Carrey, Courtney Cox, Sean Young, Tone Loc, Udo Kier

STEVE says: Roger Ebert pointed out, in his July 1999 review of Dr. Strangelove, "[The film's] humor is generated by a basic comic principle: People trying to be funny are never as funny as people trying to be serious and failing. The laughs have to seem forced on unwilling characters by the logic of events. A man wearing a funny hat is not funny. But a man who doesn't know he's wearing a funny hat... ah, now you've got something."

Jim Carrey is not only aware of his funny hat, he wants to make damn sure you're aware that he's aware of it. Which is why I hate him.

It took me 14 years to finally sit and watch this movie from beginning to end (having seen bits and pieces through the years, whether because the characters I worked with in the video store when it was released would play it on an endless loop, or because my former roommate - coincidentally, one of those video store characters - was obsessed with it), and I have to admit, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The plot was largely ridiculous, but that was to be expected. And it did make me laugh several times throughout - but only, I argue, where there was a joke and not simply Carrey being Carrey.

Early in the piece, Ace liberates a dog from a nasty owner, played by Randall "Tex" Cobb, who comes after him with a baseball bat. Ace manages a narrow escape, but not before Cobb smashes his windshield to hell and back. Consequently, Ace has to drive for the duration of the movie with his head out the window. Cute. Not, you know, "fall-down-hilarious", but cute. The scene where Ace and Courney Cox are going to a swanky party at Udo Kier's mansion, and she says to him before they enter, "Don't do anything to embarrass me," and he says, "Like this?" and starts dancing around like a spastic: also cute. Even mildly funny. Because it's been set up. Minutes later, though, Ace sneaks out a bathroom window, climbs along a railing and pretends to scale a wall while looking for clues - all without anyone watching but us. The humor just don't work because there's no one there to see his antics. Nikki - herself a fan of the movie - turned to me and said, "You have to wonder why he doesn't just do his job."

Thing is, Ace isn't like this all the time. There's a rare moment where he shows an almost human side toward Courtney Cox that just feels wrong and awkward because it comes out of nowhere (much like their romance), and goes against the behavior of the character as he's been developed.

I survived, though, that's the point. The movie wasn't as lame as I'd expected. Carrey, on the other hand, was.


NIKKI says:
Top 10 Best and Most Re-Used Quotes from Ace Ventura

1. Got a package, people!
2. Well... I have kissed a man.
3. Poor guy with a motive, baby!
4. Tonight on Miami Vice, Crockett gets the boss a coffee!
5. Obsess much?!?
6. Why? So you can beat him?
7. Lovely party. Pity I wasn't invited.
8. Had I been drinking out of the toilet, I might have been killed.
9. For God's sake, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a pool man!
10. They're little footballs!


29 November 2008

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

Director: David Lynch
Writers: David Lynch, Robert Engels
Released: 1992
Cast: Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise, Moira Kelly, Dana Ashbrook, James Marshall, Chris Isaak, Kyle MacLachlan

28 November 2008

After Hours

Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Joseph Minion
Released: 1985
Cast: Griffin Dunne, Roseanna Arquette, Linda Fiorentino, John Heard, Teri Garr, Catherine O'Hara, Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Dick Miller, Verna Bloom

STEVE says: I'm going to go way out on a limb, here, and say that After Hours is my favorite Scorsese movie.

"What's that?" I hear you say. "Better than Goodfellas? Better than Taxi Driver or Mean Streets? Better even than The Departed?" No, I didn't say that. Better than has nothing to do with it. (And it's a subjective argument, anyway, don't you think?) But if I had to pick one Scorsese movie for my desert island list, it would be After Hours.

The movie's surreal nightmare quality is what appeals to me. It's like a Kafka story set in SoHo, with Griffin Dunne as Josef K. After a date goes from bad to worse to the absolute worst it could possibly get, the guy is just trying to get back home. But the gods or whatever will not allow that to happen. And after having to deal with a sadomasochistic sculptress, a paranoid subway attendant, a crazy waitress, a belligerent Mr. Softee truck operator and a passive aggressive bouncer, among many others, his goal changes from getting home to simply staying alive.

It's a hell of a movie that doesn't get the credit it deserves. And for the record, it's definitely better than Gangs of New York.


NIKKI says:
I should like this movie more than I do. I know I'll get crucified by this movies biggest fans (Steve and Lyndall), but I just don't feel anything for Griffin Dunne. Zip. He comes across to me as a smug prick and I just don't see why I should root for him. Is the movie too subtle in its absurdity for me? Maybe. Maybe I'm looking for connection where I shouldn't be, but no one in this movie compels me to follow their weird paths.

I don't remember disliking it prior as much as I did with this viewing. I just didn't care. I wanted him to get home just so I could go to bed. I like the movie's darkness, I think I appreciate what it wants to do -- Steve mentioned the Kafka aspect to the story -- but it doesn't do much for me.

This and King of Comedy are up there as the Scorsese movies everyone else loves but I could never watch again and be happy.


27 November 2008

My Name is Bruce

Director: Bruce Campbell
Writer: Mark Verheiden
Released: 2007
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Grace Thorsen, Taylor Sharpe, Ted Raimi

STEVE says: Bruce Campbell's My Name is Bruce was not all that I'd hoped it would be, but it was pretty much exactly what I'd expected. And that's kinda sad because, while I was hoping for something Damn Good to Excellent, my expectations hovered around Average to Good.

Campbell is playing "himself" here, kidnapped by a young fan and taken to the small town of Gold Lick, Oregon (population 339 and dwindling), where he is coerced by the townsfolk into defending them from the Chinese demon, Guan-Di, accidentally unleashed by a bunch of unwitting teens. It's a spin on The Three Amigos! and Galaxy Quest, where it's assumed that, because someone fights evil in the movies, one can do the same in real life - and it's fun. Add to the mix Campbell taking the piss out of himself and his B-movie status, and you've got what should be a solid B-movie in its own right.

So what went wrong?

Too Many Fanboy References, for one thing. This movie was clearly "one for the fans", but that shouldn't mean it alienates those who perhaps aren't as conversant with Campbell's career. The kid who kidnaps him, Jeff, is a Bruce Campbell fanatic: His room is wall-to-wall with posters from Campbell's movies, promotional items for his book, action figures, and even a mannequin wearing Brisco County's gear; his wardrobe consists of Evil Dead and Bubba Ho-Tep t-shirts; and his vocabulary is made up of hero lines from Campbell's movies. Nice, but there's no indication that Jeff is even aware of anyone else involved in the horror genre. True fanboys will delight in seeing Dan Hicks and Timothy Patrick Quill reference their characters from Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness, respectively, but for those who don't recognize them, the dialog is pointless, and the joke falls flat. It seems that Campbell - and moreover, screenwriter Mark Verheiden - have ignored the wider audience, making the movie for a select group of cult followers.

It didn't help that the version of "himself" that Campbell decided to portray goes contrary to what fans already know about him. When William Shatner played "Bill" in Free Enterprise, for example, he was taking on a persona that at first amplified the stereotype he's associated with (tough guy, anti-fan, woman-magnet), and then broke that stereotype down in the end. He was playing with a perceived image, and whether that image had any corelation to his actual personality is neither here nor there. Campbell plays himself as kind of mean-spirited dick - big-noting in front of fans, chastising cast and crew, yet lonely and pathetic when he's at home - but his accessibility at conventions and screenings across the country has allowed fans a familiarity beyond mere perception, so that when he gets obnoxious or makes a wise-crack at a fan, it's never seen as anything but good-natured. Choosing to play himself as an asshole when he's known to be the opposite only distances us from the character.

Verheiden will have to take a lot of the blame for this. His script leaves a lot of room for Campbell to mug for the camera, sass the locals (thankfully leaving his Stooges schtick behind), and try to woo Jeff's mom, but offers little in the way of suspense, character or plot development. Instead, Guin-Di shows up randomly to decapitate some locals, Bruce and Kelly hate each other for five minutes, then fall in love, and the audience is filled in on back story by way of a country song by the mayor and the sheriff. I kid you not.

Which is not to say that the movie sucked. I liked it. I had fun with it. Largely because Campbell had fun with it. He knows he's not an A-list star, and he embraces that fact. With My Name is Bruce, he's making fun of himself, and thanking his legions of fans at the same time. I only wish he'd taken it seriously, rather than played it for a joke.


26 November 2008

Blind Horizon

Director: Michael Haussman
Writers: F. Paul Benz, Steve Tomlin
Released: 2003
Cast: Val Kilmer, Never Campbell, Sam Shepard, Faye Dunaway, Amy Smart, Noble Willingham, Gil Bellows, Giancarlo Esposito

25 November 2008


Director: Mel Gibson
Writer: Mel Gibson, Farhad Safinia
Released: 2006
Cast: Rudy Youngblood, Dalia Hernández, Gerardo Taracena, Raoul Trujillo

Funny Games

Director: Michael Haneke
Writer: Michael Haneke
Released: 2007
Cast: Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet, Devon Gearhart

24 November 2008

Black Water

Directors: David Nerlich, Andrew Traucki
Writers: David Nerlich, Andrew Traucki
Released: 2007
Cast: Diana Glenn, Maeve Dermody, Andy Rodereda, Ben Oxenbould, Fiona Press

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Director: Chris Carter
Writers: Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz
Released: 2008
Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly, Alvin "Xzibit" Joiner, Callum Keith Rennie

23 November 2008

The Signal

Directors: David Bruckner, Dan Bush, Jacob Gentry
Writers: David Bruckner, Dan Bush, Jacob Gentry
Released: 2007
Cast: Anessa Ramsey, Justin Welborn, AJ Bowen, Scott Poythress, Sahr Ngaujah

22 November 2008

Who's That Knocking at My Door?

Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Martin Scorsese
Released: 1967
Cast: Harvey Keitel, Zina Bethune