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.

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

The Hills Have Eyes

Director: Wes Craven
Writer: Wes Craven
Released: 1977
Cast: Susan Lanier, Robert Houston, Martin Speer, Dee Wallace, Russ Grieve, John Steadman, Michael Berryman, Virginia Vincent, James Whitworth, Lance Gordon, Janus Blythe, Cordy Clark, Arthur King, Flora and Striker

21 November 2008

Boxcar Bertha

Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Joyce Hooper Corrington, John William Corrington
Released: 1972
Cast: Barbara Hershey, David Carradine, Barry Primus, Bernie Casey, Victor Argo, John Carradine

20 November 2008


Director: Kevin Rubio
Writer: Kevin Rubio
Released: 1998
Cast: Eric Hilleary, Cam Clarke, David Max, Jess Harnell, Kenar Yegyayan, Drew Massey, Dave Myers, Matthew Myers, Steven Melching, Neil Elliot, Susan Hinshaw

STEVE says: Another late night, another short film. Sue me.

Troops is just brilliant. Like an episode of Cops set in the Galactic Empire, it follows the exploits of a handful of Imperial Stormtroopers as they respond to various calls - one concerning Jawas and stolen droids, and another concerning a domestic dispute at the Lars farm.

Like George Lucas in Love, though, it doesn't work on its own. If you don't know Star Wars, you're not going to get why this is so funny. If you're a fan, though, it's going to resonate.


19 November 2008

Step Brothers

Director: Adam McKay
Writers: Will Ferrell, Adam McKay
Released: 2008
Cast: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins


Director: Roman Polanski
Writer: Robert Towne
Released: 1974
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez, John Hillerman, Darrell Zwerling, Diane Ladd, James Hong, Burt Young

STEVE says: Every fledgling screenwriter should have a look at this script. It's perfect. Hits every beat with atomic-clock precision, it never lags, and it never telegraphs exactly what's going on, yet makes it all seem inevitable in the end. And of course it is. Right from the beginning.


18 November 2008

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Robert Getchell
Released: 1974
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Alfred Lutter, Kris Kristofferson, Diane Ladd, Harvey Keitel

17 November 2008

Dead Set

Director: Yann Demange
Writer: Charlie Brooker
Released: 2008
Cast: Jaime Winstone, Andy Nyman, Liz May Brice, Warren Brown, Kevin Eldon, Adam Deacon, Riz Ahmed, Kathleen McDermott, Davina McCall

[Okay, so it's not a movie, it's a mini-series. We're counting it anyway because we watched it all in one sitting. And at 2hrs 18 minutes, it's longer than most movies we watch, anyway.]

16 November 2008

The Killers

Directors: Marika Beiku, Aleksandr Gordon, Adrei Tarkovsky
Writers: Aleksandr Gordon, Adrei Tarkovsky
Released: 1958
Cast: Yuli Fait, Aleksandr Gordon, Valentin Vinogradov, Vadim Novikov, Vasili Shukshin

STEVE says: I had my writing class read Hemingway's short story this week, so this one's been on my mind. Whereas both feature versions of The Killers (1946 and 1964) use the story as an opening, telling the full story in flashback, this Russian student film is the story. And it's not great.

That's nothing against Hemingway's story, and it's not to take anything away from Tarkovsky as a filmmaker - but this just didn't work. Pacing was the big problem for me. When Nick Adams goes to the Swede's room to warn him somebody's out to kill him, one expects him to be gasping, out of breath, maybe urgently delivering the news... Not so much, here. Adams walks in, tells the Swede some guys are out to kill him, and it's all done in a very funereal sort of style, as though they're already lamenting the Swede's passing. It just didn't fly.

It's good to have - Criterion can really put a disc together, yeah? - but not so much to revisit. For that, I've got the Robert Siodmak version.


15 November 2008

The Shining

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Writers: Stanley Kubruck, Diane Johnson
Released: 1980
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, Danny Lloyd

STEVE says: The Shining is a movie I'm not overly fond of, but keep coming back to again and again just to see if I can find something - anything - I like about it.

No luck so far.

And I don't care how great you think Nicholson is, this movie Sucks Out Loud.

But let me tell you why.

King's book was about a haunted man. Jack Torrence is haunted by the student he attacked in Stovington, his careless abuse of his son, his own alcoholic father, his failure as a husband to properly provide for his family, etc. Kubrick decided that none of this was important and just went for the haunted hotel angle. Whereas the book was about the characters and their motivations, Kubrick's movie was about Nicholson going mad.

It's one thing to change a story when adaptation to a new medium demands it; it's another to completely dispense with character development and plot because you want to tell a different story. If you want to tell a different story, Tell A Different Story, don't fuck up a perfectly viable one because you don't understand it.

Kubrick jumped over the character and plot development with the "one month later" title card after Jack and his family arrive at the Overlook. This is important stuff! It's where Jack starts losing it - how can you skip over that?

I know Kubrick was a genius. There's a lot of his stuff I didn't like when I was younger, and I'm perfectly willing now to accept the fact that it was me; I didn't get it. But The Shining is just not good at all. Apart from the lack of character development, there's the Scatman Crothers thing:
As a plot device, he's there to give us info on Danny's abilities, which is fine. And at the end, his return to the Overlook acts as a device to pull Jack away from the bathroom door and let Wendy escape. Fine, again. Killing him, however, serves no purpose whatsoever! If you're just going to kill him, Wendy may as well have been able to squeeze through the window after Danny. The thing with the woman in room 237 is the definition of anti-climax. When Danny goes into the room, we never see what he sees. When Jack goes in, he finds a woman who turns into a rotting corpse (after he starts making out with her, which begs some explanation), then comes back and tells Wendy he didn't see a thing. It's so much more effective if we see what Danny sees, and then Jack goes up because we know what's waiting there - whether he actually sees it or not. As, by the way, it was done in the book.

Bottom line is, the guy didn't believe in the material and it shows - but that doesn't stop the idolatry. The poster at the top there isn't from the movie; it's from a Shining convention held in Timberline, Oregon this past Halloween. There's even been an art show dedicated to the movie.

Click the creepy girls to check it out. Even I have to admit, it's kind of cool - even if the movie leaves me cold.



Director: Richard Donner
Writer: The Wachowski Brothers, Brian Helgeland
Released: 1995
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Banderas, Julianne Moore

14 November 2008


Director: Brian De Palma
Writer: Brian De Palma
Released: 2007
Cast: Izzy Diaz, Rob Devaney, Daniel Stewart Sherman, Patrick Carroll, Kel O'Neill

STEVE says: More than one reviewer has called Redacted a return to form for De Palma. And that's funny, 'cause I didn't see any Hitchcock ripoffs in it at all.

It's just another in a seemingly endless stream of movies presented as documentaries or lost footage or home movies (and let me be the one to say it: That gimmick has run its course), and it didn't need to be. It switches back and forth between a young soldier's chronicle of the war on his camcorder, and a French documentary about the troops, for no particular reason, apart from allowing us access with the French that the soldier wouldn't have. But even this conceit doesn't work in the scene where documentary footage is shot from inside a car that the crew do not have access to - and we know this because exterior shots of the car show no crew in the back seat. Sloppy, Brian. Real sloppy.

Some day someone's going to make a good movie about this war. Redacted isn't that movie.



Director: Gregory Hoblit
Writer: Nicholas Kazan
Released: 1998
Cast: Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Donald Sutherland, Embeth Davidtz, James Gandolfini, Elias Koteas

13 November 2008

The 40 Year-Old Virgin

Director: Judd Apatow
Writers: Judd Apatow, Steve Carrell
Released: 2005
Cast: Steve Carrell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, Seth Rogan

STEVE says: So Matt Reedy says to me, "You have to see The 40 Year-Old Virgin. You'll love it." I've known Matt Reedy for maybe eight years at this stage, and I'm wondering what he's seen in me that makes him think I'd find this movie even remotely funny, much less Love It.

Wasn't the biggest fan of Steve Carrell at the time, not the least because of his involvement in the Americanization of The Office, and the less said about Apatow, the better. I decided Matt Reedy either A) didn't have the slightest idea what I'd find funny, or B) was just having a joke, throwing this title out to see if I'd watch it on his recommendation alone. Neither prospect made me want to rush out and see this movie.

I eventually, grudgingly, got around to watching it - this was back in '06 - and I did love it. Score one for Matt Reedy.


12 November 2008

Birthday Boy

Director: Sejong Park
Writer: Sejong Park
Release: 2004
Cast: Joshua Ahn

11 November 2008


Director: Andrew van den Houten
Writer: Steve Klausner, William M. Miller
Released: 2005
Cast: Christopher Denham, William Atherton, Olivia Hussey, Dee Wallace, Sean Young, Udo Kier

10 November 2008

Hope Floats

Director: Forrest Whitaker
Writer: Steven Rogers
Released: 1998
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Harry Connick Jr., Gena Rowlands, Mae Whitman, Michael Paré

09 November 2008

Speed Racer

Directors: The Wachowski Brothers
Writers: The Wachowski Brothers
Released: 2008
Cast: Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Fox, Paulie Litt, Willy and Kenzie

STEVE says: It's been more than a decade since the rumours started flying about a live-action Speed Racer movie. Johnny Depp was rumoured to be playing Speed (that's how long ago this was) and I think Sherilyn Fenn might have been mentioned as Trixie, but it's possible that part was only in my head. (I have a large catalog of fantasies involving each individually, and it's quite possible that they've merged.) It was on and off for a while, and finally the Wachowski's picked up the ball and ran with it. It looked like my wait for a live-action Speed Racer movie was over.

Not so.

Turns out, this movie is really nothing more than a live-action cartoon. I don't think there was one scene that wasn't shot against a green screen, and that's disheartening. The movie itself can't be distinguished from a cartoon in that 98% of it was CGI.

With all the flashing lights, quick cuts and bright colours, the Speed Racer movie is the cinematic equivalent of an all-syrup Squishee. I'm just trying to decide whether that's a bad thing.


08 November 2008

First Sunday

Director: David E. Talbert
Writer: David E. Talbert
Released: 2008
Cast: Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, Katt Williams, Chi McBride, Loretta Devine, Michael Beach, Keith David, Regina Hall, Malinda Williams

07 November 2008

They're Among Us

Director: Adam Weismann
Writers: Joshua Hale Fialkov, Christian Ford, Roger Soffer, Mark Wheaton
Released: 2008
Cast: Gil Bellows, Maxim Roy, Carlo Mestroni, Judd Nelson, Isabella Rossellini

06 November 2008

Timber Falls

Director: Tony Giglio
Writer: Dan Kay
Released: 2008
Cast: Brianna Brown, Josh Randall, Nick Searcy, Beth Broderick, Sacha Rosemann

05 November 2008

Slacker Uprising

Director: Michael Moore
Writer: Michael Moore
Released: 2008
Cast: Michael Moore, Steve Earle, Michael Stipe, Eddie Vedder, Tom Morello

[Steve also watched The Texas Chain Saw Massacre again, with film class.]

04 November 2008

Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming

Director: Ernie Barbarash
Writer: Ernie Barbarash
Released: 2007
Cast: Rob Lowe, Marnie McPhail, Ben Lewis, Tatiana Maslany, Shawn Roberts, Vik Sahay

03 November 2008


Director: Christian Petzold
Writers: Simone Bär, Christian Petzold
Released: 2007
Cast: Nina Hoss, Devid Striesow, Hinnerk Schönemann

STEVE says: Okay. First: Not a bad movie. Beautifully shot, well-acted. Somehow managed to make corporate accounting, if not interesting, at least a source of intrigue. But by the 12-minute mark, I could see where it was all going. Am I the only person who's seen Carnival of Souls?

As the movie went on, it became less a question of What's Happening? and more How Will These Events Lead to the Inevitable Conclusion?

As a movie on its own, it probably deserves a higher rating, but it was hard to buy into the suspense when I couldn't get Carnival of Souls out of my head, so it's losing some points there.


02 November 2008


Director: Neil Marshall
Writer: Neil Marshall
Released: 2008
Cast: Rhona Mitra, Bob Hoskins, Sean Pertwee, Darren Morfitt, Adrian Lester, Craig Conway, MyAnna Buring, Lee-Anne Leibenberg

Not Quite Hollywood

Director: Mark Hartley
Writer: Mark Hartley
Released: 2008
Cast: Phillip Adams, Tom Burstall, Jamie Lee Curtis, Everett De Roche, Bob Ellis, Richard Franklin, Anthony I. Ginnane, Barry Humphries, Stacey Keach, Russell Mulcahy, Quentin Tarantino, Brian Trenchard-Smith

01 November 2008


Director: Henry Miller
Writers: Henry Miller, Tom Phelan
Released: 2007
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Scott Speedman, Clea Duvall, Peter Stormare, James Rebhorn

STEVE says: This was interesting, but not altogether good. The concept of a killer arranging his murders as art is cool - if not completely original (David Bowie did a concept album, "Outside" on the subject in 1995), but after a while you've just got to ask yourself, "Wouldn't it just be easier to shoot these people, or stab them or something?" The answer here is "Yeah, sure... I guess. Leave me alone!" But of course it's all about the art in the first place; the murders are incidental. And that's what I liked about it.

The thing is, there's no resolution to the story. Is Dafoe the killer? Is he the copycat? If so, who's the guy he was chasing if not the killer or the copycat? Does Dafoe know he, himself, is the killer if, in fact, he is? All questions the director felt we didn't need to know the answers to.

Normally, that's something I'd dig - a story where the journey is more important than the destination - but this time, I just felt cheated.


[Steve and Nikki also watched Hot Rod again.]