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Saturday, April 28, 2012

THE THREE STOOGES

I had a little time to kill on a Thursday afternoon, so I decided to take in a movie.  I was looking for something lighthearted, something fun.  And, boy, I sure found it.  
The Three Stooges starts out at a Catholic orphanage run by nuns.  A package arrives on the door step, and guess what's in it.  Yep!! Three baby stooges, complete with the signature hair-dos of Moe, Larry, and Curly.  As you might imagine, they terrorize the nuns with their never-ending childish shenanigans.  The movie quickly moves the Stooges into adulthood, where the three adult actors take over and continue their funny business and high jinks.  Much to the chagrin of the nuns, they have never left the orphanage.  No one ever wanted to adopt them.  (Well, there WAS that one time, but. . . nah. . .  I won't spoil it for you).  The naughty-but-lovable trio became the caretakers of the institution, engaging in all sorts of tomfoolery all the while.
Then . . .  CRISIS!  The orphanage is going to be shuttered unless the diocese can come up with a very large amount of money to keep it going.  So the Stooges strike out on their own - for the first time in their lives - to raise the cash and be the heroes of the nuns and orphans.
The actors (Sean Hayes as Larry, Will Sasso as Curly, and Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe) were so true to the original characters that it was uncanny.  And they never wavered.  Their voices even sounded just like the originals.  It's chock full of eye-pokes, nose tweaks, hair pulls, etc., and the zany sound effects that accompany said antics.  The stooges always inadvertently find themselves in extraordinary situations that they always seem to weasel out of, all at the expense of the innocent folks who happen to be anywhere close to the guys.  It does take a semi-serious turn, where stooges question their relationship and wonder whether they would be better off if they split.  But you know how that ends.  Still, the jokes keep coming and so do the laughs.
I was pleasantly surprised.  I had no idea whether I would like this film, but I loved this it, and laughed a lot at the constant slapstick comedy.  There is a lengthy segment involving reality TV and the cast of Jersey Shore that was genius.  Although, I must say that if you are not a fan or at least familiar with the original Three Stooges TV show, you might not find it as funny as I did. 
If it's a no-brainer comedy you're looking for, look no further.  It doesn't get much better than this.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

THE CABIN IN THE WOODS

THE CABIN IN THE WOODS -- I had heard two things about this movie:  1) That it was good, and (2 That it was "different."  And that's all I wanted to know about it.  In fact, when reviews for this movie came on the radio or TV, I changed the station so I wouldn't know anything about it before I saw it.

It starts out like countless other horror/slasher movies before it.  A group of college "kids" are packing their things, getting ready to go on a weekend trip to one of the group's uncle's remote cabin way back in the boondocks.  There will, of course, be no phone, internet, or neighbors. Totally off the grid.

Among the group heading our for the Weekend of all Weekends are Jules (the unusually pretty party girl), Curt (the unusually handsome jock), who are bf and gf, btw;  Holden (the braniac), who has the hots for Dana (the prim and proper girl); and rounding out the unsuspecting weekend warriors is Marty (the stoner) who has the hots for all chicks, but can't get one .  They all pile into a rickety old Winnebago, and head out for a weekend they'll never forget (if they can survive it).  So, as you can see, everything is right on par with just about every other slasher film in existence.

Not so fast -- As they are pulling away, we see a camera mounted on their house, documenting their departure.  Ah ha!  Something is amiss here!  Someone (or a lot of someones) is watching their every move. They are being spied on from a massive control center, which is shown as though it were any generic office.  There are the horny dudes, goofy interns, the hot chicks, the not-so-hot chicks, etc.   They kid around with each other, have office betting pools, etc.  It's like something out of the movie "OFFICE SPACE."  But they are dead serious when it comes to tracking the young weekenders.  So you know something is going on.  You know the kids are being watched, but you don't know what or why.

The first stop on the way into the woods is at your typical deserted middle-of-nowhere, run down gas station.  Here is their first inclination that everything is not right.  Finally, out of the shadows, come a creepy backwoods hick speaking in riddles with lines like, "Getting there's easy.  It's gettin back that'll be a problem."  You know, that sort of thing.

Well, they decide to soldier on, and soon come to the cabin, and when they do, the creepy gas station attendants whips out his cell phone and calls Mission Control.  Hmmmm. . . .    When they get to the cabin, it's just what you would expect - remote, run-down, no light but from candles, no TV, etc.    Their first night there, they establish who is with who, who will sleep with who, etc.  Then late at night, while playing Truth of Dare, one of the girls ventures into the basement (surprise! there's a basement), where they unlock the evil curses that will torment them till the end of time..  All the while having their every move watched.

I started out thinking that this would be kind of like "The Hunger Games," and that the campers were a part of some kind of reality show.  But the big difference between "The Cabin In The Woods" and "The Hunger Games" is that 1) The subjects don't know they're part of any show, and 2) It's not being broadcast to the public.  Just to the people in the control room.  The kids are free to make their own decisions, but can be "influenced" by mission control.  For example, when mission control wanted Dana and Curt to hook up, they pumped pheromones into the area.

At this point in the movie, where bad things started happening to the campers, it gets way too complicated to  get into in this little review.  Plus I don't want this review to be a spoiler.

Suffice to say that horrible things happen one after another after another.  But what is the control center all about.  We learn that there are similar control centers around the world, each hoping for the same results -that most of the subjects be killed.  There is a reason why there is one jock, one slut, one stoner, etc.  There is a reason al these horrible things are happening, but what is it??

I will agree with the other reviews that I heard.  It is very different, not at all what you would expect, but is a horror/slasher film nevertheless.  In fact, if you're squeamish over the sight of blood and gore, then this is not for you.

I combines both customary, spooky, eerie scary movie elements with a very high-tech story line.  With awesome over-the-top visual effects not normally not expected from a movie in this genre.  It definitely had some "Scott Pilgrim" elements in it for sure.  Unveiling the reason why everything was going on took too long.  In fact, the film never gives the audience the chance to figure it out on their own.  All hell is breaking loose (literally) at the end, and that's when mission control's CEO appears (a surprise actor) and explains it all.

Although it didn't give us the chance to figure it out, the ride from start to finish was a good one.  Full of beautiful people in horrible, scary situations, laced with tongue-in -cheek humor throughout.  It came to us from the creators of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer,"  so if you were into any of that, you'll love this fo sho.  And even if you weren't into "BTVS," it's definitely worth your time.

Monday, December 5, 2011

SHAME

I MUST ADMIT - THE MAIN REASON I WANTED TO SEE THIS MOVIE WAS BECAUSE IT IS RATED NC-17. THE SUBJECT MATTER DIDN'T REALLY APPEAL TO ME.  THE APPEAL WAS TWOFOLD:  (1)TO SEE WHAT AN NC-17-RATED MOVIE LOOKS LIKE THESE DAYS; AND (2) TO FINALLY SIT IN A THEATER WITH NO CHILDREN.  I THINK THE LAST NC-17 FILM I SAW WAS "THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE, AND HER LOVER" IN 1989.
I WOULD SAY THAT THIS FILM IS FILLED WITH GRATUITOUS SEX, BUT THAT WOULD BE WRONG.  THE FILM DOES HAVE A LOT OF SEX IN IT, BUT THAT'S WHAT THE FILM IS ABOUT, SO THAT MAKES IT NON-GRATUITOUS (I GUESS).  ACTUALLY, THERE WEREN'T REALLY THAT MANY SEX SCENES, BUT THE ONES THAT WERE THERE WERE PRETTY GRAPHIC.  AND THERE'S LOTS OF FULL NUDITY, BOTH MALE AND FEMALE.
OTHER THAN THE NUDITY, THERE'S PRETTY MUCH NOTHING MUCH MORE TO AN NC-17 MOVIE THAN YOU CAN SEE EVERY NIGHT ON CABLE TV (ANYONE SEEN "AMERICAN HORROR STORY?").
THAT BEING SAID, "SHAME" IS ABOUT A YOUNG, PROFESSIONAL GUY (BRANDON) WHO SEEMS TO HAVE A LOT GOING FOR HIM.  HE HAS A GOOD JOB IN NEW YORK, LIVES IN A SMALL, BUT ADEQUATE APARTMENT, DRINKS THE BEST TEQUILA, EATS IN THE BEST RESTAURANTS. . . . 
HE SPENDS HIS DAYS AT WORK, AND HIS NIGHTS AT BARS WITH HIS BUDDIES, INCLUDING HIS BOSS, LOOKING FOR THE NEXT ANONYMOUS HOOK UP, SOMETIMES MULTIPLE HOOK-UPS IN THE SAME NIGHT.  HE BRINGS THEM HOME TO HIS APARTMENT (SOMETIMES HOOKERS, SOMETIMES NOT), THEN BOOTS THEM OUT WHEN HE'S DONE.  IT'S A ROUTINE HE'S GOTTEN INTO, WHICH SUITS HIM JUST FINE.  
EVERY RELATIONSHIP IN THIS MOVIE IS DYSFUNCTIONAL.  FROM THE MANY WOMEN BRANDON IS WITH, TO HIS RELATIONSHIPS WITH HIS CO-WORKER, AND EVEN HIS BOSS.  BRANDON'S BOSS THINKS BRANDON IS THE GREATEST.  (WHY?  BRANDON ISN'T A VERY LIKEABLE GUY). 
THEN, BRANDON'S SISTER (SISSY) ENTERS THE PICTURE.  YOU GET THE IMPRESSION FROM THE START THAT SISSY IS A LOSER OF A CHICK.  SHE HAS BEEN CALLING AND CALLING BRENDON, BUT HE NEVER TAKES HER CALLS.  WELL, SHE JUST SHOWS UP ONE DAY AT HIS PLACE AND WANTS TO MOVE IN. THEIR FIRST MEETING, WHEN HE SURPRISES HER IN THE SHOWER, IS ON OF THE MORE UNCOMFORTABLE SCENES IN THE FILM.  YOU JUST DON'T STAND THERE TALKING TO YOUR SISTER, HAVE A FULL ON CONVERSATION WHILE SHE'S STANDING THERE COMPLETELY NUDE.  THERE IS A KIND OF PSEUDO-INCESTUOUS THING ON THE VERGE OF HAPPENING, AND IF THERE'S ANYTHING IN THE MOVIE THAT MADE ME UNCOMFORTABLE, THIS IS IT.  
WELL,SISSY THROWS BRANDON'S WORLD OUT OF KILTER  AND CRAMPS HIS STYLE.  SHE'S A SLOB, HE'S IMPECCABLY NEAT, AND SHE'S ALWAYS AROUND, SO HE CAN'T BRING CHICKS BACK TO HIS COMFORT ZONE.  NOT TO SHE MENTION, SLEPT WITH BRANDON'S BOSS AFTER A NIGHT OUT, AND IS OBSESSING ON HIM (A MARRIED MAN).
HIS FRAGILE PSYCHE CAN'T HANDLE ALL THIS BREAK FROM FAMILIARITY, AND BRANDON'S WORLD STARTS UNRAVELLING.  UNABLE TO SUSTAIN A REAL RELATIONSHIP WITH ANYONE, OBSESSED WITH ANONYMOUS SEX, HE BEGINS SPIRILING DOWN INTO A PSYCHOLOGICAL HELL, DIVING EVEN DEEPER INTO HIS SEX-OBSESSED UNIVERSE.  
OBVIOUSLY HE AND SISSY ARE FROM A SEVERELY DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY.  SOMETHING HAPPENED IN THEIR PAST TO SCREW THEM UP SO BADLY THAT NEITHER ONE IS CAPABLE SHARING ANYTHING ABOUT THEMSELVES.  BUT WE NEVER FIND OUT WHAT THAT WAS.  THERE IS NO BACK STORY TO THEIR SORDID LIVES.
ONE THING I FOUND INTERESTING WAS THE EXTREMELY LONG TAKES IN THE MOVIE.  THE DIRECTOR, STEVE MCQUEEN, DID TAKE AFTER TAKE WITH ONLY ONE CAMERA, OFTEN LASTING THE ENTIRE SCENE.  WITH THE RAPID FIRE STYLE OF A.D.H.D.-INDUCING DIRECTION AND EDITING IN USE TODAY, THIS WAS A STARK CONTRAST.  IT WAS DIFFERENT, BUT I LIKED IT.  
I CAN'T REALLY RECOMMEND THIS FILM, THOUGH.   OTHER THAN SEEING WHAT AN NC-17 MOVIE LOOKS LIKE TODAY, THERE'S NOTHING THAT GOOD ABOUT  "SHAME."  I WAS CURIOUS.  NOW I KNOW. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

J EDGAR

 This Clint Eastwood-directed movie is a pretty simple biopic that explores the personal and professional life of the man who started and led the US Federal Bureau of Investigation from the Hoover administration (no relation), all the way into the Nixon years. 
Hoover built the Bureau based on a hard line approach to communists and radicals he felt were bent on overthrowing the government, as well his my-way-or-the-highway regulations he set for his "G Men." they all had to be physically fit, no facial hair, immaculately dressed, etc. 
He ruled the Bureau with an iron fist, was a pioneer in developing the use of forensic science, and accumulated files on just about every political figure in America, making sure they all stayed under his thumb. 
Then there's Hoover's personal side. Everyone has heard the rumors of him being gay. In an interview, Leonardo DiCaprio (who plays Hoover) said the movie doesn't get into that aspect of his life, but it does. It also paints Hoover as a liar who takes credit for banner accomplishments that his agents should have gotten. And even goes into his mommas boy relationship with his domineering homophobic mother. 
A good, well done movie with nice production value. A pleasant period piece that is engaging to watch. 
If I had a problem with it, it is this: The old man make-up was inconsistent. Sometimes it looked great, but other times, it made the actors look like mummies. Also, DiCaprio's weird accent was distracting. I couldn't tell what it was supposed to be. Sometimes it was there, and sometimes not. 
Eastwood spent a lot of time on one particular incident, while just glazing over others, such as the assassinations of both Kennedys, and the Martin Luther King era. 
I realize, though, that there is an awful lot of subject matter that took place in Hoover's life to give it all equal time, and at at two hours and fifteen minutes, Eastwood crammed in as much as he could without making it a 10 hour mini series, which it could have easily been. 
Overall: Good flick.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

THE TREE OF LIFE


I guess I'm one of the ones who doesn't get it.  Well, at least I managed to stay awake for the whole thing.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

LIMITLESS

Finally!  A movie that didn't have me checking my watch every fifteen minutes!  I loved this movie.  
Eddie Morra is a "writer" always on the verge of a book deal.  He lives in a dumpy little apartment in NYC, and has no real job.  He never has any money, which is why his girlfriend is breaking up with him.  He was married for a minute or two about ten years ago.  Nothing is going right for Eddie.  
Then he happens to run into his ex-wife's brother on the streets, and he offers Eddie the chance of a lifetime:  Take a pill which will unlock the full capacity of his brain.  OK. . .   Why not?  He's got nothing to lose. . .right?
The problem here is that this "drug" wears off and must be re-taken to maintain its effect, therefore making it as addictive a heroin.  So he takes the drug, and his life takes an immediate u-turn.  Suddenly, he can do things like speak any language fluently after just hearing it spoken. . .  He can play the piano as if he has been studying it for years.  . . .  He know everything about everything.   And he is in demand for his expertise in the corporate world.  He's reconnecting with his girlfriend.  Now everything is going great for Eddie.  Nobody knows his secret.  Or do they?  People around him know something is up, and Eddie has to keep up his facade, keep popping the pills, and make sure his supply never runs out.
I can't really say anything more about the film without giving it away, so I won't.    This movie has everything -- Action, suspense, intrigue, and the perfect balance of humor to keep it moving at a rapid pace.  Never boring and lots of surprises and "ah ha" moments.  Not to mention the eye candy.
So refreshing to see a movie like this after all the duds that have been out lately.

Monday, March 14, 2011

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES

Well this one could have been called BATTLE: FRESNO. There is absolutely nothing about Los Angeles in it except an obvious matte shot of the LA skyline ablaze far away in the distance. No Capitol Records building being demolished. . . . No Tar Pits bubbling with poisonous gas. . . . No crumbling US Bank tower. . . . Nothing. And I will admit, that's probably the only reason I went to see this film. This is the kind of movie I usually avoid.
Every decade or so, Angelenos flock to theaters to delight in seeing the on-screen demise of our beloved city. We had EARTHQUAKE in the 70's, THE TERMINATOR and MIRACLE MILE in the 80's, VOLCANO in the 90's, and now this.
That being said, as the saying goes, "it is what it is." If you're expecting profound drama -- forget it. If you're looking for non-stop blasts -- this is the one for you.
BATTLE: LOS ANGELES is about a sudden alien invasion all over the world, mainly in big cities along the coast. In fact, BATTLE: SANTA MONICA would be a more apt title, since the whole movie takes place there. Well, the aliens (and, yes, you do get to see what they look like) are taking over the cities so quickly that the only defense against them is to evacuate the cities of civilians, and bomb the S out of the area, taking out all the aliens.
Here's where that oh-so-familiar band of rag-tag marines come into play (including the ever-present bad-ass latina). Isn't her name Santos in every one of these?
So their mission is to evacuate everyone from the area in two hours - bomb drop time. And I'm sure you can figure out the rest on your own. Not my cup of tea, but I'm sure if I had a thirteen-year-old kid, he's love it.
It is what it is.