Saturday, December 31, 2011

No. You're not a pet: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Film Foray Cavalcade no. Trente-Cinq: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I do not have much of an experience with the Planet of the Apes franchise. I know the twist from the first film but the only one that I have seen is the crappy Burton remake. Needless to say when I first saw the trailers for this film, I was intrigued but hesitant in terms of my level of interest. This film came out while I was visiting Bence and Twincess in New York and we opted to see Attack The Block instead of it (Bence was less than intrigued by it). For those curious, this film erases any memory of the Burton film. Yes, it is that good.

Apes follows Will Rodman (James Franco), a scientist attempting to cure Alzheimer's disease for a Biotech company and has tested the potential gen therapies on chimpanzees. After one of the chimps goes on a rampage, the test population is killed save for one baby which Will takes home. This baby chimpanzee (now named Caesar after the Shakespeare play) shows exceptional intelligence leading Rodman to believe the viability of ALZ-112 as a treatment (Which ultimately costs Rodman's father his life). Things are further complicated in San Francisco after ALZ-113 leads to some unintended results (A virus) and Caesar empowers the residents of primate shelter with ALZ-112.

Rise of The Planet of the Apes is one of those films that nobody expects to do much when it is released. Thus, it is a pleasant surprise when you finally sit down and watch it. With a budget less than most major blockbusters, lessons can be learned about how to create such films. Namely, focus on a great script and you will lay the foundation for everything else. Novel concept... Take notes. Anyway, much has been bandied about with regards to Andy Serkis and his portrayal of Caesar (or rather motion capture). I think this role is hard to categorize as he did the motion capture and while the movements were impeccable, it is hard to say if I agree with the calls for Academy Award nomination.

It is safe to say from the first paragraph that I enjoyed this film. I thought overall that it was one of the quickest hundred minutes (or so) of cinema that I have seen this year. What I mean by this statement is that one the credits where rolling I was disappointed that the film had ended. Personally, I wanted to see where Caesar and his followers went from there and the impact of the virus. This was a film that I began yelling at the television for a sequel and then held my jaw in agony (lousy wisdom tooth). All in all, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a wonderful starting point for a franchise and it is interesting to see where it goes from here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In Descending Order: The Worst Films of 2011 numbers 4 to 1

Continuing on our discussion from earlier... The worst films of 2011 (Numbers 4-1):

4. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Where did we leave off when we last spoke? Ah yes, Dark of the Moon. Bad writing, no character development and the worst acting this side of a soap opera. What else can there be said about this film? I do not know... How about Michael Bay reaching into his bag of tricks and using the same shots and some of the same "action sequences" from previous films. Yes, there is same Pearl Harbor/ Bad Boys/ Transformers I/ Transformer II, "the shit just got real" shots but in this film he used the same sequence from The Island... Oddly enough, the latter was much better in that film and for the record that film is not good as well.

3. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I
Does a film constitute a saga if nothing (and I mean nothing) happens that is remotely interesting. Shirtless guy and dim mouth breather battle over a woman, who has the distinction of being the ugliest girl in town. Good job guys. Alright, I confess that something interesting does happen in this film and it is not the least bit horrifying. The shirtless werewolf falls in love with a baby... Yes, a baby! No, I do not understand it. A baby? Seriously? How does that even work? To top it off, the leader of team mouth breather (who is also the father) condones it. I do not know about you but I would not want some creepy guy to be in love with my newborn child.

2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
How bad is this film? Well, it is worse than Revenge of the Fallen and that is saying something. Quite frankly, it seems that everyone (and I mean everyone) associated with this production just decided to half ass their roles. The argument will be made that Michael Bay wanted to put it out a year later and that production was rushed but I do not buy it. Kruger had enough time to put together a relatively decent script and build around it. This film let one lasting impression and it is the notion that I am done with this franchise. Mark my words! This lifelong fan of Transformers as an intellectual property is done with these films.

1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I
As you might have deduced, I am not a fan of this franchise either in book or film form. Thank you, Harry Potter. If it was not for you, we would not have to suffer through another horrible Twilight film. Say what you will, the series has won a popular distinction two years in a row. It is the worst film of the year. Good job. If the preceding films are any indication, in all likelihood, there will be a three-peat. Hopefully next time, I can avoid this film when it appears in theaters as I sat next to a bald fifty year old man, who came to the movie by himself. People like that cannot be trusted.

See you next year.

Honorable Mentions:
Sucker Punch, I am Number Four, In Time

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Shell Shocked: A Vet returns to war to find things have changed...

Anyone remember “Married with Children”? If the answer is anything other than “Who the hell doesn’t remember Married with Children” then it is probably past your bedtime and I’m glad that I’ll be long gone when you have to deal with all of the social, economical, environmental problems that this generation has fostered. But I digress. I’ll continue as if none of you have seen this show. Married with Children was a sitcom that ran for almost the entire span of the 90’s and was arguably a pioneer in “edgy comedy” or what it’s known by in current times “A normal prime time comedy sitcom”. They pushed the limit as to what was acceptable to be shown on network television.

In the show, the protagonist (Al Bundy) goes through the motions as an under achieving husband and father that the every day American husband and father can relate to; Loves Beer, Football, and bars named after woman lady parts. Anyhow, one of the recurring themes of the show was how Bundy was a star high school quarterback and has since amounted into almost nothing; selling lady’s shoes to fat women. He often recalls his past time and of course does whatever he can whenever he can to relive it.

The thing that triggered this memory of the show in my head was my recent journey back into the world simply known as: Counter-Strike.

(If you don’t know what Counter-Strike is, just google it...If I try to explain that too this post will be too long for the simpletons to fact it probably already is...but it)

My first memory of Counter-Strike is a foggy one....I don’t remember the where and the when but I remember the why....It was easily the most entertaining and addictive game these two hands ever had the pleasure of fingering....(pun intended). It had only been several years since I got over my ‘Goldeneye 64” addiction but this...this was a whole other beast. If Goldeneye was Cocaine, Counter-Strike was heroin..mixed with crack...topped off with pcp...and a little Four Loko to chase it down with. I’m not even exaggerating either. I’ve lost friends, snubbed family members, and in all likelihood missed out on some primo college free lovin just to play CS. It was my life...and I was damn good at it.

As time went on though, and I rebuilt relationships and my social life...CS just kinda faded into the background and finally off my radar completely.

That is till a few weeks ago.

I received an email from the makers of Counter-Strike that they had released a newer updated version some time back and I could have it and relieve the magic for only 10 bucks (‘Hey Baby...just try a dime bag...come on). So i thought...why the hell not! 10 bucks is a whole lot cheaper that 60 bucks for MW3. So Boom. I pay. I download. I start playing.

And round after’s the same thing. Just utter pwnage. I’m talking some rounds and I don’t even get a shot off before I catch two in the noodle. It’s pretty much gang rape. I’m not even exaggerating. I’m talking about after i’m dead....getting my corpse spray painted on and then teabagged by opposing players.

Yes. You can do what appears to be the gay sexual act known as “teabagging” to corpse players. And I was violated in ways that aren’t appropriate even in Cell Block D in Pelican Bay. Don't believe me?

So here I sit before you, a beaten man. Pwned. Defeated. Teabagged. Repeatedly. A tired veteran with bad knees and slow clicking finger.

My only hope lies with one individual:

‘Avenge me, son....AVENGE ME!!!”

*Cough Cough.....*makes slow drawn out dying noises*...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

"All right, Mother, old Building and Loan pal, I think I'll go out and find a girl and do a little passionate necking": It's A Wonderful Life

Film Foray RETROspective no. Sept (Holiday Spectacular): It's A Wonderful Life

It's A Wonderful Life

For many, It's a Wonderful Life is simply a film to be watched at Christmas time or in the immortal words of Henry F. Potter, sentimental hogwash! To me, this film is neither of those, granted the last third of it is Christmas related. To pigeonhole this film to either of those categories is doing it a disservice and is a simplification of a rather deep film.

George Bailey (The incomparable Jimmy Stewart) is trapped in the small town of Bedford Falls and continually puts his family's savings and loan ahead of himself and his own ambitions. He eventually marries Mary Hatch (Donna Reed), a girl who has loved him his entire life while toiling away at said Building and Loan. George decides that he does not want to live once his uncle Billy loses 8,000 dollars which old man Potter (Lionel Barrymore) realizes is the exact thing he needs to ruin his nemesis. George ultimately sees the impact he has had on a multitude of people and decides that he wants to live again.

It's A Wonderful Life is without a doubt, the greatest movie ever. The argument does not even need to go further than Frank Capra or Jimmy Stewart. I am not being facetious. You want to know my favorite mov-- It's A Wonderful Life. I won't allow you to finish the question. Sorry for being rude but I just get excited is all.

As I mentioned earlier, the film tends to be pigeonholed or simplified to the last third of the movie but the film is deeper than that. It is quite progressive in the politics that flesh out the world of Bedford Falls. In fact, it is quite black and white, Potter and capitalism... Bad. George and the poor building and loan... Good. I say that it is progressive or liberal because it places much stock in the notion that all people are inherently good. Nothing exemplifies this more than the quote: "Why don't you go to the riffraff you love so much and ask them to let you have $8,000? You know why? Because they'd run you out of town on a rail." That is the most basic of liberal tenets and most importantly, it gets me every time.

Enough about politics (this is but a small reason as to why I love this film), I think the reason that I hold this film such a high regard is because there exists a world outside of what the camera shows the viewer. Capra (aided by the other three screenwriters) has an intrinsic ability for sucking the viewing into this world and for me, once the credits begin to roll, I am ready to reenter it. I have to confess though, this is true of all Frank Capra films and not unique to just It's A Wonderful Life. Do not believe me, check out, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, It Happened One Night or Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (God, I hate you, Adam Sandler). Perhaps, this notion is just me waxing poetic for a bygone age.

Listen to me prattle on. I will conclude by saying that even outside of my personal opinion this film is one of the greatest ever. Furthermore, it is a film that shows the impact or importance that a person has on one another and the inherent goodness of the individual. Is it a Christmas film with political and religious undertones, yes... Above all, it is damn good.

It Has Been Said Many Times, Many Ways... Merry Christmas. Play us home Santa.

It seems like it was almost yesterday since the holiday that time forgot. A month has past and a jolly old man with a beard has slide down our chimney's, stocked our stockings and left our trees flush with fantastic gifts. What can I say, even a grinch such as myself finds a way to get into the spirit of the season.

So, turn the volume up on those Christmas carols (play some Bing for your old pal, Manny), raise a glass of egg nog and let out a great cheer! For another year comes to a close with another drawing near. What possibilities that it holds. With that being said, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah (Fifth Night) and Happy (upcoming) Kwanzaa to all from your friends here at PORTEmaus (Manny, Bence, Hawk, Gonzi and Toddy).

Spreading the holiday cheer,

Christmas Wishes from Portemaus

Merry Christmas to all of you out there. It has been a crazy year and as its winding down we here at the Maus are ever so grateful for the amazing response we've received this year. You all have helped us in achieving Manny's dream of total information domination. Or at least got us one step closer. Anyway, as the local columnist on Food, fashion and film i felt it my duty to give you all some alternative choices this holiday season to some amazing Christmas films. Now I know all of you out there love It's a Wonderful Life, and with good cause it's a classic film in it's own right and one of Mr. Funkowitz's favorites. Or maybe one of the variations on A Christmas Carol is more your speed? or Miracle on 34th St(which by the way I work on 34th street and that Macy's is actually capable of miracles). Well those are all fine and feel good, but I'm here to give you some different choices, just as entertaining and awesome, but maybe a little different than you're used to.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale - Jalmari Helander
This is an amazing film. It is full of the same kind of childish wonder and joy and energy you would find in any other film. It talks about family coming together in a bind and ultimately being there for each other. It also tells the tale of Santa being found in in Finland frozen in the ground. As children start disappearing a group of local hunters capture Santa and hold him hostage against the company that was digging for him, little do they know Santa's elves are on their way to save their master, and this Santa punishes all those who are naughty. A deliciously twisted tale of Christmas, and full of creativity, definitely one of the more original films I've seen. For those who have an open mind you will LOVE this film. The cover likens the film to Bad Santa, but this is nowhere near THAT mean spirited, there is a Christmas story of redemption and family unity here, amidst the bloodthirsty elves and hostage taking.

The Ref - Ted Demme
This was a favorite of ours in the House of Bence. My mom and I used to watch this every year, and now I'm handing this tradition out to you all in the blogosphere. More hostage taking here, as Dennis Leary is a thief trying to get away on Christmas Eve and stumbles into a house and takes the husband and wife hostage. What follows is straight out of a sitcom as the husband and wife are endlessly bickering, with a mischievious son and an overbearing mother-in-law. This is great 90s dark comedy and Leary and Spacey are awesome together. Leary does tightly wound frustration to comedic perfection. And again, ultimately this is about family coming together to solve problems and help each other.

Gremlins - Joe Dante
Do you really need a reason? Little demons cause mischief and mayhem on Christmas Eve due to one lad's recklessness. The ultimate story of responsibility and consequences. Everyone knows Gizmo, but growing up man I loved Stripe. An awesome Christmas movie and a great horror movie that you can start younger kids on. Probably not for RC but in a few years he'll be ready for the awesomeness of Gremlins. Definitely a twisted take on what happens when you're naughty and not nice.

Merry Christmas everyone. Twincess and RC you guys are my world I hope today brings you everything you wanted, and in the case of RC I happen to know it does.


One last thought - my new Christmas fave, if only because RC and I discovered this together we watched this last night before we read The Night Before Christmas

Friday, December 23, 2011

Winter Preview UPDATE Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

You know when you watch a film and you can tell that the film will just get better and better every time you watch it. That somehow the director has tapped into celluloid biology and created a living thing that will evolve over time and give you something different each time you return to it. Tomas Alfredson had an amazing debut with Let The Right One In(brilliant vampire film, fuck you twilight I won't even capitalize your title), and boy does he deliver on the promise he created with his first film. Tinker Tailor is a meticulously crafted web of deceit and betrayal as Alfredson weaves his spy tale with the deft hand of a master composer. Rooted in an understated but brilliant performance by Gary Oldman as George Smiley coming out of retirement to find a mole on the circus(top echelons of British Intelligience), Alfredson's film is a magnificent success on all fronts. Brilliantly subtle script, amazing set design, beautiful cinematography and another stand out score from Alberto Iglesias.

Subtle is definitely the word for this film. No flash, no gadgets, this is manipulation, shady deals, wire tapping, false deaths and so on. Completely at the other end of the spectrum than Mission Impossible. The performances are no different. Everyone brings their A game with John Hurt in the lead as the cantankerous and absurdly paranoid Control. He starts this mission with a botched operation in Budapest where Mark Strong walks into the wrong cafe. Speaking of which, Mark Strong is not the bad guy and it is so refreshing to see him flex his wings on the other side of sin. He plays a great field agent and the parallels between his veteran agent and Tom Hardy's up and coming are brilliant. They are the two characters most driven by a moral code, seemingly following their heart more than anyone in the film, which leads to them being the most restless.

Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds, everyone brings their A game and in a story so complicated its amazing that each of them are memorable. Make no mistake, this is Oldman's film. He owns every frame he's in and half the time he doesn't even have any lines. Oldman has made understated brilliance with this character. He is just as deceitful and manipulative but he does it with such ease that he fools the audience most of the time. And behind those eyes we see all of his many years of service, we see his determination to bring down those who would ruin that which he devoted his life for. There is a lie he tells Tom Hardy at one point, and it is so heartless an done with such ease that you really see how amazing a spy Smiley is. It's a testament to Cumberbatch that he holds his own against Oldman playing his new partner, Cumberbatch proves he's not just Sherlock but turning in some solidly restrained work here.

Let The Right One In was a great film, but even it's detractors(crazy people mostly) can't deny Alfredson mastery of atmosphere. With the help of some immaculate set design Alfedson's film constantly takes us back to cold war era 70s and uses the setting to reflect the lives of our characters. Living in gorgeous locales with beautiful architecture, only to reveal forgettable rooms, hidden cameras, and listening devices. Nothing is ever as it seems in Alfredson's film. He captures a moment in time and then peels back the layers as our protagonist dig for the truth.

This is an incredible follow up and absolute announcement that Alfredson is a director to watch. Moody, expertly acted, brilliantly shot giving us the feeling of peering around corners, and a tight script make this one of the best of the year. If you love spy films, then you've already seen this and love it. Now it's just a matter of how high on the list it goes.


One last thought - Alberto Iglesias did the score for The Skin I Live In as well, and just like that film, his score reinforces everything you see on screen without ever distracting. It is at once beautiful and restrained, much like the film itself.

Monday, December 19, 2011

These Films Make Me Wonder Why I am not Pitching Film Ideas in Hollywood: The Ten Worst Films of 2011.

Like any other year in cinema, 2011 had its share of films that were good, mediocre and down right horrible. An interesting side note is that it also had the most amount of sequels (28) than any other year in cinematic history. This says a lot about the creative process in filmmaking today but I digress. Today, we are going to focus on those horrible films that for many reasons (After all, if there was only one reason, they would not be considered "horrible") are pure and utter crap. Last year, one movie occupied all ten spots... Will the same thing happen this year? For your consideration, in descending order, numbers 10 through 5:

10. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Where to begin, Dark of the Moon is not simply one of the worst films of the year, it is one of the worst things ever put to film (in its history). It is a systematic failure on all levels of the cinematic process. Not one piece of it works. I have sat through crap before and been upset but I have never left in a blind fury. It is one thing for Hawk and I to be upset about this movie but it is another for Lady Hawk and Funkowitz (two of the least cynical film viewers ever) to be relatively angry at what they saw.

09. Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part One
I do not know what is worse, the pain in my jaw from the removal of a wisdom tooth or spending the two hours enduring this wretched piece of shit. Oh, the things I do for Lady Funkowitz. This film has no redeeming characteristics. None. I suppose the blame has to rest solely with Stephanie Meyer and the source material. At no point in this series was there a compelling storyline. It speaks to the state of literature in America. Say what you will about Harry Potter but at least the books were well-written (for children's books) and they spawned decent adaptations (with the exception of films number one, two and four).

08. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
When I saw, "angry..." I mean, blind red fury. I am surprised that I did not rouse my children on the ride home. It was not that they ravaged an essential part of my childhood, it was the fact that they simply released a mess and acted like it was the best ever. I cannot stress this enough but not one part of the film worked. Let us examine this objectively beginning with the position of screenwriter. Ehren Kruger should not be allowed to pen a script ever again. The dialogue was atrocious, the characters unlikeable (some never properly introduced but then inexplicably killed) and the story downright incoherent. I asked who thought this was a good idea?

07. Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part One
Imagine sitting for two hours (in relative physical pain) and being forced to endure a film where next to nothing happens. It was (for lack of a better word) torture. I am biased in my opinion towards this franchise (I loathe it) and rightly so since (like Transformers) has nothing going for it. I must pose a serious question to you dear reader... How can an undead being have sex? I do not need to explain how sex works but a vampire does not have the necessary stuff to (literally) do it. Furthermore, how does a vampire have living semen if they are essentially dead physically? With this fact alone, this movie is just too ridiculous to be taken seriously and the opening credits have not even rolled yet.

06. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
I suppose I should touch on the acting of this film. Nobody was good. Nobody. You had Oscar winners (Frances McDormand), nominees (John Malkovich) and Yale graduates with master's degrees in drama (McDormand and John Turturro), who turned in quite possibly the worst performances of their careers. Also, if Ken Jeong does not perform in anything other than Community... I would be ok with that. Then there is Shia LaBeouf, well it looks like your "talent" has run its course buddy. I guess that is what happens when someone spends more time getting in grog fights than honing their "craft." Finally, you know who was amazing in this film? Megan Fox for showing that even she was above appearing this cinematic turd. Of course, this acting pales in comparison to the cringe worthy performances of our next film...

05. Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part One
Is there a worse acting trio than Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart? I would like someone to point them out to me. They are all one note, Pattinson can only breath out his mouth, Lautner has mastered the art of the "dumb look" and Stewart wishes she could do either of those things. You had a year to get lessons! You have to be making a mint starring in this series of turds, why not throw some money in the direction of the local learning annex. You might learn some useful tips there Robert like closing your mouth before a fly enters it. For those thinking that the bad acting of the three main characters would be offset by the dedication of the no-name actors comprising the supporting cast, you would be mistaken. That is, unless you consider Elizabeth Reasear's forehead or Billy Burke's mustache... Both of which stole the show. Watch out, Kevin Bacon's hair from X-Men: First Class, you have competition in the best supporting actor category of this year's Oscars.

Whew. That was almost as exhausting as watching these films. Why don't we hit up the lobby and get us some snacks? Meet back here in a few minutes... And Break!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Nerdlert # 10 Christmas List

One week to go and still looking for ideas? Well here's some ideas for the nerd geek film enthusiast comic dork on your list. Enjoy

The Postmortal
A cure for aging has been invented, but everything else can still kill you. This tale of a future where the world is not ending is full of religious cults, government funded euthanasia programs and general musings on the importance of a life lived. This came to me by recommendation and is a witty sly sci if tale of a different kind of dystopia. Without all the doom and gloom perhaps living forever can be the worst of all possible worlds. Reminded me of Good Omens in tone.

Murakami's latest opus is being praised as his masterpiece. For a man as accomplished as he this is indeed intriguing kudos. Following a young lady as she falls into an alternate reality this homage to 1984 is a journey through the fantastic and the surreal as only a craftsman like Murakami can deliver. Sure to be a hit with the reader in your crew.

The Black Mirror
Zack Snyder's run on Detective Comics gives Morrison's Batman and Robin some competition for best modern Batman series. Hands down a must read for any fan of Bats or comics in general. Snyder defines Grayson as Batman and gives him an epic crime saga in which we learn how Gotham distorts everything around us and we see just how different Dick is than Bruce under the cowl. The final issue in this trade is as good if not better than Batman and Robin 16.

20th century boys
Don't like Manga? This just might be the book to change your mind. The story follows a group of kids now adults as a string of murders seem to lead back to a strange occult reenacting the stories the kids made up when they were young. Filled with brilliant characterization and a labyrinthine mystery this is a wonderful alternative to the comic lover looking for something different than your average cape and tights. Did I mention that a bum is god? Well he'll never admit but he can see the future.

Gotta plug one of the best comic writers of the modern age. Morrison is obsessed with superheroes as archetypes and here he explores it in detail. Here he likens the heroes of today to a contemporary mythology. The guy knows how to write some amazing comics and I am always intrigued by what new idea he is placing forward, so if that sounds like someone you know then this is sure to be a winner.

Portemaus T Shirt
I can't think of a better shirt out there. Some nice advertising and it shows you're up to date with the latest all-stars on the blogosphere.

DC Comics for Converse
Kicks for the nerd in all of us.

This is a compilation of music, short films and stories and illustrations from Joseph Gordon-Levitt's passion project. Built around the idea of collaboration each "record" as he calls each piece is taken and remixed added too and retooled to get a finished project. Maybe someone starts off with a poem, then someone adds a painting with it, or maybe someone will take the poem and add music to it. There's a bit on the DVD that kinda captures this process in which they mess around with some work by Banksy. Ultimately the set I much more interesting as an experiment in inspiration than anything, but it is an interesting journey sifting through the various "records" here. The DVD has some great coverage of how everything gets put together, and the tiny stories are incredibly charming.

Tokyo Drifter
Seijun Suzuki is a badass of highly stylized violent yakuza awesomeness. His films pop off the screen with dripping cool and vibrant color mixed with stark contrast. There is a playfulness through his cinema that earns him the right to be referenced as part of the Japanese new wave. This film concerns an assassin hoping to leave the past behind but we all know where that leads us.

Battle Beyond The Stars
Camp classic is actually on blu. If big breasts on a spaceship or cel shaded lasers upset you than just move on to the next one. For the rest of you this is cinematic joy manifested into a Seven Samurai in space film. This is an awesome gift for the film buff in your crew with an open mind. Those who will, will frakking love this film. Here's my original thoughts.

The Last Circus
This is an insane piece of absurdist cinema. Set against the last years of the fascist regime in Spain, this is a story of two clowns on opposite sides as they fight for the love of the oversexed acrobat. Add into that soldiers drafting clowns to fight in the revolution, a clown lost in the woods feeding off the land, bleaching your face in captivity for permanent clown make up before going on a massacre. It's so hard to describe the insanity in this film, because any time I try I become an incoherent mess, while Alex De La Iglesia never misses a beat. His story moves at a breakneck pace and he manages to create narrative unity as everything flows into the next without feeling out of place or disjointed. Insane? Yes but never confusing. Another gem that anyone would be happy to discover.

Now you can have your very own Sackboy from one of the most creator games on the Playstation. This guy rocks and now if only there was a way to change his skin at will.

Ghostbusters bishoujo
For Manny Funkowitz and Toddy

Giant Angry Bird
Admit it. You want this. At least for a few days while you and your friends throw this at each other knocking over everything in its path. Just for a few days to beat the shit out of your friends with a giant stuffed bird.

Lego light saber
Holy shit. Grade school Bence would've flipped for this build you own lightsaber kit. The thing lights up and comes with different lights so you can pick which color light saber you want. Quite possibly the coolest Lego set I've seen with the caption that it will teach your kids about light. Dude it a frakking lightsaber that you build out of Legos. Best stocking stuffer of the year.


One last thought - I just saw this. If this comes out here in America then everyone should know what's number one on my list

Friday, December 16, 2011

Winter Preview UPDATE Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol

Well it seems Brad Bird really is THAT talented. Working with Bad Robot, Bird continues where JJ left off, making sure there's an actual story and character involved with this race against time in the realm of modern super spies. I love some spy movies, whether it's the hush hush battle for information like The Spy Who Came In From The Cold or the absurdly bombastic gadget filled adventure like Mr. Hunt here. I mentioned earlier that I didn't care too much for the first two Mission movies, with JJ being the only director who seemed to be able to make me care about what was going on. Bird steps in and just blows everyone away. I like Abrams film but Bird takes everything to the next level
without sacrificing story and coherence. Is the film going to win any awards? Absolutely not, but this is not just a brain dead film with robots going boom boom. Let's elaborate for a bit.

Tom Cruise is Ethan Hunt. Even in the first two films you could tell Cruise was passionate about the role. Here he excels better than I've seen him in recent years. You can tell how much fun he's having throughout the whole film and he nails the simple confidence with ease. Even so much as letting the slightest bit if worry grace his face when the odds seem so dire.

What's even more exciting is they finally have a team that can toe to toe with Ethan. Everyone is a great developed character that we invest in. Simon Pegg gets a well deserved upgrade from the last film and brings some comic relief without being out of place. Paula Patton is the female of the group and she plays her insecurities well making her vulnerable and relatable. I love that when it comes time to do some seducing she begins to struggle. Renner was the assumed future Ethan Hunt, and I say I would much rather have them have future adventures as partners. There is just the slightest bit of friction between and they play off of each other wonderfully. Renner dials back the intensity until it comes time to explode and he unleashes how badass he is. Now Gosling had a similar scene in Drive, with Gosling winning the award for subtle performance. But then this isn't that kind of movie. After seeing Renner have some zero g acrobatics(in a modern homage to the first Mission movie) my new dream is for him to go head to head with Levitt.

Bird is really the star of this one though. He brings the sense of adventure from The Incredibles and somehow adapts those insane situations to real life. The movie starts off roaring out the gate with a brief but exciting turn by Josh Holloway, which just reinforced how badass Sawyer is. He films his action scenes with coherent view points and motivation. He plays the tension. Constantly reminding us of Ethan's humanity. The scene from the poster with Ethan climbing te largest building in the world is incredibly well done. Bird takes full advantage of the IMAX technology bringing you into the screen with Cruise. He shoots it so well you begin to thin you're going to take the 130 story fall with him. Obviously it won't go smoothly, but bird keeps you guessing an when Ethan has to make a (ahem) leap of faith I actually gasped which caught me off guard. He leaps from set piece to set piece with ease as Ethan and crew try to stop nuclear war while on the run from Russian police who think they blew up the Kremlin.

A triumphant move to live action for Brad Bird. He keeps an immense scale throughout the whole film while never forgetting to remind us that these are people with flaws and fears. Like I said its not going to win any awards but is a fine example of how to do blockbuster cinema and further proof that you don't need to treat your audience like idiots. Tin Tin comes out next week and I'm excited to see Spielberg return to worldwide adventure story. From the trailers alone he seems more passionate about this than the last Indiana film. Here's hoping he doesn't get shown up by a writer for the Simpsons.


One last thought - the prologue? An amazing tease of the scale we are about to
witness. Bane is incredibly cool and menacing, yah it was hard to hear him but the mix was booming so loud some of the people without masks were being drowned out. His voice is as cool as everyone says, and when you see the type of violence and mayhem he causes you realize if Joker was evil incarnate, Bane is a representation of pure destructive force. When the Batman music began at the end of the prologue and we get some quick glimpses of the film I cannot explain the amount of need I had for new pants. Here's Hawk's much more in depth coverage.

Weekly Wish List 12/13 French Films and the Yakuza

Ya ya I'm late as usual lots of stuff these past two weeks so here we go.

Rapt - Lucas Delvaux
French hostage movie about an aristocrat who gets captured and as the movie unfolds secrets boil to the surface. The French do these dark and gritty crime thrillers with great style, word on this one is no different. From one of the soldiers in Joyeux Noel, I'm sure I'll be checking this out soon.

Point Blank - Fred Cavaye
Ok so I stumbled across that top film after looking up this film. This played to great acclaim at the festival circuit earlier this year. It had a short run in New York an I'm sad I never got a chance to catch it. This is supposed to be a great thriller about a nurse who saves a guy who ends up being a crime boss and his lackeys kidnap his wife(the incredibly beautiful Elena Anaya) so the nurse will help the crime boss escape.

Histoires du Cinema - Jean-Luc Godard
Hands down my favorite director of all time. The guy still is churning out work as experimental and esoteric as ever. This is the history of cinema as seen through the eyes of a master filmmaker. Or maybe its the history through the eyes of cinema? Either way Godard pieces together bits of film from across the years to give you statements on his views of life such as "we are one another" and such. If you can find a copy do yourself a favor and check it out. Me, I'm hoping the local video jobber has it in stock.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes - Rupert Wyatt
I really had no desire to see this when it hit theaters. I was never a huge fan of the original and Tim Burton really wasn't doing anyone any favors. Although thanks to Hawk, apparently Burton's absurdly confusing ending is much more inline with the actual source material. Anyway once the film was released word came out that the film was amazing with Oscar caliber work from Serkis. Some big claims but from enough sources to spark my interest and then the topper was our very own Hawk giving us his seal of approval. Really looking forward to this, my compatriots have some decent taste even if it seems we don't see eye to eye a lot of the time.

Tokyo Drifter - Seijun Suzuki
If you haven't seen the films of Suzuki then be prepared to be smacked in the face by an overwhelming amount of cool. He is considered Japanese New Wave and if you an imagine what Godard would do with a yakuza film then you can get an idea of the type of talent you're dealing with here. I'm sure his film pops off the screen in blu ray. Plot? It a yakuza film so you know it's something about a badass trying to get out and being pulled back on. But if that's what you're looking for the you're missing the point completely. Branded to Kill was also released this week, honestly both are amazing. My personal favorite is Youth of the Beast but these two are amazing pieces of cinematic energy.

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame - Tsui Hark
This barely didn't make the cut for my fall wish list. Hark is another master of grandiose Asian Cinema. He plays with fantasy and warriors and here he makes gives Sherlock Holmes a sword to play with. This film follows Dee as he tracks a series of murders that seem to be halting a the coronation of a new female emperor With Andy Lau in the lead I strongly suggest watching this and the new Guy Ritchie film as an awesome Movie Night.


One last thought - this came out this past week and it is one of the strangest films I've ever seen. For the life of me I don't understand why they literally made the same movie again, and not just repeating what worked the first time but beat for beat the same film. Even Bradley Cooper confessing they messed up while Ed Helms works it out in his head what really happened. So confused.