Monday, June 17, 2013

Man of Steel

Man of Steel - *1/2

Directed by: Zack Snyder

Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Laurence Fisburn, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane

Review: Focus. It’s a factor of human existence.  Millions take prescription drugs on a daily basis to ensure we can focus enough just to make it through our lives. It’s a necessity. Based on ‘Man of Steel’ the ability to focus is looked upon as an advantage that our protagonist has because of his upbringing on this planet.  

Unfortunately, this is just one of many areas in which the creators of this movie demonstrate a lack of understanding of this character and what makes him interesting. They share this struggle with many others who have tried to bring the American icon to life both in comics and movies. Like Marvel’s ‘Hulk,’ ‘Superman’ may one day find itself as one of the hardest properties to do justice on the big screen.

Think about the original 1978 version. If you take away the wonder it created--”you will believe a man can fly”--you are left with a movie that’s only mildly entertaining.  Revisionist history and fortunate timing--as one of the first major comic book movies released--have turned that version of ‘Superman’ into a film that often warms the cockles of many hearts, though not their minds.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers - ***

Directed by: Harmony Korine

Starring: Venessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, James Franco, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, Gucci Mane

Review: Lights. Breasts. Sand. Booze. Water. Waves. Money. Drugs. Rap. Sex. Limits. Gluttony. Pride.  ‘Spring Breakers’ is about all of these things and none of these things.  Like a flag swirling in a harsh wind, the full picture is hard to see, but you will get snippets of every little piece. Some longer than others, and not always together, but all will be revealed.
Like a rite of passage every March brings with it another spring break, a cauldron of false hope wrapped in temptation. Only this rite doesn’t involve a test of strength or of acumen, but reality.  How far are some willing to let reality go?  On a space station orbiting above Earth, how long are some willing to let themselves tether out?  Some will pull back on the cord before it even goes taut. Some will let it completely unfurl, almost to the point of snapping, before coiling themselves back to safety.  Some will let it go all the way and then cut it themselves.  

Reality is a tensile object.  A fickle mistress that affects the millenial generation insomuch as reality only exists to the extent of the moment you’re in.  Only problem is that whatever reality that is, some other reality somewhere else is always better.  Or at least, you can convince yourself of such things.  It’s a blessing and a curse of the generation to never settle.  Seeing their forebearers chug through life putting some facets of happiness aside in order to provide for their families and complete a job well done has only gone to make sure they never have to compromise on anything.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

2013 Oscar Diary

Here it is.  My fourth annual ‘Oscar Diary.’  This is one of my most fun posts of the year.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  Without further adieu…
7:18 - Thoughts so far from the Red Carpet: Charlize Theron is one of the few women who can wear a pixie cut and still be absolutely gorgeous. Well played.  Kelly Rowland is trying to give Beyonce a run for her money in the thigh department.  Jessica Chastain solidified why my crush on her only continues to grow.  As if George Clooney didn’t give a man enough to be jealous about he continues to gallivant around town with Stacey Kiebler.  Daniel Day-Lewis is my hero, the dude is all class and just plain awesome.  Now, I’m curious how Seth McFarlane will do as host and just how far they will let him go.
Kelly Rowland
7:22 – Kristen Chenowith has the most annoying voice I have ever heard.  Seriously, it’s piercing.
7:24 – Renee Zellwegger is being interviewed, I’m really glad she has gotten over her skeletor phase.   It just wasn’t working for her.
7:30 – Here we go…I hope that Tommy Lee Jones is amused.
7:31 – I totally called that one, Seth McFarlane just stole my joke about Tommy Lee Jones.
7:32 – McFarlane says they’re celebrating “Music in Film???” Does that mean more interpretive dance???
7:32 – Ben Affleck not getting a director nod-joke.  Too soon, Seth.  Too soon.
7:34 – Well the first slavery joke has arrived…at least there’s no Billy Crystal black-face…yet.
7:36 – Oh good Lord, William Shatner?  Is it too early to call it?  The Academy Awards have jumped the shark.
7:37 – How did they leave out Anne Hathaway in the “I Saw Your Boobs” song? I think it’s written in to her contract in every movie.  She’s even nominated and they mentioned Michelle Williams in Brokeback Mountain in which Hathaway also showed her boobs.  Not sure what’s more sad, that I’ve argued this for a paragraph or that I know this pointless knowledge?  Wait—don’t answer that.
7:40 – Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum dancing?  That doesn’t count as interpretive dance.
7:41 – You know what?  I would actually pay to see ‘Flight’ done completely with sock puppets.  That was phenomenal.
7:47 – The “I hope Joaquin Phoenix is on his meds joke” was a low-blow.  But seriously, I hope he’s on his meds.
7:51 – Best Supporting Actor – I predict Tommy Lee Jones for this one.  But really, anybody could win, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman might just pull it off.  He would be deserving.  Christoph Waltz???  No way.  The dude has been in Hollywood for like four years and he’s got two Oscars now?  The only thing this means is that he HAS to make ‘DJesus Uncrossed’ now.  Has to.
I’m 0-1.
7:55 – This Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy bit is awkward. That might be the point, but it’s not funny.  And I’m a fan of both of these people.
7:57 – ‘Paperman,’ Yes!  Truly fantastic short, I recommend you watch it if you haven’t already.  It’s only six minutes or so of your life.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
7:59 – This was only a so-so year for animated movies, I want Frankenweenie to win, but Wreck it Ralph probably will.
‘Brave’ takes it home based on Pixar’s reputation alone.  And this guy is actually wearing a kilt.  Well, it’s the Oscars.
8:05 – ‘The Avengers’ gives the Oscars their first gimmick appearance.  Not sure what Samuel L. Jackson is wearing but it looks like he stole it from Mark Mangino.
Holy crap!  It’s one of the White Walkers from the Game of Thrones!  The second gimmick appearance!  Oh wait—it’s just the guy who won for best cinematography.  Nevermind.
8:10 – I’m betting ‘Life of Pi’ won for best Visual Effects because that’s the only movie of that category the voters had seen.
On a separate note, is this the coming of a ‘Life of Pi’ upset for best picture?  Only one other movie has won 6 Oscars and not won best picture, and were I a better writer I would have that movie for you.  But if you’re reading this, you already know that’s not true.
8:16 – Channing Tatum talking about waxing...remember the jump the shark comment I made earlier?
I really do think that they make these Russian period pieces just so they can win best costume design every year.  It’s a monopoly, really.
8:19 – Ok, I get the whole “I’m an artist I’m going to individualize myself” and all that, but this woman is seriously wearing hot pink tights on stage in front of one billion people.  Well, at least she won’t be reminded of this moment for the rest of her life.
8:21 – Why hello there, Halle Berry’s boobs.  And she just said “Pussy Galore” emphasizing the “Pussy” part.  Glad to see we’re at a point in our society where we don’t have to resort to sex to sell things anymore.  Way to go us.
8:23 – There have been some good Bond movies, but this ’50 years of Bond’ montage sure makes some of them look awfully cheesy.
You know, I’d rather see every James Bond movie expressed through the majesty of interpretive dance.  And we all know that the only reason they introduced singing here is so they could get Adele on stage.  She’s so courageous you guys.
I stand corrected, no Adele on stage.  She’ll be on later though, I’m sure.
8:31 – She’s wearing a weird dress but Kerry Washington is stunning.  That is all.
8:33 – My girlfriend turns to me and says “I have a long history of being able to guess the winner of best short film just from the clips” “Oh do you?” I say this ‘Henry’ short will win” “No, it will be ‘Curfew,’” she says.  “We will see.”  It is ‘Curfew.’  Damn.  Someday I will reclaim ownership of my balls.
8:37 – Funny that Seth McFarlane calls Liam Neeson “the definition of the modern American superhero” in that Neeson isn’t American.
8:40 – Damn, Lincoln was a good movie.
8:41 – Wow, the Lincoln-Booth joke by McFarlance and then he even acknowledges the “150 years is still too soon, huh?”
8:43 – Ben Affleck fires back!  “Thought the show was going well, Seth.  Maybe you can still turn it around.”  Fantastic.
8:44 – ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ better win for best documentary.
YES!  ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ was so freaking good.  Haven’t seen the others, but this one was just phenomenal.  Best Picture of the year for me, documentary or no.
8:45 – Is the “Jaws theme to kick you off the stage” thing supposed to be funny?  Cause it’s more likely cruel, but what do I know?
8:49 – Oh, Jessica Chastain.  That girl is on fire.
Hmm…I wonder if the movie nominated for Best Picture will be the one to win ‘Best Foreign Film?’  Hmmm.
AMOUR WON? I’M SHOCK—I’m not shocked at all.  Is this guy the new Roberto Begnini?  If so, I will be very upset, one Roberto Begnini was enough.
8:52 – Good Lord, I hate musicals.  This is pure torture.
Things I’d rather do than watch a musical:
-Stab myself repeatedly in the eye with a broken shard of glass.
-Clean up my dogs poop.
-Eat nothing but Cottage Cheese for a year.
-Bang my head into a brick wall.
-Watch Billy Crystal talk to Justin Beiber in black-face from last years Oscars again.
-Dig myself out of 15” of snow again.
-Become a Broncos fan—ok, I’d rather watch a musical than do this.  I feel dirty just typing it.
-Watch Hugh Jackman in ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ again.
-Watch the Chiefs 2012 season on a loop for eternity.
-Shave my beard.  And for anybody that knows, that is saying a lot.
9:10 – YES!  The Oscars aren’t complete without a Zoe Saldana sighting.  She’s a unicorn.  Indeed.
9:11 – TED is freaking awesome.  Sorry, I’m not sorry, I enjoyed the movie.
9:15 – A TIE!!!  Holy Crap, I’ve always wanted to see a tie at the Oscars.  Don’t know if this has happened in my lifetime.  After some quick twitter research, it appears this is the first tie since 1994 for (short film).  But now I’m seeing conflicting reports.  Report remains unconfirmed.
9:19 – Never a bad thing when Christopher Plummer is around.  Not many 80-year-old badasses around, but the man is most definitely one of them.
9:20 – Best Supporting Actress – I’m guessing that Sally Field takes this home, but this is always the most unpredictable category.  Damn.  Anne Hathaway, I freaking knew this would happen.  At least I’ve seen her boobs.
I’m 0-2.
9:32 – Best Editing, this is actually often a predictor of Best Picture winner.  Not fool-proof, but one of the leading indicators.  Aaaannnddd this is where ‘Argo’ begins to takeover on its way to its undeserved Best Picture victory.
9:34 – If Jennifer Lawrence isn’t careful she is going to creep onto my Unicorn list.
9:35 – What’d I say about Adele?  She’s so courageous.
9:44 – Nicole Kidman’s forehead may be more stiff than Tommy Lee Jones sense of humor, but I still think she’s hot.
9:47 – I’m still amazed that Kristin Stewart went from androgynous looking teenager in ‘Panic Room’ to the actually-hot-although-usually-drunk-in-public-and-maybe-high semi-babe she is now.
9:50 – I love when people say “I’m totally unprepared for this” and give an incredibly lucid, well-formed speech.  That said, the guy who won for ‘Lincoln’ gave an excellent speech.
9:51 – Not sure how old Salma Hayak is, but she never gets old if you know what I’m sayin.
9:57 – If, one day in the future of my most wild dreams, I were to have a beard as glorious as George Clooney’s, I would not fret at such things.  It would be a time for rejoicing.
10:01 – This is really happening?  Barbara Streisand is on my TV right now?  Talk-singing about memories she had with other famous people?  Well then, it is the Oscars.
10:08 – What are the odds Richard Gere has banged every woman he’s on stage with right now? (Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellwegger, and Queen Latifah).    I’m gonna go 5:2.  I’ll bet that he has and I’ll gladly take your money.
10:11 – ‘Lie of Pi’ wins Best Original Score and continues to make things interesting for Best Picture.  This is probably the closest race in years.  Who knows who will win at this point.  Smart money is still on Argo but there’s plenty of game left to play.
10:15 – ‘Skyfall’ wins for best song.  Was there ever any doubt on that one?  Adele is so courageous.
10:22 – Oh, well hello there again, Halle Berry’s boobs.
10:23 – Best Adapted Screenplay – If I had my druthers I would pick ‘Lincoln,’ but I think it will actually be ‘Argo.’  Knew it.  I’m 1-3 now.  And Argo begins its tear.
10:26 – I desperately want ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ to win for Best Original Screenplay and it won’t but I predict it anyway.  And ‘Django Unchained’ wins.  Solid.  Tarantino does have a talent for writing.  Boom, Tarantino lays it down “no, no, I’ll get off…but first!”
10:33 – Best Director – I’m predicting Steven Spielberg here and I would be really happy with that as I am an unabashed Spielberg fanboy.
Ang Lee wins!  Number two for him.  Does Life of Pi sneak in for the Best Picture victory?
10:41 – Best Actress.  I’m going to go with the popular logic here and go with Emanuelle Riva, but I want Chastain to win because, well, there are a lot of things I want from Jessica Chastain…but I digress.
Wow, Jennifer Lawrence takes it home.  That was my initial reaction and I went with popular logic, but should have gone with who I thought originally.  My girlfriend and I watched ‘Winter’s Bone’ again the other day and said she would probably win for ‘Silver Linings Playobook’ even though she truly “earned” it years before with ‘Winter’s Bone.’  I’m a sad 1-6 now.
10:45 – Best Actor.  Daniel Day-Lewis better win.  His performance as Lincoln was just amazing.  BUT, if he doesn’t win, Denzel Washington gave the next best performance in my opinion and deserves the award.  If either wins they take home a bit of history tying for most all time for an actor with their third win.  Sidenote: are they really giving away the ending to ‘Flight’ with Washington’s clip?
Daniel Day-Lewis!!!!  BOOM.  That’s how it’s done.  Greatest actor of our generation.  Making history as the first man ever to win three Oscars in the Best Actor category, as the others to win—Jack Nicholson and Jimmy Stewart, if memory serves—won one of theirs in the Best Supporting Category.
10:52 – Best Picture.  I’m guessing this will go to ‘Argo’ but I think it should go to ‘Lincoln.’  Although don’t count out the darkhorse now of ‘Life of Pi.’
‘Argo.’  I freaking knew it.  I learned years ago to not be shocked by these types of things when it comes to the Academy.  Argo is probably the fourth or fifth most remembered film this year.  I’m 3-8 after this.
11:05 – Final thoughts:  I don’t know that the Oscars can possibly direct who they want to win with such a large and unwieldy body of voters.  However, if they could, they might have wanted it to go exactly like this.  Six different movies in the six major awards, Les Miserables, Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook, Lincoln, Life of Pi, and Argo all represented.  In the past things were too predictable.  Everyone knew ‘The Artist’ was going to win last year and ‘The King’s Speech’ the year before.  Finding a way to spread things out and get some love for all the movies allowed all watchers to have something to enjoy.  Who knows if the ratings will reflect it, but it definitely made for an interesting race.  Didn’t want ‘Argo’ to win, but I’m fine with everything.  At least Daniel Day-Lewis won.
"Argo F*** all you DDL hater's out there."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty - **1/2

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Ehle, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Joel Edgerton

Review: By conventional math it took nearly 10 years to catch Osama Bin Laden.  By the math of what it took in manpower and the toll on the individuals involved in “the greatest manhunt in history” it was much longer.  The constant weight of something of this nature will age you much more than the traditional year would.

This is what ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ is about, the people who gave up more than 10 years of their lives (and in some cases their lives altogether) for this 10 year search.  It was an all-encompassing, life-altering ordeal that ended, as we all know, in one of the seminal moments in this country’s post 9/11 history.  It was a “cut the head off the snake” move, but it was also a message to the terrorists of the world that America would fight back...and wouldn’t stop.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Skyfall - ****

Directed by: Sam Mendes

Starring: Daniel Craig, Naomie Harris, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes

Review:  James Bond movies are always difficult to review.  They have to be taken into account as stand alone pieces, but to ignore what we already know of Bond and his story is to ignore so much of what makes the character on screen who he is.  Starting with ‘Casino Royale’ they makers of the James Bond movies have really tried to re-establish the genre.  While maintaining some of the “cheekiness” that has made Bond so identifiable, they have also tried to steer the films into the darker arena.

Skyfall represents a new page being turned for Bond bringing him nearly to the point where we always know him to be.  Along the way the film makes subtle nods to the Bond we previously knew, while showing enough to prove to us that this one is different.

As far as Bond movies go, each actor has a different take on the titular super spy.  All bring something new and unique to the table adding their own little piece of history to the character.^  What typically separates one Bond movie from the other is the plot and the villain.  In both cases, Skyfall is, as Bond would say, “top draw.”


Flight - ***1/2

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Starring: Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly, Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood

Review: The airline industry has always been a subject of fascination for me.  It’s such a necessity for the American way of life but is possibly one of the worst run and most horribly inefficient industries in the country.  It’s one of the safest forms of travel on the planet, yet when even the slightest thing goes wrong its national news.  Flying as a form of travel is in the unique position to affect so many people in any given mishap that it we have no choice but to pay attention.  So many lives on any given flight and it all rests in the hands of men and women who are flawed but stitched together with good intentions just like the rest of us.

Whip Whitaker is one of those people.  He is good at what he does, enjoys what he does, but his life and abilities as tools for his own self-destruction.  He lives his life on the quintessential razor’s edge.  On one side is full on belligerent junkie, the other upstanding citizen and excellent pilot.  Depending on the day and the hour he might be teetering towards one or the other.Whip is a man who gives the impression of choosing his own fate.  Addiction and problems aren’t things that he is fighting so much as they are enabling him to live the life he wants to live.

After Whip, we are introduced to Nicole.  She seems to live her life on that very same razor’s edge.  For her though, this isn’t a choice but a prison.  Nicole doesn’t want to be where and who she is but finds the harder she tries to dig herself out the further down she goes.  Nicole is in a desperate attempt to get out of the rut her life is in.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Django Unchained

Django Unchained - ***

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington

Review:  As a director Quentin Tarantino has made his living with movies about other movies.  Not in the ‘Scream’ sense where a movie is cutesily aware of itself, but movies that take a genre, dive in, bath in it, relish it, and make no apologies.  Tarantino uses many things that were invented and used long before he arrived in films, but as with many things it’s not necessarily the tool but the craftsman.  You can copy somebody else so long as the execution is as good if not better.  That is where Tarantino excels.  

‘Django Unchained’ takes many of the former genre’s he has delved into and mashes them together with a new trick up his sleeve to turn this into one of the most entertaining, if not slightly flawed films of the year.  The exploitation of ‘Jackie Brown’ and the loose historical context of ‘Inglorious Basterds’ are glued together with a Kill-Bill-Homage-to-Kurosawa like rendition of a Sergio Leone spaghetti western.

The opening scene is nearly taken straight out of ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’ and he makes no qualms about the movies he will borrow from.  It also serves to let the audience know that while this movie has a distinctly Tarantino feel to it, there will be no punches pulled.  This is not for the weak of stomach or the easily offended.  Then again, Tarantino didn’t make a name for himself playing by the rules.