Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Vulgar (2000)

Taylor: It's official. I've outgrown the View Askewiverse.

Vulgar is a movie produced (but not directed) by Kevin Smith and his friend Scott Mosier. Starring many of the actors from Smith's other movies, Vulgur is a movie about a loser who is a clown at children's parties. Falling deeper in debt, he decides to expand his business to bachelor parties. His first job ends in him being sexually assaulted (in complete clown and nighty attire) by a father and his two sons. The rest of the movie shows how he copes with the assault, starts to gain success and seeks revenge against the men who took his...um, dignity?

The film looks like every other mid 90's independent film. Poorly shot, badly acted and just...tragic. This film is supposed to be a comedy of sorts, but let's face it - rape is never funny, clown makeup or not. Many of the scenes following the assault remind me of short one acts that I did in my college acting class, and are so over the top that you find yourself wanting to skip to the next scene. I stopped myself from doing that because I was always such a big Kevin Smith fan. I kept thinking to myself, "No one would say those sentences that way unless they were written for them." I still consider Chasing Amy to be one of my favorite movies, but even I can recognize that Smith and his cohorts are a one trick pony of a production company.

Vulgar gets one pug.

Bigger, Stonger, Faster (2008)

Taylor: Bigger, Stronger, Faster speaks to my demographic as a child (particularly, a boy) of the 1980s. I am about the same age as the filmmaker, Chistopher Bell, and can see where he got the idea for making a movie about the images that he saw as a child of big muscled action heroes and professional wrestlers, and how those images stayed with him and his brothers. The film talks about the use of steroids and, like all good documentaries should, never gives you a clear sense of pro vs. con. At times you almost feel as though he is giving you reasons why everyone should take steroids, then comes back to showing some of the devastating effects the drugs have had on his family, in particular, his older brother.

The film doesn't stop at steroids. It talks about national perception as a whole, and how the images for men have changed dramatically over the last 30 years, from Popeye the Sailor to guys like the Situation from Jersey Shore. He spends a lot of time showing how "juicing" has changed baseball, and how athletics has gone from "fair play" to "whatever it takes."

I'm glad that I finally was able to watch this documentary, and if you are anything like Taffy, who loves documentaries (and has told me that she loves this one), then you will like this film. Now available on Netflix.

Plus, it doesn't hurt that Chris Bell is kinda hot. Bigger, Stronger, Faster gets 5 pugs.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Then She Found Me (2007)

Taylor: So let me see if I got this straight. Helen Hunt directed herself in a movie where she plays a jewish woman who finds out her real mother is Bette Midler. She's also married to Matthew Broderick, but he leaves her ten minutes into the movie, and she starts sleeping with Colin Firth, who is the father to one of her 1st grade students. And there is supposed to be comedic elements to this. Hm. Ok. Sure.

Then She Found Me is Hunt's directorial debut and while it had a few (and I mean few) fine moments in it, the film is, for the most part, boring as hell. The only direction I can see she gave the other actors (and herself) is to act with as little emotion as possible. Ninety percent of the film has all the main characters acting very flat. When they are happy, they don't smile. When they cry, no tears. When they're angry, they stand still. I am not sure if this is supposed to be symbolic of April (Hunt's) standing in life, or midlife crisis, or what, but it grows wearisome over time. The story, based on a 1990 book by Elinor Lipman, has the main characters all making really, really stupid decisions that don't even seem to make sense from a dramatic point of view. Characters lie, sleep with each other, demand money...it would be confusing if it weren't so damn dull. You have someone like Bette Fucking Midler on your movie, you make sure you give her at least one chance to chew up the scenery at least a little bit. Here, she comes off as grating and selfish...but we don't understand why.

If you're looking for a movie about adult children finding their birth parents, rent or watch Flirting With Disaster. At least that one has Mary Tyler Moore giving a blowjob in it.

Then She Found Me gets 1 pug.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hot Fuzz (2007)

Taylor: Hot Fuzz is one of those movies that you kinda go into expecting to like, then aren't sure if you like it, then you end up loving it. Simon Pegg plays Nicholas Angel, a London police officer that is so great at his job, they reassign him to the small quaint village of Sandford. Bored at first with all the small town charm and nothing to do, he very quickly finds himself investigating a conspiracy where the townspeople are being murdered...and their neighbors are the suspects.

My only complaint about the film involves the sound. The sound effects and sound are so loud at times that you have to turn down the volume, but then you can't hear/understand the very heavy accents on the village residents (I eventually gave up and put the subtitles on). The film is a comedic homage to all the big 90's Michael Bay style cop buddy movies, and Pegg and his partner Nick Frost are great! Wonderful Chemistry and Frost is cuddly and charming as Angel's simple and loyal constable, Butterman.

The final action sequence is over the top, but it works and made me laugh out loud on several occasions. If you like smart action movies that make fun of dumb action movies, then rent Hot Fuzz.

I give Hot Fuzz 4 Pugs.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hard Candy (2005)

Taylor: I was told I HAD to see Hard Candy by a certain podcasting cohost of mine, who watched it one night, riveted to her seat. Wanting to not take forever, like I often do with movies, and wanting to model good movie recommendation behavior for Miss Huffington (Taffy, how'd you like Big Night?), I moved the movie up to the top of my Metflix Queue. Pizza in hand, I turned off the lights and pressed play on the PS3.

For those of you not in the know, Hard Candy tells the tale of Hailey, a 14 year old middle schooler, (Ellen Page) and Geoff, a 32 year old photographer (Patrick Wilson) who talk online and decide to meet in a cafe. After their online flirting turns to face to face flirting, the two end up back and Geoff's place, drinks are consumed, cameras are pulled out, shirts are taken off....then it gets intense.

Let's just say the tables get turned.

I don't want to say too much about the movie. I'm not even going to post the trailer because I don't want to give anything away. I will say this though. I don't think my heart stopped pounding in my head for 90 minutes. While the film borders on cliche with some of the suspense, it never quite goes over the top, and a few times when you think you see something coming, it makes a quick veer into the unexpected. While Taffy said on PiMC that she felt both of the primary actors should have been nominated for Oscars, I wouldn't go QUITE that far. Both Page and Wilson (who manages to look juuuuuust creepy enough with his beard whiskers and rectangular glasses.)

If you enjoy a GOOD suspense film, grab a handful of Hard Candy! Puns are fun!

Hard Candy gets four pugs

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

In attempt to acquaint myself with some of the classics of Hollywood, I added a few well known and loved movies to the Netflix queue and hope to find that I loved them as well. While the Disney animated classics are a given, I thought I would broaden my horizons a little with what felt like a no brainer, The Philadelphia Story. The romantic comedy stars Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart as a socialite, her ex-husband and a writer/reporter. With a cast like this, it CAN'T go wrong, right?
I can honestly say that this is the first movie where I was ACTUALLY following the timeline of the movie, waiting for the wedding scene to happen at the end so that it would be over. It's HORRIBLE!
First of all, it didn't help that I had a crappy version of the film on DVD. I had to turn up my volume almost to full capacity to hear what they were saying. But then when I DID listen to the dialogue, I almost wanted to just turn it back down again. It was a lot of yammering and endless conversations that go NOWHERE. Is Tracy Lord (Hepburn) an "Ice Princess?" Does Dexter (Grant) love Tracy still, or will she end up with Connor, who is kinda dating his photographer/partner in crime Liz (Ruth Hussey, the only positive I could find in the acting category)? No one save Liz is likable in any way - they are all boring and bored with each other. People go from flirting to fighting back to flirting and it makes no sense.
I hoped that if there was one bright spot in an otherwise bleak movie it would be the costumes. It's a movie in the 40s about rich people - expect some glamrous outfits, right? Wrong. The most glamorous ensemble Hepburn wears is a wrap/towel thing (with shoulder pads, natch) when she decides to take a dip in the pool. She literally, changes from regular clothes into her bathing suit, then puts on the wrap, talks to Stewart, takes OFF the wrap, dives in the pool, gets out of the pool and puts the wrap BACK on to have a conversation with her fiance'. It makes NO sense!
I am sure I am probaly offending people left and right with this review, but if you have a desire to watch some classic films, do yourself a favor and avoid this one. One pug.
Here's the trailer, which I watched on the dvd. It's the best thing about the whole experience.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hancock(2008)/Inside Deep Throat(2005)/District 9(2009)/Nine(2009)/Percy Jackson And The Olympians: The Lightning Thief(2010)

Taylor: In an attempt to clear some stuff off of a ridiculous To Do List that I created for myself a while back, I am going to try and knock out one JUMBO sized review of some movies I have seen over the last few months, both on DVD and in the theatres. While this won't bethe usual lengthy contemplating of my cinematic navel you have all grown to...um, love?, it is a way for me to sahre with all of you, in a quick and concise manner, what I thought about a couple of flicks...

Hancock - If I understand this correctly, the story for Hancock is looooooosely based (and I mean loosely) on a previous project called "Hero By Night." In that film, a down on his luck superhero with a drinking problem attempts to rehabilitate himself for the woman he loves. It was to be a dark drama. Hancock is no such movie. It had potential, I will say the parts of the movie with Wil Smith in costume fighting bad guys were fun to watch. It was, however, kinda...expected. You pretty much saw the best of the movie in the trailer for this one. And while there is a twist, ruined by those of us who actually pay attention to the trailers when we watch them, the explanation for the twist is a bit of a letdown. Still, it gets points for being one of the first movies that Babaloo and I watched in HD on the Netflix Streaming Service, and it looked real purdy like. 2 pugs and a half a bag of popcorn.
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Inside Deep Throat - I love documentaries, and don't get to watch enough of them. I tend to find them depressing, but necessary at times to show all the things in this world that are either right or wrong with it. So, when I saw there was a documentary about Deep Throat, the most successful x-rated film of all time, I thought for sure that would be something that had at least a little bit of happy in it. So, Taffy and I sat down on a fall day and watched the documentary. While it DID talk about DT, it spoke more to the censorship and obscenity issues of the early and mid 70s. It waxes and wanes at times, but watching the clothing and styles of the day are good for a chuckle. 3 pugs, half a box of popcorn.

District 9 - We watched this one when Rodan bought it while visiting during the holidays. A "documentary" about aliens inhabiting our planet, the film is amazingly well done and thoughtfully acted. What starts out as a sci-fi film very quickly turns into a story about fear, hope and lost opportunities. 4 pugs

Nine - One of the films I was most looking forward to see during the holidays ended up being one of the biggest disappointments. With possibly one of the greatest casts ever assembled for a film, directed by an Oscar winner, the film kinda felt like a bare bones Chicago, with lots of "singing to the audience" and very little emotion. Daniel Day-Lewis was greatly miscast, and considering he is the lynch pin around which all these wonderful women surround, including some wonderful performances by Marian Cotilliard, Penelope Cruz and Judi Dench), the film kind of falls apart. I do still sing "My Husband Makes Movies" all the time, though....3 Pugs...and I'm being generous....

Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief - Have you ever seen any of the Harry Potter movies? Then you've see this one. 1 Pug.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)

Babaloo: In an epic attempt to date the girl he loves....Scott Pilgrim must battle 7 evil ex-boyfriends to win her heart. AND MAN IS IT EPIC!
This fantasy epic adventure of hipster mid 20 year olds, has a little bit of everything. I know...some might disagree. Who wants to see a bunch of 20 year olds complain about life (it is so not that kind of movie). Well, weren't you 20 something once? Go back to that time of Super NES, Sega, 80's comics...HELL, even Batman with Adam West...and you are right there with the characters of the film. I believe this movie has the makings of being one of those cult classics that people will talk about for years.
The Movie is based on 6 digest size, black & white, graphic novels written by Brian Lee O'Mailey. Directed by Edgar Wright, known for his awkward fantasy/sci fi films like Shaun of the Dead and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Wright. rounds up an awesome cast...Micheal Cera (Scott Pilgrim), Jason Swartsman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Evans & Anna Kendrick to name a few.
Now, I know there is a bit of a hate club for Micheal Cera...I get that. BUT...I believe this film could not have been done without him. Micheal Cera was born to play this role, hands down.
The film was fast paced, funny and energetic. The fight scenes were soooo border line ridiculous, that it was just down right cool. The video game like pop ups..is what gave the film some life. I was having to much fun when watching this film. This is what summer movies are about. Having fun and going back to that time you were a 20 year old jack ass with a good heart.
Woohoo!!! Scott Pilgrim vs. The World ROCKS!!!!

5 Pugs...plus a 1 up!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

American Zombie 2007

Babaloo: If you are bored one night and need something fun and surprising. Rent this film!

American Zombie is a 2007 mock-umentary, based on the life and times of the American Zombies living in Los Angels. Two L.A. directors record the lives of four high functioning zombies, as they struggle to be accepted into human society. The documentary makes a sudden turn when the film makers (after some begging) get accepted to a big zombie retreat.

The starts out as a quirky & fun film. You feel sorry for these "zombies" as they struggle to fit in. At the same time two directors (Grace and John) fight over who takes control of the film.....

It is a clever kind of film-making that uses zombies as a way to tell about human society with out being gory and bloody...but it does scare you.

The film does start out kind of slow and at times you just want to move forward. Just give it a shot and you'll see what I mean. It will sneak up on you and stay with you for awhile.

I give it 4 pugs and a popcorn.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Double Feature Review with Babaloo! Toy Story 3 & Inception

Babaloo: First off let me say....we’re baaaackkkk!!! It’s been awhile since we reviewed anything. So here I go.

Toy Story 3 is loaded with memorable characters...from the over dressed Ken to the theatrical German hedgehog with a Shakespearean voice...But one of the most memorable characters of the film (for me) is Big Baby. It is a old, beat-up baby doll that makes only baby sounds and it’s one of the creepiest in the film. Anyway, not to spoil to much of the film...the loaded cast of characters each play an important roll in Toy Story 3.The film is a bit dark at times but very well balanced fast paced and fun. This is a film for all young and old. But not to worry, you won’t feel the dark themes in the movie.

This film is the best in the Trilogy probably the best of Pixar so far. Animation was superb as usual.I give it 5 out of 5 pugs.

Inception...wow.

Again, I don’t want to say much about the movie. BUT.....It. was. awesome!!!! Like...I mean....rip the handles off your seat A.W.E.S.O.M.E!!! So yeah I loved it.

This film is The Matrix meets Ocean’s 11 with a little Total Recall and The Cell on the side. Dominic - played by Leonardo Dicaprio - is given one last “job”. The objective is to convince Fischer (Cillian Murphy) to break up his father's company, preventing it becoming a monopoly. Easier said than done. He’s band of dream robbers storm in Fisher’s dream and all hell breaks lose. If that doesn’t get them killed then his crazed imagination will.....and that is all I am saying about that.

The acting is wonderful...Ellen Page plays Adriane, the voice of reason to Dominic who he doesn’t listen too. The best was Marion Cotillard as the antagonist to Dominic...Again that is all I am saying.

Just see the movie dam it!!!I give it 5 out of 5 pugs

Monday, January 25, 2010

Closer (2004)

The love lives of two British men and two American women intersect again and again in Closer, a Mike Nichols film that recieved a lot of interest and buzz when it was released over 5 years ago (can that be right?!?) Dan (Jude Law) meets Alice (Natalie Portman), then kisses Anna (Julia Roberts), who rejects him, so he plays a practical joke on her by setting up a meet up with Larry (Clive Owen). The two couples intertwine, with various partners meeting up with various partners - couples split up, get back together, split up and get back together. All while talking a lot about fucking and what Jude Law's semen tastes like (apparently, it's sweet.)

The film is a series of paradoxes. It's beautifully drab, with it's use of tans, grays and blacks in the scenery and costumes, the actors are charmingly unlikeable, in particular Clive Owen, who you like, hate, then like again all in the course of about 20 minutes. He and Roberts have a great scene in the middle of the movie that is riveting to watch. And, while I have enjoyed Julia Roberts' performances in the past, I can see why she is considered one this generation's best actresses, as well as a movie star. She conveys feelings of guilt and humiliation with just a subtle glance or slight frown that lets you know what she is thinking. Still, you don't necessarily find yourself rooting for any particular character, and, unlike many of the movies of today (cough cough avatar cough cough), I truly didn't know where or how the film was going to end. All in all, a nice movie to watch on a cool Monday afternoon under a blanket with a pug.

I give Closer 3 pugs and a half eaten bag of popcorn.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Avatar (2009)


Babaloo

Only a few weeks in the movies and it has broken every record out there. The blockbuster hit Avatar is a big movie. How big? Big effects, big action, big themes….well you get the point. James Cameron keeps things big in the broad spectrum of things by borrowing on themes we’ve seen before….Can we say Pocahontas or Dances with Wolves? Yes, the words and story are recycled myths but that is what we find most appealing. This is what we call “appealing to the masses”.

Lets breakdown Avatar. It’s about paraplegic ex-marine (Jake), that is sent to a hostile alien world and takes his brothers place as an avatar. An Avatar is a human mind in an alien body. As the avatar he and a team of others avatars must find a way to communicate to the indigenous Na’vi. The Na‘vi is the alien race that can “connect“with the environment….Literally connect….see for yourself. The team has to first ask nicely to move from their home because of the very rare rock called Unobtainium that is right smack under where the Na’vi lives. Jake (The Avatar) is then torn between two worlds, between the alien woman he loves and his human companions…He must find away to save the Na’vi from the imperial humans.

The themes in the story are simple…Love, loyalty, heritage, The dark side of technology, greed, understanding the environment, family, imperialism….It’s all black and white. Hero vs. Villain. Good conquers all…..you get the picture. Yet, I knew what I was getting but I still enjoyed the story. Universal themes are what it’s all about in this film.

I really can’t say much about the acting….cause well….most of the film was the computers acting. I can tell you that the visuals made the “story on stock” film much more enjoyable. I forgot everything at that moment and was transported in that world. That’s what a movie is all about. Enjoying the sights sounds and themes of this BIG BIG movie. A fun rollercoaster ride. The imagination behind the scenes and/or visuals was impressive. A must watch on the big screen.

Now, I did it enjoy it and I recommend seeing it. But I have to say. A lot of critics or people are saying that this is the next big thing….the next “Star Wars“….um…..yeah no. Although I did very much enjoy the film. It did not leave that “oh so loving feeling” that some movies have. Universal themes or not…BIG effects or not….once the dust settles from this film…I think it will be forgotten.

One critic said something like...."It's like eating a fancy cheeseburger you paid $100 for in a fancy restaurant. $100 or not.....it's still a cheeseburger."

3.5 out of 5 pugs.

Taylor: Avatar is the equivalent of getting a box of underwear at your 10th birthday party, but the wrapping paper is all Shiny and has tons of cool ribbons and streamers. You get super excited, you look at how neat and cool the ribbon and the foil make the package, but when you open it up...it's just underwear. The same brand of underwear you've been wearing forever, so it's comfortable, but you are kinda upset you didn't get that TIE Fighter you were hoping for...but when you say you didn't care for the underwear, people look at you like you're crazy. And you don't get to eat cake. At your own birthday party.
Ok, I went off on a tangent there, but in short, Avatar sucked. One pug.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Imposters (1998)

Babaloo: In the tradition of Laurel and Hardy and the Marxx brothers, The Imposters is a slapstick comedy that has some stick but no slap.

The film takes place in the 1930’s. Two out of work actors, played by Stanley Tucci and Oliver Platt, accidentally stowaway on a cruise liner to hide away from a dramatic drunkin lead actor who has sworn to kill them for belittling his talents. Once inside they meet other weird and colorful characters that intertwine their stories together. The stowaways must save the ship from blowing up as well as the other characters from getting killed.

The cast is wonderful, the writing was great BUT the actual film….well it felt flat. It just felt like a cheap and rushed project. The film had lots of wonderful moments….like the depressed comedian “Happy Franks” played by Steve Buscemi, Lili Taylor as the sweet cruise director, Alfred Molina as the dramatic actor, Billy Connolly the closeted Tennis Pro and many more. So….hmm…the acting was not a problem. So what was it? Well the script didn’t seem like a problem. The one liners and quick witty. The dialogue was superb. So what was my problem……?

OH, now I see. It looked cheap. Yes, I kept reminding myself that I am seeing a set. That killed it for me. The forth wall was down and I saw the wizard at the controls. I kept seeing the same set over and over again….I know they are in a ship but really do something different. I even saw editing mistakes that made me do a double take. I saw moments in the beginning of the scene that looked like they were running out of time….so they told the actors to do dance or something. The transition from scene to scene was rough. EVEN!! In the end credits, they reminded me it was a movie. No…stop….why? Why!?

I give it 2 pugs and half a box of popcorn out of 5

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Rachael Getting Married (2008)

Taylor: I had high hopes about this movie, I really did.

I had heard all the critics talk last year of Anne Hathaway's performance as Kym in Rachael Getting Married and figured with me tending to like the smaller family dramas, I thought how could it go wrong. Kym comes home from a nine month stay in rehab just in time for her sister Rachael's pending nuptuals. Of course, hilarity ensues! We also learn bits and pieces of a family tragedy that pulled the family apart years ago, and how that plays into many of the relationships in the film.

The standout here definitely is Hathaway. This role is a far cry from many of the other "princess" rolls she's played in the past. It's a dark role, and with a few exceptions, she plays the part well, sometimes a victim, sometimes a bully, sometimes an armchair therapist. As a viewer (and to a lesser degree than Kym, a familial black sheep myself), I felt you could see the goings on in her head, and understand a bit where she was coming from. Another strong actor with a smaller part was Mather Zickel who played the best man of the movie, as well as a member of Kym's AA group. Zickel performed well, bringing a calming presence to the screen every time he was on it. He felt....real to watch, like someone you would actually see at a wedding as the best man.

And that's where what I liked about the movie stopped. The wedding party (both the people in the party and the party itself) was the most ridiculous, pretentious, wanna be experience, and the director used this to be self-indulgent and at times. I think the UN has a less multi cultural group of people meeting regulary. The bride is white, the groom is black, they have asian friends, the wedding is Indian themed, and at the reception, Brazilian carnivale dancers show up for no reason. Add to that different WAY too long scenes of multiple people toasting the happy couple, or playing music, or reading poetry, and it gets very old very fast. Seriously, we get it, you have talented friends.

Speaking of talent wasted. Debra Winger plays Kym and Rachael's mother, and while I love Debra Winger, she fails in this film, choosing at times to play it too flat, and then at a pivitol scene to her character, shoots past reality and flies straight into melodrama. A shame really. I was really rooting for her. I was also rooting for this movie, too.
Rachael Getting Married gets 2 pugs.