Category Archives: Movie Reviews

May Sweeps

Quite a full weekend.  Friday night Spacebee’s parents dropped by on their way into town and we watched the first half of the Brewers/Cubs game.  We headed out to try and meet our nieghbors at The Brink but couldn’t find them, and headed back to the Depot just as the heavens opened up.

Saturday was a full day: farmer’s market in the morning, then we had breakfast at Marigold with Spacebee’s mom and grandmom for mom’s day.  Quick nap, then we hopped in the car to drive to Milwaukee to have dinner with my family for mom’s day as well.  We shot back to my brother’s house to watch the end of the Brewers/Cubs game two.

Sunday morning, we figured that since we had to drive back through Milwaukee to Madison anyways we might as well see if we could wrangle some tickets to the game.  A Long Wong’s Wagon ride and two Standing Room-only tickets later we were watching Rickie Weeks sky a homer to left-field from the right-field foul pole.  It was nice to have standing room tickets as we just ambled around the stadium the entire game and saw lots of cool stuff.  Bad thing: the built a canopy over the FSN desk in right-field so you can’t hang over the fence and jaw at Craig and Davey anymore.  Good thing: the new store is ok, but the renovated store in left field is pretty cool.

I bought a pink bat.  See?

Hey you, bring your pink bat

We also stopped off at Eastgate Cinema on our way back into Madison to see Star Trek.  I’ll bottom-line it for you: great movie.  I’m no die-hard Trek fan but I watched it when I was younger and was uncertain how they would shoehorn the new dudes, villains, etc. into the existing framework.  They did a great job, and with the exception of the groan-inducing (to me, but drew cheers from others in the theater) shouting of catchphrases by the characters I had a great time.  Go see it, it’s good.

The Pinella and Zambrano Show

We went to see Knocked Up last night.  It is rare that I exit a theater without thinking I’ve wasted part of my life, but there were two reasons that didn’t happen: 1.) I was bored as all hell this weekend and 2.) the movie was just plain great.  I won’t totally spoil it for you (psst: this chick gets knocked up) but the part where people go to Vegas and do shrooms while watching Cirque du Soleil is pretty dope.  Ah fuck it, the whole movie is really dope.  Just go watch the damn thing.

On second though, don’t do it tonight (Monday), tomorrow (Tuesday), or Wednesday though.  That’s when the Fucking Cubs are coming north to play the Brewers at Miller Park.  Gather all of your lucky pennies around you in a heap, and then eat a Four-leaf clover salad with rabbit foot dressing or whatever.  Not necessarily because I think the Cubs will win the series, but because I want to sweep those filthy pieces of shit back to that stink-hole they call home.  And note that I’m not talking about the NotDouchebag fans (like my sweety-pie and her clan) but the onslaught of “WOOO”-ing backwards cubs hat fuckwads that make Miller Park such a shitty place that the Brewers get booed in their own fucking stadium.  I can’t handle that.  I wish I had enough money to buy all the unsold tickets and give them to small children from Oak Creek to Marinette.  Hey Hadley, you wanna go to a baseball game? Grace-o?

So for those that haven’t seen the last few days on Sportscenter, Pinella is suspended indefinitely and Zambrano apologized for punching out his catcher in the locker room.  Ha ha you assholes.  I guess $300 million doesn’t buy quite as much team cohesion as you’d like.  Please, god, just let the Brewers mince the Cubs up into tiny pieces and send them back to the dump of a park they call Wrigley.

Next weekend (from what I gather) we’re all heading up to Points North to kick it with the Kalishes in Rural Splendor™.  I hear they have a porno basement.  I think I’m bringing the smoker with too, perchance we could make some rib-sticking ribs.  At any rate, hurray for Ruralacity.

Blades of Glory

We went to see Blades of Glory last night and it was a solid “*shrug*”.  I didn’t want to kill myself for watching it, but it was nothing to write home about.  Nick Swardson, hoo boy.  And that’s all the commentation this movie deserves.  Aqua Teen movie comes out tomorrow, though.

Good job, Brew Crew on winning the continuation of Tuesday night’s game in the 13th AND taking Florida down in Wednesday’s game.  Florida had won 9 straight going back to September 2005.  Anyone interested in going to the the Retro Friday game on April 20th against Houston?

Poor, Downtrodden Souls

This is an ultra-stupid topic, but since I haven’t thought about it in roughly 15 years, I thought I’d rant for a second.

1989 was an interesting year. Apparently, someone in Hollywood decided that the plight of the rich & famous was worth creating a movie called Troop Beverly Hills (Roger Ebert’s review). For those that can’t or won’t remember, Troop Beverly Hills seemed to be a harmless abortion of a movie about a Girl Scout-based troop of girls from Beverly Hills who are looked down upon by the other, better troops around the country. After montages of shopping, unique cookie-selling ideas, and being rich set to fun, late-80s music, the pint-size heiresses overcome all odds to win the Best Girl Scout-ish Troop trophy at the annual Jamboree. Overall, it’s harmless 80s tripe. Except for the fact that when you think about it, it’s the biggest slap in the face to anyone making less than $500,000 per year.

The heroes of this farce are little girls whose parents are movie stars, ultra-rich business people, and what appears to be Communist dictators. They want for nothing, yet we’re supposed to feel all sad because some poor girl in troop NotRich treats them like the elitist shits they are.

The movie basically takes the premise of these kids’ organizations (Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, etc.), which primarily exist to afford lower-to-middle class kids a sense of teamwork, responsibility, social conciousness, and environmentalism, and says, “What if they did all that, while shopping at the Beverly Center?” Fuck you Hollywood, right in your ass. Social conciousness is not realizing that you can extend the fabulousness of Rodeo Drive deep into the forest on a nature walk.

The ending is absolutely surreal. The “triumphant” scouts of Troop Beverly Hills are cheering and celebrating the fact that their street-savvy richness won the competition for them, and then their parents jostle their way through the crowd of poor losers to get to the front and applaud the fact that their children have won in life… again. If I was one fo the other kids standing around I would have found the nearest sharp implement and shanked Shelly Long within an inch of her life, whether a Communist dictator was present or not.

— who cares about this movie, but fuck what it stands for.

PS– This review, by an apparently gay man who holds the movie up as “high camp”, completely misses what Ebert picked up in his review. The movie could have been satirical, but instead chose to revel in the richness of Beverly Hills. There is no salvation of characters, other than Shelly Long going from a rich bitch to a rich bitch who isn’t a bitch to the half-dozen rich kids she chaperones a few days a month. bleh. High camp my ass, it’s just awful.

Good Night, and Good Luck

Erin and I got some free screening passes from Salon.com to the preview of George Clooney’s new indy movie Good Night, and Good Luck (Salon.com review, The Onion’s review) , a look at Edward R. Murrow and CBS’ series of programs in the mid-fifties on Joe McCarthy’s anti-Communist witch-hunt. I had heard about the movie several weeks prior and was going to check it out anyways, so free tickets to the pre-release screening really rang my bell.

Growing up in Wisconsin, I learned in various civics classes that the Red Scare of the mid-20th century was one of the great travesties in our nation’s history. Somewhat surprisingly, I also learned about it from different angles. One aspect of our English class reading of The Crucible by Arthur Miller was the history behind Miller’s denuciation by the McCarthyites and how it influenced the work.

As I watched “The Crucible” taking shape as a movie over much of the past year, the sheer depth of time that it represents for me kept returning to mind. As those powerful actors blossomed on the screen, and the children and the horses, the crowds and the wagons, I thought again about how I came to cook all this up nearly fifty years ago, in an America almost nobody I know seems to remember clearly.

Fear doesn’t travel well; just as it can warp judgment, its absence can diminish memory’s truth. What terrifies one generation is likely to bring only a puzzled smile to the next. I remember how in 1964, only twenty years after the war, Harold Clurman, the director of “Incident at Vichy,” showed the cast a film of a Hitler speech, hoping to give them a sense of the Nazi period in which my play took place. They watched as Hitler, facing a vast stadium full of adoring people, went up on his toes in ecstasy, hands clasped under his chin, a sublimely self-gratified grin on his face, his body swivelling rather cutely, and they giggled at his overacting.

Likewise, films of Senator Joseph McCarthy are rather unsettling—if you remember the fear he once spread. Buzzing his truculent sidewalk brawler’s snarl through the hairs in his nose, squinting through his cat’s eyes and sneering like a villain, he comes across now as nearly comical, a self-aware performer keeping a straight face as he does his juicy threat-shtick.

The movie is essetially an office-based overview of the crucial segments that CBS ran in the early fifties that contributed the investigation and censure of McCarthy himself. It’s dificult for me to comment on the authenticity of the time period, due mainly to the fact that I was born 13 odd years after Murrow died, but it is certainly not the sunshine and lollipops 1950s portayed by so many. The focus on the Story and how the CBS team presented it to America keeps much of the movie focused in the CBS Studio and newsroom, which creates not so much a cramped feel as one of comfort. The climactic sequence where Joe McCarthy rebuts Murrow on his own show with such utter slander sufficiently displays the lengths that the anti-Communists were willing to go to in order to avoid criticisms, questions, or concerns over their activities. Moreover, the fact that Joe McCarthy himself delivers the false indictments makes the entire thing real.

One of the most powerful techniques Clooney and co-writer Grant Heslov use is the lack of any actor portraying The Junior Senator from Wisconsin. All scenes in the movie involving Joe McCarthy are actual film and radio. Just as a period-piece retelling of Adolf Hitler’s life does not compare to seeing him from actual footage, so did Joe McCarthy’s angry polemics against ordinary Americans stir my emotions in a way that an actor could not. Perhaps its because, as a society, we’re so used to seeing evil and injustice portrayed by actors and special effects that we no longer recognize the horror of real injustice and tragedy. Moreover, the outrage that eventually bubbled to the surface in 1954, over people fired from their jobs and ostracized by their communities due to government hearings, is noticeably absent today while our government declares random people picked up in Iraq (whether insurgents or not) to be enemy combatants and thrown in a Guantanamo Bay cell to rot without any hope of a trial, or even of anybody to know where they are.

Better historical analysis of the Red Scare can certainly be found elsewhere, but my reactions to this movie had much to do with ruminating on the (completely intentional) comparisons drawn between 1950-1954 and 2000-2005. A government that hastens to call anyone that disagrees a traitor, embroiled in a war with no clear way to win, should not be given the benefit of the doubt. Were it my decision, everyone in America would see this film and be reminded that real, damaging political persecution did not die when McCarthy was censured. It can strike anytime the citizens of a country become too concerned with appearence and not enough about truth and justice.

We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.

–Edward R. Murrow, Speech to the Radio and Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) convention in Chicago (15 October 1958)

Fatal Craptaction

I had never seen Fatal Attraction before last night, and I vow before you that I will never watch it again. It is unwatchable. Was I supposed to feel sorry for Michael Douglas in that movie? Was I supposed to say, “What right does that woman have to be mad that Mike Doug banged her a few times and then told her to get to steppin’?” I mean yes, boiling a little gender-confused girl’s pet rabbit is taking things a bit too far on the other end too, but you can’t expect me to cheer on the fact that this guy cheated on his wife when she took an overnight trip to the country. Jesus.

Quote of the movie:
Mike Doug’s wife to Teh Crazy: “If you ever come near my family again, I’ll kill you.”
Zach: “Oooh, that’s gonna be awkward.”

The Movie = Dumb. I’m glad that I never took the time from my busy life to watch it, though I am now pissed that what seemed like 4 hours of last night was taken from me, never to be returned. Thanks a lot Glenn Close, you psycho bitch with liver spots.

RAJ OUT.

Batman Beginagain

I remember sitting through some movie previews earlier this spring when I saw the preview for Batman Begins. I wasn’t aware they were doing a prequel, but I thought, “Huh, looks ok but it’s going to be dragged down by the weight of the franchise.” The Batman franchise has suffered more than any other movie property in the last 20 years, and not being particularly fond of the comic books I felt that Overproduced Hell was where it deserved to stay for Eternity. I brightened a bit when I found out they were redoing the franchise, not providing a prequel.

Batman was the movie industy’s first modern day run-through with a famous comic book property, and I still think it was a great movie. It’s hard to picture anyone else but Jack Nicholson playing the Joker, and Keaton’s Batman was really great (though his Bruce Wayne was a bit off). Tim Burton was THE director at the time to bring Gotham to life on the screen. The problem with the movie was mainly that it played to an Action Movie crowd straight up: here’s your hero, he beats up some thugs, he dashes off some one liners, he has a climactic battle on top of a very tall building, he saves the girl, he tries to save the villian in the end, villian double-crosses him, villian ends up splat on the ground… with a laughing bag in his breast pocket.

Batman Returns started the slow descent into shittiness for the franchise. It showcased the one overarching theme of then-Hollywood’s vision of Batman: the movie must not be about Batman. It must be all about ever larger-than-life villians played by box-office superstars. To be fair, the spin-the-bottle style of Batman/Bruce Wayne casting in later movies also played to this but no matter who wore the black suit, the plot centered on the villian (his origins, his motives, his “master plans,” and his unique powers/gimmicks). The reasoning is clear: “Everyone knows who Bruce Wayne is! Why waste valuable screen time giving him motives, narratives, or feelings! He’s just a dude who’s parents got shot, he fell in a hole, PLAH-DAOU!! You’ve got a masked vigilante fighting guys who dress up like clowns! Now… the clown: there’s an interesting story! Why would a criminal dress up like a clown?! Get me Jack Nicholson for the clown and it’s a go!”

The Batman series continued to deteriorate until, by the fourth abortion of a movie, I stopped watching altogether. Do I want to see Arnold Fucking Swazzledoodle in another role where he belts out stupid one-liners with gusto and then heads over to Craft Services to pick up a Butterfinger? No. Do I want to see the end result of Hollywood GrassFucking Producers fucking around with the Batman universe? No. Batgirl, Robin, Batcat, Batdog? Do I want to see Alfred serve Master Bruce dinner but then hilariously fart while putting down the plate? No. These are not things that appeal to me.

Batman Begins? It appealed to me. Holy shit on a kringle, they cast someone as Dr. Crane/Scarecrow who I’d never heard of before! The main villian doesn’t speak in one-liners! The villianous plan actually makes some modicum of sense! Jesus, Hollywood, did you actually not meddle in the making of a movie for once?

Batman Begins opens with a stunning 40 minutes of no Batman. You see, to do a movie about how Bruce Wayne created Batman (and for said movie actually be good) perhaps you should actually spend some time telling how Bruce came to be the man he is. To that end, we witness Bruce’s training at the hands of the League of Shadows. There is only one word I can type to re-create the utter awesomenicity of this part of the movie: NINJAS. Not the mutant turtle variety, but historically true ninjas. It is not often I lean over to someone in a movie and say, “This is awesome,” but I did it to Erin last night.

To be completely honest, I thought I had gotten my money’s worth by the time Bruce returned to Gotham ready to become a crime-fighter. Then they just had to go all-out cool and give me a comic book movie with villian in addition to the background of Bruce Wayne. I appreciated the sentiment, Christopher Nolan (director of Memento and Insomnia [which, by the way, is another awesome movie]) and I won’t forget it.

One of the other great things about the movie is the way we see Jim Gordon (holy shit! I just checked and Gordon is played by Gary Oldman, who I totally didn’t recognize last night) and the way his relationship with Batman develops.

I’ll end with this hard-to-come-by-in-Hollywood priase for this movie: with the minor exception of one detail, it just makes sense. So many movies these days treat the audience like grade-A fuckwads who can’t piece together a storyline. The end result is one where you walk out of the theater and go, “Umm, how could he escape by blowing ahole in the wall of the cell when we saw them take away his GigantoGun before putting him in there?” Apart from the fact that its a comic-book movie (and therefore inherently unrealistic), I liked the fact that, given the situations people were in, they acted in ways that permitted me to suspend disbelief.

So from what I hear, they’ve already signed up everyone to do at least one, possibly two sequels to Batman Begins. If they turn out at all like this one I’ll definitely be going. Here’s to Hollywood not coming in and ass-raping a good movie with good actors and good director with more goddamned Bat-Nipples.

The Verdict: 9.0/10.0

RAJ OUT.

Are We There Yet?

There is a finite amount of patience in the world, and the 2005 Ice Cube comedy Are We There Yet? tries all of them. If the characters in the movie actually listened to Ice Cube when he said, “No sassin’ me!” I doubt there would be much movie left. Ice Cube as Sports Memorabilia shop owner is quite the interesting turn for him, though the I suppose the stars were ostensibily supposed to be the two monsters cast as Brother and Sister. In a world where Juice isn’t Food, because it’s Juice, how is Ice Cube supposed to survive these two Grade Double-Uranium Retards.

The younger monster seems to have a higher-than-usual propensity for peeing, almost always during inopportune times. Were it that Ernest Hemingway and Ed Poe had as skillful the prose ability as the screenwriters in setting up the central conflict of a movie.

Of course, any movie where Ice Cube is referred to as “the … nasty bad man” by children is pretty funny… um… the 10-year-old chick just stole the truck. Man, why Ice Cube didn’t just hollow out their skulls with an AR-15 is beyond me. NWA-era Ice Cube wouldn’t take some chick stealing his Navigator while a honky woodsman sat on the sideline jeering. He’d be more likely to make a song about killing all the white folk in Oregoon and then fucking a ho. Instead, we get the most exciting chase scene involving a lumber pile since Return of the Jedi.

Oh yeah, his dashboard-based bobble-head doll talks to him.

…aaaaaand right cue an Amish joke. Perfect.

Several times in the movie the kids had an honest-to-god chance of dying and yet it didn’t seem to faze them. Did they have a death wish or were they so colossally stupid that they didn’t realize? One of the Great Mysteries of the Universe, I’m sure. Now, startng out watching this movie I thought it was some semblence of a non-wacky movie, but right now? As Ice Cube answers his cell phone while chasing a train on horseback? Umm, yeah, I think we’re firmly into fantasyland.

Good nigh, sweet prince.

RAJ OUT.

The Greatest American Hero

Believe it or not, I’m walkin on air,
I never thought I could feel so free-ee-ee.
Flyin away, on a wing and a prayer,
who could it beeeee? It’s just meeeeeee!

Yes, for whatever reason a DVD Decider somewhere decided to put out Season One of The Greatest American Hero on DVD. Erin bought it today and we watched the first episode of Season One (“The Pilot”)… all 1 hour and 30 minutes of it. Jesus, these fuckers needed a Wrap-It-Up box in the 80’s to get to the fucking point.

Again, for whatever reason, I have decided to recap how Ralph Hinkley became The Greatest American Hero. First he drives out into the desert with a bus fulf of special-ed students. Then he gets hit by a drunk FBI agent. While they share a special moment yelling at each other over who was at fault for the DUI-influenced attempted vehicular homicide, a space ship shows up and the FBI agent’s dead partner hand-delivers a special suit that only Ralph can wear in order to “save the world.” Then he leaves and the FBI agent says, “So, with that suit we can… remove all hair from the planet?” “No man,” says Hinkley, “he said ‘Save the world,’ not ‘Shave the world.'” I stole that joke from the Aqua Teens.

For some additional reason, Hinkley’s special ed kids consist not of retards, but of ‘troubled kids’ who like to bust heads and make sarcastic comments to punk’d special teachers. Hinkley boxes the leader of the punks, but goes down in the second when he gets punched in the balls. I wasn’t aware that high schools had boxing class, let alone that punching cocks was legal.

Hinkley and the FBI agent team up to take down what is apparently the Christian Coalition. There was something about using skin-heads to start riots, then luring the President of the United States’ helicopter above an armed compound and shooting it down. I wasn’t paying attention because it took them 90 motherfucking minutes to get to THE FUCKING POINT, which in the end involved Our Hero flying up to the helicopter and saying, “Get outta here, dummy!” to the Presidential Helicopter Pilot. A man flying around in red long underwear calling him names is enough of an impetus for the pilot to move along.

Hinkley and his friend, the FBI guy, then formalize… wait… the following words just came out of Ralph Hinkley’s mouth: “I can’t just wham bam past the jam.” Is that Eighties lingo? I never heard of that. Is it White Superhero Jive?

Holy shit this show is not funny to the max.

The Verdict: 3.0/10.0 (only because of the theme song)

postscript note– In researching my comment about awesomenicity, I stumbled back across this post. It’s funny that, reading this description, it sounds like The Greatest American Hero is the funniest show ever. In reality, it just sounds that way… unless you’re extremely high I’d imagine.

Mr. 3000

It was with great sorrow that I realized the state of the universe last night as the last of the 86 minutes of Mr. 3000 were winding down. The Great Truth is this: Even in a fictional tale, the Brewers cannot win. I fondly remember growing up watching baseball movies wherein the hard-luck Cleveland Indians went from the cellar to winning the pennant (Major League). Those scrappy Cubs in Rookie of the Year went the distance (and those are the freaking Cubs!). In Mr. 3000, however, we are treated to a team whose sole asperation as the season winds down is to win their last 7 of 11 games in order to climb from 5th to 3rd place in their division. Well whoopty fucking doo. Huzzah!
Continue reading Mr. 3000