Monthly Archives: June 2011

Without Limits

I ran track and cross-country throughout high school. The name Steve Prefontaine was one everyone knew on the team after their first year. He was constantly in the running magazines our coach handed out to us. I even have a few posters from those magazines of him on my dorm wall right now. He may not have been the best runner, but he is defiantly the poster boy for running even now.

Steve Prefontaine was an amazing runner in his day who gained famed running at the University of Oregon in the 70s. He also ran in the Munich Olympics for the United States and died a young death. Running was becoming popular in the 70s and Prefontaine and his coach Bill Bowerman (co-founder of Nike Inc.) were a huge part of that boom. The movie Without Limits is essentially a biography of Prefontaine entering Oregon and running in the Olympics, ending with his death. The movie is told from Bowerman’s point of view (played by Donald Sutherland). I read somewhere that Bowerman and those associated with Pre gave their approval of the film so I assume a fair share of it is right based on that and what I do know of Pre.

I loved the movie, but if you haven’t noticed I’m its demographic. I’m a runner with knowledge of Pre as an idol. The movie does a great job at showing distance running and it doesn’t place Pre on some pedestal as a perfect god. Pre is shown to have his flaws and own issues. He’s human.

Billy Crudup did a phenomenal job playing Pre. I was surprised by how much he looks like him, which is something nifty about Crudup. I never notice him in movies because he always seems to play roles that aren’t him. He plays such diverse characters that require him to look physically different and portray himself in a unique way. I didn’t recognize him in Almost Famous back when I first saw it. It just shows how great he really is. Donald Sutherland is usually great and he does a nice job here as Bowerman. A nice mix between a hard-ass and mentor/father like figure. It would have nice if he had  been a bit more of a prick, but that aside Sutherland was great as is most of the supporting cast.

I have to go back to running again with the cast. They all look like runners. Tom cruise produced and initially wanted to star in the film. Personally Cruise runs funny so I’m glad he didn’t star in it. Crudup and the other cast members look like runners. They had nice to decent form from what I paid attention to. It’s actually one of those things I love watching in any movie. How an actor runs. A lot of them just look bizarre and have horrible form, but I suppose most people haven’t had a coach yell at them to carry themselves a certain way.

Defiantly a movie runners will want to see or other sports enthusiasts. There are a number of little jokes early on for those who know more about Pre. They make little side references to things like Bowerman and Nike or the famous “Stop Pre” campaign early on. If you know of them you get the joke, otherwise it’s just a retrospective “ahh” moment when you see the actual thing later. Even if you care for neither posts or running you should still watch the movie. It’s inspiring. In fact I’m probably going to go on a run right now.

Teen Wolf

I have a thing for teen comedies, especially from the 80s. Surprisingly I’ve never gotten around to watching Teen Wolf for whatever reason till now. It’s not amazing, but it is a teen comedy. Compared to a lot of those type of films being churned out now (especially direct to DVD) it’s really good. I liked it even with its faults. The simplicity of everything helps. There is no real attempt to try and justify the whole werewolf thing. It’s a fantastical element in the film that you just have to accept.

A lot of the teen romance and other themes are pretty lame and underused, but that was kind of a blessing. It was nice to not see them really toyed with because those themes are kind of lame in teen comedies.

Just Cause

I love Sean Connery. I watch as many of his movies as I can multiple times regardless of how bad they may be. I’ve seen Just Cause before, but it’s been a while.

The movie isn’t really a court room/legal thriller, but more of a crime thriller whatever that difference really is. The film focuses more on the investigation than legal crap. There are plenty of things wrong with the plot and the story. It wasn’t handled all the well when you reflect on it, but it’s good enough to get you through the movie. I think they tried to make add unneeded twists and failed since the movie is predictable enough. There are a lot of references to the ending early on if you pay attention to the dialogue, especially Connery’s debate at the beginning.

The cast and acting are amazing here though. I’m biased and think Connery is basically always amazing so who knows how good he really is. I thought he did a good job, though he seemed possibly a bit to old for the role. Laurence Fishburne was fucking fantastic here and seemed to enjoy the role. Ed Harris however simply reasserts how extraordinary he is here. I’ve always liked him. He gives nice strong performances and he is scary as hell here. He only a has a few scenes, but he is probably the most memorable part of this film. As a side note Scarlett Johansson plays Connery’s daughter.

If it weren’t for the cast I’d say you could skip the movie if you want since it isn’t anything special. The performances though, primarily by Harris and Fishburne, are worth watching.

The Way Back

Yesterday I watched all of the Batman movies so I have a draft of that which is waiting on some heavy editing from me and will be posted soon.

So The Way Back home is an underwhelming epic. It seems like this huge grand story of prisoners of a Russian prison in Siberia escaping and traveling to India, but it doesn’t quite get it to me. It lacks a nice emotional connection to the characters to really make this journey mean something. As it stands it is merely a beautiful grim adventure to India. Characters die (lame spoiler –  obviously someone dies) and I didn’t feel anything for them. I should have felt something for one particular character (spoiler – dies in Gobi desert) , but I didn’t.

The film looks beautiful without having constant wide shots of the horrific landscape. Peter Weir also does a good job of making getting a rather grey and bleak looking feel. The performances aren’t great, but they are good enough to hold you in. I’m sure the accents are crap, but who really cares? The ending was a nice little disappointment.

 

Tin Man

Finally a new post by me that is actually about a  movie/TV! Actually I have a few drafts that I haven’t finished or posted and I was going to do those first, but having just finished watching Tin Man in one sitting I’m going to write this now.

Bare with me fora  bit because I promise I’m going to talk about the mini-series. I’ve never been obsessed with The Wizard of Oz. I’ve seen it a number of times, but it never really mattered much to me. I have a lot of friends who have seen the musical Wicked and love it. I’ve listened to the soundtrack and love the music, but have not been able to see it performed. Eventually I’m going to. I know people who will gladly drag me. In the mean time though I’ve wanted to watch the original Wizard of Oz, but haven’t gotten around to it. That or I’ve forgotten. I saw Tin Man on my Netflix and decided that I’d like to see it for a number of reasons. Part of it is my recent interest in Oz stuff. The cast seemed damned good and I recall hearing positive things about it.

Tin Man is a three part miniseries set up by the SciFi channel (now SyFy I believe). Each part is roughly an hour and a half and really that probably is to long. The series is a “re-imagining” of the Wizard of Oz story. Basically it has nothing to do with the original story/movie. There are loads of references, but nothing really concrete. I wouldn’t expect someone looking for a nice new twist to the Wizard of Oz to like this. It’s basically an attempt to turn The Wizard of Oz into the Lord of the Rings for nerds, which is why it is to long.

I had mixed opinions about this. For a SyFy production it seems really fucking good. I don’t watch the channel hardly at all, but most of what I’ve seen on there is usually poor production quality. Tin Man is really good on that level. For television it looks pretty good. Hell, it looks better than some movies so I don’t quite get all of the complaints on that end.

I also enjoyed the cast. Zooey Deschanel plays DG (Dorothy Gale) and I enjoyed her performance, but I usually do. She has a style that plenty of people don’t like. Guys however think she’s hot (and rightfully so). Alan Cumming (is it wrong for his name to make me giggle) is Glitch or Ambrose (his parallel being the Scarecrow) and I was a bit disappointed there. I was sort of expecting a bigger performance out of Alan, but he was still good and you got glimpses of it at times. Neal McDonough plays the titular Tin Man, which in this realm is slang for cop. McDonough is the best out of this bunch for me. I’ve loved everything I’ve seen him in (that I can think of). The first time I recall seeing him was in Band of Brothers and he was great (as was the show). Defiantly someone to watch for. Toto (or Tudor here  and also a shapeshifter) and Raw (the lionish dude) make nice performances and fill out the traveling group. On the whole those actors did a good job of meshing together. I also thought Kathleen Robertson was pretty good as Az (DG’s sister and evil bitch -sort of). I found her cleavage amusing, especially since they put “magical” tattoos over/on her breasts for the nerds (which I admit to enjoying as well). Richard Dreyfuss also has a short appearance as the Mystic Man (also known as the Wizard). A fine performance by a great actor, but hardly in the series really.

As good as the cast was, and I do stand by their performances, the writing was pretty crap. There were some horribly cheezy and cliché moments that just killed the buzz at times. That kind of thing makes the actors looks bad and I can’t help but to try to defend them to some extent. If the direction and lines are crap you kinda get fucked. The idea of the story was neat, but really it didn’t go nowhere. Four plus hours I believe that took way to long and wasn’t actually confusing. I followed everything mostly which shouldn’t be the case for something that long. I should be confused at some-point. The side stories were just unneeded at times. There’s also a lack of any action that’s good or at all for that matter. The magic is lame as hell. DG does absolutely nothing spectacular for supposedly being badass and Az (Roertson’s character) does some cool tricks that aren’t explained and a number of things of screen hat we only hear about.

On the whole it was good enough that I kept watching it for four hours. It’s something I’d even watch again at some point. I  think the thing I enjoyed the most about this series was that it gave me a lot of writing ideas and thoughts on how to handle certain things so that was a plus. Basically it’s pretty crappy if you think about it. For a SyFy production though it’s pretty good and if you enjoy there brand of stuff than you should enjoy this.

The Silence

So I haven’t posted much this week which I’m sort of bummed about. My one movie a day goal for a year has failed since I missed a day. After that I figured what the hell and missed another one. I’m amazed I’ve made it as far as I have on that aspect. Despite only missing two days, I just haven’t posted about the movies I have seen (I intended to get around to it soonish).

Since my movie a day for a year goal failed I’m not going to try and continue with it. It was nice try and I did what I wanted to do. I started watching movies more and writing on a mostly daily basis. I’m going to keep the site going and continue posting reviews, but not necessarily everyday anymore. Due to it being summer I’m trying to watch some TV shows, like Lost, so I’ll be making some posts about those shows.

I’m going to try and post everyday or at least every other day if I can on either a movie or TV series that I’m watching. Hopefully people keep reading this site and give feedback because it is always nice to hear from people.

119. Educating Rita

Bit late on the post. Just been lazy.

I liked Educating Rita. My only real problem is that it seemed slow. I was aware that things weren’t moving along all that fast. That and the score was just weird and didn’t seem to fit.

Other than that the movie was great. Michael Caine and Julie Walters were both really good. Due to the British nature of the film some people may not enjoy the film. It’s also slightly bookish so some people may not enjoy that bit as well.

118. Super 8

I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but I have to say it again. Steven Spielberg is my idol. I’ve been a fan of him since fourth grade and he is a large reason as to why I’m in love with movies and would someday love to make them. This isn’t technically his film, but it might as well be. Most of the stuff he produces or is involved in somehow is usually good.

I enjoy J.J. Abrams work. He has some good shit. When I heard that he was “teaming up” with Spielberg I almost shit myself. I’ve been waiting for Super 8 for ages, especially once I learned that Spielberg was a big influence.

The movie takes place in the summer of ’79 in a small town in Ohio (represent!). The main characters are kids in junior high school. Alice may actually be in high school, but I’m not sure. Regardless they are not sexy teenagers. They are nerds. Dorks. Geeks. They are making a movie together which kinda propels their actions throughout the movie and if you stick around for the end credits you get to see their completed film which was pretty neat.

So while they are filming a train is derailed and they are in the middle of this accident. From that point on the military gets involved and things get weird. Dogs and people go missing. Various appliances just disappear, etc.  Of course there is an alien in there as well.

Let us start off with the cast. The kids were amazing. I liked how they looked dorky and weren’t “adult teens.” They looked like awkward middle school kids and acted like it. Their dialogue was amazing in this movie. They seemed like a realistic depiction of some middle school guys today at least. They also were incredibly funny and were the source of constant humor throughout the film. Elle Fanning was incredibly good, especially here little zombie movie.

The adults were ok, but they aren’t the focus of the film. Kyle Chandler does a decent job as the brooding Deputy Sheriff and distant/struggling father of Joey. Rob Eldard also did a good job as Alice’s drunken father. It actually would have been cool to see more of those two together, but that would have been a different movie. Noah Emmerich was pretty good as the military dick leading things.

There are a number of visual aspects that are similar to Abrams other work. The lens flares appear here and I actually enjoy them, but I did find a few spots where the flares were unnecessary. The alien is good. Better than the Cloverfield alien/monster in my opinion. It isn’t frightening to look at and I don’t think it needs to be. Spielberg’s creatures aren’t meant to be a menace to humans. Humans incite that problem and Abrams uses that here. The creature is frightening visually to an extent, but only because he is on the offense.

Abrams uses some Spielberg visuals, but the biggest thing from Spielberg can be found in the story itself. The themes and other common elements to Spielberg’s work is what makes this movie.

-The use of a kid as the main protagonist and the character we connect with the most. They also are usually the one who comes in contact with the “alien/creature” at some point.

-Bad family/parent-child relations. Autobiographical of Spielberg’s own childhood. The parents are usually not together and the father is usually a disgruntled man who can’t connect with his son.

-Coming in contact with aliens/special creatures or beings. (dinosaurs, odd shark, aliens, robots, etc.)

-The alien being is mistreated by humans. We are hostile towards them, showing how cruel we really are. That and just general human cruelty and ignorance.

-Use of everyday people as protagonists.

-Use of a non-contemporary time period.

-Some “secret” government force as an antagonist.

I’m sure there are other references and themes, but those are the ones of the top of my head. It’s basically Spielberg’s movie in that way and Abrams does a wonderfully job replicating Spielberg’s work in both the story and visually. I’m sure you could fool some people into believing Spielberg directed the film.

There are also numerous references to other persons and items of pop-culture at the time. The kids have posters of NASA space shuttles and the movie posters from Star Wars, Halloween, and Dawn of the Dead (I initially though it was Night of the Living Dead, but others have said otherwise). They are cool things to see and also really help to se the time period which was done excellently.

My first reaction was that this isn’t a movie for kids to see. Thinking about it now, I think it is ok. Not little little kids though. Then again kids may not get the humor, which is why I’d be ok with them seeing it. It really isn’t gruesome or violent in any extreme.

This movie has a lot of humor and you should be laughing the entire movie. The crowd I was with did. It isn’t a huge sci-fi nerdfest nor is it nonstop useless action. It isn’t a particularly frightening movie, but there is excellent suspense to keep you engrossed in what is going on.

I can’t express how much I loved this movie. Things start moving right off the bat and never slow down. It’s not necessarily on the edge of your seat the entire movie stuff, but you don’t get a dull moment. For me this movie only inspires me to continue trying to enter the world of film as this is the kind of film I love to see being made and something I would love to try and make.

I want to see this four more times, but I may not be able to make it. I’m defiantly going to buy it as soon as I am able.

Again stick around for the credits, because you see the final 8mm film the kids make.

117. Jackie Brown

I’m not a Tarantino fanboy. I haven’t seen all of his films and I don’t think I’ve seen any of them more than once. I saw Pulp Fiction and wasn’t in love with it. I’ve never had much of a desire to see most of his films after that. I’d like to give some of them a second chance and watch some of his films that I haven’t seen and started with Jackie Brown.

Number one reason to like this movie: the music. I loved the music and that’s one of the things I like about Tarantino. Same with Guy Ritchie. They have great song selections for their films.

Tarantino does a good job with some solid crime plot lines. When he starts to wander from that things get odd and that’s where I lose interest. That and some of the obscene violence. It doesn’t bother me, but I’d rather not see it if it isn’t adding anything.

The cast is pretty solid and is another thing Tarantino does a good job at. He manages to get some great actors and at least good performances. Samuel Jackson really wasn’t anything spectacular. Robert DeNiro was interesting to see. Kinda funny to see him as a slob/stoner. Michael Keaton did well and Bridget Fonda falls in there as well. Robert Foster was pretty good, but I like most of what I can remember seeing him in. Pam Grier was the best though. Still even the lowest performances here were still good.

Defiantly a Tarantino film I can get behind.

There is the controversy of his use of the “N Word” (I’ll dare to say it here – Nigger-). First of all I’d like to think a number of cast members would have raised some opposition to its use during/before filming. I also have my own thoughts on PC terms and this word in particular, but that would be for another blog. The word is used a lot, but for what its worth it is used in “modern” context. Best way I can think of describing it’s use while maintaing a middle ground. If you have a problem with language though you shouldn’t be watching any Tarantino film.

I’m still not converted to worshiping Tarantino. It’s a really good film, but not the greatest thing ever. Defiantly not crap though.

PS: Going to see Super 8 tomorrow (or technically today). Been looking forward to seeing this movie and I’ll write a review nice and early tomorrow. Hopefully.

116. Dirty Deeds

American Pie is a film most people know. It’s one of those important teen comedies that has defined a number of inferior offshoots. Dirty Deeds is pretty much one of those films. It’s done in that type of vein and it isn’t as good as American Pie (assuming you even liked that). Having seen the whole American Pie franchise (Naked Mile and Beta House included) this is better than those Direct – To- DVD sequels and a number of other attempts to copy that teen comedy formula.

The plot is outlandish, but it could work. Unfortunately the “dirty deeds” are pretty lame and the moral lesson hastily attached to the end was unnecessary. Milo Ventimiglia was ok as the lead and Lacy Chabert was pretty hot in her few scenes. It was funny enough, but nothing spectacular or even really good. Pretty much what you would expect from the description of the film.

%d bloggers like this: