Sunday, August 30, 2009


“JULIE & JULIA” (Amy Adams & Meryl Streep)

Five and a half hours of cooking food, eating food, talking about food, writing a blog about food and compiling a cookbook - This may well be the dullest movie ever made & a shoe-in to make my 10 Worst of 2009 list.
How could the two female leads of “Doubt” produce such dreck? This film is awful. I cannot fathom how anyone would find anything in this story even remotely interesting.
It is, in a word, B-O-R-I-N-G, with a capital BORE.
When I heard about this film I thought it couldn’t possibly be as bad as the plot would lead you to believe – but it’s even worse than I could have imagined. For those of you who may not know, this is the 'tales' of 2 women leading exceptionally boring lives & boring us with their unfathomably boring exploits in which absolutely nothing interesting happens to either person. To add to the misery everyone they know & come in contact with is also a boorish boring bore.
To give you an idea as to how terrible this film is the lone highlight involved a SNL rerun involving Dan Ackroyd. The only deserving Oscar nomination from this pile of rubbish should go to Ackroyd for Best Supporting Actress. In my last review I took a shot at ‘Inglourious Basterds’ for stooping to a low level by including Mike Myers; Here, the only scene worth viewing WAS an actual SNL skit!
Amy Adams plays Julie; a boring woman with a boring job who has aggravatingly pretentious friends whom we are forced to endure during a ‘lunch’ scene in which the two most insufferable of these friends spend more time on their cell phones talking to their assistants than they do with their dining companions. Having to sit with a pair of boring, insufferable bitches is not my idea of entertainment – It’s ANNOYING!
When Julie finds out one of her boring friends is having her blog turned into a book, she decides she can do the same – after all, she’s just as boring as they are & not nearly as pretentious or insufferable. Unfortunately Julie decides to blog about cooking every meal in Julia Child’s French cookbook... Scene after scene of cooks cooking & bloggers blogging; how could the script not be jam packed with excitement?
The film then shifts back & forth from Julie’s boring exploits as a cooking blogger to how Julia Child actually came to write a boring cookbook with her boring ambassador to France husband (boringly played by John Tucci)
Let’s pick on Julie first, shall we? We are forced to sit thru a scene with Julie & her husband eating dinner & both continuously talking with their mouths’ full - & what are they talking about? Well, the food they’re eating, of course! (Why did you even bother to ask?) So not only are these people boring, they have deplorable table manners as well.
An early entry in Julie’s blog reads, “Yesterday, I poached an egg...”
Fascinating reading, is it not?
Since I am a notorious nit picker, here’s a little snippet about Julie that annoyed me as well; after inviting friends over to have one of her fabulous French meals, Julie greets her female friend with a warm hug – she then addresses her friend’s male companion as “Hey, You.” I hate that. It is so rude & condescending. ‘Hey You’ is what you call someone when you can’t remember their name or feel they are so insignificant you don’t give a crap what their name is... Bloggers are such bitches.
Now, I’ll switch gears to the fascinating world of Julia Child before she ‘changed the world’ with her cookbook... Yes, they actually say this woman ‘CHANGED THE WORLD’ with a COOKBOOK.
As Julia attends a cooking class in France, we get to see her & several other chefs on the brink of changing the world as we know it by chopping onions... Not content with showing us the one scene of onion chopping, we are then shown a scene of Julia chopping onions at home (going solo – must have been that extra effort that helped her to change the world so dramatically) We then are taken back to cooking class where we see... you guessed it, future French chefs standing around a table chopping even more onions. If viewing a circle-onion-chopping-jerk is your idea of great filmmaking, you WILL shoot a load while watching ‘Julie & Julia’.
Julia tells her husband, “All I think about is food – All I DREAM about is food...” & all she ever talks about is food! They couldn’t have written these characters any more boring even if they had used actual corpses to play the roles.
Also Julia & her husband are chain smokers – in the 136 scenes of Julia & her non-morbidly obese husband having dinner, they both are shown smoking cigarettes & cigarette smoke is swirling in big puffy clouds all about them... I grew up in a family full of chain smokers – You can’t taste anything but smoke when you eat around them & this pair of nimrods are so infatuated with food that it’s all they think & DREAM about?
Their taste buds are covered with tar & nicotine! They can’t taste anything but ashes!
The usually scene stealing Jane Lynch plays Julia’s sister, Dorothy & when I realized it was Jane playing the role, I actually got my hopes up that this film was finally going to entertain me briefly... Don’t ask me how they did it, but they even made Jane Lynch boring!
There was one scene that made me smile (Aside from the SNL rerun) At Dorothy’s wedding, Julia touches her sister’s arm while dancing with their spouses. Dorothy reaches out & touches Julia back. It was a sweet moment, a tender moment & a wonderfully welcomed moment... Because No One Was Talking About FOOD!
Other than my mind shouting to me, “Hey, look, its Cliff Clavin’s ‘ma’!” this film was void of any memorable scenes.
I’ll quote my favorite quotable character to end this review – As Homer Simpson said to Tom Petty after Tom told the wanna-be rockers at the Rolling Stones Rock’n’Roll Fantasy Camp how hard it was to come up with a set of truly meaningful lyrics . . .

Tuesday, August 25, 2009



Is ‘Inglourious Basterds’ the best movie of 2009 so far? Well, to quote a character from the film, “NEIN! NEIN! NEIN! NEIN! NEIN! NEIN! NEIN!”
Is it an entertaining ‘farce’? Oui.
Probably Brad Pitt’s most memorable performance on film; clearly a break out for Christoph Waltz & a surprisingly excellent performance by Diane Kruger (Who knew she could act?)
So why did it leave me with such a distasteful load of hokum in my mouth?
The ending just flat out sucks. You base a film on actual historic events & then you change history just to be ‘whimsical’, you’re a cheater in my book. Anyone who gave Tom Cruise crap for speaking ‘American’ in “Valkyrie” better not dare say anything positive about this film – At least the story of Valkyrie stuck to the truth!
The very final scene could have been left intact & I would have loved “Inglourious Basterds”, but what happens just prior to it is so absurd, it makes a farce of the farce and 'basterdizes' the whole movie. Now I know why QT misspelled the words in the title – Nothing about this story is ‘right’. Despite the fact that they start off by telling you events that everyone ‘should’ know to be true (Be you old enough to remember the actual events or spent any inkling of time studying a history book) Tarantino ‘invents’ this band of Jewish/Americans that call themselves the Basterds. You’ve probably seen clips of Brad Pitt’s Aldo Raine ‘addressing’ his troops and demanding that each of them deliver 100 Nazi scalps, as well as The ‘Bear Jew’ that brings a baseball bat to ‘interrogations’ & the aforementioned ‘Hitler’ quote, “NEIN! NEIN! NEIN! NEIN! NEIN! NEIN! NEIN!”
My first warning to you is that there are subtitles galore; French, German, Italian & English are switched back & forth within the same scenes. There is a continuity problem so obvious in the opening scene that the director HAD to have done it on purpose (I refer to the movement of the glass of milk on the table) I’m sure he did it to let you know there’s nothing in this film that should be taken seriously. I guess you have to give QT originality points for presenting a ‘real life’ historical situation & re-writing history to please the huddled masses... perhaps the Basterds traveled back in time to correct that which had once gone wrong? THAT would have been more plausible to me because I wouldn’t have felt hoodwinked by the director for enjoying his film up until he went totally batsh*t with the ending!
The acting here is very impressive; the lone disappointment to me was the inclusion of Mike Myers playing a cheeky monkey of a British officer – it gave the film the feel of a SNL skit. That was yet another warning to not take anything that happens in this film seriously; Austin Powers playing a General?
But I don’t like being played for a fool & having the wool pulled over my eyes; if there had been a warning at the beginning of the film saying ‘The following events are based on conjecture of what ‘might’ have happened had there been an actual group of ‘Basterds’ on the loose in France during WWII’ I would have been able to sit back & enjoy the film more & gone along with the goofy ending.
As it was, I DID enjoy ‘IB’ despite the over-the-top violence (Which I expected, but doesn’t mean I liked seeing it) because it presented some interesting characters & situations.
Told in Chapters; the opening introduces the most fascinating character in the film – the scene stealing Christoph Waltz plays Nazi Colonel Hans Landa; nicknamed ‘The Jew Hunter’ by his countrymen because of his uncanny ability to ‘sniff out’ Jews in hiding.
As Landa interrogates a French dairy farmer in his home, the tension builds – similar to the coin flipping scene in ‘No Country For Old Men’ with Javier Bardem’s assassin, Anton & the old man at the gas station.
Chapter 2 introduces the ‘Basterds'.
Chapter 3 is the interrogation scene; both brutally violent & laugh out loud funny I’d have to call it the best scene in the film.
The following chapters tell the story of Joseph Goebbels’ plans to premiere his film about a Nazi sharpshooter that killed hundreds of Allied men from a turret. Goebbels, played by Sylvester Groth, comes across as being a bit fruity & so I didn’t buy him as the monster he was in real life (Another ‘wink, wink, this isn’t a true story’ clue from QT?)
Martin Wuttke plays Hitler as a hotheaded paranoid nimrod, which I believed for a brief while, but not as he sat chortling and clapping like a mentally challenged individual watching Goebbels’ film, “Nation’s Pride”.
Kruger plays actress Bridget von Hammersmark & almost steals the film from Pitt & Waltz with her amazing performance. I call it amazing because she has been nothing but eye candy in every movie I’ve seen her in.
The only major character I haven’t mentioned is Melanie Laurent’s; I omitted writing about her because to do so would give too much of the plot away. Although I had no problem with Laurent’s performance, I will let you know if you need to take a bathroom break during this 2 ½ hour film, do it while David Bowie’s “Cat People” is inexplicably playing under a scene where Laurent is applying make-up. Just don’t dawdle in the head; you won’t want to miss Lt. Raine’s first face to face meeting with Landa while pretending to be an Italian film director (because Aldo is the most affluent member of his squad at speaking Italian) But you will want to have an empty bladder prior to viewing the scene as it may cause you to wet yourself with laughter.
Yes, a very good film, & I’m sure when I view it again, I’ll be able to appreciate it more because I’ll know going in that it has absolutely nothing to do with HISTORY as we know it...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


“DISTRICT 9” (Sharlto Copley & Some Prawns)

It gets originality points, but the first half hour is very tough to weather, I almost turned to my wife & told her ‘If you want to go, I don’t have to see the rest of this’ - & that’s something I’ve never done. But I didn’t do that & the film did get better as it abandoned the ‘documentary’ style & turned into an actual movie with a decent storyline.
Sharlto Copley plays Wikus Van De Merwe; employed by a company called MNU & given the job of overseeing the evacuation of ‘Prawns’ from ‘District 9’ in South Africa.
He is given this task not because he’s a capable employee, but because his father-in-law runs the company.
As explained during the ‘documentary’ portion of the film (which is never totally abandoned, but has the decency to get out of the way so the interesting moments can take place) ‘Prawns’ are aliens from another galaxy that have more or less ‘crash landed’ over Johannesburg – though their spaceship doesn’t ‘crash’ to earth, it has merely run out of gas & hovers over the city like a dark foreboding cloud of metal.
The ‘Prawns’ are gathered up & put in what becomes a ‘slum’ known as ‘District 9’ (Pretty much the same set that Slumdog Millionaire used except with slumfishyaliens instead of dogs)
One rather odd revelation is that the Prawns have ‘extreme’ weaponry but since they didn’t come to attack earth, I guess they decide not to use them on us even after we treat them like they’re the scum of the universe. Another little quirk, these handheld WMD’s can only be fired by a Prawn; they won’t fire if a human pulls the trigger.
Wikus is called on the lead the evacuation of Prawns to an even more remote & unlivable situation (District 10, if I remember correctly) being filmed as he goes from shack to shack requesting each aliens ‘signature’ to properly ‘evict’ them.
While snooping thru the Prawn called Christopher’s quarters, Wikus discovers a large metal vial. He tries to open it & it spits out a black liquid that splatters on his face & hand. Almost instantly Wikus doesn’t feel well, but he keeps on making his rounds.
I won’t go any further in telling you what happens next, but it IS when the story began to catch my interest.
I am kind of surprised that there’s been a lot of good buzz about this film since it's just ‘okay’.
The Prawns are inventive beings, but they do look like they’d be more comfortable in an aquarium than a spaceship. But I can’t believe that no one has voiced their disapproval of the film’s anti-human slant. We, the earthlings, are the bad guys in this film – We’re, to quote Daffy Duck, ‘desssspicable’!
Pretty much every human except Wikus is a horrible person & the Prawns are innocent victims of our inability to NOT be racists. Now, I have no problem with this concept at all, I’m not a big fan of the human race as a whole either – I just don’t understand where all the nutjobs are in regard to this anti-human being flick. All I can figure is that they agree with everything the government of South Africa does to these creatures, so they’re all hunky dory with the story...


“The TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE” (Rachel McAdams & Eric Bana)

It didn’t take Eric Bana long to wear out all of the accolades I laid upon him for his appearance in 'Star Trek' – seeing ‘Un-Funny People’ & this film on back-to-back weekends really pointed out how ‘stiff’ an actor he is when not playing an evil alien leader. & once again we are slapped in the face with yet ANOTHER time traveling escapade that wears out ITS welcome long before the ending credits begin to roll.
Bana plays Henry, who has been ‘afflicted’ with a time traveling gene since childhood. Henry bounces back & forth thru time confined by the years of his own life. In the opening scenes (Stop here if you don’t want to know how the story begins – since it happens in the first 10 minutes I figure its all right to relate) Henry is a small boy sitting in the back seat of a car driven by his mother. Mom is trying to encourage little Henry to sing with her but he is reluctant. It is a snowy night & the roads are icy. As an out of control truck slides into their lane, Henry’s mother slams on her brakes & the boy vanishes from the back seat. Henry reappears naked by the side of the road just as his mother’s car collides with the truck (& the obligatory fiery explosion occurs) Eric Bana, as grown up Henry suddenly appears beside Henry with a blanket to wrap around his younger self. He tells himself “You just time traveled, but don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.”
So right off the bat, I have a big problem with this story. Little Henry didn’t ‘time travel’, he was ‘beamed’ out of the car & transplanted to safety - & I know Scotty didn’t do it because he hates Romulans & wouldn’t save ones life for all the Scottish whiskey in the universe.
The story then begins to focus on Claire (Rachel McAdams) the time traveler’s wife-to-be. This film has to be her weakest performance to date – she seems to let her dimples & high cheek bones do all her acting for her. Yes, she’s cute & adorable whenever she shines the coy smirk, but that’s about All she does in this - & she’s the Title Character!
One of the problems with this film is casting – McAdams & Bana have zero chemistry (My choice would have been to replace Bana even though Rachel was disappointing, perhaps she would have sparkled more with a different co-star)
In fact, the only chemistrial* spark that lights up is in the scenes between grown up Henry & Claire as an elementary school child – which is ‘ultra-creepy’ when you realize Henry is going to have sex with the little cherub later on in her life. (*Yes, I made up my own word, it fit, so why not?)
I’d call this a ‘low-brow’ ‘Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ in that an interesting story could have been made from this premise, but it isn’t the one the filmmaker chooses to tell. & I don’t mean to over-praise ‘TTW’ or slam ‘CCoBB’ by comparing the two – they are both based on characters with an oddity. & I thought ‘Benjamin Button’ should have focused more on how Benjamin dealt with his situation rather than turn it into a sappy romance - & the same goes here. Henry’s troubled existence opened up a wide variety of interesting paths to take – Instead they center on his affair with Claire, bringing nothing new to the table; Claire is like a jilted wife being cheated on by her ‘never there when she needs him’ husband.
& I won't get into the lazy make-up departments piss poor job of aging both Bana & McAdams as they play their characters from early 20's into their 40's & the only way to tell that Henry is older is due to a few streaks of grey in his hair & McAdams doesn't change at all except she is given a long haired wig to wear to represent Claire in her late teens.
& my final problem with this story is that after they lay out the rules of Henry’s time traveling abilities, they break them without any explanation as to why he was able to appear in years that didn’t fall within his lifetime. As if we, the audience, are just supposed to sit there & go “wasn’t that sweet?” Well, I didn’t go ‘Wasn’t that sweet?’
I went ‘Huh???’

Thursday, August 13, 2009


“FUNNY PEOPLE” (Adam Sandler & Seth Rogen)

I keep saying it every time I suffer thru another crappy Adam Sandler movie – This is the last time I put myself thru this torture - but there I was in Bellingham with 3 films to choose from; Julie & Julia, Something Getaway, & Funny People. The latter won because it was playing at the ‘little’ 3 screen theatre I like the most up there (Sehome)
When I heard that there were several comedians in the film, playing themselves & making hilarious cameos, I thought for sure I would see an Adam Sandler movie with twice as many laughs as his previous high (2)...I didn’t. It seemed as though the cameo comics were told to not use material that would upstage the ‘star’ of the film, so they were all pretty bland.
Sandler did make me laugh for the first time ever by using an X-rated bit about fellatio. It was actually funny & I was shocked that it came from the mouth of the least humorous comedian ever.
Sandler plays George Simmons (AKA Adam Sandler) a stand up comedian who graduates to a film career full of embarrassingly bad movies. When George is told that he has an incurable disease that will eventually kill him, George decides to return to his roots & put together a stand up act. He sees hopeful comedian Ira Wright (Rogen) sputtering thru unfunny routines that remind George of his ‘best’ material & asks if the guy would write him some jokes. Ira becomes George’s assistant while shutting out his buddy Leo (Jonah I’mnotfunnyeither Hill) whom George also thought funny enough to provide him with material.
Since he’s dying, George looks up the ‘one that got away’ (Leslie Mann) & decides to break up her marriage & ruin the lives of her two young daughters in the process. Not that George is an uncaring selfish jackass – he’s actually an uncaring selfish jackass who thinks he’s funny.
An equally unfunny subplot involving Ira’s other room mate, Mark (Jason Schwartzman) & his unfunny TV series, ‘Yo, Teach’ added 0 points to my laugh-o-meter (Which, by the way, did reach a new high for an Adam Sandler movie – 3 & 1/2)
Just to give you an idea as to how scared Sandler was at being upstaged by people who actually ARE funny – the ‘comedian’ with the longest cameo was Em-and-em (The unfunny untalented white rapper – the ‘Adam Sandler’ of the rap world, if you will)

A week earlier my dog’s girlfriend, Amy (she’s human, she just happens to be in love with Duffy) asked if we were going to see ‘Funny People’. I said ‘No.’ She asked why.
I responded “Because there’s no one ‘funny’ in it.”
I must have psychic powers, eh?


“TERMINATOR SALVATION” (Christian Bale & Sam Worthington)

This was my first Terminator movie & I’m pretty sure it will be my last since the worst part of this film were the nonsensical time traveling references to the previous films, plus I was under the impression that this would be an ‘actors’ Terminator in that The Governator would not appear; & though technically speaking Arnuld doesn’t have a cameo, his ‘image’ does, which helped crippled an already shaky plot.

Christian Bale brought a level of intelligence to the Batman franchise but he couldn’t do anything to elevate the I. Q. of this ‘disaster' flick. & that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the movie on some levels, the basic idea of a being that used to be human & doesn’t know that he’s been rebuilt as a robot/human hybrid was an interesting one – the fact that they inserted John Conner & his teenaged father into the plot turned it into a befuddling muddled puddle which made little to no sense.

Sam Worthington plays Marcus, the human who is sentenced to death in 2003 & donates his body to science before the sentence is carried out. He then finds himself alive in 2018 in a world where robots have taken over the planet & are hunting down & either killing or enslaving human refugees. Until he is damaged while trying to save John Conner’s father, Kyle Reese, Marcus appears to be a normal human being. Marcus also meets & saves the life of one of Conner’s ‘men’ Blair, a hot Asian girl (Moon Bloodgood – That’s the name she gave) So when Conner tries to kill Marcus despite the fact the newcomer has done nothing but help his cause – as well as keep him alive by saving his future father, it doesn’t make sense! (I seem to be quoting the late Johnny Cochran quite a bit lately) Which brings me to another confusing moment - & since this film has been out for a while I’m sure everyone who wants to see it, has, but without spoiling anything for those who may be waiting for the DVD to come out – I’ll just point out that at the end of the movie, Marcus’s ‘grand gesture’ doesn’t make sense either - the sacrifice he makes wasn't necessary. See, this is what happens when you start a franchise that relies on time travel in EVERY episode – things get bogged down in nonsense. Time travel is a nifty little gimmick to use once, maybe twice, but when you let it become a ‘regular’ part of your franchise’s existence; you’ve turned an impossible circumstance to begin with into a mockery of itself. Traveling backward in time is impossible – You can’t recreate that which has already happened, so any storyline using that plot twist is a complete fantasy. In order to make Terminator’s ‘fantasy’ future world more believable they needed to stop relying on the time traveling gimmick. 2018 isn’t that far away (Is 2018 the new 1984?) The world that was depicted in Terminator Salvation was too much in ruin to be believable as well. I complain about all of this because I did like the idea of ‘Marcus’; a man that doesn’t realize he’s been Steve Austin’d. & this would have been a decent film if it WASN’T terminator’d.

The acting here was fine, despite the convoluted plot. Anton Yelchin (The new ‘Chekov’) wasn’t very believable as Kyle Reese only because I couldn’t picture him as Christian Bale’s father no matter how far I tried to stretch my imagination! Worthington & Bale almost made it worth seeing – those who think Worthington ‘out-acted’ Bale are as confused as this franchise – Sam had the better role & did a fantastic job with it, but Christian, who didn’t have much to do other than shoot at a green screen, shined in his rare opportunities to actually ‘act’ - I especially liked the scene where John asks Marcus “You think you’re human?”
& finally, a big surprise to me was Bryce Dallas Howard (Opie Cunningham’s little girl) Not that she could act, she’s proven to be a capable actress in the past, but that she actually looks kind of hot in some scenes... Oh, & the Asian chick with the weird name reminds me of another complaint I have; The ‘head’ computer that controls the robots appears to Marcus as the doctor (Helena Bonham Carter) that asked him to sign over his body to science after his death because ‘it’ wanted to appear as someone he’d feel ‘comfortable with – ‘It’ then changes into John Conner, Kyle Reese & then back to the doctor again... why wouldn’t it appear to him as Blair, the Asian girl that he adored? The time traveling aspect made this film confusing enough, but that one was a no-brainer...


“MY LIFE IN RUINS” (Nia Vardalos & Richard Dreyfuss)

My wife wanted to see it – cost $3 a ticket – I like Dick.
This isn’t a horrible film as long as you know you’re not going to be entertained by it.
But as it rolled along being bland & predictable, I didn’t see anything that made me hate it. So, with that in mind – it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.
Unfortunately, star Nia Vardalos is in every scene & even though I know many find her likable, I do not. I never saw the film that made her a star for 15 minutes – the Greek Wedding movie – so this is the first time I’ve seen her attempt to act & she is... pathetic. Pathetic AND annoying. She mugs for the camera; she thinks she’s cute & adorable, but she’s supposed to be playing a lovable loser. Now, the loser part she pulls off, the rest of her character’s personality traits seemed forced, at best. She is an awful actress, one who seems to think having big brown eyes makes her talented.
The basic plot here has Georgia (Vardalos) a boring Greek tour guide for a struggling company who takes her vacationers to historic places & explains why they are important. Her ‘opponent’, the ‘popular’ guide takes his groups to exciting places like gift shops & ice cream parlors. When the smarmy guide starts taking Georgia’s group away from her, she finally fights back by adding sexual innuendos into her historical references. & of course, it works.
Included in her group is a sarcastic widower (Dreyfuss) who becomes a saint to the group & there’s a hint that he isn’t what he seems, but is actually Georgia’s guardian angel. Harland Williams & Rachel Dratch play the dumb-ass Americans & add absolutely nothing in the way of humor (I had hopes for them & they let me down) In fact, they become extremely annoying in that they keep calling Georgia, ‘Angie’ because they think she looks like Angelina Jolie . . . W T F ? & of course, Vardalos bats her big brown eyes & smiles in agreement as she says, ‘oh, pishaw!’
A young chubby American is ridiculed by the popular tour guide who gives him a shirt with writing on it in Greek, which when translated insinuates that he’s gay. After being humiliated, I wanted the 2 horny Spanish divorcees out on the prowl for new husbands with their recent breast implants to throw the guy a bone, but they end up in Dick’s bed instead – which didn’t work with the plot at all.
Romantic subplots involving Georgia’s attraction to an IHOP salesman & the bus driver, Poupi, are meant to be heartfelt & humorous – they are neither – they’re only stepping stones to lead us to the inevitable happy ending where Georgia triumphs over the popular guide & everyone lives happily ever after . . . except Dick, who dies.

Monday, August 3, 2009


“The HURT LOCKER” (Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie & Brian Geraghty)

Those who are saying that this is the best movie they’ve seen this year are either really into war movies or have watched nothing but crap so far this year. ‘Hurt Locker’ doesn’t even crack my top 10 of 2009 & here’s why you shouldn’t like it – the entire premise deals with two soldiers in Iraq who are worried about losing their lives because their new ‘loose cannon’ leader puts them in dangerous situations with his ‘hot dog’ approach to their job – which is diffusing bombs. The reason this premise doesn’t make any sense at all is due to what takes place prior to the new Sergeant being added to their small troop; the old Sergeant was killed because one of the two soldiers didn’t do his job...
For those of you who haven’t seen it & are planning to, you should probably stop here – I am going to tell you what happens in the first 20 minutes or so; in other words the set-up,
so if you read on, the opening will seem boring to you because you’ll know everything that’s going to happen... Just a warning I felt I should put first.
The 3 best actors in this film only have cameos & none of them make much of a splash... I’ve got a gory joke line I could put in here, but I won’t.
The talents of Guy Pearce, David Morse & Ralph Fiennes are all wasted in this film. Pearce plays Sgt. Thompson, the initial leader of the bomb squad which includes the two soldiers mentioned earlier –
Anthony Mackie plays Sgt. Sanborn & Brian Geraghty plays Eldridge (The ‘Specialist’)
A bomb is found on an Iraqi village street, so Thompson, Sanborn & Eldridge are sent in to diffuse it. When their robot breaks down, Thompson has to put on the bulky protective suit & go in by foot to fix the mechanism. Sgt. Sanborn announces that Thompson is in ‘the kill zone’ when he reaches an area that is within 25 feet of the explosive device.
They call Eldridge ‘the Specialist’ – Why, I don’t know – throughout the entire film this wimp doesn’t do anything ‘special’ other than whimper & whine over every little thing.
Here’s why this movie doesn’t work – Eldridge sees a man pressing the buttons on his cell phone while Thompson is in the kill zone & he doesn’t shoot him. He yells ‘put down the cell phone or I’ll shoot’ several times, but the man keeps pressing buttons & Eldridge doesn’t shoot him. The bomb goes off & Thompson is killed...
Now, those of you who have seen this & think it’s the best film of the year so far – Why do you think that? The rest of the movie deals with Sanborn & Eldridge being afraid of Thompson’s replacement getting them killed, right? How can that be possible when Sanborn already knows that Eldridge can’t be relied upon to do the correct thing? For all intents & purposes Eldridge is responsible for the death of Thompson – he COULD have & SHOULD have shot the man using the cell phone to explode the bomb & he didn’t. Why isn’t Sanborn ‘uncomfortable’ going out on missions with Eldridge? Sgt. James (Jeremy Renner) didn’t get Thompson killed with his inability to react correctly to a dangerous situation, The Specialist did. The entire film made no sense after that because Sanborn should have insisted Eldridge be removed from duty. In fact, Eldridge’s act of cowardice should have gotten him discharged from the army altogether. So when I see scenes of Sanborn & Eldridge voicing their concerns over Sgt. James’ recklessness possibly getting them killed, I had to chuckle over how stupid those scenes were. Is Sanborn an idiot? No, quite the contrary. So why would he be concerned over Sgt. James & NOT Eldridge. . . To quote Johnny Cochran, “THAT does not make sense!”
Now, to the movie in general; it HAS some very intense scenes – the opening when Thompson is killed & an innocent man with a bomb attached to him were both memorable –but the rest of the film is not. This film could actual be used as the poster child for why the rest of the world hates America – As I watched scene after scene of American soldiers sticking their noses where they don’t belong after America has invaded a country where we don’t belong made me sympathetic to the innocent Iraqi citizens who have to put up with this bull----. Watching this film made me realize that by being there in such an invasive way the only result we are creating is a deeper hatred of our country. My feeling was that we are taking people who were neutral, or Pro-American & turning them against us & the ones that hated us before have no reason to like us now.
Sgt. James is presented as a psycho with a death wish – In other words a perfect soldier. The kind of individual we condemn when they play for the other team.
David Morse plays Colonel Reed who commends James for his fearless, ‘get out of my way & let me take care of this’ attitude because if we had more soldiers like Sgt. James we’d level the playing field with their suicide bombers. Distasteful to think about, but it is, if you’ll pardon the expression, ‘The Ugly Truth’.
After Ralph Fiennes makes his cameo appearance, there is an elongated ‘shoot out’ scene. Not that many rounds are fired, but the scene seems to drag on & on. I guess to add to the ‘reality’ feel of the movie. Which brings me to my latest pet peeve – sh*tty camera work. Once again, I’m sitting in a nice theatre (Kent Station) watching a film that looks as if it was shot with a $200 video camera! Is this the ‘next wave’ in filmmaking? If so, I want a new rating to be added to the system - SC. To warn those of us who want to watch professionally shot films that this movie contains Sh*tty Camerawork. Has the younger generation grown up on MTV videos & ‘reality’ TV shows so they don’t notice the poor ‘grainy’ picture quality & the shaky camera pans? Because it bugs the hell out of me, kids!
“The Hurt Locker” the best movie of ’09? Not by a long shot.
I’d really like those who feel this is a ‘worthy’ film to explain to me why you think that way. Hopefully my take on it will make you reconsider because I think my argument against it is valid. Why would Sanborn be afraid of James when it was Eldridge’s incompetence that got Thompson killed? Just give me a logical answer to that one...


“The UGLY TRUTH” (Katherine Heigl & Gerard Butler)

What is it with Gerard Butler? Does he want to be a manly man action-movie star or a pussy that takes all those chick flick roles that are just too challenging for Matthew McConaughey?
Whereas “The Hangover” used crude humor effectively (& in a somewhat witty way) “The Ugly Truth” tries too hard to be shocking with its frank, sexually explicit dialogue; it is in no way ‘witty’ banter – the use of 4-letter R-Rated words & sexual innuendo falls flat on its face time & time again.
Now, the initial premise isn’t moronic, but the path they take it down is.
Heigl plays Abby, the producer of a morning TV talk show in Sacramento; she’s blonde, spunky & neurotic over the fact that she hasn’t met ‘Mr. Right’ yet. Mmm, there’s an interesting new female character that we’ve never met in a chick flick before. (Insert sarcastic roll of the eyes)
Butler plays Mike ‘Male’-way; the host of a local cable access show called The Ugly Truth where he invites females to call in & prove him wrong. Abby’s show is dumping big time in the ratings, so the manager of the station hires Mike to ‘spice up’ Abby’s dull, stuck-in-a-rut program. Mike miraculously gets the married couple that hosts the show to kiss on camera & suddenly he’s the talk of the town... Wait a minute is this set in Sacramento or Pullman?
In yet another dumb set-up Abby finds herself hanging upside down in a tree outside her house with her panties exposed so the handsome doctor (Eric Winter) that just moved in next door can run out of the shower & rescue her. & wouldn’t you know it, the towel around his waist falls to the ground leaving the doctor’s package pointing directly at Abby’s upside down oral cavity? What will they think of next? Hey, I’ve got an idea – How about something original that doesn’t insult my intelligence?
Mike tells Abby if she does what he tells her to do, she can win the doctor’s heart; Abby agrees because a) being herself doesn’t work & b) the script, written by a thousand chimpanzees, told her to agree to the proposition.
Another major annoyance was the selection of songs that were used – Holy mind-numbing disco-beat, where do they dig up this garbage? It was all like a cross between 80’s techno-pop & hip hop & what I imagine the likes of Britney Spears, etc. put out – just gawdawful junk that invaded my ears until my brain was begging me to stick something smaller than my elbow inside them so the torture would cease!
What I really disliked about this film, and with apologies to the thousand chimps that worked so diligently on the screenplay, is that it wants to come across as being on the ‘cutting edge’ when in actuality, it simple follows the same predictable, boring formula as every other chick-friendly romantic comedy... Proving yet again that chimps are pussies!


“LAND OF THE LOST” (Will Ferrell)

This movie scored a 9 on my ‘laugh-o-meter’ & most of those were counted during the opening & closing scenes with Matt Lauer playing Matt Lauer... When Matt Lauer is the funniest part of your film, can it possibly be any good? The answer, of course, is no (Sorry, Matt, even though you were obviously the best part of this film, the fact that your appearance was a cameo probably helped)
Everyone asks, “Did you watch the original series?” & no, I wasn’t even aware that there was a kid’s show called ‘Land Of The Lost’ prior to the making of this film. When I saw an episode on TV about the same time that the movie came out, I decided to wait until it came to the cheaper theatres to see it... It was worth the wait, I would have felt pretty stupid shelling out $12 to see this. Still, for $6, I’d say it was worth $3 apiece for my wife & I to get out of the heat & watch this silly, typical Will Ferrell ‘fluff’ piece.
As Dr. Rick Marshall, Ferrell goes on the Today show to hawk his book about Time Travel where he is ridiculed by host Matt Lauer. This humorous beginning gives you hope that the rest of the film will be more entertaining than you originally imagined... it isn’t.
Other than the mildly amusing scenes involving the Tyrannosaurus Rex, “Land Of The Lost’ is just that – Lost; a comedy looking desperately for laughs. Anna Friel plays Holly, a woman who believes in Dr. Marshall’s theories & helps him to create his time traveling machine. She does... okay.
Danny McBride plays Will, the guy working at the cheapest ‘museum’ you’d ever set foot in – As Will ‘guides’ Dr. Marshall & Holly through a broken down amusement park ride, the time machine activates & sends them all to a world where time intersects... A land that is ‘lost’. . . too bad somebody found it.
Jorma Something (an ex-member of Jefferson Airplane) plays a ‘monkeyman’ named Chaka who befriends the lost trio after they save him from being executed & together they do battle with various dinosaurs & lizard men in rubber suits. Fortunately only 2 of these lizard men has the ability to speak & one of them sounds uncannily like Mr. Spock(The old one, not the new one)
One of the problems I had with this movie is the Ferrell/McBride combo – it just didn’t work for me. It seemed as though they thought they were funnier than they actually were. One of those – ‘All we have to do is stand here & say whatever stupid lines come into our heads & it’s bound to be hilarious because we are so freaking funny’ - situations.
Having recently viewed ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ again, it makes me wonder why Ferrell has decided to never again venture into a meaningful role & spend the rest of his career doling out one piece of crap after another? So that every time a Will Ferrell movie comes out everyone will have low expectations and when it has a modicum of amusement value the movie going public will at least be slightly impressed?
I don't get it.


“DRAG ME TO HELL” (Alison Lohman)

This movie is so extraordinarily awful & ridiculous it’s bound to become a ‘cult classic’... it is THAT stupid. Yes, many scenes are meant to be laughed at – yet Director/Co-Writer Sam Raimi clearly intends to ‘gross out’ his audience as well.
So what you have is a total mess; a film that can’t decide if it wants to be a ‘legitimate’ horror movie or a campy ‘spoof’ of the genre.
Why Alison Lohman interrupted a promising career to star in this low-rent vehicle is beyond me (I guess Lindsay Lohan was too wasted to sign on the dotted line)
Alison plays Christine Brown, the head of the ‘loans’ dept. at a bank where she’s vying against newcomer/office suck-up ‘Stu’ for the Assistant Manager’s position.
When a disgusting looking old woman named Mrs. Ganush(Lorna Raver) shows up at her desk asking for a third extension on her home loan, Christine decides to play hardball with the old bat & turns her down. Mrs. Ganush goes ballistic & puts a curse on Christine by pulling a button from her jacket (Don’t ask, I won’t tell)
When creepy shadows start following Christine around & rattling her pots & pans, she
goes to a fortune teller (Rham Jas) who tells her she’s been cursed & the demon called Lamia will haunt her for 3 days & then take her to hell on the 4th day unless she can somehow remove the curse.
Some of the movie’s campy-ness works; when Christine is invited to meet & have dinner with her boyfriend’s parents & she sees Mrs. Ganush’s glass eye staring at her from her slice of cake – THAT was eerie & funny. When Christine & Mrs. Ganush ‘do battle’ in a parking garage – THAT was meant to cater to the lowest common denominator of entertainment values.
I’ve never had a problem with Justin Long before, but in his role as Christine’s boyfriend, college professor Clay Dalton, Long sucks big time. Not for one single second did I buy him as a college professor. Plus, Alison is much too pretty to be matched with an unattractive personality-challenged bore like Clay Dalton.
Why, you ask, would I go see something like ‘Drag Me To Hell’? I grew up on the horror monster classics (Frankenstein, Dracula & The Wolf Man) & even though I can’t stand the ‘slasher’ type films that came along later, I’ve always been a sucker for a good demonic possession or something that tried to pay homage to the monster films of my youth (meaning ‘Van Helsing’ specifically) I read that ‘DMTH’ was a ‘throw-back’ to the way horror movies used to be made, so when it came to the Gateway theatre in Federal Way, & the temperature rose into the 90’s, I paid a dollar to cool off & watch a movie I knew my wife would have no interest in seeing.
Bad thing about only paying $1 to see a movie – Riff raff. The audiences are atrocious; its as though they feel it is their duty to try & spoil the movie for everyone else by trying to be as annoying as possible throughout the show. Cell phones are not turned off, comments are not whispered & one large group of teens sat in the first few rows & didn’t even appear to watch the screen at all.
Needless to say, I won’t be going on $1 Tuesday ever again, since this is the same type of aggravation I had to put up with the last time I attended a ‘cheap’ showing...
Back to the film itself, I will say that the final scene did bring a smirk to my face – so it has a positive ending going for it. Since it only cost me a buck to see ‘Drag Me To Hell’ I don’t feel cheated out of my money – Like I said, it’s sooo bad, it’s actual kind of fun to watch – If I didn’t know better, I’d think that Ed Wood returned from the dead & inhabited Sam Raimi’s body for the sole purpose of coming back to make the ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ of the 21st century. It's a wonder Sam didn't credit the name Alan Smithee for directing this...