Tuesday, October 20, 2009



I find it hard not to like Michael Moore – He makes documentaries where he basically stands up for the ‘little guy’ in America; to say to the heartless big shots that run this country, “Hey, we matter too!”
I find it hard to understand why so many of the ‘common’ people dislike him. None of my friends are rich; I don’t hang out with the so-called ‘upper class’; so I have no idea how they feel about Moore’s work – I would imagine that they hate it because it paints them in such a bad light.
One person said they didn’t like him because he’s a hypocrite (“The only reason he made this movie was to make money”) Well, if Michael Moore is making tons of money off his filmmaking ventures, you wouldn’t know it to look at him – the guy still wears the same frumpy jeans, windbreaker & baseball cap that he wore in his first documentary (‘Roger & Me’ – revisited here) Also, who makes movies to NOT earn money from them?
We went to see “Capitalism” after it had been out for 2 weeks so we could use the free passes we received from purchasing tickets to other films. I couldn’t resist. I even reiterated the point to the girl at the ticket booth, “That’s right I’m using my free pass so I can see ‘Capitalism’ for nothing!” . . . She either didn’t see the irony, or just didn’t give a sh--. (I believe the latter is probably the correct answer)
The small auditorium wasn’t exactly packed; in fact, if I had bothered to take an actual head count, I doubt that I would have needed to use all of the digits on my two hands.
So if Michael Moore is a millionaire who’s biting the hand that feeds him, he deserves an Oscar nomination for his acting ability!
Okay, on to the film itself, which I will go on record right now as saying it is his weakest effort since his debut. Although I found myself nodding my head in agreement quite a few times, I was also shaking my head in disagreement when Moore would go down the wrong path & make his point look ridiculous. I refer to his questionable decision to interview priests to make disparaging remarks toward Capitalism; “It’s EVIL!”
Then a gay priest appears to show support for some displaced workers in Chicago that were not only let go from their jobs but not given benefits they were promised. When the dispute is finally resolved I almost expected Moore’s narration to end with ‘Jesus Saves!’
About 3/4ths of the way thru, he brings in a shining ray of hope by making Barrack Obama’s election as president appear to be the ‘second coming’ of you-know-who.
It kind of splats against the wall when you look at what Obama has actually done so far...
Another annoyance was his rallying cry that the poor people of America can change things with a single vote because their vote counts the same as a filthy rich snob’s vote. That’s being ignorant & naive. No, they don’t. Never have, never will.
But there were ‘fun’ moments too. Even though I saw the exact same interview with Elizabeth Warren, the woman who was put in charge of the billions of taxpayer dollars that was given to bail out the American banking and auto industries on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, it was still a head shaker when she admitted that she had no idea where the money was or what it was used for.
The clip of FDR calling for a ‘2nd Bill Of Rights’ gave me new respect for his extended stint as president, but then again, did he just throw that out there because he knew he was dying? And then the question arises, why didn’t Truman implement this plan during his reign?
Speaking of presidents; Moore shows the difference between a good president who got a bad rap and a bad president who received mostly good publicity with two clips from Jimmy Carter & Ronald Reagan. Carter, sitting alone at his desk in the oval office spells out the truth to the American people; & as anyone in politics knows that is no place to be seen speaking the truth! Then Reagan, with the CEO of Merrill Lynch at his side is seen babbling on about how good things are in this great country of ours. We then discover who really WAS running the country at that point and because of that we knew that the good times weren’t going to last.
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur rips her constituents a new one with a fiery, passionate speech that clearly showed she actually ‘represented’ the people who voted for her.
If all politicians cared about this country as much as Ms. Kaptur we wouldn’t be in the mess we currently find ourselves.
So there are some new revelations & a lot of old ground covered with Moore’s slant & sense of humor involved but it is still worth seeing. If for no other reason than to discover that there’s a thin line between the CEO’s that run America’s biggest corporations & the so-called ‘terrorists’ of the Middle East. If Salman Rushdie ever views this film I’m sure he’ll cock an eyebrow at the memo that ended with the words, ‘Kill Him Dead!’

Monday, October 19, 2009


“COUPLES RETREAT” (Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Kristen Bell, Malin Ackerman, Kristin Davis, Faizon Love & Jean Reno)

The first thing I wrote down in my notebook while watching this film was the word
‘Ass-tastic’; I don’t remember what it means, only that it was stupid. That’s how memorable ‘Couples Retreat’ was – as soon as it was over, I couldn’t erase it from my mind fast enough.
This film starts off bad and only gets worse – Vince Vaughn’s son opens the movie with a ‘pee’ joke (Only funny if you’re a parent, I would assume) and 2 minutes later the same child is involved in a second pee joke - like we didn’t get how hilariously funny it was the first time. I’m not a parent, so a kid peeing in a public place didn’t strike me the least bit funny – I only got annoyed at Vaughn’s poor parenting skills.
The movie then introduces you to Vaughn’s three ‘buddies’ who are just about the worst friends you could possibly imagine; his token fat black loser friend (Faizon Love) calls him & begs him to co-sign for the motorcycle he wants to buy for his 20 year old girlfriend.
Another needy friend, Jason Bateman makes a major imposition upon Vince & the other two couples in order to concoct the premise of this disaster flick & the only thing I remember about Jon Favreau’s introduction is that his character is simply an unlikable arrogant jerk
All 4 male leads have way over-chicked; none of these guys are rich, none of them have sparkling personalities that draw you to them, & most importantly, none of them are FUNNY. 2 of the men have bigger boobs than their mates; 3 of them are cradle robbers, hooking up with ‘girls’ that would normally be cast as their daughters.
There is nothing here that feels ‘real’ – it is just one contrived scene after another; one of those ‘pamphlet’ screenplays where Vince & Jon probably wrote; “couples are visited by a therapist; think of something funny to say.”
The plot is as vacant as the humor; Bateman & Bell don’t let their friends know they’re having marital difficulties until they show them a video about Eden (The retreat) They then inform their friends that they can’t afford to go unless they get 3 other couples to join them for a group rate and that they must decide within 24 hours. Even if my very best friends in the world were to throw something like that at me, I’d not only say no, I’d probably stop taking any phone calls from them... but then again, my friends WOULDN’T do something like that – no TRUE friend would.
Then we get to see these bestest buddies interact with one another & that isn’t a lot of fun either. The token fat black loser, who couldn’t afford a motorcycle suddenly has enough cash to go on this tremendously expensive ‘vacation’? He weighs well over 300 lbs., but yet this cash-flow impaired walking blimp was able to attract a fairly cute twenty year old bimbo to sleep with him?
As soon as they get off the boat, Favreau’s character starts hitting on cute single chicks young enough to be his daughter, & since Jon was one of the scriptwriters, these knock-outs aren’t repulsed by his enormously flabby manboobs - they actually flirt back with him!
The only thing I’ll probably remember about ‘Couples’ Retreat’ is Malin Ackerman’s red hair. Why? The first film I saw her in (Watchmen) she wore a jet black wig and in the second, she was blonde. Although Malin was clearly the most attractive member of the cast, changing the color of her hair hasn’t improved her acting skills. I guess dying her hair is her only way to show she has versatility.

The audience (& my darling wife) seemed to enjoy the scene with the yoga instructor, but by the time this scene appears, I hated these people so much, even that set-up seemed moronic; Oo, look, Fabio is tea-bagging Jason Batemen, isn’t that a hoot! If any of the previous scenes leading up to the tea-bagging yoga instructor had been humorous, I may have gotten a chuckle out of it – but I didn’t like these people or this story – it was like being at a party where everyone just sat around & bitched about the other guests.

You may have noticed that I didn’t bother to write down, or look up the characters names; when I do that, it means the film stunk... excessively.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


“THE INVENTION OF LYING” (Ricky Gervais & Jennifer Garner)

The only thing that kept this movie from being perfect was Jennifer Garner. And I mean her acting & her character – everything negative stems from Jennifer & Anna (the role she plays) On the plus side, I guess she gets some credit for making me dislike her character so fiercely – but she’s supposed to be the Romantic Lead! You’re supposed to like her & want her to stop being such a stuck up b*tch!

But I loved this movie, so I’ll try to concentrate on what made it work.
2 years ago I would have told you Ricky Gervais didn’t have much talent.
Now, it seems the man can do no wrong – After “Ghost Town” & a very funny HBO comedy special, Gervais has come up with another hit – as co-writer/co-director & star of ‘The Invention Of Lying’ he is to be given the bulk of the credit for making this very important film (important to me & those of my ilk)

My constituents who richly add to this blog with their comments have often told me that I need to loosen up & ‘lose myself in the fantasy’ of a film (& not take them so seriously!)
Well, I totally lost myself in Gervais’ fantasy world where no one is able to tell a lie & I took it very seriously – Even though it was the personification of ‘brutality’ in it’s depiction of a brutally honest society – I still liked it better than the one we’re living in.
Gervais plays Mark Bellison; a screenplay writer in this world of complete honesty. And since no one has the ability to ‘make something up’, all screenwriters do is write stories of historical facts that professional readers ‘perform’ while seated next to a desk lamp.
Mark is stuck with the 13th century – the dullest century in history - while rival writer Brad Kessler (Rob Lowe) gets the more modern ‘exciting’ centuries to recreate.

Mark meets Anna on a blind date whereupon she immediately dismisses him for being pudgy & having a pug nose. She announces that she’s going upstairs to finish.... uh, ‘pleasing herself’ since there’s no chance this date will end in a sexual encounter – not even a kiss.
They don’t waste any time in letting you know this is a world much different from ours, even though everything else seems the same.
Advertising is as bland as the readers who sit & read ‘movies’ – a bus rolls by with the billboard ‘Pepsi – when there’s no Coke in the house’.

I don’t want to reveal too much & spoil this film - which I would call a ‘must see’ just from the message it sends – but needless to say Mark becomes the first person in this alternate universe to tell a lie (& it’s a whopper, but with good reason)
But his tall tale becomes a huge burden since no one has the ability to lie (except Mark) so every word he says is taken for truth.
I won’t tell you the set up, but my favorite line came from a woman in a crowd that yells, “We have to stop that bastard before he kills us all!”

Good tunes enhance the soundtrack, including an interesting remake of Cat Stevens’ under-rated “Sitting” by Elvis Costello & comedian Louis C.K. is very funny as Mark’s best friend, Greg (Well, at least Greg THOUGHT he was Mark’s best friend)
Another pleasant surprise are the cameos – Philip Seymour Hoffman takes a laid back approach as a bartender in one scene / While Edward Norton hilariously chews the scenery as a motorcycle cop. Also featured in cameos are Jason Bateman, Tina Fey & Christopher Guest; Bateman (as a doctor) & Fey (as Mark’s secretary) are memorable, Guest (as a movie ‘reader’) is not.

I’ll let you know that two ‘insulted’ couples left the theatre when it became apparent as to what the film was mocking & all I could think was, “I’m glad I’m not as closed minded as you pathetic pinheads.”
This will be in my Top 10 of the year no matter what – Because I think it’s not only funny, but necessary for people to see – if just one person sees this film & changes their mind about what they believe in, it won’t be enough, so that’s why EVERYONE has to go see it...

Monday, October 5, 2009


“The INFORMANT” (Matt Damon & Scott Bakula)

Odd little flick here; not nearly as humorous as the trailer made it seem – in fact, it takes a rather dark twist along the way - & for some reason; one that I can’t quite put my finger on, I still liked it. I guess for being off the wall & not your ‘run of the mill’ whistle-blower story, but yet, there was something missing - it didn't 'sizzle'.
I have nothing bad to say about the movie except the ‘background’ music – it was hideous! Here’s a film that is mainly set in the 1990’s & Marvin HAMlisch’s soundtrack consists of early-60’s ‘cheese’ (ALA ‘Austin Powers’) Plus, it was over-bearing; instead of subtly playing in the background, it kept screaming “Listen to me! Listen to how perky & cheesy I am!” Which begs the question – Why is Marvin Hamlisch still writing soundtracks? Didn’t he peak with ‘The Sting’ when he stole Scott Joplin’s music?

Matt Damon plays Mark Whitacre, a company nerd who fears for his job security so he turns to the FBI when asked to perform duties that Whitacre deems to be illegal.
Scott Bakula plays FBI agent Shepard with such blandness I think he actually put himself to sleep in a couple of scenes. I was looking forward to Seattle native & 'The Soup' host Joel McHale’s appearance as Bakula’s partner and he made me long for his better TV performances as well.
But this is Damon’s vehicle & he does a decent job of driving it from start to finish. The film is about a boring businessman attempting to bring some excitement into his life, and he does succeed at doing that – So I don’t know if I just got tired of Damon’s character’s innocuous screw-ups or that I didn’t ‘buy’ Mark as being a ‘true to life’ person – Could anybody be this stupid & naive & keep a relatively important job? As Mark is presenting the Feds with information that will bring the company he works for crashing to bankruptcy, he asks, “I’ll still be able to keep my job after all this comes down, right? I mean, they’re going to need someone like me to help build up the business again, won’t they?”
Just prior to entering an elevator to attend a meeting with various lawyers, Mark says, “Look, I was lying to you guys before, but I’m going to set the record straight when we get upstairs.”
Other than the background music I don’t have anything negative to say about the film; it was mildly amusing throughout, but the humor didn’t ‘crackle’ (If that makes any sense). It was a fairly interesting plot & yet I felt bored at times.
Decent cast; Rick Overton as Mark’s business associate Terry & Tom Papa as the boss (because his Papa owns the company) are both adequate. I don’t know if it’s just because I was expecting it to be off the wall funny and instead it becomes off the wall serious (While Mark reamins a moron)
They make it very clear up front that ‘The Informant’ is BASED on a true story & that some portions of the plot & dialogue were ‘made up’ to enhance the film... I wondered if they made up the funny parts or the boring parts?