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Monthly Archives: February 2011

2011 Oscar Picks for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards

academy awards oscar statue

"I still can't believe Return of the King won best picture over Mystic River in 03."

The 83rd Annual Academy Awards are tomorrow (February 27th, 2011), and despite not having seen every movie that’s nominated, I’m going to make some picks anyway.  Given that I haven’t seen everything, I’m just picking between the movies I have seen and will indicate the movies I have not seen with a strikethrough the title, so Toy Story 3 will look like this:  Toy Story 3.  I’ll indicate my pick by setting the title of the movie to bold, so Inception will look like this:  Inception.  Yeah, I say Inception because you’re going to see me pick that movie a lot, so if you didn’t like Inception, you might take serious issue with this post!

Best Picture
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Yeah, I’m going with Inception.  Inception is the most original movie I’ve seen in some time, and it messed with my mind a little bit – what more can you ask for?  Everything was great about this movie; I wouldn’t change a thing:  the performances, directing, cinematography, music… just awesome.  I can say the same for The King’s Speech, but as much as I loved that movie, I kinda feel like I’ve seen that movie before.  I’m really sorry I didn’t get a chance to see Black Swan, but I’m kinda under the impression that if you’ve seen one Darren Aronofsky movie about a character on a downward spiral, you’ve seen them all.  I will get to it though; LOVE that Natalie Portman!  I have no idea what True Grit is doing on this list.  It was an OK movie, but I’m shocked at how much praise it’s got from the Academy:  10 nominations?  10?  I have no idea what movie they watched…  and it’s a remake, and yes, like Scarface, it’s superior to the original, but there is nothing special about this movie except for the unlikely performance in a leading role by a young actress.

Director
Darren Aronofsky Black Swan
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen True Grit
David Fincher The Social Network
Tom Hooper The King’s Speech
David O. Russell The Fighter

Uhm… where’s Christopher Nolan?  Inception didn’t direct itself, did it?  How can you nominate a movie for best picture and then snub the director?  I know it was bound to happen with 10 best picture nominees and only 5 best director nominees (that makes sense how?), but really, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen get nominated for True Grit, a movie that could have directed itself and Christopher Nolan doesn’t?  What the hell is that shiz?  This is totally weak.  I decided to go with David Fincher because The Social Network looked like a difficult movie to direct due to it’s nonlinear format and having Armie Hammer play both of the Winklevoss twins…  Frankly, I just kinda threw a dart and picked The Social Network because I’m so disappointed Christopher Nolan isn’t here.

Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem Biutiful
Jeff Bridges True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg The Social Network
Colin Firth The King’s Speech
James Franco 127 Hours

I’m sure James Franco is deserving of an award for his role in 127 Hours, during which I understand he’s on screen for virtually every frame of the film and often by himself, but I still haven’t seen this movie.  I had a hard time picking between Jesse Eisenberg and Colin Firth, but I think I finally settled on Mr. Firth because not only was he brilliant in The King’s Speech, but I was annoyed he didn’t get the accolades he deserved for his role in A Single Man.  The man is a genius and he should get an award every year!  The best part of The Social Network was the performances, so it’s hard not to pick Mr. Eisenberg, but whatever – I think he’ll get another chance.  (Note:  there was a tiny bit of, “I don’t want to sleep on the couch tonight” that went into picking Mr. Firth, but not enough that it cost Mr. Eisenberg my pick – it was close, though.)

Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman Black Swan
Michelle Williams Blue Valentine

Still haven’t seen any of these movies.  My fault.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld True Grit
Jacki Weaver Animal Kingdom

This was a tough decision!  It’s hard not to pick Hailee Steinfeld, given that she had so much more screen time than the other ladies, but that’s because she was the lead in True Grit.  I don’t understand why the Academy allows producers to submit folks for awards that they clearly don’t qualify for.  This makes no sense, “I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”  I was close to picking Helena Bonham Carter, who is a brilliant in everything, but I decided to go with Amy Adams.  Ms. Adams completely changed my opinion of who she was and what she was capable of with this one role, and I won’t forget it.  And I was particularly pleased that she looked like a real person in this movie and not a air-brushed, one dimensional love interested.  This was a tough decision!

Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale The Fighter
John Hawkes Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner The Town
Mark Ruffalo The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush The King’s Speech

This was also a tough decision, and I only had to pick between Christian Bale and Geoffrey Rush, but I had to go with Mr. Bale, who is great in everything, and although I’ve seen him play a variety of roles, he really blew my mind in The Fighter.

Original Screenplay
Another Year Mike Leigh
Inception Christopher Nolan
The Fighter Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson
The Kids Are All Right Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg
The King’s Speech David Seidler

Again, Inception was awesome…  The King’s Speech and History was based on actual events… not very original!

Adapted Screenplay
127 Hours Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 Michael Arndt
True Grit Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Winter’s Bone Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini

Uhm… True Grit, I guess.  My understanding is that the only story about Facebook that is less accurate than The Social Network is the book it was based on, The Accidental Billionaires, which I understand Aaron Sorkin didn’t bother to read until right before he completed the screenplay.

Foreign Language Film
Biutiful Mexico
Dogtooth Greece
In a Better World Denmark
Incendies Canada
Outside the Law Algeria

Sorry, I’m always about a year behind on this category.

Animated Feature
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

No Despicable Me?  What the hell happened?  Sure, it might have been a little predictable, but then, so was The King’s Speech… or True Grit, or most of the movies nominated for best picture, so I don’t know why Despicable Me doesn’t get any love.

Original Score
127 Hours
How to Train Your Dragon
Inception
The King’s Speech
The Social Network

Really, The Social Network’s boring ass score of chords and whole notes by Trent Reznor (and somebody else, I forget who) was good enough to make the list of top five scores of the year?  Garbage.  I don’t remember anything about The King’s Speech score, but I liked the Inception score a lot, so this was a no brainer for me.

Original Song
Coming Home Country Strong
I See the Light Tangled
If I Rise 127 Hours
We Belong Together Toy Story 3

Here’s a rare category where you can just go to YouTube and listen to the songs, which is what I did because I didn’t see any of these movies, so I’m listening to them out of context, but whatever.  Here are my thoughts after listening to each song once:  they’re all boring as hell.  Even We Belong Together from Toy Story 3, which maybe be the only song in the group to be a bit upbeat (yeah, a song called “If I Rise” isn’t upbeat at all – how did that happen?  Sounds like a kick ass Gospel song,but nope), but We Belong Together was written by Randy Newman, and, well… if you didn’t already know, all Randy Newman songs sound basically the same, and they all suck.  So, I’m not picking any of these songs.  Instead, I’ll refer you to the 1971 winner, The Theme from Shaft by Issac Hayes.  Can you dig it?

Art Direction
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Inception
The King’s Speech
True Grit

I flipped through Alice in Wonderland, but didn’t actually watch the movie, but I didn’t see anything special here… in fact, it looked like CG at it’s worst… the movie looked like they filmed the entire thing in a studio and the movie was worse for it.  The King’s Speech is up for Art Direction?  It was a period piece, it’s not like they were making shiz up…  as was True Grit, so I don’t get that selection, either.  I think I have to go with Inception again, which had truly inspired art direction… Harry Potter is a close second, particularly for the sequence that took place at the Ministry of Magic.

Cinematography
Black Swan
Inception
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Uhm, yeah, Inception.  Easily.  I won’t waste your time explaining why.  The Social Network is on here?  Are you serious?  What, for that shot during the rowing race?  Whatever.

Costume Design
Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The King’s Speech
The Tempest
True Grit

Wish I’d seen this movie I Am Love, so I could have yelled at the screen, “No, I am love!”  But yeah…  picking costume design award between two period pieces… I’ll go with… uhm… [flipping coin] heads – I mean, The Kings Speech.

Makeup
Barney’s Version
The Way Back
The Wolfman

Sorry, didn’t see any of these movies.

Documentary Feature
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Gasland
Inside Job
Restrepo
Waste Land

Sorry, didn’t see any of these documentaries.

Sound Mixing
Inception
Salt
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Again, Inception, easily – the other choices called for significantly less mixing, so this is a poor mix of choices.  And without seeing it, I guarantee you Salt had twice as much mixing to be done than Speech, Network or Grit.

Sound Editing
Inception
Toy Story 3
Tron: Legacy
True Grit
Unstoppable

I’m going with Inception again – a lot more sound editing than True Grit, so not really fair.

Visual Effects
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Hereafter
Inception
Iron Man 2

The effects I saw from Alice in Wonderland were pretty shizzy, but whatever.  I’ll go with Harry Potter on this one – Harry probably should have been up for cinematography, too – that movie was beautiful.

Film Editing
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
The King’s Speech

The Social Network

Really, no Inception?    I bet 127 hours was a pain in the ass to edit – they must of cut the shiz out of that movie to make it move nicely with James Franco being the only character on screen for the majority of the film and stuck in one place.  Crazy.  So I’ll throw my dart and hit…  The Social Network, due to it’s nonlinear story format.  I was considering The Fighter for the cutting of the fight scenes, but whatever.

Short Film, Animated
Day & Night Teddy Newton
Let’s Pollute Geefwee Boedoe
Madagascar, a Journey Diary Bastien Dubois
The Gruffalo Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
The Lost Thing Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann

Sorry, I didn’t see any of these short animated films.

Short Film, Live Action
God of Love Luke Matheny
Na Wewe Ivan Goldschmidt
The Confession Tanel Toom
The Crush Michael Creagh
Wish 143 Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

Sorry, I didn’t see any of these short live action films.

Documentary Short Subject
Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang

Sorry, I didn’t see any of these documentary short subject films.  What the hell does that mean, anyway… short subject?  Don’t they mean ‘short’ in duration?  What the hell subject is short?  Pomeranians?

Thanks for checking out my Oscar picks, it was fun for me!

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A Fly On The Wall: Michael Jordan And His Hitler Mustache

Welcome to A Fly On The Wall, a feature that imagines what it would be like to hear conversations that  may or may not have ever actually occurred.  This time, we’ll use our fly power to head over to Michael Jordan’s house and listen in on a conversation he may or may not of had with his agent.

AGENT:  Hey, there’s my guy!  There’s my guy!  How the hell are you, Michael?!?

MICHAEL:  Doing well.  Yourself?

AGENT:  I am fantastic, Michael – I am fantastic because right now, I have in my possession two items:  a gigantic check to you from Hanes and, of less importance, the commercials from the Flight #23 campaign.

MICHAEL:  Nice!  So you want to watch the spots or have a money fight?

mr burns mr smithers money fight the simpsons

Burns only has more money than Jordan because Burns doesn’t gamble.

AGENT:  Can’t we do both?

MICHAEL:  Ha!  Yes, but just to make sure I don’t look like an asshole, let’s light up some cigars and watch the Hanes spots first.

AGENT:  Cool.

MICHAEL:  Didn’t have one line in that spot and I’m still awesome.

AGENT:  Yeah…  uhm, yeah…  lets see the next one.

MICHAEL:  Even got a biblical reference in this one.  Nice.

AGENT:  Yeah, you did… Michael, did you shoot all of these spots on the same day?

MICHAEL:  Yep, one long, grueling day.  Why do you ask?

AGENT:  Oh my God.

MICHAEL:  What’s the matter?

AGENT:  Fuck.

MICHAEL:  What?

AGENT:  Fuck, fuck, FUCK! Holy shit, Michael!  What the hell were you thinking?

MICHAEL:  What’s wrong?

AGENT:  Fuck, Michael, do you have to ask?  You just made fifteen underwear commercials in which you have a Hitler mustache!

Hitler Mustache Michael Jordan Hitler Mustache Hanes

Pictured Left:  Crazy Person.  Pictured Right:  Crazy Mustache.

MICHAEL:  Oh that.  Yeah, I know.

AGENT:  You know?

MICHAEL:  Of course I know.  I do shave myself.

AGENT:  What the hell were you thinking?

MICHAEL:  I’m taking it back.

AGENT:  Taking it back?

MICHAEL:  Yep.

AGENT:  Taking it back.

MICHAEL:  You got it.

AGENT:  Michael, one doesn’t simply take back the Hitler mustache.

MICHAEL:  True enough; however, not everybody is me.

AGENT:  Meaning?

MICHAEL:  Meaning that bastard has held on to the look for decades – he’s been dead since 1945, and I think it’s time to take it back.

AGENT:  You can’t take it back.

MICHAEL:  The hell I can’t.  I can do anything!

AGENT:  Except hit a baseball.

Michael Jordon Chicago White Sox Baseball strikes out sports illustrated

Too bad Jordan wasn’t on the same team as Jose Canseco.

Read the rest of this entry

Cop Out vs The Other Guys movie review

Having seen two buddy movies of the cop variety within a few days of each other, I can’t help but compare and contrast Cop Out and The Other Guys – it’s time for a Buddy Cop Movie Smack Down!

spoiler alert

The IMDB description of The Other Guys reads, in part:  “Two mismatched New York City detectives seize an opportunity to step up like the city’s top cops whom they idolize — only things don’t quite go as planned.”  I take exception to that; I didn’t find Will Ferrell or Mark Wahlberg to be especially mismatched.  Both characters were extremely weird – going into the film, you expected Ferrell to be the crazy guy and Wahlberg to be the straight man, but it’s not like that; neither of them play the straight man, they’re both just crazy.  While Ferrell’s character tries to control his inner demons by insulating himself from the outside world, Wahlberg’s character just screams at everybody, unable to harness his anger into anything constructive.  They play off each other well as actors, but the script never defines their roles – the characters are too similar, despite Wahlberg’s barking and Ferrell’s straight faced insanity; you end up with Wahlberg’s character complaining that he’s stuck with Ferrell’s, while Ferrell’s would be equally justified in voicing similar complaints.

I saw the unrated version and frankly, I think this was just a marketing ploy – it was just a version of the movie that was not rated by the MPAA; there wasn’t anything racy in it; I’m guessing it was longer than the theatrical version, and if that’s the case, watching this version was a mistake, because the movie is just too long…  yep, here it is:  107 min rated, 116 min unrated… but even 107 minutes was too long.  The movie just isn’t paced well.

Now that’s not to say there aren’t laughs, because there are a ton of great jokes running through the entire film, and with two cameos by Derek Jeter, how can you go wrong?  Well, I wouldn’t go as far as to say they got it right, because the movie is a comedy and it’s funny, but I certainly wouldn’t watch it again.

My Rating: 3 out of 5

Moving on…

A few nights later, I saw Cop Out, and given my high expectations by the joining of three of my favorite talents (Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan and Kevin Smith), I wasn’t disappointed.  Tracey Morgan sets the tone for the movie right away as he interrogates a criminal with a series of quotes from various movies, much to the delight of his coworkers.  This opening sequence, including before the interrogation, during which Morgan’s character gives Willis’ character an anniversary card celebrating their partnership sets up the entire movie:  sure, both characters are silly, but Morgan is the executive in charge of  insanity in this flick.  Willis makes jokes, sure, but he’s the straight man and Morgan is a maniac, running around in a cell phone costume and planting a nanny cam in his bedroom to check if his wife is cheating on him.  As an added bonus, supporting actors include Kevin Pollak and  Guillermo Díaz (he’s Scarface in Half Baked, amongst many other acting credits and just being one of the funniest guys around – in a rare roll here as the bad guy), who bring a level of depth to the movie I did not expect.  And just to add a little somethin-somethin, we also get Jason Lee, Rashida Jones and Seann William Scott.  Beyond the performances, the script is well crafted and the movie is well paced and edited.  And, I can’t believe I’m saying this about a Kevin Smith movie, but the flick actually looks pretty good; the camera moves around, there are reveals…  stuff I didn’t know David Klein was capable of.  There was a weird helicopter shot at the very end of the movie, but whatever.  I really liked this movie, and I’ll watch it again, no doubt.

My Rating: 4 out of 5

 

In my view, Cop Out kicks The Other Guys’ ass, and easily at that.  The version I saw of The Other Guys was only 9 minutes longer than Cop Out, yet Cop Out moves so much faster and is just straight up funnier, has better action sequences and overall flow.  Sure, The Other Guys is a decent enough movie, but it’s just not in the same class as Cop Out.  Who knows, over time, i wouldn’t be surprised if I raise Cop Out’s score a bit; I think I was disappointed Jason Lee wasn’t in the movie more, and that might have held me back a little – so an update to 4.3 or 4.5 could happen as time goes by and I see Cop Out a second or third time.

And that’s what it comes down to – Cop Out is so good, I’d watch it again.  I’m not mad I sat through The Other Guys, but I don’t see myself sitting through it for a second time..

True Grit 2010 movie review

I finally saw Academy Award Best Picture contender True Grit, directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen.  One can’t help but compare this new version of True Grit with the original film, and I don’t think there is much of an argument that the 2010 version is a better film than the 1969 adaptation of the Charles Portis novel, but I have to wonder why the Coen brothers decided to make this movie in the first place.  (I would guess the Golden Globes had similar questions; I don’t think it earned a single nomination in any category.)

I don’t have much to say about this movie – again, if you saw the original, it’s an experience one can only have while watching a remake.  Sure, it’s not shot for shot like that new version of Psycho, but it was still strange.  This time around, we get Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn, and while I love me some John Wayne, it’s not hard to see that Bridges is the superior actor – and that’s pretty much the theme throughout the entire movie; it’s pretty much the same movie as last time around, but the acting is better, the editing and directing is done with more care, the film is grittier.  (That’s right, I went there.  Delicious pun.)  Hailee Steinfeld is better than Kim Darby as Mattie Ross; Matt Damon is infinitely better than Glen Campbell (who straight up can’t act) as La Boeuf… exchange Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper for Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper (well, not exactly – Jeff Corey played Tom Chaney in the original rather than Josh Brolin…  but I’m going with an exchange of star power here, not direct roles) and yes, the new cast outshines the old with their performances.

True Grit 2010 is worth seeing if you don’t know the story or haven’t see the original – no, it’s probably still worth seeing.  The only reason to see True Grit 1969 is the lush landscapes and ancient film stock – movies just don’t look like that anymore!  Now I haven’t seen the original or read the book in over fifteen years, and I’m the sort of person who watches/reads the same thing over and over, and yet, I don’t think there is much in the way of an unsure moment in the entire movie.  It’s an old fashioned story, so you know the bad guys are going to lose and the good guys will live, and neither version ever supplies a moment where you think otherwise.  It’s not a bad story, it’s just a safe one; True Grit is an old fashioned western, no more, no less.  The 2010 ensemble does a great job, but unless you love the western genre, I wouldn’t exactly call it a must see.  (It is great to see Barry Pepper in a movie, though.)  If it’s still playing in theaters and you have to get your Oscar on, well, go ahead, I guess.  Otherwise, I’d wait for DVD.

My Rating: 3.8 out of 5

Digital Video Still: Golden Retriever and Siberian Husky

Now that I’m embarking onto a foray into digital video (I started in VHS-C, then moved to Digital 8… which was probably a step in the wrong direction), I’m experimenting with capturing a Digital Video Still Image from a video.  The technique I’ve used here is about as low tech as it gets – I simply did a screen grab from the YouTube video I posted of my  Golden Retriever and Siberian Husky playing in the snow.  I dropped that in Microsoft Paint (again, extremely low tech), cropped out what I didn’t want and boom, there you go.

dogs in the snow

Click the picks to enlarge.

 

Bradley Whitford: From Bad Guy To Smart Guy

bradley whitfordYou know who I really like that doesn’t get enough play?  Bradley Whitford.  You know who I mean?  He was Josh Lyman on The West Wing, but that’s not where I first saw him.  Way back when 1987’s Adventures in Babysitting came to TV, Whitford was playing Mike Todwell, the bad guy – and this is where he got type cast for some time.  Think about any old movies you’ve seen Whitford in; remember Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise?  Also came out in 1987, also features Whitford as a bad guy.  And you know what?  He’s awesome at it.  It’s not like Ben Affleck’s early career as a baddie (Dazed and Confused, Mallrats) – Aflleck is huge and looks like he can kick your ass in those movies, where as Whitford is playing the asshole and doing a great job at it.  Then, in 1995’s Billy Madison, who’s playing the bad guy?  Yep, it’s Bradley Whitford again, doing that awesome weasel laugh!  Just awesome, I love this guy!

Jump over to 1999 and boom – it’s West Wing time and now Whitford is playing the role he’s probably best known for:  Josh Lyman, an adviser to the President!  He’s a good guy and he’s awesome, delivering his lines (it helps that they’re good lines, probably written by Aaron Sorkin) with impeccable timing.  Maybe it’s not fair to say, “just like that,” but just like that, I had forgotten who Whitford was every time I saw him and accepted him against type.  It’s that easy, because he’s that good.

Bradley Whitford is awesome.  He’s a character actor, the ultimate supporting guy, and he deserves more play.  Too bad Sorkin couldn’t find a spot for him in The Social Network – he deserves the exposure.  Hey, if anyone is looking for somebody to play a character in their flick and want an actor who can do smart, funny, whitty and asshole all at the same time, give Bradley Whitford a call – he’s the man!

Dogs in the Snow video

Welcome to my first video offering, Dogs in the Snow.  Here, you’ll get a simple glimpse of my Golden Retriever and Siberian Husky playing in the snow.  Not much going on here – just a few tiny edits.

I shot this on my new Canon VIXIA HF M300.  It’s incredible how tiny this camera is and the results speak for themselves.  It has pretty much everything I could want in a camcorder – it’s light weight, mic input, video light, camera flash, headphone jack – it’s pretty sweet.  This was a generous gift from my sister and brother in law.  I edited this with the software it came with (if you can call that editing), and it’s clear that the PIXELA Image Mixer software is just not up to the challenge – if you’re used to Final Cut or Adobe Premier, the primitive controls and pathetic playback abilities will make you nuts in moments.  I don’t know what I expected for free software that came with the camera, but it sucks.

This is also my first upload to YouTube – it was pretty easy.  However, if you can edit the description after you post the video, I haven’t figured out how.  Anyway, there’s more to videos to come!

more Dog Videos at creativejamie.com/category/video/dogs-video/

Captain America Trailer Delights Me During The Super Bowl

Since the Giants didn’t make it to the Super Bowl this year, I wasn’t too excited about the game, but not only did we get a pretty good contest against the Packers and the Steelers, but the Captain America Trailer finally dropped – and it kicked my ass!

As a (nearly) life long Captain America fan, I’ve been waiting for this movie for a long time – especially after the disastrous Captain America 1990 movie.  The only thing worse than the casting, acting (actually, I remember thinking that Scott Paulin was good as The Red Skull), cinematography and soundtrack is the writing – when Cap jumps out of the plane, he’s scared.  Now Steve Rogers is a character that is well rounded and fully capable of experiencing and expressing the emotion of fear in a believable way, but he would never be afraid of something like heights or jumping out a plane…  because, you know… he’s Captain America!  Jumping out of planes is part of the job description.  The movie available on YouTube in it’s entirety – watch it if you dare.

This Captain America movie looks like it’s going to get it right.  Sure, we’re probably not going to get any Invaders and I’m guessing Bucky isn’t going to be in spandex, but you can’t have everything – at least it looks like the Howling Commandos are going to be at his side, and that’s something.  The most important thing to get right here is what they effed up so terribly in 1990 – getting Steve Rogers character right is essential, and I like what I’m seeing so far.  After the Rebirth sequence is over, he’s asked, “How do you feel?” to which he responds, “Taller,” which is a perfect Steve Rogers response.  But more than that, the words we hear Dr. Erskine tell Steve at the beginning of the trailer are so important, “Whatever happens, stay who you are – not just a soldier, but a good man.”  That’s who Steve Rogers is – he’s the best of men:  selfless, fearless and compassionate.  If that’s the character that shows up here, not the jerk who showed up in 1990, this could be a really fun movie.

Of course, we’ll find out in July if the movie really is any good, but the trailer has set my expectations high.  I can only hope they’re met.

UPDATED: Full Trailer now available!

Groundhog Day movie review

Before I get into this, I just want to make it clear to you that Groundhog Day is one of my favorite comedies of all time and Bill Murray is a great hero of mine, so you’ll get little objectivity from me.

Groundhog Day is the 1993 classic comedy about a weather man stuck on the titular day of the same year, doomed to repeat it over and over again for no reason and with no hope of escape.

You can’t help but laugh at this trailer – on the one hand, there’s some funny stuff there.  On the other hand, it’s got that really silly trailer voice over style and script that makes you cringe:  lines like, “But he’s about to find out…” and “But now, he’s discovering…”  Also, the shot with Phil punching Ned in the face is not the take that appears in the movie, but whatever.  The character actors are great, Bill Murray and Chris Elliot are hilarious, and Andie MacDowell is at her most tolerable.  Harold Ramis directs, and does a damn fine job, too – I love his visual style and timing.

The most interesting thing you can say about Groundhog day is that the original screenplay contained elements that would have ruined the film, and making the movie ruined Harold Ramis and Bill Murray’s friendship for over a decade.   Apparently, the screenplay opened in the middle of the narrative, Rita and Phil were both going through the loop together, an ex-girlfriend at channel six put a voodoo curse on Phil which initiates the time loop…  Those were bad ideas.

All that aside, it’s fair to say that the movie raises questions that it doesn’t even attempt to answer, such as, “Why is Phil repeating the same day over and over?” or “What will it take to get the loop to end?” or “How long is Phil stuck in the loop?”  or “What is causing the loop in the first place?”  Answering any of these questions would have probably turned the movie into an episode of Star Trek:  The Next Generation, but the thing that makes Groundhog day such a great movie is that you never wonder about any of these questions for a second while you’re watching the movie because it’s done so well.  The movie is a character piece, about how and why Phil changes and deals with situations as he grows into a better, more mature person.  Groundhog day isn’t just one of the great offbeat comedies of the nineties, it’s one of the best films of all time.  I have seen this movie an uncounted number of times – it never gets old, and I can’t imagine ever getting tired of it.  Long live Groundhog day!

My Rating: 5 out of 5

I can’t stop there…  here are a few of my favorite bits from Groundhog Day, completely out of context:

RED movie review

Given that I never got around to writing about RED when I saw it in theaters, now seems like the right time to get back to it, given that it came out on DVD last week – January 25, to be exact.

Yeah, I saw RED in theaters, if you can believe it – and we had to sit all the way up front as it was a full house.  No, we weren’t late, the place was just blowin’ up with peeps.  Any why?  A star studded cast and a fine looking trailer looked like we were getting set for a comedic romp through shoot ’em up and blow ’em to hell country.

Well, it didn’t exactly go down like that, did it?  The movie starts off in promising fashion:  Bruce Willis, a retired CIA black ops agent is bored living alone in his house, so for amusement, he tears up his pension checks and calls the customer service line so he can chat with Mary-Louise Parker (frankly, I hear that), who is also bored to distraction at her job.  This section of the movie is light and fun – I believe these characters exist and behave as represented – it’s really well done.

It’s pretty much all down hill from here.

Rather than summarizing the movie, suffice it to say that once the budding romance section is over, we enter the things start blowing up section of the movie.  Now I love it when things blow up, but it has to be done better that it was in RED.  The movie doesn’t get boring, but you start to care less about the characters.  We slowly meet the rest of cast as the film plods along:  John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Karl Urban – hell, they even sneak Richard Dreyfuss and Ernest Borgnine into the damn movie!  But all this does is keep you in your seat and your eyes front; it doesn’t draw you into the movie, it just keeps the damn thing on life support.

The movie makes weird choices – sometimes, people are around and they notice the insane comic book violence (which is fine – the movie is based off a comic book mini series of the same name), but other times, they don’t – like when Bruce Willis’s house gets shot to shit in the beginning of the movie, there isn’t so much as a whisper from his neighbors – or the cops, for that matter.  But other times, there are screaming ensembles heading for the exits…  now mind you, this isn’t what’s wrong with the movie, but more of a microcosmic example of a movie that doesn’t know what it is.  Is it a comedy?  A comic book movie?  An action movie?  A romance?  It’s can’t make up its mind, and it doesn’t do any of them well.  But it has wonderful moments, and the first twenty minutes is great.  Oh, and any time Helen Mirren is on the screen, things are going well – there’s something about her in a dress firing high caliber automatic machine guns that just does it for me.  (Remembering, of course, that they’re Retired.  Extremely.  Dangerous.  They’re RED.  Riiiiiiiiiight.)

If you love comic book movies, then you’ll want to see RED.  If not, you might want to skip it all together – it’s a really tough call.  For all it’s problems, it’s a likable movie and therefor gets my Coors Light recommendation:  if it’s there and there is nothing else to drink, then pound it.  At 111 minutes, it’s running a little long, and I could have done without that little vignette at the end; no one should ever have to see John Malkovich in drag – that was cruel… yet not unusual.  (See Being John Malkovich!)

My Rating: 2.8 out of 5

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