Monthly Archives: February 2011
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?
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.
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, 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!
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?
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.
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.
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!
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
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..
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
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.
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/
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!
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:
- PHIL: Be the hat!
- The scene where Phil tells Rita everything about everybody in the diner.
- PHIL: Well, my father was a piano mover, so…
- The suicide montage. What other movie has a suicide montage?
- PHIL: Rita! || NANCY: Nancy. || PHIL: Whatever.
- PHIL: Don’t play with me, pork chop! What day is this?
- PHIL: Don’t drive angry!
- PHIL: Intelligent, supportive, funny… Me, me, me… || RITA: He’s romantic and courageous. || PHIL: Me also.
- PHIL: I don’t know where you’re headed, but can you call in sick?
- The Jeopardy! scene.
- PHIL: Morons, your bus is leaving.
- Breaking the alarm clock montage.
- PHIL: Too early for flapjacks?
- When people dance to the first two songs at the party. What the hell are they doing?
- LARRY: He might be OK… [truck explodes] Well no, probably not now.
- All of the Ned scenes. PHIL: So, did you turn pro with that whole belly button thing, or…?
- PHIL: He’s got to be stopped. And I have to stop him.
- And this. Just watch this.
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!)