Monday, December 24, 2007

You know what's crazy? The Killers. Three singles in the last three months:

A "whoo-hoo-hoo"-festooned Joy Division cover...

a children's choir-festooned duet with Lou Reed...

and their second Christmas charity download in as many years, this one titled "Don't Shoot Me, Santa."

God bless them, everyone. And happy holidays to you.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A young hottie vacationing in Miami with her father is rescued from the threat of shuffleboard when an obese teenage boy arrives by boat and takes her on a drive through the slums, "where killers get hung." THIS is the true legacy of the Notorious B.I.G., and further evidence of a pop culture double standard my gut refuses to let me complain about. I like this number - which climaxes with a Nelly Furtado impersonation! - a little more than the one where girls make him feel suicidal (now THAT'S the obese teenager I know and recognize), but not as much as the one where he sings "D'Yer Maker" over "Red Red Wine."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

DVDs and videos watched over god knows how long wow it's been awhile since I did one of these, from favorite to least.

Southern proto-mumblecore that gratefully loses its penchant for overly arch camera shots the longer it dwells on beam of sunshine Amy Adams.

Jack doing Shoot The Piano Player as a passive-agressive jerk, gradually arousing some sympathy by the end.

The first half details the workaday malaise of the border patrol engagingly enough that it's grating when Jack is forced to reaffirm his morals and fight Big-Time Corruption.

Southern proto-mumblecore that ironically gains a fondness for overly arch camera shots as the story progresses, before finally devolving into abstract visual poetry.

A flagrant example of Burton/Lynch late '80s/early '90s indulgent indie quirk made unique by the presence of Catherine Keener, who refuses to fit her pragmatic persona into Tom DiCillo's surreal fable. DiCillo's next film, Living In Oblivion, made after the rise of Tarantino, keeps only Keener and a profound sense of embarassment about attempts at dream logic in cheap indie films. Still, this is proof Brad Pitt is not a twinkie motherfucker.

John Malkovich as a pathetic, mentally unstable homosexual con artist. That's about it.

A tolerable potboiler smothered in Sick Soul of Europe sauce. More like Le Samourain't!

The Exorcist Vs. The Shining. At several points Rod Steiger appears to soil himself.

Do you want to know what a twenty-something Spike Lee's take on The Wanton Ways Of Woman was? Do you want his characters to tell the camera? I know this was Lee's debut film, but I still can't believe what sloppy juvenalia it is. School Daze, even with the Worst Ending Ever, was a big step forward. How many writer/directors filmed themself caressing the lead actress's tit in at least two of their first three films (can't remember if we actually saw him get down with Tisha Campbell in Daze)? Classy.

Luke Wilson gets the shit kicked out of him, which is always a good thing, but Frank Whaley's tweaker-Ned-Flanders homicidal maniac fails to disturb so much as annoy.

Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson and Queen Latifah should be in a Michel Gondry film of a Charlie Kauffman script. Rob Schneider, Katie Holmes, Richard Dreyfuss, Joanna Lumley and Mo'Nique should have been in this.

Monday, December 17, 2007

New DVD O' The Week

It feels weird to say that I underrated Balls Of Fury when I first saw it, as I immediately included it in my top ten of 2007 while most critics felt it was beneath any acknowledgement whatsoever. But where originally I felt Thomas Lennon's performance was broad and Christopher Walken's shtick was tired, both were entirely entertaining the second time around (ok, Lennon's East German Olympian is basically just an Ivan Drago haircut, mad eyes and a leotard, but "tell your dead parents I said 'what's up'" may be my favorite line in the whole movie).

The film's mediocre user rating on IMDb suprises me. I understand why a trailer "from the makers of Reno 911!" that focuses on an obnoxious fat guy getting hit in the balls wouldn't make a lot of people enthusiastic, but I don't get why anyone who'd bother to see it would leave unsatisfied. While it's not as brazen or hip in its irreverence as David Wain's State-related films, it's less self-adoring than the Stiller/Sandler variety of goofball and lacks the logey wocka-wocka of most Zucker-type parodies. Dan Fogler may not have the name recognition of even Horatio Sanz, but I doubt that will be the case for long - dude has a Tony award! He's playing Alfred Hitchcock in an upcoming movie starring Ewan McGregor! This was not the path of Chris Farley. The totally-on-their-game supporting cast includes Maggie Q (who I knew I enjoyed watching) and George Lopez (who I most certainly didn't). I didn't even realize that the angry long-haired guy in the underground ping-pong club was Jason Scott Lee until I saw him understandably beaming on the making-of doc. You know, Jason Scott Lee! From Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story! Rapa Nui! RAPA NUI! Patton Oswalt shows up too, along with some other Reno 911 arrestees (Patton Oswalt! That's kinda hip, right?).

I hope Fogler's career continues to rise, as it might give the film a cult audience quicker than if it depends on some young group of comedy nuts watching movies on Comedy Central rather than playing on a middle school athletic team. So here's a plea to similar minds of my own generation: do you have fond memories of Wayne's World 2? Akidraisedonsnlmoviessayswhat? Because Walken and James "The Old Asian Guy In Everything Ever" Hong are having twice as much fun in this. If I was God, this would be Hong's Best Supporting Actor nomination clip:

Lennon and director/co-screenwriter Robert Ben Garant are making so much money for studio-butchered scripts like Night At The Museum and Herbie: Fully Loaded that I can't bemoan the lack of attention or respect this film got. It made $32 million, which I would assume covered its budget, and for once people who give a shit got proof that, when they get to oversee its creation, these two can produce a seriously funny movie, one of the few of recent memory that's PG-13. It's good to see a movie worthy of the chubby, precocious fifteen-year-olds its marketed towards.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Vincent D'Onofrio pissing on a young Michael Cera while Janeane Garofalo watches approvingly.

I haven't seen Steal This Movie, but it appears to be tragically ahead of its time by about five years.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

New DVD O' The Week is obviously Superbad. It's funny, so see it if you haven't. The one humorless argument sequence should have been cut and, as much as I enjoyed Emma Stone, they should have cast someone who plausibly could have been attracted to an obese, angry high school senior with a jewfro, but those are my only real criticisms. At least sexiest manchild alive Michael Cera is included to make up for any qualms over the gender disparity. For the many women I know who would love to molest the former George Michael, here's a clip of him in the 2001 TV movie My Louisiana Sky - prepubescent, bare chested and rocking a southern accent.

That lucky Tiger. Adulthood will probably be as rewarding for him as it was for Bud Cort and Anthony Michael Hall, so enjoy his gawky, innocent glory while you can.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Two other examples of directors who need an intervention from

In It's A Coen, Coen, Coen, Coen Bros. World, The Dude, now married to Ed McDunnough, discovers A Satchel Of Money People Are Dying Over, and winds up running from Leonard Smalls while Marge Gunderson follows a few paces behind. Everyone seems a bit frustrated to be stuck in this familiar tale of goober store clerks, goober motel clerks and macabre violence, openly wondering why each other bothers, but the performances, set pieces and extreme close-ups of evidence are engaging enough to make the film entertaining in a logey, predictable Ocean's Thirteen way. Following The Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty, this self-serious retreat-to-form is currently #21 on the imdb top 200 and may well get them some Oscar love.

Casualties Of War II: The Redactening is equally disappointing auteur theory fodder, with Brian DePalma attempting to combine the biting media commentary of Hi, Mom! with the wartime rape plot of the original film. While Coen confections can be tossed willy-nilly without harm, DePalma's more substantive ideas clash. Casualties was about a soldier's moral dilemma, not an attack on the Vietnam war itself. The micro details distract from his macro goal here, offering the thesis "war allows RAPE to happen," which is doubly offensive as A) war would be horrible even if it didn't, and B) people get away with rape all the time. Where the Coens show they can still make a gunfight awkward and memorable, DePalma reveals he's still incapable of making a remotely watchable static-shot scene of two people in conversation. The "found footage" concept tragically forces him to abandon his gifts and use security cameras to capture rants that would be melodramatic in any context.

Before the film goes haywire, DePalma does succeed in forcing you to acknowledge embarassing facts about the Iraq War that are being made easy to forget. The sequences credited to a French documentary show off his visual wit and, until the overripe speeches get under way, the actors have an affecting, fratty anonymity. Had DePalma not been distracted by his tortured obsession with misogynist violence, the film might have been praised for inspiring the frustrated anger it desires rather than criticized for its interminable obviousness. Instead, critics and arthouse audiences alike get to cheer those guys who can really do that thing they liked for finally doing that thing again in a relatively classy way. DePalma's upcoming Untouchables: Capone Rising may be a little too obvious in its intent to receive the same appreciation.