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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fantastic Three


Fantastic Three, or "FF" as the "new" comic book will be called, can't last long. For what is the Fantastic Four without the alliteration? It's always been the secret to their success.

I read the pivotal, game-changing, monumental, blockbuster issue last night. Considering it's a middle chapter in a multi-part storyline, I had little idea what was going on. Namor and Galactus where there, the latter eating another planet, the former bowing down to the married (invisible) woman he's had the hots for for 50 years. But whatever, I was only reading for the death anyway.

The Star Trek II homage between Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm, good. The actual death of Johnny being torn apart by thousands of Negative Zone insectoids, bad. If I had to guess how the Human Torch would die, I never, ever would have come up with that.

But Johnny Storm died the way he lived: flaming on.

The biggest surprise for me was Valeria Richards. One, I didn't even realize she existed. (I knew about Franklin but that's how disconnected I've been with the Fantastic Four comics.) Two, I liked how intelligent she was. She's a chip off the old rubber band. (Or is she Dr. Doom's kid? Then she's a chip off the old Doombot.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Matrix Reloading?

News from Sundance straight from Keanu Reeves' mouth is that The Wachowski Brothers are planning two more sequels to The Matrix.  Opinions have already run rampant about whether or not this is a good idea or why anyone needs more Matrix movies, especially after the lukewarm reception the Matrix sequels received in 2003.

The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions were good movies the public pretty much rejected. I'd say there were a few factors that caused this.

The Matrix was a phenomenon in 1999. I was in film school when it came out and it's all everyone talked about. DVD was a new fangled invention then and we stayed up all night more than once going through the Matrix DVD. Many philosophical conversations took place over the influences, deeper meanings, potential of the Matrix and its universe. And not just with film geeks - The Matrix spawned books on philosophy, there were essays and theses and papers written about The Matrix, etc. When the inevitable sequels and trilogy were announced, plenty of opinions and desires existed about What Would Come Next and Where The Story Should ("should" being the operative word here) Go.

And nearly all of that was in direct conflict with what The Wachowski Brothers (or Brother and Sister, as they now are) were actually up to with Reloaded and Revolutions. This is one of those cases where the filmmakers just did not jive with the audience. I mean, I liked Reloaded, I liked it more than Revolutions, ultimately. I did like the trilogy as a whole. There were certainly a ton of problems, but I thought overall, the story the Wachowskis told worked.

But I can pinpoint exactly where the Fork in the Road happened between the audience and the Wachowskis:

At the end of The Matrix, Neo makes a call from a payphone threatening the mainframe. He's Superman now. He's at full power as The One. He tells The Matrix he's coming for them and flies into the air.

Less than fifteen minutes into Reloaded, after Trinity opens the movie blowing up the office building and poses with her vinyl-clad ass to the screen, Neo wakes up and says, "I wish I knew what I was supposed to do."

What? Did Neo not see the end of the previous movie? He knew exactly what he was supposed to do. He was going to kick some Matrix ass. But apparently in the three years between movies, he plum forgot! Then we find out he doesn't want to be a Messiah, then we get to Zion and everyone rejected the rave and the idea of all of the minorities (gasp!) being the last humans at the center of the Earth, and then we found out the boring ass ruling council of Zion thinks Morpheus is crazy and doesn't take him seriously. Then Jada Pinkett-Smith shows up but does nothing at all and blah and blah and blah and blah. The list goes on and on of what the audience rejected.

And that's even before the Train Man shows up in Revolutions and we get no answers about the nature of the Merovingian, etc.

In general, the audience just didn't buy this story. It wasn't what we were promised at the end of The Matrix

Now, I think people will certainly show up for more Matrix movies if they make them, if they look cool, but if those movies materialize, it'll be ten years since Reloaded and Revolutions. Expectations are low for more Matrix. That might actually work for the Wachowskis if these sequels do happen.

But they won't.

Saturday, January 22, 2011




"You wanna take that knife out of my crotch?"

Red is a cheerfully violent screwball action comedy with one of the greatest casts ever assembled to adapt a DC Comics graphic novel most people have never heard of.  In several respects, like cinematography and general tone, it's better than The Losers, which also came out in 2010 and was also adapted from a DC Comic graphic novel most people have never heard of. "Ashton Kutcher's dad" (thanks, Ricky Gervais) Bruce Willis leads the all-star cast as a retired CIA wetworks operative who puts his old band back together when masked storm troopers shoot up his quiet suburban home. Though trying to find out why he's suddenly on a list of people to-be-killed drives his actions, Willis' heart belongs to the fetching and winning Mary-Louise Parker. At first objecting to being kidnapped by Willis to keep her safe from the same people trying to kill him, Parker quickly comes around.  She's wide-eyed and turned on by the violent spy games she suddenly finds herself in, an exciting life she's always dreamed of.  Willis and his Cold War relic brothers and sister in arms, wise, booty-loving Morgan Freeman, chillingly sexy Helen Mirren, batshit crazy John Malkovich, and ex-Soviet turncoat Brian Cox, uncover a conspiracy pointing directly to slimy senator Richard Dreyfuss and slickster Vice President of the United States Julian McMahon. Willis and his group are doggedly pursued by sharply-dressed Karl Urban, who makes a strong case as a potential James Bond should Daniel Craig relinquish the role. Red is gleefully preposterous as an action movie, with endless rounds of ammo being expended and blazing fireballs as the preferred means to dispatch bad guys. Red also riffs on two famous movies of similar genres: Willis and Parker break into CIA headquarters and bust out the way Tom Cruise did in the first Mission: Impossible (when will the CIA ever learn to screen the fire fighters trying to leave Langley?) before Willis makes a statement outdoing Nicolas Cage's "I'm gonna steal the Declaration of Independence" in National Treasure - "I'm gonna kill the Vice President of the United States." Red is by the numbers fun as an action picture, but everyone in the cast gets the mood of the piece and are gung ho for the absurdity; only Rebecca Pigeon as Urban's shady CIA supervisor grates on the nerves but Urban's final "FU" to her is pretty satisfying. The most delightful part of Red may just be learning that Ernest Borgnine is not only still alive but as happy to be there as we are to see him.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Live Tweeting the 68th Annual Golden Globes

The 68th Annual Golden Globes are history. In most circumstances, I tend to not watch award shows but 2010 was an annus mirabilis for movies. This year, I'm extremely interested in supporting the many great films, actors, and filmmakers who created such amazing work and made going to the movies such a joy in 2010.

Plus Ricky Gervais is the host of the Golden Globes. A wonderful man, he is, so ready to skewer Hollywood without fear of reprisal. Gervais turned the show into a roast; even Robert Downey Jr. noted the show's "mean spirited and sinister tone."

The Golden Globes are known as the award show where the attendees can get good and drunk. I chose to do the same in the spirit of the Globes and in support of one of my favorite films of 2010:

I drank the entire bottle on the right throughout the Golden Globes telecast as I live-Tweeted the show. This should account for the tone of the Tweets, especially in the latter portion of the show.

Thanks to Gervais' irreverence and the movie stars' willingness to get sloshed and play along, the Golden Globes turned out to be a funny and entertaining show. So this is how it went:

Ricky Gervais is a fantastic host. He goes right out there and immediately hangs himself, making it okay to go on the attack.

After that speech, Christian Bale and the are done, professionally.

Michelle Pfeiffer! Just the pussy I was looking for. (Batman Returns! That's a quote from Batman Returns. Sheesh.)

Steve Buscemi figured it out: Point out the house band will play you off for going over & they'll be too intimidated to do it.

RT @TheSteveAgee
great shot of Angelina Jolie choking her husband

I think Angelina was looking to draw a fresh vial of Brad's blood to wear around her neck. @

Holy shit. I've never seen @ in a tuxedo. That's completely surreal. Congratulations for the BEST score of 2010!  

Now doesn't that make you feel better? The pigs have won tonight Now they can all sleep soundly And everything is all right

There was a rather disturbing amount of rumbling from the audience when @ and Halee Steinfeld came out.  

Wow, Robert Downey Jr stole the show from Ricky Gervais. The image of his proposed hypothetical six way lingers over the room.

 When did @ shave his beard? Oh shit, no, that's Tilda Swinton.

Pacino does a horrible Pacino impression

Everyone watching Al Pacino with such reverential awe. Not one of them is lifting a finger and getting him his pills. .

RT @ 
Holy shit!

The annual Ricky Gervais shitting on "the ungrateful" Steve Carell bit never, ever disappoints.

Whoever wrote the speech for Chris "Thor" Hemsworth calling nominees "superheroes of acting" should be beaten with a hammer.

WOOHOO! ! ! ! ! ' In a Better World ' from Denmark won the Best Foreign Language film
Suck on that Mexico/Spain

Great to see Jane Fonda. It'd be even better if she were joined by Will Forte as Ted Turner on a mechanical bull. @

Awesome! Melissa Leo wins Best Supporting Actress for . Say hi to your mother for me, @.

With the amount of times the director cuts to Angelina and Brad, why not just keep them in picture in picture on the screen?

Who is that hot chick in blue sitting in front of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones who never, ever cracks a smile?  

Robert De Niro does an excellent Robert De Niro impression. No, seriously, wonderful speech.

Five directing studs: Nolan, Hooper, O. Russell, Aronofsky, but Fincher is the stud of studs. Congratulations, David Fincher!

January Jones in that red dress is the source of my .

Is anyone but Natalie Portman gonna thank the guy who knocked her up? Congratulations, Natalie. Truly the Best Actress 2010.

Mila "Sweet Lips" Kunis. She should have said to Natalie Portman, "Right back atcha!" If you know what I mean.  

Tim Allen and @ pushing the ribaldry. This could be the rudest, therefore most entertaining, ever.

Congratulations to the deserving Best Actor Colin Firth. King George VI would have needed 45 minutes to g-g-give that speech.

The @ is Best Picture! I'd like to thank Walmart for taking back an Inception Blu-ray so I could get TSN instead.

Ricky Gervais: "Thank you to God, for making me an athiest." Jesus Christ. He got that on the air at the last second. Bravo.

 Ricky Gervais’s Top 11 Zingers of the Night

1. “It’s going to be a night of partying and heaving drinking — or as Charlie Sheen calls it: breakfast.”
2. “Everything this year was three-dimensional, except the characters in The Tourist. I feel bad about that joke. I’m jumping on the bandwagon, because I haven’t even seen that movie. Who has?”
3. “Do you want to go see Cher? No. Why not? Because it’s not 1975.”
4. “There were a lot of big films that didn’t get nominated. Nothing for Sex and the City 2. I was sure the Golden Globes for special effects would go to the team that airbrushed that poster.”
5. “Also not nominated I Love You Phillip Morris. Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor. Two heterosexual actors pretending to be gay. So, the complete opposite of some famous Scientologist… My lawyers helped me with the wording of that joke.”
6. “Our first presenter is beautiful, talented, and Jewish apparently. Mel Gibson told me that. He’s obsessed. Please welcome Scarlett Johansson.”
7. “Who are our next presenter from such films as Hudson Hawk, Look Who’s Talking, Mercury Rising, Color of Night, The Fifth Element, Hart’s War. Please welcome Ashton Kutcher’s dad, Bruce Willis.”
8. “Next up, Eva Longoria has the daunting task of introducing the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press. That’s nothing, I had just had to help him off the toilet and pop his teeth in.”
9. “I love this next presenter; he’s so cool. He’s the star of Iron Man. Two Girls and a Guy. Wonderboys. I’m sorry are these porn films? Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Bowfinger? Up the Academy. Come on! He has done all of those films, but many of you in this room probably know him best from such facilities as The Betty Ford Clinic and the Los Angeles County Jail. Robert Downey, Jr.”
10. “I hired him to star in a remake of a show I starred in, which he’s now leaving, killing a cash cow for both of us. Please welcome Tina Fey and the ungrateful Steve Carell!
11. “And thank you to God. For making me an atheist.”

God bless this wonderful man.

Valentine's Day


When the British did an all-star romantic comedy, they gave the world Love Actually.  Just wanted to point that out on the outset. Valentine's Day is the Cannonball Run of romantic comedies. Except in terms of quality it's more like Cannonball Run II.  Director Garry Marshall assembled a massive cast of good looking movie stars and celebrities for this magnum opus of artificiality masquerading as a romantic comedy. Listing the names of all the movie stars - many of whom really are better than this - will take so much space, it'll practically eat up most of the review. So here goes: Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Hector Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Carter Jenkins, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Emma Roberts, Julia Roberts, and Taylor Swift are the headliners. In this tough economic climate, it warms the heart to see so many movie stars were able to find work by starring in Valentine's Day. Let that be an example to the rest of America. Oh, the movie? It's terrible, just terrible. A horde of impossibly beautiful people devoid of anything resembling real problems hemming and hawing about whether they'll get whatever they wish for on Valentine's Day. And get this: they do! Whew.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

V 2x2 - "Serpent's Tooth"

Last week, I made myself sad by watching the season 2 premiere of V despite my intentions to do the opposite. More sadness this week as I watched episode 2. 

THE Vs ARE AT WAR WITH THE HUMAN SOUL. That's right, the soul. The soul is the enemy of the V. It is "well spring of human emotion." Vs talk about the soul retardedly. Anna thinks she can study it in a lab. Why don't the Vs just give Bart Simpson $5 for his soul, take off in their ships, and never come back, i.e. get off my television?

What a coincidence that at the very same time Anna is declaring space war on the souls of human beings, Morris Chestnut is having conversations with father Jack about whether or not he has a soul. This comes complete with retarded dialogue: Jack: "The soul is a blessing." Morris: "No, it's a curse!" Who can possibly take either this technologically advanced alien race or this ragtag band of human rebels seriously if they talk and think in hackneyed cliches like this?

Last week, we found out for realsies that the Vs are on Earth to mate with humans. That's the truth. They're not here for our water, or to eat humans, but they want our sweet sweet bodies for sweet sweet sexin'. They wanna sex us up, to the hip hop, you don't stop. Except there's a catch; not just that they're lizards, but they have high degrees of phosphorus in their bodies. They need humans to have phosphorus in their bodies too so they can mate.

Erica Evans has lots of phosphorus in her body, so said her doctor 20 years ago when she was pregnant with Tyler. See where this is going? And Lisa's near her fertility peak. This was a match made in Heaven, or the heavens, set long ago. Lisa has to do Tyler and have a hybrid baby.

Except there's already a hybrid baby. Morris Chestnut and black lady who's dead had a love starchild, which Anna now possesses. We saw it in lizard form last week but Anna gave it human skin. And then she fed it in disgusting fashion, eating a whole rat and then regurgitating it into the V-baby. Then Anna manipulated Morris into rejoining the Vs only one week removed from banishing him forever. Is this chick wishy-washy or what?

Incidentally, the events of this episode took place over a couple of days, but no one in wardrobe informed Anna, who wore the same grey business dress the entire episode. Maybe the V dry cleaners are on strike or something.

I haven't even mentioned how Red Sky was sold as a "gift to humanity" but is really linked to that phosphorus plan and lasted one whole episode before it was dropped, or the Fifth Column suicide bombers, or Tory from Battlestar Galactica revealing that she's a V to Erica, or the geeky human scientist hanging out with the Fifth Column and who possesses a complete V reptile skeleton in his lab, or how Joshua doesn't remember he's Fifth Column and Lisa's constantly about to pee her pants that he will remember any second now she's his co-conspirator and has betrayed her mother.

Speaking of mothers, how could I almost forget Diana! Diana, Jane Badler is on the show (and so are her boobs), playing Diana but not the Diana from the original V. Diana is the former Queen and mother to Anna, whom Anna deposed and imprisoned in the bowels of her ship for 15 years, but is also named Diana. The thing I couldn't quite put my finger on that was weird at first was that Diana's voice doesn't have that metallic echo it did in the original V, because today's Vs don't talk like that. Anyway, Anna imprisoned her mother in secret for 15 years and never visited her once, but now bothers her before every other act break. You see, Diana came to Earth once and Anna thinks she's like, the V expert on the human soul or something, just because she likes to listen to piano music*. Diana must have spent her incarceration watching V season one because she predicted Anna's daughter will betray Anna the way Diana was betrayed by her daughter.

"Tick tock," Diana says. She must be counting down to V's cancellation in 8 weeks. 

*Mendelssohn. May I add, aliens without emotion who start flipping out over humans having music is straight out of Robotech and the Zentraedi going batshit over Lynn Minmei's 80's pop songs. The Fifth Column should start listening to "We Will Win!"

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The King's Speech



As King George VI, Colin Firth is g-g-g-great. The King's Speech immerses the viewer in the British royal family circa 1925-1939, where Firth, as Albert the Duke of Windsor, toils in the shadow of his eloquent father King George V (Michael Gambon). George V was the first British sovereign to address his people via the radio, lamenting that radio has reduced the King of England to a mere actor. When George V dies in 1936, his scandalous eldest son David the Prince of Wales (Guy Pearce) becomes King Edward VIII for only a few months before he abdicates for insisting on marrying an American divorcee. Meanwhile, Firth, seeking to remedy the speech impediment that has tormented and limited him his whole life, seeks therapy from linguist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Through his prickly but genuine relationship with Logue, George VI works through the difficulties of his stammer to eventually ascend to the throne and deliver the necessary radio addresses to the people of England throughout World War II.  The King's Speech is meticulously researched by writer David Seidler and director Tom Hooper, using the actual notes Lionel Logue maintained while treating King George VI, and a title card at the end informs us the two remained friends for the remainder of their lives.  Much emphasis is placed on King George VI's childhood, the distance of his parents, and the abuse he suffered at the hands of his nanny.  The greatest pleasures of The King's Speech lay with the performances. Firth is magnificent as George VI, caged by his stammer and lifelong fears but overcoming both to become the monarch England needed during the dark days of the Second World War. Rush is equally brilliant and clever as Logue. Both Firth and Logue are deserving of Academy Award recognition. After screeching "Off with his head!!" a zillion times in Alice in Wonderland, The King's Speech was a pleasant reminder of how talented Helena Bonham-Carter, as George VI's loving wife Elizabeth, truly is. The only false note struck was by Timothy Spall; I simply couldn't get past Wormtail from Harry Potter drooping his lower lip and pretending to be Winston Churchill. It's a shame neither Albert Finney nor Brendan Gleeson, who both portrayed Churchill for HBO, were cast for the part once more. Overall, The King's Speech is a truly splendid film.  A speech impediment is an endearing quality for cartoon characters like Donald Duck, Porky Pig, and Tony the Tiger, but not so much for the King of England.

Someone, not me, ideally, but someone, should make a list of the British actors who played royals and create a "family tree" of how they're related to each other.

A partial such tree would be something like:

Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (King Henry VIII - The Tudors)
father to
Cate Blanchett (Queen Elizabeth I - Elizabeth, Elizabeth: The Golden Age)
also Dame Judi Dench (Queen Elizabeth I - Shakespeare in Love)
also Helen Mirren (Queen Elizabeth I - Elizabeth I)

Emily Blunt (Queen Victoria - The Young Victoria)
grandmother to
Michael Gambon (King George V - The King's Speech)
father to
Guy Pearce (King Edward VIII - The King's Speech)
Colin Firth (King George VI - The King's Speech)
father to
Helen Mirren (Queen Elizabeth II - The Queen)

Saturday, January 8, 2011




127 Hours set a high bar for movies about human survival against the elements, and certainly Danny Boyle and his Slumdog Millionaire team could have done delirious wonders with this story of three friends trapped on a ski lift. With Frozen, armed with a modest budget, some canny self-awareness, and a willingness to raise the stakes at the right moments, writer-director Adam Green crafted a harrowing, effective, dare I say chilling thriller. (I did. I'm sorry.) Shawn Ashmore is resentful when his best friend Kevin Zegers brings his girlfriend Emma Bell along on their guys' getaway ski trip in New England. (Dig the Newbury Comics billboard prominently displayed along with other right-on references to the New England area.) A combination of the trio's hubris and the incompetence of the ski staff  leaves Ashmore, Zegers, and Bell trapped on the chairlift overnight, hanging dozens of feet in the air as night falls and the temperature drops. Frozen cleverly runs the gamut of the dangers of winter exposure such as frostbite, then jaw-droppingly raises the ante when Zegers attempts to drop from the chairlift and gruesomely shatters both his legs. In 1986, pro wrestling manager Jim Cornette fell from a scaffold during a wrestling match and blew out both his knees when he landed in the ring. What happens to Zegers' legs upon landing is ten times worse. And that's before the wolves arrive - the movie's stand in for the shark from Jaws that the characters reference when listing the worst ways one can die.  Zegers probably shouldn't have had quite the energy to talk and scream after his bones tear through his legs, but the wolf attack put a stop to that logic break quickly. Ashmore and Bell turn in genuine performances; their terror and hopelessness were palpable, which made their fight to live believable. Ashmore mans up with an utterly heroic attempt to rescue them both, but only one of them finally survives the ordeal. Frozen earns nerd points for the running joke about the Sarlaac from Return of the Jedi. Double nerd points for casting Ashmore in Frozen, placing Iceman from the X-Men films in a situation where he could freeze to death or get mauled by wolve(rine)s.