Monday, November 16, 2009


What the eff is wrong with America? I can't believe that this pathetic movie was the top-grossing flick this past weekend. And not just top-grossing, but miles ahead of the competition, nearly tripling the next closest movie (which, by the way, was the equally miserable Christmas Carol; a movie that apparently features that same borderline-creepy "animation" first made infamous by Polar Express). My only consolation is that Zombieland is still in the top 20, as is Boondock Saints, deservingly getting a wider release.

I didn't see the movie, but I saw the previews. And for a movie like this that's really all you need. The effects, in all fairness, look amazing. But once you try to affix some semblance of a plot to special effects, the entire production becomes a shitfest.

How much longer must we suffer the "Disaster Porn" genre (not to be confused with "porn disaster," ie the Jimmy Kimmel sex tape, more recent Jenna Jameson fare, etc)? The Day After Tomorrow- from Roland Emmerich, the same man behind 2012- represents the height (or rather, depth) of the genre, which also includes Poseidon, Deep Impact, Armageddon, and both of those shitty volcano movies, which were so horrible they barely deserve to be recognized as 2 distinct entries. Quite a pedigree, no?

Although one could easily point to Twister as the harbinger of the Disaster Porn genre, with its at-the-time revolutionary scope of realistic effects, I blame Will Smith for Disaster Porn's rise to the forefront of our cinematic culture. Independence Day (not coincidentally, also a Roloand Emmerich vehicle) was not only the first movie to take the "disaster" element to it's hyperbolically titillating pinnacle, with the total decimation of a globally-known landmark (the White House), it also engineered what has evolved into the modern era of the summer blockbuster.

It's coming close in terms of sheer annoyance to the "spoof movie" genre, and in truth I couldn't think of a worse double feature to be torturously subjected to. The good news- it's sure to be dethroned this weekend. But do I take solace in the fact that it's being knocked off by glittery, emo, tween vampires? That's barely a consolation. Sort of like the doctor telling you "Good news, you don't have swine flu. You have SARS."

That these movies continue to be made is a travesty, the likes of which should place Emmerich on the 'most wanted' list with at least equivalent stature as Roman Polanski. That the moviegoing public continues to go see these movies in droves is another issue entirely. Then again, it IS the same country that re-elected Bush.

Ah, fuck it. At least Rob Schneider has stopped (or been stopped from?) making movies. I'm going to see some REAL cinema this weekend- the aforementioned Boondock Saints 2 or Zombieland (for the 2nd and 3rd times, respectively).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Box

I'll keep this one short.

Overall, very interesting. Pretty cool concept, intriguing details revealed at a tantalizingly slow pace. I felt it took a bit too long to get into the story, but once it took off it was pretty effing great. But then the end was a bit of a letdown.

I would almost relate it to a season of Lost condensed into 2 hours: cool premise, lots of questions raised that really hook you in, answers to questions raise more questions, but then not enough payoff. For me, anyway. I'm all for leaving some loose ends, but you have to be fair and give me a little more resolution.

One of the odd things (to me) was that it's set in 1976. And honestly, it seems like the only reason for this is so Richard Kelly can interject clips from some of his favorite childhood TV shows. Seriously. It's that obvious.

Fun tangent- one of the pre-movie trailers they showed was for a Mel Gibson flick called Edge of Darkness. Brief synopsis: He plays a rogue cop who brutally suffers the loss of a loved one and is driven to revenge at all costs.

Read that again. Because I don't know about you, but I'm not sure Mel can pull a role like that off. Kind of out of his range, doncha think? (go to IMDb and look up how many movies center on either revenge, loss of a loved on, or both. Nevermind, I'll save you the trouble- it's a fuckin' shitload. Signs, The Patriot, Braveheart, Payback, Lethal Weapon, Ransom... fuck it. I give up.)

Last thing about the movie- it further reinforces Richard Kelly's fascination with water and his love of diagrams of people with arrows projecting from their chest.

Oh, and he may be a misogynist. Not sure yet, but the movie supports it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints Day

Troy Duffy, you magnificent bastard! In fact, I'm almost tempted to call you an Inglourious Basterd- that is, if the Troy Duffy we saw in highly entertaining Overnight was the real you- an Inglourious Basterd who took himself out in an amazing blaze of glory whilst leaving his indelible mark on (movie) history.

But we'll stick with magnificent. I have been cautiously awaiting Boondock Saints 2 ever since whispers of it were heard on the internet, following closely on the heels if the underground success of Duffy's first film, an action masterpiece. I don't think I've ever met anyone who didn't like Boondock Saints. If you didn't like it, you're obviously a jerk.

So with the massive cult popularity of his first movie, it is understandable that I had a slight degree of trepidation regarding the follow-up. Would Duffy's (allegedly) massive ego get in the way of what should be a fantastic sequel? Would the 10 years (holy shit! Has it really been 10 years?!?) that have passed weaken the integrity of the story?

Fortunately, the movie was effing brilliant. It opened a bit strangely, but didn't take long to find it's footing and re-ignite the amazing dynamic of the McManus brothers.

I will admit, there were a few moments in the first couple reels that made me worry that Troy was going to stray from the path of success that should be inevitable, given the characters and material he left himself to work with. A few instances where it seemed he was trying too hard to recapture his original glory. It's a fine line between recreating brilliance, and stumbling over a too-conscious effort to try and recreate it.

And Troy definitely stumbled a couple times, with groan-inducing lines that were (in my opinion) too calculated, too "Hey, this will be clever!" And painfully obvious re-hashes of things from his first film. Luckily, after these minor bumps in the road, he seemed to stop trying too hard and just let himself be Troy, writer and director of kick-ass Irish shoot 'em ups.

Never was his brilliance more evident than in the words and actions of the brothers themselves. And although this could just as easily be a testament to the acting abilities of Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery, you have to think that Troy- as writer/director/ creator of the insanely cool McManus brothers- had just as much to do with that.

Fans of the original will be greeted with a few familiar faces, and be introduced to some new ones- one of whom I originally thought fell into the 'trying too hard to draw on the first movie' category, but this character quickly smoothed out and hit their stride. Another new character went the opposite direction- too much of a caricature- before settling into a believable and welcomed addition to the franchise.

There are a few surprises, especially regarding some of the old familiar faces. But not bad surprises. Not like he intentionally made "surprising" choices for what happens. Everything that transpires feels natural and fitting for the universe that the McManus brothers inhabit, which isn't to say that it's all welcomed; just entirely plausible.

I almost felt that a bit of backstory that shows up felt forced, like Duffy shoe-horned it in just for the sake of over-complicating the story. But that too developed into a fitting and enjoyable arc that really complemented the movie.

The writing- except for the (thankfully) few instances where Duffy is clearly trying to hard to be Troy Duffy, is tight and well done. Again, the brothers themsleves are pitch-perfect when compared to the first movie. Most of the nods to the original are fun and clever. And on top of all that, Duffy really shows his directing chops with a hell of a lot of visual style that he injects throughout the movie.

Bottom line- holy shit, it was surprisingly awesome! I mean, I was hoping- if not expecting, given the trepidation mentioned above- that this would be good. But it was fucking AWESOME!

Go see this movie right now. Unless you haven't seen Zombieland yet, in which case what the fuck is your problem??? I thought we already talked about that? But as soon as you see Zombieland, go see Boondock Saints 2.