Tag Archives: movies

Summer Movies

Everyone’s a critic at the movies. It’s the boon and the bane of popular culture: since your $10 ticket + $47.50 for snacks are paying for the movie, you get a vote. Especially if you’re an 18-34-year-old male or a 13-year-old girl. God help us if the studios ever figure out how to reliably get that money in the cash register. All we’ll ever see at the multiplex is Transformers XXVII and Harry Potter and the Plastic Seive. (Not that I wouldn’t enjoy both of those, mind you, but the steady diet might kill me.)

I, like everyone else, has something to say when I leave the theater, but mostly I don’t write about it (even though, unlike most everyone else, I actually have a degree in film). Why? Because there are a lot of people already saying things about the movie I just saw and I don’t like crowds.

Today, however, I’m going to make an exception. Again with the, “Why?” My, aren’t we inquisitive, this Monday morning! Well, I’ll tell you. Because yesterday, R and I saw The Hangover and I spouted on a bit about some other movies we’ve seen recently and how to rate them and R said he’d like to hear more, so here we are. That just goes to show how much I like him. And if you disagree with me on any of these, you can take it up with him.

I rate movies based on how successful they are at doing what they set out to do, not how they stack up against the best movie ever made. If it weren’t on a relative scale, Casablanca and The Philadelphia Story would get A’s and Bad Boys, all of the James Bonds and the VeggieTales would get F’s. I love Pierce Brosnan too, but you know I’m right.

Angels & Demons. C minus. Even without the godawful haircut Tom Hanks sported in the first one, this sucked almost as much. Without the overlay of religion, the plot looks like something out of Superfriends, especially when you count the exploding helicopter. If Ewan McGregor weren’t so good at being good while shoveling down a plate of ham, I’d have given it a D.

Frost/Nixon. A. While we’re on the subject of Ron Howard, this is recently out on video. Given his abysmal record (Apollo 13 was a long time ago and no one but me loves The Paper) of directing quality (not “money-making” but “quality”) movies, I was very worried to hear Howard had gotten his hands on Peter Morgan‘s (The Queen) script and might cut out Frank Langella (who played Nixon in the stage version and – bizarre and irrelevant – dated Whoopi Goldberg for ages). Glory be, though: he kept Morgan and Langella’s work intact and the movie kicks some Watergate ass. Also: extra points for the super-effective preview.

Up. A. Yes, I’m upset too that there wasn’t a not-dead girl in sight in the movie but them Pixar boys (yes, they’re mostly boys) produce some quality entertainment. 3-D was an OK gimmick but inessential. It’s quite a feat to make a movie that everyone from my management-consultant father to my urban artist friend to an eight-year-old is quoting three weeks later.

While we’re on the subject, that animation crowd needs some therapy re: killing moms. Either they can’t write ’em (which is a sign of laziness but not malice) or going home for Thanksgiving must be quite the ordeal.

The Hangover. B minus. It lacked the poignance of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and some of the brilliant banter, but the premise was excellent, the resolution not cringe-inducing and Zach was weird but not outta hand. Whew. (Is Bradley Cooper shark-y or what?)

Terminator Salvation. D. Trust me: there’s no salvation for anything/one/cyborg here. Completely forgettable. Thank you, Christian Bale, for forcing them to dilute the original storyline so you could get more camera time. I love Batman as much as the next guy, but McG, this ain’t no music video: the star doesn’t rule the shoot. Also, stop being a schmuck and using your ghetto nickname in the credits like you’re not an overpaid, blonde white guy.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine. B minus. Brace yourselves: there are, like, 50 X-Men named in the previous movies, so this Origins series is gonna be a long one. Thank God they started up with the hot one. I hate the facial hair, but I can’t forget Hugh‘s tragic look and slim hips or Liev‘s vicious incisors and claws, so they must’ve done their job. And by “job” I mean “getting me into the theater even though I saw part of the pirated version and it looked like it might be a complete train wreck but decided that seeing it on an extremely large screen might make up for its obvious shortcomings in plot and execution.” Well done, boys.

Star Trek. Drag Me to Hell. Oh wait, are those two separate movies? Not for me, they’re not.

Transformers: The College Years. C. No, I haven’t seen it, but I’ve done the math.

Muscle cars (hot in 1983)[-72]
+ Shia LaBeouf (over-exposed a la Jude Law circa 2004)(-23)
+ Megan Fox (get over your-“I’ve never been a big believer in formal education”-self)(-NC17)
/ sequel [possible -37]
-3.02 (which is about a C).



R has not seen The Shadow, that terrible, terrible Alec Baldwin movie from 1994 so I watched it with him last weekend.

When Lamont Cranston (worst alter-ego name ever) dresses up as the Shadow, he wears a big flamenco hat and a bandana over his lower face.

Me: That is not Alec Baldwin.
R: Yeah it is.
Me: That is not Alec Baldwin’s nose. It’s huge.
R: The Shadow Nose!
Me: That’s not how that’s spelled.

Sunday Realization

Let today be remembered as the day I officially admitted that our Netflix queue has gotten out of hand. The current crop of films is living in a stack in front of the television like friends of friends who crash on your couch for a weekend and just won’t leave.

Currently in-house and holding on for the eighth straight week: Rachel Getting Married, the well-reviewed but very possibly depressing story of an annoying, alcoholic chick played by a very possibly annoying starlet going to her sister’s wedding and wreaking havoc. A perfect choice for those of us already completely paralyzed at the prospect of planning a wedding. Possible happy ending: I have no sister and therefore this movie will not happen to me.

In a close second, Happy-Go-Lucky, a movie about an incurable optimist (likely deeply irritating) directed by Mike Leigh (known to be deeply irritating. To me. I don’t like disorder, and people who don’t use scripts reek of disorder. I like scripts. It’s why I write them. Don’t ask me why I put Leigh in our queue. It was a trap.)

Closing out the list and holding on for a month is Keane, the tale of a man who lost his kid at Port Authority a while ago and is still really upset about it. Which is understandable. Port Authority is pretty upsetting all on its own without layering the whole losing your kid thing on top of a visit.

I know. You don’t have to say anything. I don’t know what I was thinking.

Once those go back though, we’re all teed up for Shark Week: Ocean of Fear: Disc 1. It’s going to be awesome. I can feel it.



We saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine this weekend. Just a couple of notes.

First, it doesn’t seem fair that eight gajillion people on the planet know where Wolverine came from before he does. (In case it’s not clear, Origins takes place before the rest of the previously released X-Men movies, like Batman Begins and those godawful Star Wars prequels.) I wasn’t paying super close attention to the details of the previous X-Men movie (because it was unbelievably terrible which made me faint/squint/go get popcorn), but I seem to remember that the last time we saw Wolverine, he was still trying to sort out his, um, origins.

Just doesn’t seem right that I know and he doesn’t. It’s his life, after all. Although, I guess there’s a good chance that one of those eight gajillion people is gonna let it slip to him at a barbeque. Or he’ll pass one of the billboards and go see it himself, which would be kind of a shock to the system but probably more efficient than 10-15 years of psychotherapy.

Second, I do not like sideburns, ergo mutton chops make me gag and I wish they would stop. Someone who knows way too much about X-Men told me that Wolverine, in the comics, isn’t tall like Hugh Jackman, but kind of squat and broad, like, well, a wolverine. If the studio was going to compromise on the short, they could have cut out the nasty (mutton chops) as well and just hung onto the brutish.

Third, and this is unrelated to the movie but it also contains the word “wolverine” so it’s relevant, remember that piece on The Morning News from last February that walked you through getting your beloved a wolverine for Valentine’s Day?”Once she accepts the animal’s presence…it won’t be long before she develops a deep, maternal love for her wolverine–much like she would for a puppy, except that this puppy has razor-sharp claws and eats cats.” You should read that again. It’s funny.

Also, it will remind you about wolverines and make you wonder what [insert name of dude – and I’m 100% certain it was a dude – who came up with X-Men] was thinking. Wolverines are not sexy. You know who is? Hugh Jackman. You know how I know? ‘Cause People Magazine said so. (Also, I am alive and a girl.) So it’s not quite the right match. Maybe they should’ve gone for, like, a toughened up Peter Lorre or Danny DeVito (with fur).

But they picked Hugh and he’s a good guy and Liev Schreiber is always interesting to watch, so yeah, go see it. Just don’t expect too much and keep your mouth shut about it at your next barbeque until you’ve looked around to see who’s hanging out by the chips.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Me: It‘s exactly what I thought it was going to be. Cheerful, not complicated. Like children. Like Harriet the Spy. Amateurs. God. Middle-aged women.
R: What are you going to be like when you’re middle-aged?
Me: Complicated. And I’ll wear a turban.
R: You’re going to be a freak, aren’t you?
Me: And you’ll be right there next to me.

Um what?

Me: Have you seen Wall-E?
KT: No.
Me: You haven’t seen anything!
KT: I watch porn.
Me: You can’t watch porn until you’ve seen Wall-E.
KT: What? I don’t watch porn.
Me: You just said…
KT: I said “foreign”.
Me: You shouldn’t mumble about things like that.


R: We could go see Wendy and Lucy. What’s that?
Me: We’re not going to Wendy and Lucy.
R: Why not?
Me: Because you’ll hate it…it’s, like a girl…and her dog…it’s a bad situation….
R: A girl in a bad situation…with her dog?! Sweet. Say no more. I’m there. Where do I invest?

What Not to Watch First Thing in the Morning

Oscars 2009: Round-Up According to Me

1. Best-Dressed (And Let’s Not Be Stupid Here) Award:

  • Tina Fey. Definitely went a long way to make up for that terrible number she wore to the Golden Globes.
  • Jennifer Aniston. Didn’t love the front braid on the hair, but the dress was lovely.
  • Meryl Streep – not the dress but the color of it. Why? Because I look great in that color and I’m the one handing out these awards.

2. “Girlfriend, Please” Award: Screw the “fashion-forward” garbage, Reese Witherspoon’s dress was terrible. Close runner up: Amy Adams’ necklace. Seriously people. I don’t care how much it cost, it looks like it escaped from the circus.

3. “Worst Feeling I Avoided This Year By Losing All My Bets” Award: You know when you want something to win, like, Best Screenplay, because you’re a writer and dammit that one screenplay deserved it but you don’t vote for it because you think it has an ice cube’s chance in hell of actually winning but then it does win and then you feel like a heel for not trusting your instincts and for voting against something you thought deserved it and you lost the point on your ballot as a result? Yeah. That feeling sucks. Know how I avoided it this year? I voted for what I thought would win and what I wanted to win and I lost on both counts. Whew. Close one.

4. “You Suck and You Never Should Have Been There In the First Place But Your Show Is On the Network That Broadcast the Oscars” Award: Zac Efron. Did we all catch his comment on the red carpet when asked about Slumdog Millionaire?

Interviewer: What do you think of the movie? We just spoke with Dev Patel and…

Zac Efron: Yeah, he’s a great kid.

I’m sorry, what? “Kid”? You, my condescending friend, are all of three years older than he is. And by the way, Patel is always gracious and enthusiastic – and was in an actual f*cking quality movie that, by the way, WON and you are on a stupid teen musical television show. Geez. Get over yourself.

5. “Thank You For Remembering” Award: To the producers for making sure Harold Pinter was on the In Memoriam list. I am so sorry he’s gone. I always hoped I’d meet him. Rough year losing Paul Newman and Paul Scofield as well.

6. “I Am So Right and Stop Arguing With Me” Award goes to ME. Yes, me. For what? For knowing that Hugh Jackman is completely gay and saying it all these years and now we all know it, so don’t deny it. The man is a song and dance machine, a total charmer and I love him even through his mutton chops Wolverine look. There’s nothing wrong with being gay and stashing the wife in a different apartment and having kids with her. Well, maybe there is something wrong with that, but we all have to get ahead how we can. But stop telling me he’s straight, ’cause he ain’t. And I have no gaydar at all, so if I think he’s gay, he’s gay. Full stop.

7. “I Feel The Same Way, Sean Penn, and Thank You To Everyone I Know”: “I want to be very clear that I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me, often.” (Although I definitely would’ve remembered to thank my wife, especially after I cheated on her with Russian prostitutes.)

8. “Thank You For Making a Liar Out of Me” Award goes to the Oscar producers. They said it would be different. They said they were changing it up. They said they recognized that they sucked at keeping the show interesting. The first step is recognizing you have a problem, so good for them, but I never thought they’d deliver anything interesting. And they did. Quibble with some of the details if you will, but overall the show rocked a new vibe.

Oscars 2009: I hate auto-complete

I was trying to text R (who’s on a train to Baltimore) about how fantastic Tina Fey looked presenting for the screenplay awards and my phone suggested “Tuna Dry”. I hate my phone.