Sunday, December 14, 2008

Very cold

Saturday night, 10pm.




Thursday, December 11, 2008

BUGGER OFF!

Does anybody else feel stalked by asshats with boomboxes blaring 'CHRISTMAS HITS OF 1997'? The drunk Filipino retirees across the street in the 10-story condo have seen fit to inflict their taste in Xmas classics on all of us tonight. I'm growing to hate living in the city, at least this close to downtown.

Anyway, I went crazy a few days back and did a review of every flick that was released in the U.S. in 2008 that I've actually seen -- this is leaving out a bunch of Holiday Blockbusters like 'Milk' and 'Day the Earth Stood Still'.

Judging from the size of the list, I really should get out more.

My review of 2008 Films:

Cloverfield
– what was J.J. Abrams thinking when he backed this silly digital hand-held mess? The best line was when Blonde Unknown Actor No. 2 shrieked "I'm gonna crap my pants!" Now that's comedy. 1 star

Teeth – FINALLY a coming-of-age-getting-laid film where for the first time a girl is not punished for her budding sexuality, her boyfriends are. Okay, the perpetual lopping off of penises is a bit over kill and, of course, it's all a latent gay man revenge fantasy but it's fun. At least they poke a stick at the Jesus freaks and the absurdness of chastity. 3 stars

Rambo – Surprisingly tasteful action-adventure from the man who practically invented the genre and who is really too old to be running through any jungle. The entire crew should have gotten an award for shooting on location in Thailand in 110-degree heat with 95% humidity. It was nice of Sly to throw a humanitarian plug in there about Myanmar err, I mean Burma. 2 stars

Untraceable – I find Colin Hanks MUCH more annoying than his father, but boiling his character alive in a vat of acid was overkill. Sure, make Hanks play the reluctant bottom in a touching gay S&M movie or put him in a faux concentration camp and slap him around a little but don't boil him in acid, that's just gross. 0 stars

The Air I Breathe – What the fuck was this movie about? 40 minutes into it and I'm nodding off while Forest Whitaker sobs and begs a bookie not to kill him. Should I be dozing during this pivotal scene? 0 stars

Definitely, Maybe – Ryan Reynolds is cute, we've already established this. So is Abigail Breslin. But two hours of that much artificial sweetener can be fatal. I loved Reynolds in the edgy "The Nines", so much I own the DVD. Reynolds, ease up on the Splenda, 'kay? 0 stars

Jumper - Hayden Christensen and Jamie Bell flap around the screen via queasy special effects while Samuel L. Jackson plays a Bad MoFo. These special effects films are kind of like Ketamine, two hours of really bright lights followed by amnesia. 0 stars

Charlie Bartlett – Robert Downey Jr. is like wine, he keeps getting better. Anton Yelchin just gets cuter which makes me really angry that "Huff" is no more. But I wonder about a film that paints prescription drug abuse in this country in a playful light. My high school was a nightmare but I survived it sans Prozac and Vicodan. 3 stars

The Other Boylen Girl – Life in 16th century England was tough, even if you looked like Scarlett Johannson and creepy old Woody Allen wasn't stalking you. Fuck the king really well and you get screwed. Fuck the king and don't enjoy it and you still get screwed. What's a corset-wearing girl to do? Best scene hands down: when one of the Boylen girls tries to seduce her own brother and he breaks down in a fit of (possibly fey?) tears. 2 stars

10,000 B.C. – I like the Emmerich brothers and I'm a female film geek. I'd rather see a special-effects-action blockbuster by them any day of the week over the vile Michael Bay. But they should stop trying to give history lessons. It's like watching two German hippie backpackers re-tell the American Revolution after too many beers in a youth hostel in Australia (I actually witnessed something like this once). Repeat after me and my Archeology professor: The ancient pyramids of Egypt were NOT made by slaves Hebrew or otherwise. 2 stars

Paranoid Park – here's a Gus Van Sant film that shows the American teen in his natural element: confused, slightly drunk/stoned and apprehensive about being raped by his manipulative girlfriend. And Johnny Law is breathin' down everybody's neck because of some lame-ass dead security guard. All this when all kids really wanna do is skate, man! 3 stars

Snow Angels – I like David Gordon Green and I loved "George Washington" and "All the Real Girls". "George Washington" had some of the best cinematography I've ever seen. But take Green out of the south and put him in Nova Scotia and he goes blind cinematically. This film is a dreary mess that plunks along way too long. 0 stars

Doomsday – the world has gone to apocalyptic hell thanks to yet another runaway virus. But never fear, Neil Marshall (the UK's answer to Wes Craven) is here to straighten things out via car chases and rock-concert-serenaded disembowelments. Marshall's fun. He did "Dog Soldiers" and "The Descent" where (GASP) female characters get equal time slashing at monsters and being duplicitous. Thank Gawd the split tails don't just lay there and scream for 120 minutes. The Making Of is especially funny to watch as soft-spoken Equity members -- decked out in more faux body piercings than a Marilyn Manson concert – talk about their previous experience working in 'Thee-ah-tar' in the West End. 3 stars

Funny Games – A decent remake of a Euro suspense flick. The always watchable Michael Pitt and "Mysterious Skin" alum Brady Corbet are the nightmare visitors to yuppie couple Naomi Watts and Tim Roth's swank vacation home. The film is productively suspenseful and edgy as the two fledgling psychopaths worm their way into the family and slowly torture them to death. You'll never look at teenage golfers in polo shirts the same way again! 4 stars

21 – Kevin Spacey leads a cast of unknown pretty faces into the oh-so-seedy world of Vegas card counting. It's got sex! It's got money! It's got Spacey! It's dull! 0 stars

Run Fat Boy Run – Watch David Schwimmer chase the elusive vehicle Comedy down the street. Thrill as his fingers graze the bumper a few times before the car speeds off leaving Simon Pegg looking worriedly at Hank Azaria's groin. Listen to Thandie Newton on the Making Of whine about how the only reason she got this job was because she's half black. This from a bulimic, well-paid star who's been described as one of the most beautiful women in the world. Her face has launched a lot of expensive cosmetics and she can actually afford to live in North London. 2 stars

Stop-Loss – Ryan Phillippe is a working-class, buff Texan who wants to be done with his tour in Iraq and back to his 'normal' life of shooting rattlesnakes and drinking Lone Stars. But the Bush Regime is having none of that. The film's watchable, especially Joseph Gordon-Levitt who gets lost behind the celebrity glare of Phillipe's pearly whites and ripped abs. Coming from Kimberly Peirce who made "Boys Don't Cry", the film is strangely neutered. The romantic connections in the story are barely there and Peirce tip toes around issues like spousal abuse and what modern-day war really does to young men's minds. 2 stars

Street Kings – Keanu Reeves is a bad mofo. He's a LAPD cop who "takes out the garbage" for his superiors and then, weirdly, starts to question the morality of this after being assigned a desk job listening to people complain about his coworkers, those corrupt pigs. Oh yeah and Dr. House is in it! But I can't figure out why. 1 star

Chaos Theory – I rented this in the vain hope I'd see some more of Ryan Reynolds washboard abs or maybe a little ass cheek. Alas, this did not happen. You know how it is when you visit friends in your hometown (Vancouver, B.C.) and they BEG you to be in their movie? Well you can't just say 'no', that would be rude. Next time, Ryan, say 'no.' 0 stars

88 Minutes – My STINKER OF THE YEAR AWARD goes to this. Wow, this is a bad movie. Like on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being "Pearl Harbor", this is a 9.5! Yet another Vancouver-pretending-to-be-Seattle setting for Al I'm-68-fucking-years-old Pacino. Pacino plays a 68-fucking-years-old forensic psychiatrist who helps out the cops when he's not banging 20-something bi-sexual co-eds. If a less imaginative writer from the Playboy Channel was crossed with the Wachowski Brothers, you'd get this. And yes the killer was a bi-sexual girl who couldn't stand being out fucked by 68-fucking-years-old Pacino. And you just know those jealous model-pretty faux lesbians who really want to get reamed by grandpa are all over Vancouver. 0 stars

The Forbidden Kingdom – This is a delicious fluffy pork dumpling of a film. Jackie Chan is sweet and funny and Michael Angarano is wonderful as the geeky weakling who obsesses over Kung Fu films. Jet Li is best when he's playing the monkey god, not a mere mortal. The settings are all breath-taking and the story line is so earnest and heartfelt it would be cruel to pick on it. Hell, rent it for the kids. It's good clean fun. 3 stars

Forgetting Sarah Marshall – The whole time I was watching this, I wondered if it was really about Jason Segel's relationship with his former "Freaks and Geeks" co-star, Linda Cardellini? I guess we'll never know. This is like if Judd Apatow's cast ran off with his film equipment for a weekend, smoked some pot, drank blue Hawaiias and made a home movie about the painful trials of boning B-list Hollywood actresses. Russell Brand is the best thing about this film even though he spends half of it with his bum in the air doing ridiculous yoga moves. His character describing a creepy sexual scenario with that awful yob band Oasis is worthy of some laughing out loud. Segel has always been more endearing to me than out-right funny. His sharpest scenes are when we see how Singletons are treated in public places (he gets the crappiest table in the restaurant) and why banging strangers just isn't the same as sex with our Significant Other. I just wish there'd been more of the Dracula with puppets. Now that was original. 3 stars

Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? – Morgan Spurlock goes to the Middle East and annoys people from Dubai to Tel Aviv. In Tel Aviv he pisses off some cranky orthodox Jews. He even dips his toe into the sands of Iraq and beats us to death with the realization that maybe the deeply tanned people of that part of the world have a reason to be mad as hell at us. 1 star

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay – This film does more to promote the cause of the deeply tanned people of the Middle East than the 'documentary' above. Once again John Cho and Kal Penn lead us through a maze of frat-boy fart and sex jokes. Our Duo gets in trouble for lighting a bong on a commercial airline (never saw that one coming, dude) and Rob Corddry's dead-on Homeland Insecurity agent goes medieval on their asses. But the ending – where the boys get smoked out by a stoner Pres. Bush – was disappointing. The faux Bush never gives an explanation for why he set up Guantanamo in the first place, only that he's really just like us and just wants to party like all the other frat boys. In a pig's eye! 3 stars

Iron Man – Robert Downey Jr. again at his un-flappable best as the comic book hero who, unlike the Harold and Kumar faux Pres. Bush, actually re-thinks his moral choices and grows a little. Plus he has this really cool suit that he flies around in. 3 stars

Red Belt – This David Mamet film got buried and forgotten in the avalanche of mainstream movies released in 2008 and that is just WRONG. It's good and thoroughly watchable. It's got action and a brain, the way real movies should. Tim Allen is the sleazy Hollywood star who forgets his friends quicker than you can say CAA. Chiwetel Ejiofor is the absurdly noble martial arts instructor who refuses to bow to the commercialization of MMA even when his master instructor does. Emily Mortimer is the broken, screwed-up business woman who sets the whole plot off in an accidental shooting. Because of Mamet's dense, quick dialogue, you shouldn't watch this once. You should watch it twice and remind yourself that martial arts films can be good, grasshopper. 4 stars

The Fall – Tarsem Singh produces a lovely, eye-popping story that takes place in the mind of a little Italian immigrant girl in 1920's Hollywood. Lee Pace does a damn fine job as the broken stunt man who's been paralyzed while working on a Buster Keaton-ish film. Everything about this movie is as awe-inspiring is a gothic cathedral full of stained-glass windows. You're so overwhelmed by the Jungian images you can forgive any tiny plot holes. 5 stars

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – It takes Disney to sanitize and suck the life out of C.S. Lewis's classic series. Yeah there's centaurs and chatty mice but James McAvoy's weirdly sexy faun is gone and Tilda Swinton makes only a tiny appearance as the White Witch. There's something so grating about Georgie Henley as the littlest of the Pevensies that I wanted to engage in child abuse. I think a weekend with Mommy Dearest would do wonders for her line delivery. And somewhere underneath a Sammy Hagar wig is Peter Dinklage, once again tragically under used. 1 star

You Don't Mess with the Zohan – Adam Sandler is delightful as a former Masad agent who wants to "style and cut hair" and "make the whole world silky smooth." John Tuttoro is fab as his nemesis. Rob Schneider is funny as a cab driver who recognizes the Zohan. Lanie Kazan is comical as one of Zohan's many cougar lovers. Seeing all the Arab and Israeli immigrants crammed into the same dumpy neighborhood in New York makes everybody realize it's a very small world and we all have to try and get along. 4 stars

The Happening – Where does Shyamalan get his pot?! I so want to get hooked up with his ganja dealer. Only a pothead filmmaker could come up with the kooky idea that plants (yes, as in HOUSEPLANTS) are trying to bump off humanity and take over the planet. Be careful what you say around your ficus, it can hear you. 1 star

The Incredible Hulk – Edward Norton is mean, green and determined to make a film with a valid story and moral message. And if he has to kick some studio ass in the process, bring it on! The early shots in this film where we fly over the eternal slums of Rio are amazing and end way too soon. William Hurt sleep walks through another role as the bad guy and father of Liv Tyler's character. Tyler's Betty is so passively written I honestly think they could have used a blowup doll. Once again the female character just lays there while things happen to her and she occasionally screams when tanks blow up. 3 stars

Stuck – Mena Suvari and Steven Rea, the grande dame of 1992's art house flick "The Crying Game", play a deliciously perverse game of cat-n-mouse when Suvari's idiot character mows down Rea's. Then Suvari's character drives home with the down-on-his-luck Rea stuck in her windshield. But Robo Hobo just will NOT die and Suvari's moronic nurse has to come up with a way to dispose of the un-dead bum. Another film that should get a lot more play time in DVD. 4 stars

Hellboy II: The Golden Army – Mexican filmmaker, Guillermo del Toro, takes the audience on a weird wild ride with set designs so complex he probably will have to do one of those expanded Making Ofs with a DVD devoted just to the stunning, mescaline-inspired visuals. But truthfully it's Ron Pearlman's damn hard work that makes this franchise watchable. He's like the Sean Connery of the comic book hero genre. Every punch and smack down of the bad guys is done with a wink and nod to the audience ala Connery's James Bond. Good fun. 4 stars

The Dark Knight – Christopher Nolan makes a very dark Batman come to life in this latest installment of the vigilante myth. All the acting is top notch but poor Heath Ledger so completely embodies the Joker he's mesmerizing to watch. There isn't a hint of the slacker Aussie surfer dude underneath the Joker's manic cake makeup. Ledger did what most actors can only aspire to – he totally submerged his own personality under the character's. 5 stars

Transsiberian – Just when you thought it was safe to go be a tourist in Russia, think again. Emily Mortimer shines as the indecisive American tourist who accidentally does something Very Bad to a Very Deserving Bad Guy setting off a whole lot of Very Bad Russians. Ben Kingsley is fine as his usual bad guy with an ambiguous foreign accent (not new territory for him). I just wish he'd been as overwhelmingly scary as Don in "Sexy Beast", where his performance literally gave me nightmares. Woody Harrelson is too old for his part and so amateurish if his character had just fallen off the train halfway through, nobody would have missed him. 3 stars

Felon – Stephen Dorff of "Blade" and "I Shot Andy Warhol" fame takes on the American penal system as a working-class guy who kills a burglar in a home invasion and gets sent to the Big House. This movie is such a knock off of "Oz" I kept expecting to see Adebisi come swaggering around the corner. Val Kilmer is barely recognizable as a long-time felon who has been walking the political tightrope between the rival prison gangs and the corrections officers for years. Filmmaker Ric Waugh takes an honest stab at a horribly wrong system that instead of rehabilitating turns out parolees more violent than when they went in. 3 stars

Boy A – A UK film adaptation of a novel by Jonathan Trigell tells the story of a young man who has been in a psychiatric prison since his early teens. He gets out and assumes a new identity (sort of like a witness protection program) under the guidance of the always good Peter Mullan playing his case worker. Jack seems like an incredibly likeable, puppy dog-eyed young man but he's haunted by a horrific past. Director John Crowley does seem to paint a sympathetic picture of a former child murderer who actually has a conscience unlike some psychopaths who seem to operate without any remorse. The ending is nice and ambiguous and leaves you wondering what the hell really happened. 5 stars

The X-Files: I Want to Believe – Oh Chris, Chris, Chris! Why did you do this? Was it simply to get back at FOX Studios after the eternal lawsuit? Suffice it to say this simply could have been a two-hour special on the SciFi channel and everybody would have been happy. The first movie was a lot better, possibly because we were all still in love with Mulder and Scully. 1 star

Pineapple Express – Another Apatow-produced gem this time, weirdly, directed by David Gordon Green (yes, he of the moody American South indy films). Seth Rogen and James Franco are in tip-top form and Danny McBride is wildly funny as the verbally rambling dealer in the Dufus Trio. Rogen discovers a dirty cop, a big-time pot dealer and a pissed-off Asian drug gang and then spends most of the movie running from them … even when they're not chasing him. Franco does so many prat falls for laughs I was worried about him. Get buzzed and watch this gem which is better than anything Cheech and Chong every came up with. 4 stars

Tropic Thunder – Eegads, what a mess. Ben Stiller and company try their damndest to turn a lot of entertainment industry- inside jokes into a full two-hour laughfest. The trouble is when Jack Black is playing a whiney drug addict? He's just whiney. And Robert Downey Jr.'s so good at what he does, he is the dude playing the dude. Steve Coogan gets killed off too early to help deliver any real laughs and Danny McBride (of "Pineapple Express") isn't given nearly enough time on camera. Instead there's just these weird drawn out scenes with Stiller goofing on "Apocalypse Now" and "Platoon". Matthew McConaughey's 10-percenter really is funnier than Tom Cruise's freaky producer. 1 star

Let the Right One In – Wow, who knew Sweden could churn out such a tight, provocative film. I don't know if it's re-inventing the vampire genre but it sure pumps some warm blood back into a very tired theme of Making Friends with the Undead. The two child actors are amazingly unaffected in their performances and the setting feels real right down to the dreary, thin-walled council estates the characters live in. 5 stars

Son of Rambow - (this was just released on DVD, came out in the UK last year) is sweet and funny and incredibly inventive. The three child actors are delightful to watch. It's a trippy look inside a 12-yr-old's diary complete with imaginary exploding things. And we get to see how quickly indy film making can lead to The Battle of the Egos ... even in kids. 4 stars

0 stars: utter shite, mate!
1 star: rent if really bored
2 stars: meh, it's watchable
3 stars: definitely watchable
4 stars: should get mentioned at the Oscars
5 stars: It's golden

Monday, December 08, 2008

Author, author!

I've joined Harper-Collin's Authonomy site. Anything to avoid actually writing.

Besides, I'm always looking for new ways to get plagiarized ... er, at least someone would be doing something with one of my stories.

In other news supposedly somebody who is the assistant of somebody famous up in Toronto is reading my short-film spec script, "CHIENNE" which is a contemporary suspense/drama set in rural Canada. And I don't speak a single word of French.

Yes, I like to bite off more than I can chew.

I feel tingly all over.