Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bloodrayne...a decent reign

Bloodrayne - Uwe Bowl - 2005 - 5/10


Uwe Bowl continues his quest to make every videogame into a movie. Kristanna Loken is Rayne, a dhamphir (half human, half vampire) set out to take revenge on the powerful vampire who raped and killed her mother. Joining her are three veteran vampire hunters led by Vladimir (Michael Madsen) and flanked by Domastir (Will Sanderson) and Katarin (Michelle Rodriguez). The only way to defeat her father, Kagan (Ben Kingsley) is to collect the powerful vampire talismans that will make the ultimate vampire - a rib, an eye, and a heart. Together the three "amulets" will help vampires overcome the greatest dangers - daylight, water, and the cross. As the band fights their way through human armies in league with vampires, monks guarding the amulets, and treachery, blood splatters everywhere. As our protagonists search out the amulets, behind the scenes, Kagan and Elrich (Billy Zane), Katarin's father, jockey for power. Who will get the amulets? What will they do?


Frankly, I liked the movie. After getting terrible reviews and being torn apart by imdb viewers, I expected a pretty weak movie. What I got was a sort of bastard of Indiana Jones, Dracula, and Lord of the Rings. Looking at the production details, you can see that Uwe Bowl was constrained by the meager 25 million dollar budget as the action scenes are sometimes weak and cheesy. At the same time, especially when using her katars (not sure that's the right terminology), Loken is pretty bad ass. The vampire fight scenes arent half bad either. But most of the scenes seem slow and overly simple for a movie that has its options limited down to swords. As a general rule, besides just the fight scenes, things seem to come too easy - perhaps Bowl's vigilant adherence to the videogame. But some things seem to almost resolve themselves. But the acting (despite a godawful script), especially the veteran actors is really solid - Madsen, Kingsley, Zane, Udo Kier, Geraldine Chaplin, Meat Loaf and then the new actors are equally strong as Loken is very good here, as is Michelle Rodriguez and Will Sanderson. However, the script and the cheesy action scenes prevent the movie from going to the next level, and even reaching the "Underworld" level. Towards the end the movie tries to clean things up, perhaps a little too hasty and a quasi-love between Loken's Rayne and Sanderson's Dormastir is essentially introduced in the last few minutes and seems fake and hollow - there wasnt really much of a hint beforehand. So the movie is good, but not good enough to really sink your teeth into it.


If it's on tv, and nothing else is, its a decent flick.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...Van Helsing


On the news today some players are whinning about how they think A-Rod interfered with play, causing an error. The players aledge that A-Rod, while running toward third base, "yelled I got it," causing the fielder to step back and the ball landed fair. Clearly it couldnt be just the fielder's fault.

I don't see what the big deal is. If this is true, why is A-Rod at fault? The fielder got TRICKED. Sure, they're eyes are on the ball, but if they're about to make a play, why would they step back if someone, out of nowhere, yells "i got it." This is pro baseball, if little league tricks are still working, why should A-Rod get in trouble?

I think that if A-Rod DIDNT yel "i got it," he should have.

Why compete with the NFL?

Apparently Mark Cuban is trying to get the UFL off the ground - a possible competitor for the NFL. Frankly I think this is fickle. Even in the last couple years there have been competitor leagues that tried to carve out their niche with a slightly different format intended to attract more viewers. Whether it is sprinting for the ball instead of a coinflip or tinkering with rules like foward progress and out of bounce, few leagues have been able to catch up. And they certainly havent been able to hold their viewers and survive financially.

Despite the fact that football is fast becoming the most popular sport, and one of the most lucrative business ventures, people don't watch arena football, despite ESPN trying to shove it down our throats. Besides, what kind of athlete would want to play in a secondary league that has to bear with the NFL? They might actually be better off playing in Canada or Europe.

Pride & Prejudice...should be very proud

Pride & Prejudice - Joe Wright - 2005 - 10/10


In this retelling of Jane Austen's classic romance novel, Keira Knightly plays Elizabeth Bennet, one of the many Bennet daughters living in Hartfordshire during the Georgian Era. The parents of the five daughters (Donald Sutherland and Brenda Blethyn) are opposites - Mr. Bennet in his own reserved way wants his daughters to find their own way if they want while Mrs. Bennet is anxious to thrust them into a good marriage so they don't have to worry about their future after Mr. Bennet dies. Things heat up when Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) blows into Hartfordshire, bringing his friend Mr. Darcy (Mathew Macfaden), and turning Hartfordshire a buzz with gossipers falling over themselves to find out if Bingley will mary one of the local girls. At a local ball, Elizabeth's sister, Jane (Rosamund Pike) catches the eye of Bingley and the two dance the night away, each falling more and more in love with each other. During a break in the dancing, Elizabeth and Jane are talking out of sight when they hear Bingley speak of how beautiful Jane is to Darcy, yet Darcy disparages Elizabeth by calling her plain. This sets Elizabeth stubbornly against Darcy, prejudicing her against Darcy before she can really know him, her pride preventing her heart from making its own decisions. As people fall in love left and right, marriage proposals are tossed around, elopments happen at the drop of a hat, harsh words spoken quickly and rescinded even faster, matriarchs clash with the young blood and more, Austen's timeless classic unfolds here masterfully.


The summary should have seemed flowery enough, but then again, it isnt often that I'm going to give a movie ten out of ten. But the movie earned it - having all the trappings of a great movie and then the coup de grace - not having ANYTHING I would want to change. Keira, once though too beautiful to play Elizabeth (maybe so, but I liked that..), is simply great - playing a determined, strong woman in a time when many women were not as strong. Macfadyen is great too - pulling off his equally stubborn character while also letting his softening devotion to Elizabeth rise to the surface. A pleasant suprise was Brenda Belthyn, one of the few actors I didnt know, who was hysterical as Mrs. Bennet, perfect tonation and timing for what I pictured Mrs. Bennet as being. Joe Wright does a solid job too, keeping the story moving and his use of Austen's work almost makes me forget this should have been a painful chick flick for me. Instead it seems to be a sharp comedy pointing out the class gaps in Georgian society and the unfortunate gender roles present at the time.


Must see - any means possible

If you liked this movie, watch...
...Love Actually
...Sense and Sensibility (1995)
...Tristan & Isolde

Spinning out of control

News this week, on sites including, are reporting that Sin City 2 isn’t going to happen. That is terrible news indeed.

I thought the first Sin City was revolutionary – a comic book movie that actually told a real story – several stories in fact. It was a more serious look at comics and a presentation that was true to the source material – Frank Miller was co-Director and the scenes seemed to come directly from Miller’s black and white cells. The limited color infusion was a sharp contrast that made each story look incredible. The acting was spectacular, even down to the bit parts and helped revive Mickey Rourke’s career. Not to mention we got to see Carla Gugino naked...

Finish reading this article at SaltyStix under "Sin City, Spin City"

Is Entourage racist?

Imdb had a blurb this morning about a former bodyguard of Mark Wahlberg who complains that “Entourage” is racist because there are no minority characters. The guy, an African-American, says that he has to deal with people asking him “why there is no character based on him” in “Entourage” – maybe because you were an annoying bloodsucker...

Finish reading this article at SaltyStix under "Entourage Klan?"


Some of my articles will be published at SaltyStix. SaltyStix is a site similar to this one that also features the writing of my (sometimes) like-minded friends and will go into many topics (especially TV) that might interest you, but topics I cannot cover alone. I hope you check it out!

And don't worry, I will continue to publish articles here that are not necessarily on SaltyStix, although many of my new articles, especially new movie reviews and pieces more in the "editorial vein" will be published here in blurbs where the complete article can be found at saltystix.


Bear with me here, I'm kind of just thinking aloud. So Kobe demands a trade. Says he would have signed with the Clippers, or the BULLS three years ago if he had known the Lakers were going to SUCK at rebuilding.

First things first, if Kobe ever wants to be his own player, carve his own mold besides being labeled "the next Michael Jordan," perhaps he should avoid one more similarity and not catch the L to Chicago. Seems like Phil would have a tough time dodging that question at the next news conference. But, if Kobe can take the comparison in stride to move toward a championship, then more power to him.

Now, the mechanics. One of the guards has to go...say...the shooting guard! Shocking, I know. Hey, what to you know, the Bull's shooting guard has a lot of value - Ben Gordon. The Bulls should package him up with someone else (maybe Duhon, as LA seems to want to ditch Smush) and some other piece (perhaps PJ Brown could be sold as the perfect mentor for Bynum). Realistically, the Bulls shouldnt have to give much more - with this recent fiasco, the Lakers should be happy to get a young star and some other pieces to help them before Kobe takes desperate action.

But the Bulls would be sacrificing so much for a ball hog who doesn't mesh with their selfless ideology and the method of Scott Skiles. Think about it though. Kobe is about three years older than Gordon. Three inches taller, three championship rings better and he's KOBE for God's sake. Besides, Gordon frankly doesnt mesh either, and Kobe is much better defensively than Gordon, and with Kobe drawing double teams, just THINK about how ridiculous Luol Deng's numbers would become. Besides, if Chicago could keep their draft pick and maybe get Kobe to renegotiate a manageable salary (that would baloon after a trade because of Kobe's weird trade clause) they could make some moves, draft a key piece and/or sign a quality free agent. Besides, they'd have KOBE. Forget LeBron, forget Wade, forget the Pistons, forget 50 games. We're talking AT LEAST 60 games and a team that could be dominant for at least four or five years.

Nikita v Maggie

Both Besson's "La Femme Nikita" and Badham's "Point of No Return" are deliciously nineties feeling movies - the action looks mildly staged and they can't move beyond their love of mediocre eighties music. When it really comes down to it, these movies are near carbon copies. It's too bad because "Point" had the opportunity to be "The Departed" to "Nikita"'s "Infernal Affairs" but "Point"'s lack of originality and skimping on further development (there is some) prevents it from reaching Martin's level.

But here's the play by play of the shootout...

La Femme Nikita v Point of No Return: The feel of "Nikita" is kinda rough around the edges, yet fake at the same time. "Point" simply LOOKS better - the shots, the scenery, the realism of the training facility and the casual shots of Maggie in California with JP. Maybe you chalk this up to French movies having no budget and American movies have gobs and gobs of cash. But the finished product of "Point" looks like a finished product, not some fuzzy art film with cheap props. Edge: Maggie.

The Professional v Mr. TV: Luc Besson should get some sort of edge because he did WRITE the thing. And Badham didnt do that much afterwards - mostly wallowing in cheesy TV shows, producing two episodes here and there. And Besson went on to bigger and better things. But in a one to one versus like this, Badham gets the edge. His movie is crisper, he trims some of the useless fat and includes some more interesting shots - Maggie taking off her shoes before the first hit, little subtleties like JP proposing during Maggie's sniper mission, clearing away the campy bs like Marco "figuring out she was a spy" and other stuff. Edge: Maggie.

Mrs. Who? v Mrs. Brooks: This one isnt even close. Ann Bancroft runs away from this one with a solid performance that actually means something. Her impact on Maggie is crystal clear, and Maggie turns to her when she needs her. Her scenes are more memorable and longer. You even have an idea of her backstory and her life with Bancroft's portrayal. Edge: Maggie.

Apartment v Mansion: This one also isnt close. In "Nikita," Nikita's training seems almost meaningless. In "Point" Maggie uses hand to hand in New Orleans and on her last mission; she uses her demeanor she learned from Bancroft to calm herself in front of the Wolfe, and her weapons training is more evident in the bathroom scene in the beginning. In "Nikita" NONE of this happens, not even mentioned. Edge: Maggie.

Leon v Winston Wolfe: This one is kind of close. In "Nikita" Jean Reno gives a Leon-like performance as a cleaner who is executing his job to the best of his ability, albeit a little stubborn. In "Point" Harvey Keitel tries his cleaner routine before it was perfected in "Pulp Fiction" and the result is an amusing, yet ultimately distasteful creation. Granted, Keitel's role is different AND his action scenes are much better, but he goes down in a bad way and inspires little in the audience and Leon benefits from playing a "good guy." Edge: Nikita.

Bob v Bob: Again, this is pretty close. That random guy from "Kiss of the Dragon" and "The Patriot" plays a pretty solid character. But "cheating" helps our friendly little devil make a deal to stomp on the Frenchman. Byrne simply has more screen time and does more in the movie than Frency even came close to doing. I almost feel bad for him. Edge: Maggie.

Marco v JP: I think I changed my mind by the time I got here. But I'm going to have to go with Marco - his performance was a little better, a little more believable, and he was a little better at playing the i-love-you-why-are-you-lieing-to-me role. Even though JP's lines were better and he was more attractive, I gotta go with Marco. Edge: Nikita.

Nikita v Maggie: I guess Nikita gets "cool name" points, but that's really about it. Anne Poullard is just not hot. I spent most of "Nikita" wondering wheter Nikita was going to go back to her pet shop and wait for Rocky to pick her up. She couldnt really play punk or hot. I half expected the guy from "The Patriot" to start yelling "Adrienne!" Bridget Fonda on the other hand is just hot. She pulls off punk a lot better and she gets the benefit of blonde hair (maybe I'm a sucker for blondes). She's convincing too and just as tormented by her past and just as torn by her love for her man and her purpose of missions. Edge: Maggie.

Shootout results: Bridget Fonda (Maggie) 6, Anne Poullard (Nikita) 2.

Point of No Return...right on point

Point of No Return - John Badham - 1993 - 8/10


The movie opens as a gang of punks, including Maggie (Bridget Fonda) is about to rip off a drug store so Maggie can get her fix. They are interrupted by one of their member's fathers and the police surround them and after a bloody shootout, Maggie is the only one left over. She is arrested, tried, found guilty, and sentenced to die. She freaks out through the execution yet after the injection she awakes to be told her death was faked and she now is being held by some government agency that wants to train her to be an agent. After a rocky start, and six months of training in weapons, hand-to-hand combat, computers, seduction, etiquette, and more, Maggie is unleashed on the world. She is given the alias of Claire and the codename of Nina and given assignments. She tries to get a life together and soon falls in love with JP (Dermont Mulroney). Her life seems to be going fine until the agency pushes one last assignment and then her trainer (Gabriel Byrne) will do his best to help her leave the agency. But the mission is harder than Maggie thought...


As you can tell, if you (hopefully) read my review of "La Femme Nikita" this movie is a straight up remake with very very very little difference. Almost word for word Maggie is Nikita. That being said, the movie was pretty good. Moved pretty quickly and the acting was superb. The movie is basically a who's who of secondary actors as all the actors you've seen before (perhaps because Badham became the tv king in recent years) have small roles. And then the main roles are filled quite nicely with solid, big name actors. And then there's Ann Bancroft who delivers a solid performance as Maggie's only real friend in the agency, helping her find herself. The movie's biggest fault is simply that it is way way way too similar to the original, there is almost no innovation. But Besson's story rings true in this remake and Fonda is great as Maggie, sexy yet sympathetic, and deadly as ever.


If you had to choose between this and "Nikita," see this one.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...The Professional
...The Assignment
...Aeon Flux

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

For Love or Money...not much of either

For Love or Money - Barry Sonnenfeld - 1993 - 4/10


Doug Ireland (Michael J. Fox) is a concierge of a New York City hotel but has designs on opening his own hotel - a hotel on Roosevelt Island he had to scrape all his savings for. To make some extra money Doug has been scalping tickets and taking big tips and doing anything and everything to make his hotel happen. However, for some reason, the nature of his purchase forces him to act on the hotel within a few months or he will lose everything. His only hope seems to be Christian Hannover (Anthony Higgins), a wealthy frequenter of Doug's hotel. Christian seems to weigh the options on the deal and makes appearances as if to help Doug and makes it out that if Doug helps him keep his mistress Andy (Gabrielle Anwar) busy, maybe Christian can help Doug out. Doug seems happy to oblige as he thinks Andy is the most beautiful girl in the world - and Doug's dream girl. As things plod on Doug seems to become more jealous of Christian's girl than of Christian's wealth yet Doug is paralyzed to do anything because he needs Christian to weather an untimely IRS audit into his finances. As he begins to see the real side of both Christian and Andy, Doug needs to decide if he wants to life his life for love, or money (I know that was corny, but I had to do it).


Sonnenfeld has an eclectic resume - bringing us the "Adams Family" movies, "Men in Black", "RV" and "Get Shorty." While "Get Shorty" invented a new kind of comedy and "Men in Black" invented a new kind of blockbuster, you would be correct in thinking Sonnenfeld doesnt know which way he wants to go in the genre spectrum. This movie can't decide whether to go for slapstick comedy or traditional rom-com motions. Instead it sort of murks in between soaking up the worst of both worlds. For the most part there is little to no character development - even by rom-com standards - and elements like Doug's ticket scalping business get little screen time or explanation. Situations and lines make you cringe at how fake they seem and without Michal J. Fox's traditional you-love-me-because-i'm-trying-so-hard-to-do-so-many-things-but-i-think-you're-the-thing-i want role, the movie would be extremely flat. Gabrielle Anwar doesn't give MJF much help and its little wonder she's stuck doing "The Librarian" tv movies because while her beauty is right on, her acting is weak. Anthony Figgins however turns in a great performance as a slimey mover and shaker who somehow always manages to squeak by. However, all around it seems like the naivete of the main characters is astounding - where is the cynicism Sonnenfeld so well appreciates in "Get Shorty" or the sharp wit he executes in that movie and "Men in Black"?


If it's on your TV, turn your TV off.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...Doc Hollywood
...The Secret of My Success

REVIEW: House M.D., Season 1

House M.D. - Fox - 2004 - 9/10


Hugh Laurie is Dr. House, a genius diagnostician who is bitter and cruel yet is many people's last hope. Working at Princeton Planesboro Hosptial House commands a team of three bright doctors, Dr. Eric Foreman (Omar Epps), Dr. Allison Cameron (Jennifer Morrison), Dr. Robert Chase (Robert Sean Leonard), almost always referred to simply by their last names. Their boss boss is Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), the hospital administrator. House walks with a cane and you soon learn that this is because he had a near-deadly thigh infarction (basically a heart attack in your leg), the situation most attribute to his bitterness and to which he justifies his incessant pill popping of vikodin. House's closest "friend" in the hospital is Dr. James Wilson, again usually only referred to as "Wilson," a cancer specialist who somehow bears with House's jokes and puns and tries to help House and give him advice, both in life and in diagnostics.


Some of my friends kept pushing me to watch this show and I expected some fluff like ER. The medicine is more intense and more intriguing - forget the sappy shit of patients dealing with death - House jumps in with his wit and cynicism and you can't help but smile. The show is intense and interesting, when there is social melodrama its rarely drawn out like ER or even Scrubs, and most things are resolved in only an episode. The shows make you laugh while keeping you interested in each of the new cases and the clinic type format the show keeps alive brings in multiple new patients while bringing new victims to House's acerbic wit. At the same time, the first fourteen or so episodes seem wayward and lost, rudderless as each episode has little to no connection to the previous episode and they start to seem the same: intro collapse, bodily refussal of treatment, trache the patient, House figures it out. However, in episode 15 the show introduces an interesting element that carries over for about six episodes that binds the episodes together and makes them more interesting. The formula essentially stays the same, but not the episodes are building on each other. This continues in the end where another new development keeps the episodes interesting and unified. All the actors are great but Hugh Laurie is simply amazing - literally becoming House (something presumably difficult because Laurie is British and very nice). His lines are delivered perfectly, great timing, great attitude, he becomes the perfect cynic, the perfect "hero."


If you missed these the first time around, they're worth the $40 on DVD

If you liked this show, watch...

REVIEW: Entourage, Season 2

Entourage - Doug Ellin - 2005 - 8/10


The boys breeze back into LA after shooting Queens Blvd and they want to hit the ground running, and they're pushing for "Medellin," the Pablo Escobar story. Ari doesnt think so and tries to tell the guys that without Warner's "Aquaman" push, Vince could be stuck doing Mary Kate and Ashley movies. Eric is officially Vince's manager now and Turtle is officially the manager of the house. Not wanting to be left behind, Drama tries to blow some steam into his stagnant career, aided by his agent Adam Davies. The boys have to deal with money crunches, fight the temptation of a next door harem, stray into advertising, hit sundance and more. Throw in a famous pop star playing herself trying to steal Vince's heart, a big movie in danger, a Bar Mitzvah, a Comic-Con, a stolen car and possibly a new career for Turtle. Basically, season 1 got the ball rolling on Vince's career and in season 2, Eric and Ari try to keep the ball rolling, albeit in different directions at times and Turtle and Drama are along for the ride, as usual. Ari also has a new assistant after Emily left, post-Eric, and his name is Lloyd, a nice, gay-Asian man who Ari loves to insult.


There are more episodes. And I love more episodes. But at the same time, there is more fluff, more meandering that has little to do with the trajectory of the show introduced in the first season and continued in the first few episodes. Some of this fluff I chalk up to the show showing the boys "living the life," but at some point, I gotta start taking some points off. What's worse is the show seemingly goes back-to-back-to-back episodes of fluff where you're left wondering what is going on with the stuff that matters. At the same time the show thrives on innovative plot lines (I especially liked the ones that were actually relevant to the plot points). Vince has a relationship for once and you see him in a different way - showing that Vince can play self centered and selfish in a different way. Not to be left out, Eric has a new confidence (after a few episodes) that makes his interactions with Ari funnier than before. The addition of Lloyd is great too - his personality and acting is much better than the character of Emily and the humor he brings is far away a solid addition. At the same time the character growth of Turtle and Drama actually disappoints me. As the show is established, Turtle is a near incompetent wastrel who you love for his heart and kindness while the addition of the Saigon plot line begins to change the former and his comic factor drops like a rock. Drama as well is situated as a has been actor who's whining and audition miscues as well as his temper after failure are supposed to make us laugh, but when he quits moping and starts auditioning, he isn't so funny anymore. Luckily the writing, for the most part, stays strong and the situations the guys are in are still funny and cool, and that alone can keep the show going - even if Drama is playing straight up, the idea that he was up for CSI: Minneosota is pretty funny in itself.


Just buy it, no questions asked.

If you liked this show, watch...
...Entourage, Season 1
...House, MD

La femme Nikita...more femme than Nikita

La Femme Nikita - Luc Besson - 1990 - 7/10


The movie opens as a gang of punks, including Nikita (Anne Parillaud) is about to rip off a store. They are interrupted, the police come and after a bloody shootout, Nikita is the only one left over. She is arrested, tried, found guilty, and sentenced to life in prison. She freaks out though when men come to apparently give her a lethal injection. She awakes shortly thereafter to be told that her death was faked and she now is under some government agency that wants to train her as an agent. After a rocky start, and three years of training in weapons, hand-to-hand combat, computers, seduction, and more, Nikita is unleashed on the world. She is given the alias of Marie and the codename of Josephine and given assignments. She tries to get a life back together and soon falls in love with Marco (Jean-Hughes Anglade). Her life seems to be going fine until the agency starts forcing more and more assignments on her, as the assignments begin to consumer her, Marco begins to suspect that his love is not a hospital worker...


I hold Luc Besson to a pretty high standard because I love "The Professional" and "The Fifth Element" among others of his. That being said, at the end of the movie it was hard for me to believe that Luc Besson wrote this movie. I thought about it a little more, and realized that "The Professional" took a similar pattern/formula. That movie at least executed - giving you the money action sequences when you wanted them. Nikita however, just never delivers. Much of the movie is taken up with the training montages and all that. Then I kept looking at the movie time waiting for it to build something, one mission to go wrong. But mission after mission goes by - and they aren't even interesting or action-packed. What you're left with is a romantic love story, largely driven by a great performance by Anglade. That brings up another thing - Besson had the good sense to cast Natalie Portman in "The Professional" and Mila Jovovich in "The Fifth Element," but Parillaud just doesnt make a whole lot of sense to me. Sure, she can act, but she's simply not hot enough for Nikita. Which brings me to the seduction training - this was pretty pointless when Nikita NEVER exploits this - there was never some mission along the way where she has to seduce some drunken guard or pretend to be a call girl to get in to take out a hit. Hell, I even get that in "Goldeneye" and "Mr and Mrs Smith." These examples are just the tip of the iceberg and elucidate the point I mentioned earlier - the movie wastes the great potential this movie had.


If it's on TV, you might as well watch it.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...The Professional
...Run Lola Run
...The Bourne Identity

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Poseidon...great sea God [movie]

Posiedon - Wolfgang Petersen - 2006 - 8/10


The movie follows the lives of a few people on the humongous cruise ship Poseidon on New Year's Eve. What awaits them shortly after New Years is worse than anything John McClane ever had to face. Dylan Johns (Josh Lucas) is a professional gambler on the boat to fleece drunk New Years goers. Robert Ramsey (Kurt Russell) is a former Mayor of New York City on board with his daughter Jennifer (Emmy Rossum) and her fiancee Christian (Mike Vogel). Richard Nelson (Richard Dreyfuss) is an architect on board to drown his woes over his lover spurning him for a younger man. Maggie James (Jacinda Barrett) is on board with her son Conor to celebrate New Years in style. Mia Maestro plays a poor women trying to get back to New York City to visit her dieing brother and Johnny Drama, err, Kevin Dillon plays Lucky Larry an all around asshole. After what the captain describes as a 'rogue wave' flips the boat over, Dylan desides he would prefer to set out on his own and try to escape through the ship's bottom than take his chances with the captain's plan of waiting in the main ballroom. Conor overhears Dylan's plan and bugs his mom to go with them. Richard overhears the plan as well and pipes in that being an achitect, he doesn't think the ship will stay afloat upside down. Robert Ramsey joins in that he wants to go with to find his daughter, who is lost somewhere on a different floor. The rest are attracted by the prospect of survival. They have to climb over elevator shafts, through vents, hold their breath through multiple balasts, get past's not easy.


I'll be honest, the title of this article is atrocious, I had no pun to even try working in to the title. Quite frankly, this movie benefits from what hurt "A Scanner Darkly" was hindered by - after hearing how bad this movie was, this movie greatly exceeded expectations. After hearing how horrible this movie was - and taking a glance at imdb message boards where this movie weathered a savage beating from some posters. But more to the point, the movie was really good. It was exciting and original (granted, it was a remake), and it kept me going. It seemed like the movie took a page out of Die Hard - lots of obstacles and they were suprisingly realistic. Everything they did, from the elevator crossing to the ballasts was actually possible. Granted, people are going to gripe about how it was impossible for a boat to flip over and yadda yadda yadda. I dont care. The original was basically the same and everyone loved it, why cant you look past the boat flipping over deal and realize that the movie was actually pretty realistic. Most of what I said above is rambling nonsense. But the movie looked great - great direction by Petersen to keep the shots fast and brief and create the type of panic people should be facing if the viewer had been in the same situation. The dialogue is pretty sharp too - somewhat humorous and you learn about a lot of characters in a little time, and this movie does a pretty solid job with character development. All in all, a pleasant suprise.


Tell the critics to shut up and buy this sucker.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...Die Hard
...The Day After Tomorrow
...The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

Back in Black

Over the weekend I saw a DVD of some of AC/DC's live shows. Man, they were good. Real good. Not just musically - they all can really do their shit - but also the show they put on. And they are fun to watch - Angus is going crazy in his school uniform and Brian Johnson is strutting around in his beret and the music is Rocking.

So I thought to myself. WHERE IS AC/DC? A band that was known for its incessant touring...why aren't they cashing in on the vibe they generated in the last two or three years as their playback on Classic Rock stations earned them a new generation of fans. They BELONG in front of modern audiences.

Groups like Jet are really just broke-ass versions of AC/DC - selling reccords off of basically recycled AC/DC rifts. AC/DC deserves a little love.

And then when it comes down to it, I think I deserve a little AC/DC love. I'm tired of paying sixty bucks to see these modern radio sensations try to play their drivel through shoddy speakers and the group knows little or nothing about sound - and the result is that you paid sixty bucks to watch some young punks stand there and pump out noise you can barily hear. And they don't have any songs that are even close to AC/DC's hits - or AC/DC's filler, and even if you don't like the AC/DC song, the show they put on is going to be a hell of a lot better.

So AC/DC, please come back.

REVIEW: Stadium Arcadium

Stadium Arcadium: Jupiter - The Red Hot Chili Peppers - Rick Rubin - 2006 - 10/10
Stadium Arcadium: Mars - The Red Hot Chili Peppers - Rick Rubin - 2006 - 10/10

RHCP continues moving to where they were headed after 2002's "By the Way," except a difference is clearly evident. "By the Way" marked the beginning of a trend towards a more mature RHCP - from their music to their performances and Stadium Arcadium continues that trend, finishing as a well polished, modern rock album. While the Peppers are at the top of their game, some credit has to go to Rubin who has the Peppers turning in a sharply clean, clear sound. From the first single, "Dani California," the album hits the ground running, and it runs for a long time, as the double album features fourteen tracks on each disk, with each song averaging over four minutes. The confidence the Peppers are playing at seaps through their music and its easy to tell that they have a new level of comfort with their band mates as Frusciante plays with them for a third album with the Peppers. The songwriting moves in a new direction too, sure there are some classic Peppers lines of somewhat lewd descriptions of foreplay, but for the most part, each band member contributes some of their lives to these tracks as Anthony Kiedis sings about marriage, love, loss, family, and more, but generally more mature themes. Makes some sense too, as the Peppers, and a good deal of their audience, are getting older. Have no fear die hard fans, you have at least one song in the vein of true Peppers classics on each disc - "Hump De Bump" on Jupiter and "Readymade" on Mars. But any changes or growth in the Peppers shouldn't frieghten fans - they simply are playing better, their rifts are sharper, more catchy, and the lyrics and production follow to produce one of their best albums. They still name check more states and places than any other band, throw in their odd bit of churlish humor we all love and rub their own style into it all.

I'll admit, when I first heard that they were going to put out a double album, shortly after they had released a Greatest Hits album, I thought for sure they were done, or at least on their last legs. I could not have been more wrong. Both of these discs are simply AMAZING. When I first got this album I listened to both discs AT LEAST once a day, sometimes more. That's how good it is. Personally, my favorite tracks are "Snow (Hey Oh)" on Jupiter and "Hard to Concentrate" on Mars. "Snow" features a powerful guittar intro in the vein of "Californication," except lighter, and poppier with a catchy chorus and interesting lyrics to think about that uses a similar tempo and pace as "By the Way's" "I Could Die For You" except a little faster. "Hard to Concentrate" has the power and lyrics of "Californication," including the sort of laid back guittar chorus, but the pace and tempo of "By the Way's" "The Zephyr Song." Those are just my absolute favorites, if I had to choose with a gun to my head, but really, it's hard to pick just one. I was lucky enough to see some of these songs live - as they played "Snow," "Dani California," "Hump De Bump," "Readymade" and "Tell Me Baby" at 2006's Lollapalooza. They were great there too - as the Peppers kept up their energy and heart all the way through, playing those five new songs, five songs from "By the Way" and five of their older songs - thought not "Under the Bridge."

When it comes down to it, this shouldnt even be a question of buying this album or not, it should be whether you're going to listen to it two or three times a day.

REVIEW: Entourage, Season 1

Entourage - Doug Ellin - 2004 - 9/10


The show focuses on two best friends, Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly) and Vincent Chase (Adrien Grenier). Vince, is an up and coming movie star and Eric is his business advisor, earning about $4,000 a month, cash. The two live with their other best friend, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Vince's older brother, a has-been actor, Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon). The series picks up as Vince's first big movie, a suspense popcorn flick with Jessica Alba, "Head On," is about to premier. Herding the boys is Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), Vince's high powered Hollywood super agent. The series follows the ups and downs and the glam of Hollywood life as Vince's entourage rides his fame to fun and fortune. Along the way, they deal with new scripts, bad reviews, talk show drama, opening night, new girlfriends, obsessive stalkers, sherpas, Gary Busey, rival agents, indie movies, controlling directors and entourage-tension.


Easily one of my favorite shows ever. It moves quickly, its very funny, and it has an easy way to victory considering it plays on the fact that everyone wants the life these four guys are living. All the characters in this first season are right on. Connolly's Eric is believable and the preferred protagonist as you see him deal with heartbreak and Vince's ego. Grenier's Vince is player perfectly as a pretty boy from Queens who doesn't know what he's got but seems anxious to lose it. Ferrara's Turtle is funny, often the butt of jokes, yet sympathetic. Dillon's Johnny Drama is a performance a small cut above as he delivers both humor and wisdom playing the older has-been, perhaps a role he knows all too well. Finally, Piven's Ari Gold is nothing short of amazing, a tour de force in ass-hole-Hollywood antics that make you laugh so hard your sides hurt. He is everyone's favorite ass hole, the king of one liners, the fast talker of fast talkers. Along for the ride are several strong supporting members, including Debi Mazar as Shauna, Vince's publicist who does so well in this first season, she is made a cast member for the next two. That still leaves a bunch of solid performances un-talked about, but I'll leave some suspense for you. The show itself is just fun - it makes you feel like one of the entourage as you see them do everything you would want to do if you or one of your friends had made it big. While the season is only 8 episodes, they all pretty much matter, and are important for moving along in Vince's career, and dealing with all of Eric's relationships. That's just the tip of the iceberg, but you should just check it out...


Watch it, every Sunday!

If you liked this show, watch...
...House, M.D.

Second rant...concert tickets

I was just thinking about how much I missed going to concerts and I had this powerful urge to jump on tickemaster and start looking for some tickets. Once there I realized that my desire to go to a concert was just not great enough to fork over about $70 for the actual ticket and about $15 to ticketmaster for "handling fees."

I guess everything is more expensive these days, but $85 is a LOT of money - especially for kids, who, it seems to me, would be the largest target audience. Who can just drop 85 bucks at the drop of a hat anymore? I know I can't.

As I thought about it though, I began to realize that the problem wasn't JUST the cost, but it was also the musicians themselves. It's one thing to drop $80 for the Rolling Stones, but when they're asking about that much to see Tool (this is just an example, I would never even entertain going to see Tool), it starts to get you down. For me personally, I realized that there are few artists I would even want to pay more than $60 for. Sure, I did that for The Red Hot Chili Peppers and I thought it was well worth it, but that's probably one of the few I'm willing to fork over a bunch of money for.

I dont know, hit me back with artists you think are worth $60+

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Scanner Darkly...more waiting than scanning

A Scanner Darkly - Richard Linklater - 2006 - 4/10


Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves) is an undercover cop trying to milk information out of his "girlfriend" Donna Hawthorne (Winona Ryder) who supposedly has connections to distributors of "Substance D," or Substance Death. Substance D is a red pill drug that is extremely addictive, described as "you've either tried it, or you haven't." Arctor lives with two buddies, also heavy users of Substance D, James Barris (Robert Downey Jr.) and Ernie Luckman (Woody Harrelson). Barris is a fast talking "engineer" if you will who is constantly tinkering with things while he is not spewing paranoid hyperboles or fighting with Ernie. Their other friend Charles Freck (Rory Cochrane) is a heavy addict who starts to see bugs crawling all over him, consuming him and causing him to scratch himself like crazy. Things start to heat up for Arctor when a source comes to the agency and tells them that Arctor is a high up in the distribution game and begins to bring them evidence. Unsure exactly what to do, Arctor is forced to monitor...himself.


I'll be honest, its hard for me to write this critique without some pretty intense spoilers, so if you dont want to read those, you should stop here.

Okay. Perhaps I should explain my low rating, that put this movie dangerously close to "The Producers." Quite frankly, I had high expectations for this movie and it just did not deliver. I spent the whole movie waiting for something to happen, anything really. After "Blade Runner" and "Minority Report," not to mention "Total Recall," I expected some serious action. Or at least some of the suspense that "Blade Runner" a cult classic. Instead, the movie barily keeps itself afloat with unconnected scenes that are sometimes humorous. The movie is literally driven by Robert Downey Jr who's Barris is the only interesting character to watch (Cochrane's Freck is close behind). Perhaps I should be chiding myself for being so suprised that even in an animated movie Keanu Reeves turns in a flat, cardboard performance vastly outshined by Robert Downey. The movie DID manage to mute some of Winona Ryder's hotness and her sex appeal is nonexistent. While we're talking about the animation - come on, this movie was described by some critics as the dawn of a new era in animation, that live capture, or whatever it was called could replace actors. Frankly, it was uninspiring. The person next to me kept asking, "why is the movie animated," and there just is not an answer. Pretty much everything they did could have been done in live action without losing anything. Not only did the movie not have any legs, nothing in it really did either. At the end I'm left wondering about several key things, did Freck kill himself? Did Donna love him? Did he love Donna? Is Donna going to live with him after, like she said, in the mountains? Did Arctor have a family before? If so, what happened to them? And then, when you think about those questions, you kick yourself because you dont really care. None of the characters really made any effort for you to care about them.


Watch some other "new era" movies

If you liked this movie, watch...
...The Matrix
...Blade Runner
...Waking Life

Jarhead...simply put

Jarhead - Sam Mendes - 2005 - 8/10


Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal) becomes the third Swofford to enlist in the Marines and the movie follows him from boot camp to war. Try to think of the training scenes in "Full Metal Jacket" and follow that up with the serious scenes of "Three Kings" and you might have a rough idea of what to expect. You would still be wrong. The movie is a gritty portrayal of the Marines, from their training as STA Snipers by Staff Sgt. Sykes (Jamie Foxx) to their deployment in the Gulf War. The Marines are trained to face the elements, to not be afraid of live fire (something one Marine learns the hard way), how to shoot and adjust for wind, how to take a shot without hesitation, how to wage war...The Marines are not just trained automons though. This movie gives them a realistic portrait - vulgar yet scared - swearing, watching porn, hazing, drinking, smoking, doing everything they should be doing. Swofford worries that his girlfriend back home won't actually wait for him, and sees how the Corps can ruin the relationships of other Marines. After an intense training sequence that would make "Full Metal Jacket" proud, the troop is deployed to the Gulf War where they see no action and have trouble dealing with the dangers of war and the feelings of inadequacy and helplessness of staying in camp, their jobs done by fighter pilots.


All the references to solid movies above should be evidence enough that I think this movie is really good. The characters, espeically Peter Sarsgaard as Troy, are really good. Sam Mendes really shows his ability to make different pictures, as this movie is drastically different than "American Beauty" and "Road to Perdition." At the same time, the strong themes of lust in Beauty and family in Peridition are continued in Jarhead with comraderie and self purpose. The only thing the movie can't quite finish on is the ending. Nothing near as strong as the two Mendes movies I just mentioned. Instead you have the high of the movie capped by an anti-climatic and confusing finish that doesnt really "get it done" and hammer Mendes' message home.


Definitely actively try to see it.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...Full Metal Jacket
...Three Kings
...Road to Perdition

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Spiderman 3...climbing to the top

Spiderman 3 - Sam Raimi - 2007 - 7/10


New York has finally embraced Spiderman (Tobey Maguire) and Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) feels he is ready to ask for Mary Jane's (Kirsten Dunst) hand in marriage. Things quickly spiral out of hand when a new Green Goblin emerges with the intent to murder Spiderman. Peter's world is turned upside down when the police inform his aunt and him that the murderer of Uncle Ben was really Flint Marko (Thomas Hayden Church). After Spiderman saves the life of the police chief's daughter, Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard), Mary Jane becomes jealous when Spiderman kisses Gwen. To make things even more confusing for Peter, a strange substance has bonded with him, changing his suit from the friendly red and blue to black, darkening Peter's personality as well. Flint Marko comes out of hiding too, although after an accident with a genetic realignment device he has the ability to take any shape with sand as he comes into his own as the Sandman. As Peter slowly changes, his world around him changes as he unintentionally hurts all those around him he must grapple with his uneasy friendship with Harry Osborne (James Franco) and the new photographer, Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) who is threatening Peter's standing with J Jonah Jameson (JK Simmons) at the Daily Buggle. Which suit will Peter choose? Will he win Mary Jane back? Can he ever be friends with Harry? Can he bring Flint Marko to justice?


Overall I thought the movie was really good but I would put it a small step back from Spiderman 1 - which I rate around an 8. I thought the fight scenes were amazing. No other way to say it. I'm not sure any comic book movie comes close to these action scenes. This is the way I think Spiderman should fight. And fighting someone like the Green Goblin who has the goblin gas modified body type, it makes sense and makes for good fighting. But the movie has more than just good action scenes - the acting was really good too. James Franco totally steals the show - alternating his emotions between revenge, love, friendship, hate...Bryce Dallas Howard as a good new addition and Topher Grace makes for a great Eddie Brock who deserved a lot more screen time. Where this movie could have gotten a lot better was without Sandman. He was a cool villain bu he took away from the other storylines and his whole revenge-forgiveness message could have been better accomplished without him. Smaller things really did the movie in as possible modes of tension were erased with minutes of cheesy dialogue amounting to near deus-ex-machina type rescues for shoddy script writing. The news reports Raimi shows in key action sequences takes away from the power of the action scene and clutters the movie with camp.

What I Want to See in Spiderman 4:

Hopefully Tobey and Raimi will come back for a fourth film and really do something special. I would LOVE it if they found a way for Mary Jane to not be in the next movie (say she went to hollywood to pursue a film career). I would definitely want to see the lizard and then maybe another genetics type villain like the scorpion. But when it comes down to it, I think I would settle for carnage (he seems most likely). What would really make the movie great though is some villain where Peter needs the help of Dr Conors, both as a scientist and as the Lizard. Without Mary Jane to slow him down, I'd love to see peter have to decide between Gwen and Brandt - that would really give the movie some flavor, and maybe even attract more female viewers.


Its a summer popcorn flick that you need to see!

If you liked this movie, watch...
...X-Men 2
...The Phantom

An extended review can be found at SaltyStix.

Hollywoodland...very super

Hollywoodland - Allen Coulter - 2006 - 8/10


A down on his luck private eye, Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) begins to investigate the death of George Reeves (Ben Affleck). Desperate for any job that can get his name in the papers, an old friend tosses Simo a bone and he goes to see Reeves' mother, who is convinced her son did not commit suicide as the LAPD have concluded. At first desperate for money and fame, Simo quickly becomes intrigued by the suspiscious nature of Reeves' death. The multiple bullet holes, a gun without finger prints, the fiancee calling 911 45 minutes late...the list goes on. Soon Simo is hot on the trail of several different suspects, begginning with Leonore Lemmon (Robin Turney), Reeves' fiancee who is more alone and more desperate for money than Simo is. Feeling the wind blowing in another direction and after some heavy hands force Simo to consider other suspects with greater clout, Simo uncovers Reeve's connections to Toni and Eddie Mannix (Diane Lane and Bob Hoskins). Reeves had ended a long term affair with Toni for the much younger Leonore, devestating Toni. And Eddie is scene as the plotting, jealous husband. Who could have done it? Is there a murderer to be found? Disgusted by the corruption and power of the new Hollywood(land), Simo is inspired by his son's obsession with Reeves' Superman and the desire to prove to his ex wife (Molly Parker) that this time, he's really onto a big case.


The movie is an extremely well executed film noir, one that would make James Ellroy proud. All of the actors turn in excellent performances - especially Ben Affleck and Adrien Brody. Here, Affleck finally comes into his own, playing a brooding actor, bitter about his lack of success and the typecasting that kept him out of films. Brody is even better as a lonely man who lost everything in one fell swoop who cant figure out how to get his life on track as the cases he takes serve to further unravel his life. The movie is driven by these performances as Brody's detective work is intwined with the background of Reeves' rise and fall as Superman. If the movie is hampered by anything, its reality. Unlike similar movies that explore famous murders, say the recent Zodiac, for example, this movie tells the story of a man who everyone determined, had committed suicide. There is not any information lieing around or loose ends from which to sculpt a hollywood movie here, like the vague details of the Zodiac killer, instead you have an actor who shot himself. Knowing that Simo's investigation ultimately did not dispel this conclusion, takes a mode of tension off the film. Additionally, the relationship between Simo and his ex wife, Simo and his son, Simo and his partner, and Simo and his new girlfriend could have really spiced the movie up. There could have been some interesting parallels to the relationships Reeves' had, or at least something to generate more tension of the unknown. Simo's life story is fungible, Reeve's is not. The movie tries to go there by showing the jealous outbreaks of Simo toward his girlfriend as well as Toni's oubtreak against Reeves, but its just not enough.


An underrated, must-see gem.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...The Black Dahlia


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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Million Dollar Baby...title contender

Million Dollar Baby - Clint Eastwood - 2004 - 9/10


Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) owns a fighter's gym and occassionally manages special fighters, aided by Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris (Morgan Freeman). Into the gym walks thirty-two year old Maggie Fitzgerald (Hillary Swank), determined to learn how to fight, and she wants the best - Frankie. Frankie refuses, at first because he doesn't want to train a girl, and then because he doesn't want to manage. But one night changes that all and soon Frankie is managing Maggie. Through all Frankie's advice - "always protect yourself" and all of Maggie's heart, the two grow close. Haunted by his inability to stop a fight a close friend was on, Frankie often avoids putting his fighters in harms way, something Eddie accuses him of "lacking confidence" in his fighters. Finally Frankie makes a choice, and as the movie unfolds he battles with whether he made the right choice.


As usual, Clint's movie is amazing. A fairly original take on boxing movies and sports movies in general. Based on three short stories though, it is very clear where the story comes apart in three pieces. Written by Paul Haggis, the dialogue is suprisingly laid back, yet sometimes sharp at points. While I knew Clint was sometimes prone to overdramatization, like in Mystic River and Blood Work, the movie dragged on in parts, especially the ending. People usually say that a good novel has a plot turn every five pages. I think the same can be, and should be applied to movies, that a plot turn (or just a new development) should occur every five to ten minutes. Million Dollar Baby reached a critical turning point and sort of planed out for the last half hour. It spent that time leading to a plot turn that had largely been fore shadowed and forecast and seemed to be a force choice for the maker of that decision. That half hour made the movie run on, and that time took away from development earlier that could have really pushed this movie over the top.


Must see it - if you watch it late at night, maybe you'll fall asleep before the last half hour.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...Cinderella Man
...Boys Don't Cry

Y tu mama translation needed

Y tu mama tambien - Alfonso Cuaron - 2001 - 8/10


Tenoch (Diego Luna) and Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal) are best friends living the rich socialite life in Mexico City while, as Cuaron likes to remind us, many are not. The movie opens with them giving a very pleasant goodbye to their girlfriends who are going to spend the summer in Italy. Bored and with little to do, the boys are saved when at a fancy wedding at Tenoch's house they meet Luisa (Maribel Verdu), the wife of one of Tenoch's cousins. Almost obsessive about her beauty they try to impress her with stories of an unbelievable beach, the Heaven's Mouth. As each of their lives begin to move in different directions Luisa calls Tenoch and tells him she wants to go with them, to the beach. The call sets off a weird chain reaction that sends the three of them on a long ride, not just to the beach, but in search of their inner souls.


I think this movie is almost flawless. Perfectly cast, great story, amazingly sharp dialogue. The biggest problem is actually Cuaron. Don't get me wrong, I think the guy is a great director. But his intention to salt his movie with a political message in the form of off-topic voiceovers that are supposed to show the gritty reality of Mexico City largely annoy me. It's one thing to try to work in some politics into your movies, but the way he does it is upseting. Unfoortunately, Cuaron also uses these voiceovers to "help" the viewer into the minds of the characters. Sometimes this works, but other times, when it is used to tell character's backgrounds and wrap things up nicely in lieu of chracter interaction/dialogue on screen, it falls flat. This becomes particularly annoying in the ending when a somewhat predictable, yet dramatic ending is spoiled by the voice of Cuaron's narrator once again.


Despite the one blemish mentioned above, this near perfect movie is a must-see.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...Motorcycle Diaries
...Sex and Lucia
...Amores Perros

Pirates 3...lots of gold

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - Gore Verbinski - 2007 - 5/10


Where to begin. Right where the second one left off. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is presumed dead, or at least in some quasi purgatory at the end of the world. The rest of the gang, led by Elizabeth (Kiera Knoghtley), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Captain Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) need to convince the powerful Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun Fat) to help them get to Jack. After that its everyone for themselves, on screen and off.


I love this story. I love these characters. I even think I could love Gore Verbinski. BUT...much of this movie makes little sense. There it is, straight up. Three hours long and most of that time is left you trying to figure out confusing doublecrosses, seemingly out of the blue sacrifices all amidst non stop action. I'll pause form laying it on this movie and say, that the action was really good. Good sea-fighting scenes, intense swordfighting, very good melee scenes (just like the other two movies) and lots of hilarity. Yet it's really not enough. Despite going into this movie with low expectations, I came away extremely disappointed. I just could not figure out what was happening. Characters made deals and bargains with characters so frequently and so quickly it was hard to keep track of what was going on. Then you chalk up the fact that any plotline, character, weapon, or object that was mentioned in passing in the first two movies had a pretty good shot of coming back for this movie. Characters seemed different in this movie as well, previously unique character traits wattered down in the first movie are now entirely gone. Even the villains are moderated in this installment as Davy Jones is literally given heart and our evil East India Company instigator is shown to be a man who simply had a dream. Corniness abounds, as to be expected, but as mentioned previously, the end result does not make you forgiving. Sure, you knew this was going to be a popcorn flick, but you can't give the movie a free pass.


Does it matter? Just like everyone else in America, you HAVE to see this movie.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
...Cutthroat Island

An extended review can be found at SaltyStix.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The in a writer's holiday

The Holiday - Nancy Meyers - 2006 - 5/10


The movie opens with high profile LA movie trailer designer Amanda (Cameron Diaz) breaking up with Ethan (Edward Burns) and being pretty upset, yet unable to cry about Ethan's fairly accurate assessment of her inability to have a genuine relationship. We then see a furiously typing Iris (Kate Winslet), a writer for the London Daily Telegraph crying over an old office love who is newly engaged. Amanda jumps online and finds Iris and they agree to swap houses for two weeks over Christmas. Thank god they found each other so quickly! And that they agreed to hand their houses over to strangers! And that they somehow got keys! But I'll save the critique for later. Amanda finally finds Iris' cute little cottage and is going out of her mind with boredom when Iris' brother Graham (Jude Law) shows up on her door drunk. Being a romantic comedy and the fact that both Jude Law and Cameron Diaz are too attractive to just hold reserved conversations, they soon find themselves falling in love. Back in the states Iris ends her moping to answer the door to welcome Miles (Jack Black), Ethan's friend who came to pick up his stuff. Miles, like Graham, is intrigued by the strange women in front of him and finds a way to bump into her again. You can probably figure out the rest. The only amusing bright spot is Arthur (Eli Wallach), an old screenwriting legend Iris discovers and learns a great deal from.


I guess I started this a little early (see above). But really, the movie was very trying at times. For starters, it was a pretty predictable romantic comedy that checked in around 136 minutes! That's pretty long! That's because Nancy Meyers got aggressive and thought she could easily execute two storylines with four lead actors. What she should have done is pick and choose her stories and actors so we dont end up with half of one and half of another. I basically see the movie as two small movies. The Cameron Diaz-Jude Law plot is a decent drama movie - okay character development where people deal with serious issues. The Kate Winslet-Jack Black plot is a basic romantic comedy with all the trappings. Whereas we get to know Cameron and Jude because they outright talk about themselves, we have to assume a lot about Kate and Jack. Cameron and Jude have all the serious talks, while Kate and Jack share all the cute walks. What's even more frustrating is despite this split you sitll dont know what makes Cameron tick and you sure as hell don't know why Kate and Jack are good for each other. Come to think of it, you know next to nothing about Jack. Another thing, after checking to see if Nancy Meyers wrote "Bridget Jones" (she didnt), I've decided that Nancy Meyers must have really wanted to - because Kate Winslet's storyline is sickeningly similar, almost a carbon copy. The mannerism are similar, her obsessive love even looks like Hugh Grant! By the time all of these things start to stack up, you really start to watch the clock - you know where the movie is going, you know how its going to end...but alas, it just won't end. Speaking of endings, Meyers even manages to botch this ending. I would have thought this quite difficult, but she bungles it quite nicely (I won't give anything away, but seriously, Cameron's character really wouldn't have gotten away with that shit if I was in the kitchen...well, I guess if she looked like Cameron, maybe she would have). Thank God for Jack Black - even in a constrained romantic comedy he shouts out, gets through and makes you laugh. The same goes for Eli Wallach's character who really adds some depth to this movie - depth that could have been further explored if there werent two storylines going on.


If romantic comedies are your thing, and this is on tv, you might want to watch it.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...Bridget Jones's Diary
...High Fidelity
...Love Actually

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Family Stone...rolling over in the grave

The Family Stone - Thomas Bezucha - 2005 - 4/10


Sybil and Kelly Stone (Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson) has their eldest son, Everett (Dermot Mulroney) and his fiance Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) over for Christmas and the whole family, including their deaf brother Thad (Tyrone Giordano), laid backbrother Ben (Luke Wilson), and their baby sister Amy (Rachel McAdams). Simply put the family thinks Sarah Jessica Parker isnt right for Everett because she's too tense - because she is - and they give her a hard time. She gets upset, panics, has her sister Julie (Claire Danes) come in to giver her some support. Meredith ends up going drinking with Ben and Amy's ex boyfriend while a worried Everett goes looking for Meredith with her sister Julie. Everything comes to a head on Christmas when Meredith starts to come to grips with her drunken night before and a confused Everett gets into an argument with his dad and his brother, and Amy gets to watch, for awhile, until she gets a suprise.


Where to begin. My most basic complaint is that the movie is basically a family-ized rip off of "Beautiful Girls," except the relationships hardly make sense and the characters execute inconsistent dialogue as the writers cant decide to go all in on the life changing power of "Beautiful Girls" or trying to go for easy embarassing jokes in the vein of "Meet the Parents" - except they try to be serious at the same time, destroying any attempt to actually make you laugh. The drama seems forced and predictable - you know what the characters are going to do and you know what they're going to say before they say it.


If someone will pay you $9 to see this, then itd probably be okay

If you liked this movie, watch...
...Beautiful Girls
...Rumor Has It
...In Her Shoes

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sideways...all around excellent

Sideways - Alexander Payne - 2004 - 10/10


Miles (Paul Giamatti) is an English teacher trying to get his novel published and Jack (Thomas Hayden Church) is his best friend about to get married. Together they embark on a journey through California's wine establishment for one last week of fun. Jack is intent on getting laid while Miles is freaking out about the book deal his agent has promised. Miles knows Maya (Virginia Madsen), a waitress, from previous visits north. When she's obviously into him, Jack gets annoyed when Miles does nothing. That's when they meet Maya's friend Stephanie (Sandra Oh), a wine store clerk Jack has the hots for. The four of them drink wine, hang out and well, you can figure out the rest. Things get complicated as Jack becomes more and more involved in Stephanie even as his wedding approaches and Miles cant handle the pressure of covering for his friend and pretending he's not worried about his book deal. The movie is about people, and life, and wine and book deals just serve as a clever analogy for things everyone faces as they get older.


The movie was extremely insightful and very realistic. The four actors turn in a tour de force - each delivering a powerful performance in their own way. Paul Giamatti with his carefully honed character actor's performance in the body of a leading man. Thomas Hayden Church uses the real life similarities of an actor who has been forced to work commercial voice overs. Virginia Madsen spins her tail of a woman sturggling to better herself yet passionate about her whine. Sandra Oh throws in a performance as a woman completely caught up in Church's charms. The movie is all about the actors, just like life is all about the people. Some of the scenes seem too long, but that's the way life is - long and belabored. It also got a little long as there seemed to be a lot of times when the movie could have ended, but then aagin, life has a lot those points, times when things could go in a different direction.


If you're in the mood for excellence, it's worth it.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...Lost in Translation
...Annie Hall
...American Splendor

Sunday, May 20, 2007

First rant...chic movies

I just got finished watching "She's the Man" and after thinking it over for awhile, I realized the movie was actually pretty good. It would have been a hell of a whole lot better if it hadn't been trapped in the box/lines of Disney movies. If you think about it, there arent really any movies that are rated R that are really "for girls".

Guys get trash like American Pie and all that that are thin on pretty much everything and then just chock full of sexuality and nudity. I'm not saying the answer is to follow that formula and give us a chick flick full of full frontal male nudity. But there has to be some way.

I'll admit, that the reason there arent many R-rated girl movies is because the large female audience is mostly little girls who watch the Disney channel, hence all the movies are the same. But there has to be some sort of middle ground.

What I want to see is "She's the Man" with real teeth. For instance, the movie is a pretty thinly veiled female version of "Sorority Boys." And that movie was better not just because of the nudity, or the Elizabeth Banks' shower scenes (those did help) but because the movie could take off the kiddie gloves and make some real jokes. Most of the time the jokes were pretty lame flatuence or homosexual jokes but just every once in awhile there was a pretty humorous joke that didnt have to be falsely executed in kiddie speak.

I know this seems to be a pointless rant, but when you really think about it, most of these movies have decent unknown actors and actresses - much better than the unknowns that the American Pie style movies draw in. So these movies have the tools to be decent movies. They have SOME hope. We just need to help them along a little.

About us

Basiclaly this is just a place for me to put up my thoughts and opinions about movies, music and more. Sometimes I'll rant, sometimes I won't.

I would hope my attempt at humor - the name of the site needs little explanation. It's merely a simple step from Pulp Fiction to Pulp Everything. The word Pulp was mostly just slang for whatever was written to appeal to the public. My hopes as well...

Friday, May 18, 2007


Clueless - Amy Heckerling - 1995 - 5/10


Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) is a Beverly Hills high schooler living the high life - including a closet that picks out matching outfits for her and the use of a jeep despite the fact that she doesnt even have a license. Her best friend Dionne (Stacey Dash) decide to makeover new girl Tai (Brittany Murphy) so they can make her popular and hook her up with the school hunk Elton (Jeremy Sisto). Just like most of her makeovers, there's a lot in this for Cher - she wants to feel like she's doing something for the good of humanity. Along for the ride is Paul Rudd who play's Cher's step brother, or brother of some sort who has to bail Cher out of all sorts of troubles. Things get out of hand when Elton breaks Tai's heart when he puts the moves on Cher, and a heartbroken Tai interprets Josh's kindness for love and affection.


The movie is suprisingly intelligent - all of the characters exhibit an almost unrealistic command of the English language, but that's just enjoyable, especially when you're expecting incompetence. The movie hits the ground running and piles on some easy early jokes and does pretty decent character development for an early 90's teen comedy. Yet the movie lags in the middle when Cher's character goes through transformation. And a problem that should seemingly give Cher great pause gets about three seconds of screen time. The possible conflict that could have resulted from the resolution of that problem, either way, doesn't even materialize. Girls don't fall in and out of love that easily and even if they didn't, they're not okay with their girlfriends swooping in to steal their boy toy. The ending disappoints to, collecting everything together in a Disney sort of way for a movie that was trying to exude an MTV sort of feel.


If it's on TV, you should watch it.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...10 Things I Hate About You
...Mean Girls
...Legally Blonde
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